Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tiny Tales (No. 101 - 200)

Tiny Tales (No. 101 - 200)

·  Another weekend goes by. He is bonding with friends and immersing in hobbies more than ever before. But, countless voids engulf him and his pain remains unabated, as frantic calls just to see her once again go in vain. Often God's choices can only be borne, not understood...

·  Rangoli and other decorations in place. Wide varieties of sweets and savories prepared too. And then began the long, anxious wait. After all, her son was returning home. Skype had ensured they remained in touch, but Diwali bonded them together 
· The clock shows 4 am. Some may say, it's late into the night. For some, it's the beginning of a new day already. For the hardcore party goers, it may be an end to a wonderful evening. And for those who hooked up, they may just be in the middle of a great adventure. The clock shows 4 am, but each individual's story and current state will be different. Life throws similar situations at all. But our response depends on what we want; and on our response, depends our destination 
·  Once upon a time, hated being her dance partner at the school annual function. She was obnoxious and snobbish, he thought back then. Years later, destiny chose her as his life partner
· His debut novel on love, loss, and life soon topped the bestseller charts. 'It's a work of fiction,' he said when asked about the inspiration for such a moving story. Only he knew it wasn't
·  'Bonds that don't have a name (relationship or marriage) will eventually wither away.' 'I do not quite agree. True love goes beyond the superficial realm. We do not need to be in a relationship to experience it. The best love stories are often unfinished on paper, but complete in our hearts'
·  As she drafted her resignation, she couldn't stop wondering, will the team miss me when I am gone, will they speak fondly about my best works and working style as an inspiration to new recruits, or will I be just another name lost somewhere in the employee records
·  'Beautiful weather today for a nice walk around the park, a bit of reading and relaxation, and Chai-Pakodas!' he thought, only to be distracted by an email that read, "Urgent help needed"
· Dear Life, Thank you for all the pain and failures at regular intervals. It helped me appreciate what I have and value who I have...
· Stoic demeanor, calm countenance, but his eyes conveyed a different story. Grief affects even the most powerful
· She was lovely not because she was fair; she was lovely because she was fair
· "You are all that I have. I am going to love you forever," she said touching her belly, and walked out permanently from her husband's regressive home...
·  "People tend to form negative first impressions about me. I am clumsy and socially awkward." "Don't worry at all. I believe in follow-up conversations" 
·  She didn't like the routine of waking up next to him. But she let it go. Why she didn't let go of him, no one knows
·  She sobs; she wails; she tries hard to communicate her feelings. But nobody cares, and they instead abandon the 'haunted' place
·   Stop the noise, the teacher said. Creativity shed a silent tear.
·   Too frail to walk, too drained to live. Bereft of love, abandoned by all. 'We are open', the shelter home said. 
·   Dimly lit night, cold winds, and lonely walk. A shivering body turned into a shivering soul
·   Two open minds; two loving hearts. Different religions; different nationalities. In him, he found his soulmate 
·   Six months of pent-up frustration. Not anymore. Words overflowed like Vodka, That night, candor was born .
·   Many conflicting opinions. Perpetually cluttered mind. One warm heart. One caring soul. One solution. Mother. 
·   At the park: "Sales is the toughest job," cribbed management grads in unison. Few meters away: "Finally enough to buy two samosas for family," beamed the balloon-seller. Each had targets; only one, job satisfaction 
·   Who's behind the veil is mystery. What's behing the veil is misery 
·    He burnt cities and destroyed homes. She prayed fervently for his safety. Catalyst to both, was a flame
·     A recreational outing for him. A way of life for her. Clear skies and starry night played cupid
·    Full custody, the verdict said. Four years later, he remembers only her smile
·    She dreamed of dancing at his wedding. He was friend-zoned for life
·    'With you, small moments become magical memories,' he confessed as she snuggled in his arms. The couple was onboard a hijacked plane
·    'Forever is a lie,' she knew. Yet in that one serendipitous night of togetherness, in his tender hugs, in his passionate kisses, she found her forever
·    Once again a long, crazy fight... " You've changed. I don't love you anymore" he retorts. She smiles, the plan has worked. Endless love was their unsaid truth 
·       That morning, a man died and a man was born
·       Years later, he would be an expert in psychology and depression, and she would smile from her grave. She was his best anti-depressant
·       'Let's Netflix and chill,' she said. The guy was innocent no more'
·       Time and again, unwillingly, the coolest dad played bad cop so that his children could turn out good...
·       What I am experiencing is so much similar to something I have read,' said a man. Years ago: 'I should write a book based on this experience,' said an author. Life imitates art; or maybe art imitates life...
·       'He is so tiny,' he said, as he held the baby in his arms. The 80 year old Grandpa had just found a reason to live
·       Hearing her voice brought peace to his mind, joy to the heart, and satisfaction to life. An old voice note was his most treasured possession
·       'You spied...' 'You cheated...' Second chance?
·       Once celebrated as the best cop in 'Prevention of crime against women'. Now a drunkard who beats his wife daily
·       Once the ring was off, her glow was back...
·       In the little girl's eyes, she saw hope. She saw enthusiasm. She saw pride. And, India smiled...
·       'Yes' was the answer she was eagerly waiting to give. He just asked the wrong question
·       Once upon a time, the sky loved the sea a lot. The horizon played cupid. Well, almost...
·       “This may be our last time together..." The condom tore, uniting them forever...
·       "Strategy, growth, differentiation, profits..." Three months later: No change. The visionary sighed, yet again
·       "We are just friends..." They were clear about it, until they reached the marriageable age...
·       Daughter in ICU... For the first time, the doctor wished his diagnosis was incorrect.  The mind knew; the heart still hoped
·       Her exuberance and panache attracted him. His introversion and simplicity, she found endearing. Poles apart, yet their worlds converged, just like the Maximum City...
·       'She is always so polite, calm, and warm...' Only the people close to her knew her truest, flawed self. They surprisingly stayed nevertheless
·       Once during ‘Truth and Dare’, his friends asked, 'Have you ever loved two people at the same time?' 'Yes, the guy I love and the girl I am marrying'
·       'I have never met anyone famous...' The crib transformed into a dream, and shaped her destiny. Ten years later, she is country's biggest teen sensation
·       Cab drivers' strike, pilots' strike, employees' strike... so frequent, so disruptive. Would life come to a standstill, he wonders, if Mom goes on a strike someday?
·       Once upon a time, two broken hearts went in. Out, came two best friends
·       He gave her 'his time', yet he couldn't love her... She gave him 'time', for he was worth the wait... For every 'forever', there's an 'almost'
·       Once again, he tried kissing her; once again, she recoiled. Ah, Alzheimer's
·       The couple's eyes epitomized expression, their hands grace, their souls movement, and their dance romance, that too from a wheelchair
·       Amidst the cacophony at the airport, sat a quiet little girl, sullen, pensive, still wishing there was someone on the ground to catch her father when he had fallen from the skies a month ago
·       'Mountains or beaches?' 'Anywhere, as long as it is with you. Even home’
·       Once he went shopping for his fiancé. Bumped into his ex. And inadvertently, forgot the present
·       Once upon a time, they married her off at 17. She had given birth six times already.  Today on her 27th birthday, she gave birth to her DREAMS
·       Once again the smartphone suggested a romantic nickname to complete ‘good morning’ message. The person had changed, the nickname stayed
·       She was looking drop-dead gorgeous and her friends flowered her with praises...But only he could sense the sad, worried look in her eyes, the nervous twitching of her fingers, and the fakeness in her smile. 'What's wrong?' he asked. Finally someone who knows the real me,' she replied
·       'Travel business class, stay in 5 star hotels, buy a house in Mumbai, be rich...' 'Find the love of my life and lead a simple life in the mountains...' Two best friends; starkly different aspirations
·       'Will you marry my daughter?' 'No, I don't love her' he said, feeling crushed inside. The daughter smiled. 'Such a selfless man,' she thought
·       Last seen on WhatsApp at 12.33 am. Last seen alive at 12.35 am... Who knew that behind the now successful 'don't text and drive' campaigns was the pioneer's personal tragedy
·       Life had become a checklist for her. Between managing a home, raising three kids, and bearing her in-laws' tantrums, her identity had become a blur. In her little daughter's dream, she was happy...
·       Leisurely stroll in the park, listening to the birds' chirping. Casual reading, sitting in the quiet shade by the tree. An hour without electricity and Wi-Fi added a quaint, blissful charm to the teenager's life
·       'Love or money?' 'Peace of mind
·       Once again his phone beeped. Twelve hours after she was gone, Wi-Fi delivered her last words
·       Once she asked him for an interesting story... 'Okay, it was from my trip to Ireland' 'Oh wait, you haven't been there' ‘exactly. I may not have many to share, but I want to experience them with you...' In his pocket, were two flight tickets
·       Once he was around, she didn't need anybody else. With him gone, she didn't have anyone. Grief tore her apart; writing kept her alive
·       She faked terminal illness with the hope that her estranged son will come visit her. It was her second lie ever. Her life has been a prolonged first
·       Once again they offered; he vehemently opposed. They tried forcing; he wouldn't budge. Stubbornness. Impasse. Yet another dramatic meal for Papa, Mama, and their two year old Baby
·       'You should be your number one priority...' The non-confrontational teenager had finally found a voice. Three days later, the wedding was called off
·       The clock struck six. Two males, separated by 27 years, smiled. It was the only time in the day when they crossed paths. One back from night school; the other getting ready for yet another day as a bonded labourer
·       They sat for hours by the sea, admiring the sunset, then counting stars, or watching ships far away. Not a lot of words were exchanged; yet much was expressed through their coy smiles, as she gently rested her head on his shoulder, and he caressed her hands tenderly. 'Perfect date. Even after fifty years,' the grandmother of two said
·       Callous words. Mercurial rage. Perennial insecurity... Family distanced. Friends abandoned. Lover betrayed... And, yet another addict was born
·       Once an idealist dreamer. Then a selective optimist. Now a permanent cynic. Life flashed a sadistic smile. "Who's next?" it wondered
·       Thunderous applause as he rushed to collect the award. From the corner of his eye, he saw her. Joy in her eyes, pride in her claps, yet restraint in her expressions.  If only he wasn't married
·       Wipes out all data. Their images. Their chats. Her contact.  So close to achieving a clean slate. And that's when, a Facebook memory pops up
·       Such an architectural marvel, thousands of onlookers exclaimed. Yet only one acknowledged the hundreds of workers that built it brick-by-brick, toiling in scorching summers, torrential rains, and freezing winters
·       Poisoned words. Mudslinging. Violent slaps. Shattered glass. All this, while their baby slept peacefully, perhaps dreaming of Mommy's hugs and kisses, and Daddy's funny faces from earlier that afternoon
·       Lived her entire life in darkness. Constantly dreamed of a prince to rescue her. And one fine day, he did arrive. The eye donor; her savior
·       As the geeky girl frantically solved the Physics problems, two rows behind, the chubby boy counted time for the exam to end. Today he would offer her the window seat and a chocolate, he decided. Chemistry superseded Physics
·       'Wake me at 3 am. Flight at 6.'  His mother held back her tears. It was time to become active on Skype & Facebook
·       'I won!!!' screamed the politician in elation. 'We lost...yet again!!!' cried the motherland in dejection
·       Having waited so long to see her again, to kiss her, the tiny droplet commenced his descent. Soon the air will carry the fragrance of the orgasmic union of the rain and the earth
·       Looks at a shooting star. Wishes for her unparalled happiness. A few months later, finds her happy with someone else. Captures her dimpled smile in his memory and walks away
·       Masters degree, check. Six figure salary, check. Right age to get married, they said. Perfect time for solo travel around the world, he beamed
·       Once again, he mustered courage. Best companion for decades. Countless memories. Choked up yet couldn't deny he was smitten by a foreigner. And sold the Ambassador
·       Once again, regret flooded his mind. He couldn't protect her. His negligence led to burglary of more than five million. 'It's okay. Such things happen,' she said, hugging him tight. 'Sorry!' he WOOFED...
·       Purposely lost the game of chess. The joy on his son's face was his biggest win that day 
·       Candle-lit dinner amidst clear skies...A romantic fad for the wealthy. A way of life for the poor living in small tents without electricity 
·       'I was lost until I found you,' said the engineer to the pen. He finally made his career choice 
·   ·      Every Friday, she dresses up, wears high heels, and parties at the most happening clubs.Yet feels the most comfortable dancing on Bollywood numbers, in her pajamas, hair untied and messy, and without her shoes on

·    ·     Rich man in BMW
Honks frantically, hoping to take his dying wife to hospital in time...
Poor man along the pavement
Pushes his dying wife on a vegetable cart hoping to do the same...
Mumbai traffic, truly a leveler…

·    ·   Spots a shooting star. Doesn't wish for anything...
The seven year old orphan knew that what he really desired could never come true

·    ·     She sees him staring at her...
'Do you love him?' his father asks
'Not yet; but with time, I will...'
And, she holds her husband's illegitimate newly born son close

Thursday, November 5, 2015



It feels amazing to have reached a milestone of 100 tales. Thank you for all your support in making this possible. Happy reading!!!

 ·  ·    He lived the moment; she lived to publish the moment. Years later, she did seek old treasures whereas his was already found.

 lived the moment; she lived to publish the moment. Years later, she seeked old treasures; whereas his was already found
·   He eventually became a bestselling author, yet the proposal written on a crumpled paper was his most defining work.He eventually became a bestselling author, yet the proposal written on a crumpled paper was his most defining work 

· 'What's this one for?' she asked. 'This one's for you; for just being you.' He gently placed the rose and walked away from the cemetery. It was their most special routine.

 ·The workaholic amassed a lot of wealth and built many a beautiful villa; yet none he could call a 'Home'.

·  The little girl looked at her father from a distance, in awe and admiration as a flock of kids rushed towards him, some shouting his name, some waving towards him, some jumping with joy at just the sight of him. To the world, the man was just another insignificant balloon seller, but to her, he was nothing short of a celebrity.

 ·   · In a parallel universe, they would have got married, had babies, and lived a life of bliss. But, today they lay beside each other, somewhere in the nondescript marshes, brutally slaughtered by their own parents.

In a parallel universe, they would have got married, had babies, and lived a life of bliss. But, today they lay beside each other, somewhere in the nondescript marshes, brutally slaughtered by their own parents· ·        Every time she changes her profile photo, she is bombarded with a flurry of appreciation within minutes. Yet her eyes always search for that ONE most precious 'Like'. If only heaven had access to Facebook.

Every time she changes her profile photo, she is bombarded with a flurry of appreciation within minutes. Yet her eyes always search for that ONE most precious 'Like'. If only heaven had access to Faceb· 'Will you miss me when I am away?' 'Obviously. More than you know; more than I'll show.' It was their customary Goodbye every weekend, before they went back to their respective spouses.

· Right since birth, all he wanted was to be famous. Sadly, stealing a gun and killing innocent children in the park was the path he chose.Right since birth, all he wanted was to be famous. Sadly, stealing a gun and killing innocent children in the park was the path he chose

·  He now travels far and wide, and eats the finest of cuisines around the world; yet his most cherished meals remain the roadside chaat, cutting chai, and Vada Pav that he ate at the end of a laborious day as an orphaned beggar.

·  She stormed out wanting alimony and custody of their two year old daughter. He just wanted peace of mind. By the time she came back to hand him the divorce papers, he had already committed suicide.

 · The sister still adores him from a distance. The mother still includes him in her prayers. Theirs used to be a happy family. But that was before he eloped.

 ·  It was raining heavily that morning. Two strangers rushed to hail a lone cab. That day, they didn't reach their destination, but a few pakodas, and an effortless conversation later, their journey became one.
·   She spent the entire day cooking a wide range of the finest of eateries. Some wondered whether the entire neighbourhood was being invited for dinner. But no, she was just expressing her love towards her son who was returning home that night, after six long months.

·  He loved her from a distance. Three years later, finally he mustered enough courage to express his feelings. The college farewell ceremony turned out to be a new beginning for their fairytale.

 ·  'You are the one I live for. You are the one I can happily die for.' The young soldier's love for his motherland was selfless and relentless, even in the sub-zero temperatures of Siachen.

·   He complimented her beauty daily as she wore the most exquisitely stylish dresses and the perfect make-up. But his eyes always found her the prettiest at 3 am, sleeping peacefully beside him, with zero makeup and unkempt hair, and with a faint smile on her lips.

·  On his 30th birthday, his parents pestered him to get married. A part of him felt inconsolable pain and a part felt stinging rage, and he stormed off. Little did they know that in his heart, he was already married to a love long lost and never to return. 

· He leaned in closer and then paused, for he didn't want to complicate their bond. She experienced a surge of pain but also a tinge of relief. They had let the 'moment' pass, yet again.
· All her childhood memories came crashing upon her as she realized perhaps this was the end of a lovely association that lasted several years. Her midnight companion, her morning delight. She would truly miss Maggi a lot.

· A decade later, when he visited his village again, he saw a little girl sitting outside a tea shop playing with marbles. The familiarity of the face brought back memories of that fateful day when he had no choice but to bid goodbye to a person he loved, his first love, now the mother of the little girl in front of him.

· As soon as it rained for the first time, many guys went out on bike rides with friends, many couples went on romantic dates, and many kids played with paper boats. Yet no one thought of the poor kid who was rendered homeless due to a bolt of lightning.

· He learnt the guitar, and composed innumerable songs with the sole intention of impressing her. But looking back, he says he got the most satisfaction from playing popular Bollywood songs for the orphaned children every Sunday afternoon.

· As he waited for an auto, he tried his best to navigate his umbrella to avoid getting wet in the torrential rain... only to be left cursing as a car zoomed by, splashing muddy water all over his new white shirt.

· He narrated their story to her, yet again... The first time they met, their first walk in the rain, their first kiss, their wedding, the ups and downs through their marriage, their 40th anniversary... Everything except the accident six months ago that put her in this comatose state.

· Absence had made their heart grow fonder, or so they thought. It was only when they met after ages that they realized they preferred the absence.
· She spent days and nights creating the best personalized gift for his birthday, only to see it get misplaced by the courier company... She then travelled thousands of miles to surprise him, only to find him celebrating with another woman.

· The kid slept peacefully holding his mother's hand, blissfully unaware of the riots, bombings, and killings going on the streets outside. Somewhere else in the world, another kid was being trained to become a suicide bomber.

· Their favorite songs changed, their habits evolved, their mode of expression became subdued... But their love transcended eras, still remaining strong even after 35 years.

· For him, the sole motivation for moving to the US was 'to run away from memories' of his ex-girlfriend, now about to be married to someone else... Better career progression opportunities, higher salary, and a luxurious lifestyle never cropped into his mind.

· Years ago, he wanted to enroll his daughter into one of the prestigious schools of the city, but was humiliated due to lack of ability to provide donations. That day he told her, "the education system may be for the rich, but learning is for all. Hard work will help you make it large." Today, she is a well-respected entrepreneur, running more than 200 schools across the country, providing quality education to poor kids with desire to learn.

· He tried writing a 'TinyTale' for her but couldn't decide what to focus on. Should he write about their indispensable friendship, or their wonderful moments together, or her myriad traits that he admired, he wondered. Eventually he gave her a blank diary to capture priceless memories of their subsequent outings.

· Waking up her husband and kids. DONE. Cooking food for them. DONE. Washing clothes and cleaning the house. DONE. Listening to in-laws tantrums. DONE. Listening to kids' demands once they are back. DONE. Listening to husband's work-related frustrations. DONE... Years passed by; no one heard her. If only empathy was a two-way street in the traditional Indian society.

· No matter how busy the schedules are, the 'three musketeers', as they were known in college, made sure they met at least once every six months to celebrate their friendship, to reminisce the old times, and to bring back the spark in their mundane lives... Today marks the 20th anniversary of their friendship.

· Time machine does exist, for it took them just ten seconds to go back to the good old school days to relive events that happened a decade ago... the first crushes they had, the teachers they hated, the pranks they played, the banter they shared, and much more.

· July 2012: "You are such a nerd."
   July 2015: "You are such a savior. Every single time."
   From mere acquaintances to close friends, in three years, they had come a long way.
· "There's no place for me in this world. I should have been born in a different era when people were nicer," exclaimed the man who was looted and backstabbed by the same folks who had been recipients of his generosity and kindness for more than a year now. 

 · The raging thunderstorms outside aptly and vividly captured the turmoil of her heart. If only he knew. If only he could sense. If only!

· Throughout the summer, people around him couldn't stop raving about the Indian Premier League.. He feigned interest but all this time, the purist in him was counting days to the ultimate cricketing contest - The Ashes, daily hoping it would be as nail-biting as the one that took place exactly a decade ago.
· They made a promise to live a lifetime in every heartbeat and make every moment of togetherness a memory to cherish. His last stage cancer had helped them bond like never before.

· "Did you like the gift?" she asked.. "Yes, it is perfect" he replied with a hug. Little did she know that her company and spending time with her was the REAL gift.

· She lost faith in humanity on her fifth birthday, as her inebriated 'uncle' derived pleasure from touching her private parts. His political clout ensured his acquittal while the little girl was scarred for life.

· Exhausted after yet another day of unproductive work, unfinished deliverables, and unheard concerns, the only solace in her life was the unarticulated laughter, unsynchronized movements, and unconditional love of her baby.

· His eyes met with the prettiest girl in the pub. Some smooth lines were all it took to get them talking. And a few Vodka shots later, conversations flowed like wine and it felt as if they had known each other forever. That's when he noticed her ring.

· All he cared about was her happiness, and so did she. Her self-obsessed nature meant that his selfless affection went unrequited.

· On the third Sunday of every month, he cleaned his cupboard. Looking at old personalized gifts brought back bittersweet memories. As he drank in loneliness that afternoon, 'happiness is fleeting', he mused yet again.

· As his social life blossomed and he became 'forever busy' for her, she realised he spent time with her earlier only because it was a convenient avenue to kill time. Only when she walked away did it hit him that losing her was his biggest loss.

·  That night, they made love with ignited passions for they knew it was their only night together. Next day, he would again be thousands of miles away, protecting the borders, not knowing when or IF he would return.

· Today morning, the baby uttered her first words 'Papa'. Her deaf and dumb father leapt with joy, elated that his daughter was able to sense his love and affection, even though it was just through touch and expressions.

· The perfect chai on a rainy day, the beautiful conversations on a windy evening, the long, unending walks on a starry night. So many priceless memories associated with the place, that it was no surprise to many when they eventually decided to exchange rings at Marine Drive.

·  "Just look at her. Always gets all the attention in the world, wherever she goes."

"You have me. Isn't that enough?"
She smiled, knowing he was right.
· One of his goals this year was to learn to say NO. And he did. He said NO to his dear family, he said NO to his close friends, he said NO to his hobbies. He learnt to say NO to almost everything. If only he had applied at work, if only he cared about finding the right balance in life.
· Through his thoughts, he was a visionary. Through his actions, he was exemplary. A man who took India to great heights, a man committed to nation-building till his last breath. My mind goes back to a day three years ago when he had delivered a lecture at my alma mater, and inspired me to be a better person.

· "I don't need to dream anymore. My reality is way more beautiful than my dreams," she exclaimed holding her newborn baby, with the love of her life sitting by her side. It was the perfect family moment.

· He always wanted their last memory to be special. He now has no regrets about parting ways with her. For he is sure that memory of the perfect day will keep him alive and happy for a long time, despite her absence.

· With a friendship band in his hand, nervous hope in his heart, and twinkle in his eyes, he waited for his crush to arrive in school. Asking her to be his friend was his biggest achievement in life.

·"It seems that you have everything in life. But are you happy?"
"There are days when I am. There are days I am not. I guess I am just learning to make peace with it."
 "Getting what will make you happy?"
 "The answer is never a what. It is always a WHO." he replied, as his mind went back into a trance.

· "How was your week?"
"Oh come on, don't ask. It's been so crazy. Putting almost 16 hours a day."
 "Oh damn, that's a lot. Trying to close a big deal, is it?"
 "Ah, I wish it was something that significant." He sighed, and resumed work on the 33rd iteration of his mundane deliverable.

· "Hey, sorry for asking. But you seem upset. Are you alright?"
The stranger nodded and said "yes" in a feeble voice. I wasn't convinced and asked her again, "do you mind sharing? I can be a good listener." And she did. For more than two hours, she went on and on, till she finally managed to find the lotus in the muck.
 "You are truly an angel." she said when we parted. And I smiled.

· At the traffic signal, daily I see a little girl of about ten, selling pens, notebooks, flowers - a different thing each day. Today as I bought the Indian tricolor from her, she said, "Sahib, you won't see me from tomorrow. A family will be paying for my education." I wished her all the best, happy that humanity still exists in this world.

· "Goodbye!" she said, as their lips parted. It would be six months before they can see each other again. Yes, there's always a Skype or a Viber, but somehow their minds recounted the countless couples who couldn't bear the pangs of pain of a long distance relationship, who changed and eventually drifted apart.
·'You look visibly uncomfortable. What's wrong?'
'Haha, nothing. Just that the music is too loud for my liking.'
 'Aww, let's go for a walk, and then maybe you can come over to my place later for a while?'
 He was snapped out of the wonderful daydream when the girl started gloating how her boyfriend is just perfect.

· On her last day in town, he had so much to say but all that came out was a stammer 'all the best'. Thousands of words remained unsaid, hundreds of desires remained unspoken; yet she knew. She sensed it all, gently held his hand and said, "You are the sole reason for my smile. Stay in touch!"

· 'So, which is your most favorite poem?' And his mind drifted back 6 years to the girl he had written it for. After he lost her, he was sure he would never fall in love again, but now, to his fiancé, he replied, 'I know that my most favorite poems will be the ones I write for you. On every birthday of yours. On every anniversary of ours. Love you till the end.’

· When he was a child, he hugged his mother daily post dinner and thanked her for all the efforts she put in being the perfect mother and homemaker. In return, the mother always asked him about his day and eagerly heard his mundane stories. Fifteen years have gone by, yet these tiny habits still continue to define and strengthen their bond.
· 'What is the value of your management education if it's not used to run educational institutions, hospitals, start-ups, and non-profits in our country?' His inspiring speech received a thunderous applause and soon after, he left the venue, smoking a Cuban cigar in his German car to meet a European client, hoping to crack yet another million dollar deal for his American company.
· 'I'll quit. I can't handle this anymore!' she banged her desk, in utmost frustration. That's when she was distracted by yet another email that read 'Urgent'. And out came her prompt reply, 'Sure, will take care of it.' As she burnt the midnight oil, she realized that in her quest to manage upwards (boss), sadly, she had forgotten how to manage inwards (self).

·  'I want to be better than everyone else.'
 'I want to be the best I can be, and better than how I was yesterday,'
 Both individuals became extremely successful in life, and while the world lauded the former more, the latter was admired and respected more.
 · He kept browsing through her Facebook profile, looking at her old photos, remembering the good times. He picked up the phone a few times, wanting to call her, but just couldn't as her words 'Do not try to contact me again' reverberated in his ears. A perfect bond had withered away, and it was all his fault. 

· 'How can you forget my favorite song?'
'I clearly remember the smallest of expressions on your face, 
the innocence in your eyes, and the tiniest of details of our memories. But if you ask me your favorite song or color, I'll falter.'
 He had the knack of impressing her with the right words.

 ·  'People around me are just not inspiring.'
'I hear you. You can either continue to crib about it, or you can choose to become the ideal inspiration for others who look up to you so that they don't have to face a similar frustrating situation. The choice is yours.' A dad's advice is often the best advice.

· He loved her immensely, yet convinced her conservative father to marry her off to the person she truly loved. He had dreamt of playing a lead role in her life, but realized it's sometimes more important to play a pivotal supporting role.

· She changed her home, her car, her phone, and everything else that reminded her of the past. Exactly two years after her divorce, she had finally decided to move on.

· He wanted to escape the hardships of poverty and ran away to Mumbai to give direction to his big, bold dreams. After six months of living on the streets, going hungry for days at a stretch, working as a waiter during day and as a watchman at night, he enrolled himself in a local college and five years later found himself a job in the biggest Indian conglomerate, earning more in a day than what his father earned in a lifetime.

· Though he considered himself a man without dreams and ambitions, his luck and his loved ones' blessings ensured he got all the success anyone could possibly think of - from a Harvard MBA to being a bestselling author. Today, on his fortieth birthday, he opens his autobiography with the quote, "Sometimes life serendipitously carves out a beautiful path for you. You just have to enjoy the ride.”

· 'Ah, that's a really big fish!" he exclaimed excitedly, as he read the name again. 'One per day'; that's how the vigilante worked. After killing close to 25 murderers, next in line was a serial rapist.

· 'Why do people expect us to make sense all the time?'
 'Yeah, that's sad! Life should be about being with people that you can be silly and random with, who will appreciate you FOR how you are, and not DESPITE how you are.'
 'Yes, like you.’

· 'Can we bring home a Ganesha idol?' the little girl once asked her parents. It's been ten years now, and the Muslim family has maintained the tradition, fervently following all the rituals of the festival. When asked why, her father said, 'Ganeshotsava is religion-agnostic. If only we celebrated all festivals without a religious undertone. Harmony and peace between all religions and communities will become a reality.’

· 'Lot of love and pampering, soulful hymns, and mouth-watering Modaks await.', the chubby Ganesha beamed, as he got ready for his annual vacation, only to be welcomed by the cacophony of latest item numbers, blasphemy of drunk dancers, one-upmanship of Pandals, and more.

· 'At times, I travel in trains and buses because it helps me stay humble and connected to the people I am serving.' said the CEO of an organization with close to 100 crore annual turnover, who had also pledged 50 percent of his wealth to charity.

· She knew his phone unlock code, the date of their most precious memory. Years later, his password remained the same, but the memory was overwritten by his wedding on the same date, to another woman.

· "You two used to be very close and now you hardly talk. What happened?” her fiance asked her, with curiosity. Her heart wanted to confess 'unrequited love’; but what came out instead was the clichéd "we moved cities and just got busy with careers and life.”
· As he came running towards her with the manuscript of his debut novel in hand, her mind went back twenty five years ago to a day when he had scribbled his first alphabet. "I am the world's proudest mother," she said.
· 'I am feeling so stressed I'd die. There's just so much stuff to get done.'
 'I can totally understand. Try diverting your mind.'
 And, so he did. His mind drifted to thoughts of her, beautiful moments spent with her, and his lips broke into an everlasting smile. All was well again.
· Daily he came across familiar faces: a disgruntled uncle reading the news, a teenaged boy texting continuously, a middle-aged woman chatting with her little girl sitting beside, an old woman nursing her tired knees, and so on. Little did they know that they would soon feature in his travel blogs and chronicles. Truly, strangers can captivate our attention so vividly and inspire us in myriad ways.

· 'Guilty' was the unanimous decision even before the trial began. The vehement, eloquent speeches of the state prosecutor coupled with the biases of the media strengthened the decision even more. If only they were willing to hear his side of the story - the truth about what happened that night.

· 'Time is running out,' he said frantically. 'Try to forget me,' she responded calmly, assuming he was referring to her parents' plan to marry her off through the arranged marriage route. If only she knew that he had just a few months to live, and it was she who would eventually need to forget him.
·  Boss: 'Figure out what excites you the most and try to carve out a niche for yourself.'
Employee: 'Everything that we do is very interesting and diverse. It's just the people I have issues with.’
· 'There is so much focus on being wealthy, but hardly anyone wants to be known for their kindness. You can change the mindset; the world needs another Mother Teresa,' he spoke with passion, at the Philanthropy Summit. Somewhere in heavens, his parents smiled, proud their son had grown up to be such a nice person.

· 'You are so matured for your age. Such a grown up,' they proudly complimented their eleven year old daughter. She smiled but deep down, she wished her life was carefree like her friends' at school, and she didn't have to create floral garlands and run around trying to sell them on festive occasions.

· 'I am feeling so bored today. Let's go watch a movie.'
'Which one? Shaandaar?'
 'I don't mind. But it's got pretty bad reviews.'
 'Yeah, but if we can support a regressive, corrupt, underperforming Government because of lack of options, why not a movie!!!’

·  She uploaded a picture on Facebook and the flurry of Likes began. A few hours later:
 '500 Likes again. Miss Popular you are!'
 'Haha. Thank you. But there is 1 that really matters and it feels incomplete without that.'
 He fiddled with the phone, opened her profile, Liked the pic and asked, 'Do you feel complete now?'
 Her smile said it all.

·   'In today's corporate world, you need to be shrewd and a sweet-talker to succeed.'
'I don't think so. I let my work do the talking.’

· 'I will defeat you today,' he challenged me as usual. Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost. Yet his indomitable spirit, relentless tenacity, and endless perseverance was at display each time. Today, on his 20th birthday, all I can say is, 'you will not win every game you play, but do keep the ambition and spark alive and you will succeed in life.’

· 'You are putting such long hours daily. Don't you feel exhausted?'
‘Actually no. When you love what you are doing, the joy and motivation comes from within...'
 While he truly meant what he said, he was also relieved that Friday had arrived.

· 'Hey congrats! So, when's the big day?'
'Two months from now.' She paused for a moment and then 
added, 'I don't want to get married.'
 'Then why are you? Follow your dreams. Go abroad, have fun in life. You always have the choice of walking away.'
 'Life isn't a Bollywood movie. Sometimes you don't.’

· 'Men with beards look so matured and handsome,' she had said. To impress her, he started growing one. Yet eventually she fell for him not for his looks, but for his innocent charm and the way he cared for her, often going out of the way just to make her smile.

· 'Why are you so silent? Seems like we have nothing to talk today,' she said, feeling disappointed.
 'Haha, nothing like that. I am just soaking in the moment. It seems so perfect walking next to you, holding your hand, enjoying the cool breeze, and wishing the day never ends.’

· Every year, his mother would make mouth-watering sweets and snacks during Diwali. This year, the little boy wanted to help out. He woke up early, worked diligently for two hours without interruption, then called his mother and said, "I wanted to surprise you." In his hand was a beautiful sketch of his mother making all the wonderful savories with 'Thank you, Ma' written below.

‘100 tales, wow! But not a single tale has crossed 100 Likes. Does that bother you?’
‘I won’t deny that I haven’t dreamt of it. But to be honest, what matters more is receiving genuine appreciation. So, my only hope is that a few of my tales have made people happy or nostalgic or touched their heart. Because, without that, 100 is just another number...'

To be continued...