When your only contact with the outside world is the sports page of the Hindu, your window to the world is a large, dhobi box of rumours. These rumours gave us our first impression of the world. No one knows for sure how a rumour begins, and the best part is no one is interested in knowing it.
So here I present some of the most fascinating set of rumours that flew around at the time when Raveena Tandon was the hottest female in our country.
Keeping eraser dust in a notebook transformed it into a peacock feather:
Now, I would gift my entire porn collection to the person who finds the guy who made this up and bash his head inside out. This phenomenon was very popular, and there were people who had peacock feathers to prove their alchemistic talents of turning useless, black dust emanating from Natraj Plasto 621 erasers into the beautiful colourful peacock feathers that adorned the head of Lord Krishna. This really was the peacock feather in the cap of the well-behaved guys, who also believed that a certain amount of Divine Grace was required as a catalyst to this transformation. I remember storing huge amounts of dust in my notebooks. I only got thrashed for being a dirty pig, and felt guilty that I was not divine enough.
Sanath Jayasuriya has iron springs inside his bat:
In the late 90s, Sanath Jayasuriya played like a man possessed. And he reserved his best for India. We were a generation that grew up extolling the virtues of Sachin Tendulkar on the field and the dominance of someone else was unacceptable. Thankfully, someone came up with this ingenious bit of imagination for us to console ourselves with. Apparently, Sanath shaved off the top of his bat and installed iron springs in his bat. These iron springs propelled the ball into the stands upon contact with the bat. Truth is, Indian pace bowlers at that time were genuinely large-hearted and generous. Our opening bowler, Venkatesh Prasad bowled so slowly that he wore a wrist-watch in his left hand to keep in touch with time and reality.
Sri Lanka won the World Cup because after every over, they would get into a huddle and chant 'Sai Ram, Sai Ram.'
India had lost the Wills World Cup in 1996. Though we dint get to see a single match and knew fuck about what was going on on the field, there had to be a justified explanation of how Sri Lanka won the World Cup and we didn't. It surfaced when Ranatunga and Jayasuriya were found in the verandah on a Sunday morning wearing beige coloured dhotis, looking like Sevadals from Kerala. Apparently, after every over, they would come together and chant 'Sai Ram, Sai Ram'. I personally feel the team could have chanted the entire Rudram by the time Arjuna Ranatunga moved from mid-on to extra cover, going by his size.
The saga of Shambhulingam
For those who do not know, Shambhulingam was the school's ghost from the years 1993 to 1997. For one, he had to be a ghost of the highest standard to be able to dodge the 'Lotus' rule - which stated that all the buildings in the Ashram were immunized from ghosts by the construction of lotuses on top. This meant that the gymnasium was the only haunted building around and probably explained how our PT Sir made ghostly appearances only on Jan 26 and Aug 15th to hoist the flag. But anyway, Shambhulingam, like Shaktimaan, had no defined set of powers. While some believed he lived in the deer park and fed himself on a steady diet of nilgais, other believed he lived in the 5th standard dormitory. There is no proof that Shambhulingam was a male, for that matter, but I guess even ghosts liked to avoid going up the stairs. Some claimed to have heard heart-wrenching wails from the toilets in the night, proving Shambhulingam's existence, while others believe it could just have been RamTulasi amma singing some random bhajan.
Papa Shango and Undertaker
WWF was perhaps the second most followed sport after cricket, though WWF cards were way more popular than cricket cards. Bret Hart Hitman was the top star back then, and I still believe the older lot had more charisma in them compared to the present crop. Those were the days when StoneCold Steve Austin actually beat up Vince McMahon and flaunted it. Of course, the teachers hated WWE and Anantalaxmi mam called it a Tamasic sport. There were rumours that Headmistress aunty had burnt a guy's WWF T-shirt. The only person who I remember having the guts to wear a WWF T-shirt, was Rohit Parmar, who wore a white T-shirt that had Tatanka's face on it. The rumours associated with Papa Shango was that he drew out the hearts of his opponents. Undertaker was rumoured to have 29 lives. I remember being traumatised when I learnt that it was all fixed and stage-set.
Dipping your hand in a mug of running cold water can give you mumps
Being sick in school meant getting bread and jam for breakfast, and Viva milk twice a day. It also meant you could get to watch video shows irrespective of your class, and most importantly skip classes. If you were lucky to fracture your hand or leg, you were sent home. Though I remember climbing up the giant wheel after steeling my resolve, I never had the guts to jump and break a leg. My only option left was a serious disease. I did get chicken pox once, but sadly, you only get it once. That is when I was introduced to this painless disease called Mumps. My friend suggested the above mentioned technique to acquire mumps. I sat in the toilet for hours together with my hand dipped in the mug. All I got was a bad cold. Don't try this at home, or in the office.
The relevance of the white in your fingernails
Somewhere around the time we learned about the birds and the bees, came along this book called 'Health in your hands', by Devendra Vora, probably the most widely read author in school after RD Sharma and N. Kasturi. Mr. Vora, in his remarkable book suggests some very questionable remedies for some even more questionable symptoms. I remember clearly a diagram that showed that sitting on a wooden chair with a tennis ball under your scrotum improved virility. Among Mr. Vora's phenomenal revelations, was the one about the white semi-circles on our fingernails. Now, these semi-circles apparently represented the levels of semen in our bodies. Spending too much time alone after haircut meant that the semi-circles would deplete quickly. Depletion of these semi-circles would ultimately lead to, believe it or not, AIDS. I remember being petrified about the depleting levels on my fingernails and monitored it on a regular basis with some of my friends. I remember we vowed to abstain from spending time alone after haircuts and cultivate good thoughts in our minds.
Yokozuna chance of that happening, really.
PS. I know I have left out many of the other rumours. But there is a constraint of space here. You are free to add them in your comments and I could may be add another chapter to it.