We were having brunch with some friends last weekend and started talking about real estate prices in Bangalore. Everybody had examples of how real estate prices have gone through the roof in Bangalore. After a few oohs and aahs and stories about lost opportunities for investment, our host told us of a house whose market price was about 5 crores but it was on sale for 70 lakhs!!!
Of course our interest was piqued. So while everybody listened in rapt attention, he regaled us with the story of the house. The house is in a prime location and there is nothing wrong with it. Except an entire family of five committed suicide in the house 5-6 years back. The owner worked at one of the big names in the IT industry but lost all his fortune during the downturn. So one day the family of five- husband,wife and three kids decided to end it all. The story goes that since that day, nothing that enters the compound wall of that house has ever come out alive!!!! And of course nobody wants to buy the property.It sounds like something out of a horror movie and I don’t know if I want to believe it but listening to the story on a Sunday afternoon in the company of friends took me back to a time when exchanging “ghost” stories was a favorite way to while away time. Our group of friends would huddle together in the evenings during summer vacation and regale each other with so called ghost stories whose origin was questionable at best. Nonetheless we all enjoyed listening to them, even getting scared by the chilling details. The moment power went out in the area, we would come out of our houses and gather up on the terrace or the park and invariably somebody would start telling us about this one time that they were visiting their village and saw a ghost. That would be the beginning of an entire session of ghost stories told with such conviction that any listener would believe them.
My sister was probably the best ghost story teller and the most notorious. She would not only tell the scariest, most bizarre stories, she would even get a couple of pranksters in the group to sneak up to the person who was easily scared and startle them when she was narrating the scariest part of the story. Of course it would lighten the moment and everybody would go from being scared to laughing out loud.At our hostel, there was always a new ghost rumor doing the rounds every year. One year it would be a tree in the compound that was haunted, another year, somebody would spread the rumor that you could hear the sound of anklets in one of the rooms all night long. Of course somebody would invariably come back from summer vacation to tell us that they had seen a ghost on the freeway or heard an interesting ghost story at home. It was all an attempt to capture the attention of listeners and of course to terrify some newcomers and then laugh about it with friends.
I even remember our parents exchanging ghost stories with family and friends. At social functions when most guests have left and only close family and friends are present or late at night while sleeping on the terrace, the adults would indulge in a session of ghost stories. Of course at the end of it they would all dismiss them as a bunch of stories but that didn’t stop them from enjoying the session in all its scary detail.I think exchanging ghost stories is a favorite entertainer for Indians of all ages J. Boys even use them as ice-breaker when trying to talk to a girl. Sometimes even to impress them with their bravado in the face of chilling danger. Oh, by the way, none of these stories have any copyrights on them. Once you narrate a story, the listener is free to use it as their own. The intent is not to plagiarize, only to entertain more people.
And I am happy to notice that the current generation of teenagers in India is no different from us. They still come outside and play in the evenings, huddle together at parties and yes, exchange ghost stories. Here’s to more generations of ghost story tellers J