Friday, March 29, 2013

Beauty Sleep

“When does your train leave?”
“It leaves at ten, so we have about an hour’s worth of time left.”
“Ohhh let me stop at a chemist first. The shops will close by the time I return.”
“You’re not well?”
“No, I am fine. I just need to pick up sanitaries.”
“Why do you need to pick up sanitaries?”

He realized it was a stupid question to ask of her. She gave him a glance as she pulled over close the chemist shop. She silently turned the ignition off and got down to purchase the sanitary pads. He turned on a game on his cell phone to pass time till she would come back. She returned in a few minutes and started the engine. A few quiet minutes passed before he started staring at her.

“I have an awkward question.”
“Your questions are always awkward.”
“It is possibly stupid too”
“They happen to be that as well. But I am used to them now, ask.”
 “If diapers and sanitary pads work on the same principle, why doesn’t a company make them both? I mean wouldn’t it make sense to use the same technology on two different products.”
“Companies already do that.”
“Oh, they do? It makes sense to do so.”
“Remind me again, why I am still a friend with you?”
“Because of my intelligence and charm!” he said as he made a rolling motion with his hand and grinned wide.
“And yet you ask questions like this.”

She continued to smile at him. 

“So why are you leaving by the train, when you can take the early morning flight?”
Arrey, I will have to wake up early for the early flight. Sleep will get screwed.”
“Yeah, I know how much you need your beauty sleep.” 
Haaww... I need to be my best for the presentation tomorrow. I thought I can catch up on my sleep in the train. Both will reach at the same time anyway.”
“No baba, beauty sleep.”
“Yeah, yeah, Beauty sleep. What do we know; some hot girl might end up hitting on me in the train.”
“Oh please do check if the girl is short sighted before you get such an impression from her.”

Both of them ended up guffawing. They had reached the railway station, and she parked the car. He took his bag out and walked towards the stairs while she went towards the ticket counter to purchase an entry ticket. She came back with one soon as there was no queue, and they both started climbing the stairs together. Since he was carrying his bag, she got ahead by a few steps. He noticed the way in which she climbed the stairs. How she took long strides that would make her take two steps instead of one. How her pants would pull against her and accentuate her rear, and how while climbing down there would be a little jiggle in them if she skipped a step.

She started looking at the overhead sign boards which would inform them where which compartment would be once the train would stop. Since they were still early by almost twenty minutes they were not showing any information. He set his bag down on one of the many seats on the platform while she asked a vendor where the AC coaches would stop. He saw that he had forgotten to bring water with him for the journey and signalled her to get a bottle for him from the same vendor.

“Your coach will be just a little ahead, so we can sit here till the train comes.”
“Oh good, I don’t have to lug this bag around then.”
“What are you carrying in it?”
“My laptop, a pair of clothes for tomorrow and a tee and capris for the return trip tomorrow.”
“You know if this presentation doesn’t work out, you can always try to find work as a coolie. You have good experience.”
“It’s not that heavy. Besides I can’t sleep in pants on the way back. So I packed a set of capris as well. I will come back to the company guest house and change before returning.”
“And why are you not taking a flight back?”
“Umm. I thought I could shop around a little and take the late night train back. Catch up on my beauty sleep.”
“You and your sleep.”

There was a pregnant pause. He didn’t know what she was thinking. He wanted to talk to her about it, but was unsure how to bring it about. He stared at her feet for a while which she was tapping away. She was wearing brown colored chappasl which had a pattern of red curves drawn into them. They were quiet for a while before they heard the announcement of his train. Soon enough they could make out the beam of the headlight of the train, followed by the blaring horn seconds later. Once the train came to stop, she stood by the waiting chairs while he went and kept his bag on his berth. He came out to say a bye.

“Reshma.” He called her name in a slow prolonged voice.
“Yes Sri?”
“Do you want me to get you anything from there?”
“I thought you’d never ask. I hear you can get good street-wear there. Get me some bracelets or beads.” She replied with a grin.

The train gave another blaring horn which meant that it would now leave. He turned and climbed on to it. She waived a bye.
“Message me one you reach home.”

This is how both of them parted. He got back to his berth, and lay down thinking about the night. Of all the things he had told, the ones he wanted to tell, and more importantly the ones he didn’t. He was lost in his thoughts of her, wondering when and how should he tell her about it. Few minutes passed before he received her message that she had reached home. Seconds later he received another wishing him a good night’s sleep. His beauty sleep was far from his mind as he lay awake on the berth now, lost in his thoughts.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pillow

He was lying sprawled on his bed when he felt the vibration. It was a tiny vibration and he heard the closing ding of the ringtone that would usually accompany it. This particular tone meant that he had received a message on WhatsApp. He cringed after he unlocked the phone as the white and blue light from it stung his eyes. After his eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the sudden influx on bright light, he saw that it was two in the morning. He was not surprised as some friend of his would be awake in the US and would have sent him a message. He slid down the notification bar and clicked the notification with his thumb. It was the picture of a pillow.

A pillow? Why I am being sent a picture of a pillow, he thought. He looked up to see that it was from his friend Sara.

“?” He pinged her back.

“My pillow” was the instant reply.

“Yes I can see that it is a pillow. I can still see” was his sassy reply.

Arrey baba, you asked me na , whom I love the most.”

“So you love your pillow the most?” He got up and sat with his back rested against the wall. This conversation was getting interesting.

“Of course”.


“Oh my pillow is so loyal. He didn’t cheat on me like my ex, he doesn’t lie to me, and is always there for me. Whenever I feel sad or weak, he’s there for me to cry upon. Whenever I feel happy, he’s there for me sleep with a content smile on.”

“Wow, lucky pillow.” Luckier than him, he thought.

“Now don’t you start feeling all jealous of my lovely boy friend :P”

“Totally jealous :D”

“So what are you doing now?”

“Wondering if you would rather send me a picture of yourself instead of your boy friend.”

“Now? But I am already in the bed. Staring at the fan go round and round.”

“Yeah, bet the fan is hitting on you as well.”

“LOL :D”

He wondered if that really did make her laugh. She had a wonderful laugh which was unrestrained. A nice loud laugh that came from the inside, he wondered if this was one of those ones.

 “I am feeling sleepy now. Do you want me to call you to wake up in the morning? “

“No.. It’s better to stay awake till 5 than to be woken up at 5. Good night, sleep well. You and your pillow.”


And the screen went blank as he locked the phone. He had close to three hours of time to kill before he would have to start getting ready to leave for work. He wondered how he should spend those three hours. He got up and went to the bath room to wash his face. He turned the geyser on, and let the bathtub fill with hot water. He went to the kitchen to grab cold can of cold cola from the fridge to drink as he spend time on his laptop surfing the net. He fired up his mail and facebook, and started to read a blog posted by his sister. It was a small piece of fiction about story challenge to be written on the theme of having received a picture message in the night.

He smiled. Here was a story he was more than happy to write.

Inspired from The Message

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recipe - Soupy Pasta (for Healthy and Tasty Recipe Contest)


·         Spaghetti  (use wheat or semolina pasta) – 100 gms
·         Onion – 1 medium size – finely chopped
·         Corn Kernels – 1 cup
·         Peas – 1 cup
·         Tomato Puree – 1 cup or 1 medium tomato finely chopped
·         Mushrooms – 3 medium sized, thinly sliced
·         Oil – 5 table spoons (I used Fortune Rice Bran health oil)
·         Garlic – 1 teaspoon paste or three cloves finely chopped
·         Red Chilli Flakes – 1 table spoon
·         Hing (Asafoetida) – 1 teas spoon
·         Red Chilli sauce – 2 table spoon
·         Salt – to taste
·         Water


Section 1 – Pasta:

Take 1 litre of water in a wide bottomed or deep vessel.
Add 1 table spoon of salt. Bring the water to boil.
 Once the water is boiling add the pasta in it. (Tip: Do not add oil to the water or the vessel. It will prevent the spices and sauces from sticking to the pasta and will reduce taste.)
Let the pasta boil for 10 minutes, stirring every three minutes.
Strain the pasta in a strainer. You can choose to drain away this starchy water or save it to be used as stock in other recipes.
Now transfer the pasta in a bowl. Fill it with cold water, and drain the pasta in a strainer. Repeat till pasta is cold. This way the pasta will not stick together.
Now transfer pasta in an empty bowl. The pasta should not be more than half the bowl’s volume.
We will use this empty space later.

Section 2 – The vegetables and spices:

Heat 3 table spoons of Fortune Rice Bran oil in a pan.
 Add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Sauté till onion turns golden brown.
Add the thinly sliced mushrooms. Add 2 table spoons of oil. Sauté till mushrooms change turn slightly brown.
Add the tomato puree, and stir.
 Add Chilli sauce, chilli flakes, hing and salt. Continue to stir.
Add the Corn kernels and peas.
Stir for 1 minute.

Section 3 – The Soup:

Add 600 ml of water.
Stir well and bring to boil.
This will form the soup. Let it boil for 5 minutes by when the corn and peas should soften.

Pour this soup on the pasta we had kept aside in the bowl. Voila, you’re doneJ. You can choose to garnish with sprigs of basil or coriander. But I like to have it as it is.

Now some of you may wonder that this looks like soupy noodles. Yes it looks like soupy noodles because I chose to use Wheat Spaghetti instead of noodles which are made from Maida (or refined white flour.) You can replace the spaghetti with penne, fusilli or any other pasta as well. You’re also using Fortune Rice Bran oil, so that adds to the healthy quotient as well.

Please do tell me how it turned out for you.

This post is a part of Healthy & Tasty Recipe Contest with Fortune Rice Bran Health Oil &