Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Washing dirty linen in public....

When the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (IIMB) advertises itself as the place to be, the city of Bangalore is the Ace card up its sleeve. Compared to Ahmedabad and Calcutta, the other two top-IIM cities, Bangalore is a well-developed city with a nice young crowd and happening hang-out places. Foremost among its qualities is however is its amazing weather, Mediterranean-like the year round. In a way it typifies the Kannadigas: amiable and reliable.

For the sizeable population of IIMB that hailed from hot places like Bombay and Delhi, the weather was pure bliss. For a few slothful male students, the author being very much one of them, the absence of sweat presented 2 years of escape from the most arduous task that man has ever conceived- the daily bath.

Frankly, I had never really enjoyed bathing. Having being born with elaborate planning skills, I almost always stared down the clock showing 15 minutes for school to start, with me yet to get dressed. With my schedule heavily packed in every other way, I strived to fit my bathing somewhere in between. In the process, I created and subsequently bettered several world records for the fastest legitimate bath (Legitimate implying the involvement of some quantity of water, and not necessarily of any kind of soap). I did make an effort to start liking bathroom singing, but at that speed, rapping was the only genre I managed to master.

What perhaps annoyed me most about a bath was its purpose, especially on holidays. (The argument just grew stronger after I discovered the existence of deodorants.) Some wise friend then drew my attention to a recent research by some MIT PhDs: women seemed to be attracted very strongly towards male body odour! It was a breakthrough study, its significance heightened considering their last major finding was that male rats blinked 320 times between the times of 12 am to 2 am. I immediately applied the concept to my dealings with the opposite sex. The results were as lacklustre as before, but my belief in the strategy remained intact- my casanova looks had probably never allowed it to be put to use.

Which gives you an indication of the elation that I experienced on reaching Bangalore. And I was, by no means, alone. It was especially a pretty sight during tests, dishevelled students turning up in dirty clothes and scratchy hair. The guys' hostel had an official capacity of 300 but in reality was populated with millions- ants, bacteria, rats and even fungi lived together in peaceful symbiotic harmony. Some like my dear friend Aman took it upon themselves to create mini-worlds of their own- the moss discovered in his room in the 1st year fetched more press coverage than the seniors' final placements. Changing rooms after the 1st year was an emotional process, not for the students but for the cleaners.

Understandably I revelled in the atmosphere. Days, weeks and months passed by with the soapcase lying ceremoniously on my window sill. The only parameter used to decide whether to take a bath or not was the ability to stand one's own stench. However, just like a criminal hardens enough to beat the lie-detector, Aman had gone beyond that too. But somehow the experience taught me how to respect the bath. It DID feel nice after having one.

Human behavior has an amazing ability to adapt itself to the changing environment. Flustered with the deplorable levels of hygiene on campus, the clean guys came up with the solution: they decided to beat us at our game, to subject us to such a level of dirtiness that we would throw in the towel, literally. And thus was born the Birthday Hoosh.

Traditionally limited to a spanking of one's posterior, the Birthday Hoosh was ingeniously adapted to include a variety of food items being imparted to every part of the victim's body except his mouth. Despite the fact that the offerings were washed down with an ample quantity of water (which, by the way, constitutes a legitimate bath), the presence of egg and cream left the victim high and dry, and having to take a bath. The move worked, and IIMB soon started witnessing an increased usage of toilet soap.

However, soon, weak people like me found themselves being the wrong end of every complimentary hoosh, and the unkempt rebel within me was fast finding his voice. The proverbial last straw came in December 2004 when two of the women I was linked to celebrated their birthdays one after the other. If having a bath the first night seemed cruel, the thought of having another in the space of 24 hours pervaded me with an utter sense of guilt. Was I going to let all those months of hardwork go down the bathroom drain? No way. It was a determined me as I hurriedly washed the creamy cake off my face and took my books for the 1 am consulting prep meeting with Sudha.

Mention must be awarded here to Sudha, who despite herself looking straight out of the pages of Dracula, was a stickler for cleanliness. I had a near-brush with her fury when she first unilaterally decided to, and later refused because I hadnt taken a bath, to tie me a rakhi. (Looking back, that was a nice escape.) Sudha had drawn a laxman-rekha just inside the door, beyond which no shoes or dirty feet (except her own) could transgress. If you dared to break that rule, an irritating alarm was ready to go off- usually Sudha herself did the honours. It was in such trying circumstances that I arrived at her door that fateful December night.

My initial skeptism about my unbathed state slowly gave way to confidence- the washed face and the deodorant were doing the trick. Soon we were in the midst of a heavy discussion, and as was our wont, it turned into a heavily-debated one. Not ready to cave in, I defended my idea vociferously in my usual hands-all-over-the-place style. And then it happened. As I agitatedly lunged forward to protest against Sudha's comment, a thick blob of cake disloged itself from the recesses of my ear, wobbling in its trajectory as it landed straight into Sudha's lap.

There was a momentary silence as I made an emergency prayer to God to somehow ensure she wouldnt notice it. God refused to help, probably he himself was pretty disgusted with the sight. And then Sudha erupted, her scream carrying the mixed emotions of recognizition, disgust and utter hatred. Terrified, I ran back to my room to sleep behind bolted doors. We never had a case meeting again.


Sharmili said...

hehehehehe... hilarious :))))))) i can actually imagine sudha's reaction..... and strongly second the thot of everyday bath being a senseless waste of time :)))))))))

Sharmili said...

hehehehehe... hilarious :))))))) i can actually imagine sudha's reaction..... and strongly second the thot of everyday bath being a senseless waste of time :)))))))))

Arun said...

totally hilarious!! you were great at it!(i.e. washing dirty linen..) :))