Ghost story

Ghost story


Since my teenage days I had been fascinated by the idea of ghosts. From Doyle to Poe to more popular contemporary writers in English and Saradindu and Ray and others in Bangla I devoured tales of the super natural in literature and popular fiction.

Naturally, I was curious to experience the para normal and tried visiting so called haunted houses and crimination and burial grounds at night to catch a glimpse of the nether world without any success. All it gave me was firing from my parents and a notoriety among my friends.

But on three occasions I came very close to believing in the spirit world.

The first time was in a sleepy hill town where we were staying with some friends in a secluded wooden cottage. The neighbours had warned us to avoid a particular bend in the road after dusk as spirits of some accident victims were reputed to haunt that place. It so happened that walking back from a day trek to the hills, I was a bit late and a slide drizzle had reduced visibility to a few feet. I noticed that I was approaching the notorious bend. Suddenly a felt a chill down my back. It could have been a sudden gust but the atmosphere got to me. I confess, I felt slightly uneasy and tried to quicken my pace. I noticed then that there was another figure walking a few feet ahead. Encouraged, I hurried down to catch up with him. But as soon as I reached close by, I froze. My companion did not have a head. I must have screamed. The headless apparition also stopped and to my horror, turned around and came towards me. Just before I lost consciousness he spoke.

“Babuji what are you doing after dark on this bend? Come I will accompany you home. “

I noticed that he was wearing a plastic sheet on his head to stay dry from the drizzle which gave him the headless look in the mist. I was glad to have the company of this ex-ghost back to our cottage. But later no one could figure out who was my unknown beneficiary.

The second time was also in the hills. On the way upto Sikkim, we had witnessed an accident which killed an old mentally challenged lady who used to waive down traffic on that road. The locals avoided her but some passing truck may have mowed her down. Our driver was sad but said that she was a traffic menace.

On my return journey when passing that same spot towards dusk, suddenly an old lady leapt in front of our jeep and tried to waive us down. Our jeep veered dangerously and avoided her but stopped. By then, she had disappeared in the gloom. Our visibly shaken driver said this must have been some other lady who has filled in the place of the crazy one.

The third time, there was no scope for misunderstandings. A good friend had been brutally murdered by Pakistani terrorists on 26/11 in Taj Mumbai. The same afternoon she had sent me some joke on SMS and I had not the heart to delete the number from my phone on her demise. She was a celebrity foodie and journalist whose husband was my roommate in college. A year from the incident I received an SMS on my phone saying

“S……….., how come I don’t hear from you anymore?”

Seeing the name on my phone, gave me a shock and I texted back,
“Who is this?”
I received an immediate response.
“Have you already forgotten me?”

A chill went down my spine. I was being addressed by name. Could not be a wrong number. I wanted to call the number but something stopped me. Instead I texted back

“This is S…….., roommate of ………… in college and this number belonged to …………, his wife, who is no more. Please call me.”

There was a gap of time. I kept staring at my phone. Then it rang. The same name showed on screen. Still in shock, I picked it up. A familiar female voice created goose pimples and replied.

“Uncle, this is ………… I now use mom’s sim card. I was calling my friend S…….. as you have the same name and it is saved on moms sim I must have called you by mistake. So sorry. Must have really scared you.”

Her voice was uncannily like her mothers.


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Ganpati Bappa

Ganpati Bappa

I won’t go down there this year
Duty calls dear son, why fear?
The din the lights the rush the air
The loot in my name I can’t bear
They throw me in the dirty sea
That kills the poor fish!Can’t they see?
That’s true my baby but you see
There’s those that come flocking to me
And you and and they’ve been waiting all year
Because you give them hope my dear
We bear the din the dirt the loot
The organisers don’t give a hoot
But the common folk who flock to us
We can’t let them down because
We are their only hope
Relegion may be a dope
But it helps them bear the pain
Their prayers must not go in vein
Go my son alone this time
Next month will be family time
When we visit Kolkata
For another year of this gatha


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Round is a shape

Round is a shape

Round is a shape
I love workouts. I enjoy watching people sweating it out on treadmills, huffing and puffing on myriad contraptions, pumping iron, rowing on solid ground, and doing stomach crunches accompanied by grunts and groans and other painful sounding caterwauling.
I especially like it when the huffing and sweating bodies are in svelte female shape, dressed in form fitting leotards or other interesting gym wear, torturing themselves to get into dangerous shape, dangerous to the observer, that is.
I do not have to actually go through those tortures. Just watching them sends my heart racing, I get a cardio without breaking into sweat. Adrenaline levels are hiked, pulse quickens, and breathing gets deeper, all without punishing my muscles. I feel quite refreshed after this workout. And I stay in shape. Round is a shape.
There must be many like me, for most gyms have glass fronts, and you can enjoy the spectacle without having to become a member. Gymming is a spectator sport.
The exercise I enjoy is swimming. There is no sweat, no chance of getting hurt, does not require too much effort, is cooling for the body, and whenever tired you can float on your back and watch the sky.
Our friendly neighbourhood sports complex has the typical glass fronted gym with the treadmills facing the window and one can view the spot running damsels like fish in an aquarium. Immediately in front is the swimming pool.
I would happily walk down to the changing room getting warmed up by this vicarious exercise, then walk back to the pool in my trunks, quite oblivious of the fact that while you can look into the aquarium, the fish can look out too.
There was a full length mirror in the changing room, which I always managed to avoid looking at, as I am not enamoured by my own looks, nor did I relish seeing unclad or semi clad men hanging around . But one day I caught a glimpse of a weird image in the mirror and froze. It looked like a captive balloon with a coloured strip in the middle, topped by a familiar face; one that I saw every morning while shaving.
I realised that the comical stranger looking back at me was yours truly, and also that this was the spectacle that was displayed to the insanely fit damsels on the treadmills.
We, or at least I, rarely look at myself in the mirror. You see bits and pieces while shaving, combing the hair or tying the tie, but never the full picture and definitely never ever full monty. It was a ghastly spectacle.
I somehow dashed past the glass window and slipped into the water, convinced that once immersed, I am invisible. But that fig leaf did not last long either. On the way back to the showers, I kept my face firmly averted from the gym, as a result looking at the pool. To my dismay, in the clear water, not only were the swimmers clearly visible, but were magnified. Thus the captive balloon would have looked like a drowning blimp.
I have invested in a bath robe, and am contemplating doing more in the gym than mere watching.


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No country for the innocent

No country for the innocent

No country for shy people
Ram Kumar and Shyam Singh were colleagues, Punjabis, professionals, batch mates and friends in a large corporation, posted in different towns of Punjab as Branch heads. The names are obviously fictional, so reader, please do not draw conclusions about their identity, as these are common, almost generic names of the North Indian male species.
Both were middle aged, middle ranking, middle income, middle class people, but differed totally in tastes and temperaments. Whereas Ram was a shy, diffident, law abiding, god fearing soul, popularly known as “gau admi” or as harmless as a cow; Shyam was the very opposite.
Extroverted, man of the world, street smart, boisterous, fond of the good things in life, rules to him being impediments to be avoided without detection; Shyam enjoyed his life with few pangs of conscience.
Both of them were visiting the training facility of their organisation, situated in the outskirts of the metro city which housed their corporate headquarters.
Despite their disparate natures, being from the same part of the country, and having graduated from the same engineering college, they hung out together. In the evening after the boring lectures the participants unwind. Ram wanted to play carom in the common room, but Shyam had other ideas. He persuaded his friend to accompany him in visiting a pub a few miles away. Ram, being too polite to refuse, and a little excited about living on the wild side with his colourful friend, reluctantly agreed.
They therefore went over to a seedy bar in a nearby township, and ordered their drinks, Shyam with nonchalance and Ram with guilty nervous excitement.
Now this bar, as Shyam well knew, was a pick up joint frequented by the local inexpensive call girls. So that soon as they settled down, they were joined by two highly painted and garishly if scantily dressed young ladies of negotiable virtue, who chatted them up quite flirtatiously. Shyam was in his element, exchanging scurrilous repartees, buying them drinks, to the shock and titillation of Ram.
Having quickly finished his drink and negotiations with one of the ladies, Shyam disappeared with her to some back rooms, winking at Ram and requesting the other lady to take care of his friend.
Impatiently urging the tongue tied and by now alarmed Ram to finish his drink, the young lady put her arms around him and firmly led Ram to a back room. Both mesmerised and panicked, he meekly allowed himself to be led in.
But when the lady quickly disrobed, and started disrobing the frozen Ram, he regained enough composure to yell,
“Don’t touch me. I don’t want any of this, let me go!”
The lady shrugged and said,
“It’s okay by me, just pay up and go”
An indignant Ram bristled and screamed,
“I didn’t touch you! Why should I pay?”
The lady patiently explained that his impotence is not an excuse to welsh on the deal fixed, and she was willing to oblige if he was able to perform, but able or not, once in you have to pay as agreed.
Ram tried to bluster and flaunt his exalted status as a senior government employee in distant Punjab, perhaps fuelled by the unaccustomed alcohol in his veins.
But it cut no ice with the experienced young lady, who just put two fingers in her mouth and let out a shrill whistle.
At the signal two bulky bouncers bounded in and proceeded to teach poor Ram the etiquette of the bawdy house.
A bruised and battered Ram relived of not only his money, his wallet, his watch, but even his clothes, was unceremoniously dumped on the road outside.
Clad in his underwear, penniless, dazed and mortified, poor Ram dared not enter the bar again to seek his friend or approach the police or anyone for help. He was deeply ashamed and wanted no one to know of his plight.
Helpless, he slowly began to limp back towards the hostel in the pitch dark, unable to hire a rickshaw.
It was a long walk, and by the time he reached, it was well past midnight, and the gates to the institute were firmly shut.
Not wanting to draw attention to his unclothed and unsavoury appearance, and unwilling to provide tedious and embarrassing explanations, he decided to scale the walls.
Now, this may be in a days or rather night’s work for cat burglars, but was well beyond the scope of a middle aged official. The resultant ruckus raised the guards, who raised the alarm, switched on the lights, apprehended the intruder and proceeded to thrash him. His feeble attempts to explain that he was a legal resident brought no respite.
In the meanwhile the hullaballoo woke up the residents and even the director who came down to investigate.
It also produced Shyam, who had long since concluded his romp and whizzed home in a rickshaw, no doubt passing the hapless Ram trudging along in the dark somewhere on route, and was happily and safely in bed.
He identified poor Ram, who was speechless in shame by now, and asked,
“What happened, Ram? Did you get mugged somewhere?”
This easy explanation revived Ram, who readily agreed.
Thus the matters were laid to rest for the night. But Ram’s reluctance to file an FIR the next day raised suspicion, and close interrogation revealed his whereabouts of the night before; as he being an innocent, had little practice of lying. The understanding authorities agreed to let things be, in deference to Rams family, but issued a stern warning to him never to indulge in such peccadilloes again. Shyam’s role in the episode remained hidden.
Till years, people talked about Ram,
“No one could have guessed about this man; what an animal! And he acts so respectable too!”
A bitter Ram is no longer on speaking terms with his old friend, who doesn’t quite understand why.
This really is no country for the innocent.


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Opposite lines

Opposite lines

A poem with alternate lines being romantic and the reverse

For you my darling I’d go anywhere

As long as you pay my business class fare

For you my sweet I will do anything
As long as I am paid for it in cash kind or Bling

For you my beloved I’d write a whole song

But only if you agree to go away for long

For you my dear lover I’d give up my life

As long as you don’t ever get near my wife


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I Forget…..

I Forget…..

I forget…

Being absentminded is the privilege of the genius. We hear stories of the ridiculous stupidity and feeble mindedness in everyday matters by such greats as Einstein and Newton and chuckle appreciatively.
However, if we of acknowledged mediocre intellect should occasionally let things slip our mind, we are subjected to severe ridicule and harsh name calling.
I unfortunately have suffered from this since childhood, and it shows no signs of improving when I am reaching the age where such senior moments can be attributed to early onset of senility or Alzheimer’s.forget 2
This has led to various problems ranging from mild inconvenience to brushes with the long arm of the law.
For instance, I can never remember my vehicle registration number, and in the days of manual security at public parking lots, I had often to peer inside all the cars to identify mine, raising suspicion, which became worse when on questioning I could not recollect the number. I was often subjected to rigorous questioning before being permitted to drive away my own car. Nowadays the remote lock has made the job of identifying my car easier.
It is worse when I am driving someone else’s car. I usually have no recollection of the make or model either. Once when driving a colleagues car while mine was at the workshop, I panicked on reaching a parking lot with a sea of vehicles. Finally I realised that as a recent arrival from another state, his plates will bear that states number. The rest was simple.
What is worse, in those days, most cars of the same make could be opened by the same key, if the vehicle was old. Once, when visiting my parents, I had borrowed my dad’s car and taken my kids to the market. Returning laden with packets and child in tow, I opened the door of what I thought was my dad’s Maruti and proceeded to load the shopping. A gentleman came over and asked if there is a problem. I thanked him and asked him to mind my child while I arranged the packets. This done I thanked him, sat my daughter in the back seat and got in myself. The stunned gentleman protested,
“But this is my car!”
Profuse apologies later, and the clinching argument
that I would hardly be committing grand theft auto with shopping and a child in tow, and finally on discovering the right car parked nearby, I convinced him that I was not a criminal. But he may have been harbouring a doubt that I was criminally insane.
The other issue is I always drive on autopilot. Once the route has been uploaded on what passes for my mind, I don’t have to consciously plan the drive. Thus, as I used to drop my wife off on my way to work, that’s how I went, irrespective of whether she was in the car or not. I usually realised that she’s not there after I had parked by her office and waited for her to get off. I may have been suspected of being a stalker by some of her colleagues.
Ditto when dropping my daughter off to school. I think the authorities had a lookout for the potential paedophile that stops his car outside the school, sheepishly looks around and drives off.
On the pervert front my reputation takes a beating by another nasty betrayal of my mind. Being an incurable multi tasker, I am usually on my computer when I have called someone on the phone and waiting for them to pick up. So that by the time the response comes, I have completely forgotten whom I have called or why. As I desperately try to identify the voice and remember what it was I needed, the person at the other end shouts
“Hello hello!”whilst listening to my heavy breathing.
When I call my secretary for some work, I may be involved with something else by the time she arrives, and I stare at her asking why I called her. I think till she knew me better she may have been convinced I was the stereotyped evil boss looking her over. I am glad I didn’t face harassment charges.
But what almost brought about a crisis in our marriage was when I was giving a lift back from work to a colleague and the LOH was in the backseat. When I stopped to drop the colleague, she had got off to come over to the front. Blissfully unaware, I drove off home, leaving her stranded midway, without money as her purse was in the backseat. I realised this only when she came home in a cab, and she icily asked me for money to pay off the taxi.
Fortunately, my marriage survives to this day, no doubt as I forget the many hints dropped about reconsideration of options from my long suffering LOH.


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Phenomenal Girl

Phenomenal Girl

The beaming smile that dazzles all
And hides the hurt deep in her eyes
The eyes that tell a unique tale
Of one so young and yet so wise
She runs she sells she works she laughs
The strays find comfort in her arms
Her two wheeled steed will come at once
Whenever there’s a call for arms
All and sundry bank on her
But who will hold her when she cries


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