Sunday, May 29, 2005

101 – Street Dogs

20 May 2005, 9.00 am:
Carrying my helmet like a NASA astronaut, I entered into my office thinking about the happy weekend that would follow. In addition to that it was only since a week, I got a new project. Although the project wouldn’t kick off until June 20, I felt happy to land in a project after a long slack.

31 Dec 1998, 5.00 pm:
"Dey pasangala, what are we planning for this New Year eve"

"What else, Ajay house, bakery, Anjaneyar Koil, that’s all"

"Poda.usual stuff. We have become college guys da. We will go somewhere else"

"I am not coming to Spencer Plaza, buses will be crowded now"

"Not splencer plaza, we shall go to beach"

"Which one?"

"Besant Nagar...Machi city girls will come there"

"Super da. But, how to go there? You know which bus would go there?"

"Adhellam yaarayavdhu kettukalam"


"My friend Santosh is also coming."

"sari sari. Kelambunga da"

This is what myself and two of my friends Ajay and Babu spoke before we decided to go to Besant Nagar that day.

20 May 2005, 9.15 am:
"Rishi! What happened in yesterday’s phone call? Any updates about the new project?"
"No! Balaji.Seems like we have a bad news. The kick off might be delayed by a month or so"

31 Dec 1998, 5.30 pm:
Till this day we have only heard stories about the mouth watering girls who turn up at Besant Nagar. So the expectations of ogling them were running high amongst us. Moreover, we felt it would be great change to move away from the regular BSA SLRs of the suburbs to the scooties and kinetic Hondas of the city.

In all our excitement, we boarded the wrong bus and had to get down at Malar Hospital. From there it was decided to walk along the road to the beach. Soon we crossed the beautiful Theosophical society and reached our destination.

"Aiyyeee!!Why is it so crowded?"
"Its New year’s eve. Besant Nagar is generally crowded on holidays"
"There is a calm place nearby. It’s a broken bridge. Shall we go there?"

20 May 2005, 6.30pm:
The sane mind kept telling me that disappointments are a part and parcel of life. One has to learn to get along with them. But coping with them is easier said than done.

I was completely pissed off after learning that my new project could get delayed further. The Idle Mind in my head was getting more than a handful for me to handle. What can I do for 2 more months?

31 Dec 1998, 6.00pm:
We walked across a slum and reached the backside of the Theosophical society. Further down we saw a bridge across the backwater, which was broken in the middle. The other half of it was not to be seen anywhere. The place was completely silent except for the hissing sound of the sea breeze and was devoid of any human face other than us.

Thrilled by the atmosphere we stayed there and kept chatting until the distant lights at the Besant Nagar beach came up. We realised that we should leave that place started walking back towards the slum.

"Dey, why should we go through that slum again? Why don’t we walk along the sands?"

"Good idea. It will be fun"

So we diverted towards the sands and started walking along the sands. There were many catamarans scattered and we could see the fishing nets bundled nearby them. It seemed like a 10-minute walk to the main beach. Once again it was a lonely walk, until something terrible happened.

20 May 2005, 7.30 pm:
I played my heart out at Table Tennis in my office, but still couldn’t manage to take the bitter feeling out of my mind. "Why should it always happen with me?"

I felt like I am wasting the most precious moments of my life doing nothing. Usually in such times, I would convince myself thinking one day I would get busy again. Somehow today my mind didn’t seem to listen to me and started getting heavy on me.

I couldn’t speak well with one of my friends and she got very concerned at my state of affairs.

31 Dec 1998, 7.00 pm:
Some 3 minutes into the walk, we heard a distant bark of a dog from somewhere in the dark. Slowly the barking noise became more pronounced and the source was getting nearer. Within seconds there was a dog running towards us, showing its sharp canines in a fearful manner.

We were used to handling such dogs, because we went to coaching classes at 5 in the morning. So as usual we raised our hands at the dog and tried to shoo it away. One of my friends acted as though he is taking a stone from the ground and threw his handful of nothing at the angry dog.

"Oh God! Nothing seems to work"

20 May 2005, 8.00 pm:
"Lokesh! Enakku kaduppa irukku. Shall we go out somewhere?"
"Okay da, Balaji. Shall we go to some movie?"
"Done! Which one?"
"Hitch, at Satyam theatre. 10 o’ clock show"

31 Dec 1998, 7.05 pm:
Suddenly it started raining dogs. They seemed to come running from every direction.

Within no time there were some 15 dogs around us, with more coming in every minute. Now we were half way between the bridge and the beach. It was another 5 minutes walk to the beach and nobody was sure if we could stay alive with the bloodthirsty dogs just 2 feet away from us.

The moment we start running we would make headlines of SUN News as unidentified bodies along the coast.

I could even imagine Nirmala Periasaami's excited voice
"Chennai Besant Nagar-il naay vaay pattu , nangu valibargal saavu"

"Noay vaaipattu setha parava illlai. Naay vaay pattu savanuma"

So prudence was to walk but how long and whereto was the question. We kept walking along the same direction not due to inertia but it was our only hope left with sea on one side and slum on the other.

Walking was also very tricky. For every step that we took the dogs in front would move half a step backwards. They constantly kept barking at maddening decibel levels, which not only invited other dogs in the vicinity but also deterred any logical thinking.

We managed to survive the situation unscathed for 2 minutes now. But something has to be done, because more dogs were running in.

20 May 2005, 9.15pm:
We were at Satyam, but another disappointment awaited me with the HOUSE FULL sign. We had made up our minds to see one movie or the other and so we decided to try our luck at Devi complex.

31 Dec 1998, 7.08 pm:
Suddenly one of us noticed that there was a small pathway that led into the slum. This seemed to be a better bet; at least we could get some help. That again was 100 meters from where we stood. It was another 2 minutes of walk.

Meanwhile one of our captors lunged towards Babu, who is extremely afraid of dogs and landed inches away from him. He almost started to run when Santosh and Ajay caught him by his shirt and stopped him. Otherwise God knows what would have happened.

Through the grueling journey to the slum, each one of us faced different directions to keep an eye on the unruly canines. The formation was successful in keeping the dogs bay and we reached the pathway.

Now we could see some houses and some people. Still there were 10 dogs following us. We thought of getting some help and that very moment we saw three men carrying big weapons (called "porul" in Tamil) going to hit someone. None of us could find our voices.

"Ayyo, from frying pan to the fire"

20 May 2005, 9.40pm:
We reached just in time for the movie "Arindhum Ariyamalum" and luckily managed to get two tickets in black. It turned to be an enjoyable movie and brought me back to my spirits.

31 Dec 1998, 7.10 pm:
Luckily those men did not care about us or the dogs. Slowly as we moved into the slum, the dogs stopped pursuit and there were only two left. Again we became courageous and chased them away.

Realizing that we were alive, we started walking as though nothing has happened but it took long for our heartbeats to come down. Reaching the beach we bought a coke and fizzed it out. Onlookers must have thought we were celebrating New Year. They had no chance of guessing that we were celebrating new lives.

21 May 2005, 1.00 am:
I am on my way back home from the movie. When I reached the market road, a couple of street dogs started barking and chasing my bike. I cannot resist myself from saying

"Chiii, naaye. Nanga ellam unna madhiri pala pera paarthavanga. Enga kittaye va", in Vadivelu style.


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