Lipstick and cigarettes

The drunken haze of last night washed over me repeatedly. Like waves at high tide. Surrounding me. Drowning me.

Gasping for air I breathed myself back to life. The haze continued. Memory failed me. I recalled nothing except my sense of regret. The whiskey glasses sat right where we left them, half drunk. The cigarettes lounged around the ash tray, discarded in haste, caressed with the touch of your lips with light lipstick stains.

You were nowhere to be seen. My clothes strewn about but yours nowhere to be found. The front door was unlocked. A small note lay on the kitchen counter top. You were gone. All that was left of you were the lipstick stained cigarettes.


She watched the world crawl at her feet, perched high up at the tallest tower in the biggest city. Everything looked tiny and insignificant from afar but she knew how much they craved her. A glimpse was worth millions, a whisper worth a life. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. But in their hearts, they all knew; she was unattainable.

Dream #2

She got into a fight with another car on the road. She was driving and someone had crashed into her after jumping a red light. Me and another male friend were accompanying her. We protected her against the particularly unruly demeanour of the other guy. Eventually we left the scene with plenty of onlookers still gathered for amusement.

We reached a club. She was walking ahead with her friend. They rushed inside while I was still climbing the stairs. The music grew louder. The air grew thick with repugnant cigarette smoke, sweat and alcohol. It was way too loud now. Too loud to even hear my own thoughts. I reached the doorway. Flashing lights inside, people dancing, drunken laughter. I looked one way, then the other. I couldn’t see her anywhere. She waved at me from a distance and I caught a glimpse of her wrist tattoo. She beckoned me to come and join her. But she was already too far. And she had her friends around. I never really fit in with her crowd. And I always became invisible in the presence of other company. I signalled that I was fine right here. She turned and went back to her group. Still standing, I looked one way, then the other. Alone in a crowd, I thought to myself. As always.

Dream #1

I landed in the Ulsan district of South Korea after catching a flight from Seoul. It was mostly uneventful, the inflight entertainment was mediocre to say the least. The food wasn’t something I’d voluntarily eat. Had a constant battle for arm rest occupation with this determined old Korean lady. I kept nodding off and my head bobbed vehemently waking my up each time. What else is a person supposed to do on planes? I like how I can fall asleep multiple times on a plane but I struggle to catch a good sleep when I’m on the ground.

It was snowing outside and I hadn’t prepared for it as always. I’m a terrible packer and I always miss out in things I eventually need because I pack light. I wrapped myself in whatever warm clothes I had summoned. I hadn’t booked myself a hotel either. I figured I’ll stay with her once I find her. She had flown in from America and this was the closest she would be to home in a long long time. I didn’t think twice and hopped on a plane to come and see her. This was my only chance. She had left some instructions about where she would be staying.

I walked, shivering in the snow, watching a kitty make tiny paw prints. I was now starving and had no idea where I was. I fired up my maps app and it pointed me towards a building. When I reached nearby, the direction of the arrow pointed upwards. Too cold and tired to question this, I began climbing the wall and reached the tiled roof of the ground floor apartment. There was a smaller structure built on top and I went inside searching for some food after making sure there was no one inside. The air was saturated with the aroma of chicken soup. Oh I would kill for some soup, if I could find it. But I couldn’t. I looked everywhere.

A door opened and I hid behind the counter. A man walked in with his friend. Both had their hands full of provisions and they got to work. One man lit the burner but it wasn’t a regular burner. It gave off an orange flame. The burner then started rotating and the flame turned blue. He placed a wok on the burner and got to work. That’s when they saw me.

I explained what was going on and lucky for me they understood English. They offered me their food while I told them my story. “Have to be there when your friends come to visit, right?” She was more than a friend. I had a special corner reserved for her in my heart. I wanted to see her again. But I was lost. The other two merely nodded their head and ate their soup.


What a quaint little house, I thought. I walked past it on my way from nowhere in particular heading where my wandering feet would take me. It was one of those days which wasn’t going to be remembered for being remarkable. More so for the peace and the sense of soothing calmness it brought over me. My thoughts wavered unpredictably like horses in the rain. I heard every sound, the crunching leaves, the snapping twigs, the whispers in the trees. I was aware of every scent that danced with my senses. The freshly cut grass, the hint of sumptuous wet earth, the smoke emanating from cold houses. I saw everything. The lovers walking hand in hand, a sense of ease and procrastination in their step. The cold winter air turning each breath into a foggy mist but it lay hapless in discouraging them from getting lost in each other’s eyes.

And then my eyes chanced upon this quaint little house. I wondered what stories spawned from this humble abode. What secrets it held tightly in its bosom and what scandals were witnessed by its walls. It was empty now, heading steadily towards its slow inevitable perish.

I felt like the house myself. Keeper of secrets, a vault locked with memories, a stern protector of what’s inside lest someone finds the right keys and gains access to what lies within. The keys were lost though and I remained locked like an abandoned house much like this one, living out the remainder of my pointless unremarkable existence averting my gaze from the perils of society. I did have Love once. Now I wanted nothing to do with it. Neither it with me.

I was now the old abandoned house, heading steadily towards my own slow inevitable perish.

What am I?

I feel all this power hiding behind curtains. Everyone can hear my voice but no one can see me. I reveal myself when I want to and turn invisible when I feel like it. Everyone knows me but no one really knows me.

What am I?

A modern human being.

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.