My blog will be abandoned for the next few days. From the 1st of June to the 7th, I will be in Goa with my family for a wedding. I don’t think I’ll be anywhere near a computer, but if I manage to stagger into a cybercafé, I might at least reply to and post comments. But no new actual posts, that’s for sure.

It’s my cousin’s wedding, by the way, otherwise I might’ve tried to bale out. The funny thing is that my cousin and her family and the groom all live in Mumbai, while the groom’s family lives in Kerala. Now the wedding is in Goa because it’s at an equal distance from both sides. Nice reasoning, eh?

Anyway, I don’t have much hope for having a good time, because I’m not very close to most of my relatives. But at least here I’ll be with my female cousins rather than my male cousins. My female cousins are nice, if rather conventional, people, but my male cousins are absolutely unbearable. Spending more than a couple of days with them can be compared to machines taking over the earth – somewhat possible, but you fervently hope you’re dead before it happens.

All my cousins will be totally involved in the preparations, and there’s nobody else there who I know, so I won’t be able to wander as much as I’d like to. But still, I’m hoping I might find someone pleasant enough, although it’s a remote chance.

So, I’ll be seeing you people in a week. If something mildly interesting happens during my trip, I might post something on it after I come back, but don’t count on it.

For my pleasure, I’m taking three books – Faking It by Nigel Planer (who appeared in The Young Ones and wrote and starred in the incomparable The Nicholas Craig Masterclass), Coraline by Neil Gaiman (which I’m reading for the third time) and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (which seems to be interesting). I’ve got another book called The Mammoth Book of SF 1999, which is 700 pages long. All these will hopefully last me the journey, otherwise you might get to read about the suicide of a 19-year-old aspiring writer due to sheer boredom.

See you.

PS: The last couple of posts might have been a bit iffy (for some people at least). I was rather busy, and I couldn’t pay the blog as much attention as I would’ve liked. Hopefully, the next few will be more personal, and probably somewhat better (though I personally like both the previous posts).

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:47 AM
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Monty Python were the Comedy equivalent of the Beatles. Wonderfully talented, always inventive, and always willing to break the rules. Their tv show and the subsequent movies changed the face of the late twentieth century, even though many of us don’t realise that. In fact, modern comedy owes more than half its current form to these people.

In 1999, thirty years after they first got together, and ten years after their number was reduced from six to five by the death of Graham Chapman, they got together for a special stage show – all six of them, because Graham’s ashes came in an urn.

Today, I got that show on DVD – it’s called Live at Aspen. I was literally jumping for joy through the whole thing. I had the transcript, but not the actual show. (Here’s the Transcript, for anyone interested. And here’s a BBC article about them as well.)

When I watched this, one thing struck me hard. However much you might say that today’s comedians are talented, there’s just no one like the Pythons – their creative energy hasn’t dimmed over thirty years. It’s like they’re pulling you by the collar and saying, “Look, you silly arse, we’re the best and you can take everybody else and shove ’em somewhere rude.”

Surprisingly, my father was watching it with me. I turned on the subtitles for him, and he was riveted throughout. He said that he didn’t understand half of it, but the very vibe was addictive. He now wants to watch Life of Brian.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to bow my head towards Python – without them there would be no Douglas Adams, no Terry Pratchett, no Jasper Fforde or Robert Rankin, no South Park, no Hot Shots, and, surprisingly, there would be no Braveheart either, because it was The Holy Grail that showed that history can be muddy and bleak, not clean and sterile.

I’d just like to pass the word to any humour enthusiasts out there. Watch Python. They’ve even got a word in the dictionary named after them, ‘pythonesque’, meaning something that is weird without any apparent reason for being so.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:07 AM
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Now this is magnificent:
The Photoshop Digest Ultra-Condensed Version of Episodes I-III.
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:39 PM
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This actually happened. A few days ago, we had the periodical pest-control thingy done at home. Dad treated us to dinner, because we couldn’t eat at home. Then we came back, and there was this cockroach lying upturned on the floor.

Dad stamped on it with his shoe.

“Don’t do that,” mom said, “it’s dead.”

“It’s not dead,” dad said.

“It’s resting,” I said.

I know you didn’t get that joke, you daft buggers. Go watch Monty Python!

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For the last few days, I spent a little time everyday visiting some random blogs (by clicking on the ‘Next Blog’ link at the top).

I found that most blogs were not blogs, but actually advertisements for commercial websites. Another thing I discovered was that the blogs by females (we have to assume they weren’t guys pretending to be otherwise) outnumbered the blogs by males seven to three, which is not that surprising when you think about it.

Then suddenly on the third day, I found that 60% of the blogs I now found were an advertisement for porn – exactly the same ad in each one. I tried to find a normal blog, but it was very difficult. So I have to assume that either someone spammed Blogger.com with these sites, or someone hacked into Blogger. I don’t quite know.

Anyway, it was an all over bizarre experience. I found some good (or at least interesting) blogs. These are some of those:

Indian Writing (which is a great blog itself, and through which I found Shweta’s Wonderful Blog)
The Mouth of a Loosed Woman is a Deep Pit (the rather fine blog of a woman who is chuffed about having liposuction done in 20 days)
Tatum Alice (this one’s too cute for words – a blog written by a mother completely dedicated to the antics of her daughter)
Onanymous (a rather cool diary blog)

I also found some disturbing blogs. There was one blog, by a sixteen-year-old girl – it was not disturbing in itself, but it had a picture in which “I Only Want to Be Happy” was carved into someone’s skin. Now I don’t honestly think that was CGI. That almost made me turn back, but I went on because I realised this must be very rare, and thankfully I didn’t get any more of those.

I saw that there were many Indians out there, and I thought that was just fine (up the republic and all that). Many blogs were rather entertaining, and others were simply diaries. But there were some weird ones. There was one somewhat sad blog, with over 20 posts over two months and not a single comment, and one really poignant blog – a guy had written his blog completely as a memorial to his recently-expired dog.

There was some encouraging stuff as well. About a third of the blogs I visited were written in a language other than English, and this made me very happy, because I feel that diversity is a good thing. They did irritate me a little, because I had to wait for them to load (and I’ve got a pretty slow connection), only to have to press ‘Next Blog’ again because I couldn’t read them. I found two German blogs, and I now visit them periodically to practice my fledgling Deutsch.

After visiting all these blogs, I still realised that I had only scratched the surface of the Blog world. I had found only one blog I already knew – Sandnya’s blog – and I hadn’t found a single blog that came under Blogger’s recommended and recent section. This felt rather nice, because of the huge variety, but it also made me feel that the few people that form this particular community/network are such a miniscule portion of the WSOGMM (or ‘Whole Sort of General Mish Mash’ if you’re one of those unlucky enough not to have read Douglas Adams) of Blogging.

Puts us in our place, doesn’t it?

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If you like reading stories, here are some that are available free on the net (and quite legally at that). All of them are SFF, but that shouldn’t stop you, should it? SHOULD IT?

Neil Gaiman – Goliath: a story set in a world similar to that of The Matrix, but much better than that particular crapfest (I’m referring to 2 & 3, of course).

Terry Pratchett – Theatre of Cruelty (link down): the story that seduced me into Pratchett’s world. It’s a bit too fast-paced, but it’s quite wonderful.

Samit Basu – The Plasmoids: a story by the author of The Simoqin Prophecies. Nice without being great in any way, and unlike other readers (through whom I got the link), I didn’t like the Tolkien reference. But I got into SFFWorld.com due to this story, so I can’t complain.

And last but not the least:

Writerbo: a magnificent illustration of what it is like to live with a writer. All wanna-be (‘aspiring’, as we like to be called) writers are going to cringe because it’s totally true. It’s not a story, but who cares?

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 8:49 PM
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All those who believe John Lennon when he says all you need is love should be whipped in public and hung upside-down over the nearest town square.

Alright! Now that I’ve got your attention, we should proceed to the real post. I don’t quite agree with the last paragraph, but I think it raises some good points. So what are they?

A few days ago, I met an acquaintance of mine. I won’t name him – he’ll just be called ‘J’. I don’t consider J a friend, but he’s nice, and every time we meet, I get to hear a bit of his ongoing soap opera. This is the latest chapter.

J has been in love with a girl for seven years. (Yes, you heard right – SEVEN!) He confided in me about four years ago, so I can testify to those four at least. Anyway, after seven years, he proposed to her last week.

Now, she is a rather studious girl, and both of them are studying right now, so she said that she won’t consider anything for the next two years. He thought that this answer was bloody unfair. He wanted a definite ‘yes’ or a definite ‘no’. I said to him that it was a definite ‘maybe’. He started laughing. But I was serious.

Now, this chap expects her to be able to predict her feelings two years from now. But consider this:

If she says yes today, and changes her mind later, he will be waiting for two years, and then when he opens his arms to her, he’ll be left with open arms and nothing else. And if she says no right now (the only reason being that she doesn’t want to say yes), but she later starts liking him, what’s she supposed to do?

I think that ‘maybe’ is a completely valid answer in this case. And I don’t think it is unfair of me to say so, because I myself have been on the receiving end of a ‘maybe’.

When I was thirteen, I proposed to a girl. She was a schoolfriend. When I proposed, she said she didn’t want to think about that now. Fair enough, we were only thirteen. But I think that if she had said a simple yes or no (and a no would’ve been much, much more probable), it would’ve done a lot more damage.

In my friend’s case, he is still young (not yet an adult), and if she says anything definite (yes or no), he’ll want to either sit in cafés with her making eyes and mumbling sweet nothings over coffee, or sit in cafés alone trying to drown himself in coffee. And she doesn’t want that, and neither, I believe, should he.

He wants to give her an ultimatum (an ugly word and usually an ugly practice, I think). I believe that he shouldn’t give her an ultimatum and try to be done with it. It’ll be senseless, and a waste of all his seven (still can’t believe it, can you?) years of secret love.

So I think that she was right, but this guy is moping into his pillow and not sleeping. Fair enough, it's his fault, not hers. Next time I meet him, I’ll asked him what happened.

This originally inspired my outburst. But that’s only till the next time I myself fall in love. Luckily, right now, I’m only in love with myself (do not infer anything unseemly from that, please), so I can spout words of wisdom while watching other people from far, far away.

I am a bastard, aren’t I?

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:10 PM
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Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 12:29 PM
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As most people reading this will know, the age of 13-17 is a very difficult time in the life of boys. At that time, they can only think about sex, and what’s more, they never seem to be getting any. Many will say that this phase does not end at 17, but we will leave that for another post.

The topic for this post is the stories boys make up to survive this time period. They are never able to speak to girls and girls never seem to want to take their clothes off, so they resort to telling each other stories.

These stories are usually very interesting. Women will probably like to hear some of these, so here they are.

One of my friends once told me that he had seen a girl’s nipple. This was when we were 14, and the girl was a mutual acquaintance. Therefore, I was, of course, incredulous, but he clarified. She had apparently been wearing a (normal) salwar-kurta suit, and she had bent down in front of her bicycle, and there it was!

Now, anyone with an elementary grasp of physics will tell you that this is actually not possible – or at least, very, very improbable. But why would we want to believe that when we could believe in the Miracle of the Holy Nipple?

For the next fortnight at least, we used to come downstairs whenever she did, and we used to pretend to be doing something else, yet glancing at her in the fervent hope that the miracle would happen again. This friend, meanwhile, claimed to have seen the same spectacle three more times. But because the rest of us had been present every time she came down, we stopped believing him.

Other stories of the sort include the classic “I went in and she was (a) bathing with the door open, (b) changing or (c) completely and utterly naked for no apparent reason.” ‘She’ is usually either a friend, a particularly good-looking mature neighbour, or a friend’s mother (a good-looking female friend’s good-looking female mother is the best bet).

There are many other such stories, and if you want to know some of these, all you have to do is catch the nearest boy in his late teens and torture him till he confesses. This manoeuvre does not apply to me, of course.

Seriously speaking, ever since I became an adult, I have been an ardent and total opponent of the objectification of women. But when I was in the time range mentioned (13-17), I was much too busy thinking about sex to bother about the objectification or otherwise of anyone other than vapid little moi. What I mean is that I have indulged in telling one such story.

I know a guy who lives in Mumbai, and till about three years ago, I used to tell him the exploits of myself and a fictitious girl called A--- (name concealed to protect fictional privacy). So you can see that my rampant imagination is not recent, although the use I put it to has changed somewhat over the years.

This girl A--- was supposed to be totally ‘with’ me – for no apparent reason (none that I can think of, anyway) and I used to tell this guy about my adventures with her. In the end, A--- almost seemed to be a real person, if you disregarded the fact that the only thing she could ever think of was passionate, unbridled sex.

Indeed, it became so ludicrous that I started to keep notes on where we were last time so that my stories might not become inconsistent. I don’t think that this guy actually believed me for an instant, but I honestly thought he did. He probably used my stories as fodder for his own fantasies. In the end, I went to Mumbai armed with a brilliant story about a threesome with A--- and another fictitious girl, but just before I was going to tell him, I stopped for a moment and thought, “Not even I would believe this!” And that was the end of that.

Sad, isn’t it?

To the women reading this: if you were offended by this post, I assure you this was not my intention. I only want to give you some first-hand knowledge of the male of the species. Armed with this knowledge, you can now blackmail them very easily. You only have to say, “... Otherwise I will tell your mother what you told your friends when you were 15,” and they will do absolutely anything you ask them to.

Best of luck.

PS: After this post, I will be leaving this country, because all my male friends will soon be experiencing an uncontrollable urge to tear me into little pieces and to buy dogs so as to feed them those pieces. My next post will be from an unnamed country.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 8:16 PM
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I’m going to more-or-less refrain from reviewing films or books on this blog (I’ve already got a site for that) but I just couldn’t resist this one.

The day before yesterday, I saw a film called The Dreamers. I wanted to watch it for a long time, so, in the end, I rented a DVD (which seems like a stupid and expensive move, but which was worth it), and watched it.

The film was directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and scripted by Gilbert Adair. It was based on Adair’s novel The Holy Innocents. While writing the movie, he rewrote the book as The Dreamers. I had read this second version, and thought it was good but not illuminating or anything brilliant. In fact, it was somewhat boring.

But the film was utterly fabulous. It stars Michael Pitt, Eva Green (who was recently in Kingdom of Heaven) and Louis Garrel. Green and Garrel play the Siamese twins Isabelle and Theo, and Pitt plays Matthew, who is drawn into their world of film, sex and intellectual discussion, and then, when the twins’ parents leave town, Matthew moves in and they try to find their identities together.

The film is at once beautiful, sad and elegant, and the numerous film references never jar. There is a lot of nudity by all three leads (full frontal), but it is an essential part of the film rather than being simply titillating. In fact, for me, the most erotic scene was this fully clothed one: after having dinner, Isa gets up and kisses her brother on the lips. Then she turns to kiss Matthew, and her hair catches fire on a candle. Matthew puts it out, and then they kiss. “Are you staying?” she says. “Are you OK?” he asks. “Yeah, I’m OK.” That’s the most erotic scene for me.

There are problems with the film. The camera is a part of the action, as much a character as the other three, but sometimes it jars. And the characters are never very well-developed. It is as if the film needs all the outer references to survive. And lastly, the film’s climax is in the Venus de Millo scene, but it goes on for another fifteen minutes, which, while making the outcome clear, are pointless.

After everything, this film is more for film fanatics and critics than more casual film fans, but it is beautiful. Also, the film is lacking in pace, but the references usually pick it up, which is one reason they are there. Also, the film is a bit pretentious, but then, many great films are.

The film differs from the book in many respects. In the book, Matthew dies – here he doesn’t. In the book, Theo and Matthew have sex, here they don’t, which makes Theo’s connection to the others somewhat dubious and more implied than apparent in the film. But these are minor grouses.

An extensive review will soon be posted on my website.

PS: If you thought this post was boring, please wait for the next post – it’ll be more interesting.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 11:13 PM
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Right now, my holidays are going on. Since a few days before my exams, I have been working in a BPO. I write 4-5 articles a day on given topics.

These topics have ranged from baby diapers and strollers to swimsuits and trucks and trailers and fishing (that was informative). Overall, working there has been fun. My bosses let me be, and I can goof off as much as I want as long as I get the work done. And I have unlimited internet access (it’s slow, but at least I can surf).

I have a formula for writing these articles. They range from 250-500 words. My formula is: 40 words introduction, 2 (or more) paras of 100 words each, and then, if I still haven’t filled the word count, I write one para on online trading (how you can get the specified item online). In fact, out of the 160 odd articles I have written, more than 90 have a para about online trading.

So work is simple, it gets me money, and I can put my brain on hold without consequence. And writing crap means that when I come home, I want to write something good. In the last three weeks, I have written more 2000 words of fiction, and more than 3000 words of stuff including this blog, comments on other people’s blogs, assorted essays, discussions on SFFWorld.com forums, and, most of all, book reviews for my website.

Which is nice.

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I have been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett these days, and this is one of my favourite quotes. It’s a little offensive, but very funny.

Terry Pratchett (in Soul Music):
The question seldom addressed is where Medusa had snakes. Underarm hair is an even more embarrassing problem when it keeps biting the top of the deodorant bottle.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:46 PM
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Yesterday, I was thinking about Superman. You know him, don’t you? Big, strong chap, wears a cape, has many enemies, saves people.

Now imagine this. Superman’s walking down a lonely street, dressed as Clark Kent, and suddenly, through his superhearing, he hears a plea for help. He starts running, rips off his clothes, and takes into the air. Then, when he's 1000 feet in the air, he realises he forgot to put on his suit this morning.

So he’s completely naked, right? And that won’t do, will it? Imagine if somebody sees him. Imagine – you’re Superman, it’s a few days later, you see an old lady in trouble, and you swoop down majestically. And she says, “Hee hee! I saw you naked! Hee hee!”

That won’t do, will it? He’s going to lose all respect. His cheeks will go red! Not those cheeks – you’ve got dirty minds.

So anyway, he has to get down, and being Superman, he definitely can’t ask someone for help. You know what will happen. Someone will see him, and next thing you know, instead of Superman they’ll be calling him Wee Willy Winkie. You know they will. The large men always have little ones.

So I would like you people to suggest methods of getting him down safely. This is of prime importance, because until you suggest something, he’ll be hung in the air (not that kind of hung), and won’t be able to come down.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 8:47 AM
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In a staggering new development, positive evidence has come to light, at last, of the existence of intelligent life right here on earth! Hitherto, theorists had suggested that the biped called the ‘human being’ (Homo erectus numerus) should be considered a possibly intelligent life-form. But new evidence has proved decisively that the only intelligent lifeform on earth is the Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus).

Any intelligent lifeform must display low population, good societal coordination, and utter selfishness. The human being fulfils only the last one, while its distant cousin, the Orangutan, shows all of them. Therefore, it is now safe to assume that intelligent life does exist on earth.

Monty Python once said, “... pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, because there's bugger all down here on earth.” This has now been proved untrue.

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Old Saying:
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish, and you feed him for the rest of his life.”

Terry Pratchett (in Jingo):
“Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”

I’ve got many other versions off the net. If you want, I’ll put them up here.

PS: This is actually yesterday’s post, but I couldn’t post it because Blogger.com was down for some time.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 6:58 AM
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This is an essay/article I wrote a few weeks ago in response to the electricity shortage we’re having these days. It’s supposed to be humorous. Tell me if it is.

While reading the last paragraph, just take note that the essay was originally supposed to be printed.

These days we’ve been hearing a lot about the diminishing sources of energy. Though it isn’t going to affect most of us (who cares if our grandchildren have no oil or power, right?), there are a few of us who are conscientious enough to want to do something about it. In other words, they’ve got too much time on their hands. For them, here are a few ways of making their own electricity.

1) Air: All of us know about windmills, of course, but most of us who live in the city don’t know about wind, so mills are out of the question. But there is a way. Blow up a balloon. Then place the outlet against a turbine, and let go, thereby rotating the turbine. One problem here is that once the air leaves the balloon, you have to blow it up again. The solution is to make a hole in the balloon through which you can continue blowing air. An easier way is to blow air directly onto the turbine, although in that case it would be more efficient to live out in the country and use natural wind. Another way for those in the city is to connect the turbine with the exhaust of your vehicle, although there wouldn’t be a way to use the electricity produced. A solution could be found in time.

2) Heat: One word - Candles. (a) Light a candle under the turbine. If it catches fire, put it out with water - another way of turning the turbine. (b) Light a candle under a beaker of water, place a turbine above to catch the steam, and connect the turbine to your tv. The tv may stop working after some time, but then we in India are used to cable tv failures anyway.

3) Household pets: Have a set of two hundred mice in cages running in those cute little wheels, and use the energy of said wheels to generate electricity. Alternately, use can be made of (a) dogs, (b) cats, (c) children or (d) your local politician. Take care that the SPCA does not find out, although, in the last case at least, it is unlikely that they will mind.

4) Neighbours: Incite your neighbours into a quarrel, and then steal into their house and connect your appliances to their outlets. This is a particularly lasting method, because when they get the bill, they will fight over that as well, enabling prolonged use, as they will be too caught up in their fights to pay attention to you. A precaution: try to choose a different neighbour each time, as escalating quarrels in one particular household might give rise to (a) suspicion over the reason of fighting (though this is unlikely) or (b) estrangement, in which case only one spouse will be left at home, and it is rather difficult to make one person quarrel with themselves, thereby putting you in a spot.

5) Exercise: Exercise can be very beneficial for you, because after a good hour of exercise, you’ll be too tired to care whether you have electricity or not. If you still do, construct a large wheel in which to run, and proceed as per Method 3.

6) Water: A turbine can be placed in your toilet bowl so that every time you flush, the turbine is turned rapidly, and an absurd amount of electricity can be created. There are two drawbacks to this method. First, you, being too busy selling your ideas to the public, will have to hire someone to flush continuously, and that takes a lot of money. Second, and more important, this method isn’t practical in India due to the rather insignificant yet irritating problem of scarcity of water. You can use bottled water, of course, but the question of money arises again. Find your own solution.

Other methods include pesticides (the potential of motion due to spraying action has yet to be tapped), rock concerts (although here you might find here that the whole apparatus is vibrating rather than just the turbine) and family members involved in leisure activities (“Dad, will you rotate this turbine with one hand while you’re reading your book?”).

Another very useful method would be to get many copies of this essay and burn them and turn the turbine using the smoke or a beaker of water kept above the fire. This method has been found to be the best yet.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 9:52 PM
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This is my first ever blog post.

Yesterday (today morning, technically), something funny happened. A few days ago, I posted a comment on Arnold’s blog in which I said that Engg. students have interesting and amusing lives. Here’s an example.

I came back from Mumbai yesterday night at 10:30 and basically went straight to sleep. A friend of mine, Salil, called in the middle of the night, telling me to come downstairs, and he wouldn't tell me the reason. I was worried, and went downstairs fast, after telling my parents.

Salil and another friend Amit were waiting downstairs, grinning stupidly. They’d decided to go out for a coffee (at ‘Relax’ in Bibwewadi), and then they decided to come to Kothrud (10 miles away) for a soup - at 1 am.

And when they reached my house, their petrol ran out, and so they called me. So I sat there, bleary-eyed, talking to Salil, and Amit took my Scooty and went to get a bottle of petrol. Then he came back and they invited me to have a soup with them. I declined and went back to sleep.

All this, by the way, is a mere fortnight before their exams.

Just goes to illustrate my comment that Engg. students are an interesting bunch of people. I can’t imagine this ever happening in Arts.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 6:35 PM
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