Funny stories in under 500 words.


I want to be like the old characters in that movie about the Marigold Hotel. Morning, noon, and night, they’re dressed like they’re going to a fancy party. They dine in expensive restaurants. They’re offered prestigious jobs. The men are enamored with women their own age. There is lots of sex. Has the Messiah come to India? Here in New York they say you’ve had your turn. It will never again be your turn. Learn to be satisfied with less.

I disagree. What’s the cut-off age for more? I already raised three children, paid my share to social security, and lost the love of my life. I should be compensated. No one shares my view. “You’re oldish in a society where the youngish are already past their prime,” they say. “Don’t expect much. Don’t expect anything.”

So rather than chase the impossible, I decide to learn acceptance by acquiring a deep level of tranquility through meditation. I feel peaceful when I play Bach on the cello for an hour. Twenty-three hours to go. I’d like to muster the technique everyone’s raving about through which I’ll achieve a state of harmonious calm on command.

I go to the meditation center. They begin with a presentation. Meditation has changed the lives of many. It improves your state of mind. It improves your health. Statistics are presented about lower blood pressure. You start with a few hours with a master. Some of that time is devoted to the memory of a divine man of inspiration. His picture is presented. The beautiful face of a prophet with a gray beard. The master teacher will recreate his spirit. There will be candles and some prayers. After the private session we’ll continue in groups. A thousand dollars to get started. I see young couples writing checks.

When I first visited India, I arrived in Bombay late at night, checked into a hotel and fell asleep in jet-lag-induced stupor. The following morning I got up and opened the shades to the Gateway of India and a square filled with people in bright white tunics against the backdrop of the bluest sky I’d ever seen. For a moment I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The flight to India costs a thousand dollar. Maybe I should play Bach in Bombay.

This story was written by Israela Margalit, who is an award-winning playwright, TV writer, concert pianist and recording artist, and recently a published short fiction author.


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