Sunday, November 30, 2008


Adventures of a "Click Here" button

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 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)

George David


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

Manoj K

I know smoking is bad. But everyday I see smokers hang around me. They keep puffing out hot smoke and keep me warm. In fact one gentleman had made it a habit to start smoking only after reading the stuff written on me. One day, a regular smoker, who loved hanging around me, suddenly fainted and passed out. He never woke up. Soon I saw his picture come up on the notice board. I realized he was the guy who had won two Cannes awards for creating wonderful advertising on the hazards of smoking. After a day of mourning and songs, his friends and colleagues again started to come near me. I’ m happy. They keep me warm.

(Next to a No Smoking Zone board)


I opened my eye. I was in motion. I was chasing the dark silhouette of a man. “Stop, you scoundrel,” shouted a voice behind me. I gathered pace. I stopped, looked left and then right. I started moving again. By the time I reached the wall, the dark figure had disappeared into the vast emptiness, beyond my vision. “Damn it,” cursed the voice behind me.

(on a flashlight)

Manoj K

There was fierce rivalry between the inhabitants of this pen stand. No one missed a chance to take a personal jab at the other. One day, the tall pencil said, “Man, how lucky, those bags get to go everywhere…wish I was a bag too.” The short pencil said, “Thankfully, I’m not as tall as you to see what’s happening in this awful office and waste my time.” At this point, the ball point said, “People let’s get to the point. Keep it short and sweet.” Not to miss the opportunity, the fountain pen said, “Can’t you guys play it easy and smooth?” In midst of all this, the ever alert table clock called out, “Guyyys stop it. The boss is here.” Thus came to a close another day of confrontation in the house of pen stand.

(On a pen stand)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Prison walls have memories written all over them. There are those of joy, of agony, of bereavement and of fulfillment. However, the ones most deeply etched are often of remorse. They are written in bright red. So bright, that every time you read them, your eyes hurt. The one that read ‘the fateful afternoon’ was scorching. It almost burnt his heart.

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)

Aparna Das

In one of those snooty boutiques, there once hung a proud white shirt, amongst others. The snobby white linen shirt told the yellow one hanging next to her, ‘see, she is back again! Look how she stares through the window….look at her shoes for Gods sakes’.

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


If you knew some of things I knew, you’d probably start your own multimillion dollar blackmailing firm with branches in all the metros and with over 3000 employees. For instance, I know all about this actor who is sleeping with his producer’s wife. That is indeed, a very generous sign of gratitude to the man who provided him his first break. I also have some information on this cop who was caught on tape with a sixteen-year-old. Apparently, the filmmakers are demanding a handsome amount from the rookie actor – production charges of course. Wait. Here comes the local MLA’s secretary. He is my favourite. For one, his confessions are always high on news value. Sex, lies, videotapes. But the best part - he’s got something new every damn day.

On a postbox


Monday: Fill bottles and cups full of water.
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.
Sunday: Relax.

Next to the water cooler


The chilly breeze that Sunday morning was a harsh reminder of the impending storm. The fallen leaves swirled in frantic circles, whistling an undistinguished tune. The trees rustled, the birds chirped, frightened. The dogs howled, quick to hide their tails between their legs. Window panes began to rattle and potted plants made their first attempts at flying. Mud was strewn across carefully manicured lawns; broken pieces of clay littered the recently swept road. And for the first time I found myself amidst mayhem: Absolute, inevitable mayhem. Tornadoes weren’t uncommon. But rewind three minutes. An investment banker who led a busy, busy life, found that very Sunday morning to be one of those rare, free, sunny ones and decided to paint his front door red; the front door that stood a few feet away from me. But soon enough began the breeze, the swirling leaves, the rustling trees, the frightened, chirping birds, the howling dogs, the flying plants. And he was given a gentle taster of the tornado that would be upon him in a matter of seconds. Beer, paint brush and can of paint in hand he began to run. Like the devil. No sooner had he set foot on the pavement than he ran straight into me, drenching me in cold, wet, red paint.

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


Stand at ease. Now slowly, move your hands up in slow-motion. Look at mine. Yes as slow as that. The pain will start from your shoulders, down to your neck. Do that for a little longer and you’ll probably faint. See, that’s why they invented me.

Next to the clock

Aparna Das

An ode to Domestic help in India
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)


A pinch of jazz

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)



Next to the day's newspapers in any office.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


On October 18, 2008, precisely one month after Lehmann Brothers did to world economy what George Bush has been doing to America for years, a little rat asked its foster mother (it's real mother having drowned in an overflowing drain due to yet another lapse from the sanitary department) - Mommy it squeaked what does meltdown mean? And foster mamma rat said, honey it means it'll be quite a while before we eat original French and Dutch cheese leftovers.

- On the dairy section in a supermarket.


Beware of gods. The kinds that make you hate each other. And wish you didn’t have a religion. I’m telling you this because there was once a boy who lived across the road. He used to play here, with me, with one leg on me and the other to push himself, so he could swing happily, without a worry in the world.
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 Mount Clympis that his temper tore the sky into fire and his laughter created waves in the seas the mortals swam in. Melleneses yearned to meet him. She had one unfulfilled wish she wanted to whisper into his ears. And she was so certain that he would grant it. He hadn’t let her mother, the Goddess Demetria, down.

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 Mount Clympis. Her mother was now a Goddess. The Goddess of Rain. And this would now be her home. She was surrounded by everything her fair heart desired. Music played on gilded harps, stories were sung by turquois’d birds, and her feet n’er did touch the ground thanks to velveteen clouds that held her up wherever she went.

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 was sitting in my room, like a stone, all day long. No one had bothered me the whole day. I was happy. Suddenly the front door (the only door) banged open. There was a suspicious looking man right in front of me. He was oblivious of my presence. He went towards the right hand corner of room, and positioned himself in a manner that the next person entering the room would not be able to see him. He was on the alert with his knife drawn out. It looked like he was going to stab the next person who entered the stall. He took out his mobile phone, whispered to someone on the other line.

“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


You think I have to take all the shit in the world. It’s not true. You think you can abuse me, just because you see a ‘use me’ sign. You’re wrong. Throw half a sip of coffee, cigarette ash, black tea, that oily lemon rice you couldn’t swallow, followed by a mixture of bread crumbs and mustard sauce. And expect me to taste the mix. I won’t. No seriously I won’t. I am not meant to take any of that. That’s for the plastic bag that’s inside me. Doesn’t a plastic bag actually deserve that?

On a dustbin


A yellow tape seals off the entrance. Police Line, Do not Cross. A police siren bellows. A man in a black trench coat rushes up a flight of stairs. An apartment door is open. It's a crime scene. Flash bulbs light up as a photographer bends down to shoot something under a table. Assistants scoop up glass shards into plastic and label them.

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


Do I look like a magnet to you? I’ve seen you go weak in the knees at the sight of me and the attraction is quite obvious. But I think it’s time you learnt to stand on your own feet, before you come running to me. I mean, look at what you’re doing to yourself. Bloating into a happy love bug and blaming me for it. Come on, get your act together and move that arse.

On a chair


Beam me up Scotty. And today don’t take me to that dungeon filled with fake smiling robots and expressionless faces. Take me back to my planet.

On a lift


"Nice shoes"

"Wish I was that tall."

"Good morning Boss..hey Boss...Hi Boss...mmm...Yo Boss?"

"He smells goooood"

"Who farted?"

"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.


"What if the water's too cold? What if the bottom gives way? What if a shark wiggles through the drain? What if I start a Tsunami just by jumping in? What if a mermaid seduces me?"
Mrs Allen: "Woody, jump in or I'll push you!!!"

Building swimming pool


I got lost in a forest. I was hungry. Heard a rustle. Aimed my pistol. Shot the bloody animal.
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.


Go on light up. Drag that fiery red end that will warm your throat and insides first, ease your restless nerves and then, slowly start cooking your lungs till they become soft and crumbly like smoked salmon. Drag on that white stick long enough and your lungs will turn dark and tar-stained, sores that will become big, ugly holes will grow in your mouth and throat. You’ll walk to your grave years before god intends you to. Trust me. There was this girl who came to me a dozen or more times a day to light up her ultra milds. I guess she worked in one of these offices around here. It went on for years. I saw her grow from a happy, innocent girl to an older, perhaps bitterer little lady. She got boyfriends, lost boyfriends, got promoted, made more money, traveled around a bit, laughed, cried, lied, bitched, was bitched about, changed her hairstyle ten times, got a tattoo, gorged, got drunk insensate, flirted, was made passes at. But through all this she never stopped lighting up. Then one day she leant forward towards me with an unlit cancer-stick held between her thin fingers, ready to light up, but suddenly her mouth opened involuntarily and out gushed blood and pieces of her insides, lungs, intestines, the stuff you see only in medical labs. All splattered on the wall behind me in a live-exhibition of a Jackson Pollock painting. She crumbled slowly and silently to the ground. And fell dead among her own organs. The unlit cigarette bounced next to her pretty face, which was in death smiling mysteriously, as if she’d at last freed herself from an unimaginable bondage. Her phone lay broken beside her. In it were unerased, ecstatic messages from a rich, and madly loved new boyfriend swearing eternal love to her and promising her they’d be married by the end of the week. He never came for her funeral. I wonder why. Go on light up.

By the electric lighter at any shop.


Like all occasions where God is present, this ceremony was a sombre one. Like the one held two years back in a small London flat, like the one last month in a loft in Soho, like the one held in the monsoons in the jungles of South India. And now today, Tuesday, it was at an abandoned room in the middle of a typical market selling dried meats, unleavened breads, dried fruits and nuts, and the sticky sweet tea that the tribe seemed to subsist on. Home Sweet Home (written in an unknown script, of course). The dusty room had one rickety table and one walk-all-over-me mat. The leader sat on the browned mat. His grey beard filtered the setting sun’s light into midnight black beams, his skin scared the dust motes away, and pious words drooled out of his mouth. In dribbles that drowned the screechy sounds of the city out.

“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

Manoj K

When red blood stained a red carpet

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)


I can remember a conversation between my parents from a long long time ago. The only memory I have of them.

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


As usual she'd had a long day at work, one of those days that you are so glad its finally over. She had a Maruti Esteem, but had recently started to take an autorickshaw to work. And on days like this she was glad she did. Driving through Bangalore's traffic was such a bitch.

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.

Kenny Hereford

Green Tea by Bvlgari grabbed my groin.
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?
Or brazen?
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)

George David

They wandered across fields, forests, barren lands and snow capped mountains. They devised creative maneuvers and occupied strategic positions. They wore olive in forests, mauve in deserts and white when it snowed. They were careful about what they ate so they didn’t encounter hostile troops during daylight. They executed their missions well before daybreak. Then I came along. And not only have you become lazy, taking hours for what you did in minutes, you crib when the flush doesn’t work.

In the loo/ on top of the commode.


Today’s paper said, ‘Stress indeed is the number one culprit in terms of its bad effects on ones health. Working long hours has now been shown to be one form of stress that can affect ones health. A balance of time at work and time for relaxation is key to preserving ones health.’
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

Gautam Dev

When I think back and reflect on the amount of wine I've drunk I shudder with guilt. I'm sure I've imbibed enough to have made a thousand enemies, broken at least two hundred laws, rubbed up thousands of people the wrong way, hurt at least a hundred waiters, defaced ten kilometers of public property, pissed on thousands of walls, made many dozens of women blanch at the thought of me, dropped and broken thousands of glasses and driven scores of people off the road. But when I look at the crimson wine again I think of all the workers who earn their livelihood toiling hard in the fields just so the grape gets to a factory. I think of all the dreams that would be shattered, homes broken and educations ruined should I stop putting my lips around the rim of glass holding this juice of the earth. So I feel it's better to let their lives bloom than me be selfish and worry about my bloated liver.

On a bottle in a bar/ Or a poster where the bottles are placed in a bar


You may think that I don't notice much, but I've seen it all. I've seen street fights that have happened for apparently no reason at all. I've seen college kids have their first smoke in the darkness that surrounds me, thinking that no one would see them. I've seen drunken men barely able to stand who’ve held on to me with one hand, and emptied all that they've drunk that night with the other. I've seen policemen take bribes in the name of upholding the law, while all they've ever wanted was a fatter wallet. I've send peddlers peddle and people buy more substances than you could ever imagine, in the hope that it would open their minds. I've seen people being mugged in the middle of the night, in the middle of the city. I've seen cars smash into the light poles next to me, though still bent, they still light the way for many. I've seen children get their first taste of graffiti on my wall, penning out their thoughts for the world to see. I've seen roads stay the same even though a hundred governments have come and gone. I've seen beggars look up and hold out their hands to people who've stepped out of the finest restaurants. I've seen lifetimes change in a day, I've seen day's that seem like a lifetime. I've seen and lived through it all. I've seen how inhuman humans can get. And yet they have the nerve to call me the wall.

On a wall


She visited me every week religiously, at the same place. But the time was always very uncertain. Once it was a Tuesday. Then it was a Saturday. Sometimes there were lots of people around and at others it was just us. I have to confide, I liked the times when we were all alone. I think she did too. Because soon she started visiting me at odd hours when there were fewer people. Her visits always had a way of cheering me up. Looking at her slender, curvaceous figure, made me blush. And she looked good in anything she wore. But my favourite was the pink halter dress that she’d tried on that day, the last time I was to see her. But I did manage to over hear someone talk about her and got her name. My dear, dear Klepto.

In a ladies' changing/ trial room.


All Cock

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

Pooja Shankar

I’ve been sitting here for so long now that I can’t even remember how I got here. Yet, as I watch the world go by, I sometimes think about what Mustafa would have to say about things. We’d lived together for 4,000 years, you see. And he was like, well, probably any other genie. A bit more stubborn, though. And then, one day...everything changed. That was the day the little black boy found us. In a trash can. I can’t imagine how he did it, but he actually managed to get Mustafa to wriggle free. My genie was so thrilled that he granted the boy one special wish. The little boy thought about it for a really long time. And then looked up and said, “I want to become somebody important when I grow up”. “You mean like a rich man? An astronaut? A scientist?” asked Mustafa. “No…like the President. Of my country.” Mustafa puffed up his big chest and laughed. “The President? Of the United States?!! Oh boy!” Then he looked at the little boy. The boy smiled back at him not understanding why Mustafa found his wish so funny. I winked at Mustafa. He smiled, patted his chest and told the boy that he would grant him his wish. That was more than 40 years ago. I haven’t heard from Mustafa since. I used to tell him that his wishes were all hogwash. Poor little black boy. I wonder what he’s doing now.

Supposed to be on a green bottle. But think it's more practical on a trash can.


I house words. They’re definitely a better species.
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)

Zena D'Silva

There once lived a young baker and his wife in a little village. Pa baker and Ma baker loved little children but couldn’t have any themselves. So they adopted 12 little children from the parson’s orphanage. ‘What do we name them?’ Pa baker asked his wife one night. The wife unable to sleep was counting sheep. ‘One sheep, two sheep, three sheep…’ Pa baker mistaking the numbers for names christened his children one, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve. The children never went out alone. They would eat together, play together and even go to school together. Very soon they came to be known in the village as the ‘baker’s dozen’. Then one day the parson asked Pa baker if he could care for another child. He was none too pleased. The parson convinced him God would shower him with blessings, peace and prosperity. Pa baker finally relented. He took the waif-like creature under his wing. But that didn’t change a thing. The villagers continued calling his brood of thirteen the ‘baker’s dozen’.

Poster on a bakery.


What's Cooking?

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.


Her voice was magic. He spent every waking hour thinking of her, her divine voice and its perfect harmony. He dreamt of being close enough to smell her perfume. He wished against all wishes and hoped against hope to be able to kiss her some day. His wish was granted and sadly, she wasn't the only one kissing him.

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


Pom-poms at Tom’s – A true story

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.


There was a long, long line of spirits at the gate waiting to get into heaven. Not all these spirits could fit into heaven, so the ones who died the worst death would be allowed in.
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)


It was a very bright morning, when I woke up and saw a massive traffic jam. The noises drove me crazy. I stood for twenty years on this junction and had never come across such a mess. Thank god I woke up just in time. I noticed a lot of people making faces and calling me bad names, just when I turned red. Well, I thought the colour red stood for love because I loved everybody around me and cared a lot for their safety. I also noticed people becoming very impatient and rushing before I could turn green. I never expected to come across such a day. I have stood all my life under the hot sun, and also in heavy rains, helping vehicles and pedestrians. Finally, the traffic jam started to clear up. I was then quite relaxed till the same situation occurred in the evening. This time I tackled it well right from the beginning. It was then eleven-o-clock, and I was about to fall asleep till I heard a bang! Two cars had collided. A child was bleeding, and for the first time I wanted to be a human who could help, and not a signal. It is very important to be a disciplined citizen and to obey me. Remember, I will be your friend forever. Hope you will be mine too.

(On a traffic-signal post)


Dear litterer,

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.


Vinod D'sa

“Ladiesu idhdhaare?” asks the cop. “What the *&^% problem is it of yours?” I reply.

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’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)

Nikhil Narayanan

“Aaaaargh!!! You just punctured my eye you rotten little drunk,” screamed Trad. “I guess they will only realise my pain when I bleed. Agnostic infidels. I think I might as well just hang myself to death. Oh, I already am hanging. Somebody tighten the noose for god’s sake!” Silence. Snap. “Oops, the wrong head. Sorry nail.”

(On a dart board)


I wake up in the morning groggy eyed, stretching and yawning along with my brothers and sisters. We are piled high, one on top of another and that’s how we call it a day everyday. Sometimes while we stretch we fall out of the pile and wake up with a start. What I love about mornings is the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and cheese sandwiches. I hear different people laugh, cry, fight, scream, shout and celebrate everyday. Once, a gentleman sitting alone at my table, smoking a pipe kept staring at me for a long time and picked me up and took me home with him. Oh! how I missed my family then. He didn’t even keep me on his table or even on top of a glass. He threw me out along with the old newspapers two days. I was then sent to the recycling plant and got a new look and of course hoped I would start a new life! I was again stacked along with some others who I called my friends and we were taken away. I fell asleep during the long drive. When I opened my eyes guess where I was? At the same coffee shop where my family lived!!!!

(On a coaster)


Thunderbolts lashed at the fat clouds, the earth was a swarm of raindrops melting into each other, they looked like little ants made of mercury merging together to form a shade of earth that Sunil took a pile of and smeared all over his body. It reminded him of his ancestors, said a voice in his head. A kind of justification for being insane, nude and clay-caked. His ancestors would’ve prayed to the earth, they would’ve eaten off it, and then finally (with a pious sigh) would’ve offered themselves as ash into its sticky arms. He heard a lizard tut-tutting at his thoughts. Did it mean “I approve”? He kept forgetting what thaima (his maternal grandmother) kept whispering into his ears on that sun-soaked verandah that faced the paddy-fields. The clay had started cracking now. Peeling off like bits of skin that had decided to leave him. It fell in a heap at his feet, like he were the God of Flesh, and the skin were an offering to him. It had been a while now, but the smell of clay refused to leave him. Like the smell of his wife’s hair after she’d conditioned it with egg.
“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)

Nikhil Narayanan

The familiar sound of the creaking glass door was unmistakable. The peon was leaving. She let out a subtle sigh – one audible only to those blessed with that fast vanishing emotion called empathy. Like everyone and everything else, he’d also left without acknowledgement. It was one of those rare moments when she felt the urge to stray; to let go of her noble principles. Why serve such people, with utmost commitment and receive indifference in return. But why? It was probably something in her genes. Some sort of karma. Something she could do nothing about. She sighed again. The same old sigh.

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)


I jumped over fences and squeezed my way through narrow passages. Hopping from one roof to another. Missing the gun by an inch. I found a safe lane and thought I’d got ’em off my back. Just when I thought I’d escaped, I saw the gun pointing at me. I was stunned. And this is how I look ever since. A mannequin.

K Manoj

It was a dark night. Everyone at the bar had gone home. Even the ever awake watchman had fallen asleep outside. Amidst the snoring noise of the watchman, I saw this masked man enter the room through the AC cabin hole. He was carrying a torchlight and a sharp object – looked like a knife. He went past me and reached the cabin where the cashbox was kept. He emptied the cash inside a bag which he was carrying. Just then the snoring watchman woke up. To my surprise, the watchman came inside, scratched his bottom and went out to snore again. The masked man took away the booty and vanished inside the AC cabin hole. The next day, I saw the bar owner talking to a big belly police constable. I heard the owner say, “There was no one inside when the robbery happened”. I smiled to myself. Sad, they can’t talk to a beautiful looking vase like me.


I got licked again. No wonder Daddy named me Stamp.


Ever wondered what I’d say if I could speak? For starters I’d ask for that scoop of chocolate ice cream that just ran under my nose, it can get pretty hot up here. And then on those cold winter days, that harsh November breeze, when that guy who wears overalls and drives a big van forgets to change my fused bulb, I yearn for those warm pullovers in vibrant colours that walk so enticingly past me. And the rain, I love the rain. Little droplets of joy, washing away any traces of dust that stick around just to plague me. Dust makes me sneeze. People call it ‘flickering’, apparently. They say “Oh look, it’s flickering”. But I’m sneezing, I’m sneezing!

(On a lamp post)


Man 1: You’ve been here for quite a while.

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)


The first use of teddy bears as weapons of war seems to stem way back to the early years of the Milk Wars. They proved deeply ineffective, as their stuffing was flammable and their button like eyes kept falling out. But now it appears the Tediz are back, only this time much stronger and in greater numbers. In their ranks are Tekis, advanced technological nerds. When a Tekis is shot, a sticky mass of pizza dough and pepsi cola slomps out of the wound. They are easy targets, as they mostly never get up from their chairs. However, their weapon is technology. And you just can't trust them.

Gautam Dev

I am about a hundred years old. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in a small iron casting workshop run by a very old man. From there I was sent to the local park where I spent many summers under an old oak tree surrounded by squirrels, woodpeckers, mountain quail and grouse. I have seen murderers, lovers, beggars, old men, soldiers, priests, prostitutes and even one presidential candidate discussing his election strategy. Many years later the park made way for a large shopping mall and I was sent to Bangalore, India by the Rotary Club as a gift. Here too I've seen my share of murderers, thieves, ladies of ill repute, beggars, lovers, honest men, wise men, oafs, dolts, fools, atheletes and ofcourse the politician who discusses his evil intentions in great detail. One thing I can tell you for sure - people are the same wherever in the world you are. Another thing, always check for wet paint before you sit on a park bench.

(On a park bench)

Gautam Dev

I was a money lender in my last life. I took gold, jewels and sometimes even food from poor people when they were down and out. I once even refused a dying man money because the two candlesticks he came into my shop with were old and worthless. He begged me to think about it and said he'd come back the next day. In the evening I scraped the green paint from the candlestands to find they were solid gold underneath. I hurriedly stuck the green paint back and decided to give the old man a few rupees for them when he came the next day. He didn't show up. Neither did he come the next day. Or the day after that. I melted down one candlestand and used the money to build myself a huge mansion. When I died, I was sent back as this parking meter because God thought taking money was what I was best at. Incidentally, the old man did return. He demanded his candlestands back. When I told him I just had one left, he used that to kill me.

(On a parking meter)

K Manoj

Once upon a time, I was a dark little stone. I was lonely and badly bruised. I had wild thorny creepers growing all over my body. So I suffered from sleeplessness and bad skin rashes. My life was horrible to say the least. My soft, flowery neighbours never looked at me. With no cure in sight, I lost all hopes. All this changed one day, when a gentleman called Sir Mark Cubbon sat on me. Something told me this fat looking man will change my life forever. He smoked a cigar and looked genuinely concerned. He stared at me for a long time. Before leaving the place, he spoke something to himself. And the very next day, some khaki clad men carried me from this place. I was handed over to master craftsmen for a makeover. Those men used fine chisels and hand tools on me. Soon I was a healthy looking stone. I was then brought back to this place and firmly grounded. Soon everyone started liking me. And I lived happily ever after with early morning walkers and children sitting on me. I now have flowery trees as my friends. Some of them even confessing they are in love with me.

(On a Cubbon Park bench)