Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
In the New York Times of May 11, 2009, David Brooks, in his article, “They Had It Made,” wrote, “In the late 1930s, a group of 268 promising young men, including John F. Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, entered Harvard College. By any normal measure, they had it made.” The group became the subject of a cohort longitudinal study initiated by Arlie Bock at the Harvard University in the 1930s. It came to be known as the Grant Study.
It may be, thus, open to conjecture that an ordained outcome, premeditated by a supreme power, could only have engineered her rise to the high noon of Indian politics. However, it has to be conceded that the law of cosmic design of determinism, in its entirety, will always remain beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The contest was judged on December 3, 2010 by Jamshed Rajan and he wrote,
Since the time of Adam, all men want the same thing. They think about it every seven seconds and 5000 times a year.
In the pursuit of this goal, men have expended plenty of time, money and energy; resorted to camouflage, deceit, and lies and, some have even gone to war for it. However, only a small percentage of men have succeeded in getting what they desire and the rest have just fallen by the wayside and surrendered. However, hope burns eternal in their hearts that perhaps someday, sometime they may strike gold. Gene Raskin captures the plight of these losers in the song, “Those Were The Days,”
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same
She laughed, got up, on tiptoes climbed up the steps, and prancingly weaved her way to the house. I vended my way back to my guest apartment and lay awake, with the glow burning more fiercely than ever, till 5 am.
Archana looked gorgeous in her bridal wear on that day. When our eyes met, she gave a shy smile and looked down.
"Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way"
After many years, Archana, now a mother of two, called me but I felt as if it was only yesterday that we had talked to each other. The intermediate years melted away, we were young once again and, now that she was married, my jokes were a little naughtier and the ad libbing contained many double entendres. She enjoyed them and, indeed, confessed that she had not laughed that hard in a long, long time. I immediately paid a compliment to her husband for not wasting his time in trying to amuse his wife. Out came her favourite Marathi phrase, “Gup bas.” She added that her husband was a very good person but admitted that he was bit of a bore. I then told her that I was always there to bring some spark to her married life. She laughed and said, “Keep dreaming.”
However, not all was lost. After a few days she called me and said that the previous night she had gone to a party with her husband and he had worn such a baggy suit that she remembered how smartly dressed I was in the black suit on the morning I gave that speech in Pune. “I wished you were there instead of him.”
Sunday, October 17, 2010
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Friday, July 23, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Their marriage was only six months old but already showing signs of foundering. Thus, the drive from Mumbai to Khandala was an agonizing experience with Paayal moaning all the way that it was going to be an unexciting get-away. After checking into the luxurious holiday resort, it was still the same story.
“It is so dull and boring here in Khandala. I am dying for some action. Rinku, think of something exciting.” whined Paayal.
“Let’s go to the Bushy dam” said he, trying to placate her.
“No way. The crowd there is full of eve teasers and you are no Samson to be able to keep them away” snapped Paayal getting back on to her cell phone.
“But all the same we will have some action” replied Rinku with sarcasm dripping from the corner of his lips. But it was lost on Payaal as she seemed involved in a cell phone conversation.
After she finished her over animated chat, she excitedly said, “BTW, Rinku, my office friend Jason is also in Khandala. I’ve invited him over. He is so witty and charming and such a delightful company. Not a recluse like you. You really are going to hate him” she added with a mean laugh.
Jason arrived. He was indeed a tall and good looking guy with an air of easy charm about him. Paayal went ballistic on seeing him. She hugged and air-kissed him. Rinku looked on resignedly.
Suddenly, Jason’s wife Rehana, who was at the back, shrieked and called out, “Hey, aren’t you, Rinku.”
“Rehaaaana” replied an equally delighted Rinku.
In no time they were transposed back to their college days, laughing and exchanging high-fives. Rinku bloomed and was in his element making Rehana burst into giggles all the time. Stories and escapades of days gone by were remembered, related and relished with great glee and amusement. At that moment of time, they were lost to the world. It was only as if just the two of them were there. The spark of the former days looked like igniting once more.
Jason, the lady-killer, had never seen this side of Rehana ever and was literally dumbfounded at the chemistry between the two.
Rinku and Rehana simultaneously remembered their college picnic to Bushy dam and how they had cavorted under the waterfall.
“And Rinku do you recollect how you carried me when my foot slipped?” said Rehana bursting into peals of laughter.
Jason now had enough of it. However, with a polished tone, he said “Rinku, can I have my Rehana back before you seduce her any further?”
There was laughter all around and to which Paayal added, “And Rehana, may I have my hunk back? I want him to take me to the Bushy Dam.”
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Women, of all ages, are romantic at heart. It is one of the world’s most well kept secrets.
Women are, thus, a soft touch for starry-eyed stories. This is the golden pathway to a woman’s heart. This is what women really want – a good warm story. Only Yash Chopra and I are on to it.
Accidentally, I just happen to be an incorrigible storyteller. In my stories, I love mingling facts, fiction and fantasies. I have become such a veteran of this art, that after having woven the story, even I cannot separate the ingredients. Neither can Yash Chopra.
The biggest victim of these endless flights of my imagination was my wife in the early days of our marriage. Like any insecure person, I would tell her stories, more likely, fables, wherein I would make myself the hero. I could put Walter Mitty to shame any day.
Just after marriage, this story had my wife spellbound. I feel it is best to hear that narrative as I had told to my wife then. It made her believe that she was extremely lucky to be married to a very enviable lady-killer like me. Of course, she is wiser now. But unfortunately for her, it is a little too late! The stick-on has set.
I commenced the story to her thus:
“In my class at the college, there used to be an extremely beautiful girl by the name of Simran Bedi. She was really a pocket edition Venus. However, overpowering her total beauty, were her eyes. She had such lovely translucent eyes – light gray- green in colour.
Naturally, all the boys wanted to be friends with her but, somehow, it seemed that she was allured only by me. In spite of this, she and I would only exchange shy glances, for both of us were too timorous and hesitant to approach each other. Sadly, that was also the state of the entire new entrants to the college – all were finding it difficult to interact across the small groups that they had formed.
Therefore, the college organized an evening social for the first year students as an ice-breaking event. The social was to be from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm as girls in those days were not allowed to be out of home after 8 pm. No hi-jinks or dancing was even contemplated for this get-together; only tame party games were to be played so that students would get to know one another. That was about all. The compere for the evening was a senior, Murli Mirchandani – popularly nicknamed Mirchi. He could well have been nicknamed, motor mouth.
The social was in a big hall in the basement. Mirchi, the master of ceremonies, went ho-hum in his opening remarks that evoked few nervous titters. The audience was too tense to enjoy his witticisms. After a few opening games, the ever popular ‘passing the parcel’ was announced.
The music started for the game and the parcel started going around at a fast pace. The music would then stop suddenly and the person holding the parcel, at that point of time, had to peel off the top paper layer of the packet and pay the penalty as written thereon. After many enjoyable punishments, the atmosphere seemed to be warming up.
As the game was nearing the end and the packet was being handed over frantically from one to another like a hot potato, the music stopped and the parcel was in Simran’s hand. She took off the top layer and the forfeit read, ‘You have to be kissed by a person of the opposite sex.’ There was an audible murmur of shock and disbelief in the audience.”
I paused here for an edge-of-the seat effect on the wife. She was wide-eyed and very excitedly asked, “Then what happened?”
I grandly asked for a glass of water. I drank the water at a leisurely pace to deliberately give her some extra anxious long moments. Thereafter, I continued,
“Simran was feeling extremely embarrassed and wanted another simpler fine but Mirchi would not hear of it. Finally, she agreed and looked around for a suitable boy. Frankly, Mirchi was hoping, she would select him. However, Simran, after looking around for a while, chose me.
As I started walking towards her at the centre of the hall, I could see that she was feeling extremely nervous at the prospect. I do not know what got into me at that moment for I boldly took the opportunity, bent down and ………………..gave her a very light peck - barely touching her cheek. She was relieved. Quietly, she said, ‘Thank you,’ but her eyes said much more.
The ice between the most beautiful girl in the college and me had been broken as I graciously said, ‘My pleasure.’ And, with a twinkle in my eye added, ‘You are welcome again, anytime.’”
As I ended my story, there were stars in my wife’s eyes. Spontaneously she said, “What a chivalrous person you were.” With that, she rushed towards me saying, “I love you soooooooo much.”
Quickly, I said under my breath, “Thank you, Walter Mitty.”
This post is an entry for the contest What Women Want @blogadda.com and pringoo.com
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The owner of the resort and his wife were a friendly and an affable couple. However, their 15-year-old daughter, although living in a small hill station, had a mega attitude about her. She preferred to stay aloof from everyone. It was by sheer chance that my parents casually mentioned about my recent scholastic accomplishments to the owner’s wife. She, thereupon, requested me to coach her daughter some mathematics as she had failed in that subject.
I was thrilled by this opportunity for, truth be told, I was smitten by her fresh scrubbed looks. Therefore, I was secretly delighted that she had failed in mathematics for I thought this would bring down her conceited bearing when we would meet the next day for the tuition. However, I was in for a surprise.
The next morning found us sitting together, at one corner of the huge dining table, for the teaching and learning of the Unitary Method. She was arrogance personified and almost made it appear as if she was doing me a favour by being willing to learn the subject from me. I checked her mathematics’ class workbook and found it not only untidy, but also full of angry crosses by her teacher in red ink.
Nevertheless, keeping her outlook in mind and my feelings for her, I asked her in a very conciliatory tone, “Mrinalni, tell me what you don’t understand about these sums?”
Haughtily she replied, “Everything.”
Keeping my cool, I jokingly replied, “That’s good. We can start from the beginning.”
She condescendingly nodded her head to imply that she may just deign to hear me out. It felt that I was the one actually on trial.
I started with the simplest of the equations and told her how to place the fixed and the variable values in the proper slots to arrive at the correct answer. Thereafter, I set her a problem but she just could not get it right. Being as infatuated as I was at that time, I remained extremely patient with her. Repeatedly, in different ways, I tried to explain the formula to her but it was all in vain.
Finally, I could not take it anymore and with great exasperation told her, “You don’t have brains. You have sawdust there.”
She flared up at that, and with her cheeks glistening red with anger, she pulled the books from me, shut them with a loud bang and, after giving me a regal sneer, walked away. She went straight to her mother and banging her fist forcefully on the table told her, “I don’t care if I have to repeat this class for a hundred years but I will not be taught by him. He is an awful teacher. He cannot even explain a simple formula!”
For fifteen days after that, we did not speak to each other. However, a picnic and a game of antakshari came to the rescue. Knowing the cold war between Mrinalni and me, we were put on opposite sides. I launched the game with the soulful number from Madhumati, ending with,
Ruthhe Hain Naa Jaane Kyo, Mehamaan Woh Mere Dil Ke
I must have rendered the song with some feeling for most people thought I was pouring out my heart to Mrinalni. The game, however, proceeded normally until Mrinalni, most unsuspectingly, responded to a later antakshari cue and sang the opening line of another song from Madhumati,
There is a small interlude after that and as Mrinalni paused, a lot of furtive glances were exchanged amongst the participants but Mrinalni was totally unaware of them. She continued,
Main To Kab Se Khadi Is Paar, Ye Ankhiyaan Thak Gayi.
Panth Nihaar, Aaja Re Pardesi
As she innocently ended the mukhda, there was a burst of spontaneous laughter. Someone, looking towards me, quipped, “Hey, you have got your answer.” That was the first time Mrinalni realized the possible implication of the song. She blushed furiously, hid her face in the palm of her hands and went right at the back where no one could see her. After the game ended, I went up to her and said, “Mrinalni that was a beautiful way of expressing your feelings.”
“Eh, Mister, don’t flatter yourself. Chhera kabhi seeshe mein dekha hai” was her quick retort. It was vintage Mrinalni. But the defrost had begun. After a week, I left for Bombay and Mrinalni found it difficult to put up a brave face at my departure.
Many years have passed since then and Mrinalni is now married and has two cute children. The children love to hear me recount the above anecdote. I begin the narrative thus to them, “Your mother is a very beautiful woman but even at the age of 15, she could not add up 9 + 7.” The children - who are five and seven years old - are greatly amused by this revelation about their mother. Finally, I would end the story by saying, “Ananya, you are as beautiful as your mother but I hope you don’t have sawdust in your head!” At this, both the children would squeal in delight and Ananya would say, “No, no. I am like Papa.”
Mrinalni, at this point, with mock-strictness, would tell the children, “You have heard your Papa’s favorite bedtime story, now off to bed.” Mrinalni fondly remembers that Valentine day, about nine years ago, when, as she blushingly says, in a moment of weakness she had agreed to marry the Pardesi.