We got up at 7 in the morning. Gilli, Subba, Gidda and I finished our ablutions as quickly as possible, dressed up and hit the campus. The remaining boys would join us later.
It was a bright, shiny morning. The campus was clamorous to the core. We were in Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumkur – a place well over 250 kms away from our College. The only reason we had decided to take part in the cultural fest organized by the University was to bunk classes. No assignments, no internals, no dozing in the last bench, in short no boring stuff for at least two and a half weeks – two weeks practice, five days fest.
We took around 25 photographs in the span of 5 minutes. There was a tough competition between the memory of our cameras and the girls in the campus. Well, no sooner had we started walking towards the small coffee shop than Apeksha, our dear friend, met with us. She was with her gang of friends.
“Oh, damn it! Junglee Billis! Let’s get away from here before they start scratching us, dudes,” Gilli said, clutching my shirt. He wasn’t referring to Apeksha, but the girls that were standing next to her.
They were the participants of a dance competition, and their item was something to do with the culture of Jungle village. Their costumes were another matter of course. Hence the name Junglee Billis!
“Hey Appi, how is your ashram?” Subba asked joyfully.
“Oh, don’t ask anything about it,” she said, cringing.
“All right. I’ll ask something else. How is your ashram?”
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked, ignoring Subba.
“Those JNNC girls from Shimoga are sharing our room, man. They are showing a lot of attitude,” she said and looked at her junglee gang. They nodded in agreement.
“Oh, I get it. You mean bathroom fighting, right?” Gilli said and sniggered.
“Yeah, that too. We’ve been given such a filthy place.”
She continued after a moment’s silence. “Those bitches have such foul mouths, guys. Bloody bimbos started using profanity, you know. They even slapped one of our juniors,” she said.
“Dude, she is hiding something. I’m sure they’ve had a women’s wrestling match, and not just slapping and cursing. Gosh! I’d give anything in the world to see those things live,” Gilli whispered into my ears.
“What did he say?” Appi asked, arching her brows.
“No, nothing. Did you talk to our lecturers? They might be able to arrange a different room for you all.”
“We did. It was no use.”
Appi then pointed us in a direction and said, “Look. Those are the girls I was talking about.”
We saw a few girls standing with a few boys next to a yellow bus. They were at least 50 yards away from us.
“Come, let’s go to them and have a talk. How could they behave like that with our team-mates?” Subba said, surprising everyone.
“You are gonna talk to those girls?” Gilli asked. No one could tell whether that was a question or a statement.
“As you all know I am from Shimoga too. So I shall talk to them if I happen to know any of them,” Subba said and started walking towards them.
“Yeah, right. Let’s teach them a lesson,” Gilli said, and we followed Subba’s suit, leaving Appi and her Junglee Billi gang behind us.
As we went closer to them, they taught us a lesson instead. A lesson of Beauty! There was not a dog’s chance Subba could’ve known any of them. They were so damn beautiful! Surely they must have been sent from heavens to show us mortals what beauty was. People talk about writing and reading poetry, but we were actually seeing it – literally. We were left speechless. Those angels took our hearts for guitars and played a soft music by using the veins as strings! They really took our breath away!
We didn’t have anything to say or do, so we silently returned.
Appi and the Junglee Billis were eagerly waiting for our arrival.
“And….?” Appi asked.
“And what?” Subba snapped.
The girls looked at us confusingly.
“How could you pick up a fight with such nice bab…I mean girls, girls? Did you all forget your manners?” Gilli asked.
“What?!” Sushma, one of the Junglee Billis, hollered.
“You should learn to share things, girls,” Gilli went on. “Instead of that you fought with them? Damn! We are really ashamed of you.”
The girls looked at each other and then looked at us as if we were terrorists. I looked at Appi and a smile flitted across her face. She knew us very well.
“When you come to an alien place like this, you should learn to adjust with others. Gosh! Girls and their bathroom fights!” Subba contributed.
“Well, don’t you have anything to say?” Appi asked me just for the heck of it.
I just lifted my right hand up and said, “I say ‘Aye’ to whatever Subba and Gilli just said.”
“You guys are sick! You know that?! You guys are sick!” Sushma yelled at us and walked away with her gang, leaving Appi with us.
We bought coffee and sat on a stone bench next to the coffee shop.
“So what happened there?” Appi started the conversation.
“Ask what didn’t happen,” Gidda, who hadn’t spoken a single word till now, said nonchalantly.
When everyone had his attention, he said, “I’m gonna propose to one of those girls by the end of this fest.”
“What? Which girl?” I asked.
“I haven’t decided on that yet.” Shabhas!
Gilli laughed hard. When we questioned him, he said, “Gidda just cracked a joke. Didn’t you hear him?”
Gidda stared into his eyes.
Appi, Subba and I didn’t bother to intervene and left them alone.
“Be practical dude,” Gilli began. “If she is a chocolate pastry, you are a road side bonda. If she is a heroine, you are a spot boy. If she is MTV, you are Doordarshan. If she is Mercedes Benz, you are an auto rickshaw.” He paused for a moment and then said, “Did you get the idea?”
Appi smirked. Subba and I nodded in agreement.
“I think I got it, but you forgot to mention one more thing,” Gidda didn’t show any symptoms of anger or irritation.
“Really? What is it?”
“If she is a sophisticated Italian commode, I’m a ‘free to use’ Sulabh Shouchalay,” Gidda said as calmly as possible and took a sip of his coffee.
Listening to Gidda’s self analysis, Appi spilled her coffee, I started laughing hysterically, and Subba staggered and fell down, clutching his stomach. I wanted to help him, but he was in no mood to get up as he was literally rolling on the floor, laughing. Gilli grinned, scratching his head. Gidda didn’t seem to notice any of these things and continued sipping his coffee.
Once we had settled down, Gidda sat with his legs crossed and spoke up with a sudden access of pontificality. He mainly addressed Gilli.
“Listen to me, Baalak. A great sage called Will Smith once said, “No matter what, no matter who, no matter when, any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet; he just needs the right broom.”
“Oye, there is a girl here. Mind it,” Appi warned with a touch of humour.
“Well, are you just saying or trying to prove it?” Subba said, grinning from ear to ear.
Appi punched him in the gut.
“But Guruji,” Gilli was saying, “don’t you think this is the age of vacuum cleaners, and not broom sticks?” The new master and his new disciple didn’t seem to notice anything that was happening around them.
“Kudos, my boy! You definitely have a bright future. You are right, by the way. This is the age of vacuum cleaners. We need to suck, not sweep. Take Anirudh for example: He is so fat he would still fall down if gravity ceased to exist from this universe. Now, doesn’t he have a girlfriend? He has, my boy. He has. Mind you, she is pretty. See this is what I’m going to prove in this fest.
Subba and I raised our eyebrows. Appi sipped her coffee and muttered under her breath, ‘Guys!’
“So when is your next assignment, Guruji?” Gilli asked, now bowing his head and joining his hands.
“Very soon, my boy. Very soon. Gita says you should just keep trying without worrying about the unforeseen ramifications. Well, not the Gita of Biotechnology dept., but Krishna’s Gita – again, not Nikita’s scumbag boyfriend Krishna, but the real Krishna from Great India.”
“Great India, Guruji?” Gilli asked innocently, his hands still joined.
“I meant Mahabharat, my boy.”
“Oh, Ok Guruji. I got it. The one who had 16,000 girlfriends,” Gilli said, bowing his head once again.
“Those girls are not gonna talk to you all for the rest of your college life, let alone this fest, you know?” Appi was referring to Junglee Billis.
“We can’t help that, Baalikey,” Gidda, our new found philosopher, was saying. “They are not mature enough to understand our theories.”
“Theories?” she asked, still smiling.
“Yes, Baalikey. Theories. We boys are born Ornithologists. We can’t help it. It’s encrypted in our DNA code. Ornithology is a great art just like poetry. In fact it is just another branch of poetry. Well, that makes us artists then, eh? And only mature people can understand an artist’s art and mind. If we do not practice this great art regularly, we are gonna lose it eventually, and we cannot afford that to happen. But as it so happens with every great artist, we sometimes have to face some resistance. For instance: Junglee Billis in our case. Should we ever get discouraged by such things, we won’t be able to create a name for ourselves in the world of Ornithology. So we’ve got to be brave and follow Gita,” Gidda finished his speech. It would be a cliché if I said that we were enlightened. So I won’t say, because I don’t deal with clichés.
Appi burst out laughing.
“Sushma was right when she said that you guys were sick,” she was still laughing.
“Correction, Baalikey. Correction. Didn’t you hear us properly? We are not sick. We suck!”
“You are going to ruin yourself if you continue with this Ornithology crap, you moron,” Appi said, tapping Gidda’s head.
“Baba Oscar Wilde once said, ‘To have ruined one’s self over poetry is an honour’. So I don’t mind ruining myself, for I am an honourable man,” our philosopher said and took a swig of coffee.
“Oh really? But I have never seen any of you flirting with the girls of our college, esp. the ones that have come to this fest. I wonder why,” Appi asked and threw her coffee cup in the waste basket.
“We only deal with exotic species, Baalikey. By the way, they are Junglee Billis. Ornithologists don’t deal with Billis. They deal with,”--- our philosopher was cut in.
“All right, all right. I don’t want to hear any more of this crap and get insulted. I am getting a call from….never mind. Just be there at stage 3 before 11 o’ clock, ok? Off I go. Do whatever you want,” Appi said and got up. She took a few steps away from us, then turned back once, smiled, shook her head and walked away.
“Ok, my boys. It’s time to take some real good pictures,” Gidda announced, taking his camera out of the pouch.
“Aye!” Subba and I said in chorus.
“One small question, Guruji,” Gilli said.
“Go on, my boy,” Gidda said and took the last sip of his coffee.
It was only when he threw his coffee cup that Subba and I noticed we still held the cups in our hands. Our coffee had already become cold. We took a copious draught of it and threw the cups in the dust bin.
“Why is that the girls who are around us never appear to be beautiful for us? I mean every girl looks beautiful other than the girls of our class, our department, our college, etc. I experienced this in my School days as well.”
“Hmmm. That’s a difficult question to answer, my boy. I’ve been trying to figure it out since my birth,” Gidda said, putting a hand on Gilli’s shoulder.
“Since your birth, Guruji?”
“Yes, my boy. When I came to this world 21 years ago, I found the nurse attending the baby lying on the bed next to mine to be more beautiful than the nurse that was attending me. I waggled and cried, but the nurse neglected my cries and said to my mother that I was beautiful. Damn it! If only the other nurse had said it, my baby days would’ve been more beautiful,” Gidda said. He continued after a momentary pause, “You know, it’s like buying an Aston Martin, and suddenly wishing you had bought a Lamborghini instead.”
“Yeah, right,” Gilli, Subba and I sang in chorus.
Gilli said slowly after a minute’s silence, “I’ve decided on something.”
“You make decisions too?” Subba humoured him.
“What is it, my boy?” Gidda asked his disciple.
“Well, I have decided not to introduce my girlfriend to anyone.”
Subba opened his mouth to say something, but before he could say anything, Gilli said, “I mean when I have one in the future.”
Well, Subba didn’t say anything as his query had been answered.
“Same here,” I said.
We then got up and started walking towards the breakfast hall. We saw four of our friends approaching us and waved at them.
It was 8.30 in the morning and we had just spent one hour of our 5 day tour.
Copyright © Karthik 2009