Her and memories


A man – two decades older than the woman he’s lost his heart to – thinks about her often, and he remembers her now as he recuperates from an asthmatic attack in a hospital bed.

Andrea and Sree don’t live together, nor did they ever – but her memories stay in the safe of his thoughts, rarely dormant as he triggers them from time to time. The memories become her and he can deal with them.

A virgin, he never kissed a girl. Perhaps he didn’t want to, as life’s inadequacies numbed him to women. It never became a distraction so to speak, until Andrea came from seven seas away like a lively breeze, disarraying him. He was drawn to her without making it known, for their age was still an issue, his financial instability another.

She was a brunette with a natural tan, her walk carried a charm, and when she kicked in the air she made it clear she was a karate black belt. She spoke freely, her word matching intention – and though she found a friend in Sree, her eyes sought for the man of her dreams. She couldn’t guess she’d become an angel of somebody’s dreams.

Clear blue skies stretched to the hours of the evening. The streets were beginning to swell as dusk approached. He waited outside her apartment, which she didn’t know, and he liked it that way for he didn’t want to send a wrong signal, as their friendship was flourishing. He arrived there an hour before they were to meet, finding a corner at the bottom of the stairs to her apartment, which was on the first floor. He imagined how she’d climb the steps, one foot at a time, the smell of her fragrance trailing her. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, and sneezed, and checked his pockets for Asthalin. The inhaler was there.

She came down at 5 sharp.

“You just got here?”

“Yes, just now. How are you?”

They stood in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians; him lost in her. She pulled him aside and shouted, “Cafe Coffee Day?” over the cacophony of noises building in the street.

“Yes. Let me get an auto-rickshaw.”

Minutes later, they arrived at the cafe, ordered their drinks and sat opposite each other in a cozy corner by the window.

“Somebody’s proposed to me.”

A truck whooshed by, outside, scattering dust in the humid May of Delhi, that the window they sat by became a glass of fog hindering their view. Sree took a while to gather himself.

“Nice. Who’s this lucky guy?” His throat choked, and he sipped from his iced coffee swallowing the news down, as dust settled outside.

“A good looking man. Looks a lot like my ex-boyfriend, with chiseled jawline.”

“Is that enough? You should talk to him, you see, as intellect and demeanor should top her list when a pretty girl says yes to a proposal.”

“And physical attraction?”

“Temporary it is. What stays is not jawline.”

That night Sree’s heart beat faster. He rolled in bed as reality assaulted him. He clenched his fists, leaped off the bed, and raced to the bathroom. In the mirror he saw that his hair was grey and wispy, and his jawline blurred. He opened the tap and splashed water in his eyes, then pulled his cheeks in to see if he looked good as he stared back in the mirror. Stressed, he thought about intellect and demeanor, took a pill for hypertension and retired to bed.

Seasons passed by, and Andrea got busy, as she traveled back to the US to meet her family. But for Sree, memories of the time spent with her healed his aching heart, but the same memories made him long for her when she was back in his city. It troubled him if she was dating someone, but he chose not to know or worry, for he was glad he was loyal to her and memories.

Next week they were scheduled to meet again. It was raining.

The thick pouring of rough drops hurt him as he stood in the corner by the stairs hoping the rain might stop. He could have moved some feet away to be under a shade, but worried that if she walked down and didn’t see him she might climb back up to never return. He hoped, which exhilarated him, that she was also longing for him secretly. Water dripped from his clothes.

“By the time I reached here 5 minutes ago I was already wet. I forgot my umbrella, you see,” he told her.

“You want to go home and change?”

“Not at all. I’m fine. I’ll be. It’s only rain, you see.”

Later when they were at the cafe, though water stopped dripping, he was wet. And sipping her hot chocolate, she said, “He’s taking me to Agra. I’m so excited about Taj Mahal.”


Sree blew his nose out into his kerchief, and sneezed. The air-conditioner in the cafe chilled him and he sneezed again. He looked around and massaged his chest, then throat, and was glad that Andrea’s attention was fixed on a text she just received. When his breaths became shorter, he ran his hand in his pockets for Asthalin, which he covered with his kerchief before bringing it to his mouth to breathe the puff in. When Andrea looked back at him, he said, “Can both of us go to Taj Mahal?”

“You must be kidding.”

“No I’m not. I’m serious, you see,” he said, holding his breath.

He took another puff with apparent difficulty and grabbed his chest.

“Sree, you don’t seem okay. You have asthma? Shall I call an ambulance.”

“Yes please. It’s an attack,” he said, and shrunk in his chair.

Two days later in the hospital bed he asked the nurse if the girl who brought him there was around. “She never came back,” the nurse said.

“She must have gone to see Taj Mahal, you see. Hopefully alone.”

Spiritual dessert

A calming, bluish dusk at Santo Domingo, DR

Hasn’t it become a trend to label quiet places as serene, even if the ones labeling them are least peaceful as they fight issues within them and out. The moment we are out of a serene location which certainly pumped us up, the psychological upper hand vanishes under the enormous weight of life’s routine chaos.

It’s understood that all of us can’t be at serene venues all the time – at best once a year if we’re lucky. Hence we are served with “find serenity wherever you are” spiritual dessert.

But this dessert tastes bitter, the task is uphill, and the clock’s ticking. So either find reasons to bludgeon the issues and provoke reactions, or, find peace while issues bludgeon you. Playing a victim is weakness, and dumb, given life will come at you hard.

As time approached sunset, Vondel Park in Amsterdam became quieter


When Silence Replaces Sex

Attractive Man Breathing Outdoor

Prostitution is illegal in the US, except in some rural counties of Nevada state — but it thrives as though it’s legal – not publicly, but in the alleys of the online world.

Websites like Craigslist and Backpage do what brothels and infamous streets used to do or are still doing discreetly. 70% of the women you see on these websites in their skimpiness – in New York City for instance – may not be locals and may have exceeded their tourist stay. Since you can’t solicit in strip clubs, strippers too sign up with these sites. The ad is carefully drafted to avoid a direct mention of the offer of sex. But most would state how much they expect to be paid for the different services, using the word “donation” for the time spent with them. As long as the girl or the john is not from law enforcement, everything ends happily. But if either is from police, it has to be established that sex was offered and money exchanged hands to make an arrest.

The fear of getting caught always exists, but the carnal desires potentially overtake these fears. The fewer the arrests, the more the web profiles, and the more the discreet hours paid for as donation.

I find this big abandoned well a treacherous trap that nobody should fall into.

First — anything illegal can’t be legal no matter how conspicuous they are in their vibrant presence. There might be johns who frequent these women and are lucky to have not been caught so far, but there might be a first timer, too, who meets a voluptuous woman – a police officer in disguise. How tragical!

Second — a piece of advice for the johns and the women in particular that condoms, which if they use, can only guarantee 85% protection. Though latex rubber acts as a brilliant barrier against STDs including HIV, the 15% possibility that it might break or slip off could be catastrophic if either has STD.

Third — you’ll be encouraging trafficking by employing these women (and pimps) for your eleven minutes of pleasure — since behind the lure of the tempting bodies is a world filled with pain and suffering.

Now the question is, how does one stop the urge?

Well, if you’re single, get a girlfriend – and if you’re married (I am), stay faithful.  Is it easy? No. So what does one do?  I don’t know.

Become one with your soul, perhaps?

Somebody I know from a writing workshop and who’s single signed up with a dating website, which was after he spent a good amount of time and money on Craigslist and Backpage ads. He’d taken a pledge – after his brother ferociously insisted – that he won’t surf those websites for fear of detention or disease, and hoped he’d find someone special on the dating site.

After a week he informed that though there were good, attractive women, none he lost his sleep over responded to his gentle online overtures — and those who did wanted to know if he had fetishes. The more time he spent on the site the better it dawned that half of those women were only purified versions from the infamous websites. These girls promised fun and secrecy, but were essentially looking for Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached “sugar daddies” who could pamper and spoil them, and give them five-star treats. Dignifying prostitution, if you will.


The last I heard, he’d signed up with a Meditation school, and was happy to share that he was breathing well – both in and out. He wanted me to join, too.

Breathing skeletons


I met these bunch of neatly-dressed skeletons at a Halloween party for children, which my toddler son thoroughly enjoyed.

My first reaction looking at them was, though they technically missed a soul their presence merged well with the rest of us in the hall. Rather they set the mood for the occasion (unlike other Halloween skeletons one may not find expressive enough).

Their smile was consistently endearing, but their eyeballs continuously warned that they’d been long dead. Stare at the balls (eye), you’ll know.

We may laugh at them and flaunt our superior lives, but when you engage in a bit of analysis you may ask how different we are from them. Dead and insensitive we too are in flesh and blood, but we are certainly breathing. We are good shadows.

Freedom of Speech offends, Terrorism kills

Two terrorist brothers shot dead a dozen people at Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan 7, and on Jan 9 they were killed in a police raid. One more terrorist who held people hostage in a grocery was killed, while his female companion escaped.

Apparently, the fringe groups of any religion wear aggression on their sleeves. The radicalization of Islam and its effects have caused more casualties than by the fringe groups of other religions in the recent memory.

The radical Islam group feels they must preserve the sanctity of their religion, a wildly-interpreted version — as they see that the majority of their brothers and sisters who follow the same peaceful religion appear to be content in the struggles of their daily existence. Which shows the majority of Muslims just want to live a life.

More often than not, the members — suicide bombers/indoctrinated pawns — of the radical groups come from the community’s socioeconomic backwardness. The people who head these groups interpreted Islam to suit their twisted ideologies, giving them reasons to kill and harm. The men who went to the office of the magazine and killed a dozen are the pawns, dead now.

When you watch TV debates, and when there are two groups with opposite points of view, you’re confused as to which side you can be on. And you certainly see rigidity (and sometimes conviction) in both arguments. One would say that the freedom of expression gives you the right to do anything, and the other that if you hurt religious sentiments you’ll face consequences, as though murder is justified. Of the more than 7 billion people living on this planet and who follow different religions, the majority wouldn’t take either side, fortunately.

We don’t want deaths, and what the two brothers did was cowardice in the name of religion.

I get it when people talk about freedom of expression, and how the media should not surrender to radical groups. But I also know that of more than 7 billion people, 31.5% are Christians, 23.2% are Muslims, 13.8% are Hindus, 6.7% are Buddhists, followed by Sikhs, Jews and other religions — and that the moderates of any of these religions form the majority of the followers.

Now when a cartoon makes fun of Islam, the fringe group takes revenge. Extreme reaction, everyone agrees, resulting in deaths. Soon after the Paris attack we saw protests – and banners like ‘Not Afraid’ – suggesting that more cartoons will be drawn to tell the world we are not afraid of terrorism. Wonderful. The question is whether these cartoons will again ridicule a religion.


Yes, nobody should be scared of terrorists, and standing-together, speaking-up is a strong defense against terrorism. The moderate Muslims came out and condemned the dastardly act in Paris, stating terrorism has no religion. These moderates also condemned, rightly, when the cartoons were made, but they channelized their aggression, rightly, through political and other means. Which tells us one thing very clearly, that 23.2% of world’s population – Muslims – don’t want to see an image of their prophet, leave alone in nude. So do we really want these cartoons in the first place, and who’s laughing at them? Atheists? And those who have fun, are they really, heartily?

We understand satire and jokes. But is there a dearth of subjects for cartoonists, artists and freedom of speech “extremists” that they resort to religion. Are custodians of the freedom of speech suffering from a creative bankruptcy? Is it valid justification that since Christians, Hindus and others tolerate such artistic manifestations, Muslims should too?

I am a Hindu and have a lot of friends who are Muslims, Christians and Jews, and none in their heart of hearts wants to see freedom in the name of art exploited to target the sacred spaces of religion. The moderates would never carry AK-47s, which doesn’t mean they are not offended. Now we don’t know where to draw the line, and who’ll draw it for the artists. “Be creative, don’t offend” is perhaps the mantra.

There is a point of view that we need satire and jokes so our cultures can advance and we don’t stagnate as a society. Is showing a prophet in nude cultural advancement?

Billions of dollars are spent on wars. I wish the same billions are spent in bringing an end to the socioeconomic backwardness that vulnerable youths find themselves in and which becomes a breeding ground for religious indoctrination. But who will pour out these billions, when borders are being sealed, walls are being built, religious supremacy is being asserted, defense spending is rising, the rich-poor divide widening?

If the State makes the lives of these youths meaningful and productive – an uphill task – they may not walk the dangerous path of the ridiculous ideologies of some. And poking fun at religion for the sake of societal advancement may not be the best way of progress.

Time is ever new


Time is money — haven’t you heard this a hundred times — and you need money for survival.

Time is ever fresh for a determined start. So choose your field if you haven’t already, and give it your all. Focus, and try.

Now your commitment to your field may yield you money and a bit of experience, but in the race for survival you have to remind yourself that you are alive. Time is life, too, apparently.

Happy New 2015 to all.

Interminably magical


When we talk of descent, this picture of the Horseshoe Falls (or the Canadian Falls) stares back at us.

There’s mist, there’s mystery – as masses of water plunge over 167 ft drop to flow into Lake Ontario. The constant roar of the Falls – interminably magical – excites, scares and transcends us.

Been there, felt that? Share your experiences.

For more pictures, see a post I published earlier.

That leads to curiosity


I captured this image of the Spirit House – which has its share of intrigue, and in it myriad story possibilities – in Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Daniel Libeskind – the Freedom Tower architect – designed the Lee-Chin Crystal, also designing some of the chairs in the Spirit House.

The stainless steel chairs sit in polished rhythm with the crystalline surroundings – and from the house, one could see in the empty above an interwoven pattern of concrete that links exhibit spaces and elevators — speaking of conflicts and order in stories.

Keeping it real, and raw!


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