01 April, 2007

Free hugs

Being a vivid newspaper reader, I was attracted by this news that someone in Australia has been giving free hugs in the down streets of Sydney. His intentions were that if the small hug could inculcate a small ray of hope in a stranger, the small hug can help a few hundred souls in relinquishing despair for a moment. I was very much inspired by this hug concept, and thought of doing it in a busy street of Chennai.
I was sure, my friends will make a merry of me if I talk to them about this when we meet in the usual Lakshmi Stores corner. I was excited by the idea. Oh! How nice it could be to give hugs to everyone. My mind started pondering about a suitable busy street. I was about to talk it to my family people. I knew that my mom may start abusing me for such a thought, in a traditional, cultured family. Is it not a good culture? Why should I feel shy about it! Also, I started feeling very romantic about it.
Oh... god! If this news spread like anything and plenty of young girls come around and want to be hugged.
Will the private channels be with their cameras!
Will I have any problem if I become too popular?
How will my own community people think about it?
Will I not get a good girl, who gets attracted by my thought and tight hug and become a great friend, partner for ever.
What will I do if more than a girl gets attracted? OK.... probably I can choose... that should not be a problem... Hmmm...
I did not want to tell my family about this idea. I started getting thrilled. I wanted to have a cool shower and visit my friends. It was a very hot day. I went to my garden and took the garden hose. I started having a good shower by connecting the garden hose on to the tap. Oh...what a pleasure it is to have a cold water shower in the open space, on a sunny evening. My thoughts were again on the free hugs.
After the shower got dressed in a cool Kurta/Pyjama and walked towards the street corner. Ramesh was returning back from work.
“Hi ... da.. whats..up... Had a very tiring day today.. Let me go home and come back after a quick shower” – he said.
“I met Jack in the train... Murali and Jack should be here within half an hour. They are purchasing some CD’s in Friends Videos shop” – he added.
I waited with patience. My friends turned up and I told them one by one about my crazy idea. They started laughing on hearing my idea.
“I do not think that will work out here in Madras... da” – Murali said.
“Why not...?” – I asked.
I was waiting for Anand. He was busy talking to a young girl who was just 8 years old. He always does that. As soon as he arrived, I told him and he started encouraging my idea. Jack challenged me.
“If you could do FREE HUGS for one hour in a busy street in Chennai, I shall take you for a free trip to Pondicherry..” – said Jack.
“OK... da.. I shall do it...” – I replied.
After discussing with friends I decided to do “FREE HUGS” at Ranganathan Street, T.Nagar.
My friends said that they may not stand near me, but will we watching from a distance. I decided to write the poster with Indian Ink, after everyone in my family go to bed. I knew that my first critique will be my younger sister. I also wanted to keep her informed, since she could bring all her friends to the scene and I could give free hugs to them.
The D-day arrived. I reached Ranganathan Street and looked at the crowd from the overbridge near the Railway station. The crowd was at its peak. I carried the board “FREE HUGS” and went and stood near the pillaiyar temple and prayed to pillaiyar.
As I had closed my eyes while praying from the street, I felt somebody scratching my back. I opened up my eyes to see a big buffalo, about to hit me with its horns. Oh... god. Lucky escape. I held the board high and started walking here and there. There were two middle aged ladies coming. Since they were looking literate I showed them the board “FREE HUGS”. They looked at me and gave a cold stare and walked suddenly into a fancy store.
But I heard them saying “Oh... he looks like educated. But what to do. Probably must have worked hard for his exams and would have become mental.... I pity his parents.”
Then I saw a group of girls totally ignoring my board and giggling and walking on the other side of a bangle store.
A young boy on seeing my board came towards me and he was my first hug. He said “I have been longing for a hug. Thank you and keep it up!”
Then a group of some Arts college boys came towards me and said “ Ithoda…. Katti pudi vaidhyam kuddukka vandhutaru….. “.
They brought a stinking beggar from somewhere and gave him a five rupee coin before me and told him something in his ears. The man started walking towards me. I knew this was a challenge. He looked like he had not taken bath since he was born. There were plenty of bruises all around his body and he had wrapped the body with just a simple towel and was wearing a canvas shoe.
I just said to myself “Oh…god… let me hug him and tell the world… what he deserves ...”.
When I went near him in a hugging gesture, he said “Sámi…. Let me tell you the truth. I was given 5 rupee by those people to walk near you. But you seem to be very kind and want to hug me. So…kind of you… I have not taken shower for many years and please do not hug me… I appreciate your intention…”
I did not have words to say.
Suddenly a group of men wearing white colour dhotis and sporting a white towel on their shoulder came towards me. They abused me very badly. They said that they belong to some organisation working towards improvement of a unprivileged community. I could make out by their dressing and looks that they have improved very well. They said that people like me are a shame for their culture. They abused me that I am trying to degrade the culture by trying to attract people of opposite sex and hug them in public, and thus bringing a degrade to the culture.
On seeing the confusion within a few minutes, a policeman arrived. Someone of the group went and whispered something in the policeman’s ears and he came towards me fiercely.
“Do you have permission for doing such thing in public?” – He asked.
I said “ Sir…. You need to understand what I am trying to do. I am not forcing anyone for a hug. Impressed by something which happened in a foreign country, I wanted to try the same in Ranganathan Street and give more secured feeling to those who needed it… and ….”
Before I could say anything someone came and held my shirt’s collar. He pushed me and the police had to interfere. My ‘FREE HUG’ poster was torn. I managed to get up from the road. The police warned me to get away from the scene.
I walked towards a tea stall near the station and had a look at the over bridge where my friends were supposed to be. I could not see them in the crowd. I ordered for a cup of tea and sat on the tea bench.
An auto passed by splashing the slush on me. I looked at the Auto and saw a board on the back side of the auto “BE INDIAN BUY INDIAN”.
I smiled to myself.
"It is already 8 'O' clock. Could you please wake up daddy..." my daughter woke me up. I threw the pillow which I was hugging walking to the Toilet thinking about the dream.
Original pic courtesy: Dheera
Morphed by: self


Sundar Narayanan said...

yipppeeee !! I am not alone.. enna maadhiriye thooka kalakkathhtula kandadha penaththa innoru jeevan indha ulagaththula vulavarar!


I will ask my wife to read your post.. This is like finding alien life in your backyard..another alien!

nice one. I was pretty sure this didnt happen for real! I think both of us should go to a "boochaandi" temple and pray !

Chakra said...

For a moment I thot its true. Then on a closer look at the photo, I could see that it had been morphed. You revealed that at the end. :))

Cyberkitty said...

ha ha lol, very good well written story ! I'd have given u a hug for sure !

RandomThoughts said...

Inspired by Munnabhai's "Jaadoo ki Jappi". I almost believed your story to be true! Enjoyed myself though! Greta imagination Bala!


Jeevan said...

Really I though its happen sometimes!! You have taken a beautiful thought of free hugging in your dream; sure whatever u dreamed would be the truth if your dream comes alive. Pls give me a hug now dear friend:) as a strength to my sick by cold. Hugsssss…

Balaji S Rajan said...

Sundar :- Appa... orey santhoshama... Ha..ha.. thooka kalakathula ...niraiya nadakum. Just read about this Free Hugs and imagined how it would have been if I had got the thought when I was a bachelor. Ippa ninaichennu sola mudiyuma.... Hmmm....

Nama yen solanumm.... sola koodathu sola koodathu...

Hope your wife enjoyed reading!

Balaji S Rajan said...


It would have been nice if it is true. But still why all problem. Chumma imagined about it. It would have been a very humourous if written in tamil.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Nice to know that you enjoyed reading. LOL...

Balaji S Rajan said...


Inspired by Free Hugs happening in abroad especially in Australia.


Thanks brother for your comments. My big hugs for you.

வேதா said...

i could easily find out that its a dream since such thing never happen in india:). ofcourse its always comforting to get a nice hug, but its very odd to our culture and maybe in future we will be used to it.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Yes... you are right. In abroad hugging is very common and there is nothing in it. A man hugging another man is not liked and it gives wrong signal. But at the same time it is so different to our country. Well known friends and colleagues do not mind hugging the opposite sex here. I shivered first time when one of my colleague came and hugged me when I was about to leave on holidays. Needless to say, I got her hugs again when I returned back from India.

Again, when some of the colleagues leave the team or job, they give big hugs which is really nice way of showing the love and care. There is no vulgarity in it. We have got used to all these hugs now. At the same time, there are people in abroad too who do not hug everyone. They have their own reservations. I have worked with few Ladies, who used to keep a quite good distance from men. They like Indian men because we always keep distance.

In our culture it is strange but the younger generations are changing. Even today when I hug my daughter I forget all my worries and I can understand the comfort it should give her. My children get big hugs everyday. Hugs are a great way of giving comforts.

arvindh said...

Good narrative here! Like your sense of humour.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks and welcome here. Why no updates in your blog. Every weekend during my travelling, when I see some object to sketch, I think about you. Atleast this week I should buy my kit for sketching.

expertdabbler said...

ranganathan st la neenga rendu kayya lesa virichu vechu nadandhaale ellarkum avanga kekkamale free hugs kudkalaam sir :)

gud one :)

Balaji S Rajan said...

ROTFL.... PK unga comment super.....LOL... I am still laughing.

Kavi said...

For a moment, i thought was this real...? And then realised it was sleep walking !

Good read ! Grand intentions

Dan said...

Beautiful, humorous and thought provoking

Dubukku said...

Sonna namba mateenga...naanum itha kelvi pattathulerndhu genuine- a senju parkanumnu nenaichen..ofcourse not in chennai though...just here.

Nice writeup Balaji :)

Balaji S Rajan said...

Kavi - I wanted it to be real. Thanks to let me know that you felt so.

Dan - Thanks, I am surprised to know that it is thought provoking.

Dubukku - Sollunga... When? Where? I know that for sure it may not be in East Ham. I will be there to cover the programme.

sowmya said...

Well narrated post. :)

"Eppdiyo kanavula bachelor life kondatiteenga "

Narayanan Venkitu said...

kalakkitada..kalakkitta.!! I was wondering..when this happened.!!

Jo said...

Too good bro! Although the post was funny throughout, that beggar coming to you and asking you not to hug him made me speechless...

Very good one. :-)

krystyna said...

Hi Balaji!
I came here through Jeevan's blog and want to give you a big free hug! Great, funny well-writen, interesting post! Fantastic story! I wonder what will be happen if your daughter didn't come to you!

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks. I am already a married bachelor. LOL..meaning visiting family in the weekend.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Hey.. I had so much of plan. I wanted to put in 2 parts and was planning to write more. But later thought to bring it down. Just a wild imagination how these things would have been in those days.

Balaji S Rajan said...


I have practically hugged lots of poors and orphan children. I have had tears while hugging those orphans. Hugging another man in western world gives a wrong signal. Anyhow it is good to hug someone whom you love and care.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks for your visit. The dream would have been longer if my daughter had not woken me up according to the story. Just a wild imagination. Because hugging strangers that too opposite sex in public is still not much accepted in places like Madras.

Rama Iyer said...

very well written piece. i really thought it to be true till well almost the end.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and your comments.

Roopesh said...

nice story. enjoyed the concept.
have u thot of implementing it anytime?

Kittu said...

Amazing stuff balaji. You have narrated it very well and have definitely made it feel like real :-)

kamal style'la kattipudi vaidhyam for you. Happy hugging :)