Sunsets

He walked barefoot because the gravel felt like acupressure against his broken, aching soles. Even the occasional pebble’s jab did not bother him much, because by now, pain had started to feel like a relative, that kept visiting even if you kept changing residences to avoid them.
He smiled to himself as he reached the end of the cliff and looked to his right. “Well? This is it eh Fluff?”, he addressed an imaginary dog that had already met its untimely demise a few days earlier.
The late-evening sun from this vantage point looked glorious.
Instead of jumping immediately like he’d intended to, he groaned involuntarily, as he bent and sat down at the edge, letting his tired legs hang out down the side of the cliff.
Looking at nothing in particular he tried to reflect on what had happened over the week but at that point, he drew a blank, as if the walk had drained him of memories as much as energy.
Oh well. It didn’t matter, did it. He was already here.
He pressed one tense hand to the ground behind him, as if to no longer postpone the final task he’d set for himself when he heard a loud “Woof!”.
Turning around to see the source of the sound, he saw a snowy mass bounding up to him and halting at his side. He watched puzzled at this white pup with wide eyes staring back at him with what seemed to be equal bewilderment. After a few seconds, it nuzzled the hand he’d placed on the ground and sat next to him. Still surprised, he patted the now resting pup and relaxed. The soft coat under his palm quivered gently and steadied.
He sighed and looked at the sun again.


It hadn’t set just yet.

Much ado about nothing -1

Anyone can tell a story if a day’s been interesting. Now, if the day’s been boring, ah, now That, is a challenge. But what is a boring day? Can days even be boring anymore with all the technology and virtual worlds we hold at our fingertips? I remember a time when there would be powercuts for hours together at night and I would, after our initial scampering and hunting for a candle that would be lit, sit for hours together around the flame, occasionally brushing a finger or two across the flame, as if to tempt it to burn me. I would stare at the candle for the duration of the powercut, letting my mind wander to lands where people could do things with fire that in reality would not and ideally, should not happen in a controlled environment. But, in the confines of your mind, you are the creator and the destroyer and if the mind concocted a man who could summon flames from his fingertips and walked around helping and harming as he so fit, with his arsonic abilities, so be it.

Today however, there were no powercuts and the telling of this entry puts me in the middle of the day, in the middle of a meeting that I definitely was in control of , in terms of what was going on. But what I was not in control of were the sounds outside, one of whom was a very motivated, regular (oh, So regular) vendor of “Kachoris” and “Samoses“. He would arrive with his chants around the hours of 2 and 3 in the afternoon without fail everyday and announce his arrival in a vocal tone that is both unmistakeable and unforgettable after you’ve heard it twice.

There is more to this story that involves
– me taking a breather after the meeting and stepping outside to give in, finally, to the in-person advertisement’s lure of “Samosas” but resisting it ultimately,
– a very determined spider that I, unfortunately for it, prevented from meeting its family today ..and forever 😦
and
– a leaky bucket.

But I will, if the mood strikes me, continue this entry at an hour when I’m more in possession of my mental and physical faculties.

Time to slee………Zzz

Yes, the tree fell.

You’re standing on a podium delivering an impassioned talk. It’s got everything – the right content, the right delivery, heart – oh, Lots of heart. Everything is going right. Except the audience section. It’s empty. And you’re aware of this, but you still keep talking because….Well, because you’ve given dozens of talks to audiences before but that talk right there is making you feel…alive.

You continue. You deliver it to perfection. Then you smile at the end. A victorious smile to a non-existent crowd. But you cherish it because you’re happy.

You take a bow and you walk away backstage. The curtains close. The lights are out.

I did not mean for this to be a metaphoric narrative but I guess I could stretch it to writing for one’s own sake or singing or dancing or anything you do just because you want to.

Good day.

The Rule of 3

There’s something satisfying about the “Rule of three”. When you want to explain something it’s helpful to break it up into three steps or points because –

  • 1 – It gives you the time to set up a premise.
  • 2 – It gives you the space to build up anticipation without an abrupt halt.
  • And 3 – Of course you read this, because you wanted closure. And that’s what point 3 is supposed to do. Provide closure. Complete the picture. Descend from that proverbial peak of anticipation gracefully. This process is employed very well in many movies. E.g The Prestige.

Every magic trick did not Need to have three steps. It could have had 2 or 5 or 4 steps. But Nolan no doubt chose this trope because it’s satisfying.

It goes deeper. The Rule of 3 can be spotted even in ad Slogans and mottos –
– Olympics – Citius, Altius, Fortius
– Julius Caesar – I came, I saw, I conquered.
– And more locally – Horlicks- Taller, Stronger, Sharper.

Bhagavad Gita …As it was

A post on a book club group on Facebook about the book “Bhagavad Gita As it Is” triggered this memory and I wanted to “pen” it down while I still remembered it –

I don’t care much for religious scriptures anymore except for the mythological offerings that are still very interesting (pardon the harsh tone and read on 😅 ) but I have one memory associated with this book that stands out. We had a quiz contest in school that I was a part of (because my teacher no doubt thought – “This guy is good in Spoken English. Must be good at interpreting scriptures as well.”) . Anyway, I turned out to be surprisingly decently smart about it and learnt enough for the quiz and our team made it to the semi finals (?) where we got weeded out but were sitting in the audience like sheep on a farm looking at birds flying in the sky. 😕

The one consolation was that all of us in the audience had team-based-numbers i.e. one number per team and the quizmaster called out a team number at random when the finalists couldn’t answer a question, to see if the audience teams could. The questions rolled on and on one of them, they ended up calling our number. We were overjoyed. “Oh, we’re going to ROCK this chance”, we thought and started high fiving each other walking down to the podium. I still remember the question (albeit vaguely) they re-read out for our benefit ‘coz in our happiness, we realized we hadn’t paid attention to any part of it except the Number-calling. The question was “What did King Ambarish do with his own hands that proved him to be very humble?” ….Or something to that effect – it’s been 18 years .We blinked at each other. We had no clue.Well, I stepped up and decided, he was a King, so he’d go big or go home..Right? I cleared my throat and confidently spoke into the mic – “Uhh…He Cut off his hands.” . The quizmaster looked at me like they were justified in not passing us through to the finals but were also surprised that we, these ignorant worms, made it till the semis. But they politely said – “No…no…He CLEANED the temple with his own hands.”. I was stumped but put on a brave face and walked back, this time not looking at my friends.

I walked back with my head held high…like a King.

On my own legs.

Apparently just actions as simple as those also count as huge achievements for one. Right?

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

AUTHOR : AGATHA CHRISTIE

*No spoilers*

The 23rd Hercule Poirot story, but only the fourth Christie I’ve ever read. Perhaps I should have started in sequence of publication, I don’t know, but no matter. The story here begins with pain. Dental pain that Hercule Poirot faces, like every man and is eyeing his fellow patients as he waits at a dentist’s’, with great suspicion. It is true and AC displays some brilliant observational skills of the human psyche when she relates personal pain as being projected onto the world, giving one a negative view of everyone while in that state. Shortly after being freed of said pain, Poirot is given news of the passing of his dentist, Dr. Morley and this is really where our story begins. An innocent dentist is dead; did he kill himself or was he killed? The see-saw of this question keeps shifting sides throughout the story till the very end and every co-patient of Poirot’s or co-inhabitant of Dr.Morley’s establishment at the time of the death is understandably a piece of the puzzle. There aren’t many remarkable characters in this book, save Poirot himself. Inspector Japp (who I’ve not seen in any of the other books I’ve read) and Poirot share a something of a cross between a Sherlock-Lestrade-and-Sherlock-Watson-ish bond, chiefly because of Poirot’s more amiable personality and that is nice to see.
The story is fast paced for a while but towards the 60% mark, it seems to start dragging a little. I haven’t felt this in the other 3 works of hers I’ve read. But towards the end, it accelerates again to the point of impossibility of putting the book down because “you Just Have to Know”.


On the whole, a pretty good mystery. I liked it.

Subjective Rating: 4.2/5

Ants

I don’t know anything about ants

On my kitchen platform sits a steel plate. This is not the permanent position of said plate. It has been placed there only temporarily and at the time was for the purposes of holding something that will be described in the very next para.

The steel plate, last night, was filled with some quantity of water, perhaps to the 75% mark and squarely in the center of the circular plate sat a plastic container which housed, as of that moment, 2 Gulab Jamuns.

It was 1 AM and I found myself at the crossroads of DecisionLand. On the one hand, there was the healthy, sane option of brushing my teeth, drinking a glass of warm water and going to bed at (what is now considered) a reasonably early hour. On the other, there was the far more tempting, but highly detridental option of tiptoeing to the kitchen and gorging on the gulab jamuns that had been procured earlier that evening. Why, you may ask, must an adult tiptoe in the comfort of his own home. But this is the vice of a habit developed by an individual who has been a minor for some years longer than he has been a legal adult.

Anyway, I found myself in the kitchen with my hand on the plastic container before the results of thorough deliberation were out. And it is at this point that I noticed One ant. A lone warrior, clinging to the side of this container and if it had eyes that I could spot, possibly they would have been full of focus waiting for this precise moment when a human would come and unblock its way to what-it-had-no-doubt smelt its way to – sweet, divine ant-treasure. I wondered how it had made its way across the body of water in the plate but did not linger much on it. Meanwhile, evident that things had not gone the way the Warrior Ant had planned, it darted in the direction opposite the cover sensing perhaps that I had spotted it before the cover was opened. For good measure, I lifted the box out of the “pool” and decided to open it held in my hands, away from a place of familiarity to the Warrior, who had by now dropped into the water below. And it is at this point, that I noticed an extremely disturbing sight. Close to 20 more ants lay scattered in the water, some hidden from view by the box that was now in my hands, and some in plain sight that I had simply not seen. These were Warriors who had not made it to the Holy Jamun Land :O My mind at this time was racing with multiple thoughts, some for the Fallen Warriors, some about the box in my hand. What if the Warrior was just the last one who was about to enter the box and many had already succeeded and were now already partaking of its contents? What would I see when I opened the box?

I stood in silence for a few seconds contemplating the possibilities. It was probably a lesser duration than I exaggerate at this point, but the thoughts were there. “Let’s assume that the worst has not happened”, I thought, “and that this singular Warrior was the only one to make it. “. How did he (not necessarily, might have been a Wonder Womant as well, but for the purposes of this anecdote) make it? Had there been a plan of attack? Was this the leader of the troop? Had the army decided that it would be sufficient if one mant made it, for the greanter good? Was this the ant version of a heist? Did ants have heists? I’d learnt in the few minutes that I’d concentrated in my biology classes back in school that there was fierce collaboration in ant colonies, but was this a part of it?

I moved closer to the platform and looked again at the fallen Warriors….Noble souls, one and all. They drifted there…unaware of their sacrifice’s futility. I placed the box on the side and sadly emptied the contents of the plate into the sink. This was the order of Nature and I was a cold blooded ant disposer 😦 I refilled the contents of the plate with some more water than before, making the moat a little harder to wade than before …My heart wept for the sacrifices to come as I thought about the next batch of Warrior Ants that would indulge in the pursuit of sweet fortunes..And my mind decided. No more.

There would be no more mindless sacrifices. No more Ant drownings.

Not on my watch.

I opened the box and popped the last two Jamuns in my mouth.

Time to brush and go to sleep.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Author : Hiro Arikawa

*No spoilers*

So I started this book in the first week of August and I didn’t make much progress for most of the month. But day before yesterday, I hit the 40% mark and that’s where I was hooked.
Nana is a stray cat who’s fiercely independent and doesn’t care for humans; He even only begrudgingly and helplessly accepts the care of the human who nurses him back to health when he’s hit by a car. Once he’s healed, he stays with him out of sheer “eyeroll-y” gratitude but then eventually warms up to him. The cat’s travelling chronicles begin when Satoru, after 5 years of living with Nana, has come to the decision of finding him a new home for reasons that are divulged way later in the book. And at every stop that they make, Nana finds a way to create problems just enough that Satoru has to accept failure in making that place Nana’s next residence and the journey goes on.
Hiro Arikawa does not shy away from wilfully taking time to describe the sights along the journey, the flowers, the Pampas, Mount Fuji and other beautiful scenes that they pass through. He also fleshes out the few but memorable characters that Satoru interacts with , so much so that you cannot forget them and the relationships they share with Satoru as friends or as a family member or even a former pet. I’m blown away by the consistency with which he’s put himself in the paws of a cat throughout with zero slips and as a reader, so are you.
And then there is the moment where there is the equivalent of a series of plates crashing where you don’t see it coming or rather, I didn’t see it coming and before I knew it, I was sobbing like a little baby. And even though I’ve said what I said and you’ve read what you’ve read, you will forget my words and you won’t know when to expect the tug at the heartstrings. It will happen when it does and I hope you can find your way back to this post to tell me it did.
And you are right, Nana :’) Humans can never claim to be as smart as a cat 🙂

My pace of reading the book over time

Subjective Rating: : 5/5

Flowers for Algernon

Author : Daniel Keyes

Yes, there are spoilers. Please don’t read this if you haven’t already read the book and intend to.
Charlie was just a guy who wanted to fit in, you know? He just wanted to be smart “like everyone else” and understand what people said and..fit in. That’s why he tried so hard. He jumped through every hoop Dr.Nemur and Dr. Strauss showed him and he got his wish. He became smart. He became smarter. He became the smartest person humankind ever possibly knew.
Life would be so simple and happy if that was the end of the story. We love happy endings, don’t we. We want the underdog to succeed. We want a triumphant person at the end of a story. Maybe that’s what we get at the end; I’m not going to give anything away. But I will tell you about the process to that end. Charlie Gordon has an IQ of 68 when the story begins and life has been extremely hard for him – being abandoned by his parents, working at a bakery where he seems to have been given a chance from his perspective, but we can see they’re plain bullies there, having fun at Charlie’s expense and he bears it all with a grin and a laugh, because he wants to have friends. He thinks they Are his friends. And that heart of his is what makes you want to take the entire journey with him through his journal, go through everything he’s gone through, through his memories of his mother – Rose, his father -Matt and his sister, Norma….
The only glimmer of sunshine Charlie has or seems to have through this gloomy cloud of a fast-paced IQ-rising life of his is Alice Kinnian, one of his tutors at the facility where Charlie is to undergo treatments and eventually therapy sessions. In her, Charlie finds love and safety and I love that Daniel Keyes had her as a character.
Another character that is constantly alluded to and is really, the titular character is Algernon, a mouse that Charlie is pitted against at the beginning. It’s heartening to see how Charlie’s relationship with Algernon changes, even if one-sided – first as a goal, then as a rival, then as a subordinate and subsequently as a pet. The symbolism of Algernon’s microcosmic journey is telling and when flowers Are placed for Algernon, one can’t help but feel the ground drop from under them even if they have been expecting it.
At the core of it, Flowers for Algernon is, in my opinion, about relationships – the relationship with one’s self, with those you count friends, those you count lovers, those you count superiors and others. Underneath the veil of a man climbing a ladder of IQs was a man ..

  • a man who wanted to climb it purely to be like everyone else, to have that which was taken away from him his whole life,
  • a man who never had a childhood other children seem to have,
  • a man who never felt the love of his mother for who he truly was or the pride of his father for what he could be if he could be anything at all,
  • a man who eventually wanted to love and be loved by his friends, by a partner, by a sibling.

A man who wanted to matter.

If there was one thing i would have liked that seemed missing, it would have been a proper reconciliation with his father. But oh well…

This was a beautiful story.
Thank you Daniel Keyes.

“She said never mind but I shouldn’t feel bad if I find out everybody isn’t nice like I think. She said for a person who God gave so little to you did more than a lot of people with brains they never even used.”

Flowers for Algernon, Pg 26

Subjective Rating: : 4.9/5

Fan

The fan hung lazily and looked at the other occupants of the room – A lamp, a table, a chair and a human. The human seemed lost in thought. And he didn’t seem like he would be getting off the chair anytime soon. Which meant the fan wouldn’t have to move anytime soon either. That was a relief. It sighed noiselessly. As its eyes drifted from one wing to another looking at through its limited, yet relatively broad perspectives, it got a different angled view of the room everytime. It wondered what the human was thinking about. He didn’t seem to do much at all. He always sat there for most of the day, except to get up and look through a slit in the door and yell at a passerby (what what could be made out) – the fan had learnt a lot of what we humans take for granted, purely by observing and listening over the time it had hung around in the room since its time of installation. Two years . Had it only been that long? It had spun so much, that it felt a bit more woozy everytime. And maybe it was imagining things but it seemed to be descending a bit more of late. Oh well. The mind, even a metallic one can play tricks on you if you’re as dizzy as you were after tens of minutes of spinning.
It jerked out of its reverie as the man got up from his chair.
“Oh boy. Here we go again”, it thought to itself.
He walked up to the only switch on the wall and turned it on.
Slowly, the fan began to spin. 30 rpm….60 rpm…130 rpm…200 rpm..All the way upto its maximum set 350 rpm. The fan felt breathless at this point. It wasn’t a new sensation, but this time, it felt a bit more breathless than usual. It gave in and tried to become one with the spin.
But something…something was wrong.
The stem gave way and jerked away from the ceiling, tipping to one side first and within the fan could realize it, the cable connecting it to the ceiling Snapped and it spun at an angle, into the air, in an arc and towards the unsuspecting man.
The fan closed its eyes as it unintentionally sliced the man’s head clean in two and crashed into the wall opposite his seat just above the table.
It tried to open its eyes…No..eye..The other eye seemed to be missing. And it realized that it had no sensation anywhere else. But it didn’t matter.
The spinning had stopped.

PS – Please don’t be alarmed. This is only …a fan fiction….😂🧐 I’m sorry for the nightmares.