Pillow talk

Shall we switch on the fan tonight?

No! You can put it on if you want my legs to cramp all through the night…

No, it’s okay. I will sacrifice for you.

…and then in the morning we will have to amputate both my legs. And then you will have to carry me piggy-back to beg at signals. And I am 67 kilos. Though I think I’ll lose at least 10 kilos if both my legs go. Hai na?

Easily. And then you’ll die of gangrene and I will pull a handcart for a living.

You won’t go back to being a technology journalist after I die?


Bappi, we love you

YP was present at a ceremony felicitating Asha Bhonsle in 1997. This is his story.

Somebody gave Bappi Lahiri the mike and asked him to say a few words about Ashaji.

Bappida [in a thick Bengali accent]: Ashaji ke baare mein kya kehena. Ashaji ke gaan mein jo awaaz hai, woh kissike gaan mein nahin. Sab director apna gaan leke Ashaji ke paas jaate hai. Ami bhi unke gaan ke saath bahut kuch kiye. Humne inke gaan ke saath fusion kiya! Usme guitar dala! Tabla dala…

Ashaji [whispering]: Gappa kara hya maansaalaa…

The story of our lives

9.30 pm. Crime reporter N sits on the couch outside our office, stressing as always. Enter night watchman (W).

W: Madam, aapko bahut pareshaani hai na? (Madam, you seem troubled)
N: smiles
W: Thoda padh likh jaate toh dactar-engineer bannte. Yeh nahin karna padta. Mereko dekho. Main bhi nahin padha. Yehi pe hu.
(If you’d studies a bit, you could have become a doctor or an engineer. You wouldn’t have to do this. Look at me. I didn’t study. That’s why I’m here too)

Highlights of my stay in Ba’ram

1. The old man with four dogs and umbrella with doggie pictures asks me, “India?”. “Yes.” “Eechak dana, eechak dana. Indian, no?”

2. When I leave work every day, my boss says, “Thank you girls. Thank you for everything.” Sometimes, she gives us chocolate or cake.

3. My extremely aggressive and controlled room-mate gets wasted. The others wake me up to take care of her because they’re too drunk to handle her. She keeps asking for the English Girl, saying she’s her room-mate and stumbles into her corridor. The English girl runs into her room and locks the door. She then starts puking violently into the lawn, while the Nice Swedish Guy says soothingly, “Don’t worry, Sunny-D is here.” The red-haired Swedish girl is trying to calm her claustrophobia by instructing her to breathe in, breathe out. The Colombian Couple are calling out from the staircase, “That’s right L**! Throw the devil out.”

4. My shy South Korean roommate asks: Do you make frat in front of friends? D made frat in front of me. I think it’s very rude.

5. Things L says. For example: She looks like she can’t count till 10.

6. The Columbian Twins have a Bitchy High School Girls thing going on. One of them, M, has been thrown out of every job on the kibbutz for a. Being lazy b. Licking her boyfriend and distracting others c. Being bossy. Unfortunately for her, she tries to tell L how to do her job of pasting stickers on apple boxes. L: “I am not your fucking child. You don’t fucking tell me how to do the job. I am not fucking working for you. You are slowly and surely getting on my nerves.” M says something in Spanish to other Columbian volunteers and gives out a high pitched laugh. L, thrusting her palm in M’s face: You see this? I will fucking smack you right here.” Work halts and the managers pull L away. M’s Swedish boyfriend walks by, giving L hard looks. L yells at him, “IS THERE A FUCKING PROBLEM?” We make L tell the story again and again for the rest of the day.

7. The Member’s club behind Dinning that has comfortable seats, soft lights, magazines, 12 flavours of herbal tea, many types of coffee and cakes and cookies. It opens three times a week and I sit there sipping my tea, watching the members playing with their grandchildren on Shabbath, wearing their best. Some of the founder members still dress like it’s an evening in Europe — coiffed hair, silver barrettes, polished shoes and scarves.

8. The flowers. Made more awe-inspiring by the knowledge that the orchards and forests in this hills were hand-planted by kibbutzims, 60 years ago. The garden in Ba’ram, in particular, is looked after by a lady who has done this job since she was 17. She looks like she’s in her mid 60s and drives around in a modded golf cart with a stuffed doggie splayed across the steering wheel.

9. Pancake Wednesdays. Olives. Cottage cheese with olive oil on toast and tomatoes.

10. Things that happen in the bomb-shelter — poker nights, PlayStation wars, Hebrew classes, Karate classes and hormonal hook-ups.

Day 25: Divine plan

M: Look at this cathedral. You’re supposed to contemplate on certain questions at certain questions. There’s a map!
J: I can do that here.
M: But you’ll find answers there. Like what God wants you to do.
J: I know what god wants me to do. He wants me to have babies. Lots of fat babies.
M: That’s your divine purpose?
J: That’s right. He said go forth and multiple. And he didn’t mean maths.
M: What if he did mean maths?

*** Bonus***

W: We thought you didn’t want to come out for a smoke.
K: I didn’t know how to start the next para.

Day 20: Office conversations

Overheard: Aiming low
N: I brought lunch today! Carrots! Chopped up! On a cutting board! Which I then packed into a tupperware dabba!


M: What was for lunch today?
J: Good sprouts bhel
M: At the diet counter?
J: Yeah. I always eat there. No one stops you. It’s all you can eat for five bucks. Even the sweets.
M: What was for meetha today?
J: Chuttya kheer.
M: Like made of pubic hair?
J: No. Left-over vegetables squeezed into a pulp. Like ye le kheer. Tere ko chuttya banaya. Chuttya kheer.


We’re looking at a picture of a photographer colleague. Half his face is covered by the door.

V: Ye dekh. Dark side of the moon
M: Or total eclipse of the moon.
MD: Yeh S column toh nahin likh raha?
M: On being single and a migrant in Mumbai?
MD: Usski toh shaadi ho chuki hai. Bachche bhi hai.
V: No. He should write a column on being dark and fat in a city obsessed with fairness and looks.
M: He’s dark, fat and married. He has no presence in Mumbai’s social scenario.
V: He has it in the right places?
M: Like Mahila Mandals and PTA meetings?
V: I hate PTA meetings.
M: Used to you mean.
V: Yah
MD: Abhi bahut ho chuka. Jao tumlog.
M: Yah. We’ve milked it na?
V: Ek dum. Kala milk.

Day 15: Mush

Tushar is lying on the bed while I clean up the room. He hisses at me and pats the mattress. I act wary then go lie next to him, my head on his chest. He slips an arm around my neck.

T: Happy fifth anniversary. Seventh actually.
Me: I thought we weren’t celebrating that.
T: We aren’t. *Tightens arm around my neck.* I’m going to kill you now

Day Four: About that doctor I was telling you about

Scene: We’ve checked into the hospital. I forgot to tip the guy who shaved TB from neck to knee. If ever a man deserved a tip, it was him. TB wouldn’t let me see and kept flashing bits like a pervert on a bus-stop. I had to pin him down to see. The doc came in for a round and we settled into our assigned positions — me at the computer, he on the bed in front of the TV.

Me: I don’t know how his wife lets him out. I’d be jumping him all the time; wouldn’t let him go out.
TB: More than you jump me?
Me: Lot more. I’d be constantly attached to him.
TB acts out a little skit about the doc going on rounds, visiting patients while I’m humping his leg.
Me: Yah, it would be very hard to hide our affair.

Day One: A quick run-through

1. The garage sale went swimmingly well. So well that several establishments have offered to host it and want us to make it a monthly event.

2. I made a five-figure amount and still have two drums of stuff left, lending credence to the popular theory that I have too many things.

3. Over the Diwali weekend, my only two-day weekend this year, Tushar had to be admitted to the ICU. He suffered from complications caused by a gall bladder stone, nosocomephobia and Dr Google. Before you all go aww for him, let me remind you it was the only Two (one, two) Day (24 hours) Weekend (which is only one day for me, every week of the year) I had this year. Admittedly he may have been slightly more inconvinienced owing to an IV and the tube down his nose, but I had plans for the weekend. I suspect he has the power to time calamities to inconvinience and anger me.

4. While he was in the hospital he 1. Scared the other patients by sleeping with his face covered with a white sheet 2. Got to play with remote-controlled reclining bed 3. Was fitted with a wonderful personal ablutions apparatus.


5. He goes into surgery on Thursday and since his doctor is so good looking, I’ve decided to be with the doctor every step of the way.

6. As he was wheeled out of the ICU, he asked me to capture the lachaar pose. I hope he attaches it to his CV. (If you or any of your family/friends are wheelchair bound, please don’t be offended. We’re juvenile. Also, it was his idea).


7. Last Sunday, the day of the garage sale, Tushar’s grandmother had to be admitted to the hospital for complications from malaria. She is one of the only two direct grandparents we have left and the only one from her gender. She has been the object of my unwarranted attention after my own grandma moved into Swarglog Apts. At 88, and being partially deaf and immobile, she can’t fight off displays of affection from a Burmese Milatee.

8. It’s November and I’m tempted to post every day.