Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Hidden Underbelly of a Famed Destination

The Lapkas: The Hidden Underbelly of a Famed Destination
The coffee house was now nearly devoid of the hordes of indomitable Lapkas. Murari Lal the expert story teller, roaming consultant and linguist of the local dialect has coined the term. He was delighted when it was picked up by the newspapers during a war between two Lapka gangs and made famous.
The term Lapka loosely means a snatcher, member of a group of officious tourist hunters, who would try to influence and divert tourists from their set plans, by offering friendship and expert guidance badly needed by their prey. They exploited foreign tourists, by luring them to buy artifacts at selected emporiums and stay at hotels, where rigged up prices earned them fabulous commissions and much more, if the ladies were willing.

Their attempts to rape certain otherwise intoxicated but unwilling foreign girls in a secluded farmhouse on Aimer road made newspaper headlines. Hundreds such cases were never reported due to inherent difficulties involved and if they were, the files were promptly closed by pay rolled pot bellied, rose cheeked policemen. As tourists went to their countries, rarely traveling back to identify culprits or stolen goods.
Lapkas are aggressive bunch of youngsters from variety of back grounds. Some of them are fluent in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese with elementary knowledge of monuments and local history. They were easily identifiable by their over friendly manners, alert, probing eyes, pony tails, motor cycles and increasingly attired in trendy cloths. They are so many of them, prowling around popular tourist destinations, hotels, and showrooms of artifacts, frequented by hordes of their preys. They guarded their carefully marked territories ruthlessly and trespassers were suitably dealt with. Always ready to pounce on foreign tourists. They used to avoid Indian tourists like plague and concentrated on the foreigners. But that too was changing now and some gangs were branching out to take care of the equally clueless Indian tourists lost in maze of numerous hotels, monuments, artifacts shops, markets, lanes and by lanes in the pink city.
An unescorted herd of young white females could ignite an intense battle of wits and muscle power between competing gangs, often befitting the attires, expected purchasing power, attitude and alluring physical assets of members of the target group. Details of purchases, particular interest in certain items and style of negotiations of the group are immediately noted along with car number, expected rout and other relevant information and passed on efficiently, for maximum returns on mobile phones and also on Internet. A handsome purchase is immediately relayed to the managers of various upstart, ambitious shops, who would then try to influence the concerned guide on mobile phone and try to divert the target to his shop with promise of ready presence of items of interest to save time and maximize returns for all the people involved.

Few competing gang lords with ample muscle and political patronage control the operations. Foolish antics by brash newcomers and intrusions by greedy archrivals have resulted in few shootings, violent fights, ruthless amputations and contract killings. It led to opening of further vistas of employment to the poor youths with desired adventurous inclinations and talent to give precise thrashings to the offenders caught in act of mischief. But some daringly violent amputations and killings of rivals exposed the so far hidden activities of these unknown Lapka gangs. Front-page coverage in newspapers compelled sleepy authorities to take some feeble actions and reluctant acceptance of the existence such undesirable organizations in the Pink City.
Gang lords were forced to huddle together and jointly shun the tempted violence by the boys and solve problems silently, secretly with out attracting attention of the wretched press and greedy policemen. One musclemen turned noisy politician cum builder cum transporter was roped in to mediate between rivals and dispense justice. He possessed all the qualities and resources needed to shoulder such an onerous responsibility. In return of his noble services a respectable percentage of monthly turnovers of each gang lord were handed over to him in cash, regularly.
Lately, taking cue from the politics, gang lords have started to align on cast and religious lines for protection and faster growth. Some have ventured in to convenient front businesses of transport fleets, hotels, antique showrooms, exports and imports, which jell with their present operations, increased earnings and added much desired legitimacy.
New recruits were deputed to do the tedious legwork, while bosses sat in suits of five star hotels and plush modern offices, munching chicken legs, dry fruits with endless whiskeys. The trusted deputies, mostly close relatives took care of daily operations and collection of cash. They were usually school dropouts from poor families, hungry for easy money and easier white flesh. For some of them, in the beginning the priority was of later variety and former was a bonus to keep their aged parents happy. Slowly they got hooked and most of them made and lost money fast, in the new exciting trade that required little education and investment. Most born in tin or thatched roofed houses with out toilets, they were now rarely out side an air-conditioned, perfumed space. The lucrative trade has lately started to attract youngsters from rich and well-placed families. They hit off well with foreigners because of good English, gleaming new cars, expensive perfumes and branded personal accessories.
Such mushrooming activities form a part of hidden under belly of a famous tourist destination full of colorful past, modernizing infrastructure, booming reality market and vibrant foreign trade in precious stones, handicrafts and natural stones.

# All Rights Reserved@tunnelvision
It’s a dramatized version about a part of pink city tourist trade environment.
It forms a part of the novel about the interplay of international terrorists, antique smugglers, undercover agents and Maoist guerrillas.
Any resemblance to any person dead or alive and any actual event is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

In Company of Women-Unfinished Story

They would come go out smiling, with bowed heads like obedient children reveling in expected tantrum of a lovable senile elder. Some would telephone tenants to keep an eye on her and keep them informed of her well-being; their only purpose of troubling them, they would never forget to state. Every one tried to be sure that they would be the first to know and beat others, to be with her in last defining moments.

Indra picked the red plastic mug from the blue bucket of cool water and wet the brush. The cap less toothpaste tube laid crumpled and squeezed flat of its contents. Indra put the index finger on its orifice and squeezed hard at the neck. The effort reluctantly produced a small crusted bar of dry paste with a soft tail, enough for his present needs. He started to rub teeth carefully, not to let the crumb of dry paste drop on the darkened, cracked mosaic floor.

‘No, I don’t believe you at all. He may be a fool, but a fine boy, an artist. They are a different lot and prone to brood over certain important social matters late in night. Don’t you see his name and photograph appear in newspapers regularly? It requires lots of talent to have your activities mentioned, so frequently. These newspaper people are not fools to write about activities of vagabonds and wastrels. For us, our name is in print only after deaths in small obituaries columns. I know how boys are, of his age and temperament. So many things trouble them. Kamal was just like him, an artist. You foolish man, you won’t under stand theses finer things at all. Didn’t you assure to find a reliable tenant for the room at ground floor? Have you done any thing about that bloody promise of yours or not? So don’t try to impress me by telling such crazy things, get lost and mind your own patty business of adulterated cooking oils.’

Indra stopped rubbing teeth and tried to go over, what Ganga Bai has said so eloquently to that crafty rascal. It would have been indeed a treat to watch his crestfallen ape like face.

Therefore, the cat is out of the bag.

He resembled her late son, also an artist.

Suddenly things looked quite brighter. Perhaps he can look forward to take little liberties with her. Like late payment of rent, use of her secluded roof top for rehearsing his lines and may be for an impending rendezvous with Prerna. It too seemed like an old, stale movie scene, repeated millions times over by the dream merchants of Bombay . He decided to find a tenant for her and beat crafty Chauthu.

‘What happened, Tai?’

He could recognize the husky voice of Prerna. The attractive and bright elder daughter of Ghaasi Ram Meena, an office superintendent in the lucrative public works department. Indra felt attracted to her husky voice, large eyes and dusky complexion with well-endowed body. Prerna reciprocated his attempts to find her alone and talk about art and theatre. He has helped her act in a few plays to get over her stage fright and improve public speaking skills. Indra was amazed at her carefully organized and well-planned life style; in contrast to his happy go lucky ways. Whenever his name and photograph appeared in the newspapers, she would send her kid brother to wake him up from his drunken stupor and have a look.

She selected in the state administrative services. Primarily because of her talent and to some extent her birth, which surely must have come handy to score over, equally, placed general candidates. She has already started to behave like a pompous civil servant. Moreover, no body protested for obvious reasons. They were all too happy to have a pushy young civil servant in their crumbling old building. She has organized that the street and open over flowing drains taken care of properly. It was a rare thing to happen in the narrow back lanes of the old city.

Indra, not impressed by her selective indulgence, teased her a lot and punctured her pomposity occasionally, and that may be the reason to set him apart from the fawning, adoring crowd around her. She listened to him and talked about various common interests.

‘Saab, He is still sleeping. I wonder---.’

Chauth Mal addressed Prerna with utmost caution, being aware of her friendship with Indra. Lately she and liked ‘Saab’, an expression of masculine power and authority.

‘So….. what? How are you concerned about him?’

Prerna’s curt and sharp authoritative tone was music to Indra, and it produced an abrupt silence out side.

‘No. I mean-------- I said----No I didn’t mean to-- Saab--“.

Indra smiled, he could picture a fumbling Chauthu with relish. Every body wants to develop and maintain good relations with a civil servant. You never know when it will come handy to further own interests, business and god knows what not.

The silence out side was broken by Chauthu’s inglorious exit from the scene. His new camel skin shoes made sharp creaky noise. Sheepishly he must have bowed his head and carefully climbed down the narrow, darkened, and worn out winding stairs. Such occasional insults would not change him a bit in his crafty maneuvers and would surely try to hit back and evict Indra from his cheap, centrally located room, who has powerful friends in Prerna and Ganga Bai. Chauthu was indeed fighting a battle he will perhaps never win. Nevertheless, there was other more compelling reason-he didn’t like Indra talking so frequently with Shanno, his wife and daughter of the richest man of his village. Shanno ignored his objections with contempt and continued to be friendly with Indra. It was a rumor that she had been hurriedly married off to Chauthu, to put an end to the troubles created by her. She was prone to vanish from home at night with her various paramours. Many village elders have made their disapproval known to her father, rather meekly due to his stature and money. Her troubled father had to find a suitable match fast before she could bring further infamy and damage to the fragile family pride. The tedious job entrusted to a reliable barber Naththu, famed for fast results. He quickly produced a befitting match, a poor but promising prospective groom for a rich man's wayward daughter. Greedy Chouthu and his foresighted, deaf mother were too happy to overlook her past for a sizable dowry of cash, house hold goods and a motorcycle along with a well stocked oil shop in Jaipur. Shanno was excited to live the in the famed PickCity .

‘He never slept so late.’ Ganga Bai’s concerned voice assured Indra further. He continued to brush silently and listened carefully.

‘He is up and brushing teeth.’ It was Prerna’s kid brother.

‘Pintoo…. too bad,… you should never peep in any one’s room.’ She snapped at her mischievous little brother. Whose investigating eyes must have found an uncovered hole or a crack in aged wooden door?

‘That’s bad Beta, we all are so worried and you didn’t say a thing to assure us, that you are up and all right.

‘Thank you- auntie. I am all right. Let me have a bath please. And Pintoo, you can come after half an hour, OK! I have a surprise gift for you.’

The message to Prerna was communicated.

‘What’s it? Tell now? …. Is it a comic book or a chocolate bar?’ Pintoo was eager.

‘Oh now come on. He said half an hour. Didn’t he? Come on now, complete your homework first.’ Prerna was tough with her naughty young brother.

‘No. No. No. I want that chocolate now.’ Pintoo’s protesting voices and tantrums trailed off. She must have dragged him upstairs. He might have made usual veiled threats of exposing her gory secrets. Nevertheless, Prerna surely knew how to deal with her mischievous young sibling. He was the sixth and latest offspring of her parents, who went on producing five daughters, every time desperately expecting a male child, the heir and lighter of their funeral pyres, assuring their place in heaven.

#All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 8, 2007

I Love Paris

He got up and joined people walking down towards the woods.
He moved behind a big boulder near bank of the river, away from the crowd of holidaymakers. The top portion of Eiffel Tower with its thin aerial was visible, emerging out of distant trees, accompanied by the cone of the hideous Pencil Tower. He sat down on one of the stone slabs and unfolded ‘Le Monde’, turned pages with interest and immersed himself in the newspaper, munching sandwiches. Little away a man with fishing rod sat motionless, looking far ahead towards the woods.
A boat with two men drew closer riding the slow moving river. It made a slight maneuver and neared the bank. The one man silently opened the beer canes gave one to the other young man leaning back in the boat facing him.
“ Nice weather sir, the first man addressed the man with newspaper.”
Tariq ignored him and continued to eat and read the newspaper.
“ Is it not nice sir? “ The other young man spoke as if trying to tease the older man.
“ I find is marvelous here.”
He looked up, eyes darting around swiftly, scanning the area with measured and trained bearing.
“ Yeah. I always feel marvelous here. Look at the mighty Eiffel Tower.”
Both young men turned to see the magnificent view of the tower emerging out of woods.
“ Beautiful. I have begun to love Paris.” One man said, drinking beer.
“ Every body loves Paris.” Said Tariq still reading newspaper, with a tinge of seriousness.
“ Nice to know that sir.” The tone showed excitement and satisfaction.
Both men looked in separate directions, keeping a constant vigil.
“ We also love other things and most importantly what we promise.
“ Please, don’t disturb me folks.”
It was the alarmed middle-aged angler with round speckes kissing his thick salt pepper eyebrows. They fell silent as some tourists went past them, back to the market and parking lot.
“ Why don’t you keep mum for some time? You repeat the same thing so often?”
“ No man. I have to.” The voice has developed a sinister tone.
All were silent for few moments.
“I got a reasons too brother”, Tariq hissed.
“ Do you? “ Challenged the man with fishing rod.
The men in boat seem to listen and kept a silent but potent vigil.
“Forget the crap, let’s know the developments?”
“I expect some results soon.” The angler hesitated.
“ Brother, we all are running out of time and patient now. Tell me if it’s too difficult for you. But it will be quite shameful experience to go back on a promise and accept defeat with out lifting a damn finger.”
There was an awkward silence as three pairs of eyes looked at the man with fishing rod. He coughed nervously and spoke with low voice.
“ I have been trying hard, but there are unexpected problems, you know, we have to keep whole thing quite. It’s very important that we are very careful and raise no alarm. I request for some more time and rescheduling.”
He stopped and looked at the black caped Tariq.
“ Rubbish. The buyer would not wait and would certainly go away. Tariq hissed in low measured tone. “No rescheduling possible and looks like we might loose out due to your incompetence. “
The man with fishing rod sat motion less with his blank face, betraying no emotions. Black capped man looked at him with distaste and continued.
“We still have a chance if you do your job well. If I knew you was a worthless pest with no self-respect. I would have never agreed to rely on you. Mind it, if you fail again; please vanish, because I don’t know how these boys would deal with you. They have been waiting so anxiously for the money.” He lifted his faded jacket, and stood up.
“You have raised by blood pressure, it’s a pity that so much depends on a worthless creature like you.” He gathered his newspaper, manila bag and looked at the angler, expecting a reply. There was none.
The angler moved his eyes nervously, avoided the steely stare and coughed. Suddenly he spoke with anxiety.
“Silence. Please don’t disturb me.”
A fat couple with two healthy kids was settling down nearby. Kids made noises as they went on to place their shining new fishing rods with bait in the river. The experienced and indulgent father blew air in a deflated cushion and kept an eye on the excited kids. The lady furiously busied her self with a big food basket and ordered kids to be silent. The man placed the mat and eased his bulk on a mat, the plug popped off, deflating the mat.
The lady and kids laughed heartily. The embarrassed man made a funny face
“ Sorry sir. I must have chosen a wrong place.”
A dejected Tariq bowed and walked towards a group of people walking briskly, and melted away.
Two boatmen silently smoked for some time, drank beers and kept gazing at the angler with deep disapproval. Their athletic bodies were straight and alert.
One young man spat loudly in an apparent display of deep disgust and feeling of let down. He spoke in low but confident tone-
“Do some thing fast. We are broke and need fast cash.”
They dropped in unison empty bottles in the water. The light green bottles drank water slowly and disappeared in the river. The pair straightened up in tandem to row the boat and followed the stream.
The angler silently watched them up to the bend in the river.
Powerful tugs on the rod made him smile and he begin to wind the wheel.
‘Oh. You got a big one, sir.” The boy exclaimed.
The angler nodded and smiled, judging the struggling fish.
“Please tell us how you did it?” The girl asked with great expectations.
“ Simple kids, offer a big bait and be patient.”

Devotion and Deceit

Excited voices and hum of activities made Dr. Mitra-the retired archeologist, to open his eyes and languidly enquire his surroundings. The train was now slowly negotiating the famous steep mountain curve, speed was slow and noisy effort made by engines was evident through vibrations and creaking of wheels. Most of the passengers were glued to the windows to watch and record on camera the famous spectacle of heaving noisy double engines and couples of cars at the end slowly entering a tunnel below. A breath taking view of Arawali mountains and deep gorges with scattered lush greenery made any one with a camera to take a picture. He got up and went to the washbasin to splash some water on face to freshen up and rinse hands. Pratibha, the young journalist was readying her camera to shoot the scenery through open doors. Cool blast of mountain air through open door was refreshing. The famed tourist town of Ajeetgarh was at about half an hour’s journey. Situated deep in Arawali ranges, like a powerful magnet it attracts tourists from India and abroad. Hindus come to offer their prayers for well being before lord Ganesha, the eighth century idol with three heads. The temple, situated in an old impregnable fort high in the mountain away from the town.
Ajeetgarh has become an important part of a foreigner’s journey in India. A bath in its holy lake is a must to wash way accumulated sins of a materialistic life and become a new person all together, making further materialistic pursuits easy and less troublesome. The uninhibited and intoxicated foreigners have some time have got carried away in their frantic attempts to wash away sins too fast and were prosecuted for violation of code of conduct. The thriving bazaars in the town and particularly around the holy lake offered every conceivable merchandise sought by Indians devotees and fair skinned visitors. The town has more than hundred temples frequented by Indian devotees and exotica driven, nirvana-seeking foreigners.
There were frequent media reports of rampant drug peddling and nudism practiced by foreigners, which seemed to make the place more attractive and sought after than before; resulting in more Indian and foreign tourists flocking to the town. Increasing cases of dreaded Aids were also reported amongst prostitutes, taxi drivers, small hotel owners and tourist guides who come in contact with numerous amorous foreigners and locals. Doctors at government hospital and private clinics were ill equipped to deal with such cases. Many European ladies had fallen in love with local men, married and applied for Indian citizenship. Some have established hotels and travel agencies catering to tourists from their countries.
Social workers and concerned citizens were worried of alien influences on the youth and their life style. However no religious organization commented harshly on such delicate issues, fearing a fall in devotees and lower temple collections of cash and other offerings. The trader’s too disliked any negative publicity leading to drop in tourists’ traffic and low business. They called for all parties to avoid the dreaded cultural conflict and behave in a reasonable, businesslike manner. The knowledgeable people whispered about a secrete plan backed by powerful commercial and religious interest groups to down play any wide negative publicity apart from few occasional and unexpected saucy media reports to keep the interest of tourists alive in the exotic town.
Many enterprising residents have converted their homes in to paying guest accommodations and motels catering only to well paying foreigners. While others opened hotels and offered various services sought by a thriving pilgrimage and tourist town. Ajeetgarh boasted of heritage hotels housed in large ancient mansions and modern hotels, some operated by famed international hotel chains. But the elementary infrastructure as in all Indian cities was crumbling and failed to take pace with its rapid growth.

The resident leftists were not amused by the market oriented development and they immediately termed growth of tourism as a Work Bank sponsored blatant commercialization of religion, corrupting of young people, endangering country’s sovereignty and independence. They some time gathered near railway station and hotels where Americans and Israelis stayed and demonstrated against American imperialism, Coke, MacDonald’s and other western business establishments. Yankees who never seen a real red in person, went on furious clicking spree to show and tell folks back home. Some people alleged that group of hotels sponsored these as diversion and entertainment shows when things were low. Nobody complained, leftist got publicity along with brand new red flags, free breakfasts or lunches and tourists have seen and recorded a live communist demonstration with bearded thin men shouting …”down with Bush. Long lives the revolution. …..Long lives comrade Castro.”
The leftist influence was little in the commercialized town but deep in jungles, few die-hard and motivated Maoist extremists have developed close bond with the impoverished tribal. They have lived with them for years, providing leadership and shielding them from corrupt forest officials, greedy moneylenders and ruthless contractors. They have control of most of the village councils in the vast hilly area and organize a sizable army of youths and controlled jungles produce, received arms and training from extremists groups based in Nepal, Kashmir, Bihar, Jharkhand, AP and Tamilnadu. Few dreaded terrorists from Kashmir have rumored to take shelter there, eluded the police for long time and later have escaped to Europe through Pakistan.
The police have always rejected the media reports of any extremist group operating in the jungles near Ajeetgarh. The local strong man Prabhati Lal, an old communist and the member of legislative assembly from the area has always vehemently denied presence of any terrorists and extremists in his constituency. He is rumored to have reached a tactical understanding with the extremists to keep police and bureaucracy away if they help him in his election by organizing mass voting for him and his associates with help of ultras.
The arrangement have suited both for years and extremists have now entrenched themselves strongly in the area and preparing for next phase of bloody struggle and annihilation of class enemies. They have carefully so far confined their actions towards greedy forest officials and moneylenders with in jungle and did not create any trouble in the temple town, which might lead to increased media focus and possible backlash from the police or central agencies fighting extremists. There have been no killings by them and have managed their core objectives with out much of violence, though reports of some angry tribal beating officials and small traders have been common for a long time. These developments were viewed by the learned social commentators as manifestations of empowerment of disposed and poor tribal people who have been exploited for thousands of years.
Prabhati Lal has prospered beyond his own wildest dreams and has lately become complacent making easy money and womanizing, loosing personal touch with his people. Other politicians eying the large tribal vote bank have tried to fill the void and established contact with angry extremists, who have been unhappy due to death of few comrades in police lockups. Prabhati was not available for help and get the men released.
He was now on a weak position due to growing opposition to his family’s vice like grip on politics for years. There were now many ambitious and moneyed contenders to successfully challenge him in next elections and battle lines were being drawn in fine details to unseat him. Every event, which happened in the temple town, was now viewed from political angle and disposed by decision makers looking on its effects on the political groupings and leanings. The town was now neatly divided in to pro, against and fence sitters who might align with any one at last moment depending on the cast affiliations or general mood of voters. The opposition party has planned a grand political rally for next Sunday. Few national leaders, including a former prime minister were expected to attend and make political speeches. The administrative machinery was neck deep in making security arrangements for Z category security covered leaders, leaving no resources for any other pressing eventualities.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Undercover in Pink City

Murari maneuvered himself out of maze of chairs and human legs, adjusted his bulging belly by tightening of the worn out suede leather belt and winked at Khanna. He could foresee an evening of free expensive liquor and meals. It would be scheduled shortly, if he played his role with patience and right inducements to the various actors involved. Khanna seemed excited about meeting the girl. But first, he must judge how the Danish girl will respond. Being aware of many foreigner's penchant for staying focused on some weird set of visit-objectives, he decided to wait and plan a proper role for Khanna. His young friend Bhushan will certainly provide clues and opportunities to spend ample time with her. His father Bhayaji had strong faith in astrologer’s predictions and disapproved of his son mingling with amorous foreign girls.
He approached Bhushan and the girl, sitting on a corner table.
' Hello madam! Welcome to the Pink City?'Murari smiled and bowed elegantly, his best act to melt away white suspicion, arrogance and open closed doors. He never failed. The girl shifted her large blue eyes to him from the group of deaf and dumb boys and girls, communicating animatedly in sign language. They could be discussing the latest romantic movie showing in the nearby cinema.
'Oh uncle, please have a seat. Pat, meet Mr. Murari the famous story teller of Pink City.'
They have decided , how Bhushan will introduce him to foreigners. Murari's English involved speking- great, you are beautiful, yes, that’s right, you are right, excellent, oh no, its not like that, I don’t agree and similar rudimentary expressions of agreement, appreciation and disapproval. Here Bhushan's impeccable public school English helped Murari to communicate with English speaking foreigners. Bhushan will translate and communicate with his customers, who longed to know the Pink City, beyond lousy brochures, hurried and ill-informed, crafty tourist guides. Customers with impressive shopping list, demanded Bhushan’s presence on sight seeing, or he will depute one of his able assistant’s to translate Murari's impressive monologues to bewildered foreigners.

'How was the coffee?' Murari kept smiling and surveyed her closely, trying to read her.
'It was good, thank you.' She looked up and shook Murari's extended hands.
'You are welcome.' Murari sat down.
'Are you a writer?' Pat enquired.
' No! I hate to waste ink and precious paper, so I have decided to tell stories instead. I must have saved hundreds if not thousands of trees.' Murari said with an air of a seasoned savior of the earth, enough to put a hardened eco activist to an instant disgrace. An amused Bhushan decided to translate his pompous dialogue, verbatim to an expectant Pat.
' Oh, that’s is a wonderful thought.' Pat sounded curiously pleased, trying to judge and place him.
Bhushan smiled indulgently, he was amazed at Murari's hidden repertoire of hereto-unknown nuggets of wisdom, a very economical proposition for him indeed.
' Murray..I mean your name? . I mean, what did you say Bush?' Pat tried hard to decipher his name.
' Never mind, call me More.' Murari sat on a chair near Pat, noticing her shapely legs only few inches away.
‘OK! Did you say more or Moore?'
‘Fine. You call me Moore.' Murari was pleased at expected easy goings.
'Moore, wow, that sounds familiar.'
'Is it? That’s good for me indeed! But please lets not talk about sculptures of Henry Moore, right now. He deserves a separate dedicated discussion in an appropriately artistic environment and I am quite sure, you did not mean Roger Moore, the James Bond?'
Bhushan could see Pat’s hereto-hesitant expression turned comfortable as she nodded appreciatively at Murari.
She nodded in cheerful agreement.
“Oh sure, you are quite right Mr. Moore.”
Murari suddenly felt pangs of hunger turning wild. The strong aroma of steaming hot dosas being carried away to the nearby cabin hit his bulbous nose hard. Presence of a fat pursed Bhushan, encouraged him to announce his intentions. Bhushan always paid bills with out signs of, at least any visible annoyance. Even if Bhushan dared to show any discomfort, Murari was tactful enough to ignore miserly signals of a rich boy, with the deserved contempt.
'Son, I will have a double mutton dosa, and madam what would you like to have? I suggest you must taste mutton dosa, its delicious. And what about you, Bhushan?'
Pat mumbled something about the not taking any spicy Indian food. Murari assured her of his old friendship with the head cook that can manage to arrange a special light spiced one, just right for her delicate Scandinavian palate. An indecisive Pat looked impressed. He didn’t waste time and signaled a hovering waiter and shot crisp instructions about light spiced dosa for the guest and usual spicy variety for him, served twice along with the coffee for all. The waiter stood still and eyed him with his usual suspicious direct gaze, until a discreet node from Bhushan made him assured of the payment. That immediately broke his stillness; briskly he wiped the table with a damp cloth, deposited glasses of cool water and proceeded towards the counter, swiftly. Murari artfully avoided the clinching exchanges of uncertainty and assurance between Bhushan and the stupid waiter and turned to face Pat. She was once again looking at the deaf and dumb young pairs, silently laughing heartily, enjoying, their eyes filled with happiness .A girl looked too coy, may be on her first visit with her first boyfriend.
'In Hindi, More means a Peacock.' Bhushan tried to pick up the thread of conversation, back.
'Oh really a Peacock! Are you one?' Pat laughed loudly and turned towards Murari.
Khanna could hear her laugh, sitting expectantly on the edge of his chair, desperately waiting for signal from Murari to join. He felt jealous watching Murari with the gorgeous girl, wondering what they were talking? He tried to concentrate and recollect some thing interesting to tell the foreigner. But he knew he was no match for Murari in storytelling and history knowledge. It suddenly occurred to him, that Murari was capable of forgetting him all together and can offer numerous reasons for it, with a practiced and deceptive deadpan. Khanna could feel an impending gloomy scenario-may he was stupid enough to not to offer him the coffee, he wanted so badly. He cursed himself profusely, and decided to be much wiser in the future.
He becomes aware of his awkward posture, which must have been surely noticed by his foes. He slowly made himself comfortable; hoping non has noticed it. He smiled at Jain, who was looking at him in a rather strange way. May be the old man disapproved his childish eagerness to meet the white girl. And if Jain decides to be inquisitive, he better be ready with a reasonable explanation. He scanned the list of various viable reasons of meeting this gorgeous girl, and bingo- he got it fast and a very conveniently suitable explanation for the obtrusive old man. He smiled broadly, got up and went to the public telephone near the main entrance.
'And madam its another name of Lord Krishna.' Murari felt good and settled in the cushioned chair. Bhushan looked happy at his expert and seamless introduction to a sophisticated Pat.
'You mean... Lord Krishna, the god with those... numerous heavenly consorts?'
'Well.... I suspect this scoundrel must have told you some thing naughty about me. Yes, you are right. But please correct your self; those consorts were quite real earthy nubile girls of the Brij and not some imaginative stuff drawn by a painter.' Bhushan eyed him for a moment and communicated with out editing.
“Oh, I see. I stand corrected, thanks a lot. Can you tell me how many real earthy consorts you have?' Pat laughed and looked at smiling Bhushan.
'Only one old wrinkled lady.' Murari made a sad face, Bhushan laughed and did his job.

Bhushan had to leave to attend some new business developments. He drew Murari aside and has discreetly slipped few notes of five hundred-rupee in his hand and left Pat in his care. He informed that he must drop her in the hotel whenever she feels going there. But not later than 11PM, and he has to keep Bhushan informed discreetly on the cell phone, if there is any change in the plan. Nothing must be done with out informing him. Her comfort and care were supposed to be his responsibility in India.
Murari hurriedly introduced a nervous Khanna to suspicious Bhushan as an intellectual who would volunteer to help him communicate with Pat and would translate expertly. Bhushan cautioned him about Pat being very important and a sophisticated guest. Murari assured him to leave these worries to him and attend to his business.
Khanna looked at Pat with profound erotic interest as smell of her light perfume made his head foggy. Those erotic images she had revived some time ago kept on flooding back and hit his brains hard. He has been listening carefully to the Murari’s seemingly unending strange tales and translating to a curious and receptive Pat. Who was visibly engrossed and seem to enjoy what ever he was translating. After some time Khanna felt assured enough to be adventurous by adding his own interpretations to various questions Pat asked about certain enfolding historical facts. The result was mixed one, some times it went un noticed and on few occasions Pat was so curious about certain aspects, he had no option left but to take help of Murari to extricate himself safely from a deep trouble. An amused Murari obliged heartily looking forward to reap rich harvest in future. He decided to over look Khanna’s blatant attempts to hold him responsible for his own crazy and wild interpretations of known historical facts and events. Murari knew Khanna would have to pay back with out grumbling, for a long time to come.

Khanna was surprised to know that Pat was here to collect research material for her doctoral thesis on “Hindu Temples and Rituals” and it was her third visit to India in last five years all devoted to her mysterious fascination. He was intrigued by such a boring venture of a gorgeous lady and wondered whether she would be interested in the Erotic Art of Ancient India. But that might be risky as Murari held all strings in the show and he might ridicule and veto the subject and his attempts to get intimate with her. He was once again forced to envy the pompous bastard. Her fascination with such bland and boring subject made her more intimidating.

A Dangerous Mission

The silent capsule elevator moved up swiftly taking noisy tourists to their rooms at various floors, offering a breathtaking view of the city . New Delhi was teeming with foreign tourists along with increasing number of non-resident Indians returning to rediscover the motherland along with kids and spouses of various nationalities.
Comrade Hari Om was indifferent to the opulent seven star trappings, perfumed tourists and businessmen crowding the elevator.
‘The despised bourgeois filth.”
He grimaced and kept aloof from the scheming heartless looters of poor around him and had his eyes fixed on the swiftly changing floor number. He come out and went on looking for the room number down the passage and rang the bell, the door was opened immediately; he entered and closed the door silently.
He looked at the tall, elegant Olga with a tight fitting Levis jeans and black genuine lather jacket. With her high-heeled boots, she was always looked taller than him. He wanted to pull and hold her tightly in his arms, but kept his distance with restrain.
“ Hello Harry.“ Olga greeted him extending her slender hand. She too sensed his restrain and didn’t move.
“Laal Salaam, comrade Olga.” Hari Om couldn’t help being cheerful. A changed persona from a swollen indifferent man he has been before entering the room.
They shook hands. Hari Om restrained the urge to embrace her and felt she could sense his ordeal.
“ How have you been?” Olga gestured him to take a seat.
“I am OK. “ Hari Om went to the window and looked out side.
“You look troubled.. are you being followed?”
" I don’t know but have to be careful. Some stupid boys have killed a patty trader and might have disclosed some secretes to the police. They have put up a new police post in the jungle…We had to move our communication center deeper in where signals are week….. I am not sure what they have learned. "
" You have an excellent cover-working with a famous NGO engaged in a tribal welfare project funded by the rich blood sucking western donors."
“ I told you not to call me here. There may be police spies lurking around. What was wrong with those little cozy hotels in Pahargunj?"
“ Get over your paranoia.”
A brooding Hari Om didn’t reply and carefully settled down on the edge of the large comfortable sofa and looked at the plates of dry fruits with distaste reserved for an indulgent decadent living. He noticed her briefcase on the center table. She always displayed her briefcase, if she has good amount of money in it. He had cautioned her about this dangerous habit of carrying large amount of money on her person.
Olga continued-“I never liked those seedy hotels with stained bed sheets, dirty bathrooms and bad internet connection. Come on, you are now out of jungle for some time, do take it easy.“
“Why did you call me here? Comrade Olga, come straight to the point. I don't have time to waste, my people are waiting for me.”
"So you are wasting your precious time with me?' Olga's voice was laced with hurt.
"I didn’t mean that Comrade Olga... tell me what you need now?" Hari Om was cold and unconcerned.
“Harry, Its about your needs and not mine.” He noticed the absent comrade.
"I am trying hard these days to forget about our relationship Comrade Olga. I have a difficult job to do and you presence always disturb my balance."
"I am glad to know that Harry. Will you ever forget our daughter?"
"It was your idea not mine and you tricked me to get pregnant. I never wanted that to happen. It was your own choice, and I was not at all consulted."
"But it did happen and you want to forget the result? She has been asking about you a lot these days."
Comrade Hari Om remained silent.
“Why don’t you reply Harry?”
“I have no concern for a budding rose when ripe farms are burning…”
“How can you say this to me about my own daughter…. our daughter? You are a heartless, insane monster just like my father, a victim of ruthless ideological obsessions. Do you know what happened to him?”
“ I don't want to listen to your diseased interpretations again.”
“ Diseased indeed….these are not my interpretations but hard known facts. He was taken to Siberia and shot dead, his body burned in a furnace by his own body guards acting on orders of competing party bosses. Suddenly they remembered his misdemeanor while fighting Americans agents in Afghanistan. An apt replay of the Stalin era, so convenient and handy. ”
“ How do you know and why you are sure of those so called hard facts?”
“ Some one who was a reluctant participant told me all in the gory graphic details.”
“Individuals do falter often, Olga. How do you hold the party responsible?”
“It’s the culture of close mind the party has been practicing so long. Any way, I know you are a hard communist nut to crack and don't want to waste precious time trying to educate you. I know you Indian communists will be the last to perish on the alter of the ideology. The brave bare foot solders of a defeated ,defunct army.”
“ Stop...enough of this non sense. Do you want me to stay or go? Make your choice right now and fast.”

They met at Moscow years ago. He was a bright son of a small town militant trade union leader sent to study engineering through party head office in New Delhi. He was proud to be in Moscow and looked forward to a comfortable and educating experience in the socialist heaven. She was daughter of a powerful communist party czar with bright future and blessings of top party bosses. Every body seemed to fear her father and her own arrogant behavior. But some how they hit off well right from the very start. His excellent introductory address was highly appreciated by all the students and party bosses present. She was first to come forward and congratulate him with a broad appreciative smile. Hari Om has been so focused on ideology leaving no interest in girls but she had made an instant impact on the young communist. She showed him around in city and their friendship blossomed.

They remained silent for a long time, till Olga continued carefully.
“You still need those guns?”
She waited for his answer and repeated her question, a little louder this time.
“ Yes, but that kind of money we don’t have right now.”
“Will you ever have the money?”
“I don’t know, we are planning some thing to raise money.” His tone was bitter and displayed an acute helplessness.
“The guns won’t be there for long, you have to make a decision now.”
Comrade Harry remained silent.
“Times have changed Harry, these guns are with the people who would sell for good money, not from any people’s revolutionary government helping other revolutionaries.”
“ You know we don’t have that kind of money. What is on your mind and why did you call me here?”
“I wanted to see you.”
“Now you have seen me. Can I leave this rotten place?”
“No. I have a good proposal for you.” Hari Om remained uninterested.
“ You do one job for me and I will give you all the guns you need.”
Hari Om was not prepared for a straight proposal and looked at her with surprise.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes I am.”
“ What is that job Comrade Olga?”
“ I am sure you will love it, perfectly in line you your passion of teaching a hard hitting lesson to the bourgeois decadent west.” Olga drew close to an impassioned Hari Om.
“ One more thing Harry.... Please note I am not a communist any more.... simply Olga, forget the comrade.”
Hari Om remained seated, looking at her with his steely gaze.
“ What is the job?”
“ You have to organize shipment of a special cargo to Europe.”
“Why through India?’
“ Because it’s in Afghanistan right now and can move to Pakistan shortly on my signal. Can’t be sent through Pakistani ports due to heavy scrutiny it might get on destinations.”
“A bomb?” Steely-eyed Hari Om was straight to the point.
“I don’t know and nor I care about that. I need money to settle down my sisters and raise my daughter in a nice way…one more thing that’s my get out job. After this job, there will be no more demands on me from the party.”
“Are you leaving Molotov?”
“Yes.. I will be a free person after this job is done.”
“Why are you leaving the party?” Comrade Hari Om was angry.
"Because I don't want my sisters to remain prostitutes fore ever and neither I want our daughter to become one when she grows up."
"Ridiculous ...the party is not responsible for these bourgeois diseases."
“Harry you will never understand that. I have gone through all.. from days of heady power, foolish expectations to the realization of hard realities…all around failures. The party and its ideology have worked nowhere. If you and your comrade think it would work in India, I don't have a problem. I will only make sure that my daughter will not be in India if the damned party ever has any remote chance of success here."
"I don't want to listen to this rubbish any more." Comrade Hari Om got up with anger.
"Sit down Harry. We need to talk and help each other." Olga pushed him back to the seat and continued.
"Better you accept the offer and our big problems are solved, you get guns for the so called revolution and I get money to save my sisters from a humiliating and degrading life. And our daughter’s future is secured too.”
Comrade Hari Om remained silent.

Olga poured more drink in her glass. Hari Om was not keen and removed his glass away.
“Can you do it?”
“I need all the details….. You know how I work.”
“That is on need to know basis only, beyond that nothing.. Better you also too don’t ask much.. Less we know better it is for all of us.” Olga opened a bottle and poured two drinks and handed one to a brooding Hari Om.
“ When do we start?”
“Right now …cheers.”
Hari Om looked suspiciously at Olga and took a small measured sip.
“Look Olga, so far so good. We want guns badly and can do whatever you want if it is feasible. That’s important… But no tricks… I warn you. You might have a become a petty bourgeois…but we still believe in the great ideology here, even if it didn’t work in Soviet Union because bloody capitalists sabotaged it through that rascal Grobochov. No treachery…you must remember… or my friends in Russia will come to after you. We have no sympathy for the class enemies.”
Olga looked at Hari Om and laughed.
“No dramatics Harry. You are imagining things … do your job well first; and the guns will be air lifted and dropped in your area. And I am just a coordinator for both sides due to my rapport with all the parties involved. Even if you do your job and there some problem in air lifting and any other thing with Afghan war lords or CIA… how will you hold me responsible?”
" If we ship your cargo, guns must be dropped in our area with in a week."
"Guns will be yours but cant commit a tight time frame for the air dropping. There are complex logistics involved."
Comrade Hari Om listened and drank, weighing his limited options.
“Tell me more about it so I can start planning immediately. Before that I want money to organize things.” He spoke with growing interest.
Olga stood up and opened her briefcase with a wink and tilted it towards him proudly.
Comrade Hari Om looked at neat pile of high value Indian currency notes.
"Genuine?" He looked at her enquiringly.
"Yes genuine, I am sure." Olga was confident.
"Make sure it’s genuine. I don't want to use counterfeits, which might create complications at crucial moments."
"Its genuine Harry, it is an important mission and nobody can afford to take any chances. Money is not a problem Harry, if you need more tell me. I will stay in Jaipur till cargo is cleared at the destinations." She closed the briefcase and handed it over to Hari Om.
“My job is over when the cargo is loaded at Indian port. Is that clearly understood and accepted?”
“Yes.” Olga replied with a smile.
“I do not need this fancy bourgeois briefcase, put money in some other bag and what are the destination ports?"
“Our friends have not decided the ports yet. They will place orders with the exporter immediately if you accept to load the cargo on Europe bound containers.
“I must repeat, my job is over when the ships leave Indian port, and I must get guns, you do the clearance in Europe. Is it ok?
“Ok.” Olga was hesitant, but happy.
'Good. Now tell me more about the cargo." He carefully put the briefcase on his lap.
“Harry, these are not bombs but a boxes of sealed gas bottles of Russian origin. Can’t be detected if hidden in a consignment of heavily scented incense sticks. Here is a list of Indian exporters dealing in the stuff along with the chemical specifications, packing case design and instructions. These papers will be destroyed right here and you can get the details on a web site to be communicated later. ” She handed over two sheet of papers to Hari Om.
He started reading the list of exporters. A name on the neat computer printout caught his attention: Bhayaji Impex, Jaipur, India was familiar.
Olga came to his assistance- “the firm Bhayaji Impex is a reputed and respected company dealing in various commodities and Indian handicraft items. They have a very influential and efficient clearing and forwarding agent in Europe with impeccable record. If the cargo is sent through containers loaded with specified incense sticks they regularly export to Europe, there is great possibility of the success in the operation.”

Henna is going to London

Tariq waited for their car to move ahead and clear his way. He saw it disappear from their sight. The tiny hand of Henna waved them good by. A nudge from wife made him break his frozen composure and turned the key.
“Any thing serious?” Praveen enquired.
“No.” Tariq didn’t look at her.
He knew she didn’t believe him. His own voice seemed peculiar, as if it belonged to a complete stranger.
He began to wonder if Waqar’s fanaticism has influenced him in some way? His thoughts went back to howling Henna, throwing her tiny legs and a demure, simple Jahida serving him food.
“Abba ...Henna is going to London.” His son Ali spoke with a tinge of jealousy and expectation.
So Waqar has already decided to take them on his dangerous mission.
“ When will we go to London?” Ali was impatient to hear a promise from him.
“ Abba will tell you later. Now will you please let him drive?” Praveen come to his rescue.

A crimson sun was setting in the wide horizon and the road seemed to head for the mighty fireball. The car ahead appeared to head for it too, gradually becoming smaller till it turned in to a tiny dot and then it was gone. Tariq felt dizzy and stopped the car on side and asked for bottle of water. He stepped out of car and splashed cold water on his face again and again until he felt better. He looked away from the sun.
Praveen looked at him with troubled curiosity. Her face hidden in a scarf she always wore so elegantly. Tariq knew she was worried and would need a proper explanation from him- always a difficult job.
Ali laughed and asked Praveen to let him imitate his Abba, he didn’t wait for her approval. He come to him and extended his hand and took bottle of from him and immediately splashed water on his face, drenching his cloths wet.
Ali was not happy with the result and sheepishly looked at Tariq for help in his venture. Tariq felt secure that his tears were hidden in cold water invisible to his son, who always thought him to be a brave man: beyond such cowardice. He went to an embarrassed Ali and knelt down.
“Sorry Abba.”
“Its alright beta. Lets go.” He picked him up and went to the car.
“I will drive, you must take rest now.” A pale and troubled Praveen has shifted to the driving seat.
Tariq avoided looking at her.

A Flock of Noisy Birds

Waqar didn’t reply and again looked at blue sky, brooding, slowly nodding, as if listening and agreeing to some divine voice from sky. He seemed to have gone to his trance once again. Tariq drank and waited patiently, closed his eyes and thought about Praveen and Ali his son. He decided to cool off his relations with Waqar. It would do him no harm or perhaps be a better option, given to his friend’s dangerous obsession and preoccupation with a lunatic revenge plan. He wished it was one of those crazy ranting and Waqar would go back to his life as before.
“I some times wonder, what I am today?”
Tariq could feel he was being exposed to some hereto-secrets hidden in recess of his friend’s fertile brain. He tried to listen carelessly as he had always done-betraying no keen interest and eagerness, which he was indeed developing.
“I am an unknown shopkeeper with some money? But who knows me back home? No body.”
“ Is it that important to be well known?”
“Yes it is. I want my name remembered by every body.”
“Remembered? What do you mean?”
“ I loved football and wanted to be a professional footballer. But couldn’t become one, because my father wanted me to be a doctor. He never listened to me and made sure I missed my practice of the day, being locked up in my room with my tutors of various size and shapes to mug up physics, chemistry and biology lessons. Some of them looked like heartless monsters. They would test my memory and hit a ruler on my extended soft palm. I felt humiliated and I wanted to kill the devil and thought of various methods that would result in an accidental death of those hated monsters. But could not venture beyond the planning stage and never gathered courage to execute the plans and prove myself, at least to my self. Later when I got to know their own miserable conditions and compulsions to make my father happy; trying to prepare me for a career in medical profession; I gave up those grand assassination plans, those poor tutors were just trying to make a living and earn to keep their kitchen fires on.”
Waqar took out another beer. He was a gracious host and would make sure his guests would have had enough of delicious food and drinks.
Tariq knew all this background, having heard his friend many times over, but Waqar seemed so lost and trying hard to explain his position, he had no option but to listen and nod in agreement as he was suppose to do faithfully. One has to be and seen attentive and react in proper way when elders are saying some thing or any thing they felt like saying at any moment. Waqar resumed his monologue.
“ Now I am sure that stage is near and look quite possible it’s with in my own reach. No matter if they approve my plan or not. I have other options and some like-minded resourceful friends with me. And they are as passionate and willing as I am… I mean…”
Waqar looked away and fell silent and kept looking at the noisy children and ladies, his eyes becoming moist. Her daughter Henna raced toward them threw herself at him and started to sob.
“ Arrre. What happened to my dear little darling?” Waqar wiped his tears and Tariq took his beer to save it from spilling over the child.
“ I don’t like Bhai pulling my hairs.” She increased her effort to gather tears and started to howl loudly.
“ Oh, he is just a small child and does not know any thing.” Waqar made a funny face and tried to pacify the child.
“ Why don’t you tie his hands?” She stopped her howling and demanded abruptly. Her voice was shrill and efforts produced streams of tears from her innocent large eyes. She could rain teardrops on drop of a hat and smoother his dotting father to her outrageous demands. Henna now seemed proud of running little streams flooding her pink cheeks and delicate neck. Her mother Jahida had already got fed up of requesting Waqar not to pamper the child so much and spoil her for forever. But he would not listen and indulge his dear daughter further. She had no option but gave up completely and let Waqar deal with the little girl. She told him to find a boy for Henna, who could put up with such noisy tantrums and she would better be excused of such daunting responsibilities.
She would say- we don’t know what troubles she might face in her adult life; what kind of boy would she merry, how would he treat her. Please have mercy, don’t spoil her and think of future. Nobody likes a woman who throws tantrums and behaves unreasonably.
“ No need for that. I will tell him to behave.” Waqar put Henna on his lap and promised softly. Tariq could see little tears still sticking to his friend’s eyes.
“He won’t. I hate him.” She resumed her howling and threw legs violently on his chest.
Waqar caught hold of her tiny legs and made a funny face, which made her stop shrieking.
A flock of birds descended nearby and she sat up, wide eyed.
“ Abba, see these birds, I will catch one today.” She forgot her hair-pulling brother, funny-faced father and developed keen interest in the flock and ran after it, which raced dozing her expertly.
Waqar slowly drew his contorted muscles back in place and returned to his menacing, brooding, lamenting posture. Tariq watched him being transformed from a loving father of little girl to a fanatic, dreaming a grand terror strike, which may deprive many young girls of their funny-faced fathers, loving harassed mother and hair pulling cute little brothers. They perhaps, will never dare to howl again and would seize their interest in flock of noisy birds.

Friday, February 2, 2007

My motivation

Most of the thrillers have predominately western focus and I am trying to give an Asian perspective, back ground and motivation. Most of the action takes place in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The plot is set in motion by an ambitious, exiled communist hardliner having strong links with Afghan warlords and Pakistani chieftains. Greedy deal makers, antique smugglers and undercover agents complicate the matrix as few innocent lives are changing for ever.

The Desert Fox



Familiar sounds and distinctive smells of the old Bahawalpur bazaar were reassuring. The car stopped after a sharp turn, engine idling, creaking of a heavy gate followed with some one whispering to the driver. Abdul could feel the slow motion and the unfamiliar turns. He has been called after a long idle spell from his village through a special messenger conveying the urgency of his master, whom he had served well and got paid fabulously.

A part of journey from his village Dera Baba Ali situated in Cholistan desert near Pak– India border has always been shrouded in deception and secrecy. He would buy and ship an inventory of auto parts and lubricants for his small roadside workshop from various sources and negotiate hard for a bargain, making his presence felt. Whenever needed, it was easy to go undercover for a short time to meet the master or his confidents to discuss logistics of the next venture across border in to India.

He has been to Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Jaipur and Delhi on important missions and always out performed others. Close relatives in Indian cities unknowingly helped in his secrete endeavors, but they never knew his real motives. The recognition and money followed dutifully in abundance, along with an apt nick name - the desert fox. He never shared the hidden, adventurous and lucrative ventures across the border to any one in the family, childhood chums and not even his dear unlettered wife. Abdul believed It was better that way to hoodwink the known family enemies and the unknown snooping American spies– the despised locals in service of the infidels who earned well and led a life of decadence until one day they were justifiably betrayed and destroyed.

The burly man silently sitting beside him carefully checked his blindfold. The car stopped and he was helped out with care reserved for a fragile piece of a pricy cutlery. Two unfamiliar voices were heard along with a detailed personal frisking by four hands, demeaning but an essentiality before an audience with the chieftain Aslam Wahid Mir; a man whom successive governments of Pakistan hated, yet feared not to encroach upon his area of influence. Many foolish attempts to undermine him were fiercely resisted by a fitting bloodbath. His political rivals were always after his head but Mir survived their meticulous assassination attempts and assassins and suspects were hounded out to be thrown before a pack of ferocious hungry dogs. The punishments were filmed and circulated. Mir managed to climb higher through every adversity and become a folklore hero to his fiercely loyal clan and elsewhere. This MIT engineer was forced to leave a hedonistic America to fill the vacuum created by assassination of his father, the charismatic chieftain Gul Wahid Mir, a powerful minister in the provincial government.

They rode narrow winding stairs, moving slowly one step at a time, he could feel the curved, rough stone wall and smell a new place– he had not been here before.

After the ninth round suddenly he felt an air-conditioned space . The demeaning blindfold was abruptly removed - a plush interior, high ceiling and muted lights greeted him.

There were two other persons in the room. One fat, balding man with black sun glasses and silver sideburns looked familiar.

Where has he seen him?

The man wore a dark brown pathan suit and looked like one of the Afghan war lords he met in Peshawar years ago.

The tall white lady in jeans and sweater, standing near the fireplace caught his interest. She seemed to look straight at him with deep interest, judging….. Abdul felt uncomfortable but he has always liked a direct and shameless female gaze. What she was looking at? His brooding eyes, handsome face or the strong biceps, he was so proud of? Who is she...an American? But it never mattered to him….he felt attracted to this unknown white female.

“How are you Abdul?”

“Salaam walekum….I am all right by the grace of your divine patronage, malik….”

Abdul turned towards the familiar deep resonant voice and replied automatically, as he has been taught since childhood. The tall and handsomely aging Chieftain Aslam Wahid Mir entered from the door at side and patted his shoulder affectionately.

“Walekum asalaam. Good to see you back after so long.”

Abdul dutifully took his hand and kissed with due religious reverence. Four alert, turbaned, Kalashnikov wielding guards followed and stood at a respectful distance, surveying the large carpeted room, lavish Persian furniture and the visitors with grave suspicion.

“ I will see you after some time, you must be tired and hungry.” Mir announced and proceeded towards his other guests with a distinctive regal swagger. The bald man hurriedly stood up, bowed and embraced the host.

Abdul was ushered in an another room, where a large sumptuous breakfast awaited him.


“ How efficient and trustworthy is your man?” The tall lady asked.

“ He is the best, we call him the desert fox.” Mir waved his hand ridiculing her enquiry.

“Educated?” The lady persisted further.

“The tea is getting cold madam…..seems you are not adequately briefed about my resources ?”

He impatiently turned to the bald man who seemed to turn a little pale.

“ Brother I hate to be probed by a woman ...take it or leave it… I have no great interest in your proposal and tied up in a very busy schedule today.”

He turned to the lady and smiled.

“I am sorry, if you are offended but we are brought up that way. Please feel at home and enjoy the breakfast, the site seeing and market visits have been arranged, but be careful and stay with my people for your own safety. Some foreigners have disappeared recently and sold to the Americans by the police. I have one hour free this evening to finalize the deal if it is honorable. Have a good day.”

He stood up and elegantly moved towards the exit. A battery of

turbaned servants silently entered and wheeled large trays of food towards the stunned guests.


“What an arrogant bastard, your Mir…” The tall lady fumed.

“ You can’t do business in this part of world with out him.”

“Are you sure?”

“ Now you are insulting me, Olga.”

“ I won’t mind, if that gets me convincing answers.”

“ I told you, it is a one way tunnel, once we get in we only get out at other end. No back tracking is allowed…….. once we initiate a deal it has to be done. And for that we ought to have lots of faith and funds. It’s a team work you know.”

“ What other alternatives you have in mind?”

“Are you mad? Non-at all. Never even mention it again.”

Olga looked away.

“ Ok. You try any alternatives and see what happens?”

“ Are you threatening me?”

“ Not at all Olga. Just telling you a simple hard fact. It will be a huge mess if you try to back track now. I must remind if you have a soft memory that I am not a game for a dud deal, only hard serious businesses interest me. Mir is the most powerful person here; even the local police treat him with kid gloves. He has a personal prison and army of five thousand, mostly of his own loyal clansmen. Any one who initiate a deal with him and dares to approach his rivals, is never seen again. Such people are hacked to pieces live and thrown in a crocodile infested marshland. He is in to crocodile farming too.”

“ A macabre method indeed but how does all that help me? All I need is a small coordinated, smart group to deliver my cargos across border in India by land route and by air drops.”

Fat man leaned forward with great effort, his large belly restricting movement.

“ Mir has been briefed and be sure that man Abdul is the right choice for such a delicate job. He is an expert automobile technician, and computer savvy

with history of various successful ventures across border. He is personally loyal to Mir, fiercely secretive and resourceful. His education was funded by Mir.”

Olga silently smoked, looking out of the window.

“ Mir will be expecting us to conclude the deal this evening.”

“ So we have to deal on his terms?”

“ Exactly, how much you are ready to pay?”

“ No idea. What he wants?’

“ Come on don’t tell me you started all this with no budget in mind?’

“ Tell me his price.”

“Half a million dollars.”

“Impossible.” Olga played her cards carefully.

“ Its not a real price for your job. Some other person will be happy to pay double the amount and yet feel immensely grateful. This price is for a friend and trusted relative like me.”

Olga remained silent. She was calculating how much can be made secretly to make her and her daughters life comfortable.

The fat man threw the bone in the plate and picked another drum stick, watching her closely.

“ Delicious …. I liked the stuff.”

“Make it half. I did ask you to tell me the price before we come here.

Didn't I?”

The fat man laughed and picked up another drum stick and pointed at her.

‘Why do you think I am here Olga?’

“I didn't get you?”

“ I knew you wouldn't.”

“ I am not here for money. I am here to pay an old debt. Me and your father fought the Americans together.”

“ I know that.”

“ You know nothing…….The fat man shouted and continued.

“You have the guts to question me and trying to negotiate? Shameful indeed.”

Olga remained silent.


Inspirations from the real world events


Synopsis of a new post 9/11 thriller

The world has changed post 9/11 and it is set to change further by out of power soviet communists, Pakistani tribal chiefs and Afghan warlords. They are aided by determined individuals across the world with pressing need of fast money and dormant ambitions. It’s a dark web of international terrorists, Maoist guerrillas, antique smugglers, greedy dealmakers and undercover agents.

Vasili Grigorevich Vyshnevetsky has patiently waited in exile for fifteen years for the right combinations of his hidden resources with motivated comrades and an opportune time. There have been enough failures in the past and his present hunch was suggestive of sweet success which he could smell and feel the aura of coveted power engulf him.

Village Dera Baba Ali, Pakistan-India border: A group of India bound smugglers and their camels are dead in the desert with no external injuries. They are hurriedly buried by two shaken survivors. Will they be able to make profits and keep the secret?

Zurich: Maria, a glamorous American antique dealer is busy navigating her precious antique out of India. She hates delays and it’s her last chance to repay debts and retire. Nothing can now stop her.

New Delhi: Maoist leader comrade Hari Om needs guns for the decisive phase of long over due class struggle. His old flame Olga’s lucrative barter offer to get guns in exchange of organizing safe loading of a smuggled cargo from Pakistan to the capitalist Europe, means two kills with one aim.

Jaipur: Patricia Freeman, an undercover agent arrives in the Pink City, to investigate antique smuggler’s suspected links with international terrorists. She is restrained by weak leads and her possessive suitors.

Ajeetgarh: Dr. Mitra, the respected archeologist is found dead. He must have been drunk, lost control and slipped to a slow death. A TV journalist was seen with him before he died. Maria wants her traced and eliminated.

Paris: Tariq is troubled by his mentor Waqar's obsession to teach a fitting lesson to England for being the pet poodle of USA in Iraq war. Waqar has an innovative plan to fund his mission of hate. The weapon is to be transported from Afghanistan to Europe through, Pakistan and India. His sacrifice would make him a hero.

Tariq must know more to advice restrain and that is sure to push him deeper in to dangerous actions with no possible exit route. The emerging details made him sick and numb with horror, as his only son is held captive by Waqar, who must be stopped before it’s too late. The plan is to inflict heavy casualties on the despised enemy.