Friday, September 17, 2010

Champu- Season 3

(This is a Continuation of Champu- Season 1 and Season 2…)

 My unholy activities gradually came under the scanner. I was pushed into the category of ‘those boys’. We were regularly threatened, sent out of class, but came back the next day with the same grin like that never-say-die credit card salesman. However, my biggest fear was of the complaints going home or parents coming to And it came true, inevitably.
Parent-Teachers Day dawned bright and clear. The smiling sunshine seemed to enjoy heating up the room around my already feverish self. The birds chirping seemed to be recounting my evil tales of evil deeds and my subsequent defeat, for their babies to learn from. Today was the day. My parents had been called. I was going with them to meet the teachers and collect my report card.

I was a wanted criminal. There was a price on my head.
But I still had that innocent face. To add to that, I also put some oil on my head.

Tucking in a neatly ironed shirt, combing my well-oiled hair in a perfect side partition and polishing my shoes (one last time), I entered the school gates with my parents on either side. I was the embodiment of all the dreams a middle class couple has of their offspring. Or so they thought.

We waited outside the classroom for our turn. There were two sets of parents waiting before us. The seconds ticked by as all the ghosts of my past, present and future seemed to converge in the form of one, crisp female voice and called out, “Come in, Avinash (my name)!”
I looked about the corridor for an alternate escape route, but they had all sealed themselves shut. In slow motion, between the two souls who had given me birth, I stepped in to face death.

The smell in the gallows classroom was like a dungeon shut for centuries, the air fowl and suffocating, the noose swinging about in silent glee. Okay, that might be a ‘little’ exaggerated. But I swear to this, when the class teacher looked up at me from the register, I saw her forked tongue. And red eyes and horns and tail.

My parents were expressionless. They were, perhaps, frozen in fear. Or they had accepted my fate. Oh no, wait. They didn’t know it. Yet.

“Good morning Ma’am!” chorused my well-behaved parents.
“Good Morning,” the devil smiled back at them. My voice refused to leave my throat. Her voice sounded like a hiss and forked tongue-red eyeball combination flashed again for an instant as she took a closer look at me. Then something changed, suddenly.

Her smile disappeared falteringly. In front of my eyes, she metamorphosed from the Devil to my class teacher, a mere mortal. 

It was my costume- the neat shirt, oiled hair in side partition, innocent face and dumb-lamb expression. It had worked!

She was shocked as she read out my marks one by one, unable to find anything wrong with an 80 plus aggregate. A part of her was bursting to scream out loud about all my terrorist extracurricular activities, but the her logical brain refused to believe it to be true.

A full five minutes passed in sober conversation as she sank deeper into her chair, defeated and lost. I had got away. My parents were smiling delightedly as we walked out the door and I was jumping up and down and doing the hula, deep inside.

We were at the door, about to turn away, when I couldn’t resist. I turned back to give her a peek at my real face- horns, rolling red eyeballs, forked tongue and hideous expression. I heard her fall off her chair into the chasm. And that was the last I heard of her (Dramatized for creative purposes. We were back together in class on Monday, by the way)…

Champu had won.

That was almost 10 years ago. Now Champu has grown up wrong right, and his unholy activities are pretty much part of his public image. He’s also tried out many new looks, a few different avatars.

But once a month, when the full moon rises on a starless night in the inky black sky, Champu rises up from the dead and then...(JUST KIDDING! I'm pretty normal. Almost ;))

- Avinash Agarwal

Monday, September 13, 2010

Champu- Season 2

(This is a Continuation of Champu- SEASON 1...)

I grew up a little more. And I learnt a lot more, in direct proportion. I learnt the subtle art of acting, reacting and pro-acting. My innocent face turned out to be my biggest asset. Not my rapidly dwindling reputation, though. I was still in the good books only because of my marks. But that too was slowly and surely coming to an end.

Cut to Class 11- chemistry lab- the colorful acids in tightly shut bottles, the powders locked away in protective boxes, the gleaming test tubes waiting to crack into half, the pungent smell which had become a part of the room and the palpable suspense in the air. It was as if all the molecules and atoms were craving for some fun- a fire, an acid attack, an explosion at the least. And I heard their call.

The first thing we were told that day was that “Sodium is highly reactive. If it comes in contact with sulphuric acid, water, or even air, it reacts like an explosive.” My ears cocked up hearing the last word and I began grinning in delight. We were asked to be extra cautious. I certainly was. About not being caught.

About 120 seconds later there was an explosion in the Chemistry Lab of my High School. Someone had ‘accidentally’ dropped a whole chunk of sodium into the wash basin while the tap was on. I happened to be somewhere close by. Coincidence. 

We gathered around to study what was left after the catastrophe, shaking our heads and ‘tut-tutting’ in disapproval. The Lab supervisor looked around with a murderous expression. I had forgotten she was here. She would have seen it, no doubt. She was ultra sharp and eagle-eyed. My heart skipped a beat and inner molecular structure went haywire, because just then, she looked right at me. A moment later, she looked right past me. I was harmless. Yes, very.

I’d also like to confess that it was me who was responsible for breaking a test tube every time I was given one. I just couldn’t help it. It was like a gift. It came naturally. And I didn’t want to squander the talent. Sometimes overheating, sometimes the wrong mix of acids, and sometimes just playing the hot n cold game to see how much the glass could withstand. Oh, chemistry turned out to be very, very helpful in my mental, physical and emotional growth!

It was about the same period of my life that I won my first ‘enemy for life’. Well, I can’t take all the credit. There was another accomplice involved. By another cosmic union of Orion and Jupiter, I had found my soul mate. He was a boy too, but in school, all that didn’t matter so much. 

He was just like me, a seemingly harmless cow. No one would give him a suspicious glance. He was thin, wiry and looked like a strong windy day would be his last. I was plump, harmless-looking and quite ordinary. In short, we made an excellent team.

Our ‘enemy for life’ was a boy from the adjacent class. He had done nothing to us, or our parents, or our next generations. It must've been something from the previous birth that instigated the attack; something karmic, something terrible. So he had to be punished. I'll tell you about his unspeakably evil deeds when I recollect them. 

So, we locked him in the tennis court just when the buses were about to leave one fateful evening. And that was the last I heard of him. I really don’t know what happened. I don’t know if he had managed to squeal his way out or spent the night there. But he survived the ordeal. I know because I saw him on Facebook recently, alive and smiling. So I sent him a friend request, assuming he had put his eventful past behind him. Or at least put his large ‘behind’ in the past. Alas, he didn’t accept my request. He ignored it, or maybe even ‘Reported the Abuse’. Pun intended! 

 So that pretty much sums up my early education. Then what happened of my soul mate, you may ask?

Well, I turned out to be a little more evil than him, and was entirely responsible for two mishaps that happened in his life right about then. Both involved getting slapped by girls from our class.

The first slap came because I pushed him on her. Not just a regular push. A proper, two handed, in-the-middle-of-his-back push. And he must’ve fallen on her a little inappropriately, I can’t divulge further details. C'mon, you're smart enough to figure out that part! She slapped him almost immediately. I was very sorry. I even told him I was. 

The second slap came when were singing a disgusting song about our ‘Kidney going into our lungs’ to another girl (She was the sensitive type) who turned around when she couldn’t stand it any longer and swung her arm. Unfortunately for him, I was standing a little further away. He got the brunt of it all alone. Sheesh. Bad luck! Yes, I was sorry again. I was also very badly shaken. Poor me!

Well, they say that the Law of Karma is always working. And justice prevails. Right? Wait and watch! ;) 

(To be continued in Season 3 )

- Avinash Agarwal

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Champu- Season 1

When I was in school, I was like a seasonal fruit. A poisonous one. The one that hangs inconspicuously at the end of a branch, just within reach of an unsuspecting passerby…

Not me. Actually, Yes me! 

Sitting in a quiet corner of class, with a book in hand, I was the model student every teacher would have liked to rear as a pet, the types you saw featured in colorful charts on the walls of Nursery; the charts which prescribed ‘Good Habits’ and ‘Bad Habits’( I was, of course, the ‘Good Habits’ boy) 

Homework on time, shoes polished the evening before school, notebooks with a crisp brown cover, nails cut every weekend and full attendance on record. If I was ever absent, everybody knew I was suffering from a terminal disease. Or something appalling had happened in the family- like a death or a marriage.

But there was another side to me. I didn’t know of it myself until it was out in the open and the world told me. Oh, I buried my face in the book all right, but I was endowed with extraordinary vision. I could peep out from the corner of my eyes at impossible angles. My ears were tuned to all the right frequencies, and I could listen to the most scandalous of news with a stone faced expression. But it went unnoticed. I was one who looked like he minded his own business, after all!  

That was why, when I threw balled up pages at the teacher scribbling on the blackboard, nobody could even imagine it had been me. When a question was put up and answers were being yelled out as if it were an auction, I would put in a word or two mindlessly out of context; just enough to disrupt the flow and set the other juveniles laughing. Then, I would raise my eyebrows high into my forehead and very timely call out the right answer when heads turned towards me. And I would survive.

Soon, CCTV cameras were installed in classes and all over school. Not only because of me, I wasn’t that bad! But then, there had been a general outbreak of a bad behavioral epidemic that had reached its tipping point(To be more specific- towels flushed down the toilets, Potassium Permanganate in the Swimming Pools, ink on the compound walls, and, this takes the cake- stolen Mouse Balls!! (the 'mouse' in the computer lab, attached to the computer - yes, even they have b*lls!) . The management needed to catch someone. They wanted faces, they needed culprits. After all, they had to show they were in control.

WANTED. Almost. 

Within a week, I found myself standing in front of the Class Teacher, giving a painful explanation as to why I was ‘making funny, unnecessary and distractive’ hand gestures in class while notes were being dictated. I got away at the strength of my reputation and a pathetic excuse that I would not like to mention on this public forum.

A couple of weeks later, it was the Principal’s office. Not directly, though. I was thrown out of class with another ‘friend’ for some little misbehavior I don’t even recall now. We were standing outside like sentries and enjoying the breeze of freedom blowing through the corridor. That was the precise moment when, like astrologers later told me, high above in the cosmos where decisions are made, planet Jupiter aligned right in the centre of the Orion constellation and apocalypse happened. The ‘Princi’ came on rounds.

Obviously, she spotted us; spotted ‘me’ to be precise. And she thought there must have been a mistake. How could the teacher throw me out of class? So she came to enquire. My history teacher was only too glad to let out her frustration. I bowed my head in shame as she ranted on about what an evil genius I was and how deceptive my looks were. I could have cried if I had really felt her pain. But I was ashamed. Really. And I didn’t do anything wrong after that. The whole day… 

(To be continued in the  Seasons 2 and Season 3 ;) )

- Avinash Agarwal

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Letter from the CEO - bringing in the Indian flavor into the CWG '10

Dear Indians,

      Sub.: Bringing in the Indian flavour to the CWG 2010 


After so much criticism and mud-slinging on the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee over the past few weeks, it is time to give us a chance to speak. After all, I’ve been sleeping silent with a huge burden for 7 years now, ever since India won the bid to host the Games in November 2003.

Here is a progress report that I have just dictated to my secretary. I hope the spellings are correct. She isn’t very qualified. We don’t have enough funds to hire someone else —

This is myself. As innocent as I look.
All stadiums had been painted well in advance. However, since the rains in Delhi unexpectedly washed away the top coatings on 3 of the stadiums, a report has been filed against the India Meteorological Department for not doing their job. The inquiry is in progress. 

1. Chairs, stands and pavilions have been done away with. They are unnecessary expenses on the already over-burdened, understaffed and un-corrupt Sports Authority of India. We have already exceeded our budget of $1.6 Billion. Tie-ups have been made with leading TV channels so that the entire nation can watch the  joke Games unfold on Live TV and we can earn some more money. 

Mr Kalmadi: as innocent as me.
Never blame him.
Blame Met deptt for rains,
and the news channel exposé for
the corruption.
2. All drugs have been seized from the Sports Authority of India BAI (Banned and Illegal) storage houses. These have successfully been forcibly fed to the construction workers to help them speed up the building process.

3. The Indian Cycling Team still doesn’t have its bicycles and equipment. They should become more serious about their careers and the nation's honour, and start shopping on their own. How long will they depend on us? Don’t we have other things to do? 12 participants have already been suspended for making complaints and ‘grumbling’ about not having tyres, helmets, gears and other ‘unnecessary’ paraphernalia.

In July, with 3 months to go, I proudly announced that it was time for ‘bouquets
of flowers to be given out’
, considering the amount of progress we had achieved
in such short a time. RJD Chief Lalu Prasad had a truckload of fools flowers sent over to Delhi to help us complete the remainder of the work. 

Now, with barely a month to go, I feel that it has become a ‘battle against time’.
The deadline, which was initially December 2009, then extended to March
2010, then July 2010, is now finally early January 2011. The last phase of the work
is slated to be complete by then, so that the winners of the 2010 CWG could be
invited for practice and training on the tracks they were supposed to compete on. 

We've ordered these stadiums to be complete by January 2011
However, I request the rest of India and the world to remain unperturbed like
me. I am getting ‘warmed up’ in a massage centre in Kerala and have never felt
more at ease with my life. Coming to more important things, I must tell you
to try out this Massage Centre in Cochin. It’s my guarantee you’ll forget all
your work, responsibilities and issues. Within no time, you’ll be giving these
masseuses the Thumbs Up and showing the other finger to the rest of the world. 

What is mentioned in my above report, is a glimpse of India. So let’s enjoy these games with the Indian flavor. All roads will be blocked or under repair from the moment the participants and delegates land — till they take off. So the events might be a couple of hours late. Relax! There’s no hurry. 

Also, I can’t guarantee you the roof won’t leak if it rains. Or that the terrace will stay put if it gets too windy. Come on, so what if there are a couple of fires and few people are burnt? It happens every day, get used to it for God’s sake! 

In conclusion, I’d like to remind you that the motto of the Games is ‘Come Out and Play.’ So it’s time to bring out the true ‘Sportsman Spirit’ and not crib about trivial details. Remember, just ‘Come Out and Play’! 

For any further questions, please contact your nearest local sports administrator.
I’m not to be held responsible for anything. 

Yours sportingly, 
Mr. Mike Hooper 
(CEO, Commonwealth Games Federation)

This story was written by me for News That Matters Not

Friday, September 3, 2010

Interview with WeBlog

Avinash Agarwal or Avi has been in love with words ever since he first met them. Books were his first friends and they took him to worlds unseen, unheard and undreamt of. 

His first story - about a lion, monkey and a fox when he was just three! He found it too silly and laughable to continue writing, let alone show it to people. And he was too shy to tell people that he was a writer, until his first job two months ago; as a writer! 

He works as a writer for an Events and Brand Management agency by day, and write for himself late into the night, and he has been really about how things shaped up for him.

Quoting him here “I think introductions are supposed to talk about when and where I was born, what I did and what I didn’t ‘did’! But I don’t think any of that really matters. The only thing that matters is right here, right now. Like so many other writers, I write. That’s all about me.”

For the complete interview, please visit WeBlog