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To bet or not to bet

A dice board decided the fate of the Pandavas centuries ago. A game plan was evolved by the Kauravas and executed to perfection by Sakuni. To some, this might seem to be taken from the great Hindu epic ” Mahabharata”. But to many it is considered as just another form of betting or gambling. Emperors and Kings rolled dices in those days, and kingdoms fell and hell broke loose. Fast forward to this century. Now we hear the sweet sound of dices rolling elegantly at svelte casinos throughout the world. Millions are made and lost in just a few seconds.The players mostly return empty-handed but the casino owners make sure their pockets are full.

English: Four coloured 6 sided dice arranged i...

Four coloured 6 sided dice arranged in an aesthetic way. All six possible sides are visible.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why betting now ? It’s the Indian medias most hot topic in recent times. So I thought, why not get into the aura of betting and type a few words. So betting and gambling is not an addiction of the 21st century. It is quite old, may be as old as the cave man ( who knows?) We now have horses racing at prestigious derbies, wanting and waiting to win thousands of dollars as stake money. We even have dogs chasing big prize money, then we have the boxing ring bets, football bets, car racing bets, pool bets and of course cricketing bets.

The 1998 film “Croupier” starring Clive Owen  is an excellent movie depicting the gamblers mindset.

Croupier (film)

Croupier (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw it twice on DVD and was quite impressed with the dialogues. I wanted to share a few of them to you. By the way Jack is the Croupier in the film.

Definition : A Croupier is a person appointed at a casino table to assist in the conduct of the game. Now the dialogues.

Jani De Villiers : Do you believe in astrology?

Jack: Absolutely not! But then, I’m a Gemini and Gemini’s don’t believe in astrology.

Jack : Gambling’s not about money. It is about not facing reality, ignoring the odds.

Marion : I must be a fool – I never think about the odds.

Jack : (voice-over) His existence was forming an interesting pattern of betrayals. Sometimes he was unsure whether he was the betrayer or the betrayed. It’s all numbers,the croupier thought. Spin of the wheel, turn of the card, time of your life. In the book of numbers the Lord said, ” Thou shall count thy steps”.

So why do people bet? Gambling gives an instant adrenaline rush. It’s a stress reliever, a boredom buster, ” I have it in me attitude ” to escape from problems, to be sociable, last but not the least to win money.

The Indian media is pursuing the Indian cricketing world with iron fists and doesn’t seem to tire even day after day. Probably it’s not going the way they wanted it to be . Meanwhile our politicians are heaving a sigh of relief and are in quite a relaxed mood. In every TV channel we have different faces in different square boxes, waiting for their turn to blast away. Once the media find a better story they will simply fade away. Because once there is peace, where is the need for so many TV cameras there?

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The New Bride

Mom..Mom….Mamma where are you? Sankar went to the guest room, then to the terrace, but no sign of Mom. Then he went to the Pooja room, and ” Ma, we have to be at the girls place at 7.30, and you are doing your usual bhajan. ” Vimala admired her most obedient son and went on a rewind mode. How the years flew so quickly?

Sankar is now, all ready, to get married, and that too to a girl of her choice. How rare? Can such a thing happen these days? Krishnan and Vimala had given full freedom to Sankar. But they had placed a few conditions. He had to study mechanical engineering and the second one is, to marry a girl of their choice, and the third one , the bride had to be fluent in spoken english. They wanted to be on equal terms with Dinesh & family, their neighbors.

Dinesh’s wife would always talk to her as if she just came out of the “White House”. Vimala now wanted to take revenge on her by bringing in a wonderful bride who can speak the language most perfectly, with good table manners, a girl, to show her eating skills with a fork and spoon. Vimala had tried all this, but failed miserably. Once, at a kitty party, Vimala tried hard to lift a paneer tikka  with a fork. The harder she tried, the paneer eluded her. Finally she managed to stab the paneer ruthlessly and lifted the fork, but the paneer flew past a few tables and landed on Geeta’s costly embroidered blouse. The whole party got into a laughing mode, and was news for the whole week.

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Krishnan, Vimala and Sankar landed at 7.35 pm, which was the chosen auspicious time to see the ” bride to be ” Kalpana. Sankar’s and Kalpana’s horoscopes matched perfectly and this function was a mere formality. Kalpana was dressed in a red Kanchivaram silk saree and walked towards Sankar’s parents and offered them steaming hot coffee. Vimala blessed her as she touched her feet. ” You look wonderful, Child” she said. Kalpana smiled shyly. By now Sankar was fidgety and wanted to speak to her and sensing this, Vimala gestured gracefully and gave permission to take Kalpana to the next room for a one to one chat.

Sankar nervously sat down on the brown Victorian sofa and admired Kalpana. ” Thanks Kalpana, after our horoscopes matched I was waiting for this moment to speak to you. It took two long weeks. Hmm.  Kalpana, why so silent? Anything wrong?” Kalpana shook her head as if to say everything is ok. She opened her handbag and took out a piece of paper and handed it to Sankar. Sankar was confused. He read the note ” Sankar da, I’m in “mouna virath” today, yes that means I wont speak the whole day. It is a offering to God Shiva. And, I love you so much. All green lights – from Kalps.”

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Sankar came out of the room beaming with delight and showed a thumps up sign to his parents.

Their marriage was a gala affair, and the reception was hosted in style. Since Mr. Krishnan was a well known industrialist the “who’s who” of Chennai attended the reception and Sankar’s proud parents were smiling throughout. Why not? They had a stunner of a bride, rather “neighbors envy, Sankar’s pride.”

Sankar was inspecting the bedroom decorated with jasmine flowers. He was waiting for his better half. Kalpana came in softly, leaving behind her giggling cousins who were whispering softly to her ears. She pushed them away and closed the door. Then she ran and hugged Sankar. She said “Sankar da, please please forgive me, I know little little English only. Your mother giving tough time to my pappa, always speak English, think English. I fed up. That day I gave note to you written by sister. I told lie about “Mouna Virath”. I know only so small English. I also like hands ,no fork and spoon. Don’t hit me.”

Sankar fainted on the bed, and woke up after some chill splashes of water drops. Kalpana was at kissable distance curiously looking at him.”OK Kalpana. If my Mom hears this tomorrow, we both will be leading our lives in the garage. So until things settle down, note down these words and always say them when she chats with you. Say chill, Auntie. Awesome Auntie.” Kalpana asked ” Why Sankar da, Chill Chill, it is only for cool drinks na. Why I say it?”

Sankar raised his voice.” For you and your parents acting  I would have hung you in this ceiling fan. Don’t question me now. Just do as I say ” Kalpana replied” “OK, OK, Please don’t do anything to me”.

By now, Sankar was tired of coaching Kalpana the whole night. He poured two glasses of water and gulped it down quickly. “Ignorance indeed is bliss, he thought to himself” and drifted to sleep.

Walk in the Park

Left, Right, Left, Right……..forward march.. Gajendran started his usual evening walk with his wife, inside the MOP Park. This has been his usual routine for the past five years. His Doctor’s advice. “You have turned forty years Gajendran. Don’t miss even a day. This one hour walk will reduce your cholesterol and BP, and reduce my Bill.” Gajendran took this advice seriously from day one. At seven in the evening he would even miss wearing his shoes, but would never miss his wife accompanying him in his walk. They held hands together and walked with such force and vigour that passers-by could feel air gushing out by the swing of their hands. Today was no different except that it was a bit more crowded, since it was Saturday evening.

MOP Park

The Park Garden had a nice stretch and the right mix of greenery and plants laid out on both sides. Gajendran was unusually walking faster today, since he had to catch the 11 pm Mangalore Mail. His grip on his wife’s hand was a bit harsh, and at times she yelled out in pain.

As they took the final bend, the lights in the park flickered once, then again, then it went out. Complete black out. Gajendran didn’t see the manhole in front, and tripped and fell down, but luckily he rolled over and didn’t hurt himself. He got up, rather fast, did not wait to clean up, then caught his wife’s hand and started walking much faster. Now he was nearly in jogging mode. She shouted ” Ouch “, “What is this”. “Ooh ” As Gajendran was reaching the exit gate, there was a crowd of policemen checking everybody. Gajendran instantly knew the cause of the search. One smart policeman came forward and blocked Gajendran and smiled sarcastically. He said ” Look Mr. You look pretty decent. Where do you work? It is only 7.30, and how dare you can do this in this public park. Look at your age. You must be forty and she must be twenty. How dare you can bring girls inside the park and do “Jalsa”. You should set an example for youngsters. OK. Walk to that Mobile Court. The Judge is waiting. We don’t have time.”

Gajendran turned to look at his wife and was horrified. “Oh God, Sorry, What have I done, Sorry who are you?”. The dark girl with full make up splashed all over her face was fuming. She slapped Gajendran and said ” You idiot, You have dragged me for nearly ten minutes, in this useless garden , just to drop me in the mobile court. Now go there and pay the fine.”

missed-calls

Gajendran was nearly crying now, and his phone was vibrating along with him. He took it out and the screen read ” Thirty eight missed calls”.

His wife was waiting at the entrance gate. Thirty eight missed calls in ten minutes. She was wondering what was going on.

An Hourglass Figure

imagesGuru Hemchand’s secretary gently opened the CD player and inserted a CD. After a few seconds, “Aum…mmmmmmm” , the enchanting  sound filled the huge hall. When “Aum” is chanted in a chorus, it fills the air, and like tranquil waves, the mind becomes calm and relaxed. The hall was  filled with mostly Westerners and Indians, who closed their eyes and started to feel one with this chant. This early morning session was eagerly awaited by many guests, hmm…… followers, no, disciples……No no. Hemchand didn’t like to tag them with any of these words. They were all like his friends.

Vedhika, who was in her late twenties, married with a son, joined this meditation course two weeks before. She opted to join here because this centre was close to her house and she could just walk, meditate, then walk back home. It sounded easy.   Hemchand was more like a corporate consultant, than a guru. He didn’t have any assistants washing his feet, or people bowing before him. Nor did he have pictures of him plastered all around the place. He spoke when needed. But his mind was razor-sharp, very disciplined and mature. The westerners liked this aspect, since they didn’t have to bother with arrival and departure. No signatures were asked and  no registers were maintained. Above all, the whole course was free. Hemchand was in his mid forties, and had withdrawn from a successful career as a lawyer in the US. This meditation centre was his baby for the past five  years and he had enough money to just sleep in his “easy chair” for the rest of his life. But his mechanical life in the US, taught him the importance of human values, love and relationship. He decided to pack his bags and go back to India.

hourglass-shape-saree

Vedhika’s presence at the centre, was watched with envy and irritation by the administrators and participants. She had an hourglass figure, and dressed mostly in sarees, with very low-cut blouses. She daily wore a strong “Bvlgari Jasmin Noir” perfume. It had notes of pink pepper, bergamot and Jasmine and it was the jasmine that stood out most. The overall effect was provocative, sexy, and alluring.  All other participants would be dressed appropriately, but Vedhika intentionally concentrated to draw attraction, rather, cause distraction. After a few days, her presence started to become an eyesore to everyone because she always appeared to talk in length about meditation, vibration and yoga to others, though she always appeared fidgety and restless.

Hemchand studied Vedhika from the day she arrived. He noticed all her flaws, and being a psychic, he knew what she was up to. That day, during the class, Vedhika posed some weird questions to Hemchand. She said ” Sir, I have been meditating for nearly three months and my kundalini is not rising. I have not heard any bell sounds, and no “Devta” has appeared in my vision, as promised by you. I came here to witness all these.” “Please wait” Hemchand interrupted. ” Please meet me in my room later, where your questions will be answered. ”

Vedhika was pleased. She was waiting for such a moment. After the class got over, she was asked to come inside the private room of Hemchand. She went inside and sat down on the broad, yellow floor mat. ” Vedhika , I am sorry. Meditation is not what you think. It is beyond thinking. There are no expectations here.” Hemchand laughed, and continued. ” Bell sounds, Archangels and Devtas are not servants to appear at our will. It is they who decide when to appear, and to whom to appear. It doesn’t matter if they appear or not. It is the great cleansing process which we are doing daily, shedding all our garbage out of our system, which is important. For some it takes minutes, for some it takes years. I presume your married life is not in order. Your husband is not devoting any attention on you because he is busy with his work. So, you are trying to garner attention with your skimpy dressing. Actually you are an innocent victim of this mechanical life pattern. I suggest you bring your husband to me, to have a chat. This can be sorted out easily.

Tears were rolling from Vedhika’s round cheeks. She thought, how did this idiot know about their married life? She then stood up and thanked Hemchand. ” Sorry Guru, I am sorry to have asked so many questions. My husband is returning from the US next week. I promise, we will come together, to meet you. Thank you.

The Henna Girl

Inspector K.N.Vohra’s cell phone was in no mood to stop. For a change, his wife Anita had set the caller tune to a more peppy number, Barney Kessel’s ” Love for Sale”. She hated receiving so many calls because they were married for less than a year and the mobile phone was a painful intruder in so many intimate moments. Once, she even flung the phone out of the window and Vohra had to buy a new one.

“Inspector Vohra” he said softly. ” Sir, party. I mean party going on next door. Lot’s of noise, fights and windows smashed. It’s unbearable. No 25, 6th Cross Street, West Coast Road, Casuarina Bay.” Who ?….. The caller hung up. He was wondering how that guy had his number. Vohra had just returned from a cruel ghat drive the previous evening, and the time showed 3 am. He had to go since “Casuarina Bay” was a high-profile zone. He shook Anita, but she refused to get up. Even at this tense moment, Vohra admired her shapely legs. She always slept in shorts. He wanted to switch of the phone and get back into bed, but he cursed it, changed, and was in his Gypsy in two minutes. He usually traveled alone and well armed in these situations, since these cases had to be dealt intelligently.

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Vohra reached the spot in half an hour. To his surprise the place was quiet, no signs of any security guard in such a big house. He found the main door open, and window panes , broken and scattered all over the portico. There seemed a tussle which had taken place here. He took out his revolver and entered the first bedroom upstairs. He flung open the door, with his revolver pointed straight.  He saw three guys lying on the sofa, with needles, lying on the floor. They were in a state of heavy intoxication, with their eyes watery. He could hear feeble voices in the next corridor. Vohra rushed there. He found a girl in her twenties and a guy of the same age tied to the grill, and their mouths gagged. He quickly pulled out the rag, as they were gasping for breath.

The girl was in a state of shock and the guy was drained out.  “I am Inspector Vohra.” She caught Vohra’s hand, then fell at his feet. Vohra lifted her and made her sit down on the corridor. She had an exquisite brown tattoo on her feet. This was her first “ecstasy” party. She and her cousin brother were invited by a college-mate’s friend. They were actually “bait’s”. The drug was loaded in their car without their knowledge and brought safely to the venue. The girl said” We found everything weird on arrival. The group was around thirty people. The music was loud and my friend asked us to be in a room till the party started. I had no knowledge of this drug.” She started to cry as Vohra touched her shoulder.

She hid her face for a while. Then she  continued, ” As I planned to escape with my cousin they started hitting us, and one fellow nearly raped me. My cousin was god-sent, and, as he had your number, he called you. There was a huge fight between two gangs in this party, and most of them have fled the scene after that. God knows what would have happened to us after those guys wake up. I thank you Sir. Thank you for coming.”

Meanwhile Vohra had alerted his station, and took the girl and her cousin to the LNK Hospital which was very close. The girl gave him a grateful smile as he left them with the Doctor’s team.

Three months later. A lazy Sunday morning, Vohra’s mobile rings again. This time, some  happy news. His College-mate Vikram was getting engaged that evening. Short notice. Vohra was pretty pleased to take his wife Anita to the engagement, since she rarely had a chance to be with Vohra, because of  his busy police schedule. The crowd to the stage was long and serpentine. It moved inch by inch. Vohra reached the stage and shook hands with Vikram. Then they hugged each other. Vikram said ” This is Gayatri”. Vohra stood there for a while and wished the couple, then walked away. He then turned and looked at her feet. He had seen that tattoo before. If only he could remember where?

Buzz. Vohra’s phone vibrated. He took it out and the sms reads ” Thank you Sir for saving our lives. Please keep our meeting, a secret. – Gayatri’s cousin “. Vohra smiled as he deleted the message and took his wife to the dinner hall.

Condition serious hai

“Where is your aunt’s place yaar. We are driving for an hour in Bangalore, seen all white houses except your aunt’s” said Vinod. “Pratima aunt’s house is so big and white, and they found such a place only at the outskirts of the city.” replied Prem.  You know something. She doesn’t invite every Tom, Dick and Harry to her place. This is just my second visit to her’s. Vinod looked amazed. So rich ? Yes da . I promised her that we would be staying only for a day to attend the rock concert.

As our car entered the huge,white building, a grim-faced security guard asked us to wait. He clicked the intercom and murmured something. “Ok chalo” , he then waved us inside. We waited near the main entrance for a while. Then an attendant opened the door and stared at us for a minute. Vinod placed his right foot inside. ” Aaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeei” a loud shout erupted from the garage. Vinod was so startled that he nearly fell down. A servant came running with a door mat and placed it inside. Now the stone faced attendant, gestured us to come inside and sit down in the huge living room.

I got hold of Vinod’s trembling hands and we both sat down at the exquisite Victorian leather sofa. Vinod tried to smile at the attendant. But no response. He was still staring at us from ten feet away. Vinod whispered ” Prem, this idiot here is so stiff. I think he needs a good laundry .”  ” Shut up and keep quiet” replied Prem.

The attendant left the place and we both smiled and were relieved. But he was back in a minute, with a huge dog. He talked something in his ears and the dog started to sniff our two bags. It then moaned. The attendant, took it away immediately after that. ” What the *))))$%^^^^% “, shouted Vinod. “Are we checking into some hotel. Your aunt must be a crazy nut, I guess.” Prem gently tapped his shoulder asking him to keep quiet.

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Two beautiful maids arrived with two glasses of water and offered it to us. ” But your aunt hires some real beauties da”. said Vinod. Prem stared at his friend and took a glass and started sipping. Vinod said No. The girls looked puzzled and stared at each other. They wouldn’t move an inch. They again offered the glass of water to Vinod. “No. Sorry I’m not thirsty.” The two maids started to look a bit nervous now, and Prem was wondering what was wrong. Meanwhile Vinod wanted to use the loo and asked for directions. He went to the guest room and relieved himself. He opened the door and was shocked. The two maids were standing with glasses of water. “No, please understand, I don’t want to drink, ” said Vinod. ” Sir, please drink. Mem Saab’s orders”. Vinod got irritated now. “Where is your MemSaab. We are seeing only servants, dogs and door mats. Ask her to come”.

Hearing the commotion, Prem rushed to the room and tried to pacify his friend. Vinod, was very angry. I’m leaving da. Let’s go. I would rather stay on the platform in front of the concert ground, than roaming here. Prem was also in the same mood, but curiosity got the better of him. As they walked outside, Prem asked a gardener about the maids chasing them with water glasses. The gardener hesitated for a while and looked all around and turned his head in 360 degrees and then answered. ” Sir, Mem Saab told us, every visitor should drink water first, as they come inside the house. It removes evil eye. I mean ” Drishti. Understand. ”

Vinod and Prem laughed together so loudly. “Prem. What an aunt you have da.” The gardener came running. Are you going Sir. Prem replied ” Tell Mem Saab that I will call her later”. They both looked at each other and started laughing again.

This post was written for #conditionserioushai# contest held by Cadbury 5 star – Visit their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/cadbury5star

Hairy tale

Introduction – This was a short “flash fiction” I had written for a magazine about four years back. I wanted this piece to be in my new blog. So here it goes.

Anirudh went inside the newly opened hair salon near his house. The name ” Two Coins Hair Salon” attracted him. The salon was a week old and it was crispy clean. As Anirudh sat down on the first empty chair near the entrance, he saw three hairdresser’s rushing towards him to claim him as their own for the next half an hour. After a small fight, a lean guy won the battle and took position behind him.

“Sir, only haircut or…….?” . ” Yes, a plain haircut, medium at the top and very close behind the neck and sides ” said Anirudh. ” OK Sir “.

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” Sir, your hair is slightly rough. When did you last shampoo?”  ” Four day’s ago” said Anirudh. The dresser started cutting a few strands of hair near his neckline and said ” Sir, we have a special Ayurvedic shampoo called “shine on”. It’s very effective and cheap. It’s just 1200 Rupees. ”

” I see “. ” Sir, there are so many black spots on your forehead, and nose. We have a golden facial treatment. Just try it. No one will recognize you. It will make you so fair. Sir, you also have a double chin, which is not so good for your age. We have a special aloe vera chin massage. It’s quite cheap. Just 1500 Rupees. Sir, we have a ………..”  ” Please stop ” said Anirudh, and took out a sheet of paper from his pocket and gave it to him. The hairdresser was taken aback. It read “ DO NOT DISTURB . I have tried all the above hair treatments, golden facial’s and face massages. I am fed up of all this fuss over a simple haircut for which I came here. So please keep quiet and do your work.”

The hairdresser nodded and continued, in silence.

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