Saturday, 31 May 2008

Are you Indian?

Nikita(6 yrs old): Mama, are u Indian?

Mama(confused): Yes, I'm Indian

Nikita: No you are not, we are are not.

Mama(has various answers but none she can express in front of children): So ok if I'm not Indian, then what am I?

Nikita: You are from Bangalore so u r Bangalorean.

Mama(heaves a sigh of understanding): Aaaah like that.

Mama(puts doubt in child's mind): But then you and papa are from Chenngannur*, so are u all Chennganoorians?

[last heard.....]

Nikita: Come Naina, lets go ask papa if we are Chengannoorians or Indians?

*Chengannur is a district in Kerala.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Deep Waters

It was my husband’s birthday last month. As usual I went thru the painful process of finding yet another gift for him…..perfumes, shirts, pen. This time I thought…maybe something more niche. One of my friends Jayannan works in a Travel Agency & he offerred to organise a Dhow Cruise for us & I was like ‘Why not?’

I’ve been in Dubai 10 years & haven’t been on a Dhow Cruise yet. Not just me, my husband has been here for the past 29 years & he still hasn’t been on one. Now before u wonder whether I married some ‘Budda’ let me hastily clarify that my husband(no, no he was not my husband then) came to Dubai at the tender age of 8 & did his schooling, etc here itself.

Now Jayannan(see 1st para) is the Creative manager of a Travel Agency. Creative Manager…..hmmmm…whatever that means. The Jaynanan I knew in the past, didn’t have a creative bone in his body.

I met Jayanan when I was teaching at a Multimedia setup in Bangalore(around 11 yrs back). This diminutive, swarthy, locaquious young man of Sri Lankan descent was in Bangalore, just to have some fun & maybe study too. He needed to prove that he was in India for a reason & so joined our establishment for a few courses & took away a certificate from us to show the immigration that he was spending his time in the country fruitfully.

He used to call me Maam then. He explained at the onset itself that he was there just to keep himself occupied and frankly didn’t see what a Multimedia Course could teach him that could set him on a career. He already finished a few courses in computer software and that seemed more relevant to him. To me it didn’t matter whether he was going to use what I was going to teach him or if he made a rocket out of the course completion certificate. I just made sure that he studied what he signed up for.

But he didn’t give me the trouble I anticipated. Once he realized that I was not going to fall for his excuses he quietly knuckled down & practiced what I taught. Once in a while he took off on a trip & didn’t get back for days. I took him to task & didn’t cut any quarter. But he always joked, made me smile & took the edge of the tension away. Whatever I taught never really mattered to him because he knew he was never going to apply it in ‘real life’. But nevertheless he pottered around with it for 2 hours everyday before vanishing.

I still remember this incident where I was teaching him how to make buttons in Photoshop and he laughed on my face “Make Buttons, how jobless can 1 get?” And I replied “Every webpage is navigated with buttons. A Photoshop lesson is never complete without learning how to make button”. He made two of the most unimaginative buttons that day, all the while poking fun at himself and the buttons.

Round about 1-2 months later I resigned from the company coz I was getting married and moving away. That was the last I saw of him.

Two years after moving to Dubai I received a new yrs greeting from him. Pleasantly surprised I replied and asked his well-being. And surprise, surprise he was also working in Dubai. And ofcourse we exchanged phone numbers & he called me.

Within 5 minuted into the conversation we mutually agreed that he could confidently call me by name now. Just as I was about to ask him about work, he began dramatically “You’ll never believe what I ended up choosing as my career”. I ofcourse reacted in kind “What?”. Dramatic announcement continues “I’m a Graphic Designer and Photoshop is the main software I work on”. I laughed till my stomach hurt. He was like “Remember those buttons you made me work on…….now I’m making buttons all the time”. I laughed harder.

After that we used keep in touch quite often. And he talks. Oh how he talks. He doesn’t need any encouragement to keep going. For a Srilankan he knew Malayalam quite well. I just happened to ask him how he knew Malayalam so well & he recounted ……how he stayed in Kerala with Tilakan(yes, the Malayalam Cinema actor Tilakan) as his Guardian. Tilakans son, Biju Menon(another actor), some other actors(he mentioned the names but I forgot) and he stayed together as paying guests and the fun they had could fill an entire book. Another reason his Malayalam was so good was because he had a malayalee girlfriend. He was very devoted to her.

And then one day when I came back from a 6 months vacation from India, his phone was switched off and remained that way for a long time. Then again after 2-3 yrs he contacted me out of the blue. He was back from SriLanka and was based in Sharjah. His mother had been seriously ill & he stayed back in Sri Lanka for 2 yrs to look after her.

When he came back he had to start from scratch. Hunt for a new job. His girlfriend had married somebody else. He really went thru a harrowing time until things settled down.

He got a job as a Creative Manager in Tourism Company. His job was to put his Company on the web. He does a lot of fundoo work for the company which, according to him the company is more than happy with. Whenever he tries out new 'stuff' he sends the webpage to me for my comments. I very well know that he is out of my league(the amount of stuff he knows about multimedia softwares’ now, makes me feel like a kindgartener) but it still makes me feel good that he values my opinion. Occasionally I exercise my rights as his former teacher by suggesting an alternative color or recommending a minor change in the layout which he does consider, very sportingly.

And the surprising part of the whole thing is that we havent met each other in all these 10 years. Its always been on the phone or chat. Every now and then we make plans to meet but it never happens due to some reason or the other.

Now coming back to the Dhow Cruise(remember, 1st para) it was within Jayannan’s means(I think his company has a tie-up with the organizers of Dhow Cruise) to get me a GOOD rate for 6 of us(my parents, 2 kids and us). My husband & I thought it was a great deal and agreed. Jayannan took pains to organize a 5 star treatment for us and a birthday cake to boot. When I grandly announced the plans at home, my mother decided to reveal her deepest fear…………aquaphobia. I always knew she was scared of deep waters but never thought her fear was this extreme. Well, to cut the story short, Dhow Cruise plans were scrapped and alternative plans were made.

And Jayannan the nice guy that he is, was so understanding about the whole issue.

p.s - Anyways, I've decided one thing. Come hell or high water(no pun intended) I’m going Dhow Cruising before the end of this year. Jayannan I'm holding u to it.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A Simple Love Story - Part 3

continued from here

The house was empty as her mother had gone to the temple. Divya changed quickly and went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee for herself. Her mind was whirling with unanswered questions. “Were Shalini and Rahul going around? They didn’t look lovey-dovey but appeared very comfortable with each other”.

An hour later she was still in the kitchen when her father came back from office. Her cup of coffee was untouched. Without wasting much time she told her father everything and waited for his take on the whole issue.

Ashok Rao had never seen his daughter so uncertain. She had always known what she wanted out of life and how to achieve it. He felt her anxiety and tension as if it were his own. But he knew that he couldn’t take it away or sort it out for her. In this case, whatever the consequences she had to handle it herself. Choosing his words very carefully he said “If I were you, I’d let the man do the hunting from now on. If he is interested he knows where to find you. And right now, I suggest you give your studies priority as your exams start in 2 weeks time.”

Divya silently agreed with her father. Rahul now knew where she lived. If he was interested he would surely find some way to contact her. She only prayed that Shalini and he were not involved with each other. The easy way they conversed suggested a very close relationship whereas whenever Rahul and she met they never lost an opportunity to spar.
Taking her fathers advice to heart she began preparing earnestly for her exams. She had already revised a few subjects but since Rahul’s appearance, studies had taken a back seat.

Two weeks passed slowly. When writing her exams, time just flew but while studying for it minutes crawled. Her heart quickened everytime the phone or the doorbell rang but it never used to be him. She went to the library thrice and walked home all the time but never saw him anywhere. When she analyzed all their previous meetings, she had to admit that nothing earth-shattering happened between them for her to think that Rahul was interested. Her mind told her she was a fool to keep waiting but her heart refused to listen. Divya had fallen head over heels for Rahul and couldn’t just accept that he didn’t feel anything.

On the last day after her exams Divya did not feel the usual exhilaration she experienced of doing her exams well. All her friends urged Neetu & her to join them for a lunch and movie but she was just not interested. Only Neetu was aware of the reasons why Divya was so apathetic. She too thought it would do Divya good to be in the company of friends but Divya wouldn’t go and Neetu ofcourse would not go anywhere without Divya.

They were almost halfway home when a car stopped by them and the tinted window rolled down to reveal a familiar heart-stopping face.
“Hello!” greeted a very familiar voice. “How was the exam?”

“How do you know I have exams?” exclaimed Divya her heart leaping inside at the sight of him. Rahul got off the car and came up to her. He looked drop-dead gorgeous in a dark blue Tee and black jeans.

“You had exams” corrected Rahul with a twinkle in his eye. “You had your last exam today”. Then leaning forward he growled softly “I made it my business to find out” answering the question in her eyes.

Divya blushed. Neetu was watching the scene wide-eyed. When Rahul turned his attention to her she said humorously “Don’t mind me, I’m just an innocent bystander”.

Rahul grinned and asked both of them “Can we have lunch together?”

Neetu, without consulting with Divya agreed and muttered “About time”. Rahul looking intently into Divya’s face said cryptically “It was worth the wait”.

Exactly a month later Rahul and Divya were married with approval from both sets of parents. Their marriage was a grand affair with both sides rising to the occasion to make it a memorable event.
During this time Divya found out that Shalini was just what Rahul said she was – one of his dearest friends from college engaged to another common friend whom they were going to meet that particular day she met them. Divya met Vijay, a very calm and composed individual, at the wedding and thought he was a perfect foil for Shalini.

On the wedding night when they were finally alone in the room, Divya finally asked Rahul THE question which was burning a hole in her tongue for the past three weeks.

“Raaahul” began Divya, her eyes fixed on the alarm clock next to the bed.

“Hmmmm” said Rahul who was lying on the bed with his hand behind his head and watching the expressions flitting across her face.

“When did you realize you ….I mean…‘really’ liked me? She asked casually and turned her face away coz she didn’t want him to see her blushing.

“You are trying to find out when I fell in love with you” teased Rahul. He rolled on to a sitting position and tried to get her face in focus.

“Remember the 1st day we bumped into each other” said Rahul almost nostalgically.. “Mom had been telling me to pick up some books for her from the library. I bumped into you while coming out. One of the books that fell on my toes had your name written on it. It didn’t register at that time coz a pair of beautiful eyes were staring at me transfixed. I got a bit rattled and so just murmured something and vanished. And I went to Coorg on a 2 day trek with my friends on the same day. The trek was a lot of fun but I don’t know why, I was itching to get back. We reached back home around 4 in the morning. Within an hour after getting up from sleep I was at the library returning my very surprised Mom’s books.”

“I think we were meant to get together. How else can you explain your presence in the library the same time I was there? As soon as I saw you on the library floor I remembered your name. That was also when I knew for sure that I wanted to see you again. But you made me so mad that I walked out of the library without finding out anything” said Rahul grinning boyishly.

“And” prompted Divya entranced.

‘On the day you met Shalini for the 1st time, we were going to Vijay’s house which was in the opposite direction but I just couldn’t resist passing the library and luckily we saw you walking down the street lost in thought. I had already told Shalini what little I knew about you and it was she who gave me the idea of bumping into you” grinned Rahul wickedly.

“Whatttt? You mean to say you deliberately walked into me” cried Divya throwing a pillow at him

“Uh huh” grinned Rahul, fielding the pillow neatly. “I was sick and tired of going to the library everyday and borrowing books which mom made no effort to read. Why else do you think I introduced myself to you immediately and offered you a lift? I needed to find out where you lived. Infact I was ready to force you into the car if you didn’t get in”

“I got into the car only because Shalini was there. I figured I’ll be safe enough” said Divya loftily.

“Well, whatever your reasons, I got what I wanted. For once I didn’t have a problem with Shalini’s non-stop chatter. There I found out about your exam schedule amongst other details. By then I was quite sure of my intentions” teased Rahul.

Turning serious “But your exams were a major obstruction. Even now I am surprised how I managed to keep away from you for 3 weeks. Ofcourse some of the credit goes to your father also”.

Divya stared at him in surprise.

Rahul smiled wryly “Yes, he managed get hold of my phone number and asked me to meet him. We met and spoke at length…about my intentions. Something about me must have convinced him”

Divya was shaking her head in wonder. Her father hadn’t mentioned anything to her.

Reading her expressions correctly Rahul explained “He didn’t want you to be distracted during your exams. After that he must have assumed that I filled you in”

“Why are we discussing the past when we have our whole future to look forward to” dismissing the topic, Rahul reached for her.

It was only now things were becoming clear to Divya. So this is why Rahul did not make any attempt to contact her during those miserable 3 weeks. Her father was so busy with the wedding preparations that they hardly had a chance to sit down and talk. Rahul and she met each other often during the days leading upto the wedding but her pride forbade her from asking him.

As Divya rested her head on Rahul’s shoulders she smiled to herself. Someday she’ll tell him that luck did not have anything to do with their love story.......that they both tried equally hard to 'get together'.


Sunday, 18 May 2008

A Simple Love Story - Part 2

continued from here

Meanwhile, sitting up from where she hit the ground, Divya was writhing in sheer embarrassment, hoping against hope Rahul wouldn’t have heard the huge thud. What a way to make an impression. “I don’t think I’ve broken any bones” she muttered, flexing her toes and ankle.

“Let me have a look” growled a vaguely familiar voice. Rahul was already on his knees examining her foot. He poked and prodded for a minute and asked if it hurt at intervals. She answered all his questions in the negative. He then dropped her foot like a hot potato and stared at her accusingly “There’s nothing wrong with your foot”.

“I could have told you that” snapped Divya not liking the tone which he used. Why, he was acting like as if she went out of her way to deliberately trip and fall to attract his attention. ”Anyway what gives you the authority to pronounce judgments on my foot, for all you know it may be broken in several places”.

“The fact that I am a qualified doctor may have something to do with it I suppose” said Rahul roughly as he got to his feet and put his hand out to help her up.

Divya absorbed this bit of information & tucked it away for the moment. To show that she was miffed with him, she made a great show of getting to her feet by very obviously ignoring his hand. So involved was she in the drama she was playing that she lurched when pain shot up her left leg as she put weight on it. She would have surely fallen if his hands hadn’t reached out and steadied her.

Divya bit back the “thank you” trembling on her lips. “Take your hands off me” she snapped.

Rahul looked at her with a thoughtful expression for a moment & let her go. He just turned and went back to the books in the science fiction section.

Divya stood there dusting the seat of her jeans, looking at his back, knowing very well that she fouled up big time.

Apologize, go on apologize immediately” hissed Neetu who had come from behind.
“You were plain pathetic”.

Divya, by this time had come to the same conclusion. The question was how to apologize without losing one’s dignity?

She left Neetu standing there and dragged her feet towards where Rahul stood. He did not even turn when she cleared her throat. She touched his sleeve lightly to attract his attention.

Rahul turned and glanced at her in a pre occupied fashion and then stared pointedly at her hand on his sleeve. She dropped her fingers as though burnt.
“My friend thinks I should apologize” burst out Divya, waving her hand in the general direction of Neetu who was now engrossed in a “Principles of Rocket-Science” text-book.

Rahul watched Divya’s agitated movements and said nothing. After an awkward pause he asked politely “Your friend thinks so”.

“Well I think so too, otherwise I never would have come forward to humble myself in front of you” she flared.

“Apology accepted” he said gently then turned and walked to the counter. The librarian stamped the due date on his books and he walked off towards the entrance.

Divya not wanting to look like an idiot standing there staring after him, started to limp to where Neetu was standing, her mind in turmoil.

Rahul who had opened the door to leave the library, paused to look at them. Neetu nudged Divya who looked towards the door hopefully.

“The next time you apologize, try to look like you mean it Divya” he said amusedly.

“And what would you know about it” shot back Divya but he was already gone.

On the way back home, Neetu had to practically run to keep up with Divya who was marching(limp forgotten), barely aware of her surroundings. She was furious….. knew she messed up big-time but not ready to admit it.

Neetu had a smirk on her face as if she knew something Divya didn’t. She waited patiently for the penny to drop but Divya was too involved in the struggle between her mind and heart.
“Did you notice anything particular in that last statement he made” burst out Neetu, not able to hold in any longer.

“I don’t waste my time dwelling on stupid statements made by people” snapped Divya, conveniently forgetting the fact that she had been running and rerunning the entire conversation she had with Rahul all this while in her mind. She relented a bit and slowed down to let Neetu catch up with her.

“He addressed you by your name you idiot” burst out Neetu excitedly.

Divya stopped in her tracks, turned to face Neetu “GOSHHHHHHHHH”. She then breathed deeply to calm herself. She failed miserably. She let out a whoop and hugged Neetu.

“He couldn’t have found out my name today. That means he saw my name on the sociology notes I dropped the other day. Oooooohhh, he remembers my name, Neeeeeeetu” bubbled Divya and did a jig by herself on the road.

That night Divya couldn’t sleep. She kept wondering if she was making a mistake. She tossed and turned for sometime then sat up and considered her options:
One, he was not worth all this trouble so she should just give up – she turned this option over in her mind for 30 seconds and then promptly trashed it.
Two, leave it to fate – she was not willing to chance it.
Three, to go after what she wanted – now this was more like her. She was absolutely sure they were made for eachother, it was just a matter of time before he realized the same.

With this decision made, there arose another problem. How to make him realize that she was made for him without alerting him to the fact that she was chasing him. She was still mulling over this problem when she fell asleep.

The next morning saw her bursting with enthusiasm and energy. Her ebullient mood was so infectious that her parents & brother were soon caught up in it. She was not very surprised when her father wanted to have a word with her. He understood her very well; something in her mood alerted him and made him anxious enough to question her.

“Looks like your revisions for the final exams are going extremely well” he remarked. Divya was quiet for a moment. But she didn’t hesitate after that. She could depend on her father to give her sound advice and so she told him all what happened with Rahul and her feelings.

Ashok Rao was surprised to say the least but didn’t show it. His first instinct was to forbid his daughter from trying to meet this “Rahul character” again but he knew from experience that ordering Divya to do something was a sure way to make her stubborn.

“So what are you intending to do about it now” asked Ashok carefully.

Divya shrugged her slim shoulders “I have a few ideas but nothing concrete”

Ashok hid his relief and chose his words carefully “Give yourself a week’s time to mentally adjust to whatever you decide to do. Plans acted upon with haste have a nasty habit of boomeranging on oneself.” After a pause “What did you say his name was”?

“Rahul Varma” replied Divya absently. Then shaking off the introspective mood she got up and said “I have to go, I’ll be late for class if I don’t leave now. Don’t tell mama about it just yet, you know how she panics” she pulled her face ruefully.

Six days later Divya was no closer to finding a solution. Keeping her fathers advice in mind, all her ideas were scrutinized thoroughly and found wanting. Any idea she thought had potential was rejected by Neetu on the grounds of “mindless madness”.

Divya went to the library that evening supposedly to gather information for her essay on “Central problems of Sociological Theories”. Over there her discreet enquiries revealed that he had been there the previous day. She then listlessly borrowed “Sociological Theories of Today by P.K.Sorokin” and “Sociological Imagination” by C.W.Mills” and made her way home.

The sun was fading into the horizon and the leaves on the tree were whispering as breeze gently touched them. A stray flower brushed Divya’s shoulder and fell to the ground unnoticed as she walked past. A sense of hopelessness had gripped her and she was on the verge of making an extreme decision when she ran smack into a wall. Divya started in surprise and dropped her books. The wall then moved & bent to pick up the books which had fallen.

Handing the books back to Divya, the man said conversationally “How is that I’ve been in India just 2 weeks but have bumped into you 3 times?” When she did not say anything he tilted her chin with a finger and asked sarcastically “Cat got your tongue?”

Divya was struggling to swallow the lump in her throat as she stared at him. He looked awesome in a beige half sleeved shirt and black jeans. Her own lilac colored salwar paled in comparison or so she thought. She suddenly felt tongue-tied and couldn’t think of anything to say. Rahul looked intently into her face when she did not rise to his comment.

She calmed herself and tried to match his tone of voice “Can I have my chin back?” Rahul gave an exaggerated sigh of relief and dropped his hand. He then asked if he could drop her somewhere. Much as she wanted to, she reluctantly declined the offer.

Reading her guarded expressions correctly, he held out his hand and introduced himself formally “Rahul Varma, eldest son of Mohan Varma of Varma Industries. I’m a doctor by profession and am presently visiting my parents who stay in Indranagar.”

Shaking his hand, Divya also introduced herself just as gravely “I’m Divya Rao, daughter of Ashok Rao”. I’m a final year MA student whose exams are around the corner, hence these huge books” gesturing towards her books.

“A pleasure to meet you Divya. Won’t you reconsider my offer of a lift? If it will put your mind at rest, I’ve got a friend waiting in the car” said Rahul seriously.

Divya looked to where the car was parked and saw a woman in the front passenger seat, staring unashamedly at them. After 10 seconds of deliberation she accepted his offer.

After seating her in the back, he got in the drivers seat. Before starting the car he introduced Divya to the other passenger “Divya, this is my good friend Shalini Das and Shalini this is Divya Rao”.

Shalini twisted around in her seat and grinned at her and Divya murmured a polite “Pleased to meet you”. Rahul then asked her for directions to her house as he started the car. After directing him she settled down to answer his friend’s questions. Shalini was pretty looking, and Divya soon found out, was somebody who loved to talk.

Listening to her chatter for sometime, Rahul exasperatedly asked her shut up. She immediately punched him on his arm and asked him to keep out of the conversation if he was not interested.

All too soon the car stopped outside Divya’s house. She invited them in but they refused saying that they had to hurry to meet a friend. “Some other time, hmmm” said Rahul easily, keeping the motor running. Shalini waved as the car took a U-turn and disappeared from sight.

Divya half raised her hand and waved them off. Her mind in turmoil she turned and listlessly trudged up to her house. Shalini was an unexpected complication which she had not forseen.

to be continued.......

p.s- yeah I know I said I'll put it up in 2 parts. But the story is even longer than I thought it was:-S

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

My very own made-up Story - Part 1

Last December when I went home for vacation I found a bunch of papers inside a file which was going to the raddiwallah. I rescued it & knew immediately that I was going to put it up in my blog.

In school and College a few of my articles found place between the pages of the Annual Books. I briefly toyed with the idea of writing short stories, etc. There was no dearth of ideas but I never followed it up……it was too much of an effort.

Being a person who loved happy endings it was but natural to lean towards love stories. Now while posting it I smile as I type out what I wrote 14 years back. Some parts of it are so juvenile but I curb my fidgety fingers from meddling with the text. I wrote this short story when I was studying in college, February 1994 to be precise.

Now don’t think “Oh she fancies herself as some big writer”. I just want to say “No I don’t, I know very well that I don’t have the patience or the inclination to be a writer. All I just did was to post a story which I made up more than a decade back, fully aware that I may not write another one for the rest of my life. I guess I don’t want the effort I made to go to waste and just want it recorded somewhere. What place better than my blog where it will prized always:-P.

Reading back the last para I’m aware that I’m sort of defensive about my short story. Well I am…so there….

A Simple Love Story
[I know, I know it is a cliched Title. But I just wasted 20 minutes & still couldn't come up with an appropriate title. Anyways it IS a simple love story. Actually i wanted to call it A Short Love Story but its not short:-P, goes]

Divya was up to something. Her best friend Neetu was sure of it or why else would she have this air of preoccupation about her. Both of them were making their way back home after classes when Neetu realized that while Divya was making appropriate noises to all her questions, she really wasn’t listening.

“Snap out of it Divya” said Neetu almost worriedly “and tell me what is it that you are cooking up this time?”

Divya reddened a bit and Neetu gaped in surprise. Divya a final year MA Sociology student, a brazen hussy, a champion for lost causes, a person whose sharp tongue everyone respected and feared, actually blushed.

“Don’t look at me like that” snapped Divya half irritated

“Okay Divya, spit it out” said Neetu determinedly.

“Well nothing really, just that I met this g-guy………….” said Divya trailing off.

Curious, Neetu asked “Which guy?......ok so u met this guy. But why are you stuttering? And we are always meeting guys; in fact most of our friends are guys……?”

“Just shaddup Neetu and let me finish” yelled Divya.

“Okayy” said Neetu obediently.

“Well ok, I met this guy andilikehim” mumbled Divya.

Light dawned in Neetu’s eyes. “You mean you’ve fallen for a guy. Aha!!!! But where was I…. …” she abandoned the question half-way & asked excitedly “Tell me everything & don’t miss out even a single dialogue of this drama”

“But that’s just the problem. There’s nothing much to tell” said Divya mournfully. “I went to the Library this morning to borrow some books to do our essay on sociological changes in Rural India in the 19th century. On my way in I banged into this guy…Rahul Varma. Both of us dropped our books on each others toes. I was just about to give him a piece of my mind when I looked into his eyes. Gosh Neetu, they were the most beautiful pair of eyes I have seen in my entire life” said Divya fervently. “Everything flew out of my mind & I just wanted 2 keep looking. But he cut the eye contact & bent to pick his books. I too bent to pick my books and apologized for banging into him hoping he would graciously say that it was his fault & ask me out for coffee or something. But he just picked up his books, growled ‘watch your step’ and went his way. By the time I broke out of the trance I was in and looked around he was nowhere to be seen”

Neetu was quite surprised. People did not ignore Divya. Infact they gave her an appreciative second glance. Guys normally fought for her attention and it was she who kept her distance.

Divya, not unnaturally, was piqued. She knew that she was quite pretty and outgoing. She finally felt the attraction that she read about it books and simply couldn’t understand why he didn’t feel it. Recalling his reactions now, he looked as if he wouldn’t give her the time of the day.

“Is this guy from our college”? asked Neetu “or anyone we know”?

“No, he’s not from our college, nor have we seen him before” replied Divya absently.

“Then how do you know his name is Rahul Varma” asked Neetu genuinely puzzled.

It was written on one of the books which fell on my toes, stupid” snapped Divya impatiently. Seriously, sometimes Neetu can be so dense. Here she was trying to plan important stuff like how to ‘accidentally’ meet him again and there Neetu was asking silly questions like how she knew his name.

Neetu digested the information in silence. She could have easily pointed out that a name on a book didn’t necessarily have to be that person’s name. She decided to be prudent and keep her mouth shut; Divya, in tension was to be treated very carefully. “So what are you going to do it?” asked Neetu gingerly, after a few minutes of respectful silence, for she was sure that Divya had something in mind. If Divya wanted something badly she usually went after it single mindedly. The only problem was that Neetu was always included in these mad escapades.

“For the time being we’ll just go back to the library and hang around till we find him again” said Divya decisively.

“Do we have to go now” asked Neetu resigned to her fate. Divya was more than capable of handling the situation by herself but she still insisted on dragging her along.

“Not now dumbo, not even today since he just borrowed books from the library 2 hrs back. He may not even come back tomorrow but we can’t take the chance. For now we’ll just go home. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do” said Divya thoughtfully.

Both of them walked home in silence, each lost in her own thoughts. Neetu didn’t even want to know what Divya’s brain was cooking up. Neetu reached her house first, after waving her off Divya walked further down the lane to reach her residence.

The next morning Neetu followed Divya reluctantly to the library and proceeded to wait for Rahul to turn up. And they waited……and waited. It took 3 whole, long and boring days and then a quarter for Rahul to turn up. But turn up, he did.

"Does he have to look so good” grumbled Divya who was wearing a crumpled look and a grumpy face. Three whole days of being cooped up in the library made her tetchy. Rahul Verma on the other hand was looking cool and collected in a faded blue jeans with a dark blue half-sleeved shirt tucked in, a fine specimen of manhood who wouldn’t look out of place in a girlie magazine except for the fact that he had an intelligent look about him.

Divya and Neetu were sitting at the farthest corner of the reading room and could observe him without any fear of being noticed immediately.

Rahul gave back the books he borrowed, walked over to the science fiction section and proceeded to browse through the books.

“Ok, now you walk up to where he is standing, bang into him and apologize or flutter your eyelashes or whatever, I’ll then stroll up casually and take it from there” whispered Divya urgently.

Neetu looked at Divya disbelievingly. “You are crazy; there is no way I’m going to do something like that. It will look like a setup. So this is why you kept me in the dark about your plans, you knew I would never agree to come if I had known.” whispered Neetu in terror.

Divya looked faintly guilty, then adopted a very pleading expression” Do this for me please Neetu, I’ll be grateful to you till the last breath of my life”.

Neetu didn’t look very affected by this dramatic dialogue. They had been friends for more than a decade & this very dialogue put Neetu in many tight spots before.
“I apologize profusely, but I’m not going to do it. You are in this alone. I’m just here to give u moral support, maybe even to lend you my shoulder to weep if it doesn’t work.”

Divya’s face took on a “how can you ditch your friend in this crucial moment of her life” expression. Neetu feeling vaguely guilty said placatingly. ”Don’t you see Div, he’ll see through the act in a minute and we’ll be making fools of ourselves”.

Divya stalked off in a huff. She hardly walked 10 paces when she tripped and went sprawling on the floor. Neetu sprang up to go to her friend’s aid when she saw Rahul striding upto where Divya was slowly sitting up.

“Trust Divya to get what she wants without even trying” thought Neetu amusedly.

to be continued.......


I've divided the story into 2 parts......well I have been furiously typing the whole thing out, u know. I'm going out of town for 2 days. So the 2nd part should hopefully be up in 4 days time. Let me know what u think..........I can handle the brickbats but bring it on gently.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Stepping Stones

It takes atleast 25 minutes to reach office by car . Reason: the 2 traffic signals. Whereas if I walk it up, it takes me only 15 minutes & a mere 11 minutes if I walk fast. Needless to say which mode of transport i prefer......though it gets way too hot in summer.

Around 4 months back, a building which I passed by everyday on my way to work, was demolished and all the debris was carried away, making it a sandy expanse of land. Now atleast 4 minutes of walking could be reduced if I cut across this land to reach the parallel road. The only problem was...... crossing that land was like walking on the beach. Too much sand. If I was wearing shoes it was not that much of a problem & I just had to dust off the sand when I reach the office. But if I wore sandals then sand got between the sole & the sandal, made it difficult to walk, not to mention the feet and footwear very dirty.

Yeah I know. I just had to pretend that the building was not torn down & just walk the usual way. I tried...… but my imagination didn’t stretch that far. The usual way seemed longer than usual. And everybody else seemed to be tramping thru the sand & didn’t have a problem.

Each day I waded through the sand at different points, hoping there will be some parts where the sand will be less and then I could use ‘that’ path. But no such luck. Every path I took had pockets where the feet would sink thorough the sand.

One day while crossing the vast expanse I saw some stones lying around. I picked up 1 stone & carried it to the middle of the sandy expanse and placed it down. I was grinning stupidly to myself but the idea was sown. From the next day onwards I furtively carried 1 stone to the middle & placed it a little further away from the 1 which I placed the previous day. Somedays I couldn’t pick up a stone coz there would be people crossing the area the same time I was, other days I wouldn’t find a stone. One day I found an opened out carton which I dragged to the middle. I was so delighted with my find coz I could take 3 steps on the carton itself. When I came back the next morning the the carton was not there. Disappointed I looked around & found it in the far corner of the area. The wind had blown it away. I berated myself for not placing a stone on it. No, I didn’t go bring back the carton. But I continued with the ‘one stone a day’ practice. Few stones sunk thru the sand and some stones broke into pieces(these were not stone, they were clumps of cemented-something which gave away under pressure).

It’s been more than 4 months now. You’ll think I had time to pave a highway by now but it’s been tougher than that. But I had most of the ‘path’ fixed. Sand still got into my shoes if I was not careful. Another 10 stones would have done the trick but..

This morning I found a wall staring at me. All the sides of that vacant land had been blocked by large boards ……which meant they were going to start construction on the land.

I stood there for a moment and just looked.

Sigh……with a heavy heart I changed directions and trudged towards the curve.

p.s - If any of you didnt understand what I was going on and on about, shown above is a graphical representation. The dots on the sand represent my stepping stones......sighhh.....

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

My earliest memories....

Age: 4 yrs old
Location: Home, Bangalore

Denny the boy next door, and I were playing. Suddenly we found 2 dead cockroaches on the ground. Urghhh, I shrunk away. He went to them and picked up one of them by its antenna. He came towards me with it dangling between his fingers. I started crying & kept moving back.

I'm convinced my phobia of cockroaches started at this point.

Age: 4½ years old
Location: My Mothers house, Kerala

My mother, one morning after brushing my teeth & washing my face, told me that she had a stomach pain & had to go the hospital for 2 days. She asked me to behave & not give my grand parents any problem. She came back from the hospital after 2 days with a tiny baby wrapped in blankets, in her arms. Nobody would let me hold the baby. After sometime I noticed the baby was not in my mother's arms. I went & looked into everybody’s arms and nobody was holding the baby. I looked for the baby urgently coz I wanted to hold her while nobody was looking. I must have run into all the rooms some 3 times but didn’t see the baby anywhere. Where did the baby go?
My mother asked “What are you looking for?”
I said sadly “I can’t find the baby”.
She drew me into the nearest room and pointed to a tiny bundle of clothes on the bed. I looked inside & saw a teeny weeny baby with a tightly clenched fist waving in the air.

While searching for the baby I had passed that bed some 20 times. Whenever I recall that incident that surprised feeling is still there - how could I have missed seeing the baby? She was just there sleeping on the bed, all that time……within arms reach.

Age: 5 yrs
Location: 1 Std Classroom, School, Bangalore

I joined the school 1 week after the session began. I wore colored clothes for a few days and then 1 day the tailor came to the class. I remember standing in my petticoat in front of the whole class while the tailor took my measurements for the uniforms.

When I think back now I know that the petticoat adequately covered me but the embarrassment I felt still lingers.

Age: 6 yrs
Location: 2nd Std, School, Bangalore

I had a friend called Preethi who went home for lunch. Her house was some 4 -5 streets away from the school & took 10 minutes to reach. I took my tiffin along & ate my lunch in her house. If my parents ever found out they would have been horrified.
One day Preethi’s brother who studied in Frank Antony’s School brought his friend Suresh home for lunch. Suresh lived right above my flat in the colony. I don’t know which one of us looked more horrified. I was already making explanation in my mind as to what I’ll tell my parents. After lunch, Suresh waylaid me outside & begged me not to rat on him. I agreed magnanimously and went back to school relieved.

Now when I think about it, my thoughts automatically turn towards my '6 yr old' daughter and hope fervently that she is THE dutiful, obedient, transparent child that I think she is…….
…………..I bet my parents thought the same about me:-p.

There are more of them but I just wanted to put up the earliest four memories which stood out in my mind. Every one of you who reads this, please take it as a TAG-like thing to put up your earliest memories. I’d love to read them. But more importantly, you'd love to reminisce about it.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Forget About It

I saw U, Me aur HUM just a few days back & it has put the heebie-jeebies into me. The protagonist in the movie has Alzheimer’s and most of what happens to her strikes a chord in me. Ok, maybe I haven’t forgotten my wedding anniversary or where my house is located but I am prone to forgetting just about everything else. I forget where I keep my keys, I forget where I ‘hide’ money, I forget that I have kept something on the stove, I forget to do stuff at work, Sometimes I forget I packed lunch from home & order a takeaway…..imagine.

At home, most of the time I manage thru sheer luck though I would like to give God his due. Thankfully, my kids have sharp ears & nose, so many a time I’m rescued by their timely information…..they smell something burning….water overflowing……..

I make a list in my mind for 5 items from the supermarket. I take 2 minutes to reach for the phone & call them. By the time I’m ordering the stuff I’ve already forgotten 2 items in it. Ofcourse as soon as I keep the phone I remember it but that’s another matter. Where it matters most, my memory deserts me.

On the other hand my loss of memory works out advantageous for the people around me especially the kids. When they behave disgracefully I read them the Riot Act and banish them to the opposite corners of the room for the next 2 hrs. Only after they commit another misdemeanor do I realize that they have left their respective corners and have been wandering freely for the past, God Knows how long.
I never remember how much money people have to give me back unless ofcourse I have noted it down somewhere. Even then I forget where exactly I wrote it down.

Ofcourse I am known for never keeping any grudges. Yeah, you r getting the drift…I forget about it, most of the time. Like today, when I got up at 6.30am and stumbled out of the room my better-half who was already up, came and gave me a hug. “So sweet” I thought “but how come” also crossed my mind. Only an hour later, it struck me what the hug was for. Last night, he & I had an argument about an issue wherein I didn’t consult him before making a decision. Actually I knew he was right and so didn’t argue further. I quietly went off to bed, so he must have thought he hurt my feelings and hence the hug.

At work, I write down everything to be done in my work book. Even then I manage to forget stuff here & there. And this is the 1st time I’m openly admitting it…..I have actually stopped looking for a better job because i fear a more professional environment may not regard my forgetfulness with the same indulgency my present setup is affording me.

Yes, I know I’m not suffering from Alzheimer’s. But there is this fear that maybe all this is leading towards it. If my memory is this bad in my thirties then I shudder to think how it is going to be 2 decades down the lane.

As I scan what I have written above, it comes across as …as…totally worrying. I hasten to correct your impression……. I am not always like this. If I make up my mind about remembering something then ofcourse I will remember until I complete the task. But the question is just how many times can I focus my mind to remember this and remember that…..?

Sometimes when I am least expecting it, I find the money which I had stashed some 4 months earlier. This is the only silver lining in whole scenario.

So does anybody have any solutions to this…….other than suggesting writing everything down in a book(which I am doing). The best ‘Consolation and Practical comment’ will be remembered in my prayers for the next 1 week…….. No I won’t forget(see, 2nd last sentence of 3rd last para).