Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ritanjan's tale

This is a true story.

This is as true as the greatest story ever untold - the one that resides peacefully in Manmohan Singh's heart.

This is a story about Ritanjan. It also involves a lot of animals, but we will come to that later.

Ritanjan is a PhD in Development Studies (don't ask!) from the London School of Economics, which probably means that his level of enlightenment is on a different plane than mine. It also almost certainly means that he lives in England, which he does.

However, his academic pursuits are not the only aspects of life that sets Ritanjan apart from lesser mortals like us. He loves walking on trails, which is a passion as obscure to me as eating Rubik's cubes is; more so, since the guy had been a student of Patha Bhavan (without any doubt the greatest school the world has ever seen), and is an ardent follower of cricket (and a passionate player as well, taking leagues by the storm all over England).

So, off they went, the two of them, Ritanjan and his backpack. It was a rare sunny day in England (well, I assume it was a sunny day, since it makes a good story). They took the South Downs Way, one of the largest national trails in England (with Ritanjan everything is kingsize; that's the kind of person he is - had he been in India, Gold Flake would probably have made him their brand ambassador).

Of course, he wasn't walking the whole trail. He started off from a small town called Petersfield, and walked the rest of the trail. He walked and walked, and then walked some more (that's all you do when you go on trails: it's Ritanjan's idea of fun; London School of Economics PhDs belong to a different planet altogether).

He walked upto a village called Buriton. Note the way he went in a direction exact opposite that of human civilisation - London, Petersfield, and then Buriton. Given a chance he would probably have been living in a cave by now.

(For a vivid, very detailed description of the route from Petersfield to Buriton, click here.)

***

So far, so good. Our hero eventually went out on the much-awaited trail - that would take him from Buriton to further west - towards Winchester. Of course, it's not exactly obvious for people in the Western World to go further west, but that's another story. We won't deviate.

Ritanjan, immersed in the mesmerisingly picturesque mystique of the English countryside, soon came across a field. It looked like a rather nonchalant stretch of greenery, surrounded by ominous-looking fences across its perimeter. Inside the field were about eighty cows, grazing on the fresh grass in the same leisurely manner that cows have done in the history of cattlekind.

There may have been a few oxen among the lot, though, but Ritanjan wasn't one to stoop low enough (literally) to classify the cattle by gender. He is destined for greater things.

Anyway, he knew that the field was a shortcut to his destination, and decided to leave his footmarks on the expanse of lush greenery. He walked and he walked, for that is what people are supposed to do on this mysterious hobby that goes by the name of 'walking trails'.

***

Now, Ritanjan, despite his academic conquests, is a rather simple person at heart. As his trekking shoes made their way across the uninterrupted greenery, he did not notice that about half a dozen cows had distanced themselves from him, and were slowly forming a semicircle around him.

It took him some time to realise that there was something wrong. Cattle weren't supposed to go on a semicircular formation around human beings. Being an extremely intelligent and educated person, he also realised that there could be only one reason for them to act in such a non-bovine fashion.

Being the athletic person that he is, he turned around, and ran back as fast as he could towards the fence. He could hear the tale-tell sound of twenty-four or so hoofs thundering on the soft earth behind him and closing on to him as he managed to jump the fence just in the nick of time.

He decided to give it another shot. Mustering as much stealth as a PhD can under these circumstances, he crossed the fence yet again, possibly with the unrealistic hope of making a dash for it and reaching his destination.

Much to his dismay, the entire barricade of eighty-odd cows, now arranged in a neat, linear formation, took this attempt rather personally, and sped towards Ritanjan, as if marshalled by some invisible CowLord. He was ready this time, and turning a full one-hundred-and-eighty-degrees, he made it to the fence, this time rather comfortably, and panted on the other side of it, utterly defeated.

To his credit, Ritanjan acted like a true hero, and did not panic. Once he got over the initial shock, he did something that brought out the macho image of the man more than anything else: he made frantic calls to his friends, one by one, asking them the same question - predictable, given his situation, but a first for his hapless friends - "do you know how to dissuade, distract, or dissipate a battalion of cows?"

Unfortunately, none of them could come to his help. Meanwhile, the cows had retreated by a few yards; on the other hand, the eighty-odd cows had moved closer to the fence to have a closer look at this seemingly harmless alien.


***

What next? Ritanjan had to cross the field in order to pursue his trail (which, as we have mentioned before, held a larger-than-life significance to him). There was another route somewhere, but it was probably a convoluted, lengthy, and obscure one - and there was no assurance that there won't be any cattle on the alternative route.

He sat, confused, worn out, and devastated. He was soon overcome by hunger, thirst, and the sheer frustration of not being able to go on with the trail - the thing that meant possibly the world to him. These were not your typical rickety Indian cows. The Jersey Cows were larger, stronger, meaner, and looked like they meant business.

He waited for what felt like hours. Though it was rather early in the morning, he was so exhausted that it seemed that it was closed to sunset. He had forgotten, it seems, that The Sun never sets in the proud British Empire.

And then, along came a man, with the two creatures that made him a bonafide British - his wife and a dog. The dog was small one, possibly a chihuahua. Chihuahuas, as we all know, are possibly the most overhyped creatures in the world - even more than Amish Tripathi and Aishwariya Rai put together.

The man, possibly more British than a steaming cup of Earl Grey, asked Ritanjan the same question they often used to ask leading men in Bengali movies of the 1960s: "any problem, young man?"

Ritanjan, hoping to clutch on to the family of three in the same way that a Tata Docomo user does to the minuscule indication of the availability of a tower, poured out the details of his exasperation to the threesome.

The man nodded with a stiff upper lip.

The woman was surprised, and exclaimed "but cows are the most peaceful animals!"

The chihuahua kept quiet. Chihuahuas typically keep quiet during important discussions.

Ritanjan responded "till about half an hour ago I'd have agreed with you heart and soul". It was clearly evident that he had regained some of his composure, and had eventually got a grip on the time elapsed.

The couple assured Ritanjan, and offered to walk him across the field. The chihuahua, as before, kept silent, sticking to the policy chihuahuas have stuck to over centuries. Ritanjan accepted their brave offer somewhat reluctantly, the skepticism evident in his voice.

***

So off they went, the four of them. The very British man, his very British wife, the very bright scholar, and the very useless dog. Together they dared to challenge what few groups of four have been brave enough to do in the history of the third planet in the Solar System - take on a gang of eighty cows.

The grass, lush with the anticipation of an unmatched, gory confrontation, greeted them with the aroma of now-fading dew. The cows, watching them in rapt attention, formed a file yet again. Their intention was clear.

Ritanjan's throat dried. He tried to speak, but not a single word left his parched throat. The Briton and his wife didn't utter a word either.

But the chihuahua did. It barked. Twice.

There was silence. An absolute, numbing, pregnant silence. There would have been an audible sound even if a pin had been dropped. Unfortunately, Ritanjan does not rate pins too highly, and doesn't consider them a necessity while go on that grand hobby of his - which goes by the name of trail-walking.

They stood pinned to the spot, though.

And then, the unthinkable happened. The cows, petrified by the chihuahua's atrocious wails, retreated, keeping a safe distance from the Gang of Four. The foursome passed away, completely untouched of the awestruck herd that didn't dare to come any closer.

***

There is a small postscript, though. On reaching to the safe abode at the other end of the field, the woman told Ritanjan "This is how you tackle cows. They're rather meek creatures. I don't blame you, though - I'm sure you don't come from a country where you've seen a lot of cows."

***

PS: Other than the man himself, I guess I should acknowledge Bimbabati - the pocket-sized amazing talent who simply refuses to write - who was the first to narrate the story to me. Ritanjan, of course, helped me with the detailed information.

I could not find the man, his wife, their dog, or any of the cows for more details.

72 comments:

  1. As usual Ovshake, an incredible imagination and
    an engaging story which had us rolling in laughter. Kono Kotha Hobey na Dada.:D :D :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is NOT an imaginary story!

      Ritanjan Das, PhD, Development Science is very much a real person, and the story is 100% real as well!

      Delete
  2. On second thoughts,it would have surely helped to identify the gender of the cattle class.

    Dhari

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course. It's just that the situation did not permit our hero to do so.

      Delete
  3. A couple of questions:-
    1) Did Mr Ritanjan purchase this post by being the highest contributor to your personal book fund?
    2) Er..ahem..hmm..is Mr R one resembling the cattlekind ,physically speaking?
    3) Was he wearing anything red? Like a fez hat or something while ambling through the meadow?
    4) Was chuihahaha's name Sherdil?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. No, he hasn't paid anything (I sincerely hope he does, though, given his kind heart)
      2. No. Ritanjan is as handsome as they make them.
      3. This is a common misconception. Cattle get to see only black-and-white.
      4. I am not aware of this.

      Delete
  4. Ignore him.Phoren returned usually talk tall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot. He is too good and honest a person to talk tall.

      On that note, I'm a Phoren-returned person myself, hence...

      Delete
    2. I do at times, but not on this occasion. :)

      Delete
  5. ah,i have better things to do than solve this bovine mystery.
    Karmic bondage prehaps,what else?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bovine mysteries rock. Solving them gives me a great kick. I'm surprised that it doesn't hold for you.

      Delete
    2. If you are alluding to suagata's incident,i would like to point out that was an isolated incident.

      whatt kick sir?

      Delete
    3. Ah, it's nice to learn that Saugata's incident is still remembered.

      This is an intellectual kick. I love most things related to a cow.

      Delete
    4. what wrong have cats and dogs done? be their messiah too.
      Why only cows?

      Delete
    5. Cows have deep eyes, suave movements, sexy tails, ambrosian milk, and delicious meat. Hence.

      Delete

    6. have you tasted cow's meat?
      is it same as beef?

      Delete
    7. is there a subtext?
      you know that cow is also a symbol of taurus sun sign?


      Delete
    8. Yes, it is the same as beef, and distinctly different from buffalo meat.

      Delete
    9. To answer your other question, I have zero knowledge on zodiac signs.

      Delete
  6. I can't tell you how happy i am on our hero shattering the stereotype.
    Land of cows and snakes and elephants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. That's one of the thoughts that went through my mind when I first heard this.

      Delete
  7. A few things.

    (1) The end line was funny :).

    (2) The stooping low enough to determine the gender reminds me of a joke I'd heard:

    Did you hear about the midget who got pickpocketed?

    I never imagined anyone could stoop so low.

    (3) "Pin"ned to the spot - phenomenal :).

    (4) Finally, while on cows in pastures - I hope you've seen the three videos (#1, 2, 11) here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/newhot5

    What a fun story, by the way - that it is true is curiouser and curiouser!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 2. I haven't heard of the joke - but what a coincidence.
      4. :D

      Delete
  8. That was some story. I liked the narration better. Hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It could be that the milk-white cows were curious about the brawny man.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dr Das's harrowing story holds important lesons for the rest of humanity. How harrowing I know only too well, being one of those useless friends he turned to for help on that morning whilst taking refuge behind the bushes. .. his voice told it all. ..
    1. Never ever underestimate the divine bovine of this world
    2. A Dog is indeed a man's best friend
    There is a caveat to the story though.
    Dr Das learnt Lesson 1 only to well. However to this day, Dr Das refuses to accept Lesson 2 and steers clear of both mamalian families.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dr Das is an amazing personality. I'm sure he has his own reasons to avoid canines the way he avoids bovines.

      Had I been Dr Das, though, I'd have had a large steak immediately after the incident.

      Delete
    2. That he is! Don't know if he had one immediately afterwards, but I am sure every steak that was munched upon by Dr Das since that day meant that little bit more...

      By the way, this story deserved to be told and you have done a great job. Having been directed here by the man himself, I shall follow Abhishek's Blog from now on...

      Delete
    3. Of course steaks have meant that little bit extra to him from that day.

      Dr Das, as both of us know, is an excellent person. He seems an even better person right now, given that he has earned me a new follower.

      Delete
  11. This is a kind of story that was handed down from one generation to another and by the time it was finally documented by a credulous bloke on a blog of decent readership,had terribly blown out of proportion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I repeat, this is a true incident. The friends Dr Das had called that fateful morning have unfortunately reduced the incident to a dinner joke.

      Delete
  12. Now you'll say i'm nit-picking,but why have you mentioned more than four times that the man is a PhD? What difference does his academic qualifications make?
    You could have used expressions like the cow chasee,the man who outran the cows or other such funny epithets.Maybe in your view,the cows should have given way prostrating before man's PhD status or that you silently enjoyed the PhDian's chicken run.No?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've got me wrong. I've got an immense amount of respect for PhDs. They're like the Gods of academics, and exist on a different plane altogether.

      My repetitive usage of the word probably has to do with my immense awe towards the person and his degree involved.

      Moral of the story: PhDs rock. British bovines don't.

      Delete
    2. I thought as much.
      Honestly Abhishek,you have a wrong perception and lost a bit of my respect by writing what i had suspected all along.Why hold PhDs in great reverence?
      Many of the PhDs have an inflated ego and sensitivity is often an ingredient deficient in them.
      I know it's been a long lost dream of yours but i wish you respected people for their true selves than their coveted academic labels.I like you more than the conceited PhDs i've met.
      Let Mr Das be an exception than the norm.Okay?
      And don't pursue PhD.
      I like you the way you are.

      Delete
    3. You don't get it. Dr Das is not a conceited PhD with an inflated ego. He's a nice person.

      But PhDs are simply too cool. They rule.

      Of course I respect people more for their true selves. But here we're discussing someone who meets both conditions.

      Delete
    4. Just because cows cannot do phd does not mean they are not smart.They give milk.Can your friend do that?

      Delete
    5. Approximately 50% of the world's mammal population can give milk after a certain point of time in their lives. What does it have to do with smartness? :O

      Delete
    6. Heh heh..you missed my point. :D

      Delete
    7. That is expected. I'm not a PhD, and nor will I give milk at any point of time.

      Delete
    8. Hahahahaha...holly molly exactly!
      :D

      Delete
    9. Yes, holly molly indeed. Or almost holly molly.

      Delete
  13. One of you Best and believe me that's a very tough call I am making from your brilliant collection of stories!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, but this is an entirely true incident. It is not a part of my brilliant (or otherwise) collection of stories.

      Delete
    2. When I wrote collection of stories, I meant the true stories only, like the one with your friend and Delhi Sabjiwala!! :-)

      Delete
    3. I get what you mean. As for Saugata, he will make an appearance on my blog pretty soon.

      Delete
  14. i simply started laughing in office :D not because of ritanjanda's plight, but your gem of a piece too :)
    --- parama, another ex patha bhavan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So this is what the world has come to, Parama? Patha Bhavan students laughing at their ex-schoolmates? Sigh.

      On a lighter note, I've noticed that you do not use capital letters outside smileys. Just a curious observation - I'm sure you have your reasons.

      Delete
  15. Brilliantly painted plight of a mad man!however,I personally found the piece a bit stretchy, slowing down the pace unlike the bovine lot!As for Dr Das, wishing you more hilarious incidents in your italy trip! Thank you for breaking the stereotype of our land being the land of cows anyway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dr Das' tales are supposed to be stretchy. He is a cricket fan, remember? Both of us like them slow-paced.

      Delete
  16. Humorous narrative.More interesting are the comments.

    ~ Anusha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to my blog, Anusha. Yes, I have always found the comments on my blog interesting. I hope you'll add to them in future.

      Delete
  17. Bouncer - this one. Was it supposed to be funny or a satire? or something colloqial?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it's an absolutely honest confession. It is because of Dr Das that I've earned you as a new follower, isn't it?

      Delete
  18. 1. The second paragraph is awesome!
    2. If walking trails sounds like a strange hobby to you, it is because you have not had the opportunity to get acquainted with it.
    3. As hilarious as this story is, it fails to make me a fan of Chihuahuas. I cannot figure out why people keep these dogs as pets. Fortunately, in Kolkata no one used to have these. As you can see, I am quite opinionated when it comes to dogs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 2. Any hobby that involves being outdoor is strange to me.
      3. Chihuahuas should be banned from the surface of Earth whatsoever. They should all be sent to space on the next spaceship available.

      Delete
    2. I thought you an ally of small animals; turtles,ants,angry birds et all.Why this bias against small dogs?
      Wait...Paris hilton?

      Delete
    3. 1. I am not biased against small dogs in general. Chihuahuas are (a) overhyped, (b) bark without a reason, and in a very irritating manner, (c) inadequate as meat.
      2. I don't know what you mean when you say Paris Hilton. Does she own a chihuahua?

      Delete
  19. a) size does NOT matter.Period.
    b) How can you be so sure? Do you understand its bark,my pedantic man? And you claim be a potter afficionado?
    c) Grrr.Where's...where's PETA?

    Yes,that B** owns one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. a) Size does not matter in most aspects of life, I agree with you on that.
      b) Do you think it's a coincidence that Rowling's world didn't involve a chihuahua?
      c) Ever tried nasi goreng?

      What's a b**? Do you mean a b****?

      Delete
  20. b) It's neither about Rowling nor 'bout the midget dog.It's about the feelings of these poor small animals.
    c) Ever tried baba ganoush? It's tastier.

    Yes,i meant very much that.I trust you enough to know about the animal kingdom and expletives to be able to fill in the gaps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. b) Chihuahuas are NOT poor. If anything, they have the highest maintenance/utility ratio in the whole world.

      Delete
    2. Since you are an atheist,you might become a chihuahua in the next birth. I'll bring you home and give you lotsa love.
      No dog is born rich.

      Delete
    3. Will you stop uttering that C-word? X(

      Delete
    4. Never mind. Just don't use the word again.

      Delete
  21. asadharan galpa | pore khub bhalo laglo |

    ReplyDelete

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