Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Of a soiled nightie, beef fry and a couple

One of my friend’s from Dubai rang me up while I was in India, earlier this year.  “Hey, even I’m holidaying here. Why don’t we catch up?”

So we took to the lanes of the South Indian state of Kerala, driving north. Monsoon was unleashing its fury. [Yet, I haven’t got enough off it. How I miss The Rains!] 

Afternoon 2pm seems like dusk...Monsoon at its best

Well, as we pulled alongside a few hours later, to tend to our grumbling tummies, we ran into one of my acquaintances.

He invited us to his home, which was nearby. I obliged and we followed him.

[I will not describe his home, which I leave to my friend’s comments below. Suffice to say the family was at its hospitable best. Hot-steaming tea, equally deliciously-splattering banana fritters, hot-off-the-grill toast and beef fry and finger-licking melt-in-your mouth dark halwa generously served by his ever-smiling wife peppered with his non-stop chatter. The couple’s two well-behaved pre-teens, did the greetings part with aplomb and vanished leaving their coffee-brown dachshund to keep a watch on us. I always had a liking to the couple. My opinion was only reinforced.]

Well, my friend and her husband also made good guests.

No sooner than the car pulled inside their gate than the couple stepped out and looking up at the roof of the building, said in unison, “Beautiful! Who’s the architect?” The host replied with pride that it was his dad and that the house was almost 30 years old. “Old is gold,” said my friend’s husband.

“What garden!” exclaimed my lady friend turning to her husband, “Look at the variety of crotons. Amazing!” The husband tapping the host’s arm, said, “Excellent, there’s a lot of work that goes into this, I can see!” All the while his eyes were panning the area. “The land adjacent is also yours?” The host nodded a ‘yes’. “And the open area I can see behind?”

Now the host stood to explain. Pointing his finger in all four directions, he said, “From there until there is completely mine. My dad had bought it long back…”

“Wow! You are a billionaire,” exclaimed my lady friend.

In the meanwhile, the host’s wife had joined us and was unsuccessfully trying to invite us in. At last after more statistics gathering and even more exclamations on their property, we walked in.

“Wow! Beautifully done! Teakwood furniture are the best, isn’t it?” The wife commented to the husband and the couple walked around the rooms uninvited. “Real spacious!” “I loved the kitchen… The dining hall is the best…you guys are lucky…” and so went their commentary on the interiors.

“You are an amazing cook!” she showered on the hostess, denying a second helping of the beef fry.

Saying our goodbyes, my friend added, “Let’s take a group picture,” and pulled the hostess by her side. Wrapping her arm around her shoulders she posed.

“So nice, meeting you’ll,” said the husband.

“Come again,” said the hostess.

“Oh! You don’t have to invite us. Next time, we are here, we will make sure we drop in. 

And I need proper meal. You cook so well…”
“…and this ambience. Your home reflects nature’s beauty…” added the husband.

Finally, we proceeded on our journey.

Inside the car:  My lady friend asked her husband, “Why did you eat that beef. It was floating in oil.”

“They would have felt bad…” clarified her husband.

“Don’t forget it’s your body… What kind of people…Oh God! How can they live in such a shabby home…”

“Orthodox. Traditionalists…” added her husband.

“Tell me. What was that odour. Gosh, I couldn’t eat a morsel, seeing her nightie. It had all the masalas that she used for cooking on it…

“Not at all our types…”

“I held my breath while taking the picture beside her…”

Monday, September 23, 2013

I knew she was blowing, yet I got blown

She walked in, too busy to breathe that she instead panted, after having kept me waiting for an hour. Thankfully, it was a shopping mall, and I had an excuse to pamper my feet.

“I’m sorry. I had a crazy day. The head is gone nuts….and…and…. So, tell me, what do you do?”


[We were meeting for the first time, but after she finding out about me over the phone over a period of four months and myself having postponed this first meeting at least half-a-dozen times.]

“Yeah, of course, I know what you do. It’s great knowing you. Ever since Gauri spoke about you, I’ve been wanting to catch up with you. You write so well…”

I nodded. Smiled.

“You’ve got a good sense of humour.”


[I had hardly spoken until then during the face-to-face monologue. And it was almost the same over the phone. I had managed to comment or reply when she remembered to breathe]

So, now I sincerely parted my lips wider, and in way of conversation asked, “Have you read my blogs?”

“Oh, do you blog? I like bloggers. BTW, you are so pleasant and nice to speak to…”

[I did have a choice. I prefer self-chattering to mutual dialogues]

“…So what do you do?”


“Yeah. Apart from your day job…”

Not wanting to give her more monologue fodder, I said, “I sleep.”

“Ah, no wonder you have such glowing skin.”


[This time I held the arm rest]

“Yeah, of course. Nobody has told you this before. And I love your smile.”

“Thank you!”

“…so, tell me what do you do?”


“I mean, you are an editor, yeah.”

“Uh Uh”

“I’ve written something about how our company is hosting an exclusive exhibition on rare stones next month – a first in the GCC. If you could publish it on your site…”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nirbhaya’s closure

This appeared in TFW on Sept 15

Nirbhaya has been delivered justice as the four men are sentenced. Neither do I want to debate the ethics of capital punishment nor human rights as much as the time frame in delivering the sentence versus the mass national reaction. Especially to those ranting ‘closure’.

What is that which has closed. The case? The family’s pain? or The menace called rape? 

The case will drag the appeals route, the family can never overcome her memories and, most importantly, expecting all sick minds in India to having learnt their lesson with one case is wishful thinking. It is a landmark judgement with regards the time within which the guilty were sentenced. I beg to disagree with all those who claim this to be a landmark case. No rape is less gruesome than the other.

And that raises the ugly question of how many times the young girl was tortured by the public in the last nine months. Every time the details of brutality were described and explained she was being maimed yet another time. And so her friend, who is alive to receive the wounds afresh over and over again. If at all anyone has received a ‘closure’, it’s the people who discussed and debated and rallied for the accused to be punished. 

Closure will come when each such case is dealt with in such earnestness. When all the cases languishing in the courts and in police files are served justice, suggesting there will be no more such cases. Can we hope the latter point is no wishful thinking?

The laws need more stringency. Such fast-track measures cannot be applied to all cases that erupt in the nooks  and corners of the country. And, most importantly, morality and consciousness of each individual should rise. Pray at least these are not wishful thinking!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I want to hide my face from Facebook

Mir, 2nd from left at the launch

[Wishing my friend Mir – a humble soul - many, many, many more books…and films and musicals and screenplays and theatre and…he never fails to surprise me. So let me play safe…Here’s wishing you all the best for all your dreams Mir!]

Well, I was invited to speak at this event and I willing accepted to share Mir’s joy. It was fun. A wonderful evening spending time with some creative people…actors, singer and designers among them. Feel blessed. 

But, dear blog friends, knowing myself well, before retiring for the night, I did ask my trusted heart ‘how come I carried myself with such unadulterated √©lan?’

And lo! I woke up to chew my nails. 

I met this lovely lady and instantly took a liking to her. With her cheerful disposition she couldn’t be missed anyway. First I noticed her adjusting her stole as I hugged myself. After a while she repeated her act and we smiled at each other. Because I was now squeezing myself harder to keep my chilling bones warm. A merciless A/C also helps break the ice! I learnt.

Shortly thereafter I learnt she was my co-speaker. With rapt attention I listened to her. Her passionate call to embrace nature to create self-awareness was, I thought, a unique thought. My restless mind, however, wandered to phrase her thought thus – ‘Nature helps cover your nudity!’ [More on why I thought so later].

Well, after delivering our respective duties, we sat talking and sharing our interests. Some mutual and some distant. We exchanged a few numbers and ids and more camaraderie and bid goodbye with a promise of meeting up after a sumptuous spoon n fork-licking dinner.

This morning, my lady friend was smiling at me from my Facebook page. Idiotic me, I first smiled back. And then realized, how come she’s on my page. When did I add her on my friends' list? I shook my sleepy brains awake and asked the query several times over before my eyes did its job better. [Having four eyes do help. The first time in a month I’m happy to have sported glasses]. 

What my eyes discovered made me take my palms to lift my dropped jaw back in place. She’s been communicating with me for a few months now. I’ve cherished some of her comments on my blogposts, too. 

I sent her a sheepish message…and sat to write this to relieve myself of the shame!

PS: She sent me a few smileys in return!