In article <32mrcg$> (icarus) writes:
>Anyway, I think Ramesh and Dorai Sitaram are the best writers
>I have read on sci. Ramesh is prolific. Dorai's House of Mirrors
>nearly outdid Eco Umberto's Name of The Rose.
>I still remember reading about Ajay P. who ironed his
>underwear on the day the Berlin Wall fell, and who tells
>the girl who tries to kiss him in a dark movie hall: "Im
>not that kind of guy."

The article was written by Narayana Sriranga Raja and is appended for your re-reading.

-- Rangaswamy

A Rose For Palvayantheeswaran

by Narayana Sriranga Rao
This story is dedicated, with admiration, to Ramesh Mahadevan.
-- Narayan Raja

"DisGUSTing!" mutters Ramesh, but without much conviction. After all, he's almost getting used to little snips of moustache floating in his tea. Palvayanteeswaran shaves on Saturdays, leaving the bathroom door open without fail, and usually finishes up, with many grimaces, by carefully trimming the hair in his nostrils. On such occasions he takes a little water in any mug that is handy and uses it to moisten the tip of his scissors between snips, casually rinsing the mug afterwards. It used to madden Ramesh, but no longer. When Palvayanteeswaran first moved in, fresh from India, coffee mugs had a habit of being found in the bathroom suspiciously often, and Ramesh more than suspected him of indulging an Indian's natural distaste for paper at the expense of irredeemably defiling the drinking utensils. "My grandfather used to say that nothing purifies like water", Palvayanteeswaran had said defensively when confronted. And later, "Do you know that Ganges water destroys germs? Scientists have proved it."

Not surprising, then, that Ramesh nowadays lets mere whiskers pass unremarked, especially when it is Palvayanteeswaran who has made the tea. They both prefer coffee, but that special stock of Peaberry from Ramesh's uncle's recent trip to India is all gone. Palvayanteeswaran's friends ( a pack of louts) will drink no other. They are connoisseurs of good South Indian coffee. Today Palvayanteeswaran is up early. He has been scurrying round the house since nine. "Ramesh, can I borrow your iron?" "A pressing appointment" Ramesh jokes. Palvayanteeswaran bustles about, irons his clothes (putting a sharp crease in his jeans), has a bath. "Palvayanteeswaran, why do you iron your underwear?" "I always do". You idiot, I know it. The question is, why? thinks Ramesh.

Someone at the door. It is Palvayanteeswaran's crude friend Rajiv, Mr. Macho himself. They both arrived in Fall and are taking a lot of courses together. "GOOD MORNING, HOW ARE YOU?" he says, playfully poking at Ramesh's newspaper. Ramesh hates it when loud-voiced visitors arrive early on Saturday mornings and prod with thick fingers at his newspaper. Why does this Rajiv always talk in capitals? Now he has picked up some pages. "LAZY BUGGERS", he remarks, looking at the photographs. There is a sit-in in the Administration building. "Did you bother to see why they are protesting?" asks Ramesh sourly, "the campus is absolutely unsafe for women after dark". "IT'S STILL A MEN'S WORLD, HA HA", Rajiv smirks.

Rajiv is eager to tell them about the movie he saw yesterday. "YAAR, IT WAS CALLED "DO THE RIGHT THING". ALL THESE BLACKS BURN DOWN A PIZZA HUT" he says. Get it over with. "Did you like it or not?" "SO-SO. ONE GOOD CHICK". If you ever make a movie, thinks Ramesh, it will be called "Say the Wrong Thing". You never fail. Now Palvayanteeswaran is polishing his shoes. Rajiv notices the pile of ironed clothes. "KYA BAAT HAI! KISI KO LINE MAARTA HAI KYA?" "I'm supposed to teach someone statistics", says Palvayanteeswaran, not looking up. Silence. So you polish your shoes to discuss statistics? Iron your underwear? Don't give me that, Palvayanteeswaran. "It's this girl from my AI class", Palvayanteeswaran explains. "We are just friends". Silence. "Her name is Linda. She just wants to discuss the homework. Bayes rule". Yeah. A posteriori, thinks Ramesh lecherously, surprising himself. Am I becoming a Khushwant Singh in my old age? Palvayanteeswaran combs his hair. That hair oil is a mistake, Palvayanteeswaran. Too late. Now Rajiv has to go. There is an important program on the Playboy Channel. "SAALA, HEADS OR TAILS?" he leers. Palvayanteeswaran is leaving too.

Six in the evening, and Palvayanteeswaran is back. Looking gloomy, he rinses out a shampoo bottle and carefully puts a rose in it. Ramesh leaves him alone. "Tell me, Ramesh, what do Americans do when they go on a date?" Palvayanteeswaran finally asks. "They go dancing or to see a movie". "What sort of movie?" "Americans always go to horror movies with their girlfriends", explains Ramesh. "Simple. You tend to cuddle up more if you're watching "Nightmare on Elm Street"". Another silence. What's bothering the boy? Ramesh feels somehow responsible for him. "She wanted to kiss me!" says Palvayanteeswaran agitatedly at last. "I told her, I'm not that kind of person. She said I was sweet and bought me a rose". Even Ramesh is impressed. He makes tea for both of them. As the sky grows dark they sit together in silence, companionably watching TV. The news from Berlin is interesting. A momentous day. Palvayanteeswaran's first date.

Copyright Narayan Sriranga Raja.