Tonight, just because it is so hot out here in Bangalore, I am planning a night under the blanket of stars. I am planning on taking my Black Dog, a mat and some good old music and sleeping on the terrace. That’s my style to beat the heat. I have been doing this for years now. Earlier it used to be my Dad, my brother and I. Now it has my daughters and wife coming along while Dad dropping out. However, this year is different.
I am a free bird this year. No extra packages. That means, not only can I do star gazing with my good companion the Black Dog beside me, I can also do lots of Bird Watching. A full time khulla saandh! What I am planning to do is however, carry my Grand Dad’s telescope along. It is at least a hundred years old. It was handed down to him by his father and later my Dad inherited it. I don’t know much about the stars, however I am eager to learn. For that reason, my laptop and my smartphone go with me.
Smartphone because I have located an app that shows which constellation is right over my head and laptop to find out all about the constellation. The Bangalore Astronomical Society is a good place to start for beginners. Information about Star Gazing is freely available on their web page as well.
Another kind of star gazing that almost every Indian on this planet would have indulged in without doubt is the palm reading/future prediction/horoscope reading! I had been to one such place just to know what it is like. Man, do these guys mint money or what! That gives me a business idea. I think I must start that in my free time. What do you guys suggest? must I or mustn’t I? My previous stint trying to predict was with the stock markets, that did not work out. I am wondering what the outcome out of this other prediction profession might be!

Suman and Rishi returned home in high spirits after the Elvis event. The two were singing songs aloud, literally bringing the roof down. The two had downed quite a few pegs. Driving back home would have been a nightmare. Thankfully they had booked a cab back home! Rishi believed in dinking responsibly. They got down a little away from the gate and started walking down towards the house.
One thing led to another and the two had a steamy sex session. Suman had never been with a man like this before. It was her first time. She had always maintained that she would lose herself to only the one man who she would marry. But she hardly knew Rishi; and after her run in with the goons and the kidnapping, it had set her thinking all the more.
She walked out of the room and decided to pour herself a drink. She looked at the collection that Rishi had accumulated over a while and chose Black Dog Quintessential. His collection of glasses and other accessories was always a source of his pride. She chose the best one. She had just finished pouring out one for herself when Rishi called out from behind, “Pour one out for me as well.” “How will you have it? Neat or…” “You know fairly well I always like my Scotch neat, no water.” “Yeah of course. But I still wonder if I know you at all” Along silence ensued.
Suman continued, “You know, I always wanted to lose my virginity to the man I would choose to marry. Till the last week, I thought I knew you really well. But now, now I have serious doubts.” “What do you want to know?” “Everything.””Would you be able to digest it?””I want to get married to you. If I have to decide, I need to know all about you! In fact I am not even sure if your real name is Rishi.” Suman screamed.
Rishi started off right from the part when he worked as a software engineer, how he was laid off, how he met Sunny and how Sunny offered him his first case. Suman was not convinced. She felt Rishi was making it all up. He was faking it. Rishi took her to his secret chamber under his bar. Here he showed her all his collection of guns, and all his certificates. They looked authentic. Suman and Rishi came back into the living room.
Suman looked pensive. Rishi was now getting worried. He did not know what was going on in her mind. He prodded her. Suman did not answer. Rishi went back to his room and came back with a box in his hand. He bent down on his knees and “Suman, will you marry me?”

A masked man brought Suman into the room dragging her by her hair. “Looking for her?” he asked Rishi. With this he threw Suman next to his chair. Suman’s hands and legs were bound behind her by ropes. Luckily she was not blindfolded. But then, he did not want Suman’s involvement into whatever he was doing. It was not what he had planned to tell her, but then it was one of the hard facts of his life which she would have come to know of sooner or later. Better for her to know his reality on her own. Saved him the trouble of explaining, saved him the trouble of finding out if she still wanted to be with him after this.
Suman fell on her back and was writhing in pain. They had not inflicted any injury to her but then she was hurt due to their being slightly rough with her. Rishi had always shied away from relationships because he never liked being in the sticky situations like the one he was in today. No point crying over spilt milk now. He had to face it come what may now.
He had known the masked man and the other together as the Dragon team. The two had worked together since time immemorial. It was said that the Mask did not take his mask off even when he slept. Rumours were that his face was so horrendously damaged by his father that it was not possible even for his mother to recognise him. He had run away from home that day wearing a paper bag as his first mask. He never took it off after that day. He had met the Dragon Boss as a co-traveller on a trawler on his way while running away from home. This is when he had been introduced to the world of crime. He had taken to it like a fish takes to water.
The Mask came around and gave a heavy blow on Rishi’s face. The two were here to exact their revenge. Revenge for being sent to jail. They had been invincible and unstoppable in the world of crime until Rishi came along. After that Rishi had successfully tailed the two and had ensured that the two were behind bars. They had been tried in the court of law where they had both been awarded life sentences. They had both been moved to separate jails in different locations. They had vowed their revenge in full public view.
Dragon asked Rishi, “Wondering how we got out?” and roared with a resounding laughter. “There never were jails built that were strong enough to hold us in for more than a few weeks! So what if there were thousands of police personnel deployed.”
Unknown to them while they were raining blows on Rishi, Suman had eyed a broken bottle of Black Dog thrown a little behind her. She quietly slid behind and started cutting her ropes apart. She wanted to get out of this hell hole fast. Rishi was the key to take her out, she somehow knew this.
The Dragon received a phone call and went out to answer it. He indicated the Mask to leave Rishi alone and follow him a little far away from ear shot. This was Suman’s chance. She quickly untied hers as well as Rishi’s ropes. The two managed to free themself successfully before the Dragon team got back. Rishi had pulled out one of his Beretta 21A Bobcat and had hidden it safely within his palm.
The Team got back. Rishi was not sure how many were with them but he had been left with no choice. The Mask came closer to him with the knife. Rishi had no wonder in what awaited him next. He wanted to catch the Mask by surprise. When he was close enough to Rishi, he got a heavy blow in his groin and collapsed on the ground in pain.

Rishi reached Suman’s Office to find it closed. There was nobody around as expected. He however found a dazed and sleepy watchman who had been woken up from his slumber by Rishi’s arrival. The watchman would not answer any of his questions. It was obvious. He was still sleepy. There was no point shaking him up. No, money would not work on a drunken and sleepy watchman either. He had to use other methods. Before he did anything, somebody walked down from the office. Fortunately for him, this colleague of Suman’s knew her. In fact, he knew too much about her to his liking. He introduced himself as Rohan.
Rohan told Rishi that Suman took the metro to get home. Even today she had left on time with Rekha to go home. Rekha and Suman always left work together and lived nearby. He offered to take Rishi to the metro by the route that Suman took everyday. Once there, he left the place without a trace or a goodbye. This astonished Rishi. He was not used to such disappearances from the folks who helped him or offered help.
At the station, Rishi could do nothing but look around. He found Suman’s bag lying thrown on one side of the road. It was lying strewn and the contents of the bag emptied. Nothing in it seemed to be in order. The money was missing. Nothing that remained was valuable. It was clear that someone had taken all the valuables from it. Was it still possible in that case that the phone really was with Suman and not with this person who had emptied the bag. He rummaged through the bag once again. He found the bracelet that he had gifted her hidden in a corner.
He was now not sure if what he had was a bread crumb trail or a real one. He was not sure what to be done now. He started looking around at the surroundings once again. May be some clues may have been left behind. He found pieces of paper that looked like they had been torn only a while ago. Next to it lay a bottle of Black Dog and two broken glasses. He picked up the pieces of paper. They were pieces of a torn photograph. He quickly got around to placing them together. A few pieces had flown away with the wind, but the face could be reconstructed partially. Only the upper half of the face remained. The face was known. It was Suman. He quickly pulled out his smartphone and clicked a photograph of all the evidences.

He flipped the pieces. It had random numbers scribbled. It did not look like a phone number. But then he was not able to understand what it could be. He pulled his phone out and tried to see if it was a location co-ordinate. He quickly punched the numbers on his screen. It was a location.

Rishi was calling Suman since the last four hours. Her phone was ringing continuously since the last four hours. He was very worried now. He called her office up a few hours back but then the watchman there confirmed she had signed out at around seven in the evening. She had not come back since then, neither had any one heard back from her. He even visited her house but found it locked. Her neighbours had not seen her come home. There was no point calling Sneha since she was not even in the country. He did not have her parents’ number, but then she would have definitely told him if she was going back home or there was some problem back then.
He was stuck with no leads in this case. He took a swig of his Black Dog. He had told Suman to keep her data connection on all the time so that they could Skype whenever they felt like. He had not thought about checking her online yet. She wasn’t there. This could only mean that her Location reporting would not be available either. Nonetheless he tried checking her last known location. It was a warehouse ten miles away from her office. What could she be doing there? Was her phone stolen? But if that was the case, why hadn’t she come back home?
There were a lot of unanswered questions, none of them seemed to have any leads. He was frustrated. He felt like a novice. He felt he had hit a dead end. He could not tell the cops. They would not even file a missing complaint before 24 hours. But then it may be too late by then. For whatever you know, her life may be in danger. He did not know where to start from. He had not visited her office yet. He should start from there. He had advised Suman to keep a pepper spray in her purse for her safety. If she was in danger, had she remembered to use it?
He fiddled with his laptop keys while he thought what to do. The TV roared at full volume. His fiddling with the keys changed the map view from last known location to location trail. She had travelled from the office to the Metro station and from there to the warehouse. It was an unmarked warehouse. He finished a full glass of his Scotch in one swig and got up from his chair. He had to do something and that something had to be done fast, really fast.
Rishi changed into his tuxedo and put on his hat. He had to work in style of the private detective that he was. He had to save her at any cost.

Danny had had a spectacular day 2. He had caught and tagged one of the biggest fishes of the game. He had been happy. But he wanted to remain unbeaten. He knew that in case of Angling, patience was the only key that he had. He had to employ it to full use and benefit. He had reserved his Black Dog Fly for the last day. He wanted it to be his lucky charm. Day 3 dawned, the participants were instructed to cast their lines.
Danny’s Black Dog lay immersed in the water for hours. He hadn’t tasted success yet. He pulled up a flask from his hipster and took a swig of it. It contained his rationed Black Dog Scotch. He pulled out a book and got down to reading. He knew his day would be long and tiring today. It was not the physical stress that he was expecting but then it was the mental and emotional stress. He felt a light tug on the rope. He waited for the line to tense further. It did not. The tug remained light.Danny was getting frustrated. He had expected a strong tug and a big fish. But then a light tug meant that he would not have too huge a fish caught. Nonetheless, if he wanted to free the line for another fish, he had to unhook whatever was on the line.
He rolled the line backwards but then as soon as he started it, he felt a strong hit on his boat. Much like as though something had hit it from under. It did not persist, he did not bother. He went on to rolling the line back when the line suddenly got tense and the tug on the line really strong. He now knew he had something good. He pulled on the line hard. The fish definitely was a good catch. He did not realize when he had let himself get dragged to the end of the boat.
The fish was a fighter and he still hadn’t caught sight of his opponent. Because of the strong pulling, the boat started to rock. The fish was trying all that it could to get away. Danny neither wanted to lose the fish nor his boat. After pulling for what seemed like hours, he caught the sight of the fish. It was a sailfish! Bright blue coloured fins kept emerging from the water once a way. Danny felt his energy being sapped away. He could not afford to give up now. He had almost made it. After some ten more minutes of effort, the fish gave up instead. It had gotten tired. It was now relatively easier to pull the fish close enough to weigh and tag.
This was the easier part. Tagging the fish. Well ,compared to pulling it out of water, this definitely was easier said. The fish turned out to be an astounding 75 kg in weight! It definitely was one of the heaviest fishes caught in these areas! He was proud. His record shall now remain unbeaten for a long while now.
Post championship party was all about discussing his catch. Single handed getting such  huge fish had been a strain. The line had cut through many places no his palm. But he wore it as his prize. His prize of winning the championship unbeaten! Sneha was in his one arm, the other side pocket held his lucky charm. The Black Dog Fly.

I have again come to a point where I am at a loss of words. I am really finding it difficult to mince words. If someone were to come down and put words in my mouth, I would lovingly accept them and pen them. Sadly, no one is going to do that. Every writer who has been portrayed in movies, every artist at such a stage is shown to take support of Scotch. I’m planning the same tonight as well. I don’t know how much it is going to work but then I am going to try it.
I am also planning to pick up one of my favourite book from the series that I have been following. The series written by Amish. The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas. The final book in this series is out already now and is waiting to be read. The Oath of the Vayuputras. I have come to expect a lot from the series after reading the first two books. I wonder what Amish has n store for me in his third and final book. How he manipulates the life of Shiva is fairly interesting read.

Whatever you say, I have come to kind of like semi fictional, semi mythological stories. In fact I own a mini collection of that. All these books are classics in my own accord. Lamb by Christopher Moore, Yajnaseni by Dr Pratibha Ray, Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi and now finally the entire collection of the Shiva Trilogy. If I were to really look at the Godly figures these books were addressing, I have one on Jesus, one on Draupadi from Mahabharath, one on Vishnu and one set on Shiva. Yet, if I look back at my collection, I am missing so many Gods here! Indira, Brahma et al.
I love reading my books in solitude with no disturbance. But then one thing that I would never want to set aside is my choice of Black Dog. That is the best company I can have with a classic book! How I wish I was of legal age to drink when I studied Shakespeare in school! I would have definitely enjoyed him a lot more! Even today, when I get a chance, I would definitely want to read a Shakespeare. But then again, I think I may have grown out of him now. One shot at school was good enough.

Talking about the classics, I have teamed Rabindranath Tagore and Black Dog. Let me tell you, it definitely is a wonderful combination. While the book grows on you, so does the Scotch. Neither wears away from your senses so soon. Tagore is known for his masterpieces and slowly building up the character. I think Black Dog took a page out of his writing. It so slowly grows on you that you would not want to let it go. Much like a lover wanting leave your arms and go home after spending a passionate evening of romance.
So while I romance my books and Scotch, you go ahead and see if you can catch up on some beauty sleep. It’s Sunday night here. I am planning to live it up in style. What about you?

Danny arrived at the championship venue with Sneha in one arm and his equipment slung over the other shoulder. He was wearing Khakhi shorts and a bright coloured open neck Tee. He had paired it with boat shoes. His hired Dhoni was marked and ready. It was a bare boat and nothing was allowed on it. He was supposed to row the boat himself. All the participants were explained the rules once again and were also explained the grounds that could allow disqualification. The rules and regulations were based on the rules that were laid down by IGFA. Those participants who were not a part of the MGFA (MALDIVES GAME FISHING ASSOCIATION) were registered and incorporated into the association. The main sponsor of the event was Black Dog, this meant none of the participants needed to pay for the membership.
The bugle was sounded and the participants were asked to get on to their boats. The chosen location was The northern end of Gaafaru Falhu on Male’ Atoll at latitude 4 degrees 50’ North to the southern end of Vattarurah on Felidhe Atoll at latitude 3 degrees 11’ North and bounded on the eastern sides of Male’, South Male’ and Felidhe Atolls at longitude 73 degrees 55’ and on the western side of the above Atolls at longitude 73 degrees 10’.
MGFA Fishing Area
The championship was supposed to be spread between 3 days. Day 1 started at 0730 hrs and ended at 1700 hrs, Day 2 and 3 started at 0630 hrs and ended at 1700 hrs. The competitors were supposed to tag and weigh before 1830 hrs on all days.
MGFA Itenary
When the clock struck 0700 hrs, all the participants were asked to leave in their boats to their desired fishing locations located in view of the judges. At 0730 hrs, a gun shot sounded which let the participants to start fishing. The first half of the day went fairly dull. None of the participants had caught even a single fish. By evening few participants had caught one or two fishes but none noteworthy. Day close was sounded, the participants returned disappointed.
Sneha was back with Danny. He was not disappointed but definitely tired. He wanted to relax. The participants were all invited to come together for a round of scotch. Black Dog was on the house. Scotch allowed the participants to relax and let their hair down. All of them shared their experiences and also tips from other earlier championships that they had participated in.

Danny had been as excited as a kid right from the morning. It was but obvious. This was something close to his heart. He was so excited, he wanted to get up and be there way before the championship time. It was scheduled at 5 in the morning. Every participant was handed over a set of rules. They were strict and hard!

Rules of the championship:
  1. There must be no cruelty towards any fish.
  2. None of the fish would be kept. They would be caught, measured, marked and released.
  3. Any type of fly line and backing may be used. The breaking strength of the fly line and backing are not restricted.
  4. Leaders must conform to generally accepted fly fishing customs. A leader includes a class tippet and, optionally, a shock tippet. A butt or taper section between the fly line and the class tippet shall also be considered part of the leader and there are no limits on its length, material, or strength. A class tippet must be made of non-metallic material and either attached directly to the fly or to the shock tippet if one is used.
  5. Regardless of material used or number of sections, rods must conform and cast according to generally accepted fly fishing customs and practices. A rod shall not measure less than 6 feet (1.82 m) in overall length and any rod that gives the angler an unsporting advantage will be disqualified. Overall butt length may not exceed six inches when measured from the centre of the reel foot to the end of the butt. Overall butt length for two-handed or Spey rods longer than 11 feet may not exceed 10 inches when measured from the centre of the reel foot to the end of the butt.
  6. The reel must be designed expressly for fly fishing. There are no restrictions on gear ratio or type of drag employed except where the angler would gain an unfair advantage. Electric or electronically operated reels are prohibited.
  7. A conventional fly may be dressed on a single or double hook or two single hooks in tandem. The second hook in any tandem fly must not extend beyond the wing material. The eyes of the hooks shall be no farther than 6 inches (15.24 cm) apart. Treble hooks are prohibited.
  8. The fly must be a recognized type of artificial fly, which includes streamer, buck tail, tube fly, wet fly, dry fly, nymph, popper and bug. The use of any other type of lure or natural or preserved bait, either singularly or attached to the fly, is expressly prohibited. Only a single fly is allowed. Dropper flies are prohibited. The fact that a lure can be cast with a fly rod is not evidence in itself that it fits the definition of a fly. The use of any lure designed to entangle or foul hook a fish is prohibited. No scent, either natural or artificial is allowed on flies. The use of scented material in a fly is prohibited.
  9. Gaffs and nets used to boat or land a fish must not exceed 8 feet (2.44 meters) in overall length. (When fishing from a bridge, pier or other high stationary structure, this length limitation does not apply.) The use of a flying gaff is not permitted. Only a single hook is permitted on any gaff. Harpoon or lance attachments are prohibited. A rope or any extension cannot be attached to the gaff.

Actual rules are available in detail here.
Danny looked at his Black Dog once, turned it around and looked at it again. He wanted to reassure himself that this definitely was his winning bait. He had other baits too, just in case. But he knew he would not need them. This bait showed off his style!

Sneha and Danny had been having a gala time at Maldives when they saw a poster calling people for a fishing contest. Danny was fairly excited. He had been dying to go fishing for a long time now! Back home on his ranch, he went fishing every now and then. It was his favourite pass time! It was a different story that not all the fishes that he caught ended up on his table and that there were often many days when he caught none!
He now wanted to buy all the best equipment for this contest but then the first thing that he had to do was register. At the registration desk was a nice lady who caught his attention. He started to flirt with her. Sneha was observing all this. She waited for a while and then her purse landed with a thwack on Danny’s head. He had to cut short the crap and get out of there. He could not afford to hurt Sneha, not when their relationship was still just budding!
Next stop, Fishing Equipment shop! Danny wanted to buy the best hooks, the best lines and the best Rod! He wanted to win the championship at any cost. It was a matter of his prestige! The prize was secondary, it was the satisfaction of winning that he wanted so very badly! He was not sure what Sneha would think about it, but Angling was close to his heart. He had learnt it from his father. And his father from his father. It had flown down passed on as inheritance for generations now. It was how they lived in style!
But even after buying all of this, one thing was missing. A bait. He was particular about the bait that he used. He only used the Black Dog! This store did not stock one. They had alternatives. He did not like alternatives. They were against his train of thought. This resulted in store jumping. He spent the better part of the evening hunting, scrutinizing, reminiscing the baits he saw at every store. Finally he found his bait. He was happy. It was the perfect one. Tail, a tuft of olive-yellow pig’s wool; body, black mohair; gold and silver tinsel with orange silk between; two or three black hackles; galena at the shoulder; wing, grey speckled turkey, two long slips. The hook, 3 1/2 inches long and 7/8 of an inch wide, and the succeeding flies rundown to 2 inches or even smaller.
Now all that remained was to hire a boat. That was not as easy either! Sneha was now getting impatient. He had to quickly wind up. But he could not afford to be slack! However, the rules of the championship restricted his choice. So he could finish this fast! He hired one of the Dhonis that were available.