There being no way that Mr Kuruvilla’s persona and crazy capers could be encapsulated into just one post, I did end my last blog post with a ‘…. escapades demand more than just a mention in dispatches’ and that there would be a sequel to that.  Well, here you have it.

On our relocation from Sri Lanka to India, it was Cochin that we had moved to.  A series of coincidences, lovely ones I may add, having come into play, Cochin ended up as a temporary 5 month-long sojourn.  More like a launch pad which propelled us to what is now our permanent abode up in the hills – ‘Thikana’.

This having been arranged in advance before the relocation from SL, within a couple of days of our arrival in Cochin, I took delivery of a Mahindra Scorpio.  The vehicle obviously came with a Kerala registration.  Which fact sets the foundation for what was to follow a la Ranjit.  So now I’m fast forwarding to 2011, by which time we were well settled, up in the hills.  Which is also when, the Scorpio having served us well for 6 years, I decided that now would be the right time to replace that with a new vehicle.

23DCB4~1This not having been anticipated when we had bought the vehicle in Cochin, the sale of the Scorpio became a major sticking point.  The vehicle having a “KL” number plate, the car agency in Coimbatore as also independent brokers I contacted, all sang the same tune, offering me nothing more than peanuts for a perfectly good vehicle in excellent condition.  The standard refrain being that for me to realize the actual value, I would have to obtain an N.O.C. from the authorities where I had purchased the car, or that I should sell the car somewhere in Kerala.  The first option meant that I would have to drive down to Cochin, camp there for the 4/5 days it would take me to wade through the bureaucratic red tape which I knew I’d encounter and then drive back to Coimbatore to do the deal.  Not quite an alternative which had me jumping up and down with joy.  While mulling over this and having happened to mention this quandary to Ranjit during one of our many evenings in his house, his answer had been a no-nonsense “Da, just drive down to Thrissur and leave the rest to me. I’ll have your matter sorted out within a day”.  For the ignorant lot, Thrissur is also in Kerala.

Taking the big man at his word, co-opting Madhav as the second driver, on the day itIMG_3598 was to be handed over to me, we drove down to Coimbatore to take delivery of the new set of wheels which had been booked.  That having been taken care of, the two of us drove on in two vehicles arriving at the Kuruvilla mansion in Thrissur just a little post lunch.  Having been bestowed with his customary Don Corlone bear-hug and that yucky wet peck on my cheek and with him having once again shrugged off my protestations on this disgusting habit of his with his usual disdainful and nonchalant “Da, you know that this show of affection is reserved for only my very close friends”, Madhav and I were shown to the guest bedroom.

We had just about settled in when Ranjit had his Man Friday knock on the door to tell me that ‘Master’ was waiting for me in the porch.  Walking across I found Ranjit in conversation with two burly gentlemen whom he introduced to me with a “They’re the buyers of your Scorpio”.  One of the two ‘burlies’ requesting me for the key so that he could check out the vehicle, was admonished with a “Thambi, just sign the transfer document and give Mr Khanna the cheque”!  And that was IT!  Having seen folk who take more time with long stretches of humming & hawing when buying a shirt or even a Kg of Mangos, I was gob smacked (an understatement) at the way this transaction had been done and dusted in a trice.

Having seen off my Scorpio and the two burlies, not allowing us to deviate in any other direction, our host guided Madhav and me directly to his bar.  And that is where we remained rooted through the evening which stretched on and on and on.  Ranjit being a post doctorate in elbow-bending exercises which he had refined to an art form, one could see that the level of the contents of bottle which he was attacking with a single-minded intent was dropping at an alarmingly rapid pace.  In the time I had worked my way through two ‘Ranjit sized’ large Rums which he had insisted on pouring for me, my friend had waded through way more than that.  Having done his duty as a host with the first two, I had thankfully been left to pour out my own drink.

Living as he was in a world of his own creation, Ranjit’s totally warped logic, which gem of wisdom he had shared with me many times in the past, was that in his opinion the measure of a person’s self-respect was his/her ability to down copious volumes of whatever be the poison which was to one’s liking.  Following the initial crazy sized ones which he had insisted on pouring and not wanting to burst the bubble of his irrational belief, to keep pace with his quaffing, the volume of alcohol in the drinks I was pouring myself kept getting smaller and smaller while the water topping up the glass went in the inverse direction.  In the meantime, Madhav having had a beer which he had followed up with a Coke, excused himself to say that he was going to bed.  No sooner had the bedroom door closed behind my son that Ranjit’s twisted logic came to the fore with “See!  No self-respect.  He doesn’t know how to drink”.

IMG_3600The evening having long before merged itself into night, at precisely midnight, reeling just a wee bit, Ranjit walked across to the table on which he had left his leather pouch (an accessory which was his constant companion), unzipped it to pull out his revolver.  Releasing the safety catch and swaying a bit, wondering at where this was leading and following him at a safe distance, we marched into the large atrium in the heart of his house.  Positioning himself in the center of that courtyard, my friend pointed the barrel skywards and pulled the trigger thrice.  Pleased as punch with his self-assumed bravado, as he turned around to head back to the immediate task at hand which he had interrupted to try and puncture the moon, to my question as why I had been witness to this obviously senseless act, “Everyone in this town believes me to be a mad Englishman.  To prove them right, every night that I here am in Thrissur, I let off three shots.  Keeps everyone on their toes so that no one dares to so much as bother me”!  Insane beyond redemption.

By 4 o’clock, fighting to keep my eyes from closing and having even given up on the pretense of matching Mr Kuruvilla drink for drink, with him having become oblivious to the fact that my glass was sitting idle on the table, I suddenly heard a loud snore.  That was followed by Ranjit slipping off his chair to lie sprawled on the floor.  Fast asleep!  Having tried, unsuccessfully – should that need to be said, to awaken the gentleman from his slumber, I called out to his Man Friday to help me get his boss to the bedroom.  The dead weight being impossible for just the two of us to handle, we had to induct the services of his watchman and Madhav.  In the awkward lifting and handling of this rather generous bulk, his lungi having got caught in the foot of one or the other of the four lifters and with his crown jewels hanging loose, we finally managed to get him tucked into his bed.

For me, Thrissur being enroute and not very far from Cochin, in parallel to finalizing the car sale plan with Ranjit, I had also arranged a meeting with one of my suppliers in Cochin for the day after.  The meeting having been confirmed for 9 o’clock, I had planned to leave Ranjit’s place by 6.30.

Bottom line being that no sooner had we left sleeping beauty in his bed snoring raucously, both Madhav and I rushed across to the bedroom we were sharing to catch at least a couple of hours of sleep.  The two of us exhausted by the long day which had been compounded manifold by the recent drama in which we had been supporting actors, hopping on to either side of the large 4-poster bed the room was furnished with, in a trice both of us were dead to the world.

It couldn’t have been more than half an hour later that I was woken up by this very loud knocking on the bedroom door.  This was immediately followed by the door being flung open to frame a stone-cold-sober Ranjit Kuruvilla.  Here was this gentleman whom we had deposited on his bed, dead to the world not more than half an hour ago, now standing upright and grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat.  From the door and before stepping into the room, in his usual loud voice, the crazy coot tells me to move over as he plans to sleep between Madhav and me.  I followed up on my loud “bugger off”, by hopping out of bed and rushing across the room to make sure Ranjit didn’t march in any further.  Having literally pushed him out, I immediately bolted the door from inside.

An hour later Madhav and I, both bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, were in the car heading off to Cochin.

At around 3 o’clock while we were driving back home, I got a call from Sanjay Pothen who in between loud chortles wanted to know what I (yes, me!) had done to his brother-in-law?  Told me that he had been trying to call Ranjit since noon and that only about now, a few minutes before he had called me, had Ranjit picked up the phone to tell Sanjay “That crazy man Indi, drinks like a bloody fish and managed to get me also drunk”!  How could I possibly react any other way, except to laugh out loud and long.

Mad as a hatter but with a heart of gold!

It’s always the good folk who hand in their dinner pails at a relatively younger age.  As did Ranjit.  Must be somewhere up there, trying to convince whosoever angel may be at his side that his/her self-respect would be measured by his/her ability to keep pace with Ranjit!IMG_3602