Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bharat Packers and Movers

Udayan called me today.

'Oye Sally, long time, you got married, fuck! you have a child now, how's everything going and so on and so forth.'

Then he got to the point.

'So you remember that car i always wanted...'


'Well it used to be an Ambassador. Then they came out with this variation I fell in love with. The Avigo. And then they frikkin stopped manufacturing it...'

'Wait. Why are you telling me all of this?'

'So I've found someone who's selling a second hand Avigo in Pune. And since i can't come down and have a look, i was wondering if you could, you know, go scope it out for me...'

It's been, what, ten years since we've spoken. Funny how we used to be best friends once. We even took a dump together (i mean it was different toilet cubicles but they were next to each other). it was like we were brothers. You know, the ones from different mothers. Fuck, that's so cheesy.

And then, well, guess what, a girl got in the way. Of all the cliches, it had to be the most cliched.

I loved her.

And he knew that.

And suddenly, one morning, they were dating.

I gave him the customary thump on the back. But it was never the same after that. We didn't hang out anymore. We ran into each other at parties. And had those excruciatingly long hollow conversations that last for a minute or so. And then proceeded to pretend we didn't exist. Him, me. And me, him. And that lasted for the next two years or so we had in college.

I met him the year after. Not on purpose.

A common friend was visiting New Delhi. And I happened to be there. And he happened to be there.

He had broken up with her.

Drunk, he said that he had saved me a world of trouble by making sure I hadn't ended up with her.

'You have no way of saying that', I said, 'no way at all.'

In retrospect, I think he meant it as a joke.

That was the last time we talked.

And now he calls me up ten years later.

Asshole, i think to myself, as I get off my car and walk to the door. The man answers.

'Mr. Surjit Singh', I ask.

'Yes', he says. He even looks kind of Surjity.

'Ye Udayan ne call kiya tha aapko. Main gaadi dekhne aaya hoon...'

I check the car out. The ignition and the engine seems fine. The upholstery needs some work. I drop the fucker a text.

The next day, i drive the car to Bharat Packers and Movers.

As I leave it there, I notice cars, all shapes and sizes, being lined up and put inside these larger trucks. And the trucks moving on. Taking them somewhere far away and very different.

Maybe we're the cars. Maybe, the trucks are the  larger circumstances about us. And maybe, to get where we're going, we can't help but pack up and move on. And be taken wherever they take us. He did, when he started dating the girl I loved.

I did, right now.

'It's done', I text him. And I move on.


Saturday, April 5, 2014


Focus shapes you. It makes you keep what you need. And shed what you don't.

Nazeer was focused now. He had let go of everything that he didn't need to achieve his goal. For example, drugs, alcohol, partying, banging sluts, video games. He only did the things that would help achieve the goal. For example, waking up in time, basic hygiene, making sure uniform is spic n span, a disciplined work regimen that not only gets job done but sets EXAMPLE for juniors.

As Head of Airport Security in prestigious Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport, Lucknow, Nazeer was doing fine job. He had been executing duties to great effect for thirteen years now. Not easy, getting to where he got out of humble origins. But he had achieved it. Because of:
1. Strong focus
2. Lots of work
3. Disciplined approach
4. Healthy habits
5. Overall go getter ('Go Get It' attitude (also known as GGI attitude))

That evening, he was diligently manning his post. His eyes trained like a hawk seeking out the malignant. But his heart beating with concern for the benign. With special attention and care towards disabled, pregnant and elderly persons as always. And maintaining the good average of one smile per three persons.

As soon as he notices her approach, he knows what to do. He proceeds through the crowd. Reaches her and says, 'Madam, may I see passport and boarding pass?' She hesitates. And all doubts of her being who he thought her to be vaporise into smoke. It had, after all, been a long time. And time and the mind often conspire to play tricks on the eyes.

With shaking hands, she hands him her documents. He looks through them and points her through before moving to the next traveller.

The next day, he quits. You can find him sitting alone in bars humming popular western numbers to himself. He is also seen chilling at scenic locales in the area. I met him once and asked 'Bro. What about work? What are you doing?' He said, 'It is done. I just want to enjoy now.'

Monday, December 23, 2013

About The Authors

Shariq was a good worker (he managed high rise construction sites), friend (nobody bought you more drinks than him) and husband (Raunak felt a certain warmth when she considered that he was hers). In all likelihood, he would have made a good father as well. But we shall never know.

Five days after the dinner to celebrate Raunak being with child, (‘Nothing short of Zeeshan’s biryani and Tunda’s kebabs will make the cut, my dear’, he had said, ‘so please don’t even think about cooking...’), a wind had swept him off the eighth floor of a construction site.

Raunak got a job teaching children English Literature in a school so her in-laws wouldn’t have to worry too much. She spent her days teaching children to love stories. And nights, loving them herself.

After a few months of telling other people’s stories, she tried telling one herself. And she realized that she enjoyed it. It felt so good. And the class, a bunch of troublesome eight year olds, seemed to enjoy it (the class hadn’t ever been so silent).

That moment on, she took to telling stories with a flourish. She spent her classes telling them, her gossip sessions concocting them and her excuses manufacturing them. So when her six year old, Zulfiqar, finally asked where his father was, she knew exactly what to say.

Your father made tall buildings, she said, ‘and one day, he was working on the eighth floor. This floor, my dear Zulfi, was quite unlike the floor we’re on. This one was still being made. Which is to say it had no floors, no walls and no roof. Only metallic bones that kept it standing. And the wind, you feel it blowing cold on your face now, don’t you Zulfi, gets harder the higher you go. And this is just the first floor. Imagine how hard the wind blows on the eighth floor.’

‘Very hard’, said Zulfiqar, the beginnings of fear simmering in his eyes.

‘Exactly’, said Raunak, ‘so that day, he was at the edge of the building, when a blast of wind hit him…’

‘And what happened then’, asked Zulfiqar, the fear spreading from his eyes to the rest of his face. Just yesterday, he had seen a ‘blast’ of wind blow an earthen pot to smithereens on the floor below.

‘He flew off the building’, said Raunak, her voice flowing like the powerful wind, ‘he saw the ground beneath him, the domes of the Imambara, the marketplace that seemed so small, the people that seemed smaller. He floated, for an instant, over it all…’

‘And then?’ asked Zulfiqar, eyes tearing up, voice quivering, upcoming sentence, a foregone conclusion.

‘And then…’, she said, ‘the wind hoisted him up and swept him away. All the way up, as a matter of fact, to the clouds.’

‘“What’s going on?” he asked.’

‘“Oh”, said the wind, “it gets a little lonely up here. So every once in a while, I pick up a man (not just any man, oh no, but a lovely man) to come stay with me up here.”’

‘Wow’, said Zulfiqar, his heart brimming up with the joy you feel as nightmares turn to dreams.

‘And he had many adventures up there. But those are stories for another day.’

And Raunak kept telling him stories about his father’s adventures up in the clouds. Even after Zulfiqar had grown old and knew that the stories were… well, stories. He never stopped enjoying hearing them. And she never stopped enjoying telling them.

Several years later, Zulfiqar’s wife was taking a cab back home, when a boulder accidentally fell on it, killing her and the driver instantly. He broke into a loud wail as they told him. His six month old daughter joined in, partaking in a grief she didn’t understand.

It wasn’t until several years later, when Zeenat was close to four, that she asked where her mother was. Children, as always, were getting older earlier.

‘She was taking a cab back home’, he said, ‘ and a boulder fell on the cab. She died.’

Zulfiqar told stories like his mother. But quite unlike the stories she told. His were darker. Harsher. Some said more true than they should’ve been..

‘But her life as a ghost, he sighed, ‘that’s a different story…’ 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Meeting a Former Dinosaur

There's a tea stall close to my agency.

We go there whenever we've had enough of the canteen, need smokes or want to eat toast with excessive helpings of butter. Or at least that's the excuse...

Thing is, the tea stall has an extraordinarily good vibe. It's preparation of tea secretes endorphins into the atmosphere. Naturally, a cloud of niceness persists around the place. And we aren't the only ones who feel it. A family of pigs has made its home about its fringes. Warring packs of dogs sign their peace treaties here. And i go there whenever I'm depressed.

Today happened to be one such day. I was piling on to my friend Gresha's empathy, having just gobbled up her toast with way too much butter. Which was when we met him.

He was a bird now. The millennia hadn't been nice to him. The Ice Age had invaded and he had to flee his kingdom. Giving up the top rung on the food chain his genetics had granted him, he had flown down to somewhere quite close to the bottom. He still soared up sometimes, looking down at everyone else, enjoying the mild sense of nostalgia the perspective allowed him. Thankfully, the dogs granted him amnesty about the tea stall.

Walking about, pecking at our leftovers, he enjoyed an incidental camaraderie with us. Gresha and I sat there, momentarily awed by his former majesty.

'How's life?', she asked, in a general fashion.

'I'm not complaining', i said, 'look what it did to him.' 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Endinning – Part One of Two

So there was this boy who didn't dance too well.

And his girl was this hoity toity sort who could, really well even.

And though there was no trouble between them, this little thing grew into a big problem.

She started hating him for his spastic dance moves.

And one day she found this other dancing person with emerald eyes. And decided that she had had enough of her spaz person.

And she tried to keep it hidden because despite her being madly in love with this emerald eyes person, she really cared for this spaz person.

But one night, one cold winter night, she lost it and screamed at this spaz person. And he stood quiet while she screamed at him. 'i'll tell you what to do Matt, take that dance of yours', she said, 'and go around the fucking world or something, go find some other wierdo who likes to dance with you, just get the fuck out of my life.'

And she left.

Matt wondered what he should do.

To be continued...

Endinning – Part Two of Two

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