Really, really, really short stories

How short can stories get?
How about stories in three sentences?
The interesting aspect of a three sentence story is that you can complete the story, fire up the imagination and yet leave it open for interpretation.

Here is a sampler:

Till Death Do Us Apart
He loved her
She did too
Read the tombstones

Time Flies!
The beds were always unkempt
The floors were never clean
“Why do they grow up so fast? I wondered as I looked at the perfectly made beds!

Should I snooze in the library?
Or, should I snooze watching television?
It’s not easy being a dog after all

Highway Star

The speedometer passed the magical 150mph
The wind in his hair was exhilarating
That’s the last he ever remembered

What a Wonderful World!
The cheese on the pasta looked delicious
The ring in her hand shone resplendent
Suddenly even the water tasted wonderful
The Barber’s Muse
My hair was naturally curly and I made it straight
It was jet black in colour before I dyed it golden
Here I was looking at a thrilled customer whose beautiful straight golden hair I had just made black and curly
For Whom Shall I Shine?
Everyone seems to be in a hurry nowadays
People are so caught up in the daily rhythm of living
“Don’t think anyone saw me again today, but I did put up quite a show”, reflected the rainbow
#Living Social
I snap chatted away
Took lots of pictures for Instagram
I was hanging out with my friends today, but was I?
I have lots of Facebook followers
My Instagram is always hyper active
But why do I still feel so lonely?
Message in a Bottle
Whisky matures with age
With age comes wisdom
Here I am, nursing a hangover, looking for wisdom

This story format is inspired from Haiku, the ancient Japanese format of poetry expressed in three sentences.

We learn from history, that we learn nothing from history!

“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history”, remarked George Bernard Shaw. 

I was struck by this thought as I was glancing through the papers full of ISIS, Trump, Oil Crash, Syria, Brexit and more. I was wondering if there’s something that we can learn from our past that can help us navigate through the bewildering times that we live in today. Is our world really any different from what it was in the past? With technology, automation and science, our circumstances may have changed but have human behaviour, values and beliefs changed fundamentally? In this context, are there strategies that have worked in the past that could be equally relevant today?
Here are three strategies from history that have particularly caught my attention:
Doctrine of Lapse
The East India Company under Lord Dalhousie expanded its grip on India with the successful implementation of the controversial ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. It was based on the principle that if a ruler of a dependant state died without a natural heir, the right to rule that state passed on to the British sovereign. Some of the biggest states in India over a period of two decades got annexed to the British empire as a consequence of this strategy.
The brilliance of this strategy was in taking advantage of poorly managed succession planning, which was a norm in those times (and still is!). At the point of vulnerability when a state lost its ruler, it could be deftly annexed without shedding a drop of blood, on the back of determined diplomacy and legislation.
Till today, succession planning is a core structural weakness in the global economy. As more and more wealth gets concentrated amongst individuals and families, passing on wealth successfully from one generation to the next is a matter of luck for most and equally an opportunity for the vultures to nest !
The Germans mastered the concept of the ‘lightening war’ through a deft combination of surprise and speed. Blitzkreig was based on the concept of using mechanised units supported by ground and air forces that would swiftly penetrate the enemy fronts by focused action and cause a complete disarray amongst the enemy lines. A key to this strategy was to create fault lines that would break communication amongst the enemy forces and accelerate the panic by damaging the civil population. This was Hitler’s winning strategy in World War II. The essence of this lightening strike strategy was speed, and still more speed executed with precision.
Today we see YouTube videos capturing public imagination of many millions almost overnight. We see election campaigns that use social media to capture voters’ attention with unprecedented speed and agility. We see hollywood movies employing a blitkreig marketing strategy that leads to a USD 100M+ opening despite a weak story (e.g. Batman v/s Superman). We see cyber attacks and viruses causing a contagion with frightening speed and dexterity resulting in billions of dollars in losses. Yet we see all around us complacent businesses caught in a time warp, leaving their gates wide open for disruption.
Trojan Horse
The Greeks, frustrated by a decade of efforts to conquer Troy, built this magnificent wooden horse that they left at the entrance of the city as they supposedly ‘withdrew’ their forces. The overjoyed residents opened their city gates to welcome this ‘gift’. In the middle of the night as the city celebrated, the soldiers hidden in the horse got out and opened the the city gates leading to the downfall of a proud city state.
Till today, deception is a winning strategy that capitalises on the fundamental human trait of complacency and letting ones guard down on the basis of a thinly veiled veneer of safety and comfort. Uber, Whatsapp, iPhones etc are modern day Trojans that won market shares as their complacent competitors basked warmly in their soon to be extinct success.
I am sure there are many more ideas in our history books that can inspire us to find our way in these times. As an example, the next big thing in technology, ironically, is biometrics (also known as fingerprinting); something which has been in use since the time of the Neanderthals! So discover your Trojan Horse, back it with a blitzkrieg of effort and plan your succession to leave a legacy. Amen!

Sometimes being stuck in a jam can be a moment of bliss!

It was a busy Dubai evening. The traffic was unusually heavy and I found myself stuck at a red light. The lines were long. In frustration I looked ahead and it dawned on me that I needed to brace myself for a long wait. The traffic in the city is getting worse by the day and it’s such a drain on our quality of life. My mind was meandering through the health consequences of traffic as I started exploring the songs on my playlist to get over the drudgery of the wait. Suddenly I got the feeling that I was being watched.
As I looked askance I saw a doe eyed little girl with fuzzy hair glancing through her window looking at me. She would have not been more than four years old. She was wearing a denim top and sat in the back seat of her moms car hugging a teddy. As our eyes met, I smiled.
And then she smiled back, a beautiful smile. The best that I have seen in a while. A smile that filled me  with immense joy. I found myself waving at her enthusiastically as she waved back. She blew a flying kiss and I was in heaven.
Then the lights turned green. Much to my dismay. The traffic started to move. Alas! I wish the jam had lasted longer!

An open letter from a citizen who cares

All over the world public anger finds expression in arson, rioting for causes that range from the profound to the profane: ” I can’t get a job but I can burn a bus. Or, I am pissed with my boss so let me scratch the seat of the taxi. Even better, I am bored, let me scribble as I dribble in the loo!!”

I have some simple DIY suggestions for those who choose to take this path.


Dear Rebels,
Hope this letter finds you well. Hope you enjoyed your latest act of destruction. Hope you felt better as the environment around you burnt. Hope you and your friends still revel in the thrill of just getting away as the cops arrived. Hope the memories you left on the walls of the public loo remind you of those glory days. Must have been fun. Yay!
If you don’t mind, I have a few suggestions for you and your friends.
1. If you really want to beat someone up who has nothing to do with the problem that is bothering you, then why not look into the mirror. A few well placed slaps will do the job and your frustrations will truly hurt, which is what you wanted in the first place.That black eye on you has the power to change perspectives!
2. I can understand that sometimes you get so pissed that you want to burn things up. Why don’t you start looking at your own stuff and setting them to light? The car that you really saved up to buy will really hurt as it burns. But what the hell!  Atleast  the world will know about the cause that’s upsetting you.
3. When that moment comes to scribble and scratch, make your home the canvass of your expressions. Go for it Michelangelo! The world is yours to conquer and scream👍
You need to set new standards in the public display of aggression. I need to close this letter since I am not sure if you would be able to remember any other points that I may try to make.
So keep calm. When you get pissed off about any random cause, now you know what to do.
A concerned citizen who respects public property
Please share this letter and make it reach out to the ones who express their limitations by hurting others and causing pain to the innocents.


So, what’s your potential?

A lot has been written about the unlimited potential of ONE. However many remain unconvinced. The ones who do, change the world.

Here’s a lesson that I learnt recently from a tomato. Let me say this again, a recipe that I learnt from a beautiful tomato I recently met on my dining table.

I cut the tomato up into slices.
I planted the slices in my garden.
A week later I had a several hundred tomato plants springing up to unleash their infinite potential.

Every tomato has the power to create a whole new world of opportunities.

So do all of us..

What’s your potential? Think!