The Legend of ‘Chappal Day’

For the safety and security of all except me, I have changed the names wherever necessary. Any resemblance to known people could be intentional.

I used to hate the word ‘chappal’ but this has changed with reminiscences of the day where we boys became men through this ubiquitous piece of footwear. The all boys Jesuit run school we were in had a super strict dress code. Besides the obligatory navy blue shorts and white button down shirt there was a further strict rider – no chappals, only shoes and socks. And being a high school student meant our class was expected to set an example to all those we hazed when the teachers looked away. Considering all this we still managed to look like a mauled bunch in some African safari by the time the day ended.chappal

Now our teachers had some quirks. There was one who coudnt stand boys who sweat in class. You were immediately puled up and made to sit down on the ground before the blackboard if this ever happened. And god-forbid you had an afternoon class in the Mangalorean heat. You had to make sure not a drop of sweat came down your brow.
Now as we were completing our 10th standard (we had just finished our mock final exams for which I definitely did not study) we had a few classes left before hitting the SSLC final exams. We were made to know that this was a do-or-die exam that would define our future. Who knew from then on we would be told that every exam was a life defining point. Now as our classes concluded, we decided to do something that would make us stand out and remember our days in high school. Oh boy! How memorable we made it that we even talk about it today on the WhatsApp class group.

Was it a good old school hall send-off with speeches and all – No. Was it a felicitation of performers followed by distribution of sweets and Thums Up – Nope. Was it prayer followed by song and dance for our teachers and juniors – No No No. A good classical send-off it was not. We ended up with Chappal Day.

I still have no clue as to who started this thing, though my suspicions surround our last benches as the originators. Every trip to the principals office was facilitated by the last bench (I was an integral part of this througout, though I managed to escape trips to the office at the expense of others).

Our class teacher was Achal Sir, a genial Kannada teacher who went on the rampage if anyone disturbed his class. “Hey pattinga” and the duster flew towards you if you ever whispered sweet nothings to the Debonair magazine centerfold on your lap as Pampa and Ranna were explained from the dog eared textbook on your desk. This combined with the fact that Achal Sir was a career NCC man made the subsequent whackings something to remember. But he was an extremely sporty guy who knew that high school boys need to let off steam from time to time. Now, I dont know why chappals were selected as a send off motif. Maybe it was the antithesis to the strict dress regimen we had, or the need to needle some of our teachers who let a holier than thou approach pin us all year long. Well, whatever it was we just decided that we would come one Monday (which also happened to be the last day of class before the revision holidays) dressed in our best whites and well pressed navy blue shorts, but with chappals. Further, we also got a buy in from Achal Sir to go ahead with this. In not so many words he said OK. Basically as he was finishing class on Friday, we slipped in the fact that Monday would be Chappal day. He ‘Hmm’ed and that was good enough for us.

Monday came up and we trooped in to the morning Assembly in our finest chappals. Bata, Paragon, Action, Premier, and every Market Road brand were on show as we went through the Assembly without a hitch. Some teachers were looking at us weirdly, knowing something was amiss. The first class of the day was Mathematics. Now, we had Michael Sir or Mickey as we all called him – a nervous, twitchy sort who came in with a martyred look like St. Stephen about to be stoned. His wailing explanation of Acute, Obtuse and all sorts of angles that you might as well learn from the Kamasutra, made it the most boring lecture of the day.

As soon as Michael Sir entered he saw the words “Happy Chappal Day” chalked on the blackboard with some cheap flowery motifs around it in purple and green – the only other chalk colours that were available. This was the work of Edmund (last but one bench, even then the usual suspect). Mickey looked up and we saw his face going red as hell. Oh Oh, someone’s gonna get hurt real bad. He stood quietly on the platform for sometime, possibly trying to get his BP down. For once we were thankful that his goody-two-shoes boys in the second bench were in his face to soften his anger. These choir boys were tall guys who couldnt make it to the first bench but were good enough for a second row.

And so the class began, with an obviously still simmering Mickey explaining for one last time the intricacies of algebraic equations and summarizing chapter after chapter. During the class a bit of chappal football took place. With the boys removing their chappals and trying various positions with their shoe-free feet for the first time, others took advantage and began playing footsy with the slippers. And that’s how Praful’s chappals ended up under the lecture platform, having started its journey from the last bench. All this while Michael Sir knew something was afoot. He droned on while suspiciously looking around – like a meer cat checking out the landscape.

And so the class ended as the old electric bell rang. Michael Sir collected his books and register and began his walk down the platform. He hadn’t even wished us the best of luck for our exams. It was at exactly this point that Edmund decided he needed to add to his artwork on the board. He sat on the last but one bench, right in front of us, and gave a rapid clap under the desk. Now a clap spreads like a Mexican wave and in this case the whole class took this as a cue to give one thunderous clapping farewell to Mickey. I am sure the whole school heard us and thought it was an appreciative send-off to a teacher from one of the 10th standard classes. If only they knew. Mickey turned around immediately snarling, “who was that idiot who clapped. I want that fellow to come to the staff room within the next 10 minutes.” As if we would give up one of our own! But then we have our holier than thou souls.

And so it happened, after Mickey walked out, we had Achal Sir come in for the Kannada class. And surprise, surpise, our class teacher had on a pair of black slippers. He had given up his shiny shoes to ensure that he joined us for our last class givng in to our quirky request. The class began with all of us forgetting about Mickey and his scowling brow, to an excited chatter. “Shssssh” was the first thing that Achal Sir said and the class fell silent. One thing Sir would not tolerate was insubordination. Just because he acquiesced to our request didn’t mean he was going to let us off the hook. The class respectfully fell silent and the final Kannada lesson began.

Fifteen minutes into the lesson our class had a visitor. No, it was not a crow roaming the verandah searching for scraps of cookies that someone threw out of the classroom when the teacher spotted them. It was our principal Fr. Savio. He walked in with a genial look on his face like he had come to wish and bless us all for the final exams. Boy, were we wrong! The first thing that caught Fr. Savio’s eye were the slippers worn by Achal Sir. This was an obvious anomaly considering that fact that no one had ever seen Sir without shoes. The principal then moved his eyes to us scanning every John Johnny Janardhan and it was obvious he got the drift of what was happening. “All those who have worn shoes please come out”. A couple of guys who missed the boat when the message had gone out about Chappal day and a few other Judas’s made their way to the podium. We counted four. And then we heard a shuffling from one of the last benches. Peter (or Pedro as we all called him) was half standing and slipping on some shoes. He had worn shoes to class and had changed into slippers later. He was now trying out the goody two shoes act and make it up front.

Post this hungama we escaped the wrath of the principal. Call it providence or the SSLC exams round the corner, it died an immediate death. Maybe our class teacher had something to do with that, I don’t know. However this event is still talked about in our WhatsApp groups and was brought up during one of the conversations. I need to chronicle this event cause it really signified what our class was all about. A rowdy bunch with the coal and steam to make it in life. We continue in that vein, though operating under the radar.

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The final derby

And another football season comes to a close. Hold on, one more tournament to go next week and then we are done. Following a year of mixed fortunes, our Schneider Electric football team will be playing the final cup of the year – The Diego Cup, in honour of the great Diego Maradona. Besides being my favourite footballer, I hope to take some of Maradona’s aggressivess and maniacal risks into this tournament to ensure we finish this year on a high.

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At the Schneider Electric annual day – Best team and winners

The year began with a bang. Winning the Schneider Electric intra-cup was a great start to the year and I won my first ever personal football award – The Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament. It was an unforgettable final where a rag tag team taking part for the first time knocked out the two time winners. We were bruised severely at the end of the tournament. Muscle catches, leg cramps, broken fingers and a teammate broke his leg. But it was worth it – completely.

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Blues Cup Winners

The Blues Cup was another comprehensive win where we beat a tricky IBM team in the final. However these wins were followed by a couple of runners up trophies and then a whole lot of knockouts as we cleared the league phase hurdles but got stuck at the quarters and semi-final stage. Mid-year we lost one of our key players to an accident – a loss we feel professionally and being a close friend – personally. Our team has chugged on and has shown a fighting spirit and camaraderie that has kept us afloat. We have emerged as a team to beat in the corporate leagues – a feat we are proud of and hope to keep emulating and winning in games to come. Here’s to a good end to the football season and 2016.

 

And dad is on TV again

Over the years, in his position as a senior Psychiatrist, Dad has been called by channels on various related programmes and appeared on state and local TV. This evening, I switched between PV Sindhu’s brilliant Rio semi-final victory and Dad’s interview on a Mangalorean news channel. The live streaming helped and I thought I would chronicle this moment. So here is a screenshot capture of the show that tackled the topic of addiction.

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Pax Americana

The Sopranos reaches its pinnacle in Season 6. Truly. Two episodes down and with the Jersey Godfather comatose, you have his shadow loom as large as it did when he was  active. Tony Soprano’s dreams during this time make for a compelling story as he shifts from situation to situation in a travelling salesman avatar. Never have dreams been so engrossing on screen. In the outside world, the burning never stops, nor does the rush of the mafia struggle that takes place clandestinely as various players throw their hat in the ring to take over from the ‘boss’.

This series has lived up to everything it stood for. The unapologetic violence, the unpretentious swag of the Jersey mobs, the loyalty and betrayals and above all – family. Episode 2 of the last season is a wonderful narrative in the stream of consciousness. It could be a tribute to Don Sopranos Psychiatrist too. It weaves from reality to the ‘other world’ seamlessly, giving away few secrets as the characters move ahead. The ending solidifies the goosebumps you feel throughout the episode and with the hauntingly beautiful ‘When it’s cold I’d like to die‘ playing from Moby‘s soundkit you have one of the most beautiful episode closures in this saga.

 

The indefatigable Molly Solverson

A quaint snow covered town. A whole lot of murders. A villain who could be the devil himself. And the lady with the lamp who shines it on clues that define good old police work. The last one is Molly Solverson, one of the best cop characters on television.

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Pic. courtesy: bustle.com

I approached ‘Fargo‘ keeping in mind the Coen Brothers ’90s movie and my love for all things that come out of those dark humoured minds. I was never disappointed as the creators of the show (who didn’t happen to be the brothers) strictly followed the Coen code of story-telling to come up with a fantastic crime drama that saw me watch the whole season from start to finish.

Fargo is a series that takes on the Minnesota landscape and all that its lonely inhabitants stand for. The nuances from daily hellos to uncertain suspicions to paradoxes, as defined by story titles, bring in a slice of life that can be a suitable parable in our time. And you have fantastic leads in Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks and supporting acts from Bob Odenkirk (famous as Saul Goodman from Better Call Saul). There is the primary antagonist, a deliciously devilish portrayal by Billy Bob Thornton. You cannot have asked for anything more evil than the Lorne Malvo character that he portrays. He is the devil with his sense of dark principles and justice absolutely intact. There are hitmen (one of them is deaf), the mob and a whole lot of characters whose inclinations would be in line with themes from ‘Alice in Wonderland‘.

Martin Freeman takes time off from his Dr. Watson duties to give us a William H. Macy-like Fargo performance that makes you feel for and then revile him. His bumbling Lester Nygaard is as fool-hardy as they come but with the presence of mind to survive. And yes, there are major cameos from, surprise surprise…, a comedic pair who put in quite a good law enforcement performance. Comedy Central regulars will get this.

Chief of Police Bill Oswalt brilliantly summarises what Fargo is, “I used to have positive opinions about the world, you know, about people. Used to think the best. Now I’m looking over my shoulder. An unquiet mind, that’s what the wife calls it.”

Of fractures and what not

One week with a fractured foot and I have gone through quite a collection of movies/series on my hard drive. And all that’s on the hard disk needs to last foIMG_20160602_172646r another three weeks. That’s right, I am counting the days before the full leg permanent cast comes off by June 22. A check up at the doctor’s yesterday determined that the injury was an old one that got worse over time. Surprising question was why didn’t I notice it all this time. Last weekend’s excruciating pain and my inability to place my foot on the ground led to an emergency experience that lasted the whole Sunday. Talk about missing the IPL finals.

So on this cheery note, I have viewed and reviewed a few of the gems I came across during the week.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Britain’s most obnoxious radio jockeyindex is at it again. This time on the big screen. I have always enjoyed the foot-in-mouth shenanigans of Alan Partridge (sort of brings memories of a cross-Atlantic contemporary – Alan Harper) and it was time his bloated ego got its space up there. This time our RJ from Norfolk has to deal with a ‘Dog Day Afternoon‘-like situation and in his own incompetent way handles the hostage crisis till the end. With a lot of familiar faces from the TV series, those of you connected to Partridge’s life can relate to the nonsensical brilliance that Steve Coogan‘s character offers. While on painkillers this was a good way to start my recuperation. Oh and I loved the music from the opening sequence.

Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride – My fascination for all things Holmes brings me to the latest offering from Benedict Cumberbatch and co. One of the best portrayals of Holmes, this hour and a half long episode focuses on a specific case from the past interjected with scenes from the present. I cannot reveal more, but say that there are some neat Gothic touches to this tale of a wronged bride along with the usual surprise twists that come along with Arthur Conan Doyle‘s fables. A cheer out for Dr. Watson too and Mrs. Watson. Look out for one of my favourite scenes from the books – The Reichenbach Falls.

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Amores Perros – Before finding success in the States, Innaritu directed this gem of a tale based in Mexico City. Dogs are the connection between three story arcs that make this film. Loyalty, honesty, love are the themes that emanate strongly from this beautiful, brutal and dramatic featuamores perrosre. Everyone has a story to tell and Amores Perros (Life’s a Bitch) proves what good story-telling is all about. As with Latin American films, the emotions are strong, vivid and portray the ghettos of Mexico to the high life and revolutionary idealistic zeal of the educated. All the while marking the perils that life can hold out to us.

 

Sicario – Staying with Mexico. What a movie! Benecio Del Toro has been a favourite ever since ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘ and the performancesicario del toro emily blunt he puts in here is matched by Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin in a hell of a cartel movie. From scene one you get the feeling that the next shot is going to be the last for the protagonists and it goes on till the end. Never a dull moment, this has one of the best military road scenes when an elite crack team makes it across the US border to bring in a cartel suspect. Del Toro’s silence lurks in every scene and there’s a lot to say in that. His character is the mission and till the end you never guess what his exact role is within the Special Forces. One of the best movies of 2015 and certainly deserved a lot more accolades than it got.

The Devil’s Backbone – Sticking with Spanish revivalism, this Pedro Almodovar produced movie with one of my favourite director’s at the helm – Guillermo Del Toro, brings in Spanish Gothic horror in the midst of the Civil War of the 1930s. Set in a remote orphanage with spookydevils backbone del toro happenings, this tale of war and ghosts weaves its way through the deserted Catalonia region. The horror is real and there are scenes that would make you cringe and sink deeper into your bed. What I loved about this movie was the poetry. The actual poetry that the orphanages doctor brings out in his discussions with the students and the woman he loves. There can be no greater description of a ghost (or Phantasmo as they say in Spanish) than the words used by the good Doctor. Love, betrayal and resurrection in the time of war… that’s what the Devil’s Backbone stands for.

Plebs – Back to TV series. And my favourite genre – Brit comedy. Set in ancient Rome, with all modern day mannerisms, Plebs is a sporty laugh riot with memorable characters to boot. I LMAO on this one. Who would have thought the Romanplebs‘s had such a great sense of humour. From Roman orgies to Cypriot monks, Plebs takes you through the life and times of Caesar’s civilians as they live through gladiator fights, bureaucracy and the occasional refugee who steals the hearts of the protagonists while leading them on. The master slave equations are hilarious and one to watch out for in this comedy. Plebs dabbles a bit with the ‘Carry On…’ humour to prove that Rome was not built in a day.