A Train of Thoughts…

What’s a relationship all about!? 😒


The train was late by two hours. Then, they announced that it’d arrive at platform number 4, which was on the other side of the world, somewhere around Peru. I was exhausted by the wait – rolling the trolley bag felt like hauling a dinosaur egg. I dragged it through the stairway – my palms tired and sweaty – overtaking slow, fat, redfaced aunties who had travelbags so large that you could suspect them of felony. When I landed my bag at the dilapidated floor of platform number 4 and heaved a sigh of relief, they announced that the train would – due to some technical issues – now arrive at platform number 3. So I hauled my luggage and tagged my soul along to platform number 3 where the train showed up after thirty minutes. Before that, I tried to update my phone using railway wifi, but it seemed Indian railways was still using pigeon services, and I did not want another pretext for my brain to go crazy, so I unplugged and decided to write a scathing article about the appalling fall in the standards of government bodies. But then I was too tired so I just watched a flock of birds fly away in the stratosphere above the high roof of platform number one and wondered why don’t they ever get tired. I also wondered if Icarus’ flight was worth it, if what he experienced in those tiny fractions of time would ever be felt by Daedalus, and if history has been unfair to him. Then, the train arrived and I crawled in.

Okay. Let’s establish the facts first. I had a hot copassenger. But her husband was a bit of an appendix. A wheatish poker face. And he wore a black sweater on a dark pink shirt which gave me sort of a headache. And what’s unfortunate is that they had a child. Picturing them having sex was kind of weird – like watching a cult porn or something. In small towns, you can have hot chics plus dowry if you earn well. I can, too. But what attracts me more is intelligence, which is a rare thing in both the genders. This intellectual friend of mine has even higher standards about which we shall talk later.

So, what kind of women do I like?

Well it’s tough. I can’t draw an eligibility chart. I’m in the last year of my teenage and I don’t exactly find Gwen Tennyson hot anymore. I like girls who play chess. But that’s not all.
I guess I liked Doctor. No, not someone like her or someone of the same name or appearance or intelligence or DNA coding or whatever. Just Doctor. It’s not easy to explain, didn’t I tell you.

In a relationship you look for compatibility, because love cannot haul you all along. So yeah, maybe compatibility is the word I’m looking for. But I’m not sure. It could be all about blowjobs for all I know.

Anyways, they looked kind of happy. I mean almost perfect. Compatibility. Blowjob. Or maybe both. I guess you establish that much when you’ve made a baby together. It’s a huge risk, and if it turns out ugly or dumb, you would most probably not relish wiping poop off its ass for years. But then, what do I know. I don’t exactly adore them.

The train trundled on the eternal tracks, and through the tinted glass I stared out; trees, throngs and time past me in a flurry of blurred paintings. I realised I am passing a moment and this was enough to make me sad.

to be continued…


OCD. 😑

Another blizzard of unreined horses…

The smell was revolting. The bus felt like a death chamber. I dug my nose into my hands and breathed through my palms. The conductor busied himself with bashing the boy. His parents had to swear they’d clean it up once they reached Bhagalpur. I felt bad for the boy but I couldn’t dare to lift my eyes. My world squeezed into that tiny bowl of my hand and I told myself that it was just an OCD attack, and that unlike Aza Holmes, I can control my own thoughts, but that grotesque image of the puke won’t go away. The smell invaded my bubble and I felt my throat tighten. My heart stopped.

This is not you. This is not you. No, you can’t puke. You control your own thoughts. Brain operates vomiting. Your brain is telling you to stop. Stop.

The bus stopped at Bhagalpur bus stand and I raced out, covering my nose to block out all the air. Thirteen steps later, I puked near a giant tree, people watching me with disgust and pity.

I brushed and hailed a cab. I put my bags on the backseat. As we whooshed through the mad traffic, I couldn’t shrug the compulsion – I would turn back every four seconds to check if my luggage was still there. I knew it was there, I could have sworn each time. But the thought won’t go away. My palms sweated. I felt vulnerable. I felt like that little kid who loses his mother’s hand in a crowded carnival. I could feel the sweat on my forehead. I could feel the fear in my ribs.

Think about Doctor. Think about your last message. But, have you checked your pocket? Is your wallet still there? No. Think about Doctor. The message. Your luggage? It takes 5 seconds to scoop something up and disappear in the crowd. Check your luggage.

No people, I’m not fortunate enough to afford luxurious diseases like bone marrow aplasia, so I get petty Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. It’s like diarrhoea, except that it’s your brain that’s on the run. I had this for a long time, but it started screwing me recently. After I lost my bag in Patna a few years ago, it became pretty bad. Now I’m rechecking doorlocks like crazy. But it’s okay, it’s not fatal or something. And no, I won’t forget my baby in a bathtub.

As the cab reached the station, I checked my stuffs a thousandth time and carefully pulled them out and paid the driver a shiny little bill of 10. My mother would have haggled for a couple of hours and paid 9, but I don’t have that superpower.

I walked slowly, feeling the twinges and shivers of some unknown tragedy. It was cold. And there were 2 hours to go before the train would whisk me back to Delhi. I trudged myself towards the platform. It felt like stepping into the NullVoid.

To be continued…


Cigarette Date #4 : The Pieces

The final part of the journey…


We hail a cab which drops us at Ratu Road, from where, another cab drops us at the main gate of SAIL township, from where we walk through the Satellite Road to enter Shyamli. All the while, we are talking about her friends, her friends’ friends and her ex-boyfriends’ ex-girlfriends. I don’t have to say anything as my life has been quite unextraordinary. Imagine me as the agricultural tv channel they put on government set top boxes and imagine her as the flamboyant ESPN, in HD.

Shyamli is this beautiful township of Mecon, so serene that if Anurag Kashyap visited this place he’d start directing Bhajans. It was my idea to smoke in Shyamli. We walk and walk and walk and stop at a park which looks desolate except for a man fooling around with his German Shepherd. Why do people hang out with dogs? Like, what the fuck are cats for?

“Are you sure we should go in? “I do not feel safe in a park with a German Shepherd dancing around. She looks at me and starts walking. Into the park. Damnit! I follow her. Godamnit!

That goliath monster charges at us as if we ran away with his engagement ring, barking like German artillery of World War 2. Heer screams in fear. I am already bleached out, my heart on the tip of my tongue and my ribcage ready to slip through my ass. That’s how I’m dying! Godspeed!

But I jump in front of her anyway, and I’m not sure if I peed or what, but as I sacrifice myself to keep her from harm I tell her to get away. I don’t know what I am thinking right now but somehow I know that when I’ll look at this in retrospect, I will choose to visualise myself as a caped Zorro.

A miracle saves us though. The dog turns as his owner calls him back. He’s chuckling at a distance and even though I give him a nervous laughter in response, I want to sue him for life. We race out, swearing and wheezing. Then, we laugh and swear and laugh and life suddenly gets better, and safer. We could have kissed but I have the heart of a mouse so we just slow down in a street which looks devoid of people. That’s the place.

“We’ll smoke here. “She says. There’s no one around, except for a guard who looks like his wife became a monk and that’s why his life is hell and so he wants to poke around and have some fun from observing people’s activities.

I nervously pluck two cigarettes out and hand one over to her. Then, I light up the matchstick and light my piece, my heart a canon of Arras inside my chest. Then, with shaky hands, I light her cigarette too. I don’t want to die of lung cancer. And I don’t want her to die of lung cancer.

“You first. “She says. Dear Lord, forgive my sins! My lips touch the cigarette butt and even though it doesn’t feel like orgasm, goosebumps cover my skin. I inhale smoke little by little, as suggested by the Wikihow article for beginners, and look at her. She doesn’t look that ecstatic.

“It’s gone. Light it up again. “She frowns. I rub the stick against the box and light her cigarette. And just like that, we are taking drags. It tastes like burnt corns, which is not exactly delicious and it doesn’t have a soothing effect on any of my senses, as they swear on their mother’s life. In fact, I feel like I should have bought a Frootie instead. But a Frootie Date won’t look good on a blog post title.

Heer is grumbling about something. She looks beautiful while doing so. She wants to blow smoke clouds and it’s not happening. I tell her that that only happens in movies, but it doesn’t calm her down. She wants her smoke rings. She says that this friend of her blows smoke rings every Tuesday night at India Gate and people from all over Delhi flock around him to watch this spectacle.

As I look behind, the guard is gawking at us. He seriously needs to have fun with his wife more often, he looks so downtrodden. She gives up after a few drags and since I don’t have any good reason to do so, I carry on. My lungs still feel like lungs. But yeah, the smoke stings my eyes.

We walk under the starry sky, along the quiet avenues, not talking, our steps parallel and slow and in synchronization. And a few seconds later, Heer asks for my piece. I’m gobsmacked. ( Gobsmacked is this new word I’d run into in Lord Evans’ Merriam-Webster, and it means dumbfounded. )

“What? “She looks at me quizzically as I hand it over to her. As if sharing cigarettes is a normal thing! It’s quite intimate, it’s as intimate as sharing herpes. She deftly holds it between her fingers, like she’s Augustus Waters, and she begins to draw smoke. I blush like Hazel Grace Lancaster. After two drags, she scrunches her face and coughs.

“You okay? ”

She nods through the hazy cloud of vapour and goes back to sucking through the cigarette as I steal longer, intent glances at her. Heer is ethereal. Not in terms of physical attributes or the ability to talk interestingly and consistently, but in terms of being so expressive without having to make an effort. You have to see her to be able to believe. She’s not a person, she’s an event. Witness her unfold and smile in joy.

She tries a few more drags and then gives up. She returns it to me with a frown. I have developed a sudden liking for smoking. And I love this girl who smokes because I-have-to-exhale-puffy-clouds-and-watch-them-glide-away. And I absolutely abhor, loathe and detest the guard who’s following us like a tail. We take a U-turn and keep on walking. I am drawing smoke from the same spot her lips touched moments ago, and in a rather unconventional way, it does feel like kissing. As I’m relishing the evanescent taste of her mouth on the brown tip, she pirouettes and gives the guard a spectacular display of her middle finger. I am blank and confused and awestruck and terrified. But that’s the normal psychological state when you’re with her. The guard stares at us and I tell Heer to run.

“No need to run. HE’S A FUCKING STALKER. “She says and I’m ready to sprint, but the guard is only staring at us, expressionlessly, so we cancel running and simply assume he is a zombie, and float away.

“This is the principal’s house. “I point to K/95 and she paces up.

“Oh no! I’m dead if he sees us. “She speaks in hushed undertones.

“He won’t. Only the guard will. “I say as I peer at the armed guard who also has the longest moustache I’ve ever seen in real life.

“Damn! “She says as her steps are hastier than before.

“What? ”

“The guard. He was at school, you remember? ”

“He sits at gate number 3 nowadays. What about him? ”

“He sits there because of us. Umm..we were late one day. One of my friends flashed a hundred rupee note before his eyes and he grabbed it and let us enter. Well, I recorded it on my phone. And then, I blackmailed him. I always reached school late, and then one day, he disappeared. ”

“Poor guy. That’s so wrong. ”

“That’s not. He is a corrupt man. He deserved it. ”

I do not say anything. I feel sorry for the guard but I don’t want to discuss morality and ethics on a cigarette date. Also, Heer could nuke an entire continent and I’d still love her with same passion. As we’re about to enter the E/16 street, I see a familiar gigantic homo sapien trudging towards us. He is Lord Evans. THE FUCK!

“Shit! Run! “I say, and we wheel and run. He has already spotted us though. But anyway, we keep running.

“Why are we running? “She asks, panting.

“Lord Evans. ”

“What the hell was he doing there?”She says, exasperated and baffled.

“There is an empty house there. We go there and click pictures and make scary videos of the place. ”

“He didn’t see us, right? ”

“He did. I’m so screwed. Let’s go somewhere else. NOP. ”

She nods and then, we go to NOP. We watch the famous Haunted guest house, buy chewing gums, sit at a bench, take selfies, share the silence, feel weird and leave together.

On the way, she asks,
“What after tomorrow? ”

And all of a sudden I am just an empty space.

“Seventy more days to go. ” She reminds.

I know. And I know it won’t be the same after she leaves. I’m suddenly enveloped in this gloomy shroud of sadness. People leave, after all. I don’t know how to stop her. You can’t deceive time. It’s just not in your hands. I don’t want to lose her, but today’s warm moments will be blisters tomorrow, and they’ll pinch and hurt and stay. So I don’t want to say anything. I’m already missing her, and I know I’ll miss her more when it ends. That’s the theory Einstein won’t give you – the closer you get, the worse you break. I don’t want to break, I’m scared. Moreover, we are playing roles, so maybe I’ll have to be careful and hold my emotions before they begin to fly high.

“We’ll see. ”

The smoke fills my heart. I’m just ash.

She doesn’t say anything. I don’t have the guts to. So we leave it there, the question of tomorrow, floating in the streets, rustling in the breeze, looking for something, somewhere, some time…..


Cigarette Date #3 : The Plane

Third part…💕


Hi. “She says.

I mouth a faint hi and hand over the wrapped book to her.

She looks beautiful in black. And she’s saying something that it was unnecessary and all, but I fake deafness and we start for our second walk. As always, I ask her to get to my left, because left is safer, and she responds with a

“What’s the point? “. Then, she gets to my left.

I don’t have a place in my mind. She decides for Airport road and I am fine with it. I mean she could have chosen a mortuary and I’d have been fine with it. Places don’t matter when the company does. I nod and we start walking.

“Did I tell you that I’m scared of crossing roads? “She says as we reach the two-lane. We have to get to the other side to catch an auto.

“I’m not. Don’t worry just follow me. “I lie as we begin traversing the wide lane, vehicles zooming along at super sonic speed. Our father in the heaven. May your holy name be honored. Please save my ass from getting squashed.

“You are, like, the worst ever pedestrian in this world. I mean if people were ranked on the basis of road crossing skills, you’ll be the only person with legs to not make it into the list. “She says as she stops in the middle of the road, letting the bike pass. Who does that?

“Well, my horoscope says I’ll die in a road mishap. “I shrug. She rolls her eyes. I want to tell her that she looks kind of cute when she does that.

We hail an auto and set off to Birsa Chowk. She shows me some hot chicks on the way and I don’t know whether to feel excited or dubious about it. You can never risk your character with girls. As my mother says, they’re expert in setting traps. I pretend that I’m asexual and gaze at the hoardings. Then she starts showing me hot chicks on the hoardings. And at last, I have to admit that the poster featuring Sunny Leone was really hot. She knits her eyebrows and pouts her lips and pretends to be angry. I get sweaty palms just by the realisation that I’m in the same auto as she is. I don’t know what to say. How do you react when someone pretends to be angry? Like do you play on, or just apologise? Why the fuck does our school curriculum teach us about tec-fucking-tonic plates when what we really need to know is brow behaviour and pout analysis?

We have to cross a couple of roads when we reach Birsa Chowk and after we are done, I feel like that’s enough for a day’s adventure. Anyways, Birsa Chowk has traffic lights and traffic police and gleaming roads and dazzling shops. It’s the first time I’m here and it looks great.

“We have to walk from here. 2 kilometers. ”

2 what!!??? The last time I walked this long, I was a dinosaur.

“Okay. “I say. I guess 2 kilometers is a walk-able distance. She wouldn’t suggest that otherwise.

“When you’re with me, you can’t pause. Just keep walking. With me. “She says.

We cross the road again and this time she is convinced about my incapability to cross the road. I remind her of my horoscope and she doesn’t comment whatever she was going to. And then, we walk, and talk.

Airport Road is maintained like a national treasure, unlike the roads in my hometown where most of the asphalt is covered with cowdung, horseshit, or red spittle. Airport Road looks like they mop it every day with Lizol. The street lamps remind me of movies. It looks like a highway. There are small trees lined up between two lanes, the shrub beneath them fluttering in the breeze.

The population goes on diminishing as we go further. The sky is beautiful now, an ethereal mix of red and blue. There’s Venus shining bright above us, and a few stray stars, and then, the streetlights sparkle the road. I listen to distant cacophony of humanity, fading away, slowly, as we amble towards a quieter part of the earth. We’re doing what we always do – she’s talking and I’m listening. She’s telling me about her last visit to this place. More than the content, her voice is what hooks me. The sound of she speaking is what soothes my troubled soul. It feels like a scene from some Nicholas Sparks novel, only that we are not forty years old divorced loners.

“Where’s the cigarette? Show it to me. “She’s suddenly excited and I don’t want to ruin it, but I don’t want to pull it out of my pocket in full public view either. A bald guy has been following us for a long time. Maybe he works for some espionage organisation.

“I’ll. Let’s find a place first. “I suggest.

“Okay. Keep my phone in your pocket. I don’t have one. “She says. I adjust her gigantic phone in my pocket, and now I feel heavier by twenty kilograms. She goes on talking about her adventures from std. 3 to right now, which is one hell of a collection. I’m also scared for her, because this place has, like, a million eve-teasers, which is not fair in any way. I don’t want people to comment on her.

“Hmm..this. “I pull the Goldflake and show it to her. Her eyes grow bigger and her face brightens up. She takes it from me, fiddles with it and then gives it back.

“Open the pack. “She says. I obey. She smiles.

“Where shall we smoke?” I ask. She’s not sure either. I don’t want to smoke here and get into trouble.

“What time is it? “She asks.

“6:19. “I check on my phone.

We see a bench and she asks,
“Will it be okay to smoke there? ”

For some weird reason, that bench did not look romantic at all.

“I don’t think so. It looks eerie. ”

“Umm..where then? ”

It’s been some time and we cannot reach a decision. And we haven’t seen any plane either.

“How about we go back? Try smoking at the Dibdi bridge. “I suggest.

“Seeee!!!!! Plane!!!! “She almost squeals as we watch a gigantic airship take off and zoom away. The sky is the colour of my uncle’s desktop wallpaper. The crescent moon looks like a silvery arch drawn in the middle of it.

“Look at the sky! Prussian blue. I haven’t seen it anywhere except in paintings. “She almost screams with joy. Yeah. The sky is a magic. And so is she.

As the plane disappears, we trudge back, her voice in my ears, the cold Goldflake in my pocket, and her favorite sky gleaming blue behind us.


Cigarette Date#2 : The Preparation

The second installment of a roller coaster ride…💣💣💣


As we were whatsapping, I told Heer about my failed attempt at being an author. Nevertheless, she got excited about it and wanted a copy, but I swore that I’d discarded the manuscript and forgotten the plot. It was so bad. She didn’t believe my lies and asked me to at least tell her the synopsis. I told her it was about a boy with a dead mother visiting his village to attend a marriage and in a series of (not so) spectacular events, ends up finding his soulmate, a girl with a dead mother. Heer pointed out that dreamlike, forever love stories do not suit the twenty first century, and also, teenagers do not fall in love like adults. Sometimes, the distinction between Heer and Doctor becomes a blur. I should forget Doctor. She’s a thing of past. Almost.

“Real love is more flawed.”she texted. The discussion stretched and we kept talking about love and ambitions and writing and books. Do you ever get bored talking about books?

Heer : so, what kind of story do you want?
Me : something I could turn into a page turner. Something that I would store and read over and over. Something which is mind blowing as hell.
Heer : does it have to have a girl too?
Me : yeah, a girl would be amazing.
Heer : I have a plan.
Me : tell me about it.
Heer : Let’s make a story.
Me : A what?
Me : I mean..as in?
Me : Write together?
Heer : No. Live a story together.
Me : are you sure you are not kidding? Because I am thinking about the possibilities.
Heer : I am serious. Are you on?
Me : Damn it! My heart beats like bongo drums.


My alarm clock bursts into an ear-deafening Walk in the Forest ringtone, and with a throbbing head and a pair of stinging eyes, I remove the blanket and dismiss the alarm. It’s 4:25 pm. And I have a date at 5:15. Cigarette Date.

Okay, so how it happened was like this. I thought growing up required one essential component called experience. The world is less familiar unless you do stuffs. I always knew what a cigarette looks like, what it’s made of, what it feels like when you put it between your lips, how it smells, how it tastes, how to blow smoke, when to go for a biopsy. I had every bit of information of a cigarette and the journey of its smoke from the first time it entered your lungs to the time it left you dead. But the very fact that I never had it made me thirsty. Like, Henry the navigator who never actually navigated a ship. You see, it’s a deep philosophical shit you’d find on Ted-ed. If you can imagine all the world from a tiny little dorm, is it fair to say you have seen all the world?

These questions buzz at the top of a teenager’s head and so I decided to give smoking a shot. When I told Heer about this great revelation, she got all pumped up and that’s how it happened – a cigarette date.

I squint my eyes, shake my head and yawn and jump out of my bed, giddy and ditzy and anemic. If it were not for a date with Heer, I’d have skipped my own coronation and slipped back to my cozy blanket and dozed till eternity. I trudge to the washroom, turn the tap on and splatter the icy cold water across my face, wondering if I am sick or just keyed up. I am nervous, I decide, and the thing I’m feeling inside my stomach is butterflies, and not acidity.

I apply some facewash and rinse my ugly face in the sheer hope that it’d shift at least a couple of places in the Fitzpatrick scale and she won’t refuse to recognize me as we see each other. Damn! Couldn’t I have a better face!? I was not asking for a Tom Cruise mask, a Jigar Modi or a Raman Bhalla would be fine.

I think about the mantra Baba Sexidas (who wasn’t even that sexy, if you ask me) had once shared with me. That sentence – You’re Fucking Awesome! Yeah! I am fucking awesome. I have won a watch in DTSE, my IQ score is 129, my drawings (okay, only some of them) cross 50 likes on facebook, and I am going on a date with one of the most amazing things I’ve encountered in my seventeen years. I must be fucking awesome!

I tiptoe back to my room, fearing an encounter with my lodgemates. That would be disastrous. They’d gang bang me with questions. I hate questions. But it looks like everybody is snoring or busy jerking off to Mia Khalifa inside his blanket. Better.

I enter the room and a soft piano instrumental fills my eardrums. It’s my ringtone! And it’s Heer. And the call ends right when my index lands on the green icon. Damn!

I call back and when she picks up in the last gasp of the ringtone, I wallow like a lottery winner. She sounds as if she’s just woken up from her beauty sleep, still on her bed, trying to make sense of this world and my voice. If voice was quantifiable, hers would be twenty times better than Lana Del Rey.

“I’ll start getting ready when you leave your room. “She says.

Yeah right! Girls have to keep boys waiting. It’s something to do with the xx chromosomes. Biology.

Stop complaining. She has beautiful smouldering eyes.


“Okay. “I say. I don’t mind waiting. I am a patient guy. All because of long queues before the school-fee counter in the Union Bank, they can make dragonflies wait.

I’m super excited to meet her, light up the cigarette and blow smoke rings. I glance at the glossy Goldflake Premium packet, and I imagine myself sitting in one of those empty park benches, holding her hand, taking long drags and talking about deep stuffs, the starry sky above us and the wet grass beneath. Like they show in movies.

I play agar tum saath ho in my phone and brush my teeth. For some weird reason, now I like the girl’s part. I put on my favorite, and the only, dress, and comb my hair. I should have bought a hair gel. No, I should have been to a salon. Or maybe gotten a plastic surgery. Sassoon was even offering one at 500 bucks.

I comb my hair in four different styles and take a look at my pocket-sized mirror. My hair looks like a ransacked nest, and the only way she’d go for a date with me is if she were blind. Hell, I’m so horrible that I won’t go on a date with myself. I do my hair again and this time it looks less pathetic. I dig Looking for Alaska out of the bag and grab some change. And a few bucks. And Goldflake.

Outside, it’s a clement weather, not that cold, and the street is joyous with people busy in their jobs. Nothing new, but today feels like a carnival. I clutch the Goldflake tighter in my pocket and make my way to Ajay gift shop, to get the book wrapped and ready.

The fatso owner is busy making some toy-train deal with an agent. He looks more like a cocaine dealer. He looks worse than me and I’m almost overjoyed. So shallow I am! I pick up a Dairy Milk silk and go to the counter.

“Pack this. “I say, carefully keeping the book at the most dustless part of the countertop. He wraps the book deftly, launching frequent inquisitive glances at me. He’s good at his job though, or maybe I think so because I’ve never wrapped a gift myself. I don’t know how to put covers on a book and the last time I tried making an envelope it turned into a weird origami. I remind myself that I am not that stupid. I can name more than 10 literary devices and I know what left-right political spectrum is. So I can date Heer. I can impress her.

With a breath of confidence, I pay and leave. I see people looking at me, and that makes me drop my gaze to the road and walk like a hoodied contract killer after his prey.

Do they know I’ve Goldflake in my pocket? Is it illegal to roam around with a pack of cigarettes? Am I coming in newspapers tomorrow?

Don’t be silly. And stop checking your pocket every next second.

I buy a matchbox and call her.

“I’m out of my room. ”

“Oh, good! I’m going to get ready. “She says.

I walk to our meeting place and observe walls, utility poles, rickshaw pullers, popcorn kiosk, vrooming bikes and random girls for a couple of decades. People are now looking at me with suspicion. I call her.

“I’m almost there. “She says and I say okay. I don’t know why I get so nervous around girls. I mean she isn’t a futunari! Shit, I am speaking in hentai terms. I should stop hanging out with Lord Evans.

She finnnaaallllyyy arrives towards the beginning of the 22nd century and I’m almost old and rheumatic by then and they have started teleporting humans and Saath Nibhana Saathiya has reached its finale episode. I look at her and then I look away, because, looking at a girl has a catastrophic affect on a boy’s heartbeats, and I couldn’t risk a cardiac arrest. Okay, cheese aside, I could fall in love. Well, that’s the law of attraction -you cannot look into a girl’s eyes for too long, you’ll fall in love.


Cigarette Date #1 : The Purchase

The prologue to the first date I’ve been to… 💣💣💣


“HQ watches porn too, can you imagine? That’s so cool! And where are we going exactly? “Lord Evans asks as he vigorously punches texts into his phone. Although he rarely asks questions regarding directions and destinations, I am not particularly excited about answering it. Oh wait, did he just say HQ watches porn? For those of you who don’t know, HQ is his half-girlfriend.

“Seriously! Which genre? “I ask, wondering if Heer would appreciate the Gabriella Hall softcore I’d sent her a few hours ago. It wasn’t me, she’d asked for it, categorically. I felt so proud, like a physicist being asked about centrifugal force by this kid in the neighborhood. I sent her the best one I had. It took me like twenty years but that’s the most beautiful waiting period I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in a womb.

“I didn’t prod further. I was sort of..umm..bamboozled. ” Lord Evans says.

Bamboozled. He is learning new words on this Merriam Webster app he’d downloaded from playstore.

“If you told me it’s Hentai, I’d laugh like Chrysippus. ”

“Dude, Hentai is the best thing that happened to porn. “He frowns as I supress a chuckle, “You didn’t tell me where we are going. ”

“To a kiosk that sells cigarettes. “I exhale at the end of the sentence, to let it dawn upon him.

His eyes bulge as if he’s just been shown his adoption certificate.

You see, I’m a good guy with a great track record. I don’t even sip tea, let alone the thought of filling my lungs with tar and other poisonous compounds. My idea of adventure reaches its maxima with skipping a day’s school homework. But I’ve sort of promised Heer and nothing would break my heart so irreparably as shitting over my only chance to initiate an immortal love story.

“Whaaatt!!??”Lord Evans turns to face me.

“Yeah. ”

“But why? ”

“Because I’ve to buy cigarettes. “I say, unfazed.

“And why do you have to buy cigarettes? ”

“I want some experiences in life. Kind of to-do list. ”

“The fuck! Does Hymen have your naked pics? Has he blackmailed you into buying his stash? “He asks with such seriousness that it makes me laugh. Hymen is a good lad in the lodge. He’s sort of a casanova, and he smokes a lot.

“Are you dying? “He throws me another question. I’m sick of questions. I like Heer’s company better. She doesn’t ask questions, except if her hair is looking really bad.

“Yeah. Everybody is dying – says John Green. ”

“Why cigarettes all of a sudden? “He quizzes, his baffled gaze frozen over me.

“Fuck you. You ask so many questions. ”

“Let’s smoke after 6th. Mummy won’t be here then. “He suggests.

“You are not going to smoke. I am. ”

“Why? ”

“Because you don’t want to. You’re going to do it just because you don’t want me to be alone in this. You love me. I always knew you’d a gayish affection for me. ”

“That’s the most incoherent piece of shit I’ve heard in my seventeen years. And I’ve heard Vince McMahon groan for dear life. “He says as we reach Satellite Road, the place where you get the kiosks and the witches.

I have no idea why Satellite Road is named that, but it’s one of the best places you’d be at a winter dusk. Clean road flanked by lush trees, a highway at a distance, tiny kiosks selling petty stuffs and a bridge on which trundled trains every half an hour; and a waning sun. I wish they show this place in Dhoni’s biopic.

There’s one kiosk, dim lit and small, just by the small dhaba where RP, Lord Evans and I used to have samosas almost every next day. RP is probably thinking about hocruxes in Bhardwaj Classes right now. It’s good in a way as he’d have demanded explanations.

Buying cigarettes isn’t like buying Whisper, is it? I mean does the shopkeeper give you looks?

“Alright, this is scary. Fascinating but scary. I hope you know smoking causes cancer. And also, your testicles shrink to the size of pea nuts. And your penis recedes to two inches. “Lord Evans states in clear warning tones.

“What. Ever. ”

“I am not accompanying you to the shop. “He stops. I’m sort of annoyed at his cowardice. If you’re scared of centipedes, it’s understandable but he didn’t have to be a pain in the ass everytime I decided to discover uncharted waters.

“You are such a wuss. ”

“Man, this is risky. Are you sure? “He looks at me like a scared rat. I wonder if he’s really 6 feet 4 inches tall or just wearing invisible high heels.

I ignore his musings and walk upto the shop -my heart beating like a gladiator’s drum roll – and take a good look at the stacks of cigarettes kept in a small rack. There are a few male teenagers on my right, engaged in banters, blowing smoke clouds like pros. Maybe I should seek their help. No, they could be sodomisers for all I know.

I drag some air in my lungs and look at the shop keeper. His face shines like plastic, his moustaches are stiff and his eyes have spikes in them. He’s the bad guy they show on Fox Crime. I swallow.

Remember this, speak from your belly, I advise myself.

“Give me a goldflake. “I speak in a coarse, confident voice, pretending to be a regular smoker. I must be good at acting, as he seems to believe me. He tosses a goldflake towards me, which dances in my hands before dropping to the ground. He casts another cold look and I feel like calling 100.

“Is it a mild one or a strong one? “I ask, picking up the packet and looking for signs that’d suggest the level of toxicity in it.

“I don’t know. I don’t smoke. “He says. Now that’s something. He looks at me disdainfully, as if I am a pest.

I pay him and leave with the Goldflake, and Lord Evans is staring at me in utter disbelief.

“Are you going to tell me or what? “He asks.

“What? “I ask rhetorically.

“Why cigarettes all of a sudden? ”

“There are many more things to do. ”

“Have you watched a movie recently? “He gazes at me through his frameless Crizal lenses.

“Rockstar. ”

“Holy shit. “He rolls his eyes.


Safarnama : Qutub Minar #1

The prologue to the Qutub Minar visit.


It had been pouring all morning. The rain pelted down like Spartan arrows, and as whatsapp texts swore, the lower half of Shyam Lal College was already drowned. Some of my friends though, despite the torrent, had travelled all the way from Rohini and Nangloi to Shahdra to attend college, but now they sat with sullen faces, playing Balloon Pop in their generous smartphones, waiting for the rain to go ebb away.

the rain…

Rohit dropped in at around 10 am, followed by two more people. We set up the chessboard and played a few boring games. It was decided that we would take a day off, but sitting idle only wakes up the wanderlust inside Rohit, and so, he came up with this great idea,

“Let’s go somewhere. Qutub Minar? ”

It took me some time to make up my mind. Lazybones! After I prepared myself for a long drenched day, I started calling everyone. A few of them said it was pouring in buckets and they hated rain and everybody should hate rain because rain brings flood and that we should drop our plans. As you know, every adventure comes with a bout of hitches. There were plenty in this one too.

Two of them didn’t have a metro card, so, as we reached Welcome Metro station, we went upto this vending machine to get the tokens. They put the money in and waited for the tokens to drop.  But the machine was a bit of a runt – it won’t take anything but fresh crisp notes. Some billion light years later, it took pity on us and accepted the note. But didn’t release the tokens. 

“What the fuck! “They shouted together. The screen promised that it was processing the transaction, so we stood by, waiting patiently, wondering if it was Mishra that should be blamed for the ordeal. Mishra is a jinx – once he had accompanied us to the zoo and it turned out that they kept it closed on Fridays. 

“That’s not fair. “Mishra protested. “You should have known zoos are closed on Friday. ”

Nobody believed him. 

The crowd behind us was growing fretful with time. 

We called the staff and he pretended to study the screen carefully. 

“There’s a countdown. “He pointed at the upper right corner of the screen where infinitesimal numbers were decreasing every second. “Wait for it to finish. ”

And so, we waited. It was just a 90 second wait, but when you have a digital clock making you aware of the existence of every single second, the wait becomes a billion years long. The tokens dropped back, eventually. And we took the train and reached Kashmiri Gate at around 12:00pm. 

There, we met Shivam, and as the train arrived, we jostled through the crowed to bag a seat. Three of us got the seats, one being Mishra. It was a long journey, so we spent it playing the game How-Jinxed-Mishra-Is? Everybody started throwing their ideas, and somebody said Mishra is such a jinx that when he visits a haunted house, the ghosts rush to the priests to get themselves cleansed with Holy Water.

On the way, it started raining again. The train stopped at a bridge, from where all we could see were wet lush green trees and a dense valley, and it seemed we had been teleported to a hillstation.

the panoramic view from the train…


It was a beautiful stillness, and the only thing that budged was raindrops on the window pane.

all we could see was green…

 The train started again, and the rain grew stronger by the time we stepped onto the platform. We clicked a few selfies on the metro, and then exited the station. We waited outside for some time,waiting for it to go slow, but it never did. 

“Maybe we should take an auto. “Hemant suggested. I didn’t know of a way to fit 7 people in an auto, so I wondered if one of us will have to sit on the lap of one of us. When I was a kid, I sat in a jeep on the lap of this uncle of mine. A few seconds later, I felt something hard beneath my butts. (No I wasn’t raped). I hate to sit on men’s lap since that day, though. 

outside the metro….

We waited for some time, and when the rain slowed down, Mishra walked out and we followed him. It was a mistake, because seventeen steps later, it started sheeting down. We ran, completely deficient of a strategy. I was sure we were running for an auto, or some cover, but a minute later, I realised we had left behind all the autos and were still galloping aimlessly down the road for some heavenly reason. 

“What are we doing? “I screamed.

“Following Mishra. “Shivam shrugged his shoulders. 

A minute later, Mishra stopped beneath a small tree. Everybody else stopped as well. I peered out into the distance, wondering if we had reached the Qutub Minar. Was Mishra jinxed enough to displace Qutub Minar from its place?  Mishra looked at us in utter confusion, we looked at each other in utter confusion. 

“What the hell just happened? “I asked. 

“Were you guys following me? “Mishra asked, baffled. “I was just looking for a shelter. “He explained. I was so apoplectic I felt like punching Mishra. I ran for cover, and everybody followed me this time. People are fool, they will follow you for anything. 

We found a shelter, a roof above a flight of steps, and sat there, watching the rain come down like magic, dipping the world in lush green. 

The board above us read – Sulabh Shauchalaya

To be continued