Monday, December 23, 2013

Perceptions

I remember eagerly waiting for summer vacations during school days. A whole year of classes, tests, punishments and all gets into the oblivion with the onset of long holidays. The feeling was quite similar early in the morning today when I woke up at my home in Dubai to a beautiful sight.The roads and trees were all fresh with the rare event of rains in this part of the world! Lovely drops of rain were lashing the roads and everyone driving seems to feel quite happy about not being indoors. I wanted a piece of the happiness pie as well and got ready quite quickly and headed to office. My red beauty from Toyota seems to be dancing in the rain since all what she usually gets is a bucket of water on alternate days.
 
The traffic was quite lean today with schools closed and people perhaps feeling lazy to get up from the bed in such an awesome weather. The drive to the office was very smooth and I thanked God for gifting me such a beautiful day. The excitement was even greater when I thought I’ll be onboard an aircraft in a few hours heading straight home to my sweethearts!
The half empty parking lot welcomed me and I got out inhaling the fragrance of the desert rain. It was slightly drizzling as though the Goddess of Rain was embracing me with her tender love. There were beads of raindrops that laced the border of my office building and I hopped across each time a droplet came down and playfully avoided them from hitting me. I reached office and for a moment thought of having a hot cup of tea with some breakfast which will complement the gorgeous weather, instead of my usual oats. I overcame the temptation and walked directly to my desk and unlocked it to reach for my laptop. Alas! I was greeted by an empty space. A moment of panic struck me. Losing an office laptop is not a major concern since all the work has a back-up created; nevertheless losing was scary!
My gaze was directed to the window while I tried to deduce what could’ve happened. The dark clouds outside now appeared to me like a devil with an ominous cloak on and performing some black magic ritual, the result of which poured down as drops of fire. I suddenly realized that my laptop didn’t get stolen; in fact I had taken it home last evening assuming that I may need it to do some checks for remote mail access. In all the happiness and excitement early in the morning, I conveniently forgot about it while leaving to office.
I was really upset for such an oversight. This will now mean I’ll have to drive back in the rain which now annoyed me big time. The rain drops that earlier felt like a soft feather touch, now were like sharp needles pricking me. I scolded myself for not getting an umbrella and somehow tried to protect my head with a handkerchief. The droplets continued to fall from the office building. I cursed the maintenance department for not doing a proper job. Ducking down to the falling drops and jumping across pools of water thinking about the poorly designed drainage facilities of this city, I reached where the car was parked. I was about to get in when it dawned on me that I forgot the house key in my bag that I carried to office! It didn’t matter that temperature outside was coming down closer to a single digit; I was boiling from within.
All that appeared beautiful a few moments back were turning out to be an eyesore for me. All the exhilarating experience of the rarity of rains went down the drains of despair. I went back to the office, got the home key and headed home to get the laptop. While waiting at a signal on the way I overheard the last bit of a conversation between my heart and my mind.
Heart said, “I was jumping up and down with joy a moment back and now I don’t even feel that I’m moving.” Mind replied, “It is all about perceptions my dear”. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happiness!

Two more days and I’ll be off for Christmas to my hometown in Kerala from this desert kingdom of Dubai. Told my colleagues, friends and the folks in the apartment complex as well. They all wished me ‘happy journey’. The day before travel, I was having lunch at the office cafeteria. I mentioned casually to the waiting staff about my trip. His service was exemplary as usual. At the end he gave me the bill, smiled at me and said ‘happy journey’. I felt a difference this time. I felt happiness! :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day of Purple!

Liya woke up to the sound of her pretty little alarm. Her house seems to be quite different today missing the usual hustle and bustle of a normal week day. Instead of the usual sounds from the kitchen she could feel the silence in her home which seems to be holding its breath as though not to wake up anyone even with a slightest sound.

She peeped into the hallway and was surprised to see darkness still there with all the curtains drawn. Her parents were fast asleep, but Josa, her brother who shares his room with a number of gadgets seems to be lost in one of his powerful telescopes. He was considered as a young genius in inter-planetary communication. She tip-toed to his room to check what is happening. On any other day he would’ve shouted at her to be out of his ‘experiment lab’ which is the name he had given to his room. She was instead surprised when her brother with a grave face called her in and showed her the breaking news that one of the channels were airing.
Yet another launch! She heard her brother saying, this time it is very interesting to observe that it is a sequel to the previous attempt which almost exposed their lives, unknown to the rest of the universe. It is a humble yet powerful nation in the ‘Blue Planet’ which has set forth with their latest vehicle. Among all the things she liked the name of the space shuttle; it was called ‘Mangalyaan II’. The previous attempts to probe their home, which people in Earth call as the ‘Red Planet’ alias MARS had all been successfully encountered or re-directed by a team of scientists with whom Josa spends considerable amount of time.
Though she could see the tension on her brother’s face one thing made Liya happy. As the case was in the previous such incident, a global holiday was declared with governments across thinking hard on how to tackle this latest invasion. It had to be a strategic maneuver, just like what was done earlier so that the rest of the world should not be aware of such a fully flourished Martian civilization living below the red surface of the planet.The whole of Martian race is sustained by the extraordinary scientific and technological brilliance that at times they need to remind themselves not to get too carried away by narcissism.
Josa recollects what happened with a major incident of incursion from the NASA where a four wheeled toy named Spirit landed on the surface of MARS more than a decade ago. It generated enormous amounts of concerns that a global crisis center was set up to deal with the grave danger. Strategists across the planet were sent for and the advanced brains in the science community worked overtime to figure out a subtle but effective way of defending this well-kept secret from the rest of the universe.
All that was history and now this latest incident proves to be the greatest of the challenges the planet has ever faced. The attempt is from a nation that has always been considered ‘developing’ by the mighty powers on the face of Earth. Little did anyone notice how steady the growth of this country had been. It has proved to be so good that they have become the first country from Planet Earth to attempt sending a human being to Mars!
Josa had learned that there was a sole traveler on board on the space vehicle, Mangalyaan II. It was a matter of time before it reached the gravitational surface of Mars and for the first human being to touch down on the red soil. He was contacted earlier by the scientific community which had formed a ‘Think Tank’ on how to create a sustainable protection for the planet of Mars especially from the intrusion from other planetary beings. ‘Operation Code Red’ was drawn and is currently put in place to pre-empt any invasion such as the upcoming vehicle from Earth.
Months passed by and the plan was fully executed awaiting the final approach of the vessel. Josa had the privilege of being outside the perimeter of the Martian territory and was taking a ride on his favorite Red Bike which allowed him to traverse the surface of Mars at ease. Operation Code Red had started transmitting powerful seditious signals covering the approach track of Mangalyaan II. The signals were intended to confuse the binary code package that forms the brain of most of the advanced space technology from Earth. From the latest news that was captured from the Earthly media, the signals are doing exactly what was intended to do. Mangalyaan II reported certain technical failures, the reason for which is largely unknown to the scientists back in Earth. They are trying their best to steer the vessel on its right course and ensure the safety of the lone astronaut on board.
Dr Lena Jain, has already become a celebrity back on Earth being the brave soul who took up this assignment of travel to the unknown. She had always been the odd one in the family who was quite used to taking risks that no one else even dared to. Many of them were failures but the successes she had, outweighed the bitter taste of failures. The feeling of success made her intoxicated that each time she aimed higher.
While the on board computers started acting funny, Lena was thinking about how she overcame the stiff resistance from her family when she announced her decision to be part of Mangalyaan II. Everyone said she’s getting into a suicidal mission. Everyone except her dad tried persuading her to withdraw from the plan. There was no pressure whatsoever from the Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO] which was instrumental in this mission to Mars stretching the limits which no other country on Earth had ever attempted before. In fact they were quite surprised when she conveyed her decision. She had an unusually strong will which ultimately landed her the captain’s hat on the Mars Orbiter, the official name of the mission.
Lena was not sure what was happening to the systems when the final approach was set in. All the complex machines around her started giving warning signals. The compass seemed to be going berserk though she could not feel any unusual rotation of the spaceship. She knew something was wrong but did not panic. What’s the point in panicking when you are prepared for the worst? She had accepted all possible odds in this travel. There were more chances of failure than success. Nevertheless she was quite happy for being the only human being who has reached so near the planet of Mars. Her communication channels with the space centre back home was still open and she knew that an entire planet was praying for her. The world suddenly became her family and she had relatives all over the globe!
The vessel was fast approaching its destination. The warning sounds in the cockpit had become quite intense that she had to put on her ear plugs and depend only on the signals appearing on the screen. Everything seemed to be going haywire that she started feeling a bit eerie about the whole atmosphere around her. It was a matter of few minutes before Mangalyaan II touched down on the surface of Mars creating history. Her excitement levels had never been so high that she literally punched the air amidst all the confusion around. All of a sudden the warning sounds stopped and the communication line back with the space centre got cut off. She couldn’t hear even a tiny bit of sound. It was as though someone had clothed her with a blanket made of absolute silence! She could see from her windscreen an entire planet awaiting her visit and extending her a red carpeted welcome, literally.
Josa was taking a wild turn near one of the deepest trenches on the Martian surface when he saw a feeble blinking light from the North East direction. That was something totally new to him since it was neither a star nor one of the satellites he was so familiar with. This has to be it, the visitor from Earth. He was surprised that Mangalyaan II could surpass the signal jamming attempts and managed to enter the atmosphere of Mars. As he awaited the final stages of approach he received a warning signal stating transmission of a powerful electromagnetic field over the surface of Mars attempted to disable all electronic devices on the surface. He promptly switched off his device so as to save it from structural damage due to electromagnetic waves.
While he was on it, Josa saw the spaceship and did a mental math of its speed. He knew it was approaching quite fast and as expected crashed on the surface of Mars. He also knew that whatever equipment that were available on the spaceship will no longer be useful due to the powerful magnetic waves that would’ve disabled everything creating a dangerous proposition to the human being inside as well.
He knew he couldn’t wait for the search party to arrive and had to rush to the space shuttle. As he was about to reach for the door Lena stepped out and fell on the floor of Mars losing her consciousness. Her oxygen apparatus had stopped working and the surface of Mars offered very less in terms of inhalable air. Josa was quick to take her to a XO chamber, standing for eXtreme Oxygen, specially built on the Martian surface for emergencies involving people of Mars since they also needed this precious gas for survival.
It was a matter of minutes before Lena opened her eyes. The last thing she expected was to see a handsome young man extending a warm hand holding a steaming cup of coffee. Startled of course she was, but took the cup from Josa who introduced himself. Josa knew it’ll be sometime before the search party arrived locating the point of impact by the space vessel. He wanted to have a quick conversation with this specimen from Earth who was courageous enough to travel all the way across and finally managed to land on the Red Planet.
Josa and Lena got along pretty well. Two young and brilliant minds shared many ideas they had and the most important one was the welfare of their respective races. It didn’t take much time for Lena to picture the survival strategy of Martians and she also figured out the apparent criticality they were facing with the reduced levels of Oxygen production.
People of Mars had figured out long back that the Oxygen levels they had on Mars was way too low for generations to survive. Unless they figured out a way to produce further Oxygen their very race itself faced total elimination from the history of Universe. The supremely brilliant minds were set to work immediately and needless to say they found an alternative.
The water tables of Mars had a feature similar to Earth but in a reverse manner though. The water in Mars mostly was fresh in nature whereas only one third was saline. The analysis led to the discovery of extracting a magical element from the salt in sea water and generating Oxygen out of that. While the discovery was majorly lauded across the planet, the question always remained of the limited availability of sea water which will eventually prove to be insufficient on the long run.
They were amidst this dilemma when Mangalyaan II was announced as a global threat and the attention immediately got shifted to this new intrusion. Lena’s mind was working quite fast all throughout the conversation and was quick to identify the process of extracting the magical element from sea water. A realization dawned on her in the likes of revelation for St John or enlightenment for Buddha!
She shared her thoughts with Josa on creating a sustainable inter-planetary survival package. The whole idea was based on utilizing the sea water from Earth which was available in plenty and extracting the magical element which will provide a sustainable Oxygen generator for zillions of years for the people of Mars. In return, the tremendously intelligent brains of Mars will devise a strategy to transport the fresh water back to Earth where it was much needed.
It was the birth of a galactic brilliance which promised a renewed hope for both the planets! The day henceforth will be called ‘Day of Purple’ when the people on the Blue and Red planets joined hands to realize the importance of collaborative community living proclaiming to the universe the brotherhood of love!
Let there be peace in the universe!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Crime of Comparison

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Dec 2013
 
Some of us probably grew up facing questions such as these, “Have you ever seen him doing this? Or Why don’t you learn from her? Or What is that we don’t provide you that you can’t score like her?” Human beings are born with an innate nature to compare and see what can be made better. Unfortunately in certain cases the comparison does a lot of damage to a person that it even affects the psyche.
 
Comparisons during childhood have many a times proved to be negatively influencing a child than motivating to perform better. It becomes even worse when this concept finds its way into the life of a married couple. I remember a joke that I read in one of the national dailies a while ago. It says, ‘People always regret buying a new phone or getting married. This is because of an afterthought that they could’ve waited for a better model’! With a phone the afterthought is excused, but not with the latter.
Many of us still complain about the material aspects of life. The complaints range from the food that was cooked or dressing/grooming tastes or gifts that are bought or not bought for each other on occasions. Family and friends come into picture when these comparisons are worked out. A man could be complaining about a dish that would’ve been prepared better by his mom or the not so upgraded wardrobe of his wife. The woman will have complaints of how her wish remains unfulfilled to have a three stone diamond set just like what her best friend was gifted by her better half during their anniversary.
What people do not realize is the fact that with each of these comparisons you cease to respect the other person in your life the way they are. When you respond, “I do”, come what may, to the priest, what you mean is an unconditional “I do”. This is one clause that should not come with a * that says ‘Conditions Apply’. You cannot say that I thought she’ll cook like my mom or he’ll buy me what I wish or she’ll love all my friends or he’ll be exactly like my dad or brother who were such guardian angels to me.
You agree to a new life with a whole lot of uncertainties which is part of any life, married or otherwise. In marriage you in fact get a bonus of an additional pair of hands to hold you through these uncertainties provided you accept this as a blessing. The moment you start expecting your sweetheart to be like someone else you are in fact killing his/her self. Ask yourself, do you want to make a clone of your spouse by having the best of all what you have seen among your family and friends? On the contrary you let your partner-for-life be that. Just like the partners in a doubles game of tennis trusting each other with their abilities so that they take the game forward together to win the match.
The biggest gift you could offer to your better half is the trust you have on him/her. The moment the significant other in your life realizes that you trust him/her more than anyone else, a strong foundation gets laid. Being married is not a thing of the past. It is a present continuous process for future. You learn every day. You may even be surprised after ten years of being together to know a totally new character of your spouse since people seldom remain the same over a period of time. So the test of time is something every couple will face in their life. Bestowing your trust on each other is the only way you take this life happily forward.
Remember, to compare is a crime. You are here as a pair to trust and love each other so that you respect the other self and thereby yourself.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Push!

Year 2001, first year in the new millennium and I was happily walking towards the terrace of my college hostel in Coimbatore along with a bunch of my friends. We were to attend the flag hoisting ceremony to mark the 54th year of Mountbatten handing over the baton of power to Nehru.
 
The college principal being the ex-officio warden of our hostel was the one to hoist the flag. The ceremony was done with due reverence in the presence of hundreds of hostel inmates. The hostel building which reminded me of the cellular jail in Andaman, though not exactly in terms of the structure, was capable of accommodating more than 400 students. A learned discourse followed in perfect Tamil when the principal of course highlighted the struggle our forefathers had gone through to get us this freedom which we now enjoy free of cost.
Being my first year in Tamil Nadu and not that proficient in Tamil yet, I experienced the same struggle my forefathers did to perhaps understand the emotional words of wisdom that came out from the veteran principal. Nevertheless since patriotism does not need a language to describe I could still manage to figure out the critical aspects of his speech.
It was customary for someone from the hostel to give a return address after the principal finishes his speech. I was standing right in front of the crowd who had gathered in a circle around the flag pole. I could see a whole bunch of seniors and super seniors standing right behind me and was expecting any one of them to start with their return address.
Those were the days when you were expected to be quite respectful towards your seniors lest invite their wrath which will prove to be pretty difficult to survive in the hostel later. Hence seniors used to be in the limelight for all possible functions and juniors will await a day when their turn will come for taking the centre stage. Such thoughts went through my mind and were probably even thinking of a day when I’ll step forward to give a wonderful speech filled with patriotism uplifting the spirit of the nation and reminding everyone to be thankful to our previous generations for the freedom we enjoy today!
What happened next was not even in my wildest of the dreams! All I remember was feeling a very powerful hand right on my back which pushed me to the centre of the circle where the principal was eagerly awaiting for someone to come forward to give the return address. All these happened in a flash that it took a few seconds for me regain my composure. I could suddenly feel 400 pairs of eyes directly staring at me as if an animal of prey is about to pounce on its victim! All my words that formed the soul stirring speech that was part of my day dream a moment ago seem to have gone into an eternal hiding. I could not even utter a single syllable; forget about natural flowing sentences which have to be contextual as well.
Guess times like these generate a very specific hormone in human body which initially creates an excessive amount of fear which either turns you into a zombie-like mental state or wakes up the Phoenix within you which arises from the ashes of the fear that is burned! Goddess of fortune was with me on that day and out came the very first extempore I delivered in my life till then.
The Phoenix continues its flight till date and I’m happy for that hand-of-God that pushed me to the unknown territories which I explored quite heavily afterwards...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mothers - The Natural Managers!

I was preparing to get back to work after a long leave of more than two weeks. Office restarts the next day and I thought of refilling the empty grocery stands at home by paying a visit to the hypermarket. I knew it’ll be a bulk purchase and it made sense to go there. The visit was initially planned for during the day but having a little one at home does not always help with sticking to the plan. It was close to 8 o’ clock in the evening by the time we decided to go out. The kid was given a bath and was dressed up to go out. I then went in for a quick bath and by the time I came out the little one was leaning to his mom and had started to doze off.

My sweetheart asked me to reduce the volume of the TV where she was watching one of her favorite shows. As a pseudo time conscious husband, I promptly switched off the TV asking her to go ahead and wash herself so that we can leave without much delay. Guess that’s the moment when she promptly switched over to her management hat.
I was all set to go out as soon as she was ready so that we can return early after finishing the shopping. That’s when she asked me a seemingly innocent question. “What exactly do we need for tomorrow?” I started with a list I had in my mind. Milk, bread, fruits, juice, eggs, vegetables… By the time I finished the list, as if using a magical wand she had already prioritized the items as, critical to have, should have and nice to have.
She identified that there’s one apple left in our fruit tray which I could take to office tomorrow. She could have a pomegranate that was still there or watermelon in the fridge. She promptly remembered the idly batter that was also chilling out in the fridge and mentally mapped her breakfast and my lunch to that, solving that question as well.  A couple of eggs that remain will do for tomorrow just as the case with some of the left over dishes that she can have for lunch. The only thing that remained and critical was milk.
Hypermarkets obviously take longer time with the variety of options they offer that make you drag through the store as well as the long queues awaiting you at the cash counter. Round-the-corner supermarkets always offer a warm welcome for quick buy and it is no surprise that she could visualize the milk cans sitting nicely on the refrigerated shelves of the nearby supermarket.
As I was ready to go, the most natural thing for me to say was, “Ok then, I’ll go and get the milk from the supermarket”. She thought for a moment and said, “If it is only for the milk, why don’t you just give them a call and get it delivered? We can get the rest of the stuff tomorrow either on your way back from office or we can go together”. 
A whole day of planning to go to hypermarket was reduced to a phone call in a matter of couple of minutes. Oh yes, she promptly put the baby to bed and switched on the TV. Her favorite show was still on.
I bowed to the brilliance of the natural born management genius and I knew for sure that it is not the B-school where she had gone that taught her this!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Love

The morning was quite as usual. This small town where she was married to has now become her world. She has learned to fall in love with the quiet neighborhood and the simple people at her in-laws’ place. The one who brought her here is a proud son of India fighting for the country. Serving the nation was not alien to her since she grew up with her dad being part of the police force. All this has taught her what to expect from a spouse. She never complained, though felt a pain once a while for not having enough of him.
 
She remembered the conversation with him last night. He was miles away from the homeland in one of the tiny island countries in the Pacific. It was a training duty to prepare the men of the sea for any eventualities. His life in the Navy always demanded such extreme training measures. Swimming in the sea has always been a cake walk for him and he used to be quite confident about that. Nevertheless she asked him to be careful. Prompt came his reply, “Why do you even bother dear? Sea is like mom. I’ll be as safe as lying on her lap while cutting across the waves”.That made her smile though her hands naturally reached out to the rosary and prayed to the Mother of all, the one that has always been her solace especially during the times when he had to be away from her.
It was mid-afternoon and she was a bit annoyed that he had not called yet. Then again she thought the training could have been day long and that’s not unusual. She was quite sure of a call as soon as he could reach a phone. They’ve been married for over a year now and though the times spent together were less, they both felt the connection. For this they didn’t need any endorsement of a Platinum Day of Love.
She prepared for the evening prayers as was customary in most of the Catholic families. By the time she was half way through the prayers, her mind started wandering with thoughts of why the call never came. She could feel that she is starting to get worried. A full day without a call had never happened before unless he had told her in advance. She tried to put her thoughts to rest and finished the prayers in full faith.
There was no number where he could be reached. All what she could do was wait. She picked up the very exciting book which was half finished. Somehow it didn’t seem to generate interest anymore. She skimmed through the pages like in a dream. Stories about defense personnel have always been her choice and this book was no different. The main character was a Navy personnel himself and had left his wife and their newborn for a combat mission. A few days of action and at the end of an anticipated day of return of the war hero, she received two uniformed military officers at her home.
The officers were carrying a small case with them wrapped in a national flag. She had read about this in multiple books and seen enough movies to understand what that means. Her hero is now part of nation’s history of its fight against evil. Her heart skipped a beat but her eyes never gave her away. She remembered his statement and told herself, “Lie down on your mother’s lap my sweetheart. Sleep well. Your country is proud of you. So am I”.
Her in-laws tried to console her. But she knew that she was in a dream. A dream from which she’ll never wake up...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Question

Shortly after I reached office one morning, I messaged my wife asking if she had her breakfast. I wanted to ensure that she does not delay it like she often does. I had to resort to a quick message since I was getting into a meeting which went on for more than an hour. By the time I came out of the meeting and could call her it was almost 11:00 AM. 
 
She picked up the call and knew that I was going to ask the same question that I do every other morning. Even before I could put the question forward she promptly came up with a statement that she fed our little one and was about to have her breakfast. I tried a different strategy today and so instead of asking her to be regular with breakfast and all sorts of advice, I thought about a simile and started off like this…
“Sweetheart, do you remember the road rollers we had back in our home town? Not the recent ones but the really old ones which were quite tall and gigantic in stature.”
“Yes, of course!” she said.
I continued, “These huge machines have wheels made of rock which is used to crush the metal pieces along with asphalt laid on the roads. You may have noticed that these large sized wheels get quite dry after a while. To ensure that the flattening of roads happen in a smooth manner,there will be one person, a man or a woman applying water on these rock wheels from time to time.
They risk getting their hands in between the wheel and its rim but this is critical for the operation. Else this humongous vehicle will come to a halt leaving the work unfinished. You see how important is water for the continuous operation of a road roller? It is absolutely necessary to feed it with water so that it can continue to work in full capacity. I want you to understand that breakfast is one such vital thing and it is very important that you have it on time. Ensure that you feed yourself and not just our little one so that your health does not get affected.”
I could imagine her nodding her head and smiling at the other end of the phone. But after a couple of moments of silence, I was totally speechless when she asked me a question, “So you think I’m like a road roller?!”
Dedicated to all good-hearted husbands! :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Journey of a Coke can

Do you remember the case of the missing Coke Can in MyCoke My Pain? That little kid who lost his first ever Coke can before he could even take a second sip had always wondered where that can went. What would’ve happened to that little red aluminium wonder on that fateful day of his life?He left the can in the briefing room of a ship as it was too cold and on return found out to his dismay that the wonderful gift he received only a few minutes back was no longer to be seen!

If you are also wondering what happened to the Coke can that day and the emotions it went through from that moment onwards let me invite you to embark on the journey of the Coke can…
The Coke can sat there on the table with a heavy heart trying to understand what just happened. He was quite happy a moment ago with the kid who was all excited to see a can for the first time in his life. The next moment the can was left in company of lots of unanswered questions. The can was totally annoyed with the sailor who took him noticing the open lid. It was decided that the can is no longer required and was given an unceremonious adieu to the military trash container present on the ship. After a few hours he found himself being hoisted from his temporary graveyard and presented to a larger set of orphans. These included half bitten apples, left over juices, tissue papers that were once clean and filled with fragrance which now lie among these unwanted elements which the humans call, trash.
He reflected upon his life while being there in the unpleasant environment awaiting his destiny. A few moments back, he was perched high on a pile of similar beings inside a four walled building which was quite cold. The cold penetrated through his aluminium body and made his blood inside chill. He had heard several times,human beings say, the likes of him tasted better when their blood is chilled and that’s the reason why they’re kept inside this high-walled jail for which they’ve a funny name too, refrigerator.
The jail was a happening place. All the while he could see one by one his friends and relatives saying good-bye and new ones joining the army. They say you are destined for delivering your life blood to the humans. They need a daily quota for survival and you are fulfilling a major void for them. How much moregratifying can your life be? Before even he knew, the day came when it was time for him to deliver.
He was presented in his entire royal splendor with red velvet coat and regal white stripes to a little boy who was looking at him with eyes filled with wonder. He was quite amused to see the emotions of surprise, curiosity and happiness in the boy’s eyes and realized that he was being presented to a virgin! What a destiny! He was dreaming of satisfying the young palette of the little boy and of course he did as soon as the tap of joy was opened. A small portion of his life blood which was chilled to perfection slid down the winding paths of the young adult mouth floor.The dark brown colored liquid found its way through layers of taste buds, tickling the sensations of taste and bringing the little one almost to the verge of an ecstasy! He felt he has begun to fulfill his destiny.
A few moments after this glorious achievement he was placed back on the table and the boy was accompanied out of the room along with the family. He could not understand why. He could see the longing eyes of the boy trailing back at him, though his screams pleading to be taken along with seems to have been unheard. He then felt the hands of the sailor around him. For a moment he thought he’ll be rejoined with the little kid but the trip was to end in the trash container along with his dreams of fulfilling the needs of a young human being and thereby achieving his destiny.
He was shaken up from his thoughts when the larger waste container was moved to some other place. After a few hours of being transported to some location he saw the light coming back with the container’s lid opened again. His roommates were separated and he was taken to an awful looking machine with large teeth and claws which seems to be filled with malice. He was soon put on a conveyer belt and was traversing down a lane which he thought was quite cool. Little did he realize that at the end of the belt there awaited him the deadly jaws of the crushing machine for which the conveyer belt was the arm that led the captives, in the disguise of a trip to paradise.
All his fears came true with death staring right at him through the gleaming teeth of the crusher which seem to be waiting to devour him alive! He could not even cry and before even he said Our Father one last time the hands of death squeezed the last drop of the life blood he had and pushed him to the other side of the world, or so he felt.
Surprise! He was not dead! Alive he was, though something seemed to be different. He had lost his red velvet gown and the white stripes. He now had a silvery sheen with a mat finish and people started calling him a new name, an aluminium sheet. He was taken to a larger storage area minus the cold seeping in and he could make out that it is not a refrigerator. He learned from his fellow beings that they were in a storage space for aluminium sheets which is used to manufacture cans. He was assured that he’ll soon regain his red velvet gown and the white stripes and will have his life again which he thought he lost. This was good news for him and he longed to see the little kid again as well.
Years went by; he changed his shape multiple times over and again. He fulfilled the lives of many a human beings but was never happy since he was still in search for the pair of eyes that looked at him with so much of awe and happiness years back. He was getting weary every time he saw new digits replacing the years in a calendar.
He was presently relaxing in the chilled mode with his red robe and white stripes inside a refrigerator on a large oil tanker. It has been two decades since he met that kid and the memories of that incident in a ship was promptly brought back to him the moment he got to know that his latest assignment will be on a tanker. He was deep in his thoughts when he could hear some faint voices reaching the room where he was placed. This being the captain’s room it is quite normal for visitors to join and he had seen his friends and relatives being carried away for fulfilling their duties.
There were three men. They all seem to be tired after a tour of the ship in the hot weather of the Middle Eastern country they were in. He heard a voice suddenly saying, “Hey bro, do you remember the Coke story that happened long back?” The captain seemed to have taken a couple of moments to respond. But when he did, he sounded quite excited and said, “Of course, feel free to have one now”.
What happened next was too good to be true that he felt the doors of heaven being opened when the owner of the first voice opened the refrigerator. The man picked up his friend first but later decided to pick him instead and looked at him with such wonderful eyes with the same intensity of happiness and love that he had seen twenty years back.
It was him!
Tail end: He discovered later that the captain of this ship was the little kid’s cousin who was there along with him when they first met.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lessons from School Dropouts

Have you ever had an experience with the school dropouts you interact every day, which made you ask the question, is my college education worth anything? Some of these guys are so smart in striking a deal that I feel every Business School need to have a course of practical wisdom. Talking to these folks will provide you with such insights which no university in this world can offer.
 
Our Middle Eastern stint crossed its second year and we had planned to shift our house. We found a place and planned to shift in the next couple of weeks. While being there checking out the house and talking to the main security guard about the details of rent and other facilities I met one of the cleaners there named Gani. He approached me earnestly and put across a request to give him my car for regular washing and almost politely asserted that I give only to him. I didn’t commit anything that day since the rate he was quoting was quite high that what I was expecting.
 
A couple of days later when I revisited the apartment, there was another security guy who also requested me to give him the car for washing. When I informed him that I am already in talks with Gani, he said we’ll somehow work that out though the rate this guy quoted wasn’t any different either.
 
We moved in to the new apartment while the negotiations were on, with respect to the rate of washing the car. Gani seemed to have made some progress showing some flexibility while the other guy was busy showcasing all his worries in life and trying to prove a point that why I should pay him the same amount as he initially quoted. After a few days even he had decided to bring down his stakes. But that’s when the brilliance of a deal breaker was seen from Gani!
 
When I came out in the morning, the day when I was supposed to finalize a rate for the car wash between the two guys, I saw the car waiting for me, sparkling clean! Standing beside my bright red dazzling beauty was Gani with a smile on his face with the confidence of a deal breaker. I asked him that we never finalized the rate, but he gave me such an answer with which I was so convinced about his capability to wipe out the competition with a swift move! He said, “Are you happy with the work sir? We’ll talk about the rate later”.
 
The deal was his and a fair one for me too!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Surprise!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - April 2013


As customary to anyone in the IT industry, we also look forward to the weekends to unload the bags that seem to be always full with never ending work during the week. On one such weekend, in between a drive to one of the numerous shopping malls in this desert country, I was casually mentioning to my wife about the good old evening snacks made of rice and how long it had been since we had one.

The weekend went by and we were back to the grind of the weekdays’ schedule. During the mid of the week on an unusually busy and hectic day I reached home even more tired than usual. I had already complained to my wife about how the day was progressing and guess it was quite obvious how disturbed I was when I reached home. All what I wanted was to hit the bed and have a good night’s sleep. Nevertheless we sat down as usual for our evening tea. All of a sudden I saw a casserole appearing from nowhere on the table. That was something very strange since we usually had some biscuits or so along with the tea. I was totally puzzled. She asked me to go ahead and open the lid and I promptly followed the instruction.

It is not an exaggeration if I say whatever complaints I had during that horrendous day just vanished into thin air seeing what was there on the table awaiting me! What was a casual reference to the rice snacks during the previous weekend was there right in front of me. I was elated to the ninth heaven with this absolutely unexpected treat from my beloved! That made my day and needless to say how relaxed I had been after receiving such a lovely surprise.

Many a times what we do not realize is the fact that surprises need not be expensive. We really do not have to think about the diminishing bank balance or increasing credit card limit while planning for a surprise to your loved ones. If you are truly in love, a simple act of surprise will have an even greater value than what the price tag says. It is the intention that matters and not the content.

I honestly believe that everyone in this world loves surprises, of course pleasant ones. This is all the more important while you are married since this is an essential way of showing how much you care and love each other. When you surprise your partner, with a planned gift or otherwise, it shows that you spent some time to think about the significant other in your life.

I keep hearing people ask the question, ‘How is life’? Surprises you get and give in your life helps you answer that question with an emphatic ‘Great’ or ‘Awesome’ whereas a life deprived of these will be one of the most mundane way of living that you have nothing new to be happy about.

What is important and needs to be kept in mind is that surprises can take any form. It need not necessarily be a gift which means surprises are not always to be bought from somewhere and given to your sweetheart. You will be surprised to see how a genuine compliment that you give your partner is more valuable than an expensive gift you would’ve purchased. So are acts of love like a simple hug at an unexpected moment, doing a household chore that you generally leave to your partner and a support given by identifying and encouraging a skill or a talent in your better half. At times these unplanned and non-budgeted surprises will have an even more lasting impact than their expensive counterparts.

Be aware of the value these surprises bring to our daily life and how much of an impact does it have on our physical and emotional well-being. It is quite natural that in the modern day frantic lifestyle you tend to forget to give surprises to each other. At the risk of sounding a bit mechanical it may even be a good idea to maintain a surprise log on which you will mark each time you give a surprise. One look at it will remind you when was the last time you gave a surprise to your dear ones.

Life is like a jukebox which plays the song you want for the amount you insert. Why then not play the song of life by inserting a few surprises here and there. It is only for a short while that we are here, make it worthwhile!

Ask yourself the question, “When was the last time you surprised your loved ones?”

Sunday, April 7, 2013

For the love of airports

Picture this scene:

Timeline: 1988 - 1998

Wake up call: 2 AM

Time to get ready: 30 minutes

Pick up vehicle arrives: 2:30 AM

Destination: 135 kilometers from home

Task Assigned: Receive guests

Return home: 7:30 AM

For any person who reads this, the above mentioned activity could sound quite mundane. For me this was a far cry from being a boring task. In fact I’d looked forward for days together for this very special day to arrive. I am proud to say that I’d done this multiple times and with each time the interest levels had only gone up!

As strange as this may sound, the scene above was a reference to one of my most favorite days of the year. This was when I would get a chance to go to the airport to receive an uncle and family who used to come visiting once a year from one of the Gulf nations. Needless to say I was thrilled to see my uncle, aunt and cousins after a long gap of one year. The obvious anxiety of the gifts they would’ve brought made the trip even more appealing. But, what made it such an anticipated event was the fact that I could get to see the airport again after a year!

I do not exactly remember when I developed such a passion for airports and aircrafts. As many other kids, I also remember rushing out of my home hearing the humming of an aircraft engine. Day or night didn’t matter. The height at which the aircraft was flying didn’t even bother me. All what I wanted was to catch a glimpse of the metal bird. There was even a competition between my brother and me on who spots the plane first. It was considered a skill to follow the sound and look at the right direction to identify the aircraft. We’ll be rewarded with a gleaming tiny silver bird or flashing red and green lights depending on what time of the day you spot the aircraft.

Airports were even more fascinating where you could watch multiple such moving wonders in action. All the activities surrounding an aircraft generated so much of curiosity in me that I even doubted at times if I was addicted to this concept. I distinctly remember the visitors’ lounge on the upper floor of the airport building which could be accessed by paying an amount which was not that small. That’s where you could wait and watch the people disembarking from the aircraft on arrival [these were the pre-aerobridge days] as well as see them walking towards the aircraft on departure.

Unlike the heights of happiness experienced during arrival when I could see the airport as well as meet my relatives, departure created mixed emotions. I was happy that I could see the airport again though the happiness is shadowed by the fact that uncle and family were leaving. My cousin used to say that he’ll open the window pane and wave at me after he boards the flight. Those were the days when I used to believe that people who are aboard the aircraft could see everyone standing at the visitors’ lounge and wave at them. The inverse relation between distance and vision never really rang a bell then! I could see hands waving from the tiny oval shaped windows on the aircraft and I always believed it was my cousin bidding farewell to me. It was a beautiful feeling and a painful one too.

Memories are plenty about aircrafts too. One of the most mesmerizing scenes etched deeply in my mind was during the Sri Lankan civil war. I was completing my tea and biscuits on one of the most beautiful evenings a couple of decades back. I could suddenly hear a distinct buzz of rotors. What was even stranger was the depth of the sound generated by the blades and I could figure out that it is more than just one chopper. I had already dashed to the backyard of my home and was expecting to see two helicopters flying together. The air space above our small town was not that regularly visited by a chopper, let alone two of them!

What happened next was a chapter directly out of the biggest of the dreams I would’ve ever had! That tiny little town, where one of highest decibels of sound is created by a road roller crushing the granite during road construction, witnessed the mother of all strange sights. We were blessed with a glorified view of a full-fledged military operation with a large group of helicopters doing a fly by right above my head! I was flummoxed to say the least! It was one of the best experiences of a life time to watch all those grey colored metal species unique to the world of aviation whizzing past my home with their blades in action as if they were waving at me. Guess that one sight filled me with so much of happiness that I never wanted any gifts for the next several months :)

The love of airports have grown with me and it is a pleasant surprise when I look back and realize now that I am living my dream, working right next to one of the best airports in the world here at Dubai International for one of fastest growing airlines in the world, Emirates!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Coke, My Pain

Being a bank employee my dad was eligible to avail annual leave travel concession. Since the annual concession will only be for a very minimal amount, we used to combine the holidays over a period of five years which helped us cover more distance with a larger amount at disposal. One such trip was to Visakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command. Mom’s brother was a commander in Navy and obviously they were our host for the vacation that year.

My brother and I had great company there with two of our cousin brothers who were almost the same age as us. We did have quite a lot of fun together day and night with games throughout, even ignoring the warning from the parents to sleep at night. I remember watching a black and white movie named Victoria over and again for multiple times at a stretch which today seems like an absolutely crazy thing to do! We didn’t care. We were having one of the best vacations ever!

The highlight of the vacation of course was a visit to the naval yard where uncle took us to the wonderful world of Indian Navy. I was excited and equally proud to be visiting a war ship! I could imagine multiple pairs of eyes, green with envy, looking at me when I get back to school and narrate all the wonderful stories to my friends. Truly this was meant to be an experience that was unique to me and something which no one else could’ve shared.

The dock was colored gray with multiple naval ships stationed there. Uncle took us to his ship and opened the fascinating world of Indian military for us! We were welcomed aboard by a couple of white naval uniform clad gentlemen. They promptly took us to a briefing room sort of arrangement and told us a few things we need to know while being on the ship. We were to mind the heights of the doors since they were pretty low which naturally didn’t apply to me. Small mercies of being a little kid :)

A few additional instructions were given and while this was going on another smart officer entered the chamber. He carried a tray with him on which was placed one of the most enticing sights I’ve ever experienced till then. Four bright colored cans painted with the legendary red color on which that magical word was written – Coke! That was my first ever introduction to Coke and a carbonated drink sealed in aluminium can!

The can was chilled to perfection to ensure that the beverage tasted the best. All the known definitions till date about chilled drinks suddenly seemed dated! I was so thrilled to see a can for the first time in my life that I was enjoying the beauty of it rather than trying to open and taste the drink. The officer suggested that it was time we took a tour of the ship. He must’ve noticed how amused I was about the can that he specifically said that I could take the can along with me.

The can was quite cold that I could hardly hold it with my bare hand. Mom being protective about her little one suggested that we’ll leave the can at the chamber itself, take the tour and come back and collect it. I agreed only after opening the can and taking a sip of it. We walked out of the door of the briefing room while the Coke can seem pleading, ‘Come back for me’!

The tour of the ship followed which was an absolutely mesmerizing experience. All the while seeing the different sections permitted in the ship my thought went back to that red aluminium can that seemed to be even more appealing than the gray object that surrounded me.

We finally finished the tour and reached where we began. I was so happy to see the briefing room again and eagerly jumped inside the chamber and looked at where we left the cans. To my utter shock and surprise I couldn’t see my beloved prize I received just a few moments back. I searched all over the room and to my dismay could still not find the can that contain the life giving brown color liquid that was to be one of the biggest highlights of the stories to my friends.

I asked my uncle about it and his answer left me with a total vacuum, that I felt it would’ve been better if that ship sunk right at the moment. He said, ‘Oh, you left the can there and the boys would’ve thought it was a leftover and trashed them’.

I could feel the chillness on the can creeping across my little heart. I felt a pain that was quite deep and it still remains…

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Where’s My Space?

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - March 2013
I had heard enough and more about the concept of space and how important it is in a married life. All the articles I’ve read till date have emphasized upon the need to give space to each other even though you promise to be together ‘until death do us part’. For someone who has been away from the family due to studies and job for almost eight years before getting married, to me this theory was nothing but an obvious aspect of married life.

I was a firm believer of this concept while I walked into the world of togetherness. Needless to say that I was in for some surprises since I was expecting the implementation of space in marriage at ease; this was not the case to be.I should admit that the individual in me got a higher priority during the initial years of marriage than the combined entity of ‘us’. Courtesy to the theory of space!

Soon, I realized that space is not the key aspect of life. We started discovering interests that were common to us. One of the biggest surprises that were in store for me was in the form of a TV show of which I had become a big fan during one of my assignments abroad in the US. The show being one which deals with criminal investigations with gruesome crime scenes, forensic science and autopsy procedures, the last thing I was expecting from my beloved was to come near the TV set while I was watching the show. To the greatest of my happiness she developed an interest for the show sometimes surpassing mine and our weekends became all the more interesting watching the show together with a much better vigor!

Multiple other experiences in our life evolved as we started rowing the boat of married life together. Many a things that were considered as ‘my interest’ became ‘our interest’. This was true for both of us. Be it the preferences for tea or coffee, having chappathy or rice for dinner, watch an English or Malayalam movie on a weekend; we were able to draw a middle line for these. These may seem very trivial, but once you start sharing your life with another person, tiny things like these may make or break your relationship. You need to be blessed enough to grow beyond these indifferences by finding the common grounds in the game of life you are in for together. As days passed by we didn’t even realize how ‘my space’ in our marriage was giving way to ‘our space’.

Finding ways of being together to share interests not only helps you develop an intimacy but also provides you with common topics to discuss. You’ll never be searching for something to talk when you have so much in common. These do not get created unless you put an effort to look beyond ‘my space’.

All said and done, we are not anti-space crusaders. There are hobbies and passions that we both cherish and find time to do that among all these. I love reading, probably a bit more than her. I used to crib initially that I do not get time anymore to do that. Now I find pockets of time here and there and it takes minimal effort for me to pick up a book and continue from where I left. She was keen to learn violin and found time to join a class while our little one was yet to stand on his tiny feet. We supported each other on these little joys of life.

In fact if I had used all the time I wasted complaining about not having my space, I would’ve done even more wonderful things than what I was able to accomplish otherwise! As I read somewhere, you became a couple to be that and not being single anymore. Knowing that there could be many things you could do together can be more fun than fighting for your space.

It is all about leading a life together and not two people sharing a house and calling it life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Arise Lady Justice!

Wikipedia says a ‘minor’ is a person under a certain age which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood. A lot of fond memories come back to my mind when I think about the term childhood. It was a time when I knew much lesser about the world and even lesser about the vices in it. Childhood is synonymous to innocence. Childhood is when you take your first steps in this big bad world and learn to face the inevitable destiny.

A child makes mistakes and most of them are out of ignorance. It is up to the elders to correct on time so that he understands his mistake. These mistakes usually do not hurt anyone. But when it does and when the child receives a warning, that’s when it gets ingrained in his brain cells that he was wrong and what he did was not to be repeated. Conscience gets developed thus.

It is through a series of these learning that a human being walks through his childhood into adulthood with a sense of right and wrong. The mistakes while being a child is dealt with certain amount of love and tenderness. The same mistakes committed even after the child has grown up are considered with a certain level of seriousness. A flower vase broken by a baby when he begins to walk is taken lightly. Imagine when a similar incident happens when he is fifteen, but this time if the vase was broken purposefully, the reactions are guaranteed to be different.

Mistakes can be accidental or intentional. They are not the same. The former is unplanned and the latter results from a conscious mind. The mind says you are going to commit a mistake but you choose to ignore and go ahead with the intention. The way these two are to be treated must also be different.

When you hurt someone with the intention of inflicting pain on the body and soul of a fellow human being, your conscience dies. Any intentional mistake should be considered with the same amount of gravity irrespective of the age of the person who commits it. The retribution should also be awarded accordingly. The sheer loop hole in the law for exempting a juvenile from the sentence even when an intentional mistake is committed is unacceptable! It is like giving a lollypop to the fifteen year old for breaking the vase. 

He must pay the price for the mistake he committed. It is high time the Lady Justice removed the blinds from her eyes and took a good look at the case. The truth is bare. It is a crime! He deserves the maximum!

Look into the eyes of the young girl, who like you and me had all the rights to walk on the streets of this country. That was when one ‘child’ brutally assaulted, twice raped and left the helpless girl to die on the same streets. This is not childhood neither is this innocence!

While you hold that balance straight to give a fair judgement answer her question, ‘Are you denying me justice because I am an adult and the one who violated and killed me was not one?’

Bottom line: Change the law!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The White Devil!

This is a sequel to my experience with one of the wonders of nature, the snow, while I was in London for an assignment. If you’ve not read that before, I suggest you read ‘The White Wonder’ first.
It was almost a month since I reached Thame. Finally the day has arrived for me to say goodbye to the little town that was sleeping like a baby under the thick white blanket of snow. My bags were all packed and the taxi was arranged well in advance. I had asked Atif to keep my bills ready so that I can check out as soon as the taxi arrives. He was the Pakistani receptionist, who by then had become a good friend of mine with all the playing in snow which brought out the child within both of us.
The flight was late in the evening at 20:00 hours and I was planning to visit two of my dearest friends first before heading to the airport. Though there was a snow prediction in the news yesterday I was positive about reaching the airport if I started well in advance and catch the flight home and hence planned it so well; at least that’s what I thought!
After almost an hour of waiting for the taxi I called the driver to check the status. The response I got did generate a few smileys with question marks. He informed me that he is still half way from London with traffic moving at a pace worse than a sloth with all the snow piled up on the roads! He was doubtful of making it to the hotel and advised me to look out for some local taxis. Though I could feel a slight panic rising in the corners of my mind, my optimism never left me and was determined to put my plan to action.
I checked with Atif about the possibility of hiring a local taxi. He flung into action and called a few cabs around the area. I must’ve been looking at him so intently that I was sure the cabbie on the other end of the phone realized the distressed situation I’m in. One after the other, they all said they were not going to take out their cars in this crazy weather. I glanced at the door and could see the snow fall getting even worse. The white wonder now seems to have developed two little horns and I saw an evil grin that appeared to tell me, ‘Did you say that you have planned everything?’
Someone around told me to try the alternate modes of transport. After all I am in a country which believes in providing all modes of possible transport to its citizens. Atif checked the availability of train for me though the question of reaching the railway station remained unanswered. The response was no different since the rails were all covered in snow and the locomotives obviously won’t operate. Buses were anyways ruled out though we tried to check if at least one service is on. The cruel hands of pessimism were steadily approaching me.
I was almost in tears. Missing our first wedding anniversary due to this assignment was already a deeply inflicted pain. The possibility of not making it to home on time for Christmas hung above my head as the sword of Damocles. I must truly appreciate Atif for totally empathizing with me. He couldn’t stand my torture anymore and made some quick phone calls. He finally broke the good news to me that a friend of his has agreed to take me on his car on a condition that Atif should accompany him since he didn’t want to be stranded on the snow covered motorways.
There was absolutely no need for a Pakistani guy who works as a receptionist at one of the budget hotel branches in a little town forty kilometers from London to accompany an Indian fellow who is stuck at the hotel and is desperately trying to get to the airport to reach home on time for Christmas! I fully learned the meaning of the proverb that day, ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’.
In an hour’s time I was at London Heathrow airport with Atif helping me unload my bags. He wished me good luck with my flight and prayed for a safe journey back home. I promised that I’ll send him the pictures of the good times we had in the snow as soon as I reached home. With the airport in sight and guessing that my aircraft was parked a few feet from the terminal building where I stood, the little white devil didn’t seem to be that hostile after all. Four days from this moment when I look back I could see that the little devil was just playing around with his mother who was sleeping besides him and will soon wake up to make my life as dreadful as it could get!
Approaching the door to the terminal I could see a large crowd trying to get inside. The security guards at the gate were shouting back at the group. There was chaos everywhere. No one was allowed in, citing the reason that the terminal is full and hardly any flights are leaving. I didn’t know what to do. I finally got to know that the Emirates flight I was to take back home via Dubai was also cancelled and the airport itself is closed down due to heavy snow. The only option now is to wait till the airport opens up and the flights are back on track, literally.  
I spoke to my friend whom I could not meet among all these confusion. He promptly asked me to catch the next available metro at ‘The Underground’, the world famous transit system that connects every corner of the City of London. The best part was since the trains travel under the ground on four levels designed more than a hundred years ago, it is untouched by the white devil that now poses a great threat to my Christmas plans!
The next three days were destined to be one of the most testing times in my life. I had to take the metro everyday and even walk some distance in the weather that made me think that I am living inside a freezer, to reach the local office of Emirates Airlines requesting a ticket to get back home before it is too late for Christmas. Things were made worse with my company unable to support since the airlines was handling the situation directly and the travel agents had no access to its tickets. Add on to it the fact that the airlines’ call centre phone lines were never answered and that left me with no choice but to visit the local office on a daily basis. If it wasn’t for the love and care showered upon me by this special couple I would’ve gone totally mad with all that were happening around me! They will always have a very special place in my heart till my last breath. Relationships like these are built to last a life time!
Frequent exposure to the extreme climate made me fall sick. I didn’t care about the rising temperature since all what I wanted was to reach home and get a warm hug from my sweetheart whose prayers I was sure God couldn’t just ignore! My flight to Dubai can be termed as a ‘flight of hope’. The earnest hope of being reunited with my family after such a harrowing time is unexplainable. I was eager to get on to a connecting flight to Kochi on reaching Dubai. The news that welcomed me there made me feel that the devil managed to find a seat along with me on the flight from London to Dubai! I was to wait for 17 long hours to get a connection flight to India! The last nail on the coffin came in the form of an update that the flight to Kochi is only available on the 26th of December! The only option left for me was to fly to Bangalore. It was less than 48 hours to Christmas Eve. I informed my better half to catch a bus and reach Bangalore on 24 December when my flight is expected to touch down at Bengaluru International Airport.
After spending the worst 17 hours of my life with mercury in the thermometer burning from my body heat, I finally boarded the flight to Bangalore for my last leg of this traumatic journey on the wee hours of 24 December. Breakfast was served and was followed by some other refreshments as well. The otherwise delicious food tasted totally flavorless to me. All what I kept on asking the cabin crew is for glasses of hot water which helped me remain sane throughout the flight. I have never longed so much for a journey to end.
The delight experienced by a person when he sees the world outside after being jailed for a long time is what I felt when the captain of the flight announced that we have entered the air space of Bangalore! Soon, the tires of that Boeing 777 will kiss the runway and I was getting ready to inhale the air of freedom. My beloved would’ve reached the city as well and I was so looking forward for our reunion and the celebration of Christmas that was to follow.
The speakers in that Economy class cracked with the captain’s voice again. I couldn’t believe my ears! As if being tested at an alien nation with almost knee deep snow which threatened to derail the entire plans, to be with my sweetheart for Christmas was not enough. The captain said, the flight could not land in Bangalore due to heavy fog and hence was rerouted to Chennai! I felt like a lone stranded sailor who almost died being in the rough seas for days together, finally spotting an island and almost kissed the beach realizing the next moment that he was being sucked in by the island itself which was made of nothing but quicksand!
I was sinking deep into the quicksand and was almost getting ready to bury the optimist barely alive in me. A few plans came to my mind including taking a train from Chennai to Bangalore or even a taxi all the way. The flight landed at Chennai airport and even before people started taking out their hand baggage another announcement came stating that we are not disembarking there and will wait for a while to see if the situation in Bangalore improves. Meanwhile I informed my dearest wife about the situation and asked her to standby till there is an update.
Till date I do not know what happened. Perhaps it is our prayers or the super power that controls all that happens around us got tired of playing games with us, the flight took off to Bangalore after two hours and landed safely with a few hours left before Christ was born!
Tail End: Couple of years went by and I am dreading the day when my son will come to me with a demand to have a vacation in a country where he could play with me in the snow!

Multi-million lottery!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Nov 2017 “Getting a good partner is like winning a lottery. Ensure that you pray really hard to win...