The one about Kabaali

Yesterday, we decided to sell off our old fridge. To begin with, it was weird to sell off something which we took for rent. But we called up an agent and he agreed to send someone to take the fridge away.

My roommates were busy and had to go out, so i was the one who had to wait for the guy who was supposed to pick up the fridge. i was given the Contacts number and name ("Kabaali"). I told the agent that our apartment was at the second floor, and it would take some effort to get the thing down. His response was "Elaam Kabaali pathukuvaar" (Kabaali will take care of everything). Two hours later, i got a call from Kabaali, he couldn’t find my apartment. He wanted me to come to the street corner, where he was waiting with his vehicle.

I went out to meet him, and when i reached the corner i found a couple of very tough looking guys next to a mini truck. I was about to ask them to follow me, when my phone rang again. It was Kabaali and he had found my apartment and was now waiting at the door. i was now really started to wonder what this guy was up to.

I doubled back to the house and found a tri cycle parked near the gate. I went up the stairs, and i found a small guy who looked out of breath at my door. Kabaali, was nothing like the person that i had imagined. A small wiry guy stood there, and was looking as if he had climbed the himalayas. He asked me where the lift was? i told him there was none for our apartment.

He wanted my help to get the fridge to the ground floor. I half heartedly agreed, cursing my other roommates for making me do this alone. We took the fridge down the first step, when i heard him yell, we kept the fridge down, and was holding his hand and telling me it hurt. So after 20 minutes with little help from kabaali i got the fridge two floors down. it took me 10 minutes to climb the stairs, i reached my bed. 12 hours later i am Feeling pretty heavy in the arms, and boy cant move my back.

The one about Protests

Last month, a friend of mine and I had to go out. It was super hot that day, and we decided to stop for a drink. As we were relaxing with the drink in the shade of the shop, I saw a group of youngsters who had set a stall in the roadside and were holding up messages against Child labor and were conducting a signature campaign. The first thought that came in my mind was “What are the Idiots doing?”. I pointed it out to my friend, (who to my surprise was offended by my remark). She went on about the need to speak out and let our voices be heard and people like me had to empathize. I remained silent. I couldn’t somehow understand how a signature campaign or giving out notices in the hot sun will help stop Child labor.

In a democratic country such as India, the idea of people’s voice being heard is very much in. Students, political parties, and various groups use mechanisms such as hartals, rallies, protest marches to showcase their strength whereas smaller groups, and activists do it on a smaller scale by setting up stalls and doing chain rallies.

Looking back at the major protests in the past two years, the ones that stay in my mind are the ones that turned the most violent. The protests in Shopian, the clash between lawyers and police in Tamil Nadu, the Gujjars strike in Rajasthan. The extensive media coverage that these issues got ensured that images from these protests made it to the front page and “Breaking news” section of each newspaper and television channel. These images makes one empathize the pain and the torture the victim had to go through. The image of Qutubuddin Ansari pleading to the rioters became the face of Gujarat Riots. But years later, how many of us feel for the innocents massacred? Haven’t we sort of moved on? Sure we do feel bad when we read about them somewhere, but will that ensure that another picture like Ansari’s wouldn’t come out?

It is not about how loud or how long your protest was. It is how many you have convinced that matters. When the LTTE was defeated militarily by the Lankan army, a thirty year old bloody civil war ended, and along with it the hopes for a separate state for Tamils. The Shopian villagers protests against the security personnel, fell on deaf years. But amidst all this, Candles lit by a friends of Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Matoo protesting against their murder, helped them achieve justice. The accused in both cases were found guilty of all charges. The sense of support was because a person had been wronged and the emotion in the others surfaced as the signature campaigns, slogans raised, candles lit and what not. The key is to appeal to the people’s emotion. Unfortunately this does not work all the time.

People have far too many problems of their own. It is not that they do not care, it is just that they neither have the time nor the mind set to be bothered. The violent ones definitely attract the peoples attention, but ultimately everyone moves on. We pray for those affected and live in a hope that we do not become the victim. The healing factor is not the same for only those who were affected, the scars remain to remind them of the pain. How many of us help to remove that pain, i wonder?

I know people would get the notices from these youngsters, speak words of encouragement and toss it in the garbage can. I have met people who sympathize with the “poor”, and then turn around to spend a fortune on useless crap. I hate these phonies, and i felt for that youngsters for letting themselves believe that they are going to make a difference.

I do hope that someday all of this changes and i am proved wrong. But as of now it is not much and it is fading fast.

The One about The Bus Ride

Living in India is fun, you can always expect something out of the blue. After suffering two accidents in the same day, i decided not to use a two wheeler for some time. So almost for the last two months i take the bus(MTC) to my office.

i have to travel about 6 miles. The journey ideally should take about 20 minutes, but in the bustling traffic it takes a little less than an hour. This one hour has been an eye opener. I have learnt the art of dangling precariously on a footboard holding on to a fellow commuters shirt, joust with other travelers trying to get out. If i do manage to get a seat, then the sights and sounds of this city can keep one so occupied.

The MTC manages to find its way through the traffic with minimal effort. I am pretty amazed at the skill of the drivers, they treat the big green monster like a bicycle and zoom around. The MTC edges out all the vehicles to the side and marches on. I have heard our driver call out to the vehicles in traffic “Clear my way for your own good”. Ah, what confidence. Traffic signals would be respected only if there are about ten vehicles in front of the bus, otherwise the creaky bus will keep moving until no vehicle can move either way.

The worst part in the journey is of you are stuck somewhere in the middle, you would be crushed and crumpled. The other day i was stuck inside and that day there were about 100 more than the expected 50 inside. I was standing uncomfortably close to a girl. She gave me the go hang yourself look. Later i found out that she works in my office. I still run away if i see her somewhere inside the office building.

The next thing that one would notice is the advertisement posters plastered all across the city. Some of them have made me laugh my guts out. Try this “Wanted Paying gust inparmaation – never knew information could be spelled like that”, “Brand new used cars for sale ?”, “School of Japanese offers Japanese classes ”, “Mahavir Frut Jush – He meant Fruit Juice”, and so on.

People try to showcase their artistic skills on the seats, the interiors. The most common ones that i have seen are Lovers names inside a Heart. Poor lovers, nowhere else to declare their eternal love for each other. The funniest ones are from the gangs, or the college groups which use the bus. “Laser guys”, “EEE Error Gents”, “Pallikaranai Tigers” are the ones that topped my list. Yesterday i saw a superb one “It was a winking Ganesha(* Ganpati bapa), underneath was scrawled “Not everybody, gets a replacement, Use Helmets.

I have had enough learning, and (mis)adventures as well, so i am back on my two wheeler. Now i have something more to lookout for in addition to other crazy vehicles, crazier MTC drivers and the craziest Graffiti.

The one about the Morning Drink

Mornings, i love them, the sunrise, the fervor which we do things, for me at least it sets the tone of the day. And nothing beats it when you start the day off with a steaming mug of tea.My room mates and I, have been bitten by the laziness bug of late.

Each one if us would loveto have tea in the morning, but who makes it is the million dollar question. Making tea, sounds an easy thing right? No, not in Plot 162. We do not have a stove, do not buy milk. Here, Making tea involves the tedious processes of boiling water in a electric heater, using tea bags, and mixing the right amount of milk powder. More often than not i found myself making tea for all, because i was the first one to get up in the house. Though not an expert i can make something that i can gulp down with minimal difficulty.

For the past two months, work at office has been so hectic that i dont wake up early in the morning, Now the tea making responsibility is being shared by my roommates as well. Last month one of them got tea dust instead of the tea bags we used to buy. Apparently, he thought both were the same. If making tea with bags was tough, this was a disaster, we had to wait for the dust to settle even before we could even take a sip. Also we had to use two more glasses and do more dishwashing. Either the tea turned out to be too strong, or too watery, but we were too lazy to notice and put with the brown soggy liquid.

A week later, i decided to get home early and got a filter for the tea dust. that meant our wait time for tea had come down, but still it left the problem of cleaning up the mess we made. “Three” comes up with a brilliant alternative, “add the dust directly in the filter and pour water in the filter slowly” Doing so meant, we got rid of the problem of the extra dishwashing.

Second Week, we ran out of milk powder, and we started to take our tea black. Third week, we ran out of sugar, Then it became black tea without sugar. Sure “Men’s Health” was looking for us as Models. The taste still lingers in my mouth yuckkkkkk….
Yesterday, we had an emergency meeting as we could see the tea box almost empty. So two of us hopped of to the store and came back loaded with Milk powder, flavored tea bags and some snacks to go off with the morning tea as well. I slept soundly hoping that now that everything was in place i could at least get some decent tea.
Today morning: “The one who doesn’t care” is up early. We get up and go to the kitchen hoping to get some nice tea. There is no tea, we look at him expecting some answer at least. I mean we had taken pains to get all the stuff and i was like what the heck..he shrugged his shoulders and said “No Water”. So much for our Morning Drink.


Stale Dosas and The Secret

Of late work has been so hectic that i have to take my evening call with my clients at 8.30 PM. I have always been against working late nights, but suddenly i am stuffed up with so much that, i can clear up the mountain only by then. The harder i try to complete it soon, the more difficult it seems to get. The work is good, am enjoying the challenge, but in this i have missed doing two things that i love doing my evening walk and Dinner. By the time i start most hotels are closed except a small eat let near my place. Getting stale dosas from a guy who likes a murderer and eating it at 10:45 by the road side was not what i expected in my life. What else i am going to live with in the pursuit of dizzying heights in the corporate world, God Knows!! And when i come back to open my blog to crib about i see (Rowena’s Blog) with pictures of delicious looking stuff she has made, and hear Goofy blabbering about her cooking skills. Life is Cruel. I miss GOOD FOOD!!!!!!
I took a break from work and managed to spend some time at home with my parents and brother. Oh the morning coffee, breakfast at time, good food and super duper care, boy i loved it. And after four days of eating and rest, i came back heavier by 5 pounds. Looking at the amount of work that i have to do over the next weeks, am sure to loose 10 pounds.
Back at Chennai, a friend showed me a book he had got. “The Secret” by Rhonda Bryne. He said that he got the book on my recommendation. That was a bit surprising because i had never heard about the book and i don’t remember talking about it to anybody as well. Wednesday, I was cleaning up the files in my system when i found a pdf version of the book on my computer. Freaky!! It just didn’t end there i got the book as a gift. And now the Secret is in my hands. I wonder what it is going to unlock!!

The Third Reason

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” How true, how many times have you seen some one do something you never expected them to do in the first place. These people make you feel all pumped and are the inspiration to make you move from what you are!
I follow the Reality show Britain has got talent. I watch the show for a couple of things. First for the extremely beautiful judge Amanda Holden, a pleasure to watch her. The Second reason being Simon Cowell, the master of Cynicism, his sarcastic replies can make Chandler Bing look mortal. Some of the acts were outrageous, some hillarious. There have been times, when I’ve stared, and wondered is that possible.
If we are to judge a person, the first thing that some of them look for is the way some one looks. i have been guilty of that charge too, we tend to write off people who have absolutely no chance to figure on the cover Page of Vogue or any fashion Magazine for that matter. Last week, i saw a 48 year old woman who had come to sing in the show. She was the xact opposite of Amanda. Amanda looked a bit shocked, Simon Smiled. I was eagerly waiting for Simon to score with his insults.
What happened in the next five minutes, took every one by surprise. The whole auditorium was stunned to silence. She had given such an amazing performance, the silence was followed by a thundering roar of applause. Amanda was on the verge of tears, as always, the third judge was extremely pleased. and Simon was Silent. Simon’s silence defined her success. Ms.Susan Boyle became the woman who silenced Simon. It’s people like Ms.Boyle who make this show interesting. Boy, did she inspire me.
Now i have another reason to watch the show. To see people do things that you think they can’t.

The Advisor

I parked my car in the garage, and sat inside the car for a couple of minutes. i longed for a minute of silence before I drowned in a world of chaos. Being a single parent was tough, and trying to manage twins along with a high paying job was crushing me. I knew that it was only time before i cracked completely. My baby sitter was waiting for me at the door with a scorn. I mumbled an apology for being late. According to her “The Imps (as she called them) would show her Hell everyday on Earth”. My daughters were’nt naughty, they would go that extra level to make Dennis the Menace look nice.
I wondered what the little imps were up to. As soon as I stepped inside the house i was mobbed by Ria and Aria. I was almost knocked over. A flurry of words hit me, complaints about teachers, about the baby sitter and news from school was thrown at me in less than a minute. The human mind is designed to consider a million facta at a time but right then nothing made sense to me. I tried to calm them down, put them back in their study rooms and went to make some dinner.
I found their lunch bags strewn about. I noticed that Aria’s lunch box was left untouched. “Aria, you have not touched your food!” I yelled. “I didn’t like it” was the reply. “What do you mean “you don’t like it? You eat this at home, and so does your sister”. “I don’t want to eat that at School, and Ria she didn’t eat it she dumped it in the trash”. The next moment they were on each other. I had to take three blows from their small hands before i could pull them apart. “Didn’t you eat anything today?” “No, we didn’t”. I stood there defeated, deflated by their defiant reply. The harder I tried to bring my life under control, the more it seemed to spin out of control.
The door bell sounded. The two set off, I had hardly moved when I heard them squeal and soon they were all over her. It was such a relief to see her at home. She waved her magic on the kids and everything would seem perfect. She became busy with the kids while I tried to make dinner. Dinner was a quiet affair, and the twins were quiet too. She didnt like it when soemone spoke at the dinner table. The twins followed every word of what she said. They were angels when she was around.

I took a bottle of wine and was lost in thought. She walked over ruffled my hair and asked “Looking worried?” I told her about the earlier incident. She gave me a smile and said “You are learning a lot about being a father aren’t you?”
Her life seemed perfectly under control, and that was bothering me. “Do you think, this is funny, seriously I do not know what to do with them, I am facing a dead end here. But with you around they are the perfect kids.” I finished my tirade with a hopeful “Why don’t you stay with us?” She looked up calmly, partly amused at my outburst and then asked me “If you wanted my help why didn’t you ask me earlier?”
“I just couldn’t …I thought you wanted to be free and didn’t want to bother you with my problems. Now, things have become so worse, that I feel that I am not a good father.” She held my gaze and calmly said “How wrong can you be? You have always been someone who can be a motivation for others. I let you be free because you deserved to be.
I tried to stop her. Yeah, she continued firmly, your kids adore you, they love you. The only help that I can give you is this piece of advice “Never try to be the Perfect father, just be a good One”. I know you will come out of this. Now go get some rest, you look so tired.
It took about an hour for the meaning of what she said to sink in. I was trying to give them my life. I understood that they deserved the freedom that I got when I was a child, and knowing that set me free. The three women in my life. She had fallen asleep with the lights on. The twins had snuggled up to her. I switched off the lights, kissed them each on the forehead, and whispered “You are the best Mom”.

The Break Up

I was looking at a photograph in my wallet, when a snob walked in, saw the picture and threw a nasty remark. For a moment I forgot everything, the office, corporate world, and gave a full blooded punch on his face. He reeled from the effect, held his hands against a bloody nose and ran away without a word. The whole office floor looked stunned. Nobody knew that the punch carried the weight of disappointment. For five years, I had kept the disappointment away, but today the small comment brought the emotion out. I walked out straight to the tea shop behind my office, lit a cigarette, my first in years and sat there lost in thought.

I took, out the photograph, and stared at the picture of the girl in it. I had never stopped loving her. My thoughts went to the day when we last met, she stood there looking upon me with complete disappointment, in spite of my best intentions I would always find myself on the other side of her. That day, the gulf between us stretched too far, and she left me behind, with only dreams to cling on to. I never spoke a word, and watched her go. I thought i could let go, but never did. I bottled up my emotions and played the carefree guy role to perfection. I hid myself under a new set of friends and chose to ignore my past.

I never threw away that one photograph, it was something that defined her. Five years later after the Break up, i got a call from her. She wanted to meet me. It was chaos; i couldn’t act as if i did not care anymore. I wondered what she wanted with me. I couldn’t focus on anything and was looking at her photograph when the incident happened. I wondered if I would find the courage to tell her that I didn’t want anything to do with her, after she left me with a broken heart. The cigarette butt burnt my hand, and brought me back to reality. I chose to meet her.

I was shocked when i saw her. She looked at me cheerily and said, you never called, I never knew thought you would be able to do that!!! She was not the same girl that I had fallen madly in love with. Here I was staring at a ghost of her former self. I was at a loss of words. She hugged me, and started to cry. She looked up and said “I want to spend some time with you”. As always, when she was around my only response would be yes. I nodded, and decided to stay for a week.

Those seven days I saw her in a totally new light, sometimes she would hold on to my hands for support, and I knew that i had made a big mistake in my life, but couldn’t bring myself to tell her that I loved her. It is the fear of losing someone that holds you back from loving them very much. She had set up an organization that helped kids with cancer, the same disease that was eating her. This time i decided to stay longer, I quit my job and started to help her with the organization, but in about a month she was fighting a losing battle.

I held her in my arms, as she was drifting away. She had become very weak, as she lay in my arms i kissed her on the forehead, and said. “I love you”. She gave a dazzling smile and closed her eyes. She seemed relaxed. I knew then that she was not going to come back, and the Break up was real this time.
As I walked away from her, I realized that one would never let go of someone they loved truly. She had changed my life again.

The Actor

It was a hot day, Zafar felt the heat, in spite of the Air conditioned car. Are we there yet? he asked his chauffeur. No sir there is a block ahead, and we might be a bit late..stammered the old man. Zafar didn’t like to be late. Now what..mumbled the star. The chauffeur lowered his window and asked a pedestrian as why the traffic was being held up? The man gave a shrug and walked away..apparently he had a lot of things to be worried about than a road block.

The chauffeur looked back at the actor, he had already lost interest and was stretching in his new car. What a life this man had was the only thing he could think about …He was 26, a multimillionaire, had a girlfriend every week, and most importantly paid him very well. that was the sole reason that he put up with the actors whims and fancies.

“Where is My IPOD?”. The Chauffeur knew that Zafar was in one of his moods and it would be best to leave him alone. He got out of the car and realized how hot it was outside..dusty too…he looked around to see many other cars idling and some people on the bike too waiting for the traffic policemen to clear up. There were some workers who were working on some underground cables. The Chauffeur wondered as how these people could work in the hot sun. Zafar was cribbing about the heat inside an Air Conditioned car. And five minutes outside, he could the sweat trickling down his forehead. The Workmen’s kids were running between the cars that were waiting for the block to clear. They were least bothered by the sun . One of them peeked through the window and recognized the star…wooo he let out a scream and started tapping on the window to get Zafar’s attention.

The kids had grouped around and were all looking for some sort of acknowledgment from the Actor. Zafar immediately put on the actor pose and begun to wave at the kids from inside. The chauffeur looked back at the kids, they were running towards their parents screaming loudly….An Old lady looked up….. wiped the sweat of her face and looked towards the Car.. and then continued with her work. The other workmen barely raised their head. The Chauffeur was shocked by the reaction, He was expecting them to come running to the car trying to get a glimpse of the star…but they did not.

Zafar was hardly bothered and continued to bask inside the car..The Chauffeur was very curious and walked over to the workmen..perhaps they didn’t believe the kids…Hey Zafar is over there don’t you people want to see him? The leader of the group looked up gave a weary smile…i see a lot of his movies, a first class entertainer, but that’s when i am bored and need some time i have work to do and cannot be bothered byhim.

The conversation left him with a totally different perspective… he walked back to the car and pulled himself in…Zafar was sitting with his eyes closed. The entertainer for the crowd…..the Chauffeur stifled his smile, switched on the radio, turned the A/C to maximum and waited for the block to clear.

So Far So Good

I remember the first thing that came in my mind when the clock struck twelve this new year eve was “i am not going to let this year out of control”. If you take out a couple of failed attempts at the GMAT, a crush that Crashed, a bad Accident, and getting kicked out of a Project after slogging for three and a half years the Last year was not a bad one, I just played the big points badly and that cost me dearly. It was these mistakes that i wanted to correct this year. And something that is helping me do it is the book ” The Flight of Jonathan Livingston Seagull”. I have read this book before, but now that i find myself in a situation very similar to Jonathan Livingston; this has become life altering.

So let us come back to what has happened in this year so far… A few days into the New year and here i was facing the first big point of the year. I knew i had to pull it off. I set my heart to it. I do not know if i have pulled it off, but am happy with the effort that i had put in. In the Process something set me free, i was no longer worried about the result. I had done my job and knew that was it. That feeling opened the floodgates.

Then the very next day came a shocker. Strangely it left me unaffected, i was the least worried about what had happened. Mainly because i had a lot of things on my mind, i had moved into a new work environment, and the new place had a number of clowns. I was concentrating on the work at hand and that kept me occupied. I had to move away from my friends. It was harder than i thought , they had helped me through a lot and their sudden absence was a huge disappointment for me. I got the feeling that “I was on my own again!!”. I realized that space and time would not be a barrier to our friendship. That kept me going, a inner voice that kept reminding me to do my job and not be worried about the other factors. A few days into the new work place and i have left a mark, not a print but at least i am not going down. So here i am saying Bring it On!!!

It has almost been a month since the new year, so as to say i have kept things under control. My new life has been way against my tag line of “If everything seems under control, then you are not going fast enough in life!!!!”. But for now this is the way it is.

** For those who have not read “Jonathan Livingston Seagull – “