55F: The Ordeal


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He had been hanging there for half an hour now with death hovering at his feet. Clinging for dear life, he and the poor souls around him had brought this upon themselves. The ‘Master’ emerged, ceremoniously throwing paper bits at their faces, who finally granted them their freedom after announcing – “Final stop… TNagar bus-stand…”

-x-

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55F: The Consent


He couldn’t do it. What would she think of him? Years of love and trust could be destroyed by a piece of paper. But then it was ‘their’ order and he had no choice. He fought his fears, wiped off the nervous sweat, and finally approached her.

“Mom..”

“Can you sign my School Progress-Report?”

-x-

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Aapis Aapis – 7: Vacation Plans


Previous Episodes 1234 | 5 | 6

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Once Upon A Time…


Kids

Once upon a time…

You hated being called a kid, but everyone loved you for that.

Play time was outside the house.

TV time was on Wednesdays and Fridays to watch Chitrahaar.

You only got to watch cartoons on Doordarshan on Sunday morning.

You loved to tear the blue inland letters for your grandparents, and prided yourself in doing it clean.

You could do absolutely anything, for absolutely anything that tasted sweet.

Getting to sit behind Dad, in the back seat of a scooter, was nothing less than a privilege.

Two milk powder tins, connected with a thread, was the coolest phone you knew.

Getting to watch a movie after 10 in the night was something to brag about to your friends for months.

The only remote controlled vehicle you had, was called a ‘Kite’.

Your biggest fights were with your brother/sister.

The biggest fights you fought, were for your brother/sister.

You were proud to say that you wanted to be a Police Officer.

Sleep was not a problem and you slept like a log whenever you wanted to.

Back aches and muscle pains were only after wrestling the kid from the nearby colony who broke your cricket bat.

At birthday parties, you ate more icing than cake.

You hated shopping for clothes.

your handheld video game, was filled with water and had small plastic balls that had to be put into baskets, by pressing a small button which pumped air.

Mithun Chakraborthy and Govinda were your favorite actors.

You did not care who the actress was.

You believed in Magic.

You believed in Ghosts.

You thought the old, night watchman of the nearby bungalow was one.

You hated Doctors.

You wanted window seats in absolutely any form of transportation you travelled in.

Travelling in an airplane was a once in a lifetime dream.

You saved every paise you could get, to buy a 50 paise chewing gum and collected the small thumbsize card inside them.

A lady teacher, no matter how old she was, was called ‘Miss’.

You hated your Maths Miss.

The best special effects you knew, were in Ramayan or Mahabharat on Doordarshan on Sunday.

There was a TV called Solidaire.

Reality shows were silly dances and skits done in school during a function, or in your colony during the New Year’s eve.

You could crash your cycle with a thud between the legs of your neighbor Uncle, and still be called for Dinner at their home.

You could get away with absolutely anything naughty.

You thought that sharpening a pencil without breaking the shaving was an art.

The only meetings you attended was to decide who would go an fetch the ball that landed at that ever-angry Aunty’s house.

An emergency was when that ball would break her glass window.

The only time you wanted money was when your friends were collecting 1 Rupee each for buying a new ball.

Grown-ups, apart from parents and teachers were of 2 types – Uncles/Aunties, Thatha/Paati-s (Dada/Dadi-s).

You looked at grown-ups and wanted to be one as early as possible.

You grew up and realized what an idiot you were to wish for something like that, and spent Children’s Day writing or reading something like this…

HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY

GrowingUp

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Short Story: Through Thick and Thin


Babies haven’t any hair:
Old men’s heads are just as bare;
From the cradle to the grave
Lies a haircut and a shave.
 – Samuel Goodman Hoffenstein

 Stages of Hair

Nakul and I are not too different.

We have been friends forever. And we’ve been forever obsessed with our hair.

It all started in Primary school, when the blue eyed Aarthi told both of us how much she liked our hair and how nice it smelled. Our families did not realize that there was something wrong, until Dad’s aftershave, Mom’s skin lotion, the expensive perfume that was gifted for their wedding, started disappearing mysteriously. Nakul’s mom once even complained of losing the Phenol bottle from their bathroom. It was only when my mother broke 3 combs while combing my hair, and Nakul’s mother found his head smelling like the toilet, that they realized that something was wrong. Of course some violence at home ensured that we were back to our normal self, and Aarthi went on to like the tonsured Prabhu. But then, that was the start of a lifelong obsession.

I hated taking a shower as I was scared, I would wash off my hair. My mother, a very qualified 5th Grade Science teacher, educated me that it was common for us to lose hair every day. I knew how dumb the Class 5 guys of my school were and hence did not trust her at all. Nakul told me that he would collect all the hair he lost and then ‘re-insert’ them back. I tried it too, but it was too difficult to keep the head still or risk the inserted hair falling off. I ditched the idea and decided to stop combing my hair completely.

There were two things that I absolutely hated as a kid. One was the vacation trips to Tirupathi, and monthly haircuts. I had nothing against God, trust me. Considering the daily prayers I chanted to keep my mane strong, dense and healthy, I had the utmost respect for the almighty. But I cringed at the thought of offering hair to God. I considered it as evil as sacrificing animals in the name of God. I tried fighting off the trip, but then parents are parents. Every year, for 2 months after the vacation, I would wear a new, super cool cap that an Uncle had bought me from ‘Foreign’. Nakul would vouch for me every time and make the kids feel as if I was cool, even though he knew that the most distant relative I ever had was working in a bank in Bangalore. But then, what are friends for? As if this wasn’t enough punishment once a year, every month I was duly forced into the Barber shop down the street. Sasi Anna was only just learning the ropes from his father there, and Nakul and I were his favorite ‘lab rats’. But then with the years, the three of us grew very close to each other, and in our early teens, we became very very choosy with the way we wanted our hair cut. In fact, we became sort of the in house experts as far as hair style was concerned, and Sasi Anna’s customers began seeking our suggestions. We learnt a bit of the trade too, and once, I even tried cutting my Dad’s hair. That it had serious repercussions, is another story altogether.

Also, I hated my Dad… Seriously. He was definitely the most greatest father any boy could have growing up and my most trusted friend after Nakul. But then his receding hairline kept rubbing it in, that hair loss was hereditary in my family. Every time, he would comb over those few strands of mane to cover the barren patch over his forehead, tears would roll down my eyes watching my future laugh at me. The Autumn of my crown, wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. I also realized later that Appa was as angry with his Dad because of the very same thing. The bald portraits of grand old men hanging in the hall was a testament that the men in my family were blessed with hair loss. And that’s when I decided to become a genetic scientist and find a permanent cure for hair loss, and save the men of this world from insanity.

Sadly the world then taught me, that having an ambition alone doesn’t really help unless you have the brains for it. Nakul was no Einstein either. Thus sitting in the last bench of our class in the Computer Science building, we pursued the 3 year Bachelor of Science course for 5 years. We were the cool dudes of our college. Our silky black, shoulder length flowing mane was the talk of the campus. Our HOD loved our hair so much that he would run his fingers through them, grab them and drag us out of the class, every day, for no reason at all. We hated him for it, but then that’s what a college kid is supposed to do. We wore tight, black t-shirts, cool shades, and were practically Rockstars.

Everything was cool until that day in the theater when, a friendly neighborhood Romeo, sitting behind Nakul tried to run his fingers through his hair, mistaking ‘him’ to be a ‘her’, only for Nakul to turn back and give him a heart attack. Not just the Romeo, the girls in the college loved us too. It kind of got a little strange, when we realized that we were beginning to be surrounded by them much more than we really liked. It reached a new low when this first year girl walked up to me and asked in full public view of the entire male population of the college for any tips to keep hair strong and shiny. As flattering as that short conversation was, it also bordered on ‘total damage’ to our Guy ego. Nakul who stood a few steps away from this incident, apparently, bunked the next 2 hours to run off to the Barber Shop. Sasi Anna told me later, that he cried as much as I did when I went there in the evening for the same reason.

After college, I began to work in a small company that didn’t pay too handsomely as some of the other ones did. The work was equally less too, so I didn’t really mind. “Less tension, less hairloss” was what I cited as a reason when somebody questioned my choice of job. That I couldn’t clear any of the interviews in the other big companies was strictly between Nakul, Dad, the old bald interviewers and Me. 🙂 Nakul fared well in this aspect though and landed a job in an MNC with a handsome pay. I was happy for him. Happy that there was someone now who could sponsor those costly hair lotions for me. Working around serious 30 somethings at work, who were just getting started with the fall season of their heads, can be a terrifying experience, you see.

And then slowly, what we had dreaded began happening. It was in no way instant, but hit us slowly like age. In fact it was exactly that – age.

Don’t get me wrong, but both of us were not exactly, what you’d call old. Creeping up on the wrong side of 20’s this was when our families tossed the dreaded ‘M’-word around. Photos were requested, and I went deep into research to find out the angle of the photo that showed the most amount of hair on my head. I honestly felt it odd that my parents screamed, when I gave them a photo of me in a helmet on my bike.

Ah Helmet… Us and that wretched thing go back a long way too. As with any normal guys, we also had the best bikes that we could emotionally blackmail our parents into buying for us, as soon as we entered college. Little did we realize, that with great power, came a stupid responsibility. Helmets… My parents wouldn’t let me touch the bike without a helmet. But there was this sinister, urban legend about the helmets that scared us out of our skins. Apparently there was this powerful curse that anyone wearing a helmet would lose hair faster than you could say ‘aiyayoo’. Just to please Mom and Dad, I would wear one till I left the gates of the apartment, after which it would proudly sit on the fuel tank. I knew it wasn’t safe to drive without a helmet, but I never crossed 45kmph in the city traffic. I was scared, the wind and pollution would blow off my hair. 🙂

But then, one fine day, it became a law to wear a helmet. Nakul and I had this thing for challenging the rules, and we were promptly stopped by this ‘abdominally unchallenged’ traffic cop near the Mount Road signal. It would have been easy if we had just nodded to the sermon administered on road safety and importance of helmets, and paid the 500 Rupees fees for it, but no… As soon as the cop took off his cap and advised us that life was more important than hair, Nakul winced his eyes, put on his shades, looked at the shining second Sun before us and said as sarcastically as humanly possible – “Oh yeah, you would know, won’t you…”. 2 hours and 2000 Rupees later, we were still not convinced that we were wrong. At least we did not land in the jail. 🙂

And as time passed, life moved on, barren patches of experience began dotting the lush thicket of youth, and we began to accept the changes. I married Lakshmi and settled down in Chennai. Nakul on the other hand moved to London with Suja. We kept in touch with each other on Facebook, and rejoiced in watching photos of each other seeing who had more hair. Gradually, a good ‘hair day’ became as simple as having enough strands on the head that day.

And after a good three years he landed in Chennai. We decided we will meet at the beach, our regular hang out. I drove in to the parking lot, helmet and all, checked the hair and marched to meet someone who had seen through the thick and thin with me. Nakul stepped out of the car looking dapper and with much more hair than I expected. We shook hands, grabbed a coffee from the nearby stall and walked towards the beach. 3 years was a long time, and there was way too much to talk. It was a delight to again be hanging out like a bunch of teenagers. Friendship was in the air.

And then, without warning, a strong gust of ‘unfriendly’ wind blew.

Few minutes later, after we fetched our ‘stuff’ from the sand that the cruel wind had knocked down, we looked sheepishly at each other. We were silent for a while and then laughed our hearts out. No, Nakul and I weren’t too different at all.

I don’t consider myself bald, I’m just taller than my hair.
 – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

-x-

Fly Away Hair

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The Lamp Post on the 21st Street


The Lamp Post on the 21st Street

Braving the World, showing time the way,
Watching over them all like a Sheriff on beat.
The provenance of light in this bustling turf,
I am the Lamp Post on the 21st Street.

Countless winters, I’ve seen pass by me,
I’ve beheld this land through a well lit flame.
A thousand moons ago they set me here first,
I was similar to others, but I wasn’t the same.

Lined up in splendid array, my brothers and Me,
We guarded the nights with a twinkle in our eyes.
Forged out of the finest metals, we stood tall,
But time whithered most of us to our sad demise.

But I’ve stood through it as I saw the others fall,
Some crumbling to rust, some being uprooted out,
To make way for the future we were renounced to scrap,
Tucked away in a corner, lucky I wasn’t in progress’ route.

I’ve seen this prized land changing hands amongst kings,
I’ve seen tyranny, I’ve seen blood color my feet red.
Cries for freedom replaced by songs of incessant joy,
I’ve been the hub of festivities when the tyrants fled.

The winds of change have swept scars on my form,
The sands of time have furrowed a part of me to rust.
My quaint little lane is now the center of a Street,
This mean new city now bathes me in slime and dust.

The flame is gone, it’s replaced by bulbs instead,
The dusty paths of past are now graves under black tar.
Mortals walk past me with burden of a new bad world.
The only things lingering are memories and the night stars.

It isn’t all that bad, life yet survives around me,
Happy little street urchins play under me without fret.
Broken hearts still lean on me finding solace in my shadows.
Seeking the light of love perhaps, in my dark silhouette.

My rich, black coat, has been reduced to crumbs,
Love stories scribbled on the canvas of my trunk.
Packs of street dogs mark their territory around me.
I’m covered with banners notices and every other junk.

Once in four years when something important happens,
A few people hurry up to clean me and hide my blots.
I get cleaned, decked up with a fresh coat of black,
One day of indulgence after four tainted years of rot.

But I’ve survived so long, and will survive again,
Standing tall and watching life mill around me.
Watching the poor souls going about their chores.
Never realizing the wonderful life I’ve once seen.

Braving the World, showing time the way,
Watching over them all like a Sheriff on beat.
The provenance of light in this bustling turf,
I am the Lamp Post on the 21st Street.

-X-

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Breathtaker


Tired of tired fingers, turning its pages again.
An old, open novel, fanned down on my chest in disdain,
As tired eyes, sought oasis in the desert of my languor,
I scoured the world, through the halved window of my train.

Ten and two hours’d tired me, yet I had more time to kill.
Wrapped up tight in stolidity to cheat the winter chill.
And then it came and hit me, like a fresh breath of fragrant air.
In the melee of a moving train, time seemed to stop still.

A thing of beauty is joy for ever, odists say.
I gasped for words to describe elegance walking my way.
An Angel in Blue, a creature of stupendous perfection,
Any eulogy of her heavenly beauty, seemed a lame cliche.

Like clear sparkling water, that rushes down a splendid ravine,
Like a new tender leaf swaying in the breeze of God’s design.
She came and sat herself on that vacant seat before me
No Earthly synonym of beauty could match her form divine.

My tired, slouching body, found an excuse to sit up straight.
The reason of my existence, suddenly seemed to fall in place.
Like the bright blue moon, veiled behind the dark clouds of night.
My heart skipped a few beats when her dark locks fell over her face.

Day turned to night, and then night turned back to day.
I stayed a silent admirer, but not a word did she say.
She undesigned alluring gaze made me weak at the knees.
God’d been unfair to her, He must’ve took ages to make her this way.

And then like how she’d come, she was gone in a flash.
Feeling her way through the compartment, smiling, holding her father’s hands.
I stood there shocked, muted, I wanted so much to say.
She’d left her Braille books behind, but she’d taken my breath away.

-X-

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Promises…


KING This post is published as an entry for the KING AND QUEEN OF 55F CONTEST – The first ever unique, challenge for the coveted title in micro fiction category. To catch the crowning moments and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

—x—

Promise 1

Hey Beautiful…” he winked at her. She just couldn’t help smiling.
Those beautiful dimples of hers, behind that careless lock of hair caressing her face could make any guy fall in love. Sunil was no exception.
Do you love me?” she asked.
More than my life, Aarthi…” he promised with a peck on her cheeks.

—x—

Promise 3

Time had moved on, and so had Sunil.
Hey Gorgeous…” he winked at her. She just couldn’t help smiling.
You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen” he hugged her tight.
She smiled shyly and asked him, “Do you love me?
More than my life, Shrishti…” he promised with a peck on her cheeks.

—x—

Promise 2

It was 1 AM when the Doctor met Sunil.
We did everything we could, but the bleeding wouldn’t stop.
Aarthi was going to die.” he was told.
She held his hands, tears in her eyes, and made him promise.
He was going to love their new born more than his life.
They named her – Shrishti…

—x—

 

—-

P.S: This post was judged as the top post in the contest, and has helped crown Yours Truly, as the King of 55F. 😉

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Up & Above


KING This post is published as an entry for the KING AND QUEEN OF 55F CONTEST – The first ever unique, challenge for the coveted title in micro fiction category. To catch the crowning moments and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

—x—

Up & Above

Yayyy… They shouted, trying to match the thundering roar above them…

Kids clapped their hands in glee as they saw the smoke making all strange shapes like a careless child’s crayon on a blue canvas. “Isn’t it beautiful?” a few eager mom’s asked their awestruck toddlers, who just could not stop watching them and nodding.

—x—

Kids screamed for their lives, while their mothers tried to find them a safe harbor. With hope in their heart and a prayer on their lips, they just hoped that this wouldn’t be that rain of fire that was to burn them alive.

Vrooom… They thundered past overhead like bullets piercing the blue sky…

—x—

Yayyy… They shouted, trying to match the thundering roar above them…

The military jets zipped past the home air-space much to the delight of people waving from below.

They entered enemy territory and had to bomb a target, near a civilian colony.

Vrooom… They thundered past like bullets piercing the blue sky…

It was War…

—x—

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Short Story: Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani


Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani

 

Mohan sat there watching the coy Jaya listen to him. She was beautiful, smart and very intelligent. He… was no match for her. Their parents had tried to fix this alliance. He liked her. Marrying him wouldn’t have killed her either. So it was almost finalized. Everything was fine… Until…

Jaya shook her head… Mohan clutched his… His world collapsed… Yet again…

A lot of muted conversations, faked smiles, and ‘head-shakes’ later, Lakshmiammal broke the silence and uttered a very ‘HR interviewer’-ish line.

“We will get back to you later…”

That was the third time this had happened with Mohan and Lakshmi Aunty was clearly worried about her only, 30-and-showing-no-signs-of-getting-married, son…

And all Mohan had asked Jaya was “Do you know cooking?”

Lakshmi Aunty almost cried on the way back in the Car. Mohan was miffed with her. Despite having told his mother a zillion times she had looked up a girl who didn’t satisfy his preliminary requisites. She looked beautiful, was from a rich, well to do family, worked in a bank, and earned a decent salary. But it just didn’t matter anymore. Boiling water in an induction stove was perhaps the only thing that Jaya had done related to cooking. If she didn’t know cooking, how on earth, or heaven or hell, could she make him what made his world go round – Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani. “Loosa ma nee?” was the best way he could sum it up to his mother at that instance.

Mohan and Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani go back a long way. He and that seraphic plate of dry, oily rice with a heavy helping of spicy chicken pieces, shared such a deep bond that nobody could explain. He had grown up hating veggies like all other kids. But as he grew, the ‘veggie-hater’ kid in him refused to. While kids his age would crave for chocolates and ice creams, Mohan would crave for a ‘leg-piece’ in his Biriyani. Chicken became his favorite animal, and he showed his love by doing what he did best to them, devouring them every weekend. As Ravi Shastri once said about Sachin’s batting, Mohan was sent into this world for only one thing. To savour and devour the best tasting Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani. He loved Chicken Biriyani so much, that his friends swore that he had onion Raitha running in his veins instead of blood.

His mother wanted to see him married off. After Mohan’s father passed away, he was the only thing that meant the world to her. She wanted to see her only child settled in life. Also making Chicken Biriyani this regularly, wasn’t too easy you see. 🙂 She had tried her best to find a suitable girl to ‘outsource’ this off. The best alliances were looked up, photos exchanged, horoscopes matched, and sifted through proposals until she discovered Meera, a very traditional South Indian girl. She had double checked if she knew how to make Biriyani and only then had called on them at their home. Mohan was excited, but 5 minutes later, he walked out disgruntled. It turned out, that she could only make vegetable Biriyani, as Meera was a vegetarian. Mohan dropped the idea of marrying her, faster than KKR dropped Ganguly in IPL4.

Aarthi was a bit different. She knew cooking and made good Chicken Biriyani. It seemed a match made in heaven. But Mohan rejected her after she wanted an undertaking from him, that she would want an equal helping of all Biriyani that she cooked, and any ‘leg-piece’ was to be equally shared between them. “The Government gives 30% only and you want 50?” he had frowned at her before walking out.

Jaya, was someone Mohan had known in school. She used to be his neighbor and they had studied together till 8th grade, where she used to bring him delicious Biriyani for lunch from home on Wednesdays. So when Lakshmi Aunty told him about her, he was assuming that she would have picked up some skills from her mother. But then, she apparently had spent a good deal of time in the US, and had no exposure to cooking at all. “How people change?” he wondered to himself as he drove back in his car that day. His mother tried to convince him that she could teach her how to cook Chicken Biriyani over the phone, as she had done to many other people. Mohan was just too distraught to listen.

This ordeal with Women had plagued Mohan’s life forever. College wasn’t too kind to him either. Oh yeah, he had his sweetheart in College. But the relationship broke down before it took off after the girl became a Vegetarian. And he had a thing for Vegetarians you see.

“No meat? What do you mean no meat?” He had argued with a friend in college. He had this theory that the world was coming to an end, thanks to Vegetarians.

“You guys are disturbing nature’s food cycle man.” he had claimed. “If the top of the food chain ignores what’s under it, there would be no more a pyramid.” He made it sound so convincing that he had Parthu, his college roomie, ‘convert’ from a ‘yuck omelette!’ guy to a ‘what no omelette?’ guy. Left to him, he would have published a paper on how vegetarianism leads to Global Warming, and have Dr.Manmohan Singh appoint an Anti-Vegetarianism Task Force in the country. He was, what his college mates called, ‘Menaka Gandhi’s Worst Nightmare’.

The Biriyani mania continued to office, and his love for the food became folklore. He became the ‘Customer of the Week/Month/Year’ at his Office Cafeteria’s Biriyani stall. On successful completion of the project, his team lead, Prabhu had promised him a double plate of Chicken Biriyani at his house and Mohan’s Uncle just had to keep his son’s wedding on that date. Mohan had to decide between a plate of Biriyani and his Cousin, and he immediately had decided on Biriyani, before his mother threatened to sever all ties with him if he didn’t make it to the wedding. And so while all his project mates were at Prabhu’s house, gorging on a delicious mountain of Biriyani, Mohan had to sit at the wedding eating Sambar rice and potato fry.

He had now rejected 3 girls, and that wasn’t a good sign. His time was running fast and his hair-line receeding faster. Now rejections do also take a toll on the groom’s prospect as well. No girl’s father wanted to have his girl be rejected by a ‘Biriyani junkie’. The proposals almost trickled down to absolute zero. Lakshmi Aunty used every wedding, reception and Social gathering to do some bride hunting for her son. When she found a girl who could cook, her horoscope did not match. Whenever the horoscope matched, the girl’s height didn’t. When the height did, the weight didn’t. It had reached a point when Lakshmi Aunty had almost resigned to the fate that she would have to cook her Bachelor-for-life son Biriyani for life, when Mala happened…

Mala was her close friend’s daughter, who had moved in to Chennai from Hyderabad recently, and that was the first thing that grabbed Lakshmi Aunty’s attention. She was very beautiful, had studied Engineering in Hyderabad and with her father’s retirement, had decided to come back and settle down in Chennai. Aunty just hoped that she had bought with her some of the spicy, culinary skills from their Telugu speaking neighbors. She made a few calls, made some checks, and one fine Sunday morning, dragged a very reluctant Mohan to Mala’s place at Porur. After the customary greetings and snacks, Mala and Mohan were left alone to strike a conversation and ‘know each other’. Lakshmi Aunty uttered a zillion silent prayers.

Now this wasn’t new to Mohan and he usually knew how the events would fan out. Like a seasoned recruiter of an IT company, he had now the expertise to size up the person in front of him. He had made it a habit of showing no remorse in the questions that he asked her. But just a fleeting look at Mala changed all that.

She was beautiful, smart and very intelligent. He… was no match for her.

He was tempted to forget this interview and say ‘Yes’ at that very instance. But then, his ‘Biriyani-eating’ counter-ego, kicked in. His previous three outings had taught him good. He decided to tone it down just a bit.

“So Mala, do you cook?” he asked gently. His fingers crossed, almost on the verge of getting dislocated.

Mala smiled.

“Cooking… you know…” Mohan motioned his hands as if mixing a big pot of steaming Biriyani…

Mala took her time, and then moved her head in all directions…

Mohan sat there fixed in anticipation, and asked “Nodding is good… But is that a yes or a no?”

“Yes!” she smiled almost immediately.

“Stage 1 cleared.” he told himself and continued “And are you a vegetarian?” he popped his next question.

“Only on Thursdays” Mala replied.

“I can live with that” a desperate Mohan consoled himself, before Mala added “But I have no problem cooking it whenever you want” she smiled.

“Oh my dear Angel” Mohan was ecstatic, this might just work. But he had one more question.

“So… What do you…” Mala interrupted Mohan before he could complete his question.

“Appa Amma say I make the best Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani they have ever tasted. We were in Hyderabad you know. I learnt it there. Do you like Chicken Biriyani?” she asked…

And so, like Dosa and coconut Chutney, Biriyani and Raitha, Rotis and Dal, Mohan knew instantly that they were just made for each other…

“There is a God…” Mohan looked at the heavens, tears in his eyes and uttered, “Thank You.”

As Mohan walked back to that crowd that sat in the living room to express his whole-hearted approval of the match, and perhaps even check if they would serve Biriyani for lunch, Mala took out her mobile, went to Contacts Manager, renamed the contact ‘Lakshhmi Aunty’ to ‘MIL’, smiled and muttered “Thank You Aunty”. Her laptop on the table displayed 34,200 Search Results in Google for “Beginners guide to make Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani”. 🙂

After all, all was fair in Love, War and The Great Indian Arranged Marriage.

–x–

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