To do that ... I happen to write!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Eye to Eye

Heard of 'Body Language' anytime? Atleast all those people who have prepared for an interview must have! It's difficult to maintain eye contact with the interviewer while processing all the questions they keep throwing at you (as processing facial expressions requires a lot of brain effort!)

Anyways. I am not talking about that. Here's what I am talking about:

So this other day I was walking with my friends in Connaught Place (CP). Two of us had fallen in steps behind the other two, when suddenly a nice lady walked past me. Out of nowhere I decided to do an experiment. I called one of the two people walking in front of us; our eyes met and suddenly I directed my eye to the lady in between us two. Almost as if my eyes controlled his motor neurons - he looked where my eyes were pointing: right into the face of a total (beautiful) stranger at a distance of ...

This event, in the chill of Delhi winters, rekindled my interest in this field. Here are some good references to get you started:
  1. Pauk Ekman - Emotions Revealed (Awesome book, thanks to my Prof. RBN!)
  2. Malcom Gladwell - Blink (thanks to my birthday gift by chemical engineer)
Please do refer to me if there are any other good books you've read on this subject

I wrote a small term paper (with Menu) last year on Non Verbal Communication. As novice as I might be - let me know if you need a copy :)

Here's a part from the paper which I particularly like:

Some aspects of facial expressions are hard to fake, for e.g. the raised inner corners of eyebrows which come with real sadness (Ref: Emotions Revealed, Paul Ekman)

Friday, 10 December 2010

You've an exam tomorrow - Yes!

A friend finds himself totally irritated by his roommate's apparently insensible desire to complete the book Catch 22 in one night, and tries to beat him down sarcastically; only to be boomeranged. Here's how it began:

"[You read like] You have an exam of this book tomorrow..."


"You have an exam tomorrow!!!"


"What is this exam about?"

"This book"

"The book you are reading?"




"You have an exam of this book"


"What is this exam about"

"This book"

"How can it be possible!!! When is the exam?"

"2:30 PM"

"I mean, seriously?"


"You have an exam of this book tomorrow?"


"How do you know!"

"You told me"

"I never told you. I was asking you"

"Yes, I am telling you"


"That you told me"

"I asked you!"

"Yes, and I have told you"

"Ok, let me get this straight - you have an exam tomorrow on this book tomorrow at 2:30 PM"


"What are they going to ask you"

"How can I know!"

"I mean, what will happen as a result of you giving this exam"

"I don't know"

"You don't know!"


"Then who knows?"


"How can I know?"

"You told me"

"I didn't tell you, I asked you"

"Yes, I am telling you"

"Agrhhhh....ok so who is conducting this exam"

"I don't know"

"You don't know!"


"Then who knows"


"Oh my God, how can I know!"

"I don't know"

"You're are lying"

"You're lying"

"About what?"

"That I am lying"

"Agrhhhhh, so it's true that you've an exam tomorrow on this book"


"How can I be sure that you're not lying"

"You told me"

"Ok, don't try to act smart - I did not tell you about anything, I asked you"

"Yes, I am telling you"

"I don't understand - for the last time - You have an exam tomorrow on this book at 2:30 PM?"


"It's so weird, why would there be an exam on this book"


"I think you are lying to me"

"I think you are lying to me"

"About What"

"That I am lying to you"


"Because I am telling you what you told me"

"What the hell did I tell you?"

"About the exam"

"For the last time, I asked you!"

"Yes, and I am telling you"

"Ok - finally: you've an exam tomorrow on this book?"


"Oh, ok then I should stop disturbing you. All the best"


An Excerpt:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.


However the two things are almost, but not quite, entirely unrelated. While the conversation is based on exaggerated linguistic ambiguity coupled with some brutal lies from one side and an overtly feeling of trust and compliance from the other; the novel is based on what I can loosely call as logical ambiguity.

Even if the above interpretation is false, to make any sense at all of the post you have to think it's about Catch 22 when clearly it's not. However, as soon as you stop thinking that it's about Catch 22 it makes stops making any sense at all!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Who's Legendary?

Probably and sadly both will vanish into oblivion soon, but what is to be seen is that who's going to be legendary in times to come. Hope it's the real one.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Words Words Words

I found this on an old torn paper - I am guessing that I wrote this while attending a lecture in my college...

Words, Words, Words
They fly by
Words, Words, Words
My head sighs

Words, Words, Words
Like a screeching nail on the glass
Words, Words, Words
Like a jingle out of its own class

Words, Words, Words
You think you are like a Rhapsody
Words, Words, Words
But let me tell you, you are nothing but noddy

Words, Words, Words
I yawn, I cry
Words, Words, Words
I fear, if I hear, I might die

Words, Words, Words
Please stop them
Words, Words, Words
Banish, burn them

Words, Words, Words
Oh God, why
Words, Words, Words
Given by thy
Words, Words, Words
Witchy, wicked, sly!

For additional scintilla: let me quote Shakespeare -

"What do you read, my lord?"
"Words, words, words"

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Emotional Baggage

The feeling of not being able to help your friend beyond a point

The feeling of telling lies when you don't want to

The feeling of being lied to, on your face

The feeling of not being able to sit for hours over coffee with people you want to

The feeling of doing what you don't want to, and not doing what you want to

The feeling of not being able to pray at the start of the end and at the end of it

The feeling of not being able to tell people what you want to, when you want to

The feeling of not being able to cry alone, or in front of anyone


However, the quote of the day goes to an old journal entry of mine:

It's pointless to feel pointless


Thursday, 11 November 2010

In Brevity, for clarity - I Love You

All these years
Through joys and tears
I always thought of you
I knew not, what was it
(And then I discovered)

Now in brevity
for the sake of clarity
I Love you

Friday, 22 October 2010

Did curiosity really kill the cat?

So this is the 8th flight I am talking in my life. Which is too small a number. I know. But today's flight is different. Because it's delayed by 2.5 hours. But as my team member put it - every adversity is an opportunity (to which someone added - for someone else).

Anyways, so I spend first 1 hour walking up and down the length of the Airport, admiring the shine at the Swarovski, or looking at the people getting massage, browsing books (and finally picking up Nano Story), trying to drink water from spooky water taps and so on...

Then I came across this Lifebuoy ad saying keep you hand here to make it germ free - I was like awesome - I was pretty excited; how does this thing work - is it instant dryer or something - what is it? I thought of putting my hand under it. But just couldn't. I was standing bang in the middle of the crowded airport. I thought if I place my hand under it and some soapy thing came - I would look stupid. I kept shuffling around that place looking greedily at the thing, but did not put my hand under it. And then as I was standing and still debating - a small girl came by - put her hand under it - pressed some buttons and moved away. I stood there dumbstruck...

I realized that being care free was something that keeps vanishing from our life as we keep growing up.

Now while traveling to the airport - I went to the last seat of Innova - pulled out my shoes, and slept. Without caring for even a second how would it look to other 3 team members traveling in the same cab...The thought did not even cross my mind. I was just too tired to care. But I am sure other senior members would not have done something like that!

I think as we keep growing it is going to be a hard nut to crack - not looking childish and still being able to be care free, still being able to take leaps of faith, still disbelieving that curiosity killed a cat and believing that curiosity invented the plane!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A Touch of Narmada

ma rewa.......
ma rewa tharo paani nirmal ...............khal khal behto jaaye re

Amarkanth se nikli O rewa
jann jann kari rayo thaari sewa
sewa se sab pawe mewa,
aso ved puran batayo re

ma rewa.......
ma rewa tharo paani nirmal ...............khal khal behto jaaye re

The Indian Ocean song incessantly played in my head as we lazily rowed in the mighty Narmada. The Sun was near the water, and the nets of fishermen were gleaming golden. The oar was making gentle splashing sound as Narmada Shankar Kevat steered us a little far from the shore. In the far distance some motor boats carried other tourists; but my heart was more than joyous having found a lone boat which hadn’t put motor behind its back!

The 1.5 km broad stretch of the river at Maheshwar is probably the broadest the river ever gets through its course from east of India to the west, before submerging itself unto the Arabian sea. Narmada is 5th largest river in Indian Subcontinent and its over 1000 kms of stretch in M.P. feeds innumerous rich farms along the way. No wonder the river holds a devotional value attached to it since the ancient times.

There was a girl, Roomati, who used to sing beautifully. When Baz Bahadur, the then emperor of Mandu heard her voice – he invited her to adorn his royal court and live there. But Roomati, a firm devotee of Narmada, put forth a condition: only if she gets to see Narmada every day, she would join the court. Baz Bahadur then built a palace for her at the capital - Mandu, 55 kms away from Maheshwar from where she could see the Narmada; and pray every day.

As her fame grew, the praise of her voice soon reached Akbar. He asked Baz Bahadur to send Roomati to adorn his court; an offer to which Baz Bahadur responded by asking Akbar to visit Mandu whenever he wished to listen to Roomati. Scorned, Akbar retaliated by marching to Mandu with 40,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 horsemen. The great fort of Mandu, 2nd largest in India - immensely strategic for being built over a raised plateau and covered by ravines from all sides was breached. Result: Baz Bahadur fled, Roomati died a royal death by drinking poison (the thought of separation from Narmada was unbearable to her) and all that Akbar dreamed of before the battle was lost during the battle – forever. Yet again a woman caused a great many things which were to be remembered for long.

I put my hand in the Narmada, folding them as if praying to Allah to draw out a handful of water. I poured back the water against the gleam of the Sun, my head filled with chants and bells which spoke of the centuries of cultural and devotion attached to the river as the last golden drops left my fingers...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Where we begin, Where we End

This has been on my mind since a really long time...

Generally when any new thing is started, it is started with a vision. A vision to radically transform something, or to take new strides in some direction. A lot of enthusiasm is build around it and most of the people find that this is really the answer to all the woes.

Then gradually over the years the 'thing' expand. New members are added, old members leave; some new cultural wave hits the ground in the meanwhile, but nevertheless the 'thing' continues to expand and grow battling all the teething and non-teething troubles.

After some decades the 'thing' has really grown into a huge proportion and it does a lot of work and has lot of people working for it. And then one day the original founder who has long gone away, died perhaps gets to see the entire 'thing' and he looks at all the glitter and vast expanses of land, people and geographies his vision has been able to cover; his heart is glad except for one stabbing pain...

The vision is lost...

IIT, TCS, UN, Toyota: I leave you to guess which 'things' fit into this example, and which are contrary to it...

The quote of the weekend was stated by Harshit whistle gossiping away on my roof on a drizzly night:

If you can't measure it you can't improve it

Monday, 23 August 2010

Obscuring the Truth: Good or Bad? (Environmental Courses @ IIT Delhi)

Even as I remember the times of July-November 2009, I cannot forget the course RDL340

I did this course as a part of compulsory Environmental Course which we had to do, and even though a recent RTI filed at IIT has revealed that it was NOT compulsory, I am not regretting.

Among all the talks about sustainable living, Gaia theory (shown in AVATAR!), bamboo housing - there was an intangible element of the course which has left a deep imprint in my heart: In every class the first 5 mins were reserved for meditation. Yes. At the start of the class everyone would close their eyes and meditate for 5 mins. Despite some nonsensical giggle it felt wonderful.

At the start of meditation, my mind would suddenly begin racing in all directions, all sorts of thoughts about life, death and universe would come up in rapid succession - reach a pinnacle and start to fade away. By the end of 5 minutes my mind would become blank like a sea after storm, fresh to concentrate on what I was going to hear next. Felt like being back in Gurkul days!

However, finding out the fact that we were duped into doing environmental courses (for 06, and 07 entry students -enviro courses were NOT COMPULSORY!) felt bad and the first question which came to my mind was: why the world is so busy in obscuring the truth?

Interestingly enough, as I gather from the mail forwarded to me: even the AIC confirmed that it was compulsory doing such courses.

My guess is that we don't have courage to fight for the truth so we find it more convenient to hide it, or twist it ~ it might do more good than bad in select cases, but definitely obscuring truth does not help society achieve utopia!

And accordingly the quote of the weekend is:

"He that would keep a secret, must keep it secret that he has a secret to keep"
- Sir Humphrey, Yes Minister

Monday, 16 August 2010

When the Week Ends...

...and you are still working, is something which draws the maximum number of sighs, especially from your own heart.

So I reached home on Friday night working till 8 in the morning (and unprofessionally sleeping for 2 hours in b/w when the sleep just took over w/o any warning signals!)

But by and by the next day had welcoming rains in store, dancing in which made me wonder if Sony and Cos are designing some walkman which can be plugged in during rain; and if Penguin Publishers are coming out soon with their titles in paper which doesn't get wet in rain (I just didn't feel like saying plastic!). Imagine sitting on the roof of your house, or balcony for that sake; or better even in the nearby garden among the sweet smelling grass, listening to your favorite music, reading a novel which has totally gripped you; and it raining like cats and dogs all around you - and the best part: over you!

Eventually I gathered some sleep and hopped on to play football with kids in the garden, soon realizing how important was winning in games when I was a child: and how important was to fight for every foul, every rule, every thing which was debatable under the roof and which was not; and that to some extent winning and doing all those things is still important, but I chose to instead let the bunch of kids do their job!

Peepli Live could have been more impactful, but nevertheless it was good; however, I found a more intriguing subject: in my reading of Gita! And it starts with the question: is the war depicted in it for real, or allegorical?

However the quote of the weekend goes out and out to Nehru:

"The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.
We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be."

- Tryst with Destiny: Midnight of 14th August 1947

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Emperors of Chocolate

Candy is not a necessity. It’s a treat. A delight. A frivolous indulgence.So intoxicating, so intense, so opulent, it penetrates the taste buds and heads straight for the brain.

Read Joel Brenner's The Emprors of Chocolate. Not only it is a fantastic, and never been told before account of 2 chocolate gians: Mars and Hersheys, it is also a mouth watering delight.

The contrast drawn between the Hersheys and Mars is visible at every point, except for how long they took to become successful. Milton Hershey: 17 years, Forest Mars: 21 years.

The book is studded with core management pricipals of Hershey's and Mars, and the style of working on their top management. And I am sure that many of these pricipals will remain etched in your memory a long time after you've read the book; I list a few here:

  • Both Hersheys and Mars started their day at 4:30 in the morning. Most of the new product ideas were born then.
  • Being first is the key: if you ain't first, why bother?
  • Product should be sole focus: that is what customers buy
  • You can't shoot where the duck is: you've to shoot where the duck is going to be
  • To do a business: you need to know how to make a product

‘Chemically speaking, what makes chocolate so unique and irresistible is that its melting point it slightly below body temperature’ ‘ Cocoa butter dissolves first and distributes the rest of the chocolate ingredients over the taste buds in quick succession starting with sugar’

Must Read!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Goa Diaries: Beach Football

In the morning, it was time for frisbee. Two of us made good company as I explored various facets of frisbee in sharp sea winds; and miserably failed in making sense of any new styles.

At the end of the evening when the water had just started to turn grey, I again made my way to the beach: however, this time I was along with 10 other people and now was time for some football. There is no better place to play football then on the beach during low tide. Even grass field is no comparison. The sand which had sea upon it only a few hours ago is smooth and clayish which allows rapid speed of game; and it is soft enough that if you fall on it during a rough header – you fall with a soft thud.

And there, as a part of the shirtless team, I scored a goal; and there has been no goal I have ever scored in a more pleasant wind than the one which I scored then. Infact, I have never been injured without a hint of pain, as happened then (which suddenly brought the game to a halt). Even though my entire toe was smeared in thin red coating of blood, shining against the background of sparkling sand; and apparently my toe-nail had been broken - there was no pain. As if the winds kissed my toe to make the pain go away. Some Savlon and cotton later, I was ready to head to the swimming pool. It partially satiated my craving to swim in the sea, which was forbidden (it’s monsoon!).

It rained pretty much the whole of the day which followed, and even from a distance we could hear the sea gurgling. By the time it was evening the rain stopped and the sky cleared out for the first time (and the last time) of my week in Goa. There was nothing much to be done the whole night, except working towards the case presentation in the morning; nevertheless I managed to steal an hour to swim, including a little time for a steaming Jacuzzi.

The fourth day of my stay in Goa saw the end of my training and beginning of the party and guess how did it start: by listing down the agenda and time schedules for the next three days (welcome to the world of structure). At around midnight we went to the beach which looked even more mysterious in the weak drizzle. The sand was just perfect for making some castles and royal bridges and so on, much jibed by my colleagues. While coming back we had to take cover under umbrellas for it had started to rain hard, and it was then that we understood the real worth of IIT education. So this is what followed: Harsh winds made the umbrella in my hand wobble and go sideways as a result of which it flipped and its shape changed from convex to concave when seen from the top side. And thus the aeronautical engineer from IIT Bombay stepped up and displayed a fine display of his engineering abilities, by trying to push the cloth of umbrella against the wind to get it back into the shape. We made him stand apart and watch how by pointing the umbrella against the wind we could automatically get it back into its original shape, much to his dismay and embarrassment.

Next evening was time for some serious football: with almost 14 people a side trying to score goal in a goalpost half the size (in all 3 dimensions) of a normal goalpost. It was raining, there were mud pools in the grass as a result of which the ground became amazingly slippery. And then we were playing without our shoes. The amount of times when people tried to take just that extra step to reach the ball and ended up with their back on the ground and legs in the air, and an expression of how did I fall smirked on their faces. The amount of time when it was just an attacker and a goalkeeper and all that the attacker ended up doing was to fall on his 2 feet, 2 hands and his poor back. The amount of time when people tried to jump attempting a header and instead ended up being in a pile of similar people was all too scary and funny at the same time. With some sheer luck I was in the team which had some amazing strikers and defenders, and with some similar sheer luck I was present near the goal post (and so were around 20 odd people), and on sensing something about to happen I ran towards the goalpost and just when I was trying to stop to see where the ball was, I found it passed in front of my legs: And that all I had to do was to extend the leg without falling, and that I did that and thus scored the first goal for our team. Soon enough we scored another 4 goals and had a lead of 5-0. Some players changed and suddenly the defense of the other team became too strong, in fact on one occasion our midfielder tried to pass a long ball into the D but the ball found one of their bulky defenders right on his legs, and such was the power of shot that the ball again returned to the midfielder who again took a shot and it again hit the defender squarely on his legs and again returned to the midfielder who again took a shot and again found the same defender and the same portion of his legs but this time ball went out of the ropes. A little later, the game ended and we won 5-2.

After football, I decided to spend an hour walking far and wide on the beach; and for the first time - all alone. The sea had receded far-far back; so I traveled a good distance before I reached the waters. There were huge waves rising just near the shore; but in totality it was so quite that if you didn’t look towards the sea, you wouldn’t even believe that there was a sea which you were standing besides. If you ever felt weird on seeing a great storm outside your glass pane but not being able to hear it because of the glass pane: it was exactly the same feeling, except that there was no pane which made the entire thing weird.

The waves curled unto a great height and crashed: and yet they made no noise. It was absolutely silent. It was tickling to look at the sky, wondering about the thick cloud cover, closing my eyes and feelings the breeze, and just looking away from the sea towards the pine trees; and suddenly feeling the water go under my feet with such speed that it made the tickle travel up my body and suddenly throw my shoulders into awry.

That night the party had just begun...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Goa Diaries: A first look

As we dipped from the clouds, from a land above to a land beyond, lush green land space captured my eyes. For miles and miles there were big bright trees, shimmering emerald green under thin rays of sunlight in the otherwise overcast landscape; with thick undergrowth of fauna around them. The sight of small houses proved to be a great relief from the otherwise accustomed but inherently alien sights of concrete societies. As we moved along a jet speed and sharply curved about a point, planning to land; there presented itself the enchanting sea, in its majestic beauty, incomprehensible to men. The waves of dull blue ocean frolicked before breaking in white manes on the white sandy beaches running all along where I could steal a look. It was just like my dream; and I promised myself to go to the beach as often as possible.

Goa: The tourist destination of India. The land of palm trees, luscious beaches and inebriated night outs for college crowd.

The first opportunity to go to the beach presented itself at the end of the day when the night was still young; and the moon was hid behind the dark clouds hovering over the entire landscape. At night the wind was in full flow as if determined to seduce the weary people resting on the beach to the sea; bringing forth its smell and tales of the magical waves and tides. The water was calm, but as the case often is: it looked dark and magical; calling so strongly that it was better to stay away.

The sea of morning was much more serene and calm in appearance. Thick black clouds still hung in the sky, but in any case the day gradually dawned and it looked as if the world had woken up from a dream. The water of the sea was dark green, and it had already rolled back to a great extent from the previous night.

The entire sand was filled with crabs and the beach had eagles hunting for them, crows beaking them, locals digging them up and we picturing them disappearing fast into the sand as the water tried to wash them back into the sea. There were enormous amounts of star fish washed away at the shore, some covered in mud and presented themselves with a distinct outline of a star, while those which could be seen were white, and had a brown line running over all there star-legs, as if stitched with brown thread. There were also shells, and it was the first time I saw shell which actually contained an oyster in them, and there were several shells which had just been emptied, and were still slimy. For no particular reason, I washed them in the gush of water and kept them in my pocket.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Nue Ness


has no concept of streetlights. Even on the best roads, where people can drive over 80KMPH there are no streetlights.

has amazingly rich population who would invest their money and brains in everything except in keeping their locality clean. Littering is the way of life here.

has no place for people who would rather walk on their 2 feet (forget lesser numbers). If you have a car you can venture out. Else call a cab @ 15Rs/km. Else stay put. There are no autos. And yes the daily parking fees at my office building is Rs 100/- so I would rather think twice about taking my car. So, tell me, how do people live here?

has scarcity of good markets. One of my seniors summed it up, "Even if you want to buy a pencil, you've to [lewd annotation] go to a mall"

Other Nue Things:

To get a gas connection, you've to make an affidavit. To make an affidavit you've to get a stamp paper. Stamp papers are kept at court. But when you go to court they tell you there are no stamp papers there, you can get them from tehsil (and obviosuly they can bring it for you at some additional charges). And then, profusely sweating when you reach back to the gas agency: you find out that there is a waiting for 5-6 months to get a connection. You don't want to club anyone, 'cept self.

Flat hunting a fairly interesting and involved process. So is buying vegetables. The worst thing you can do in both the cases is to believe in one vendor and stick to him. The best thing you can do is to visit as many vendors as possible. Atleast if it's your first time.

Driving a 23 year old car is perilious.

Cornflakes + Chilled Milk + Straberries + Mango + Banana + Cashew + Almonds + Pistachio - Sugar = Quick, Awesome and healthy.

Did you know toned milk has less protein and calcium than both full cream and double toned milk?

Without familiar people, a visit to college looks so alien.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

In the house of Marwas

Out he ran, jumping over the stooping crowd gathered in the basement, up the stairs and towards the front gate, between the legs of the stick wielding villagers leaving them frozen in their spots, their mouths wide open, amidst the laughter of children who had lined up on the balconies of houses that overlooked Marwas house. Radha fainted...again.

Earlier, in the morning...

For Radha, everything so far in the day had been routine. She got up in time to see the setting moon which looked like a careless white blot on a blue painting, took a bath, put somber smelling rose powder over her neck and dragged her children out of their bed, acting stone cold to their cajoling cries. Soon she packed their breakfast and saw Vikram and Shyama cycle their way to school.

Soon after seeing her children off to school, Radha started preparing lunch for the men in the family. Vikram’s father and his 2 brothers ate their early lunch consisting of 6-8 ghee (Indian butter) laden Chapatis each, along with green beans and yellow pulse boiled in desi ghee and stirred in a curry of spices, finishing their meal with 2-3 desi ghee ladoo’s. After their meal, each of them headed off to raise the shutters of their respective shops. With all that ghee, it was not a wonder that Radha’s household was one of the most affluent in the village.

Soon the wives of her brothers-in-law too left for their session of morning gossip at the temple, leaving Radha alone with her mother-in-law in their enormous house which could comfortably fit 50 people, if need be. What followed afterwards was also routine: just as every other day, Radha’s mother-in-law nagged her on trivial matters: a single dirty spot on floor or a utensil which did not shine like a mirror. Today Radha’s mother in law’s third eye was fixated over the fact that the stairs leading from ground floor to first floor were covered in dust. With a cement factory barely 3 miles from the village - there was neverending dust in the air and house required to be dusted daily! But then the maid had just dusted those stairs a few hours ago! In early days of marriage, Radha would frequently be reduced to hysterical sobs on facing such tantrums; but over the course of 10 years – she had become accustomed to it.

Radha screamed back at her mother-in-law saying that dust was in her mind and not on the stairs, but nevertheless picked up the broom. After having swept off the dust, she mopped her brow, adjusted her saree, and started to climb back up when she noticed that the door to the basement was open.

This is new’, she thought. From what Radha had heard from her husband: basement of the house acted as a storehouse for gold and cash. Lots of gold and cash. And before she knew, her feet took her through the door and down the stairs … to the basement.

The entire basement, including the stairs was covered in a fine sheet of dust, with plentiful of spider webs hanging at all corners. Even in the piping hot weather, the basement was cold, damp and mostly black. The only rays of light that came were through the door on the top of the stairs.

Initially groping, then squinting, and finally becoming accustomed to the darkness of the basement: she saw 2 rooms standing side by side, a little away from the stairs. One room appeared to be secure with a huge padlock on its gate while the door of the other room was slightly ajar.

As she cautiously approached the open room, she heard a faint noise – almost like the sound of someone breathing. Her heart started beating faster. She stopped, intently trying to listen. But she heard the noise no more, infact, her entire head was filled with the noise of her own wild heart beat. Her good sense told her to leave but an overwhelming feeling came over her to just have a look into the open room. She shrugged her fears, and telling herself to be brave she took another few steps. Then, only half-an-arms length away from the door she again heard a noise, and this time there was no mistaking it. There was a clear sound of breathing in short gasps. A terror seized her body, her large black eyes grew to frightening proportions as all color was drained from her small and beautiful face. She stood frozen, expecting a sharp knife to appear anytime from the dark, slitting her throat.

Suddenly something metallic, perhaps an empty tin can fell and made a lot of noise. Almost on an impulse, Radha lunged forward, bolted the door and dashed towards the stairs. As she ran over the stairs, she stepped over her own saree, tripped and fell with a soft thud on the stairs. But without a moment’s delay she got up and ran out of the basement: blood oozing from her forehead, near her right eyebrow; shouting chor chor (thief - thief), puffing large amounts of dust – she still ran, out of her house in the streets: still crying chor chor...

Then, in the afternoon...

It was exasperatingly hot, but nevertheless almost the entire nearby village had gathered in, or near the house of Marwas by 12:30 PM, only half an hour after Radha went off crying chor chor and collapsed in the street. At the start, her neighbors thought it was a result of some interesting (and big, and bloody) fight between Radha and her mother-in-law, but when they heard that there was a thief, bolted in the basement of the house of Marwas: they became even more excited.

The news spread even faster than the usual: with eager kids running in the streets, shouting ‘Marwa ka ghar pe chor karma mein band – Radha ne chor pakdiyo’ (Radha locks a thief in the house of Marwas) and so on. And soon, around 50 men, bearing thick and strong bamboo sticks lined up in the house of Marwas: those who were near in relation to Marwas were allowed in the basement while other waited up on the large veranda on the ground floor. Some men were tensed as if the entire thing could result in their premature death, while some were excited hoping that it would be some rewarded thief they would catch, while some were clearly enjoying the get together talking to others, exchanging the news of the village, and sipping tea. Women and children lined up in the balconies of the three storied house of Marwas, or on the houses overlooking the house of Marwas. In all there were nearly 100 men, women and children gathered to catch the cornered thief.

A few men cautiously approached the door and tried to listen. There was absolutely no noise. They called the thief to come out. No answer. They told him that he was cornered and that there was no escape. No answer. They rechecked with Radha, but she was absolutely sure that there was a thief inside the room. Now that she had told everyone how she single handedly wrestled the knife-bearing thief and pushed the strong and hefty man inside the room, and had won accolades for it – there was no going back. And of course there was a thief inside.

The men banged the gates for one last time. Still - no answer. 30 minutes of inaction had made the whole scene soporific. Some men even dozed off while standing – taking rest on their sticks. Thus the gate was slowly unbolted. All the torches and lanterns blazed their light onto the gate. Murmurs arose among the crowd. And then the door was pushed open. The lights poured in – but there was nothing to be seen. Yet.

Just as the men were preparing to peep inside the room - Out he ran, jumping over the stooping crowd gathered in the basement, up the stairs and towards the front gate, between the legs of the stick wielding villagers leaving them frozen in their spots, their mouths wide open, amidst the laughter of children who had lined up on the balconies of houses that overlooked Marwas house.

When people inside the house of Marwas came to terms with what had happened, the grimness of the previous moment turned into an uncontrollable state of laugher, with 100 men, women and children laughing their lungs out – till their stomach started twisting and tears flew thick out of their eyes. They would stop for a moment, only to resume laughing again – taking hold of whatever was near to them: bed, wall, a person. Infact, most of the people sat down because they could not bear laughing so much while standing up.

Amidst all this Radha fainted.

Even today, 20 years after the actual incident – you can go to the Khajaria village, 30 km to the west of Sirohi in Rajasthan, India, and ask for the story of the so-called Thief that ran out of the house of Marwas, and expect a laughing delight shared over a cup of tea...

Ghana saal pehle, marwa ke ghar mein
Radha ne pakdiyo chor
ikhatta kiya aakha gaon ne
Ne Nikloyo ek akela kutto, navra kaam ko atro shor...

Years ago, in the house of Marwas
Radha caught hold of a thief
Shouted she, and along came the entire village
Only to see, running out, a hapless dog...

It was much ado about nothing...