Tuesday, November 22, 2005

get a load of this

regular programming resumes. opening the past-facing eye, i peered into my distant past once again. and just so you know its not all that distant. despite my regular "past"ing dont picture me in an armchair, white shawl matching the color of the few wisps in my head , puffing an ivory pipe and coughing intermittently while i reminisce thus. i said DONT. i spy (as usual) a small kid struggling with the burden that low school imposes on all its temporary prisoners. a canvas bag full of somewhat neatly brown-wrapped,labelled notebooks and tattered textbooks. that's me. i used to think of the 200 meters or so from my quarters' home to the quarters' school as my own epic journey with the cross. my cross of course being the canvas bag . with multiple front flaps that closed pockets that could at the most hold a breath of air. shoulder straps that were once the width of my pencil box had twisted themselves into helices the width of dna strands thus causing the maximum stress on a 10 year old's shoulders. still i liked that bag. it was way better than the aluminium boxes that some kids used to lug to school (if you havent seen one of those, you are probably too young to be reading this).

when i moved to middle school, the workout increased. while i suggested switching to a meat-based diet to supplement my rapid muscle growth, my parents citing religious reasons simply upgraded me to the next level in backpack technology. so in sixth standard i was the proud owner of a waterproof duckback..in chennai. Ha! take that you pesky rare droplets of rain. waterproofing of course had no relation to load bearing capacity and within a couple of weeks, i came home dragging the backpack with one strap severed from its moorings on the bottom of the bag. i suggested hiring a few million ants. i'd just learnt they could carry 50 times their weight and our house already employed them to signal us when i spilt something on the floor. one small,high density schoolbag shouldn't really be a problem. turned down again. having expended my bag budget for the year, i had to get it repaired at a roadside shop. the guy there, fashion guru that he was, tore down the other strap and attached what he claimed were the most reliable bag straps ever. created by the goddess saraswati herself,so kids like me could bask in the glorious light of education. appositely they were in brilliant yellow and gave out this beatific glow that am pretty sure made me visible from outer space. he was right about one thing though. that strap lasted till the bag was in tatters and even now a piece of that strap lies somewhere in my home, with pieces of rats' teeth stuck to it.

my next few bags weren't in the same class as the duckback. some couldn't take the leaky pens i'd throw into the side pouches and would safely and securely transfer the ink onto my notes. a few others weren't made to be carried on one side as the style was in high school. their center of gravity pulled me to one side and everyone had to twist their head sideways while talking with me. i went through school causing no problems to the bag manufactures, ensuring them of a steady revenue till i reached college. that age of rebellion. i started making plans about the fuel to be used and checked the old newspaper supplies so i'd know the right composition of the bhogi bonfire to set the backpack alight. turned out that my college was just another school. albeit one without uniforms. and back to the bag it was.

(just one more paragraph and i'll stop, i promise). i've done a lot of absent-minded stupidity in my life. but i may yet be unable to beat my friend who used to sleep everyday in the college bus. he would get off on a stop before mine and it was my duty to awaken the kumbhakarnan from slumber. one day our fellow is over sleepy, almost misses his stop, wakes up, asks for some coffee and somehow gets pushed off the bus, still a little woozy. as i look at him standing there i realised that he does not have his bag. good friend that i am, i just assumed that he didnt bring the bag that day. turns out he did and it was apparently sitting right beside me for the 5 mins between his stop and mine. after a high-speed chase of the bus on a tvs champ, he finally caught up with it in the depot and rescued his precious. an olive green bag containing an empty stainless steel lunch box. now what do you think my next post is going to be about :)


Invisible said...

strted reading this blog after it featured on the Indian Express...
this 1 has been like ur older posts..takes me down the memory lane... :)
n yeah i remember those noisy, screechy aluminium boxes, but as i've never had 1 always wanted to own one...

√úbermaniam said...

Nice headline :-)

Anonymous said...

aah, yet another classic..

hmm.. so was it just me, just me who envied those aluminium book cases? can you imagine?.. your books would never have to get squished this way and that. the 'bag' will always sit straight by the side of your chair.. no repeated propping up required.. many more such wonderful advantages :)

wogay, happy thanksgiving everyone.

catcharun said...

ms.invisible : noisy,screechy? i dont know abt that. my memory is mostly visual though for some strange reason i can still hear my primary school headmistress's voice quite clearly
thanks for dropping by

daily : u know i try a bit harder on the title so there is at least a silver lining to my dark clod of text and i mean clod

anon : thanks for calling it a classic. reminds me that there is such a thing as the present
i envied those boxes for a while too till i had a chance to lift one. besides i carried a lunch basket too and i didnt want it to seem like i'd just gotten off the chengalpattu passenger train walking into school :)
happy hols to u too

Anonymous said...

i almost fell asleep reading this one. phew! pretty lengthy.

but the last paragraph did wake me up. good anecdote to recall.

had it been year 2004: that green bagged friend would have given you a call on your cellphone, asking you to collect the bag , wash the tiffin box and get something for the next day :-)


catcharun said...

current : no kidding..i almost fell asleep writing it. it was like one of those interminably long songs in movies where the heroine dances till a)the salangai falls off
b)there is blood flowing out of her toes
c)she faints and falls down
d) all of the above

in my case the keyboard refused to break and i didnt have more to write ;)

i think your bag was a brown, rectangular one..am i right?
full points to u if u can guess mine

Amethyst said...

Lol. You do have a way with words

Rockus said...

Nostalgia! My mom used to insist on duckback while i wanted colourful and bashy bags. she prevailed and iam glad.

catcharun said...

amethyst: i hope i'm on the right way there

rockus: we just took a while to realise its whats inside that counts:)

thanks for the visit..i'm off to take a gander at yours

sheetal said...

lol...good old stainless steel lunch boxes. i used mine for nine years straight and it's still in perfect condition. whoever thinks india makes substandard products, take that.

catcharun said...

hmm..not so sure about the quality, sheetal. i've managed to break just about anything within a week of buying it.

thanks for stopping by