Murphy and his law … or maybe not

Pineapple-CakePadmini, or Puppy as she was called by all her friends was a nervous wreck today. October 7th this year was quite unlike any of the other years.

Vaishnav, or Vy, as her eight yr. old son was called by everybody had insisted that they celebrate his birthday outdoors in the lawns of the residential complex they stayed in. Puppy was quite surprised at the fact that Vy put his foot down and insisted that his birthday be celebrated the way he wanted to. The silver lining in this whole situation was that for some reason Vy wanted his birthday to be celebrated with very little pomp and preparations, spending as little money as possible and he even volunteered to help his parents with the entire preparations including setting up the table and decorations on the lawns, and he had also promised to help out with serving food to the guests who turned up at the party. His only condition was that Puppy would bake the birthday cake herself.

While Puppy loved the fact that her little one was growing up to be money conscious and loved cakes baked by her, the fact remained that she had never dared to bake a cake as big as was required to feed at least twenty five hungry guests that the invitees would make up. Despite her misgivings, she gave in to Vy’s demands and geared up for a tough baking day on Oct 7th.

However, fate, the universe, the stars and all planetary alignments ended up conspiring against her on that day and despite following the instructions of YouTube chef Sanjay Thumma to the ‘t’, her cake ended up a sorry soggy mess which was barely able to stand upright. The party invite began at 5 in the evening, and here she was at 4.30, ready to burst out into tears. She didn’t have the heart to tell a hyper-excited Vy that she had ended up ruining his favorite pineapple cake, but she didn’t have a choice. She knew that for kids in their ‘tweens’, prestige and their image in front of their peers meant more than anything else, and she didn’t want Vy to cut a sorry figure in front of all his friends at his own birthday party.

Everything seemed to be going wrong today, of all the days…

Surprisingly Vy took it quite sportingly when she showed him the 4 Kilo mangled mess that she tried to pass off as his birthday cake. He looked at it thoughtfully for a while, just dipped a finger in the whipped cream on the top and licked it, and then turned around Amma, don’t worry. You have done more than enough to ensure that I have an awesome birthday. Just wait and watch.

He then took her smartphone and started typing away furiously while walking back into his room. Puppy assumed that he was probably messaging his friends on Whatsapp telling them not to expect any cake in the party. But five minutes later, he came out of his room, wearing an old white sweatshirt and his boxer shorts.

Puppy knew that he probably was disappointed and was trying to hide the same earlier, but she didn’t quite expect him to cancel the party itself. Just as she began to apologize and asked for her phone to call up the nearest French Loaf outlet to order a new cake, he looked up at her Amma, I suggest you get into clothes which you don’t mind being dirtied. I have a surprise planned at today’s party.

The entire situation was getting more and more mysterious for Puppy and she wondered what Vy was talking about. In any case, by now, she had decided that she would do anything to compensate for the bad cake and dutifully changed into an old sweatshirt and track pants. In the meantime, JP, her husband had arrived home from office and had also been instructed by Vy to change into something that he didn’t mind dirtying. Being the sport that he was, JP, went ahead and did exactly what his son asked him to.

When the trio went down the elevator, they sure made up for a funny sight in their old clothes with an ‘almost ready to collapse’ soggy cake in hand. And in five minutes when they reached the Events Area where Vy and his friends had decked up a small table and the thirty odd chairs with various streamers and balloons, they saw that all of Vy’s friends and the parents who had accompanied them had all turned up in similar attire. Puppy’s questioning look to Vy was answered only by an all knowing smile.

This was just getting crazier and crazier…

Vy then put the cake on the table and stood in front of it. Friends, aunties and uncles, first of all thank you so much for coming to my birthday party. I will ensure that all of you will remember this party for a long time to come.

As you can see, Amma managed to bake up a storm, quite literally, in the form of this pineapple cake, which by the way has the tastiest whipped cream I have tasted in quite a while. But then, unknowingly, she has given me a wonderful idea to make this party the most memorable one I have ever had.

Saying so, he put his right hand into the cake, scooped up the cream and went up to Puppy

What are you guys waiting for? Attack!!!!

He took the fistful of cream and pasted it all over Puppy’s face, and all his friends followed suit with each of them grabbing fistfuls of cake and pasting it on their parents and on each other. Before the parents could figure out what was happening, they were all doused with the soggy cake. The next three odd minutes saw mayhem with kids, parents and even pet dogs attacking each other with cake in their hands, and as Vy mentioned, it turned out to be the funniest, most memorable birthday party their apartment complex had ever seen.

Puppy couldn’t control her tears; tears of joy which streamed down her cheeks for her wonderful smart little son had managed to convert an unmitigated disaster that her cake was into a fun, laugh riot of a birthday party.


This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong – and then suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

Guest Post : The 40 hour week – Part 2


<< PART 1 >>

In about an hour and a half, we had our bellies filled with wine and food. It was Rakesh’s turn to crib about his work this time. We all took turns, but from the extent of the stress he faced at work, it appeared that he had earned the right to the floor. We had all been there. He ranted about his unreasonable manager who had made demands that cannot be fulfilled within timelines that cannot be met while maintaining a quality of work that, considering the other parameters, was close to impossible to achieve. The repercussions not meeting his supervisor’s expectations would reflect on Rakesh’s performance review and in turn on how much money he made in a month.  All the while, Vicky and I sat there and just laughed, as friends are wont to do, at Rakesh’s misery. We never steered the conversation towards any of the serious questions that would potentially address the situation. We were there to have fun damn it, and that’s what we were going to do.

If we were to start pondering over the reasons as to why we worked our jobs, the possibility of never doing anything else for the rest of our lives and the fact that as time went by, we would realize the futility of the situation and by then it would be too late to do anything else to improve our situation, our day would be ruined and by god we were not going to let that happen. So, to us, it was satire, our own brand of dark humor and we enjoyed it.

The restaurant had certainly delivered on their promise of great food. A little pricey, but hey that’s why we worked and made our money right? It was time to watch a movie. It was our ritual every Saturday: sink into those big armchairs in a multiplex and watch a movie all the while reveling in postprandial somnolence. The movie was a good one too. And when it was done we came out of the theatre happy and content. It had been a day well spent.

It was time for the long auto-rickshaw ride back home. We weren’t ones to drink and drive. Through all of the chaos that surrounded us, we kept our conversation upbeat. We were still a little inebriated from the drinks in the afternoon and I must confess, it helped us stay upbeat. When I finally reached home, I knew it was time for a shower. I needed one to function, not that I had much to do. So, off to the shower I went and the steaming hot water felt like a blessing. The thing I enjoy most about a shower is that it somehow has the power to induce thoughts that you would normally never give heed to. It unleashes the eccentric genius in all of us, or so I have always believed.

As the mist fogged up the mirror, I could no longer stare at my spectacular self and therefore I moved on to thinking about the happenings of the day. I thought about Rakesh’s situation. It was something that everyone stuck in the vicious “40 hour a week” cycle knew about and encountered sometime during their tenure. It was terrible how supervisors had unreasonable expectations from the people who do the actual work and how not meeting those ridiculous expectations would have a direct effect on one’s livelihood. Surely, they are not to be blamed completely for this.

They have superiors too: people who are driven by blind ambition bordering on greed. These people, who sit in their luxurious homes and expect the underlings to do all the work, share none of the profits excepting the measly salary they give to them.

These were the people that made policies in their monstrous organizations that took away any semblance of a life that their employees have. These people who expect to turn their underlings into robots who do the same thing over and over for no specific purpose that benefits the underlings themselves. These people who expect their employees to sit in one place, from morning till evening with little time to spare for their personal lives. These people who know workers can be bought off with measly perks like being able to watch a movie once in a while or have a nice meal giving them the illusion of indulgence. This had caused regular, middle class employees to endure long commutes, extended hours, unattainable goals and the repercussions of being unable to meet those goals.

The hot water started to cool down. The geyser had run out of it as my shower had drawn on too long. Suddenly, I realized that the subject in my thoughts had faded. Who was I thinking of again? Was it Rakesh or Jishu?

The resemblance in their stories was uncanny. The influence held by the powers-that-be over them was resolute and unshakable thanks to the situations in which they were both placed. My head was getting crowded and the water was almost running cold now.

I had to conclude in a hurry as to who I was thinking of. Sadly, I was out of shower time. I was sure, as I turned off the water, that I didn’t know the answer.

And as I write this, I would like to ask: Do you?

Guest Post : The 40 hour week – Part 1

My cousin and daresay, a person who knows his ‘words’ more than me has graciously decided to provide my blog with one of his short stories. Split in two parts, the same shall be published. All you readers are requested to read the same, and provide him with your valuable feedback in terms of content, style and narrative.



The auto-rickshaw had stopped at the signal, promptly enough, in response to the light turning red.  Of course, being in India, we were well within our rights to stop a few feet beyond the stop line and it was something everyone took advantage of.

My friends and I were on our way to lunch at a new restaurant, as we had heard great things about it. Good food, swanky interiors, courteous staff and a wide variety of aperitifs and digestifs too. It was going to be a good Saturday afternoon. We were going to do something we knew all too well and associated quite firmly with the weekend – Indulge.  Very justifiable considering it offered the perfect solace from the 40 hours of skull drudgery we put in every week making our “livelihood”. Our conversations revolved around the usual topics: Stock markets, businesses, hierarchical changes in big corporations, sports, movies and a fair amount of gossip.

Vicky was in the middle of a particularly juicy narrative about a kitschy Bollywood movie he had the misfortune of watching, when we were interrupted by a young boy who appeared right next to our auto-rickshaw. He was begging for alms, a sight not uncommon in India, particularly in and around neighborhoods where people went to spend their money for leisure.

The boy evoked the appropriate amount of sympathy in me. I asked him his name while I reached around to my back pocket. “Jishu” he replied quietly.  I had nearly pulled out my wallet when Rakesh stopped me. “Don’t encourage this stuff man” he said

“It’s all part of a big racket”. He then went on to recount an article and a movie he had seen about this phenomenon. “These guys are just a small part of the entire picture” he said “They are just the lowest rung of a ladder and this pathetic form that you see is just a costume that they don for the express purpose of cheating us out of our money. These people infest strategic parts of the city from morning till evening, squatting and not doing anything particularly productive AND they get paid for it. Didn’t you see that movie?”

The movie he spoke of was one that I had watched as well. It showed a complex network and a well set hierarchy behind the “enterprise” that begging had become in India. The children, women carrying babies and disabled people we see on the street, each reported to a person who took most of the alms from them. The pathetic creatures we saw on the street were beaten down, tormented and tortured if they did not make the specific amount of money that their “supervisor” set as their target. Worse still, a supervisor could maim and mutilate a beggar when he felt that the beggar’s frail frame and stained, torn clothes were not enough to get people to sympathize and give their money away. Once the supervisor got his cut, he in turn gave nearly all of it to a faceless person who sat in a plush house doing none of the work, winning all the profits and losing all of his conscience. All these beggars got was a chance to watch a movie or eat a decent meal once in a while, if the supervisor/evil overlord felt ever so inclined.

It was quite a conundrum I was in as I pondered if I was making a completely immoral person richer. What I kept coming back to was that, his cut aside, this child would still get something. Besides, the 5 or so Rupees that I was going to shell out made no difference to me whatsoever, but the one rupee this child may get out of it certainly made a difference to him. As I lamented over all of this, the cranking of the auto-rickshaw’s engine interrupted my thoughts and almost immediately, we were off. Signals stay red only for so long. It was too late and in a few minutes I had forgotten about Jishu and by extension, the entire incident.

<< PART 2 >>

Wishful thinking


As the chauffeur pulled the Silver Grey Toyota Fortuner through the wrought iron gates into the semi-circular driveway, I hit on the power button on my iPad which automatically put it into sleep mode. The weekend had just begun.

Getting out of the car, I walked up the six odd steps to the doors which detected my entry via the RFID device embedded into my wristwatch, and automatically slid to the sides opening up into what I called the ‘footwear room’. Quickly sliding off my shoes and putting them in their rightful place, I took of my socks and threw them into the laundry chute which automatically zipped them into the washing machine located in the ‘gadgets room’ on the first floor.

Stepping on to the escalator I went up to the second floor, to my walk in closet and changed into my favorite Iron Man tee shirt and Adidas Three Stripe shorts. Picking up the latest issue of The Economist magazine which was kept on a magazine rack just outside the closet, I headed into the ‘gizmo room’ right next door where my wife S was sitting on her iMac doing her work.


Seeing me, she quickly wrapped up her tasks, and we headed to our little daughter’s room through the connecting door between the bedroom, the gizmo room and our little one’s play-area. Little R was having a ball of a time with one of her friends running up the steps and down the molded plastic slide which was bang in the center of the room. Noticing both of us walking into the room, she rushed up to her mother and engulfed her with a big hug. She knew that this officially marked the end of her playtime and that it was time for dinner.

After bidding her little friend a goodbye sealed with a promise to meet on the next day, R joined us when we went down another escalator to the dining room. The chef had already prepared dinner as per S’s specific instructions and also knew that I would be having dinner soon, already alerted by the main doors when I walked home around 10 mins ago. He had therefore added his finishing touches to all the dishes, garnished the same as per our individual preferences and had just about plated the food as well.


A hearty meal topped off with some lovely customized dessert was then followed by the three of us catching the latest animation flick on our lovely 52’ curved LED TV. Knowing that it was the beginning of the weekend, the online streaming service to which we had subscribed to ensured that we enjoyed a commercial-free HD print of the latest Pixar movie with sub-titles for the next couple of hours. And as programmed, the movie stopped at exactly those moments when we wanted to take a bio-break and grab a refill of our favorite beverages and snacks as accompaniments to the movie itself.

By the time the movie was done, little R was almost dozing off on the couch and S and me took turns of carrying her back to the bedroom on the escalator. After all, despite all the technology, there is no greater joy than putting your child to sleep on your shoulders with your bodily warmth, is there.


In case you readers were left wondering just what the hell I was rambling about in this post, today’s prompt reads “You win a contest to win a dream home. Draft the plans” and this was my version (an abridged one, mind you) of some of my most materialistic dreams for my home.

It would be interesting to read about what all of you have in mind when it comes to a dream home. Feel free to let your ‘designer instincts’ loose in the comments section below.


This post was written for Project 365 : A post a day where the aim is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

The Transformative Journey – Part 5


<< Part 4 >>

Sheela in an attempt to lighten the surrounding started talking to the teenager. She asked him his name, where he came from, whether he had any siblings at home, whether he liked playing with balls, and other questions about him.

Although the boy had been administered sedatives, he was sober enough to understand these questions and respond to them with small answers. His story was that of thousands of young boys across the state and more so those hailing from the district of Idukki.

His poor parents, unable to afford food and clothing for him, had sold him off to one of the ‘ganja’ (cannabis) cultivators who operated illegally in the hills of Idukki. The supervisor of the plantations was notorious for his violent methods of getting all these ‘bonded laborers’ to work on the fields. The boy, Lalu, had somehow managed to escape from the clutches of the supervisor and the guards and had boarded the ill-fated bus. He was enjoying his first few hours of freedom dozing away in the bus when the accident occurred.

When Kesavan asked Lalu if he would want to go back to his parents, the boy answered in the negative. He didn’t want to go back to a place where he was not welcome. Kesavan then asked the boy whether he was interested in studying to which the boy said yes. He then told the boy that once he recovered from his injuries and was fit enough to travel, he would take him to Kozhikode and enroll him in the Govt School which he supervised there.

As the conversation went on, the ambulance finally reached the nearest Govt Hospital where Lalu was wheeled away with his stretcher for the doctors to have a look at him. Kesavan and Arjun waited in the lobby for the doctors to come out and tell them as to how bad Lalu’s injuries were. When they were waiting, Arjun suddenly grabbed Kesavan’s right hand, shook it- Kesavan Sir, I am Arjun, I am a software engineer and design mobile games for a living, he said.

Kesavan shook his hand and then went on to hug Arjun- Thank you son, thank you for all that you have done for me since last night, and more importantly thank you for bringing a smile to that young boy’s face.

I know that you have taken a big first step today and I sincerely hope that this step will be the start of a wonderful new journey for you.

Arjun smiled. Somehow he knew that the old school teacher’s words were prophetic.


Three days, a journey on a rickety bus followed by a harrowing auto rickshaw ride from the bus stand to home, the first thing that Arjun did when he saw his mother was to hug her. While she was recovering from the shock of having hugged her son for the first time in almost twenty years, Arjun then went on to hug an astonished father as well who had come out to welcome him home.

Their son was finally back home again.