A rude naval officer !!!
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I know I will be castigated and made to walk the plank for the title! Fact is that the term ‘rude naval officer’ is an oxymoron, an anomaly. The officer may hurl the choicest expletives and epithets in the work environment or at a stag party of batch mates but in a social environment, he is an epitome of dignity and grace – the quintessential gentleman. As a matter of fact, most naval officers can put the knights to shame in matters of chivalry and even compete victoriously with the ‘nazakat’ of Lucknavi nawabs. So it was rather surprising when we – self and wife – did happen to run into a rude naval officer.

Once upon a time, in the bygone decade of 90s, yours truly was posted to Mumbai. We were staying in the Officer’s transit accommodation pending allotment of a house. My wife was in the family way – in her last trimester. I was posted onboard a ship which sailed frequently but then, this was not a bother since we were staying in the cocooned safety of naval environment. The naval community is close knit and there is never a dearth of assistance.

Meticulous planning is the hallmark of a naval officer! So I had studied the delivery date given by the Gynecologist and planned my annual leave so as to optimize my home stay post baby’s arrival. Any layman would immediately point out the flaw in my ‘meticulous’ planning – it was based on the assumption that my wife delivers the baby on the exact date predicted by the Gynecologist. So, my wife’s going into labour coincided with my ship being at sea!

The wise and the old amongst us may recall a world sans mobiles. In the early 90s, there were these ubiquitous black telephone instruments which were highly temperamental. Unable to get in touch with any friend, she went down the mess parking area looking for someone to give her lift to Asvini, the naval hospital. She found a young naval officer standing next to a car and requested him for a drop to the hospital which is less than a kilometer away. Ordinarily, such request would have elicited a response marked with alacrity and concern. But horror of horrors, the officer actually demurred. He seemed reluctant and tried to stall the trip. He even suggested that at times the labour pains are false and hence there is no urgency to go to the hospital. After a bit of politeness and time, my wife’s patience was running thin and she demanded that she be dropped to the hospital immediately.  The officer reluctantly went over to the driver’s seat, started the car and drove slowly to the hospital. After what seemed like an eternity and zillion jerks, they reached the hospital. My wife was whisked away to the maternity ward. We never met this officer again for a long time and so, I could not, out of politeness, express my gratitude. At the same time, we were appalled at the indifference shown by him.

About 5 years later, we were posted to Goa. We ran across this officer at a naval party. This time, the officer shed his reluctance and proactively came to meet us. After the usual small talk, he turned to my wife and said “ Ma’am , I am sorry about that day. Actually it was not my car. And I had never driven a car before in my life so I was petrified to drive one – that too with you inside”

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.


I Want! by Zarina Sani
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The boon of youth is a life of immense and infinite possibilities ahead. The bane of old age is that you are left with just the satisfaction or regret of a life well lived or not so well lived.  The old age satisfaction of a life well led cannot  rival the excitement of what lies ahead for the youth. The following is an unedited poem written by my daughter one fine evening – it surprised me and made me proud too!!

I want to be a writer, and spin a tale enticing.

I want to be a writer and keep this world gawking.

I want to be a writer and watch this world crumble.

I want to be a writer, must I be humble?

I want to be a bed time story, not a martyr’s book.

But do I really want to be, a faceless little crook?

I want to be an actress and watch this world sparkle.

I want to be an actress, the glamor and the awful.

I want to be an actress, I want to make them laugh,

make them cry, Make em weep,

Want, long, live, die, breathe.

I want to be an actress, I want it all for me.

But do I really want to be a Jane, a Jone, a Lisa,

A dutchess, a princess, a mistress or an actor?

Do I really want to dance for this Director?

I want to be an orator, and feel the crowd cheer.

I want to be an orator and watch their faces whilst they hear.

And hear of beauty, of poverty, of grief, of strife.

I want to be an orator; I want to feel those wings

Of those millions who applaud, talk of me as kings!

But do I really want to be at the mercy of some critique?

Who lives a life, telling everyone how to live it!

I want to be a leader, soar in all that power.

And look straight into those paupers eye’s

Who wants me my love to shower.

I want to be a leader, tall as Mount Dutchess.

I want to be a leader, not a standard I want less!

But do I really want to be left answerable to people?

Little people? Silly people? Argumentative people?

Greedy people? Filthy people? Dark people? Good people?

People?

I want to be that pauper, not a penny less not a penny more.

Just a fist full of dollars.

I want to be that pauper, that man you just ignored.

Because then I am everywhere and nowhere.

Everything and nothing.

I want to be that pauper, that face you just forgot.

Just a prig out of the lot.

But do I really want the rags and not the riches?

The damp dirty ditches?

But alas! I know what I want.

Immortality. Yes?

To be that bedtime story,

To be that body that seduced you,

That man who just moved you,

That crook that just duped you,

That mistress who just tempted you,

That wife who supported you,

That child who questioned you,

The mother that nurtured you,

The boss who hired you,

The god that inspired you.

I WANT NO MORE THAN EVERYTHING!

Inspiration: Daddy dearest :D and the movie, Nine! Watch :D

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.

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On Love
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This piece is about the most written about subject in the history of mankind – LOVE. And its not about platonic love either – its about man-woman love ( sorry, in modern times, LGBT love also). Half the literature and art world is devoted to love, the other half , thankfully, is sane!

The moot point is that love, especially eternal love, is a highly overrated emotion. The kind of love every artist portrays and every lay person dreams about is essentially transient; not meant to last forever. Let’s face it – the only bell I hear ringing when I kiss my wife is the doorbell; there is certainly no thunderous flash of lightning unless the falling of the utensils in the kitchen can be mistaken for one. The process of being comfortable with a person, of understanding and complementing a person is mistaken for love.

True love as portrayed in the arts does exist, albeit in a transient mode. I definitely remember certain intense phases of my life where the world revolved around a single girl (or a not-single woman). A sideways glance and half a smile was enough to send me in raptures of ecstasy. That flip flop in the stomach; the heady feeling; the insane desire to climb mountains and pluck stars for your sweetheart are all a part of this emotions. But such feelings don’t last; are not meant to last. The joy and therein the tragedy lies in the brief window of time where we are exposed to love. Our best arts are a reflection of what we most desire. Implicit is the fact that we most desire those things which we can’t or don’t have. Once you get your love, it cannot be desired anymore and hence transforms into a comfortable or an acrimonious relationship.

Haven’t all of us experienced true love during our lives? YES. And maybe more than once in a lifetime. The fortunate amongst us have experienced and lost it thereby retaining the charm of love. The not so fortunate amongst us have experienced it and hoping to keep it for eternity, watch it slowly wither away in the humdrum of daily life. The tantalizing possibility of what could be is what keeps the fortunate amongst us in love with love and promotes paeans to the emotion of love. But can you seriously envisage Romeo-Julit, Shirin-farhad, Heer Ranjha surviving eternally the profaneness of everyday mundane life?

Love is a beautiful emotion, to be enjoyed while it exists and to be savoured with a tinge of joyful nostalgia and single malt when it is not. You can’t hold a beautiful rose in your hand and expect it to stay forever. It withers away and dies. Same is the case with true love

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.

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The General
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( Disclaimer :Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely co incidental)

Anti corruption drive is the rage of the season. Media is going ballistic over errant ministers and bureaucrats while the common man derives voyeuristic pleasure at the discomfiture of hitherto untouchables’ thereby increasing TRPs of the channel.  In saner and sober moments, I think of myself as a member of moral –keeping middle class and enjoy the discomfiture of the mighty and the corrupt when they have the mike thrust into their face.  I regard the whore soliciting customers upfront on the roadside more honorable than these morally decrepit souls justifying their self serving ways in well phrased language.

Sitting in the salon, these screen events seem remote, kind of removed from personal life which goes on in its unassuming middle class way.  However a recent happening demonstrates that we all do get touched by the monster one way or other – and therefore its mandatory that we stand up and fight against corruption.

I had just resigned my commission as a naval officer – from serving at the pleasure of the President of India I was now to serve at the whims and fancy of the Company Director! Being in the navy has its plus points – stay in South Bombay, Naval school for children, clubs, golf etc. When I shifted to the big bad civilian world, the major hurdle was getting the kids admitted to a good school in Mumbai. We tried our best; we were booted out by some principals whilst others made vague promises. In desperation, we decided to shift to a nearby city and get the kids admitted to the Army School where I expected some kind of preferential treatment. Unfortunately, the admission picture was not too rosy there either.

Now I am a principled kind of a bloke who does not like to subvert the system for personal gains. But I am also a doting father – a role which over rides all other roles. At this juncture of life, I was lucky enough to have a  friend who was a close relative of the army top brass in Bombay – General Bones. A phone call from the General to the Principal of Army School would have ended all my woes.

My friend obliged by putting up my case to her Uncle. However, he declined saying that it was against his principles to subvert the system and that her friend (me) should know better than to request a serving army general for such favours. Duly chastised, I accepted the General’s logic and admired his moral stance. I also tried to realign my moral compass since I felt I had lost ground on the moral front by trying to take undue advantage of my friendship. Unfortunately, I could not or did not set off on a pilgrimage to atone for my sins. I got the children admitted to schools in Bombay, drawing consolation in the fact that I have done the morally right thing – taken the path of harder right than the easier wrong. I mentally saluted the General for bringing me back on the path of virtue and righteousness once more.

A couple of years passed – kids settled down to their school. Friends scattered. I was watching the TV. The anchor was reporting the most recent scam saying “General Bones has been summoned  for Court of Inquiry investigating his alleged role in illegally obtaining a flat in Ideal Housing Society ”

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.


The Fauji Patient
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The military ingests perfectly normal, fairly intelligent human beings and converts them jnto soldiers. The hard nuts refuse to get digested and are excreted out intact while the pliable ones are metabolized and assimilated into the system.

To be candid, the general populace does carry the impression that defence personnel are a tad dense in their upper floor – a notion which is difficult to dispel. Unfortunately there exists a host of factual and fictional anecdotes which augment the belief. I have one such anecdote to narrate.

Capt RK is a retired army officer serving with us – a smart energetic person. Now, we all know that the city of Mumbai plays host to a variety of viruses – some known, other mutants. RK happened to get afflicted with the mutant variety. Initially, like a true fauji, he refused to accept the fact that he was ill. When the fever persisted and we insisted, he reluctantly took sick leave. The local doctors could not get a handle on the mutated virus. He finally went to a swank clinic where all those pedigreed foreign returned doctors practice. The good old days of General Practitioner who examined the patient, drew on his experience and diagnosed are long gone. Today it’s science and gadgets. So poor RK was subjected to a battery of tests, diagnosed as having some unpronounceable disease and was prescribed a 3 day course of different medicines. These medicines came packaged in a single strip with day 1, 2 and 3 marked in column. The patient was required to take the daily set of red, blue and white pill placed column wise every day.

RK started the medicinal course convinced it will cure him of every ill. However at the end of third day, he felt worse and had blood in his sputum. He went back to the flabbergasted doctors complaining of worsening condition.

The flummoxed doctors ran another battery of tests which yielded the same earlier unpronounceable result. Now those fancy foreign returned doctors just couldn’t fathom what was wrong – the diagnosis was positive, the prescribed medicine appropriate but the end result opposite and inappropriate. For once, the super gadgets seemed to let them down.

The clinic had an ex fauji as the Administrator. He overheard the case discussions in the executive lunch room and looked up the medicine strip. He went to RK and asked “Did you eat the medicines regularly?” RK nodded his head in affirmative. “So you ate the red, blue and white coloured tablets each day?” the ex fauji asked indicating the set of medicine meant for Day 1, 2 and 3. “No sir” came the classic reply from RK, ” I ate the red coloured ones on the first day, blue coloured ones the second day and white ones on the last”

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.


The 25th Courtship!
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In the good old days, the art of wooing was simple and straightforward. The man bonked the woman over the head and dragged her over to his cave to fornicate happily ever after. No running circles around the bush to get what he wanted….. Obviously the success rate was directly dependent on the size of the man’s club and the strength with which he wielded it.

As human kind progressed, the club gave way to the mighty sword and the mightier pen. Complex courtship rituals evolved with men rushing in to make bigger fools of themselves in order to woo the fair damsel. Wars were fought, great monuments built, kingdom signed away in this male madness. Off course not everyone was successful and unrequited love found expressions in great literature and works of art.

I seriously rue for the loss of the earliest version of courtship. This chivalry thing is a bit too obtuse and time consuming for my liking. The feint followed by flanking attack is for others – I prefer a direct frontal assault, an invitation to dinner and breakfast kind. There is infinite variety to the basic theme of courting, each one more interesting than other. My last courtship needs to be recounted for its sheer audacity and chutzpah. .

We all were defence officers undergoing a course. Defence officers are a disciplined, hot blooded lot given to passions easily. And yes – some defence officers are women! A couple of weeks into the course and I asked her out to a movie – she accepted. At that stage and age, there are no feints . Her consent to the movie was an implicit consent and both of us knew it. The moot question was – how to break the ice? The thrill was two fold – as defence officers, we could get court martialled and as a married individual, we could get prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code. Funny how the sinful and the taboo is the most enjoyable…..Forbidden fruits are most delicious.

After the movie – dinner. As we sipped our Shiraz and nibbled on the hors d oeuvre, I made the move. Clutching my head, I exclaimed “Oh God – its happening again”.  She inquired what and walked right into the kill zone. Innocently explained that I had a medical condition which needs immediate oral ingestion of complex proteins. “The last time I was afflicted I had to spend 3 days in bed at a friend’s place” I added.   “ I am sure there must be some medicine you can take?” she inquired. I informed her that this protein was not available off the shelf since it was more organic in nature. “So how do get this protein?” she sounded bewildered. “It’s of human origin” I exclaimed triumphantly.

I could not have the luxury of being bedridden for 3 days. Next day I had to get up early to sneak out of her room and be in time for the morning case study.

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.

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Reminiscences
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My cheeks caressed by a winter filtered sunbeam,
Half asleep, of her I always have a pleasant dream.
About her presence, her smell and a splendid time,
Eating pani puri flavoured with tamarind and lime.
Sparkling eyes, clear complexion, throaty laughter,
And thick black tousled  hair in the morning after.
O Time! Take us back to those happy, carefree days,
For after tasting Bliss, I don’t want to change my ways.

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.

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My Cat
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Right from childhood, I have been a connoisseur of cats – both the two legged and four legged variety. Forty years down the line including twenty years of marriage, my fascination still persists albeit only for the four legged variety.

We have one in the house – a spoilt tomcat whose only interest in life is sleeping, eating and chasing insects. And yes – he allows you to scratch his ears when he wants them scratched or when he feels you have been good enough to deserve the privilege.

Last night, we discovered that a rat has chosen our house as his abode. Obviously the rat found it to his liking since he was merrily prancing around. Spunky – our cat- sniffed the rat’s trail curiously, raised an eye st us reprimanding us for keeping a sloppy house and promptly went back to sleep. Obviously, chasing rats is not one of his passions in life. He is a cuddly furry cat who relishes his Whiskas and sleep.

And I  love him insanely and unconditionally. He jumps on me when I am fast asleep, he breaks crystal, he spoils the leather sofa, he sits in front of the screen when i am typing the most important email – I don’t grudge him anything. He has my permission to do anything if it pleases him and makes him happy.

After his reprimand regarding the rat in my house, I started thinking as to why I love him so much. For all practical purposes, he serves no specific purpose in my life. I definitely don’t love my wife unconditionally or insanely, even the love for my kids is bound by certain expectation and desire for keeping my genes immortal. Honestly speaking, I am incapable of loving any human being unconditionally. But this brat cat can do whatever he wants and I will still love him. Why?

The surprising answer is that I have no expectation from my relationship with the cat. I love him for what he is and nothing more. There are no ego issues, no element of control involved in our relationship. His reprimanding eyes do not strike at the core of my existence nor does my shooing him away makes him feel unwanted. Do I do him a favour by feeding and sheltering him? I never think of it that way and in any case, he provides me immense joy by his very existence, by his being around me. It is not a dominate-subjugate relationship, its and independent, free and co existing relationship.

My lament is – why can’t I have a relationship like that with another human being?

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.

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CHAPTER IV – GENESIS
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“ Hello Nadeem, I have really missed you”. Her greetings took me back to the day I had first set my eyes on her. It was our first day in a well known management institute in western India. The sitting plan was put up outside for the red bricked, high ceiling semi circular lecture hall. The student officers chatted excitedly amongst themselves as they waited for the first Linear Programming lecture to start.

She wore a pink salwar kameez and an attitude, long legs balanced on high heels, no make up, shoulder length jet black hair, honey colour complexion, intoxicating brown eyes, about 30 years. “Hello Sir, how are you?’ she asked as she slid next to me. I had to fight the enticing perfume and presence to concentrate on the lecture.

A few lectures past, I realized two things – she was a tad deficient in her upper storey but made up for it with loads of attitude and chutzpah. I was more than happy to help her with the occasional answers in return for a company and a dimpled smile. Men will always be boys and 500km away from home, staying in a hostel; men will be boys with loads of testosterone!

The moot question hammering my intellect was – can a person have more than one soul mate? Are human instincts and happiness subservient to man made rules, to be sacrificed on the altar of “acceptable behaviour”? Do we come across friends, confidants, loved ones and enemies from our previous births in our present lives? How else can one explain instant like or hate when we run across certain persons? Soulmates are fellow travelers from previous lives or maybe part of our soul which has transmigrated to different physical forms, now trying to get together again……

As students we, armed forces officers, were acutely conscious of the fact that we were the chosen ones to study in the hallowed precincts of the institution. The red stoned building with its sprawling lawns had an old world charm; there was feeling of freedom and expectation in the air. The faculty and alumni of the institution boasted of names from the who-is-who of the academic and management world. Two weeks into the course, we had our first get together with the faculty in the local army mess.

A typical army party on the lawns besides swimming pool, local DJ playing popular numbers. She wore a light blue crepe sari and was letting her hair loose on the dance floor – a figurine full of mischief, masti and oomph. The full moon cast its luminescence on her; the songs talked of her beauty, the music made her come alive.

On the way back to the hostel, I composed my first ode to her and like a love smitten juvenile, emailed the poem to her on the intranet. I didn’t give a damn about rules anymore. I was in love

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.


CHAPTER III – REPRISE
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I peer through the gathering haze into my laptop to read the FB message ‘Hi Nadeem,  Howz life treating you’; darkness slowly engulfs me. I hear a door open followed by a high pitched scream but on the threshold of new world, I may have well been mistaken. And I don’t care.

Heaven (or Hell?) has a nice antiseptic smell to it. I slowly start becoming aware of the environment – the smell and the sounds. My eyes open to revelation that after life is full of fancy gadgets and tubes protruding from my body. I can make out the beeping of technology which has obviously pervaded the after life too. As my eyes become more focused, I can discern my wife sitting at the bedside. Has she followed me here? I force myself to look around, to think rationally. I discover that I am in ICU, very much alive. The scream I had heard was succour in form of my wife walking into the bathroom.  Unfulfilled in love, unsuccessful in death – I feel waves of nausea and disgust. The drugs are welcome as they push me back into the void.

The next time I surface, I am better prepared to face the reality. And so is my family! I see my son and daughter and wife around – looking expectantly at me, smiling, trying to reach out. My mind is blank. The outflow of blood into the bathtub seems to have obliterated all the memories and desires. I feel relief at having a family, at having someone by my bedside as I re surface into mortal life.

Over the next two weeks, I rest, recuperate and rediscover the joys of being a mortal. The family keeps me company, keeps me going on. I rationalize – Powai is near and real, Gravesend by Tilbury and far. Who is more important – the one who made you feel alive or the one who kept you alive? Confusion. What are my priorities? What are my responsibilities? Unrequited love is romantic but is story book romance real life? Can life really be lived in the pages of a romantic novel? My brains struggle with the questions and slowly start taking control of my heart – for good or bad.

The day of my discharge – wife is running around to get the papers cleared. I have conditioned myself to look forward to going home and spending time with the kids. Memories have been entrapped in some dark, dingy corner of my mind. I am undead. There is this tap tap of someone walking in the hospital corridor. The tall woman is wearing high heeled knee length brown Jimmy Choos, a dark green Dior skirt, soft beige blouse and a matching jacket. The hair is soft, silken, shoulder length wavy; the skin honey coloured and dewy fresh. The face is made up to accentuate the high cheekbones, the eye shadow and mascara highlight the smoky brown eyes. The smell of Elizabeth Arden awakens my senses as I realize that she has learnt my lessons on being a sophisticate quite well. She smiles and says in a husky voice “Hello Nadeem – I have really missed you”

Originally published at Nadeem Sani. Please leave any comments there.


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