Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Cataclysm - A Short Story

He had decided to take Tomkins to the palace by the underground and now he regretted having ever made such a decision! The incessant rain had made the whole city of Longarno a swamp, a virtual sea of water and they were stuck inside the underground. There seemed to be no way out! 

He glanced at Tomkins apprehensively who shrugged and said, "I guess we are in for a long haul!" he said with finality.
"Yes, Tomkins, I guess we shouldn't have stepped out after all" he replied apologetically. 
"OK, no problem at all, Roy, we will wait for the rain to stop," he added.

Just then there was a loud crash that reverberated throughout the underground station and before the eyes of the horrified spectators, a whole train on the tracks below the platform was tossed a few inches above the track by a gush of water rushing behind it. Clearly, the salvage pumps in the underground Metro Station had failed.

Roy grabbed hold of Tomkin's arm and shouted, "Let's get out of here, the station will soon be flooded!'

They took the escalator towards the exit but were hampered and hemmed in by who were headed the same way. Just as they reached the exit, the reason for the huge crowd became clear. A surge of water was headed over the lip of the entrance straight into the underground station. The water was a couple of feet deep inside the exit and people were hesitant about stepping into the street where the water would have been deeper! Tomkins and Roy however, took the plunge and literally waded into the street where the water was now waist deep.

The sky was overcast and it was pouring, thick drops of rain that seemed more like lead bullets than drops of water.

"Let's head that way," Roy shouted, indicated towards a rise in the ground.

They waded towards the spot indicated by Roy. It was an artificially created mound of debris, probably leftover from recently completed renovation work on the metro station. Shivering in the cold rain, they looked with dismay at the rapidly changing landscape. The streams of water had turned into torrents of water which had picked up speed. They watched helplessly as a couple of men who had emerged from the entrance of the metro station were swept off their feet by the rapidly moving torrent of water.

Far away in the distance came the wailing sounds of fire engines rushing towards them. Soon, however, the fire engines were forced to stop because of the rising levels of water. The firemen climbed onto the top of the fire engines looking around rather helplessly, unable to do anything to help the stranded passengers of the metro.

Both Roy and Tomkins realised that there was no point in staying on the island as it was evident that the deluge would soon overwhelm their island. With one accord they both looked in the direction from where the fire engines had come. They needed to head towards higher ground and for that to happen they would have to wade against the stream.

"Let's do it!" Tomkins shouted above the noise of the rain even as he nodded towards East.
"Sure, let's move before the rising waters become too difficult to fight!' Roy added.

Both of the men took their second plunge that day into the swirling waters of madness, the rain would simply not let up! 'So much so for global warming!' Roy thought even as he led his friend towards the deluge.

Thus it was that two tired, bedraggled and miserable men ended up at the foot of the hills overlooking the sinking town of Torquay. They turned and looked towards the West, it looked like the sea had finally swallowed up the town, or at least most of it. They would have to crest the hills in order to reach the town of Komso which they hoped would have been spared the flooding.

The rains had continued for another five days and by then the whole landscape of Longarno and its surround district had been changed completely. Roy and Tomkins had managed to escape the deluge and made their way inland to Tigrey, the capital of  Marseles.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Aphids and Ants share a very strange Relationship!

Yes, I mean it, Aphids and Ants do share a very strange relationship. I had read about this mutually beneficial relationship between two different insect species but today was the first time I was really able to see it for myself!

You can literally see the ants stroking the backs of the Aphids while the Aphids become perfectly still, exuding a white kind of stuff on to the plant's stem which the ants gulp!

It is clear that Aphids and Ants have a symbiotic relationship. The Aphids feed the Ants with a milk like stuff, while the Ants provide the Aphids with military protection!

The Ant in the above photograph is stroking the Aphid, probably to encourage it to produce milk.

Sometimes a plant stem will be covered with a multitude of Aphids. On looking at the plant stems, one might wonder if the white stuff might not be some kind of a fungus, however, if you see ants moving around, pausing at the white spots, take a more careful look and you will notice something strange.

The world of Ants and Aphids is a remarkable world in which one can see a remarkable example of inter-species cooperation. Look carefully and you might see the Aphids moving along the stem. They will stop of course when they come across Ants. Welcome to the strange world of insects!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Happy Teacher's Day!

It was all rather quiet when I reached my faculty on the fourth floor on Teacher's day on the fifth of September though there was indeed quite a good deal of student movement. I usually reach early so as to cover up on leftover work. However, the moment I stepped into my faculty, I realized that something was different. Lying on each teacher's work station was a folded A-3 sized folder. When you opened the folder, the inner pages were full of greeting from students. The front page of mine had a very nice picture of me! 

The glasses, the side-parting of the hair, the mustache, and the way the laces have been tied, someone had seriously studied how I looked and this was a testimony to the impact teachers leave on their students' minds!
The day went on we went into our classes the students were a little restless-they had bags which I assumed contained their spare clothes. I had an inkling that the grade twelve students had planned something for later on, but then I did not pay heed, I had to wind up with ASL marks, Report Bee entries, and all this while the grade eight students poured into the faculty with their appreciation cards that they had made, cut designed, and written with their honest and sincere feelings. We were all overwhelmed by their gratitude expressed not through expensive designer cards, or even fancy knick knacks, but with colorful bits of paper with a sincere message in the inner fold. 
After dispersal, we had to head to one of the auditoriums and as soon as each teacher reached the entrance there was a loud cheer to welcome the teacher. The cheering was so loud that I had to close my ears for some time, although it did nothing to dampen the spirit and the enthusiasm.
We took our seats waiting for the program to start, and lo and behold got to see my grade twelve students on the stage, handling the announcements and the commentaries all in very different avatars, it was like they had suddenly become grown ups with the ability to take responsibilities a confidence that I saw sometimes in the class.

But then, well it was a double whammy for us this year. While the students got to honor their teachers on the fifth of September, the core group with Manit Sir appreciated all the teachers on the eighth of September. Teachers and staff who had completed five years and more were given a special mention and tokens of thanks were given to them, I included! The appreciation and words of encouragement were so straight from Manit Sir's heart that most of us were spellbound and had no words to say! After muster in the main auditorium, we proceeded to The Kingdom of Dreams for the "Beyond Bollywood" show. It was indeed a wonderful moment for the teachers for once to relax, put their corrections away and soak in the music and performance of the exceptionally talented artists on stage.

Heartfelt thanks to all the students and the Core Group for making this a memorable and wonderful Teacher's Day!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Taking too many Selfies? You might be suffering from Selfitis !

I have never got around to perfecting that quintessential selfie pout nor do I intend to twist my face into the most distorted and contorted proportions. I am camera shy and often beg not to be photographed, (if it can be helped), but then I do feel a little ashamed for not bowing down to the Selfitis phenomenon that is sweeping the town off its feet!
Just recently Nitin Gadkari the Union Minister for Transport appeared on television urging owners of smartphones to use them carefully and responsibly, that too after a short video clip showing a graphic scene of a man who was crushed to death as he was taking a selfie and did not see the vehicle that killed him, his children were weeping for him.
Ancient Philosophers and great thinkers would have termed this obsession with one’s appearance as Narcissism. Before the advent of the smart phone with its gift of a front phone and a rear phone, people were obsessed with how they looked and they used mirrors to ensure that not even one of the locks of their well-maintained hair was out f place. No wonder, I recall seeing bike mirrors angled favourably towards the rider’s face and not the road behinds. The mitigating factor in the good old days was that people could take a look at their faces in the safety of their houses using the bedroom mirror or the one in the bathroom.
Psychiatrists these days are viewing the obsession for taking selfies with concern and they have termed this behaviour as ‘Selfitis’. They are, however, not ready to call it a standalone disease because they believe that Selfitis is the symptom of a disease that is formed of numerous other factors.
A very large number of deaths have taken place in India itself especially on roads and railway lines. In most of the cases, it was because the victims were so engrossed while taking their selfies that they did not see the train coming from the other direction. What made things worse was that they were so involved with the selfie that they did not hear the loud horn of the train coming from the opposite direction!
The need to take selfies on a regular basis might attain the extreme proportions of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, also termed as the ‘Lady Macbeth effect’. Of course, Shakespeare was aware of OCD and thus he described how Lady Macbeth would constantly wash her hands. In many cases, OCD and thus Selfitis can be exacerbated by poor self-esteem. Self-esteem might, in turn, be the result of rejection in the family and the society, or perhaps even not being able to conform to popular demands. As a contrast, Selfitis might also be the result of conformism and the need to do as others do, it might also be the result of FOMO or fear of moving out (fear of being left out).
A  modified self-esteem scale, of the Rosenberg scale, will help the reader understand why people are prone to Selfitis. Ipostedpasted a few questions below. For those who score more than one for each question might be more prone to take selfies.

Self-Esteem Scale Questionnaire
Age: __________________________
Gender: _______________________
Mobile Number: ________________
E-mail Id.: ___________________

Self Esteem Scale                                                                                1      2     3      4
1. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself                                        SA    A   D   SD
2. At times, I think I am no good at all.  *                                           SA    A   D   SD
3. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.                                  SA    A   D   SD
4. I am able to do things as well as most other people.                       SA    A   D   SD
5. I feel I don’t have much to be proud of. *                                       SA    A   D   SD
6. I certainly feel useless at times.*                                                     SA    A   D   SD
7. I feel that I’m a person of some worth, at least on an equal plane
    with others.                                                                                       SA    A   D   SD
8. I wish I could have more respect for myself. *                                SA    A   D   SD
9. All in all, I am inclined to feel as if I am a failure.*                        SA    A   D   SD
10. I feel good about myself.                                                                SA    A   D   SD
11. I feel very happy to be in the company of friends.                         SA    A   D   SD
12. My friends look forward to meeting me.                                        SA    A   D   SD
13. Large social gatherings thrill me as I get to meet new people.       SA    A   D   SD
14. I don’t like being in the company of friends.*                                SA    A   D   SD

SA- Strongly Agree
A   - Agree
D  - Disagree
SD – Strongly Disagree
To measure the self-esteem, score as follows:
1. A total score of 14 is an indication of strong self-esteem. Note: for questions ending in a ‘*’ mark, the SA option will be counted as a four, while and SD will become one.
2. A total score of 15-28 could be an indication of a fair amount of self-esteem. Note for questions ending in a ‘*’, SA will be counted as four, A will be counted as three, D will be counted as two and SD will be counted as one.
3. A total score of 29-42 could be an indication of poor self-esteem. Note for questions with a ‘*’ mark,
SA will be counted as four, A will be counted as three, D will be counted as two and SD will be counted as one.
4. A total score of 43-56 could be an indication of very poor self-esteem
It is not claimed that the scores indicated through the questionnaire are conclusive and final since it is not possible for self-esteem to be accurately analysed through a single questionnaire. For better accuracy in measurement, the subject will have to go through a battery of questionnaires. This article, however, is an attempt to suggest how people with poor self-esteem might be prone to be compulsive selfie takers, as they might be able to gain some kind of self-reassurance by taking as many selfies as possible.
To gain credibility, the modified Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale scores should be followed by a questionnaire that will attempt to record the frequency of selfie’s taken over a given period of time. A correlation between the Self Esteem Scale scores and selfie frequency score might be indicative of the assumption that poor self-esteem is indicated in a high frequency of selfies taken by the subject.
A typical Selfitis Questionnaire is given below:

Selfitis Questionnaire
Age: __________________________
Gender: _______________________
Mobile Number: ________________
E-mail Id.: ___________________

1. Are you on any Social Networking site?    (yes/no)
2. Do you engage in clicking selfies?       (yes/no)
3. Do you edit your selfies before posting them on Social Networking sites?   (yes/no)
4. Do you invest a great deal of time in attaining the right/perfect selfie and then post it on a Social Networking site?  (yes/no)
5. Do you post more selfies than groupies?  (yes/no)
6. Do you think you have been taking an excessive number of selfies (ten or more in a day) but feel helpless about it?    (yes/no)
7. Does your selfie habit impede on other important activities like studies, relationships, personal interactions, and sleep?  (yes/no)
8. Do you click a minimum of three selfies in a day and not post them on Social Networking sites? (Yes/no)
9. Do you click a minimum of three selfies in a day and post them on Social Networking Sites? (yes/no)
10. So you have an unstoppable urge to click selfies most of the times in a day to post them on Social Networking sites? (yes/no)
11.Does this feedback form on your selfie behaviour make you feel uncomfortable? (yes/no)
12. Does the positive feedback you receive about the selfies posted on Social Media make you feel happy? (yes/no)
13. Is your selfie habit driven by a feeling of self-accomplishment or is it driven by the fact that it is a socially accepted behaviour? (yes/no)
14. Do you think that your selfie habit is driven by your need to be accepted by your friends? (yes/no)
15. Do you think positive feedback on your selfies gives you a strong self-esteem? (yes/no)
16. Have you at any time in life faced a threat or danger to your personal well-being because of your selfie habit? (yes/no)
17. Have you ever felt empowered while taking a selfie in a dangerous situation (at the metro station, close to a railway line, or while crossing a busy road)? (yes/no)
Note: Having zero to five affirmatives in the questionnaire indicates negligible interest in taking selfies.Having five to nine affirmative answers might indicate an obsessive need to take selfies. Similarly having between ten to seventeen affirmative answers could mean that the subject has a serious problem with the selfie habit. Respondents who are more interested in posting groupies will be less affected by the selfie syndrome.
Special thanks to Aastha Rebecca Lal for sharing data and concerns regarding the phenomena called 'Selfitis' an obsession for taking selfies.

To conclude, posted below are a few quotes titles or headlines on Selfitis:

Selfie and narcissism
Instagram users admit they’ve created the most narcissistic social network on the planet

Published: Aug 11, 2017 11:18 a.m. ET
Selfie and narcissism
Hey, Guys: Posting a Lot of Selfies Doesn’t Send a Good Message
Posting more online photos of yourself may suggest anti-social traits
Published on January 06, 2015

Selfies and narcissism
Carolyn Gregoire The Huffington
Love 'em or hate 'em, selfies are harmless fun -- right? Maybe not. Per new research, selfies can say a lot about your personality, and not in a good way. 

So Much Of Beauty Is Fake News, So Why Are We Still Sucked In?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A few important Chapterwise questions for Invisible Man

Chapter 19:
1. What are the principles behind invisibility according to Griffin?
2. What is the significance of  Chesilstowe?
3. What difficulties did Griffin face during the course of his research? How did he tackle them?
Chapter 20:
1. Describe Griffin's experiment with the cloth and the cat.What difficulties did he face with the cat?
2. Why was Griffin forced to bring forward his experiment on himself? What made him burn down his lodgings?
Chapter 21:
1. How did Griffin feel while on Oxford street? Describe his experience.
2. Do you think invisibility had been an advantage for him after all he had gone through in Oxford Street?
3. Bring out the irony of Griffin's situation in the 21st chapter.
Chapter 22:
1. Describe Griffin's experience at the Omniums Emporium. Why did he get into the store, and why did he have to flee into the street the next day?
2. Describe the dreams that Griffin saw while asleep in the store. What is the symbolic importance of the two dreams that he sees?
3. How does Griffin behave the next morning when he is confronted by the staff of the Omniums store? What does this tell you about his character?
 Chapter 23:
1. What "common conventions of humanity" did Griffin break in Drury Lane? Was he justified in doing so?
2. How does Griffin suddenly feel about being invisible? Why did he think that an invisible man 'was a helpless absurdity'?
3. Describe Griffin's appearance after dressing up at the prop shop in Drury Lane. Describe the term 'Romance of the grotesque' with reference to the chapter.
4. Why could Griffin not eat in public, or at an upscale restaurant after becoming invisible?
Chapter 24:
1. What are Griffin's plans for unleashing a reign of terror? Why does he need Dr. Kemp's support?
2. Why did Griffin change his plan for leaving the country? What forced him to change his plans?
Chapter 25:
1. What advice did Dr. Kemp give to Colonel Adye for the apprehension of Griffin?
Chapter 26:
1. How had the tables been turned against Griffin? Why had he become the hunted instead of the hunter?
2. What state of mind might Griffin have been after fleeing from Dr. Kemp's house?
3. What proof do you have that Griffin might have come across Mr. Wicksteed?
4. Do you think Griffin was fully responsible for the murder of Mr. Wickstead? Make a case for or against Griffin.
Chapter 27:
1. Describe the Seige of  Dr. Kemp's house.
2.Narrate the events that led to the death of Colonel Adye. Do you think his death could have been avoided?
3.What does the policeman mean when he states, "Doctor Kemp's a hero"? Do you agree with the policeman or do you think Dr. Kemp was an opportunist?
4. Who was the braver of the two, Dr. Kemp or Colonel Adye?
Chapter 28:
1. Describe Heelas. What kind of a neighbour was he?
2. Why did Dr. Kemp head towards the Port Burdock Port Stowe Road? What did Dr. Kemp finally do to ensure that Griffin was captured?
    Describe the steps taken to apprehend Griffin.
3. Describe the last moments of Griffin.
The Epilogue:
1.Describe the transformation that has taken place in Mr. Marvel.
2.Do you think Mr. Marvel was a better custodian of the diaries than Dr. Kemp would have been if he had been given the chance?  

Monday, 28 August 2017

Regarding Manual Scavenging and Ragpicking

Although it has been seventy years since we have achieved independence from Colonial rule, we still have not managed to break free of some of the practices that existed then. Manual scavenging, manual removal of night-soil, and manual cleaning of sewer lines take place in many parts of our country even today. As students of English, we have even read a lesson titled Lost Spring by Anees Jung in grade twelve which describes besides other things, Saheb e Alam, a rag-picker scrounging in garbage bins for something that might be of use. Rag-pickers like Saheb look for gold which might be a ten Rupee note. While rag picking might be something akin to opening boxes of gifts that have been gift wrapped, one side of rag-picking is that it is hazardous since it exposes rag pickers to diseases, toxic contamination, and perhaps even the stink of garbage.
Manual scavenging is an unfortunate task involving the manual removal of untreated human waste from toilets that have no sewer lines. There used to be time when toilets were located on the upper floor would have a pipe through which the excreta would drop into a shallow chamber at the street level. The manual scavenger would visit twice or thrice a day and remove the offal. Often the offal would be carried in an iron container on top of the head. Today, manual scavenging is on the wane, especially in relatively more developed towns and cities. The clarion call for a clean India along with better sanitation and  hygiene has had its impact on the scourge of manual scavenging.
Doing away with the stigma of caste, proving scavengers with employment opportunities, empowering them and perhaps making them custodians of the recycling industry could perhaps open better avenues for them, and in the process give a boost to the country's economy.
Talk of rag picking and one will often find children and adults going through garbage dumps looking for stuff they can sell to the neighbourhood 'Kabadiwalla' or recycle goods merchant. Manual scavengers are often on the look out for plastics and scrap metals that that can be recycled. Cardboard, waste paper, glass bottles, are like gold for the people who have made scavenging their bread and butter. 
Somehow it seems we are to blame for the custom of manual scavenging in the world's largest Democracy for the main reason that honest and sincere segregation of waste does not take place at home! The segregation of biodegradable waste from non biodegradable, segregation of toxic waste and e-waste from other waste might help mitigate manual scavenging. Unfortunately, poverty and superstition are also major causes for manual scavenging. Casteism and the socio-economic divide the exists between manual scavengers and mainstream communities is so great that one wonders if we can ever treat them with dignity!
The Government of  India 'Employment of Manual Scavenging and Construction of Dry Latrine (Prohibition) Act 1993 specifically prohibits the engagement or employment of persons for manually carrying human excreta, and further possible maintenance and construction of dry latrines. Unfortunately, the manual cleaning of sewers continues to this day. People enter sewer pipelines and chambers to manually remove blockages. A few of them never return alive! These people enter the sewer pipes and chambers without safety gear, let alone disinfectants or even medical treatment. The protection they have from the foul smell or the ugliness of he sewage is to consume some alcohol to kill their sense of smell and perhaps numb them to the menial task they are doing. Laws are made only to be broken, the reality is that manual scavenging is taking place even today.It is still to be seen the the metros and swanky cities that have sprung up all over the cities! We might drive flashy cars, flaunt expensive phones, but when it comes to unblocking our sewers, we turn to the sewer expert to do our dirty work for us! We have as yet to upgrade to modern equipment for unclogging our sewers. We have got around to calling Manual Scavengers as Sanitation workers and turn a blind eye when we see them entering a manhole. Well, I guess as long as we have round manhole covers, we we continue to have Manual Scavengers (That is metaphorically of course)!
The fact of the matter is that if we can somehow transform manual scavenging into an organised industry and employ people who did the menial task of scavenging with their hands, then surely we could transform their lives. Recycling is a money-spinning industry in some Western and Scandinavian countries. As they say, nothing sells better than recycled raw material. To do away with the scourge and stigma of manual scavenging, we need to provide people at the grass-root level with proper training on how to handle hazardous waste; we need to provide them with proper equipment, systems, technology and processes for contributing to the recycling industry.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Critters in Macro Mode

It is amazing what an ordinary Canon EFS 18-55 mm will do for you! The photographs posted below were taken with hand-held Canon 1100D and 1300D cameras. One needs to, however, understand that the sweet spot of this lens lies between f-7.1 to f-10.

If the flies were not particularly glad to be photographed, the spider that I saw another day in the verandah was most particularly shy. She had been sitting on top of an empty ice-cream cup and was very scared! I wonder who was more surprised, the spider or me!

This is probably the previous spider's cousin 

It takes two to tango!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Is Digital Equity Real?

Digital Equity is an elusive Civil Right even today, thus it is a major issue that can be put to the debate. People believe that technology should provide everyone opportunities for growth. However, the reality is that although we might thrust Digital Technology onto the entire population of a country, the fact remains that a large number are still Digital Technology Illiterate! Some don't even have access to Technology. It is clear that Digital Equity is a major issue that divides the society into the haves and the have nots! Those who have access to Digital Technology might get the best jobs or even get admission to some of the best colleges without being really intelligent or even accomplished professionals, while those who really deserve to get that seat because of their abilities are left out just because they don't have that internet connection or even a smart phone!
It is an unfortunate reality that lack of Digital Equity and thereof the lack of opportunities for all have resulted in a society that is in a state of a divide. Take for example the tedious process of registering yourself for a seat in a college. Unless you are tech-savvy, it is going to be difficult for you to get yourself registered. A large number of students aspiring for a seat in a prestigious college in the capital cit might be left out for the specific reason that they don't have a good internet supply in the countryside, or perhaps their internet device is not capable of handling the pages on the college website. A few students might outsource the filling in of their college forms to the Guy running the Neighbourhood Cybercafe, in many cases for an exorbitant amount! Where then, is Digital Equity?  
A large number of people living in the country are the elderly, those who have somehow managed to handle cell phones that have a keypad, they might have tried a smartphone but are nervous about using the touchscreen. With the Government insisting on Digital Payments, the elderly are simply at a loss about going ahead with the same. The fact of the matter is that Technology has become for some, a monster that refuses to let go!
Most of the jobs today require some kind of basic skills in handling computers. Some people can't imagine that there are a lot of people in this world who are simply not computer literate. Would you expect a Janitor to be able to fill in an excel sheet or even share his schedule on a Google sheet? 
So then, can we in any way claim that Digital Equity exists in our world today? Can we claim that everyone on this planet has access to electricity, technology and an internet connection that is reliable? In a world that reels under shortages of power, water, basic resources, can we turn a blind eye towards those who don't have access to digital technology and expect them to compete with those who have access to the same? How much does being Tech Savvy make you a better person than one who is not? Has technology helped you improve your scores in a test? Has it made your handwriting better? Does being Tech Savvy give you the right to the coveted seat in a world that is unfair in the opportunities it gives to all its citizens?
It all boils down to the dichotomy between Intellect and Tech. Savviness. Being being Tech Savvy does not necessarily make you an intellectual, in the same way, that being an intellectual simply does not make you Tech Savvy! Both of these skills do not always connect!
What is badly wrong our understanding about Digital Technolgy is that we have a seriously flawed idea that access to Digital Technology and being Tech.Savvy give the right to be better than others! The fact is that Digital Equity is still a distant reality, and at the most a misnomer, all illusion that we are deluding ourselves with!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A few very short Horror Stories


They were driving up the mountain road when they heard the loud noise like an airplane's engines, the next they realized was that they had become part of the deluge and were being carried relentlessly towards the edge and the chasm a thousand feet below them.


They had been driving for quite some time, the two girls at the back and him at the wheel; his head nodding, he had stopped for a while, when he woke up there was only one girl, the other they had taken away in the dark.

The Long Road

They were driving at a steady pace, admiring the landscape, below them flowed the Beas river, a deep-swift flowing river, the road began to descend, a left forked into the river and the right into the tunnel; suddenly we saw a beautiful temple across the river, attention diverted, he drove towards the left fork into the river, suddenly his father called out a warning, "I don't think you want to go there, we will end up grinning with shock!"

Short Circuit

He was riding his motorcycle on the overpass when suddenly the engine quit, he glanced with horror at the truck and car behind him, turning anxiously towards the left curb, he managed to coast to a stop even as the traffic brushed past, a hairs breadth between life and death, the battery had shorted, wires under the tank had caught fire!


The two friends had read many detective stories so they agreed to become agents, but when they entered the establishment that was suspected to be responsible for the disappearance of children, they found it difficult to get out, the establishment's security was very strong, the police would have to rescue them before they themselves were 'processed' or 'eliminated'.

The Fly

He turned towards his companion, "What the heck! Why do you have such bright red eyes? What's that nasty thing coming out of your mouth?" His friend turned his head towards him, "Don't you remember? The nuclear blast has turned us into flies!"

 The Crowd

The crowd chanted, it roared, and then engulfed the occupants drowning their screams and cries.


 At dusk, they stepped out of hiding places, swarmed down the streets looking for victims to feed on, but when reached the streets, there was no one around, there were no street lights no cars, nothing, the silence frightened them!


She was woken by a sound of scratching and the need to relieve herself, she did not have the courage to step out of the bed, suddenly she saw the bedroom door open the light from the living room caused the hand holding the sword to cast a shadow that loomed towards her, she choked a scream only to see the axe swinging towards her from side.


The rats had become rather troublesome lately, the scratching and squeaking sounds were coming from the closet that had been his, she had never opened it before but then she couldn't bear the sound so she turned the key for the first time in five years - she did hesitate for a moment, but then it was too late - inside the closet was her worst nightmare, a huge spider that had not fed for five years, it advanced towards her, its eyes hypnotised her and the fangs slid into her, her screams lasted a couple of minutes but there was none to hear her, she lived alone!

The Djinn

He was  on the way to the railway station on his bicycle, when an old man in white clothes asked him for a lift, pitying the old man he complied and let his passenger sit on the carrier; after a few minutes he noticed that the pedal turned with great difficulty - no it was not a puncture, fearing the worst, he turned towards the carrier and saw a djinn twice his size!


He had to leave his wife behind at the hotel, his company website had been hacked, it could be fixed then he could return to his wife, unfortunately, disaster struck, he was midway when the earthquake struck, the hillside town was cut off from the rest of the world, at first he called her up and she called him up, she cautioned him that the only charging point was at the bus stand, and then she stopped calling, and he couldn't get a ringtone on her mobile, the operator stated that the number had been switched off.

The Bailiffs

He owed them a lot of money, so he fled to another city and led an anonymous life for a couple of years, but then one day while returning from the market with some provisions, he saw them on the road leading to his house, he panicked and gunned his motorcycle away from them and blindly headed into the path of a truck, when he woke up in hospital he could neither talk nor move his limbs, he could only hear them talk about him and to him but not respond, he was trapped in a prison from which there was no escape!


He was all alone in the huge house, he had just read Dracula when the power went off, in the silence of the night he could hear claws scratching the door that led to the  backyard, he had to go out, but feared the Unknown, after some time he could not bear the wait and so stepped out to check on things, when he stepped out with his heart in his throat, in the dark, he noticed that the papaya tree leaves had been brushing against the tin roof of the shed because of the light breeze!

Monsters in the Night

The sounds coming from the back lane into which their window opened were loud and frightening, the two brothers decided to investigate, the younger brother loaded the air rifle with a pellet while the elder brother picked up a stout cane, together they unlocked the back door and stepped into the lane, the sounds were terrible, sounds of tortured and angry souls, mixed with sounds of gnashing teeth, curses, and threats, they noticed that the sounds were coming from the window of the room on top of their's - it was the sound of their tenant snoring off his way into the night!


She visited him in his dreams, a beautiful woman who had the most beautiful face with eyes full of compassion and love, everything was alright as long as it was a dream, until of course that night when she called out to him with an insistence that was difficult to ignore, he got up from his bed and followed her into the dark deserted street, and then he caught up with her and she turned towards him, fangs bared in a face from which worms wriggled skeleton  arms reached out to him, helpless with shock he succumbed to her embrace and she sighed as she fed on him, the foolish enamoured youth, one who would be so romantic!


There are eyes everywhere, eyes in the dark, eyes behind the window, eyes in the darkest corner of the closet, and guess what they are waiting for him to weaken up, even as the virus ravages him from inside, and however much he tries, he can't escape their probing eyes, not even when he covers his face with the damp sheet, for then, he fears, they's feed on him even as he lives!

The Game
The messages keep coming, uncanny about how accurate they are, he'd broken up with Samantha, she'd left with Garry, the first few tasks were easy, but not now, he could not refuse them for fear of offending the messenger, and then standing on the edge of the cliff, he thought he heard laughter, but then a gust of wind hit him hard, his foot slipped, he screamed, his cell phone landed safely on the ledge, the message, "Mission Successful" flashed on the screen!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

At the D.D.W.F.C.S. Deborah Award Function (2017)

The Delhi Diocese Women Fellowship for Christian Service hosted its Deborah awards for children of single parents, widows, and students who achieved merit in the tenth and twelfth board exams yesterday, on the 29th of July. The award ceremony took place in the Heinz Auditorium, Delhi YMCA, Jai Singh Road. I was there as my daughter, Ekta was one of the awardees for grade twelve.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Madam Sheila Dixit as the chief guest. Also present on the occasion were Mr Alwan Masih, Secretary of the Synod, North India, Rt. Revd. Bishop Warris Masih, Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi (CNI) and Former Bishop of the Delhi Diocese (CNI), Rt. Revd. Bishop Karam Masih.

One of the most important objectives of the function was to pay tribute to the quintessential Mother, the woman who bears all difficulties and trials while bringing up her children. The awards ceremony celebrated motherhood through a couple of skits performed by children attached to the Delhi YMCA, and also speeches by dignitaries who spoke about their own mothers. One of the guests spoke about how his mother who had never gone to school would welcome him home from school, ask him about the day, then she would feed him lunch. After lunch, she would tell him to do his homework. She would look at everything he had done, look at what he had written, and it looked as if she knew what he had written. Finally, one day when he was in grade seven, he asked his mother to help him with some doubt he had. She dipped the pen in the ink pot and then just froze! That was it! She did not know what to do. And yet she had taken interest in what he had done in school, she had even looked at his work. It was then that he came to know what a mother can do!