31 August 2009

The Devil, The Angel...And Me

It was a lazy Summer morning. After waking up at 10, I dragged myself into the bathroom, where I lazily began brushing my teeth.

Just as I was half way through, the devil popped up, standing on my left shoulder. He was smart as usual, in his black suit, red shirt, black tie, red face, and two small black horns.

Me: What is it this time, Luke?

Devil: Oh, nothing. Just, you know, came for a chat. That's all. [He looks around for a moment, hesitating about something.] By the way, have you been visiting your blog lately?

Me: [coldly] Yes, I have.

Devil: [sarcastically]Ah, so you do check your blog once in a while. Wonderful, wonderful [whistles for a while.] And by the way, who was that moron who wrote the last few posts?

[I stop brushing suddenly, and look into the mirror. The devil is smirking at me rudely. His bloody cheekiness...]

Me: What the hell was that supposed to mean?

Devil: Oh seriously dude, when are you going to learn? You're blog's half dead? No one cares about stupid stories is which a police officer jumps from the -- hey, which retarded police officer commits suicide because of drunk driving? 

Me: [angrily] He was feeling guilty about causing the death of the guy's family!

Devil: [thinking for a moment] Hmm....you mean like he was feeling bad?

Me: [testily] Yes Luke, he was feeling bad!

Devil: [shrugging his shoulders carelessly] What a loser! I'd personally be proud if I could drive home while I was drunk...

Me: [shouting]Oy! 

Devil: Alright, alright, I'll get to the point. Dude, it was a really mushy mushy story. Well done. Excellent. But how many people commented? No one ever cared!

Me: [feeling proud] 12 people commented about it.

Devil: [slyly] And how many people actually read it?

Me: [feeling embarrassed, and looking down] I don't know...about 60...

Devil: [triumphantly] Ha! You see my point? So here's what we do to boost your comment count, and have people flooding all over the blog.

Me: You mean what I'll do

Devil: I'm you're conscience. You and I are the same person, you moron.

Me: Oh.

Devil: Moving on, I have a few ideas. First, stop writing boring short stories. Personally, the namings all screwed up. It should be long-yada-yada-yada stories. But that's not what we're talking about. Right now, you have to start writing about....how can I say...more interesting things.

Me: Interesting?

Devil: [looking annoyed] Oh God -- I mean, Oh Shucks! Okay, let me try to make it more clear. Right now you write boring posts about hope, friendship...yada yada yada. No one's seriously going to read all that. If you really want to be in the big league - and by that I mean triple digit comment counts - you have to write about...you know....a little more adult stuff, like...I don't know...maybe--

Angel: [popping out of nowhere on my right shoulder] Stop!

Me: [relieved] Thank God! Where on earth were you?

Angel: [apologetically] Sorry buddy. Had to stop by a bank and ask the robber whether he really wanted to make the mistake. Turns out he did....Anyway, what was this miscreant telling you?

[I look at the mirror, and see the Devil, his arms folded, looking anoyed, staring at the Angel. It would be a long morning, I thought...]

[To Be Continued...]
Dear Readers,
This is a new type of post that I thought I'd give a try. The Devil here represents, obviously, the evil side of my mind, while the Angel...well, you get the point. Whatever contrasting thoughts I have as a blogger, are represented through these two characters. Please let me what you think. I'm hoping for constructive criticism....

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26 August 2009

Forgiven But Not Forgotten...

On the morning of 12th January, 2008, a man named Joseph Peccard went up to the terrace of his building, and stood next the ledge, threathening to jump. As could be expected, within ten minutes, a huge crowd formed at the foot of the 35 storey building, crying out to the deranged man.

"Dont jump, please dont jump Mr. Peccard!" a janitor who knew Joseph cried out.

"It isnt worth it. Sir, please move away from the ledge. Do you hear me? Move away from the ledge!" Another man shouted.

Five minutes passed before the police arrived, and when they did, Detective Martin Spencer was at the scene.

"Who is that guy?" He asked, straining his eyes to see the man. Someone handed him a binoculars.

"His name is Joseph Peccard. He's a Senior Accounts Analyst at J.P. Morgan & Sons. Has two children, both of them married. His wife is a well known socialite. He lives at 56 Vermont Avenue, in a large villa. Owns another house in Illinois. Financially well off. Seems like a perfectly normal guy." Detective Thomas said, closing the file in his hands.

"Yah. Except that he's threathening to jump of the roof. Something must be odd," Martin said sarcastically.

The routine procedure in such an event was simple enough. The police would create a soft landing pad at the foot of the building, which would require at least ten minutes time. Until then, Joseph Peccard would need to be distracted.

"Where is the psychiatrist?" Martin asked.

In such situations, a police psychiatrist would be the one who talked to the person, trying to calm him down and make sure nothing rash happened. This time, however, the nearest psychiatrist was stuck in traffic.

"Great! Well, then, I guess I'll talk to him myself," Martin growled angrily. He was in a particularly anti-social mood.

He reached the terrace of the building, and found Joseph, standing next to the ledge.

"Hey Joseph," Martin said casually.

"What, no, stay back. Stay back I tell you. Or else I'll jump. I swear I'll jump. Dont come any closer!" Joseph bellowed. Martin didnt flinch. In his life as a homicide detective, he'd heard worse threats. Nothing could bother him after 8 years in the police force.

"Alright, alright. I'm just going to sit down here. And then we'll talk. Alright?"

It took about ten minutes, but Joseph finally mellowed down. He sat next to the ledge, with Martin sitting several metres away. Tears were streaming down Joseph's face.

"You must think I'm a nutcase, right?" Joseph asked softly.

Martin wasnt a very diplomatic officer. Which was why he was better that killing murderers than dealing with mad men. "I think you're a moron. A big, useless piece of shit! Why do you ask?"

Joseph was surprised by the answer. But he smiled after a while. "You're right about one thing. I'm a useless piece of shit. Atleast I became."

"Look, I know you're wife must've left you, or you got kicked out of your job. That doesnt mean you jump off the roof. For god sakes man, get a life! Or atleast stop throwing yours away!" Martin snapped. He knew this was the wrong way to go about things. But he couldnt care. He was having a horrible week, and there was nothing comforting he could think of.

Joseph laughed. A long, hysterical laugh.

"My wife isnt going to leave me. We're supposed to celebrate our 30th anniversary tomorrow. And about my job? Within six months I'll be the Chief Financial Officer of the firm. So that's not my worry, buddy."

"Then what the hell is your problem?"

"The problem? A cake."

Martin had half a mind to get up and pound the useless buffoon in front of him. But something told him the man wasnt mad. There was a look in Joseph's eyes. It wasnt the look of delusion. It was the look of....disillusionment?

"You see, my wife Mary makes the best cake in the world. I mean it. In fact, she made the cake herself for our wedding. Man, I'm telling you, I'll never forget the taste of that cake. We've had it ever since, every year on 13th January. It's always been the same. We'd break a bottle of champagne, the kids would bring out the cake, and we'd have a wonderful evening together. Not this time, though.

"Yesterday, I had to work till 8 in the night. So I called Mary and told her I'd be coming home late. So she decided to take the help of our kids, Marshall and Lily, to make the cake. They went out to buy some stuff from the grocery, and were on their way back, when -" Joseph stopped, choking on his tears.

"When what?" Martin asked softly.

"When some drunk driver almost ran into their car on the freeway. Marshall swearved the car in order to avoid a collision. The road was wet or something, he lost control of the car. It slammed into the side railings of the road, and flipped over. Again, and again." Joseph's face was filled with bitterness. "Again, and again," he repeated.

He suddenly stopped talking, and looked up towards the sky.

"The last thing Marshall said to the nurse was 'Sorry'. Sorry for what, I asked myself today morning. Sorry for driving a car past a drunkard? Sorry for leaving me alone? Sorry for what?"

Martin didnt know what to say. His face had lost the look of authority and command. Instead, there was a paleness in his cheeks.

"So Officer, dont tell me to get a life. I just lost mine. I lost my wife who I loved for 30 long years. I lost both my children. Every evening I should return from work to an empty house. Every morning I should wake up, feeling the empty space in the bed next to me. Every single frickking day. Every single day..."

Joseph began weeping. He wept until his body slouched forward, and he rolled onto the ground. Martin knew what he had to do. In a quick motion, he placed a pair of cuffs onto Joseph's arms, and lifted him up slowly.

"Take the fellow to a hospital. And find out which Freeway his family was driving in last night," Martin said to Thomas, as he placed Joseph in the back of the police car.

"Do you know what drove me over the edge, officer?" Joseph asked, his voice dry and feeble. "Last night, I came home, and saw the kitchen was in a mess. The cake was half made, placed on top of the oven. There was no sugar left in the house. I guess that's why they went out to buy some. I'll never forget how my wife used to make those cakes, officer. I'll never forget..."

Joseph Peccard was admitted to the hospital. One week later, he returned to his work, apparently cured of his suicidal thoughts. As he entered his office, he found a note on the table.

"To Joseph Peccard,

I was the drunk driver who caused the deaths of your family members. I hope you will find peace and the will to forgive me. Because I cannot forgive myself.

Martin Spencer."

Three hours later, there was a large crowd outside the building. Someone had jumped off the roof. The fall had immediately killed the man.

The paramedics carried away the body of Detective Martin Spencer. Some deeds can be forgiven. Some, unfortunately, cannot be forgotten....

If you are a new reader to this blog, check the Top Rated Posts, as well as the Best Posts of 2008.

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17 August 2009

The Best of Laptop Diary - Part Two

This is a continuation of 'The Best of Laptop Diary'....

#10 : Think of Ajay
Perhaps it's because of the recent attacks on Mumbai, or perhaps it's because I havent been feeling especially humourous lately. What ever the reason, I've decided to ask you, and myself, a relatively tough question. What would you do, if you were in the position of Ajay?

Read this partly fictionalised story, inspired from a true event in Mumbai...(Continue Reading...)

#9 : My Family Pack
A few days ago, I called my buddy, only to find out that he was not at home. Over an hour later, I again called, and he pantingly answered the phone.

"Where on earth were you?" I asked, slightly annoyed.

"Dude, I was at the gym. Ghajini has really inspired me to work on my abs. I'm doing Ab Crunches every day..."

I did not know it then, but it was the beginning of a wonderful adventure...(Continue Reading...)

#8 : How I Got My Dimples
When I grow up, if I turn into a public speaker, I swear to God I will tell this story in front of every audience (and probably get a standing ovation for that as well!). What is the story? It's about how I got my dimples. One clue. I didnt have them on my 4th birthday. I had two of them on my 5th. Intrigued?

Let's go to the story, shall we? First the scene. It's a bathroom (hold on, you perverts. The bathroom door is open...). My Mother is bathing me (dont expect to tease me with this. Your Mom must've bathed you too when you were 5 years old.)(Continue Reading...) 

#7 : Black And White...Or Shades of Grey?
The class fell silent when John entered. It was always like that. No one spoke much in John's presence. After all, he was the infamous backbencher, the perinnial failure, the guy who dared to back answer teachers. Some even said he was a chain smoker. I didnt know what to believe. But one thing was for sure. John was a bad fellow.

A bad fellow. My cousin, who was studying in the same school as my senior, heard me mention about John one day. He laughed. "Funny how you treat life like a Lord of the Rings movie." He remarked. What do you mean?(Continue Reading...)

#6 : You Had A Bad Day?
It was one of those days when life seemed horrible in every possible way. About three months ago, I had a huge fight with a very close friend of mine. And like any other teenager, it affected me a lot. In fact, my entire day at school went bad. For some odd reason, there seemed to be no joy left in the world anymore.

As thought that wasnt enough, I got out of school, only to realise that my bus had left without me. How much more miserable could life get? Deciding that I needed to get home before I broke down and cried about my pitiful life, I walked towards the nearest bus stop.(Continue Reading...)

#5: The Mallu Who Lived

 I'm going to talk about the day that I almost died....

(All you cynical readers out there, dont rejoice yet. I said
almost. But not quite. I'm still alive and kicking...)

The day was a long time ago. Back then, I was a 5 or 4 year old kid, enjoying my time in India. When the action starts, I'm in the front porch of my house, jumping around, making odd noises, and you know, playing with my lips (that was my way of enjoying.) Just then, my Mom got hold of me, and gave me some cough syrus (for my cough, obviously.) She saw that I had some peanuts in my mouth, but didnt bother about it. I didnt either. I just continued jumping around and making noises. Little did I know that those peanuts would kill me....
almost.(Continue Reading...) 

#4 : Julius Caesar 1.5
Recently, I had a leg injury, which forced me to wear a plaster case (made out of fiber-glass, mind you!), everywhere I went.

As if this wasnt enough, I was also cast as Julius Caesar in the play..."Julius Caesar".

No, they didnt choose a limp to play the role intentionally. Which was why the Drama Teacher was visibly alarmed when he saw me limp into the practise hall, prepared with my dialogue.

"How long will it take for the plaster case to be removed?" He asked.

I told him excatly what my Doctor told me. "More than a week before the play is to be staged sir. There wont be a problem..."

Which set me thinking. What if there is a problem. What if I have to act, with the plaster case, and the fabulous limp? Well, then the play would have a few alterations, such as...(Continue Reading...)

#3 : Just A Bat And A Ball
My 11th Grade, Final exams are finally over. And since I'm assured of passing with decent marks, there was enough reason to smile. But something my friend said triggered this post.

As we were laughing in the bus, he remarked, "Dude, do you remember how it was for us at the beginning of 11th?"

I did remember. And it brought back a lot of memories...(Continue Reading...)

A few years ago,
I wanted to make,
A lofty card house,
Which would never break.

I placed one card,
On the marble floor,
After a while,
I placed one more.
(Continue Reading...)

#1: A Handful of Olives
Maryam believed in the story of olives. Even when her elder brother Jassim mocked her, the seven year old girl refused to change her opinion.

“So you’re telling me that olives can protect you from evil?” asked Jassim, his tone revealing his disbelief. Maryam nodded her head vigorously. “That’s what Grandmother used to say, wasn’t it? She said that if there was an olive tree outside our house, angels would guard us from all harm. And that whenever we were frightened, all we had to do was hold a handful of olives in our right hand. You heard her say all this, didn’t you?”

Jassim merely chuckled, and said nothing. He was smart enough not to believe in such stories. After all, he was almost 13 years old…(Continue Reading...)

This list was created by me, based on the no. of comments, and general level of feedback received from you guys. If you think differently about which post deserved #1, please do let me know. Maybe atleast that way we'll get a proper list. Thank you!

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14 August 2009

The Best of Laptop Diary - Part One

On August 18th, 2008, I published my first post on Laptop Diary. At that time, I never knew how long it would last. I never planned on what posts to write about, what topics to discuss. In fact, at that time, Laptop Diary was merely the product, of a lazy Summer afternoon. Four days from now, it'll be one year since that day when I published my first post. Before that though, I'd like to present the Best of Laptop Diary. After 12 months, and 85 posts, I've finally chosen the best 15 posts. Here they are...

What's wrong with my Hello?

Yup, I'd like to know that, thank you. At first I thought it was just some kind of a joke going around. But now I'm seriously taking up this issue.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's the details.

Like any active teenager, I receive phone calls from my friends. While attending those phone calls, I - as per 21st century protocol - start by saying, "Hello." (Continue Reading...)

#14 : Me And My Decisions
I have a story to tell,
One that you should listen,
It's not about a boy and a girl,
It's about me and my decisions.

I was once like you,
With absolutely nothing to do,
Except carry a schoolbag on my shoulder,
And a cap on my head...(Continue Reading)

#13 : Once Upon A Time, When I Was Cute 
Now don't laugh at the title. It's true. Once upon a time, I was cute. But I've grown older, more rugged now. Too much time in the sun, too much time in the kitchen....all have made me loose my cuteness. I wouldn't have complained about it, if it wasn't for an annoying picture. The picture of my 5 year old self. (Continue Reading...)

#12 : He Came, He Taught, He Inspired
I still remember the first time he came into my class. The bell had just rung, and we were practicing our customary stretching, when the door swung open. Before I could see who had entered, a figure passed through the side of the class, reached the front, threw his pink purse onto the table, and pulled off the cap from his marker pen.

Then, just as half of us realized that a teacher had entered, he wrote down the subject title on the board. Turning around to survey us, he uttered, "Yes, Sit Down." (Continue Reading...)

 #11 : The Story of Rajeev And Faisal
 It was that time of the year when every school in the city was busy hosting farewell parties for its outgoing batch. Our school was no different. In fact, the hype surrounding the farewell party was immense. It was all because of the Student Awards.

The Student Awards were a set of Awards given by the management of the school, as a token of appreciation to certain students. There was the "Best Outgoing Student Award", "Most Popular Student" award, and so on. But the most loved award, was the "Best Duo Award". And this year, the winners were a sure fire bet. Rajeev and Faisal.(Continue Reading...)

Please let me know your opinion about these posts. And the rest of the countdown will continue tomorrow. And yes, it wouldn't be fair to end without saying, Thank You. For the comments, for the support, and for all the encouragement. And yes, as always, be generous with the comments, will you?

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12 August 2009

Wanted : A Loving Family

"Dude, let me help you. What's wrong? You've been quiet the whole evening. That's not like you, John. Now tell me, what's the matter?"

I watched as John hesitated. I had a reputation for solving problems. It was a reputation I enjoyed. It felt nice being able to help others. And if there was anyone who needed help right now, it was John. He had accepted my invitation to spend the Eid holidays with my family, since his parents were still in the United States on a visit. He had been excited about it. That is, till he reached my house. From then onwards, he was quiet.

"You really want to know?" he asked me.

"Yes, I do."

"What if you cant help me? That'd make you feel bad, wouldnt it?" He smiled wryly. John knew me well.

"Cmon man. Just tell what's bothering you."

"Do you know where my parents are now?" John asked.

"Yah, they're in the US, right?"

"Yes. Do you know why they're there? Because they're visiting their family friends. That's what the counsellor asked them to do. To resolve their problems or something like that."


"Yup. Marriage counsellor. They're planning to get a divorce. I'm not surprised. If you'd spent a week in my house, you'd pay them to get a divorce. All this wouldnt have bothered me. I mean, I never had a loving family. My Dad never bought me a present on my birthday. Atleast he's out of town, so that's an excuse. My Mom's worse. She doesnt even bother to remember when it's my birthday. But you know why I'm thinking of all that now? Because, because I see how it's with you."

"With me?" I asked incredulously. I didnt understand what he was saying.

Just then my cousin brother knocked on the door. It was time for lunch, he said. As I got up, John moved towards the door. Before leaving, he turned around and said: "If you dont like your friends, you can drop your friendship. You can find new friends. You can choose whom to like, and whom to avoid. But with family - with family, you get just one chance. What do you do if that chance gets ruined?"

Eid Day Lunch was a festivity in my house. The table was surrounded by my father, mother, two sisters, my uncle, aunt, two cousins, another uncle, John and myself. As could be expected, there was a lot of talking, teasing and laughing. Plates were distributed, dishes were moved around. Everyone helped everyone else. Long stories were told. Jokes were cracked. The ladies blushed, the men shouted in mock anger.

For the first time perhaps, it all made sense to me. I could sense the love between everyone seated at the table. The witty repartee between me and my cousins; the way my mother told embarrasing stories about my childhood. Memories were brought back from years gone by; the table was filled not just with food, but a deep sense of happiness and satisfaction. It was one of the best lunches I ever had.

Later that evening, when everyone was out in the courtyard, having tea, John sat besides me. "So, what's your solution?" he asked. I had thought of it all along. What can we do if we have families where there isnt any peace, let alone love between one another? What can we do if our brother or sister, father or son, never give us the respect and happiness we deserve? I think he already knew what I was about to say.

"I dont know the solution, John," I said, perhaps for the first time ever. I looked at his face, a plastic smile hiding his emotions. At that moment I knew. The lunch we had, was one of the most painful experiences for John. It made him realise just what he was missing.

If you dont like your friends, you can drop your friendship. You can find new friends. You can choose whom to like, and whom to avoid. But with family - with family, you get just one chance. What do you do if that chance gets ruined?

"I dont know what the solution is..." I repeated again, more to myself, than to him.

[More than a thought, this post is intended to be a discussion. Please let me know what you're answer to John's question would have been. If you know anyone who feels the same way as John, please ask them to comment as well. If needed, please post the comments as Anonymous. This story is fictional, but as with all my posts, it's inspired from real life.]

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08 August 2009

Blogger's Block....

For the past one week, there's a ritual I've followed strictly. Every morning, after crawling out of bed, I'd make my way to the computer, and visit Laptop Diary. No, not to egoistically admire my own little blog. But rather, to see the date of the last post. And as of writing this post, its been 14 days since my last (some blatantly labelled, filler) post. And thankfully, just like any blogger would want it, the absence was noticed.

Of course, not everyone knew the right reason for it though. My teacher referred to it as a symptom of typical teenage problems. Most of you'll get what I mean. Well, that's not the case. Then what is it? Well, I believe there's a phrase for it. Blogger's Block.

It's a nasty little problem, Blogger's Block. Well, its symptoms are fairly recognisable. Lack of original ideas, difficulty in forming proper sentences, redundancy in thought ('I think I should write about life.....no wait, I should write about...Life!'), and a general lack of willingness to write anything at all.

And why does this happen? Believe me, if I knew that, I'd probably know the cure as well. One of my friends asked me why  I wasnt posting regularly. And I gave the generally egoistic sounding answer, "Because I dont want to write a lot of sub standard posts. Each post should have quality; a proper standard." By his smirk, I figured he wasnt a fan of Laptop Diary.

Then there came a point where I literally stopped hiding behind excuses. After my father showed me a newspaper clipping. It was about a lady in Kerala, who was completely paralyzed, save for three fingers. And the news is? She just finished writing a book. As amazing as it sounds, she wrote for one hour a day. And finally completed the book.

I stared at the photo of the lady, lying on her stomach, holding a pen with her three fingers. She had a genuine smile on her face. And she had a copy of the book she just wrote.

That's when I walked up to my computer again. Maybe I might not post for three weeks again. Maybe I'll fill your inbox with subscriber emails. What ever it maybe, I'll try. I'm not sure, but after reading that newspaper clipping, I think I just found the cure for my Blogger's Block...

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