Category Archives: Humour

The Superstar Story in 10 Easy Bollywood Steps

1. Attack the media
2. Make brain-free action movie
3. Beat up girlfriends
4. Make sappy romantic movie
5. Hunt endangered species
6. Make saccharine family movie
7. Drunk drive and kill
8. Charge for clothing line called “I’m a good guy”
9.Make fortune off movie that says “Worth my weight in gold”
10.God status achieved.

Taylor Jacobs

Image via Taylor Jacobs on Unsplash

#AndheriGirl: Auditions

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Good girls go to heaven.
Andheri girls go to auditions.

#AndheriGirl
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#AndheriGirl: How To Watch A Movie In Andheri

Movie in Andheri

Food Encounters Of The Third Kind

Mum has left town this week so it’s time to play house-house again. I know what you’re thinking – how hard is it for a grown woman to manage a house? It’s not. What is difficult for a grown woman to manage, is another woman’s kitchen. Yes. We may share a living space. But when it comes to the culinary castle, my mother treats it like her personal kingdom and guards it jealously.

It is wonderfully convenient for me that she is such a good cook. So it really doesn’t hurt me too much to throw up my hands and concede the throne of Kitchendom to her. The trouble comes, when she has to travel for a few days. Unlike cupboards, study tables and bookshelves that can be locked away (What, you’re laughing at locking away a bookshelf? You must have never been a booklover then.), the food supply chain has to keep running. What to do?

In the early years, I shouldered the mantle of Temporary Kitchen Monarch. Naivete never had a better victim. All hell broke loose when I attempted to make a dum aloo, as a welcome-home, the day mother was to return. This being before the advent of Wikipedia and Google, I used a more primitive form of information gathering. I called my best friend’s mother. The recipe she gave me sounded simple enough. I was really quite proud with what turned out a few hours later.

Mother walked into the house. Stopped. Sniffed. Eyes bored into me accusing.

“HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING NON-VEGETARIAN FOOD IN MY KITCHEN???!!”

That incident has stayed a sore point with us since then and will probably go down in family lore. I deduced that she was smelling the garam masala (made from scratch using *I promise* vegetarian ingredients only). But maybe my Goan auntie’s recipe smelt like our Goan neighbor’s fish fry. Mother refused to touch a bite of the dum aloo. I protested, telling her that I had used ingredients from that very kitchen. I think she has never forgiven me for managing to turn out ‘non-vegetarian’ food from her very vegetarian ingredients.

Well, time to go. It’s been over 24 hours since mum left and the leftovers are nearly over. Weekend promises food encounters of the third kind. I better get my armour and shields ready. TO BATTLE, WOMAN!

 

#AndheriGirl: Grime Fighter

If you see an Andheri citizen with a clean face, assume they’re a superhero.

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#Ideastory: Wedding Gown

Titanic wedding

She took the towel he offered. And then his hand. White gown, still pristine in colour, if not form. He watched her peel it off, lace clinging to her curves. Trim the hem, she told him, it trips. And she tossed it to him as she wen to call the bride.

Damn Titanic-themed weddings!

R is for Red Shoes

RNow I’m really falling terribly behind but I resolve to catch up this week. Here’s a story that I originally called ‘Dancing Shoes’. I’m ducking the ball a bit and retitling this so I can use it for today’s A to Z Challenge. I give you R is for Red Shoes. I wrote this in the month of February when red, dancing and unexpected affections seemed to be all about. Tell me what you think.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

R is for Red Shoes

She’s standing near the door. John doesn’t like girls who love red. It’s an unusual colour for shoes. Then they fuss and wear other strange things that will match. Too much drama. John is smart. So many years teaching ballroom dancing, he knows how to read people.

The 6:00 batch gets over and the students move towards the door. Good thing she isn’t in the first batch. I want to be warmed up and ready when I dance with shoes like her.

The wearer is grinding one heel into the ground, while the other toe tap-taps, not at all in time with the music. I can see even at this distance, that she’s flexing the right strap, weighing her wearer’s foot down. Dancers always say the shoes are important but most wearers don’t realize how much their shoes make them dance. This one is going to be tricky. She’s going to make me do John’s work as well.

We start off normally. Salsa’s beginning 1-2-3-45 can be followed by anyone. Anyone in a sensible pair of shoes, that is. But I hold my tongues. It looks like the wearer is inexperienced herself. She could have picked less fussy shoes. But never mind that. John shifts to quick-quick-slllow that some people find easier. I think we’ll do this for the remainder of the song.

But she seems to have other ideas. I can see her tensing around the toes, straining at the straps every couple of steps. I maintain my form and refuse to respond. She continues making grotesque shapes at me. If only people could see how ugly their shoes can look, when they’ve decided to be difficult. But no, these women say, oooh they’re such pretty shoes, they’re worth the pain!

The strap buckle has a little tassel hanging over the ankle. I see it in mid-step, what she’s trying to do. But it’s too late. The tassel sails over and is squelched under the other sole. The wearer stumbles and her knee knocks into John’s just as he raises his foot in the air. His years of practice, teaching clumsy beginners – it’s like they’re gone. He slips and I squash her toe, leaving a little scuff mark. I’m ashamed of my boy, he rarely does this. Maybe he likes her. I can feel his embarrassment too. Instructors are not supposed to step on their students’ toes.

But they continue dancing, to my surprise. The wearer follows the man. Maybe she’s not so bad, even if she is a woman who loves red. I focus again on her shoes. I wouldn’t want to admit, even to John that I lost balance just like he did. Dancing shoes can’t do that, even if their wearers can. But she is…she is…she is so annoying!

I keep a wary eye on her for the rest of the song. John moves into the turns, tentatively. I know it’s risky, seeing how she messed even the basic quick-quick-slow. But he knows and I do, if we don’t diversify, it’ll be trouble. John of course, will tell himself that it’s about giving the students confidence. But I know it’s about letting them know who’s boss.

I snap out of my rumination as a tassel brushes me across the side. She did that on purpose, didn’t she? Does she like having scuff marks? I’ll show her, if she tries that again!

But she’s passive for the rest of the song. And the next one. As we near the last number, I’m beginning to believe that she’s just badly made, not a bad pair otherwise. She’s frozen her form into one shape now and even the scuff mark seems to be gone. I can tell she doesn’t like me. Pity. She seemed like she might have been a nice girl underneath all that tassel-fussing.

The class comes to an end. The wearer says her byes and thank yous and she’s panting a bit for breath. I know she won’t come back. John’s careful maneuvering still haven’t given her the confidence that she can be a dancer. And those shoes of her will grind and pinch her and make her forget about dancing lessons.

I watch her walk away. There’s no clenching, no tightening. It’s like she can’t get her wearer out of the class fast enough. I’ll never see her again. I sigh, my tongues coming free of John’s feet. For a change, he doesn’t tuck them back inside with the backs of his legs. He really liked the student too. I know, buddy, I know. That’s the way they are, these girls who love red.

I force myself to focus at the class the next day. Of course I knew she wouldn’t return. Sylvia comes to class so John gets to walk around a little around students. I get to dance with the advanced dancers too and not just the troublesome new ones. There are a couple of white shoes among the stable blacks and browns. But no reds. Thank God. We don’t need these red ladies messing with our minds and tongues. But I have to admit, nobody tosses a tassel the way she does.

It’s three days later when I’m surprised again. We turn, John and I and in mid-step, brush against another dancer. A familiar tassel grazes my side. And I swear, as she sails through the air, I see her clench one toe in my direction. The song is coming to an end. And I know, I just know, I’ll be facing her when the next one begins.

I will never understand women’s shoes.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

R is for Red Shoes

*Image (without text) via Vlado on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

P is for Printer

PNow here’s a story based on a little something that happened in real life. I once worked at an office where the printer was named for the employee who was seated closest to it. It created some mirthful situations. This however, is fiction. For today’s A to Z Challenge, I give you P is for Printer.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

P is for Printer

Prime real estate. That’s what they call locations that are close to desirable things like the sea, an arterial road or a green area in a concrete city. These locations are extra valuable. The reverse should hold true in office spaces. The row closest to the toilet or the cubicle next to the door? Well, it’s not like the people occupying them get to leave earlier. And the 3 second advantage of being able to get to the pot in one of those ‘when you gotta go’ times far outweighs the frequent fragrant reminders of its existence. How often do you gotta go, when you’re chained to a desk job anyway?

Now take me for example. I sit next to the printer. This is probably not as bad as being the toilet’s neighbor. It’s like being close to a very large person prone to noisy, fume-ridden outbursts, that people magically gravitate to. The printer even has my name. If you were to check the network settings of any terminal in this company, under printers, you’d see the following:

Maxima
Harish

Maxima is the managers’ printer, a tiny colour thing that only the cabin crew uses, while us lowly staff get to mill around the black and white, noisy giant who sits next to me. Maxima sits in a position of discreet honour, atop the stationery cupboard, while the other one is relegated to the end of all the rows of cubicles. And management decided real estate being what it was, they had to maximize space. So they bunged in one more seat next to the printer-allotted space and guess who got to occupy it?

So how to identify the two printers on the network? How to keep the minions from actually using the power of colour print afforded to them, via IT services democratic views? Good manners prevents them from giving them the names that they merit – BOSSES ONLY and THE UNIMPORTANT. So, instead, they decided to hijack the name of the guy who sat closest to it. Voila, my electronic doppelganger!

I kept my chair turned away from it, so people wouldn’t try to engage me in conversations while waiting for their prints. But they’d peer over my shoulder, for entertainment then. The whole office feels like Big Brother. Facing the printer meant there was enough room on my table for sticky coffee mugs and unwanted prints to accumulate. Harish and I finally compromised and today we sit side-by-side. Neither friends nor foes but allies, that’s what we are. I am at peace with my namesake now.

It was through Harish that I met her. Lekha, one of the new project execs. She was clean across the floor and I’d never have been introduced to her. Her team is sniffy and snobbish that way. They also wouldn’t bother to help out the new joinee on their team. Lekha spent a good ten minutes wandering around the floor on her first day, looking for the printer that held her pages. She actually came by my place twice. But her prints had gone under the stack and someone else had dumped the accumulated pages into the waste holder below. She finally figured it out of course, and tottered across the floor to pick up her prints before they were hijacked by someone else.

One day, I plucked out a single sheet before Sinha, the accountant shoved the bundle into the dump. I’d seen Lekha running down the corridor. She braked on her high heels, smoothly and with a curse on her lips. I handed the sheet over to her. Sinha was watching the little exchange, his eyes darting back and forth. But the grateful smile she gave me in return was worth it.

I waited a couple of times and let her run the distance and miss, before I tried it again. Even so, the next time I did a miracle save, she looked at me quizzically. How did I know it was hers, her knitted eyebrows seemed to ask. I would have sat down in my chair, such was the force of that look, had I not been seated already. Instead, I settled for knocking my coffee mug across the table. I went back to my computer screen. She went away.

After that, I resolved not to save any more of her pages. But Harish, Harish, that prankish Cupid connived to bring us together again. Sitting next to it for 9 hours a day, I can tell the time by when the humming starts to become buzzing. If it were under my jurisdiction, I’d post an email on the company network at 11:52 asking them to hold their printouts for 10 minutes while Harish took a break. And again at 3:07 to avoid a paper jam. But it’s not my job. So Harish struggles through its day while I struggle through mine. Allies look out for each other, though, it seemed to be saying that day. The paper jam occurred at 1:03.

My eyes flicked to the corner of the screen that very moment. And then immediately up. Lekha’s heels laid their final tap and came to a halt in front of my table. She stared at the empty print tray, puzzled. Then she looked around. The cubicles were empty, their occupants having bolted to lunch (revise my earlier presumption; those closest to the door do get to lunch earlier than the others). Finally she turned to look at me.

I let her stare linger on me for 2 seconds before I returned it. Then, I stood up and walked around my desk to Harish. Getting down on my knees, I lifted the tray and opened the printer door. I’d thought it would be a simple jam but it turned out to be two papers twisted together and caught in the cartridge.

“Have to ask IT to take a look at it.”

“Oh God.”

she mumbled,

“I need that print.”

“Fire another.”

I urged, with a meaningful look towards the BOSSES printer.

“No…I…I want Harish.”

she said, turning away almost immediately, embarrassed at how that sounded.

I smirked at her back. But I saw her start to turn, I looked back to Harish. What was to be done? I drummed on the side of the printer, pretending to know what I was looking at. At that very moment, there was a terrific screeching of paper and a sheet came crawling through the slit. A horribly crumpled and torn half landed in the print tray. I extricated the other half from inside the machine and laid it next to the one on top. It was a resume.

Then I became conscious of her stare and stepped away. She bit her lip and reached for the two pieces. Crumpling them up in her hand, she walked away. But three steps later, she turned and gave me a rueful grin. She didn’t come back to pick up any printouts for the rest of the day. And she was still there at the end of the week.

The next time I heard the printer hum uncharacteristically, I looked up. Lekha was walking towards me. Walking, not running, a calm expression on her face. Then her eyes met mine and she smiled. I reached a hand out, without standing up and retrieved the paper she had fired. When she came up, I handed it over to her without a word. And she smiled and walked away. I turned to look at the printer.

Harish, you old dog.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

P is for Printer

*Image (without text) via pakorn on FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

K is for Kitne Aadmi The?

KHave you heard of Tall Tales? They are stories based on wild, unrealistic exaggeration which cause mirth and entertainment for their readers. Tall Tales are part of popular American folklore. I’ve been wanting to try the format so here it is. I’ve picked a basic concept from one of India’s most popular stories, the film Sholay. For the uninitiated, this is a story of two petty criminals Jai and Veeru, who help an ex-cop/landlord avenge his family’s massacre by a local bandit, Gabbar Singh. Jai and Veeru were played by two of the biggest superstars of their day, Amitabh Bachchan and Dharamendra respectively. Veeru’s love interest is Basanti, a garrulous village belle. The italicised words (including the title) are actual lines from the movie that went on to achieve cult status. This is as much as you need to know to enjoy this story, and I hope you do because I had a ton of fun writing it! Here’s K is for Kitne Aadmi The? for today’s A to Z Challenge.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

K is for Kitne Aadmi The?

Once upon a time there were two young men. Like all young men they didn’t have much to do so they got up to all kinds of mischief.

One of them was very tall. His legs were so long that when he stood up, grown people could walk under him without having to bend. He had been prone to house-jumping in his old village, playing leapfrog over the rooftops. A lot of utensils got broken and gardens mashed with his jumping antics, so he was banished. He didn’t mind, however. He was bored of house-jumping anyway, so he set off on the road to find new adventures. In no time at all, he had gone halfway around the world. (It only took him 7 days and that was because he walked slowly instead of jumping. He thought he should learn to be a bit polite).

When he was bored of walking, he sat down to rest. Stretching back, he decided to study the sky. Just as he had began to fathom white designs in the blue, something ran into his legs. He stood up immediately. From his height, he could just make out something broad near his knees. So he squatted, folding his knees. He came face to face with another young man.

The second young man was looking around nervously. He was most surprised to see a face pop up all of a sudden between what he had taken to be two trees.

“Can’t you watch where you’re going?”

“I thought you were a forest!”

“There is no forest for miles around!”

“I’m sorry, I was walking sideways so I couldn’t tell.”

You see, this second young man was very broad-shouldered. When he stood completely straight, his shoulders were broad enough to block the horizon. Most people did not notice him and thought he was a giant rock. Some people even thought he was the end of the world and that there was nothing to be seen beyond him. One village had chased him out because they thought he had eaten up the sun. It wasn’t visible anywhere while he was standing facing them.

All this, the second young man explained to the first. The first listened gravely. He never smiled, in any case. His long legs tended to pull the sides of his lips down. He understood, yes, yes. But he didn’t know why the first young man cared so much. Saala nautanki, he decided, bahut drama karta hain. But since he was bored, he decided to befriend him. And that is how an uncommon friendship was born.

Together the two of them had many, many adventures. Once they decided to scare the people of their old villages and eat up their food, after the villagers had run away. The tall young man entered the second one’s village. But the village lookout saw him from afar (after chasing out the broad-shouldered one, they had posted him there to deter the miscreant from returning) and warned the villagers. They gathered around with tall brooms. When the tall man came stomping by, they hid. Puzzled, he decided that they were all sleeping. And a desire to try his old hobby overcame him. It had been a long time and he had been very good since then. So he jumped. Just as he soared over the nearest roof, the villagers who had been hiding on the top floor, stuck out their tall brooms. The tall young man got a few unpleasant pokes on his bottom. He landed flat on it in the mud. The villagers surrounded him and began tickling his feet with the brooms. He couldn’t get up, he was so overcome by the giggles. Finally, they ceased and he managed to get to his feet and jump away.

Undeterred, the duo decided to try the other village. Broad Shoulders decided he would be smarter and creep in at night, so the villagers wouldn’t see him coming, if they had a lookout. He needn’t have worried. The second village knew their young man well and thought he’d be too bored to return. They were all asleep and peacefully snoring in their houses.

Broad Shoulders crept up, glad to be able to walk straight for a change. Tall man’s village had a lot of wide spaces because it had a lot of fat people in it. At a distance, he spotted a tall building, with a round thing on top.

That must be Tall man’s house, he told himself. Didn’t his friend miss his home, he wondered. He decided to enter it and bring back something for the Tall man, to remember home. Feeling very generous, he circled around the tall building till he spotted a ladder. So spurred on by his happy feeling was he, that he never saw the ladder’s rungs fall away as he climbed.

When he reached the top, he found he had a spectacular view of all the lands around. It made him a bit dizzy though. He looked around for some water and spotted a bottle inside the window. He couldn’t enter the room though, even sideways. The bottle was on a table. He pushed a finger in through the window, managing to tip it over. Tall man must be very thin also, he thought to himself as he drank thirstily from the drips that spilt out of the window. In a few minutes, he was fast asleep.

He woke up to sunlight directly on his face. When he tried to stand up, he swayed. He rubbed his eyes and looked over the edge of the balcony that he was lying on. A crowd was gathered below. His head was pounding. What was in that drink he had consumed the previous night, he wondered. And it was hot.

There was nothing more left to drink. A trickle of sweat ran down the side of his face.

ICE, he said loudly,

“I wish I had some ice.”

Voices below made him look over the edge again. The crowd was gesturing to him. So he called out.

“ICE, I want some ice for my head.”

“WHAT?!”

“ICE!”

“WHAT??”

“ICE. The thing you put into soda.”

“Into WHAT?”

“SODA!!”

“SO what??”

“SODA!!”

“WHAT?”

“ICE!!! SODA!! ICE!!”

“Can’t hear you! Shout louder!”

“SODAAAAICE!!! SODAICE!!!”

Suddenly a murmur went through the crowd and they stopped shouting.

He sighed. Stupid people, they had probably never heard of fridges. He wondered if he could climb down. He stood up and hooked one leg over the side. Immediately there was uproar from the crowd.

A pretty girl appeared at the front of the crowd. And all of a sudden Broad Shoulders found him being pushed back into the wall. He tried to push back but to no avail. His hands only flailed around in thin air. He couldn’t understand it.

Downstairs the girl was prancing about, waving her hands. She was called the Voice. You see, Tall Man’s village had a great many people of interest. Tall Man was only the naughtiest of them and had to be banished for his bad behavior, not for his divergence. Voice Girl for instance, had a magical voice. Usually she spoke so much that her words spilled forth forming a wall of hot air in front of her. It was also why the village did not need a lookout. They had a one woman army of hot air in her. Also, she could raise her voice to the highest pitch ever. She had just raised it to the height of the building and it had reached Broad Shoulders up there.

“Why are you trying to die?”

Broad Shoulders would have jumped at the Voice, had it not been pinning him to the wall.

“Die? I am not trying to die!”

“Then why were you shouting SOCIDE SOCIDE?”

“I was asking for ice!”

The Voice went silent for a few moments. Actually, she had only brought her pitch down to the villagers level so she could confer with them. Shortly, she was back.

“Who are you?”

“Who are you?”

“I am…you answer first!”

“No, you!”

“YOU!!!”

“After you!”

“If you don’t answer, I’ll keep you pinned like this for the whole day!”

Broad Shoulders laughed. He liked the Voice even though he couldn’t see its source. But it sounded like a woman and women liked compliments, he knew. Some of them even liked music. So he started to sing,

“1….2…..3”

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

The Voice had raised him to the wall and was pressing into his chest.

“I just thought you might like a song!”

“You call that a song?”

“Yes. It was taught to me by my wise friend who knows a lot about women.”

“What did he say?”

“He said, koi haseena jab rooth jaati hain toh, hain toh, 1, 2, 3 ho jaati hain!”

The Voice didn’t know what to make of this. Her hold on him eased and he slumped to the floor again.

“What do you want to do? Where do you want to go?”

“I would like to come down. And then I’ll go wherever you want to take me.”

The Voice vanished at this. Broad Shoulders smiled and stood up, peering over the edge.

“SOCIDE CANCEL!”

He declared and swung over the edge. Immediately he slipped and fell off.

Tall Man had been watching the proceedings from a distance. He was standing right at the back so the crowd had never noticed him. In a flash, he stuck out his arms and caught his friend, cushioning his fall. Then he let him drop into the dust, but from a safe distance.

And he jumped away, chewing a grass stem.

Saala nautanki, he told himself, peeke drama karta hain.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

K is for Kitne Aadmi The

* Translation:

Kitne aadmi the? = How many men were there?
Saala nautanki = Bloody drama queen
Koi haseena jab rooth jaati hain toh, 1, 2, 3 ho jaati hain = When a pretty girl gets angry, 1, 2, 3 happens
Peeke drama karta hain = Causes a ruckus when he’s drunk
SOCIDE: From a famous scene in the movie where Veeru pretends to commit suicide (pronounced ‘socide’) if he is not married to Basanti.

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