Mrs. P looked out of her balcony and saw Family S walk down to the frying patch of the garden. Ah…Mrs S would be frying poories and the family will be enjoying a warm picnic.

Had the building not been also designed by a woman, it wouldn’t have been so. Men wouldn’t have pre-envisioned that warm oil smokes and fumes, setting off smoke detectors. Men wouldn’t have preconceived that it was not sufficient to simply install frying units outside without dining areas beside it. Because deep fried crispy things need to be eaten there and then. One can’t fry all the poories at once, load those swollen fluffy clouds in a basket, take them back to the tenth floor and then expect that there will be piping hot air coming out of them when the children poke it. Thank the good visualization skills that went into the communal frying spaces of the building…

Mrs. P’s thoughts about the female in the building architect’s team was disrupted by her phone ring. After a minute’s silence she said, “Dear, you don’t want to marry that guy.”

Her niece was on the other side.

“Tall, Dark, Handsome sounds nice but is never true.

No one actually marries Dark.

No one marries Tall.

And only the superficial search for the Handsome.

Would you marry a smoker or an alcoholic considering the risk of cancer for your progeny? Neither should you marry a Tallie knowing very well that your children could land up paying higher rents their entire lives and then their children thereafter.”

Alternate weeks her husband and she took charge of all the household work. This week it was her turn. After finishing up in the kitchen, Mrs. P sat down to read the essays that her students had sent in. One of the better ones was about a museum visit where the student saw two meter high cabinets, ten feet tall toilet doors that once belonged to a five star hotel, six-feet high Venetian baroque crystal chandeliers and ceiling fans that dropped down a meter and half from the ceiling.

Mrs. P had also seen one of those in her childhood.

Later she gave the final touches to a digital poster on SAVE THE CAUCASIANS before bulk-mailing them.

She was crowdfunding for an important social cause. She liked the Germans for their thinking skills. They ate one-pot pasta dishes or cold sandwiches and used the rest of their time in thinking and innovating.

Irrespective of consequences, they innovated. This new technology that had in evidently disadvantaged them, they had innovated. Just as much of the war technologies that brought them disrepute…

Irrespective of consequences, they innovated.

Their language has so many words related to mental processes








This trait needed to be preserved in their community.

Diversity was important and must be preserved. We must stand for multiculturalism, multinationalism, multirationalism. We must not do to them what they did to others and let history repeat itself.

When her school adopted the Flexible Ceiling Technology she saw her 175 centimetres German colleague replaced by a 140 centimetres Vietnamese. And one by one all the male teachers in the junior wing left, replaced by women who were averagely 15 to 20 centimetres shorter in height. Teaching primary school children was thus made cost effective.

And so she knew that it was important to save the Caucasians.

Save them from living in the ghettos outside the cities, unable to afford the higher rents just because they were tall. It was an economic disadvantage but not a genetic defect.

Before sipping her afternoon tea she also wanted to budget how much extra she would have to shell out for storing the new winter clothes the family had purchased.

Would 3 centimetres suffice or should she ask the building manager for 4?

Per centimetre x number of summer months…

Unable to decide and before she forgot she quickly took the elevator to thank her neighbours above for the 5 centimetres that they had offered so that Mrs. P’s family could have a spacious Diwali.

When Mr. A opened the door, she saw Mrs. A taping festoons on the wall with a double gum tape.

Tomorrow was their son’s birthday.

Mrs. P quickly hid the envelope of cash she had brought to give to Mrs. A (calculated at 5 centimetres x 1/365 annual rent) in return for her kind gesture( which was of course expected to be thanked in cash) and offered to lower her ceiling by the same for their son’s party.

“So kind of you Mrs. P. We were just thinking of asking you. One of his friends is a Tallie and we felt compelled to invite him. Although I guess we will still have to ask him to sit on the couch the whole while.”

“Oh and don’t forget to immediately remove all the festoons and wall decorations as soon as the guests leave. Even the small pieces of the double gum tape. We don’t want anything blocking the Flexible Ceiling Gliding Tracks. I have once paid heavily for that!”


She ran down and shot a mail to the building manager requesting that her ceiling be lowered from 7:00 am April 20th till 6:59 am April 21st by 5 centimetres  to allow extra room for Family A upstairs.

It had been a busy day. For the fourth time, she called the insurance company asking when they would clear the bill of 230 Bokrs towards damage of a travel suitcase belonging to her neighbour downstairs.

…thank you for calling top crush insurance…your call is important to us and will be attended shortly…

A month ago, the brakes of her floor had failed and slipped 10.0973 centimetres before Mrs. P ran and pulled the emergency hand brakes mounted on the north-western floor edge and jammed it.

A tenant’s worst nightmare.

To be crushed flat by the ceiling on which one has painted their dreams.

Luckily she had been at home. That slipping of 10.0973 centimetres was not like the rumbling of an earthquake. More like the sudden drop of a roller coaster that creates a black hole in the stomach. She had been quick but not enough. Her floor, Mr. B’s ceiling cracked the plastic shell of the travel suitcase perched highest on a cupboard. The building manager recognized the glitch in his systems and the building auditor certified the accident and sent the claim to the insurance company.

That was when Mrs. P’s son thought it was a cool job to be a building systems auditor and enrolled for a course at the university. But he plans to do this part time. His main passion for designing high heeled shoes is too lucrative to give up. Because although people prefer to be short, they never miss a chance to feel tall on occasions held under open skies.

“Darling our ceiling will be lower by 5 tomorrow.” She called out to her daughter.

“Maa.. I have an exam the next day. Can you not ask before you commit?”

Mrs. P’s daughter is studying genetic engineering to facilitate genetic shortening. Next semester she plans to take up spatial psychology in order to understand the workings of claustrophobia and agoraphobia in the hippocampus and medial temporal lobes.


Mrs. P and her mother-in-law sat in by the western window, watching the setting sun. Her mother-in-law had arrived three days ago from The Village and was quite impressed with what she saw. At best she liked the kitchen where one could sit on a very low tool and all the shelves were at shoulder level and the cooking unit was placed on the floor. She had seen her grandmother cook this way, but with wood fire instead of solar.

“Good, you won’t have knee joint aches. Those thirty years of standing at the counter and cooking have killed both my knees.”

“ Haha Amma…sitting low with folded knees is more of an economic necessity than a cultural revival or medical foresight. Where else would I have built my overhead pantry and storage cabinet?”

“Hmm… acchhi tarakki ki hai tum dono ne yaha pe. (You both seem to have done very well for yourselves here.)

“Yes Amma… the houses here are very auspicious. See all of them have been made or altered keeping Vaastu and Feng shui in mind since mostly all the residents are Asians. The East and the North are wide open to let health and prosperity flow in, while the South is closed so that wealth doesn’t flow out and all the elements are in their correct directions. The economic pressure from us Asians was too strong for the architects to ignore.”

“And its only one apartment per floor?”

“Yes Amma…after the pandemic it was better to make airy pencil like towers with less cross contamination of air than long corridors of stuffy apartments like the ones in your Village. And the elevator gets UV sterilized after each ride.”

“And how many flats are there in total?”

“Varies Amma. In the beginning when we shifted, a few Caucasians used to live here. Then I think there were 10 floors. Then one by one they left for the suburbs. And more Asians came in. Now I think there are 15 or 16 floors.”

“Why did they leave?”

“Who the Caukies? A bad turn of fate Amma…Their height has become their disadvantage. The taller you are, the more rent you have to pay. Its not as per floor area anymore but volumetric space. Since those Dutch-German engineers invented flexible ceiling technology, rent is calculated in cubic meters. After the pandemic, architects had to be more generous with the horizontal spaces and so cut corners at the vertical axis to balance the land cost. Now building managers have turned greedy and lease exclusively to short Asians so that they can fit more of us in”

Unsure whether she should ask what flexible ceiling technology was or how the number of floors changed, Amma asked instead…“Why are faces of film stars printed on pillow covers?”

“ Amma those belong to the kids. They don’t have walls for posters like we used to.

It’s getting cold Amma, let’s go in. Can you please close the window behind you. The remote is on the couch. Just press the red button and point it to the top and bottom of the open space. And Amma… tomorrow at 7 in the morning, our ceiling will come down a little. Don’t get scared, okay?”

At 5:30 pm Mr. P returned from work.

Since the budget in February, when not much had been allocated in subsidies towards Tall Peoples Sports, his job as a secretary in the Ministry of Sports had become harrowing.

Day after day he was in meetings with club managers while Caucasian and Tall African sportspersons protested against their squalid living conditions in the suburbs with almost no decent infrastructure. They protested against the volumetric rents and volumetric travel fares for buses which were specially constructed and plied for them. On Sundays only one bus left for the city from the suburbs, but now coming to the city also made no sense since most of the spaces had been converted to their disadvantage. And although there were unemployed Caukie teachers, no one was building schools in the suburbs.

This was a common problem across all ministries since the demographics had changed post FCT.

Post pandemic, the fascination for superstar sports had anyways dimmed down. Now people demanded to play sports than to watch it which meant that funds had to be diverted to create Short Peoples Athletics and Short Peoples Basketball for which new sports complexes needed to be created.

The tension at home was often palpable.

Here was Mrs. P crowd funding for the Caukies and here was Mr. P’s Ministry pulling away the funding beneath their feet.

“Caukies are good thinkers, great innovators, they need to be SAVED!”

“The problem my darling is not that they are not good. The problem is that they are now a minority. And its not that ONLY THEY CAN THINK AND INNOVATE!” Mr. P snapped back after trying hard not to.

Wiping a tear for a lost cause, Mrs. P thought pf something that had often crossed her mind.

…If she were a cell in the body she would choose to be a brain cell.

…If she were to be born in any other organ, she would choose to emigrate to the brain.

…she would hitch a ride on a red blood cell, traverse the watery ways and sneak past the tight borders of the blood-brain barrier.

At 7 in the morning, Amma was staring wide eyed at the ceiling. As the ceiling started lowering, her shoulders raised upwards and her head sunk in between them automatically.

Her granddaughter started laughing.

“Will it touch my head?”

“No Daadiamma…the ceiling must always remain 30 centimetres above the tallest person’s head. Occasionally for 24 hours, it may remain at 25 centimetres, like today, but beyond 24 hours the sensors in the ceilings will trigger an alarm. A minimum headspace of 30 centimetres is needed to prevent psychospatial disorientation. But you know Daadiamma…when I become a scientist and a university professor, I will get special accommodations with 120 centimetres headspace. More space to think! That is what scientists have calculated as the minimum required to trigger HOIT.”


Higher Order Intellectual Thinking…pronounced hoight… like how an Australian would say height.”

Mr. P peeped out of his newspaper and muttered, ”You can quit dreaming of that. With the kind of budget cuts, they might just ask you to think sitting on a park bench. Its called blue sky research. Look at the headline in the news

SCIENTISTS TURN LABRATS- Recalibrating the Correlation of HOIT and Volumetric Space.

He did not read out the headline of another article which was about Caukie professors being relieved due to budget cuts since Mrs. P was within earshot.

“And what if your brother grows taller than what he is now?”, Amma asked her granddaughter.

“Then we must ask him to leave home.”


“Joking Daadi, joking.”

“Don’t worry Amma”, assured Mr. P, “We have given him medicines for that before he turned twelve. And if he grows taller than what we have calculated he will contribute towards the extra rent that will need to be paid.”

“But where will the extra ceiling height come from? Your neighbours above and below will not give it to you for such a long time.”

“There is always a metre of extra space kept in case of emergencies, which the building manager generally rents of for storage of goods. Had father been alive and visited us, we would have leased extra headspace for him. He was taller than me, you remember?”

After breakfast Mrs. P sat down to check assignments that had been emailed overnight. The theme was holistic thinking. The first essay was titled The Ecofriendliness of Short People.She settled in to read. It was a good topic. It was a long essay. However she was soon disappointed. The student had only focused on how short people consume less electricity for cremation and their corpses release lesser carbon emissions. She felt it was too morbid to be read early in the morning and almost as if she could smell burning flesh.

“Bahu..are you cooking NON-VEG?”, Amma came running frantically.

Jolted by her mother-in-law’s shriek, Mrs. P looked up. “No, no…its meat that Mrs. B downstairs is cooking. There must be a leak in the floor edges somewhere. I will shoot a mail to the building manager to send someone to fix it.”

Under her breath, Mrs. P muttered…

…another repair…something or the other just keeps happening to this building…its worse that school kids turning up with new playground wounds everyday…



Incase you were wondering:

Inner partition walls and doors in the apartment as well as emergency exit stairs are made of elastic smart materials extracted from spongiform bacteria.

Poories- Puffed, deep fried breads made of flour.

Amma- mother/mother-in-law

Vaastu- abbreviation for Vaastu Shastra, traditional Indian system of architecture relating to spatial geometry.

Feng shui- Chinese geomancy which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their environment.

Dadiamma/Daadi- grandmother

Bahu- daughter-in-law


Priyanka Jain  April 21, 2020.