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Day 3


What’s in a day?!  Happy birthday to Mom. Wreathe of sun blistering in the smoky and billowing cloud to ring cheers after three days of dullness and mood afflicted by anhedonia. Blame it on the cyclone wrecking havoc for three days and splinter of rain squawking on the window. The worse is to sit by the window like a prisoner locked behind bars and hesitant to venture far with the fear to be assailed by gun water shots.

The cyclone ban lifted. I sidled on the deserted road splayed by tree branches crushed in mound and treading to besieged by electric wires splattered all over the surface.  A sense of snatched freedom and liberation to see the deserted road and streets. I miss the Indian monsoon. Every grain of rain harkens me to the years of bliss in Mumbai and Pune, the joy of wading in the rain and drenched completely, sticky jean and tee fitting me like glue. I cannot sit at home glowering with pain and constantly whine about the weather. The laptop for company and work occupy the mind’s space.

I started to read the Sequel to Shantaram, The Mountain Shadow in the start of January which took me two weeks plus to wrap the book which is a big let down and tedious writing with the expansive length not helping it at all. It’s nothing like the epic and heart-pounding Shantaram and in this one, David Gregory Roberts attempted to inject the same old scenario of underworld marrying spirituality. The book is good only in its description of places like Colaba, Worli and Haji Ali in Mumbai.

Speaking about Mumbai. The place that I love to death and someone wrote in the comment in the earlier post on how I am staying far away despite my writing is influenced by both Mumbai and Pune. Time is skittering away from me. Truth is that I am weighing on India’s option but one dampener is the exorbitant rent in the city. How I wish to be back! There are so many things constantly raging in my head and one would be to be back in the city for three months on an observant mode of where I stand, networking-wise, connecting and reconnecting with people and sorting out opportunities to see how things pan out.  The best friend is back in the city from Australia to be with his wife and feeling a sliver of jealousy on how he is in the city while I am not.

Carpe diem! It just surfaced inside my mind and amazed how our brain pushes things with force for a good reason to challenge the self. How I have changed over time! There was a point where I would follow my heart unwary of consequences. Circumstances make you a bit too wise after events to live in sense of comfort which is a big human flaw.  The moment fear cripples us, we stop evolving or experiment with life. The usual old self-lingering on the borderline is what makes us real and one needs to put a break on being dead chuffed with our plate and better go hungry than stare at the morsels.

I cannot do without my agenda diary and tried to shop at some places but options didn’t sate the appetite. The finicky and obsessive person in me needs a big diary beyond the normal size to fill in the huge space. I visited a bookshop yesterday and gleamed at an executive diary. I flipped it open to see the daily agenda pages printed in a single column. Bad luck!  There are so many things that will happen on the work front, one after the other and the diary is my only solace to sit, plan and to sieve through. Those agenda applications on i-phone or smart phone don’t really work for me.

A cup of strong chai can do wonder for me and the best gift for someone to give is a bundle of teabags. A friend from UK sent a box of Typhoo tea bag for me which is filling my body like serum since the start of the week. I also got two packs of Masala Chai which someone brought from India. Bout of tiredness got the better of me yesterday and gulped a cup of tea before crashing on bed. Dinner went for a toss. Mom kept knocking on the door to jostle me out of my dreams for food. It never happened. I slept like a baby after aeon to squint the eyes open and harrumph with physical and spiritual triumph. Yoga and late lunch followed. Thanks to the universe for wine and whisky stored at home.  Swill of alcohol  will be hot company at night and cuddle myself with a book, lazy around in peace. I did a guest post last week on Balaka’s blog. You can check it here.

Have a lovely weekend

V

 

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Pune Memoirs (III): Lights, Camera, Action!


Pune Memoirs

Third year

FTII, Law College Road, 2006:

Splatter of mist and icy cold morning felt like a chimera conspiring with forces to unwrap a perfect adventure this January as the wind fluttered in ruffling burst dripping the long, unkempt hair off the straight head into a mound. Cold seeped through the pained legs thrust on its own and plodding heavily at a stretch from FC Road to finally land right in front of India’s premier film institute, FTII. I strode past the gate with a triumphant air like an image flash pan on the face. I was broke. I didn’t stand a chance to hail a rickshaw but passion drove me on the feet for three consecutive days. The perks of turning into an Assistant Director for a diploma film shoot overrode all money consideration. I swayed to the tune of breaking bones, broke, tired but passionate.

A couple of days back, a magic sms landed in my inbox and Gyanesh, now a sound engineer in the film industry, asked me to come to the institute to discuss a diploma project. Films was my life and aspirations. I walked inside to meet Gyanesh and was introduced to Shailesh Sir, the short film’s director. The dreams almost went for a toss when asked if I hail from communications background. Clearly, I wasn’t but made the cut for being friends with Gyanesh, with whom I worked on a diploma project a year earlier.

I was elated to be part of the crew. Early morning, we hopped on the bus straight to the hospital in Warje. Life has strange way to throw you in the high tide sea to swim and turning into an early bird that felt like a miraculous lullaby. I remember tottering with the huge film equipments from the van towards the spacious hospital’s floor upstairs.  Convinced that I have to make it as an Assistant Director whose job is to ensure crew and equipments are in place, I wouldn’t give a tinker’s curse. Shailesh Sir handed the continuity sheet in my hand and briefed me on ticks and notes to be penned once a shot is canned for the next schedule, actors’ lines and the follow up. I was living a dream and couldn’t believe everything craved for was becoming true. Three days of awesomeness, waking up to the lark , to push myself to the edge and almost spending an exhaustive journey till the wee hours at the hospital surrounded by actors and medical students scampering their way for the shoot to look the part.

Inside the sprawling FTII campus. Image credit: Google India/Indian Express.

There was tiredness in my soles and knees but the inner determination made me sail through when I realized that if one has passion in the belly, the sky is the limit to make work fun. Days when we wrapped the shoot past midnight and crashing at FTII made the last year in college bliss. We couldn’t afford being bored or amused on Day One for I remember some kids storming towards me asking, “Hero kaun hai (who is the hero?) I smiled and said, it’s a short diploma project but they were adamant and convinced that some big star will come. To get rid of them, I vaguely remembering telling them SRK and Aishwarya Rai will soon join before sneaking away.

Of course, some very cute girls and medical students wearing the white coat traipsed their way to look the authentic part. I remember some FTII crew asking their friends about my identity since I was never seen at the institute and hearing Assistant for AD made me almost leap with joy and marveled in silence. During the break, I remember overhearing someone-he must have been below 17 and with the look of a kid telling in hushed tone how I don’t have it in me to become an actor. It was amusing and irked me at the same time. But, now as I hark back, I smile at the incident for he was right and yours truly never made it due to the dearth of initiatives. I remember A who is a Marathi film actor once urged me during our chai conversation in Savera to try for more diploma projects to create a platform for myself.

Day one was also the time I met and made a good friend in Anuya Bhagwat who was a student of acting at FTII and who essayed the role of a doctor in the short film. I remember the first thing she asked me was whether I had tea or something to eat. It’s another thing that we spoke only a few words at the shoot but became friends at Savera for I didn’t realize we had common friends outside the world of films. Today, I look with pride when I see her going great guns as a leading lady in Tamil cinema and she also appeared in the Big Boss regional version.One thing which I enjoyed doing as an AD was to stroll among the crew and offering tea to everyone, traipsing at length of the hospital’s sprawling surface.

Image credit: Google India. A view of FTII hostel.

The best thing about the three days was dabbling into so many things, doing the running around, following instructions by standing behind my director, smoke break, sitting in a corner on the stairs to relieve the feet and turning into the boom operator panning the equipment to hover precisely above the actor’s head. It was a hospital sequence. The actor was Anurag Singh whom you may have seen acting opposite Anil Kapoor as the main lead in Subhash Ghai’s Black and White. During the short film and diploma project, Anurag played a terminally ill patient. Over the few days, we became good friends bonding over one love, cinema. The scene vividly struck the mind. Anurag was lying on the bed and opposite to him was a child playing a blind girl. I placed some yummy apples on the bed as part of the scene. The dialogue read in Hindi, ‘Walk slowly, make three to four steps, stop and sit,” Anurag mouthed in a gentle and emphatic manner to the child. There is a genuineness in the dude and one could see it in the subtle scene which reflects on the soul doing it for acting is a medium that brings you closer to divinity and humanity. I remember Anurag offering me an apple to munch and we were in the middle of the shoot. The arm was paining and was chided by my director for the lack of concentration that pushed me to make an excruciating effort to raise and hunch the boom above Anurag’s head with flash and sound panning towards his mouth.

I realized how the innocence in kids equips them with the flair to deliver a natural performance and unfazed by camera or flashes. The child obeyed the director’s instruction and responded to Anurag’s dialogue interaction but was never intimidated. It’s sheer beauty and divinity. The first time I came close to the nitty-gritty, the film process of the director wielding the megaphone to shout, ‘Lights! Camera! Action!’ and to get the scene right with, ‘Repetition’ to assuage voices and whispers with, ‘Silence.’ Yes, the timid guy in me got to shout at people outside the room who disturbed the scene. It was the last day of shoot or one day before.

Probably, on the last day of the shoot, I was able to observe more closely a doyen of acting and a genius who contributed immensely to Marathi television and films, the late Smita Talwalkar. Ma’am played the mother of Anurag. I remember the scene and the day right now. A Monday. It was the last scene where actors donning the white dress as doctors and rushing in the middle of herky-jerky camera movements. Smita-ji effortlessly played the role of a mother who lost her son, succumbing to cancer in the last shot. It was pure education watching her perform, the subtlety and intensity in her eyes expressing grief and tears dropping. I had a very brief chat with the lady and remember on the first day of shoot, she returned my greeting with a genuine and affable smile. I was too afraid to strike a conversation with the TV csar, perhaps because of the star aura and the respect she commanded as an artist.

There was one guy I remember at the shoot with whom I became friends with and we would wade out, walk at length to smoke since it wasn’t allowed inside the hospital premise.  We spoke about cinema and the future of acting, genre and how a door was blown open for us at FTII.  The bus trip back to the institute after the scenes were canned turned out to be long, caught in the traffic swirl but made smooth with singing and jokes inside the bus, which flitted past a wedding and me in enthusiastic mood told Shailesh Sir that we could have gone there for food. In jolly mood, he said that they will ask who are you. I was like, ‘A star matlab banne wala hai cineme ka bohot bade star (I will become a  huge superstar). The silly banter ended with him telling me we won’t be let in and the marriage folks will tell, “Pehle star bana tab aana (First you become a star and then you come.”

It took us to the last day of the shoot on Monday past the graveyard shift and we packed up beyond 2 a.m. Tired like hell.  I could never imagine to sustain throughout the full stretch but did. It showed that passion can take us through the thick and thin, beating all thoughts of boredom.  During one of those shoots past might, there was one senior person called Mama and with whom we would hang around after shoot time in the bus and at FTII. Mama was talkative, high and a jolly good fellow who could sense the potential in me. We are speaking in a circle with smoke in hand and he told everyone that I have it in me to become an actor and a director. He was truthful and saw the passion through my eyes. But, you know the story, right. Kuch nahin hua! The best was another guy who was already sloshed, a student at the institute and constantly cussing in Hindi to bitch at everyone person who wasn’t there.  Someone remarked that something is wrong with this dude, spouting venoms, finding fault with everyone and seems there is no good human on earth. I remarked in a jolly spirit, “Usko mandir leke jao, acha insaan milega (He should visit a temple to meet a good soul).

The starry night ended in style like the climax of a heart-pounding film. A tall shadow sashayed in front of us and the towering persona blessed with a baritone voice tightly shook the hands. I almost fainted and couldn’t believe it was true. The late Tom Alter who was one of FTII’s patron inquired about our film shoot in the blink-of-an-eye appearance and speaking in pure, shuddh Hindi before disappearing not before telling he will go back to Mumbai tomorrow but will be around. The night and shoot ended in style. I crashed at FTII in Gyanesh’s room on the night and surrounded by huge trees sprawling over the windows blown wide open.

The shoot remains one of my most prized memory in Pune which I fondly remember. Mama-ji and Shailesh Sir wanted to shoot a video of mine, mouthing the dialogues of Amitabh Bachchan but never happened. Neither did the party post the film shoot. I became busy with college and stuff. Once, I remember meeting Anurag on his bike at Deccan and he called me out, asking to visit the institute sometimes. I could have built up on that but shall not mull over things that never happened. Regret is the antidote to hope and passion. Cinema lives forever in my veins. Never say never for I shall never hang out my boots. I am forever acting in my mind. Grateful to the world and friends in Pune is one thing that shall stay forever.

With love

V

 

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Shots of the week


Hola! The first clicks from the i-phone and sharing some of them on the blog, colorful fish and fountain stream I spotted during the week. Camera shots are so much fun and adding more zing by putting them here, something that I haven’t done for a long time. Hope you enjoy and tell me what do you think.

 

Love

V

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Boxed up! Only cottons are stuffed


An intricate woven pattern of human interaction knotted together, friendship, liking, hate, defeat, angst, pain and falling in and out of love. A cornucopia of bonding that draws people together in equal intensity be it love or hate. There are very few who can accept us the way we are but there are ginormous folks wouldn’t stop in pulling our strings. An inflated ego is what people suffer from. It’s an ailment, a virus of self-hate, prejudices, and negativity with the know it all who are so anal in their thinking. I came across this quote on Facebook that spoke directly to me and stirred my mind on how people want to confine you in their box of shame.

A tale of over-egging the bud to fit into their box of what is morally right or wrong with the rules that no one dares to question. Status quo works for them for there is an inherent fear ingrained in the psyche on calamity strucking their existence. The truth is that they triumph on their zilch value and lacking the gall to take the lead in life while at the same time, claiming to be the new age saints making your life.  Oh! How much they care for you! Right! They got a long list on worshipping the Gods or giving wing to their unfliched blind faith, M for marriage for they are always right with the lame explanations or prejudice that blurs the third eye called intellect. There are hate mongers, who could kill someone for belonging to a different religion or caste and nurturing prejudices against women.

You will meet them for they are all over the place like mushrooms and sprouts in the garden.  The Shakespearean palimpsest who protect the human created society as its guardian and the moment you have an alternative opinion which belies their limited existence, they are out to rip your skin apart. In no time, they don the garb of God and at times, the vilest agent who only want you to nod to their obnoxiously hardcore opinion. Wait! It’s not a viewpoint but a judgment imposed. Negativity is the order of the day in today’s times. It’s so easy to detect the negative vibes that surround us and percolates in the air like viruses. Cock the eyes around to find them lurking like ghouls, the social media trolls.

A world teeming with hypocrisy and its incarnate wield a certain power to clip the wings of the free spirits for the words, soaring and shining in the sky is like rocket science to them. They lack the intellect and positive inclination to see things in an open manner because for them live and let live has no meaning, whatsoever. The truth is that such people lack the spine and has always worn blinkers forcefully on their eyes by the society we live in. It is the fear, blind beliefs and eyes closed coupled with a lack of creativity that pushes them further down the box.

Now, I don’t know how to shove this box down their asses for such people will never change. The brains are so fucked up and forget about being manipulated coz they have been pulled in this dangerously silly game by the men and women they revere. Society and it’s us.  Our ancestors are souls that we look up to. But, are they flawless? I am afraid not. The people who have been there before us have imposed so many beliefs on us and if today we nurture prejudices, stuck on such archaic beliefs and adhered norms, it’s because of our choice or willingness to sink in mediocrity and lacking the spine to explore or question the rules.

The day you choose to go against the same people and their fucked up attitude, well, be prepared to be the villain or be badmouthed with all form of names calling. You will be vilified for upsetting the balance of nature. I have seen it very closely among family and friends who glorify rules and every argument or debate on changing the rules are scorned upon. The same, old  crappy argument on one’s need to get married before its too late, honoring archaic rules or rituals and protecting one’s religion or caste against the master of conspiracies. It’s a real shame but, at the same time, it whittles down to education, lack of exposure or openness. As a society, we have become so shy in opening ourselves to others and our reluctance to read on competing issues which is different from our belief system, be it holy books or the vast expanse of ideologies.

It’s about your individuality. There is no one like you. Don’t kow down to the rules and the moment you do so, the self is crushed into tiny pieces. Don’t hollow to the hallow rules. Honestly, I don’t know how to tackle over-aggressivity at times but with people who don’t see things with a clear view, I normally avoid discussion, particularly when it comes to their caste or religious supremacy. I laugh silently at them for no matter which part of the world they live, such people can never grow with the dearth of an open mind. It is one of the reasons that I am slowly cutting chords and maintaining a distance with even close family or relatives.  It’s about the principles and values I believe in. There is no point fighting with the virus of negativity for it sucks the energy like vampires.

Heard about energy vampires? It is present in the human form. Don’t fit into this box. Be yourself if it means alienating from this label or box called society which has no scope for growth. At times, I lose my head and want to hit at such stupidity but there is a voice gently touching me not to be swayed by this negative force. Push your might and grow out of the box to taste freedom for it’s better to feel the fresh air than being stuffed like cotton.

Love

V

 

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Pune Memoirs: Pashan, a party and bonding over Hogwarts


Pune,

Third Year, 2005

Pashan:

I first met Tootoo in Savera. The year was 2005.  A thick creamy layer painted the cloud and rain sprinkled in the dense air like an infatuated teenager falling in and out of love. The first city drizzle brought comfort and triggered the mood reading newspaper, smoking and gulping coffee in abandon. The fair Amreekan looking angrez Indian dude speaking in fluent Marathi walked towards me and asked to join me at the table in the smoking zone at Savera. I never knew that one meeting would turn out to be a long cherished friendship where he would often push me most of the time to give my best shot during the lows and restored my confidence as a person. Tootoo was a magician.

We bonded over smoke on the day, guzzling countless cups of coffee and discussing national and international issues, ranging from politics, economics, corruption, and cinema. Tootoo was always a well read person whom I always looked up to and told him so. He is very passionate about Economics and would articulate his passionate views on any subject which serves as fodder for thought or like he called it, intelligent conversations. I remember sharing with him on that day about plans to move away from FC Road and put my ass at Pashan that offered the needed serenity for the soul.  Believe it or not, the popular FC Road was getting to the head with the insane traffic growing in leaps by the day. He told me to drive cautious from Sus Road to FC, which is quite a relatively long distance and during morning traffic since the monsoon will soon strike.

One Monday morning, I shifted to the new apartment in Pashan and met my new flatmates Chetan and his girlfriend N. In the evening, the brush of heavy rains heckled us. There was no option but to go for dinner in Chetan’s car, at a hotel which is a walk away from the apartment, to gorge on mouth-watering and juicy Pav Bhaji. Over time, the dish became a favorite. Pashan was love at first sight for its sheer tranquillity and serene walks to the supermarket, cyber market and row of shops falling under one roof. It soon became a routine but pleasurable gait at a stretch.

The sudden shift to Pashan hit Adi who was on holiday outside India like a tornado on his head. At first, he thought that it was the usual lame and crude joke that I am famous for but when he got a hang on things in our sms exchange, my phone inbox was flooded with gaalis and cuss words to express disappointment and sadness. After all, we would no longer be staying together and booze every Saturday but we did.

Difficult to fathom in today’s times that we forked 5k as rent for a fully furnished 2 BHK offering a picturesque and alluring city view from the spacious balcony. I enjoyed watching the vast scenery offered by the stunning hills and lake view in the morning, at sunset and nightfall. Driving at leisurely pace and most of the time wandering aimlessly on the scooter was a luxury to gaze at the scenery, huge trees and breezy air fluttering the hair as one waded past the University Circle to NDA Road, verging to the right at Sus Road that offered seamless joy. Traffic was not dreaded from University Circle to Pashan, unlike today.

View of Sus Road. Image credit: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/120355067.jpg

I recall Chetan’s parents visited from Bihar. One afternoon, all the three of us sprang on the feet to get rid of bottles of beer, Vodka, and whisky in heap. N shifted to a friend’s place but not without making sure that the house became speckled clean. It was wonderful to spend time with uncle and aunty who never interfered into my life but also respected the personal space. At the same time, they went to an extra length, making yummy food and the mithai treat. Chetan shifted to my room for a couple of days before flying to Malaysia with his parents.

Life lived to the lees. A family that travels together know for sure how to charm and woo hearts bringing back a new member. I first tasted Absolut flavored Vodka with Chetan as we bid farewell to his parents.  He always sported a genuine smile on his face and not once saw him angry. One guy who bore no streak of selfishness and never flinched to share his most expensive Vodka with me, saying cheerfully, “Yeh hum dono ke liye laya (I brought it for us)” on seeing my hesitation to pour a drink.

The only time that he got pissed off with me and rightfully so, was when I forgot to switch off the stove a couple of times. I must have left my brain somewhere. One Saturday, I got a call from Chetan while driving back home. He sounded serious for the first time and blunted told me that I forgot to turn off the stove. The time I reached home, the smile was back on his face to cheerfully say, “Vishal, please, gas ko haath mat lagao (Please don’t touch the gas).” There was no aggression or anger but made his point in a respectful manner. It’s one rare trait in a human being. I mean, it’s very easy to get pissed off and shout but dunno how he was able to keep calm, something that I try to learn.

Magic splayed into our lives. The Potter and Hogwarts craze didn’t spare anyone among our generation going bonkers for the next book hitting the market. Aparna was my classmate and a good friend who was an even bigger Harry Potter fan, who stayed not too far away from me which was probably 5 km distance. The love for Potter magic made us click as friends and the best thing was that she was staying at Panchavati which is one of the most fabulous places in Pune which I drooled over. It was such a treat to careen over the spotlessly clean road, serenaded by high rises, brick walls, and trees offering a shade bristling the hair and smearing the face with the cold breeze.

Pure delight to sashay one’s way at Panchavati swiping on the road left, right and center much before Tinder entered the life of millennials. I would often visit Aparna’s house with Adi and at times, popping alone to borrow her vast treasure and the latest HP collection, gulping chai, chatting over everything under the sun, harmless college gossip, movies and of course the world of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Ah! Days of bliss as one hearken back to the near perfect college days.

The perk of having friends bonding over Harry Potter became a regular trip over time to our chum’s house with Adi and a couple of friends who would often go to any length to pull my legs over the latest antics at the birthday bash. Drunk over Vodka.  Everyone pretended to offer me a shot than chai and wearing a pricelessly flared expression on the face.

Punning hoochie-coochie days and I lived to tell endless tales that now gives a feeling of driving a wedge between the years of bliss, friends and the present times. The fleeting days seemed to belong to another world.  2005 was nearing its end and one feels like ballooning in the air when an unexpected invite dropped into the sms inbox. I am lucky, I sold a guitar to strum the heart’s string and got a party invite, I felt like singing.

Stuti was a good friend and the sms read a housewarming party offered by Shivangi, our senior in college. It came as a whirlwind of joy and I swooped into action in the night hailing a rickshaw, zigzagging from one place to the other and flitting past apartment blocks hither and dither like spiders to finally land at the right place. A fun party with friends, guzzling Vodka and strictly refusing to try the cocktail of rum, whisky or wine that would send me straight into the ‘heaven of hell’. I was in no mood for that. I tried tiny and timid dance steps but slouched back in the chair.  I instead traipsed on the balcony to enjoy a smoke with my glass in hand. I promised someone a date in my over-enthusiastic sozzled mood which never happened.

I love watching the crowd gyrating and charming everyone with their dance moves but something far exciting was brewing on the balcony. Nopes, no one was making out passionately. There was this funny chick sloshed to the hilt that someone had to snatch away her phone and she was screeching thinking it was her boyfriend calling. Her friend calmed this storm and told that she is so drunk thinking that every caller is her boyfriend.  ‘It’s my boyfriend…let me speak to him…why did you take away my phone?’ And, I thought no one could beat me in getting high in the flick of time and hallucinating. Quite a fun sight to see someone high on the booze of life and had an imaginary boyfriend on the phone. It’s something that my brain has captured which I shall never forget during my Pune days.

Love

V

                         

 

                           

 

 

 

 

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inked on the heart


A letter penned,

ink poured,

writing with blood,

love flies,

downpour of emotions,

traversing seas, deserts and ridges,

conveying emotions,

ached fingers,

still worth the effort,

drumming beats,

volcano of thoughts,

bringing hearts closer,

the messenger,

don’t fire it,

who stole my pen?

blank pages caressed,

adorned with words,

stamp of love,

memory is just a mirror,

make it real,

slid the envelope into the letter box,

make joy exuberant,

worth living for.

With love

V

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Fiction: A riotous night and the dead Goddess


Skitter of light and blitz. Of color canvas. A bevy of partygoers swirling and scrumming in line like diligent kids at the Opera House. Drizzle of light caressing the foam in the sky and white line hiding the line of copulating stars in the vast sky.  Night fall exudes a mysterious look. Silent owls tottering for the kill.

Men and women. Young boys and girls swooning as if hunting for a prey. Decked in short skirts, spunky jeans, hippie hair and twisted locks holding each other tightly as if it’s doomsday.  Fleeting voices,  warble, and footsteps scampering in the moat and hopping in the narrow alley to heckle the plump and bald security guarding the fortress, intricate wooden door. Some could have caressed his twirling mustache to sneak inside.

The linoleum floor shone brightly in a speckled bright wood colors and tiny dots of spangle blended with muddy footprints. The singer wore a backless black sleeve that grabbed eyeballs of male ogling at her and women spouting fireball of jealousy. The voice screeched at decibel level to charm pigeons off the branches. Alcohol and beer guzzle at every table and Lonavla chikki popped inside mouths. The Mumbai skyline paled in comparison to the jarring voice and hushed tones among revelers, stealing silly pecks, long smooch and sensual caress.

The Queen’s necklace spread and skated its might to witness party life in the city, petty thieves planning the next move, silent lovers sky gazing to untie the lace and innocent hands flitting past loose skirts and blouse witnessed by the naked sea, iconic black-and-yellow cabs swirled in the traffic and underworld planning the killing. Cops were bored and pretended to look the other side by chasing flies in the hot South Mumbai summer.

Drunken souls traipsed their might inside the pub to and fro, waiters wore a bedazzled look at the sight of skimpy but adorable women flirting nonchalantly with them for their favorite drink. The night was a drudgery for some single men like me bored and gulping alcohol to curse their luck for not landing hot women and cuddle raging like a storm in the head. Something was brewing and boiling, not just the sizzler served piping hot on plate.

Cards shuffled and flickered on the table to change hands within span of seconds. Women paraded on stage in transparent lingerie and gyrating their seductive curvy moves to the latest pop songs as urn of money slung on stage.  Discreet heads lolled at the tables, dance floor and guests wriggling their way among the crowd. Pack of notes sifled on row of tables flicked expertly and swiftly greasing palms of greedy waiters, bouncers and single men and women game for a night of swing in rooms upstairs. No soul could decode business traveling like light in the  Opera House. No business is unfettered by the shady world, black turned into white, pink became crimson and the world wouldn’t get a stench of flesh trade flourishing freely like the alcohol on the rocks.

The noise reached decibel level stomping wildly on the ground, barman expertly flicking the vodka shots and Scotch to make everyone high while cocaine, hashish, coke, and LSD smacked its way inside where control was on the loose.  Strangers turned into momentary lovers, waltzing discreetly in open corners for rumpy-pumpy acts, changing partners and drenching in a trance. The mood was exuberantly set. The perfect ambiance glittered. Wicked smile on chaffed lips. Routine business. Let the kids swap to the tunes and not deny pleasure. Worship the phallus. The trade thrives for money never lies. Deceit is just another name.

Deal done inside and outside. Holy baba feared and loathed by many but still worshipped by millions where ingenuity sealed the lid to sprinkle blessing on followers, Jai Mata Di, he thundered. Caressing his grey beard and flipping a coin on million followers in his darbar, he made a sign with his eyes, pressed the left one. War will be declared in the city. Politics got the signal. Riot will be their treat. Statue of the revered leader’s wife was blackened in the crowded center as thick stench and odor wafted in the atmosphere. Buses and cars smeared into holy fire as offering to appease the Gods. Humans and vehicles splattered into fire resembling ghee to perform ablutions.   The holy sacrifice for the mother, the unsung Goddess of her devotees worshiping humans. Blind love and the lust for bloodshed wreathed on the tarred roads.

A night of reckoning. The luminous night, sparkling moon and raucous noise made by music, lovers, and rave wore thin at the next fall of darkness. Deal went horribly wrong. Hands of devils wore its shadow like a veil. The huge bag and money parcels pocked with crores landed in the wrong hand who fled the country, bribing airport officials and hid inside an invisible cave with filthy riches. War was declared. After all, the kingdom has to be saved. Factionalism, underworld, rich babas, bureaucrats and politicians slug it out on roads and streets. Riot spread like wildfire in the city. Intelligentsia blamed it on the blackened face of the dead Goddess to her millions of children. She was a sensitive soul and sentiments hurt, they languished.

The night club-cum-shady hub was razed by the BMC and the place scanned to uncover the crime. Revellers were harassed, slapped and assaulted but the treasure has long disappeared. Powertoni decided to wreak havoc.  Sins to be atoned. Sour revenge. No party anymore, drugs were taken on the roads and rave banned. A sly game splayed. The pub and ecstasy have gone sanskari (religious) with men and women, party animals and sexualized souls wearing orange robe, chanting hymns and selling agarbatis, sacred noodles blessed by the Lord himself, shuddh Makhni condom, shuddh Makhni noodles,  shuddh Makhni honey,  shuddh Makhni garments and shuddh Makhni concocted with ghee, going back to the days of purity. Doomsday was yet to strike. A matter of crores lost and buried.

Love

V