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The one about Life

“Your hair has started to thin and has started to gray out as well!” says Jessica my hair stylist. I nod. I am not that surprised at my transition from jet black to salt ‘n’ pepper. The last twelve months has taught me a lot in life. “Married life” I say. She smiles at the words.

I am actually shocked that I said that. Rewind. I am sitting with my friends at a party, the mood is good. “Bachelor life is good” I murmur, nods everywhere. A friend smiles, “Kalyanam aagatey, ariyum” He says and gets up to go. “No,  C’mon man it is just 10. Are you scared?” I guffaw. “Kaalam, elathinum utharam tharum mone Dinesha”  (Time will answer you my friend) says my friend with a wry smile. He used to say that a lot. Whenever the pride in my voice would pop talking about things I believed cool (then), he used to say the same thing. Every time I used to laugh at it and remind myself that I could handle anything that life threw at me. Yet here I am 7 years later, at another crossroad. Now I know what exactly my friend meant.

In fact this post is the outcome of a very lengthy thought process, not some thing that people associate with me. I am a very impulsive person, and believed that I could not be very emotional for a long period of time. Married life did prove me wrong there. This my friends, Is a testimony of emotional rollercoaster that I have gone through. Excitement, Anger, Love, Sadness you name it, I can say been there!

March 6th, I came back from work. I see candles lit everywhere, a German chocolate cake. Did I miss something? She comes closer kisses me softly and wishes me a happy birthday. I was glad then that I had forgotten my birthday and not hers. The cake was a treat for my taste buds. She then gives me the B’day gift “I am pregnant”. The biggest gift ever, surely man. I am soaring. The idea of me becoming a father had not sunk in then. A week later the pregnancy blues kicked in. I had just cleaned up after my wife had thrown up the umpteenth time. No body warned me about the nuances when they wished us. I walked in hook line and sinker. It took months to get used to the temper tantrums. For once my life moved away from me. I was not the at the center stage. Here was something that I could not control.

A couple of months later, as I watched the blip on the screen my insides crutched, my ears became red hot and my eyes welled up. I saw my child’s heart beat. My life was no longer about me then. Every day since then I have tried to do things right. I freaking washed the home every week, did the dishes, started to cook and do things that I thought were not cool.

I realized how lonely life can be, when my wife had to go to her mothers house. The long hours meant that I had more to think. I would have been at some party whiling away my time, but now I am not.  The news papers do their part in reminding me of the world that we live in. A man struggling to meet ends meet, a crook who enjoys the sheer pleasure of living. The face of a distraught lady trying to get to office on Monday morning who finds the wheels of her car stolen, the face of a distraught coworker who is denied yet another time. These are people who have done nothing wrong, yet they have been on the other side. Now there is a fear. The idea of being a father is sinking in.

I do not crib at my married life, but I seem to be overwhelmed by the responsibilities and choices that I am going to take in.  What sort of father should I be? Should I be the father who calls his kid a champ every single time? Should I be a strict one? What sort of things should I teach my child?  I do not have any answers right now. I have tried to live life by a set of principles. Most times I have let my intuition decide what’s right. But now I know that it will not just be intuition that drives me towards actions, there will be thoughts. I hope I continue to do things that are true to the principles I was taught and set an example. Now that should explain the grey!

I will not know if I was right but now I know that my friend was always right . “Time will give me the answer”.

The one about Akkara Kazhchakal

I was mighty surprised by the satirical Malayalam sitcom “Akkara Kazhchakal”, a show about the lives of the malayalalee expatriates living in the United States. The show is laced with numerous scenes that would make people wonder if the writers were watching their day to day activities! It is hard to understand our countrymen’s obsession with the word FREE!

When people back home have a rosy picture about Life in America, reality presents a totally different picture. The more people I meet the more I get obsessed about finding out as what drives people to the land of opportunities, and I am going to go ahead and classify our fellow country men into the following categories.

The Eternal Savers

The guys who bear the burden of their families, each one could tell us a story that would fuel a thousand mega episodes of T.V Serials.

* Excellent Mathematicians – Multiplication skills sharpened by converting each dollar to its equivalent rupee. Yeah I am talking about the people who start by saying “Whaaat…. 10 dollars? you will get this for 50 Rupees in India.”

* Surprisingly Organized – These people go as far as maintaining spreadsheets comparing the rates between stores such as Dollar Tree , 99 Cents , Wal-Mart and K-Mart.

These are people who hope and pray that the conversion rates remain strong while claiming that India is the best country in the world. confusing isn’t it?

The Deal Masters

The guys who like to spend money only when they get a good deal for it. They scourge the web, waiting to pounce on any thing that comes cheap.

* Extremely Patient – Ready to wait for hours in the Cold, Rain, Sun for the right deal. The guys who go “Do you know how much is this? 900 dollars, but I got this for 150”.

* The Next Business Magnet – Guys looking for a quick buck, members of network Marketing teams, the side business guys and magnets who repel people.

The group is filled by people who try hard to convince everybody that they have made a profit in every aspect of life.

The Social Networkers

The guys who do care only about the next Facebook picture. Their life is an Open Book as every moment of their life is documented in some social networking website.

* Extremely Thick Skinned – “I DO NOT CARE” written all over them

* Excellent Salesmen – Can make the most ordinary task look special, have faithful fan following as well.

The guys who post more than 10 updates a week, and guys who check their emails, and Facebook at least 5 times a day are the exclusive members.

The Other Guys

The guys who came here with hopes of enjoying their work, and woo lovely firangi ladies only to realize that work F*ks them over, and firangi ladies act as if they do not exist. Nobody knows them but these are the guys who spend the time answering late night work calls and cook the next meal.

Where do I fit in? let me tell you all the things that I did today and you decide. I begin my day visiting the 1saleaday website, check my emails, hope at least one firangi would give me the look and right now guys I need to go to cook something for tomorrow.

Ciao.

The One About Two Games

 

I have always followed Sports seriously. Even, when I was a kid I would sit with my grandfather, who was the biggest sports fan I ever knew and watch everything on DD Sports for hours altogether. Back in the day DD Sports was like my favorite channel. Even now, I have the habit of checking the sports section in the newspapers first. Earl Warren said “I would like to read about People’s accomplishments rather than their failures”. It is not all about winners all the time. The images of Lance Klusener chewing gum calmly after the loss against Australia in the 99’ Cricket World cup Semifinal, of Robert Baggio looking crestfallen after missing a penalty in the 94’ Soccer World cup , of Roger Federer in tears after losing to Rafael Nadal in a epic Wimbledon final are still fresh in my mind. They (South African team, Italian Team and Roger) did lose all right, but the line between the winner and runner up was so close that they did not seem a loser to me. Sports can shower you with glory on defeat as well.

   Australia was host to two of my favorite Sporting events in the last week.  The India Australia Cricket Test series and the Australian Open Tennis Championship. I was watching the Men’s Championship final game between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Though, The quality of tennis on display was not the of highest standard, the sheer will of each player to hold on until the very end was. For almost 6 hours, the world watched as the two of them held court. There were so many moments during the game when both players appeared completely exhausted and ready to back down. Yet they held on and treated the audience to a fine lesson on determination and will power. Though Nadal lost today he received a standing ovation from the crowd as he left saying “I would be here next year to fight again.”. A hero in Defeat.

In stark contrast was the final match of the India Australia Test series. Though the event was touted to be as the farewell series for the batting greats of India, it proved to be a nightmare. The Indian team chased leather for most of the time, and conducted processions while batting. Agreed, Teams do not win all the time. But if they keep getting Beaten every time then something has to be wrong. It is sad to see that the the media mouthpiece of the team is living in denial and talking about victories of the past. Michael Clarke and his men should be enjoying their beers and mouthing “Evalo adichalum thangaranga” behind the Indians back! While the angry young men of Indian cricket bad mouth the opposition team, crowds and the grounds, and speak of past victories they should realize that their arguments will neither make them win any sympathy from the fans nor make them look like heroes in defeat. The team needs to pick up their act soon, or the team would be addressed with the words “Losers”.

In the movie “Up in the Air”, the lead Protagonist says Kids adore Sportsmen because they follow their dreams. The admiration comes from the fact that they learn a lot of values as well. I had the pleasure to see and learn from some of the greatest players during my time, but I do hope that nobody picks up some of the qualities that are on display by the current Indian cricket team.

The Year that Was

The New year’s eve is a beautiful day. It is a day you get to review the path trodden and a day to plan out your path for a new start. A moment to retrospect and a moment to plan for the future. Another thing I like about it is the fireworks that welcome the new year. They remind me of my dreams, some of them shoot up so high, some of them dazzle in the night sky with the brightest of colors and as they fizzle out in the nothingness an insane soul brings forth fragments of memories of the year that was. Memories that made me smile, look up in despair, watch in awe, and sulk in the deepest corner of my mind.

So here is Timeline 2011

The Reception – Wedding receptions can usually be a boring family affair , but this one was different as it marked a mini reunion of old batch mates at the Land of Liquor and Lakes. And as a bonus a couple of days later met future Mrs.D.B Too. Not a bad start

The World cup and other Days – A year older, and India won the world cup as well, a couple more reasons to celebrate.

The Where was I Days – Three months whiled away with nothing to do, I kept waiting for something to happen, nothing @ work, nothing in the IPL, At last something in Life: an engagement.

The Wedding – A Monster change in life, DB the married guy, new family, beautiful wife, new life, and ah beautiful days.

The Wait – Kept waiting for the jumpstart that would propel me through the rest of the year; turned to be a long wait to even get a move on

The Protestors – Tried to understand the Protestor, The Person of the year. Reasoned with few, thought of others as idiotic

  Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Amidst Broken dreams, fading memories, I cling on, willing myself to fight on.

Music – Found joy in Music again Mat Kearney, Shruti Box provided immense relief.

Mrs.DB – Life Partner indeed, smiles and more smiles.

As the last one lights up the sky and fills up the night sky I hold her hands and a silent prayer fills my mind. May the new year bring each closer to realizing what he wants in life.

Why this Kolaveri?

It is one of those days where the rain plays spoilsport and you are forced to sit inside watching the splattering drops. The Missus is not very happy that the things did not go according to plan. She simply stares outside. The rain picks up pace and the heavy drumming is making a weird noise that is coaxing me to the bed.

I fight my sleep and take up the mission to lighten her up. I try the one which works best for me – Music. I plug in my X Mini to to my faithful iPod and DJ away.

I silently hoped the shuffle list would understand the situation and churn out numbers accordingly

1. Life in technicolor – Coldplay

The song complements the outside rain, the music in place to the steady fall. she takes a look, picks up the idea pad and tries her hand at browsing. Halfway though the song she tosses the reader aside and moves her chair closer to the patio door starts watching the rain again

2. Capri – Colbie Calilat

As Colbie’s soulful sound fills up the room, I see a small change in her reaction. She looks back curiously, before I say anything, she says “Can we eat? I am Hungry”

3. Riders on the Storm– Doors

As JM sings about the killer on the road; I watched her line up the dining table with food. My attempt to help was waved away. By the time she was done setting up and I sit down at the table out comes

4.Highway to Hell.

I did not have to look at her face to understand that the songs were not giving her the effects that I desired.  I put the player on hold and continued with lunch. It was liking watching an Adoor Gopalakrishnan movie. The only thing i could hear was the splattering rain and that occasional clatter of my spoon against the plate.

After lunch, I picked up my laptop and decided to check my Facebook page. I saw that many of my friends had shared a video. The youtube link had generated more than five hundred thousand hits and was a big hit in the social networking sites.

I hit play and watched Dhanush sing “Why this Kolaveri di?”. A couple of minutes later the missus was near me watching the video with great interest. A couple of loops later she was humming the song and also did manage to find another video of a Punjabi girl singing the same song.

She displaced me from the computer table and was logged into her FB account and shared the links there. I have never been a big fan of songs such as these. I was pleasantly surprised that the missus was enjoying this song a lot. By the time she was done with her FB; the rain had stopped. Our plans for the day were back on track though delayed by a couple of hours.

The idea of going shopping was the shot in the arm that she needed. It was as if she had found a new lease of life.

We come back six hours later from the Thanksgiving sale, My hands are tired after carrying the bags from the shopping stores she raided. I threw myself on the futon and my mind went over the finances for the month.

I moved to our patio. The chair was still there. I sat there and stared at the darkness humming “why this Kolaveri di?”.

A Tale of Three Nights

One:

As soon as I heard the Lift Lady Sing “Please Close the Doors” for the Umpteenth time, l let out a volley of curses and groans that would have silenced anybody but her. I walked up the stairs slowly thinking about the pathetic day I had at work. The shoes flew first, the laptop bag next and then as I slumped on the crouch my faithful Sony Ericson W 705 began crooning “The Way you make me feel”. I always thought that was the best song to describe our relationship; she could make my moods swing from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
A flurry of questions hit me as soon as I picked up the phone “Why was the Phone Switched Off? Why I had not called? Why am I Late?” Each of my half answers was met with another question and about fifteen minutes later, she slammed the phone down. “Wife on the phone” I explained to my roommate. He shrugged with a casual “Do you want to join us for a game?” I threw the phone to a corner picked up a racquet and went out. Two hours later I came back to my room totally spent and threw myself on the bed. I picked up the phone SMS’d her A Love you Message and tried to sleep.

Two:

As soon as I got off the bike I hit the dial button on my cell phone; the caller tune seemed to go on endlessly before I heard “Hello”. Me “Sorry, the meeting was longer than I Expected” Her “No problems, I was speaking with my sister on the other phone”. After ten minutes near the Parking lot, I had to concede to the mosquitoes and decided to go inside. I heard the lift lady sing “Please Close Doors”. I was more than happy to take the stairs as I did not want the lift to interrupt the connection. Balancing against the walls I threw the shoes, the laptop bags and slumped on the bed with the phone still glued to my ears. 20 more minutes later my roommate popped his head and asked “Do you want to join us for a game?” I shrugged and said “Wife on the phone”. 3 hours later when I realized that I had run out of balance on my cell phone, I disconnected and lay on my bed thinking about her and tried to sleep.

Three:

I am working on the computer, the phone rings. I don’t even bother to take a look. I finish typing my story as she asks if I have any idea of going to bed. In just a little while I say. I close my laptop, turn off the lights and slip into the bed right next to her.

The One about a Girl

A couple of months back, if someone told me that I would be getting married in the next three months I would have stared, and then walked away calling the person a madman. But a lot has changed in the last two months and here I am facing a brand new life in the next three months. Things have happened so fast and the seemingly endless list of options has left me bewildered. In spite of all this there is a tiny bit of me that is excited (happy) to welcome her into my world. I am not sure as when she will get to read this post, but when she does I sure do hope that she has enjoyed the journey so far.
P.s I remembered that this was not Twitter later on!

The One about Life @ OMR

“Anna” “Anna” yelled the kids by the wayside. They were waving frantically and get somebody to who could drop them near their school. 9 times out of 10 I would have sped away, ignoring them, lost in my own world. Today I decided to stop. As soon as I moved to the side of the road, 5 kids ran toward me and started climbing all over the bike. I found out first hand that it was impossible to take five kids on a two wheeler. I told them that I could not take all of them with me and could only take a couple of them with me. The Kids got into a small discussion. I waited patiently beside them, and the eldest came out and said “Anna, take everybody or you can go alone”. I was not going to take the risk and took off alone. But so many others do oblige. The drive becomes a balancing act, and a safety hazard for the kids as well.
What Has Changed
Five years ago, the words Perungudi, Karapakkam and Metukuppam would not be familiar to many people to the people living in the City of Chennai. Today you need to be a multi millionaire to own a house in any of these areas. The IT Companies that have sprung up in these Special Economic Zones ushered in the change. The old broken road has been replaced by a 6 lane highway, numerous high rise apartments and office complexes have lined up. Many small hotels, shops have shut shop and have been replaced by fancy restaurants and shopping malls. When everybody was awe struck by the rate of development, not many thought about the people who were forced to give way for development projects. According to P.Sainath journalist and author of “Everybody loves a good Drought” at least 24 million Indians are forced to give up their habitat to make way for Infrastructure. The Kids who ask fro lifts to the schools are some of them, forced out of their homes they have adapted to settlements further down the roads. While the joyride to the office on the 6 lane highway lasts 15 minutes. Life is not sop easy for many. It is a 20 minute walk to the bus stop and then a struggle to get into the packed buses and share autos.
The frequency of buses is too little and this causes a stampede when the buses roll in to the stops. When the IT professionals complained about the lack of buses on the IT highway the government complied. Now there are A/C Buses plying between the ends of the highway every 15 minutes. The ticket fare is almost 5 times the normal bus fare and the IT Brigade hops on indifferently. The school kids are left to fight it out with the college students, daily laborers and a few others who think that the new luxury is unwarranted for. The government did fulfill its promise of introducing a new fleet with new routes, but what is the use if still there are many who cannot even get onto a bus?
Share Auto is another common medium of transport. Even the IT brigade believes that Share Auto’s are expensive and complain that the drivers are very rude. I have heard a colleague complain about a driver who said “You are earning right, then what is your problem in paying extra?” When I asked her what she did about it, she said“Who can argue with these people so I paid him extra!” Yes we do not complain, we pay because we can afford it. The Kids don’t, so they don’t get a ride in the share auto’s.

It is a pity to see many struggle for the minimum necessaties when there are so many who indulge in unwarranted luxuries.

A Question

A couple of things happened that made me see through another layer of myself!

Last July, I completed five years with my company; A rarity among the IT professionals in India. Today i was awarded a Service Anniversary certificate by the CIO of a Fortune major Client. Pretty cool huh? Me liked that bit a lot.

But hated my guts for being part of a team that put up a FAKE show to welcome him! walls were painted again, the emergency Yellow lines were drawn for the floors only which he was expected to visit. He was also gifted an elephant and a drawing of him that was signed by all! How low will we stoop to get more business?

A project is being closed after three years, and the team is planning to go out for a movie and dinner. I am supposed to be one of the sponsors. I don’t mind giving out the money but i do NOT want to go out with them. I know i will be called a lot of things for doing that.

People might call me things, even think i am big loser. Isn’t it better to be different and stick to some values rather than be one among many and live without any?

The one about The Date

A very average day at work was made the most exciting when my friend yelled “S1365”. I immediately knew what he meant. “Seriously” I asked. Yeah man I had to go get a new laptop from the Store and I found out her cubicle. Before he could say another word I ran out of the guest suites to the main building. I never realized I could run so fast and made it to the building in a minute, S 1365 I kept repeating to myself, and reached the South section. I found the cabin almost immediately. As the computer guy of the firm I had access to most systems and with a lot of help from the network guys, I was introduced to her as the “guy to call in case of problems”. I managed to run into her accidently a lot of times, though this involved walking close to 3 miles every day across the two buildings, missing many important calls and at last after 3 weeks I asked her out for dinner. When she asked How about Today? I was jumping like a madman on the inside.
I was too excited to do anything else that day and as soon as I reached home I pulled out my favorite jeans, T-Shirt and set off. I knew she just lived around the corner. I sprinted off to her building. I knocked twice and waited impatiently for her outside. my first official date. She came out in a beautiful black dress, complete with high heels. I was greeted with a dazzling Smile. I kept staring at her and so did she when she saw my jeans and Metallica Rockzz T Shirt. “Where is your car?” She asked. “Oh, I thought we could have a nice walk, before the dinner you know….” I blabbered. Truth was I did not own a driving license, forget a car. That was my first mistake of the evening.
I had planned to take her to a Mexican Restaurant, roughly half an hour by walk from our place. We had to cross a park, and I had to walk slowly with her because of the heels. Trust me Never walk with a girl on heels over a lawn, she will be slower than your 90 year old grandma. She kept laughing at the small jokes that I made. I was simply amazed that a girl as Hot as her would go out with me.
The best part about Covington summer is “Sudden Evening Showers, they are God’s way of cooling things down here.” As my luck will have it we spent the last two minutes in the rain. The High Heels ensured that. I was expecting the “Look, what you have got me into! stare”. Another smile, if she was angry she was hiding it well. But still I had made mistake number 2.
We waited for the rain to cool off and in the meantime talked about a lot of things. The Mexican restaurant had a band playing, the mood was upbeat and she really liked the food. “So far so Good” As I was convincing myself the waitress brought in the bill. I went for it first, but needed a little more persuasion from my part to convince her. A couple of minutes later she came back, “Sir is there another card that I can use, This one does not work?” Drat I had forgotten to transfer the money from the Savings to the Credit section again, which meant another 50$ fine. She read the look on my face and she pulled out a Platinum card from her purse. I should say she was reading my thoughts pretty well.
We walked back the same way, and this time it was even worse. A wet park, her shoes were covered with all sorts of thing in a minute and she had to walk bare foot for the remaining distance. I was kicking myself to nowhere inside, and we walked back to home in silence. As I dropped her at the doorway I turned and apologized for the many mistakes that I had made. I did not know if I would ever get another chance to redeem myself. Just before leaving she gave me a grin and said “You know, I did a mistake too”. That was what I did not want to hear. I was crushed that I did not hear her say “I could have taken my car”.