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Keep Your Head Down - My Stay with Swamis

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Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 7........ Aslan

Aslan got down and stepped towards the shop were Jules was already standing and talking to the shopkeeper.“Jules please pick up two bottles and pass me one,” he requested the driver. Jules walked up to him and gave him a bottle. Aslan sat down on a vacant chair and sipped on some water, looking around, while Jules was busy talking to someone it seemed he knew.
‘Bogrenyoa Service', the shop board read. Aslan had his green glasses on and was sipping on his water when he heard noises, thuds, screams, men shouting and screams again. Aslan looked around but could not see anyone screaming, then he noticed Jules, and the person he was talking to, and a few more men who were all looking in the same direction behind ‘Bogrenyoa Service’. There was a loud scream again. This time Aslan was sure it was a child screaming. He got up to go to Jules. Jules was already rushing to the back of the shop. Aslan quickly followed him. When he reached the back of the shop he saw Jules talking to a man in Fr…

Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 6.........The Journey to Soubré

The aircraft shivered while trying to land on African soil, Aslan took interest in looking out of the window. He saw blocks in thousands ...small, large and big, then patches of breathing land green and serene. “Every block has a story”, he thought to himself, a story that does not matter to everyone, people living in those houses were living each day and aspiring for a happier life inside those blocks. “Everything looks calm from up here but each block has a living being trying to be more meaningful to oneself.
The plane was slowly lowering from a higher altitude, and the symmetrical block did not look calm anymore. They looked weary and tired, suddenly Aslan’s excitement to be in a new country, to experience a different culture and cuisine, way of looking at life, all diminished as the plane started coming closer to the ground. The blocks looked tired and overused, houses, work places, vacant hollow half-built blocks, they were weary. Upon landing there was a huge patch of green foll…

Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 5...........Whiskey

“Bhai ! thoda jaldi chalao”, Aslan said asking the driver to speed up. He knew he wouldn’t miss the flight to Abidjan but he was anxious to be at Netaji Subhash Chandra airport soon, and traveling in a cab to catch a flight always made him anxious. It did not matter how early he left for the airport, it always worried him sick thinking that he will be late for check-in. He got down from the taxi and ventured inside, his anxiety to be at the check-in counter pleased him this time; there were just two women in front of him…the three of them making the queue for luggage check-in for a long thirty-one hour journey to Ivory Coast.  All he could think of now was a nice cup of coffee and a granola cookie at the food court. 
It was half past eight; boarding had started when Aslan picked up his hand bag and started walking towards gate number thirty-two finishing his coffee with a last sip dropping the cup in the recyclable waste bin. Standing in the queue to get into the sky-walk he observed pe…

Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 4........Nose Rubbed

“Hey! good morning Aslan,” Nadira called out, Aslan looked over his shoulder and returned the good morning wish with a big smile almost squatting to take out biscuits from the office snack cabinet, he had always liked having a sugar sprinkled biscuit with his black coffee, like a morning ritual. He opened the biscuit jar, pulled one out and walked back to his desk to pick up his cup of coffee.“You are in early today,” he said smiling again at Nadira. She was settled on her chair with her hand inside her bag, searching for something. He found her looking prettier than usual, and kept looking at her waiting for her to reply, knowing she was fixated on getting something out from her bag and wouldn't reply until she is able to pull it out.“I will leave early today. Don't want to leave before completing a few things,” she replied while pulling out the USB phone charger from her hand bag. Aslan had shared a gregarious equation with Nadira and always enjoyed those small talks with he…

Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 3.......Case of Itchy Finger

“The management has given a go-ahead after considering the report that was sent out from our office,” Nadira spoke out to Aslan walking in his direction while he sat with a cup of his morning coffee. Nadira had been with PIDCO-Works for over ten years, she was short accommodating colleague with the most honest smile, and well informed about happenings within the company. “You had a role to play in this Mister,” she said with a mocking smile as she rested her elbows on Aslan’s cubical wall with her chin in-between her hands.“Your recommendations on the soil mechanics study have been considered and you are on your way towards becoming important to the company Mister Khayyam!, I know this will totally work against your… 'stay and look disengaged' scheme of things," she chuckled without moving her chin from her hands. “Damn! my years of hard work has gone futile, they made me do some good work irrespective of my intent, I am exposed!” Aslan retorted with a complimentary grin.

Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 2 ........ Extra Work

Aslan! What did you do? Boss has been asking for you ever since he came in. “I don’t know what I am doing Rishi and don’t know what have I done", he gave his colleague a faint disparaging smile keeping his backpack on the table, wiping his face with a tissue pulled out from the tissue-box at his daily-desk. 
On his way to work in the metro he had seen this gentleman again. He saw him almost every other day in the metro on his way to work, and Aslan could not help but notice him for his kind manners and most forthcoming smile, he always found him talking to the co-passengers, or offering them his seat, or at times people seated offering to hold his bag when he did not get a seat. The man was always interacting enthusiastically and smiling honestly..., seeing such human interaction fascinated Aslan. One time Aslan had noticed him open his briefcase with such heedfulness while sitting with everything was so tidily kept, he was certain that the person loved his job. “How would it feel …

Bitter Chocolate - Chapter 1 ........Almost Asleep

It had been a windy night and Aslan did not know why was he lying in his bed wrapped up in a fleece blanket, looking at the shadow formed on the ceiling of the room from the light outside, he looked at his watch and realized he had been in bed awake for over an hour. It was past midnight and he was two coffee mugs alert. Lying face-up for a long time he could feel a stiffening pain in his lower back and cheeks falling off his face. He held the wart on his posterior with right hand index finger and thumb trying to pull it out from the body. It gave him a shooting pain which stopped him from pulling it anymore. "It will be a Monday soon, time to go to work again"..he thought, if he doesn't get enough sleep he would be groggy and tired during work hours and.. waking up for work will feel meaningless since good seven hours sleep was essential for a full grown working professional who needs to work in office in front of the computer screen for nine hours a day ..and drive a few mo…

iPhone X and a little more

The door closed with a deep bound sound of new rubber being sandwiched between two metal frames. The cab smelled of lavender with clean seats and fresh carpets. Amana had boarded the cab from the City Center mall after a very satisfying Sunday shopping experience and it was almost tea time, she wanted to be home. " You have kept your car very clean Mazakia Ji", she said to the driver looking at the prismatic rear-view mirror of the car. " Yes Madam ji, having a car that is not clean from inside is like having motichoor laddoos with salt sprinkled on them, I am very particular about cleanliness of my car", he replied looking back at Amana through the same mirror. " I understand what you mean, its almost brand new clean, looks like you just got it out of the showroom today", Amana said looking out of the window . " Yes madam ji, got the delivery last night, you are my lucky seventh customer" Mazakia replied in a hurried pace with a smile. Both loo…

Ava Kanungo and her pet mice

The spaceship looked crowded in-spite of being empty and silent, there were thousands of colorful lit buttons and switches and several types of  digital gauges all around Ava's seat. The entire silent cold cockpit reeked of camphor. Ava sat in awe trying to absorb everything she saw as the spaceship took off with a thunderous roar. She got anxious and excited for the times that were to arrive. The journey was long and she spent most time sitting and observing the cockpit in detail, feeding her pet mice and sleeping. Almost eighteen hours had passed by her earthly watch when the robotic voice announced arrival at Gliese 581c. Ava felt a strange relief when she was able to figure out that her spaceship was making a slow landing at the exoplanet. The space ship landed with a sudden jerk and in few minutes Ava was standing at the stairway of the space craft with her backpack and her mouse habitat with the mice as ecstatic as her, looking at the lilac color sky.
"Welcome to Gliese …