Saturday, September 19, 2009

Phoket mein Phuket!!!

“Yes Dad, I should be there in time for dinner. I know George Uncle is also coming but they should be in another flight.”

“I don’t know what time I will get there exact. Bbye, I’ll let you know”.

And just as soon as I had put my phone down I realized that the ground below was awfully close and that we must be close to landing. But looking out the window it didn’t look out like any of the airports of Kerala that I was familiar with. A certain alternated conscience in the back of my mind said perhaps it must be the old airport in Kochi. Hmm..

I looked out again through the window and I could feel that the plane was moving really slow, even for the fact that it was about to land. It was almost hovering. Then the runway came to view. It seemed like a really small unused one and the ocean was just to the sides. The evening sun had an orange glow spread everywhere.

Then as the plane came down lower again and the runway became all too clear, panic stuck me. This was no runway. Again the alternate conscience spoke, it must be a taxiway and the pilot must have made a mistake. But can he really land the plane here it seems too narrow. And there were planes parked to the sides. Parallel parked like by the side of M.G. Road. And up ahead was horror. Another Indian Airlines plane had its nose stuck out into the the runway (or taxiway) and I was sure we’d crash into it. For a moment the pilot tries to pull up but seems late. But by that time we had moved past that Indian Airlines plane and now it seems that he has barely enough space to land and he does that amazingly. Almost like a helicopter. And as I look out the window I could see two ‘big’ airhostesses of an Airline (the voice in the back says Air Jordan) chatting away merrily and unaware that a plane had landed on the taxiway. But they did seem pissed off at all the noise around.

Meanwhile inside the plane there was panic everywhere. People are rushing out and aren’t even waiting for the ladder to be put against the plane. I too decide to join the crowd and started pulling at my luggage above. But again panic spreads inside my head as I realize that I don’t have a shirt on. This will have to do. I pull my blazer over me without a shirt and start walking to the exit.

When I boarded this plane I knew this ticket I had with me was for Port Blair. I assumed that it was meant to make a stop somewhere in Kerala before that and my plan was to get out there and make my way home to Trivandrum. But looking out the window this didn’t look like either Trivandrum or Kochi. It seems I wouldn’t be able to be home in time for Dinner.

The blond haired man (the voice in the heard said he’s an American) who was sitting next to me was just ahead of me at the exit. I gathered up the most severe of my American accent and asked him “Excuse me sir, where is this place exaclly?”

He turned around and said “Kuch kaha be tune?”

Feeling extremely embarrassed I said again in a more Indian accent, “I was just asking you sir where exactly this place is?”.

“Phuket, Thailand”, said the ‘American’.

By this time I was out of the plane. The scene there was really out of this world. Planes were parked on either side of the taxiway and there was a bustling crowd everywhere. I didn’t know what to do.

I turned around to the plane that had brought me there. It was all empty and two airhostesses were chatting away at the stairs. I approached one and meekly said to her “My ticket is for Port Blair”.

The lady was plump and looked like one of the ladies that you see in cnn or bbc that they show of places like Lebanon or Iran. She really should have had a scarf around her face.

The lady smiles and says, “Don’t worry I’ll take care of it”.

But as the sinking sun had disappeared completely making the flashy neon lights outside the airport all the more attractive there was a debate going on between the two voices in my head.

The one in the front said, “ to call up mom to ask her to put my dinner back in the fridge I’ll have it tomorrow. I should be able to find another plane from Port Blair to Trivandrum first thing tomorrow”.

The one in the back said, “Dude you’ve got the weekend off. Have fun here in Phuket and we’ll find a way of getting to Kerala later”

No don’t wake up now no noooooooo..The beaches, the babes…ahh crap, I should have closed the curtains.

PS: Afternoon naps do bring the most wonderful dreams. The only problem is they always seem to end just when it starts to get exciting. I thought I’d write down this one before I forget it and publish it before i change my mind.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Of Wines, Whiskey, Weed and Cleo

Anish was a proud Syrian Catholic of the Pala Diocese. On one occasion when he was getting eloquent about the proud history of the Syrian Christians of Kerala over a bottle of Fine OCR Rum and the choicest herbs rolled in Rizla he was getting a bit unbearable.

Nitin all of a sudden burst out saying “Dude, you can’t be as much as a pure bred as you claim to be. You know that your surname traces its origin to Egypt? For all you know you might have got to the Mallu shores hanging on to a drift wood in the Arabian Sea. Or perhaps your ‘great to the power 20th’ grandfather used to clean the deck on the ships that got spices to Egypt and he jumped out when the ship was parked for petrol in Kochi or Kodungalloor”

And Rajesh too quipped in saying, “Hey I’ve seen your grandmom and her nose does resemble Queen Cleo’s.

Anish (still not having regained from the shock of Nitin’s outburst): Cleo??

Nitin: Cleopatra you fool.

Anish: Dude that’s not possible. My ancestors were here in Kerala during the time of Jesus, and Cleopatra was probably in Dubai or wherever in Egypt at that time

Vipin (drunk as hell): Dude Cleo was in Rome. She was going out with Julius Caesar.

Nitin: I thought she was dating Augustus Caesar?

Vipin: Well you see they both lived in the same house, and once Augustus was working out in the gym Cleo saw him and fell flat.

Rajesh: And she used to terrorize us with her homemade Chakka Ada* whenever we went to her place.

Vipin: Who Cleopatra? Hic.

Anish: Please how is it possible that my ancestors be in Egypt at the time of Cleo. He would have been here in Kerala to get baptized at the hands of St. Thomas.

Nitin: Now don’t even get me started on that whole story. Man, even if the guy was here in Kerala I don’t think any ancestor of yours would have let himself come in contact with water to be baptized, at any cost. Just tell me when was the last time that you took a bath?

Rajesh: Maybe St. Thomas offered him a kilo of the finest ‘grass’ from the shores of lake Jordan

The whole group burst out laughing. And when the laughter and the smoke settled all of them looked at Anish. His face grim. Just as it was starting to feel as if the limits have been crossed he smiled and said, “Probably also a bottle of the wine left over from Cana”, and started out laughing himself.

Having had their fill of A, cut and diced the attention turned to Vipin. Vipin believed in balanced living. He balanced the barrel-fulls of beer that he consumed with hours spent in the gym the next day. Still he had a hard time balancing his tummy when he walked.

Nitin started: Dude hows that one pack ab of yours?

Vipin (struggling to keep his eyes open): Coming out good man. Round and fine

Nitin: Ahh I knew it. You were always an all rounder

Vipin: hehe. Hey you won’t believe it, I saw a sardar in the gym today

Nitin: So what’s the big deal. They have so much of butter chicken and booze, they got to burn it off

Vipin: No dude this guy was fit. He had six pack abs and everything

Nitin: A sardar with abs? Dude that’s ‘ab-surd’

Everyone started laughing again and Rajesh sprayed the beer in his mouth practically all around the room.

Another joint started doing the rounds.

Rajesh started getting up saying that he’s gotta drop a friend to the railway station.

Nitin: Dude which one? The girl friend? The partimer? The neighbor next door?

Rajesh: Oh shut up. She’s not my girlfriend

Vipin: Oh poor boy, don’t you worry I’ll advise you on some of my best tricks to make a girl accept your

friend request in Orkut. Start talking about your sick mother in home and the unmarried sisters…

Anish (cutting in): Ahh shut the F up V. Maavinte mandel irikkunnavanu aarelum mango juice kodukkumo (roughly translated: Do you offer mango juice to anyone who’s sitting on a mango tree?)

Vipin (obviously not pleased at being cut short): Why not what if he feels like having vodka mixed with mango juice when he’s on the mango tree?

Nitin cut in: Hey you two, FIDO.

Vipin: What???

Nitin: It’s short for F it and Drive On. Dude, Raj let’s just finish off this joint and take off.

Anish who had drifted off to sleep for just a few seconds suddenly opened his eyes and said, “Hey have you noticed that the best things in the world all start with the letter W. You know Weed, Whiskey, Wine…”

“And Women”, said Vipin.

Anish said: Women really are strange creatures, man. Yesterday a woman on the road called me a pervert. I didn’t know what that meant so I replied “It’s O.K”.

Nitin: Haha no surprises there, your face does fit the profile of a serial rapist

Anish: F off. It wasn’t that. This girl was walking towards me and just as she was a few feet away her dupatta just fell off. I swear I wasn’t looking anywhere.

And everyone just started laughing again. “We trust you Anish we trust you”.

Nitin and Rajesh got up and stumbled towards to the car.

*Chakka Ada – Something like a cake made out of jack fruit.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Powers that be.

It was the silence at his official residence that seemed unnerving to Dr. Tiwari. More unnerving than what had transcribed in the just concluded discussions with Prime Minister and the Defense Minister. The silence let him think about the implications of the decisions taken. While all this time he was focused on our enemies at our right and left which made him oblivious to the designs of a foe pretending to be a friend. He had tried hard to convince the Prime Minister that the actions that he planned to undertake would eventually make India another client state of the American Empire. The worst fears of the nation’s founding fathers would soon turn true. The silence seemed to point a finger at him for his oversight.

Since the time he took over as the National Security Adviser of the nation Dr. Shashank Tiwari has been preoccupied with the menace of Internal Security with its links to the adversary across the western border. The United States had spread its tentacles from Eastern Europe to the Middle East to Pakistan and now stood at the doorsteps of this mighty nation which had withstood the overtures to be part of the empire for several decades. And now it seems that it has no option but to surrender its forts. The Prime Minister would be talking to President Obama first thing in the morning giving his consent to use our forward bases to be used by American fighter jets. And by tomorrow the ball would have started to roll which would convert a regional skirmish into a full-fledged world war. What else would it be if the two most powerful nations in the world would battle each other? More than half the world’s population would be affected. The Americans had promised that they would use their bases in Taiwan, South Korea, Guam and the Philippines against China if India let them to the use our bases. It was part of their strategy to surround the enemy and attack from multiple directions. The Prime Minister seemed to believe that we have no other option left with the North East of the country left defenseless as our forces were busy fighting the war in the western frontier. But opening the door to the Americans would make India another Kuwait. It was somewhat like the lines of an Eagles song that he ones heard somewhere - The Americans can come in anytime but they would never leave.

Dr. Tiwari had for long anticipated a war with the Chinese. They wanted a reorganization of the world order. The current status didn’t give due credence to the Chinese beliefs of their standing. The geo political hierarchy still had nations like the UK, France, Germany and Italy punching much above their weights while the Chinese were still being considered outsiders. The war would change all that just as WWII had. What he hadn’t realized was that the Americans also had inklings of the Chinese plan. Perhaps much clearer than he had at that time. And what they did was make the Chinese fight the battle at a time and place of America’s choice. The Americans would now use the war to put the Chinese back to where they belong. The sole credible challenger to western supremacy had to be taught a lesson for dreaming too big. The plan for this must have been set in place at least a decade ago. And all this time he had thought the Iraq war was about the oil and Af-Pak was about terrorism. The silence seemed to laugh at his naivety.

But despite everything he couldn’t find a way out of this. The war between the superpowers will be fought in our living rooms. The destruction will be borne by us, the glory by the Americans. The lives lost will be ours the medals will go to the Americans. The irony of the situation is that in order to establish a democratic government the largest existing democracy would be ravaged. The country will be war torn and would take decades to get back to the growth path envisaged during the beginning of the twenty first century. Three Nimitz class American Aircraft carriers would move into the Bay of Bengal by the end of the week. The number of SSBNs already in the vicinity pointed to the fact that the Americans had much deeper intelligence into the Chinese plans than they were admitting. When he spoke three days back to Richard Alder the head of Pentagon he had acted as if he was surprised at the Chinese audacity. Since that time the Chinese had advance much beyond Tawang and India was just expressing denials of any such thing, hoping against hope that their objective is just to give us a scare and having achieved that would withdraw their forces and go back. But earlier today the Chinese Premier Lai had declared open war. With this agreement with the United States we were letting them fight the Chinese while we take care of the Pakistanis in the west.

Something had to be done and soon. The war had to be fought he knew. But fighting multiple foes on multiple fronts he knew would be a different ball game. Was there something that he was overlooking. Is there some place else that he could look for help. He put another cube of ice in his scotch. He took a sip and sat down in his chair looking up at the roof. Then a sudden thought came in his mind. There was another power that was looking to find its place. He got up, went to his study and picked up the secure phone and dialed a Moscow number. The silence listened to the conversation and smiled.