Onions and Tomatoes

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
"We're out of onions."

That's my wife. Forever complaining about Onions. And Garlic. And Tomatoes. And Cauliflower. And an assortment of vegetables that I didn't even know how to recognize in their uncooked state, until the day I got married.

"I'll get some in the evening."

And that's me. Forever restocking my house with Onions, and Garlic, and Tomatoes and Cauliflower and a wide assortment of vegetables I still have trouble recognizing, so that my wife can continue to cook them and feed our small but happy family.

"Daddy, I'm having trouble with this problem."

My daughter. She's all of eleven years old. It's that exact age when she stops being daddy's little girl and becomes a woman in her own right. You might think it's a little early for that, but it's not. Do you have any idea how much smarter and ahead of us, kids are these days? I mean she's already making eyes at guys a couple of years older than her.
It scares the bejesus out of me.

"Which problem?" I said, as I looked at her book.
"This one. I'm not getting the right answer."

I spent a minute looking at her solution, and pointed out where a minus should have been a plus.
"Thanks Daddy," she said, giving me a smile, and returning to the book.

Only yesterday, it seemed, she used to give me a hug and a kiss on my cheek for things like this. Now it was just "Thanks Daddy".

"If you don't get some onions quickly, we'll be eating out tonight."

My wife was forever threatening me with the "We'll have to eat out if" line. I'd begun buying vegetables by the crate, lately, to keep her off my back. But if she didn't use them soon enough, they simply went bad. It seemed to me that I just couldn't win.

"Which is not a bad idea, if you think about it," she continued, as she came up behind me and put her arms around my neck. She'd just washed her hands, and the scent of Tropical Herbs (or so the soap bottle said) wafted through my senses. She knew exactly what to do when she wanted me to agree to something. And I was putty in her hands.

"Out again?" I asked, trying to resist, as I kissed the inside of her elbow.

"We haven't eaten Chinese in a long time," she replied, kissing me on the cheek - as if I needed any more convincing.

"Mom, Dad! Get a room!"

That was one of her favorite new phrases.
"We're just showing our love for each other, sweetheart," my wife said.
And I continued, "Yes, dear, and we waited till we got married to do this." Just to make sure. My paranoia about my daughter was getting worse everyday.

My wife sat down and looked at me with an amused expression. "Liar!” it seemed to shout.
Ours might have been an arranged marriage, but we had been meeting each other for months before we got married. We'd been very much in love by the time we actually tied the knot. And we'd stayed that way.

My daughter, for her part, blushed as she continued her homework.

"Chinese?" I asked. "Wang's Kitchen or Chen Hui?"

"What's Chen Hui?" my wife asked.

"It's a new place that's opened up next to Tucci Benucch," my daughter answered. "It's supposed to be quite hep. Can we go there please, Daddy?"

My eleven-year-old considered the place ‘hep’. I thought of it as having an 'ambience'. I wondered if there was any difference.

"Chen Hui it is."

"Yay!" my daughter shouted.
My wife just smiled.

"Well, then," I said, "I'm going to have a bath."

"No!" my wife and daughter shouted together.

"You take an hour in the bathroom, Daddy!"

"Yes, and we both have to freshen up too!" my wife chimed in.

"You," I looked at my daughter, "finish your homework, or you're not going anywhere."

"And you," I said, shifting my attention to my lovely wife, "can join me if you want to."

This time, both of them blushed.

Marry Me, Please!

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
The first time I asked her to marry me was when we were six years old.

"I'll be the husband," I said, "and you can be the wife."
"No," she replied simply.
"Yes," I said.
"No," she replied again and walked off.
After a few moments, I walked off too. It’s no fun playing house alone.

The second time I asked her to marry me, was when we were fourteen. We were partners in a dance for the annual school program and I was waiting for her to come out of the dressing room. I was dressed in a black suit and bowtie. As she stepped out of the dressing room in a pink dress that came down to her knees, I took a deep breath. She looked like an angel that had just stepped down from the heavens. As we waited for the teachers to give the signal for us to get on stage, I stared at her and tried to find my voice. She caught me looking and smiled as she asked, "What are you looking at?"
"Will you marry me?" I blurted out.
Her smile turned into a grin, and a second later she burst out laughing. I didn't mind. I could see stars in her eyes. Still laughing, she took my hand and led me onto the stage.

The third time I asked her to marry me was on her sixteenth birthday. We were at a picnic with friends and the two of us were sitting by ourselves under a tree as the rest argued about which game to play next. She laughed at something someone was talking about in the distance. I heard the tinkling of bells in her voice. I plucked a daisy that was growing nearby and gave it to her as I said, "Will you be my wife?"
She blushed as she looked at the flower, and then burst out laughing again. She took the flower and ran to join the rest of the group. I followed.

The fourth time, we were eighteen. We were sitting in the cafeteria in college as she sat sipping on a glass of orange juice and telling me how beautiful the last poem she read had been. After speaking continuously for a few minutes, she stopped and said, "What happened? Why aren't you saying anything?"
I looked into her eyes and said, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
As before, she burst out laughing again and said, "You're not old enough to get married yet." And then she started talking about another poem.

The fifth time I asked her to marry me was the day of our graduation. We were both twenty-one. I got down on one knee with a red rose in my hand and said to her, "Will you, now, take me to be your husband?"
She grinned this time, and replied, "You're always in a hurry. You wanted to do your post-graduation, right?"
I shrugged, got back on my feet, and walked with her to the convocation hall.

Four years later, I had finished my post-graduation and had a job in a multinational company. We were sitting in an ice cream shop when she brought it up. "You haven't asked me to marry you in four years," she said. "What happened? Did you change your mind?" She was smiling widely.
"What do you think?" I teased.
"I think you're afraid I’ll reject you again."
"You haven't really rejected me even once, till now," I countered. "You never really said 'No'."
"I did when we were six," she pointed out.
"She remembers", I thought to myself, as I smiled at the memory.
I held out a spoon of ice cream for her to taste, and said, "Alright, so you rejected me once."
"So?" she asked as she tasted my ice cream.
"So nothing," I replied.
She rolled her eyes in silence. She was no longer smiling.
"Well?" I asked. "Do you think I've changed my mind?"
She frowned as she said, "I don't know." She looked beautiful even when she frowned.
I watched her for a few seconds and said, "Why don't you ask me to marry you this time?"
"Me?" she replied, eyes wide in surprise.
"Why?" I asked. "What's wrong with that?"
She blushed. "No," she said.
"Are you rejecting me again?" I asked.
"No, no!" she said quickly.
"So then you are saying 'Yes'?"
She stuck her tongue out at me as she realized what I was trying to do, and went back to eating her ice cream.
"Hey," I said, as I took her hand in mine. "Marry me."
She scrunched up her nose as she replied, "Are you sure?"
I'd been sure since I was six. "Yes," I said simply.
And she just smiled and nodded.

Late Night Phone Call

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
"Hello," I said, barely awake.

"Rajesh?" It was a girl's voice.

"Yes?" I replied, checking my watch for the time. Gods, it was 3:00 am!

"Are you ready?"

"No," I replied, a little confused about what I was supposed to be ready for. "Who is this?"

"Rhea. Are you still asleep?"

"Lady, it's three in the morning. Do I know you?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I think I got the wrong number."

A little irritated, I nonetheless managed to fall asleep again as soon as I put the phone down.

The next morning, I vaguely remembered the phone-call, but wondered if I had been dreaming. I checked my cell phone and there had indeed been a call at three in the morning. I thought about it. Even in my sleep, the voice had sounded nice.

That night, I felt like some mischief. So I set the alarm for three the next morning, and went to sleep. At three, I woke up and dialed the number that my cell phone had dutifully recorded in the call log.
A sleepy voice picked up the phone. “Yes?” she said.

"Rhea?" I tried not to laugh.

She sounded sleepier than I must have been the previous night.

"Rajesh here," I said. "You ready?"

"Ready for what?" She seemed to be crawling her way to consciousness.

"Are you still asleep?" I avoided the question.

"Rajesh, daddy's flight was yesterday. You're a day late."

At this point I ran out of things to say, so I said sorry and hung up.
The next day, at 3:00am, she called again.

"Hello?" I had been asleep, but from the moment I opened my eyes, I knew it would be her.

"Rajesh? Rhea here."

"Hi Rhea."

"So what are you doing?"

"Dreaming about you," I replied.

"Well I just wanted to say Good Night." I could almost see the grin on her face. Of course at that point I didn't know what she looked like, so all I saw was a Cheshire-Cat-type grin hanging in the darkness. But you get the picture.

"Good night, Rhea" I said cheerfully

The late night phone calls went on for a week. They'd be short, but fun. And then I got tired of waking up in the middle of the night everyday, so I decided to call her before I went to sleep.

"You're early" she said.

"Yes," I replied. "I have an early day tomorrow. So I thought we could have this conversation now instead of at three."

"Smart move."

"I know. Hey, what are you doing around seven tomorrow evening?" I wondered if I was moving too fast. Still, there didn't seem to be any harm in it.

"I'll be collecting my kids from school. What about you?"

My heart skipped a beat. For a few seconds, I didn't even breathe.

"Hello?" she said, to check if I was still on the phone. I could tell she was trying to suppress a giggle.

I relaxed. "I'm right here. Well, I'll be taking my grandchildren to have ice cream, at that time. I thought maybe you could get your kids, I could get my grandkids, and we'd all have ice cream together."

She paused for a second, and then said, "Sounds like a good idea."

The next day, I came home early from work, and took almost an hour getting ready. I wondered what she looked like.
We'd decided to meet at Baskin Robbins. When she'd asked me how she'd recognize me, I told her to look for an old man in a navy blue shirt. She had laughed at that. When I asked her what she'd wear, she said she hadn't decided yet.

At exactly seven, a little girl in a green dress walked into Baskin Robbins. The girl came straight to me, and said "Are you Rajesh Uncle?”
At that moment, I felt like the biggest fool on the planet. "What was I thinking?" I asked myself.
But then in came this girl in a T-shirt and slacks, who was definitely not the girl's mother. Elder sister, maybe, but no way was she a mother.

I lifted the little girl in my arms, and looked at Rhea. "You're quite the practical joker, aren't you?"

"Well, old man," she replied. "You said you'd get your grandkids along. What did you think this was? A date?" She knew she had got the better of me, and a big grin was plastered across her face.

"Oh, their parents decided this was not a good day for ice cream. So I came alone. Well, what's your name little girl?"

"My name is Priya."

"Ok, Priya, which ice-cream do you want to have today?"

She looked at Rhea and asked her, "Didi, can I have Mango ice cream?"

So Priya had Mango ice-cream with strawberry syrup, I had chocolate chip vanilla with caramel and nuts, and Rhea had Blueberry ice cream with no toppings.

We talked about how expensive school fees were getting, how it was almost impossible to get good medicine for arthritis, and the fact that there weren't enough playgrounds left for children to play in.

That night, when I called her up, I asked her, "So Priya is a cousin, is she?"

She laughed and replied, "No, not a cousin. She's the neighbour's kid."

"So you thought you needed an escort to meet me, did you?" I had been thinking about that all evening, but hadn't got a good opportunity to say it.

"Well a pretty girl has to protect herself."

"I won't argue with that." She definitely wasn't lacking in the looks department. "But did you really think a four-year-old could protect you?" I did find that amusing.

"Oh, her dad was waiting outside in the car for us all the time."

"Beautiful, intelligent, and sneaky. I like that in a woman."

"You're not too bad yourself, for an old man."

"Why, thank you. So, would you join an old man for coffee tomorrow? Without an escort?"

"Ah. A real date?"

"Only if you prefer to see it that way. I just thought an elderly man and a single mother could go share a cup of coffee."

"A date."

"And then maybe a walk on the beach?"

"Slow down, soldier!"

"So just coffee is okay then?"

"Well," she said, pausing as if to think about it, "ok."

"That's great," I said as I started breathing again. "Good night, Rhea."

"Good night, Rajesh."

I smiled to myself as I went to bed. Next time, we'd do dinner.

Atmosphere = N2 + O2 + CO2 + Various gases + Love

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
(In case you didn't get that , it means "Love is in the air")

Valentine's fever is in the air. People are either thinking about what to get their sweethearts, or talking about how Valentine's Day sucks. Usually, the former have sweethearts (or at least have specific people in mind they want to make their sweethearts), and the latter don't. Disclaimer: This is not a rule.

Me? I try my hand at fiction.

However, writer's block has recently been a bit of a problem in the recent past. So no new stories.

That being said, I do have some stuff I wrote around a year ago, that I never published for various reasons. So over the next few days, to celebrate Valentine's week (why just one day?) I'll be putting these stories up along with any new stories I can manage to pen down.

Hope you like them :)

Ash and the Mailman

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
I'm not a big follower of the Late Show with David Letterman, but hearing that Aishwarya Rai was going to be a guest on the show tonight, meant that I had to watch the show.

Not because she is the most beautiful woman in the world. She isn't. She was. 11 years ago. But that was... 11 years ago.

Not because I once had her picture as my desktop's wallpaper. I did. But that too was 11 years ago. Ok, 10.

No. That wasn't it.

I wanted to watch, because... because...because...
Ummm... Do I really have to have a reason?


So she was on the show. And Letterman was all praiseworthy of this most beautiful woman in the world, who has millions and millions and millions of fans. All over the world. And yet, is relatively unknown in the US of A.

And what did our dear "most beautiful girl in the world" have to say?
The less said about it, the better.

(Of course, in that case, I should not say anything at all, but that would be quite boring, no?)

She was better than expected. She actually caught Letterman off guard a couple of times. In a nice way.


There's always that "But" isn't there? (No, no. Single "t")

You'd think she has a personality of her own. You'd think that what the script-writers pen up, isn't all she has to rely on.

Well, you think wrong.


Resume Of A Single Guy

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani

Name: Guy, A. Single

Position applied for: Boyfriend

Previous Experience: None

And we wonder why it's so hard to get the job?

And the story goes on - The lighter side of plagiarism

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Oh, ah! New post within four days? You ok? Everything fine and dandy, I hope? No emergencies or anything announced, were there?

With lots of stuff being written about plagiarism in the blog world these days, I tend to keep my eye open for stuff about anything to do with it. So I guess it was natural for me to notice the Page protected by Copyscape button on Amit Varma's India Uncut blog. Needless to say, I thought I might want one for myself too.

So, I followed the link to the Copyscape site and found out that automatically protecting my page was a paid service (I'm a Sindhi *). I could use the site, however, to find up to ten "plagiarised" copies of any of my online work for free.

Masochist that I am, I tried the URL of Just Another Love Story. (Hey, found another one! Damn. Gimme a sec. There! Cribbed.) Most of the results I had already pulled up using google, but there were a couple I hadn't noticed before.

So, having nothing else more interesting to do, I tried the URL of my first article published online - Rants Of A Single Guy

Of the two hits it pulled up, one of the websites was an online version of Mid-Day, the Bombay afternoon tabloid. For a second, I thought "Damn! An offline version of my first article!"
Taking a look at the actual contents of the page, though, I almost burst out laughing! Maybe I've developed a sense of humour about this kind of thing, but seriously, I think it's quite funny :)

See: the link that Copyscape found

* Apparently, Sindhi's are this breed of extremely miserly Indians who try to scrounge on every paisa or cent (or other smallest denomination of the currency for the country they live in) that they can lay their hands on. My mom always says there must have been a mix up when I was born... *shrug* (Back to rant)