Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Slurred sleep

The 33rd day of the month

Thirty and thirty-one have been the norm since forever. Twenty-eight, just once a year. Twenty-nine, take a break, you are just a guest. The monotony of this rhythm is such that I tend to forget what's after 31. "Oh, it's 32, OK." And this happens when the calendar flips over to '1.' 

"Double you tee eff aree you tryin to tell?" asked Rob, in a tone that highlighted his labor at learning proper English. He shook Ron violently who was fast asleep. Ron didn't have to count any sheep; he was exhausted of late and been as lazy as the sloth he spotted during his recent trip to South America. For work. "Work? South America? What you have office in that country?" pondered Rob.

Ron didn't seem to move an inch. Rob stuffed a whiskey-soaked cloth in his mouth as Ron continued to flounder his dialogue.

I have been working for more hours than a human can ever manage. It's like borrowing a few hours from the next day to this day. And then more from the day after to tomorrow. It's an endless cycle until the eye stops blinking. "My eyes aren't blinking now." He tee-heed, the cloth holding still. Heart stops beating, I must say. But it's a thing now. If cycling or walking for kilometers was work from that generation, typing tens of thousands of words a day is perhaps worker. You know what I mean? Like comparative? Like work-worker-workest? OK. 

"Workest? Workest is bad. Fatigue. Stress can murder. Scary I feel." Rob felt a trap in Ron's speech in slumber. He bit his tongue while cracking on a KrackJack. He wet his tongue with the whiskey in front of him. He added two cubes of ice. He licked one before he spluttered them both into his glass. 

People around are not so kind. Sometimes. How would they know what's racing in the mind and beating in the heart? Would the moist eye be seen as a tear? Silence is not shy, always, you know. There are ten thousand thoughts thundering together. The concoction continues to cripple sanity. I don't seem to distinguish solitude from socialness. When one's on top, the other wants to take over. I am tired. Drained. 

"You drank much. Not good. Seem to saying many words instead of typing. You are upset?"

I fear that if a month goes by, the other's as worse. Days after days, it's a worn out tape. 

"What's problem, Ron? I sure not it's not worker but something more. Girl? Money? I happy to help. Tell." Rob poured more whiskey. This time he got four cubes of ice.

Ron fell silent. The cloth still stuffed in his mouth. He coughed up. Briefly opened his eyes and sucked phlegm back into his nostrils. He went back to sleep. Almost like a reflex.

Ron kept silent.

"I wait to you be up. From sleep. And the sadness. I there, my friend." Rob muttered. He meant it. As a guy who's been through some turbulence himself, he knew the troubles would soon be over.

I miss her. When I miss her, I dearly miss her. That's when one in the thousand words begins to make sense. Love. Months and days feel nothing, then. Ron fell silent again.

"Understand. You miss her, my friend. Happy that whiskey worked. Stress is nothing when love knocks." Rob realized that he emptied the bottle of the finest Macallan Ron got for him. His heart sank.

Ron fell asleep. For real. Rob chugged the rest of his glass.

"Hey but 28 and 29 come all month, no?" Rob said glugging the last drop of his drink.

Saturday, November 07, 2015


The Belchers

Meet the 'Belchers'! Funny they are called so. But I love them! 

Bob's Burgers gives you some laughs and can...err...pleasantly annoy you. The Belchers make & sell burgers for a living. You'll hate the kids and you can giggle at their antics. The best part of the show, however, is Jon Benjamin's voice!

Let's hope we taste these someday. And definitely not belch.

This drawing didn't take long, and it was an easy sketch. Bob was the easiest. Tina was the toughest, surprisingly! 

Do give this show a watch. Stressbuster.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thus, this!

Knock my block off

It is the time when the deep-rooted frustration wrings those brain cells – to act ‘sooner,’ before the very same brain triggers the palm to strangle the neck. The feeling’s sudden and often growing each day; to crawl to every breathing part of the body until this little act comes along.

I do not recollect when my last post came through. The post on the blog — that claims to be a paradise — has been lurking around the corner for a painfully long time; the corner of the mind, I mean to say, and is indeed far away from its intended cozy home – the internet. Or, in other words, an ABC product. Oh, ‘cozy’ did I say? How deceived and gullible could the post be for a title I’d given a decade ago!

Nevertheless, I tapped the ends of my fingers to discharge any dust that’d come in the way of my writing. But, to my much feared agony, I hit a block. No sooner had I started counting time up on my therapeutic act than the demonic-eyed hurdles came calling.

I took my palms and arms off the white-top table, only to realize that I’d painted it black with sweat while battling my block. I pulled my chair back and closed my eyes for soliloquy.

Write…mmm…how about ‘grammar in speech’? That’s a good start.

No. I’m writing. Hunting for fun and fact. Liberation.

Hear me. Technology and truce. Conspiracy and crime. Hypocrisy and health. Fraud and finance. Love and Hate?

Out of boundaries. Zilch.

My thoughts crawled further up my brain. They sat up high enough for a fair view of the world. I shot their ideas down. They resumed, again.

Creativity. Narrate a photograph. Colors and hues. Stare for a story.

Go on.

A picture speaks a thousand words. Your words are yours. Read like no other. Tell a story.

I don’t have a picture.

OK! Close your eyes.

They are...closed.

Now, knock us off your head. Open your eyes. Open up.

I stood up. My eyes were closed still. I counted to zero to blink them open.

I don’t remember if there was ever a window behind my table. I drew the curtains and looked out – for a beautiful morning, the air filled with the fragrance of chaotic life. 

Thoughts seemed to have silenced themselves.

My post seemed to have taken an amoebic shape already. The clutches within felt loosened. I tapped my fingers.


And thus, this!

Friday, December 19, 2014

This is Priceless!

Gifted with love...

I was living in a cocoon of uncertainty until recently when life seemed easy as pie, thanks largely to my family and friends who infused comforting sentiments into my otherwise irrational thinking. I held my ground, firm, with an elevated sense of understanding of the events unfolding before me. To be honest, I paid little attention to the virtues and mantras of marriage and relished the presence of my people. Even when the fast ticking time, draped in loneliness, knocked on my mind, the thought of my family, more so the woman walking into my life, shooed it away letting my stable-self be.

Of the many overwhelming phases of the last few days, beyond the wish-filled presents and tributes, one particular thing keyed up my emotions. My brother walked into my room, a day before my wedding, holding something that looked like an enormous poster. “What is this?” I asked. I felt like a clueless nine-year-old asking his brother, whom he looks up to, a question that had a straightforward answer. “Look at it. Closely,” he said. 

There was a large white canvas board dotted with cut-outs. Memories, rather. This is what it looked like. I must explain the contents of this image that was captured by my hands that shook of excitement and anxiety.

I could write to an infinite word count about each of these. But if you look at some of the striking pastes, you’d notice my craze for The X-Files, Agatha Christie, Family Guy, South Park, TintinHarsha Bhogle, Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, DDLJ, Friends, SanFrancisco, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Riven, Red Wine and so on. Now, each of these are not only my favorites but also a ‘first’ in my life. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse or the Lynmar Estate winery, for example. Those were some of the first places I went to on my first trip to San Francisco. That was some memory, I tell you!

There are also a few memorable yet embarrassing likes – a vial of Zinda Tilismath, a photo of the baby me holding (or ripping off) a doll’s head. Bang in the center is an audio tape – which I presume is blank. My fondest memory of tape was recording songs on radio and albums borrowed during my teenage years.

To cut it short, this is perhaps the best gift I’ve ever gotten! It was probably tailored — to perfection — by the greatest treasure I have: my brother and sister; with unconditional love.

It took me some time to soak in all of it.

But, knowing my ‘over-thinking’ personality, I was left with a challenge. “I’ve arranged these in an order that must make sense to you,” my brother said. He probably loved the way I cracked some tough puzzles in Riven – a game both of us played ignoring the demands of schools and assignments back then.

Anyway, a Thank You isn’t enough. I’ll live with these memories as long as time lasts.

Now, I’m off to look at it closely to crack the code. 

Hmmm … pictures speak a thousand words! What are you saying, memory in a photo?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

When the lump gets cleared

Plagued by this

Ron woke up to a lump in his throat. “Oh boy! What a night! What a dream! Would I have a bad day?” He frowned. He hesitated to rub his eyes and see the morning light. He got off his bed and dragged his body to the bathroom. He looked himself in the mirror and saw blurred flashes of the day he would live.
“I am coming over. I have to talk. Are you back from your nighter?” he asked Rob. “Yes. Come. I no sleep. Bad time. No problem, you come. We talk,” Rob said.
Rob has been one of Ron’s closest pals. They hailed from the same town but grew up in different cities until 25 years later when they happened to bag jobs in the same city. Rob has had relationship troubles and spent time mulling over what went wrong. “Nothing. I perfect. Girl nice but don’t know,” he always told himself.
Ron knocked on Rob’s door. “Come in,” Rob said.
“Isn’t it funny, Rob? This was the exact same place where I tripped over and fell off my bicycle and crashed into your door the last time I was here. “
“Looks like that hurts still?”
“Yes. That’s why I got a Vespa,” Ron said with a straight face.
“Not understand. Anyway, what’s up?”
Ron walked into the kitchen and made a cup of tea for himself. “Black’s better.” He explained to Rob why tea without milk is perfect to face a longish day especially when anxiety preempts well-made plans.
“I not understand. Anyway what’s up?” Rob asked again.
“I woke up with a lump in my throat,” began Ron.
“Oh, need medical attention?” Rob asked.
“You really don’t understand, do you? It means I’m bothered by something.”
“What’s problem?”
“I don’t know!” Ron was troubled , again, by Rob’s simple ask. He fell silent and continued to trouble himself. Rob continued to have his tea with skimmed milk.
“I leave you alone.” Rob walked into his bedroom and began searching for his favorite book The Plague by Albert Camus.
“It is here.” Ron came in later with the book in his hand. He didn’t mind showing his moist-eyed face to Rob. “I picked it up from her.”
“I gave her?”
“Yes.” Ron said. “’I know that man is capable of great deeds. But if he isn't capable of great emotion, well, he leaves me cold.’” 
"'For who would dare to assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment's human suffering.'" They exchanged quotes. “Great book, no?” Rob said. Ron agreed.
“But you two talk?” Rob was desperate to know about Ron’s equation with her.
“No. Just yesterday she asked me to hand this over to you. I didn’t talk to her about you.”
“Why?” Rob was mad at Ron. “I miserable. She must know.”
“Rob! When you have no clue why you two aren’t together, she doesn’t have to know.”
“Exactly no. I mean no reason, that is why I sick feeling like this.”
Ron’s phone buzzed. He checked his phone. He stepped out of Rob’s bedroom and came back in after exactly one minute.
“I lost my job,” Ron told Rob.
“Oh my god! You OK? Why?”
“I finally cleared my throat,” smiled Ron.
“I not understand.” Rob was confused.
Ron began. “I’ve had a few altercations with a few colleagues at work. I tried thrusting my beliefs and ethics on to those who didn’t believe they existed.
“And every time I tried hard to make them believe, I was convinced that I was being morally right and that they were in the wrong place, doing those wrong things that will eventually ruin their own lives.” Ron poured himself a glass of water. “I preached. To an extent that I worked less and invested time in teaching this set of unfits a lesson.”
“Sorry, Ron. I not understand. You preached what like?” Rob asked.
“I fell in love with a colleague. I never talked to her. Never went close to her. But there’s a set of people, her friends, who take advantage of friendship and make moves, you know what I mean? And they are my friends, too!”
“I get it. But what we got investing emotion in telling them a lesson? What prompts this? Your feeling for the girl alone or strong belief in ethics?”
“It’s both. I wanted her … wanted to strike something with her … but I didn't want them to create a situation where the inevitable is only embarrassment for them. And what’s wrong with both my feeling and the urge to prove someone wrong when what they practice is actually wrong?”
“Wrong according to you, not them, no? And this situation wrong enough for office people to fire you, not them!” Rob said. Ron fell silent again.
The next day, Ron woke up, troubled, again. He telephoned Rob, “When I met her to take your book, I didn't want to tell her about you because she looked sad, too. I can’t say for what, but she was.”
“Thank you. What you do for the office colleague? Need number of her?” Rob asked Ron.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Miles to go

Off to...

It was a long stretch. I drove and was desperate to see the road come to a halt…a dead halt. I was tired to my last drop of sweat.

This is an endless wait for that place that is supposed to be a paradise for the hopeless! What is this place and why would it be so far away in fantasy, as far as the farthest star?

The light of the day dimmed and I drove further into the falling moonlight. I was unsure of the minutes I had to count before I entered the gates of the magical world. Dry wind dried my hair that was wet with sweat and the agonizing wait.

What if I hadn’t agreed to this? Would the love for me diminish? Is this a test of my strength?

I was hit by the deafening silence of the night. My ear befriended the whoosh of the wind, and nothing around me mattered to the mind that was engrossed in an exchange of thoughts and feared silence as an answer for the lingering questions. I was being driven to the dumbness of the life around me.

What if we drove back into the warmth of the sun? The night could just get colder with no end in sight.

I gave up. My foot maxed the gas pedal and my eyes flung to close. I risked ending the quest, although the start of the pine forest and labyrinthine road kicked my spirit and the journey into new life.

The shadow of this tree could just be the place where rest could mean something. Shall we? Could you talk now? Am I halfway there? At least…?

No. That was the first time she spoke in more time than I could imagine. I eventually resorted to keeping my hope of fulfilling her dream alive. I relaxed my tired feet and asked for some rest. I held myself to hear her speak. She didn’t.

I succumbed to the crack of my muscle.

This isn’t the end.

I woke up to her voice. It was a whimper that fueled my concern.

This isn’t how I would like to see my dream. I could be on this drive, be by your side, and be surprised as we go along. Would you be up for it?

I am up for it. But what is that dream if it is only a never-ending chase? My voice trembled with fear. But that was the closest I could get to conviction.

What is quest if it is not without hope and the confidence of the company that could make it happen? I sensed the promise she could have made to herself. It was implicit in her deceptively pleading voice.

This place is the farthest in fantasy, yes. That is where all hopes see light, and to that, I’d like the company of your belief. This isn’t any test of your strength. This is merely the path to strengthen my belief that dreams can be realized. Even if it means seeing a million cycles of the Sun and the Moon. 
She meant it. And I had to keep myself going, with questions unasked.

Perhaps it is her faith that lets her wait to see what she would want to. Perhaps it is the confidence in me that instilled that unshakeable faith in her. Perhaps I could be part of it and experience what a dream would be in the real world.

I picked myself up. Off to our next mile.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Imagining reality

Chai at A bar

Rob made chai for himself, placed it on the handle of his chair, and sat with his laptop on his lap. He typed away frantically. His sweaty palms slid along the black surface of his brand new Lenovo. He sweat profusely. His typing came to an abrupt halt. He burst into tears. He tried to blind his sight to a few photographs on his screen, which slowly surrendered to his copious tears. He sat upright, breathed heavily, and slapped himself hard. He picked up his phone to call his best friend. “Yaar, you come. I wait at Angel’s street,” he requested. “Angel, my foot!” he banged the phone down on his chair and cracked his Catwoman phone case. His chai cup fell off the handle.

In a show of renewed spirit, he unlocked the doors of his swanky new yellow Volkswagen Beetle. His phone rang again. “Where do you want me to come? Where on Angel’s street?” Ron asked. “I saw place called A bar yesterday. New place, I think. You come. I wait. New place good for topic I will tell,” he replied. 

He reached the place early. When he got down, he noticed that one of the car’s headlamps failed. He kicked to blow the other one too. He smiled. “Same now! All girls same,” he told himself. He walked up to a paan shop and bought a Marlboro. He lit it and fished his phone out of his heavy pocket. Along came chocolate wrappers of ChocOn and The Dark Knight Rises ticket stubs. He put them on fire and checked his watch. It was 0000 hours.

Ron arrived on his yellow Vespa. “Such a beautiful drive, this!” he said while locking it. “OK, so...what’s wrong?” he asked Rob. “Dude! You look totally spent. Are you alright?” Rob hugged Ron and said, “I end it...OK... I tell full happened story.” 

They walked in together into a place that seemed old and deserted. There were four bean bag chairs around a short table and there were just four such tables spread across the huge hall. The walls were painted black. The paintings were hanging loose. There wasn’t anyone at the counter. “Weird. I think I know this place,” Ron told himself. A man in black arrived at the table, “Anything for you misters?” he asked. “Yes...” “No. Wait. You drink means you no listen to what happened. I too drink after,” Rob interrupted Ron and requested the waiter to give them some time. The waiter obliged,”I’ll be inside. Asleep probably. With my earphones listening to Sinatra. I’ll be happy to be disturbed to help you guys.” Ron asked, “Let me have a drink. Never mind. Go on. Your story.” Rob began.

“Like you know, I engaged last month. I happy and confident like that Joker in the movie. Yesterday itself both saw movie. She got lot calls in between movie. I felt disturbed with people looking me not her while she talking in phone. I suspected fishy.”

Ron broke his narration, “OK, let me guess. She was talking to some guy and tried her best not to let you know. So, you checked her Facebook account and realized that she’s having another affair. Is that it?”

“Yes. But not full story. Hear me,” Rob replied.

“Go on.”

“ over and I dropped at her friend place. She requested me like that. She had worrisome face. I got enraged and upset. She did not bye me.” He paused. “I want drink now. I call waiter.”

“Wait.  And?”

Rob walked into the waiter’s room beside the kitchen and woke him up. He was curious to know who Sinatra was. He got one of the earphone buds and listened to ‘Strangers in the night.’ The man in black rubbed his eyes and said, “May I help you?”

“Nice  tune. Stranger night. Can I get one glass Rum?”

“Sorry, mister. We don’t serve alcohol.”

“Why? What? I sad please please,” Rob pleaded the waiter.

“I’m afraid I cannot get you alcohol, mister. I don’t serve it here.”

Rob shed more tears. Ron walked in, looked at the waiter and said, “Vince. Vince? Vince, is that you? Oh, good lord! I knew I knew you. What is this place? Familiar but...have I come here before? What are you doing here? Isn't your restaurant down on Paradise road?”

“Do I know you?” Vince asked.

“Yes, you do. I was  a frequent visitor to your restaurant Ambar. OK...mmm... French toast, my favorite food?” Ron tried to stir up Vince’s memory.

“Yeah. Right! Man...Phew! Am I old already?

“Yeah. I sold that property. Rough weather. Prices in the area have gone up. Couldn't break even. Not a paradise anymore. So, I very recently got this. Fair deal. Got some plans to turn it around, decorate this place and restart all over. I plan to call this Chai at Ambar,” Vince explained.

Rob butt in, ”You know both?” He wiped off his tears and lit another stick. “Vince, never mind. I take Ron for personal work.”

“Sure. Can I get something for both of you?”

“OK. I want grab some buds," Rob asked.

“You know what...Never mind, Vince. Can you get us some chai?” Ron asked Vince.

“Ron, chai at a bar? I want kick off worry with Rum.”

Ron and Vince smiled.

After a heavy round of convincing, Ron got Rob to have a cup of chai and promised him a glass of Whiskey at his place. The three of them had masala chai together. Rob lay quiet and tried to clear the cracks of the case off his phone. Rob and Ron left Vince for some Whiskey at Ron’s.

Rob gulped his whiskey and resumed his tale of sorrow, “I went home and opened laptop. I saw Facebook and sure that she not fair to me.” He had several more rounds and fell asleep. Ron, though worried, was confident that there was nothing fatally wrong between the two. He logged into twitter and checked his timeline:

@F1winner Raikonnen gets pole. Catch the action live tomorrow.
@duderoy Massively drunk. Joker rules! Screw Batman.
@desiladka Winked at a woman today! \m/
@memaya Home finally! Two close friends split up. What's this world come to?! On the flip side, spent an amazing evening with @robme. Thanks, honey!

Ron smiled to himself and made himself a drink. He typed an e-mail to Rob:

Rob, you piece of sh!t. You know they say ‘Sh!t happens’.’ Exactly. You got yourself into a huge misunderstanding. Maya just tweeted that she got home and her close friends broke up. She probably got a few calls from them while you were at the movies. She even tagged your crazy handle mentioning that she spent a great evening with you. You, retard!

When you see this e-mail tomorrow, go out and fix your damn phone and car. I have never e-mailed someone who’s right beside me, sleeping with his ass showing in my bed.

And the place is called ‘Chai at Ambar’ not ‘A bar’ as you said. Those letters just fell off! Probably.

Chai at Ambar!