Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ask Uncle π

This article was written for The Fourth Estate a long time ago along with Tejas Sanjay Deshmukh. It popped out in some cleaning up and seemed worth a second print. This one is also the original without any of the cuts made by the Dean then.
The last two were written for the hostel creative writing competition and were added on the 12 of September when they came up in the cleaning up too..

Dear Uncle π, I am a freshie in one of the new hostels. Don't get me wrong - by no means am I wishing to convey a message that sounds like "I hate my hostel" - but I am faced with a rather unique problem. I have been allotted a room, on one of the higher floors, vertically above the entrance, and every time that I return after classes I have problems in reaching my room. In fact, I have spent only about 63% of the nights in my room. Anyway, not going into statistics, after I climb out of the lift I realize that I have already lost all sense of direction. Just to regain it I go all the way back to the ground floor to check out where the entrance is. After I climb out of the lift on the ground floor I find that I am at a loss so as to where the entrance was. But then life is not all roses, so I go search for it anyway and keep trying. This method fails often, approximately 37% of the times. Please help.
The Spanish follow the father of the ugly duckling, searching for the lost boy (6)

Ah! You are mistaken my young friend. This by no means, is a unique problem and shall undoubtedly be the most read part of the magazine. As for your predicament, I can offer you some options:
a) - Go buy a magnetic compass.
b) - Use small white pebbles. Do NOT use bread crumbs
c) - Leave really, REALLY loud music playing in your room, after you leave
d) - Get the window grille removed and use a rope ladder

Dear Uncle π, I am a freshie and I have this issue I wanted advice on. The problem is that I never outgrew the habit of sleeping with my teddy, Winnie, beside me in bed. The fact is this is the first time I'm staying away from my parents, and the only support I have here is Winnie. I was expecting my fellow inmates to be understanding and accommodating, after all, they fell in a supposedly high IQ bracket. But all I have got so far are sniggers and bumps. Every time that I tried kicking the habit, the ensuing emotional void become unbearable, making me cling onto Winnie even harder. I can't see any way out of this. Please help.
- Peanutty boy, who hates an xs of Windows (5)

Sleeping with stuffed toys, eh! Kicking any habit in an abrupt manner causes withdrawal pains which make it even harder to, well, kick. A standard approach to be followed in such matters is the gradual metamorphosis of the pernicious habit into a mature, satisfying one. So I advise you to undergo a long term rehabilitation programme which consists of slowly changing from Winnie to Darkwing Duck to Hobbes to Willy and eventually to, what in popular parlance are referred to as, 'Adult Toys'. And you, my boy, will win the admiration of your friends, and shall be held in high esteem for finding a solution to the Insti sex ratio problem. We also offer you a free TFE subscription for the rest of your stay if you mail us a Before-After.
Of course, shifting to a room in one of the new hostels would provide you with hardly any opportunities to sleep in your room, so that poor Winnie shall slowly and surely be forgotten.

Dear Uncle π, I am a freshie and am a little unsure of how I feel about her. She's the most wonderful thing to have happened to me, including IIT. When she walks her hair sways like the most exquisite Laplacian harmonics, her lips are like rich pi clouds, her eyes just like CuSO4.2H2O and speaking of eyes, I've also observed her to secretively look towards me with those cute sideway glances which girls have. And when she looks at me my heart jumps with joy, I get all dizzy, the breeze brushes against my cheeks and the clouds above fondle my hair, I seem to have lost my sleep and appetite. I've never experienced such a feeling before and therefore thought that maybe I should make sure beforehand - Is it Love? If so, what should I do? Please help.
- What's left of the Bishop of Canterbury, that is, what makes a boy fall in love (6)

Tomber amoureux, what a beautiful feeling monsieur! Yes, YES, YES!!! It is Love. That fluttering of the heart - I've felt it too. That graceful walk, those delicate limbs, the alabaster skin...
But then life is not a cakewalk. We shall begin with pointing out that it's CuSO4.5H2O. Also, more importantly, she gives you those cute little looks because some joker told her that you are the one who sleeps with the Winnie. That however would be the least of your troubles. I would also like you to know that half the Insti is also, as you call it, 'in Love' with her, which means that you face stiff competition and, being a freshie, do not stand a chance. Therefore we advise you to get you room changed to one of the new hostels, which shall keep you occupied with more mundane matters such as making it to your room.

Dear Uncle π, I am a freshie and I have this little bother. This is the first time I have to stay in a hostel with a roommate and the fact that I didn't know him before makes me very uncomfortable. You can imagine my surprise when I woke up after my first night here to find him sitting beside my bed and staring at me with big glossy eyes. To add to that weird feeling - his room is full of posters of men's lingerie, and he always walks around without a shirt with his one arm upon his chest. I even caught him doing his fingernails once. To make things worse my bed is towards the window, which cuts offs the option of making a run for it in case he assaults me. Not that I have anything against homosexuality, some of my best friends are gay, but a roommate? This is really worrying me - I need to know, in case if he is one of them, what precautions should I take? Please help!!!
- Bankrupt behind the Oscar winner (9)

Now, why does that sound so familiar to me!!! As much as I would like to recommend to you "My Roomie Nikhil", which happens to be an excellent guidebook on dealing with situations similar to the one you think you are in, that would be wholly unnecessary. Because in your case, I don't think he is gay and more importantly because TFE cannot do free advertising. As for the posters, they probably have the men posing with huge biceps, wide chests and infinite other muscles - relax - those are body-builder posters and, as has been observed on innumerable previous occasions, could be a false alarm. Moreover if you wish to ascertain the fact, look for pink things in his wardrobe. If none are present - voila!!! Yet another proof could be to watch out for him eying the freshie female in 'C' batch, though that could mean another thing... but I think we will leave it at that.
An easy solution to your problems with unknown roommates is to get a room in one of the new hostels - the lack of double rooms and the engrossing journey ensures a meaningful existence!!!

Dear Uncle π, I am a freshie and I don't really see any point in writing to you, I mean how many problems really get solved with agony column advice, but I am still writing to you, though it is highly improbable that you shall reply to this mail given the volume of mail you handle, since I don't want my GCU counsellors to crib later that I didn't even try. The point is nothing good has ever happened to me- my room-neighbour seems to be gay, the other one sleeps with teddies, my room is in unexplored territory, and no one ever publicizes the books I ghost write (lately I wrote "My Roomie Nikhil"), my parents think I am pessimistic, my brother thinks I am depressed, my dog is too dumb to think... Why am I going on about myself, it is worthless, right? I mean how can I expect you, someone who doesn't even know me (Here the editors wield their editing power and decide to not continue the letter anymore, after all it is worthless, right?)
-Asian replaces European in disemboweling vermin to bring out the Martian (6)

I shall try to be very polite about this, but what on earth do you think this column is for!!! We offer invaluable advice to people who come to us with concrete problems such as the inability to find their room (totally unrelated to their IQ). But your letter seems like a lot of cynical garbage. You ought to feel ashamed of wasting our time, paper and ink just to please an insignificant GCU counselor. I would have gone and jumped into the lake with all its crocodiles, after such a regretfully reprehensible letter. Perhaps it can still be done. That is the only advice we can offer you.
PS : New hostels won't work for you!!!

Dear Uncle π, I am a freshie and I find it revolting to ask an all-male team for advice regarding a problem that needs sensitive handling and insights into the into the psychology of women. Only the lure of my name appearing in a magazine as illustrious as yours, and the fact that my complaint is male-centric, makes me write this.
What disgusts me is the sick barbarous attitude, a majority of the males here have towards well endowed females. It disturbs me to the extent that I wonder - are these a curse or a boon. I even considered getting them surgically... but I don't have the courage to take a stab at it, rather, them. I really hate it when some of my male acquaintances do not look me in the eye when they talk. All this full frontal attention is driving me nuts. Please help!!!
- Blonde finds map confusing (3)

Let me assure you dear, that all reservations you have regarding my capabilities in this domain are misplaced. In fact, delicate issues are my specialty. Moreover your problem does not involve so much female psychology as female attire, which, incidentally, happens to be my forte. So my advice to you goes out as follows - confuse them by wearing frills and cuts, or try short tees with one-liners on the back (we can help with the one-liners too), divert attention away from your top half by wearing minis, low-waists, etc. A strategically placed tattoo will help. Make sure that it is visible. Loose hair will only add to the overall effect. Paint your nails, wear bangles, sounds and sights are too much for the male mind to handle simultaneously. All in all, you might end up with more attention, but be sure of the fact that it shall not be specifically directed towards those gifts of god. Or shall I call them boons.
PS : No matter what, don't wear that blue full-sleeved top, or that black baggy tee. Not to mention that mauve blouse, that red salwar-kameez, that white round-neck top or those khaki slacks.

I am a wreck. I had made a lot of money during my lifetime to be religious. My doctor tells me that I am suffering from multiple conditions of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other mysterious diseases. I am a pedophile and a drug addict, not to mention anorexic. I used to be a devout black Christian but I gave it up when I realized they didn’t really care about us.
But now the situation is different, I need to get religion because I am dying. The pope’s stand on evolution, contraception and homosexuality were too rigid and simply unacceptable. And ?e Da Vinci Code’s revelation effectively scratches out Christianity from the race. Meanwhile, the doctrines of Islam, serving Allah to be bestowed with 72 virgins and polygamy for instance, are particularly tempting. Can you help me through this period of intense turmoil and guide me to a blissful end?
- The Spanish follow an exclamation on an amplifying device which proclaims him to be the king of plaster of paris

Dear Michael,
You seem to be a man for ends and not means. Religion is not at all like that, the means are all that there is to it. Everyone just fakes the end, except for scientologists who believe in a recurring loop of life and eventually becoming an immortal Thetan. The fact that you can choose a religion just for the sake of a peaceful afterlife after all the things you have done to men, kids and your nose, you should just hang it all! And just to check your fascinations with Islam specifically, the virgins Islam talks about does not refer to 12 year old kids, in fact to get any virgins at all you have to serve Allah through jihad. Alzheimers and Parkinson’s would disqualify you because you’d have trouble remembering plans, flight names and right and left, and you would agree when I say that your twitching hands are not the safest locations for a bomb switch to be in. Hopefully you have also read the strict no-drinking rules set by the Prophet, unless your vision was too blurry at the time you found out everything you have about Islam and decided to convert.
But out of faith in humanity and partly because my job demands so, I shall still suggest to you a way of life which is suited to your personality. Where you shall have plenty of excitement, a higher authority to believe in and a death in service, join the army.

There is this very close and important ally friend of mine and we were great pals until a few years back. Since then our differences have come in our ways and we have drifted apart but we still retain that special something we shared all along. We do occasionally chat through the media but our interaction is limited to that only. Had we still been good friends I would have asked her straightaway but since we aren’t, I have to resort to an agony column.
Of late she has been exhibiting signs of insomnia, depression, confusion, personality and behavioral changes, and problems with memory, coordination, and sight. All these are short-term symptoms listed under the Mad Cow Disease. The issue is that we have this religious agenda thing going on and it has worked well enough until now, so much so that I might be named as the prime candidate in my area of work. In such a position we cannot afford to lose such an important ally friend, nor can we take the risk of associating ourselves with her at the risk of losing votes for the insult she is to the sacred Gaumata.
This is very important, please help, it is very urgent.
- A communist colourfully meets an Indian dark lord who is clearly too old for the job

I shall not question the suspicion I have upon her contraction of the disease and shall take your word regarding the fact that she is suffering from this aptly named condition, the sad part is that Mad Cow disease does not have any scientifically proven cure and therefore we resort to hokum therapies, the placebo effect for one is known to work wonders.
Otherwise, tell her to avoid beef in any form whatsoever and to regularly test her livestock and sub-officials. This neural disorder can also be slowed down, if not eradicated, by exercising the brain regularly, the onset, as I said previously, is still suspicious but this case surely offers another lead. You should bribe her secretaries to make her do crosswords, play chess, learn how to read or start reading straightaway if she has past experience and other intellectually simulating activities
I feel for you and can completely understand the pain you must be in, but if it progresses (the person rapidly develops dementia and involuntary, irregular jerking movements called myoclonus) I would advise you to start, through your religious propaganda, a Crazy Bitch disease awareness (or a Fat Old Pig disease and let the Islamic radicals suck it) movement and garner some sympathy votes in the process. All the best with your big promotion.

(Names have been encrypted not so much to protect identities as to prevent undeserving individuals from gloating over their names appearing in our prestigious magazine.)


  1. wtf???? is this????????

    teddy bears, forgetting your own hostel room, having a gay room mate? assets being discussed if they are a curse or boon? dude how sad is iit, i thought it was a cool place to be. i dont see such shit happening even in Pearl Academy of Fashion. iit sound like a hideous place to be... :(... this is just sad aditya bhaiya. just simply sad.

  2. @the guy who posted the first comment: we are talking about iit madras here. being cool is not really our forte.

    and please dont tell me that you took all of it to be true now, did you? of course those names were encrypted to protect identities..

  3. Did this make it to the Fourth Estate? Did this make it past the Dean? Did this make it to anything? :D

  4. Chandy thought that that these were real people and refused to let the clues be printed. The rest of it is all there in one of the (I think) '08 issue. As you can see we don't get enough contributions.