Category Archives: Fiction

Of Anna Hazare and Chai Latte

“He broke his fast!” screamed Viju as I pulled over on his apartment driveway.

“What?” I asked him through the window. I did not hear him over my Mazda’s ambient hum.

“He broke his fast today. They passed the bill! Death to babus!” he shouted as he sat in the passenger seat.

“Settle down Dorothy. They only accepted his three conditions. The bill is still a long way from being passed. But yes, it’s a start,” I said as I did not want ruin his moment. Viju was the naïve optimist in our trio. I was supposed to be the practical one.

“Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. Atleast now there will be a law to get those fuckers. I mean the poor guy was starving for twelve days. The government had to do something, right?”

“Fasting. He was fasting for twelve days. So where to?” I asked as we pulled out to join Duck Street.

“Starbucks. I need a Frappe. So check this out. I was talking to my cousin in UFL and he said that all the Indian students in Gainesville did a morcha kinda thing against corruption to support him. Why did we not think of something like that?”­

“Well might be because I was too busy with my research and you were away on your all American roadtrip. How was Florida by the way?”

“It was good. Anyway, this cousin told me that the campus police showed up ‘coz they thought they had a student riot on their hands. They even got tasers. Tasers! Man that is wild! Where are you going?” he asked as I turned on Main Street. “We have to pick up Todd.”

Todd was the third. His real name was Haripriya but his American name was Todd. Todd was a stupid name. I did not get it. I mean, if it was up to you to pick an English name why not pick a cool name like Irving, Arnold or even Lucifer. “Hi, I am Lucifer and I’ll be your TA for Visual Basic Programming.”

“Oh. He’s coming? I heard he was wasted last night.”

“Yeah, he called me up. Anyway, I was talking to this other cousin in D.C and he said that Best Buy has a firesale going on. I feel like I wanna buy something. I don’t know what. I have some balance left on my Chase card. Did you know that fifteen lakh people showed up on Ramlila Maidan for the celebration?” Viju’s attention span is less than that of a hummingbird.

“Don’t you think fifteen lakh is a bit too much?”

“I don’t know. My roommate told me that. But I think it’s true. There’s a revolution going on man. Don’t doubt it. Anyway, my cousin in San Jose told me that NVIDIA is hiring. Why am telling this to you? You are a Chemy. Todd will be interested. I’ll tell him to wait for us downstairs.” He called up Todd.

“Yeah he’ll be down in two. So this cousin in D.C said he got a sweet deal on an Android tablet.”

We pulled over in Todd’s driveway. He was waiting for us, clearly hung over. Eyes swollen and hair astray he climbed in and announced “I need a coffee. Like, right now.”

“He broke his fast man! And Best Buy is having a firesale!” screamed Viju.

“Settle down Dorothy. My head hurts. And enough of Lokpal already,” informed Todd.

“Why?” asked Viju.

 “It was a failure from the start. You can never do away with corruption in India. And which cousin told you about Best Buy?” said Todd. Todd was the all hating ever complaining cynic of the lot.

“’ssup Toddji.” I greeted him.

“Man nothing can happen with India. The corruption is just too deep in the system. There is no political will for change. Look at the US. Look at the way they are handling the health reforms right now. There is a system in place here. The politicians are accountable for stuff.”

“How can you say that? India is changing man. The sheer support we saw last week tells us that. And political will? They accepted the bill, didn’t they? I think great things are gonna happen in India in the next five years,” retorted Viju clearly upset.

We had reached Perkins. I parked the car and we started making our way to the coffee shop. Those two were at it and I found it best to keep quiet. To be honest I always kept quiet.

“Well, your opinion does not matter. No one’s opinion matters in India. This Lokpal is gonna introduce even more bureaucracy in the system. The common man will matter even less after it.”

“What bureaucracy? The bill is gonna hold the politicians accountable. Did you not watch the Karan Thapar video I shared on facebook?” asked Viju. He was big on sharing videos on facebook.

 “Do you guys know what the Lokpal draft actually demands?” I asked them. I had a feeling neither of them did.

“Shut up man!” both of them said. Clearly they were more interested in arguing about it.

“Yeah I saw the video. And it does not help your argument. But that’s not the point. Say a construction project is underway in a village. And a local politician is demanding money from the contractor. The contractor lodges a complaint under the lokpal bill. This case appears in a local court. The local court defers it to a higher one. This case could take years to reach a verdict.”

“But that’s a convenient example. There will be amendments,” argued Viju.

We were in the line for ordering and these two were almost at crescendo.

“Forget the amendments man,” Todd dismissed Viju.

“Now you are just being cynical. Oh yes, before I forget. My cousin in San Jose said that NVIDIA is hiring in California. Interested? ”

Suddenly Todd’s frowns seemed to wash away. He actually looked excited.

“Brilliant! What’s the position?”

“I think it’s Hardware Engineer. And more importantly they are ready to sponsor. I applied last night,” informed Viju.

“Alright. I’ll get my resume ready and…”

“What can I get you Sir?” asked the blonde at the counter.

“Hey. I’d like a Frappuccino, a Mocha latte and a Chai Latte,” Todd ordered pointing towards me.

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Filed under Choice, Fiction, Lifestyle, Opinion, Patriotic, Uncategorized

Bed and Breakfast

He wakes up and sits up on his bed. It’s morning. He tries to shake off his dream. It’s the same one every night. He dreams of a different life. He dreams of a life with lesser questions and more answers. He dreams of going through an entire day without making decisions. Then he wonders, ‘Will today be that day?’

He smiles and dismisses the thought while he passionately scratches his ass. He smiles again. Happy Birthday he tells himself. Twenty five, huh? Funny how time passes. It seemed only yesterday that he was twenty four. He smiles again. ‘Too early in the morning for jokes’, he tells himself. Save it for later. He reminds himself that he needs to shave. The Professors expects him to be clean shaven. He goes through the things waiting for him. Nope. Nothing much to look forward to. A few assignments. A few errands. And laundry- he is almost out of clean underwear.

He gets up and makes his way to the bathroom. Stumbling. He grabs his tooth brush, puts the tooth paste on it and puts it in his mouth. He looks up in the mirror. He sees me. He wishes me happy birthday and regards my swollen eyes with genuine disinterest. ‘You look like I feel,’ he tells me. I nod. He continues brushing, still making a list of things to do. ‘Do you know what I’m doing here?’ he asks me. I tell him I don’t. He spits. Puts the brush back in and continues brushing. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here. I know I’m supposed to know but I really have no clue.’ He spits again. He rinses his mouth and makes a face at me. He finally smiles again. ‘I think I’ll have the banana cereal for breakfast,’ he tells me. ‘Have a good day. I’ll see you tomorrow then?’ I nod. I always do.

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Filed under Absurd, Choice, Fiction, Lifestyle, stupid

Elegy of a Dreamer

They say a fool is born when another ceases to be

I wonder who departed when I started to see.

This puzzling thought, might seem out of place

But then again, I blabber, with my own shameless grace.

This rhyming sucks coz I am no elegist

Its meaning I barely know or at least the gist.

But I guess it’s justified when a quietly desperate man

Wants to dream about HER, as much as he can.

You see this dreaming takes most of my time

On the roadside, in a rickshaw or even under a stop sign

I find a pretty face and let the reverie take me

To a far off place right next to Tristan and his eternal biwi (Isolde!)

I picture a Kodak moment with every pretty face

Coz it’s the only thing I can do other than tie my shoe lace

Behind every photo I write a fantastic story

But it’s all in my head with no reward and glory.

The story always changes but the plot remains the same

As if all too many photos are displayed in a single frame

My brain tells me the logic, my aortic pump the emotion

But my eyes see the chance I have, with every infatuation.

I dream of the jokes I’ve told too many times

The way she would laugh hearing the stale punch line

I dream of the conversations that would never seem to ensue

The way I would be besotted, regardless of my milieu.

A fool’s hope they say is a fool’s hope after all

But this hope of getting it right makes my skin crawl

This possible humbug may be humbug after all

But my emotions you see, are all over the wall

And yet when I notice another attractive visage

My programmed brain tells me the tactic, the game and her age

On my way to Tristan’s, I chuckle and realize

The girl changes but the fantasy remains the same

The girl changes the fantasy remains the same.

XX

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Filed under Absurd, Fiction, Poem, stupid

The Last Chapter

The soil is moist. It is sticky. It was crimson a couple of hours ago but now it is black. I see a cockroach making its way through the splinters; trying to avoid patches of the viscous non-flowing fluid to find its rightful edible corpuscle. With a nonchalant poise it moves around in the mess. Stupid thing. Its feeble antennae cannot smell death, but they never miss that elusive scent of a morsel. Ahh! There it is. Nice catch my friend. The overturned jar of frosties just might make your day. Yes, that’s right. Pick it up nice and easy. There you go.

BANG!

The insect is dead before it knows that my 0.41 Remington slug did its business. It lies there with the other cockroaches that I just murdered. I never miss.

I lift my weary body out of the chair that I had pulled up. My neck hurts. My body hurts. Firing countless rounds a day has taken its toll. Lifting lifeless bodies is no walk in a park either. I ran out of painkillers a long time ago. I don’t need them anymore. Pain is all I have left. It keeps me company when I am stalking my quarries. It has grown on me I must say. A few days more and I’ll be done. I start walking to the next town.

[Intro of  something I’m working on.]

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Filed under Absurd, Fiction

Nandu’s blue underwear

Nandu went to office today, wearing only a blue underwear

But it wasn’t one of those that leave the cheeks bare

Although the tiny garment came down to his knees

Everyone in the elevator asked him to cover himself please

You see, Nandu had reasons, to do what he did

Reason’s you won’t get unless you are a kid

Arguments and opinions that piled up through time

Today was the day he chose, and did just fine

His boss, his wife, his neighbour and even his paperboy

Took advantage of him and always played coy

Scheming plots to deceive him and treat him like a mite

The simpleton was harried and today chose to fight

Unconventional are the ways of those who defy convention

The yokel’s brain toiled to design a dark invention

He lay in bed last night, thinking what to do

With his wife tucked next to him he came up with a thing or two

His last plan was perfect, as he could not foresee a problem

They would get what they deserved, when he found what to give them

The sheer genius of it was that it had no flaw

He would savour their defeat after all the shock and awe

Today morning he left while his wife was taking his case

Once out of the house, he smiled, ready to amaze

People on the streets were only innocent victims

A sacrifice necessary he thought to rid them of their delusions

All his colleagues wore a scandalized grimace

And he knew that he had put them right in their place.

For he was a genius to pull off such a stunt

Today he felt like a giant and his boss a runt.

XX

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Filed under Absurd, Fiction, Poem

The Bored and the Beautiful

The wind blew her smooth hair astray

Quickly she sorted it with a mood grey

Glancing gently at her slim mirror

‘If only,’ she wished, ‘ I could be a little slimmer!’.

For she was beautiful, but she was bored

With an arrogance even bigger than a giant toad

As the passers-by leered and whistled

A country bumpkin asked her, “What’s the time?”.

Mortified, she replied in a manner crude

Just like a noble priest at a brothel would

Flicking her hair with one hand she said

“Don’t talk to me you farmer-Ted!”.

Undeterred by the lady’s harsh demeanor

He smiled stupidly and scratched his ear

Bold as he was, he lamely said

“Can’t you just show me your watch instead!”.

Becoming crimson with pique and irritation

She turned her watch in his direction

Perusing the timepiece he looked up and chimed

“I’m sorry I can’t read, please tell me what’s the time”

XX

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Filed under Fiction, Poem, stupid

A Bullet from my Valentine

It’s not easy to get a girlfriend in Bangalore. It’s even harder to keep one.

She used to work in my office. To put it in a better way-we worked together. She was a developer and I a coder. She was funny, sexy, cool, and confident and I was not. She was on her way up and me-lets just say I wasn’t.

When she agreed to go out with me, everybody showed genuine disbelief. Myself included. I just stood there with a loss of words and came up with something silly like, ‘Cool!’. She had giggled. They always do. But then I made what I call a super awesome comeback and made her giggle a little more and fixed up a date. And that was that.

‘She’s using you man!’, Wilfred had told me when I had broken the news to him. He sat next to me in the office. He loved football and loved Amisha Patel even more. He had an opinion about everybody and everything. He was a gossip queen. And also he lied a lot. “No she’s not. And even if she is, I don’t care”, I had replied with all the annoyance I could summon in two seconds.

But seriously I didn’t care. I really didn’t. Her ex was a finance guy who worked on the seventh floor and had an MBA degree from a shady institute whose name sounded like Sunny or Happy or something cornier. He liberally used double entendre right from the cafeteria to the boardroom. But the guy apparently had a way with numbers and the guys on the tenth floor were happy about it. ‘Mr. Bottomline’ as he was affectionately called by the female staff, had relentless pursued her and she had relented. But they had broken up in six months. Apparently someone from HR too, had relented-much later than her. I knew this because Wilfred knew this. And Wilfred knew everything.

Our first date was like most first dates-uncomfortable, tense and at times embarrassing. For me it was all three. But she didn’t mind. She gave me a two out of five and asked me to promise her that the next one would be better. And I did. And it was. A Shahrukh Khan movie, a stroll in the mall and a dinner in a Punjabi restaurant. Safe. I was in and she was too.

She liked Sidney Sheldon, SRK, Priyanka Chopra and Backsteet Boys. She thought Metallica was a girl. ‘Is she like Madonna?’ she had enquired. Her favourite movie was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. She liked Forum better than Garuda Mall-‘Its just better’, she had observed. She used words like ‘anyways’ and ‘precisely’ all the time. She always wore a watch on the right hand. She said that she liked me a lot. I believed her.

‘She’s still using you man. She’s gonna go back to whatshisname’, Wilfred had repeated after I had told him that I was planning an expensive date on Valentines Day. He also informed me that Mr. Bottomline had saved the company like a zillion dollars and avoided a major lay-off. The guys on the tenth floor were planning to move him to the eighth. It was that or an extended stay in Europe. That bastard. She really hated him. She always let me know how much she hated him. It was kinda amusing. I used to come up with really funny jokes about him. Funnily, she didn’t find them funny.

‘No she’s not. She told me she was over him on our last date. And besides, why would she care if he’s headed off to Europe. He’s stupid. She told me that. Mr. Bottomline- I wonder why they call him that’

Today morning I woke up with a smile on my face. It was the first time that had happened. I actually had a date on Yash Chopra’s favourite day. I had it all figured out. Right to the minutest detail. I was gonna buy 23 roses- one for each time she had gone out with the formerly worlds-most-eligible-loser. Then I was gonna take her to an expensive restaurant in Indiranagar. It was gonna be perfect.

I had managed to get real Swiss chocolates from a guy I knew in finance. She loved Swiss chocolates. She had told me that. I had bought a new shirt for the date. I did buy 23 roses. Man they were expensive! I even bought a huge bouquet just in case.

She lived in Kormangala. I was supposed to pick her up. It was tricky to make my way through the traffic not messing up the bouquet. Many people offered expletives in Kannada. I returned the favour in Marathi. Couples were already getting comfortable. Not too comfortable though. Some outfits were calling on them in the Lord’s name.

I made it in time to her place. She lived in an apartment complex. Romeos with half of southern India’s flowers were already there picking up there respective Juliets. Understandably there was a rush at the elevator. I resisted the urge to take the stairs. A sweaty and panting version of me wouldn’t exactly be a welcome sight. So I stayed in the queue for the elevator with a dozen other thoughtful individuals. I fought with a guy who had a smaller bouquet than mine. I won.

The elevator was small and stuffy. All the guys were reeking with the Axes and Zataks and Bruts. I felt like throwing up. I made a funny expression at the guy next to me who responded by finding something interesting in the elevator safety manual. Slowly I made it to her floor.

As I got out of the elevator I made my way through the hallway, trying to figure out where to go. For a moment I forgot her surname. Then I remembered. I headed to her apartment. Apartment B-23-C.

She was already at the door. She looked stunning. She was wearing a Punjabi dress for the first time since we had started going out. I had not expected that. Her hair was not tied up. That was a first too. She was wearing pretty earrings. My girlfriend looked beautiful.

She had another bouquet at her feet. It was way bigger than mine. She had a smile on her face that I had never seen before. With her head resting gently on his chest and her hand resting firmly on his bottom, Mr. Bottomline was giving himself the high five and punching the air.

Mr. Bottomline – I get the name now.

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Filed under Fiction