Life in a… Hospital

A hospital is an institution for health care, often but not always providing for longer-term patient stays.

The latter part of a hospital’s definition (which I lifted from Wikipedia, ostensibly) looks somewhat absurd, at least in my point of view. 75% of the patients in any hospital would have stayed locked up in those staidly-coloured four walls reeking with repugnant medicines, not to mention badly-affected fellow patients. A stay in a hospital is an ordeal, or rather, an experience of sorts. For a person who used to boast about never having had to lie in a hospital bed (if you disregard that short while I’d spent with my mom after taking birth!), the accident was bolt from the blue! I not only had to stay in two hospitals for an entire week, but also had to ‘endure’ a 6 hour long surgery so as to fix my badly-fractured clavicle with plate and screws! In retrospect, it was more an experience, even a week-long break, rather than a mishap!

I was taken to the Cosmopolitan Hospital some 15 minutes after the near-fatal bike accident from which I survived by sheer luck. I was ushered into the casualty, where a volley of good-looking nurses ‘attacked’ me scanning for any injuries. Even after my mentioning all perceivable cuts, bruises, and the apparent-clavicle fracture, they kept examining me; running their soft hands all over my body! (for a moment, I fantasised them stripping me in a bid to examine further cuts! 😉 It felt so damn good to be caressed by 20-something, good-looking girls! ) Soon, I was X-Rayed, and even subject to an MRI scan (to examine my head which suffered strong impact), which felt rather too futuristic and scary. Meanwhile dad was busy filling forms and informing mom & relatives. Within no time, I was surrounded by a sea of people, and I was tired detailing the story of my accident! (On a more precise note, I’ve mentioned the story some 246 times, the last one being yesterday! :P).

Soon, Dr Rajeev, the ortho-specialist at Cosmo met me and made me aware of my situation. The crack in my clavicle was complicated. The broken pieces were almost parallel & some parts had fragmented. There was a more than 90% chance that the fracture would heal automatically. If it didn’t heal significantly in a week, I’d have to undergo surgery. So as to accelerate the healing, my shoulder was fitted with shoulder-cuffs. The process of fitting the cuffs wasn’t painful. Besides, my left hand was fixed in an old-fashioned sling. The good doctor, in equally good humour, made me aware of how a helmet would have saved my head and clavicle (I swear, I won’t ride a bike again WITHOUT wearing a helmet, if at all I do so again!).

At the end of the day, when I was almost relieved that I could leave homeward with my stoic dad and near-hysterical mom (who was trying hard to keep a cool face, albeit unsuccessfully), this geeky-neuro specialist comes and announces matter-of-factly:
മറ്റെന്നാള് വീട്ടില് പോയാല് പോരെ? ഒരു ദിവസം observation ഇല് കിടക്കട്ടെ. തലയ്ക്കു നല്ല impact ഉണ്ടായിട്ടുണ്ട്. നിങ്ങള്ക്ക് വേണമെങ്ങില് മതി.”
(“You have to stay put for a 24 hours-observation. He’s had a good impact on his head. There’s no compulsion, though.”)
I had this queer feeling that I ‘d become somewhat amnesiac, post accident. That feeling subsided when I heard the doc’s words. I found myself mumbling the choicest of swear words which I’d Iearned after quite a lot of research on my own!. F**k! Two days at the hospital!

There was quite a delay in room-allotment,for some inscrutable reason. It was about 8 in the evening when we got a room. It was the quintessential-hospital room, complete with green bedsheets, white walls, even a white fan! By now I’d almost got used to living life solely with my right hand. There were some, ahem, technical problems with defecation and stuff, but thanks to my agile mind (and tissue paper!) I overcame them all!

After one harried day and two nights at the hospital, I was discharged on December 5 noon. The hand wasn’t too good. Though the pain was bearable and minimal, I was feeling totally uncomfortable. Since we had study holidays until January 1, when my third semester exams would begin, the problem of losing classes became redundant. Still, it was difficult for me to sit upright for more than half an hour. My only pastime was to lie down on bed and sleep/read. It seems the Gods weren’t particularly satisfied even after crippling me. The next stroke came in the form of First year exam results, the very next day after I reached home! I didn’t pass and had three bloody back papers! Though my plight spared much of parents’ blitzkrieg, I had to meekly listen to dad’s rather loud thoughts on whether I was fit for engineering education, much to my chagrin.

Before I was admitted to SP Fort. Location: Verandah, My home.

The next day (December 6), we visited Dr Cheriyan Thomas (a famous orthopedic surgeon at Trivandrum) to crosscheck the Cosmo diagnosis.(my dad rarely trusts a single doctor! He always looks for multiple opinions.) For those who don’t know Dr Cheriyan, he’s a gem of a man. A God in human avatar. No, I’m not resorting to hyperbole. There’s some extra-dimensional aura about his bald, pointed visage and probing eyes! Even before we could utter a word, he asked us:
“Bike ഇല് നിന്നും വീണതാണോ?” (Was this a bike accident?)
“താന് engineering student അല്ലെ?” (You’re an engineering student, right?”)
We were dumbfound!
He gingerly took my X-Ray, probed it for a while, and spent a quiet ten seconds in deep-thought. His mind seemed to have been calculating at speeds that would shame a Core-2-duo processor!
Pat came the repartee:
“തന്നെ ശരിയാവാന് സാധ്യത ഉണ്ട്, പക്ഷെ risk എടുക്കാന് പറ്റില്ല. മാത്രമല്ല crack വളരെ complicated ആണ്. ശരിയായില്ലെങ്ങില്…??” A few moments of deep thought. “ഒരു കാര്യം ചെയ്യാം. Let’s do a surgery. Come to SP Fort hospital tomorrow, at 9:30 AM.”
He hurriedly wrote a prescription in some language which vaguely resembled English.
തനിക്ക് പെടിയോന്നുമില്ലല്ലോ?” He looked up and asked.

That was it. For the first time, my body was about to be ripped apart! I didn’t find the situation particularly horrifying. It was an exciting proposition. I’m going to be a “man of steel”. A cyborg of sorts. Metal detectors would beep incessantly when I come to their vicinity. Wow. This is cool!

If you haven’t been to the SP fort hospital, inside the Fort, Trivandrum; please do so someday. At least for curiosity’s sake. The sheer volume of patients, crammed into a not-so-big but sophistic five storeyed building, is mind-boggling! Even more amazing is the fact that 85% of them come for Orthopedic treatments, thanks to the ‘referrals’ by Dr Thomas. He, as a matter of fact, is the sole reason the hospital makes eye-poppingly huge profits!

Though we reached the hospital at 9:30. We had to wait till 12 for me to get examined by doctor(s) and get my body scanned for any possible body-reactions & anomalies which could happen during surgery. I was first allotted a general ward: a room which was roughly as big as my cosmo room, but housed 6 beds, the same amount of patients, and perhaps three times the number of bystanders. It was suffocation personified! I spent the worst three hours of my life there. My dad had contacts at the right places. Thanks to which, we got a cool (pun intended) Air conditioned room, complete with state-of-the-art bathroom and LCD TV by evening!

The surgery was scheduled the very next day. They removed my old shoulder cuffs, and I bathed lavishly after a gap of three days! 😛 I was made to sign a ‘contract’ sort of thing, mentioning that I was willing for the surgery. Then, I was made to wear this blue, check-gown, with buttons on the back. (I was supposed to wear JUST that, not even underwear!). A painless sedative was injected onto my left buttock, and I was made to lie on a stretcher. The feeling of drowsiness began to set in slowly but steadily. The last thing I remember was Dr Thomas’s words when he first saw me at the operation table:
“ആ. ഇതു നമ്മുടെ Engineering student അല്ലെ?” (“Hey, this is our engineering student, right?”)


An X-Ray of my clavicle post-surgery. They fixed it with plate & screws.

I was woken up by rather loud sounds. My stretcher was being rolled out of the theatre and a whole lot of faces: parents, their coworkers, cousins, uncles, were peering on me, mumbling something. Dad asked, pointing to my cousin: മോനേ, ഇതാരാണെന്നു മനസ്സിലായോ?” (Know who this guy is) I felt enraged. True that they’d implanted a metallic plate onto my shoulder. I hadn’t lost my mind! പിന്നെ, ഒരു ഓപ്പറേഷന് കഴിഞ്ഞാലും ഞാന് അയ്യപ്പന് ചേട്ടനെ മറക്കില്ല!” (C’mon, how can I forget Ayypapan chettan?) I was referring to my cousin Krishna (whose pet name is Ayyappan). I blurted it our rather loudly, and erm, a whole team of nurses and doctors ran to me, thinking I’d gone wild (Dad told this to me later!)

Back at the SP Fort room, I was shivering under the AC. The LCD TV, which showed the IPL Twenty20 cup, numerous movies, sitcoms and news channels failed to give me solace. My hand was fastened onto a drip, which gave me glucose. I wasn’t supposed to eat food for a whole day, so the glucose was my nutrition. My mind was disturbed. I wasn’t fully aware of my surroudings. My phone rang incessantly, lots of visitors came: friends, classmates, relatives, parents’ coworkers. Though, all of them got pleasant, but discreet answers for their queries it wasn’t I who did the answering. It was my subconscious mind! I vomited three times that day. I couldn’t sleep for two continuous nights. Dad says, I repeatedly shouted out loud in English at nights, telling “I want to go home!” and “Release me!”. The effects of anesthesia were taking their toll on me. It was living hell!

It took two days for me to get back to normal. By now, I could sit upright & walk freely. I got back to my senses, and began to *enjoy* the hospital life. It was cool! In the sense, I had absolutely nothing to do! There were just a few things in my itinerary: Watch TV, Read (IEEE Spectrums, India Todays and The Argumentative Indian), eat, sleep, talk on phone (which rang almost twice ever ten minutes), and ‘entertain’ visitors. All this at a steady 22 degree celsius, 24 x 7. Though fits of boredom settled in sometimes, friends called me often, just to ensure that I wasn’t bored! (Thanks a bunch, guys & gals!). By monday (December 10, 2007), I was discharged, and headed home.

A few afterthoughts:

* The most notable change in me after the entire fiasco, was the change in character. I grew close to my parents. Their pain, their dedication, and above all their love for me; it all drove me to tears many a time. I realized the value of human relationships. Especially, the fact that I had always been a black sheep in the family despite all their love to me. I became a better, more empathetic and responsible human being.

* I became aware of safe-driving habits, thanks to the hours and hours of discourse I had to hear on Traffic rules, et al! 😀 Hey, I’m serious!

* “A friend in need is a friend indeed!”. Understood the meaning of the proverb. A BUNCH OF THANKS to all those who took the pains to call me once in a while to inquire how I am, especially to those who took the pains to visit me, pacify me, and give me new hopes! Will never forget ye, buddies… You touched my heart! Special thanks goes to Chitra, who actually changed her hello-tunes often to entertain me! She had me grooving to “Ishq Hua”, from Aaja Nachley.(which even today is a hit-song in my playlist.) Also to my cousin, who took leave from his humongous-paying globe trotting job, to visit me often; even lending me his iPod! People, you blew my heart away!

* On the contrary, the fiasco came as a reality check. Many whom I’d considered my best buddies for life, did never call me once and didn’t even check whether I’m alive or dead. Some purposefully shunned me. I’d done so much for them! They could at least have called me once. Even when I’d call them, they’d talk in non-committal way, eager to cut the call citing obnoxious reasons! (I refuse to name them). To those friends, if you’re reading this, you broke my heart. But, to err is human! I have no grudge against you. 😀

* I started respecting nurses and nursing as a profession. I felt touched by the smiling angelic faces, who visited me daily, inquiring how I felt, holding my hand, taking my pulse, calling my mom “aunty”, and my dad “uncle”. They had nothing to gain,by treating me well, but still they did! (Most nurses at SP Fort are students of their nursing school. Which means, they pay the hospital to work as nurses, day & night under hard conditions!). Kudos too all of you, sisters! You have a meaty role in my health, wellness and recovery today.

*Last, but never the least… hearty thanks to all those doctors who’d treated me. Especially to Cheriyan Thomas sir! Had it not been for your diligence and care when you treated/operated upon me, I would not have survived today! Sincere gratitude to you too!

Post surgery, after my stitches were removed

The tail end:
While we were about to leave after settling the Rs 50,000/- (my parents’ salary for that month combined!), we met a head-nurse. What she mentioned, left me open-mouthed in shock. The day I had my surgery, four severe accident cases were admitted to the hospital. All four were Engineering Students! 😮

P.S. Some images in this post are subject to copyright of the respective owners.


My First Date: Part 2

This post is a sequel to my previous post The First Date: Part 1. If you haven’t already read that, do read that for a better reading experience. Keep commenting!

By the time I reached the temple, I realized that I couldn’t take my bag inside: where you’d have to do a la’ Gandhiji and walk half-naked inside the Sreekovil (the inner recesses of the temple, where the idol(s) of the main deity reside) . I decided to deposit the bag in the house of a friend (he happens to be a descendant of the H.H. Sree Chithira Thirunal Ramavarma who ruled Travancore) who lived nearby. His ultra-religious mother was SO impressed by me DEVOTION that she began scolding her not-so-religious son, for not visiting the temple often. Meanwhile, Radhika; the quintessentially-punctilious girl was murdering my phone with a saga of calls and smses! I bade a quick good-bye to my friend and ran to the temple which was nearby, leaving his mother to comment about how polite and God-fearing I was! Little did she know that God was the last thing on my mind at the moment.

Depositing my chappals at a paid repository, I gingerly entered the temple through the main entrance that was flanked by a huge arch. As soon as I entered, my eyes almost instinctively began searching for a blue-salvar clad girl. Lo and behold!! Not one, no two, but THREE girls in blue salvars were praying with closed eyes and folded hands. 😦 Sadly again, each one had a resemblance to the pic Radhika had sent me (you see, I’m pretty bad at remembering faces)! Exasperated, I tried missed-calling Radhika, only to remember that the temple authorities were rather strict about banning mobiles. I was in a fix!

The only key was to pray. I felt like actor Jayaram in the mallu movie Summer in Bethlehem. The “Confusion theerkaname…”(Relieve me of the confusion) song came to my mind! 😀 One by one, the salvared girls, opened their eyes and went inside. I decided to move about the place. The fact that I was sweating profusely having had to run a lot prevented me from entering the Sreekovil. I stood outside and idly moved around the temple, hands folded, pretending a prayer. So near, yet so distant… “Paas ho tum, door bhi…”. I could feel my heart exploding in expectation! Where IS RADHIKA??

Almost as an answer to my question, the mobile vibrated in my chest-pocket. It was her. I picked it up unmindful of the mobile-ban:

Where are you?”
A hushed-voice counter-questioned: “Are you inside the temple?”
By God, I AM!!”
“I didn’t see you. Did you see me?”
“Where did those 2 other blue-salvared girls come from? I couldn’t…”
“Hey! That guy’s staring at my mobile. Wait, I’ll come out.”

The call ended. I ran around the temple to the entrance. Still no sign of her. I walked back, lips vibrating as I muttered a volley of abuses. Was this girl making a fool out of me?

The mobile vibrated.
Hey!! Wh…”
“I just got out. Where are you?”
I turned around, and saw a blue-salvared girl talking on the phone, looking around.

It WAS Radhika!!!

She caught up with my eyes pointing an inquisitive finger at me, shifting her MotoRazr v3i from her ear. I could feel those expressive eyes question me: ‘Is that you?’. My face broke into a grin, pepped with sigh of relief mutely-affirming the authenticity of her guess. Her inquisitive expression altered and her face widened, revealing what would be one of the cutest smiles I’d ever …

Radhika ran to me!!
“Hello there, my best friend!!” beaming, she ran to me and almost snatched my right hand in a shake-hand; making all the passers-by stare at us as if we’ed French-kissed in public or something! Her hand had a unique feel about it. A softness that resembled velvet. Soothing, it was, even refreshing!!
Hi!”, I replied weakly. I could feel something happen inside me. As if the energy of her shakehand overpowered me. A quick back-flip of my stomach and a quick weakening of knees. I thought I would lose my grip and collapse instantly.

Hey, you’re cuter than you look in your pics. And, what beautiful eyes… Wow!! Still can’t believe you don’t have any girlfriends yet!” Radhika’s face careened, donning an expression of mischief. I was genuinely blushing! Cocking up my right eyebrow, I stammered: “Haven’t I told you my stories or rather, escapades?”
“Oh kay, loverboy!! My apologies!! Come to
Bangalore and a guy like you will get any number of girlfriends… Oh, damn! I forgot we’re inside the temple!” she sheepishly smiled. “Let’s walk.” Radhika & I walked along.

There was something different about Radhika. I’ve felt it all through the time I’ve known her. She had altogether different perspectives; different points of view & varying schools of thought. She spoke of things other girls would never dream of and she argued against the conventional. She was, indeed, one of the most brilliant persons I’d ever known. And, she was gorgeous too. Her face was dazzling; her exquisite eyes often spoke before her mouth: they moved almost involuntarily as she spoke, probably conveying a coded message. The blue salvar matched her body, accentuating her curves. (I swore myself for staring at them! Damn!!)

We talked about each others’ lives as we walked our way visiting deity by deity, though we knew most details by rote. Most of our conversations were in English. But today, Radhika spoke in a heady mixture of stuttering Malayalam and English. I spoke of my mundane life, my problems with parents, Opdyne – my dreamchild, my aims of making it big at the IIMs et al. She spoke of her academics: How her lawyer dad was disappointed at not getting her admitted to NLSIU, and how he expected her to top her class, which, needless-to-say was sort-of a myth at the prestigious Christ’s. She spoke about her brother Anoop who was in the final year of his studies at NIT Surathkal, badly messed up with drugs and drinks, about her friend Archana, who has supported her through good and bad times, about her last boyfriend Anikth, a Delhiite, who try to lay her, albeit unsuccessfully, by making her drunk… By the time we’ed got out of the temple, I could see tears welling up in her eyes as she spoke of Ankith: “He was such a sweet guy. Never ever thought he would try to use me!! We had such nice times together!”

I felt genuinely sad seeing the plight of my friend:
“Rads, Haven’t I told you something? NEVER believe guys. And, that includes me. You’re an intelligent girl. You don’t need me to tell you how guys are. You’ve already had three failed relationships, if I’m not wrong. Then why?” Wasn’t that a bit too corny?
“Yeah, you’re right. But, you know something, Hari? I don’t have anyone to talk to. I need someone to lend me a shoulder. I want someone to love me, dammit!!”

Tears were flowing down her eyes. I have a queer problem. I can’t bear seeing anyone cry in front of me. Especially if that’s a girl who happens to be a buddy. Mortified, I pulled out my handkerchief and wiped the tears from Radhika’s eyes:
“Now now… You’re not in
Bangalore. You’re with me now, aren’t you? You have ME to lend you a shoulder. I won’t allow you to be sad. Just forget that Ankith guy. You learnt he’s an asshole before it was too late, right? Cheer up!! We’re meeting for the first time, and I don’t want our first meeting to be drowned by emotions.” Way too corny again, I realized. But being corny just works out right in emotionally charged moments!
Just forget it, Rads! Btw, you’re a pizza addict right?”
“Yeah, I am. And, I badly miss the pepperoni!”
she said, forcing a smile on her tear-worn face.
“Now, that’s an excuse for a treat!! You know what, there’s a Pizza Corner in town. It’s just a couple of kilometers ahead. Why don’t we go there and have a bite? It’s my treat!”
“Okay!! I’d love to.”

I hired an auto and we went to the Pizza Corner at Statue.

I’m sort-of a regular at the PC. I have a cousin of mine who’s kinda’ addicted to Pizzas. But she’s afraid to go to the PC alone and can’t bring home deliveries fearing the wrath of parents. So, she forces me to come with her every time she goes to the PC, and that happens about four to six times a week! As we opened the door, the waiter recognized me and smiled.

It was about six in the evening and the place was brim-full. Thankfully, the waiter managed to clear out a couple who’d done with their pizzas for us, and gave us a cozy sofa-seat at the end. There was an LCD TV on the wall next to us tuned to MTV. Both of us ordered Pepproni and coke. I noticed that Radhika was back to her usual self. Perhaps the idea of having a Pizza cheered her up a lot. Or maybe, my ‘corny’ dialogues did work! I couldn’t be sure. A couple of minutes into our PC date revealed that a majority of the guys around us were ogling at Radhika, some even commenting about her ‘features’. Radhika too might’ve noticed, but she sat there chatting with me as if nothing had happened.

“The bloody mofos. Feel like kicking those buggers in their asses. Look at them staring at you.” I muttered, feeling harried.
“Ah. I don’t care, Hari. A girl in
Bangalore must learn to live with this, you know?”

The pizzas arrived, and we devoured them merrily. I noticed that, like me Radhika too spared the spoon and fork while eating pizzas. Four slices later, full-stomached, we decided to leave the place. Realizing my shock at seeing the Rs 350-bill, Radhika offered to pay for the meal. Chauvinist that Iam, I protested! Despite my best efforts, I had to finally accept a toned-down offer of sharing the cost, partly due to economic concerns. As we were walking to the auto-stand, Radhika said:

“You know something, Hari? This was one of the BEST days in my life. Thanks for coming!”
“Aw! C’mon, what’s there to thank!! As someone said, ‘
There’s neither sorry nor thank you in friendship’ (a line SRK would later steal in OSO!!) I’ll be there with you as a loving friend till my dying date” And, I meant it!

“So sweet… You ARE one of my best friends. Love you!!”



God!! I was dumbfound!! I felt as if the entire public in statue junction was staring at me (actually, most of them were!). I could feel tears welling up my eyes, and my cheeks were almost pink! Radhika was almost laughing uproariously seeing my confused face.

“Oh GOD!! What a sight??!! At this rate, I would love to see your face, when you get your first kiss”.

I couldn’t speak.

Radhika clasped my hand and said:
”I know you care for me a lot. I know you’ve spent your valuable hours, making me happy, making me feel I’m wanted, just by being there. Here’s a small gift”
She opened her bag and gave me a neatly covered box.
“Don’t open it now, it’s a surprise!”
We walked for sometime until we reached the auto-stand. She got into an auto and left to her grandfather’s house at Jawahar Nagar. She kept waving back at me, until I was out of her sight. I thought I saw a tear in her eye.

As Radhika left, I gingerely opened the box. It was a beautiful greeting card titled “YOU ARE MY STRENGTH”. Inside, there was a small cover, with a 2 GB SD Card. (She knows I’m a geek. Heh.) As I was walking back, my phone buzzed again. Must be Radhika. Without checking the caller ID, I picked up the phone and said:
”Hey Rads, loved the card!! Thank you!!”
“Rads oo?? Enthuvaade ninakku vattaayo? Ambalathil poyavane oru manikkoor aayi kaananillathathu kondu vilichatha. Nee evideya ippo?” (What Rads? Are you mad? Didn’t see your for an hour since you left for the temple. Where are you?) It was my friend at whose place I’d left my bag.
“Nyaan daa varunnu. Oru 2 minutes.”(I’ll reach in two minutes). As I climbed into an auto, wondering what excuse I would say to my friend for being late, memories of my first date flashed past… What had begun with a kiss had after all ended up with a kiss.

Indeed, it was one of the best days of my life!!

The First Date: Part 1

Her eyes were ravishing by their own right. As she trained those shallow pools of hazel and white on mine accompanied by that trademark twitch of head and cocked up eyebrow, her wavy hair intermittently fell on her face. Those dimples accentuated her understated beauty as she revealed that divine smile to me, a mischievous variant, that is. In a flash, her expression morphed into an inscrutable one. Her face grew intense. I could feel her grip in my hand tighten. We desperately needed each other. I released the grip on her hand, and drew her towards me. I could already feel the warmth of her body; her lips curled in anticipation. Mine did too, almost instinctively. As her face neared mine, and as our lips were about to lock each other in what would be a passionate kiss…


The sound was so intense that for a moment, I mistook it for a siren in a nearby factory. After a nanosecond of contemplation, I rightly identified it as the R’n’ B ringtone in my Nokia 2600. I opened my eyes, part wondering where the girl with me and the cozy environs of Hotel Ritz had disappeared. The Nokia blared indignantly, ripping into shreds what would’ve been one of the best dreams I’ve ever had. Conscientiously censoring the choiciest of swear words that crept into my mouth, I put the phone to my ear, sleepily pressing the ‘answer’ button in the process.


The scream was so intensely pitched that I had to keep the handset from ear for a second to shield my sensitive ‘elephant’ ears from the cacophony.

“Who is this?”
“Has the damned caller ID of your 100 rupee mobile fused itself, you cracked-head idiot? It’s me, Radhika!”, said the sweet female voice, which seemed to be out of match with the shrilled one that almost broke my ear apart. Radhika was an old friend of mine. She undisputedly, was my first female friend and one of my best buddies. We’ed befriended each other through a chat room some four years back. She lives in Bangalore and is doing her Law in the Christ College.

“Hey!! You just scared the shits outta me!! What a time to call?? It isn’t even 4 in the morning. By the way, you just murdered a dream!”
“Aha. Mr Romeo now has dreams… Who’s the lucky girl?”
“C’mon Radhika. Change of topic. How come you’re up so early, and it’s been a while since we last talked, right?”
“Yeah. I was a bit busy for sometime. Lots of assignments, tones of workload. Now it’s end-of-sem, and I’m free!!! YIPEE!!!”
“Wow, that’s great. So, goanna top your class this time too, eh?”
“Yeah yeah. Keep dreaming. Screwed up 3 papers bigtime. Dunno if I’ll clear all. Hey, guess what, I’m in
Trivandrum now!!”
“You IN
TRIVANDRUM!! Hey, that’s double surprise!! What for?”
“We reached yesterday evening. Wanted to call you right as we touched down, but was too tired. So decided to surprise you with a wake-up call! I’ll be in town for a couple of days. Dad was so desperate to visit his parents, so I decided to give in and jump along!”
“Hmmm, so…”
“Hey hari..”
she broke in: “You free today evening? Let’s meet up!”.
“Today evening?”

I sadly realized that the fateful day could potentially be one of the worst days of the year. Two badly written records up for submission plus a class test in Discrete Structures. To top it all, a much rescheduled client meeting in the evening.

“Sorry Rads, not today. Too tight. Won’t be free in the…”
“Dude… You know something, I just agreed to come with dad to this fucking place so that I could get to see you. Remember, we’ve known each other for four years, but haven’t met even once!! We might never get such a great opportunity to see each other. Please man!”

There’s some enshrouded charm about the plea of a ‘fair maiden’ which arouses a sudden fit of determination and drive in a guy. I realized that the girl had a point, and decided to give in. But I doubted and asked whether she knew her way to the ‘vantage points’ of the city, to which she quickly boasted of knowing the city inside out, having spent the first ten years of her life here. Her choice of the meeting place gave me the real shock of my life!

“Why don’t we meet up in the temple?”, she quipped. Knowing Radhika too well, I gathered that this ‘temple’ was some new ultra-cool hang-out place in town. These bangaloreans have this unique skill to sniff out all those hang out joints in a jiffy. “ I was planning to go temple-hopping today evening, anyway!Let’s see, I like that Shiva temple in the heart of the city. Why don’t we meet up there?”, she purred, almost sounding like a Birthday party invitation to a Café Coffee Day!!

“Erm, won’t a temple be a bit too out-of-place?”
“If you want to meet me this evening, come to that
Shiva Temple in Sreekanteshawaram. I’d be there at 5.30 sharp, wearing blue salvars. You remember my face right?”

“Yeah.” Rads had e-mailed me a few pics sometime back. “And, I’ll be wearing a green shirt, and cream-coloured chinos. Just in case, you’ve forgotten my face.”
“Now, that’s a deal! Wow.. sounds exciting! Meeting for the first time in a temple? Our relationship’s goanna last real-long! Hey, mom calling gotto go. Be there at 5.30 okay? Bye, take care. Love you!”

By now, I was fully awake and conscious. Sitting down distraught on my bed, I tried to organize my cluttered mind. After a minute of contemplation, I was back to myself. A mixture of emotions; ranging from anticipation to a tinge of euphoria were building up. The previous night was more strenuous than usual, thanks to the back-breaking record-work. Radhika’s call, coupled with the dream came as a welcome relief. I was going to meet a buddy of four years for the first time; I’d never ever imagined in the wildest of dreams that I would see her any soon, but life sometimes gives you its share of pleasant memories…

I usually don’t give a damn about dressing up to college. But today, I decided to do some grooming. I chose the dark green Excalibur shirt and chinos, just as I’d told Radhika. That morning found me spending close to thirty minutes before grooming my perennially-unkempt hair using an ill-used Brylcreem gel, clearing my face of all the facial hair that had accumulated over the past week, and on the whole: making myself presentable. On my way to college, the realization stung me. This was my first date! This was the first time I was going to ‘make-out’ with someone of the opposite sex. Before the realization could overcome my dreamy self, I made myself aware of the warm friendly relation that existed between Radhika and I. It was based on pure but intimate friendship. No romantic baggage attached. Besides, Radhika would soon be ‘moving on’ to her fifth boyfriend in a week’s time, or so she said.

The day at college turned out to be a routinely-mundane one. Thankfully, a strike by SFI citing the absurdest of reasons (some guy in some remote college burned the SFI flag, or so the GenSec said) averted the record submission and the test!. So, there was no class that day. The client-meeting too got postponed for the umpteenth time. (Damn!) Which saw me jobless (having refused an offer to a movie), and bored, roaming through PMG junction. I tried calling Rads, but her phone was switched off. With nothing to do until 5.30, I walked into the British Library and spent some five-odd hours there, during which I finished reading a Jeffrey Archer Book, Twelve Red Herrings. At about five, Radhika called to confirm my arrival. I caught an auto from Statue Junction and headed to the Shiva temple at Sreekanteshwaram, where Radhika told she’ll come.

<End of Part 1>

P.S. Was planning to write this post as an undivided, single one; short & sweet. But, as I started writing, it just began growing out of proportions. I decided to call it a day then. Series exams going on at the moment, lots to study. But, don’t worry. Part 2 will be up in a week, so keep commenting and lemme know whether you liked this or not!