Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Green Gaffe!

I always thanked my dad for instilling the travel bug in me. The very fact that he was a bank employee gave him the option to avail Leave Travel Concession. This was one of the perks for which he was entitled every year. Instead of consuming it annually, our preference was a five year chunk so that we could cover the maximum distance and the most number of days.

One such trip was to explore Delhi, the national capital followed by erstwhile Bombay and finally Goa. We had a tried and tested strategy which obviously worked out to be very economical those days. It was to target those locations where we already had relatives. This naturally helped to cut down the cost of accommodation and also to some extent, food and local travel expenses. I must remember with utmost reverence that those were the times when people never showed faces of displeasure when they had guests at home. Due credit goes to dad's amazing networking skills!

There we were, one fine day at the most happening part of the country, the wonderful city of Bombay! Dad's uncle was staying at Bandra, one of the well-off suburban areas in the city. They gave us a warm welcome and we relished their spirit of hospitality.

One of those days, dad's cousin decided to take us around the place and show us the real Bombay. It was a morning that saw slight drizzle. We took to the streets of Bandra which was trying to hide itself from the skies that opened its eyes. Little puddles of rain water clothed the roads. The tarred surfaces appeared polished and so we began our tour-de-Bombay.

My teenage mind was all excited to see a new part of the country. I looked up to the skies and shouted to the falling drops, "You just can't dampen my spirit with this!" We had started early in the morning and soon our stomachs started to add to the noises around us. A decent looking restaurant was round the corner and we decided to break the fast there.

I really am unable to trace back the time from which I started disliking mint leaves aka pudina. I was never able to appreciate the odor of the leaves and the dishes prepared, with that as an ingredient. I became so averse to pudina that I even wondered if I was allergic to that! Dad knew this pudina-phobia of mine and had warned me that you may find quite a few of these up in the North. I managed to avoid having a food item which had pudina while in Delhi and I was pretty confident that I could repeat the feat in Bombay as well. I somehow had this notion that south Indian cuisine does not use much of pudina.

The menu at the restaurant was not very enticing as most of the options were North Indian and I dreaded the green devil that will accompany the dish! Pages turned, options evaluated and finally at a completely insignificant corner of the menu I discovered a gem! A food item that brought some respite to my eyes but more so to the mind. A south Indian delicacy which I was sure not to have any of the stuff I hate the most. None other than a jewel from the land of Nizam, The Hyderabad Biriyani!

While the rest of the folks were open to experiment with their taste buds, I was contented with the good ol' South Indian food out of the sheer fear of pudina! Moments passed by, chit chats were reaching its pinnacle and slowly the food we ordered started showing up. The flavors of Bombay did a colorful pageant right in front of us. Tantalizing aromas filled the air. The renowned Indian cuisine which has created plentiful gourmets around the world woke up the counterpart within us. Everything we asked reached us except the one I was awaiting the most, biriyani. Guess, Hestia, the Greek goddess of hearth who presided over baking of bread, planned to test my patience level!

Everyone at the table was courteous enough to wait for my dish. But as the wait grew longer I suggested the rest of the folks not to wait any further. It seemed as though the restaurant folks are awaiting the next locomotive from Hyderabad to bring the biriyani! After what seemed like hours, a steward clad in a black and white vest came with a silver tray with an item he proudly announced as Hyderabad Biriyani.

He placed in front of me, an intricately designed copper-finish bowl with contents full to the edge. This was accompanied by a silver plated spoon so as to make the person feel special for ordering something as exotic as this. All what it took was one look at the bowl and I was totally disillusioned from tip to toe!

There it was, the carefully ordered menu item artistically decorated with pudina leaves so as to make a bed of green inviting me to dive in and have a painful death!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Game of Trunk

How unusual could names for games be?!! ‘Trunk’ was one such which used to generate so much of vigour, back when games meant more than PS3 and Xbox.

The mode of game was pretty simple, yet was one with a major impact on the players, literally and figuratively. A few stones, a ball and two teams were all that was needed. Those were the times when there was no dearth of getting kids from your neighbourhood to play along. I remember parents asking us to go out and play instead of being glued to the TV sets or video games which were just beginning to become a fad.

Back to the game, two teams will be formed. 7 pieces of stones will be made available. As in the case of any sport where decision making needs to be made, tossing a coin played a major role. The winning team gets to use the ball first. The pieces of stones have to be arranged one on top of the other. Aiming the ball at this stone pile follows. Each team gets three chances to hit the stack failing which the other team gets the turn.

All hell breaks loose as soon as at least one stone gets displaced! A totally irreverent melee follows! The team that played the ball runs for their life all the while looking at an opportunity to put the stack back in order. The most obvious action for the opposite team is to thwart that attempt at any cost.

One of the most exciting and painful sights of the game is to watch the ball fly at the speed of light with one of the poor souls trying to rearrange the pile as its target. Cries fill the air, pain fills the nerves, but the show must go on...

It was a game of exhilaration, sadistic pleasure and fraternity! One that taught team work, all the while reminding that you can achieve anything but of course with some pain!

Salute the good old days!


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A Basketful of Surprise!

After a few considerations, my only Brother-in-law decided to take the plunge into the wonderland called 'Married Life'. Needless to say, he was soon in a state of delirium tying hard to figure out the difference between nights and days, thanks to the late night phone conversations with his soon-to-be-sweetheart. All this while there was one little soul who was totally busy figuring out the artistic details about the wedding. My darling devil she was!

In the traditional Catholic society, a married sister of the groom commands a kind of respect which is something short of royalty. The reverence becomes manifold if she happens to be the only sister! I need to be a little immodest here and add that a fair share of the attention is also received by the brother-in-law of the groom.

With a few months into married life ourselves, I was fortunate to realize one fascinating characteristic of my sweetheart. She has a distinctive talent to create a marvel out of the most insignificant looking material lying around! So there she was; trying to make her brother's wedding a fairy tale one with the resources she had access to.

I heard her speaking to mom a few weeks before the wedding about buying some sort of a basket made of cane. She was also talking about nets and ribbons to add to the set. Conversations were plenty about size of the basket and color of ribbons. It is a matter of fact that I was not a keen listener to these and so didn't make out what she was up to.

The evening before wedding, I saw her scooting to a room back home with a basket and some assortments. The curious cat inside me got jolted up and swiftly followed her to the room. But all what I saw was a basket, some clothes, ribbons and nets in different colors. The cat lost its interest and moved to further more interesting actions which a wedding eve is never deprived of.

Moments passed by and I was cruising past the chocolate brown glass topped table en route to kitchen to pick up something. As if gravity got the better of me, my legs refused to move an inch beyond a spot. There, perched on that glass table was a heavenly beauty residing in all its glory! The simple basket of cane had gone through such a transformation that it became an incredible example for a work of art!

A pure white piece of satin became the seat, lovely nets floated around the basket giving it a fairy touch and curly golden ribbons were shining as though to proclaim to the world that a new life has been instilled! To top it all, a pair of exquisite lemon yellow roses adorned the basket to complete the royal touch!

Presenting the little beauty in its entire splendor to you…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gifting a Blunder!

I had known my dad's cousin, for a few years, as the lady who chose to remain single amidst the traditional family she was part of. During family functions, she was a topic of discussion as the one who committed an act that is next to a cardinal sin! Though no one despised her at home, I always sensed a melancholic tone when people spoke about her.

Perennially our society has been one that strongly based itself upon the notion of matrimony for existence and procreation. Every child who is born into this system is raised with a constant reminder of the need for this age-old institution. This belief gets deep rooted so much that, anyone who dares to tread a path that is different is seen as an outcast. This nature of the public always remained a fascination right from the time I started decoding the algorithm of relationships in a family.

The chapters of my life flew by and one fine day I ended up at the doorsteps of the same lady. I was to stay there for a couple of months as part of completing my Post Graduation project in that city. My alternate agenda was to explore more on the psyche of a single woman on whom the society had attached a taboo.

Pages on the calendar were flipped twice and by that time I had my realization in place. I could figure out the discrimination, the so called civilization had shown on her. In fact I really admired her for resisting the act of bigotry for almost half a century! She was indeed happy being single and had no regrets whatsoever, unlike the concern people had for her. I could feel the sense of freedom she cherished and not to mention her own space she treasured!

Single or otherwise, maternal instincts form an inseparable part of the genetics that constitute the fairer sex. I experienced that with the care she extended towards my well being. I was truly thankful to her for making me comfortable during the couple of months I lived there. It was more like an eye-opener for me towards the definitions world had in store.

It was time to bid farewell to the wonderful camaraderie we shared. I thought of parting ways by gifting her something she valued. She being an avid reader, what else other than a book, could be the best gift? Hours were spent to fish out a befitting book that spoke volumes about living life to the fullest. Something that genuinely complimented her spirit of being single!

I got the book covered in a lovely gift wrapper and presented with a contented heart. Her naturally beautiful face glowed as I handed over the gift and soon enough she started unwrapping it. Till date I am not really sure of the sort of emotion that crossed her face, as she took a first look at the cover of the book!

It read, 'Who Will Cry When You Die?'

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Feminine Instincts


While recently filling an application form we came across an all familiar section for title. The options included Mr, Mrs & Ms. All the male folks out there, you are united by these forms regardless of the fact that you said 'I do'. The fairer sexes, you are yet to be recognized independently. You need the support of either your parents or husband, so the form says!

We say, as a country, we've become independent more than half a century back. The world has seen the empowerment of women in many ways than one. We've had Presidents, Business Heads and the Power Houses for multiple strata of society from the female species. Do we still need a differentiation between married and unmarried women?

The world speaks so much about men and women, the fairness of gender wherein one is no more superior to the other. One more generation passes and it shall be a non-existent scene, where parents worry about marrying off their daughters. Young women are breaking free themselves from the clutches of the societal norms that sketch their destiny for future. Those days will soon appear in the pages of History books when a girl stood in silence while her parents decided the groom for her.

The modern day women must realize that this separation of their gender based on the marital status is nothing but the age old British political strategy of Divide & Rule. Why do you need a separation when a man can be 'Mr' irrespective of the status? What makes the men privileged to have the unique identification? This is a true case of planned attempt to create an identity crisis among the gender that once used to be the bear-all category of society!

The bigger question will be why do women need a separate qualifier to address the presence or absence of the other half in their life? What difference does it make if a girl is married or otherwise? The taboo associated with an unmarried woman is again an evolved evil from the yester years of the present society. Why should you let that create a division?!

Many religions speak about God creating the human race with man and woman being equal. Of course, God as an entity being considered male, is a totally different debate altogether. The thought here is if we were created equally, at what course of history did that become less equal?

Equality should not remain only as a topic of discussion. It needs to be a way of life, among the thoughts shared, the challenges faced and the decisions taken. The moment you learn to respect your co-species and accept that they are as much a part of the environment, you inherited from the previous generation which makes you equally superior as the rest; the distinction will cease to exist.

Who does not love a peaceful world?!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Red Firewall

We were a bunch of half baked Management Grads back in 2005. It was time for our internship program and along with a friend of mine I kicked off a Market Research activity for an IT Firm. Our targets were CIOs [Chief Information Officer] of IT organizations. Figuring out the usage and scope for Network Security Products like Firewalls was to be our assignment.

And there we were, charting the longitude and latitude of the City of Bangalore, on a brand new bike knocking at the doors of every possible IT companies we could figure out. We'd to cover a minimum of ten firms a day. Our initial thought was ten is such a small number, but the facts of cold calls soon hit us real hard. Forget about meeting ten CIOs, getting an appointment a day became an event to celebrate! Many a times, we'd to split the areas between us to meet the target.

Destiny had it that two months of our lives were to continue in this fashion. It so happened that we were one short of our target on a promising Friday evening. All what we had to do was to finish off the last one and head back home. We were at one of the commercial hubs of South Bangalore and were sure to find an IT firm to fill our last slot.

Soon we found ourselves standing in front of a state-of-the-art building which had a pretty interesting name. Since we were in that part of the world where IT companies were giving competition to the population growth of the country itself, we were confident about our find. Walked we did, right through the front door and met an equally confident front desk assistant who welcomed us with a warm smile.

The usual drill was to ask for the CIO and push our chances for a short instant meeting. The receptionists usually oblige or politely deny. But this one proved to be a different animal altogether. She answered in negative to our query on CIO, but said they did have a Firewall. We found that interesting, though not surprising since there were many small IT firms without CIOs but one person handling multiple roles.

Our following question was about meeting the person who is in charge of the Firewall. Her answer baffled us. She said, "Sir, we don't have anyone like that. I manage it myself. In fact we got it only last week and installed". We were not sure if we should be confused or mighty impressed. Here's a receptionist who also doubles up as the Network Administrator! What a revelation?! All that and more were completely proved otherwise with her next statement. That totally pulled the rug from under our feet!

Her eyes twinkled and smile broadened when she said, "The best part is, it is Red in color and I love Red"!

We looked at each other and needless to say, were speechless. For a moment we even thought, perhaps there could be a brand new type of Firewall named in the likes of 'Bluetooth'! Sensing our confusion she asked us to follow her. Took us through a door besides the Front Office desk and blissfully pointed her finger at a direction and repeated those words, "That is our Red Firewall".

There it was, perched on a wall, laughing out loud, a Red colored Fire Extinguisher!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Middle Line

Till the time you start living together under the same roof, you won't know each other that well – A profound statement, isn't it?!

Of course believing is one and experiencing is another.

An interesting irony about being married is that, while the common interests become a pat-on-the-back, the differences may quite well be a slap on the face! Yes, we were no different a couple in matters that could call for a routine change in the way of life.

Ruby loved coffee and I was a hardcore tea guy. I'd tried my luck before wedding itself, with a pseudo-chauvinist act and told her that our home will have no coffee brewing. She being the smarter one, didn't of course commit anything and patiently waited for the day I reduced to my half and she filled the other.

Man! Was I not happy, the first few days, when the aroma of tea filled every corners of our sweet little home? Little did I know that she has a Masters in Ego Massage! It is truly commendable, the way with which the woman of the house brings in some changes in your life and you won't even know it.

Soon the aroma-adorned corners started dwindling. The fragrance of Coorg became a frequent visitor during our mornings. Fortunately evenings were blessed with flavors of Darjeeling*. This of course proved to be an interim peacemaker deal. It didn't take much time for us to realize, these places can't co-exist.


We perhaps required a Middle Line of Control. Thoughts and ideas came and went. The union of geographies seemed a distant reality. Many crusades were launched for Coorg; Darjeeling was never behind in that historical battle. Sparks lit up the skies, Guns were fired and finally the War of Taste Buds came to an end.


We now share a common love for Bournvita :)


* Coorg is known for Coffee & Darjeeling for Tea.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Art of Love Making

I remember reading a while ago that kitchen is one of the best places for trying out your experiments on love making, of course it comes with its own set of risks. Today, with all its genuineness I can testify that, with a stupendously successful attempt at it!

So here we are, one lovely Saturday after a really relaxed brunch. She was enjoying her siesta and me checking my long list of unopened emails since we got our net connection finally after a month of moving into the new house. I was diving deep into the endless list and almost got lost in that maze of binary digits making up alphabets, pictures, videos and of course a whole lot of junk too!

Pretty soon it was four in the evening and I could hear the soft voice of my sweetheart making its way through the bed room door. It never lost its way; a minute later I was standing besides the bed looking at my girl, comfortably covered in our crimson bed sheet, with half her eyes open, with a look that betrayed how much she needs it! Her eyes were getting intense with every passing moment and the sharp gaze illuminated her face with question marks written all over. I could hear them scream, when am I gonna make the move?

Being the proverbial devoted better half, make did I, all the right moves and presented her a completely unique experience. She was in total ecstasy! Her face was glowing and I could scoop out the happiness with a random swipe of my bare hand. I was duly rewarded with one of the most admiring glances I'd ever received. She was absolutely pleased and was in fact searching for a word to compliment the moment of joy.

All I did was living up to the age old saying, "Variety is the spice of life" and that's the reason why I added three spoons of milk while making the egg bhurji which I presented to her along with a bowl of noodles.

Cooking indeed is an art of love making! :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Sandwich Surprise!

I've been keeping my back pain issue on the back burner for a while. I guess it had to wait till the time I got married since my darling wife was instrumental in finally getting me to the affirmative mode to meet the doc. We had to spend some time at the hospital campus and in between had some light snacks before we headed back home.

We reached home by afternoon and were not exactly hungry since the snacks had played a cameo to satiate the need for the hour. So we settled for the next best thing available; watch a movie with a bottle of Cranberry Breezer that was still there in our refrigerator. We shared the drink and soon my sweetheart started getting a strange feeling as the red color liquid traversed through her food pipe. It produced so much of a biological impact that soon she was screaming about the burning sensation. Being the more experienced among the two of us about the world of alcohol, I realized it is nothing but the effect of a not-so-full tummy having a tete-a-tete with the Breezer. 

A powerful alarm went off and the romantic bugger inside me was pretty shaken up! An opportunity which I believe occurs only to newly married couples! Ten minutes is all what I asked my beloved, rushed to the fridge and to my pleasure discovered a portion of beef roast in there. The pan was heated up in no time; drops of oil kissed the vessel, onions chopped in a jiffy and the dish was spiced up by squeezing half a lemon which added a peculiar tangy flavor to the dish! Three slices of bread seemed ready to receive the limited edition delicacy which was garnished with tasty tomato ketchup.

The twins of those slices covered the top and then it was time for the magical touch of all! Three lovely smileys from the family of ketchup became the face of the creation. Lo and behold! The most beautiful sandwich in the entire world was right in front of the eyes of my dear one!

She was watching me all the while from our couch and it took a solid couple of seconds for her to realize what the whole drama was about. The sandwiches smiled at her and I was greeted with the loveliest of the expressions I'd ever seen!

This is what made my girl happy:



Thursday, February 4, 2010

World of Negatives

Have you ever come across people who can speak only negative about everything? I have and as a matter of fact I'm positively blessed to be with a few of these beings whom I meet every day in my life! I call that a blessing since these are the people who make me realize how simple my life is. Thank God for that.

Cribbing, Complaining, Crying... These are a few terms that could represent this very specific state of mind. Initially when I got to hear these cribs I was genuinely concerned about the well being of these discontented souls. As time proved, this wasn't exactly the outcome of an unhappy mind. It turned out to be an addiction that led to constant and repetitive sessions that in one way of other, I presume, gives a level of satisfaction which anything else could hardly provide.

Empathy gave way to sympathy. My attempts to sympathize with these lesser mortals took various shapes. Advices, sarcasm, anger and what not! The futility of my heart-felt attempts led to sheer pity for these people. Probably what they realize not is the fact that, more you are negative about something the least possible will that look. The reality of negative energy is such that it spreads like an epidemic across the omnipresent neurons. This leads to a situation where every other possible experience of a human mind gets corrupted with these cancerous thoughts!

The worst of all scenarios is when these dear little Children of God not realizing that they are treading a path which after a while will take them to the point of no return. They won't even realize the quick sand of emotional negativity into which they get sucked in. The power of negative thoughts is indeed one of the strongest. It is so easy to be caught in this without even the slightest of the effort. The once innocent psyche gets engulfed into the claws of this fieriest of the beasts world has always faced!

I honestly appeal to all those who realize or otherwise to sit and think. Are you stepping towards the destiny you create for yourself? Learn to live a life where you find the little joys and positive self. Nurture your happiness. It is just like any other living organism. You take care; it'll grow, flower and bear fruits. You feed it with toxic thoughts, die it will, a real painful death. And mind you, it'll take you along with it!!!

Be Positive!



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How's Married Life?!!


Act 1 Scene 1 – Marriageable Age

You really could feel it when you truly want to have someone to tag along to make your life more meaningful, so they say. If you don't, in the truly Indian way your relatives have a distinct, almost patentable technique of making you feel so! It is remarkable, I must say, the manner with which even a completely disinterested person is made to say, "Yes, marriage is the most important thing I wanted to get into".
End of Act 1 Scene 1

Act 1 Scene 2 – My Decision

Fortunately, my decision to get married was not so dramatized, at least not with the involvement of family so much. But I must admit that the mission to get married definitely was, with them having a major say. Arranged marriage in my case was a concept where I subjected my decisions to objective analysis by my dear ones including parents, siblings and friends.
End of Act 1 Scene 2


Act 2 Scene 1 – Their Response

People who knew me were obviously happy about my decision. I believe my levels of enthusiasm was way up North that some of them even took an unprecedented step of trying to bring back to ground realities of marriage. Knew I did, but the wait was too long for me to accept those facts just like that. I loved all the attention and even secretly admired the fact that I could tell them that I don't have time since I'm busy chatting with my girl!
End of Act 2 Scene 1

Act 2 Scene 2 – Pre-marriage days


I sat and thoughts started flowing in. Here are a few of those educated snippets…
I really have not come across anyone in my life who has not given a thought about getting married. It is there in our blood as a need or want and the laws of Economics make all possible sense when thinking about it. Yes, I was no exception. I really wanted to and in fact was desperate to get married. I longed for a companion and did all possible things within the purview of the 'arranged marriage'. The search was on for a long time and finally I found a girl. I was all excited, naturally!
End of Act 2 Scene 2


Pseudo Act


The days got closer and we got married after two months and sixteen days from our first meeting.
End of Pseudo Act



Act 3 Scene 1 - Post-marriage

"How's married life?!" I could think of only two reasons, why this remained the only question that came our way post the D-Day. Either the world around us is so eager to hear an answer which they expect or they forgot that there are other words in Webster's that could be coined to make questions! You've only one choice of giving a socially accepted answer. You say anything other than, "fantastic" or "good" being the least, you are doomed! You cannot be realistic and have to accept the world of Utopia around you.

I felt it was pretty funny. Being married does not guarantee all these adjectives to be part of your life as a direct output of the act. The absolute irony about the whole show is the fact that, people who ask you the last-standing-question in the world and expecting the age old answer also knew this.
End of Act 3 Scene 1


Act 3 Scene 2 – My Response
 
"It’s a Roller Coaster Ride"! People who have experienced it get the point. Others who perceive that to be a mean machine will do a Jim Carrey act of eyes bulging and all. Then starts the most bizarre act in the world of being concerned about the budding relationship and major gyan sessions will follow. They'll start giving you tonnes of advices on what can be done to make life more meaningful, again!

It takes me two types of an effort to pacify these people. First, to explain what exactly is a Roller Coaster. Second to reiterate the fact that it is in fact the thrill that is the whole point! A few get convinced, rest will remain prejudiced. God bless them!
End of Act 3 Scene 2

Tail End

Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players". Somehow he missed the part where a few among the audience climbing on top of the stage and trying their best to make you do some part which they missed on their own stage!

Life's a Roller Coaster, dare not miss the thrill!



The Drama Continues…
 



Saturday, January 30, 2010

Babies make you happy, even if they're …

It was a lovely Saturday morning and winter was still playing around with the calendar sporting the last days of January. Even the Sun God seemed to be shy to fully rise and shine. While the weather was perfect to just cuddle up with my sweet heart on our lovely bed, unfortunately that was not the case to be! It was a working day for us in lieu of a compensatory off for one of the weekdays earlier that week.

As I got ready, leaving my girl to continue her engagement with the early morning dreams I was making some mental math about returning early from office in the evening. As if out of some reaction my better half suddenly decided to make a cup of coffee for me. Happy I was and I helped her with breaking a coconut so that she can make a proper breakfast, the caring husband I am!

I put on the jacket and picked up the book on Jinnah I've been reading off late and started off to the bus stop. Reached the stop and I saw none of the usual gang and then noticed the missed call on my phone. A colleague of mine tried to reach me to inform that the bus was early. I missed it! So much for the lovely winter morning, the shy Sun, the hot cup of coffee & the coconut! I was irritated was the least I could say and walked back home. Need to mention here that it is definitely a pain to miss our office bus since the travel time is almost an hour with close to 25 kilometers of distance to cover.

Reached home and with great restraint I told her that I missed my bus. The sweet little thing could make out the burning furnace behind the serene wallpaper pasted on my face then. I politely denied her offer for breakfast with a smile, the type which you get only when you are mighty pissed. I'd heard earlier that chocolates are really a stress reliever and it proved pretty much true with a Cadbury Crackle which we got the previous day disappearing in no time while I collected my helmet and got my bike to reach office.

I tried playing some songs en route that normally ease my mind in such situations, but didn't help much. A few minutes before reaching office I offered a ride to a hitchhiker who turned out to be a nursing student at a college nearby. Felt good. Reached office, parked the bike and walked towards my building. A couple of good morning wishes from the support staff whom I know made the day better. The 'furnace' didn't get switched off completely though.

Decided to take the elevator instead of the usual stairs and a wonderful sight welcomed me beyond the glass walls. A small family near the bamboo plants in our campus was busy with their breakfast. A couple of them had tiny little babies hanging on to their dad & mom and were trying to have their share of food! I forgot everything else. Watching those babies were nothing but sheer bliss! It was a lovely sight and I wished to be there forever! Acknowledging my wish or otherwise, the elevator took its own sweet time to reach my floor.

I always knew babies make you happy, realized today that it need not be humans always! I messaged my love that watching a couple of baby monkeys made me really happy for which she replied, "So now you know"!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Commando

"Oh God! When will someone ever come?!!!" The Public Address System when it aired this heart-rending cry, I was more than sure that if at all someone is gonna help them, it is not the thousands who are ready, but me! There seems to be something so naturally connecting that cry, with my need to provide an answer for the same.

I got myself ready and reported to the Chief! Somehow he seemed to be cynical about my involvement. He cited the reason as ‘unprepared’ and deferred the plan. Impatience started to set in! I for sure, wanted badly to reach the spot and extend help and do whatever I could to ease their pain!

The clock kept on ticking, so did my annoyance… Finally the much awaited order came and I descended through a secured channel of transportation. I was all set to jump right into the scene and kick start the rescue mission. There, I faced my next line of defense! The message was to the tune that I’m not cleared to engage till the field is equipped. True to say, I never got it! Then again, the options were limited.

The progress was pretty slow. Nevertheless I appreciated the tactical preparation they gave me during this phase. The lessons included the various moves, guidance on how to face the harsh realities while being caught in a maze of so unreal a world and to top it all, the sheer fact that there will be no more shield to protect me!

I was geared up and finally was in the stand by mode, for the word ‘Go’! It came during the wee hours and there I was kicking and jutting my head towards the tiny opening which exposed the real world to me and believe me or not, they have a pretty funny name for the D-Day. They call it my Birthday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In the company of solitude

I know a lot of people who say they need company for everything. It could be for a movie, a coffee at office cafeteria or even a trip to the loo! These people can neither be anywhere nor do anything, if they don't have the presence of a known face along with them. The need may arise all of a sudden. It could be at times, planned too. That raises the question of who fits the bill for a specific need. Faces of people start doing circles and the short listing process begins. Once the list of candidates is ready, phone calls or messages or pinging on the office communicators take the role of messengers.

Many a times, friends who suddenly get the call may be in between an important task. Then again friendship is more important in a good majority of cases. Of course, once a while you face a denial that could result in the question moving ahead to the person next in the list. In the eventuality of all the people who got short listed answers in negative, panic sets in. The stage changes, roles get redefined; emotions do a fly by with the sonic boom at the highest possible decibels ever! A sudden rendezvous with solitude is undesirable for them. It is an unwarranted experience and never gets appreciated, as for most of them Solitude and Company can never be brothers-in-arms! It is nothing but fear of being with the self.


I love being in company too and perhaps have one of the widest ranges of friends among my bunch so much to the extent that I get surprised about my own personality once a while! But this does not stop me from appreciating something as beautiful as the other side of being in company, so to say.

I'm not sure when exactly was that I learned to appreciate solitude. Probably, one of those striking one-liners in a newspaper which told me the difference between Solitude and Loneliness or perhaps the knowledge that poets made them a subject of their classic works! I salute them both since I learned something so magical that I could say I fear not, the love of solitude!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Glimpses of Munnar…

"Munnar?! But why?" Nine out of ten people exclaimed almost in a similar fashion when we told them about our honeymoon destination. We must say it was something short of a Herculean task to convey the thought to them that Ruby & I planned it as a trip for knowing each other rather than exploring the place! Not always did our efforts meet success and we're sure a bunch of them still think we made a wrong decision.

The convinced lot then had reservations about the time of year we planned to visit one of the most beautiful terrains in Southern part of India in the state known as God's own country. Mid December as per many was the most ridiculous time to visit Munnar. We heard them, but listening obviously does not come so naturally… :)

Kallada Travels, the transport service provider, promised to take us to Munnar but did a sly act of dropping us at Kattapana, a place two hours from Munnar. They arranged for a smaller vehicle to Munnar town from there. The unloading and loading was undoubtedly troublesome. Ruby being used to comfortable travelling couldn't endure much of the winding Ghats and an ominous picture of a hospital bed was looming large over our honeymoon dreams!

Finally, after a total travel time of twelve hours we reached the town of Munnar. The place we were heading was a resort named Camp Noel which was another forty kms from Munnar. It was in a village named 'Pazhathottam'. The resort people sent a vehicle to pick us up from the town and after an hour long drive we reached the location. Thirty kilometers stretch had proper roads and the remaining ten was virtually like climbing the hills on an SUV. In fact Camp Noel takes pride in advertising this in its website as an attraction. I'm sure it definitely is, to the hoards of foreign tourists who come visiting from a land where they've dictionaries without the word 'pothole' :)

All these and many other worries were totally wiped off, with smiling faces that received us at the entrance of the resort. The very first feeling was that these guys are smiling, not because they are trained, but they are genuine about that lovely gesture. Something unique, something different in the current world of extreme commercialization!

The weather was absolutely wonderful and we took a minute to appreciate the beauty of the entire place. Camp Noel is situated in the middle of a valley surrounded by hills on all sides. You can see layers of hills far and beyond which add to the beauty of the area. There was a club house which had the restaurant, a badminton court, a green house and the office. 8 cottages aesthetically placed with a well calculated distance that separated them made the picture perfect!

We were offered one of the most scenic cottages, which definitely added to our joy. Shortly after that we were escorted to our cottage. A refreshing bath followed by a lunch served in our room and a lovely nap made us feel fresh by evening. The 'hospital bed' was replaced by a warm and cozy bed, thankfully!

We did learn a lot about each other! The learning was so much that by the end of 3 days we learned the power of silence! :)

PS: The second place we visited was Tea Valley Resort. The website and their promise seemed out-of-the-world, but the place was so sad that I don't even feel like jotting down anything about it!


The Pictures


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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Tiffin Box

As part of a semi-pseudo health consciousness effort, we climb down the stairs of our office cafeteria every day, after breakfast. Usually there will be a bunch of friends who'll walk down together and by the time ground floor got really close to us, many would've said bye for the day. And there I was, after dropping off the last soul, continuing with my climb down. The 'Wildcraft' bag I carried started making a sound that was pretty distinct than usual. It was a day with a difference for, it was my first ever day in the Corporate life when I carried a tiffin box to office! Signs of a married man :)

Funny the way our mind takes us places. It didn't even take a fraction of a second for me to be back in a room with wooden benches and desks. Seated among a bunch of boys clad in white shirt and black trousers we were getting ready to pack our bags at the next possible moment. The atmosphere was a mixture of excitement and anxiety. The former with the thought that the bell was about to go anytime from now and soon we'll be home. The latter for fear of being caught by the teacher for closing the books before permitted! Certain risks were definitely worth taking!

Johny, the school attendant had the weird destiny of being revered & hated by the students at the same time. It is nothing but the fact that the school bell that was a big round shaped iron piece was struck using a large wooden hammer both signaling time to either enter or leave the class! Obviously we loved him when it was latter :)

When it was latter, all the while thanking Johny, it was truly unbelievable the speed with which we packed our school bags with the notebooks, instrument box and whatever stuff that were on the desk and we were out of the room in a flash! The Great Sprint followed! The faster one got out of the class the earlier he reached home. For the guys who stayed in the hostel, the rush was to reach the canteen and lay hands on the evening snacks and coffee! That 'sprint', with the bag hung on the shoulders used to create the same sound with the tiffin box and water bottle fighting for space along with the rest of the possessions inside.

The simple world of a student or the big bad corporate jungle, tiffin boxes continue to make sound. Sound that reminds you that you need to run faster to reach wherever you intend to reach, earlier the better!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Where do I fit this...!

Ruby & I have been pretty busy off late setting up our home. Taking heed from a bunch of my married friends I'd got only very few stuff for the house before the wedding. The 1BHK we hired was almost empty when we walked into our home, together for the first time! We did take our baby steps and started getting the basic gear necessary to get things going.

We kept furniture shopping towards the end. With appliances and various paraphernalia related to kitchen getting removed from the mile long list we prepared, it was time for us to get into the business of making our home guest-worthy! Thus we started our visits to the street closer to our place which was sprinkled with furniture stores. We zeroed in on a dining table and a computer table from one of the shops. We found ourselves lucky at a larger store when we came across a piece of furniture which the Indians happily call sofa-cum-bed, as naughty as it sounds!

The first store defaulted at least six times in terms of delivering the items whereas the latter was too diligent in updating us about the delivery. This was in fact a pleasant surprise for us since the first store was a specialty one whereas the second was generic. While we were thoroughly disappointed with the service of the store one, the sheer customer delight with the second compensated for that. Our sofa-cum-bed was delivered as promised. They informed that the assembling will happen the next day. We were informed the next day that, unfortunately the technician who was supposed to help us, fell sick and hence there will be a delay of one more day. While we were sad for the technician, we felt happy again about the initiative they took to keep the customer informed about the change in schedule, unlike the store one where we'd to call them each time to know that there would be additional delay!

Jalandar, the technician arrived as informed and unpacked his tool kit. He looked really professional with all the required equipments being fished out of his bag. He took a look at the packed furniture box and we missed the slight concern that flashed over his face! His question, "Is it a sofa-cum-bed?" also did not sound odd then. The pack contained multiple pieces of wood, mattress, wheels and screws which soon started occupying our living room. We watched the expert getting to the seemingly simple task of assembling the furniture. We were sure that it must be a cake walk for him; after all he was a technician from a professional organization!

The first couple of pieces were assembled with much ease and we were thrilled to see our home soon becoming even more beautiful a place to live in! Jalandar started with the next set of pieces. A small question cloud suddenly popped up above our head when he continued to gaze at the remaining pieces. The typical blank stare that appear when you are lost, was painted all over his face! He suddenly started to search for something. When asked, he said he was looking for the assembling manual but unfortunately that never came along with the furniture pack. He tried to figure out the rest of the pieces and our question cloud got bigger.

We asked what the trouble was and he gave us an incredible answer which swept off the whole professional experience about which we were really proud till a few minutes back! He said, "Sir, I joined only a week back and I've no clue how to assemble this thing"! Being dumbstruck was the least we could say. Nevertheless, we started looking at the pieces together. All the jigsaw puzzles we played when we were young and the truly awesome experience of assembling an IKEA furniture for my boss while onsite helped big time!

We did manage to solve the jigsaw together and the lovely sofa-cum-bed was ready in no time! We were indeed happy about ourselves and took our time to stand back and appreciate the new addition to our home that is all ready to receive the guests. All the thoughts about team work and motivation crossed our minds and our joy was endless! We were contented and thanked the guy for all the help. This was nothing but a true case study and we even thought of publishing it to the store as the benefits of customer and the supplier getting to work together.

Jalandar packed his tool kit and was about to leave when we noticed a medium sized piece of wood and a bunch of screws lying behind! They seemed to be giving us a wicked smile and we'll probably need to learn multiple languages to express the mixed emotions that crossed our minds! So much for the instant customer-supplier partnership funda!

Footnote: The fellow agreed to check back with the store and fix the furniture at the earliest :)

Multi-million lottery!

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