Monday, October 30, 2006

Alone, with himself

He sat there, stretched out on his exquisite velvet couch, watching his irritation creep up onto him. He had been lying on this same couch doing the same old things, day-in and day-out for the last so many days. In fact, it had been a good year since he was last out on an assignment. Yes it had been riddled with ridiculous risks. Yes he had cribbed about it insanely. And yes he had mentioned a couple of times how he never wanted to do this again. In fact if you were one for numbers, you’d have placed his count to 237 times over four days. But now he was craving to be out on the job. Ironically, he was wishing for one of those reckless moments. He leaned across the couch and picked at his toe nails. What else could he do? When he wasn’t working, he wasn’t allowed to walk around the city streets. Yes, some jobs are like that, plain bloody evil - if you don’t know real evil, that is. And while he had every single need provided for in this room, it did get a little tiresome after a while. After all one does get weary of a pretty room and growing toe nails after the first 41 days. He wrenched out a bit of his protruding nail and thought to himself, a man needs to get out from time to time. Meet up with his mates. Have a couple of drinks. Boast of made up achievements. He sighed as he studied his toes again. There they were, all lined up neatly, one next to the other. Yes, that's a job well done, he thought as he began to snuggle his way back into the couch. He had almost made it too, when a sudden jolt threw him right off. It took him a few surprised minutes to recognise the rumbling all around. His room was shaking violently now, its contents flung all over the place. As he struggled to stay put, he smiled. Finally, he thought, a summon! And as a lime green vase smashed into his face, he wondered, in child-like anticipation, what three wishes he would be granting this time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Where there is smoke...

There was smoke everywhere. She could barely see a thing; her eyes were watering and turning a worrisome red. It was a chaotic scene, people were screaming instructions and suggestions as she struggled to find her way around. As the smoke rose, she worried even more, what if the edge of her sari caught fire? What if her lenses fell out? What if she tripped? What if ... damn, I need to hold it together, she thought. And as the thick black smoke danced around her, she hitched her sari ever so slightly, blinked her eyes furiously and told herself, just two more pheras and we’ll be done. Just two more.

Blue Curacao

Was it the drink, he wondered, or something else?

He had left office at six sharp, walked a colleague to the bus stop and then made his way to this coffee shop. It was a routine he was diligently following over the last few weeks. Now even the staff here recognised him
and greeted him as a patron; him, his glass of iced Blue Curacao and a sports magazine. He flipped past yet another player profile as he stole a quick glance at his watch; it was almost eight, any minute now his phone would ring. He hurriedly pulled it out from his pocket and placed it on the table, right next to Allan Donald’s career statistics. And waited. 8:02. 8:03. 8:05. 8:07. 8:08. It finally rang at 8:10. He grabed the phone, let it ring once, and then quickly answered it.

Hey, she said, am done, how about you, are you still at work?
No, am done too, just leaving, he answered.
Oh super, so I’ll see you at the station then, in another 15?
Yeah, same place.
Cool! See you.

He quickly finished the remains of his drink, tucked Allan Donald back into the magazine rack and made his way out. In five minutes he’d be at the station and in another ten he’d be on his way home. He smiled as he thought he didn’t mind the hour long journey anymore.

Was it the drink, he wondered, or something else?

Friday, October 20, 2006

What was Mulayam Singh thinking?

Note: This question has at least 10001 variations, just substitute name of politicians to suit your argument.

The UP government, headed by the honourable Mulayam Singh Yadav, has issued cheques to distressed farmers across the region. This lion hearted drought relief measure ranges from an opulent Rs.10 to a generous Rs.2. Wonder how much the cheque itself costs, and the fare to the local bank?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Signing out

It has finally happened. After a year of plotting and planning, the day has come to hang up my oshos and do things other then advertising. It’s been a half decent run, I think. Some memorably forgettable work and some that never saw the light of day (thankfully?). But all is good when the people you work with get rid of you with a warm smile and actually reply to your ok bye email. Of course it was a little weird to see the new boy sitting on ‘my’ comp. I wanted to tell him that he’d inherited a lousy machine, one that’s slower then Inzy and that it will almost always let him down. But then I thought, let him find out the hard way. A couple of weeks here and he’ll figure out it gets much worse :) Also my boss asked me to stay on in the sweetest way ever, it’s a memory that’ll always stay with me. So at the end of it all, am I happy? Hell yes, I realised somewhere between a barf worthy ad I was writing and a stab me now brochure that even though this was (at least occasionally) fun, I didn’t want to spend my life writing fun as a ringworm leaflets and yawn yawn when will this end AVs. So I've decided to move on and find me something new to do. What exactly I know not, but it will most definitely involve lots of travel and loads of writing. And hopefully, I’ll end up exactly where I should be. So till then adios advertising, and adios;

Think some more (but …but, I can’t)
But where is the idea? (THAT IS THE IDEA)
It’s been done (not by me, it hasn’t!)
I want an option (fuck off)
Your book is not crazy enough (*quiet simmering rage*)
But where are visual ideas? (I am a writer, asshole)
The brief has changed (what? what?)
It’s nice, but … (BUT?)

Sweet sweet relief!



She sat in the last row, right next to the door and watched the proceedings, the charade play out. She heard out the arguments and watched the Judge react to them, sometimes worried, sometimes frustrated. And when the case came to an end she was hardly surprised at which way the verdict went. The cops and the accused shook hands and exchanged words of hushed conspiracy, and the honourable Judge walked out with his head held low. As the front row broke down in uncontrollable grief, she walked out of that courtroom with hidden tears and a cold heart. Years later when they reopened the case, she returned to her spot near the door. A lifetime had passed since they had all assembled here last, a lot had since changed. And by the end of this renewed battle so had the verdict. While the front row wept a silent tear and marked their victory with brave smiles, she saw him collapse in his chair. He couldn’t accept this reversal in fortunes, not after all the money he had spent and the names he had cultivated in his favour. He watched his guilt closing in around him. He looked towards the door; he desperately wanted to get out of this room, away from all these people. That’s when he saw that last row seat. He suddenly found it very hard to breathe as he watched that empty seat. If he could have seen her, he would have seen her standing there with a smile.

The verdict to the Priyadarshini Matoo case is out and finally justice has prevailed. It’s come 10 years too late but at least there is a dim light at the end of the very dark tunnel. We’ve a long way to go, and hopefully we’ll get there.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Out of touch

She took a deep breath and prepared herself. She hadn’t done this in a very long time. She was completely out of practice and that made her very very nervous. She used to be really good at this once upon a time; her friends had always told her how lucky she was, envy spreading from tip to tip on their longing smiles. Ah, those were the good old days, when everything was in place, and in shape. Now weighing 93 kgs, forget her toes, she could barely touch her knees.


These are bad time we live in. A time of remixes, remakes and super scary sequels. So while I cringe and squirm each time Shahrukh ‘Don’ Khan wriggles his bum to Khaike paan and Ash batters her fake eyelids to Rekha’s Umrao Jaan, I hear wicked words like Ramu’s Sholay and my newspaper spreads evil rumours of a Krrish sequel. Is there no hope?

Sunday, October 15, 2006


She took off her shirt and walked up to the mirror to face her naked blue reflection. He had promised her a bruising, he had warned her, told her what to expect but she had laughed off his silliness. Now she winced as she gingerly touched a new born welt on her abdomen. All across her body he had left little isles of his promise, each swelling up as a reminder of his presence and power over her. He had been careful not to scar her face, he hadn't touched her arms either; marking his playing field to strictly neck and below. So while her perfect face and her smooth arms stood a rich brown, the rest of her was slowly turning into a riot of blues. She looked into the mirror, at what he had done to her, and smiled.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I am back after four days in Goa with sea shells and a chocolate brown tan. The shells are really pretty but the tan didn’t find too many fans. Some sample reactions;

Mortified aunt: Oh my god, have you become dark?

Mortified aunt 2: Why are you looking so dark today?

Mortified aunt 3: Tan! Why did you even go to Goa?!

Mortified aunt 2 again: You will become normal again, na?

Mum: Haven’t you ... washed your face today? (Hmmm)

Mortified aunt 3 again: You shouldn’t have gone only.

Am expecting some fair and lovely advice to follow soon, will keep you all posted. Sigh.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Breaking NEWS

It’s 10:45 on a Sunday night. The whole day has been spent at work and all I ask for after such a day is some decent television programming to surf on. But no. What I get instead is 765 stupid news channels flashing brain dead breaking news in my face. Remember the old days? Breaking news meant election results, earthquakes, a tsunami or planes flying into buildings. On a good day it meant wow, we actually won a match. Today breaking news is a gutter filled with ridiculous marital spats, children eating chocolates in a pit, farty religious bigots displaying stunning levels of mental retardation and other such displays of general Indian stupidity. And this isn’t just one or two bad channels, every channel seems to be working hard to stoop lower then the rest. Example on screen right now, Sachin Tendulkar is saying, in Hindi mind you, that we need a balance while experimenting with the team. Stupid, daft reporter translates in his version of Hindi, Sachin ko nahi pasand team ke saath experiments, akhir bole little master. Huh? What? Where? On another channel the smart as a twit reporter is asking a singer about the pressures of singing for the new Umrao Jaan (warning: rant on remakes of classics soon to follow) and asks the singer to hum a few lines. Decent courtesy demands you at least shut the soundtrack, a song sung by another singer not in your studio, playing on your split screen, while the singer in your studio sings. But noooo, how could they figure out something as complex as this, after all this isn’t rocket science, is it? Btw, just incase you missed it, this was a segment of breaking news too, how exactly it qualifies, i don't know. Don't get me wrong here, not that watching the Mika-Rakhi war wasn’t interesting, much more intriguing then the Middle East conflict I’d say, but whatever happened to the news guys? And whatever happened to journalism?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The sun was growling, intimidating the pale blue sky to a fierce yellow. A thin plastic sheet, held up by flimsy sticks, was all that stood between her and the angry sun. Her little boy sat near by, playing with bits of gravel. His sores, staring openly at the dehydrated day, were buzzing with flies. Out of habit she tried to swat them away. But they were war veterans, unafraid of little waves, they continued their feast. She wondered how long he would last in these conditions, how long before he too left her, slaughtered like the rest, to fuel this war.

She wondered if her husband was still alive. Maybe he was still out there, fighting death by delivering fresh bodies to his doorstep everyday, driving helpless people like her into camps like this. She had got here just yesterday, ahead of the wave of refugees filing in. Each time a new coalition was formed or a new peace deal was brokered, a new camp like this would spring up somewhere. Soon they would run out of plastic sheets, water and medicine. And then things would get even worse. But they were safer here, at the mercy of foreigners, while their own hacked them up into tiny pieces on the other side. When the war had started, she used to be full of bitterness, and ready to fly into a fit of rage. But today all emotion had been shed away, along with the blood flowing on the streets. Now, there was just a long wait in the sun. For peace. For death. For the numbness to end.

They saw her in the papers the next day. There she was, a beautiful young black woman. Blood was pouring out form somewhere behind her head, a little boy was sitting next to her dead body, crying. It was a chilling picture, it didn’t go down too well with the morning cuppa. People squirmed as her lifeless eyes started at them from the newspapers. And the little boy’s wails were screaming out, past the words and onto the breakfast table. They flipped the page hurriedly and wondered what the world was coming to, burying her as another headline, one more story that got lost in the morning of the civilized world.