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The Quirky Life of P

Humor and satire revolving around Mr P- a fictional mix of an avatar of Mr Bean and the veritable Bertram Wooster of Wodehouse fame.

Archive for the category “stories”

A stone that could melt your heart

By Hand What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.- Daily Prompt

 

P was looking after Dennis, his neighbours’ little boy, again that Friday as they went on some urgent errands.

Dennis: “Mr P, why don’t you have any pets?”

P: “I’d like to have a cat or dog as a pet Dennis, but you see, I’m only renting this house and the landlord had insisted on no pets.”

Dennis: “Not even some gold-fish?”

P:  “Goldfish may not be a problem to the landlord. I did try keeping goldfish, but they all died on me… You know I’m so quirky, I don’t want to have pets that will die on me. I hated pets dying on me when I was a kid”…

And P changed the subject with some talk about cartoons and football…

The next day, was a Saturday and P was hoping to devote it fully to some reading, TV watching and general lazing about. As soon as he finished his brunch, he was about to go back to bed with a book when he heard a small knock on his door. P went and opened it to see Dennis there, with a small cardboard box.

Dennis: “Mr P, I have brought you a pet…”

P: “Oh Dennis, you should not have… I can’t keep a mouse or a small animal… I may not be able to look after it well and it may soon die…

Dennis: “Don’t worry Mr P, this pet won’t die… You won’t even have to feed it or wash it”

P was curious. He took the box from Dennis and opened it…

A pair of painted eyes looked at him from the box…

Dennis: “It is a pet rock, Mr P. I made him for you.”

Pet rock

The little boy had taken a grey, flattened, oblong shaped rock and had painted a face on it and made it colourful with some spots of paint.  P was touched. He realised that even stones could melt his heart. His Adam’s apple wobbled as he tried to control his emotions.

Dennis: “Can we build a pet rock house for him today and then he can bring Mrs Pet Rock and their children too?”…

That was the end of P’s lazy Saturday…

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The story of noodles

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“So, what story are you going to tell me today, Mr P?” asked the kid. P had his own secret name for the boy and it was Dennis the Menace. There seemed to be a lot in common between the kid and the cartoon character. Usually P gave him a wide berth, but today, however, his parents had asked P’s help to look after him while they took their younger one to the clinic. The baby had been crying all night and the parents had decided to seek the doctor’s help.

P had agreed to look after Dennis because he had some time on his hands and there were plenty of packets of Maggie noodles in the pantry. P had a theory that most kids seemed to like Maggie noodles… The little menace in front of him, also it seemed, was very fond of noodles… If it hadn’t been for the noodles, P would not have agreed to take on the responsibility of looking after the kid and giving him lunch as he had no idea about what to cook to keep the boy happy.

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“Mr P… Didn’t you hear me? What story are you going to tell me today?” asked Dennis. The boy had wanted to play football inside the house and P had dissuaded him from it with the promise of a story. However, nothing was on his noodles other than the thought of how noodles were going to save his day.

“Well, how about a story on how noodles came on earth?” asked P.

“Don’t be stupid Mr P. Noodles did not ‘come on earth’. They were made on earth,” the boy pointed out.

“OK then, I’ll reword it. A story of how the world’s first noodles were made… Does that sound alright?”

The kid nodded and sat down on the carpet next to P.

P gathered his wits about and tried to make up a story.  He cleared his throat and began…

“I heard this story from my grandmother and she had heard it from hers… Long, long ago, in the land of the yellow river, people were living happily. The river kept the land fertile and people ate cooked balls of pounded millets and grains. There was a young family of a man, his wife and two children who lived in a small hut by the river. The father used to go hunting and fishing while the mother cooked and took care of the children. In the evenings, when the father returned home with the fish and all the raw materials needed for dinner, all of them sat down together and had their sumptuous meals of millet balls, fish and a special dish that the mother used to make with stuff she gathered while walking along the river banks.”

At this point, P paused and made sure that he had the boy’s full attention. He then continued…

“Now, the eldest boy in that family was a little spoilt kid. It came to a point when he would eat only the special dish and nothing else.”

“Must have been very yum… What was it exactly?” asked Dennis, his eyes alight with vicarious satisfaction.

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“It looked like noodles” P continued. “However, disaster struck in the form of a very cold and severe winter. The father could not go out and catch fish and the mother came back empty-handed for days and days when she went to gather material for the special dish. There was only flour of millets and grains in the house and meals had to be prepared just with that. The boy who would not eat anything other than the special dish was starving. It was then that the parents came out with the idea of tricking him to eat his food. While the boy, hungry and tired was sleeping, they made a paste of millet and grain flour with water. Instead of making small balls with the dough like they used to before, they stretched it out flat on the floor. They then cut thin strips out of it like strings and put them in boiling water and cooked them. The dish came out looking very similar to the special dish the mother used to cook and when the boy woke up, he ate the meal heartily. Thus the world’s first noodles were born!”

P smiled and looked at the little boy’s face, but did not see much of a reaction.

“You must be hungry now. Let me cook lunch for you. Shall I cook some Maggie noodles?” asked P and was happy and relieved to see the eager nod.

P mentally thanked God and Maggie noodles for saving him from cooking something else that would have demanded more time and effort.

As he was about to get up from the chair, the little boy said “Wait!  You didn’t tell me what the mother was collecting when she made the original noodles or the special dish as you called it. What was it?”

“Oh! They were earthworms that were in plenty around the fertile banks of the river” said P and noticed the sudden nauseous look on the boy’s face.

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“Can I please have something other than noodles, Mr P?” he asked squeamishly before he doubled over and was sick on the carpet. There went P’s best laid plans!

Second-Hand Stories

Origin of the Suspicious

The phone was still crackling a bit and P made a mental note to call in the technician once again. P’s neighbour had phoned him in the morning and the reception was so poor, he could barely understand what was said.  Piecing together the bits and pieces he managed to hear over the static noise and crackle, it appeared to him that P’s urgent help was needed. The neighbour was invited to the local high school to give a talk that evening, and he had sought P’s help in preparing the lecture. P had always portrayed himself to have a questing and scientific bent of mind.

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As soon as P finished his lunch, he sat down to scribble his ideas down. The topic was “The Origin of the Suspicious” and P considered himself to be well equipped to take the task head on.

After all he had listened to Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious minds” so many times….

However, when P really set himself to write the matter down, he discovered that he did not have a clue on the science of the “Origin of the Suspicious.”

Then it struck him! “Eureka! May be, they need something fictional as in those Daily Post WordPress weekly writing challenges!”

Without much ado, he gave a free rein to his imagination and started writing….

“Long, long ago, there was no suspicion. People had total faith in anything and everything… For example, if P would stand by his windows upstairs, playing with the curtains, his neighbour would never suspect him of prying… If P would wave and smile at his neighbour across the fence, his neighbour would never suspect P of having devious plans to sweet talk him into lending his Porsche Panamera to P later in the day. And the list went on…

Honest people were happy because they never suspected they were being swindled and swindlers were happy because they never suspected that they were suspected…. In other words, it was Utopia. People trusted each other and animals trusted each other. The deer would trustingly offer its nape to the lion and the lion would trust the deer not to make a life-saving dash any time…

deerlion

Perhaps you would have by now noticed what was wrong with this Utopia… Of course it was just that the honest and the good were at the losing end. This was totally unacceptable to the Universal Spirit. Something had to be done urgently to help the survival mechanism of all beings. So the Universal spirit blended all the relevant potions and magic and ABRA-CA-DABRA…the seeds of suspicion were created.

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Even though the seeds of suspicion were created, it was still a Herculean task for the Universal spirit to get them into living beings. All methods were tried and the universal labs were employed round the clock to come up with answers. Finally there was success as the seeds of suspicion were transformed into pieces of DNA called genes of suspicion.

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These genes were embedded as mutations in the genetic make-up of organisms, changing their perspective on survival and they became suspicious, but some more so… (“such as my neighbour”, thought P, but he did not write this down). This is the tale of the Origin of the Suspicious.”

With these facts written down, P took his afternoon nap and at 4 pm in the evening, he walked across to his neighbour and gave him the write-up.

Expectantly he waited for appreciation but he was flabbergasted and his jaw fell open when his neighbour said “Well, you have managed to get the word survival here, and genetic make-up and DNA here. Other than that, how does this discuss Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species?’”

P reminded himself once again to call the technician to sort out the problem of his telephone as soon as possible.

In the Beginning

Dances with elephants-Mr P takes a joy ride!

There is nothing wrong in dreaming about riding an elephant! Mr P wanted to ride an elephant, get his picture taken in that glory, and post it on Facebook. This wish had budded in his mind ever since he saw the movie Bride and Prejudice, where the hero and heroine rode on an elephant in the last scene. Mr P had thought it was pretty cool!

So this time on his tour to India, P visited the elephant park at Kottoor in Kerala. As soon as he reached the place, P booked his ride straight away. He was given a time to turn up at a spot for his ride and in the meantime, P decided to take a walk around the park. He saw several elephants – they ranged from very young, hairy ones to huge giants. It was then that P realized that all of a sudden he was actually getting quite nervous about riding an elephant. P began to feel that he needed to keep at a distance from them, even from the baby ones. The baby elephants were too playful and seemed to want to tickle his ears with their trunks! As for the big, adult elephants, he felt them giving him such deep looks as if they knew all his darkest secrets! Of course he had heard about how intelligent elephants were.

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He now started having serious reservations about the elephant ride but was worried that if he withdrew now, it would make him look like a coward.  So, when the time came, he made his way to the location with shaking legs. The mahout was waiting for him with a huge elephant.

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Faint heartedly, P gazed at the large mammal which seemed to give him a mean, disdainful look.

“Can I have a ride on that elephant?” Mr P asked pointing to a frolicking baby elephant that stood some distance away.

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“Oh! No sir! It is too small to carry people. We only use adult elephants for rides,” said the mahout.

With no way of escape, P decided to climb on top of the giant that had now bent down on its knees at the instance of the mahout.

“If Tarzan can do it, so can I,” muttered Mr P as he proceeded to mount.

Climbing onto the back of an elephant was indeed a feat and after several aborted attempts, P finally made it to the top. As the elephant stood up erect, he sat astride on its back. Those who have sat astride on top of an elephant would realize how wide apart you have to keep your legs! It was almost like doing the splits!

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As the elephant moved forward, P felt very uncomfortable, so much so that he decided to change his position to side-straddle. Slowly he moved his legs around and finally managed to get them both together and down on one side of the elephant. However, on sitting sideways he found that he had moved too much to one side. As the elephant walked, P kept slithering and sliding further down the side of the elephant every time it moved. His silky, smooth track pants only aggravated the situation.

P decided that falling down from the top of an elephant would not be an enjoyable experience. So a flustered Mr P then decided to return back to his original position and sit astride. He started moving his legs around once more. However, he had lost his sense of orientation in his anxiety and when he finished adjusting his seating, he found that he was sitting astride facing the tail end of the elephant! So P started to turn around again.

Changing one’s position atop a moving elephant is not an easy task for a person riding an elephant for the first time, but misfortune had not glanced his way, ……. yet. With the last move however, P nearly fell off and was saved only by grabbing the rope around the elephant’s neck. Somehow he maneuvered himself back on top. He was now lying prostrate on top of the elephant, facing its tail end and hugging the animal for dear life. Hearing a loud applause he slowly lifted up his head and saw that he had gathered a huge audience. A big crowd had gathered and was watching P’s antics on top of the elephant. No one could be blamed if they thought they were watching an atop-the-elephant-acrobatic show and were showing their appreciation with a loud ovation.

The elephant and the mahout however, had no such conceptions. The stressed probiscidean was getting very nervous and the mahout decided to end the joy ride. Very soon (though it felt like eternity to P), the elephant stopped moving and the mahout got it to kneel down. He gathered brave Mr P from the back of the animal. P had nearly fainted. A big cheering from the crowd got P standing up on his wobbly legs to acknowledge their appreciation but saw that the applause was intended for the elephant and the mahout. With an end to all the wriggling on its back, the Elephas maximus indicus breathed a deep sigh of relief and stood up.  The mahout and the elephant looked traumatised as they slowly walked away. They probably would need counselling! No pictures or videos were taken, so Facebook missed a hilarious upload!

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Things go wrong for Mr P on the yoga mat!

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Mr P could go on and on about the merits of yoga. Like most yogis, he also liked talking about the goodness of being a vegetarian. Yet P was a vegetarian only when there was no non vegetarian food available. Slightly misquoting the original saying P justified that though he craved to be a vegetarian, “the spirit was willing, but  flesh made him weak!!!” .

Anyway, coming back to the topic of yoga, Mr P had a yoga certificate under his belt. The Yoga Shiromani certificate gave him the eligibility to teach yoga.  After obtaining the qualification, Mr P practised yoga once in a while whenever he noticed that his waist line was expanding much faster than the progression of his spirit. The Asana that Mr P liked best was Shavasana or the corpse posture, where one lies flat on the back with arms and legs stretched and relaxing with the eyes closed. But mat time often became nap time for Mr P. He would wake up finally and look at his watch to see that he had spent at least two hours doing yoga… But the girth of his waist never seemed to decrease!

When he thought about it more, P realised that perhaps he would be able to do more active yoga if he did it in a group rather than all alone by himself. P then hit on the brilliant idea of starting a yoga class. He believed that if he taught yoga, he would be doing all the postures with the students rather than snoozing off. So Mr P spread the word around and soon had a class started. There were five students on the first day. Mr P started with his favorite posture – the Shavasana. He demonstrated it for his students.

Lying flat on his back on the yoga mat spread on the floor he began with “Relax your toes.”

More than any yoga stretches, what Mr P was really good at stretching, was the word “relax“. He felt that stretching it out helped people unwind more.

So he said “Relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax your toes!”

“Relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax your feet,” came after a long pause.

“Relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax your thighs” followed after awhile.

Relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaxing the stomach, chest, hands, neck and so on he went upwards, slowly, in a gentle, sombre voice……

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

When finally Mr P opened his eyes, he saw that his students were sitting up politely waiting for him to wake up. Someone even commented on Mr P’s noisy snoring.

 

In the next class as well, Mr P started with his favourite Shavasana posture. Relaxing, he slept off as usual because …… he was all by himself on the yoga mat once again!

Pitfalls of cooking and Mr P: Things get more slippery!

You may recall from the earlier post that Mr P had wanted to cook some Dahl for his guest ( http://avatarofmrbean.com/2012/03/28/pitfalls-of-cooking-and-mr-p-the-saga-continues/ ). The way Mr P prepares Dahl is quite easy. You just have to pressure cook lentils (either green gram which is also known as moong dal or red gram or Pigeon pea which is also known as tur dal) in water with a pinch of turmeric powder until they form a nice soup. Then you heat two tablespoons of oil in a pot and add half a teaspoonful of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and a couple of red chillies. You add the cooked lentils into the pot when the mustard starts popping. Into the liquid you can now add salt to taste, a bit of garlic paste and a very tiny pinch of ground cumin and optionally a pinch of garam masala. Green chillies, onion and one or two tomatoes may also be added. The Dahl is ready when the soup boils for a few minutes. moong Ki dal, Moong Ki Daal

Just as Mr P was about to start preparing lunch he realized that he had run out of dish washing liquid and cooking oil. So he brought out the bottles of Canola oil and Sunlight dish wash he had bought earlier in the week and placed one by the stove and the other by the sink. Mr P then cooked some lentils in the pressure cooker and nodded off in the kitchen chair reading the day’s newspaper. The cooker’s whistle woke him up when the lentils were thoroughly cooked into a soup. Mr P poured two generous tablespoons of oil into a pot heating up on the stove. He was in a hurry because he had spent time reading the newspaper (he definitely would not admit to napping) when he should have been doing other things to get lunch ready for his guest G who was soon to return from shopping. He did not wait for the oil to get really hot before he added the mustard seeds, the cumin seeds and the pieces of red chili peppers. He was in so much of a hurry that he did not wait for the mustard seeds to pop before he dumped the cooked lentils into the pot with some water and added the garlic paste, cumin and the garam masala powder. He left the pot to boil on the stove and scurried to the kitchen sink to do the breakfast dishes. He opened the tap, stoppered the sink and poured a generous amount of the new dish washing liquid into the basin.

“This is one funny dish washing liquid”, thought Mr P. “Looks like someone has invented a non sudsy detergent!”.

He put the dishes in to wash. As he tried to rinse the plates, he noticed something strange. The dishes had turned very slick and greasy and no amount of rinsing with fresh water could make them clean. They had tiny globules of something like oil all over them.

His hands also felt very oily. He smelled his hands and the plate he was trying hard to clean. Instead of the lemony smell of the dish wash, he smelled something very different.

“If it feels like oil, smells like oil and looks like oil, it must be oil,” he decided and checked the bottle that he had put by the side of the sink.  It said “Pure  Canola Oil”.

Mr P groaned. He was in for a big job now to get the dishes oil free. However, he had not yet realized that he was in Double trouble with Bubble trouble. Have you, now?

A lemony smell was wafting from the pot on the stove. Mr P rushed to check his Dahl. Something strange was happening to it. It was all frothy, sudsy and lathering up!!!

Pitfalls of cooking and Mr P…the saga continues…

After the breakfast debacle (The Intricacies and Pitfalls of Indian Cooking and Mr P! , http://avatarofmrbean.com/2012/03/26/the-intricacies-and-pitfalls-of-indian-cooking-and-mr-p/), do you think that G would have stayed for lunch if invited? Guess what? He did! He understood that Mr P was feeling a bit downhearted and so he agreed to give him another chance to prove his culinary skills. There are some people who would take any amount of beating and would still turn the other cheek because of a soft heart. G belongs to this rare, endangered species of ‘softies’ that is on a path of accelerated extinction. G is also a vegetarian.

Mr P decided to cook rice and make daal, pappad and Aviyal to go with it. Aviyal  is made from finger sized pieces  of all the vegetables such as cucumber, snake gourd, eggplant, green chillies, long beans, carrots, yams, green bananas and drum sticks (of course not drumsticks that are chicken legs, but long fruits of Moringa plants). Variety of fresh vegetables being sold on a st...

These vegetable pieces are washed well and cooked in a little volume of water with tamarind and salt to taste.  Turmeric and red chilli powder or pastes are also added. Ground coconut and cumin and curry leaves are added towards the end.

For Mr P, the most difficult part in this whole recipe was cutting the vegetables to size. “The vegetables are to be finger sized. “They cannot be cubes or any other shapes because that is one thing that distinguishes Aviyal from other dishes,” Mr P had learned. While cutting them into finger shaped pieces, he was worried he would cut his fingers as well.  However, since he started wearing finger gloves on all his fingers while slicing vegetables, he had become more confident.

So while G left to do a little shopping, Mr P stayed home and cooked the meal. Something happened to the daal which is matter for my next post. “Let’s forget the daal. Yoghurt would serve equally well and I’ll also serve a little bit of mango pickle”, decided Mr P. When G came back and they sat down for lunch, he had the meal neatly served on the dining table minus the daal.

Two spoons of food later, G suddenly choked and turned red. He was staring at his bowl of Aviyal.

“ You do know that I am strictly vegetarian, don’t  you Mr P?” he asked.

“Sure, I do,” said Mr P.

“And this Aviyal….. Are you sure it is vegetarian?” asked G slowly moving the vegetables around in the bowl.

Mr P looked at G’s bowl of Aviyal. There, partly covered by the gravy and vegetables was something that looked like a finger! Mr P surreptitiously checked whether all his fingers were intact. Assured, that the strange THING in the Aviyal was certainly not one of HIS body parts, Mr P investigated further. It was bent at an angle that reminded Mr P of the celebrity actress’s leg at the last Oscars that had jutted out through the dress slit, sending the whole world a-Twittering and starting an account-Angelina Jolie’s Leg @AngiesRightLeg.

Mr P probed further. Amidst the vegetables, it looked like an alien finger.  “Probably from Mars” thought Mr P. “But then, the THING was not red coloured and isn’t Mars supposed to be the red planet?”

Mustering all his courage Mr P pulled the THING out.

 It lay in full surrender on top of the dining table.

Lo and behold! It was the one finger glove that was missing when he had put them away after washing the vegetables!

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