Naan fiction

The story of my life
What is a blog without a space for some gossip, joys and frustrations of one’s life? It is not that tit-bits from my life are of interest to you or that it matters. Writing in a blog is like singing in a bathroom – it is a place for self-expression. It is written for the sake of writing, with no expectation that anyone will read it. Like bathroom singing, at best it amuses those who happen to hear it and at worst it annoys. I recognise that you, my reader, have reached this place in your journey to somewhere else and while you are here, I hope to amuse more than annoy.

P.s. You must be wondering why this is called “naan fiction”. Naan in Tamil means Me or I; welcome to the story of my life.



Just learned that one of the first to welcome me to the US is now gone. Pepsi, the adorable lab, with all her energy and love was a constant companion during my first five years in this country. There is so much to remember about Pepsi. Our long walks. Her “let’s play” look, and how she mistook me for my cousin– or should I say, her ‘dad’ – once. I will remember for a long time how I had to open the bedroom door when it was time to sleep and race to bed before Pepsi could occupy the whole […]

To a ‘Pepsi’ I loved


As an active listener, I often nod my head as I listen to people.  Turns out that I do it a little more vigorously than most other people – and this has become a trademark.  During a visit to a very remote village in Rajasthan, all the children of the village followed me for a whole day.  They would ask me questions and when I nodded in agreement every one of them nodded with squeals of laughter. My nodding also has its South Indian touch to it, and so I nod slightly differently when I answer in the affirmative or […]

You’ve got my nod




I have been wondering for a while how I would announce to you the gender of the child once we got to know it.  If it’s a girl, I’ll change my website to a pink theme and have balloons floating around was my first thought.  I did not have an idea what I’d do with a boy.  The thought lasted just a few seconds before I embarrassed myself with putting the child-to-be in gendered containers.  I myself had been fond of pink for a long time.  I remember a shopping trip during my primary school days when I demanded pink […]

It’s a…


Joy, fear, pride, panic, love, relief and a range of other nouns could have explained my emotions when I heard the news from Dr. K.  To be honest, my dominant reaction was ‘eh, ok’.  After all, it’s not a new release of an iPad or some other cool gadget on which you start getting excited nine months in advance, right?  We were merely dealing with an organism that was then just a set of twenty or so cells, dividing itself like bacteria and fighting its way to a temporary shelter. Not something to be excited about so much in advance. […]

The start of a long journey



I am sorry to disappoint you in case you came here for some gossip on our friends, Bill & Melinda.  This article is about two bizarre structures, one in Delhi and one in Los Angeles.  The front gate of the Delhi School of Economics is massive and ornate, and it is supported by pillars that hold the massive gate on either side. It is said that the two pillars are called truth and knowledge.  What is special about these gates is that they have never been opened, and people have been forced to use the rear entrance to access the […]

Two bizarre gates



The woman sitting next to me was travelling on air for the first time. She grew up in a small town and there was not much discussion about air travel among her friends. I did my share to make her feel comfortable. We did a round on how to buckle the seat belt, how to turn on the light, how to turn off the air vents and whether she should hold her three month old tight through the flight. After we reached the altitude she asked, “Chal rahi hai kya” (is it going?). I heard it as “Jal rahi hai […]

Hawa mein bath: Stories from the Indian airspace



Will it be a church wedding, Hindu wedding or both, asked a friend. Neither. Oh?!…Will you tie a Thali? No. Will you exchange rings? No. Oh!? …Will there be ceremonial music at least? No. Then what do you mean by getting married? That was my friend’s reaction when I told him that I will get married in Madras in July. He got me thinking about the meaning of ‘getting married’, to be distinguished from less interesting topic – the meaning of marriage. I guess all of us will agree that ‘getting married’ deals with a transformation in the state of […]

The meaning of ‘getting married’


Pandit Ji’s tea stall was the first to open in Delhi University and he was greeted by six of us waiting for him impatiently. I think that my five canine companions were brothers and sisters; I do not know their ancestry, but I get a clear idea from the choice of expletives that were used when they had sex in front of his shop. But for such brief encounters, there was a symbiotic relationship between them and the shop. The university with its adjoining forest cover invited joggers, walkers, laughers and feeders every morning. A brisk middle-aged man stopped by […]

Dogs of Delhi University




I returned home with my body pulling me in two directions. It felt like there was a layer of glue in my throat pulling the layers of my throat together; I had never felt that parched. My bladder on the other hand felt like the Mettur dam after a heavy monsoon shower: ready to burst any minute unless the floodgates are opened. Do I go left to the kitchen to quench my thirst, or do I first go right to the restroom? I paused for a moment to consider the dilemma and decided to check my e-mail instead. Checking e-mail […]

Needs, priorities, habits


There is never a moment of dullness when the opposites meet “I hid the camera, is there anything else that I should hide?” The preparation for Vipul’s visit started with this. Vipul and Dr. K and polar opposites in two ways. Vipul’s cardinal philosophy is: if I see a button, I press it. Inevitably, he has a history of ipods, laptops and other devices crashing with his interventions. The highlight of this trip being the crash of the ticketing machine at the railway station; he could simply not resist playing with while he waited to be picked up. Dr. K […]

The twain shall meet


Love needs surveillance, and nothing escapes the eyes of Dr. K. She has the uncanny ability of retracing my day with telltale details. Within minutes of returning from work she normally recounts whether I ate, napped, read, did the laundry, etc. Normally her account is accurate. So, when she came home and declared that I did not go swimming as I had promised, I was surprised. “But I did go swimming”, I told her. She looked puzzled and asked me what towel I used and I pointed out the brown towels that we regularly use in the bathroom. “You don’t […]

A nightmare abut towels



Shiva looked comfortable. He was resting his back on a pile of bags and threw his legs on another pile in front of him, his foot going as high as his head on the other direction. With his head resting on his clasped palms behind him, and the face sporting an elaborate smile, he looked like he was resting on a hammock, and not a jeep full of people and things. Our jeep was loaded with stuff, after all, it was carrying the baggage of nine people who had travelled for a seven day trip to Rajasthan. Two hours down […]

Travelling with Shiva


I discovered that the papers that I had written with a lot of hard work were cited only once in the last four years. A note on the academic peril of working hard in writing what will probably be never read by any one. To publish is to perish. Read on.

Publish and perish


With 15 minutes to go for the Jaipur-Delhi bus, I decided to give the toilet a try. I was directed to dark and damp room with an Indian styled pit-toilet. After finding the only dry spot to stand on, I precariously balanced my pants on my shoulders with nowhere else to hang them. Just when I was to get into business there was a loud crashing sound on my door, and the sound repeated itself in every five seconds along all the doors in the toilet complex. It was a muscular man in a hurry. “Are you mad”, shouted my […]

All in a day’s trip



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This is a desperate attempt to create a story where none exists. As a young man who has freshly returned from the United States after announcing his white girlfriend, I expected some fireworks when I got home; but all was calm on the eastern front. I thought, perhaps an announcement that I will be moving to LA with her could create excitement; that did not help. Will it help if the cause if I make it clear that we have not decided to marry? That did not either. I am sorry to tell you, my reader, that I have no […]

Creating history


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Death needs preparation. Preparation, especially for those who will be left behind, and I have started preparing for the death of a close one. She has been my bedside companion for many years, and the holder of my most intimate thoughts. She has been a part of my conversations with friends, my work and my leisure. She is the one I turned to when I woke up, and she put me to sleep for many a year. It looks like she may die soon. When she dies, she will take with her a part of me – naturally. A friend […]

Preparing for the death of a close one