Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A lot can happen over coffee

I love solitude.  After spending a week socialising with people, I need the weekend by myself to recuperate and rejuvenate myself to face a different set of people the next week.  The cafe near my house offers me the solitude I need.  I spend my Saturday evenings here, order a coffee, and spend a couple of hours reading.  It is the Valentine’s Day week, and maybe it is the pinks and the reds everywhere, I decided to re-read the first book I wished was my life story.  Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  

“One cafe latte, please”, I place my order and find my usual empty corner to sit.  A few minutes later, the waiter comes with the milky goodness of caffeine with a heart made on the froth.  Usually it is a leaf. Valentine’s Day effect, I guess.  Wait, is there something written on the tissue paper? 

There is something scribbled across it. What the fuck. It reads like “Hi! :)”  I called back the waiter and he said, “Madam, the gentleman here gave it to me to send you.” 

“Who?” I asked.

He pointed to the guy in another corner, reading a book by himself.  

Oh, I’ve seen him here often.  Usually by himself too, occasionally accompanied by a guy, but mostly alone.  He looked up and smiled.  

This is the first time I gave him a proper look.  He has a two-day old stubble, is wearing black rimmed hipster glasses, a grey pullover and one of the warmest smiles I’ve ever seen.  He is attractive.

And that makes me awkward and conscious.  What am I supposed to do? Should I call him? Am I supposed to sent another tissue with ‘hi’ written on it? Or should I just send back a smiley? Should I smile back?

Oh, god, no, let me just be invisible.  Look away and pretend I’m not here. 

Please, please please. 

Oh god, he’s getting up. 

No, don’t come up to me. Oh god, he’s coming up to me. 

“May I?” he asks, pointing to the empty chair in front of me. Damn, should’ve put my bag there to show I am accompanied by a bag.

“Sure,” I squeaked. 

“Hi, I’m Arjun,” he said.

“Naina. I’m Naina.” I said meekly. 

“I hope I’m not disturbing you,” he said.

I come here to escape from people. And try as hard as I could to remain invisible and here is someone, a complete stranger, trying to talk with me.  Calm the fuck down, Naina.
“No, not really,” I said.  There is a strange feeling in my stomach. Oh, this is the proverbial butterflies in the stomach.

“Do you come here often?” he asked.

“Yes, I usually spend my Saturday evenings here.” I said.

There is silence between us, as he looks at me smilingly and I try to avoid gaze while fidgeting with my fingers.  Oh man, what do I do with my hands under normal circumstances.  Today I cannot seem to make up my mind whether to put them on the table, or under it, or cross them or just cut them off.

We sat there in almost silence as I fidgeted my fingers to the point I feared they would fall off while slowly sipping my coffee. Heh. Who am I kidding. I almost gulped it down.

“May I have the pleasure of taking you out for dinner tonight? I know of this really nice pizza place.” he asked warmly.  Do I hear an accent?

I’m sure he sensed my awkwardness and is trying to make me feel comfortable.  But I’m like the deer caught in the headlights.

Did a complete stranger, who doesn’t look like a psychotic stalker-cum-killer, has a cute stubble and clean set of teeth just asked me out? Really?

What should I do? What should I do. 

“Um, okay.” I said.

I asked for the check, and the waiter told me it was already taken care of by, well. Arjun.

Okay, flattering.  Almost creepy, but flattering.

Apparently, the pizza place he has heard of is nearby.  We chose to walk.  That means more awkward moments where I struggle to keep up the conversation.  

Arjun is an entrepreneur and has a e-commerce platform.  He recently moved to Ahmedabad and spends most of his evenings in the cafe we just met.  He had been gathering courage to come up to me since past 3 weeks now and was disappointed when I did not come here last weekend. 

What. This is too much for me to digest.  How can anyone find me attractive! I am a fashion disaster, I don’t wear any make up, I am far from being skinny, when women trot around in clothes which look like handkerchief wrapped around them.  

We talked about his experiences in the city, and how he has been liking it, and when I told him I’m a journalist, he could not stop grinning.  Oh god, now even complete strangers don’t think I could be a journalist.

“You are Naina Shankar?” he asked. I did not tell him my last name.

“Yes, that would be me. How do you know?” I asked.

“I read your analysis on the upcoming election and why the populist policies will not work in the long run. Nicely written.” 

Hot guy has read my article. He knows me. Must act calm. 

“Thank you.” I managed to say.

Now would you just stop staring. I don’t eat pizza with fork and knife. I am going to eat it like a normal person, and no one looks good while biting into a pizza. Stop staring.

After an hour long ordeal where we talk more politics and then some more politics, he calls for the check. Should I offer to pay? Should we split? Should I just sit around twiddling my thumbs?

“I’d like to pay for the dinner.” I say.

“Dinner is on me. But you could treat me to the dessert.” he cocked his head and smiled. 

Okay, fair enough. 

Just as we left, it started raining.  Damn these unseasonal rains.  We had to walk back to where I had parked my car and we were drenched. I started sneezing.  Obviously, the dessert is postponed to a future date.  Not happening today.

I sneeze again.

“I live nearby, why don’t you come up and put on some dry clothes and wait for a while till rain stops.  You’ll fall ill.  Plus, its unseasonal rain, won’t last long.” he said.

Considering I just got up from a two month long viral infection, the idea of warm, dry clothes is tempting.

“Okay,” I agreed and we walked over to his apartment. 

He gave me his shirt and trackpants to change into while he made a mint and ginger tea for both of us.  Okay, he’s a nice guy and hard for me to not like him.  He’s fun too.  I don’t remember laughing so hard on political jokes in the longest time.  It’s like, he just gets me.

We sit on the couch looking at the rain while sipping our tea.

“Well, we shall keep the dessert for next time,” I say.

“Of course.”, he said.

The air between us suddenly becomes heavy.  I’m feeling thirsty.  I get up to fetch a glass of water while he suddenly holds my hand and pulls me down.  I look down as he takes my hair off my face and tucks them behind my ears. I feel like electricity has passed through me. My breathing becomes heavy as he brings his mouth nearer to me.  And in that one moment of passion, we kiss.

Monday, February 23, 2015

One life

"You have just one life, live it up" is one of the most abused clich├ęs ever.

It is the classic version of #YOLO because you live only once.

(Actually, it should not really apply to Hindus because we are the patron saints of reincarnation so technically, Hindus shouldn't really give the lame #YOLO excuse for doing stupid things.)

Coming back to the topic at hand before I digress too much, mostly people go #YOLO for doing stupid things like drinking themselves silly and driving or smoking/snorting up stuff which gets you higher than Superman's balls just because you can.

But then not many of us take the #YOLO path when it comes to things that really matter.

How many of you regret not having said or done things you should have?

Yes, we all have regrets of having done/said things, but that makes perfect sense because you actually did it without knowing the outcome (which is not in your hands) and it just didn't turn out the way you expected it to.

But not doing/saying things because of hypothetical adverse outcomes and regretting it for the rest of your life?

Do you really want to be on your death bed, wondering what next avatar are you going to take, a lizard or an ant or a pig, regretting what could have happened if you had told her you love her? Do you really want to live the rest of your life knowing that she/he was the one who got away because you didn't try?

Or you wish you had taken the toxic people out of lives? You'd be surprised to know how many of these are there in your lives. They are the ones who have nothing good to say about/to you, have super narcissistic tendencies and are overall assholes but you have been a pushover all your life because well, it takes time to realise you are being emotionally abused.

All it takes is courage. The courage to say no. The courage to say yes.

It is so liberating.

You really have nothing to lose to take that one step.

If you feel so strongly about something, go for it - the gut feeling, the instinct - act upon it.

Many a (love) stories never happened because of lack of courage. Let your story not be one of them.

After all, you have one life.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Freedom of Speech and Expression is overrated.

No, I'm not against it - yes, we have fought very, very hard for this freedom and I am extremely grateful to be living in this country which allows me unrestricted freedom of doing and saying anything and getting away with it.  

There are few things most people on internet have taken for granted.  The fact that you were able to attend school without getting shot at is a good thing.

That you could be a woman and drive on your own at 3 am, with probably a threat of a stray dog running after you, is also a good thing.

You know what else is a good thing? You can make fun of your prime minister *and* get away with it.  

You, as a common man (heh), have the right to form the government.  You have the right to BE the government.  Democracy is a wonderful thing.  Scary and terrifying at times, but wonderful nonetheless.

There have been self styled crusaders of free speech over the internet, who have taken upon themselves to take up the freedom of speech and expression battle.  

Humour is subjective.  Stupidity, however, is not.  It is universal.  You'd expect these crusaders of free speech to be rational too, but that assumption would be one of the gravest mistake.  You see, these are the people who are the newest breed of activists.  Hashtag Activists.  They are full time outragers.

You try reasoning with them, you'd be named a troll.  Or a Sanghi (which I assume has something to do with the RSS, not the feed-wala RSS, the other one) or a right wing nut.  Because questioning their stupidity and countering their lack of logic makes you a right wing troll. 

So, the crusaders one day decide that they have the right to organise shows which have "offensive" jokes.  Now, mind well, the organisers had put up disclaimers that the jokes will be offensive.  Again, as I said, humour is subjective.  

Now a lot of things go here.

Since it was put up on YouTube, you had a choice to not see it.  You exercised your freedom of choice.

The show organisers exercised their freedom of expression, however offensive.

While it could have ended there, it didn't.

Certain section of the demography chose to take an offence to that.

Why take offence when you saw it out of choice? You had a choice to close any time you wanted.  But you saw it and took an offence, your protests are wrong.

See. That's where I get annoyed.

No, their protests are as much legally allowed as your jokes.

See, the same democracy that gives you freedom of speech also gives him freedom of expression, in this case, protest.  (not justifying violence here) but if an individual, decides to be offended, and files a police complaint - why is it wrong? Just because you put across a disclaimer, does not mean no one could take an offence.

So if someone files an FIR and police/court takes its legal course of action, and points it out to you, it doesn't make them a "right wing nut" - in most cases, it makes them rational, logical human being.

If an obscure "religious" organisation decides it will get you married if you're out on Valentine's Day, you do not blame the government.  Best would be to ignore these fools for their stupidity, but if you can't, because you're a self-styled crusader of freedom of speech and you have taken upon yourself to save the humanity from going "right wing crazy", file and FIR, try having faith in the judiciary.  Yes, it sound funny especially with thousands of legal cases stuck for years, but well, I am not sure how writing a fucking listicle will help?

Or going outside their office asking them to get you married because they threatened they will.  No, not funny, but stupid.  You are encouraging more loonies to come out and threaten.

I am all for freedom of speech and expression.

But I thank my stars every single day that I am born in a country like India, where despite all things that are wrong with this country, I am allowed to write this piece and you are allowed to read this.  

The fundamental right which makes it possible for us to sit in the comfort of our home and laugh at the pinstriped suit of the head of the nation or his speaking Star Wars while standing next to Wolverine - it shows that the country is way tolerant than we give it the credit for.  (obviously, HUGE scope of improvement there, but at least we're not Saudi Barbaria, or under the watchful eyes of the beloved Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, right?)

This freedom, is hard earned.  People have died in the past so you can live today to enjoy this freedom.  But using it wisely may not be a bad idea, right?

I know, it is hard, as a professional outrager, to think rationally, but try, maybe?

You are a journalist - despite all the cynicism the media gathers, pen is still powerful than the sword.  Media has the power to make or break governments.  You are the fourth estate.  Pick your battles wisely.

And to end it, to take words from the show you so religiously defended, every time you call yourself a journalist, ISIS beheads a real one.  Make it stop.

PS: No, if I don't like your jokes, find you unfunny, I am not a Modi bhakt, I just have a sense of humour which does not agree with yours. Deal with it. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

If I'm on deathbed

Yes, if.

 You see, I don't doubt my immortality.

 Also, as a Hindu and a high caste brahmin I have utmost faith in the idea of rebirth and reincarnation. (I also sometimes believe I'm an icchadhaari naagin, but that's only the childhood trauma of having seen ALL icchadhaari naag-naagin movies - dad always feared I'll start believing in them and living in a world full of imagination, far from reality, if I keep watching them. But then, loneliness makes you do strange stuff.. coming back..)

 I have utmost faith I'll probably be alive to see the end of the world. And going by the current state of the world, I don't think the day is too far. 

But then, if I ever die, I need to have a resurrection plan. See, a leader of a certain faith (not taking names because dude people take offence to any and every thing these days) also took like 3 days to resurrect from the dead. So I need a resurrection plan which is awesomer than any of the ones we've had till now.

 So I was YouTubing some videos of medical miracle and we've all seen the brain transplant scene (please pay special attention to Suresh Oberoi before he finds Mithun in the room.. Amarrrrr... amarrrrrrrr... amarrrrrrrrr)

and the heart transplant scene from one of the regional language movies from down south.


Cannot believe how fantastic these movies are. I mean, the dude was running with the heart in his hands. The heart flew out of his hands, and broke glass and fit itself into the empty cavity in patient. No one was worried that the glass shards were still stuck in the heart! (yes, I have my priorities right) Anyway, the point is, these things are over and done with. I was still looking for inspiration.

Till I stumbled on this gem from the movie Clerk.

Please watch it before proceeding because I don't want to give out spoilers.

 **** spoiler alert! here be the spoilers ****

 So if I die, I need you to being me nearer to uninterrupted, censor-free, high speed WiFi connection. I am so excited at the prospect of the internet seeping life back into my lifeless body that I am almost looking forward to dying.

 Some day.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Live Tweeting: Conquering Kaali Naag

So today morning I was just reading up about the Kurukshetra War which is the mythical war in the epic Mahabharat - the original Game of Thrones - on the conflict of succession of dynasty between the Pandavas and the Kaurawas - the cousins. (if such war were to happen between my cousins, pretty sure I'll emerge as the Kalki avatar - maybe this is my true calling.)

Mythical war - interesting. Because these mythical wars and stories have laid foundation of Hinduism - so basically, the entire religion based on myths. OMG.

Not that I was reading it for the first time.. I enjoy reading up on Hindu mythology as and when the whimsical mind of mine demands.  So one thing led to another and I was listening to this bhajan by Narsinh Mehta. (No, I'm not related to him, nor am I related to Harshad Mehta, the bull.)

And then I ended up reading about the Kaali Naag and it made me wonder what if this event was live-tweeted by the characters involved?

Well, look no further, here's how it may have happened.

(Disclaimer: NO offence meant - please do no burn my effigies. I do not intend to hurt your religious sentiments - don't we all say how religion (based on myths) teaches tolerance?)

(Disclaimer2: If you are not sure how Twitter works, you may not really enjoy reading it. In which case, I suggest you watch above video and song along - I love that song.)

@K4LIY4: Checks into 4sq.com/Yamuna *blocks and reports @Garuda for spam*

@K4LIY4: *spews venom* #literally. Ooo. Look at those poisonous gas bubbles in the Yamuna. #lulz

@LordKrishna: Let's go play ball near the solitary tree near this poisonous river because why not.

@KrishBuddy1: Dude, don't climb the tree, okay? Notice the red flags - the river is poisonous, only one lone tree here. Plus, Kaliya is not really your buddy.

@LordKrishna: *smirks*

@KrishBuddy2: No, really. Stay away. Here, catch. *throws ball*

@LordKrishna: Excaaaaaaite at the prospect of climbing the tree I'm forbidden.
                          Heh. Forbidden tree.  We all know the last time someone was forbidden from a tree how that turned out. #AdamFan4Lyf

@KrishBuddy1: Heeeeey, wtf. Don't climb the damned tree.

@LordKrishna: *drops ball in Yamuna*


@KrishBuddy2: Now what? Who's gonna get the ball?

@LordKrishna: Brb, getting ball. *jumps into the river*

@Nagini1: Who in their sane mind would come here, kid?

@Nagini2: If our master wakes up, he'll kill. Pls to go back. #Kthx

@Nagini1: Are you lost? Or have your enemies tricked you coming here? Else you wouldn't be here.

@LordKrishna: Nope. I'm just here for the lulz.

@Nagini1: You're kinda cute, your parents must really hate you to let you come down here. This place is full of poison, you know.

@LordKrishna: Nope. I'm beloved Krishna. Go wake your husband up. Tell him I'm here to say hi. (and also get back my ball)

@Nagini2: Here, take all the monies we got. Go back. Hell hath no fury like the dude we're wives to scorned.

@LordKrishna: Nope. Cannot go back without taking the ball, babbeh.

@Nagini1: *pinches feet* *tucks moustache* wake up, @K4LIY4, look who's here.

@K4LIY4: Wtf. Go away. I'm napping. *spews moaaar venom*

@LordKrishna: Giu back my ball.

@K4LIY4: You asked for it, kid. *wraps self around @LordKrishna*
                    #SelfFive *takes a selfie* #WrapAroundKrish #Yamuna #Home #DontComeHomeEver

@LordKrishna: Dude, cannot tolerate so many hashtags.

                         *gets into hulk mode*

@K4LIY4: *lets go* whaaaat are you?

@LordKrishna: *takes weight of the universe and jumps on @K4LIY4's head*

                          *takes a selfie* #jump #IAmViraat(notKohli) #dancing #love4dancing #instadance #danceoftheday #power #IAmGod

@Nagini1: Omg. Pls stop. You'll kill him.

@LordKrishna: Ah, well. Okay, hey, @K4LIY4 leave Yamuna alone. Go away.

@K4LIY4: Totes, kid.

                   *takes a selfie* #ByeByeHome #KrishnaRules #Buddies #Goodbye #SadFace

And that is how the Kaliya Naag left Yamuna.

Except, willing to bet that despite the poison of Kaliya Naag in the river, the water was much much much better than the present day Yamuna water, which also has tears of previous governments working out of the national capital.

If you enjoyed reading this, you may enjoy reading Kaun Banega Draupadi Ka Pati, Samudra Manthan, Yaksha Prashna, and Twitter Gita.

Again, do not burn my effigies. Or kill me or something.

I am cute. I have dimples and I come from land of Gandhi and Modi. Thanks.