Saturday, April 28, 2007


The long-tail cut across the jagged surface of the ocean just as everything disappeared in one vast brush-stroke of blackness. The sounds around me - the drone of the engine, the rumbling of the ocean - struggled to escape the enveloping silence that seemed to descend from the sky. It was as if we were staring into the eye of darkness.

The island revealed itself onto our left every now and then - some lighted part of the shore, an array of cottages bordering the white sand beach, and dark hills that I knew flanked them. The long-tails swayed near the shore, in limbo, fleeing the absence behind and hesitant of the presence in front.

The lamp revealed half a lip and chin, adding glimpses of an eye or a nose as the boat crashed into the lashing waves. The red glow of the cigarette on the dark side helped fix the contours of the face. The man stood at the stern, now quiet, alert, guiding me to my destination.

Spray of salt water on the face

The ocean, restless and foreboding, held back its stunning visuals from us. The fluorescent blue and pastel yellow striped fishes with the wonderstruck look in their eyes, metallic green algae on dark purple coral, anemones, the black spiky balls I didn’t have a name for yet – Where were they now? Did they look the same even in this ink blot of pitch black? If I dived in for a peek now, would the waters be as benevolent as it were a few hours ago? What unspeakable creatures awaited me from the chilling depths of the ocean?

My mind bobbed along with my body in that vast sea of emptiness.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Encounter of a Different Kind

Now I have had a bit of the "Indo-Pak" experience. From Group Discussions in college and late night sessions in college canteens, to a trip to the beautiful Kashmir and the electric Wagah Border, to even memories of a bomb-blast that was linked to terror groups in my nice little haven in Kerala.
I'm not an extremist and do believe that history is what historians tell us and hence do not have a very strong view of what happened back then. Though my views on the current situation is clear and strong. Hence an India-Pakistan cricket match is more than just another match, even though that is what I try hard to keep it to. (Well I really can't defend this with conviction after the recent WC experience and the way cricket has moved in our country. Anyway that is just to make a point)
No, this is not about cricket.
There has to be a name for this tactical move, though I'm sure the person I'm about to mention did not intend it as a tactical move - like a Queen's gambit or something. I find it hard to imagine the two leaders sitting across a table to discuss Siachin or Kashmir, and the leader from across the border telling Mr.Singh this. Without much ado, this is what happened,
I was walking home after a late night movie in Dhoby Ghaut. That is a place in Singapore and it is not very hard to figure out the origins of that name. I'm crossing a green signal when I see this guy cross from the other side - lean, boney to conjure a better picture, with a balding head and his hair pasted to the scalp, black rimmed glasses balanced on the nose bridge, and a white faded tee and black trousers giving away the lean frame beneath - much like a malnourished geek from college.
Now we cross in the middle of the road when he queries,
"Excuse me.. Hi.. can you tell me the way to Orchard. (Another Place in Singapore)"
I'm looking at the signal start to blink. Before I can answer,
"You look like a Pakistani. Are you a Pakistani?"
A bit taken-aback - I don't know if that is the right set of words that describe the moment, but something like that - I tell him,
"No.. eh.. I'm an Indian"
"You look like a Pakistani"
"Ok.. Orchard is that way" pointing my fingure
"Ok" As he begins to walk away, he looks back and says,
"You look like a Pakistani. Are you?"
"No.. I'm an Indian"

Monday, April 09, 2007


Don't forget to read the part about the Piranhas!