The Meeting

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It’s going to be a tough day today. I can feel it. I know what you are thinking, ‘Since when did men start doing this intuition thing?’ Not my style either, but today I feel it in my gut. I mean how much fun can it be to meet up with your fiancee’s US-returned childhood pal? The one who thinks she knows my girl waaay better than I ever will and loves her waaay more than I ever will do? The ‘I got married before you so I know all about men and I’ll check out your fiancee for you’ friend.

It might have been fine if it were just her. But there’s also the husband to contend with. The ‘Jiju’. Ugh! I hate the sound of that word just as much as I hate it when Aditi goes on and on about him. But then I focus on that tiny endearing lisp she has and I can put up with almost anything. I do love this girl. More than I ever loved any girl, more than I thought I could ever love any girl. Aditi. I love her for her passion, for her strong sense of right and wrong, for the way she stands up for what she believes in, the way she talks – with her entire body – her eyes dance and her hands move as fast as she talks. Oh she can sweep a thousand people along simply on the wave of her enthusiasm. Within the space of a few months she had taken over my first love, Golf.

But I digress.

The thing is I need to get it right today because these guys are important to her. I dressed with care picking out a blue check shirt and my favourite tan jeans.

I arrived well before time but there she was, already. Aditi waved at me like seeing me across the road was the happiest thing that had happened to her. In that instance I forgot my nerves, my heart gave a joyous leap and I waved back at her. Sometimes I wondered at this miracle – the miracle that made her love me back just as much as I loved her.

Behind her stood Kirti and the ‘Jiju’ – the two spokes in the wheel of my perfect love story. I crossed over and as she made the introductions I sensed I was being sized up. I sensed a tinge of approval from Kirti but the ‘Jiju’ looked like a tough nut to crack. We must be about the same age, I mused. But he had a huge Rajput moustache that made him look some ten years older. We shook hands and walked into the restaurant.

In that instance I began to empathise with all those girls who had ever had to walk into a room with a tray laden with tea and samosas when the groom’s family came for the bride viewing.

We settled down and Kirti asked me about my parents and work and the wedding date. We seemed to be getting along pretty fine, better than I expected. I would have relaxed but for the Jiju who simply stared on. He was beginning to freak me out when he said, So what’s your handicap? You do play golf, right?

Man oh man! A fellow golfer! Who would have thought! And just like that the ice was broken.

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Written for the prompt ‘Of Ice and Men’ for Day 3 of the second edition of the
fortnight-long Bar-a-thon.

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Lemon Pie Cafe

Life of Pie1

He stood in front of the cafe enjoying the crisp winter morning. The air felt cool on his hot face.

As a young couple walked in, the glass doors swung open and he caught sight of his reflection. He couldn’t help giving a self-satisfied smile. I look good, thought he, glancing appreciatively at his golden mop, its bright yellow contrasting spectacularly with his tanned chocolate body. He puffed out his chest a trifle more, settled the pleats of his paper cup just so and put on his best ever look. He was, after all, the life and soul of the cafe.

He sniffed the air – it smelt good too – fresh and lemony with a dash of cinnamon. Life’s good, thought he. It was going to be a good day.

Not everyone, however, was having a good day. He glanced back at the young couple as they spoke in angry whispers barely managing to keep their voices down; not that there was anyone else in the tiny restaurant, apart from the plump affable Mrs Brown who had discreetly retreated to the back of the bakery.

Mrs Brown glanced at the couple, then looked back at him. And then before he knew it, he was at the table and Mrs Brown was saying, “This is for both of you, with best compliments from Lemon Pie Cafe.”

The couple looked from him to Mrs Brown their frowns slowly melting.

‘You remember,’ whispered the girl, ‘the time you’d stuck a candle in one of these for my birthday,’
‘and,’ he added softly, ‘we’d argued over who should get the larger piece’,
‘and then,’ she went on, her eyes tearing up, ‘I’d almost eaten up the ring you’d put in there.’
‘And I was grateful you found it in time because it had cost my whole damn salary,’ he completed with a laugh in his voice his hand closing on hers.

At this point Mrs Brown thought it best to return to her station at the back of the bakery while he just gave a proprietary smile. That’s another sweet ending to a love-story.

This, this is what makes the life of a pie worthwhile, thought he.

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Written for the prompt ‘Life of Pie’ for the second edition of the fortnight-long Bar-a-thon.

barathon

The Bar-A-Thon begins

I haven’t dilly dallied ever about anything as I have about this fortnight-long Blog Marathon. – the Bar-a-thon. I could do a whole blogpost on the ideas that I’ve thought and rejected because they just didn’t seem to come together. Finally, I’m plunging right in with no plan at all, taking a day at a time hoping to have a short fiction piece up here on the blog every alternate day. Very daring of me, given that I have rarely been this busy but after missing out on the A to Z I didn’t want to miss the excitement yet again.

So here it is – my first post for the Bar-a-thon.

Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover

Twilightbook

Sana put down her book and yawned. She could barely keep her eyes open. ‘Darn it’, thought she, ‘had I not missed that connecting flight I would have been home, tucked cosily into my own warm bed’. Instead, here she was, trying to make herself comfortable on a cold steel airport chair waiting for her early morning flight.

Sana normally, loved airports. She was a people-watcher, which is why she never minded the wait. But not today. And definitely not at 4 am in the morning, she mumbled to herself.

With a sigh she picked up her well-thumbed copy of War and Peace but then a huge yawn split her face and she put it down again. It was no good. She couldn’t read. As she turned to put it away in her rucksack her eyes fell on the man.

He sat in the corner seat lost in a book. Or so it seemed. And …. he was wearing glares. Glares! For goodness sake! Who wear glares inside airports, thought Sana. Other than rock-stars or film-stars. But despite his stubbled, manly good looks, he was neither. For one, he was bereft of the entourage that’s the norm with every famous personality and two because he slouched in the most unbecoming manner. No self-respecting celebrity would be caught dead sitting like that. He sat there – his shoulders slumped, his back bent, lost in the book.

And then that red apple leapt at her from the cover. Sana sat up bolt upright. She looked, and she looked again, she stared till she was very sure. Yeah it was Twilight! Which man in his right mind read Twilight? Which person in his right mind read Twilight? thought she, rather derisively. Unless they were giggly headed teenage girls. And Mr Glares here definitely wasn’t one. To Sana’s mind the book sat rather incongruously in his hands.

One really gets to the most unusual sights at airports, thought she.

From behind his glares Samir stared on unseeingly, fingering the tiny heart doodled at the corner of book – the last one his 15 year old sister would ever read.

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Written for the prompt ‘The Fault in our Stares’

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Glitter and Gloss – A Review

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

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It’s been a crazy month and my reading as well as writing have had to take a back seat. However I did manage to finish this sweet little book Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra. If you saw my Teaser Tuesday you’ll have a got a little bit of an idea about it.

But first, as always, here’s the story.

The book is about Misha (named after Misha the bear mascot at Moscow Olympics) a 20 something make-up artist. At a fashion event she rescues a hapless but very handsome man from the clutches of a rather predatory model and that’s the start of the Akshay-Misha love story. Enter Didi, Akshay’s elder sister, and it hits a roadblock. But then what’s a love story without a few roadblocks and some misunderstandings?

The review

I loved Misha right from the opening pages. That’s a great place to begin to like a book. She has an independent streak that I loved. Yet she’s a little scatterbrained and suffers from an acute foot-in-the-mouth syndrome and that made her even more loveable. Finally, her penchant for being a knight in shining armour won me over completely. Akshay is delectable – chiselled cheekbones, big muscles, flat abs and ton-loads of money. There are host of other delightful characters in the book too – Sammy – Misha’s house-husband flatmate, her friend Poulomi (This is how Misha describes her: “She may sound KKK—Khoonkhar, Khatarnak, Khadoos—but Poulomi does have my best interests at heart”) and her bohemian mother.

The writing is a mix of Hindi and English with the most witty one-liners thrown in. They jump at you suddenly, changing the mood, making you smile, even laugh out loud. Sample this:
“Our fingers touch and thousand volts of electricity course through me. The current of attraction is so strong, I half expect my hair to stand up in spikes.”
and another one after the first kiss:
My eyes fly open as I go from Sensuous Cinderella to Piddu Pumpkin.
At that final image the romance flies out of the window and one just ends up laughing. That was the most endearing thing about the writing. It reminded me a bit of Anuja Chauhan. However, this has a younger feel to it. Caution: If you’re a purist it might not quite work for you. In fact some bits stuck out uncomfortably for me too.

For instance ‘din din’ for dinner (pretty juvenile, I thought)
How much I heart Sam and Poul‘.  (Heart?)
‘It’s awesome and amaze’. (Do young people actually talk like this?)

However, I’m willing to forgive much for the laughs the book brought me. I just might be adopting some of the lingo myself like DDGGMM – that would be DullDepressedGlumGloomyMoroseMopey.

The combination of romance and humour never fails to charm me. And this one was just that.

My one real complaint would be that the story was overly simplistic as was the solution. It was way too predictable. I would have liked some more twists and turns, some more melodrama. Another fifty or hundred pages and I would have been happy.

Here’s a delightful quote from the book:

glitterandglossquote

My thoughts: If you’re looking for a simple, fast paced, uncomplicated love story that makes you laugh, this is your book.

A plain Jane #Teaser Tuesday 6

Over the last couple of days I’ve been busier and more stressed than anyone should rightfully be. My writing as well as reading have taken a far backseat. However one does need something to de-stress and that’s why I picked up Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra. I’m glad I did. I have only just begun and I’m already in love with the heroine, the hero is dishy enough and the humour has me laughing out loud – just the perfect recipe for a stress-buster.

I join in this week’s Teaser Tuesday, hosted by Should Be Reading with two lines for the book. I hope to have a review up as soon as time permits.

glitterandgloss

I wave a dismissive hand. ‘Oh, please, I’m so not in his league.
He’s a Greek God,’ I slur. ‘I’m a Plain Janaki, no, Plain Janani— what the eff is the Indian equivalent of Plain Jane again?’

Got any suggestions to help the lady in the quote?

 

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If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Finding your muse on #WorldPoetryDay

On #WorldPoetryDay here’s a tale of a friend in desperate search of a muse.

food poetry

Writing a poem is no child’s play
some struggle with it every single day.
I had a friend who was one such
The poetry bug had him truly in its clutch.

Each morning at his table he would determinedly sit
and slog over a rhyme with perseverance and grit.
He struggled with his craft, he took each advice
he tried every technique, every single poetic device.

Come afternoon he’d be quite disgruntled
Sitting in a sea of paper all crumpled.

The best way to do it, someone once told him
is to set your thoughts free and watch them growin’.
Sit back and observe as your poem comes alive
Why just one, you can write twenty-five!

He did just that but his thoughts ran away.
He found them with the pretty girl he met last Monday.
Make her your muse, counselled another friend,
But she gave him a cold shoulder and that was the end.

That’s not the end, said the friend super excited,
heartache will get your poetry love ignited.
Back at his desk, our friend rolled up his sleeve,
he wallowed in his sorrow, and let his heart grieve.

He sat down to write collecting each lovesick thought
but his stomach gave a rumble and his love he quite forgot.

He pondered his dilemma munching on a muffin
blissfully savouring its chocolate blueberry stuffing.
He lay back on his chair, he quietly shut his eyes
he dreamt of soft cakes, of doughnuts, of pies.

The glorious silken chocolate wove its dark magic
And he forgot everything till the very last lick.
Then the words came rushing, words of inspiration
That muffin seemed to have been divine intervention.

He wrote and he wrote as one in a trance
He had after all found his true romance.
He’s all famous now, he’s one of a kind
He’s the only poet with dessert on his mind.

And now he’s mobbed by every budding poet
They ask him and beg him, ‘let us in on your secret’.
Says he with shrug, there are no hidden clues
in the end it’s just about finding your muse.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons dead or alive is purely accidental.

What’s the deal with Walliams, Allen and the like?

Some of my favourite childhood buddies lived up among the dense branches of a tree that went Wisha Wisha Wisha. Silky, Moonface, the Saucepanman and Dame Washalot. Eager to have the kids befriend them too I picked up this book at the Landmark store.

Blyton copy

Once I brought it home, however, I realised it wasn’t an Enid Blyton at all. It was written by Elise Allen.

I felt cheated.

I have to add here that I looked up Elise Allen and she’s done some pretty good work – she’s the lady behind shows like the Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid (Strongly recommend the Dinosaur Train if you have a dino-loving kid) and many more works that the children have enjoyed. So why should she do an Enid Blyton take off and why oh why should the book be packaged like an original?

Then again I stumbled upon David Walliams. Not only are the covers of his books replicas of Roald Dahl’s, he also has the same illustrator, Quentin Blake. He is a self-confessed Dahl fan and his writing style is quite the same too. He has the same mean-adult-pitted-against-the-child formula and has perfected Dahl’s craziness to a tee.

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I have to admit I actually liked The Boy in the Dress (it beautifully challenged stereotypes and I recommend it for all 10-year-olds, specially boyish boys) but a lot of the others, Demon Dentist and Mr Stink for instance, are just too much like Dahl, minus his finesse, or so I thought. It might just be my bias speaking of course because each time I see his books my head screams ‘IMPERSONATOR’. The kids love him, though – the proof is in the fact that his books have made him into a gazillionire.

Sample this quote from one of his interviews:

“I had absolutely no hesitation in stealing this idea for my new children’s novel, Mr Stink, when introducing my characters. Nor was that the only thing I stole. I also stole Quentin Blake to illustrate my writing.”

He was nominated for the Dahl Funny Book Award and is hailed as the new Roald Dahl but the thing is why do we need a new one?

Then I chanced upon my niece reading a young adult fiction series by Kiera Cass – The Selection Series. Never one to be able to resist a book I picked it up only to find it was Hunger Games with a twist. A repressed majority, a strict caste system (like the districts in Hunger Games) and a bunch of girls drawn from the varied sections coming together at the King’s palace to vie for the Prince.

kiera

She loved it, though. She had the entire series on her bookshelf. And I’m not sure she’d like Hunger Games as much because this one pandered to her every adolescent girly instinct. Which just doesn’t seem fair to me. Not that it matters, since I am not exactly their target market.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Am I the only one stewing in annoyance? Is this set to be a trend that’s going to be loved and accepted just like remixed music or remade films?