Anuroop and I first met when we were three and a half years old. It was way too early in life to know what our first meeting was like, but I do remember that we used to play together in school. Back then, “playing” mostly consisted of running around the residential building that our school used for one section of kindergarten.
However, I think his leadership skills were on display rather early, as I clearly remember another classmate asking when we were five or six whether I was “part of Bunty gang or Anuroop gang”. I don’t remember which gang I was part of then, but over the years, Bunty and Anuroop ended up in the same gang, as other poles emerged in class to take the other side.
Some sort of leadership skill was also evident in fifth or sixth standard, when Bunty and Anuroop decided to run away from school, literally. I can’t comment too much about this incident since I myself had bunked school that day, but I heard that they stepped out during lunch break on the pretext of fetching a stray ball, and ended up walking all the way to Bannerghatta. And then, the story goes (I don’t have first hand information on this) that they started feeling hungry and decided to walk back to their respective homes.
I will leave out talking about what formed a rather large part of Anuroop’s life in our latter years together in school, and his college years. I’m skipping talking about this because I think it’s impolite to talk about that on a day when he is getting married – so I will let you infer what kind of episodes I’m leaving out of this essay. However, you can get in touch with me off the record, and I think these episodes are worth a “three beer conversation”. Among other things, it involves the usage of dictionaries and phone caller IDs (which was a big thing in the days of landlines).
Ninth or tenth standard was around the time when Anuroop and KK and I formed a “club” called NBA (Nammoora Basketball Aatagaararu). We would all get to school early in the morning (two hours before it opened), and spend our time playing half-court basketball. Ninth standard was also the time when I remember having some fight with Anuroop that started trivially, but ended with me getting really physically aggressive. I take this opportunity t0 (highly belatedly) apologise to him for that.
Anuroop had always been good at drawing. And he took it to another level in ninth standard when he started drawing cartoons. I clearly remember his first ever political cartoon – it showed the then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda sitting on a donkey, and (the then Congress President) Sitaram Kesri lighting the donkey’s tail on fire. I really don’t know if he has preserved that drawing. It’s a classic, let me assure you.
His cartooning went to another level when he was in college, as he won inter-college competitions left, right and centre. I remember this fest at PESIT (in 2001, I think), where he was pissed off because he had won the cartooning contest and got “only” ?150. I had come second in the (much better funded) programming contest and won ?2500 or something.
After college, Anuroop gave up on cartooning and took up wildlife photography. This was possibly a consequence of his passion for wildlife that had started from an early age (in ninth standard, he had gotten into a major fight with another classmate after the latter killed a leech). Trust me, his pictures are absolutely brilliant.
Somewhere in between, I remember asking him if he will stick to photographing wild animals, or if he would take on more lucrative professions such as wedding photography. “I’d rather take pictures of monkeys than humans”, he had declared, before getting into people photography anyway. And he has done a spectacular job of that as well (OK this instagram account is private, because it has pictures of children, I guess).
I’ve known him for over 33 years now, so however much I write, there will always be something or the other I would have left out. I will end with a couple of anecdotes. Ok the first is not really an anecdote – in his school days, Anuroop was an incredibly early sleeper. If you called his house any time after 9, you could at best expect one of his parents to pick and inform you that “puTTu” had gone to bed. Soon we had all learned better to finish our business with him earlier in the evening.
The other story comes from our 10th standard pre-board preparatory exam, when we had copied from each other liberally (thus defeating the purpose of these pre-boards). I remember there was this one question on “habit forming substances” and their ill effects. Anuroop thought it was a bright idea to copy from KK, and asked him what the answer to this question was. KK put a thumb to his lips, indicating drink, specifically alcohol.
However, alcohol is something very foreign to Anuroop (I don’t think he has ever consumed it), so he decided to interpret it as water. And he wrote a 1000 word essay on “habitat forming substances” and on water conservation and all such. He’s always been goofy like that.
He is getting married today, to Chetna. I wish I could have been there in Jalandhar for their wedding, but a combination of circumstances means I wasn’t able to travel. I wish them all the best, and a happy married life. In any case, I’m not missing their wedding completely. They have another “leg” in Bangalore next weekend, and I’ll surely be there for that.
And maybe Chetna will buy me those three beers sometime, even if it’s a habit forming substance.