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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chp 440. “Blog Cemetery” revisited


Call me vain, but sometimes when I’m bored, I do go through some of my old blog posts, especially the short stories I’ve written during those days when I was easily inspired, and reminisce about the good old times. I still get inspired today, but such inspirations are now related to my line of work which has nothing to do with writing.

Below is a short story I wrote back in June, 2009. I’m just reposting it here in case you want to read it. I’m not pushing it in your face to read it, but yeah, I would appreciate it if you do. It’s a short story which may sound a little bit geeky too, and I’m reposting it here as it was, with minor editing here and there to make the story even more interesting. The only big difference between the post below and the original in 2009, is the location of the IP address I have used in my story. What was once Wichita, Texas…


…is now Columbus, Ohio! (The Ohio Statehouse to be precise, thanks to Google Maps)


Lolz :)

But that doesn’t change the crux of my story in any way, so here you go – one of my favorite short stories, taken from Chp 247. Blog Cemetery. Enjoy :)

------------------------------------------


BLOG CEMETERY



Pinggggggg!!!

The sound echoed spookily across the silent bedroom. Mathew’s heart skipped a beat. It was a chat alert notification. At two in the morning, Mathew wasn’t expecting anybody to come online and chat with him, especially since he had set his status as invisible.

“Maybe somebody took a gamble to see if I’m online or not,” he thought. So saying, he quickly saved his ongoing AOE-III campaign and minimized the game window. He clicked on the blinking Yahoo messenger to see who was trying to chat with him at such a strange hour in the morning.

It was Bobby.

Mathew raised his eyebrows in surprise. He had known Bobby since high school and they had been inseparable right through college. And then suddenly, ever since that fateful night at “Jalwaa Dhaba”, they had never spoken to each other again. Bobby still blamed him for the death of Pooja, even though he was never involved in her gruesome murder. Pooja… Bobby’s fiancĂ©e… brutally raped and murdered… Bobby of course knew that his best friend Mathew was innocent, but he also knew that Mathew’s hands weren’t entirely clean either…

The chat transcript showed,

“Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;”

Mathew’s eyes widened. Bobby continued to type…

“The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.”

Mathew thought for a few seconds and then smiled. He punched in the words quickly.

“All things will die, by Lord Alfred Tennyson.”

Mathew used to play this game with Bobby back in College. They would suddenly quote lines from a poem and ask the other to guess the name of the poem and poet. Mathew found it strange that Bobby would break the ice after nearly two years of silence this way, but quickly brushed it aside with the thought, “Ah, it’s just Bobby”.

Bobby continued typing the same poem, “All things were born. Ye will come never more, for all things must die.”

Mathew stared at the chat transcript for some time, and then finally replied.

“So, bro. How have you been???? Where the hell are you now?”

No reply.

Mathew waited for a few more minutes, and then finally typed, “You there????”

Still no reply.

A chilled air suddenly blew across the bedroom and Mathew immediately got a few goose bumps. He looked around his bed nervously. Then he stared at the chat console once more and the message appeared, “Bobby is now offline”.

Mathew sat motionless for a few more seconds and then quickly shut-downed his system. He dived into bed immediately and feebly muttered, “That’s weird,” before falling off to sleep.

------------------------------------------

A week later, Mathew had almost forgotten that strange incident, when he checked his mail and saw a new alert from his feedreader. It was an update notification from Bobby’s blog feed that he had subscribed to a long time ago!

“Whoah,” he exclaimed.

Mathew immediately clicked on the link. He landed on Bobby’s blog, surprised to see that it was the first update after 2 years!

“Damn Bobby, you lazy old fart,” Mathew smiled.

Bobby’s new post was a poem…

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.


Mathew read it slowly and carefully. His eyes lit up as he was familiar with the poem. He clicked on the comment section and typed, “A Poison Tree, by William Blake.” He clicked on “Publish your comment”.

And then he thought for a moment and wrote another comment.

“Dudeeee. You spooked me a little bit the other night. Did you get disconnected or something? Catch me on chat tonight, around 11 pm’ish. We have soooo much to catch up on!”

He clicked on “Publish your comment” again and his comment appeared for the second time on Bobby’s new blog post.

Suddenly the monitor flickered and the electricity in his apartment went off.

“Crap,” Mathew cursed.

------------------------------------------

Another week went by and still no word from Bobby. Mathew was starting to worry a bit. Bobby had never treated him this way before. But then again, considering the way Bobby had partially blamed him for Pooja’s death, he was not surprised.

Suddenly, there was a knock on his door.

Mathew opened the door to see two burly men in cheap brown suits.

“Yes, may I help you?”

“Mr. Mathew Jacob?”

“Yes?”

“May we come in please?”

“Urmmm… who are you?”

“We’re from the CID…”

“Oh! Crime Investigation Department?”

Criminal Investigation Department.”

“Oh… Okaaay…”

Mathew led them inside and as they all sat down, one of them got to the point immediately.

“Mr. Mathew. I believe you know a certain Mr. Ajay Poonawalla and a Mr. Sebastian Chandy?”

Dark memories came flooding back immediately. Mathew blurted out… “AJ and Sebby… Yes, I know them… I mean… I knew them. Haven’t spoken to them in almost… two years now I think.”

The two men looked at each other, and the taller man with the spectacles spoke, “We know that. We’ve been checking on your online activities at Orkut, Facebook and Twitter. You have not followed them back on Twitter in spite of them following you, and you have not added them as a friend in Orkut or Facebook, even though the three of you have so many common friends.”

Blood rushed to Mathew’s face immediately.

“What???? You’ve been checking up on me? Invading my privacy? On what grounds??? How dare you…”

“Relax,” the stouter man assured calmly. “I am Inspector Verma and this is Inspector Rana. We are both from the Cyber Crime unit of CID. This is what we do. The two of us are working together on this case.”

“What case?”

“Well… two years ago, you were involved in the death of a certain Miss Pooja Dhania, right?”

Mathew’s eyes popped wide open.

“I was acquitted. I was never there at that time of the night!”

“Right. You were acquitted. But your friends Ajay Poonawalla and Sebastian Chandy…”

“They are NOT my friends!”

“They raped her, right?”

Mathew’s mouth trembled in anger. He screamed, “Yes! They bloody raped her, those bastardssss! And then they murdered her after…”

“And what happened at the trial?”

Mathew hung his head down… and slowly whispered, “They were acquitted too. Lack of evidence, the Court said. They had their own alibi, just because Ajay’s father is a fucking Minister.”

The taller Inspector now spoke in an empathizing tone.

“And to this day you blame yourself because…”

“Because,” tears flowed down Mathew’s cheeks. “Because I was the one who took Pooja to the party that night. Bobby couldn’t make it, and since we were all close friends, she went with me. But at the party, I got lucky and went for a ride with another girl. I left her alone! Goddammit, I left her alone for those animals to rape her!!! By the time I reached the party venue again to pick her up…”

Mathew broke down.

Inspector Rana got up from his chair and sat right next to Mathew. He kept his hands on Mathew’s shoulder and said, “Mr. Mathew. We need your help on our case…”

A teary eyed Mathew finally looked up and tried his best to maintain his composure, “What case is this?”

“A few days ago, Ajay and Sebastian were brutally murdered.”

Mathew was now sitting up straight and listening attentively. If there was any feeling of exuberance, he did not show it.

“Murdered?”

“Yes. Both of them were killed at the same time, in the same fashion, even though they were miles apart from each other. Strangulated while sitting in front of their respective computers.”

Inspector Verma joined in, “The weird thing is, the postmortem revealed that they were strangled from the inside, with finger marks INSIDE their throats.”

“How is that even possible?” Mathew asked in surprise.

“We are not sure. But the coroner’s report has revealed that they were killed at the same time you left a comment on your friend Bobby’s blog last week!”

“What? Oh no… that’s not possible… I mean it could be a coincidence. You mean the exact same time?”

“Not exactly exact,” Inspector Rana corrected. “They were killed at the exact time a new post was published on Bobby’s blog. You commented a few minutes after that.”

Mathew now laughed nervously.

“See… like I said, it could be a coincidence… And I am sure Bobby is not the type to take vengeance, even though he still blamed me for Pooja’s death… I can vouch for Bobby’s innocence…”

“His innocence is confirmed, Mr. Mathew… I’m sorry to tell you this now, but your friend Bobby… he passed away two weeks ago… a bus accident in Kashmir… They fell off a gorge at around 2 in the morning…”

Mathew froze. His face became as white as sheet.

Now it was the two inspectors’ turn to be worried.

“What’s the matter? Are you alright?” Inspector Verma asked.

“Two weeks ago… at around 2 in the morning… Bobby came online and chatted with me on yahoo messenger…” Mathew blurted out.

A long dead silence followed, freezing the room. None of them knew what to say next.

Finally, Mathew nervously said something to break the deafening silence.

“That is why… the cyber crime unit is involved? You think this may be the work of some hacker or prankster with a sick twisted mentality, right? Right?”

He was trying hard to convince himself that this was not what it sounded like.

“Well... we have traced the ip address of the person who wrote that post on Bobby’s blog. We thought it would be rerouted or the ip scrambled, but it was a simple direct ip.”

“Who was it?” Mathew asked, still trying to come to terms with the fact that one of his closest friends had been dead for two weeks and he never knew about it.

“We’re not sure. The ip address was based at somewhere near Wichita in Texas, America. Yet when we contacted the police there, they said that the place has been deserted for years.”

Inspector Rana opened his laptop and showed Mathew the location of the ip address.


“Interpol has also confirmed that this has been a deserted farmhouse for many years now.”

And then, Mathew looked at the ip address… something was familiar about it… extremely familiar… and then it hit him. He froze as if he had just seen the ghost of his dead friend.

Inspector Verma shook him hard, “Mathew, Mathew, are you alright son?”

With a trembling voice, Mathew lifted his fingers slowly and shakily pointed at the ip address…

“That ip address… 214.80.07.52. That's 21st April ’80, 7:52am. That is the exact date and time Bobby was born.”



Monday, January 21, 2013

Chp 439. Mizoram Journal III: xmas ride



“Going for a ride” in Aizawl is one of our favorite nocturnal pastimes. It basically means just that – going out with your friends for a ride. Unlike other cities where people go to a disc or restaurant or other recreational destinations to hang out with friends, Aizawl does not have too many spots like that. So instead, we take a couple of cars and drive to various localities across the city in the night, stopping here and there for 10 minutes or so, and then finally going home.

I know it may sound lame or even weird to most of you who have never been to Mizoram. Frankly speaking, I can’t picture myself getting into a car in Mumbai, driving to Andheri, then to Powai, then to Sion, then to Bandra, then to Colaba, and then head home. I mean, why the eff would anyone do that, right? That too with the freaking traffic?

But it’s not like that in Mizoram. First of all, there’s no traffic in Mizoram during the night. Secondly, the scenery is beautiful, especially in the night. And third and most important of all, since Mizoram is a dry state, there are no night clubs or restobars, restaurants that serve alcohol, or even restaurants that open up late. So the only way we can have fun with our friends together is to stay at home or go for long rides across the city.

I call this, the ride culture. :P

So during my last visit, I did go for a ride with my friends. But before I put those photos, let me show you some of the photos fellow blogger and my good friend VaiVa captured with his camera. During Christmas and New Year, most localities in Aizawl decorate their respective areas with beautiful lights and other ornaments. During the nights, they are breathtakingly beautiful… Click on the pictures to enlarge.










Yup, the photos taken by VaiVa are indeed awesome. That’s what you get when you go for a ride across the city with an expensive camera and no chicks around you – You end up taking beautiful pics :D

My friends and I decided to go for a ride on 23rd December. Below is us “warming up” for the ride.




We all met at M’s place, and once everybody’s ready, we left his place.



We realized we had too many cars as we all reached M’s place in our respective cars. The whole point of going for such rides is to sit together with friends. And so we took just three cars, leaving the rest behind, including my rusty Wagon R.




We first went to KV Paradise, also popularly known as Mizo Taj Mahal, at Durtlang. Unfortunately, half the population of Aizawl probably had the same plan that very night, and the roads leading to KV were so freaking jammed that we were requested by the local residents to turn back and maybe come back the next night.

And so we drove back, and parked on the precarious Durtlang cliff and enjoyed the breathtaking night view of Aizawl. Close by, two drunks crashed their cars into each other and fought on the road.


It wasn’t a serious accident as both drunks were driving slowly due to the traffic jam on the way to KV Paradise.

Speaking of accidents in slo-mo, another drunk biker fell off his bike right in front of our very eyes because the traffic was moving so slowly, he wasn’t able to maintain his balance. It was so goddamn funny watching him fall in slow motion right next to us! :D

We reached Bawngkawn, and the traffic was finally back to normal. We got down from our cars and took a couple of pics.



On the way to Ramhlun, RDa’s car had a puncture, and he didn’t have any spare tyre, and the other two cars we took were not the same as his car! Luckily, some of the guys knew somebody who lived close by and called him up. He appeared after 15 minutes in his pyjamas, rolling a new tyre along. Hah, that’s what I love about Aizawl :)


Once the tyre was fixed, we drove to Ramhlun, which had one of the best decorations. We took a lot of photos there as well.

Ps. I was wearing formals that night because I went for the ride directly after attending our local Church’s night service.



We had absolutely no idea who the guy on the extremely left below was! Lolz. He posed right next to us in three other photos as well, which we realized only much later. Haha Photobomber Level: Xmas ride. :D



Next stop was at Zarkawt. I guess we were a bit late or the people of that locality had removed some of the lightings, because if you compare the following pics below with the ones VaiVa took five days earlier above, they’re quite different.




After that we stopped at Venghlui for another quick photo session.


It was around 1 in the morning already, which was PRETTY late for Mizoram’s standard, but being a festive season, there were still quite a lot of cars and people on the streets. A couple of roadside snack counters even opened up, catering to the hunger of us creatures of the night. We stopped at such a makeshift joint to replenish our stomachs.





Funniest thing was, some of us and other customers around us started helping the vendors with the cooking. Man, this kinda bonhomie happens only in Mizoram :)





I think I had boiled eggs and aloo puri. Am not so sure though, if you know what I mean.


Having a shitty phone cam amidst all the professional cameras the others were carrying had its perks. Like for example, the photo below came out really well, only because my phone camera sucked!


Once we were full, we drove to our last stop – Kulikawn, where we took a few more pics. The streets by then were completely deserted.





After that, we all drove back to M’s place, got into our respective cars and drove back to our respective homes. All in all, I had a very memorable night with a bunch of really wonderful friends, and this last picture below was voted as the best Pic of the Night. Yeah it is a really beautiful picture *wink wink* :)


If you do happen to visit Mizoram during Christmas, you should definitely go for such a “ride” in the night. You won’t regret it.

Cheers.




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chp 438. Mizoram Journal II: potpourri


Here are some more photos I took with my phone during my brief (but memorable) recent vacation in Mizoram.



1. The family cook

Some of you may not be aware of my trademark fried potatoes. I have a very unique method of preparing it (it’s a secret). My flat-mates call it “heart-attack potatoes”. Everybody who has tasted it, swear it is the best goddamn fried potatoes they’ve ever tasted. The only flipside is, it is extremely high in cholesterol, hence the name “heart-attack potatoes”. I decided to treat my family with that special dish.

And of course, a cold can of Dagon to make cooking more enjoyable. :P


Can you smell the exotic aroma? The heavenly spices? The greasy cholesterol? :P Yummmm…  Everybody loved it, especially my two nieces.




2. Roadside Sanpiau

Speaking of food, I was walking with a friend in Aizawl when we suddenly decided to stop at a roadside tea stall and have the Sanpiau. It’s a traditional Mizo dish made from blah blah blah (ok I don’t know exactly what it’s made up of and am too lazy to google).


What I love the most about tea stalls in Mizoram is the honestly. As you can see in this picture too, there are some boiled eggs on the table. Anybody can have them. Likewise, there are assorted breads, cakes and sweets too. Just eat whatever you want from the table and later go up to the stall keeper and tell him/her what you had and you pay only for that much. Nobody doubles checks on what you actually ate, and at the same time, nobody lies either.



3. Child yesterday; woman today

Our household currently consists of my dad, mom, sister, and two nieces. My two nieces are the daughters of my eldest sister who is living with her new husband someplace else. We’ve been taking care of the two nieces since they were babies. And that is why it took a long time for me to get over the shock that the older niece now has a boyfriend and goes to beauty parlours frequently.

Here is me picking her up from the parlour. Daymmm they grow up so fast! Sob sob…





4. Water at your service

So this Christmas and New Year, my sister and her husband from UK too flew home. Therefore there were a lot of us. We would usually end up finishing our regular water supply, and hence had to call for extra water time and again. These private water suppliers charge 1400 bucks for one trip. One trip consists of two Sintex barrel filled with water, which is 4000 litres.



One really embarrassing incident – So the first time these people came to deliver water, I climbed up our tall water tank like a big hero to insert the huge water pipe. The water supply team consisted of two workers – one was holding the pipe coming from the supply truck, and the other was fixing up the generator. As I was waiting for them to start their machine, I was busy taking pictures of my neighbor’s house instead of holding the pipe firmly.

Suddenly, the water generator was switched on, and the force pulled down the pipe I had painstakingly attached to our water storage. I dived but failed to grab it, and so the entire water, in all its force and glory generated by the generator, gushed out from the pipe onto the road! After the machine was quickly switched off, both the supply guys and all my neighbors gave me this very dirty look, as if to say “What a clumsy, good-for-nothing, tall, fat, handsome oaf!” I just grinned and scratched my head while they passed the pipe back to me again.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took from the water tank, cramped into one picture, just moments before the pipe disaster. Hope it was worth it. Click to enlarge.




5. Merry Vodafone Christmas

Most people will tell you Vodafone customer care sucks, or Airtel customer care sucks, or Idea customer care sucks. In fact, most service providers’ customer care sucks sometimes. But compare that to Mizoram and you will realize bad customer service is actually better than no customer service. In some restaurants in Mizoram, sometimes you actually have to get your food from the chef’s counter yourself because the waiter’s slacking off or busy chatting with his/her friends! That’s how bad it is there. Nobody gives a shit about customer service.

So imagine my surprise when our doorbell rang and I opened it to find… two pretty girls dressed smartly, and a Santa Claus! They were from Vodafone. They asked for my sister (who’s a Vodafone subscriber), gifted her a Christmas cake, and then took a photo of her and the Santa together near our Christmas tree, and then left as quickly as they came, wishing us all a merry Christmas on their way out. Now THAT’S good customer service and PR indeed! Below is the cake they gifted us.




6. The unaffordable cost of Arsenal!

Yeah yeah, I know Arsenal’s not doing great at all this year, and like the past so many years, we’re not buying any of the top players again. So like I said earlier, my sister from UK came home, and like every other year, she gifted me the new Arsenal jersey this time too. However, this year the price of an Arsenal jersey (I’m talking about an original, bought from the Emirates Stadium) shot up because apparently, it is quite different from the older Arsenal jerseys due to the new blue arm patch!


So guess what’s the cost of this jersey? 

£ 59.99!


That’s… 5259.61 bucks in Indian currency! Definitely my most expensive tee-shirt ever! All the other Arsenal jerseys my sister used to buy for me every year never used to cross £30. And in spite of charging us hardcore fans so much for the jerseys and tickets (oh yeah, Arsenal has the dubious distinction of having the most expensive match-day ticket price!), the fact that we never buy good players because they are “too expensive” just feels soooo frustrating sometimes.



7. Suit up!

Suits season 3 will start airing from next week, I can’t wait!!! Meanwhile, I got myself two new suits when I went home this time, one for Christmas service and the other for New Year service. I took them both down with me to Mumbai too, but I’m sure I’m not even going to touch it here. Hopefully, I wouldn’t have outgrown them when I get to wear them next – that is, Christmas 2013.

In case I outgrow them (like I did to all my other suits), here is how I looked like because this is probably the last time you’ll ever see me wearing them :(

[Me Christmas suit up]

[Me New Year suit up]



Cheers!