February 8, 2023
Most of us might have experienced a few instances in our lives that have been ‘bizarre.’ They are unexpected, peculiar, odd, serious and sometimes funny. While many are trivial and fade away in the course of time, a few of them remain etched in our minds forever. I am no exception as I have had my share of bizarre incidents in which I was involved …
The bride in all red was on the run,
The smoky paratha was not at all fun,
The two tender coconuts bound together,
The bummer in Qatar was like no other!
Compiled a few bizarre incidents of mine
Scroll down to share yours, if that’s fine.
The Bride ‘On the Run’
After graduating in Law in June 1991, in September of that year, I made a trip to Bengaluru to register and obtain a ‘Certificate of Practice’ from the Karnataka State Bar Council. My good friend Sandesha literature (Konkani) awardee Andrew L D’Cunha accompanied me to be a part of my Advocacy journey. To my surprise, on the first day itself, I had the process completed and thus had two days to relax going around Bengaluru. On the second day, we watched two blockbuster Hindi movies, matinee and an evening show in Santosh and Sapna cinema halls adjacent to each other in Gandhinagar. Thence, having a sumptuous dinner at one of the good restaurants nearby, had returned pretty late at night to the hotel.
Our room, a rectangular structure, an extension of the main hotel building, was a stand-alone entity on the ground floor. Opposite, a few metres away was the gigantic rear door of the hotel’s spacious hall. When we returned, amidst the glittering of colourful miniature lights, a wedding was in progress with much fanfare accompanied by loud music. Making way to our room, Andrew first had his shower and after changing went to the veranda for a bit of fresh air. Next, it was my turn to enter the bathroom.
I had just finished my shower and had barely come out. I heard some commotion outside and before I could realise – the front door of our room that was not latched got forced inwards and in came rushing a gorgeous lady decked in bright red and lots of gold. It was the bride on the run! Taking off from a good 150 metres, from the front of the wedding hall to our hotel room, she dashed into our bathroom and locked herself in a flash. I was dumbfounded! Very soon, a few people following her barged in and phew! I was caught in the act while changing to shorts! What’s going on?
It appeared to be a scene straight from a Bollywood movie as chaos engulfed our hotel room. The immediate next thought that crossed my mind was getting thrashed for no reason and so somehow made my way out of the room to the veranda and joined Andrew in disbelief. Many eyeballs rolled looking at us as people briskly went in and out.
After a good ten minutes, the bride was taken away. As she was being led, she gave a loving glance at us, as if to indicate the ‘master plan’ had failed. My heart skipped a beat. The impression was like we young men had deliberately booked this room opposite the hall for some sinister design. Who knows? In the eyes of the wedding guests, ‘One of us could be her real lover,’ the other could be his friend executing the plan while she was being forced to marry against her wishes. Fortunately, thence to our great relief no one came investigating, knocking at our door.
The young bride’s face is evergreen in my mind and wherever she is, I sincerely hope she is doing well. I have refrained from suing her for having trespassed my dreams on many occasions in the ensuing years. Whenever we meet, for old times’ sake, Andrew and myself recall this incident and burst into the heartiest of laughs, reliving our youth all over again.
The smoky Paratha:
In December 2017, we made a road trip to the state of Queensland. On our return, we stayed in an apartment in Canberra - the Australian capital for a couple of nights, before heading back to Melbourne.
That morning, my better-half had placed (real time photo of the paratha in the pan on the second morning above) a ‘frozen paratha’ in the non-stick frying pan in preparation for our breakfast. In the process, smoke emanated and not long all the smoke-alarms in the two-bedroom apartment got triggered one after the other starting from the corner children’s bedroom. As a consequence, the building fire-alarm got activated. The hotel’s security came rushing in with a huge ‘smoke absorbing device’ to suck up the smoke that had engulfed the air-conditioned flat. Simultaneously, the receptionist made an announcement to other occupants of the vast building not to be alarmed as the matter was not deemed critical.
In the next five minutes, a couple of firemen entered our apartment for inspection. Australia is all about safety and obviously they were alerted and the fire-engine must have zoomed to the hotel from their base nearby. They advised us what needs to be done in such a case, including to keep a few windows open as the smoke detectors are very sensitive.
The next morning, though we took all the precautions, the same story got repeated. The ACs were switched off, the windows were kept open, the paratha was placed on the pan, the fire was on slow-gas and there was not much smoke, but somehow the smoke detectors still got triggered. The fire-alarm in the building set off, the security arrived with their devices to absorb the smoke, the announcement was made, another pair of firemen came in for inspection to make sure everything was alright.
After things settled, we sat down, savoured our parathas with some delicious gravy before checking out, driving all the way to Melbourne. It was once in a lifetime ‘smoky experience.’
Tender Coconut Story:
During my upbringing in Bengaluru, opposite the Wilson Garden police station lay a ‘Kamath Store’ from where we used to buy a lot of everyday stuff. Kamath mam also sold tender coconuts apart from variety of other things.
One late afternoon when my sister and I passed the shop, we noticed Kamath mam was having a chat with his customer who had a pair of tender coconuts entwined near his feet. Mom used to always remind us if we find things like these which can easily burn, it would be beneficial to get those home so that it can be dried and a fire lit to heat the water for bathing. Bengaluru (then Bangalore), unlike now was freezing those days throughout the year, far beyond winter.
Both my sister and I saw very clearly (that’s what we thought) that the top of the tender coconuts appeared to have been chopped off (meaning water consumed) and so I gave my sister the nod to get them. The little girl, hardly had picked them up, she realised it was holding water as they were heavy. In the utter confusion that ensued, the only thing we both did was to run away from the spot as fast as we could along with the tender coconuts. The man was yelling, ‘kalranna baddi makkalu’ [(idiotic kids) translation of Bengaluru Kannada]. Kamath mam came out of his shop giving us a short chase holding the edge of his lungi where he could be heard screaming, ‘Tumgel aanu yevo … takha pura sangtha’ [(let your dad come, will tell him everything) translation of GSB Konkani].
I am not sure when did the message go to dad. Late evening when he returned home, he was furious. He branded us thieves and subjected us to a sound smacking without even waiting for an explanation. I got a few more as I was the eldest. His contention was how could it cross our minds in broad daylight, to carry out such an act even by mistake that too within a few feet from the local police station.
Even today, the sight of the dual tender coconuts neatly tied brings back the ‘anxiety’ and ‘not so good’ memories of yesteryears.
The Qatar Nightmare:
We were a group of friends from Abu Dhabi, UAE who one fine day decided to make a trip to Qatar. Unlike the Qatar of today where the popularity of the country has shot up after hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022, back in 1996 there was nothing worthy to mention. Our Pakistani friend Wasim Hameed (pictured fourth from left. I am on the first left) based in the capital Doha was all set to welcome and host us for a few days.
It was that period in the United Arab Emirates where many Indians managed to give the slip after defrauding the banks to the tune of millions of dirhams. One fugitive Mr Patel had made good his escape to a South American country using the Qatari route. Almost at the same time the only bachelor in the group who had an accountant visa stamped on his passport, a bank employee and above all an Indian landed in Doha International Airport early morning, naturally setting off some alarm bells.
While all who accompanied me were let go with their visa on arrival stamped, I was taken to a nearby room for questioning. After a brief hearing from me as to what brought me to Doha and my forward travel plans (which they did not believe), serious discussion began amongst the officers (ignorant that I could understand Arabic) to deal with the ‘culprit’ at hand. More officers gathered and everyone seem to agree that it was too much of a risk to let me go. They were talking in the lines of putting me behind bars until a green signal was received from my country of residence. Somehow, they seem to have concluded; I was running away from the UAE after committing a fraud or embezzlement!
With the deliberations going on for a very long time, a few ladies in the group somehow managed to return searching for me. It was a spirited fightback which saw the officers relent. The explanation of the ladies’ that I was their relative, that I work in an area where I oversee the detection and mitigation of these things, made sense to one senior Officer in the team. Consequently, I was let go with only 4 days visa stamped on my passport as compared to the stated policy of 14 days. I thanked my stars, if the intervention was a bit late forthcoming, I would have been whisked away and lodged in a place where my accommodation, food and clothes were free.