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Monday, September 5, 2016

The Extra Besan Laddus


After struggling for five minutes with the door lock, finally she was able to open the door. Shraddha was still getting used to the new house and everything that came with it. As she entered, she glanced across the hall and on the corner study table sat a Ganesha idol. In spite of the transparent plastic cover that he was draped in, he was beaming in a yellow Dhoti and seemed quite happy. She placed the bag with the decoration materials on the table and hurried towards the bed room. After all, it was her favorite festival the next day and she had lots to prepare.

She stood in her pajamas, glancing across her balcony. The hot ginger tea felt soothing in her throat. There were no Ganapati Pandals anywhere around their apartment building. The air carried no scent of festivity and all she could see was the jammed up Outer Ring Road.  She felt her enthusiasm in the preparations for the festival slowly depleting. It was six months since Shraddha and her husband Anirudh had moved in to the new place, yet she had not made any acquaintances in the new locality. Her so called nine hours job, which usually took twelve hours of her day, considering the Bangalore traffic, and the lazy weekends had left her with no friends in the neighborhood. Her heart ached as she thought of her home at Pune, the home where she was born and brought up. The city where she had married the man she loved. Love makes you do things which you never thought you could and the same love had brought her to Bangalore. Both of them were new at their workplace, with fewer vacations to avail, so they had decided to save their vacations for Diwali. No matter how hard she tried to cheer herself up, her mind kept throwing the images of Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations back home. Standing there, brooding at the gloomy sky, she found herself torn between the love for her hometown and the love for her husband. She found it hard to admit but she regretted every part of her decision to move to the new place. A tiny tear drop fell and the warm tea cup felt heavier in her hand.

She dumped the empty cup in the kitchen sink and reluctantly moved to the hall. She looked at the Ganesha idol and she felt like a pair of eyes was looking at her, hoping that she would smile. She decided not to call her parents, until she felt little cheerful. She decided to keep herself busy.

She took her mobile and called her husband.

“Hey Ani”

Haan Bol Shraddha.”

“When are you planning to come home?”

“Did you reach already?”

“Yeah, I left office early today.”

“I will be at home by eight o’clock. Do you want me to buy some sweets on the way back home?”

“No Ani. Just come home early.”

She kept her mobile aside with a sigh. The fact that Anirudh did not believe in God never bothered their relationship. However, she had never felt the need of his presence in the preparations of the festival, until that day.

The sun had set and the hall grew darker.

“So Bappa it’s just you and I. I’ll prepare your favorite Besan Laddus and later I’ll do the decorations for you.”

She smiled and so did the pair of painted eyes.

She walked into the kitchen, turned on the FM in her mobile and glanced at the kitchen shelves. In next few minutes, all the ingredients were set and the flame was on. The smell of ghee filled the kitchen as it melted in the hot pan. In a different pan she added Besan flour and she kept stirring it, until it was evenly brown. Then she added the melted ghee to the flour and kept stirring it. This was her favorite sweet dish. As she continued stirring, the task felt rhythmical and soothing. Once there was the nutty fragrance of well roasted Besan, she added cardamom. Later she brought the pan down and let it cool for while before adding powdered sugar. Once the mix was ready, she spread it on the plate.

 “Left office? I am preparing Besan Laddus”, she texted Anirudh.

She brought the cooled mixture to the hall, switched on TV and started making the Laddus; each one had to be perfectly spherical. She kept occasionally glancing at the wall clock, while the news channel displayed colorful Ganapati Pandals in Pune. The clock ticked 8:00 PM and her phone had not yet beeped with Anirudh’s reply.

A plate full of 21 Laddus was ready. A sense of satisfaction filled her and she felt calmer. She placed the Ganesha idol at the center of the table and started the decoration. By the time she was done, Bappa sat there, full of content. His eyes looked at her, determined, like it was going to be an unforgettable Ganehsa Chaturthi for her.
It was 8:30 and there was no sign of Anirudh. Restlessness crept into her. She called him and there was no answer.
******

8:45 PM   

“Hello”

“Where are you Ani? You are late.”

“Hello Babhi, this is Rohit. Anirudh has left his mobile on his desk. I didn’t notice as it seems to be on a total-silence mode. I just saw it blink with your call and realized that he has left his phone here.”

 “Oh okay. No problem. He might have left it there in a hurry. Thanks Rohit.”

“I’ll drop by your place tomorrow and give it to him. By the way I heard you guys have got a Ganesha idol.”

“Yes Rohit. We will have a simple pooja tomorrow. Please do come.”

9:00 PM

Main door was open and she was pacing across the hall. The restlessness had turned to anger. Her heart blamed that this wouldn’t have happened if they were in Pune. Meanwhile, the cooker whistled in the kitchen for the third time signalling that the rice was ready for dinner.

10:00 PM

The anger had turned to helplessness. She felt lost in a strange city. Her mind kept imagining all possible things that might have gone wrong with him. She withheld the desire to call her parents, as they would panic. She hesitated to reach out to Rohit. What if it was nothing and Anirudh came home in a while. She did not want to look like a paranoid wife.

She stood in front of the Ganesha idol and prayed.

“Ganapati Bappa. I don’t know where he is. Please bring him back home safe. I am scared. I’ll prepare extra Besan Laddus. In fact, I’ll prepare it for every year, for your festival. Please bring him back to me safe.”

She sat on the floor laying her head on the sofa. Tear drops rolled on her cheeks and she closed her eyes, assuring herself that God would bring Anirudh back home and everything would be fine in her life. At that moment, it did not matter which city she was in and whether her husband believed in God or not.

******

10:30 PM

 “Shraddha.”

She was startled when Anirudh woke her up. She couldn’t believe that she had dozed off. She hugged him tight and thanked her God.

“Hey honey. I am sorry. I panicked you.”

“Where were you? What took you so long? I was worried. How could you forget your mobile at office? ”

“My mobile is at office? Thank God. I thought someone stole it in the bus.”

“Well, now you know. You did not answer my other questions.”

“I left office after few minutes of our call. I had taken the BMTC bus. After a while I couldn’t find my phone and I freaked out. I sort of made a fuss in the bus, assuming someone stole it. Then I went to the police station and lodged a complaint. Then I took an auto from there.”

“You could have called me from someone’s phone and told about all this.”

“Ummm. I don’t remember your number.”

“Seriously?!”

“I am sorry honey. I promise. It won’t happen again. Tell me how shall I make it up to you?”

“Let’s go back to Pune.”

“How about something easier?”

“There’s no negotiation.”

She looked at the Ganesha idol and he seemed to be smiling. She conveyed her secret gratitude to her Bappa and headed towards the kitchen, in an attempt to show her false-anger.

He kept walking behind her towards the kitchen, with an attempt to pacify her.

"I am impressed by the decorations that you have managed to do alone and also the Laddus.”

"Thank you. Shall we start with the Chakli?”

"What? Now?!"

“I am kidding, get yourself freshened up and let’s have dinner.”

“Can I have one of these Laddus? They look delicious.”

“Don’t you dare touch them till tomorrow.”

There in the kitchen shelves, ingredients of Besan Laddu waited for her, to be converted to another set of spheres of heavenly sweetness.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New year, Resolutions and the Lie

December 31st.. The date that fills us with the excitement of holidays, long weekend, celebration, time with family, reunion with friends and what not. The fun in the anticipation of a new year is greater than the first day of the year.

"Time flies" - I believe, that is what we feel every December. We all keep saying that the current year seems to have passed faster and we rant about that every year. I think that is a big lie we say to ourselves. We did have lots of time. Time that we spent doing the "job"; which most of us don't love, time that we burnt watching hundreds of episodes of a TV series, time that we lost in hours of traffic, time that we wasted gossiping and the time that we just let it pass as we were busy in taking it for granted.

It's just another December 31st now and a serious question strikes me - is this how life is going to be? Lots of Decembers, along with the new year celebrations, where all the enthusiasm lasts for a day or may be just for few hours and then one day - we die. Irony is, it's always up to us to decide; to choose to make a difference.

Let's chase the dream we have been procrastinating, let's nail the resolutions we have failed this year, make new resolutions and let's hope we don't let the time fly!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Post-Novel Ramble


She sat cross-legged on her single cot. It was laid beside a huge window; facing door on one side and a wooden cupboard on other. Opposite to the cot she sat on lay another empty cot, whose occupant had gone for a vacation. It was 11 in the night and the dogs were barking in the street across her room. The only sound other than dogs’ barking that she heard was of the ceiling fan which rotated with medium speed. She sat holding her prized possession –her Kindle, she looked at it warmly and smiled. The overwhelming ecstasy filled her as she had finally completed reading the famous Harry Potter series. The feeling was not just of reading a fantasy novel or a sense of satisfaction of completing it but it was more than that. She had just witnessed an amazing experience in her mundane life.

An emotional rush filled her heart….
Harry, Hermione, Ron, Private drive No. 4, King’s cross station, 9 3/4 platform, Diagon Alley, Leaky Cauldron, Hedwig, Ollivander’s, Gringotts, Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, wands, phoenix, goblins, dragons, giants, elves, spells, jinxes, Horcruxes, Hallows, the beautiful mountains and forests. It all went on like a slideshow.  There were adventures that she had enjoyed and also the deaths she had wept for. The series had amazed her of the creative strength of the author for building such a fantasy world and ending it perfectly. She couldn’t recall when she had started reading the first book of Harry Potter series, it seemed like ages ago. She could remember how the hour long traffic on her way to office had not been bothering her anymore since the time she was reading Harry. She could think how she had longed for the weekends, just to get lost in the world of magic; world of Harry. Power cuts, broken WiFi, office stress, nothing had mattered. It was like she lived in two worlds. The truth dawned upon her that the other world had just ended. It did make her a little gloomy but nothing matched the euphoria of having read it; perhaps lived it.

The brain did its trick. It brought her the memory of her other favorite books and her favorite characters. She thought of Robert Langdon, how she had been crazily obsessed with Da Vinci’s works after reading the Da Vinci Code.  She thought of Twilight Saga series, she had read all three books of the series twice. She had completely fallen for Edward, his selfless love. He was her all time crush. The memory kept flowing..

After what seemed to be hours, she turned off the light and laid down on her comfortable bed and thought of the books/novels she had read. The more she had read, the more she had wanted to. They were there in her utter loneliness, in grief and during her sleepless nights. There were stories that had made her smile and filled her with happiness that lasted for days. There were stories that had brought tears; she had mourned for deaths of characters in the novels. There were novels that had changed her perspective and her life. There were stories which had stimulated her to write stories of her own. A writer scribbled stories in the back of her head all the time, while she lived her routine life. Some of those stories made it to her journal and some just died, but the scribbling never stopped. 

She opened the Kindle and it glowed in her dark room. She looked at it, with eyes curios to explore more books, more worlds that she couldn’t imagine of. Meanwhile, the writer in the back of her head thought – may be someday, her book would be gleaming out of that Kindle and someone would be living in the world of her creation….

She dozed off into a night of dreams…. into the magical world of Harry, for one more night…

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mystery Girl


It's 4 AM in the morning and my eyes are wide open without a hint of sleep. After 5 hours of struggle with sleep, I give up. A night without sleep will not kill me. It's not surprising that I am having hard time sleeping, as today is my wedding.

Suhas, 29 years old, Software Engineer, finally getting married. Yes, that's me.

It's crazy how your mind has it's way of bringing memories to your mind especially when you have trouble with sleeping. In past five hours, I have been thinking mostly about the wedding, rethinking every plan. I don't know what she might be thinking. Is she awake too? As far as I know her, she might have slept like a baby but you can never know a woman completely. The moment you assume you know everything about them, they have their own way of surprising you. Trust me, I have realized from my personal experience.

It was two years back, a winter morning, I don't remember the day but I remember everything else.
I was waiting for my office cab, which was already 5 minutes late. I was busy getting impatient and she arrived at stop. She looked 23-24 year old, average height about 5'1 or 5'2 and she had gorgeous looking curly hair. Suddenly I started praying that my cab should arrive 15 minutes late. She was totally occupied with her mobile, with headsets on and I was staring at her like a jerk. I couldn't help myself notice her. There was some magical attraction towards her. She glanced at me once and I looked into those big brown eyes, beautiful enough to make my heart beat faster. In middle of my little adventure, the cab arrived and I boarded with a hope that I would see the girl again the next day.

I did see her the next day and something totally unexpected happened. She said hi to me and I was so surprised that I couldn't react but stare.She had to say hi again, I replied and our conversation began.
We exchanged our names and other details about our work, cab timings etc. It was indeed happiest day for me. I was really looking forward to know this girl.

Days passed, every morning we used to meet at the same spot, talk for ten minutes and I used to be the first person to leave for office. Those 10 minutes used to be the most precious moments of my day. We used to talk about traffic, work, weekends, movies, music, weather and what not. Among us, she was the one who used to talk more. She had an amazing way of keeping the conversation interesting. With every passing day, every chat we had, I started developing an intense liking for her. I thought she liked me too.

Finally, after three months, I decided I would ask her out. I thought about that more than a 100 times and I decided I'll do it anyway. Unfortunately, she didn't arrive at stop that day. I assumed she was late, but she was never late in these three months. I thought of waiting for her but it seemed too desperate. I just cursed my fate and left for office.

Next day, she did not come. Three days passed with her absence. It was then, I started freaking out. I thought every possible reason for her absence and every reason made me feel horrible. I tried convincing myself that it might not be something bad. May be she just went home or went for an unplanned vacation but I couldn't stop thinking about her. I regretted a lot for not having her contact number. I didn't care if I was going to ask her out, all I wanted was her to be back.

After a lot of thinking, I almost felt like I should go to a private detective but what would I tell the detective- that I see a girl every morning at my stop for office cab and she has not been there since few days,that I was planing to ask her out and I don't even know if she's single. That would sound ridiculous. I knew her name and where she worked, nothing else. What if she lied me about her name and her job. I had never seen her wearing her ID, never saw her boarding the cab and never asked about where she lived. I felt like I was literally going mad for some mystery girl. I even felt what if she was creation of my own imagination and I was Schizophrenic.

Five days passed without her, it was the longest week ever. I stopped thinking about her and just prayed God that she's fine.

God did listen to my prayers.It was weekend and I was roaming alone in a shopping mall. I spotted her in a cloth store. First I thought I was hallucinating but it was her, those big brown eyes couldn't be unreal. She was busy grabbing clothes and I walked towards her. With every step I took toward her, I felt so stupid about myself. Suddenly I felt like I don't know her. I approached her and said "Hi"...

She looked surprised. She gave me a huge smile and acted like she didn't have anything to talk about her five-day-absence. I asked her why she wasn't at the stop all these days. She told me very casually that she moved to another place which was closer to her office. I couldn't talk much and left the place as soon as possible.

I can't put into words what I felt after meeting her. I was smiling at myself and feeling sad at the same time. All these days, it was just me - waiting to see her, liking her, worrying about her. It was all me. It never occurred to me to think of her perspective. I saw only what I wanted to see.

I did not feel angry about her. May be she was not obliged to tell me her plans or she just did not feel like. I felt a little sad that I was going to miss our morning conversations, but soon I stopped missing her.

After an year, I found another great lady and with time we fell in love with each other.
One day, I had told her about the mystery-girl-incident, she looked at me with a concern, laughed with her dimpled cheeks and said "awww". I felt a little disappointed as my intention of making her jealous had not worked.

I did not realize it's 5 AM already until my alarm went off.
Enough with the memories and thinking...
Let me get ready to marry the love of my life.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dear blog... Happy Birthday



March 8, 2009.. this blog was born.

A place to scribble my thoughts, memoirs and stories.
Started with a child's enthusiasm.
When I read those posts of first year of my blogging, I feel stupid.
Some are really immature and I feel like laughing at myself.
Some make me think - "did i really write that?"
To be honest, every post makes me feel I could have written it in a better way.

Six years of blogging and 36 posts.
In these six years, I might not have written much but I have had the joy of weaving a story and of sketching a character.It gave me sense of being true self, of being alive and the ecstasy of being lost in my world of imagination.
These stories I wrote- made me smile, cry, dream and experience the emotions of the characters that I created. I did not just write them, I lived them.

I am grateful to everyone who kept reading my blog, no matter how seldom i wrote.
There were appreciations that filled me with deep sense of satisfaction and gave me loads of enthusiasm to write more. Nevertheless, there were criticisms that made me write better every time.

Long way to go...
So many stories yet to be written, waiting in my heart somewhere deep down...
Reaches of my imagination..yet to be explored...





Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gifts


It's not about -
what you like,
what you think is right for the person you are buying the gift,
or what makes you happy...

It's about-
the person you love,
what he/she likes,
who he/she is and how well you know him/her...

The cost or exclusiveness of the gift doesn't matter, what matters is the effort and creativity you put to find or get one.

Not always a "thing" needs to be a gift. A self-composed piece of music, a surprise visit, a warm hug or a sweet kiss can make someone's day more memorable than any tangible gift can.

Gifts don't last long but memories do.

Like I said, if you know the person well, you would surely know what to gift.