Landing in the (chicken) soup

Landing in the (chicken) soup


Landing in the (chicken) soup

Recently, the alumni of the Engineering college I attended, most of whom now work in the Gulf countries, decided to have a weekend family get together in Muscat, to bask in the nostalgic memories of ‘college days’. As part of the warm-up session, each person was asked to introduce another, narrating a crazy campus incident, and out poured humorous anecdotes.

One spoke of an episode that unfolded during the college’s annual drama festival. The narrator had to act dead during the climax scene. But he agreed to play the role on the condition that the director should arrange to photograph him as he lay still on the stage. The drama was in its crucial moment and the villain was spewing venom through his dialogues, standing arrogantly by the ‘body’.

Then, the ‘dead’ friend said to him in a hushed tone, “Remind the photographer to take a snap, or I’ll get up and spoil the play.” At this, the agitated villain hissed back, “If you get up, I may have no choice but to really kill you.” This student, who was a strict vegetarian, was invited to take on a bet. “If you lose the bet, you should eat the non-vegetarian dish served in our NV (non-vegetarian) mess once,” said the ‘dead’ man. The vegetarian, of course, lost the bet, and gulped down non-vegetarian food for the first time in his life.

Now, the twist in the tale — after that embarrassing moment, the villain enrolled in the college’s NV mess and never visited the vegetarian one.

The chicken piece dished out on weekends in the NV mess was always in demand. To restrict consumption, the mess issued limited coupons to its inmates, and they could collect the chicken only by tendering them. An old student religiously collected the coupons from those who opted to dine out on weekends, and managed to savour many chicken pieces. The mess staff objected to his practice and warned him. But our friend, who was not chicken-hearted, could not curb his instincts. Finally, the   staff displayed his name on the notice board, accusing him of excess chicken consumption through ‘prohibited practice’!

In the final year of my college, I scripted a skit that won the Best Drama award in the college’s drama competition. The state government had just then formed many new districts and to get political mileage had named them after individuals. I included a satirical dialogue in the drama that made fun of this practice. This received thunderous applause from our students.

Carried away by the satire’s success, my drama team, on its own volition, entered a cultural event staged by a government Engineering college, and re-enacted the skit. Here, too, the satire was met with loud cheers from the audience. The authorities, who had to tow the government line, were taken aback. They swung into action immediately, switched off the mike, and evicted our troupe. My friends shared the news of the fiasco with me in the evening, laughing nonchalantly. But, for almost a month I feared that I could face an inquiry for my dig against the government. Luckily, that was not to be and I escaped ignominy.