I was never a fan of Facebook, it has created more troubles in my life than it has ever solved in anyone’s. My ex is my ex because of FB…. Okay ….that’s an exaggeration. To fully blame my personal debacle on Mark alone is a bit too much… I was responsible too… but so was he.

I used to be those dormant Facebook users who visits Facebook once in a month just to check if the last set password is still working or not. But lately I have been using it more often albeit for my personal goals… no not getting connected to my ex or snooping around if that’s what you are about to conclude… let’s take more useful examples… like this Blog… a major chunk of the hits to the page are from these platform… So whether I love it or loathe it… I definitely can’t ignore the power of FB… after all there’s nothing personal between Mark and me. Unlike women we men move on in our lives, women find it very difficult to move on. Even after death they simply refuse to move on…. Think of all the horror flicks… “Exorcist”… “Child’s Play”… “Annabelle”… all had woman protagonist in the lead… the only ghost story with a male lead is “Casper- the friendly ghost”. So you know where I am coming from. I am not a MCP just an observer.

Anyways back to Facebook…. I almost log in once a day to my account now. Though I have strictly refused Mark’s request to download the messenger even after so much of pestering. Anyone messaging me on Facebook invariably gets an uncharacteristic delayed reply, but it ain’t my fault. I am not obliged to keep Mark’s request.

During my recent stint with Facebook I discovered a peculiar trend in women… the Face on Facebook. To be more direct the cover photo that uncovers many a fact. What I concluded was that there are mainly three categories of women flocking the virtual world-


The Lookers –

Naturally good looking and aware of their look types. These women will always put their best foot forward when it comes to cover pictures. I quite mean that literally, one foot forward, front knee slightly bent while the hind remains straight, hips out, torso slanted at an acute angle to the imaginary perpendicular line passing through the naval button, hands on the hip, chest out, lips pouted and they go click click click!!!! The best out of some 36 pics gets filtered another 36 times and then it’s uploaded. Likes flow, so does the comment – “You are looking gorgeous”… and then comes the reply “Thank you so much” and then I go…. Why do you have to take all things so personally? You didn’t do anything, beauty was a natural gift to you. It isn’t like my Armani shades or the Coach Sling bag for which I lived on one meal a day for two straight years… I made some serious sacrifices to get those… what did you do…. Exactly nothing…. So stop taking things personally. You see Mark and me …. That’s how it should be…

group selfie

The Medians –

Not naturally blessed like their well off cousins in the Lookers category, but with a bit of tweak here and there they manage a decent following. Most of the cover pics would be group photos with other better looking girls. They clearly shift the onus on morons like us to find who the profile owner is. The optimistic in us usually think that the pretty one somewhere near the centre would be the profile owner while the pessimists point towards the plain Jane standing close to the optimist’s version of the profile owner. But like always more times than not the pessimists have the last laugh. So a lesson for all folks. If you see a group of gals as the cover photo then more often than not the profile belongs to some average looker.


The third eye –

These type of girls just know it. They are not lookers at all. They are naturally deprived of decent looks, decent features. So they plan a revenge on nature. Like the way nature exposed them to the world they expose nature the very same way in the Facebook world. If you stumbled upon photos of waterfall, sunrise, deserts, gardens etc. as cover pictures then it’s time you know what’s lurking behind that sunset.

On a drunken Friday night my friend Tim started to miss his ex. When he typed Carol Garcia on the search bar, a few hundred Carols popped up. After a bottle of good alcohol, neither Tim nor I was in our good sense to recognise his ex. So we concluded that the profile that sported the picture of a desert must be the Carol that Tim was looking for. “Hey…..How are you?” followed soon. In minutes the desert showered some messages. Then the realisation phase came when Tim realised that it’s not what he was looking for. But since Tim being a gentleman plus drunk; he continued till the stage when the desert lifted her veil… that was it… sand storm started… Tim felt that we wouldn’t open his eyes ever again… Very soon Tim changed his cover pic to a cactus. The cactus thorns sure were symbolic to some punctured enthusiasm that night.

Apart from the top 3, there might be a fourth or fifth or nth type. It’s just that my limited selfish interaction with Facebook haven’t permitted to explore more. Mark might be able to tell you better. In the meantime, If I come across more I shall keep you posted.




Posted: June 20, 2015 in Random Rumblings

I was more than happy to be at the Bangkok airport a good three hours prior to the scheduled departure of my flight. This is not my usual self, I am one of those travelers who feels the airport is my sprinting track and I am allowed to be at the boarding gate at the time of the actual departure of the flight. But the summer heat of June in central Bangkok melted me into accepting a more responsible stance.

This was my last solo trip before settling down to a more anesthetized domestic life. I have heard strange stories about marriages from my friends and how life changes after seven series of merry go round. I was quite confident that I wouldn’t have the same fate as them, after all I am not them, I am me….. Riya – the quintessential adorable darling to one and all. But then who knows what will happen tomorrow, so I played safe and set out on my unaccompanied journey of self-discovery and peace in the tiny island of Samui, somewhere far from the hustle and bustle of the city life. It wasn’t easy to convince my parents and my fiancé Vivan for the trip, specially Vivan, who had reservations against the famous full moon party at Phangan. It was not even my itinerary, but given my psychedelic past he was apprehensive.

Vivan was the typical banker who had more interest in the numerical figure than my hour glass one. But he was successful, had a good pedigree, good education, in short, everything that would make him a hot property in the Indian marriage bazaar. He was just what your parents would prescribe to you. I met him through one of those social networking sites which cater to two types of people, one who doesn’t have the time to look around, which is Vivan’s category of people and the ones who are tired of looking around and being in failed relationships, which was my category. For most normal people a more real world existed. Had it been ten years back, I wouldn’t have given Vivan a second thought, but at 26 I am more level headed, a better judge of the world that shouted out loud “survival of the fittest”.

I swiftly got rid of my check-in luggage, passed the immigration and came in front of the giant statue depicting the mythological episode of the churning of the ocean of milk. This Hindu mythological depiction in a largely Buddhist country at their largest and busiest airport comes as a surprise to me.

It was too early for the airlines to decide on the boarding gate, so I wasn’t left with much choice but to laze around. The overnight ferry and bus trip from Samui to Bangkok had left me quite exhilarated and hungry and thirsty and so on. I decided to check in the “Bangkok Café Bar” at Level 3, one of the many restaurants in the airport. The menu had almost enough to satisfy my hunger, quench my thirst and make my pocket light. Everything on the menu was priced at almost triple of what you would normally pay anywhere else in Thailand, but then this was an airport, you can’t escape.

I chose a sofa chair to park my battered self rather than the normal chair that was in abundance at the restaurant. I noticed the guy sitting bang opposite to me in a similar sofa chair was checking me out. He was an Indian too, well, nothing surprising in Bangkok airport! This is a haven for Indian carriers and newlyweds, but I am sure he was none of the former.

Stubble, short crop, white tee, blue denim and Crocs, probably 170-174 cms, nothing that would set him apart; yet there was something that made me take notice of him. The giant size menu served as the perfect cover-up for me to check him out to my heart’s content. A good five minutes later I lowered my guard and put down the menu where it should have been in the first place. The waiter was in front of me in and no time he noted down my gastronomic desires.

As I started to fiddle with my smart phone wanting to make good use of the free wi fi at the airport, I noticed from the side of the eye that the guy was walking towards me.

“Is he gonna really talk to me? Is he coming to say hi?”… Human mind, I tell you, can beat the speed of light any day. In a few nanoseconds the mind covered a lot of distance all to be disappointed when he walked past by me to the men’s room. If someone had the vision to dig into my mind, I would have surely slid myself under the sofa and pretend that I didn’t exist. Girl’s mind, I tell you….

“Is it Riya? From CGS….” Asked a husky voice from behind me when I was least expecting anything like that.

I went into an awkward momentary silence as I turned my head to find the same guy standing behind me. Before I could react, he continued in a husky tone…

“Vikram from CBS… we used to be in the same neighbourhood… do you remember? I moved out of the city when you were still in school.”

Do I remember…. Dude, you were my first crush… I have spent countless hours conversing with you in my head… enacting situations that never happened….

Yes, I wanted to broadcast all of this, but then I was a girl… rather a lady now… and we ladies don’t say things like that… on top of it I just had my engagement before this trip… so what came out was-

“Oh yes…. Right… Vikram… you were in CBS… we were in the same locality.” Nothing more than what Vikram had already informed me.

“Can I join you if you don’t mind…?”

In my head – “Do I mind…? I searched you desperately for years, tried every possible source to get some info on you and now when you have bumped into me… do I mind?”

What came out from my mouth – “Absolutely, please feel free, but I have flight in two hours or so…”

“That’s good enough to catch up on old times, ” he smiled.

Certain things do not change even with time, Vikram’s smile was one of them and it still makes my heart skip a beat. Of course a few things have changed, the hairless cheeks have turned into a stubble field; the teenage boyish charm has made way for a lean muscular physique man. But nothing really that I could complain of.

As Vikram went past me to grab his drink and his stuffs, I chanced upon my reflection in the huge glass that overlooked the runway. Suddenly I became conscious of my looks, suddenly I felt the need to get my hair in place, adjust my bra straps and check if my mouth freshener is still working. It’s a tough job being a lady, specially when your first crush bumps into you when least expected.

Walking with a sling bag and a glass of beer Vikram looked more alluring as he approached my table.

“Who drinks beer at such early hours” – I thought to myself

“In case the glass of beer is causing you concern, then let me assure you that there’s no bad time for a good time.” – And broke into a laughter.

I could hardly react as my mind was shrouded by the thought of whether he can really read minds or he knows that it’s odd to drink at this hour and owed an explanation to a lady.

My hand phone started to wriggle on the table as soon as it got connected to the Wifi. It was Vivan’s watsapp messages that poured in like Mumbai rains, one after the other, non-stop. He was just concerned if I had safely reached the airport. Before I could even finish reading all his messages. Vivan called me on Viber.

I looked at Vikram as if I needed his approval to receive the call.

I excused myself, talked to Vivan for a good five minutes out of which four went assuring him that I am doing great and the last minute went telling him that I bumped into an old friend of mine.

Was I telling the truth? Was Vikram a friend? I don’t even remember how many times I talked to him… but I remember those countless moments that I have thought about him, conversed with him in my head and tried to figure out where the hell he disappeared.

“My fiancé, Vivan” – I informed Vikram as I hung up and sat down, trying to convince myself that Vivan is the only person who makes my heart flutter.

“Oh, congratulations! So when are guys going to tie the knot?”

Not a bit of regret… very nonchalant… very indifferent. At least he could have said “Oh, that means I can’t hit on you” or “Wow someone’s gonna be lucky.” Is he like this or it is because he is married? But then I didn’t notice any ring. So the cat in me couldn’t contain its curiosity.

“So are you married? Kids…?”

“Whoa, whoa… you are too fast for an extremely slow person like me. Couldn’t go beyond stage one of this video game called marriage. I bailed out at the live in stage only.” And once again he broke into peals of laughter.

I didn’t know if that should have made me happy or sad. Or should I be bothered at all.

We got talking. Family, friends, schools, life in general.

Vikram was in Calcutta Boys and I was in Calcutta Girls. Our schools shared the same boundary walls. When our school used to get over we used to patronize the same ice cream vendor, the same stationary shop even the same footpath that lead to our locality. But neither he nor I ever talked to each other. I used to look at him from the corner of my eyes, but I was never sure if he did the same. This was all his fault. It all started because of him.

I got my first pair of wheel on my 12th birthday just when I moved to class six. It was a nice pink bi-cycle gifted by my father on my behest. Every day, I used to go to the nearby neighbourhood park to practice my balancing skills on my new wheels. Slowly and surely I mastered the art of balancing and started speeding through the streets throwing all cautions to the wind. The wheels were my symbolic wings, it was like graduating a step closer to freedom.

But one day I got nervous by an approaching Ambulance and couldn’t work the brakes at the right moment resulting in a head on collision with Vikram who was walking on the footpath going towards the same park where I used to cycle and he used to play cricket. I fell down on him and fell in love. He held me in his arms as he tried to move the cycle away from my body. That was the very first time that I got so close to someone of the opposite sex. I wasn’t really concerned about the blood oozing out from my elbow, which had brushed against the pavement, but I was more concerned about our proximity. He looked at me and I gave him my heart. Vikram literally held me in his arms and got me up. He asked me if I was okay. To be honest, nothing fell into my ears. I was still stuck in that very moment when he held me in his arms. I became a slave to his thoughts from that very point in time.

Love songs and romantic mushy movies took a whole new dimension, they used to rule my world along with the thoughts of Vikram. I never had the courage to go up to him and express myself, a whole year went by and I did nothing apart from being immersed in his thoughts and then one fine day he disappeared. I knew he went to Mumbai after passing out, but that’s it. As long as I was in school, he was the only guy I thought of, he ruled my mind like no one ever did. But then you know we all grow up.

Meeting him after so many years evoked a plethora of emotions and memories. Memories about my first crush, my first experience of being in a man’s arms, my first ever kiss less love. It was innocent, it was pure and it was unpretentious.

Even now as he sat in front of me sharing anecdotes about his strange life as a freelance traveler, I remain mesmerized. Is he that charming? Is it his words, is it his sense of humour or is it care free attitude? What is that exactly that draws me to him even after all these years? No man has ever made me feel the way he did. Only if he knew…..

But I guess Vikram was beyond all this, loving another being of the opposite sex is for mere mortals, it is for the ordinary. In the past few years, Vikram has started his NGO to spread education for the deprived, he is a social entrepreneur who has been featured in countless articles in some top notch journals and also does freelance travelling. He has his travelogue which is quite a rage among fellow travelers. Most of the thing he told me was in Google itself, only that I never ventured in the roads less travelled and people like Vikram don’t tread the beaten track.

Vikram kept me engaged and mesmerized till Vivan called me up again.

“Hun, hope you are already in the flight.”

I looked at my watch, I still have almost an hour to go. But Vivan didn’t knew that. I was going to surprise Vivan by taking a flight to Mumbai rather than Kolkata. I didn’t want to spoil the party so I just played along and assured Vivan that I was sitting tight in the flight.

“You gotta a loving hubby…” Vikram smiled as I disconnected the call.

I told him how I intended to surprise Vivan, else he might find it strange that I lied to my would-be husband.

But Vikram was headed to Delhi and his flight time was ahead of me. In fact, he was the one who should have proceeded for boarding.

I knew we had to part once again, but not before I let him knew that he was my first ever crush. Yes, I decided that I should just let him know, there’s nothing wrong, there’s no fear of acceptance or rejection, no fear of being judged –  and I blabbered

“Vikram, I need to tell you something – you were my first crush ever since the time you held me in your arms you had captured my heart.”

That was the first time I saw the ever articulate Vikram go silent, perhaps he blushed.

“Even I liked you, but never had the balls.” –  Once again he smiled and mesmerized me.

It took me a good four to five minutes to come out with “What?”

I couldn’t believe my ears

There were a lot of things that I wanted to tell him at this point, but by then the sling bag was on. The bill was paid and Vikram was ready to leave.

Much like life, our departure gates were in opposite directions. So our last common stop was the giant screen which displayed the departure gates against each flight.

Our actions are quite a reflection of our own lives. Bidding bye was awkward, while Vikram tried to give me a hug, I tried to shake hands and when I wanted to reciprocate he had his palm extended. I saw him getting lost in the crowd once again and then I turned to walk towards my boarding gate.

“Riya”, the same husky tone once again, at the most unexpected time, only this time panting a bit.

I turned and before I could react, I was once again in Vikram’s arms. He has this hypnotizing effect on me that at close proximity I find myself unable to react. Fifteen years back it felt the same when he took me in his arms. He moved the locks from my face, slowly placed his right hand behind my ears and smooched me …………..

I reciprocated…………

It just felt the most natural thing for me. Vivan, my engagement ring, my impending marriage was all washed away by a wave of ecstasy that was so effortlessly imparted by Vikram. We smooched and kissed and then smooched some more before we both started running out of breath.


“I always wanted to kiss you Riya, it’s just that it took me 15 years to grow the balls. Now I will have one less regret in life.”

Those were Vikram’s last word before he disappeared once again.

The entire flight from Bangkok to Mumbai was once again filled up with Vikram and his thoughts and my imagination of us being together. I should have been guilty of keeping my mind full with another’s man thought while going to meet my fiancé and that too for a surprise planned by me. But then Vikram would forever be my number one, he would always stand out, he would forever be special and I would have to live with the fact that no man can captivate me as much as this man can do. Vikram was the perfect mirage – alluring, appealing, tantalising but it’s all a beautiful illusion which you can’t make your own. If you try too hard you will lose your sanity. My real world was different from Vikram’s surreal world.

Vivan was worried about the full moon party at Phangan, probably he was insecure; probably he thought what if I slipped after a few pegs and maybe kiss a total stranger or maybe some more. I can understand his insecurities, any man who has a hot partner feels the same way. But here smack in the middle of a busy airport in all my senses, someone whom I knew since I was a pre-teenager swept me off my feet and kissed the way I always longed to be kissed.

Vivan would probably never know, in fact, no one ever knows when life comes calling. Even I didn’t knew.

Thank you Vikram where ever you are. You made my last solo trip unforgettable …………………………………as always.

A Match Maid in Minefield

Posted: June 17, 2015 in Random Rumblings


Georgia and I had already moved into our new flat at Malad. Georgia, the name may sound western but it’s not what you think. She was definitely western but only from western India. Georgia was Goan Catholic and I was a North Indian Hindu, our love story was quite Bollywoodish, I can make another “Two States” out of it but then again Georgia wouldn’t enjoy reading how I really felt about her father.

We were still not married, we were in the beta testing phase; that is; we were living in. Like all other men I love to take things slow when it comes to commitment because in our heart we all are that Bollywood superstar who once committed can’t waver from his commitment even if he wishes to. So we think a zillion times before getting into any commitment and once we are in, then we start thinking a zillion times again about the sanity of our decision. Fortunately Georgia was accommodating to my commitment issues, so against everyone’s wishes we decided to move in. Sure we had ruffled some feathers back in Goa and in Kanpur but then a life without ruffling some old feathers would be pretty much stale.

For a Goan Catholic, Georgia was way too educated, she had a management degree from one of the tier one colleges in the country which easily fetched her a great job at one of the top financial institution in the country and I was a commodity broker working for a company who didn’t even have any offices in India. I catered to a niche market where most of the deals took place at echelons of the Bombay Gymkhana or at The Taj, having an office or not did matter very little. In other words I used to work from home and barring those times when I had to travel overseas or meet people over lunch to exercise my PR skills I was pretty much domesticated. Malad was where Georgia’s office was and that was the most important factor for us to move in there, as for me, Malad or Mazgaoan; it made very little difference.

Two months on in our new flat and we felt the need to get a domestic help, rather I felt the need. Initially life felt an absolute bliss, the whole idea of kissing good bye to your partner in the morning while she leaves the house in her corporate suit and you are still in your boxers felt awesome. It finally felt that the 21st century man has arrived who is happy to exchange roles with his partner in crime without batting an eye lid as to what the neighbours has to say. The whole day I used to be the king of my mansion. On a good day, Georgia used to return only around 8 in the evening and on a bad day it used to be 10 at night. By that time she was already burnt out, just burnt out enough to not pick a fight with me over menial issues that is so common among couples of our age. So in one word life was good, until Georgia started expecting. No it’s not what you think, we were careful on those grounds. It was just that since most of the time I was cooling my bum at the flat, Georgia started to expect that I would do all the household chores including cooking, cleaning, groceries, bill payment, fixing of defunct appliances etc etc.

One of the cons of having a “work from home” job is that a lazy person like me gets even lazier, so at the end of the day most of the jobs would be left behind or happily forgotten. This was the first cause of trouble between me and Georgia and I knew I had to nip it in the bud before it comes to a point when Georgia stops giving me my daily dose of euphoria. No matter how tired Georgia was she never suffered from headaches and for me I had a one track mind courtesy my idle hours at home. A good rack in the sack is all that I longed all day till I lived my dream at night. So before anything awful happened to my happiness, I convinced Georgia that it was time we get ourselves a domestic help to do the household chores.

Getting a flat in Mumbai for a live in couple of different religious belief must have been one of the toughest challenges of my life. Not only were we interviewed by the broker and the land lord, but also the neighbours, the society secretary and the committee members. At one point we felt that the watchman, the milkman and the newspaper vendor will also queue up to interview us. But that was only half the battle won, the other half comprised of getting a maid who will agree to work for us.

We circulated the news that we were looking for a maid for our household and very soon the society gossip mills worked overtime to get us a few prospective maids lined up for the job. We thought of interviewing them one by one, but little did we knew that tables would turn in no time.

Once again we found ourselves being interviewed, this time by the prospective maids. They had strange demands ranging from basic things like bread and butter to more complex thing like how to relate their increment in salary to month on month inflation data published by the Reserve bank of India. At the end of it all we settled, or rather Georgia settled for Shabnam, a Muslim lady in her early thirties, she must have been only five or six years older to us but sure acted like the local guardian that we never had.

Slowly within the first two weeks Shabnam made her intentions clear that she is going to side with Georgia and not me. Well, it didn’t matter at all as long as she did what she was supposed to and I must admit that apart from being good with household chores, she was a great cook. Had she been on my side I would have dreamt of opening a food stall for her, but too bad that she choose the wrong side, saving me my day dreams.

Shabnam used to come twice every day, morning and evening. This arrangement was convenient and ensured that we got freshly cooked home-made meals on a daily basis. I remember Georgia had asked Shabnam to call me up before she comes in the evening, in case I had to go for an impromptu client meet or other such things in the second half of the day.  But this very thing turned into a nightmare for me.

In her mind, Shabnam had already concluded that I was that good for nothing guy who had somehow managed to rope in a successful lady like Georgia and Georgia was the one who used to run the household while I had no job. So to taunt me every evening Shabnam would exactly call me at five and say –

“Sir, Shabnam here, you must be at home only… right… where else would you go? But I still thought of giving you a call before coming, in case for a change you went out on a job.”

Before I could even say anything affirmative or negative, Shabnam would simply hang up. In the next twenty minutes she would show up at the door with a cheeky smile thinking in her head “Moron, today also I made you feel like shit yet you don’t have any shame to go out and try for a job.” This went on for quite some time. In the beginning I hardly cared about what Shabnam had to perceive about me but then slowly it started getting to me.

Making the right impression on my maid is probably the last thing that was there in my mind but suddenly it felt important. Truth be told in a good month I earned what Georgia would earn in 6 months’ time and in a bad month about half of that, yet in Shabnam’s eyes I was the parasite who thrived on Georgia’s sweat and blood.

One day Georgia was down with fever and she took an early leave from the office to be back home after lunch. I gave her some paracetamol, some tender care and watched her fall asleep. Now staying in the same room as Georgia without any air con was not an option in Mumbai heat, it would definitely make me sick. So once I was sure that Georgia was asleep I moved into the guest room, switched on the air con and opened a can of Tuborg to beat the Mumbai heat. Like always, the phone rang, the door bell sounded and Shabnam entered. Half an hour later, I could overhear Shabnam who was on her phone standing in the balcony talking to her husband.

“I am so sorry that I have always thought that you are a bad husband. I always thought you to be someone who never contributed to the family but wasted all his hard earned money on cheap country liquor, but trust me today I have seen the worst. While the girlfriend lay sick in one room, the guy is simply boozing away to glory in another room using the girlfriend’s hard earned cash. At least even in your drunken state you took me to hospital when I suffered labour pain. But this guy has no conscience at all, he doesn’t even care about the girl who work her ass off to feed this moron. I have seen the vilest of all and now, I thank Allah that I am not so unlucky.”

As soon as Shabnam hung up, I knew that I have reached an all-time low from Shabnam’s perspective. She looked at me with scornful eyes as I came to the kitchen to throw my empty beer bottle, I am sure in her mind she must have concluded that I was the virus that gave Georgia her fever.


Initially Georgia and I used to have a good laugh at the expense of Shabnam’s out dated processor, which was yet to completely decode all necessary information about “work from home” jobs. But later it started getting to Georgia as well, after all no woman likes her partner to be thought as good for nothing. More than love, respect and care it seriously undermines the woman’s capability of finding a decent guy. So to resurrect the situation, Georgia decided to hand over the baton of paying Shabnam’s monthly salary to me. Georgia felt that when I would hand over the salary to Shabnam, she would understand that I too work and earn enough to bear the household expenses. It was Georgia’s subtle method of buying me some respect and I agreed to be a party to it.

So came the 1st of the month and I was sitting there at the living room, waiting for Shabnam to finish her job so that I may hand over the cash.

“Shabnam, here’s your salary.” I felt a bit proud as I handed over the crisp currency note to her.

“What happened to Georgia? Is everything okay?” was Shabnam’s immediate response seeing the change of guard.

I didn’t know what to reply except nodding my head to indicate all is well. By then my mind was busy fathoming out how is Shabnam affected if instead of Georgia I am handing over the cash to her? She should be just happy that she is being paid, but no…. she continued….

“Mumbai is damn expensive, if both partners aren’t working then it becomes very tough for just one individual to run the show. You see how Georgia falls sick often. This is all stress. Even my husband doesn’t earn much but at least he fends for himself and his basic needs ….”

When Shabnam finished, I realised – I was still that loser who has somehow managed to find odd jobs to pay her monthly salary; I also realised that pitted against Shabnam’s husband who was into stonework, I still fared badly.


Six months down the line, Georgia and I had started to have little tiffs, which I had carefully avoided for so long. There were a few things that Shabnam couldn’t do like paying the credit card bills, paying other utility bills and others such stuffs. By now my laziness was of such epic proportion, I sucked at those even. Georgia and I had this argument about how we should just leave a standing instruction to the bank about all these payments. I was for it and Georgia was dead against it since she feared credit card fraud and other scams. In came Ms. Shabnam who was the self-appointed umpire. Needless to say that she was like one of those umpires of eighties who officiated the India-Pak cricket matches in Sharjah. I was fighting a losing battle against two women, any man who have ever tried doing that knows what are your chances to win such a duel? There were several other instances where Shabnam had successfully fuelled Georgia’s ire against me. Shabnam wasn’t any more just a side of a fire triangle that destroyed my peace; armed with all necessary ammunitions against me, she was the fire triangle in its entirety and Georgia used to fall for it giving me a hard time whenever we argued.

Slowly…. even without getting married I started feeling like a stay at home husband living with his wife and mother in law. Shabnam started gaining importance in household affairs and I was slowly losing my relevance. Barring my moments with Georgia in the sack, everything else was out sourced to Shabnam. All these only encouraged Shabnam to continue mocking me with her daily dose of phone calls.

This was one of those moments which required drastic measures to ensure domestic peace. I needed to act before Shabnam turned out to be my full-fledged adopted mom in law. I tried a few tricks to piss off Shabnam. Toying with Shabnam’s cleaning materials, misplacing them, breaking them etc., but those didn’t result in much irritation in Shabnam, at least not good enough to quit her job. A dirtier guest room or living room also didn’t help much apart from myself being labelled as pig. A few more silly ideas to irritate Shabnam and make her leave, didn’t work at all. She was comfortable and basking in the glory of Georgia’s patronisation of her over me.

After a lot of thought, I came up with my master plan.

It was Georgia’s birthday and there isn’t any girl in this world who doesn’t love surprises. Be it a solitaire or a simple bouquet with her choicest flower, woman loves her man to surprise her. I decided to take this route, a surprise that Georgia could probably never fathom. On her birthday, Georgia woke up to a strange squeal coming in from a wooden box shaped like a house. The box had a card on which it was written –

“To the girl with whom I dream of being holed up in a Hilton suite on our honeymoon in the romantic capital called Paris. Happy birthday sweetheart.”

This was a subtle reference to Paris Hilton who made this particular gift a fad.

A small tea cup pig walked into the lap of Georgia as soon as she opened the door of the wooden house. I can very well say it was love at first sight for Georgia. She was over joyed and elated at the gift. I got a few bonus hugs, a lot of kisses. But this wasn’t the only surprise I had in mind for Georgia.

A day later my adopted mom in law Shabnam delivered her resignation speech, this was the very moment that I had been waiting for. This was the master surprise that I had anticipated.

Georgia tried to coax her in vain and was left to choose between Shabnam and “Mr Pogo” – our new family member, the tea cup pig. Shabnam was a devout Muslim and I took a calculated risk of bringing in Mr. Pogo to my rescue, but had my plan failed then I would have been stuck with both Shabnam and Mr. Pogo. Yes I never liked tea cup pigs, call me what you want to but I don’t find them cute or adorable or any of that thing. I have strong reason to believe Paris Hilton is dumb, adopting a tea cup pig as a pet is one of them. It’s just that I prefer staying with Mr. Pogo for 5-6 years rather than Ms. Shabnam for 5-6 days.

Knowing Georgia I knew Mr. Pogo was here to stay and Shabnam had to bid us adieu. Georgia would never give up on Pogo for someone’s religious belief, since Georgia herself was more or less a free thinker who only believed in humanity. She was spiritual without necessarily being religious.

The day Shabnam left, I and Shabnam had a silent conversation with each other just by the movement of our eyes. The feeling was mutual it’s just that I had the last laugh. I could easily have my Ketsbaia moment when I closed the the door on Shabnam for the last time.

We men will never understand the relationship between a daughter in law and her mother in law but after all these, I can safely say that I came quite close of having a first-hand feel of something similar. A lot of politics goes in cementing your place as a lovable house husband or in this case as a lovable stay at home partner. Being a “stay at home” dude is not a piece of cake…….

The alarm refused to buzz from its constant whining ways, neither would the snooze button work. It was irritating me to no end and no matter how much I tried…. it kept ringing. A good minute or so later, I realized that the alarm was in my head rather than on the side table beside the bed.

Out of nowhere, a soft gentle voice enlightened my trance and said “Sandy… I guess your phone is ringing…”

I was a bit taken back by the turn of the event, albeit a bit confused. What I thought was an alarm was in fact a dream, what I thought was in my dream was in fact a manifestation of a somewhat real sound and what I thought was a divine intervention was actually an intrusion by the lady lying next to me in her negligee. It took me a few shake of the head, a bit of fist hammering on the temple and few slaps on my cheek to open my eyes and realize what was happening around me…

“Baby could you please pass on the mobile from your side?” – I asked in a heavily sedated voice as I spotted my Nokia on the other side table.

Salute to the person who invented the idea of pampering his girl by calling her “baby”… if he had a Twitter account then it would make him the Pied Piper of social media. A whole generation followed him…. my generation.

“Baby” was my easiest refuge to avert a potential embarrassing situation. In this case I had even forgotten how she looked like…. taking things a notch higher.

The night before in one of the swankiest night clubs in Mumbai it was Ladies’ night. Like every Thursday it was one more occasion to remind that life sucks as a testosterone laden guy in his early twenties. But in the hindsight Thursday’s weren’t all that bad either, apart from the chance to ogle at dishy girls who frequented nightspots for free booze I could also get unlimited booze for a couple of thousand bucks, which was quite cool.

Though I couldn’t recollect beyond a point, but I knew that last night was crazy and I got lucky with a group of women who was at the club for the first time. We did Bhangra on Bacardi, Tango on Tequila and Waltz on Whiskey. The heady mix of foot tapping music, free flow of alcohol and some form of ladies in plural numbers dancing with me felt like “Awesomeness” redefined. It was bound to make me forget a few things out of which “Baby’s” real name was the least of my concern.

By the time “Baby” turned over and handed over my phone it had stopped ringing….

“Good morning” and a whiff of morning breathe from “Baby” made my morning wood go limp immediately, the rest of the damage was done by her makeup less face. She must have been in her naughty forties. However I reciprocated the morning greetings in a manner as if it was one of the best morning of my life.

My concept of “good” morning has always been different from the conventional theory. The clock on the locked mobile screen showed 9 AM.

If the Sun has to shine on my eyes before 10 in the morning then the morning can’t be really that good; at best it would be ordinary much like my “Baby”. She must have been the most ordinary member of the gang that I met last night. Describing her looks would be pretty much useless unless I get drunk again. On any normal day we wouldn’t have ended up like this. More than her looks I guess I was much more biased towards her age.

I don’t blame myself much for forgetting her name. The loud music at the club did most of the damage in the first place. I couldn’t get her name clearly when she actually introduced herself. Also for a fact that I had no clue that she would end up in my bed, it was a natural choice not to burden my hard disk with names that didn’t matter. It never happens that you get to whisk away a lady from her group of friends. It’s an unsaid rule that any lady who abandons her group for a guy will find herself at the receiving end when she goes back to her own clan, a feat that no woman fancies. Well at forty things might change, but then how was I to know of it?

As I dialled the number that was responsible for making me go through all these futile realization, my baby lay cuddled up to me as I adjusted myself in a half seated position trying my best to avoid any eye contact with her.

“Hello” – answered a middle aged lady sounding very familiar

“Good morning, Sandeep Chawla here and sorry I missed your call earlier, may I know this is regarding what?”

“Sandeep Chawla – third officer is it?” queried the familiar voice.

“Yes that would be me” – I replied as I negotiated the terrible hangover.

“Sandeep you have been assigned your next ship and you need to do your medicals today. You will be flying out within the next couple of days. I am sending the details of the company doctor on your email, please reach there before 12.” – this was none other than the office receptionist – Rosy who must have used one of those several board numbers to call me that are not saved under the company’s name in my phonebook.

I am not too sure if I could reply with an audible “Yes” but the phone got disconnected by then.

The morning couldn’t get any worse. Everything good in life seemed to come with a bad “but” attached to it.

Good was – I was sleeping beside a woman with whom I hooked up at the club last night, but bad was – On any normal day I would prefer my hand to do the job for me rather than my “Baby” who lay beside me.

Good was – I finally got a call for employment after a good 1 year since the time I had cleared my nautical exams and has been hoping for a job, but bad was – There was no way that I am going to pass the medicals given the elevated levels of alcohol flowing in my veins .

Amidst the deep crisis that loomed large on my professional arena came that soft voice from my lap

“Thanks Sandy for last night …..”

I didn’t know how to react because I don’t remember any of it. Was I that good? Even I doubt it, given the heavy dose of mix and match spirits the colour of my blood must have been psychedelic and my performance must have gone lifeless.

For lack of options I just nodded my head and patted her bare back.

“Babes I got a call from the office and I need to rush… what are your plans?” I enquired with a hope that she gets the drift and leaves. I got my own shit to sort out, I thought to myself.

“Yeah I also need to rush, got my Stats class at 11:30 and need to make it to college before that ….” I don’t think any other response could have made me any happier.

It didn’t take her long to get ready and leave the house. I felt as if I was a part of those Naughty America videos when the guy gets to relieve his fantasy with his teacher. On a second thought she wasn’t that bad either, but still I was happy to see her off.

Severely dehydrated I downed a few litres of water to quench my thirst, some additional litres went down with the hope that it will dilute some of the alcohol in my blood stream.

Rosy’s email popped up as I switched on my laptop. It had very clear instruction on how I was supposed to reach Marine Medical at Andheri East by 12 sharp. I did a rough calculation in my head and concluded that I have an hour’s time to get in shape and be there for the medicals.

The whole list of test that I would be subjected to was right in front of my eyes. The “Alcohol test” caused me the most stress. I was sure that I would never pass that test under the present circumstances. I must have been drinking till the wee hours of the morning. The half empty bottle of Antiquity lying on the floor was testifying to that fact.

But that wasn’t the only concern there was something more that I had completely overlooked. I started rummaging the room as if I was looking for a dead rat. The pillow, the bedsheet, the comforter were on the carpet in no time, yet I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I rushed to the bathroom and checked all nook and corners. I even emptied out the trash can but nowhere was the condom to be located.

A used condom was the point of interest at that moment in time. Put yourself in my situation and you will realize that how important can a used condom be? It was like “zero”, didn’t have any value in its solitary state but put it behind some numbers and Voila!!!!

I would have most likely freaked out at the sight of a used condom but now it was my object of desire specially when I don’t remember if I had practised safe sex or not for that matter I couldn’t even recollect if I had sex at all last night.

After wasting one third of an hour, my soul sunk when I found the Durex pack in my side table drawer wrapped up nicely in its plastic cover. Too bad it was a still a virgin.

I tried very hard to remember the chain of events that happened over the last twelve hours but I couldn’t come up with anything that was worthwhile. Additionally to freak me out I couldn’t see any stains on my bed sheet either. Was I so stupid….?

Along with the alcohol test the HIV test also looked dicey now.

My left and right brain had engaged in a verbal duel while I was in the shower, the left clearly listed out the STDs that I was exposed to while engaging in such callous act but the right brain gave me hope, a fleeting chance that the lady had a condom on her, maybe she cleaned it up before leaving, my imaginations ran wild.

Even the shower did not have much effect on my hangover, the headache was persistent, I felt drowsy and my pee smelt of a desolated bar, all the ingredients to help me flunk my medical test. It wasn’t in my power to re-schedule things neither could I afford to. I was out of job for the last one year and the job scenario for junior merchant marine officer was at its nadir. There wasn’t any way to postpone the medical test, if I wasn’t going for it someone else would.

I still had 15 minutes before I needed to leave for Andheri. The phone rang once again.

“Dude… wassup…?” – It was Vipul, my batch mate.

Before I could say anything, my hungover brain somehow worked on a different plan altogether.

“Dude I am in shit, where are you…you got to bail me out?” I informed

The next few minutes went convincing Vipul about the sanity of my plan.

I told him “Meet me outside Bandra station in 20 minutes.” as I hung up.

Vipul walked towards me with an amused look as I waited in the hot sun outside the Bandra station.

“Dude what’s wrong with you… seriously you want to do this?” he laughed.

“Do I have a choice…? I got to rush….give me the thing.” I tried to hurry Vipul

From the front pocket of Vipul’s jeans came out the plastic pouch tightly sealed by rubber bands. It had the Holy water that can save my job.

Vipul was a teetotaller, a rare breed of species that existed in my knowledge. The only way I could pass my alcohol test was by swapping the sample. There could be none better than a teetotaller’s urine sample. I coaxed and persuaded Vipul to get his pee in a plastic pouch for me. At the medical test facility I would have to just empty the pouch in the sample bottle and that should do the trick.

The pouch felt warm as I pocketed it, must have been fresh, I thought to myself.

There was no further time to analyse the physical character of Vipul’s pee. I needed to rush and promised to meet Vipul in the afternoon while I am done with my medicals.

I hopped onto the Andheri bound local train. Mumbai trains are always crowded, but luckily for me it was only a few stations till I arrive at Andheri.

As I alighted at Andheri, the right pocket of my jeans started to feel wet.

“Oh Lord!!!”

The rubber band became loose and Vipul’s kindness started oozing through the pouch. I ran towards the public restroom, went into the lavatory and quickly took out the pouch. To handle one’s own excretion is a shitty job and now I was dealing with someone else’s. It was disgusting but was the need of the hour. Vipul had packed enough water not to bother about the spilled drops. I used all my seamanship skills to tie an iron knot around the pouch, so that it does not get loose when subjected to Mumbai crowd. I cleaned up myself a bit. The handkerchief that was tucked nicely on my right pocket had to be dumped, but thankfully it saved a good bit of me. To be honest, I would have discarded the jeans if I had an option, for now it only had water mark which wasn’t standing out too much against the Indigo background of my jeans.

Anyways, a short auto ride and I was in front of the diagnostic centre. The excruciating Indian summer wasn’t helping my hangover a bit. I felt more dehydrated. Somehow I dragged myself to the reception and showed the mail from my office.

The test started with the standard height-weight measurement and continued on to more advanced tests. Soon it was my turn to give my urine sample. Holding someone else’s urine and pouring it neatly from one container to another can give such immense sense of achievement was beyond my imagination. Yes I finally did it after a topsy turvy morning.

Next was the time to collect my stool sample. This was the most disgusting part. But more than that I had already taken a dump this morning and there was nothing remaining in my intestines, not to mention I didn’t have any breakfast either. I tried to reason out with the pathologist in a subtle manner but to no avail. The test would not be complete unless all the testing are done.

Unwillingly I took the sample bottle and headed straight to the restroom. I sat there for what seemed like ages, trying to think of all the people who evokes a sense of shit. Finally 15 minutes later, the elusive droplets parted my body and made a musical splash into the commode. “Job done” I patted myself as I got up to find tissues.

“Grrrrrr sssshhhhh Grrrrrr ssssshhhh” – I haven’t felt so helpless in years.

The restroom had an automated flush system which detected motions and activated on its own self  flushing down my hard work in a span of few seconds. I couldn’t remember when was I last troubled so much by my own poop? I looked all over the small cubicle and felt like committing suicide by drowning myself in that commode.

Dejected and depressed I sat down again on the toilet seat. A few men came in and went away, the clocked ticked on but never did I feel a thing apart from the constant feeling of constipation. Finally another 20 minutes and I managed to churn out a decent sample. Till the time I had it in the sample container I cared for it like it was some diamond.

The pathologist waiting for me looked towards me with suspicion, we had a silent conversation in our own mind.

Pathologist – “What’s wrong with you dude? Are you so damn constipated?”

Me – “To hell with you, I am a normal guy who doesn’t take a dump every hour unless you are going to infect me with stomach disease.”

The rest of the medical was a breeze. Finally after 2 hours I was all done. I tried hard to ask the medical centre to mail me a copy of my reports but to no avail. The receptionists said that they would send my report straight to my company. I called up office and informed the same.

As I sat down at one of those Udipi restaurant munching on some masala dosa and sipping some rasam to get over my hangover, my brain worked zealously in figuring out what if the STD reports are positive. All I could do is make a silent wish that all should go well.

The phone rang while I was seated at the backseat of an auto rickshaw.

“Rituja calling” read my Nokia

My brain had given up by now, I had no power to stress my brain and think who it was. I couldn’t care any less, I just picked up the call.

“Hi handsome” the voice from the other side lifted my spirit.

It’s rare that I come across lying woman, but when I do I definitely feel nice.

My senses worked overtime to figure out who’s Rituja but I tried to be calm on the surface and replied – “Eh… hello, how are you doing beautiful?”

“I will be done with my college by 5… shall we meet then… after all you owe me a coffee that I never had last night.”

Now I needed no more brainstorming. Rituja was the “babe” from last night. I must have saved her contacts in my drunken stupor but totally forgot about it.

I continued – “Babe did I promise coffee to you? … I kind of avoid it myself.”

I could literally feel her breaking into splits. Her giggle continued for the next minute and finally she said “I thought your place will have the type of coffee that a man serves a woman after midnight….. But too bad that it didn’t happen so. We both passed out soon on the Antiquity.”

“So you mean we didn’t have sex last night…? No wonder I couldn’t find the condom…” I just couldn’t hold back the later part and realised that it is a stupid thing to say…but the damage was already done.

Soon a barrage of questions followed as to why would someone look for used condoms? I somehow managed to negotiate that under the veil of my aged housekeeper who would be embarrassed to find such things lying here and there.

But all that mattered now is that I didn’t had sex with “Baby”….

I have never felt so good about myself or my manliness for not having performed. Never did my grin became so wide thinking that I didn’t do anything to a woman who was right next to me on my bed and was willing. All the odd things in life conspired to make my day from my friend’s pee to my own poop and now not doing “it” just felt so nice.

Before hanging up, Rituja and I did make plans to meet that evening but not for coffee, at least not the type of coffee that she had in mind. It was more of my way to say “Thanks” for bringing in such a relief with that one call.

Two days later armed with a “FIT” medical test result, I started my first assignment as a Thrid officer conquering the high seas.

The Common VIP

Posted: March 29, 2015 in Random Rumblings

The winding road of the Ghats at 1 am in the night accompanied with the near zero traffic condition and the chill outside on a dark winter night of January has got all the elements to be the opening scene of a Hitchcock thriller. But was I thrilled…? Not at all…. Was I tensed? Yes a little bit. But more than anything else, I was restless … The last 12 hours has been the most anxious hours in a long time.

If you put me and Harry together in a similar situation on any other day, then by now we would have downed some Captain Morgan, been investigating on the lost chicken tikka shreds stuck between the gaps of our molars and humming some 90’s classic. But today was no other day. We sat quietly in the back seat of the rented Toyota as it raced towards Igatpuri cutting through the winter haze.

The morning flight had ferried me from Delhi to Mumbai in a little less than 2 hours. I loved flying only till the time I took my maiden flight. After that my disliking for flying became directly proportional to the number of times I had to fly in a year. From 4 flights per annum back in the late nineties, I was almost doing the same number in a month since the last five years. Road trips were much better, but sadly my country was not the size of Vatican.

Though the Jet Airways flight had landed on time and I thought that I will make a quick dash to my Mumbai office before I fly out again to Manila next morning; but it was not to be. The luggage carousel swayed and moved callously like a seventy year old grand ma gyrating to “Beat It” without arousing any interest from the by standers. A good forty five minutes later I spotted my check in bag, it was just that one piece of thing that had held me back for so long. It felt a little heavy as I picked it up, or maybe I was just a little tired, getting up at five in the morning is not my idea of a perfect start to a busy day. I swiftly moved towards the exit and looked for my pick up. I spotted my pick up in no time, sat in the car sent by the hotel and made my way towards the hotel zig zag-ing and criss-crossing through the heavy Mumbai traffic.

It was already 11 in the morning and I decided to call Mr. Kadam, who headed the Mumbai office.

“Hello Sir, How is it going? Sunny here”

After exchanging the pleasantries, I informed him that I had just checked into the hotel and will see him for lunch by 12:30 in the afternoon, ensuring that I had adequate time for a nice shower.

Fresh from the shower, I looked at my towel clad physique in the mirror; sucked in my tummy a little bit just to remind me that all is not lost, it’s just that those muscles are preciously covered by a layer of beer induced fat as else they might get robbed.

The wall clock indicated that I still had the luxury of fifteen fashionable minutes to present my best self at office. I knew in my mind what I would don that day, all I had to do is to reach out for my suitcase and get it out. I hate locking my bags, but Indian airports are not the places where you want to try your luck with an unlocked suitcase; the Chinese lock opened with a slight twist of the wrist. What followed after that is epic.

I stood still for a couple of minutes, dug into the bag, trying fervently to trace my black trouser and sky blue shirt but it wasn’t there.

If you are thinking that I forgot to pack it then you are so wrong. I picked up the wrong bag at the airport, a one that exactly looked the same as my grey on black soft top suitcase, was of the same dimension, almost the same weight, a tad heavy may be and was manufactured by the same brand V.I.P. I had landed myself in fresh soup, thanks to the “oh so common” V.I.P.

That very moment, I realized that why some people go for designer suitcases even though they are tossed and dragged by baggage handling staffs at airport with total disregard for whether they are Chanel or China made suitcases. The only reason I considered designer suitcases are a waste; especially if they are to be treated like this. But the need to stand out appeared to be oh so important now.

What chances do you have in a country of billions that two people in two hundred odd passengers travelling on the same flight had the exact same suitcase locked by similar looking Chinese locks and opens with similar keys getting mixed up? Yes right…. I must have been God’s chosen clown for the day.

This wasn’t the first time that I had lost baggage, I had lost them in various shapes and sizes and in different parts of the globe, only to be returned a day or two after by the airlines with an apologetic latter and some travel souvenirs. But this was first, I picked someone else’s suitcase and was pretty sure that he / she has picked mine. My designer shades were replaced with Haldiram moong daal, the Satya Paul ties traded place with “lungis” and slim fit corporate clothes had happily transformed into over sized drapes.

I promptly called up my admin lady and asked her if she can get the travel desk to trace out the whereabouts of my missing suitcase. I was already getting late for office and couldn’t afford to probe further into the missing mystery. I hurried to office.

My mind was not into anything that Mr. Kadam was discussing over lunch. It had a free run between pillars to posts. On one hand I could visualize my dad laughing at me and making a mockery of me over a difference that we had for a long long time regarding travelling. My dad used to have his name written all over his suitcase at every possible angle and at every nook and corner where human eyes could reach. This to me was a faux pas of the first type and I had clearly mentioned that I would happily lose all my belonging rather than have something so tacky tagging along with me. Cut to this date, I am ready to swallow my own word and my fertile mind had an easy time depicting my dad having the last laugh, no wonder he was laughing the most. On the other hand my mind was busy making a step by step POA a.k.a Plan of Action.

After the lunch, there was the customary brain storming. The whole deal was about setting up a new training center in Manila and making use of the large English speaking talent pool to shore up our foreign man power supply business. Given my previous successful foray into Manila over some other small businesses and a little grasp over Tagalog than an average Indian, I was the chosen one. But my mind wasn’t into any of these. I was busy reconstructing the scene of the crime, estimating the loss, having fleeting glimpse of all the shops that I went to buy each item from, and if nothing else how to make best use of Haldiram moong dal, whether to have it with Rum or Vodka or just beer.

I asked Mr. Kadam if I could postpone my Manila flight by a day. As I narrated him the incident I could gauge that he was at his wits end to decide if he would empathize on my condition or just laugh out loud.

“Hopefully all your documents are with you?” is what came out next from Mr. Kadam as I finished my narration. I knew where this was going. No matter what I would be shipped off to Manila by tomorrow’s evening flight with an assurance that the admin department will try and locate the missing bag.

I excused myself at 4 in the afternoon and headed straight to my hotel with a definite plan of action. First I called Jet Airways to notify the incident. I inquired if they have found any unclaimed baggage from the morning Delhi-Mumbai flight. A negative response from the lady on the other side of the phone confirmed my belief about the baggage swap. So it did mean that my bag was with another co-passenger. Now it could be an issue of multiple swaps. Imagine if there were three similar looking suitcases instead of two and all got swapped. Fearing this I asked the lady if any other passenger have made any inquiry regarding any missing luggage. After a good minute and a half she confirmed that no one has called the customer service for any missing baggage the whole day. I thought to myself “Great – someone must have happily traded his lungi for my neck ties.”

“Mam – I have the baggage tag with me, if I can read out the details to you can you please give a positive id on the passenger.”

She was hesitant at first, as divulging customer information needs additional coaxing. I was good at it. I have been selling combs to bald man and here I had a genuine reason. Ten minutes later and a promise to take her out on a dinner to Taj Lands End got me the necessary info. Though she insisted that it was best that I return the suitcase to Jet Airways.

In my head I thought “Do I sound crazy enough to give up the only bargaining chip that I have got?” but said “Thank you and see you soon” as I hung up.

My partner in crime was called Mr. N Chopra. There was no further details associated with him apart from a 12 digit telephone number. I thought that either Mr. Chopra or the customer service lady had made some error in the phone number. I zeroed on the last two zeroes of the phone number and happily chucked it off.

It was ringing, I took a gulp from the Heineken can that I had just opened and downed it with a hope that everything will be cool from here on.

“Hello” – said a lady in husky tone. In my dreams it might have been Rani Mukherjee who was at the other end of the cell phone, but dream seemed to be a luxury that I couldn’t afford at this moment.

“May I speak to Mr Chopra?” I asked with an expectation as high as the Mt Everest.

“Wrong number…. Ta ta ta ta…” It didn’t took the lady long to gate crash my party.

A few more permutation and combination with the phone number did not give me any encouraging results.

A few moment later Google revealed that the phone number was an UAE number which started with 971. I blamed my bias to imagine any phone number starting with 9 will belong to India that led to some waste of precious time.

Like the open can of Heineken my spirit also ran out of fizz. I started imagining this middle aged beetle nut crunching Chopra who happily flew to Dubai from Mumbai with my VIP without realizing that he is taking away a part of my life which I had collected in bits and pieces from various parts of the globe.

I quickly dialed the original number only to be prompted in English and in Arabic that the cell phone is switched off, as if, it wasn’t enough to torture my soul in one language that the telecom company had to reiterate themselves.

But there was something that was egging me on not to give up till I have turned the world upside down.

I turned on to the social networking. Facebook was the first stop. It is this place that I learnt how insignificant can any N Chopra be. Hordes of Chopras in all shapes, sizes and ages lined up against each other in my search list. A good hour later a having attempted N Chopra Dubai, N Chopra Abu Dhabi, N Chopra New Delhi. I gave up my hopes of finding this Chopra from the hay stack that Facebook had thrown at my laptop screen.

All this while I had been avoiding doing one thing, which is strip searching my pseudo own suitcase. I honestly didn’t have the intention to rummage through someone else’s belonging apart from what was evident readily to the naked eye. But push comes to shove and I will do it.

The clock tick-tock-ed faster than it does on a normal day when I sit inside my office. My cell phone rang flashing an unknown number. The cell phone vibration generated some hope in my sunken heart. Is this Mr. Chopra? At least I had the correct mobile number registered with Jet Airways ….

“Dog where are you?” this was none other than Harry.

Harry has been my friend for last ten years and the legend of this guy is no less than Harry Houdini, at least in our circle. Every time I was in Mumbai, it was Harry’s duty to see that we ended up in some sort of trouble or the other.

Last time I had failed a random alcohol test while driving Harry’s car while returning from a party. Of course I was arrested and summoned to the court the next day. Harry came in with a lawyer who had apparently things under control and told me just to plead guilty. Since I had no past criminal record, the judge would just warn me and let me go for my first mistake. Guess what? I was sentenced to RI. All thanks to Harry. Later on the same Harry got me out. How he did it, is another story in itself.

I gave a second narration to Harry and like true friends he had no space for sympathy or grief for me or my situation. He laughed uncontrollably over the phone, and funnily enough I didn’t feel bad. Actually in such a situation when your friends do what Harry did to me over the phone you don’t feel bad; you feel “all izz well” even though momentarily. Harry was done for the day and was heading straight to my hotel. I knew I had half an hour, the exact amount of time that Mumbai traffic can withhold Harry from coaxing me to forget my lost suitcase and party hard.

I increased my speed of rummaging. Alas, from the folds of the inner side pocket of the suitcase came out some papers.

A few scribbled numbers, which were probably phone numbers, but strangely no names were listed alongside the numbers. Another folded A4 size paper came into my hand. This was jackpot. I was excited. It was the photocopy of the Mr Chopra’s passport pages. The first and the last page. That was the first time that I could see the black and white image of my chief tormentor. An average Delhite with a penchant for thick furry moustache. The last page had his permanent address which was more likely why he was in Mumbai rather than hoping onto a connecting flight. He was a resident of Nagpur. It would have been much easier had he been from Mumbai, but the slim hope that he was probably in Nagpur and not in Dubai was good enough for me to overlook that fact.

However after the initial euphoria died, I realised that though the passport was handy, yet it did not serve any real purpose. There was no conclusive evidence that my bag is in Nagpur. A trip to Nagpur and back meant that I would be very tight on my next day’s flight to Manila. I made the only other choice that was available to me, dialled all the numbers that was listed there.

“Hello this Sunny, do you know anyone by the name of Mr. N Chopra?” – This was my opening line to all those numbers that I called. I didn’t have a better one. How can I? I didn’t know whom I was calling, what their relationship with this “N Chopra” is and whether they will help me or not.

A demi god by the name of Srikanth Patel answered when I dialled the second number on the list.

“Yes I know Mr N Chopra, are you referring to the one who works for Jaico in Dubai?” – I didn’t know what to say apart from fervent “Yes Yes”; Jaico or Jaya siya ram didn’t matter at that time.

I went on to narrate how our suitcase got interchanged. Luckily Mr Patel was aware that Mr. Chopra was supposed to return to Nagpur within one of these days. So it didn’t need much of convincing to make him part with Mr Chopra’s contact details in India.

I thanked him a zillion times before I hung up.

This was the moment. I took a deep breath, looked at my dialling pad, remembered all the 3000 million Hindu deities and dialled those magical numbers.

20 rings and no one picks up. Holy lord… now what. But I decided to keep dialling the number till I hear my boarding announcement for my flight the next day.

On the third attempt – “Hello” – answered a drowsy heavy voice from the other side of the phone.

“Is it Mr. N Chopra?” I asked anxiously

“Yes” – replied an heavily sedated voice.

I realised that some men have all the luck to sleep through a tsunami. No doubt that Mr. Chopra was sleeping peacefully till I disturbed his evening siesta.

“Were you travelling by the Jet airways Delhi to Mumbai flight this morning” I shot back next

“Yes, but who are you?” – Mr Chopra seemed to have come out of his trance now

“Well… I am Suuny and I have your bag, like the way you have mine” – I broke the news as fast as I could.

“Ah!!! Something must be wrong I have my bag, you must have mistaken” –Mr Chopra’s reply struck like bullet to me.

The next few minutes went persuading that Mr Chopra’s Haldiram’s moong dal and purple lungi is in my custody and what he thinks is his is actually mine.

The man hadn’t even bothered to open and check the bag, he was so confident that what he got from airport was his that he peacefully went to sleep, only to wake up by my incessant phone calls. Mr. Chopra promised to call me back after verifying the truth of what I was saying.

Harry’s door bell and Mr. Chopra’s call back coincided. One was trouble the other was hope. I opened the door while picking up the call. Harry barged in….. so did Mr. Chopra from the other side of the phone

“Sunny…. Chopra here… Yes man this bag is not mine” – The sleepy man had made way for the edgy man now.

The next five minutes went into bargaining how much we should travel to meet midway between Mumbai and Nagpur. I didn’t have too much bargaining power given that I was flying the next day. So we settled to meet at Igatpuri by Baba’s Dhaba at 2 in the night. Harry didn’t want to drive for such a long distance and I had promised myself never to drive in Mumbai. A few phone calls by Harry and we had a Toyota sedan waiting to pick us up from the hotel lobby.

We reached Baba’s Dhaba exactly at 2. There was no other people around apart from another Tata Indigo car. I had no doubt that it would be Mr Chopra but just to reassure myself and save me from another sticky situation, I dialled his mobile number.

“Yes Sunny… Chopra here… is that you in the car?” – said Mr Chopra in an excited tone

I reciprocated

Soon we got off the car, took out the suitcase from the boot and marched towards each other with a wide grin that shone bright even through the pitch dark night. We shook our hands, got into an impromptu hug and the suitcases changed hand . I told him while he was sleeping in absolute bliss I had been running like a mad dog. We all had a good laugh for ten minutes before we exchanged business cards and returned to our car.

If I took a selfie I am sure my face would have the look of Tenzing Norgay after he conquered the Everest. But the chauffeur of the rented car thought otherwise. He gave us a look as if we had just concluded some shady deal under the cover of the night. I can’t really blame him, his exposure to Bollywood of the 80’s must have led him to believe that we must be some smugglers who just exchanged cash for cannabis in the middle of nowhere in similar looking bags to escape from getting caught by the authorities.

Sitting in the car, Harry and I had a good laugh at the expense of the chauffeur’s dilemma. For the remaining part of the night we did nothing to break his notion about us, we just let his mind play havoc and relished the sadistic pleasure.

All wells that ends well. But no ending is ever complete without some Chicken Tandoori and dark rum on a wintry night by a roadside Dhaba. On our way back to Mumbai we stopped by Shera’s Dhaba to give a wholesome ending to what has been a truly roller coaster day. Life felt good with a sip of the black liquid and succulent red chicken.

Tips to avoid a repeat of the above –

  1. Unless you can afford a designer suitcase, have your name and contact details written in the baggage tag that comes along with all suitcases. You don’t have to overdo it like my dad, but you can be subtle.
    I still take a calculated risk when I slip in my details on the top sleeve of the suitcase which is never locked, hoping that if there was a repeat incidence then I can be contacted easily.
  2. While buying check in bags try to buy colours which are not so common. The black and red are done to death. You better get creative.
  3. Check your baggage tag before you leave the airport. Some airport like in Manila and Kota Kinabalu has airport staffs ensuring that you have taken the right bags, but most other airport believe that you are smarter than your deeds.
  4. Get a decent set of combination locks for your travel.

Naughty Nineties

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Random Rumblings

10 favourites that will always remain etched in the mind and will define our growing up years.

  1. This game enjoyed the status of national game in the precincts of school boundary, sad that electronic gaming took over our creativity.


  1. We may have little respect for Chinese imports these days, but back then this used to be our prized possession. It was great graduating from pencil to pen with a Wing Sung ink pen .


  1. The last year of our school saw us spending more time on slam books rather than projects. Facebook just killed the charm of filling a slam book for the girl we had a crush on.


  1. Pepsi had a whole different meaning in the nineties.


  1. Cricket was not limited to the field only. Book cricket used to equally popular during boring classes and the best part is it transcended all gender bender.

book cricket

  1. Sundays were never complete without this guy and his team. We had the power in us to bring down the government should there be any interruption in power supply while we enjoyed Mowgli.


  1. Whose ever parents had this gadget, enjoyed a cult status in school history.


  1. If you never succumbed to this weird hair style then there’s a fair chance that you don’t belong to the nineties. The only edible product which was a style statement those days – Mushroom.


  1. Astrology was passé, compatibility was secondary; this was the real test without which no relationship ever started.


  1. Golden days are never complete without a swig of Gold spot.


Mind your Mind

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Random Rumblings

Robert collapsed on the mammoth couch in the living area. The couch was bought about a year back from one of the finest lifestyle furniture showrooms in the town at an exorbitant price, a sum of money that was good enough to be the annual package of some of Robert’s subordinates at work.

It was his most loved possession in the house and why won’t that be? Every evening from Monday to Friday it has supported Robert’s portly frame of 89 kgs without making any lasting impression on the fine Italian leather. It has sang silent lullaby to Robert and comforted him to forty winks whenever Bridget and Michael were away to visit Bridget’s ailing mother and did not return for the night.

Bridget came out of the kitchen with a mug of piping hot coffee for Robert, the only thing that Robert was addicted to. This has been the ritual at the Gomes household for the last several years, once Robert is back from his office he needs his daily dose of caffeine before he can sit up and think straight.

Bridget looked beautiful in her short house clothes. The sight of her lissom legs accentuated Bridget’s sexuality, at 36 Bridget was definitely the most stunning women that Robert knew. As much as Robert would like to stare at those awesomely beautiful legs all day long yet he quickly shifted his gaze, albeit a little guilty. There is absolutely no guilt associated with staring at your own wife and raking up your carnal desires, yet Robert was guilty.

Ever since Robert took up his new role about a couple of years back as the Regional Head of his company his marital life has been pretty much devoid of any conjugal activity. Robert in his heart knew that in the last two years the number of times that they have made love has not touched double digits unlike Robert’s property count. He felt guilty to the fact that though Bridget was sexy and hot and more libidinous than what Robert has lately been, yet they never made love. Robert was always too stressed or too tired to respond to Bridget’s basic desires. Bridget had more or less come to terms with the fact that for the perks and benefits she enjoyed being a Regional Head’s wife she had to give up on something. So making love is what she gave up on, of course that had nothing to do with being in love. Bridget was still very much in love with Robert, the only man she loved over two decades never mind his ever growing beer belly and slackness in the sack, yet Robert was her man.

Michael came running to Robert, almost spilling the coffee from Robert’s hand. Michael was Robert and Bridget’s six year old son who was the darling of the Gomes family. Michael’s energy was invigorating. He was the real life version of Tom and Jerry where he singlehandedly enacted both the roles with ease and without getting a bit tired. Their three storey house had Michael’s presence in every floor every half a minute. Robert could hardly keep up with Michael’s energy.

“Dad can we go out and play football in our backyard?” Michael’s requested as soon as he perched himself onto his father’s lap.

“Honey I am too tired today, why don’t we sit and watch cartoon instead…” pat came Robert’s patent reply.

Bridget basked in the fact that Michael like most other kids of this generation was not a couch potato or a smart phone addict, instead he liked outdoor activities. Bridget thoroughly encouraged this and any suggestion by Robert to the contrary saw her furious.

“Robert… why don’t you guys go to the park and have a little father-son bonding over football or frisbee?” Bridget suggested with an assertive tone.

“Bridget… I am too stressed, the year ending sales report is a mammoth task and I need to get it off my desk asap; this would be one of the key indicators for my next promotion” – Robert was eyeing another promotion which would upgrade his role to Country Head. Apart from Robert there were three other Regional Heads who were gunning for the same role and Robert did not fancy losing out on this one.

Robert’s excuse didn’t go down well with Bridget.

Bridget could still overlook the fact that Robert wasn’t fulfilling all the needs of a husband but she found it unbearable to see that he was failing as a father too specially when the kid was so fond of Robert.

“Michael do you want to go with Mama to the park?” asked Bridget

Michael looked at his father with those innocent eyes and with a glint of hope that his father would come along but when there was no favourable response from Robert, Michael gently nodded his head to Mama’s call as if to say “At least something is better….”

Bridget quickly changed into her running gear and dressed up Michael accordingly and left the house in a jiffy. On her way out Bridget told – “I think I will head straight to mom’s place after Michael is done playing in the park, don’t wait for me; have your dinner…..”

The door slammed before Robert could even get up from the couch or react.

Robert was no stranger to Bridget’s ways. As a matter of principle Bridget always tried not to fight with Robert in front of Michael. No matter how irritated she feels with Robert’s action or the lack of it, Bridget would never raise her voice or quarrel incessantly when Michael is around.

Bridget chose to lodge her protest with Robert in her own distinctive way.

By letting Robert know that she is headed to her mother’s place, Bridget ensured that not only did she made her destination known but also confirmed that Robert knew that something has ticked her off and he needs to get his act correct before further damage takes place. This method always worked. It gave Robert the space to realise the consequences of his action and the time to salvage the situation.

Sitting alone on the couch Robert initially felt irritated about what he thought was Bridget’s naivety. But slowly he started to ponder on the fact that why it becomes so difficult for him to participate in the smaller joys of life. Why is he tied up with his work so much that he is hardly able to manage anything else in his life? He has been voted as the best manager in several corporate gatherings, but does he really deserve those awards. Robert started doubting himself.

Robert reflected on his son Michael; the kid is a shade less than one sixth of his age, gets up early morning runs to his school, comes back home at noon and from then onwards he just a ball of energy bouncing around the house and in the neighbourhood. On top of it no matter how late Robert comes back home, Michael would still have the energy and stamina to run into Robert’s arm.

On the contrary Robert was physically a million times stronger than Michael, reached office at 9 each morning, sat in his air conditioned cabin, did lunch with business associates in some swanky restaurant where the waiters pull out the chair for you; next he attends video conferencing in the state of the art meeting room and then comes back home in his chauffeur driven Merc.

If physical activity of Michael and Robert was measured then Robert was pretty sure that he would lose hands down to his progeny, yet Robert was the one who was more tired and exhausted at the end of the day.

Robert realised his exhaustion had no bearing to his physical strength or physical activity, everything was controlled by the mind.

Human brain is the seat of power, it is the command centre which determines our ability to perform. What Robert realised was that; Michael was mentally more focussed than him. Neither Michael suffered from the ghost of the past or the anxiety of future.

As an adult Robert was exactly the opposite. He realised that like most others in his clan he suffered from an oscillating mind. An oscillating mind has the tendency to shift between the past and the future continuously but never rests focussed on its present state.

Before every important board meeting Robert remembered being worked up. His mind would oscillate between what had happened in the last board meeting and what may happen after this board meeting. He would recollect several instances where board members of prominence would be unhappy and happy over the proceedings and tried to figure out how best to present himself in the upcoming one. But his thoughts would not stop there, next Robert would post mortem several hypothetical outcomes of the board meetings and start analysing them, listing out their advantages and disadvantages with respect to his present position in the company. The result of this oscillating mind meant Robert spent more time and energy in doing this time travel rather than preparing his presentation for the meeting. What could have been done in two hours dragged on for eight making Robert tired and exhausted for his own fault.

Robert vividly recollects how he lost his hardness midway when he last made love to his beautiful wife Bridget; it must have been a couple of months back. Even then his mind oscillated between his promotions talks that he had with his company’s global CEO Mr. David Ross and Bridget’s idea of having a second child.

It didn’t take long for Robert to realise that instead of setting his mind on his present situation he had left it wandering in unknown direction. Neither did he enjoyed the pleasure to which he had full right, nor was he able to reach a definite conclusion about his future.

The anxiety about the future and worries about the past did not let Robert focus on his present and as a result his mind felt fatigued, productivity dwindled and peace lost.

The adult mind and its failure to focus is the biggest hindrance to mankind’s battle against the feeling of tiredness and fatigue even without adequate physical workload. Robert’s wandering mind was the reason why he invariably felt tired at the end of a working day.

If you impersonate the mind and imagine it to be a Rugby player who runs from one end of the field to another i.e between the past and the present then you will realise how easy it is to feel drained and tired after eighty minutes of action. Come to think of it, Robert only worked eight hours a day which is exactly one third of a day yet he waited for the weekends like the sub Saharan landscape waits for the rain. To enjoy life, Robert like most others wanted to run away from what he was doing and needed a vacation or a staycation or a weekend gateway.

We are supposed to find pleasure in the job that we do, but if we have to be an escapist to dig into our pleasure treasure then it’s both sad and alarming.

Robert realised that his salvation lied in developing an intelligent mind which has the ability to focus more on the present rather than wander between the past and the future. He noted in his mind that he will cut down on the W’s of life…. Worrying about the past…. What can happen in the future? Wandering of mind… instead he will focus on How to focus on the work at hand / present and be Happy, Healthy and Humble.

At the stroke of midnight a new Robert had dawned, someone who had the realisation that a focussed mind is far more intelligent and peaceful than an oscillating one.

It was not easy for Robert to stop his ever oscillating mind and bring about a calm state. Robert included Meditation in his daily regime; like how we train our muscles, meditation trains the brain to remain focussed.

To prevent distractions from hijacking Robert’s focus, he used the ABC method as the brain’s brake pedal. He became Aware of his options: whether to stop what he was doing and address the distraction, or to let it go. Breathing deeply while considering the available options and then Choosing thoughtfully: Stop? Or Go?

Robert has recently introduced a “no multitasking” meeting for his team mates, whereby they are not allowed to carry their smart phones in the meeting room. Not only has it improved the quality of ideas generated from such meetings but it also shortened the meeting duration to less than an hour from the normal two hour marathons.

He also introduced the phrase “Happy Monday” to counteract TGIF, which he largely viewed as an escapist’s phrase of a lesser evolved mind.

Bridget and Michael loved the evolved Robert. Michael goes out regularly with Robert for a game of football each evening. Bridget is happy and satisfied to say the least.

At work Robert is just waiting to take over the role of Country head, Robert’s team had performed exceptionally in the last quarter and he was the only regional head to have got a thumbs up from all his juniors.

Robert is now an active proponent of “Mind your Mind” and has been helping people to achieve greater peace, productivity and vitality in life through his tried and tested methods.


Train your Brain tips – Rotate your right foot in a clockwise fashion. Now draw the number “6” in air with your right hand. Did you just change the direction in which your foot was rotating….?