The phone call

Posted March 6, 2008 by Surya
Categories: Short stories


The sharp afternoon sunlight stung her eyes, reflecting off the tar covered roof of the building and made them water. Yet she couldn’t resist looking at the pigeons in the alcove above the terrace door. Two male ones trying to woo a female. One of them won and the other flew away after the long battle, then, one false move, and Swooosh! Away flew the female, leaving the ‘winner’ alone on the ledge.

She gripped her cell phone tighter in her hand and carefully made her way back towards the other door. She would now have to weave her way carefully back to her department, making it look like just another trip for work matters. One false move,she thought to herself. The building corridors felt cold and dark after the searing sunshine outside.Had it been a false move, or the perfect one? The one that won the heart and hand of the she-pigeon or the one that lost favor with her? The answers could wait for now. She would think later.
For now all she had to do was act busy and important. And go back to her seat before people started missing her presence.————–
“Coffee?”
She jerked back to reality at the sound of her colleague’s voice. “Sure!” she replied, picking up the cue.
“Where were you?” He whispered on the way out. “Boss was looking for you but I said you had gone to the legal department for the final agreement. OK?”
“Thanks! Arrey yaar, it was unavoidable, got a sudden call and had to go away.” Luckily the agreement is in place – all she needed to do was take a printout. Her colleague was amazing.
“Call? Didn’t see you around. Where were you? I thought you had left office, so covered for you. Bata to deti yaar. By the way, did you hear…”
Relieved, she let the conversation wander. But she knew he will not forget the ‘curious incident of the hush-hush phone call’ so soon. It would come up during dinner later. But for now, she would let things be.————
On the way back home she let her mind wander towards the conversation on the phone. To look for loopholes, mistakes. But somehow she found herself thinking about the roof. The searing heat of the sun coupled with the coolness of the November air. The Green trees in the vicinity which she had never noticed before. And the Huge, monstrous coolers and water heaters atop the roof – the pipes criss-crossing the way roof top – the pile of construction rubble in the corner. It was surprising how she had never gone there in her long tenure here. Would all this be there in Chennai? What would it be like over there? When will she have to move, if at all…

Wait. She was jumping the gun. It was important that the person on the other end of the line found her suitable too. What had she said? She could not remember details of the conversation. This was ridiculous! The conversation had lasted a little less than an hour, a long time. Yet she could not remember a single sentence. She remembered it spanned a lot of topics, including the move to Chennai. Would she be alright with it? Would she be able to adjust?

She would need to tell him (her colleague). Yet she was hesitant. He was a dear friend, but a colleague too. Infact, a colleague first and friend later. But another such call and he will not leave her alone – haunting her about her mysterious phone calls. Telling him was an important decision – after all it had major career implications for her. Not to mention location implications. How would he take it?

She flipped open her cell phone and dialed his number. “Hey. When do we meet for dinner? And where? Lets go someplace quiet.”
“Sure. What’s wrong with you today? You seem rather pensive since afternoon. All morning you were jittery and glued to your comp. You OK? Want to postpone the dinner and rest tonight?”
“Uh… no. I’m fine. Something’s come up, so wanted to tell you about it.”
“Okay… how does 9 pm sound? Ill pick you up. You choose the place.”

——
“So, madam what is this news? But first tell me, how are you feeling now?”
“Oh, much better!” Shall we order first? I’m starving.
“Yeah, I didn’t have much lunch either. Neither did you, or did you? Neha was mentioning…”

It was difficult to stick to one topic with him. He was vivacious and full of tidbits. But once he remembered something, he would not let go. She waited patiently through his useless small talk and gave him her usual piece of mind wherever required. The food was served. Delicious Parathas roasted with stuffed vegetables.

That’s when she told him. She knew he would not like it. How much, she didn’t know.
“You will move away?! But you never mentioned it!”
“um… yeah, it never came up. Was a little sudden. But I liked..”
“Sudden? How can a decision to move away be ‘sudden’? And such a big thing? How come you never told me or discussed with me?”

The Parathas were not as delicious suddenly. They were late for the movie, but it was a relief of sorts to part ways that night.

—–
The days were difficult to pass. She could not determine how much importance to give her mundane everyday work anymore. He was a little upset initially but was surprisingly supportive. It was her decision he said. “Just let me know when you need my help.” He seemed almost aloof. Or was she imagining it? She didn’t know whether it was because she had told him late, or because of the news itself. It did not seem to help if she told him that no one else knew. Not yet, anyway. But then, they had promised to go ahead together, helping each other.

She still had not told him where she had answered the call. The roof was imprinted in her mind, and she did not want unwanted visitors there. He, however, was sure to tell others about the sanctum for phone calls. And then her chance of a private word and moment was destroyed. Instead she would tell him when it was confirmed that she was leaving.

Often she would remember the private moment on the roof. The moment when she calmed her nerves after the long conversation, after the day-long wait for the call. And watched the pigeons. Had she said something wrong? Would the answer be a ‘no’ after so many days of acquaintance with the person on the other end of the phone? She herself was not too sure that she wanted to move to Chennai. But then everything else was right in place. It wouldn’t be too bad, she told herself.

The phone calls had reassured her that it was the final step. Now they had to get back to her. She checked her mails. Checked her phone for messages. Checked her phone in case there any calls she had missed. Called home and told her parents of her decision to go ahead with this in case they also felt the same. And waited, hopelessly. She toyed with her mother’s suggestion of making the call herself, but then decided against it. “We don’t want to look desperate, ma”, she had argued.

She gave up hope. They did not like her. It was wrong of her to harp on the moving to Chennai bit. Her false move. The pigeon had flown away. On the way to bed she decided to try one more time and opened her phone messages.

There it was – the notification of a new mail! Finally, some response!
Breathlessly she opened her email waited for the page to load. Waiting to read the first two lines. Would it be positive? She wished it to be so…

“Dear Ms…,
We are pleased to…”

——

“Hi! Got the mail last night. I’m selected! And not for Chennai. I will be located in the Mumbai office itself, then if I’m ready to move…”

“Wow! Wonderful news! I’m so happy for you. And that you are not going!”

“Thanks! I can barely believe it, its great isn’t it?”

“Yeah. You don’t have to worry about Chennai anymore. And now, you can at least give me lessons on Interviews. Dont back out this time. Like you did while applying here.”

“I told you, it was an unexpected referral and I’m sorrrry. But I can refer you here now!”

“How is your guy taking it? Happy I hope!”

“Of Course! He is delighted. More so because I stay here.”

“And we can still meet often enough for our dinners.”

“Yes. And listen.”

“Yes?”

“Tomorrow, remind me to take you to the Roof. That’s where I gave the interviews. But don’t look at the pigeons. One false move can spoil everything, but that one thought can make you very, very worried.”

Jodha Akbar – My Opinion

Posted February 27, 2008 by Surya
Categories: Movies

For starters, I must confess that I am a fan of Ashutosh Gowarikar… I loved Lagaan and Swades and the latter left a deep impact on my mind.Most of all, the goodness in Ashutosh’s films is what appeals me. His films are usually very honest and render the message straight off; no pretensions, no hyped-up stuff. Or So I thought. But in this movie, he tries to, in fact, hype  the sets, the jewellery, etc. by panning the camera through them. Jodha Akbar has its own positives like the music, a few well-shot scenes , etc.

Some good ones like the one in which Akbar (Hrithik) fights with an elephant – elegantly picturised; war scenes have been done very well – massive, mostly copied though; also romance scenes between Akbar and Jodha – I have always loved the way Ashutosh portrays romance – both in Lagaan and Swades, romance between the hero and his girl is pure and beautiful; he never pollutes such scenes and they never turn into vulgar-skin-showing-feeling-up-each-other types and that is exactly what I like about them.

The background score, music and choreography are very satisfying; very apt to situations in the film. I simply love Rahman’s composition of Khwajaji; Azeem-o-shaan shehenshah was beautifully choreographed, though more like a school drill its vibrant. Rahman is the only drastically versatile music composer we have today. He dives completely into the genre of the film and brings out some gems like these. What a contrast, in say, a Rang de Basanti and Jodhaa Akbar.

Somewhere Ashutosh has digressed with the script. The movie turns out to be more about glorifying Akbar rather than being a love story. The entire thing about bringing out Akbar’s greatness and humility overshadowed the main theme of the film – the love story.

Notice a major contradiction in Akbar’s character too. During the film, one gets a feeling that Akbar was very patriotic towards his sar-zameen, Hindustan. He says he cannot leave Hindustan at the mercy of any Tom, Dick and Harry and mouths more dialogues to that effect. This clearly shows how much he is in love with Hindustan and therefore is a patriot.
But we must remember that he was also a ruler which means he was greedy for more and more land; he wanted to rule over entire Hindustan. The contradiction in the character comes herein – a patriot never wants to rule a nation, he just wants it to be free; which means Akbar is not patriotic (as shown in the film) but is just possessive of something he owns. So, for him, Hindustan is more of a trophy (that he would want to win over) than a land that he loves and can make sacrifices for it. Though, I don’t know whether this part of Akbar’s character wasthe director’s imagination or Akbar was really like that.

Hrithik cant play a character role like that of Akbar. Prithviraj Kapoor as Akbar seems to have got etched in my mind. That look of pride in his face, the elegant king-like walk, the erect shoulders and the bitterly eyes speaking volumes; all this was certainly missing in Hrithik. He did his usual Dhoom 2 walk everywhere.

All in all an OK film. A period film after a long while… Watch it at least once.
Cheers!

I will build a faith

Posted November 27, 2007 by Surya
Categories: Religion

I will advocate a religion. Someday I will preach it, and I am sure there will be lots of takers. Some of the dictates will be as follows.

– My religion will have God/Gods, however, who or how I shall think of when the time comes as per public likes/dislikes. Chances are that it could be me 🙂 Anyways, Gods will never be the same always. They will change with each each season.

– Truth, of course, will be preferred. However, when unavoidable white lies are allowed.

– You will be forced to think. There will be weekly gatherings where you will have to reach by solving a clue game before the religion will be propounded to you.

– You will be forced to participate in weekly gatherings that consist of PJs (phaltu jokes). All followers of this faith must bring along at least 5 such jokes and should be good listeners of the same.

– Mailing, chatting and exchange of interesting articles on a weekly basis will be a must, discussions on some of them will be mandatory on the weekly gatherings.

– Working will be permissible for not more than 3 days a week. Holidays will be decided later, they are the days which shall constitute discussions on the forums (refer #3 above)

– There will be a festival every month lasting for at least 5 days where everyone is supposed to do one activity they enjoy/ need to do. It may include eating out, singing, boozing, sleeping, learning something, or even lazing at home and reading book(s). The festival shall not on any count coincide with the designated weekly holidays.

– Music will be the standard medium of prayer. An hour is a compulsory daily dose for meditation; more is preferred. Type of music depends upon individual taste. Takes you closer to the Lord(s). Rock or Classical music, of course, will be preferred.

– Everyone will have complimentary access to a library (physical and web-based) by virtue of being a believer of this religion.

The basic dictate of the religion will be –

Happy living through peaceful oblivion (also practicing a certain colourful 3 letter word).

– Reduction of ill vibes between people through reduction in bitching (except of course where unavoidable, and not more than once in a conversation.)

– Doing, instead of cribbing – yeah it’s a pain, but in this religion there has to be some work after all! One needs to work on one’s cribs.

Bruise

Posted November 7, 2007 by Surya
Categories: Randomness

At a length of 0.5 cm and a thickness of 0.1 cm, the bruise on the inner side of my neck is evolving in a more picturesque manner than expected. The bruise caused by I still don’t know who, what, where, how. One fine morning, it just appeared. And I think I aggravated it further by scratching liberally with the moody finger of my left hand.

Well, it initially had a little bump and within 30 minutes of coming into existence it had turned from a bright Tomato Red to a dark dark Red, almost Black rather symmetric bump on the side of my neck. For the first day the pain was enough to remind me of its existence. However, the next day onwards a chance glance through the object forming the specular reflection (the mirror) for my vision made me re-look, thinking it was a mole of sorts.
After that the bump was a nice, firm irregularity on the side of my neck.
Friends suggested pricking it so the clotted blood would have an outlet and the ‘bruise’ would go. But, I believed it would just become more pinched over time and then separate from my body like dead cells do.

However, the bump subsided over time. Today the bump has almost subsided to skin level, and has become a beautiful Maroon-Red. A rather enchanting colour. Especially when held against sunlight.
Now that it has become like any regular bruise, I expect it to go through the usual colour changes of Purple, Green-Yellow and Yellow then light Brown before vanishing.
I find it rather entertaining to observe the colour changes of bruises. I think that comes from the fact that I bruise often, and the best bet is to enjoy them if you can’t avoid them.

Perhaps the life cycle of this bruise will be short considering it’s on the inner side of my neck has a high blood flow. Let me see.
It would have been fun if they were not so independent and performed small activities for you. Example, you tell the bruise ‘Change!’ and it changes colours. You tell ‘Hide’ and it vanishes for some time. You say, ‘Shift’ and you can move it to a different body part. Would have made them so much more interesting I think. However, now they seem to have a mind of their own, and decide where to appear on their personal whims. Sometime even hurt you, and definitely change colours when you are not looking.
Well, at least they provide some entertainment.

Predicting the Future

Posted November 5, 2007 by Surya
Categories: Randomness

It’s been a slow kind of day – meaning I have work pending which I am not doing. Finally the long days and short nights of the past week are catching up. With a weekend of activity ahead with Diwali et al, I don’t see much respite till Monday.
So, as I sit on my seat with empty cups of Cappuccino beside me, I wonder – modern day people have become too mindless to think; they mostly just follow. Else, what once developed art form, now revered / ridiculed as forecasting tool has no new versions.

What am I talking about? Tealeaf reading of course! Something so innovative, new and so darned weird, has no modern day equivalents! I mean, reading the dregs of tea is definitely a European thing. Yet Tea itself is such an old concoction in Asia (China to be precise). It went to Europe only more than a century ago. People were imaginative enough then, to have Tea and wonder about one’s future depending upon the shape of the broken Tealeaves at the bottom of the cup.

Why then, has today’s wo/man left innovating? Why not something new about the way and shape of coffee rings left on the cup? What about the foam on the opposite wall of the empty cup? Wont someone please step up and analyse that and tell me my future?
Considering so many coffee drinkers around the world are interested in the occult, how is it that they don’t do a little bit of innovation and extrapolation to develop new techniques for today’s beverage – coffee? With the Internet and the ‘world being small’ and all that, I am sure they will have enough takers, if not earn a few pennies in the bargain.

Hmm…Perhaps this was left for me to create. I now know my true calling…my future (I read it from my 3 empty cups).
It is to drink coffee and predict the future on the basis of the foam marks on the cup!

Thus I shall foretell what the future holds for you. Only condition – it has to be Cappuccino with lots of foam.
Come to me! The initial 10 readings are free.

Jewels of Matrimony

Posted August 1, 2007 by Surya
Categories: Attempt at Humour

Was going through a friend’s profile on Hindu matrimony. (she wanted some editing done by expert hands 🙂 I spent sometime in going through other profiles. As usual the site did not disappoint.
First things first. My friend would NEVER pose in front of a bright-Red background, in a neon shirt with her mobile in hand and have the starting words of her write-up as “Myself Naina…”.

– One guy went on and on about his brother while he was the intended candidate. Apparently his brother was well-settled and the “good catch” in the family. Sadly enough he’d already been caught. Toh kya fayda hua?

– One chap wrote (AND I QUOTE), ” i have one mother, one father, one brother, one sister. My brother is married and my bhabhi is good-looking girl from good family and has one cute child.” Obviously the prize catch!!

It makes for interesting reading although I have to wonder how many of them come away happy at the end of the day. Is it wrong to recognise and settle for traits and situations in life which are similar to your own? Why piggyback on someone more upwardly mobile when you can have the satisfaction of doing it on your own steam.

-“….my niece likes to live a nice, simple, hygenic life”. And WE don’t?

“Travelling also suits me during holidays.” The rest of the days I’m an agoraphobic.

“My daughter is convented”. Eeeeks! that sounds awful.

“I am in this position because of my bro & parents. Thanks you all. Good luck bro” Ahem..are we at the Oscars?

The best of the lot so far? An ad that was pointed out to me in the matrimonial section of the Sunday paper a while back.

– “wanted beautiful girl homely caste no BRA.” ????

SWAAHAA!!

( ps: It’s bitchy, I know, to write this way, but one has to read the kind of expectations those same people have. God bless anxious parents and in attention to Wren and Martin…)

On my way to town the other day…

Posted July 31, 2007 by Surya
Categories: Randomness

I saw…

– a decapitated but very healthy buffalo heavy into rigor mortis.
– a sign for a public telephone which had lost its ‘L’ leading it to become a pubic telephone.(One wonders which end to talk into.)
-a sign by a local cobbler shop which said “foot were”…(were what? not feet before?)
-a graffiti on the wall which said hum sab ek hain (agar saath thoke to- if we all boink together…(me thinks dastardly engineering students did this)
-a small child peering very raptly at a goat which came and ate up her mother’s offerings at a roadside temple.
-one of the staff in a bank dig deep into his nose for boogers and wipe them on the curtains when he thought no one was looking.

So little time so much to see. I wonder how much money full-time observers make these days?

(ps: ‘town’ in Mumbai means VT-the main city part)