Tuesday, June 13, 2006

King Uncle

Chandamama (a magazine you would buy for your kids in the hopes of making them pious individuals1) carried the story of the king and this ghost. It was very intriguing, partly because it was an interesting read and partly because the spirit (as in ghost and not vodka) in the book was illustrated to be scary & sophisticated. But Doordarshan, in their zeal to keep kids from getting petrified, made Vetaal look like a cross between a polar bear and Manpreet Brar2. It wasn’t as scary as seeing Manpreet Brar as a whole. Vikram aur Vetaal series gave my Sunday afternoons a completely different meaninglessness. One hour of self imposed torture. I actually loved to watch vetaal who spent too much time in the beauty parlour, but none at the dentist. King Vikramaditya was either under the influence of something very potent or he didn’t bribe the historians enough to portray him as an intelligent and capable king. Who in the right mind would spend half his life in the graveyard with a guy who loved cuticura powder and yellow eye shadow? Maybe he loved the vetaal stories as much as I did. Here’s a hilarious account3 of the series.

The reason for my post is not about recounting my experiences of enacting the whole Vikram aur Vetaal bit with my unsuspecting brother. I would drag him out of bed, sling him on my back and throw him to see if he flew. The ending to this story is very traumatic with my mom locking me up in the balcony where I only felt it practical to learn flying and then teach my brother.

Here’s the real raison d’etre. In his hey days, my uncle was a chief engineer for the Narmada Valley Project (Please please, let’s not get all riled up against my family. He was only getting paid handsomely for it). He got to stay in the Narmada valley. Now you’d think that’s not a big deal. It isn’t till you hear that he gets to stay in King Trivikramasena’s palace4 on the banks of river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. The name didn’t ring a bell till my dad told me that his other name in the vetaal community happened to be Vikram. I was in raptures when we were slated to meet uncle and his family for summer vacation. My brother was too little to understand the thrills of staying in such a historically significant locale. Maybe he was smart enough to know that this vetaal thing was probably hooky, a figment of someone's imagination to make Chandamama sell. All he could care about was the servants who’d bring a golden wash basin to bed and brush his royal teeth with diamond bristles. He makes the likes of Anna Nicole Smith pale in comparison. I was certain that my uncle wouldn’t be sitting on a throne, but I never broke that news to my giddy brother. In fact, I did something I would come to regret. I encouraged him. I told him stories of a raging war against neighboring king in which King Uncle came out victorious to the cacophony of conch noise. His white elephant had tusks as big as the slide in the park. And of course, our Queen Aunty would spend idyllic days in the palace gardens (that’s the only thing that happened to be true).

My brother couldn’t hide his excitement in the train. He told the co passengers that he was on the way to meet his King Uncle and that if they happened to be on the same train on the way back, he would reward them with a few pearl necklaces that he’d bring from the treasury. My parents shot worried looks at each other. I was amused no end. Co passengers pulled his cheeks.
My uncle and aunt came to receive us at the station. One look at them and my brother completely lost his marbles. His wails competed with that of the conch din he had been made to envision. My uncle was taken aback by this sudden display of affection. Through his sobs, he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in traveling with a crownless king. Amused, my uncle said he had left his crown at home (er..palace) as he had to come incognito to escape from the enemy’s eyes.

Part two of my brother’s displeasure took place in the parking lot when he saw a car instead of a horse chariot. So to appease him, we took a detour to Ujjain where we hired a tonga (horse cart) to take us around the city; all the while my uncle had to pertend to be the king. I think that reconciled my brother a bit as we didn’t hear much of his howling till we reached home.

The palace- It was just fabulous. In my scheme of trying to goad my brother, I had downgraded my own expectations of this place. Not one of the huge castles with moats and canons, but a really humungous bungalow capable of accommodating only the royalty. A palace of a king who ruled small kingdom. The scene took us back a couple of centuries even though the palace was renovated with modern amenities. Red carpets and wood paneling still dominated certain rooms. Ornate chandeliers and unexplored rooms. Manicured lawns with dancing peacocks. Huge balcony with a painting-perfect view of river Narmada flowing in the backyard that housed scampering monkeys whose granddad probably made faces at the brave King (or found the ruby in the fruit). King Vikram may easily have spent days standing here watching the sun set across the river, wondering if he should accept any more fruit from suspicious vendors.

There is something to be said of places that are not made into museums and are left for you to discover. There is something to be said about running along the river to find a graveyard. There is a lot of be said of imaginations and transporting yourself to an era you have always wondered about.

The best part of the palace was the basement that was converted to my uncle’s office. An oversized mahogany table and chair that only looked proportional to the size of the room. An enviable library with topographical maps lining the walls. A scaled down model of the controversial dam with my uncle's imposing presence completed the picture. ‘Saab, aapke liye chai5,‘ the servant chimed in. He truly was a King uncle. My brother beamed with pride as uncle lifted his non-golden cup of steaming tea.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Latest Update: Since I was just 10 when we went to visit uncle, I wanted to validate my memory and gather more information about this palace of King Vikramaditya. So I called my cousin in DC as King Uncle happens to be his dad.

Me: Cousin bro, where in MP was that Vikramaditya’s palace…where you guys lived?

Cuz: Vikramaditya? You mean, the vetaal king?

Me: Oh oh, don’t say a word. Ok, break the news. Was he even a king?

Cuz: It was Maharaja Holkar’s summer palace in Barwah.

Me (very very disappointed, especially since I wrote a whole freakin post on this Vicky fella): But papa told me it was King Vikram.

Cuz (mocking laughter): Your papa was probably pulling your leg. King Vikramaditya’s palace wasn’t too far off, if that is any consolation. It was in Ujjain. You probably did feel the chill of the vetaal while you were there.

Me (feeling more cheated than my brother would have felt, considering I believed it all along. Damn the power of believing what you want!): Is Holkar a decent king? I mean, did Chandamama have stories about his greatness?

*sulk*6

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1. In my case they forgot to hide the Harold Robbins
2. For people who aren't google educated, Manpreet Brar is a model, VJ and looks like a well bred horse (Google won't divulge that info)
3. Zap is a crazy blogger whom I used to frequent long time ago when he was in Rediff. He couldn't handle the fans and so he escaped. Thanks to vetal, I found him.
4. It is normal to allow Govt. officials to stay in renovated palaces during their tenure.
5. Sir, tea for you. ( I am pandering to my international and Tamil audience)
6. Still sulking

58 comments:

bloghopper said...

Who is this manpreet bra ?

alpha said...

sheesh man...i write a bunch of senti stuff and you ask me abt this brar woman. just google it na. i am still consoling myself.

bloghopper said...

your joke on manpreet brar is lost on me. pliss to ssplain.

Zoheb said...

Yaar - are we supposed to believe all your stories just like your brother?

alpha said...

she is a model, VJ who looks rather hot (like the vetaal)

zo: Its in your best interests to believe the stories or you'll keep wondering.

Rationale said...

Ah now I got it! I was wondering why I remember Vikram and Betal (or Vetaal). It was from comic book volume I read in India a few times. I dont remember if it was Chandamama though :(

I love those Maharaja palaces which they dont turn into museums! There are quite a few of them in Kerala too. (Next time, we celebrate your birthday in one of them.. Hmm or maybe Beta's... we can add some golden cups too!)

PisaasWithPizazz said...

You know even though Sharukh Khan starred in it King Uncle was a failure of a movie. It had a nice song though

Is Jahanki Nahin hai tumhari aankhen
aasmase uthariya theri aankhen....

Me said...

rotfl.....

rotfl on the update...:((..:((...:((

thank god u did not get involved in these stories....like chandramukhi ....

Me thinks how alpha would roll her eyes...rotfl

Patrix said...

you got the Falstaff bug? footnotes and all...publishing a paper, kya?

alpha said...

rationale: i have a link for you to read. you may like the ending.:)

sounds like a plan. next thing i know i'll be writing a story of us going to king vikramaditya's palace in kerala.

go eat some pizza: dont expect my next post to be on Nagma's ankhen.

me: Didn't see chandramukhi. eyes are stable.

patty: if you don't stop me now, I am going to start quoting.

Anonymous said...

vikramaditya

vikram aur vetaal

i wrote a long comment and somehow lost it :-(. this is just a small portion of it.

anyways, note that vikramaditya had another capital at pataliputra, i.e., patna. who knows, your rossan misra might be of a royal lineage!

- s.b.

alpha said...

s.b.- LOL!

your first link says both these guys share the same freaking name ad one was a legendary king and one was the ruler of Ujjain (MP)..didn't see Patliputra..you confusing this Vicky with Mr Gupta son, also a Vicky..aarhh! This is too much History for me in one day. I am regretting taking your Vikram or Vetaal comment (from last post) so seriously.

Anonymous said...

sorry wrong link. here is the right one ...

read the part that is headlined 'the empire'


oh well, no more references to history from me. history is now, officially, history!

- s.b.

phatichar said...

They showed a tight close-up of a well bred horse on Animal Planet the other night. Kept wondering where I'd seen that close-up before. Now I know. :)

Hilarious as usual... :)

ps: Incidentally, google also doesn't mention the striking similarity in the voice...which i'm sure you know.

shub said...

hey! yest i was watching a chinese serial (don't ask!) and i saw this guy carrying a lady and I was reminded of vikram-betal. i found it hailarious:D like this post!

and congratulations on having discovered the subscript :P

Aqua said...

LOL about Manpreet Brar...hahahah she DOES look like a horse neightn't she? hahahahaha

i used to love reading tinkle comics...i still buy them sometimes...

love this post :)

Aqua said...

amrita singh is also looks like a distant relative of a horse haahahahaha

B o o said...

As soon as I saw that the trouble you took to type "Vikram vikram vikram" and "vetaal vetaal vetaal"(!) in your comment on the previous post, I knew a post was coming on that. It had such potential! (only for you Alpha!) Hilarious! :)

None said...

as for equine-humans, i guess i'd put kareena kapoor top most on the list.
brought back memories of my youth! It was my great misfortune to be clubbed with my classmate vikram during internship. since we stuck together in the begining in that mighty unfriendly zone, u can imagine what we came to be called. nay, what i came to be called!
when i wasn't angry with vikram, i could actually laugh! :)

cheers!

alpha said...

sb: aah, that is mr. gupta's son. oh well, too many historical Vikrams and I haven't been to any one of their castles! bah! Holkar, it seeems. Who the hell has heard of Holkar?! Not a single vetaal fearing kid.

shub: better not laugh and spoil the moment when your future husband tries to carry you out of love.

phatichar: I think I could stand a tight(?) close up in animal planet anyday.

aqua: you do get carried away with horses, don't you. Come come..be kind to animals.

boo: long time no see here. Yeah, by that time i was into the vikram-vetal thing. no one cud have stopped me from writing this post. hoohehehe.

ms.vetaal: with a name like none, it allows me to substitute what i want.
Aqua, what's your take on kareena kapoor?

Me said...

goto the end of ur html code..there should be few lines of code between (noscript) and (/no script)..comment that code...

alpha said...

dei, what is the meaning of comment the code? nonsense nakkal!

bloghopper said...

Ahh, I finally get the joke on miss brar ? *grins sheepishly* You could have just replaced her with amrita singh. Now that is one name any hindi film watcher would not forget !

Rationale said...

Enuf with the "ending" bit I tell you! Grrr...Ok! Ok! I like that book which you recommended (wrote)!

No palace outing for you! *Hmmph*

Rationale said...

comment the code- means to put it between 2 '!' characters, so that piece of code will not be used. You could also just delete it.

Zoheb said...

I always knew this alpha is lapetofying[1] :D She must have stayed in some run down villa in some gaon[2] some where.

[1] lying
[2] gaav

alpha said...

rationale: i am outsourcing this to you. Will pay you handsomely (or beautifully) in japaneese yen.

zo: i like your subscript idea better. next time se..

bluudy hell. i was led to believe so, btw..that doesn't count as lapetofying.

Me said...

sorry alpha ..i was busy today ....adhunaala dhan late...

i cannot paste the code here bec blogger doesn't allow to post html code in the comment....

(!--

(noscript)
...
.....
(/noscript)

--)

replace "(" with < and ")" with >

zap said...

This is very funny. Why dont you enable Rss feeds??
Also.....

yo! I remember reading you on rediff too. But my memory got RAMmed when i had an accident 2 years back, so forgive the forgetfulness.
And I did leave rediff cuz I couldnt handle the fans, but those were fans people were hurling at me.

Aqua said...

Alpha, kareena kapoor you ask? 'None' is quite right. though kareena's expressions remind me more of a rabbit making orgasmic expressions (can i use this word in an open forum *muses*) i hope i don't get blocked or something :)

Anonymous said...

I spent a whole evening just reading your blog! Just one more, just one more ... and i read it all! you are very cool :-)

anantha said...

Zap: Alpha's feed is enabled, Atom that is...

Alpha: The scientific thinker that I am, the first thing I noticed is that you talk say - "brush his royal teeth with diamond bristles". Funny part you have chosen to combine two hard substances in one line - Diamond, the hardest ever known to mankind and then teeth enamel, which is probably the hardest part of the human body. Hmm.. but even so, won't using diamond bristles damage the teeth enamel? If not, why don't we use teeth in tool bits? Hmm.. point to ponder!
Hmm..And you still haven't removed that damned pop-up inducer???

alpha said...

me: is it working? is it working..in spite of your immensely confusing instructions, i guess i managed. relace ( with < it seems, I was looking for ( in the code. Then I figured what you were saying *smart me* and I replaced all the '<' with '('.

zap: shucks, you had an accident?! *visions of you being hit by a fan on your head are popping up in spite of me telling myself I ought to be serious in this regard* hope you have recovered now. I bet the fans are of great use in bangalore.

aqua; yes, that's it! Now I have lost all respect for orgasmic rabbits. of course you are allowed to use anything here as long as it is not html codes.

anon: Only when you have hateful things to say to me, you are allowed to be anonymous. You just lost out on the riches. all you'll get is a big 'thanks'. That was some sad way of spending your evening.

anti: Why is everyone trying to bring out my ignorance only in this post? Other posts, I have managed to hide it. This RSS and Atom is getting me all worked up. am I safe?

Sometimes you do stump me with your knowledge. If you donate enough teeth, we could make a hammer out of it and hit our heads...this would give a completely new meaning to kadi (which also is equally painful involving teeth)

Anonymous said...

If that fix was to fix the pop-ups. Nope it is not working!

alpha said...

anon: maybe you need a pop-up blocker.

Me said...

alpha thats not working....will look thru the code sometime this eve....

alpha said...

hey, i dont see any..nor does Chugs. He says you all have gone bonkers. what's the exact problem?

alpha said...

chugs: they have gone bonkers
Alpha: i'll let them know
chugs: there are no pops on your blog
Alpha: that was a quick soln
Alpha: no moms either?
chugs: those who are seeing them either have adware or malware on their puters
Alpha: whazzat?
Alpha: shud i tell them to take it off
chugs: tell them to check their puters
chugs: do an anti virus check
chugs: do an adware check
Alpha: cool, poor guys they don't know how screwed up they are. thanks for the insight.

alpha said...

chugs: ok maybe they need some other help
chugs: one of those "ists"
Alpha: ists?
chugs: opthalmologist
chugs: or psychiatrist
Alpha: are you saying crazy blind people read my blog?

alpha said...

for the uninitialted- chugs is our resident help desk who sits up all night answering questions like this.

bloghopper said...

Maybe the vetaal has something to do with the pop-ups.

alpha said...

bh: thanks for bringing the vetaal back into the picture. people seem to be losing sight of the actual post here.

Me said...

so how come popup comes only in ur site not others?

anantha said...

Chugs: If you are reading this, I happen to be one of those people. Yes, I do need a psychiatrist, as Alpha here would gladly attest (I KNEW I should not have let her interpret my dreams about the wildbeest and the Nile croc in the Serengeti!). But not for this reason :D
Anyhoo, I am one of those dummies who look at "Page source" once in a while and I can see (at the very fag end of the page) some javascript for Nedstat (who have since been taken over by webstats4u. It is a truth universally acknowledged that blogs using the aforementioned stat service must be in need of a strong popup blocker. The service reputedly generates popups that can be identified by "http://Ilead.itrack.it/". I won't paste any links here, but I did forward Alpha some informative urls that she probably ignored amidst all the porn links that she browses. However I can see that some part of that code has been "commented". And my corporate pop-up blocker works well. So I will get home tonight and check this out.
Alpha: Adangu! :p

alpha said...

me: but your idea didnt work no.

anti: aiyoo rama! Now to just read that comment, chugs will charge me a fortune. I'll try to read your mail and figure it out myself tonight or by the end of this year.

nile croc, mm..i do vaguely remember that...or was it in my dreams?

anantha said...

Alpha: And yes.. THANK YOU...in the midst of all your rupture, I missed that compliment contained therein!

alpha said...

Anti: I am very moved that you are one of those simple people who like to look at the positive aspects of everything..even my comments.

Me said...

...anantha romba thanks ba.....alpha i wanted to type all the stuff he said .... excluding the ones that didn't make sense..

None said...

i guess talking about it itself is stupid enuf to warrant being called ms.v! will i never learN! sigh!
:)
cheers!
r

kandykane said...

all my sympathies with your little brother for being the guinea pig of your 'vikram vaitaal' experiments .. awesome

alpha said...

kandy: what abt me? my whole family was into fooling someone or the other. I went thru my dad's experiments..and i was still thinking it was true..till last week. my brother got over it long back.

WA said...

LOL Just heard the guy on some Indian channel go gaga over a letter he'd recd a letter from Alpha in California. He coudn't believe it that someone could be called Alpha, I know how shocked he was because he said so about 5 times.

Alphie, did you write to that letter? The song requested was something about ek glassy do glassy teen glassy chor (or was that chaar) it was as bad as that Tamil rap aNTi and D.N.A were going on about at one time :)

anantha said...

WA: My mouth not upma ravai! So don't kalari-fy!1

alpha said...

wa: could have been these guys trying to frame me. They could have been more realistc and used chicago.

Himanshu Nautiyal said...

When is your book coming out? There just has to be one! In my trawl thru the Indian blog scene hunting for links for Newscola.com, I have found two people who match the oddballness of Ramesh Mahadevan - greatbong.net and you! And both of you owe it to us, your faithful readership (well, I have been reading only 2 hour but you know what I mean) to get off your blogs and do a pukka proper book.

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