The Hill Road Incident – 4

“I like little flecks of blood adorning my doorsteps”, a half smile playing on her lips. I managed a bloody smile which would have mortified anyone else other than Jessica here. Please let the poor bleeding man in.

“Come on in”, said she. I bumbled onto the Oriental rug that layered the lounge. Yes she had a lounge. I plopped myself onto a comfy-looking couch that beckoned to me, trying not to get the blood to leak out between the fingers of my cupped palm.

There are some things in life that you just can’t juggle together. You can’t You can’t adopt a pet and expect to live out your couch potato dream of a lifestyle. And you cannot pinch close a bloody nose, pry a self-administered wedgie out of your ass crack and try and make it look inconspicuous. You just cannot.

Fortunately for me, it was Jessica’s toned derrière who stared at me as it bounced away.

All those squats and kick-boxing lessons begging for attention. Besides, when you have your head tilted back, trying to pinch close, a nose leaking blood, you’d welcome anything to take your mind off the throbbing pain.

She sauntered back a few moments later with two cubes of ice nestled inside a handkerchief and a steaming mug of what turned out to be hot chocolate.

“Tilt head forward, doofus. Do you want all that fresh blood to run down your throat.”, she smirked, handing me the ice pack. I accepted it and held it gratefully against my nose.

“Attila the Hun was thought to have died of a nosebleed on the day he tied the knot, you know.”, said Jessica, gingerly sipping down on the chocolate.

“More due to his alcohol related liver cirrhosis culminating in his esophageal varices rupturing”, she added delicately.

A shot her a glazed look from under the cold, wet, drippy handkerchief.

“The veins around his stomach exploded”, she continued “..which was somehow related to his liver being over-saturated with ethanol, allowing blood to flood his digestive system and..”

“..hence the nosebleed”, she finished with a flourish.

“One moment indirectly responsible for the fall of the greatest empire the world has ever seen and the next moment; dead, gagging on your own blood”, she whispered, snuggling into her end of the sofa, drawing her legs up so that her chin rested on her knees.

“That’s just one theory anyway. Another one says that he was assassinated by his young bride”, she said sucking a bit of cocoa off her little finger.

“Oh and I did not kill him”, she glared at me.

Nice of her to bring that up. I was hoping that this would be a one-sided conversation and that I wouldn’t have to do much of the talking. I wouldn’t have said much, even if her door hadn’t ambushed me and bashed my nose into my brain.

And Jessica would’ve scored perfect tens if the guys at Andrews were allowed to hold scores up when she passed them by. I was here only because of Neil. She knew it and I knew it. Three years, we spent in the same class and I don’t even remember having anything go beyond a ‘How’ve-you-been-friendly-smile’ routine. Damn you, social anxiety disorder.

Everything that I knew about her, was known by everyone. She was the kind of person whose love life would be discussed in huddles among girls all over the campus. Pieces and snatches of information from different sources which if pieced together would form a healthy, hit-scarred Wikipedia page.

“He had a Business Studies paper the next day and so he asked me if he could stay over to save up on the travel time”, she continued, ignoring the brief foray into my psychological history and the blatant violation of her privacy.

“I agreed. We bunked in my parents bedroom. I don’t think that he was here that night because of the paper at all. Neil was never the one to mug up stuff on the eve of an exam. He wasn’t even his usual horny self. I remember watching him pretend to study, his mind clearly on something else. He fidgeted with his phone and paced around a lot that night. It was as if he expected something to happen. I tried asking him about it but he shrugged it away. Then at about a quarter to one the phone rings. It must have been bad news because he sounded angry. He said something about not telling him something and that they were in big trouble. Then he storms off without so much as a goodbye. The next thing I know, I’m entertaining a horde of policemen walking all over my carpet. There’s my end of the story. Happy, Sherlock ?”.

I waited. As if there was anything else that I could do besides being a mute goat.

“It was some dude called Errol. I heard him say it when he answered it.”


Barcelona-Inter@The Mango Tree, Vagator

Ecstacy smears her mascara all over, while Agony..um..agonizes.

11.15 PM. A cluster of wooden chairs dragged away from their respective tables, all placed around a LCD. A pair of vocal Italians, a serene Spaniard, a balding Frenchman, a heavily tattooed Turk (?), and a score of other unidentifiable foreigners (to me). Outside at the drive-to bar, a visibly drunk Stryker lookalike (Mortal Kombat for the illeterate) fireman-carries a petite blonde and spanks her hot-pants clad bottom repeatedly. I think that that is worth a mention.

The place – The Mango Tree, a restaurant plus a bar, that you can drive up to and order. Now that’s how you attract business. A bar top littered with tall pitchers of Heineken, half-emptied Tuborg’s, a dozen ash-trays, and a hot-pants clad petite blonde.

I bring my Activa to a halt amongst five hulking Enfields, a hare venturing into a herd of cape buffaloes.
I pull up a chair and smile at the gruff looking white man beside me, sipping on Jack Daniels. The Frenchman looks at the others as the team sheets are displayed. “Milito-Milito”, the only discernible words of his rapidly spoken language (“I love abusing in french, it’s like wiping your arse with silk” – The Matrix), knocking his fists together. Gabriel and Diego Milito, blood brothers playing on opposite sides.
My neighbor nods his greeting.

“Barca or Inter?”, I venture. Barca, comes the reply. Another one, I think. The Italians in front of me seem the only ones in this state, against the majority.

94 minutes later, it is they who are back slapping each other and hooting with joy.

Jose Mourinho. A name that will now command premium price as a coach. What else can you say about him. He managed to survive a 180 minute siege against the most elegant destructive force in European soccer, letting in just two and scoring three, all of that with the possession stats reading 70-30 to Barcelona! He managed to stifle their God, letting him have only a handful of shots on goal and cutting down his ferrety runs from midfield.

One may argue that Inter who like Greece in the 2004 Euro, are playing ultra defensive and boring soccer and their win is scarcely deserved. But you only have to go as far as the first leg at the San Siro, to quell the argument. And besides this seemed to be the only way to beat Barca.

Point : Three Brazilians and two Argentinians in the Inter defensive system, not counting another two South American holding mid-fielders, an Argentine and a Brazilian apiece.

Much has been made of the Mourinho swagger and dramatic post-match meets. But the fact remains that Jose can walk the talk as well.

I know who I’ll be rooting for come 22nd May. I trudge back, red-eyed and sleepy to extract my bunny-ride.

The Royal Enfield Classic Bullet 500 ES

The Hill Road Incident – 3

Jessica’s place was barely ten minutes away from college. She could crawl out of bed, struggle into her slippers, and turn up to class with her hair disheveled, in her pajamas and still be the envy of women. And have all the blue-blooded males drool over her Scottish kilt-esque checkered pajamas. But that wasn’t Jessica. She was perfect. She never had bad hair days. She probably never even had an embarrassing moment in her life.

The place was bang in the middle of one of the most affluent streets in Bandra. A sprawling two- story mansion built of pure black granite and stone, built on a thousand square feet of virgin land. It made you think of one of those medieval age manors missing a moat and a drawbridge.

This wasn’t an inheritance passed down by a rich old uncle or a gift from the parents, although both her parents were worth a king’s ransom and wouldn’t think twice before buying their only daughter a place of her own, irrespective of the price. This was all hers, bought and paid for by innumerable modeling assignments and photo shoots. Jessica was a mini-celebrity who commanded an annual package that I would probably need three lifetimes to put together. All in a span of three years since she rubbed shoulders with the big league people.

I loathed her.

She had all of my dreams at a tender age of twenty-one. But that was not the reason I loathed her. I liked to think that the universe had a way of balancing everything out. If you were prospering in a certain place, you had to be lacking in another. If you were a social beast who had excellent people skills, then you had to have a major character flaw. You couldn’t be good at everything. You couldn’t be both, rich AND concerned about the welfare of the less fortunate. You couldn’t be both, into social work AND own an island. Yin and Yang. There had to be shades of black and white.

I would have loved to hate her if she was a stereotypical rich-spoilt-kid-who-treated-everyone-around-her-as-toerags person. On the contrary, she was one of the most easiest people to get along with, no matter where you came from or what you did. She just fit in, like a universal jig-saw piece. She had taken my theory, broken it into tiny little pieces, looked me in the eye and had said, “Now what?”.

I loathed her.

Gravel crunched underfoot as I made my way down the path to her front door. For some reason I thought of a row of aluminum-sheet thatched slums in Kurla whose front doors opened into a foul-smelling, mosquito-infested river of waste and filth. The day was dying, and the shadows lengthened across the lawn. The huge granite structure loomed large over me as I approached the front door.

I stopped a foot away from the oak paneled door. As I made to knock, a click of a switch, lights flooding the entrance, a shuffling of footsteps and a thump of the door being thrown open. Outwards. Outwards, smack into my nose before I could dive for cover. Stars exploded in a haze of colour and I fell backwards into the levelled gravel. Something hot, wet and sticky trickled down my upper lip.

“Eyyem soooo saawwrie, maan.”, someone drawled.

“Whazzat?”, I blinked stupidly, caught in the glare of a hot spotlight.

“Yoooou don’t look so goooood”, said the wildly contorted lips, squeezing its words into a long hosepipe. I rubbed my eyes, wishing that everything would go back to ‘Normal’ instead of ‘Play at ¼ speed’.

I shook my head trying to get all the rattling parts fall into place.

I looked up and made out a hulking outline, silhouetted against the glare of the bright neon lights that spilled out of the door. I squinted and then winced.

Maddy Nair.

There was no mistaking the unbuttoned shirt, the white tee underneath and the snazzy smile. He held out a hand and I pulled myself up, blood still trickling down my chin.

“I’m really sorry, yaar. I really have to rush.”, he said, still handing me a handkerchief and holding onto that sheepish smile. I nodded, annoyed.

Madesh Nair. Fifth generation to what was a once flourishing but now defunct crime family, and also the object of wild Andrean rumors given his background. One whispered that the Nair family has had a tradition of killing off any offspring not displaying criminal tendencies, and that Madesh was in fact an orphan picked off the slums of Dharavi, since all the blood sons were killed off. Another said that he had undergone intensive assassin training since the age of five and could kill a person merely by squeezing his/her posterior. Yet another said that he was the head honcho of a chain of brothels, that extended to Europe.

All I knew was that he was a close friend of Neil’s, and here he was, getting cozy with his widow. Survival of the fittest. You die, someone else takes over. The world still turns.

Pushing away an image of Madesh slobbering over Jessica in her luxurious Roman-styled jacuzzi, I turned around and caught a pair of fierce green eyes boring into mine.


The Hill Road Incident – 2

Time, that elusive mistress. She grins at you from across the room, yet you know that you can never have her. You reach out to touch a wisp of her hair, and she eludes you. Your life wastes away minute by minute, second by second, moment by moment. Counting down to a cold, lifeless, wrinkled self.

9.30 AM Sociology. Long periods of undivided attention punctuated by bursts of time-related philosophical insights.

“To this day the RSS or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, whose Hindutva ideology of a Hindu state is considered to be lifted off Hitler’s Aryan superiority, wouldn’t consider themselves a political organization. Although it wasn’t proved, Nathuram Godse was considered to be a member of the RSS”, says Father Joseph, his voice washing over the class. Only here as a lecturer as one of his assignments on his way to being a full-fledged priest. Shame to see him go next year, I reflect.

“Ritualists such as the RSS”, he says “All they do is plod along, determined to use the same old traditional means”. He looks owlishly around the somber classroom; Somber from the fact that all the mid-benchers had either dozed off, were staring into space or were adding their contribution, into the little inches of space left. onto their desk which were crammed with one-liners, perverse quotes, sparks of wisdom, artsy doodles, random names and general abuses. National treasures, those desks. Me, I was of the few camped at the front, hanging on to his every word.

Means that have lost sight of the goal”, he finishes dramatically. “The goal being a developed India, free from all its religious and superstitious baggage. Free from all religious extremism that have bogged it down”.

At my right Rajeev nudges me, a rolled up paper dangling from his fingers, points to the desk in front of him. I follow his gaze and see chalk powder, scraped together to form a thin white line. Scraped away from the temporary roll numbers scrawled in chalk on our desk. He then proceeds to ‘snort’ it. At my left Jason is intent on scratching out a ‘Jason poked a goat’ quote off the desk, humming a tune as he does so.

The bell sounds, cutting Joseph off in mid-sentence. I grab my bag and amble away, slapping a few backs in greeting as I make my way out. The corridor is a buzzing mass of students. Students pour out of their classes to join the throbbing artery of the crowd, all thronging towards the lobby. From here the crowds splits up into threads of capillaries, students going right head for the exit; the ones going left, into the cafeteria, the basketball court or take the stairs to the upper floors; the ones going straight on, into the gym, the college office, the library or the unlucky ones, into the dean’s chamber.

I mull over the last few days. I had paid Neil a visit, a few hours after the cops had picked him up. Poisoned, the coroner had said, after I tipped her a wad of hundred rupee notes, to skip the lines, the paperwork & the authorities. Bribes, the lubricant of all good commerce.

The room was cold. Approximately two degrees. Cold enough to slow down the decomposition, but not cold enough to stop the process entirely and mask the faint stench that soaked the air. Tendrils of it that wound around you, probing away at your warm, alive being.

Neil’s had been the third corpse. The first being a fresh victim of  the Indian Railways. I declined to have a look at him. Or her. The red sheet over it was plastered, to what was left of a once fully functioning human being, a steady drip-drip of blood at each of its four corners.

Four corners. I swallowed down some bitter tasting bile.

The second was a woman, her once white skin now mottled with patches of dark brown. The only indication of violence being a chafed ring of white skin around her neck.

Poisoning, not messy like knives, I thought. Knives require a cold-blooded demeanor. Someone who could stomach the feeling of human flesh being sliced open . Someone who didn’t mind warm blood washing out over them as they stabbed or sliced, rupturing the liver or severing the jugular artery. Dark, trickling crimson or bright, gushing red torrents.

Nicotine poisoning, the coroner said. I stared.

Neil never smoked. And besides, he’d have to be puffing away at half a dozen cigarettes plus be hooked on to a couple of nicotine patches for it to even cause him some unease.

Then it dawned on me.

One way of extracting nicotine is snuff. Dump a can full of snuff into a glass and fill it with enough water to cover the snuff. Wait a day. Strain out the liquid and throw away the snuff and voila you have a poison. Another way is to take several cigarette butts and soak them in plain water for 3-4 hours. Voila. A poison, ready to be laced into the victims morning orange juice.

Somebody had been reading ‘The Anarchist Cookbook’.


The Hill Road Incident – 1

He lay eagle-spread on his back; his ridiculously longs limbs askew, mouth ajar and his glasses lying a few feet away. The expression on his face frozen in polite surprise, as if questioning the slightly low marks that he’d got for his BMS project. His head lay, tilted back, the bristles around his jaw indicating the onset of a beard. He wore a blue checked t-shirt. a pair of narrow, pipe jeans; the ones that looked like any other pair of jeans at the top, but tapered to fit snugly at the ankles, and a pair of worn shoes.

It was 4 am. The place was Hill Road. Bandra was shrouded in darkness, waking up to a cold January morning. Bloody hell; I’ve never woken up for lectures this early. Sparrows chirped cheerfully ignorant of the corpse. He looked to have been dead for sometime, his pupils dilated and his body cold and stiff as a sack of dried concrete. There was nothing I could do for him. I glanced at the hurriedly typed SMS – ‘MEET ME AT HERSHES! URGENT!’. The poor guy had probably tried to reach my dead phone before sending in the message. I looked around nervously, wondering if he had tried calling anyone else.

I had hardly ever seen him without his precious spectacles when he was alive, and here he was now, his face unveiled, his glassy eyes staring into space. He was tall for his age, though not perfectly proportioned. It was as if God got a hold of both his ends and yanked them apart, like a wad of chewed bubblegum. He had lived his short years well, I thought to myself. An eagerness to learn, a specialist with presentations and a determination to get things done and not dawdle over them. He had briefly harbored aspirations of being a neurosurgeon before settling down onto business management. He liked to explain things slowly and precisely, determined to give the person that every detail and scrap of information, no matter how irrelevant it seems.

I remembered the undisguised excitement in his voice, the last time that I had heard him over the phone,

“I heard you shaved your head. What do you look like?”

“Hideous man, hideous. Like Nicholas Anelka, without the soccer skills”

“I’ve got a crazy week ahead of me”, he says “Finance on Tuesday. The BPO work-culture project submission on Wednesday. A viva with the dean after that. Then I’ve got to take Jessica out because she’s been complaining about the fact that my phone calls always dwindle on days that lead up to my exams”.

I had smiled to myself then. Jessica in the same paragraph as his studies. A curvy, Indo-Canadian, raven haired goddess, working part-time as a model, in the same paragraph as finance and accounting. There must be a God.

She was his better half for a little more than a year. Some called it divine intervention, others, a coincidence. But it was no coincidence that brought Neil to her place a year back. She was the niece of a friend who needed help with her ‘numbers’ and Neil was the obvious choice. A tall and lanky gadget freak and a buxom, green-eyed girl who had represented the Canadian under-21 volleyball team last year. Who would have thunk it.

We’d joked that if Neil were to die; his last words would be a funny punch line or that his heart would give way after prolonged radioactive exposure to silicon batteries. I let out a cold chuckle.

A wail of sirens in the distance snaps me out of my reverie. So someone did call the police. About time, since there was a police chowki just around the corner. Why did he call me of all people? How can a perfectly healthy 19-year old drop dead of his own accord in the middle of a street? Was the college-going-kid-with-a-hot-girlfriend just a pretense for something more sinister?

I had to find my answers some other time, I thought, as the sirens drew nearer. Besides, standing near a dead body without informing anyone would make me a ready suspect. That would be playing into the hands of the police. Taking a long, last look at my dead friend, I hurried away.

(The above excerpt bears no resemblance to any person living or dead, studying in St. Andrews, pursuing their BMS, running the ‘Tree Of Life Church’ blog, or residing in the Airport Quarters at Andheri. Any resemblance is purely coincidental)



Into the abyss it flows;
Speaking of decomposed flesh and withered bone;
To flee is but futile it knows; How does it escape its own groans?

I spied from afar as it plotted its doom,
Scheming, planning,manipulating, decieving
Brows furrowed as it watched its idea bloom,
Oblivious to the locusts that crouched awaiting

See how it flees now, from those feigned smiles,
Those painted faces,
Those maggot-ridden praises

I weep as I remember,
That we were once one,
Trapped not unlike father and son,
The murder of one be the death-knell of the other

As years passed, I watched it turn
Moulded by society, fattened to burn
Feeding on its pride, devouring its sanity

It whimpered, watching me advance
My eyes lidded, my being in a trance
Why has it come to this, I seek
The rust-encrusted blade at my side remains silent and meek

I remember the friend that I lost,
The brother, the sage and the lover
The times good, and the times blessed
On sun-kissed fields we frolicked, and lasses we caressed

I look upon now, the spectre before me
Sprawled alone and terrified, pleading for mercy
Remorse rose like bile in my throat,
Quickly quelled, blind anger encroached

Minutes ticked away, silence held sway
Amidst ragged breaths, a ringing shatters the calm depths
A laughter, resembling a growl
Of demons and she-wolves on the prowl

Higher and higher it rose,
Until my very lonely soul it froze,
Enshrouding me with nameless terror,
Piercing my skin, defiling my demeanor

Till no longer I could keep it in,
The abomination had to be killed,
Swung my steel, with a cry of vengence
And listened to the sound of spurting crimson mingled with silence

Again and again I struck,
My sobs echoing with every thrust,
I tarried when the deed was done,
Felt its breath, until there was none

Watching its corpse, as I float away
Overcome by a sense of disappointment and dismay,
A hand at my shoulder now beckons me,
To the glorious uncertainty of either love or disease


Rahul Gandhi at Bhaidas Hall, Mumbai

“I put in your name”, Megan tells me,

“We are to go and see him, Rahul Gandhi, the politician!. You know who Rahul Gandhi is, right?!”, she beams in her overly excited voice on the phone. Exclamation marks always come in when Megan speaks out her mind.

“Yeah. Of course I do”, I tell her

Rahul Gandhi, member of one of the most prominent political family in India, now considered to be the apparent heir of the Indian National Congress. Great-grandson of Jawarharlal Nehru, grandson of Indira Gandhi, and son of Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi. He entered politics in 2004 when he decided to contest the May election for the Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha. He is now the MP representing the Amethi Constituency and is also the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee and in charge of the Youth Congress and National Students Union of India (NSUI).

Of course I knew. Thank you Wikipedia.

D-Day arrives. I rush out groggily and tell Megan that I’d meet her at the venue. Peak hours and trains are packed. I get a foothold and hang for my dear life. I navigate my way through the mesh of bodies to the opposite exit. Vile Parle passes by and I’m left fuming. I text Megan that I missed it because of the crowd. Should I have told her that I was day-dreaming. Naah.

I grab an autorickshaw and get in with a couple of Mithibai commerce students discussing their class projects.

“I got underwear? Do they really expect us to display lingerie in class. We spoke to Shruti ma’am and got it changed.”

There are security personnel everywhere, at every nook, corner and turn leading up-to the venue. White-garbed traffic constables armed with whistles mingle with NSG personnel with their Kevlar and SIG SG 551 assault rifles. I get off and rush off towards the venue after getting directions, briefly glancing at Megan’s text “WHERE ARE YOU?”.

I spot her amidst the crowd at the gate.

“Bags and mobiles aren’t allowed inside!”, she says. She steers me over to Shanu, a tall pretty young thing. Shanu, who danced to ‘Kajra Re’ at a personality contest the day before.

“And no head-phones too”, Shanu tells me glancing at the earpieces sticking out of  my shirt. I hastily remove them and hurry off with Megan.

“No admission without co-ordinator”, a grim looking police person tells us at the gate.

“MRS BRIGANZA, OVER HERE!”, Megan yells. A plump middle-aged teacher hurries over and hands us our passes. After passing through the metal detectors I am frisked and groped about a hundred times on our way to the auditorium. Khaki green is the colour of the day I think to myself glancing at the policemen occupying the compound.

We get ourselves seated and wait for Rahul Gandhi to arrive. We wait for approximately an hour before he walks in. Clad in a white kurta and sneakers (as Megan points out) he looks completely at ease.

After an introduction by Jitendra Singh (and a couple of others), representing the Alwar constituency of Rajastan, Rahul walks up to the podium amidst cheers ,catcalls and a  “Marry me Rahul! You have great hair!’ from Megan.

Over the next hour he has the crowd of students transfixed at every word he utters. He talks about recruiting politicians by a fair recruitment process as opposed to the traditional method of having a political lineage or backing. He talks about making it easy for everyone, irrespective of their caste and creed, joining the Congress. He tells the 1,100 strong, enthralled students about having a vision of an uncorrupted, young, generation of politicians who have values.

“If I tell you that, Siddharth here”, he says pointing to a student, “is your leader. Would you accept that?”. A “NO” rings out in unison.

“That is exactly what the other parties do. They elect their own leaders and force them upon you. You have no choice in the matter. We are  striving to change that.”

He also takes digs at the opposition, informing the audience that as long as someone is an Indian, without a criminal record, nothing can stop him from attempting to join his party.

“My father was from Allahabad and travelled to Kashmir. My grandfather was a Parsi from Gujarat and my mother is from Italy. Whilst I am based in Delhi. What does that make me?”, he says over thunderous applause.

He continues to take in questions from the audience and answers them with surprising wit. Some inane (Are you for, or against steroids?) and some reasonable (Why is Mr MS Gill, aged 72, the minister for youth affairs and sports? To which Rahul playfully responds “I will ask Dr. Manmohan Singh the next time I meet him that Sneha from Mumbai questions this”)

He even proceeds to walk through the mass of swooning girls, and  meet delighted students  answering their questions. He also obliges some with autographs.

At the end of it all while we’re waiting for our bags to arrive (And Megan and the rest of the St. Andrews femme’s are off giving sound bytes to the hungry media, who were not allowed into the auditorium) I’m left wondering whether this is just another clever political stunt designed by a very charismatic new leader or are we being ushered into a new era of Indian administration by a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.

For information about the India Youth Congress please visit http://iyc.in/


Day One

My very own blog. Now that I’ve done it I can dedicate an entire page to one of my random rant without the need to edit content. Ah! The first waves of ideas hit me as I sit in slouch in the aftermath of creating my very first blog. Ideas swimming around in the cesspool of my grey area. Ideas wriggling away probing at my cranium waiting to vomit themselves onto this virtual wasteland. Useless ideas, but ideas all the same.

“Behind this mask there is more than flesh and blood. Behind this mask is an idea. And ideas, my friend, are bulletproof” – Hugo Weaving (after being riddled by bullets that have gone through his kevlar, feels the need to spout out his parting quote)

I’d like to take this moment to pay tribute to one of the many countless journeys that I have undertaken in a Mumbai local. Although my suffering have eased a lot, owing to the fact that I have in my possession a First Class Pass which I brandish under the nose of every TC that questions me about the same. Ever notice how they sniff you out when you’re travelling ticketless like great white (and grey)  sharks tasting the little nosebleed from miles away, while ignoring you completely when you are a legitimate traveler.  Even after I pretend to  avoid their eyes and act suspicious around them. Nothing.

Anyway, back to the real reason that I’m tapping away at my keyboard.

Journey inception :- Santacruz, Destination :- Kandivali. That sounds really simple, doesn’t it? Point A to Point B. No sweat. What the unsuspecting traveler he doesn’t see is the pale ‘V’ sign on the indicator. V for Vendetta. V for Virar. He gets on a partially crowded compartment and jams himself between the door and a large, heavyset Gujarati gentleman. His level of irritibility and amount of oxygen intake is healthy, not particularly good, but healthy.  Next stop Vile Parle. All still OK. A couple of people get on, but the same number get off. “This is alright then”, thinks the doomed man. The train chugs along. The next station is in sight. The large signboard reads Andheri. He squints. His eyes widening with horror as the behemoth screeches to a stop, the metal wheels screeching and grating against the rails.

“For the love of God, No!”

He desperately tries to jam his Adidas out of the way, away from the stampede taking place right before his weary eyes. Cavemen roar, grunt and smash their way into the cramped space. He sees a vision of hundreds of sardines flooding themselves in a trawler’s net and all he hears are incoherent mutterings, random war-cries and noisy skirmishes breaking out over hand-space. He gasps momentarily and chokes as oily strands of greying hair enters his nostrils. Desperately he twists his face out of the way, pressing his face against cool metal of the boogie. Then out of nowhere he gets an elbow in the face. His yelp of suprise is cut short by another well placed elbow. Irritibility – Breaking point , Oxygen intake – non-existant.

“Please let this be over, Please!”, he thinks

Sweat drips down his nose. He knows that it doesn’t belongs to him. It smells and tastes like that Gujrati gentleman. Out of the corner of his eye he spots a sign flashing. It reads ‘KANDIVALI’. He squeezes himself between two hairy, hulking pieces of meat and deposits himself on the platform. He watches the train leave and trudges up the worn steps.

Arsenal v. Liverpool 17/04/2011 @Irish Pub, Khar

I’ve never ever gone hoarse before. 6600ml worth of cold beer and a mild cold could not have done it. Nope. What really killed my throat, was that I yelled myself hoarse. I yelled and I shrieked, like a man possessed.

That is right. We will stand by you before we tear you apart.

We were 98 minutes in, and Van Persie had netted just in the potential winner. Our title challenge was still alive, although dangling by a shoestring. Not even the most optimistic of the 25-strong Liverpool fan in the room would’ve thought otherwise. Their scarves along with their chanting had gone silent. It was at this point that me and about 6 other Gunners, screamed ourselves hoarse. That was to be our only moment of the match.

Because soon after, Suarez crashes the ball into the Arsenal wall, it falls to Lucas in the box. Lucas looks over his shoulder, sees Eboue romping after him from the corner of his eye, plants his body between him and the ball, and Eboue crashes into him. The Kop fans in the pub go rabioso. Loco. Fou.

Irish Pub is about 10 minutes away from Khar station. Get to S.V Road and turn left, as I was advised by the friendly neighborhood paan guy. Contrary to it’s name, nothing struck me as distinctly Irish here. But the decor seemed welcoming enough, chandeliers and tall polished wooden bar-stools, and 3 large flatscreen TV’s which were to be the evenings centerpieces. It also struck me as a bit too cramped, with customers having to squeeze between the table. But hey, this is Mumbai; the land of 6 AM Virar locals. There also were adjoining room catering to the IPL faithful (mostly empty, though)

The 325/- cover charge was steep, but we had no choice as this seemed to be the only place screening football. Everywhere else seemed to be drowning in the IPL. The cover charge, included food and drink worth 300 bucks.. which my beers graciously took care of. Sheesh. Talk about cashing in on soccer fanaticism.

I agreed to meet a Kenny-Daglish-worshiping friend here because he kept boasting about the fans who go absolutely crazy before a big match. Here we were. He, decked in his all red Liverpool jersey and me in my blue-striped third kit, with the words ‘ARSHAVIN’ plastered at the back. And true to his word, the horde of Liverpool fans piled in.

They held up banners. Adorned the walls with banners (one to commemorate the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster). Draped themselves in banners. Chanted the Liverpool classics (Walk On / Walk On). Chanted rude songs (Van Pussy/ Van Pussy / Van Pussy). Chanted crappy songs (One stop / Two stop / Three, Pepe Reina – to the tune of ‘Macarena’, which prompted one of the Gunners to go , “Why don’t y’all do the dance as well”). Chanted to the tune of one of the national songs (Liverpool humey jaan sey pyaara hai / Sabse nyara football club humara hai ).

All in all, The Irish Pub experience is one for all football fans.

7th, October 2010

‘Twas the night before the midterms. A sheaf of xeroxed notes sat before me, the dull black ink all but extinguishing my interest. ‘Epic Poetry’, it said.

This is what happens when you *think* that you can nail an exam. You let it drift away throughout the year. You see glimpses of it, when you decide to sit for its lectures. You hear random meanings, definitions and phrases. But thats all you have the night before it calls to you.

Damn you, internet chat rooms, with your promises of fruitful long-distance relationships. Damn you, sloth. You there rolling around at 7.30 AM, when its time for you to hurl yourself into the next Churhgate local.

My cell sits there, threatening to ring. In its faded silver casing. My eyes dart about. Oh and damn you, you blog.


Hi! With a painted-on-plastic-smile and a politician-hands-clasp.

Another college year, to follow up the one before, which I somehow managed to clear. Before that it was flunk-pass-flunk-flunk-pass-flunk. Maybe my subconscious somehow figured that another ‘fail’ would only result in me killing myself, and decided to write my exams without my knowing.

Random thought : Ranting is so much more fun when done alone and when you have no one to oppose you and challenge your little made-up beliefs.

Anyway, I will now end my tiny rant with a bit of cheer. Someone decided to pay me a bit for all the trouble that I go through, putting pen to paper. Or finger-tips to little pieces of plastic-push-buttons with letters printed on them.

My First Literature Pay!

A Loud Flashback – A Short Story (Incorrectly titled as ‘CLATTER’)

The Tower – 1

Day One : God, this stinks. Ugh. I cringe my nose in disgust. It’s amazing how you tend to notice your acute sense of smell in the absence of its overrated cousin. Sight.

Tentatively I draw in a spoonful of air. Definitely ammonia. Urine. The overpowering whiff of human feces, which caused me to recoil the moment I was unceremoniously shoved into this cavity, the equivalent to squeezing under an opening in a neighborhood fence. Of course, the obvious ‘human feces’, in the helpless-prisoner-solitary-confinement-routine. The experience wouldn’t be complete without it. I get whiff of a sharp, musty odour. Salty sea breeze blowing in from a crevice somewhere.

I feel my way around the circular room, my fingers running over the damp, algae-slicked stone, expecting to encounter a corpse of its previous inhabitant. I let my eyes get used to the darkness, straining to at least make out an outline of a stone brick or gauge the diameter of the room. Nothing. It was as if a blind man had been thrust into the trunk of a car, with a blanket wound around his head, secured with a roll of duct tape. Which was incidentally how I was transported to this godforsaken place. All I remember of the ordeal is being gagged and bagged, like a piece of unwanted luggage, smacked a couple of times around the head until a blow rendered me unconscious.

Day Two : Bastards. They stripped me of every possession, including a glow-in-the-dark wristwatch which would have at least worked my eyes. All I have now is the clothes on my back and a worn, mouldy blanket smelling of sandpaper, which thankfully I discovered in a recess in the wall and helped me keep out the frozen night.

If I place my ear against the wall opposite to the entrance I can hear the faint ebb and flow of waves. The stench of human waste is all but gone now. It was as though the previous occupant was hurriedly evacuated before my arrival. Or executed.

Day Three : The stench of human waste returns. This time, my own.

I sift through the watery, mushy, grainy mess that is pushed through the opening every four hours or so. I have no means of keeping time. All I can do is count the number of meals. The metallic click of the key being turned, the harsh screech of the iron grating being slid open, the metallic scrape of the bowl against the granite floor, and the gurgling slop of the food. And again. And again. And again.

Day Seven : I have found a tiny pustule below my right ear. It itches. And then another near my right nipple. It bursts as I finger it, leaving a wet smear on my tips. Hastily I strip and examine myself, reaching down into every crevice. Oh dear God! There are thousands of tiny little boils all over my lower body. At every few centimetres there is a break out of clusters of pus-filled mounds. They all itch like crazy. How could this have sprung overnight? I feel defiled and unclean, fighting against the urge to sink my fingernails in those grainy patches of skin.

On my scalp, in my armpits, and my face! Jesus Christ! My face! The rashes break out and break open under my very touch! I claw at my face, screaming like a madman.

I wake up gasping, covered in cold sweat.

Day Fourteen? : All I want is an inkling of the reason why I am held here against my will. The knowledge of me being completely innocent and still be made to live this kind of existence eats away at me.

Boredom. I have never known boredom like this. I thought that I could stick to a schedule. Work on some push-ups, some crunches, sleep a little. Prove to those outside that I am better than the depraved game that they make me play. I had convinced myself I would see it through the sick little social experiment that they had been carrying out.

But the sheer boredom is getting to me. Sometimes I scream myself hoarse. Sometimes I bawl at the top of my lungs, trying to provoke them, hoping that I would get some answers. But all that I hear is the maddening sound of silence, echoing round the chamber.

I know now that I will die alone in here.

Day Eighteen? : Tap. Tap. Thwack. Ow. I knew I should have learnt morse code, instead of wasting my time pursuing my useless endeavors before I came to this place. Or learnt to pick locks and contort my body. I clutch my head, rubbing the spot where it made contact with the wall.

Today I have a plan. Today I will make them sit up and take notice. Here comes my bowl. I crouch next to the little opening. Ha ha, even my dog wouldn’t have squeezed through there. I hear the familiar sound of the bowl thrust in, and attached to the bowl is a hand. My only contact with humanity and mankind.

With a growl I throw myself upon that retreating hand, hanging onto it with dear life. It shudders like an entity with a mind of its own. I pause for a moment to feel the ‘thump’ of its pulse, the beat of its miniature heart, the warmth of another living entity-

– and then I bite down with savage strength on the wriggling fingers. My canine breaks through the calloused skin of the last two fingers, skin that has seen a fair amount of manual labour, pausing only for a moment as it encounters bone. It takes another almighty chomp as my jaw goes through it with a sickening crunch. A scream other than my own pierces my eardrums, an anguished scream that goes on for more than a couple of seconds. The arm struggles madly, I dig my fingers into it, holding on. I pant like a dog over a steak.

I close my jaws for a second time over the partially severed fingers. I get a good hold over them, holding down the forearm, this time clamping my molars over the doomed fingers. A moment passes, like a runner poised at the starting block and then a vicious ‘snap’. The pleading sobs outside turn to a howl.

I grin my open-mouthed toothy grin, rolling my prize between my teeth. I spit them out, dimly aware of the hand pulling free. The entire square inch of space near the opening is slick with blood. For once I an glad of the lack of illumination.

The sour metallic aftertaste of blood remains in my mouth for a long time.

I break down.

Evolution v/s Science, St. Francis Borivali

“Listen to Tommy with a candle burning, and you’ll see your entire future”, writes Anita Miller to an eleven-year old William Miller.

I was baited. Hook, line and sinker. Any movie that has ‘The Who’ and Zooey Deschanel will have me hooked. Casting Zooey in a movie about the rock and roll fantasyland of the 70’s is a no-brainer. There’s just something about her. Maybe it’s that carefree, almost casual way she delivers her dialogues that always seem laced with mirth, the twinkle in the eyes, the impish grin or the infectious laugh. She seems like someone who you could have endless nonsense conversations with, in the dead of the night atop a water tank on someone’s terrace. And have Roger Daltrey croon “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the background, sneaking sips of rum and coke.

But I’d have to catch the rest of the movie later. The little blue numbers on the top left hand corner of my phone read 4:50. Errol Mark’s status reads ‘Science v/s Evolution, at St. Francis Technical, Borivali – 5:30 PM. Admission free’.

“Isn’t evolution part of science?”, my head conjures up an ape gradually morphing into a human being in a Navneet textbook. Another image of little eleven-year-olds crowded around one of their classmates gaping at something held up in his hands. A 98/100 scrawled on the top of a sheaf of foolscaps held together by a length of string. Little box below the score reads ‘General Science’. Cut to a lone figure in a cold, windy and deserted Wilson’s office in 2003. His cloak billowing around him, a resigned ‘FAIL’ on a printed mark sheet (Science – 1/50).

So much for my thoughts.

I walk into the large hall, forty minutes late and grab a chair at the back. An Englishman at the front is fidgeting with the some Powerpoint slides & a large white screen at his side is projecting his fidgetings. I should have brought some paper, I grimace. No matter, the N82 will have to do.

He uses the word ‘ubiquitous’ a lot. I check my dictionary.

u·biq·ui·tous adj. – Being or seeming to be everywhere at the same time; omnipresent: “plodded through the shadows fruitlessly like an ubiquitous spook”


This wasn’t going to be a debate between ‘Creationism’ or ‘Intelligent Design’ & ‘The Theory of Evolution’, since it was endorsed by our very own Vinu Paul, pastor of Living Hope, Borivali. ‘Evolution’ would not have any say in the matter. The Creation v/s Evolution debate has been around for ages, shooting into the limelight with the Scopes Monkey trial. Over the next hour and a half, Dr. Andrew McIntosh, a combustion theorist, goes about debunking the ‘myth’ of evolution.

His arguments :

  • The earth is not as old as evolutionists have made it out to be. According to Genesis, the earth is not ‘millions’ but ‘thousands’ of years old. He cites an example of a dinosaur fossil being found with ‘fresh’ bone marrow.
  • The universe and its inhabitants could not have evolved by the “blind chance” set forth in Darwinism. There has to be a starting point from an Intelligence or a Designer (read: God) from whom life as it were originated. All this amazing complex biological machinery couldn’t have been put together randomly. He then quotes John 1:1. The ‘Word’ referring to a ‘starting point’.
  • He then points out the pitfalls in ‘radiometric dating’. And then something about the ‘Second Law Of Thermodynamics’. I take that time to fantasize about the steak at Jimmies Kitchen. With the dripping gravy and the tantalizing waft of beef. Oh dear sweet merciful God.
  • Entire forests buried under one and another are not the result of a gradual change but a major catastrophe in the past. Fossils that show creatures in the process of consuming another creature, points to the fact that they were suddenly buried due to a catastrophe. The Bible tells us that that major catastrophe was the Great Flood.

Here’s the link to his view and the theory of Intelligent Design in general.

I go home and look up ‘The Theory Of Evolution’. The Wikipedia page on evolution has too much of theory crammed into it. A couple of clicks later I stumble upon this.

The evidence is for everyone to see. What would a rational, logical person rather believe?

A fantastic story of man fashioned by a divine hand from earth (and a woman from his rib) with no evidence. Or a theory that says that man has evolved over time by the process of random mutations and natural selection (Nature selecting the good mutations and killing off the bad ones) with loads of evidence.

But then you wonder. Does Darwin or any other theory for that matter have an explanation for coping with loneliness. All that he does is tell us that we are all alone on this little blue planet that is not even the centre of the universe or its own galaxy for that matter. Evolution says that it takes about a hundred thousand years for humans to show some kind of mutation. What does it matter to me when I’ve got only fifty-odd years left?

The idea of an omnipresent heavenly father, loving us unconditionally, caring for us and sacrificing himself for us is just a little more appealing to me than the idea that I am just a random creature classified as ‘homo sapien’ in the animal kingdom. A mistake, that can be snuffed out just as easily as a stranded antelope torn apart by a carnivore.

I can spend all my time trying to prove that evolution is the only logical explanation and that God is someone made up by man to create for himself a purpose in life. Maybe they’re all right. Maybe dominance of the human species is just a phase, like the dinosaurs. Maybe there are no morals. No good and bad. No heaven and no hell. No one to be accountable to for our actions. Ambitions, we make up to keep ourselves occupied.

But to what end?

As Bob Sweeney tells Derek Vineyard,

“There was a moment… when I used to blame everything and everyone… for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn’t get no answers ’cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.

“Like what?”

“Has anything you’ve done made your life better?”

I go back to my unfinished movie, lost in thought. On screen Polexia whispers, “I’m bored. Let’s deflower the kid”. I break out into a grin.

All that little boys need to give them a purpose is some good old juvenile humor.

“DEFLOWER!” shrieks Sapphire as the three ‘Band-Aids’ in their underwear, dance around a 15-year old William Miller.

I need my adolescence back.