Diary of Dan

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Did you ever bid goodbye to your friends, a certain lifestyle, a certain place, a certain set-up? Of course you did, at some point in your life. So you can appreciate, what I feel today.

People, I want to say goodbye, of course, to all my regular readers, also to those friends of mine who might never read this... you know who you are, and don't think I've forgotten you. I shall come back to you, whenever you need me, you know that. We've had good times together.

And dear Diary of Dan, I shall try to update you as often as I can, and fill you with stories.... but who knows, kal ho na ho?!!

Kal bhi ho,
isliye now I must po,
po and so!

Aufwiedersehn! Tschüss!

Friday, September 09, 2005


Here's another story - dedicated to Mr. Andrew Tanenbaum, and my dear friend Kathak.

We always had coffee together, at least for the past six years. Every Wednesday and Sunday night. He was this really intelligent and busy defence scientist - Mr. Alok Aloha. He worked really hard.... invented a lot of useful stuff, they say! He never talked to me about his work. "Classified!" he said, "can't share.........", just like a lot of other things that he didn't share with
me........, or, me - with him.......

Anyways....... So I was telling you about our coffee meetings! I guess it was these meetings of ours when he did his next 3 days' thinking and planning. He used to be silent most of the time, and you could make out from the look in his eyes, that he would be thinking big time. And I would do the talking, telling him what I did for the past 3 days, whom I met, general stuff about my clients, how many dresses I sold.... so on and so forth. Once in a while I would also tell him about my boyfriends, if I had anything interesting to tell. But he hardly listened, u know..... he wasn't interested in my love life. Maybe he'd guessed, I didn't have any... But whether he listened or not, I made him feel I told him everything. He would merely grunt. The one thing he
never failed to say was that the coffee was nice. Well, that was something all my friends said....

I don't even remember how I first met him. Most probably it was at one of my many garments exhibitions (by the way, I'm a fashion designer) - my ex-boyfriend had brought him along, and introduced him to me, as the country's leading defence scientist... that, I already knew! (Don't be surprised, in my profession, one meets scientists at all kinds of places.) After that, ever since I was given this... er.. whatever... we always met at my place twice a week, he said he liked my coffee, and of course it was very convenient for me to....... well....

So, last Wednesday when he came, 5 minutes late as usual, (I never figured out how he managed to be exact 5 minutes late,) I was looking forward to enjoying his company, I'd begun considering him my friend inspite of myself. He sat down on the jhoola in the balcony, saying nothing. Was something wrong? I wondered... If nothing else, he at least said hi on opening
the front door. Must be tired, I thought.

"So how was the conference? They liked your paper?" was my opening question. He paid no heed and kept staring at me. Ok..... he won't speak about it..... I went into the kitchen to prepare coffee.

"Alok! I met Malini today! She bought 10 stoles! And guess for whom!?? For Vivek's son! Now isn't that odd!!!! And she asked about you, she wanted you to go through her daughter's project report or something - she wanted you to meet her daughter... she said she had some new idea about the fractals - her deaf daughter, you remember her, don't you? But it surprised me, how does Malini know so much about her daughter's project? I mean Malini!! Of all people! Maybe she receives her calls for her or something -"

I have had moments of utter surprise and shock in my career... but this one I shall ever remember - I heard a sob. And then it turned into crying, I couldn't believe it - Alok was crying! This confident man who never betrayed any trace of emotion was actually crying..... I went to his side at once.

"Alok, what's the matter! What happened?"

"Sani......... Sani......... I'm in an awful mess! They've trapped me well - they want me to give them the details of..... I'm ruined!!!!!!! I'm ruined like hell! I simply can't agree to their demands..... How can I? And if I don't, they've threatened to kill me! Oh God, what am I to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

By now I was fully alert. "Alok please tell me what has happened. You aren't making any sense! What demands are you talking about? And who are they????? Tell me everything from the beginning! And stop crying for God's sake!"

Finally after letting him cry and all, I managed to get the whole story out of him, without much efforts on my part. He seemed worried like hell and was only too glad to tell me all. There were these men who had threatened to kill him if he didn't share with them the details of his current project. Now I could easily guess who these men were, why they wanted his designs, but I made him give me all the details. Making him speak, was what I was trained for.

"Sani, I just don't know what to do! This project's almost done! But I want to complete the other one too, the reactor antenna one.......... And you know, I have spoken to Mr. Das about the Vayu missile's microstrips, I'm damn sure between the two of us, we can really solve the Mimmigan problem."

"So you've talked to Mr. Das?"

"Yes....... But how do you know him?"

"That's not important right now....... So what have you decided to do?"

Alok didn't answer, he kept staring at me....... Finally he spoke, "I'm sure they won't ever kill me, they'll want me alive. I wonder whom I should approach for protection!"

Now I knew, I had to make the decision. If I wanted to do something, I had to do it now. But I needed to think.

"Alok, where's your hanky? You cry like a baby, and don't you carry your hanky?"

"It's in my briefcase"

I opened his briefcase and spotted the hanky. It lay on a couple of CDs. I just thought I might as well see what's written on them. Alok had written in clear handwriting with the marker - "to be handed over to Mr. Das". I made up my mind immediately. Alok had come prepared. He knew me! I extracted the CDs and locked them in my cupboard. Alright Mr. Aloha, here I come........

"Alok, here, take this hanky and let's think of something after having coffee."


I went back into the kitchen. I had put the coffee and sugar. Now I stirred it and poured it into our two mugs. Then I opened the refrigerator and took out the small blue bottle Shrivastava had given me. I checked its name, I never had had to use it before. My hand trembled as I put two drops into Alok's coffee, I really liked Alok. He was talking of protection! Alok, ask me what
protection means....... I wanted to say to him. I had to do it, and I did it! Alok wouldn't enjoy being alive. And the loss would be made up, I was sure.

God, let him not realise this, I muttered to myself, and handed him the mug. "Alok, drink this and you'll feel better!"

The next day I had a look at Mr. Aloha's office and his lap top. I found this text file:

"Thy hv crnrd me wll. Nw hw wll I kp ths dsgn frm thm! I jst dn't knw wht 2 do........ I thnk th tme hs cme 2 spk 2 Snka. Sh'll knw wht 2 do. Only sh'll hv th soln & if she dsn't, sh'll ask hr bss & hlp me. Of crse I knw sh's an intell offcr. I'll dscss ths wth hr ovr cffee 2dy. Sh'll fx th @#$*s well! I hd bttr tke my CDs wth me."

I shift-deleted the file. So Alok hadn't expected that of me, what I really did. But he was prepared to accept my solution. I thanked Sa'ab for teaching me this coffee solution long back.

"Lord, let Alok's soul rest in peace!"

Nowadays the man at the supermarket counter wonders why I don't buy coffee any more. I'm getting used to drinking tea....... Mr. Das loves tea........................