Saturday, May 31, 2014

Being 27: The Pre-Birthday Random Musings

I turn 27 in a few days; June 4th to be exact. I've been struck with another phase of writer's block after a good streak and I feel creatively challenged. So I've decided to blog about 27 random things about me, my life so far, and the random things that comes to my mind during the next hour or so. So, here we go!

1.) I'm a rationalist and an atheist since the age of 15.
2.) I believe in the communist ideology but hate the communist parties in India.
3.) I love travelling and I've a huge list of places which I want to visit/backpack through.
4.) I still have a scar from the bike accident that happened 5 years ago. My parents want me to get it removed by surgery. But I want it to remain, as a reminiscent of my college life and my first accident.
5.) I've never written a blog post for partaking in a contest, howsoever tempting the rewards were. I believe in writing straight from the heart and not forcing myself to write about something because there is expectation of something at the end of it. And I write for myself, and no one else and when and only when, the words come out straight from my heart. I hope I do not change during the course of time.
6.) I don't like the idea of social networking. I don't have a Facebook account. Nor do I've an Orkut/Twitter/MySpace/Whatsapp/WeChat account. My only social face would be this blog and my LinkedIn profile.
7.) I used to be an old timer in the A Smoke Filled Cafe room in Rediff Bol Chat.I really, really miss those good old days.
8.) I wrote my first piece of creative writing when I was 10 (that's as far as I can recollect). It was a single stanza poem with four lines which I still remember it. And one of the girls, whom I didn't like at the time, read it loud to the whole class. I still disliked her. And a year later, she did something for me that I'd never forget and would be ever grateful for. Thank you Jerin. I really wish I had kept in touch with you when you left the school a couple of years later.
9.) During my yearly appraisal a month back, my office head asked me not to be too straightforward and outspoken but to be "diplomatic". I simply smiled.
10.) I'm a sapiosexual. The ignorant among you, stop grinning. If you have to Google it to know what it really means, it probably doesn't concern you.
11.) When I wrote sapiosexual above, Blogger didn't find it amusing or worthy enough of adding to its lexicon. Instead, it suggested homosexual!!!
12.) The first thing I did when I turned 18 was to apply for a driver's license. I love driving and travelling. Happiness is driving a red car!
13.) Talking about driving and travelling, I'm waiting to buy my own Royal Enfield.
14.) I almost got thrown out of college for something that had to do with sanitary napkins!
15.) I was the college debate champion for consecutive years. I'd a wonderful debate partner in Nanditha.
16.) I started blogging in 2005. I left the blogosphere and quit blogging in my first blog because one particular woman was keen on harassing me and shooting false accusations at me publicly.
17.) I cut my first birthday cake ever last year in my office. It was a pleasant surprise and special too.
18.) I window shop on e-commerce sites when I'm bored!
19.) I'm a perfectionist and feel quite guilty when I've to finish up for the sake of finishing up.
20.) My first crush was probably my classmate from kindergarten. From what I know, we even used to go to the toilet together! Years later, I tried to trace her whereabouts but was unsuccessful. I've no idea where she's right now.
21.) After completing my bachelors degree in electrical engineering, I shunned two IT jobs to take up my present job in the bank even though it paid me less than half of what the IT companies offered me at that time. I hated the IT life and wanted to be in the service sector and reach out to people. But four and half years down the lane, there have been quite a few times when I introspected my decision.
22.) A year ago, I met someone here on the blogosphere and my world was never the same. She is so much like me yet so different. It lead me to learn a lot and unlearn a few. And she taught me to express in hashtags! Thank you so much, Kuch Bhi, because there could only be one you! #TheSpecialOne #GoodTimes
23.) I tend to be introverted in real life. I take a lot of time to warm up to people and I don't do that quite often too. So, generally, people have the impression that I'm arrogant and conceited. Not that I bother. I was voted Mr. Jada during my first year at college!
24.) I love the colour black and the number 13.
25.) I'm a die hard Chelsea fan and dream of watching them play from the stands at Stamford Bridge.
26.) I used to be a die hard fan of John Grisham and have read almost all of his novels. I loved his novels so much that I wanted to take up law after my school.
27.) When I die, I want to be remembered as a storyteller.

FootNote: This post turned out to be much harder than I thought. After a while, the randomness got stuck in nothingness and I was left wondering what to write next!

ToeNote: I realized that age isn't in any way related to maturity and that people can still be real assholes even when at 75! #MyFirstCourtCase

NailNote: There is one particular post that has been in my draft for a long time now. I fervently hope that something/someone inspires me to finish it soon enough.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Incredible India - One Bottle of Water

I had decided to blog about topics which, according to me, are socially relevant under the title Incredible India way back in June 2012. But the only two posts under this tab were A Boy Called Irfan and Aam Aadmi Boards a Train. A third had been playing inside my mind for more than an year but it never came out as words. But today, something happened that made me realize that the post was long overdue. So, here it is.

Today, I was on my back from Haripad after attending my friend's wedding. It was a blazing afternoon and I was tired. Tired because of two reasons. For one, I had barely slept the previous day, courtesy of Chelsea's loss to Atletico Madrid in UEFA Champions League Semi Finals. Add to that the heavy intake of Payasams and Boli at the wedding feast. No amount of achchaars and buttermilk could tone down my tiredness and sleepiness. All I wanted to do was catch a KSRTC to Thrissur and doze off for 5 hours.

My wish was answered after waiting in the hot sun for 15 minutes. I got an direct bus to Thrissur. As it happens with all the long distance buses stopping at intermediate bus stations, there was a good amount of commotion to get inside it. After a good deal of tugging and pulling, I managed to get inside the bus and get the window seat in a two-seater row. But the seat would be facing the sun throughout the journey. I had no other go but to settle for what I got.

Soon enough, an old woman came and sat next to me. She was probably in her 60s or 70s and hailed from the lower middle class strata of the society. But I hadn't noticed all this until later in the noon. I didn't even know till where she had taken a ticket. Once the bus started, I slipped into a deep sleep. This was something I don't do when travelling alone. But today, I was too tired and sleepy to care.

After about 45 minutes, the bus pulled into Alapuzha (Alleppy for you non-Keralites) bus station. By then, I had woken up from one of my numerous bouts of sleep and was sweating profusely. The sun was beating down on the side of my face and I could feel my skin burning. But I didn't dare to pull down the window shutters because I knew that it would make me suffocate and sweat even more.

Men, women and children pleading for financial aid is a common site in this part of the country. The modus operandi is simple - they enter the bus through the front door, make a heart wrenching presentation of their plight from the front side of the bus, and then go about collecting their "earnings" and leave by the back door. I see a lot of this drama every day on my way to work and I never bother to look their way. I'm of the mindset that if they are healthy enough to roam around the bus station every day, from morning to evening, doing this same drill over and over again, then they are fit enough to earn their own livings! And because of the same reason, I never give them any money.

Today too, a middle aged man with some "problem" entered the bus. As usual, he did his thing and started going from seat to seat, collecting money. Soon, he came to my seat and my co-passenger gave him a coin. It was probably 2 or 5 rupees. It was then that I first noticed her. I gave him nothing and he moved on. Now that the bus was on a stand still, I was sweating even more. And I was longing for something cold to drink. As if reading my thoughts, a man came by the side of the bus, selling chilled mineral water bottles. As soon as I saw him, I bought one. It was then that I saw a sight. The man who had come begging for alms was standing a few feet away, at a small shop, smoking a filter cigarette and someone else was counting his "collection" and giving him currency notes in exchange for the coins.

I wasn't the only one who saw him at that moment. The lady next to me saw it too. She leaned forward and stared at him for a long, long time. What she figured would be a part of his lunch money was going up in the air as thin, blue fumes! She was obviously angry at the man. I smiled at myself, opened my bottle of chilled water and drank it to my heart's content. It felt like bliss! As I screwed the cap on the bottle, I heard her speak for the first time.

"Ithinu ethreya koduthe?" (How much did you pay for this bottle of water?), she wanted to know.

"Irupathu roopa." (Twenty rupees), I replied. It was then I saw that the price mentioned on the bottle was fifteen rupees only. The smirk on my face vanished. But I knew I'd have paid even fifty rupees for such a bottle at the time. It didn't bother me much.

"Ayyo." (Oh my!)

"Kurachu velam veno kudikaan?" (Do you want some water to drink?), I asked her. Even now, I'm not sure why I asked that.

"Venda" (No)

After a moment, she asked me, "Mon evideya irangunne?" (Son, where are you getting down at?).

"Aluva", I said. I had already changed my destination from Thrissur to Aluva due to some other reason.

"Enna mon irangumbo baaki undenkil enikku thanna mathi" (In that case, you can give me the bottle of water when you get down if there is still left some water left in it.)

I felt a flushing of a cocktail of emotions in my throat. I offered her the water one more time but she declined. Soon, the bus started and I slipped into another set of broken sleeps.

Now to the incident that made me want to write on mineral water bottles more than an year back.

I've a good friend who worked in the same place as my previous posting. She hailed from a typical middle class family, was married, and had two small kids. Once, during one of our long chats about nothings, she told me about what had happened that day. The reason why she told me it was that her kids were fighting in the background over a bottle of water.

Her house was 2 kilometers walk from the bus stop. That day, her older child and she were walking back home after running some errands in the town. Her son had agreed to walk the whole distance to home and not crib about it and ask her to carry him on the condition that she would buy him a bottle of mineral water! And of course, he was to share it with his younger sister when they got home which, he apparently had some issues with, and hence the fight in the background.

What bothered me then was the fact that while shifting from our house (there were three of us) of two years in Aluva, we had a hard time disposing off the empty bottles of mineral water which we had drank. Finally, when we could find someone, it amounted to three sacks of 50 kg size each and that was after crushing every single bottle!!! We never switched on the refrigerator since we didn't want to waste electricity over a couple of bottles of water. (Yes, we were energy conscious!). Instead, we bought bottles of chilled water and ended up creating a huge piles of empty bottles in the kitchen.

Hailing from a state where many a water struggles were staged in Plachimada and surrounding areas over potable drinking water, I felt so guilty at that moment. It felt as if I was taking away a huge chunk from the kids' future. Today, the lady in the bus reminded me of those two kids and their fight over a bottle of water. For someone who was ready to dig deep into her pockets to help a fellow human being, she found the bottle of water too expensive! What was a luxury to two small kids was merely a routine for us!

FootNote: As I was getting ready to get down at Aluva, I offered the bottle of water to the lady. It was still half full. She was hesitant for a moment but took it when I insisted. I didn't look at her face to see her reaction as she took it. I didn't want to. I just gave it to her and moved towards the door. Now, I've no face to remember her by. I didn't want that either.

ToeNote: I made it three posts in the month of April. That would be a new record on this blog since its inception. The new year starts on a new hope. For those of you who are wondering if I'd gone berserk, for us bankers, the year starts in the month of April! And in all probability, it has got something to do with the 1st being April Fool's day!

NailNote: The past week and month have been full of surprises and twists, most part of which were pleasant. Here's wishing myself that the rest of the year follows on a similar high note! Good night.