The Girl Who Once Spelled ‘Once’ as ‘Ones’


“Hey, do you remember that girl who once spelled ‘once’ and ‘ones’?” the words swam across my head like Michael Phelps on weed.

A minute ago I was in farfarawayland, with my friends, and some movie characters from the flick I watched last night with the song I was listening to before it all went hazy playing in the background. The tune suddenly changed to something that sounded like a rooster laying an egg, which I know is something isn’t possible but if it were to happen it would be pretty darn painful and that’s exactly how the sound of it felt on my ears in all its screeching glory. Maybe someone was pulling a fast one on me. Maybe while I was engrossed listening to the song that I was listening to before it all went hazy and the egg laying rooster started yelping, someone sinister came in and replaced my player with one loaded with Justin Bieber choking the life out of Lady Gaga, who was having steel cage death match with Kid Rock, who had Nickelback cheering for him outside the ring. Whatever it was, I’d figure it out later and when that happens, I’d trace down whoever it was that played a trick as sinister as making me endure an unholy hybrid of Lady-Bieber-Nick-Rock, then I’d knock them over the head with a mongoose bat, which I hear has a really long handle for great swing, and a sweet spot all over the bat so even an agricultural swipe by Harbhajan Singh makes the same sound off the willow as a picture-perfect straight drive by Sachin Tendulkar, which for you non-cricket people out there, is like Michael Buble’s voice coming out of Anu Malik’s voice box. So where was I? Mongoose bat, of course! So I’d horizontally pull the mongoose bat and smash the helpless little skull of whoever it was that made me endure this pastiche of the crème de la crap of Billboard Top-40 and place my foot firmly on their throat; I’d probably wear those 5k worth steel toed CAT boots, which Ive always wanted to wear in a Virar fast for the heck of it, and I’d shove down BT Brinjal Bharta down the evil person’s pie-hole, until they returned my music player, so I could resume listening to that song I was listening to before all went hazy and…you know what happened after that. Then, when I rubbed my eyes and tried to make sense of what was happening, I realized that I was now awake, much to my own vexation, and that my brilliantly thought-out mongoose bat attack would not be required, at least for the time being. With my head less swimmy, I tried to focus once again on what my friend, the MS-Office Spell-Check was trying to say.

“So you remember that girl who once spelled ‘once’ as ‘ones’, right dude?” a clearer voice said.

Of course I remembered the girl who once spelled ‘once’ as ‘ones’, she was the same one thought ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ were interchangeable and ‘hai’ was ‘hi’. The last aberration in particular would grind my gears, because I mean come on, you cant have a greeting as easy to spell and use as ‘Hi’; anything shorter than that would be that kissing sound that the tapori types make to catch the attention of a fellow crony. It never made sense to me how someone could take a greeting as short as ‘Hi’ and still manage to screw it up. I mean if there ever was a place you could add an extra, and have I mentioned unnecessary vowel it’s ‘Eyjafjallajokull’; now there’s a word so screwed up I can’t even say it, and I’m guessing you can’t either without sounding like someone who mistook a bee for a raisin and got his tongue stung, which quite frankly would be quite stupid, but not as stupid as the expression on your contorted face when you try and say ‘Eyjafjallajokull’. But a word as short and simple as ‘Hi’, heck I’d bet both my kidneys that even the guy who thought the bee was a dry-fruit would say it AND spell it correctly, but NO SIR, not the girl who once spelled ‘once’ as ‘ones’. But why the hell was I woken up to talk about her? I hadn’t met her since that time I ran into her in a bookstore, where I sincerely hope she was shopping for the latest unabridged edition of Webster’s.

‘What about the girl who once spelled ‘once’ as ‘ones’? I asked about seven minutes into the call, which isn’t that big a deal in our times of ½ paisa per second.

“Well she’s writing a book! I just read the first chapter of it which she has put for free preview, but it won’t be there too long because soon that e0book will be published on actual paper, printed, bound, the whole she-bang, and people would have to buy it with at least a couple of hundreds of hard earned cash that they’ve earned at dead-end jobs which are dumber than predicting the number of times Abhishek Bacchan will appear on TV with that over-acting peon and item-type secretary.”

My friend could have stopped at ‘She’s writing a book’ but he has a tendency to go on unless reminded to shut up so I forgave him and passed up yet another opportunity to use a mongoose bat for the very purpose it was created; bashing people into submission and then making them eat outrageous amounts of BT Brinjal Bharta. That however would have to wait, because the girl who…well didn’t spell very well, was now writing a book, and much as I think  that Abhishek Bacchan is a cretin, his IDEA commercials about saving paper made more sense than our budding Jane Austen penning a novel. On an off-hand note I also remembered that she once spelled ‘sense’ as ‘sence’ so it’s doubtful she’d make it past the cover of one of Ms. Austen’s most celebrated works, which of course I haven’t read. Speaking of haven’t read though, the dreaded upcoming novel was definitely a case of that. But well, we can’t write someone off you know, like how everyone thought that Kevin Federline couldn’t possibly make a hit rap- album and how he turned around and showed everyone that…oh crap, that didn’t go well at all. This novel was headed straight to hell in an Air India flight headed straight into Eyjafjallajokull’s silica rich volcanic ash that would make its ancient engine cough, sputter, choke and die eventually and crash land in a place with a name so weird it would have upside down punctuation marks instead of vowels and consonants in its name! Imagine trying to ask for directions to ˙¿؛`¿:¡!! But first I had to find out what it was that this novel was all about.

“Well she hasn’t revealed much in the first chapter but from what I see there are going to be some persistent motifs right throughout the novel, like some of the characters will always be white, the others always black, few checkered, others would have the number 17 written on their pockets, while 3 of them would speak only through Billboard Top 40 music lyrics. Oh yes, and the lead guy is a vampire and the lead girl is an anemic, anorexic, emo 35 something”.

That didn’t sound good at all, in fact it almost sounded like that series of novels with the lead guy who was also a vampire and the lead girl who was also an anemic, anorexic, emo and how the vampire dude wants to desperately drink a bloody mary and when he finally drinks it he dies because he’s allergic to tomato juice. That novel went on to become a movie, in fact two, with a third in the offing soon. To give her the benefit of doubt though like any responsible third umpire without enough frames to tell whether the bat was on the line, behind the line or whether this piece had one cricket reference too many would; the black-white-checks idea didn’t sound ripped off from anything I had read or heard of, so maybe our little Arundhati Roy may have just penned something intelligible.

“So how does the story start?” I asked

“Ones upon a time….” Said the voice on the other end before I hung up.

Recycled Plastic Cups and Why You Shouldn’t Steal Dhoni’s Phone!


Over the last couple of months I’ve been hooked onto this amazingly talented Indian writer- Kuzhali Manickavel. Seeing her work getting published all over the world, including India, was as liberating for me as a wannabe writer who doesn’t like sticking to any one genre, as was reading Nissim Ezekiel’s Very Indian English Poems. Incidentally, Manickavel is a fan of Ezekiel herself. I must admit that I envy her style of writing and have wondered whether I would ever be able to write with that kind of abandon, without really having to worry whether the reader will be pissed off. I’ve tried out something which is definitely inspired by her style of writing, but also incorporated a lot of my own ideas as I went along.  Of course there’s no comparison at all between my piece and her works, but if you do find this style of writing amusing, definitely check her works out to see how this form handled by a real pro.


He sat with his butt cheeks plonked on the rickety old chair probably fashioned out of recycled plastic cups, smashing away at the pale keys in front of him in a room poorly lit by the hazy glow of the monitor. He jumped from page to page with careless abandon like Tarzan from the trees, which probably is a fuckall simile but you get the point anyway don’t you? Without a single interesting face on the YahooGmailFacebookMyspaceMSNJabberAOL bastard child messenger he turned to aimlessly surfing the interwebs.

Wikipedia tag was one option, but there’s only so many times you can enjoying drifting from stem-cell research to Undertaker-Hell-in-a-cell match. It really gets old quickly you know. Writing was the other option, but he was too lazy to do that. He was one of those ‘writers’ who believed that he could only ‘write’ when ‘inspiration’ came calling otherwise ‘writing would be forced’ and forced writing is really bad, worse, worst thing like people robbing poor MS Dhoni’s Maxx Mobile phones, four-four times, despite the poor fellow making public demands again and again that the phone was really cheap and awesome and had features like QWERTY key-pad, and polyphonic ringtones such as ‘Woh Lamhe’ and ‘Dhoom Machale Dhoom’, and that since it was made of recycled plastic cups like his old rickety chair, and lead poisoning inducing Chinese toy waste, it was really cheap and also very awesome and so everyone should buy it and not steal his phone, because he was getting sick of buying Maxx Mobile phone again and again and losing two-two numbers each time because it was Dual SIM. Again that might be too long a simile, but do you care anyway at this point? Anyway, determined to hold back his writing until the ‘perfect moment’ arrived like Gandhi believed it was necessary to preserve one’s vital fluids even if totally nangi, like completely without 18 somethings were sleeping next to you also, he decided to see someone else’s blog and complain about how much douchebaggery people write about these days.

“Saala baccha-log have no talent and they praise idiots like Chetan Bhagat as a literary genius”, he thought to himself.

“I could write a better novel than that fellow”, he said overconfidently like Gautam Gambhir after beating Rajasthan Royals in IPL said all proudy – ke what man, these people are totally ordinary. It would probably be something about a Punjabi guy with a typical, matlab completely like how you see on the street with all these guys who wear pink Popeye t-shirts with collar up and metal chains for belts, that much typical you know, type Punjabi boy meeting a south Indian girl, like that Lola Kutty female on TV who says yell for L and yum for M and dances in kanjeevaram sarees and sips on tender coconuts and for some reason pronounces ‘Zh’ as ‘Arrr’ like a pirate would, fall in love.

And then her terribly conservative, aged relatives viz. Ammasaur and Appasaur with their Jurassic Park like views on inter-caste marriage come in the way of their relationship. And then the boy who also goes to best IIT, IIM college builds a bus that runs on recycled plastic cups, rickety chairs and stolen MS Dhoni Maxx Mobile phones and drives down to Cozy-kode which also has that strange ‘arr’ pirate wala sound its name and takes Lola-kutty girl away with him to Punjab-Delhi land.And then his relatives dance and serve butter chicken and naan to everyone in the 45 km radius and they live happily ever after.

He could probably get a five book deal after that and make a movie on his college days where he travelled four-four hours by train, and ate strange dishes like schezwan anda pav. He could throw in a couple of disturbed students who try to slit their wrists with blunt toothbrushes, then get depressed over the fact they can’t slit wrists with blunt toothbrushes, and develop an eating disorder because of which they puke out every schezwan anda pav they eat.

And then how he and his other friend who is like an awesome photo-take-outer but has no camera so he takes snaps of pigeons and sparrows and purple sunsets with his Maxx Mobile phone, coin a three word jingle and take eating disorder guy to a sixth standard science exhibition where they make an inspirational speech about the nature of the universe before the installation depicting the solar system made entirely of string, old shoe boxes and recycled plastic cups made into those useless balls that don’t bounce, swing, or do much else.

And then the friend would be all happy and we’d all bump our chests and say something like ‘Yes, we’re fine’ and the audience will say ‘OMG! That’s totally how I feel right now!’

Then maybe about 5000 kids all over interior Maharashtra would kill themselves trying to overdose on Vicks Action 500, and then he’d have to make a public statement saying how he never really meant that suicide was the easy way out. So, the said novels were never really written and instead he Youtubed a video of a dog catching a doggy treat in super slow motion and laughed his butt off.

One day though, you can expect that novel.