neelwrites/fiction/examinatiions/CAT/08/12/2016

When someone let the CAT out of the bag
By Neel Anil Panicker
Examinations are a load or a breeze. That’s depending on which side of the academic scale you tilt.
For a serious student of life such as yours truly, it means a welcome release after months of burning the proverbial midnight oil, lying awake through days and nights coding, uncoding, and then decoding a near endless array of bewildering permutations and combinations, hoping to get bat through as many of the trickier than tricky bouncers (read questions!) that the head honchos that govern the test aim to throw at you at speeds that would put to shame the fastest of bowlers of world cricket.
And so it was the other day when I found myself inching into a rather expansive second floor examination hall located quite ironically in a mid-sized mall in a godforsaken back of beyond location some 50 kilometres away from sweet home.
The jostling continued but this time the shoulders gave way for cubicles as I found myself staring at a computer screen that steadfastly refused to wink back at me.
Humour was not its forte, I guessed.
I craned my neck left and right and saw only eyes, all eager and expectant. The future of the country, smilingly ready to put their collective heads on the chopping block.
And then the screen sprang to life, whispering start.
The race had begun and the Usain Bolts of the world began to run.
Thereafter, it was non-stop bombardment as question after question popped out of the funny looking screen made even smaller by the enclosed lines within which played out the jumbled, contorted and even twisted world of sweat inducing near unsolvable questions.
Finally, after a tortuous (and might I add torturous) three hour ordeal that I would wish the best of my enemies), the ordeal ended as I bid goodbye to the last of the questions.
The reverse troop down started and I joined the teeming mass of IIM aspirants on the outside, their facial expressions and bodily contractions and contortions conveying the entire gamut of human emotions ranging from the downright crestfallen to the supremely elated.
I looked around just in time to find my friend Harish, ambling towards me, his face squeezed in like a three-day-old mashed potato.
“Guess what, the paper has been leaked”
The words hit me like a ten tonne brick.
I blinked and stared into his face__ a sorry mash of fallen hopes. The mock test all India topper was understandably crestfallen.
A whirlpool of myriad images began to badger my mind.
Sheer darkness enveloped all over me.
The collateral damage to my CAT preparations over the past eight months had been immense.
A quick mental calculation brought out the losses:
Total man hours spent studying: 1800 (averaged over the past one year)
Girl friends left: Fifteen (Eight at the preparatory stages, two at base camp, seven at second stage, and three at the summit__well, almost)
Parties missed: twelve (including five outstation trips, with one to that land of utopia, Goa)
A flurry of noises brought me back to terra firma.
“Aree, bach gaye yaar”, shouted out a bunch of students.
They seem to have just managed to survive . Tomorrow is just another day.
I let out a smile.
Hopefully, next time around, they will be better prepared.
And, hopefully, there will be no more leaks.
As for me, I am going for a leak, right now.

(A first person account of an IIM aspirant)
(c)neelanilpanicker2016#fiction

neelwrites/thanksgiving/24/11/2016

 

By Neel Anil Panicker

Today is Thanksgiving Day.

Hey wake up man, this is India and not America, I am sure would be your response to this.

I mean agreed, today being the fourth Thursday of November it rightly qualifies as Thanksgiving Day but not here only in the US of A.

But so what, I would say. Haven’t we as individuals benefitted from God or whoever is that superhuman ‘special someone’ that controls and directs our lives?

Yes, and big resounding Yes, I am dead sure would be everyone’s answer to that.

If so what are we waiting for. Let’s go and express our gratitude for all the blessings  that we have received in the past one year including this ongoing month of November.

Speaking for myself I need to express my gratitude to the Almighty for a lot many things that have happened over the course of the past one year.

 

First of all I am thankful that I have managed to retain my optimism and spirit of evergreen positivity

Despite the financial turbulence that is currently being witnessed all over the country.

Everyday I go past long, serpentine queues filled with men and women fighting, inching, pinching and  doing everything to move ne measly inch ahead except short of lynching one another.

And when I see the same weary faces full of anger and hunger for days on end clutching a torn out much used and abused 500 rupee note in their razor thin hands from which can be seen their frail veins, I feel thankful that I am blessed with a little money, if not more, that allows me some breathing space’ money enough to ensure that I am able to survive for a few more days without the dire urgency of standing in line to receive or exchange what is but the only source of money for those who are less fortunate than some of us.

I am thankful to all those who have opened their hearts and wallets and kitchens and are helping others, in ways, small and big, to help circumvent and even survive through these highly testing times.

The last entire year has been a lovely year on the personal front and I am thankful to all for bearing up with my extravagances and indulgences including several acts of omission and commission.

Much like everyone of us, I too have gone over and committed my fair share of errors but it gladdens me tremendously to see that a few of you have moved ahead forgiven me which only shows that I have been extremely lucky to have a circle of family and friends who vigorously practice the centuries-old adage ‘To err is human but to forgive is divine.’

In the year whose last leg we have just about entered, I am thankful that I have been able to explore my inner self through my writings.

I have been extremely lucky to have found not just the time  and will but to also have ignited the deep seated passion within me to convert my myriad thoughts into words.

Speaking of which, my blog has taken off really very well and thanks to my writings today I am friends with a very diverse and hugely creative grouping of some of the best creative brains in the world of creative writing.

I have been also able to explore some new genres of poetry such as cinquain, quatrain, tanka and of course haiku. The last I find extremely liberating and  am hugely blessed to have interacted with some of the poets from around the world.

I am also thankful that in pursuit of my ‘fictional’ dreams, I am steadily and surely moving ahead and collecting an eclectic bunch of flash fiction writings which I hope to string together into some form of a book sometime in the future.

I am extremely thankful to each and every single person who has enriched me in one or the other into becoming the better person that we all aspire to be.

Lastly, to answer your question as to why I am doing this, I would like to end with this beautiful quote: Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

(c)neelanilpanciker#thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving Special #ThankfulThursdays

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neelwrites/#SOCS-yes/20/11/2016

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Nov. 19/16

Stream of Consciousness – Yes

This week Linda has given us ‘yes’ to use in our Stream of Consciousness posts. We get an extra point for starting and finishing the post by using these letters too

Why all of us must support Mr Modi, PM of India
By Neel Anil Panicker
Yes, I am short of cash to pay my cablewallah and my maid and my neighborhood pop and mom store that supplies me with my daily milk and bread and other essentials. And yes, I have stopped eating chicken or fish or other such gastronomic luxuries. And yes, I have borrowed a few hundreds (just a few, and God bless the benefactor’s soul for the sudden largesse) simply to help tide over the current crisis.
And it is not just me who is in a similar plight. As I step out of my house every day an all too familiar sight greets me all over the city, across banks and ATMs and all around including the interior arteries of every small nook and corner of this capital city. It is not just Delhi. The whole of India is lining up in long, serpentine queues that seem never to ever end.
And I can lay my last ten rupee (legal, mind you!) that the old man in a half torn betel stained shirt and matching lungi who is standing there in that queue over there; his wizened pockmarked face a picture of anxiety and extreme despair is suffering a hundred times more than you and I and all others who comprise the educated, working middle class populace of this country.
And I am dead sure he has been standing in one queue after another from the crack of dawn hoping against hope to somehow lay his hands upon a few crispy new notes in exchange for that crumpled and smudgy five hundred rupee note that he clutches in the fingers of his frail hands.
But if you look closely, burrow deep into his cataract damaged eyes, you will find that behind the outward veneer of anxiety and pain and uncertainty, there is a sense of happiness, a feeling of fulfillment, a restoration of faith and belief in the dignity of labour.
The common man on the street, those law abiding men and women who live a life of dignity, toiling for and earning their daily bread through lawful means feel happy and fulfilled; even slightly superior to all those others who have been looting and plundering and robbing the wealth of this great country of ours to fund their hideously obscene lifestyles for a lot many years while outwardly wearing the false cloaks of societal respect and dignity whilst portraying themselves as paragons of virtue.
Yes, it is for this silent, suffering majority who today line up in seemingly never ending day-long queues to get their hands on a few precious new notes that Mr Narendra Modi is batting for.
It is for the all of us lawful tax paying citizens of this country that he has come with this unique, path breaking initiative to wipe out the face of black money from this country.
The naysayers and the anarchists and the doomsday predictors among us may put forth a million reasons why this noble well intentioned measure will fail, with some even casting aspersions on the very intentions of Modi and his government.
But then, do we really care about the opinions of such ‘good for nothing’ arm chair intellectuals and these power-drunk self serving breed of politicians who know and do nothing other than to beat their chests and shout from rooftops attributing ill manner of ill conceived motives and laying about pessimistic scenarios?
My answer to that is a big NO.
Should we, instead, go all out in supporting any such noble step that at least tries in some small measure to help wipe out at least a portion of the black money component that has been the bane of the Indian economy for centuries?
If you ask me, the answer to that, as I believe it would be for all who love this great country of ours, is a resounding YES.
©neelanilpanidcker2016#essay#IndiaagainstBlackMoney

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Nov. 19/16

neelwritesblog/#SoCS-Novel Ideas/07/11/2016

socsbadge2016-17

#SoCS – Novel Ideas

INNOVATIVELY YOURS

By Neel Anil Panicker

HAPPY New Year!

Now, now… what must you be thinking__“But Neel, the new year’s still more than a month away?”

Well, that’s absolutely true, but then… blame it on Linda.

Dear Linda has come up with this very interesting ‘Stream of Consciousness’ thought word today and it is “novel” and, the first word that jumped out of my mind is its root word nov which means new; hence the rather untimely but I guess welcome greeting.

Let me firstly run you through what the dictionary tells us about the root of “novel”.

In Latin nov means “ new”.

Here are some other derivates of this:

  1. novel: “new” (adj.)
  2. novel: a “new” prose story (n.)
  3. novella: a short “novel”
  4. innovation: act of making something “new”
  5. innovate: to make something “new”
  6. novelty: a “new” item
  7. renovate: to make “new” again
  8. Nova Scotia: “New” Scotland
  9. nova: a star which “newly” appears in the sky
  10. supernova: an exploding star which “newly” appears in the sky
  11. novice: a person “new” to something
  12. novitiate: a person “new” to a religious order
  13. nouveau: French adjective for “new”
  14. novus ordo saeclorum: Latin for “new” order of the ages

 

It was just about a year ago, novice though I was, I boldly embarked on an ambitiously novel idea to put pen to paper. The venture started out as a novella but soon innovatively metamorphosed into a full fledged novel. The main character, an alien, novitiate as he is to the all matters earthly, explodes like a supernova and settles himself in the all too real setting of grand Nova Scotia.

Finding himself surrounded by nouveau riche denizens, our fictional tries various innovative techniques as he, an utter novitiate, endeavours to find acceptance among the people.

Not only does our ‘hero’ try and renovate certain things around but he also puts forth certain path breaking innovative ideas that gradually lead to his widespread acceptance among the citizens.

As all his innovations turns out to be such a novelty due to their high degree of innovativeness, our hero, after umpteen nail biting twists and turns, each an absolute novelty, manages to succeed in his goal, which is to create a novus ordo saeclorum.

Thus he becomes a nova and lords over novice Earth.

©neelanilpanicker#05streamofconsciousness#novel

 

This musical rant was brought to you by Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Click the link and see how you can join in: https://lindaghill.com/2016/11/04/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-nov-516/

neelwritesblog/#SoCS Oct. 22/16 – ‘ho’/22/10/2016

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “ho.” Find a word with the two letters–“ho”–in that order, and use it in your post. Enjoy!

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Oct. 22/16

By Neel Anil Panicker

Some of us have turned life into this big show

I mean does it really matter, and if so tell me how?

Why is that when I don’t reveal my emotions to the world some skewed souls expect a showdown?

Though I know that there is no hope

I still believe some houses

can turn into homes.

With or without the blessing of the Pope.

How far do you agree?

#neelanilpanicker#SOCS#01

neelwrites.middle.english/09/10/2016

What is the most hated word in the English language?
Well, for me the answer to that would be ‘a shifting goal post’, if one were to steal a word from the world of football.

Back when I was a kid, way upto to my late teens, it was undoubtedly examinations.
Exams for short. For an academically challenged 12 year old if there was any one word that brought out the greatest fear, a fear so severe as to send seismic bouts of sheer panic down my spine, then that word hands down had to be exams.
I remember waking up in unearthly hours, palpitating and perspiring like a fish from all its gills, lying shrivelled in a corner of the bed, surrounded by a shroud of darkness, the beats of my heart racing faster than Carl Lewis’ legs.
My mind would turn a maelstrom of maddening emotions___just about unable to fathom what I would do come the morn when I needed to sit for that all important physics paper.
And speaking of Physics__so Greek and torturous did I find this subject that for long many years, well past my topsy turvy school days, I suffered hallucinations and several years past by till I was completely free from the nightly bouts of delusions that was very much the norm for quite many years reaching upto adulthood.
In fact such was the dread that today, despite the passage of a decade and half, all I can remember of my Physics teacher is his bald head sans a single strand of hair; his perfect oval pate neatly bisected into two__ a thin linear line separating the ends. And we also had an apt moniker for him: theta.
I quick look over at the dictionary will tell you what it means__ the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. And its symbol, a neat θ!
Thankfully, as I shed my pre-teens and entered the world of hormonal overdrives I was able shed off my dread of exams.
But then I found a brand new word to hate: rejection.
Ah! but, then that’s another story.
COPYRIGHT@Neel Anil Panicker
#MIDDLE

neelwritesblog/flashfiction/socs/o3/awkward/02/10/2016

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Oct. 1/16

socsbadge2016-17

AWKWARD

By Neel Anil Panicker

Raghav eyed her from the corner of his eyes.

‘Gosh! How had she changed, and how much’, he wondered.

He was vaguely aware of it but wasn’t able to confirm the veracity of it all.

I mean, what can you say about stuff that happened some five years ago, and that too when all that you know of it came from Aunt Rachel’s mouth.

A mouth that stops not of stealing from the Bible to prove her point.

He moved himself closer to the hallway. That way he would be able to get a top end view of the marriage without anyone noticing him.

Except of course, his quarry.

No one had blown off his brains the way she had. And he had only met her just once. That too for a mere thirty seconds.

It happened only an hour ago. Here…at the church. Minutes before the marriage. Her marriage. She had pulled herself out from the gathering and exited through a side door.

‘Excuse me, where can I find the rest room’.

The distance between them was a mere three feet.

The smell of fresh jasmine inundated his lungs. He looked up to find red hot lips smiling at him. And then there was something else. Hidden but lurking behind that pair of doe shaped jet black eyes that were boring into him were an invitation.

Veiled, but still an invitation.

It was: the lovers’ Morse code. Known and practiced only among the community.

From one predator to another.

“ Uh, it’s over…”

He couldn’t complete it. She wouldn’t have allowed that.

“You are Rags, no? When did you come from Australia?”

She was right. She knew him. And his lusty ways.

Not her fault, though. ‘The raging bull’ ; ‘Mr Roving Eyes’; ‘Pole always looking for a hole’.

God! The epithets were aplenty; his exploits well documented.

No wonder, they sent him abroad. Enough of impregnating desi women.

Desi! But she too was one. How the fuck did he miss her?

How com their paths never crossed?

And then he remembered. The scandal. The Michael Family scandal. Their only child.  The hotel room… the police… the affair… a forced pregnancy…the priest…the sending of the girl…to London.

“How is Michael Uncle?” The words ditched his tongue.

He watched as her eyelids constricted and a faint trickle formed around them.

He kept the watch on. He knew. And she knew. And in that instant both knew that they knew.

The space between then suddenly collapsed. Their breaths synchronized. He felt the heavy bobbing of her breasts from under the off white brocaded bridal suit that she was wearing.

They stood there, just like that, in the corner.

Finally, she broke the awkwardness.

“I will be back”.

***

The booming voice of the priest broke him off his reverie.

“Esther, do you take Abhijeet to be your husband? Do you promise to be true to him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love him and honour him all the days of your life?

“I do”

Rags, perched atop, watched as the bride moved forward and placed the wedding ring on her husband’s ring finger:

Even from the balcony, the lilting magneticism of her voice from below drummed into his ears.

“Abhijeet, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

And with that well meaning gathering of Sunday morning attendees broke into loud thunderous applause.

He looked down one last time only to find the bride and the groom smiling up at him.

She winked. He blinked. They were happy, very happy, the two. Especially the groom__his dear brother, Abhijeet.

He knew the vows of consent would soon be broken. He felt awkward and moved away.

+++

#FLASH FICTION