Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Making of a Dosa

She was new. The place was new. The people were new.
Most importantly, the kitchen was new. So were the pots and pans.
The hostess had left her suddenly, unexpectedly, with a swift swish of the head saying, "Oh, do take care of the dosa."

Dosa? What dosa? Oh, the one getting itself fried, lying face up, round and cosy as you please, on the tawa? A soft brown shade was swiftly spreading to all sides, and she was asked to 'handle' it.
What in the world was she supposed to use to raise the reluctant dosa from the tawa? She looked around frantically.

She had been making dosa since she was ten. In fact, she loved making dosas, deftly twirling the batter first, pouring it into the tawa and spreading it into a nice round shape, paper-thick. That was an art that she mastered by the time she entered double-digit age. Her grandmother had let her do it numerous times and always praised her for its perfect thickness and shape.
But now... this... was different!

By the time she could coax the dosa into raising itself and turned it upside down, a side was burned browner than necessary. Not too badly, but yes, it was burnt.

It's okay, it's okay, she said to herself. It isn't burnt, it is eatable.

The hostess came in then. One look at the brown dosa and she burst out laughing. "Look!" she said, raising the dosa for all to see. "Look at the dosa she made."
Too numb even to feel embarrassed, the victim gave a feeble smile to the admiring audience.

"Oh, very well, no problem," the hostess said reassuringly, "We'll give it to the dog."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

United they stand...

Uncertainties are a totally unbalanced lot.
One would expect them to stand on their own, independently, wait in a queue and get themselves resolved one at a time, like reasonable individuals, but they surprise us by leaning on each other and banking on each others' strength to wear us down.

One whiff of the right decision and all of them are scattered with the wind. Perhaps never to return.
A hint of the wrong choice, and they come crumbling down on top of one another. Making one regret the choice for life.

And if one chooses to procrastinate the decision-making? They add and multiply themselves till a decision - right or wrong - is forced into one's hand.

One tends to face more uncertainties when working solo. However, one thing needs to be said about working alone. If you fail, if you succeed, no one knows. It's your choice to tell them of it (or not!) at the right time!

On a bad day, though we all know it well, we still need someone to remind us that "a Fresh Sunrise follows even the darkest Sunset".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tales... reaches Landmark!

After months of waiting, finally Tales from the Garden City has reached Landmark book stores at the following locations:

Chennai (Apex, Spencer's, CitiCentre)
Bangalore (Forum, Jaynagar)
Mumbai (Andheri)

The book has been listed for purchase online at these places.

Also available at the following bookstores:
Gangarams Book Bureau, M.G. Road, Bangalore.
TBS Publishers, Thiruvananthapuram.
Green Books, Thrissur.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whence comes Inspiration...

Inspiration comes...

From Happiness.
From Misery.
From Anger.
From Despair.

From Love.
From Longing.
From Loneliness.
From Being in a Crowd.

From Disappointment.
From Agony.
From Ecstasy.
From Emptiness.

From Just About Anything.
It just lurks around, hoping to catch your eye.
You just need to keep your eyes, ears and nose open.

And once you spot it, don't let it get out of sight...
Scribble it, draw it, paint it, sing it, hold on to it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A nightmare

When I opened my eyes, I was sweating profusely in the most freezing Bangalore winter night ever. A heaving chest and a pounding heart were too much for my fragile self to handle.
I lay still.

The dream was still vivid. And yet, parts of it were vague and forgotten already.
What stood out was the gigantic snake. Or the octopus. Or whatever it was, with its slimy, long tentacles and hood of a large cobra. Worse, I shuddered to remember, the creature was my friend - or it became, in the course of the dream, in the part I forgot.

When Ray appeared, the creature raised its ugly head. I gave a low warning sound to say, he is family. It settled down. A huge, strong, ugly beast doing my bidding at the slightest command! It evoked a strange mix of emotions.

Ray inadvertently stepped on one of the creature's tentacles that was lying around. It gave a low moan and looked up. I calmed it down with a wave of the hand. It was amazing how well it responded to me.

What in the world was the matter with Ray? He was stepping on its tentacles again, this time on purpose.

"No," I said, alarmed. Why was he doing it?

As I watched in horror, trying at the same time to calm the slowly rising beast, Ray kicked it and beat it with his hands. I could see the conflict in the creature's eyes as it struggled to decide between its better sense to fight the attacker and its innate desire to respect my command.

"No! No!" I could hear myself screaming, frightened, confused, dismayed.

Ray was not paying any heed to me. He, as usual, was trying to show how fearless he is! A display of foolishness that one would expect from a teenager; at his age? But then, I have seen him do it before, countless number of times.

Ray would not stop. He was challenging the beast. I imagine his intention was to tame it, doesn't he realise it is already quite tame? I took a step back, trembling and frightened, as the beast's eyes glowed with suppressed rage, its survival instinct finally prevailing; it shuddered and rose to its full height, its hood open, split tongue sneaking out. Ray stood still below it, realisation slowly dawning in his eyes that he had just awakened a killer from its slumber.

The head recoiled, poised for the kill. Nothing could stop it now.

My whole system quivering in terror, I snapped awake.

Exercise done for my creative writing workshop on a terrifying experience, memory or fear.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The trials and travails of the Leonine

It must have been about fifteen years ago. I was travelling in train and got talking to the girl sitting next to me. Sensing a certain parallelism of thought, I ventured to ask her star sign. As I expected, her proud answer was, "Leo."
I shrank in my seat and did not offer the valuable, un-requested piece of information that "so am I."

A few years later, a friend remarked to me, "I adore Leos." I grimaced and informed her that, contrary to public opinion, there was nothing remarkable in being a Leo. The star-gazers have been kind enough to glorify the shortcomings of which Leos have aplenty - or maybe, just maybe, one of them was a Leo!

Look at the commonly known traits of a Leo, I said to her.

- Leadership, the envy of every other star sign, borders very closely with Bossiness.
- Romance, the admirable Leonine Romance, interleaves alarmingly with Blind Stupidity.
- Pride hovers dangerously over Arrogance.
- Temper, the majestic Roar that makes the World tremble, does not require a particular reason for its Existence.
- Friendship, Ah, Friendship! Though not Universally acknowledged, this is where the Leo could score. A Leo would die for a friend, and even be ready, at times, to take hit after hit, until one final blow destroys the relation forever.
- Disappointment and the Feeling of being let down are things that a Leo knows not how to handle. It would probably be wise to stay away from them when one of these emotions is in action. Unless you are ready to offer a pair of hands to hug and a shoulder to cry on.

I was so ashamed to admit the Leonine traits of my character that, at one point in life, I used to pretend to be a Taurean, whenever it was not really important. To those who needed specific info, I gave a date, one that did hold some importance for a different set of reasons. And so I was taken aback, when one day (in May), a friend turned up with a thoughtful gift thinking it was my birthday, and I admit that my surprised reaction was not very kind. I did make up to him later, but he naturally did not think well of my sense of deception.

I rather suspect that the very concept of star signs had been introduced so that we can all blame our respective constellations for our deficiencies and sit back in peace!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whose is it, anyway...

A pair of big, eager black eyes looked in through the door that was left ajar by the countless, nameless children running in and out.

I recognised the little one, not yet three years old, and went to him. "Yes, baby? Do you want to come in and play?"
He nodded eagerly, though unsure of how I would react.

I opened the door wide and he came in, looking around, his eyes skimming over the scattered toys on the floor. I watched as he walked around the house, evidently searching for something.

"What are you looking for?" I asked gently.
"Oh, the car is broken, baby; if you ride it, you may fall." A child who played with Munnu's old ride-on car had fallen from it, so I had kept it away.

The little one looked blankly up at me, apparently not comprehending.
"Shall we look among the other toys and find something else?" I suggested.

"Mixer?" he asked.
"Oh, yes, the concrete-mixer? Sure, let's find it," said I, and we started rummaging Munnu's toy basket.
The search for the Mixer was futile. I hated to disappoint the little one, again.

I asked, "Can I give you a little toy car?" I knew from his Mom about his craze for cars.
"No," he said and continued his quest. I looked around for something to interest him.

After a while, he came to me and asked, "Small car?"
"Oh, sure," I said, pleased that there was something I could give him.

He was about to leave the house with the little car I gave him, when he turned around suddenly and asked, "Whose house is this?"