Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Of Romance, Love and Other Such Trivials....

If you have been following my blog (never mind if as a silent 'Wall'), you would know that I had, in one Manic Moment, announced to the world that I would be writing about ‘Romance’. But, I’ll confess now, both that announcement and that post had been one ‘Manic Meander’, written in a state of what a very dear Biology teacher of mine would have described as, “Aaj thoda Cannabis sativa ho gaya hai....!” And no, I do not ‘do’ Cannabis sativa in any form; though in this city that I live in, the plant grows in such abundance that I suspect our air itself may be a trifle intoxicated; and since I am breathing this self same air, it is no surprise that I lapse into ‘Manic Meanders’ occasionally......!
Anyways, whatever the reason, that post, come to think of it, was pretty unlike my usual writings, completely aimless, trying to be outrageous (and failing outrageously), a little cheeky and maybe a tad irreverent. When I go back to the post and read it all over again, I must say that though I enjoy that aimless ‘Meandering’ and chuckle at the cheek, I do regret the irreverence..........!
But returning to my announced intention of writing about Romance, I have to confess that in this matter I am absolutely, completely lost!!! I can write about dogs and dyes, about saris, soldiers and secularism, about food and about friends but Romance...........now that is a different kettle of fish! (Did I just say ‘FISH”? I have now seriously begun to suspect that I am being subjected to some kind of supernatural stalking by the ghosts of all the fish that I did not eat......!) It’s not that I have not tried. If you go back to my older posts, you would come upon a few promisingly titled, “Much Ado about Love” or “Love and Longing: Tagore Style”; but once you delve deeper into them, you’d realise they are what I call farces in the name of Romance, second-hand writings, mere translations of the Poet’s more famous verses on the subject.
Writing about Romance is tricky: one has to be inclined thus and like any other creative endeavour, one needs a muse; and if that’s asking for too much, then at least an inspiration. But in my present state of existence, ‘Romance’ looms nowhere on the horizon, not even the ‘R’ of it. All that looms over me are a few dull green eucalyptus trees, an occasionally visible dust encased hilltop and some unimaginative billboards, all silhouetted against a singularly dull gray sky. And that is why, awaiting inspiration, I had been dithering about the post on ‘Romance’. But once having made that grandiose commitment (however cannabis-hazed it might have been), I now find it extremely wounding to my bloated ‘writer’s ego to retreat thus, defeated (or more aptly, wordless) from Romance. And so here I am tonight, compelled and determined to tackle this ‘Romance’ bull by the horn, come what may!
Because the last time I had sought inspiration from Other Half he had come up with the smelly idea of writing about ‘Fish”, this time I did not tread that way at all. Instead, I asked a young cousin for some help. She came up with a good idea, ‘Di, listen to some music.’ and helpfully even suggested, ‘Arijit is good.’ Not wanting to sound behind the times by asking her who this ‘Arijit’ was, I Googled and YouTubed and came upon this not bad-looking, bearded and intense young man singing some nice, soulful numbers. But somehow, even though he sang of love and longing, his songs did nothing for me on the Romance front, something I attribute solely to the sad reality known as ‘generation gap’. Even though he sings beautifully, his songs did not twinge even half the ‘Romance’ nerve in me.
And so I had to retreat to my old favourite, Tagore and his songs. And this time I chanced upon a rendition by Jayati Chakraborty of an old familiar called ‘Aaj Jyotsna Raate Shobai Gechhe Bone’. Don’t fret over the Bong; I’ll give you a translation soon. I call it ‘old familiar’ and not ‘old favourite’ because till now it had been just that, a song I have been familiar with since my childhood. I especially remember learning to dance to it as a little girl of may be four or five and even giving a stage performance at a gathering of cousins during one of those deliciously long school winter vacations. But my acquaintance with the song stopped right there at knowing its lyrics and humming its melody. But that dawn, as I listened to the lady with this incredible tenor, the beauty any pathos of both the words and the melody hit me in the solar plexus with a force so strong that my jubilant Blogger Brain yelled unceremoniously, “Here’s your Romance!” “Listen and write!!” then came its peremptory order.  
And so I listened to the song, again and again; really listened to it, not just with my ears but with my brain and with my soul. And the more I listened, the more I marvelled at the Poet’s incredible ability to convey a myriad of feelings and thoughts and emotions with only a few sparse, simple, everyday words and imageries. And man, did Tagore know his Romance..... And that is why, each time you listen to his songs his words strike, sure and straight, right on spot at the heart or the brain or wherever it is that the ‘Romance’ centre in humans is located.
The theme of this song is ‘waiting’. Waiting is such a major ingredient of Romance, is it not? But sadly the English language does not have a better word to describe this theme of ‘waiting’ in Romance, nothing better than the very prosaic and very boring ‘waiting’. Urdu and Hindi have a much better word for it: ‘Intezaar’. In fact trying to look for a synonym for ‘waiting’, something with a bit more zing to it, I came up against an absolute blank. Other than ‘linger’ which is all wrong and ‘hang around’ which is completely unsuitable, there is no other word in the English language to substitute ‘waiting’. Sad isn’t it?
But anyways, here’s the song in Bengali.

Aaj Jyotsnaraate Shobai Gechhe Bone
Boshonter Ei Maatal Shomirone ||

Jabo Na Go Jabo Na Je,
Roinu Pore Ghorer Majhe -
Ei Niralay Rabo Aapon Kone
Jaabo Na Ei Maatal Shomirone ||


Aamar E Ghor Bohu Joton Kore
Dhute Hobe Muchhte Hobe More |
Aamare Je Jaagte Hobe, 
Ki Jaani Se Aashbe Kobe
Jodi Aamay Porey Taahar Mone
Boshonter Ei Maatal Shomirone ||

(And here are two Youtube links, one of Ms Jayati C singing the original Bengali song and the second, a Hindi rendition with a  prologue by Amitabh Bacchan. You will have to cut and paste. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHu7ugzGFO0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uOVFVZutk8)

And as for the Non Bongs, I had initially tried translating the song into a verse form but having failed miserably in that attempt, I’ll give you a simple paraphrase, without venturing into verse. It is said that Tagore wrote this song after the untimely death of his young eleven year old son. I, of course was not aware of this fact when I first began listening to this work; but then it doesn’t matter much, for the beauty of Tagore’s works are that they are open to myriad interpretations and so for me, this song will always remain a song of Romance. Here’s my paraphrase in English which does contain a few digressions from the original which I added purely in order to convey better the essence of the song:

They have all gone to the woods today,
On this moon-drenched, spring-drunk night;
They have all gone, to celebrate the festival of love
This moon-drenched, spring-drunk night.........

But I?
I cannot go. No, I will not go! I will remain behind,
Here in this lonely corner of my house.
No, I will not join them, there in the woods tonight,
Tonight on this moon-drenched, spring-drunk night...........

For I have to clean and to scour,
With great heed and care,
This home of mine.
For I have to keep awake,
Maybe He might come tonight.....
Yes, He might come tonight
That is if He remembers me ;
Remembers me at all,
On this moon-drenched, spring-drunk night.......

Each time I listen to the song, my mind conjures up a picture of the Naayika (I shall call her that, deliberately avoiding using the word ‘heroine’; because after Bollywood, the connotations of this word have really been distorted...! Well at least for me). I can visualise her, this woman living in solitude, denying herself the simple joys and happinesses of life, waiting silently in a lonely corner of her home. She cleans her home with great care, scouring painstakingly its nooks and crannies for this home is where her Love will come to her; and once done, she lies awake nightlong, gazing out of her windows, waiting for her Love to come to her........!
And as you listen further, you slowly become aware of the deep underpinnings of pathos in the song. When she remarks, ‘Yes, He might come tonight, that is if He remembers me ; remembers me at all’, you realise with a wrench that this Love for whom she awaits so ardently may never come to her, for this love of hers is only a one-sided adulation....! He perhaps has promised her nothing, perhaps has never acknowledged her adoration, perhaps she does not figure in his universe at all...........And she is well aware of this reality, our Naayika and yet, still she waits, patiently, unwearyingly, her home ready to receive her Love.......
Each time I listen to the song, my hearts tears to pieces for her and I wonder: What it is that sustains her unrequited adoration, sustains her through this interminable waiting, keeps hope alive even when in her heart of hearts she knows He will never come.....?
I was as usual rambling around on the World Wide Web a few days back, when a post on the NDTV’s site caught my eye. It was right at the extreme corner of my cell’s screen and I would have actually missed it; but it seems the Universe had a purpose in nudging my attention to it. The news report announced, “Man waits 10 days at Airport for Online Girlfriend!” Intrigued, I clicked on the link. It was such a sad little story. It seems that this Dutch man, a 41 year old fellow called Alexander Pieter Cirk had met a 26 year old  Chinese woman, Ms Zhang, at an online dating site. Now that’s nothing out of the ordinary or remotely intriguing. What was intriguing, however, was that having ‘fallen in love’ with this Ms Zhang, Mr Cirk flew 5000 miles from the Netherlands to some place in China called Changsha to meet her. Now, if you happen to be gushing, “So sweet”, stop right there! Remember, Life, a real bitch, is never ever sweet in isolation. At the most, she can be bitter-sweet. So here’s the bitter part. Having reached Changsha (I really have to look this place up), he called her on her cell-phone but found it switched off. And so he decided to wait for her. He waited, not just one day or two but for ten whole days straight, there at this godforsaken Changsha airport, without enough money for food and water, finally collapsing due to exhaustion. He was later hospitalised. And all this while, his virtual ‘Love’, Ms Zhang remained offline and elusive with her cell continuously and suspiciously switched off.
Somehow Mr Cirk’s story found a mention on some Chinese chat site and soon his story was circulating worldwide over the Web, making him famous. Ms Zhang was also traced out by the Chinese police/media and she told them that she had been unavailable because she was undergoing plastic surgery at a clinic in a different city (sic)! Finally, it appears that Mr Cirk was discharged from hospital and now has returned to his native Netherlands (of course, without meeting his Ms Zhang). It was a sad story no doubt but with not enough masala to excite my blogger brain, I would have simply skimmed over it. However, my attention was caught by two pictures of Alexander Pieter Cirk that accompanied the news report, both taken at the airport. The first one showed him, a tall Caucasian male in bermudas, sitting forlornly with his interminably long legs extended on an uncomfortable looking airport chair, a PET bottle of what looked like Coke at his side. The second was one of him being wheeled away to the hospital. This was a close up of his face and revealed a very ordinary looking man. And forgive me for saying so, but he actually looked quite unlovely, with straw coloured, unkempt hair and a very bony body, his slightly protuberant eyes appearing even more goggled in his state of exhaustion. The news feature also carried a picture of the elusive Ms Zhang and though her face had been blurred over, she seemed to be the typical Mongoloid beauty, almond shaped eyes (this was not visible in the photograph but am just guessing since she is Chinese), alabaster skinned, svelte and singularly sexy. And having already seen what Mr Alexander Peter Kierk looked like, the first thought that hit my brain was “Mien Gott, how incongruous!!!!!”
I had charred my frying pan while scrambling eggs and at night as I scrubbed and scoured furiously trying to get that unforgivable mass of carbon off the pan, I hummed ‘Aaj jyotsna raate’ in an effort to lighten my task. And as I hummed, it suddenly struck me how similar the situations of Tagore’s Naayika and that of Alexander Pieter Cirk were.!
 Like Tagore’s Naayika, Mr Kierk too waited at that airport in the hope that his Ms Zhang would come to him. Of course I have the feeling that Mr Cirk knew very well, in his heart of hearts, that Ms Zhang was not in the least interested in him. Why else would a young yuppie woman’s cell phone be switched off for ten whole days straight?  Yet, still he waited, against all logic, reason, and rational thought, waited though everything about the situation screamed out aloud that he was waiting in vain. I think he would have realised that their pairing itself was odd, they being so unevenly matched,  so 'not matched' at all : she, young and beautiful, he, much older and quite 'un'beautiful...... ! And they were separated by such wide chasms, this Mr Cirk and his Ms Zhang, chasms of Time and of Space and of Culture...Deep in his heart, I think he knew she would not remember, did not want to remember, would never come. But still he chose to wait...........
 The comments on the post called him a fool and I was inclined to agree at first. Not merely a fool but an imbecile.....waiting thus, in such complete futility.........I told myself that this maybe was some kind of insane pathological obsession, a lunacy, a foolish  incurable quirk of human behaviour.....
“It’s none of that, you dumb woman," whispered my wise old Blogger Brain. “Don’t you see it? It’s Romance!”
Woody Allen, that little ugly man with that wondrously creative brain has hit the nail on head with his take on Romance, saying ‘The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to these things.’ And touche that to my wise old Blogger Brain. She is right. If this is not Romance, then I wonder what is !
I firmly believe that though Love and Romance are often considered to be of the same genre, they are in truth, completely different entities. I think one shouldn’t equate Love with Romance for the latter is something very earthly, very mortal and very base. Love, on the other hand is a thing superior, sacred and something far, far beyond the descriptive capabilities of fledgling bloggers like me. Yet, somehow, I can’t help but feel that merely with his gesture of waiting, his silent, fruitless waiting, his waiting in unadulterated adoration, perhaps Alexander Pieter Cirk’s Romance elevated itself to something akin to worship,  to something sacred,  to something like Love............!
PS
1.     Though Mr Cirk has returned to the Netherlands without meeting Ms Zhang, it has been reported that Ms Zhang has made it known to the Chinese media her wish to renew their friendship.
2.        And I’d like to think that if this is true, then in that case this time it is Ms Zhang who makes the 3000 miles journey from Changsha to the Netherlands to successfully renew this inter-continental romance...And if I may, I’d like to venture a little further into the future where in some cute little Dutch town some years on, as a family gathers around the cheery fireplace on a winter evening, a man narrates to a gaggle of kids with straw coloured hair and almond shaped eyes that well loved story of how their Father met their Mother...
3.       Whew! Ain't I glad that the Romance ghost is dealt with and hopefully, well and truly exorcised. Cheers!
4.     And as for my precious 'Walls', do emerge from your claustrophobic concrete coats and COMMENT. Very encouraging, you know these comments, especially from 'Wall's...:-)

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Kuttush goes to Varanasi (A Baby Novel) Chapter 2

          
CHAPTER TWO
On the Way to the Railway Station

           Shillong did not have a railway station of its own, being situated atop a hill. The nearest railway station was the one at Guwahati, the capital of the state of Assam, about 150 km away, . Though everyone (adults that is) felt that this was a disadvantage, Teesta and Kuttush considered it the ideal situation. Imagine how boring it would be if the station was just a few minutes away from your home…. You would miss all the fun that one had driving down winding hilly roads in Dads’ big car, with Kuttush’s head hanging out from the rear window and tongue lolling like a great, big, pink handkerchief. They would miss the all the stops that Dads took on the way, when they had little picnic lunches and hot tea. It was here that Kuttush would usually disappear into the jungle lining the road, in pursuit of some interesting smells. You did not really have to worry about him disappearing, for he would promptly reappear with one call from any of them, the expression on his face saying “Awwww, come on kids, you don’t have to fret about me!”
            So this time too they would be travelling in Dads big, white car on a Sunday morning. They expected to reach Guwahati by afternoon and that was perfect, for their train to Varanasi was to leave in the evening on the same day. Soon the car hold was packed with their luggage, a big red suitcase with Dads and Moms clothes, a small red bag with Teesta’s things and the brown canvas bag that held Kuttush’s stuff. The moment the front door of the car was opened, Kuttush was inside in one long jump. He loved the rear seat because it was big and comfortable and Moms had placed a plump cushion on which he could plonk himself when he got tired of hanging out of the window. Teesta soon joined him and both of them waited impatiently for Moms to finish locking up and Dads to attend to the last moment anxious telephone calls from his patients, who knew that he would be away on vacation for many days and wanted some final medical advice. However everything was soon tied up and finally Dads and Moms boarded the car. Dads revved up the engine and with a loud purr from the car, they were off!
            The traffic jams even on this lazy Sunday morning were pretty long and the only person who did not mind these long waits was Kuttush, who hung halfway outside the car window barking at every stray dog or goat that they encountered on the way. Most of the goats did not care much, some of the dogs did bark back and the occasional ones even chased the car, barking furiously. While others on the road thought Kuttush was barking at the animals , Teesta knew better. Kuttush was only saying hello to them. But there was something that even Teesta did not know. All the strays on the road were Kuttush’s very old and very close friends. Not the goats of course, because they were not on the ‘CanNET’’; but all the stray dogs were!
           Now you must be wondering what this ‘CanNET’ is? Well, the ‘CanNET’ is a kind of special wave, similar to electromagnetic waves in some ways but very different in others; and a wave form that human beings had not yet discovered. The canines of this world use the CanNET to connect to each other. We humans cannot sense this wave even with our most advanced machines and hence you can call the CanNET ‘extra-sensory’. It is highly efficient and all canines (that is wolves and dogs) are connected on it. So when some of the dogs chased behind the car barking furiously, while humans thought that they were showing aggression, the truth was actually the opposite. They were really good friend’s of Kuttush’s and were simply showing their pleasure and excitement at seeing him again.
Like before, they stopped to have some late breakfast at the view point above the breathtakingly beautiful Umiam Lake. It was just after the long monsoons and the lake was full of water. The hills all around the lake were laden with trees and vegetation and were a deep, dark green in colour. Moms and Dads kept exclaiming about how beautiful it was. Moms also kept muttering something about de-forestation and “Hope it remained like this forever...!” But Teesta and Kuttush were not paying attention. Kuttush was busy gobbling up an aloo paratha that Teesta had quietly passed onto him behind Mom’s' back. Two stray dogs had also gathered there, wagging their tails at Kuttush who though secretly a little reluctant, had shared some portions of the paratha with them (.....after all, how could you deny friends a little tasty titbit...!)
And then breakfast over, Teesta helped Dads and Moms quickly clean up any mess they might have made, picking up plastics wrappers and used napkins and dumping them into a jute bag that Moms had kept in the car, calling it their 'carbin' i.e. a dustbin for the car. Then Dads announcing heartily, “Okkk Bhai!”, revved up the engine once more and they were off again, down that gently curving road ringed by the beautiful pine covered hills.
It became warmer as they descended the hills and soon Moms had to roll up all the windows and switch on the airconditioner as Kuttush’s tongue had begun hanging out and he was breathing in rapid, shallow breaths, which meant that it was too hot for him. Teesta now took out some ice cubes from the flask and put them in his water bowl. Kuttush was in love with ice cubes. He loved them just like we love icecream; but while we tend to lick the ice cream cone, Kuttush would crunch on the ice cubes like they were chicken bones. And how he loved them. He could eat one whole tray of ice cubes at one go!
The scenery too changed from the pine trees and hills to flat plains, rice fields, coconut trees and banana groves which become more and more common. They were now in Assam. Yet it was as green as Shillong, a beautiful fluorescent green that Moms said reminded her green fairy lights. Of course it was more humid and much warmer but still very beautiful. They soon reached the railway station which was crowded with people, porters, auto-rickshaws and of course tons and tons of luggage. Dads parked their car in one of those long term parking booths and they entered the station.
Though they had reached early, their train, the Guwahati Rajdhani was already parked on platform No 1. It was a smart looking bright red coloured train and they were booked in coach HA-1. But they waited for a bit on the platform for Dads had gone to book a ticket for Kuttush and had taken him along for the weigh in. But now 30 minutes had passed and since they had not yet returned, Teesta began to get impatient. So Moms had to call up Dads on his cellphone to find out why they were delayed. But they needn’t have worried for soon Dads and Kuttush were spotted returning from the direction of the Booking Rooms. And guess what: Mister Kuttush was carrying a large Brittania Strawberry Cream Biscuit packet in his jaws. Moms, exasperated and a tad annoyed, questioned him, “Kuttush, what’s this? Where did you get this?” but Dads interjected laughingly, “Dew, it was from the booking clerk. It seems he had never seen a Labrador before but he has two stray dogs of his own and was totally enamoured of Kuttush!”
Of course what Dads didn’t know was that Kuttush was already aware of that nice booking clerk as both the stray pets of his were on the ‘CanNet’. They had told Kuttush at Shillong itself about him and also helpfully tipped him off that if he played his cards right, that is, if he was able to charm this gentleman, it was highly possible that he might be gifted a pack or two of Brittania Strawberry Cream biscuit. And so Kuttush had been his charming best and sure enough, that nice gentleman had given him not one but two Brittania Strawberry Cream biscuit packs. Kuttush was delighted. One pack, of course he held in his jaws and the other was in the safe custody of Dads rucksack. Moms gave an exasperated sigh but one could never be annoyed with Kuttush too much especially when he looked at you through one eye open and one eye closed; so she had had to give him a special hug, even as the biscuit packet crunched between them as she cuddled him.
Now the train doors were being opened and soon their luggage had been hauled up inside. The moment Kuttush boarded the train, which he did so in one smooth jump, one of the attendants came rushing out,
 “Kuttush! Arrey Kuttush, kaise ho?” the young man exclaimed happily. Kuttush recognised him immediately. The man smelt of chicken cutlets and Cadbury’s chocolates and Kuttush never forgot people who smelt like that. Such people were invariably very, very nice, nice and kind and jolly and Kuttush never ever forgot them. He was upon Rashid, for that was his name, in one big jump and with his tail wagging furiously gave him big, slurpy kisses on his face. Rashid fell back on the train floor with Kuttush’s weight but he didn’t seem to mind one bit. They both rolled on the floor looking for all the world like two dogs and it was only when Moms intervened with a sharp, “Kuttush, behave yourself!!!!” that both got off the floor, Kuttush still wagging his tail furiously and Rashid sheepishly dusting his clothes! 
Moms too remembered the young man as this helpful pantry car attendant from their last trip to Jaipur and remarked quietly to Dads, “Kuttush, it seems will not have to worry about his supply of chicken cutlets this time too.” Dads guffawed heartily in response as he put his arm around her and settled down comfortably on the lower berth. Teesta who loved bunk beds, had already claimed the upper berth by clambering up all on her own and once comfortable, had opened her favourite Adventure series book by Enid Blyton. Today it was the River of Adventure and soon she was gallivanting off with Philip, Jack, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and not to forget Kiki, the talking parrot, in their latest adventure on a river trip somewhere in the Middle East. Kuttush too had settled down at his favourite perch in the little niche between the seat and the coupe wall. He was now fast asleep in his favourite position, lying comfortably on his back with all four limbs raised roof-wards, lush otter tail flat on the floor. And as the train slowly chugged its way out of Guwahati station, if you listened very carefully above all the din of the running train, you could actually hear him snore.....!



Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tell Me, Is This What They Call ‘Love'….?


I am in Bangalore. It’s a lovely city with cool breezes, coconut trees and cute cafes on cobbled streets and I am totally enamored. I am here to attend a wedding, the wedding of the daughter of a very senior colleague of mine. This colleague Dr V, a warm-hearted, big-souled, easygoing gentleman was the kind of senior you turned to for guidance and for help, secure in the knowledge that he would never turn you back empty-handed. He was also the kind of person you could be at complete ease with, without constantly feeling conscious of his age and seniority. In short, he was very dear to both of us, very dear and much respected. 
You must have noticed that I said ‘was’. Well, about five years back he was suddenly taken ill while at work and succumbed to the illness within a very short time. We were devastated, both Other Half and me when we got the news and I cannot even begin to try to understand the shock and pain his family must have gone through. Over the years, we stayed in touch with his family, his wife the charming Mrs V, his daughter, son and elderly mother and so when Mrs V invited me to this wedding planned in August this year, I knew that I had to go.  
I reach the wedding venue in the evening (they are called Kalyana Manthapas all over South India) and am greeted by Mrs V with a warmth that is very typical of her. After meeting the bride and the groom, both looking resplendent in their traditional dress, I settle down comfortably in a chair in the very first row of the hall and indulge in my favourite pastime of ‘people watching’.
I watch Mrs V as she moves around busily, overseeing arrangements and greeting guests. She looks elegant, dressed simply in a flame coloured traditional South Indian silk sari with a large leather bag clutched to her shoulders from which she occasionally extracts a cheque book and writes out cheques. I marvel at how difficult it must have been for her, all alone, to organize this huge wedding with nearly five hundred guests, some of them old, orthodox and rather cantankerous and that too in city as expensive as Bangalore. Her son, still at college, is too young to be of any real help and I know she must have done it all by herself. Though she is smiling brightly and even laughing occasionally at some family joke, I can see the shreds of worry and exhaustion shadow her eyes.
I am sitting with a colleague of Mrs V’s and on spotting us, she calls us over for a family photograph with the bride and the groom. When the photography is done, I stand with her for a moment before the wedding mandap. It is done up beautifully with silk curtains, fresh flowers and shimmering gold festoons. As we gaze at it in silence, each immersed in her own thoughts, Mrs V suddenly puts an arm around me and with her free hand pointing briefly to the garlanded photograph of Dr V placed in the front of the Mandap, says softly, “Aibee, see V is also there with us…!”
She looks at me straight in the eye as she says this and for that instant, I see all the anxiety and the exhaustion melt away. As a radiant smile lights up her face, she looks for a moment very young and very beautiful, just like a bride herself…..Tears unbidden prickle my eyes and embarrassed, I look away. When I turn my gaze back to Mrs V, the caterer has already claimed her attention and the magic is gone.
And I find myself wondering, “Is this what they call Love?”
            I am sitting at the swanky departure lounge of the royal sounding Kempe Gowda International Airport of Bangalore. With Mimie having chewed off my IPad headphones and having forgotten to bring my reading glasses, I have nothing to read and no music to listen to. And once again with nothing to do, I fall back on that one thing I am really good at and that is people watching.
            The departure lounge is teeming with people and with males outnumbering females, logically I should be having good fodder for my past time. But sadly the male of the species, at least the Indian variety, seems to have degenerated in quality over the past decade. Take the young men for example. These modern day chaps with cigarette pants slung at levels even lower than their glutei, weird pointy shoes and hair gelled to stand up like the scales on the back of a Stegosaurus rex don’t interest me a tiny bit. The older men are worse. With gargantuan pot bellies spilling over their belts, sparse hair dyed black as sin and pudgy fingers adorned with millions of ‘Baba’ advised rings, they are a nightmare for delicate minded people watchers’ like me. And so I am left with only the women to gaze at. And this I do happily, checking out their dimensions, clothes, hairstyles and makeup with a meticulousness that would make even the seasoned male voyeur proud.
            I am sitting on the aisle side chair of a set of three chairs. The chairs next to me are occupied by an elderly couple, probably past their seventies. The man sits next to me while his wife sits at the other end. The man, judging from his posture, movement and speech has probably suffered a brain stroke (a CVA for the doctors amongst my readers). Though he seems able to walk and talk without assistance, his movements are staccato and his speech slurred. And later I realize that he also has a degree of dementia; which is either a part of his illness or a result of the normal process of aging. They appear well off, with diamonds twinkling in the woman’s ears, nose, throat and wrists. She is probably younger to him by five or six years, healthy and capable of looking after herself, inspite of her advanced years.
            I am fiddling around with my phone, forwarding inane WhatsApp messages to all and sundry and when there are no more messages left in my kitty, sending meaningless Emojis to Other Half simply to annoy him. Suddenly, the man says something to me. But his speech is garbled and I cannot understand what he says. I look up and I see the woman gently turn the man’s head away towards her side. He does this again and then again and each time he looks at me and says something, she gently but firmly turns him away from me. But the man is restless, itching for something to do. So he stands up suddenly and it seems he wants to go stand in the queue. She holds his hand and pulls him back to his seat saying, “Abhi aap kahan jaoge. Baitho thoda yehan.”
But he is difficult to convince and to control. After a minute, he stands up again and tries to walk to the queues. Again she brings him back gently to his seat. He does this repeatedly and each time she dissuades him quietly and gently. He leaves his seat almost ten to fifteen times in that short duration but she never loses her patience, never raises her voice, never changes her gentle tone. Sitting next to him I find myself losing patience, getting irritated with that constant getting up and sitting down, that garbled hoarse voice I cannot decipher. But the woman is unmoved in her gentleness. Finally she takes the man’s left hand and tenderly envelops it in both her palms, smiling softly at him as she looks at his face. This somehow seems to calm him. He sits quietly for the next five ten minutes. By now the queue to board their flight is moving rapidly and so the woman says, “Chaliye chalte hain.” The man stands up happily and waits for the woman to gather their handbags together. She slings the bags on her left shoulder, grasps his left hand firmly in her right and then very carefully, very lovingly, like a mother with an errant toddler, leads her husband slowly towards the queue.
And once again, I find myself wondering, “Is this what they call Love?”

PS:
1. I usually write on weekends as its less rushed. But for this post, I had the feeling that if I waited for the weekend, the memory of the emotions would have faded by then. As it is, had I penned the words at the wedding venue and the airport itself, I feel I would have done a much better job. 
2. Be nice and do give a feedback ; even if you are one of my diehard 'Walls', old or new.....
           


Friday, 12 August 2016

Kuttush goes to Varanasi: A Baby Novel (Chapter I)

KUTTUSH GOES TO VARANASI

For Sheroo, Candy, Phunti, Kuttush, Khushi, Sugar, Kaloo, Julie
And
The Madcap Mimie

CHAPTER ONE

HOW KUTTUSH GOT A PLACE IN THE FAMILY HOLIDAY PLAN

            Something exciting was up and Kuttush could smell it in the air. Smelling excitement is not exactly something that you or I can do….but for Kuttush, it was second nature. You see Kuttush is a Labrador Retriever and therefore he is an expert in this matter. He can smell everything, from ‘nice’ smells like those from roses, Mom’s perfume & Dad’s aftershave , to ‘great’ smells like that of the doggy bone in the steel almirah and of course ‘dirty’ smells like the ones which come out from Teesta’s sneakers after she has played in the sun for two hours straight. He can even smell things which we cannot imagine as having a smell at all, like ‘happiness’, ‘sadness’ or ‘excitement’; yes and even ‘fun’ and ‘anger’!

            So Kuttush smelt the excitement and if you or I too could have smelt it, it would have been something like the whiff of perfume from dad’s big car mixed with a bit of pizza topping. Kuttush, of course did not care much for the car perfume bit; though he adored pizza toppings, specially the ones with plenty of chicken tikka. And he was right about the excitement …….! 
        Something was afoot……… Moms had come back early from work on Saturday…..Dads having put the camera batteries to charge , had brought down those big suitcases from the overhead closet and was now carefully wiping the dust from them. But Kuttush could not understand at first what all this excitement was about. It was only when Teesta began prancing all over the house with her favourite pink bag strapped to her back singing ‘Chutti Chutti Garam Garam Rootti’!,  that he realised, ‘Oh ho, these people are going on a holiday……!!!’ (you see, Teesta , Moms & Dads spoke this language called ‘Bangla’  where a ‘Roti’ (chapatti) was called ‘Rooti’ which Teesta had altered slightly to “rootti’ for the sake of rhyming it with ‘Chutti’ (holiday) and she loved singing this ditty; though of course, as far as Kuttush was concerned , as long as the roti  was ‘garam’ (hot) and ‘moti’ (thick), he did not bother whether it was ‘roti’ or ‘rooti’ or ‘rootti’). However, he did bother over the fact that they were going on a holiday because he was not so sure whether they planned to take him along. Last time when they had gone on a holiday to some place called ‘Rajasthan’, they had left him at home and he had been mighty miffed over it. The house had smelt of ‘loneliness’ and Kuttush did not like this smell at all, it was like the smell of a month old chicken piece forgotten in the back of the refrigerator and he definitely did not care for it. 
     However, since no one seemed interested in letting him know whether he was to go along or not, he decided that some subtle suggestions from his side were very much in order. So he picked his leash off the hook and carried it to the garage where Dads was now packing his fishing rod. He sat down on his haunches and gazed at Dads with a doleful ‘poor poor doggy’ expression that he knew would definitely win him a window ticket in their holiday plan. And he was right. Dads was soon cajoling Moms, ‘Come, Dew, (Moms was also known as Dew) lets take Kuttush along.’ 
        But convincing Moms was not an easy task. She was totally immune to all subtle suggestions from Kuttush including his special ‘poor poor doggy’ expression. She said firmly ‘Absolutely no! Last time when we took him, he had eaten up all the chicken cutlets in the train’s pantry car.’ ‘‘But they hadn’t minded at all, Dew. Remember how those pantry car boys themselves had packed us some more cutlets to take home later!’ Dad persisted. But Moms appeared very firm. When she repeated another very very grim sounding ‘NO!’, Kuttush understood that his ‘subtle’ methods had failed and it was time to apply more radical means. 
       So he sidled up to Moms, stood up on his hind legs, placed his right paw on her elbow, and laying his head against her side looked up at her through one eye squinting beneath hooded lids. Now no one has ever been able to resist this method of Kuttush’s till date and Moms was no exception. A glaze came over her eyes and the grim frowns on her forehead dissolved. A faint fragrance of what you or I would have called ‘vanilla’ floated in the air. Kuttush knew that it was ‘affection’ and that it meant Moms had consented. Soon her softly uttered ‘Ok ok you can come along, but no sneaking off with pantry chicken again!’ was lost somewhere under the furious licking of her face by Kuttush and the din created by Teesta and Dads shouting ‘Yippee, yippee, yippeeeeee.. !!!!!’  
    And so that was how Kuttush managed to get a place on the Family Holiday Plan!

PS :  Watch this space for Chapter II releasing next weekend.

Monday, 8 August 2016

A Walk to Work


          Some days I walk to work. During the winters, I do it almost every day, but in the summers, only on mornings such as this when a whole night of rain has cooled the air and eased the bite of the sun. Last night it had rained incessantly accompanied by much thunder, lightning and stormy winds; as a result today had dawned fresh, cool and inviting. Tempted by the ‘autumn’esque feel in the air, I had decided to walk to work. The distance is not much and since I was early, I walked leisurely, enjoying the sparkling new day. As I took my usual detour , jumping over the storm drain, Mimie standing on my sofa at the living room window, her favourite perch, gave a questioning bark, “What , no car today?” I knew very well the reason behind her intense interest; no car meant that there was absolutely no chance for a joyride for her when I returned from work. I laughed, waved at her and walked on.
          Though officially the Monsoons had not yet arrived, scattered rains and the odd thunderstorm had watered well the summer dried earth and as a result wild grass grew everywhere in gay abandon. The municipality employees were yet to descend with their sickles and ruthless ‘brush-cutters’ and so unfettered, they had grown up to knee length and were now sparkling happily in the morning sun. Under the wild fig tree, I spotted my friend the one-legged mynah foraging around for breakfast in the grass. Wondering where his partner was, I soon spotted her, behind the trunk of the tree, squabbling with a grey squirrel over the fallen figs.
           There are numerous eucalyptus trees in the area and with last night’s fierce winds having ripped the brown bark off, their trunks now glistened smooth and white. I thought they looked rather grand, a bit like those marble columns from the Parthenon or the Acropolis; but it seemed that the hornbills that nested within the holes in the trunks of these trees were not at all happy as the camouflage provided by that ragged brown bark was now all gone. I spotted them overhead, flying around in much ado, flitting from tree to tree, convening short meetings to troubleshoot this new problem.
          Ahead by the great concrete dustbin sat the Three Dogs, snatching a quick snooze in the cool of the early morning before the sun became too hot. While two of them did not even blink as I passed them by, Handsome dutifully stood up and gave me his customary bow. I don’t know why but he had taken a fancy to me and since I hadn’t been able to resist the attentions of this handsome young man with his smooth grey-brown coat, muscular carriage and dreamboat eyes, we had forged a friendship of sorts, of course from a distance. Handsome would always give me a chivalrous bow when our paths crossed and I confess in this day of ‘women’s emancipation’ with chivalry long deceased, it did make me feel rather grand.
          I walked on and as I neared my office gate, I paused for a moment at the edge of the main road before venturing beyond. It was here that the man crossed my path. Having spotted me, he deferentially stepped aside and then greeted me with a brief smile, “Namaste Madam!” before moving on. I smiled back in reflex and returned his greeting, “Namaste!” and crossed the road.
I had not yet stepped into my office porch when the Voice sneaked in, whispering, “He said Namaste....... ....!!!!!
“So what?” I replied, “What’s so strange about that?”
“Oh ho, didn’t you notice him properly? You walk with your eyes closed or what???!!!” said the Voice dripping derision.
I was perplexed at first but then remembered.
Upper-chest length neat beard.
Moustache trimmed very short and close to skin.
Long flowy dull gray kurta and pajamas that stopped short of his ankles.
“Didn’t you see? Didn’t you notice?” the Voice insinuated.
My mind being occupied by a major policy document that had to be drafted and despatched the same day, I still was not getting the point.
“So what?” I countered again and pushing open the door to my office, entered it.
“He’s Muslim, you tubelight.” The Voice accused me, filled with exasperation at my dumbness.
“I had guessed so.” I retorted tartly. “So what?”
“Don’t you think it strange,” the Voice whispered, “that he said Namaste?” I could make out the disbelief and distrust clearly in her voice, in spite of all that hushed whisperings.
I didn't reply at first.
So in an attempt to hammer her point in, she discarded her whispering. "He’s a Muslim and he said Namaste. Now isn’t that weird?????” The shocked indignation in her loud voice was unmistakeable.
I agreed, instinctively and instantly!
“Yeah, weird all right. Just imagine!!!” 
          And with that, I immersed myself in writing the War Doctrines against Aedes ( for those of you not familiar with her, that is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, winged enemy No 1 and personal chauffeur to  the Dengue Virus). But as the day wore on something kept niggling the back of my brain like that itch which starts right between your shoulder blades and try as you might you can’t reach it with your fingers for that lifesaving scratch.
“I think that was very juvenile!” A prim voice suddenly broke into my itchy reverie.
“Oh no....” I rued, “She is back!!!!”
I call her Ms P. Actually its Ms Prim N Propah but for the sake of brevity I refer to her simply as Ms P. Who is she? Well before I tell you who she is I must tell you something else. You see me, that is myself, c’est moi, is made of many ‘Me’s. Nothing unique in that for we all are, aren’t we, made up of many, many selves. I don’t know about you but I think that if you ever manage to slice me up into........ well, slices, you might actually find more than a thousand Me’s inside of me, each different from the rest and each quite, quite quirky. To tell you the truth, I am myself not familiar with all of these Me’s that live inside of me, though there are a few like Ms P n P whom I am pretty familiar with. There are others too with whom I am familiar, like Ms Foot-in-Mouth for example, whose USP is that she has no opinion of her own, takes on the opinion of whoever shouts the loudest, never thinks before responding and so invariably, gets her dainty feet (yes both) into her mouth pretty often. She gets reprimanded too equally often but refuses to learn the lesson of “Count hundred before you respond”! And I must tell you that the voices in my head since today morning were all hers, this Ms Foot-in-Mouth’s! Then there is Ms Couch Potato, fat, forty and famously lethargic. The day she is in ascendance, even my solid custom made teakwood bed gets dented with her continuously lounging on it for straight 36 hours without a break. And of course not to be forgotten is that ominous Ms Very-Bad-Mood. I must warn you that you wouldn’t want to meet this Slice even in your worst nightmare. I myself am terrified of her, but try as I might, haven’t quite been able to avoid crossing her path. She usually makes her appearances in sync with the moon, yet there is nothing remotely moony about her. She is a screeching, screaming, wild old hag and even when she has retired to her lair after each tantrum filled-appearance, she leaves a foul taste in the mouth. 
Reading me, it is quite possible that you are getting the impression that all my Me’s are bad. Well, that’s incorrect. I have nice Me Slices too. Take Ms Charm-the-Hind-Leg-Off-a-Donkey for example.  What a Slice, this Me: wide eyed, open smiled, soft spoken, genteel, caring and filled with enough charm to beguile even a donkey; hence the name.
Now this Ms Prim and Propah is also a slice of me, but let me tell you that I find her a big ache. She is this severe looking thing with hair pulled back in a tight bun, not one strand out of place and that severe expression on her face accentuated by a single frown line on her forehead. And I have rarely seen her smile. She has this perpetually disapproving expression on her face and an unnerving ability to look right through you, down to the deepest depths of your soul. Being my ‘Keeper of the Conscience”, she generally makes an appearance when I am occupied in a wrestling match with it. She takes her job very seriously and is the one who is always forcing me to do the ‘RIGHT’ thing, say the ‘RIGHT’ thing and even think the ‘RIGHT’ thing! (And I can’t tell you how singularly tedious and boring these ‘RIGHT’ things are!) But sometimes, more accurately many a times I do manage to go against her and when I have done those deliciously ‘wrong’ or ‘improper’ things, she responds by sulking and worse, by pricking my long suffering conscience with her disapproving needle-like stares.
And she was doing exactly that right now.
“I think that was pretty juvenile!!” she repeated, a little more forcefully this time.
I knew what she was talking about. “Why what’s wrong in thinking it weird, this being Muslim and saying Namaste?” I asked her a trifle tetchily.
“He had simply greeted you, Aibee. A normal, everyday, accepted greeting.”
Ms P sat down on the edge of my office desk. I was a little taken aback for she never did such improper things like sitting atop office desks. She was wearing a pair of rimless spectacles today and it made her look even more severe.
“Yet how did you respond Aibee? You paid no heed to his greeting. You saw only his look, his clothes, his faith........”
Ms P was in her element now.
“But did you pause to think that he had not done the same for you. When he greeted you today morning, he did not see your faith......!He simply greeted you as one person would another, human to human......! Ok may be he did see you as this lady doctor from the clinic next door, maybe you had attended to him in the past, maybe he greeted you out of a sense of appreciation and respect....But he never looked at your faith. It’s real funny, you know Aibee, that you see chivalry in the greeting of Handsome and when one of your own kin does the same, you cannot see beyond the colour of his faith.......!!!!”
I was squirming a bit now....
But she was relentless.
“He is the gardener, is he not?”
At last I could put in a word, “No, he is the municipality sweeper.”
“Whatever.” Ms P said dismissively. “Tell me Aibee, when the spring garden flowers in March just outside your office window and you spend hours gazing at it in wonder, do you ever want to know the colour of its Mali’s faith? Do you?” She demanded.
Having no suitable reply to that, I could only say, “He is not the Mali!” In a rather small voice.
But Ms P was unyielding. “Well so what if he is the sweeper? Tell me, as you took your morning pleasure walk to office today marvelling how the roads had been swept clean of the debris left by yesterday’s storm, did you ever even once wonder about the sweepers’ Gods?”
I could only nod my head penitently, “No, I didn’t!”
Ms P seemed mollified a little. And adequately chastised, I could now look into her eyes. I did so, with a sheepish grin. She was still sitting on the table’s edge, looking down at me from the top of her glasses. Beyond that severe nun like visage, I now saw a delicate sheen, a sheen of sense and of reason. She said sadly, “The rot emerges from within our own selves, Aibee, our own thoughts, from yours and from mine...... !”
She gave a great, deep sigh.
 And in the exhaling of that sigh, I felt Ms Foot-in-Mouth grow small and then disappear completely, well at least for the time being!!!
I looked at Ms P once more.
“.......And you know Aibee, the balm too lies within our own selves...!” she continued and smiled at me, one of her very, very rare smiles. I noticed how the smile reached up to her eyes and softened the severe lines of her face so that she looked actually charming now, even more charming than Ms Charm-the-Hind-Leg-Off-a-Donkey.
 I turned my head to gaze out of my office window. With a momentary lull in the rain, the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds and in its impromptu light everything sparkled, the black tarred road, the rain-faded zinnias and cock’s-combs, the rows of ashoka trees.........!
“Such a beautiful greeting, Namaste....,” I thought “Namah-Te...I bow to you. I bow to you for I see in you a reflection of the Divine as I know you see the same in me. Such an ancient language Sanskrit, ancient and wise and without prejudice.....”
And when I turned back to my desk, I found that Ms P had left. But I know now that of course she hadn’t. She had said that the balm too lies within us. All it needs is for us to just turn around and take a look, a look within our own selves. You see, there is a Ms P within all of us. The Divine, it dwells within us all.
Namaste!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

MONDAY MEANDERINGS OF THE MANIC MIND.......

             I am petrified of Mondays. Mondays have this terrible ability to haunt you, beginning right from Saturday evening itself. The sensation is not very overt at first, being more like a vague foreboding, a shapeless indistinct shadow just beyond the edge of your visual field which though you can’t quite see, you know is there alright, malevolent and waiting to pounce. The feeling reaches the peak of torment on late Sunday evenings bringing hazy, unpleasant dreams all through the night that you can’t quite recall next morning. And when it actually dawns, Monday is cast in a foggy pall of gloom even if the sun is shining merrily outside. And even though I am quite fond of that cheery couple, the yellow sun and the blue sky, on Mondays they feel like interlopers.....; mocking you mercilessly......!

Of course, by evening the mind has acclimatized itself and you are back to your normal weekday self, ready to take on Tuesday and Wednesday and others of that ilk.....But because the daytime is particularly hard to endure, I often find myself devising ways and means to deal with this problem. One of the easiest and most effective ways that I have chanced upon is a diversionary tactic that simply forces your mind to meander, to concentrate on something, anything, that can take your mind off painful realities like Mondays....!
            
So this Monday found my mind meandering about in the Land of Blogs....! I so badly wanted to write a post to turn away my thoughts from the bleakness of Monday; but my mind was refusing to wear the ‘creativity’ cap. I was completely at loss for inspiration. And you cannot really blame me for that sorry state of things. When one spends the entire week in a dry-as-dust office such as mine, churning out tons and tons of crusty official correspondence that go “....for your kind information and further necessary action please....” it really does parch all literary emotion out of you.
            
At my wits end, I turned to OH ( Other Half abbreviated) for help.

“Suggest a topic for my next blog!” I texted him. “And fast!” After a negligible delay of only an hour or two which I spent feverishly checking my cell-phone every ten minutes to see if he had responded (....the Monday Blues were getting bluer and bluer), I received this reply,

“Birds, dogs (each breed separately), fishes......!”
           
I was stunned by the temerity of his reply.

Birds???? Dogs??????? Fishes????????????

What made him even consider less than ordinary things like birds and dogs and fishes for my lofty Blog?????? And anyways, I have already written about birds (http://indmanbhatta.blogspot.in/2015/06/birds-from-my-balcony.html) and even about dogs (http://indmanbhatta.blogspot.in/2015/09/dog-dramas-part-i.html) and had not the slightest intention of falling to those literary depths again.

But what especially got my gall was his suggestion of fishes. It set my teeth on edge with exasperation! Fishes? Why the hell would I want to write about fishes? I hated fish. They were slippery and slimy and distinctly fishy. I know, most of you would by now be wondering: “Bong hate fish?? Weird!!!” Well I don’t care what you think but I’ve always hated fishes especially those of the edible variety and after being at the receiving end of much flak for this all my life just because I was a fish-hating-Bong, I have now become totally inured to these snide insinuations.

Yes, you did not read wrong, I did use the word ‘insinuation’. They were without doubt insinuations especially the ones emanating from the Family. And these remarks usually went like this: ‘You know, a certain neighborhood Kakima’s (Bong for Auntyji) certain daughter-in-law , in spite of being a Sardarni eats fish like a cat and does not even spare the bones.....!’ all announced in a voice of wondrous admiration as if this unnamed girl had acquired a degree from Harvard or Yale. No Sir, I would not write about fish, in fact I refuse to write about fish. I hate them and I think I have made that abundantly clear.
            
I was now in a mood for rebellion. I texted him back, “I refuse to write about birds, or dogs or fishes! I’m instead, going to write of S*#, LIES and VIDEOTAPE......!!!!” 

He is a bit old fashioned, this OH of mine, a little too prim for today’s ‘anything goes’ world. That text sent him into a shell shock, a trauma from which he still hasn’t recovered enough to respond back!!!!

 But it set me thinking. Why not write about “S*#, LIES and VIDEOTAPE”? Like they say, nothing sells like S*# and it would definitely do a world of good for my not so popular blog. I had begun this blog just for my own self, writing simply for the sheer pleasure of writing. But then as I wrote more and more, I found people actually reading and responding , and it was then that slowly but surely, I fell into that inevitable trap of writing more for others, for garnering appreciation and less for the pleasure of putting my thoughts to paper. And so today when I find the interest of my usual audience flagging, it worries and pains me. Ideally this shouldn’t have bothered me as long as I continued to enjoy reading my own writing. But seeking approval is a human failing and I am not immune to it. So I have been wondering about how I could boost readership. Writing about S*# would definitely be a viable business proposition. But I’ll confess: I am guilty of being a secret prude, a prude who at the very beginning had laid down the single unwritten rule for this blog: No Senseless Violence, No Controversy, No ‘F’ word, no ‘S’ word, No Arnab Goswami and of course No Fish!

At this juncture I’ll meander a bit. I guess that’s allowed since this post is titled ‘Monday Meanderings’. I wanted to talk about my readers. One can classify them into categories based on their readership patterns. Of course none of the categories are sacrosanct compartments and there could be considerable overlap between two categories and persons could move from one category to next based on the particular post they were audience to...but nevertheless here’s the list.
1.       The BFFs. These are the blogger's dream audience. They read your post; actually read, it not simply skim through, assimilate and then respond intelligently and positively. And even when they critique you, their criticism is reasonable, unbiased and most importantly for fledgling writers like me, forgiving. I call them the BFFs because they are few and most of them are actually my closest friends.
2.    The KIND. These people are just that, kind. And how are they different from category 1? Well unlike the BFFs, these readers are always unfailingly kind. They read my posts out of sheer goodness and generosity of spirit and then respond very kindly. ALWAYS. They can get boring at times. I know I am being ungrateful but then that’s how it is.
3.   The WALL. The Walls are exasperating. They read your posts (I am assuming this of course) but they never, ever respond. It’s like conversing with a concrete wall. Nothing gets across the wall; nothing at all from them to me and I assume that is probably because nothing got through from me to them. Maybe they are not reading the post at all, maybe they just click in and then intimidated by so much ‘angrezi’ click out, post haste. Who knows; but then they do serve the purpose of boosting readership of my blog in terms of quantity, if not quality.
4.     The OH. You have to tackle this category a little differently. While for the other readers you simply send a link to your blog intimating them of a new post and your job is done; for this category, just sending a link will not do. You have to coax, cajole, beg and finally bribe them to read your post. The manner of reading exhibited by this reader is also unique. It’s done in phases, first one page, then after some cajoling the next; such that days may pass before the complete post has been read. Eliciting a response from them is also tricky.  You send a text requesting a response, then another and another till the world-wide-web crashes, yet silence is the only response that you get. Then suddenly one fine day when you are least expecting it, its there, twinkling on your screen: intelligent, positive, reasonable and kind. You see, the OH category reader has now upgraded into the BFF category! Well there is only one single member of this category and no prizes, no, absolutely none, for guessing who it is. 
         
Reverting back to the blog, you might recall I was talking about S*#........... ! No, of course I wasn’t. See, gotcha, didn’t I? I wasn’t talking about S*# but about that single unwritten rule of my blog. Now being bound by this rule, I have to think of something else to attract readership, something that without violating my rules would still catch the attention of my readers. How about Romance? No controversy there, no violence, no ‘F’ words, no ‘S’ words and definitely no Arnab Goswami...... and when written in good taste, an excellent counter to all that’s carnal. Yes I could definitely try my hand at that. And to tell you the truth, hailing from the age of the genteel MBs (for the uninitiated that’s Mills and Boons, publishers of Romance Novels for school girls, college girls, Home Makers and numerous lady doctors of all ages and degrees of graying hair..), I would have failed miserably in writing about S*# today, in this age of Fifty Shades of Gray.......!

There is sudden strong gust of wind outside and the electricity fails. As my inverter takes over noisily, the drumming of rain begins on my window pane. The sun has long set but a dull orange glow remains. The dreaded Monday is drawing to a close. And with it, my manic mind, much calmer now, is returning home from its meanderings....! And so having successfully tackled another dreadful Monday (drumming out nearly 2260 words on the laptop for a new post can be labelled as some measure of success, especially for a Monday), the prospect of tackling Tuesday seems like cakewalk for me. But then I’ll keep that for tomorrow. For now, there is dinner to be made and consumed, dogs to be fed, dishes done, presentations created.... I think I’ll call it quits at this point. Good night!!!

PS: For those of you wondering about that ‘Romance’ bit, just wait for the next post. Cheerio!!!!






             

Alu and the Crown God

I had rolled barely a hundred metres down the road when I spotted her gambolling in the adjoining park. "Heyy Alu," I called ou...