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Author: Shashank Ashok

Girls will be girls

Girls will be girls

One morning, when I was in class 12, I was going to college by my scooter. It was the same, familiar route.

Like everyday, I took a left turn at an accident-prone square, leading to a narrow road. The road was so narrow that it didn’t have a road divider.

When I took the turn, I saw a middle-aged woman driving her Scooty on the wrong side of the road. She wasn’t looking straight ahead as she was checking out the footwear store on the roadside. And she was moving towards me.

Slowing down the scooter, I honked the horn. The moment she saw my scooter at 10 feet, she panicked. Instead of applying her brakes, she accelerated her scooty towards me.

To avoid the collision, I turned right. But she turned to her left, as if she was reluctant to avoid the collision.

Boom! We both fell on the road.

It felt like I was punished for being on the correct side of the road.

Several passers-by helped us get up. Afraid of getting scolded at home, I looked at the scooter first. As expected, its headlight was smashed.

I felt like shouting at the woman. But when I looked at her, she was in pain as she had got some bruises on her arms. I had got bruises too, but I was a young boy.

I was about to ask her if she was okay, when she said:

“You were driving too fast. Is that why your parents gave you a vehicle?”

I was feeling bad for the woman and all she had to offer was ‘sarcasm’.

Me: “No, aunty. You were driving on the wrong side”.

Out of nowhere, three random girls came and started backing her.

One of the girls: “These boys are careless, aunty. They drive as if the entire road belongs to them. And they never accept their mistake”.

My reaction: Who are these girls?

Amid all the accusations, I couldn’t recollect why it was the woman’s fault. Fortunately, some observant auto rickshaw guys came to my rescue:

“Madamji, don’t blame the boy. Despite being on the wrong side, you weren’t looking straight ahead”.

Oh Yeah! That’s why it was her fault.

The girls looked frustrated since they couldn’t get the better of a “careless” guy. They all started leaving.

Before they could disperse, I shouted: “Excuse me”.

The girls and the woman looked at me suspecting a trouble.

I Walked towards the woman and bending down, I retrieved the indicator from the front rack of her scooty.

P.S. The right indicator of my scooter (which was broken during the collision) had fallen into the front luggage rack of her scooty.

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When you try to board a moving train

When you try to board a moving train

Some years ago, I was studying engineering in Amravati. The city-cum-village was situated near my hometown, Nagpur – a train journey takes 3 hours. Thus, I would frequently return home.

One night, when I was going to Amravati by train, I experienced an adrenaline rush.

It seemed like a regular trip (so far). Being a lone passenger, I was listening to music on the earphones. Midway down the journey, the train took its usual halt at one of the stations. It was supposed to be 2-minute halt. Driven by an urge to snack, I got off the train.

Back then, I was teenage. My preferences were crystal clear. I wanted to be cool (than responsible). So, I didn’t turn off the music.

Walking to the closest stall, I asked the shopkeeper for a packet of chips. He held three packets in his hand and asked me which flavor I wanted. Usually, I was very clear about my preferences, but those options put me in a dilemma. Taking a few seconds, I made my mind. The shopkeeper laughed a little bit when I gave him money.

As I turned back, the train was moving. Because of the loud music on the earphones, I couldn’t notice when the train started to move. I panicked. I threw away the chips packet and got ready to board the moving train instinctively. But, it had picked up the speed.

Each coach of the train was zooming past me. I saw the last coach moving speedily towards me. It had a steel rod on both the sides of its entrance. That was all I could see. I didn’t see a person standing there, flashing the green light.

Grabbing hold of the steel rods, I lifted my legs and tried to pull myself inside the coach. While doing so, I kicked the person standing there in the stomach.

Fortunately, I did board the moving train in one piece. When I looked at the person, he was lying on the floor, gasping for breath. After all, he had received a flying kick in the stomach.

I apologized to him in a casual manner, since I was more exhilarated than guilty. But, I did feel bad as I remembered his eyes nearly popping out when I accidentally kicked him.

After catching his breath, he got up. I thought everything was okay as I had said “sorry”. Proving me wrong, he grabbed me by the neck, bent my head down and started slapping me on the back – the music was still playing on the earphones.

I found myself apologizing to him on a loop. I even clarified that I wasn’t any useless fellow and that I was studying engineering – I didn’t know why I said so. Thankfully, he stopped. I told him it was an honest mistake. But, he said nothing.

Untill the train took its next stop, I remained silent, looking at the incident from his perspective. Well, at one point, he was doing his job. Then suddenly, he got kicked in the stomach. It must have been funny (and awful too).

At the next station, while leaving, I apologized to him again. He didn’t say a word.

When I returned to my actual coach, I thanked God to see my luggage there.

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When I had to visit Police station (after watching a movie)

When I had to visit Police station (after watching a movie)

This incident goes back to the time when a Hindi movie “Ghajini” was released. The Aamir Khan starer had created a huge buzz.

Back then, I was studying engineering in Amravati  – one more degree that I have in my collection.

Being a movie buff, ‘watching a movie in the theatre’ was one of the basic needs for me.

Thus, my friend Suresh and I went to a single screen theater to watch the movie – the city didn’t have any multiplex.

People had mobbed the theatre as if there was no tomorrow. As balcony tickets were sold, we had to buy Reserve tickets.

As there was half an hour for the show, everybody was waiting for the main door to get opened. Tired of waiting, people started banging the door with their hands – usual scenario at the Reserve.

I was wearing a cargo pant and a shirt. Being in the moment, I completely forgot that I had kept my mobile in my pants front right pocket, which had a broken zip.

The moment the door was opened, people started rushing in crazily. We as well joined them.

All of a sudden, when I was going in, I sensed a hand in the same pocket. Someone was trying to steal my mobile. I tried grabbing his hand. But I was so crowded that I could barely move my hands. I couldn’t even turn back and look at the culprit.

With all my might, I tried reaching the pocket. It was empty. My first mobile was gone.

Still checking my pocket in disbelief, I informed Suresh. He took out his phone and dialed my number. It was switched off. I was wondering if the thief would still be in the theatre. But no thief would stay at the same place after stealing something.

Suresh suggested that we should go to the police station. But I had lost the hope of getting my phone back. Plus, we had bought the tickets for the show. I didn’t want him to miss the movie because of me.

And watching it could elevate my mood. So, we watched the movie.

The movie was superb. Being a revenge drama, it influenced me to take a necessary action for my lost mobile. Thus, we went to the Police station afterwards.

At the Police station, we sat across a Police Inspector to register our complaint. I informed him about my stolen mobile.

First, he enquired about the place where this incident took place. I told him it happened just down the street. Then, he asked me the time when it happened. It must be around 6 pm. I informed him. In surprise, he looked at his watch. It was 9 pm.

He couldn’t understand why it took me 3 hours to reach the Police station, if this incident took place right down the street.

I told him I watched a movie.

Unable to believe his years, he managed to utter just one word: “What”. Before he could judge me, I narrated him the entire incident. He started laughing at me.

Calling his subordinates, he told them that even though my mobile got stolen, I preferred to watch a movie. He was laughing while pointing his finger at me. His subordinates also joined him.

I did not like it. Widening my eyes, I tried to justify myself and said:

“It was ‘Ghajini’”.

P.S. I was watching the movie for the second time.

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When ‘mispronouncing a word’ makes you sound ridiculously vulgar

When ‘mispronouncing a word’ makes you sound ridiculously vulgar

By- Zhukov Oleg / Shutterstock

In 2011, I got an admission in IIM Udaipur. There were 57 students in the very first batch. Being pioneers, we witnessed everything getting established in front of us: clubs, committees, and many things.

‘Hopyard’ was one such thing. It was a small store for the hostelites, where one could buy packaged snack foods and stationery stuff.

Hopyard was run by all the eight girls in our batch, since it was their idea.

An empty room at our hostel was turned into the store. On its inauguration day, I went there to buy a packet of Lay’s. To my amazement, I turned out to be the first consumer. Apart from all the eight girls, some four boys were also present there. Celebrating the first sale at Hopyard, we all had the photo session.

Moments later, when I was watching ‘Friends’ in my room, my neighbour shouted my name. Quickly eating the remaining half packet of chips, I went to the next room – similar to ‘Joey’, even I didn’t like sharing food.

One of the eight girls (Let’s call her X) was showing the pictures from Hopyard to both my neighbours. She asked me to join them as I was in those pictures.

As I was looking at the pics, I noticed something and said it out loud – which I shouldn’t have said. Actually, in the pic, it looked like X had an extra tooth on both the sides. That was all I wanted to say, but I said:

“I didn’t know you had two extra tith”.

Instead of pronouncing ‘ee’ in the teeth, I shortened it, which made it sound like tit.

Unaware of the pronunciation blunder, I continued looking at the pictures on her mobile. I even made a joke about me being the first consumer at Hopyard.

She was looking at me, all confused whether I mispronounced the word or I was being an a**hole. Thankfully, soon, she realized the other-word-sentence didn’t make any sense.

If it had made any sense, I would have been dead.

Months later, when we became good friends, she told me about the entire scenario from her perspective.

I didn’t admit saying any such thing at first, but, eventually, I did.

P.S. We all commit mistakes. I only admit it (publicly).

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When my crush made it almost impossible for me to breathe

When my crush made it almost impossible for me to breathe

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A few years back, I was doing summer internship at Genpact, Gurgaon. My two month project was in Human Resources.

Apart from me and my boss (the lady I was assigned to), there was one extraordinarily beautiful consultant in our team. She was half British half Indian and really, really hot. On the very first day when I saw her, I got a huge crush on her.

So, every day at the office was fun since it was only three of us in one small cabin, with hardly any work for me other than staring at her. Every morning I would wake up before an alarm bell to reach the office before my boss would – so that I would get to be alone with her just for a few minutes. It didn’t happen for quite some days.

But one fine day, the universe granted my wish. The boss was coming to the office post lunch – my crush informed me. I started jumping in my head.

Finally, it was just the two of us in that cabin. It was so damn difficult for me to hide my elated mood. But, I somehow managed to act nonchalant. I wanted to start a conversation. It had to be not related to work. No topic was coming to my mind since I had the best distraction in the world sitting in front of me. So, I enjoyed just gazing at her.

Suddenly, an unpleasant pungent smell (a bit familiar) made its way into my nose.

Let me state one characteristic of this smell. We can tolerate this smell as long as it is ours. But when someone else has anything to do with it, the same smell makes us look for a fresh air.

It was obvious that she was the culprit since I had not done it and there was nobody in the cabin apart from the two of us. The cabin was air-conditioned. So, the smell lingered inside.

It was an awkward situation. On one hand, I couldn’t go out as she would have noticed that it was because of her I’m leaving– which would have embarrassed her. On the other hand, it was getting really unbearable inside.

When I looked at her, she was glued to her laptop screen, pretending like nothing happened at all. In her defence, she had the right to blame the nature or perhaps the dinner that she had the last night. The smell remained inside the cabin for three minutes – I did count. It felt almost like eternity.

I just wanted to have a memorable conversation with the lady I was crushing on. But, I didn’t know that the universe had some other plans. From that day onward, every time when I would see her, these three minutes would flash in front of my nose.

P.S. She was married (it just stopped bothering me after this incident).

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When nature calls, you gotta go

When nature calls, you gotta go

This particular incident was way back in 1996, when we (my family) went to a beautiful place called Kedarnath. I was seven then. We were trekking on one of the mountains in Himalayas, where Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath.

The place was filled with beautiful snow clad mountains and the view was simply breathtaking. The more we moved up the mountain, the more beautiful the view became.

It was an uphill trek. So, we had to take many halts during our journey. When we were midway up the mountain, we took a brief halt.

Finding no proper place to sit, elders rested on some medium size rocks. It was a somewhat level place with most of the ground covered with snow. One needed to stay warm in such cold weather. But being kids, we (me and my sister) couldn’t have enough of throwing snowballs at each other.

While playing, all of a sudden, it started feeling funny in my stomach. The pressure was mounting up in my bowel. It was so intense that, within a second, I realised I had to answer the call of nature right there.

I immediately rushed to my father. Since I didn’t have much time, I asked him to quickly suggest me a place where I could release this avalanche.

Fortunately, there was a big rock in the vicinity – big enough to hide a person behind it. Before my father could say anything, I ran off.

There was no one behind that rock. Quickly removing everything that caused an obstruction, I got in the position to do the job. After unloading everything that I possessed, I felt so relaxed. It was one of the best feelings.

When I was done, I realized I didn’t have the most important tool to finish the job – the water. The place was all covered with snow and there was nothing that I could use as an alternative. But then, I remembered an important lesson from school: that ice is nothing but frozen water. I thought I could use it.

The moment I applied ice to that sensitive area, I stood up involuntarily.

Everything went numb. It was freaking cold weather and using ice just made it worse.

It took me some time to come back to my senses. However, the process needed to be repeated again, as there was no other option.

With an immense amount of courage, I did it.

On the way back, my father asked me if everything went well. I simply nodded. But in the rest of the journey, I refrained from playing in the snow.

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The abusive parrot

The abusive parrot

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Not so long ago, my father narrated me a news article. It was published in a local Marathi newspaper. It goes like this…

There was an 85 year old lady who used to live in a small city. She would stay in a small house with her stepson and his wife. The stepson was the sole bread earner of the family. And he was alcoholic.

Every now and then, he would come home all drunk and would pick a quarrel with the old lady. It was over a property dispute.

One day, she got fed up with it and decided not to speak to him anymore.

It did stop the abusive slangs for her. But then they had a parrot.

One fine morning, when the old lady walked past the caged parrot, it started hurling abusive slangs at her. She found it strange at first. But it started happening frequently.

Whenever the bird would see her, it would abuse her.

The parrot would start its day by hurling Desi MC, BC slangs at the old lady. It would not spare her in front of anybody: be it her neighbours, her relatives or her friends. Soon, it became embarrassing for her.

The strangest thing was it would abuse only her and not the rest of the two in the family.  She had to do something about it.

Being tired of it, the old day handed the parrot to the Police. She even filed an official complaint saying it harassed her mentally.

To get to the truth, the police kept the bird in the custody and observed it. But it did not utter any foul word. Later, it was found out that the parrot was trained by her stepson to abuse the old lady –  which seemed obvious.

In the end, the parrot was handed over to the forest department.

What caught my fancy was its headline: “अश्लिल पोपट पोलिसच्या ताब्यात” (“Vulgar parrot in police custody”).

Courtesy: our media!

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