Vantage point

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Those people who flippantly dismiss stupidity don't realise the hard work that goes into being and remaining stupid. You have to start early in life, and keep your stupidity levels right up there. One slip, and you are in the sane domain.

The tales of my stupidity go way back. I have already recounted some of them on my blog, most notable being my pyrotechniques, when I almost burnt down my house. However there have been other incidents that deserve an audience.

From the age of 8 to the age of 11-12, I was a voracious reader of Enid Blyton's Famous Five, Secret Seven and Five Findouters. I had also been initiated into the world of the more sophisticated Three Investigators. Now the aforementioned ages are when human stupidity is at its peak. At this age, children are not cute, neither are they adorable. They look forgettable and they talk unbearable. In fact I am sure the ancient system of Gurukul, where all the kids that age are sent away to a school-like thing in the forest for "education" and return only when they are in thyeir late teens, was started because of this. The modern day version, i e boarding school is a mere continuation of this practise, which ensures that kids that age are not murdered by annoyed adults. In fact the highest punishment in the Indian Penal Code should be appointment to the post of headmaster of a boarding school.

So coming back to the point, me and my friends were like any other kids that age. Stupid, irritating, talking too much, (if you are gonna say nothing has changed, let me threateningly remind you that I am much stronger now) and in general prone to doing utterly dumb things.

So taken in were we by those kid-detective stories, not to mention TV series like "Super Six" and "Ek Do teen Char", that we decided to jump into the fray ourselves. Some of us started a kid-detective group called "Secret Six" (yes, I know, how original!!). It started off basically as a way to just horse around. It was no different than when kids play any other make believe games. I live on the outskirts of the city, with open fields and hills closeby and so we had plenty of territory to play these make believe games. We all were generally very pleased with our non-existent careers as crime fighters. We had made visiting cards for ourselves though, using sketchpens on the backsides of our respective fathers' visting cards that we purloined. I loved weaving up stories and imagining them to be actually happening, and fancied myself as Pune's own Jupiter Jones. In fact i would always complain how unlucky I was to live in a non-happening and utterly safe neighbourhood where there was almost no crime, and how my talents were being wasted.

Then one day, during vacations (summer or diwali, I dont remember) it all changed. A family called the Daruwallas had moved into this bungalow called Dhun-Villa in the neighbourhood. One afternoon, when there was no one in the house, some thieves apparently broke into the house, and made off with some money and electronics items. An 'aaji'(old woman) living next to the Daruwallas saw them escaping and called the police, but the thieves escaped.

My stupid 10 year old ego was suddenly given a huge feast. A robbery in the neighbourhood? this is a case for the Secret Six, I thought. However, most of the six were not as stupid as me. They ridiculed my intentions of "investigating" this case and said I was crazy. I tried to tell them what a unique opportunity we had of becoming famous, but they were content leading lives of insignificant anonymity. I did manage to convince one friend though, Sushant to join me, though I think he came along more out of a desire to not ditch me rather than out of any conviction that we ought to "crack" the case.

Sushant and I got together the next morning, and decided to interrogate the aaji, who had seen the thieves. We went to her house, assuming that like in the books, we too would get a friendly welcome, some snacks, and then she would recount all that happened. After all, most of the books showed that productive alliances are forged between old people and children during the course of crime-fighting. We rang the bell, and the door was opened by a man in his thirties, presumably her son.

"Hello, we want to speak to aaji" I said.

"About what?" he asked in a curious tone.

"Well, about the robbery at the Daruwallas." I matter-of-factly informed him, wondering if I should show him my visiting card.


"Yes, we are junior detectives, and we want to talk to aaji about what she saw. maybe we can spot a clue that the police missed."

The expression on the fellow's face, if expressed in words would be - "Amway salegirls, I can handle, Jehovah's Witnesses, I can handle, but junior detectives? Why why why why why?"

He put on most-annoyed expression and said "aaji is sleeping right now, come tomorrow." and slammed the door shut in our face.

I was about to turn to Sushant and say "We must not give up, let us come again in the afternoon when this guy has gone to work", but Sushant was already out of the gate. He told me had never been this insulted in his life, and he would not be helping me with investigations anymore.

I was not confident enough to go solo on this case, and thus ended my career in crime-fighting. The Secret Six disbanded a few days later because....basically, we were growing least most of us were.

I have no idea if the robbers were ever caught. I never got to talk to the Daruwallas about the topic again.

And Aaji's son, well he would keep giving me dirty "dont you come junior detectiving again" looks whenever our paths crossed for the next decade or so.