Friday, May 30, 2008

Quirks of Fate

One wicked nut very sweetly tagged this blog, so it was only natural that I drag Marvin into this. So here goes:

Six quirks that can make the beauty a beast!!

Six quirks that make Marvin ever so special!


B &B :When a conversation (especially a business meeting) threatens to be particularly boring. I zone out , mentally.and in my minds eye I sketch out a caricature of the most annoying person present. And smile. Often people mistake me for being daft for smiling at nothing!

M :I do not, repeat DO NOT lend my bike to anyone... In a dire emergency I had to give it to a friend of mine... And it pained... But never after that...




B&B: I am obsessed with Detective Inspector John Rebus, from the Ian Rankin novels. And my favourite pass time is thinking of ways to impress him, had he existed in real life! He is the imaginary friend I often turn to, when I am feeling really really at outs with the world

M :I can break into laughter in the middle of the most serious conversation... just because my mind thinks up something on a tangent which might be very funny to me... and most of the times, my imagination involves visualising something outrageously funny inspired by the serious words of the person in front...





B&B :I thrive on gossip. Even if it has nothing to do with me whatsoever, I love listening to the very real stories (of course all trumped and spiced up). Not in the vampish, oh-I-can-use-this-to-hurt-someone kind of way. Just innocent (ahem) curious sort of way. In fact, gossip more often than not, helps me wipe out the blues.

M : I am a bit of a devil's advocate...
as in... I love discussions... some take it as argument and stay away, but not me... in fact sometimes talk against my convictions, just to lead people into a discussion.... poor, unsuspecting souls, them people... no pity....



B&B : I love the nights. When most of the world is sleeping, I love waking my imagination up. Thoughts wake up feeling refreshed and I itch to type. In fact I do most of my typing in the dead of the night!

M : am otherwise quite a peace loving person, but i just blow my top off if someone talks to me in a derogatory way about india and indians... like we indians will never improve... in india what else do you expect... etc etc... i just feel like telling that person to go shoot himself up into space....


B&B : People often sing in the bathroom! I dance! (Stop imagining it!) I think it is the only moment I am assured nobody’s watching, so I play a little tune for me inside my head and groove to it under the shower!! No wonder I take ages in the bathroom!!

M :I love collecting books... all sorts of them... even though I might have read them beforehand... and even if I know I am not likely to read them ever... some books just catch my fancy and I purchase them... and as on date I have a collection of three hundred and seventy one of them...



B&B : I am possessive about Marvin! Well way toooooo possessive. I bristle every time I think that there exists someone amidst his friends, who could mean more to him than I. There are some of them I am comfortable with, but its like – he’s my best friend and I quite unwilling to share him with anybody. Unfair as it seems, there it is.

M: I love having raindrops hit my face... I know most people like getting drenched in rain... but I like raindrops to hit my face... a little bit of pain... a numbing sensation... and so much calm... in fact whenever I go out on a jog in the rains, I do so with my face turned upwards... for the same reason....

And now to tag some more:
Rain Girl
Crimson Feet
Mavron
d sinner
cinderella
and
Pri

Would love to know more about you guys, so please indulge!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You rock my world

He stared at the fifteen emails lined up in his inbox. All unread. Yet, he knew what they would say.

The one from his cousin Sameer would read , ‘Yo Bro! Wassup? Happy Birthday Dude! Go grab some beer and some meat ;) Catch ya later!’ Even the language of the email hadn’t changed in years. That one mail, once a year though arrived quite unfailingly.

Shiv would write, ‘Hi! Howdy? Happy Birthday! Was trying to call but cudnt get thru. Have fun k?’ The fact that Shiv was famous for not spending on telephone calls was not just famous, it was legendary.

Mr. Adams, his immediate superior would write, ‘Prajwal, Happy Birthday. Wish you a year full of success with us. Hope you are not planning to leave early for the sake of a pseudo celebration.’ Ill humour which always made it really easy for him to throw up.

The prim and proper Jenny, who sat two tables across him, who evidently had a crush on him and who he tried to avoid in every possible way would have written, “Dear Mr. Prajwal, wishing you many happy returns of the day. Hope all your wishes are fulfilled. Regards, Jenny Stevenson.’

He logged out of his account without bothering to open those all predictable mails. Emails were so impersonal! He was a fine one to be saying that, considering he could not recollect a single moment in his life when he had taken the pen to the paper with the thought of writing to someone. He had a lot of friends, who were waiting for him to say the word ‘Party’ and then the night would be lost in the commotion of booze and noise. He didn’t feel like partying tonight. Tonight he felt lonely. Tonight he did not want to run away from the loneliness and drown his feelings in cheap jokes and raunchy laughter. Tonight he wanted to explore the why of his loneliness.

He stepped into his empty apartment. The message light on his answering machine was blinking. He frowned at the machine. Nobody every called him on the landline. In the age of mobile phones, who wanted to call on the landline and speak to the lifeless and unresponsive drones of the answering machines? It had to be some tele-marketing smart-ass. He might as well listen to it and erase it. Free even that space for some more emptiness to fill the void.

“Yeah Right! The answering machine! Anyway hope you hear this before twelve tonight mr. I-am-too-busy-to-pick-up-my-phone! Happy Birthday!”

It couldn’t be? Of course it was! She called up every year on his birthday. His sweet Sasha. He smiled at the answering machine. His first genuine smile of the year. He could feel the warmth of the afternoon sun, in the midst of a darkness approaching midnight, as he pictured two toddlers standing at the gate of his house. Sasha and he. Seven years old. Bright coloured water bottles dangled from their necks and small school bags hung from their shoulders. He did not remember what it was they spoke about. But he remembered standing there and talking and talking and talking some more.

She would always be his confidante and faithfully follow him with her sword of twig, as he waged a war with the other boys in the society. Knights and warriors.

Gosh! She had grown up to be on jaw-dropping beauty. He would very proudly flaunt her on his bike as he dropped her to college. Every evening out, she was his date.

He remembered that one time when he and his guy buddies had gotten drunk. He had a submission the next morning and he still had some mechanical drawings to complete. But he had a splitting headache, effects of the hangover! She had come, bunked her college and her beloved lecture of history and come to him. She had, of course, abused him as she put her brains to completing his submissions, but she had saved his day.

He had fallen in love with her. And he had fled.

She had tried writing to him. He had kept silent.

She tried calling him. He never returned her call.

But she still called.

He was still staring at the answering machine. He looked up. There right above the phone stood her farewell gift to him. A photograph of the two them, laughing after they had just, won a street race on his bike. She was sitting behind him, with her arms around his neck and he was looking like he owned the world. Splashed across the photo were the words ‘You rock my world!’

Maybe he should call her back this time. Life, he was told was full of surprises. Life, he knew was too short to spend feeling lonely most of the time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I think, therefore I am...

Brows knitted, he was a picture of concentration. After all, it was an affront to his ego that a problem in organic chemistry could remain unsolved for an hour and a half...

His brand new iPhone came to life, announcing the intention of an unknown number to contact him. Unknown number. Number. Numbers we all are today, he mused... He was brought out of his reverie by another call from the same number. Who on earth could be calling him, of all people, from an unknown landline number?? And that too, when everyone he knew had received categorical instructions not to disturb him in any way from a week before his exam began.

The phone rang yet again. It was more of irritation than anything else. If nothing, he would have to pick it up to stop the unknown nuisance from keeping him off halogenation of polyunsaturates in one step.

"Hello?"
"Can I speak to Amit?"
"Speaking, may I know who is this?"
"I am Rekha, from Columbia Asia hospital. May I know if you have are related to Mrs and Mr Suresh Sharma?"
"Yes, I am their son."
"I have called to inform you that your parents have had an accident..."
"Accident?"
"Well, a road rage incident, prima facie... Mr Sharma has been stabbed and Mrs Sharma, hit on the head with some heavy object. She was mumbling your name, and in her phone book I found your number so I thought I would let you know..."
"Okay, I'll be there in 15 minutes..."

He put a bookmark before he closed the book, and put on a pair of chinos before he realised he did not have his car with him today. Heading for the telephone directory, he found himself looking for a dial-a-cab number.

The hint of an extra smiling Gandhi on the back of a hundred rupee note ensured that the cab screeched to a stop within the promised 15 minutes.

Walking into the hospital, his subconscious could not resist a cursory search for the sensor above the gate. At the reception, he found both the women manning th desk trying to assure an elderly lady that the meals provided to her daughter in law were pure vegetarian. He waited, and in a minute or so apparently the lady decided she could trust the hospital with the food that was being served. Looking at their name tabs, he located the one who had called her.

"Excuse me, Ms Rekha. I am Amit Sharma. May I know where my parents are?"
"Of course. Your mother is in the trauma care center on the second floor, and your dad is in the ICU. Straight down the coridoor, first right."
"Thank you."
"And Mr Amit, I believe you will find Dr Grover right there in the ICU."

"Dr Grover?"
"Yes?"
"Hello, I am Amit, son of Mr Sharma. What exactly has happened to my parents?"
"Well son, your father has been stabbed. Multiple stabs from a short knife."
"And how serious is it?"
"Well, most of the wounds are not very serious, but I am a bit worried about two. One which just missed the wind pipe by an inch or so, and another one which reached the peritoneum... I mean.."
"I know sir, the membrane lining the abdominal cavity.. Did it penetrate and reach the intestines?"
"Thankfully not. But your father has lost a lot of blood."
"That is not a problem. I too am A negative, and so is my cousin. You can take 300 ml from each of us. Further if you need, I will contact the Rotary blood bank. I am sure they will be able to provide some."

"And what about mom? How is her condition?"
"She is in a better condition. A head injury, apparently from a heavy, blunt object. A mild concussion, nothing much. However she is in a state of shock. If you want you can take her home. However we would prefer to keep her under observation for 24 hours."
"Of course, doc. You know best."
"I think she would like to meet you. You can go talk to her, but do not let her exert herself too much. The trauma care center is on the second floor."
"thanks..."


"Dr Grover.."
"Ya Rekha, what happened?"
"How is that elderly gentleman who was brought in with stabs?"
"He is stable now. Why?"
"Nothing. Just that his son was... too calm. If you know what I mean..."
"Yes.. I too got a feeling that I was dealing with someone who was as detached from the case as me, if not more..."
"Strange.... Indeed."

Three hours later, Amit was on his way out of the police station. Having given the description of the three guys and the girl, along with that of their car, who had done this because his father was not able to give them a pass for some time, he was thinking of having a nice good strong coffee when he almost stopped mid stride.

YES!!! It was iodine heptaflouride which caused the single step halogenation of polyunsatured hydrocarbins, in the presence of sodium hydroxide as catalyst!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Between Friends

From: ravi@nhhc.co.in
To: roma@jazzads.com
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 11:33 AM
Subject: Grrrrr

If someone had told me a month ago joining the National Health and Hygiene Centre meant sitting amidst carelessly strewn files and un-rinsed coffee cups, I would have quit before joining!!

- Ravi
P.S. I don’t want to be a stag at Jay’s party tonight

From : roma@jazzads.com
To: ravi@nhhc.co.in
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 11:46 AM
Subject: Re: Grrrrr

Your OCD is exactly the reason why a Job at NHHC is perfect for you! Besides nobody rinses disposable cups before trashing them. You simply rinse and throw!
What are you more frustrated about, the mess in your office or being single at Jay’s party?

Roma

From: ravi@nhhc.co.in
To: roma@jazzads.com
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:01 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Grrrrr

Being single at Jay’s party. It will just give him more reason to palm me off onto his geeky sister. ONCE AGAIN. Do I really look like that First Year Nerdy student from Munnabhai MBBS?

From : roma@jazzads.com
To: ravi@nhhc.co.in
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:11 PM
Subject: Re:Re:Re: Grrrrr

More like Hrithik Roshan from Koi Mil Gaya… the mentally retarded bit suits you just fine. Besides which Jay’s sister is pretty, in a weird sort of way. Before you ask I am coming with Hussain, he is absolutely hot and it promises to be a wild Saturday night

From: ravi@nhhc.co.in
To: roma@jazzads.com
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:32 PM
Subject: Change

It is so annoying when you are too lazy to even change the subject of your mails! Hussain? The big shot ‘I am so rich’ asshole? You know he likes his women in skimpy clothes, how on earth are you going to hide that flab of the cheese pizza from last night? This is so not about you, this is about me. I DON’T want to be single tonight

From : roma@jazzads.com
To: ravi@nhhc.co.in
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:46 PM
Subject: Re: Change

Why should I change the subject when you do it so well! Thanks for the reminder on my weight, what would I do without you? Besides I don’t EVER dress skimpy. Hussain will take me out just the way I am! What is with you and being single? Gosh! How difficult IS it for a guy to find a date for himself?

Long Break


From : roma@jazzads.com
To: ravi@nhhc.co.in
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 03:26 PM
Subject: Re: Change

Name’s Maria Fischer. German I think. Here on a project at Beamex-software. Pick her up at seven from Comfort Inn (Room no. 208, I think). She was just bored of spending lonely weekends and I thought I might let her know there can be something worse than that! In case you want to tell her to carry her own bottle of anti-bacterial hand cleaner (because you obviously wouldn’t share yours with a stranger) call on the Beamex switchboard before five thirty extn. 452

P.S. You could have called me too, instead of writing such boring mails

From: ravi@nhhc.co.in
To: roma@jazzads.com
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 03:31 PM
Subject: U R the best

I like Maria! And thanks a tonne! I was actually fuming after your last insult but guess this sort of sets the records right. I will call her, but what do I say?

P.S. you could have called me too..

From : roma@jazzads.com
To: ravi@nhhc.co.in
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 03:33 PM
Subject: Re: U R the best

Go Fish!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Love at first sight

It was splendour wearing its best Sunday suit. The orchestra filled the evening with light music. The marble pillars which partitioned the lawns from the dome ceilinged hall were draped in white orchids. White orchids in India?!! It was even better than having doves deliver a handwritten parchment of love, not that anything of that sort had happened. But yes the white orchids clung elegantly to the smooth marble of the pillars.

The display of trends and fashion would have made some of the best designers of India, want to auction their styles here. Yet, it was merely a wedding. A wealthy wedding between two very wealthy families. It was theatre and the masses had flocked to participate. It was a swayamvar for the pretty lasses and flirting grounds for the spoilt brats. Diamonds courted green notes.

She was no diamond. But yet when she had stood before the mirror earlier this evening, she had silently admired her own subtle elegance in the reflection. Subtle elegance her foot! She felt as pretty as the ugly duckling amidst all the swans. Even her neck felt shorter, darker and fatter than those creamy necks decked in precious stones.

“Really Tashi, you could have tried dressing up at least this one time!” Rita’s mom had said in her belittling little voice. She always wondered how women whispered just at the right octave so that only those concerned would hear the whispers. This was one of those whispers. She was sure all possible match-making mothers in a radius of ten feet around them had gotten what Mrs. Benetta, the hi-flyer of Pune, had opined on this waif of oddity.

Rita Benetta on the other hand could not be flawed. Her sequined black halter forming a dramatic contrast against her pale white skin, shimmering like a veiled starry blanket under the chiffon red of her designer saree, the long black pearls which dropped from a silver string in her ear, the swarowski bracelet which curled around her slender wrist, they were all in perfect harmony with her startlingly beautiful face a black almond-shaped eyes. Natasha, had always envied her. They were not friends, but circumstances had occasionally thrown them together for one part or the another and Rita had always left her felling.. under-dressed.

“Hey Tashi, are you freaking out of your mind?” Urvashi had pulled her aside and demanded of her. Completely out of clue Natasha had just stared her. “Walking beside Rita is like committing an open market suicide! Do you really think any guy would even look at you if you are standing beside her?” with particular emphasis on any and even. Natasha just shrugged her shoulders causing one of her straps to slide off her shoulder. Before she could do anything about it, Urvashi reached out and hooked her dainty finger through the string thin silver and pushed it back into place saying, “ you really don’t understand, when you do not qualify as the top three best looking women of the evening, its ok. When you walk around with one of the women who does fit that category it just highlights your unbelonging. Get it?” chivalry might still be a name often flung at men, but diplomacy in women is almost an insult.

So she had retired to a rather unnoticed corner of the well manicured lawns with a bottle of sparkling wine and decided to spend the rest of the evening forgetting about it.

That’s how he saw her. Her feet up on the granite slab, her chin resting on her knees. The soft blue of her saree, made even softer by some far off dim light. The silver of her spaghetti blouse glinting mildly in the twilight and wisps of black her being pushed off her face by a gentle breeze. Beside stood one lone glass and one lone bottle of wine.

Monday, May 19, 2008

04/04/2008

Friday the 4th of April, 2008.

The tension in the air is almost too much to handle. How could she still be in the office.. It was already 2:30pm. She had sent him, but...

He had told he would call. As soon as he could confirm the location.

Last time it had been more than a year back. And now again. The phone rings, and she almost jumps out of her chair.
"Yes?"
"Sorry, I am not exactly feeling well. I will give you a call later." Why can't people just let her be, for today???

Finally, she decides she can not take it any more. As it is, he will call her on her mobile. She goes to her manager and mumbles something incoherent about leaving early due to some pressing work and leaves. On her way to the lift, she almost collides with the pantry boy, and mouths a meaningless apology which hardly escapes her gloss coated lips.

She is conscious of the gloss. She spent an extra ten minutes on getting ready today. It was not an ordinary day, after all..

Down on the roadside, she is desperately looking for an auto. But not one of them is in sight. for that matter, not even a taxi. Seems there is a cosmic conspiracy against her. One that is planning to stop her from completing her.... mission. But today there would be no stopping her. She was determined. And when she made up her mind, there were few things which could stop her. She would go to any length to do it. Any length. With this thought in mind, she started walking towards the expected rendezvous point.

He would be waiting for her there. But why has he not called yet.. Just then the phone rings..
"Where were you?? I was waiting for your call for eternity..."
"You got it?? I knew you would... I am on my way already..."
After all it is not everyday that a Rahul Bose movie premiers. She will watch Shaurya first day, first show. Her son had bought the tickets in black, after all...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Folly Wise - IV

The past has a knack of feeling surreal; as if it belonged to someone else at some other time. But yet undeniably it is your past. The person in the black and white flash backs sure does look like you, but does not feel like you. The future on the contrary, which you have actually been no part of, feels more real, more familiar than the past; an extension of what you are in the present.

Mira hailed originally from Pune. She was no small-town girl, but the big city always intimidated her. Mumbai, where careers soar and people break; where dreams are buried and nightmare comes to life; where love might depart but the one thing that forever exists is hope – the hope that you will come even against all odds. So, when the brother, of her mother’s third cousin’s wife’s sister’s husband said she ought to come to Mumbai because he believed she had potential, Mira began to hope.

India first saw Mira in a commercial for sanitary pads. The commercial lasted an entire of thirty seconds, out of which twenty five seconds were taken to make the women fold understand the efficiency of the white innovation. Five seconds were allotted to her, to make her presence felt. What was that reality show again – Five seconds of fame?

Had the lure of fame brought her masseur to Pune? Was she so filled with frustration because the city had not lived up to her expectations? Would she compromise on her standards, just in the hope of hitting the jackpot? One look at the masseurs’s weather beaten, tanned face and Harni got her answer. The lines etched on that leathery skin were not there because of temptation and greed, they were result of determination to abide by a certain set of rules and never bend.

Mira’s skin was flawless. A pale buttered complexion that seemed to glow even more ever since her commercial days. When asked about that stint in some interview or the other, she had given an embarrassed laugh and said, “Everybody has to begin somewhere.” And then came ‘Kathputali’…

“Here right here,” said the keeper pointing towards a luxurious rocking chair, “she would sit right here, with a glass of wine in her hand, rocking to and fro into the darkness. She would hear me arrive and cease the rocking.

Kamana, she would say to me, life is full of choices. You can either be the kathputali and let someone pull your strings and make you dance to their moods or you can control the strings. Life is full of choices, but its like that game at the mall. The one which has claws, where you move the claws from behind the glass window and make it plunge, so that it can pick a toy for you? You never succeed in picking up one of those toys, but from the glass window, it looks like all those toys are there for you to take. Though you know there are choices, they are not there for you to choose, someone always chooses for you and you get stuck with that choice. Kamana, who am I ? The Kathputali or the string controller?

I would never answer. She would look at me for one long moment and then lean back and continue rocking.” There was a stretched silence as she stopped speaking. Harni let the silence linger. She could see Kamana, the keeper lost in the folds of time. She could sense the silence following her there, clearing the path, so that when she spoke again, the sounds would be loud and clear.

“This was after she met Ravi Sirji. Seven months after she met him. When she first met him, she was very happy. Like the school girl who has her first crush. Excited and full of energy she did everything he expected her to. She would wear the clothes he likes, drink the drinks he made, everything was about him. The rest of the world ceased to exist. Ravi Sirji never came home that often, but Madamji started staying out more and more. Sometimes she would be gone for days, though she didn’t have a shooting scheduled, sometimes she would return early in the morning, but with every passing day her smile grew shorter and shorter.

One day she returned at four in the morning. I was woken by the restless pealing of the bell. I was a bit frightened too. When I opened the door Madamji stumbled in, she was crying, her make-up running down her face with the force of the tears. She ran into her room. I followed her. In the dim light of the dresser I saw her examine her bruised face. Her right cheek was swollen up and her lower lip was bleeding. She caught my reflection in the mirror and turned around

What are you looking at? She screamed. She had never screamed at me before. Do I look ugly to you now? Is that it? She then began slapping herself and screaming there! Satisfied! Do I look ugly enough now? I just stood there. I felt as if I was watching one of her on-screen performances and if I reached out to touch her, I would grasp only thin air. She slumped on the floor then and cried till the heavens started crying in her pain.

The next morning she came to me and said Kamana, forget last night ok? Please? And don’t mention it to anybody. I was just a little…upset, ok? Nothing else… I nodded my understanding. She looked at me for one long moment as if deciding whether I really understood and then went on ahead to get dressed.

Ravi Sirji came home that afternoon. There were flowers in his arms and dark sunglasses on his eyes. They spoke in muted tones and the only words I heard were from Ravi Sirji saying For heavens sake! It was a mistake! Do you really think I would ever hit a woman?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Folly Wise III

“She was a good woman” the keeper sniffed.

The keeper was a nice homely woman. Her children had married and flown the nest and she had transferred all her affections to Mira. Now as she stood before Harni; her eyes puffed from the constant downpour of tears, the skin below the eyes rough and red from the constant rubbing it received from the edge of the pallu, she wondered whether the grief was as genuine as was being expressed. The undisclosed will, which had been discreetly disclosed to the police, left the keeper an unashamed sum of seventy five lakh rupees along with the apartment they were currently standing in.

Her masseur on the other hand, would receive nothing for kneading her tired muscles in a state of further pain. As the pseudo Swedish music wafted out of repaired speakers, she wondered what her south Indian masseur was thinking about. Was she secretly laughing at the overweight figure she was pounding at? Did she notice that her leg needed waxing, though thankfully not very badly? Or as she mechanically carried on her torture under the guise of massage, was she thinking about her own problems and possible solutions to those?

That was the biggest problem. Mechanical functioning. Human beings are very mechanical. They train their bodies to perform, without overindulgence from the mind or heart. Which is why a husband could probably work his usual shift, despite the fact that he had to return home to cater to an ailing wife; the financial strain thus endured reflecting only on the sheets which formed his bank balance. An extreme example. But there are thousands of tiny things the human body is trained to do.

Like smile back when someone smiles at you. You don’t mean to do it, but it is the force of habit. Or maybe; sober up when someone mentions a critical illness. Not that the illness makes sense to you, but it is what is expected of you and thus how you expect your body to naturally perform. Maybe even burst into tears at the mention of death. Someone dies, you have to cry, just to let the world know that you grieve. And like the ancient old myth goes, you never speak ill of the dead. Wonder why? If the deceased has been a horrible being…

She was a good woman. Had that too stemmed from the fear of being the victim of an evil curse? Or perhaps the keeper had known about the will arrangement all along, so it was right to express grief in those quantities. If Harni knew someone was about to leave her seventy five lakh and an apartment in region park, she would thump her chest in a very tarzan style and bawl her lungs out and if need be mourn for an entire year, just to express how much the departed meant to her.

Harni could not imagine that the keeper had not once thought that it was Mira she was mincing under her butcher’s knife instead of the stale frozen meat. That when she was wringing the muddy water from the tattered mop cloth, in her minds eye Mira’s neck had replaced the cloth. No matter how genuinely nice a person is, there is always that one moment of unadulterated cruelty that he or she enjoys at the other’s expense.

Mira, who was famous for being finicky on the shooting sets, could she have been an angel at home? Hardly. But she was a nice woman. Of course definitions of nice also differed from person to person. Or maybe she was just nice to the keeper.

“She was like a daughter to me,” the keeper said, threatening to burst into tears again. But were you like a mother to her? “ It was that man, Ravi Sirji! It was he who pushed her in to taking her own life! Before she met him, she wouldn’t touch alchohol!”

Interesting. For the past couple of years, every gossip column had something to report about the alchoholic actress. A couple of years ago gossip columns had started to notice cupid hovering around Mira and Ravi. Coincidence?

This is where technically Harni should have gone off and signed off the report which stated the death as a suicide. Officially certify it. But she didn’t do that, she just stood there in the spacious kitchen, in front of the keeper and said nothing.

But the keeper had a lot to tell…

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Folly Wise - II

The apartment door had been opened, as expected, by the keeper of the house, who, if reports had to be believed, also doubled as the cook. Looking quite comfortable on the designer white couches had been, quite unexpectedly, Ravi Kapoor; the newest male sensation to flicker across bollywood screens. Mira De’s boyfriend, correction, EX boyfriend. She had left him quite abruptly to chase the much older, more handsome (at least according to Harni’s personal standards) Rohit Khanna. So what was he doing here?

“We never stopped being friends…” of course! In the very human and vibrant film industry, nobody ever committed the fatal mistake of not being friends with anybody.

She was friends with her south Indian masseur, who spoke no English whatsoever. The only conversation between them had been “Madam likes?” “I waits outside” and “Thank you”. Despite the fact that she was beating her muscles into a not-so-pleasant numbness; probably venting her day’s frustration by slapping smart shots on her back, they were still friends. They smiled at each other at the end of ever session. First signs of friendship – you can still look at each other and smile.

Ravi Kapoor with his chocolate boy face, had earned the sympathies of the masses, after his unceremonious dump. He had managed to retain his youthful, teenage looks, while Mira had moved on the mature with grace. She had been the woman in the relation, while he had been the boy. She often wondered what happened when at some social event or the other someone, quite callously, pointed to Mira, that she looked older to Ravi? Did she tell it to Ravi with a laughter filled voice, trying to pass it off as a joke, when it actually hit quite close to the core? Did he then laugh with her, hug her and tell her that they looked just perfect together, but all the while thinking that he was the one with the edge in the relationship?Relationships, in certain circles were about prestige and power. Competitiom replaced the pride one ought to have in the partner’s talent.

“I don’t know,” Ravi said, with the perfect amount of glistening sheen accumulating in the red rims of his eyes. Did actors ever stop acting? “It was all so abrupt!”

“Her death?” Harni interrupted.

“That too,” he said quite conversationally, as if her death itself was insignificant in comparison to the incident he was mentioning. “I was talking of the end of our relation. It was as if she just got up one day and whoosh! Disappeared!” After the whooshing motion of his hand, which so typically follows the sound every single time, he sighed.

He looked up straight at Harni, his eyes locked on to hers, the perfect I-am-going-to-make-a-point stance. “You know, I always felt she did not want to leave me. She was not happy without me!” Voila! The perfect bollywood chauvinist. How could a woman not want him?

“Of course, Ravi is a great guy!” Of course and we are back to the everybody-is-happy and the-world-is-such-nice-place phase. “But this is not about Ravi, is it?”

And this is not about you! Harni almost added. But kept quite.

Her slapping, patting routine over, the masseur was drawing lazy pressurized circled all along her back. Now, that felt good. What did not feel good, was the way Ravi’s eyes kept flicking towards Mira’s picture. There was no love there, but a calmness. The kind she often saw in the eyes of the friends of victims, who were present when justice was meted out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Dilemma...

Yet another stub made its unceremonious exit from his fingers. Crushing it beneath his foot, he let out a curse. And then sighed.

It had been a hard time. The work as usual had been demanding, and his Project Leader had chosen this particular time to remind him that he was due for his appraisal in a month or so, and his chances would not take too much of a beating if he could put in a bit extra. Could someone just go and tell him that his day too had 24 hours only!!

And at home the situation was graduating to a state of emergency. His mother had fixed her mind- she had to get him married before Diwali this year. Diwali, for God's sake!! He was just not ready. And on top of that, there was that little thing about telling her. That he was in love with a girl and wanted to give time to their relationship, before he could commit.

And that brought him to the biggest issue of them all- her. He tried to make some sense. Out of thoughts going round like particles of dust scattered in a beam of light. Being a technical guy, he decided to take a rational approach.
He loved her. Correct.
She loved her. Correct.
He wanted to do his PG before marriage. Correct.
She did not have too much of a problem with that. Again correct.

But now came the tricky part.
Her parents wanted her married ASAP. Correct.
She could stall for time. Umm... not likely.
His parents would agree to him marrying a girl from a different religion. NO WAY!!!

Why did they have to deal in inequations with functions of probability? And before his eyes suddenly loomed a picture of his +2 mathematics teacher. He of the one eye. An answer sheet indicating a score of 3.125 out of 20 when these topics were a part of the syllabus. And he shuddered. But procrastinating will not serve any purpose. He might as well get over with it...

Anyways he had to take a decision. Now. Time was of essence.

Damn!! It was a tough decision, but it had to be a can of beer and Dhoni's Super Kings...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Folly wise - I

She really ought to do something about her weight. Even the mild uphill walk through this neglected patch of wayward growth was causing her to gasp for lung-fulls of fresh air. The dry leaves groaned their last painful cries, as her heavy boots crushed them into merciless bits. She ought to have laid off the cheese. The lunch at the newly opened Bars and Blues had been delicious. The company she was with had been rather boring. The ring of her cell- phone summoning her to this neverland had , as a consequence, been welcomed. She panted harder, as she tried to stay in step with the two deputies forging ahead of her along an unseen path.

The sun had beaten even the remotest green out of the landscape. Naked trees stood like brown slaves tormented by the cloudless skies. Every footstep crunched with a loud crackle. If somebody’s half-lit cigarette bud didn’t send this entire area blazing, then the sun definitely would. The sooner she was out of here, the better. She almost collided with the deputy in front of her, as he came to an abrupt halt. Destination arrived. She took in a couple of deep breaths. The first one to regularize her hard breathing and the second one to mentally prepare herself for the nightmare she was about to witness.

But nothing could have prepared her for the sight which greeted her. Lying on a thorny bed of dried twigs, almost looking peacefully asleep was the late super star Mira De. Even in death, she was beautiful.

After hours of briefing and de-briefing, mindless enquiries and then some interesting ones, of thousands of trips to the forensic labs and millions of reads of the autopsy reports, Harinakshi found herself spread on the singularly unappealing white bed of the local Spa. Harinakshi or Harni as people were wont to call her, was a criminal profiler with CBI. One of her tasks was to certify, if the death was a homicide or a suicide. Like the death of the beautiful Mira De. And like on a lot of occasions before, she found that her thoughts were at a cumulative best, when her senses were being beaten into a decided numbness by her masseur; hence her current position.

As she stuck her face into the hole on the bed and stared at the old white marble flooring, her thoughts rushed into her head. The first thought devoted to the speck of gray which stained the flooring and had escaped the evening cleaning rounds. The next series of thought took her back to the apartment of Mira De.

She had driven down there. Her apartment, as expected, was located in the rich areas of Region Park. As she waited at the red light, a minute away from the apartment, she noticed two billboards. One showed Mira De staring at all the people on the road with a very pained expression in her eyes, willing them into tears perhaps. In a very rickety font with strings attached to it, the billboard announced the name of the movie, in which she was to play the lead role – Kathputali (Puppet). If she remembered correctly, the movie was at least five years old. One of Mira De’s earlier films. She had even bagged an award or two for it.

Right below the movie was another billboard, announcing yet another movie again by Mira De – Khwaish (Wish). From her minuscule clothes, to her very inviting pout, it was very evident what she wanted the viewer to wish for her. Looking at the billboard could give one of the weaker men a very climatic experience. It was a six month old movie. Reviewers had called her hot and sexy and the new sex goddess of the Indian Film Industry. Women around the country had called her slut.

She sat there looking at the two billboards, one aged with time, faded and hardly noticeable; the other shining with the glamour of new gloss. Two women, one you were bound to sympathize with, the other who would tempt you into evil thoughts. Yet the two women were one.

She never quite understood why she came for massages. They were filled with pain. The masseur’s fingers dug into her body and they hurt. It did not feel good. The music was unidentifiable, though the Spa claimed it was Swedish. The towels rewashed and reused and not certifiably clean. She winced at the floor as the masseur dug into her flesh once again.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tuppence...

I have a lot to be thankful to toilets for... Toilets, of all things!! For it was a post written by someone upon toilet etiquette or the lack thereof, that led me to my first real interaction with tuppence.

Of course, at that time I had no inkling of the things to come. I was just another guy, stumbling about my way in this huge, complex blogosphere. And I had managed to stumble upon something witty and amusing and at the same time logical and pertinent.

And thus we embarked upon a journey which had the heart warming moments of a M&B (hope like hell they have some), drama which would have made The Godfather look a children's film and suspense which would have done Hitchcock proud... And not to mention the wild imaginations which defy comparison...

However all these things apart, she is one wonderful woman. And I am indeed blessed to have her as a friend. Time picks up wings and flies away, as she takes you into a different world altogether with her words. When you are stressed, she can almost sense it and then, even Houdini cannot escape... She coaxes and cajoles your worries out of you, if required, and once you are through talking with her you realise the world is not that bad a place to be in... Sharing the ups and downs of life with her make it so much more meaningful..

She is one woman whom I respect and admire, and the count in that category is quite minuscule. And not only for her way with words. When it comes to words, she is a sorceress, an enchantress. Words are her playthings, and emotions the strings with which she conjures up fabrics of stories, real and imaginary, that leave you wishing for some more. The way she portrays the panorama of lie in her stories is to be seen to be believed. And we have not yet left prose. A spontaneous poet, she can put the most cryptic thoughts into rhyme. And beware! If you put down your thoughts in a poetic form, she'll reply with something that'll leave you wondering if she was reading your mind and answering or what....

Anyways all that apart, she is a very very special person. And I will not even try to put down in words why so... Just that Cha, it is a pleasure and an honour to be counted as a friend of yours... Do stay the wonderful woman that you are... Cheers to you on your birthday!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Newcomer

“Cheers” they chorused as the glasses clanked; the foam spilling over the brim and dribbling on to the stained table. A long silence ensued. It was not the pregnant silence waiting to burst, all along threatening to overwhelm with the contents it holds. It was more of a comfortable silence, veiling thoughts which changed behind them.

Four pairs of eyes stared at the amber gold beer in front of them. Each pair unseeing the liquid, but seeing with startling clarity, what they wanted to see.

“I had always thought that I could throttle any guy who got closer than an eight feet distance of her!” he said laughing, yet quite meaning the threat.
They were meeting for lunch. They were finally meeting the amazing guy, who would in all effect steal his daughter away from him, no wait, snatch his daughter right from under his nose. And he was ordered to like him.
“Dad!” his daughter exclaimed at his earlier joke. His wife slid him an unnoticed warning, in the form of an extra helping of the ugly egg pudding. But the guy had just smiled across the table, as if indulging a particularly tyrannical kid.
“You know,” he began again. His daughter rolled her eyes in obvious exasperation and his wife thumped her spoon down meaningfully on the table. But there was no stopping him, “when she was about five years old, she had fallen off her tricycle. She hit her head against the foot of the bed and the cut began to bleed. We rushed her to the doctor and every stitch that he put in place I was confused whether to gush all over him with my gratitude or punch his teeth out one by one, so that he might experience a little of the pain, my daughter was going through at that moment…”
His daughter had stared at him across the table, with a new expression in her eyes. She was finally beginning to understand what her wedding might mean to him. But the man had laughed. He actually had the audacity to laugh.
“Man this is funny,” he said. His daughter frowned at the man. He had just gripped his fork harder and with great difficulty not flung it across at him. “ the other time,” the man continued oblivious to the reactions he had evoked, “when we were shopping for you guys, she tripped over a loose stone and sprained her ankle. By the time we reached the doctor her ankle had swollen to the size of a football! The doctor then tested the ankle and every time he touched the ankle I had to restrain myself from reaching out and boxing the living daylights of the medico…”

“My sister does not like violence,” he said as he took in another drag of his light.
“She doesn’t like you smoking either,” the man had said. They were sitting on the bank of his favourite lake. He always came here, when the parents got difficult to deal with. This was his spot and he had brought him here. This man who thought he could waltz into his life and waltz out with his sister on one arm, he had brought him here.
“But I still smoke, does that mean you would still pick up a fight?” he said, smiling at his own smart mouth.
“No,” the man said, looking at something at the far end of the lake, “it means that ones of us loves her enough to respect her wishes.”
He crumpled his cigarette between his fingers and flicked it towards the water. They sat there for a couple of moments in a companionable silence. He then got to his feet and said, “Come on let’s go, its getting cold here.”
They got up and walked. The man then smiled and asked, “Is it too early for beer or too late for coffee….”

He watched as the man scooped two spoons of sugar into his coffee. “She likes her coffee black,” he said, as if attempting to inform him. He just smiled and sat back.
“Do you know why she likes it black?” he asked the man as he stirred his own coffee. It was his way of letting him know that HE was the newcomer and that he could not stop them from being friends. It was years and years of memories which bound him to her. He couldn’t break them by marrying her. “We had bunked college and were sitting it out in a cafĂ© close by,” he continued. “She had the usual coffee and scooped out sugar into it. I told her that it is said if you have more than half a spoon of sugar in your afternoon coffee, the lords of coffee etiquettes curse you with an upset stomach. She had laughed at me. It was a cooked up story anyway. But that evening she did fall ill. And I felt miserable. She said she would take her coffee without sugar, so that I didn’t need to feel miserable anymore,” he paused and laughed, “I still think she did it because she believes that stupid tale and thinks no sugar is as good as half a spoon of sugar!” The man had laughed with him.
“Yeah,” he said, “ She told me that story. And I told her it was a nice traditional curse-tale , you know a family heirloom, stories across generations sort of thing, heck you could even tell it yourself! The coffee-curse story, the children will love it…

…there will be children. His grandchildren. And the man, his son-in-law would make a grand father. All because he know how to love and be loved..

…because he knew how to be there despite all odds

…because he knew how to be a friend.

They all looked up almost at once, to watch the newcomer. As if by magic, right before their very eyes, he was now family.