Friday, March 25, 2011

Another one bites the dust- Part 2



Nahla felt nauseous after the day’s events. Bad for hoodwinking a perfectly innocent chap and disgraced at having to compromise for a meaningless future with a raunchy and unscrupulous man. She stared at the first carpet that Kaizer had offered. It felt soft and instantly reminded her of his pleasant face. All these years she had never met anyone who had believed her so easily. For the first time, she didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment. On the contrary, she felt overcome with an extreme sadness. She wondered how anyone could trust another so simply.

What was his name? Why hadn’t he asked her any questions? What had he come to Sumer for? What use did he have with her goats? Where did he live?
Even more humdrum questions like- Were all the people in his country like him? Did he have any sisters? Why did he have a halo of leaves on his head?
How precisely parallel he was to Amar Suena! And that brought her back to reality. Amar had announced their wedding in 36 days without even bothering to ask for her consent.

Isn’t it funny, how, to get out of one mess you pull yourself even deeper into a whole new jumble? No, there was no way she was going to let someone dictate her being. She had already cheated hundreds of people for his selfish motives. But letting him ruin her life was not quite on the agenda. That left just one solution....running away.

But where would she go? There was no one to whom she could turn to for help. A sound plan had to be drawn up. She could not do this on her own. If she left the house, the people would recognise her and send her back.

That’s when the stranger from the market came to her mind. She had instinctively liked him for his simple odd features, his forthright manner and casual smile.
Would he help her? He undoubtedly had a good heart. But off course, when you like someone, everything about them seems just right, just perfect and justly endowed.
Besides, he was to meet her in the same span of time.

She decided to place her trust in him. There really wasn’t much of her mind working there anyway. Go was the word that her heart echoed and she obeyed.
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Kaizer thought back of the woman he had met at the market earlier in the day. Her modesty had enchanted him. The more he thought of her, the more he wanted to think of her, the faster his heartbeat raced, the sooner he hoped time would pass as 36 days would come to an end. She had become an enigma for him, one who could only be admired from far. He tried to rehearse what he would tell her, but for that he needed to find someone who could teach him the language. Her language.

As he held the jar close to him, he wondered what may be in it. The seal however could not be broken until the day of the agreement settlement so its contents had to be held suspense. He shook it once again. Maybe he would crack just a part of it and take a peek inside. He took a large stone and hit it on the edge. The seal broke and as he inverted the jar, a string of stones fell from inside. He was quite taken aback.

How could the jar contain stones? It was supposed to have miniature trinkets of goats. Had the woman in the cloak cheated him?

Had it been another person, he may not have rebound so abruptly but to have been cheated by someone he had been smitten so much by, made his heart sore. All hopes of meeting her were now replaced by anger and resentment. He decided he would go away to his country. He didn’t need a bunch of crooks to deceive him. NEVER would he come back again to this hated place.

As he walked on the pavement retracing his steps towards a journey back home, he noticed a person across the road hit against a solid bar, sprawled on the road with a bleeding eye. Kaizer rushed to help the ailing man and removed from his garment a small burette of yellow coloured herbal ointment and applied it on the outer edges of his eye. The bleeding stopped shortly and the man recovered.

The man thanked Kaizer for his timely help and enquired of his name and whereabouts. This was the first person so far who understood Pashtun (his language) and almost felt to him like a man from his own mother land. Sumer, he realised wasn’t such a bad place after all.
On hearing that Kaizer was homeless, the man insisted on him to stay for a couple of days in his house. Besides, there was rather a lofty occasion coming up for which his presence would be solicited.
Given the little spacing Kaizer had to deny this offer, he accepted and just as they walked homewards, the man introduced himself
‘My name is Amar. Amar Suena.’, he said and smiled.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another one bites the dust


Nahla stood at the side of the busy and shabby unmetalled marketplace of Kish, pulling the folds of her cloak in apprehension. Under it she hid the clay jar that she hoped to sell off to a worthy visitor. Most people in the locality recognised her; less for her appearance and more for the deceit that she was well known for. Who was she going to swindle today?

As people passed her by, nobody spoke to her but each onlooker’s eye displayed a shaft of recognition for the most talented slave of the Sumerian clergyman, Amar Suena. A few people here and there stopped to examine her course of action.

She scanned the crowd from among proud and demanding wood sellers who hurled abuses at docile pleading goat seller’s, to Lebanese cedar sellers and amidst them there stood a man in white attire with a tiara of olive leaves on his head. Clearly, he was from another country, who had come here with the hope of making a kismet. She smiled as she saw in him the traces of an ideal target and slowly paced towards him. How prefect, she thought.
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Kaizer had finally reached the last leg of his journey. A trader’s life had always excited him. Travelling to countries far and wide, a new culture each time, new people and new hope. If only their language wasn’t a barrier for him. He had been told by his Afghani countrymen of the fetching Kish market where many a fortunes had been made. A few carpets were all he had with him to offer. As he listlessly walked down the street looking for a prize that would be worth his humble offering, he came across a cloak clad woman.

All he could tell was her dusky complexion that glistened in the sun and the most riveting eyes ever. For a brief moment he entirely forgot the business he had come for. She held a clay jar towards him and pointed at the carpet. Was that a deal she wanted to strike with him? A carpet for the jar? For the delight at having her want to do anything with him, he would have given the carpet for nothing. Without a scrape at trying to bargain or wanting to enquire the contents of the jar, he extended the most elegant carpet from the dozen of them to her.

She nodded her head and signalled to mean them all. All carpets for one jar?
Now his curiosity piqued. What did the jar contain?
He looked at the lid but it was sealed so he shook it as the insides clanged. He tried to break open the seal but no sooner had he touched it; she firmly snatched the jar away from him.
How queer!
She then waved at him and pointed towards the surface of the pot on which was scrawled a picture of six goats.

It then dawned upon him the clarity of what was happening. This woman here was trying to buy from him carpets in exchange for six goats that she would give on another prefixed day. That he had heard from his friends was a popular trend in Sumer.

But what was he going to do with goats and how would he take them back home? He nodded his head in disagreement. The woman’s eyes fell with regret as she turned away.
A strange surge of guilt arose in him. How could he upset someone so ravishing? He hadn’t seen her face but her eyes were enough to talk of her loveliness and soft nature. Also there was the decoy of meeting this young woman again.

He lightly touched her shoulder and held out the carpets. At first she looked mildly surprised but without much ado hurriedly accepted it and pointed to the watch in his pocket, moved her hands in a circular fashion twice and then signalling with a show of hands indicated three and six. 36 days!

That’s when she was going to repay him. As a man blinded by her grace and poise, he didn’t question the deal much further. All the people who were now overly keen on the outcome of seeing a man cheated, sighed in despair. Among the people supervising the proceedings was Amar Suena, the clergyman who owned Nahla. She had proved his allegiance and loyalty to him by conducting his business in a more than suitable fashion.

Heavens knew there was nothing in the clay jar besides a few stones which when unsealed would prove the traveller as a liar tainting the image of an impoverished street side slave girl when he asked for the goats that belonged to him.
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Amar Suena felt a sense of pride for this catch of a slave and on examining the ace quality of the carpets agreed to honour his promise to Nahla by setting her free. She had served him well and deserved to live without being bound. However the price for this kind gesture from his end would be for her to marry him. In his opinion, it was the greatest ideal a slave could aspire for. Never to have to do menial jobs again, never to dupe strangers again but stand aside him as his better half, a tribute she was not even worthy of, given her deplorable status.

Nahla however had other ideas. She wished for freedom. She wished for a new life. She wished for falling in love....perhaps with just an eccentric foolhardy smitten trader from Afghanistan.

Click for Part 2

Monday, March 14, 2011

I can burn, oh yeah!

This post is written for Blogeshwar and Anubhooti
Afternote- Tadaaa! I won! :D


No guesses there. Dressed in drab beige again!
She had destroyed him with a disdainful relish. Tore at the core of his heart without leaving so much as a tangible scar.
He had always known it. Right from the first time he ever laid eyes on her serene countenance. She looked just as her million peers, and yet so different. There was the same innocence, the same gracious gait, yet a forbidding elegance that only lured him to drift nearer.

He had often spoken of his desire to attain her. Easy. That’s what she was. The trophy however was not in the getting; it was in the keeping. He had never been serious to begin with. It was but another of those passing affairs. The pleasure of company, the promise of commitment, the privacy of contentment and finally the predicament of closure. That was his plan.

Never had he foreseen that his charm would fail. It had managed to conquer alright, but what he soon realised was, his slice was only the edge of the dipping valley. There was the greatest physical bond between them but her disloyalty couldn’t be more pronounced. Her soul remained indifferent. Her hands touched his, but her jaded eyes wandered much past into nothingness. Expressionless, visionless and hard as metal.

It shrieked at him but he refused to surrender. He was a taken man. His friends jeered at him for his inability to detach from such an ordinary mortal. Were they envious? But they too had floored his prize. Each one of them at that. They had all gambled on her and won, but he had mistaken her to be HIS eternal possession.

And wrong he was, because she had never belonged. She didn’t know how to. A moment’s solace is all she was designed for. Maybe two.
Maybe he could teach her. Maybe she would reciprocate. Maybe there would be a moment of weakness in her sordid aura.
But it wasn’t to be.
As denial wore out, all he now wanted was to stretch the few fading hours together. The future was a mirage anyway. All in the present, to savour and preserve from a journey lost, a few moments of devotion.

As she sat next to him, her features didn’t give away the slightest hint of her conniving customs. He didn’t care if she didn’t spare him another chance; he didn’t care if she was the reason for his crumble. All he craved was one soft caress. To inhale her presence. To vie for her passion. Even if it meant smouldering away. That’s how much she meant to him. HIS affable lady. His cigarette.

Statutory warning- Oh I know, the mundane but much prophesised- Honey, it’s injurious to health! ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soft landings...Soft hearts

Post ek aur awards do!!! Bohottt na-insaafi haiii! :D
                 
                                and
             
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"Mere dil ke kisi koney main ik masoom sa baccha
badon ki dekh kar duniya, bada hone se darta hai"

Credits
Radwa and Moin

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tax Shax for Dummies

‘Sir aapko tax bharne ko aayega’- As good as 90% of the people at the receiving end of this comment would remove a large white hanky and wipe their forehead- (and might I tell u we have a well ventilated office so make no reservations)……Then the next thing they want to know is the extent of damage ‘Kitna madam?’…….Irrespective of what the amount is, the reaction is a huuuuge sigh accompanied with ‘Thoda kam kar do na’….Gives the impression almost as if we are in a sabzi mandi selling pyaaz and aalloo…. looting our customers by charging a whole extra rupee in this hard time of ‘recession’.

Just about everyone unrelated to this subject I’ve come across, is almost wary of the tax ka topic……BORING ….that’s what the grey cells tell them….but fact remains….it’s important to know about it….at least if u intend to get rich someday in your own country and don’t want to be swindled by an XYZ…..You see all good things, in India at least, come with a ‘taxes apply’ wala tag.

So what follows forth are the basic elements of our tax system.
But before that I’d like you to know that these are laws pertaining to income earned between 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011 alone! – underline underline!!!

WHAT is Income Tax
You earn an income and you pay tax on it. That’s income tax- Simple as that! And because it’s almost too easy for you, here’s the different categories based on which income is classified-:

Ø Salary- You work for your boss, he gives you a paycheck at the end of the month. That’s income from Salary.

Ø Property- You buy property for yourself or your dad buys it registering it in your name. You then find an attractive person to rent it to.
That rent = Income from Property.

Ø Profession- In case the work you do, gets you money that is termed as ‘fees’, then that makes you a professional and your hard earned money gets taxed under this head

Ø Capital Gains- The profit you make on purchase and sale of shares or real estate finds its way to the noose in this category.

Ø Other Sources- All the money you earn can’t really be kept in the house…..under your bed…can’t trust aajkal ke domestic helpers….so the next best option is to put it all in a Bank in a Savings Account. This account pays you interest for keeping your money with them…and the interest you receive forms ……Income from Other Sources.
(Note- If you are a Muslim, it is not permissible to earn income by way of interest, so you might consider putting your money in a Current Account….where you have Security + No Interest + Overdraft facility).


WHY do you have to pay Income Tax
The money collected from income tax goes on to fund Government activities such as electricity on roads, public security, making newer flyovers etc………… an unfair share also goes into miscellaneous people’s private pockets….but then kya kare……no system is perfect.
The question arising from this is, What if we do not pay Income Tax?

Once on the NDTV show, We the people, hosted by Barkha Dutt…… a discussion about the terrorist attack in Mumbai was being held and the gist of what they said was on these lines-
The Government is ineffective, so let’s not cooperate with it, Let’s all not pay taxes…..zyada se zyada we won’t have electricity in the house…and they can’t possibly put so many people in Jail……………
Unfortunately, that’s an incorrect and misleading statement. The consequence of non-payment of tax is prosecution. In other words, you go on a trial…stand in the adaalat ka kadgharaa and have the judge saab tell you to pay the money in addition to a penalty *over 100% of the tax evaded*, and if you don’t do that…..thennnn ho jaayegi ghar ki neelami (you know what that is right?....picturein to dekhte hi honge)


WHO is supposed to pay Income Tax
Any person who earns an annual income of over Rs.1,60,000/- in case of a guy and Rs.1,90,000/- for a girl, needs to pay Income Tax. (Feminist in me says…Huhh!!!)
The amount you pay as tax depends on the slab rates that are released in the Budget of the previous year. In depth info on that can be referred to from the former Budget post.


WHEN do you have to pay Income Tax
The last date of payment of Income Tax is 31st July 2011. And in case you are really rich……( that is…..annual sales exceeding Rs.60,00,000/- or annual fee receipts exceeding Rs.15,00,000/-), then the last date of tax payment is 30th September 2011. Isse late kiya to one lakh rupees ka fine lagega boss.


WHERE do you pay Income Tax
At the Income tax Office aur kaha! There’s also the option of e-filing but my suggestion is, avoid, avoid, avoid!!!! And I say this because the form that needs to be filled is extremely confusing, super pakaao and also needs to be signed digitally……..which means an additional expenditure….wo bhi for your own signature! Also, it needs to be renewed every 2 years and there’s nothing fancy about it…..looks just like a barcode!!!

That, I think is about the basic stuff you need to know. In the unlikely event of you wanting to get any further information, you could look up the Government website. That’s- http://www.incometaxindia.gov.in/
And still better option, main to hoo hi…..consultation charges starting from Rupees One Thousand Only!


P.S. - Last date for payment of Advance Tax- 15th March 2011.
Buck up!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Budgetwa Aayo Re!

Like I mentioned before, I happen to be an ex-taxwaala or rather a taxwaali, and the Budget seems to have the most acute impact on my area of work….the result being everyone takes for granted ki I know all about it….But do I? Well the skeletons are here to be tumbled out.......

Anyone who fancies himself/ herself as an intellectual has a keen interest on this hot topic. Before it comes, the media runs prime time on roughly kya hoega and after it’s out, the discussion rolls to exactly kya hua…..similar to the election story, is the Budget story…..

Here is your one stop guide to understand…… not what the Budget 2011 presented…… but what you can tell to others it presented so you don’t ever have to sound dumb again….Tadaaa!!!
This I hope you understand is valuable stuff I’m handing over to you so dhyaan se padhna and drink up the knowledge ka saagar!

Question- What do you think about the Budget? (Mosttttt common question)
Smart Answer- I think it’s pretty ‘balanced’

Reason- All Budgets are balanced….they always have been and forever will be….balanced is a neat way of saying not too good and not too bad……it can’t be too bad cos else we won’t vote for the Government in the upcoming elections…….and it can’t be too good because we are a nation of over 1 billion people with at leastttt half a billion critics…..surely they would find something wrong with it somewhere right?…It’s what we Indians are naturally talented at…..See? Ki-lear hai babua?

Question- What are the main changes we have seen this year (Sounds tricky na…but don’t worry…mere hote hue koi tumhara baal bhi baaka nahi kar sakta!)
Smart Answer- The Government has tried to ease taxes for the middle class segment. That’s a very healthy sign for the ‘aam aadmi’

Reason- No rocket science…they do it every year…have done it for the last 10 years and will probably continue to, for the next 10 years as well….same stuff…….rich should pay more…. not so rich should pay lesser and save more….poor should not pay at all….at least in theory…..Its set to stereotype!
Question- What have been the major disappointments this year (Huh! Like you care!)
Smart Answer- No incentive to foreign investors in public holdings and petrol prices remain tragic.

Reason- We never give any kind of incentive to firangi log in the public sector because if they come in, then the crores of losses (upar ki kamaai for the netaji’s) would be slashed leaving public servants literally as their name suggests……obviously not a fine move.
Notice, where concerns petrol prices, we use the word ‘tragic’ without divulging into whether it has been reduced or not. I mean c’mon if you did know hardcore facts, you wouldn’t be reading this guide now, would you? It’s as they say.....Average is the new Exceptional! ;)

Once you’ve mastered the above Question-Answer round, you are almost set to firing the floor with brilliance……but before that, here are a few tips as add-ons

1- The Budget is sacred stuff…when talking about it, do not mock it or make fun of it…..laugh onlyyyy if everyone else is laughing… like in the Parliament….everyone bangs the table onlyyyy when Sonia aunty bangs the table…..(so uncouth….looks like the modern version of Early Man pounding his chest and yelling “Food!”)

2- Put on a very serious expression and a solemn face…..even wear your specs if you have them….nooo don’t buy a pair just for this…arey too much ho jayega yaar!

3- Overacting mat karna please! Don’t look over-enthu cos then everyone might think you know a lot, and direct all their thakela questions at you…..for which you have only limited answers…remember?

4- Look people in the eye when you talk to them and don’t fumble… that way it will look like you know what you are saying, so even if it’s the wrong thing, people would just assume you know something that they missed…..which is quite likely because almostttt everyone sleeps when Pranab dada talks and catch only the highlights after the ordeal is over....for all you know they might even think ki Hayo rabbaa soooo intelligent! ;)

5- DO NOT use this Budget conversation on a date….zyada se zyada one line so it clears you as an intellectual…..anything more and you will go down in history as the boring types! Hhh!

All that said you are now ready to strike the iron…..next budget on……it’s all eyes on you….. So do the Sadiya ji ka naam roshan......Chak de!!!! :)

As part of value addition *just in case you’re a spoilsport or looking for some real substance*, here are the top highlights of Budget 2011
1- Tax exemption limit raised to Rs. 1,80,000/- from Rs. 1,50,000/-
2- Tax exemption limit raised for citizens over 80 years to Rs. 5,00,000/-
3- No change in working women tax slabs so its guys n girls at par :P
4- Senior citizens age revised from 65 years to 60 years for tax purposes. So now it’s aligned with all other services as you may know was the case with senior citizen railway tickets.
5- Grey areas- No changes in petrol prices or tourism sector.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Change, change, change!!!

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton Season 2 edition 18; the eighteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

I’d say WE WANT CHANGE and you’d think I’m running for Indian President but that’s not really on my list of things-to-do, given the potholes our current Prez has dug for us.....which is why I was hoping for change on another front.

Are you full on pakaaofied with the World Cup already? Have you heard more news items for it than even A. Raja going all ‘My neerdosh oo’?
Heard the same analysis doled out N number of times?
Good for you. Make that N+1 times cos it’s what I’m going to talk about too. *Now you know who didn’t need to steal the cookie from the Math teacher’s cookie jar*

You see right now I’m a bundle of self pity. My conscience is pounding at me saying, ‘OMG Sadiya! 15 days down the World Cup and you haven’t written a single post on cricket??? And you call yourself an Indian???? You are like a black dhabbaa on the name of a Bharteeya kanya which even Ujaala Safedi cannot rectify!!’
So for my peace of mind *btw I could actually try yoga too, but then I might end up breaking the floor or something*, I want to dedicate this entry to the changes I’d like to see in the World Cup. Besides, everyone has some vishesh tippani’s to give on this subject, so here's pitching in a few of mine too.

Course I don’t have peacock colored hair to my credit, but I certainly can tell a Four from a Six and who is out when. That much knowledge I suppose is enough especially since I am a girl!

Dear BCCI/ Match sponsors/Rule makers,

Yep you motu guys sitting in suits in that black box like room *Every time I think of that room, the only thing that comes to my mind is lots and lots of Mango Frooti’s. I have NO idea why!*. Ok haa so please listen to a few changes I would like to order from your end-

1- Why in the world do we have teams like Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and Kenya? Now believe me I am not racist when I say this, and I too believe in encouraging upcoming talent and blah blah but then unfortunately not at the expense of my time. And forget me *just for 2 seconds haa* I mean so many poor bacha log who are investing their precious time with board exams looming over their heads....what about them huh? And that too for 40 days!!! Dewddd! It’s a question of our bhavishya!!!

2- Puhleeeezzzz keep the matches in quick succession. It’s like we have to wait for an entire week to watch our Mummy land play, and that too against some dumb *no offence* team like Ireland! Do you have ANY idea how much mental agony that is for the youth? And worse, dwell in the fear of God forbid, losing to THEM! Yikes!

3- Next up, Piyush Chawla!!! I genuinelyyyy feel his bowling is God awful and there is no way in heaven we are going to get past the biggies with this fruitcake on our side. So emm could you like...emm chuck him out and get Pragyan Ojha instead? *eyes fluttering*

4- Now I know you guys are really intelligent and all that, but this whole idea of LBW appeal to the third umpire is like reallyyyy realllyyy emm....ok bakwaas! I mean not only does it question the on field umpire’s credibility, but also is a complete spoiler. It’s like you think a wicket is down and start celebrating by giving hi5’s to everyone all over the house, jumping on the bed, even mock the opponent team supporters in all the excitement andddddddd next thing you know, it’s a false alarm so that leaves a bundle of spent energy and a veryyy awkward-huh!-in-your-face kinda moment! Know what I mean?
In fact this is the signal Gandhiji was giving to us, when he said 'believe in karma'!

5- Puhleeeeezzz monitor the commercials. It’s a family channel you know! Just yesterday I saw a commercial, with a girl who enters her house and undoes her hair.
Ahem ahem.
So what do you think?
Naturally you mentally tune yourself for some steamy commercial.
Then she is in the shower holding a soap.
Automatically your head starts listing out the options of the likely soap brands....Lux, Dyna, Margo, Hamaam etc....or maybe a new brand like say Zarinacobaniacal Soap.
Next thing you know, it’s the commercial of Maruti Suzuki!!!!!!!
Emm ok hello?
Did I miss something here?
It’s the World Cup relay!!! Have some class yaar!!

6- Now a personal request. Could you possibly take Ravi Shastri out of the commentary box? He yells and yells and yells to a point where I think I will go deaf *scared eyes*
And I hate Nasir Husaain too! He not like India= I not like him. :-(

You see this is not just a game for us. It’s our passion and we take it VERYYY seriously! So don’t mess with it.
Also, deep down we feel nobody deserves to win more than we do. Others may be good too no doubt.... yea yea........... APNE GHAR MAIN! :P
Looking forward to a positive response from your end.
Merci
Sincerely,
Sadiya Merchant

P.S. - Does anyone think Rameez Raja looks like Professor Snape from Harry Potter?

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.