Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Baby Boo's Adventure

The following is a story I wrote for my three-year old daughter. She could've very well been the protagonist of the story but for the fact that she never carries weird stuff like sandwiches and all. Nothing short of cakes and pastries work for the big lady. Sandwiches are for losers.


Baby Boo was a good baby. She would get up early in the morning; she would brush her teeth and have her bath without making noise. She would then run to the dining table and have her breakfast. And then, she would sit quietly in the drawing room and wait for her mother to drop her to her school bus. Baby Boo was a very gentle baby, and always listened to her mother.

If there was one thing Baby Boo loved most, it was her school. She loved the beautiful toys she had to play with in school, and she loved her friends. Boys she wasn't very fond of, but she spoke to everyone gently because that is the right thing to do. She loved her teachers, and her teachers loved her. Often, of bright sunny mornings, you could catch Baby Boo running in the school garden, playing catch with her friends.

One other thing that baby Boo was very fond of was riding to school in her school bus. When Mamma would open the door of the car, Baby Boo would run out, laughing happily, clamber into the school bus and onto her favorite window seat, and wave Mamma a happy good bye. She did not know it, but that quite simply made Mamma's day. Baby Boo didn't just live happily; she spread happiness wherever she went. Life was perfect.

But trouble was only round the corner. Usually, Baby Boo went off to sleep at nine. With Papa Bear tucked close to her chest, baby Boo would drop off to a sweet sleep, and dream of all the lovely things she'd done that day. One evening, however, Baby Boo stayed up late, watching TV and playing around with her new toy train. Mamma kept telling her, "Baby Boo, go to bed. All the babies are already asleep." But Baby Boo wanted to play some more, and she begged and pleaded to be allowed to stay up. Much against her better judgement, Mamma gave in. Baby Boo slept very late that night.

The next day, when baby Boo awoke, she didn't feel bright and sunny. Instead, she felt sleepy and dull and tired. She rubbed her eyes and asked Mamma if she could sleep some more. "But the school bus is almost due, Baby Boo," Mamma said. So there was nothing to be done but to get up and get ready. Baby Boo had a hurried breakfast and almost ran to the car. "Hurry up, Baby Boo, or you will be late," Mamma said.

When the school bus arrived, Baby Boo didn't have that bright smile that made her Mamma's day. But Mamma smiled through her worries and waved her good bye. Baby Boo waved back, but her heart wasn't in it. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to rest some more.

The bus pulled off, and Baby Boo began watching the trees walk by. Slowly, the trees began flying at top speed, and they looked all hazy and blurred. Baby Boo blinked at them once, twice, thrice, and went right off to sleep. The rocking bus lulled her gently into deep dreams filled with trains and the strange lands trains visit.

Suddenly the bus stopped. "School, at last," said Baby Boo, and got off the bus. Some other children got in too. "That's funny," thought baby Boo. "Nobody gets into buses when it reaches school in the morning." And then the bus snaked ahead, and was soon lost in traffic.

Only then did Baby Boo realize that she wasn't at school. This was somewhere on the way to school. But she didn't know where. One thing she knew: She was lost. Baby Boo took off her satchel from her back and sat down in the bus stop. May be another school bus would come this way, and she would get back to school. But no bus came. After she'd waited for a very long while (it was only ten minutes, but they seemed like ages to poor Baby Boo!), she realized that no more buses were coming. "The next time the school bus will come here will only be tomorrow in the morning! What shall I ever do now," Baby Boo wondered. Suddenly, the roads went all hazy and her face felt hot as though it were in a sauna. She simply sat down on the bus stop bench and cried.

When she'd cried her fill, Baby Boo realized that there was nothing to do but to find her way to school on her own. After all, she was a big girl now! She wiped them tears and put her finger to her head and thought. "The bus came that way. So school must be further down this road. Let's see." And Baby Boo wiped her face with her handkerchief, slung her satchel over her back, tighened her shoe straps, and walked off in the direction she'd seen the bus go.

After she'd gone on for a while, who should she see but a great big dog come bounding towards her. She'd seen the dog earlier on the street too, but he appeared much smaller then. She was about to scream, but she saw that the dog was wagging his tail. "That should be fine," thought Baby Boo, because she'd read in the children's encyclopedia in her school library that dogs wag their tails when they are happy. Baby Boo was a really smart baby.

"What are you doing here?" said the dog in a gentle growl. I see you in the school bus everyday, and you wave to me when you pass. What are doing here by yourself? "I was going to school, when I got off on the wrong stop," said Baby Boo, fighting back that lump in the throat that had almost begun to make the road swim again. "Do you know the way to my school?" And she sang:

Mamma told me not to play late into the night,
But I heeded not her words and played away alright.
And now I'm sleepy and I'm lost, and crying like a fool,
Can you help me, can you tell me how to get to school?

The great big dog cocked his head. "Ummm..." he said, "I do not know where your school is, but I do know that your school bus turns into the right corner at the end of this road.

"This road's my area," he said, "Till there I'll see you through,
"But where you go once you've got there, now that I'll leave to you."

"Fair enough," said Baby Boo. "Let's go."

"But I can't take you all the way," the big doggy said,
"I'm hungry, and I'm feeling weak. By chance, you got some bread?"

"Sure thing," said Baby Boo, and opened her lunch box and gave him a sandwich. The big dog wolfed it all down almost in a single bite.

"Thanks, Baby Boo," he said, "I needed that!" And he sang:

Now sit upon my back, my child, lemme help you out today,
Or you'll never get to school, my child, before the end of day.

And Baby Boo sat on the big doggy's back, and he set off gently, taking care that Baby Boo was not rocked off his great big back. When they reached the end of the road, the big doggy said, "Now go on right. That is the way towards your school, and fare you well."

Baby Boo thanked the doggy and bade him fare well. Then she stood at the edge of the road and looked to the left, and looked to the right, and looked to the left again. When she was sure the path was clear, she crossed the road, like all good children should.

And then she set off in the direction the dog had indicated. She walked on and on, and who should she see in the garden by the road but a nice big billy goat.

"Hello Mr. Goat," said Baby Boo. "Do you know where my school is? I have lost my way, and need to get to school quickly, or I will miss my classes." But the billy goat shook his head.

"I cannot talk," he said, "My throat is parched. If only I could find some water, may be I could help you."

"Oh that's easy," said baby Boo, and jumped up and took out her water bottle. "Here, have some water from my bottle."

The nice billy goat drank some of her water and bleated in delight.

"Thank you so much, Baby Boo, you're really sweet and kind.
I shall definitely help you, tell you how your school to find.

"But what happened? You always went to school in that nice yellow bus? What are you doing here?"

"I was going to school, when I got off on the wrong stop," said Baby Boo, fighting back that lump in the throat that had almost begun to make the road swim again. "Do you know the way to my school?" And she sang:

Mamma told me not to play late into the night,
But I heeded not her words and played away alright.
And now I'm sleepy and I'm lost, and crying like a fool,
Can you help me, can you tell me how to get to school?

"Sure thing," said Billy Goat. "I'll help you all I can. I've seen the school bus come this way now for months, and I know that it goes on straight until it reaches the ice cream shop. There it turns left. But where it goes from there -- the goat's face fell -- I do not know."

"But till that place, my little girl, I surely shall you carry,
Come quick, and hop upon my back. Come com, let us not tarry!"

"That's so sweet of you," said Baby Boo. The great billy goat got down on his knees, and Baby clambered onto his hairy back. "Now grasp my neck with all your might," the billy goat said, "We're off!"

And they hurtled through the traffic, dodging pedestrians and ugly boys cycling around idly, trying to get as late to school as possible.

Soon they reached an ice cream shop, and Baby Boo recognized it instantly. Almost every day she'd look at the shop through the bus window, and think of the cold, sweet ice lollies in the big ice box. But today, she had more important things on her mind.

"Thank you Mr. Goat," said Baby Boo as she got off his back. "I shall definitely come and see you again soon." And the great billy goat bleated his fond farewell and returned to his garden. Till his dying day he kept telling his children and grand children how all human beings are wicked and murderous, but how there is one baby among them all who is an angel, and how that angel helped him slake his thirst when he was dying for want of water.

But let's talk of Baby Boo. She turned left and ran up the road, huffing and puffing, for she had been walking and crying and running now for very long. When all of a sudden what should she see but the loverliest sight she ever saw: the sweetest prettiest thing ever made: a little yellow school bus gleaming and shining in the bright sun!

She ran to the bus and, as she came close, she could see the school gate, and the bright-green and light-yellow and orange garden. And she ran through the gate into the garden, and she saw her teachers sitting in the garden playing with the children. And when they saw her, they all ran to her and hugged her.

"We've been so worried Baby Boo, wherever have you been?
You got onto the bus we know, but since, you haven't been seen!

"Oh, it has been a very adventurous day," said Baby Boo, "but now it is over." I have seen so many things, and so many things have happened, and I must tell you all about it." Her classmates all came running and crowded around her:

"Do tell, do tell Baby Boo
In detail your adventures true!

"Sure I will," said Baby Boo, and she told them all about how the whole thing came about. "And," she ended:

"A lesson I've learnt today; and in my heart I'll keep
That when your Mamma tells you so, kids should go right to sleep."


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Samson temporaris

The fairer gender glares regardless, so that has always been that as far as I am concerned. It was when unknown guys started staring at me like one would at a chimp with three horns that I realized that 'nuff was 'nuff (as if it could ever have been otherwise.) But I am getting ahead of myself ...

To recapitulate, then .... After Hrithik decided to flaunt his tresses once upon a Dhoom, so did I. Decide, of course. When it all began I thought it was all a matter of deciding and not going to the barber next street. God moves in mysterious ways.

All my youth, I wasted my days wandering around like a banished subaltern in libraries and similar dingy edifices, when I ought to have been out in the wopen, gathering in all the sunshine I could for the dark days ahead; dark dark DARK days of joining and junking jobs, of teeth grinding and hair raising in the bright afternoon suns when the hot air roasted them crisp, and slouching over computer terminals in dimly-lit labs for tuppence ... tuppaise, actually (All Hail Commas and Semi-colons, those inveterate angels that spell death to brevity, the substance of shit!.)

Still there? Okay.

So I basically wasted my youth doing all the things I ought not to have done, like reading Eliot and Shakespeare and stuff. And all that while, I kept my hair firmly in check, prefering the austere cut of a close crop to the flowing flagrant denial of self-discipline.

So one day I decided to not go to my barber and all, and see which way hair grows when you leave it to its own black (for the moment) will.

The first month had nothing substantial to offer in terms of change and such, apart from the fact that inexorably, I found fitting my head into my helmet more and more difficult. You see, while God has blessed yours truly with as negligible a quantity of grey matter as can safely be doled out without impacting his binomial nomenclature, He has ensured that no one notices by supplying a most intensely cuticulated scalp. With time and Nature's changing course untrimm'd, the combined bulk of head and hair growingly refused to fit into the helmet built for one. This led to a preference, where possible, to biking sans helmet, leading, in turn, to wildly disheveled hair and a grossly grisly beard. Yes, that one is there too!

The second month led to excruciating minutes spent before the mirror, trying to figure out which way to comb / press / fold the heady mop such that it did not look like a hoover sack after a rather comprehensive cleaning operation. And yet, some lock somewhere or the other would spring right up ... embarrassing to the extreme, I tell you! This led to more and more sessions of combing / pressing / folding per diem, something completely alien to me. Suddenly I grew more and more conscious of the stares from the public. I tried on a swagger for effect, but that made me look more like a roadside romeo hoping to get picked up by some nymphomaniac who cheats on -- or cheats under -- her milkman, among other people...

And then i tried out oil, and the effects were disastrous, and i terminated the experience, as they say, with extreme prejudice. Rivers of godaloneknowswhat drooled down ... yeugh!

Some of my more evil friends began suggesting alternative ways of keeping my hair in place. Try gel, said one; go for a nice hair band, said another ... after all, Abhishek B has one. A guy with a hairband ... like a ... ummm ... never mind. No ways.

My less evil friends, of course, took to sniggering, at times, accompanied by pointing and all. Jerks.

And then one day, the staring began. Like I said when I began, the fairer sex has always thought me weird (Don't blame them really.) But the more hirsute version of our species has been more on the tolerant side, passing me by without even a glance. Normal types. Imagine my consternation when, one morning, i found them staring at me as i passed. Once could be rotten choice; twice could be coincidence; thrice was fatal. I slunk about in the darker corners of my office till the evening that day. There was only one thing left to do.

The barber welcomed me with open arms, of course, like a mother welcoming her errant offspring to the hearth. Twenty minutes of sleep later, I emerged, trimmed and cut down to size. I had learnt my lesson.

So now I know what it takes to grow those tresses. But I still don't, really. The difference, of course, is that I no longer care. Just to ensure i did the right thing, i caught up with one of my more long-haired friends, and asked him what he did to grow the hair, and how he keeps it in shape. He took a deep breath and proceeded to deliver a lecture on hair upkeep that is too indecently long and indecently populated with adverbs and expletives of a wide variety to print. So I shall resist the temptation to share the verbal and emotional feast with you.

You can get your own flavor ... grow your own hair, and tell some one else what you think of it. Once you get there, you do not need to search for words and all, I am told. They suggest themselves; ripe, juicy, and apt! A feast for the ear and delight for the imagination!

If, by some weird quirk for fate, you happen to have long hair, and are still reading it, my barber lives close by, and offers a discount if you promise to let him take off all the stuff on your head. He will sell them to make dog brushes, he says.