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Them Pretentious Basterds Magazine

You know how this blog is called webzine? Well, that was because we always wanted to do a proper magazine but couldn’t. Nothing much has really changed on that front actually. What we (I say ‘we’, I mean ‘Chittz and Satwik’) did manage to do is this lovely digital offering. I present to you, dear reader, the magazine.


The TPB Magazine

Smoking Sadhu – Part Two

The Sadhu was taken aback and wondered if he was hallucinating. Deciding that there wasn’t much he could do if he was, he stayed put and observed the chair.

It’d popped into the room just beyond the PC. It seemed like one of those art installations. It had snakes, conch shells and blazing rings of fire chiseled all over it. The cushion was shiny black and seemed to be made of snake skin. The Sadhu was disconcerted by the fact that it had popped into existence on its own. He distrusted anything that forced itself to his attention. He was about to start thinking if something, anything else, when a blue man popped into the chair.

The next few things happened really fast in the Sadhu’s head. He was caught off guard . For a second he thought it was some high tech hologram enabled publicity stunt for a fantasy film. Then he rejected that notion as far fetched. The blue man was wearing only a dhoti. The Sadhu suspected that this man was a Gandhian and thus no good could come from his appearance. His next impulse was to fight him, but the Sadhu was a weakling and the blue man had a body from a gay magazine cover page. The Sadhu gathered himself and asked the blue man what any of us would have asked.

“What’s with the body paint?”

The blue man laughed in a poor imitation of Rajnikanth, at which the Sadhu chuckled, because of which the blue man stopped laughing abruptly.

“It’s my natural skin tone, peacock blue. Like it?”

The Sadhu carefully lit a cigarette.

“It’s okay” he nodded.

Which witch?

“So what is it you wanted to talk about, Dennis?” Dana asked keenly from across the table.

Damn, Dennis thought to himself as he tried to find the right words.

“Umm yeah, so I was thinking,” he stumbled, before continuing reluctantly, “Maybe we aren’t right for each other.”

Dana leaned back in her seat, trying to take in what she’d just heard him say. Suddenly everything around her seemed infinitely more interesting as she tried desperately to turn her attention away – The big burly man seated behind Dennis, the waiter who just walked by, the soft music that was playing in the background. She resolved not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

“Go on,” she said as she steeled herself.

“It isn’t you, it’s me,” he paused, “Ok who am I kidding? It IS you!” he said frantically running his hand through his already dishevelled hair. “When we first started dating, your weirdness was alluring. Now it’s just… weird! I’m sorry. I’m sure there are a hundred guys out there who would be willing to date someone who believes she’s a witch. And I’m sure there are a lot more guys with fetishes for women who practice magic. All I’m saying is that I’m not one of those guys.”


“Dana, I can’t apologize enough for having to put you through this, but there was no other way. We can still be friends right?”

“You’re an ass.”

“Please Dana? Friends?”

“Alright,” she replied calmly.

This was easier than I thought. No tears, no emotional outburst, nothing. I guess this girl turned out to be really cool after all.

It was settled. Dana and Dennis remained friends, and a very relieved Dennis drove home that night. Tomorrow was his first day at his new job, so without giving Dana any further thought, he tucked himself into bed and fell asleep swiftly.


It was 9am when Dennis pulled over in the parking space allotted to him. He took out two boxes labelled ‘Office Stuff’ from the trunk of his car and made his way up to the third floor of his new office building. His day so far had the makings of a perfect day, but just before he walked into his cubicle, he had a sense of unease in the pit of his stomach. His qualms hadn’t gone away when he sat down in front of his computer after setting up his new workspace.

“Hey man! I hope everything’s going great. I’m Mark and my cubicle is right next to yours.”

“Oh hello there, Mark…” Dennis trailed off as he suddenly put a hand to his ear. His left ear felt as if someone had just twisted it. “It’s nice to meet you. Everything is going just… great.”

“Shout across if you need any help!” replied Mark cheerily.

Dennis sat back down in his chair, still cupping his ear. The pain had barely faded away when his seat felt wet. Looking down, he saw a dark stain spread between his legs. What on earth was happening?! He was busy trying to get the stain off with the help of some tissues when he felt as though someone had stuck needles up his – that’s right – arse.

There was only one explanation for all of this, he thought furiously, Dana! That crazy woman is quite capable of having made a voodoo doll of me or something along those lines. This is madness!

Bubbling with anger, he pulled out his cell phone and punched in her number.

“Dennis?” Dana answered doubtfully.

“Who else would it be, you twisted fiend?! You were expecting me to call, weren’t you?”

“Is this about the break up?”

“Maybe it is. You tell me.”

“Dennis, what is the meaning of this pointless conversation?”

“Pointless? Haha. You always have had a strange sense of humour. You just have to rub the word ‘pointless’ in my face right after sticking pointy needles up my voodoo doll’s arse, don’t you?!” he screamed belligerently into the phone.

“I didn’t break down and cry or react the way you wanted me to last night, so you chose to call and ridicule me and my beliefs?” she asked, as her temper gradually rose.

“You think I’m stupid, don’t you? I know exactly what you’re up to, so stop doing what you’re doing immediately!”

“Whatever,” she said as she hung up.

Where’s that stupid lucky charm when I need it? Realizing he must’ve left it in his car, he made his way down to the basement and popped open the trunk. He spotted a third smaller box that he’d forgotten to take upstairs with him that morning. When he turned it upside down and hastily emptied its contents, he found his favourite stuffed animal – Eeyore[1]. However, there was something very strange about it. A box of pins seemed to have opened up inside the third box, in a similar manner to the box of paperclips and the ink bottle, because Eeyore had pins stuck in his ass, had an inky wet crotch and had a paperclip on his left ear.

Maybe Dennis was an ass after all.

This was from the halloween weekend’s meeting. Only a couple months late.

The Smoking Sadhu

The world had gone to the dogs. Rabid dogs. So it was all quite crazy. The Sadhu being one of the few sane people left decided to live as a recluse and smoke himself to death. He figured that since picking any affiliation is only choosing a different kind of crazy, he’d like to be among the dead people. The were the most sane kind of people he knew. His parents had horded quite a sum of money in their life time. Even after taking into account the inflating inflation, which every growing economy faces by the way, he would be able to maintain his lifestyle for a very long time. This was of course a safety net. He intended to smoke himself to death as fast as he could.

On his twenty fourth birthday he picked out a small flat in a small town far from the Capital where he knew no one and vice versa. He had two shirts and two pairs of jeans. He had a raincoat and a sweater. The room had a double bed he could roll in, a bedside table, a PC with internet access and an attached bath with running water all the year through. Within walking distance from the apartment was a tiny shop that sold tea, cigarettes and variations of pakora. It was all good. He didn’t bring his cell phone and ceased communicating with everyone he’d known till then. The first night he spent at the room was bliss. The morning of the second day he promptly started smoking.

Quite some time passed this way. He’d stopped checking his email and logging into his other accounts. The last time he’d logged into his facebook profile, everyone he knew had posted things on his wall. Photos, music videos, quotes, and he’d been tagged in so many notes which glorified his extraordinarily mundane former achievements – all assuming he was dead. He considered enlightening them but decided to follow that old dictum ‘fake it till you make it’. Besides, it was an excellent way to discover what his favorite songs were.

The Sadhu woke up. For a second he wondered if he was alive. Upon registering the fact that he was, he tried to go back to sleep. He couldn’t. So he propped up his pillow, moved the ash try to a more comfortable position and lit a cigarette. He fiddled to fit his toes under the blanket, took his music player out, selected Panivizhum Malarvanam and put it on loop. The day had begun well. When the cigarette was over, he stubbed it out and started singing along to the song. He was a terrible singer. The ash tray was still smoldering when out of nowhere a chair popped into his room.

(to be continued.)

– Kaber


I cannot remember a time when I did not know
This rhythm pounding the earth into tiny pieces
And soft castles sculpted by tiny hands.
My fear of the great blue monster faded
As I ran along its edges.

I’d leave, but it wouldn’t let me go.
Echoes of its whispering curls,
The sand in my sheets four days later,
The stench of a delicate seashell in a pocket.

On a sunny December morning we stood
Feet away from death, while a ravaged river silently saved our lives.

And still
We escape at every chance we get
Alone. Together. We stand at the edge of the world
Our sandy toes caressed by a realm beyond ours.
Finally free to really see as far as the eye can see.
Rage, serenity, a playful caper
A sheet of shimmering silver at my feet
A roaring whisper
Recognized from somewhere just beyond the shores of memory.

I lie on a thin mattress on the floor
Of a room in a town not so far away.
This town has no edges;
There is no blue margin to contain
This monstrosity, this chaotic maze,
This uncontrolled explosion of humanity.
An oppressive cold dryness hangs over me
The silence keeps me awake.
A tiny reptile
Struggles through giant fingers
Towards home.

– Nandhini

Death Of A Hero

So this is the first prompt we’ve tried. The exercise was to convert an actual historical person into a superhero. The results were appropriately fun.

“Calpurnia, have you seen my cape?” said Julius from the next room. She found him standing there in his underwear admiring himself in the mirror. She shook her head wearily and silently went about looking for his cape. She found it later in the bath, where he’d use it as a mat to dry his feet.

“Ah, thank you Calpurnia. It’s in a wonderfully terrible state, isn’t it? You should’ve come yesterday. Me and Brutus did so many wonderful things. I’ve never seen him so invigorated before. I guess he decided to go along with my plan after all. Not a word, Calpurnia, not a word did he say about it all night. Not when we swept down on a bunch of Visigoth raiders, not when we pulled that cat out of the river, not one word about today at all.”

“Oh, Julius. If he kept quiet, it was only because he knew you were as stubborn as a mule and wouldn’t change your mind. You know, he doesn’t want you to go tonight. He’s as stubborn as you are. Probably why you make such a good team.”

“Calpurnia, love, I am very grateful for everything Brutus has done for me, but there’s a reason he’s the sidekick – I know better. Our powers are advantage enough. Anonymity is a greedy luxury that we have abused for too long. We have to put ourselves before the state and use our abilities according to the will of the people.”

“And you think Brutus now agrees with you? He was in such a black mood when you first decided, I thought he would do something foolish.”

“I love Brutus. You know I do. I would give my life for the boy. I have put it on the line for him often enough but he never seems to learn, so headstrong. He will soon realize this for his own good. He is becoming broody. Ever since we took care of the Soothsayer and he told us about that group.”

“What group? You never told me about any group.”

“It’s nothing, Calpurnia. Worry yourself not about it. Brutus is a much worthier cause. Brutus, Brutus, he was a changed man last night. He really did treat it like it was his last.”

“Thats good to know, dear.”

“Yes, well now, clean the cape, I have to go to the Senate.” He sighed. “The only problem, the only problem I have with this whole business is the stupid grin on Mark Antony’s face. He’s going to love this. He’s always had it in for Brutus and Me. I can see his big fat face right now. Bastard.”

And then Caesar shook his head as if to dislodge the thoughts from his brain, kissed his wife on the cheek and left the house for the senate. We all know what happens next. On arriving there, Caesar was ushered in and then stabbed by Cassius who as the blade came down whispered the words, ‘Greetings from The Ides Of March, Caesar’. A cry that was repeated by Casca and the others. Caesar struggled at first but when he saw his friend and loyal partner, Brutus too lift his hand he succumbed.

It was the death of a hero.