Of Dungeons, Spaceships and Motorcycle Diaries

“Come, Kothi, let us explore the dungeons?”


“Yes – the dungeons. I have found the path to a dungeon where we shall find wonderful treasures. But before that we have to fight all manner of monsters. But that is not something I am sure two heroes like you and me can't handle. Or rather a hero like me and a sidekick like you.”

Well – these are not lines from a fantasy novel. They were spoken right here in our real world. Many years back. With me at the receiving end. I was the Kothi being referred to in the dialogue. My name Karthik was shortened to Karthi by my parents which underwent a further transformation to Kothi when it emerged from my friend Gotham's lips. He was not the only one to maul my name in that fashion. The boys at school used to take it a step further and taken the word’s Kannada meaning while referring to me, making me the class monkey. Anyways I shall keep that story for another day. Today let us return to this dungeon he was planning to lead me to.

This dungeon happened to be the dark landing under the stairs. It was a dusty place that had lot of odds and ends lying around. The treasure we hoarded generally consisted of cast away lottery tickets, covers of tablets, smooth or shiny stones and colored chalk pieces. We ran a thriving business in these commodities scavenging them from all over the place and trading them with each other. The monsters that we had to deal with were mostly cockroaches, spiders and crickets. On an especially unlucky day, we would  run into a rat or a toad. On such days we beat a hasty retreat so as to live on to fight again another day.

“All hands on the deck, take positions. Meteoroids ahead! Re-calibrate course!”

That was us again - from sword and sorcery on to science fiction. Gotham again was the captain and yours truly the all ‘hands on the board’. We were on a mission to outer space. The rocket control mechanism was created on the wall of our corridor using the colored chalk pieces we had hoarded.

Not that we restricted ourselves to speculative fiction. Adventure fiction was also being created in the very same corridors between our two houses, whose walls hosted the virtual control panel of the space ships. Up and down the corridors and back we went on long bike journeys on our tricycles, visiting numerous strange lands on our adventures of the mind.

While these stories were being played out in the corridors outside the four walls of our homes, it was not going entirely unnoticed by the powers that be within the four walls – the parents. While the sight of their son’s imagination, initiation and leadership was causing one set of parents to glow with pride, their son’s lack of these qualities plus a tendency to be easily influenced was causing great consternation in the other pair. Which middle class parents can afford to stand by and watch as their ward gets all set to lose the race even before it began? So it was time for them to take quick remedial action. The first set of actions were reactive in nature - they involved stern rebuke and goading to up the game. The second set were more proactive in nature, based on a root cause analysis. Deficiency in general knowledge was found to be one of the differential factors between the kids. To bridge the gap six volumes of ‘Knowledge Bank’ series published by Pustak Mahal publications were procured and daily prep sessions were organized to boost the kid’s general knowledge.

The sessions however did not do much to change the interpersonal dynamics between Kothi and Gotham. But then winding up the initiative as a failure would be a blow to parental authority. Luck however brought a happy resolution to the deadlock - a stray first rank in one of the terms at school that earned the writer of this post an epithet of ‘Fluke Horse’ from his surprised class teacher, satisfied the parents that the desired results had been achieved. While a clear cause effect relationship could not established between the two, the parents who were by now as tired of the prep sessions as was the kid, were only too happy to gain a face saving pretext to put an end to these futile and mutually torturous sessions with the general knowledge books.

So it came about that things went back to normal with satisfactory outcomes for all parties concerned. And they all lived happily ever after in their respective real and fairy worlds.


  1. Hahaha - THAT was a fun account :)

  2. Fun read. Thanks Karthick for a good read.


  3. That was great story about the two wise men of Gotham! But then I may be seriously dialling down the influence of Kothi. I do identify with the merchandise you ran in the dungeons, angst and ire of your parents, their joy at sighting land.

    1. Glad you were able to identify with the story, Umashankar - these are all those little memories of childhood that have survived the ravages of life through the rough seas of adulthood.

  4. Ahh! Nice! I shall start noting down everything funny so that I might not forget them when I come to your age. I can sense the nostalgia flowing from every word of that story.

  5. Thanks Tanim. When you are as old as I am, memories are all that matter.


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