Over the flux

She looked very different from the other girls. An air of abundant freedom emanated from her every gesture, and her laxity invited attention. She fiddled and fidgeted with a carefree composure, glancing around with the zeal of a young school girl. Romesh renewed his grip on the overhead handle and began taking a closer look at the young woman. In the evening, the bright lights in the dingy and battered iron compartment gave a new look and feel to familiar objects. Bags and faces everywhere. Office workers, shop attendants, labourers, women with kids, urchins and beggars, all huddled up on the seats or stood clutching at handle bars. As the wheels clanked and shook the train at regular intervals, the red and yellow painted doors and windows let in fresh bursts of air, giving moments of solace to weary travellers. The city trains carry not just people but a flux that, moving back and forth, transforms its subjects into hordes of flesh...
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Three glasses full

The small, desolate beach of Mahe hadn’t come up to his expectations. He had been looking for a longer, secluded stretch of sand and palm trees, just like the one he had found earlier while on the way at Karwar. Mahe is a small town, lying almost hidden on the map, and Jimmy Ahuja wondered what secrets it beheld. Like a seasoned traveller, he decided to explore the coastline further. Ahuja walked down the straight road that ran along the coast, dotted on either side by leafy palm trees and thatched village huts. The sun hadn’t reached its royal summit yet, and the sea air felt damp but cool. Feeling hungry, he looked around for a place to rest and eat before proceeding further, and soon spotted a hut with a counter full of eatables in the courtyard. The place appeared slovenly, and the oily, refined eatables not appetising enough. They could however keep him satiated for a few hours. As...
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The Dolphin Ride

The old fishing boat leapt and bounced, and glided over the sea waters amidst the whirring of the small engine and the splashing sea waves. The cool sunny morning put the travellers in an upbeat mood. They knew the dolphins were around, and lurked somewhere underneath the currents. At the nose of the boat sat three men, heavily built, one with a thick moustache, with towels draped around their hairy chests. Riyaz and the fisherman’s assistant took up the middle portion. Behind them sat the fisherman holding the engine handle in one hand, which he twisted on occasions, making the boat deviate from its trajectory. For Riyaz it had been a sudden departure from his planned holiday morning, when he finished the milk porridge and toast breakfast early on, and strolled out on the damp beach sands. There wasn’t the usual tourist crowd at this time, and the beach was spotted with early morning joggers and walk enthusiasts, mostly Europeans on a...
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The making of a Swami

I. The visitor The open courtyard, surrounded by fences, overlooked a narrow road that circumvented the hill temple of Savitri and wound its way through the hilly countryside. At one corner of the ground stood the owner’s thatched hut, while the other half was occupied by two camels, one of whom hobbled around with an injured foot. This was the home of the village land contractor, who supervised a vast expanse of local land reserved for the forest department’s tree growing programme. Aniket was late by an hour when he stepped into the courtyard. He felt tired by the early morning climb up the hill temple over its seemingly never ending steps. The dry heat of the approaching noon did not induce perspiration, but burnt him from inside. This was his third day in this town of some religious significance, extended one day by the generous invitation of the contractor whom he had met in the bazaar. Looking toward the veranda,...
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