Saturday, April 24, 2010

THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE Short Fiction – A Love Story PART 1

Short Fiction – A Love Story


Do you remember the happiest day of your life…?
I do…!
Here’s how it began…

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice said from behind me.
I turned around.
“Mr. Avinash…?” she asked.
I stared blankly at the smart young woman, tongue-tied.
“I’m Sheetal…” she said with a lovely smile.
“Oh, Hi…” I stammered, quickly gathering my wits.
I looked at her.
Avinash had been terribly wrong. This was no podgy pedestrian suburban unpretentious behenji. She was a real beauty, chic, smart, a stunner, and I could not take my eyes off her.
Her eyes were extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive eyes.
And suddenly her eyes began to dance, and seeing my frank look of genuine admiration, she gave me smile so captivating that I experienced a delightful twinge in my heart.
“You are Mr. Avinash, aren’t you…?” she asked mischievously.
“Yes…” I lied, “How did you recognize me…?”
“You were the only person looking lost and out of place out here…the odd man out…” she laughed vivaciously.
“Oh…” I said unconsciously, mesmerized by her gorgeousness, and by instinct, and almost against my will, I let my eyes linger, travel all over her exquisite body. 
“Hey…are you going to stare at me all day or should we grab a bite…I am hungry…” she said playfully.
“Yes…yes…” I said.
“Okay…come…let’s go to Samovar…we can talk there in peace too…” she said, and led me from the art gallery to the restaurant in the veranda.

Thus began the happiest day of my life. Dear Reader, please permit me to tell you a little bit about how it all started and to tell you this story I am going to transport you backwards into the past, yes, we are going more than 30 years back in time, to the late 1970s, when Pune was a Pensioners’ Paradise.
Yes, my Dear Reader, Pune, the Queen of the Deccan, in the 1960s and 1970s, with its lovely climate, pure fresh air, lush green environs, salubrious, spacious and friendly laid back atmosphere, was indeed a “paradise” – the best city to live in.
Imagine a Pune without Malls and the Multiplexes, with hardly any traffic on the roads, when the bicycle was the popular mode of travel; the nearest “city” was Mumbai and the best way of getting there was by the railways, by charming trains like the Deccan Queen, enjoying the scenic beauty of the lush green Sahayadri Ghats while savouring the delicious breakfast served by the restaurant car, since there was no expressway and it sometimes took six hours to drive down as the road through the Khandala Ghats was quite treacherous.
Just imagine – there were no mobile cell-phones, no internet, no PCs, no STD [one had to book trunk-calls] and Black and White Television had just arrived and was a novelty.
The main thing was that there was no internet, and hence no email, and one had to write letters and send them via post as there were no courier services either.
And of course, social interaction was face to face, relishing yummy bhel in the numerous picturesque parks, or over tea, in the Amruttulayas, Irani cafes and Kattas, as there was no facebook, no orkut, no chatting, and no blogging, nothing…and by the way, back then, the concept of “cyberspace” did not exist…
Those days, a B. Tech. from an IIT did not get you a huge pay packet – yes, it sure ensured that you got a good job, but once you were in the job you were on par with the other guys from various Engineering Colleges.
Yes, only guys did engineering then, maybe there were a few gals, the rare exceptions, but I hardly met any pursuing a career as an engineer, maybe most of them got married, or shifted to softer professions.
My IIT Classmate Avinash and I joined a premier engineering company located in the suburbs of Pune.
Well that was the trend at IITs those days – either you went abroad, to America, to pursue higher studies, or got a good job in the campus interview in a prestigious engineering firm, unless you were one of those few who preferred to be a white-collared manager via the MBA route [way back then there were hardly any management institutes, I think maybe there was just one IIM or maybe two, and FMS at Delhi and a Jamnalal Bajaj at Mumbai].
But the majority of engineers studied engineering to practice engineering, so we were quite happy to hit the shop floor doing hard core engineering.
We worked hard, for six days a week including Sundays, and had our off on Thursdays – the industrial holiday.
We rented a house near Deccan Gymkhana from where we commuted to work and back by the company bus.
Life was good.
It was easy to be happy. Our threshold of happiness was so low that small things made us happy. Like a relaxed chat over a cup of tea.
Yes, every evening after work, we would get down from the bus, relax over a Bun Maska and Chai at Café Good Luck or Lucky, and then walk down to our place on Bhandarkar Road nearby.
One of our most enjoyable highlights was our weekly Thursday visit to Pune Camp – to see the latest Hollywood Movie in royal style relaxing on those unique easy chairs at the inimitable West End Cinema, relishing tasty mouth-watering bites and soothing thirst-quenching sips at the Soda Fountain during the interval, followed by delectable Mutton Samosas, Bun Maska and refreshing Irani style Chai at Naaz, then a leisurely stroll on Main Street [MG Road] and East Street, window-shopping, bird-watching and snacking, sandwiches and cold coffee at Marz-o-rin, maybe a browse at Manney’s bookstore, and then a hearty Chinese meal at Kamling or Chung Fa, or a Mughlai repast at Latif, or Punjabi Food at Kwality, Biryani at Dorabjee or George, or Sizzlers at The Place [arguably the first Sizzler Place in India] next to Manney’s. And then a Meetha Masala Pan at George to carry home the lingering flavour and fragrance of the delightful evening.
When there are two close friends, one assumes the role of a leader and the other a follower. Amongst us, Avinash, a tall, strapping, confident, flamboyant, handsome man endowed with an excellent physique with a dominating personality, was the natural leader.
“Shekhar,” Avinash said to me one Wednesday evening while we were sipping chai at Good Luck, “Shekhar…I want you to do me a favour…”
“What…”? I asked.
“Go down to Mumbai tomorrow and see a girl in my place…” he said.
I looked at him, confused.
“It’s like this yaar…there is some behenji type girl from my place my parents want me to see…she is working in Mumbai…I am least interested… so you go and see her and come back…and I’ll tell my parents I didn’t like her…” he said.
“But why don’t you go…?” I asked.
“Listen yaar…I’ve managed to patao a solid cheez I met her during that management course in Lonavala I’d gone for last week…” he said.
“But you didn’t tell me…” I said.
Arre Bhai…kuch hone to dobut uske liye you’ll have to help me out…I’ve fixed up a solid date with her tomorrow taking her for a drive on my bike around Lonavala and Khandala…we planned it during the course…and suddenly my mom rang up in the office this morning... please yaar Shekhar …just go to Mumbai tomorrow and see the girl…” Avinash said.
“But how…?” I protested.
“I have already booked your ticket both ways by Deccan Queen…just go in the morning and come back in the evening…this back home type is called Sheetal and she will meet you in the Jehangir Art Gallery at eleven…”
“But how can I masquerade as you…she must be having your photo…I’ll get caught…” I said.
“There is no photo, nothing…she doesn’t know how I look like and I don’t know how she looks all happened so suddenly…just our parents got talking back home last evening and my mother rang up this morning to go and see the girl tomorrow as the girl is going back to her hometown in the mofussil near our place by tomorrow evening’s train…” he said.
“No…No…I am not going…the whole thing is preposterous…I can’t do this…” I said.
Yaar please…don’t ditch me…I have already sent her a telegram to meet at 11 AM in Jehangir Art Gallery…” he said.
“I don’t understand all this…” I said.
“My mother said her office is in Kalaghoda…so this is the nearest and best place…there they work on Thursdays… only we here have industrial off…so they fixed up tomorrow…as she has to leave for her place in the evening on holiday…don’t argue…just get it over with…after you come back I’ll ring up  my mom tomorrow evening and tell her I didn’t like the girl and the whole thing is a closed chapter…” Avinash said, putting his arm around my shoulder, “aur Shekhar, agar mera Lonavala wali se jugad fit baith gaya to I’ll give you a big treat…”

So, next morning I boarded the Deccan Queen to Mumbai….

To be continued…

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010  
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. X and the Baby

Mr. and Mrs. X and the Baby 

Fiction Short Story 



(Dear Readers, this is a fiction short story, purely apocryphal, with a message for working couples on the threshold of matrimony)

Mr. and Mrs. X desperately wanted to have a baby.  

So they tried very hard to have a baby.  

Poor Mr. and Mrs. X, they tried and tried, all by themselves, but they couldn’t have a baby.

And as time flew, and the biological clock ticked away, Mr. and Mrs. X became more and more anxious, and so with resolute perseverance, they put everything at stake, made determined efforts, consulted the best doctors in town, spent huge amounts of money on the best and most sophisticated infertility treatments possible, tried all sorts of things, exoteric and esoteric, left no stone unturned, struggled and struggled, with dogged persistence, till, at long last, at the age of 35, Mrs. X conceived, and after a difficult, delicate, grueling, backbreaking, anxious, harrowing  pregnancy, she overcame all sorts of complications, and finally, after enduring for nine long months, successfully delivered a beautiful bonny baby.  

Everyone was delighted – the parents, having proved their mettle, the doctors, on the success of their treatment, the grandparents that the family lineage was preserved, the soothsayers, the relatives, the friends – everybody. 

Three months later I happened to be in town and decided to visit Mr. and Mrs. X and their bonny baby.  

On the way, at the jewellers, I bought a gold ornament as a present for the bonny baby.  

I found my way to their classy house in an elite condominium located in the most posh and exclusive neighbourhood of the city.  

I felt a tinge of envy thinking about Mr. and Mrs. X, the young IT whiz kids, who could achieve such expensive luxuries and an ostentatious living style so early in life. 

The proud grandparents opened the door.  

The baby, on her grandmother’s lap, looked cute, very cute and cuddly.  

The baby’s parents, the young mother and father, were conspicuous by their absence.  

It was late evening and I had expected Mr. and Mrs. X to be at home, doting upon their adorable little baby, so curious I asked, “Where is the young mother?”

“At work,” the grandfather answered.

“Oh! Back at work? So fast? But she should be back home soon, isn’t it?” I asked looking at the wall clock.

“No! No! She won’t be coming for at least six months now. She’s gone abroad, to the States, on an important project,” said the proud grandmother, cuddling and mothering the baby.

“And Mr. X, the proud father, he’ll be coming…” I asked.

“He’s in Singapore. He got a fantastic job offer the day the baby was born,” said the grandfather. 

“You know, the baby has proved real lucky for them. Her mother got promoted as project leader, a hefty raise and this foreign assignment and her father got this fabulous job offer in Singapore,” said the proud grandmother, cuddling the baby, who suddenly started to cry.

“It’s her feed-time,” the grandmother said, handing over the baby to the grandfather, and she went to the kitchen to warm up the baby’s milk.

“It’s good,” the grandfather said lovingly fondling the bonny baby, “for all these years when they were trying so hard to have this baby, they had put their careers on the back-burner; now that they have got their baby, they can focus on their careers once again.” 

The grandmother came out with the milk bottle and began feeding the bonny baby while the doting grandfather lovingly looked on.

I looked at the grandparents – the surrogate parents – and the baby – the light of their lives, their raison d’etre, probably their reason for living and certainly the source of all their present happiness.  

As I said earlier, this is a fiction short story, purely apocryphal, with a message for younger readers on the threshold of matrimony. 
Any Comments...?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Short Fiction – A Love Story

“I want to have a word with you...”

“Later. I’m busy...”

“No. I want to talk to you right now...”

“Not now. Please. We’ll talk at lunch break. I have a deadline to meet...”

“I told you I want to talk to you now. It’s urgent...”

“What’s so urgent…?”

“It’s about Nisha…”


“Just lay off…”

“Lay off…?”

“You took Nisha out to a movie and dinner last evening, didn’t you...?”


“So nothing... You just stop seeing her... I don’t like it...” 

“You don’t like it…? Who the hell are you to like it or not…?

“Who the hell am I…? Nisha is my girl...she is mine…We are in love…”

“Love…? Nisha loves you…? Bullshit...! Go and look at your face in the mirror... Is she crazy to love a clot like you...?” 

“You just shut up... And just lay off Nisha…I don’t want you too see Nisha or even talk to her ever again…understand…I am warning you…”

“Warning…? Hey Dude... just buzz off…I like Nisha and she likes me and we are seeing each other...It is you who has got to vamoose…Got it...? So just get lost and let me get on with my work…I told you I have a deadline...”

“I’ll break your…”

“Hey, what are you doing…? Just take your hands off me…this is the office…”

“Okay, I’ll meet you in the evening... outside office... and sort you out…”

“Sort me out…? You sissy...I’ll thrash the hell out of you......
Hey, look…Nisha is coming here…”

“Hi guys…I was just coming to meet both of you…and I find you together…what a coincidence…”

“Meet us…?” 

“I’ve got some great news…I am getting married…”

“You are getting married…?”

“He lives in the states…in Houston...he is a childhood friend…my classmate from school…we had lost touch with each other…he found me on the net on FB a few days ago…we chatted…he proposed this morning…I said yes…”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


If the aroma of good food brings a smile to your face and lightens up your mood,then Vikram Karve's Appetite for a Soul is your best bet. As the author travels through the streets of Mumbai, Pune and other cities in search of good food, he shares his invigorating experience of food hunting and learning new recipes. His explorations lead him to some of the rarest cuisines and authentic rustic preparations.

Going by the mantra "there is no love greater than the love of eating", his writings could transform any lay man into a delightful food connoisseur. His experiments with recipes, reviews of some of the oldest restaurants and mouth-watering description of dishes would mark an everlasting image in the minds of the reader.

"Good food must be savoured delicately, slowly, attentively and respectfully, in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That's essence of the Art of Eating." 

An excerpt from book Appetite for a Stroll by Vikram Karve 

Some may feel that it's a wrong idea to live for eating, but writer Vikram Karve has a different theory to offer. "Eating is not just making yourself not-hungry. It is about filling your appetite by having a soul-satisfying tasty food," feels Karve, who follows his appetite rather than following the clock for eating.
Given his taste for rich and spicy food, Karve is often asked about the health aspects of indulging his cravings. "Why neglect the soul while we do so much so for our bodies? I feel, while exercise is good for a healthy body, good and tasty food is neccesary for the soul. So we must strike a balance. I eat good food and I burn it out by walking and exercising. I don't believe in multi- tasking when it comes to food. That is, when I eat, I just think of the food and the taste, and when I m working out, I just think of my health." 

Speaking about the book that features food joints and eateries in Pune, Karve says that the city offers a lot to food lovers. "In the 1960s food was quite well defined in Pune. While city area like Peths offered typical Mahastrian fare, the Camp and nearby areas offered Chinese and Iranian food. But now, as Pune takes a turn towards becoming a metro, the boundaries have blended and disappeared. We get the same menu everywhere. However, a few old eateries still promise that same flavour which we relished in that era," recalls Karve.
A teacher by profession, Karve has penned many books and short stories. But the love for good food brought him to share his experience in an entertaining way and at the same time making it informative for people, who can enjoy good food. "The objective behind my writing is infotainment. So that I can not only help people locate the once-famous eateries but also help them realise the importance of good food." 

While Karve believes in having wholesome food, he at times, doesn't mind pampering his taste buds with a bite of junk food too. "Bhel is the specialty of Pune. It could be rightly called as the signature dish of the city. While the new populace of the city goes for big restaurants, they might give it a thought to try Pune's all time favourite bhels like - Kalpana Bhel at Saras Bagh, Canal Bhel near Prabhat Road or Kalyam Bhel," he says. 

As Karve savours every bite of food offered by eateries all over the city, he, like any other son, loves the menu from his mother's kitchen. "I just love the aaloochi bhaji and masale bhaat that my mother prepares. And my love for good food helps me relish every grain," says Karve. 

When asked, if he enjoys cooking as much as eating, he says, "When I got married, one could see more of me, than my wife, in kitchen. But over the years, I have successfully turned my wife into a foodie and we both enjoy food together, be it simple ghar ka khana or a regional delicacy. My wife is good at cooking vegetarian food, while I feel biryani is my forte." 

After a great response for Appetite for a Stroll, Karve plans to write more on food and then perhaps also try his hand at writing on other topics. Guess, variety is the spice of life, especially for such a devoted foodie. 

Appetite for a Stroll covers Vikram Karve's explorations, eating and foodwalking experiences coupled with vivid photographs and features that are sure to heighten the appetite of readers. His passion and love towards food takes a new dimension that will not only create a niche for himself but also pave way for his fellow foodies.

Friday, April 02, 2010

ALKA and ULKA - Short Fiction


Dear Reader: I had written this story in April 2006 and posted it on my Sulekha Blog on 20 April 2006. The links to the blog post are given above. While surfing the net, reading blogs, I was aghast to see that this story ALKA AND ULKA had been copied and pasted on a few blogs without even mentioning my name as author or giving me any credit. Maybe they wanted to portray as if they had written this story. I wonder what one can do to prevent such unethical acts of blatant plagiarism. Should one stop blogging - or posting creative work on one's blogs...? Maybe one solution is to for the author to keep reposting his work at suitable intervals to ensure the author's creative claim to his piece of work.

So, Dear Reader, here is the story once more. I am sure you will enjoy reading it.


(Fiction short story)
“Ulka. It’s Ulka – U. L. K. A. – that’s my name, not Alka,” screamed the furious lady.
“I’m sorry Ma’am. It’s just a small mistake,” the ticketing clerk, a young girl, said apologetically.
“Small mistake...? You spell my name wrongly and call it a small mistake...?” the beautiful lady fumed.
“I must have heard wrongly on the phone.”
“It’s carelessness. Anyway change the ticket.”
The ticketing clerk took the ticket from the lady and with her pen overwrote ‘U’ in place of the ‘A’ changing Ulka to Alka.
“What nonsense is this?” flared the lady, livid.
“How does it matter, Ma’am...? It’s just a minor change of spelling. Besides your surname is spelt correctly.”
“Minor change...? You need an attitudinal change...!”
“Excuse me, Ma’am...!”
“What do you mean ‘excuse me’...? Just cancel this ticket and issue a new one with my correct name.”
“You’ll have to pay cancellation charges.”
“Cancellation charges...? What nonsense! Why should I pay...? It’s your mistake. You think I’m a fool?” the lady shouted beginning to lose control of herself..
Till this moment I was just watching from the sidelines, but now it was time for me to intervene.
“What’s the matter...?” I asked the ticketing girl.
“She’s creating a big fuss over a minor issue.”
“Big fuss! You change my name and it’s a minor issue? Suppose the plane crashes, what happens to the insurance...? You are incompetent. I’ll have you fired! Who’s the top man here...?” the lady said, trembling with fury.
“Excuse me, Madam,” I said, “may I help you...?”
“I want to see the top man here,” she shouted, her enormous brown velvety eyes flaming, her flawlessly smooth cheeks flushed, her slender upturned nose luminous, almost translucent, her deliciously juicy lips quivering – in her anger she looked devastatingly beautiful .
“I am the top man here,” I said to her, and turning to the ticketing clerk I said firmly, “Issue a fresh ticket with the proper name. Don’t make any mistakes...!”
“But, Sir...?”
“Just do what I say,” I snapped at the hapless ticketing girl, and turning to the angry lady I said politely, “Ma’am, please come to my cabin.”
A glass of water, a freshen up, and a cup of coffee later, composed and appearing a bit contrite, fresh ticket with her correct name on the table in front of her, the beautiful lady said, “I’m sorry for creating a scene, but I get very upset when I’m called Alka instead of Ulka.”
“I can understand,” I said. “One’s name is important and people do get touchy if there’s a mistake. But then, Alka and Ulka, both names suit you.”
“What do you mean...?” she asked, confused.
“‘Alka’ means a girl with curly hair. Just like you...!”
She blushed, and asked, “And ‘Ulka’...?”
“Well, 'Ulka’ means a meteor, a star falling on the earth from the heavens, fire, a torch or a firebrand.”
“Now don’t tell me I’m a hothead firebrand or look like a meteor...” she smiled mischievously. The ice had broken. Her anger melted.
“Ulka and Alka. They sound so similar that one can easily confuse Ulka with Alka which is a more common name,” I said.
“I know. But because of this Alka-Ulka slipup – I’ve paid a heavy price for it,” she said, and told me her story. I am easy to talk to, and her words came tumbling out.
“Around ten years ago, when I was in my final year at college, a boy saw me in our college canteen and fell head over heels in love with me.”
“Wow...!” I said.
“He was so desperate that, after we left, he asked a waiter my name and the stupid waiter made the same mistake – he told the boy my name was Alka.”
“But the boy was in your college isn’t it...?”
“No. No. I never noticed him. Must be one of those rich types just hanging out in our college ogling at girls. He had fallen so madly in love with me that he tried to find out my address from our college office.”
“Then what happened...?”
“He asked for ‘Alka’ and unfortunately there was an ‘Alka’ in my class, so they gave him Alka’s address. Then the guy goes to his parents, gives them the address, and asks them to meet Alka’s parents and ask for her hand in marriage.”
“And then...?”
“They saw each other. The boy realized his goof-up and told her, and described me accurately to her, but Alka’s smart; she wasn’t going to let go of such a prize catch. I don’t know what she did. Maybe she told him there was no one like me in her college or that I was from some other college or some such yarn, but she must have sure worked on him with all her wily charms and finally they did get married. And now she’s having a ball of a time loaded in dough, the wife of a wealthy businessman, while I slog it out alone day in and day out.”
“You never met the boy, haven’t you...?”
“No. I don’t even know how he looks. I told you I hadn’t even seen the boy looking at me. I didn’t even know all this till yesterday.”
“Yesterday...? Then how did you come to know...?”
“Alka told me.”
“Alka...? Here. In Hyderabad...?”
“I ran into her at Abids last evening. At the jewelers. I was just looking at a string of pearls. Too expensive for me. But Alka bought a lovely pearl necklace and an exquisite diamond studded watch.”
“A diamond studded watch...?”
“I told you she’s loaded.”
“And then...?”
“She took me out to dinner in a restaurant. Remember I told you that the boy told her everything, accurately described me to her. She teased me that her husband still remembers me.”
“She didn’t invite you home...? To meet her husband.”
“I asked her. I wanted to meet him. But she made up some excuses. She’s scared. After all, a man’s first love always has an enduring place in his heart.”
“Yes. Just one small Ulka-Alka goof-up and look at the consequences. She, glowing in matrimony in the lap of luxury, and me, in the abyss, all alone.”
“All alone? You didn’t marry...?”
“Still haven’t found a suitable guy, I guess...!”
“Well, let me tell you that what you’re imagining isn’t that true.”
“What do you mean...?”
“Alka’s husband - the ‘boy’ who fell head over heels in love with you – he’s no hot-shot businessman. He’s just the owner of a modest travel agency.”
“You know him...?”
“Of course I know him. That boy is me. I am Alka’s husband.”
She froze. Then melted. Broke into a smile. We looked wistfully into each other’s eyes in silence for a long long time.
After she left, there were just two thoughts perambulating in my mind.
Firstly, I wondered what life would have been like had I married Ulka.
Secondly, whereas my darling wife Alka had gleefully shown me the lovely pearl necklace the moment I reached home last night; I wondered why she hadn’t told me about the exquisite diamond studded watch she had bought along with the necklace at Abids last evening...!

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2006
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.