The phone, supported by my hand, was stuck to my ear. A monologue had been going on for about half an hour. The worst part was I had to pepper the conversation with appropriate responses at appropriate moments. I took the phone away from my ear and the volume decreased. I heaved a sigh of relief. But then before the one at the other end could make out that I was missing, I quickly brought the phone closer. I managed to make out a few syllables and grunted in response. The caller was no less smart. She wouldn’t continue unless she received a confirmation of the fact that I was clued in on the conversation. I had to employ my greatest powers of concentration and multitasking, and ultimately succeeded in giving myself a headache. By the time the caller had her fill and finally took pity on the poor being that is me, I was reeling under conversational duress, if that is even a term. The #impact of it was such that my mind was heavy with heaven knew what. I felt as if I was undergoing lobotomy. Although I have never had to undergo any such procedure (thankfully!) I assume the feelings would be quite similar, like that of a drill boring into your brain, deactivating and weakening your gray cells.

Is it that easy to disarm people and spoil their ability to think and reason? Is all that is required is concentrated babble or focused balderdash? In that case, we have much to fear from long-winded calls, blaring loudspeakers, cacophonous music, uproarious gatherings, tooting horns and whatever comes within the perimeters of noise pollution. That call I had just been liberated from was not at all unfriendly; on the contrary, my dear unassuming guileless friend was merely recounting her experiences of the day before. However, my arrant disinterest in her affairs sort of contributed to an effect that amounted to psychological stress. That one call had managed to ravel my nerves and entangle the wires of my sanity, thus manifesting itself in a splitting headache and a lasting allergy to any long conversation, ( by long conversation, I mean one that is a conversation only by name and is actually a monologue gift wrapped in a paper with conversation written all over it )
It is like a vicious circle, someone bores and jars you with their constant nattering and your cells respond to the stimulus by throwing a similar verbal missile at someone else, thus continuing the chain of conversational torment. I was actually pretty shaken by the #impact that a phone call with a good friend had had on me. Is it the electronic equipment that’s worsening things or would a face-to-face conversation have the same effect? But I remember having two-hour conversations with my best pals and enjoying every minute of it, hoping for the call to never end. However, this call was not just a wake-up call but a wake-up-and-bang-your-head-on-the-wall call. I realized it was so because I didn’t get to say anything on the phone. She talked and talked and I listened. And that is not what a conversation is about. It is about listening to the other person as well. The word conversation begins with ‘con’ or together. Unless we listen to the other person, a conversation will easily turn into a drilling grueling soliloquy like a lecture except the former will have nothing to offer in the form of value or comfort. I decided then and there to listen to the person I talk to before I speak, instead of waiting for him/her to finish so I can start speaking. After all, we have been blessed with two ears and one mouth for some reason. I suddenly had new-found respect for the ones who work at customer care centres and BPOs. Those guys must be ready to kill at the drop of a syllable.

#Impact #TataZicaMarathon 

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

( Winner of the Odd-Even Short Story Contest by Readomania )

It had been about four weeks since they had started going to work together. Arjun would drop Jaya off at her workplace and then go to his own. Jaya had slid into her new lifestyle with a determined air. She clearly remembered how she had opposed the match the first time it had been proposed by her mother.

“I am not going to marry this man!” she had declared.
“And why, pray tell us?”  her mother had countered.
“He laughs way too much. And unnecessarily. He is much too gregarious.” Jaya had complained.
“Oh good lord! Your father didn’t so much as smile at the best of jokes! He didn’t have any sense of conversation. Did I just reject him then?” her mother had shouted. “Here you have a well-to-do man, who is amiable and friendly, looks great and you have a problem with his smile??”
“If she doesn’t want to marry, why are you forcing her?” her father had said in her support.
“It is not about marriage, it is about her high-brow attitude! Who does she think she is? Queen Victoria??” her mother had reached her temper. “She has rejected men outright without even meeting them once! And I wouldn’t have cared had she brought a man of her own. But no! This girl lives in a world of her own! She wants to die an old maid!”
Her mother’s face had gone red, her voice dangerously quiet.
“You do it for their benefit and they shout back at you. This is how today’s children repay their parents.”

Then her eyes had suddenly shone as she came up with a new argument.
“Mark my words!” she had looked at her husband. “This girl cannot live with anyone! She is a loner! A stuck-up old fool! A complete fool to reject a perfect man like Arjun! I don’t think she even deserves him!”

That had touched a nerve in Jaya. Before her father could handle the situation, she had blurted out, “You think I don’t deserve him?! You think I can’t live with a man? Let me give him a chance as you say. I will marry him. If he is able to win me over in three months, then great. Else the burden of a failed marriage would lie on you.”


And that’s how Arjun and Jaya had been married two months ago.
Today, however their travel routine had to change. There was some new scheme about ‘odd-even’ doing the rounds. Apparently, odd numbered vehicles could ply on odd days and even-numbered on even. However, women had been exempted from this rule.
And so the second weekday of the year saw her at the wheel. Arjun stood outside, his smiling face framed against the window of the passenger seat.

“See you in the evening,” he waved and began to walk away.

Jaya put the car into gear and started the engine. Very soon, she had crossed the street and the bus-stop. She saw Arjun standing there. He waved. She smiled back curtly.

Should she ask him to take a cab or something? 
No need. He was a grown man. He knew what to do. And it was no fault of hers that he had to take the public transport. Blame the government. She had no business feeling sympathetic for him.
Tuesday promised to be a normal day. Arjun was at the wheel again and Jaya sat beside him. Despite herself, she felt a little less guilty today. After all, yesterday, the poor guy had to be jostled to and fro in the buses. Today, he could go as usual.  

“What are you thinking?” Arjun asked her, noticing her creased brow.
“Nothing,” she said, putting on her polite mask again.
A week passed and Arjun saw Jaya off at the car again.

“Drive safe. Take care.”

His words seemed to have unseated her. She felt a little uncomfortable.

“Ye–es.” she said.

He started walking away and she quickly blurted out, “You take care too! And tell me when you reach.”

Arjun looked at her, pleasantly surprised. “Yes, yes, I sure will.” he said and waved to her.
On Friday, Arjun left a little early since he wanted to try a new route.
When Jaya got to her office, she wondered whether Arjun had reached. He had taken the metro that day.
As if he had read her thoughts, her phone rang.

“Hello!” she queried into the phone, her heart beating strangely.
“When did you reach?” Arjun’s voice filled her ears.
“A while ago,” she replied.
“You?” she was quick to ask.
“Just. I thought of calling you because there wasn’t much petrol in the car. Did you stop at a gas station?”
“Umm no.”
“I think you should get the tank filled on your way back. Just in case.”
Arjun had a habit of taking her out every Sunday to a new restaurant. When they went this time, Jaya decided to wear the black suit she had worn on Friday. Arjun hadn’t seen this one. He had left for office early that day and she had reached home before him.
They were at the traffic signal, waiting for it to turn green. It turned green thrice and went back to red.

“Phew! Are we never going to get there?” Arjun wondered aloud.

Jaya looked around them. The cars were kissing each other’s sides and whatever space was left had been claimed by bikes.

“I think you should plan outings on weekdays now,” she said.
“Would you like to have this?” he pointed towards the golgappastall.
Much to her own surprise, Jaya giggled at the inanity of the suggestion.  

“You know it would be felo de se for me to have a) stuff whipped up from the street grime b) something that would directly hit our throats in the chilly winter.”

“A felo de se! Hmm I see…You dying for my sake? I must be the luckiest man on earth!” he grinned.

Something in his smile caught at her heart. She was surprised to feel a thrill run down her spine and more so, when she gladly acquiesced to his outrageous suggestion.

“All right! Let’s go your way this time, you nutter!” she said in a tone lighter than Arjun had ever heard her use. It brought a warmth to his heart and made him jump, pop-eyed at her #peppy demeanour.

“Are you sure?” he asked, a trifle doubtful.
“Well, do I really have a choice with this hopeless traffic?”  

A few minutes later, when they plopped the crunchy balls full of masala-laced stuffing and spicy water into their mouths, Jaya wincing at the spice spreading its effects all over her throat and Arjun looking adoringly at her, he knew that finally, something had struck home.
“You know, we could let the car be and actually help the cause of reducing pollution.” Jaya said the night before the fourteenth.
“Don’t be idealistic. I don’t want you to face the dust and grime. Not another felo de se! Thank you very much!” he joked.
Looking at her face, framed by tendrils of black hair falling over her forehead, he had an irresistible urge to take her in his arms and express all he had felt for her since the time he had seen her at her house. 

It had been love at first sight. He was just relieved that she had accepted him. But however much he felt for her, he knew she was different. She did not like him as much. Something separated them. 

Now however, he felt it coming loose. Things had finally started to fall into place. It was just very recently that she had started being herself and he could see chinks of her true self shine forth from her armour of pride. He had promised to wait as long as it would take for her to get comfortable, to feel at home with him. 
Jaya had a feeling that Arjun wouldn’t let her take the metro when there was a car and she was even more astonished to realize that she wanted to accompany him at least on the last day of this bizarre scheme that had wrought such changes in her and made her feel things she had not felt before.
The next morning, when she had dressed and was readying herself to leave, she made sure the keys were safely in her drawer. When they reached the car park, Arjun turned to wave her off.
“Oh! I forgot the keys!” Jaya said dramatically, half smiling to herself.
Arjun looked at her, a twinkle in his eyes, “You know you are a bad actor. Don’t even try. Why are you suddenly all bhartiya naari types? Wanting to partake of your husband’s joys and sorrows?” he asked, a laugh in his voice.
“I want to test you, mister. Whether you are capable of taking care of me or not. Whether you are fulfilling your vows or not.”
Something gripped Arjun and he couldn’t help pulling Jaya to himself.
“Testing me, are you?” he quizzed her, his hands around her waist.
“We are at the society carpark, dear husband. Aren’t you forgetting your place?” she asked, her open voice #peppy, giggling and pleasantly inviting.
“You are such a temptress! Forgive me madame! Your charms have made me forget my place!”
At the metro, they stood like college lovers, leaning against the barrier separating the women’s coach from the general one, talking to each other over the bobbing heads of chattering boys and girls.
The disembodied voice announced the approaching metro station.
“Goodbye for now.” Jaya said to Arjun with a smile. The train halted and there was a commotion. But Arjun didn’t move.
“What?” Jaya asked incredulously.
“Let me drop you off first,” he said.
“Don’t be silly.”
But he didn’t move.
“You are such a total nut.” Jaya said, laughing.
“You know what, don’t go.” he suddenly said.

The next station had arrived.

“Have you been to ‘The Garden of Five Senses’?” he asked her as the train began moving again.
“Umm no,” Jaya said, wondering what he was getting at.
“Then let’s go see it.”
“You are out of your mind.” she said, staring at him.
“Oh! Come on! A single day won’t wreck your career! Let’s go, seriously, it will be great.”

Half of him knew that she wasn’t one of those who took on-the-spot decisions or was game for anything and everything, throwing caution to the winds. But the other half wanted to try his luck. Especially now when she had opened up and was willing to extend her hand for friendship.

“And what will you say at work?” Jaya asked softly.
“I will say it’s Cupid calling. Sorry no can do!” he winked.
A spark that had been flickering within her since the past few weeks had now grown into a full-fledged fire. When she allowed Arjun to take her arm and they made their way out of the metro together, she knew something had changed within her. She knew things would never be the same again.
That weekend, they visited many other places that he had wanted her to see, places she always delegated as ‘couple’ places.

“I really can’t believe I am one of those people,” she said while snuggling into him. “Those mawkishly sentimental people who go to mushy places and put up icky selfies.”
But as the weekend drew to a close, she found herself updating her profile picture- a snap of the two of them sharing a chocolate.

So soppy. So sugary. But weirdly she found herself loving it. Whether the odd-even trial had any #impact, she couldn’t say, but the trial she had put Arjun on had stood the test of time.

#Peppy #Zica #Tata #Fantastico #Impact #TataZicaMarathon 

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Some people create history with a single act of theirs. And some with a single book. Harper Lee was one of the latter. A humble tribute to her.

The only author to win a Pulitzer Prize for her first and only novel- ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, she was named after her grandmother Ellen (she was named ‘Nelle’ –Ellen spelled backwards). Her first novel that secured her place among the literary stalwarts – ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was loosely based on her own life and the kind of goings-on she saw in her neighborhood. Her father, a lawyer had once defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients, father and son, were hanged. That apparently was a watershed moment in Lee’s life. The #impact of that incident and its gravity pressed on her young mind, turning the tomboy in her into a deep thinker. And that’s how she gave us TKAM.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.

These words of Atticus Finch in TKAM never fail to strike a chord within me. True, true and a hundred times true. To stand up for something you believe in. When there is no one on your side but you. That’s courage. You go ahead anyway. That is it.

She had started writing the novel as a series of anecdotes. Though the piece was brilliant, her first draft was not accepted by the publisher. Eventually this first draft or ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was fine-tuned to ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, which went on to create records.  

“I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”
-Harper Lee (1964)
Every author’s fear and every author’s dream. Both quite extreme.

Harper Lee’s friendship with her childhood friend and neighbor Truman Capote was a well-known fact what with her assisting him in an article that eventually turned into his best-selling book ‘In Cold Blood’. The character Dill in TKAM was inspired by Capote. On the other hand, Lee has found her way into many screenplays and novels by Capote.

After her first, there were novels she had started working on like ‘The Long Goodbye’ and one about an Alabama serial murderer, but they remained unfinished. The release of ‘Go Set a Watchman’, essentially a prequel to TKAM in 2015 was brought about by Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter who while re-examining her safe deposit box, found the old manuscript for GSAW. Carter then sent the manuscript for publication and almost years later, Harper Collins came out with it in 2016.

Leading a private life, Lee died on 19 February, 2016 at the age of 89 in Alabama, where she was born and raised. One incident. One book. And yet, the #impact was worth a hundred. Hats off to her! Sometimes I wish the passing away of authors was given a tad more coverage on the tabloid and media.    

“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Beautiful, isn’t it?

#Impact #TataZicaMarathon

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.
A muted protest. Subtle symbolism. To show you that it’s here. And it’s here to stay. No more shall the likes of Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde have to veil their realities. The new age has arrived. Or almost. 

I woke up a few mornings ago, and as my crappy habits go, reached out for the phone. But distinguished from other mornings, this one was pleasanter. 
Why you ask?
No, not because of the 1000+ odd messages from 20+ odd groups awaiting me. I have no patience to scroll up, join the dots and try to figure out some odd ‘unfunny’ story amongst unrelated chats and inconsequential chitchat on the groups. And no, no sweet messages awaited me either. It was just that someone had changed a group icon and installed a new emoticon instead.

I know it is no matter of vital importance but I am a sucker for emoticons. I still have a  soft corner for toys, bunnies, teddy bears, in short anything which reminds me of kidhood. I can still pass a day watching Cartoon Network or Pogo. Trust me, I can. But that wasn’t the #Fantastico part either. What made me rejoice and do a tango in my head was these –

Courtesy of my Whatsapp toolbox

Yes, these new batch of emoticons joining the WhatsApp bandwagon. Many months ago, I had found colored faces on WhatsApp looking at me. Faces, thumbs-up, fists and suchlike. From a dark-skinned thumb to a pale one, there were a couple of shades in between including a golden one. 

I totally loved it. No, it was not a fairness cream advert. Far from it. It was a choice. I so felt like raising a thumbs-up to those techies for doing this. 

Talk about inclusion. Talk about challenging stereotypes. Like Shrek did with the ugly ogre and fat princess. Perfect imperfections. Inculcating it right from the start. Princesses are not just fair. Like. Like. Superlike.  

And today I extend another kudos to them as I see newer emoticons – that of a girl-girl peck, a guy-guy kiss in addition to the regular guy-girl thingy. What’s more, there was a whole new family emoticon as well – a brood of two girls and their two kids, another of two guys and their little ones, all besides the regular guy and girl family.

Subtle. Sensitive. Powerful.
You see how intelligent this is? Symbolism is that powerful. Minimalism can be this effective. It takes just an idea, nothing more. Just an idea that can transform ideologies and make you think. Beautiful, isn’t it? Oscar Wilde would have been proud. #Fantastico, I say!

It has been 11 years since Brokeback Mountain created waves in Hollywood and won a string of Academy Awards. Since then, we have had our own adaptations and versions of gay rights. I Am, Aligarh, Angry Indian Goddesses, Margarita with a Straw etc. created a new strain of cinema at the box office. Among Bengali movies,  Rituparno Ghosh’s creations like Arekti Premer Golpo, Memories in March and Chitrangada brought about a revolution in cinema regarding sexual orientation. Then there was Naanu Avanalla…Avalu in Kannada that had the actor Sanchari Vijay winning the national award for playing a woman. In the Malayalam film Mumbai Police, Prithviraj is shown having a secret gay past. Shridhar Rangayan’s film Yours Emotionally has explored homosexuality in a different way, exploring the lives of older gay men.

Michael Kirby, a distinguished former Judge of the High Court of Australia and a former President of the International Commission of Jurists who delivered the 2013 Tagore Law Lectures, themed ‘Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity — a new province of law for India’ had publicly shared with the world that he was both homosexual and HIV positive. The effect he had was electric.

Soon enough, Section 377 was decriminalized. Although now we are at another point and many changes are wanting, there is no stopping the world of art from blaring out the truth. We have Shab and LOEV coming. Change is here. Slow perhaps, but sure. Queer is not queer anymore. It’s #Fantastico. The changing icons tell the story.

#Fantastico #Zica #Tata #Impact #TataZicaMarathon

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

If music be the food of love, play on.

The words rankled in her mind and painfully clutched at her heart. She quickly started the engine and put the car into gear. She couldn’t stop his voice from echoing in her head. He used to quote Shakespeare whenever she asked him if her #music bothered him.

“You know, my parents used to get fed up of my constant playing. From the guitar to the harmonium to the violin, I would try my hand at everything. And when you don’t know how to play something, the #music that results is just plain horrid! I remember my parents would shout and protest about my unearthly practice timings- sometimes at the crack of dawn and at times, in the deepest nights and then finally beg me to stop.”

Saying so, she would start giggling and he would pull her close to him, take her hands and kiss her fingers one by one.

“You can play as much as you like, as badly or as well as you like,” he would say, making her heart leap like a frog out of a well.

“You haven’t heard me practice, you have only heard me sing. When I practice, I practically bray.”

“Your voice is #music to me. And if #music be the food of love, play on.” That is when he would quote the Bard.

It had been two years, a mere two years since they had met and known each other. It didn’t take them much time to realize that it was a forever thing. And it was during that period that her #music had jumped up many levels. It is often heard that when in love, the art and the #music in you takes a boost and suddenly, life attains a rosier tint. That is how her passion had seen refinement and she had come up with one of her best pieces that had helped her bag her first contract.

Life seemed as if it had finally fallen into place. He was sure that she would make her mark as a great singer in the playback industry.

And that very day, she saw it. Parked in front of her house was a sleek and shiny thing. The #Zica stood there, proud and modish, cute and classy. She had squealed at the sight.
“Oh my God! What is this?”  
“It’s yours,” he had said simply, handing her the keys.
“You are such a total blockhead! You don’t seriously mean it! It is not even my birthday!” she had cried, thrilled and disbelieving at the same time.
“It’s a big day and you always wanted a car. Now go ahead and drive!”

Thoroughly moved and pleasantly surprised, she got into the sleek and zippy #Tata #Zica that stood stylishly in front of them.
The breeze had never felt sweeter as she drove the #Zica all over the city, loving the feel of the steel beneath her feet, the smoothness of the steering, the plush seat hugging her back. She felt as if she was a five-year-old who had been given a free permit to an amusement park. Instinctively, she had landed a kiss on his cheeks drawing stares from the traffic police at a red light.
But then it is probably life’s purpose to remind us that forever is just a delusion.
And so like a flash of lightning, it had happened. When the news of the plane crash reached her, she had dismissed it. It took her a week to accept that her fiance had been in the plane.

All of a sudden, she found that she was alone. He had gone. Left her as suddenly as he had come into her life. The dream life, she had just gotten used to, had shattered like a million shards of glass. She had been left stranded, bereft, completely alone. Without him, she felt like a cipher.

Since then, a mad restlessness had caught hold of her. She could think of nothing but him. All through the subsequent days, she could do nothing but drive madly on ahead. The #Zica felt like the only connection to him- his gift, his love.

The #Zica moved to her commands while her mind followed a path of its own, her eyes raining tears. She let the winds whip her hair into a mess. She let the speed go up to 120. She could hold it no longer, she had to let it loose. His words rang on in her head. Her lips began to move of their own accord, words issuing forth, words buried deep within her, #music trapped in the confines of her being. The notes of her grief rang loud and clear, trying to drown his voice in her head.  

She parked the car at a spot they used to visit together. Opening the door, she let her legs dangle out of her seat and began to strum the guitar. For many hours, she played and sang, the #Zica her sole companion in her solitude.

Her second contract came a few months later. The #music went viral. But she had lost all sense of ambition. All she now cared for was the car that remained a symbol of their love and all the memories of him that had accrued during their happy times together. Now it was just her, the #music and the #Zica, wallowing in his memories.

#TataZica #Music #FantasticoZica #TataZicaMarathon

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

I saw her on the big day. I had heard she would be there. Guys were raving about her, acting frantic. All butterflies and excitement. The way it always happens. There is always a new entrant. Somewhere or the other. And excited whispers are the usual precursors to the debut. I was used to it all. There were always newbies and always the wannabes looking for hot freshers. But this time there was some extra stir. You ask why?
A) It was to be a debutante – a SHE than a HE  
B) She was supposed to be from among us and most importantly,
C) She shared my initials.

My peers couldn’t stop lionizing her.
“Incredibly sexy.”
“Just too hot.”
And worse-
“She is a Z. too!”

I blushed a deep blue, if that could ever be possible.
B. had taken it upon himself to cause me as much chagrin as possible.
“You seem to have a straight claim on her, you sly Romeo! Or Zomeo should I say?”
He tittered. Somewhere within me, old flames flickered.

“She is just like V.” A. said and my head immediately jerked up. 

V.’s name had caused a current to pass through me. While A. kept on about the new-one-on-the-block Z.- her amazing figure, her mind-numbing capacity, her charm, her oomph factor, her sex appeal, I had already lost interest. I was transported to my days with V. 
B. and A. both knew about her. I know A. was just trying to help, trying to make me forget about the mishap and create some interest in me, make me feel alive again. But she would never understand. And I was determined not to be affected. No one could be like V., no one. Whatever A. or B. may say. Whoever this Z. was, she was nothing compared to what V. had been. V. had been the only one. My only one. There would not be another like her.

V. and I had grown close together. We had met in the factory and our love had blossomed in the expo. I still remember courting her in multifarious showrooms. She was beautiful- purely angelic. There was no one like her. 

So, perhaps it was not just fate that she had to go first. I had expected it. She looked better, she was better in almost all aspects. I knew between us, she would have her first shot at employment. That was not what had caused me the shock. What had destroyed me was when a week later, she had been brought in, seriously injured and almost beyond repair. For days, she was operated on. Specialists came and tried but to no avail.

They couldn’t save her. V. perished and with her, I had plunged into an abyss of despair.
It had been a year since I had confined myself to the darkness of the factory. I had lurked in the recesses of the showrooms, praying not to be seen, not to be chosen. I no longer wanted to live. I wanted to be in the factory with her, with whatever had remained of her.

And so I have been here for a year, brand-new, unemployed. Perhaps whoever looked at me understood by the looks of me that I was a lost cause. It actually came as a surprise to me when I was selected to go for the expo. It was usually for the new entrants. But I guess I was still new or unused in any case…


I was with my kind, next to B., who was next to A.. I was trying to block B.’s constant rant about Z. and her killing features.
“How many times do I tell you that I don’t want to hear about this damned Z.! Will you PLEASE FOR MAN’S SAKE STOP?” I cried, my temper at the nadir of my patience level. 
B. and A. piped down immediately.

And then it happened. 

I saw her. 

Z. She had been put on a pedestal and I had to turn slightly to look at her. 
Something flared within me. I looked elsewhere. But the picture wouldn’t go. Her #impact was unnerving. She was pasted on my mind. There was something unique about her, a freshness, a vibrancy, a certain brio in her that set my fuel on fire. It popped into my head the instant I looked at her. I just couldn’t get at it. What was that word? I scrambled around for it. What was it?

This new Z., a part namesake of mine, was chattering excitedly. My heart lurched unexpectedly. She was just so full of life, so very bubbly and perky and…#peppy, yes! That was the word! #PEPPY! She was #peppy, young, zippy. She was full of zest. That made me smile. #ZEST, shit, she had in spirit what I had in name.

I looked at her for a long time. She was surrounded by eager onlookers, ogling eyes, desirous faces. Some of them were her future drivers and some of them were my silly lovesick companions. Okay, I must admit Z. was pretty. She was young, stylish, smart, beautiful, zippy, #peppy…yes…#peppy obviously! Her infectious energy and enthusiasm had imbued me with a strange feeling.

The next few days saw me chattering animatedly with her. She was nice to talk to, a #peppy chirpy soul, a lovely compatriot. A. and B. couldn’t stop giggling. B. was definitely singed to his metal skeleton. Fumes would probably emanate if his bonnet was opened and checked. I smiled to myself. I was Z.’s best companion as of now, leaving B. and the rest green-eyed. If I now went to them, I would be teased like hell, I knew.  

Being with Z. was so invigorating that I was almost afraid of falling for her.
And then it happened. What I had always feared. She left.

One fine day of the expo, someone took a mad liking to her and she was sold. My panes were beginning to gleam with tears as the ribbons on Z. shimmered. 

Despite myself, I had fallen for her, knowing it was highly probable that she would go. She was the star of the show. It was her launch, after all. And yet, I had the imbecility to fall in love. 


The ribbons were cut and she was driven away, leaving me stranded, empty once again.
“I want this one. It looks sturdier, you know.” Mrs. Gupta was telling her husband, pointing towards the blue #Tata #Zest.
“So you don’t want the new #Tata #Zica?” Mr. Gupta queried.
“Obviously I like the #Zica but I think it’s more suited for Rahul. Why don’t we give it to him?”
“You sure you want this one?” Mr. Gupta’s interest had now shifted to the #Zest.
“I think so, yes.”
The salesmen had now predictably begun to extol the virtues of #Tata #Zest.
In another world, four cars waited with bated breath to hear the verdict of their futures. #Aria and #Bolt looked on while #Zest and #Zica were endlessly debated and discussed.
“I think we better take both of them.” Mr. Gupta said and signed a cheque while four souls nearby rejoiced.
The outcome of it all was that both the cars found their way into the Gupta garage.
The end of the expo saw #Aria and #Bolt waving the new couple off to a blissful life. They were glad that #Zest had finally overcome his grief over #Vista.

Some love stories do end on a happy note. Like the #peppy #Zica with the bold #Zest.

#PeppyZica #ZippyZica #FantasticoZica #TataZica #TataZicaMarathon

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Y sat typing furiously, every keystroke sending a thrill down his spine. He couldn’t believe it. The Aurebesh font shone on the black screen and the keys exuded a red glint that threw his face in an eerie light. He was finally receiving a response. He knew there was something special about it. It wasn’t just the wallpapers, screensavers, storyboards, movie trailers, e-book excerpts or even the concept art, it was something else entirely. He had felt something unearthly when he had touched it. Something electric seemed to have passed through him. A force.

“Audio by B&O Play! This is going to be our movie screen from today onwards!” announced R gaping at Y’s newly acquired HP Star Wars TM Special Edition notebook.

Y winced. He didn’t want his laptop to be public property too soon. But that is what happens in hostels. Nothing is really ever yours.

“i5 intel core processor and 12GB RAM! You can game your a** out, dude! You are one effing lucky guy!” S marveled, thumping Y on his back.

His roommates were more than ecstatic to have a Star Wars Special Edition notebook in their midst. There were the obvious pluses- the god-awesome audio; the considerably improved movie experience, not to mention the gaming affair. Add to that the Star Wars paraphernalia. The frenzy and the psychedelia surrounding it all was palpable. Y deemed himself lucky and kept thanking his father a million times for the pluperfect birthday gift.
But Y knew that wasn’t all. There was something about the notebook that was arresting. Something exclusively related to him. It seemed as if the notebook was intrinsically oriented towards him, although he knew that was such a stupid thing to say. But within a few weeks of spending time with it, trying to locate that which lent it a strange quality, he had hit upon something.
“Submit your assignments immediately,” the Automata professor ordered.
The class instantly began to hurry about. Sounds of scraping chairs filled the room as everyone went ahead with their laptops to get their assignments checked. Y preferred to wait till the majority had gotten theirs marked. He was possessive about his new laptop and didn’t want anything to happen to it. So he stayed on one of the last benches of the class and tested his code a few times. Satisfied that it was working, he switched to his favorite tab of late. The command prompt. He was staring at the response from last night.

“Hey!” Someone spoke into his ear making him jump.
Y quickly pressed Alt + Tab, which took the screen back to his assignment. Z stood next to him, her straight hair falling neatly on her shoulders.
“Hey–hello” Y changed greeting midway. It was an effort to speak in front of her. They hadn’t spoken in, like, ages.
“I was wondering if you could show me your assignment,” she asked tentatively. “Don’t worry, I have done mine. I just can’t seem to get this last test case.” And she brought over her notebook and placed it next to his.
Y tried to breathe normally while she spoke. He couldn’t drive away the past images from his mind. He guessed she had gotten over him. But he clearly hadn’t. Sure, it had been a fiasco, their being together. But a much-loved fiasco, as per Y. He would give anything to get those times back.
“So, should the files be displayed in this case?” she finished asking.
Some strands of her ramrod straight hair were partly resting on Y’s shoulders. He knew she wasn’t aware of it. He also knew that he himself was painfully aware of it.
“So?” she asked again, bringing Y’s attention to her words. 
Why had she suddenly come to him with her problems? Couldn’t she have asked someone else? Probably no one was willing to help. Y drove the thought away since he knew no one would refuse Z. Guys would create the assignment for her if she asked them. He brought himself back to the current situation and tried to assess the situation as objectively and emotionlessly as he could.
“Umm…let me see…” he said, staring into the code and trying to make out what had happened because he hadn’t heard a single word of what she had said. “Maybe you should put an ‘if condition’ here-”
“Is that yours?” Z asked, pointing to Y’s laptop and cutting him mid-sentence.
Y looked at her and nodded. So, his dear HP notebook had got him some attention from his ex-girlfriend. Atta boy!
“Nice,” she said and smiled.
His heart gave a lurch. Was it the doubt that had brought her to him or was she merely curious about his new laptop or perhaps she wanted to renew their friendship…? He forcefully drove away the thoughts from his mind. He didn’t want to have any expectations. He was just hoping she hadn’t read anything on the command prompt. For all he knew she might have, for the way she had stealthily crept up on him.


That night, he stared at the message, thinking of what to respond.

“Are we watching the movie tonight?” S jumped on him unexpectedly, barely giving him time to switch screens.
What was it these days with people? Since when had they acquired this new habit of jumping on him?
“Uhh…let’s see…I have this thing to prepare for…” Y looked for a valid excuse, some project that they had been given, to fend S off.
“Do you want to- like -top the semester or what?” S said, disgusted. “Come on dude! Get a life! The mobile assignment has a week to go!”
Y thanked S inwardly for reminding him and giving him the excuse on a plate.
“Yeah but I haven’t started yet and if I don’t do it, who will you guys copy from?”
S knew most of the able programmers were kind of tight-fisted and selfish in case of their codes. Y was the only one who freely distributed his code. Open source, in the true sense. The force of the argument was too much for S. He couldn’t afford to lose his assignment which he would be copying from Y.
“Okay dude! This time I leave you. Finish this fast. We gotta live, dude! Life is not all work!” Saying so, he went off for a smoke.
Y heaved a sigh of relief. He switched back to the black screen. The message glowed red as before. Magical. Out of this world. Then suddenly came a swishing sound. The sound of light sabers-one of those special features of his Star Wars Special Edition. A new black window popped up.
A new message winked at him onscreen. This one startled him no end. What was this? Another invitation? As if one wasn’t enough.
But this time, it was from the other group…
Now he wished he had replied to the previous message. What was he supposed to do now? Should he reply at all? Or just close the window?
He kept alternating between various windows- sometimes working on his assignment, sometimes staring at the messages. Finally he fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of galaxies, Tatooine, light sabres and what-not.
When he rose next, the laptop was gleaming where he had left it before, the messages blinking like stars in the galaxy and the system clock showing 10 am. The classes were supposed to start at 9. Thankfully, none of his roomies were in. He guessed they had slept off in someone else’s room after movies and booze. He rushed into the bath, somehow clothed himself, packed his notebook and a couple of books in the bag, and rushed off to class.


After the classes, he decided to wait a while in the library, partly to get some work done and majorly for some privacy. He knew both he and his laptop would be hounded at night. And he wanted to reply to the invitations that very day. For that he needed some solitude. And some research. He was still finding it all hard to believe. He scrolled up and found the series of messages beginning with ‘A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away…’ and started going through each one of them.

Y literally jumped and closed the flap of his notebook shut in alarm. Why on earth were people doing that to him?
“Whoa! I am sorry! Did I scare you or something?” Z’s silky voice caused ripples through Y’s body.
“N-noo…” he stammered. “I was just a bit taken aback, you see.”
“I am sorry…” she said and settled down beside him.
He couldn’t understand why Z was being so friendly with him. Not that he didn’t like it. Quite the contrary.
“Did you finish the mobile assignment?” she asked him.
“No, I was at it.”
He was feeling asthmatic again as her hair brushed against his arms.
“Okay…seems as if you were at something completely different when I arrived. You just shut the lappy so vehemently I thought I had offended you.”
“Hey no no no! Don’t take me wrong! I was just a bit zapped. People have a habit of jumping on me these days, so I’m probably a bit edgy. Anyway, you tell me. How is everything? Made any progress with your assignment yet?”
“Not even started,” she said and grinned.
Y’s breath seemed to catch in his throat as the effect of Z’s grin at close range became palpable. He had worked so hard to get her face off his memory. Obviously he hadn’t succeeded much. But now, he knew her face would be pasted on his mind for weeks.
“Okay, good,” he said stupidly and instantly regretted it.
“’Guess I must get going. Catch up with you later!” And she left, making Y feel stupider than ever. Whoever says ‘okay good’ to an admission of an assignment not done? No wonder they had broken up.
However, that night, as he sat checking his notifications, a message window popped up and Z’s smiling face appeared.
“You know what, let me just get to the point,” she wrote. “I guess I have been making you uncomfortable all this while. Let me be frank, I am not a great conversationalist.”
Y read the messages with open-mouthed surprise. Talk about guilt and messing things up.
“It’s just that I wanted to ask you-”
“Hey mate!” S and R bounded into the room carrying T in their midst. “Time for some bashing!” And they hurled T onto the bed.
“Come on Y! It’s time for revenge!”
And they began to kick T playfully, who squirmed in a mock pained voice.
Y ignored them and went back to the screen. Z had already written a few messages.
“What are you up to, well?” S said and came to Y’s side to see. “Since you got this new laptop, you-”
He stopped, staring at the screen. Then he burst into guffaws.
“Oh my God! Oh my good lord! The guy has got his girl back! He is into a reelaytionship again!” he sang.
Y rolled his eyes. “I have got no girl. She was only-” he began.
“It’s okay dude! We get it,” R said in a mock-comrade voice. “Z is mighty pretty. And in the message, she says: ‘I want to-‘. What does she want? Go ahead-read it!”
Tittering madly and kicking each other, they exited the room with T following in their wake.
“Effing idiots” Y said to himself, but a smile played on his lips at the thought of Z wanting to say something to him. He quickly opened the chat box and began reading. What he read next blew away his mind.
“It’s just that I wanted to ask you if you have accessed the portal yet. I am sorry I saw those messages…I couldn’t help it. You were sitting on the last bench and pondering over that message. I was bursting to ask you then. But I thought it wouldn’t be prudent. Anyway, I tried to tell you today. But I guess you didn’t want to share. Anyway, I just want to tell you that I have joined…”
Y was suddenly all confused. What on earth was she talking about? All he could make out was that she had read his messages. But portal?
“Hey…could you go a little slow? What is this portal you are talking of? And you have joined what? I don’t get it.”
“Oh…you didn’t know about the portal? What about the messages then?”
“What messages?”
“The one I saw on your cmd…”
“Yes…I chanced upon that…I sent a few signals and got a ping…”
“Yeah I know. I reckoned you would know. It’s a portal this thing. This whole special edition notebook. I don’t know if you have felt it but there is a certain force exuding from it.”
Y couldn’t believe Z was recounting his precise experiences! How did she know?
“Yes…I have felt it…But how do you know? If it’s only the special edition that is a portal or whatever you say, how would you know about it?”
“Oh well my brother has it. My elder brother. The moment I held it, I knew there was something special about it. And then came the messages.”
“Who told you it was a portal?”
“When you respond to the message, you will know.”
“So, you responded?”
“But you got it from two of them. You got a choice. I didn’t…”
“What do you mean?”
“I got the second message first. The one from the Dark side…”
“And you accepted?”
“It was hard to resist. Only a few get the message. My brother didn’t. I did though.”
“So, what happens after?”
“You are a part of the inter-galactic team. There is a mission that’s about. And they are recruiting from all the ends of the universe. This was an Earth venture…”
“Stop wowing. Whom are you going to reply?”
That set him thinking. It had been about four days and he hadn’t been able to decide which side he was on. The Jedi or the Sith? Just then, another thought creeped in. Why was Z asking him that? Did she want him on a certain side? Was she being sent for it? Or she wanted it of her own accord? Did she still care for him?
“I don’t know yet,” he wrote.
“I guess I know which.”
No one wrote anything for some time.
“The Dark side is enthralling I guess,” Y typed.
“Yeah maybe…”
But Y knew who he wanted to join. Perhaps they were meant to be on opposite sides.
Master Yoda’s words flashed at him from the screen :
“Chosen you have been.
For the mission inter-galactic.
Awaits you the Jedi.
With you may the Force be.”
Y made his decision. He began to key in his response.

“Accept me master, will you?
With me, the Force is strong.”

He pressed enter and sighed. Switching to Z’s chat box, he wrote, “I have replied.”
“Good…” came from her end.
“You won’t ask whom?”
“I guess I know…Somehow we just end up on the wrong sides. Like we did last time…”
He couldn’t believe Z was finally talking about their break-up. He didn’t know what to reply.
Her messages hadn’t ended though.
“You know, I didn’t particularly want it to end…It just happened. I was not aware…I flared up…you have always been the nice guy. Maybe that’s why they chose you. And the Dark ones chose me…”
Y’s heart had stopped in his tracks.
“Listen…I know there is nothing wrong with you. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. You just accidentally got it from them. The Jedi would love to have you, I am sure.”
“You know, perhaps we are not meant to be together…perhaps we will always be at loggerheads…”
A warmth he remembered from a long time ago suffused his heart. She did feel for him. She wanted him to choose her side.
“No…we can be together if we wish. Nothing can stop us. It is all up to you.”
“I have pledged myself. And so have you…”
“That doesn’t mean a thing. I will bring you back.”
Y knew he wouldn’t let intergalactic wars rive them apart.
He wrote to her,“The Force is strong with us.” 
#MayTheForceBeWithYou #AwakenYourForce

~This post is part of the #AwakenYourForce activity by HP in association with IndiBlogger.~

( Winner of the #KnowYourRights activity by BlogAdda )

A rustling of skirts,
A squeeze much intended,
A derogatory word,
An unwanted touch.
She feels nauseated,
And tries to forget,
Hoping that it would never happen again,
And yet it does. 
And again.

Does that story sound familiar to you? Someone groping you from behind or nudging you provocatively? Someone clasping your breasts and making bile rise in your throat? And the bad memories just keep piling up. That, sadly, is the story of every girl growing up today.
Delhi is termed as the rape capital of India and not a day goes by when the pages of the newspaper are not bespattered with incidences of horrendous sexual abuse. From the Nirbhaya tragedy to the infamous Kolkata nun rape to countless assaults on six-month-olds to sixty-year-olds, the extent, means and ways in which such execrable crimes are committed make one question the humanity quotient of such human beings.     

And that is why it becomes all the more important for us to assume a stance of-as Mad Eye Moody famously put it- ‘constant vigilance’. You must have seen that amply-bearded man screeching ‘Sansani’ on ABP News, right? If not, please go and hear him once. If someone touches you on any part of your body which makes you feel uncomfortable- even slightly so- that kind of voice should start shrieking in your head. A large red bulb should start blinking and tocsins should start ringing in your mind’s room. Because then it is occasion to be alarmed. It is time to not cloak the matter but to react. This is precisely why we need to report the wrongs.

You should report the matter
  1.  Simply because you are uncomfortable. Do not think too much or try to ascertain whether your reaction is justified and not too harsh. If you feel abused, let people know. Trust your instincts. Raise your voice.
  2. Because the perpetrator needs to know that he/she will be exposed. Whether it is a stranger in a bus or some uncle in the house, he/she must be brought to book. Do not worry about offending anyone. Do not think about anything except that you were  assaulted and you must let the assaulter know that he/she will not go scot-free.
  3. Reporting the crime will not demean you or sully your name in any manner. You will only be seen as the brave one who had the courage to come up and fight. There is no shame in bringing crime to light.

It will help your physical, mental and emotional health and you will realize that people are there to support you. Each case that’s reported increases the chances of prosecution and brings it one step closer to resolution. You will be able to break the evil chain and lead a better life. It will help you rebuild your self-esteem and bring you closure and peace of mind. To carry an ugly memory, something which has scarred you for life through no fault of your own, is not what you deserve. You, fellow human, have all the rights to report a crime and ensure that the guilty gets punished.

Knowledge is power. Know your rights.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize winning global movement of 7 million people committed to defending people’s rights.
‘Know Your Rights’ is an initiative by Amnesty International India to inform people of laws, procedures and individual rights so that we are confident to act.

“I’m writing this blog post to support Amnesty International’s #KnowYourRights campaign at BlogAdda. You can also contribute to the cause by donating or spreading the word.”

I took a peaceful slurp of the blackest tea imaginable. It seemed to fill my senses with a warmth that penetrated to the very sinews of my being. Spiky and hot. Just the way the city outside looked as seen from the glassy window panels of my office building. The tall columns of the adjacent buildings stood erect, decorated with the evening lights, sparkling and glittering like the stars that had started dotting the sky. 

As I made my way out a few minutes later, gelling and camouflaging myself among the colorful humanity filling the streets, I felt strangely at ease. Snatches of conversations reached my ears, some distant cackles, some rip roaring laughter, some intense phone conversations. I floated through the mass of vehicles, pedestrians, and hawkers. Stopping at a vendor’s stall, I got myself some chickpeas. Then popping a handful into my mouth every now and then, I made my way to the metro station drinking in the colorful sights and sounds littering the atmosphere. 

There is something about this city that feels alive. I can’t point out exactly what. But it’s like a living breathing creature. When I walk over the overhead bridge and look down, I see an array of reds and blues, the shimmering lights indicating the horde of vehicles. Sometimes I think the city looks even more alive at night.

There is a certain #drive in the city and among the population inhabiting it. A certain conviction, a certain plan in the minds of those who hit the roads every day in search of something. Sometimes, I get a chance to peer into the faces of my fellow commuters or colleagues. And therein I see it. This streak of life. This #drive. This ambition. I think it is a common trait of all the city dwellers. Everyone is on a quest, looking for something, on a path somewhere, leading to some place. And the city is like a conduit, a way to it all.

When I close my eyes and imagine what it must look like from up there among the clouds, I imagine peering down at the majestic Qutub Minar, at the famed Jantar Mantar, at the lotus-shaped temple of serenity, at the old minaret walls of the Red Fort with history etched on them in rosy pink and rusty red hues helping to color one’s imagination, at the luxurious gardens abound with flowers, at the seats of central governance controlling the country, at the high-rise office buildings, at the residential complexes and slums co-existing in a symbiotic arrangement. I imagine the historical sites and the museums taking me to olden days of yore, the days of the city’s youth and glory, of riches and splendor, of being the capital –Indraprastha to being the seat of the Mughal empire. The history and the age juxtaposed with the freshness and the novelty of the day bring to my mind a #design unique to this city.

However, the real way the city speaks to me is via the mouth-watering delicacies abound, the gastronomically pleasing street food, the ceaseless activities and events, the innovative spirit of the people, the vibrancy of it all… 

This amazing (and quite an actual depiction) of Delhi 
is courtesy of Divyam Gupta 😉

But then my dear Delhi has its own mood swings. When it’s angry, Delhi will give you such nail-biting cold that the winds will swish their way to your bones chilling them. When it’s upset, it will give you the driest summer of the desert and the infamous loo winds. But when it feels upbeat and is in the mood for mischief, it will let loose its empyrean hosepipes, and like an impish rogue, will cackle with glee, its thunder-styled laughter deafening you and its revitalizing rains drenching you through and through, driving away the sweat of the season. The #designs of this impulsive city are unfathomable but unimaginably beautiful. There is an ethereal quality to it all. 

My #connect with the charming city though is much more tangible and material. There is the lure of trying on dresses at my favorite shops at Lajpat and Sarojini – the roaming in the markets, the bargaining, ogling at colorful clothes and window-shopping, buying innumerable shoes and countless clips and earrings. I love getting lost in the circles of Connaught Place…chasing the pigeons at the central park…feeding the squirrels that prance down the trees in my college campus…pushing peas through the wires to feed the deer at the deer park…taking scenic pictures and the all-important selfies at the forts in Hauz Khas….checking out the local flavors and popular hangouts, be it the lovers’ point of DU, Khan chacha ke roll, Majnu Ka Tilla, Big Yellow Door or some famed chhole bhature joint, and multiple other such small-scale restaurants that shoot to local fame among college-goers.   

I literally squeal to buy the cute crown of flowers sold outside Select Citywalk. I dance at the scent of old paper and older books at Daryaganj, and salivate at the thought of visiting paranthe wali gali and having naan khataiat Chandni Chowk even though I hardly am able to walk due to the lack of even a single inch of space on the roads.
The charms of the city are too many to be listed. All I know is that I go lovey-dovey and dreamy-eyed when someone says ‘Dilli‘. 

You know the best thing about this city?  

It seems to have a unique #connect. The way people seem to have a trait tying them to each other. Sort of an implicit understanding. An imperceptible nod. A kinship which is evident whenever you meet a fellow city-dweller. An informality and a familiarity will put you at ease as soon as you know it’s a Dilliwallah you are talking to. Phrases like ‘arre yaar’ feel like a soothing balm to you when you perhaps go to a new place and suddenly chance upon a fellow ‘city-zen’. The singsong accent and the oft-used (read overused) words like ‘awesome’, ‘velle’, ‘katta’ are music to your ears. You know then, that there is an umbilical cord that the city has installed in you. Yes, you are a Delhiite, for sure.
When I look around myself, I find a veneer, a greyish patina surrounding everything, like a castle in the folds of clouds. They tag this city as the one of most polluted cities in the world. They call it the rape capital. 

You know why? 

Because the old city is like a kind king. He has been scarred and stained, embattled, ravaged and defeated. But the spirit of the man refuses to falter. He has survived all this while, greyed and withered but hardened from experience. He has welcomed all with open arms. ‘Come thither,’ he said and that continues to be his message.

Remember I was trying to pinpoint that uncanny feeling that makes the city feel alive? A strange but strong conviction? 

I realize what it is now. 

The city feels alive because it is like a large beating pulsating heart, throbbing with the dreams, visions and ideas of millions inhabiting its nooks and crannies. 

If you try to fit the city map in the shape of a heart, you might have to crunch and do a bit of jugaadbut ultimately you will manage it, if not the graphic heart image we have been used to seeing, but at least the biological depiction of heart as we have studied in the secondary school. Because it is true after all, that Delhi truly is Dilwalon ki. It is the unrivaled city of hearts. 

~ #Drive #Design #Connect with Tata Motors and IndiBlogger~


Mala took a long deep breath. The day looked young and fresh, the sunlight falling in patches over the bushes that littered the park. Back in her village, she was wont to rise up at the crack of dawn to fill the water pitchers, cook the morning meal and then bask in the glory of the day. She especially loved the mornings because the skies looked freshly washed as if the sun had bathed them in effulgent shades of blue and golden yellow. When they moved to the city about three months ago, for the first time she had been exposed to a sky garbed in various shades of grey and white. Naman had landed a job in the city and they had decided that it would be best for them to move, especially as it would provide an atmosphere conducive to the learning and development of their new-born baby. The little fragile bundle of joy had been made to part with his loving grandparents and their cozy village life, and brought to the city to settle and grow.

After having seen her husband off to work and cooked for the day, Mala had come down with her baby for a stroll in the park. As she walked onward, holding her son securely near her bosom, she remembered all those bits and pieces of advice that her mother and her mother-in-law had given her. 
“In our absence, you must give your utmost attention to the baby. The city is a wide strange land. You may not be able to find your way there. But you must take care of our babu.” They addressed their grandson as their ‘babu’.
In fact, hardly a few days ago, when Naman had made a call to his parents in the village, his mother had wanted to talk to Mala to ask about the baby.
She had begun by giving her tips,
“Don’t forget these handful of counsels regarding the care of our babu, especially his skin. 
Make sure you massage him daily with oil. His teeny-tiny legs need to be strengthened and his muscles need to shape well.
Make sure he sleeps on a pillow filled with mustard seeds! That will help his head shape up well.” 
Mala knew that such a pillow would only be found in their village and she had planned to bring back one when they went home this time. Till then, her lap would have to act as the baby’s makeshift pillow. 
“Don’t expose him to too much sun or excessive rain. Protect him especially from the heat and dust of the city. One knows only too well how bleak the city atmosphere is and how easily one can catch diseases. 
And once the baby starts sneezing, some doctor has to be consulted. Then rain down antibiotics and all those newfangled substances! No need! Prevention is better than cure. Why should a tiny divine creature be burdened with alien concoctions and spurious mixtures? Nature’s cure is the best remedy.”
Mala had nodded her way through the call. She was trying her best to care for her young son.
“Do not use corrosive substances on him. No amount of synthetic clothing or artificial substances. Use only the clothes we have knitted for him. Only the oils and the talcs we have packed for him…”
Mala could only agree. She had taken utmost precautions for her child. 
In fact, she had also fought with Naman, who insisted on using diapers for the baby. 
“But we don’t know if these would be good for the baby!”
“But Mala, they have been especially designed after adequate research. They are much better than cotton clothes, which can only absorb up to a limit. Try this!”
Their baby had started crying, as if on cue. Mala quickly hurried over and changed his clothes. It was a real task to change his clothes every time. It also eliminated the possibility of their going out on long trips in the city. 
“Just try it once. This one is really soft. This is my baby too. I wouldn’t want anything to harm his soft skin.”
Mala decided to listen to Naman. She took the packet from him. There was a group of lovely smiling kids on the cover. She took out a Pampers pad and dressed her baby up. She saw his distress change into a smile of comfort. In no time, he had started to resemble the kids pictured on the Pampers cover. 
“You see? This is the time we pamper our baby,” Naman smiled at Mala. 
Mala nodded. 
As she walked with her baby nestled in her bosom, she felt that she had finally found something safe and soft just right for her baby’s soft warm skin.

Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy. 

~This post has been written as a part of Pampers #SoftestForBabySkin activity in association with BlogAdda~