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.


  1. hey that must have been quite a surprise to hear ur fren finally making a living out of making "buttons" :) i wud be so proud if i were u
    and dhow cruise is nice, do visit!

  2. o0o big big boat!!! that was a brilliant idea btw. jayannan sounds like a fun guy lol. to think it all started with buttons :D well blog about it wen you do go cruising :)

  3. ISH: Yep DC is no. 1 on my agenda

    g-man: Yeah Jayannan is a fun guy. Yep will blog abt the exp when i finally do go DCing.

    wtp: i dont knw abt fun but it just happens automatically with me:-).

  4. that was an interesting story. isn't it funny how things turn up? i am sure he thanks you in his heart for holding him to task long back. here is wishing you will get on that cruise soon enough.

  5. Yes, he mentions it all the time but I take no credit;-) modest personality that I am.

    and thanks, I hope so too.

  6. I was really intrigued to read where this was all leading. I came to the conclusion that u wanted to talk abt Jayanan and how the fact that u insisted that he learn buttons changed the course of his life. And so, what I infer from all this is that though buttons or any other 'silly' thing may seem insignificant, they could alter the very course of your life.

    Thank you. I hope I made a good inference from this whole thing!

  7. Bins: Actually I never thought that deep but I do agree that every point u mentioned has more than a bit of truth in it:-).

  8. so did u do DC? 2008 has ended already and i too new to ur blog to know if u hv mentioned abt it later sometime..
    one more thing.. since u hv been in dubai for long, can i be buggin u to take some tips here n there randomly? if yes, where do i reach u at?

  9. Nope didnt do it....not yet. A sort of hesitancy is stopping me...u knw with kids & all:-P

    Ofcourse u can contact me. My mail id is'll take it from there:-D

  10. hey Nancy, know what, I too worked as a Multimedia instructor at my first job..then realised that i had no real creativity in me and chucked it to study German..:-)
    Read your fiction love story...loved it...

  11. Hehe same here actually.....I was not creative at all but practiced and practiced to get the textbook diagrams right. And the beauty of it was tht none of the students knew it...they all thot I was some gr8 artist who knew to do everything;-D.
    I wd say U were smart enoff to stop midway & pursue German.
    And thanks :-))!!!!!


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