The Driving Diaries: Prologue

In a homage to Hollywood’s fascination with prequels I have reversed the order of the latest pair of posts (not an entirely logical action, but very fun). Consequently this is the prologue, preceding chronologically The Driving Diaries Day I.


This story begins with a list. It was one of those old-fashioned pen-on-paper lists. The sort you’d put on your fridge or take with you to a grocery run. The sort that made your hand just itch to check items off.

I never took my list to a shop, and I certainly didn’t exhibit it on the refrigerator. Instead I hid it in my detective fiction collection — nestled between the pages of Murder in the Vicarage.  But I did try to tick some checkboxes. And that’s when the trouble started. Continue reading


The Driving Diaries: Day I

This is an excerpt from a project I’ve been working on over the summer. The original draft is preceded by a prologue and has footnotes but WordPress didn’t support annotations (which is quite a tragedy since some of them were important translations; oh well, just hazard a guess). Even without the footnotes this is longer than an average post, so you might want to bookmark it for later. Also, if you could fill out the short poll at the end, I’d be really grateful. Reader feedback is always enormously helpful!

I saw the car from the far end of the street. It was a silver Maruti, with the air of a street brawler — both the headlights were broken, with the filament wires clearly visible, a tangle of red and green. The bumper hung loose, rattling, and a giant blue sign “Khemka Driving School” was hoisted on the roof like a proud turban.

Seeing it all my hitherto lurking, amorphous fears took a concrete form: an image of me in that metal coffin with a half-frozen look of horror on my face, as I hurtled towards the abyss. Continue reading

Bird Beak, Crocodile Mouth

Comparison is the death of joy. ~ Mark Twain

“ Does anyone know what this sign means?” the teacher tapped the blackboard with the duster, next to the symbol she had drawn.

Being a precocious child I could see that the question was a rhetorical one and that our teacher was using it as a pretext to pour herself a cup of tea. Of course, I couldn’t say that aloud so I kept the thoughts of my prodigious mind to myself and pretended to be pondering the question deeply. I was mimicking a statue to great effect, with my hand resting below my chin to lend credence to my being lost in thought, when a voice spoke up from the back of the room.

“ It means multiplication ma’am.”

The teacher swung around searching for the voice, her sari swirling on the floor and creating a little chalk-dust cloud. Continue reading