Oh Pandaram!

The random musings of a local curmudgeon

Here be Dementors

Smoke Signals

Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, and they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them. … Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory, will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself – soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Last night, a journalist was shot dead in cold blood.

She was entering her home – the one place where each of us is entitled to feel we are safe from the pressures and cares of the workaday world. She was gunned down right there, at the threshold of her safe place. By…

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The ultimate fart joke

They met at a comedy club.

He bombed that night. Horribly.

She bought him a drink, partly out of pity, but mostly out of an indescribable sense of attraction. The sort of feeling which compels you to listen to a song on loop. The initial sense of intrigue, the hook which refuses to let you go and conjures up scenes of karaoke nights with friends or your wedding where you magically overcome your debilitating lack of rhythm.

A year later, they were married. Him, the struggling writer/comedian and her, the MBA grad with the world at her feet.

Despite what the world made of him, he was the funniest person she knew. At the end of every long, tiring day of work, she had him to look forward to. The back rubs, the jokes he worked all day long on, the feeling of his beard and unruly hair between her fingers, the freakishly regular love-making.

She was his bed rock. Unwavering in support. Gorgeous. Always in the front row applauding, come what may. Lucky bastard.

It just came to him. Sitting bare-naked, out of ideas in front of the TV while she was at work.  The ultimate fart joke. Irish priest, bar, a talking donkey & plate of beans. Hilarity. He texted her the joke.

An hour goes by. No reply. Nada. Zilch. He calls her. She hadn’t received the text.

Stupid fucking T-Mobile.

He cursed to himself and texted the whole joke again. The clock reminded him it was 4 PM. He hadn’t done any of the chores she asked him to. Her parents were coming to town the next day and he had promised to go buy BBQ supplies.

He grabbed the keys to the car and gets on the highway. Out of the corner of his eyes, he spotted the screen of his phone light up.

‘Haha *crying emoji* *crying emoji* *crying emoji* my sides ache *crying emoji*’.

His face lit up. He loved nothing more than making her laugh. He imagined her throwing her head back, the hair crashing behind her in waves and her hand failingly trying to stifle the inevitable guffaw.

His joy was short-lived. He realized too late, as he looked away from the phone, that he had veered off his lane. He crashed into the back of a tractor trailer truck and died on the spot.


His fart joke was….killer.




The true philosopher

If, by the oddest chance, you are a regular reader (I chuckled) of this, by now annual, blog, you would have inferred by now how much I tend to drown in nostalgia every now and then. Usually, it is during such periods that a blog post like this one oozes out of my being. This past week, and I can’t recall for the life of me why, I was reminded of simpler times, when a much younger, more rotund version of me would spend quite stubbornly in bed, submitting myself to the whims and fancies of the Agatha Christies and Wodehouses of the world, exploring quaint English towns and acquainting myself with quirky characters, every single one of whom fancied drinking tea to inappropriately high volumes. That was the world I was most comfortable in, and to a degree still am as evident from my varying degrees of social awkwardness. As is the case with most of my bouts of nostalgia, this led to me wanting to part with some amount of cash, albeit this time not in purchasing Scotch. I went on Amazon, which is a thing only millenials or people with a urge to part with cash say, and bought myself a Wodehouse collection for the unreasonable price of 1$. The first novel was ‘Mike’ (first published in 1909), a story about a young cricket prodigy earning his stripes in a boarding school environment. It has been quite an enjoyable read so far and quite distinctly reminded me about the Harry Potter series, with the titular character in both these works usually committing shenanigans and then weaseling their way out of tight spots. Only, there isn’t anyone whose-name-shan’t-be-uttered out for blood in this novel. At least not yet.

While reading through, in the early hours of today, I came across this passage which I re-read many a dozen times. It goes thus.

“There are situations in life which are beyond one. The sensible man realises this, and slides out of such situations, admitting himself beaten. Others try to grapple with them, but it never does any good. When affairs get into a real tangle, it is best to sit still and let them  straighten themselves out. Or, if one does not do that, simply to think no more about them. This is Philosophy. The true philosopher is the man who says “All right,” and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. One’s attitude towards Life’s Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable, who sat down on an acorn one day, and happened to doze. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate, and it grew so rapidly that, when he awoke, he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak, sixty feet from the ground. He thought he would go home, but, finding this impossible, he altered his plans. ‘Well, well’, he said, ‘if I cannot compel circumstances to my will, I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. I decide to remain here.’ Which he did, and had a not unpleasant time. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home, but the air was splendid and the view excellent. To-day’s Great Thought for Young Readers. Imitate this man.”

As someone who is now closer to his thirties than to his twenties and has seen his fair share of ups, downs and turnarounds career-wise and in matters of the heart, I wish I had read this passage earlier,before my hair greyed and my spirit wavered to a sliver of its former glory. I eventually did come to learn this lesson on my own. But the thing is, I might never have. Depression is an iceberg I managed to steer away from ( Titanic reference, check. ). But every so often chunks of ice do drift into my path which I can’t evade. But fortunately this hull has held itself together.

When people I care about break down about things out of their control, I tell them, much to their annoyance, to forget about it. There’s only so much the human spirit can take. You’re not Superman. Wodehouse put it best, a century ago. Go to sleep. Sometimes, that’s also the bravest thing to do.

‘What would you like, Sir?’

Nair’s rule of holiday intercontinental travel :

“If on an intercontinental flight during the holiday season, which you’ve paid premium bucks to book tickets on, because you lacked the foresight to book cheaper tickets 6 months in advance; you fucking eat whatever the fuck you are served, whenever the flight staff choose to serve you, cause you’ve fucking bled through your pockets to fucking get home. You better make each fucking breadcrumb count. Also, Brits, why the fuck do you eat yogurt for breakfast? Fucking daft, innit?”


In other news, I’m home.



A Social Experiment

‘Would you like a little more taken off the sides? An inch on either side perhaps?’, asked the hairdresser.

‘Mmm, I think a little bit off the left side, please.’, I replied.

‘Okay. This is turning out really good. Has anyone told you that you’ve got great hair?’

‘Yeah, a couple of people, I guess. Oh, my left side, not the that of my reflection.’

‘Oh, I am sorry.’

‘Actually, you were right the first time. Have you ever noticed that whenever someone tries to correct you about left and right, you always second guess? Even if you were correct all along? It’s a social experiment I am doing. You are the third person I’ve tried that on today.’

‘Uhm. Okay. Would you like some product on your hair?’

‘No thanks.’

Weird place to experiment. Right? Right?

*(Readers, you would be glad to know that I tipped her more than the usual 15% for her participation in my path-breaking experiment)

**(When in doubt, always go left. Especially when it comes to politics)

The Question

As usual, he couldn’t sleep through his flight. She kept him awake.

He used to call her lightning in a bottle, but she always laughed it off.

But it was true. She exuded passion. Always, in every way.

She made love with ardor, argued like she was at war and laughed like a maniac.

He got into his car, loosened his tie and closed his eyes in dread.

Now, he had to go home to his wife. That sinking feeling returned.

They loved each other, yes. But she wasn’t one for passion. Of any sort.

Hell, he couldn’t remember the last time she smiled, let alone laughed.

She wasn’t her.

This was a game he was used to playing.

Away, with her, there was happiness to be found, bliss.

Home, with her, there was melancholy, drudgery.

He felt the wedding ring on his finger, let out a deep breath.

He asked himself the same question, for the millionth time.

‘When they’re both the same person, is it cheating?’



I have a little shoebox.
A tiny world within my closet.
Inside, you’ll find remnants,
Of a life lived well.

Chopsticks, tickets, photos
And mini bottles of cheap whiskey.
Of warm people and places,
Lovely stories do they tell.

‘Banana pancakes’

A rustle of the sheets wakes me up.

It’s well before dawn.

I turn around to see you awake, looking at me.

Smiling lazily, I pull you close.

You plug in your earphones and pass one to me.

We lie there, listening to Jack Johnson.

But I’m not really listening.

You’ve taken over my senses.

The cadence of your breath dims out the guitars in the background.

Sleep takes over and your eyes fight a losing battle.

You snuggle in my warmth and with a parting kiss,you surrender.

I lie there taking you in, guitars strumming and all.

Not a word was spoken, but a lot was said.

What do I write about?

It’s been nearly a year since my last post. I’ve been asked by a grand total of 1 person as to why I haven’t written lately. Why ? Writer’s block? A lack of time?

I silently nod to no-one but me. I am still nodding along trying to think of the next sentence, or even where this post is going.

My writing process is never cerebral. It’s usually emotional,clueless and often times, headed to the recycle bin after numerous strained attempts at clarity, or sanity even.

I stare blankly at my screen, occasionally switching tabs to check Facebook.

It gets even more complicated due to the demands of school and work. The very little time I am left with to do something creative, I sleep. Because that’s what grad-students do. They come home and sleep. But today I had this rampant, almost violent urge to write. I just had to write something down and post it. I had to give something to the world and then forget about it. I had to get it out of my system. Which explains this mess.

Stares at wall for 5 minutes. It’s yellow.

This urge. Where do I direct it? WHAT DO I WRITE ABOUT? Your guess is as bloody well good as mine. Do I write about this wonderful podcast about co-incidences I listened to today? (This American Life, if you’re wondering). Do I write about how one person out of every five I make acquaintances with knows someone from my family? Even here in the US? But that doesn’t seem to have a lot of depth or potential to write about,does it?

Just said ‘Meh’ to myself.

Or do I write about how I recently discovered the genius that is Neil Gaiman? About how I see so much of what I wanted to be, in him? About how even I want to write for a living and still be married to a rock-star? About how I’ve gone through every video of his on YouTube and how I’m swallowing every post of his online journal? But I’m afraid that would just be the story of my unfulfilled potential. Lots of sad stories in the world as it is, yes?

Checks his website for updates.

Ooh, I thought up a horror story about the kid who lives upstairs and runs all around his apartment at night; the noise travelling through the floorboards and disturbing my sleep. Every night. Unfailingly. How about that, eh? About how I thought up this theory that he doesn’t actually exist, and that he’s a forlorn spirit, condemned to run around the halls of Apartment 8 (good title, yes?) till oblivion? It took me a good 5 minutes to realize that I would have to sacrifice even more sleep to make that even half as interesting a story, as it sounded in my head.

I yawn.

How about a poem? A poem about how a single eyelash came loose and fell on my hand. About how it took me back to my childhood…er no. Stop. Jeez. My blog has enough nostalgia and maudlin regrettable writing as it is.

I yawn some more and pop my knuckles. And then I realize..

I’ve actually written something! Nonsensical, whimsical and downright flimsy, but something that I wrote. After a year. Ironically, about how I’m out of blog-worthy ideas.

I gape. For quite a while.

This feels like bliss,relief and exhaustion all rolled into one. I am probably not going to read this ever again. But I am undeniably happy. Happy that I finally wrote. About nothing, and about everything.




I just watched a Malayalam movie called ‘Manjadikuru’. For those who haven’t seen the movie or do not understand Malayalam, I’ll save you the trouble of googling(?). Here’s the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manjadikuru . Now,my days are pretty mundane, following a set pattern of activities ,to be done at specific times of the day. The 8:00 PM movie happens to be one of them. I am usually detached to anything that happens on screen. It takes a special piece of celluloid  to affect me. Today, was my lucky day, I guess.

The movie transported me back to my childhood. When, my days revolved around narangamuttai (lime candy) and me constantly devising ways to get more pocket money, so I could treat myself to these gems. When, my grandparents used to give me goosebumps with stories about Palliyan. (Now Palliyan was their custom version of the boogey-man. But he also happened to be a real person; he was our domestic help and was more than happy to play-act to scare me.) Back in those days, the only worry I had was if the blanket was long enough to cover me while I slept. I admit, that fear has stayed with me. Those were the days when me and my brother were both small enough to fit in my father’s bear-hug while we took our afternoon naps. When the visits of my cousins translated to ‘YAY! NO MORE STUDYING!’ ,even if the respite was only for a matter of hours. When conversations lacked awkwardness or ulterior motives. When the times were simpler.

Graffiti my uncle drew about me, while he was carrying me around on his shoulders one day. I miss his presence.

Graffiti my uncle drew about me, while he was carrying me around on his shoulders one day. I miss his presence.

Looking back, it’s hard to not say I have no regrets. I do. I wish I knew my father’s parents more closely. I wish I had showered more of my affection on them. I wish I had spent more time with my uncle,who was taken before his time. I wish I had kept in touch with some of my cousins, given how far we’ve drifted with time. I hate the awkwardness of trying to catch up with you,while feeling guilty of not maintaining contact through the years. I wish a lot of things were done differently.

More often than not these days, I yearn to be home. To be with the people for whom I’m still that same old Unni. My grandfather stills call me Unnikutta excitedly every time I phone home. Every time I get misty-eyed,without fail. I guess a lot of these bottled up emotions came to a head today. Hence, this post.

This is a poem which wrote when I was in college and had come home for break. I posted this on a different blog and I’m re-posting it here. It isn’t perfect by any stretch of imagination and was written ,quite evidently and rather embarrassingly , while I was preparing for the GRE. But I remember that I had one of the purest surge of emotions when I wrote it, so I’ve decided not to tamper with it. It’s about coming back home and feeling the full brunt of time hitting you head on, acknowledging that you’ve grown past your childhood and that you have to move on.  I know this has been a weird post, so I am going to stop here before I mess it up any further.

Emotional Baggage

The sands of time have slipped through my fingers,

The accretion sometimes bemuses me.

I had been cloistered by these very walls,

Which seem claustrophobic now.

These pathways seem to have narrowed,

These ceilings , they seemed to converse with the empyrean,

Now they are an arm’s reach away.

These lawns were a sea of green on which I floated in thought,

The sea has dried into a blot of green.

But as I prepare to leave this haven,

I have packed more memories than clothes,

The emotional baggage , heavier, but gossamery ,

The  accrual of experiences with the years gone by,

My childhood has been peeled by now,

But inside, deep inside, I’m still raw.

These memories, this nostalgia,  is not taking a step back,

But taking two steps forward to whatever awaits me.