The second epidemic (here’s the first one) that I was talking about is the 2$ white board I made to remind me of the countless project and ppts I have to submit in the course of getting an MBA. Here’s how to go about it:-

1) A 1-metre plastic sheet (the kind used to cover books.
2) A whiteboard marker.
3) Transparent or brown cellotape.

I’m sure the rest is simple. Stick it onto a wall, preferably a white or a light coloured one. Scribble away.

“In allocating resources, school education must have primacy. Hence I propose to increase the allocation for school education by about 35 percent from Rs. 17,1333 crore in 2006-07 to Rs. 23,142 crore in 2007-08”Hmm. Wonder where the money will actually go…

Had made this image a long time ago. Uploaded it now. Must be more prompt in future.

Now that my keyboard has start clicking, it doesn’t feel like stopping. Looking at the sudden flurry of posts on my blog after a long time of inactivity, I feel that there is something periodic about creativity. I feel that creativity is likely to come in bursts. There are times when a person is at a low mental energy level for a long time and then suddenly due to some trigger or stimulus, something clicks somewhere and out comes a long list of ideas. This probably explains why sometimes my blog isn’t updated for a long long time and then I keep on spewing out post after post. Though there are ways how one can artificially stimulate oneself (no naughty naughty, I mean through exercises like brainstorming), personally I feel that it is better to let the creative spark come on its own. I read somewhere on the net that the best ideas are likely to come in the bed, the bus or the bath. Was it Einstein who said this? I don’t remember clearly. For me the best ideas come during bathing or just after meditation. Yup when the mind isn’t thinking of something important, that is the time when it is most likely to come up with new ideas.

Here is an excellent article which reconfirms why blogging daily is not that important. Time Magazine, however, doesn’t agree with this theory of creativity in burst and has a nice article here. Just to test out my theory, I sorted my blog posts and created a chart showing frequency of posts month-wise. And it seems that there is a periodicity of about three-four months when I blog at a healthy rate (I’ll have to improve this).

Thought partly I also feel that the inactivity on my blog could be due to my laziness. I think up of ideas, write a post in my mind, but I’m too lazy to convert it to a concrete form. Another thing I have to improve.

“Anna!” Ramesh shouted out to one of his waiters, “take this order to the Apogee institute.”

Anna looked up from the table he was wiping, slapped the wet cloth over his shoulders and ran up to the manager’s seat.

“What am I taking?” he asked.

“It’s a Mysore masala dhosa and an onion uttapa. Go to the second floor and get this bill signed. And come back soon. There are many deliveries to be made,” Ramesh said.

“Will they give the money or…” Anna started to ask.

“No, they’ll probably add it to their account. Stupid people, can’t even pay regularly. So just get the bill signed, okay?” he explained.

Theek hai,” Anna replied and picked up the plate which was kept on Ramesh’s counter.

Arre, cover it with a newspaper first,” Ramesh reminded.

Feeling embarrassed, he grabbed a newspaper from the sheets hanging beside the counter and covered the dish carefully.

“What’s wrong Anna, aren’t you well? You look worried,” Ramesh asked him.

“Nothing, sir,” Anna replied. “My sister is getting married in a few months and I’m worried. There are a lot of things to take care of in the village. I may require a few weeks’ leave.”

“OK, we’ll discuss that later today. Go now, you’re getting late for the other deliveries,” Ramesh told him.

“Yes, sir,” he said and rushed outside.

Ramesh turned around to find someone to take the next delivery until Anna returned. Hardly had he left the counter when he heard a loud screech and the harsh scraping of metal on asphalt. Since the noise was so loud, he assumed that the accident had happened somewhere close to the restaurant. The road in front of the restaurant was notorious for such accidents. It being a college area, one could see teenagers showing off their fancy bikes and cars. Sometimes they went overboard in their stunts and crashed into something or the other. Just last week, a boy had crashed into the back of a rickshaw and toppled the unstable vehicle over. In the time the rickshaw driver managed to get out, the offending car and its occupant had already reached southwards to the next suburb. The rickshaw driver, bleeding from his head, tried to single-handedly turn his vehicle the right side but couldn’t manage. Ramesh had run out and had brought him in to his restaurant, made him sit on of his table and had attended to the driver’s wounds.

Even as Ramesh stepped out on the road, he saw that a crowd had already gathered around the fallen person. He could see a bike lying a few metres away from the crowd. The headlight had broken and there was glass everywhere. He looked further away to see a safety helmet just rolling to a halt. The safety helmet didn’t look too safe in the middle of the road. As soon as it rolled to a stop, a car would suddenly strike it again and it would get thrown to another part of the road. Ramesh, normally a hardcore fan of football, didn’t appreciate the irony of the game which was being played out there. He looked up towards the sky and mouthed, “If you’re trying to be funny, that isn’t definitely isn’t.”

The impatient honking of the cars caught his attention and he turned towards the people in the crowd who were pointing and mumbling among themselves. No one moved to help the victim whom Ramesh still could not see. He pushed his way through the crowd and was shocked when he saw Anna lying spread-eagled on the ground. He didn’t seem to be bleeding but he clearly was in pain. He ran to the fallen boy and asked him whether he could move. The pain was evident in Anna’s face as he tried to shake his head. His face was twisted into a painful grimace. Ramesh ran his hand over Anna’s hands and legs to see if there was any fracture. He glanced up at the faces in the crowd who were still looking down at the whole spectacle. Ramesh tried to control his frustration and asked them to help him lift up the boy and carry him into the restaurant. A few people came forward and took positions beside Anna. He had suffered a huge cut on his forearm which was bleeding rapidly.

“Ok, everyone together now, lift,” he said.

Just as they lifted Anna, one of his hands plopped down lifelessly and hung by the boy’s side at an unnatural angle.

The crowd was pointing anew at this new development, towards the bloody hand which was oscillating with very step Ramesh took towards his restaurant. Blood was dripping freely from Anna’s right hand, dripping on to the ground, dripping on to the trousers of the people who had gathered around him. The crowd suddenly decided that the whole affair was over and went back on their ways. The few people whose clothes the blood had dirtied, grumbled and swore silently. Ramesh and the men gently lay Anna on an empty table. Ramesh carefully put Anna’s hand by his side, and pressed his handkerchief against the cut. He told one of the waiters to run to the clinic nearby and call the doctor. He directed another to bring some water. He quickly checked for any other cuts, and felt relieved when he didn’t find any.

The doctor arrived and immediately set open his bag on the table. He fumbled with the antiseptic solution and told Ramesh to remove the handkerchief from the wound.

“I’ll take it up from here,” the doctor said.

Ramesh left the blood red handkerchief on the table and sat on his counter with a heavy sigh.

“What do you think doctor?” Ramesh asked, worried. “How bad is it?”

The doctor grunted while wrapping the bandages around Anna’s arm. He had already dabbed some soapy water on his arm and the bleeding had reduced. The twisted arm looked less bloody. “Well, it looks like that he has a fracture in his left hand. But he will survive. Won’t you?” the doctor asked, looking at Anna.

The boy could manage a weak smile.

“He was lucky that it was a two-wheeler,” the doctor continued. If a car had hit him at this speed, it could have been much worse. Speaking of that, where is the driver of the motorcycle? Was he hurt?” asked the doctor.

“I don’t know. I never saw him,” said Ramesh dismissively. One of the waiters replied for him, “No sir, he wasn’t hurt. I think he was just bleeding from his mouth.” The waiter had seen the driver stand up after some time. He had collected his helmet, climbed on his bike and had driven off.”

Ramesh ran his hands through his hair, and looked around. Everyone was looking at the table on which Anna was lying and watching the doctor work. Slowly, the customers resumed their lunches, some mumbling silent prayers for the boy while others shaking their heads at the carelessness of the waiter. “See how young the boy is. I hope he gets well soon.” “He should have looked on both sides before crossing the road. People run about on the road and the driver of the vehicles has to take the blame.”

Ramesh stared at the bowl of saunf kept on his counter. Just then the phone rang. Although he was in no mood to pick it up, he did. A clearly irritated voice spoke, “Arre Ramesh yaar, why haven’t you sent the dhosa yet? How long should we wait for it? Our lunch time is already over. Tell your boys to be fast, man. Those stupid guys stand at the paan shop all day and smoke. Put some sense in their heads, will you?” Ramesh listened quietly as the voice shouted profanities and reminded him to be strict with his employees. Without showing any sign of anger, Ramesh quietly kept the receiver back into its cradle and walked out of the restaurant. He glanced at Anna from the corner of his eye and stepped out on the pavement. He looked around at the road. People had resumed their work, vehicles were plying normally. Some one had carried the plate of the dhosa to one side of the road. He watched the people walk over it carefully. A few dogs caught its sight and sniffed at the strange mixture. They overturned the plate and started to devour the contents heaped on the road. Ramesh saw the bill floating in a puddle of water nearby. It was coloured with Anna’s blood. The water mixed with the blood and absorbed it until the redness dissolved completely. All signs of the accident had vanished.

Ramesh looked up across the street. He could see a big board advertising the institute. He read slowly “Apogee Institute”. Below it in bold letters – “Etiquette: You learn it here.”

I finally decided to upload this short story I wrote long back. I had previously given it out to few people to review it and comment on any errors I had made. I’ve decided to post it online. I’m dividing it into three parts so that everyone can read it easily. Hope you find it interesting.

Update: This story is set in India. The dialogues between the characters are as spoken by locals. This may include ungrammatical English. To update readers on the vernacular language/references, I’ve included footnotes at the end of the story (part 3).

A friend in need
by Kirtan Acharya

Mohan had just returned from work, and was settling down to read his evening newspaper. Glancing through the paper, he commented to his wife, “Nothing but crime in the papers. Look at what is happening in New Delhi. That city is going to the dogs.”

His wife brought him his tea and sat down beside him. She turned to Mohan and said, “That’s true. Luckily, the situation is much better in Mumbai. With Priya’s call-centre[1] job, I would have been really worried if we were in some place like Delhi or Gurgaon.”

Mohan said while sipping his tea, “Oh yeah. Has Priya talked to her boss about her raise? She’s been working there for three years. They should make her the group leader by now. It will be a boost in her career prospects and will…”

His wife interrupted, “Don’t you think we should get her married now? I have had to make excuses so many times to Mona aunty. She was saying that she knows a few suitable boys for our Priya. Don’t let her work longer now, otherwise her marrying age will pass and then no one will marry her later.”

“But let us first ask her what she wants and when she wants to get married.” said Mohan.

“Why to ask her? You have spoiled your daughter to no end,” Mohan’s wife complained. “See, all her friends are already married.”

“But Sheila, are they happy?” Mohan turned towards Sheila and asked her. “These youngsters think it’s a fad to fall in love and get married. But do they take responsibility for maintaining their marriage? See how Radha’s marriage has turned out. She’s not even 23 and her parents got her married. Now what is happening between them? Fights, arguments and nothing else. Look at Priya instead. She’s just 24 but she can live on her own. She may still be single, but she can stand on her own feet. She’s responsible and I’m sure when she feels she’s ready she’ll herself say that she wants to get married.”

“Hope she doesn’t have a boy-friend. Guys, these days, can’t trust them. Just the other day, Mona aunty was talking about how one guy living in her society building dumped her girlfriend and ran away to Dubai. What would happen if…?” Sheila moaned.

Mohan interrupted, “That Mona aunty seems to take much pleasure in gossiping about other people’s misfortunes. Doesn’t she?” Mohan folded the newspaper and stretched himself. He lay down on the couch and closed his eyes.

Still worried, Sheila asked, “Why don’t you talk with Priya? Ask her indirectly whether she has a boyfriend. Do it at least for me. I’ll feel better.”

“Yes dear, you’re right. I’ll talk with her,” Mohan agreed, wanting to end the topic. Sheila took the empty tea cup from the table and stood up. “I better start preparing dinner,” she said and went to the kitchen. Still lying on the couch, Mohan spoke out to his wife, “Sheila, you remember Deepak? My friend from college?”

Sheila’s voice rang out from the kitchen, “Yeah, you told me about him. He was one of your closest friends in college, wasn’t he? What’s he doing now?”

“Yes, he was one of my closest pals. He was a quiet and an intelligent fellow. I didn’t meet him since he got married. But you know I saw him today while coming back from work. I was at a traffic signal and he was in a rickshaw just beside my car. I called out to him. He was on his way somewhere. He said he was looking for a place to rent a car for a few days. I told him to take Priya’s car instead. I gave him our address and invited him to our house for dinner. He said he will be here at around eight.”

Mohan stretched for the TV remote and fiddled with it. “Why isn’t the TV working?” Mohan asked. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. It’s not working since afternoon. I couldn’t even watch my serials,” answered Sheila. “Did you call the showroom? It’s not even five months since we bought the TV.”

“No, I didn’t have the phone number. Please see if you have their card with you. I don’t want to miss the final episode of the All India Talent Hunt tonight,” reminded Sheila over the whistle of the pressure cooker.

“OK, I’ll call them up. Don’t worry,” Mohan removed his wallet from his trousers and found the card. “Kkiran TV Sales and Service,” Mohan read out and smiled to himself, “It seems that even these fellows have caught the Ekta Kapoor bug[2].” He dialed the TV showroom’s number and asked them to send someone to look at the problem. He kept the phone clearly irritated. He imitated in an obsequious tone, “Yes sir, we’ll immediately send our customer support representative to deal with the issue.”

“Do these guys charge so much for using such hi-fi language?” Mohan asked his wife.