Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This is just a random one-line story, slightly expanded. 

Me and Kingsuk hung out in L.A. on our way to and from Jamaica. My niece, Simran, who is nearly 3 years old, was really excited to see me, 'Mausi.' Shilpa didi tells me that to Simran, 'Mausi' only means Antara Mausi, which of course, I love. She had been excited the whole day to know that I was coming. When they were driving to the airport to pick us up, she would see a plane in the sky and say 'Mausi!'

She greeted me with a such a warm welcome -- you could tell she was visibly excited. Back at the house, she was in top form -- the center of attention of so many adults -- Mummy, Nana, Nani, Mamu, Samir Mamu, Mausi, and Mesho. Me and didi decided that rather than referring to King as 'Mausa ji,' which is what we all call our Mausis' husbands ... we would opt for the Bengali word for it instead -- Mesho. She ran around the room asking who wanted chai, mimicking her mother's question. She saw that Nana didn't have any chai, and remembered, that Nana doesn't drink chai, and asked him 'Nana, you want juice?' and ran into the kitchen to get him some juice. 

So a little later, you see Simran has climbed on the couch, and is chilling next to King, and watching TV together. She turns to him, puts her hand sweetly on his leg and says 'Nesho, do you want candy?' 

I couldn't stop laughing when I heard her say 'Nesho.' The whole rest of the weekend, she was as excited to see 'Nesho,' as she had been to see me. We would pull up into the house, and she would see us from afar and yell 'Hi Nesho!'  

Anyway, I thought it was hilariously cute. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008


This story was also based on true events. I was a little hesitant to put it up on the blog, in case the people from the event found it offensive. But, parents always love their kids' creative endeavors, so I'm in the clear.

On the first of every month, the elderly couple visited the small Italian restaurant in the Deccan Village Plaza. There was no particular reason for the visit, but had become habit, as many things do become with older people.
The wife would order the same thing every time – a bowl of the rosemary and white bean soup, which came with a side of foccacia bread. The soup was ‘healthy,’ she told herself. A woman never stops worrying about the way she looks, no matter how old she may be. The bread, on the other hand, was doused in olive oil, but there was no need to dwell on that. A woman also never stops lying – to herself, or to others, no matter how much wisdom she may have acquired throughout the years.
The husband was more adventurous in his approach. He would also get the rosemary and white bean soup, but with another entrĂ©e – perhaps a pasta, or a lasagna, or whatever his mood felt like on that specific 1st of the month.
On March 1st, the couple arrived to the Italian restaurant for their monthly luncheon. Unlike what you would expect, they did not have a particular table that they sat at every time.
As their maitre d’/waiter seated them – such small restaurants tended to have people overlap in their roles -- the husband began his scrutiny of the menu. The wife already knew what she wanted, and didn’t even bother with the pretense of opening the menu.
‘Two glasses of lemon water, no ice please. And we’ll have two rosemary and white bean soups, and …’ she trailed off, hinting towards her husband to complete the sentence.
He was too engrossed in the menu to even notice.
‘What do you want to get?’ she asked loudly, as if he had a hearing problem. Sometimes she wished it was as simple as that, and not the fact that her husband was becoming more and more absent minded by the day.
‘I won’t be getting the soup today,’ he pronounced.
She looked at him, startled.
The waiter nodded, waiting for the order to follow.
‘Do you remember the last time we were here, I got something really good. Do you remember what it was?’
‘Well, what was it?’
‘That’s what I’m asking you,’ he responded matter-of-factly.
‘I mean, what was in it?’ she was already beginning to get irritated.
‘That’s what I don’t remember,’ he pondered as he flipped the page in the menu.
The abeyance in conversation was the waiter’s opportunity to jump in. ‘I’ll start with your waters,’ and he darted out.
‘Potatoes,’ he said after a long pause.
‘Polenta?’ she asked.
He looked away from his menu for the first time. ‘No, I said potatoes. Why would I get polenta? You know I hate polenta.’
‘Ok, but potatoes and what?’
‘I don’t know – how many potato entrees can there be? Will you look and see if anything seems familiar?’
She rolled her eyes and reached for her large purse and began searching for her reading glasses. With the amount of things she would have to search through to get to her glasses, he was probably just better off reading the whole menu on his own.
After a few minutes of hopeless rummaging, she gave up. ‘I can’t find my glasses. You’re just going to have to read it out to me.’
‘Potatoes au gratin,’ he pointed to it on the menu. ‘That’s what it was,’ he pointed on the menu again.
The waiter arrived with the waters, and the wife placed the order. They sat in a comfortable silence as old couples always do, and waited patiently for their food to arrive.
When the waiter returned with their order, the man was not pleased to see what was in front of him.
‘This is not what I got last time,’ he told his wife when the waiter had left.
‘Well, what did you get last time?’ she asked, again.
‘It was potatoes, but with cheese, and a gravy.’ He took a bite of it. ‘This is not that.’
‘Well now you’ve already eaten it, so just finish it.’
He scowled, as he scarfed down the potatoes.
The waiter returned to ask how their meal was coming along.
‘This is not what I got last time,’ and he repeated to the waiter his description of the sumptuous potatoes he had last time.
The waiter looked confused, ‘ There is no such thing on our menu.’
The man scoffed. ‘Of course there is, I had it last month. It was in an oval plate, with potatoes, and cheese, and some gravy, and I think there were vegetables on the side too.’
The waiter looked through the menu, ‘Perhaps it was the was vegetable platter?’
The man looked over the description in the menu. ‘Maybe it was.’
The waiter looked relieved. ‘Would you like me to get you a vegetable platter?’
‘Yes, if that’s what I had last time.’
But the vegetable platter was not what he had last time either.
‘Sir, I believe what you had ordered was the polenta, with marscapone cheese and a side of vegetables.’
The man shook his head ferociously. ‘It was potatoes, with cheese, and gravy. I never eat polenta, why would I order that?’
The waiter was becoming increasingly frustrated, and was trying to find a way to walk out of this conversation.
‘Let me speak to your manager. Maybe he would know what I’m talking about.’
The waiter was speechless for a moment, but realized quickly that it was best not to meddle with this man on a mission to find his missing potato dish.
The manager arrived, ‘Tell me, what was this marvelous dish?’ he smiled. After the disgruntled waiter, this man was a breath of fresh air.
The man described his potato dish for the umpteenth time, but even before he could get to the mention of the vegetables, the manager cut in. ‘You must be talking about the polenta with eggplant.’
The wife sighed, seeing where this conversation was about to go. But her husband was always full of surprises.
‘Maybe it was.’
Both the wife and the waiter looked at him, astounded.
‘I just said that it was the polenta and you said no,’ the waiter protested.
‘Well, I thought about it, and maybe it was polenta but tasted like potatoes.’
The manager smiled and nodded. ‘Shall we get you the polenta and eggplant sir?’
The man nodded happily, but his wife interjected.
‘No,’ she said loudly. ‘He’s already had two dishes, we’ll have to save that for next time.’
The manager and waiter were happy to oblige and left, leaving the bill behind. The man looked disappointed.
‘What is it now?’ she asked. She was really at the end of her patience.
‘Now I’ll never know if it was that,’ he sulked as he put down the cash.
‘Leave him a good tip,’ she commanded as she put on her coat and gloves. ‘You had the whole restaurant up in arms about your potatoes.’
‘My polenta,’ he corrected her.
She rolled her eyes again. ‘Sorry, your polenta.’ And a hint of a smile escaping her pursed lips.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Red Crayon

I found this short story that I wrote for Vaishali's English class several years ago. Yes -- I did all of Vaishali's English assignments in her senior year. If I complained, I would be guilt-tripped into doing it -- 'Bechari she works so hard, just do it for her.'

Anyway, this story was based on real events.

The Red Crayon

It was a hot and humid afternoon in the Valley. This was perhaps the fifth day in the row it had been this hot. The temperatures were higher than they had ever been in the last eight years; or so I heard my uncle and aunt say. I wouldn’t know, I was barely 8 years old myself. It was the summer before fourth grade. I was going to become an upper grader. It was a landmark year as an elementary school student. We would have a separate lunch period from the ‘lower graders,’ and we even had separate bathrooms from them!
It was also the summer that I went to go live in Los Angeles with my Uncle to learn Hindi. My Uncle was the eldest of my mother’s brothers, and therefore the patriarchal figure in our large extended family. He believed in strict discipline, was very patriotic about India, and teaching his children about the Indian culture. I would learn to read and write Hindi that summer.
I always had a lot of fun with my cousin, who I called ‘Bhaiya,’ meaning elder brother in Hindi. He was only one year older than me, but at that age, one year was monumental. Most of the summer is a big haze to me, as is most of my childhood, but there is one afternoon in particular that stands out in my mind.
It was on this hot and humid afternoon that my uncle and aunt asked Bhaiya and me if we wanted to go to the flea market with them. We looked over at each other, and silently agreed that we were much better off in the confines of a malfunctioning air-conditioned room versus the sweltering heat outside. As exciting the thought of snow-cones was, we decided to stay home. Besides, it was the first time I was going to stay at home without adults! My parents never allowed it. But Bhaiya was a whole year older; maybe that’s why.
“So, what do you want to do?” I asked Bhaiya when the adults left. He shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t seem as excited about the idea of staying at home alone for the next few hours. “Do you want to color?” I asked, as I followed him into his room.
“Sure,” his eyes seem to light up a bit. We got out the pile of coloring books, and we each chose our favorites. Mine was Disney’s Snow White coloring book. His was Super Mario Brothers.
“Where are the crayons?” I asked.
Bhaiya looked a little wary. He hesitated for a minute, and then left the room. He returned a few moments later with a step ladder, and reached for the top shelf of his closet. Behind the stacks of old textbooks was a brand new box of 36 Crayola crayons. My eyes widened at the sight.
“When did you get those?”
“Last month, on my birthday,” he paused for a bit. “Be careful with them.”
I nodded, understanding the importance of a new box of crayons. I had always wanted the box of 36 colors. The most I ever had was 16.
We settled ourselves quietly on opposite beds, with the big box of Crayola crayons between us, and began coloring. I was coloring a picture of the wicked stepmother disguised as an old woman, offering Snow White a big, red, juicy apple.
I was working on coloring the apple a deep red, when my cousin looked up from his picture and said to me “Don’t color so hard.”
“I said, don’t color so hard. You’re messing up the crayon,” he insisted.
I looked down at the crayon. It looked fine to me.
“It’s fine,” I said, and resumed coloring.
But that wasn’t the end of that. My cousin sat up and said again, “You’re messing up my red crayon.”
“So? It’s just a red crayon. If you’re not going to color with it, what’s the point?”
But Bhaiya was not convinced. “Give me back my red crayon!”
I was not backing down either.“Why are you being so cheap about your stupid crayon?”
“I’m not cheap!” Bhaiya was yelling now. “Give me back my crayon!” His hand was extended, as he waited for me to comply.
I don’t know what got into me at that point; maybe it was the heat, or just being tired in general of being bossed around by my elder brother for weeks on end, or maybe it was just the red crayon itself, but I stopped coloring, stared directly at him, and said “You want your red crayon?” I took the crayon, snapped it into two pieces and placed it in his sweaty palms. “There’s your stupid red crayon!”
Bhaiya sat there gaping. He could not believe what had just happened. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t believe what I had done either, but the decision had been made, and now I had to stick by it.
Bhaiya dropped the fragmented pieces and flew onto my bed, seething in pure anger. He charged towards me, and I felt a sharp stinging on my thigh as he slapped my bare legs. It was my turn to counter the blow, and I slapped the back of his shoulder as hard as I could. I don’t remember the sequence of events that took place after that, but we found ourselves rolling around the bedroom floor, pulling, grabbing, slapping, pinching any body part we could get a hold of.
“What’s going on here?” a loud voice boomed. So caught up in the commotion, we didn’t hear my uncle and aunt come through the front door. We were like deer caught in the headlights.
We were asked to explain what happened, so they could ascertain who was at fault, and who owed whom an apology. We were both crying, from pain, and anger. I rubbed my stinging thigh, and felt a sense of satisfaction when I saw my cousin rubbing his shoulder.
“All this was over a red crayon?” my uncle looked at us in disbelief. He looked amused for a moment, but the expression quickly turned to a frown. “Both of you say sorry to each other.”
We looked at each other and waited to make sure the other would not back out.
“Sorry,” we said in unison.
As a punishment, the box of Crayola crayons was taken away from us for the rest of the summer.
Ten years later, today, I received a graduation present in the mail. A box of 36 Crayola crayons, with the red crayon missing.