Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Baap List of all Item numbers!

Coming Soon.

Watch this space for more!

Update: If you really wanna read, just go here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The land of dragon tattoos, and low-rise jeans

This is not the time of the year when one would typically go to the hills - rainy weather, landslides, foggy view of the landscape and no snow. But then, we had to go somewhere (given that I was massively bored at home).. and decided on Darjeeling and Gangtok. Roped in (read blackmailed) some folks to join.. and up, up and away!

*If Kerala was the land of thick mustaches and split lungis, the northern hills are clearly the land of funky hairdos, dragon tattoos, low-rise jeans, visible underwear and more (my views on this rather eclectic fad here). The ladies in the group could only look wistfully at the hair-styles flaunted by the chinki females.

*They all look the same. No, I mean seriously. No offence meant, but if someone does something to you, and then makes a run for it, you can never, like never, identify him again.

*No vacation is ever complete without the customary fight with the travel agent. Ours was in the habit of asking 'extra' money for everything e.g. 'aap ropeway par chadenge kya?'
'haan... kyon?'
'matlab waiting ka extra Rs. 300 lagega'
'huh? tumko kya sirf ropeway dikhane ke liye hire kiya hai'
'yahan ka yahi niyam hai saab.. kissi se bhi pooch lo'

'Aap log Nepal market mein local taxi mein chale jaana.. I will stay outside. They will charge Rs. 300'
'Tum kyon nahi aaoge?'
'Border Tax lagega'
'Hum pay kar denge tumko'
He paid Rs. 20 as the border tax and claimed Rs. 300 from us saying 'yahan ka yahi niyam hai!'

I will be filing an official complaint against him too. But that's another story.

*On our way back to New Jalpaiguri from Gangtok, we found a massive traffic jam on the highway caused by a landslide. I was amused to find that the driver (of the shared cab we were in) was delighted. He immediately announced - we will have to take a detour - per head extra Rs. 150. Some of the passengers protested - that's a lot all taken together.. the extra distance will not be much. He smirked... do you really have a choice?

*We found the place colorful. The houses were colored in bright hues, beautiful multicolored flowers decorated the verandas and balconies, the clothes worn by folks and their hair had dashes of vibrant colors, and most impressive were the colorful flags put up as a symbol of wish-fulfillment by the localites.

*We went to this place called Chaar Dhaam in Gangtok. Apart from hosting a massive statue of Lord Shiva, this place also had replicas of practically every sacred shrine of the Hindus to be found across the length and breadth of the country. Given how religious I am, I guess am done with my teerth yatra for lifetime.

*I have this new-found interest in Buddhist mythology - in particular, the symbolism depicted by dragons and scary looking devils/men in the murals painted on walls of monasteries. Any suggestions for good reads on this would be appreciated :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Idiot in the Box

Read first part of the story here

Chapter Three

Raj was busy working on his computer and Ms. Reva was typing something furiously on hers. She kept throwing nasty glances at Raj of which the latter was totally unaware. He, however, occasionally looked at her lovingly and seemed deeply satisfied about something. He was actually thinking what a wonderful couple he and Reva would make. Not that he thought it was anyway possible now, but he wanted (he himself did not know why) to look at every perspective of this otherwise great idea. So, when almost everybody else had left the office and Ms. Reva too got up from her seat and was preparing to depart, Raj got up hastily, picked up his coat and briefcase and darted through the door to join Ms. Reva.

“So… leaving, Reva?”
“Yeah, I guess it’s about time…” she looked at her gold-plated wrist-watch and replied nonchalantly. Raj began escorting her along the aisle. Ms. Reva smiled and continued to walk. When they reached the elevator, Raj finally asked what he had so long wanted to ask: “Hmm… Reva… D’you… Do you watch serials?”
“Television soap operas... Those cozy, mushy, delectable (and outrightly stupid and bugging) serials they show everyday on TV?” It was clear that he was trying hard to hide his strong hatred for the serials, as he spoke.
And, finally, to his satisfaction, Ms. Reva replied in the negative.


Reva wanted to leave early today. But as usual, the pile of work on her desk held her back. When she had finally finished most of it, and was feeling totally exhausted, she got up and filed away all the loose papers. She came out of her cabin and found Mr. Roy coming out of his, smiling at her.

“So… leaving, Reva?” asked Mr. Roy in his peevish voice.
What a dumb question to ask. She wanted to ward him off. She looked at her gold-plated-wrist-watch in the way of expressing extreme annoyance, and replied, “Yeah, I guess it’s about time…”
But emotion had, perhaps, blinded Mr. Roy and he unwaveringly started walking alongside her. Reva didn’t know what to say and she merely forced a horrible smile. When they reached the elevator, Mr. Roy suddenly asked, “Hmm… Sandhya… D’you… Do you watch serials?”
Why would you want to know? “What???”
“Television soap operas... Those cozy, mushy, delectable serials they show everyday on TV?”
Reva loved them. But it was something about the way Mr. Roy had shot the question that she didn’t want to give an affirmative answer.
“No… I hate them.” She added that ‘hate’ part just out of hope that Mr. Roy would be seriously offended and would leave her alone. But to her dismay, Mr. Roy seemed delighted to hear this.
“Hmmm… then what are your interests? Perhaps sports!!!” Mr. Roy was trying to hide his excitement without success.
Reva was too exhausted to keep track of all the lies she had been telling. “Yes” seemed the simplest and shortest reply.


Little Tina was having a wonderful time. All day she had been talking to her ‘Barbie’ doll in a language which only she and her ‘bestest’ friend understood. She had talked about how inane grown-ups are, how lovely she’d look when she’d grow up, how interested the baby-next-door was in her when they had met in the park last week - he had literally jumped out of his pram to smile at her.

Suddenly, Nisha came over to her cradle. “Why are you laughing so much? Do you know we may not watch the serials any more?”
Stupid girl. I care in the least. Tina giggled.
This annoyed Nisha a lot. She looked over her shoulder. Sandhya was busy in meticulously putting on nail-gloss. She reached for Tina’s thighs and pinched her. Tina began to wail in pain.
Sandhya dashed to the scene, clearly annoyed at being disturbed while she was busy with her make-up. “What happened? Nisha, what did you do to her?”
She pinched me. Tina began to cry louder than ever.
“Nothing, Mama. She must’ve hurt herself.”
Liar!!! Mama, take me up in arms. Tina let out a particularly high-pitched shriek.
Sandhya seemed to be in a dilemma. She wanted to tend to Tina but that would surely spoil her half-an-hour worth of effort of putting on the nail-polish. “Mama’s here, baby, don’t cry” she almost sang those words, “good baby, mama’s nails are wet…”
Tina tried once more, and then gave Sandhya up as bad job. She shut up on her own and began fiddling with her Barbie.


The elevator was gliding down unusually slow. Reva was getting impatient. Mr. Roy continued with his badgering.

Reva had a feeling that if Mr. Roy didn’t stop within the next minute, she’d have no other way than slamming her hand-bag against his face. But all she did was smile and smile.

Finally, they got out on the ground floor. “Should I drop you off, Reva?” asked Mr. Roy rather politely, still jumping on the balls of his feet.
“No, thanks; I guess I’ll get a cab.”
“Oh come on, Reva; you need not be this formal. We are friends, after all.”
Yes, Lecher. “But you really need not take all the trouble, Sir.”

Ten minutes later, Reva was seated on the front seat of Mr. Roy’s car, with a rather serious expression on her face. Mr. Roy was merrily steering the car, feeling excited and conscious at the same time. When they finally reached Reva’s Apartments, Mr. Roy gallantly got out of the car and opened the door for her to get out.

“Ah, well... bye then.”
Reva understood only too well what Mr. Roy wanted, but she would rather kiss a donkey than invite this lecher to her home.
“Sir, I would have invited you for a cup of coffee but my boyfriend is probably back by now. He doesn’t like visitors. I hope you understand.”
“Your boyfriend??”
“Yeah, he moved in only last month.”
“You never told me, Reva” spluttered Mr. Roy, and upon discovering the questioning expression on Reva’s face, added “I mean I didn’t know.” Raj was totally distressed. Reva had a live-in boyfriend. He got into the car and began driving back home.

Reva was walking up the driveway, smiling to herself. The idea had struck her while she was seated in Mr. Roy’s car. She had no boyfriend.


Chapter Four

Raj parked the car in the garage, rebuked the Durban without any reason and climbed up the stairs like a zombie. No sooner had he rung the door-bell than Sandhya opened the door, dressed in a cute pink dress and carrying a lavish smile. This was a bit surprising, for usually he had to stand for at least ten minutes before the door opened up, and surely Sandhya has never been this happy to find him back.

“You are back, darling. How was your day?” Sandhya made way for him to get inside.
Flustered at this sudden change in Sandhya’s attitude, Raj almost fumbled into the sitting-room. “Yeah, OK.”
Raj looked around for a reason that could explain the weirdness of the situation and caught sight of Nisha lurking in a corner, looking thoroughly anxious and apprehensive.
“Hey Nisha, my baby, come to papa” he called out to her and to his amazement, Nisha, instead of running into his arms, looked at Sandhya, as if asking for approval. He could sense Sandhya giving a short nod. Nisha glided towards him, still not her natural self. This all was driving Raj crazy. He wanted an explanation. And then, he remembered!! All the events of the morning came, flashing, to his mind and his teeth gritted themselves in anger.
Okay, let’s play it your way then…

He turned round to Sandhya, and almost imitating her peevishly cheerful tone, said, “Darling, do you mind making me a cup of coffee? By the way, they are showing the re-telecast of some cricket match today. I can’t possibly afford to miss it.” Raj was sure that had it been any other day, Sandhya would have straightaway refused to make him a cup of coffee. But she smiled in an indulgent sort of way and went towards the kitchen, followed by an evidently shocked Nisha.

Raj settled on the couch and switched on the TV. (A news reader’s face flickered on the screen)… click… (Two dancers were bumping their bottoms against each other’s)… click… (One of those talent-hunt contests)… click… wait a second, the sports channel was supposed to be somewhere here. He went through all the channels once again.
It had to be Sandhya. She must’ve changed all the settings. He began re-setting the channels, while assuring himself that vengeance would be his very soon.

“Coffee is ready, darling” Sandhya entered the room carrying two coffee mugs and her now fading smile “How’s your cricket-match progressing?” she looked at the TV screen and smiled, “Oh, actually, I had to change the setup because of Nisha… she was insisting on watching some stupid wrestling match. Of course, I couldn’t allow her to watch those. So I put a lock on all the sports channels.” Nisha, who too had followed her mother into the room, nodded vigorously like a poorly trained actor.
“Oh really… what's the key?”
“Oops… I forgot” Sandhya faked an expression of extreme remorse, “I’m sorry, darling.”
“No wonder.” Raj could easily re-set all the channels. The only thing was that had Sandhya given him the code, it would have been much faster. “Sandhya, if you think that with all this drama, you’d be watching your stupid serials then drop it. I’ll make sure that you keep your word.”
“Not that I expected anything else from an insensitive person like you, Raj” Sandhya suddenly turned emotional. For the second time that day, Raj admired how quickly Sandhya could change her expressions. Sandhya rubbed her invisible tears on her sleeve and rushed towards the bedroom, Nisha again following her. Normally, Raj would have gone after her to console her, but not today. He continued with fine-tuning the channel.

About two minutes later, Sandhya again entered the drawing-room, looking perfectly normal, as if nothing had happened a few minutes back. She came and sat on the couch next to Raj and suddenly began to sob or rather pretend to sob.
“Raj, oh Raj, why do we do this to each other? I love you, Raj? But I don’t know what gets into me. Please, Raj, forgive me, Raj.” She edged closer to him and put her arms around him. Raj was totally taken aback.
Sandhya started whispering, and apparently forgetting to sob, “Oh, Raj, tell me you have forgiven me.”
"Hmm... "
"Thank you! You know Nisha is also upset about the serial thing. Let's watch it together today, shall we?"
“Sandhya, I must say you have talent.”
Sandhya moved back her head and looked at him.
“But, sadly, none of your tactics are gonna work today, for I’ve realized what sort of a scheming woman you are.”
Sandhya could not take this. She pushed Raj away from the couch, seized the remote-controller and hurled it straight at Raj. Raj ducked just in time, and the gadget crashed right into the TV screen smashing it to smithereens.

The crashing noise brought Nisha into the room. She looked at the smashed TV and raised her hands to her mouth, apparently shocked. Sandhya, too forgot that she was angry at Raj and merely looked in horror at what she had done.

Raj decided that it wasn’t safe anymore for him to stay in the room. He quietly sneaked out of the room, leaving a distraught Sandhya and a distressed Nisha behind in the room.

The helluva noise had woken Tina up. She was whimpering in her cradle. Raj walked up to her and asked lovingly, “What is it, darling?”
One can’t even sleep in peace in this place. Tina let out a last moan, rolled over and fell asleep again.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


If there was just one wish,
that could come true,
which one would you choose,
among the thousands that swarm your mind?

Leave it to the heart,
and it will fly around,
like a carefree bird,
hoping for the special, and the absurd.

The pleasures of the flesh,
royal wealth that's envy of the world,
beauty that inspires,
and intellect that wows generations to come?

Or to know what lies ahead,
in the realms of future,
the fate of those who are dear,
and enemies, far and near?

Or to simply erase,
misdeeds, errors and follies,
Undo and heal?
If there was just one wish.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Idiot out of the Box

Chapter One

Nothing at all was unusual about that Saturday. Raj parked his car and climbed the stairs to his second-floor office. He entered his cubicle to find a smiling Ms. Reva waiting for him.

“Mrs. Roy has already called twice, Sir”, she informed, with the sort of sparkle in her eyes that Raj always found so absorbing. She was again wearing the same navy blue skirt Raj had so often admired.
“Thank You Reva. I’ll talk to her. By the way, looking gorgeous today.”
Reva went out without a word. By now she was quite at home with the way married men often behaved. Raj settled on the armchair and started dialing home. He knew what was in store for him.


That morning he and Sandhya had had one of their routine squabbles.

Little Tina was wailing loudly in her pram, Kushal was creating a ruckus with his toy gun and Nisha was into one of her tantrums for a reason known to nobody. Amidst all this, Sandhya somehow managed to sit before the TV all engrossed in her favorite serial.

Raj walked over to Tina’s perambulator and immediately flinched. With a wistful look at Sandhya, he started changing Tina’s nappy. He was no master in this art & Tina cried all the more louder.

“Shh…” Sandhya murmured, trying her best not to miss anything of the serial she adored beyond description. She was watching the re-telecast of some soap, the fact of her having watched it the previous night notwithstanding.

Raj didn’t say anything. He had come to accept several things in course of nine years of his marriage, like he would have to admire the new hairstyles Sandhya would flaunt every now and then, however disgusting she might look; he would have to regard every matter related to his in-laws with utmost esteem & behave as if his own errands were of no consequence at all. But one thing in which he felt he closed a fair deal was control over the Television. Perhaps it was his bargaining-flair as a sales executive which came in handy. It was decided that every alternate weeks they would have supreme authority over the TV (However Sandhya somehow found a way of cajoling Raj into letting her watch her serials everyday nevertheless). He quietly went into the bedroom and started looking for his towel. But he couldn't find it anywhere.

“Sandhya, where’s my towel?” No Reply.
“Sandhya….?” No Reply still.
He stomped his way to the drawing room. By now, Nisha had seated herself beside her mom and was murmuring, “Mom, why don’t you wear a bindi like that?” Day by day she was growing more and more like Sandhya, thought Raj.
“Sandhya, my towel?”
“Oh Raj, look yourself no” Sandhya replied without the least stir.
“You have already seen that yesterday” Raj reminded.
“Oh no, I missed some parts of it” Sandhya replied, her eyes still glued to the idiot box.
“But… Look, I’m getting late; they show the same thing a hundred times over”
“Clearly, that’s not the case when you watch the repeated telecasts of your stupid cricket matches” Sandhya sounded a bit annoyed.
“Now, what does my cricket matches have to do with…?”
“Ok, fine, don’t let me watch my serials... as it is you’ve always got something against them,” Sandhya finally got up and marched into the bedroom, “You have just one motive in life – don’t let poor Sandhya see her favorite serials, as if that’s harming you in any way…” she went on with her tirade while apparently looking for the towel and actually bringing the whole house to shambles.
“Now, Sandhya, why do you say that? Don’t I let you watch…?”
“Yeah, that’s a great favor really… now what I am supposed to do – wait on you head and toe?” she flung his towel at him.
Raj opened his mouth to retort but was stopped short of saying anything by a bloodcurdling scream which came from the drawing room. They both rushed outside to find Nisha staring at the TV screen with a horrified look at her face.
“What happened???” Sandhya embraced Nisha.
“Mom… she… that hag… she’s conspiring to kill her daughter-in-law and the poor bahu has no idea of it”, Nisha narrated among sobs.

It took a while before realization dawned on Raj. He could make out that Nisha was talking of the ‘serial’ she had been watching, which must have ended with that ‘revelation’ about the mother-in-law’s character that had ‘shocked’ her so much.

Once Nisha was assured that the bahu was in perfect health and nothing would happen to her till she returned from her honeymoon, and she had gone out to play with her friends, Raj turned to Sandhya, fuming.
“Look what impact your serials have on our children”
“Raj, there’s nothing wrong with Nisha. She’ll get over this within minutes. She usually reacts to such stuff in a similar way…”
“What??? And still you continue to watch these? What sort of a mother…”
“I think I know my responsibility better than you…”
…and as usual it had continued for the next fifteen minutes, with both of them flinging accusations at each other and it had ended in the usual way with Sandhya flinging different objects (comprising of vases, table lamp, Kushal’s toys and other potentially harmful items) at Raj until one found its target.

But usually it actually ended with Sandhya calling Raj in the office over phone to say sorry.


Chapter Two

Tring… Tring…

Sandhya hastily put on the dressing-gown and rushed out to pick up the phone. She glanced at the caller-ID-display and smiled, “Oh Raj, I knew you’d call. I’m so sorry about what happened today. It was only after you went away that I realized that you had been right. I should not have…Raj?
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Are you still angry with me?”
“Angry? No, not at all (I forgot being that long back)”
“(Good, that makes it a lot easier) So, honey, say something sweet to me.”
“Sandhya, are you all right?
“Of course, I am. Why?”
“Hey, I’m just asking like that. By the way, it seems you’d been thinking about me?”
Sandhya noted the flirtatious tone and smiled triumphantly, “Actually I was in the shower...”
Raj imagined her absentmindedly running her fingers through her wet hair as she usually did and felt a stir, “I have an idea. Why don’t we go out for lunch today? Then perhaps we could watch the new…”
“No, darling, actually today I’ve got to go shopping with Mrs. Mehta.”
“And darling, you know I just seem to have run short of cash (And I was foolish enough to have picked up a fight today). Perhaps I could use your credit card…, mine is out of balance” she hastily added without waiting for a reply “I looked around but couldn’t find it anywhere.”
Raj suddenly realized where this conversation was leading to and felt strong repulsion for Sandhya. “Actually... I’m afraid...”
“Oh, I have to do only a bit of shopping. And I can’t afford not to go because Mrs. Mehta is an expert in swapping rumors. As it is, she’s always trying to…”
Raj could make neither head nor tail out of her blabbering. He just knew one thing – he was not falling for this one this time, “Sandhya, didn’t I tell you I have surrendered the card long back…”
“I’m quite sure you haven’t,” her tone suddenly changed “(This is not going to work, time for the trump card) Look, let’s make a deal.”
Raj could only admire the different facets of Sandhya’s personality. She changed colors faster than a chameleon, “What deal??”
“You tell me where the credit card is and I promise to pick up Kushal from school everyday, you won’t have to waste your precious time anymore…”
“…and I won’t go shopping for the next whole month…”
Sandhya was growing impatient, “…and I’d also bring you your towel in the bathroom whenever you forget to take it and…,” her nose screwed up, “…not mind when you leave your dirty underwear on the bathroom floor. Now tell me where the card is.”
“(In your dreams) I don’t think that is good enough.”
“What???” Sandhya yelled, “Okay, tell me what do you want?”
“You won’t be watching your serials for the next whole month.”
The thought itself of the dilemma Sandhya must be in gave Raj immense pleasure. Sandhya kept quiet. How could he do this to her? She wanted to shout at the top of her voice, curse him and abuse him, but this was not the time.
“Okay, I won’t watch the serials for the next month, happy? Now tell…”
“Look among my ‘dirty’ underwear in the cupboard. Good bye.”
“Bye” Sandhya said bitterly.

Raj was jubilantly putting down the phone when something caught his eye and he almost slipped from his chair. In the cubicle directly across from his, Ms. Reva was bending over her knees to adjust her sandals. There was nothing remotely enticing about her posture other than the fact that the strap of her top had slipped off her shoulder. Raj looked hungrily as Reva regained her composure and stretched like a young bird trying to fly. Suddenly her eyes caught his; she stared for a moment and then smiled at him. He smiled back and looked away.


Reva wasn’t used to sitting in front of a computer. But now she had to as her job demanded it. Her eyes hurt if she stared at the screen continuously. But today she had just seated herself and her eyes began to itch. ‘I must visit an optician’ she told to herself. Something else was also bothering her – her new sandals. She bent over to adjust them only to find that her skirt had entangled itself with the clasp on the sandals. After five minutes of struggle, she finally freed her skirt. She felt exhausted as if had just gone through an ordeal. She yawned, and stretched and found Mr. Roy looking straight at her. He looked like a greedy dog salivating for a bone.
Bastard’ she muttered. And then gave him a smile.


Sandhya replaced the receiver and turned. Nisha was watching her thoughtfully. She asked, “Mama, won’t we be watching the serials any more?” She looked clearly pained at the probability of her missing out on her favorite serials.
“No, dear, who said so?” Sandhya consoled her.
“You just told Papa that…”
Sandhya interrupted her with an indolent wave of her hand, “Oh, don't worry about it.”
And Nisha watched as Sandhya hopped into the bathroom again, with an unmistakable smirk on her face and an old tune on her lips.


To be continued...

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Pyaar mein kabhi kabhi

It was the summer of 2006 jab we met for the first time.
It was love at first sight.

It's been six long years, and we have stood by each other. Those were great moments we spent together - studying, playing games, and generally having fun. Days and nights, hours together, non-stop - with little care for the world around.

I got married, and my wife, erm.. accepted you as my first love.

On my 26th birthday, you fell ill. And I was livid. Then you had this amazing makeover and life was back to normal again.

I have fought for you. And loved you in spite of your tantrums. I would not let anyone else touch you.

But, now, it's not the same.

We need to talk. The fun is lost. The novelty is gone. I don't blame you - maybe, something within me has changed.

Laptop, it's true. You don't interest me the same way anymore.

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