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Great King Rat

Fiction: The things we do

I'm sleeping on the couch tonight. It's not a comfortable piece of furniture by any stretch of the imagination, sagging like a resigned middle-aged gut, but there's no point investing in anything better till the kids grow up or the cat is toilet-trained, whichever comes first.

Anyway, it's mine for the night and since I won't get a wink of sleep, you might as well know why.

Earlier this evening, I was in the kitchen whipping up my famous vegetable stew when I heard a key scratching in agitation and a resounding thump as the front door banged shut. I didn't need to be channeling Nostra-whatshisname to get the message - loud and clear - she was upset. I hated days like these because it instantly brought a fog of tension to the whole place. I'd quickly recall the endless articles on how to handle such situations to, as the author purringly put it, be a supportive spouse.
Would have said 'husband' but don't always feel like …

Feel Good Inc.

Good things come to those who wait.

Except at Karjat Station, where those marking time are rewarded with an overcrowded and poorly equipped train that is always 20 minutes behind schedule. Consistency is wonderful but consistency in tardiness is an art form.

The boy (DO) who boarded the train after the Vada Pav mob had munched their way to a state of uneasy somnolence was exhausted but happy. He'd been on an all-day hill trek with friends. Now, DO was headed home and not picky about how he got there. While the bogie's walk-through area wasn't the only available space on offer, the thought of being amidst a cacophonous orchestra of wailing babies and hyper-aggressive adults shivered his timbers. The slightly less ghastly alternative was the common area, next to a morose, pickle of a guy in a striped blue shirt who at least seemed knowledgeable on the benefits of deodorants.

However, DO was vary. A strange, new species of human being was taking over the country (and one isn&…

Everyday People

So, this wild-haired guy got into the bogie, maniacally brandishing a polka-dotted umbrella that was more than half his height. His dark blue shirt was dyed black by a rapidly expanding amoeba-shaped sweat stain. The expression on his face was the clincher though; a palette of rage, weariness and desperation. He brushed past and darted towards the corner of the walkway. Something about the guy suggested that he'd spent his entire life perfecting the art of standing in corners.

Anyway, he caught his breath and closed his eyes for a bit. Probably congratulating himself on finding a good spot, away from the path to the loo and right by the door. There are no fans in the walkway space so his relief was understandable, though, funnily enough, short-lived because a couple of dudes did one better and plonked themselves at the door itself, effectively cutting off the air flow. Our man's head dropped but he didn't look the type to start a rumble so nothing untoward happened, more&…

Cramp Ya Style

Aloha, reader. Let me confess something. The next paragraph was supposed to kick off a hair-raising, blood-curdling, heart-wrenching adventure. However, a quick dip into the dictionary was enough to scuttle that ambitious description, which is why it has been downgraded to an average tale of woe. Such is life.

The week was a pretty usual one. Dreary days and slightly longish, weary nights, culminating in the abomination that plagues the godless corporate world no end. I mean of course, the Friday morning, 10 am meeting with the client at their office. Which, for good measure, will be located in a part of the city you would not banish your worst enemy to. Common consensus and sense should tell you I refer to Andheri East. Since the Bombay weather is trying to give Turkish hammams a run for their money, I arrived for the meeting looking (and feeling) like a damp and mildewed towel. By some miracle, the presentation went well and I scurried off, hoping to leave from my own office later…

Devil without a cause

I haven't forgotten you. Blame the world for conditioning us to become apathetic to most any kind of stimuli. We probably sense a million "Once upon a time" sparks every day but we let them die. I do. Which is why the words won't come, stories don't get written and everyone trudges through their feeds without satiating their hunger pangs.

It's been the kind of month that went by in the blink of an eye and yet seems to be made of nothing but endless moments. I made a work trip to Madras... because I speak Tamil. Ever so often, I'd get puzzled looks from the locals because what came out of my mouth sounded like something they understood but they couldn't quite tell why. "Where are you from?" they'd ask. "Pune" I'd say, trying to believe it because those of us in this peculiar situation are often unsure if we belong anywhere. In folklore, Narasimha straddled the doorway, one foot on either side, supremely confident in the nat…

Walk on (some more)

Someone very dear to me passed away in March leaving behind an emptiness I'm still struggling to come to terms with. She was 84 and a part of me tries to use that as a modicum of comfort. Another reminds me of the many tragedies, trials and tribulations she experienced, suggesting I be inspired by her courage and strength of mind. While yet another reminds me that I will never again taste the dishes that formed the bedrock of my childhood and epitomise comfort food.

The arc of my life and memories are dotted and sometimes defined by her. A 1-RK house with speckled tiles, me lying in a lap that is covered by a cotton sari softened by repeated washes, the fragrance of 501 soap permanently embroidered into the fabric. A hand roughened by work, caressing my forehead and teasing my hair into different patterns. The same hand patiently pouring a karandi of vettal koyambu into the center of a pat of cold curd rice in my palm. The feet I would be asked to massage the weariness and pain a…

Don't get lost in heaven

There are things a person can do when presented with a 3-day weekend, one of which is to take an out-of-town trip to some charming spot where the hand of man has never set foot, in an attempt to get away from the daily hubbub of the metropolis. Only, it seems like everyone else and their dogs have the same idea. Ergo, you reach the previously mentioned idyllic paradise only to come face to face with a heaving mass of holidaymakers, many of whom are from your city and, if you are truly jinxed, from the same neighbourhood. It tries the soul, no?

Which is why I find the idea of coming home to Pune a splendid one. Apart from the comforts of home food, regular availability of drinkable tea and coffee and the delight of simply staring out the window, I don't do much. Of course, the pater usually has a list of errands to be run and I'm happy to roll up the sleeves and help out. Every now and then, friends make time and I fire up the old Kinetic and visit them. Basically, it's a …

Weight of Love

Aloha, dear reader. It's time for our monthly installment of "What's happening with G" or, as many of you likely know it, "Is this silly sod still cribbing about the same issues?"

Not much has been happening apart from work. The twinge of disappointment I feel writing that is easily assuaged by a cheery factoid - no one else I know has it much better. Isn't that typical folks? We may not be overjoyed with our current lives but at least we're all sailing in the same boat, even if that vessel does happens to be the Mary Celeste.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I did make a valiant attempt to write something in the fiction line and mailed that off to a few trusties for their views, which led to a rather curious if gratifying discovery. Which is that we have all become pretty coy about being critical or calling a spade a spade. Why, whatever do I mean? Well, take that thingummy I wrote; it had something going for it to be sure but it was nowhere near be…

Flash Light

So then, dear reader. Another year, another post to get the ball rolling. In terms of writing here, I may not surpass 2017's quantity so I'll aim for quality. While there is a strong need to vent (Already? Yes. I know.), it may be in your best interests for me to take a tangential path and put down a few things I've realised over the last 3 weeks. Sure, I could have spun each of the below into a post by itself but that'd be cheating.

On Dating Apps

Since humanity is now firmly entrenched in the internet, itseems only logical that the opportunities to meet people have also migrated online. Being a paranoid Luddite, I resisted the urge to try various dating apps for the longest time. However, there are only so many moments one can enjoy one's own company, so I capitulated and downloaded a few to see what they were all about. And, made a startling (to me) discovery. If you are not on FB, your options are rather limited, since every app I tried (okay, two) requires you…