The fault

Who are we to go around blaming the system, the police and the government for everything that's happening? Have we looked inside ourselves, seen how we all are as responsible for the sorry state of women in the country as much as anyone else?

Years ago, my parents say India was a safer place for women . My mother could stay out till after dark with her friends, playing and hanging out. As the years went by, we imposed curfews looking at the inflating crime rate. Did it make things better? No. Are things worse now? For sure. In the convent school I studied in, in Agra, my elder sister's batch wore skirts. Ten years later, salwar kameez was made compulsory for all girls in middle school and higher. Did it make things better? No. Are they worse today? Yes.
When did all of this happen, India? Probably when we were busy keeping our women inside and sending the men out, teaching them their roles and places. This mindset everybody is rushing to condemn has been built by us over the years with the women are as responsible for it as the men. Teaching their girls to stay indoors and behave decent but forgetting to teach their boys to respect women. The fault lies with the society and it's teachers. 'Don't do this, it's not proper for a woman too behave this way, behave like a lady, girls are not supposed to be doing this, it's for the guys only'- treating women like objects.
The fault lies with the girls for letting themselves be assaulted and tortured, raped physically and mentally and not do anything about it. The fault lies with the family for telling her to remain silent because speaking out brings a 'bad name' to the family.

The events of today are not a wake-up call for the government or the police, they are a wake-up call for us. Why did we remain silent for so long? This is not the first crime nor the last but why did we have to even bear any of it over the years? Nothing can be built in a day and something which has been growing for centuries cannot be broken down in a day either.

I'd like to ask every person out there walking on the road holding placards or sitting at home using the social media, are you willing to face your faults before pointing your finger on someone else? You need to change yourself before you go out attempting to change the world. The conviction and strength to bring about a change would come only when you're living it. Otherwise we're looking at just another rape, just another death and just another public outburst.

Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai : A Review

'Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai', debut novel by Rishi Vohra ( is basically a tale about romance and wooing.
Nothing new here, given that the fiction market in India is flooded with love stories. But what makes this book different from the others are the characters, especially the protagonist Babloo. 'Babloo! What a commonplace everyday name' is what I said to myself the moment I read it. But those are not the words used in relation to Babloo in the book because Babloo is no ordinary man. Don't get your hopes high here, though, because he does not have any superpowers (no matter what happens towards the end of the book *ssshhhh* ). On the contrary, poor old Babloo here is ridiculed by society, neglected by parents and perpetually compared with his working younger brother- just because he is different and happens to suffer with a behavioral disorder.
The novel is set in a railway colony situated near the busy railway station of Bandra, Mumbai. The author gives us a glimpse into a typical Indian residential colony- gossiping ladies, road-side Romeos, interfering neighbors and so on. I did like the way he has captured the little nuances of family life in middle class India.
Babloo's love interest, Vandana, is a self-dependent, working woman who has dreams of making it big in the advertising world and travelling to the US. However, she is handed over a menial secretarial position and constantly harassed by her boss. She looks for a friend in Babloo, one who can understand her need to be silent and introspective and can always be depended on. But Babloo is knee-deep in love with her and, given his psychiatric issues, cannot find a way to be with her. The twist in the plot comes when Vandana's parents arrange her marriage with Babloo's younger brother, Raghu. What follows is a fast-paced tale of love, betrayal, sex, violence and justice.
Love does triumph in the end, but not in the way expected!
Reading this book I realized that this may be one of those narratives which can be easily adapted into a movie. It has all the elements and scene descriptions are very sharp.

Overall, it is a well-planned, nicely narrated, good-paced piece of work which would go down well with any age-group or gender.
Ideal for a quick dose of high entertainment!

What to be?

2nd November, 2012- the day I posted something here last. 

Fifteen days without a blog post and I'm feeling jittery- like it's been ages since I produced something worth sharing. It's not that I didn't have anything to write about the past fortnight- with Diwali and the onset of Winter, topics are aplenty and I've had drafts waiting in my outbox since quite some time. But there's the difference between writing and blogging. Writing you can do anytime you feel like it, in any format, on any subject of your whim, but blogging goes beyond that.

Ever since I became a regular blogger (let's say May-June, 2012), I've had a lot of friends come up to me and tell me how they too like to write and have been thinking about starting a blog after seeing mine. On the risk of sounding arrogant, it takes more than just a love for writing to be classified a blogger. Blogging is about writing with a diligent frequency, on topics that might engage an audience of strangers and entertain them enough into visiting again. 

When I started out, writing was just a way of diverting my mind and getting rid of the stress accumulated throughout the day. It was something I could do without getting worked up; a leisure activity. So, I had lots to say, loads of creative energy to channelize. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I became a part of Indiblogger, interacted with a lot of people and the need to keep updating my blog grew so much that I was constantly surfing the blogosphere and looking for challenges. 

Then, there came desperation- I did not know what to do with my blog anymore! I looked at other people's blogs- most of them had an underlying theme, a purpose. I did not have any. I experimented with topics and themes- fiction, poetry, philosophy, memoirs. 
But I still can't figure out what I want this blog to mean to me. So, I figure it's time to take a hiatus. Take a break and come back with some perspective. I really like blogging and I feel it's time to quit fooling around and start doing it the right way. 

So, till I figure out what the right way for me is- Adios!

PS: Suggestions are welcome!

A Rush of Blood to the Head

Here is my entry for the second exercise of the Indian Fiction Workshop. You can view the plot here :

Thanks to Sandeep Nair for the thought-provoking and challenging plot. I found it extremely difficult to write this one. Hope it hasn't turned out too lame.

Check it out:
It is a warm morning in the middle of September. I am lying on the floor, watching the rays of the sun seep in through the window, lifting and turning and twirling the tiny little particles it came upon…
‘Mr. Brawlerrr’ rang a sing-song voice. ‘What?’ I growl, turning to look at the person interrupting my reverie. It’s Vincent, the most twisted white piece of shit you’d ever come across. ‘You have a visitor,sir’, he leers, the sides of his mouth twitching just a bit.

I scramble to my feet and walk to the door, holding up my hands so he could cuff me. I could've just as easily wrapped them around that thin neck of his and cracked it into two but I was just not in the mood for that today. Instead, I submissively walk down the dark corridor, glancing at the cells that came across the way, housing the most notoriously infamous residents of the Arlington State Penitentiary.
An elderly woman, wearing a long shabby cardigan over an equally shapeless dress stood waiting for me at the counter.
'...Billy, my child! I'm so glad to see you...' the showers of love started as soon as I place the receiver on my ear. ‘As good as ever grandma! Shouldn't have bothered to come in your condition and all…'
'How could I've not? It's your special day after all, ain’t it?' She had baked me a cake. It had my favourite icing too. I thanked her and chatted with her till that leech came to take me back.
‘And what do we have here?’ he said, snatching the box out of my hand. Bad move. Towering over his menial 5'8", I drove my elbows in the back of his head. This got us into a scuffle right in the middle of the hallway, which was a good thing for me as it got us the attention of the supervisor.
'The hell is goin' on there? Vincent give that homo bastard his lunch box and get him out of here!'
Oh, and Vincent, get yourself some brains too, piece of white refuse.
'What's for dessert Billy? Where that cake of yours go?'
‘Bet it’s got weed in it'
‘You can't get that kind of shit past those sensors, you moron'

My buddies in prison, Luke, Shaq and Steve had got themselves all worked up about the contents of my package at lunch time. Even the other inmates were looking at us curiously. 
'There's none left fellas. Big billy got a big stomach'.
I got up to keep my plate at the sink, but found Bruce retching in it.

'You carrying my baby Bruce? aww'.
My cronies jeered and laughed as I gave Bruce's behind a nice spank.
Bruce was my bitch in here. When I first heard he was HIV positive too, I assumed he was homo. But when he turned down all advances made by me, I just had to take him by force. The inmates helped me assault him, better him than them, they figured.
From five to seven in the evening, the inmates were hauled for specialized programmes like religious service, gym, carpentry and so on. Two hours of recreation time to help us channelize our rage and reach to our inner self and all the bull-crap these psychologists dream up. I was directed to the library along with my gang. My decision to spend recreation time in the library had come as a shocker to all, apparently I was the only dangerously evil mass murderer who was interested in reading. But then again, I was not always bad. I was once this famous boxer competing for the state heavyweight title. I got into a brawl with a group of men in a bar and ended up killing three of them. I can't explain how I became this man. It's just that sometimes I get so angry. Like that green monster you see in the movies.
'Hey look Billy, we got you your play thing', the prison guard smirked throwing Bruce through the door of the library. Bruce normally went to the gym but looking at the condition he was in today, I was not surprised to find him in a place that did not require lifting iron. He looked at me with hostility and wandered off to a corner. To think that this wuss of a man, who couldn't even keep his hole protected in what were probably the last days of his sorry life, killed his wife by smashing her head in with a baseball bat is ridiculous. I'm sure someone's paid a hell of a lot of money to keep him in here. Anyway, that's not for me to speculate. Who's to say what's right and what's wrong. Life isn't fair. I turned to my business. 
‘It was no cake, you shit-heads’, I whispered to my men once I was sure Bruce and the guard were out of earshot. ‘And for the record, she wasn’t my grandma either’. Steve gave me a meaningful look as Luke and Shaq continued to look demented.

‘Whaddaya mean she wasn’t your-‘
‘Shut the fuck up Luke and listen to me’, I glanced around the library to make sure nobody was eavesdropping on us before feeding them the details. We had no plans of rotting on in this hell hole, which was why we had been working on an escape route- a tunnel in the library washroom since the past four months. It had all started when poop got stuck in one of the pipes there and the plumbers that came into repair it worked up a huge bill. Now, our Steve here is a very handy man. When he volunteered to fix the system the next time it broke down, the guards agreed to it without a question. After all, he was white and had always managed to stay in their good books. The idea of Steve having access to plumbing tools got me thinking. I may not have a college degree but I'm smart. I got Steve to hide some tools and that’s how we started on the tunnel. Every day, inch by inch, we were advancing on our pathway to freedom. Today, I procured our final weapon. HMDT- hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, a chemical explosive made from readily available household ingredients. Once we get inside the tunnel, we would use this explosive to seal the entrance so that Vincy cannot come looking.

We made our way discreetly to the toilet and slipped inside, one by one. Steve had already unscrewed the sink and removed the tiles covering the entrance to our handiwork when I got in. Shaq came in last, locking the door behind him. Steve was already inside the tunnel and Luke was gearing to go when we heard a loud bang on the door.
‘Open up! I’m gonna throw up’
I groaned. Why did this dick have to be here today of all days?
' Fuck off!”
'Open up, you animal!'
'Get lost, whore'
'Shut up both of you!’ It was the guard. Holy crap. The situation was getting out of hand, there wasn’t enough time for all of us to escape now. I motioned to the guys to get out of the hole and set the stuff right again. I hurried to the door and threw Bruce in. He went straight to the pot and threw up. The guard went back to his couch and book. Damn! We were so close!
'What in fuck's name is going on in here?'
Bruce looked at the lopsided sink and then at our perspiring faces. 

‘None of your goddamned business!’ 
'I know what you're trying to do'.
 Fear gripped me. It is one thing to lose your secret, but to lose it to the one person you've been traumatizing for the past six months, that's self-destruction. 'Look, Bruce, don't do anything stupid or I'll beat the living hell out of you'. Aggression. ‘I am a dead man already'. Oh, right, he was getting executed in two days. 'Come with us'. He looked away. 'Bruce, come on, don't rat us out, what you gotta gain?’ He looked at me with a mixture of disgust and anger before walking away.
I spent the night in hell. Cold fear running down my spine, paralyzing me. I was expecting the guards to burst in any moment. I did not talk to Bruce again after leaving the library. I did not know what route to take, how to reason with him. I tried weighing all the choices he had. He could rattle to the guards. That would feed the hate he felt towards me and restore some of the self-respect I'd helped destroy in him. One cruel act of fate and he had got me, his tormentor, pissing his pants. Or he could use the information to blackmail me, take a swing at me- rape me, perhaps. That could be his death wish.
He could stay silent, of course, considering ratting me out won't do nothing to change his death sentence. But I had raped him. There was no way he was exiting without making me suffer. I wondered what would happen to me if they found out. Would that speed up my execution process? Or would they put me through some extensive torture ritual? The latter would suit their sadistic personalities better.
There was another option. He could join us, escape from prison with us. That could make up for the raping and stuff. But what does he have to go out for? No wife, no kids. HIV positive, gonna die in a few months anyway. Unless, there was some unfinished business. I knew he hadn't killed his wife, but whoever did, is probably still roaming out there while he suffers. Was Bruce the kind of guy who would be interested in revenge? I couldn't say for sure, he seemed to have given up on living long back.  His wife was a whore, the real one who actually gets paid in money. In all likelihood, she had given him the AIDS.
I had to incite him for revenge. But I had to choose just the precise moment and attitude for it. I had to do it just in time for the execution of my plan, to make it all the more difficult for him to resist the temptation.
Bruce did not as much as glance at me during breakfast next morning. He was in a world of his own, cocooned far away from his surroundings. It was driving me insane. I just couldn't guess what was going through his mind.
Once back in our cells, I hear noises coming from the direction of his cell. I rush to the door. Bruce is talking to Vincent but I can’t make out a word of what they are saying. Bruce’s tone sounds urgent. My insides turn to liquid as I see Vincent approach my cell. The sound of my thumping heart deafens me as Vincent cuffs me and enters my cell. He starts beating me with a cane. I cry out, my fists balling up in rage. But there’s no use resisting now. I am locked up in this jail for a long time now. Bastard got me in the end. Suddenly the beating stops. I look at the maniac and he spits on my face. Then he un-cuffs me and walks out the door. 
'I'll send someone with your meds Bruce. Hold that shit in', he shouts as he disappears down the corridor.
What the hell was that?
Two hours later, in the shower, I see Fat Gibson trying to force his fat cock down Bruce's throat. His face is badly bruised and there is blood flowing down his temple. Another person is pinning him down. I stand there, unsure of what to do. What if we blokes could just kill Bruce here, suffocate him or something? Won't make no difference to them police folk, would it? Would get the execution sin off their head, if anything.

A blood curling scream breaks my thought process. Bruce bit fat Gibson! A fight breaks out but it's like a dormant monster inside Bruce has just unleashed itself. He is kicking and fisting everything within his reach. He disengages himself from his tormentors and walks away, limping. Just as he is about to reach the door, he comes towards the place I’m standing and spits on me. I am on him in no time, punching his skull as he lands blow after blow in my gut. The rage possessing me is indescribable. I am hitting to kill. But the guards rush in start caning every part of our bodies they can reach. They manage to separate us.
‘You bloody impotent man, no wonder your wife screwed around for money. I only screwed your anus, while that man out there, he’s screwed your entire fucking life’.
‘So you want to spend your last evening in this world in the library, eh?’ the guard chuckles as he lets Bruce in through the door. He looks at me with an indiscernible expression and walks off to a corner.
I glance around at my mates. ‘I reckon you should go and talk to him, find out what he’s thinking’, Steve says. I get up and walk towards Bruce. He’s looking at me. He’s waiting for me.
‘Can you arrange a weapon for me once we get out there?’ he whispers as soon as I get close enough.
I look at him, take in the resolve in his eyes and can’t help beaming at him. He has made the right call, after all.
‘Sure thing, Bruce’‘Can I trust you?’
‘How do we go about it?’
He said I'm gonna buy a gun and start a war
If you can tell me something worth fighting for
Oh and I'm gonna buy this place, that's what I said
Blame it upon a rush of blood to the head
And honey all the movements you're starting to make
See me crumble and fall on my face
And I know the mistakes that I made
See it all disappear without a trace

Note to Self

The fortress stands secluded, far removed from everyone, everything. Remote. With the doors closed, there's perfect isolation. Access denied. But the window makes the reverse impossible: the Sun pours in with it's happiness, the moon, calmness.

The fortress stands safe, secure. Nothing is allowed to infiltrate. That which is disease outside, becomes cure inside. The very thing that maims and weakens transforms into my strength and solace. Roles reverse, countenance changes. An inversion of personality.

The fortress, though an illusion, makes what is real surface. Such is the irony. But that is what makes it so special. The fortress is a catalyst. It's more than just bricks and stones. Refuge.

It is difficult to say which derives meaning from who. Whether it's me, defining and creating the fortress and taking it to something extraordinary or the fortress itself, instigating everything, instilling the protective emotions. Maybe it's a mutual existence, a fortunate one.

The fortress stands, comfortable for the lone owner.

Pantene Nature Fusion Indiblogger Meet a.k.a. Girls' Day Out

I became a part of the Indiblogger family in the summer of 2012. As I made myself familiar with the names and the works, I wondered what it would be like to meet the people behind the webpages. What if I just bumped into a blogger on the metro or in a cafe, would  I go and say 'hi' and introduce myself or would the fear of looking ridiculous keep me confined to my seat? Thankfully, all my doubts were put to rest after attending my first ever Indiblogger meet. Not only did I meet a number of interesting bloggers, I had no qualms in introducing myself and it didn't feel awkward at all!

Calling all Book-nerds!

BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X(almost)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible 
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X

Total: 7

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Most of these) X
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

Total: 10

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy X

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Total: 15

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma-Jane Austen X
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini X
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden X
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

Total: 19

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez X
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

Total: 22

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel X
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (Some body find me this book, please!)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen X
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens X
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon X
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez X

Total: 27

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie X
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville(too dull for me) 0.5X


71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

Total: 31

80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

Total: 33

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas X
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total: 34

Being an Emotional Fool

I attended a pseudo self-help class a couple of years back. They tried to teach me, among many other things, to not be a 'football of my emotions' and contradictory to that, also stressed on the importance of expressing your emotions. I juggled with the two statements till I understood their real meaning.

Emotions, as you know, are tricky customers. We tend to think that we're made of steel and are above the petty chemical processes of the brain. But, see, technically, your brain is boss and the chemical hanky-panky does and will happen.

Dealing with emotions: Stage One- Acceptance.

After having accepted your emotion, you can proceed in two ways- you can either vent it or try to keep yourself calm. However, the same remedy does not work with all emotions.

For example, let's say someone screwed up and you're angry. You can either give that person a piece of your mind or let it be. Both have their pros and cons. When you're venting out anger, you also tend to hurt the other person- your emotion set off a reaction in the other person and theirs set off a retaliatory one in you and so on. Also, it raises your blood pressure and that is never good. Bottling it inside wouldn't make your anger go away though. It would make it turn to resentment thereby modifying your behavior to the other person. I've been on the receiving end of this a number of times. It sucks, you can't figure out why the other person is acting weird and then you play Sherlock and figure out the person's angry but till then it's too late to make amends and the anger just explodes. No, that is not a good option. Sometimes, the anger turns to irritation and frustration until eventually, you lash out at somebody/something for another's mistake. Being a football of your emotions. So, the anger will come out of you, either way, but the trick is to let it flow out subtly. Let the person know his/her fault, let the person know you have every right to be angry. There, you've let the burden off your chest, now it's the other person's responsibility.

Then there are other emotions that absolutely need expressing. Like joy, for instance. Remember the nursery rhyme 'When you're happy and you know it clap your hands..'? Express your joy, let the rays of sunshine wash you with warmth. You've earned your joy and have every right to relish in it. Plus, this is one emotion that's instantly addictive. Nobody can escape the charms of a smiling face. So, the next time you receive a salary bonus or get free tickets to see your favorite band, do not think twice before doing a little shimmy and letting the world know.

Then, pain. I know you've been told crying makes you look weak, needy etc etc. But the truth is, everybody hurts and everybody cries, some time or the other. Some do it publicly some privately, but there's no escaping this. Experience your pain, don't shove it inside. Wallow in it. Let it speak to you. Cry if you have to. Most of the time, we try to ignore it and divert our minds when all we need is a good cry, a person to confide in and some hot cocoa. There's a difference between healing and curing. To me, crying it out is like purging yourself.

I cannot stress more on the importance of expressing your love. In that workshop, they made us tell our parents that we loved them. I had never done that till then, at least not verbally. I felt awkward. I took the easy route, composed a poem and mailed it to them. The response I got made me feel so happy and light. It's a beautiful feeling, to love and be loved. Think of it this way- suppose you die tomorrow, would your close ones know what they meant to you or would they spend the rest of their lives wondering? Send your love.

There's also no problem with letting someone know you don't like him/her. After all, you're not expected to be the universal messenger of love and harmony. There will always be someone who stands for everything you've ever disagreed with. Let that be known. Show some integrity. But also, don't let the self-satisfaction of your hatred turn into sadism. Unfortunately, this is what's happening with the world- back-biting and then relishing in the prospects of others' doom. I believe it all comes down to how important integrity is to one.

Anyway, enough preaching.
The bottom line is - Be emotional, you're human, but don't be foolishly so.

Something positive for the road

A month back, my laptop gave up it's electronic soul and departed to techie-heaven.

It was Saturday, it had rained all day and despite the weather, I had sat in the library all day, slogging through textbooks. I had decided to reward myself for all the hours put into work throughout the week by a quiet weekend with my laptop, working on my blog and watching episodes of all the series I have become addicted to. But, you know, if there's a god, it's a sadist one because when I got back to my room and switched on the little blue machine- it just beeped and died, right there, on my bed. My paranoia knew no bounds! I tried resuscitating it, plugged it to life support, gave it a few electric shocks...but, nothing. Once I got over the 'this can't be happening' phase, I called up some geeks for help. Hardware malfunction. Something to do with RAM and motherboard. But, don't worry, they said, it'll get fixed in a jiffy. So, weekend ruined, I started hunting for laptop technicians and repair centres. The very next day, I shipped it off for repairing with the first names that showed up on the search page. I was impatient: I cannot survive without my machine, I told myself. Then there was work to be done- blogs, CVs, on-line tests...

A week went by.
I sent it to another place.
Two more weeks went by, excruciatingly slow and painful- my patience was wearing thin. Everyday I'd call up my dad and shout on the phone, complain about the inadequacy of the men at the service centre.
They were saying it was irreparable, my heart was breaking. I would have to buy a new one.

One fine day, however, we got through to the manufacturers (by showing them a dollop of notes, obviously) and they sent their specially trained technicians to my place. He brought parts for replacement, one for every day of the week he came.

And viola!Now, I have a brand new system. Motherboard, RAM, graphics card, processor, daughterboard, cover, screen- you name it.
Haha. Who would have thought I'd end up on the receiving end of this deal!

Moral of the story:

Patience is a virtue. Good things come to those who wait.

Sometimes, you have to let the little things go wrong for something much bigger and better to come your way.

Don't lose hope :)

Underneath the skin: Paradoxes of Identity

Here's a short story I wrote for a Fiction Writing Workshop organised by my Indiblogger friends The Fool and C. Suresh. Thanks to The Fool for the interesting plot. You can check out my entry here:

and about the workshop here:

'The township of Ur is guarded by an army of a hundred and fifty goblins, not only are we outnumbered, their strength will be no match to ours', cried Daenerys to the elders of the council. Several murmured their approval.

'So suggest we lie low, build our strength and then come back to this when we're ready', Daenerys finished, looking around the group confidently.

'If wars were to be one by numbers alone, nobody would bother turning up on the field.'

Heads turned to locate where the calm, steady voice was coming from. It was Strider. As always, nobody had noticed him join the group, but now that he had spoken, every eye was fixed on him.

'Seizing Ur is the only chance we have of securing a path way to the heart of the Kingdom. I believe that if every member of our clan plays his role and plays it well, there will be no cause for failure.'

'But even if we put numbers aside, the strength of us mortals is nothing compared to the magical goblins!', retorted Daenerys, determined to convince the council,'Waging a war in thees circumstances would spell doom. Even if we won, we would not be able to hold the seat for too long, given our depleted army.'

'At least, you've conceded we may win. I consider the job half done already. Now, to the point of strength. Yes, the goblins have many magical powers, but they also have an unusual weakness...I observed them, lying low at Barty's Diner...',and so on went Strider, describing his strategy in detail.

Daenerys, though frustrated with the way things were going, could not hide her amazement at the brilliance of Strider's plan. She wracked her brains over it, but could not find anything wrong with his analysis.
'This man is a genius!', she found herself thinking while voting in favor of the plan along with the others.


'...Don't lose your grip on dreams of the past

You must fight to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger

It's the thrill of the fight...'

Meghana rolled over and turned off the alarm. It could not be six thirty already, she complained, looking at the alarm clock with a half open eye. Grudgingly, she got out of bed and started getting ready for work. She'd slept for only three hours and looked like a mess. She considered taking the day off but then decided against it. 'Boss needs me today', she thought.


The offices of India One Solutions Pvt Ltd were located in the IT hub of the city. They were tall and sleek, much like any other corporate building, nothing special there.

The door to the third floor beeped open as Meghana Arora walked in. Her sharp heels struck the floor with a *clunk* noise. Immediately the passageway to her cabin cleared.

*clunk clunk clunk*

Ties straightened, shirts were tucked in, half-eaten lunch boxes were done away with.

*clunk clunk clunk*

Individual cries of 'Good Morning Ma'am' replaced the gossip and chuckles that had filled the office five minutes back.

*clunk clunk clunk*

Meghana was thirty one, smart and good-looking. She was riding the wave of professional success. She walked in to work with an air of dominance. Her black skirt fitted her form snugly but her hair were neatly tied in a bun. She was a control freak. She abhorred disorderliness and indiscipline. This was why she was the boss. This was why she didn't have many friends. But, let's get to that later.

*clunk clunk clunk*

Meghana looked at the throng of faces around her, immersed in work. Buzzing away like drone bees, making sweet honey for her. Honey that will take her another step up the ladder. Take her closer to her goal, her destiny...

The office floor was transformed into a stretch of sand. She was riding a horse. Her clan, her Khalasar followed behind. She had to build an army, she had to go to war. I am the Khaleesi, the most powerful woman in the world and the throne is my birth right.

A smile crossed her lips as she drew this analogy and it was with this smile that she met Arup.

Arup worked with OIS as the IT technician. He had a small cubicle at the corner where he lazed around all day, fixing minor issues with the staff computers, so that they could work on bigger and more intense ones. In short, he lead a glamorless existence. Not that he deserved it, though. His only fault was that he was born on the wrong side of the town. But after all the struggle he had faced, he was more than happy to lead a secure life as a part of the OIS machinery.

Arup had 'heard' Meghana's arrival and was now looking at her expectantly as she made her way to his desk.

'Good Morning, Ma'am'

'Morning, Arup. See me in my cabin in an hour.'

'Yes, sure..', he started to say, but Meghana had started walking towards the CEO's cabin. Vinod, the CEO, was another swashbuckling product of a top Business School, like Meghana. The other advantage of his profile was that he was the only one who could exercise some control over her.

(Note: Khalasar and Khaleesi are terms belonging to George Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. Khalasar refers to a clan of warriors and Khaleesi is the title given to their queen. I have picked up Daenerys from the book too.)

'Yes, Vinod, I get your point, but with the right strategy, we could take on this project!Give me a chance..'

'Meghana, we do not have the workforce required for something as big as this. I had hoped you would realize that.'

'But, Vinod, give me one chance to present my plan before the Board, I..'

'Save your breath, Meghana. The Board will never agree.'

Fuming, Meghana turned around and walked back to her cabin. The CEO's stark disapproval of her radical new scheme had wiped off whatever admiration she had once held for him. She had expected him to be innovative and open, but he was just another safe-player, going by the rules in the textbook. She sat down at her desk and looked at her laptop screen. A smile lighted up her face. A screenshot of last night's successful war adorned her desktop. Strider took centrestage, mounted on his dark horse, holding the Kingdom's sharpest blade.
Meghana recalled how, at every obstacle, they had turned to Strider and he had never failed them. 'What a thinker!', thought Meghana, 'I bet he has never shied away from a task, no matter how daunting.' She started comparing his attitude and skills with Vinod's. 'He is a natural leader', she concluded, 'how gratifying must it be to work under him, with him.' She started imagining him as a top executive somewhere, making aggressive decisions and impressing everybody with his ability. Color rose to her cheeks...

A knock on the door snapped her right out of her reverie. It was Arup. The air of dominance returned to her demenaour as she asked him what he wanted.

''d asked me to come by, remember?', he stated meekly.

'Oh!Right!Come on in. There seems to be a problem with the LAN connection in here', she told him, hastily changing the desktop background.

'Hmm...let me have a look..', Arup went over to examine her connection.
'You look really tired today, Ma'am', he said, glancing at the circles beneath her eyes.

'Couldn't catch much sleep last night', she replied curtly.

'A hot cup of green tea with a dash of lemon in it always freshens me up!.'

'I wouldn't even bother with the tea if all I had to do was look over some wires', Meghana thought to herself, yawning.

'There you go!As good as ever!', exclaimed Arup.

Meghana gave him a thanks and a smile as he turned to go.

'Oh and one more thing Arup', Meghana started, riding on a sudden brainwave,'suppose there was this online role playing game...'

'MMORG, you mean?'

'Ah, yes. I was wondering if you could help me identify the identity of a player', she blurted, looking him in the eye.


Interesting? Read the full post here:

I hope you dance

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

I hope you dance"

- Ronan Keating


I looked at you, felt nothing
Rebuked myself
Tried stirring up a storm
Resuscitate the fire of emotion
Love Anger Hate Pain
But they vanished at the first touch

I'm dry and cold
Eyes dim and my head is closed
I looked at you, looked through you
You may be air
Silence chokes my gut
Exudate sounds, then words

I'm only hoping you can forgive
This lapse of affection
When darkness falls the flower folds
And spends the night in indifference
So will I hibernate
In the regime of my voids

Past Perfect

How important it is to preserve some memento relating to the past because your memory might not be able to reconstruct it accurately. At times you'd remember what you did or said, another time you'd be certain of how you'd felt. While most of the time, you'd only remember faces and colours and names and sounds.
I'm glad i've kept a diary most of my life. But for the smaller things, the finer details, I hope memory doesn't betray me. Or rather, I do not alter it.

I have been thinking, for like two weeks now, if it won't be over-ambitious of me to start writing down my memoirs. I know it will be time consuming. More than that, it would be emotionally and mentally taxing. But it would give me a nice picture of who I was and am and maybe even a sneak peek into the future.

While I was sitting in my old room today, I noticed how the walls and the furniture were still covered with old Barbie and Disney stickers. The last time I had called that room my own was when I was sixteen. It's been a long journey and there are still many scares in store. But I've made it this far. Back then, I wouldn't have ever dreamt I'd be living the life I'm living now. I wanted to study science, so I got enrolled in a school with the best faculty. I wanted to be an engineer, so I started preparing for the competitive exams. That was all, that was my plan for life. In hindsight, I realize I didn't really have a plan. Stuff came up, I dealt with it, worked hard, took a few tests and now I'll be handed a degree in Civil Engineering next year. Back in my old room, the stuffed toys haven't moved an inch. How did it all change so fast?

And now, when the time has come to take the next big step, I'm all apprehensive and jittery. I have spoken to hundreds of people, taken advice, made a million plans, analyzed all my options under a microscope but I still can't stop obsessing about the idea of tomorrow. Where is that unsure yet confident, awkward yet rebellious girl from yesterday?

I guess I'll have to hunt her down and bring her back.
Revisit the past and try to learn from it.
Starting the memoirs soon.

Melbourne Dreams

(This article is my entry for Indiblogger and Tourism Victoria's contest on the memories one'd like to bring back from Melbourne.)

An eerie silence enveloped the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The crowd was on their feet. Eyes riveted to the action on the ground as the tall pacer made his way to bowl. It was day five of the final day of the Ashes. The sky was a dull grey. I was standing in the crowd, painted in colors of the Australian flag. The green-eyed lanky bowler ran in, swung his arm and in a split-second, a stump was lying on the ground! I am jubilant! My favorite team's won and I'm there to witness it! Ah! I was jumping up and down! Owwwww! Something's hit me! I'm falling...

Thus ended my beautiful dream and I hit reality.

Melbourne, Australia.

I've dreamed and fantasized about visiting this continent since so many years now!
Not just the MCG, which, by the way, in spite of being stunningly beautiful and home to the Commonwealth Games 2006, is also known as the 'Spiritual Home of Australian Cricket', Melbourne on a whole is a very vibrant city.

A quick Google search will tell you how Melbourne is the 'cultural capital' of Australia and one of the most livable countries of the world. But people like me are not interested in that. When I go to a place, I want to explore everything about it. I want to know about the people, the way they talk, the way they dress, what keeps them going and so on. I want to taste the best of their cuisine, visit the local markets, find the best sunset spots...get a complete review of the place, not just the spots available to tourists.

The Melbourne Skyline

So, here I've prepared a list of what I think would be the ideal places to visit to bring back the best memories from Melbourne:

  • Concert Clubs!

    Melbourne plays host to a number of indie, jazz, rock and hip-hop bands from all over the world. Even if I'm not lucky enough to catch AC/DC or the like, a number of indigenous Aussie bands perform throughout the year in clubs like The Palace Theater, Billboard, The Forum and The Corner Hotel. Ain't it convenient to have so many options to choose from? And here, even scheduled bands opt out at the last instant. *sigh Metallica sigh*


  • The Melbourne Aquarium
    This is one I'm super excited about! Colorful, fantastic corals and their equally spectacular inhabitants! I think I can spend hours here observing the fish and their activities. The next best thing to actually diving into the coral reef.

    • Royal Botanical Gardens
      This place for a quiet walk through time and space. When I feel like the buzz of the city is becoming too overwhelming for me, I'd head to this place with a book and some music. I'd wander through the twists and turns of the garden's labyrinths and maybe discover my own rabbit-hole.

        I'd wrap it up with a trip to the beach in the evening maybe.

        Then maybe I'd head to one of Melbourne's lively cafes like the 'Min Lokal' for a cup-pa.

      • Talking of food, I'd love to treat my taste buds to some fine food served by many of Melbourne's hatted restaurants like 'Attica' and 'Jacques Reymond'. After all, I've tortured myself enough watching episodes of Masterchef Australia to deserve the real thing.

        • Koalas, Penguins and Kangaroos! For of course, no trip to the Down Under would be complete without these creatures! :D


          • Buttonfest!
            Yeah, you read it right! This is an annual exhibition featuring all things related to buttons organized by the Victorian Button Collectors Club. Why buttons, though? Because you don't travel to another hemisphere without being part of something totally weird. :P

          • Lastly, I'd like to visit the Melbourne Museum to get more familiar with Victoria's heritage and culture.  The Museum Shops are ideal for hunting souvenirs and memorabilia to take back home.

            • Oh and of course, a trip to the Bank Street Market for some budget shopping. :)


              This would be my dream itinerary for a visit to Melbourne!

    's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!

              Follow this link for more information about Melbourne:

            The Amnesiac: A review

            '..memory itself is a fiction: we are, second by second, in every moment of reflection, self-editing, reinventing, making ourselves up..' writes Sam Taylor in the disclaimer to 'The Amnesiac'.
            I picked this book on a whimsy. I was wandering through the aisles of the British Council Library in Connaugt Place, looking for a friendly name. I do not know a lot of British authors, I realized. The back cover had rave reviews. But then, every publication has to print all the praise it can gather to increase sales. Nevertheless, I brought it home. The cover said it was the journey of an amnesiac into his past: images from 'Ghajini' and 'Memento' flashed through my mind. I decided I could do with some mystery.
            And mystery, it delivered.
            The first fifty pages didn't impress me at all. The protagonist, James Purdew, breaks his ankle and is then dumped by his live-in partner after having spent weeks in useless isolation, thinking up the most abstract things. What a loser, I say to myself. He can't even pay the rent.
            It was after his girlfriend had vacated their apartment that he shows the first signs of human emotion and embarks on a mission to reclaim himself. This, he begins by reading through the diaries he had kept through the years. This is where it gets interesting. James Purdew does not remember anything about his three years in University. The diaries he kept of that time are locked in a safe and he has lost the key. Taylor makes it clear here that these three years were the definitive years of his life. They contained the key to his present state and personality.

            This is where I put down the book, gaze into nothingness and wonder. What if something like this ever happens to me? We take memory for granted. We do not realize how utterly lost we would be without it. My emotions, opinions and general behaviour towards anything/anyone is based on my past experiences- memories. Imagine a scenario where you just can't decide how to react to a particular thing/person from your past. Worse, imagine a scenario where your body finds a way of reaction, but your mind just cannot figure it out.
            It is now that my opinion of the character changes. I feel sympathetic towards him. I also begin to admire his courage for going back to try and reclaim the lost years. I feel a little apprehensive for him too- what if the past held a secret so terrible that it would break him? What if he had deliberately, consciously erased those years?

            Undaunted, Purdew moves to the city he went to University in and starts putting the pieces together.But, no, this is not what the books is about. Within a span of a hundred and fifty pages, Taylor has turned this book into a murder mystery where our amnesiac, Purdew, plays detective. Throw in a student suicide, flashbacks of a beautiful dark-haired girl and a crazy neuroscientist/pyschologist and we have a page-turner.
            The thing I liked the most about this book is that it relates so much to my sense of being. Taylor's characters, plot, setting- all seem too real. Reading this book was equivalent to watching a Christopher Nolan movie, if mindfuck is what we're talking about. There are even mysterious looking green pills, hallucinations and suspected time-travel.

            Talking of movies, combine 'Fight Club', 'Memento' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' and you might be able to get a grip on what this book is all about. But, then, Purdew is too real to be just a movie character or a fiction book person.
            James Purdew is a person with a terrible past and a terrible memory of that past. Other than that, James Purdew could be anyone. He could be me or you.

            The book is written in a clever and fresh style. You would feel like you've cracked the great mystery many times while reading through the memoirs. But, unless you really are Sherlock, be ready for a surprise.
            Until then, I'm sitting down to fill a notebook with whatever my memory serves me up with.

            'What changes is not the color of the canal, but the perspective of the person who looks at it.'

            Love Marriage v/s Arranged marriage: A Heavenly Affair


            ( This post is my entry for Indiblogger and Sony Entertainment Television's contest 'Love Marriage v/s Arranged Marriage'. )

            Something was wrong up on cloud number nine. All the gods and all the angels were assembled in the judgement area. Varuna, the god of law sat on a throne the head, facing all the others, holding a thick wad of notes and a winged hammer. 'Friends, gods and heaven-men, we are gathered here today to discuss and revise the procedure of matrimony on earth. For as far back as we remember, our matrimonial department has been deciding who marries whom and arranging the necessary circumstances to make it happen. However, in the past hundred years or so, human beings have started to question our role and stopped leaving marriages to chance. Man meets woman, believes himself to be in love and decides to get married. Or family meets family, decides to mingle and the next available bachelors of their lots get hooked. In other words, humans are taking the matter in their hands and failing miserably. We have to get back in control and our matrimonial department needs to speed things up. Every day we sanction millions of marriage, based on our observation. But the question is, in which direction do we wave our wands? Love marriage or Arranged marriage. The house is now open to debate.'

            (Hindu God Varuna)

            (Hindu God Kamadeva)

            First rose Kamadeva, the God of Love.

            'Love is the foundation of any relationship. Love makes the world go round. You cannot expect a co-dependent relationship Not based on love to prosper. In marriage, there are countless trials and tribulations. If the participants do not share a special piece of each other's hearts, how will they strive to work together and achieve happiness? We have made the humans so complex, their dreams so vast, their intellect so involving, it would only be just if we allowed them to explore and adjust before making a commitment. '

            'Oh you praise humans unjustly! I have found them to be ridiculously ignorant and stupid. The youth, especially. Day-to-day decisions petrify them. How can we expect them to decide on a matter of life partners at such an age? They change theirs minds in a heartbeat! Did you hear about that popstar in Las Vegas? She was married for 55 hours!', Shiva, the Destroyer, fumed.

            'You cannot generalize the fate of the whole human population based on the errors in judgement of a few, Shiva! I am appealing to your logic and reason here, my friends. Marriage begets children. Children need love and protection. Two clumsy strangers, struggling to understand each other- what are the chances of consensual decisions? I believe every human we've sent down to mortal earth, has some unique quality. One deserves a chance to let that quality surface and find the other person his song resonates with. We've seen Man choose his friends so carefully. We've seen him split his hair over matters of Science and Commerce. Then why shouldn't He be given choice in this matter? After all, we have made animals too, with a capacity to love and choose who to love. Surely, Man is more accomplished?', Kamadeva retorted.

            'Idealism. Empty idealism. You are good with words, Kamadeva. Better use them in books. I have heard humans love them so much..', started Shiva, but was stopped by Varuna.

            'Now, now, Shiva, Kamadeva! We must realize this is not a matter of who's thoughts and observations are more profound. I do agree both of you have your reasons and examples, duly noted. I suppose we should take inputs from the audience of ghosts among us. Who better to guide us than the people who've been there. Any volunteers?'

            A man got up.

            He looked around at the crowd of people assembled there, gulped and started. 'I did not know how to talk to girls. I spent years practising- in front of the mirror, role-playing with my friends- but gained nothing. I even tried alcohol - you know, like Raj in TBBT, but, no. Every time I tried to make contact with a girl, my tongue would get stuck on the roof my mouth. Oh, I was quite the laughing stock! Main bahut pareshaan rehta tha ( I was in utter despair).

            But ever since I got married, my life changed! I thank my parents for finding me a match. In less than a year, I became the most dashing husband with the hottest wife. Mere friends mujhe hero bulaane lage (my friends called me a hero),' he ended, chest puffed.

            'Wives! Believe me they are a tricky lot! I, too, being an obedient son to my parents, agreed to marry the docile, homely girl-next-door. I still remember how she looked on the day of our wedding. Innocent like a young kitten. Little did I know that soon I would be the circus animal and she the ring master! I like heaven, I am safe here', a middle-aged man finished.

            'Hear hear! I too had a similar story. Only difference being, I dug my own grave. I fell for a girl so bad, I lost the power to think. I got married in haste, only to spend a life in regret. She was a gold-digger', a bespectacled man wearing Armani stated.

            'Marriage for money? Isn't that like prostitution?', a woman cried.

            'Do you expect to feed stomachs with love?', another retorted.

            A tirade of comments followed. Varuna made his winged hammer zoom across the room to quiet the commotion.

            'Arranged marriages are the worst. I died of an arranged marriage. They demanded a dowry of twenty lakhs. We only had fifteen. They burned me.', narrated a young girl. A shocked silence followed.

            'No evil deed goes unpunished, my dear girl. Hell has the worst in store for those who did this to you', stated Varuna solemnly.

            'Break Time!', exclaimed a divine voice. A group of Apsaras emerged out of thin air and took to dancing on the stage. Whistles, cat-calls and applause...

            'I asked daddy to find me a rich boy! I was tired struggling for grades and jobs and promotions. I wanted a smooth, luxurious life where I wouldn't have to move a toe. It worked well,' a lady remarked, filing her finger-nails.

            'It is not easy to marry your love in today's scenario. I spent years dreaming of marrying my high school sweetheart , until her parents sent me an ultimatum- get a job, get a wife. Here I was in California, working on my thesis and there she was tying the knot with a software engineer fresh out of the factory', recalled a man.

            'It is not easy to marry your love, indeed. I met the perfect a man a few years before my demise. He was handsome, intelligent and funny...', a man started. Several heads turned in his direction. Some smirked. 'Yes, I am gay. Oh come on, don't look at me like that!', he grew embarrassed.

            'Now, folks!Don't ridicule the guy!He has every right to fall in love and marry whoever he pleases!', Kamadeva rose in defense of the man.

            More commotion followed.

            'All I want to say is that, with gay marriages being legalized and everything, a decision in the favour of arranged marriage from your side would make matters bad for my kind', he quickly blurted and sat down.

            'You know, there's always live-in', a punk said.

            There was a collective gasp among the crowd.

            'That is enough! You see now, Varuna, how their minds run! The human race is headed to doom! I shall go down and finish the business with my dance of destruction!', Shiva grabbed his trident and jumped up.

            Parvati ran to calm him.

            'A German philosopher once said- A good friendship is the basis for a good marriage. Friendship, we know, is easier and more accepting than love. But then, every form of companionship requires us to cross the friendship hurdle. Varuna, let us concentrate on letting the mortals create grounds for building a solid friendship. Everything else should fall in place', concluded Parvati, in her steady flowing voice.

            Shiva stood dumbstruck, taking in the wisdom of his wife.

            A warm fuzzy glow, which may be red, spread over the clouds.

            Somewhere on earth, a couple smiled at each other and shook hands.

            The end.

            # Are you mortal?

            # Do you have similar doubts?