Sunday, July 19, 2015

28 Things I Learnt From Life

On 4th of this June, I turned 28 years. I'm nearing the fag end of my twenties (though I don't look a tad bit my age), and anxiously waiting for the 30s tag. Also, this June, I complete a decade of blogging. What started as a craze for html codes and website building led me to blogging. Back then, blogging was mostly unheard of. Last year, around this time, I came up with Being 27: The Pre Birthday Random Musings, which was 27 random things about me. This year, on the realization that Age is a high price to pay for Maturity, I've decided to write about 28 things that I learnt from my life so far. And yes, Happy Birthday to me!

1. In life, contrary to popular belief and faith, a lot of people get by with shit. Accept it, and deal with it.

2. Admit it if you're wrong. It's never too late for an apology. Sorry might be a difficult word to say, but say it when you're wrong. And when you say it, mean it. Own up your mistakes. Never be a coward.

3. Money isn't everything, but it is really something. It's necessary to save some. And it's useless to cry over the money you lost.

4. Some things are not worth fighting for. Some things are better off when you let go.

5. Life is not always fair; in fact, on most occasions, it is grossly unfair. Learn to deal with it.

6. Back to basics that we learnt as a kid, but chose to forget. The basic necessities of man is indeed food, water, and shelter. He can do without internet connections, or mobile coverage, or social networking sites. But clean water, clean place to live, and clean, palatable food are the basics. Recent experiences reminded me that.

7. People do some crazy things for friendship. Much, much more than for love, or any other relationships. If you've a friend like that, treasure him/her, no matter what.

8. You’re never too old to need your mom.

9. Another basic lesson I learned while growing up - Health is Wealth. Even a constipated stomach can give you a constipated mind. Money spent on prevention, especially Medi-claims, is a wise investment.

10. Never lie to your doctor. Also, when it comes to health, always get a second opinion, no matter how reputed the first doctor is.

11. When in doubt, follow your gut.

12. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

13. Never build a relationship based on lies. There may be times when you will have to lie about some trivial things. But the very foundation on which a relationship was built should not be one of stone. You'll find it hard to keep it from tumbling down.

14. Some of the best moments in life are best enjoyed with little or no clothes - childhood, cold showers, swimming, a good bowel movement, and yes, sex too.

15. A lot of things in life is like the stock market. You might incur huge losses in the run. There's no use crying over the losses. Also, clinging on to losing stock in hopes of a reversal is mostly in vain, and foolish. Move on.

16. Don't live in your past. Move on. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is avoidable.

17. Never get yourself a haircut on the day before an important or special day. Get it at least a week before it.

18. If you’ve made your point, stop talking.

19. Nothing lasts for ever. Nothing. BlackBerry, I miss you. No phone can replace the relationship we had. The things I've done with you! Why did you have to screw up the things between us?

20. When your friend says that she can never conceive, "Yaay! You don't need to worry about contraception anymore!" isn't an appropriate or expected answer.

21. When you’re with new friends/lover, don’t just talk about old friends/lover.

22. God is the biggest excuse Man has invented, and Virginity is the most overrated virtue on this planet.

23. In life, it is important to be passionate. Everybody needs a passion. If you've not found yours yet, it's high time you did.

24. When travelling, keep your wits about you. You'll need in more than on one occassion. Trust no one.

25. At least once an year, take a vacation without your mobile phone, internet, and TV.

26. Life is so much simpler without the so called social networking sites. The friends you've are for real.

27. There's no cut off age to be an asshole. They are found in all age groups.

28. Behave to people younger to you and your subordinates the way you'd want older people and your superiors to behave to you. Give and take respect.


Thursday, May 07, 2015

Have you met Jack?

It was late into the night. Weekend traffic was still heavy on the flyover that looked like a hurdles athlete who had taken a leap to bypass the city. The sky was still crowded with rain clouds after the surprise summer shower during the evening, and there still was the occasional glimmer of a distant thunder in the otherwise dark and gloomy night sky. The wind was chilly, and fairly strong. As I looked on from the balcony on the 13th floor, bright lights zoomed past each other on the six lane traffic, creating a distinctive sound each time they covered a concrete slab that made up the flyover, and moved on to the next.

I was leaning with my back against the steel railing of the balcony and feeling the chill of the metal seep into my body, which, combined with the wind, was giving me goosebumps. She was sitting on a rugged wicker easy chair which was probably seeing the last lap of its life due to the neglect and carelessness at the hands of its owner. She shook her head from the side to back, hoping the bang that fell on her face would go back to its right place. She brought the lighter closer to her lips, and lit the Classic that stuck out of her mouth. As the tip grew into a glowing red, she let off a huge puff of blue smoke into the night sky and inhaled.

She threw the lighter onto the small coffee table that came with the chair. It has cracked. Just like her, I thought. She leaned back onto the chair, and blew another round of smoke into the air, but this time slowly. Her gaze turned to me.

"So.... Have you met Jack?", she asked.

I was a bit confused. I didn't remember any Jack who was a common friend. Nor did I seem to recollect anyone by that name whom she had mentioned before. But I knew it better not to ask her then. I nodded in denial.

She leaned forward and reached out to the empty glass on the coffee table. She got up and walked a few steps to the table in the dining room. There was an almost empty bottle of Jack Daniels on the it. She titled the bottle and filled her glass with the golden brown liquid. Once she was happy with the quantity she had poured herself, she kept back the bottle on the table, never bothering to put the cap back on it. She removed the lid of the ice bucket, and dipped her hand inside it. She grabbed whatever she could with her hand, which was three pieces of ice that had already melted quite a bit, and dropped them with a plop into her poison.

She grinned at me, and danced her way back to balcony on her toes, doing an occasional turn with the glass raised high, as if it were her partner. She came to the balcony, and leaned on towards me. She reached till my chin. I could smell alcohol in her breath. And tobacco too. And above all that, the very distinctive smell of her. She grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, and pulled herself closer to me. She raised her other hand, the one with the glass, and began to swirl the golden liquid inside the glass in front of my face.

She looked straight into my eyes, and asked me again "So..... Have you met Jack?"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reflections...

I've been away from blogging for some time now. To be precise, nothing after that one post in January. As usual, I put the blame on the hectic schedule and the lack of inspiration. Somehow, I felt the need to post today. A short one, maybe. But nevertheless, a new post. And I've decided that it will be a status update on 2015 and my life so far.

2015 has been full of surprises for me. Three months are almost over, and I've loved most part of it. Professionally, this new year has been productive. I'm expecting a transfer and I may have to move out by next month end. I'm hopping that it will be to some place far.

The year has also been awesome as far as my wanderlust is concerned. Three months, and I've already covered places in three states. Theatre festival, road trips, paragliding, Bangalore (twice, actually), it has already been a handful. And I loved every bit of it. And I'm expecting to go some place in the first week of April itself! And more states and countries by the end of the year!

My profile on Tripoto is active now, almost one year after I joined the website. The link to my profile is here. It has travelogues for some of the trips I undertook. And a few more are waiting to be written. It's a nice feeling when people like your trips and add them to their wishlists. The feeling is incredible.

I'm slowing picking up on my lost interest for reading. I completed reading two novels among the dozens that I've been putting away. I hope to pick it up further, and return to the ways of voracious reading.

On the flip side, I've lost a ton of money on the stock market. Ironic as it may sound, since the stock market has shot up in leaps and bounds during recent times, one particular stock I invested heavily in tumbled down. Even though I tried everything to minimize the loss, I still lost heavily; almost all the profit I had made so far from the stock market over the years. And with that, my dream of backpacking through Europe this year.

FootNote: 28 is a couple of months away. The idea of being in my late twenties is finally dawning upon me. And that has left me wondering whether I waited a tad too long for making certain decisions.

ToeNote: Seems like the idea of me being in my late twenties is not my concern alone. My parents, apparently, seem more concerned than me. Long story short, I've a profile on at least one matrimony site. For those of you who know me, if you've got up from the floor and stopped laughing, I know it would be a pleasant surprise. But yes, its' true. I guess I'm already scar(r)ing the eligible women for life with the profile!

NailNote: I'm really happy that the Honourable Supreme Court of India decided to scrap the Section 66(a) of the IT act. My sincere salute to all those aam admis who worked hard to achieve this. All those social media addicts, and media moghuls, shouldn't you all take a lesson from this?! Ideally, it would be "Barking dogs seldom bite!". Now, sue me!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dear Rahel.....

Since you've been gone for long, let me tell you. Do you know what time of the year it is now? It is that time after the sweetness of November, when December descends along with the chill and the winds. And in the air, hangs a special smell. A smell that went through a transition over the years. The smell of discovery. Something I've been in love with ever since.

It's now that Alstonia Scholaris, our good old pala maram, starts to bloom. And woman, isn't that smell heavenly?! Every day, I travel many a kilometers on a road that's spotted with huge pala marams that stand towering on the roadside. Every night, as I sit in the almost empty KSTRC and head back home, the smell of the bloom enthrals me, as if it were a celestial dancer. Or more suitably, one of the many Yakshis from the pala maram, who wants to lure you with the unmistakable fragrance. With the chill of December and the long winds, you could never say no to her even if you knew it could be last thing you would ever be smelling. In the mornings, the tarred highway would be pleasantly white at places; the deathbed of the bloom, the reminiscent of a one-night stand!

I said discovery because I always thought that Plumeria was actually what we call as Pala. And was I scared as a boy of going by the muddy pathway near my ancestral house because there was a Plumeria tree slanting on to the road! It wasn't until my third year in college, when we moved in to the Men's Hostel 2, the fort of SFI loyals, that I discovered the real pala.

Straight in front of the hostel was a huge Alstonia tree. And there were other such trees dotting the landscape around the college. During one winter, Estha was mesmerized by the strange fragrance that seemed to fill the insanely chilly nights near the college. Ever inquisitive that Estha was, he asked the workers in mess the source of this divinely smell, only to discover that this would be considered far from divine; that his beliefs were proved wrong. While everyone chose to stay away from the tree at night, Estha lied down on the small tarred road just beneath the ill fated tree and blew away blue smoke into the night, thinking his many thoughts, waiting for the beautiful Yakshis to descend upon him, take him to their abode, make sweet love to him, drain away his body fluids, and leave him a lump of flesh beneath the tree for the dawn to discover.

And then there were five deaths in the college, one after another, within a short span of a few months. It didn't help that the last one was a suicide, right inside the hostel that the tree over shadowed. That the body was discovered after three days, found hanging from the fan.

Sometimes, I wonder what the tree did to gain such notoriety. That such a heavenly fragrance can be considered to bring upon doom. But I was always in love with the tree and its call of love. Maybe, I love all things evil. But then, my dear Rahel, who are we to judge? We are just quite grown up children and pretty childish adults.

Love,

Estha

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Cup of Chai, Her Majesty's Way

To all the chai lovers out there, have you ever wondered how that hot, steaming brew reached your hands? No, no. I'm not here to explain the process of picking tea leaves and drying, and processing them into what you find in colourful packets in your local supermarket. I'm hear to rant about a trip that I took recently to one of the many tea estates in Kerala.

I took a road trip to Wayanad on 27th of last month. There were four of us and the destination was a tea estate bungalow in Wayanad that belong to one of the biggest business groups in India. The estate was one among the many the group owned in India. One among us had a friend who worked as the manager in one of those estates.


The bungalow was in the middle of the tea estate, old style, with sloping roofs, common to every tea estate. It wasn't built by the British and the architecture declared it openly. A long, narrow, winding, stone paved path took one to the bungalow from the foothills of the estate. It drive was about one and half kilometers, but it would take one about 20-30 minutes to negotiate it and reach the top, especially if it has rained. 

                     

Surrounded by tall deciduous trees, the bungalow gives you a warm, cozy feeling. But the striking feature about the estate, the bungalow, and the need for this post is the culture being followed. It was the British who paved way for the development of the tea estates in Wayanad and Munnar. Even 67 years after the British left India, these tea estates still follow the British culture and hierarchy religiously. 

The estate managers are pampered in true British style. You've a full time cook, a house keeper, and a gardener to cater to your needs in the bungalow. Hot, steaming food is served round the clock. And you've people to cater to every need of yours - to make beds, to do laundry, provide you clean sheets, clean the house, tend to the plants, and what not! And they stand with utmost reverence and look up to their "masters". The managers are provided with an old Royal Enfield, company maintained and serviced. Add to that the fact that the official uniform for the managers is shirt/t-shirts tucked in with company issue half trousers complete with leather belts and shoes!

The final touch is added by the fact that the company still follows the system left by the British. We still find a lot of British Raj existing here openly. For example, the estates have a strict hierarchy system, and you've access to people only on a need basis. There is the manager, the assistant manager, the supervisor, and then the different classes of plantation workers. The managers are not allowed to mingle with the locals, or make purchases from any of the shops near the estate! All your supplies are to be purchased from the company owned store some 20-30 kilometers away!

                                       



Sometimes, we take things for granted. The manager of the estate tells me that there was an uprising among the estate workers recently that saw a lot of violence. As a remnant of the struggle, I had noticed two red flags on either side of the main gate leading to the estate. As you take a sip of the hot beverage and read this, you didn't know that there are a hundred stories to be told about that chai in your hand and how Her Majesty still influences the lives of thousands even after six decades of independence!

FootNote: The break was a much needed one and the drive was lovely. The Ritz came as a surprise with decent handling on the ghat road and a good mileage even though a good part of the journey was in first and second gears. The stay was awesome, the company was great, and the climate, lovely. I really wish I could spend more time in the estate.

ToeNote: The post was a long overdue one. The British feel intrigued me and left me uneasy. But due to my laziness, I couldn't find the time or energy to write it. I've always been a chai lover. I wanted to be a coffee lover, but it always ended up with the chai. And now, as I finish this post, I'm sipping on my cup of chai!

NailNote: The past week has been so phew! Hopefully, a post on it would be coming soon - The Week That Wasn't! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

One of Those Nights...

It is one of those nights when you feel like the whole world had slept, leaving you awake and lonely. Another bout of insomnia; you feel like your legs are warm. No. Not warm. They are hot. And sweaty. You get out of the bed and walk to the washroom. You take the health faucet and direct the jet of water onto your leg. You feel the coldness of the water hit you as you stand there with closed eyes, reveling in an orgasmic comfort.

You get back to the bed, your legs still dripping the water onto the floor with each of your step. You feel dirty. I'm going to get all the dirt on the floor onto my leg, you think. You tip toe for the rest of the distance to the bed and jump onto it. You pull the comforter over your body. You can't sleep without a blanket, no matter how hot it is. You've strange habits. You know it too. But you decide to keep you feet peeping out of the comforter.

You stare into the roof, into the darkness that forms an oblivion at the moment. You can hear the fan but you can't see it. You lie there for a while to see if your eyes will get adjusted to the darkness and you'll be able to see the blades of the fan churning out circles. You can't!

You take out your mobile and go through your list of "friends" and acquaintances. You wonder how you define a "friend". Strange! You hadn't thought of that one before. Naah. You were always too lazy to define your relations, weren't you. You see no one to whom you want to talk to.

Wait! There's X. You haven't talked to X in a long time, have you? You ping her and wait for a reply. 5 minutes! 10 minutes! She hasn't replied. But then, it's 1 AM. She might be asleep, you tell yourself. OR she might be talking to someone else, tells the devil inside you!

You fight the urge to call her and see if her phone is busy or on call waiting! You didn't want to sound desperate and lonely. And more importantly, you didn't want to hurt your ego! It was already bruised, wasn't it? No, you say. Scratched, yes maybe, but not bruised, you explain.

Today. No no. Today is Monday already. Yesterday. Yes, yesterday she had got engaged. Who's she? One of the people whom you knew. Someone from a few years ago. She had invited you to the function but you had already told her you wouldn't come. She didn't ask for an explanation either. Now that you remember, you send her a message saying "congratulations". Full stop.

The legs are warm again. And sweaty too. It makes you restless. You move your legs up and down on the sheets involuntarily. You remember the movie, where they would use this to let the audience know that there's love making going on! Love making? Really? You're surprised at yourself! Okay. Fucking! Happy?!

Where did it all start. Wasn't the engagement. A couple of days earlier, you had decided to ping another friend whom you "knew"! Funny thing that she's always online yet you both haven't talked in years. You ping her. She pings you back. The pleasantries are over. Congratulate me, she says? What? Really? You're married?! You say congratulations. You knew she had a steady guy for many years now. But still. *sigh*  Another one down! You're looking for the nearest exit. Finally, you say I'm happy for you. Really, she asks you. No, not really, you tell the truth. After all, you had nothing to lose. You find your exit.

The heat is unbearable. You throw the sheets away and get out of the bed. You strip yourself off your boxers and tee and walks straight into the bathroom, naked. You turn on your rain shower. The cold water hits you like realization and you stand there soaking it up, your hands resting on the walls and the water trickles down you hair, to your face, your body, and onto the floor. One of those nights, you mutter to yourself as you drink up the drops of water on your lips!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Because We Shall Never Have Paris...

My seat in the office is towards the back of the premises, in its farthest corner. No wonder it is called the back-office. I saw him talking to the person in one of the counters and she pointed towards me. He had a packet in his hand. I figured he worked for some parcel service and waited in anticipation as he walked across the room towards me.

"Are you Manish?", he asked me.

"Yes." I replied and looked above on the wall behind my chair. My name and designation was displayed prominently in blue and yellow. He caught my glance and looked at the nameplate.

"You've a courier."

I took it from him and signed the acknowledgement slip he shoved in front of me. It was a small package and on it was a handwriting I had never seen before. I shook it to get an idea of what was inside it. Whatever it was, it was small compared to the size of the packet. I tore open one of the sides using a pen knife. Inside was a small, rectangular cardboard box, the kind that key chains come in, rolled many a times in a bubble wrapper. I unwound the wrapper and opened the box. Inside was a pocket watch in antique copper finish with the Eiffel Tower etched on it. To the right of the engraved tower were the words "Paris". The watch was placed carefully in the middle of the box, with wads of tissue paper stuffed alongside to cushion it from the possible jerking during its transit.

Lying in the bottom of the box was a note, handwritten on a small piece of paper, unsigned. It read, "Because we shall never have Paris???". I instantly knew the sender of this thought out gift.

**********
Have you ever met someone and instantly knew how it was going to end if you tried to get any closer to them than as a mere acquaintance? And then, in spite of knowing that it will, in all possibility, rake up your whole life, and the routines and the principles you've set for yourself, taken the plunge to get deeper into them? An year back, I did exactly that, and now, I am here, holding the pocket watch in my hand, pressing the little knob on its top to flip open its cover, and then closing it with a click, only to open it again, and again, and again. By now, the battery of the watch had died down and time had frozen at 11.19. Strange, I thought. Time seemed frozen when we were together too. But now, it had began to thaw and I could see through it, stark reality staring at me through a bluish haze. She was gone. Her last message to me was sent a few days back. In the wee hours of Thursday morning to be exact. Quite an irony that she chose that exact date! The day after our supposed first anniversary of discovering each other's existence.

**********
He often told her, "You're me with a pair of boobs!". And she would smile. So, he wasn't surprised about the fact that she was gone. It wasn't like she wanted to stay. Neither did he ask her to. But the fact remains that she was gone, for ever. She was bore down by the weight of small, golden band on one of her fingers, with a name inscribed on its outside, the way he wanted it

She was entangled in a web she herself had created, and he simply stood there, watching, as she writhed and squirmed, weighed down more with each attempt to break free. At times, he thought of himself as a superhero from the anime she loved. He dreamt of jumping into the web, one hand holding tight onto the rope, while he grabbed her in his other, ultimately landing on the antagonist, Herr Doktor, as the sheer force of landing pushes him over. But alas, if only he realized that life is no superhero movie, and that you don't wear your underwear over your pants in real life!

While she was still there, she shook the very foundation of his life, the principles he had set out for himself and his self centered ego. As days merged into nights and the first rays of light dawned upon the night sky, every turn was a surprise to them. She talked about far away lands, of charming princes, of wars fought with a vengeance, and he lied there, listening, a gleam in his eyes, mesmerized like the king from The Arabian Nights!
**********
It rained that day. It started as a drizzle and later it poured. But it didn't matter. He claimed it was meant to be a surprise. But she knew it all along. And she was waiting for him from the morning itself. What happened next wouldn't have crossed either of their minds. Or did it?! But how, when, why? It didn't matter then, it doesn't matter now. They did learn some valuable lessons that day:

#1: You don't wear white when it rains and when he's coming.

#2: The smell of blood lingers for long, and sometimes it does smell good!

#3: Stupid is as stupid does.

#4: If you've got a gut feeling, then it's probably going to be true.

#5: Sometimes, it's good to be spontaneous and simply let go.

**********
She was many a first for him, and she taught him a few things that were new to him. She taught him to express in hashtags. She showed him the difference between being a girl and being a woman. She showed him what depth meant. She made him realize what he had been doing all these years. She taught him all, because he was her M Boy!

All he has to say now is "We may never have Paris, but we shall always have The Valley!" #MissUs



FootNote: The works on this post was started months ago, but the words were hard to find. Finally, it was promised for the 11th of June. And as always, promises were broken. Better late than never. 

This post is special, and hence doesn't have a ToeNote or a NailNote