Archive

Posts Tagged ‘stories’

The Sword Of Damocles

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment

“The sword of Damocles” is an anecdote/parable that entered Greek culture around 2.5 millenia ago, sometime in the early BCE period. It’s an easy one to summarize:

Damocles was a courtier during the reign of Dionysus II. Once, he attempted to flatter the king by referring to the power & authority that Dionysus commanded. Dionysus immediately offered to trade places with Damocles for a while, and Damocles agreed.

However, Dionysus also arranged for a sword to be hung (by a single hair of a horse’s tail) above Damocles’s head – to represent the peril and anxiety that he was constantly under.

Damocles begged Dionysus to be relieved of his kingly duties, for he no longer wished to be so fortunate.

So tell me, dear Reader – what would you do in Damocles’s place? Give up immediately and retreat back to a position of safety, or enjoy the comforts/power for a while and then step back?

Or would you ride your luck to see just how far would it take you?

A tough choice

February 1, 2013 3 comments

Should you do:

  1. What you want to do?
  2. What you think your audience wants you to do?
  3. What your audience actually wants?

It’s a tough choice, isn’t it? I think the best thing that can happen is for #1 and #3 to coincide.

My fingers are crossed.

Questions

November 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Can I? Yes, of course. No doubt about it.

Will I? Not so sure, actually.

High Fidelity

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

A few days ago, my friend and I went to the local Best Buy for some window shopping. While my friend was busy checking out tablets, I headed to the music section and stopped in front of the Bose kiosk. I tapped the buttons, took the tour of the various systems, and admired the sound – clear, loud notes that you can only experience but not describe.

And as I stood there thinking, I was suddenly transported back in time.

In early 2004, I worked in Talawade – an industrial area outside Nigdi, hardly 20km away from Pune. Talawade is the local mecca for small-scale manufacturers, and is filled with tiny workshops interspersed with larger factories. If you approach Talawade from Nigdi, the road finally comes to a dead end, and then you either turn right towards Bhosari, or left towards Dehu Road.

Just around this corner, there was (is?) a small joint about 100 feet away from the tarmac. Trucks lined the empty space in front of it, and in the rainy seasons you had to watch your step while going in. From the road, it appeared to be just another dhaba, but as you walked closer, your senses were pleasantly assaulted – the smell of dal fry and the tandoor lingered in the air, truck drivers’ chit-chat was all around, and waiters scurried around attending to the patrons.

The owner sat in a corner, keeping an eye on the proceedings, and next to him was a small portable stereo. It was connected to two speakers installed in the rafters, and it belted out hits from the 70s through the early 90s. The speakers  were tinny, and the songs were always scratchy – no bass and hardly any “body” to the songs. But whenever a song ended, we would inadvertently stop chatting in anticipation of the next one.

Most of the times, you would get to hear classics from the likes of QSQT, Aashiqui and Hero, but once in a while the owner would switch gears and treat us to Kishore Kumar or even Gulzaar. Lunch would get over in about 25 min, but we would stay for longer. We would leave an hour after reaching the dhaba – stomachs gorged on dal-roti and mind sated with great music.

Un Momento

October 15, 2012 3 comments

I got down from the bus, crossed the street, and started to walk towards my apartment. I took the shortcut between the B and C buildings, but instead of going towards the water fountain, I kept going straight around the shade tree. As I turned left, a stray ray of sun hit my eye, and I turned to look.

The setting sun was peeking through the two buildings, and the leaves were shimmering with a brilliant shade of yellow. The grass around the tree was strewn with fallen leaves, and there were three ducks swimming in the water. In an instant, my mind was divided in two – one part of me wanted to run to the apartment, get the camera and shoot this magnificent spectacle. The other part said – will it still be this enchanting when you are back with the camera? Probably not. So it’s better if you just stand here for 10 mins and watch it until it lasts.

As I wrestled between these two thoughts, I finally found middle ground. No doubt, the moment would be lost by the time I came back with my camera. But at the same time, if I stayed there till dark then my memory would get distracted by the beauty of darkness too.

So I stood there for two minutes, took in the whole scene, and walked home with a memory of a beautiful fall sunset.

Short Story – Epiphany

October 8, 2012 5 comments

The man sat in a corner, head in his hands and eyes closed. After all he had been through, his master had added yet another task to his plate. He already had more than enough to occupy his whole day – in fact, even if he quit sleeping and eating, he wouldn’t be able to complete everything his master asked of him.

For all these months, he had been struggling – shifting priorities and shuffling between tasks – and to some extent had succeeded, indeed. There had never been even a single catastrophic day so far. Oh yes, there had been times when he had given up hope, but trudged along anyways. Waiting for the sky to fall, he had instead been surprised when things righted themselves. Miracles, he assured himself.

No, it’s your overflowing bowl of kindness and good karma, his near & dear ones had said.

He turned around and looked at them. They were so happy and carefree, playing in the garden. He liked to see them that way – innocent and unaware of what he was going through.

A hulking figure stepped in front him, and he was broken out of his reverie. He looked up – it was his master. His master, who piled task upon task on him, seemingly carving enjoyment out of the misery that was doled out.

But today, his master was not gloating – the look on his face was – he was content. The master turned his head to look into the garden. Then, he turned back to face the man, gave a fleeting smile, and walked away.

The man was puzzled. What could that smile mean? Was he out to dole misery to his entire family now?

And then he remembered that day, years ago, when he had realized for the first time that there was no escaping the fate in store for him and his family.

That day, he had walked up to his master, and made a deal – that he alone would bear all the misery in store for his family. In return, his family would live a happy and contented life, unaware of what was happening to him.

He smiled, stood up, and went back to his work.

Tuesday morning

February 22, 2012 2 comments

“This is the H Line to 18th & California. Stand clear, the doors are closing.”

I held on to the handrail, and the train jerked into motion. As it turned under Colfax avenue, I was thrown slightly off  balance and held the handrail tighter. I did not fall, but my eyes opened in reflex. The train went on slowly, and came to a halt at the traffic light. Beyond the fence is the community college’s parking lot. Usually it is at least half-full of cars, but on this day it was strangely empty. Snow had covered most of the grass and walkways – it was a sea of white.

And right through the maze of parked cars and accumulated snow, a man was walking his dog. He was not an urban resident – he had a scruffy beard, and a backpack that towered a foot over his head. His back was bent under the weight, but his step was firm. As he reached the end of one parking aisle, he stopped, took off his backpack, and said something to his dog. His dog woofed, and the man smiled back.  As they spoke with each other, I noticed his clothes. He seemed to be wearing some grime-covered military surplus gear; his boots reached halfway up to his knees. The left leg of his trousers was neatly tucked inside, but the right  one was out. It didn’t bother him at all – perhaps he hadn’t even noticed.

After a while, he looked up to the sky for a moment, put on his backpack and started to walk again. This time, his shoulders were square, and he had a spring in his step. For a few moments, his dog had to trot to keep up with him. Then he turned, and disappeared behind a building.

I don’t think he was a homeless man. I would prefer to think that he was a man of the mountains, one who makes his living off the land.

Yes, it sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Living in the mountains in a small log cabin with just nature to give you company. Reading a book by a rustic fireplace, and foraging the forest for your own food.

But that’s what it is, really – just a romantic dream. In reality, none of us urbanites would survive even a week in a jungle.

But if you were given the chance to find out, dear reader, would you try it?