Wednesday, October 20, 2010


It was a game they used to play often. They would sit across on a table and stare into each other's eyes. The one to blink first would lose. For Anand, it was an opportunity.

Anand sat with elbows resting on the table and both his hands under his chin. Mamta sat straight back right across. And they tried hard not to blink.

"Deep blue just like Pacific ocean!" he thought as he considered the unusual hue of her eyes. "How lovely would it be if I could just look at her like this every second of my waking hours!" The tables, the chairs, the walls, and rest of their friends disappeared gradually to be replaced by angels playing harps on cotton clouds. A deep fragrance, possibly her new perfume, filled the room. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes for while.

"Caught!" she cried. "I win again."

(This was done as an exercise on the flow of time in fiction during one of my classes today. The first sentence of this short piece of fiction is iterative time and the rest of it is slow motion.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Little Green Man

Today was one of those rare days when I was headed to the library to actually pick up a course book. (Usually, I only go there to chat for hours and post insignificant updates on facebook.) I was waiting to cross the road when an elderly couple holding hands of a 4-5 year old boy who was walking between them joined me in my wait. The elderly couple were taking this opportunity to educate the boy about the art of crossing the road.

To give you some context, this crossing was one of those where, before you cross the road, you need to press a button and then wait for the light signal to turn green. The light signal is in the form of a little red man. When the little red man turns green, you can cross the road, else you (should) wait.

The elderly woman gently explained to the little boy that we are only supposed to cross the road when the little green man appears. And now the little boy was eagerly waiting for the man to turn green. This being a busy intersection, it was taking forever. While we waited, a lot of people crossed the road without waiting for the signal as soon as they had the opportunity. The little boy kept asking "Why is that man crossing now? The Little Green Man isn't here yet." The elderly man went (mostly for the benefit of the little boy) "tut tut, no you shouldn't. You could get hurt doing this." So the elderly couple, the little boy, me, and a couple of more people stayed. I would have crossed the road, if it had not been for the little boy. I somehow did not want to set a wrong example for him.

I was also reminded of what Kazuo Ishiguro had to say yesterday at Newcastle City Hall about how the world conspires to make a child believe that everything is perfect and that the world is a nice place to live in. He gave beautiful examples of how sometimes people pause their fights and hide their cigarettes and put on beautiful smiles when a child is passing by. Of course that doesn't happen everywhere, but I am sure all of us do this to some extent in some form or the other.

Anyways, this was turning out to be a rather long wait and I was silently praying for the little green man to appear soon or for the elderly couple to cross the road without waiting for him. When no one could bear it any longer, the elderly couple finally started crossing. The little boy protested that the green man isn't here yet. The elderly woman vindicated their little infraction by stating that the little green man had probably called in sick today. But anyways, as soon as they started crossing the road, all of us who had been waiting patiently soon followed, relieved that we were still in the little boy's good books as law-abiding human beings. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Our Waste Bin Woes!!

The first day we put our garbage out, our garbage bin was taken away...perhaps by the council or probably some neighbour who liked the way it looked. Here is a short poem dedicated to the bin:


Oh! Our dear bin,
where hast thou gone?
Your green splendour!
Oh yes, we miss you
a lot!

We remember well
the last time we set
our eyes on you!
We took out our garbage,
all our dirty secrets,
and stowed them deep
into you!

Then we dragged you out
through the slippery floor
of our backyard.
We remember the sound
your wheels made
as they squelched through
the moist moss.

But now, as we step out!
Outside the yard! We search
for you dear friend.
But you are all but gone.
Did someone steal you?
or did the council take you away?
For us, they are both the same,
as we cannot see you anywhere!

Oh our dear green bin,
How much we miss your charm!
Now that your green spelndour
no longer dots our backyard!

We promise to take more care,
and to watch out for you
as we would our best friend
or our soulmate too!
We fold our hands and pray
to the lord. Oh Lord!
please show us a miracle and
make our dear friend appear
back into our back yard!

Just to be sure!

The second day after I got a University Bus Pass, I boarded a stagecoach to the University. After occupying the most convenient seat available, I relaxed and started reading a book. At the next bus stop, a middle-aged white man dressed in a formal trouser but an informal jacket got into the bus and came towards me. He asked where I was going.

"King's Gate", I said.

"Can I see your ticket please?" he muttered (or something that sounded like it).

Unsure of what I had heard, I showed him my bus pass reluctantly. He scanned it with a fancy scanner and then scanned a bar code on a paper that he was carrying. After almost two minutes, he looked satisfied and moved on.

He did the same routine with a few other passengers and then came back to where I was sitting. I looked at him and our eyes met. Just to be sure, I asked him, "Were you checking the tickets?"

"Yes!" he chuckled. He went to the front of the bus, smiling to himself. And just before he got down, he looked back at me and waved a good bye.