Thursday, December 27, 2007 2 reflections

[POEM] - Unwanted

Surrounded by my own voice
I sit here
Separated from what others are going through
Of whether I can help.
Of whether they want me to.
Surrounded by silence
This life of mine exists
As I sit longingly
Looking out my window of despair
That someday someone will come by
My solitude has only grown
Like an infection full of life
Branched out into so many parts
Cutting the air
Completing me with its fullness
As I sit here again
Unsure. Unclear. Unwanted.

Monday, December 10, 2007 4 reflections

A Suitable Girl?

IT WASN’T LONG AGO THAT there was a Kannada movie called ‘Awale Nanna Hendati’ that had evoked a strong social response. It dealt with the demon that has haunted India time immemorial – the dowry system. Whenever I would, as a young boy in simpler times, watch the male protagonist of the feature dance around talking about the evils of this shameful ritual, a bizarre thought would cross my mind. All of twelve or thirteen years old and I would amuse myself with the amount I would ask my would-be bride’s family. One lakh? No no. That is too little. By the time I marry it would be at least 10 lakhs, I would convince myself with blissful ignorance. It seemed like a very cool thing to have such financial control over such important aspects of life.

That was then. As the years of arrogance turned into an era of further agony – also known as the 20s – a few things started to finally make sense. The 90s came and revolutionized the way India behaved. With an immediate effect of globalization and cross culture exchanges, it was becoming increasingly obvious that everything was bound to go through a dramatic change. Even the way marriages were conceived and executed. As I noticed many of my cousins, friends and relatives from afar get tied in holy matrimony, I continued looking for further ways to keep myself enlightened about this process. The word ‘NRI’ seemed to be the next big thing. The three magical letters seemed to open those wonderful golden doors behind which lived the most precious damsels holding pots of happiness which they later would use to flood their groom’s life with. Ah! I was immediately taken to the concept. The very fact that the prospective groom was ‘well settled abroad’ seemed reason enough for anxious parents of the girl to knock harder on the boy’s door. It seemed like the boys from the previous decades who had sat around doing nothing beyond get decent education and a straight forward job, now were taken over by the much adored NRI.

When I flew out of India for the first time almost a decade ago, I had stepped into the holy shrine of that elite class of Indians who were supposed to be some sort of ‘special’ breed. Or so I thought anyway. I was now part of that community that could have their parents grinning from cheek to cheek mouthing words like ‘Oh yes. He has been abroad for many years now. Yes, he is an NRI.’ I now knew that not only had I reserved a special place for myself in the hearts of the bride’s families but also had managed to become eligible for super special attention.


But again, that was then. Call it bad timing or great coincidence, I do not know. Post 2000 AD and things were again snowballing into something more bizarre. A few months ago I officially began the much adored ‘bride hunt’ having roped in my family into the mix. With so many years of enjoying that ‘special’ status behind me I could not wait to hear the many knocks I was convinced my door would get. It had almost made me grin in hidden pride.

But you know what they say. Change is the only constant thing in life. And the same happened with yet another misconception of mine about girls wanting NRIs.

News Flash – they don’t. Not anymore. With the way the working economy in India has taken such a roller coaster ride, the working girl today enjoys the best of the ‘F’ words – freedom, finance, friendship and family. Well, then why on Earth would she give up all this and take off on an unknown journey to some place she does not even care about? The allure and glamour that living abroad once had is now dying slowly. Initially I was rather surprised by this turn of events but with time and quite a few rejections, I have started to come to terms with the fact that the ‘NRI’ status isn’t as rosy as it was. It had to die one day for sure but the darned thing chose to do it when I was getting ready to step into the next major phase of my life.


But sometimes I wonder. How the girl can be rather happy getting up at 6AM in the morning, bundling up with her colleagues in the work-cab that is popular these days, head off to work by 9AM (yes, the traffic factor), work her head off till 6PM, enjoy a snack with friends till 7PM and then head back home by 9PM again. I do not know. Maybe my conception of a working girl’s life is way different than what I listed here, but either way there is so much one tends to miss when they get shelled up in cocoons like this. It becomes ironic that globalization gave them everything except the one important ‘F’ word – Flexibility. It now looks like I should be the one giving her a hefty dowry to get her approval. Seems the dowry system has now come a full circle after all doesn’t it?

Meanwhile I am yet to find a girl brave enough to make that move. When that happens, please be assured I shall let you know.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007 1 reflections


By ShaKri

THE REASON I WAS ITCHING to pen this is two fold. One, I wanted to get this rattling theory that has been bothering me the last few days out in the open, and two, I wanted some feedback from other people who might know more about the same.

Ever since I can remember, the one thing that seemed 'the most important' thing for a successful arranged marriage has been horoscope match. Let me confess, I know little about horoscope design and almost nothing about how they are matched. But apparently, from what I have seen all these years, this formula works. True there are always those exceptions – from what I hear increasing at an alarming rate now – where despite everything being A-OK things fall apart and pretty unfortunate events unfold. Again, the same is true with love marriages where horoscope match is never really the main area of attention yet stars fail to save the cupid-struck couple. But as far as arranged affairs are concerned, it is almost a given that an astro-match is the way to go.

Fine. I seriously have no qualms with this. In fact nothing pleases me more than someone else doing the hard work of finding me a suitable partner. Believe me. In a world where finding true love is as hard as finding an auto-rickshaw in Bangalore, this sort of an arrangement is an absolute delight.

But here is my theory though. For people like me, who are completely oblivious of the ways of the stars, a horoscope match inevitably means – we are going to be a good couple. In other words, we will be compatible in almost every important area. Something quite necessary in any kind of marriage. But I wonder if we in India are conditioned about horoscopes to such an extent, that once we are told 'they match', we do everything we can to make the relationship work? Is that really what it all bubbles down to? Come what may we subconsciously are always telling ourselves that the person we are spending our life with is definitely 'the one' since this has been confirmed by the horoscope! So does this not mean that whatever life throws our way we will compromise, plead, request, whine and prevail? Is that why arranged marriages are so break-proof? Due to this astro-astra shot at the couple?

I honestly do not know the answer. Makes me wonder though, that whatever kind of marriage one starts with, they all end up the same. A multi-colored rainbow of emotions and moments - good, bad and ugly. If that is the case then where does the horoscope match really come into play? How does a 'horoscope match'-enabled marriage seem better than one where it was never used?

Let me ponder on that while one more astro-astra heads my way.


Sunday, December 02, 2007 1 reflections

Milestone Matar Paneer

Dear reader,

If you have been a regular to this blog then you know I have never really mentioned my culinary skills. far there has never been anything worth mentioning. But today is a milestone day. Why? For the first time I prepared home made Matar Paneer thanks to a recipe on YouTube.

I had never imagined the dish would turn out this great. I have learnt cooking the hard way over the last 8 years, so needless to say my hopes were minimal. Nevertheless, I present my latest accomplishment - the milestone Matar Paneer.


Saturday, November 17, 2007 4 reflections

[POEM] - On a day like today...

Dear reader,

I am not the one to pen love-sick poems on a regular basis. But then...there are days when some faces from a significant past come back to haunt.

This is a tribute to one such Herculean loss.


On a day like today...

On a day like today, on a morn this blue,
I look out the window and I see you,
Fading past the frosted sidewalks,
In a veil of innocence and a smile anew.

On a day like today, when I think of the past,
Images and sounds come back and last,
For a lifetime in a minute, and then echo back,
Within the gorge of my memory's vast.

On a day like today, your words haunt me,
As I think of the bygone era of glee,
A time I had never imagined I would lose,
In the crowd of life where joy wasn’t free.

On a day like today, your face follows me around,
And asks me questions that have no sound,
I smile to myself and whisper ‘I am alright, my darling’,
To your shimmering silhouette that vanishes into the ground.

On a day like today, I mourn losing you,
As I know my world would have had a more vibrant hue,
Had you been around to paint my soul's existence,
With the colors of your love in red, white, blue.

On a day like today, an old saying rings untrue,
As to how loving and losing is better of the two,
Since I am convinced the source of those words,
Had obviously never known that wonder called – you.


Sunday, October 21, 2007 0 reflections

ShaK Fotos - a new experiment

Dear reader,

I have always been fascinated by the art of photography. The magic of being able to capture an interesting moment and adding a wonderful context to it. The possibilities of the different kinds of interpretations it allows is just amazing. That said, as an experimentation pilot, I have started a new photo-based blog. I recently bought a Nikon SLR D-40 camera. A beauty of a camera indeed! Hence, the photos presented in the new blog will be products from this new acquisition of mine.

[Please click on the banner to enter the blogsite]

Please feel free to visit it and opine.



Tuesday, October 09, 2007 2 reflections

[ShaKri Comics] - Mirror, Mirror on the wall

One more comic strip about a guy who...well...seems to trust his mirror more. ;-) Enjoy!


(please CLICK ON the image for the larger version)

2 reflections

[ShaKri Comics] - The Lesson

Dear reader,

I have always been a fan of the comics. Be it Superman or Tarzan. That affection came forth in this new venture of mine - ShaKri Comics. Used some special effects and designed my first ever comic strip.

Hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it. Please click ON the image for the larger version.


Saturday, September 22, 2007 5 reflections

The 100th Sin

The 100th Sin
a short fiction by ShaKri

The lukewarm milk, as she had always preferred it, had now dozed off into its usual stillness. Whining about Nandini’s infinitely exhausting routine of not finishing her bedtime drink, was her mother. It had been almost half an hour past the little one’s bedtime when the woman came barging in as always.

‘So you are repeating the same bloody stunt again, is it?’ she screamed at the dwarfed silhouette that sat hunched scribbling into a diary. ‘You and your stupid drawings. I will burn that damn thing one day and maybe then I can get rid of you once and for all.’

She approached the child menacingly with a glare that had always haunted Nandini.

‘Ma no! Ma please no ma!’ she screamed back as the adult struck an instant battle with the young pair of hands for the leather-bound rectangle.

‘Shut up!’ the woman continued ‘I am going to take this with me today and pour kerosene on it and burn out all the bullshit you keep doodling in it. Why? Shall I do that? Will he come and rescue you then? Tell me! Come on!’

The tussle suddenly erupted into a bizarre bitterness and the book went flying out of their hands landing onto the vacuumed carpet of the dimly lit bedroom.

'Now listen to me,’ the woman hissed in assertive command as she twisted the young wrists that were already throbbing in excruciating pain. ‘I see you with that bloody book one more time I am going to send you to boarding school where they will make you work like a dog and eat from the garbage. Do you want that? Tell me! Should I do that?’

‘No ma…please no ma…don’t ma…please…’ Nandini wept as her mother smacked her face a few times and watched the tears flow down from the puffy cheeks of her wailing child. A perverse sense of satisfaction clouded the woman’s eyes.

Silence prevailed the next few moments as the child wept in lonesome misery. ‘You are a bad omen,’ she finally said. Her tone was cold and direct. ‘Every thing you have brought with you the last seven years has been nothing but misfortune. Had I known this I would have given you up the moment you were born.’

She then let go of the girl’s hands and stomped out of the room clutching the glass of milk. She switched off the light in the room and slammed the door shut behind her before yelling back ‘Now stop crying and go to bed!’

Nandini continued to weep in silence as hushed voices emerged from outside.

‘What happened this time?’ said a male voice.

‘What do you think? The usual,’ responded the mother opening the tap in the kitchen sink. ‘The little bitch is at it again. What else can she do except make my life a living hell! Same old drawings of whatever the hell it is she draws about. Sick of it…’

‘Relax…its going to be OK…she is only six. Its just meaningless dribble. It’s a phase!’ the male voice seemed to attempt soothing the enraged woman.

‘Oh shut up. You don’t know anything. Now help me with these dishes and let’s go to bed. I have to get up early tomorrow and take that thing to school again.’

Nandini’s gasps and moans loomed large across the blackened room that shared the girl's grief. She sniffed a few times before getting off the chair to switch the light back on in the room. She then walked towards the book wiping her tears and picked it up.

Silence enveloped the tension that had exploded within those walls just a few moments ago. What had seemed like an unending war of words and screams now felt like a valley that hadn’t heard a human voice in years. The timed drip of the tap in the kitchen was the only thing now audible in the emptiness that was Nandini’s life.

She walked up to the table and sat down to write again. Her wrists were aching but she knew she had to do what she was about to. She had been given clear instructions.

She opened the last page of the book that contained several tiny lines sitting next to one another in neat rows. Some of them were dark and purposefully marked while others were slanted and written when she had been in more painful scenarios. She took her hand all the way to the end of the row sets and etched a new entry clutching the pencil carefully between her fingers. She then closed her diary silently and folded her hands in a soft prayer murmuring something to herself.

It was past 2am when he finally arrived. Nandini had been so tired from the night’s events that she had completely forgotten to switch off the bedroom light. The flick of the light button awoke her from her deep slumber.

She rubbed her eyes and pouted at the glowing silhouette that she had gotten so familiar with over the years.

‘Blue uncle?’ she whispered as he had instructed her to refer to him.

‘Yes my dear,’ he said as he approached her bed. ‘I got your message,’ he said as he picked up her diary and slowly flipped to the last page.

‘Uncle..uncle…’ she began enthusiastically as he sat down next to her.

‘What is it, dear?’ he said in that ever soothing voice Nandini had fallen in love with.

‘Ma hit me again today,’ the little one squeaked with an unmistakable ache in her tone.

‘I know baby,’ he said as he held her tiny hands in his. ‘Let us see what happened here.’

‘Aaah!’ Nandini let out a hushed scream as he caressed her wrists gently back to health.

‘Magic uncle…’ she said and giggled as she noticed the red streaks disappear. ‘Uncle…how is pa?’ she asked him with concern filled eyes.

‘He is fine. He misses you. He loves you very much.’

They sat in silence for a few moments as he slowly counted the lines on the last page of the child’s diary.

‘Blue uncle…can I see him? Ma says I was two years old when I killed him.’

‘No sweetheart,’ said the voice caressing Nandini’s tired locks, ‘His time had come. So I called for him. You had nothing to do with it. I explained this to him as well. He knows. So don’t ever say that again, okay?’

‘Ma hates me blue uncle…she thinks I killed him. But I love her…’ the child continued as she looked into the peaceful eyes of the only friend she had ever known.

‘Yes. I love her too, child. Which is why I have to take her with me tomorrow.’

‘Oh…’ Nandini gasped at this statement. ‘…is it a hundred already?’

‘Yes. I had promised you a hundred. So now I have to keep my promise, right?’

‘Yeah...’ the girl responded her voice brimming with innocence.

‘But don’t worry. I will make her sister, your Paachi aunty, take care of you. You will love it there. You like Paachi aunty’s dog Jimmy right?’

‘Hmm…yeah…’ said Nandini as she played with his golden flute.

‘But always remember, dear’ he continued. ‘If you want to keep seeing me…you should never tell anyone about it okay? Don’t forget that. Will blue uncle’s little Nandini remember that?’

‘Yeah…okay...’ she said looking at his blue skin that shone even in the dark and scratching her puffed cheeks in short yawns.

‘Good girl. Now go to sleep, baby. It’s late,’ he said getting up. ‘Tomorrow make sure you cross the road near the school exactly three finger counts later, ok?’

‘Okay…’ she said as he counted her tiny fingers for her with his hands. ‘One…two…three.’

They both laughed at this with the familiarity of very old friends.

He kissed her on the forehead and walked away into the darkness once again with his saffron robe following his swift legs. She sat staring at the emerging black that surrounded her for a few minutes before collapsing into a deep slumber again.


© 2007. All rights reserved.
Thursday, August 23, 2007 3 reflections

Signs of happiness

THE TRAIN CHUGGED OUT OF Dybbølsbro at a rather lethargic pace. I was headed as usual back to Østerport to my studio apartment. After a hectic afternoon looking for the right kind of shoes, I had stopped for Italian pasta before washing it down with Coca Cola. I had shelled out a good amount of money for the total of ten things I had bought during my shopping spree but then, this is Europe. Nothing is cheap. Not even joy. I sat back gazing at the depressing roof tops that seemed more tragic under the cold and foggy Thursday afternoon.
The cabin I was in was dotted with all kinds of co-passengers. There was the well dressed yet tense seeming European gentleman who was busy punching in the keys of his cell phone. A couple of rows behind him sat a glum looking middle aged woman. She must have been quite taken from whatever it was she was reading since she sent out no hints of any expression. I wondered if she was reading only to avoid eye contact with strangers. In front of me sat a tired couple with an infant in the man’s arms. The infant looked as if it had been crying a lot with puffed up red cheeks and an inquisitive look. I smiled back at it and winked but it ignored my reaction and looked at its tiny toes instead with equal curiosity. A few more people sat peppered over other random spots either looking out the window in silent reflection or looking at each other in silent observation. So much to say but no words left anymore, it seemed.
As the train arrived at Nørreport station, a young couple walked in and sat in the row right opposite mine gesturing at each other with their hands. She was saying something interesting as he responded back with equal energy using his forefinger and palms. She would laugh with child-like innocence by covering her mouth as he would shake his head trying to convince her that he was right. Within a few moments their sign language had enveloped our cabin of silence. It was clear that everyone in that cabin was quite taken to this couple who seemed so much in love with each other. He even kissed her once as she continued giggling and enjoying his company. A few moments later she pulled out what looked like a sonogram report. With unbridled enthusiasm they both peered at the square-shaped photograph of what was presumably their first child. Each one in the cabin now focused on the couple and their bubble of exploding joy that seemed to exist without a care for the meaningless seeming world that surrounded it. The onlookers seemed envious but then they also seemed helpless. They continued waiting patiently for their stop as I got up to get down at mine.
At Østerport the train whizzed past me and I could still see the mute couple laughing and sharing their world of bliss. How odd, I thought, that in a few moments of silence they had shared more than anyone in that cabin ever could with spoken words. I walked out of the station wishing them the best of luck.
Love knows no language. Hate knows only one.
Sunday, August 19, 2007 2 reflections

The paths we take

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT empty roads that has always fascinated me. The view they create for the one who treads on them sometimes translates into so much more. Their triangular sloping face that seems to disappear into blissful nothingness. The majestically well aligned pathway that welcomes the traveler who has made a choice. I think for most people roads are about destinations – but the way I see it, they are about the journeys themselves. The reason I wanted to pen this feeling of mine was two fold. One, I wanted to rediscover that void in me that has been waiting for a complimentary feel of nothing to pass by it. Sometimes there is nothing more complete than a road that seems to have no travelers. And two, I have now actually started living in a place where such roads exist. In a world that is filled with the lack of space and patience, it is quite rare to find alleys that are both welcoming and not pretentious.

That said, I would like to document three such path ways that caught my attention today. I was on my walk towards a popular tourist spot in Copenhagen called ‘The Little Mermaid’. The fact that this place is always packed by eager tourists waiting to be snapped next to the statue of a nude mermaid is beyond logic. Nonetheless, I too decided to do my bit in being part of what is almost tradition in this city. Although I did not manage to get too close to the mermaid’s statue (since I somehow lost context of it and also there were so many click-happy cameras that I suddenly lost interest as well) I did manage to capture some serene pathways and alleys that reminded me of the difference between being alone and being lonely.

The first one here is a small shortcut that connects me from my apartment to Østerport station where I get my train to work each day. There is always the main road with its bustling action and whistling cyclists, but there is something about this rather quiet alley that seems to prepare me for the day. I have walked through it during a strong sun and an equally strong rainfall and both times – I felt cared for. The random graffiti that adorns the sides of this otherwise clean path seems to be symbolizing the two amazingly well hidden sides of this city – the submissive and the rebellion.

Second on my list is this pathway that leads to the ‘The Little Mermaid’ on Østerbrogade. Laced with overwhelmingly well aligned trees that seem to offer an ear to the silent soul and dotted with remarkably peaceful park benches, this path is definitely one for the lazy afternoon or the tired evening. The beauty this path oozes with can be seen only when the sun is filtering in through the friendly branches that look down upon many a soul that might pass it by. I almost made myself a promise today that I will visit this path each weekend and walk all the way till the end of the street just to be graced with the whistling shadows the trees so generously offer. I hope I am able to keep that word and contribute to the several hundreds of feet that adorn this pathway each passing day.

The final path I wish to share here is this one within the park itself. East to the ‘The Little Mermaid’ is this gravely road that bends and dances its way all over the green fabric that surrounds it. It cuts through several small man made ponds where mischievous ducks flap water on their peers as keen photographers try to capture the action in their lenses. This one too, like the other two, seems to offer more than just a shaded walkthrough.

I guess one has to be alone on such paths in life, to be able to relate with the lonely ones. Yes – the difference becomes increasingly clear in such silences that speak louder than words.

Here is to more such pathways that inspire just by existing. Alas! If only everything was this noble.


Monday, August 13, 2007 0 reflections

Endless Days

Endless Days
© 2007 / a short fiction by ShaKri

THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET ECHOED in his serene mind. The local Fate Pundit who would sit shrinking his aching lungs had proclaimed into the pimpled teen-ridden face of what was to come. Days of grandeur and nights of galore – a pristine combination of everything that was good and holy, would be his to command. His path to glory would find him soon, Fate Pundit declared while paving a path quite unfamiliar to the young lad. Strewn with honey-bathed concubines and damsels of beauty immaculate, Fate Pundit had continued, will be the road on which the lad’s sight would settle. No height too high, no peak too weak, the old bag went on while coughing his fluids into a shapeless pan, adding to the colorful tones of a rainbow that formed on the pimpled terrain.

The screaming neighbor’s relentless canine broke what was supposed to be a never-ending journey strung together with all sorts of pleasantries. And just like that, he knew it was day break.

His limbs found life as they worked in harmony to get him ready for the day. The words of Fate Pundit continued to echo inside him long after the aging spirit’s silhouette had vanished in a whirlpool of mixed emotions. Even as he splashed the ice cold water onto his warm face, the missing pimples reminded him of a timeline that had brought him so far. He looked at himself in the mercury framed on the wall and no longer wondered.

He no longer wandered.

Accompanied with a plethora of blessings he left his flaky-walled edifice. Stuck in between two other sorry looking peers, was this miserable excuse for a dwelling that he had acquired several moons ago. Soaked in disrepair and seeped in noises, it boasted of quite a diverse population. Leaking aqua-ducts and dying fire lights had done little to hinder the silk route that had been handed to him. A rare beam of overwhelming confidence graced his being as he took one well placed step after another. The smile that embraced and cradled his soul was a mere reflection of what he had known all along. He knew – he just knew – that nothing would stop from finding that nest of success he had worked so hard to achieve. For a lad barely out of his sexually curious years, he sure was going to find more reasons to make his kin proud. Those velvet-glazed nights of tears and fears that originated from his roots were now going to be cared for. The job at hand would find success as would everything else it was connected to.

He waited patiently at the usual bus stop with his briefcase. Polished with the best available shoe companion and adorned with the finest double-breasted suit on the market, he was quite the image of a perfect gentleman. His looks were what would bring him bliss, he was certain. It was all about making an impression, he was told.

Like a necklace sown together with different flowers, stood with him a flock from various corners. Eager beavers like him, working class folk with chatter for the road, whiny mothers with whinier children reluctant to be school-bound, necking couples who probably had a disorganized date ahead of them, studious young blood that buried its faces in Calculus and Discrete Mathematics as it seemed convinced it was all about what the pages proclaimed.

Yes. He saw them and all and smiled to himself at how similar they all looked. People with a purpose. People with a destination.

The state run public transport squeaked to a lazy halt during the next five minutes. The wanderers with a goal huddled behind one another in the hope of bagging a seat. He was seventh in line, he calculated, and smiled again – seven was his lucky number. He had arrived in the city on the seventh day of the seventh month of the twenty seventh year of his life. He had acquired a residence on the seventh floor that overlooked the seventh main road. He had seven pairs of underwear and the locker combination for his briefcase was 777. The day was the seventh of July and the time in his watch said 7:16AM.

Yes – this was definitely the day he had been waiting for. His attempts at impressions and attentions would finally find the much coveted reward that was so rightfully his. He had to be at the interviewer’s beeline at eight, so he had plenty of time.

Once the doors hissed their way open the curious line began it’s ascend. One after another, they shelled out currency and seated themselves in places they found by instinct. He let the elderly lady in front of him choose her seat and he settled down next to her. Her aging skin had reminded him of Fate Pundit and hence his decision to spend some time with the woman.

They exchanged quick smiles of courtesy and the bus moved on. Whistling past a yawning city it made its way to the City Center. He adjusted his silk tie that had a well-checkered design and propped his hair right once again.

‘Big day?’ asked the woman next to him noticing his care for the looks.

‘Yes. The biggest, in fact,’ he responded as the bus made its second stop.

More people, more reading, more chatting, more smiling, more laughing and definitely more goals. He continued to observe the ant hill of activity that was taking place on the ride. Self-absorbed and monotonous individuals with a reason to find the end of the day. They knew what they were up for. They were aware of what their day would look like. They were intensely at work with what they thought would bring them joy. Yes. They knew it all.

What they did not know, however, was what was going on with one of their co-passengers. A neatly dressed man ready for an interview of a lifetime. An eight o’ clock appointment that could not be missed. A year long preparation that would find fruit on this auspicious day. A world of endless beginnings would find only one common fate. What they were clueless about was the seven kilograms of the finest explosives that slept peacefully inside the case that was locked with a key marked seven-seven-seven. What they did not realize was that at exactly seven-forty-nine, just outside the bustling City Center, the prim looking man would bow his head down for a few seconds in silent recollection of the Fate Pundit and roll up the wheels on his fate folder to seven-seven-seven. What they sat oblivious of was the fact that in the following heartbeat, the bus, the passengers, the street, the neighborhood, the shops, the bystanders, the sidewalk, the street signs and the road will be strewn with mayhem and death. What they did not figure out was that their day, as they knew it, would never end.

‘It has been a pleasure being with you. Please wish me luck,’ he said to the aging soul who sat looking at the passing streets like an interesting painting of her life.

‘Certainly dear,’ she said as she kissed his forehead. ‘I wish you the best with everything you have planned for yourself. May the Almighty bless you with all that is holy and good.’ He acknowledged it with an affectionate smile as he proceeded to bow for a quick prayer.

The children had gathered for their morning breakfast at the school near the City Center when the clock tower struck seven-forty-nine. This day would never find its end.


Saturday, August 11, 2007 1 reflections

Handcuffed To Liberty

My personal record so far of experimentations with super-short fiction. I had earlier attempted two variations - one of 100 words and the other of 75 words. Now I dare to venture into a piece stitched with just 60 valuable words that bring a tale to you. I hope this attempt is successful.


Handcuffed to liberty
© ShaKri / 2007

Strange drum rolls echoed through the moist interiors. Her shell was being cajoled by alien noises. A haven of dull silence wrapped in warmth melted into the approaching light. Safe darkness was invaded by the C-shaped gate that grew with each passing pulse. Soon there was cacophony as she silently left her host. She had found liberty – the girl child.
Monday, August 06, 2007 2 reflections

Separated At Birth

Dear Reader,

I had challenged myself a few months ago to pen something eloquent in just 75 words. It began with 100 words - Love at every flight - and so this was one more step in that direction. Although I stopped attempting more of these, thought those who visit this blog could check this one out. I have one more attempt that took only 60 words...but thats next.


Separated At Birth
© ShaKri / 2007

The light that chose direction stood awaiting its peer’s response. The girl in the automobile continued to stare motionlessly at the outstretched palm in front of her. A mirror image looked back at her with a familiar emotion. Eyes that seemed to wonder at how they were so near yet could not be further away. Different beings from completely opposite universes sharing a common moment. The vehicle’s position changed with the lights but little else.

Saturday, August 04, 2007 3 reflections

That 'F' Word

That ‘F’ Word
© 2007 / ShaKri

I STILL REMEMBER THE FROWN of uncertainty on my face when I had heard of this bizarre seeming ritual. Known for his practical jokes, I was somehow convinced that my friend was pulling a fresh one. I mean, come on, can there really be a day called ‘Friendship Day’? What does that even mean? A day set aside for a bunch of people to go ‘Oh right! I just realized we are friends so let’s go out and get something to eat. While we do that we can exchange some cards with pleasantries printed and move on with our lives.’ Yes. This is how I had imagined the day back then and in some ways I still do.

But you know what they say. Nothing remains the same for too long. This goes mostly for humans than any other living being. With time, perceptions and attitudes change – they evolve. I cannot claim that this is a universal theory but from what I have seen, it has come true. So with time my opinion about this ‘Friendship Day’ also evolved. No, I did not hop on to the next Hallmark depot and pile on a dozen cards and gifts. Instead I decided to live and let live. So what if I don’t ‘celebrate’ it. I am sure there are millions who can use this day as an excuse to be with a friend. Fair enough.

As the sun rises on yet another one of these, I find myself at a crossroad. Next year by now I would have bid farewell to my twenties and hopefully greeted that special someone who I shall vow to spend my life with. Come August 2008 I’d have probably re-designed the circle of friends I have by keeping in touch with some while letting the others go.

I don’t know.

But if there is anything this day has taught me it is this. Each year I find my circle of trust being filtered. There was a time when I was in my early twenties and I had dozens of people inside that circle. With experiences and passing seasons, I have learnt to choose. I have taught myself the hard way that knowing someone and being their friend are two completely different propositions. I guess this is why the people who now sit in my circle of trust seem so precious to me. I don’t have to call them everyday but when I do they always pick up the phone. I don’t have to tell them they are unique but when I speak they understand. I don’t have to tell them when I am sad because the moment I say ‘hello’ they say ‘what’s wrong?’

When I look back from here I smile at this grand realization. Everyone offers an ear but only some offer their heart. I hope you get to spend this day with those people since it seems like they are a dying breed.

Happy Friendship Day.


2 reflections

From Kobenhavn With Love

From Kobenhavn With Love
© 2007, ShaKri

I LOOK AROUND MY NEW APARTMENT and a sense of belonging has already begun. It has been a little over 36 hours since my arrival into this new domain and yet an absurd feeling of nostalgia engulfs me from within. It has been a little over four hours since I muscled up two large bags of groceries into my new nest yet it feels like I have been doing this forever. The same emotion, but a new color apparently. The same sense of independent lethargy yet a different shade.

I was walking around a buzzing commercial street called Ostergade today. From what little I have seen so far one thing I can tell – Copenhagen is for everyone. Despite the various notions of the culture shocks I had heard of, everyone I have met so far has been anything but shocked. Be it the random lady who I sheepishly approached with an address in Hellerup today morning or the giggling teenager who told me I was walking on the bicycle lane this afternoon near Osterport Train station. It was fun to exchange a genuine smile of foreign-ness in a place like this. What also helps this alien cause of mine has been the fact that everyone speaks perfect English here! A concept quite lost in my good old Caracas that I am finding harder to put behind already.

The city is a cyclist paradise. Almost everyone cycles here and seems to enjoy it too. What else would one expect from a country that is so flat! I am already tempted to buy one myself as I see men and women of almost all ages kick on the pedals and disappear into the shadows of the quiet alleys near my house. I almost hired one today morning just for kicks but then decided against it when I realized I did not have a destination. On second thought, I guess that is what is so amazing about a bicycle – not knowing where you are headed.

It is 9:00PM right now yet the sun shines in all its glory as if it were 3:00PM. I had had this experience earlier in Riga. Back then I was 24 and had laughed at this bizarre concept of day and night with a fellow colleague. Now I am 29 and the same concept seems almost philosophical in nature – a longer day each day. More sun for me than others, it seems. But I am sure tables will be turned on me come October once winter sets in well and I will be yearning for a little part of the solar powerhouse. Be that as it may, it seems alright.

As I boarded the flight from Bangalore on Wednesday morning something strange happened. For the first time in all my journeys so far, I had felt – nothing. This is quite unusual. All my journeys home have been filled with hope and never ending expectations while every flight out of it have been of nervous anticipation and a feel of blatant energy loss just at the thought of getting back to work. I guess this is why people move around the globe as much as they do in search of new opportunities. To get rid of that nagging feel of the familiar. I guess this is what adventure feels like – nothing. Come what may I will manage, it seems to feel.

If you look past the physical stress of having to load up 40 kilos worth of supplies from India up 5 floors of an elevator-less building, there has not been much I have felt exhausted about. Among other notable things it also turns out that throughout the Scandanavian peninsula and Denmark, tap water is fresh drinking water. ‘No problem! It is perfectly fine’ were the wise words tumbling out of a neighbor’s mouth today. Felt odd at first but now I am already yearning for some of that tapped glory.

I have begun enjoying my experience here. And I know in the coming months there will be plenty of surprises. Some decent ones and others – the mostly kind – nasty ones. But I guess the real flavor of being an international traveler is being able to adapt quickly to something than before. I know I have already done more things here than I did in my first three days in Caracas. Ah! How quickly we grow up, don’t we?

Here is to a few more nuggets of wisdom that I am certain will find me soon. Until that happens, this Kannadiga continues to survive in Kobenhavn.



Monday, July 16, 2007 1 reflections

Skin Trouble

Skin Trouble
© 2007, ShaKri

BEFORE YOU, dear reader, make the effort to decipher what mystical zone I attempt to explore this time allow me to tell you about this man I know. Let us call him – Scotty. Scotty is from New Zealand and is currently employed with a firm in the United Kingdom. And one day he decides to make a trip to the boiling curry pot - India. A few surprises and confusions later he boards the bus to see the Taj Mahal from New Delhi one bright morning.

What I have just shared with you might not sound too far fetched for a foreigner. Almost everyone who is an alien to our land pretty much does the same thing. With their backpacks laden with all their belongings from the hotel room, they roam each street and observe each corner trying to immerse themselves into that magic they seem to have been promised. They smile when we smile. They look away when we frown.

What made me think about these foreigners is my encounter with Scotty. If you haven’t already guessed then yes – I was on the same bus towards the Taj under a merciless summer sun last month. The moment we got out of the air conditioned Volvo bus, the air outside enveloped us as if we were being given a warm (quite!) hug. As I paced along towards the wonder of the world, I managed to get acquainted with Scotty. He was in India on official business and was traveling to Agra for the first time. He was married to a Hispanic girl from Colombia and was into database administration for a communication network. I, being a techie myself, found several dots to connect in that fifteen minute walk we took. It seemed that Scotty and I had several things in common. Both of us were living in countries away from home. He in the UK and me in Denmark. Both of us were global nomads. Both of us enjoyed the same professional choices we had made and yes – both of us were in love with our families. We exchanged courteous humor as we unconsciously bonded in this brief encounter. For a moment…we were so alike.

The moment we approached the main entrance to the Taj Mahal was when it happened. I was shocked to realize that ‘foreigners’ (read people with skin that did not look ‘Indian’) had to cough up Rs.750/- to see the same spectacle I would relish for Rs.25/-. Right then…with that one gesture we were as different as we could get. What made me sad was that we who whine about being racism targets abroad were doing the same thing ourselves.

Ironic, I thought and moved on.

Sunday, July 15, 2007 3 reflections

namma Metro? Really?

namma Metro? Really?
© By Shashi Krishna

THE BUZZWORD WHEN I was in Bangalore last summer was 'Metro'. As my enthusiastic father filled me in on the 'namma metro' project, I too, like most of my fellow Bangaloreans, basked in the joy of being part of such convenience and style. One more jewel in Bangalore's headdress, I thought. Gone would be the days of three-wheeled robbery of our hard earned income and the never ending struggle to use decent public transportation. No more would one frown upon just the thought of getting out of the house when images of traffic beyond logic would flash in their minds. A perfect answer, it seemed, to an age old puzzle.

But that was last year. This summer, I happened to be in New Delhi for a few days. While there a resident suggested that I try out their local metro system. 'You absolutely must take a ride in our Metro,sir' – he said with a grin that went all the way back to Bangalore's noisy morning streets. I frowned, bringing cynicism back into my eyes, since I was certain that in four years of its existence, Delhi Metro would have become a place haunted by the incorrigible lack of civic sense we are infamous for the world over. The unmistakable hint of human refuse laced with the decorative patterns of paan masala and other colorful outputs we paint our best cities with were sure to greet me into this joyride I was being promised. The moment I began my descent into the Metro station at Rajeev Chowk, I was bracing myself for a nightmare. Or worse.

And then it happened. It was like a roaring fresh water stream in the heart of an intense rainforest. Right there in the middle of the humming interiors of the Delhi Metro, I had an epiphany. India is what it is because of its citizens. If we really want to maintain something well, then we do. If we don't want to, then we ensure it is abused from all corners. The reason I was exploding with such reflections was because Delhi's Metro system is better (and I say this because I have been there too) than England's Underground tube system. Those of you who just rolled your eyes at that statement need to head to Delhi sometime and you will see for yourself. Coming from a madman race we call traffic in Bangalore, Delhi Metro seemed like a well choreographed ballet to me. It did not seem to matter how many tens of thousands were traveling at one time since each one of them was paying attention to instructions and following rules. The interiors of the gleaming stations and the trains roaring past patient passengers were clean and pleasant. People were displaying such responsible behavior that I could do nothing more than cringe at the thought of a similar scene back home.

In all my travels in Bangalore over the past few weeks I have seen nothing but serious traffic violations. Everything from accidents due to rash driving, honk crazy motorists, inconsiderate and impatient four wheel drivers, horrific overtaking, lack of helmet use with the police in sight, verbal abuse of people who actually do follow the rules, irresponsible jay walking and many more! I smiled in wonderment as I could not imagine Bangaloreans behaving in such orderly fashion even if it meant being part of something as grand and global as a well planned Metro system. Having gotten used to reckless chaos, orderliness could possibly be our biggest challenge.

Bangalore is definitely ready for the Metro… but are Bangaloreans?


Sunday, July 08, 2007 2 reflections

The Complete Outsider

EVERY DREAM HAS A PRICE is an expression that echoes in my mind as I pen this piece. Whoever knew that being able to achieve something noble in life would bring so much disappointment? What wisdom would spread the halo for the fact that success in one meant failure in the other? Which tree should I have sat under and attained an enlightening that being away from home would mean being away from almost everything?

Things were not always like this. Earlier in my much adored ‘NRI’ life, friends and family seemed a lot closer from my apartment in Caracas than they had ever seemed when I was among them. Whenever I came here, as sporadically as that might have been, I always felt welcome. There was no place in the world that has this effect on me. Home is after all home and there is nothing that can replace it.


But is this a variable? What happens when a person reaches a stage in life when the definition that holds this variable in place starts to dwindle? What if home no longer feels like one? How can one possibly try and explain the fact that despite the love and affection, in spite of the obvious shades of genuine friendship in the air, one still wants more? There is no easy answer for this. Why? Because people living at home will never be able to understand what it means to be an outsider.

I returned home this summer again. Loads of plans, tons to do, exciting and prioritized goals in mind. But a week into my stay at home and I started realizing that nine out of ten plans were almost impossible to do. Why? Because no one had time for me anymore and hence my wants were now minimal.

I suddenly figured out my role in this 5-week play I host each summer. I was an outsider now. Officially I was no longer part of the local crowd who knew it all. I didn’t know the jokes, I was unfamiliar with the slang and I could no longer call people just because I felt like it. Everything was now a planned timetable that I was supposed to follow. Relationships were now an appointment I had to keep.

A tear escaped my dry eye as the facts of this story fell into place. I no longer had any circle of trust left. No one shared their secrets with me. No one considered me their confidant. I had missed out so many weddings, parties, reunions and engagements for so many years that now no one missed me anymore. I was no longer the inside man. I was the outsider…the complete outsider.

I sigh now as I finish this piece since I know that in a few weeks I will be wrapped in a new job, a new city, a new life and yet no one will probably understand what that’s like for me. I am afraid this is the consequence of my dream – a bitter one at best as I head out of this nothingness once more.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 0 reflections

The truth about Aliens

The truth about Aliens
© 2007 / a short fiction by ShaKri

THIS DAY WAS NO DIFFERENT from the ones before. At exactly 18:33 Earth time he sat down to eat in his transparent forty-feet square. The feminine being who was the supervisor for his floor walked in as usual and took her seat outside the brightly lit box. One of her jobs was to ensure he ate his food properly without any leftovers.

‘You know,’ he said biting into a juicy piece of spiced chicken, ‘I have done this for a while now. I know how it works. You don’t have to be here. It makes me nervous.’

She smiled back as she had always done at his attempts at being funny.

‘You sit there and watch me eat,’ he continued with focus on the transparent tray in front of him while sniffing loudly under the effect of the spice, ‘and I begin my rain of questions. You respond when you feel like and in a few minutes it is all over.’

She slowly nodded in approval.

He chuckled as he quickly wiped his nose and looked at her. ‘The irony of this whole thing though is that you listen to me closely each time despite being able to read my thoughts even before I have had them! I have to appreciate that.’

She broke into a short lived giggle as she continued listening to his ramble.

‘Well…’ he said burping a little ‘back where I come from…it is customary to talk during a meal. Supposed to be a therapeutic thing. Helps in the digestion or something. Doesn’t it?’

‘I suppose,’ she responded with a deep set sight and a perfected tone.

‘Whoa!’ he screamed as he slapped his left hand against his right wrist.

‘How about that!’ he continued looking at her smiling eyes ‘…the big boss decides to speak without tedious coaxing. Sitting there humoring the ‘little one’. That can only mean one thing. Is it the fifteenth already?’

‘Yep. You know how it is, little one.’

‘Hmm…’ he slowly said as the coleslaw entered his system.

‘Well,’ she continued breathing deeply, ‘you are the eighth one we have brought here for our case study. And by the protocol we have here, we don’t keep your kind if it does not want to be here. We explain to it where we are and what we do, but then it is up to the specimen to decide to stay or leave. We believe in democracy too.’

‘Oh yeah,’ he said winking back a little, ‘quite the contrary of what we feel about you guys, eh!’

‘Yes. Besides everything else your kind seems to think of about life outside your little watery marble.’

‘Hey now!’ he retorted amusingly, ‘don’t call my beloved home a marble. It is a place filled with something unique and something….’

‘Yeah yeah,’ she interrupted faking a yawn, ‘…love? Is that your only cliché argument for calling yourselves unique? We have that here too. That is why you have enjoyed it so far.’

‘Uh…’ he responded with uncertainty ‘…sure…we can go with love.’

‘We can read your thoughts, little one. I know you were referring to the reproducing fest your species calls S-E-X.’

He roared another guffaw as he slapped his thigh in glee.

‘Man…I love this place. You see why I don’t want to leave it? What conceivable reason would a human have to leave a place where one does not have to hide anything? Where every pleasure of life is given and there is no pain or grief! Where freedom of speech actually means freedom from speech! This is paradise. For me anyway’ he said with a euphoric tone in his voice.

‘Yes…’ she observed ‘…I realized that when you took off your clothes on being told where you were and never put them back on.’

‘Hey,’ he sat back as the food tray was retrieved ‘you can’t kill a guy for making a smart choice, now can you?’

‘Yeah,’ she said getting up and coming closer to his box ‘…about that…I have been told to give you some new information.’

‘Of course. What is it today? That you guys have a fifth gender?’ he asked wiping his mouth with a crisp napkin.

‘No. Nothing about us this time. It is about your…how did you call it … ‘smart’ choices’.

‘What about it?’ he probed as he picked his teeth with a well carved toothpick.

‘I am afraid we have not been completely honest with you, little one.’

His cheerful shades of bliss descended a little. ‘Go on…’ he said getting up and walking towards the speaking shadow.

‘You see,’ she continued with the same confident pitch ‘you folks – humans – have been sending us signals for almost…oh…a century now. In fact more than that. I remember the first reports of satellite waves originating from your land interfered with our communication radar over a hundred and fifty Earth years ago. It was a day of absolute celebration, little one. Our question for thousands of centuries of whether or not there was someone else co-existing with us, was finally answered. We planned to respond since you were the first sphere to contact us. We even prepared a few messenger fleets to travel and visit your land as cultural ambassadors. Rigorous research was done in order to find out more about your people and to establish a common code of communication. We realized it was the idiom English that you respond to the best. So we even had an elaborate plan to make this the most memorable experience of our existence. An actual interaction with an intelligent species from another part of the galaxy…’

She paused for him to absorb this information.

‘OK…’ he shrugged indicating her to go on ‘…so what happened?’

‘I remember it like it was yesterday. One of our assistants - who was also scheduled to be on the visiting team - came with the news.’

‘News? What news?’ asked the ‘little one’ with a big question on his face.

‘We found out some things about you that suddenly made us reconsider our decision. We found out you believe in war. That was the biggest one. We did not understand how an intelligent and superior seeming race could possibly believe in subjugation and tyrannical occupation of their co-existing or weaker kind. We realized there had been innumerable disputes over the years that had resulted in only one thing – sorrow. The emotion of avarice and power-hunger was so rampant in your place that it quite frankly shocked us. Your self-absorbed, judgmental, racist, pretentious, shallow, war mongering juggernaut of a species lost all its appeal. We saw footage of you people brutally killing those who had something true to say. You hate those who preach to you yet you people are always the first ones to opine about everything. And why not? You know it all, don’t you? You are hypocritical and contradictory without even realizing it.

‘The infinite seeming thirst for your finite natural resources seemed to ascend at an alarming rate. Your intolerance to others of your kind who believe in a different faith grows twice as much with each speech someone gives about peace and harmony. Sure…this emotion of yours seems to slowly improve with each generation but just the fact that you people allowed its existence seemed irrational to us. You people call your second gender – woman – the fairer kind just so that you can be unfair to her at every given opportunity. You take one step forward but three steps backward with every new innovation that makes an appearance.’

He continued to listen with his mouth shut and eyes wide open.

‘Should I go on?’ she asked to ensure all this explanation was worth it.

‘Uh…yeah …what else?’

‘Alright. Illiteracy, poverty, pollution, slavery, rights abuse and corruption. Despite having existed for so many centuries your kind could not get a firm control on any of these. With each passing Earth year, you people publish your greatest achievements all over the place while hiding the most heinous atrocities you have levied upon each other. Man-made prisons overflow with beings awaiting justice by another man. Your idea of equality is to make the rich richer and keep the poor scrubbing your filth. Your writers, your reporters, your media…everyone is used as a formality with varying degrees of what you call success. Tell me, little one, what kind of a success can be complete if the same mistake is committed over and over again? Your governing bodies decide who belongs where and that hierarchy keeps some happy while others weep blood. You do not trust anyone. Not even yourselves. Is it not?’

He let out a deep sigh. He had no real answer but he had to say something.

‘Listen…we know we are not perfect. We have our share of flaws and shortcomings. We are defective and different. But that is what makes us unique! That is what is special about us! Do you fail to realize how amazingly diverse we are? The literature, the arts, the music, the personalities, the sciences, the economics….oh my good Lord! What a vibrant society we are!’

‘You see,’ she smiled back disapprovingly. ‘You have just given me a reason for why we never bothered to respond back. None of what you have heard so far has anything to do with a human’s inborn personality. Everything you heard so far was learnt, applied, taught and then abused. What is so diverse about this? How is a corrupt Asian different from a corrupt European? What differentiates a malnourished infant in Africa to another in Latin America? They both will die similar deaths soon while calling for their mother in separate tongues. Is this your idea of being different? Listen closely, little one, making boundaries and speaking a different language is not what we call diversity. Co-existing with tolerance and respect despite this difference is what really matters to us. But you already know that. Yet the root of your people’s troubles seems to stem out of ignoring this. You could not care less about things that do not affect you personally. The day it does you are up in arms against the very system that you proclaimed was your protector.’

‘But…’ he suddenly interrupted ‘…that’s just it! We need someone like you – a higher and much advanced kind to come and help us with this inconsistent redundancy we have with mistakes! We want to learn how you people co-exist in such harmony despite having four genders and a million communication modes! We need that knowledge that will help us progress and develop into a much evolved…and safer place like yours! Utopia!’

She laughed out loud. A clear and piercing hiss that puzzled the naked specimen in front of her.

‘My friend was right’ she continued ‘…humans are hilarious. Let me tell you what will happen if we do come over. Chances of that happening now are so remote that you might actually be the last one of your kind we will bother observing for a very long time. Yet, listen to it.

‘Some facts we had not realized when we first began our findings about your place. The first section of your kind to become financially cozier is your media. Television, Internet and the rest of them. They will make it the biggest story in your land’s entire history. They will add all sorts of incorrect and alarming inaccuracies about us, our lifestyle, our beliefs and even our way of reproduction. Our impressions will be on every T shirt and shopping bag on Earth. You will make us meet all the important men and women of your land. Interviews, photo shoots, music videos and hell, even one of your entertainment movie streams will have us parading ourselves. Of course, being humans, you will want to know what we expect in return. Needless to say since your monetary value has no significance here we will have to think of something that suits us best. Right now, little one, we have no idea about that.

‘The ones who do believe we exist will have a field day with this news and paint every wall with that stereotypical ‘Question answered! We are not alone!’ slogan. How much more predictable can you folks get! Of course, the flip side also exists. How can those who can’t stand their own kind tolerate us! They will file lawsuits demanding our immediate expelling and possible execution. Threats to bring down any governing state that supports our arrival will be made as citizens of the land hold firearms at their heads outside secretariats and parliaments. The chaos that this will evoke will only lead to more mass hysteria as the common man suffers. More pain to the common man. No. We cannot allow us to be the reason for that, little one.

‘They will take out a million-man march and protest against our landing while crippling every working unit in that place. The consequences of this event will be so catastrophic; you have no idea. An entire planet will come to a standstill because a few guests from another land came by to say hello. You will make us sign deals that mean nothing to us and try your best to steal everything we are capable of. With time, power hotshots will make us brand ambassadors for a beverage or an under garment and will make millions at our expense. They will sell the same bathing soaps with another texture and color while proclaiming we keep our skins young forever using the same formula. Artists will write songs on us and shoot music videos of them serenading in front of our look-alikes. Since you guys find salvation to your petty lives with self-gratification you will give each other meaningless awards and proclaim you are the kings of the universe. Your roads will be named after us and maybe an entire entertainment center will be designed just for us. A man whose millions could not help survive a dying village will ensure our names are made history for all of mankind’s future. Should I continue?’

The ‘little one’ was no longer enthused about the conversation. He sat back and looked into the nothingness that surrounded him as he reflected on the words coming out of the feminine voice.

‘Huh,’ he responded after a brief pause. ‘So you have ignored us all along,’ he finally said after a few Earth minutes of inexplicable silence.

‘That is correct. We might have still visited you after all had you not made us look like monsters and flesh-eating demons in your entertainment streams. The villain. The one to despise. That just hurt our feelings, little one. What was even sadder that you people were so clueless that what you were really showcasing as fiction … was an image of yourselves. Violent, self serving and intolerant. So we dropped the idea altogether. You have to admit, we saved you a lot of grief. And definitely ourselves too.’

‘Well…’ he said walking back to his seat ‘…looks like you have given up all hope on us. Sort of ironic for a much advanced and wise kind like yours, don’t you think?’

‘Ironic? You think we should come there and tell you what to do and how to be? Even we realize that you people are not that dense. Another preacher with a message is the last thing you want. You already know what you have to do yet you don’t for reasons of your own. The day all your reasons become one, little one, we would love to stop by. Not visiting you has brought us displeasure too. Especially since we were so excited about it ourselves.’

‘Hmm….hey…what about those videos of UFOs and crop circles and what not? Were they all a fake?’

She smiled. She knew this was a long awaited question from the little mortal.

‘Most of those videos are figments of your imagination, little one. And the ones that are real are ships that lost their way while traveling. They were there by mistake. And the crop circles…well…it’s a message we left for you in all our idioms. A shame indeed that you have not yet deciphered it despite your knowledge.’

‘Message? What does it say?’ he asked once again with sincere curiosity.

‘Those symbols mean – Do Not Bother. The day you people crack that code we will consider a step taken in the right direction.’

‘I see,’ he said looking away with a faint grin. ‘Fine. When can I go home?’ he asked for the first time since his arrival.

‘What a surprise!’ she exclaimed without hiding her glee. ‘The little one wants to go home! Whatever happened to smart choices?’

‘You don’t think it’s a smart choice for me to get back and tell my people about all this? Don’t they deserve to know? You wont help them, fine. Why can’t I try?’

She shook her head in amusing disbelief.

‘Amazing!’ she said getting up to leave, ‘I guess what they really study here is your ego. It never ceases to grow, does it? Fine! From your mouth to their ears. If you can get them to believe you, then you can definitely make a difference. But then Earth is the last place we will look for traces of hope, belief and trust. We have found vegetations with more abundance of those things.’

He looked back morosely with just one more obvious question left.

‘How did you choose me? Why me? Out of so many billions…why me?’ he asked in quiet desperation.

‘Oh! Finally! We were surprised you had never asked us that before. We had a mass raffle. We always do before we are assigned Earth missions. Your name was the first one we picked.’

The bright rectangle opened up again for her to leave.

‘We will wait, little one,’ she said as she began her exit. ‘We will patiently wait for the day your place becomes a true metaphor for life – the word you seem to be proud of being the sole owners of. We will wait.’

She left the area as silently as she had entered. She left the ‘little one’ to his thoughts as he sat there.

Naked. Alone. Alien.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 1 reflections

Close encounters of the child kind

© 2007 / Slice of Life by ShaKri

BEFORE ANYONE WOULD ROLL THEIR eyes at his remarks, Sagar knew it was coming. The hidden, sometimes obvious, smirk of ‘we know better than you’ that young couples with diaper coloring infants gave him was now getting old. Being one of the very few single men he knew, he had to spend a good part of his socializing with these married and ‘Oh so wise’ people. Just by being themselves, they were sending a message that would annoy the hell out of Sagar. The way they spoke of their experiences, their humor that was nowhere near funny but forced Sagar to giggle at them like it was the funniest thing he had ever heard et al. O! Reader, it was a drag. Patronizing wives and half-hearted conversations later, Sagar would come home and fall on his understanding bed and talk to it to ensure he was still sane. That he was right in the way he felt.

But let us first see Sagar’s side of things before we too join the vast population of ‘eye rollers’ he is so familiar with. The only feminine presence and influence in his life was his mother. A doting father and a chummy brother were the only close associates he had had to grow up with. Being the nomadic kind, his family had seen all of the country’s major hot spots. Also the fact that Sagar’s only sibling was just about a year younger did not help the much talked about rivalry factor. There wasn’t one. His years of exploration had never seen his friends circle grow too well since his head was always in the arts. He painted, sang, would sketch some fascinating caricatures of everyone around him, spun tales in ink and dabbled with poetry. He was a true Piscean. Living in his own world of goblins and superheroes, Sagar’s skills came to him as naturally as eating.

He spoke when spoken to and did what was asked of him. At home when a dozen relatives came with their cacophony and gossip, Sagar would sit in a corner chatting with his cousins and explaining to them his latest cartoon character creation – ChocoBoy. Apparently a spin-off of Spiderman except ChocoBoy would shoot out streams of chocolate laced with walnuts and almonds. The wide-eyed cousin clan – needless to say – loved ChocoBoy and his creator. Nothing else mattered. Sagar just did not care about the rest of the world around him.

And this might as well have been a long drawn truth for him had he not been on the West-bound flight at the tender age of twenty-two. No sooner had he kept his colored crayons down to wipe his nose that he found his hands wiping his mouth with a Lufthansa-logo bearing napkin. His transition from a confused teenager to a responsible adult was so quick, that he missed out on several things. Job, career, family responsibilities kicked in so well that Sagar’s world of stories and glories faded into a mirage of the horizon where reality is no longer real. It just appears to be.

The added heat in this already spiced up curry-pot of Sagar’s social life, was these unexpected encounters with children.

He still remembers with an odd frown the first time he had had the ‘pleasure’ of meeting one. He had been invited during his first month abroad to an Indian couples’ family. The one thing Sagar knew was this – couples don’t care about single people. They call them over just to keep things well buffered. Do they really care what the single folks do with their time? No chance. Will they genuinely pay attention to what the singular soul has to share about his day? Doubtfully. So needless to say along with him were two more set of couples were invited. To keep things, as Sagar called it, balanced. In his heart of hearts he knew the truth as much as they did – couples enjoy other couples’ company. Period.

‘What will he cook tonight? Poor chap. Let’s call him and feed him. We might even allow him to talk and pretend to listen! He can walk away feeling he was cared for!’ was how Sagar envisioned their planning process.

Yet there he was, sitting in the well lit, décor-heavy living room on a couch that was softer than the skin on a young woman’s thigh. Ah! A feel that never fades. Feeding himself well roasted samosas and listening to the idle chatter the folks were relentlessly pounding him with, he was happy he was getting something out of all this. Good food.

But then it came. Initially he did not know how to respond. But when the tiny pair of eyes and soft hands came to him for a ‘handshake the uncle’ routine he suddenly knew two things. One, he was now officially an Uncle. Two, he had never shaken hands with an eight year old before. It was like he was suddenly being introduced to someone from a completely different universe. He knew nothing of the protocol he was expected to follow.

Mumbling a simple ‘hello there…child…’ he smiled back at the gawking face and shook an awkwardly angled limp hand. Instead of moving on the face continued looking back at him in mute wonder. ‘Good lord, kid! Move on!’ he screamed from within while decorating a well placed grin on his lips. And it did. After a little coaxing from the watchful parent. ‘Phew!’ sighed Sagar as his pleasant evening had just turned into a bizarre one. His cautious self-respecting demeanor had been thrown into the open pitted against a human being who was about a third of his age and a fourth his height.

‘OK guys…’ crooned the proud mother ‘…now Bela baby will play a tune for us!’

Sagar could not believe this was happening. One more surprise! He suddenly regretted having accepted the invitation. Those samosas weren’t worth this, he said to himself. ‘Mom makes better ones,’ he summarized with a subtle pout.

And so the kid hopped onto the piano and began its recital. A popular, well known, loud and predictable tune from a Bollywood movie. Sigh! If only the kid had enthralled Sagar with a Mozart he would have gone and kissed the kid’s feet with genuine respect. Instead he sat there for four grueling minutes surrounded by air filled with the same ten second tune repeated a dozen times. At times off key and at other times with inexplicable gaps of silences filled by the mother’s comforting ‘Go on sugar. Go on sweetie…’ word waves. He looked around and found the other couples nodding their heads and genuinely appreciating the piece. He was immediately convinced – marriage makes people tone-deaf.

He came home that day at around 2am (o! the dinner was after the recital so they did not begin until 11pm.) and threw himself on the assuring bed once more.

‘Jee-zus Christ! What a night baba…uff…’

‘Really?’ asked the bed reassuringly.

‘Oh! Yes. I thought it would never end. It is official. I hate kids.’

‘Oh come on,’ debated his bed knowing him too well ‘you are going to be a parent one day too. And you will know what to do. Kids are great.’

‘O! Shut up,’ he continued as he flung away his shoes and wriggled out of his tired jeans, ‘…you weren’t there. I am not doing THAT again. Phew. What a night…kill me…just kill me now…’ he murmured as a deep veil of sleep held him in place.

Much to the bed’s notorious glee and to Sagar’s infinite seeming grief…he did it again. Several times. The only major allure being of a gastronomic nature. He sat through dances, songs, more piano recitals and of course, games involving him having to ‘hop’ from one spot to another with a lot of patience. Once he even had to carry a nine year old since the father insisted. Sagar had actually enjoyed it the first seven seconds before his hand started getting heavy and pain engulfed his entire arm. He let the kid down only to find another one looking back at him with its hands up in the air. ‘Me! Me!’

‘I seriously hope that bed was right,’ he said to himself as he threw a punch in the air to get rid of the gnawing sprain ‘or else I am taking it out and burning it with my own hands. I don’t mind sleeping on the floor.’

‘Yeah yeah…hang on…’ he said picking up the next one only to shockingly realize it had soiled its trousers and a strong whiff of massive disorientation entered his fragrance-friendly nostrils.

Sagar now no longer hated just kids. He also wasn’t thrilled about parenting either.


Monday, April 23, 2007 1 reflections

[Short Short Fiction] - Love at every flight

NOTE: Short Short Fiction - A new style writing that attempts to capture a story in as few words as possible. Usually it is 300 but to push my own narrative style, I have tried to condense it in 100. As my respected reader, I urge you to please respond and critique this work. Thank you.

His lover was a splitting image of his own being. The unmistakable wobble, the distinctive flap, the familiar cry. He had been smitten by that beauty the day he had found home inside the steel castle. They had shared several priceless moments of joy and grief with equal energy.

The only moment of passion they shared was when the metallic walls disappeared. Every day. A short lived interaction that kept him alive.

The little girl approached his castle once again and released him for a few heartbeats. In an instance he soared within the enclosure and crashed into the mirror…again.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 0 reflections

Nandini by night

And so she scribbled in absolute fury ‘must show betrayal…MUST!’ and underlined the second appearance of the word after circling it. To be able to show something that slaps the person seeing it and commands attention was what she was seeking. Her task for the day.


The silent silk curtains danced a dull ballet to the soft breeze that held them and carried them around the limited real estate. The bright orange that burnt the blue outside had turned charcoal black and left a numb feeling to the beauty the sky boasted of each sunrise. The mini-bar gazed back affectionately at the sulking silhouette of a woman on the couch in the main living room. It had been motionless for a while now. Nothing had stirred since the last time something had been scribbled on the coffee-stained notepad a few minutes ago.

Nandini looked out at the cold nothingness and wearily got up. She flung the notepad mercilessly on the spotless glass-top table and walked towards the spacious balcony that overlooked almost all of the Queen’s Necklace. Standing on the twelfth floor of the marvelous residential complex for a moment she forgot her role in the universe. She wrapped her arms around herself and frowned in subtle frustration.

She had to find out…soon.

‘Must!’ she screamed and walked back into the apartment. Expensive china and imported liquor seemed to look at each other and stretch their arms out to help. But even they knew that nothing could aid the woman at this point. This was her process and she had to do it on her own.

‘OK…!’ she said out loud and started pacing up and down the drafty room.

‘So let’s see. She is a working class woman…about twenty seven years old…no wait…lets make it thirty-five. No one wants too much cliché….’

She hopped back to the brown-themed and dog-eared notepad and started scribbling on a fresh page.

‘Hmm…and she is with some government funded agency…single child to her parents…brought up with love and affection…arranged married to a mediocre office assistant….makes a tight amount of money….hmm…what else…’

She lazily strolled up to the bar and shot down whatever remained of the idle scotch from earlier that afternoon.

‘And what else…oh yeah…she has three kids…not too apart from each other in age…maybe 10, 8 and 6. Two boys and a girl. Surabhi is the little one’s name. God I love that name….’

The telephone started ringing at this moment. A few rings later a mechanical voice requested the caller to leave a message. It was her husband. As always he had called to say he would be late and that she should not wait up for dinner. He also mentioned he had tried calling her cellular phone but it seemed that she had switched it off.

He was familiar with her ‘process’. This was a crucial phase for her and he chose to let her be. Even if it meant staying back later on purpose to give her more ‘herself’ time.

She ignored his message as she continued to pace the room with renewed alcoholic power.

‘Surabhi is her favorite…a mommy’s girl…Srinivas is her husband….boring guy…can be insensitive at times…kind of a lazy bum…doesn’t help out much…helps with the kids homework on good evenings…doesn’t pressurize for regular sex but doesn’t keep the messages subtle either…she is on birth control constantly…not interested in any more kids…Srinivas is a always horny…even in sleep…’

She rhythmically started slapping her hand on her thigh as thoughts started to ooze out from the part of herself she referred to as her ‘creative shell’.

‘Hmm…what else…Sanjay and Saurabh are the boys…handful of sunshine they are…naughty and always getting into trouble…she takes care of them like a Godmother when they get into sticky situations…she has paid for all the windows they have broken playing street cricket…out of her OWN salary!’

She quickly turned another sheet and jotted in a hurry ‘must arrange with Sethi for a middle-class looking house…price negotiable…must have poor ventilation…not too drafty…’

‘OK…’ she sighed and continued ‘…nothing too fancy…regular couple until one day…Srinivas decides to have an affair with another woman…sexually insatiable misfit that he is…yes…all the love…all the joy…all the pain have now found a context…’

She smiled to herself before breaking into a giggle.

‘..Oh poor woman…she spends her day behind a desk pushing paper and the husband is banging someone on top of one…men are sick…disgusting creatures…’

Her thoughts are again interrupted with another phone call. The machine, faithful as always attends to it. Another wannabe producer on the line. Another name to the never-ending list of people who want to work with Nandini. Her last venture had been such a huge commercial success that she had surprised herself with it. Her unmistakable ability to connect with the masses and their issues under a glorious hidden theme had become a best seller over the last few years. Her love and passion for her trade had only grown with time.

And all those things had begun with a process. Something she was about to embark on…again.

‘Betrayed!’ she yelled out once the machine had done recording a nasal voice with a funny English accent.

‘She is now betrayed…she is hurt…shocked…horrified…lost and angry…mad woman…a mad woman she has become…she wants revenge…she wants justice! Does she not matter! What about HER?’

A few heartbeats of intense silence and she continued.

‘What should she do? How will she encounter this? Should she leave Srinivas? What about the kids? Where will poor Surabhi go? She is still a baby! What happens to the boys? Is it not fun to let those brats figure things out on their own! Oh yeah! Lot of fun! Wait! No…that can’t be. That’s pathetic! That is sick! She is first a MOTHER and THEN a wife! Yes. She has to be calm…she cannot be like the loser she is married to…no…she needs to get her priorities straight…she needs to SHOW him how betrayed she feels…YES! Betrayed!’

She closed her eyes to let the images sink in. The emotionally injured woman, the callous unapologetic middle class man, the clueless pain in the bottom boys, the sweet and cute Surabhi in her corner with the toys, the crumbling house with a leaking roof, the pretentious furniture and the crowded living room…

An annoying alarm piece went off at this crucial juncture. A spot in time where Nandini was getting her thoughts together about this character she was creating – had now been burst into extinction. Her eyes opened to a pale dark blue that had started streaming in from the window crack. She looked around and found things that were just too familiar. A large baby crib in the corner of the room with little Surabhi still asleep. The boys making hushed noise already from the other room where they slept. Her husband snored with his hairy armpit next to her face adorned with a hint of cheap alcohol in his breathe.

Before getting up for another day Nandini closed her eyes again – to see that famous movie maker she had fancied herself to be just minutes ago. No. She was gone. Faded into another complex fabric of thoughts and emotions. Disappeared into another maze of dreams and ambitions. Invisible from the reality of the betrayal she had faced not more than a month ago…yet had lived on. Had survived. For the boys and for the little one who slept oblivious of what nightmares Nandini was being shown. Nandini knew that nothing was scarier than a beautiful dream that was impossible to achieve.

She looked forward to another night.


© 2007. Shashi Krishna. All rights reserved.
Friday, April 06, 2007 2 reflections

A blogger's worst nightmare

It had been almost a month since his jubilation had hit the ninth cloud. A fragment that would be fondly cherished for many years to come. A journey that had taken him two years and six months felt only like a few heartbeats once the goal had kissed him on the mouth. And oh what sweetness defused at this union! He felt he had been dispatched into a glorious universe where he commanded the respect and admiration of thousands. Yes. Sagar had become the #1 ranked blogger on that writers’ website.

His pursuit to glory had not been an easy one. To begin with he had had to spend many months getting a feel for the popular genres of that website. He had to pick out choice topics to deal with so that it grabbed their attention. He had to spend a lot of time proof reading and editing his work before he could safely declare his prowess to the writing world. The vocabulary he so fondly called his ‘armor’, had to be classy yet accurate to be able to connect with everyone who would grace his world of words. He had to be funny, witty, clever and creative to spin tales that would bring a smile in the hearts of his readers. Day by day, post by post, he had begun his humble journey in that galaxy of serious bloggers with nothing more than a hope that his work would be appreciated and critiqued for him to become a better narrator. A better human being.

With time this hope became a determination. He had had to face various setbacks on this infinite seeming journey to keep his readers engrossed. His words had started to become redundant and his expressions were turning to cliché. His tales of ‘boy next door’ facing clumsy situations were becoming repetitive as were his anecdotes of life that he hoped was easy to relate with. To encounter this trend he dug deep into his past and found some priceless gems that he polished, improvised and peppered with spicy fiction. His jabs at controversial topics found a lot of enthusiasm and support. It was definitely one of the best moments of his writing career – consistent and mostly constructive feedback.

There was a flip side to this as well. Sagar had to put up with the mindless and meaningless chunk of the crowd too. People who took pleasure in sadistic responses and unadulterated ridicule of some of his best narrations. He had to ignore them and keep himself focused on just one thing – his writing. There was nothing that could stop him from improving himself as a writer with a style of his own. With time he had also begun to experiment with his work. He tried narrating tales and viewpoints in various forms and sizes. It worked, for what it was worth. His recollections of late night editing and tired sleepless eyes seemed worth it since he was finally getting some serious acknowledgement. A factor without which a writer’s work seemed pointless.

After two years and six months of this relentless battle, as it were, he had finally reached the epitome of what was considered ‘the best’. The coveted number one spot. Did this mean he was the best writer on that website? Of course not. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of other writers there who had been more consistent with their work and definitely deserved more praise. But this did mean that he was among the few whose work got noticed more often, for good and bad reasons, and hence the rating suddenly seemed just.

All was well in Sagar’s world. He gloated at this newfound achievement as he shared this piece of information with everyone he knew – all forty of them he called family. They responded back with a ‘well done!’ or a ‘good job buddy’ or the most popular ‘Nice!’ which only brought him more joy. He had made a point loud and clear.

That dull Sunday morning still seems like a sore thumb in his mind’s mirror. He now wishes he had never opened that message. An abrupt and premature rupture awaited his dream bubble that seemed so immaculate.

A stranger sent him a note with a ‘Did you know about this?’ as a title. Sagar was only too happy to open that message and read its contents as he was convinced it had to be one more of his many fans who was writing to massage his ego further. As Sagar’s eyes browsed through the rather brief message word by word, for the first time in many months all he heard was his own heartbeat. Everything around him – the lazy fan that revolved above his head, the noisy washing machine that was busy finishing his weekend laundry, the chirping of the morning birds outside his window – suddenly went mute. The stranger had provided an online link location that directed Sagar to another popular blogging website. Lo and behold! It was a mirror image of his work! The same character sketches, the same scenarios, the identical narration style, the unmistakable wit…the whole package. The only difference was – Sagar had not posted it there. Someone had silently followed his gradual ascend and managed to create a customized haven that had received equally good responses and a larger fan base, as it seemed.

Sagar was heartbroken. A tear briefly appeared and froze on his lashes. He could not believe what he was seeing. In a fit of fury he shot off a private message to ‘the other blogger’ accusing him/her of blatant plagiarism and shamelessness. He whipped out a choice selection of rude words to add more depth and meaning to his message. He informed the management of ‘the other website’ and fumed in a rage that he had never known existed inside him. Even during the days of painful silence to his hard work he hadn’t felt this sort of humiliation and frustration. Nothing happened. Neither did he ever hear back from the imposter nor did the management do anything to encounter this serious offense. Maybe that’s why, Sagar wondered, published writers don’t share their work on the Internet…..!

Little did Sagar know that this was only the beginning. A couple of days later the stranger wrote back again with a news more shocking than anything Sagar had heard so far. ‘The other blogger’ had used a self-publishing company and published 1000 copies of his/her first book – ‘Life outside my window’. Rumor had it that in a month’s time that book would also be made available on the book shelves of various stores in the city. The unfortunate part of this was this meant there was only so much Sagar could do now. File a court case? Unreasonable. Boycott it and hold a protest? Unthinkable.

Sagar sat back with his eyes wide open in absolute nightmare. His mouth was open as an automatic response to his inability to breathe from his nose. His heart was beating faster than the rattle used to get a baby’s attention.

He knew this parasite had taken it too far. This was something so unprecedented that Sagar had no clue how to go about stopping this menace. But one thing he knew – if the parasite had to die, then he had to kill himself … his work.

A few moments later he returned to his original website and deleted his blog. For good.

And no one ever heard from him again.