Chapter 6: Dinner was Great !!!

Love cannot be forced and it cannot be coaxed. Futile attempts of finding a mate are often made by putting best friends together hoping that since they get along like a house on fire, there is nothing that could go wrong. So when Ajay was coaxed into asking Maya out, she had given in. Ajay Reddy was that one guy who everyone knows in college. Not particularly spectacular in anything at all, he somehow still rose above the average. The fact that his father was loaded helped, but it wasnt the money. Ajay was a nice guy (I give credit to his mother ) and you knew it from the very first time you meet him. Ajay had met Maya during one of those innumerable events that college always throws up, given the authority to lead a team and had handed over the reigns to Maya completely. But his operational skills were indispensable. When a guy has a car and knows the streets of Bangalore like the back of his hand, he is indispensable.

That how they had met, they had become friends over the event and when college ended, Ajay was the only one left of the huge circle that Maya always had around her. They had grown closer over coffees, talked on the phone for hours together (Maya doing most of the talking) and somehow everyone else had decided that they would be perfect together.

Ladies, just so you know, when a guy is told by his friends that, ” Why arent you going out with this girl who knows you so well and accepts you for who you are ?” , every guy starts thinking of whether its a possibility. When the friends dont stop asking the question, the idea grows and is often accepted. Thats how Ajay thought he was in love with Maya. That is why he asked her out. Maya said yes coz she knew Ajay was a nice guy and would have no hidden surprises.

Dinner was at one of those places in Koramangala that you always pass by but never enter wondering if its too expensive. The host knew Ajay personally and escorted the both of them to a table that seemed to have been set specially for them. Money does have its advantages. Everything seemed to be going fine, except that both were extremely conscious. Ajay was wondering if Maya even realized what a big issue this would become for his parents, Maya was wondering if Ajay would want to kiss good night. They always hugged, but this was a date. It was then that Hari had broken through her thoughts, his face suddenly appeared breaking clouds in her thoughts as if asserting his claim on her. Maya almost choked on her pasta. The evening ended with both parties wondering if anything important or stupid had been said. The drive to her apartment was quiet, both lost in thoughts. When Ajay had rushed around to open her door, reality hit like a brick out of the sky.

This was it, the door was 5 steps away,4,3. As they turned to face each other, Ajay was the first to speak, ” This was a bad idea.”

Relief hit Maya like a freight train and she had to stop herself from shouting in joy. But the smile she had was one of understanding. They had tried it. They both knew it wouldnt work. Then Ajay asked the question, so simply that Maya was speechless for a few seconds, ” Who is he ?”

This was the connection people saw. The fact that each could read the other like an open book. This also was why they could never be lovers. For even true soul mates need secrets.

“Dinner was Great ! Thanks for a wonderful evening.” , said Maya and quickly went into her apartment. Ajay was left staring at the door. But true sport that he is when he smiled and turned around, looking through the key hole Maya knew they would be alright.

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Chapter 5: Here

Chapter 1: Here 

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Chapter 5: No answer why…

Reality has a way of playing games with our dreams. Its nothing new, its been happening for ages now and it keeps going. Tara knew this, yet the hope that someday she would be married to Hari had held so true that she never doubted it. Knowing someone whos been there from the beginning of your memories kind of has that effect on people. We all tend to ignore the idea that people meet to part. Some people come in unnoticed, add meaning, often change you in ways you cant and then fade away. Hari wasnt fading away. Tara never expected him to. “Until Death Do Us Apart” – all those times she had heard it in the movies, she had pictured Hari being the man holding her hands. Not that she would be having a christian wedding, but the sentiment of it remained.

And now fate had thrown a curveball. Hari had somehow, out of half a billion women in the world chosen the one girl Tara hated. Why ? Well, the answer would be life. Sometimes there are no reason as to why we dont like somebody. Maya was actually very likeable. But Tara just didnt. From the first moment they had met, Tara and Maya had always been wary of each other. Okay, okay, I wont beat around the bush. Tara didnt like Maya because she thought they were similar. Not just similar, if they werent born to different mothers they might have been twins. They were both exactly the same height, they both had the same bone structure (the shape that turned heads in traffic) and they both excelled at one thing. That one thing that Tara loved – Basketball. Only problem was Maya was debatable better at it. Call it coaching, more natural ability or plain old luck every time the two had come face to face (and it was a sizeable number) Maya had beaten her. Often by a matter of points but it had happened. And somehow sport had a spillover to real life. The few times they had met off the court, there was a chill that both felt. Both avoided such meetings if possible. Each kept track of the other, knowing where they worked, what there common hangouts were and avoided these places. So yeah just as I said, Tara knew Maya. And when Hari described her, the hair, the eyes, the face – Tara felt that fate had played her a real bad hand. God had a wicked sense of humor and she wasnt finding it funny.

“So.. Do you think I can find her ?”, Hari asked, those brown eyes of his pleading her to say yes, “Do you know her ?”

“Why do you want to see her so bad?”, Tara said, avoiding the question and pleading with her own black eyes, ” Are you sure you even remember her properly? You just saw her once. That too under the influence of alcohol through a cloud of smoke.”

“I…  I cant explain it. I havent felt this way before, ever. Its like one look at her and I wanted to take her into my arms and protect her from everything. Not that she looked like a lost puppy. But you know she just.. she was.. she… Oh how do I explain it to you?”

“Try”. One perfect eyebrow went up into an arc that all her male friends found cute but Hari didnt even notice.

“Well, you know how I am always cribbing about how my websites are still missing something. How they could be better? That your idiot brother was making me mad. Well, she was like that. She seemed almost perfect, like the true idea of a woman, at least my true idea of a woman, except that there was nothing I wanted to change in her. I just wanted that moment to freeze, wished that time would freeze, that was the one memory I want to take to my grave.”

“Stop being so melodramatic. You arent dying yet. The moment is gone, you are alive and she probably doesnt even remember you.”, Tara wanted to run away but this man held her in a spell. Him pining for someone else but her was pure agony but she couldnt leave.

Maya remembered him. His face, his hair, that darned half smile.

Chapter 5 : Here

Chapter 2: Encounters with the Fairer Kind

Drinking too much has its after effects. The eyes betray what chewing gum and a long bath try to hide. Hari however didnt have the long bath or the chewing gum.  He was walking around in auto pilot mode. His lips were speaking, his hands and feet were doing their jobs in perfect synchronicity. In all appearance, he appeared normal.  The only thing missing in the whole picture was his incisive mind and the undertone of sarcasm that was his signature. Vijay was the first one to notice it.

“Who is Vijay ?”, you ask. No ? “Who is Hari ?”. Ah ! Forgive my manners. Lets roll the camera back to the beginning. Harikrishnan Nair, aka, Hari is your typical run of the mill Mallu who roams the vast concrete jungles named Bangalore. Oops, Bengalooru. He is 5′ 11″ (an inch short of the 6 feet that he believed was his birthright), fair (thanks to a bloodline that should be purple for all the royals that adorn the walls in his ancestral home in Kerala) and one of those few gifted designers in India (his websites are among some of the most shared on Facebook under varying adjectives like cool, awesome, etc..His brilliance made him pretty famous among the more talented of the designers around the city. He was also known as a stickler for quality and time. He wouldnt be rushed into anything and he would always deliver on time. Designing was a passion for him, which was fine except that when the client is a nincompoop who has no sense of color or aesthetics, he went ballistic. That is where Vijay comes in. Vijay was the guy who kept the company from going bust. The guy who kept he genius of Hari’s designs under constant control. He had learned enough through DIY books to make the minor changes which made their brilliant creations, more acceptable, more corporate, more boring (according to Hari).

Friends from a tender age, it is rarely that two minds gel so well. They were the perfect partners, Vijay the face for all the terrors Hari could dream up and boy could he dream them up. Both mothers were blamed equally and took all of it with a smile. A smile that knew they were destined for greatness. The growing up years saw them develop distinct personalities. Each a compliment to the other. Where Hari was impetous, Vijay was restrained. Where Hari was a perfectionist, Vijay liked to compromise. Teachers always wondered how long it would last, this friendship that was stuff of legend, not something real life could sustain.

While Hari excelled in Math , Vijay tagged along through the humanities stream in the same college. Brothers from different mothers, they were just too used to each other, that the absence of the other was a thought that never occurred. The move to Bangalore was also together, Hari got that first job as a newbie designer, while Vijay had joined an NGO. The social streak in him made him seem gullible but he had a knack for closing deals that was seldom predictable.

Now 5 Years later, they had quit their 9 to 5 jobs and joined together with seed money from the mothers and had set up shop. Vijays network got them loads of requests, Hari’s wizardry on the computer made them the duo that everyone wanted. They could deliver the perfect blend that you wanted. Add to the medley, random designers and coders that Hari found from everywhere, they finally were growing. Both in numbers and in revenue. This was going to be a good year. Last nights bash had been the celebration of  150 websites signed, sealed and delivered. Monumental yes, memorable yes. But Hari was distracted.

“Whats wrong ?” Vijay confronted Hari, “What scheme are you dreaming up now ?”

“Nothings wrong. All is well. We just hit 150, the team has come together,” said Hari as he closed the door to the apartment,” and… and I think I am in love.”

“Ah ! There it is. Again.” Vijay said. Lets go back into the black and white flash back mode here. Hari as you have seen by now was a man driven by passions. Matters of the heart were a constant ailment for him. He had had numerous encounters with the female kind, each time declaring that this one is different. Vijay had stood by his side through them all. Watched him float on clouds in the beginning, then slowly get see him fall into a spiral of complaints (mostly regarding his freedom, to go wherever he wanted, to drink, to smoke and  to not be dragged around town on trips that seemed to be absolutely pointless) ending finally in a couple of weeks of drunken nights, crying and laughing, shouting and silent, till the storm abated.

He never let his work fall during any of these many encounters and Vijay felt relief. This was another of those poor women who had been attracted to the magnetic energy of a man who was absolutely confident of himself. The guy who seemed lost without a care, the kind that every girl wanted to take into her arms and shelter. It will pass, Vijay thought and let it go.

Vijay had fallen in love once, still was in fact, with a girl who somehow decided to love him back. Tina was HR team lead for one of the companies Vijay had pitched for in his NGO days. He had stuttered through the entire meeting and was completely surprised to receive her call 3 days later.

“When are you going to ask me out ?”, she had asked,” Its not good to keep a girl waiting.”

That statement gave him courage. A courage that he had never felt before. ” When should I pick you up tonight ?” he countered.

“Tonight ? Isnt that a little too ambitious of you ?”

“I think we have both waited long enough for this moment. Lets make it Lunch. Right Now.”

“Nooooo.” She said, wondering how he seemed to know what she wanted and cut the phone. He walked into the office 45 minutes later with a bouquet of roses and a smile that was irresistible. Both off them didnt return to work that day.

I digress. Sorry. Back to Hari. He was going mad , he decided. This girl was different, he knew somehow. He was trying to figure out how to find her in this city of teeming millions. Creating plans and scratching them out almost immediately. There had to be a way. “Wonder if she even noticed me ?”, he thought.

She had. But Maya had a bigger problem right now.

 

Chapter 1 here

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PS: Bring out the Red ink, Usha and Sashu. Dont have any others I can call regulars who will be ready as soon as you two.

Chapter 1 : How it all Began

Their eyes met and the surroundings melted into mist.For the length of a few seconds it felt incredible, incredibly so.Then, as always, life pulled them back into its big bountiful, fold. The music blaring from the speakers, the smoke from a hundred cigarettes, the loud clinking of glasses and mugs, all of it made their presence felt. Noone seemed to have noticed how that fleeting moment had touched two lives, possibly forever.He looked for her after, discreetly searching the crowd for one more glimpse. She tried to stay longer, coaxing her friends for one more drink. It didnt work.

Even when he stumbled out of that neon lit universe of a disco, his mind was filled with that single image of the night. That haunting face, that smile below eyes crying for help, that little fringe she was trying to tuck when they had frozen in time. They say such is destiny, it gives you glimpses of something you have dreamed about without knowing what it was all your life. She, Hari decided, was his.

She had been silent all the way home. She laughed at the cues from others, mimicking the rest of the gang. No one noticed that she was replying in mono syllables. As she combed her hair before bed, she saw his face in the mirror: not the usual hunk women faint over, but there was an intensity to his eyes, a confidence in his face as of one who knew where he was heading in life. She slept fitfully, twisting and turning, held in that gaze that didnt break even after all these hours. He, Maya decided, was trouble.

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PS: The beginning of my work of fiction which has died and resurrected over and over again. Am hoping this time making it public will make me being it to more than a few chapters. To what end ?? I have no clue

In Her Eyes..

 

 

Can you see it in her Eyes ?

Does her face not give it away ?

 Are words really needed on such a day ?

This is heaven, with hell to pay.

 

Hold her in this moment forever

Don’t break the spell, hold her nearer

Let the magic hold you in its sway

Have all of eternity in a day

 

Swing her in your arms to that silent tune

Kiss her tonight under the full new moon

Make it a night she cant forget

Make it a memory that never gathers dust..

Welcome to India

When did being born become a crime ?

When did an education become a privilege ?

Who said love is punishable by death ?

Why does getting married to the person you love seem such a bad idea?

If divorces are allowed by law, why are people so afraid of the idea ?

Crazy and unbelievable as they may seem, this is reality. This is India. Welcome

Here, babies are killed, thrown into the gutter or a waste bin just because they were born female. Here, children, right from the moment they are able to walk start hard manual labour, making everything from match sticks to fire crackers, from washing dishes to watering plants, to feed themselves and their families. Education isnt an option for them. Oh yes, they have reservation, which often helps the already well off to save more money in sending their kids to the best colleges without any merit. Here, lovers are killed in the name of honour, often entire families coming together to massacre two poor souls who didnt nothing more than love each other. Here, marraiges are arranged, often like cricket matches are fixed, based on caste, status and bank balance of the families than on common interests or passions that might give the marraige a chance. Here divorcees are always at fault, blamed for bringing a bad mark to the family name, which somehow was untarnished by anything in ages. Here, women on the lowest strata of society are more likely to raise their voices against oppression than their richer sisters who were brought up to be submissive, bharatiya naris. Here engineering and MBBS are the only career options you have. Humanities and arts are for someone else. This is where our elected official watch porn in the assembly, while their cronies are throwing chairs at each other for legislation that never sees the light of day. The biggest bridges, the tallest towers are all made of second quality material, standing tall more on hope and prayers than any real, measurable quality. This is where such a rant can possibly ban my blog if Kapil Sibal has his way. But its still my country and I love it.

I love it because I am awesome friends with at least 4 women who left their husbands and are happy on their own. I love it because I have friends who chose alternate careers and are fledgling stars  in various fields, I love it because even now in spite of reservation merit shines through and gets what it deserves, I love it because love marriages do happen and both the bride and groom survive, I love it because I have  beautiful nieces by blood and by ties that are stronger who will grow up to see a better India, I love it because my friendly police man takes old photocopies from our hostel for his son to study, I love it because in spite of all of this there are voices that raise concern, there are blogs that still stand strong, there are people who care.

Magic, Madness and Marriage

I have always hated stereotypes from the first ones in school (the foreign return, the english punter, the math guru) to the ones in college (the mallu gang, the football player),from the ones at work (the go to guy, the party animal, the player) to the everyday variety (Malabari, Saala Madrasi, etc etc..) While on hindsight some were pretty accurate (was a football guy all thru school and college in a cricket crazy nation, still can do math in my mind) I hated them coz they limited me. Being born to a passionate communist father helped in creating a belief system that everything can be challenged and the divisions are all crappy. Later realising that the same person also had kind of stopped fighting about it was disheartening. Now, residing in the Middle East, the divisions are stark. The country is divided on the basis of skin color, religion and nationality. The locals obviously are the kings of all creation, with hardly any offenses being punished, the English are accepted as a necessary evil, responsible for creating a fake image of a country that is embracing everything western, the Indians most populous of the expats are considered nothing more than cheap labour and rarely appreciated, the nepalis are completely ignored and the srilankans dont stay long enough to create any issues. The filipinos are used mostly to fill up the malls as sales people and all other arab expats use islam and their neighbourly status to pass off as locals.

The magic of it all is that it seems to be working, everybody seems satisfied in his place. add to that the fact that education is being recognized, talented people get better pay and on the whole language barriers are breaking down – Arabs speak Hindi, Nepalis talk English and the English speaking are learning a smattering of Arabic words. Me, I am waiting in the wings, looking for my next opportunity to pack my bags and move to Bangalore.

The madness of it all is the way people react to it. They dont. They silently sit by earning their two pence, sending it home, building an empty house back in India for no one in particular, educating their children, getting them married and then retiring to a country they left 40 years ago to live out their days with more empty houses for neighbors. I cant think of such a life, such a waste. All the promises of a life ended behind a desk in a foreign country, earning and saving more than Indian standards with no opportunity to spend it, making friends with people who you wouldnt give a second thought about in India because you have no choice and then complaining together about how India is going down the drain.

The marriages are the funniest here, everyone looks at a potential bride / groom based on their employable skills, anything more than that is a bonus. The women who work here as nurses are luckier than most, becoming rich overnight and being courted by hundreds of prospects just because it means a bigger package to send back to India. Which works fine for me, coz i just told my parents i am never marrying a nurse 😀  Leaves me with even more of a single life than is acceptable back in India, much lesser pressure from parents and family, and a lot more free time than is healthy.

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