pull my finger

today afternoon, shweta, my colleague at the college where i teach, shoved her fist in my direction out of nowhere! after the initial bewilderment and getting my startled senses back, i asked her what was that for. she gestured to a band she was wearing on her wrist. it looked like one of those cheapskate ‘live strong’ bands people wear, except that this one had a black rectangle attached to it. i went ahead to touch it, but immediately took my hand back as i saw a bit of steel glint from under the rubber casing.

“oh! am i going to get a shock? i’ve seen things like this before. forget it; i’m not touching it!”

“no no! go ahead. open it.”

and the thing turned out to be a usb drive! some of her friends had been to the kyooruis design yatra 2009, and the thingy was one of the freebies they got there.

after the discussion about the yatra was done, shweta said, “isn’t it sad that people don’t play pranks anymore?”

and to tell the truth, it hit me! real good. it is such a simple fact of life, isn’t it? why has playing pranks become so rare? no one does it much often. there are no more of those shocker rings, coloured water that disappears in seconds, making fart sounds when people sit, tripping friends by stepping on their footwear from behind…

i’ d been to mussoorie few years back as part of a himalayan trek. there was this fabulous shop where i bought a knife (which got stolen). the shop sold all sorts of magic kits for kids. everything! masks, scarves, boxes upon boxes of cheap plastic things which would make things disappear, many of those shocker rings and brooches that squirted water, all sorts of nonsense!

what happened? has everyone just grown up, leaving all silliness behind in the name of maturity? or have people started worrying too much about what others might think?

i remember times when friends used to empty toothpaste tubes on their unsuspecting, sleeping mates (me being one of the sleepers), schoolboy stuff like keeping compass boxes or tiffin boxes under someone who got up to answer a question, bringing cockroaches and grasshoppers in class to cause immediate and deliberate pandemonium, changing passwords of mail ids and watching them squirm in pain…all that for a few laughs at the cost of others. there was no malice in these pranks. we always made friends with the prankee once the laughs died out.

now, maybe they take things too seriously or personally, or they are too busy messing up their heads with those bloody reality shows to think of something better to do; something more devious, laced with a bit of madness.

i guess we have lost the madness. and with it has disappeared the innocence of writhing in laughter as we watched a friend wince, courtesy a minor shock deftly delivered by way of that ridiculous-looking ring.


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