I was sitting in class and the guy in front of me folded down the ends of a page in his notebook to form a triangle which, being slightly thicker than the other pages, would serve to divide the book and allow him to use a single notebook for two subjects. That might seem too long an explanation for a simple thing that is pretty commonly done in classrooms, but bear with me while I explain my train of thought.
The teacher had told us in the last class that secondary forces like Hydrogen bonds are weaker forces. That has no bearing to this post save to indicate that my train of thought had halted for a while at a crossing to let other engines pass by.
As I was saying, I saw the guy fold his page and I remembered the last time I’d done it, which was a few years back, and I wondered about some of the things that almost every single person seems to do. Folding pages, leaving doors ajar while leaving rooms, getting annoyed when people leave doors ajar while leaving your room, pretending you’re the character in a movie while a sad song plays when you’re travelling in a car, waiting for a good show to come on TV before starting to eat…(I’ve judged these to be common based on frequent posts on social media). Then I thought about some of the weird stuff from my childhood and wondered if anybody else had similar memories. I felt like it was improbable, but I decided to write this post, which will serve one of two purposes: Perhaps amuse you with crazy stuff that has not happened to you or let me know that the world is stranger than I thought. Maybe both. Here goes.
- We’d gone to some wedding a little distance away from our town, so a bus had been hired for the trip. On the way back, I somehow found myself in the bus while my parents and sister travelled in the car. I had with me a pack of Orbit chewing gum, the ones that come in those plastic strips that you pop them out of (like tablets). I started chewing on one. Back then, I would just chew on them till they lost their flavour and then pop a new one. I started off with the first, and then realized I was in trouble. I was in the aisle seat and next to me was a relative I wasn’t familiar with.
In English, all your parent’s siblings are aunts and uncles. I’m not sure what the other relations are called, but I don’t think it’s as complicated as here. Here in India, addressing family members is as complex as binomial nomenclature is in Biology. What you call somebody depends on whether they’re related to you on your mother’s side or your father’s, on whether they’re older than your mom/dad and a lot of stuff I still don’t understand, even as an eighteen year old.
And I did not know what to call this relative, which was a problem because I needed to get past him to throw the chewed gum out of the window so I could start a new piece. Being the dumb, shy kid I was, I couldn’t figure out how to talk to him. I did, however, come up with a solution: I put the chewed piece back into the strip and then closed back the flap best I could and started a fresh one. I did this with half of them until I was too disgusted by the sight to continue.
- I was four or five, and there was this guy at least four years older than me who travelled by the same auto-rickshaw I did. He somehow annoyed me and I used a dialogue that I either made up or had heard: “keppege hoddre Americage hogi beelbeku”, meaning “If I slap you, you’ll go and fall in America”(America was sort of like the ideal country to us/me back then: foreign, modern and posh. And really far away. And now there’s Donald Trump. Ah, the good old days). He responded with “oh yeah?” or something of the sort hearing which I slapped him as hard as I could (which is not really that hard). Considering that physical prowess was never my forte and he was much older than me, that was pretty stupid. What a obnoxious kid I was though.
- Beyblade was my favorite show back then and I wanted to live my life exactly like they did. I didn’t live in Japan or wherever, so you can see how that’d be a problem. There was one phase I went through where I hated my language because the Beyblade characters didn’t speak it and hated our food because what they ate looked so different. I ate (Or tried to, I don’t remember how successful I was) everything with a spoon (let me tell you, mixing sambar and rice with a spoon isn’t easy). The day we went to this food-court was one of my happiest days, because I had Chinese Chopsuey there, which I thought was close enough to what they ate. I also once pretended that what I was eating was bugs, because that was what superheroes eat (???).
- I once froze my TV remote control. Having a sibling, possession of the remote was something that a lot of battles were fought over A couple of good hiding places would come in handy if you needed to step out of the house for a minute or use the washroom. I don’t know why, but I thought the freezer would be a good place to hide it. It took quite a while for it to be found.
- In kindergarten, we used to play kalla-police (cops and robbers. Kalla is the Kannada word for robber). Whoever wore shorts(Half pant, we called it then) were the robbers and the ones with the trousers were the police. That’s how I remember it, I hope I haven’t invented that memory. I had an aversion to wearing shorts till a couple of years ago.
- Most people forget things while heading out once a while, but I think it takes a higher level of absent-mindedness or whatever the noun form of that is to forgot one’s bag at home. One’s school bag. While one was going to school. I’m the one being referred to, just to be clear.
- I somehow got it into my head that books should be really old and musty in order for it to be cool. I did not know how to get them that way, but I tried. I put a lot of effort into making small tears in several books and trying to make them look as damaged as possible.
All the damage here was intentional.
- Hindu boys undergo a threading ceremony, after which you’re supposed to do “japa” everyday. Prayer, basically. The lamps in the god room had to be lit before this. While I chanted the prayers, I’d play around with the matches. I’d hold a lit match to the curtain or to my dress (you had to wear a kind of dhoti) and watch it burn a small hole in it. Totally ruined mom’s curtains. In my defence, the way the synthetic fabric burnt was fascinating. Wonder how I didn’t burn the whole place down.
- This kinda stretches the childhood part of this post because it happened this Febraury, but I’m going to write it anyway. Mom was out of town for a few days and she’d left us enough idli and sambar to last us (me and my sister) till she came back. I came home hungry and thought I’d heat the sambar, which was in a huge glass microwave bowl. I thought to myself, “Hmm, this has to last us for a long time, so don’t screw it up, Anshumanth”. I thought that the microwave being a powerful device and so many accidents happening with it, I’d have to be very careful not to overheat it and damage the bowl. I figured that since Microwaves are more modern than gas stoves, if a bowl is strong enough to stand the microwave, it would do fine on the stove as well. I never knew that glass breaks on contact with fire, because we heated glass test tubes in the lab all the time. So, doing what I thought was the safer thing, I turned on the stove and kept the bowl on it. It lasted for around two minutes. That was a terrible waste of idlis. (Jean-Paul, I don’t think you know Idli Sambar, but living with a chef, maybe you can have a laugh at my stupidity).
- I read a lot back then, and Enid Blyton was almost entirely what I read. These books, and the cartoons I used to watch too, had kids going on all sorts of adventures and camping out for days but there was never any mention of where they went to the toilet. The result: for a small part of my life, I was convinced that people of other countries (I think it was mainly England) did NOT poop. EVER. I thought about that quite a lot while I was in the toilet myself, wondering why we even had to poop and why we couldn’t be like those foreign people.
That there are some things that I believe could not have happened with other people. Feel free to let me know I’m wrong and/or tell me your weirdest moments and memories, childhood or otherwise.