Friday, May 27, 2016

Live and let live.

Note: The following post is an attempt to write a 100-word short story using the picture as a prompt. Friday Fictioneers is a brainchild of Rochelle. Do visit her for more information.

Photo prompt @ Friday Fictioneers

“Ooh..what are all these mum? There are sho many of them. Ain’t they huge and funny”, the little one was clearly amused on his first trip to the shore.

“Shhh! Let’s go back home. They are trouble!”

“They don't like us mum? Why would they touble us? Didn’t you say that if we don’t touble others, nobody would touble us? Did we touble them mummy? ”. He was persistent.

“Oh, shut up, will ya Clawy? If you get caught, they will make a cake outta you! Turtly told me crab cakes are delicious.. ” momma crab shared her concern matter-of-factly.


PS : Would love to hear some feedback. What would have made this post better? Do share your thoughts.

To read other entries on the same prompt, go here .

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Revival

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

They were out for a walk again. It was late in the night, probably after dinner, but it was safe enough to take a stroll. Anand and Riya were so engrossed in their conversation that they didn't notice their neighbor friend Katya waving at them from her balcony.

"Such love birds they are! Cute couple. I wish my marriage had the charm.." Katya sighed as she gave up trying to catch their attention and went back to her nightly humdrum.

It was a full moon night and there was a gentle breeze, ruffling Riya's long hair like they show in the movies. It was a perfect romantic setting, but neither seemed to care.

Their hands brushed for an instant and she longed for his hold. She hoped fervently for the moment to freeze and wished he would take her hand into his, just like he did eight years ago. But nothing happened. He wasn't affected by the touch. He didn't share the same yearning as she did. But he did share the fear that it might all be coming to an end. Is that all there is to us, was the question both were trying to figure out an answer for, in the stillness of the night.The moon kept a watch over them, as if it was interested in knowing where all this would lead to.

Their relationship had hit a rocky patch. They found themselves arguing for every small thing in the world and neither was ready to mellow down. The list of "I-don't-like-this-about-you' started coming out more in the open and seemed endless, the tolerance levels of each dipping below ground zero. The magic that brought them together seemed to have evaporated just like that. Now both found themselves staring at an uncertain future, a future that might not have the other in it anymore. Each time they had a fight, they came out for a walk in a bid to resolve it. This was their third in this week and it was only Thursday.

It all started when Riya said she wasn't too excited about their anniversary. "We are not where
we should have been, after 6 years of being together. We are drifting apart."

And sadly, Anand didn't seem to disagree this time.

"What do you want to do?", Anand initiated. "Do you think its over between us?", he stammered, clearly unable to digest the fact.

"I guess we should give ourselves some time. We both shouldn't expect us to get better overnight. The damage is way too deep."

"What do you suggest then?"

"I think we are losing patience with each other. I am the same, and you have been the same, but our tolerance has reduced. I read somewhere that "Patience with family is love". So shall we try being more patient with each other?"

"Okay, its a start.."

The good thing about them was they always talked, faced the problem headlong, how much ever distasteful that might be. They realized any relationship needed a lot of work and attention, for it to grow strong. They read books. Found blogs that gave relationship advice and gave space to each other. Basically, they invested in each other.


Eight weeks later, when they were out for a walk again, and their fingers brushed lightly, he took her hands into his. This time, it felt very different, as if they found themselves again. The moon kept a watch and Katya swooned from her balcony yet again.


PS : This post has been selected for W.O.W. !


Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Quest

* This 100-word piece of fiction is written for the photo prompt at Friday Fictioneers.

Photo prompt @ Friday Fictioneers

The silence of the hall and the coldness of the wooden benches seemed to understand her and the only ones that didn’t seem to have an opinion. In its safe confines, she placed a piece of her. And left.

She scanned the sea of faces, frantically looking for those playful little brown eyes. Just like her Abby’s, she recollected.  Pain had slowly erased every memory of him and filled her with hopeless vacuum.  She didn’t even know what she was looking for, until, three days ago, a pair of eyes stirred up memories of her past.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Some amusing little things in the US

This post selected for BlogAdda's TangyTuesday Picks!

This was oh so long due! Being new to a country and its culture is a sure shot way of adding some humor to our lives, if you are able to laugh at it, that is. While some amuse you, some others embarrass you and a few more can leave you in despair. I was a little lucky as I already had friends who knew the ways of the country and I didn't have to learn the hard way. But despite all that, some embarrassments were waiting for me to happen!

~ Ever got stumped by something as simple as a faucet? Ever went looking for water to quench that thirst but came back parched because you did not know how to turn on the tap? Believe me, I have had some of the most embarrassing experiences with it. Faucets - they are everywhere but in different designs. Some are sensor-ed, while some have a push button down under, some pull to the side, some go up while a few go down. And for a person who has seen it for the first time, how in the world am I supposed to know that I have to drink directly from the water fountain, by mouth? I get nervous, whenever I am alone and in a new place. I approach these things cautiously, walking slowly while trying to understand how it works to avoid fumbling around, looking like a fool and coming back thirsty. If I even remotely feel that I haven't cracked the code, I give up meekly and wait until someone comes along and uses it.

Another one that comes close on the heels is the flush system in public toilets. In one of the airports, I spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out where the flush lever was. I tried moving my hand across something that looked like a sensor. Nothing happened. I looked all around for a lever, found nothing. Turned out, it was automatic and broken.

~ I was with a friend, shopping. It was my first time in a mall. As we entered a store, the woman at the door greeted my friend with a very cheerful Hello, as if they were friends and met after a long time. I wondered to myself, "Ooh, Sindhya must be frequenting this store a lot. Maybe that's how this woman knows her.." The next minute, she greeted me the same way, and I was flabbergasted."Wha..Whoa..Ho...Does she know me ?"

"Hi! How are you?!" is bombarded at you from every person you see, whether you know them or not. If you happen to meet them or talk to them again in 30 min, you will again be met with "How are you doing?" Not just Hey!, but another elaborate Hi-How-are-you-doing routine. As if the stars over my head are changing my well-being every few minutes. And don't even try to give an elaborate answer, because its not a question they are looking an answer for. Its just a kind of greeting. It took me a couple of more such episodes to understand that.

While most of them are genuine and make you feel at home instantly, it gets annoying at times when you clearly know the person is not interested in your answer.

~ Nail polish. Every woman, from an 8 year old to 90 year old, sports neatly manicured polished nails. I have never seen a single nail that had the polish scraping off it. I always wonder how their typical day looks like. Perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect nails and perfect body. When do they cook, when do they workout, when do they take their cats out for walk, when do they watch TV, when do they sleep, what do they do in their leisure time? I wish I could get a peek into their lifestyle.

~ Here comes the killer. For here or to go? I felt so uneducated, uncivilized and ignorant, like a poor girl from a far off place when the lady at the counter repeated her question for the fifth time, "For here or to go?". I just stared at her mouth, hoping to read her lips, mumbling a sorry after sorry, bringing my brows together in so much concentration that it could create a fire. It is so ingrained in their minds that it doesn't even strike to them that it doesn't even make a proper English sentence and people may not understand.

~ This one took roots in India itself. At the Subway, I was nonplussed when they asked me "What kind of bread do you want?" Kinds ? Are there kinds of bread? I knew of only one kind, milk bread, all my life. Just when I thought I crossed the first hurdle by choosing a fancy-sounding bread, came a volley of other questions on choices. What kind of cheese? What kind of sauces? What kind of meat? I had such a traumatic experience, I dreaded going to Subway alone again. I even remember keeping Sush on line over phone while I made the order, after having gone through the sequence of steps and choices three times with him. When I read about similar experiences in Quora, I felt so relieved that I was not alone.

~ Wooden homes. Everything here looks like a set straight out of a film set. As if they have been erected just a while ago, like those makeshift homes. They are usually built in a month, in everything wood. Never seen anything like this before where I lived.

~ Using Bathroom tissues. And the fact that there is not a drop of water in the bathroom unlike in India, where there is a bucket full of water all the time and where you wash your feet occasionally. Its all dry land here. Any wiping you do is with paper. Be it your ass or the floor. No, they don't use 8 year-old T shirt or the torn chaddis.

~ The vast parking lot spaces that are the size of a village in India. For a person who is used to cramming their vehicle in that little space between already parked vehicles, or parking illegally right under a No Parking sign, or if nothing works, parking right on the road and saying 'Do minute bhaiyya!', such huge designated parking lot is a wonder. If the Indian government sees this, they would lament at how the space is wasted and how a commercial gated community could have been built.

~ Not a shock, rather a pleasant surprise is how chilled out a hospital and the staff is. Pleasant music in the background, cheerful faces, and great hospitality greets you. People actually enjoy what they do unlike the grumpy and serious atmosphere I was accustomed to.

~ All offices are closed on weekends. I cannot get my SSN done or visit the doctor or get my address changed on the drivers license on a Saturday. This was annoying and needed a little getting used to because back in India, all our pending tasks were completed over the weekend.

~ Every girl, I tell you, every single white girl/woman has a nose as sharp as a knife. I am yet to spot somebody with a round nose.

~  Commercials are so stupid that you wonder who is more stupid, the marketing group or you (the audience). You wouldn't know whether to cringe or shed tears at the sheer lack of imagination. Its as if a bunch of kindergarten kids put out a story while pooping. And its the same nation that has built amazing roads and beautiful cities. I am very very curious to understand the mindset behind creating the advertisements.

~  Drive thru restaurants. I was luckily spared some embarrassment here because I had knowledgeable company all the time, but I always wonder about the experience of first-timers. You are cruising behind a car and suddenly a voice from nowhere booms "Afternoon, how are you!? What would you like to have?" If you are able to figure out that that voice is talking to you and also that the voice is coming from that easy-to-miss-speaker, you just saved yourself from a potential awkward situation.

Did you have to face any such situations? What do you find amusing? Please share your story, would love to know!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

That fateful night

She looked at the job she had just done and was pretty pleased. Neat and quick, she mused. Impressed with herself and armed with mounting confidence, she went about cleaning up whatever little mess she had created.

The house was quiet. There was nobody else in there, except her, or so she thought. The night looked sinister, eerie enough for a crime. A sudden breeze ruffled the curtains, startling her a bit, but she regained her composure just as fast as she had lost it. The stakes were high in her profession and she knew that. She tiptoed her fingers over her bald head to find that dried up scar. It still hurt. She had decided to sport a bald look, to remind herself to not slack. It proved too expensive on her last assignment. Not this time. The ticking clock brought her back to the present and also a sense of urgency in her movements.

Just then the phone rang, the shrill tone cutting through the stillness of the room.

Who in the world would call at this hour? 2 am ? She stood still with bated breath as if any movement from her would attract the attention of the caller. Her eyes hovered frantically over the body on the floor, half expecting it to wake up to the sudden sound. But it lay lifeless and totally dead.

"Hi! You have reached the Abrahams! Please leave a message and we will get back!" the machine chimed.

"Hey honey! Mommy here. If you are still up, I am coming home in fifteen minutes! You better be in bed sonny, or you will be sorry!"

She froze. There is a little guy somewhere in this house?! How could she not have known? They always gave the whole information. She fumbled in her pocket and brought out a dirty piece of paper. In fading letters was written Abram.

Fear gripped her and the ground beneath gave way as she mumbled, 'Who did I just kill?'

PS :  Written for IndiSpire. The prompt was "Just when everything started to look fine, the phone rings.."

PPS : A feeble attempt at fiction. Would be glad to have some feedback, dear people :)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

To Kill A Mocking Bird - Not a review.

It is an American classic. And when this book is within a few miles of radius, with a friend, how can I not read it ?! So I borrowed and jumped into it with a new-found energy.

Thirty pages into the book, I was beginning to wear out. The language was hard, the 1960's English where the words were unfamiliar, the names of the characters unusual ( Atticus, Calpurnia, Scout, really? I never heard names like that before ) and the story not going anywhere. I was still not connecting with the book. The beginnings are always slow, as the author takes time to weave subtleties around her characters to help readers understand who they are and why are they the way they are.

I almost gave up on reading the book, but being stranded in the airport for five hours and being way from home, alone, for 12 hours, journeying to the other corner of the country, gave me a chance to reconnect.

Three more chapters and the book became un-putdownable. I found myself laughing out loud at Scout's humor, that was sometimes satirical, and sometimes innocent. I felt myself feeling warm at the way Atticus raises his children, how the children study him and perceive him, and got exposed to a refreshing view of the ways of the world from a child's perspective. It amused me how children have a very undiluted view of right and wrong and how, as we grow, our thought process gets skewed by various other factors that become more important than being right.

The best take away for me from the book is the line, 'Its not yet time to worry Scout.' It beautifully and subtly reminds us that we begin to worry too early in the game. That its not over until it is over.

Its a very interesting read, if you are able to survive the first few chapters. This book helped an impatient person like me, sail the 5-hour wait. It gotta be good.

Some beautiful lines from the book :

~ You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

~ I wanted you to see what real courage is. It is not when a man has a gun. It is when you know you are licked even before you started, you begin anyway and see it through until the end.

~ Its not time to worry yet.

~ People generally see what they look for. And hear what they listen for.

~ They are certainly entitled to think that, and they are entitled to full respect for their opinions..but before I can live with other folks, I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

~ Atticus, he was real nice.

   Most people are Scout, when you finally see them.

~ When we say all men are created equal, it doesn't mean everybody is equal. Some are smarter, some are born with more opportunities, some make more money, some make better cakes. Some people are born more gifted than beyond the normal scope of most men. But they are equal in one place, one human institution where a pauper is equal to a Rockfeller, the stupid man equal to Einstein and an ignorant man equal to a college president. That place, gentlemen, is the Court.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Conversations - I

Jeevani : "Its hard to bring down my husband now. I am sure he must be half way to Mars already"

Santhosh : "SOMEBODY WROTE A BLOG ABOUT you know how it feels? Call me!"

me : "Let me tag you in the facebook share. We might get a lot of publicity :P"

Santhosh : "After all the publicity, if I get calls from major brands, shall I talk to them Jeevs?"

Jeevani : "Dishwasher brands? Sure!"

Santhosh : "Success starts, can you add this quote in your blog" surprised at himself for dishing out a quotable quote.

Santhosh : "Praveen, Sush, you guys can still talk to me. I am no different before and after the blog post "

me : "Hahaha! I should start another category on my blog, 'Santhosh's jokes'"

Santhosh : "Noo, not right away. Let people digest this, including me. I am reading the post OVER and OVER, still cant believe SOMEBODY WROTE A BLOG ABOUT ME :) :D :P

Jeevani : "Reached Mars?"

Sush : "Don't sink in the sink hole man"

Santhosh : "Sush, did you read it? I am pasting here again for your convenience. SOMEBODY WROTE A BLOG ABOUT ME :) :D :P"

me : "Looks like our publicity stunts not working", disappointed at not getting the expected response on the social media.

Santhosh : "Don't worry. Its the silence before the storm."

This was the conversation in the whatsapp group after I shared the post I wrote about Santhosh on my blog. You can read it HERE

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The guy who is different.

The alarm was blaring at 7 in the morning and a pair of sleepy eyes opened groggily from under the blanket. The kid was still fast asleep. The face was too cute to be woken up right away, so he let him be. He forced his own lazy frame out of the bed, eyes half closed and lumbered straight into the kitchen.

Thirty minutes later, lunch was packed and breakfast prepped up. He was wide awake now and the ticking clock was no less than a ticking time bomb. It was time for the kiddo to wake up. All that monster truck jazz was keeping him up until late night and he made a mental note to come up with another plan to keep him busy while he got the pending office stuff done. After a lot of pestering and coaxing, the little guy was up.

"Vroom Vroom! Blaze is coming to your face now, close your eyes!" "Its just a soap Daddy. Moreover, this one doesn't have any wheels", the kid said as-a-matter-of-factly. "Mmmm..Okay, Wheels on the bus go round and .." He was interrupted. "I am bored of that song Daddy..". Tired of inventing new ways to make the bathing routine interesting, he just gave a smile and proceeded with the scrubbing, answering a hundred questions along the way.

"Can I buy another Daddy in Walmart, Daddy? We can buy everything in this world right?"
"Mummy said No on the phone, Daddy. Do you hear me, she said No. So you are wrong. You cannot change it."
"That's not how you yell, Daddy. You should say  'I am telling on you'. That's what Glory says."

After what seemed like forever, they were ready. Father and son duo grabbed their lunches, wolfed in the cheese sandwiches and set off. One look at the room with the pile of clothes from the washer, and the sink-full of dishes, he wished he could never come back. He looked for an escape, but he knew there was none. Determined, he made a mental checklist - do the dishes, stack those clothes, cook three fresh curries for the rest of the week. Yeah, that should be do-able, he decided half-heartedly.

The new role was proving to be more than he bargained for. The role of a working mother. Each night, he would crash on the bed, exhausted, trying hard to push away the thought that tomorrow is going to be the same. Then he would remind himself why he was doing it in the first place, and he would feel better.

His colleagues asked him why he was becoming so thin.

His friends asked him why he wasn't showing up for volleyball. 'Don't be so lazy!' they smirked.

'If you put Fitbit on his right hand, he would record the most steps. Cleaning toilets and chopping vegetables..his hands would be moving faster than the blades of a fan..Buaahahhaha!', the friends teased him.

'What did you sign up for, man! '. Someone was flabbergasted.

He just smiled and laughed along with them. Humor is the best medicine, they say. It was his strength.

~ ~ ~

When a large section of men around are shying away from household work, feeling insulted at having to share a woman's job or feeling ashamed to admit that they help in the kitchen or clean the bathroom, one man stood out. He supported his wife's decision to move out of the state for work, took up the responsibility of their 4-year-old and sacrificed the very same thing that a woman is always expected to do, his needs and his personal space. He did not succumb to the  'what-others-would-think-of-me-and-my-wife'  disease and is doing what he thinks is necessary for it to work. He stepped up.

I have just one word for you now, Respect.

PS : Coming from a patriarchal country(India), men doing the house-hold chores is a HUGE deal. Men were supposed to be bread-winners and women, homemakers, a long time ago. With changing times, the women are coming out more to become job holders and earners, but she still remained responsible for all the household tasks. Things are definitely changing these days, men of the house are more helping than before, but there is still a long way to go in cultivating the mindset that no work is less and helping the woman is like saying you care.

PPS : Not to disregard a special sect of men, these go all out to help with household chores. They are a totally different set of breed. Glad to have seen such men in my life. They may comprise around 30% of the men population.

Written for YeahWrite.
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