Posted in Life and After, Twisted Tales

Occupational Hazard

Shivering with cold, he peered inside the window. The tree was ablaze with lights. Gifts beneath it awaited the next morning. One of them seemed like a large jwelery box…

Bracelet?

Necklace?

On the table sat a couple of steaming mugs. Was that coffee?

What wouldn’t he give for that coffee right now? Or hot Cocoa? His ride didn’t have heating and his buttocks got glued to the seat. He felt like he would need an icepick to get him out. His fingers were turning blue. Global warming didn’t seem to be helping him right now. The cold was just as cold now as it was fifty years back. In fact, it seemed to be getting colder each year. Or maybe, he’s getting on with years. Maybe he should just retire…

Anyway, how long are these people planning to stay awake? It was already midnight, but the couch potatoes were glued to the television screen playing a cheesy movie about Christmas with Santa in a red coat, saying, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”. He rolled his eyes. Typical! The movie seemed to have just started, which meant these people would stay awake for another couple of hours.

Utter disrespect for other people’s time!

How on earth would he get inside undetected? He wasn’t exactly a wee mousey. This ample girth wouldn’t hide behind a candy stick.

He was tempted to skip this house and try another? But then, it had been the same case for the past couple of hours. State after state, house after house, people were awake glued to their screens. First, they had set radars across the world, shooting missiles at any flying object, turning traveling at night into a safety hazard. Then, they invented central heating, reduced chimney width to the size of a drainstorm pipe and installed intruder alarms to doors and windows. And now, they stay up all night keeping him out, waiting, and shivering in the cold.

To rub salt on the wound, they say, there is no Santa Claus! What do they expect him to do? Send stuff in by Magic?

He sighed. He couldn’t skip the sweet little girl upstairs waiting for her gift. As he had done all night, he placed the package with the teddy bear at the doorstep, hoping to get away without a sound. The intruder alarm went off, waking the entire neighborhood. He ran to his waiting sledge, and his reindeers took off in the sky before the adults could come out.

Panting, he cursed under his breath. He would have to find a replacement next year…maybe those nimble little elfs would be a better match for the exhausting routine. Or may be, just may be, he would join that gym again, and try harder this time…


Author’s note: To find out about Santa’s tryst at the local gym, read Santa’s Sweatshop.

Merry Christmas to everyone stuck at home away from family. Let prayers flow freely today. I truly hope the worse is behind us all and in the new year, we would all wake up to a better, safer world.


Free Photo by Brooks Rice on Unsplash

Posted in Random Thoughts

How to Cook Your Eggs Just Right

Three Men on a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (1889) is my lifejacket against all of life’s bad puns. This excerpt gives you an insight into my husband’s attempt at cooking and why he needed a wife in the first place. Mind you, he will never admit it.

Harris proposed that we should have scrambled eggs for breakfast. He said he would cook them. It seemed, from his account, that he was very good at doing scrambled eggs. He often did them at picnics and when on yachts. He was quite famous for them. People who had once tasted his scrambled eggs, so we gathered from his conversation, never cared for any other food afterwards, but pined away and died when they could not get them.

It made our mouths water to hear him talk about the things, and we handed him out the stove and the frying-pan and all the eggs that had not smashed and gone over everything in the hamper, and begged him to begin.

He had some trouble in breaking the eggs – or rather not so much trouble in breaking them exactly as in getting them into the frying-pan when broken, and keeping them off his trousers, and preventing them from running up his sleeve; but he fixed some half-a-dozen into the pan at last, and then squatted down by the side of the stove and chivied them about with a fork.

It seemed harassing work, so far as George and I could judge. Whenever he went near the pan he burned himself, and then he would drop everything and dance round the stove, flicking his fingers about and cursing the things. Indeed, every time George and I looked round at him he was sure to be performing this feat. We thought at first that it was a necessary part of the culinary arrangements.

We did not know what scrambled eggs were, and we fancied that it must be some Red Indian or Sandwich Islands sort of dish that required dances and incantations for its proper cooking. Montmorency (the dog) went and put his nose over it once, and the fat spluttered up and scalded him, and then he began dancing and cursing. Altogether it was one of the most interesting and exciting operations I have ever witnessed. George and I were both quite sorry when it was over.

Posted in Random Thoughts

A Cheesy Tale

Author’s note: Here is an excerpt from Three Men in a Boat (1893) by Jerome K. Jerome. I have never been fond of Margarita Cheese in Pizzas. When my husband decided to order a Margarita pizza for daughter, I strongly refrained. Here’s the Cheesy tale that led to it…

.

I remember a friend of mine, buying a couple of cheeses at Liverpool. Splendid cheeses they were, ripe and mellow, and with a two hundred horse-power scent about them that might have been warranted to carry three miles, and knock a man over at two hundred yards. I was in Liverpool at the time, and my friend said that if I didn’t mind he would get me to take them back with me to London, as he should not be coming up for a day or two himself, and he did not think the cheeses ought to be kept much longer.
“Oh, with pleasure, dear boy,” I replied, “with pleasure.” I called for the cheeses, and took them away in a cab. It was a ramshackle affair, dragged along by a knock-kneed, broken-winded somnambulist, which
his owner, in a moment of enthusiasm, during conversation, referred to as a horse. I put the cheeses on the top, and we started off at a shamble that would have done credit to the swiftest steam-roller ever built, and all went merry as a
funeral bell, until we turned the corner. There, the wind carried a whiff from the cheeses full on to our steed. It woke him up, and, with a snort of terror, he dashed off at three miles an hour. The wind still blew in his direction, and before we reached the end of the street he was laying himself out at the rate of nearly four miles an hour, leaving the cripples and stout old ladies simply nowhere.

It took two porters as well as the driver to hold him in at the station; and I do not think they would have done it, even then, had not one of the men had the presence of mind to put a handkerchief over his nose, and to light a bit of brown paper. I took my ticket, and marched proudly up the platform, with my cheeses, the people falling back respectfully on either side. The train was crowded, and I
had to get into a carriage where there were already seven other people. One
crusty old gentleman objected, but I got in, notwithstanding; and, putting my cheeses upon the rack, squeezed down with a pleasant smile, and said it was a warm day.
A few moments passed, and then the old gentleman began to fidget.
“Very close in here,” he said.
“Quite oppressive,” said the man next him.
And then they both began sniffing, and, at the third sniff, they caught it right on the chest, and rose up without another word and went out. And then a stout lady got up, and said it was disgraceful that a respectable married woman should be harried about in this way, and gathered up a bag and eight parcels and went. The remaining four passengers sat on for a while, until a solemn-looking man in the corner, who, from his dress and general appearance, seemed to belong to the undertaker class, said it put him in mind of dead baby; and the other three passengers tried to get out of the door at the same time, and
hurt themselves.
I smiled at the black gentleman, and said I thought we were going to have the carriage to ourselves; and he laughed pleasantly, and said that some people made such a fuss over a little thing. But even he grew strangely depressed after we had started, and so, when we reached Crewe, I asked him to come and
have a drink. He accepted, and we forced our way into the buffet, where we yelled, and stamped, and waved our umbrellas for a quarter of an hour; and then a young lady came, and asked us if we wanted anything.
“What’s yours?” I said, turning to my friend.
“I’ll have half-a-crown’s worth of brandy, neat, if you please, miss,” he
responded.
And he went off quietly after he had drunk it and got into another carriage, which I thought mean.
From Crewe I had the compartment to myself, though the train was crowded.
As we drew up at the different stations, the people, seeing my empty carriage, would rush for it. “Here y’ are, Maria; come along, plenty of room.”

“All right, Tom; we’ll get in here,” they would shout. And they would run along, carrying heavy bags, and fight round the door to get in first. And one would open the door and mount the steps, and stagger back into the arms of the man behind him; and they would all come and have a sniff, and then droop off and squeeze into other carriages, or pay the difference and go first.
From Euston, I took the cheeses down to my friend’s house. When his wife
came into the room she smelt round for an instant. Then she said: “What is it? Tell me the worst.”
I said: “It’s cheeses. Tom bought them in Liverpool, and asked me to bring them up with me.”
And I added that I hoped she understood that it had nothing to do with me; and she said that she was sure of that, but that she would speak to Tom about it when he came back.
My friend was detained in Liverpool longer than he expected; and, three days later, as he hadn’t returned home, his wife called on me. She said:
“What did Tom say about those cheeses?”
I replied that he had directed they were to be kept in a moist place, and that nobody was to touch them.
She said: “Nobody’s likely to touch them. Had he smelt them?”
I thought he had, and added that he seemed greatly attached to them.
“You think he would be upset,” she queried, “if I gave a man a sovereign to take them away and bury them?”
I answered that I thought he would never smile again.
An idea struck her. She said: “Do you mind keeping them for him? Let me send them round to you.”
“Madam,” I replied, “for myself I like the smell of cheese, and the journey the other day with them from Liverpool I shall ever look back upon as a happy ending to a pleasant holiday. But, in this world, we must consider others. The lady under whose roof I have the honour of residing is a widow, and, for all I
know, possibly an orphan too. She has a strong, I may say an eloquent, objection to being what she terms ‘put upon.’ The presence of your husband’s
cheeses in her house she would, I instinctively feel, regard as a ‘put upon’; and it shall never be said that I put upon the widow and the orphan.”
“Very well, then,” said my friend’s wife, rising, “all I have to say is, that I
shall take the children and go to an hotel until those cheeses are eaten. I decline to live any longer in the same house with them.”


She kept her word, leaving the place in charge of the charwoman, who, when asked if she could stand the smell, replied, “What smell?” and who, when taken close to the cheeses and told to sniff hard, said she could detect a faint odour of melons. It was argued from this that little injury could result to the woman from the atmosphere, and she was left. The hotel bill came to fifteen guineas; and my friend, after reckoning everything up, found that the cheeses had cost him eight-and-sixpence a pound. He said he dearly loved a bit of cheese, but it was beyond his means; so he determined to get rid of them. He threw them into the canal; but had to
fish them out again, as the bargemen complained. They said it made them feel quite faint. And, after that, he took them one dark night and left them in the parish mortuary. But the coroner discovered them, and made a fearful fuss. He said it was a plot to deprive him of his living by waking up the corpses.
My friend got rid of them, at last, by taking them down to a sea-side town, and burying them on the beach. It gained the place quite a reputation. Visitors said they had never noticed before how strong the air was, and weak-chested and consumptive people used to throng there for years afterwards.

Posted in Life and After

Spell-Check

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I’m sure, the quill had lost its potency, or may be it’s the fancy ink I had purchased at the Witch’s Supplies store. They had guaranteed that anything written with the quill and ink will be accepted for publication without fail. But I should have known better–these readymade spells wear off after a few readings, and I, myself, had reread the manuscript at least four times.

Was that why it had felt rather bland in the last reading?

Now the entire thing has returned from the publisher and I had to pay for the return Owl as well. And to think, I had spent three months writing the entire thing with hands.

Once Paa hears of it, I’ll never hear the end of it. Over and over, he had offered me his spell-operated typewriter with the secret homemade Publication ink–the one he had used for all of his 18 published books. But I had been too proud to accept the favour. And now he’s busy writing his 19th, so typewriter is busy.

May be I’ll beg him for his secret ink recipe…anything for the elusive Booker Prize…


Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Delivery Guy

Authors note: I am trying a different genre now inspired by the Ellen’s Wonderfuss Faeries. You can visit her blog for a good laugh combined with Scottish mythology. I am fairly new at the genre though. Also, I am painting after 15 years. So, bear with me.

Bagula Saheb from his grumpy days

Meet Bagula Saheb, our resident delivery guy, He brought my daughter home three years back. For many years, he had been handling local deliveries on his own (Cranes usually manage the intercity stuff.)

But lately, he had been looking a little grumpy. I guess the constant work-related travel and the increasing pressure on his time was getting at him. I tried to talk to him but he just won’t stop, always crying “Busyyyyy! Busyyyyy!” Lately, the lockdown has locked the humans in their homes, and birds and animals have a free reign outdoors, more work seemed to be coming his way. So, I wasn’t surprised when I saw him approaching the higher-ups for help.

Bagula Saheb approaching the higher authorities
Bagula Saheb approaching the higher-ups

The result was heartening. He was instantly provided with a female colleague. Together, they were promised a brood of tiny apprentices to train in the coming months. Once ready, these apprentices will take most of the workload off his shoulders.

He seemed to be over the moon by the arrangement. I could hear him cackling with delight all night, earning him some very sleepy, grumpy and puffy-eyed neighbors. But well, who cares! Woohoo!

Posted in Life and After

Seeker Finder

He (looking in her phone screen): Cool birds! Where did you find these rare birds to click their pics?

She: They throng our rooftop. The tree they sit on stands next door.

He: How is it possible? I have lived here for 10 years and never seen one.

She: Seeker Finder…

He: What?

She: Ask the right Guru (religious teacher) and the answer might turn your life around. Though, it may cost you a thousand bucks stay at an Ashram (religious home-school).

He: What do you mean?

She: Ever read Hellen Keller’s Three Days to See?

He: Whatever…

Posted in Life and After

My Scrapes with It: Part 2

True incidents from my crazy life…

I have always been a TV Aerial, too receptive to things unseen. And having lived in 25 houses means that I received too many signals.

If you think it is funny, consider sleeping in your room for several years with the constant knowledge that someone is lurking in the next room; that your house is built on a demolished graveyard and the resident will most likely visit you in your dream; or that your dog is crazily barking at the ceiling of your room, which looks like it is made of water.

Only, you can’t see him…her…them…

You can’t ask them, however politely, to move their arse away. You can’t tell them, “Hey! Why don’t you go haunt Mrs. Snubnose in the house down the lane?” You might try exorcism, but it doesn’t always get the expected results, and failure will lead to a rebellion of the ‘permanent residents’ against you.

So, you get the idea.

Whenever faced with situations like these, my first response was to run to another room where my parents or my friends slept (depending on the location of the ‘incident’). But there are only so many times I could do that without raising suspicion.

Do you think I should have told them?

What response do you expect from them? If they were easy on me, they would have brushed it away by saying, “I don’t feel anything.”, “I think you are watching too many horror movies.”, or “You need to reign in your imagination.” Or they would have put it down as me “being a woman”. But, gradually, they would have begun questioning my intelligence. In the end, if they really loved me, they would have moved me out of the haunted house into a mental asylum.

So, telling my family and friends was a strict ‘No’.

Hence, most of the time, I would sit up late at night alone and try to discern what I was dealing with.

I would usually begin with questions like ‘how many?’

I know for sure that one of my houses had at least three. One of them lived in the room upstairs and tried to strangle me on the first night (I never went to that room at night again.). When I moved to the spare room downstairs, I felt another who liked to lay in the bed next to mine quite often. The third one used to simply cross the room at a certain time of the night and, if I blocked the path by placing my chair a certain way, it would begin muttering threats under its breath (Irony, I know!).

I would wonder what they were and if they could hurt me.

But there were too many possibilities: Ghosts, Poltergeists, Djinn, Ghouls… Since I couldn’t see them, I wasn’t sure. Their powers could also differ from the time they landed the job and the practice they had. They could have been around since before my great-great-great-grandfather was born or someone fairly new at the jig.

Did they mean to scare me?

Did they get paid for scaring humans like me or did they just exist as we do, and I just had a sensory overload by their presence? Aren’t lizards scared of me? Does that make me scary? (In case you are wondering, Lizards don’t scare me–I have lived in government-built houses half of my life.)

Did they mean to hurt me?

In most cases, they seemed to be just going on with their lives. Maybe they were late for their jobs but I blocked their path by strewing my stuff around. What if they were raising their kids in the house that (according to them) I decided to break in? I slept in their beds and ate from their bowls. Of course, they wanted me out. I wonder why only three tried to strangle me, especially since I was playing Ghazals around the house (Pure torture, I know!).

After my last encounter, I realized that in most cases, I can co-exist with them like lizards with me. So, now, I carry on with my life and let the Djinn in my spare room live in peace.

Posted in Life and After

Bestie

I was waiting in the old barn where we had spent our childhood plotting mischiefs. It had been twenty years!

But I knew she will come today. There was no where she would rather be and nothing could stop her now—Becoming ghost had its merits!

Posted in Life and After

Arranged

It was difficult to start a conversation while our families milled around us. We had only ten minutes to decide.

She took out her phone ‘replying an urgent text’. I received a message from an unknown number, “Let’s run away from them all!”

She was smiling!

Posted in Life and After

Impressive(?) Video

Sometimes some pieces of art leave an everlasting impression on you, specially visual media. I once saw a ‘piece of art’ on internet that influenced me for a lifetime: Taher Shah’s Eye-to-eye.

👁️2👁️ 😱

I am sure all 20-40 year old Indians know about this 5-minute video. If you don’t, consider yourself lucky. 😉

It was something my friends had forced me to watch by trapping me between my desktop and chair. 💻Since one of them was my senior who had to review my work, I believe it was some kind of a payback. 😋 I was in physical pain from the efforts to jump over the desk to avoid the video.

😐😑😶😯😮😵😥😫😨😰🤒🤢

Best part: Taher Shah’s Eye-to-eye is a ‘serious romantic’ song that should not make you laugh. 😵 Only, the guy is seriously in love…with himself…or it seems, since he was the only one in the video and his ‘angel eyes’, ‘mesmerizing eyes’, ‘enchanting eyes’ were featured too many times in the video.

👁️👁️💓 👁️👁 💖 👁️👁 💗

Now, why am I remembering it after four years of the ‘incident’? 🤔 I should have got over the trauma by now, or so I thought until yesterday. 😕

When I sat down to write my blog “Eyes”, I had difficulty concentrating and kept having fits of laughter 🤣🙃 remembering all the words he had used to describe his own eyes (with too much love).

💕💕💕💕💕💕

I also actively tried to avoid using the adjectives he had used for his own eyes. It was rather difficult because when he wrote the song, he definitely had Thesaurus on.

So now, I have a lifetime dearth of adjectives… I will have to learn creating new words… SIGH!

– I am not giving a link to Taher Shah’s Eye-to-Eye because I don’t want to be responsible for a similar fate of another human. But you can look him up on Google at your own risk. You have been warned!

Posted in Life and After

An Unlikely Story(?)

Hi, I am rebloging one of my older pieces from my earlier site. Apologies to those who already read it.

Long time ago, there lived a woman who used pigeons to send mails. She spent all her day sending and reading her mails. She would draw pictures of ‘Aloo salad’, ‘Kadhai dal’ and ‘Chulha roti’ and send it. People would, then, tell her that they liked it or loved it. She, in turn, would do the same for them. Once an insect bit her lips and she sent her picture to her friends. This inspired others to post their picture with a pout as well.

All this made her feel important and happy!

She kept her precious pigeons in a cage and locked them when not delivering emails to ensure no one stole them. One fated day, she lost the key of the cage. No other key would work. Locksmith tried different combinations, even tried breaking it but the lock would not budge. He gave up in the end.

A week later, the woman passed away of a broken heart…

Unlikely story? Weird story? Stupid story?

I don’t think so!

Most of the people on Facebook or Twitter spend all their free time on it. They post pictures of what they cooked or wore, where they went and how they are feeling. They wish their own spouse and children a ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook or Twitter, even though they live in the same house. And the rest of the world likes and loves it.

They call their friends to ask why they only posted a like and did not comment on a particular picture if they really liked it.

If needed, they would even suggest a good comment.

First love, first kiss, first baby and first soiled diaper… They are all on Facebook for the world see, like and comment on.

If you didn’t post it, it never happened. If you didn’t ‘like’ it, you ignored them. If you didn’t post a comment, you never cared about them.

Facebook and Twitter are not websites anymore. They are oxygen cylinders. Lock people out of their account for one day, they will suffocate. Lock them out for a week, they will be as good as dead. If they lose their password, they will spend the rest of their lives resetting and securing it, or die trying.

That reminds me… what was my Facebook password?

…Where did I write it?

…Oh no! Where did it go?

…Gawd! What do I do now?

…OH NO! (Gasp) Can’t breathe… Need air…

…HELP!!!

-Dedicated to the Dimpy Angel and all my friends on Facebook

Posted in Life and After

The First-time Mother

Hi, I am rebloging one of my older pieces from my earlier site. Apologies to those who already read it.

People say that women are born mothers. I disagree.

When it comes to being ‘born mothers’, there are two categories of girls: First, who love playing the babysitter to all toddlers in the vicinity, and second, who keep a minimum five feet distance from anyone on two legs below three feet.

I belong to the latter category. Even while playing ‘Home’ as a child, I never agreed to play the ‘mother’. It was too big a responsibility. Hence, while waiting for my first child, I was clueless about how to handle children. I had to conduct a lot of Google search to ensure I knew everything.

But nothing could have prepared me for the reality.

Being a mother is a difficult job anyway with the 24×7 food-potty issues. For me, it was akin to fighting a dragon with bare hands. A live bomb ready to explode any second for known and unknown reasons, she scared me out of my wits in the first month. I was scared that I might drop her, touch her too hard, leave her hungry, overfeed her or crush her beneath me while sleeping at night, or somebody else at home might do the same (the jaundiced eye…), or she might fall off the bed if I left her unattended for a nano‑second. There were a lot of other crazy fears that I had never experienced before.

On cold nights, she throws away her sheets and I spend the rest of the night covering her. God bless the person who invented diapers, else I wouldn’t even get the 3-4 hours of sleep at night that I get now. Ever since the fated day, I can be caught sleeping anytime anywhere. I remember this day when I was found asleep while standing against a pillar.

I feel a renewed respect for my mother and all the mothers who dare a second baby.

I love my daughter! I just wish she was not so much of hard work. On the day she was born, my mother said, “Your struggle has just begun.” With nearly one year out of the way, my daughter is gradually switching from crawling to walking, and the challenge is heightening from Beginner level to Professional level. I am beginning to wonder whether mother was referring to the rest of my life.

Well, fingers crossed!

Posted in Life and After

I am a Fly on the Wall

Hi, I am rebloging one of my older pieces from my earlier site. Apologies to those who already read it.

“As bystanders in the greater events of the world, what are we but mere flies on the wall.”

But flies know stuff, like where you hide candies from your son or when you lie to your wife that you ate the salad she sent for lunch while eating extra-sugary donuts. And they use it to their advantage.

And flies spread news. Have you ever paid attention to the strange humming noise when they gather in a place? Don’t mistake it as just flapping of wings… that’s Morse code!

Flies also have political opinions. They can choose to sit either on the palm of your hand, a flower, a bicycle or an elephant at their will. They can also decide against all of them in favor of a blank wall or a puddle of cow poop.

Also flies can… well, fly! They have wings. They just choose to stick close to familiar places, like your kitchen. But the flies with ambition are free to fly to faraway sweet shops to live their dreams.

Hence, we humans have more in common with the common fly than we will be ready to admit. I, for one, as admit… I am just another fly on the wall!

Posted in Life and After

Tiny Story: Bewildered

The Dragon was seething.

She was left in the care of a woman who was always sleeping. She was alone and hungry, and had to live on the rats that roamed in the old castle.

She could not fathom why anyone would care to guard a castle who nobody lived in anymore. If only someone would let her out…

She tried to ask a few gentlemen who visited. But either they died on spot (and made a nice roasted meal, for a change) or ran away screaming about some monster. She wondered who the monster was. May be she could ask him to let her out…

Posted in Life and After

History: Survivor Stories – From the Horses’ Mouth

“The monsters looked like a small grey mountains.”

“They had large wings where ears should be and a hand in place of nose that they used to pick and throw us around.”

“As His Majesty Alexander’s war horse, I had believed nothing in the world could scare me but the war cry of these ‘Alifants’ sent chill up my spines.”

“I’m glad we returned after that encounter on the banks of river Indus. I don’t think we could have survived one more.”

-Survivor stories by His Majesty Alexander’s war horses