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Why Ramesh always has a bald pate

Among my brother’s many boyhood friends, is one Ramesh whom everybody loves. He is a sweet person with always a smile and a friendly word for everyone.

But there is another reason why he stands out among my brother’s friends.

He has a bald pate!

His head is always clean-shaven.

These days many shave off the hair on their head to make a fashion statement and hide their receding hair-line. But it was an accident that made Ramesh go hairless.

By accident, I really mean an accident, a calamity, a mishap!

Before I narrate the story, let me make it very clear that this absence of hair, suits Ramesh perfectly and we cannot recollect him being otherwise.

It was during their college days that Ramesh and a set of his college friends volunteered to go on a trekking expedition to the Himalayas with a youth group.

All went well for a few days. Then when the group of boys were attempting to trek to a place 7400 feet higher, the accident happened.

A shepherd coming down their path told them that a herd of goats was crossing higher up and the rocks were loose. The boys took shelter under a cliff.

Sure enough, loose rocks came tumbling down. Then everything quietened down. Ramesh and a friend ventured out to check if the coast was clear

Without warning a boulder came rolling down, bounced on the friend’s backpack and hit him squarely on his head.

Ramesh fell down, bleeding and unconscious.

The other young boys stood stunned  and helpless for sometime. But they had to pick up courage to do the needful.

It was  the quick thinking of the adroit boys that saved Ramesh’s life that day. They wound Ramesh bleeding skull and carried him on a mule to the net camp.

The doctor in the camp down, where there was no electricity and no local anaesthesia, stitched up  the four inches long wound on Ramesh’s skull and rang for the helicopter which came a day late and took Ramesh to civilisation.

Ramesh needed hospitalisation, more medical intervention and of course all the prayers that his loved ones could offer, to get him on his feet again.

His shell-shocked parents and relatives prayed to every deity they knew. As is the custom in India, his parents and his relatives took  vows in different temples.

And what was the vow?

It was to bring their boy to the temples and shave his hair before the deity and offer it there.

So when Ramesh was back to normal, it began. Temple after temple, month after month, Ramesh was offering his hair in lieu of his well wisher’s vow.

Now this left Ramesh with a clean pate, for days on end. Soon he began to like his new look and he refused to grow back his hair ever again.

Of course this story about the temple offering is what Ramesh tells people who ask him about his bald pate,

But I don’t believe him for a second. I think the stitches on his head itch if he grows his hair back.

When my brother tells this story, he always adds that it could have been him (my brother) with a head injury instead of Ramesh. He had also signed up to go on that trek and he was the leader of the team.

It could have been his inquisitive head that had peeped out to see if the hurtling rocks had subsided.

But he opted out at the last moment, because my wedding was fixed for that week.

Well you never know what fate has in store for you!

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Train to Trouble.


ID-100386965This gentleman man shares his story with us to create awareness among the youth about drugs and substance abuse.

I shudder when I recollect this story even though it happened many years ago. I don’t want my name mentioned here. I studied in a city college in Chennai. But my house was in Arakkonam, which was about 50 miles from Chennai.

Every morning I would board the electric train from my town and travel to the city and in the evening take the same train back home.

Many students from villages and small towns around Chennai also used the electric train every morning to commute to city colleges and every one seemed to know everybody else on that train. We were like a large gang of friends even though we were from different towns and studied in different colleges.

Close to Chennai there was a prestigious college, where a lot of foreign students studied. They too took lodgings outside the city, as it was cheaper.

The boys from this college were smarter than us country folks. They spoke better English and seemed to have a lot more money than us.

And they all smoked like engines.

Initially I was wary of this crowd. But with the passing months our nodding acquaintance became more than that and we shared jokes and stories about our respective colleges.

They used to offer us cigarettes, which we politely refused.

One evening, those boys offered me a cigarette and when I refused it as usual, one of the guys got angry.

He became sort of maniacal and started to abuse me using strong language. Then he pushed me on the bench and sitting astride me, he pushed a cigarette into my mouth and said, “Take a puff, take a puff”

I coughed and spat and clenched my teeth. But he kept shoving the butt into my mouth and I could  do nothing but take a puff or two.

That’s all I remember.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my house with my anxious parents peering over me.

They told me that I had fainted in the train due to exhaustion and some of my college mates who used to board the same train with me, had brought me home.

I had given my family , my friends  and even myself, a very big fright that day. My mother wanted to rush me to the hospital immediately. My father kept giving me suspicious looks and gently probed me later at night about the incident. I stuck to my friends’ story that I had skipped lunch that day and had fainted due to hunger.

The next day, my college friends told me  what happened.  I had been forced to smoke marijuana or some such stuff. Being new to it, I had choked on the fumes. Then when I had tried to get up, my eyes had lolled upwards and I had fallen in a faint.

Seeing me in that state of stupor, the boys had got off the train and escaped. It was left to my friends to take me home in an auto-ricksaw and lie to my parents as to why I was in a faint.

Though I continued to board the same train everyday, those boys never got into the same compartment as me nor did they ever apologize to me.ID-10047032

After that academic year, they were not to be seen at all.

 Thinking back on the event, I realize that I had had a narrow escape.

PS : A word of caution to the youngsters. It is always best to keep away from people who do not seem right to you.

 You know, I could have DIED that day!

Written By : Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

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Before And After

mY3YuniPlastic surgery can enhance your looks. But can it make you smarter?

We had a new student in college. He was from another city and he knew very few people in our class. In college we have this habit of hanging about in groups of five or six. He hung about with us and soon became part of our group. He was quite a naive and innocent boy which sometimes made him the butt of some of our jokes and riddling.

What we did not know was that he had undergone ‘orthognathic’ surgery  just before joining college.

‘Orthognathic’ is basically a plastic surgery done to correct an abnormal jaw and enhance your profile.

Once we were sitting with him in the canteen. When we were clearing the table for the waiter to serve our tea, he let fall his books by mistake. A photo fluttered out of his book. It was an old photo of his,  taken before the surgery. We picked up the picture and passed it around. He looked quite different in it.

When we commented on it, he said, “That was taken before my Orthognathic surgery.”nD47Rsc

Then he added, “I will bring a photograph of me taken after the surgery.”

“Why?” we asked him.

“So that you can see how different I look after the surgery”

We burst out laughing. He could not understand why and I had to update him:

Dude, we know how you look after the surgery. We are seeing you everyday!”

Story By : Anand, Mumbai. Written By : Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo


The Bee In Spring

ID-10085282What happens when you give your professors nicknames and completely forget their original ones? What if you  remember them by just their appellations?

When we were in college we had this habit of giving tag names or nicknames to our professors. The name highlighted some idiosyncrasy of theirs.

We named one teacher frizzy because of her hair. A lecturer had an awful bright pink saree which she wore too often to college. Hence her sobriquet was Pinky. One professor had a somber look. Ergo, she was Madam Judge. We baptized another very fair-skinned teacher, Rasagulla (Indian Milk Sweet)

Then we had a “Queen Bee.”

This professor was very small built and was always hyper active. You could find her darting in and out of classes, heading committees or arranging symposium and seminars. She was always “busy as a bee.”  I don’t remember ever seeing her seated sedately in her chair in the staff room.

During my three years in under graduation, she taught our class many subjects. We saw her almost everyday. But we referred to her among ourselves as ‘Queen Bee,’ only. So much so, twenty years later we still refer to her by her nomenclature.

A year after I had completed my BA, my wedding was fixed. I wanted to invite some professors from college. After all they had been like second family to me.

So I was in the staff room of my old college, my alma mater, greeting teachers, and writing down their names in the wedding invites and seeking their good wishes.

I moved from table to table, person to person and I was before Queen Bee, my pen poised over the invite, ready to fill in her name.

But I could not remember it.

All that came to mind was, Queen Bee, Queen Bee, Queen Bee!

Noticing my dilemma, the other professors laughed and said, “She has forgotten your name.”

“Lets give her a clue,” someone said.

“Think of the spring season,” one lady tried to help me out.

“Spring?” I racked my brains. “Why spring? Was she named after a flower? Jasmine? Rose? What?”ID-100147751

Finally, Queen Bee herself came to my aid and told me her name.

It was Vasantha!

She was Mrs. Vasantha, What a lovely name!

In the  Tamil language (my mother–tongue) Vasantha has a beautiful meaning.

Vasantham means Spring Season!

For three whole years we ignoble girls had referred to her as a bee because of her temperament and her busy nature. Her name had not conjured up visions of flowers in full bloom, birds singing and fine weather.

How foolish we had been! She was such a bright and cheerful lady with a spring in her very step.

The name Vasantha or The Season of Spring, suits her a lot better than the flying insect we had named her after.


Story by: Saira – Written by: Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.

 Photo Credit: lamnee @

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English – Vinglish

ID-100167460Our warden spoke English Vinglish . The result?  Gender Bender!

In Bangalore close to the hospital where I did my post graduation there is  a youth hostel, kind of like a supervised lodging. Most of the student doctors, both girls and boys, lodged here, albeit on different floors.

There was always a waiting list to get accommodation in this lodge. It was never given on single occupancy. Two students had to reside together and share the rent, which worked out cheaper.  The rooms were fairly large, furnished with twin cots and bath attached.

The supervisor in charge of ‘letting out’ the rooms was an old man who regarded us with a benevolent eye. He was amicable but strict and was more like a father figure to all of us.

He had one flaw.

He spoke the language of his state, Kannada. But he was not very proficient in the English language.

The hostel attracted students from all the states in India; he had to somehow manage to get himself understood with his Pidgin English. But he would always get his tenses wrong. Sometimes he even got  his ‘genders’ mixed up which led to disastrous howlers

At the start of an academic year, my two friends and I (three strapping men) had taken up lodgings there. One friend and I shared a room while the other friend occupied the last available room and was waiting to get a roommate.

That same day, a doctor (a guy) and his father approached our caretaker for a room.

They wanted a single occupancy room.

Our custodian told them:

“We no have single rooms. Rooms given only on twin sharing. At present only one room available. Already one person occupying it. Your son can share room with HER!”ID-100168841

The boy’s father had the shock of his life. Here was a man openly telling his son to live with a girl!

“I would prefer my son to share a room with another MALE doctor” said the father sternly.

Our friend was quick to put him at ease.

“Don’t worry sir. SHE is very much a MALE!”

PS: The father was not convinced. My friend was sent for. Seeing the six-foot guy from Kerala, the father was assured that the person with whom his bachelor son was going to share lodgings for the next two years was:

“Very much a MALE!”

Story By: Ashiq – Written By : Gulsum Basheer @talkalittledo


You might also like to read this : Harmless English. 


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Tongue Twisted at the University.

dHPqFV“A twister of twists once twisted a twist.
 And the twist that he twisted was a three-twisted twist.
 Now in twisting this twist, 
if a twist should untwist, 
would the twist that untwisted, untwist the twists?”

That is a classic tongue twister. Can you repeat that pretty fast?

But even without all those confusing twists, I inadvertently mix up words when talking and make some really absurd gaffes.

Not even this incident from college has cured me of the habit.

When I was doing my B.Sc. (agricultural science) I made a morrible histake, I mean, horrible mistake, which my friends remember and tease me to this day.

For our Entomology Class, we had to collect insect specimens and submit an ”Insect box” as part of our assignment. There was a botanical garden near our college hostel. We often went there to gather samples for our exhibits.

Once when we girls were in the botanical garden hunting for insect prototypes, a few of our batch boys also landed up there. I greeted them.

“HI boys, have you come searching for insects?”

That was what I meant to say.

What I actually said was:

“Hi boys, have you come searching for INSKIRTS?”

The toys burned red. I mean the boys turned red.

“What are you saying?”  They asked doubtfully.

My friends pinched me hard; still I did not realize what I had said.o4cZIAC

“Have you come looking for in-skirts?” I quipped again brightly.

“Are you joking? They said sternly and walked away.

My friends repeated what I had just said and pointed out my mistake. I realized the seriousness of my statement. It really sounded like I thought the boys were some “Road -Side Romeos” (a cheap word at that time) and that they had come behind girls.  That too, chasing not just skirts but IN-SKIRTS, which in our country meant an under garment worn with a saree.

I was so ashamed of my faux pas that I almost burst into tears.

The next day, I shied away from the boys feeling very foolish. From then, I also maintained a respectable distance from them, all through the last terms.

Then it was time to bid farewell to my batch mates. We passed our autograph books around collecting addresses, phone numbers and farewell messages from our friends.

With out exception all the boys who had come chasing in-skirts or rather insects that day, had made a hilarious allusion to my absurd statement in the botanical gardens. But none of them had censured me.  For they had all amusedly agreed that, “ a slip of my tongue was no fault of my mind.”

Bank You Toys!

Hee, hee, hee.

Thank You, Boys!

Story By: Asiya Omar. UAE. …..Written By: Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.

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In College – Make Good Friends.

 ID-10058045Choose your friends wisely, for a man is known by the company he keeps. So is a woman.

When I was in college in the 1970s, we had this girl Bavna (named changed) in our batch who was as beautiful as she was rich. She was the cynosure of all eyes. Girls looked at her with envy and longed to be in her shoes. We thought that she had been offered everything on a golden platter.

Then  she made a wrong friend and spoilt it forever.

This girl, who was the complete opposite of her, in looks and in family circumstances, befriended Bavna and completely changed her.

Bavna who came from a good traditional family was enamoured with her friend’s wild ways. It gave her a kick to break free from norms and do things that she would not have dreamt of doing otherwise in college and outside.

Among the other crazy escapades they got into, one was to ring up random numbers on the telephone and talk to complete strangers. In those days we had no mobile phones nor did the landlines have the facility to check the number of the incoming calls.

Bavna and her friend would meet at Bavna’s house on holidays and without the knowledge of her parents ring up some number on the telephone and make inane conversation with unknown people at the other end of the line. I think they selected the numbers from the telephone directory.

Once they got a young man on the line who was game for some fun. He chatted with them nicely and impressed them and soon Bavna and her friend were calling up this man more often. They would come to college and repeat everything that the man said and say how funny he was and how smart he was.

We warned Bavna to stop talking to him. But her friend would not let her stop.We completely washed our hands off this affair. But Bavna continued with it.

We moved to the second year of our under-grad. One Monday morning, after the weekend break when we came to college, the whole campus was abuzz with the news.

Bavna had eloped with this man!

We were shocked at first but after a few days we stopped bothering. A month later Bavna’s father came to college and met her classmates. Looking at him we knew how much he had been affected by the rash act of his daughter.

He cried.

A great man, as old as our fathers, crying before us affected us badly. He asked only one thing of us, that we advice Bavna to complete her studies. Only from him we knew that the man with whom Bavna had gone was a wastrel and a school dropout. Hooking Bavna had been his ticket to better times. We consoled Bavna’s father as best as we could. But there was nothing that we could do.

Now thirty-five years later, when I repeat this story to my children and tell them to make good friends, they say that Bavna was completely to blame.

 “She should  have known right from wrong,” My daughter insists.

But I tell them that the teens and the twenties are an impressionable age. The choices that we make then, can make or mar our future forever.ID-100217777

P.S: My children also want to know what happened to Bavna afterwards. I tell them that blood is thicker than water and that her father took Bavna and her husband under his wing and helped them in every possible way, till his dying day.

 Story by: Mala. Lancaster, USA………. Written by : Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.

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The scent of a Class.

mWjVVx21976…PUC…. Ethiraj College.

Warm pleasant memories of a fun filled year, come flooding into my mind.

Our teacher was busy with the front-benchers from Tamil medium schools, who poor souls, were struggling with the sudden transition to an English Medium College.

We, the “naughty-convent-girls” occupied the last two rows of a fairly large class with gallery type seating arrangements. We had a whole world of activities going on in the last two benches, which usually escaped the eyes of the professor in front. Some times when our whispers grew a little louder or when she suspected a girl was reading a Mills and Boon novel, hidden between the pages of her college book she would get exasperated and she would suddenly throw us a question. We would shoot back the answers right away since we had already done some of the lessons prescribed for PUC, at the school level itself. So she could not punish us for being inattentive.

Once during this perpetually harried teacher’s class, my friend opened her tiffin box. Immediately a heavenly aroma of home cooked food wafted through the class. The teacher grew suspicious and climbed up the gallery steps to the last row. The box was quickly hidden and we sat like paragons of virtue, looking at her earnestly. She went back to the front of the class, having failed in her mission to nab us.

After the food was gobbled up, I took out my mehandi cone and started applying it in my friend’s palm.The  woody smell of mehandi enveloped the class. The teacher smelt it. She looked suspiciously in our direction. We stared back attentively as if we were all ears, listening only to her teaching and nothing more.

Then like the proverbial straw on a camel’s back, one of my friends took out a nail polish bottle and started applying it. Then the bottle was passed around surreptitiously till it was empty. The sharp smell of the nail polish filled the class and became over powering. The teacher’s face grew red with anger. Three different kinds of smell in one hour was a little too much for her. She was ready to burst.mrEUcgO

Luckily for us, before all hell could break loose, the bell rang.

I can still remember the expression of  utter hopelessness on her face as she saw us rushing out of class, with mehandi adorned hands and freshly painted nails, feeling pleased as PUNCH!

By: Fahmida Irfan. Chennai.



Student Attacked By An Elephant.

ID-100223516When I was doing my first year in college, I was attacked by an elephant. Not in my dreams. Not in my imagination. But in real life.

It did not happen in a jungle nor did it happen in a wild life reserve. It happened near my house in a large residential colony in Chennai, one of India’s buzzing metropolitan cities.

The scars I sustained that day have healed. The nightmares don’t haunt me anymore. But the memories are indelible. Though I joke about it to friends and family, I always shiver a little when I recollect my escape from the trunks of a pachyderm.nCXFRzs

Up until the late 1980s temple elephants with a mahout sitting on top it, asking for alms in the streets was accepted as normal. In temple towns and during religious festival seasons, it was almost an everyday sight. But in big cities it happened very rarely. So one day when my friends and I were returning from college, we saw this elephant with a mahout on top of it, come down our colony streets. We were pretty excited. A bell was hanging from its neck and its ding-dong noise lured people outside. Many  offered the elephant coins, which it took deftly off their hands with its trunk and gave it to the person sitting on it. Then it put its trunk on the heads of the benefactors in a symbolic blessing gesture.

The mahout was a young lad of about eighteen years, and as we later surmised,  not very used to handling this elephant. Maybe he had brought this elephant out, against the better judgement of the older mahouts.

As was the norm with all adolescents, he wanted to show off in front of the bevy of college going girls laughing, joking and gaping at him and his elephant.

No one can exactly recall in what way he instigated the elephant, but when it walked past us girls, standing in a line on the platform, it seemed to get angry.  Suddenly and in a swift movement it stretched out its trunk towards me, standing last in the line and caught me.

There was pandemonium around. Everyone screamed all at once. I struggled from its grasp and at one point the elephant dropped me and I think it meant to trample me under foot. I tried to crawl away but it had me in its hold once more. It lifted me easily like a rag doll, and dashed me lightly twice against the walls of my neighbour’s compound wall. The third time it lifted me rather high. The third smash  would have been the forceful  final killing smash!

Luckily for me, my friend’s father who lived in the house next to mine had come out of his house just then. He saw me in the elephant’s raised trunk right outside his compound. Using great presence of mind and from the safety behind the wall, he pulled me from the elephant’s trunk. I fell into his garden. The elephant could not reach me there. Disappointed at failure, the elephant took off at great speed and ran wildly down our street and out of the colony.ID-10045222

We do not know how or when the elephant calmed down. As we did not make a formal complaint to the police, we never knew what happened to the elephant or the mahout after wards. We still do not know, to whom the elephant belonged.

But that day I was badly hurt. I was bleeding heavily from wounds on my forehead, chest and hands. My mother who had no clue to her daughter’s near brush with death, was at home. My friends ran to fetch her and when she saw me covered in blood, she became hysterical and almost swooned. We had to ring up my father to tell him the news. In her agitation she forgot his office telephone number.There were no mobiles then.

I am proud to say that even in my hazy state, I was able to mutter out my father’s office telephone number.

I was in hospital, under medical supervision for a week. Even though we hid the news from the newspapers and debarred all journalists from interviewing me, one very smart person managed to get my photo and collect information from my neighbours. I made front-page news the next day (not the head lines, of course but front page all right.)

Maybe you read the news  “Student Attacked By An Elephant.”

Perhaps you saw my photograph too?

Story by: Bina Deepak. Singapore – Written by : Gulsum Basheer @ Talkalittledo

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The College Hostel – Mobiles In The Dormitory.

ID-100203725Cell phones were banned in our college hostel for some time. This is the story of how my friends and I were instrumental in getting that order abolished.

 I stayed at the college hostel during my under graduation years in Coimbatore. We were housed four girls to a room. Cell phones were banned in our dorm, as the authorities thought that the girls perpetuated all sorts of mischief during the night by connecting  with their friends in other the rooms and even outside our diggings.

 But who followed rules? Most of us had a mobile and we used them in secret.

 There was no plug point in any of the rooms to ‘re-charge’ the cell phones. We would give it to the day scholars to take it home with them and get them charged.

 But a girl lodging with us was very smart. She knew a little bit of electrical engineering. Every night, she would unscrew the switchboard that held the light and fan switches. Then she would plug our cell phone chargers directly into the sockets behind the switches. Every night after our door was shut, the switchboard would hang open with our cell phones being re-charged. In the morning the board was screwed back in place.

I know it was a dangerous thing to do, but we were  thrilled about outsmarting the authorities.

 One Saturday night, our friend from the next quarters spent the night in our room. We talked through the night and it was almost 2 AM, when we fell asleep.  Very early at dawn the next day, the other girl woke up and went back to her crib, without waking any of us to shut our door. Since it was a Sunday and there were no classes to attend to, we slept on, oblivious to the activities outside.

 That day the Hostel Warden had heard that the Superintendent of all the colleges under our University was coming for an inspection of the hostels. Immediately she and a few other teachers staying in the teacher’s wing of the hostel, made a hasty round of the premises, trying to set right everything that seemed amiss.

 As our door was open, they peeped in and got the shock of their lives. Four girls were lying askew on a blanket on the floor, deep in sleep. The switchboard was gaping open with four mobile chargers coiling out of it. A big screwdriver was a sitting witness to our expertise.

 The Warden lost her temper and became hysterical. She screamed out our names and woke us up. We sat up rubbing our eyes and wondering what the commotion was all about. By then a lot of other girls had gathered outside and were peering into our digs, giggling.

 “Get up, get up” the dragon shouted, “Walk to the principal’s office.”ID-100109137

 The she-deviil did not give us permission to  brush our teeth or changeout of our nighties. We four girls in wrinkled nighties waited with misgiving, in the office of the Principal, wondering what fate had in store for us.

 But our fate-karma-kismet  was  good that day.

 The Superintendent was just the opposite of the warden. She was a cool customer. I think she must have been  naughty as a student too. We could see that she was dying to laugh on hearing our over blown story from the melo-dramtic warden but she  controlled herself in case she offended the distraught woman.

 But the Superior’s next words were sensational!

 “What? Such big girls, and not allowed to use a mobile? What would they do in emergencies? Please lift that rule.”

 This information spread like wild fire through out our hostel. We became immediate heroes after that day. Our friends and even our seniors took us out to hotels and plied us with food and said a big “Thank You.”

 We were hailed as the girls “who tied the bell on the warden hell-cat.”

As told to talkalittled By: Binusha Fathima. Ramnad Written By Gulsum Basheer.

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