In my many years of country hopping, I have crossed paths with any number of crazies.  Some who would effortlessly drive anyone up the wall and others whom one could not help but love.  In that latter category the one who, in my book, has to be placed way up there at the very top of my personal, which is by no means small, pyramid is Ranjit Kuruvilla.  A gentleman who, not once but many times over, proved himself to be as nutty as the fruitiest of fruitcakes.

His overdrive (and one can read any meaning into that) on many fronts resulted in him, sadly and very prematurely, handing over his dinner pail years ago. While he’s gone, probably making a nuisance of himself wherever it is that he’s gone to, my memories of Ranjit are as full of life as he used to be when he was around, kicking up a storm and working hard at very consciously (I believe it was that) trying to prove his craziness to all and sundry.

Clipboard01Following our relocation to Coonoor, the Coonoor Club became our home away from home.  In a hurry to start growing roots in what was at that point of time (sadly not so any longer) a lovely overgrown village, come what may, every single Saturday we would wend our way there to meet and interact (always at the bar) with other folk.  All simple down to earth people with whom we quickly began to build a rapport.  And then we had the larger-than-life Mr. Kuruvilla, who was anything but simple or down to earth, breeze into our lives.

I do, at times, sit back and wonder as to what was it that drew the two of us to each other.  Could it have been that we were polar opposites?  While one will never know, the fact is that we did become close friends.

Whenever he was in town, leaving from the club to head back home, regardless of how late in the night it may have been, was never an option.  In his book it was de rigueur that the ‘evening’ end in his palatial house and only when everyone there was as pickled as was he.

Against all ‘sensible’ advice from all and sundry, in July 2009 in the midst of the usualClipboard01 (read that as buckets of water) Nilgiri Monsoon, just as soon as our “Thikana” was completed (it being another matter altogether that even 3 months later we were still trying to get the workmen to just please get out) we moved in.  At that point of time, the steep slope down to the house being an unpaved dirt road which the incessant rain had converted into a ski slope, ended up in a flat piece of ground which months later would become our backyard lawn but was, at that time, nothing more than a bog full of soft cloying soil.

On the very evening of the day, we moved into our house I got a call from Ranjit to inform me that he was going to be dropping in for a drink and that could we please keep the gate open.  Being told that, let alone a gate, we had no road and fencing or compound wall around the newly built house, in response he only blurted out a quick ‘okay’!  Half an hour later seeing the lights of a vehicle careening down that apology of a road, we opened the door to the patio veranda to see that idiots fancy Mercedes slide into the backyard, at some point of time to be called a lawn.  As we looked on, the four tyres of the car started to ever so slowly sink into the bog. After the car had settled down on the chassis, the door opened to allow this heavyset human being to step out, which he did to immediately also sink into the slush to halfway up his calves. Having managed to extricate himself from the ‘bog’ which was trying to suck him in and trailing gooey clay all over the still to be finished floor, the gentleman walked in armed with a bottle of the finest and his pronouncement that he had come to bless (he loved using the word) our new home.  While seething looking at that trail of thick muck which he so nonchalantly was depositing all over the sitting room floor, faced with that beatific smile plastered across his mug, it was just simply not possible to tell Mr. Kuruvilla what he needed to be told, that he was a moron of the highest order.

How his driver ever managed to unclog that lovely vehicle from out of miniature swap, only that fellow knows, though what I did learn later was that the car ended up in a workshop and stayed there for a goodish period of time.

Clipboard03Fast forward to when Manik, our friend Rohit Nath’s son got engaged to his childhood sweetheart Mehar.  While the youngster and his friends were partying late into the night, at 3 a.m. the mad-hatter, wannabe Don Corleone, called to say that he was going to be dropping in to ‘bless’ Manik (once again that dangerous word which implied ‘duck – the manic is here‘).  Drop in he did!  Driving into their gate after having terrorized the watchman, in his vintage World War II Willeys Jeep.  Replete in full American army attire topped up with a Gen George Patton helmet emblazoned with 3 stars and with three ‘soldiers’ (one of his two sons and two hapless nephews) riding shotgun (literally) in the back seat.  All three dressed to the hilt in authentic GI uniforms, duly armed and while probably feeling idiotic, but obviously not having the guts and more likely than not probably fearing a ‘court martial’ (he being quite capable of enacting that drama) to tell the ‘General’ that he could go suck an egg.

Alighting from the jeep and marching in with his three-man platoon in two, Ranjit plonked himself on the settee with the inducted members of his squad at attention behind him.  Any slouch was admonished with a stern and very serious “stand erect, you’re a GI in the US army”.  An order which led to the innocent and fed-up-to-his-teeth draftee immediately pulling back and straightening his sagging shoulders.Clipboard02

Was told later that he did not leave the house till the ‘blessing’ was duly administered and not until copious volumes of ‘holy water’ had ended up sloshing around in Ranjit’s ample sized belly.

  • Larger than life – Most certainly.
  • Lovable – Oh yes!
  • Crazy as a coot – Of the certifiable variety!

His escapades demand more than just a ‘mention in despatches’.  Await the next!