The Penguin Annual Lecture 2014 by Dan Brown

The line started queuing up around 4, three hours before the lecture was commenced to start at 7. Teenagers with bright enthusiastic faces and copies of Inferno or Da Vinci Code tucked under their arms stood chatting outside the famed NCPA theater. College students from nearby cities like Pune and Ahmedabad could also be seen standing in the perpetually growing queue. The excitement in the air was palpable. Mixed among the crowd were middle-aged literary veterans, calmly surveying the chaotic youngsters. The gates opened at 6:15. Seats were randomly allocated seats on ‘first come, first serve’ basis, which essentially people (read: the author) who came first were allotted seats in a far off corner, while people who arrived later got front row seats. Well played Crossword!

All complaints however died out when the man of the hour himself walked in, after having been introduced by Indian author, Ravi Subramanian. As the legendary writer of Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown walked in, the entire auditorium erupted into cheers and applause. The entire audience were on their feet, clapping hard and long. He endeared himself to the hearts of all youngsters in the audience when he started his speech by exclaiming surprise at the young age of the majority of the audience. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?!” he jovially asked

For me, and most other members of the audience, this was a dream come true. To be in the same room as one of my favourite authors isn’t something I could have ever dreamed of. The lecture on ‘Religion and Science’ was delivered to perfection by the author. Mr. Brown started by telling us about his paradoxical childhood, with a church organist as his mother and a mathematics teacher as his father. He even showed us their respective car number plates. His mother’s read ‘Kyrie’ (Greek for Lord), and his father’s read ‘Metric’. He then expounded upon his theory about the god of gaps, wherein he said that whenever the ancient Greeks and Romans experienced a gap in their knowledge, something they couldn’t explain, they invented a god to fill in the gap. So infertility was considered to be due to a falling out from the goddess Juno, plagues were brought upon by the wrath of an angry god and hurricanes were caused by the god of the sea, Poseidon. In a style reminiscent of his famous character Professor Robert Langdon, Mr. Brown further explained that as science discovered the logical reasons behind these events, the pantheon of Roman and Greek gods slowly died out. Today we turn to God for answers to those questions that science cannot answer – where do we come from? why are we here? where do we go after we die? – and in a way, we are still worshipping the god of the gaps.

One of his most powerful statements, according to this author, was when he talked about world religions. The writer said that all human beings have similar spiritual experiences: while looking at the star-lit heavens, we all have at times acknowledged a higher power beyond our understanding, and yet we follow different religions.

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It is not religion, but language that divides us, he proclaimed. When we take metaphors as history, the cosmic space as a concrete space, and when we argue over the semantics of god that we are divided. Otherwise all religions preach a similar message of kindness over cruelty, and of love and peace.

“To grow up in a world without religious prejudices is a privilege, and not one many of us enjoy”, he said.

After his speech, Dan Brown engaged in a conversation with famous Indian author, Ashwin Sanghvi. The conversation steered to many topics. When asked about the two Hollywood blockbusters Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code, based on his novels, Dan Brown praised the hard work of actor Tom Hanks and the entire filmmaking crew. He said:

The magic of a book is in its ability to be different things for different people…When a book becomes a movie the quantum wave collapses, and all possibilities die out except one…A movie is like someone else’s child. All an author can ask for is that the filmmakers stay true to the pulse, heartbeat and message of the book.

The talk was as engaging as it was informative. His humourous jokes cracked the audience up,every now and then. The minutes flew swiftly by, and the lecture was over too soon for anyone’s liking. The silver lining was Mr. Sanghvi’s question, when he asked Mr. Brown if his protagonist, Robert Langdon, would soon be following his steps to Mumbai. Though Mr. Brown’s reply was diplomatic, hope lingers. We can’t wait to welcome him back to these shores again!

How I Came Across Harry Potter

Today’s Daily Prompt: Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

Now, this is what I call a tough prompt – I can’t remember the last time I did not have a few books lying around, except….maybe….uh, there’s a little spark of memory here —

I was in seventh grade, and had ‘overgrown’ Enid Blyton. Well overgrown isn’t the right word, but I had finished seven mystery series be her, three sets of school stories and thousands of short stories. I had read all the Nancy Drew novels in my local library, and was now in the painful dilemma of trying to decide what to read further. Needless to say, I had quite high standards.

This was when my mother suggested that I give the ultra-famous Harry Potter series by JK Rowling a try.

“I have been reading quite a few reviews of it in newspapers. Apparently children all over the world love it”.

I wasn’t really enthused, “Ma, you know I don’t like all that magical mumbo-jumbo. I never liked ghost and fairy stories. I want real stories, mysteries if possible!

But my mother was adamant, “People wouldn’t like it if there wasn’t something good in it. Read it. You might be surprised“.

I grudgingly agreed to borrow the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from the library, but made sure to borrow a Nancy Drew mystery at the same time. Just in case!

The Book that changed me

The Book that changed me

While we were still on the bus, I flipped the book open, and started reading the first chapter – The Boy Who Lived

 I couldn’t put it down! The Nancy Drew mystery lay untouched, gathering dust, as I reveled in the magic of Rowling’s words. I was hooked. 

The next two weeks, I dragged my mother to the library every alternate day for the next part, and gobbled it up with as much enthusiasm as I had read the first book. I forgot everything else in the world….including my studies. So my dad laid down a ruling – NO MORE BOOKS TILL AFTER EXAMS. 

I was on the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the verdict destroyed me. I just had to find out what happened next! The suspense was agonizing. Voldemort was out there somewhere, and(*SPOILER ALERT*) Dumbledore was dead! There were seven horcruxes and they could be anywhere! Ginny and Harry had broken up, and stupid Ron still hadn’t kissed Hermione! I had to know what happened next.

But my parents remained firm.

That night I dreamt of the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I kept trying to pick it up and read it, but it kept moving away from my reach; so tantalizingly close yet just an inch away.

DeathlyHallowsCover

I pounced on it and was about to read it — when I woke up, and found myself clutching my pillow.

I burst into tears, which melted my mother’s heart long enough to let her make a bargain with me – I could get the book, but I had to finish it in one day.

It wasn’t a bad bargain. The book was so engaging that I could barely put it down anyway! I stayed up the entire night reading it, and fell asleep with the book still in my hands.

With Harry Potter began my newfound love for the fantasy genre. Soon Chronicles of Narnia followed. Followed by Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Artemis Fowl, The Mediator Series and The Kane Chronicles. I remain an ardent fan till date, and all because:

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

Just Be – the Conundrum of a First-Year College Student

The four years of my high school I spent in studying as hard as I could….so that four years down the line I could get into my dream college, and I did. I topped my class, passed out with flying colours and a lot of accolades, and before I knew it, I was standing at the gates of the college I had always wanted to get in, doing the course I wanted.

I should have been happy — but instead I felt lost. Where do I go from here? I wasn’t the only one. A few of my friends reported feeling similar symptoms of lethargy. We had lost the drive, the one goal that had been guiding our life till now. I lost interest in studies. Everything felt worthless. I tried planning for my career after college, but the road beyond the three years of college seemed so dark and gloomy, so full of unexpected twists and unknown obstacles, that thinking about it gave me goosebumps and panic attacks. I was almost in the midst of an existential crisis. I had spent most of my teenage life driving at breakneck speed towards this destination, and now that I was here, I had no idea where to go now.

It struck me quite suddenly, randomly out of the blue, but one day I just shook myself:

What are you so melancholic about? This is where you wanted to be for the last four years. You worked hard to reach here, and now that you are here, you are thinking of what to do when you leave?! 

Idiot! (Being me, I am allowed to call myself names 😛 ) Enjoy these three years to the fullest. Revel in the glory that is today. The rest will sort itself out, as and when it happens. Don’t think about that. 

Just BE!

Daily Prompt: Truth Serum (*side-effects include a little occassional rambling*)

Writing a blog together is something me and my friend, Kate (you can check her blog here) have been planning for a long time. So, when we saw today’s daily prompt, we both decided that this was our chance to find out some choice secrets of each other and also write a post together. Me being and her being K, here is how our conversation went:

A: So who goes first?

K: You

A: Ok – but let’s drink our Truth Serums first 😛

K: Okay. Let’s have our serums. 

A: *gulp* Tastes like licorice. 

10533210_717730778287836_2096986690439839837_nA: What’s my but?

K: But you over-think a lot, most of the times. 

K: My chance – What’s the one thing about me, that just doesn’t make sense to you?

A: How despite being brought up in a Hindu family you got so influenced by Christianity. I have Christian friends who haven’t read the Bible as many times as you have! 

A: What’s my most charming quality?

K:  You are always supportive and encouraging. 

K: If suppose, for any reason, we have a fight and don’t speak for a very long time, and meet after many months, how would you react?

A: Ominous question! But I usually try hanging on to friends for as long as I can. And you are a very close friend – there is no way I am letting you go. There is no way we wouldn’t have talked for months. I would have been calling you everyday, and bombing your whatsapp inbox with apology messages.
But say you moved to Antarctica and we really don’t talk for quite a long time, then I am probably just gonna hug you, and then bore you with all the intricate details of my life in the past months – all the guys I liked, all the parties I had been to, every single book I read, and all the sitcoms I watched. 

A: What’s the one quality about me that annoys you the most?

K: Honestly, I haven’t found anything “annoying” as such. But I guess, when you form an opinion about something, it’s really hard to have to change it. I dunno about anecdotes, can’t think of any at the moment. This response just came to my tongue.

K: Sort of repeating a question that you asked, what’s my biggest asset, personality/quality/character wise?

A: The way you put things across. You are witty, without being arrogant. You know stuff and you correct people’s mistakes, but you aren’t patronizing or condescending. That’s very rare among our peers. 

K: Oh my god! I didn’t even know I do that! I demand an anecdote immediately.

A: Hahahaha…uhm anecdote? Can’t recall…exams messing with my brain. My turn. one thing you wish I would start doing already? 

K: Cool down and take good and adequate breaks from your busy and extra demanding schedules. You should randomly go on mini vacs every few weeks.

A:  Hahahaha – let’s start with that Bordi vacation we keep planning 😛

K: Haha. That is a dream dream vacation plan 😛
What I meant was going solo.

A: And get accosted by strange men? I was walking down from the station today, and I swear I got stalked. TWICE!

K: Oh. Erm. Bad idea then. 

K: What’s your deepest insecurity?

A: My friends finding me repulsive and hating me, and never talking to me again.

A: Turning the sword around – what’s your deepest insecurity?

K: Not being good enough. In my own eyes. I have expectations from myself. And while I don’t go around trying very hard, I do like it if people around me smile because of something I did. And when that doesn’t happen, I feel I have failed in some way.

I think another one of the side-effects of the truth serum is drowsiness, or maybe it’s just because it’s nearly midnight here. Anyway we both decided it’s time we gave the questions a rest, and sleep off the truth serum…before some of the darker secrets come out 😉

My Struggles With Brevity

I love to write.

I love to write a lot……Unfortunately.

I don’t remember how old I was when my mother, an English teacher, told me that I should always while writing answers in a literature paper take it for granted that the examiner knows nothing. Explain everything. Provide as much context as possible.

I don’t think even she realized the widespread repercussions her words would have, but since then my answers in the examinations, especially my literature paper, have just grown in size. The smallest answer I ever wrote for an English literature paper was three-quarters of an A4 size sheet! A close friend joked that if I had written the entire Shakespeare play verbatim in the answer sheet my answer would probably be shorter. It wasn’t even that big an exaggeration. For one exam, I remember taking 11 supplements or extra sheets, after finishing the initial 12-page booklet. I would probably have written more, but I was running a mild temperature  that day. The same friend joked, that next year our juniors could probably just bind my answer papers and read it instead of the textbook. It never hurt me however. In my final Literature exam at the end of high school, I wrote more than forty pages and scored 99 out of 100.

Verbosity has always been a loving friend to me. My essays in middle school used to be six-seven pages long, and I would only stop writing, once the final bell had rung, and my teacher had more often than not literally snatched the paper away from me. Writing till the last possible second is a habit I am yet to curb, during exams.

I remember one glorious day in tenth grade when all our lectures had been cancelled  due to some emergency teacher’s meeting, but unwilling to leave us all free for the rest of the day, our teacher had asked us to write a story on the topic ‘I wish I had wings…’ Unsurprisingly, no one in the class did…except me. When in the last period, our teacher came to collect the essays she found that no one had written anything, and the one who had was unwilling to give it. I had written ten pages, but I did not want to submit it yet. I told so to my teacher. Surprised, she urged me to tell her why. After a little pushing, I confessed that I had yet to finish my story….or to begin it one could also say. You see my plot was simple: a young village girl dreams of flying and on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus gifts her the ability to fly, and what she does after that. When my teacher came to collect the stories, I had only written till the part where she dreams of flying, and even Santa Claus’s grand entry was yet to be made. After I had explained this to my teacher, she was speechless for a second, and then groaned, “Archita, you shall be the death of me! Please, please don’t do something like this in your Board examination!” She was afraid I would waste so much time on that one question that I would not have enough time left to finish the rest of the paper. Despite her warning, my essay in my tenth board exams nearly reached twenty pages, but I made sure that I finished the rest of my paper beforehand. Yet this was the first time that I realized that as much as I loved my verbose style of writing with grandiose descriptions, brevity has its own charm.

Since then, I have trimmed my style a lot. I write my answers in bullet points, and try to be as concise as possible…at least in academic examinations. But at home with a pen and a sheet of blank paper in front of me – I run wild. My journals are filled with pages and pages of the day’s account in excruciatingly precise details (this year, I have already finished two 400 page journals. Last year, I used up 3 notebooks as my diaries). My ultimate dream is to write a diary entry so intricately detailed that when I open my journal, ten years from now, I can experience all that I am experienced a decade back with the same intensity that I felt then. Needless to say, I haven’t yet been successful in my attempt, but I am trying hard. I write in as much detail as Time and Memory would permit.

For me, words are the path to immortality. Maybe when I am 80 years old, I shall flip through the yellowed pages of my youth, and through the faded blue scribbles relive once again the forgotten past – laugh at the old jokes, chuckle at a daring prank, fondly remember forgotten friends, and for one moment someday the lines between the Past and the Present would blur. 

My verbosity is well known among my peer groups. My friends might tease me, but I am also pretty much in demand. Whenever someone has an important essay to write, they seek my advice. Sometimes before a literature exam, I have had to turn my phone off, so that I could ward off advice-seekers and study. For friends’ birthdays, I don’t have to waste a lot of time looking for the perfect gift. I usually give my friends a book (usually a personal favorite) with a personalized message inside. For some I might even write a poem, and those few scribbled lines alone often overshadow any extravagant gift anyone else might have bought 😛 On the last day of middle school, I was the one everyone wanted to have their slam books filled by. I remember, a girl with whom I had throughout my school life barely ever seen eye to eye with came up to me with her slam book, handed it to me, and said hesitatingly, “Write something good, ok?” 

Yet as much as I love verbosity, I do believe that brevity has its own utility. Sometimes the lesser you write, the better it is. I love reading and occasionally writing Flash Fiction.

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

Earnest Hemingway’s six-word story, written as part of a bet, is according to me more poignant than dozens of thick volumes of tragedy taken together. It is one of my favourite works in literature. The story leaves you wanting more, like any good short story should. You yearn to know more about the individuals who published this notice, but you can’t, and that’s when your brain start filling in the blank space underneath the words. You imagine the pain, the angst of the dead child’s parents. You question yourself is the child really dead? Was it a miscarriage? An abortion? Was she kidnapped? You try to imagine the mother’s pain, the pale face of the father …and the story stays with you, because it has, through its brevity transcended the world of fiction and entered the sphere of reality.

Someday I would love to gain that much mastery over the elusive skill of brevity. But never at the cost of losing my verbose style!

Today’s Daily Prompt: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal          Where do you fall on the brevity/verbosity spectrum?

Passing On a Reading Legacy

Ever since I can remember, I was fascinated by the bookcase. It stood in our family drawing room, filled with fat volumes of books that had no pictures. I knew they were my father and uncle’s books, and my childhood dream was to read all those books one day.
I would spend hours in front of the glass case, gazing enraptured at the dusty volumes within; craning my neck to gaze up at those books my short stature kept me away from. Like all kids I wanted to grow up quickly, and to my mind, hidden within those books that I could barely lift was the knowledge of a lifetime, that my parents and uncle had, and that I desired.
That one sunday a year when my parents would take all the books out to air them and dust them was probably my favorite day of the year, right next to the first day of summer vacations. I would sit next to the huge pile of books, and try to read them….or at least find one with pictures.
I was around 5 or 6 when I discovered the ‘Mystery of the Spiteful Letters’ by Enid Blyton within that pile. I was thrilled. I had already read Noddy and a few other of Blyton’s classics for children, but was yet to move on to reading her mysteries. This at least was an author I knew, and the book cover was a colourful orange with the picture of 5 kids. I wasn’t, yet, old enough to read on my own…not a novel at least, and my dad read out aloud to me. It was like a tradition. Every night before dinner he would read out to me, and together we would traverse through the written world of dreams and adventures, and I would fall asleep with the images still resonating within my mind.
That night I carried the book with me, and requested my father to read it out to me. He laughed and told me I was still too young for that book. I bristled at the suggestion, and insisted that he read it. He complied, and truthfully I did get a few nightmares for the first few nights, but I never told my parents about it, and this book started my lifelong romance with all kinds of mystery thrillers.
A few years ago, I rummaged the self-same bookcase for my first Agatha Christies.
Also I have made a few new additions to the shelves – JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, Dan Brown and Meg Cabot are just a few of the authors I have added to the rows already filled with tomes written by Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Shakespeare and other great literary giants.
This is my family’s reading legacy that has been passed down through generations to me…and yes, I am yet to finish reading ALL the books on the shelf. 

4 Fusion Foods – My Style

1. Fruit Custard with Gulab Jamuns and Vanilla Ice-cream: Every Sunday, after lunch, my dad will look at my mom and go “what’s for dessert?” She in turn will shrug and tell him that she isn’t cooking anything more, and if he wants dessert, he has to arrange for it himself….and my dad will. Usually it’s just ice-cream or some delicious concoction of our local sweet shop; sometimes cookies, but one Sunday he outdid himself.

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That delicious little bowl contains custard, succulent slices of bananas, apples and mangoes, some peeled litchis, luscious black grapes, two scoops of vanilla ice-cream, and is topped with tiny cherry-sized Gulab Jamuns. It is by far, the best dessert I have ever had in my life!! It’s happiness in a bowl!
2. Roti with Manchurian Balls: This is a recent innovation – a couple of days ago, me and my friend were having lunch together at our college canteen. I had a plate of fried rice and manchurian, while she had roti-sabzi. For some reason, neither of us much fancied the manchurian balls, and they remained on the plate, forlorn and lonely, long after we had finished the rice and gravy. Experimentally, I tried some of her rotis with a little bit of a manchurian. Lo and behold, it tasted really nice!
3. Sev Puri with Rotis – This is something I discovered during my school days. Roll up the crushed sev puri chaat in a roti, and be amazed at the surprisingly delicious taste.
4. Schezwan Vada Pav: This is actually available on the menu of Jumbo King outlets across Mumbai. I was a little skeptical when I first tried it, but now it’s my favorite item on the menu.

Inspired by today’s Daily Prompt

An Odd Encounter: Daily Prompt – An Odd Trio

Have you ever passed by a school house late at night? After it has been forsaken by it’s young pupils, after the grounds have stopped echoing with screams and laughter, and the blackboards have been wiped clean? The school, then, looks sad and forlorn – a dark, silent looming entity.
This was what I thought as I passed by the Springdale School on my way home at 10 last night. Built before Indian Independence by an Englishman, Lawrence Crawley, whose statue now stood outside the gate, the building was an interesting representation of Gothic splendor and excess. Lawrence Crawley looked over all who passed with a benign smile, his hand half-raised as if in blessing. With his flowing beard and knowing smile, he looked a wise, old man.
As I passed, I suddenly sneezed. Wiping my nose with my handkerchief, I was wondering if I was falling sick, when a voice interrupted: Bless you!
I swiveled around sharply to see the ghost of Lawrence Crawley beaming at me from over his stone shoulder.
The only thing that kept me from screaming and running away in terror was the fact that he was, at the most somewhere around 4 ft. 11 inches. It is practically impossible to be scared of a pearly white entity, that barely reaches your shoulders. So instead I asked him, “Who are you?”

Sir. Lawrence Crawley at your service. Now if you will pardon me asking, are you a girl with short hair, or a boy with long hair?

I am a girl!” I spluttered indignantly. He looked me up and down, with a puzzled look.

Well I am sure you can understand my confusion. Why would you cut your hair so short? Long tresses are the pride of any beautiful woman.

“I can think of a number of exceptions” I retorted hotly, but he was on a roll now, and barely heard me.

These new-fangled notions of fashion are so ridiculous! Pardon me for swearing in a lady’s presence…..but ladies nowadays swear just as much as, if not more than men!! What is the world coming to! You can’t live a gentleman’s life on it, anymore.

“You shouldn’t be anyway” I pointed out. He grinned maliciously:

Haven’t you heard that sneezing under a statue, calls upon its ghost?

NO!!!

Well I am sure it does, according to some superstitious belief of some group or cult, somewhere in the world. Doesn’t really matter. We’re moving away from the topic. Now, tell me, which young lady sneezes so loudly? Ladies sneezes are delicate things, like a baby’s laugh, not an elephant’s trumpet.

I blushed, and muttered a little defensively “There was no one around”.

That is not the point. It is a matter of etiquettes! Not that I would expect any lady wearing male trousers to understand manners and etiquettes!

He snorted derisively.
They are jealous 21 jeans” I cry out, eager to defend my favorite pair of denims.

Jeans? You mean denim trousers – only the laboring class wears that! And what’s that on your feet? Flippety-flops? Floppity flips?
Flip Flops!
What kind of name is that?! What kind of footwear is that?!

It’s comfortable!” I argue.

Ladies don’t dress for comfort! They dress to look pretty! Did you know that in China they force baby girls to wear metal shoes so that their feet remain small and delicate?

I started saying, “I am pretty sure they don’t…” but he was like a rolling barrel. Impossible to stop!

And what is a young lady like you doing out on the streets alone at this time of night? Without a male escort too!!
In my time there was none of this mumbo-jumbo about equality between men and women. How can women work with men? They don’t have the mental capacity to understand matters of finance and business. It’s a fact! I am not being biased. Women are good at other things that men can’t do – like bake cakes.
…..why are you making that abominable noise?!!

“I am coughing”, I said. “Don’t you know, if you cough in front of a ghost, he has to go away”.

What nonsense! Who says that?

“It’s a very widespread belief in Hogwarts” I said. He looked mystified:

Where is Hogwarts?

“It’s near Scotland” I told him. He looked annoyed.

Damn these new countries! They sprout up like weeds.

I coughed again, significantly. He sighed huffily:

Fine!

And with one final glare, he vanished.
I walked briskly and did not look back till I reached the end of the lane. Maybe it was a trick of the indecisive street lamp, but I could swear I saw the statue of Sir Lawrence Crawley wink 😉

Daily Prompt : Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.

Renovated Proverbs: 12 July 2014

One of the worst sights in this world are watching a train you intended to catch, leave.
So while I sit at the platform waiting for the next train, let me tell you a little bit about my day. Today in creative writing class, my teacher had the unique idea of giving us half of a popular proverb, and asking us to complete the sentence. These are some unique renovated proverbs me and my classmates came up with:

Better safe than…. Pregnant
(Only for Mumbai residents – the proverb me and my friend thought of was Better Safe And Leave Early Than Take A Virar Local)

People in glass houses shouldn’t… Change Clothes.
Also People in glass houses… Should use solar cookers.

Strike while… The Mother’s Out.

It’s always darkest before the… Movie Starts.
Also It is always darkest before… You turn the lights on.

You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t… Do That With A Lion.

Do not underestimate the power of…Desperation.

Do not bite the hand that…Pays You.

Love all, trust… Me.

Where there is smoke, there is… A Cigarette.

Somehow I like some of these, More Than The Originals 😛

Daily Prompt: An Odd Trio

I sit in the college canteen amidst the usual hustle-bustle of students, nursing a bowl of hot Manchow soup between my hands. The warmth feels nice on this dreary, cold morning. It has been raining continuously since yesterday afternoon, but knowing this is Mumbai, it will continue raining ceaselessly till tomorrow afternoon, if not longer. The wooden chairs painted a bright, sunshine yellow are the only spot of brightness under the dull gray sky, and I wonder if that is the reason they painted the chairs yellow in the first place. It is a strange colour to pick, without any thought or reason. Surely there must have been some reason…I pursue this train of thought for a while before realizing I am thinking about chairs! 

With lack of anything else to do, I sip some of the hot soup, and burn my tongue as a result. 

The cat comes up to me and meows piteously. The cat is our canteen cat. Nobody knows when and where she came from, but she is a constant presence in the college canteen. She isn’t an ordinary cat either. She has perfectly mastered the art of begging. She spends her days moving from student to student, meowing piteously and looking at us with pleading eyes (who knew a cat could master the ‘puppy eyes’ technique so well!) in a way that made it seem as if she has been starving for days (despite her fat girth). “Shoo!” I tell her, not knowing how exactly to serve soup to a cat. She gives me another adorably cute look, before realizing that I was going to stay firm.

With a final hiss, she moves on to the group at the next table. The girls ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over her, and as most of their kind do pet her belly and feed her tidbits from their plates; while the boys, as most of their kind do while the objects of their attention do not give them attention, glare sullenly. I spend a few more minutes observing the most popular feline socialite of our college. When in between there were rumours of her being pregnant, the entire college had been in a tizzy. The college newspaper even did a story on possible kitten names! 

I take another spoonful of soup, savouring the warm, spicy taste. 

A classmate walks by, holding a beach towel. I can’t stop myself from asking: “What are you doing with a beach towel?” The guy pauses, and looks confused for a minute, “I am not really sure. I had an epiphany that you needed it”. 

Why would I need a beach towel?” I ask mystified. 

You don’t need it. You need to see it” he explains patiently, before walking away.

I continue drinking my soup, and wonder idly why the tables were painted red…?

Today’s Daily Prompt: An Odd Trio