Sunday, August 30, 2015

Love At A Coffee Shop- A Transgender Story

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

She looked at me frankly and curious too. I found her enchanting. She had long hair, wavy but ended in curls, blond highlights that might have faded away to a dull finish now. Her eyes were small with a button like nose and a mouth that held the most beautiful smile. I turned over on my seat and blinked at my image staring back at me in the mirror. 
I could see the woman who was hiding behind manly clothes, waiting for everyone to see me as just that. How could anyone know how i felt? A woman. A man. Or both?
I just knew that down inside I was born to be a woman. 
The cup of coffee getting cold beneath my fingers as I fidgeted with a broken pencil, just like my broken spirit. I still had the previous evening to write but the writer in me didn't. I just wanted sit back in my chair and finish the book. I wish it was a romance because if anything that I needed in my life was just love. My parents are still unaware. They think that I am their little boy. My face was changing too and with the hormone supplement, I was feeling sensitive and teary-eyed often.
"Do you mind if I sit with you? The entire coffee shop seems to be filled with young students", the man sat without my consent and I looked away, not wanting to meet his eyes. 
"Sure", I muttered, still staring into my book.
"Would you like another coffee? I don't see that consumable now", he was trying to be light. Trying to laugh but I didn't know how to react. I was wary of his friendliness.
"No. I am fine".
After a few minutes of silence, I found him staring at me, and mostly trying to peep into my book. 
"You haven't written a word since you are here. Do you want to borrow a pen?"
He handed out an expensive looking pen at me, "Take it. It won't bite".
I took it without hesitation. Will that shut him up? I was staring at him now. He was a handsome guy. Not in a model like of way. He had a receding hairline but his eyes and face had an open endearing look that I could not imagine anyone saying 'No' to him. He wore a simple blue stripped shirt with rolled up sleeves, showing off his very tanned wrists and fingers that seemed to clench and unclench over his cup of coffee. He had long fingers and his body was bulky as if he worked out in the gym.
"Would you mind if I tell you that you are one of the most pretty faces I have ever seen in a long time?"
I didn't mind at all.
"I get that a lot".
Even when I dressed as a man. I got that compliment. Not handsome. Pretty. And I glowed under my mother's disapproving eyes.
"You should let me buy you a coffee".
"No thanks. I have a doctor's appointment and I can't really have much of caffeine with my prescription".
My voice had change through time now. Six months! And I did deliberately tone my voice down, try to sound like a girl.
"You look fit to me..."
I wanted to tell him everything and stop this useless flirtation. I am not what you think I am. I am a transgender. But still a woman who wants to come out in this world and be herself.
But I just got up and left, leaving behind a romance that could have been mine. 

A year later

Same Coffee Shop.

I held my book in my hands. Finished. Published and open in front of the entire world now. The publisher had been excited to get this manuscript, said that India was getting into this 'Pride' moment. This is what it needed. I could literally see the dollar signs in his eyes. And I wasn't too unhappy about my royalty check too. I was independent now. I could afford that sex change operation now. My parents were still coming to terms with my sexuality and I was coming to terms with my life at the moment. I was twenty now. Studying in the college where I used to be a boy. 

"Can I get an autograph, Ms Writer?"
I picked up the pen for another signature. Nina. That was the name I had chosen from Niel. 
"Red suits you".
I looked up and saw him again. He still had the same lazy smile as if it hadn't shocked him.
"Hi again", I said shyly, "So now you know and you can hate me. I am used to it".
"Would it shock you if you if I asked you for a coffee now?"
I lost my voice.
"I mean after you are done with the event. Let's get to know each other again. Man or woman, I really find you intriguing".
And I said yes. It felt freeing. And I felt like I was flying already. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Rainbow On The Other Side- A Gay Love Story

When he took her hands in his, he knew that it was already too late. Or was it? He was going to tell her the truth though. Almost five years and they still couldn't conceive. And it was not fair lying now. But she was glowing tonight as if hiding a delicious secret and she stood, tip toed and kissed his mouth roughly, welcoming him home. That was what he loved about this woman, she made his life complete.

"I have the something to tell you", she said before he could say anything more.
He saw the suitcase before he opened his mouth. It was outside the bedroom, in blue four wheeler, small and seemed to be neatly packed. They hardly took any trips outside their home town and his mother being a permanent guest in their home, they never got the time alone they needed.
"Are we going some where?"
"No, I am going. You are going to stay here", she sounded clam and the curls on her forehead bounced as she stood in front of his, her hands neatly folded in the pleats of her saree.
"I am leaving you".
"Is it because of my problem?" He knew that he could't give her a baby and that made her bitter over time, "because please don't go", He didn't know how to plead because his heart was breaking.
Her eyes were sweeping away, hiding the tears, "It was never the baby. I saw you with him".
He sucked in sharply and stared into her eyes, "Again?"
"I know that men".
He looked around frantically, hoping that his mother didn't overhear.
"She knows", as if on cue she answered, "And it's okay. You should have never married me and I shouldn't have pretended that our life was anything but normal".
He winced, "But I love you".
"You don't want me. We have wasted too many years together. It's time to find our path. And you accept for who you are".
He still couldn't say it out loud. He was ashamed. The secrecy kept him sane and this was anything but normal. And wasn't he thinking that he was being so clever?

He saw her leave. He knew that her family wasn't going to like it but he was not going to stop her. He saw his phone and it was buzzing again. He wanted to meet him again. That shady bar that he always went when he wanted to be himself. Now he switched it off. And went to talk to his mother. It was time that they talked things out. He was going to find someone who loved him for himself. But before that he had to love himself.

This Story was written for #Indispire under Indiblogger. The theme is #Loveinspiration

A Road Trip To Matheran

I wanted to write about Matheran for quite sometime now but never got the time. And it's an experience that you can never forget. 

We drove some 700 kilometres from Hyderabad to reach this hilly town to enjoy the summers expecting it to be a little cooler than the other cities in India. Unfortunately there was no respite. It was as hot and we were sweating by the time the evening came. So, a tip, not really the best place to chill during summers. But what we loved about this place was its serenity and beauty. The best time it was to get up early in the morning and take a ride towards any of the points to enjoy a view of Matheran. Some of my favourite points have been Sunset point, Louisa point and Lion's point (Which is on our way towards Matheran). 
Haath Gaadi
Horse Rides all around Matheran

To to begin with we reached our resort one afternoon. We parked our car and took the horses and hate gaudy to reach up. If you have a backpack then it's great to walk up and down. A good exercise and you get to see and take a lot of pictures. I enjoyed my horse ride too much to let go of it. Let's just say that I felt like royalty on it and the steadiness of a horse and its warm coat just gave me comfort in this new unknown town. After dropping our bags, we headed on foot to the market where you see shops with leather bags on display and knick knacks that you could just do without. I did but a messenger bag to carry my phone (to take pictures) and a diary to jot down my thoughts and of course my son's bottle (for milk). So that my hands were free to hold the reins of my horse.  The walk was great in the evening because we had the shops to entertain us. There were no cars or bicycles only horses and hate gaudy dominating the paths. A lot of abandoned houses left behind. I could see many parsi surnames engraved on the names plates, so I am hoping that they moved on with their kids. 

The sunset point was two kilometres from our resort so we walked up and down and waited with a lot of other tourists to watch the sun set. It was a beautiful evening, we had our cups of tea and vada pau to pass the time. My parents had come along so, it really felt calm and peaceful chatting away. My son was for a change staying put and didn't run much. The sun had set but then and we clicked a few pictures and wow-ed at the beauty. Down below I could also see a tribal village (far far away) and I wondered their about their life down there. 
Louisa Point

For Louisa Point, we got up early in the morning, around 5 and had a leisure ride towards the place. It was still early so no tourists around and it really did look like a spot where movies could shoot a romantic song. But the horse riders told us that bollywood didn't come here for any scenes at all. It was just too much work to carry equipment up and then set up. The strict rules around for not having a car or any vehicle up to Matheran was really a put off and i wondered how much more this town could survive on just horses and mediocre tourism antics. I also heard another rumour while we visited another point that Anil Ambani was slowly buying off the hotels in Matheran and planning to shut the town down if they didn't allow cars up. And seriously it really didn't make sense to me. The beauty did depend of the soulless sighs of the mountains and we could just see beyond the stubbornness of locals here. 
Toy Train Back to the Car Park

The holiday came to an end and this time we took a train to the car park because we did spend a lot of the horses and hate gad. Taking a train was a better option- now that I think. The view was beautiful, the train was slowly and steady giving you a nice lull to the things out here. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Food Tales with TinyOwl

Click to download (iOS): TinyOwl
Click to download (Android): TinyOwl
When I think about food, all  can think about is Biryani and not anywhere else but Hyderabad's authentic kitchen diaries where you get to relish the tastebuds of the Nawabs in the times of of glorious historical India. And since I am a 'pakka' Hyderabadi, I cannot compromise on taste and when it comes to delicacies, I got to have what's authentic. And surprisingly authentic biryani isn't available in some fancy restaurants but the age old cafes and restaurants that have done well in time. Some of the best examples are Paradise and Gulf Cafe. Their taste is just outstanding. 
No matter what we do end up checking out new places and some do surprise us with their promptness and service with food being utterly delicious. And some don't. I had such an experience at one famous restaurant that have opened a branch at Hitech city and I really live far away from the place, so it took effort to be there. Unfortunately the food was horrible, tasteless and still the crowd was tight. I know our love for food and the adventurous streak in us want to explore a bit more than the usual hauntings but it would have been great if it saved me the effort of driving far away totally unaware of how the restaurant is.

Somehow I love my food and when lot of people hangout at my place impromptu then ordering in makes sense. After the addition of an active toddler in home who is not really restaurant friendly, it's not always possible for me to go to a restaurant and for that home delivery is the best option for me. And I ended using TinyOwl as an app. It was just like a magic button that saves all my information if I want to order again. And the options are unlimited that you would end up lost in the app. You could decide on your cravings and depend on TinyOwl to find you the best restaurant for you. Once you have chosen a restaurant, you will find various courses displayed and you could just tick on the plus, to add to your list of food. 

I find this app extremely useful and it works great anywhere. Just the thing you need when you want to spend the day at home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Europe Style Diary- What To Wear?

When planning a vacation abroad in summers, Europe gives you the utmost freedom to dress up like a doll almost everyday, which I did. All the cities had their charm and every weather needed a different kind of outfit. Since I wasn't carrying much and pretty much backpacked, I had to power my wardrobe and make it work for the next twenty one days.

Key pieces to carry:

  1. Stockings: You can wear it on a dress and shorts. But do not forget to take extra pairs cause you never know when you will need them. I had to buy one from the super store and paid a lot more than it costed in India. Try in different colors too. Europe is the place to experiment with florasant too. 
  2. Leggings:  Black leggings work out so great and doesn't take much room. It's super comfy and you can wear them under anything at all. If you are a T shirt person then carry these and save space in your bag for those souvenirs. 
  3. Dress: Short or super short or just long- dresses in Europe looks great. In fact if you love to model for the camera, then wear them just to look pretty. Leave your bangles and bindis at home if you are wearing them for the first time. 
  4. Sweater: Jackets are great but sweaters are better. Take some really thin knit ones which would come under your dress too. It doesn't have to look the Oswal grandma types, so look around in stores like Mango or Calvin Klein.
  5. Walking shoes:  The biggest mistake you could do to yourself is not bringing your workout shoes. Do not go for those fancy canvas ones because seriously they suck when it comes to comfort. And its a trend in Europe to wear those colourful ones too and they wear them under dresses, shorts, jeans!
  6. Ripped jeans or shorts: I have seen extreme ripped jeans and shorts. And with a nice shirt it does look cool. Looks great for a leisure I-Don't-Care-Look too. 
  7. Scarfs: This one can make any outfit shine! So just go for one bright woolen pashmina and cotton ones with colors that matches anything. I took a red pashmina and a pink and blue cotton ones. I didn't mind the space they took too. 
These are a few of the things that I carried. And it made a big deal! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The City Sightseeing in Vienna- A Photo Diary

Vienna as a city had much to offer. And as and when you reach the tourist spot which was ours, that started from St Stephen's Cathedral, everything had been a walkable distance from there. The beautiful pavements and cobbler stone pathways here and there, silence of this place, despite being so busy, had indeed given us something to carry forward. Since it was sunny and not really a great weather to walk long, we took the City Sightseeing bus. It was Air conditioned and we could actually see the city without loosing our minds. To tell the truth, its a big city and if you want to see the Schonburnn Palace, then you really need all the energy to see the inside of this very huge palace. Some of the other places we visited were the Hofburg Palace, now all converted into a museum, The Vienna State Opera, St Peter's Church, Austrian Parliament building and few more places that just we came across while taking a walk along the way of the palace. 

We were living very close to the main shopping street so everything we wanted to eat was close by. Even the metro was just a 10 minutes walk away. Travelling in Vienna was never a problem and perhaps that made the day a very pleasant memory to take back home.

A sunny day in Vienna

St Stephen's Cathedral

Autumn Foliage
Votive Church, a view from a cafe
In The City Sight Seeing Bus, listening to audio guide

Part of Hofburg Palace

The local food delights- Schizel 

Bike Tour In Prague

The first thing we did when we reached Prague from Berlin was to hire an E-Bike. And we had a 34 kilometre ride to take which was perhaps the best view I had ever seen in my entire Europe trip. But it won't be right to compare any country to another. Prague had it's own beauty and biking made me realise that, you can just let yourself go and enjoy the moment that's not going to last.

E- Bike was amazing as an experience and there is no doubt that you should not do this. And its wort every penny spent. The guide was great. We had a picnic overlooking the entire city and since I was famished travelling, it was delightful. The cobbler stone path way gets difficult but its great when you take the electric bike.

Voodoo- Horror story- Part 2

It was how I learnt all about black magic.
And I didn't look like the witch I was. My grandmother never liked my father. Is that how he died of heart attack? I saw her plunging the needle in his heart, again and again.
Mother was just living in a trance of her own as if she had been programmed to live a life in a certain way. I had stopped caring long back and it bothered me a little that I didn't really want to know about her life anymore.
I loved a guy who studied with me and we were kind of friends too. But he was flirty. When he smiled at others, my heart ached. I wanted that smile only for me. I had no friends so that made it difficult for him to stick with me for long. But there were no confessions of love either when he first kissed me. No beautiful beach view at Marine Drive or looking into each other's eyes. It just happened. Later on when I thought about it, I didn't really feel the flutter that I thought I would. But there was one feeling of happiness that had escaped me for long. My fingers fiddled with the lock of his hair that I used for the portion. I opened the door to my work room and used another lock in the large wok I had been using.
A bell rung and I turned the curtain to hide.
Then I saw him again. That dark shadow that moved, touched everything in my room. It had no shape yet I could hear the loud breathing, as if it was just near my ear. I could feel the breath, cold and chilling.
"I came to take you", the voice had no gender. I could just feel a mix of voices, "You promised".
"I...Of course", the sweat trickling down my forehead, "But it was just a kiss. I asked you to make him fall for me".
"Ok. I will come afterwards then".
I sat on the ground, my heart pummelling and I felt as if my head would break into two.
The devil was here to take my soul and if I didn't succumb, I was going to die.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Voodoo - A Horror Story- Part 1

I had a very special relationship with the dead. It aways made my flatmates a little scared. No, not little but a lot scared than I had ever thought they would be. And i enjoy it. Immensely. It gives my shattered soul a little comfort that I could scare people. Normal people who are scared to know that there are ghosts around who can talk, walk and ever sleep in the same bed with you. But I was never like this before. I was as scared as they were as a child. My mother was recently widowed and started dating as soon as they set fire to my father's bones. Men came and went in the house and I wondered how my dead father would feel about the situation. Then my grandmother came to live with us and the situation changed a little. From many men, my mother stuck to just one. The man was hideous, clingy and even drunk at times. I thought maybe he was around for money. But he was just around. Always. In front of the TV. Grandma was playing with her doll again. A voodoo doll, she said. She had pins all over the thing and I thought i heard her speaking to it once or twice. It was my sixteenth birthday and as usual the house was dull and a strong scent of kapoor was waving through the air. Since we were not very religious it was strange.
"Playing with the doll again?" I sat beside her. She smelled like kapoor. I guess that explained it all.
"It's not a doll. It's a soul of another person".
"What's that?" I knew that she was going mad, but this mad?
"It's your sixteenth birthday. And I want you to learn what my ancestors knew", she took out a book. A thick one and handed it over to me.
And it was really old. "You know I don't like books. But at least give me a new one".
"You were always a sharp one in our family and your mother was just too ordinary to understand this. Start reading and you will know".
And here is where I learnt about the another world. Where I live now more than I live in this one.