“NO SMOKING “- aesthetically placed reminders every nook and corner of the airport.
Why is it that Airport authority in India, restrict people who want to smoke before boarding the flight or in the flight? Or be it even the Railways. Strict Rules you see!
I didn’t have an option but to throw the pack of cigarettes into the thrash bin.
Yeah, yeah ... I know, you would be thinking of 101 reasons as to why a person should smoke at all. But you gotta be a smoker. A smoker to understand the urge to smoke when one wants to take a break from anything, when the temperature drops down to a pleasant climate, when the day calls in for pooling in extra hours on the work front, killing time while waiting for someone who was late in arrival, the pleasure in the last puff and a lot of reasons to which the non smokers would never relate to.
“OK…that's enough! Enough of giving lame reason as to why one should smoke” - Ahaan! Don't assume that I didn't read your mind. It's a never ending debate between the smokers and non smokers, but still people do what they want to … detest smoking or enjoy smoking. Choice is left open!
Initially I hated smoking, couldn't even be in the vicinity of a smoker. Hated the smokes and the smell….argued about it….cursed people who smoked in the public…felt how unethical of them to do so when the place is equally entertained by the non smokers as well. Just because of someone enjoying blowing out the curl of smokes in the air, non smokers had to avoid being there. How ethical is that? Thoughts were then.
My best friend started smoking, since the class 8th. Then, it was the Style Factor which led him to convince us, the Pandavas (so called in the school as we were 5 in number and were inseparable) of how smoking is cool thing to do during the schooldays. (Doubting whether the reason changed for any good in the present generation school going kids) He (not to mention his convincing abilities to even embrace Satan in the name of God) convinced us to try once of the immense pleasure a smoke would give oneself. A bunch of school kids, with untidy uniforms, we hit off riding our cycles post the school hours.
Have to mention here of my 1st cycle... Atlas! There you go again, thoughts can be so predictable…read your mind again and NO ways! I was born in 80's not in 60's…just that my uncle somehow was convinced that an Atlas would do me good. Pity me; nobody would have succeeded in changing my uncle's beliefs the time he bought me the cycle. And for 2 full years, I had to cover up my sobbing state (Ego mind, I couldn't ignore that, can I?) whenever I looked at those from the provision stores carrying the groceries to be home delivered or the vendors selling guava in the colony. Thanks to my uncle, he put me into the same league. Boo - hoooo (don't take it literally, this is just for some added spice in the story)
Ok...Deviated! Shifting back to the main topic.
With a sense of adventure, we bought a pack of Gudhangaram, country made cigarettes. They were clove and cinnamon flavored and was chosen as they didn't smell like the usual ciggies. After all we still had to face our parents post school and we couldn't screw up our reputation and loose our only source of income...weekly pocket money. I somehow was inclined to call it Udhagamandalam, as I found the original name very confusing. Don't! Don't ask me to explain how the adopted name made it simplified. I was then a school kid. Nevertheless, we straight away went to our secret meeting point. Yes; like all the kids, we also had a secret place and it was called Chikka Betta Halli (small mountain village - literal translation), a small hilly area near the layout. It was the only place where we were ourselves and not the victims of societal inhibits. It was the place where we had kept our secrets concealed. Also it served as the place for our new frontiers. We always ensured that the place was visited everyday and we discussed on various topics ranging from girls, girls, studies, girls, girls, crushes, girls, boring school, girls, parties, drinking, girls, parental restrictions, our dreams, girls, career ahead, girls again.
Well now that you know of the various topic of our interest, let's get going with the smoker's adventures.
Needless to say, Joe did the opening act and taught us how to hold the ciggies (yeah… In Style!). In matter of seconds, the ciggies were lit and then …… uhhho….uhho.. uhhoo.. uhhooo. Ahem… starting trouble you see.
I went awry over the taste and the smell of the ciggies. Decided instantly that they were not made for me! But had to keep up my reputation of not being the odd man out, I went on to finish the entire smoke. Bham Bham Bholenath!! Small in size but the smelly stick managed to give a complex even to a steam engine.
Ever wondered what happens to one on finishing the 1st smoke of the lifetime. It seems that eyes go blur, coughs recur every 10 seconds, feel thirsty, feel elated, a dramatic sense of mission accomplished, and this and that. Well, all of them happened to me as well. Along with which there was guilt somewhere in the distant corner of my mind and a fear of what if caught, at the same time a yahoo feeling of trying the smoke as well. (For the record, I have this mission of trying anything and everything atleast once in my lifespan. If I like, I stick on to it and if I don't then it becomes history). In pace with the Pandavas, I was looking at the smokes swirling into yet another haze, yet another ciggie lit.
Someone was there!
I knew it, something was wrong. My intuitions were crying out loud to be heard. None bothered. There was a deep sense of fear that something was about to happen. But all I could see was rest of them, blowing out the carbon content in style, while still believing that they were part of this major mafia scene and would shoot at any one on sight.
For sometime my friends caught me rubbing my eyes, they being completely unaware of the disaster in front of me. My act was purely to wake myself from the haze and to ensure what I saw was in real blood and flesh. Sigh!!! They were.
“Beversi gala! Eno madhtha iddheera??” (Bastards! What are you doing??)
All I could think was “What the heck? Where did he come from? Oh no! He is not alone, he is with another disaster”
2 hawaldar's were actually standing infront of us, beating their lathi's on the adjacent rock and I was shitting bricks. At the same time I was laughing within at the comical expressions on rest of Pandavas faces. I knew somehow I'd remember this day forever in my life.
It seemed like our guardian angels had taken a break from us, out there somewhere blowing out smokes in circles and In Style. If not, why on earth would these cops come to a distant hill and catch us of all the bad guys out there tormenting the normal life? All we did was have some pure boyish fun in exhaling the smokes. Was that bad? For sure, our angels seemed to have lit yet another Udhagamandalam, absolutely no sign of them!!
It turned out to be that Hawaldar's were not making enough money on their regular strolls and they somehow came to know of few boys visiting this place very often. This was their time to cater to their greedy (and as per them needy) pockets. And guess what, we were the scapegoats and best of all we were caught red handed or should I say smoke handed. All of a sudden we were the culprits, joining the league of hardcore criminals. Thanks to Udhagamandalam! And special thanks to Joe. I owed him big time to face this situation….arrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!
Then followed the mangala aarthi(a grandeur worship, related to prayers offered to God. The context of the verbal usage in here fits into a deep sarcasm) - being slapped by those beasts, held by the collar, and almost being taken to the police station. What the F***? Finally one of the Pandavas broke down and knelt on his knees and started crying like never before. Before even you think of anything, let me say for the record, it wasn't me! Ever wondered how the sentiments, tears and pleading; bow down the angered beast. It clicked. Our coward Pandava 4(Deepak) seemed to the Hero of the day and our savior. The cops actually gave in only to realize that they were expecting the moolah!(money u dumbhead ).
Pandava 1(Joe) : “hey I have Rs 7/- … spent the rest on the ciggies man”
Pandava 2(MRP) : “damn! My fate..had to fight with my dad yesterday itself…I walked with no money in hand… u guys have to manage”
Pandava 3(Vinay) : “well I have Rs 28/- .. saved it for the weekend rum drinking. Guess I don't have much of a choice. Lets give it all”
Pandava 4(Deepak) : boo hoo (still crying his lungs out) “ I am left with Rs 12 /- but need Rs 3/- to get my cycle chain fixed. Its too loose and I can't ride properly”
Pandava 1(Joe) : “Basket, Fish your chain and your problems, we are dealing with a bigger problem here. Get all your money out and for God sake shut your trap”
Pandava 4(Deepak) : “Fish you!!” Boo Hoo…..Crying continues.
Pandava 5 (Me) : “guys … I spent all my money to get that valentines card for her man. How I wish I delayed buying the card. Aint having any money on me. Wait…. I have 1 Rs and 25 paise. If that's gonna help”
Mathematics came into picture. And guess what … all of us forgot how to count…obviously the credit goes to the guys from the Kourava group. All the money with the change was handed over to them. And the offering was accepted with rude remarks and a threat to jail us if caught next time.
Hmmm… at times even if the offerings are given from the bottom of the heart, it is never received to its best. The greed takes over the humble efforts or was it an effort to cover up our so called mistakes. I didn't even want to think in those lines.
We were shooed away from the hills and were left with a warning of not to visit the place in the future ever. Walking away from the scene, we heard the distant chuckles behind us. Yes it was their day!
Our cycles were parked in the bottom of the hill and we somehow gathered all the strength to run towards the cycle to get the hell out of there. And to our shock, the tyres were flattened. It was indeed a well made plan.
Since then I decided smoking as one of the things I didn’t like and was history to me. Managed to keep the same belief for a long time. Every party attended, every person met I was for sure voting for the non smoking campaign.
But like the wise man says all things happen for a reason. I took onto smoking, this time not for the Style sake. It was for a total different reason. I left everybody shocked with my decision. Guess it’s hard to digest that someone opposing so much would cling on to it every moment.
“Good Morning! This is Nadia from Emirates Airlines and you are about to land in Dubai. Request you all to fasten the seat belts. The weather outside is very humid and the temperature is 41 degree…blah, blah…more blah, blah…. Thank you and Have a nice day!”
Sometimes, one just doesn’t realize as to how the time flies when gone on a deep diving into the past, digging all the pleasant memories. The flight journey indeed seemed short.
I stopped by the sign board to help myself out of the airport.
• Duty Free Shops
• Rest Rooms
• Smoking Zone
Bingo!!! Everything was placed in order!