Thursday, February 09, 2017


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.

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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. 

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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.

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