Thursday, October 21, 2010

It is written...

Ravi pored over the documents, little realizing that it was way past supper time, and the last his stomach growled a warning was more than a couple of hours ago. He had to complete this report at any cost. It was supposed to be done by Rakesh, but he had not reported to work for two days. The boss had conveniently dumped it on Ravi. He leaned back from his laptop for a second and rubbed his eyes. From the corner of his eye, toward the far end on his right, he could see the small light of the office printer coming to life, accompanied by the now obvious (even anticipatory) hum of the machine, as the cartridges and rollers went to work. An involuntary smile escaped his lips. That sound was reassuring. He widened his eyes to shake off some of the blurriness of the last two hours and hunched forward again to take a final look at the report.

Then, as if someone had just knuckled on his head, he jerked, stopped reading and sat up straight. He glanced at his watch. It was close to midnight. He ran his hands over his hair in disbelief. But it wasn't the time that had jolted him up. It was the printer. He rose slowly and walked toward the longish corridor that led to the printer room.

It was evident that at least on this floor, he was the only employee working late. And he hadn't given any print commands in the last eight hours. As he neared the familiar eight by ten den, the drone of the printer, now louder, made him curious. He looked around the adjacent hall. It was dark. No one around. He slowly walked to the printer and looked at the output tray. Sheets after sheets were sliding out and arranging themselves in a stack. He continued looking. This wasn't just a railway ticket or a smallish document. His hands, now a bit unsteady, reached out to one of the sheets on top. He turned it around.


He recoiled at the letters and on reflex, threw the sheet away as if he were holding a live snake. He quickly ruffled the other sheets off the tray. The same thing.

His heart pounding away, he ran out and pushed the door of his wing open. Hurtling down the stairs, he dashed to the ground floor front office area, hoping to catch at least one security guy. To his dismay, the entire bay was deserted, though the lights were on. Damn, they must all be in the TV room, watching some dumb movie. He raced to the TV room, only to be greeted by a locked door. Panting heavily, he turned around and quickly scanned the entire front office. Silence.

He quickly climbed the stairs to his floor; which was luckily on the first floor. To hell with the report, he had to dash out now. He went to his cubicle, but all his things had disappeared - his laptop, jacket, helmet...even his new laptop lug-bag.

He returned to the printer area. There were sheets of paper all over the place, each shouting the same thing out loud in bold letters. He clutched his head and stumbled back to a wall. Then a sudden brainwave. He quickly darted to the back of the printer and switched it off. The sound died for a second, but he didn't have enough time to even sigh in relief, as the bulky machine coughed and sputtered back to life and started printing again. He slowly got to his feet and lifted the top lid of the printer to peer inside.

Sheets continued pouring out of the printer, with a small change in the text - "HELP! PLEASE GET US OUT OF HERE"


Thursday, May 06, 2010

"Naam (nahi) gum jaayega..."

"Hiiii, how're you, pappulo?"

That's what my 7-year old daughter said the other day, as I picked up the phone. There are some names that your parents keep. And then, there are names that your children keep, for you.
I'm sure, even 15 years down the line, I'll pick up the phone and here's what my daughter will say first thing:

"How're you, pappulo?"

Monday, April 26, 2010

goofy kind of love...

You know, this weekend I took my daughter to a movie - How to train your dragon(3D). That the movie was thoroughly enjoyable, and that all kids must go watch it is something I reserve for another post (hopefully) :-), but there was a scene in the movie which made me smile, and think - hey, that was neat! For the way it was written. And for the way, the animators successfully brought out the feelings of blossoming love (perhaps) in a way that was so typical of a tom-boyish girl.

There's this guy, the main lead, a young boy named 'hiccup', who's training to be a dragon-slayer, but doesn't fit in. He feels he's too mild to be able to bring down dragons with his bow and arrow, machette, or axe..whatever. But everyday, he goes to a secret hideout instead, for a training of another kind (won't tell you, would spoil the fun). And there's this girl, who's his batch-mate, doesn't quite like his mildness, but is curious about him..wants to know more, so she follows him to his secret haunt one day. Long story short, she discovers something out of the world and experiences a joy-ride of sorts, something she's never experienced before.

And when the joyride ends, their eyes meet for second, and she punches his shoulder.
"This is for scaring me (which happens initially when she discovers what's in the hideout)".
He goes 'ouch', totally zapped at the anti-climax the exhilirating joy-ride offered.
And then before he can realize it, she quickly plants a peck on his cheek.
"this is for everything else," and disappears into the woods, leaving a confused, yet happy hiccup behind.

Now, nothing earth-moving, or 'lightning strike' about this scene, but I somehow felt it was very romantic. Clumsy...but romantic.

Speaking of which, there's this another scene from the movie Sunday - don't know if guys've watched it (Ayesha Takia & Ajay Devgun). Nothing great, routine murder mystery with bits of comedy thrown in - in short, watchable fare. But here again, the said scene makes you go, 'huh?', but also makes you smile.

The girl is a voiceover artist, mimicking just about any cartoon character thrown at her - Mickey, Donald, Tweety bird etc. Nice. And the guy's a cop. Yeah, that's how different they are(of course the guy behaves like a cartoon for the most part).

The scene goes like this - She's a prime suspect in a murder; things are not so good - and he's trying to help (by now there is some chemistry here, we know). They're sitting on a bench, the girl is looking sad and lost, he..he's just trying to figure out how to get her out of the mess. And to top it, the feelings they have for each other.

To pep up her spirits he asks her to do those voices she's so good at. At first she's hesitant, but opens up later... and he keeps on giving her lines that she mimics in voices like tweety, donald etc.

And then suddenly he says, 'I love you."
She goes 'I love you' the way donald duck would croon to daisy duck, "I loooooove you." (Imagine donald's voice, yeah?)
And then he says, " I love you too," poker faced.

She's about to mimic that, when she realizes what he's upto. And stops. He raises his eyebrows. She laughs this embarrassing laugh, which turns to a kind of bashful laugh, and he keeps on giving her the quizzical look. And then she mock-punches him.

I mean..come on - this kind of scene is a first, you've got to give it to them. It was cute, and at the same time silly. But nonetheless, very romantic. Made me smile. I know, die-hard romantics would 'pooh-pooh' this, but sometimes these clumsy-awkward scenes have their own charm.

Don't you think?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Long story shot!

Ajay looked up the cob-webbed staircase and coughed. He pointed his flash light and started climbing. He was aware that any creepy crawly creature would jump at him or wind itself round his legs any time now, but he was beyond all that. He was on a mission he had to accomplish at any cost. He climbed six stories quietly and finally emerged onto the small balcony-like open space that looked out at the city lights. After all that dust, the fresh air was life saving. He patted his back for having discovered this vantage point for himself.

The brief was simple. "Get the celebrity."

He unpacked his bag and brought out his equipment. He quickly checked and cross-checked if he had it all there. Then he holstered himself onto the ledge of the sit-out and waited. It was dark around him, and there weren't a lot of houses higher than this one. Good.

The Spiritz bar was bang opposite this building and he had a clear view of the entrance. He had earlier received a tip-off that Abhimanyu Saxena and his ex-girlfriend would be partying at the bar later in the evening. This was his do or die chance to get the guy. There was big money here, and he just couldn't afford to screw it up. Not with his track record.

He knew that Abhimanyu didn't venture out without his security, what with the current scandal he was in, but he could handle that. The building was so desolate, it would take them a while before they could get to him. And he had his escape route all planned out a couple of trips before. Now, all he had to do was wait.


It was close to 1 am when the couple walked out, she sloshed and hanging onto one of the security guys, and him not so sloshed, but a bit, nonetheless. Ajay smiled and took position, fixing his telescopic lens on the couple. He fixed his eye on Abhimanyu, when he saw a red stain appearing on the celebrity's chest, the size of a pea and then spreading. He took his eyes off, and looked across the street. There was commotion, of course. He didn't understand. This wasn't his work. He quickly darted his eyes around to rooftops of other buildings. Below, the security guys were already pointing to his building and shouting. Man, he'd better get out of there. He stuffed everything back in his back-pack and ran to the staircase. The water-pipe from the terrace, that was his escape.

He pushed the door of the terrace open and barged out, only to run into another figure who was running in. Both bumped into each other with such force, neither knew what was happening. Somewhere in the melee there was also a short cracking sound, like someone's bone snapping as they both went down on the floor, all hands and legs. Ajay realized he was on top of the other guy and scrambled up to his feet. The other guy lay still.

With his hands trembling, he shot his flash light at him. There was a gaping hole in the neck and the head was now in a pool of blood and flesh.

Despite the shock, years as a photographer made him pull out his camera, as he steadied his hands to capture the shooter. Then he thought, 'what's the bloody point?'

He rushed to the water-pipe and slid down into the darkness.

For the life of them, the cops couldn't figure out why a contract-killer would bump himself after shooting a celebrity. Conscientious guy, they thought.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The university campus was near empty. Not even 6 pm. But it was winter, and it was getting dark.

Adhikari, the head of the humanities wing, was alone in the staff room. He pulled out the hefty file from below the mountain of documents and other papers. He hated paperwork. He hated office-work. Hell, he hated students.

He had barely opened the file when he found a boy standing in front of him. He jumped.

"Idiot! Knock first."

"Sorry, sir. The door was open, and..."

"Hmm. Department?" Adhikari growled and adjusted his glasses over his nose.


Adhikari looked up.

"Which subject?"

"Sir, psychology."

"Hmmm. Year?"

He didn't remember the guy's face, and of course - he didn't care.

"Sir..I've completed final year, I plan to do my PhD." The guy mumbled.


There was silence for a while. Adhikari pushed back his chair, rose to snap the light on behind him, and sat back again.

"So, what do you want to research? Quick. You see? I'm working."

And then he mumbled something about students not interested in studying, bunking, so on and so forth.

"Sir, parapsychology."

Adhikari didn't look up. "Parapsychology?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what makes you think that it is a walk in the park to do research on the after-life, occult and the such?" He looked up at the guy in the eye now. The boy's lips quivered.

Adhikari continued. "You look like you'll faint, right now. Parapsychology indeed. You think it is all fun?"

"No, sir..but.."

"But what? You need to put it down on paper. Make a proposal. Stating your reasons to do research on this subject. You understand? And then we have to see if you're fit enough to do research. And, what is the purpose of this research etc. You don't walk in here, like you were asking pocket money from your father." Adhikari went back to his file.

"Sir, I've been wanting to do research on this subject for so long now. It's my passion, and now I have the resources too. So..."

"What resources, huh?" Adhikari was clearly annoyed now. "What resources? You think this is some kind of school homework you would do, after ...what do you kids say - yeah, googling it? Huh?"

"No, sir."


"Sir, I'm Ravi Puranik."

Adhikari laughed. He didn't know whether to shout at this boy or pity him. "So? Are you connected to some political family? Stating your name, as if that is enough..."

Then he stopped suddenly and looked at the boy closely.

Puranik smiled, for the first time. A sad smile, but a smile nonetheless.

"Yes, sir. I see now that you remember."

(The Times, January 2000) Final year student of psychology jumps to his death from the 6th floor of department building

Adhikari wanted to swallow, but his throat had turned into this blocked tunnel of some sort, and everything else outside and inside of it had frozen.

And just then, the lights went out in the neighborhood. The staff room fell silent. Remained that way for a few moments.


No answer.