Fairy

All I could see were his feathers and antlers, so why should I have felt any fear?

His eyes like colored marbles, smaller than my palm he spoke in a strange cackling. I could hear his flutter and I swore I heard the night speak in its cold breeze. The brushing of leaves that I had forgotten since I left the old farm, since the world left the old farm followed the fireflies that buzzed around us.

The land broke and bent, on it’s bones lay roads. A serpent crushing what once was. In these forest lost stories of man eaters, demons and spirits once made their home. The forest floor was harsh. The land around me was dry and quiet while men would thunder and glow across the forest borders.

This was not home, the straggler would not like my habits. I felt guilt, deep down I longed for my land of light and fire.He led me far, onto the icy roads and head beams. So came my peace. I should have known. Why would the faeries lay in wait for  man’s repentance?

Sights Around Mangalore

My neck is usually strained and screaming with pain by the time I reach Mangalore. I can only tolerate bumpy, stuffy bus rides for so long; I always keep my bus window wide open to get as much fresh air as I can.

After the semi-conscious excuse for sleep that only a sleeper bus can offer,along with the unending chatter of passenger who act like they’ve found their soulmates sitting next to them, I’ve half a mind to hop out of the window. You can always see men with legs and mouths tightly shut preparing to sprint at the next stop. Everyone gropes around still dazed while they try to find their things, stretch in cramped quarters and ask the conductor how far away their stops are at least 6 times. They always manage to forget and receive a earful from the conductor.

It is tradition to complain about the driving, roads, sleep and ghat section once we’re off. Soon everyone sporting righteous outrage at the crass, loud nature of some co-passenger. Awkward silence and righteous indignity set in as the relatives who are supposed to pick us up, like always, are late but insist they’ve been waiting for us at another stop for hours.

The streets are quite, deserted, cool. The air is thick, pleasant and smells lazy. Stray dogs eye us as they enjoy their rule over the quit tarmac, the buzzing orange streetlights  their collaborates. We pile into a car, while everyone asks each other how they’ve been. they point out how so and so has gotten taller, thinner. They whisper how so and so has gotten fatter. they all decide they must eat. We leave the car before it has moved an inch and head over to the nearest restaurant. The one’s where regular customers eat are always located in a hotel. There we eat Mangalore buns that are surprisingly filling. When your eating buns and waiting for hot tea/ hoicks in town that’s still asleep and grey, you know your in Mangalore and no where else.

People discuss how the roads where back when they were kids, how certain granduncles were caught by leopards while they stopped off to pee etc. I stick my head out of the window and look at all the trees that seem to rush past me. The cool, green, residential areas that are far away from the main road are always deserted when morning buses drop off passengers. People point to the new apartments and reminisce about the old, luxurious, spacey tiled houses that always seem to invite rain are all but gone. they point to the few survivors and tell each other stories of how they used to play by the compound walls.

The few quite minutes you have after you get home and the age determined ques to the bathroom is set up is a voyeurs wet dream. You can drag a chair out to the large open baloneys that Mangalore houses always have and watch sleepy life sneak out of the apartments and houses. Inevitably I’m told to get potato chips, milk, tukudies,flavored banana chips etc. The shopkeepers, the customers and pedestrians wear dreamy looks. You’d think they lived in a world where clocks didn’t exist.

Someone always insists on going to some temple, visiting some obscure uncle/aunt before they die, so we’re always out of the house. This will always be one of the greater mysteries of life to me. Manglore is the one place where wasting time at home is pleasant. If you disagree the sun and humidity will send you rushing back for cover indoors.My family however insists on packing themselves into a sweaty car and braving the heat. The humidity and sun torture you. I’m always drenched in sweat in Manglore.

The veg restaurants we visit, once someone man’s up and tell’s everyone else that we should probably take a break, always serve amazing sandwiches. I don’t know why but sandwiches always taste better in Mangalore. The petty shops around ever corner are the best places to eat however. They always have some specialty whose name I am too tired to remember. I can remember taste but not where they come from.

My most recent discovery is this guy who has an dd love affair with the coconut. He has multiple shops carved into old house near the port of Mangalore, where the air always smells of fish. He serves you coconut based ice cream, mixed with other melted flavors of ice cream. The ice cream is served in a coconut and is meant to be scooped out with a piece of coconut husk he gives you. You can recognize his shops by the red, 90’s refrigerators they always have.

We leave Mangalore the same way we came. In a sweaty, sleeper but filled with loud gossip, loud passenger, loud conductors, loud streets. One day I want to stay awake through the trip and locate where it is you top smelling the salty air of Mangalore.

Hansel and Gretel

While  Mom-Dad where at hill station, Hardipur and Geetu, had gone wandering around the neighbourhood.

Annu antie would have watched then like a hawk [or an obese parrot], nothing like gossiping about chootu children. Can understand parents full genealogy.But poor Mom-Dad didn’t account for latest serial played on full blast on brand new Ultra, Ultra HD Plasma curve, super sonic TV bought by NRI son.

Hardipur and Geetu, who preferred Hansel and Gretel, had never gone around their neighborhood, slum area is too close by. They were picked up by AC school bus and went to international school named after a random phirangi [probably Richard or Jacob or someone, as long as he has white skin and blue hair why does it matter?], and went to kids section of overpriced club #24 after they reached home and finished googling homework.

Hardipur and Geetu went up and down, left and right, here and there, like they smelt 3 tons of chocolate. They can to a strange lane where everything smelt strange, dogs weren’t on chains and people wore lungis-sarees, full traditional get-up even though it wasn’t ethnic day.

Hansel-Gretel or whatever you call them, ran up-down making their white, white uniforms brown and bought some pani-puri. It was better than canteen version. They went to small park smaller than their front yard, where other kids played. Other kids looked at them, they looked at other kids. Hardipur wanted to discuss Pokemon gen 40 and new super-duper, ultra evolution, but they didn’t understand him. Hansel-Gretel/Hardipur-Geetu played on their phones. Everything was very nice they noticed, it was nice to be out they said and sat awkwardly on the benches.

It was soon night and they were scared.Google maps doesn’t work when your phone has expired. Hansel-Gretel were very sad, scared even when a nice dark old lady came along and offered to take them home. She took them to her home first, asked them a few questions, but they just smiled awkwardly in response. She looked like a witch working on magic brew when she made them dinner. She ate little, and kept smiling as they ate.They decided she must be a cook .

She wasn’t smiling when sirens screamed and neighbors came out to watch as police took her away. Parents said hi to Hansel-Gretel/Hardipur-Geetu, police looked everywhere and some random case was booked. Hansel-Gretel/Hardipur-Geetu noticed the house was dust covered and looked a little like chocolate as they taken back home in their tinted window, AC car. They looked at each other and felt a little guilty, but Mom-Dad said she is not a nice lady. She had forced them to cancel vacation.

Probably kidnapping she was trying. Don’t go to the slums again they said. They could hardly stop huffing and puffing when they realized that Hansel-Gretel/ Hardipur-Geetu must have eaten meat. Later they discussed what caste the old lady must have been and what purification ceremony they would have to perform. Hansel-Gretel shrugged were happy to have Wi-Fi access again and everyone called it a happy ending.

Poor Rapunzel

Poor Rapunzel locked away in her room, her corner, her gender. Poor, poor Rapunzel. Didn’t she understand it was for her own good? Why are women so blond yaar? We just have their best interests in mind but they never see.

Look at her now. Choking down tears. What’s the point in suppressing tears? She looks so ugly like that. Don’t even get me started on how annoying the muffled sobs of girls are. Why is she ashamed? If she was a boy we wouldn’t have let her cry. If she was a boy all these problems wouldn’t be there. Now who will marry her? She looked like a cow, but now she’s a buffalo.

What is this short hair hungama? Doesn’t she care about her looks? It is not Indian culture. We’ve lost our standing now. All the neighbors have seen. They’ll say look at that girl; they’ll never come to her wedding. She’s marked. She’s almost worthless on the marriage market now. We let her color her hair. We sent her to medical. But still she cut those beautiful locks.

She’s lucky. She doesn’t understand. If this was Pakistan, no? How much more a villager would have done if she’d gone all over the city after with a boy who, god forbid, might be Muslim. So lucky she is. Anywhere else this would call for an honor killing. She’s lucky a beating is all we gave to remind her of her place, to punish her for cutting her hair. Now we’ll have to find a better astrologer. The family will have to sell a few kidneys, but hopefully we’ll find one of these Americanized boys for her. Some of them like short hair.

But we? We are martyrs. So much we have to suffer. This would never happen in my Grandfather’s day. This would never happen in your Great Grandfather’s day. What to do? Kids these days. We should have been smart and kept her at home. One day a prince will take her and make her his long haired prize, just you wait.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping beauties parents, who lived like rich kings and queens with greasy palms, went to high-funda doctors and posh, posh hospitals where people were only allowed to speak if they had fake accents.

There, they ordered food delivery [hospital food is so cheap!] and spent more than nurses in government hospitals make more in their entire lives. The hospital photographer with his fancy DSLR jumped around the smiling relatives in silk sarees, next to the posh king size beds and screaming, bleeding mother. No one heard the father ask for an extra stitch. All relatives said baby looks “nice, nice”. Mean relative later said “looks just like the father”. The silk fairies were busy posing for the hopping photographer, but fairy god mother [some dam mid-wife] placed a terrible curse on the baby. The entire room gasped as the curse was laid. “It’s a girl” the mid-wife said.

Poor beauty, everyone always thought she was asleep. While she grew up uncle, auntie, tha-tha, everyone said “Where is your son?”, “Who will pass on the family name?”.  Beauty said “I will, I will”. They didn’t hear and recommended herbs, Ayurveda doctors everything and anything. Beauty’s Mummy-Daddy tried everything, did everything and every position – front to back, top to down and back to back etc. But still no boy baby.

Beauty went to school where all girls were sleeping. Teacher said “Good job Rohan”, “Good job Mohan”. Rohan and Mohan were very naughty and girls very quiet, but teacher didn’t look at the girls. To teacher all girls were sleeping or should be sleeping.

Mummy-Daddy became Mom-Dad and also very sad. They had said “Medical,Medical” but since beauty liked history she actually started sleeping. Neighbor aunty said she likes sleeping so much, she sleeps at every David’s and Rahul’s house she goes to.

Beauty doesn’t last forever so Beauty was sent to the house of a nice boy with fair skin, from nice family from nice village. Nice boy had MBA, didn’t ask too much dowry and had nice caste background. Beauty went into manufacturing, cooking and housekeeping fields, and thought she was happy. But unfortunately her children were doomed to grow up and forget that she wasn’t sleeping.

Poor Beauty! Nice boy with fair skin also liked sleeping in other people’s houses. He had always wanted to be Bad boy but his mamma wouldn’t let him. One day Beauty decided since everyone thought she was sleeping she’ll actually go to sleep. Many expensive sleeping pills she had with elegant wine. Everyone came in silk sarees and said “Look at that Beauty! If only she wasn’t sleeping.”