Monday, June 12, 2017

AJ

AJ, the other half of my madness,
We filled each other's lives with badness.

From friendships gone wrong to bad hair-days,
We conquered them all in our own ways.

You've been a concerned brother and the bestest friend,
At every tricky bend.

While you constantly pulled my leg for overeating,
You ensured there was good food at every meeting.

Not once did you call me fat,
Not even in front of a little rat.

May our bond grow stronger with every passing year,
Like a freshly brewed bottle of beer.

(Writer's Note : This poem is about my chaddi buddy AJ, whom I haven't met in years, but the crazy memories we created still make me smile. We were each other's "bros" for the longest time.)  

Thursday, June 08, 2017

My Love-Hate Relationship with Gyms


I belong to a family of fitness addicts. Dad and mom wake up at 5am everyday and go for a light jog/walk. My brother has been gymming and thulping down protein shakes, ever since I can remember. And, my grandfather has never missed a morning walk in his life. Quite naturally, my love for junk food and sleeping till 10am came as a big disappointment to them. Forcing me to swim, buying me a cycle and getting me the occasional "one size too small" dress, were constant hints they threw at me, to make me shed the extra pounds.

I was too blinded by my love for food and my oh so divine "sink till you become one with the mattress" fluffy bed, to pay any heed. Out of sheer frustration, my brother took me out for a long drive one day. "Gayu, pizzas and burgers are not food. The amount of carbs and cheese on those things lead to heart attacks, obesity and diseases you can't even fathom. Please lose some weight." For a nano-second, I stopped tugging at the straw of rich chocolate milk shake which I was cradling in my hand, like a precious new-born baby. "But why, Arjun chetta, do you think I should lose weight? I don't think I'm fat", I replied, continuing to sip on the shake. He let out a frustrated sigh and gave up. He took me straight to his gym (Fitness One in Ascendas) and introduced me to his trainer.

After gaping at all impressive equipment and admiring the spacious interiors of the gym, the trainer finally caught up with me and asked me with a smug smile on his face, "You weight about 63 kilos right?". Stunned by his accuracy, I gave him a thumbs up. "So when does she join sir?", he asked my brother. "From tomorrow, just show her the ropes." replied my brother. My fate was sealed. I was petrified of my brother, back then. His word was law. I could'nt go against it.

Thus began my love-hate relationship with the gym at age 19. As for his trainer, not only did he "show me the ropes", he belted me with the rope in question, a couple dozen times. He mercilessly tried to pound all the fat out of me. It was no easy task for him. Poor fellow! The minute I stepped out of gym, I would stuff my face with the biggest chocolate sundae or ghee laden pongal I could lay my hands on. After about a month of personal training, I gained two kilos. I saw a distinct, fat tear-drop roll out of my trainer's eye. "What are you eating, after gymming? Why have you put on two kilos, despite this rigorous workout?" After confessing my sins and explaining to him my logic of "I'm working out, so I can eat double", he threw his hands up in despair. "You're on your own now. My training with you comes to an end. Remember everything I've taught you and please try to stick to it."

What began as a forced ritual, slowly became an obsession. I shed five kilos without even realizing it. Then another five. I was down to 54kilos, at the end of one and a half years. I looked and felt great. I began eating lesser and lesser, until I fainted smack on my face in the bathroom one morning. That's when I realized I was pushing myself too hard. 

Over the years, my gymming has been on and off. My weight has been fluctuating between a modest 55 kilos and a dangerous 62. It's nice to comfort yourself with phrases such as "Stop body shaming" and "You're beautiful just the way you are", but the reality is, the minute the weighting scale hits 60 kilos plus, my confidence drops. I hate being fat and I hate my fat genes. Despite my dislocated shoulder, ligament torn and dislocated foot, severe back pain and sprained wrist, I'm back at the gym. A little older and wiser this time, hoping to not break any more body parts.

I've rejoined the fitness center under my house, after a hiatus of two years. The trainers and the receptionist gave me a warm welcome back. One of the younger trainers even gave me a little scolding for not cycling properly. It feels good to be back in my second home, the gym. 

(Image Source : https://thewondrous.com/funny-gym-pictures/)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The Reluctant Woman

They wondered why I was one of the boys,
Playing with loud guns and crackers, gave me the biggest joys.

I wore shorts, instead of a pretty dress,
Causing Granny a great deal of stress.

I didn't want to have enviable long hair,
Each time I saw a comb, I hid behind my teddy bear.

I fell in love with metal,
Instead of helping mommy with her coffee kettle.

I also loved fast cars,
Refusing to believe they could lead to potential scars.

The transformation from a tomboy to a girl has been hard,
But I'm so glad I had the chance to play that card.

(Image Source : https://www.etsystudio.com/listing/279205736/tomboy-girl-die-cut-stickers-window) 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The Three Musketeers

Classmates for two years, sisters forever,
I can forget you never.

We may have parted ways,
By choosing to swim down different bays.

But you still reside in my heart,
Like a beautiful piece of art.

You have always been by my side, 
Right upto the time, I turned into a nervous bride. 

From trying to figure out life, to bunking classes together,
We will always be birds of the same feather. 

Mother, wife, daughter-in-law, whatever role we may don,
Lets promise to be each other's lifelong dawn. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Meri Pyaari Bindu

A heart breaking story of unrequited, undying love that a boy has towards a girl. That's the plot of Meri Pyaari Bindu in one line. Nivin Pauly starrer Premam, Ranbir Kapoor starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Dulquer Salman starrer 100 Days of Love have all attempted to capture this helpless emotion, in various shades of grey. 

One could call Meri Pyaari Bindu an out and out chick flick, as it appeals to the rom-com loving audience. Ayushmann Khurrana, enacts the role of a lovelorn Abimanyu Roy with candour and ease. As an onlooker, your heart would go out to him, whenever the love of his life Bindu, puts him in various comic situations. You will find yourself crying and laughing along with Abhimanyu as he tries very hard to win over the love of his life and childhood sweetheart, Bindu.

Parineeti Chopra as Bindu Shankarnarayanan plays the stereotypical "wild-child, untamed woman with a multitude of interesting personalities and interests" as essayed on numerous occasions by Kangana Ranaut in Katti-Batti or even an Anuskha Sharma in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. 

My only issue with this movie was that it centered fully around the man and his broken heart. Why does the female lead always have to be portrayed as the "jhalli/guaranteed will break all men's hearts" chudail

Women get their heart-broken too. More often than you know. The key difference between men and women, when faced is a heart-break is this; Women cry about it quietly for a year or two and then move on. They don't publicize it to the whole world. Men on the other hand, bitch about the partner that left them 'til kingdom come and make a mockery of themselves in public. 

Coming back to the movie, watch it, if you're one of those moviegoers who cries at the drop of a hat. I for one, finished an entire box of tissues while watching it. 

(Image Source : http://www.koimoi.com/movie/meri-pyaari-bindu/) 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Shameless Foodie Tales

Idlis, doshas, appams, puttu and Kerala porotta have been childhood favorites for as long as I can remember. I grew up on a staple diet of these irresistible carbs, doused with generous portions of chutney, sambar, chilli beef, egg curry and chicken stew. 

After relocating to Mumbai post marriage, I naturally began scouting for these authentic Malayalee and Tamil home made delicacies. Thankfully, the area that I live in, has an abundance of food loving Gujjus who are open to try any and every flavour, from various corners of the globe. Living amongst them, my taste buds have also been diversified. While they gave me poha, sabudana khichi, vada pav, pav bhaaji, dhoklas, samosas and chatpata farsan, my brethren (and non-brethren) were busy preparing doshas and idlis, with a strange murky orangish red version of sambar with oodles of sugar. At first, I was puzzled tasting the vile liquid and then I made peace with it because, when in Rome.. 

2 months ago though I met him, the man who would solve all my home sickness, Idli Anna! After my routine early morning run-walk and grocery shopping, my nose sniffed out a familiar nostalgia inducing scent. That aromatic fragrance of home, which I was so used to for 30 odd years. I followed the scent and found the cutest little road side stall selling piping hot poha, sabudana khichdi, sheera, upma, idlis, sambar and chutney. 

I gave him the brightest smile that I could conjure and greedily pointed out to the sambar. "Boliye maydum, kya mangta hai", was his cheerful response. "Sambar, idli, chutney, poha, sheera and sabudana khichdi", I replied greedily. He nodded and continued serving his mouthwatering home made food to a group of sweaty boys who were circling around him. 

"Aap kaha se ho? Pehle dekha nahi aapko", I continued. "Raigad maydum", he replied. How can a man from Raigad make mommy's sambar, I mulled. He continued giving me his toothy grin as he swiftly packed the food which I had asked for. 

I rushed back home with the overflowing packet of food and gobbled down Idli Anna's fluffy idlis with his sambar and chutney. After the first 2 bites, I realized that the sambar was not what I had grown up on, still, it was the closest I would get, being 1000 odd kilometers away from home.

Food is an emotion. It has the power to build childhoods and bring back a flood of happy memories. What I would'nt give, to be 4 years old again, thulping down morsels of delectable meat with my grandfather by my side.

This one's on you appuppa, this mad craze which I have for scouting out food and eating endlessly.(including your salty drink snacks, which you thought you hid so smartly between your overflowing wardrobe of shirts and pants). 

(Image Source : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH2vEN5seVY) 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Flock of Ducklings

I woke up bright and early today to hit my building's swimming pool. I aimed to leave home by 7am and be back by 8 to baby-sit both my "Quick Gun Murugan" maids, who make me feel like their maid 90% of the time. The only reason I get up early on my "swim-days" is to avoid being scolded by them. (Don't laugh!) Handle a Bombay-Bai for a week and you will know how feisty they are. 

Back to my swim now. For the first half hour, I was all alone inside a dreamy blue trance. I took slow lazy laps, back and forth and allowed my mind to wander. After about half an hour, two pleasantly plump boys violently dove on either sides of me from the deep end, whereby almost drowning me. After attempting to give them a dirty glare from the insides of my foggy swim-goggles, I continued with my laps. 

After about 10 minutes of trying to swim peacefully inside the Titanic-drowning-current created by the two tornadoes on either sides of me, I began to pant like a baby-seal. My lungs were on fire and I clung onto the nearest wall I could find. Just as I felt comfortable enough to get back to my "calorie-burning" laps, I saw a group of skinny little girls, in bright summery swim-suits and cute swimming-caps which had Mickey Mouse ears stuck on them. They were accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman.

As the twin-tornadoes and I swam back and forth, the group of little girls began swimming between us in the shallow end, whereby causing even more confusion in the already choppy waters. The older gentleman ("Da-Da" as referred to by one of the girls), held them back and signalled us to go back quickly, so that they could continue with their splashy attempts to swim. 

Da-Da's patience levels must be applauded, as he single-handedly managed three very excited little girls in the water. He was teaching them how to swim, breathe and use the right hand-leg co-ordination while afloat. He was even bribing them every 5 minutes with Dairy Milk Silks and Amul Ice-creams, each time one of them felt tired.

I couldn't help but grin at them like a Cheshire Cat. When the clock struck 8, I quickly climbed out of the pool (in fear of my maids), threw on my clothes and just as I was about to leave, one of the little girls screamed "Bye DiiiiDiiiii!". I chuckled, went upto their Da-Da and told him how my daddy taught me to swim at their age. Even my Da-Da (daddy) used the same tactics of food and meat, to get me into the water. 

If it weren't for my Da-Da, I would have been a food loving, lazy football. Thankfully, the football has been reduced to a golf ball and I still love food. Sorry my dear Da-Da, there are some battles you just can't win! 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Poopie Love


One year shy of a decade,
The madness is yet to fade.

You love beef burgers and salads,
I prefer mutton biryani and soulful love ballads.

I plug my ears with cotton wool,
As you play Primitiv's Taurus, the bull.

Our home is filled with laughter and food on the weekends,
As you whip up strange fruit and veggie smoothie blends.

Come Monday,
You fly out of the 'Bay.

I hurriedly fall back into my chocolate binging ways, 
Sneakily shielded from your annoyed gaze.

"I'm following my diet", I slyly text,
But you catch my first bluff, as easily as the next.

The house has never been quieter, 
With the absence of it's rioter.

Thankfully, Friday dawns bright and early,
And I find myself doing a happy twirly.

(ALTERNATE ENDING : Thankfully, Friday dawns bright and chirpy,
Once again I prepare myself to indulge in your strange hand-made slurpees.)

Writer's Note : This poem is about my management-consultant husband, who travels excessively due to the nature of his work. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

Bhutanize Yourself


I'm back home after a lightening trip of 5 days and 6 nights at Bhutan. From my outward appearance, I look absolutely charred and burnt like a badly cooked piece of Tandoori Chicken, but from the inside I'm filled with warmth and joy, much like the serene blue haired Golden Buddha Dordenma at Thimpu. 

Even before my flight could land at Paro airport in Bhutan, the view outside blew me away. The majestic mountains all around my aircraft beckoned to me. Being a city kid all my life, the pristine beauty was overwhelming to my senses. Upon landing, all passengers (self included), hurriedly began taking pictures of the cutest airport in the world, Paro. The architecture of the airport and the breathtaking view of the intimidating, majestic green hills were all a little too much. We all felt like Alice stuck in our respective wonderlands. 

After completing our immigration, we were welcomed by our enthusiastic young guide, Eelo (to be pronounced as ILU from the cheesy ILU ILU Bollywood song, as explained by him). 

After a day of rest at our local hotel in Thimpu, we began our exploration of the city. We were taken to the Thimpu Chorten to begin with, where we had our first sight of the cylindrical golden prayer bells. Next, we headed to the Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddhas in the world at a majestic 169 feet. This Buddha can be seen as you ascend up the hills of Thimpu and your excitement level will mount as you near closer and closer to the enormous statue. We ended our day by visiting the Tashichho Dzong, where we took multiple selfies with amused monks and gleefully ran our fingers (like a child in a candy shop!) over the multiple cylindrical golden prayer bells. The centre of the monastery will remind Kung-Fu panda fans of Master-Shifu and the Furious Five. I almost expected all of them to emerge out of the woodwork and give me a flying kick.

The next day began bright and early. We checked out of our local Thimpu hotel and began our 3 hour journey to Punakha. Enroute Punakha, we stopped at Dochula Pass where we breathed in huge lungfuls of almost snowy air and took pictures galore with the cutely built 108 memorial chortens/stupas. Next we stopped at the vertigo-inducing Puakha suspension bridge. An architectural wonder and a sight to behold for nature photographers, as the bridge offers panoramic views of the river and the surrounding landscape. However, if you have the fear of heights (like me), look straight ahead and march on without clinging on to either sides of the bridge! Our day ended at the cozy local hotel in Punakha, which was set right on the banks of the Mo Chhu river. Needless to say, our evening and morning were spent attempting to dip our feet and face (Tamasha style like Ranbir) in the freezing cold Mo Chhu.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and began our journey excitedly towards Tiger's Nest. Tiger's Nest is home to a very sacred Buddist temple by the name of "Paro Taktsang". Situated on the upper Paro valley, the climb up to the temple is not for the faint of heart. The total climb up and down is a steep 9 km and takes 6 hours in total (if you are an expert mountain climber!). Buddhists believe that love for God must be shown by bodily effort and pain, which is why most of their temples are situated on a hilly terrain. My climb up the Tiger's Nest was not a successful one, I could only reach upto the halfway point of 4.5 kms which was home to a well laid out Cafeteria. I apologized to lord Buddha and promised him I'd be back next year to give it another shot. 

Whether you seek tranquility of the mind, an adventurous trek or virgin beauty, you will find it all here in Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon. 

How to get there :
Calcutta to Bhutan by Drukair flight takes you 50 minutes exactly

Hotels to stay in :
Thimpu :
Tara Phendeyling Hotel

Punakha :
Damchen Resorts

Paro:
Olathang Hotel

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Magician


It's been an empty decade and a half,
Without your infectious laugh.

No one to eat medu vadas with,
Or drink Sharjah shakes with.

All the ugly fights we fought, 
And the dirty jokes you taught.

Each dreadful morning to school, you were by my side,
To wipe my tears and to give me a ride. 

Your obsession with Hercule Poirot and Baywatch, were unmatched, 
I tried my best to stay detached.

You are my home,
I latch onto every memory of yours, like a honeybee to it's comb.  

(Writer's Note : This poem is about my grandfather, who died when I was a teenager. He made my world alright, without a magic wand or spells. He was always ahead of his time and had a broad-mindedness, which often shocked people of his generation. Needless to say, he was extremely popular and really close with his grandkids.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rohan and Grandpa

Rohan was a vivacious 5 year old, born into the Mehta household. Mr and Mrs Mehta were busy image consultants who ran their own boutique P.R agency. They loved Rohan very much and made it a point to spend every free minute with him. The Mehtas lived in a palatial ancestral bungalow. The house and the couple were picture perfect. The Mehtas were very popular among friends and colleagues. Their families took great pride in their achievements, both personal and professional.

Rohan spent all his spare time, post school with his nanny, Kamla. Although he loved Kamla and enjoyed their little games together, he really missed his mommy and daddy. He waited anxiously to be tucked into bed every night by mommy. She would narrate an elaborate fairy tale every night with dramatic theatrics. She would even use puppets to narrate stories, on the nights that she was not very tired. 

Every night, after mommy would finish her bed-time story, grandfather would take over. He was funnier than mom. Every morning, Rohan would attempt to narrate grandfather's fairy tales to his parents, but they were always too busy, rushing to work.

On one particular Sunday, a determined little Rohan, sat his mother down and began narrating one of grandfather's stories. It was about a big red submarine. Halfway through the story, mumma began tearing up.

"Why are you crying Mumma?", enquired a surprised Rohan.
"Who told you this story bacha?", asked Mumma.
"Grandpa", replied Rohan.

His mother quickly rushed inside her room and brought out an old family album. She hurriedly turned the pages of the album, until she found what she was looking for.

"Do you recognize Grandpa, from any of these photographs?", she asked Rohan
"Yes. There he is", pointed an excited Rohan, on the face of a handsome looking middle-aged gentleman. 

The photograph was a faded black and white one, of a cheery looking man in a smartly cut navy blue suit from the early 60s. Grandpa had died 10 years before Rohan was born. The house and the bedroom Rohan slept in belonged to Grandpa. 

(Image Source : https://www.pinterest.com/explore/bedtime-stories/)

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Apple Faced Girl

The apple faced girl, was the youngest born, into a happy Malayalee family. Her father was an army officer, who got transferred into non-family stations very often. Non-family stations mean those locations in India which have the highest terrorist activity. Officers were not allowed to bring families to these places as they would naturally become the soft target for terrorists. The apple faced girl, her elder brother and her mother made several trips to their hometown in Trivandrum, each time the father was stationed in these non-family locations.

On one of those trips back home, the apple faced girl made acquaintance with her grandmother's elder brother. He was an unmarried, bubbly old man who loved children. He pampered the little girl silly and forbade her mother to tonsure her hair. 

"Mole, please don't cut her hair. She will lose all her cuteness", he would plead to the child's mother.

The little girl spent most of her time playing and fighting with her grandfather. Everyday by about 7 in the evening, the grandfather would become very tired of chasing her around. So he would give the baby back to her mother and focus his energies on watching the evening news on DD Malayalam. The little girl hated the news and the annoying jingle that preluded the news. She knew she would lose her grandfather's attention, the minute she heard the jingle on the television screen. Every evening she would dance in front of the television screen and try to imitate the jingle, just to get her grandfather's attention. 

One morning, the little girl woke up earlier than usual. She ran to sit on her plastic mobile potty. Just as she began doing her morning chore, she noticed that her grandfather was sitting cheerily on his favorite chair, gazing at her lovingly. She immediately pushed herself and her potty closer to him and began mimicking the DD jingle.

Mid-way through her song, her mother called out to her, "What are you doing baby? Who are you singing to?"
"I'm singing to Baapappa, amma. Tell him to play with me, I don't want him to watch the news", replied the little girl.
The mother froze upon hearing the child's words because her grandfather had died at 3am that morning. The entire family had rushed to the hospital leaving only the little girl and the mother behind.

THE END

Author's Note : The apple faced girl was me. I have no recollection of this grandfather or of this incident, because I was only 1 or 2 years old at the time. This story has been passed down to me by my mother and now from me to you. This only re-affirms my faith that the love of a grandfather has no bounds. They will always watch over you, like guardian angels.

Image Source : https://www.shutterstock.com/search/cartoon+grandpa

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Jacobinte Swargarajyam


Jacobinte Swargarajyam has two Mallu favorites which would naturally make it a blockbuster hit - Nivin Pauly and Dubai. After Bangalore Days, this is another Malayalam movie that made me stop and smell the roses. It is a movie that every Malayalee can relate to. A story of a happy Christian family settled in Dubai. All is well until the global recession hits and the head of the household, Mr Jacob Zachariah gets cheated by a Pakistani colleague. Overnight, the business tycoon has to flee the country leaving his wife and four children behind. 

What follows is threats from Mr Jacob's investors and a never-ending struggle to make ends meet by the eldest son, Jerry and Mrs Sherly, wife of Mr Jacob. Being the eldest, Jerry always tailed his father for his various business dealings. However, when his father bids hims a tearful adieu and hands over the responsibility of the family to him, Jerry crumbles.

He seeks refuge in his father's close confidante and friend, Philip Ichayan. He breaks down in front of him and says he has no idea how to overcome the financial mess his father had created. Ichayan drives him on the streets outside his home and points out to a cafeteria in the corner of the street, run by a man named Sherif. He narrates the story of how Sherif started the cafeteria by falling on the feet of many money lenders, how his family had to sleep inside a house without a roof and the many hardships he had to endure to become a successful restaurateur both in Dubai and Kochi. 

Ichyan further went on to add that to learn the formula of success, one doesn't have to travel the whole world. You merely need to take a stroll on the streets of Dubai to look at the face of every hardworking Malayalee who does back breaking labour in the scorching sun. He went on to say that there is a popular joke among people, that you will find a Malayalee in the most obscure corners of the globe, starting with the moon, the sea and deserted mountains. This is true, Ichyan tells Jerry, because only a Malayalee has the guts to set up shop in the most strangest of places and transform it into a business empire. 

I felt a strange sense of pride in being a Malayalee after watching this scene. I took a moment to think about all my mallu bretheren in Dubai and elsewhere. I also thanked the lord for giving me this carefree life. I could only empathize with what the Zachariah family and innumerable families like theirs had to undergo during the recession.

Jacobinte Swargarajyam is an absolute gem and I pray that if it gets re-made into Hindi, it manages to capture the essence of the movie - the hardships faced and overcome by a God-fearing, close knit malayalee Christian family in Dubai. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Dinner Date

Mayrah was the prettiest girl in her batch. She was also the brightest. The first to get campus placed, into Google that too. She was in her final year of M.S. Computer Science at Stanford University. The class pet of all her professors and the heartthrob of many of her male classmates. Yohan was one among them. He had also gotten into Google a month after Mayrah received her appointment letter. 

Yohan, the only other Indian student from Mayrah's batch who had all eyes for Mayrah. He was very shy. The popular kids in their batch called him a nerd. He was always found in libraries, knee deep in books. He was a quite a looker though. An Indian Clark Kent. Tall, dark, thick wavy hair and bespectacled. 

"C'mon Yohan, just ask her out man. What do you have to lose?", asked Brian, Yohan's closest friend and classmate.
"I can't", replied Yohan.
"And, why not?", relented Brian.
"Because she is too pretty and might already have a boyfriend", replied Yohan.
"How do you know that? Have you ever spoken to her? Does she even know of your existence?", persisted Brian.
"Well.. no", replied Yohan lamely.
"Then ask her out! This Sunday, at Graduation", encouraged Brian.

A week later, the most important day of their lives dawned on the final year students of M.S. Computer Science - graduation day. It was a proud moment for the students, their parents and all their professors. Yohan's mother had flown in from Mumbai and Mayrah's entire family starting with her parents, two sisters and brothers in law had arrived from Delhi.

It was a beautiful ceremony, one that would be remembered by the students for years to come. As Mayrah walked towards her proud family with her degree in hand, Brian gave Yohan a sharp nudge on his back, to remind him to go and speak with her. He excused himself from the conversation he was having with his mother and walked nervously towards Mayrah.

Just as she sat down with her parents, a nervous Yohan sauntered towards her. 
"Mayrah?", squeaked Yohan.
"Oh hello Yohan" replied a surprised Mayrah. "Maa, dad, this is my classmate Yohan. He has also been placed into Google along with me"
Yohan's heart skipped a beat as he realized that Mayrah knew his name. 
"Acha acha! Excellent beta. I'm sure your parents are very proud of you", said Mayrah's dad
"Thank you uncle", said Yohan with a nervous handshake.
"May I speak with you for a minute?", asked Yohan addressing Mayrah
"Sure", she replied
"In private...", said Yohan his cheeks flushing
"Oh", she replied

After a few more minutes of pleasantries exchanged with Mayrah's parents, Yohan finally managed to get a moment alone with Mayrah.
"Mayrah..", said Yohan, clearing his throat nervously
"The thing is..", he continued
"What is it Yohan? Is everything alright?", asked Mayrah.
"You know Mayrah, I've been thinking.. We've never spoken to each in the past 2 years that we've been classmates and now we've gotten into the same company. We're going to a see lot more of each other.. So, I was thinking.. er.." Yohan left the sentence dangling and went back to clearing his throat.
".. that we should get to know each other a little better?", replied Mayrah with a shy look in her eyes.
"Right", said Yohan.
"You know Yohan, I've been wanting to ask you out ever since you bumped into me at the library corridor and almost gave me a foot dislocation thanks to your stack of books", said Mayrah
"Whaat?!", replied a stunned Yohan. "So why didn't you?", he asked.
"I didn't want to appear too forward and you never gave me the impression that you were interested in anything other than books" chuckled Mayrah
"So 8pm tomorrow at Pizza Bay?" continued Mayrah
"Perfect. I'll see you there" replied a blushing Yohan

Yohan donned his best pair of trousers and shirt the next day for his date with Mayrah. He spent an extra half hour in front of the mirror, grooming himself. He even squirted on his most expensive Giorgio Armani perfume which he usually reserved only for job interviews.

As he approached the restaurant, he caught sight of Mayrah. She was a vision in red. His face automatically light up with a slow smile. Just as he was about to cross the road he realized that it would be nice to pick her a small trinket to celebrate their first date. So he rushed into a local jewellery store right opposite the restaurant that sold tribal jewellery. He picked up a butterfly shaped ring, got it gift wrapped and began crossing the road, his eyes lost on Mayrah's beauty.

Just as he was nearing the restaurant, he felt something ramming into him very hard. He heard the sound of an ambulance and people chattering around him. He even saw a teary eyed Mayrah through his half opened eyes.

10 years later..

Yohan stood outside the restaurant he and Mayrah had picked for their first date. He watched Mayrah lovingly from the glass windows and just as he was about to enter the restaurant he saw another man sitting opposite Mayrah. They were engrossed in deep conversation. He suddenly noticed a baby on a pram sitting between Mayrah and the man. Mayrah was feeding the child.

Puzzled, Yohan walked inside the restaurant and just as he began to approach Mayrah, an elderly gentleman blocked his path.

"Hey you! This is my restaurant and I don't like sharing it with anybody", said the gentleman.
"Okay. I just came to talk to an old friend of mine", said Yohan pointing to Mayrah.
The old man chuckled, "They can't hear you my friend"
"Eh?", replied Yohan. "Of course they can. Please move out of my way sir"
"Young man, they can't hear you because you and me don't belong in their world. We're dead son!", said the man
"I'm sorry sir, I really don't have time for this. I need to speak to my friend", replied an annoyed Yohan.

He walked past the old man and approached Mayrah's table. "Hi Mayrah!", said Yohan with a forced smile.
Mayrah looked up at Yohan and caught her breath.
"What is it honey? You look a little lost", said the man who was seated on Mayrah's table.
"Nothing, I just got a whiff of an old perfume which a friend of mine used to love wearing", said Mayrah with a sad look on her face.
"Must be somebody in the restaurant", said the man
"Perhaps", replied Mayrah and resumed feeding the baby.

(Image source : http://foter.com/explore/glass-night-table) 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Laila

Laila was just like any other vivacious 5 year old. Loud, naughty and the apple of her parents eyes. Born to Mr and Mrs Malhotra after 10 years of their marriage, she was very precious to them. So they spoilt her rotten. "Princess of Lakeview" was the title Laila gave herself. Lakeview, was the name of the sprawling mansion she and her parents lived in.

Spread across 10 acres of land, the house looked right out of a fairy tale. With pretty fountains and elaborate chandeliers strategically placed in various cozy nooks of the house, Lakeview was an architectural wonder. It also helped,that Mrs Malhotra was a keen lover of collecting artifacts, from all their international holidays and was a renowned interior designer.

Mr Malhotra owned a chain of resorts and motels globally and was called as "The Motel King" by competitors and business partners. He was a ruthless shark at work who left no stone unturned to get what he wanted. At home though, he was a loving father and caring husband. The needs of his family always took precedence and Laila had Mr Malhotra wrapped around her podgy little fingers.

Laila was a cute mixture of both parents. She had Mr Malhotra's thick curly hair, her mother's expressive eyes and a sweet chubbiness. No one could resist pulling Laila's cheeks if they met her. 

Today, was Laila's birthday, Mr and Mrs Malhotra surprised her at midnight with her favorite pink Barbie doll cake along with a promise to take her to Disney world. Her Mickey Mouse travel bags had been packed neatly by her mother.

"Laila baby, go brush your teeth and change out of your night clothes", said her mother.
"Okay mumma", replied an excited Laila.

Laila rushed to the bathroom, stood on her tiny stool under the wash basin to reach out for her tooth brush. As always, she ate some of the toothpaste first and then began brushing her teeth with her Chhota Bheem brush. Next, she opened her almirah and began to rummage for her favorite Winnie the Pooh jumpsuit, which she wore on all her travels with mummy and daddy.

After 5 unsuccessful minutes of trying to find the suit, the called out to her mother.
"Mummmaaaaaa", Laila called out to her mother. "Maaaaammaaaaaaa", she continued screaming.

She walked out of the room in a huff to search for her mother. She walked into her parents bedroom to find the lights off. She walked into the study room, lights were off there as well. She walked inside all the rooms inside the bungalow to find that the lights were strangely off in all the rooms.

Puzzled, she went into the drawing room and began turning the lights on and off. This was a habit of Laila's everytime she was distressed. "Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa", she cried once again.

Meanwhile, a small group of men and women had gathered outside the mansion's majestic gates.

"This plot of land is perfect to start an ayurvedic spa. Look at all those beautiful fountains in the midst of that greenery", said a young man who was part of the group.

"Arrey, saab! This mansion is haunted", said an old man who overheard the young man speaking.

"Hahaha! Who believes in all that nonsense in today's day and age uncle-ji", replied the young man.

"Legend has it saabji, that a very rich couple used to live here 15 years ago. They died in a tragic car accident somewhere near the airport road. Ever since then, the lights in one part of the house flicker on and off. On some days, you can even hear the muffled voices of a small child."

Inside the mansion, poor little Laila, continued calling out to her mother in the hope that she would help her find her favorite Winnie the Pooh jumpsuit.

(Image Source : http://www.clker.com/clipart-smiling-short-brown-hair-girl.html)

The Last Goodbye

It was a breezy morning in Ooty. Sunaina had finished reading her second newspaper for the day whilst sipping on a warm cup of tea from the expensive bone china cutlery which she and Varun had received on their wedding day. Mr Varun Sud was the love of Sunaina's life. The duo were high school sweet hearts. They didn't really need to convince their parents why they must get married. Both sets of families were happy watching their kids grow closer over the years. 

Sunaina was the only child of Mr and Mrs Parulekar, steel tycoons for generations. And Varun was the youngest son born to newly turned millionaire, Mr Yash Sud, CEO and owner of Sud Telecommunications. The cliched norm "money only marries into money" stood true in Sunaina and Varun's case.

Sunaina steered clear of the family business and chose to be a happy home-maker, while Varun started up on his own and created his own niche in the telecommunications field. Father and son could not join hands in business, egos got in the way, which soon led to Varun walking out of Sud Telecommunications. The move proved fruitful to Varun because within a short span of 7 years, he was entitled "Exciting New CEO of the Decade" by Forbes, NDTV and Wall Street Journal. 

Coming back to Sunaina and her cup of tea, she was busy ticking of a mental 'to-do' list for Varun's surprise party. He was on his routine business tour and would return to their Ooty home within the week. Sunaina decided to invite some of hers and Varun's friends over for lunch to discuss about the theme, decor and food preferences for the party.

By 1pm, Sunaina's sprawling Ooty villa was buzzing with activity, laughter and the delicious aroma of Sunaina's signature croissants and brownies. 

"Sunaina, your brownies are to die for. Please make another batch for me to take home", said Natasha, her best friend from school.
"Sure, I'll just be a minute", said Sunaina as she walked into her airy kitchen.

The kitchen was Sunaina's favorite part of the house. It overlooked their beautiful garden and had state of the art cooking equipment used only by Michelin starred chefs. Sunaina quickly whisked up some brownie batter, poured it into a baking tray and placed it inside her oven. 

She poured herself a glass of red wine and stared out the window, while waiting patiently for her brownies to bake. Just as she heard the "Ping" of her oven informing her of the cooked brownies, she noticed her handsome husband, walking towards her from their garden. Puzzled and delighted to see him home 3 days early, she gestured to him to come inside the house. 

She quickly rushed out of the kitchen, informed all their friends that Varun was home and warned them not to mention anything about the surprise party she was planning for him. She eagerly rushed out the front door to greet him and found that he was missing.

"Varun!", Sunaina cried out.
"Varun, come inside, where are you?", she said.

She walked towards the garden where she had found him and still couldn't spot him. Confused, Sunaina went back inside.

"Where is he?", asked Natasha.
"I just saw him standing outside on the garden. Must have gone to pick up his bags or something. Let's wait for him to come back.", replied Sunaina.

She went back into the kitchen, pulled out the freshly baked brownie batch from her oven and began cutting them into perfect rectangular slices. Just as she was about to plate them, she noticed Varun standing outside her kitchen window again. She gestured that she would box his ears if he didn't walk inside their house that very instant.

Varun chuckled at her gesture and didn't make any attempt to move from his spot. Just as she was about to open her window to grab him, Natasha walked in.

"Sunaina, you need help with those brownies?", asked Natasha.
"Look at this Varun! He is behaving like a baby. He is just standing out there and refusing to come inside." said Sunaina.
"Varun? Where is he?", asked Natasha.
"Right here man", said Sunaina pointing outside the kitchen window.
"Babe, there is no one outside", said Natasha with concern on her face.

Just as Sunaina began to reply, Natasha's husband Dev walked into the room, with tears streaming down his face. 
"What is it Dev?", asked Natasha
"Its.. it's.. it's Varun, his flight...", said Dev, leaving the sentence hanging. 

Sunaina clenched her fists and turned her gaze back to Varun. She looked closely at the clothes he was wearing and recalled that he was wearing the same Dolce and Gabbana steel grey suit on the day he boarded his flight from Coimbatore. 

As the tears began to well up in her eyes, Varun's smiling face and body began to disappear like a magical fog into the misty mountains of Ooty. 

(Image Source : http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/couple-cartoon-images.html) 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

My Reality Check

Everyone has their own version of reality checks every now and then. Mine happened late last night, when I stepped into my Mumbai home, after a glorious 4 weeks of pampering by my parents in Chennai.

My colorful cushions were strewn all over the house, except on the sofa. There was a thick layer of fine dust on every piece of furniture. The bedsheets hadn't been changed ever since I left and the icing on the cake, my toiletries were chewed on vigorously by tiny teeth. On close inspection small blobs of poop were also discovered.

We now have a new member in our household, Jerry. Oh no, not the cute brown thing Tom chases around like a maniac on the telly, a big fat ugly Gujju-Marathi rat (I live in Kandivali, hence the rat-community/caste deduction).

I didn't know whom to be more upset with - the Gujju/Marathi Jerry or the Tom cat husband I am married to.

(Image Source : http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0511-1008-0522-4309.html)