Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Letter

 

Dear Chronic Illness,

I saw you in the morning while on my a.m. walk around the compound. After exactly ten strides, you made an appearance on my hips. They danced from left to right giving Michael Jackson a run for his money. After ten minutes, you told me to stop and sit down.

As much as I like to rule the world, I hate the fact that I am ruled by you! I am like the head of state who is constantly guided by a leader in the background. People term me as a meek person who gives up easily in various circumstances despite the picture seemingly looking fine. Oh well, they don’t know about you, the ‘wind’, sorry, the ‘storm’ beneath my wings.

The other day I had to visit a friend who lives in my old building. I was slightly nervous that you will meet me there and spoil my mood. It was meant to be a fun evening of chit-chat and good food, but you don’t like any of that, do you? As soon as you saw that tiny step at the entrance of the building, you cried for help like you were drowning in Titanic. You knew the drill and had experienced this a million times before. Yet when the moment came, you caved and became nervous. You could have worn a life jacket, asked for help and glided through, but you couldn’t just let go of your constant need for attention, could you? My friend felt guilty that she didn’t extend her hand on time and I felt bad for making her feel that way. All because of you.

It is not like I ignore you – infact you are all I think about. Then why do you behave like an insecure lover constantly calling me, messaging me, tracking my whereabouts and then pouncing on me whenever I seem to be having a little bit of fun? You clearly need distraction.

Even though you pull me back in nearly everything in life, I have befriended you indefinitely. Yes, I don’t have a choice, but I do have a choice to resent you, don’t I? Yet I think God chose me to handle you because He thought I could take it. Of course I don’t relish you, that would be very saint-like and heaven knows, I am not one! I am proud of the person I am despite you constantly by my side, mistreating me. However, in my 38 years, I have learnt to abide by your ever-changing rules and being upbeat in all circumstances.

Like I do every few months, I am planning to take you to yet another rehabilitation. We have not tried this one before and I am sure you will be extremely reluctant to this change. Like every time, you will try to pull me down so that I give up. But like you, I am a fighter. Let’s learn to co-exist in peace – I will not push your limits, you don’t take me to the edge.

Or else? Ah, I can’t do much, can I? I will call you names, struggle, cry a bit and then think of a new program that suits both of us. I am not giving up. Nah. Never.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Dog Walkers of Vista Villas


Mini, Manas, Mark, and Mohammad

All got a dog each to play

They sit inside and cuddle them

While the walkers take the canines out every day.

 

I see them with a leash in their hand

They come in groups of two

Chatting away like on a mission

Discussing everyone barring a few.

 

I want to overhear their conversations

But their language I don’t understand

They cook, clean, and slog in the homes

To earn money in this strange, strange land.

 

Yet when they are out with these dogs

They seem as free as the ocean

Guiding the animals, giving them orders

I envy their laughter, love their motion.

 

I wonder how many stories they know

Of the family they and their friends work for

I’m curious about their lives back home

Of their children, of what their future has in store.

 

I call them the dog walkers of Vista Villas

Who stroll out of their rooms at dusk and dawn

Hiding a story, sharing a secret

Forgetting their troubles while life goes on.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

In the blink of an Eye



Nothing in life is permanent

Things change with a dramatic event

It becomes your before and after

You wish for monotony rather.

But it is not up to you, is it?

Even if you want to quit

These events shape our lives

It’s about who loses, who survives.

 

Your learning all these years is determined by

What you do

When life changes

In the blink of an eye.





Sunday, December 6, 2020

Travelling to India during the pandemic Covid-19

So, the Boy and I managed to travel to India from Bahrain in the dreaded year that is 2020. I was so nervous before the first flight that I forgot to take my house keys (thankfully I had locked the door with my spare key which I gave to a neighbour), missed switching off the air conditioner and packed haphazardly – all very unlike the pain-in-the-ass organised me.

Before getting on the plane to India, we called up a taxi driver who would take us from Delhi to the Boy’s home in Panchkula. A friend in India had advised me to get the transparent shield between the driver's seat and the passenger’s seat at the back. On requesting the service for the same, the driver informed us that there is no Corona in India now and so they have removed the sheet from the cars.

That was our sneak peek into what lay ahead. From a complete lockdown to Diwali card parties, India had transformed in the last few days. As the numbers started going down in October, the masks started slipping too.

Tough ride for tough people!!!

There were four types of people we encountered:

 Covidiots – Corona is a hoax; we don’t have to wear a mask. It is a sham by pharmaceutical companies across the world to make money. (How I wish our world leaders were so cordial with each other to even collaborate on a thing like Covid-19!)

Over-smart – We wear the mask below the nose because we can’t breathe in it. Doesn’t matter if we get corona, mortality rate is low in India. (Ask my friend who lost her mother, another who lost her uncle, an acquaintance who lost her father, the list is endless.)

Afraid of the fine – We wear mask under the chin only to pull it up when we see the police because we eat turmeric and drink magical concoction by Swami Diecorona and can never get Covid. (slow clap for the 'brightest minds' in the world who are making vaccines in the form of Ayurvedic solutions and sweet homeopathic pills, Pfizer and Moderna need coaching! Doesn't mean I am a non-believer, I just feel if it was that simple, we wouldn't have been here in the first place.)

The paranoid/ outcasts/ anti-social/ ‘darpok’ – These people wear their mask, follow all the rules, step out only when necessary and feel extremely uncomfortable when the people around them don’t. I bow down to them and salute their resilience. No kidding.

5- Attention seekers with masks like these

We went home because we were missing family. We did an RT-PCR test before leaving Bahrain and took a rapid antigen test five days after reaching homeland. We have been tested after coming back too and by God’s grace and smart precautions, we have been spared.

When we were in India we did the following to protect ourselves and our families:

   - Wore a disposable surgical mask every time we stepped out (which was mainly for long drives, take-away coffee, airports, and a couple of outdoor restaurants) and threw it the moment we were home.

 - We finished almost three 100 ml bottles of hand sanitizers! I used hand cream to hydrate the palms at night otherwise I was on the verge of developing bruises on my skin.

 - We did natural things that our parents were doing like taking steam, drinking hot water, having turmeric milk at night, etc.

 - We went to eat out but did not step indoors at any restaurant (except two because there was no other option due to some reasons). All places were outdoors with a lot of ventilation. We wore our masks while interacting with the staff. 

- While travelling from one city to another, we wore masks, used hand sanitizers intensively, used face shields, and made use of alcoholic wipes to disinfect spaces.

 - While booking our flight tickets, we paid extra to get the front row so that we are in less contact with people. Indigo is selling ‘double seat’ in flights so that no one sits next to you - we booked those for the three domestic routes we took. They made us feel super safe.

 - We even did a 3-night staycation in Goa at a five-star resort. Although that wasn’t part of the plan and it wasn’t the most important thing to do, we took our chances. We did all the above things and tried to be as safe as possible.

First covid test is always special and poseworthy!

We were not 100% safe, but we tried our best. Maybe we were lucky, or maybe our efforts worked – we shall never know. However, we wanted to do our bit for the tourism industry, and we are so glad we took that step. Now, now, don't roll your eyes!

 I came back with a content heart and a smile on my face. For anyone who is missing family, haven’t seen their parents in over a year, I’d say take the plunge. Be careful, mindful and smart. It was a very hard journey for us which took almost 14 hours from one door to the other. Being in a mask and constantly being cautious of your surroundings makes it torturous. But I would do it again in a second to meet my loved ones, and take that awesome vacation in Goa. You know, just to help the tourism industry!

Practice Social Distancing :)


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Yaadein


I am grateful that I and my loved ones are safe and healthy. I am grateful that these are the only things that I am missing and not the basic necessities in life. Yet I wonder - why this suffering at all? Don't we have enough misery on Earth.

Hoping and praying for this to pass. Please take care..


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Z is for... Zen with my Zen


I started driving a car in the year 2004 and began an adventurous journey. Although I love my life in all its glory and don’t regret a single moment, I have to say my years with a car were the best years of my life.

You see, I started dating the Boy in the same year, and without a car, I don’t know how I would have managed to romance him. His college was in the outskirts of the city separated from my B-school by 25 kilometres. The journey involved driving alongside enormous trucks, and deceiving cows, my parents, and the college guard - not in the same order. I must say, with great finesse, I made the trip several times the result of which is a successful 11-year old marriage. *winks*

This red Zen was initially bought for my sister-in-law, but I, in a not-so-dramatic way, snatched the keys to my freedom from her. The two years that I was in college, we could have made a Saas-bahu saga in my house with me being the crafty nanad. I strategized a lot when it came to taking the car with me, and she, poor thing, just let me be. Also, she was the sole secret-keeper of my story with the Boy and was terrified of being an accomplice to my crime in front of the entire family. I guess her strategy to let me be with the Boy so that I can get married to him sooner worked well too. She now owns every key in the house.

My B-school adventures would have been dull without my red Zen. Apart from driving to college, I drove my friends to their homes, restaurants, theatres, Xerox copy places, several corporate offices, hospitals, etc. Hospitals? One fine evening, the Boy met with a massive accident. Now his 10-year-old bike could compete with any bicycle, yet it could not handle a new road on the highway! Imagine! He was admitted and underwent a surgery, I made several visits with my friends to the hospital, and that is how I met his family and his friends. Ah, that story is for another day.

Speaking of accidents, one fine morning I was driving on an empty road. The tape was playing Mahi ve from Kal ho Na ho, my favourite movie of that year. Like my dad on the wheels, I was dancing to the tunes. Suddenly a car, coming from nowhere, crossed the road without looking in my direction. There was a loud noise – from my brakes, the bang and then my heart.

Thankfully no one was hurt, except my poor red Zen. It seemed someone had punched her stomach and she was holding it in from the front. I parked my car in the corner and called my brother. He came with my father and I was driven to my college in another car. I cried after the first class was over, but that was short lived. My dad called me that afternoon telling me that my red Zen will be fine in two days and I can take it again. I loved his assurance which made me confident too.

That red Zen is no longer with us. It was replaced by another red car which is nowhere close to it. I miss it, and I miss driving. I burnt three clutches while driving the red Zen due to inability of switching my legs. We have automatic cars now, but I fear driving. Although Uber makes everything easier, I will never forget those three years with my red Zen – the best there could ever be.

P.S. If you don't want your children to date, don't give them a car/bike. Also, if you don't want your children to have the best years of their lives, don't give them a car/bike. Catch 22, much?

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Today is the last of A2Z. I am thankful to many bloggers who visited my humble blog and gave me the confidence to write fiction. I am my best critique and so I know where I stand, yet I am grateful for your remarks. And even though this AtoZ is over, I'd be visiting all the blogs that I have been reading. You know who you are since you have my comments...big hug! I will also try and visit the blogs that I could not read due to the stress of writing. 

I am hoping for a long journey with the new ones. See you all on the other side!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Y is for.. Yearbook tale


When I got her friend request on Facebook, I could not recognise her at first. I scrolled her page to see all the pictures and realised she was the same, quiet girl from school.

I still remember the first morning she had walked into our class of 45 students. Her sparkling white shirt over crisp grey skirt partitioned by a brand-new grey and red belt already disassociated her from the rest of us. It was our last year in school, and parents were not keen on spending on new uniform for their 16-year olds. Eager to start a new life, we were not interested either.

‘Where can I keep my bag?’ she inquired upon entering.

‘You can place yourself in the front row, Ma’am will come and find you a spot,’ I replied trying to stop myself from smiling too much.

She kept her belongings on a bench and looked around for the timetable on the softboard, and then started to copy from it for future reference.

My friends and I stood in the last rows and spoke about her in hushed tones. ‘I hope I am not separated from you because of her, you won’t even have much space to sit!’ Payal remarked with her eyes rolling.

‘Shh, now don’t be mean. I can easily fit in with her,’ I said putting my hand on Payal’s mouth. ‘I am worried how the boys will react.’

The boys had occupied the last row at the opposite end and had been chuckling all along. Every student who entered kept his bag on his seat and joined the hullabaloo. Suddenly one of them walked up to the blackboard and changed the number of students from 45 to 48. There was a loud uproar on their side.

Payal and Riddhima could not contain their laughter. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh with my old classmates or feel bad for the newcomer who was, thankfully, unaware of the joke.

The school bell rang, and it was time for our first period. Mrs. Newton entered the class and looked at fresh entrant in the front row.

‘Ah, you must be Yati Shukla,’ she said, lovingly putting her arm around the new girl. She looked around and introduced her to us. And then her eyes stopped at me, the class monitor. ‘Nisha, you will sit with her and help her adjust, is that ok?’

‘Yes Ma’am,’ I answered picking up my already packed bag. The boys looked at me with their mischievous eyes and I pretended to be completely fine with the shift.

Mrs. Newton took the attendance and stood up to scribble the number of students on the board. When she turned, her fingers stopped for a few seconds reading the number 48. We all thought she was conjuring a harsh punishment in her head. There was pin drop silence in class. She calmly took the duster and changed the number to 46. Then she turned around and looked at me and my eyes dropped with shame. At that moment we both knew that Yati won’t be making many friends this year.

And that is why I was surprised to see that only 10 years later, she had 1500 friends on Facebook. Yati now had perfectly sculpted body and oodles of make-up on her face which made her look very different from the chubby girl she was. Many of her photographs included celebrities from Bollywood, and on further stalking, I realised that she was a celebrated Public Relations Manager for countless.

And then there were my other classmates, all 44 of them, on her friend-list, some successful, some stuck in the same era, but none who had bothered to talk to her in that one year of high school.



Monday, April 27, 2020

X is for... X'mas in Prague


There was a life before Covid19. A life in which we were working crazy hours, travelling the world and planning an exciting 2020. I was there too.

But before 2019 ended, the Boy and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Prague. Normally, we plan our vacations one year in advance, but 2019 was different. We went to a Naturecare Institute for 13 days and badly needed a vacation after that. We did not have any leaves left so had to utilize just the four days of public holidays in December. Luckily, we had a valid Schenghen visa.

Can you blame us for loving this city?

So, we scouted for the cheapest ticket, which wasn’t so cheap considering school holidays had already started, and landed in Prague, for the second time in four years.

We based ourselves in a different area, it was freezing cold and every nook and corner was decorated in Christmas spirit. It was a very different Prague that I had seen last time. Only this time, it was more magical!

Different squares were decorated and there were a lot of Christmas markets.
The food and the wine was incredible.

Prague is a city out of a fairytale, Christmas makes it more dreamy.


Anyway, I was keen to take a photo in the same spot as I did on my last visit. That particular picture had won me 500 USD, so it was special. Also, it was my most favourite picture from all my albums.

We took the exact same tram and walked over to Letna Park. Since the daylight hours were much less, we could not reach the spot on time. When we reached the place, I took a hundred pictures but it did not come out exactly the same. Then the Boy searched for the last one and then matched the scenery! We walked a bit more and found the exact same spot!

In four years, I seem to have aged more, and the light is less, other than that, everything looks picture perfect!

Me in  Dec 2019

Award winning, fave picture, me in Oct 2016


The next day, the Boy went to exchange some money in a shop. We had walked a lot so I decided to sit on a bench while he hunted for the best rates. Prague can be pretty tricky when it comes to exchanging Koruna. Anyway, while he was gone I was just looking at my phone when a man came and sat rather close to me. I felt he was staring at me and I did not like the vibe.

I immediately got up and walked close to a mother who was sitting on another bench with her three children. There was no space on the bench and so I just stood there praying that they don’t leave before the Boy comes. I was so scared that I didn’t even try to check if that man was gone or if he was still following me. The family stayed for a bit and then walked away. I immediately found another spot I could go to if the man came back!

I was sitting on one of these benches during the day..
So, these things happen when you are travelling! Unpleasant experiences are a part of the travelling game. Nonetheless, they make you smarter, like I was the moment I saw the man sit next to me!

On another note, do visit a European city in second half of December. The Christmas markets are beautiful, and the weather is not too cold to handle. Prague is my last travel memory before Covid, and certainly one of the best ones. 

Please, please, please visit these cities once during Christmas time.
You won't regret it!


Sunday, April 26, 2020

W is for... Worthwhile


Sid is the first of my four children. And as the world knows, firstborns are a mother’s first love. Sid is mine. He was coming back home after 12 long years with his wife and so many memories came rushing back.

As an older brother, Sid is calm, patient, caring and loving. As an eldest son, he is responsible, brave and has always shown great initiative. So, when he called me that afternoon to discuss his situation with Triya, I knew he was dealing with one of the hardest decisions of his life.

‘Mum, she says she doesn’t want to have children. I don’t know what I want,’ he said sounding extremely concerned.

It was 3 p.m. in India, meaning it was 5.30 a.m. in New York. My son was never a morning person, it had been a long night.

‘I see. Well, do you love her?’ I asked trying to get my thoughts together. In the last one year, all Sid could talk about was Triya, and I already knew how special she was.

‘Of course. You know I was going to propose to her next month in the Bahamas. She somehow gauged my plan and told me upfront. She wants to marry me but says that she will never consider having a kid. She seems determined, Ma.’

Triya reminded me of my sister Seema when she was younger. When Sid was born, she was there with me to help me with every single chore. She cared for him like a mother would, but when she got married, she decided that she would always want to be childfree. She said she found kids extremely needy, she found motherhood like a guilt-trip and that she thought she loved her life the way it was and didn’t want to change a thing.

‘I am worried that even if I decide to let go, I might resent this later,’ Sid continued from the other side. He told me about Triya’s life and her struggles with her mother as a teenager. Her reasons were justifiable, and given my experience with Seema, I had little doubt that Triya will change her mind.

‘You have looked after your siblings as your own children, Sid. I believe you know a little bit about having kids. Now it is up to you – if you love Triya and want to spend the rest of your life with her, then you need to stand by her decision,’ I explained, couldn’t believing the words that were coming out of my mouth. Sid was going to be one of the heirs to a generation old, multi-million, family business. His children were going to be my first grand-children and I was already looking forward to his return and starting a family. This could change everything.

-

Today was their fourth wedding anniversary and Sid said he had a surprise announcement to make. I had my thali and everything ready to welcome Triya in our home. Sid had promised us that he would work in an American bank for a while and then come back to handle the investments part of the business. His father was looking forward to this, and I was looking forward to spending more time with my two kids, and possibly, a grand kid.

‘Mum, dad, Triya and I have decided to open a primary school for underprivileged children. This way we will be involved with many young lives and will be able to make a difference,’ he declared after settling down.

I looked at Triya sitting next to him, with her hand in his and her eyes gleaming with pride. If there was a mirror, my eyes would have looked the same.

You can read more about Triya in :


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This story is a part of AtoZ challenge by Blogchatter. For the 2020 challenge, I'll be writing some travel stories and some stories that originate in my life but find a way into this blog through fiction. Also, I am new at this ;)




Friday, April 24, 2020

V is for… Vande Mataram



I am fortunate to have grown up in the city of Lucknow. While the world sings glory of its Tunde Kebab, Awadhi Biryani, Chikankari and beautiful architecture, I have another beautiful story to tell. And it began right from when I was in kindergarten.

My parents enrolled me in a co-education convent school situated right in the middle of the city. This school was constructed in the premises of a huge church which was frequented by all Christians in the city.

Every year we celebrated Christmas with great fervor. Come December and we had a dedicated class for Christmas carols. I grew up singing Silent Night more than I recited the Gayatri Mantra. We sold stamps and raised funds for some Christian organisation. We also read many stories about Jesus Christ in our Moral Science lessons.

During this time, we were allowed one visit to the main church with the whole class. This day was looked forward to with great excitement since this church had beautiful sculptures which told the story of Jesus Christ. After the prayer session, we even got some prasad by the Bishop.

Since this school was in the centre of the town, we had people from all walks of life. Come Eid and my class smelled of biryani and kababs. We would huddle in a corner and fight for seviyaan and sheermal. Each class had many a Khan, Hasan, Abbas and Mohammad to fulfil its own culinary needs. We never had to look beyond.

Lucknow is also home to many karigars who specialise in zardozi and chikankari. Being from a family that deals in hand-embroidered Indian clothes, we were fortunate to get our own tiffin during Eid which lasted us many days. And well, how can I forget my eidi.. an envelope with money that we got on visiting one of these families on Eid.

Diwali was always special. We made new clothes every year and wore them with great enthusiasm. First, we went to our shop to do the pooja, then my cousin’s shop, followed by their home and then my own. Food, crackers, Diwali lights, cards, pooja, the works made Diwali a much-awaited festival.

How can I not include Gurupurab in this? Being worshipers of Gurunanak, we visited the gurdwara religiously. My father helped serve the langar each year on the auspicious occasion of birth of Gurunanak. We listened to Granthis singing, and then hummed along. Ek Onkar has helped me sail through many a difficult time…

Having grown up in this environment, I find it hard to understand how people in our country have suddenly become intolerant towards each other. Didn’t we all have friends from all religions or was it just my city? I have always loved the fact that our country is so varied in every way – food, culture, people, flora, fauna and architecture. Our culture would not be the way it is if it wasn’t for our diversity. And without our culture, we are just a massive population of 1.3 billion people fighting poverty, hunger, dirt and increasing population.

I hope we can find common grounds and start celebrating with each other rather than finding flaws in every small thing. I wish to see my country exactly how I saw it as a kid. Today, we are either right wing or left wing. The seemingly tolerant ones trying to bring peace are called names, bigots to be precise. Whatsapp groups are filled with hate messages. Friends become foes and cousins become enemies on simplest of discussions. 

It saddens me that we are no more a tolerant nation. Will this bring us a brighter tomorrow? Only time will tell... 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

U is for... Unexpected

‘Honey, the guest list is ready, when do you want me to send out the invites?’ Kiran asked as she put her arms around Dhawan who was sitting on the dining table chair. Dhawan kept his phone down which had her picture as the wallpaper and kissed the front of her palms pulling her in front of himself.

‘Whenever you think it is okay, my love. But first sit down and try this,’ he said taking out a pouch from his pocket.

The solitaire was the size of a football and it fit Kiran’s ring finger perfectly well.  ‘Oh, honey, you remembered?’ Kiran exclaimed getting up and kissing Dhawan on his lips.

It was a long-promised anniversary present from Dhawan. Although Kiran could walk into the jewellery store and buy a whole rack, Dhawan liked to surprise her with small gifts every now and then. It was like a tradition.

‘Your suitcase is packed for your London meeting. You have to come back by Wednesday, okay?’ Kiran said her eyes fixated on the ring.

‘But the party is on Sunday, why do you want me back so early?’

‘I want you back because I miss you when you are not here. And I know you can finish your work by then!’

It had been 25 years to Kiran and Dhawan’s marriage, but they were still the envy of their whole circle like when they were newlyweds. They ate from the same plate, stayed by each other’s side in every party, danced in sync and laughed like best friends.

‘Tamanna is also going to say a speech – something on the lines of how she wants a partner like you and have a marriage like ours. Isn’t it sweet of our daughter?’ Kiran stated gleaming with pride and sauntered towards the kitchen.

‘They don’t make couples like us anymore,’ Dhawan quoted with a chuckle and Kiran laughed in agreement.

As always, she dropped her husband at the airport that afternoon and kissed him goodbye. ‘Come back sooner than you promised, okay?’ she demanded with a pout on her face.

‘Only if you don’t disturb me with a thousand phone calls to discuss our anniversary party!’

‘Ah, now you watch out, I will call you a million times.’

Ram babu, the driver, rolled his eyes from behind the wheels. This couple was too sweet for his appetite, yet he had to listen to all their mush talks when they were in the car. All his friends had some gossip to share, he had none. He was missing out on all the extra cash his fellow-drivers were making from their bosses to keep mum about their respective affairs, while Ram babu just got his monthly salary and nothing else. He had to pay a price for their fidelity.

Maybe your boss has a mistress in London, he goes there every month, Billu had said in hushed tones a few weeks back.

It was possible. Or maybe madam has a boyfriend in the ashram in Pune otherwise she didn’t seem the type who would listen to bhajans for days every few months.

‘Ram babu, take me to the jeweller,’ he heard Kiran say as she closed the door behind him.

‘Ji Madam,’ Ram babu retorted, curiously looking at his madam trying to find clues. He could drive to the jeweller with closed eyes, Kiran went there to buy jewels like he went to the market to buy vegetables.

After she got off the car to walk into the store, Ram babu got a call on his cell phone. ‘Ram babu, I think I have left my second mobile phone in the car. Find it and take it to your home. Err, do you like Black Label whiskey? I will get a bottle for you,’ Dhawan blabbered from the other end.

Ram babu hurried to the back seat and found the phone under the cover where Dhawan was sitting. He kept the phone in his shirt’s pocket and replied, ‘Found the phone sir, you don’t worry about it,’ he said giggling to himself as if he had just won a lottery.

While looking for the phone he noticed his madam had forgotten her purse. He picked it up and rushed to the store. The security guard stopped him asking where he was headed.

‘Kiran madam is inside, I want to give her this purse,’ informed Ram babu showing the purse to the guard.

‘But madam is not here yet. I think she must be having tea first with her friends in the hotel next door.’

Ram babu scouted the restaurant, but there was no sign of Kiran. Disappointed, he decided to wait outside in the car.

Half an hour later, he saw Kiran come out of the hotel. She then walked inside the jewellery store next door.

Five minutes later, Raj sir, whom he knew as Tamana’s friends’ father, hurried towards his car from inside the hotel.

‘They took one hour to fix my ring,’ Kiran said angrily entering the car.

Ram babu just smiled starting the ignition. ‘Madam, look, isn’t that Raj sir’s car. I just saw him walk out from inside the hotel,’ he clarified staring at Kiran through the rear-view mirror.

He had unexpectedly hit a jackpot today.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

S is for... Socially Distant


Let’s not tell some people when this quarantine is over – read her status
It wasn’t as if she was the favourite of all, or incredibly famous
It was a snide remark for all those she hated
The list was enormous, she had herself stated.
Her reasons were not petty – Jay loathed religions
Maya was a racist, Kaushik never listens.
Kavita was not charitable, Benjamin was a pain
Nora was very messy, Kuber had donated his brain.

To each his own was never her way of thinking
She debated with each one of them, never left without judging
Each conversation was fiery, always ended with an abuse
Not once did she change her mind, was rigid in her views
The numbers kept increasing, slowly everyone was in it
She detested one and all, was now socially distant.
First there were people who cared, but not anymore
She had chosen to be isolated with arguments that were uncalled for.

She led her life with great pride for standing up for what she believed in
Didn’t make any friends, was always confined within
Years passed, her mind didn’t change
She was fine, it was the world she found strange.
With books, music and art, she filled her days
She fought her loneliness, but not her rigid ways.
She named her help in the will before she passed away
‘To the idiot who cleans my house’ was all she had to say.



Monday, April 20, 2020

R is for... Riga and Rum and Coke



It is the third phase of AtoZ and I am unable to write. I must post a write-up beginning with R nine hours from now, and it makes me anxious that I haven't even thought about what I am going to pen down. Writing should not be that hard right?

At the same time, this AtoZ has made me happier than I would have been in this lockdown. I wake up wanting to read different blogs, spend my day thinking about what I will write, and sleep after publishing the post of the day. The process reminds me how much I love writing and how I should be spending more time on it than I do.

Anyhow, for the last one hour I’ve been sitting with my laptop in front of me but cannot write a word. It happens to all of us. So, I thought about sharing my experience in Riga from 2018. Remember, I started out with writing Travel stories this month? Ha!

I had never heard of Riga in Latvia. I had not even heard of Latvia in Europe. So when the Baltic cruise offered this port stop, me and the Boy were excited to explore a lesser known destination. However, we were disappointed by what it had to offer. We picked up the map of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and decided to explore the spots by walking.





Within a couple of hours, we had seen a square, a museum, and a palace. We walked along a stream and that was it. So we decided to do what we enjoy most – sit in an open cafĂ©, drink cocktails and watch the world go by.





My favourite go-to drink is rum and coke, or Cuba Libre to the more alcohol-educated community! I had one and then another one, and then I was set.

To the alcohol uneducated, set means happy high. It means the most boring thing starts to look fun. It creates a buzz in your head and then you begin to create a buzz around yourself. I love being set. Anything more than set is something I cannot stand, I will explain the stage beyond set in another post!

So here we were in Riga, a town that had created some decorative bears representing every country in the world, to make each cruise visitor happy. Beyond that, there were no photo opportunities, nothing spectacular about this dead city.




But rum and coke makes everything better. After me and the Boy were a tad runk, we both started our walk again. Only this time, we sang hindi songs at the top of our voices. The fact that at 4 p.m. most of the cruise visitors were already back on the ship and most of the town dwellers were seemingly asleep, helped us be invisible even at a high-pitched volume.

I am a big believer of state of mind. This experience re-enforced my belief that you can be happy and satisfied if you want to be. Riga remains one of my happier destinations and I credit that to rum and coke!





Sunday, April 19, 2020

Q is for... Que Sera Sera



‘2020 is doomed, there is nothing to look forward to’
Our life after Covid? Nobody has a clue
How will it end? There is no respite in sight
The future of this world doesn’t look so bright.

You hear the news, negativity fills your mind
All expert predictions haven’t been so kind
You try to break monotony, fill days with chats
Whatsapp, Houseparty, Zoom… every talk ends with China and bats!

With bouts of anxiety, agony and pain
It is hard to find happiness, remain totally sane
What do you tell yourself when future seems so bleak?
How do you handle this when all you feel is weak?

When all else fails, surrender is your best choice
In your good health and blessings, O Darling rejoice
The future has always been unknown - it is not ours to see
Being anxious will not help - whatever will be, will be.


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Friday, April 17, 2020

P is for… Proposal



I had been going out with Triya for a year now. We were introduced by our parents when they came to see us while we both were working in New York. It was a strategic match – we would laugh. My father was a builder in Delhi and her family owned a well-established cement company in Gurgaon – a match made in ‘concrete’ heaven!

‘Remember how horrified I was when my father asked me to ask you out? It was like I was a preppy again!’ I exclaimed looking into Triya’s eyes peeking through her thick mascaraed eyelashes. She never left home without her pink gloss lipstick and two applications of mascara; she had told me once. It didn’t matter to me though - she was beautiful inside and out.

She just smiled sipping through her third Manhattan. Normally, by this time, Triya would be hopping around singing Sonu Nigam songs making Americans chuckle, but not today. Something was bothering her.

‘Is everything ok? You look preoccupied, hon,’ I asked her a third time.

‘Let’s get out of here,’ she stated standing up from her bar stool, fixing her purse on her shoulders.

‘Uh, ok. If that makes you feel better. I’ll just settle the cheque and see you at the exit.’

As I stood at the billing counter I glanced at my worried girlfriend. I had a bad feeling about this. We had an argument last weekend, but nothing so significant that she would break-up with me for! I was planning to take her to the Bahamas very soon and propose her. She might have other plans.

‘How were your drinks today Mr. Sehgal? You’re leaving early,’ questioned the bartender from behind the counter.

‘Everything was great, we ..uh…we just have a thing.’

I walked towards Triya, her slender body leaning on the exit door. She was staring through the glass door at the tall structure across Times Square, lost in a world of her own.

‘Are you ready to go?’ I patted on her shoulder and curled my arm around her petite waist.

‘Can we go to our favourite spot in Central Park? Or is it too late?’ Triya asked with a very serious look on her face.

‘Of course, we can,’ I answered without hesitation.

We grabbed a cab from outside the bar and within 10 minutes we were on the bench next to the fountain in Central Park. Nothing was said between us, I didn’t even want to ask.

‘The Triya you know is very different from the Triya I grew up with,’ she muttered grabbing my hand.

‘I know darling, I know your struggle with the weight.’

‘It’s not about the struggle. I loved it – more because I emerged victorious from it. This is about how those years changed my outlook in life.’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked, still puzzled about her predicament.

‘You know I love you Sid. But there is something you need to know. Something that I had decided years ago which could alter your feelings towards me.’

‘Hey! Nothing, nothing in this world can change how I feel about you… about us. If this is about you gaining those 40 kgs back, I am up for it. In fact, I’ll look forward to it, that way I will have more of you to love!’

She laughed. For the first time today, I made her laugh. This was rare. We were a happy twosome endlessly sharing jokes and stories from our respective business schools. We had a bunch of friends from the banks we were working for who always envied our companionship. I loved how we both were intellectuals and not nerdy, how we were both from a wealthy background, yet grounded. There was so much in common.

‘You don’t understand Sid. My head is screwed up in many ways.’

‘I…’

‘No listen,’ she interrupted. ‘I am just going to come out with this ok. I know where we are heading, and I want to make this clear before we do. I… I don’t want to have children. Ever.’

 ‘Okay.. uhh..’ I didn’t know how to respond to that. I came from a family of three sons and one daughter. We had a party growing up. How would someone not like kids was beyond me.

‘I saw how my mother struggled trying to bring out the perfect version of me. Every single day she would look for ways to make me thinner. She stopped going to parties because she didn’t want the conversation to turn to her and consequently, my weight struggles. She felt guilty for being too harsh on me and that made me feel guilty for making her go through this. I turned out great – straight A’s, charismatic, and successful. But I don’t want to be that person who wants to fix everything that is wrong in someone’s life. I don’t want to be in a position where I have to make that kind of a decision for someone.’

‘What kind?’ I asked, pretending to understand but failing miserably at it.

‘The kinds that makes you want to control every step of someone’s life,’ she stated, with her voice becoming softer.

‘But you can be the type of mother you want to be. Now that you have a guideline, you can easily skip the part that makes you be a Hitler,’ I said wrapping my arms around her, trying to make her laugh again. We were in our late twenties; I was not even thinking about kids.

‘No. You can’t change my mind about this. And if it’s a deal-breaker for you, we can decide to take separate paths.’

‘Uhh..Triya!’ I really didn’t know what to say. ‘Can we cross the bridge when we get to it?’

Triya looked at me through her blurry eyes and moved from the bench to the floor on one knee. ‘Sid Sehgal, I love you and would love to spend the rest of my life with you. But before you say yes, you must think very, very carefully. Are you ok with having no children, no children at all?’

I stood up and helped her get up. I took her hands and embraced her tight. Behind her was our favourite fountain, our go-to spot when we were happy, sad, anything. This place had seen it all – our past, our present and possibly our future, which, right now, I was very unsure about.

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You can read more about Triya in :

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This story is a part of AtoZ challenge by Blogchatter. For the 2020 challenge, I'll be writing some travel stories and some stories that originate in my life but find a way into this blog through fiction. Also, I am new at this ;)


Thursday, April 16, 2020

O is for... Old and Happy


‘But you promised me when I turned 30 in Goa, that you’ll take me to France when I turn 60,’ I told him in my sweet, mushy voice.

He always, always did as I said. He didn’t have to, but he did. Like last week – I was feeling too wobbly to step out, and he wanted to go to the club to play golf. I didn’t want to stay alone at home, so he changed his plan to go the next day. We stayed in, ordered vegetarian thali from Mrs. Heera’s kitchen and watched reruns of Game of Thrones. It seemed funny in 2042, but in 2019, it was the best show we had.

‘Babydoll, you feel exhausted just going to the club, France is 5 hours by plane, remember?’ he replied with a funny expression on his face.

‘So? We will just sit by the Seine and watch the Eiffel Tower light up multiple times. And this time, the lights will shine on your bald,’ I stated running my hand on his shiny head.

‘Get away from me, you old bitch!’

He hated it when I touched him before he took a bath. It was one of his many quirks. I thought all his little things were annoying yet adorable. He would never, never let me eat from his plate – a decision he had made when we got married 34 years back and ate from the same plate with two cameramen standing on our head. It was midnight and he had not eaten since 3 p.m. First the pandit ji got late for pooja at his place, and then the Baratis won’t stop dancing. He couldn’t stand the shenanigans. ‘We could have gone for a court marriage you know,’ he had said on the stage. ‘I was ready, your mom wouldn’t agree,’ I had replied pinching his butt from above the uncomfortable Sherwani.

‘Acha, what do you suggest pumpkin pie, can we go to Vegas?’ my eyes had widened with just the idea of that moronic destination.

‘Vegas!!! That is 14 hours away. You will not go to the plane’s loo and then curse me the whole time for not stopping you before embarking on a painful journey.’

‘Arre! I’ll carry that portable urination device with me. Don’t you worry about my bladder needs!’

‘We are not going to Vegas. Want to go to Shimla? We haven’t been to Wildflower for a while now.’

‘You mad man! Shimla is just 2 hours away - I’d go there for tea. Not for my once in a lifetime 60th birthday!’

This conversation was going nowhere. I needed to divert his mind, give him good food, and then emotionally blackmail him the next morning.

‘Acha leave it. Want to play a game of Rummy?’ I questioned holding a deck of cards

‘Ok. Whoever wins gets to decide.’

‘Fine.’ I agreed without flinching because I knew that only I will get to decide.

We sat slouched on the sofa with oldies playing in the background. A cool summer breeze was blowing in through the balcony doors. I covered myself with a shawl and dealt thirteen cards. I took out the joker and we started with the game. Ten minutes later, he won.

‘Goa it is babydoll.’ He stated triumphantly.

‘You always do this. We always go where you want to go. What about my desires? It is my birthday. My father always did as I said, you can’t even do this much?’

‘Ok baba. We will go where you want.’

‘And what if I get sick and then feel tired?’

‘I’d push you around in a wheelchair. Or we’d just sit by the Seine every day and watch Eiffel Tower lights sparkle in your eyes.’

‘I love you sweet pea. Let’s go to Goa this year, we will consider France next summer when I am a year younger,’ I said jumping to his side, slathering his wrinkled face with a hundred wet kisses!


And that’s how we never, never found any reason to fight.

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This story is a part of AtoZ challenge by Blogchatter. For the 2020 challenge, I'll be writing some travel stories and some stories that originate in my life but find a way into this blog through fiction. Also, I am new at this ;)


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

N is for... Nani


My Nani passed away in the summer of 2016 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. It is ironical, because the memories I have with her can never be forgotten.

She had 6 children and 13 grandchildren. Apparently, I was her favourite. She had simple favourites – wheat flour halwa loaded with ghee, green chilli pakora cooked in ghee, plain paratha that glistened with extra ghee, and so on. She had amazing metabolism though, even with that amount of clarified butter, she was extremely frail and never gained even a gram of extra weight than she needed to.

She failed to pass those genes to her children and grandchildren though. We turned out to be fat and stout and gained weight even while typing the word ghee, just like I did right now. She did pass on great knowledge through tales – stories of Lord Krishna stealing butter was the one I heard most. I remember those beautiful summer nights under the clear skies in Ajmer. All my mother’s sisters would visit her at the same time from different parts of India. In the evenings, we would lay down mattresses on the terrace, hustling for space between us, and trying to find a spot next to Nani. She spoke of different Gods passionately in hushed tones lest she disturb the unabashed laughter of her daughters collected in one corner sharing their real-life stories.

In the mornings, we would hog on sel phulka, churi, dal pakaan and all other Sindhi delicacies. There were a whole lot of us in a small house, yet I never felt there was any lack of space or any shortage of food. It was a home full of laughter, good stories and a lot of fun.

There was a lot of shortage of water though. I remember holding a bucket and walking a few steps to get water by pushing through a hand-pump close-by. Each one of us had to do our bit to understand that water was precious. We used very little for our baths because we knew we would have to work hard to get the next bucket.

In the evenings, we would climb up the small hill in front of her house – Rajasthan is full of those. There was a temple at the peak. We would race there and ring the bell many times. After running downhill, me and my cousins would wait outside for the Kulfi-wala. At 5 p.m. sharp, he rode into Nani’s lane on a red bicycle with a red ice-cream stand behind him. We all would wait our turn to get the tille wali kulfi. Rich, creamy, and pure deliciousness – the taste still lingers on...

Last I saw Nani was in the winter of 2014. She didn't dye her hair anymore and looked thinner than ever before. She wore the same white cotton nightgown that I had seen her in before. In fact I don't remember her wearing anything but a white nightgown or a white cotton saree in all my meetings with her. 

Her memory had completely vanished by now and she didn’t remember her favourite granddaughter. In the one hour I sat with her, I told her six or seven times that I am Bhagi’s daughter – her loving name for my mum. She would laugh and retort – Oh, you are Bhagi’s daughter – and hold my hand.

She would then repeat a tale from two or three decades back like it had just happened. My uncle, her son, told me how they can’t feed her ghee anymore because she had developed a very weak digestive system.

I held back tears and just sat with her repeating the same things one after the other. Her memory had failed her, but her legacy lives on – in her stories, in her recipes and in our hearts full of fond memories from her lovely home that was the most beautiful part of our childhood.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

M is for... Mama of Four


Triya occupied a little more than one seat wherever we went, yet I was teased for being a mother of four. They never said it to my face, but we heard the hushed mutterings. The world always exaggerates, I would defend, and would ask Triya not to take it to heart.

She didn’t.

But I did.

‘I have a plan for you Triya,’ I declared when she brought home her graduation degree. She was a brilliant kid, I never had to worry about her academics. I had only one concern on my mind which gave me sleepless nights. Ever since she was a teenager, I was never without a proposal. It started with slimming pills suggested by Mrs. Verma, followed by naturopathy devised by Pragya, switched to feeding a fat cow once every fortnight as advised by Jaya, and so on.

‘I am going to convert our farmhouse into a retreat centre for you. You will have a nutrition expert and a gym instructor visit you every day. I have assigned two caretakers who will be at your beck and call 24/7,’ I announced. ‘Me and you father will visit you all the time.’

I am sure her heart would have sunk hearing this. Just a few moments prior to this she was rejoicing the fact that she was awarded a gold medal from the university. She had planned to take all her friends and celebrate this joyous occasion in the hills of Shimla at a five-star property. Suddenly the idea of a ‘retreat’ must be sounding like a gory one.

‘Mama!’ Triya screamed. ‘I’ve promised you I will shed twenty kilos this year. I will study at home, work with dad in the office and be available for whatever you decide to put me through. Why do you want to take this extreme step?’ I saw tiny lines of tears trickle down her eyes.

She must have thought of all the people I had met and spoken to in the last few weeks, she was extremely smart. This required a lot of strategizing against her and only my sister was capable of formulating such a devious plot.

‘This is Shanti Masi’s idea, isn’t it? I should have known you two were onto something. All those visits to the farmhouse were not for a party…were they?’ I heard Triya ramble while I just stood next to the dining table with a solemn face. She scored a 100/100 yet again.

‘You need to sit down first.’

She was furious, yet she grabbed a seat. Triya was always such an obedient kid. When girls her age were having tubs of ice-cream, she was eating from a box full of sprouts. She cheated only once a week, yet she lost only a kilo or so in a whole month. I was disappointed, and Triya could gauge my sadness in my eyes. My prayers had failed me yet again, and another remedy had rendered useless.

‘Triya, I know this is a very difficult thing that I am telling you to do. Next year you will be gone to America to pursue higher studies. There will be no one to cook low calorie meals for you. You will not have time to exercise. You have to reduce by at least 30 kilos, how will you be able to do that? It will be harder than it has been in the last 6 years, and you know how hopeless all your previous efforts have been?’ I explained calmly.

Her tears wouldn’t stop, and she was beginning to cough. ‘So, you are saying I will not be able to go out or meet my friends during this period?’ she asked trying to understand the plan through her pain.
‘You could. But only the ones who support you one hundred percent in your effort, who understand that you are on a regime that cannot be broken at any cost,’ I said, almost sounding like a military officer. ‘Look Triya, I have seen you heartbroken. When all your friends had a boyfriend, and you were a third wheel, you would cry yourself to sleep. I want you to have any man you desire, and for that, you know what you have to do.’


‘Make you a Mama of one,’ said my sensitive girl and walked into her room.

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This story is a part of AtoZ challenge by Blogchatter. For the 2020 challenge, I'll be writing some travel stories and some stories that originate in my life but find a way into this blog through fiction. I am new at this, so please be kind!!!