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Summer, 2005.  Hot, sunnny and  “make you wash your Fruit of the Looms twice a  day” humidity in Chicago. So damn hot for 3months, that, natives go mad and wear next to nothing. Great time to go for a leisurely sight-adichufying walk along Lake Michigan.

The Shaata 5 were now the Trimmed 3. Prajvin and Kartik had moved on to bigger things, namely co-ops! Hobbit(Nikhil Sherman), Motte(Sandy G Rao) and me were a man short on rent. We posted an ad listing under “Room-mate Wanted” on IIT Bazaar and a week later, found our helpless prey.

Nikhil announced that we would be having a guest for dinner that evening. A German girl named Claudia. I was, as the resident Deutsche sprecher, very excited about having a guinea pig to say “Guten Abend! Wie geht’s?” and continue the rest of the conversation in safe English.

In our excitement, we forgot to tell Choithanya abou the addition for the evening. Around, 6Pm, claudia shows up with Nikhil. Motte said “Hallo, I yam Sandy”. I said “Wie geht’s, ich heise Prithvi”, and Chaithanya said – “Yallo, I yaam Choi-thanya” and spilt his drink, thereby wetting the shaat-ular regions. Instead of getting up and excuse himself, he erected an invisible wall, swivelled his chair around, and went to work trying to dry the area with heat generation from palm-on-crotch friction.  It was obvious, he had never interacted with a fraulein.

Meanwhile, Nikhil burst into giggles and decided to order Chinese food for the night. 30mins later, Choi-thanya was designated to go downstairs and pick up the food. He returned with the brown bag neatly stuffed with Crab Rangoon, Schezuan Chicken and Chicken Flied Lice, and we promptly attacked it with mighty impressive Kung-cutlery-fu.

Once the meal was over, and every rast glain of flied lice was finished, Choi-thanya(the designated cleaner-upper) decided to save himself from excruciating small talk and went to the kitchen to clean up. A minute later, he emerged screaming – “Look what I found, look what I found!!”. We thought there were some lost rangoons and therefore started salivating. You know the deal with Chinese food..30mins later, still hungry? Same rule applies to Chinese women too, btw.

But, instead, he pulls out a handful of fortune cookies and looks at us quizzingly. We weren’t sure what was happening. Then he asked – “Whaat are these?”.

Nikhil looked at me first. I smiled.

Nikhil said – “Escargot”.

Choithanya – “Whaat ees thaat?”.

Nikhil – “Escargot man! Snails..Chinese style!”.

Choithanya – ” How do youu yeat thyem?” .

Nikhil – “Bring me the pliers and I will show you” .(As broke graduate students, we did not have a nut-cracker).

Choithanya returned with the un-wrapped fortune cookie and the pliers.

Nikhil  – “Ehhh, you’re an engineering student, no? Put the Escargot between the plier jaws and crack it open! It’s shell is very hard, so use a lot of force!”.

Choithanya – “…………………Crackle…Pop..Tchwat……” and a thousand little pieces of fortune cookie fell to the floor.

By this time, Sandy, Nikhil and me are rolling on the ground, putting Tirumala’s rolling devotees to shame, fists clenched and laughing so hard it hurt.

Choithanya caught the fortune that was fluttering to the ground and read aloud – ” With many years comes the wisdom of ages”.



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