The Transformation


Jessica hated the London Tube during peak hours. She could think of many things she'd rather do than be pressed against smelly armpits or the top her head being scratched by the scruffiness of unshaved men. As the new showbiz editor for the prestigious Vogue magazine, Jessica was settled career-wise. Her impeccable and elegant dressing sense made her one of the go-to fashionistas in London. As she re-read her questions for her interview of the new Hollywood heart-throb, James Griffin, she briefly glanced at the profile photo of the man who had successfully dethroned the big hitters. Unlike the six-pack sporting, clean-shaven blokes that she fancied, James had long dishevelled hair and always sported a week-old stubble.  “I hate that smelly stubble in men” thought Jessica as she got off. As she sat down at the coffee shop of The Savoy, she thought “He’s late. I hate that in men too”.

Suddenly a dapper looking man slid into the seat opposite her. “Jessica, is it? I’m James Griffin” he said extending a hand-shake. As Jessica extended her hand outward, she couldn’t help but notice his neatly trimmed hair and clean-shaven face.”Wow”she thought ”He looks amazing!”

This post is a part of the Protest Against Smelly Stubble Activity in association with BlogAdda.

Oh, in case you are still wondering about how much of a difference a shave can make, just take a look at the two photos below of Henry Cavill - yes, the new Superman dude, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Oh, yes, I think a day or two old stubble can look smart, if trimmed to perfection.

Image Courtesy

Image courtesy

A chance encounter

“Excuse me, Ms. Roberts?” said the school assistant interrupting her thoughts. “Mr. Miller is here to see you” Sarah shook her attention away from the report that she was marking, and looked inquisitively at Mrs. Rosa, the school assistant. “Mr. Miller?” she questioned. “Yes, Ms.Roberts. Jack Miller’s father. He mentioned that you had requested his presence to discuss about Jack’s falling grades.” continued Mrs. Rosa.  “Ah, yes! Do ask him to take a seat in the meeting room” said Sarah, slowly replacing the cap of her trademark red-ink pen. “I’ll be there shortly”. Nodding politely, Mrs. Rosa gently closed the door. As she listened to the tap-tap of Mrs.Rosa’s stilleto’s reverberate through the hall corridor, Ms. Sarah Roberts, Head Mistress of Yellow Valley International School, smiled and got up from her plush red office chair. She slowly straightened her frock, re-applied her lipstick and rouge, powdered her nose and sprayed a couple of lavish bouts of mouth freshener into her mouth. Though approaching the ripe age of 60, Sarah was always very careful of her appearance. She dressed impeccably and carried herself with a lot of panache. Rarely would you see a strand of hair out of place, or an incomplete coat of nail polish. Coming from a very traditional English upper-class family, Ms. Roberts took pride in her heritage and her privileged up bringing. If anyone could point a finger at her, the only reason they’d have to do so, would be due to her “lack of tolerance” towards any form of body art or unnecessary piercings. Tried as she did, she was unable to see past those traits of “physical trashiness” as she called them. Nevertheless, she tried to be as diplomatic as she could be, keeping in mind that she was after all, the head of one of Britain’s premier educational institutions. As she slowly walked towards the meeting room, Sarah replayed her pre-prepared standard speech that she gave to the parents of her academically-challenged students, not that there were that many. After all, she had hand-picked almost every student who  had been given admission to her institution. On passing by the window of the meeting room, Sarah glanced into it. There was a suited man sitting on the chair across the table. She couldn’t see his face since he was looking away from the window, but his dressing sense was exquisite. Neatly combed back hair, dark brown crease-free suit and well-polished brown shoes. This was going to be easy, she thought and pushed open the door to the meeting room. Image courtesy Google search As Mr. Miller stood up from the seat, raising his hands outwards in a handshake to greet her, Ms. Roberts stood frozen to the spot. With her mouth wide open from the shock, she looked like a fish gasping for breath. Sarah took a few second to regain her composure. When she finally did, she crisply and curtly nodded at Mr. Miller, and walked across the desk, and took a seat across him. Taking a couple of deep breaths, she glanced carefully at  Mr.Miller’s face. Fair to say, that the major part of his face, and his neck was covered in a mixture of blue,green and red tattoos. If Ms. Roberts had been impressed with what she little she had observed of Mr.Miller from behind the window, it was pretty evident that she was in utter shock looking at his face. “This was going to be far more difficult than I’d imagined” she thought. As troubling as it was, Ms. Roberts was a professional. On top of that she was amazing at maintaining a straight face. So needless to say, the meeting was far more trouble-free than she had envisaged. Despite his “disturbing” appearance, Mr.Miller seemed to be well versed, articulate and a successful businessman. And probably used to people being “uncomfortable” about his facial tattoos, since he did not let Ms.Roberts’ initial few minutes of discomfort throw him of track. Years of experience dealing parents of kids who were sub-standard performers, ensured that Ms.Roberts was able to deliver her pre-planned pitch with minimum fuss and interruption. And Mr. Miller was relatively silent too, interrupting only when absolutely necessary. Though on the surface, Sarah remained cool as a cucumber, she had a number of thoughts going through her head.  “What kind of businessman would do this to his face? Wonder what impression he gives his clients? Is this how Jack, his son, going to turn out as well? How is it that he is so well read and articulate? Maybe this is why Jack is a rebel. Surely something was wrong somewhere. Maybe it was a phase. Do I want this man’s kids to study in my school? He must be really evil. He must worship one of those “unspeakable” dark gods.  0joEsSjTSTX4pJc3BjWb Soon Mr.Miller took over the conversation, and started to go through everything that his wife and he had put in place, to ensure that Jack should be performing well at school. Sarah gradually found herself observing the tattoo again. On closer observation, the mixture of green, blue and red lines seemed to define the contours of a snake with its forked tongue licking the eyebrow area. It was so well designed and life-like, that had to been drawn on a piece of paper or a canvas during Art class, Ms. Roberts would have applauded the effort. But on the face - Of all the places, why the face. “Seems like someone always wanted to join Slytherin” she mused quietly, thinking about the famous Harry Potter reference. 0joEsSjTSTX4pJc3BjWb After about 30 minutes of pretty standard parent-teacher conversation,Mr. Miller left with a promise that he would personally see to the fact that Jack’s grades would increase by mid-term. Sarah breathed a sigh of relief and closed her eyes momentarily. The day had been stressful. And though the meeting with Jack’s father had been pretty uneventful, the facial tattoo had really thrown her off. As she leaned back onto the chair and rested her head against the head-rest of the chair, she could feel the fatigue starting to take over and willing her to go to sleep. She resisted, and decided to call it a day, go home, have a nice glass of wine and then curl up with a good book. Her partner was away on business, and wouldn’t be back for a couple of days. 0joEsSjTSTX4pJc3BjWb As Sarah reversed out of the school parking lot, her phone went off. It was Brian, calling to confirm their plans for Saturday night. Though she knew that she shouldn’t be talking on the phone whilst driving, Sarah decided to let this one slide, put her 2011 model Fiat Punto Automatic into “Drive”, and pulled out into usually busy A10 main road. As she giggled at a joke that Brian made, she briefly glanced towards her right and that’s when she saw it - A petrol tanker was throttling towards her at full speed Suddenly Sarah and the Fiat Punto were in a spinning frenzy, like the spin wheel in the board game LIFE. The twisted heap of car metal and the truck’s bumper screeched against the tar road, and the once-bright-orange Punto flipped on its head. The last thing Sarah saw before she hit darkness was a white, fluffy, balloon-like structure appear out of the blue in front of her face. Then everything went blank. Sarah did not know how long she was unconscious. She did not even know where she was. All she knew was the unbearable throbbing in her head. And that her eyes were swollen, and her jaw bruised. And the cacophonous sound of honking cars, sirens and lights of many colours. And through these, she heard a voice. It started as a whisper and she could barely make it out. Slowly she tried to tune out the loud noises and flashing lights. And then she heard it a bit more clearly…”Ms.Roberts… Can you move your head? Can you hear me?” She wondered who Ms. Roberts was. Must be some else. She tried to peer out through her puffed eyelids. “Ms.Roberts, can you breathe?” asked the smooth, clear voice. She tried to open her eyes again. Though not clear, she could start to make out shapes and outlines. Slowly the fogginess in her eyes started to clear; and she blinked every so lightly. And then, she started to see him. The contours of his face and prominent jaw came into focus. His steely blue eyes resonated confidence and she felt safe. And then she noticed something odd. Along the sides of his cheeks, all the way unto his forehead and around his eyes, was a shape. At first she dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. Gradually as the scene became clearer, she  noticed that it was more prominent. It was a serpent in tones of blue and green, and with a forked red tongue protruding out from its jaw, all the way to his eyebrow. It looked strange yet vaguely familiar at the same time. And from the depths of her brain, something buzzed…it was as if a dot was joined somewhere. It was called a tattoo, she recollected. She wasn’t sure how she knew that, but she did. She carefully looked at the tattooed face of the man who had saved her. And then out of the blue, she felt a prick on her hand. And suddenly she felt a wave of nausea and tiredness wash over her. She felt her eyelids get heavier, and as she slowly started to close themshe knew she had seen that tattoo before! If only she could remember where. ________________________________________ oOee0duen5t5MPGvP22y __________________________________________

Disclaimer (As usual:))

First of all, this is a work of fiction and I have absolutely nothing against people who have tattoos, no matter where they might be. On the other hand, my wife has been going on and on about getting a tattoo, and apart from the fact that she is yet to find the right “spot”, I for one, have not stood in her way of “art-y-fying” herself. The story was merely used as a tool to highlight the negative stereo-typing that people with tattoos, especially on their faces, necks and other prominent areas face, across the globe. Even the most advanced societies are not entirely free of this discriminatory behaviour, and unfortunately, Ms. Roberts resembles that segment of the society. The reality is that, most of these “tattooed folk” as they are often labelled, are kind souls who are just a bit more “vocal and visual” with their interests. And we should respect them for that. After all, they are fellow human beings too.

Stay Safe - Ten tips for travelling safely


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Safety in India, particularly for women, has always been a concern. That’s not to say that India is completely unsafe for women. However giving due respect to recent “unforgivable” crimes against women and girls, it is imperative that all of us share tips that’ll help every woman, girl and young child walk freely with their head held high in every city and town, of the world, not just India. This is my contribution to the same. Since I’m based out of Bangalore, I’ve written with respect to this beautiful city. However they’re applicable everywhere.

1. Transportation and commute:

A general rule of thumb here is to pick your mode of transport wisely. Whilst public transport such as buses and autos can be often safe, the time of day should play a pivotal role in picking the mode of transport. For example, during peak hours, avoid public buses since it is quite likely that you’d find yourself right in the middle of a packed crowd, constituted mostly of unknown men. Definitely a situation that you’d not want to be in. Similarly at late nights, if alone, try and avoid taking autos and flagged down cabs. Always try and use a registered radio cab service, which is often recommended to be safer. Yes, it might be a tad more expensive; but safety is of paramount importance, isn’t it?

2. Be connected:

If travelling alone at night (or sometimes even in daylight) or through less crowded/populated areas, always remain connected. Great tips are to text your cab number/driver name/ vehicle colour etc to someone, or better yet, get on the phone and convey these loudly to your confidant on the other end of the line. This should deter the driver (or his partner(s)) from attempting to do anything immoral to you. This might also be a great opportunity to call up a friend or relative that you may have not been in touch for a while. It doesn’t matter who you call - it’s about remaining connected. Alternatively some of the popular radio cab services in most metros, also provide an option of SMS tracking when you book the cab. So your alternate registered contact will continue receiving SMS’s every time your location changes and until you reach your destination. I recently signed up for this option when my wife had to travel to the airport alone. We’d booked Meru cabs in Bangalore.

3. Use Social Media effectively:

Like most of us, I’m also guilty of having used Twitter and Facebook, to “virtually” check-in. Usually it is for unimportant things like hotels, restaurants, movies and the likes. However using a social media check-in when starting a journey, can actually help people locate your whereabouts. Yes, it doesn’t deter the driver from trying any hanky-panky business, but at least people are aware of your surroundings

4. Speed-dial it:

It is one of the functions that is present on even the most basic phones, yet not many of us choose to use it. Save the contact numbers of your local police stations as well as your emergency contacts on your speed dial. Most phones even let you dial out your emergency contacts even if the screens are password protected. So if anything goes wrong, all you need to do is hold down on the relevant speed dial number and it dials your emergency contact.

5. Travelling companionship:

Appreciate that this is not always possible, but when you can, always travel in groups, or at least with another companion, preferably male. Yes, I know, it makes me sound sexist and someone against women’s right to freedom. Trust me, it is a safety precaution that can work, especially in India. But do make sure you are travelling with someone you know well, such as an office colleague or a friend. If taking a cab or an auto, even if it increases your travelling companion’s journey time, try and get dropped off first.

6. Travelling to a new city for work:

If travelling to a new city for work, or even relocating, ensure you ask your company to organise the move as well as make arrangements for your stay. Also ask them for their relevant local contacts that you can use once you move. And then ensure you do some research about where you are going to be put up.  Always ensure that you completely lock the doors and windows if you’re put up in a hotel. I know it goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people I’ve spoken to, who do not lock the windows or doors in the hotel, simply because they assume that it’s already locked.

7. Crowds and festivities:

In most places across India, festivals are celebrated with great pomp and splendour. People swarm out onto the street like an army of ants. Understandably most of us tend to let go of our inhibitions and join the fun at times. However do pay extra attention to street celebrations in India. Try and avoid mixing with strangers during these celebrations, especially during times of Holi and Diwali. Additionally do not, and I stress DO NOT, accept any sweets, food or drink form people you do not know. It might appear a bit rude, but your safety always comes first.

8. Use “Smart Safety” apps:

With most of us having embraced smartphones, this should be an easy precaution to take. There are many reputed safety apps available, irrespective of the platform or type of smartphone you use. These apps such as Smart Suraksha, enable you to pre-program emergency numbers and send urgent SMS’s to both your contacts as well the local police stations with your location. We have the technology, so it’s time to use it effectively for our safety.

9. Arm yourselves:

No, I do not mean you become a gun-toting maniac. However you can have a number of small items in your handbag which can serve you well to help defend from these lunatic men. Great examples of such inconspicuous “tools” are Pepper Spray cans, Maglite® torches (trust me, they are worth every paisa as a weapon too), a strong umbrella which can also be used to beat the crap out of your assailants.


10. Be firm with your body language, vocal and learn some form of self-defence

If anyone makes you uncomfortable either through teasing, being too close or even staring at you, you have all the right to draw everyone’s attention. Such men, almost always, test the boundaries through an accidental brushing of your arms or other places. Use a firm push of the hand and aggressively set your boundaries. Be vocal and just walk away. They are unlikely to follow you further, if in a public place. Additionally it always helps if you take a few self-defence classes. There is absolutely no substitute for an aggressive kick to the groin to some of these shameful excuses for men-kind.

It should come as no surprise that most of these tips are applicable in every city, and not just for women in/visiting Bangalore.

In today’s world, where some of these men are capable of making you feel gross and dirty without even touching you, it is essential that every woman and girl is armed with the knowledge of how to get out of a sticky situations, should you find yourself in one.

I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at in association with Smart Suraksha App.

Stay Safe all!