Monday, December 01, 2008


Mumbai - 26th November 2008

I feel Numb.

I feel angry.

I feel frustrated.

Most of all I feel let down, by myself and my society.

We in India live between two poles, one of idealism and the other of crass opportunism. Very seldom if ever do those two poles ever cross each other's paths. It is as if we dream of an ideal india but have settled comfortably in this opportunistic version without much qualms (have I read that somewhere, maybe).

We accept loose standards as we expect others to accept our loose standards. We object to corruption and inefficiency till the same corruption and inefficiency is needed to get us out of trouble.

The change we want, we expect others to deliver, maybe our politicians, maybe our media, maybe our police or judiciary without realising that these are people are but reflections of our collective souls, they are us. Change if anything needs to come from within and if we ever inventory the things that need change, it is indeed a very long and depressing list.

Only in moments of anger or sadness do we voice our idealism yet we willingly shelve the idealism along with the changing winds of the media stories.

In time, we will forget the security lapses, the huge delays to get the NSG in action, the snipers who didn't even have telescopic lenses and the absolute leadership vacuum this country went through the last few days.

I would daresay we would forget even those who lost their lives and also the bravery of heroes like Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, ATS Chief Hemant Karkare and many others. As horrible and callous as that thought sounds now, history suggests that we will do just that.

I feel angry with us the society, individually and collectively for this ability to easily forget and move on. We may be eloquant in our words, for awhile and even be moved by our own belief of what is right but let a few weeks pass and we WILL forget.

We will go back to our coccoon of our daily lives, living in the false impression that we and our near and dear are and will always be safe, not knowing that our very acceptance of the inefficiency that surrounds us and is fed by us is putting everything we cherish in danger.

If we crave change let us change ourselves first and let us for heavens sake never ever forget.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who Wears The Pants? An Economist's View

Tim Hartford of the Undercover Economist fame in answer to a question "I am a father of three teenagers and happily married for almost 20 years. In my opinion the secret to my success is a traditional one, which is that there is no doubt about who wears the trousers. I am wondering whether there is any support in economic theory for my view?", opines,
The paterfamilias household is no more.

How, then, should we reconcile this with your own situation, which seems comfortably wedged in the 1950s? My guess is that your wife and children have decided that it suits them to maintain your delusions of control.
Sigh. Guess my gut-feel was right after all. Read the full reply here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Money Money Money...

I'm not against Reality TV per se, I happen to like a few of the shows the Amazing Race, The Weakest Link etc. But it's wierd that almost most of these shows are now about bagging some big chunk of change (when they are not about some dysfunctional celeb that is). I remember the days when the ole quiz shows run in India (Quiz Time by Siddharth Bannerjee comes to mind) etc used to be really nail biting and highly interesting but the winners didn't get a lot of money just a memento or something like that. The point was to compete for the sake of competition.

Take a show like the Amazing Race for instance there are millions of folks who would just give their left arm to take part in an across the world competition like that (yours truly included). So why the million bucks?

With more and more money involved shows that have started lowering their standards substantially, why else would you have a show like 'Are you smarter than a fifth grader?'You may say that this kind of a show is more about pressure and stuff like that but thats just for the contestants, what about the viewing audience, are these guys promoting the quiz or someone walking away with a pot load of money. Think about it.

Money used to be a ways and means of obtaining some of the things you want in life but isn't it becoming our central quest? Are we really ok with that?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

After losing the elections Sarah Palin was asked to look into the camera and say "I'm not smarter than a fifth grader". Apparently the question thet flummoxed her was "Is Africa a Continent or a Country?", without using any of her of her cheats (copy, peek or save) she confidently replied "Country"!

Well this would have been just a funny incident if we forget the fact that this lady was pretty close to being a 72 year old heartbeat away from being the President of United States. Watch the Fox News report...

(What the f*** was McCain thinking? h/t Talking Points Memo)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Random News

America Votes. The Dow Jones is up 284 pts the last time I checked, what do they know?

Is TV a reflection of the society itself or does society imitate TV?. A study now links teen pregnancies with Television in the US.

A coupla comedians in Montreal called up Sarah Palin pretending be the French President Nicholas Sarkozy. I guess she couldn't see France from her front door, coz she was punk'd!

Back to the Future. Could the world economy be back to a Bretton Woods type structure? Gold, anyone?

And the serious news of the day Simon Cowell gets dumped! Apparently his girlfriend didn't enjoy his singing in the bathroom so much. Hehe Ok I made the last thing up.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why do we take for granted the things we should cherish the most? What if there was no tomorrow? or next week? or next year?

Something to think about

We are a dirty & disorderly country, right? So how come our Airport terminals are so clean? How come the new corporate offices are so spic and span? What about those shiny clean malls? How come people don't drop things on the floor, spit on the stairways or urinate on the side of the building there? How come people queue up politely in Airports, Offices & Malls (and rush into trains & busses) The argument that the kind of people who use Airports, Malls and work out of swanky offices are different doesn't really hold much water anymore. Since the very same people also use trains, busses and the roads as well.

In one of the schools that I had spent time in, (I say spent time in, since to say that I studied in any of those would be stretching reality to it's limits), the Principal tested out a new way of vending out packets of sweet at the school canteen. He left a big vessel of sweets and a bowl to collect 25 paise coins (one per every packet of sweet) and there was no one to supervise the students. Sure there were some students who found this a great opportunity but there were lots of others who actually took a packet of sweets and left a 25 paise coin in the bowl. This initiative was a resounding success in the school.

While I know that the analogy is a lil sketchy my point is that people are pretty much the same anywhere in the world, it's how they are treated and the quality of amenities & service that they get, that determines how they behave in an environment. I'm sick of stupid radio & tv shows that talk about 'educating' people and creating 'awareness' about keeping their city clean. Bullshit! The problem doesn't lie with someone throwing garbage & stuff on the road, the problem lies in the fact that there is no other place to throw it in.

Give people better roads, better public utlities, better sidewalks and I firmly believe that people will be responsible in their use. Our collective responsibility is in holding our goverment & the local administration accountable for delivering the same, now how in the hell do we start doing that?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama '08

Most people I talk to are fascinated by the American Elections which are just around the corner. That's most people except my wife, she thinks that Barack Obama takes way too much of my time. Admittedly, I've been actively following the primaries and then the general election campaign on a nearly hourly basis to an extent that I'm addicted to it. What can I say, I guess I'm a closet soap opera fanatic.

You have to admit though the Americans are like the neighbours who live next door, in a big fancy house made of glass. You can look into their home pretty much anytime you want and find out what exactly was going on in there. This is probably the reason why most of us around the world follow them culturally.

Given that they've lived in a glass house all this while where the world can see what they do everyday, they have grown oblivious of this fact in itself. I'm not sure if most Americans know the keen interest that people around the world show in their politics. Some of us mask our interest by touting that what happens in the USA affects the rest of the world (to a limited extent it might) but the reality is that we like looking into our neighbours house.

I think the world made it's choice in the elections quite early. From Europe to Asia to South America the clear choice seems to be Barack Obama. I wonder if this kind of an attention is really good for international relations, lets say if McCain was to win the elections.

I guess most people around the world know what a joke Sarah Palin has been over the last month or so, but the reality is that she has a chance of the Vice President and maybe even the President of the United States. I don't know about you but if I were ever a world leader and I was negotiating a deal with her, I wouldn't take her at her words (or her winks). But she could still potentially have the most powerful job in the world. I'm guessing here but I don't think the Republicans on the whole have a lot of fans around the world. On a positive note though I think an Obama Presidency would give mend the American image around the world to a large extent and that is possible because of the international attention he has got so far.

The Presidential elections with its 2 year long cycle (and a rich and often confusing tradition) really doesn't consider the fact that in the modern world, while the American people go through the happy job of vetting their potential leaders, world is also doing the same. And that necessarily need not be the best thing for a new leader or a new administration.

But what the heck, nothing beats the buzz of the election drama (The latest Gallup Poll has Obama up by 9 points!!).

Sour Grapes

Both my stories didn't make it to the Quick Tales finals (134 chosen out of some 1100 stories). Normally I wouldn't have minded it so much but then I read a story that revolved around a urinal made the cut.

Pissed me off!

Monday, September 29, 2008


My daughter just said DADA!! Not once not twice but again and again and again!! WOOOHOO!!

Will write something coherent when my feet hit the ground.
There is a special series in the Guardian on how to write which i found very interesting. It's a must read for wanna be writers (like me).

Cross posted at Live Journa's India Writing Community.

(h/t bluespriite)

Strong Medicine

At work, some days are good, some are bad and some are really bad. I had couple of those really bad days last week. I had two days of being on the road on work, quite literally, having to contend with lack of sleep, a bad stomach, motion sickness (bumpy roads!) and all the while having to field one crisis after the other on the phone or in person.

To add to my woes were a couple of lunch meetings, which meant rich food and with it instant indigestion by the second day I really couldn't bear the sight of the road. I've never mastered the art of sleeping well in a moving car and since most of my two days were spent in a car, I started hating the very sight of it.

I don't think I'd be travelling in a Toyota Innova again pretty soon.

Don't get me wrong, I like the hustle and bustle of a busy day, I like the buzz but sometimes when your body isn't quite there for you, the mind doesn't want to meet the challenge either.

Eventually towards the end of the trip, I was stuck in another long journey towards the coimbatore airport. I distinctly remember looking out of the window and feeling trapped in my world. I badly wanted to get home, crawl into my bed and sleep for a few years.

Just then my phone rang, it was my wife and she had a crisis that she wanted my help with.

My lil 5 1/2 month baby had been crying non-stop over the last hour and my wife wanted to know if I could maybe talk to her and calm her down.

Then my wife placed the phone next to my daughter's ears and I could hear her cry on the other end of the line. I started talking to lil Shifrah like I do when I'm at home, and in a couple of seconds I could hear her quieten down.

The one sided conversation went on for about 5 minutes and then my relieved wife told me that everything seemed to be OK now. We chatted for sometime when I told her about my day etc.

After I hung up I felt a little drowsy and before I knew it I was fast asleep. For the first time in that trip I slept through the whole bumpy journey and had to be woken up by the driver.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Craig Ferguson

I knew him as a funny guy from the drew carey show but little did I know that he was the host of the Late Late Show (too lazy to put up links, google it yourself will ya) and a pretty darn good one at that. We don't get this show here in India, I think we should!!

Just to show you how good he is, I'm putting up a monologue from his show.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What I did at lunch today

This is a short story written while chomping on my lunch coz well the topic was very interesting. This was in response to a daily/weekly (i dunno) Flash Fiction (under 500 words) Sandbox, at the india writing community at live journal. Now what it is, is that people are given a scenario and they've gotta come up with a story under 500 words and post it there. The scenario that intrigued me into writing this story was,

Flash Fiction sandbox - writing prompt 4- Here's your scenario.Your protagonist has just discovered s/he has AIDS. S/he is meeting her lover in a cafe. S/he must, by the end of the story, have asked her lover to marry her/him. And the lover must accept.You have up to 500 words in which to pull it off.

This was my attempt, whatchu think?
"I've got AIDS", he told her. She choked on her coffee and blurted "Whaat?"

He flicked his cigarette impatiently in the vicinity of the ashtray and repeated "I've got AIDS, I'm HIV fricking Positive".

He turned to the side and fixed his attention at the window.

She was dumbstruck; she felt everything freeze around her. "You, you aren't joking right?" she stuttered.

The morose look on his face gave her the reply his lips were to proud to.

What? How? Who? When? Questions flooded her mind but she knew better than to ask any of those.

She struggled to fight back the tears, suffering the news in silence.

"So the marriage is off or are you still gonna marry me?" he asked as if he was taunting her to reject him in his face.

"Yeaah" she replied dazed.

"Which is it?" He asked.

"I dunno, not really sure what I'm thinking" she replies looking down at her cold cup of coffee "One of the two, I guess".

He shook his head and turned again to the window, angrily flicking his cigarette.

After a pregnant pause, she looked up at him and asked "I need to know more"

He replied "Like what?' without turning.

"Firstly, I want you to look at me when I'm talking to you and secondly, I want you to be FUCKING honest with me and tell me all about it, right now!" She said with eyes blazing

He was shocked, he'd never heard her speak this way and though it angered him he realised that at this point of his life, this was his only chance at happiness, however remote that chance was.

He forced a smile.

"Thank God this place is so crummy that it's empty all the time, eh?" he said nervously, trying to calm her down.

The blazing look in her eyes told him that she was deadly serious.

Slowly he began telling her about his secret life, things that no one knew about him, things he thought he'd take to his grave, things he'd never expect a girl like Priya to even hear.

In the end, he couldn't stop the tears that flowed along with his words.

And when the words ran out, he sat there hunched over with his face buried in his hands.

Minutes wore on and he began composing himself and he looked up only to see her looking at him.

There were tears streaming down her face as well.

"Ok" she whispered.

What?" he quizzed in a hoarsely, not sure of what he was hearing.

"I'll marry you, but remember things have to change!" She said.

"But Priya…" he began,

"What?" she snapped back at him, wiping her tears.

"You don't have to…you shouldn't have to.." his voice faltered.

"I never did have a choice" she replied staring at him resolutely with fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.

He looked stunned.

He felt like he got a glimpse of something profound and suddenly it felt like the earth stopped revolving around him.

He began to see her in a different light, he always thought she was a pushover but now he knew that she was far from it.

He knew what this decision meant for her. She would never be the little girl in her father's house again.

She had blown him away.

"Priya, my darling Priya'" he said , "You're amazing but, but, you see, I can't let you do this, for once I'm gonna do the right thing by you"

He got up, smiled affectionately at her and said "I have to set you free my darling"

He reached forward, patted her wet cheek as she looked at him pleadingly and then turned around and walked away.

(OK I cheated and edited this version since the original I put up seems to have some contextual (my big word for the day) and grammatical (Could you believe even now my first instinct is to spell this word as grammer! Blardy Awful!) errors, now I'm pretty sure this is more than 500 words but what the hey, this ain't for a contest!)

Day Trippin’

(An entry in Caferati's Quick Tales contest. This actually is one the earliest stories that I've written. The original can be found here, it had to be edited to under 500 words so that it could enter this contest. Needless to say that this was written during my footloose and fancy free bachelorhood days, these days I don't make it a habit of winking and grinning at strange women at flights, I swear!)

6:00 AM: Flight to Mumbai, delayed. Curses! Sipping coffee at the waiting area while trying to ward of sleep. Eyes bloodshot.

7:15 AM: Boarding. Bloody middle seat. Seated next to a cute Exec though. Nice perfume! Whoa angry stare!

7:16 AM: Drumming my fingers & fidgeting, hoping it’s a smooth flight. Hate flying.

7:55 AM: Finally airborne, firing up the laptop, start customising presentations.

7:59 AM: Catch a glance and grin at the cute Exec. Whoa, angry stare again!

8:13 AM: Breakfast. Croissants from the last decade. Smelly eggs. Whoops, air pocket. Egg patterns in the tie. Try a cute grin at the Exec. Permanent Stare! It's PMS (Permanent Mad Stare).

09:34 AM: Landing Mumbai. Fresh tie, same grin, same old stare.

9:40 AM: On my way, relishing the cool comfort of the Ford Fiesta. Spot the Cute Exec sweating it out in a non AC rickety taxi. Smile. Is she flipping me off? Ha! Look up skywards! Nice one dude!

10:41 AM: Late for meeting number one. Mistake in the presentation, a gender bender, whoever knew Indu Sharma was a guy? Bad Start. Bad Meeting. Big surprise!

12:00 Noon: Traffic! What a city! Reach Level 9 in Snake II.

12:31 AM: Second meeting. Client delayed. Pace the reception. Client arrives. Good meeting, though long way for sale to close. Hunger Pangs.

1:45 PM: Crazy heat. Small restaurant. Must eat quickly.

2:34 PM: Rush in for the big meeting. This is it! Now or never!

2:59 PM: Price negotiations! This customer is a shark! Haggle on bravely. Stale coffee, 6th cup of the day.

3:16 PM: Sale Closed! Contract signed! Phew, touch and go. Call boss. Whoa! Invited for a dinner at his house tonight!

3:45 PM: On the way to the airport, running late! Pick up some vada paos for the dinner at a roadside vendor. Rush back to the taxi, chewing on the vada pao.

4:50 PM: Finally seated, now next to a Mom, her 7 year old and her life sized doll, trouble! Spot the same Exec sitting in the adjacent row. Karma!

5:01 PM: Flight takes of, Mom grabs the kid, kid grabs the doll, and the doll grabs my face. Did the Exec just smile?

5:21 PM: Open novel. Look at Exec. She looks back. Grin at her, she grins back teasingly, then turns her head and closes her eyes. Felt good. Look down at the book. Shit, it’s upside down. No wonder! Witch!

6:26 PM: Bangalore Airport. Exec stuck in the taxi queue; wink at her as I pass. Get my car from the lot, drive past the foyer, the Exec still waiting. Should I stop? Drive away past her, feeling reckless, send her a flying kiss.

7:10 PM: Getting ready for my first dinner at the boss’ house. Irritating Boss, boring wife. Sigh.

8:01 PM: At the Boss’ door. Ring doorbell. Door opens, standing there is the Exec from the flight. Holy Crap! Perfect!

The Little Black Book

(An entry in Caferati's Quick Tales contest)

That night I stole my wife's diary. Now, now… before you judge me, as you are wont to do, first hear me out.

My wife and I fell in love years ago, when life was an uncomplicated place to be in, and we lived in our own little world. But now, that place seems to have become a strange world where pigs fly and monkeys speak fluent German and the two of us cannot communicate without shouting.
We made a great couple in the beginning. Then tragedy struck and we got married. Our heads, once up in the clouds, came thudding back to ground with our noses glued stuck to the grindstone of everyday life.

Never a day went by without an argument. Suddenly I was the King Slob and she was Ms. (Always) Right.

Everyday she would lament the life she had left, for this life. And I for one could never figure out what the fuss was all about.

In this little black diary, she would write everyday stories of my many foibles, only to read them back to me, when it suited her mood. A sock left in the living room, the time I had a few drinks at her sister's wedding reception (she claims I kept referring to the groom as a ‘poor sod’ to everyone, what rubbish!), everything went into that little book of hers.

For a while, I tolerated this behaviour thinking it was just a whim, till she started threatening to publish it. If it was anyone else I'd have laughed it off, but this was my wife who was also an author of three prior published works.

I shuddered when I thought of the consequences. I'd be the laughing stock everywhere, branded leader of all chauvinistic pigs!

I decided not to take it any longer. I had a reputation to protect after all. So, one night I took her diary from under her pillow. I took it straight to the kitchen with every intention of burning it, but curiosity made me flip through the pages first.

I don’t think I was quite ready for what I found inside. Instead of a list of my (alleged) misdeeds there were pages and pages of how much she loved me and descriptions of many tender moments between us that I had all but forgotten.

I was shocked, flabbergasted, dumbstruck and appalled.As realization struck, I felt that maybe I really was a bit of a slob and probably she had been right (at least a little). And, strange as she was and as pathetic as our relationship appeared, I bet I couldn't find another human who'd love me as much.

Maybe arguing was how we communicated, who knew? I could try and be a little better, couldn't I? Maybe that little book was what had kept us together so far.

I slowly slipped that book in to its rightful place, under her pillow and went back to sleep.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kumaran's Secret (Part 1)

Once upon a time in the land of the Pandiyas lived a rich trader by the name Kumaran. Apart from his immense wealth, which he built on his own, Kumaran intelligence and wise. He was often called upon resolve disputes and issues, that were seemingly unresolvable.

Kumaran was one of the most well traveled men of his time and as such it is said that even the King took his advice from time to time on matters of international importance.

Kumaran had three children, two sons Murugan and Veeran and a beautiful daughter Thyla. He doted on his children and they looked up to their father. In short it was a very close knit family.

The enduring sadness of Kumaran's life was the loss of his wife Kamala during the birth of Thyla. This brought Kumaran closer to his children; he started spending more time in raising them than in his travel. Every day he tried to instill good values like valour, bravery, chivalry and kindness in his children.

As a man of stature Kumaran had many acres of land upon which he employed thousands of workers to conduct farming. In his farms, Kumaran used techniques he had learnt in far off places like Siam and Rangoon which were hitherto unheard of. He also brought experts from those places to train his farmers and hence the yields of rice and coconuts from his farms were the best in the land.

As the years grew, farming made Kumaran even richer. He eventually gave up his trading business and settled down to become a gentleman farmer.

Along with Kumaran and his children lived his two brothers Kumanan and Kandhan and their families as well. Kumanan and Kandhan had lived under the shadow of their impressive brother all their lives and unfortunately did not possess his charisma or his wisdom or kindness. Yet in true patriarchal tradition, Kumaran took care of his brothers and more than once turned a blind eye at their excesses.

As the years passed, the children grew to be young adults and made Kumaran proud of their achievements. Veeran and Murugan had grown to be strong young men, aware of the world around them, always ready to take on any challenge offered by their father. And Thyla, known as the brilliant one in the family had grown to be a very smart and beautiful young woman. Kumaran noted with pride that her power of reasoning to be far superior to anyone else he had encountered.

The years had not been kind on Kumaran's health though. His once impressive frame grew weaker every year and he could feel his strength ebb away slowly.

Eventually, Kumaran's wise doctors concluded that he did not have long to live, there was pandemonium in his house. His children and the farm workers were deeply saddened.

Kumaran's brothers though saw an opportunity to grab a big share of their brother's wealth. They began to constantly harass Kumaran to give them control of the estate, so that they can run it when he was unwell.

When they found that Kumaran was unresponsive, they began their work on Murugan and Veeran, trying to create a fight between the two brothers. While their efforts were in vain, it worried Kumaran no end.

After a lot of thought he decided to write a will to protect his children. It took him weeks to think things through and by the time he finished it, he was bed-ridden. His illness had almost consumed him.

Kumaran entrusted his will to his friend Sambandar who was an important man in the Pandiyan Palace.

Kumaran's instruction was two fold, one was to read his will only after he passes away and the second was that 10 years after he passes away there had to be a feast celebrating his life where 10000 poor people should be fed and at that time the benefactors of his will should be there to receive instructions on finding his secret wealth, his most valuable possession.

Kumaran's brothers devised many means to find out the contents of the will but their efforts went in vain. Yet they plotted day and night to somehow capture the whole of Kumaran's wealth.

One sad morning, Kumaran died his body unable to handle the ravages of his illness.

A month after the death ceremonies were completed, Kumaran's family gathered for the reading of his will. His sons now strong and handsome men stood behind their sister. Along with them were Kumaran's brothers, Kumanan and Kandhan, and their wives and their children.

Sambandar opened Kumaran’s will and read it to the group. It read,

To my dear son Murugan, you who love the stories of my travel and have a curiosity of the world that far exceeds mine. I leave you my stable of horses, I wish you wonderful times and many great adventures.

To my dear son Veeran, you of strong will and a stronger body, I leave you my sword and my armour. There is no man braver than you my Son. The King needs men like you.

To my darling daughter Thyla, you're intellect competes only your beauty. I leave you your freedom. You will not be forced to marry anyone as per our custom but you will have the ability to pursue any course of knowledge that your hungry mind seeks. Sambandar would be your guardian and would ensure that my wishes are fulfilled.

To my thousands of farm workers, I give you the freedom to till your own land. One half of my land shall be divided between all of you.

Finally, to my brothers, I leave the rest of my farming land, properties and all the wealth accrued from my businesses.

There was hushed silence in the room. Kumaran and Kandhan could not believe their good luck, their wildest dreams had come true!

Sambandar then told the gathering about Kumaran's last request of a feast after 10 years and that Kumaran's secret possession would be revealed then.

Murugan, Veeran and Thyla could not understand their father’s decision but they accepted it nevertheless as they were taught.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Polygamists Please Note

While exploring a holiday at Malaysia I ran into this charming offer

Deluxe Suite - RM4880 nett per room-maximum 4 persons.

I shall say no more.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Morning After

A ray of warm light bathed his face. Stairway to Heaven?

A dark figure between the light, looking down at him. God? St Peter? Dad?

As the clouds cleared slowly in his throbbing brain, reality kicked in. It was the damn cat standing by the open window again.

Mr Ming was his Siamese cat from hell.

It was the cat's breakfast time otherwise the cat never sought his company. It had a habit of staring at him till he took care of its needs. Just sitting there and staring, too good to miaow like a normal cat. Cold fury in it's eyes.

He turned his back to the window and pulled the covers over his head. There was no way he was getting up just yet.

As he lay there, his mind started running over it's usual Sunday morning check list, How did he get home? No Clue, is this home? Of course, where else would the fetid feline be. Did he change for the night? He slowly felt down only to be comforted by the warm familiarity of his pyjamas.

Was Susan there with him? He looked around, didn't appear so.

Wait a minute, his pyjamas didn't have a pocket in the front. Slowly reaching back he realised that the bloody thing was back to front. At least he'd worn it. A smile played at the corner of his mouth. He wasn't so successful the previous week.

His tired brain started focussing on his body. His head hurt, he needed more sleep and then a nice long cold bath. His mouth felt like an ashtray, dry. The muscles in his right leg felt a little sore, dehydration of course, no cramps yet though. No nausea.

All in all, negligible damage.

Good, so he didn't get so drunk the previous night after all, he thought.

It had been a good saturday night, started late and ended really late. Well it was good till Susan walked out of the bar. She was awfully crabby last night. Wonder why, he thought.

Waves of sleep hazed up his thoughts.

He really couldn't remember the conversation last night but could vaguely remember her flying off in a rage after calling him a rotten name. Uncharacteristic. Did she slap him?

Must call her later. Much later. Need to sleep now, he thought.

He caught the cat walking past the bed slowly, swishing it's tail slowly, throwing him a look that could only mean instant painful death.

No dice, Ming the bastard wasn't going to get his breakfast anytime soon.

The cat was a remnant of a past relationship. The ex-girlfriend wanted to get far away from him, so she did, to Paris. She loved the cat but not that much, so it remained with him. Why him? Why not her pimply sister? Probably because she thought that the cat would irritate him the most.

Ming and he lived in a barely tolerated truce. It had been two years this way and two years can be a long time between a man and a feline he hated.

His throbing head reminded him of the need for sleep.

He closed his eyes resolutely, Susan came into focus again. Sweet Susan. They had a great relationship, if you can call it that. Known each other since high school, friends through their early 20s, lovers through their late 20s and now a comfortable amalgamation of both. She
understood him or at least she didn't judge him. Nice girl.

Her eyes were a little puffy last night, wonder why.

Sleep slowly resumed it's embrace. His mind was shutting down quickly, one light at a time.

A baby! That was she said last night. She was going to have a baby! His eyes flew open. Susan was going to have a baby. BLING. All the lights in his head went on in a flash!

Was it him? he thought. Ofcourse it had to be him. Susan was way more loyal to him than he ever was to anyone.

That his memory was very fuzzy, the music and the booze don't make for a good listener. What did I tell her? What do I do? he thought. The dull throb in his head became a more sharper pain.

A kid? Have I had a hand in creating a kid? his mind screamed. He sat up. Everything around him seemed to freeze. He felt like he could even hear the cat swish it's tail in slow-mo. A baby? A father? Me? I can't live with a damn cat! How can I manage a little baby! If there was a panic button in his head, his brain was jumping all over it.

The headache was relegated to the background, instead his mind was busy, did he have the money to bring in a child? What would he teach the kid? Did he have to marry Susan? OMFG! Marriage? How?

Heavy thoughts weighed down on his every move. He felt trapped like Houdini with a memory problem right in the middle of an escape act.

A little voice in his head said, of course she has to abort. How can she think of keeping this baby? But then he knew Susan, the girl has been waiting to have a child ever since she was 15. No way she was going to back out of it.

His Catholic parents, may they rest in peace, seemed to frown at him from right near the ceiling. His dead grandfather seemed to laugh at him from somewhere below the floor.

He stepped off the bed and slowly made his way to the window. What did he tell Susan? He must have really upset her. An unusual feeling ran through his body, remorse. Is this how it feels like?
As he stood there random moments of his life came into sharper focus, he knew that sometime in the future he would end up with a family, just hadn't thought about it a whole lot.

Somehow he'd like the idea of being a father kept growing on him as he stood there.

He was sure that he'd be an awful dad, but he realised there was a need to be a dad somewhere deep inside that seemed to make it's presence felt.

He felt a little calmer.

A rueful smile played on his lips. What do you know? He knew his life would change. Change was not a stranger, he had experienced it when his parents had died when he was 17. From then on, he had dodged his way through every twist and every turn life had to offer. He'd adapt.

He had to call Susan. He had to tell her that he was with her all the way. It was time. Time to settle down, time to grow roots. Somehow he felt a little free, a little like the time his parents were around.

He sat down on his bed and reached for his phone.

The phone rang for what seemed to be eternity. She finally picked up.

Hey you, Up pretty early for a Sunday aren't you, she said brightly.

Hey, he replied. Not sure how to read the sunniness in her voice.

About yesterday, he began. What about yesterday? she asked.

Well about the baby, what did the doctor say? his voice seemed to be coming from a deep hole in the ground.

Well, the doctor is saying that the baby is due next April, she said, Why whats the hassle?

Susan, he said, taking time to speak, as if gathering his courage, I'm sorry for yesterday, I'll support you in any decision you take.

There was a pause in the other end of the line, the Susan said What decisions? What are you talking about?

He was confused, It's about our baby, you mentioned it last night and I said something that upset you so much you got up and left!!

Again, there was a silence then suddenly he could hear her rumbling laughter. He was even more confused. Do hormones make women do this? he thought.

You drunk asshole! I'm not pregnant, I told you my sister was going to have a baby!, she hollered, then added, Now I know why you kept blabbering and asking me if it was yours! And you Moron, I didn't leave because I was upset but coz I had to go pick up my sister from the airport early in the morning, remember? Of course you don't!

He felt like someone had punched him in the gut.

Oh Ok then..I'll call you later he mumbled.

As he kept the phone down he could still hear her laughter and could feel the blood rushing to his face.

He slowly leaned back on the bed. Fucking Martinis! He closed his eyes slowly as he felt the dull pain in his head surface again.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In Traffic Today

The hair in my neck stood up, my head immediately swivelled left. Instinct.

A cop was purposefully making his way towards me, I knew I was caught. I looked ahead, the traffic was bumper to bumper. No way I was getting out of this one.

As seconds turned to hours, realisation suddenly stuck, I still had my cellphone up near my ear. The damn conference call! The reason for my current situation! Using a cellphone, even in a traffic jam was banned.

The cop was now next to my car. Should I put my phone down now? I thought. Did seem silly to log off the call, especially when I knew I was going to pay a fine or a bribe anyway. I offered a weak smile, pretended to put the phone down, I hadn't switched off.

The cop waves me to move to the side of the road. Yeah right, like I could. The traffic had sealed me tight.

I smiled again and shrugged. I tried my best I-never-do-this-ever look. And gave me his Yeah-right-show-me-the-money look. Frankly, his was more convincing, experience pays.

There we were, me imitating a a cornered rat and him imitating a status, the one with it's arm pointed somewhere, in this case towards the side of the road. Did I mention seconds moved like hours?


On the opposite side of the road an Indica Taxi had rammed into the back of a Santro. No one appeared hurt, it was just the usual late breaking manoeuvre that happens in traffic all the time.

The cop looked at the melee while I look at the cop. This was a window, for sure, but would it be big enough for my escape?

The two drivers across the road get out of their cars and begin their ritual, It-was-your-bloody-mistake routine. Tempers were frayed, voices were raised and a insults had started involving a few generations.

The Cop slowly begins turned in their direction his movement was measured and reluctant. He had to step in. The crash wouldn't net him much plus it's a whole lot of work and not to mention two angry assholes to contend with.

He looked back at me and I looked at him. Our impasse had passed. He knew it. On cue, the traffic ahead of me started clearing up.

I moved my car along and slowly put the phone back in my ear. Whaddya know, no one had even noticed my absence.

(This is just an exaggerated version of an event that took place over a period of 2 minutes today at 11 AM. I know there must be some of you who would object to my assumption that the Cop came over to ask me for money but after two decades of travelling on the roads of Chennai where I've been stopped by traffic cops atleast a two dozen times for some minor violation or the other but have been ticketed only twice, so you work the stats!).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Impossible is Nothing!

No this is not about Adidas but the story of Van Phillips the inventor of the Cheetah Foot, a carbon fibre prosthetic leg that helps an athelete like Oscar Pistorius, who doesn't have both his legs, to aim at qualifying for the Beijing Olympics! At one point Oscar was nearly disqualified for having an undue advantage over the other contestants!

Whether he competes in Beijing this year or not, I think, Van Phillips has achieved something spectacular don'tcha think?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Shifrah Jemima Stephen, my daughter. Born on the 6th of April.

New Look

So it's that time of the year when I start fiddling with the look of the blog. The picture on top was taken by my wife last July (22nd if my memory serves me right) during our honeymoon in a little village called Daintree in Queensland, Australia.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How much is your blog worth?

I came across this site that calculates the commercial value of your blog. You haveta type in the url and wait for the result. I knew my words weren't worth a million bucks (yet) but nevertheless I was a little taken aback that it was worth all of $564.54.

Hmm. So that rules out an early retirement I guess.

p.s. the 54 cents part is midly irritating...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

2 AM in Chennai

We live on the floor of a 9 floor apartment complex and in Chennai, its' pretty much as high as it gets. From the two balconies and the terrace one can pretty much the city as far as one's vision would allow. Tonight, I was standing at one of those balconies, carrying my little daughter who happens to sleep through the day and hence is awake most of the night. We were there because she insists on a constant walking tour, whenever she sees me. I am amazed at what seems to be an endless enthusiasm in her for what lies around, she is always looking around, at pictures, lamp posts, cars, lights etc etc. We've done this quite a few nights now, she seemed to like it and well, it's our first dad-and-daughter thing and so I wasn't complaining about the loss of sleep.

So there we were in that balcony, with a small breeze blowing from somewhere and we gazed into the city lights. As we looked in silence, I couldn't help think how beautiful my city looked. I admit that most of the beauty in front of me can trace it's sources to fossil fuel yet it still was a pretty sight. There were lights strewn around everywhere we turned like a homely Christmas tree all lit up, a dog barked somewhere in a distance, a van with its horns blaring for no reason veered through the empty road, distant mobile telephone towers identifiable only by their deep red lights were standing tall amongst a rash of sodium vapour lamps , a silent jet plane made it's way towards the sea with it's lights flashing, probably headed for Colombo or farther than that. Everything fit like different parts of a symphony to us, the audience of two.

Its very hard to anything nice about the city during the day time with it's heat, humidity, dust, dirt and us the automatons running from one place to another seldom stopping to see the beauty of something let alone try and create it.

It wasn't always like this, certainly not in the 80's during my formative years, when people didn't have much, there weren't many cars, nor many big buildings but just a city that had empty roads, fewer lights, thousands upon thousands of trees and people who were a lot nicer to each other than they are now. The Chennai I know and the Chennai I knew are two vastly different things, even if you consider that nostalgia is always tinged with a bit of romance.

I'm sure when my daughter grows up, she too will see a city that grows and changes as she does. There would be more tall buildings, more cars, more lights and a lot more noise, within it all, there will be something romantic about it all, if she chooses to look for it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I can't quite fathom how much life has changed, since the time I started blogging way back in 2005. I used to be this single guy who shunned any form of long term planning or committments of any kind, now I'm sitting here in Chennai taking care of a home, saving for the future and worrying incessantly about a wife and daughter who currently are 340 kms away in Bangalore. I'm counting the days till they come back home, worrying if the Chennai heat would be too much for them and if the house is comfortable enough etc etc.

Heck, even my dad has changed, we sometimes have full conversations without him telling me what to do with some aspect my life anymore!


Henceforth herewith and forthwith (and add in a fifthwith while yer at it), this blog is operational again. Welcome one, welcome all!

And those who still have me in your blog rolls and those blog-post-alert-thingys, or keep dropping in once in awhile, God bless ya!!

P.S. I hadda look up the word forthwith in the dictionary...sigh.