plaitsnponys

Where Talent meets an audience…

The Last Sunset…

So is this the end of the world as we know it? Lounging in the stifling comforts of a bedraggled former paradise is the silent hope that none of that was ever true. That somehow somewhere there was someone watching over the calming force that swept past her face and coaxed her into its harsh absurdity. The ram shackled remains of Satyr’s betrayal was all that rippled past in cruel contrast of the cold cataract of emotions pursing through her veins. 

The shadow of that day had long since weakened on her retina. The light had escaped from behind her creative lashes- like her essence had been drained from her being the way the women in Mumbai’s slums would beat the dirt out of the laundry; the purpose a polar opposite. A broken record, the memory kept playing before her eyes- like a futuristic pair of glasses forcibly adhered to her skull compelled her to relive it’s morbid veracity. 

Satyr aka Satyaram was the boy who would leap off the tallest branches of the village landlords mango trees to steal the prized fruit for her rosy lips. He would turn up bruised and battered like a war veteran fresh from the barracks at the Line of Control, clothes stained with the recently brewed muck of the dark earth below the tree top he had just abandoned . He would merrily lead Parkiram, the frazzled, thinning old man, who technically used his cheap coconut leaf broom to beat up errant village lads more than to rake up the stubborn leaves his beloved trees would shirk off in disgust during the scorching summer months, through a physically draining set of laps around the massive property. All for Pari, he would  justify to his pricking conscience. 

And His Pari loved the attention she got from the boy she so idolized. He was not mean like tall Raquib or petty like Manveer or proud like Laheera . He doted on her like the big brother she never had and the village panel never saw it any other way. He loved Ammi’s ghee fried chappathis that she would faithfully dole out early Sunday morning and Baba’s slow and tired tales of how the irregular monsoons wrecked havoc with his annual yield. 

He would sit glued to her side from dawn to dusk like her own personal slave, all governed by her late grandmothers death bed wish. A much younger Satyr, whose family drowned in the throes of financial turmoil, crouched low at Baddi Ammi’s bedside, waiting with baited breath for a faint whisper of a command- a glass of water, an extra sheet of cotton to cushion her aching bones, anything. But besides an occasional grunt or groan in agony, no sound escaped from Baddi Ammi’s parched and cracking lips. And then she spoke, in a volume disputed by those around, for the sole purpose of Satyr’s hearing ability. “Pari…” She croaked as she made an effort to reach for his young hand, He knew what his Baddi Ammi had asked of him as the light went out from behind her eyes. But that was years far gone for Pari to recollect any such binding contract, in her youthful languor, skipping around while the others bid adieu to Baddi Ammi.

Now, well into the mesmerizing beauty of her youth, she failed to comprehend the complex set of thoughts that Satyr tried to force upon her. Faced with the impending ‘doom’ of a loveless marriage and a partner qualified in age to be her father, she knew not of the “ways of the world” her Ammi kept referring to that prevented her union with Satyr. She had forced herself to believe that the feelings had been mutual and not much against any such “ways of the world” her Ammi kept mentioning much to her chagrin. Neither did she understand how a union that had the blessing of the family matriarch could withstand any other such obstacle the world could throw at her, them. And in all of this, Satyr had left her side- exposing her to her first taste of disappointed hopes. Unable to wrap her tender mind around her bleak future after the ruckus at the village carnival involving a hot headed priest, a stubborn Satyr and a distraught Pari, resignation seemed the only alternative. 

Under normal circumstances, he would have been the one to help her out of sticky situations but he too had fled, leaving not a trace behind as to his whereabouts, taking with him his family- lock, stock and barrel. Growing up with him through school and tears, she never really understood the employer relationship her father shared with Satyr’s family. A simple contradiction to the exertions of a willing heart. 

And yet here stood her last sunset, dipping behind the shades of murky blue in a hazy blur at the edge of the horizon. The betrayal had left her broken, irreparable and unforgiving in the cold light of the morning that would dawn. Societal doctrines barred her from attempting any of the  youthful responses of freedom she had learnt all too well. But Satyr had left, and with him he had taken all the possible eventualities of hope, freedom and happiness..never to return. 

And her last sunset sunk behind a thick creamy curtain of the deepest blue she had ever seen..

 

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
Rabindranath Tagore

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The Old Lady and The House…

Nothing remains of that old house and nothing remains of the old woman. This isn’t a story of the house but of the woman. Not about the house being razed to rubble to be replaced with a two-storey, landscape hogging, eye-sore of a construction either.

It was that 5 am history studying that woke me up with her. I needed an alarm, she needed the cold of our hilly geography to alert her to the arrival of dawn. And with seeing her run the pipe-chilled water from the government tap to do her laundry, it never failed to remind me of the story that the village served up about the woman whose Sunday best’s had a plight worse than a common kitchen rag. Nonetheless, she cared for them the only way she knew how. Coming to the village gossip.

Her story started out like any other, living the village dream with her husband and son. It became one-dimensional with the passing of her husband and her world and all became her only connection to him-her boy. But when that cursed serpent took her son from her, he robbed her of all the treasures life had presented her with because with her son, she lost the house as well.

That’s when I met her. That quaint old house stood locked and bolted for the better part of the day and I never glanced at it twice. Stray dogs strutted through the property at will, mating and birthing in cycles. Weeds grew green and brown through the monsoon and summer respectively, not a force in play to hinder their progress. The tiled roof stood proudly blackened, a testament to the years it had borne the brunt of the winds and water that lashed it during the rains. White paint stood steadily stroked with the light brown dust kicked up in a delicate caress, like a painter would have on his blank canvas. The windows that surrounded the place stood forever shut and when I first moved to the neighbourhood, I was certain, in all the wisdom of my eight years, that the house was positively haunted (mind! the stories I was fed with did no good to change that misconception). The rust kept eating away at the iron bars that clung stonily to the aged concrete of the windows and the doors creaked with the weight of termites that were burrowing into the beams that held up the roof.

A well sat bang in the middle of the compound wall that parted her land from the next plot and it seemed to be her only functioning object linking her to her former life.  On better days, when the lunch hour had worn dry, you could see her painstakingly draw from it, her bony frame cringing from the effort and exhaustion of her other menial work. In the hot and humid Mango months, she would go the extra mile to pluck a mango or two from the tree in the next property. That I would assume would go towards satisfying her hunger at dinner. Common sense predicted no other choice.

As the sun would turn into an orange disk in the distance, she would then gather up the thin cotton shards of clothing she had left to dry on the tall weeds that grew unabashed beyond her wall. I honestly could never decide if the weeds tore holes in her clothes because the fabric had worn thin or they were just worn before the weeds got to them.

As the day would wind down, she would lurk in the balcony and never once enter the house that I always assumed still belonged to her. It was one fine Sunday afternoon when that gaudy blue hatchback drove up into the compound and made her beat a hasty retreat did I put two and two together. Like I said, the serpent had stolen her son and her house. She was homeless and living on the cold floor of the balcony to her former house. The world turned on and nobody seemed to notice.

Sometimes she would notice the young me next door, sneaking a peek at her while she went about her activities while the blue car owner was not around. The look in her eyes, now fixed in my brain, was the saddest form of resignation to one’s fate I had ever seen.

Years crumbled by and the old house had grown weaker with every passing season, its former owner meeting a similar fate. But all that came to an end when one morning, around eight years ago, her house no longer stood to fight its losing battle with the elements. The blue car man had made his presence felt and on the foundation of the old house now stands a big blue building. And the old lady disappeared without a trace. Whether death claimed her as his own or the heartbreak of losing the last of her worldly possessions drove her to a distant land. The village gossip mills have dried up about the old lady and the house now……

 Old Lady

My salute to the old lady….

For showing me that NO MATTER HOW HARD IT GETS…LIFE GOES ON…

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The Horrors of Paine Street

Dedicated to someone who thought Romance was the only genre I dabbled in…

 

 It was the stillness, she decided as she dragged her coat firmly across her chest, covering up as if to protect herself from the shivers of fright that crept up her spine with every step she took. Darkness was all that kept her company along that lonely road and her stilettos were not of any assistance. The party buzz was slowly wearing off in a layer of sweat that trickled slowly down the back of her neck. Her head felt the slight weight come back down as the effects of all the green apple vodka and tequila shots wore off. Not too long ago, she could have run this marathon barefoot and not feel the strain on her lethargic muscles.

One drunken car sped past ignoring her like a piece of scenery. Now she definitely knew that her buzz was wearing off, those red tail lights of the car weren’t all that fuzzy around the edges. So much for relying on the high to get her home before the pain of her sky high heels ricocheted through her swollen ankles. It was like those Hollywood horror movies, owl hooting in the distance, eerie noises emanating from bushes and crickets spelling impending doom. She could almost hear the high pitch scary background music that’s added for effect. The roads were wet and slimy after the recent downpour and while wishing she wouldn’t be trapped in another one based on slight winds picking up along her bare calves, she would take the pain associated with such orthopedically nightmarish shoes if only she could make it to her apartment and soak in that warm hot tub she had recently installed.

Coming to this weekend Farmhouse party had been a mistake. While Callie and Brett had managed to convince her into a night of letting her hair down for a change, they hadn’t anticipated the crowds and her lack of self control when it came to free flowing alcohol. She had downed shots with a frequency that would put seasoned alcoholics to shame and the high had led her to frolic with strange men she wouldn’t have been seen sober with. It was all coming back now in a less hazy blur. She had to walk home now. Callie and Brett were still partying away at the farmhouse, or had probably passed out on the lawn like the probably hundred others already there, hoards of bodies surrounded by the pungent stink of vomit and sweat. Somehow she had snapped out of it and knew that getting out of there was her best bet, even if it meant crawling and tip-toeing over the humans sprawled around the place.

It was that high frequency screech of tyres that spelt impending doom to her. While her motor skills were a little slow on the reaction time thanks to all the alcohol she had downed, it took her a while to put two and two together and make out from the approaching lights that the car had come from the direction of the farmhouse. If she were slightly more drunk she might have thought of signalling them down for a ride home. Again, it was that screech of those tyres.

Turning back and hoping the driver would ignore her like a part of the road, she continued limping as the narrow toed shoes clamped horribly around her toes that were screaming to be let out. That warm tub never sounded better.

Soon the lights grew blinding as they drew closer and she stiffened. Becoming road-kill was not her intention when she set out four hours earlier to enjoy the start of a long weekened. But tonight wasn’t her night to make the trip to hell. It came and ended in a matter of seconds. Blink and miss.

Road @ midnight

What seemed like a sleek black Hyundai a minute ago was now billowing smoke out the front with glass shards all over the road. The massive boom scattered a huge fleet of bats that were hidden in nearby trees and it made her regret the alcohol once more. One thought hung heavy in her head. Whoever was in the ill-fated car, would not survive a collision of such proportions.

Shaking the dizzying implications past her quick enough, she felt her lip gloss tumble out of her purse as she fumbled around for her cell phone. Whenever you look for something you need urgently in your purse, you almost always never find it! she remembered Callie wail one night at a pub because she couldn’t dig out her compact in the crowded little girl’s room. Finally laying hands on the slim phone that had sunk to the bottom amidst all the other unnecessary things she carted along, she had almost made it to the car when she began to dial for emergency help. And that’s the moment she lost her breath. The air bags hadn’t deployed and in the passenger seat a head full of familiar curls tumbled out the broken windshield. It couldn’t be. The perfectly twirled blond curls that were Callie’s trademark, the blood that was now staining that perfectly golden head, couldn’t be hers. Hysterics took over and while all she could cry to the response team was the fate of her friend, coherently providing direction of this middle of nowhere address was something her alcohol tripped brain could not wrap around. It was only when a paramedic wrestled her off Callie’s cold and limp body that was jammed tight between the dashboard and that darn seat belt that wouldn’t come free, that she realised that Brett was behind the wheel. While he too was in just as bad shape, there was a paramedic that fought to free him and she began to feel the hot, angry tears that pooled black streaks of mascara around her face.

It felt like a guillotine around her neck as Ben, Brett’s brother, put his arm around her shoulder as they waited for the doctors verdict. The tears kept streaming down her cheeks in an endless cataract. Callie just had to make it. Brett was the reason she was in surgery and as much as she liked him, he was responsible for all that had happened to her friend and she could not get that image of Callie’s head where the windshield should have been. The waiting felt like days but the nightmare had just begun. Brett was pulling through. Callie didn’t.

She had Ben stay over because the commute to the hospital each morning to see Brett would be a lot shorter. But it wasn’t Ben she was concerned about. She lay awake in bed till after the sun had come up with images of Callie refusing to leave her eyes. By then the alcohol had worn off, leaving her mouth dry and Ben’s coffee run had done nothing but reverse what she intended to achieve. Rolling and twisting didn’t help. It only wrinkled her sheets in one big messy pile. Finally, she was just about getting the soft wisps of brewing coffee from her bedroom door when she realised that Ben was awake and probably on his way to the hospital. Sleep chose that moment to lull her into its deep curtains of oblivion.

It had barely been an hour when sweat began beading along her forehead and the duvet subconsciously flew off her legs. Maybe Ben had switched off the air conditioning on the way out by mistake. The switch was right next to the garage door switch. Walking out of bed with her eyes still clamped shut and a slow drumbeat picking up pace in her head, she made her way to the air conditioning controls to the house. She flicked the switch on and turned around to walk back when she ran into Callie standing before her. Her hair tussled across her face, blood streaming down the side of her face, bloodshot eyes and without that smile she always wore. Instead she started screaming “You didn’t take me with you!! You let me die!”.

“Callie!” she yelled, grabbing the sheets around her. It was just a dream and she was still in bed but the image of Callie standing in her living room had driven all the possibility of sleep from her body. Callie was really gone and she was in living hell without her.

She saw Ben standing at the end of the long white corridor. On seeing her, he walked towards her, stuffing his hands into his pocket.

“Hey, you didn’t get any sleep did you?”

“No. Not really. How’s Brett?” she asked

“He’s getting better. He woke up just sometime back but he’s hurting badly. I haven’t told him about Callie yet. I was just inside and he kept asking about her. I was wondering if you could go in and talk to him?”

“Okay. I’ll try.” she said slowly nodding her head and feeling a fresh batch of tears stream down her face as she moved towards the open door at the very end of the corridor.

Brett was lying lifelessly on the bed in the very middle of the room, with bandages plastered across every inch of skin. Hearing her enter, he shifted his head ever so slightly towards the door and said weakly, in a whisper barely audible “She was just here….”

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The Complexities of a Salaried Sky…

The alarm clock was always their arch nemesis. The first rays of sun breaking past the blinds was always a harbinger for the toil ahead. For the bread-winners. Their salary. THEM.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” CONFUCIUS.

Alarm, covers aside, Bedroom slippers, toothbrush and a 100 watt smile. THE OTHERS.

The complexities of the working world has these polar opposites forced to work in a mutual cohesion in order to rotate and revolve as usual. The sparks were bound to fly and the tempers were bound to steam like the whistle of a pressure cooker just before it explodes in a hoot of steam.

salary

Some have the luxuries of a short journey to their desks while others have to leave the safety of their ancestral homes to earn the little they do. Some of the tales are real tear jerkers.

How is a father of a toddler in need of all the joys offered by childhood supposed to provide for his little boy? Monetarily and emotionally handicapped. Monetarily for his meagre salary is meant to take care of the financial aspect of their existence and emotionally because his nocturnal shifts prevent him from spending some quality time getting to know the curious trysts of his learning toddler.

How is a mother of two supposed to make it home well after sundown and churn up dinner in time for her kid’s bedtime? Hers is a torment of responsibility- to her job, her pay-cheque and to her family.

Then comes the eternal cash crunch and long awaited salary deposit in their bank accounts. Fortunately technology has aided their curiosity with the updates right to their phones- the most awaited text message of the month! A single simple delay is sufficient to drive out any ounce of patience and sensible conduct.

As for the OTHERS, the salary is the added bonus to the already satisfying job that means the world and so much more. But, like always, there is two sides to every coin. How fulfilled are their personal lives that they are able to satisfactorily isolate their professional and private lives? It’s fathomable to have a certain percentage of residual home-work but being an insomniac and checking work emails in the wee hours of the morning to suit your employers in another time zone? That’s when you know you have crossed a line..

Complex aint it? Yet we never stop to think twice about how these fine lines separate the haves and the have nots. How a simple difference in outlook can push us over the edge-favourably or unfavourably.

Stop at this juncture and put yourself in some category. You know what to do next…

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Canada: A World in a World…

Grow outside that little shell, O caterpillar!

The world so vast and wide awaits,

Lined with mindless beauty and praise,

A heaven with depths of grace…

O Canada! Our educated minds offer us promises of the famed Niagara Falls and the CN Tower, but what they fail to mention, that little asterisk at the top, is the promise of utter fulfilment. Let’s go over the promises and compare it with the reality, shall we?

Niagara Falls. A dream in itself. Education teaches us of the horseshoe falls that separates Canada from the United States of America. The reality spells a different tale. The drive past Industrial Hamilton and on to the postcard like Niagara on the Lake winds you like a sucker punch to the solar plexus would. Quaint little tourist homes painted in light pastel colours offering B&B’s line the streets of Niagara on the Lake. White Horse carriages. Flora..

While the actual town is teeming with tourists making their way through the myriad stores offering ever so enticing wares, the bustle thins to a trot as the majestic wine county arrives. Vineyards line the entire boulevard up to the lake itself and the proud owners can boast of more than just a rich grape harvest. With grape wines that threaten to hit the horizon, the expanse of the green carpet is nothing less than mesmerizing!

Jackson Triggs Winery

Coming to the falls. The drive begins with a subtle rustling of what seems to be a distant river. Once the thicket of trees clear, the subtle rustling transforms itself into an imposing roar and the sight is enthralling! What appears to be a field of the most blue water you can perceive, garnished with billows of whipped cream like foam, is the actual build up to the famed Niagara falls. It is entirely hard to be underwhelmed at this juncture. And before you can actually see the massive expanse of tumbling water and the death promising plunge to the eventual bottom of the falls, you lay eyes on God’s own promise: the rainbow, which like a ballet dancer gracefully positions itself in a steady arch of the VIBGYOR chromatic spectrum.

Niagara Falls

That’s when the falls begin to appear slowly, the spray of the descent rising up in a spotless white cloud. And when the picture is finally complete, you realise why it was a dream in the first place! The grandeur of this natural wonder makes the many miles of travel to see it, so completely worth it for every tourist also pushing past and against the safety rails while competing for the best vantage point of the falls for the ultimate picture. A memory. A lifetime experience.

Niagara Falls

The wine county. Yeah, you have to come back for a second glance. It is truly worth the time! Like a shard of a dream, a movie you never thought you would be in. And an actual vineyard? You can reason all you like but nothing beats the satisfaction of being able to eat a grape straight off the vine and then spit out the seeds embedded in it. While the winery and the manufacturing process is engrossing, the dream-like experience is something a movie can never give you.

Jackson Triggs winery

Downtown Toronto. That’s the home to the famed CN tower, if you didn’t already know. It welcomes you from a distance, a landmark of epic proportions. And only when you finally do ascend to the dizzying height of a hundred and fourteen storeys to the glass floor and feel the tingle of fear in your toes, do you begin to appreciate the civil engineering that has gone into its making. While they so confidently encourage you to jump up and down on the glass, as if defying the load bearing capacity of the massively thick glass designed to hold up to five times the capacity it is supposed to handle, courage comes only to the fearless children you see pounding on the glass with their little body weights. And if you read the brochure a little carefully, even the carpeted portion of the glass floor is also made of glass! That is just to give an illusion of solid ground to the faint hearted! Ah, the view! Even the Absolute Condos in distant Mississauga are not to be hidden from this wonder. So you get the gist…

Below the CN Tower, Toronto

But that isn’t all downtown Toronto has on offer for eager tourists to feast their eyes on. Once in, you can’t help but wish you could marry Hollywood royalty to live on that street: The Bridle Path. Home to stars like Jim Carey, The Bridle Path is a must have postage code for the “IT” people in Canada. With the most basic houses starting at a few million dollars, there is no wonder why this neighbourhood is exclusive and fairy-tale like.

The Bridle Path, Toronto

The Toronto harbour cruises. While the jovial tour guide gives a comic introduction and a completely magnetic commentary to the history of downtown Toronto’s metamorphosis from an industrial hub to a commercial metropolis said to house more than 2 million people, the slowly plummeting temperatures are no deterrent to marveling at the beautifully still back waters of the Toronto islands where many a Hollywood movie have been shot. The return to the main land only reminds you that an hour has passed when it felt like minutes instead!

Downtown Toronto

Moving further east is the very stately capital of Canada: Ottawa! While you are left stunned with the sheer magnitude of Parliament Hill, the Peace tower and its many tolling bells and martyrs room leaves you gawking in admiration.

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

And you’re sorely mistaken if you think that Ottawa is just about that! The Cathedral of Notre Dame with its gold leaf design on midnight blue ceiling is so beautiful that it can give you a complementary spondylitis too. Stained glass windows line the huge sides and add a rustic charm to entire decor of the church. That isn’t all either!

Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa

There’s the Natural Gallery of Canada with its Ron weasley terrorising spider up front and massive.  And for those of you who enjoy the peaceful murmur of running water and the associated beauty of marine life, there is always the Rideau Canal and Hog’s Back.

Spider, National Gallery of Canada

Hog's Back, Ottawa

Further east is the capital of Québec, Montreal. While the traffic clogged streets and complicated navigation is a sure minus point, the end result is well worth it! The Notre Dame Cathedral, Montreal is majestic in all its humongous glory.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Montreal

St. Joseph’s Oratory at the top of a hill, with its panoramic view of almost all of Montreal is in simple terms: Gorgeous. While the oratory in itself is filled with tourists, some in search of a genuine miracle, a visit to the room of crutches is truly humbling. The dim glow of hundreds of candles doesn’t fail to shed light on the stories of lives attached to all the crutches left in that room by their former owners. Inspirational, if not anything else.

St. Joseph's Oratory, Montreal

Waterloo. No, not the ABBA track. Waterloo, Kitchener. The actual places. Steadily growing and with a rustic beauty of its own, Kitchener is a quiet little town visible for miles from the windows of any high rise in the vicinity. Even a gloomy and cold day can’t reduce the natural beauty of that place.  Waterloo on the other hand is noted for its University, the campus of which is nothing short of incredible and impeccably maintained.

Kitchener

Heard of Mennonites’? yeah, you get a glimpse of Mennonite folks with their horse driven buggies and head scarves and sober clothing. How refreshing! Simplicity, the very definition.

Mennonites, Waterloo

Coming home from all this serves as an eye opener to the world. A world of its own in this massive world we live in. For those lucky enough to have witnessed and felt what I did in that short time will understand the real depth in the above claim. For the rest however, my word is credible enough to merit a chance, a visit, maybe.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.”

Saint Augustine

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is the change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living”

Mary Ritter Beard

Canada- chances

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Before the Walls Cave In…

The rain splattered like bullets against the silica of the glass and the wind blew around like Dennis the Menace in a particularly petulant mood. Even the tube-light flickered like a candle in the wind and the fan seemed to slow down to a trot, all in fear of the hell that was breaking loose outdoors. The only ones who seemed to enjoy being outdoors were the long and leggy coconut palms. You should have watched them go! The rain water sat in a glowing streak along the smooth, green bed of their leaves, the wind led them into a playful dance but for such tall ‘lassies’, they remained grateful none the less.

Warm and wrapped snugly in a soft, pink quilt, the bedroom window in itself was like watching live television. The village had quieted down- even the old, mad man in the parallel street. Every soul had probably been marvelling at the thought of being safe in the confines of their dwellings. Once again, the lights outside and indoors flickered like cool water on a hot frying pan -sizzle! crackle!

Heavy Downpour

Even the neighbourhood dogs had taken shelter under a ledge of the blue and white 2 storey-building next door. I could just as much picture them huddled together on the flooring made of broken black and white tile pieces, wishing away the cold. Yet the wind remained violent and the rain determined.

The run-off from the hill slid down past on the cracked and creased old road in a soothing stream, a gentle pattern forming on its topmost layer. Beauty in the very splashing sound as it made its way to the gutter down the road. There, and it would lose its virgin transparent colour and settle with the larger currents filled with brown silt. When the shower reduced to a drizzle, the same pattern left by the stream, sat firmly in the silt that lined the road, a brown footprint of its being there.

Rains

Then the lights flickered off and died in a flurry of sparks. The big red box that was the transformer to the underground cabling sat darkly in the shadows as the world went black, my vision impeded.

Moans of despair flooded the formerly silent night air from the houses nearby, dismay in every note. Even the rain was disappointed, to be fair. Everyone had moaned for their blacked out television sets screening the daily soaps they are addicted to or for an internet connection that was so abruptly snapped- that chat on that social networking site was oh! so important! For this, the rain moaned! And wept! All year round it had longed for their attention but now it felt like nothing but an uninvited guest or like an ugly duckling in a ballroom that nobody took notice of or that people detested at first sight. And so it wept harder, bitterly almost, while the wind consoled it with mindless entertainment using its might.

Toddlers took the golden opportunity to wriggle away from their mothers’ loving laps, the force-feeding had crossed their limits of tolerance (you could tell from their angry and duped mothers’ yells), while others shrieked in fright as the dreaded darkness and imaginary closet monsters sprung to life before their very eyes.

Through the noise and from a distance came the shrill tears of a newborn probably awakened by the rains’ ruckus or pangs of hunger that happened to coincide with the same. The rain seemed to quiet down out of respect to the grandmother cooing to the baby in the pitch black of his nursery.

The mad man in the parallel street shouted at his usual decibel level, desperate for something he lacked in the moment- company, warmth even sustenance probably. And it repeated like a bad echo, streaming through the night.

All so suddenly, the lights burped alive! Collective gasps of joy resounded and from somewhere, music sounded and even a few phones buzzed but now the rain had mellowed down to a hazy mist. But by then the toils of the hours before had worn down hard on my weary eyes drooping with sleep and wonder at the sight before me… The pair of immaculately draped pillows beckoned with promises of clouds, flowers, mirth and bliss… Now who can refuse that?

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The Stylings of a self-confessed Home cook!

For these delicious Cottage Cheese & Mushroom puffs

Cottage cheese and mushroom puffs

I find this perfectly swift and healthy for a quick dinner after a long day at work and you are forced to wrestle with the idea of making something the entire family will love.

You will need:

8 sheets of store bought spring roll base

250 gms of cottage cheese, chopped

500 gms button mushrooms ( 1 packet)

50 gms cheese

2 onions

Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 tsp of oil

Salt and pepper to taste

A paste of flour and water (to glue the base together)

 

How to go about it:

1) In a shallow frying pan, steam the cottage cheese with the mushrooms with salt, pepper and a little oil. Cook well till the mushrooms shrink and the cottage cheese is perfectly crispy.

2) Add the freshly chopped coriander and stir. Do not cook it for more than two minutes! (I like my coriander a fresh green and not black or tan…).

3)Fold the sheet of spring roll base in half and cut according to how big you want the puffs to be. As for me, I like them small and bite- sized.

4) Add the filling in the center of the base, add small cubes of cheese for taste.

5) Seal the puff using the paste of flour and water.

6) Grill in a pre-heated oven at around 180 ‘F for around 10-15 minutes.

7) Cut long, thin strips of onion and caramelize suitably. (It adds a lovely earthy sweetness to the contrast of the tangy cheese and the pungent pepper)

8) Once the puffs are cooked, garnish with the onion.

And that’s about it! It looks and tastes just as gorgeous!

It’s a lovely snack too and isn’t much trouble either… Try it out this weekend, I am sure it will be a huge hit!

 

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In Memoriam of Finn…

He found his true calling in a gym class shower and never looked back after joining Mr. Schuester and his Glee club. True he was the head cheerleaders’, hot jock of a boyfriend, but Glee! was his other side, an alter ego perhaps.

His charming smile had Barbara Streisand competition Rachel drooling all over him- reel and real life. And who’s to blame her for that? A jock with a heart, personality and who could belt out songs too. His tussle with Noah Puckerman over Quinn Fabrey’s attentions drove him straight into ready Rachel’s arms and opened up his eyes to chance at true love. Finn- He had me at Hello!

Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith, or popularly called Finn, was part of Glee’s star studded cast for all of 4 seasons. And while he added nothing but lustre to the already brilliant and engaging show, his personal life suffered from the strain of it all. Rehab came calling and after what seemed to be a recovery, he was back on the streets, arm in arm with the love of his life, Lea Michele. But that fairytale ending was not be and the false façade shattered quicker than it was made.

Cory Monteith and Lea Michele

Cory Monteith, Glee! star and heartthrob of millions like myself, passed away ever so suddenly on July 13th 2013.

A part of me refuses to believe the dreadful news- a state of shock I find myself in. But to the hero of one of my favourite TV shows- You lived your life like A Candle In The Wind……

Cory Monteith

R.I.P Cory Monteith

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Pour Mon Amour…

Destiny smiled upon us,

One sunny Monday morning,

One life changed, irreversibly, forever,

While neither anticipated the coming..

 

Annoyance is what struck  soundly first,

An unwilling heart to change any,

Scarce familiarity wedged us apart,

Drawing the unwarranted attention of many…

 

Steadily the eventualities changed,

And shyness drew away,

The initial professional demeanour,

Wilted and brought surprising hope everyday!

 

You wormed your way into my affections,

A task ever daunting to achieve,

Our stars aligned and it made perfect sense,

On first meeting, a feeling unperceived…

 

Compelled to care like never before,

The rainbow appeared, happiness anew,

It made fairytales seem childish,

Brewing love, faith and hope in one colossal stew..

love

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After “Monday’s Child”…

by Louise Bagshawe

Monday's Child

What starts of as an endless tale of self pity parties, binge eating (or if the term stress eating is more fashionable) and emptying endless bottles of champers, G&T and whisky, “Monday’s Child” is a refreshing take on the proverbial damsel in distress story. Here, the damsel is never the ‘Belle of the ball’ and the hero emerges, unlikely and unexpected, from the dark shadows of a coat closet. While the chances of a happy ending after a loveless engagement and scores of misconceptions is seemingly dim, Anna Brown, predictably, enjoys the ‘and they lived happily ever after’ ending.

Coming to the story in itself, the characters are detailed to a crisp perfection, right down to Anna’s flatmates’ gorgeous head of golden curls. Anna Brown, an ordinary reader (Script reader) for the Dolce wearing and Chanel toting Kitty Simpson at Winning is desperately unhappy with her devil of a boss. While co-readers John and Sharon are pleas of pathetically mundane and shallow excuses for humans, with John nursing a not-so-secret crush on his boss Kitty, and Sharon, well, just utilising her feminine charms to avoid being fired-by the skin of her teeth. Now the damsel is in distress-she’s trapped in a job where her boss finds her too valuable to promote-in comes the hero and colossal director, Mark Swan. While reclusive Mr. Director is a massive 6.4”, even for Anna’s 5.11” proportions, Anna is the refreshing breath of fresh air to the cataract of so called beautiful women just shoving themselves at his feet.

Lily Frutt (she calls herself Lily Venus-how original for a model!) and Janet Meeks (She insists on Jay-Me, what with her J-Lo obsession) are the gorgeous flatmates, both models, who only manage to worsen Anna’s plain Jane, sidekick complex. While Janet is warm and considerate, Lily’s tongue stings worse than a Russell’s viper.

The story takes a turn when Winning is taken over by Eli Roth, the rich and girls-drool-over-me handsome hotshot from Los Angeles. While Kitty’s office nemesis, Mike promotes Sharon, all so unjustly just to ensure her job security with the takeover of Winning by Eli Roth’s Red Crest , Kitty and Anna are faced with the daunting task of finding the next Oscar winning script as also producing Greta Gordon, the yesteryears diva who OD’d and is fresh from rehab and keen to make a comeback.

In shay-shays Vanna (short for Vanessa Cabot), Anna’s college best friend and absolute sweetheart with a Wall Street-type bore of a husband Rupert and two ‘gorgeous’ children. While they started off on the same path at College, Vanna’s life journey takes her the way of big bucks, high walled a-slice-of-country gardens and delicious chandeliers. In comes Charles Dawson, the talentless multi-millionaire and Vanna’s idea of the perfect match for Anna after her poor dating track record. While Charles never fancies Anna, as he so bluntly admits (She towers over him and well, it had to be her Gonzo nose, Anna laments), how the innocently sombre dates turn into a sudden engagement is a thoroughly engaging tale.  While Anna is oblivious of Charles’ millions, Charles believes he has found ‘the one’ because, “you are the first woman who didn’t know about my wealth and still wanted to be with me”. How heart-wrenching! And the plot thickens when Charles introduces Anna to Trish Evans, the Nanny to his sister’s children and the scriptwriter of Mother of the Bride.

Well, Louise Bagshawe isn’t done with the plot yet. She cleverly intertwines Anna’s desperate want to be loved romantically by someone, with Charles want of a companion who isn’t after his money. While Anna manages to snag Mark Swan to direct the film, she is now faced with new predicaments- Her loveless relationship with Charles, the fear of breaking his poor heart, her racing mind that can’t get over Mark Swan and her career. Mark tries his best to help Anna zero in on the job she would like instead of fitting herself in a job she didn’t love (producing Mother of the Bride-the Oscar potential script).

What follows is an un-put-down-able read that makes the 437 page novel seem like a quickly ending children’s story book. It makes you cheer on the heroine and sympathize with her on many levels- her lack of self esteem living in a flat with two very beautiful girls, her amazement at being engaged to one of the richest men in England and her talented yet workaholic nature. While Anna clothes herself in garments that she hopes will make her invisible to the crowd (and how common is that emotion?), she fails to see the beauty she does possess, and I don’t mean her inner beauty. While she is all heart and caring towards Lily and Janet with respect to the men they love, Henry and Ed, she is quite comfortable being the not-so-pretty sidekick instead of the pretty one who tosses her hair for dramatic effect in an argument she knows she is losing.

All in all, an entirely gripping story and a never to be bored, page turner of a novel. Hats off to Ms Bagshawe for this wonderful piece. A definite recommendation for the romantic, faint-hearted. Highly addictive. Looking for a sequel somewhere…

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