Sunday, November 30, 2008
Most people in the advertising world would know what feedback does to an ad. It makes the ad more innovative and intuitive (to be read as "horrible"). We interviewed a "Click Here" button on a 300x250 pixel banner ad recently and the it had lot to tell. The interview had just one question (since it was a loooooooong answer, we had to cut it short). We asked the button:
Q: Hey "Click here"! How's life?
Ans: Sucks big time, man! I don't know what it is to be ME anymore. My life started out quite well in the hands of a pretty good artist. He gave me great shades, a splendid build, bold colours and my name - "Click Here" (in sentence case).Things looked good when I went into my first day on a grey-ish banner. We blended well in greyness and everything seemed... cool! I was basking in my aura, when I was picked up in the banner and whizzed off through the information superhighway to several mailboxes across the world. I saw light as my parent was woken up and played to the final frame, where "yours truly" sat looking handsome! The human (who looked blurry eyed and drunk, by the way) looked at me and growled. He uttered something like - "This button looks tacky..and..umm.. out-of-place. It must be changed." My rectangles and gradients grew heavy as I was shut off. I didn't know what happened till...this other guy saw me- A very elderly British man, I guess. He commented - "The banner is ok.The button is ok too, but, it needs some improvement..." He went on for an hour almost and kept replaying my dad a hundred times, till, my colours spun and I felt ooozie!
In a nutshell, out of the 20-30 people who saw me, there was just a single lady who kinda liked me. The rest had the same comment - "tacky, needs brighter colours, needs improvement...blah blah blah.." After about 3 days of circling around, I was taken back to the good artist who created me. Once again, my life was opened, ready to be changed...and.. PhotoShop is a lovely tool!
The good artist was kinda angry at all the feedback he got..or.. he had a tough life. He choked me with lots of colours and roughened me up with some really surreal texture. My new "look" had to be looked at again..more seriously. He poked at me with those brushes and pens and pencils..you name it! Cut a bit off me and added new bits. I became shiny for a minute and for the next minute I was all messed up. After about an hour of "button-handling", he called another person to stare at me and do more violent things. For about 2 minutes everything was almost transparent about me. The two people quenched their artistic thirst and took me places showing me off. Well, the new look (I am not even going to start on it!) was accepted by the "internals" they said. Personally, I think the "new look" was awful, terrible, not even close to being a real button! My body had lost its colour and my name was displayed boldly - "CLICK HERE" (this time it was all in uppercase) Once more I made my way through the information super highway and found the same kind of snarls and grunts and a hoard of complaints. Aren't people ever satisfied? But, this time it was a new ball game. This time it was all about rearrangement. They thought things didn't "fit in" or was "not in place". DUHHH!
Here we go again! this time, I wasn't going to get the Photoshop treatment. It was going to be the whole thing. Dad was changing colours, the textmates were moved and I was being hassled. In 5 minutes, my location was changed between frames 1 and 250!!! 15 seconds of relocation! Finally, I was released..or..atleast I thought. A copywiter came up with "new copy". He wanted to fit in some 5 new lines in the frame that I lived. Between my X and Ys, I couldn't calculate how it could happen! I was also renamed from simple old "Click Here" to "More details", "Find out how", "Go", "Learn more"...the circus started again...
NOTE: Sorry, but this interview had to stop coz someone just deleted the button!
(On the internet)
The chief issued an edict:
“I have arranged for baskets to be placed in several places in the village. I want you to write down your bad feelings on pieces of paper, crumple them and throw them into baskets. Then fill your hearts with your winning moments …times when you were at your best, your most creative...when your actions brought joy to others...when you were in total control. Relive them. Dwell upon them. And see your body and your mind transform.”
The people followed the chief’s advice. And they lived happier and fuller lives. After a while just seeing the baskets energized them. Over time these baskets were used to put in waste and came to be called waste baskets. But those who know the story remember to fill their hearts with beautiful thoughts as often as they can.
(For display on waste-baskets)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
(Next to a No Smoking Zone board)
(on a flashlight)
(On a pen stand)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
He was there when the police arrived. On his knees, by her body, crying like a little boy. It was the maid who informed the men in khakhi. All the evidence pointed at him. Circumstantial, they had called it. The prints on the gun, the duplicate key to her apartment, and of course, the motive.
He did not utter a word in his defence throughout the trial. He was not bothered. His relatives had arranged for the best lawyer in town. The prosecution argued vehemently about the psychopath he had turned into after his break up. How he wanted revenge. How he sneaked into her house and shot her mercilessly. He did not even nod his head. Even at the verdict. For him, it was all over on that fateful afternoon.
He woke up from his trot down the memory lane at the creaking of the latch. He walked like a zombie towards his execution room. The last meal left untouched had turned cold. There was no room left for anything. The executioner looked to be eager to finish his job and head back home. He empathized. So did he.
He looked at the priest with cold eyes as he read out the prayers for his soul. He closed his eyes in prayer for a moment and then opened suddenly as if in some realization. The executioner looked at the clock and gestured towards the jail superintendent. It was almost time.
The veil fell over his head. He felt the darkness spread from within. Now it was uniform. His world seemed to be in synchrony with his mind. He smiled. A smile nobody else in the room saw; and even if they did, would never have understood.
One nod of the head met another. The noose tightened. The rope loosened. A wooden platform slid. His neck cracked. Muscles stretched. The last struggles of the soul before it left its mortal home. The doctor pronounced him dead at 03:14am. Justice was done. Good prevailed.
Miles away, inside a room that witnessed that same fateful afternoon, a few pages fluttered in the early morning breeze. A pen rolled lazily across. The words on them had not been completely buried by time and dust. Specially the last ones. The ones that read, “and therefore I go.”
(on a pen stand or a journal)
Next day the white shirt nudged the green one on her right, and said – ‘there she comes again. God, some one shoo her away, lest she kills me with her nasty gawk. Ugh!’
A few days later the woman was back again, and this time she tried on the snooty white shirt. ‘Yuck’, the White shirt squirmed, ‘you stink….Geeez, get me off you’.
Need size large in this one, please’ , the woman asks the sales girl. ‘Sorry ma’am, we are out of stock on that one. This one’s the only one left – size XS.
‘Serves you right, fatso’ the white shirt hollered.
The woman left only to be back the next day to check if the white one was still hanging in there.
A few months pass, the yellows and greens go, the white one remains. Albeit, now a shade of cream. Six months later, the woman comes back. This time she looked slimmer, smelt of Elizabeth Arden and walked on Jimmy Choos. She goes straight up to the white shirt, now hanging several rows behind reds and blues, no where near the window, picks her up and heads to the cashier. ‘You get a 50% off ma’am, the cashier informs the woman’.
Once home, she brings her out, put her up on a cheap aluminum hanger, and hangs her next to the cheap clothes she had picked from the streets of Dadar. Before shutting the wardrobe , the woman hisses ‘ serves you right, cheapo’.
Poster in a trial room/ boutique
On a postbox
Tuesday: Burn the shit out of the new entrant who didn’t know hot from cold.
Wednesday: Fill cups, bottles and bottles full of water.
Thursday: Fill myself and then fill bottles and cups.
Friday: Fill bottles and cups full of water.
Saturday: Take a leak.
Next to the water cooler
In skies high above, fortunate enough to be an objective observer of such frenzied activity, sat God, in his front row seat, and decided in that moment that I looked better red. Cold, wet and red. And so I forever stayed.
Next to a post-box
It was the hundredth time she was thinking of Jharna. A thousand miles away, she remembered the filthy fights she had had with her. And what of those terrible nights when she went on an empty stomach to show her protest and of all the late nights they spent together watching Ekta K serials, waiting up for her husband. She missed her. Awfully. She was willing to do anything to see her again. The separation was almost suffocating. She thought of her day and night. Nights mostly. She was willing to forgive her for staining her favourite mauve shirt. She was willing to discount all the back biting, silliness and frivolity. She promised herself not to fight with her that bad, if ever they met, that is.
Sighing, she looked at her hands- cracked nails and peeling skin.
Quickly she typed – ‘passport office’, in her to-do list.
(In the stairwell in a residential building)
There is a lot going on in my mind lately, so this is going to be a long one.
The other day, a friend responded to my blog post on a guava man. You know, he said, all along I kept imagining there’d be something more to it, that it would lead on to something else… that you’d reveal something mysterious in the end! Sorry, mon ami, but there wasn’t anything mysterious about the guava man. It was just a page from memory, a trip down memory lane as the cliché goes, I quipped, in reply.
And the conversation ended with no further ado.
But later, today, it struck me. There could’ve been something more to it! All of us, at least most of us, thirst for that ‘something more’, something ‘extra’. That special zing, a twist in the end that makes a story out of every little thing we encounter. Just look around, jog your memories and you’d realize.
Why do people love O. Henry? The master of the twist in the tale - the quintessential short story with a surprising turn of events just before the story ends? Why are mystery novels, ugh, so mysterious? Sherlock Holmes and Poirot and Hardy Boys and Secret Seven - - just what makes them who they are? Why are folklores and fairytales popular? Why is a myth, a myth? A legend, a legend?
Why do we all love lending ear to yarns – better still, with a local flavor? Imagine a stone you pick up from a riverbed while on holiday. Imagine if someone told you a story about how it ended up there, and became a stone in the first place? A goblet of wine – a flute of champagne you taste – what if the vineyard had a story to tell about how it was made and all about the processing and ageing and choice of grapes and method of harvesting? A chime you pick up from Tibet – what if it had a lore to spread as well?
What about Loch Ness? What about the Fire Dragon? What about monuments? What about ‘what if’s? What about banshees and witches and dwarfs and pixies? What about the Leprechaun? The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Remember horror movies you watched sitting up late nights? Those crazy eerie ones on
Extra Terrestrials? And Hitchcock, my goodness! And yes, Star Trek! The Hollow Man.
The Man in the Iron Mask. The Invisible Man. Batman. Superman. Spiderman.
Anything but man -- man has an insatiable thirst for!
Pokemon and PowerPuff and the new-look Hanuman (let’s not forget the kindergarten heroes). And that’s not all.
We love anything that glorifies the simple.
Robert Burns – he wrote poems about puddings and field mice, about toothache and tear drops.
Enid Blyton – she made stories out of sauce pans and tree trunks and mushrooms and chairs.
James Barry – he created Neverland and breathed life into a boy who never really grew up.
Satyajit Ray – he painted a beautiful motion picture around a pair of anklets.
Aravindan wove a plot with a humble rat trap.
Roald Dahl mesmerized little minds (and adults even) with yarns on yards of chocolate.
Salvador Dali splashed a stamp of intricacy over simplistic stuff.
Whistler made patterns out of pure white and grey.
Van Gogh immortalized the sunflower (of course, he later cut off his left ear; nothing simplistic about that, but never mind).
Rodin made waves with the thinking man – just the sculpture of a thinking man.
The Japanese made poetry with themes as simple as jumping frogs and snowfall and whistling bamboo and pretty cherry blossoms.
The Russians wrote literature about life – sweat, toil, tears – all included. So stark real and honest - that it almost seemed surreal.
And in recent history, we have JKR and JRRT - Rowling and Tolkien. And a whole many more that perhaps demands a listing. Oh yes, kitchen orchestra is in demand!
So where does that leave us? Simplicity sells – if not merely by itself –with just that necessary twist of twang in the tale, a gentle twirl of events, a tweak in the middle, a touch of jazz. Guess that is precisely what makes the difference between a great story and a good one.
Jazz to play it up. Jazz to please. Jazz to excite. Jazz to puzzle. Jazz to answer. Jazz to teach. Jazz to entertain. Jazz to satiate the curious mind. Or just jazz. For jazz’s sake!
- On copywriters: masters of the art of jazz
(Made as screensavers specially for writers' comps)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- On the dairy section in a supermarket.
Playing with him made me forget things too. Like the rusted parts of me that were almost about to fall off, which are still rusted, still about to fall off.
Anyway, the boy who lived across the road knew the boy who lived in the house I was in. I think he was his friend or something. They’d play everyday, with or without me. They’d laugh and talk, play cricket, gilli danda, stappu, whatever. They’d occasionally sneak out to buy ice cream from the vendor, without anyone’s knowledge.
Yeah… I loved watching them play. It was my favourite pastime apart from my job that required me to close and open myself to visitors and my owners.
But as they say, all good things come to an end, this did too. But alas, this particular ending wasn’t happy one at all. It was sometime after the horrific blasts that left the city and its residents devastated.
I remember my owner’s wife shooing the boy (the one from across the road) away, saying, ‘go back home, you’re not welcome here anymore. If they see you playing here, they’ll burn down our house’.
I’m sure the little boy never understood a word of what she was saying, but ran away, tears rolling down his face.
After which I used to see him sometimes, walking across the road with his mother clutching his hand tight pulling him away from me, and away from my house.
The longing looks he cast in my direction as he walked past me, made my rusted parts creak.
Well, what can I say, I’m just a gate, I open myself and I close myself. I don’t think you human beings are any different, opening and closing yourselves to people at your own whims and fancies.
And hey, beware of dogs too. There’s a huge one here. But he is not as mean as the gods we’ve created.
On a gate
Mellenses was the daughter of the divine Goddess Demetria and the Star God Floppius. She had never set sight on her father, but had heard from the other maidens on
When Demetria was but a teenager, she looked up into the heavens and wished for a daughter as fair as the moon, as intelligent as a shooting star that knew where to land. No sooner had Demetria uttered this than the great god Floppius stood before her. Intelligent seeds from him grew in her fair womb to give rise to the flower called Mellenses. In a flash of warm, sticky light, he vanished. Mellenses was then brought up by the ever-young maidens of
But her heart was heavy. And she knew only her father could bring back the lightness. It was in his power to do that. Even the Goddess Demetria had told her, “Only your father can do this for you. You must be quiet for 2 weeks before you call upon him. Meditate, pray, give up your harp and your playmates. And then he will be pleased with you, and grant you your wish.”
Mellenses did as she was told. She was sad those 2 weeks, because she was used to her gay playmates and their songs of joy. She missed those sunlit carefree days, but she knew that she would have to please her father to get what she wanted.
On night of the 15th day, Floppius appeared to her in a dream. She stood before him, not daring to look into that radiant face. Floppius thundered, “Speak, child.”For a moment, Mellenses looked overwhelmed, then she pulled herself together, stood high in her dainty copper sandals and said, “Dad, I want a car.”
In the parking lot
“I have taken position”
He hung up, looked a little nervous as sweat trickled down behind his ear. He was in his mid thirties, dressed in a light brown suit, and a cream fedora. His knife was still out. The door slowly creaked, and another man entered. He looked a much younger, dressed in a denim shirt and a tight pair of jeans. The young man quickly took notice of the other older one and drew out a gun, a snub nose, very effective for short range targets. I thought the older man would breathe his last. He was stupid to bring a knife to a gunfight. However, that didn’t happen. Both of them started laughing. And the younger one locked the door.
Picture this. Two armed men locked in a bathroom stall. Gays? No. there was another knock on the door. In entered an attractive young woman. Two gangsters and a whore? Maybe. Threesome?
I was curious to know what would happen next. The woman took out a white piece of rock and a mirror from her handbag and gave it to the older man. Who scraped it into crystal white powder. The younger man caught all the white powder on the mirror. And all three of them powdered their noses.
Damn I should have guessed. I wish I was a cop.
Inside the door of a public toilet
On a dustbin
Forensics is sweeping the room for prints. They dust powder and brush it softly and they find the print. Right here on the switchboard, on the third one from the left. The only place he’d forgotten to wipe clean, the last place he touched before filling up a black pouch with diamonds.
On the switchboard
On a chair
"Wish I was that tall."
"Good morning Boss..hey Boss...Hi Boss...mmm...Yo Boss?"
"He smells goooood"
"Up. Down. Up. Down. I should have taken up that Dubai job."
Thought Blurbs hanging from the top of the elevator. Each blurb has a thought.
Cut it up. Roasted it. Slept on a full bulging stomach. The next morning I met Snow White.
She was crying by the bonfire. I ate Happy, she said. I've been running ever since.
Gym – near the treadmill/ on it.
By the electric lighter at any shop.
“Will your cousin be joining us today?”, asked the leader. Raoul-el-hal looked nervously around before answering in a child’s voice, “He’s still at the training camp, and will return only after winter.” The leader didn’t bother with a reaction. Instead, he turned his attention to the newest recruits lined up against the peely wall. Nervous teenagers, long dangly arms, fire in their souls, big eyes that housed God in them. Willing to give their lives for a cause. Dying to prove they’re all God’s children. He took out a sharp knife. A well-loved knife that looked as happy as a well-used book. Warmed by the leader’s robes, blessed by God, and envied for what it does to the newly initiated. With its hooked nose, he cut into each tender arm. Not one flinched. They held their soft heads high, and swept back their burnished locks, looking proud. And immensely blessed.
The fighter planes weren’t cutting edge. The newly-initiated crew still wore their robes beneath the jackets and straps and phones. They didn’t say a word to each other. They spoke only to one person. God. Blinded by his light, they flew higher and higher towards him. Not questioning, not looking ahead, not looking back. The words of the leader echoed in their ears as they approached the glass. “God willed it. He has called you. Now go.” Raoul-el-Hal said God’s name as he felt his body being hurled with his machine into a large body of glass.
Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat.
“These moths are smashing into the window glass like they’re on some mission, no?” said Ayesha to Imran as she sat looking out the window at the starlit sky.
And the next morning the maid found a tiny moth just outside the ledge wearing a tiny helmet.
(Long skinny poster on a window)
Monday, November 24, 2008
It was a night when the biggest celebs in town come down for a get-together. Business czars descended in their flashy cars. Social queens did their best to show off their newest sarees and jewellery. And camera flashing reporters made sure everyone gave their brightest smile. All was well until the glamour heroine Swarna Malathi, in her early 20s (read early 40s), landed on the scene. She was a controversial celeb known for her sharp comments. She was a ‘must-be-invitee’ at most Page 3 parties at this venue. I have seen her many times. But something was different on that particular day. The lady was dressed in a long gown; so long it covered the entire length of my body. Upon seeing her, the camera wielding reporters ran to get a close up shot. And one of them accidentally stood on her long gown. Unknowingly, Swarna Malathi took a confident step forward, only to stain my red skin with her red blood. Covered in shame and red blood, the glamour queen made a fast exit from the scene. You can still see the stains on extreme right corner (but don’t try finding it, my red is brighter).
(On a red carpet)
Mom – hey, isn’t it a fine winter evening?
Dad – yes, it is.
Mom – have we gathered all of them already?
Dad - no, not all.
Mom – let’s start looking then.
Dad – hmmm, here?
Mom- no there.
Dad – oh here, I found one.
Mom- oh good, I found the others.
Dad – can’t find the one I buried here, I know I buried him safe somewhere around this tree.
Mom- forget it, it’s getting late. Let’s head back home.
I was the seed they were talking about, the one my squirrel dad buried safe.
On a tree
In an auto, provided she got one she could just relax and unwind before arriving home and all the chaos that awaited her there, the kids, dinner, dishes and all the joys of being a single mom. It was her lucky day and the first auto she hailed stopped and even obliged to take her home all the way to Horamavu.
The air outside was polluted with gasoline fumes, the rancid stench of the city settled on her. The new Givenchy perfume she had dabbed on was no competition at all. She removed her jacket and leaned towards the opening of the so-called doorway. She snuggled into her seat, feeling fortunate and stretched her shapely legs out. As the auto finally pulled away from the traffic signal, she closed her eyes And let the gentle swaying motion of the bus lull her into a peaceful rest.
Her peaceful rest made her only slightly aware of the rough and bumpy part of the roads, potholes and roadwork. She was barely lucid, almost asleep, when the driver pulled to a halt. He was taking in another passenger. But he had the decency to ask her first. She surveyed the person, he was a tall. dark and handsome man. Not exactly the kind you'll find on the cover of Esquire, but almost there.
Not really paying attention, she nodded okay and repositioned herself and hoped to find the blissful rest again. She had sunken into a dreamless sleep when she was awakened with a start to find him leaning against her.
"I'm sorry," he said," I was trying to look at the meter." His breathe was warm on her silk blouse causing an intense sensation across her bosom, his neatly trimmed soft beard teased her chin . In his attempt to check the auto meter, he stretched himself over her and when the auto hit another pothole on the road, already off balance, he collapsed on top of her.
She wondered to herself about that scar on his face. He was fully astride her his left leg was between hers, his left arm at her right thigh. He tried to regain his balance when the auto hit another pothole causing his entire body to fall against hers. she could feel the entire weight of his body crush against hers. She felt his large rock-hard member move against her, nudging her inner thigh. Their eyes met, "I'm Jacob", he said with a sheepish smile.
The purple darkness of the night set in, and he leaned towards her. She felt his warm minty breath on her neck and ears, and she slowly moved into his embrace. Teasing his cheek with her lips, a gentle butterfly kiss. His left hand worked its way down her thigh and across the top of her stockings as she hummed lightly at the pleasure of his touch.
Her knees were trembling as he began to kiss and lick her behind her ears and neck, as he unfastened his belt, then his pants. He continued to work on her faster and faster as his other hand rolled and pinched her in places that made her cry "Yes, Yes". And then slower, moving as if they were slow dancing to a song being played within their souls.
His warm minty breathe was a wonderful final pleasure that she would never forget. What a gentleman! And then as he stood, his eyes met hers one more time and he gave her a soft kiss across her cheek. And turned to walk in the direction he came from and soon disappeared out of sight.
She wondered if he'll be at the auto stand tomorrow…
On the back of an auto seat.
It reached me through the tiny gap between the floor and the door and I froze.
I hadn't the foggiest hint of who stood on the other side of the door but I decided instantly that someone who wore such a captivating fragrance was someone I just had to meet.
I pushed back against the wall and waited.
The shiny doorknob twisted a fraction.
A shiver of anticipation raced through my frame.
Please God, I pleaded in silence, let her pick me.
The doorknob turned again.
I held my breath.
If the perfume was a tease the person wearing it was a whole bottle ahead.
My mind went racing.
Was she pretty?
Was she young?
Was she shopping on her daddy's credit card?
Would she be coy?
The door creaked.
A shaft of light rode in.
Five pink-painted toes on a fair foot cradled in a brown camel-hide sandal followed.
It was at that moment the lights went out.
And I went down.
It's a true story. The mirror never lies.
(In a trial/ changing room)
In the loo/ on top of the commode.
You’re working overtime, so what? So do I, everyday. Just take a cup of coffee and get on with it.
On a coffee machine
On a bottle in a bar/ Or a poster where the bottles are placed in a bar
On a wall
In a ladies' changing/ trial room.
I've had my eyes on that red one for a very long time. I mean I have seen her right from the time she was a small feathery blob of yellow. But now she was all grown up. And she was quite a dish. Her fine red plumage that bordered on burgundy, shapely thighs and a face that was innocent, with a dash of impishness. And all the roosters in the farm seemed to think so too. I had seen them letch at her with unabashed lust.
She probably enjoyed all the attention, but she acted as if they didn't even exist. For her the only rooster that mattered was the big black one. His feathers were as black as the night and shone like burnished silver. And he carried himself with a nonchalant panache. No doubt she was smitten by him. And it was quite obvious that he liked her too.
But they were very discreet about it. She did everything that all the other hens did, clucked nonchalantly, pecked diligently and laid the best eggs you ever saw. And he for his part went about life doing whatever it is that roosters do.
None of the other animals suspected anything. But I had seen her glance seductively at the black rooster. And I had seen him checking her out. And I could feel the sexual tension between them growing, it was almost palpable.
Then one day, the red hen strayed away from the other hens and was just outside my door, scratching the ground looking for worms. Noticing this, the black rooster looked around and once he was sure there was no one looking, he furtively walked towards the little red hen and whispered, "Pssst sexy, see you back of the barnyard at a quarter to ten." With a coy blush she nodded and scurried away.
That night was one of the darkest I had ever seen; there wasn't even a star in the sky. It was so dark, that you couldn't even see your hand if you held it in front of your face.
At precisely quarter to ten, I heard cautious footsteps approach stealthily. And a sudden gasp of pleasure broke the still of the night. It was the little red hen. She was in the throes of ecstasy. She moaned "faster, faster". And gasped "Oooh you big black rooster, do that again, it's been such a long time that I've forgotten what it feels like."
When a big gruff voice with a thick southern drawl said, "I ain't no rooster."
And the little red hen knew that the gander had goosed up.
Poster outside a chicken shop.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Supposed to be on a green bottle. But think it's more practical on a trash can.
For starters, words don’t go on leave nor do they get married.
Words don’t talk to each other.
Now then, I don’t think it would be a bad idea after all if words got married.
Words co-exist. Good words and bad words live together in perfect harmony. (“Holy F**k”, I guess this intro needs a re-work)
I have always liked it here. Being in the company of rich and famous writers comes at a price (anything between 300 to 3000 bucks).
Let me tell you a small story that unfolded here during my heydays as a bookshelf (yes, even a shelf comes with a shelf life). It was a pleasant winter evening in the month of November. Salman had just arrived on my third rack, again.
It’s a Shame I cannot recollect the exact date when this happened. But I recall very well it occurred on one of those eerie Midnights- Children were asleep, so was the watchman.
A man made his way toward me from the backdoor, to finish off Salman. (Later I heard that people christened this fight against Salman as “The Satanic Versus The Angelic”) The visitor flung himself at Salman, and tried to finish him. Old crush Arundhati, my God Of All Things, witnessed this fight from sixth row. The Ground Beneath Her Feet shook at every blow delivered by the visitor.
Meanwhile, quietly co-existing in the second rack was Oxford Dictionary (full name). Mr. Dictionary was too petrified by the goings-on to save his neighbour’s skin. Suddenly the visitor laid his eyes on Dictionary. He darted towards Oxford and finished him. Salman escaped.
I learnt a lot from this episode. People usually finish the Dictionary before they can finish Salman.
Many writers use capacious (big) and commodious (big again!!) words to hide small ideas, and bad plots. It saved many an author, and Salman.
I thought he’d never come back, but he did. This time he was clever enough to disguise himself as Shalimar the Clown.
On a bookshelf in any library (office or school)
Poster on a bakery.
Stumbling half nauseated and half out of his mind he began to strip off his clothes, finally reaching the bathroom. There it sat his sanctuary. The nice warm liquid waiting for him, calling to him. It seemed to call his name "Julian", "Julian", "Julian".
Warm to the touch of his toes, he played with the liquid making little splashes on the floor. As the ripples subsided he eased into the tub, the all embracing warmth encasing his body. Down, down, down he sank, following fate blindly until he rested, and was at peace.
The bath was soothing it gave him focus. Hours went by and the water slowly chilled to a freezing cold. Which woke him up.Or was it the sound of someone entering the house?
It was mom, she was back. "Julian, are you there?" She called out as she made her way through the darkened house. She then spotted his clothes strewn across the floor and shook her head. "That boy," she muttered, "he will be the death of me" picking up the trail of clothes she reached the dining room where a great feast had been laid out. She smiled. Her son was trying to win her over. And it worked. She forgot about all the troubles, heartaches and thought of only her little boy, her heart.
Then it hit her, like a punch to the guts. The putrid stench, causing her to gag. The bathroom light was on and there laid her daughter on her side watching Julian, her son bathing.
Julian saw his mother and smiled, he stood up in his entire naked splendour. "Hello mom glad you are home" Julian grinned. "What have you done?" His mother asked. For the first time noticing the trail of blood on the floor and the fact that her daughter was not moving. She smelled death.
And her son was bathing in her daughter's blood. She almost swooned but too terrified to lose consciousness.
"Now mother about dinner it seems to be ruined". With that Julian stepped out of the tub producing a cleaver, and asked "guess who I'm having for dinner"?
Later that evening after a fine meal Julian's father relaxed by the fireplace. "I don't believe that your mother and sister would miss out on such a fine meal". He lit a cigarette, and the aroma of tobacco smoke filled the air. In between satisfied puffs, he said "Son you must tell me this recipe and don't hold back I want to know all the details."
Julian just smiled and nodded all the while sharpening his dad's favourite hunting knife. "Dad maybe you can help me with tomorrow's meal" Rubbing his belly his dad gave a thoughtful nod thinking what a good son he had.
Inside a menu card in a restaurant.
On a microphone.
'Rahul!', she cried out 'don't leave!'.
'If you do, you'll never know the truth. It isn't as it seems….'
Rahul walked away, without so much as acknowledging her presence.
'You'll regret this someday', he heard her saying, 'you'll wish you hadn't left this way.'
Rahul left the room, slamming the door behind him which left her broken heart in pieces. And me in pain.
On a door.
Friday, November 21, 2008
In the nineties, he spent many an afternoon standing in the blazing sun outside a restaurant in Richmond Town called Tom’s. Inside a hot-shot Creative Director had brought his fold for what was meant to be a beer or two and lunch. But you know how it is with advertising people and booze. Once they so much as smell it they just have to have it in Olympic proportions. (Bangalore’s advertising industry has single handedly changed the fortunes of local breweries – although they’re paid to change the fortunes of their clients.)
He’d gaze greedily at the crowd inside as one beer would lead to two, which would lead to three and four and so on. And after each round this would happen less and less grudgingly. And more and more shamelessly. The same would hold true for the rum and cola and whisky and soda drinkers. By three, the Creative Director would say, there’s no point in kidding ourselves now, let’s just go for the booze. No one really needed that invitation, everybody was already half way to that miraculous stage where holding your body upright seems like rocket science. By four, they’d invariably decide that there wasn’t too much point in returning to office, since the day was almost over and in any case they were all too drunk to do anything worthwhile now. So everyone would get in or on their respective vehicles and fly out of town to some remote lake by Whitefield. Where, needless to say, more flying would ensue.
Once at Tom’s they created a special cocktail for an Account Executive – it consisted of half a glass of beer topped with water. They told him this was a popular French cocktail called the Pom-pom. God knows what that tasted like but the poor guy drank it all up. Today the same guy is a Vice President in a global agency. (Disproving the myth that you have to have brains to make it in advertising.)
And what happened to our friend outside Tom’s?
Well, he’s still a bike.
And his owner? Thanks to the wonderful world of advertising he’s now a brain-dead vegetable connected to a tangle of cables, electrodes and pipes (drainage I think) in a local museum.
The first man in line started telling his story, "Well, Peter, you see, I knew that my wife was cheating on me so I decided to come home early from work one day to catch them in action. I got home and searched all over but I couldn't find him. Then when I walked out onto the balcony, there he was dangling off the darn thing by his fingertips.So I ran and got a hammer, then started beating him with it and he fell. Well, the fall didn't kill him, because he landed in a bush so I picked up the refrigerator and threw it on him. Although that killed him, the strain gave me a heart attack, and here I am."
The next man came up and started his story. "St. Peter, I always work out on my balcony on the 14th floor of my apartment building. I was on my bike one day and I fell off when it flipped. I sailed over the rail and I thought ''Please God spare my life'''and He did. I caught on to a balcony below me. I was even happier when a man discovered me hanging there. But all of a sudden he started beating my hands with a hammer so I fell again. But the dear Lord saved me again when I landed in a bush. But I''m here now because the guy threw his refrigerator on top of me."
It was now the third guy's turn to start his story. "Well, Peter, just picture this. I'm hiding butt naked in this married chick's refrigerator....."
(On a fridge)
(On a traffic-signal post)
For once don’t use me, just help me. I’m feeling really down and out today and need someone to hear me out. Here goes, no one sees me, most people refuse to use me even though there’s a big blaring sign on me that begs people to do so. Yeah… so I’m feelin kinda dejected in life. So if there’s anything you’re holding on to… like a paper cup, a plastic packet or something just drop it in.
As it is, I’m pissed because there’s no party to hit tonight. To have ourselves a social life, three of us are sitting in a barsaatiin Sanjaynagar, sinking a bottle of Khodays rum. Alice Cooper’s serenading us out of a 60W (PMPO, as the maker hopefully stated) tape player. Overall, I’d love to have a nubile female in reach, but here I am, blearily confronting two constables who’ve traipsed in at 1 AM asking stupid questions. “Out you go. Come back with a warrant.” is my stock reply to anything they say.
They go but, on the way out, one casually grabs the tape player. “Pick it up at the station” he said “you students have no respect for police?”
Aha – so that’s it; the pigs have taken us for out-of-town engineering students from MSRIT!
Cut to the station. “Vat is your name?” asks the inspector. “Amitabh %$@#!% Bachchan” say I, “Lock us up if you like”. But no – we’re shoved into a Jeep and taken to a hospital.
“You guys driving or riding?” asks the young doc in the Casualty Ward. “Us? We were sitting at home.” says a buddy.
“Oh...drunken sitting...you’re the third case this week. It's the latest shake-down the guys are running” he tells us. That said, he blows into the Breathalyzer. “Perfectly sober” he tells the cops, poking his head out of the cubicle.
“But, they’re stinking of yenne!” stammer one of Bangalore’s finest. “Who’s the doctor here?” asks the doc, Hippocrates bless his pointy head.
Back at the cop shop, Alice Cooper’s singing “Poison” for the denizens. “Sorry guys, party’s over” I tell them as I shut Alice up.
And take him home for another Khodays.
(At Sanjaynagar Police Station)
(On a dart board)
(On a coaster)
“One caramel popcorn, please.” a voice broke into his thoughts. Sunil shuffled a bit, stood up straight, and said, “Yes, madam.”
(In front of the popcorn vendor at a movie hall)
As loneliness slowly overpowered her cynicism, she began to feel better. Her gaze slowly turned towards herself. She could see her reflection on the glass pane of the nearby cubicle. She looked at her sturdy frame. It was not completely devoid of beauty. It was firm. Though not as shapely as some of the new entrants in the office, she still had a thing or two left in her. The neat white cap, her only accessory, still reminded her of her glory days. She smiled her plastic smile.
(On a water bottle)
(On a lamp post)
Man 2: Yes, waiting for the bus.
Man 1: Which one?
Man 2: The green one.
Man 1 (sounding like he knows everything): There are only red buses in this town.
Man 2: Which town?
Man 1: This one.
Man 2: The green ones are not there anymore?
Man 1: Anymore?
Man 2: Yes, there were so many of them to collect the bodies from the graveyard to the plant.
Man 1 (visibly stunned): Ulp. Plant?
Man 2: The plant where I was sent to. Sadly I was returned because my body had traces of a temporary poison, so I couldn’t be recycled.
Man 1: Sent back where?
Man 2: Here. To the graveyard.
(Inside a bus-stand)
(On a park bench)
(On a parking meter)
(On a Cubbon Park bench)