127 Seconds!

The far roads lay straight for miles, empty in all its glory. The sun was slowly fading from the horizon.

All around you, it was just the road and your car- accelerating and decelerating at its twists and turns. The solo ride and the wind gushing onto the face- the feel was exhilarating despite the humid, sticky, hot weather where mercury often hissed the halfway boiling point.

Paying no attention to what my Google Maps had to say, the car was moving in tandem with the roads as if she had a mind of her own. As the roads grew narrower, the sand and debris on them grew thicker. A 120kmph speed on a sandy road jilted the steering and got the cautious adrenaline junkie off guard.

It was time to pay heed to the road. Were the fates trying to say something?

Well, they were!

While drifting into the next turn, the car came to a sudden halt. As far as the eye could see, the roads were covered with sand. Trusting her 180 horses, she inched headlong onto the battlefield.

And stuck!

She and I were one on the tarmac. Then with a thwack on the head, I came to my senses.

The tires were submerged in the sand. So much for trying crazy antics with a sedan.

I was in the middle of nowhere. My head, as crazy as it is, went to disaster mode. Will I have to live there? No one or nothing in hand, would I have had to live in my car, till maybe a week later, some patrol car finds me hallucinated and deprived of nutrition, or even worse, dead and decayed on the driver’s seat.

What seemed like a lifetime was just hardly 10 seconds on the clock! Too much for me and my mind’s drama. I looked around my seat- I had a water bottle, a protein bar that had fallen in the car from the previous day’s grocery bag. And to top it, my phone had all its bars.

Now, all it was left was to call the cops to help me get towed or try maneuvering on my own. I could get more stuck. Well, you know me.

Strapped back to the seat and floored the accelerator, the tachometer gained might, yet we didn’t move an inch. Put the car in reverse and floored the gas again; nothing but the engine revved up to the reds.

So much for a front-wheel-drive car!

Necessity is the mother of invention. A split second later, I rotated the steering wheel to an angle and revved up. Turned to the other side and floored the pedal again. Tried it a couple more times, and voila, the tires were dislodged from the sand.

Reversed the car and went back up the road. No one. Eerily calm and pleasantly quiet. And well, she and me became one, and we roared onto the road.


Have you ordered a thali home?

Little plastic cups filled with delectable dishes enough to fill your tummy and increase its circumference momentarily. Or better, a plastic tray with each of the cubby holes filled with choicest of the dishes.

But have you had the pothichoru?

An ambrosial experience (if I may)!

Pothi means a pack. Choru translates to rice- but when combined, it forms the archaic Malayalee lunch pack- an essential culinary delight every Mallu boasts.

A nostalgic moment, more than anything- pothichoru used to be the lifeblood for lunches in schools, colleges and offices, back in the day. From home, with love, a bundle of joy is sent with you. You push over the drudgery of the day, thinking hopefully about lunchtime, where you could experience your mother’s fine cooking skills.

A mound of rice is placed on a banana leaf, wilted just right to release its natural aroma. On it, coarsely ground dry coconut chutney and a scented lemon pickle is kept. On one side of the rice, thoran- an eloquent preparation of cabbage and carrot in coconut oil is served. The other side has a semi-liquid preparation- maybe an avial (the mix of any and every vegetable again in copious amounts of coconut puree) or kaalan (the princely dish made with raw banana and yam in coconuty yogurty blend). Adorning the crest of the rice is a piece of fried fish and a small omelette/sunny side up (only for the pescatarians)

A Kerala pappadam is also kept on top; after all, what Kerala lunch is complete without a pappadam. This menagerie is tightly wrapped and kept aside to age for a few hours or so.

The aroma from the banana leaf has spread across the pothi; all the smells and tastes have made inroads into the rice.

At lunchtime, you open it, and a captivating smell is in the air.

The soggy pappad, the fish and the egg are moved to the side, and then you proceed to dig your fingers into the rice to weave a harmony of taste and smell- I salivate as I write this sentence. The hands move in a circular motion, forming bite-sized balls of the rice mix, and with each bite, you experience a mini foodgasm- hearty and without a worry in the world, you devour the whole thing.

The nostalgia behind the pothichoru aside, the food fills your heart, body and soul.


She stretched her arms and legs. It felt so effortless today. The air she breathed was pure and light- like it caressed her lungs in a way like never before. Her heart wasn’t beating slower or faster than it should be. As her foot touched the floor, she felt a connection between her and Mother Earth.

She got up from the bed, stretched again and walked towards the window. A pale ray of the sunlight was falling on her face. The early morning sun had never been more welcoming.

She looked out of the window; kids were playing on a ground not far away. Middle-aged walkers were brisk walking, trying to burn the excess calories of the previous day.

Her glance moved to the main road.

Early morning office-goers were piling into buses at the nearest bus stop. The morning was in all its glory.

She was feeling alive more so than ever. Her stance was strong, and she was ready to face the day headlong.

Something felt amiss. A cup of coffee, was it? She turned around, blissful as she could be and then suddenly she met reality- her ears and eyes adjusted to the cacophony of human and machine sounds.




A bunch of doctors and nurses were huddled around a hospital bed- trying to defibrillate a patient. The patient on the bed was shaking whilst a high voltage electric current passed through the body. She inched towards them to see what was happening. And at that moment, she heard a shocked voice and a machine noise. It was all over!

Her eyes went pale as she caught a glimpse of the patient’s face and the flatlined heart monitor as the nurses covered her face with a white shroud!!


Hazy vision, stifled breathing, heart racing at 120 bps, constricted blood flow in my hands, overall choked up feeling- my day couldn’t have been better.

Reading the title + the first line might have brought in a thought that I had that ‘virus’.

Thank God, no!

At least, not yet!

Praying never!

That is how I felt gearing up, while I went for my COVID PCR test. Hazy vision owing to the face shield, stifled breathing as I wore 2 masks (a 3 ply surgical under the icing on the cake- a N95), heart racing at 120 bps (well, that was just stress). 2 gloves had given my hand a rubbery feeling and the overall choked up feeling was by wearing a PPE overall (the shop specially brought from the distributor just for me, alas- was tad 2 sizes small)

The lab was just a short while away from my place. As I got in the car, the overall gave way, ripping in desperation. Now it was just 2 pieces of cloth dangling over my body. Throwing it out and getting back in the car, now it was just the face shield, masks and gloves for my safety.

At the lab, I was totally overdressed for this party sans the astronaut style PPE clad nurses.

Most of them were just wearing a mask. Some had gloves. Some were just wearing cloth masks. At a place with a higher probability of getting infected, better to be safe than sorry.

The testing was quite fast. From filling out the form to getting the nose swab, I was in and out in less than 30 mins. To say, it took me more time to find the lab than being in the lab.

And testing negative, boy, that was a sigh of relief. A relief, that I stayed safe during the safe season.

The season ahead is worth the watch!! Hope to stay safe and requesting all to be vigilant. A momentary lapse can end you up in the daily government tally. Stay safe!!

**runs to sanitize hands** 😉

The Art of Making Tea!

Tea- a beverage fabled as a drink mistakenly discovered by the Chinese and made ever-so fanciful by the British over its vast empire including India.

Earliest historical reference on Tea in India dates back to 12th century AD while the British started producing it commercially and with China, India constitutes over 60% of the global tea cultivation.

Being an indispensable part of the daily routine, making tea varies from person to person, household to household. Hundreds of varieties make its preparation an art, and if ‘yours sincerely’ were to make it, it would be a dis’art’ster.

Either tired because of no sleep or tired of sleeping too much, be it with 3 hours sleep or 12 hours sleep, waking up groggy has always been my forte.

Post ablutions, the moment I step out of my room, a cup of steaming hot ‘chai’ would be sitting on the dining table, its aroma wafting through the air.
Intricately spiced with cardamom, cloves and ginger, its sweetness just right, this cup of joy had always been my mood raiser and deciding factor for how the day was going to be.

Then one day, I got up to an empty home. My family had left me ‘Home Alone’ for some shopping.
Expecting that the usual cup of tea would still be there, I walked to the dining table, teeming in anticipation.

The dejected look on my groggy face was seemingly becoming evident as the table had no cup of tea..

COVID time cooking experimentation had made me transform from a novice cook who knew just one dish to a fairly decent cook who could whip up something at ease. Biriyani, pasta, curries for roti, you name it, I could try to. Disaster stricken kitchen, pots and pans lying berserk post-cook is on you.

Just one hiccup!

I wasn’t very sure about how to make tea.

My earlier experiences of making tea and coffee were limited to my Nespresso machine or emptying a premix sachet or my office regular black coffee with no sugar.

So I did try.

Put the water to boil, added the tea leaves, a clove, cardamom pod and waited for the smell to waft through the air.

It did.

A pungent, putrid smell did waft through the air. Was it the cloves or the cardamom? Or was it the tea leaves? A quick smell test ensured all were smelling the way it was supposed.

Then it hit me, a slap on my face.

I added three tablespoons of tea instead of the 1-1.5 teaspoons, which was the norm. Watering down the brew was the only option.

To make me a cup of tea, I transferred the foul-smelling liquid into a bigger pot and added water enough to make tea for all the houses on my floor.

I left it simmering and went to attend a call.

My parents were calling to check if their gargantuan little boy was up.

Tea was simmering, and I went on talking.

It would be an exaggeration if I told you that my tea leaves were devoid of colour and the tea was pitch black. Well!

It had simmered for too long.

The smell had gone, or was it just olfactory adaptation?

I added milk powder to the glass and was pouring hitherto to another to get my froth on.

Alas, it was too strong. I kept on adding milk powder, enough to feed a child from age 1 to age 3 in the cup of tea, and it ended up becoming a thick mash.

I could freeze it to make a pudding.

A cup of tea, a feeling of joy, a sip of bliss had turned to become a slurry of mayhem.

Tomorrow, I intend to make coffee. I can hear the rejoicing Columbian coffee growers.

TLDR: I screwed up making tea! Exaggeration- quite a bit.  

An Unspoken Word

It was just a white curtain that separated them inside a large room in a hospital bustling with patients, doctors, nurses and bystanders. Busy as always- people were filing in and out- of course, they were as this was the pre-COVID era.

Two beds on either side- an older man was sitting on a chair at the far end of the room. He was snoozing lazily on the chair, waking up troubled every time he heard some mild sound. He had dark circles under his eyes- he hadn’t slept in days. His chair was between the window and a bed where an old lady lay.

She lay motionless next to the windowsill on a bed far too large for her. The rays of the morning sun had its way on her face. She was as radiant as the rising sun. Her wrinkled face was glorious, calm and elegance intertwined even as she lay still. Tufts of wavy silver hair was falling on to her face. Her body rose and fell with mild undulations- the only sign that showed that she was still alive. The dangling remote control for the bed was moving in sync to her breath. Monitors and screens were stable with squiggly lines moving hitherto. A central line was placed on her neck, her life support for medication and fluids to keep her alive.

She was a mother, a wife and a daughter. She had everything- a high profile job till she retired, drove a Mercedes till she couldn’t drive anymore, a large house, staff to wait on her head to foot, everything she needed and wanted. And something she did not need, definitely didn’t wish to have- cancer- oesophagal carcinoma.

It was almost cured, she was better. The lost hair was slowly growing. She was talking. And well.

And then, she collapsed during a function. People were filing in day in and out while she was at the hospital. Soon the number started dwindling. Then it was just her and her husband. The painkillers were always keeping her sedated. He was there, every day, every night, by her side- just going home to get fresh sets of clothes.

On the other side of the room, he was getting restless on his bed. The IV cannula on his hand was being filled with one medicine after the other by a nurse. His little eyes were fixated directly upfront. A piercing look from him bore deep into the nurse’s heart as he winced in pain. The doctor told him he is getting better. His ‘neck thing’ was off since yesterday, and he was counting his days for his ‘hand thing’ to be removed. His little fingers counted days. Days were becoming months, and months were almost becoming a year. He had lost count now.

He was a boy, full of fun and frolic, climbing trees and throwing stones at trees and boys who jumped on the trees. He was a studious chap, scoring well in his class. He and the boys were enjoying life till he fell on the ground that fateful day. The nurse in the school gave him a glass of glucose, thinking it was the heat. It wasn’t. He lost his interests, and he was suddenly weak. His friends thought he was lazy. He no longer climbed trees, and he no longer was studious. He was no longer himself.

He got admitted to the children’s ward in the hospital. He used to cry every night in pain- cancer was a tough disease to beat. He hadn’t heard of cancer. He had just progressed from addition to subtraction in school. He used to cry silently every day in anguish. People used to come over to see their children with presents and toys. No one came for him- just one of his teachers came- the day he got admitted- to dump his belongings there. He couldn’t fathom the intricacy of such a disease but could comprehend that fact- that an orphan had no one.

The nurse was newly assigned to the paediatric oncology department. Every day, as she comes in to give the children their medicine, everyone cried or resisted. He was lying there getting injected into the cannula. That bravery made her notice him- a young man in the guise of a six-year-old. She couldn’t help but notice that no one came to visit him. She saw his side table empty- just one book- a battered old Enid Blyton. Other kids had games, toys etc. brought in while he lay gloomy. Despite the pain, they used to laugh, play and move around the room. He just lay there- eyes transfixed straight ahead- the eyes spelt pain.

She found out he had no one. Connecting the dots then didn’t require a rocket scientist- he was sad because he had no one. She felt his medicine reception would be better if he were to be moved to some other place- away from children with doting parents and a plethora of presents. So he arrived in his new room.  

The old lady was staring out of the window as he arrived. She wasn’t expecting a roommate, nor did she want to- the double room was hers to stay- a wishful request from the doctor made her oblige.

His eyes met hers. It was a silent connection. Unspoken words meant more.

Every day, they ate together. Her central line fed in glucose, while he ate his meal. She was always up to see that he was fed.

He was up and about when she woke up. He would push the blanket on to her bed if it had fallen. He would keep her company, always by her side without uttering a word.

Days became months.

Every week a small package appeared on his side table. A toy, maybe a book, some chocolates, sometimes even a new set of pajamas- he was happy. Soon became keen to know his benefactor.

She was improving. He was improving. Her central line was out. They started having lunch together. She would weakly sip on her porridge while he would devour his rotis.

As she started getting better, dinner too was together. Her husband too would join them, while getting amused by his antics.

Not a word was uttered.

The white curtain was drawn at night while they slept.

His presents kept coming.

Slowly, he would perch up on her bed, cross-legged at her feet while they would look at each other in silence as they had their meals. As she started having solid food, home cooked meals started coming. He would eat with her- she would sometimes feed her.

He would slowly get down from his bed, hoist his plates and carry her plates too.

They started having all meals together.

She started walking slowly- he would try supporting her while she and her husband would pace around the room but the 6-year-old’s body was too small for her to hold.  

Not a word was uttered.

The white curtain was drawn at night while they slept.

His presents kept coming.

He was smiling. The nurse saw progress in him.

He was happy.

He saw a mother.

Doctor had come up to her one day trying to make utter her first word- ‘Ayush’ came as a gushed whisper and then as a firm call.

She was expecting him to come running to her. She got up from her bed, past the doctor and her husband and moved the white curtain – the bed was empty.

She stood in shock.

The present in her hand burned her fingers as the nurse wheeled in another patient.

A Tale Yonder

She lay there, unperturbed.

A gentle whisper near my ears.

She dodged my outstretched hands.

A mockery in her eyes.

As I lay on my head, for some shut eye.

Again she went, a whisper and a taunt.

Made me wide awake and agile.

She was fast and frisky.

I was so not to be.

She just wanted to see me try.

I just wanted to get this over

Then did I whip out my tool.

Brandishing like a sword I went after her, oh my dear

Crack went the whip

Crackled and mangled she lay.

In the electric net of doom, her remains astray

Thus concludes the tale yonder

Of how I killed a Fly that interrupted my slumber

Lights Out!


She was crying nonstop from the moment they entered the door. It was a mix of inconsolable sobbing and high pitched wailing.

There was an intermittent pause which made him think his six month old baby had stopped crying but she was taking a breathing gap.

He lifted her from her crib and coddled her.

She was fast asleep while they were at the church.

What was bothering her? She didn’t bother to take the bottle. So she wasn’t hungry. He did a thorough search of her body for insect bites. Nope, nothing.

This was the fourth time he was entering her nursery.

He bounced her up and down, to and fro.

It took him a while, but she was finally asleep.

He left her in the nursery and came out.

She slept peacefully at night. He too slept after tossing and turning much. He hadn’t seen her cry like this.

He also hadn’t seen that the motion sensing light in the room was on before he entered the room.

She was there with the baby. Unseen, unknown.

His wife laid to rest earlier that day was there to see her little one. Unable to be seen by him, unable to touch her baby.


My brother brought some motion sensing night lights. I spooked the bejesus out of him and voila!!


If you think the title depicts a time before Christ, you are grossly mistaken.

If you think this is an abuse, no, it is not.

BC or Before Corona is what the new period depictions are going to be- hopefully for us and hopefully not for the future historians evolved from the coelacanths after a couple of thousand years.

Life before Corona struck was a bliss- sure, we took it for granted. We wanted a beer, we would go out to a pub and get one. We wanted pizza, we would go out and get one- or have it delivered. There we would be standing at the door, handing cash to the delivery boy.

If it was a movie, we would be there at the theatre. Solo or with your friends, you wouldn’t miss that superhero movie you have been waiting for. Standing in line at the snack bar to get a tub of greasy buttery popcorn and a large cup of aerated drink. We would brush all the mortals in our way and walk to the seat, hoping not to drop the drink or corn on people. And we would sit on the chair, rubbing shoulders with a man/woman who we have never seen. People may cough behind us, but we would sit through it without any care in the world. By the time the movie starts, we would be sitting there with an empty tub and a glass of ice. The ice in the glass doubling up as a wash for your grease.

Once the movie is over, you head over to the nearby restaurant for dinner. Once you place your order, the waiter would arrive with your dinner rolls and soft butter for you to munch until your entrees make way to the table. You all would grab the food with bare hands, smear butter on the rolls and shove it into your mouths. Replace rolls with pappad and mint chutney if you are in some Indian restaurant. Your pappad goes for a dip then a double-dip, not a frown on the face of anyone at your table. After the meal, that one friend says, ‘I share dessert with someone.‘ And yes, they eat off of a single plate, high fiving with their spoons, their saliva becoming one with the ice cream. No one bats an eyelid.

And off they go into the darkness, each of them into their own lives, talking, meeting and touching other people (in the right ways only).

The office was always a cacophony (not only the one with Micheal, Jim and Dwight) Clients walking in and out, meetings happening without break, life moving at a brisk pace- without ever slowing down. Handshakes were an indispensable part of the office culture. You are walking to the water cooler, opening the dispensing tap with the hand that had earlier been inside your nose. Your colleague comes for a drink while on his phone with the natural hands free- balancing between ears and neck. He opens the tap with his hand- what do you know- he had just been to the washroom and had gotten an important call and forgot to wash his hands. The third colleague now comes up to get water. He has water now and has indirectly touched your nose and your colleagues’ privates.

And then corona happened.

We yearn for going out. The extent of going out is to the grocery store, the pharmacy (for your regular meds) and if required, to the office. You maintain social distance, wear a mask and gloves. And sanitise often.

The office is just at home- in front of your laptop. No physical proximity to any of your colleagues. You remember sitting in your cubicle, snot-filled noses and all, not being able to skip work. Today, being in a public place like that that is an offence that could range to even an attempt to murder.

Easting out is a thing of the past. Food delivery is a rarity. You pay in advance and ask the delivery boy to leave the food at the door- tip can be collected from under the doormat.

Movies mean Netflix or Amazon Prime- with snacks made at home.

You are scared of people. You sanitise your hands if you think you have touched somewhere unknown, you sanitise your hand if you touch somewhere. Your face is always under protection if you are outside. You detest people. You rarely touch cash- all payments are digital.

You are not ‘You’ anymore. You are the new ‘You’. The ‘You’ who flouted rules of boundaries and personal hygiene does not exist anymore. That ‘You’ is not allowed to exist, by you, by the fear of sustaining you, by the fear of being thrashed by the people.

Stay away from people as much as you can physically. Be close with people as much as you can, digi-emotionally

The period after BC?

AD perhaps- After Depression??

Who knows?

Maybe the C in the original BC??

Quips and Qualms

Explicit content inside.

If you plan on getting offended, please proceed to read. If you don’t, please proceed to read. It is up to you to proceed to read.

Songs while on the move, becomes news on the move. A sign of ageing, I should say. I moved from listening to music while driving to and fro work to listening to news during the fag end of my twenties. And since the 30s started, news became an indispensable part of life. Australian wildfires, Hong Kong protests, Trump’s trumpets and the list goes on.

And BBC World Service had become my go-to place for news. A 45-minute briefing in the morning and a 30 minute top-up in the evening was keeping me abreast with the global occurrences.

I remember the news in December about a new strain of pneumonia in China. Who would have thought that was the precursor to a global pandemic which infected over 4 million and affected over half the world’s people.

What I would have given to be Nostradamus to predict the scale of the whole thing?

Ever since the pandemic started, I have become an avid follower of the local news too.

The home state has been doing us proud these days by having done contract tracing and proper isolation to curb the spread.

India too did well in the midst by having a lockdown at the start itself. With the infections at 396, the nation went on to lockdown its 1.3 billion population. Even with stringent measures in place, keeping the spread in check was a herculean task with the above-stated population and its population density.

What has the world been doing?

Globally, governments are struggling to curtail the spread. Yet, we see people protesting their rights to move out. Testing is stepped up rampantly, but PPEs and masks are not available.

It is indeed disheartening to see people blow off the rules and walking in public not only exposing them to risk, but also the people who do not want to be in harm’s way. Wearing masks do not make you look ridiculous, your actions do.

While salary cuts and layoffs are becoming common, it is great to see some countries honour their front-liners by increasing their salaries. It is disheartening to see the numbers rise at home and globally, but the doctors and nurses go over and beyond their means to support people.

If you are asked to be in home-quarantine, stay bloody well at home. I laud the wife of the person who called in the police when her husband left quarantine to buy booze. Boo!!! #covidiot

I believe that to ensure that the virus is kept at bay, opposition party should keep aside differences with the ruling party and ensure a smooth operation happens. By using the best technologies available, by ensuring people are educated, by ensuring enough testing is done, by ensuring enough PPEs, masks and other safety kits are made available- we could get back in track.

The utopian dream- I could call it but nevertheless.

People are to ensure that you do not go out and mingle with people. Social distancing is the call. Think that people are covered in human defecation and you touching them is their shit on you, you touching places where they could have touched is their shit on you, you near them is their shit smell all over you. No one likes someone with shit on them or smells like shit.

Damn, I have become Suresh Gopi (An ode to Bharathchandran IPS)

To test this hypothesis, don’t wash/wipe the next time you go to the pot. You’ll know what I mean.

Next step, if you think you have touched someplace, do not touch your face or anywhere in your body. Do not touch your phone or wallet or specs. Use soap to wash your hands. After all, you cannot get rid of the shit smell if you just wipe it/wash it with water. If you have a sanitizer in your pocket, rub a little on your hands. Just be safe.

The next step- shit smells. You do not want the shit smell to seep into your nose. Cover it with a mask. It is instinct to cover your nose with your handkerchief when you walk past a garbage dump. The whole world is your garbage dump now. I have been seeing people with masks on and their noses out. It is a moo point- like a cow’s opinion- it just doesn’t matter- it’s moo. And if it is a news reporter who does it, well, you have failed the whole purpose of media. In Germany, a lady cut a whole on her mask to make it easy for her to breathe. You do not deserve to breathe at all. #covidiot

The step before penultimate step- stay at home unless you are required to move out. Dude, you do not want to be in shit, touch, smell or see shit (that is just a hyperbole). You clean your house, so I assume it is shit free. That is if you can afford to work from home. Netflix on the couch, work on your laptop, whip up something that you can and it is the bliss that you have hoped for while you were in your office. If you have to go to work, visualize giant human excretion walking around you- stay away as much as you can. If you are a frontline worker, we salute you. You may continue to see us the way fit (as mentioned above)

The penultimate step, once you return from outside, throw your clothes into the washing machine or put it in a bucket of soap water. Do not wear shoes used outside to walk inside homes. Asians, kudos to you for this. The West still hasn’t caught up yet.

Finally, be smart on what news to follow. People are inherently dumb. And when these people make way into media- TV, social media and share news and pointers which are misleading or tainted with political motives, you have been led astray. In the event of absorbing and disseminating information, think for a second. What would a person with common sense do? If I go and protest the lock down, will the virus get scared and leave? You get the virus, you die and the propagator of this is happy that his propaganda is on. If you choose to act on impulse basis the news you see, you are a #covidiot- a Phd from Whatsapp/Youtube University.

Well, these are just things to work on. Please stay safe.

Clubbing and pub crawl will still exist once the pandemic is over. The million dollar question is, will you? You can if you want to. Stay safe.

Peace out, hombres!