Games Chennaiites play

Chennai is a very sport-loving city. It is a city that has given Wasim Akram and his band of talented criketers in the 90s a standing ovation when the rest of India was busy choosing which brand of mineral water bottle to hurl at fieldsmen stationed in the deep and inventing new, choicy synonyms for Solanum Tuberosum

It’s produced its fair (and brown) share of talented cricketers, some of whom were lucky enough to have donned national colours. Others like Sridharan Sharath, were victims of BCCI’s “Show-middle-finger-at-Domestic-Cricket” policy. And let’s not forget Viswanathan Anand and Narain Karthikeyan.

But this post is not about that kind of sport. This is about the “games” Chennaiites play everyday. All the time. With each other. We take great pride in our ability to concoct games out of day to day mundane activities. Such as,

Game #1 : Autopingpong

The formula is

Passenger: (destination)

Auto: (ridiculously high fare)

Passenger: (walks off)

Auto: Hello. How much will you give?

Passenger: (Ridiculously low fare)

Auto: (Argument #1 – Spiralling price of Petrol)

Passenger: So why has the government installed a meter?

Auto: (Argument #1.1 – Why meters are cruel symbols of the capitalistic bourgeosie out to squeeze every drop of blood from poor Auto drivers)

Passenger: (Ridiculously low fare + 10 Rs)

Auto: (Argument #2 – The “You are rich and you can afford Rs 20 more” plea)

Passenger: (walks off)

Auto: (Argument #3 – The horrible traffic situation) minus Rs 10 from his price

Passenger: (quotes final tolerable price, very close to x+y/2)

Auto: (One final attempt to squeeze Rs 5 more)

Passenger: (walks off)

Auto: Hello. Get in.

If we didn’t play this game, this would have been,

Passenger: Look, I am going to quote a ridiculously low price for the fare (x), and you are going to quote a fare that’s as high as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds(y). So let’s just cut the lengthy discussion out and let’s agree to (x + y)/2

Auto Driver: Ok.

Game #2 : Ponpaarkatennis

This game is played in an arena involving sofas, paais (traditional mats), bajjis and other snacks, and a large number of relatives

The formula is,

Prospective Groom’s relative #1: Can the girl sing?

Girl’s parents: Oh. Yes. She is a double MA in advanced musicology. Sing Alaipayudhe no. She sings it exactly like Shalini in the Mani Ratnam movie.

Prospective Groom’s relative #2: Can the girl dance?

Girl’s parents: Oh. Yes. She is a student of Hema Malini herself. Ennamma, oru bit podu

Girl: (Dances and sings Krishna Nee Begane Baro)

Prospective Groom’s relative #3: Ponnu Enna Padicchirkaa? (Educational qualifications)

Girl’s parents: (rattle off long sequence of alphabets)

Prospective Groom’s relative #4: After marriage, will she leave her job and stay at home? We prefer housewives

Girl’s parents: She is a good, obedient, docile, house-trained girl. She will listen to whatever you say. If you wish her to work, she will do that. If you wish her to stay at home, she will do that. She can cook every cuisine from Mughlai to Thai. She can also solve complex problems in Integral Calculus.

Prospective Groom’s relative #5: We will look at her horoscope and get back to you.

(proceed to finish off all bajjis, pakodas)

If we didn’t play this game, this would have been,

Prospective Groom: Look, let me be very frank. I have an irrational craving for fair-skinned girls, and you are a tad too brown for my taste. I get a huge kick out of everybody I know commenting on how fair and lovely my wife is.

Prospective Bride: Ok. If you think skin colour matters, you dont deserve me in any case. And oh, the bill for the bajjis, pakodas and coffee will be Rs 570 + VAT

Game #3 : Constaball

This game is usually played out on the sides of important roads, preferably under shade, in Chennai.

The formula is

Cop: Hey. stop. Licence show

Person: (shows licence)

Cop: Insurance and papers show

Person: (shows)

Cop: Hmm. Headlight no black paint mark. Fine compulsory

Person: But my headlight is off. It’s daylight

Cop: But tonight coming no? Then you light oning no? Then paint mark needed. 100 rs fine

Person: Saar. just for paintmark?

Cop: No. Where is your helmet?

Person: But helmet not mandatory no?

Cop: Who said? It is, as of today

Person: What? I didnt even know

Cop: Helmet rule changes everytime goverment changes, everytime it rains, everytime the sun rises…

Person: Ok. so how much fine?

Cop: Where do you work?

Person: IT. Software

Cop: So you are well educated no? So how come you not following rules?

Person: Sorry saar.

Cop: See ahead. The sub inspector is there. If he sees you means, Rs 1000 fine.

Person: Oh. Saar. Help me sir

Cop: Sub-inspector very strict. Full Rs 1000 he will extract

Person: Ok. Ok. I got the hint. How much?

Cop: 200 Rs. Careful. Don’t reveal the cash.

If we didn’t play this game, this would have been,

Cop: Saar. I have not met my monthly target saar. If I don’t collect something from you, my boss will anyway take his cut out of my salary. I have 3 daughters saar. All to be married saar. Give whatever you can saar

Violator: (biker forks out Rs 50. Car forks out Rs 200.)

So fellow Chennaiites, Non-Chennaiites and Ex-Chennaiites, you aware of any other interesting games people play?