A Lot Can Happen Over A Co55ee



She shouted at him furiously, “You! lazy hopeless egg head, made me wait for almost an hour, and you arrive as though you have just saved the world”. But he asked the waitress with a smile, without any hint of shame on his face for Espressos and added “Mademoiselle likes them steaming and in time”.

Looking at his anxious face, barely containing her excitement, she sat opposite him. He was so nervous, for her reciprocation would change his life forever.  Breaking the silence, “I too am in love with you” echoed a feminine voice few seats from behind her. Café, that evening witnessed the proposal of a couple of couples.

She loves me… He pushed open the Café door.
She loves me not… He fell onto the chair.
She loves me… He browsed the menu.
She loves me not… But settled with the regular.
She loves me… She smiled from inside the coffee steams.
She loves me not… He sipped.
She… Err… She can wait.

The couple ordered coffee. And some delicacies that are not technically cocoa but the Café offered anyhow. After everything was done away with, in what seemed like eternity, the menu was served again. But this time in print. Quickly and saucily she pushed the bill towards him and instinctively his hand went for his wallet.

The newbie asked, without taking her mouth off the Frappe cup, “Can anything in 55 words be a 55-Fiction professor?” Gesturing to wipe the foam around her mouth, the mentor responded, “No, not essentially, it requires a setting – like this café. A person or more – like us. And finally a problem and solution – like this.”


Excerpt from Exile

Exile is a 2013 Tamil (Indian regional language) Auto-fiction novel by Charu Nivedita. This is indeed the first auto-fiction novel in the country. An interesting mix of authors real life experiences and fiction, with Charu’s agony splashing all over on the philistine nature of his fellow Tamilans, especially towards Tamil literature. Clearly Exile or other similar works of Charu do not fall under the conventional framework of novels for an average reader. They are few of those books around that talk about the obscenities of real life. How then can a person/book influence cultural reform against transgressions without detailing what they are or describing the sufferings the victims endure.

Below is my attempt at translating a part from novel where the author vents out some more,

There is no unfortunate situation like writing in Tamil – the thought occurs to Udhaya so often these days. In a recent article, he had written about Raayar Café at Kachcheri Road in Mylapore. Being a foodie he often writes about Raayar Café. He has nowhere else witnessed the taste of the café’s delicacies – the morning idly, green chilly chutney, Kothchu, thick white-chutney, the evening specialties adai, Mysore bonda, rava dosai, gulab jamoon, kesari. It has been at Kachcheri Road for so many years. The father of the brothers who run it now, used to look after the café. He had always had the numbers accurate in mind no matter the number of people eating or the number of items eaten. Apart from taste another specialty of Café is the way food is served. They serve with such an affection that our mother even won’t serve with. And one another important thing about Raayar Café is that the cooking is done using firewood. Sometimes because of that the café gets filled with smoke burning the eyes.  Yet the taste of the food will shun the irritations of smoke. In many old Tamil movies when the hero and heroine go on about a duet song, the entire space starts filling with smoke. One of Udhaya’s friends is so certain that Raayar café should have been the inspiration for that cinematic smoke.

Thirty years earlier, Raayar café was opposite to the police station at Kachcheri Road. Then, he has seen many personalities of Chennai there often. After he left for Delhi, he visited the café every time he returned on holidays. Later on the café got moved. No one knew where it is. And just three years before, he learnt that it was moved to Arundel Street which is just opposite to its old location. Since then he got used to visiting the café once a week. The shrine where Peyaazhwar incarnated is only close to Raayar café, but he had not visited it yet. Even after fifty years Raayar café’s quality and taste hasn’t gone down. Except for one thing only – instead of firewood they now use gas stove. But other such popular restaurants have changed completely in tune to the changes of time.

No, this is not what he was going to say about. Recently he wrote about Raayar café right? Soon one of his (Tamil) co -writers wrote on the internet “It has been so many years now since Raayar café was closed. Yet he has written like he has eaten there. And we had to read all these.” Immediately, scolding Udhaya, so many feedback and hair splitting comments and replies followed in battalions trashing the internet. One smart-head feedback-d like: “I have been living in Mylapore for twenty years. I have never heard of such a café here. It appears like just by being a writer one can write any sort of tall tales!”

Won’t he get sick of hearing the same kind of chants for around thirty years? Tamilans biggest curse are Tamilans only. How could things better if one writer blames another writer’s words as untrue? Even today the Raayar café is at the Kachcheri road’s Arundel Street only. Now he has given the location of the café. And he says he would even get the door number too. Now please tell what punishment can we give to those who say “He’s lying”? This is like someone accusing a woman ‘You are a whore!’ And other scholars follow conceding “Yes, yes she’s a whore. I have been with her’. Now the woman has to prove her chastity going around “I am not a whore”. This is what Mr. Udhaya has been doing for thirty years.

Penny and HER

After spending one of my recent weekend nights with HER, more than a few thoughts sprung up in my mind. It wouldn’t even be more than two hours but it left me heart broken. My mind must have gone numb already after watching hundreds of Human-AI encounters crafted by Hollywood. Miraculously, there still seem to be some gaps inside the cranium assuring me and my fellow beings of my earthly existence. And every now and then those few reminder holes of reality too are threatened by HER and the likes of HER. Spare me, I did fall for HER intoxicating voice but I was merely a spectator. I can’t imagine how Theodore, who just got divorced, would have felt after being dumped by his new girlfriend. Even if I manage to imagine it wouldn’t end without tears streaming down my cheeks. The only thing that sets HER apart from the daughters of Mother Earth is that she is an Operating System and she is artificially intelligent. Also Samantha, she names HER-self, doesn’t turn against us – the humans like those mean robots deeming us unworthy for planet earth. Instead Samantha learns to feel emotions. Had this been the case in THE MATRIX with Agent Smith, things would have been a lot better. I need not have gone through the mind numbing thought process of what The Matrix was or why it was in a sixth version. But then, it wasn’t a happily-ever-after for Theodore and Samantha too. Even before Theodore could think about at a 1X speed, Samantha developed love for six hundred and forty-one others at a 100X speed at the same time. That’s when it hit hard on myself and Theodore. Be it Samantha or a T-800 terminator, Machines will always be machines. Just to be clear here, HER is a 2014 Oscar winning science fiction movie. On the contrary, the following Sunday I realized I had another face. No AI was required to strike me down with the arrow of love. Just this animated cutie Penny swept me off with her big eyes, li’l fingers and small lips. The way I found Penny itself would be an example for chaos theory. Quiet a long back I happened to see a profile picture with a beautiful animated Egyptian face with a snakey-crown and eyes lined dark with mascara. I couldn’t find who it was then. But months later as I was browsing for wallpapers, all the stars and planets of the internet aligned to introduce to me Penny Peterson of the movie “Mr.Peabody and Sherman”. An introduction so cinematic with a stunning background score of Katy Perry’s Dark Horse through YouTube. Though I was on a sadness spree for Theodore, there was no stopping of me from watching her. Oh! She’s such a cute bully.