Thursday, September 21, 2006


Round 1 (Knock-out)

6 - 8; 3 - 2 (7 - 7); 4 - 0 8 - 1.




Round of 5 (League)

Match 1

0 - 3 (7 - 7); 8 - 3; 8 - 3.


Match 2

8 - 2; 8 - 5.


Won both the singles and the doubles. Badminton tournament at work.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

err ... Haiku?

billboards illuminate
a neon night.
the city sleeps.


unpressed uniforms
on a monday morning.
wrinkled dreams.


summer load shedding.
dinner on the terrace
with the moon.


sparrows nest on the roof.
wheels rumble
through the station.


before sunset,
writing love letters
beside the lake.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


He hurries through the narrow alley, checking his watch every ten paces. The downpour had started earlier that evening, and was continuing to thrash the city, rattling its roofs, spraying clean its corners, inundating the roads, bringing traffic to a crawl. He curses himself for not leaving office earlier. Now he would have to come up with a strategy to pacify her. There's a cheap bouquet of red roses in his hands, bought from a hawker on the pavement just outside the station. He adjusts his shoulder-bag feeling the strap biting into his skin.

Suddenly, two men spring from an alcove.

He looks at them. Oh Lord! No ...

Even as he's sizing up their masked faces, he reaches inside his bag, hoping to find something he can use. The steel of a knife flicks menacingly into life.

"Haath oopar!1", one of them commands.

He looks at them both. Average height, 5 foot 5, shorter than him, clad identically in blue jeans, tight T-shirts and cheap leather boots. He stares at them. But the rain's making things difficult. He can't make out their features.

"Haath oopar!", irritation in the muffled voice now.

He pulls out a magazine, rolls it in his hands, and lunges at them. They weave away and one of them swings a punch at him.

A white bolt of shock jolts his body as the fist connects with his jaw. He's thrown off his feet and collapses on the street in a heap, the bag flung off his shoulders. He sees stars in front of him. The shock subsides, and a blue wave of overwhelming pain floods his face. Blood swirls inside his mouth, its metallic taste strangely soothing. He debates getting up and fighting. But the pain is persuasive, the risk foolish. He stays down.

The guy with the knife stands over him, while the other runs over to the bag, checking its contents. Cell phone, lap-top, digital diary, food coupons ... there's too much maal 2 in it. They decide to take the bag.

He sees it late, and doubles over as the foot swings into his groin. His stomach churns as the pain knots him up. They pound him with their feet, like kids fighting over a football. He curls up like a foetus, protecting his body, but they continue to kick him methodically, in his stomach, in his kidneys, in his back, on his head, till he's not moving any more. They turn him over to take a look at him. He keeps his eyes closed, pretending to be unconscious. He feels hands reaching into his trousers for his wallet. They kick him again. Once. Twice. He hears them walk away. He doesn't open his eyes fearing they would come back if they saw him conscious.

He counts to thirty before opening his eyes. He looks about from where he's lying. There's nobody around. Not even a dog.

He rolls over carefully onto his back and looks at the sky, assessing his body, the rain stinging his eyes. His jaw feels like it's come loose. His body is soaked with pain. The pain is a strange creature to contend with. As long as he stays still, it's dull and placid. But the minute he moves, it streaks violently through his muscles, leaving him gasping for breath.

He chides himself for jumping off the bus and taking the short-cut. Now look what happened. Damn. Never ever take a short-cut, sermonizes a part of himself, a vestige from his middle-class upbringing. Hell, it's not your fault. At this rate, there will be no roads to walk on. It's not your fault, rationalizes the finance professional in him.

He waits a while before deciding to move his body. Leaning his elbow on the road, he props himself up. The pain is agonizing, and there's only so much he can gnash his teeth. But he discovers that if he gets through the first few seconds of pain, it's not that bad. He's grateful he's obese; the fat seems to have softened the blows.

The reality of the mugging sets in slowly. This is not supposed to happen to me. He always thought people who got mugged were really stupid, stupid people who couldn't take care of themselves. He thinks about his assailants. He wonders how long they had been waiting there. Or did they get into position on seeing him stroll down the alley? Damn, they chose their spot well. And talk about timing! Smart chaps, he muses ironically.

He looks at the tall, narrow buildings lining the alley. He wonders if there's anybody inside.

"Arrey, koi hai...?! 3", he calls out, more out of hope than out of reason.

"KOI HAAAAIII?", he feels his voice quavering with the effort, his body shivering in the rain.

No answer. No movement from inside the curtained windows. He realizes the futility of his situation. Mugged, beaten up, without a paisa on him. And nobody to help him out. The world can be a testing place.

He ponders going to the police.

Too much of a hassle. Besides you can't give them anything to work with. You have no idea what those guys look like ... maybe
you should have fought them out. What good are you if you can't fight for yourself? If you can't protect what you've earned?

And get myself killed? No way. Not worth it.

He gets up on his feet cautiously, buckling to his knees more than once in the process. The pain is now numbing. He's no longer aware of it. It's like wearing a hat -- you forget you have it on after a while. He loosens his belt and lets his shirt tails hang out uncouthly. The rain feels nice on his face, and he loosens his tie to let it trickle down his body.

He sees the bouquet lying a few yards away; he stumbles over and picks it up. The roses are undamaged and he's thankful for that. Not everything went wrong, he consoles himself.

He thinks about tomorrow, even though it is far, far away -- for now, he just wants to get home to his wife. He will have to file for a new lap-top at the office, apply for a new mobile phone. He can already hear the questions - What happened? You got mugged???!! Where?? When?! gotta be careful...Did you fight them? No? Yeah, right, not worth it at all ... What did they look like? Oh, OK .. Did you go to the police? Hmm... He wonders if he should lie when they ask him. Tell them that he got a couple of punches in and that it made him feel good, despite being mugged. He wonders if people would think him a sissy otherwise.

His mouth tastes awful. He gingerly pokes his tongue at where thinks he's bleeding inside his mouth. One of the molars is loose, knocked out of its socket, hanging on by a slender scrap of gum. He reaches inside with his fingers, and with a jerk, pulls the tooth off, and throws it out. Fresh blood bubbles out of the cavity and he spits it into the rain. He bends over and catches his breath. The pain is tiring him out. But he needs to get home which is at least another kilometer away. He starts walking slowly, dragging his feet along, the rain insulating him from the pain.

He already disliked the awkwardness he will have to face, the questions he will be asked, the story that he will have to repeat over and over. Just for a week or two. Two weeks and then everyone will forget, even you.

He wonders if he can really recover from this. Already, he's glancing everywhere with each step. Every corner hid a mugger in his mind. He was on red-alert now.
Would I ever relax? What is the guarantee that this won't happen again? Who knows where the next mugger is hiding? Is this how it feels to be raped and have your faith about the world violated? Is this how it feels to live in a state of constant fear? And what good is being alert? What if someone pulls a gun on me? Is this why countries war? Damn...

He reaches the main road from the alley. The house is just two streets away. He hobbles along the road, attracting curious glances from passersby. One or two venture to help him, but he refuses them. He can't trust anybody now. Everybody was a thief now. He realizes the helplessness of his situation. What could I have done? What could anybody have done? How can I trust anybody now? Whose fault is it if I can't trust anybody?

He flings open the gate, the pain in his back almost unbearable now. He goes up to the door,and rings the bell. He can hear her steps from inside the house. He looks at his clothes soiled from the rain, the gravel and the blood. I must look quite a sight, he chuckles, and looks at the bouquet in his hands. At least I won't have trouble explaining why I'm late.


1 Hands up.
2 Loot.
3 Is anybody there?.