Saturday, November 6, 2010

Celebrations



This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 16; the sixteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.



Sidra.

It couldn’t be. Not here, not now, not any more.

Yet, there it was. Scrawled in yellow chalk across the entrance to the bistro. Just the one word. The one word that had once meant the world to him, the one word that had nearly emptied the world when he tried not to recall it.

All that he remembered of her was that he did not remember her. And that was just how he wanted it. That was how he had wanted it when he succumbed to the convenient distraction of a long overdue vacation. And that was how he wanted it now.

Or so he told himself. He had gone to great pains to pick the sun-drenched slopes of Asturias for this getaway from her and their world. It was the ideal vacation spot, without any mode of connectivity with the world-no telephones, no computers, no television. And it was the complete anti-thesis of the destination they had always wanted for their own first vacation. Spain was as warm and mellow as Scotland would have been cold and severe. They wanted Scotland for its serene solitude, Spain was bustling with people everywhere; they had yearned for the cozy warmth of a bedstead to escape the inevitable rain, Asturias was the perfect place to get drenched in the sun.

Yet, Asturias was anything but an escape from her. He had barely checked into the hotel and come out for an evening stroll when he chanced upon this bistro screaming out the last word he would have expected to come across. His curiosity piqued, he could not resist getting to the bottom of this newest quirk of fate that had characterised their every tryst.

A little tentatively, he entered the bistro. It was crammed with people chatting animatedly in the vernacular. After being jostled about for a bit, he spied the relative seclusion of the bar. The full length mirror running behind the counter added to the feeling of a little more space and without wasting a further moment, he squeezed himself onto a barstool. The visage he saw in the mirror was of a timid and tentative foreigner-he had never travelled outside his own country and as he struggled to ponder over what he should do next, his eye fell upon a board behind the counter. His relief at realising that it was written in english evaporated all too soon when he read what was written on it.


“How to drink Sidra (cider)”

Drink Sidra ! He chuckled at the thought, wondering what she would have said to this. Atleast he had now unravelled the mystery behind the sign at the front door. Exhilarated at the thought of having some fun at her expense, he read on, his eyes devouring each word in the list of instructions on how to savour the local beverage to the fullest.


“The ideal temperature for a bottle of Sidra is cool, but not cold”

Now that was just perfect, so like her. She was proud but not arrogant, simple but not plain, calm yet tempestuous.

She was beautiful, in a fresh-faced, outdoors-girl kind of way. Her big black eyes conveyed an expression of complete vulnerability, with an appeal directed not to any individual but to the world at large. Please don’t hurt me, they seemed to say. Yet, she was also extremely talented as a woman, her genius lying in a mad innocence that was at once magic, tragic and ineluctably feminine. And it was this combination of vulnerability and power that was her greatest asset.


“You must drink the whole bottle at one sitting”

That would have been impossible with her. She was an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. An acquired taste, revolting and annoying at first. He recalled their tentative first steps at getting to know each other, bubbling with irrepressible curiosity yet guarded lest the other construe it as an invasion of their privacy.

She was the absolute converse of any woman he had ever known. Most women opened up their entire lives yet did not ever offer even a peek into their real selves. With her, he had been able to peer into her soul right from the beginning and yet, had to struggle interminably to learn even the most trivial facets about her life. He detested her needless secrecy and affected insouciance. And on more occasion than one, tried to let his pride get the better of him.

But the more you pushed her away, the more you realised that you couldn’t do without her. It was like a drug, with a yearning and a promise all at once of just one more surrender to its pleasures. And yet, it was exquisite, always leaving you unsatisfied and yearning for just one more.


“The waiter will simply uncork the bottle. From then on, you are on your own”

In their case, he had been thrown into the deep end of the pool for as long as he could recall. He had always suffered himself to be haughty, severe and indifferent. But it all came to a head when he met her.

It was as if she was the antidote to all his ills. Her manner, a little untouchable, was fit for a prince. And born into Rajput royalty, he was, quite literally, just that. Yet, with her, he felt like the proverbial babe in the woods.

What others admired about him, she frowned upon; what he detested about his own self, she adored! She read Ghalib and Neruda but quoted the most cheesy Bollywood tracks. And though he was no stranger to either, he was never quite sure which of the two to proffer for all too often, his choice would be the exact one she was looking to steer clear of!

She could praise and blame, offer tears and smiles. She could warn, comfort and command. And yet, he often felt that she did not mind sitting coyly in his shadow either.


“The Sidra experience will set you back a couple of Euros”

What an understatement, if ever there was one. She hadn’t taken long to warn him that she was high-maintenance. Her animated chatter was peppered with mentions of Prada shoes and Ferragamo bags and god alone knew what else. He hadn’t a clue about women and their proclivities beyond a few clich├ęd names. And she had always been at her uncommunicative, unhelpful best when the time came to pamper her with gifts.

It was almost as if she enjoyed his clumsy attempts at reading her mind, stumbling from one bad choice to the next. And it had taken him quite a while before he understood that she had never been even half as happy at the most elegant of gifts as she had been at the bunch of flowers he had plucked from her own garden in a desperate attempt to woo her back after yet another quarrel.



He had come here to seek the comfort of solitude. But had forgotten that it is in solitude that we are least alone.

And as he resigned himself to the supremacy of the elements, the very elements that had extended her influence to even this nondescript hamlet, he conceded to himself that there would never be any escape from her. Perhaps they were right when they said that all great love affairs end in tragedy: either disillusionment sets in and people separate or one member dies, leaving the other alone. He did not understand what their undoing had been but perhaps that was not for him to know.

Forcing a smile on, he beckoned to the bartender for a drink of the cider. But his voice was drowned in the chatter. He tried again and though he caught the bartender’s attention, the man did not understand the order.

Damn that devil-woman, he cursed under his breath. Clearing his throat and cringing at the mortification of saying the word out aloud, he repeated the order.

“Sidra ”

Thankfully, the import of that one word was not lost on the bartender. And as his eyes followed the man to the chestnut kupela, he discerned a flicker of a movement in the mirror.

It couldn’t be. Not here, not now.

This was no fairytale trance, this was real life. Yet, here she was.

Sidra. The same toss of the head, the same nimble gait, the same adorable verve.

And as he turned the barstool around, too bewildered to comprehend how the countenance in the mirror had morphed into reality, it became all too evident to him.

That there was just the one person with whom he would never need an occasion to celebrate. For there would always be far more to celebrate than mere anniversaries and birthdays.

With her, he would always be able to share their similarities and celebrate their differences.




The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

59 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Indeed a great comparison between a bottle of wine and that between a girl. It may not be as poetic as Ghalib, but it sounded nothing less though.
    But what remains a question in my mind, is it really possible to plan an escape from those who we really like?
    Among us, few enjoy the company of such beloved ones, yet many remain alone, with the urge for that someone, to make their life complete and fun.
    ATB for the BAT
    May the hat - rick be yours :)

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  3. Brij,
    Last time there was post on you and this time you have posted with Sidra as eponyn. Is this a PASS-THE-BATON game?? ;p

    Sidra, you listening??
    Next time in BLOGATON 17 you have to choose one of the fellow bloggers as the lead in your post ;)

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  4. @Maverick-"should i compare thee to a summer's day", Shakespeare had said. But since our station cannot be so lofty, i guess a bottle of wine will have to do for the moment!

    As for escaping, if u think you are free, then there can never be any escape possible.
    But let us hope that we each find someone/something from whom escape is neither required nor possible.

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  5. @Muddassir-I think all i can say is that whatever happens once will never happen a second time, but what happens twice will always happen a third time too.

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  6. Another different take on the topic! Very Gud Brij :)
    Gud luck to you!!

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  7. Ha ha ha... I just left a post on sidra's blog.. thought it was a coincidence. Life is wicked, and well, i think sidra was very naive to underestimate the fact that if there was one person he was trying to avoid, then that one person is who he will encounter.. and that's life being an ass! all the luck for batom!

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  8. @Saro-your mirth has added a whole new flavour to the discussion !! ;)

    Didn't quite understand the coincidence you are referring to!
    But to clarify, the Sidra in my post is the woman the protagonist has tried to move away from but with whom destiny has predetermined a possibly longer spate of trysts!

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  9. Oh Sidra, my Sidra...at some moments along the way, I see myself in Sidra...nope, Sidra!

    There is no way out, no escaping coz the more we take lots of effort to do so, as if it's a cruel joke we can't escape at all!

    But yes, it's always nice...celebrating differences...well, unlike poles attract each other, but whew...what a coincidence, Sidra was there afterall... :-)

    Very well narrated, I am amazed at your highfalutin way of narrating! Write a novel, coz this story looks like an excellent chapter of a novel!

    Good luck Brij... :-)

    Guess, I was the clincher thing last BAT..lols!

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  10. @Amity-and i thought the season of cheekiness had long since passed !!
    Yes, unlike poles do attract but what if the poles are so alike that there is nothing to repel? ;)
    As for BAT, the recent editions have been quite a "celebration" by themselves,with the journey far surpassing the destination(or is it the other way round? ;)) !!

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  11. @brij sir...just for once i thot i wont b cheeky bt den i saw ur lastcomment...lol...n to add to that ur reply to maverick...so, hav u found ur someone from you wont have to escape :P

    but an amzing piece of writing on the whole...d recipe of celebrations, cider/sidra n love was quite tasty :) another jewel in d sidra crown!

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  12. Now, now, I am getting curious about the word, the name, Sidra. It not only has a magical spell on your narrative, but generates in itself some kind of charm. A very true statement that the more we try to escape from someone, the more closer we get to that person, if love for that person is true. A beautiful story and the pun on the word 'Sidra" is apt. Get ready for a hat-trick, Sidra(cider) celebration.

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  13. very well narrated celebration with ''sidra''.every line was punch line and what an expression and comparison throughout the post.

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  14. @Adarsh-you say it best when you say nothing at all??
    On the one hand you say that you will refrain from being cheeky and bang on the other you exceed even my wildest apprehensions!
    As for the query,will paraphrase someone and just say;
    "Ibtadaa-e-ishq hai,rota hai kya
    Aage aage dekhiye,hota hai kya" !! ;)

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  15. @Cherry Blossom-thanks for the indulgence.
    Guess i never could understand Shakespeare when he said "whats in a name" !
    As for the celebration, thats already underway coz my hat-trick is already complete ! ;)

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  16. @Lost in Thoughts-thanks. And you,as always,are always encouraging and kind!

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  17. @Pratibha-dont know if the post is cheesy or cheeky but hope you enjoyed reading it as much as i enjoyed writing it !

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  18. you and Amity seem to be fighting to retain the Gold :) nice narration Brijender..

    All the best..!

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  19. Question: why do people compare wine & other alcoholic beverages et al with women? Somehow I don't get the logic!

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  20. :) nice one yaar :)All the best :)

    Here is my celebration:
    Ms. Meduri- Celebrations

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  21. Hey Brij Wonderful Narration and you let your readers travel through what the poets are saying that the bottle of wine and woman are same.

    Wonderful, just wonderful

    and just to answer Swayambhu - People compare wine with woman because - When you have either on your mind the world matters little to you, both matter more as they age, comes in different styles some are sweet, some are bitter, some are nuetral etc. I hope its little clear to you know.

    coming back to you Brij keep doing the great stuff and you will again walk with Gold. :)

    All the Best for BAT-16

    Vikas Khair - Celebrations

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  22. i said i was thinkin of nt being ckeeky bt some of ur comments forced me to b ;) n abt d sheyar...hum to dekh hi rahe hain :)

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  24. Yet again, I was having a hard time proceeding beyond the first paragraph!

    PS: I'm not done but I can't process anymore logical followings of the above just yet..

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  25. @Leo-thanks for the wishes and am glad you enjoyed the read !

    @Ms. Meduri-glad you liked it.

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  26. @Swayambhu-the comparison here between wine and a lady was not intentional. The protagonist is being swept by torrents of a destiny too mighty for him to comprehend-even if he seeks an escape from "her", he is thrown a reminder in the form of her name, and that too in a faraway land.
    What follows is merely his relating the incidental nuances of the cider to his indelible memories of Sidra.

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  27. @Vikas-as much as i enjoy reading your posts with their all too generous munificence on the male protagonists, i think it was time for me to take a leaf from your book and whip up something along similar lines for my usually hapless protagonists !!
    Am glad you liked it ! ;)

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  28. @Adarsh-if you cant beat them,join them !
    So,the question that begs an answer now is, "KYA dekh rahen hai aap??" !! ;)

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  29. @Sidra S
    Pity that the first paragraph engrossed your attention too much for you to move beyond it.
    And in response to your FIRST comment here, all i can say is,
    Girte hain shai sawaar hi,maidaan-e-jung mein
    WO tifl kya gire jo ghutno ke bal chalta ho !!

    P.S. The second comment is too prosaic to merit a response just yet !

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  31. Very poetic and romantic post !! As someone said earlier, this definitely qualifies as a chapter for a novel.
    All the best for BAT.

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  32. :)...you have your own style...and its gr88888888888888888888888888

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  33. Don't know how you do this..But you do this very well..Each description is just as amusing as the other that passes by..Playing a total movie kind of thing in front of my eyes..

    Don't know how to commend in mere words.. :)

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  34. The arrogant Rajput royalty is back and so is Sidra.. no more comments :p

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  35. @Dil Se-thanks ! Dont trust you about the book bit but if i ever do write one,guess who i will force to read it first? ;)

    @Makk-thankssssssssssssss ! ;)

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  36. @Alcina-ur "mere" words are more effusive than i can expect or even deserve-thanks a ton !

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  37. @Vipul-
    Dear Marshallji,
    1. Who told you that the protagonist is Rajput Royalty or even that he is arrogant? ;)
    2. In case you haven't noticed, it is a different Sidra each time !
    3. Does the "no more comments" apply only to you or to all of us at large,like the timeline for BATOM?

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  38. very very well written and liked the analogies between sidra and girl... loved the way you described it... ATB for BATON

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  39. Dear two time BATOM in a row,

    1)Her manner, a little untouchable, was fit for a prince. And born into Rajput royalty, he was, quite literally, just that.

    2) I said Sidra is back and not that the same Sidra is back!!!

    3) How can I stop others frm commenting here.. I cant take the wrath of Rajput arrogance :p

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  40. @Magiceye-thanks a ton ! :)

    @Ashish-thanks for the appreciation, glad u enjoyed it !

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  41. Adarniya Marshallji,

    Aapka pehla point to samajh aa gaya lekin baaki do nahi aaye.
    -agar wo same Sidra nahi hain,to "back" kaise aa sakti hain?
    -yahaan par aapko kaunse Rajput wrath ka khauff hai? Aur aap to Marshall hain,aapko to waise bhi darr nahi lagna chahiye na ! ;)

    Sewa mein,
    aapka aabhaari !

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  42. do u really want an answer....and that too here...soch liliye ;)

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  43. I know too well the emotion involved in running away and yet not reaping any success. It's frustrating but deep down inside comforting.

    Comforting because you know it still exists in you.

    I think it's like you want to escape but you dont want to escape. Maybe that's why you never get to escape.

    I thought the last sentence did not go with the tempo that was set.. not sure.

    I dont know if you understood a word of what I said. But your post touched way too many chords I've got buried within. Thank you Brijender.

    Achcha, tell me something. What is this Sidra connection? Last time also your post had it. Ignore if it's personal to answer.

    I like reading your posts. I think I would want to follow you... maybe after reading a couple more from you.

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  44. Oh. Another thing. Thank you for being one of the few level-headed people I know in the virtual world.

    That's a compliment... totally unattached to your posts... maybe a little influenced by the comments you have been leaving all around.

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  45. It was hard to view the story objectively given the continuation of your eponymous repertoire but I’ve tried nonetheless.

    You’ve time and again been able to utilize a truism to your advantage and this time around it was Sidra from Asturias, this lends a sense of credibility to the setting you’ve described and that’s definitely something that I as a reader enjoyed indulging in.

    The dilemma described in the first few paragraphs is one which a number of us have struggled with, to go away from the ones we ‘love’ only with the mindset that we’re going away from someone we ‘loved’; the line “All that he remembered of her was that he did not remember her” beautifully embodies that.

    “Drink Sidra he chuckled” I almost imagined each of them individually reacting to this bit. The descriptions that followed were almost as if the author was speaking to someone with a strange high spirited childish honesty. His seeking some comic relief at her expense was yet another flag speaking of what she meant to him because it’s only with the closest of people that we take such advantages.

    Allying the instructions with her character was an excellent utilization of the theme; they work in perfect harmony yet have nothing to do with each other (literally speaking).

    Interestingly this further goes wholly with the character description of the male protagonist, vulnerability and strength is not just hers but also his. He described himself as haughty and severe yet it is he who smothers her with flowers, admitting to his ‘desperate attempts to woo her back after yet another quarrel’.

    His simplicity is visible with ‘his’ adoration of the opposites that she possesses very succinctly illustrated by the example of bollywood and Ghalib. With his descriptions the narrator/protagonist seemed to have gotten right in the middle of it all, imprisoned or free, he seemed to have caught her drift or vice versa but somehow it was as if they’re caught in the middle of a whirlpool together.

    The pradox in the line “He had come here to seek the comfort of solitude. But had forgotten that it is in solitude that we are least alone” was mighty powerful because that’s something I’ve experienced, I’m sure you’ve experiences as well and perhaps most people who’ve read this have as well.

    His affinity with her name visible through many a subtle corner makes the narration ‘eerily realistic’ and ‘uncannily believable.’

    I often have a thing or two to say, critically speaking, but this one seems to be almost perfectly rounded hence all I wonder is; how were you able to describe the characters so realistically?

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  46. PS: forgot to ask; your attestation of the adage, was it a conspiracy of love or expression?

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  47. @ Adarsh- knowing you and your chutzpah as also your proclivities towards cheekiness, i think i am better off without the answer !!
    And in more ways than you would imagine ! ;)

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  48. @Kshitij-first of all, thanks for the all too generous compliments-dont know if i deserve them but they feel good !

    You have written almost nothing of what i think you wanted to say, which perhaps is why i understand almost everything you haven’t said.

    As for the “Sidra connection”, i think i better keep my lips zipped ! Suffice it to say, as Ghalib would put it,

    “Jahaan tere naksh-e-kadam dekhte hain
    Khiyaabaan khiyaabaan irram dekhte hain” !!

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  49. @Sidra S

    Glad you enjoyed it and though your banter has come later than usual, i think it isn’t too late to add my two cents worth.
    1. Eponymous generally refers to having been named after an entity-wonder which you had in mind here?
    2. Are YOU really wondering how i created the character sketches?
    3. Which adage are you referring to?

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  50. The very same entity that you dream about :P (so much for my banter ain’t? :P)

    Yes, especially because there is a stark familiarity that’s visible perhaps it is to you too or may be it’s just me!

    "what happens once will never happen again but what happens a second time will always happen a third time too" by the way might I add/suggest that “at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet” ;)

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  51. Very Well deserved Blog-a_Tonic!

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  52. Very nicely written, it is just captures your attention and felt like i was reading a chapter from a novel and I didnt want it to end so soon....:P

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  53. I'll get diabetes! What the hell. Same old name. Same old story yet again. Is there some prize money for churning out some maudlin stuff day in and day out? X-(
    (There goes your favourite smiley)

    You need some 'direction' Sir really. =P

    I'm waiting for the blog post you mentioned. Let's see what you have to say. =)

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  54. Oh and now you have to approve too!
    Tch tch tch ... whatever happened to the freedom of expression or you want only good things to be shown here.

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  55. I was searching for your post in BAT17... and realized you didn't participate.. kaha reh gaye ji?

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  56. By now we’ve inured ourselves to people hawking. Many people claim to know the authors they read; at times by claiming to know their favourite smiley or the lyrics to their favourite song but it seems they’re way off somewhere or on something.

    PS: Brijender before you’re wondering why this generalized comment; the realities of my existence are far more dynamic and electric than I claim them to be ;)

    PPS: Book a flight to OVD! Get drunk on a little bit of Sidra ;)

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