The Hangover

In one short line; my 73 day old Dell laptop cannot connect to the wireless internet. On a  very short note (you can contact me for the very long story); the last 20 days have been so frustrating because my laptop has been completely useless and astoundingly frustrating to a level that made me consider taking anger management classes. You see, a laptop that cannot access internet is worse than a T.V. that at least gives you 40 different channels.

This led me to realize that I haven’t gone without a computer for 10 years now. It took me back to the time when we had the Intel P3 desktop at home, the one that made a “kkksshh gggrrr pepepe” noise to connect to the internet via the BSNL land phone. And then, on to the time when I a had a very contented life with no e-mail, internet, computer, and/or a cell phone.

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I never slept well on May 31st nights. Every year, for 12 long years. About six of those nights were dreadfully teary as I did not want to leave ‘home sweet home’ and go back to school. The rest of them were spent in silent excitement to get back to the ‘real home’. Back then I was either too love struck or innocent to analyze the reason behind this feeling, all the way through 1991-2003.

Perhaps everyone who went to Primary School would agree with me on this. On being everything close to an ashram, this school was where I spent the 12 most valuable years of my life.

From the days when we all looked up at Sangeetha ma’am and were sure that she was the most beautiful teacher on earth to the days where Sashi ma’am caught us, big girls, for bunking darshan breakfast and milk, every monotonous day is worth reminiscing.

We had to write a letter to our parents every Saturday. Our class teacher would come into the class, distribute post cards, and write a letter on the board. We diligently copied away the letter, along with the drawing she made us reproduce on the back of the postcard. I moved from the yellow postcard to the blue inland letter, and from copying letters from the board to writing my own ones. It always bothered me that we couldn’t send or receive letters at our disposal, without them being invigilated by our class teacher. This obviously meant that we couldn’t write what we wanted to, all the time. Now I am not answerable to any teacher and can write what I want, when I want to. Nobody makes me sit down on a Saturday afternoon to write a letter.

Why is it that I wish that someone did so, and made me write that letter my dad has been asking me to write for over five years now?

Although letters were the main medium of communicating with the outside world, we were allowed to talk on the biscuit color landline phone sometimes. Those were the days when calling from Parthi to Anantapur was considered local. Oftentimes, I sneaked into the office when nobody was watching and treated myself to calling my home. Girls who wanted to talk to their parents came up to me and asked me to call my mom and ask her to call their parents and inform them that their daughter wanted them to give her a ring. This was an adventure that required Manorathi ma’am’s absence. The sneaking, the fear, having a bodyguard wait outside the office room and watch out for predators from the staff room just to use the damn phone seemed ridiculous then.

Why is it that now I have unrestricted and unlimited access to my cell phone and yet cannot make decent time to talk with my family?

In grade 6, during sports time, we had a friend who had a 67 keys Casio keyboard. I remember all our class girls being gaga over the instrument like little eager birds ready to try and fly for the very first time. We “caught places” to play, begged the keyboardist of our class to teach us a tune, and fought with the each other to practice these tunes. The only tune we knew to play was “Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam” and we felt like Mozart when we played it. We used to be scared chickens who played on very very low volume since film songs weren’t allowed in school. I had vowed back then, when I was 12 years old, that I would buy myself the very same 67 keys Casio keyboard with the latest sound system, and turn into the great keyboardist of my time. And I did, the buying a keyboard part, I mean.

Why is my keyboard lying at some remote corner in the house, begging me to at least wipe off the dust it has accumulated?

Chocolates were a rare thing, ice creams and cool drinks too. We got to eat chocolates every Sunday, at lunch. We prayed, every Saturday, that H.M was in the mood for some pizza and not the brown egg-less cake and that Rajni ma’am would make the delicious square shaped pizza with nothing but onions and tomatoes on it. We fought for the strawberry milky-way ice cream bar over the mango one. Choco bar was a distant dream and GoldSpot was the best thing that could happen to you at the end of a week and you sipped on it for two long hours like you wouldn’t live to drink another one. We promised ourselves that we would never drink a glass of milk after the 12th grade and wished Limca had all the calcium we needed to build strong bones. I kept my promise here. My fridge is always loaded with Lindt and Ferrero Rocher, more or less has a pizza and coke from Domino’s Pizza, and occasionally a crate of Smirnoff Ice Flavors.

Why is it that I have the deepest longing for the red, yellow, and green Fanola candy and my heart aches to have an orange tongue from constantly sipping GoldSpot.

Those were the days when we carried around slam books each summer, just before we left school, and took down addresses and phone numbers of our friends. There was no Facebook, Yahoo, or Gmail then. We practically knew the addresses of some of our friends by-heart although we had never visited their homes. P.O Ghoom, Shimpoli Road  Borivali West, Saidabad Colony, Jayanagar etc. We could chant the class attendance order along with each ones date of birth even if you woke us up at midnight.

Why is that I cannot find time for those friends on their birthdays, even with reminders on Facebook?

My definition of heaven was the library, and library aunty was the luckiest woman alive as she got to spend all her days with books. The smell of old books, the hunt for a particular book, the brown chairs with a book stand to your right hand side, the corner where you could forget the entire world while you bury your head into the sea of knowledge and are unaware when the tiffin bell rings, all this for just forty minutes a week wrenched my heart. I had promised myself a room full of books and told myself I could have 24/7 access to it.

Why is it that now a kindle with my favorite collection of books seems less luring than my laptop with a Netflix account?

The pine for sleep. I’m not sure what it was that made us so sleepy all the time. We dozed during suprabhatam, assembly, bhajans, and night prayers. I dreaded those first few minutes in the early morning when Sashi ma’am came into the dormitory, switched on the lights and went ‘oooooooooooooommmm’. Sometimes she tickled our feet to wake us up. I thought that this was the most annoying sound I would ever hear in my life. Alarm clocks went by and now cellphone alarms seem captivating with all their different tunes, and you are even allowed to wake up to your favorite film song.

Why do I wish I had Sashi ma’am barge into my room, wake me up with the annoying “oooooooommmm” chanting and push me into the bathroom to brush? 

Why do birthdays remind me of being the first in the line? Why does chewing gum at work remind me of HM imitating foreign kids who chew gum disrespectfully in front of elders? Why do I miss the things that I was sure I despised, like stone idlies and bullet proof dosas? Why do I feel that the most comfortable couch on earth is the light brown one with silver rods, in the office room? Why do I sometimes secretly wish that I could get a whiff of the stink that came from dhobi clothes? Why do I still wish “Happy donekys birthday” every Jan 10th? Why does the love for a pair of white canvas shoes never die? Why do I still look to buy the steel plate with 4 katoris? Why don’t I feel embarrassed to lift my plate up to drink rasam with the “sluurrrp” sound even though we have guests at home? Why does playing on the elephant slide give me more joy than a roller coaster ride?

You will know what I mean if your answer is a long contented smile (as long as River Nile)

11 thoughts on “The Hangover

  1. Like you, I was also in hostels for about 10 years and share many of such nostalgic moments. In fact, I would like to thank you to remind me of those days…thank you so much and yeah, keep going!! Love your posts!!

  2. Primary school was one of the best things that ever happened to me… My dad still shows me the letters I wrote every week and the report cards that went home every month. In my seven years at Primary, my parents called only once.. I never knew we could make outgoing calls from there. The only thing we were jealous of, was the partiality that HM showed towards girls, esp. 12th std. 🙂 The Ammas were also an integral part and some of them like bullamma, were really so scary. I had to sneak into the dormitory several times without catching her attention.

    • Ha ha. Yes, we could make local calls. But sometimes Manorathi ma’am locked the outgoing calls too. I dreaded her. While boys always thought HM was partial towards big girls, we hated the fact that warden aunty loved you boys.
      Ammas!!! The girls dormitory ammas weren’t bad at all more so cos all the scary ammas were taken (by the boys) 😉

  3. I could remember the roll numbers of all the 60 odd guys, their addresses, their dad’s names, how many siblings each had… Ah…. Sangeeta ma’am was the man-maker (no vulgarity intended)

  4. childhood was the best period in any ones life.those days were golden days. in every letter u wrote 1 sentence i.e I MISS YOU LOT.but now I MISS U LOT MY GLORIOUS daughter.

  5. oye bajji…. wonderfully written! i truly loved ur last sentence and frankly my smile was as long as river Nile…
    miss ur constant chattering!!!

  6. Although I am at the liberty to keep any hair style and no one to tell ‘cut your hair’…. Don’t know why but, I still feel my best in the primary school style hair cut. (full shot)

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