Day 04: Scribendi’s 30-Day Writing Challenge

Check out what The 30-Day Writing Challenge is all about here.

My story on the challenge for day 3 is here.

Presenting my task for the fourth day of the challenge: Imagine that your protagonist has just turned into a statue. Describe his or her thoughts.


“Hoooooooooooooooh! Those two weeks felt like two years! Gramma really is something, isn’t she? Kudos to you, Maya! You’ve almost made it, again! It’s almost time to go home! No more Grumpma for a looooooong t…

“Wait, why can’t I move? Hngh! Hngh! What is this? Am I dreaming?

“I can’t even get to pinch myself! What the hell? Hello? HELLO!? Gramma! Can you hear me? GRAMMA!?

“I’m pretty sure there’s no voice escaping me. So THIS is what it sounds like inside my head! Not bad, Maya! I’m pretty impressed!

“AAAARGH! Focus, Maya! Why can’t you move? Strain your eyes. See if you can get them to look into that…

“HOLY SHIT! Are my feet really that huge? I mean, they can’t be, right? It’s just the angle, right? Because they’re closer to the mirror? Yep. Definitely just the angle.

“Probably wriggle them toes while you’re at… Oooohh! Right. I’m a statue. Well, this sucks! On the last day, no less! The day I had to leave this craphole!

“Where was my good fortune the day I had arrived!? Wouldn’t have been half bad to have turned into stone then, and just whiled away the two weeks without being subjected to borderline slavery. I’m sure people have wished for worse in this house!

“UGH! This SUCKS! Wait. Who turned me into a statue? Wow, Maya! Way to go! Took you quite a while to get to asking the real questions! And why would someone turn me while I was sleeping? That’s just downright rude! Should’ve at least waited for me to be standing up, before striking! Now this will be an extra dose of grumpiness I’ll have to deal with! GREAT!

“Hey, Gramma’s here! Gramma! GRAMMA! HEY, GRAMMA! YOOHOO! Over here! Wow! She really is deaf. Although, it seems her real illness is indifference. Her granddaughter has been turned into a statue in her bed, and she just enters the room, picks up a rag, and just leaves, without sparing so much as a glance!

“Pretty sure she’s secretly a Believer and she’s the one who did this to me in my sleep, that too on my last day here. There’s no end to her pettiness, that’s a universal truth. Come to think of it, she really was eyeing my sexy hairdo with much disgust.

“Also, I seem to be too nonchalant for someone who’s just woken up to find out she’s been turned into a statue! I guess I’ll have to either wait for Gramma to finally notice me, or wait for Mum and Dad to return, then wait for me, then freak out, then visit Gramma, then find me in bed, then freak out again… You know how parents are.

“And I might as well expect the worst, then. There’s not much I can do by myself, anyway!

“Oh, well. Some days you’re the bird, some days you’re the… Errr… Hmmm… How did that proverb go again?”

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Day 03: Scribendi’s 30-Day Writing Challenge

Check out what The 30-Day Writing Challenge is all about here.

My story on the challenge for day 2 is here.

Presenting my task for the third day of the challenge: Now send your character to his or her grumpy grandmother’s house for a visit. Write the scene of your character’s arrival.


“But MOM! Why can’t I just stay at home? It’s easier this way for all parties involved. I have so many books to read anyw…”

“Maya. No. Your Grandma rarely gets to see you.”

“And whose fault is that?”

Maya always knew the outcome of all her arguments with her mother, way before they ended. In this particular one, she had lost.

Ever since her parents had decided that they were going to be Roving around the world, Maya was dreading that she might be sent to her grandmother’s house to live out what could have been two weeks of peaceful solitude.

Grandma Heer. Maya’s mother’s mother in every capacity, as negatively as possible. It would be safe to assume that Maya and ‘Grumpma Heer,’ as Maya liked to refer to her in private, found it slightly difficult to get along. Slightly. A tad bit. Just a smidgen.

Grandma Heer was everything Maya wasn’t. Conservative. Orthodox. God-fearing. Rude. Unruly. Having no regard for human emotion. A royal pain in the rear. She was the grumpy old woman everyone had to put up with just because she was an elder in the family.

If all this weren’t enough, Maya couldn’t even take the Rove to her place, or even around her, because she lived in the community of non-Believers. According to Maya, she could very well be living in the Stone Age. It was as if the laborious traveling Maya has to endure to reach Grandma Heer’s place was a teaser for the hassle that was to follow.

Two and a half hours later, after having been in almost every form of public transport, Maya arrived in front of the decrepit-looking tenement building that housed her grandmother. Now impervious to the stares and whispers around her, Maya proceeded to climb the three flights of stairs.

As she reached the third floor and removed her earphones, Maya could hear a commotion around the corner. She hoped and prayed for it not to be Grandma Heer.

It was Grandma Heer.

A small crowd had gathered outside her house as Grumpma Heer was shouting her lungs out. The scene looked right out of a street show to Maya.

Clad in her ancient floral nightgown, wispy white hair going haywire, Grandma Heer was shaking in rage. She was wagging a bony finger to her maid, who, Maya thought, must have committed a grave sin. Her eyes were watery, pupils bordering with cataract, but they were mad with anger at the moment. Her skeletal face and jowl were almost vibrating, giving her the impression of a very flustered wooden puppet.

“This is the fourth time you have mopped the floor BEFORE doing the dishes! FOURTH! This is too much for me to take! How many times must this old woman tell you, girl? How many times? Can you not understand the simple concept of dusting, dishes, sweeping, and mopping, in that order? Begone with you, stupid girl! And don’t come back till you learn how to be a proper maid!”

As the maid disappeared in a whirlwind of tears, and the crowd dispersed, a still shaking Grandma Heer returned to her house, banging the doors shut behind her.

Already having second thoughts, barely fighting every urge to turn heel and run away, Maya took lungfuls of deep breaths and knocked on her grandmother’s door.

“Who is it now!?” Grandma Heer’s chappals could be heard approaching from the inside.

The door opened. Both women were rooted to the spot, but for very different reasons.

For Maya, it was a cocktail of trepidation, fear, frustration, anxiety, defeat, and the impending high stress levels.

For Grandma Heer, it was disapproval. With a frown on her face, she slowly took in Maya’s pixie hair, her glasses, her lipstick, her tank top, her black nails, her tight denims, and her kicks. By the end, the frown had turned into a full-fledged scowl.

“Oh, it’s you.” Maya could hear the exasperation in her voice.

Mustering every happy thought she could, Maya replied, “Good to see you, too, Gramma! Mum and Dad have left for…”

“Yeah, yeah! Save your breath! I know what they’re doing. Get inside, shoes out. And close the door behind you. Make it quick! Have you learned to make yourself useful around the house or are you…” Her voice trailed off as she ventured off into the kitchen.

Cursing her parents’ travel plans and dreading the two very long weeks ahead of her, Maya stepped inside.


My story on the challenge for day 4 is here.

Day 02: Scribendi’s 30-Day Writing Challenge

Check out what The 30-Day Writing Challenge is all about here.

My story on the challenge for day 1 is here.

Presenting my task for the second day of the challenge: Think of three people in your life. Give your character the hair and laugh of person 1, the face and bedroom of person 2, and the wardrobe and mannerisms of person 3. This is your new protagonist. Feel free to give him or her any other characteristics you’d like. Give us an idea of who your character is by describing only the first 60 seconds of the character’s day.


“Maya! Maya! Maya! Wake up, girl, it’s 11! MAYA! I swear all these bookshelves will disappear from your bedroom one day if you don’t take responsibility for your schedule!”

On the bed right next to one of the bookshelves, a childlike chuckle was heard from under the bedsheet. A pixie-haired girl with a squarish face and amber eyes emerged from under the covers, searching for her glasses on the side table. Maya. Composed, organised, occasionally funny.

To the right of the bed, mumbling something incoherent, Maya’s mom had her mouth covered in awe, looking at the ultra-organised wardrobe. Clean lines, perfect folds, proper demarcation, categories, separate piles for casual, formal, college, special occasions. Tops and bottoms were hung in different sections. Accessories had found a new home in small boxes. It was porn for the obsessive-compulsive.

Finding her glasses, Maya peeked over her mom’s shoulder, saying, “Yeah, I was bored last night.”


My story on the challenge for day 3 is here.

Day 01: Scribendi’s 30-Day Writing Challenge

To be very honest, I’ve forgotten how to write. Typing on my smartphone has become such a habit, that when it comes to putting pen to paper, I am defeated by the daunting task in front of me. Damn you, short attention span! I wanted to set about overturning this disposition of mine, and thankfully, Scribendi made an entrance into my life. The 30-Day Writing Challenge put forth by the website is actually very doable and is a perfect fit for everyone out there who struggles to write a few words, let alone a few thousand words every day but really want to make the effort.

As the author of the story puts it: “Writing for a few minutes every day doesn’t sound so scary, does it? The trick is that it all adds up. That’s why we’ve created a less intense alternative to 50,000 words in 30 days. This is the 30-Day Writing Challenge, where we’ve provided creative writing exercises for every day of the month. The best part is that you can write as much or as little as you’d like without pressure and without having to feel bad about it. After all, it’s all about creation in any volume, right?”

Word! (geddit?)

Presenting my task for the first day of the challenge: Take us through a written walk down your street and to your favorite place through the eyes of somebody else.


“It is imperative that you walk down the lane!” Masterji always used to begin our training sessions with what he said was his most important piece of advice.

“For your mind to adjust, no matter how many times you’ve done it, you must walk down the lane.”

Despite the slight exhalations of frustration from my friends, I personally thought Masterji’s simple request made a lot of sense. Think about it, you’re holed up in your apartment most of the day, and once a day, you get to go wherever you want, no questions asked. Why not savour your little road to get there rather than directly… you know! There’s a reason appetizers exist in most restaurant menus.

Take my favourite place, for example. A quaint, but beautiful, town nestled in the lap of nature. Cobbled streets and single- or double-storeyed houses sit neatly along the pavements, punctuated by hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, liquor stores masquerading as grocery stores, and cafés.

Oh, the cafés! There is just something magical about sipping hot coffee on a cold May evening, watching the world go by. Did I mention it’s cold there all year? Oh, yes! That is one of the best reasons why this is my most favourite place in the world.

After you finish your coffee, get some warmth in you, and finish some hearty exchanges with the kind café owner, it is as if by some invisible force, you’re drawn to the wild stream running nearby.

It is here that Masterji’s second most important advice comes in handy. “My sons and daughters, especially you, Maya. Always dress for the destination. Never forget that.” If it weren’t for this, standing for hours, gazing into the stream, drinking in the icy wind it brings, would have been a real concern. Imagine wearing just a t-shirt and shorts and turning up at the bank of the stream! Brrrrrrr! My best friends here are my thick overcoat and my bearskin boots.

As I step out of my apartment building, I pass a lot of people who live in similar apartment buildings along my lane. I’ve never liked these people. They’re too pretentious, too plastic, too preachy. All they get from me is an empty smile and a half-hearted wave of the hand.

But the people who live in my favourite place are one of the nicest in the world. Their innate happiness and contentment with life has made them the way they are. No hang-ups, no regrets, and no complaints. Always a smile, a wave, a nod, a kind word. Makes you pleasantly warm in single-degree temperatures.

I reach the end of my lane, cross the main road, and walk up to the tea stall run by Masterji’s long-time friend. It’s a well-kept and well-hidden secret, that the tea stall houses one of the Roves in this part of the world. Plain sight, am I right?

Twenty years of training under Masterji has helped me to master the Rove. If you’ve heard of other mechanisms like this, but haven’t experienced them, then rest assured that they’re probably gross exaggerations. For the record, there is no green smoke (or smoke of any colour, for that matter), no distortion of (or danger to) body parts, no such bells and whistles. You cannot just pop up anywhere as per your whim, and there are heavy enchantments in place that govern the Rove.

“Evening, Maya! Here for my special chai today?” Pyareji chimes.

“I’m sorry, Pyareji, some other day. I’ll have the usual right now,” I add with a wink.

Pyareji’s face contorts into a wide grin, as he gestures me to the back wall of the stall.

“Paro, Bhutan?”

“Paro, Bhutan!” I answer, my excitement clearly not hidden.

“Well, you know what to do. Good thing you took that walk down the lane!”

As I step past his wall of tea-jars, I come face-to-face with the door to the Rove. I open it, step inside, close it behind me, and look ahead.

The Passage. I knock on the door behind me thrice, then pause, then twice. In the far end, what looks like the end of a tunnel, a door begins to open.

As soon as I see the light spill out through the slit, I close my eyes and make a run for it. I feel the familiar racing of my heart, the rush of blood to my face, and the breaking of sweat all over. The moment I feel myself running out of breath, a wall of chilly air hits me and I open my eyes, watery from the exertion. But I can’t keep myself from smiling. I’m home.

Paro, Bhutan.
My most favourite place in the world!


My story on the challenge for day 2 is here.

India, the paradox.

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We don’t live in a country. We live in a personification of hypocrisy.

Where people shitting on the railway tracks is okay, but people hugging on the railway station is looked down upon.

Where a supposedly “secular” country has majority states divided by language and religion.

Where people lead such sorry lives that they have nothing better to do than fight over religion, which, ironically, had been established to prevent the same.

Where people bite back when criticised instead of introspecting and improving themselves.

Where education is a business, and marks are given more importance than knowledge. Where dumb people are toppers, and the smart ones fumble around at the bottom.

Where people standing up to eve teasers are murdered and their justice takes 5 years to arrive, while “innocent” people who run over people sleeping on sidewalks are let off the hook in a month.

Where a cricketer earns more than a policeman. Where the police reach later than pizza.

Where a 2-minute kissing scene from a foreign movie is edited out, and a freakshow movie full of dirty humour, soft porn, and vulgar imagery gets released without cuts.

Where five people sharing a wife, a blue-skinned man cheating at war, and an “honourable” man having multiple sex partners are put on a pedestal and literally worshipped.

Where killing a cow and eating it is illegal, but killing many other animals and eating them isn’t. Where eating onions, potatoes, garlic, and basically anything that grows under the earth is considered to be sin.

Where politicians worry more about what happens behind hotel doors than what happens in the country.

Where things that don’t matter are taken seriously and things that matter go to hell.

Where people care more about controlling how others live than making their own miserable lives better.

Where one person cannot make a difference, because he’ll be silenced either by money stuffed in his pockets, or a knife stuffed in his guts.

Where love is subject to conditions. Where love is looked down upon. Where love is measured by looks, colour, wealth, and family background. Where what the ‘log’ say matters more than your own child’s happiness.

Where it is okay to be an emotionless robot with a good job, rather than following your dreams.

Where people (like me) who have a strong opinion against anything in the country are labelled anti-national by the people cheating their own country and filling their pockets with tax money paid by citizens.

Where rapists, murderers, thieves, corrupt people, biased people, pedophiles are allowed in temples but not women on their period.

Where I’m not even sure whether to get angry at or take pity on this country.

Where everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others.

Living in India is like being in an abusive relationship. You want to cherish the good parts, but the bad parts are so much in abundance, that the good parts look like alms.

You go through all the shit, hoping it’ll get better one day, but each day, your love reduces a little bit. I’m not surprised that almost every other kid wants to leave the country as soon as they can. And then they miss India only because “Yahan pe sab chalta hai.”

Only because you can make huge savings on traffic fines, get any job done if you quote the right amount, and basically be scott free if you’re rich. All in this country, where money is everything, and even family doesn’t matter.

You can piss in public, but you can’t kiss in public. Gudd bhi hai gobar bhi hai.

Bharat mata ki jai.

(Hoping, and expecting, to get a lot of hate for this, because “Hum nahi sudhrenge.” But to all those who are going to throw abuses at me, I say, “Yahan pe sab chalta hai.”)

Not Today!

Earlier today, a friend of mine was having her regular banged up Monday at work. When out of nowhere, a wild weirdo appeared. As will be obvious from the following screenshots, the guy openly accepted to randomly adding and creeping out contacts from TrueCaller. We all can be pretty sure most of them will be unsuspecting women like Nancy.

But Mr. Rahul was in for a twist in the TrueCalling of his life (lullzz). Little did he expect the kind of response that he’d receive. Now, it might have been a bit on the heavier side, but Nancy wanted to teach this guy a lesson, and hence took to social media. Many advised her against it, to ignore him, block him, and the usual things Indian men say to oppressed/harassed Indian women. But no, not today. Some even asked to blur the guy’s number, to save him social shaming. Again, not today.

People need to realise that cyber/social harassment will not be taken lightly. Even if this person wanted to just ‘get to know’ Nancy today, who’s to say what other actions he might succumb to tomorrow? There’s a thin like between being social and being creepy, and it takes just a good looking and respectful woman for a man to cross that line.

Share this, if you believe in this. If you don’t, well, potatoes gonna potate, you get it.

Also, Ms. Nancy has agreed to keep this post public so that all who read this can see the status she has put up, and probably share it and do some good for the online social community. Please respect that and don’t flood her notifications panel.

Be safe, be responsible. Cheers !!

Update: Nancy’s been getting a lot of messages and friend requests. While she appreciates the adoration and praise, she’d love it if you all comment for her here instead of flooding her notifications.

Her.

There was a time, circa three years ago or so, I came across a really pretty girl, with the most glorious smile I’d ever seen. A smile which you would normally describe as a million-dollar smile. And, just like every pretty girl I lay my eyes on, my heart went out to her, in the hopes that one day, I’ll get to be a very close friend to her. Just how I’d do it, I had no idea.

Three years passed, looking at her, waving at her, smiling at her, marveling at her smile, and still hoping. Who would know that luck would have it for us to bond so well, and that too, over Old Monk. Got to thank the classic rum for that! But jokes and alcohol aside, I never knew that the girl I’d grown to be so fond of, had a treasure trove of black clouds, but the silver lining that was her smile, hid them so well. This girl, I realised, wasn’t just your friendly neighbourhood glamour chick. No, she was much more than that, much bigger, larger than life. She was a mother, a sister, a lover, a diary, and all that any human wants from another. She was a superhuman, the kinds of which you get to read in comic books and behold in fantastical multi-billion dollar movies. Yes, she is what stories are made up of. She is a story in herself, a brilliant and moving saga told and retold through the sands of time.

Time and time again, I was reminded that no matter how high my flight will be, I will always be humbled by this soaring albatross. And the best thing about her is that in all her glory, she never outshines others. Exactly how a superwoman should be, right? She’s that kind of a leader who will drive her people forward, whose victory lies in ours. While she’s sitting and reading this little piece I’ve written for her (it sure is little, but it’s from the bottom of my heart), she knows it’s for her. And I don’t expect some brilliant gesture of gratitude, or any tears form those captivating almond-shaped eyes, no. Those pearls are way too precious. And they should be saved for when the time is nigh. So, you, yes you! The one with the million-dollar smile. This is me, and my love, gratitude, respect, and adoration for you. Keep rocking that smile. It’s what we all live and die for.

This one’s for the hot one. This one’s for HER.