Panty Raids

Panty raiders were recently hitting the headlines in Tokyo. The police were looking for the man or men who forcibly stole the panties from women walking down Tokyo roads. In the latest case, a man in his twenties tore down the panties from an eighteen year old girl and fled on a mobike. Another woman sacred off a would be panty robber, by screaming loudly.

Picturing the scenario, my mind travelled back to yester-years, remembering experiences, not similar, yet having something to do with panties. Don't get me wrong, dwelling on panty matters was not the usually done thing, let along tearing them off ladies' bottoms. But panties did figure as hot wagers in some challenges thrown and reckless bets placed in youthful exuberance.

That was during our days of boarding-school and hostel life. Much has been written on the merits and demerits of boarding-life vis-à-vis home-life. I myself was totally a boarding-house and hostel product, having spent the majority of my student years away from the eagle-eye of parental care. Despite experiencing first hand the early pathos and trauma of home-sickness, I owe it to my boarding life the discipline it inculcated in me, the sense of independence and I acquired to fend for myself. And of course, one had a better opportunity to make lasting friends and plan pranks and adventures together.

I remember the times when at the drop of a hat some would be vvvrrrooooooomm ..mming down the broad South Parade in Bangalore at seventy miles an hour on mobikes, suddenly braking to screech and skid into a complete 360 degrees turn, letting fly swords of sparks in high air, set off by the nickle-plated exhaust mufflers scraping the tarmac. Only to win the wager, whose sparks flew the highest. There were also the simple "I dare you" type of wagers, daring someone to do an act often provoking enough to make him venture and justify his ego. From as simple things as getting introduced to the new girl in town, to stealing a kiss from the fiery local tomboy. The more serious being, the ones like serenading with guitars in the dead of night impersonating ghosts in the local grave yard, to even flicking a policeman's headgear.

And then of course, there were also the panty raids. For some strange reasons, panties ranked very high as wager trophies. For the heck of it, somebody would throw the challenge and somebody would pick up the gauntlet. And at the end of it all, someone in the neighbourhood would be minus their panties. It wasn't really as horrendous or daring an act as that of the Japanese mobike riders on Tokyo roads. The target invariably used to be the girl's school next door, from among the colourful apparel that the girls left drying at their hostel windows -- the ones one couldn't help spying on as one who ventured, was to get this done in the dead of night, by scaling walls, getting past chowkidars, scrambling up the rain water drain pipes, doing the balancing monkey-act to reach the trophies perched on the window bars, and returning, -- all this, without getting detected. I shudder to think what could have been the consequences had anyone been found out.

The wager having been won, the drill required the raided panties to be returned! This was a cardinal rule. Most dared not return them to the window bars, but would merely bundle them and throw across the wall, hoping they would land below the windows. It was always assumed that the night winds would be blamed for the mischief. The raiders were satisfied as long as there were no complaints and the panty raids remained a secret only to the group.

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