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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Commitment To The Unverifiable - LBC Post

Commitment to the Unverifiable, this week's LBC topic, seems to be a euphemism for belief in God, about whom we know but of whose existence we are unable to verify.  At least, not in the natural world.

So how do we know God exists?  Simple!  I read it in the Bible.

When I was a kid growing up in Catholic Ireland, we were more or less given to understand that you didn't have to take the Bible seriously, that it was written in a very different time by immature people. We only had to do what the priest told us and everything would be grand.  Grand, altogether.

I now know that that was a load of rubbish.  Complete nonsense and utter trash.  Sadly, many of the priests I met during my formative years mouthed platitudes and cliches and didn't believe even half nor quarter of what they were teaching us.  Of course, we didn't know what many of them were up to back then, but Jesus very wisely advised us (through the Bible) that anything done in darkness would one day be shouted from the rooftops.  That was completely true.

But I've also learnt that you have to be in the spirit when you're reading the Bible, reading along with the Holy Spirit and letting Him into your heart to tell us what the book is saying.  You also have to understand context and time and place regarding when the Book was written.

That's how I remain committed to the (apparently) unverifiable

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.  This week's topic, Commitment to the Unverifiable is the contribution of  The Old Fossil, that amazing blogger from the USA.  My thanks are due also to freedigitalphotos.net for the above image, courtesy of Arvind Balaraman.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Writing Along With The Bards Of The Blogosphere - A Special Experience

It's been a crazy couple of weeks.  I made eight great new writing friends.  There were around 300 of us bloggers brought together by the Indian blogging hub, Blogadda, to #CelebrateBlogging and participate in the Game of Blogs.  The group in which I found myself, which subsequently named itself 'Bards of the Blogosphere', was the most diverse group, with members in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Mangalore and Lucknow.    We collaborated on WhatsApp and email, had umpteen discussions  and took the given set of characters and made a book out of them.  Our Excel spreadsheet was our most trusted tool.  Some of us write prose, some poetry, some of us write long pieces, some of us prefer to write short pieces.  Some of us write light, humorous stories, some of us write darker, more brooding prose.  But somehow, this diverse group of bloggers took the set of given characters, Shekhar, Tara, Roohi, Cyrus and Jennifer and made up a plot and a story.

As I've already mentioned elsewhere on this very blog, I wrote the opening chapter of the Cyrus/Jennifer love story.  When I read Arpita's chapter on that romance, which closed the story, I got goosebumps.  The very same characters who had lived in my head had literally transported themselves to Arpita's.  They were the exact same pair, except instead of being the author, I was now the reader.  And the characters were consistent all through, no matter who was writing them.  See, we were all in touch in a virtual manner while we all went about our daily lives, wherever in India we were.  But every time another Bard picked up the torch and ran with it, the story just consistently flowed.  Which showed the connection.

For me, the best experience I've taken away from this has been how to stretch oneself as a writer and leave the comfort zone.  When I was writing Jenny and Cy's love story, I was very comfortable.  When I was writing Roohi's kidnap scene, I was not.  yet I never felt more alive as a writer.  A new, temporary character in the story, Ramesh, emerged, from my own Uttar Pradesh, a common man who, for the moment, was the hero of the story, a man who had been bowed down by the tragedies of life, yet who could come out of his own misery to rescue a little girl who reminded him of his own beloved sister, tragically lost.  Also, the darkest character in the story, Aryan Ahuja, emerged in the story from my chapter, even before we knew his name, a good man soured by a system gone bad.  Evil though he is, Ahuja could be, in the words of William Shakespeare, 'a man more sinned against than sinning.'  Ahuja suffered horribly to become the near monster that he was and I think that the Bards have told his story in a fair manner.

I think we've all somehow been powered by a sense of outrage against human trafficking.  People generally dismiss this evil in our society on the grounds that it happens to other, poorer, people.  This story of a middle class child who was trafficked and the effect it had on her parent would have been terribly difficult for me to write on my own, but in the company of the Bards, it was possible.

Thanks to the Bards of the Blogosphere and to Blogadda for this amazing experience.  I hope our story wins, yet even if it doesn't win, I'll never forget this season in my writing life.







Meet the Bards:



I interviewed each and every one of us (including myself) for my book blog.  Read all the interviews at the following links and you'll get the lowdown on each and every Bard, including links:

Doc (Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan)
Divsi (Divyakshi Gupta)
PRB (Priyanka Roy Banerjee)
Nupur Maskara
Sulekha Rawat
Arpita Nayak
PeeVee (Priyanka Victor)
Datta Ghosh
Maria Perry Mohan


I think the lowest point for the group was when our initial discussions were heating up, one of our members had to drop out owing to personal circumstances, which left us with just nine Bards instead of ten.  But all the Bards chipped in to make up for the shortfall without a murmur of complaint.  Various Bards chipped into help, one with editing, another with the spreadsheet, another with the collage - everyone helped out whenever needed.  We agreed early on that even though Doc (Roshan Radhakrishnan) was the head of the group, we were all equally responsible for the group.  A happy moment came when we discovered that both Doc and I were winners in the Indireads short story competition.  But whatever happened in between, the chapters were plotted and written.  We're all going to keep in touch and it would be really great if we could write another project together sometime.  I do hope it will be possible.  We seem to work well together.

And now, the book:


Week 1: 
Chapter 1 - Princess' Day Out
Chapter 2 - The Weekend Brunch
Chapter 3 - The Journey
Chapter 4 - The Phone Call
Chapter 5 - Through the Eyes of a Stranger
Chapter 6 - The Princess and her Pied Piper
Chapter 7 - Shadow play turns real
Chapter 8 - Mysterious Tattoo
Chapter 9 - The Confrontation

Week 2:

Chapter 1 - I'm coming to get you, Princess
Chapter 2 - The evening before
Chapter 3 - A Good morning
Chapter 4 - Trigger happy
Chapter 5 - The Calm before the storm
Chapter 6 - What lies beneath
Chapter 7 - Pandemonium
Chapter 8 - Whodunnit
Chapter 9 - The Divulgence

Week 3
Chapter 1 - Shadows In The Night
Chapter 2 - Taken
Chapter 3 - Truth and Pretence
Chapter 4 - The Perfect Crime
Chapter 5 - Standoff
Chapter 6 - The Return
Chapter 7 - Catharsis
Chapter 8 - The Reunion
Chapter 9 - Epilogue


It's currently a free read online, with the different chapters found at the various blogs of the writers.  Please visit, follow the story and above all, respond. Leave comments on our posts and Facebook page.

The Bards of the Blogosphere are on Facebook.  You can get to our page from here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Catch Up Time - Double LBC Post

I've been so busy this year, I've hardly have time to breathe.  I've just been offered a chance to write e novels for a really nice publishing house and am currently looking at the contract.  It's quite an exciting time in my life, but a bit scary too.  What if no-one buys my book?  I can't imagine anyone wanting to buy stuff I've written.  I love writing, though.  I've just co-written a novella with eight other Indian bloggers and while I hadn't been interested in the project initially owing to work commitments and only took it up because the organizers called me up and asked me to participate,  I can honestly say that writing that story while collaborating with eight other writers on WhatsApp and email was one of the most enjoyable  experiences of my writing experience. Our book is in competition to get printed and I really hope it wins.

The co-writing was so interesting.  I wrote the initial chapter of the romance story in the novella and the finishing chapter was written by a blogger called Arpita from Chennai and it was surreal - I mean, Arpita wrote those characters exactly as I'd pictured them.  The more torrid chapter in that love story was written by blogger Datta from Kolkata, very tastefully written from beyond the bedroom door. Hats off to Datta for taking up that challenge.  I found the two characters very different in style and tone in the bedroom than they were on the street - but people are very different in the bedroom than they are in the street.  Isn't that so?  That's why I was glad that Datta was doing that particular chapter and not me.  I'd have found it difficult as that area is so very intimate.  It takes a special type of writing talent to write that way, in my humble opinion.  

So.  Last week's LBC topic was education.  I really wanted to do it, but was so caught up that it never happened.  So here it is:

EDUCATION



There's a heck of a lot which I could write on the subject of education, but I'll limit myself to this wonderful quote from William Butler Yeats, Irish writer and educationist.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Yeats' figure loomed large during the days of  my education, back in my native Ireland.  I studied lots of his poetry in my English literature course and every schoolchild in Ireland knew the story of  Yeats' obsession with and hopeless love for the beautiful and enigmatic Maud Gonne.  Yeats was a poet and a playwright of Anglo-Irish stock, who had a huge interest in theosophy, among other things.  He certainly was a man of great and noble ideas.  He coined the phrase 'terrible beauty' to describe the obsession and blind dedication of  patriots who were ready to commit acts of terrorism for the sake of their ideals.  

This week's LBC post has given me a jolt.  The reason for that is the fact that I have zero inspiration for it and that's got to be highly unusual.

PEEK A BOO


A kid's game?  Or something a bit more risque?  I do know it is the name of a fairly noisy song from oriental style punk rockers Siouxsie and the Banshees.  You can visit the song here, if you feel so inclined.  I've had a look at the lyrics and they're pretty grim and awful.....not my cup of tea at all.  The track comes from an album called 'Peepshow' which has fairly seedy and suspect connotations, from my point of view.

As it says in the Biblical Book of Job, I shall go this far and no further.

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for the images shown above. The image  shown above is attributed to 'stockimages' and the lower image is attributed to 'imagerymajestic'.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserThe Old FossilMaxi,, Shackman and Ashok, have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't have done so.  This week's topic Personal Debt is the contribution of  Rummuser, that amazing blogger from Pune.

Now when it comes to debt and loans, I find myself on very shaky ground indeed.  I like the Shakespearean line 'Never a borrower nor a lender be'.  We're talking money here.  I also like a saying I picked up along the way.  'Never lend anyone money unless you're prepared to say goodbye to it.'  

If someone is poor and needs money, why would I keep it?  I'd rather just give it away and never look for it again.  But the truth is that generally speaking, no working or  middle class person has money to spare.  At the same time, lending money can create tension in a relationship.  If someone borrowed a substantial amount from me and then is slow paying it back, that can really hurt.  Especially when the need for my money arises and I just don't have it, because I lent it to someone else.  So my feeling is that when someone, including myself, needs an injection of cash, the best bet is to go to reputed bank or credit union and do an official deal, with a repayment plan. It is better to keep loans etc. out of relationships.

One astonishing aspect of life in India which I have found is the phenomenon of people who just don't pay back money.  They take a loan, they promise to pay and then they just, like, forget about it. In my opinion, they actually think they are entitled to the money and just ask for a loan for formality's sake.  Then they just forget about it.

It's not hard to find people to whom to lend money in north India where I live.  A friend of our family, Ashok, a university lecturer, was telling me, the other day about an incident which made my blood boil.  There is a woman, Kanti, who works in his office as an ayah.  She keeps the office clean, goes for messages, makes sure everyone has glasses of water, cups of tea when they need it and makes sure  the lunches are delivered from the canteen.  She does a pretty good job and is honest.  A couple of years ago, this woman was in great distress. She is a widow with two daughters and the elder one was getting married.  As a great deal of money is required in India at the time of a daughter's marriage and for the want of ten thousand rupees (about two hundred dollars), she was going to have to go to a moneylender and probably have to pay huge interest. Ashok's heart went out to the woman.  He has children of his own and he felt for her.  So he gave three thousand rupees as a gift and lent her the other seven thousand rupees.  She kissed his hands and wept with joy and promised from the core of her heart to repay the loan at the earliest possible opportunity.

Two years went by and Ashok never asked her for the money back, assuming that she would pay it when she was ready.  Then, one day, she approached Ashok respectfully and said she had to speak to him about a personal matter. He thought she was about to return his money.  She wasn't.  She was asking 'Sahib' (Lord) to bless her with another ten thousand rupees as her younger daughter was now getting married.  When he questioned her, it appeared that she had completely forgotten that she owed him seven thousand rupees.

Ashok's wife Aarti is furious over this.  The fact is that Ashok and Aarti are struggling to survive, with mortgage repayments and private school fees and ailing relatives who need medical treatment. The loss of seven thousand rupees won't kill them, but Aarti is livid because Ashok is extremely miserly in giving her money to run the house and buy clothes, questioning her closely regarding every rupee spent.  "He's never given me seven thousand rupees," she says, through gritted teeth.  

But Kanti just feels she's entitled to forget about the loan because she's poor.  Very poor thinking indeed.  It's nice to help others, but an incident like this would put anyone off.

So like I said earlier, it's better not to lend money unless one is prepared to say goodbye to it.

BTW, one of my Indian blogger friends Datta Ghosh, on reading this post, commented on Facebook, "I think it is the general trend in humans to forget any favour done to them irrespective of when they are from."  Datta is right.  Human nature is one and the same throughout the universe, lest my post sound as if I have it in for a certain nationality.  Thanks for the reality check, Datta.  

Special thanks to freedigitalphotos.net  for the above image.





Thursday, October 2, 2014

I’M COMING TO GET YOU, PRINCESS - PART III -CHAPTER 1


CONTINUING THE NOVEL CO-WRITTEN BY THE BARDS OF THE BLOGOSPHERE



read the previous chapter here




SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT

And now I emerge from the generator room, having disabled the power in the building.  I am the one in control here.  It’s a heady feeling.  I push the buttons, I make the decisions. For now, for this moment, I am God. In a way.  In a small, momentary way.  Just for now.  As the few souls who people the building stumble about helplessly, I know exactly what I have to do.  Whoever said he that does evil hates the light said rightly.  Under the cover of darkness, much can be accomplished discreetly. 

The watchman, in confusion, doesn’t even notice when I move in behind him. Rendering him unconscious with a blow is easily done.  Tied up, gagged and helpless within minutes, he’ll be no threat to me now.  The building, a recently constructed one, with only a few occupants as yet, provides the ideal venue for my final act of revenge – the helpless victim striking back, the victim, in fact, becoming the victor.

My princess, my dragonfly, the joy of my very existence remains lost to me forever.  No one even cares.  Oh, there was rhetoric in abundance when it happened, mere lip service.  They film documentaries, speak in conferences, drum up emotions at election time.  But it’s all an eyewash, mere hypocrisy.  When I was running from pillar to post, trying to rescue my beloved child from the clutches of evil, what I got was mere, meaningless, rhetoric.  Everyone told me how sorry they were and then carried on with their own lives, leaving me alone with my tears, my memories, my loneliness.  I am fully convinced that the human trafficking activist, the fair boy who is held for the minister’s murder, is using the anguish and loss of people like me to enhance his prestige and further his career.  Such hypocrisy.

They are all liars, every last one of them.  How they lie!  They tell you how sorry they are for your trouble.  But they don’t know the first thing about what it feels like to lose the one thing, the one person who meant everything in life to you, who gave mere human existence meaning and joy.  She is gone forever and they may quote figures and verbalize sympathy and even occasionally rescue a bunch of trafficked children from a beggar’s ring, but more, many more remain lost forever, unrescued, unsung.  Where is my beautiful dragonfly?  Is she a dancing girl in a brothel somewhere, being drooled over by licentious wolves?  Is she forced to yield her body nightly to lecherous hypocrites who pose as respectable citizens by day?  My dragonfly must surely have been selected for one of the five star institutions of that industry, for her beauty was uncommon.  I feel deep down that she was not sold for her ability to provide kidneys or a heart to someone who had the wherewithal to pay for new organs, as some pay for new prosthetic knees and elbows.  No, my princess was targeted and taken because she stood out from the rest.  Just like that dragonfly tattoo she had emblazoned on her wrist just days before she disappeared. She was someone unique and not a girl easily forgotten by anyone.  And not by me.  Never by me.

I realize that my days are numbered.  That photographer woman from Kochi has already trailed me here and has befriended the Dattas.  No!  Although it grieves me deeply that an innocent may have to suffer, I can't stand by helplessly and wait to be caught. Now society at large must bear the consequences for the pain it has inflicted upon me.

I got no closure from the minister’s death.  I now understand that he was not the author of my misfortunes.  It was that evil fox, that Chandy.  I befriended him, got close to him, in order to accomplish my mission.  It was easy, too easy. Chandy let me know when the fair boy had his audience with the minister, without the benefit of security.  I’d told him I needed to have a personal word with the minister about my case.  Chandy must have known that I really meant to do the minister harm, because he gave me access so readily on the basis of a flimsy acquaintance.  I now realize I was merely a pawn in his hands.  At first it seemed like Chandy had set me up with an alibi but in all probability Chandy is the real murderer, as he knew the minister was bound to find out about his misdeeds sooner or later.  I was like a pawn in his hands.

 Now, as my moment of destiny draws near, the memory of my dragonfly, my beloved one, inspires me.  

Although bereft and left alone
Your memory remains with me
Grief has turned my heart to stone
As I, I stumble helplessly
And every single step I take
And every single thing I do
And every single move I make
Empowered by only thoughts of you
And thoughts of you will spur me on
Until my fearsome deed is done


You are always in my heart and will be forever no matter what happens and no matter whether we never, ever meet again.

Love never dies.  But oh, God how it hurts. And hurts……oh, Priya……my Anupriya……

*****

The next chapter is here.....

 “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with 
us.”
 
The team Bards of the Blogosphere comprises of DivsiPRBPeeVeeArpitaDatta Nupur,SulekhaMaria and Roshan.

Our Facebook page is here


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dead End Street - LBC Post

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including Rummuser, The Old Fossil, Maxi, The Old Fossil, Maxi, Shackman and Ashok,  have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I otherwise wouldn't  have done so.  This week's topic Dead End Street is contributed by Maxi.


As far as I can make out, a dead end street is a pretty negative concept.  It prevents your easy escape and generally leads to nowhere.

I grew up on a small cul de sac in Dublin's north side and I wouldn't have that negative concept about dead ends.  True, once you drove into the cul de sac (dead end road) you'd have to turn around and go back again to get out. But it was okay.  Our mothers could let us go out to play on the road when we were young  and know we weren't going to wander off too far.  One of our neighbours used to call it 'the keyhole' because of its shape.  Just because you walk or drive into a dead end street, it doesn't mean you can never leave.  Merely retrace your steps and you will find your way out again.  This is also true of life.


Now to add to this topic - two weeks ago, I didn't know them from a proverbial hole in cyberspace.  Now they're like family.  I'm talking about the Bards of the Blogosphere, the blogging group I was inducted into by the Indian blogging hub, Blogadda.  This team, to which I'm honoured to belong, are co-writing a thriller novella and we're loving every minute of it.  We've just finished round two and are waiting to know will we be eliminated or not.  I hope we stay in the game until the end and better still, win the contest.  That way, we'll get our book published.  But win or lose, we're all enjoying the project hugely.   So this topic is not a dead end street for us.  It's a most rewarding and exciting project.

I'll give the links to the various posts containing the chapters, currently existing as blog posts on their respective author's blogs. Please check out the story and follow us.  You can find interviews with various Bards (A Bard a Day series) at my book blog, MBB. Please check us out and read our story if you have time.  My fellow LBC member  and rakhi brother Rummuser assures me he's following the progress and loving the story.  


AND NOW:  THE BOOK  (still a WIP/Work in Progress)

Week 1: 
Chapter 1 - Princess' Day Out
Chapter 2 - The Weekend Brunch
Chapter 3 - The Journey
Chapter 4 - The Phone Call
Chapter 5 - Through the Eyes of a Stranger
Chapter 6 - The Princess and her Pied Piper
Chapter 7 - Shadow play turns real
Chapter 8 - Mysterious Tattoo
Chapter 9 - The Confrontation

Week 2:
Chapter 1 - I'm coming to get you, Princess
Chapter 2 - The evening before
Chapter 3 - A Good morning
Chapter 4 - Trigger happy
Chapter 5 - The Calm before the storm
Chapter 6 - What lies beneath
Chapter 7 - Pandemonium
Chapter 8 - Whodunnit
Chapter 9 - The Divulgence

It's currently a free read online, with the different chapters found at the various blogs of the writers. The story will reach it's penultimate climax and conclusion in the coming week. Please visit, follow the story and above all, respond. Leave comments on our posts and Facebook page.




The Bards of the Blogosphere are on Facebook:  Find 
us here

Image above "Brick Wall" courtesy of Artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net.  The two Bard images above are courtesy of the Bards of the Blogosphere.

Looking forward to the coming week.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Coming To Get You, Princess - Part II - Chapter 1 - ROMANCE BLOOMS IN KOCHI





                                                                                                                                                              To see the previous chapter  (Part I, Chapter 9), go here                                                                                                                                                             


(Three weeks earlier)

Jennifer waved her journalist’s pass at the security man and walked down towards the conference centre at the hotel, which was just a stone’s throw away from Kochi’s famous Marine Drive. She felt elated to be covering this international conference in her native city.  It was a beautiful  summer morning and there was an air of magic, almost expectancy, in the air.  Her keen eyes, as always,  were on the lookout for a suitable photo opportunity.  Her attention was taken up momentarily by a couple and their cute daughter.  The mother was an impressive lady in a designer sari and a short, almost shaven designer haircut which showed off her sharp features to their best advantage.   The father was  a pleasant looking man sporting a goatee, who looked most uncomfortable in the suit his wife had obviously made him wear for the occasion.

“You know, Shekhar, as the Americans say, you clean up good.  You look so handsome in that suit.  You really should dress like this more often.  Shouldn’t he, Roohi?” said the woman, looking towards her young daughter for support.  The young one, a complete cutie aged around ten, Jennifer guessed, giggled and nodded, obviously agreeing with her mother.”

“I’m outnumbered as usual,” groaned the man, in mock despair.

Jennifer smiled.  A happy family is a lovely thing to see.  Will I ever belong to a family like this? She thought about it and shrugged inwardly.  Maybe, someday……

“Well, well, well!  If it isn’t little Jenny Joseph!  And what brings you here, may I ask?” said a voice from behind, interrupting Jennifer’s reverie.

Jennifer swung around to see who had spoken and found herself gazing into the smiling eyes of Cyrus Daruwala.  Cyrus!  Her old associate and sparring partner from her days in Delhi University.

“Cy?”  She couldn’t quite believe her eyes.

“Jenny?” he replied, not quite believing that it was really her, either.

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.  It’s not Jenny.  It’s Jennifer.  Jennifer Joseph.”

“I’ve always called you Jenny.  And you always called me Cy….  In fact,  you just did.”

“Just did what?”

“Called me Cy.”

“Did I?  Oh……”  She was caught.  But only for a moment.

“Ha!  I don’t know what came over me.  I must have been distracted,” she replied coolly, acting like she couldn’t have cared less.

“Anyway, what brings you here?”

“What brings me here?  I’m a Kochiite, remember?  I’m a freelance photographer and journalist, covering this conference for a national publication.  And you?”

He smiled.  “I’m with an NGO called Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya,.  We are militantly anti modern slavery.  We’re a pain in the neck to a lot of politicians and establishment people.  But there’s no other way to pursue your cause, other than by being a persistent pain in the neck.”

“Anti-slavery?  This conference is against human trafficking.”  Jennifer could feel her curiosity rising.

“Human trafficking invariably leads to slavery of one sort or another, whether it’s domestic slavery or sex slavery.  There’s no basic difference between the two except that sex slavery tends to leave the victims stigmatized for life.  We work against slavery in all its forms.”

Jenny was fascinated.  “So, after you completed your BA, you didn’t bother going for the LLB as you’d always said you would?”

“Oh, yes,” he replied.  “I most certainly did.  I completed LLB and LLM at JNU.  In fact, I’m working towards my doctorate.  Legal knowledge is extremely useful in my line.”

“Indeed,” she replied.  Well, Cyrus had always been committed to causes of some sort or another.  It was only natural that his educational choices would reflect that commitment.

“I must say,” he said, changing the subject, “I’m impressed with your beautiful city.  Kochi is…….well, amazing.”

“Yes,” she replied, pride obvious in her voice.  “It’s known as the queen of the Arabian Sea.  It’s rich in culture and history and it’s a big naval and commerce centre.  I don’t know why it’s not considered to be one of the more prominent cities in India.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s no way less than the big four cities.”

“Big four cities?” Cyrus was intrigued.
“Yes. Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata.  You know what I mean.”

“There’s Bengaluru also, nowadays.”

“Right.  And Kochi’s no way less than any of them.”

“Jennifer, I was just thinking.  Maybe you’d like to show me around?”

“Sure, I’d love to,” she replied, to her own surprise.  She’d always considered Cyrus Daruwala to be an arrogant braggart, but for some reason, she was warming to him.   She didn’t quite understand it herself.  “Maybe we could go for a walk on Marine Drive when the day’s session is over.  It’s one of our famous city walks.”

“Great.  Why don’t we swap mobile numbers and catch up later, then?”

“Okay.”  Jennifer was starting to have second thoughts.  Did she really need to spend the evening with Cyrus Daruwala, listening to him pontificating on the evils of slavery? Not that it wasn’t a worthy cause, of course.  But the Cy she knew of old could be a pain if he had a bee in his proverbial bonnet about something.  Which was usually most of the time.

But as they swapped mobile numbers, she found herself looking forward to their meeting later on.  He had matured a lot, she could see that.

“How are things with you, Jenny?  Jennifer, I mean,” he added, correcting himself.  “Your boyfriend won’t have a fit because you’re meeting me later?”

“No worries there.  I’m not in a relationship at the moment,” she replied, a little embarrassed.  Is Cyrus Daruwala checking me out?

“Surprising,” he replied, with a grin.  “I’m amazed you haven’t found some nice Mallu man yet, to make an honest woman out of you.  I’d honestly imagined you’d be married to someone called John Matthew by now and that you’d be the mother of two kids called George and Mariamma.”

“Why, you…..” she replied, stung.  “No.  No John Matthew on the scene right now.  And what about you?  I’d have thought you’d be married to some nice Parsee woman called Perizaad by now, with two kids called Darius and Nargis.”

Cyrus laughed long and loud.  “No sign of any Perizaad on my horizon.  You’re still the same Jenny Joseph.  Always up for an argument.  And please, don’t bother correcting me again.  You’ll always be Jenny Joseph for me.  I still remember how you always used to ask me how come all the Parsee men you knew were called Cyrus.”

“And you always used to ask why all the Mallu women you knew were called Mariamma, and I’d always tell you that you knew very well that wasn’t true and you’d say I was different.”

“Well, that was certainly true.  You always were different.  So Jenny, this evening, then.  I’ll call you up on your mobile at five o’clock sharp.  Be sure you don’t switch it off.   I’ll be waiting for you in the reception of the hotel in any case.”

“Okay, Cy.  I’ll be there.  See you later.”

“Looking forward to it.  See you later……..Jenny.”

*****


And the story continues here.......

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