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HE - Episode 2

Discussion in 'HE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    HE

    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy

    Episode 2

    Timeline B


    The security guard standing near the massive wrought iron gates of Hotel Le Meridian took out a cigarette from his pocket. He looked around before lighting it. It was 7 AM in the morning. The traffic had not picked up in the busy GST Road. It would take another two hours before the entire road got clogged with vehicles coming from all directions, with their drivers driving on all possible sides giving a big six to the very concept of discipline itself, let alone lane discipline.

    As he was enjoying the ingression of nicotine into his lungs, his eyes saw something at a distance. Adrenalin secretion began in full steam. He put the cigarette down and crushed it. He snapped to attention and was ready to receive the dark grey Honda Civic which was coming towards the hotel.

    As the car entered the gates he gave a stiff salute to the woman who was driving the car. She smiled at him and drove to her most privileged parking lot near the lobby entrance.

    The tall man dressed in full regalia designed for the lobby-guard at a five star hotel came running to open the door of the car.

    “Good Morning, Ma’am”

    “Good Morning.”

    She was in her late thirties and was dressed in a business suit. She could never be classified under the heading “beautiful”. But the way she bore herself, the way she dressed herself and the unmistakable intelligence in her eyes made her worthy of second looks, not of love or lust, but of admiration.

    She was wearing fashionable rimless spectacles which served to accentuate the intelligence in her looks. She was Nalini Ganesh, the General Manager of Le Meridian, Chennai Facility.

    She always preferred the hands-on management style which incidentally was the only style that worked in a star hotel.

    She walked to the reception desk which appeared a little crowded for the time. There were guests of all nationalities waiting to check-in. She established eye contact with the reception clerk who assured her by signs that everything was under control. That was what she wanted.

    She then moved on to her most favourite part of the facility, the hotel’s large multi-cuisine restaurant. Even at that early morning hour it was almost full. It looked more like the food court of an international airport than a restaurant. As the hotel had mostly foreign guests trying to adjust to time-zone differences, the restaurant operated round the clock. And was crowded most of the time.

    “Hi Naaalini…”

    She turned around to respond to the call. The person was a part of a group of tourists from the US. That was a unique group consisting mostly of people in the field of creative arts – dancers, singers, writers and some painters too. They had planned a kind of “thematic” tour of India.

    Their theme was India’s ancient fine arts. The previous day they had listened to a two-hour nadhaswaram concert.. Today was the highlight of their stay in Chennai. A classical dance performance by a celebrated artist preceded by a demonstration and symposium on dance.

    “Hi Matt. Anything I can do for you?”

    “Thanks, Naalini. When is SB coming here?”

    SB referred to Dr. Sharada Balakrishnan, the numero uno in the field of Indian classical dance, bharatha natyam.

    She was giving an exclusive performance to the American group. Only a few other VIPs of the city had been invited for the event. SB was not only a dancer but also a research scholar in the field of dancing. Her dissertation on the concept of dance tracing the art from the cavemen days to the present had earned her a Ph.D. from North Carolina University, USA.

    She was a rare phenomenon, who could enthrall an international audience with her Allarippu and with equal grace stun a scholarly audience with her incisive research findings.

    Unlike many dancers of the day, who were trying fuse Bharathanatyam with other art forms and were in effect giving a remix of the classical art, Sharada delivered to her fans, the purest form of the divine art.

    For the American Group interaction with SB and seeing her dancing was the highlight of their stay in Chennai. Nalini had spared no pains for organising the great event.

    Nalini looked at her watch.

    “She is flying in from Mumbai. The flight touches Chennai at 8. She will be here by 9.”

    “We are SB’s ardent fans. We want to receive her at the hotel gates. We want to give flowers and welcome the great artist. Can you please organise that?”

    “Sure, Matt. It is very thoughtful of you. SB will be delighted.”

    Nalini returned to her chambers with a smile. She stood for a minute in silence before her mother’s picture before starting her long day.

    She saw the notes on her table. None of them were important. She called her secretary on the intercom.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2010
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2!

    Part 2!


    Good Morning, Ma’am.”

    “Good Morning, Susan. What problems do you have for me this morning?”

    Running a facility of this stature - 250 rooms, a large multi-cuisine restaurant and two 24-hour coffee shops, a large bar, a travel desk and a host of allied services always implied that there was some kind of problem or other every day, every moment. Nalini always looked for problems.

    The earlier you face them, the sooner you get rid of them.

    “Everything under control, Ma’am. But there is one problem I want to discuss with you.”

    “Come in, right now.”

    “SB and her group will be coming in by 9. We have the Queen’s Suite and the three adjacent rooms booked for them. The rooms have been cleaned and the linen changed. I have placed special fruit baskets and a welcome note in all the rooms. I have got the food preferences of the group and have passed them on to our F&B Manager.”

    “Susan, cut the details. Come to the point.”

    “We had fixed Joseph to be the CP for SB’s group. You know they might require a lot of assistance for their evening performance. Stage co-ordination, lighting, mikes, seating etc.”

    CP referred to the contact person. Whenever a large group stayed in the hotel they always chose an experienced member of the staff as the contact person, CP. The CP would be equipped with a walkie-talkie and would always be near the leader of the group.

    He would serve as a single point of contact between the Group Leader and the hotel. Depending on the size and the complexity of the Group, a number of busboys,waiters and other staff would be assigned to work under the CP.

    “Joseph is the right guy. We have already discussed it.”

    “But Ma’am, Joseph’s mother fell down in the bathroom this morning. She has been admitted in the hospital. She’s serious. Joseph called. He can’t come.”

    “Oh, My God! Ok, who else we have now?”

    “I thought of putting in Venkatesh in his place. Is that okay?”

    “No. He is short tempered. And his Engish is not good. We will have communication problems.”

    “Then can I call Mani from F&B?”

    No he won’t fit. And F&B will not let him go. They need him for the speical South Indian Cuisine they have planned for the group this evening.”

    “All the rest are juniors, Ma’am.”

    “Wait, let me think.”

    Nalini’s face brightened after a while.

    “Can you ask Sethu from the Health Club to come and see me?”

    “But Madam, Sethu has been here only for two years. And.. and.. he is.. too proud. I don’t think he will take the job.”

    “Leave it to me, Susan. I will talk him into it. Now be a good girl and call him.”

    Ten minutes later there was a mild knock at the door..

    Nalini knew who it was.

    “Come in.”

    Sethu walked in. Everytime Nalini saw Sethu her motherly feelings were aroused though she was just three years elder to him.

    She had always wanted furiously to protect this vulnerable, grown-up child.

    Sethu looked exceedingly calm. There was no sign of a smile in his face. He was quite tall. He had a well-trimmed beard and well-oiled hair. He had the looks of a saint who had seen everything in this world.

    There was something about him that made him very attractive especially to women. May be it was the well-exercised muscular body which his clothes could not effectively conceal. May be it was the love-lorn look in his face which resembled that of a child searching for its mother in a crowd of people.

    Sethu was attached to the hotel’s health club as its masseur. He was an expert in his field. He had learnt the art under the feet of a master, a saint in Kerala for more than two years. There was always a long waiting line for Sethu’s massage-service.

    People who had had their bodies massaged by Sethu told that they had never felt so relaxed in their life.

    Massaging was a really hard job. Sethu could not handle more than five customers in a day.

    The hotel gave Sethu one-half of what it charged to the customers for his service. Sethu was making good money for someone in his station. But what was more important was that he loved his job. He loved to see people happy.

    While his deft hands sought the elusive pressure points on his customer’s body, his habit of silently listening to the customer, massaged their minds.


    The world is full of talkers. Listeners are few and far between. Many of his customers poured out to Sethu, who indulged them with his active listening. Sethu was a man of few words.

    But those few words were exactly to the point and in many cases were as therapeutic as his pointed touch at the chosen pressure point on the customer’s body.


    And more often than not, the massage-bed doubled as the psychiatrist’s couch. Sethu was a masseur and a counsellor, rolled into one.

    Sethu never induldged in small talk which made many of his colleagues think that he was a proud man. Of course he was, when it came to his profession, when it came to his dignity as a man.


    There have been a number of complaints against him. But a proper enquiry always revealed that it was the customer who was at fault.
     
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  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 3!

    Part 3!


    Please sit down, Sethu.”

    Sethu remained standing.

    “We have a problem. The famous dancer Sharada Balakrishnan is coming in an hour. Joseph was to be her CP. But he could not come to work today. I am not happy with others.
    “I want you to take that responsibility. I know Sethu, I am asking too much. I hate to place you at the beck and call of a lady, though she may be a world-famous dancer. But, Sethu, if I place somebody else and they mess things up, we would lose a lot. That’s why I am embarrassing you with this request. Will you please do it for me?”

    “I will, Ma’am.”

    When Nalini looked into Sethu’s eyes and talked to him Sethu could not refuse anything. If Nalini had asked for his life, he would have given it with pleasure. It was as if his mother was asking and he did not have the heart to say no.

    “Thanks a lot, Sethu. I will compensate you for your absence in the Health Club.”
    Nalini stood up and shook hands with him.

    “I’ll ask Susan to brief you on the job. Thanks once again. Remember, I owe you one.”

    “It’s my duty, Ma’am. And you don’t owe me anything.”

    Sethu said it in a voice drained of all emotions.

    Nalini intuitively knew that some great tragedy had struck in his life. But she never had the courage to ask about it, though her heart always bled for this sad man.

    At five to nine Nalini was standing at the hotel lobby with a bouquet in her hand. She was there to receive Dr. Sharada Balakrishnan, the world-renowned bharatha natyam exponent.

    She turned her eyes to the main door. She was surprised to see Matt and about fifty other Americans standing in a line with flowers in their hand. She was moved. These Americans who were creative geniuses in their own merit were ready to worship the artist in Sharada.

    People like Sharada made this country proud. To make 50 American artists stand in line to receive her was no mean achievement. That was the finest tribute paid to her art and to this country’s great culture.

    At 5 past nine a white colour Ford Ikon glided into the hotel’s driveway. The guard ran to open the rear door. Sharadha Balakrishnan got down from the car with a smile.

    “Thank you very much.” She told the guard before walking into the lobby.

    SB, as she was popularly known in the world of fine arts, was not tall. She was just about 5’ 4”. And slightly plumpy for her height. But the world forgot these minor imperfections when it saw her fair, round, glowing, beautiful face. Her face was a perfect circle.

    If the sharp end of a compass is placed on the tip of her nose and a circle was drawn of a specified radius, it would perfectly describe her face. She was exceedingly fair.


    Her eyes were large and were very expressive. She had a sharp nose which along with her eyes, made the press describe her “a celestial beauty”. Dance was everything for her.

    Her slow walk towards the lobby resembled a graceful dance movement.
     
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  4. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 4!

    Part 4!



    Nalini was the first to greet her. Matt and his group were still standing in line waiting to be introduced by Nalini. But as per the prior arrangement Nalini introduced Sethu first.

    “Madam, this is Mr.Sethuraman, your contact person during your stay. Anything you want, you can call him. I have provided him a special desk near your suite. You may also call him from your room phone. He will take care of you.”

    Sharada saw Sethu. Her eyes lingered on his face for a fraction of a second more than it was necessary. She was confused whether she should extend her hand to him or not.

    Sethu resolved her confusion by just folding his hands in her direction. Sharada had to take enormous efforts to take her eyes off Sethu’s kind, sad face. Hurriedly she returned his gesture.

    “And Madam, this is Matt. An opera singer. He is from the American Group. A highly talented group of artists and writers. Matt and his friends want to welcome you with flowers. Here they are.”

    The Americans came in an orderly line to shake hands with Sharada. She was moved by this show of affection.

    Sharada’s troupe arrived a little later. There were 15 women and 5 men comprising of dancers, musicians and stage decorators.

    The first problem erupted soon after Sharada’s troupe settled in their rooms. The singer of the group, a spinster in the wrong side of forties, buzzed for Sethu.

    “My slippers look dirty. Clean it up.”

    The order was curt and impolite. Sethu composed himself and said in a flat voice,

    “Le Meridian does not provide that kind of service. I’m sorry, Ma’am.”

    “How dare you talk like that? I have stayed in many hotels. And they all have done that for me.”

    “May be you have not so far stayed in a place as nice as Le Meridian, Ma’am. I am really sorry that I could not be of help to you.”

    “What an impertinence! I will call Sharada rightaway.”

    “Please yourself, Ma’am.”

    The lady barged into Sharada’s room and complained about Sethu.

    “It’s not fair Mythili. How can you request somebody to clean your chapals? I will get you a new pair. Don’t worry.”

    “But Sharada that arrogant idiot, what’s his name, Sethu or something, should be taught a lesson.”

    “I know how to handle it. Let me make a big tip to him right in the beginning itself, so that we remove the unpleasantness straightaway.”

    Sharada allowed some time and then called Sethu in.

    “You know Mr….”

    “Sethuraman”

    “Yes, Mr.Sethuraman, I have a policy of tipping the staff right in the beginning. So please accept this from me.”

    She was flashing a thousand Rupee-note in her hand.

    Sethu saw Mythili sitting there at the other end of the room with a long face.

    “I too have a policy, Ma’am, of not accepting tips from those I have not yet learnt to respect.”

    Sethu cast a pointed glance at Mythili. Sharadha did not know what to do. Sethu walked out of the room. It was game, set and match for Sethu.
     
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  5. rajmiarun

    rajmiarun Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    I am yet to read the episode so my comments about it comes later. But I want to tell you that I was wating for this from 5.30 in the morning. Thanks for posting it. Will read it full and then will talk about it to you.
     
  6. rajmiarun

    rajmiarun Gold IL'ite

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    That was a nice Episode 2 Sridhar. Read the story with one full shot. The link between Episode 1 and 2...... I cant find out. But still Sethu is a real good charecter. I loved the way you have presented his picture.

    As I had been to LeMeridian once, I was able to visualize every detail of this episode so clearly. I was able to connect the places that you have described too.

    Nalini handling the entire show. Wow great. Yes woman of today are at such high respectable positions.

    Want to write more. But want to enjoy HE Episode2.

    Looks like you have planned for one different HE every week and I think you will continue with Sethu next week too. Waiting for the connections between the first and second episode. OH HO I need to wait another full week. OMG.
     
  7. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    hi sridhar

    You are walking on a tight rope with two timelines...but honestly, I like sethu more than your madhavan....

    Curious about what happens next...is it going to be a parallel or the twain will meet..??
     
  8. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Hi Sridhar,


    Nice episode 2. Am sure waiting to read how you are going to tie up Sethu, Madhavan and Rishi along with Priya and Nalini. Are there going to be more main characters? i guess i will have to wait till next Saturday.

    I think we should have game as to guess who the two HE's are going to be? Is it two of the three already mentioned? or is the second HE yet to make an appearance??
    Vandhana
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sridhar,
    This week’s episode is brilliant !

    Part 1
    Just like Bharathiyar gave a stamp of “nimirntha nannadai and ner konda parvai” to his ideal woman, I take it, you have described an ideal woman as

    But the way she bore herself, the way she dressed herself and the unmistakable intelligence in her eyes made her worthy of second looks, not of love or lust, but of admiration.

    Yes, you said it right. I do not always approve of the statement that a woman should be looked upon” as mother, sister etc” (only) ! She should be worthy of admiration by the way she conducts herself, rather bears herself.

    Part 2

    Oh, Sethu looks absolutely vulnerable, but still perfectly in control of himself


    Sethu looked exceedingly calm. There was no sign of a smile in his face.
    May be it was the love-lorn look in his face which resembled that of a child searching for its mother in a crowd of people.
    Sethu was a man of few words
    .



    Part 3

    Here, allow me to disagree with you, on the following

    S B was rather short. She was just about 5’ 4”.

    S, in India 5’ 4” is not short by our standards ! I am that & considered tall (to my great pride, ofcourse!). You are still under the effect of having seen women in the US, where the average woman is, perhaps, not less than 5’ 8” tall !

    To conclude ( are you heaving a sigh of relief?), I am attending a wedding in Le Meridian on 25th of this month. I will meet Nalini Ganesh & mention that VR has created a great fan following for her in I L !
    Love,
    Chithra.


     
  10. maya08

    maya08 Senior IL'ite

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    hi sir...
    jus finished reading episode 2.
    at the moment i dont see any connection between episode 1 & 2.
    but i presume that the paths of the characters may cross in the coming episodes.
    but i enjoyed the way each character 'pairs' interacted with each other, madhavan/priya and sethu/sharada.indeed they appear to have met their match...


    cheers
     

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