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All in a day's work

Adjusting her beige monochrome overalls, Kaya preened into the mirror. A slim body that was accentuated by a blue belt, she quite enjoyed the smirks of envy from her peers. There were talks that some important tenders came in solely because of her looks. But, she didn't care. She knew she had the stuff to make the cut.

"Oh, come on, will you? We're getting late" pressed Lakshmi who was more down-to-earth, hardworking and a stickler for punctuality. She had butterflies in her stomach. The duo was chosen to give a presentation to the head of the department. And, Lakshmi instinctively knew that only she held the cards to crack the deal.

They charted their way hurriedly through the cubicles that were arranged in neat rows. Heads bobbed in and out of them, urgent calls being placed at some desks, complaints being answered patiently at some, while a few wore an uncharacteristic look of calm as though to mock the ones who were running at a frenetic pace of the office hours…

Outnumbered

She lay crouched in the dark musty nook. A lone streak of light shone in through the small hole in the makeshift wooden door to the tiny storeroom where she hid. The light diffused air particles in the line of her view as she strained to see outside.

The living room windows opened out on the first level just above the storeroom and she could hear their low voices.

She stifled a rising cough in the throat afraid to attract attention. The voices now transformed to chilling war cries.

Boom! Boom! Bang!

Shrapnel flew and came pelting on the tin roof of the storehouse followed by rapid footsteps. She shuddered. Fearing the worst, she flung open the door and dashed out.

A bile rose to her throat as she saw the damage caused and shook with vengeful rage.

Her favourite white bone china vase with indigo prints that once stood proudly near the window lay shattered in pieces all over the store roof and the ground below.

The two culprits jumped out from behind her displaying toothy grins and cri…

A new haven

"Papa!" squealed the little one, jumping up and down, jabbing his little hand towards the aqua blue clear water.

The father, a few meters behind, smiled wearily. His steps were slow and heavy from plodding through the ankle length snow. He caught up breathlessly alongside his son who was now beside himself with all the excitement of discovering something extraordinarily beautiful.



Despite the fatigue of setting out on a week-long expedition with the 5-year-old, the magnificent sight of the snow-clad slopes all around encasing a glistening water body right in between made the adult smile.

The chill at dawn break was prominent and in spite of being covered in thick black overcoats, they two expeditors shivered slightly.

Releasing the child from a bear hug, the father looked deep into those twinkling pair that shone with pride, happiness, and fascination.

"Papa, this place looks great. Can we move in here?" the voice was thick with hope and expectation.

"I'm…

An irrational dream

Pazhaniraja Elangovan trudged his way up the small slope on his rusty bicycle, a hand-me-down from one of his rare kind-hearted clients. A package, a heavy brown carton lay tied to the backseat with several ropes. The chains creaked as he pedaled harder on the slope.

Sweat trickled down his shiny brown face. Tiny buds of fresh acne dotted his forehead and chin area that was also beginning to sprout hair.

"Pazhani, don't keep loitering out in the hot sun," his Amma often chided him gently.

Pazhaniraja would dismiss his Amma's plea with silence.

She had suffered enough bringing him up single-handedly but was still worldly naive. What did she know about managing a part-time job as a local delivery boy, a night school, and a full-time dream? thought Pazhani irritatedly but also controlled his tongue.

His dream. Yes, he dreamed of owning his own business someday and making lots of money. He had many ideas but needed time to work on them.

Today, he thought excitedly. Wedn…

Bhutan: The last leg of our journey at Paro and a round up

Did you read the last post about how we made it to the top of the Takstang Monastery? If not, please do go back and read it.
Before I continue, here's a check-list that will come in handy for travelers.
Things to keep in mind while visiting the Taktsang or the Tiger's Nest Monastery 
1. You are supposed to be fully clothed while visiting this one or any other monastery/temple or Dzong in Bhutan. Which means you cannot wear short skirts, shorts, capris or the likes. Even your hands must be covered, so choose a full or three-fourth sleeved suit, top or shirt. Alternatively, you can wear a jacket or shrug.
2. Use of photography/video is prohibited in the inner sanctum of all temples and monasteries. At the Tiger's Nest, you have to surrender your backpacks with mobiles outside with the security. There are no lockers but like I said earlier, it's absolutely safe even without the lockers.
3. Wear a good quality and comfortable pair of sports shoes if you're trekking to …

The fault in our stares #100-wordfiction

He offered to walk her to the station. She sensed his well-toned arm within the suede jacket brushing against her slender, bare one as they tried to match their uneven strides. He leaned in suddenly towards her ear to whisper something. Her tensed muscles relaxed even as her full-throated laughter echoed through the dimly-lit streets. As the wind teased, his hands enveloped her from behind draping the jacket over her.

Despite enjoying the pleasant company, she felt at unease. She instinctively knew they weren't alone that night.

The judgemental stares turned into full-blown gossip by the time she came home.

______
100-word fiction story written for a prompt "The fault in our stares" at the BarAThon second edition.
Would you like to read the other posts in this series?

Outnumbered
A new haven
An irrational dream

Bhutan: River-rafting at Punakha and an unforgettable trek at Paro

From here on, we begin the last leg of our journey in this mythical, mystical and beautiful country of Bhutan. And, like the icing on the cake, the last few days of the trip built up to a befitting crescendo.

As we bade goodbye to Punakha, we rounded it up with an exhilarating white river rafting ride on the Mo Chhu river. This was not on our itinerary initially but one we could, fortunately, fit into our schedules and oh boy, did we enjoy it!

Our group could be best called as rookies in the field of adventure sports and were suitably excited and anxious about what to expect. We assembled at the starting point of the one-hour rafting ride on the Mo Chhu waters, slated to end at the Punakha Dzong where the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu merged as one.

Our rafting guide, Karma, was a cheerful and lively fellow who kept us (and the kids) entertained through the entire ride with his perky commentary and instructions. At the outset, we were given our life jackets, head gear, and the oars with specif…

Bhutan: The picturesque landscape of Punakha valley

Punakha would be the most scenic places we visited in Bhutan. We left Thimpu after breakfast for this valley which was about a 3-hour drive. Our itinerary suggested we leave before dawn to catch the sunrise at a breakfast point on the way. However, since it had rained the previous evening, it seemed futile to clamber out of beds and the cozy hotel with kids in tow just to see the thick clouds descending over the far away mountains.

The roads all over are well-laid and except for the drive from Phuentsholing to Thimpu, the travel time for the rest of the tour did not span more than four hours. The drive around the winding, hilly lanes of Bhutan is sheer poetry. All along the way, you'd be accompanied by mountains in varying shades of green. The vegetation covering them is so dense that you can't see an inch of the Browns. These are punctuated by deep valleys every now and then. The crystal clear fresh rivers flowing through the passes are a refreshing sight and you never tire …

Bhutan: A peek into the Bhutanese life, cuisine and hospitality

A travelogue is never complete without a reference to the food, customs and the lifestyle of the native dwellers. A country stands out from the rest because of its people, their habits, and food peculiar only to them.

The husband and I are not extremely adventurous in the food territory but we certainly like to have a taste of the local flavour wherever we go. The husband being a foodie helps the cause, of course. At the first opportunity, we placed an order for a 'datshi' which is a gravy based dish that the Bhutanese eat with rice

The national dish is called 'Ema Datshi' and is basically green chillies in a cheese-based gravy. Kewa Datshi is similar where the chillies are replaced with potatoes. We tried Ema Datshi at our Hotel in Phuentsholing. Sadly, we could not relish it. I did not like the cheesy taste and the chillies were too hot to enjoy. We later tried the Kewa Datshi at Paro and did find it good.


In my observation, the Bhutanese use a lot of cheese and but…

Bhutan: Around Thimpu, the serene capital city of Bhutan

After a tiring journey, we were glad to check into this beautiful heritage hotel. The beautiful aesthetics, typical of the Bhutanese paintings and artwork reminded me of the ones in Bali. We fell in love with our rooms: a mini-living area with low seating sofas, cushions and curtains all carrying the country's trademark patterns and colours. The adjoining bedroom was warm, inviting and spacious too. We joked that a hotel room of this size could well be someone's house in Mumbai's suburbs.




Early next morning we left to see the sights around the city but not before we stopped at yet another immigration office to get our permits done for Punakha. However, this was nothing compared to the elaborate one at Phuentsholing. Our driver got it done for us while we clicked pics of the adjoining beautiful lanes. 
The warm sun reflected off the bright blue skies that peeked out in turns from behind the spongy curtain of clouds that hung over the green, densely vegetated mountains.






That&…