Smiley Ke Peeche Kya Hai?



I felt my breath knocked out of me. I gasped for some form of sensation as my heart began pumping at a thousand beats a minute. A little voice inside me asked me “Dude, why the panic attack?”. “She just walked in, that’s why you fool!” I snapped back as I saw her walking towards my table. Medium heighted, lithe figured and absolutely gorgeous, she always caused this reaction in me. I tried looking away, but I couldn’t as my eyes met her soft blue ones. Damn, she was beautiful. I somehow gathered myself, smiled weakly and tapped at my watch, not that I minded waiting though.

“Yes Shivam, sorry na the traffic was a bit too much!” she said, in her sweet little voice, both soothing and for the first time ever, hurting as well. She sat down across the table and said “plus this heat is killing me man! It’s so annoying”. I couldn’t help but laugh precariously as she shot a smothering look at me, but I couldn’t help but inspire the reaction as her child like voice matched the predicament I was in. It had been two weeks since I asked her out and she had shot me down. The worst part was that it was not a simple no, but a rather confusing message which tore at my inner fibres one by one. My eyes simmered as I got drawn into that memory.

Two weeks earlier

I don’t know what it is that I feel about you.Call it love, call it infatuation but your face always makes my heart skip a beat 
Shivani, will you be my girlfriend?
I could feel my heart pounding as I pressed “Send”. I quickly threw my phone on his bed and recoiled. What the hell just happened? I knew I would have to admit it to her someday, but in my mind it always was when I was down on one knee with a rose in my hand while she blushed a rosy red. “Balls to that!” I thought as he dismissed my thoughts, focussing on the more pressing issue at hand. Why did I have to screw things up?
It still was a wonder to me, as the gradual slope of my feelings had never let me see the mess I was creating. It started a year ago, when I was fighting a battle against his parents, peers and society. Trapped in an education stream which just trained me to be an engineer and be a shadow of a man, I wanted to be free and follow my heart. Having no one to turn to, I turned to the first person I found, Shivani. For almost no reason, by each passing day, my heart yearned to talk to her, bit by bit, turning into the feeling I felt today. Ironically, the very heart for whom I fought, betrayed me and led me down the path up to this moment, where my insides felt like molten lead, awaiting the gentle sound of an incoming message.
My phone beeped softly and I panicked.  As my hand reflexively reached for my Blackberry, I paused. My chest thumped as my heart went into overdrive. What if she said no? What if she said yes? Curiosity overpowered my fear as I opened the message and read it
I don’t know .I’m sorry but I just don’t feel the same way. I love you Shivam, you should know that. I don’t show it at all. You’re a good friend but… L
I placed my phone down. My hands trembled as I did this. I couldn’t think. Not even a reaction. I simply sat and stared.
Present day

“Shivam?” she waved her hands in front of me to bring me out of my thoughts as I blushed and mumbled an apology. In retrospective, whenever I think about that moment, oddly enough I am reminded of the idiosyncrasy between movies and real life. In a movie,a heartbreak generally makes a hero lose control of himself, or he just lies in bed the whole day or anything that may just seem him to be a dead man breathing oxygen. Au contraire, in my case, all I felt was chilly wind blowing that night. All I heard was the chirping of the crickets at night and all I saw, was the screen of my phone, lying on my bed. No song serenaded my sorrow nor did a bunch of violinists console me. All I could do, and all I actually did was sleep. Although sleep, being the nefarious bitch she is, evaded me as I wondered, like all rejects in life do, about my fallacies.
“Gupta, you zone out once more and I’ll really slap you!” Shivani shrieked. “Let’s cut the chase and talk about what we or rather I wanted to, shall we?” I snapped back, albeit for no reason. We had agreed to meet only for a sole purpose. To sort out our friendship. Yes, I hated being rejected by her. I hated not being her boyfriend. I hated being just another friend. But damn, I missed her as a friend as well. I had ruined a really special bond and we both had realised we had to fix it. You always hear the proverbial “Never be friends with your ex” or “It’s tough to be friends with your ex”. But no one had ever invented a rule for the ask-her-out-and-get-rejected friend. All we had was the good ol’ “Don’t fall for your best friend’s ex” and being the idiot I was, I had broken this rule as well

13 days ago

I sat in the shower, the water running down my hair and into my eyes, blurring my already blurred vision but I was lost in my own thoughts. Last night, was my first heartbreak. These were moments I had heard of, but never experienced. I started thinking harder. A tiny voice inside him spoke “ You know she still has feelings for Aaryan. Even if she might have gotten close to you post their break up, the point remains that you are his best friend and well, you can’t expect to just have no emotions after a 4 year long relationship.” Simultaneously, another thought scratched my neurons. Aaryan was dating Divita. Both Divita and Aaryan knew about his feelings and surprisingly Aaryan had just smiled and said “Go ahead bro.” Divita, on the other hand wasn’t sure. Although she didn’t say it, Divita felt a bit uncomfortable with the whole group dynamic. Shivam loved her for the amazing person she was but ever since she started dating Aaryan, Shivani hated her. The dipping temperature of the water brought me back to my senses as I quickly walked out of the shower after wiping off the water, and dubiously, the weird situation I was in.
I dressed and checked my phone, surprised to find a BBM from Divita already awaiting my attention. I thought back to the time I had bonded with her. Divita was a fun girl and a really amazing friend. I don’t know why and how and where, but somehow, we clicked. There’s this beautiful thing that I read somewhere about deep friendships. “Friendships don’t have a reason, nor do they have a cause or a result. They just happen and exist. Immaterialist. Undemanding. Loving and most importantly, forever.”  Divita was special. She knew it and so did we. The problem was entanglement. To tell you simply, Divita was dating my best friend, to whom I had introduced her. Shivani was great friends with her until Divita started dating Aaryan. This always made me feel odd. I have no other word for it. What was I doing in the middle of this? The story always was and always shall be of a trio. Two girls, one guy. That’s how it has always been. That’s how it always be.One on of my friends,half drunk on vodka once told me, “Bro!Have you ever heard of a love square?No na? It’s always a love triangle or a couple,never four.”Anyway,ignoring the dubious yet well thought over theory my mind invented, I decided I would not open Divita’s message.I simply was not ready for venting my heart out.Plus I knew that if I talk to her or Aryaan or Sneha or Sameer or any other close friend,I would have a breakdown.I forced my thumb to scroll past Divita and opened the “Recent Updates” tab.It informed me that Preeti had a new dog whom she could eat up(ironically followed by a ❤ smiley) and Rameez was screwed for his Chemistry exam which he announced on Twitter,complete with a #facepalm .But it was the third notification my eyes zeroed on. "Shivani Rai changed her display picture".It was nothing elaborate, a nice little picture from college.But she changed her display picture once,and my heart broke a thousand times over.

Present Day

I stared into her eyes as these memories rushed past me in a whirl. She was looking as pretty as always and yet oddly,the brain rush this moment inspired was not quite what it always was.”Look Shivam, I’ll cut straight to the chase.I,ummmm,I don’t want to hurt you but the truth is that I don’t know what I feel.I simply don’t feel anything.I don’t want to be in this state,but somehow I am. It’s awful that I’m doing this to you and I’m sorry for it but I…” She stopped mid-sentence as she saw me stare into her deep eyes.She let me.I sighed and exhaled.I knew that this day would be tough.Knew it every moment since these 13 days.

13 days ago

The urge to not crave in lasted exactly 2 hours,42 minutes and 13 seconds as I warily gave up and opened Divita’s message. “Morning Lawyer ji :D” it read,to my dual emotions of relief and tiny pangs of sadness.I ended up doing what I feared I’ would do.Pouring my heart out. The end of the conversation though,was harrowing and made me thank my stars for having such amazing friends who could talk sense into me.Just before I was about to have lunch, Aaryan messaged me, “Theek hai yaar, you’ll get better stuff man!” Now here’s the thing among guys. We generally tend to avoid a strong display of emotion even if you’re close as hell. It’s not as rigid as a taboo but not as much as a convention to be broken. The best way to put it is that we don’t engage in such talks ever, and that’s why, a guy ALWAYS needs a girl best friend. Shivani had played that role ever since what I now refer to as “The Plunge”. Namita, my friend from childhood, too was one. Ruchi too was always there to hear me out since I bonded with her in eighth grade. However, Divita too had slowly become one of my closest confidant and I had reached a stage where everything from the suit I would wear to the next day’s conference to the proof reading of my next article, everything had to go throw her filter as well. Anyway, I smiled as I read the message, albeit I’ll admit, not a happy one, but rather, the sad one. The one which makes you wonder why would God ever grant a human being the ability to express such great sorrow and sadness via an instrument to rejoice in happiness. Yes, that one.
Almost simultaneously, Divita sent me this message – “You asked me how to confirm if it’s love? It’s simple. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and exhale, while opening your eyes. Now read this poem

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!”

If she is the one you imagined when you read after each line, you’re truly in love my friend!”

Present day

With Divita’s words in mind, I began speaking. The words, however, though flowing through my mouth, although in no way false, lacked a sincerity. Grudgingly I let myself go. “Shivani, you have no idea how tough or how embarrassing or how stupid or how pathetic my situation is. I’m an average guy who just while discovering his life falls in love with his best friend’s ex girlfriend of four years who still has feelings for him. You have absolutely no clue about my place and you never will be able to even estimate the pain that I felt. I really don’t know if I can pull off being just friends because I have some feelings for you which just don’t go away. You may not date me; you may not talk to me but at the end of the day the truth of the matter remains that my qutiuya dil makes me love you more, and more and more. Every second, every minute, every hour and every day of my life.” I do not remember what I said after this rant. However this I remember vividly. I mentally could see Shivani descending a staircase as a beam of moonlight lit across her face and reddened the red blush of her soft cheek. She truly Walked in Beauty in my thoughts. I remember thinking how there might have been a day when I would have been the one at the receiving end of her adoration and her eyes would search the room to find mine, only to be delightfully lit up on meeting mine. I imagined that us dancing together, to some slow smooth waltz, her hand on my shoulder and my hand around her waist. We would do nothing but look into each other’s eyes as we glide across the dance floor. The imaginary her smiled at imaginary me’s cheesy dream and her smile widened when she realised how it was a scenario the Bollywood addict in me loved. Slamming shut these thoughts with great difficulty, I got up from my chair and noticed her face filled with genuine confusion and perhaps the light was playing a trick on my eyes, a tiny sliver of sadness. I tried my level best to hide the tear that slid out of my eye and walked out. Out of the booth, the restaurant, our friendship and regretfully, her life.

Two years later

I sat by the ledge of the promenade on Marine Drive, few of the only places on Earth where I truly feel solitude in happiness. I stared deep into the horizon as I saw the sunset. The orange-yellowish hue of the sun descended into the ocean, like a deep ball of fire being reunited with its maker, only to be swallowed up.  The sun would rise again tomorrow and I was sure, that the innocent little moon would be careless enough to fall in love with the ocean, only to be crushed with rejection when morning would arrive. Somehow, I felt that I had a soft corner for the moon. Always existed, yet I could never put a finger on it. I pulled out my iPod and plugged in my earphones as a track came on
“Tujhe Bhula Diya, oho
Tujhe Bhula Diya, oho
Phir kyun teri yaadon ne,
Mujhe rula diya,oho
Mujhe rula diyaa…”
I guess you never ever get over anyone you ever had strong feelings for.  You may forget almost virtually everything about your school life, but you do remember your first crush, the one whom you secretly glanced at and worked up your chemistry with when the chemistry teacher would look away. You may forget the endless conversations you have over BBM or Whatsapp, but you will always remember that moment when you meet and talk and declare your feelings for the other. The rains slowly started to pour, and despite all my attempts to be the hip-Bollywood guy, I simply could not bear to let myself get wet and soaked. I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt as a tear rolled down my cheek, lost among the thousands of other droplets of the rain. It never was easy to forget someone you love and it gets harder when you’re served with those unwanted reminders. I look back now and think about those long chats I always had with her, ending each one of them with a hug smiley or a kiss smiley. But, Smiley ke peeche kya hai , that was neither known to me or her. I have accepted the fact that love is not always a battle you win, or a battle you lose. With a sad smile dancing on my face, I confidently say that I have moved past her. But I would be a liar to deny, if on a cold, winter night, when I sit by the window and stare into the sky, my heart sometimes lets out an involuntary plea of love, hoping and wishing that somehow, she would be there, just there, beside me. Forever and ever.

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Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan- A Book Review

This post was originally written by me for a group blog I co-own named The Jalebi Chronicles.Check it out, it has some really good stuff.


Title:-  Those Pricey Thakur Girls
Author:- Anuja Chauhan
Length:- 390 pages
Price:-  Rs.350 MRP( Rs.184 on Flipkart)
Genre:- Rom-com



There are some books which are excellent reads, and there are some books which are simply brilliant in their plot. Then, there are some, which you just love. Those Pricey Thakur Girls is somehow an amalgam of all three. Anuja Chauhan is back, and she is back in her unique desi style which has enchanted bookworms all across the country.

This 390 paged novel is Anuja Chauhan’s third book (after two sizzling rom-coms namely The Zoya Factor and The Battle for Bittora).

I LIKEY
 
In a departure from her usual style of writing, the book is narrated from a third person POV rather than her usual first person narrative. But, she nails it. In this book, we step into the world of the Thakur family, residing at New Delhi’s posh area, Hailey road.  You’ll slowly fall in love with the characters as well as the book with little nuances such as Justice L.N Thakur’s penchant for alliteration and organisation or Chachiji’s tantrums and whacky jadootona nuskas. As usual Anuja Chauhan draws you into her own world which is extremely familiar and homely. You definitely shall find the characters similar to some people from your real life. I sure did!
 
I NO LIKEY
 
Pointing out the book’s low points (which are almost non-existent), we arrive at something really dicey. As I mentioned earlier, she uses a new style of narration which is a departure from the one her fans are accustomed to. Being one of them, I can safely say that it did not affect my reading experience much but it may be a deal breaker for others. Secondly, although Anuja wraps up the main plot brilliantly, she surprisingly left a sub-plot hanging this time. It would have been a huge shocker but to my great pleasure, the next page announced her next book, a sequel to this book itself. Yet, I would have preferred a finished story.
 
In Few Lines
 
On a whole, the book is something that I really enjoyed reading. Anuja Chauhan has clearly emerged as one of the leading authors from India in recent times and has done the impossible by creating an unique content style which resembles a mix of Salman Rushdie, Arvind Adiga and Chetan Bhagat. It’s simply the best of all worlds. As a parting note, to every person (read male) who thinks Anuja Chauhan’s work is something that people classify as “chick-flick”, man up, buy the book and give it a read. You’ll realise it on your own that stories like this aren’t just femme-friendly but are excellent novels which reach out and touch your heart.
Click here to buy on Amazon or Flipkart

Truly,Madly,Deeply by Faraaz Kazi -A Book Review

Truly,Madly,Deeply by Faraaz KaziTeenage romances are a very dicey topic in India. The parental pressure of upholding the supposed “family ki naak” and the combined guilt of parental as well as self-inflicted misery over petty issues makes them difficult to handle. But somehow, in an almost clichéd manner, love triumphs all as two people fall for each other. Mostly, they are silly infatuations or crushes which time erodes. But rarely do we come across a story where love blooms truly, madly and deeply.
 
TMD is Faraaz Kazi’s first novel and is 310 pages long. It deals with the story of Rahul, a quintessential high school boy, who is one of the best students at school and loved by all. He falls for Seema, his perfect match in all aspects albeit a year younger to him. The book deals with the young love of two kids as they pass through teenage. It highlights their troubles, their good times, their perils and their path.
 
In an extremely poetic manner, we see the entire story from the eyes of the super romantic Rahul who simply loves and loves more everyday. The high point of the book is ironically its fallacy as well. I’ll start with the pro. The book depicts teenagers in a near perfect way, covering abstract relationships like best friends, friends etc in a delicate and precise manner which is something beyond the scope of most adults.
 
On the other hand, the book, in an almost jovial manner, exaggerates the feelings of a teenager. Being one of them, I can safely vouch for the fact that unlike the protagonist, no teenaged guy can spout verses of poetry like a puppet for every situation while drawing deep metaphors from almost everything ranging from a hug to a fart.
Faraaz Kazi
Overall, the book is a good read and is a bit on the philosophical line which I found to be unnatural for a teen. Otherwise, it’s an easy to read, read on a cheesy little afternoon kind of book. So all you romantics, try this out, you’ll love it

 

Click here to buy from Amazon

The Homing Pigeons By Sid Bahri-A Book Review


The Homing Pigeons By Sid Bahri
Love has always been a quintessential theme in the world of fiction. By all means it is a direct inspiration from real life and somehow wins all hearts. It may be a simple straight forward story or a complicated over the top Bollywood style tale full of songs, perils, tragedy but finally a happy ending. THP is a book of the latter kind.
This 318 paged novel is Sid Bahri’s first novel. It’s a simple book about two people reeling from the broken institutions of marriage in India where everything, including your future partner’s religion, caste, background, state, family details etc matter. But ironically, love is often ignored by parents. Even worse, they somehow convince their off-springs to forgo love and embrace an ultra conservative social idea. This is where it gets murky.
In this book, we step into the world of Aditya and Radhika,who were “best friends and secretly in love” since high school. Something I really liked in this book was the unique plot. Most books follow usual patterns or clichéd stories which unless complemented with exquisite writing, leaves the reader desiring for more from the entire experience. The Homing Pigeons on the other hand, has a unique plot although set in a clichéd timeline i.e. the recession of 2008. Maybe the whole “in-love-since-high-school” is clichéd too, but it suits the plot here.
Moving on to the book’s Achilles’ heel, I found the book to be little too over-the-top as well dramatic in nature, bordering nearly on unrealistic. The way the characters separate, meet again and carry out the entire cycle again is something that I really didn’t buy into. Also, the story line is dragged down in parts by the sub-plots themselves.
Sid BahriAs a whole, this book is a lovely read for a new mature reader who is trying to get into reading and at the same time, is a nice little read for bookworms looking for something easy on their eyes over the weekend.
Like: Easy to read, Simple characters, Earthly, Fluffy
Dislike:  A wee bit unrealistic, Bollywood like over-the-top plot may be a turn down for most people
 
Click here to buy from Amazon or Flipkart

When The Signal Turns Red By Jayanand Ukey -A Book Review

Book Review

Drama is something that has become the oomph factor for the entertainment industry in India. Books, movies, TV shows, all of them have a surplus of drama which overflows like the butter on a Punjabi guy’s Aloo Parantha. But most books tend to over do it. At its heart, simplistic drama is simply cute to read and that’s what this book brings to you.

Book Review of When The Signal Turns RedThis 198 paged novel is Jayanand’s first novel. It’s a fluffy little book about a typical Indian love story. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, they want to get married. By a miracle, their parents agree but alas!cruel fate strikes and suddenly the marriage is off, and the boy has to woo back his girlfriend’s parents.
In this book, we step into the world of Girish and Prajakta, both software engineers set to be working in top IT firms immediately after graduation. Something I really liked in this book were the characters. Most books try to simply overdo the need for detail and end up creating mystic, well framed descriptions which ultimately leave the reader dissatisfied. WTSTR on the other hand, creates simplistic characters with basic personalities. This in turn leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination and lets him or her connect with the book in their own unique way. For example, we all have that one relative from the Military( ex or serving) who loves being punctual, inspires terror and loves to mull things over Whiskey. In this case, it is Prajakta’s dad.
Moving on to the book’s Achilles’ heel,  I found the book to be little to fantastical for my liking and defied the logic which I observe in real life. The nearly instant approval of all parties involved, a clichéd crisis which is something now considered as over-the-top and a Bollywood drama like end( not that I am complaining, I love Bollywood!) Nevertheless, as a reviewer I clearly need to point it out as some things simply don’t go down well different audiences.
As a complete work, this book is an easy to read, cute little romantic scene from the life of Girish and Prajakta. The book is earthy, charming and has the brilliance of a simple story teller. It doesn’t have metaphors and references that require you to read it with your iPad open on Wikipedia. It is a book for everyone and anyone, and simply fun.
Like: Easy to read, Simple characters,Earthly,Fluffy
Dislike:  A wee bit fantastical, Bollywood like over-the-top end
Click here to buy from Amazon or Flipkart

The Heartless Heart

He stared. He stared hard. Those mystic blue eyes shown through the photograph as if she actually wanted him to look at her. He sat by the window with an open mouth. Not by shock, but by being astounded. Tearing his eyes away from her angelic face, he looked out of the window, straight into the night. In his dreams, this moment would be complimented by some deeply romantic and slightly sensual music with lovey-dovey lyrics as he stared into the stars, tracing out her name with his fingers, in an outlandish attempt to reach something far away. But in the mediocre reality of today, all he heard when he stared into a black, starless sky was the barking of the stray hounds and the religious tune which was now every other car’s reverse warning tone. Still, one thing remained. His heart pounded just the way he imagined it would.
How had he reached this place? At 17 this poor chap was supposed to be ruing over how girls don’t dress provocatively enough and then after a sad nod, return to his textbook. Instead he was sitting by a window like a love struck idiot. He pondered deeply over his life and believe you me, with genuine concern. You see, Rahul had always been one of those “good, sorted” people. Academically sound with a flair for his talents, he was a friendly guy with a regular life. He had a level head, but a delicate heart was what formed his Achilles’ heel. Planning and scheduling was his forte, and somehow, he had forgotten to consider his heart in his life plan. Or maybe he had, like an over smart MBA graduate from a fancy college, allotted a future time for his romantic pursuits. But, since when has the human heart considered the brain’s advice? Everyone knows that the heart is heartless itself.
He shifted uncomfortably as he considered doing what anyone might have done- “asking her out”. He squirmed as different scenarios jogged his mind faster than the square root of energy divided by mass. The fear of rejection, ostracized reactions by parents, the inevitable break-up, the emotional impact, all of it struck him in one go. Just as he was about to cringe in prospective fear, a thought flashed through his mind. Sitting by the beach, watching the sunset with her, with her small delicate fingers in his long but delicate ones. The smile on their faces and her awe, love and a bit of annoyance struck laugh as he showed her the sunset twice just because of his textbook. Her eyes would light up when he spoke of…
“RAHUL! Dinner’s ready, put the plates on the table, Ridhima will serve the food and I’ll make the rotis!”
His mother’s voice broke his chain of thoughts. He smiled, although the fake one with a tinge of sadness as he acknowledged the odd thoughts he just experienced. He quickly exited from the “View Display Picture” menu of his Blackberry and started towards the dining table. As he headed out of the room, his eyes were reflected in the mirror. To a bystander, they were the eyes of a geek, a social nobody, a love struck idiot who had no chance with any girl, let alone the girl of his dreams. But all I saw was conflict, grief and joy. All I saw was a seventeen year old boy, in a state, he didn’t deserve to be.


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