Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

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Dileep
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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 13 Sep 2010 10:58

Saturdays are the posting days. I am not in a position to increase the frequency currently.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 17 Sep 2010 17:58

Chapter 13

“Yesterdays sambar is there. You want some?” The question that was full of love and affection was echoing in Sreejith's ears, as the bus roared across the paddy fields. The young rice plants filled the field of vision in the most soothing hue of green, and the coconut groves beyond them offered a view that rivaled any landscape art ever produced. The dark green hills, with the greyish white mist sticking to their tops, formed a pleasant contrast to the light green of the fields. The wind, created by the fast moving bus, blasted his face, carrying the smells from his childhood memories.

He was going to visit his aunt, down at Nemmara.

Sreejith sat back on the upright headrest, sinking into the fond memory of the woman. Bhavani Amma was the kind of woman whom god has created to take care of the rest of the world. The universal mother figure, who fed, soothed, and often corrected the world. The world was the nursery, and the occupants, not necessarily humans alone, were the little children under her ward. Be it the neighbours, be it the cows, be it the stray cats or dogs, or be it the squirrels in the trees or the mongoose in the bush, she was the mother to all. Sreejith and Saumya, the kids of her kid brother Raghuraman, were special among them.

It was Saumya who made the phrase “yesterday's sambar” famous. Bhavani Amma cooked a lot to feed a lot, and never wasted food. In those old days when refrigerator were still a luxury, keeping food, and making sure that it is consumed without spoiling was a strategic task. Meals at her place often contained items made in the previous days. She was not ashamed of it. In fact she was proud that she is not wasting the food. If someone dared to mention it to her, an hour long lecture on the disgrace of wasting food would ensue. She hadn't wasted a morsel all her life, and she isn't going to start now.

In fact, Venugopal, Rajagopal and Nandagopal, her own sons, who are all elder to Saumya, hated it so much that they always complained. Not that it made any difference with Bhavani Amma. She had single handedly raised the three boys after her husband passed away. She was a strong woman, impenetrable to such tactics by the boys. They even made it no secret that they loved visiting uncle Raghu's house, because aunt Nalini never served old food. Bhavani Amma laughed it off, and asked if they want more of yesterday's sambar.

And one day Saumya made everyone laugh their heart out when she observed that the aunt would serve today's sambar only tomorrow. The taunt stuck, and the kids referred to the aunts place as the “yesterday's sambar” place. Not that Raghuraman or Nalini approved it. They had tried everything, including threats with a cane, to prevent the kids from keep saying that. But like any other children, Saumya and Sreejith didn't bother much about the parent's approval. The poor parents finally found solace in the rebut that “you guys still rush there, come vacation time!”. It was true. Despite the taunts, and the overenthusiastic resentment about the old food, the kids always looked forward visiting there.

And secretly, Sreejith LOVED the days old kaalan at the aunt's place. He never let that out, as Saumya would have gone to town with that news.

All those was long years ago. Raghuraman and Nalini are both no more. The little kids have grown up to have their own jobs and families. Except Sreejith, all are married. Venu and Rajan moved out from the village. Bhavani Amma retired from active service, and even before that the need of her services had vanished, as the kids in the neighborhood no longer went hungry, no one kept cows, and the squirrels and mongoose in the bush vanished. The administration of the house changed hands onto Sumitra, wife of Nandagopal. A refrigerator found a prominent place near the kitchen, and serving old food is no longer an issue.

But the joke still remained. Whenever leftovers are served, which was rather rare, Sreejith and Samya would reminisce it, and share a laugh. Sreejith had accompanied his sister and her brand new husband Vijay, soon after their wedding. Saumya asked if Bhavani Amma had the famed “yesterday's sambar” specially for the brand new nephew-in-law.

Everyone laughed, while an utterly confused Vijay looked from face to face, trying to find a clue. Finally, Sreejith had to tell the whole story to him. Thereafter, Vijay took the lead in taunting the old woman. She loved it! “Perfect match for my Saumya!” she said.

And it was this tradition that helped Vijay to get Sreejith some relief from the fix he is in.

Knowing perfectly well that all his phone lines are under monitoring, Vijay didn't find any means to get help to Sreejith. All he knew was Sreejith was stationed somewhere in Trichur district, as that is where the calls originated. Then he remembered about the aunt's place at Nemmara and a way to tell Sreejith about it.

When Sreejith called Vijay again, this time from the town of Thriparyar, Vijay mentioned that he should be starving, missing the “yesterdays sambar” of his sister. He repeated the phrase a couple more times for effect. After the call, Sreejith took the bus to Truchur instead of going back to Guruvayoor.

He was going to Nemmara, where the old house and the old lady waited him. He hoped the spooks did not decode the secret to follow him there.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby ramana » 17 Sep 2010 21:50

Wow! One phrase and you made an episode of it!

I guess its a case of open cryptography!

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby chackojoseph » 18 Sep 2010 09:39

8) Amazing. Dileep is very talented.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 25 Sep 2010 10:04

Chapter 14

Vasu Nair didn't hide his surprise when he saw Sreejith walking down the path littered by the leaves. He had vanished in a morning, two days ago, without saying anything. Old man Vasu knew his business so well, that he never really enquired or tracked his customers. He always collected the rent in advance, and if he felt that the tenant had disappeared, he simply waited till the prepaid rent ran out, and cleared the room out. He very well knew that his tenants are from the lower and darker rungs of the society, and they are best left alone.

But from the moment he moved in, he had felt a soft corner for Sreejith. Through the decades of dealing with different types, he had developed an uncanny skills in understanding people, and this young man seemed to be the not among the dark characters that surrounded him. He had correctly guessed that the young man should be from a good background, who temporarily fell into trouble. However, when he came to the issue of guessing the actual reason for the exile, he was totally out of league.

“Hey, isn't it Sanjeev?” Vasu Nair raised his creaky old frame from the equally creaky wooden chair. That was the alias Sreejith used at this place. “Where were you, son?” He asked, looking at the cheap backpack he was carrying.

“Had some work.” He said, smiling. “Did you give my room to anyone else, etta?”

“No. Would I do that to you?” Vasu smiled wide, with his betel stained partial dentures. He stole a careful review of the backpack. It was a big one, apparently new. He could not guess what is inside. He noticed that Sreejith had new clothes on him, but essentially of the same kind he had earlier. “Maybe he got a good business deal or something.” He told himself.

“Well, Vasu Etta, I will be here for one more week.” Sreejith said cheerfully, while fishing in his pocket to grab some money. Vasu Nair accepted it greedily, and all his lines of thought about Sreejith got instantly severed.

“That is fine, son. I am glad to have someone like you, I mean, one with high birth, here. It is a blessing among this ruffians” He said flatteringly.

“That reminds me. Did our Bengali brothers leave?” He asked, trying not to sound too inquisitive.

“No. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, nothing, etta. To say the truth, I am a bit scared of them, that's all.” He said innocently.

“You don't worry, son! They will do nothing to you, as long as Vasu Ettan is here.” The old man boasted. Sreejith smiled, thinking that one puff of breath from those can blow away this frail old man.

He bid adieu to the old man, as he turned back to hide the precious money in his safe. He was in a jovial mood, and hummed a popular tune to himself. As he passed the door to the room which he slept the first night of his stay, he slowed down. He took a careful look around to make sure that the place is deserted. He then walked close to the door and inspected the lock.

It was one of those traditional locks made by the local blacksmiths. It consists of a lock mechanism embedded in a square dome, and a shackle forged into the handle of the bolt engaged into the locking mechanism through a slit. When the key is turned and the lock is released, the handle could be lifted up and away from the dome, and the bolt could then be disengaged. These kind of locks often had a single lever, and very rarely, two.

After the brief inspection, Sreejith walked down further to his own room. It was at the end of the hall, to which four rooms, all identical to the one he was examining, opened. His room was further down, what is called a single room, which is created out of a nook by using hardboard partition. Its lock was a padlock. Two more of similar 'single' cabins were built on the opposite side of the hall.

He opened the room, and waited a few moments for the stale air to diffuse out into the lesser stale air in the hall. He then entered the room, took a brief stock to see that nothing was disturbed in his absence, and with a sigh, let his backpack fall heavily onto the creaky iron cot, wound with woven plastic strips.

He then came out, locked the door behind him and walked back to the front office, where the old man sat, daydreaming.

“Vasu Etta, Is a double room available? I would like to move into one.” The old man startled, as he was pulled away from his daydream.

“Why? You have any problem with the current one?”

“Oh, I don't get any air there. I got some money now, so I thought I will upgrade” He smiled mischievously.

“Nothing is available now, but I think Room 4 will vacate tomorrow”. The old man said, after consulting his own slow memory. Sreejith smiled.

“I will take it then. Don't give it to anyone else.” He said excitedly.

“You want both beds? Or share it?” The penny pincher asked, wanting to be absolutely sure.

“Etta, let me take a bit of luxury while the money lasts. I will take it full” Sreejith laughed. The man shared it gleefully. He had got assured business for no trouble.

Sreejith would have preferred No 5 or 7, which is on either side of No 6, but you can't expect things to work your own way always.

He went back to his room, this time taking a good look at the door of his future abode. He found that the locks looked the same.

“Won't be difficult to pick the other one.” He thought.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Sanku » 27 Sep 2010 16:29

Oh the thread had moved here, and I had been looking for it all over GDF!!

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby babbupandey » 27 Sep 2010 22:48

Dileep sir,

A question for you. Do you post as you write each part or have your written down the story well in advance and post one-by-one to build up the excitement.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby ramana » 27 Sep 2010 23:09

He already said it will be on a week by week basis. Its not to build excitement but the nature of things.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 02 Oct 2010 11:28

Chapter 15

Sreejith opened the small canvas bag and carefully felt inside. He pulled out a mini hacksaw, a file and a blunt nosed pliers. The bag contained some more hardware and tools, which he left alone. Then he took out the key of his room and carefully observed the marks on the cellophane tape stuck on the bitting flange. He then took a piece of galvanized steel wire and snipped off a piece from it.

He was going to pick the lock.

The college education, especially at the engineering colleges, impart many 'life skills' to the students. Most of it involve with activities those are best described as 'academic performance enhancers', but some also include activities that might be considered illegal in a wider world. Things like picking locks, siphoning toddy or (silently) capturing a chicken comes to that category. Sreejith had honed his skills by helping the clumsy friends who often lost their keys.

Though picking the ancient two lever lock was a piece of cake, doing it without attracting attention was an entirely different thing. All the rooms opened to the hall. The place is normally deserted during the day, when the occupants went about whatever their day occupation was. Some, who worked nights, spent the day sleeping. Old man Vasu went to the temple around nine in the morning, and will be away for a few hours. So, it is generally safe to attempt it in the mornings.

But it is very risky to do a prolonged operation. Someone can, in fact appear un announced. So, the safer way to open the door inconspicuously was to have a working duplicate key. He had considered stealing the master key from old man Vasu's desk, but that was not an easy task. Finally he decided to try making a key himself. He took his own key and applied cellophane tape to the bitting flange. After making sure that no one is around in the hall and in the toilets, he casually walked to Room No 6 and turned his key firmly in the lock. The guard rails made their marks on the tape.

He had planned for this before he left for Nemmara. He had made a list of items to be procured, once his current financial problems got fixed. Maybe a new phone. Maybe he can borrow a laptop with a wireless internet card. He needed access. Badly too.

He was surprised on himself how he trivialized his current plight. Rather than planning to get out of the dirty slum like life, he was planning to come back. Though he had no idea on how to present and convince his relatives, there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to come back to this place. He can not imagine just leaving something brewing. Something really hot, even to his amateur eyes.

Even though they had maintained secrecy, Sreejith didn't believe that his aunt's place would be totally secure. She is one of the closest relatives he had, and his persecutors must have already traced him to the middle north of the state. It wouldn't take too much of intuition from them to resolve to watch the place.

He should be careful. He should get the best cover.

A saffron towel bound around the head tightly, and a dose of red kumkum to his beard, along with liberal smears of yellow sandal paste on the face had transformed his look. He bought another saffron cloth and bundled up the small cloth bag he carried. He walked into a barber shop to take a look at himself. The barber didn't like it a bit, and confronted him with some not too pleasant words. Sreejith coolly told him "Tomake ekdom bandor er moton dekhte*" and left. He was entirely satisfied with his look.

It was afternoon by the time he reached Nemmara. He did change a couple of buses, and arrived in a bus coming from Palakkad. Instead of talking an autorickshaw, he had chosen to walk the one and odd kilometre from the bus stop. No one really took a second look at him, except some young kids on the way. He pushed open the old creaky wooden doors of the gatehouse and entered the yard, filled with a lot of nostalgia.

“Folks of the house! Do you have any yesterday's sambar left?” he asked from the yard, imitating a beggar's call.

It was Sumitra who came to the hall first and looked out through the window. Sreejith had partially removed the towel that covered his head, but even without that Sumitra would have recognized him.

“Ettaa.” She yelled to Nandan who was inside, talking to Venu and his friend who had arrived in the morning. They were updating each other about the recent events and planning the future. Before she could say anything, Nandan came out running, and covered her mouth, placing a reprimanding glance on her. He then pushed her into the room where Bhavani Amma was. He took a heavy breath, calmed himself and opened the door.

“Come to the backside!” He told Sreejith without emotion. Sreejith bowed in acknowledgment, and started walking around to the backside.

At the back door of the kitchen, he hugged his little cousin tight and almost wept. Venu joined him, while Sumitra stood there sobbing. Bhavani Amma came in, shuffling and took a methodical glance on him.

“Change those clothes and take a bath, kiddo! Look how bad the boy looks!” She exclaimed. “What are you guys watching? Sumitra! Make some tea”

Those words from the steel strong will of the frail old lady changed the scene instantly. Nandan grabbed the bundle, and together, they led him to the inner room.

*Bengali: "You look just line a monkey". Credit to Raja Bose. Thanx buddy!

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 09 Oct 2010 09:53

Chapter 16

The old, rusty lock did not yield at first. In fact, he felt the flange hit the solid stop, so, he had to abandon the first attempt. But the freshly filed steel had retained the mark of the old rusty edge, so filing the faked flange true was not a problem. He finished it in another fifteen minutes and was ready for another try.

A strip of brass is the best material to fake a key. It is easy to work with, and tough enough to hold its shape and push the levers. But it worked only with the locks with built in tumblers. The old style locks used the cylindrical shape of the key to fulcrum, and a flange extending from that for bitting. You need a wire to fake that type of a key.

In normal circumstances, he could have picked the lock with two pieces of steel wire, simply bent at right angles. But that will take time spent at the lock, which is out of question in the present case. He decided to fabricate something that could be used straightaway, with minimal fuss.

The contraption he came up with consisted of three pieces of galvanized steel wire. Two of them were bent into an 'L' shape at the business end. The third was left straight. They were stacked together, and wound tight using thin wire, located at a distance that would mark the outer edge of the lock casing. The holding end of all three wires were also bent at right angles and wound tightly, to make sure that all of them turned together, under leverage. The two bent limbs at the business end would serve as bitting, and the third, straight wire would hold against the casing as fulcrum.

After the contraption was assembled, he carefully filed the two bent L limbs, so that they stood true to the flange of the original key. The edges are then filed to adjust to the gap in bitting. He spent some extra time in making the tips square, just so that they wouldn't slip and create a mess. Despite all such efforts, he still had to make a second attempt.

But such is the art of lock picking. Opening a 8 lever tumbler lock with a hair pin happened only in movies, not in real life. He had to feel the flanges turn past the stop and engage the levers. Finally, the key turned with a whine, and the tongue of the bolt freed itself. He carefully opened the door, stepped in, and closed the door behind him.

Picking the lock was easy, but navigating the room, without disturbing anything, was tougher. Sreejith knew that old man Vasu will be away at the temple, and nothing can bring him back before noon. None of the other inhabitants are going to bother with looking at the latch that is open. But making sounds from within a room would be a bad idea. He took out the small LED flashlight from within the folds of his lungi, and carefully began to inspect the room.

He knew the basic bearings of the room, as he had spent a night there. That helped a bit in his quest. The front area where the mats were rolled up didn't offer anything. After looking carefully around them, he moved further back, to the bundles of sundry things.

There stood an old, big, iron trunk. It was locked with a padlock. Sreejith carefully held onto one of the handles and tried to lift it up. It didn't budge, indicating it to be rather heavy. He let the handle back, taking care not to make any sound. This was the trunk he saw the occupants use to prop up the computer.

Behind the trunk, there were some bundles made of gunny bag, some old cans and some parts of electrical appliances. He felt that is is risky to go over them. Some were balanced precariously, so any effort to touch them might make them tumble down making a ruckus.

An old electrical power strip was lying on the floor, with the faded plastic faceplate partly chipped away exposing the live conductors within. It was connected to a lamp adapter on the other end, so that it could be plugged into the lamp holder on the ceiling. That should have been how they powered their laptop, he thought. He carefully lied down on his belly, and stretched his head under the mess behind the trunk. He found nothing of significance there either.

After ten or fifteen minutes of careful inspection, he crawled back, and sat up. He was disappointed. He couldn't find anything of interest there.

He let out a sigh, and sat there for a minute. He then took out a small, old cell phone from his waist pack. He turned it on, and patiently watched it boot up. He then proceeded to type in some key sequences, ending in a # sign. The display went blank instantly.

He went down again on his belly, and crawled back behind the trunk. When he came back, the phone was not there in his hand.

That night he didn't sleep. He spent the time awake, playing with his cell phone. He repeatedly made calls, but never spoke. He just listened, and sometimes hit record.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby sanjeevpunj » 09 Oct 2010 19:38

Amitabh Bacchan is reputed to have done the 41 day tapasya and has been blessed very well indeed....as we all can see.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 15 Oct 2010 10:32

Chapter 17

Julio Fernando sat staring at the screen, trying to figure out what to make of the message. Being a moderator at 'Prahari', the defense related forum, he gets a lot of private messages each day. Most would be rants from users about the bad behaviour of other users. Rarely there would be some suggestions and critiques. But he was surprised to see a message from a newly signed up user, claiming to be an alias to a long standing member who was his friend.

And he said he was in trouble, hence the alias.

Julio had taken notice of the newbie handle 'Sumantra' a few years ago, when he brought in some rare insights into the workings of 'hams', a networking system being built by DRDO for IAF. On the web forum, among the crowd of speculations, chest beatings and pure bullshit, his well thought out arguments stood apart, grounded on solid reason. Julio instantly liked the guy, and went even to the extent of expressing it on the forum. Sumantra continued to form an active part of the 'prahari' forums thereafter.

They had planned to meet in person and spend some time together. It was scheduled to be on the sidelines of the Defexpo show. Sumantra could not make it because of work pressure, but he requested Julio to make a point to visit the LRDE stall to see the first demo piece of 'hams'. They even shared a list of questions to ask and observations to be made. The proceeds of this exploit filled many pages of the forum, to the credit of the duo. Julio didn't forget to send a collection of souvenirs, videos and photos to Sumantra.

Even though they hadn't got a chance to meet in person, they did keep in touch often, making offline discussions and back channel negotiations on the issues being discussed on the forum. Julio had scrupulously avoided poking into the personal life of Sumantra, but the tidbits of information voluntarily disclosed had formed an image of his background in his mind. It never occurred to him, but despite all the interaction, they hadn't even shared their photos. It was not a surprise. The users at 'Prahari' were mostly paranoiac, and uncovering a user's real life id was considered a capital crime.

Now, a new user Odissi is claiming that he is Sumantra, and needs help as he was in trouble. The tone of the message was confident, and the wording proper. There was nothing readily suspicious in the request, other than the odd content. But then, it is Julio's nature, and part of his job, to be suspicious. Had he been interacting with a colleague all these time? That line of yought made a smile to appear on his face.

Why should he sign up into the forum and PM him? He could have just sent an e-mail. He knew at least two of them. Why the roundabout way? He decided to be a bit wary about it. At least he should do some necessary checks.

He fired up the admin control panel, and opened the user configuration screen. The IP Address that used by Odissi belonged to the mobile data service of Airtel. They pooled the IP addresses countrywide, so it was impossible to get more details readily forthcoming.

Of course, Julio had all the resources to get any IP traced to any level. But that took some effort, forms to fill in, explanations to be made, the whole hog. He didn't consider it worth it.

But if the message is indeed real, then this guy Sumantra must be in real deep trouble. He was always discreet, but was not someone overly paranoiac. A very rational guy like him must have a good reason to take this route.

Julio decided to challenge him for authentication. They often played pranks with that on the forum. When someone made an opinion that was radically different from what is normally expected from him, the standard response would be to accuse masquerading. The solution then is to ask a question related to something privately known by the person being challenged. It was a fun game, but right now, the little prank has come to use.

Julio thought deeply to figure a question only the real Sumantra would be able to answer. Something they had discussed in private, and not in the open forum. After some careful consideration, he framed the question.

“What was your 'original' choice of name for 'patang'?

Patang was a UACV developed by NAL. The first one of a series. It was thought to be inspired by the drones used by coalition forces in Afghanistan. When the project was announced, it went by the codename UAGAA. Acronym for Unmanned Aerial Ground Attack Aircraft. It had a slender fuselage, long, slender wings and a bulging sensor and weapon mount in the middle. They were capable of firing the HELINA missiles, which themselves were versions of NAG missiles on ground targets. As usual, there was big discussion about the possible names of the product on the Prahari forums. The name Patang, allegedly suggested by one of the young leaders that the forumers loved to hate, offended one and all of the fans at Prahari. How can an attack aircraft be named after a toy? Pages upon pages were posted on the issue, most pouring venom, but many suggesting alternates.

Sumantra normally stayed away from such discussions, but even he was a bit offended by the nonsense name. But all he said openly on the forum was that it looked like named by a committee, not by the young leader. It was a stale joke, and no one really laughed.

But in the offline communication with Julio, Sumantra did offer a name that he thought is apt in may ways. They shared a hearty laugh on that, but agreed that it could never be posted on the forum. Julio thus got the perfect way to authenticate the guy.

The next evening, Julio was a little tense and anxious to open his inbox. There was the reply. Odissi had replied in just one word.

“Nayantara”

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby niran » 15 Oct 2010 10:59

Dileep wrote:It was not a surprise. The users at 'Prahari' were mostly paranoiac, and uncovering a user's real life id was considered a capital crime.


wow! real ticklish, am loving this Dileep guru is getting better with every post.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby ramana » 15 Oct 2010 20:11

Nayantara! Shows your proximity to Ooty area!

Tara is a common Badaga name for girls.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 16 Oct 2010 05:32

Well, then you missed one layer of the humour. Do a google image search on that name, and you will get it. Remember the BRF name for SU-30MKI

:(( I was expecting some ROFLs on that. Doesn't anyone read this thing?

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Prasad » 16 Oct 2010 06:07

Oh yes!! Didn't want to post OT stuff here, especially about Nayanthara :)

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Raja Bose » 16 Oct 2010 06:16

The college education, especially at the engineering colleges, impart many 'life skills' to the students. Most of it involve with activities those are best described as 'academic performance enhancers', but some also include activities that might be considered illegal in a wider world. Things like picking locks, siphoning toddy or (silently) capturing a chicken comes to that category.


Dileep mullah seems to be reminiscing about his college days or what? :twisted:

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Sanku » 27 Oct 2010 15:46

This is too good for Roftl's and stuff...

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 28 Oct 2010 16:41

Chapter 18

Sreejith did not like it a bit having to go away, even for a brief period. But he had to, because his advance bail petition was supposed to be heard that day. He got to call his lawyer, Ramesh Menon, and it can not be done from Guruvayoor.

He had made it a habit to take the first bus out of the bus stand, and get to a far away town to make his phone calls. This time he did not want to go far, so he got down at the nearby town of Chavakkad. When you are tense, you don't like to go far. He was tense on more than one side.

About the bail application, he was feeling rather confident on getting bail, even though Ramesh Menon had asked him not to put too much hope on it. He was more tense, anticipating a message from Julio Fernando. After responding to his challenge, he had sent him an audio clip for possible transcription. From the forum experience, he knew that Julio is good in urdu. He couldn't find another source for that given his situation. He was planning to drop into an internet cafe and check his e-mail.

But first things first. He had to call Ramesh. He got into a public phone booth and dialed his number.

“Sir, this is Sree.” He said, trying to compose himself, as adrenaline started pumping, and he felt a bit out of breath.

“Oh, Sree! How are you?” came the almost mechanical reply from Ramesh Menon. Sreejith felt a bit taken aback on that.

“You got to tell me, Sir.” He said.

“I have bad news. The court rejected the application.” The voice on the other side said in an emotionless voice. Sreejith's heart sank. The warm and friendly Ramesh Menon seemed to vanish and replaced by the cold lawyer.

“What do we do next, Sir?” He had to ask.

“The court asked us to go back to the NIA court.” Came the reply.

“So?”

“We are filing that day after tomorrow.” Sreejith didn't have anything more to ask, so he took leave of the call.

He had liked Ramesh instantly when they met. They met at his aunt's place. He was a classmate of Venu, his cousin. He used to practice at Palakkad District court, before he moved to High Court. Sreejith was totally unfamiliar to the legal proceedings, to such extent that he didn't even know that he need to sign a document to hire a lawyer. It was after he reached his aunt's place that he knew the purpose of the meeting. Venu had brought Ramesh along, with the intention of getting the 'vakalath' signed. As the lawyer, he also wanted to hear the whole story. In his opinion, it was unlikely that Sreejith was completely innocent. At least someone must have framed him by making him do something illegal. Venu was totally unconvinced about that aspect. Ramesh also spoke to Vijay, and some of Sreejith's friends before he made the trip to Nemmara.


After Sreejith had freshened up and ate some food, the family, along with Ramesh, sat down to chat. Ramesh did not like the idea of the mass meeting, especially the presence of Sumitra. But his subtle hints went unnoticed. Everyone wanted the complete information from Sreejith.

Just that Sreejith did not have much information to give. In fact he was expecting his relatives to fill him in. But they did not have much additional information over what Vijay had already told him. He was really disappointed on that. Moreover, he was annoyed on the rain of questions he had to field from his relatives. His answers did not satisfy them at all, which drove them crazy. Things heated up so much, that Bhavani Amma had to intervene again. She yelled at the men to go easy on the boy and to Sumitra to shut up. Sumitra didn't take it easy either, and she started whining, bringing in the whole history of injustices she faced at that house, as the daughter-in-law.

Finally, Ramesh made a suggestion. He wanted to talk to Sreejith alone. He also reminded the rest, in the form of a joke, that him being Sreejith's lawyer, he is entitled to that. Sreejith was already riled, but felt that he had to give in to that. Venu and Nandan left the room, not too happy. Even after that, they could hear Nandan and Sumitra arguing loudly in the hall.

“Phew!” Ramesh Menon symbolically wiped his brow. “That was some commotion!”. He smiled at Sreejith, putting him at a bit of ease. He smiled back.

“Tell me Sreejith, who is Jasmine Basheer?” Ramesh Menon asked, hardly hiding the mischief in his voice.

Sreejith lost words.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 28 Oct 2010 16:52

Folks, this weekly issue is not working out. I don't get the excitement like I used to, with the daily issues of the previous works. Maybe the good readers were also feeling the same. I realize that I need some kind of gratification to keep going, and the weekly issue is not giving it.

I shouldn't be complaining, but not getting much of feedback is also a demotivating factor. Maybe the storyline is not exciting enough. I don't know. I write what I get :)

Anyway, I have completed Section 1, 32 chapters (subject to more editing). I am planning post them daily till it lasts, and then hold off for a couple of weeks to fill the buffers for Section 2.

In a depressed moment, I even considered abridging the rest of the story into three or four chapters and be done with that. It was done towards the end of the previous stories. (You must have noticed the rushing perhaps) This time, it was too early to do it, so I pulled myself out of the depression and soldiered on.

Enjoy!

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby babbupandey » 28 Oct 2010 17:08

Dada,

Just because you aren't getting enough posts requesting for more doesn't mean that people don't want to read it. I check for an update every Sunday - sometimes I don't see an update and think that you must be busy. The reason I don't post anything is because I don't want to break the flow of the chapters.

I will regularly comment on them from now on, just to keep your morale up. Please keep on posting. Also, daily update is a very good idea because if I understand correctly there are more than 32 chapters to be posted, if you post on a weekly basis it will take you a whole year (or close to that) to complete a full story - that is too much of a wait for such a brilliant piece of literature.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Sanku » 28 Oct 2010 17:19

Dileep wrote:I shouldn't be complaining, but not getting much of feedback is also a demotivating factor. Maybe the storyline is not exciting enough. I don't know. I write what I get :)


Are you mad, we are all reading, intently, but yes, a more regular posting does build up the rush. So do what ever works for you.

We only want the free food -- esp when its like from ITCs Dakshin kitchen.
:mrgreen:

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Jamie Boscardin » 28 Oct 2010 17:32

You have inspired everyone with your fantastic *mind*.
You are a master and in a way you have got everyone so hooked up that people like me, login every Sunday or Sat late night just with a hope that you might have posted something.
I guess, if no one is saying anything it simply means that they do not want to disturb the flow of the master!!

I sat through whole night and completed reading your previous spy stories at a stretch coz my mind simply wont stop when there were more to read from you.

So, pls pls rather than posting one chapter everyday, post it at one-go.. (you have brought back the child's extreme desire back into me with your reading!!!)

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 28 Oct 2010 17:34

Well, even sage Kalidasa says "I do not consider the skill to be prefect until it causes satisfaction of the learned audience. Even the well instructed mind can not have confidence in itself" Shakuntalam prologue.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby ravar » 28 Oct 2010 17:54

Dileep Saar,

Earlier, I didn't want to send a congratulatory comment on this thread since it would have been an understatement! Also, I did not want to break this thread with comments but to retain it as one free flow of posts from your chapters!

Let not Saturn (Mandan, मन्दन= the planet which also slows down the subject of its influence) glance on this thread! And may Guru(Jupiter) and Shukra (Venus) help you in your literary pursuits!

In short, this work stands on its own and does not require any props from readers. But, I am willing to chip in if that is what it takes to read it in full :)

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby merlin » 28 Oct 2010 18:31

Don't stop now, the story is just picking up the pace. Personally I like the setting of your stories a lot and the flavour of the land, so to speak. Keep it coming.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Rahul M » 28 Oct 2010 18:46

Saar jee, I deliberately skip reading a chapter every other week so that I get to read 2 at a time ! :D

I can say without even a hint of buttering up that this is your most promising work so far, please do it justice. it would take as long as it takes, we will be waiting patiently to read it at the rate you are comfortable with.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Fani_A » 28 Oct 2010 21:05

i check for updates everyday. good writing is hard to find! i do not want to interrupt the flow hence i do not comment. please post per your convenience. of course daily update is better than weekly for us avid followers. thanks.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Avarachan » 28 Oct 2010 21:41

Dileep, I would have posted encouragement, but I didn't want to clutter up the thread. Probably, most of your other readers feel the same way. (It should be noted that sometimes, the feedback can get a bit annoying and petulant in demanding more posts.) I would recommend that the mods create a "Fiction Feedback Thread" or something like that. Let the thread have a general title; that way, it can be used for feedback for all of the different scenarios. I imagine that the feedback will be related to whichever scenario is currently being written. Accordingly, writers will get the feedback they want, readers get to express their appreciation (etc.), and the main fiction thread is left clean. This is up to the mods, though.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby chackojoseph » 28 Oct 2010 21:54

Dileep,

Atleast tell us who is Jasmine Basheer. Then you can take a break of say one minute and then get back to writing.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby narmad » 28 Oct 2010 22:01

Dileep
I always look forward to new posts every week.
Even if you post once a month, its welcome. Please do not stop posting.
You have a BIG Fan following here.
So as the Saying goes "Dont Worry, Have Curry" and continue with those awesome stories.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 29 Oct 2010 10:13

Chapter 19

Her perfume was her calling card. It announced her arrival, marked her territory, and lingered on long after she left, reminding the mere mortals of her presence. Jasmine was such an apt name for her.

But the smart boys at Breeze called her plenty other names. BOFH* was the mildest one. Among the millions of the much hated profession of system administrator, Jasmine Basheer represented the feeble minority of the fairer sex. Women with attitude are often referred to as the female of certain domestic animals, but in this case it was rarely done, not entirely because of respect to the said species. The women in the company had an element of hero worship to her, but that rarely showed. They were scared of her too.

Sreejith's encounter with this phenomenal character happened the day he joined Breeze. After the brief rounds of introduction, he was dumped in a cubicle, ready with a hand me down desktop and a CRT monitor. He looked questioningly at the girl from HR who led him there, but she feinted total ignorance and avoided his eyes. It maybe a kind of hazing, he thought. He took his own laptop out of the bag and started looking for a network outlet to plug it in.

Whatever he tried, he could not get on to the network. He looked around for help, but all the cubes in his row were empty. Maybe in a meeting, he thought, and strolled up to the front to see the HR person. The nice girl was kind enough to raise a service ticket for him, but he didn't understand why she let out a giggle as he left. He went back to his cube and sat there, trying to figure something to do.

He was sitting there, waiting for assistance, when the atmosphere seemed to change. The chatter from the cube farm subdued, and a hush fell in the hall. Even the low drone of multitudes of cooling fans went a notch down. The air brought in a peculiar smell. It was pleasant, but hot and strong for the nose. Gentle, but sharp footstep echoed in the foyer, and the owner of both soon revealed herself into full view, majestically turning the corner.

What caught the attention was the hijab, made of white silk, with embroidery done to a level of flamboyance that bordered on distaste. The edge of the cloth was ornamented with golden thread, which went around over the forehead, leaving an inch of hair line visible. A few locks of hair, obviously placed carefully, dangled on one side of the temple, sharply contrasting with the fairness of the skin which is unusual for local women. Jet black eyebrows over the bright eyes were shapely, but reflected an element of arrogance from deep within. Green tinted iris shown, accented by the thick black eyeliner. Liberal attention had been paid to the face, using the best available cosmetics, making it the envy of anyone who adores beauty.

The edges of the hijab came around to meet below the chin, where they are held with a brooch made of black metal. The rest of the hijab was casually thrown backward, revealing the white shirt, and the thin string of pearls that went around the neck, and dropped down into the enticing mask of the fold of the shirt. Thin embroidery, in the exact pattern of the hijab, went down on either side of the placket, making them a matched pair. A pair of black leggings adored the bottom, ending with black pointy heels, elegantly displaying the pedicured toes.

Jasmine Basheer walked in, like a queen, ignoring the countless eyes raising from all around the hall. Apart from the obvious attraction to the beauty, the eagerness to see how the beast devoured the new helpless prey was the main motivation. Sreejith thought she was one of the staff, and told himself that Breeze, after all, might turn out to be an interesting place to work. He had obviously noticed the hijab and leggings combination, and felt that this must be some interesting creation. And his surprise had no end, when she walked straight for his cubicle. The pungent, but sweet and pleasant at the same time, perfume encircled him, and he felt like being pushed into a space warp that shrunk him.

“You are Sreejith?” She asked, extending the hand. “I am Jasmine. Sys Admin.” Sreejith could not react for a few seconds. He just stood there, dumbfounded, and somehow feeling that the person standing in front of him was someone formidable and commanding.

“Oh, hi maa'm. Sreejith Raghuram.” He said mechanically, and shook the extended hand. He was surprised by the firmness of the hold.

“I know. What is the problem?” She asked, after abruptly terminating the handshake as it begun, and making a wave with the hand, as if to sweep his words away. Sreejith stood there, as if he had forgotten the the whole reason of the visit. All he could see was the fair, long, manicured fingers, with pearly nail polish.

“I can't hook up my laptop” He finally said, shaking himself awake from the stupor.

“Of course, you can't. That is not allowed.” She said, with a snicker.

Sreejith felt the snicker echo in the hall.

“Why is that maa'm?” He asked.

“Company policy. Is there anything else I can help you with?” She asked, signaling the end of the conversation, and almost turning around to walk away.

“Company policy? I wasn't aware of that.” Sreejith said, half to himself.

“Well, there would be lots of things you may be unaware of.” She said, with a sarcastic smile.

“I mean, how can someone work without the laptop?” He asked.

“I don't know. You should talk to your boss. Now, if you won't mind, I have work to do.” She elegantly turned on her heels and started walking back.

Sreejith lost words as he gazed after the receding spectacle of arrogant elegance. The electricity in the atmosphere in the hall slowly discharged, and the ambiance came back to normal. The background chatter slowly came back to life. Sreejith let out a sigh, his lungs filling with the lingering perfume signature left by the beast.

“Man, isn't she a bitch!” He heard a whisper. He turned and found a head duck back into the neighbouring cubicle.

Sreejith slowly walked to the edge, and put his chin across the cubicle wall.

“Yup, but a darn pretty bitch!” He said to the neighbour. Ramkumar was another team leader. They had met during the intro in the morning. Then he noticed that Ram had a laptop plugged in.

“Hey, Ram. How come you got a laptop?” A surprised Sreejith asked.

“That is company issued. You can't bring in your own personal machine here.” Ram smiled, taking in the bewilderment on Sreejith's face.

“Hmm, a real bitch indeed! She could have just told me that!” Sreejith said, walking back to his chair. He sat down absent mindedly.

His right hand went to his nose, sniffing the perfume lingering there left by the brief contact of skin.

“A darn pretty bitch!” He told to himself again.

*BOFH: Bast**d Operator From Hell. Google for scary stories.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 29 Oct 2010 10:19

Thanx for the feedback folks. Please do continue to post something. I would appreciate comments on the story points as you (don't)understand it. Because there are a lot of things that is done subtlely, and it is important for a writer to get to know whether those does work or not.

Honestly, I was really disappointed by the (apparent) fizzle of the Nayantara project. If you detect something clever/funny, please let it be known. That give a lot of motivation to the writer.

Don't worry about the flow. I am sure the mods would oblige to delete them later.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Prasad » 29 Oct 2010 10:36

Saar,
I eagerly await the next installment each time I finish reading one. I think I can say for all of us here that we're suckers for gripping thrillers set in our own country after reading many such books/movies set in europe or us. So please keep going sir. We're all waiting :)

PS: didn't post about nayanthara cos i was scared of the admin perambu :) nice play there :)

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Srivastav » 29 Oct 2010 10:37

dileep saar, awesome plot building....waiting for it every week is like waiting for a weekly detective soap on tv.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby ravar » 29 Oct 2010 19:20

Well, now that you want it to be known, among many other aspects in the story, I was particularly impressed by the way you described the lock being picked (bet you would have done a lot of homework to write that), as also with the intricate elucidation of the hijab... man, you take your writing to great perfection! (the case in point being that men being men, they have a natural affinity to tech and big toys; hence, the description about picking the lock as also the novel way of using a mobile phone to eavesdrop, fall in naturally for men. But the piece de resistance was for a male author to unravel the makeup and costume of a vamp (???) in such great detail (as many men would gladly confess their cluelessness in this domain!) Surely, the hallmark of a good writer!

PS- Frankly, I thought everyone would already have 'seen through' the 'Starry Eyed One' (Nayantara) :) Perhaps, it alludes to her popularity only down South! (pun intended)

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby ramana » 29 Oct 2010 20:26

Dileep great imagery.

Emma Duncan in her book "Breaking the Curfew" wrote about life in the 1980s for TSP women. The Zia induced hijab was a drab affair and they would console themselves with finery underneath. Looks Like Jasmine thinks the other wise and uses the decorated Hijab to project her persona despite the barriers!

Next time give the perfume name so it adds more details.

For god sakes don't make it an attar! She seems to deserve better.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Dileep » 30 Oct 2010 10:08

Chapter 20

“She is in IT Department at my company” Sreejith chose his reply very carefully. “What with her?”

Ramesh Menon smiled patronizingly.

“Were you friends, or something?” He asked, after a pause.

“What have that to do with our case?” Sreejith asked, a bit defiantly.

“Nothing. I just asked.” Ramesh said, with a deliberate carelessness.

“No. I have more than a hundred colleagues there at Breeze. Why do you ask specifically about her?” Sreejith asked, with a shaded anxiety in his voice.

Ramesh Menon ignored the question.

“Is she linked to the case as well? Is she arrested?” Sreejith asked. Ramesh was surprised with the directness of the young man.

“No, No.” Ramesh said quickly. “Your brother-in-law told me that she had called him at home a few times, asking about you.”

“So? A lot of my colleagues must have called.” Sreejith said.

“Not really.” Ramesh Menon said. Sreejith noticed a sly smile on the corner of his mouth. “She was the ONLY one.”

“Look, Sir, I don't know what you have in your mind. But I can tell you that she was NOT my girlfriend, or anything, and I have no clue what she got to do with the case.” Sreejith said indignantly.

“Hey, relax, man! I didn't say anything like that. I am your lawyer, and I need to know the entire background of the case. However insignificant it may seem to you.” Ramesh Menon said with all the seriousness.

“Did Vijay Ettan ask you to check with me?” Sreejith asked, with a smile. Ramesh laughed out.

“Of course, they will be concerned, especially since she is a muslim.” He said.

“Talk about priorities!” Exclaimed Sreejith. “Here is someone who is falsely accused, hiding from police at some god-forsaken place, and his family is investigating if he has an affair!”

“You can't say it is totally unrelated, Sree” Ramesh Menon said. “Things are not yet fully clear. The NIA chargesheet is still kept in secret. We don't know what exactly are you accused of. We will have to probe all avenues.”

“Then you should be following my team at Breeze. Jasmine has nothing to do with my work there. She is handling IT.” Sreejith said, still on defensive.

“We are doing that as well. In fact NIA had already questioned many staff from Breeze. As far as I know, they haven't got to Jasmine yet.” Ramesh made a pause, keenly looking into the eyes, much to the indignation of Sreejith.

“What do you mean? You do think she has something to do with all these, don't you?” He asked bluntly.

“Well, you know her father, right?” Ramesh asked.

“Sure. Dr. K. M. Basheer. Scholar and human rights activist.”

“Yes. Activist who fight for the rights of accused terrorists.” Ramesh said in a grave voice.

“I know that. What has that to do anything with all these?”

“I don't know. NIA and other investigation agencies had been on the tail of Dr. Basheer for some time, trying to find any dirt on him. Naturally, his daughter also would be a suspect.”

“She has nothing to do with anything her father does!” Sreejith blurted out in anger.

“How do you know?” Ramesh asked.

“I know! She and her father were always loggerheads about his activism.” Sreejith said excitedly.

“I see. Did she tell you that?” Ramesh asked casually. Sreejith realized his folly.

“Not really. I just guessed.” He said, averting the gaze from the lawyer.

Ramesh Menon smiled. An 'I know it all, kiddo' kind of smile.

It was indeed a lie. Jasmine had confided to Sreejith about the conflict she had with her father. She was an only child to Dr. Basheer, who lost her mother in her early teens. He was a well known professor of political science, but he had the knack of ending up at controversies with his political positions. He followed his own interpretations about religion and politics, which never won him any friends. Jasmine was brought up with the same independent mind and fighting spirit the old man was famous for. That has, lately, led to serious disagreement in between them.

Dr. Basheer always opposed religious fanaticism. When there was a movement enforcing dress codes, he valiantly defied it by letting his daughter wear modern attire. That did not go well with the conservatives in his community. When the issue of sharia courts came up, he stood for a secular legal system. He had a firm stance on every issue related to his religion and his politics.

And it was those stances created the rift.

As the incidents of domestic extremism and terrorism increased in the country, there was a political turmoil. The governments ruthlessly went ahead fighting these ulterior elements with force, but as usual, there were some human rights violations. The media made it worse by projecting the minor incidents, and blowing things way out of proportions. Extremist mouthpieces started sensationalizing things, while the mainstream voices of the community kept an uncomfortable silence.

The scales tipped when Sulaiman, a student protege of Dr. Basheer was arrested. Dr. Basheer was convinced of his innocence, but he could not do much to get him out of the legal hassles. This event turned his views, and he started advocating for human rights of the suspects. He wrote articles, and made speeches, alleging that the government is unfairly targeting muslim boys. He had a habit of going to the extremes of his viewpoints, and in this case he went overboard, in the views of many.

That was much to the chagrin of the political community, not much less to his own daughter. Jasmine never had any regards to Sulaiman. She always maintained that Sulaiman was an unscrupulous man, undeserving the trust his father kept on him. Her father used to vehemently disagree, even going to the extent of commenting that Jasmine is being jealous. She could never come to terms to the sharp turn her farther took because of Sulaiman. In protest, she started wearing the hijab, and following the other rituals the conservatives demanded of the women.

“I thought of wearing the burqua first, but then I realized that wearing the hijab over the jeans and top makes a stronger statement.” She laughed like a thousand glass bells ringing. Many pairs of eager eyes and ears focused in their direction, wondering how Sreejith had got into the lure of this fierce animal. The cafeteria was almost empty, as lunch hour was already over. Sreejith and Jasmine had got delayed at work, and was having a late lunch together.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby chackojoseph » 30 Oct 2010 12:58

Then what happened Dileeep eata.

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Re: Spy Story 4 - Glance of Saturn

Postby Mihir.D » 30 Oct 2010 13:19

chackojoseph wrote:Then what happened Dileeep eata.


chackoji,

Well, they had lunch and went back to work :D


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