Standup routine : Attempt #1

I have never tried my hand at comedy. Most of you who are regular readers of my blog would know that most of my work is pretty dark. But i saw the entire season of “The Marvellous Mrs Maisel” and I thought to myself, how would I do as a standup comedian? Obviously i was not going to publicly embarrass myself so i figured i should write something down and see what happens. Well, here it is. Imagine hearing these words from a person on stage rather than reading words on a screen. It will work in my favour. Thanks. 

Good evening. For those of you who don’t know me, and that would be everyone except my parents, my brother and that cat we adopted one time, my name is Arjun. Although I’m pretty sure i was just “the guy who brings me food and scratches my belly occasionally” to the cat. I’m sure she didn’t give a shit. And that’s just how cats are. They are brilliant. They. Just. Don’t. Give. A. Shit. Yeah they create hell and make damn sure you feed them when they’re hungry. But cats are amazing out in the wild. Ever see a cat sneak up and trap a mouse? It’s amazing. Thats some National Geographic shit right there. But when you adopt a cat, it’s basically like they quit their day job and decide to become a baby. I mean think about it, they’re noisy, they sleep all the time, they break your stuff, you can’t leave them home alone because you’re always scared about what kinda nightmare you’ll return to. But cats are easy. Feed a cat and then they go about doing their own thing. They give you your space to be free and express yourself. A cat has never stopped a man from spending three hours on a playstation. It is everything you want in a relationship, women take note.

But women prefer dogs. Okay, i’ll say most women prefer having a dog. Dogs are great. They give them love and protection. Dogs are possessive, dogs get jealous and they look way better in pictures, men take note here. I’ve seen profiles on dating apps where it says “you should not go out with me if you’re not a dog person”. Our ideal first date will be “You, me and my dog out in the park.” What’s going on here? Are we supposed to date both of you? Like how is that going to work? Is the dog going to come along with us when we go on dates and wait in the car? Or does the dog get a seat at the table too? Does the dog like red or white wine? I mean where does it end?

I went on a date this one time and things ended well so i found myself at her apartment late at night. We came home and we’re making out on the couch. It was great, she was into it and I was into it because why wouldn’t i be? And just when i thought things would escalate, the dog showed up with his leash in his mouth. Instant switch. My face was let go like two week old potatoes. She literally ran to the dog, gave it a hug and i swear the dog looked at me and said “fuck you dude!!”. So we spent the next half an hour walking her dog while he relieved himself. Needless to say it didn’t work out with her. The number of “fuck you’s” i got from the dog was getting ridiculous.

Can’t compete with a dog. You can’t win. So men if you ever see a profile that says that “I will like you if you get along with my dog” then swipe left no matter how hot she is. Because she will say no to you, but she will never say no to her dog. And there are only so many “fuck you’s” you can take from a member of another species. 

You’ve been a great audience. See you next time. Goodnight. 

10 things I look for in a woman.

I was recently engaged in a conversation with a woman i met through an app and she listed out her 10 commandments for her ideal man. To be fair, the list wasn’t that strict and most of them felt fairly obvious. But apparently finding someone who checks all these boxes is “nearly impossible”. This got me thinking about my own list and 10 things i would look for when i meet a woman. Although i didnt have a list prepared, i had a few points come to me right away based on recent and past experiences : 

  1. One who realises that NOT every guy wants to sleep with her. Sure statistically speaking, most men have only one agenda right from the start but there are others who are looking for more. 
  2. One who is punctual and respects other people’s time. I read this so often on dating profiles “Punctuality is a subject i am not familiar with”. I like how it is automatically assumed that a guy has to be okay with this. Not me.
  3. Chivalry does not extend to men alone. Women have a responsibility too. Leaving a conversation mid-way, not replying, one word replies, acting aloof etc are all regarded as rude behaviour. If you feel the you have no particular interest in the person you are talking to then let him know in as many words. You’ll be saving everyone’s time. And saying that does not make you mean. i would prefer it. 
  4. One who is driven in life and is passionate about something. Anything. I see so many profiles where people write their favourite passtime as sleeping. Favourite hobby as eating. Those aren’t things to be passionate about. Everyone likes to sleep and eat good food. I need to see a passion about something in life. Be it your career or sports or something you’re good at, even if it is playstation games. 
  5. One who has a heart. A decent human being who treats everyone well, speaks politely and is genuinely bothered with the current state of our country and our planet. 
  6. One who has a life outside of her cellphone. Yes, sharing cat videos can be nice but that is not how a conversation goes. Then it is just two people looking at screens and i can do that by myself when I’m home. Im quite good at it. When i am out to meet someone, i need to know i have her full attention and she isn’t going to keep checking her phone mid-conversation. It really bothers me. 
  7. One who isn’t afraid to take a leap of faith. Sure by now we have all had bad experiences when it comes to love and relationships. While it is okay to be skeptical, it is ridiculous to be so afraid that you don’t give anyone a chance when the signs are glaringly obvious that you should. Being afraid is normal but not doing anything to overcome your fears is a sign of weakness. 
  8. One who doesn’t play games. I would prefer to be with someone who speaks her mind and does not manipulate situations and arguments to her own benefit. There are no winners and losers in a relationship because we are both on the same team. It is us against the world. Not me and my friends against you. Be clear about your intentions and surely something can be worked out if there is a rational dialogue. 
  9. One who isn’t easily offended or gets upset by the little things. I would like to think that i am a decent human being and if i do or say something offensive, chances are that i didn’t mean it or i didnt convey it in the right manner. Wait till i explain myself and give me the benefit of doubt. Also, getting upset at every thing is a major turn off. Again, anything can be solved by talking about it and getting upset is a major waste of everyone’s time. Be up for a healthy debate and listen to the points being made. Be ready to listen as well and acknowledge the possibility that you could be wrong about something. Just mouthing off big words without a proper structure based with facts and just being loud in general does not solve anything. Then it isn’t a debate anymore. 
  10. Loyalty and respect are the corner stones to a relationship. While respect is earned eventually, loyalty must be present at all times. And the grey areas where it is “technically not cheating” are to be avoided at all costs. Cheating, even emotional cheating is quite possibly the worst thing you can do to a person. And the truth eventually does come out. So if you are inclined to be with someone else, do the right thing and end things first before you do anything. 

Well, there you have it. 10 things i look for when i meet a woman. Do you agree with this list? Have a few of your own? Write them down in the comments section. 

Totem : Chapter 19

We stepped outside and it was pouring. One of those unconventional off-season rains. They usually don’t last that long in Delhi but this one had no intentions to disappoint. She didn’t mind stepping out in the rain because as soon as she did, a man appeared out of thin air and covered her with a giant umbrella, getting soaked himself. He then gestured to someone down the road. There was no one to be seen. Bright lights emanating from a car came on and it sped towards us. The man then opened the door for her and stood there till she was seated comfortably. I was reasonably wet and wondered if i should step inside the car and ruin the expensive interiors. While i was contemplating this decision, the umbrella man had reached my side and was holding the door open. I guess i had to get inside now. My fate was sealed and like many other things in my life, i no longer had any control over it. 

Life is such in many ways. I read somewhere that we control less than 10% of our own lives. everything else is controlled by forces and circumstances beyond our control. We might like to think we have better control over how our life goes on but sadly we don’t. it is the illusion of choice. Yes we make decisions but our choices are already laid out. It is between this and that. We are already dealt a hand. It depends on us that we either “hit” or “hold”. And that’s how it is really. Like a game of blackjack. your fate is sealed. The cards are shuffled and lined up. What happens then is a total mystery to everyone including the one holding these cards. Soon everyone will find out as time goes by but all we have is an illusion of control. We think we are doing what we want to do and making choices freely but we aren’t if you look closely. 

We don’t control where we are born. Which family we are born into and which country we belong to. The difference between me and a person in war-torn Syria is mere coincidence. He was dealt that hand and i had this. That could’ve easily been me and vice versa. We don’t even control our name. Yes, you can have it changed officially later in life but i’m talking about the name you are born with. You don’t choose your siblings, you don’t choose your relatives, you don’t choose your house, you don’t choose your school. As the years go by, you start to gain some control over your life. Like for instance you choose your friends. You choose who you love. But whether that love blossoms into something more depends entirely on the other person feeling the same way. You can’t choose who you get to be with. You must both choose each other and only then can something happen. After a while you choose your college, your job, your new house, your pet. In some countries some people can’t even pick their spouses. The parents do the needful and the children quietly oblige. 

We can’t wear swimming trunks on a cold day and you can’t wear an overcoat on a warm day. That choice is already made for you. So now you get to pick among warm clothes for a cold day and a selection of cotton clothes on a warm day. While you do have a little choice in the matter, the bigger picture is pretty much decided for you. For instance it is my choice to write these words. I am in full control. I can just as easily be doing anything else in the world right now but this is what i am choosing to do at this instance. But a few hours from now, my body will need sleep and that choice has been made for me. I have no say in the matter. It must be done or i suffer the consequences. Like i can buy the fastest car on the planet. But the speed at which i am allowed to drive does not depend on me. It depends on the traffic, it depends on the roads, it depends on the time of the day. What we have is an illusion of choice. We are all going towards where we have to be and nowhere else barring a few minor changes here and there. 

I could have run away at that moment and I’d be lying if i said it didn’t cross my mind. I had that choice. I was aware of that. I knew I had to just turn around and walk away from all of this. But the second the car door opened and I saw the vacant seat, I knew what would happen next. My body and mind had made that choice for me. I was no longer in control. I brushed off a little bit of water from my clothes under the protection of the giant umbrella that was hovering over me now. I stepped inside and the door was closed behind me. I looked at her and the bright glow from her cellphone screen lit her face as if basking in the moonlight. Her cherry red lips were like an island of refuge in a sea of tranquility. Her eyelashes marked the territory of an oasis that existed in her eyes, designed to quench your thirst and drown you while you drink its waters. I followed every contour of her face, tracing it from its genesis, following a never-ending loop. 

She turned and looked me straight in the eyes. I stumbled internally and tried to change my expression to look more stern. As if none of this bothered me. Without looking away, she pressed a button on the ceiling and a motorised partition raised up and isolated us from the driver and the umbrella man. She put her phone away. The moonlight was gone. The rain continued to be ruthless. 

“So..” She said gently brushing aside a lose strand of hair dangling uninvitedly, “Where were we?” 

My fate was sealed. 

Totem : Chapter 18

Now, I’d like to point out that this was a very unusual occurrence and I certainly was not used to such events in my life. I was the king of the mundane. The barely existing, zero experiences kind of a guy. I hated traveling even though it was something everyone was doing and encouraging everyone else to do as well. I was a skeptic. You can always “find yourself” anywhere. You can have epiphanies anywhere; even while you’re in bed waking up in the morning. I found it oddly superficial and unnecessary. And those who did travel, did it only for the pictures and instagram. Them and their fake smiles and their “#blessed”. I saw through it all. It was all an act. And don’t even get me started on the journey. I hate planes, the roads are never good to the places you want to visit and it always takes hours upon hours to get there. But despite all that reasoning, it was unusual to people that i didn’t travel as much. Even if i did, i wouldn’t go out of my way and call people to tell them what i did and smear pictures all over the internet craving their validation and respect.  People thought i was anti-social and crazy. Maybe i was. But what’s the harm in that? In a world where a person can be a ton of horrible things, being anti-social is probably the least harmful. How can anyone be harmful if he or she just remove themselves from the confines of the society? How is it wrong to not give in to society’s definition of “normal behaviour” and do your own thing? 

I like it when things go according to plan. I hate surprises, good or bad. My overly active Gemini mind plans every detail of a series of events days in advance weighing all possible permutations and combinations. I think about what I’ll do if this happens and what i’ll say if she says this in response. There are times i have to stop myself from going too deep into the rabbit hole. Hours go by and to the ordinary bystander i might be staring at the wall in front of me, but by then my mind has left my body and traversed the deep dark corners of the universe. I’ve always been like this. I was like this when i was a child as well. Probably why it takes me a while to understand things because i am easily distracted. Even when i do understand something, i bring about tons of questions involving the how’s, when’s, where’s and what’s from all possible dimensions. And once i have the answers to all these questions, only them am i satisfied by my understanding of a topic. While others choose to throw words around with their limited understanding, i cast a giant web of questions that need answering first before i can contribute to a conversation. Also why i am an excellent listener. And also why i get interested in people’s stories. Because there is a reason behind why a person is the way he is. And all the clues lie in these stories. If a person was to reveal all their stories to me, i could tell you how they are at the moment. Think of us being a river moving ahead in direction as we all do in life. Think of these stories and events as giant boulders that make us change direction every now and then. Some nudge us towards a waterfall where we hit rockbottom and some lead us to the plains where everything slows down and life is calm. If one was to go back and follow the path of a person’s river, you can pin point the existence of these boulders and see how much it affected their course in life. 

But we all hide our boulders and pretend we are bulletproof. Our past failures and heartbreaks become embarrassing secrets when they shouldn’t be. They mould us into who we are now. Its a journey and not one soul has made it here without cuts and bruises. We hide them from others and thats why no one can understand each other. No one knows why a person is the way they are and why they say the things they say. Agreed you don’t do that with random strangers but when you’re with someone, it goes a long way in understanding each other. You get a better idea about what to expect, where the boundaries are and what not to say at the wrong time. While we are all smiling in our instagram posts, people deep down have forgotten what real happiness feels like. They’ve lost faith in everything and everyone. They’ve gone deeper into their shells and misunderstandings blossom. 

I remember taking each step leading me to an uncomfortable uncertainty. Time had slowed down and all the music around me had drowned out. I felt the eyes on me as i walked across the bar towards the exit. She was leading the way. Her heels clicked and clacked at the wooden floor. Her hips swayed gently with each step. Her hair had a bounce and a purpose about them. She turned to see if i was still following. Our eyes met. I could feel her peeping inside my hollow body and coming face to face with my soul. Her eyes pierced right through me.

The curious gemini inside me had to know her story. I knew i would toss and turn for nights trying to come up with scenarios till it drove me to the limits of insanity. I knew i had to know and i had to hear it from her. I had to know. 

Totem : Chapter 17

She looked back at me with a neutral expression on her face. No smile, no sign of sadness, no sign of happiness, no sign of remorse, no regrets. Nothing, just nothing. I continued to fail at reading her and something told me she knew that. She knew i had the wheels turning in my head but they were heading nowhere. She knew i was trying to make sense of what had just happened. It isn’t every day that you hear something like this 

“Ready for more?” she asked casually. 

“You just told me that you killed your uncle with your own hands.”

“Yup, that i did.”

“But why tell me? You don’t even know me. What if I go to the cops with this?” i was sweating at this point. 

“And who’s going to believe you? What are you going to say anyway? Some girl came and told me she killed someone? It’s your word against mine. Unless you think that the couple in the corner has superhuman hearing. Even if they did, i don’t think the rest of the world exists for them right now.” 

She was right. I didn’t know what to do with all this information. A woman had told me that she killed someone. How do you react? What do you even say? What do you do after that? 

“..and besides, you asked for it. You wanted to know my story.”

“Yup, that i did.” i replied nodding my head, staring deep into the confines of my beer bottle. 

“So, you didn’t answer my question.”

“Sorry, what’s the question again?”

“I asked if you were ready for more.”

“I need another drink first. Something stronger. Much stronger. Definitely.”

I signalled to the bar attendant who signalled back saying that the bar had shut and it was closing time. 

“Drat!! Perfect timing.”

“It’s alright. i have booze at home. We can go over there and pick up where we left off.”

I wasn’t sure i heard that clearly. I had that expression. 

“You heard me.” she replied. Apparently she was able to read me. This was a first. Of many if i might add. 

“Are you sure?” i asked, still confused by the offer. 


“But you don’t even know me. What if i’m dangerous?” 

She smiled for the first time all night. She looked me straight in the eye, placed her hand on mine and said “I can take care of myself.”

She picked up the cheque. Didn’t even let me touch it. She shut me down with a glance in my direction. This woman had power. A different kind of a power. Not something that you can buy. The kind of power that grows from within. The kind of power that makes you bulletproof in the world. That no one can touch you or mess with you. And i had no intentions of doing so. 

I was lost in thought when she tapped me on my shoulder and i snapped back to reality with a shudder. She was standing right next to me. 

“Shall we?” she asked gently leaning her head towards the exit. 

I just nodded. Words had escaped me by now. I got up and walked towards the exit. 

Baby steps. I had promised myself. Tonight was just about taking baby steps. 

Totem : Chapter 16

I saw blood oozing out of his mid section, his face had changed colour. I turned my eyes down to find myself holding the knife that had penetrated his stomach. He collapsed to his knees with his mouth open in horror and pain. He was just about to let out a scream to alert his sons when I jumped over him and shut his mouth with my hands. But it wasn’t enough. He was still making a lot of noise. His boots were bashing against the deck, his muffled screams were loud. I continued stabbing him repeatedly but he just would not stop. I moved up and pierced his heart. The knife slid slowly between his ribs and went gently into his chest cavity with the greatest ease. That seemed to slow him down but I wasn’t done yet. I pulled it out and stabbed him in the chest again. And again. And again till I could no longer feel my arm. 

His blood flowed everywhere and I didn’t realise there would be so much of it. It was all over my hands and my clothes. I stood next to him holding that bloody knife peering over his hapless body. How it now lay limp just like my father’s. How any sign of life had left him. How he now lay dead and decaying in front of my eyes. It was relaxing. I enjoyed watching him draw his last breath and I sat there till the last drop of blood poured out of him. I cannot remember how long I sat there next to him watching him die but it was surely longer than I should’ve stayed. I heard the boys calling out to uncle telling him that they had reached their fishing spot. Followed by footsteps heading towards the staircase leading to the lower decks. One of the sons had decided to take a look while the other stayed up and steered. 

My feet had decided to follow my lead again. I ran and hid behind the nets again as the son came and saw his father lying in a pool of blood. He screamed and shouted and ran towards his side. I decided that was my time to slip away. I ran towards the stairs but he saw me. He shouted and alerted his brother upstairs that I had escaped and killed their father. I reached the upper deck and made a run for the side. Land was a mere speck from where I was standing. The other brother was right behind me when I made the leap to jump over the side. I had no other option. It didn’t matter how far land was, I just had to make a dash for it and see what happened. I remember I was in the air and just about to hit the water when I felt someone grab my ankle. I swung around, hit my head on the hull and fell into the water.

I wondered…

She beamed the brightest smile i had ever seen, standing in the middle of that platform, next to the train right beside her. She wore a white dress with sunflowers on it. It went perfectly with the kind of day it was. While everyone lugged around their luggage morosely, she stood there beaming. That smile, something about it. It gave me hope. It made me believe again. I stood there looking at her from a distance and i don’t know how long i just stood there but i knew i could look at her forever. i wondered what adventures lay ahead for her. I wondered where she was going and what she must be doing. I wondered what her life must be like. I wondered what it must be like to have her in your life. I wondered what must it be like to wake up each day to that beautiful face and that beaming smile. She had her arm outstretched for a well deserved picture.

But, as soon as the picture was done, a sadness clouded her face. The smile vanished and hid like the setting sun. Her eyes lost their sparkle, her face turned serious and that smile vanished. Oh, that smile. I could’ve written pages upon pages comparing it to all the beauty in the world but now it was gone. She became just like anyone else, miserable, just lugging around her baggage just like everyone else, waiting to get on that train and get away from all the misery pouring down on her. The show she had put on for the world was now over. It now existed on some website or some app for everyone to see how happy and happening she was but shrouded her reality from everyone. I wondered why people do that, i wondered what misery ails her, i wondered why people put on a show for others, i wondered…

She got on the train and sat down on the seat opposite mine. Her eyes never left the comfort of her cellphone. it had a world where she was happy. A world where she was liked and people talked to her. A place where people wanted to be her, wanted to do the things she was doing, eating the things she was eating and drinking at the bars she was visiting. Her eyes never once looked up to see me admiring her, wanting her, wanting to talk to her, wanting to know about her, wanting to listen and ease some of her sorrow. I felt virtually invisible as she only now existed virtually. The real her stopped existing a while ago.

She now planned the details of her next show for the world in her mind. What might that be, i wondered….