Monday, December 28, 2009

A Messenger on the Sleigh

I lay still … eyes closed enjoying the morning chill. The new mattress on my queen-sized bed appears so cozy that I feel like never waking up. Soft effect of the foam, the plush sheet that covers it and the cute warmth of the comforter … all merges into the dawn of the thirty first.

From the window glasses, I could see smaller flakes … falling as they softly do, from the heavens. This is the dream of the white New Year’s Eve … as I draw the comforter close to my face.

Every winter, during the dawn of the thirty-first of December, I feel there’s a happy dream. A lovely hangover like it has never felt before.

Guess he comes in my dreams … riding his deer-sleigh!

Some romanticism is forever, and it doesn’t always require two to tango … the dream of the old man in red, riding the sleigh, remains visible. With a misty morning waiting me and a hot cup, bells from the reindeer’s neck remain jingling for long.

The mind just doesn’t get up. The body remains wrapped in the warmth of the comforter. And this idle mind keeps romancing the snow capped route with the sleigh!

Flakes fall softly on the window glass, turning into tiny globules of water and drips down. Nothing seems softer than this, not even the quietest fall of leaves. Tiny traces of white shine amidst the green of the small garden around my house.

My mood, there’s none to disturb. Wrapping the comforter around, I walk outside. Just to take that look. The small lane that leads to the neighbourhood winds away a lonelier soul. A chance look towards the letter box reveals it’s half open.

With carefully covered hands, I reach out for the depths of the letter box. A colourful envelope comes out.

In these days of electronic mail, the coloured envelope is a gift indeed. I open it, neatly tearing the border as I walk back inside.

Oh my! She has sent me a New Year’s wish. The warmth of the wrap and the delight of the lines that she has scribbled, my heart warms up. My lonely soul gets the spirit wrapped with those coloured images from the wishes.

Long time no see. Guess she looks at me like this every year. And the old man, the messenger, heeds her request … each year … every year.

Happy New Year … a happy new year indeed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gossips sweet and sour

Winters are bit chillier these days… but many residents from my city are too cautious. The December chill makes them move in neck-high pullovers or warm mufflers wrapped around their much-hyped vocal areas. Or as a fashion statement, may be – the pink cardigan or the puffy sweater from areas like Kashmir or Ludhiana.

From bus stops to coffee shops, most prefer a huddled conversation. More likely is a man-woman combination, often engrossed in the choicest discussion to keep their minds and bodies warm.

Men and women are all covered.

During my stay in US, there was a colleague who had this ‘manly’ habit of drooling on pretty faces and petite female bodies. He was in the billing department. He said he loved ‘working with figures’. But, come winter, he went morose. He cribbed about bodies getting covered from head to toe … fur replacing skin, and woolens covering more of the ‘attractive areas’.

This rarely pleases a hot-bodied man!

Substitute that with a cozy talk, winter seems welcome. Sitting inside the Barista or a CCD, one can work wonders speculating about fellow humans. Personal, sensational and intimate details of lives fall easy prey to speculation and make for some spicy stuff to go with the cup.

No sweat, no exhaustion of summers. Guess gossip time is around the corner.

I am a bad gossipmonger, not because it’s ‘unfair’. I fail to cook stories about others, may be it is not my cup of tea. But, I love to hear tales. Juicy, frivolous and naughty ones that attempts to tear apart a guarded individual it is directed at.

Breaking free from the afternoon naps, I recall aunts and cousins rejoice in winter discussing spicier tit-bits about celebrities, modern (and progressive) relatives or about cases of free-minded neighbours. Most may be predictive, yet the pleasure of dissecting private lives and deriving an enchanting gratification in chatting could be worthy of a chilly afternoon.

Back seats of buses seem no different. Young and old, crossing all barriers would be blabbering mouthfuls of peppery details. The listener can be immediately identified. Their eyes wide open amidst the chill … and all ears to the story despite the cacophony of sound in a frenzied milieu of noisy activities.

One of the latest I overheard the other day was between two co-passengers sitting cozy inside the bus. The subject is a married guy at work who’s ‘handsome’. And there is a lady, the one who wants to make it big. This pair seems to be working late too often. The lady in the bus, covered head-to-waist with her shawl, confides to her male friend (with a muffler around his head) of something going between these two co-workers. She has heard people say that they leave work pretty late. Some are even pointing at a fling developing with all ingredients of an adulterous flow of passion.

I am all ears, but they don’t notice me eavesdropping on their conversation. With due respect to the actors from the conversation, I also find the couple in the bus cooking up a spicy chemistry in their curious tones.

We don’t always need champion golfers. There are enough tigers in our woods catching prey day in and out!

Misty forests of life, chilly days are definitely godsend for some among us.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I feel the only time a man can’t fake his identity is when he’s trapped. Not sure if it is true for all beings on earth. Let research prove it.

Almost five minutes have passed. The elevator hasn’t moved an inch. It had shaken and stopped on its way up … halfway through the eleven floors to get to my office.

We got caught … yes, just the two of us. Of all people, there’s only this girl with me from the call center on the tenth floor. She’s busy listening to her iPod. Aaaaargh … so annoying.

This god-damn elevator doesn’t move. And a co-passenger merrily spending time with earphones tucked to her ears. Plain problem-unconscious!

She looks relaxed. Modern lady … not afraid of unknown men, may be. I feel sick, sweating at the very thought of being with a stranger woman, also getting late for work. Pure frustration!

‘Hello, do you hear me?’, I call up the attendant on ground using the phone.

‘Remain calm, sir’, he advises ‘we are on our way’.

I feel restless. What a mess! For a moment, even the lady seems a sure distraction. She seems so comfortable, that’s irritating. Need to teach her a lesson … do I grope her?

At least, she will get a freaking lesson in life – not to trust strangers!

Her blouse top is cut ridiculously low, exposing a bit of what every man wants to see … but never gets to. Shut up, I need to think sober. I look up to see the light bulbs.

Shall I break them now?

A molestation saga can be a simple routine thereafter. Ah, my damned thoughts again.

The elevator vibrates a little. The lady smiles at me … says ‘looks like they’re working’.

No comments. This is stupidity at its worst. I should have never been in this mess. Guess she feels safe to be with me. I don’t understand the reason.

May be, women prefer to spend time with caring men!

The elevator shakes again, rather a big one. Unable to balance, the lady trips and falls on me. Well, almost. She should have felt sorry. But she’s normal. It’s me who feels uncomfortable.

Feminist world, I grumble. My day won’t be any better.

Hold on, now I’m scratching my head. Did it prove something? Or disprove? A man trapped is definitely a cause of despair. May be I was a bit unfair to this woman.

Ok, let me reconstruct this case, say, with an elder man this time. And let the elevator again get stuck on its way up.

The only person with me on the elevator is this old executive from the tenth floor. This gentleman may be in his late fifties, takes a deep breath every time he hops into the elevator. Yes, he literally jumps into it.

His chauffeur carries his briefcase using the service elevator. Typical babu he is.

There’s an ‘executive’ arrogance, as he looks at me. Silently still, he prefers me to call the ground staff through the phone. I meekly oblige. Senior pro, I feel, elderly person … he should get a preference. My gentle being gives up.

The next thing I hear is, ‘Remain calm … we’re coming up’. I feel good. The elderly gentleman looks around, may be looking at other options … to keep me busy.

‘You work in the eleventh floor?’, he asks.

Stupid question. The fact that I pressed the button marked eleven should have been enough. I think he wants a conversation. Clever fellow!

‘Yes, I do’, I firmly answer.

‘How long do they take to come?’, he queries again.

Now, was I angry? My choicest answer would be ‘well, I’ve never tried locking myself up to test their response time’. But politeness gets the better of me.

‘No idea, just stay calm … they should be here anytime’ was all I mumble.

He asks me to check with them again … as if the entire world reports to him as the executive. I follow again, succumbing to the aura of the executive maturity that he has.

Some three or so minutes pass by. I feel restless, but this gentleman is keen to keep me busy. He reminds me to call them again … and this time I refuse, asking him to stay calm.

There’s annoyance written on his face. As if in this stupid held-up, the only thing that bothers him is me not obeying his orders.

Peculiar humans, I must admit! But are they getting any better with gender or age?

Or do I resist being trapped? Let research prove it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I want to sense Motion

No, I don’t wish to invite the wrath of scientists and technicians who work day in and out around sources of motion. But I must make the truthful confession.

Men have varied addictions. While some smoke, others drink. Another breed is faithful to their wives … and so on. Some men even dare to dash out with their dangling organs to the nearest available prostitute. There can be many more.

Some of them get cured as they resolve to come out of it. But I have this strange addiction – to be physically part of motion and sense it.

And I don’t wish to come out this one.

Decades back, while I was crossing the street, a bicycle came charging towards me. In a fit of fantasy, my ten-year old hand vaguely attempted to stop it … but failed. A bruise on top of the palm, few visits to doctor later, I was hooked to this.

When I see something in motion, I feel to sense it. That’s the charm, in short.

Strange, isn’t it? Yet whatever little I’ve tried to control keeps surfacing back. Few years after the bicycle incident, I was riding pillion on the rickshaw that took us to school. My eyes fell on its revolving wheels. Weeks after observing those wheels, I craved to touch it.

The day came and my left foot was inside while the rickshaw was in motion. I was rushed back home. A tensed mom got my toe stitched by the physician, tetanus injection administered … and warned me to be less of a nuisance for her.

More than the agony, I was completely satisfied!

Another day, I was in the mood to test gravity and the free fall. Getting on top of the school playground jhoola, I started to look downwards. The height could be around ten feet. My mind wanted to sense the gravity.

Instantly, I jumped to ground and fell straight on my face.

The entire central incisor (tooth) from the root came out and the upper lip got badly torn. I bled profusely till the time I was rushed to the doc. The handkerchief held to my mouth started dripping blood. Stitches again … but I remained cool.

Our school principal admired my patience … little did he know that this boy's inner peace was the sense of accomplishment. There was more to come.

During my graduation, one day I was sitting with my (the then) girlfriend on the stairs of my university building. It was early evening. Needless to say, she was an intelligent company, perhaps one of the most intelligent of ladies that I met in this life. The conversation, naturally, kept going … until I looked at my wrist watch.

It was eight thirty … almost an hour after the main gate to the building is closed!

She had to be rescued out. I rushed to the first floor corridor. It was a frantic attempt to get her out of the building to try and avoid a terrific ordeal of scores of scandalous remarks from our surroundings.

And then I decided. I would jump from the balcony, land on the road in front and then rush to the security folks. Pleading them will help, since they will believe me that (only) a lady is trapped inside and they’ll open the gates.

I touched her hands … and within seconds took the plunge. A few minutes later, she was out of the building to my relief. And then she wanted to look at my palms on whose support I landed on the road below. I opened them to her.

With a sudden reflex, she moved her face away from me … palms were all smeared with blood.

It’s hard to contain. Even today, my brains tickle me when the pedestal fan starts to revolve in top speed. Or when the train whizzes past me or the aircraft rushes to fly on the runway, I crave for the motion … and wish to feel it first hand.

For one last time, may be!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Unholy part of truth

Of all the wonderful aspects of life that I have fallen in love with, the fascination for truth is one. From my younger days, I have been a fanatic trying to uncover mysteries surrounding a man’s quest for truth.

During my younger days in school, teachers advocated to speak the truth. It was more than the mere Gandhian call to honesty. My mom, being a lady full of ideals pushed me hard to shun lies of all forms. And here I was, as the devil incarnate, willing to sacrifice everything for truth … and nothing but the truth!

It’s another matter that the truth I followed mostly turned against me.

I had this habit of stealing food from kitchen or refrigerator. Whenever I got this opportunity, a swift act to steal a few spoons of custard kept in the fridge or sugar from the kitchen container was my habit.

When my mom found it out (I consumed in wholesome quantities), the only admission I made was that I did it. The entire purpose of stealing being lost, a strong admonition from my sister added to the stringent punishment from mom.

We siblings were partners in that ‘horrendous crime’.

My mother disliked her son to be growing like a thief, but then her son was different. The obsession to be truthful never failed … and mostly there were punishments in store that sealed her aspirations to make me a decent man.

Back then, during our school days, sexual explorations were mostly myth. But they happened in secrecy. This incident was from my high school days. A girl was proposed by a guy from our class, and they decided to make love in our chemistry lab.

I was a class monitor. The girl came to me with this proposal. She wanted to bribe me so as to help her carry the act. The idea was to have me follow the love-making act with her after she’s done with this guy. But then, I had to lie and support them in case the administration found them out.

The bribe was titillating, but then I was a fanatic for truth. I refused to lie in case required. Not that I was against this ‘unholy’ act, but was scared in case my teacher made a mountain out of a molehill from my statement.

There could be a backlash. None knew the punishment for a misadventure in such sexual acts. The alleged rumour was that boys were suspended, and their private parts unceremoniously ‘scrutinized’.

Sanjay Gandhi’s drive for sterilization was doing the rounds those days!!

Though the adventure stopped, the idea that a darker world lies beneath the truth did expose. I call them unpleasant or the ‘unholy’ truth. And in all my life, I have enjoyed a secret pleasure trying to relish the darker side of the truth.

A distant relative died of cancer, and her husband eloped with the housemaid within the next few days. When the news came to our family, they were shocked. None could explore it further or expose.

For me, it was bonus news. It was a fact that he fled, but this 'truth' wasn't relished. It remained submerged forever in privacy.

Cut to the online world, there were many such instances when I was made party to a truth that could never come out. Strangely though, such facts were damn interesting. Just that they couldn’t be exposed for fear of the backlash!.

Societal norms or fear of retaliation, they even deny the fundamentals of truth!

Every time I think of them, I feel these truths should be documented and shared. And most of these times I feel bad for those who acted in them. Even on those that I had a part, I feel bad for the person who was involved with me for the fact. And so the necessary truth remains undisclosed.

Otherwise, there could be rounds of misdemeanour, love proposals, dates … adultery and so much more that stays within the confines of my own freaking brains.

I fear a backlash. Still reminds me of those days of the nasbandi drive!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some Friendly Calls

These are pressing times, and indeed, some times are pressing enough to make one feel pressed hard to work … and writing takes a step back. So are these times now as I make my way through important areas of life at work.

‘abey saala, where are you?’, inquired the friend on my phone … he was just about looking enraged as I remained lost for him for quite some time.

‘nothing yaar’, I remarked, ‘just tight with work … bus’ was my reply.

But his voice made me feel a bit of comfort, even if it started with some profanity. And markedly enough, such are the ways friendly guys often get to address each other. Boys seem to be so used to it that these have become powerful as friendly salutations.

During our times, we never dared to use obscenities in front of women … not even from the same class in school. But then, this ‘saala’ remained a great favourite among us. No wonder we tried to make some girls comfortable with this one word, no matter how difficult it was to do in our times!

Life has come full circle … and now girls seem to have allowed the entry of such words. Well, may be some of them. Friendly calls, well, few have been pretty obnoxious to even wonder about.

When we were kids, I remember distinctly a sure way to greet parents of our friends was a discreet ‘namaste uncle’ or a ‘namaste aunty’. Nothing more, and they would sure give us a tight hug, or a sweet kiss used to be planted on our docile cheeks.

Addressing elder humans, I must agree, have been easier. But not friends, as they grow pretty interesting at times.

Some time back, here was a guy, though known to me but writing to me for the first time. His was a business mail which started of rather, well, not the way we were used to reading the first mail.

‘hey, remember me?’, and I was quite taken aback!

Was he calling me from among a crowd? I wondered. My limited knowledge of the English language didn’t help either. I was disappointed, why would I even respond to such a mail?

I was probably wrong. Not knowing really that this salutation would soon become one of the more comfortable ones in the professional world. Though I felt a bit lost at first, gradually the ‘hey’ didn’t remain just a shout … it became a loud call … something I was asked to hear.

In the web world, when I was new, there was quite a bit of confusion when I first read someone comment on my writing as ‘dear, loved your writing …’.

‘Dear?’, I said to myself … ‘why would I be dear to her?’ But that was three years back.

This lady (a big girl now) remains a great friend of mine … and indeed she can be called dear today. She is a dear friend, and remains dear with whatever she stands for in life.

‘Dear friend’ is a salutation that we often use in writing, and so the word ‘dear’ now seems closer to me than it was before. Now I use ‘dear’ freely, without any sense of gender or any discrimination. A harmless address, the ‘dear’ seems a comfortable call for me.

At least, I can put to text some additional affection to my friends who richly deserve it.

I can’t end without this episode from my school life. Here was this very good-looking girl, Priya, who we naturally loved to play with. We were in Class three, and happily enjoying the first seeds of the flirted life!

Priya was a darling … and honestly, we were quite baffled with her baby beauty. Those plump cheeks, all pink … and the wonderful black hair neatly tied with ribbons. That day, I decided to call her and play hide and seek. Oh well, she initially agreed … and then in the midst of play, I dared to seek out those who were hidden.

Among the bushes in the far corner of the school ground was Priya, hidden among the greenery. When I went to seek her, she was caught absolutely unaware. With a sudden jerk, I screamed from behind on seeing her in the bushes. She was shocked … and within seconds, started to cry loudly. Out of fear, I supposed.

Honestly, a not-so-fair guy has never looked decent among the bushes!

She got really angry on that day. Poor me, for no fault of mine, she also started to dislike me afterwards. Those junior primary days, I thought love and hate were just four-letter words. But the wiser disagreed. This friend, a hunk by the name Bharat Bhushan, advised

‘Ulloo ke patthey, why do you always indulge with snob girls?’, he retorted, ‘they are not fit for you, you understand? … just remain with those who are good sport’.

The offensive word translates to ‘son of the owl’. Still on that occasion, when I was totally confused as to why Priya had started to hate me, even the ‘Ulloo ke Patthey’ gave a lot of encouragement!

To this day, I abide by those words of wisdom.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Emotional Icons

He was brooding … and all through the chat session with me, he kept complaining that he didn’t feel like writing again. The symbol :( was all over … and I could sense that he had developed a feeling against writing.

I wrote – ‘we can’t live if we don’t express, can we?’

He seemed to agree. On the same note, I wrote again – ‘to write is to live this virtual life, isn’t it?’

This time he smiled … and soon this happier icon emerged on the chat window – :)

A smiley needs no introduction. Nor does the sigh … emoticons are friendlier these days. When these were introduced to me a few years back, I had initially frowned. Not knowing whether a person can really show such emotions virtually.

To this date, I have smiled, frowned, sighed virtually … and every time I do that (at times they are reciprocated by another virtual person), I feel extremely curious.

Did the person actually do ‘that’ while she (or he) was typing those words for me?

Pure selfish thoughts, but I feel for that moment when a person punctuates words with that exemplary symbol of emoticon attached. Feels like a thousand words in addition to the text.

Emotions on Net aren’t rare … but when they come in the form of symbolic icons, I feel a change from the way I interpret the accompanied text.

Am I becoming a too addictive to cyber emotions? May be, I always was.

During an interesting chat, I prefer to tease with fewer words but leave a wink … the wink that has grown into a cult symbol now among friendly circles. They are so like the real life, where a ‘strategic’ wink adds more value to the prank … and delivers a sporting feeling within the conversation.

Interestingly enough, I like those who have made ‘wink’ a form of art while they text. Not sure whether some are shy in using that, though in India there were societies that once discouraged a wink, at least the physical one!

Do they still do so? I would never know.

An exception is when someone gets angry, there is a considerable lesser use of emoticons. I don’t fully understand that, but could be because there are fewer icons to represent the facial expressions of anger.

Frustrations can be vented, yet the use of emoticons could have made it even more meaningful. Just as there are no emoticons to show mental sadness … and for those darker times of gloom. Why would that be?

Years ago, a friend was devastated that the guy who she had loved had to leave her life. We had a conversation that lasted an hour … and she sounded completely distraught. A poet that she was, her words were deep and meaningful. At times she did stop for a moment to ponder on her life.

There was a need for emoticons … at least for the silent flow of tears that I could feel coming from her words. I felt as if she needed something more to express.

Alas, she could not. There were no emotional icons to deliver the punch in her sadness.
Her heart was heavy, the mood sullen … yet such emotions were limited to using only words. Nothing more added to the meaning.

Looking back, I like to ask – are emoticons only for comfortable times?

This may not be true always … but emotions are well expressed when they are dark and deep. Also when they hurt the most, and in case they hurt our own self.

The question is – whether someone would like to use icons even during sad times. I am consciously open to a debate, though there isn’t much to suggest why they won’t. If they could give a big grin or stick their tongues out in jest, why would they not silently post a symbol in case they fall short of words … when they just feel too heavy inside to write something meaningful to convey?

To this date, I feel for the lady on that day. She remained unexplored on emotions!

Ending on a happier note, I must mention this young friend of mine. She is an angel, a person who had a not-so-happy past as a child … but has definitely expressed her emotions to me at times to free her soul. Needless to write, I have tried my best to give my full support. The other day she was so happy after I wrote her a mail encouraging her to never look back at her life.

In that happiest moment after reading my mail, she felt ecstatic. And in response, she wrote only two lines. She wrote,

“thanx a ton ….

Muuuuaaaaaahhhhhhs … and loads of ‘em for ya”

Virtual kisses! Don’t they give the feel of the same moistness as they do in real life?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The night I wanted to die

She wanted to sleep with me, it was I who refused.

Why? I don’t know. May be since we weren’t married yet.

“You’re a kid”, she said

“But I don’t like to be too adult” (I intended the pun)

It was at the Flagstaff hotel, near the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Double bed, three-star – Courtyard by Marriott was the name.

“Do you ever feel like making love, dear?”

“I do. But not the way you think I should”, I replied

“Honey, I want to feel your warmth”

“I can feel it, but then I can’t sleep with you”

“How do you feel?”

“From your presence, the soft presence … your touch … so warm”

“Like me touching you?”

“Yes, or when you gently touch your lips with mine”

“Still you won’t sleep with me tonight?”

“I don’t think so … don’t quite get the zing”

“Why the hell?”, She seemed frustrated.

“’cause I feel it will get too body-body … and there will be no warmth left after to enjoy”

“You are such a freak!”

“Yeah, miss, I am … and you’re in the company”

She went out of the room on that chilly November night. Standing on the balcony, she took a strong puff from her cigarette.

As if she vented all her anger on the butt.

I remained unfazed. I wasn’t aroused … the whole sleep feel put me off.

Hours later, she came back. I lay still in bed, dreaming of the deeper ravines we visited that morning. In one of those darker corners of the canyon, amidst the coloured rocky layers on the walls of the gorge, I felt as if we lay still.

She had clasped my lips with hers.

We lay there. Lifeless.

I enjoy death … or being dead. I kept thinking to die on that day. No passion touched me, no erotica … I felt like a soul floating amidst the Colorado River bed … unhindered.

Do saints feel like that?

She touched my back … softly moving her nose on me, and caressed my body with her lips.

“That’s you ... so much you”, I mumbled

“Do you like this?”

“I do, don’t mind you sitting by my side the whole night”

“But you don’t like me to lie by your side and sleep?”

“Ah, why don’t you understand?”

“I do, I do … it’s you sometimes who miss my beats”

“I am sorry, deeply sorry … I mean it”

“You don’t have to … just sleep tight”

She got up, and quietly went to sleep in her own bed.

… … …

That night, I really wanted to die. Amidst those deep dark brown ravines.

It’s another story that I failed in death.

Can’t we just die on purpose?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My ‘Cattle-Class’ identity

In my more than twenty trips abroad and forty-plus flights, I have enjoyed ‘cattle class’ throughout. Yeah, this term is almost synonymous to ‘economy’ and more so ‘austerity’ that’s doing the rounds in the corridors of power these days.

Except may be once when my luck got smeared with the muck from ‘holy cows’. I will write about it towards the end.

‘Cattle class’ travelling isn’t all that bad, contrary to the tweet from the minister that hit headlines recently. It has its own advantages (and few disadvantages). I keep thinking of the advantages more … since some males (unlike the minister), I presume, have an adventurous strain in genes left in them to explore.

They keep dreaming about ‘that’ moment of sheer fun among the herd… at least I do!

A flight from the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) during my early days of travelling some fifteen years back reminds me of absolute liquor luxury. These flights had robust looking maidens who served intoxicating bottles … as soon as the flight touched some altitude.

Yes, I have some of the prized moments drinking high in the atmospheric zone … and never failed an opportunity to enjoy them in the company of my herd.

To drink red wine, chardonnay or the hotter varieties in the company of damn good-looking damsels is divine. That too on an altitude as high as thirty to forty thousand feet!

You need some attitude to do that, believe me. Some guts, and some daring hot blood must flow to keep drinking while they serve. You seem to get noticed as a saner man while other cattle in the herd create nuisance.

Imagine a lady who is serving and also admiring your attention … you love that, right? Sad, the minister may not like it!

The other thing I never miss is the concert that starts as soon as night falls in the aircraft. Men have noses that snore, we all know that. Recently feminine noses among the herd have started producing funnier interludes.

Combine this cacophony of sound … and they all merge into a wonderful mid-air concert. The ones that are high-pitched are well-balanced by the sombre ones in lower levels. To this day I remain awake just to enjoy this musical event mid-air.

From a photograph released recently, I feel the minister may have been part of this concert too during his cattle class flight.

Well, I said, may be.

One aspect that I dreamt in the company of the holy cows in business class is the singular attention of the air hostesses. Soon after boarding, they would pull down the curtains separating the business class. It is like what women do when they would say, want to make love … or may be, change their dresses.

I wondered what they did to the few elite business class individuals. My brain started to zoom around in a fantasyland dreaming. May be passengers in business class get their faces wiped or may be the hostesses sit by their side and share a drink!

Amidst such holistic confusions, I boarded a British Airways flight from London’s Heathrow Airport. They had given me a boarding pass with the seat number which never existed in the flight (even foreigners do this in foreign land!). The aircraft was full and I was hurriedly handed a boarding pass with the seat number 4E just before boarding.

Poor me! One who was destined to ride cattle class and merge among the herd … was courteously told to enjoy a business class meant for holy cows!

The seat seemed much spacious to contain the lower part of my body. Window appeared bigger, and there was a folded leather flap to contain privacy from my only fellow passenger – an old white fellow who looked more like a Yorkshire historian.

My curious mind picked the flight manual and started to memorize operations for the space that I proudly occupied. Very soon the flight started to taxi … and they pulled down the curtains separating the ‘cattle’ from us.

Blood inside my veins started flowing as if the heat was irresistible. I could sense rapids being formed during the blood flow … and soon the petite lady was in front of my seat with a tray holding the goblet. I could see the yellow fluid inside, and quietly made some room so that she could sit by my side.

I took the goblet softly and put it on my tray table.

‘Thank you, sir’, she said … and politely smiled as she left the place. I stared blankly at her … and soon realized that, unlike my dreams, passengers on this side of the aircraft also wiped their own faces with tissues.

That night, the old fellow by my side learnt from me how to switch on the reading lamp, and how to recline the seat. I wondered if he was also an erstwhile passenger among the cattle merely shifted among the holy cows by the call of fate.

Night was silent … while the cattle class enjoyed a concert. I didn’t hear that anymore.

Worst was to come … a lady well dressed almost fell on me while I was quietly making my way to the toilet. She looked up at my face in her daze and smiled … as if the word ‘sorry’ was hidden within her coloured lips. Flirtatious men may be seizing such opportunity copiously, who knows!

My flight landed on time … and I was escorted by another hostess to the aircraft door. I looked back … wished her good bye … but could never forget the below-average ride inside the business class.

Back in my hotel, I promised to remain faithful to my cattle class … I don’t wish to merge among holy cows anymore.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To my unborn love poem

‘Why can’t I write a love poem?’

My idle mind wondered. There are so many good poets around who weave their magic wand on those wonderful thoughts they have in their minds. They bind verses of romance … rhyme them, those poignant moments of love and passion … in flesh and blood.

Poor me, I can’t even think of a poem, leave aside a love poem. I sat down to realize what happens when I start to think.

Last time, when I sat to think about a poem, the tom-cat of my neighbour howled so badly as if he was bitten by a six feet lobster. And god, what a nasty trouble-maker this animal is … so I just shut up. There was no point in arguing the crisis with him.

Cats in my neighbourhood are usually peaceful with humans. But they have messy relations within their clans. Sometimes, humans have to bear these fights too.

Guess the intervention of human lives make feline lives miserable! I will write about that later.

There are other times, particularly when I sit to think, some distraction would take my mind away. As soon as I dream of the beauty … that silk-like hourglass figure approaching me … a tiny mosquito would whiz past my sensitive earlobes, making that disturbing humming sound that is so difficult for me to tolerate.

I am engulfed with that monotonous buzz with which I have spent more time than I may have spent with all lady friends in my entire life … isn’t it damn disgusting?

Our city is home to a million mosquitoes, and a sizable of them are branded as Anopheles – the malaria carrier.

Finally, I sit down and start thinking of the lady love whose poignant emotions would make love with my readers. And here she comes … and lo and behold, she comes with her man. Just when I would be pondering seriously how to seduce the lady with my charismatic verses, the lady deprives me of her company.

Aargh, I exclaim … such times are damned.

Thousand and one times I had thought of this lovely lady of this imaginary poem. And ten thousand times, she appeared to have just come to spend her love with her man … that she was never mine.

So much for mental distraction …

These days the lady that I visualize rides her man’s bike – the fatfati type. You know those god-damned screaming silencer wallahs, don’t you? For some reason, I just hate them … and my entire soul dies a few thousand deaths the moment I hear one such damned vehicle speed past my house.

In my whole life, I never believed in these noisy machines. I drove around a decent car for around five continuous years without honking for pleasure. I was absolutely cop-free and, even though once I had to drive thirteen hours from Chicago to New York city in my vintage 89 Honda Civic, never had to blow the horn until I hit the highways of the city.

What does that mean? It simply means I hate screaming bikes … and I hate a lot of noise too. So, the lady of my romantic verse loses contact with me the moment she decides to ride on her man’s fatfati.

Which also means that such ladies are not made for my poem … at least not the romantic types. In whole, that unborn poem keeps begging for the lost love.

May be there’s no love left in me and my poor soul, huh. May be I am no love-material, at best a man growing old … mostly resigned to the chores of mundane life.

Work, retirement, cholesterol, heart attack … obituary – that’s all I am destined to.

I have tried day dreaming, fantasizing in the evenings … even attempted sweet dreams at night. It’s another story that most of such dreams have become nightmares by now … and I have a sinking feeling that I will never really manage to write a good love poem.

With so much love around, why would a fairly love-friendly man (and this is no bragging) remain so inept at writing love poems?

May be the tom-cat, the bewildered mosquito or my hero’s fatfati bikes have an answer!

I need an abortion of mind … at least for now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dedicated to Drunkards (D2D)

Little drinking is a dangerous thing, I have grown to admit.

Life’s loved liquid flows through our systems right from levels of anatomy to the ultimate of physiological pleasure. Some love it cold (like the drinking water or the chilled milk), others love it hot – like tea, coffee (from local stuff including that from the joints of Thiruvananthapuram to international ones like Maxwell House, Folgers etc.). But men like us love both the hot and hard – varieties that are available in liquor shops.

Drinking alcohol like crazy is an art, and drinking to hearts content is divine.

The last time when I remember being completely drunk, I was cleaning up puke from an upgraded human variant from my work. He was dead drunk, the kind who barely had the ability to cling on to life, and do nothing else. Ask him about sexy Madonna (the celebrity), and he would simply trip over. So much for male intoxication!

We escorted him to his bedroom, and made him lie down. He was literally on life support.

Awake till late at night, I remember inserting a long iron wire through the clogged wash basin drain in an attempt to flush the dirt. The funny part is, I never smelt the puke.

Guess cleaners should be drunk while cleaning … they won’t feel the stink ever.

Poor guy, after he filled up the basin with that magenta body fluid, he had to sit tight on the toilet floor. With his hands firmly embracing the toilet bowl, he continued the next phase of divine throw-up. Holy clearance, I wondered, since his stomach was detoxified in no time … and soon he was snoring his way to glory.

I returned to join the gang to complete the session … all after cleaning the filth. It’s discourteous to retire being conscious from a booze session. I follow it religiously!

You either retire unconscious … or formally empty the bottle(s) and then leave.

Another friend of mine also happened to be a great drinker … scotch, rum (or the Long Island iced Tea cocktail) … to vodka, champagne and all the fairer variety. His liquid appetite was quite gorgeous … and so was his penchant to stay addicted. His hangover used to remain till the wee hours of night … sometime crossing over to early mornings.

In one such booze party that we had during the weekends, this guy drank a lot. Beyond his usual content, it was our consistent provocation that made him drink so much.

Then he suddenly sprang up from his stupor … ordered all folks around to his bed … and started to explain the concept of ‘Inertia’ … as if from his text book on Physics … and in chaste Bangla.

For a second, he seemed like the young Einstein who was heavily under the influence! And we, offspring of English medium parents, were thoroughly confused to hear unknown terminology … that too in a state of absolute daze.

Booze parties were nasty at times, there were sadistic explosions about men we despised, women we loved to seduce and above all, the entire clientele who let us slog for hours and hours at work. Those were blessed moments of confession … to the Holy Infinity … lest His wrath fell on us.

Reminds me of another colleague who used to stay with us in the office guest house during a short assignment for which we had to go to Chennai. He seldom drank. On that day, this guy had a deadly mix of beer with whisky, and had the premonition of a divine light.

He wished to meditate.

Let me quickly explain his attire. Whenever he was in the guest house, he would wear a loose lungi (the male cloth wrap around the waist). To cap the fun, he never tied the knot to fasten the cloth … and would hold the cloth ends in his hands as he loitered around.

On this day, there wasn’t any difference as he sat to drink.

The problem came soon after. He got drunk consuming that deadly cocktail… and now we were afraid he would suddenly get up and start walking in a trance. In that case, his lungi knot unattended, we were very sure to see him the way he came to this world – stark naked waist down.

But Almighty had other plans … and so the guy suddenly felt a need to meditate. He sat there upright with his eyes tightly closed.

This was a meditation he wanted to do desperately being under the influence of alcohol. He meditated so hard that we could hear him snoring after a point of time. But he managed to stay upright.

We retired to our respective rooms … while this guy was sitting there the whole night.

Luckily he was alive … woke up the next morning … from the same place he started the meditation (I mean the sleep). Good that he remembered to clutch the piece of cloth that wrapped around his waist as he got up … we were saved from some harsh naked stuff.

Looking back, I have sipped enough … and some say my deliriums are hilarious. More of that some other day, may be.

What is left to sip may be limited to some version of the holy 'shivambu' (urine therapy), the country liquor 'chullu' or the ultimate KCN … yeah potassium cyanide.

May be some other day!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Aroma of the raindrops

Param took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh air from his surroundings.

The parched soil outside his apartment had just got the first showers of the season. He looked beyond the balcony, raindrops falling on the narrow driveway overlooking his apartment. He could smell the fresh scent of the wet soil.

Nothing smells as soothing as the soil when it rains after a dry summer spell.

Manju would have arrived by now. But this sudden shower, she may have been caught in the traffic. She carries a scent of the misty perfume whenever she visits his house. And the fragrance, he could sense it right when Manju sets her feet on the entrance.

Smell of his love, he closed his eyes … and took a deep breath again. The aroma from the soil seemed pure romance.

All things don’t need to be seen … to feel is heavenly too!

On that day he had taken the day off, just to spend some time with Manju. She was in the city on a work trip, extending it to cover the weekend with her lover.

A bottle of Bordeaux lay on his glass table top. He wanted to uncork it, but preferred to wait. Manju loved the sound of the cork popping out, followed by the fresh flavour of the red wine. May be she could open it.

There are days when flavours mingle, and today could be such a day, Param wandered.

The doorbell rung, he felt the odour of misty perfume. She gave a naughty wink as she entered, rubbing her shoes on the door mat. Manju was partly wet, at least her soft hairs were dripping, and so were the sleeves of her petite looking pink shirt.

But the rain had done her what the perfume could not. Her misty flavour was now merged with a humid essence. Param could sense an effect, it was electrifying.

A few drops of rainwater from her untied hair fell on the floor. By then, he had embraced her in a tight hug. Her entire body had an odour – a mix of her perfume, the humid air from the rains … and the collective spurt of her excited hormones.

Param rubbed his nose with hers, his hands slip under her shirt in an effort to touch her fragrant body contours. She was breathing heavily. As she uttered a faint moan, he could sense her exhaled air smell that much raw in passion.

He was in a mood to breathe today! And he left no areas of her body that he could not lay his nose into. The scent of raw passion, he felt, could leave one’s nose so full.

Soon they were joined … in pursuit of the flavour of bodily love. Much later, as he lay alone with his eyes closed, he could romance the fragrance around.

And then he sensed the sound of the cork popping out of the Bordeaux bottle. He got up from the couch. A pronounced whiff of the red wine, he couldn’t have missed. Manju had two glasses in her hand, her dishevelled shirt barely masking a cosy foreplay they had gotten into a few minutes back.

‘Raindrops seem golden when passions run high, as goblets add a fragrance of life’, whispered Param as he raised his drink to that of Manju’s.

‘You smell like the night we first touched each other’, Manju muttered as she led her hands into his hair. He was almost sitting on her lap, in his attempt to cuddle her more.

The two kept talking, as if they had been united for decades. It was just three months that Manju had relocated, and Param was already feeling lonely. The rains had stopped for the moment, and a westerly breeze blew through the living room.

Ah, Param felt, nature couldn’t have been more soothing. The first showers, and then a cool breeze, he sipped the wine as if it was nectar from the heavenly cellar.

That was a year back, and a fresh monsoon has arrived all over again.

Soft breeze transmits the fragrance of nature faster than anything else. It breathes new life into an old flame.

Param went back to his state of hibernation. That night the pillow covers had given out the essence of musk. He breathed her … the perfume, the humid climate and the hormones … and those drops of sweat between her nostrils and the lips. She had herself breathing the way she felt Param when they had first touched each other … their palms lay entwined in an expression of conjoined copulation.

Manju is relocating again … this time to Buffalo, New York.

He kept thinking of the distance … sitting on his chair, he felt a fresh bout of breeze suddenly transcend into his balcony. It as like a fresh flow of free air from seas may be.

She wants to take him with her … to pursue a life of love away from his home.

‘Does it rain on dried soil in New York?’ ‘Does breeze blow with the nature’s aroma?’

Param could not recline on his chair … this time he had to get up and complete his files. His last day at work is tomorrow … he must rush.

The misty perfume beckoned him. Her soft palms and the area between her nostrils and lips … so raw.

He wanted to smell her breath again, across the seas … in a new land.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Eclipse

There isn’t a better fun than observing celestial happenings right in front of our eyes.

I have been a person who has the least idea about astronomy (or astrology). But my appetite for watching celestial dispositions is enormous. Many nights I looked upwards watching constellations, meteor showers … and comets.

It all started with a visit to planetarium as a schoolboy, as a huge kingdom lay unveiled before my eyes. By the time I completed watching the Hale Bopp comet from my living room window, in US, it had quietly developed into a passion. And then, my eyes tried to identify an unidentified object in the night sky (turned out to be the glowing Mars) around two years back and now the solar eclipse, it has been a fabulous journey.

A full eclipse, which made the early morning of the twenty second day of July this year, was definitely exciting. Not that I ‘revel’ in the sun being covered (or eaten up) by the shadow of the moon, the entire phenomenon of a smaller sphere entirely covering up the bigger one baffles me.

This couldn’t have been any more interesting.

From the time of the Rig Veda and the imaginary Rahu eating up the goblet of fire, this astronomical fact has ‘demoralized’ more than surprising humans. The Chinese Shang dynasty also assumed a huge monster, devouring the sun.

Greeks, I feel, were less spontaneous in acknowledging it as an omen. Zeus, the father of Olympics, is ‘credited’ to have hidden the sun in mid-day and making night.

Another story speaks of the war of Peloponessiam where Agathodes and his men experienced the eclipse as they escaped from their defeat. What a way to run away from the battlefield than to merge in the darkness due to sun’s hiding! Thy name is human … else how can he use the eclipse as a camouflage!!

Egyptian pharaohs circled around the temple, thinking this act of theirs will maintain the balance of the earth. I presume, as representatives of the Sun God, they had some responsibility towards the planet they inhabited.

Honestly speaking, I am yet to understand this enormous puzzle – how does the shadow of moon, much smaller, be exactly the same size to engulf the entire view of the sun?

Coincidental, they say … but then, quite mind-boggling for me. This may be due to my poor grasp of the planetary actions. Though I am quite aware about eclipses where moon’s shadow appears smaller, referred to as annular eclipses in astronomy.

Mankind be blessed, yet this act of hide-and-seek indeed glorifies the dichotomy of the darker and the brighter aspects of life.

Getting up in the morning, on the day of the eclipse, I felt the urge to stand around the narrow corridor along the moon’s penumbra that goes through the middle of Southeast Asia. Simply put, this means my roof in the city of Kolkata!

What does the eclipse tell me? Why is it that I consider the eclipse with such hype?

This may have to be with a feeling of a superpower appearing vulnerable. Seems that the monarch of the solar system seem a shade faded out because of an ‘apparent annihilation’. Or is it that we seem to be intrigued by the idea of a superior power succumbing to the might of a much inferior satellite of a mediocre planet?

Like, may be, the great Brutus rendered a bit weak by Caesar’s less-known detractors in Shakespeares’ play. A weakness that may have snatched the heroic life of Caesar!

At the centre of a democratic co-existence, the moon gets to raise its head and show its prominence in shadowing the mighty sun. Smaller citizens, I feel, should get a fair chance of proving their class once in a while in front of masters …

What do you say? Does that really make any sense?

From Vadodara, and Varanasi to Surat and Siliguri, this eclipse gave a fascinating view. To even imagine the next one is around a hundred years away suddenly gives one jitters, about the incredible fallibility of life.

And when it was all over, it was a routine day. Kids got ready for school, while their parents rushed to their breakfast table in preparation for their day of hard work.

The sun, undeterred at the humanly confusion, seemed to shine bright as ever. It was, as if there was nothing called ‘an eclipse’.

* Photos are clicked by me! Click photograph for bigger view.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Impatient Soul – Part II

She circled around him ... once, twice and so on. They say seven such circles complete the quest for the life partner. But she didn't want that tonight.

Why would she leave him married now? Why would she do it when he couldn’t even sense her?

Another circle and she flew around … in a jest that was so like Tara, the unbridled soul.

Vishal tried to look around, eyes vague as ever. He did notice a movement. The curtains flew and the table lamp vibrated … the bed sheet appeared to flap its corners.

Is it the wind?

Vishal felt as if he was not alone in this room. For some reason, the room smelt as if Tara was inside. He could sense something unusual … other than ordinary.

Has she come back … for once?

She teased him … gave his couch a gentle push. Vishal looked back … felt a movement, but didn’t find a grain of life. His body had developed a nagging ache … something that may have resulted from days of not eating, and his living off the bottle.

He got up … and hesitated to open the laptop lying on the table.

Why would he look at the last e-card Tara sent before leaving office? He tried his best to get up … but his feet felt numb.

Was he paralyzed waist down?

Something alerted him … but not before he got this push again from behind. He got up … and tried to stand on his feet. She laughed again, this time louder than before.

Vishal sensed the longing for Tara. He muttered, ‘Tara … are you here? Please come back … I need you’ his voice choked.

Tara’s spirit stopped for a moment. Did she expect her lover to be so weak at heart?

Wasn’t he man enough to take that in his stride?

Poor men, she thought. They seem so strong yet are so weak from inside. Sensitive creations of God, she thought … but let him grieve. At times, the distance did bother her too. She was free to roam around. Still Vishal couldn’t romance her anymore.

The laptop was switched on. While it booted, Vishal could sense that the room had slowly been filled with a known smell … as if Tara was there … right beside him.

Vishal signed on his internet, and opened his mailbox. In the last three days, there was a bunch of mail that piled up on his neatly maintained inbox. But Tara’s last e-card stood out, the one that he didn’t see from Wednesday.

He didn’t want to then, but today he was longing to see her final message:

Sweetie, now you smell me right? Keep longing for me … and when you return to your bed tonight, feel me as much as you can. Watch out before I make my first attempt to visit your kitchen. Beware, naughty birthday boy! ... Mmmuuuuaaaah

She did sign off … but she never got to enter his kitchen. The meal she had planned had passed away with her. He remained unfed … those candles were never lighted.

Tara’s spirit looked at him from behind the half-opened cupboard door. Vishal had closed the mail … and she kept looking straight at his wet eyes.

His hands reached for the glass. He poured a few drops of raw scotch into his dried throat. His eyes twitched … the face made that cryptic sign of gulping the rough, rugged drink on the rocks.

He looked back at the inbox. Somewhere on the top, there was another message with the subject – ‘get well soon, Vishy’. The sender was Anuja, his best buddy from work. He hadn’t noticed it earlier … and clicked to open it.

‘Dear, love is a journey that unfolds tragedy at every step … yet the passion remains’, she had put just a single line.

Vishal paused. He seemed to get a subtle hint from Anuja’s message.

Anuja expected him to understand her growing affection for him. He thought for a moment … his vision blurred. From behind the cupboard door panel, he could see a darker shadow move swiftly towards the window.

Before he could sense the movement, she erupted in a demonic laughter. This time, the sound echoed around all corners of the bedroom. The curtains shivered, the table lamp shook and the bed sheet seemed to fly away from the bed. Vishal sensed an eerie break in silence as he fumbled to close the mailbox and shut the laptop down.

Vishal clasped his hands, in an act urging forgiveness from Tara. He never meant to read this message. Anuja was far away … much farther than where Tara used to be.

Within seconds, her spirit made one hurried circle around him. The room trembled as if there was a tremor … the glass window panes crackled.

And then it rushed out violently through the window.

Never to return again.

Click here to read The Impatient Soul - Part I