Thursday, November 27

Ramu Kaka

This is a story i wrote a few years back ..unearthed it when i was cleaning my mailbox amazes me how writing styles change over time .. when i read it today , i thought that there was a naiveness about the way the story is constructed .. there is of course a predictable ending .. if i had written the story now, i would have opted for a different ending..nyways, read on ..


Vinod stuffed himself with a sandwich his maid had prepared. He was late for his tuitions, again.

Vinod’s parents were successful advocates and came home late in the night. They normally were tired after a long day‘s work and didn’t have time to spend with him.
Vinod missed them a lot, but had to make do with the weekends they spent with him. His parents made up for their absence by showering him with exorbitant gifts.

“ Didi ,bye. I am going to the tuition”. Waved Vinod ,to the maid .

The bazaar, with its bustling crowd and noisy vendors always fascinated Vinod .At the corner of the bazaar street , he noticed a new chat vendor selling pani puris. Vinod’s mouth watered at the thought of yummy pani puris. He longingly looked at the food cart and hurried on, as he didn’t want to get scolded for coming late for his tuitons,again.

Every day , for almost a fortnight, on his way to his tuitons, Vinod noticed the chat vendor with his pani puris and his mouth automatically watered.One day, on his way to the tuitons ,Vinod thought he heard the someone call out to him .He brushed it off thinking that maybe he was imagining things. People always said that about him. That he was imagining things.

“ Beta, Over here.” It was the Chat vendor, an old man with flowing white beard and a smile on his face.

“ Hello. Did you call me?” Said Vinod.

“Would you like some pani puris. I had a feeling you might like them. I’ve been seeing you for a while now”. Said the Vendor.

“Oh no thanks, kaka. My mother will get mad if she knew I was eating pani puris and I don’t have money.” Mumbled Vinod , excited and disappointed at the same time.

“ Beta, I don’t want money. And couple of puris won’t do you any harm. “Said the vendor.

“ Thanks kaka. I’ll just have a couple of them.So, are you new to this city?. ” enquired Vinod .

“ I am from a village in Bihar. My grandson and I came here as we had lost all our property. I came here hoping to make a living”. Said the vendor, his eyes suddenly clouding.

Vinod felt sad at the plight of the vendor. He promised himself he would get some money from his mother to give it to the vendor.Everyday , Vinod started stopping to talk to the vendor and eat pani puris. He called him kaka.Kaka never asked Vinod for any money and a unique friendship developed between the two. Vinod told Kaka about his school, his parents and how he got lonely as there was nobody to play with him.

Kaka on the other hand, spoke only about his grandson, Munna. Munna this , Munna that. Today Munna did this and so forth. Vinod felt all the more lonely listening to kaka talk about his grandson. He wished that he had a grandfather too.How lucky Munna was , he thought with a pang.

“Don’t feel lonely. Your parents are working so hard for you. Come home sometime and play with my Munna. I just stay down the road. Just ask for Ramu kaka’s house and anybody will show you where I live.” Offered kaka.

This went on for a while and nobody at Vinod’s home knew about his special friendship. Soon , it was summer and vacation time. Normally, Vinod looked forward to spending the vacation with his cousins in Mumbai. This time he was reluctant to leave as he knew he would miss his daily trysts with kaka.

“Kaka, I am going to Mumbai for the holidays. I will be back in a month. Take care and don’t forget me , ok.” Said Vinod feeling miserable.

“ How will I forget you , beta. I made a special pani puri just for you today. Kaka’s special. Take care of yourself and see you soon. “Said kaka.

One month passed in no time and Vinod got back from Mumbai . His aunt had taken him to Chowpati for pani puris but it was nothing compared to Kaka’s pani puris. He was looking forward to meeting kaka and telling him that his pani puris were the best .
The next day on the way to his tuitions, he stopped at the place where Kaka had his stall, but there was no sign of kaka.

“ Where is kaka?. He asked the flower vendor who used to sit next to kaka.

“ Baba, Kaka is not well. He doesn’t come here these days” Said the vendor.

“ Where can I find his house?”asked Vinod, gravely.

“ Go down the road , fifth house painted in pink.” said the vendor.

The fifth house was dilapidated, dirty and crowded.

“ Where can I find the chat vendor ?.” Vinod asked a man.

“ Last room on this row” the man said.

When Vinod opened the door, he saw kaka lying on the bed , looking ashen.

“Kaka, it’s Vinod. How are you ?” Said Vinod.

Kaka couldn’t talk. When he coughed , there was blood. Vinod felt like crying.

“Kaka , why are you alone? Where is munna? Did you see a doctor?” Asked Vinod.

“ Beta. No need for a doctor. I know I am dying. My family died in Bihar in a
riot.I always wanted a grandson. So I made up all the stories about Munna.” Said kaka, gasping for breath.

“ I am getting you a doctor and who said that you don’t have a grandson. I am here .Will you be my grandfather?.said Vinod.

When Kaka opened his mouth, he couldn’t say a word.

“ Then, let’s get you to a doctor fast , dadaji. Has anyone told you that you make the best pani puris in this entire world?.” Said Vinod.

Tears of joy streamed down the vendor’s eyes. My grandson, thought the vendor.

So have your writing styles changed over the years ?

Thursday, November 20

The bookworm's newsletter- Part one

I have been catching up on quite a bit of reading in the last few weeks.. Some unexpectedly enjoyable ones and some that threatened to crack my cranium (and hence promptly abandoned)..

My top 4 for the month ..

No 4: Shopoholic in Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

I lmmensely liked cofessions of a shopaholic and that’s why decided to read the next one in the series as well. It was a riot … breezy and funny.Just like what a chick-lit should be. This book chronicles the adventures of Becky in the shopper’s paradise of NYC.. How she gets embroiled in more shopping and wreaks havoc on her already skyrocketing debt levels is what the story is mostly about … It’s a totally fun read and I suspect a lot of girls might relate to the stuff.. I did!!

No 3 : The white tiger by Aravind Adiga

Unexpectedly, I didn’t like it too much. A lot has been said and written about the book, but to me honestly, it was a let down. The book is fast , racy and un-putdownable, but somehow , didn’t work for me. Adiga tells the story of a social entrepreuner writing a letter to the Chinese premier about how he climbed out of darkness (poverty)to the world of light. Corrupt landlords and politicians, prostitutes with blonde wigs, Adiga’s take (ok the protagonist!!) all the dirt in India.. You’ll find it all in the book…

No2: Tis’ by Frank Mc Court

This is an adorable sequel(part one is Angela’s Ashes) to the memoir of Frank, an Irish Immigrant who makes America his home. Frank is 19 and lands in America , not knowing what to do with himself. The desire to do well is all he has with him. He takes up odd jobs, serves in the army and finally ends up becoming a teacher after getting a degree. Amazingly witty and totally irreverant style kept me in splits. Frank’s adventures as a teacher with a brogue accent is endearing . Truly enjoyable .

No1 : Angela’s Ashes

My “favouritest” book for the month!!. Angela’s ashes is a coming of age story of Frank, an Irish lad , so poor that he is permanently malnourished.His father drinks away all the money , but promptly keeps furthering his progeny putting the family through assorted misfortunes. What I liked about this book is that Frank has Zilch remorse about being poor. Incredibly witty and funny. Frank has a unique style of writing and doesn’t use quotes for any of the dialogues.Incidentally, the book won Pulitzer Prize in 1997. Fun read.

Now, the unfortunate ones that didn’t make it.. ;-) Actually these got abandoned

The Golden Notebook by Dorris Lessing.
Got abandoned as the book just meandered on and on about socalism and about a writer who had 4 differently coloured books for compartmentalising her life... I found the book incredibly depressing and 100 pages into the book got tired of all the intellectual –socialist-babble .
Now , I know Is that I’ll never be a socialist. Ever.
The author won the Noble prize for Literature in 2007. Maybe, I can’t stand “Intellectual” and “intelligent” books. Honestly, the pace was very slow and hence had to chuck it out ;-).

Istanbul – By some guy whose name I don’t remember.
I picked it up as it had a lot of pictures and had never read a memoir of a city before.I decided to abandon it as it was incredibly boring… The author talks about his family ,their weird mannerisms and Istanbul in general. I really don’t know what the book is actually about, as i never got beyond the 30th page .. If someone does read it , do let me know..

And I have picked up these weird book-worm-habits. I have to update my book shelf on Shelfari the minute I finish reading a book. I have also started reading 2 books at a time. I swap between books , if the going gets boring.. Talk about quirks !!

Next on the agenda are A thousand Splendid suns and Veil of roses. Incidentally, I loved Kite runner( i know i digress quite a bit.My ex-bosses have always told me that.)

Someday, I will own all the books there are in the whole-wide-wurld!!! Silver-fishes, dog-eared pages, musty smell of old books, glossy magazines..Aha !!.. How orgasmic can it get ?;-)

Would love to hear your pick for the month .. do drop in a line.

Tuesday, November 11

The Devil wears a Nightie

This devil wears no Prada, is at least a ton overweight, swears like a gangster and indulges in cold , freezing stares… this devil is my neighbor – the “lady” who lives above my flat. I met “This Devil” (henceforth referred to as TD) 8 months back when I moved into the new neighborhood.

TD, being the helpful, warm neighbor that she is came down in a nightie(hideous “govinda” yellow color with stripes, flower baskets ,and fluorescent green polka dots) to welcome me . I was floored at the nice thought, until she opened her mouth.
TD : Hi, Are you just moving in ?
Me : Umm , yeah. Where do you stay?
TD : Ignoring my question.. “ I saw the movers guys carry up your dining table. Is it new ?”
Me: Oh no. ..We’ve had it for a year now. Do you stay in the opposite house ?
TD : Ignoring my question again.. “ How much did you pay for the table?”
She seemed like a horse with blinkers..
Me: A tad uncomfortable…” I really don’t remember. As I said it’s almost a year..”
TD: “You don’t remember or don’t want to tell me ?”
Me: “mmm.. huh.”
That’s when I lost it and thought that if I opened my mouth I would end up saying choicest 4 letter words.. like “Gosh”

Just when I thought the hurricane would stop , it swirled more fiercely than ever..

TD: “ I thought I would get a friendly neighbor. Someone I could swap my biriyani recipes with. Now, i don’t think I like you. Bye “
Then she left .. An elephant stomping away in rage ..

The first thought that crossed my mind was ..”Wow, that is one weird lady..”. Who actually stops talking to a neighbor just because she refused to tell her the price of her dining table?.The world might have seen many weirdos in it’s lifetime , but TD must top the list..

What followed this eventful encounter was cold war between the two of us. TD has tried to make my life miserable in every conceivable way since then..

TD’s little devil children knock on my door and run away before I open the door. They do this every Sunday afternoon when I am deep in my slumber. Then, the Devil family does tribal dances around 6 every morning, couple of tons weighing down my fragile ceiling… I expect them to crash into my house someday soon, if they insist on being so diligent about fracturing the poor old building…

TD and I had the mother of all disputes a few months back. Her A/C (A devil, like it’s owner) leaks like a kid’s nose and goes pitter- patter, pitter-patter, pitter- patter on my A/c . Since, I was not on talking terms with TD , I made hubby go up and serve the ultimatum. TD shooed him away like a pigeon and said she would take her own sweet time for fitting a drainage pipe t as it was her A/c. Hubby came back deflated. The incessant pitter-patter went on for almost 2 weeks, when I couldn’t take it any longer,I somehow mustered up the courage to ring TD’s bell. I had rehearsed the speech which I would deliver when I met her for almost 2 days and was looking forward to insulting her . This was the speech I had prepared for the show-down..
“This is a decent neighborhood. We don’t know about you , but we are decent people. You are being a nuisance to everyone… Especially us. We have been tolerating you for this long , but you make it impossible for people to live here. We will have to complain to the landlord about the A/c dripping , the noise at ungodly hours , your kids knocking on our door and running way… We have never seen such uncultured people in our entire life “

...Tring tring (ME ringing TD’s door bell). TD opens the door.Today, she is wearing a loud red colored nightie with ugly pink flowers on them .

TD: “What do you want ?. Are you shameless ? I insulted your husband only 2 weeks back and now you are here.. I will have to complain to the landlord that you are trespassing and ringing the bell without any reason. And no, we will not fix the A/C. Do what you can..”
And she banged the door on me ….

All I whimpered was “ ummm …ouch ….” So much for rehearsed speeches..

Finally, our landlord (same as hers) had to pay for her tube. TD’s A/c doesn’t go pitter-patter these days but she has discovered a new way of torture… dropping her rubbish on my balcony..I am helpless , as I can’t really prove that she is the one that is dropping all those potato scraps , chicken bones and onion peels.
Someday I’ll have my revenge…