Rat Killers

black binoculars

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Abhay jumped down from the window sill and ran. “No… don’t take left, take right, its darker there,” Purvi whispered into his ear. “You idiot, if we get caught, I will put all the blame on you. Now stop running and duck in the dark corner of building A.” Abhay lost it all and shouted, “stop your running commentary in my earpiece and get into action, distract Muchchad Singh while I finish the rest of the job.” Purvi giggled and jumped off from her perch. She loved harassing Abhay when they were in the middle of their crime weeding expeditions.

Abhay and Purvi are a retired, middle-aged couple. Retired from both work and raising kids. Both their boys had gone off to college and they had taken an early retirement from their fast-paced professions – Abhay from international crime reporting for a leading news channel and Purvi from her post of special senior analyst at RAW (Research & Analysis Wing, India).

The initial retirement days they thought were bliss, no rush for office and last-minute official trips. No boys to run after and take care of. But retirement started feeling like jail since they craved for excitement and intellectual stimulation.  One evening, Purvi, the more dramatic of the two, came up with the idea of neighborhood crime fighting. She even came up with a name for their operation – “Rat-Killing”. Abhay was a little skeptical at first, but once they started researching their neighborhood, he was as excited as Purvi.

Abhay and Purvi lived in a huge gated-community housing 20 plus condominiums. To observe the families and people around them, they began their research by taking evening and morning walks in their compound. In order to get the stories of the people around them, Purvi befriended the maid servants and dhobi, while Abhay befriended the security guards and the grocer in their community.  And soon, within just a month, they had their first case. Purvi had just found out from her maid that Mr. Bunty Ahluwalia had probably beaten up his wife, because Mrs. Preeti Ahluwalia had some bruising on her shoulder which she was trying to hide with her sari. Purvi, had met Preeti a few times in the lift and always thought of Preeti as a sweet, docile lady.

Purvi decided to do a little snooping on her own, so she quickly baked a cake and went to Preeti’s apartment. Preeti was surprised to see Purvi at her doorstep, but before Preeti could say anything, Purvi entered the house and started off, “Hello Mrs. Ahluwalia. How are you doing? I was in a baking mood today and so I baked a few cakes. Your Chintu likes cakes, he was telling in the lift the other day, so thought I’ll bring him one.” As she perched on the sofa she noticed the hesitation on Preeti’s face but ignored it and continued her chatter until Preeti was comfortable and opening up. Just like any mother, Preeti was engrossed in singing praises of her kids and so didn’t notice Purvi’s keen eyes taking stock of her tired and disheveled appearance. As Preeti went into the kitchen to get some snacks, Purvi followed her and knowingly bumped into her, dislodging her sari. Purvi immediately saw the red welts on Preeti’s shoulder and asked, “Oh my! What happened to your shoulder?” Preeti was flustered, she quickly covered up her shoulder and brushed aside Purvi’s query with some innocuous answer.

This was all the confirmation Purvi needed. The Rat-Killers spent the next couple of weeks befriending the Ahluwalias and researching them some more. While Purvi worked her magic on Preeti, Abhay found reasons such as sports and jogging to bond with Bunty. Abhay found out about Bunty’s temper and ultra-traditional outlook by chatting with the grocer. Abhay and Purvi decided to put into motion the final step of their plan.

One early morning, when Bunty was jogging in the park, Abhay followed him at a distance. As he was about to step out of the shadows, he spotted Muchchad Singh – the milkman and contacted Purvi on his ear-piece and asked her to leave her binoculars and come quickly to distract Muchchad Singh. Once the milkman was out of the way, Abhay resumed his watch on Bunty and waited for him to reach the lonely corner of the park, where he covered Bunty with a blanket, beat him up nicely and stole his iPhone to make it look like a robbery. Bunty was shocked, but couldn’t do anything except limp home with a huff.

Fifteen minutes after Bunty reached home, Abhay and Purvi went to their house. As soon as Preeti opened the door, Abhay started huffing and puffing, and with great panache presented the iPhone to Preeti. They went inside the house and on the pretext of helping out Bunty, they gave him a good lecture on how he should treat the incident as God’s admonishment for his past sins and be thankful that he was alive.


New Chapter

New chapter

I was happily chugging along with a well-balanced work-life and a beyond-my-imagination fun marriage, when suddenly one fine day, I found myself at the threshold of a new chapter.

While, I’d been anticipating, or rather badly hoping and praying for a while to see that second blue line on the stick, the day it actually happened I couldn’t believe it. Did a blood test to be a 100% certain and then only went for a celebratory, yum Kerala-style breakfast (celebration styles are limited at a time like this!)

Its been a few months since I’ve crossed the threshold and embarked on this new journey. Like every other event in life – going to college, my post-grad, falling in love, that first job,  getting married – this event is also not at all what I anticipated or rather dreaded. God and my “potlu” (my nickname for the yet to arrive package aka potlu) has been very kind and loving to me. My life’s barely changed and I’ve become happier instead of moodier. (I’ll reserve the details of my journey for another blog post.)

But to conclude, I’d like to leave a small piece of advice for all the girls yet to begin this new chapter. This journey is not at all as life-altering as we all dread, just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, rather than social pressure. For me, its come at a time, when I was ready and already making unconscious and subtle changes to my lifestyle. And, I just fell in step with it, just like the other major transition of my life – going from being single to being married.

To live and to reminisce

There’s always that one point in time, when nostalgia overpowers the present.

There’s always a day, when you can kick back and reminisce about the days/years gone by.

But there should never come a time, when past is all you live in and think about.

You’re very fortunate if you’ve had a past you love to reminisce about.

But count your blessings and move on to live in today,

So that you can make many more memories to reminisce about tomorrow.

The closet undoing, Majnu style!


It was going to be the Sunday from hell, Minie had just woken up and was dragging her feet to kitchen when she spied her mom on one of her cleaning sprees.

As soon as she saw the ominous blue duster heading her way, she ducked under the kitchen table but not in good time. Arunima saw her and shouted, “Minie, don’t hide from me. No games today and no movies either, freshen up and then get to cleaning your room.” Minie was no kid, she was in junior college and so very smartly, after extracting a promise of pizza dinner and movie marathon in return for the cleaning, Minie went up.

Minie generally kept her room clean so it just took her half hour to straighten out her book shelf and table and then grudgingly she took up the mammoth task of arranging her wardrobe. She put on some music and started taking out all the haphazard and scruffy piles of clothes onto her bed. She then proceeded to create neat piles of often worn clothes, seldom worn and ones to be discarded. As she laid the last pile, an idea formed in her head.  She immediately looked at the clock and called out to her mom, “Ma, can I call Riya to lunch?”

With her mom’s permission she proceeded to call her neighbor and best friend Riya, “Rii!!! Come home quick, tell aunty you’ll have lunch at our place. I have a fun idea, come ultra soon, OK. Bye”

While waiting for Riya, Minie started preparing a playlist of some of the cheesiest 90’s songs and then she proceeded to sort her pile of discards into two piles. Just as she finished, Riya opened the door and looking at the disarrayed room she shouted, “Oh I see, madam princess was too lazy to do her own dirty work so called me over, that too “ultra quickly”. Right this second explain the mess and guarantee that Arunima aunty wont massacre us.”

Laughing at her terrorized friend, Minie pulled her in and began, “Don’t worry about the neat piles, only the small piles on the floor are of use to us. You see Riya darling, I am discarding these clothes for two reasons: the pile A here is too torn and tattered and the pile B here doesn’t fit me anymore, so I need to give it off.”

“Now for pile A, here, put this on,” saying this she handed one tattered tee to Riya and she herself donned one. Then she turned around and hit the play button and on came, “main laila laila chillaunga kurta fadke.” Riya was still looking lost so Minie said, “I always wanted to tear clothes after listening to this song, ” and she proceeded to rip her tee  into two.

As they ploughed through the pile, one last item Minnie couldn’t tear it off, so Riya came to help. As soon as Riya touched her t-shirt, Minie shouted, with hands on both ears, “Bhagwan k liye, muje chod do. Meri izzat hi mera gehna hai.” The tee forgotten, both friends collapsed on the floor laughing.

Finally, just as Arunima called everyone for lunch, Minie and Riya put the torn pieces into the bin and headed down for lunch. As Namit sat down to eat, he whispered to Minie, “Never seen you so happy after one of the mandatory cleaning sessions. What’s the secret?” Minie cleared her throat and declared, “I just invented the perfect, fun way to enjoy cleaning day.”

Sneaking Out


It was past 2AM, Minie slowly crept out of the bed, quickly stuffed her bag, winked at herself one last time in the mirror and started climbing down the stairs. She had been planning this escape since two days so silently and quickly, she walked past the living room and turned towards the kitchen to jump out of the kitchen window.  She slowly opened the hatch and just as she climbed onto the kitchen counter, her dad quietly said, “Something tells me you are not sleep walking Minie!” She jumped up like a scared kitten and almost fell off the counter.

With no remorse but a goofy smile and mischief in her eyes, Minie turned around and faced her father, “ummm… well dad, I was practicing sneaking out of the house, like they show in the movies!!! I wanted to see if I can manage without waking you guys up. But clearly, I failed.”

Namit replied, “You want me to believe that you are not running away but just practicing. Come on Minie! I’m your dad, give me some credit for wisdom that comes from age, if not for brains.”

“Seriously dad, you can check my bag,” she opened and showed her bag pack, it was stuffed with crumpled newspaper.  Namit just couldn’t help but laugh at that. He pulled out an ice-cream tub from the fridge and father and daughter sat at the counter having ice-cream at 2AM.

“Please don’t tell this to Mom, she will freak out.”

Namit said, “you know that’s not the rule, we never hide anything from each other. In fact, if you were doing this experiment, you should have given us a heads up – ‘Hey mom-dad, I am going to do a movie-style experiment one of these days so please don’t freak out. Once it’s over I will give you the details.’

Minie nodded her head at her father’s logic and said, “Next time, definitely. By the way Paa, how did you wake up, I was extremely quiet, didn’t switch on a single light and nor did I jingle any of wind-chimes on my way down.”

Now it was Namit’s turn to look sheepish and goofy, “Well! I, umm, I modified your old baby monitor and made it into a security device which alerts me of smallest of movements in your room. I only activate it at night and it was meant only to alert us of any intruder in your room.” Minie’s mouth was wide open.

Namit closed it and continued, “So tonight it beeped for the first time and it took me sometime to realize that it’s the security device beeping. By the time I got out of my room, I saw your silhouette inching down the stairs. So I just followed you and waited for the right moment to surprise you!”

Minie couldn’t help but laugh and admire her father’s ingenuity. With the ice-cream polished away, they both went up to their rooms with the promise that they’ll tell the full-story (with all the theatrics) to Mom tomorrow.

Affording Vanity


Jamie looked in the mirror for the tenth time – checked her necktie, her belt, turned around and checked her shirt, she wanted it to be neatly tucked, with just a small pleat falling over her belt. Then she turned back and practiced her smile as she wanted it to be just perfect, neither too forth coming nor too reserved. Finally, satisfied with her appearance, she went to work.

Day by day, the same routine followed. Jamie would get up and meticulously get dressed. She’d take great pains to look perfect, with a neatly ironed dress, elegantly coiffured hair, radiant make-up and of course, the perfectly practiced smile.

For a career receptionist with no other means to support herself, Jamie needed to check her necktie to see if she was modest and presentable. She needed to check her belt regularly to see if the scuffs were covered and she needed to tuck her shirt in perfectly so that the hole in the back wasn’t visible.

You see, vanity is only for those who can afford it.

Burning the candle called “Nostalgia”


My first memory as a living being is a very very faint one, in fact, it’s more like a feeling than a memory – I think I vaguely remember holding my younger sister for the first time. I was a little over 1.5 years old and I have this feeling that when I held her for the first time, I was immensely happy and even more curious, waiting for the sleeping bundle to open her eyes.

For each phase of my growing up, in my mind, I have created these huge memory chests and whenever I’m homesick or low, I open these chests one by one and ensconce myself in this blanket of memories that I’ve woven with love and fun.

One of the biggest and my most favorite chest is the early childhood one. Growing up with a sister who is in the same age group as me was always full of fun games and petty fights. We two were always in a world of our own, always fighting but still inseparable. In school also, though we were one class apart, we did everything together, all my friends were her friends and her friends were mine. All our teachers also knew that we were sisters. In short, we two were a package deal.

I don’t think there’s a single corner in our house where we wouldn’t have played. We’d dance around in the puja room or there was telephone there so the fake telephone call game. Then at times, we’d jump around in the kitchen or squish in the tiny window seat there and just talk nonsense or go to the attic and make up some games. Most evenings we’d just run around on the terrace chasing each other or playing thikri-dav or riding our tricycle (riding was more like me bullying my sister – I was taller than her, so if she wanted to ride, I’d just lift up the tricycle and never let her ride).

Just like all kids, despite our numerous toys and games, we’d want to play with the stuff growns up use. So our mom use to deliberately leave her talcum powder on the dressing table (everything else was under lock and key). We’d use her old duppattas and put powder and play fashion-show, fashion-show. Or we’d create our own houses from those duppattas and play neighbor-neighbor.

On rainy days we’d simply sit at the window making up hero-heroine chase stories with raindrops or sing the rainy day song “aav re varsad” at the top of our voices till mumma came in and shushed us J

There is a lot more in this treasure trove of memories and every time that I’ve taken this trip down memory lane, I’ve come back to present day desperately missing those simpler times.

That being said, nostalgia is like a candle that we should burn only when there’s darkness. If we keep re-living those days in the hope of capturing them again then we are just setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment. It’s a candle’s fate to burn out some day and when that day comes, you will find yourself lost in darkness where you won’t have enough family or friends to help pull you out because while you were busy living in yesterday, everyone present today was busy going ahead.

And that’s why, while I still try to capture the past when I meet my sister, I have learnt to have fun on my own too. When I’m by myself in the house, I dance like crazy on some random songs (sometimes even without any music). Or when I’m at the gym, I think of silly silly things that I can do with my sister or my husband (most of the women in my gym think I’m crazy because most of the time I’m starring in the mirror and smiling at myself). Most weekends, my husband and I, we play silly games and laugh like children over small small things. Sometimes, I call over all the kids in my neighborhood and we play cards or color/color or all sorts of kiddie games.

Among the many vows I’ve taken in life and all new-year resolutions I’ve taken so far, I can proudly say that I’ve stuck to one of them – playing all kinds of games and laughing over silly things. I’d like to play more often but being a grown up (by my birth date I am one but one can debate its accuracy till kingdom come:)), I can’t just act like a kid all the time.