Thursday, July 30, 2009

Newor Osnohpla Arierep cometh !

“The closest that I’ve been to a woman in my life is ‘– 8 inches’ …”

- Rowen Alphonso Pereira

Famous last words? The fact that this bloke has gotten himself married to a really nice girl in recent times would make one surmise that these would have made nice last words indeed considering that these words were uttered long before he got married. But, this statement too, like innumerable others which were uttered in the recklessness that can only be induced by the consumption of certain alcoholic concoctions (not excluding cough syrup) couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. That’s ‘minus 8 inches’ by the way if you were wondering … and may God have mercy on your soul if you’re still wondering. Read on …

If you’ve ever read the story of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, then you could possibly begin to comprehend the effect that alcohol has had (and will always have) on this otherwise well groomed, ‘soft spoken’, well behaved and devout Catholic Manglorean lad (that’s quite a mouthful of good words that I’ve heaped upon him, but bear with me won’t you?). One minute he’s Rowen, the good natured dude we’d all come to love and the next, he’s sweaty, mad-eyed and horny (and this is when there were only us guys around). Most scientific investigations into the matter have concluded quite univocally that this indeed is the way that a normal human body should react when there’s too little blood in one’s alcohol stream but our man Rowen, here, was probably the reason why the term ‘alter ego’ was invented. Even the clumsy, mild mannered Clark Kent was the alter ego for the superhero that we all know as ‘Superman’ but Rowen’s no superhero (and his alter ego aint either). Perish the thought! For one, Clark Kent never had to get drunk to turn into Superman … in fact most people believe that he was a die hard teetotaler because Clark Kent never had to drink to fly (I’ve lost myself here). Now, I’m not saying that Rowen could take off on a rendezvous with the stars every time he had a peg or two of the good stuff, but there are a couple of times I could have sworn that he’d levitated an inch or two off the ground after a couple of swigs.

One thing that they both (Superman and Rowen) do have in common however is ‘Kryptonite’. Now, let’s not get the wrong idea here, that Rowen gets all light headed and woozy when exposed to Kryptonite. He’s hardly the sole survivor of the ancient planet of Krypton, who’s adopted our world as his own. I’m merely using ‘Kryptonite’ as a metaphor here (What? You’ve never heard of ‘Kryptonite’ being used as a metaphor before? Sue me!) . For those who’re wondering what I’m talking about here (read: rotting under a rock for the last 10 years), here’s a flashback to 2003 when Rowen, as our beloved class representative was addressing us on the last day of college where he began his speech thus - ‘Big problems come in small sizes …’

When Rowen addressed the congregation on his wedding day, I kinda drifted back to ‘those days’. It’s funny how we always think of ‘those day’ when we have our hands full with ‘these days’, but ‘those’ were truly the days to be in. I’m sure that I wouldn’t be alone in wishing that I had a time machine that could just take me back in time to the days that were so that I might then be able to savour and relive all those memories gone by, but only through the eyes of an outsider this time around. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as much fun as being part of all those ‘events’ but I’ve always maintained that somebody ought to have videotaped all that crap!

Rowen’s always had a penchant for women who exceeded the height of the average Indian woman and women with below average height for an Indian woman, have always had a penchant for Rowen. He spent the first couple of semesters chasing bigger women (note how I’ve subtly concealed the fact that it was just one woman) and little women (same technique of subterfuge) spent the next six chasing him. To be or ‘Nath’ to be, that was always the question for Rowen in the beginning but the dude managed to shake her … er, ‘them’ (phew) off like a bad habit … eventually, or so he claims. Rumours, however had it that the woman in question here noticed one evening as she was walking to Cubbon Park (where she used to park her Kinetic Honda for the first two semesters) that she had two shadows instead of one and told the one that did not belong to get a life. A few confessions at Church later, our man was as good as new and was ready to take the torments that lay ahead, head-on. The abominable Kutti was not part of his life … yet …

When Rowen was in the prime of his youth, he weighed a couple of hundred pounds and was a couple of inches taller than he is today. He could have been the face of India in the WWE (The great Kali, who?), but who’d have thought that a person who could have stopped a speeding train with his bare hands … ok a speeding Hero Honda splendor (I’m kinda stuck up with Superman today), would cower in fear and hide behind CR (CR was and still is the exact opposite of Rowen’s description) at a bus stop when he saw the abominable Kutti approach. Few knew it then, but Rowen sure did, that obsession can be a dangerous thing. We always thought that if somebody raided Kytty’s house, they’d find a shrine dedicated to Rowen, with an effigy of him, strands of his hair, used tissues that he’d disposed off and all kinds of other freaky stuff.

The story goes that at the height of the imaginary affair that this woman was having with our lad (as a consequence of which she followed Rowen more efficiently than the Hutch nework), she once actually mustered the courage to go all the way to his house one day. Her alibi was that she had to see a doctor and needed to use the phone urgently. The poor lad fortunately saw her coming (arriving … just in case you’re a pervert) and managed to hide himself in the remotest corner of his house. I don’t know whether it was the knowledge that she knew where he lived or the fact that she had to see a doctor and was at his house as a consequence that scared the dude out of his pants, but the fact remains that he did not come out of the nook that he had chosen to hide himself in, till the next morning. This saga too, sadly (for us, not for Rowen) came to an end however, the means by which we’re not entirely clear about but the very fact that the abominable kutty was conspicuous by her absence at Mangalore is reassuring that ‘it’ is truly over.

Stories abound about Rowen’s escapades during Engineering College. It’s not just the fact that the guy was a regular Casanova, but also that the guy had a mischievous side as well. It’s been so many years now, so I don’t exactly remember whether it was aptech or NIIT (it’s not relevant anyway) but the representatives from one of these institutions once came to college pitching an offer for students. The offer was that we all had to take a test that they’d administer and we’d all then get discounts on the course depending on our scores in the test. The topper would even get to attend the course free of charges. Most of us thought that it would be prudent to capitalize on the offer and add another point to our CVs ahead of the placement season but Rowen had something else planned all together. Yes, he would indeed take the test but using a pseudonym which he would derive by slightly altering his name. When we’d completed the test, we met Rowen outside the center grinning from ear to ear. It all came to light when we saw the folks from the institute frantically searching for a ‘Mr. Newor Osnohpla Arierep’ who had topped the test but was nowhere to be found. It was like one of those movies about geniuses, where a shy genius would solve a cryptic mathematical problem left un-erased on a blackboard by a professory and then disappear without telling a soul or taking credit for the solution. The few of us who knew the truth didn’t dare tell them for fear that our college would be blacklisted by the institute but we were amused to no end nonetheless. Years later a Hyderabad based IT company would use the same technique to very good effect!

Rowen never had to invite anybody twice to his house. He’d just have to tell us that he was having the house to himself for half a day, and people would just miraculously apparate at his house. Rowen’s folks used to make this killer wine at home that was to just die for. So much so, that the demand would often well exceed supply. Once, we were all done with quenching our ‘thirsts’, our lad suddenly realized that his little scam ran the risk of being discovered by his folks. So, he devised the strategy of emptying multiple bottles half way and then topping them up with water so that his folks would always find full bottles. I guess, they stopped making the stuff at home when one of their guests complained that the wine that they were being served tasted like water. So, ended Rowen’s little scam and our happy hours. :D

But, that’s definitely not the end of Rowen’s affiliations with alcohol. Like I’d said a little earlier on, Rowen’s just not the same person when he’s under the influence. He turns into this (for lack of a better term) horny, sweaty bull-dozer with a perpetual grin etched upon his face. Flash back to our class trip to Ooty and Kodaikanal …

When Rowen got himself tipsy during that trip (Gardhi had his first taste of kerosene during this outing), all hell broke loose and the poor dude managed to do all kinds of unspeakable stuff that even a hundred confessions wouldn’t have helped. The first sign that things were about to take a turn for the worst was when Ravi and I, who had decided to retire from the camp fire to our lodge along with a few others heard the heavy thuds that gradually grew closer and closer until the floor boards actually began to shake. The door was then flung open with immense force and there stood the menacing silhouette of a man who was way out of control. Rowen, then trudged in with an evil grin on his face and eyes gleaming with madness. He walked over to the nearest arm chair and collapsed on it with an almighty thud! We thought that things were under control, and decided to call it a day and dimmed the lights. But things were just beginning to heat up. Our female classmates who had accompanied us on the trip were the previous occupants of the lodge that were in and we’d switched lodges with them as they were fewer in number and the lodge which they had taken up first was the largest at the resort. All that separated the two lodges was a flimsy door with a glass window. We’d just turned the lights off, when Rowen who had dozed off (or so we thought) woke up with a start and went charging towards the poor door. He first tried pushing the door, but the door surprisingly didn’t give which angered the poor soul to no end, having been rebuked and denied the forbidden fruit. He then proceeded to let the door know how he felt about its reluctance to budge by raining blow after blow upon it (Hell truly knows no fury like that of Rowen scorned!). It might be relevant now to add that these girls had retired to their lodge much earlier than the rest of us and were (until) now sound asleep. When Rowen finally realized that even an alcohol induced frenzy was not enough to bring the door down, it was time to resign to the oldest tactic – ‘sour grapes’. A physical assault was proving to be futile as the door seemed to be held together by divine force, so it was time to try ‘verbal assault’. Rowen first rained the choicest of abuses upon the door and then after he caught a glimpse of the feet of one of the girls at the edge of their bed, began shouting about completely unrelated stuff. The rant (as far as the faculty of my memory still serves me) went thus …

“You ****in’ ***res … what the **** are you doing in there … and what the **** is all that light supposed to be? A ****in’ nightlamp? Come out here …” (The rest shall not be mentioned here to safeguard the modesty of all people concerned … especially Rowen’s ;) ) … THUD ! (That was Rowen falling down on the floor with a resounding, earth shattering thud).

We all thought that we could safely go to sleep, now that the worst was over (what could be worse than that? ), but our (my) slumber was to be shortlived. I was rudely awakened (manhandled) by the bloke at around 3 in the morning and was rather taken aback even in my groggy state that the moron was in tears. Five minutes later and he was positively bawling his heart out. He had apparently woken up and found himself on the floor. The effects of the booze hadn’t worn off yet, so the act of removing himself from the floor took quite a herculean effort. Once, he was on his feet (all four of them in his own words), he felt the sudden inexplicable urge to visit the adjoining little room with lots of taps. He manages to find the room and ‘sit’ down but unfortunately falls asleep again on the ‘throne’ to wake up a little later only to find himself face to face with a cat (“pussy”) with whom he has a heart rendering conversation about life, the universe and everything … and about the presence of ‘non veg’ all around (clarified below). It was after what has gone down as Rowen’s ‘dialogues with the pussy’ that he decided that he needed to come clean about certain ‘bad things’ that he’d done in his life … and who should he bestow the honour of listening to his tirade but yours truly. Ravi swears to this day that he was asleep and he didn’t hear a word of what Rowen told me, but I swear that I could see the sly bastard from the corner of my eye, shaking with laughter everytime Rowen uttered something controversial … and boy were there controversial topics aplenty mentioned. The highlights were –

(a) He lost his virginity while Xeroxing his notes at Krishna Xerox. But it was not his fault but the girl’s as she was ‘ready’ and willing. It was a good thing he used protection though, as SARS was going around back then :D

(b) There was blood splatters on the walls of the lodge and this was attributable either to the lodge’s being haunted or to the fact that it was occupied by the girls until a little earlier …

The next morning however, Rowen was a different person (back to normal if it pleases you). No matter what we told him, we were unable to make him remember the events that had transpired the previous night. Whether he was pretending out of shame or whether he truly couldn’t remember anything we’ll never know, but the fact still remains that neither Rowen nor I remember anything that happened during the day that followed that night of horror … we slept like babies in the bus the whole day … me from lack of sleep and him from the mother of all hangovers. Ravi or Bharath had taken a snap of the two of us in the bus and then posted it on Orkut aptly title ‘Sleepy Hollow’.

All things said and done, Rowen was, is and always will be one of my best friends. He’ll always be Mr. Class rep in our hearts, who got so many internals postponed / cancelled and who influenced so many professors to go easy on their correction of our exams papers as some (all) of the questions were out of syllabus (as was invariably the case, nine out of ten times). He was always ready to lend a helping hand to those who needed assistance and he’s always had a comforting smile for us when times are really bad. Most people would describe Harsha as a gentle giant, but the truth is that it’s rather hard to come to think of Harsha as a giant … it’s Rowen who actually fits the bill. The dude always managed to put a spark into all our trips by singing funny folk songs and doing all kinds of ridiculous stuff that never failed to liven things up (who’ll ever forget the dude dancing in the bus on the way to Balmuri falls … the bus driver aint ever gonna forget for sure ;) ) Always up for adventure, he’s probably the only Pereira on the planet who can boast of having made it up to Palani and back :D. When I look back now onto the tumultuous years that followed engineering, I’ll never forget the fact that Rowen would always call me up whenever I was in Bangalore and he’s also probably the only friend who’ll always thank me when I wish him a very happy ‘Good Friday’ (which was the only time I’d ever call him :D ). I finally realized how out of touch I was with him, when I saw him after a couple of years (of no contact) and couldn’t recognize him for he was ‘half the man he used to be’ (no pun intended) :D The dude had shed a good four stones in weight!

Here’s hoping that marriage will have a sobering effect on the dude for this dude’s always been and will always be high on life …and always the dude who convinced the ‘tronics lab prof. that the KEB signal displayed on his CRO was the ‘distorted output of his transformer circuit’.

Rowen, buddy, pal o’ mine … if you disagree with any of the stuff I've said so far, I’ve only got these words for you, immortalized by Bart Simpson – “Eat my shorts!”