humour

A match made in kitchen

It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Since I am not a foodie, I don’t understand this statement. Man always likes ‘Maa-ke-hath-ka-khaana’ more, more so, after marriage. Though, of course, he is not in a position to admit it openly, for obvious reasons.

Ricardo is waiting for his wife to serve him hot, tasty rice like she always does. He just loves her for that. In fact, he married her impressed by this quality of hers. That and the fact that she was very obedient. And he could brag to his friends that his wife was so hot.

 

Four days gone and Ricardo is feeling restless. Have I rushed into marriage,  he thinks to himself. All the qualities which endeared her to him, now seem to be a bane.

She can only cook rice, however hot it might be. Zilch variety there. Yes, she is obedient,  but her obedience is only if he asks her to cook rice, not for anything else.  Yes, she is hot, but only when she is cooking rice. As soon as the rice is done, and he has had his meal, she is back to being cold and going off to sleep.

So by the time his dinner is finished, Ricardo has made his decision. He decides to divorce his wife of a full 4 days.

This story is not a figment of my imagination but a real one which took place in Indonesia recently. After it had grabbed some space in newspapers and the omnipresent social media, it was revealed that the man in Indonesia had married his rice cooker in an elaborate ceremony because of its qualities of cooking great meals for him whenever he felt like having rice, without making much noise except perhaps some whistles. But within 4 days he divorced it because it never cooked anything else. And he did all this only to grab some social media fame.

 

What ridiculous gimmicks are being resorted to nowadays, to grab likes and visibility on social media. What has life come to? And people are actually spending valuable time on writing about such ridiculous happenings in their blogs. Like me for instance… Yatindra Tawde

book review, Fiction, humour

Catch-22 – A Book Review

Book title – Catch-22

Author – Joseph Heller
Publisher – Vintage Books

No. Of pages – 570

The novel starts without much fanfare and I was unsure whether I would have the patience to read through all the 570 pages of it. But I pushed on and was I glad I did that.

The novel is a kaleidoscope of genres. If there is the silliest of humour, it is balanced by profound life lessons sprinkled throughout. The tragedy of a violent war is apparent throughout.

The scene changes skilfully from silly banter between fellow soldiers to a sudden struggle for survival.

The soldiers grapple for a semblance of sanity with death waiting around the corner. They try to live their lives, enjoying the few moments of illicit pleasure with gay abandon.

In all this mayhem of war, the author expertly captures the entire gamut of human frailties and characteristics, ranging from total avarice to total innocence.

The mentions of praise on the back cover of this bulky novel includes the following one, “Not only the best novel to come out of the war but the best novel to come out of anywhere in years”, by Nelson Algren. Though one may not agree wholeheartedly with this, but there is no doubt that every serious reader should have certainly read this one, once in his/her life.

Yatindra Tawde

 

book review, horror

Trail XIII – The Path to Perdition , a book review

Book title – Trail XIII – The Path to Perdition

Author – Various
Publisher – The Hive

The Hive are back to what they do best; frighten you out of your wits. And they are back to the ideal format, an anthology of 13 blood curdling stories. I always feel,  a compilation of 13 to 15 stories is ideal for an anthology.

Coming to the individual stories, there are quite a few which are page turners. Some of my favorites were –

 

A Legend of truth by Monica Singh – what seems like different stories of different characters are finally tied together in a crescendo of violence, after jumping different timeliness. The author has grip over her narration and never lets the story wander from it’s finale. A master story teller.

Summer Solstice by Srivalli Rekha – the author sticks to her strength, a fantasy of witches and normal people, at loggerheads with each other. And no guesses for who wins in the end. Srivalli weaves a tale which hypnotises you with unique characters and fantastical settings.

Look into my eyes by Anshu Bhojnagarwala – this story gave me the shivers every time the ghostly figure made an appearance. Something about child ghosts which gave me goosebumps. I can easily say, this is the best story by the author till date, atleast from all the stories from the author, which I have read till now.

Click Click, Bang Bang by Shankar Hosagoudar – the classic Shakespearean language, the old English setting and how the story unfolds to its gruesome finale  make it a must read. Great research by the author in churning out a masterpiece.

Mother Promise by Prachi Sharma – I had never read a story from the author before and was impressed with the way the story unfolded to its tragic climax in so few words. Another gem from the anthology.

The Dante House by Varadharajan Ramesh – Varadharajan never fails to surprise you and he succeeds with this story as well. The way the story unfolds and the twist introduced, surprises and shocks you.

Redivivus by Benjamin Wylde – the goriest and bloodiest story of this anthology, please read it on an empty stomach. Hats off to the author’s gory imagination.

Nani & the Shadows by Ell P – a good, engaging story but this time I found it a bit bland from what Ell P is usually capable of. She is capable of frightening you out of your senses but this story can be read at midnight.

The Seer by Richard Beauchamp – the international writers in this anthology are contributing excessive blood and gore and this story is as gruesome as one can imagine.

Insidious Thoughts by Angel Whelan – the author takes you through the psychological disintegration of the protagonist to its violent climax with great,  storytelling skills.

The Voice by Priya U Bajpai – a good story, it’s another one which brings down the gore as compared to some of the others in this anthology.

I would safely say, this is the best offering from The Hive till now and they really excel at frightening and thrilling the reader.

Go for it. It’s available on Amazon, Kindle as well as paperback.

Yatindra Tawde

 

 

 

Fiction

Neel Sayantani

First published on ArtoonsInn

The Queen Mother had made up her mind. Her daughter, the beautiful, almond eyed Sayantani, wouldn’t marry any mere mortal King. Though pleasantly plump, her eyes were like madhushala. Anyone who met her gaze would drown in their depths and become delirious with ecstasy. She had that effect. Yes, her daughter was fit only for the King of Celestials. Little did she know her daughter had other plans.

Princess Sayantani sat near the Palace pond contemplating on her next move. Her mother, the Queen, had been quite vocal about getting her married to the King of Celestials. Though she had nothing against him, in fact she found him truly handsome, she had lost her heart to Neel, the King of Sopara. And that too, without meeting him in person. She sat there, moving her fingers through the tranquil water, she smiled to herself as she reminisced on her long-distance romance.

 

 

“Your Majesty! All hail the Supreme Ruler”, cried the Resident Rishi, Rishi Chakrapani as he kneeled before his young King, King Neel.

King Neel who was staring into the distance, standing at the Jharokha, turned around to face his favourite Rishi, who doubled as a scientist.

“Guru Chakrapani. I have pleaded with you so many times, not to embarrassed me so, with this formal greeting every time you meet me. But you have decided to torture me. Afterall I am like your son. You can call me Neel. Anyway, what brings you here? I can see that you are all flushed and excited. Seems to me that you have made some fantastic discovery again.” King Neel smiles and gestured the Rishi to sit before him.

“You may be my son’s age, but O King, you are our Protector and Benefactor. And I am but, a common citizen, just fortunate enough to barge into your chambers without seeking permission.” Rishi Chakrapani had uttered this dialogue with the King many times before with slight variations. Then he continued.

“Yes, King Neel. I do have something exciting. You know how these small unmanned flying objects (UFO) are being used by our enemies to spy on us. Well, today we were able to capture one such UFO. And guess what we stumbled upon? It was by one of the far-off lands, the Kingdom of Nisargapatnam.”

“Kingdom of Nisargapatnam? Isn’t that the same Kingdom whose Princess is known to be an enchantress. What’s her name? Sayan…yes, Sayantani.” The King’s eyes sparkled as he said this.

“Yes, the same one, Your Highness. And finally, today you will be able to have a look at her image. Let’s go to the Karyashala.” The Rishi was brimming with excitement.

“What…but…how?”, the King was blabbering like a love-lorn teenager. And he was yet to see her image.

“The UFO was dismantled. It was decoded with great difficulty. But why am I telling you all this? Let’s rush to the karyashala.” The Rishi was insistent.

“Okay, at your service Sir”, and keeping his hand around the Rishi’s shoulder, he accompanied the Rishi to the Karyashala.

The Karyashala didn’t look like any other laboratory. Due to the extreme OCD of Rishi Chakrapani, different disciplines were divided into different sections. Thus there were different cabins for research on botany, metals, fauna, geology, etc. and each was labelled neatly. But the Rishi guided the King to the Technology section. Being the latest technological development on the bhumandala, intercepted UFO’s of various kingdoms, enemies as well as friends, occupied most of the space.

The junior Rishi standing near a workbench moved aside as soon as he sensed the presence of The King and Rishi Chakrapani. A silk cloth covered something on the bench.

Rishi Chakrapani proceeded to remove the cloth to reveal an ochre coloured UFO. The Rishi gestured the King to move forward. As soon as the King laid his eyes on the dismantled UFO, he exhaled in delight. For it displayed the image of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

“Princess Sayantani”

“Yes, Your Majesty. Princess Sayantani it is. But we have not yet been able to decode, how was this technological marvel achieved. Seems, the Rishis of Nisargapatnam are far ahead of us, in their technological prowess.”

The King was still enraptured by the beautiful image. It revealed a pleasantly plump countenance, half hidden behind waves of brown hair cascading over her face. The one eye which was visible, hinted a smile which flirted with the beholder. The King stole his gaze away from beautiful image in front of him with great difficulty.

“Rishi Chakrapani! Are you sure there is no hidden agenda in sharing this beautiful image? Why would any Kingdom want to share the image of their Princess with the world? And that too, of one so beautiful.” While the King was sounding a word of caution, his choked voice gave away his emotional state. An emotion called love.

“No, Your Majesty. We have checked the UFO for all known bugs. There is none. Though I cannot conjecture on their motives.” The Rishi was assuring his besotted King.

“Well, Rishi Chakrapani, it’s time for us to show the Rulers of Nisargapatnam, our own technological prowess, isn’t it”, smiled the King.

“Your wish, our command Sir. What do you want me to do?” The King just smiled in reply. Then he replied, “Rishi Chakrapani, I want you to…”

 

 

The Rishi at Nisargapatnam smiled. No one had been able to deduce the bug in their UFO. The listening device planted on one binding screw of the UFO had done it’s job discreetly. The slight inflections heard in King Neel’s voice had given away his besotted state. While his word of caution to Rishi Chakrapani proved that he was a responsible King who wouldn’t get swayed by emotions while ruling his Kingdom. She had found the perfect match for the Kingdom’s Princess, nee Rishi Sayantani. An invitation for the swayamvara was dispatched on that very day to the King of Sopara by the Rishi, nay, Princess Sayantani herself. An invitation alongwith the most important accessory. An accessory presented to a suitor when the decision had been made by a Princess on her would-be husband before the actual swayamvara.

 

Another invitation for the swayamvara reached the King of Celestials, courtesy the Queen of Nisargapatnam. The image of the Princess which accompanied the invitation made even the King of Celestials, to miss a heartbeat. He hadn’t seen a more beautiful girl. The Apsaras adorning his Palace would be jealous of their new queen.

 

 

The elite spy of the King of Celestials ambled towards his Palace. Whatever the nature of the news for the King of Celestials, the elite spy always remained cucumber cool. The clip-clop of his paduka announced his arrival inside the private chamber of the King of Celestials. But he loved to announced himself in his own style. He always took the name of that benevolent Celestial twice, the one who had first identified his spying capabilities.

“Welcome, O Banarada! What brings you to my humble abode?”, enquired the King of Celestials.

“O King of Celestials. My salutations to you. I have some cautionary news for you. The Noble King Neel of Sopara has also been invited to the swayamvara. He is currently the most loved King on the entire Bhumandala. And that’s not all. He is also the epitome of manliness. His chiselled features, the scar at the corner of his mouth enhances his masculinity. He is your most complete competitor, a likeness of  the Celestials themselves”, so said the spy of the Celestials.

“Bah! Celestial-like? What do you mean by chiselled features? Afterall, the King of Celestials is sitting before you. Don’t you worry. The beautiful Princess is sure to put the varmala around my neck.” boasted the King of Celestials.

“Na, na, na. Don’t be so confident, O King of Celestials. Don’t underestimate the power of a girl in love. She has already selected King Neel as the most eligible suitor. She won’t even notice your presence at the swayamvara, however handsome you may be.” And with that warning he excused himself from the presence of The King of Celestials.

The King of Celestials’s thoughts were now truly clouded with doubts. Is it really possible that any maiden would select someone else in his presence? No, it’s not possible. This had never occurred before. But…but…Banarada had never been proven wrong till now. No, I cannot allow this to happen. If she cannot be mine, she cannot be someone else’s. Even the King of Celestials fell prey to base human fallacies like jealousy sometimes.

 

 

The day of the Swayamvara dawned. The King of Celestials dressed in the newly conjured up silk attire making him look resplendent like the shining Sun. He didn’t want to leave any stone unturned to achieve his aim. He strode towards his flying chariot to make the journey to Bhumandala. Though he always preferred his Regal White Limousine, today the flying chariot was his choice.

He zoomed down towards the Swayamvara venue. As soon as the flying chariot neared ground level, he saw many other Suitors in their finest clothing and adorned in the choicest jewellery, rushing towards the same destination. Then he saw him.

King Neel. Standing ramrod erect in his speeding chariot, he appeared the epitome of masculine grace. His muscles taut, his sweating torso glistened n the morning sun. When the King of Celestials espied him hurtling across the landscape, he knew he was the one. He put his plan in place. His entire body vibrated inside the flying chariot, his face grimaced, and when things settled down, he was King Neel! And he zoomed towards the venue at faster speed.

 

 

The swayamvara hall was packed with invitees, the suitors as well as others invited to watch the celebrations and bless the couple. Finest silks fell from the walls and waved in the occasional gusts of wind. Beautiful traditional designs were made on the floor with nothing but differently coloured fresh flowers. The Suitors tried to appear cool but were certainly a bit stressed. And while everyone else was having a gala time, enjoying the delicacies on offer, an UFO had landed in the inner depths of the Palace.

Princess Sayantani had no difficulty in accessing the contents of the small UFO. As soon as she opened it, she was overcome by pleasant sensations. She knew what it was and what she was supposed to do. Soon she had used up every bit of the special contents and was ready for the swayamvara.

 

 

It was time for the event for which everyone had congregated. The Swayamvara. The Suitors were all standing near the chairs allotted to them. Princess Sayantani strode confidently through the hall, her eyes searching for only one. Her eyes met with the eyes of all Suitors and then moved on.

Suddenly her eyes fell upon the one to whom she had lost her heart. The rest of the hall was now a blur. Her pace quickened. As did her heartbeat. But as she approached him, she felt something amiss. Her steps faltered but she pulled herself ahead. Then she saw him. Again. Just a few yards ahead of King Neel. Another King Neel? An imposter? But…but how was this possible? Still she continued to walk. As she walked further, her confidence returned as she felt the attraction irresistible.

She crossed the smiling, first King Neel, reached the second one, and in one swift, graceful movement she had placed the varmala around him. Not a nerve twitched on the face of the first King Neel. The hall was stunned. Why were there two King Neels’? And who among them was the imposter? The one who had been ignored or the one who now stood beside the Princess. The Princess appeared sure of her choice.

A gasp went around the hall, as the first King Neel strode out of the hall in quick strides, perhaps wanting to avoid the gaze of the entire hall, which he felt was only pitying him.

 

The wedding between the made for each other couple was celebrated for the next 2 days by the entire Kingdom of Nisargapatnam and their guests while the Queen sulked. A wedding helped on its way in no small measure by the exchange of pheromones hitching a ride on the UFO’s and the technological expertise of two ancient Indian Kingdoms.

 

 

The King of Celestials is in a sullen mood. But he gloats. He has made all arrangements to make hell out of a married couple’s life. A couple whose love triumphed over all his desperate shenanigans. And someone must repent for that, isn’t it?

 

 

Glossary :

Neel Sayantani – influenced by the story of Nal-Damayanti, I hope not to have made a mess out of it

Madhushala – a place for getting drunk

Sopara – a Kingdom in ancient India

Nisargapatnam – another Kingdom in ancient India?

Rishi – a learned elder (scientist?) in ancient india

Jharokha – a window

Small UFO – means a drone for this story

Karyashala – a laboratory

OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Bhumandala – Earth

Apsaras – celestial nymphets

Paduka – footwear

Varmala – a flower garland

humour

Aliens Indeed

 

The cute fellows waddle across the snow in their funny walk. They are Romeo and Juliet. If one didn’t know better, you would mistake them for lawyers in their black coats. Well not really. The lawyers don’t look cute from any angle. Is that a politically incorrect statement? I don’t know.

T०he two of them serenade each other, Juliet smiling coyly at Romeo. Suddenly Adam remembers, or rather his overworked intestines remember that he has had a bit too much to eat and he feels the sudden urge. Giving a constipated smile to Eve, Adam excuses himself, finds his lonely spot and relieves himself. He is done and dusted but here’s where the dominant species called a Human makes his appearance. 

He takes a sample of the droppings and Lo and Behold. He has found traces of a chemical which has extra-terrestrial origins. A chemical known as Phosphine.

And where is Phosphine mainly found? It is found on the planet Venus. Or more correctly, it is found in the layers of gas surrounding the planet Venus.

Now, the Humans speculate that, since the droppings are of Penguins, the Romeo and Juliet of our story, the Penguins must be aliens.

So friends, it was a myth that Women are from Venus. It was the Penguins all along.

 

Yatindra Tawde

Image courtesy- unsplash.com and Paul Carroll

book review

To kill a Mockingbird

 

Author – Harper Lee
Publisher – Arrow Books, The Random House

No. Of pages – 309

The children, Scout Finch and Jem Fincher and their creative friend, Dill have loads of fun and suddenly one is sucked into their lives. They enjoy themselves walking to and from the school, and you recall your own childhood. They make fun of their teachers and have their petty fights among themselves. While Jem progresses from a naughty boy to an early teen trying to show maturity, Scout, his younger sister continues to be her feisty self. In fact, she is the protagonist and the entire story unfolds from her point of view.

The denizens of Maycomb, where they live with their Lawyer Father, Atticus, go about their daily lives and one gets a glimpse of America in the 30’s. Or at least, a town in America in the 30’s. Or, the lives of a people in a town in America in the 30’s. It is a town in Southern America and an undercurrent of racism runs through the entire novel, some characters in the story for it while many against. But the children’s innocent life is always in the foreground. And you never realize that Harper Lee has actually dwelled upon the principles of humanity itself by tackling the serious topic of racism in the most subtle manner while you are charmed by the spunky and guileless children.

What stays with you, long after you have finished the novel, is the fact that Harper Lee has conjured up a mind grabbing story using humour and simple language.

Yatindra Tawde

 

humour

The Instrumentals

The atmosphere was electric. The orchestra had reached its crescendo. It was a potpourri of the different musical instruments playing in close coordination. There was the tabla maestro going tad-kitta-dha in a staccato rhythm. Giving him company was the sitar player with his tiaon-tiaon causing cramps in his arms. Competing against him was the guitar player, who had added a metallic tinge to his instrument. The flute player added the calming notes. But he was almost drowned out by the drums who were in majority. The players who had opted for peaceful instruments like the harp and the piano were overshadowed by the violins, trumpets and saxophones. And in all this, the poor traffic police was at his wits end, though he tried to play his part as the Conductor in earnest.

You would think, Where did that last statement come from, out of the blue? What has a traffic police got to do in an orchestra? Well, this may soon be the case in India, if what I read today in the newspapers, comes true. The traffic jams across the Indian cities would see such scenarios on a regular basis. For there is a proposal from the authorities to make the vehicle horns sound like different musical instruments.

The day is not far when a different kind of talent hunt is launched on OTT platforms in India for car horn orchestras.

Yatindra Tawde

Photo – by Mario LA Pergola on unsplash.com

Fiction, humour

The Master Piledriver

First posted at ArtoonsInn. The writing prompt had five distinct words which had to be incorporated into a story which I attempted…

Abhay  cautioned his friend, “Shhh, Rakesh…here comes The Master. Stand up, bow and then kneel. Remember, you have to stay on your knees for the entire session.”

“I know, I know. You don’t have to remind me. Kneeling on my knees for so long would be torturous. But I now ready to do anything for curing my piles. I am just too wabbit. I can most certainly exchange a few hours of pain in my knees with the pain in my…”, Rakesh whispered.

“Shhh…no bad words please. The Master is capable of curing all ailments of his true disciples. One can feel the Aura as soon as he makes an entry into the room. Don’t you feel it?”, Abhay said.

“Yes, yes. Whatever you say. But what is the quid pro quo?”, asked Rakesh.

“Now what is that, Rakesh. You do have a penchant for talking in riddles. Always flaunting your elite upbringing  aren’t you?”, Abhay asked sarcastically.

“OK, let me put it bluntly for you my friend. What is The Master expecting in return for curing me? He must want or seek something,  isn’t it? I am surprised he doesn’t take any donations from his disciples”, Rakesh wondered loudly.

“The Master is the most enlightened being in this entire Firmament. This is his lila. This world is his stage and we are the players. Be patient.”, Abhay admonished his friend.

“Means? Like a drama? What are we supposed to do? I can’t act, damn it. Let’s get out of here, Abhay. Enough of spirituality for me. I will again meet the Doctor. A different one perhaps but not this, please”, uttered a panicky Rakesh.

“I said, be patient. Your impatience is now getting on my nerves. You will not be required to act in a drama. No one knows what The Master will come up with. Let’s wait and watch”, Abhay comforted his friend.

“Now what are these people bringing? What are those shiny things? Oh my God. Swords! Is it allowed?”, asked a perspiring Rakesh.

“Umm…seems to be so. Oh no, I think these are machetes”, Abhay enlightened.

Whatever man. They look too sharp. What will The Master make us do now? Are we supposed to duel with each other? Don’t swing too hard at me Abhay, someone might get hurt”, a visibly concerned Rakesh blurted.

“You and your imagination. I would never have brought you here but you were insistent. Now please keep your nerves and sit tight”, Abhay admonished his friend.

“I am sitting tight since long. Oh, it’s pains so much, I have to sit tight. And why are these attendants keeping the machetes with the edge up, on the floor? What are they going to do now? And why doesn’t The Master speak? Is he on Maun Vrat?”, Rakesh rattled on.

“Shh…look, The Master has opened his eyes. That means he is ready to speak. Please concentrate now. Look at that miracle, his attendants are walking on the matchete edge. Wow!”, a truly Mesmerized Abhay spoke to himself.

“Look, The Master is watching everyone. Be prepared, he will ask anyone randomly. You might be the lucky one”, Abhay continued.

“Yes, vatsa. What ails you? Whatever it is, please share your troubles with me. Trust me. And you won’t be disappointed”, so spake The Master finally.

“Pssst…Rakesh, it’s you he is asking.  Oh, you are so blessed.”

“Master, I suffer from piles. And it pains; I am not able to sit for long.” Rakesh was blunt and to the point.

“Come my friend. Come near me. While coming, please do walk on this pathway. Just like you saw my attendants do. Assure you that you will forget your piles suffering in a jiffy”, said The Master with a beatific smile.

“Whaat? What do you want me to do? This is impossible. Abhay! You be happy with this nonsense. I am not going to walk on blades to cure my piles. I am going…”, thundered a flabbergasted Rakesh.

“But…but, Rakesh. Please wait.  Don’t insult The Master thus. Wait…I said wait”, cried Abhay.

 

humour, science

An Egg, 1000 year old

The first thought that came to my mind, when I read about it is, ‘Would the chick hatched out of a thousand year egg be 1000 year old?’ Such profound thoughts do cross my mind, once in a while.

Recently the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a fully intact egg from 1000 years ago during excavation at a town named Yavne. But how did it manage this era defining journey of 1000 years. Did it travel by a time machine? Well, there was no such adventure. The archeologists say that the reason for it being so perfectly preserved is that it had made a soft landing. It was pillowed in soft human poop inside a 1000 year cesspit. How it managed to end up there, in the first place, is not yet known.

Surprisingly they were also able to recover some yolk, which has been preserved for DNA analysis in future. I can imagine some chicks and cocks flaring their feathers in anticipation of their unborn ancestor. The human cesspit does have its uses, though a trifle smelly.

Yatindra Tawde