Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A personal note

Going away on holiday to India. It may be some time before new posts are up. Please excuse delay. Thank you.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A quick tale 98

One busy morning at the railway station

He is charging down the platform, weaving through the crowd that has gathered to see loved ones off. His legs, unaccustomed to such frenzied aerobic activity, are doing their best to carry his bulk towards the train that is gradually pulling out of the station. One final burst and he's nearly there. He grabs hold of the cold metal handle of the train carriage, drops his suitcase inside and heaves his body up the steps. Pausing to catch his breath, he turns around to wave to the fast-receding throng of bye-sayers. It is nice to pretend that some of them were there for him. That some of them were crying into their handkerchieves, unable to look up and see him go. That some of them were wiping their eyes for the tears made it hard to see. That they wanted to keep waving and keep looking at him until he became a tiny speck in the distance. That some of them wanted to come running along with the moving train as far as the platform would allow, for his sake. That they kept repeating their goodbyes and their promises to keep in touch with him until it became a meaningless chant. He likes to think they played out the drama, all for his benefit.

For, wouldn't it be sad that he was going away and not one friend or relative or neighbour or neighbour's dog could come to see him off and tell him how much they were going to miss him? He turns around to look at others in the carriage. And smiles the smile of one who was given a fond farewell.

A quick tale 97

I must tell you something

You and I go back a long time. So I think I can tell you. Do you remember that day when you tripped in front of the news stand and hoped that no one saw you? I was there. I was watching as you picked yourself up and dusted your behind and check your shoes to see if your heels were still in place. It was pretty funny, actually. I hope I can keep a straight face when I meet you next time. But pardon me if a little smirk escapes. If you ask me why, I'll tell you it's that hilarious joke I heard on Jonathan Ross last night. But to be honest, it'll be the sight of you, sprawled out, on your back, in front of the news stand the other day that I will be recalling. How angry you were when someone asked you if you were alright! Of course, you were. And how brave of you to walk without wincing. How is your ankle now, my dear? Do apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling and stay away from 4 inch heels and King's Cross station for a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A quick tale 96

Heard the one about Kumar?

I had to do away with him. He was getting unmanageable.


'Yes, Kumar likes the movie too'
'Kumar? Who Kumar?', they cried in unison as if it were a chorus in a song.
'My boyfriend...', I mumbled looking down at the ground.
'YOUR boyfriend? Your BOYFRIEND?', screamed my best friend Bubbs stressing different parts of the sentence for effect.
'How long has this been going on? Why didn't you tell us?', quizzed Nimmy, her best friend.
I shrugged in response.

They wanted to know all about him. So I told them as fast as I could make up the details. He was 21, an Engineering graduate. I wanted him to have a sensitive side, so I made him work with an NGO for orphaned kids. He was 6 ft 2, slim-built and wore glasses. He coached poor kids football and organised morchas to protest the demolition of slums in his spare time ('awwww', they cooed).

They wanted to meet him. So I sent him away to Brussels to attend an international conference on child development organised by UNICEF. From time to time, I would slink away in full view of my friends to talk to 'Kumar' on the phone. I'd come back giggling and tell my friends how naughty Kumar was. They'd blush and I'd act all coy.

Couldn't they at least see his photo? No, I said, Kumar was camera-shy and hated having his photo taken. What about talking to him? Couldn't Bubbs and Nimmy say hello to him over the phone? Oh no, Kumar was very busy fundraising. As a matter of fact, he was meeting the Ambani brothers to discuss corporate funding that very day. He wouldn't like to be disturbed.

That shut them up for a while before they started again. So I gave him chicken pox, broke his leg, killed his grandmother, drowned him in work and once, I even drained his mobile phone batteries. They were persistent, those bitches! They wanted to meet him at any cost. Unless I could manufacture a boyfriend at a short notice, I was quickly running out of excuses. Which is when mother nature gave me a hand. A train in Andhra was washed away by flash floods and guess who was on the ill-fated train? Kumar was on his way home after organising donations for victims of a cyclone in Rayalseema when the tragedy happened.

I went into mourning for a few days. But secretly, I was preening. I had officially had a boyfriend and lost him. Score: me - 1, the bitches - 0. Ha!

Monday, November 07, 2005

A quick tale 95

The day you lost faith

She sits across the café from you, in the same spot, day after day. And her order never changes. A chocolate doughnut, large fries, cheeseburger and a caffe latte with cream. How she manages to stay a size 8 on that diet remains a mystery to you. You watch her devour her lunch as you cautiously pick at your salad because you read somewhere that eating slowly makes you eat less. You could chew on one leaf of lettuce for an entire lunch hour.

Looking at her, you console yourself that she’s probably a bimbette. In fact, you’re certain that she is a brainless twat, a 23-year old infant with boobs. The next day, you see her reading something about Ergonomics and solving Kakuro simultaneously while stirring her fourth sugar cube into the coffee cup. So what, you tell yourself, she’s probably got a lousy personal life. You’re convinced she’s been jilted a thousand times. Actually, you’re sure that she gets just one Christmas card each year. From her credit card company. The following day, you see her lunching with the neighbourhood George Clooney. Ha, you say to yourself, bet she’s a non-starter in the career department. She probably works for a pharmaceutical company testing new drugs on herself. Or in a factory making little cocktail umbrellas wearing a thimble all day. You certainly weren’t expecting her to interview you for your new job. And that was the day, 23rd of February 2005 that you lost all faith in god.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A quick tale 94

One or the other

Is that a silk saree you’re wearing? Lovely colour. It reminds me of a story. Yes, I’ll make it quick. Sit down. How’s the back? Good. Then let me begin.

A woman (it was hard to tell her age) was stirring sugar into her cup of tea while looking out at her garden. It’s strange, she thought, there are no butterflies. At this time of the year, the air is usually full of fluttering wings. Where have they gone, she wondered. Perhaps they have all been captured while they were still worms and dropped into hot water to make silk, she panicked. For, the lady mistakenly believed that silkworms left to live then go on to become garden butterflies. This led her to think that it was either butterflies or silk. Everything was a choice, she concluded. Satisfied that she had reduced all of life’s dilemmas to a simple aphorism, she took a noisy sip from her mug.