Short Story

Livin’ da Virar Local

Posted on May 13, 2013. Filed under: Essay, Funny, Short Story | Tags: , , |

“Where are you going?” Aai asked her. She did not reply.

“Tyala bhetayla? (To meet him?)“. Again no reply.

Aai resignedly said, “Will tell the driver to get ready ..”

She said, “Nako (Don’t)! Will take the train..”

Her mom looked as though she was about to say something, but changed her mind at the last minute. She scowled at her mom’s omniscience and shut the door behind her.

Rain was lashing Mumbai. She almost cancelled her plan, but decided against it. She had left things languishing for far too long. She waited on the street for the bus to Dadar station. The bus when it came, was relatively empty. She got in and saw a ladies seat empty. She plopped herself down on it. The window was down because of the rain. Through the dirt smeared plastic, she saw the sea. Haji Ali mosque stood like a lone figure enduring the swell of the enraged waves around it. The skies were grey. She lifted the window and felt the wind on her face. She breathed in lungfuls of it. Despite the unpleasant task lying ahead of her, a small smile played on her lips. Every day of her 28 year old life, she had been filled by joy after glimpsing the sea just outside her window.The bus took a turn. The view of the sea was lost. She became aware that her lap had become damp because of the rain water. She pushed down her window and immediately regretted it. With the monsoon breeze shut out, she felt claustrophobic. The bus trundled on towards Dadar. She felt irritated, the best part of her journey was over and the worst awaited her.

********

She stood on the platform at Dadar station. The downpour continued. A huge crowd of commuters milled around her.She felt good that she had a first class ticket. She saw the train pull into the station. To her dismay, the first class ladies compartment was overflowing! She barely made it into the train. As she got in, she got the wind knocked out of her by an umbrella. When someone stamped on her toe, her flimsy but fashionable sandals did not offer any protection. She stood awkwardly, in the throng of women getting squelched from all sides, her foot smarting. “This must be hell!” She thought. Stench of sweat made more putrid by being soaked in rain, seemed all pervading. She swore to herself, this was the last time.

Why had she liked him in the first place? Was it the good looks. Maybe. Was it to rebel against her mom? She remembered her mom’s words,

“Had he been living in Andheri, Vile Parle would’ve been acceptable. But he stays in god forsaken Virar!! How are we supposed to go there? You have grown up all your life in the town side and are used to a certain level of sophistication. Do you think you can adjust … there?”

How she hated it, her mom had been proven right. The worst part of the relationship, was the sickening commute. And 3 months ago, he had gone and gotten his foot broken playing gully cricket. (Her mom – “30 yr old man playing gully cricket?! How very LS.”) The last many Saturdays, she had been going through this gut wrenching commute, to spend a few minutes with him. Things had started to go downhill. The last few times, they always had had a fight, since she would always be in a foul temper after the horrendous train ride. Yet she had avoided taking her father’s car and chauffeur lest he feel insecure. Despite her attempts to make it work, she had failed, the relationship was a disaster. Today’s rain soaked journey was the last straw. She had to break up with him.

********

She jogged to the extent her flimsy shoes and umbrella allowed. She had to make it back by the 6:14 train and she was already late. She was angry.Their meeting had gone just as she had expected. There had been resentful words punctuated by hateful silences. But now she ran to catch the train that would take her away from Virar, for good, forever. Aghast, she saw the train beginning to pull away when she reached the platform. The ladies dabba was far away, she was going to miss the train!! Just then she had a brain wave, she hopped into the gents 1st class bogey. It was the opposite direction so there was little crowd. She stood a little inwards, to avoid the spray of the rain but outside enough to feel the wind in her hair. She was relieved that she had made it and her return had begun. A bespectacled man, stood facing her immersed in his phone humming a dated tune to himself. To her annoyance it sounded like a 90s Ricky Martin track.

Just then her own phone buzzed. Aai calling.

“Where have you been?” her mom began shrilly. “Do you have no sense of time? We have been worried sick. The train service is about to get cancelled! You have always been so irresponsible..”

She barked into the phone – “Aai, mi kukkula baal nahiye. I am not a baby anymore” and hung up.

Angry tears were flowing down her cheeks. The emotion of the day overwhelmed her, and she began sobbing uncontrollably. The more she tried to control the sobs, the harder she cried. The man in front of her looked alarmed. Through her sobs, she waved to him dismissively.

“Sorry, do not mind me, Just having a bad day, you know commuting to Virar during peak hours.”

He replied, “Aah! Livin’ da Virar local!”

“Sorry?!”

He laughed sheepishly. “Just a forward I got in email. You remember the old Ricky Martin song Livin’ la vida loca? Someone has made a clever little play on it – Livin da Virar local” 

Despite herself, she smiled.

********

The train came to a grinding halt at Andheri. The rain had abated, however the train service had stopped until the water receded from the tracks.

“Looks like we are stuck in Andheri for a while”The bespectacled man said. “Ithe ek McDonalds aahe. Softie?”

She knew that he had overheard her conversation with her mom and so was talking to her in the same language that she spoke.

She mulled it over, then finally shrugged and said“Ho Chaalel.(Yes, will do)” She hesitated then. “Umm. Aapla naav? (Your name?)”

He smiled and said, “Oh sorry, mi Shrinivasan Mulye.”

“Shrinivasan Mulye??”

“Ho Baba Kobra. Aai Tamil. Matunga (Dad is Kokanastha brahmin, Mom Tamil)”

She laughed at that, and suddenly felt light and relaxed. Funny how a small but genuine laugh can brighten your day!

 ********

She enjoyed that evening with Shri. Strangely, she did not realize when she started calling him that. He was smart and funny. She smiled to herself when she thought about what her mom would say about him, probably would not be too happy about his Tamil mom and dark complexion. And Matunga, that was a stone’s throw away from where she lived. A very very convenient commute! She felt amazed at how well the day was about to end. The train service started. They got into the gents first dabba again to continue their conversation.

She asked him, “So are you getting off at Matunga?”

He said, “Oh we no longer stay in Matunga. I am just here visiting a few friends. We moved a long time back. I am getting off at Santa Cruz, to catch a flight back home. Hope its not cancelled in this dreadful weather. Had forgotten how Mumbai rains can be!”

She felt her heart sink. She asked him, her voice shaking, “So where do you stay?”

He replied brightly “In a town called Mysore in Karnataka. You should come visit sometime. There’s a beautiful palace there.”

********
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Massage and M&Ms – A Crush Story

Posted on June 15, 2010. Filed under: Funny, Short Story |

Note from author: This piece got an honorable mention in blogadda’s competition. Thanks for the encouragement!

My name is Rajesh. Today, I am going to tell you the story of my first crush. You may ask, why?  To know the reason and the story, read on.

Chapter 1: A Massage spoils it all!

So, I was all of 16. I had just passed 10th standard board exams and joined junior college. It was the first day of college. My two friends, Aneesh and Bunty and I, were hanging out in the college canteen.  And then it happened.  The famed thunderbolt!  (what Michael Corleone had experienced when he had met Appolonia in the Godfather).  I saw her.  Kohl lined eyes, straight hair ..

Her name was Chayanika Malhotra, I learnt later.  I could not stop thinking about her.  Thinking is one thing and obsessing is another, and I guess I was doing the latter.  My friends could not help but pity me. At first, they tried to make me see sense,  that a girl like her can never be with a guy like me. When that did not work, Aneesh offered to take a note from me to her.  Off he went striding towards her. I could not bear to look, so I disappeared from the scene.  Aneesh and Bunty reappeared in just a bit.  Aneesh was almost on the verge of crying.  So I asked,

Me: What happened?”

Aneesh was spared the trouble of talking by Bunty relating the entire story.

Bunty: Actually, he went to Chayanika and said, ‘I have a MASSAGE for you!’

I would have burst out laughing had it not been my own Victorian tragedy being written.

Bunty: (continued) … So one of the guys in her group said that, he will treat Aneesh, uhm, to a nice massage and roughed him up a bit (ended sheepishly).

My note asking her out for a coffee had been left in Aneesh’s pocket.  I forgave Aneesh, after all it was just a mispronunciation (that had ruined my life).

Chapter 2: Eminem or M&M?

Soon I got another chance with Chayanika. We met at a bus stop.  I mustered up all the courage I could and started making small talk with her.  She was waiting for some friend to arrive. I feigned that I was waiting for a friend too.  Even now I cannot believe how smooth I was then. I actually asked her whether she would like to have a coffee with me, while we both waited for our respective friends. Unfortunately, her friend Reshmi  arrived just then. But they graciously agreed to accompany me to the coffee shop, while I waited. Overall, I was satisfied with the way things had gone that evening. The 3 of us sat down with our coffees. Angrez rap music was being played. Reshmi chose that moment to say,

Reshmi: Oh I just love Eminem.

I had been hoping to impress Chayanika with the depth of my knowledge and the breadth of my interests, but I had no clue who or what Eminem was.  I had a sudden brainwave. Just a couple of weeks back, my uncle had brought some chocolates from USA. And one of them I remembered was named M&Ms. It was an American version of our Indian Gems. A wise man had  once said – ‘Look before you leap’, but I chose to ignore him and burst through.

Me:  Oh yes, I love the M&Ms. Just recently my uncle got them in some peanut butter flavor, which is famous in the USA.  Their shape is also different.

Both the girls looked curiously at me and then I realized with great horror, that I had committed a grave blunder. Reshmi realized my mistake and smirked condescendingly,

Reshmi: Oh I meant the rapper Eminem and not the candy.

Soon after they excused themselves and I heard them snickering about ‘Eminems and M&Ms’.

Chapter 3: The hero saves the day!

Thereafter, I was in the doldrums of depression.  Even after multiple repeated failures, I had not got closure. So I was in class, in my usual place behind Chayanika, observing the play of light on her hair. It was a sultry sort of a day and the stuffiness of the class as well as of our professor’s monotone, soon drove me into a state of torpor. Soon, I was dozing.  Suddenly, I heard a commotion. I opened my eyes and I found the entire class’s eyes in my direction. I was aghast.  I thought that I had been caught red handed napping in class. Not knowing what else to do, I stood up.  The professor angrily remarked,

Professor: So it was you! Please walk out of the class. If you want to attend my class again, please get your father to meet me.

I walked out of the class dejectedly and waited in the canteen corner for my friends to show up.  I heard a timid voice say, “Hi.” I looked up. It was Chayanika. Before I could say anything, she started speaking amidst heart breaking sobs,

Chayanika: (crying)You should not have done it for me. I would have stood up!

I was thoroughly confused then, but soon the story became clearer. Chayanika had been chewing gum and she did not know how, but she had made a startlingly screechy sound.  The professor had taken offence at it and had been asking the culprit to own up. And at that opportune moment I had stood up.

I had become a chivalrous hero in the eyes of Chayanika. Lady Luck and Lady Chayanika had both smiled at me that day. I was literally (ok, figuratively) on top of the world.  The rest, as they say, is history. (Before that an angry sire almost made me a part of ancient history.

together forever The final reveal – Why did I tell you this story?  It is because the writer of this blog is rather mercenary and decided that my story would be a good entry for the blogadda contest sponsored by Pringoo.

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Once upon a time …

Posted on May 30, 2010. Filed under: Photography, Short Story, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

… there was a very rich old man. He lay on the bed late at night introspecting. That very day, the doctor had called him to tell him the news, that his days were numbered. The doctor’s words had been, “Generally, I would have told his news to a family member, but since you do not have any one …”. The doctor had left his sentence unfinished. The doctor’s statement brought the old man’s world crashing down. He had spent his life in the pursuit of riches. The old man thought to himself, “Why O Lord! You gave me riches and power, why have I  been left bereft of love in this lifetime?” That very night, the old man got a dream. The Lord appeared in his dreams and said “Go see the world and you shall have your answer!” The next day, the old man got up and decided to do just that – see the world.

So he went to Washington, DC – the home of the most powerful person in the world, the president of the United States. It was spring time and cherry blossoms were in full bloom. He got a peek of the Jefferson memorial through these pink flowers.  This juxtaposition of beautiful spring flowers, spell binding architecture and the Potomac river, really moved him. He had found mesmerizing natural beauty in the capital of the United States, a place only famous for the power play of humans.

He continued his quest underground as well. He reached Luray Caverns. There he chanced upon this beautiful tapestry. It had been created not out of man’s hands, but out of the heaves of the earth and deposits of minerals over hundreds, maybe thousands of years.  This tapestry seemed nothing short of magic to him.

His sojourn then continued to what is known as the holiest place in the world, Vatican City.  He could not believe his eyes at the view he got atop St. Peter’s Basilica. He realized that man is divine too, because only a divine hand could have crafted this architectural beauty. He considered himself privileged to have witnessed this place, where man and god had achieved union.

He continued his exploration of St. Peter’s Basilica. He came across many works of beauty, created by great Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Pannini. This imposing statue seemed to tell him, “Son, you have sinned, but rise! All is not lost! Your quest is not hopeless!”

And last but not the least, he reached Seattle, US. He came to know that this city is home to one of the biggest technology companies of the world namely Microsoft and Amazon. He reached atop the Space Needle.  He was transfixed by this view of Seattle downtown, with the majestic and ghostly mountain peak, Mt. Rainier.  He also learned that Seattle  had dreary weather with almost 9 months of rain every year. However, on this day the sun was shining bright perhaps to reflect his mood, which had also taken a turn for the better.

He had reached the end of his travails.  He had seen beautiful glimpses of natural and man made marvels. He had also met many beautiful people and he had realized the purpose of his quest.  He had realized that the world was full of love,

Welcome to my world of love

World of love
Welcome to my world of love

and the only place where love had dwindled was his heart and mind. He vowed to go back home and try to mend his relationships with his estranged family and friends. He also vowed to spend his remaining wealth in charity and his remaining days in the company of his loved ones.

This is my entry for the blogadda travel contest I have copyright for all the pictures, in case anyone wonders.

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