The Blind Date – Jeffrey Archer

15 12 2011

Another story i loved for you..

The Scent of jasmine was the first clue : a woman

I was sitting alone at my usual table when she came and sat down at the next table. I knew she was alone, because the chair on the other side of her table hadn’t scraped across the floor, and no one had spoken to her after she’d sat down.

I sipped my coffee. On a good day, I can pick up the cup, take a sip and return it to the saucer, and if you were sitting at the next table, you’d never know I was blind. The challenge is to see how long I can carry out the deception before the person sitting next to me realizes the truth. And believe me, the moment they do, they give themselves away. Some begin to whisper , and, I suspect, nod or point; some become attentive; while a few are so embarrassed they don’t speak again. yes, I can even sense that.

I hoped someone would be joining her, so I could hear her speak. I can tell a great deal from a voice. When you can’t see someone, the accent and the tone are enhanced, and these can give so much away. Pause for a moment, imagine listening to someone on the other end of a phone line, and you’ll get the idea.

Charlie was heading towards us. ‘Are you ready to order, madam?’ asked the waiter, his slang leaving no doubt that he was a local. Charlie is tall, strong and gentle. How do I know? Because when he guides me back to the pavement after my morning coffee, his voice comes from several inches above me, and I’m five foot ten. And if I should accidentally bump against him, there’s no surplus weight, just firm muscle. But then, on Saturday afternoons he plays street cricket for his locality. He’s been in the first team for the past seven years, so he must be in his late twenties, possibly early thirties. Charlie has recently split up with his girlfriend and he still misses her. Some things you pick up from asking questions, others are volunteered.

The next challenge is to see how much I can work out about the person sitting at the next table before they realize I cannot see them. Once they’ve gone on their way, Charlie tells me how much I got right. I usually manage about seven out of ten.

‘I’d like a lemon tea,’ she replied, softly.

‘Certainly, madam,’ said Charlie. ‘And will there be anything else?’

‘No, thank you.’

Thirty to thirty-five would be my guess. Polite, and not from these parts. Now I’m desperate to know more, but I’ll need to hear her speak again if I’m to pick up any further clues.

I turned to face her as if I could see her clearly. ‘Can you tell me the time?’ I asked, just as the clock on the church tower opposite began to chime.

She laughed, but didn’t reply until the chimes had stopped.’If that clock is to be believed,’ she said, ‘it’s exactly ten o’ clock.’ The same gentle laugh followed. ‘It’s usually a couple of minutes fast,’ I said, staring blankly up at the clock face. ‘Although the church’s perpendicular architecture is considered as fine an example of its kind as any in the West country, it’s not the building itself that people flock to see,but the Madonna and Child by Barbara Hepworth,’ I added, casually leaning back in my chair.

‘How interesting,’ she volunteered, as Jo returned and placed a teapot and a small jug of milk on her table, followed by a cup and saucer. ‘I was thinking of attending the morning service,’ she said as she poured herself a cup of tea.

‘Then you’re in for a treat. Old Sam, our vicar, gives an excellent sermon, especially if you’ve never heard it before.’

She laughed again before saying, ‘I read somewhere that the Madonna and Child is not all like Barbara’s usual work.’

‘That’s correct,’ I replied. ‘Barbara would take a break from her studio most mornings and join me for a coffee,’ I said proudly, ‘and the great lady once told me that she created the piece in memory of her eldest son, who was killed in a plane crash at the age of twenty-four while serving in the RAF.’

‘How sad,’ said the woman, but added no further comment. ‘Some critics say,’ I continued, ‘that it’s her finest work, and that you can see Barbara’s devotion for her son in the tears in the Virgin’s eyes.’

The woman picked up her cup and sipped her tea before she spoke again. ‘How wonderful to have actually known her,’ she said. ‘I once attended a talk on the St.Ives School at the Tate, and the lecturer made no mention of Madonna and Child’.

‘Well, you’ll find it tucked away in the art. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.’ As she took another sip of tea, I wondered how many out of ten I’d got so far. Clearly interested in art, probably lives in London, and certainly hasn’t come to St Ives to sit on the beach and sunbathe

‘So, are you a visitor to these parts?’ I ventured, searching for further clues. ‘Yes. But my aunt is from St.Mawes, and she’s hoping to join me for the morning service.’

I felt a right chump. She must have already seen the Madonna and Child, and probably knew more about Barbara Hepworth than I did,but was too polite to embarrass me. Did she also realize I was blind? If so, those same good manners didn’t even hint at it.

I heard her drain her cup. I can even tell that. When Charlie returned, she asked him for the bill. He tore off a slip from his pad and handed it to her. She passed him a banknote, and he gave her back some coins.

‘Thank you, madam’ said Charlie effusively. It must have been a generous tip. ‘Goodbye’, she said, her voice directed towards me. ‘It was nice to talk to you.’

I rose from my place, gave her a slight bow and said, ‘ I do hope you enjoy the service.’

‘Thank you,’ she replied. As she walked away I heard her say to Charlie. ‘What a charming man.’ But then,she had no way of knowing how acute my hearing is. And then she was gone.

I sat waiting impatiently for Charlie to return. I had so many questions for him. How many of my guesses would turn out to be correct this time? From the buzz of cheerful chatter in the cafe, I guessed there were a lot of customers in that morning, so it was some time lot of customers in that morning, so it was some time before Charlie was once again standing by my side.

‘Will there be anything else, Mr. Trevathan?’ he teased. ‘There most certainly will be, Charlie,’ I replied. ‘For a start, i want to know all about the woman who was sitting next to me. Was she tall or short? Fair or dark? was she slim? Good-looking? Was she___ ‘ Charlie bursts out laughing

‘What’s so funny?’ I demanded

‘She asked me exactly the same questions about you’

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Luxury

18 07 2011

I read this story in a mail forward and it totaly moved me…! I dint find the original copy so i’m penning it on my own since I remember every bit of that short story..

Scene 1: its 9 Pm and Ramu is at his residence cutting beans for the next day’s cooking helping his wife while he’s watching TV and listening to his wife (Viji) who was telling him what happened during the day.. his 2 year old daughter (Meena) had just slept after playing with daddy and his 8 year old son (Guna) was doing his home work.

Ramu works at an MNC not as someone who does coding.. but as the person who cleans the tables. yes he’s part of the house keeping section of the MNC. Viji is a home maker and she does odd jobs in two to three houses there by adding money for rotation in apart from the meager 4500 rupees that Ramu earns.

Despite the fact that Ramu and Viji literally fight 30 days a month for 1 square meal, they make sure their kids get what they need even if they dont get what they want.

Scene 2: Guna is done with his homework and comes running to his dad and hugs him and asks him what happened in office today. Guna after a while says,

G: “Appa, i want a cake”

R: “seri vangi tharen” (ok i’ll buy for you)

G: “Appa, not one piece.. yenakku oru round cake venum pa”

R: expressionless (a full cake… its something he cant even dream of affording)

G: appa i had been to sekar’s house appa.. avan oda birthday-a so enna kooptu irundhan pa.. avan oru round pink cake vechi cut pannan pa.. yenakkum adutha masam happy birthday varudhu le? please appa… yenakkum venum pa…

R: Baffled.. but since he dint want to disappoint his son then and there.. he said “pakalam da kanna.. ippo poi thungiko.. odu”

G: happily went to bed

Ramu talks with Viji until the day’s work is over in the kitchen and they both retire for the day

Scene 3: Next day in office:

its lunch break and its almost drawing to a close around 2 45.. the tables are almost empty and and hence, ramu sits in a corner and ponders over the cake guna had asked for..

Suddenly there are loud noises in the cafe.. one group is celebrating someone’s birthday.. the noise continues to the “happy birthday song” people chase one another.. they all eat some cake and then leave..

dutifully Ramu goes to the spot to clean the mess the group had created by throwing on each other and playing with THAT CAKE which RAMU could not even DREAM OF AFFORDING for HIS SON GUNA.





10 people whom you don’t want to eat with

11 07 2011

1. those who fill their stomachs by seeing how much we eat. (stop staring.. stomach ache coming )

2. those who take a platter full.. and waste as much (why waste..? there are others who are willing to eat)

3. people who complain with every spoonful that they knew that the food will be so bad (why take it when you knew the food is bad?)

4. them who keep bragging about how good the food was in their previous company (why did you come here then?)

5. people who keep saying i’m full and keep eating (from your plate as well) (hello.. i know how to eat.. you don’t have to demonstrate)

6. a group that ignores your presence and talks stuff that is not related to you and / or talks in a language that you dont understand (Excuse me..? i exist)

7. a person who sits next to you with a disconnected output line (keeps mum and stares at everything around) (why did i sit with this XXXXX…? smacking my head)

8. them who always think food in your plate is better than theirs (we got it from the same caterer damn it..!)

9. those who keep telling.. wow how are you able to eat so much (how will we be able to continue?)

10. and finally those who tell us how bad the food is (what we are eating) and exclaim by saying.. By God…! how are you able to consume that amount of horse **** (for the last time.. i’m hungry and i want to eat)





Healthy Corporate

14 01 2010

The scenario:

Alarm goes “wee wee wee wee” one eye opens, finds the mobile hits the snooze button
– 15 mins –
Alarm goes “wee wee wee wee” one eye opens, Oh Monday mornings! and its 6:15 already??
reluctantly we get up, swear at the tooth brush while brushing, write on water “i will work out tomorrow morning” shower, nibble food, rush to catch the commuter. and after a great deal of road, office is reached.
Its darjeeling once we step into the main doors. Thanks to them, at least the WC’s don’t have a split AC. we don’t feel thirsty in the pleasant temperature because all we do is SIT, sit,Sit and sIt. The cafeteria, mmm such an inviting place in any corporate organisation so many items to munch at affordable prices and all that they do is drain everyone’s salary by FILLING their stomachs. The kinda food and junk available there, pulls us nose first and we crave to into eating our own way to capsules and bankruptcy. But its such a happening place throughout the day. andso all that we do is, sit eat EAT siT Eat SiT sIt eAt, bloat like a balloon and then say, travel too tedious, work pressure etc which are only 10% of the cause.
Even though organisations provide a gym, its a forgotten place for 90% people because of “work” which accounts to seeking advice from the God Father “Guru-Google” We end up huddled for hours in the rotating chair bent in front of the PC and at the end of the day, end up with a backache and neck pain.
/* the above text conforms to ANSI standards*/
some suggestions:
* wake once the alarm rings without snoozing it whereby u need not bathe in 2 mins.. u can take 5 mins (3 extra)
* after nibbling food, take some fruit say a banana or apple or atleast a glass of milk or buttermilk or worst case water.
* walk at least 10steps every 1 hour! DO NOT STAY GLUED TO YOUR CHAIR! No one is gonna steal it.
* picking up waste paper from the floor is not a sin, your back gets relaxed. breathe long and deep to feel at ease always.
* even if you have to visit the rest room now and then, DRINK WATER. at least for the fresh and free feeling.
* most cafeterias provide stalls of all kinds. eat well thats no issue at least in this blog, but eat so that your able to get up and walk around comfortably.
* add fruit juices to your meal when ever possible.
* staircases do exist in buildings. no harm climbing 2 floors even if not 12.
feel free to add more in the comments section.
Take care all!







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