Thursday, 5 March 2015

Paleo Stuff

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Stripping of the Layers

He couldn’t believe they were spending their birthdays together. Oscar was a phenomenal actor. Being his understudy came already very close to his dream job, but he couldn’t possibly imagine fitting in Oscar’s shoes.

His girlfriend had been skeptical. “It’s great that Oscar nominated you again as his understudy. But shouldn’t you be trying to go on the stage more?” She didn’t understand the importance of Oscar. She was a great, supportive girlfriend. But her world was different. The stars of her theatre didn’t get reviews or have their lives scrawled over tabloids. They were praised for even the most mundane surgeries. Mediocrity in his theatre, however, was treated very cruelly.

“Ah, your glass is empty. That’s not done. I think I have another Bordeaux in the kitchen. Go, have some and pour some for me too.”

Joel walked the length of Oscar’s wooden floor, his fingers gently brushing Oscar’s furniture. Everything about Oscar mesmerised Joel: no gesture out of place, each syllable articulated. Even his apartment appeared free of clutter. Sure, there were books, posters and objects that betrayed his interests. But maybe Oscar had deliberately placed them there? He had to see Oscar’s bedroom and private bathroom. He needed to know all the layers of Oscar, from the core to the surface, to calculate steps he would have to take to become him. No wonder Joel couldn’t resist being invited to celebrate his birthday, their birthdays, with Oscar. He wanted to meet a more loosened-up Oscar.

He emptied the last bottle of wine in the drain. “We seem to be out of wine, Sir.”
 “Already? Huh! Get Benedictine from the lowest drawer, will you?”

 By now, they cheered on every round. “What shall we drink to this time, Joel?”

 “To our birthdays, Sir.”

Oscar’s eyes widened with amused surprise. Damn, he was a good actor even after several glasses of the vile spirit. If he were called for a theatre emergency, he’d just button his shirt, head to the stage, and make it seem as if he’d been rehearsing for weeks.

“Then let me give you a gift.”

He gulped down his drink in one large sip and placed himself behind Joel.

“Oh your back is so stiff. When in theatre, you ought to get regular massages. I’ll give you the number of my physiotherapist.”

Oscar knew exactly what to do. Or maybe he just pushed the right buttons. Joel succumbed to his touch. He stood up, took off his shirt and just marched into Oscar’s bedroom. Oscar, as expected, followed.


 “Wait, Joel. I don’t want you falling asleep during the massage.”

The next instant the top of the dark wooden bedside table was streaked with four white lines.
“Go ahead, snort it. We don’t want the night to end, do we?”

His pants had come off… His whole body was smeared in with oil… He did not want oil on his expensive underwear, so he’d taken them off too… Oscar’s lips on his ears… The pain… Oscar had held him, and whispered the most romantic words in his ears… Oh, the pain… Oscar’s lips over his—he was such a good kisser.... Joel was sore in places he’d never imagined being sore. Fucking faggot.

“No, you can't go to sleep yet! What about round 2?”
“Oh you're a wild animal, aren't you?”
“ Wait, let me fetch us another drink.”

Joel took extra care to stir Oscar's glass.

Oscar had snorted another line.

“Here you go. The last of the Benedictine.”
“Do you wanna go this time?”
“Nah,” he didn't want any traces, “you do it best.”

When Joel woke up, Oscar was snoring. He washed the glasses and cleaned up the kitchen. He returned to the bedroom to check on him. He punched three digits on his phone.
“Help! I'm calling from Oscar Pereira's flat. He isn't breathing!”

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Point of Intolerance

(an exercise: the four characters and a part of the scene is set; everything else has creative freedom)

Every time his tongue touched mine, I felt a spark going down my spine and back up again. My lips were already sore. I couldn’t believe, even though I was living it, that my lips were locked with those of the hottest guy in college. I pushed away for just a moment and stared at his beautiful passion-filled eyes. Anuj—my first crush, my first Valentine, my first kiss; he could disassemble the entire cellular arrangement of my being with his mere touch. His fingers moved gently, in a sensation just short of tingling, from my lower back up to my neck, while mine remained entangled in his wavy hair. He brought his lips close to mine again. Oh, this would be a perfect ending to a perfect date!

“Oy, what the hell is going on here?” The havaldar’s cane touched Anuj’s knee.

The crimson of passion on his face transformed to the red of embarrassment. “Sir, we, er… I, er…”

“Do your parents know where you are, boy?”

“Sorry Sir. We were just leaving.”

“Why, you lassie, don’t you have a home?”

“Oh my mom isn’t home.”
Anuj’s jaw hit his knee. “Sir, what she means is that her mom is out shopping. But we’ll go home right away, right, Natasha?”

“Wait a minute.”A lean bespectacled woman approached us. “What’s going on, officer?”

“Look at them. Not even reached puberty, and they already have their tongues down each others throats!”

“So, what’s wrong with that?”

“Madam, it’s a public park. I cannot allow it. This is a question of Indian culture. They can do it inside their homes. Go home, boy.”

“Yes, Sir,” came his timid voice, “Let’s go, Natasha.”

“Nobody’s going anywhere! Officer, I don’t think anybody in this park is complaining.”

“Oh madam. I can charge them with the act of obscenity under section 294. I’m not doing that only because—”

“Please spare me your reasons. The Supreme Court ruled last month that obscenity has to be judged as per community standards. I don’t think the community would object to two teenagers kissing in a public park when it’s not even dark.”

The arguments continued. I was just a spittle-throw away from any of them, but my mind could have been in the ionosphere. The lady must have succeeded because the policeman growled and left. She gave us a smile and an encouraging wink, and let us have that corner of the park to ourselves.

“So where were we, baby?”
Ten minutes ago, that expression and that voice could have made me elope with him.

“I’m sorry, I have to go.”

“Wait, what? After all this? The policeman has left. What happened?” The surprise on his face was a new emotion, even to him.

“I just realized I’m not a lesbian.”

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Escape

(alternative start to a famous classic story)

And she heard that voice again; it was right after midday. She didn’t need to look at the sun -- that strong yet gentle voice was never late. It was her only connection to beyond these four walls. She knew what to do. No sooner did she gather her hair and approach the window than the beckoning voice came again, a little more impatient this time --
 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair
 For I may climb up the golden stair.'

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Mediterranean flavours with elegance

Review: Nico Bombay

We were strolling rather innocently in Fort, when we stumbled upon Nico Bombay. Our legs drew us towards it, very conscious of the fact that we already had a reservation at this other place. We’d passed by Nico Bombay several times before, always noticing the white wooden tables on wooden floor, but, at night, the light emanating through the glass chandeliers coated the wooden furniture with an irresistible elegance. We couldn’t help ourselves from checking the menu hung outside, right in the middle of two windowpanes that betrayed the perfectly alluring décor. We felt like we were window-shopping for food.

“The menu looks delicious, but I’m afraid it’d put a dent in my wallet”. We decided then that dinners shouldn’t be heavy. We cancelled our reservation.

The 12-step slow walk to our table, 6 of which were alongside the cement-tiled bar, was filled with admiration for the interiors. The lights were adequately dim—they permitted us to easily read the menu. The light from the tea-candle shimmered off the textured glass it was placed inside; this and with several tables-for-two, Nico Bombay would serve well for a dinner date.

“Could you get us three glasses of filtered water?”
“Sorry sir, we only serve Mulshi spring water.”
We looked at each other. Sigh. “All right. Room temperature, please.”

Every item on the handmade paper-based menu impressed us. The dishes seemed to be an impressive combination of meat, sauces and greens.
“I’ll choose a pizza.”
“Is there pizza in this menu?”
“‘Neapolitan Flat Bread’. That’s pizza.”

While I was confused between chipotle-spiced mackerel and smoked sardines for “mezze”, a slate-black slab appeared on the table with three pieces of choux pastry with cream filling. Our moans must have been more audible than we realized because in ten minutes, another such slab appeared and with a sly smile plastered on the waiter’s countenance.

We got our orders within reasonable time. Veal tenderloin with tuna tonato sprinkled with arugula was a treat. Each bite was as delicious as the previous one; we finished the dish within minutes.

Which “flatbread”, Enzo or Beirut? The former, in particular, featured pumpkin flowers. The waiter came to my rescue, “Sir, Enzo isn’t available because we do not have the burrata cheese.” Soon after, Beirut and Gorus were placed on the table. Beirut didn’t lack tomato sauce, it just didn’t need it. Pine nuts and dill-cream cheese complementing the goat meat pieces sprinkled all over the pizza treated our taste buds to some unusual, but beautiful, combination of Mediterranean flavours. Gorus, drizzled with bitter honey, also stimulated taste buds in a combination never before experienced. None of us left the crusts at the end; even the dough was that delicious.

Because we did not want a “heavy dinner”, we had to skip desserts. However, the coffee machine on the bar was tempting, even though it was 10:30 pm.

I shouldn’t have. It had chicory.

Nevertheless, with the overall experience leaning towards extremely positive, we walked out of the food heaven, back into the reality of the night.

Meal for two: Approximately Rs. 2000

105 Apollo Street
Bombay Samachar Marg
Kala Ghoda
PHONE: 022 2262 4466

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The New Arrival

Positive. Positive. Positive. All three sticks were positive. Her hand immediately reached for her phone to text him, but she stopped it. No, this will have to wait. She washed her piss-covered hands and headed back to her table.

Last month, her mind had been swimming in happiness and alcohol. Her John, her dearest adorable John, was painting a perfect picture of the future. “Let’s get a house in the suburbs. We will have a studio where I can concentrate on drawing. We’ll have a garden for our kids to play in. I’ll be a perfect house husband. I can drop the kids to the school, draw while they’re away, pick them up in the afternoon. Maybe all that will inspire me to finally crap out a great graphic novel….” His face returned to the usual taciturnity, but his eyes were still lost far beyond the horizon. “Come on, John, I’ve just got a raise, not a promotion; not yet. Besides,” she climbed on him intoxicated by his lips, “if we need to have babies, what are we doing here on the beach?”

She called for another Americano. She decided she did not want monosyllabic responses again. No, not today. Both in graphic novels and in real life, John communicated more with facial expressions. Today, she especially wanted to communicate with him.

The tiny bell attached to the door chimed, and her eyes met John’s: they betrayed irritation, but only the mild kind of irritation one has on minor interruption of routine. She retaliated with a smile. He kissed her and sat across her.

 “So, what’s the urgent news?”

 She wondered if her decision would significantly alter that expression.