Mannequins in the coffee shop (fiction)

Unhappiness is never knowing what could have happened. What if? What if I were braver? What if the music was not that distracting? What if it was not closing time yet? What if time could stand still or turn back at my will?

What if the bad memories just faded away and only the version of you and me that remained was the one we mutually liked?

We would become mannequins, empty shells with fake emotions endlessly repeating what the other liked until one of us finally chose to move on. We would be happy for a while but it would be fleeting for both you and I are actually quite fond of change although we do protest it. In our plastic bodies all dressed to please each other, we would be uncomfortable and feel trapped. You would grow weary of my sarcasm and I would learn your mannerisms and mock them- for that is what I do.
You would tell me of adventures I had never been part of and share anecdotes more exciting than are friendly and loving tête a tête.  And I would be mad but patiently listen… for our conversations are always one sided. We talk, but we would not absorb. Plastic is that way.

Soon our unhappiness would start to show with forced motions forming jarring memories, and metallic emotions that we would learn to despise. The shiny happy people from technicolor movies who adored polaroids and brunches would realise their lives were like a daily soap on the telly that they escaped from in their perfect little coffee shop. This coffee shop.
This make shift home away from home where company was pleasing but cold and coffee was sweet but expensive.

They would soon despise each other, these fantasy versions of us. Yet you are perfect the way I picture you. I need to broaden my mind you say… You are the loveliest version of yourself when you are with me… Or is that just me projecting on this empty chair.

I am haunted by those memories. This coffee shop brings out the worst in me. I will not come here again I tell myself. I tip, I leave. Its is colder outside. Or maybe its an after effect of an operation. A surgical procedure where memories of you are being taken away. I can never come here again.


Diagon Alley, no longer safe!!

We all know I would be in Slytherin. Lets not be weird about it.

I merely wanted to point out my article in the Daily prophet yesterday. It relates to the recent mapping of Diagon alley on Google Streetview.

Diagon Alley is no longer safe!!

The wizarding world has been in a right state of uproar these last few days when it came to our notice that a Muggles have managed to breach the previously impenetrable charms placed upon Diagon Alley and posted a unique view of it on their mass communication network called- the internet. The ministry of magic was at first reluctant to provide details, but the sordid state of affairs seems to have left them with egg on their face! With one of our secrets so easily unraveled, the wizarding community is asking- are we ever going to be safe from the muggles?

The first sign of trouble was when earlier last month there were hushed reports that the Accidental Magical reversal Squad being dispatched to Diagon Alley to handle a suspected breach when a group of Muggles wearing what was described as ‘very muggle’ clothing with the words ‘Google’ inscribed on them had chanced upon the Leaky Cauldron. It was later revealed that they had also entered Diagon Alley and taken several pictures. While the barman Tom remains unavailable for questioning, the Daily Prophet was able to gather details from respected citizen Mundungus Fletcher.

‘Yes, came right in they did! Had strange equipment and kept smiling at everyone. I think it was Tom that had let em in in Diagon Alley you know. And these ‘Google’ guys just seemed to be taking pictures’

Mr. Fletcher later recalls he became suspicious when he noticed that the Googler’s didn’t seem to carry wands and the pictures they took had no moving characters. A sure sign that they were muggles.

‘Put me in a right state that did! I suspected they were muggles right from the start see? And then all this nonsense! And now Diagon Alley can be seen by all the Muggles on this internet thing! It should be right off to Azkaban for poor old Tom, betraying our secrets like that. Poor bloke. He was the decent sort. A bit thick in the head if you ask me.”

Muggle expert and the retired head of the department for the misuse of Muggle artifacts office Arthur Weasley commented that the memory charm placed on the Muggle Googlers when they were escorted from the leaky cauldron failed as they were wearing ‘Ray-Bans’ He also said that while the devices they used to take pictures were indeed wiped clean, the pictures were already on the cloud! We have been lax with our security measures! We must not underestimate the Muggles! We must not underestimate Google!’

Ministry officials declined to comment on Mr. Weasley’s accusations. They instead released a comment stating that every precaution shall be taken to prevent such breaches in the future and has urged the public to remain calm.

‘It is our opinion that this is an isolated incident and that the activities of ‘these Google guys’ will not bring about any harm to our way of life’

Are the ministry being naïve? Are they covering something up? The daily prophet, and I, your correspondent Rahul Mishra will continue to investigate!

Walter Moers – Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures – REVIEW

Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures (Zamonia, #3)Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Walter Moers is a story teller.
Not a novelist, not a brilliant literary genius… he is a story teller. His genius is in spinning a yarn and ensuring you are hooked. He may have ADHD, the way he keeps changing track and tells stories about each character, each city, each historical event… and through all of it he holds your interest. I’d say carrot on the stick, but I never really wanted the book to end!

Rumo, a wolperting- which is a half dog, half deer- and his journey through the land of Zamonia to find Rala (his silver thread…) his encounters with the copper killers, his journey through ‘Hel’, his talking sword… see? the book has all the ingredients to make the perfect/awesome bedtime story. And it does not disappointing.

And its mature to!
Dont be fooled by the cover and the illustrations and the funny name… i mean really? the hero of this land is called Rumo? a talking dog with deer horns? But this is not a children’s book, its dark at times… very dark. I’m talking Torture chamber’s, blood dripping from the ceiling… horror stories!! But it is also one of the best books in its genre of ‘fantasy-fiction-for-all’ that I have read.
Think of the princess bride… with better imagination!

A must read.

View all my reviews

The last letter…

Dear Cassie,

I cannot tell you how much joy reading your letter brings to me. It has been a while since we last spoke and our lives have taken us to different parts of the world. I have kept track of your moments, but in the interim years, events have been… life has not been kind.

Allow me to first apologize. I ask your forgiveness in the hope that you will understand the reason for not contacting you. I am sorry you had to hear of my ailment through others. You are right to feel hurt, but please, do not think that the act of not telling you of my maladies was a sign of any distance, or some coldness between us. You knew me- it is fair to say- at my best and I believe in some small corner of my mind, I wanted to spare you the misery of knowing what cards life has dealt me…

It is true what you have heard, these are last days of my life. The constant smell of sickness around my being and the sympathetic smiles, dried tearful eyes of my loved ones and the dreadful tick of the clock as it counts down to whatever comes next, unwavering in its resolve to be accurate to the last hour… minute… second… is haunting indeed.

You ask me how this happened… and at times I question that myself. As my body crumbles and the poison of chelation runs through me- the truths of my life are laid bare. There is little that matters in the end- not my possessions, not the house… not even my education in which I took so much pride. None of it held any significance when I took toll of what I had done with my years and what I was to face now. I even turned to God, to ask for forgives and ask him the same question you ask me now- how did this happen… but no answers…

But my dear friend, reading you letter today really does take me back… our days in university… the days we would spend arguing over the color and arrangements of the flowers and the theme of the ball we organized. Our planning, our execution was brilliant. I have been flicking through the album all morning reliving that day, it was perfect- you see? It really was. And there are countless such moments. So many movies, so many melodies that remind me of you. Those were such lovely memories and I feel truly blessed to have experienced them with you.

Your Friend.

In case you are curious, this is one of the letters that a character ‘writes to his friend when she enquires about his illness. The letter is part of a work of fiction I had started to write a while back- an unfinished, abandoned work (titled e.c.l.i.p.s.e in case you are wondering)

I have no idea why I am posting it here- perhaps because I strangely was moved reading it again… as I hope you will be when reading it.

The story of the confused rabbit

The Rabbit had always held a high opinion of himself. He was fast, he was diligent when he needed to be. He could always get his work done on time. Among other rabbits too he generally considered to be a legend. Rabbit often joked that he could easily live of sponsorship deals and the money he made on the track if he kept this up for just a few more days. This was all before the Tortoise came to town.

The Tortoise wore a red bandana and could often be seen out of his shell doing push-ups in the park. It was said that he had once raced a rabbit along the length of the river and won. The Tortoise when questioned declined to comment. He simply looked away and whispered ‘stories often have a hidden meaning’. Well Very Zen of him thought the rabbit. There was no way this tortoise could defeat him. So one morning he went to the park and challenged him to a race. The Tortoise initially declined, he smiled and continued with his push-ups. The rabbit however challenged him again and said he would not leave unless the Tortoise accepted. A small crowd had gathered by now and eventually the Tortoise accepted, if only so the rabbits would leave him alone.

The Tortoise chose the route, it would trace the river, across the long bend and finish a full 2 miles away. The Rabbit at first found the distance a little intimidating, but he was confident in his abilities to win. Also, unlike the children’s tale he had read, he was determined not to rest halfway. He would, he decided… pace himself. The second condition the tortoise placed was- ‘no rules other than cross the finish line first’. The Rabbit laughed and accepted. Cross the finish line first, that was exactly what he would be doing!

The day of the race arrived and sure enough, the Rabbit shot off the start at rapid pace. He was going to win! To ensure he could do the entire 2 miles, he conserved energy, but frequently looked behind him… the tortoise was nowhere to be seen. As he reached halfway- at the apex of the bend he started to feel comfortable. The Zen tortoise was still not in view. He kept up the pace and an hour later he arrived at the finish line. He could see a few rabbits there already, undoubtedly they had been here to celebrate. But… more surprisingly… the Tortoise!

How had he done it? This was impossible. The rabbit was confused, his little rabbit brain seemed to convulse under the pressure of strenuous thinking. What manner of magic was this? What had the rabbit missed?

He was huffing and puffing from his ordeal and beads of sweat were forming on his rabbit fur but anger and confusion dominated his mind to the extent that he argued with the other rabbits trying to extract some vital piece of information from them. The other rabbits seemed to be sympathetic, but wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell him what had happened. They kept repeating that the Tortoise had made it a few minutes before him and that he had been soaking wet… and that there were no rules. Eventually the Rabbit confronted the Tortoise. He demanded to know how he had been defeated. The Tortoise pointed at the river and simply said, ‘I swam’

The moral- the weak have their own skills.

(fiction) There are no blue houses.

The knock on the door was exactly at 8. So the kid had waited a full 5 minutes after arriving to build up the courage to knock? Or did he just want to show up exactly on time? Anyway, I picked up my mobile and pretended to talk while opening the door. ‘Yeah that… uh… okay Mike, I will call you back’ saying that I hung up the non-call and smiled. The kid was scrawny looking, I’d call him a nerd but I wasn’t sure of that yet. What was my daughter thinking? The kid stretched out his arm by way of hello, I ignored it.

‘Good evening Mr. Dresden‘

‘Yeah, Hi… Ryan right?’

‘Yes Sir, I am here for…’

‘Yeah yeah, I know why you are here. Come inside. She will be down in a few minutes’

He dropped his hand and stepped into the light. My disappointment eased a notch. I’d still go with nerd with those glasses, but he looked alright.

We sat in the drawing room waiting for my daughter to decide what dress was perfect for her date. My eldest daughter had been more trouble. At least the younger one had been good about asking permission. But that didn’t meant I had to play nice now did it? The kid had declined an offer for water. I asked him how he got here, I had seen the car and he told me it was his dad’s.

‘What did you think about the blue houses?’ I asked him

‘Sir?’ He looked confused.

‘The houses on the street. They are all blue, except for our house which is white. What did you think?’

‘I… I didn’t notice’ Poor kid, he was starting to look uncomfortable now.

‘You didn’t notice? Well. Maybe cause its dark.’ I paused and then leaned back in my seat. ‘It’s all because of the silly neighbors you see. When I got the house, all were white. And then I didn’t like my house white so I painted it yellow. My neighbors didn’t like it. So what do you think they did?’ I looked at him, the kid was just about to say something when I cut him short and continued with my ‘story’

‘Well, they tried to get me to follow the standard. But I said I would have none of it. I said I would paint my house any color I like. They went away and I thought that was the end of that. So you know what they did?’

This time I waited until the kid worked up the courage to ask what was it that they did.

‘Well, they all painted their houses yellow! All 11 of them! I thought it was silly, but I let them think they had won. But then… when the last day of painting was done. I painted my house blue. That really got them angry. They tried to get some official reason to force me to change colors… but my house! My rules!’ I laughed. The kid slowly smiled a weak smile and looked longingly at the stairs.

‘Well, they thought painting them all blue would do the trick, but then I just painted my house white again. They haven’t responded since. But I don’t like a white house you know..?’

The kid nodded.

‘Do you know why I told you this?’ I asked

The kid shook his head.

‘Just so you know I can hold a grudge… so mind you step around my daughter’

The kid nodded and said, ‘Yes Sir, Mr. Dresden.’

Moments later my daughter came down and left for her date. It was all okay. I laughed as I closed the door. That went well.

Outside, the two teenagers reached the street and the boy looked around the houses. The girl asked him what it was and the boy explained he was looking for the blue houses. Seeing the confused expression on the girls face the boy recounted the story the father had just said. The girl laughed and explained that there are no blue houses and that it had all been a joke. The boy smiled, but knew that it was a warning. In his mind he said, ‘WTH?’


(fiction) Fateful day

The first memory of that fateful day that Marc recalled was of Joanna waking him up ashen faced and looking confused. Marc was immediately awake, something had shaken her greatly. She was trying to tell him something, all he could make out was ‘We need to cancel the party’ it took Marc a moment to realize she meant the party they had planned this evening with their friends. But before he could react, the second bit of the sentence sunk in… ‘We need to cancel the party. Jake has killed himself’

For a moment Marc didn’t know how to react. He stared at Joanna like she was a madwoman. This was not possible, was this a joke? Was she playing a cruel trick on him? He had met Jake only last week… how could this have happened? At moments like these, Marc never knew how to react. He looked to others for cues on how to behave. Clearly Joanna’s reaction was one of a breakdown which- considering the circumstances- was not beyond reason. Jake was a dear friend. He would have said, best friend- and he knew Jake and Joanna were close.

‘I… are you sure?’ Marc said as he bit back a swear word. Jake! Dead?

Joanna looked at him defeated. She had been expecting something, maybe she expected he would say something like, ‘Oh no that is not true’ She hugged him and she started crying. It took a while before Marc was able to calm her down and put her to sleep. He then checked the phone, it was Officer Gregory who had called. This was not a good sign. Jake had been hauled up in the past by the cops and Officer Gregory had been the one to call in. This call and the news he had just heard made the whole situation all the more ‘real’

In the kitchen, Marc finally sat down and called back. Gregory sounded flustered and busy, but his voice changed once he realized who it was on the line. His voice changed to the, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ voice. Empathetic, calm and yet direct. It was fascinating how there was a switch in Officer Gregory’s mind that in an instant he could change face like this. Jake had been found dead outside his apartment. He had… jumped. While his wallet had given the name, his identity had since been confirmed by a cross check of his finger prints with the police records.

Marc heard all this and had to remind himself to thank the officer for the information. No, he didn’t know where Jake’s next of kin were. Jake had been a very private person. Yes, he would come down to the precinct to answer a few questions and- this was it, Officer Gregory had been putting off using the word thus far, but he used it now. He needed Marc’s inputs to close the case as a suicide.

The thing is, when you lose someone you know in such a manner, you don’t want to be told that it happened. You can’t admit that it happened because somehow you feel responsible. Maybe there were signs you could have picked up on. Maybe there was still time to save him.

As he hung up the phone Marc recalled what Joanna had said when she woke him up. ‘Cancel the party, Jake is dead!’ Yes, the party. He would now have to make the many calls to everyone telling them what had happened. He couldn’t bear calling though and resorted to cowardice. He opened up facebook and updated the event simply with the words; ‘Party Cancelled’ He shut down the machine and then started his day. He was upset, but life had to move on.