Of Pepsi and Perk

Can be best described by looking at the “objects” that defined our bets at different points in time. Most of those  phases seem to have faded away, but I clearly remember two of them – the Pepsi phase and the Perk phase.

The Pepsi era started with their “nothing official about it” campaign during the 1996 World Cup. It was a brilliant campaign, and had all of us 13yearolds hooked. This became our excuse for any little crimes we would commit (like i would hit someone and say “nothing official about it”). I’m not sure if we used it as an excuse for larger crimes, but I suppose we would’ve used it quite regularly as an apology.

Pepsi seemed to have done a good job of identifying itself with this slogan, as soon Pepsi too became our “weapon of choice” when it came to settling bets, and suchlike. This was the period of time when a tiny bottle of Pepsi had just become affordable by saving up on pocket money, and it was put to good use. The unofficial inter-class cricket tournament became “the pepsi cup” – the losing team was supposed to sponsor a bottle of pepsi for each member of the winning team. If my memory serves me right (it usually does), the tournament never got completed.

This phase lasted for almost all of my 9th standard, if I remember right. Maybe it was briefly replaced by other phases, but this was the defining brand of that academic year. All bets were settled with pepsi. Whenever we went out, usually to play cricket, we would refresh ourselves with pepsi. It was the time of life when people had just started courting. Budding couples would go out to have – a Pepsi.

I don’t remember the exact date, but by the time we had moved to 10th, Preity Zinta had struck. With her “thodi si pet pooja”. Perk was the thing now. Considering that a chocolate bar is a much better device for putting blade compared to aerated cola, the number of “couples” also increased. Also, in 10th standard, the number of people going for tuitions increased, and this seemed to cause an increase in the general levels of pocket money.

There were people in my class who would stay in class for lunch break (when everyone else went out to the field) because knew they knew that raiding a certain classmate’s bag would yield them a rich haul of perks (the guy was simultaneously blading some four females, so his stocks always remained high). Then, unlike pepsi, perk could be consumed discreetly. Copious quantities of it were consumed while sitting in class (i used to sit in the first bench so that I could have unhindered view to a certain junior classroom, but  that didn’t stop me from eating perk in class).

I remember that on a certain day in August that year, the shop near the school ran out of Perk stocks. It was the day after rakshabandhan, and given the quantity of unsolicited blade that was happening then, the number of rakhis tied had seen a sudden increase. And that had to be reciprocated – with Perk of course. Some rakhis weren’t acknowledged, which meant that this was probably the only day in more than a month when certain people DIDN’T give Perks to certain other people.

The first four of my five “pursuits” were low-cost (three of those were in school; and even the fourth was before I had drawn my first salary, so you can’t blame me). All four of them put together, I don’t think I spent more than a hundred rupees on blade. This included ten rupees that I had spent on a perk for #1. She had dodged me all day, and by the time I gave it to her at the end of the day, it had melted in my pocket.

I think I should incorporate this scene in one of the movies I’m going to make. Boy chases girl all day, trying to give her a Perk. She skilfully dodges him all day, and evades his offer of Perk. And each time she evades him, he is shown putting the perk back in his pocket. Finally at the end of the day, they meet. It’s time to go – in the distance you can see her father on the bike, waiting to pick her up. And he gives her the perk. She opens it. The perk has melted. And then her heart melts. Ok I must stop now.

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