Saturday, January 30, 2016


These days, ghosts and zombies are the most popular creatures around and they seem to be having a lot of fun at the expense of human beings in television and who knows may be in real life too (for all those believers out there). Piqued by this trend, one celebrity took it upon himself to turn the tables on zombies. That man is none other than Donald Trump, who is possibly one of the greatest (pun highly intended) Presidential candidates in the history of America. He devised a novel idea wherein a group of people will have to work together and in the process play some games with a tied up zombie. I wonder why he has the urge to deal with another zombie. I thought he was already having fun with Jeb Bush.

The creative team has designed a great concept to bring this idea to fruition. They did extensive research to come up with an exciting list of celebrities to join Mr.Trump in this endeavor. They have set up a huge room with several artifacts and props. This is the room where all the celebrities have been locked up for this fun act. On one corner of the room, a blood thirsty zombie is chained to the wall. Now all these distinct personalities have to find a way to coexist and work together and escape from the room. Every 10 minutes, the chain will be loosened a little and the zombie will be one step closer to its prey. The group has 60 minutes before they are toast. They must solve a series of puzzles and find clues around the room that will ultimately lead them to the key to exit the room.

Now without further ado, let me reveal to you that list of crack pots who are locked together in that room. Of course there is the incomparable Mr.Trump. He is joined by his Presidential rival Hillary Clinton, Korean numero uno Kim Jong-un, Mr. James Bond, “Mocking Jay” Jennifer Lawrence and the one and only Thalaivar Rajinikanth.

Let us get right into the action where the participants are engaged in a heated debate as to what the plan of action should be. Well, except for Rajinikanth who is sitting quietly in a corner and enjoying a cigar. Kim Jon-Un tries to approach him to make an alliance.

KJU: Hello sir, I am not sure who you are but you seem very familiar. I will have a tough time understanding these idiots. I think we should team up. Do you know English?

Rajni: Kanna… I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English!

Clinton: Who is this guy?

Trump: Is he Mexican?

KJU: Don’t know. But he is very famous in Japan.

Bond: Are you guys kidding me? He is Rajini freaking Kanth. He can do things even I can’t do.

Bond regrets making the statement instantly as the ladies in the room immediately turn their attention to Rajini who blushes in his trademark style. But Jennifer realizes that they have a job to do, so she tries to bring the discussion back on track.

Jen: Well guys, I have quite a bit of experience in games like this. So here is my 2 cents. We should work as a team and never turn on each other. That is exactly what the zombie wants. We should be very quick and resourceful as we don’t have much time. We have already wasted quite a bit trying to know each other.

They hear the first gong. The zombie’s first chain is released. It starts to stir.

Trump: Well, look here lady, whoever you are. I think you didn’t get the memo. I am the one who always runs the show. And it is a real shame that you only have 2 cents to offer. I, on the other hand, have billions of dollars to waste.

Clinton: You are already doing that by running for President.

Trump: You will have to eat your words very soon. The first thing I will do after I become President is deport this Zombie.

Rajini: You don’t have to do that. If you go and talk to that zombie for 10 minutes, I am sure it will leave the country.

Everybody lets out a chuckle as they wait for Rajini to say something else but he goes back to his cigar.

Clinton: I certainly don’t agree with this. We must find a way to give this zombie a legal path to citizenship.

Bond: You are “Hillary”ous.

Donald Trump: Come on, She is ugly!

Hillary rushes to slap Trump but is pacified by Jennifer.

Another gong sounds and the zombie’s chain is loosened a little more. It starts to move forward.

Trump looks to Kim Jon-Un to get some support for his deportation proposal.

KJU: Between you becoming President and this zombie eating my brains, I would certainly prefer the latter. At least I get the satisfaction of seeing the zombie feasting on all of you idiots, especially you.

Bond: Guys, we are losing focus. So,Katiniss Everdeen… what do you think we should all do?

Trump: She is ugly.

Bond: Are you blind?

Clinton: He is Trump.

Jennifer gives him the finger.

Clinton: We need to come up with a detailed plan to neutralize this zombie. Let us discuss some ideas.

Bond: Well, there is no time for that. The zombie already has a detailed plan of eating your brains and burping your eye balls out in the next hour.

They hear the third gong go. The zombie claws its way a little further.

Jen: Enough of talk, guys. Let us look around the room. We should see our first clue somewhere.

KJU: Got it, got it. I found a note on the trash can at the corner.

He hands it over to Jennifer who reads it out loud. “You can find your next clue perched on an item whose name sounds like the capital of Libya.”   

Jen: Does anyone know the capital of Libya? Make it quick guys.

Trump: Is it in Mexico?

Clinton: Oh God…. What is with you and Mexico! I think it is Benghazi.

Jen: We are looking for the capital, not the only city you know. How about you James? You must have had some adventure in Libya.

Bond: We are doing our next film there. But I haven’t read the script yet. God damn it!

KJU: Come on Trump and Hillary. One of you should know the answer. Didn’t you guys bomb that place?

Trump: No, but I intend to. After I am done with Pyongyang!

Jen: You are all good for nothing. Let us apply reverse psychology here. What all do we have in the room? A couch, two chairs, a telephone, a radio, a TV, a safe, a tripod stand and a camera! I got it. It is Tripoli.

The fourth gong echoes across the room. The zombie has a smile on its face now.

Bond rushes to the tripod stand and presses on the camera perched on top of it. It opens up and there is a small piece of paper inside it.

Bond: Well done Jen. But we are running out of time. We must act fast. Now let us see what our next clue is.  “Solve the cross-word puzzle in the newspaper. 14 across is your next clue.”

Jen: Oh God. We are doomed. You guys can’t even solve one clue. How can I expect you to solve an entire cross-word puzzle?

Rajini: Ha ha… chellam... Why fear when Rajini is here! this is jujubi for me. Here... take it!

Everyone looks at him shell shocked as a mesmerized Jen takes the newspaper from Rajini who lights up another cigar.

Jen: You are a genius. Okay… what is the clue in 14 across! It says “NEWS”.

Bond: Well, it has to be related to either the radio or the TV.

KJU rushes to switch on the radio. They hear nothing but the fifth gong. The zombie is halfway across the room now and looks to have picked a favorite. Hillary switches on the television.

They see a documentary about the World War II playing on TV.

Clinton: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

KJU: Can we watch it? I don’t really know much about World War II.

Trump: Sure. You can see what your fate will be if you ever go to war against us.

KJU: I can nuke your ass off any time.

Bond: Shut up you clowns. Let us think what does this mean? The clue must be in the video.

Jen: Look at this. I found this note under the TV stand. It says: “This is your last clue. What is playing on the TV will lead you to the key that will unlock the front door of this room. Good luck to you and bon appetit to the zombie.”

Trump: Did you look under the TV thoroughly? May be the key is there as well!

Clinton: Why don’t you check your pocket? Even a rabbit will have more IQ than you.

KJU: Let us think where can we find a key? Must be somewhere obvious. Aha… Got it! It should be inside that safe.

Bond: Brilliant. Now all we need is the combination. And it is somehow connected to World War II.

Jen: It could be the year the war started.

Clinton: Or the year it ended!

KJU: Good job. Does anyone know these dates?

Clinton: I know it started in 1939. I think it lasted for 4 or 5 years.

Bond: Yes, it ended in 1945.I remember that from the script. Let us go and try both. One should work.

Jen: Yes, and let us get the hell out of here.

At that very moment, they hear the final gong. The zombie is fully free and is standing near the safe with a wide grin on its face and a twinkle in its eyes.

Jen: Oh God. We are doomed. Bond, do something. You always find a way out of these impossible situations. If you get me out of this, maybe we can do dinner tonight.

Bond: I wish. But do you really believe all that you see in my movies?

There is complete panic in the room as the zombie is inches away from its favorite prey and no prizes for guessing that: Mr. Trump. I think it likes his hair.

Suddenly they hear a loud thud and the door is broken into half. Rick and Daryl from “The Walking dead” enter the room. Daryl puts an arrow through the zombie’s skull while Rick blows its brain with a bullet. They shake hands with Rajinikanth.

Rajini: Kanna, I could have finished this game in 5 minutes. But I wanted to have some fun and see what you guys do. But I was pretty sure you will mess it up. So I had my Plan B. Anyways, I had a great time. And if you want to have some more fun, you can tie Mr.Trump up and play this game once again. Merry Christmas folks!”

Rajini walks out with Rick and Daryl as the others look at each other in bewilderment.


Friday, January 22, 2016


With the new ODD-EVEN rule now implemented in Delhi, people have been panicking and scrambling to find ways to continue driving freely everywhere which even includes a whooping 0.1 km drive to their neighbors' houses. But our very own Smarty pants, Mr. Cheeky Chuck has cracked the Kejriwal code and come up with an idea of driving to the office everyday without being fined and is all set to make his modest contribution towards keeping Delhi's pollution levels intact.

                                                                                                                                               A CARTOON BY RAJ.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


He had been standing there staring at that painting for more than half an hour now. There was something in it that kindled his intrigue. He couldn’t take his eyes off it. No! He couldn’t take his mind off it. It consumed him. The strokes weren’t firm at places highlighting the imperfections; not the painting’s but of the man in it. That made the painting vulnerable yet absolute. The way the man was looking at a stray dog in the painting seemed to convey so many thoughts and emotions that he lost his way inside. Those eyes conveyed so much yet revealed so little! At that moment, his thoughts raced back to a painting that turned his life upside down. A painting that broke him! No! A painting that liberated him!

She had never seen anybody so transfixed in front of a painting. She was happy at the thought that someone was so much into her painting but at the same time perplexed and anxious as to what was going through his mind. All day she had felt disappointed that her best work had gone largely unappreciated, even worse unnoticed, and then here was a man who seemed to be having a long conversation with it. Good or bad… she wanted to be a part of it. “Hello Sir… You seem to be fascinated by this painting. My name is Anna. I drew it and it is one of my personal favorites. I would be glad to help you with any questions you may have about this painting.”

He looked at her befuddled. “There are really no questions to ask.”

His voice was still and she could not sense any emotional undercurrent.  “Oh... very well. So are you interested in purchasing it?”

“I am not that kind.” His answer took her by surprise and she found his tone exceedingly irritating.

“What kind are you? The one who neither has admiration or appreciation for a good painting nor respect for an artist?”

He smiled at her. “Well… if that was the case, I would have bought your painting already!”

His reply stung like truth. He was like the inner voice she had always had. How can you fix a price tag on something that is invaluable? How can you sell something that cannot and should not be sold?

“He is quite a paradox, isn’t he? And one hell of a puzzle! So dubiously deceptive yet subtly provocative!” Her thoughts were broken by his shrill voice again that echoed against the walls.

“How is that so? Do tell.” She was intrigued by his intellect and wanted to just listen. Could he see more in the painting than she had when she brought it to life? She could not digest the idea that this man could probably know and feel the picture more than her. Doesn’t that make the painting his? She was lost in a sea of thought when she heard his shrill voice echo again. This time through her mind and slowly into her heart!

“The man’s eyes are incisive but tender. His heart holds a great grief but his mind rises above it. He is a burdened man who has seen lot of pain and endured a deep loss but he knows his misery is far from over. His death would neither be quick nor easy. His body can withstand more agony but his soul has given up. He is a wise man yet has had his share of foolish acts. He is a good man now but has not been one always. His conscience writhes in remorse for a dark act that he can neither forget nor live with. But still in one dark corner deep inside, he relishes it albeit for a short while until guilt takes over and he despises himself again. He looks at the world with abandon. Age and the wisdom that comes along with it have sharpened his intellect and softened his soul. His hatred is gone and he loathes no one no more. Now he has only sympathy as he sits there watching people go past him looking so happy yet feeling so miserable inside. He smiles at himself, scorns his past, ponders his future and awaits his end. And all these moods have blended in so perfectly in this master piece of yours.” He spoke with so much happiness and passion that only a true artist could feel when he recognizes another’s work of genius.

She listened in rapturous awe to this stranger paint a picture so vivid yet so deep and mystifying about this painting of hers. She couldn’t believe that someone could understand and appreciate her painting as much or even better than her. Who is this man?
He went on not once taking his eye off the painting. “How fertile can one’s imagination be? To create a face with so much emotion! Or, perhaps, this is not a figment of your imagination but a real person… someone whom you have seen and observed several times… a mysterious stranger who kindled your curiosity so much that you couldn’t stop thinking what was beneath those deceptive eyes and opaque face… Is he happy? Is he sad? Is he a beggar who just sits on the street in hope of alms for his next meal or is he a philosopher who just loves watching people?  Well... you just can’t know. So you capture him with your brush and present that intrigue in his eyes to the world.”

A stunned silence ensued. After making her fly among the clouds with his profuse flattery he had brought her crashing to the ground by suggesting that it had nothing to do with her imagination. That made her furious. “So how do you think the conception of this painting originally happened? A fiction of my imagination or a blatant replica of an unsuspecting stranger’s visage?”

He could sense the condescension in her tone. “I would say that you have seen this man. And he has disturbed you deeply!”

“How could you possibly say that? How would you know?” She was astonished by his confidence.

He stroked his beard gingerly. “The dog! There is something different about its expression. You have added emotion to its eyes. As if it is communicating with the man. Its facial strokes are much more defined and firm as opposed to the fragile strokes that have defined the man’s features. That shows disconnect between the real and the virtual!”

She sat down dejected. But then how could she have known that what she was about to hear next would forever change her life.

The man went on with his mesmerizing voice. “But a beautiful disconnect. Which is what makes this painting so unique! It transcends boundaries and renders a meaning so surreal that makes the painting a well that will never dry up. You can infer infinite meaning from the man’s eyes and every one will see it differently every time she looks at it. Look here. I am very sorry if I managed to offend you. I didn’t mean to belittle your work by any means. The fact that you painted a man you had observed doesn’t in anyway reduce the greatness of your work. In fact it makes it even more magnificent. You can imagine just about anything in your canvas of dreams. But to paint something that is so real is a gift. And trust me… the most important thing is not for others to realize the greatness of your work. It’s you who should realize that. Nothing else matters. Let me tell you a story. My story!

My father was a sculptor. A masterful craftsman! Each and every one of his creations adorn some of the the best temples in and around here. He was a very pious and devout man. So was my mother. I grew up amidst sculptures and in temples. There was God all around me. But was he really? I couldn’t tell. My father believed so. My mother told me so. There was a huge temple in front of our house. Almost all its sculptures were my father’s handiwork. I used to sit hours in front of a golden sculpture which everyone worshipped with hands folded. I recited slokas with my eyes fixated on this golden sculpture which returned my curious glances with a never changing cold stare. There was something about that gaze that I could not understand. I was not able to understand or appreciate God in the same way everyone else around me did so easily and so faithfully. I felt something was wrong with me.

I did many things during my childhood. Things that I was told to! But only one thing satiated my senses. Drawing anything that came in front of my eyes or to my mind! I grew up to be a painter. My father was a proud man. He said art was in our blood and it was God’s gift. I immersed my days and nights into drawing my mind and my thoughts. I painted them with my heart. Feelings transformed into colors. Every artist waits for his best work to take fruition. I was no exception. Every time I took the brush, a fire raged in my heart to outbest my previous work. Everybody seeks perfection. Nobody attains it. But I was tireless in my quest. I created some of my life’s best works and I had almost transcended into a different world. A world of my dreams brought to life on the canvas.
My father brought me back to reality. He came to me with a very unique request. He wanted me to paint that golden sculpture. He felt it was his master piece and wanted me to recreate it. He had never asked me anything before and I could see how much this meant to him. Unfortunately the sculpture didn’t mean anything to me. It haunted me and I had always wanted to run away from it as far as I could. But my father meant the world to me. I couldn’t say no to him.

I halfheartedly took it up. It was childhood all over again. I would sit for hours staring at that sculpture trying to feel it. You have to understand something completely before you can paint it on canvass. But those eyes… that silent yet deep gaze… they consumed me. That is the one thing I was never able to understand. I painted for a year. Yes. One full year! When I finally looked at my painting… I saw the sculpture. But there was something different. The cold stare was replaced by a gentle look. A vulnerable, earthly, human look! It was the same God… but the difference was that he was talking to me.  I understood the meaning of God for the first time: Not in the way I was told… not in the way I had read… but in the way I had always wanted to… in the way I had always felt. Finally I had a faith that was my own!  I locked myself up in my room and stared at this painting for hours together. My eyes finally met with God’s and they talked… for hours… for days!    

This painting… which I took up so reluctantly… which I had no intention of completing… which I never understood while I was drawing it… it changed my life. It was my masterpiece. It was my revelation. It was my salvation. I was so content… so blissful… so complete… I realized I could never paint anything better. My brush’s journey was fulfilled and so was my tryst with it. I never painted again.

It doesn’t matter how your painting comes to life. What it means to you is more important to what it means to the world. Truth is not absolute. It never is. It is personal. It may mean the world to me but yet nothing to you. That painting liberated me. This painting defines you. Let it guide you!”

He reached for his pocket and took out a brush. It was worn out and had dried paint in its bristles. He gave it to her and smiled. No words were spoken. She knew what it meant. He walked away a happy man. She walked away a proud woman with a renewed purpose!

                                                                                                              - A SHORT STORY BY RAJ
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