Miracle at house no. 3-my first children’s book is out!


Considering my latest stint at the park that I blogged about a couple of days back, I’m glad that my book is coming now.  For those of you, who did not understand my words, please go through my second last blog titled ‘The revelation”. I cannot honestly say whether it was my concern for children or my concern of being deprived from friendship, which forced me to write the book.  Whatever it is, it is from the feeling or rather the longing for friends that catapulted my debut novella for children.

As a child, I had always been a loner.  I had friends of my age around me, but they were never there for me. We used to play, but the act was half hearted. I knew it since then that if any problem came, they would be the first one to leave me. And I was right! My mother fell ill and I suffered incessantly from negligence in studies. My father being surgeon also could not devote his precious time to me. As a result, suddenly it was rumoured that I had become a neglected child. I had become a child, who had ruined the chances of studies and therefore had become a potential threat to other children in my playgroup! Thanks to their mothers, who lacked the sensitivity and went ahead and boycotted me from their children’s socialising club.

At the age of 8, I realized there was nothing rather nobody to stand for me, to help me or rather just support me in my endeavours. Being a loner, I started living my world of fantasies. I had my toys to play with, my books and not to mention the hobby of working upon crafts that kept me going. Although, my mother could not pay me attention at times, but I never cribbed. I had made her my life. Every time I played or read a book, I ensured she was a part of it, even if she had to be confined to a bed. I enjoyed reading to her, telling her my own imaginative stories about friends I never had, my success as a student, which I never achieved, my adventures which I never accomplished, but all this made me happy. My mother too was happy listening and believing that her child was so good at so many things. 

When I was 12, I started understanding a few things. I realized that to be a good friend, one had to fulfil criteria, so I started behaving in ways which could fit me into the friend list of my favourite people, but I failed again. I couldn’t put up to the act for long and felt frustrated.  Once again I remained friendless. However, my world of imagination, my hope to have good friends kept me going.

Till one fine day I realized that a few people did like me for what I was and did not shun me for what I wasn’t. I too became fond of them and my dreams started becoming a reality. My existing friends took me and connected to a few more and more. Today, I guess I have more friends than anybody has and the best part is that I know they will be there for the rest of my life. I am glad to have all of them to my credit.

My lack of friends in childhood has made me insecure to even this day. The very idea of losing out on friends scares me. It is this selfish reason because of which I try to remain faithful in all of my relationships. No it isn’t act any more, but my genuine feelings towards them, which is sheer warmth and friendship that ensures that I remain their friend for a lifetime.

The magic of friendship is immense. It has made me confident, a better person I suppose. The very idea of being good, to retain good people in life has made me happy and proud of myself.

When I see the potential of goodness it has, I feel it should be tried by all and what better way to start young! It is for this reason I wish to voice my concern to all those parents, who are unintentionally though, but cutting children from the bonds of togetherness. Let your children explore the wonderful joys of giving and sharing, protecting and loving each other for what they are.  

Friends are their only route to the outside world. Let the very glimpse of this world be beautiful to them. Parents are there, but one day, the birds will have to fly away from nest. They will fly far and wide and pick friends, who can make their life beautiful. If they don’t learn the basics of this foundation, it might just be a little late than you realize. Let them have friendships strong enough to help them survive the rest of their life with a smile always.

My book ‘Miracle on house no 3” explores the lovely bond of friendship and the meanings of it from a toy’s perspective. Although, metaphorical, but toys will help my young and not so young readers understand, what us, the humans fail to decipher at times.

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Also please do grab a copy of my book available at Serene Woods and Flipkart.



You can post your feedback on Sulekha or feel free to reach me on my e-mail id, malavika_ismd@yahoo.co.in as well.


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For the man of my dreams

I finally met him in my third attempt.

The first time I missed him, it was an award ceremony, where my husband was to get felicitated for making it big in ‘WIPRO Earthian’, a B-school competition. His campus placements had begun and due to sheer bad luck, he skipped the event, sending his representative, to fetch the award.

I wasn’t disappointed then, cause I didn’t know the person awarding him. However, a couple of days later when my husband’s representative  arrived with a bouquet of flowers, a certificate and his prize, a decent amount of cash via cheque, I learnt about the man who had been invited all the way from Missourie  to do the honours.

He was none other than my favourite author, the chubby fair man with an infectious smile, Mr. Ruskin Bond. I was so upset and angry on my husband, to have missed his golden opportunity that I made him promise to take me all the way to Missourie to meet him. And he did!

However, luck was not on my side on this second attempt too! We, a gang of 7, arrived in Missourie sometime in mid-April this year. While others were enjoying the cool weather, the pristine locale, the view in front of our cliff hanging hotel and the old world charm of the little town, my eyes kept darting just to get a glimpse of that old man. It was as if I expected him to stroll along the streets waving to the passersby.

I had gone fully prepared about the place. I had done my research to learn about the process of meeting him and everything else about the little town. In fact, the more I saw the town, the more I felt as if I’d known it. Of course, I did, but through Mr. Ruskin Bond’s words. He showed me this lovely town replete with its bazaars, natural beauty and above all the localities and their language. I had never felt so thrilled to be in a town that looked so strangely familiar.

 I remember it was a Saturday afternoon, the next day of our arrival, when I was lazily walking along the streets of the buzzing Missourie bazaar. I was accompanied by my husband and our friends, when my husband stopped to gaze at the peaks of the far away mountains. He and his friends went to a little boy, who for a meagre sum of Rs. 20 allowed us to peer through his binocular and take the view. It was breathtaking. However, more than the view, I was interested to meet my author, so I inquired right away.

And to my sheer happiness, he nodded and told me to rush to the spot where the author was expected to arrive. I was thrilled and almost jumped to my husband’s embarrassment. I told him to rush with me and so we did. I don’t think I have ever walked this fast on roads, which are in a perpetual state of incline. My feet ached, but my determination fuelled the energy. I had learnt that I could meet him in a book shop, named Cambridge bookstore, where he came every Saturday to meet his readers.

The moment I arrived, I looked around nervously.  I had made many plans of talking to him, but then I just went blank and didn’t know what all to talk. I guess I was saved from the trouble because the shop owner told us that he was out of town and wouldn’t be back before the next day. I was disappointed, yet again.

My friends cheered me up and promised to get me back. Seeing my crest fallen expression, the shop keeper offered to help me. He gave me Ruskin Bond’s telephone number. My hands shivered. Was reaching to or talking to Ruskin Bond that easy? I was happy. I had something to look forward to.

So next day, I called him up to hear his voice coming from the receiver. Although, he did not give me the permission to meet and hung up abruptly, I was secretly happy to have him talk to me, even if it meant for a few seconds. Disappointed and sad, we rushed back to the book store and requested the shop keeper to help us get an appointment, but unfortunately he said that the author was already lined up with several appointments and was not free before the next week.

Next week was not in our schedule as we were heading to Rishikesh the next day. I was thoroughly upset. I had come to the town, to just meet the man and now, in spite of all my efforts, luck failed me. I cried like a child, who had been deprived of his favourite dessert. My friends consoled me saying that they would again bring me back up to the mountains to meet my author.

Post my planned visit to Missourie, I had never thought of meeting him again. However, god has his own plans.

Just two months after the incident, I made a trip to my cousin in Bangalore. It was an unplanned trip to Bangalore in June. It was one fine day, when I sat and flipped through the pages of the newspaper at my cousin’s place that I came across a big announcement. ‘Mr. Ruskin Bond will be visiting Landmark, Forum mall for his book launch “Hip hop boy, when nature calls”’. That’s it! I said to myself, feeling elated at the prospect.

Although a bit apprehensive about my possibility to meet him, I started becoming superstitious in my head. I said that I was a no.3 child so maybe anything 3 or third will be good. Maybe a third attempt might fetch me a face to face meeting with my author. And it was! With a little bit of luck and my brother’s help, I managed to be on time in the bookstore. After what seemed like ages, I got to see the most lovable man in my life. I guess I like him because strangely though, he reminds me of my own father. Fair complexion, a rounded build and a spectacled look makes him so much like my father.

When I saw him, amidst a swarm of his fans, I was thrilled. His presence lifted my spirits. As he went and sat on the stage, he looked around casually to feel the presence of his readers, who mostly were children of sorts. I longed him to look at me, but I guess I was expecting too much. How can his eyes, of all the people, linger and then sit only on me? That’s absurd, I admitted in my mind.

The event began with his book launch, where he read a few poems and engaged in an informal chat session with the audience. I as usual had gone blank and couldn’t remember a single thing that I wished to ask. It wasn’t like there was nothing to ask. In fact, I still have a huge list of questions for him that I have made from his books, from his experiences and above all out of my sheer curiosity. I guess I was just too nervous and pleasantly shocked to see him in flesh and blood.

At last, when I went up to him, with a book for his autograph, he wrote my name and signed hurriedly. I don’t think he even looked at me. I guess he felt the need to be quick because of the long queue of book signings.

If I have to sum up that moment, it was big, but it could have been bigger. I wish he had talked to me about something, maybe his books to make it a little more special. It was a quick book signing event, where I did not even get to talk to him other than telling him my name.

Two days later, Penguin organized an online chat with Mr. Bond. I was thrilled and went away firing my questions and citing how happy I was to have met the man, who made my childhood so memorable. To my utter bliss, he answered all of my questions and even agreed to read my first children’s book, which has just released. I knew I had hit the jackpot cause for me nothing else matters but to be read by my favourite author.

As for a more personal face to face meeting, I guess I’ll have to wait for another time. However, whenever that happens, I’ll just make sure that its way too big and the effects last for this lifetime.







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A revelation

A couple of days ago, I was strolling in the park that lies adjacent to my new house. It is a huge park, connecting several societies that are on its periphery. This allows the residents to breathe in freshness and enjoy the luscious greenery sprawling all around.

I too decided to enjoy the fresh air, especially after an afternoon rain shower. The earth smelled wet and sweet, and coupled with the sweet scent of the fresh seasonal flowers, drew many a people in the evening. I was enjoying my lazy stroll, looking around without much attention, but inhaling the blend of sweet scents, when suddenly I heard an irritable voice. It was shrill female voice. More than the voice, it was the tone that irritated me. I looked around to find the source and came across a fat lady, who was scolding a child, perhaps her son.

The little boy did not look more than ten or twelve year old. He looked pale and small. After I looked at his gigantic mother, I knew why he looked so small. He kind of shrunk with her words. She was a heavy buxom lady, who wasn’t that big, age wise, but yes physically, she had reached a 100. She was holding a notebook and a pencil in her hand and showing it to his son threateningly. I got worried, for the boy, of course!

I quickly decided to move over the bench that was lying close to them. I quickly plugged in my Ipod headphones into my ears, bobbed my head and pretended to enjoy the music.

“How many a times do I have to tell you to not say anything to Suresh about your homework?” she yelled at the little boy, who looked on the verge of sinking into the soil. The boy blinked several times and played nervously with a tendril as his mother flipped through the pages.

“I knew! I always knew you will not do well. Only if you had listened to me and not given away your homework so willingly, you would have been the rank holder!”

“But ma, he was not well. He suffered from jaundice. He couldn’t have made it without my help!”

“Bah! Who said! Are you the only one in the class? He knew you were the stupidest of the lot, so he came and asked you for your work.”

“We always play together, that’s why he asked me first,” the boy admitted sheepishly. He kept a decent distance from his mother, who had already acquired a shade of light pink. He knew another sentence would fetch him a tight slap.

“Oh shut up! What if it’s a plaything! Does he ever give you anything? Does he ever give you any notes when you fall sick?”

The little boy kept quiet and then after a moment he said. “I never ask him. Maybe if I ask, he will…” but he did not complete his sentence.

His mother shot a menacing look and the little boy shook his head in agreement.

The lady thrust the notebook on the bench in front of her and looked growling mad at her son.

“Next time if you do any such thing, don’t you dare come to me!”

The little boy had tears in his eyes. Gaining some courage, he moved over to his mother, who had turned away from him and was mumbling under her breath.

“I’m sorry ma!” the boy confessed. “I’ll never share any of my homework with anybody.”

He pulled his mother’s pallu and kept persuading. However, the mother looked far from being easily persuaded. At last, she gave in. She picked up his notebook aggressively and thrust it into a bag, a school bag that lay along the rose bushes.

“Its fine”, she grumbled irritably giving in to her son’s pursuits. “Next time onwards, please don’t do anything this stupid. Had Suresh not got this piece of home work from you, you would have fetched more and been a rank holder in his place.”

The little boy looked disturbed, but agreed to his mother. He tried to take the bag from his mother’s clutches, but the lady looked determined. They both rose and made way, discussing their plan of action, which was to not tell anybody about studies.

I took out the earphones, smiled to myself and thought hard.

What was the mother making her son? She was teaching him to be selfish and self-centred. Today, he was being taught to not share notes, tomorrow he might be taught to do something else, something worse! He might grow up to be academically rich, super successful, but will he be able to take on the challenges of the world. Forget about any other world, but even the professional sphere might suffocate him or might suffocate others due to such people in the system.

Will there be the concept of healthy competition anymore? This was cheating, out rightly! I was aghast and upset. I couldn’t sleep all night and kept on thinking about the future of our children. Will they ever learn the magic of giving and nurturing, the magic of friendship, the magic of being together in critical times? I wish there was something that could make the parents understand and reignite the spirit of love, share and care into their children, but I guess they need a lesson first. What say?




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Green tea cupcakes!


Today being a Saturday, I thought of doing something, that was not-so-regular. With my husband not around, I had no worries for cooking a seven course meal and so I indulged in some quick fix Maggi for my lunch. However, as the skies darkened, my stomach grumbled for something more. It was true I was craving for something nice, but didn’t have the energy to bring myself up to cook something fancy. So, I decided to just enjoy the weather with my hot cuppa green tea.

I had just infused the tea leaves in boiling water, when an idea struck me. Why not make some green tea cupcakes? That’s it. It was like Eureka discovering Archimedes principle. I jumped and rushed to my book shelf, to grab hold of my ‘Cakes and Bakes’ book and work on the recipe.

For green tea cupcakes, one will need:

100 ml of milk

2tsp of green tea leaves,

100 grams of regular butter, softened (the recipe called for unsalted version though),

125 grams of powdered sugar,

2 medium eggs, at room temperature,

150 grams of flour, sieved twice

A mix of ½ tsp of baking powder and a pinch of cooking soda/soda bicarbonate.

While the rain poured, I decided to enjoy the tea first. However, I made sure I readied a few basic things for the cake batter. With the oven set on preheat at 190 degrees, I boiled the milk and infused it with the mentioned amount of green tea leaves. I did this first because it was to stand for 30 minutes to absorb the flavours and the aromas of the tea leaves. I experimented a little more and added a mix of 1 tsp of jasmine green tea for enhanced the scent. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

After 30 minutes of tea soak, an elaborate tea drinking ritual and a light drizzle, I geared up for further work. I sieved the flour twice, along with the baking powder and soda and kept it aside. The sugar was powdered and mixed with the softened butter and two eggs. The texture was a lemon yellow thick buttery liquid that looked golden and delicious.

Into this liquid mix, went the strained milk that now smelled of jasmine green tea. The liquid was then poured gradually into the dry mixture, ensuring a gentle folding with every addition. After about three additions, the batter looked smooth and bubbled. The bubbles highlighted the proper incorporation of air and therefore, required immediate baking to prevent this loss of air.

The cupcake moulds, which had been lined with paper cups, were quickly furnished and the batter was poured till half. The batter makes around 12 cupcakes and I was simply lucky to have all of them fit in well on to the baking rack.

The cupcakes were then allowed to sit for 20 minutes. Though I was tempted to bake a little more, I resisted. Although the cupcakes were completely baked, which was post 20 minutes, they still looked very yellow and raw. It was a tooth pick insertion that ensured that they were baked perfectly to a tender, moist texture.

I enjoyed the refreshing green tea cupcakes as I ate them, relishing them with every bite. The texture contrast was funny. The cupcakes had a slight crumbly texture on the outside, especially the top, while the inside was soft and fluffy. They had a very mild jasmine aroma along with the freshness of green tea in every bite. It wasn’t strong, but subtle and left a lingering freshness of green tea at the end.

 I tried a little something to go with the plane Jane look of the cupcake. I had a little fresh cream in the refrigerator, so I used 2 tbsp of the same and blended it with 2 tbsp of cherry preserve. I know I hurried and slightly messed it up, but still the granular cherried cream didn’t look that bad and momentarily though, lifted my spirits. A dash of cocoa powder completed the decor further.

As the rains spattered my windows, drenching my little squirrel friend, who was perching on the outside, I decided to treat him to my creation. A little apprehensive initially, he did accept my treat and what a lovely sight. He nibbled despite the heavy rains and enjoyed the cupcakes as much as I did.

With my little friend, acknowledging my creation, my laptop and the rains around, do I need anything else to heighten my spirits? Yes, maybe another bite into a green tea cupcake!





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Hunger woes!

Life was tough, not just for the soldiers who were on border but also for me.

My mother had gone away to my maternal grandparent’s house, leaving me and my siblings at the mercy of our father. My father self-proclaimed not just the house’s, but the kitchen-in-charge as well. Things had been fine, before he thought of becoming our mother and discover his own version of culinary laws.

He would argue with my elder sister over cooking ethics. Debates as to how many brown spots a decent chapatti should have to how much oil the vegetables should float started taking place during dinners. Fed up, my sister accepted defeat and allowed him to display a few of his culinary skills.

She was our last hope to see food resemble as food. However, ever since my father took over, that took a backseat. We would often find him jumping and yelling “Look, I’ve boiled an egg!” as if he had invented wheel. I mean what can a poor egg  do in boiling water, but boil? Anyway, had that been an end to his culinary discoveries, we would have appreciated his efforts, but he went on with more.

I had to suffer and chew charred, rock hard boulders of varying sizes in the name of chapatti. We used to gulp it down with gallons of water in an effort to pride the fact that he cooked. Dal came in two varieties, one in cemented form and other in running water form. Vegetables started wilting under his presence. Brinjal did not resemble itself but became smelly refuse. My father had successfully started transforming peat out of spinach. Eggs stuck to the pan, refusing further torture. Cauliflower and ladies’ finger had started showing signs of torture and wilted on seeing him.

However, I once did have some courage to speak so as to end injustice, but in return I received a good amount of lecture, comprising issues of national interest. Topics such as ungrateful children, devoted parents, state of world’s agriculture, hunger, starvation,”practice makes perfect”, man should not live to eat and best chefs were men, were all thrown at me for my presumed inconsiderate behavior.

He even packed my lunch box with what he considered to be his breathtaking, sensational creation. They were because they always managed to cause sensational yet strange uncomfortable feelings in my stomach. My stomach growled no longer from hunger but food. I often used to open my lunch box on the way to school to prevent some sort of chemical reaction that would make the contents explode. However, my mates often started complaining of bad smell from me and once even thought that our bus was on fire.

My class, three, section A, was in a ruckus. The entire class was discussing the breaking news of some Tiffin thief.

“We need to find him at once, before he gets on with other things”, said Nikhil, our class monitor.

“Oh! What if he steals pencil boxes, water bottles and even money?” cried a concerned mate of mine name Neha.

“What can possibly be the reason behind all this?” asked the class monitor with conviction of a detective.

“Hunger”, I replied. At which the entire class smirked.

Seeing my gullible answer, the class monitor threw a dismissive glance and suggested for every one’s bag inspection. He, whoever lacked a tiffin would have a prime motive for theft. However, he was disappointed to find everyone’s tiffin intact. Someone even suggested informing our class teacher, but that was like suggesting that let police kill the villain instead of hero. So the plan got cancelled and strict vigilance was prescribed.

In spite of strict vigilance, administered by the monitors, thefts continued. My monitor simply consoled and hid his defeats by assuring a dreaded class that it would end real soon. But meanwhile they happened one after the other. On one day it was Sahil’s tiffin that comprised chapatti; just warm from the fire and soft baby potatoes laced with spicy, tangy sauce tasted brilliant.

Similarly day by day tiffins started making a disappearing act. Once it was Shikha’s mayonnaise sandwiches. The gooey irresistible cheesy liquid was as good as was the succulent meat inside. Apart from that Sanjay’s biriyani was finger-licking as was Gayatri’s leftover birthday cake.

However, as predicted the thefts stopped soon, just in a week.

My mother arrived and seeing the signs of torture on her house, was filled with guilt. She was filled with remorse and loved us more, thanking her stars that she had not lost her children. She too appreciated my father’s effort of cooking, but winced in pain on every bite of his so-called creation. She, like a polite wife, told him to take care of his health and soon resumed her position, relieving us from further murderous cooking.

I  normalized and was not approaching the dinner table with trepidation like that of a soldier towards an enemy camp. I started believing in god since then. In fact had it not been for him, I would have succumbed during that torturous week. But he saved me and I guess, I need not tell how. He definitely took care of my hunger woes!

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Unbuttoned-the agony of a shirt!

I am happy to be non-functional these days. Though I miss my old-self at times, I have programmed my brain (wherever it maybe) to accept life as it is. Earlier, I had a useful life, where I thought I had a purpose to live, but the very fulfillment of the purpose was too cumbersome. I suffocated in the process of achieving my silly master’s super-silly targets. He thought I was not doing my job responsibly and pressurized me, till I refused and gave up.

What could I have possibly done? I was doing well and was with him for over the last three years, all through his thick and thin (literally). I tried to give him hints about how impractical his acts of putting pressure were, but he’s a thick skinned animal. Sorry, rather a thick skinned fat animal, which refuses to accept that he’s no more a human ,but a huge lump of unwanted, highly hazardous fat. Yes, that is exactly from where the actual pressure had been coming from.

Bloating is an attribute which looks good only on balloons and not humans. To prove my point, he bloated into one and I had nothing to say. He has now achieved the size of a perfect balloon, or maybe a large ping-pong ball. It is because of this that I have given up my job. I will not say fired, but happily rejected the offer of remaining enslaved.

Every day, he would try me, test my patience, in the hope that I will make him look good. I tried to, but failed. Initially when he was accommodating, we shared a good rapport and I did make him look well.  Quite impressive I must say, but then what. He started making troubles, by being difficult. I requested, but my requests went unheard and unseen. I shot back many a times in the hope of some kind of an adjustment. There were adjustments, but just by me. It was me who all the time had to bear the brunt of that forceful pressure. One day I realized that I was left with no other choice, but leave. However, before leaving, I wanted to give him that one last chance of making things straight.  I gave that one last try, giving away that last button like a gunshot, which I had held onto so closely.

In spite of that, he failed to absorb the message. He failed to understand that I needed some love, care and most importantly some respect. Anyway, why to cry over spilt milk? Now as I lie, washed, dried and neatly arranged in the warmth and coziness of his cupboard, I feel uselessness is bliss rather than a curse. At least that is what I feel when I hear others discussing the issue.

Many of my substitutes now shiver in the fear of being pressurized. I only know that they too will have to give up at some point of time. As for me, I am eagerly waiting for some similar friends, who will have their own stories of personal harassment and trauma. Nonetheless, at the end of the day I know that they will be happy. Rather relieved to have unbuttoned and attained a life of sheer bliss, like me. I just hope they do it faster than me and seek refuge like I have in this dark world, which has all the brightness. As for my master, I hope he realizes that if he continues to behave like this, he will not even have a world like ours, neglected, unattended, yet pleasurable and far from pressure.


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A perfect toast

This is a little story that I wrote long time back, when I was in Pune. This is a comic narrative of the very real woes that some of my friends suffered. I have simply twisted and turned the plot a little, to bring in a little laugh. I hope my readers enjoy this short tale!


Life was beautiful before he came. The moment our eyes lingered on that pathetic soul, we knew that we had committed some heinous crime in our last birth, to be repaid in this way.

Like a cautious criminal, not leaving any traces of his crime, I too am cautious and am deliberately tampering with the details of the victim. Hence, am naming him as Mr.XYZ or to justify my frustration let it be, the Parasite.

I still cannot forgive the friend, who unknowingly made the mistake of showing him our place, but even he can’t be blamed. As a human being, he had to defend himself from every possible source that causes pain. And this parasite causes indescribable pain and acute paralysis of brain. It feeds on your food, your resources, your life and practically your blood. To top it off, it does that in an oversized shape of a human, looking nothing less than a wild pig.

It was a fine day in August, when three of us were chilling out, only to realize a little late that it had been the last day of our happy lives. He came like a hurricane and whizzed past our lives and wrecked havoc, just like he did to our house. I won’t say that our house looked like a picture out of some interior decoration magazine, but it looked like us, a little unkempt, a little disfigured. Despite all that, it reflected our image in every nook and craning. It boasted of either our clothes, piled up on the sofa in the living room, empty beer bottles in the dustbin or a dinner cum junk table, which always had more amounts of tools and toiletries than food. All this changed with his arrival.  Our house looked quite alien with his unwanted things and presence.

Within a few days of his uninvited arrival, we frantically thought of many ways to get rid of him. Many signs were used to clear the fact that we, the three musketeers were not able to tolerate or rather will be tolerating him. But, nothing seemed to work on that thick skinned wild boar, which had become immune to insulting remarks. On the contrary, the more we said, the stronger he emerged in his ill will.

We had no other choice, but to live with the curse. Affording an apartment single handedly in an upcoming metro was not a good idea unless desperate. But, let’s face it that is exactly how boys, who have not got into the legal form of slavery or marriage, live. However, in our situation, that option also looked bright, cheerful and optimistic. We detested another dear friend who was no longer living with us, was enjoying his marital status and using it well to mock at our futile attempts. Nonetheless, apart from office, his house had often served as a refuge to give shelter to our blood and energy drained bodies.

Come September and one good news cheered us for a fraction of second. One of our friends left for his onsite project, away from the chaos to finally live again. That left only two of us, who had nothing, but to suffer the paralytic attacks silently and helplessly. I was jealous and cried on my luck, which was as hopeless as that parasite.

To ignore and avoid his participation, we started making out plans involving just the two of us, but he managed to bear the fruits of our plans directly or indirectly. If we cooked something, he made sure he ate a major portion of that, if we went for shopping, he had his own list ready and if we planned for an outing, he got stuck like a chewing gum. Whatever we did, wherever we went, he was omnipresent. We felt physically and mentally restricted in doing our own thing.

Our bodies had started showing signs of his torture. My friend’s blood pressure soared as he had started boiling his blood so often over thoughts of killing him. I always felt tired and too lazy to even get on with my studies because of the routine household work after office.  What troubled us was while we worked like jack asses, he enjoyed and derived pleasures by riding on our backs and hitting us with that invisible whip, whose pain affected our brains adversely.

We almost had given up when the brilliant plan struck. Though distant, it shone like a silver lining in a dark sky.

“Why didn’t we think of it earlier?” my friend asked admiringly. The thought of becoming free again brought tears into his eyes.

Before he allowed his imagination to run, he jerked and sat upright.

“But, we need to do this very carefully” he added.

“I know and that’s what we have to plan. We will start looking for a suitable execution method from tomorrow”, I said with some conviction.

The endless suffering had taken a toll on our bodies and brain, leaving us with no other choice, but executing the plan, which seemed inevitable and deserving to him. Instead of controlling and curbing the pain, it was better to eradicate the disease, which meant killing the parasite. And that is exactly what our plan was.

But murder has its own problems. How does one kill without being discovered? Since we did not have a murderer’s mind, we decided to fall back on the crime and detective stories we had read, for inspiration.

For the next few months, we devoured every book on detective and crime. From ranging to books by Alfred Hitchcock, James Hadley Chase, Feluda and Sherlock Holmes to the sub standard crime and investigative television serials, we covered everything to get novel ideas. We tried to collect the many ingenious methods of murder our favorite authors had written about. Until we realized with a jolt that, in the end, the murderer was always caught! This meant that no matter how good the methods were, they were never foolproof!

Reluctantly, we decided to browse our own mental faculties for inspiration. Having browsed for days about the crimes we had read about, we concluded that we did not have that violent streak in us. We shuddered at the possibility of stabbing or strangling him or do any of those bad things. They were not our forte. Besides, it would be too difficult a crime to pass off as an accident or natural death and of course, we didn’t want him to suffer. It was our duty to be kind, we told ourselves.

We finally decided on something that would be instant and not cause too much pain, like an electric shock.

My friend’s eyes twinkled as he suggested the brilliant method. “Yes, that would be perfect. Many people die out of electric shocks and this one will also be like any other accident!”

Both of us jumped together on the ingenuity of the plan.

I also convinced myself that it was a quick and painless method. No wonder it was a favorable choice by even big nations like US, who took it as their way of executing criminals and ours was a criminal by every respect. But the question which disturbed me the most was the device that can be used to impart electrocution.

“We need to figure out the exact device and the method, so that it looks like an accident and not some murder attempt, which means we need to study a few things about electric wiring and the proper electronic gadgets for the task.” I said.

Like a good student who had done his homework my friend smiled and said, “Oh don’t worry. I’ve googled some important stuff regarding wiring and all. Wait till you see it”.

He brought over his laptop and I was amazed at the dedication and hard work of my friend, who I wish could have shown the same a little earlier. Maybe his recent method of “agile methodology” for his projects in office, had taught him to be agile on time and come up with a spectacular plan.

We went through the plan again and again before jumping onto conclusions. The plan seemed effective and brilliant, of course. We admired our genius brains for the perfect scheming. We assigned tasks amongst ourselves and pledged to end injustice.

Never in my life had I been this attentive to Physics, but again that was because I never thought of using it in my favor. As I read more, I smiled at the prospect of making our honorable teachers proud, who would have felt so had they seen us studying so hard.

Many a times I had read about it, but never had the information sounded so interesting.  I found that the voltage necessary for electrocution depends on the current through the body and the duration of the current. Ohm’s law states that the current drawn depends on the resistance of the body and the resistance of human skin varies from person to person and fluctuates between different times of day. In general, dry skin is a poor conductor that may have a resistance of around 100,000 Ω, while broken or wet skin may have a resistance of around 1,000 Ω. This information clearly required our victim to be wet, which cut out many options in electronic gadgets category, leaving a few.

Another natural and obvious choice for the gadget had to be something, which the victim used on a regular basis, so that the odd ones could be wiped out. After close observation, that left with only two possible choices-washing machine and geyser. However, the use of former was again rare for the parasitic creature as he hardly did any washing and cleaning except himself. That left us with only one suitable yet an effective option-the hot water geyser.

With my part of homework done on selecting the device, it was the turn to use my friend’s researched information regarding the wiring. Like some research scholars, we lapped up as much information as possible. We studied about every part of the geyser and its functioning in detail.  Finally we learnt the method and decided to execute the plan.

Just a night before the D-day, when the victim had gone off to sleep, I added a few finishing touches to the water geyser, so that it worked well. I made it sure that no one used it except our target.

The night had seemed invariably long and restless. Both of us couldn’t sleep as the thoughts of one of us using the device accidentally, intimidated us. Throughout the night, we alternately kept visiting the bathroom, ensuring that none of us used the crafted masterpiece. Though nervous, the idea of getting freed from the clutches of slavery and torture excited us, making us insomniacs for the night.

As the day cracked twilight, both of us woke up and checked the geyser, to find the work intact. Had it been some other day, we wouldn’t have bothered, but it’s decent to ask a man of his last wish.

Geyser on karde yaar!” a sleepy groggy eyed buffoon had answered.

Like a good hangman, I did what was told. Eager to pull the noose around the neck, I obediently switched on the geyser and waited for that long last scream, signaling our road to freedom.

My friend was already doing puja and praying for getting everything right, when the huge pile of moving flesh made its way into the washroom. A click brought a smile on both of our faces and we waited with bated breath.

Ten, Fifteen, Twenty minutes gone and still no sound, forget about a scream. After about half an hour, the sound of flush was heard. Our heart was pounding to the extent of being audible and the sound of flush had almost stopped it. Calming down, we heard attentively for the next sound. Next we heard the sound of tap and gushing water into the sink, but still no sound of scream.

“Did you install it properly?” my friend asked with arched eyebrows, questioning the authenticity of my work.

“Of course I did!”

“Then why isn’t he screaming?”

“Maybe he isn’t touching it as yet.”

“But usually he does it first and that doesn’t take this long!”

“How am I supposed to know why he is taking time?” I said sounding annoyed at my friend’s accusatory tone.

Another click and we jumped.

The victim casually walked into the room and locked it from inside. In that fraction of second, I dashed into the washroom to check on the set up and found it intact. Without looking suspicious, I went and whispered about it to my friend and sat on the sofa. In a state of half panic and half restlessness, we sat doing nothing, but simply twisting and turning our fingers.

Another fifteen minutes and the victim emerged fully clothed. We looked as if someone had stripped us off our clothes.

“You didn’t take a bath?” my friend asked. He had more anxiety than surprise in his tone. Controlling his tone immediately, he further added, “Kya hua? Are you all right?”

“No, today I’ve to leave early. I’ve to catch a flight and I’m already late”.

We watched him in disbelief as he slung his laptop bag and wheeled his big suitcase out of the bed room.

He cleared his throat and said, “I’m leaving to Nagpur for about a week or maybe more. I’ll let you guys know when I come”.

As he rummaged to find something edible in the kitchen shelves, we slumped back on the sofa. My friend looked disappointed to the limit of being sick.

As the sound of the lift became distant, my friend turned around at me and asked, “Now what, Mr. Smart pants?”

I opened my mouth to say something, but no sound came. Words refused to come out of my mouth. We stared at each other and suddenly I found my friend shivering. A focused look and it all dawned that he had gone mad. He was laughing uncontrollably. I stared waiting for him to normalize to his senses, but soon I too gave in. As we laughed, mocking at our efforts and bad luck, we forgot all about our failure.

The week that followed was the best. My friend had made it into one of the prestigious colleges of management and was soon moving out. Since I had no desire to die in a ruthless way, I too decided to shift. However, things turned in my favor. The moment my desire was voiced, the parasite too decided to shift. He came after the trip, took his things and announced proudly how he had found a perfect place to live, but unfortunately would not be able to take me in. As if I cared!

On the contrary, I was the happiest person on earth as I could stay back in my old, unkempt lovely house again. The only problem was in paying the entire rent, but that seemed an insignificant problem in front of that overgrown roach.

These days I’m too busy in toasting my success that has been brought about by fate. Never did freedom seem so wonderful and relieving as it does now. I am also glad that our freedom was achieved without the stains of blood and in a true gandhian, ahimsa style. Well, as I raise this toast, I know that this will remain a perfect toast in many years to come. So let’s say cheers to our independence!

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Happy father’s day!

For Father’s Day last year, I had a plan. For years, I never wished my dad or did anything special for him on this day. And the reason was because I had no clue as to what should be done. I didn’t even have a hunch that there was something called “Father’s Day” too. Ideally, it should have struck me with the advent of so many relationship days, but anyway, now I was all geared up to surprise dad.

And so I went shopping. I bought a lovely bouquet of violet and pink carnations, coupled with white dahlias. Then I bought a nice silk tie and a fancy looking souvenir because he was fond of good looking things in life and I was sure he would not mind me paying for them as well.

Off I went, zooming in my car, enjoying the morning sunshine. I reached his place, walked up to his gate and swung it open. There he lay amidst the beauty of nature. As I placed his gifts over the tombstone, I read him aloud his gifts and wished him well. I hope he was surprised. I would feel happy if he did!

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Rum and raisin cookies


What could be a better way to use rum, especially if you’re not a connoisseur of the drink? Well, for me, it’s in cooking. However, I’m not one of those who can get experimental with it in regular main course, so I tried it in something which I am best at. Nothing but sweet and that’s exactly what I did with that bottle of “Old monk” rum.

Had it been for my brother or my husband, they would have helped me by saving the trouble. Needless to say how!

Anyway, since I was alone and had the bottle in my easy access, so I geared up to make rum and raisin cookies. It’s an old fashioned recipe for the cookies.

For it, one requires the following ingredients. Please follow them in their exact proportions.

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rum
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

I started off by taking a clean vessel, into which I added the said proportions of rum and water. It smelled funny, but I knew it would become ‘the’ reason behind the punch in the cookies.

After about boiling it for a minute, slow down and simmer. Now at this stage, I added the raisins and simmered till the raisins grew plump and juicy, absorbing the flavor of rum to its fullest. One needs to stir it in order to prevent it from sticking and getting burnt. Simmer till no watery residue is left and the raisins stand dry, in spite of being swollen and juicy. After the needful, the rum soaked raisins were allowed to cool. Twenty minutes is all that is required to let it cool completely. However, depending upon the patience levels, regulate the fan speed. Lower the patience, faster the fan speed!

Meanwhile after setting the oven to preheat at 170 degrees Celsius, I went about gathering the dry ingredients into a clean, dry bowl. It’s always better to sieve the flour, soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl as it allows the necessary aeration.

In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter. I used a hand mixer, set at medium speed. The mixture has to be beaten for quite some time, till fluffy. After adding egg, it was beaten once again.

To this buttery batter, the dry ingredients are added gradually, stirring gently with each addition. Finally, the raisins were dropped and stirred well. Don’t beat at this stage.

The dough should be put on a greased butter or parchment paper, kept on a baking tray. However, ensure that a minimum space of about two inches is left between the cookie spread. Bake for about 9-12 minutes until brown. On touching, the cookies may be a little soft, but that’s how they’re supposed to be. Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and place them on rack to cool completely. Owing to the pulpy, juicy texture of the rum soaked raisins, the cookies will be soft and chewy inside with a crisp coat on the outside.

Though this may sound and even look a little disappointing to those who’re in awe of the typical biscuit texture of a cookie, but trust me the taste will be nothing less than sudden enlightenment.

With just the perfect amount of sweetness, these rum and raisin cookies make a perfect getaway from the boring sugar cookies. It’s a must try for all those weak hearted, weak as in for cookies! It’s what I call the real comfort food.

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Chocolate chip oat cookies

Another month to go before I vacate my comfortable living in ISB. It’s sad, but there’s no option. My hubby’s program is drawing to a close and so the preparations of shifting to a new location have to be started.

So as I geared up trying to figure as to how I should wind up some routine activities and exhaust my kitchen stock in a month’s time, I decided to make a list of things to be done in a month!

I discovered I had so many food items left unused, so I made a plan of action right away.

From today onwards, I’ve decided to make use of each item and create some culinary magic out of it! It could be something novel, or a regular dish with a twist! That is the catch! I wish to try my hands and make use of each of these ingredients in something different and so I start!

There was a packet of oats lying in the cupboard for long. I do eat oats, but at times it gets boring to have it regularly by way of porridge or upma, so I decided to make the best use of it, which was to convert them into cookies. Although, I’d baked oatmeal and raisin cookies sometimes back, I wanted to make something new this time and so I gathered around my all-time favorite baking books.

And Voila! I did come up with something different with oats! They are called chocolate chip oat cookies! My favorite cause I know I could indulge in chocolate with a little bit of health thrown in by way of oats! That means I get to cheat!

Happy with the idea, I so begin! Here‘s the recipe for all my cookie loving friends. It will make a batch of 20-22 medium sized cookies.

125 grams of unsalted butter/regular oil

125 grams of powdered refined sugar

1 medium egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

125 grams of regular porridge oats (Quaker oats would do!)

150 grams of plain flour (sieved)

½ tsp of baking powder

200 grams of dark chocolate chips or regular chocolate bar, broken into small chunks

As I preheat the oven at 180 degrees, I get whisking away the butter and powdered sugar first. After this, I add the egg, vanilla extract and oats. Once blended into the butter, the consistency of the batter will resemble something gooey.

Hence, to reduce the gooeyness or stickiness, I quickly blend in sieved flour and baking powder. One need not go about beating the batter vigorously as careful, gentle blending would give away the perfect texture too. Into this go the chocolate chips. I love the clunky sound the batter produces in process. The chunky pieces remain intact and firm, making the resultant dough look like a freckled face!

There’s a small tip that I would love to share at this stage of cookie making, which is to refrigerate the dough for ten minutes before it’s put in the oven! This will ensure that the cookie dough, when placed over the greased baking parchment, doesn’t spread, but remains firm and has a good shape!

After the specified refrigerated time, place a greased baking sheet (butter paper) on the tray and place the dough, shaped in small flat rounds. Ideally a space of half a finger (index finger) should be left in between each rounds of dough. This will give sufficient space for the cookie to spread.

Now put it in the oven and wait for the magic! Ideally it takes, 12-15 minutes for the cookies to brown and bake completely. Do not worry if the cookies, when pressed, feel a little soft. They will harden eventually.

As I sit and relish the aroma of vanilla and chocolate wafting in the air, I can’t help it and feel like cheating right away and so I take my first bite of my home baked cookie. Umm! It’s yummy!

It’s evenly browned and gives that perfect crisp sound. The butter and oats add to the crispiness, while the big chocolate chunks add sudden bursts of chocolaty taste in the mouth. It’s heavenly!

It looks and feels great to have another cookie milestone achieved! I hope the cookie lovers also enjoy it as much I am doing right now! J

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