Palak puris

•August 31, 2014 • 1 Comment

It was for the first time that she was kneading the dough for palak puris, adding more dry flour to compensate for too much water she had put in. The wet dough was sticking to her hands, getting into her nails, and she hated this part of cooking the most- her hands covered with dough that is hard to get off. But today she was determined to make palak puris, one of his favourites, to surprise him. She hated cooking, always did. She could cook reasonably well but she never cooked because she wanted to, only out of necessity. But he wanted her to cook for him. He told her that it will make him feel special, someone for whom she will do anything even if she didn’t like it. So she cooked regularly, for him.

She never thought she would marry a person chosen by her parents. She wasn’t forced into marrying him, but she was 27, tired of living alone, hadn’t had a single serious relationship, and had pretty much given up the hope of having one. He was good looking, their hobbies matched, and was earning well at a reputed firm. So she married him, thinking she wouldn’t have found a better partner herself. The prince charming dreams are just too unreal- she thought. The first few months, the honeymoon period as it is called, were the happiest of her life. He cared for her, he made her laugh, she was glad she went for the arranged marriage. Sometimes she felt she didn’t fully understand him yet, but she had her whole life ahead to do that, so she focused on the happy parts. She quit her present job and they moved to London when he got a promotion. She loved the new city, she always loved traveling and experiencing new places anyways.

She was finally satisfied with the softness of the dough so she went and washed her hands. She placed the deep frying pan on the stove and was about to light the flame when she realized she forgot to add salt and other spices to the dough. She had this feeling all along that she was missing something. So she left the pan on the stove and started kneading the dough again after adding salt, chilli powder, and a few other spices to it. While the dough stuck to her hands for the second time she was cursing herself for being so lost and forgetful all the time. She wasn’t like this before.. She was meticulous and sharp, just like her mother. But lately all she thought about was how frequent their fights were, how he would find reasons to get angry. All day at work she would think about how to avoid spending time with him. Sometimes he would get angry for the tiniest reasons, he would find reasons to blame her, to tell her that she didn’t love him, and that she was with him only because they were married, tied together on a piece of paper. She sometimes felt it was true, but tried not to show it, she was scared of him. He had started getting aggressive with her last year. He would only shout at her in the beginning, using curse words, and then one day he hit her. And now it was frequent. He would have a sudden burst of rage, and then he would cool down and apologize sincerely, beg for her forgiveness, tell her that he needs her and her love. She would stay silent most of the times, crying, other times she would shout back, but in the end she would forgive him. What choice did she have afterall, she would think and cry even more for her helplessness.

The puris were turning out quite well, she smiled. She wasn’t expecting him for another hour. She picked up the next rolled out puri and dropped it in the boiling oil, it made a splash and a teaspoon of hot oil landed on her wrist. She shrieked out loud and immediately ran to the sink, turned on the tap and placed her hand under running water. It gave her a little relief but then, without warning, her tears started rolling down her cheeks. She couldn’t control them, and within seconds she was crying uncontrollably, for no reason. She turned off the stove, the puri still in the pan, almost burnt, another one rolled out ready to be fried, went to her room, got her passport out of the cupboard, picked up her purse, changed into her favourite and comfortable slippers and headed towards the door. She shut the door of the apartment behind her, paused and took a deep breath. But as soon as she exhaled she panicked and started going through her purse looking for something. In less than 5 seconds she found the keys, felt relieved and opened the door of the apartment that was her home for the last 2 years. She threw the keys inside without stepping in and shut the door behind her once more, and for the last time.



•May 15, 2012 • 3 Comments

It may take a week or a lifetime, but time heals everything. Well, almost everything. For the scars time is unable to heal, it builds other changes or distortions around those scars that over time those scars become virtually unnoticeable. So you might feel those scars or see the physical manifestation of them everyday but eventually you get so used to them that you dont think about them anymore. Till someone points them out. Or they start hurting suddenly. But you always know, never forget that they exist. Just that the knowledge of their existence got buried in the piles of thoughts that you have every moment every day. How wonderful is time. Or is it cruel?

Talking of physical scars. I have this stitch mark on my forehead which I got in one of those unfortunate accidents everyone has in his or her childhood. For my sister, it was falling on stairs, for me it was standing at the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time when a boy came running towards me with his eyes set in some other direction. That was 16 years ago. And I still have that scar. For me it’s nothing. It’s an integral part of me. I don’t even notice it when I look into mirror every morning (and evening, and more).  I remembered that scar yesterday when someone asked about it. 16 years it’s been with me, and I keep forgetting about it.

But there used to be more scars, that finally healed. On my knee, on my arm.. all disappeared.

But the other scars. The ones that you feel, and not see. The scars of losing a beloved relative and not shedding a single tear, hurting a dear friend and not realizing it till you got hurt yourself, falling in love and losing it. And then you forget about some scar which was about to heal and you do the stupid mistake again and end up opening the wound again. It will feel like someone is scratching the dried blood off your a day old, but far from healed wound. And this time, it deepens so much that it leaves a scar that will never heal.

These scars, they change you. And after a while, they become a part of you. You don’t forget the scars but you forget that you were different before those scars. They become the definition of your identity. Sad? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Time. It does great things. Great in which way, you don’t even realize till you get that scar that can never be healed.

“What if we die and it turns out God is a big chicken”

•May 24, 2011 • 8 Comments

A moment later, just a hundredth or thousandth fraction of second later, I saw light again. It was bright. I couldn’t open my eyes completely at first. But when I did, I realized I was lying on my back and staring at the sky. Smooth and serene sky. Cloudless.

Wind was rushing by.. but it was wrong! It was blowing from behind my back. Upwards. Isn’t that against the laws of physics? I can’t remember the specific law guiding the air movement. I am pretty sure I have read something about that. But that is trivial right now. What exactly was happening? Wait a second! Am I falling? Am I? I am! How…?

I was falling. I didn’t even realize it. It didn’t feel like falling. Nothing like I imagined falling would be like – fast, world going bizzare, and once gravity was done with me I would hit the ground and everything would go absolutely still.. all over within a few seconds. But it was nothing like that. It was slow. And peaceful. I still waited to feel the ground. Ten seconds.. Twenty.. A minute.. Nothing. I couldn’t feel even a light thud. And its been a while like this.

How long have I been falling for? I stopped trying to keep track of time after around an hour.. But it must have been a few hours at least. Whats wrong?! I tried standing on my feet. But I could not keep my feet anywhere. Gravity was weird. I tried looking around. It was just vast expanse of spotless white sky. There was no ground anywhere in sight either.

Its been ages. Literally. Why am I not reaching the ground. Has Earth disappeared? Am I in space? But that should be dark.. not like the white sky I was looking at.

Am I dreaming? Doesn’t feel like dreaming. And I hardly dream when I sleep. Or.. I can be in coma.. But I don’t remember meeting an accident or anything. Actually I don’t remember exactly what I was doing before I started falling. I have been falling for a really long time.

Am I… dead?

Is this what being dead feels like? I feel no pain. I can feel nothing. Just a slight touch of cool wind passing by. But not chilly cold. Pleasantly cool.

How did I die? I don’t remember.. Infact.. who am I? What was my name?! I have no memory of anything! I do know how nature works. I remember I know about many things of this world. But I do not know any thing specific about myself. I can’t even remember how I looked like!

I was finally feeling something. Panic.

This is no hell or heaven. Where are the other people who have been dead? I never gave much thought to what would after-life be like. But from all that I heard in my short (or was it long?) life time I never imagined it would be like this. No one to judge your life deeds. No gates of heaven or hell. No angels. No burning fires. No God..

All you had to do was to keep falling in a bottomless abyss and stare at bright white sky. Cluelessly.

And the panic went away. I am just glad there is no pain now.

What a waste of life I lived..

Anecdotes that I never forget.

•June 18, 2010 • 4 Comments

As I went through the chapter describing Kushwant Singh’s experiences during the partition of India and Pakistan, in his autobiography Truth, Love and a little Malice, I recalled my mother once telling her families’ experiences. Though she was born after her family had moved to India after partition, she still knew the stories of those times as told by her elder brothers and sisters. It was the time when we were watching the opening scenes of the movie Gadar, when she told us a few of those.

In days preceding partition, violence had broken out in parts of western Punjab, which now belong to Pakistan, where my maternal grandfather had his big house. They, along with hundreds of Hindu and Sikh families, decided to move out of the village with whatever they could carry. The houses with lots of family gold buried under the floors and in the walls (those times, this was considered the safest method of storing the treasures) were left unprotected. My grandfather along with his wife, a few young children and a newly born boy boarded the train for the new-India. The trains were stopped in between for days, the Hindus and Sikhs dragged out of the trains and killed in cold blood. But not before hurting them where it hurt the most. The young daughters and sisters were raped in front of their fathers and brothers. The Sikhs were punished by cutting off their sacred hair. And much more.. The hatred was never one sided. The same was done with the Muslims crossing the border from the other side.

My grandfather and his family escaped all this by bolting the doors of the train compartment and not opening them until they reached the destination. The boarders of the train had to relieve themselves in the compartment. The children got sick. And sicker of living in the smell of vomit and shit for days at stretch. My grandfathers’ elder children even suggested literally throwing out their youngest brother, still feeding on breast milk and suffering from extreme diarrhea, as he was too much trouble for all of them. Still, my grandmother did not abandon her child. I was appalled to hear this. How could my masijis and mamajis even think about such a thing! But then, that was the atrocities of partition saying that, not them.

On other hand, my grandfather’s brother decided to take a lorry(truck sort of thing) to move to India. The lorry being overloaded with people and luggage overturned in its way. Only a few survived. The brother had to be operated upon to be saved. But he never came out alive out of the operation. It is believed that the doctors turned corrupt seeing all the gold he carrying tied to his body. This conclusion is not baseless because his dead body later showed signs of poison.

Sometimes I wonder, what causes people to turn so evil. What inculcates so much hatred in them that they are ready to kill masses of innocent people.  And it is not that its all history. All this still happens. Iraq. Afghanistan. How many more such chapters? How many more such anecdotes?

Of swings and smells..

•September 29, 2009 • 11 Comments

It has always been my hobby to just sit in the park near my house and enjoy the sunsets. There is something really beautiful about dusks that nobody else seems to notice. As for me, I can sense the sunsets, or maybe my biological clock is tuned to alarm me at that time. My sister is always surprised that I ask her at almost the same time daily to accompany me to the park without knowing the time. Ofcourse she does not understand that whatever I do is not affected by the way the tiny hands are oriented in the clock on the wall. I can hear it’s ticks when its utterly silent but I never look at it. I simply dont need to.

Today was something different. Something was about to happen. I could sense it. As I was trying to think about the possiblities of what might happen today, my sister came to me to wake me up in the evening herself and offered to take me to the park, very unlike her. Told you so! – I told my self. I prinked my self up as much I could manage and left my house for the park. Take the street to the left of the house, walk for about a minute, take a right turn and the park is right there. Its entrance has the revolving swing, where the little kids play all the time. I was in sixth class when I was hurt badly while playing with this. I never rode the swing ever since.

The park seemed the usual way. Nothing different. Nothing life changing. The aunts were gossiping in hushed tones, the kids were shouting, playing hide and seek, chasing each other, innocently challenging each other at every other turn. I smiled to myself. Sigh! I wish I could be like them. I sat at my usual place and inhaled the fresh air, enjoying the sounds around me. The birds chirped in the vast sky while flying back to their nests, working hard for the day. The air was still somewhat warm. The sun had not set completely till now.

As time went by, the coolness of night was overtaking the warmth of the day. The nights are no different for me than the day, I can sit here indefinitely but it is not the case for the people around me. They started returning to their homes and so I also prepared my self to return. Again as I was passing the swing at the entrance, I again thought of the accident which changed my life. I was disappointed, the reminiscence of the accident and the disappointment of nothing different happening mingled together as the day came to almost an end. Still gloomy, I left the swing, which was making creaking noise behind me, while revolving slowly. I suddenly bumped into a person. I came back to my senses. He was a boy, little taller than me. There was something about his aura, something different, finally! We exchanged sorries. I can surely tell that he has recently started coming to the park, and was somewhat of my age. I have, many a times, heard his voice among all other commotion in the park.

I was simply walking back to home, along with my sister, still trying to recognize what was about that boy that made him so distinct. Ah! It stuck to me as sudden as the impact with the boy. It was the way he smelt. It was unusual, pleasant-unusual.

I was happy, so full  of joy that I actually saw a dream that night. I usually do not dream. But that day, I could even tell the different colours in the dream, actually make out the contours of lively things, even distinguish the scent of the boy from other smells. I have heard that you do not really see colourful dreams, its all in shades of gray, and can not even smell during the dream. Now I wonder if its really true. It obviously is not true, because I just had the amazing dream!

From the next day onwards, I followed the same routine. But I was not same anymore. As the boy passed me everyday in the park, I used to catch the scent of him lingering behind him. Soon, I found myself waiting to go to the park, wanting to smell him, more than to be there just to enjoy the sunset. I tried to figure out his voice among all the blurred voices around me. Tried to guess what he looks like. I had started to smile to myself, without any reason, just smile.

Life went on as usual. Why would it be different? My mum still cooks delicious food. My father still cracks stupid jokes at which we just cant help laughing a lot. My sister still cries everyday when I ask her to accompany me to the park. The small kids still play in the streets in the evening. But no one noticed that something in me had changed. I was happier than usual these days. Unusually happy.

It is Tuesday. My mum had given me the meethi boondi prasad just as I left for the park, which I simply love and always ask for more. Again I am sitting at my usual place in the park. For the past three days, the boy has not come to the park. I know because I have not caught his smell, neither his voice. I missed his smell. Time passed as I waited for that smell. It never came. Dejected, I with my sister headed back to home. While returning, my sister asked me to take a different route back to the house. “Why?” – I inquired. She told me that a truck was standing in the street which we take usually. “Oh!”

I returned home and asked my mum why was the truck there. She informed me that the family that had moved in a month ago was moving some where else. Something struck me. With a heavy feeling in my heart, I further inquired – “Is it the family with a boy of almost my age?” “Yes, why?” – she replied with a tone of surprise. “Nothing. Just asked.” My heart contracted, and then everything went blur. The food was tasteless. The jokes were not funny. The dreams that night were black and white, shades of gray, with a sorrow in them. Next day, as I passed the swing at the entrance of the park, the ghost of past again struck me. At this very swing, once I had lost my sight in an unfortunate accident, and again at this very swing, I had got a reason to live, a hope, a dream, and again, at this very swing, I have lost it even before I could get hold of it. The only thing I remember now is that pleasant smell..


•July 6, 2009 • 4 Comments

Oh dear, I dread the day

when your shadow might fade away

As I amble into the future

Often I imagine

that sleepless night

under the starry skies

all of us above the rest

watching the dawn break

wishing the sun shall not rise today

For one day,

please let the time stay

for this moment shall never return

Oh truly, I wished!

If present is the gift,

why do I have to let go of it?

But the sun did rise

stealing away the serene night

And we moved on

Oh, moved apart..

Beginning of an end

or ending of another beginning

I do not care.

But I still dread the day

when your shadow might fade away.

What not to do in Lisboa!

•June 17, 2009 • 7 Comments
  1. Do not think that you can find a cheap place to live in the center of the city very easily, especially when the city’s most famous festival is going on the day. You might end up looking for 2 hours and finding some really awful places at nothing less than 35€.
  2. Do not go looking for a hotel leaving a really good spot along the road where the celebrations parade is about to start. You might end up finding no hotel to suit you and also loosing your perfect spot.
  3. Never think that an Indian, specially a Sardarji-in-hurry on a metro station, can guide you properly. He might tell you all the ticketing procedures and ways to save money but you might end up in a situation where you might have actually shed some extra bucks than would have sufficed.
  4. Also, make sure you know the complete path to the Gurudwara, the Sardarji told you about (where you can stay and eat for free :D). And even if you are lost, it is better to call up the Sardarji (ofcourse, you took his number right?), rather than asking for directions to “some Indian Temple nearby” from the locals, who by the way hardly know any English. (How else would you explain a Gurudwara?!) You might end up in a Hindu Temple.
    Better, what is google for! Search for gurudwaras beforehand on google maps. 😉 Yeah, you can try too. It won’t give you good results but it has a really cool feature, try Bird’s eye view of the map, you’ll know what I am talking about. So, be an intelligent consumer, search on google for the place and use bing for directions. 😛
  5. Do not think that you can cover multiple sight seeing places in a day, when you have included a gigantic Zoo in your destinations list. You might end up covering just the Zoo, as everything else closes before 6pm!
  6. Do not think that 1 Gigabyte will be enough memory for three days of pictures. You might run out of memory just at some amazing capture-it! moments.

*( Replace all the might-s, with what actually we did 😉 )

Murphy was not a fool to state the Murphy’s Law. Do not believe me? Here, have a look :

  • The battery of your digicam will be discharged just when the best exhibits of the parade will begin, and much better ones will come when your cell phone’s battery has discharged too.
  • In the hunt to find a Gurudwara, you will end up in a Mandir far away from the city center. And if by pure luck, you do discover that the Mandir also has some accommodation facility, they will charge you the same amount as the hostels in the center of the city, which you would have left in hope of finding the Gurudwara.
  • You would be shooting the pictures of tigers when they are far away from you, but just when they come really really close to you, you will run out of memory on your digicam! And by the time you will delete some pictures to make some space, the tigers would have realised that you are not there to feed them and then they will walk away ignoring you.
  • You will not wake up by the alarm on that very day when you had planned to go sightseeing early as you have to catch a bus to return the same day. And when you do wake up, it will rain on that very day!
  • While looking for tram no. 28 (the best route to do some sightseeing, as described by wikitravel), you will miss severals of tram no. 28E. And when failing to find tram no. 28, you finally decide to hop on the tram no. 28E only, you will not find its stop for atleast half an hour (which were earlier so abundant, when you were not looking for them!). And then you will wait another half an hour for the tram to arrive. And when you lose all hope and start retracing your path back, a tram no. 28E will just pass by the corner towards that very stop which you just left! And thats not all. Because when you will see the next tram no. 28E approaching a stop, you will run to catch it, but it will not stop because it will be too crowdy already!

In case you are not familiar with the Murphy’s Law, here it is in the crudest form :

“If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.”