*Conditions Apply

That sale was one of a kind. It was plastered all over the front page of the Hindu for over a week which made it hard to not take note of it.

Sell what you don’t want, and we’ll pay you the current-MRP of that! Big Bazaar’s Big Sale!

I don’t know what kind of a “sale” that was; none has seen one like that.

People couldn’t believe their eyes. All that the Race Course walkers, the herbal soup/kadalai sellers, the daily visitors of Sharadambal kovil, all that anyone in the vicinity of Race Course could talk about were the Big Sale. Personally, it didn’t have much effect on me, my mom or my dad, we never spoke of it. The fever did not get to us. Yet.

The main reason Big Bazaar executed this brainwave of an idea was that they were opening a new branch of their outlet in Race Course and this was their best way promoting it, at least it seemed like it. The sale was on a Sunday. And Sundays are when I wake after ten a.m. have brunch, catch a KTV movie at noon and then a mudhal-muraiyaaga-super hit-thirai kaatchi on Sun TV at 6pm while having some idlis or dosas for dinner and hit the sack dreading Monday and its blues.

But that Sunday, I woke up to all sorts of cacophony and clamour, the clock on the wall facing my bed said 7:30 a.m. What on earth is everyone doing at such an hour, that too on a Sunday?

“Wake up, wake up, wake up Janani.”

Amma kept talking as an attempt to rouse me as she sifted through my cupboards and then the shelves and I was still on my bed groaning and yawning and trying to make small talk but my un-brushed mouth reeked that even my dad in the next room said “first brush your teeth then you can grace us with your wisdom.”

“Do you want these books anymore? This Famous Five, Nancy Drew indha picture books la.”, amma asked holding up a copy and dusting it simultaneously.

“Don’t even touch them amma. You know that I don’t give away my books, why are you even asking.” I replied, by then I was hanging awkwardly from the sides of the bed and looking at my mom upside down. It took me an eternity to get out of the bed, as always despite my mom’s ceaseless efforts of switching the fan off, pulling my blankets off, opening up the curtains and pulling me by my arms.

Nothing got me out of bed but this did; “Inga paaru I am going to tell just once more, to get up and get ready or else…” said my mom. I have been in this situation so many times in my life up to now but I still have no idea what comes after “or else…” I know better than to ask what comes after it.

***

“Okay, so now I’m ready. Where are you going?”

“What did you just ask?”

It was a second later that I realized that I blurted out the question that you are not even supposed to blurt out. It is considered a bad omen to ask a person where he is going, for those who don’t know. We take superstitions seriously, very seriously. So I modified the question a bit and asked, “From where will we be coming back?” soon enough to not get amma hot about it.

“Big Bazaar.”

“What why? I thought we weren’t going to that thing.”

“We are now. Go take those stuff,” she said pointing to a huge pile of old cups and plates “and put them in those cartons and bring the gunny bags from the garage.” I saw dad and my brother taping up stacks of newspapers worth of at least six months’ quantity. “Akka, I dumped some of your old stuff in that box over there. Paathu sollu.” said my brother. It was fine I guess. I didn’t even bother to look. I was still groggy in my head and brain wasn’t completely ON. I needed coffee.

“Jananiiiii, where are those gunny bags???”

I took them to amma and asked “why are you giving away so much stuff? I like that blow-up chair. It’s there in the box,” I said pointing to a box.

“You will say this now and two days later, andha chair engeyo irukum nee engeyo irupa. It’s better we sell it now while this exchange sale thing is still there. It is only for today theriyuma? We better make use of it. Every in this neighbourhood is going to it. Why should we alone not go?”

Ohhhhhhhh. Okay, so this is why we are going.

“Keeping up with Zeitgeist, eh!”

In a matter of few minutes the car flooded with scarcely taped cartons and jute bags and gunny sacks. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if passersby mistook us for a family that was shifting places. In a while, we reached BB. To this day, I’ve never seen Big Bazaar as crowded as that day. The whole population of Race Course was there, with their scraps of every kind you could think of; clothes, electronics, barely broken decors, furniture etcetera, etcetera. People brought old dabba TVs and refrigerators on autos and all. So much for Race Course being posh and rich. And man, how much trash did people even have!!

Moreover, everyone who wanted swap this garbage for money had to buy a form, fill out the details and there was a kilometre wide queue for that. While dad looked into that, we unloaded the stuff from dicky, from under our seats, from on our laps and had a cup of tea and samosa each as we watched our neighbours unload even more than ours from their car. The place had never been livelier. People were about to get rid of all the junk and get money in return!!!! Yaaaay! Uncles and Aunties have never been happier.

do you think they’d exchange gold and all? I’ve been wanting to exchange this ring for a while…Big Bazaar la gold iruka enna?”

 “paaah, finally giving away these thousand Vikatans for some good rate. That paper-kaaran said he’ll not accept more than 5 rupees per copy, Big Bazaar will get for at least 15 rupees, I know. Enna oru deal!”

 “Big Bazaar na Big Bazaar dhaan ya!”

 “With the return money, apdiye we can buy provisions here itself and go. Semma idea no?” said one uncle and his aunty rolled her eyes beneath the soda-buddi and replied “first exchange this and come, then we’ll see about that. Kumaran Thangamaligai la some offer, I want to buy one ring, maybe we can buy that. That Kamala bought one last week. Hmph.”

***

It was more than an hour, the new BB food court was bustling as it was time for breakfast. Even though most of them who’d come to BB for this offer, lived in the proximity of less than a kilometre, they ate here despite the extravagant pricing. One vadai for 55 bucks.

Yov.

Convert 55 rupees to dollars and buy a vadai in New York, it wouldn’t cost as much as BB. But no one wanted to lose their spot in the queue, so it was a good day for BB food court.

Few minutes into “exchanging”, there was a commotion. An Iyer uncle was furious and raging. After all, he was the first one line. Apparently, he’d come in at 6am to exchange his BPL black and white television set and his wire-knit 60s lounge chair with a gunny sack of not such prominent items. Iyer uncle was given a pink sheet of low-quality paper and a bunch of light-blue sheets. He read it and threw up his hands in frustration, walked towards the counter and called “I want to see the manager!” A person wearing a black BB t-shirt and a BB cap led that uncle to the side of the building and pointed something to him.

“Janani, go see what is there and come.”

I guess the curiosity was mutual, apart from all holding places in the queue, the crowded headed towards that side of the building where hung a huge billboard with the terms and conditions in Time New Roman size 48.

 

*IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR VALUED GOODS, YOU WILL BE PROVIDED WITH COUPONS THAT CAN BE EXCHANGED FOR YOUR PURCHASE EVERYTIME YOU BUY FOR MORE THAN 1000/- ONLY AT BIG BAZAAR!

 $$ ONCE IN A LIFETIME DEAL $$

 

*offer valid for a year

 Wait. WHAT?

Being the dumb, 14-year old I was. I ran down to my parents and said, “I think you have to buy something for 1000/- today and only then they’d take our stuff. And apparently, they’ll give us coupons also aama.” My dad looked ridiculed like what is this girl even saying. He made me stand in the line with amma and went to check it for himself. On returning, he said “which part of that billboard text didn’t you understand, Janani?” and my parents looked at me like they wanted a refund for all the money spent on my education.

Amma: So what is even written over there?

Dad: They’ll give us coupons now it seems for all our stuff. Then with those coupons, we can buy things from BB only when we’ve already bought for 1000 rupees.

Amma: I knew something was fishy. How will they give money for a broken TV, button-less radio, torn t-shirts and all! We should’ve known. What shall we do now?

Dad: What else. Exchange for coupons only. I can’t unpack all this back at home once again.

Basically, every other family that ransacked their garbage and loaded stuff that had even the slightest crack came to the same conclusion. The 55 rupees vadai didn’t leave us with enough energy to even tolerate the then baking sun let alone reset-up the trash once again. Most people stayed back, with their what-do-with-the-exchange-money-plans turned to tacky light-blue coupons of different denominations. Eventually, our turn came, dad was quetching his strong disapproval to the employees who could do nothing but say you can always use the coupons, sir. Furthermore, we had already posted the terms and conditions, sir.

Like hell you did. Where? At a dark alley towards the side of your building. You should’ve published this on the Hindu front-page, we’d have at least got a good Sunday morning sleep.

My brother, amma and I were done shifting the junk which they weighed duly and gave us a quite hefty sheaf of coupons for 20,000 rupees.

Thank you for participating in this bonanza exchange offer, sir. Can you give us your mobile number so we can send you SMS’ on upcoming offers in the future? The employee said.

And I don’t think my family and I have ever glared at anyone that furiously and the car ride back home was expectedly silent. We stepped in after a weird morning to a spic-and-span dwelling. “Well, at the house is clean and ridden of the piled rubbish.” said amma. “At the cost of 20,000 bucks”, replied dad.

***

Among the junk-pile that BB confiscated was my phone. It came free with BSNL broadband connection.  It was a beaten-up one with silver buttons that clicked and clacked so bloody loudly. I could’ve recorded a tune out of it every time I typed a sentence but it had its own cons. Past sleep time, if I texted or typed out something on the phone, my mom in the next room would know.

“Keep the phone down and sleep, Janani.”

And there went my first phone for a 100 rupees blue coupon that we eventually substituted for the original Monopoly currency that we misplaced.

 

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Ants, Ranting and a Poem

What I said was wrong, mom.

Every time I said I wanted to leave home

I was wrong.

Hostel sucks.

My room is such a mess

I’d have to fuss

About it

But I just don’t care because

It would never be like mine back home

There are ants every where

In my jar of sugar, they’re about to get into the coffee

How do I make them go away?

I’ve drawn Lakshman Rekha in rangoli patterns

On the shelves, on my trolleys, suitcases,

Cartons and big-shoppers, even books

I’ve sprinkled some powder that the security gave

“The ants will be gone in a day” he said

Nothing went, but followed in a fit of sneezes

And a headache

How come our kitchen never had these many ants, mom?

Would you let me in on your anti-ant secret?

I wipe, sweep (okay, once in a while) and dust

But the moment I turn the other way

To wipe the sweat off my forehead

The dirt

The pile of ugly, entangled hair comes

Rollin’ in like they were never tossed in,

In to the dustbin

Even the dustbin is never clean, mom.

I leave the dishes untouched for weeks

At least until the next time

I scrape up a barely edible bowl

Of noodles or corn flakes

Or a cup of coffee

But until then the rims of the cutlery

Turn dry and impossible to wash

What do you then, mom?

I have an idea.

Write me a book, a novella

On how to maintain a room,

Beat up a cockroach when it turns up at the middle of the night

When I’m trying to cram Phillips’ Curve,

What should I do when the uncooked noodles

Gives me a stomach ache,

How to keep the swept dust from making a run,

Fold clothes in a way that they look pressed

Or accurately ration my washing powder

I think I reek of soap nowadays

And, mom, how do I stop missing home?

It would save us a lot of phone calls too

Wouldn’t it?

The Fridge Index

Legend has it that I usually left people in awe by the measure of food I could gobble. Before this legend, my grandma has it that I ate very poorly and the margin of me turning into one of those malnourished kids in Africa whose ribs were protruding, was very thin because I averted my face and pursed my lips every time food was in a proximity of a meter. What retribution I had against food, only God knows. So my family prayed to him, bribed him and finally I started eating. It seems. And I haven’t stopped since.

Of the very few things I am good at (which is basically a compendium of two things) one is eating. Lately after moving into hostel and such, my meals have been reduced to poorly cooked noodles, corn flakes and chocos with mere hot water and mess food. Owing to such harsh Russian conditions I started dreaming of the refrigerator back at home when usually nocturnal visions were mainly of oil strapped guys from 300, Rafa Nadal and those guys who run chasing a ball for 90 minutes.

And now that I am home for the winter break and that I am well fed, my nocturnal functioning of brain is annealing, in case you were concerned about the preceding malfunction. Back to the point, last night or should I say very early morning since the time was 2 am –ish, I was hungry. It was not that kind of hungry that can be gratified by three gulps of water or a banana, neither was it the kind where a cup of coffee and a sandwich will do but it was the kind where you are not sure whether the rumble was of a thunder or the tummy. I planned on raiding the refrigerator. So I cautiously tip-toed my way to kitchen.

The fridge had everything. How come I’ve never noticed before. Everything except legit food.

  • There were two bowls of thick, creamy stuff; yesterday’s curd and today’s curd and two jars of pickle alongside a bottle of maroon nail polish from Latha Fancy Store next road.
  • A tray destitute of eggs where a packet of opened Marie biscuit was kept (No, Thank You).
  • Two Tupperware dabbas; idli maavu and dosa maavu
  • An unopened tiffin box (Haiyaa, tiffin box! Something should be there.)

Contents of the tiffin box: curry leaves, ginger, green chilies, coriander and pudhina.

I should have seen that coming.

  • Oh, there’s a plastic cover. Please let there be something. Bread is also fine. Ha ha. Paaku packet and beetle leaves. Paaah, such a big cover and so much scene for vethala paaku.
  • The shelves, nevertheless were neatly arranged by various stages of discolouring lemon that made me rethink of eating the lemon rice mother was planning to make for that day’s breakfast beside an unpeelable fruits from last wedding/family function, 98% empty bottles of Mayo and tomato sauce (for western breakfast, in case you were wondering) and baking soda (which has been there for ages).
  • Water bottle. I’ll at least have some cold water and quench the disappointment in fashion. *SPITS!* Jesus Christ Perumale WHAT WAS THAT? Panchakavyam. Just a svelte concoction of milk, a pinch of sacred ashes and cow’s urine.

 

I don’t think I will ever dream of the fridge again.

 

PS – I remember seeing a sketch of such a fridge somewhere on the Internet. If anyone remembers, tell me so I can add it here! 🙂

Kodambakam and Logic

Disclaimer: no offence intended, respective fans of the respective actor. Take a chill pill okay!

I’ve had my share of logic and an equal share of Tamil movies. Considering movies variable x and logic y, (believe me when I say I’ve had more than enough of logic) the correlation coefficient of x and y as per the Kollywood industry is perfectly positive though it makes no sense. I’ve had my share of logical Tamil movies (which is very very thin) and there’s illogical movies. Now, enough of shares.

The best thing to do before watching a movie is to forget Physics (very important, especially the concept of gravity), Chemistry (oh wait, there’s plenty of that), hell, forget Science, forget History (Kollywood creates it’s own history often portrayed by actors looking up with hazy eyes, smoke covering up the frame and a background score that fades out… FLASHBACK!), you might as well forget the myriad chores that you could get done instead of watching a movie.

Breaking down Tamil movies into elementary types

Head-ache inducing movies

  • Anjaan

This movie forced me and my parents (who rarely watch contemporary movies) to contemplate all the sins we have committed and how karma got back to us within 15 minutes of the movie. And and and, Actor Suriya please leave the singing to professionals for the sake of our ears and common good. Coerced watching off this movie should be made a legal punishment. Crimes, at least then, would boil down.

  • Anegan

After plausible acting in Aadukalam I thought maybe Dhanush wasn’t so bad after all despite mind numbing, superfluous movie Mayakam Enna. I don’t know what Anegan was all about. The storyline was strewn across different eras which maybe was just an ill effort to get Danush to act on all platforms. Just trying to interpret the story-line gave migraines. My grandma caught a fever watching this movie and it was summer.

Note: The difficulty in trying to understand Anegan is a midget compared to Vishwaroopam (which is vera-level and precisely why my grandma was advised against watching this movie). My own experience of the Vishwaroopam aftermath was plain discombobulation. Everyone seemed to get it. Or did you? Even Thatha went “paaru avan oru undercover la irukan and…” But for me it was like after a math class of complicated solving of calculus with trigonometric variables. “Whaaaaaaat?”

  • Irandam Ulagam

Director saar, enna solla varinga? Simply translated: see, director, I don’t understand the point of this movie. What do you want to tell this world? (Or the worlds. Considering the chromic parallel universes you’ve shown or miserably failed at trying to show in this movie). The one thing that I got from Irandam Ulagam was no matter where you are (Dubai kurukku sandhu or Mars) if that boy is for you, then that boy is for you despite your geographic location or your feelings towards him. He will find you and marry you.

Irandam Ulagam bottomline: Vaazhvo saavo, unnaku naan ennaku nee. (Life or death, I’m yours and you are mine).

We-put-Houdini-to-shame movies

  • Sura, Villu

I can hear your “don’t even”. why Why WHY? Why does actor Vijay have a lousy discernment when it comes to choosing scripts (slyly pointing out Puli also)? How Vijay can fight and restrain those many villians with burnt Ramen noodles for hair, we’ll never know. How he disengages from those inches-thick rusty chains that the villians tie him up in, we’ll never know. How he can soundly function (which includes delivering punch dialogues that flacks anti-poor people, his thangachis; younger sisters and the society) with multiple stabs of knife, aruvaa-cuts, thwacks on the head that could have easily lead to Ghajini-2, we’ll never know. I don’t just point out Vijay here but tons other actors who have defied the laws of science altogether. But we do know, as per the Kollywood Encyclopedia, heroes have improbable ammunitions that aren’t up for query.

  • Asal, Alwar, Billa-2

*loses hope on writing about this and relocates to one of the worlds from Irandam Ulagam*

Et tu Brute? 

  • Lingaa

I still cannot savvy the reason behind Rajnikanth accepting to do this movie. After blockbuster, perennial hits like Muthu and all; Ravikumar and Rajnikanth came up with this make. I wouldn’t go as far as saying flop because Rajnikanth and positing that would become a divine allegation (deiva kuththam for those who get Tamil). I mean scenes like the climax, where Rajnikanth jumps off a chopper on to a hot-air balloon with a fatal depth (if speaking logically) but lands without a scratch and robbery of a thing of prominent value pulled off with just a sticker-pottu and balloons? It was like watching Chutti TV.

  • Manmadhan Ambu

Ummmm uhh *laughs nervously* haha *sweats anxiously*

*starts hyperventilating* *collapses clumsily*.  All in the hope that Kamal Haasan deduces and arrives at a solution as to why I passed out trying to dissect his movie. The answer is in the question. What is the question? The answer.

Oh, I even sound like Kamal Haasan now! In a sentence: Kamal should’ve stopped after Dasavatharam.

“Tries to pull tongue and die after watching” movies

  • Alex Pandian, All in all Azhaguraja

To be honest, I couldn’t sit through both the movies and I didn’t. But as far I got, the comedy was feeble, a strenuous pressure to make jokes was evident and there was nothing in the movie. It made me think about the preciousness of life and it shouldn’t be trifled with.

  • REMO

The main reason I started out this blog post was that of how childish and irrational this movie was. It’s been a around 4 hours since I saw this movie and immediately wanted to tell someone how uninspiring despite the feel-goodness element this movie was. And wow, Sivakarthiyen, how quickly you change back from the heavily-worked saree, at-least three layers of make-up, that glossy, man, glossy doll-adikkum lip gloss (which would’ve taken minimum 10 minutes to rub off completely says my meager knowledge on stuff like these) in to a sharp man with a crisp-less blue suit, hot gelled hair and fresh roses in hand within 2 minutes. How? And this is just one of the many unbelievable moments.

  • The last one.

In a word: Vishal.

In a gif:

kv42l

“Sir, what about gravity?” “I didn’t like that movie.”