Posts Tagged ‘marine drive’

The Healthier Side

July 14, 2010

A YUMMY DATE

Short Fiction – A Breezy Romance

By

VIKRAM KARVE
She stands in front of the full-length mirror and looks at herself.

She cringes a bit, for she does not like what she sees.

The jeans make her look fat.

And the tight blue top – it’s all wrong!

So she wears a loose dress – Churidar, Kurta and Dupatta – to hide her bulges.

She looks at her new high-heels – should she? They’ll make her look tall, less fat.

No.

Not today.

Now it’s got to be walking shoes.

A brisk invigorating walk from Chowpatty to Churchgate rejuvenating her body breathing the fresh evening sea breeze on Marine Drive is what she needs to cheer her up.

She stands on the weighing machine at Churchgate station and, with a tremor of trepidation, puts in the coin.

Lights flash.

Out comes the ticket.

She looks at it.
Same as yesterday.
And the day before.
And the day before.
No change.
She is doomed.
There is never any change in her weight or in her fortune!
Her face falls.

She’s trying so much… exercising, dieting.
But it’s of no use… her weight, her size, remains the same…

She looks longingly at the Softy Ice Cream counter.

There is a smart young handsome man with two Ice Cream cones, one in each hand.

He looks at her for that moment longer than necessary.

She averts her eyes, but he walks up to her and says, “Hi! How are you?”

She looks at him confused.

His face seems vaguely familiar.

“You are Sheena’s roommate, aren’t you?” he asks.

She remembers him.

He is Sheena’s boyfriend from HR.

“Here,” he says, coming close, proffering an Ice Cream cone.

She steps back awkwardly, perplexed and taken aback by the man’s audacity.

“Take the ice cream fast. It’ll melt,” he says.

She hesitates, confused.

“Come on. Don’t be shy. I know you love Ice Cream. Sheena told me.”

She takes the Ice Cream cone from his hands.

“I’m Mohan. I work in HR.”

She doesn’t say anything.

“Let’s walk,” he says, “and hey, eat your ice cream fast before it melts”.

They start walking.

As they walk slowly out of Churchgate station towards Marine Drive, they slowly lick the creamy yummy softy ice cream off their cones.

“You walked all the way?” he asks.

“Yes,” she speaks for the first time.

“All alone?”

“Yes.”

“You come here every evening?”

“Yes. I jog every morning too.”

“All alone?”

“No. On other days we come together.”

“We?”

“Sheena and me.”

“And today?”

“Sheena’s gone out.”

“For the office party at the disc?”

“Maybe.”

“And you? Why didn’t you go for the party? Didn’t want to go all alone is it? No date?”

She’s furious.

But she controls herself.

She says nothing.

No point getting on the wrong side of HR.

He notices and says, “Hey, don’t get angry. I didn’t go the party too.”

She hastens her steps and says, “Okay. Bye. Time for me to go! And thanks for the Ice Cream.”

“No. No. Wait. Let’s have a Pizza over there,” he says pointing to the Pizzeria on Marine Drive by the sea.

“No. Please. I’ve got to go.”

“Come on. Don’t count your calories too much. And don’t weigh yourself every day.”

“What?” she goes red with embarrassment!

This is too much! So this guy has been stalking her – watching her every day.

Outwardly she fumes. But inside, she secretly feels a flush of excitement.

“Yes. Don’t get obsessed about your weight. Like Sheena.”

“Sheena?”

“She keeps nagging me about my weight?”

“But you’re not fat!” she says.

“Then what would you say I am?” he asks.
“Let’s say you’re on the healthier side?”

“Healthier side? That’s great!” he says amused. “Then you too are on the healthier side, aren’t you?”

“Oh yes. We both are on the healthier side.” She laughs.

He laughs.

They both laugh together.

Healthy laughter!

They sit in the sea breeze and relish, enjoy their pizzas.

He is easy to talk to, she has much to say, and the words come tumbling out.

And so they enjoy a ‘healthy’ date.

Relishing delicious Pizzas, and other lip smacking goodies, to their hearts’ content, capping the satiating repast with the heavenly ice creams at Rustom’s nearby.

“Where were you?”  Sheena asks when she returns to their room in the working women’s hostel late at night.

“I had a date.”

“You? Fatso? A date?”  Sheena says disbelievingly

“Yes. A yummy date at Churchgate.”

“A date at Churchgate? Wow! Things are looking up for you yaar!”

“Yes. Things are really looking up for me. And you Sheena? How was your date?”

“The whole evening was ruined. That creep Mohan. He stood me up. He didn’t turn up at the disc and kept his mobile off.”

“Mohan?”

“You’ve met him.”

“Mohan? You’ve not introduced me to any Mohan.”

“Of course I have. He’s come here to pick me up so many times. He comes over to meet me at our office too. He works in HR.”

“Oh the guy from HR. The chap on the healthier side! That’s your darling Mohan, is it?”

“Darling? My foot!” Sheena says angrily, “Bloody ditcher, that’s what that Mohan is – how dare he stand me up – to hell with him!” Sheena mutters and goes off to sleep.

But our heroine cannot sleep.

She eagerly waits for sunrise.

For at six in the morning her newfound beau Mohan has promised to meet her on Marine Drive opposite the Aquarium – for a “healthy’”jog on Marine Drive.

And they will be meeting in the evening too – at Churchgate – for ice cream, pizza and a yummy lovey-dovey date.

She feels happy, full of anticipation and zest.

Happiness is when you have something to look forward to.
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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A Lazy Hot Afternoon in Mumbai

July 27, 2009

Métier

[Short Fiction – A Romance]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

What is the best way to kill a lazy hot afternoon in South Mumbai?

You can go window-shopping on Colaba Causeway; enjoy a movie at Eros or Regal; loaf aimlessly around Churchgate, Fountain, Gateway of India or on the Marine Drive; leisurely sip chilled beer at Gaylord, Leopold, Sundance or Mondegar; browse at the Oxford Book Store or in the Mumbai University Library under the Rajabai clock-tower; watch cricket sitting under the shade of a tree at the Oval; visit the Museum; or, if you are an art lover, admire the works of budding artists on display in the numerous art galleries in the Kalaghoda art district.

That’s what I decide to do.

At 11 o’clock in the morning I stand at the entrance of the JehangirArt Gallery at Kalaghoda in Mumbai. I walk into the exhibition hall to my right. The art gallery has just opened and I am the first visitor.

Standing all alone in placid relaxing hall, in peaceful silence, surrounded by paintings adorning the pristine white walls, I experience a feeling of soothing tranquillity – a serene relaxing calm – and for the first time after many hectic, harried and stressed days, I experience an inner peace and comforting silence within me and, at that moment, I know what it feels like to be in harmony with oneself.

I leisurely look around at the paintings. I see a familiar face in a portrait. An uncanny resemblance to someone I know.

The face on the canvas stares back at me. Comprehension strikes like a thunderbolt. It’s me! Yes – it’s me! No doubt about it! Someone has painted my portrait, my own face.

I look at myself. I like what I see. It is a striking painting, crafted to the point of the most eloquent perfection.

I am amazed at the painter’s precise attention to detail – my flowing luxuriant black hair, delicate nose, large expressive eyes, even my beauty spot, the tiny mole on my left cheek; the painter has got everything right.

Never before have I looked so beautiful; even in a photograph. My face looks so eye-catching that I can’t help admiring myself – like Narcissus.

I look at the title of the painting on a brass tally below – My Lovely Muse. Muse?

I’ve never modelled for anyone in my life. Who can it be?

Suddenly I notice a wizened old man staring at me. He looks at the painting and then at me, and gives me a knowing smile.

“Excuse me, Sir,” I ask him, “do you know the artist who painted this?”

“I’m the painter,” a gruff voice says behind me. I turn around and look at the man. With his flowing beard, unkempt hair and dishevelled appearance he looks like a scruffy scarecrow. At first sight, totally unrecognizable.

But the yearning look of frank admiration in his eyes gives him away. No one else has ever looked at me in that way and I know he is still desperately in love with me.

“Do I see the naughty boy I once knew hiding behind that horrible shaggy beard?” I say to him.

“Do I see the bubbly and vivacious girl I once knew hiding inside the beautiful woman standing in front of me?” he responds.

“You look terrible,” I say.

“You look lovely – like a flower in full bloom,” he says.

I feel good. Aditya may be in love with me, but there is no pretence about him. I know the compliment is genuine.

“Come, Anu,” he says taking my arm, “let me show you my work.” And as we walk around he explains the themes, nuances and finer points of each painting.

Here I feel a sense of timelessness – a state of supreme bliss. I wish this were my world; sublime, harmonious, creative. I wish I’d stayed on; not burnt my bridges. Or have I?

“Let’s eat, I’m hungry,” Aditya interrupts my train of thoughts.

“Khyber?” I ask.

“No. I can’t afford it,” he says.

“I can,” I tease.

“The treat’s on me,” he asserts, pulls me gently, and says, “Let’s go next door to Samovar and have the stuffed parathas you loved once upon a time.”

“I still do,” I say, and soon we sit in Café Samovar enjoying a lazy unhurried lunch relishing delicious stuffed parathas.

“What time do you have to go?”

“I’ll collect the visa from Churchgate at four and then catch the flight at night.”

“Churchgate? I thought the visa office was at Breach Candy!”

“That’s the American visa. It’s already done. The British visa office is at Churchgate.”

“Wow! You are going to England too?”

“Of course. US, UK, Europe, Singapore. Globetrotting. The next few months are going to be really hectic. It’s a huge software development project.”

“Lucky you! It must be so exciting. You must love it!”

“I hate it!”

“What?”

“It’s unimaginable agony. Sitting in front of a computer for hours and hours doing something I don’t like.”

“You don’t like it? Then why do you do it?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “Aditya, do you know what the tragedy of my life is?”

“What?”

“My biggest misfortune is that I am good at things I don’t like.”

“Come on, be serious! Don’t tell me all that.”

“I hated Maths, but was so good at it that I landed up in IIT doing Engineering, and that too Computers.”

“But you’re damn good. A genius at computers. That’s why they are sending abroad aren’t they? The youngest and brightest project manager! You told me that.”

“Being good at work is different from liking it. You know, the thing I despise the most – sitting like a Zombie in front of the monitor for hours, discussing tedious technical mumbo jumbo with nerds I find insufferable. It’s painful, but then I am the best software expert in the company, the IT whiz-kid!”

“Yes. I know. It’s true. It is indeed a great tragedy to be so good at something you hate doing. That’s why I quit practice and am doing my first love – painting. I don’t know how good I am but I certainly love doing it.”

“But you are so good. You must be minting money, isn’t it?”

“Not at all. I told you I couldn’t afford Khyber. Just about make ends meet.”

“I thought artists make a lot of money. The art market is booming.”

“Only the established ones. Not struggling types like me!.”

“Come on, Aditya. Don’t joke. Tell me, how can you afford to have your exhibition here in Jehangir?”

“There’s a patron. An old lady. She encourages budding artists like me. She’s given me a place for my studio.”

“Just like that?”

“Yes. There are still a few such people left in this world. I present her a painting once in a while,” he pauses and says, “But today I’m going to be lucky. Looks like My Lovely Muse is going to fetch me a good price. Thanks to you!”

“Thanks to me?”

“You were the model for this painting. My inspiration. My Muse!”

“I never modeled for you!”

“You don’t have to. You image is so exquisitely etched in my mind’s eye that I can even paint you in the nude.”

“Stop it!” I say angrily, but inside me I blush and feel a kind of stirring sensation.

“Tell me about yourself, Anu,” Aditya says, changing the subject.

“I told you. About my painfullyboring work. And you won’t understand much about software. Spare me the agony. I just don’t want to talk about it.”

“You still paint?”

“No. I stopped long ago. At IIT.”

“Why?”

“No time. Too much study, I guess. And the techie crowd.”

“You should start again. You’re good. You’ve got a natural talent.”

“It’s too late. That part of me is dead. Now, it’s work and meeting deadlines. An intellectual sweatshop.”

“Come on Anu, cheer up. Tell me about your love life?”

“The company is taking care of that too! They are trying to get me hooked to some high flier Project Manager in my team.”

“Don’t tell me? What’s his name?”

“Anand.”

“Wow! Anu and Anand! Made for each other!”

“You know they set us up as per their convenience, facilitate working together all the time, encourage office romance, and even give us a dating allowance.”

“Dating allowance? Office romance! It’s crazy! Just imagine – Paying people money to fall in love!”

“Helps reduce attrition, they say; makes people stay on in the company. Nerds understand each other better; can cope better together, at work and at home. That’s what they say. Smart fellows, those guys in HR – they try and team us up as it suits them. They are dangling carrots too – like this trip abroad. They’ve even promised us a posting together to Singapore on a two year contract, if things work out.”

“It’s great!”

“Great? Are you crazy? Just imagine living full-time with a boring number crunching nerd all my life, doing nothing but being buried in software, day in and day out. I shiver at the very thought.”

“Tell me, who would you like to marry?”

“I don’t know.”

“How about marrying me?”

“Come on, be serious.”

“I’m serious. We could paint together, do all the creative stuff you always wanted to do. Live a good life.”

“Let’s go,” I say changing the topic.

“Anu. Remember. If you love flowers, become a gardener. Don’t curb your creativity. A lifetime of having to curb the expression of original thought often culminates in one losing one’s ability to express.”

“I’ve got to go, Aditya. It’s almost four. The visa should be ready by now.”

“Wait. Let me give you a parting gift to remember me by.”

Aditya calls the curator and tells him to gift wrap and pack the painting titled ‘My Lovely Muse’.

“Sir, we’ll get a good price for it. I’ve already got an offer,” the curator says.

“It’s not for sale,” Aditya says, “It’s a gift from an Artist to his Muse.”

I am overcome by emotion at his loving gesture. I look at Aditya.

It is clearly evident that Aditya is really deeply in love with me. And me?

Am I in love with him? Tears well up in my eyes. My throat chokes. My heart aches.

I find myself imprisoned in the chasm between the two different worlds – Aditya’s and mine.

But soon the rational side of me takes charge, and as we part, Aditya says, “Bye, Anu. Remember. If you can do something well, enjoy doing it and feel proud of doing it, then that’s your perfect métier. There’s no point living a lie. You’ve got to find yourself.”

I hold out my hand to him.

He presses my hand fondly and says, “Start painting. You must always do what you love to do. That’s the highest value use of time – time spent on doing what you want to do.”

“And what is the lowest value of time?” I ask.

“Doing what you don’t like just because others want you to do it.”

“Or maybe for money!”

“Money?” he asks, and then he looks lovingly into my eyes and says, “Anu, don’t destroy your talent by not using it.”

I get into a taxi and drive away form his world, my dream-world; into the material world of harsh reality.

In the evening, I sit by the sea, at the southern tip of Marine Drive and watch the glorious spectacle of sunset. As I watch the orange sun being gobbled up the calm blue sea, and crimson petals form in the sky, my mobile phone rings.

It is Anand, my Project Manager, with whom my romance is being contrived, from the airport. “Hey, Anuradha. The flight is at 10, check in begins at 8; make sure you are there on time. Terminal 2A.”

“I’m not coming,” I say.

“What do you mean you’re not coming?” Anand shouts from the other end.

“I mean I’m not coming,” I say calmly.

“Why? What’s wrong? Someone made you a better offer?”

“It’s nothing like that. I’ve discovered my métier. I’m going back to the world where I really belong,” I say.

“Where are you? How can you ditch us like this at the last moment?” he pleads.

I know if this is the defining moment of my life. It’s now or never. I have to burn my bridges now. “I have made my decision, Anand. I am not coming back. I have to discover my true self, do what I want, be happy from the inside. I’m sorry, Anand. I’m sure you’ll find someone else, your soul-mate, at work and for yourself. Best of luck!”

I switch off my cell-phone. I look at it. The last of the manacles! Deliberately, I throw the mobile phone into the Arabian Sea.

I begin walking towards the place where I know I’ll find Aditya.

And then I will return to the world where I really belong to realize my true metier and be my own Muse!

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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