Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Short Fiction - A Delicious Love Story

From my Creative Writing Archives: 
I started writing this story long back, after a delicious SPDP at to my favourite Vaishali Restaurant, in the year 2006 I think, but I left it incomplete. 
I wonder why. 
Then, after a three years, in the year 2009, I completed the story.
Do tell me if you like this delicious love story...



That’s right – SPDP...!
You know what SPDP is, don’t you...?
You don’t? 

Don’t tell me you don’t know what SPDP is...!

I’m sorry.

Maybe you are not a Punekar.

And if you do live in Pune and you still don’t even know what SPDP is, then it’s a pity...a real pity...!
SPDP – Sev Potato Dahi Puri – that’s what the acronym SPDP stands for.

Why ‘Potato’...?

Why not ‘Batata’...?

Well, I do not know – you’ll have to ask the guys at Vaishali.
Now don’t tell me you don’t know what Vaishali is...?

That’s being real daft and clueless, isn’t it...?

Well, Vaishali is the landmark restaurant on Fergusson College Road which serves the best and tastiest SPDP in the world – no doubt about it...!
And talking about taste, do you know how many basic tastes there are...?
“Four...!” you will rattle out.

And you will proudly tell me as if you were a know-it-all: “Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter.”
Well, my dear reader, you are wrong...

There are five primary tastes – Sweet, Sour, Salt, Bitter, and Umami.

You have never heard of it...?

Well I can tell you one thing: “Besides being a lost case, you are no ardent foodie for sure...!”
Umami is the unique tingling ‘savouriness’ or ‘deliciousness’ of Oriental Cuisines.

Well let’s forget all that mumbo-jumbo. 

If you really want to know what Umami is, just go down to Vaishali, order an SPDP, gently put a portion in your mouth.

Then close your eyes, roll the delectable SPDP till it dissolves on your tongue.

You will experience the taste of Umami.
Now talking of rolling the SPDP on your tongue – have you noticed that as you roll your food on your tongue its taste changes and flavour varies as the food interacts with different regions of your tongue...?

Does food taste different as you roll it on your tongue at different places?

The ‘Tongue Map’ – have you ever heard of it...?
You haven’t...?

Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of the Tongue Map...?

Hey, you are a real dumbo, aren’t you...?

Then try this yummy scrummy mouth-watering experiment.

Take some spicy chatpatta stuff, like Bhel, Chaat, or SPDP, and put some on your tongue.

Never heard of these things...?

I knew it.

But not to worry, it doesn’t matter. 


It’s okay. 

It just doesn’t matter...!

You can discover the taste of Umami.

You can do this eating experiment with Chopsuey – yes, yes, the usual American Chopsuey you get at these ubiquitous Chinese eateries proliferating like hobgoblins all over the place.

Close your eyes.

Yes, you must close your eyes to heighten your awareness, your mindfulness.

Now focus inwards to accentuate your gustatory, kinaesthetic and olfactory sensations, and gently press the rich juicy scrumptious Chopsuey against your palate with the tip of your tongue.

It tastes heavenly doesn’t it...?

That’s Umami...yes... the taste you are experiencing is called UMAMI...!
Now slowly roll the chopsuey backwards to the right side of your tongue and notice how its sweetness enhances.

Then move the chopsuey towards the back of your tongue and relish the tangy sweetish-sourness, the inimitable sweet and sour flavour.

Then roll it to the left, towards the back of your tongue, and experience a tinge of delicious subtle bitter flavour.

And as you move the delectable melange forward on your tongue, towards the left side of your tongue, soak up the tingling vitalizing scrummy saltiness, till you once again experience the intense lip-smacking luscious flavoursome savouriness of Umami.
That’s exactly what I am doing here right now, sitting on a lovely rainy evening at my favourite table in Vaishali restaurant on Fergusson College road in Pune.

Dissolving exquisite tingling mouth-watering portions of SPDP on my tongue, my eyes closed, senses focussed inwards, luxuriating in sheer epicurean bliss, trancelike ecstasy, epiphany...

Suddenly, unwittingly, on the spur of the moment, I open my eyes, and I am totally astonished, shocked out of my wits, baffled and dazed, to see her standing at the entrance.

Yes, it is her.
Instantaneously, I avert my eyes, try to hide myself in the SPDP in front of me, wishing, hoping against hope, hoping that it is not her, and slowly, furtively, with tremors of trepidation, I glance, through the corner of my eyes, a fleeting look, and my hopes are dashed, my worst fears come true, it is indeed her, no doubt about it.

And the delicious zesty SPDP turns tasteless in my mouth, like cud, and I wish the ground beneath me opens up and swallows me in. 
I wish she doesn’t see me, so I look away, try to hide.

I do not want to meet her.

Tell me, which loser wants to meet a winner?

Have you ever seen a failure attending a reunion? And enjoying it?

At this stage of my life, I avoid people who are more successful than me.

Is it not true?

The company of those who are less accomplished than you is always more comforting, at least for losers and “failures” like me.
Suddenly I sense she is near me.

Hesitantly, I look up.

We look at each other.

Priyamvada has blossomed. 

She looks exquisite, even more beautiful than before – radiant, slick, chic, booming with confidence – she is all the things that I am not.
“Hi, Praveen,” she says excitedly, “what a surprise...!”
“Yes,” I say nonchalantly.
“Hey, what’s the matter?  Are you not happy to see me...? Won’t you ask me to sit down...?” she says.
“Of course I am happy to see you. I’m sorry, but I was lost in my thoughts. Please do sit down and join me,” I say.
“Wow...! Having SPDP...? I too will have an SPDP,” she says cheerfully the moment she sits down opposite me.
“You like SPDP...?”
“I love it. SPDP in Vaishali – it brings back nostalgic memories too...!”
“Nostalgic memories...?”
“Vilas saw me for the first time right here – while I was having SPDP with my college gang.”
“He fell in love with me – love at first sight.”
“So he told his parents.”
“That he wanted to get married to me.”
“He told his parents that if at all he ever got married it would be to me and he will not marry anyone else.”

“His parents were delighted as he had been rejecting marriage proposals for years, avoiding marriage on some pretext or the other. So they found out about me from my college and landed up at my place to ask for my hand in marriage.”
“And you jumped...?”
“Yes, you jumped with joy at the golden opportunity. And you dumped me without a thought and you got married to a man twice your age...!”
“Twice my age...? What nonsense. Vilas wasn’t twice my age, he was just 30.”
“And you...? You were just a teenager then. Bloody cradle-snatcher...!”
“I wasn’t a teenager. I was 20.”
“It’s the same thing.”
“Praveen. Tell me, why are you still so bitter even today...? Just forget it...!”
“Forget it...? How can I forget it? You broke my heart.”
“Broke you heart...? I broke your heart...?”
“I was in love with you. We were in love with each other.”
“Love...? Come on, Praveen. It was just infatuation – one sided inchoate infatuation.”
“One sided infatuation...? I am sorry to hear that. I am really sorry to hear that. And then it was not only that. You made me the laughing stock of society. Not only me, my whole family...!”
“What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? You know what I mean!”
“You know how it was then. A boy rejecting a girl is okay, but a girl rejecting a boy? That too in Madiwale Colony – you can’t even imagine the unimaginable agony I suffered. I became the laughing stock of town – not me alone, our whole family had to suffer the embarrassment. I couldn’t even walk the streets peacefully without sensing those unspoken taunts and unseen jeers. It was terrible – really cruel of you.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. But I never wanted to marry you.”
“Then why did you say ‘yes’?”
“I don’t know. My parents were in a hurry. They showed me your photograph – it was all so confusing,” she says taking a sip of water, “Please let’s talk something else.”
“No. I want to know why you ditched me for that richie-rich IT Czar tycoon. Was it just the money? Or was it the lure of a luxurious life in America?”

“See, you cannot accuse me of ditching you – we were not formally engaged – I had just informally said ‘yes – I like you’ to my parents – and then Vilas proposed to me...”

“And it was his money, and he being an NRI from America, that settled the issue, and you dumped me.”
“No. It’s not that. You were too mediocre.”
“Mediocre...? I’d passed out from an IIT...!”
“So what...? Remember when I asked you what your plans were...and do you know what you said...? The way you told me your philosophy of life...”
“Philosophy of life...? I think I just said that I never plan anything, that I just flow along, and take life as it comes.”
“Oh yes, just flow along. No ambitions. No aspirations. No dreams. No desire to achieve anything in life. Well I always wanted to get out of the middle class, have success, prosperity, see the world, enjoy the good things in life, and not spend my entire life going nowhere with an apathetic husband like you with no plans in life, listening to sermons on thrift and frugality.” 

Priyamvada pauses for a moment, and then continues speaking, “I’m so sorry, but in life one has to be rational isn’t it...? One has to have plans in life.”
“Oh, yes. Plans in life...!” I say caustically, “And looking at you it’s evident that all your plans seem to have worked pretty well…”
I stop speaking at once, for seeing the sudden transformation in the expression on her face I instantly know that I have said something terribly wrong. 

She does not want me to see the tears well up in her eyes.

So she looks down into her plate and she tries to eat.

For some time there is silence. 

Grotesque silence. 

Then she looks up and says, “My plans did not work out.

“What...???” I look at her dumbstruck.

“I have left him. Vilas and me are divorced. I have come back to India for good. I was wrong. I did not belong there. I realized I still belong here,” Priyamvada says.

She pauses for a moment.

Priyamvada composes herself, and then she says, “And this SPDP is no coincidence – I contrived the coincidence. I knew you would be here in Vaishali at six in the evening after spending your Sunday afternoon reading in the library.

What? You came here to meet me? Why?” I ask.

Praveen, I want to ask you something,” she says.

“I know what you want to ask me and the answer is YES,
” I say looking deep into her eyes.

Priyamvada looks lovingly at me, and she says, “Thank you.” 

I knew you would come back to me. I was waiting for you to come back,” I say.

I pop some SPDP in my mouth.

I let it disintegrate on my tongue and savour the delicious zesty Umami taste – the SPDP tastes delicious and I relish the lipsmacking dish like I have never relished it before.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Monday, September 15, 2014


Short Fiction Story – A Sci Fi Romance 

From my Creative Writing Archives:
Science Fiction - Sci Fi - an experimental story. 
I wrote this story long ago - more than 20 years ago - in the mid 1990s. This story also features in my short fiction anthology COCKTAIL 
Do let me know whether you liked the story.

Failures avoid school reunions. 
It is painful, and shameful, for a loser to be in midst of winners.    
But this time I decided to go.  
Sucheta would be there. 

She had rung up from New York.  

And of course her husband Anand was also coming with her. 

Maybe that was the real reason I wanted to go.  
It was fifteen years since we passed out from school and the reunion was a grand affair in the best hotel at this picturesque ‘queen’ of hill stations on the slopes of the awesome mighty Himalayas where our school was located.
As I said the reunion was followed a lavish dinner and dance party for ours was an elite and famous boarding school, valued more for its snob appeal rather than for its academic excellence. 
‘Bookworm’ was an exception.  

He had topped the board exams and had become a distinguished scientist, always inventing something mysterious and experimenting something esoteric.  
“Hi, Bookworm,” I said. I was genuinely happy to see him.  
“Moushumi,” he said angrily, “my name is not bookworm. My name is Doctor Kedarnath Joshi.  So don't call me Bookworm. I don't like it. I am a full-fledged Professor.”  
“Okay, I'll call you Professor Bookworm,” I teased him. 
“That’s better,” he said, with smug look on his face.  
“So, Professor, what are you inventing nowadays?” I asked. 
“I’m researching in the frontiers of Psycho-cybernetics.” 
“Pyscho-what…? Stop the mumbo jumbo, Bookworm. Tell me in simple language. Who are you and what do you do?” 
“Okay. I am a neurologist. A psychiatrist.  A psychologist. And I also hold a doctorate in Electrical Engineering. Currently I am researching in mind-transference,” Bookworm said proudly. 
“Mind-transference…?” I asked confused.  
“You have seen star-trek haven’t you?”
“There they transfer persons in space. H G Wells’ time machine transferred entire persons in time,” he said.  
“Time Machine…you’re making a time machine…?” I asked incredulously. 
“No..No… I am working on something more complicated…Brain Transfer…I can put your mind into someone else’s body and vice-versa – that is, someone else’s brain into your body!” 
“It sounds very spooky to me.  Is it ESP…?  Or some kind of occult stuff…?”  
“Not at all,” Bookworm said, “Nothing supernatural, esoteric or mystical.  It’s a purely scientific technique.  I’ve developed a pilot system for trials. The machine is upstairs in my hotel room.  Why don’t you give it a try?”    
A strange curious wicked thought crossed my mind. I surveyed the expanse of the majestic ballroom with my eyes and soon my eyes found Anand.  

His dashing physique and his magnificent beard made him look prominent in the crowd.  

He looked a decisive, hot-blooded and dangerous man, but he also looked vulnerable. 
He wore a lonely and rather perplexed expression, as though he were at the party but not enjoying it.  

And beside him stood his wife Sucheta radiating the natural pride of possession that any woman feels when she has the ownership and company of a man that other women desire.  
I reminisced. There were four of us who grew up together. The same group of classmates and friends - in school and in college - Anand, Mohan, Sucheta and Moushumi (that’s me) – the famous four – inseparable friends. All of us loved each other.  
I had the first choice since both Anand and Mohan were desperately in love with me and both had proposed to me. 
I chose Mohan, leaving Anand for Sucheta.  
And since that moment I kept tormenting myself wondering if I had made the wrong choice.
Physically I lived with Mohan but longed for Anand, repenting, and trying to imagine what my life would have been like if I had married Anand instead of Mohan.  
I looked at Anand, and then at Bookworm.  
Serendipity...! Yes. It was indeed Serendipity... pure luck... 
I felt the adrenalin rush. 
This was my golden chance to find out what life would have been like if I had married Anand... and I was going to seize the opportunity.  
I waved out to Sucheta and five minutes later both of us were lying side by side on the double-bed in Bookworm’s hotel room.  
There was a mesh of wires with electrode-transducers connected to our heads (like an EEG), a laptop-like special computer and a briefcase-size electronic device which Bookworm described as the ‘Electrophoresis Signal Processor’.  
“Good,” Bookworm said, “both your brainwave frequencies are in ‘beta’ state around 15 hertz.  I’ll give you both a high frequency burst to momentarily raise your brain-states to ‘K-Complex’ and instantaneously commence the electrophoresis.”  
Looking at me, he said, “Moushumi, you will be Sucheta as far as the outside world is concerned. So when you wake up, go straight to Anand.  Let’s see if he suspects.” And then to Sucheta he said, “Sucheta, you go straight to Mohan. He will think you are Moushumi.”  
“It’s dangerous. I’m scared,” Sucheta said.  
“Come on, Sucheta. Be a sport. It’s just for fun,” I said.  
“It’s not fun. We’re doing this experiment to validate my research – in vivo – to see if the concept of mind-transference it works. Just for half-an-hour,” Bookworm said, “then both of you come back and I’ll reverse the process, everything will be the same as before, and you can leave as your own total selves – your same mind in your own same body.”  
I closed my eyes in trepidation wondering whether I was doing the right thing. Suddenly I felt my brain go blank and then there were vivid flashes in a void.  
Half an hour later, when I was in a state of ecstasy, in seventh heaven, gliding in Anand’s strong arms, enjoying the dance, in blissful trance.  
Bookworm suddenly appeared by my side, started tugging my arm and telling me with urgency in his voice, “It’s time. Let’s go, Moushumi.”   
“Moushumi…? Why are you calling her Moushumi…?” an incredulous Anand asked Bookworm.  
“She is Moushumi,” Bookworm said pointing at me.   
“Are you drunk or stoned or something…?” Anand snapped angrily. “Can’t you see she’s Sucheta, my wife...? Moushumi must be with her husband Mohan.  I last saw them having a drink near the bar.”   
Instinctively I turned and looked towards the bar. 

I could not spot Sucheta. 

Nor was Mohan there. 

I hurriedly scanned the room. 

There was no sign of them. 

They had disappeared.  
Bookworm was in a state of panic and he started shouting incoherently:
“Anand...Anand...Try to understand...Your wife Sucheta has gone away with Mohan.  And this lady here in front of you is Moushumi – Mohan’s wife. This is only Sucheta’s body. Inside her is Moushumi’s brain. Moushumi’s mind is in Sucheta’s body. My in vivo experiment was successful – my psycho-cybernetics discovery is validated – the mind-transference has been achieved...!”  
“Psychocybernetics …? Mind-transference …? Stop talking nonsense …!” Anand shouted angrily at Bookworm and taking my arm he said to me, “Come on Sucheta. Let’s go. Bookworm has gone crazy. And it’s getting late. We’ll drive straight down to Delhi. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow before we catch our flight back home to New York.”  
As we walked through the parking lot towards the luxury limousine Anand had hired for his visit I noticed that ‘our’ car was missing.  
It was cold and I glanced at ‘our’ small cottage on the hill slope for the last time.
‘They’ were probably cuddling up in ‘our’ bedroom by now.   
I thought I was smart, but it was Sucheta who played the double game.   
For me it was only a half-hour experiment, but Sucheta had upped the ante and turned the tables on me.  
Will Mohan ever find out? 

And what about Anand?

Will he continue to think I am his wife Sucheta? 

Will this psycho-cybernetic mind-transference last forever? Am I beyond the point of no return? 
As I think of my future, I shiver with tremors of trepidation. 

From now on life is going to be a tightrope walk.  

Every moment I’ll have to be on my toes.
I’m excited…very excited…and a bit terrified and scared too. 

It’s going to be dangerous fun.  
But one thing is sure.  
Now I will really know what life would have been like if had I married Anand instead of Mohan.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)