Book 1: Page 24

Kalsh: Don’t remind me of ‘The Performance’ I want to forget all of it.

On the edge of ocean
On the edge of ocean

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Forget it? You sound like a quitter. Is the captain of this school team a quitter? Every moment of your life is memorable. Every emotion is eternally engraved upon your soul. Don’t try to forget it son, embrace it. Use it to explore the music inside you. Such incidents will repeat endlessly in your life. Like a cycle of cause and effect, action-reaction. But you are one of those rare men who have the ability to break the cycle. Your classmates mock you because they have nothing better to do. But you, you have an ocean in front of you, waiting for you to set sail. This stage is your ship, you are meant to be there and not in this obnoxious sport. (She got up) there will be no play without you, Edward. (And she left). If you don’t show up tomorrow I will cancel the event.

She left me alone in the visitors lounge. My school uniform was perfectly tugged in and it did not leave any space for discomfort. But I knew that the lady who just walked out had actually walked in on me. There are holes in all of us, some big holes and some small ones. And we are miserable at finding these holes. Our ego is too bloated to let us see clearly. Therefore God makes sure that every man has a woman who takes up the responsibility of mending him. They, ‘Patch Us Up’. And that day, Lady Penguin Patch-up made an Edward out of a Kalsh and in the process she transformed a ‘Player’ into a ‘Performer’. She made me fall in love with myself all over again. I went to practice that day and the day after that and the day…


Her touch was velvety but I felt such a profound ingress that it not only touched my neck, my lips but also a part whose utility was hitherto unheard off. There was a tumbling in my tummy. It was quiet similar to the weightlessness experienced during take-off, although it might be more appropriate to compare it with the exhilaration felt on a roller-coaster’s drop. For the first time in my life I could feel something below my belly. Even after the most vivid memories of that night have come to fade, I still recall the nose that pierced my shoulder. And I have been searching thenceforth. Most people will not tell you that a person’s prejudice towards beauty, nature or comportment has its roots firmly grounded in a surreal experience. But I will describe the seed-sowing ceremony of my fascination with noses in great detail.

BOOK1: Page 19, Para 1

The date was 23rd December, 2003. It was time for my first full dress rehearsal. Only the most important people from both the schools had been invited. A hitherto unfamiliar set of emotions took hold off me and an excitement which only a girl could experience after trying on a new costume overwhelmed me.

I reached the auditorium at 12 noon, although the rehearsal was scheduled for late evening. The girls and I utilized the extra time by practicing our lines over and over again. However we skipped the dance routines post lunch. Lady Penguin advised us not to over exert in the dry runs lest our final performance be drained of vigour.

BOOK1: Page 15

This is the truth, all dreams shatter when you realize that you are replaceable. I wasn’t comfortable with someone speaking my dialogues. Moreover my voice was borrowed from an aged Sanskrit professor of the school. So for the second time in my life, I took an independent decision. I asked a girl to help me out with recitation. Helen or Akanksha, I used those names interchangeably. She was a veteran when it came to theatricals. Robot’s younger sister had introduced us. I needed her guidance. And she was more than willing to help.

Kalsh:             I cometh in your village, from far far… away,

                       Saw you bathing in the pond, my heart just sway,

                      And Since that fateful day, I have lost my way,

                      Please take me with you, for this is all I pray

Helen:            Bold, Strong, Young, never seen such a Man,

                      Oh stranger! What is it that you plan?

                       If your love takes my pain in its span,

                      Oh seeker, I promise all I can.

Akanksha has taught me to express the words with music. I understand the way love burns a fire in the heart. She portrays Helen in all her true colours- Vulnerable like a flower, intimidating like a painting, yet approachable to his love. This was exactly the crux of this scene. Edward sees Helen bathing in a pond and it is love at first sight for him. Then he follows Helen back to her village. He pursues her and confesses his feelings. The amazing fact is that Helen stays in a village predominated by her own family. So she has never had any pursuer. She is overwhelmed by the new developments in her life. She is attracted to this man Edward, just as Edward is to her. Both of them finally tie the knot and decide to settle down for a family (without any dating or prenuptial counselling). They begin their new life as Man and Wife.

Big Fat Chindian Wedding

“There you are Ram. We were looking for you everywhere”, Tina Aunty continued, “please help your uncle with these suitcases. Our room is on the second floor you know.”

“Of course, aunty”, I said with a smile gleaming at the unexpected attention I was getting at my best friend’s wedding.

“Thank you. The way you have shouldered all the preparations today I am sure God will gift you a splendid bride.” Tina aunty took time to bless me.

Mrs. Meena was a very close family friend. She had a daughter who graduated along with me and as usual was eavesdropping on us. She took the liberty to suggest, “Ram the girl who marries you will be very lucky. Why don’t you find someone in this wedding itself?” I replied with a grin, “Sure aunty. I will be on the lookout.”

Both of them were happy to know that i was looking forward to settle down in holy matrimony. Their happiness reflected on my face as well and I guess my mother was going to add something when suddenly my phone chimed.


It is Xia, the love of my life. We have known each other for past three years and she is the one person I truly care about apart from my family. And I believe it is imperative here that I mention her nationality. She is a Chinese citizen. Yes, the same country that has been at loggerheads with my motherland over some territorial issue or another. The last one year was particularly testing as the two countries used economic strategies to outgrow the other and we jostled over commitment issues. The final verdict came after two weeks of email embargo between the two of us imposed by a jealous boyfriend (me). We had consolidated the fact (over these two weeks of cold war) that without the shadow of a doubt it was impossible for us to live apart. In fact the next thing on our checklist was a holy union and probably a solemn agreement for the next seven incarnations sanctioned by a Pundit.

“Ram my boy,” a roaring voice from behind me caught the attention of the entire room, “now that you have completed your MBA, I see hordes of suitable girls queuing up for a slice of that 7 digit pay packet.” He winked with a slanted smile to reassure me that he was just pulling my leg.

I smiled back and my father reminded me to congratulate him on receiving the highly prestigious military honour last month for rescuing three Indian corporals who had been captured by the enemy. The remaining patrol unit had been beheaded by the enemy soldiers.

Uncle Rajesh interrupted us, “I tell you. We need more men like Brigadier Saab in our army. I am sure the Chinese would not even dare to take us on.” I nod in approval but at the same time slip a smiley to my Chinese bride. Just when I thought nobody would interrupt my romantic chat (which had slowly shifted to a corner of the main dining hall) my phone ran out of battery. The only vacant socket in the room was next to the bar table. I left it there under the supervision of my chatty teen sister.

It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes when the brigadier cornered me. He was accompanied by my parents. Even my best friend was standing somewhere behind them. Two policemen in plain clothes held me by the arms and dragged me out. I was yelling for help, still trying to understand what was happening. Nobody looked me in the eyes. They just watched as I was thrown out of the house. I heard a lot of commotion but could only make out one word. “Chinese spy”.

 Written by Vinay Dora       Photographs by Arpan ganguli             Edited by ‘bhilash

Spanish Lessons

Hola amigo”, She said over the phone.
“Muy bien”, I replied stuttering halfway trying to recognize the voice.

She definitely knew the fact that I am learning (well actually), was learning Spanish once. She enquired about something else and I was dumbstruck by her accent which was essentially native Mexican.Finally I gave up and asked her name. I even apologized for not saving her number.

Lady: So you never went to the class after that week.
Me: I actually got busy with my work.
Lady: I see, but you looked so determined back then.


I was about to think of another excuse and had even come up with an interesting list of priorities but instead I figured it was more important for me to know who she was and how she knew all about me.

Me: Aap kaun hai? (Who are you?)
Lady: Mein Aria hun, Cervantes se. (in almost perfect Hindi)
Me: Oh my God! Aria, how long has it been?
Lady: Four years.

In 2009, I attended an elementary Spanish language course at the Institute de Cervantes, New Delhi. Aria worked there. She was a substitute teacher, who taught us for a week. I guess she must have been in her early 50s back then and had recently moved to India. Within the first week itself we had developed a very good student-teacher bond. I shared with her my dream to backpack across Latin America with an arsenal of certified Spanish lexicon. She wanted to learn Hindi and at least one other Indian language. Her travel plans included the whole of India and some South Asian countries. We had promised to check on each other’s progress over the years.DSC_0007 copy

Aria: I have been good! I travelled to all those areas which were not marked as “Unsafe” by the embassy.
Me: Wonderful, you might have noticed I did not pursue Spanish after a few weeks. I guess once student life comes to halt, it is very difficult to resume learning. Maybe I am a bit too old to pursue my dreams.
Aria: Well my dad had his first driving lesson yesterday. He is 80.
Me: I see.
Aria: There is an elementary course in Spanish starting from the 18th and I do not get any incentives from Cervantes to sell their course.

I registered for the course and have been going there regularly.


– Written by Mahaveer Bisht
Pictures by Arpan Ganguli
Edited by ‘bhilash

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