L42: The touch

Please read the part 1 and part 2 of the story before moving ahead from here

Ik mujh pe karam ho… Tu hi mera sanam ho… Teri mujh pe nazar ho, Sahiba! Mera Mann, kehne laga…

The silken voice of Falak Shabir was echoing inside the brand new BMW X1 Rudra’s father had bought for him as a wedding gift. The car was cruising through the highway, preceded and followed by few more cars and minivans carrying the Rathode clan. The already shining vehicle was glowing even more in the morning sunlight, a welcome relief for the marriage party. They had stopped over just outside Kanpur for getting the vehicles decorated with flowers, ribbons and sparkles. Rudra’s car was done up in 100s of dutch roses and pink satin & net dupattas, which were now swaying with the wind on the tunes of an absolute melody. It was one of Laxmi’s favorite songs.

Between 4 months and 15 days before marriage

Laxmi loved bollywood movie songs, especially the mushy mushy ones with romantic lyrics and silken voices, mostly male. Atif Aslam, Mohit Chouhan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Neeraj Shridhar… they were all in her favorites list. She especially loved the songs where the men became emotional and proposed their lady love in the most ‘sufiyana’ andaaz. She was an unpredictably extreme girl. One side of her was the aggressor self, the one who wanted to emerge out of the family, go out there and enjoy life, make a name for self. While the other side was soft and tender, who would submit to anyone who offered her a comfort she so much desired. She had grown up to become one of the most loved little girl of the Thakur family. But at the same time, she was the eldest one, which caused her to get caught between being an example for the younger ones to receiving all the grace from elders.

For 15 days after the rokka, neither Laxmi nor Rudra called or messaged each other. No one noticed too. Slowly, Rudra’s father started sending him to Kanpur often. They had found a new site where they could start a project in partnership with the Thakurs. Reason was simple, strengthening the family and business ties with their Samdhis. Often the ladies from either side accompanied Rudra. His duties often oscillated from discussing business with Tej Singh to ferrying the ladies to the markets of Kanpur and Lucknow. They involved him, not just because he was the groom but also because he, amongst all the Rathodes and Thakurs, showed patience to deal with the ladies and accompanied them for their shopping spree. Often, Laxmi accompanied them.

Couple of initial meetings with Laxmi were usually just eye contacts. She would quietly accompany her Bua or Mami and settle in the back seat of the car. All Rudra could do was to steal glances of her in the rear view mirror and quietly drive. It was getting some kind of a weekly routine for them. Neither of them were enjoying nor complaining. But it suddenly changed that day. He was at a construction site when he got a call from Laxmi’s number. Reluctantly he picked, but it was not her.

“Beta Rudra…”

“Ji buaji, namaste” He could recognize the voice.

“Pehchaan liya? Suno humein zara Lucknow jaana tha. Lachhi ki chudiyan leni hai. Jaante hai aapko duur se aana padta hai. Par agar aa jayenge to achha rahega. Agar Kanpur mein ho to aa sakte ho?”

“Ji buaji, zaroor. Aap jab boliye, main aa jaunga.”

“Kal aa sakte ho?”

“Kal?”

“Kuchh pareshaani ho to…”

“Nahi nahi, pareshaani kis baat ki. Thik hai, aa jaunga. Kitne baje?”

Rudra had to wake up at 3 in the morning in order to be there in Unnao by 9. In fact he couldn’t sleep at night. He obviously hid the fact from Bua that he was in Jhansi and not in Kanpur. But it didn’t matter now. What was important was that he had to go and take them to Lucknow. Strangely, Bua had asked him to come to Sankat Mochan temple and not their Haveli. But how does it matter? He had thought. As he reached, Bua and Laxmi were standing outside the temple. What he saw… he couldn’t believe.

Rudra got down and opened the back door of the Scorpio. To his surprise, she asked Laxmi to get in and shut the door. “Thodi duur jaake aage wali seat pe baith jaana.” And then she turned to Rudra. Smiling, she said, “Aapko pata hai? aaj is mandir mein ek bahut badi pooja hai. Par bhala aap jawaan logon ko pooja mein kaisi ruchi? Isliye aap Laxmi ko Lucknow le jaiye. Use apne pasand ki chudiyan dilaiye. Main yahi rukungi. Par dhyan rahe, 2 baje tak pooja khatm ho jayegi. 2 baje se pehle aapko use yaha chhodna hoga.”

Rudra was flabbergasted. Was he in his dreams? He was so stunned that he could not utter a word. “Kya hua Kanwar ji? Aise kya dekh rahe ho? Jao jao…” And she burst out laughing. Rudra turned to Laxmi to see if she also echoed the same feeling. Surprisingly, she was calm and just looking downwards. It was indeed a dream, only a one he was living right now.

As usual, the journey started in a quaint manner, with no one saying a word. Finally, Rudra pulled over and turned back.

“Aap aage aana chahengi?” Rudra said.

“Kyun?” She was quick to retort.

“Aise hi. Nahi aana chahti hai to koi baat nahi. Aapki bua ne kaha tha aage baith jana. Ab aapne unki baat maan ke humare saath Lucknow chalne ka faisla kiya hai to unki ek aur baat bhi to maan lijiye na. Aa jaiye aage”

“Nahi!” Said Laxmi. But this time she was smiling. “Aap chalaiye gaadi. Jab humari marzi hogi to hum aa jayenge.”

“Jaisi aapki ichha. Waise ek baat bole? Bura na mane to?” She nodded. “Pehli baar dekha aapko salwaar kameez mein. Aap bahut khoobsurat lag rahe ho.”

“Are you flattering me Rathode sahab? You better don’t. Ye kaam nahi aayega aapke”

“Bilkul nahi. Main sach bol raha hu. Dil se nahi hota to main bolta nahi.” There was a momentary pause. Rudra was still looking in her eyes, gazing through what he thought could be his future. Laxmi was indeed beautiful. But more than that, she had this truthful innocence in her eyes. She was going to marry a man who she did not love. He didn’t know if it mattered to her that he loved her. But she was still prepared to walk ahead. She had hopes in her eyes, hopes of a better life. Just that she was not sure if Rudra could give her that.

“Chaliye rathode sahab. Chudiyan nahi dilayenge?”

“Bilkul, par tab jab aap aage aakar baithengi. Nahi to nahi.”

“Ziddi hai aap. Maanenge nahi?”

“Aapke aage nahi chalna chahta hu main. Aapke saath chalna chahta hu. Aap saath rahiye, safar aasan ho jayega”

It was Laxmi’s turn to be surprised. After thinking for a while, she extended her hand out so that Rudra could help her in the front seat. “Jaisi aapki ichha. Ab haath dijiye?”

The conversation meandered from Rudra’s college life to Om’s commissioning in the Army. Though Laxmi never ever gave a feeling that she could like Rudra, he was at least happy that she was talking normally to him. In Lucknow, they settled for the Cafe Coffee Day at HazratGanj and continued the conversation. By now Rudra knew Laxmi was a talkative person. All he had to do was to keep feeding her topic after topic. As she continued to speak, occasionally asking questions to Rudra, several cups of Latte had been ordered without either of them realizing the time. And then the mobile buzzed. It was Bua, asking them if they were done with the shopping.

It was Rudra’s best day since he met Laxmi. On their way back, he asked her what they were going to tell Bua. And she just leaned out of the window, swaying her pink dupatta in the winds “Keh denge, samay nahi mila…” and she started laughing. “Agar puchhe ke kyun nahi mila?” Asked Rudra. “Aap sawal bahut karte hai Rathode sahab.” and she started laughing again. “Kya karu, sawal aate hai par jawab hi nahi milta”

Wedding day, Unnao, Uttar Pradesh

The vehicles of the baraat made its way inside the Kothi one by one. Thakurs had rented a castle like Kothi as their wedding venue. It was shining in the bright sun light. Rudra was welcomed by the family elders and led inside along with other members of his family. Many small and big traditions followed. Time went so fast that in no time, Rudra was sitting in the front row, enjoying the lavish ladies sangeet function. Relatives from both sides were performing on their favorite numbers. But there was no sign of Laxmi. He tried asking Ajju about her but he had no idea. Asking any one else didn’t make sense. It was best to assume that Laxmi was inside, getting ready for the wedding. The plan was for an evening mahurt for phere & kanyadaan followed by the reception. One of the over enthusiastic brothers picked up a mike and started singing ‘Beintehaa’ by Atif Aslam in the worst possible manner. But it was enough to push Rudra back to the past.

They met few more times after their Lucknow trip. But strangely, Laxmi always cut herself off every time he dropped her home. When they met, they spoke of life, of love, of Rudra’s college life, foreign trips, of Om… but after reaching home, Laxmi hardly called. Her reply to messages were often delayed and generally disjointed or confusing. In their last meeting, Rudra had asked her if she was ready now, and if there is any thing he could do to make her happy… and she had replied saying “I will be foolish to not marry you. But I don’t know if I have the courage to stand and face this marriage.” It was one of the many confusing sentences Laxmi had uttered. All Rudra could say was that he is not a typical Thakur to force his wife to confine to his way of life. But he was an emotional man indeed, and he may not be able to be the same guy again, should Laxmi refuse.

Rudra was getting ready for the ‘phere’ when Ajju came in and handed over a chit. Before he could ask, Ajju was gone. He opened it. Ummeed pe duniya kayam hai was written on it. He had never seen Laxmi write any thing. But he assumed it must be here. What did she mean? Is she running away? Is he telling him that she still harnessed hopes to run away and marry Om? Is he around to take her away? Or did she just gave hope to Rudra? He felt as if he was being dragged away, chained and gagged. Seconds later he realized it was his mother, making him wear gold chains over the beige sherwani. Some one put up a pagdi and sehra on his forehead. Then he felt some one was holding his hand and pulling him away. Where are they taking me? Laxmi, is gone he thought to himself. Minutes later he was sitting in the mandap. A girl came and sat besides him after a while. She was clad in a very heavy red lehenga and had the dupatta over her head, covering her complete face and neck until her breasts. Who have they brought in? Is it Laxmi? I’m sure she is gone, he thought to himself. The Pandit was blabbering some thing. He merely followed. A lady came from behind and shoved a ring in his hand, which made him realize this was an engagement and not the phere. He turned towards the girl who had already extended her left hand out. He took a deep breath and held it.

It was her!

5 things Spain should do to avoid defeat

Spain must look to their bench for revival. (c) fifa.com

I know this post will be redundant after tonight. And I’m sure Spanish team management is not going to read my blog OR consider my suggestions even if they read it. But I have a suggestion to Mr. Del Bosque, rather 5 suggestions. Hope they apply their mind and pull off a win today, which looks increasingly difficult with the current situation and Chile’s form

  1. Play with 4-1-2-1-2 formation, or essentially a diamond formation with two up front. Generally Latin American sides play a similar football that allows wingers more space and support for the forwards. Besides, you can have a floating defensive midfielder who will control the passing from behind the half way line. It gives cushion to the back 4 and more options to attack through the flanks
  2. Send Sergio Busquets home. He still thinks he is playing for Barcelona. Instead, if the above formation is adopted, play Alonso at the bottom end of the diamond, Silva and Juan Mata on the wings and Iniesta just behind the front 2. He can be later substituted by Fabregas or Xavi depending on how the match progresses.
  3. Play both Costa and Torres upfront. Spain needs to score goals and quickly. For that matter even Pedro can be considered in place of Torres, given the current form. If Spain scores 2 goals in the first half, they can substitute Costa with Xavi and have a traditional 4-5-1 formation (or 4-2-3-1 option). If they let a goal in, they can substitute Mata with Pedro/Villa and play in 4-2-3-2 formation.
  4. Play Raul Albiol in place of Pique. Pique was horrible in the central defense. Azpilicueta can also be replaced on the right (or was it left?) by Juanfran. Playing Juanfran will give them more option on the wings where he can run down the flanks to support Silva.
  5. Retain Casillas. However we may debate, he is still their best keeper. Da Gea is injured I guess and Pepe Reina has lost place in Liverpool goal since long. So leaving Casillas will be the last thing to do.

Spain are you reading this?

Holiday: Review with a pinch of difference

Image (c) indiaglitz.com

Fan of action movies? Super agents representing covert intelligence agencies? Intelligent, fast and pacy plots?

Fan of Bollywood action, thriller, spy movies?

You can;t say yes to both, mind you. Because there is a difference. Intelligent movies have to be intelligently made and is generally understood by intelligent people. ‘Holiday’ has 2 of the 3 ‘intelligent’ stuffs (may be one and half). But which ones is a question worth answering. Now for the review, Holiday is a story of an Army captain, on a holiday to his home town, who also happens to be a covert agent of the defense intelligent agency. His job is any body’s guess… tracking and foiling terrorist attacks. The movie is about how he prevents serial blasts happening in Mumbai, hunt down and finally kill the terrorists. Thats it! There are some good things about this A. R. Murugadoss creation. And there are some glaring mistakes. Here is my take on the movie, the pros and cons, unlike a traditional review.

The Pros:

  1. Akshay. He has worked hard to be the smartass covert agent who outwits his opposite protagonist. He is likable as a funny bridegroom, believable as a patriotic agent. Lucky that he got a role that suits him and full marks on doing justice
  2. Story. It is an interesting plot. And Murugadoss has been able to unravel it bit by bit much like a hollywood movie except… okay I will tell you the cons later
  3. Farhad. The villan. He is a guy audience will love to hate. Traditionally, in Hindi movies, we haven’t had young villans… or very rarely. And most of them have been adequately styled. But Farhad as the boss of the sleeper cells+terrorist group is very much a common man types. He excels with his frowns and growls
  4. Songs too are nice. Some foot tapping numbers are good.

The Cons:

  1. The main plot has too many breaks. The moment you start finding it interesting, Sonakshi Sinha appears from no where and (literally) covers the screen space. Then you have a lighter moment or a song, which is quite unnecessary.
  2. The terrorist group seems to have no motive behind causing the blasts. They just seem to be too happy to pull triggers. But why and what do they want to avenge, who are they working for, why are they doing it… nothing is explained
  3. Generally when a member of terrorist group is arrested, the plan is immediately put off and all the other team members go underground. But here, not only the team member escapes (rather allowed to escape), he also carries out the whole planned bombing exercise without talking to his handler or the bosses. Where does he get the RDX from? How on earth can he blow up the whole mumbai?
  4. Akshay is shown to do the whole work all by himself. He neither talks to a boss nor bothers to take help from any of the defense agencies/police. Who authorizes him? How can he take his own decisions? And all his friends seem to readily follow him in an arbitrary ‘game’ and end up killing terrorists. But none of them either verify or questions why should they kill those guys. Akshay is not their boss. Can defense men act arbitrarily?
  5. How come none of the 12 friends of Akshay are caught by Police?
  6. If it was so easy to blow up R City mall, why would the terrorist group wait for a specific date and time to blow up Mumbai?
  7. Why would the head of a terrorist group risk the whole mission to settle a personal score with the hero, just because he provoked him? Man! This beat me to core :-)

All n all, its a nice family movie. But if you are looking forward to it as a thriller, save me! It is probably at the lowest end of my favorite list. I will give it nothing more than a 3 star.

L41: The Dilemma

This is a part II of the story ‘I will’. Click here to read the part one.

Present Day: Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

The haldi function went into late afternoon. The family had now started preparing for the grand ladies sangeet organised in the lawns adjoining their haweli. Rudra took time out and decided to retire to his room. Some one handed a hot cup of coffee to him and advised him to just lie down for a while. They were right. But the only problem was Rudra had no sleep in his eyes. He walked over to the balcony and stared at the horizon. Sun had not set yet. But it was cloudy. Monsoon was on the anvil. The balcony of Rudra’s room was on the left side of the haveli that overlooked the gardens, some shrubby trees and then the Antia lake. From a distance he could see few youngsters having a good time at the chai ki tapri. Then there was a couple cozying up behind a tree. Rudra thought of Laxmi… and then came back to his room.

Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh: Four and half months ago

After no feedback from the Rathodes for 15 days, Laxmi’s father had called up Raghuvendraji and politely asked what their opinion was. Apart from being a respected family, Thakurs were one of the largest cement dealers and retailers in Western UP. That suited very well to the Rathode’s construction business. It was a winning proposition for the Thakurs too. For Rudra’s father, it was much more than two families coming together for a wedding. On the same evening, he summoned Rudra to his room.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you delaying the proposal? Don’t you like Laxmi?” Raghuvendra Rathode had curtly asked Rudra that evening.

“Nothing like that Papa, just that I need more time to think.”

“How much more? 15 days have passed, for god’s sake! Is there a problem with Laxmi?” Rudra nodded. “Thakur khandaan ek izzatdar gharana hai, humein ladki pasand hai. Main aaj hi unhe phone kar deta hu. Rokke ki taarikh pakki kar lete hai. Baaki tayyariyan bhi to karni hai.”

“But Papa… kya main ek baar Laxmi se mil sakta hu?”

There was a pause and then his father said. “Hmmm… theek hai. There is a Cement dealer’s meeting tomorrow in Kanpur. I’m going and Laxmi’s brother Tej Singh is also going to come there. I will ask him to get Laxmi along. You meet her in the hotel. But remember… Khandaan ki izzat ka sawaal hai. Uska khayal rakhna”

The father son duo started early next day and reached The Landmark Hotel, Kanpur barely minutes before the conference started. Tej Singh was waiting in the lobby along with Laxmi, dressed again in an elegant looking green chiffon saree. Parties greeted each other cordially. Laxmi bowed and touched Raghuvendraji’s feet. They discussed business for a while with Tej Singh testing Rudra’s knowledge about the construction industry. Tej Singh suggested that if it was fine with Rudra, he could drop Laxmi to Unnao after they are done. After it was agreed, the two left the couple in the lobby and went for the conference.

From the corner of the eye, Rudra had been observing Laxmi. She was nervous. But some where he sense the brewing dissent inside her mind. Now that the two were out of sight, Rudra turned his attention to Laxmi. The tightly draped chiffon saree was perfectly showing off her petite figure. She was sans make up, but was wearing beautiful earrings, the same medium sized bindi and an elegant looking pearl necklace… and was still neither talking nor paying attention to Rudra’s observing eyes.

“I’m new to Kanpur you see… so you will have to suggest me a place we can go to. What is good around here?” Rudra finally broke the silence.

“Its warm outside” Laxmi said with looking at Rudra, “We can go to the cafe in the hotel. I’m sure you have questions… I have too. Lets settle it here”

“Whats the matter Laxmi?”

“Whats the matter? You are asking me? I told you to refuse the proposal, also sent you sms that day and pleaded you to not pursue it. But you didn’t. You kept on asking why, why… sent ajju to convince me. And even though I’m still saying no, through your father you confirmed our wedding? Can’t you understand? I DONT WANT to marry you!”

Laxmi was loud enough to unsettle the lobby. The passersby had now started taking notice of the argument about to happen between the young couple. “I think we should go to the cafeteria.” suggested Rudra. “No! I think we should go home.” Rudra let out a sigh of disappointment and reluctantly nodded.

Kanpur to Unnao is a 25min drive. But due to the flyover construction near Shukla Ganj, they had to take the highway route, which was going to give Rudra that extra 20 minutes, in what he was thinking as the last attempt to set things right. Refusing to marry Laxmi was never an option with Rudra. Not because he had fallen in love with her. But because if the marriage was not to happen, at all, one of them had to die or runaway and thus forget their families… forever. His thoughts wandered all over the place, trying to find the best way to explain this to Laxmi. For 10 minutes, no body spoke. Then she broke the silence.

“Look, I’m sorry I shouted… and that I didn’t take your calls or reply to messages. I thought you will understand. But now that your father has already confirmed, I want to confess this. I don’t think I will be able to keep you happy… or love you ever. Our marriage may happen. There are many who see benefits here. But are we going to be happy with this relation? I don’t think so. It will be my mistake. I think I will have to live with it, and now you have chosen to live with it too. I’m sorry, but I can’t help.”

“Laxmi…” Rudra spoke softly after a momentary silence. “If you don’t mind, can I ask you some thing?” She nodded. “Are you in love with some one else?”

Present Day: Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

Laxmi’s candid confession had some what unsettled Rudra that day. On their way to Unnao, Rudra had insisted on meeting Om, the guy Laxmi thought she loved. He was a simple guy, a graduate who had just got an entry into the Indian Army. He was about to be commissioned. Laxmi had introduced him as her fiance and Om hadn’t reacted. He was fine with Laxmi marrying some one else. They spoke about Om’s eagerness to join the Army, the life of an officer and how he had chosen between lot of money, fancy degrees and dying for the country. It was a strange conversation. He hadn’t spoken to her for a week after that meeting. Neither did she. When his father proposed the date for the rokka, he had called her.

Laxmi and Om were classmates. He was one of her good friends and knew her family too. Although they loved each other, Om never tried to talk to Laxmi’s family or go out of the way to marry her. For him, nothing was more important than his ambition to join the armed forces. Laxmi, for him, was a responsibility he was happy to wear but not to carry. Laxmi knew this. Then why do you love him? Want to marry him? Rudra had asked on the call. The reason was freedom. Om was the only child of his parents. His family, although well to do, was small. They neither had the baggage of their clan nor the tradition of their caste. And going to DU for higher studies, work for companies, start own boutique, travel abroad… Laxmi had ambitions too. She thought Om could fulfill them. A day before her rokka to Rudra, she had written a letter to Om asking him if he could run away with her. On the same day he had sent back an envelop that contained her letter along with a copy of his commissioning letter. The answer was obvious.

Rudra was lying on his bed, thinking about that day. On the wall opposite to his bed, he was looking at the picture of him and Laxmi. It was taken on the rokka day. It was the first time when they stood together, neither of them smiling. I almost ran away yesterday night. But I couldn’t. I can’t commit if it wont happen before our wedding… or after.  Laxmi had whispered in Rudra’s ears while this pic was being taken. The astonishment was showing in the pic. His thoughts were broken by a buzz on his mobile. It was a message from Laxmi.

“Do you have any plans to run away before the wedding?” It read.

“Nope. Who should I run away with? But if you have any such plans, let me know. I’ll save my trip to Unnao :-)” Rudra replied.

“That trip toh you will have to take Thakur sahab… aagey bhagwaan ki marzee :-)”

To be continued…

L40: No, I will

“No!”

Present day: Chandra Vihar Colony, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

Rudra felt a bitter sour taste in his mouth. As if the ‘no’ was being rubbed on to him so harshly that he’d never have her back again. Suddenly some one patted on his back and his open eyes came back to the real world. He could now see his 50 year old, over grown bua rubbing a hand full of wet turmeric powder on his face, or whatever of the face was left untouched. He got up, looked around to see over a 100 people cheering.

“No” he shouted, “Get away from me!” as he pushed his bua, almost felling her to ground. The cheer stopped. Now people were staring at him. All shocked at his reaction. And then he heard some one talking to him. It was a familiar voice, his mother’s. “Kya hua beta? Kahi lag gayi kya? Thik to ho?”

Where am I? He thought. The haldi program was underway at the Rathode household. He turned to bua and apologized with folded hands. “Sorry bua, par mujhe lag rahi thi”, he said. Bua forgave him and started again, smearing Rudra’s face with turmeric as hard as she could. Afterall, it was his wedding. The baraat was to depart next day, Rudra was getting married to Laxmi two days later. But… was he?

5 months ago: Unnao, Uttar Pradesh

A white Scorpio made a quick stop at the Balram Dhaba, just on the out skirts of Unnao. Rathode family disembarked and settled on the cots put up under the shed. 4 and half hours of non-stop drive had tired every one down, except Rudra. He had seen Laxmi in the pictures and was keen to meet her in person. He had spoken to her on phone and she seemed quaint & shy, almost uninterested at times. But then this is how arranged marriages are, he had thought. Laxmi, though studied from Kanpur, was still from a small place. So she must be shy. He had made up his mind to ask her to take him around Unnao, and then ask her in person, alone, if she was really interested in marrying him. But Raghuvendra Pratap, Rudra’s father has declared that they would reach on time, 3pm and leave in an hour. And Rudra wouldn’t go against him.

The Rathodes were welcomed in the grandest manner. A brass band, flowers, garlands, traditional welcome through deep and tika, ladies donning expensive silk sarees… the wedding already seemed fixed even before Rudra could meet Laxmi. It made him nervous. Rudra was born as Rudrapratap Singh Rathode in one of the very well known Thakur families of Jhansi. They were land lords, who later converted their lands to large businesses and became a wealthy clan. But Rudra was unlike a typical Thakur. He was tall, but slim and clean shaven. He did his engineering from Delhi and MBA from Bangalore, had worked in MNCs, traveled abroad before coming back to Jhansi to take care of family businesses. He taste was western and wrote his name as Rudra Singh, because he thought Thakur Rudra Pratap Singh Rathode was too cliche. So when his to-be-father-in-law introduced him as Thakur Rudra Pratap Singh Rathode, he was all but proud. It actually made him blush.

After rounds of various snacks, popular sweets, scores or introductions, finally some one suggested that Laxmi should be brought in. Rudra’s eyes lit up. Without being obvious, he began surveying various exit locations from where Laxmi could emerge. There was some movements amongst the ladies. Rudra started tracking their eyes. Finally, after a momentary silence in the room, two elderly ladies arrived, behind whom Rudra could see a silhouette of a young girl in her early twenties. Draped in a red Banarasi silk saree and a medium sized bindi, Laxmi looked stunningly beautiful. She was slim and moderately tall, which suited Rudra. As against the picture, Laxmi was less fair but more sharp in her looks, Rudra thought. For a while he could not take his eyes off his future bride before realizing half the gathering was staring at him. Embarrassed, he started looking elsewhere.

Then more introductions followed. Both fathers boasted their businesses and the brothers, Taus and mamas were discussed. One of the Tau also ended up suggesting a wedding venue, which was thankfully ignored. Finally, an intelligent younger brother volunteered to take his didi and kunwarji around the Haveli. Rudra rose, but sat immediately seeing his father’s reaction. Reluctantly, he allowed. Within a minute, the over enthusiastic younger brother was dragging Rudra along the stairs, asking non-stop questions about ‘Amrica’ and girls on DU campus while Laxmi quietly followed.

“Ajju, mere liye paani laoge?” Laxmi asked her young brother after they reached the terrace of the Haveli, which was at the farthest end of the house. Ajju quickly ran behind. Rudra was glad she at least spoke some thing.

“Achha hua jo aapne use nichhe bhej diya.” said Rudra. “Main to taras gaya tha aap se baat karne ke liye. Jaanna chahata tha ki aapki is shaadi ke baare mein kya rai hai. Because you never spoke on phone, I mean hardly spoke.”

“Aapki kya rai hai?” replied Laxmi. “Do you want to get married to me?”

Rudra blushed. “Well, I mean… pata nahi. Meri koi girlfriend to nahi thi kabhi bhi. So main ye rishton ke baare mein jyada jaanta nahi hu. But yes, when I saw your pic, and today when you came… Although I know we should not be rushing into this. And we should know each other more. Par pata nahi gharwale humein aise akele milne denge kya. Isliye, I mean… Shayad haan. Haan, I want to marry you.”

“Would you have married me even if I was not a Thakur?” Laxmi retorted. Her tone was not exactly polite, and now she was looking him in the eye. He was surprised.

“What do you mean? Thakur hone ka in sab se kya lena dena? Of course yes!” He could hear faint footsteps in the background, Ajju was coming back with a glass of water.

“And would you not want to know if I want to get married to you?” Asked Laxmi again, with the same tone.

Rudra was taken aback. The sound was now louder. Ajju would be here any moment, he thought. “I don’t understand. Some thing wrong? Is it that you are not happy with this marriage? You don’t want to get married to me?” Laxmi stared at him hard, then looked away. She was silent. “Tell me! Will you get married to me?” said Rudra. Ajju had now reached the terrace. He was at the gate, holding a tray with two glasses of water and a plate of snacks in his hand.

Laxmi gave a cold hard stare to him and with a firm voice, said “No, I will not!”

… to be continued

Awesome 3 day fruit diet plan

Image courtesy (c) Filariasis.com

Believe it or not, this 3 day fruit cum salad diet plan has helped me reduce 2 kgs in just 6 days and that too with minimum exercise, sufficient eating and regular routine. Here is how you can follow what I did:

Day 1:

As soon as you wake up, have a full glass of water. It will help you detox a little bit and also quell some overnight hunger. Then have an early breakfast of 1 slice of brown bread/ one chapati without butter. Day 1 is going to be much less on calorie intake. So in case if you are worried of fainting or fear of giving up, you can have a boiled potato without salt or half a glass of milk without sugar.

Light exercise is fine, such as climbing 50 steps or walking for 500 meters. If you exercise, you can have lemon water with a dash of honey after that.

Eat a balanced fruit diet for lunch with sufficient carbs and juices. During my diet, I had 4 bananas and an orange. If possible try to avoid evening snacks. But if you feel tired, you can have an apple or a kiwi or similar fruit that has less fats and is low on sugar.

Have just a small bowl of rice with plain dal (lentils) or curd. Try not to add sugar or salt.

Day 2:

Follow the water routine of Day 1. Instead of a brown bread, have egg white (boiled). You can have 2 or three eggs but try not to stuff yourself.

Do light exercise, such as stretching and brisk walking for 500 meters. If you climbed 50 steps yesterday, push yourself to 100 or at least 75. Instead of lime water, have carrot juice today.

Repeat the lunch the similar to Day 1 and try to avoid evening snacks as much as possible. If you cannot, just have half a glass of milk or a small banana.

Have a boiled egg and 1 brown bread/ plain chapati for dinner.

Day 3:

Repeat the schedule of Day 1 & 2 for Day three but skip eating eggs, potatoes and bananas. You can add tomatoes and cucumber to your diet in order not to dehydrate yourself.

Check you weight on day 4. I reduced 2 and half kgs! And wonder who created this diet plan? ME!   :-)

Some more quetions for Shri Shri

Blocking questions? image (c) ibnlive

Shri Shri, you have very well answered my previous questions. Thank you so much. But the latest closely fought cum abjectly surrendered cum ‘could have easily won’ test match debacle has prompted me to ask you few more questions. Are you going to answer them? No? No problem… the answers are obvious anyway. (PS: Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you about your relations with Meiyyappan or Srini or about your real estate investments or the sports management firm you own or even about your wife’s latest darkest shade of lipstick… oops!)

Q1: What did you tell the team before the start of the second innings that you didn’t when the test match started?

This is quite simple. You might have hurled the choicest of abuses at the team with help from Arsene Wenger (BPL leaders Arsenal lost 1-5 to historic rivals Liverpool last Saturday) or from Sir Alex Ferguson (ManU had lost 1-6 to their horrible neighbors Man City few years ago… at home). A just thing to do, Shri Shri. But the question is, why didn’t you do it earlier? We lost 0-3 to SAFs in the ODIs, then drew a test match we should have won, then lost a test match we should have drawn, then lost the ODI series to NZ 0-4. I must appreciate your patience. For you now have the dubious distinction of being the captain of a team white washed when they were no. 1 in both tests and ODIs.

Or may be you didn’t say anything at all. And the bowlers received an sms that they will get a night out with the Hollywood actress of their choice if they bundle out NZ for a less than 100. But poor lads were denied that luxury by Wagner and Boult, who both will be summoned by ICC for breach of bulls*** conduct, come July. You know why.

Q2: What makes you think Zaheer Khan is a better batsman than you?

He is not, right? Then why on earth were you rotating strikes? When Zaheer came in, we needed another 80 runs. It was a cake walk for you. You could have conserved him and then tried to score in bulk. NZ was not threatening with the ball. But instead, you were seen taking singles on the first ball and Zaheer was trying his favorite cow corner slaps.

Wait a minute, did you think Zaheer could score a half century the way he did against Zimbabwe an era ago and blasted Henry Olonga for 4 consecutive sixes? Boy!

Q3: Is it that Kohli and Jadeja never listen to you or you do not bother how they get out?

Option 1: Kohli listens but Jadeja doesn’t. It was a bad day for Kohli and as usual day for Jadeja. Hmmm, then we must sack him?

Option 2: Both don’t listen. Then what the hell are you doing? Why don’t you try your famous helicopter shot on them?

Option 3: Both listen and both forget what I tell them. – (Smiley) (Smiley) (Smiley) (Smiley)

Option 4: I care a damn! Well then, nothing needs to be said

PS: Post is just for gags!