Sunday, June 14, 2009

DAland.An outsider's view

At first when my professor told me to survey this place,i went through a wave of emotions.Fascination.Excitement.Anticipation.Fear and then,laziness.After all,how many people ACTUALLY DO a rural internship?He rambled on and on for about half an hour about the place.He was so excited he kept giggling.Did I really want to spend the rest of the twenty days here listening to him?So at the end of it,when he raised his hand and asked "Are you with me?" I knew the answer right away.DAland,here I come.

DAland.General Information...

Number of inhabitants:roughly 960 divided into 4 groups of 240 each.Other communities are present in small numbers but are not worth mentioning.Also include langoors,dogs,snakes,peacocks,various birds,insects and a leopard.Local language:DA lingo.not spoken by most parts of..well..civilisation.I take this platform to thank Sahil Chaudhary's "THe DaiIct LinGo-Blah-Blah" ;without whose reference i would have been,quite literally, at a loss of words in that place.Thanks,man (Y).


Now the inhabitants of DAland,are all,well,how do i put it.. their own way.There are so many of them,i could go on and on.But some of them are really worth mentioning.But before that I would like to mention something-

The characters in this narrative are NOT purely fictitious.Any resemblance to any living person,place or thing is PROBABLY co-incidental.

Now that that matter is cleared, here I go.My expedition.To DAland..

I reached this place after a long journey.Just on the outskirts of DAland,I saw this small place selling lemon juice and milk with crushed fruit mixed in it.I recognised this place immediately.It was 'galla'*.I had read about it so decided to check it out.But on my way I accidentally bumped into a gruffly looking individual.I apologised;but all he did was mutter something I did not understand and went away."Stay away from him.We call him Axe-e." A kind soul sitting there said to me.I got to hear this sentence a lot.Incidentallly,it is usually the first thing I hear when he is around.Most of the inhabitants do not come within half a km radius of this fellow out of fear of being beaten up,hit by pellets,branches or whatever is lying around,or worse.Get to hear some very strange words,which, the way in which they are said,i do not want to know the meaning of.

Now Axe-e i one of a kind.His activities are pretty much limited.Mostly all he does is eat,sleep,drink a lot of milk at 'galla'* .When he is not doing this,and if you're unlucky enough to be around,well...

(*'galla' - for more information on this topic refer "THe DaiIct LinGo-Blah-Blah")

Let me tell you more about the inhabitants of DAland.I met this little chap with an extremely curly mop of hair which i presume made up for 1/5th of his height.Most of the time I'd see him banging sticks,stones or anything that produces some sort of sound.I guess that must have been the origin of the term-'rock' music in olden times.Oh yes,the localites call him Pebblehead.He,along with his room-mate,have a jolly old business running in the heart of DAland,at 89th street,house no.106.its called "Venom's Hut".All the inhabitants of DAland come to this place almost every day.This especially gets a lot of visitors before or after some major activity-like exams or cultural activities and so on.Pebblehead,it seems,has a keen interest in cultural plays of far off lands.Last i heard he presented,in Venom's Hut,his very own version of a very famous cultural play which had got a lot of praise in various lands.I never saw it but the male inhabitants of DAland couldn't stop raving about it.It was about some millionaire...

Now,WHO was i talking about?Ah,yes.The self proclaimed stud of DAland.He knows everyone.And I mean everyone.He introduced me to some people who even the inhabitants didn't know existed.Now,anytime you want to find this guy,its easy.Mostly he'd be around some water source or a reflective surface-preening and praising himself.If you dont find him in DAland he's probably in another town not so far away called NIFTown when exams are not on.otherwise you will always find him with either some intellegent looking male inhabitant or one of the female inhabitants.Especially this small one called so-so.(I wonder why they call her that.It seems mean.She's so tiny and cute she reminds me of this blue alien character I had seen in a recent bollywood movie...)and then there are only two syllables he utters during this time that seem to work magically on everyone..sounding something like-"padha de"...

As I mentioned earlier,DAland is divided into groups of 240.these are further divided into four subgroups mainly for work purposes.of course,the other kind of groups the 240 are divided into are very difficult to keep track of.they name themselves after dry fruits or two-wheelers,and they keep diminishing in number everyday.But that's another story.I wouldn't want to drive myself NUTS over that.Anyway,during these work hours,i saw an interesting person.She is always the first to raise a doubt.Well..she is also always the last one to raise a doubt.She always looks so worried,poor girl.I don't know her name but I think she's called "Oh-nooooo...".Because that's what Axe-e and Pebblehead always say the minute she says something.

Vehicles used...

I discovered a great piece of engineering work in this place that i must tell you about.It belongs to Pebblehead.It has two round stone wheels which have been chipped from various parts and is only barely supported by sticks that could give way any time.But still,this..erm..thing..called skooty..can carry even upto four people at the same time.And still manage to move.Amazing.

Major activities...

Now one major activity here,any time of the day,month or year.Come rain,wind,hail or storm-is the infamous game 'Boulder - Strike'.It is very popular among the male inhabitants of the area.Players from different clans fight each other by hiding behind huge boulders and throw pellets at each other.Sometimes even planes made of leaves.And they would go on for hours.I was watching one such match..and it seemed extremely stupid and pointless.One of the teams was losing pathetically.Most of their players had been bruised badly.Then,one of them,it seemed,got an idea.They decided to use their weapon of mass destruction.Finally,I thought.Something exciting..Cotton wads were passed and they even gave me some to stuff in my ears.Were they planning to use some sort of supersonic sound?I took a wild guess,and waited in anticipation.But what did turn out to be the weapon was..wait.A guy.With a jar of orange juice???!Ok well,technically,it was Tangerine juice-as someone corrected me.But that didn't matter.. what good is that?Their team stopped firing and stood in silence.What was going on?Even the opponents stopped firing in confusion.The guy strode confidently,taking huge swigs of the juice as if for energy,proceeding towards the middle of the ground.Was he crazy?When he reached there,he sat down calmly and took one final,huge sip and closed his eyes.Then he started muttering something-seemed like some sort of one-liners,I gauged.
Now,ladies and gentlemen,what I am about to describe to you is a scene not meant for the fainthearted.I have never seen one man cause such a flurry of activity.It seems I was highly mistaken about him;and unfortunately,so was the opponent team.They started running helter-skelter,as if suddenly gripped by madness.Had he cast some sort of ancient spell on them?I had heard of people behaving weirdly under hypnosis,but this was something else.Judging from the thunder and lightning which soon followed,it seemed to me as if even the heavens were revolting.They covered their ears and groped wildly for anything- leaves,shoots,anything-to block out the sound.One of them fell to the ground,shivering,as if in extreme pain-exclaiming "Nooooooooo...Take him away!!Take him away!!Dont't do this to me!!I'm too young to die!!"and then he fainted from the trauma.

In the midst of all this hullabaloo,i was concerned about poor Pebblehead's safety.what if there was a stampede?I scanned the place carefully till I found him.He was jumping excitedly standing next to a a big giant.I smiled with relief.He was safe.No one dared to annoy that giant.

Oh i almost forgot.This giant I am talking about.I have tried so hard to interact with him.I tried everything.I used all the words I had learnt in DAland..hearing some of which even poor Axe-e got embarrassed and left.All possible sign language/hand gestures I had seen being used here.Yes.All.But it seems he has some sort of crazy fascination of a praticular species of the frog variety.because anything i'd do,his only responsewould be -a goofy smile on his face and then he would mumble-"TOADD..."

But yeah,anyway..coming back to Boulder-Strike.Within minutes,the ground was cleared of all the members of the opponent team.The ones left were still writhing in pain,too harmless to do anything.The winning team went wild with joy and started doing DHAMAAL on the ground to celebrate their victory.As for the "weapon",he was given a fresh supply of orange..sorry..Tangerine juice and taken away.

What WAS this place?Where had I reached?What kind of people WERE these?A million questions were whizzing in my mind at the same time,and I did not know the answer to any of them.Confused,bewildered,annoyed,frustrated,hungry(??),I roamed about aimlessly in DAland in search of answers.I reached this area which was supposed to be the centre of education of DAland.During the day at least.It was called L.T'..But when i reached there and saw the condition,I thought they should seriously consider rechristening it 'M.T'..(Get it?M.T..Empty..?muahahhahaha..Ahem.Sorry I think one of the cotton wads fell off during that last match of Boulder-Strike.Stil suffering from a mild headache).A class was going on about communication using smoke signals.A senior inhabitant of DAland was standing next to him,with a creepy,menacing look,as if he was ready to perform some weird experiment on any one who tried to leave the class.They reminded me of the mad doctor and his evil assistant.The fact that the elder one laughed in a crazy manner from time to time didn't really help.The students though,were unpertrubed.They were laughing,some of them even singing and throwing planes made of leaves at each other.He left the place and started walking in my direction.He stopped a few steps away from me and looked at me.Maybe he wanted to tell me something.Did he have the answers to my questions?Was it,finally,a glimmer of hope?What was it that he wanted to say?

I scrunched my forehead in deep concentration,ready to hang on to every word of wisdom that escaped his mouth.For two whole minutes,he stood absolutely still.The silence was almost dramatic.Then he opened his mouth and said one.single.word-


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