Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beary Beary Scary

The sun shone blinding bright, yet I stood unblinked. I thought I knew this place; I stood on a green hilltop and on my right hand side was another large hill where three milky streams met together at a cliff, one emerging from the left corner of hilltop, another from the right and one from the center. From the cliff, the intersected streams cascaded down with high velocity in a huge pit causing the waterfall to appear like a milky white trishul on the green hill.

The sunrays added a golden tinge to the tiny droplets that flew with wind from the waterfall to the hill where I stood. As I saw down, I could see I stood on a large green cone whose head was cut off and a mat of lush green lawn was spread across the blunt head. I ran across the circumference of the hilltop to find an edge that I could trace to climb down; but every slope was a steep rocky terrain between the grasses that would make me roll down and bump my head.

I settled on a rock on the circumference with my chin resting in my palm thinking a route to climb down. How on earth, did I land here? Huh, I couldn’t remember!

The sound of wind was deafening. I could feel the moisture the wind brought from the waterfall to the hilltop that I sat on. I couldn’t see a single human who would hear me cry and rescue me. I felt like I could demonstrate the next episode of I Shouldn’t Be Alive on The Discovery Channel.

Suddenly, I could hear some swooshing of footsteps on the grass on the other corner of the hilltop. Did God answer my prayers? Or did he send someone to my rescue? Even in the deafening sound of wind, the sound of his palpitation was loud and clear.

I could see a large black image emerging from behind a huge rock. May be a local tribal man was coming for my rescue.

I blinked twice to believe what I saw. A dark, hairy image ascended on the other corner of the hilltop. I blinked again to clear my vision.

It wasnt tribe, it wasnt human; it was a dark black, large bear, an omnivore.

We stared at each other from the opposite corners of the hilltop. We stared, stared and stared for some more time.

I was still trying to think what would look pragmatic when it lifted its frontal legs and roared aloud and began running towards me. The dark brown eyes on its black hairy skull were filled with aggression, grudging, Either Me or You.

Run, my subconscious mind commanded me; and I began running.

But, I wasn’t running to escape. I wasn’t running away from the bear. I was running in its direction. It was unreasonable why I ran towards it; did I not know the consequences it would cost?

We stopped on the center of the hilltop, its eyes catching hold of mine.

It stood in a boxing position springing slowly in excitement and its eyes were filled with violence.

I should have been afraid, but, I wasn’t. Instead, I was aggressive.

It punched me on my left cheek and turned to run.

I pulled it forcefully by its fur and that pained its skin. It moaned and vaulted on me, causing bruises on my arm by its teeth.

I growled a large scream, pulled it by its ears, down on the ground and kicked it at the center of its belly.

It lied down, suffocating.

As I was celebrating my victory with a monstrous laugh, it pulled me down on the ground and ran away.

I ran behind it until it reached the circumference. It stood at the circumference with fear filled eyes looking at the steep slope of the rocky hill.

I caught hold of the fur on its back and dragged it on the lawn of the hilltop. I jumped and held its neck. Then, I roared aloud and caught hold of its throat by my oral cavity. My canine teeth buried deep in its throat and I sucked in all the blood from its body.

It cried for a moment and then lied, unmoved.

As its blood reached my taste buds, I realized a familiar sweet milky taste. It tasted like… like milkmaid.

I yelled a victorious scream.

But I could hear another scream. Someone called my name on the top of her voice. Did anyone know me here in the hills? Did a human come to my rescue? And what do I tell them about this bloodless bear that lied like a vegetable besides me?

All of a sudden, there was an earthquake. The hill was shaking, the rocks trembled down the hill and the waterfall quavered.

It was my mom, quivering me, to wake me up and get out of bed to begin my day.

For the first time in my life, I ate chapatis with milkmaid in my breakfast and left for office… And I bet; the milkmaid tastes just like the breakfast I had on the hilltop...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Romance Termed Girlish

December 2009
“Crap! What did you say? You bought what?” Suresh asked me while we were traveling in a local train in December. I held my current read – Five Point Someone in one hand and pushed Twilight in my bag, the one I’d read next .

“Twilight” I said, in a low tone, wondering what was wrong with buying Twilight.“

Come on, that’s a novel meant for female readers; not for men!” He shrugged, emphasizing more on the last three words.

“It’s just another novel dude, what does it have to do with one’s gender?” I asked, this time in a high volume, now wondering how it was related to the gender of the reader! I was talking about Twilight, and he reacted as if I had bought a female gossip magazine where the ladies discussed their bedroom and bathroom fantasies.

“You’ll know when you start reading it. It’s girlish!” He detained his thoughts.

“Whatever! It’s a love story, and will have both men and women in it” I hoped.

Thereafter, we never discussed about it – for he knew I wouldn’t discontinue reading Twilight on his discouraging recommendation; and he was right.

March 2010
I lied on bed, reading Twilight, when my brother snatched the book away from me.

“Give it back to me”, I yelled.

“What’re you reading?” He asked, closing the book to see the cover page.

“Aurghhh! Twilight!!!” He yelled, with an expression as if he had smelt rotten eggs.

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked, still lost in the romance of Edward Cullen and Isabella Swan, the lead characters of the best-seller.

“Bro… I’ve read three chapters from this – this story is so girlish.” He too, like Suresh, made a move to discourage me.

“What’s girlish about it? It’s about the love between Bella and Edward; and you know Edward is…” I protested; the anguish in me mixed with the curiosity to find out what exactly is meant by girlish and how is romance related to the term girlish!

“The romance in the story is much girlish…” He swayed the book back in my lap and left the room; I boarded my train of thoughts again to analyze what is meant by Girlish Romance!!!

May 2010
“Hey… Long time man, how are you?” Aneesh called me from his hostel in Pune.

“I am fine, how’re you?” I folded Twilight keeping a finger at the current page to set a bookmark.

"I am fine as well,” he fingered my weak point, “So which one's recent?"

“Twilight” I murmured, hoping he wouldn’t comment on it being girlish!

“I have seen that movie! I can tell you the entire story!” He suggested.

“No, thanks! I prefer finding it on my own; and get some value of my three hundred rupee notes.” I continued. “You know, Suresh and my bro commented it to be a girlish story. I am glad that at least your opinion is different.”

“I don’t disagree with them. I watched the movie only for the sake of my girl.”

This was unnerving. Suresh and Bro had commented without reading Twilight. Aneesh saw the movie and approved of it being girlish.

“What’s girlish about it? And what is meant by girlish at all?” I interrogated, angrily.

“They only gazed at each other and analyzed their behaviors till second half. Most of the time, they’d exchanged glances and eye-talks. It’s so effeminate.” He answered, “And how about the vampires being rational thinkers?”

“What’s masculine?” I asked, geared up for an argument of effeminate versus mannish.

“Something that has pace, action, hunt and haunt!” He replied.

“And rational thinking is effeminate?” I argued, “We can’t do it?”

“You’re impossible!” And then he changed the topic discussing his campus to my corporate life and their pros and cons.

I hung up.

This moment
I am at chapter 21 of 24; there’s a girl, there’s a boy – the romance begun with gazing towards each other, proceeded with eye-contact, gloomed with affection and went on to kisses from forehead to lips. There was sunshine, there was greenery, there were clouds and there were rain. And then, the story twisted to vampires, their hunting practices and warfare.

Is Twilight counted as a Girlish Love Story only because it is narrated from a Girl’s point of view? If that is so, then, I guess that we men really need to work upon our mindset. I have had my female-friends read novels like Two States and I Too Had a Love Story narrated from a Boy’s point of view; and they didn’t make faces at it being mannish, but my male-friends seem to find stories narrated from a Girl’s point of view, indigestible!

I am genuinely perplexed as to what exactly is classified as Girlish Romance, if at all, there’s anything like that.

I always knew Love as Love, there’s a girl, there’s a boy and they both hold for each other a sense of affection that’s unrestricted, spiritual and blissful.

I always knew Romance as Romance, there’s a girl, there’s a boy and there’s love – and Romance happens between both, together!

This is probably my first blog, where I am opening up a forum and awaiting an answer from my reader friends, to a question, as to how be Romance classified as Girlish and Mannish? It’s okay if you’re a Twilight fan, it’s okay if you’re a Twilight critic, it’s okay, if you’re not fond of reading at all – my question is generic – what is Girlish Romance? And if at all, there’s something like that, then what is Mannish Romance?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Fast Three Days

“Real generosity towards the future consists in giving all to what is present.” I was at page 14 of Robin Sharma’s ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’. Sujesh had recommended me this book when I was hunting for a novel. As I turned each page, the novel was getting interesting. Each full stop in the novel increased my curiosity to know Julian Mantle, the center character of the novel. But today, I was unable to concentrate on the award winning novel. All I was thinking about was the Fast Three Days.

The three days that had just passed.
The ones that came so slow and went so fast

I was traveling back from Bangalore to Pune on 16th August; and having no companion, I thought its better to read this book. But the words in the novel couldn’t hold a strong grip on my mind. I closed the novel and asked Grace – my fellow passenger for a pen and paper to jot down this blog. Yes, I began composing this blog in Udyan Express that left Bangalore on Sunday, 16th August 2009 at 8.30pm.

It was in the month of June that Sujesh had told me that for the weekend of 14th to 16th August, he and Sumesh are planning for a trip to Bangalore. Bangalore always excites me because like every other IT professional, even I have many friends who work in the Silicon Valley of India. And what makes it more special is that I completed my Green Field Training (Accenture’s official post-campus training) in the same city. Along with Sujesh and Sumesh, I decided to join in with Abhilash and Pinky joining in from Chennai and Vanita from Mangalore.

As I already said, I have many friends at Bangalore – I can classify them broadly as College Friends and Accenture Friends – some of them are common on both the categories though. I was in a dilemma as to which group shall I spend time with. Though I have experienced life for past 22 years, being an emotional fool, I have still never learnt to prioritize my friends – all of them are equally important for me. With many plans and discussions, it was finally decided that we would spend time with Accenture Friends on Friday 14th August by visiting Bang-3, Bang-4 and Bang-6, and then begin with college friends for a nearby hill-station, Coorg, on Friday night and return to Bangalore by Sunday late afternoon and board our trains back to our work locations on Sunday evening.

From the month of June, the wait for the month of August was on. The calendar seemed to turn too slowly. The month of August arrived after a long-long wait and I began my shopping – right from jeans to shoes to innerwear!!! I was just too excited… Then came 13th August when the hands of clock seemed to move too slowly. Me, Sujesh and Sumesh were waiting at Kalyan station to board the Udyan Express that would carry us in it and drop us at Bangalore. Finally, it arrived; and our journey for the most waited three days of the year began.
As the train began, everyone started waving me a good bye. I didn’t want it. I wanted some more time to be spent with them. I want lifelong time to be spent with them. I felt like getting down from the train and letting the train go. But practically this was not possible. Foolishly emotional people also have to think logically sometimes.

As everyone waved me a good-bye, Umesh began walking with the train. He was wishing me happy Journey– but my mind didn’t agree to listen to him. This journey didn’t have any happiness for me. As train gained momentum, he had to slow down and finally stop waving me a good-bye like everyone else did. All my friends appeared farther and farther and smaller and smaller – and once, they were completely out of sight.

My cell phone rang, near Sumesh’s coach Sindhu Nair, Sujesh and Mervin were waiting to wave me a good bye. I waved them a good-bye as well. But in no time even they were out of sight.

I came inside the train and began looking for my seat. It was the same seat where I had placed my bag near the door. I sat and told this funny incident to my friends. But network problems while traveling didn’t allow me to talk to them for long.

Everything was over now. I had to reach back to where I was destined to be. The novel didn’t entertain my mind. The water didn’t quench my thirst and the food neither satisfied my taste buds nor my hunger. I kept all of them away from me and asked Grace – my fellow passenger for a pen and paper to begin writing my experiences about the days that I had been waiting for from months and how they passed like the flash of a camera.

I wish I had a time machine through which I could go back to these days and re-live them. I had begun composing this blog on Sunday evening and am finishing this today on Tuesday evening.

Every time I listen to FM, it reminds me of the songs we were singing on Friday evening. Every time I see a cloud, it reminds me of Thalacauvery when we were above the clouds. Every time I see water flowing, it reminds me of river rafting experience.

I wish, I really wish I had a time machine to go back to those Three Fast Days. If this is not possible, I wish my life shows me many such days again and again in my life.

I miss you all friends… I really miss you all… Not only the ones mentioned in these blogs – but each one of you…

I request you my friends, please take care of your emotionally foolish friend. He needs you! He might have learnt to stop crying before you, but he hasn’t yet learnt to stop crying before himself.

Day of Adventures

Click... click... click... I could see flashes when I woke up on 16th Morning. Mervin had just come out of the bathroom after a cold shower and Sujesh and Sumesh were clicking pics of him clad in a towel. I was the last one to enter the bathroom – as this plan gave me more time than others to be bedridden. Which are the famous songs that the beggars in the local trains sing usually was the thought that ran in my mind. I completed all my activities in the bathroom with the same thought in my mind. As I completed my activities, a bulb glowed beside my forehead.

“Mere yaadonme, Mere Khwabonme roz aate ho tum, iss tarah bhala meri jaan mujhe kyu sataate ho tum” I began in the dickey with a tone worse than “Deka he peli baar”. I was successful in irritating everyone in the cab. “Abey phate dhol ki tarah bajna band kar” Sindhu yelled at me. But her sweet voice could explain me that she was enjoying it. But this fun couldn’t last longer. The Ghats of Coorg re-instantiated the traveling sickness in me and I began vomiting – empty stomach. The sour and bitter fluids in my stomach were flowing out through my mouth.

I had to then shift my base from dickey to the drivers’ side seat. Accompanying me again was Umesh. But this time, he was in the window and I was besides the driver. “How long is the way to Bangalore, uncle?” I asked the driver. His irritation was clear on his face. It was obvious of him to be irritated for what one expects if one is being asked the same question after every half an hour.

I wanted to arrive at Bangalore before 3pm to meet Sindhu Namithesh and Sindhu Ramakrishnan (my Accenture Training Friends) before I return to Pune.

On the way back to Bangalore, we halted at the banks of a river for some rafting experience. It would have been stupid of us to have missed that experience because there was no clue if we could have such activities again. Though I was running short of time, I agreed to go rafting. “Adi wants to do everything irrespective of the time available”, I could read this statement on the face of Nilesh who had been coordinating with both the Sindhu about our meeting.

With the floating jackets, helmets and paddles we sat in the raft. We were two teams – the left one with Umesh, Pinky, Nilesh, Sindhu and Me and right one with Sujesh, Mervin, Sumesh and Vanita. Behind Vanita was the trainer who guided us in rowing the raft. Splash and we began the raft. “Row Forward”, “Row backward”, “Stop”, “Get Down”; the trainer kept instructing us about the method of rowing we must follow in the rapids.

“You can jump out of the raft in the water” said the trainer as the raft arrived in the safest place with no rocks around. Sujesh sprang inside the water. Seeing him standing vertically with the support of the rope around the raft, I thought may be the river bed isn’t too deep. Even I jumped in. It was now that I realized that Sujesh could be vertical in the river dues to the up thrust of the water, the floating jacket and his swimming talent. “Bachao... Bachao” I enjoyed asking for help. After sometime even Vanita, Mervin and Umesh jumped into water. It was real fun to have the drowning experience while knowing we are safe. The trainer showed us the technique to pull the drowning person into the raft. As we rowed forward, we saw fish eating birds, wild dogs and peahens. The experience was amazing.

“How long is the way to Bangalore, uncle?” I asked the driver uncle once we all began back for Bangalore after river rafting. By now, even he knew that I had some one very special to meet at Bangalore. Nilesh kept coordinating with Sindhu Namithesh and Sindhu Ramakrishnan postponing the time of our meet. From 3pm, we postponed the meet to 4, then to 5.

“How long is the way to Bangalore, uncle?” I kept asking him again and again. I was concentrating on two needles. The one that showed the hour hand of the clock and the one that showed the speed of the vehicle. On the Bangalore-Mysore highway we were crossing the speed of 180kmph, yet I was not satisfied. The clock was ticking too fast. I was still asking uncle to drive faster. After river rafting, this was another adventure that we were going through – traveling at a speed of more than 180kmph.

Time now was past 4.45pm when we were welcomed by the irritating Bangalore traffic. It took us more than an hour to reach Banashankari. Refreshed at Sindhu Nair’s place, me and Nilesh started for BTM at 6.15 and reached there at 6.50 due to the traffic on the Sunday evening. Obviously, the mercury of Sindhu Namithesh and Sindhu Ramakrishnan who were waiting for us from 3pm had risen to the level of sky.

“Friends are here to understand you”, Sindhu Ramakrishnan said in a soothing voice as she noticed the feeling of guilt on my face. I should have reached a little early to have some time to be spent with her but now there was no point in crying over the spoilt milk. I had spoilt her mood and her evening.

Wasting no time, we began looking for an auto to Bangalore City Railway Station. After a long wait, we got into one. Over the travel towards the station, we were discussing about our New Year party we had at The Unwind Island during the beginning of 2009 and about the days that are never going to come back. We were discussing about why we had only 24 hours in a day during these three days. We were discussing about how far we are from each other and how farther are we going to be.

When we arrived at the Railway Station, we purchased some extra platform tickets for Nilesh, Sindhu Namithesh, Umesh, Mervin, Sindhu Nair, etc who were expected to arrive at the Railway Station anytime to see off all the non-Bangalore residents. I saw that my coach S9 is 11th coach and Sumesh’s coach S3 is 5th coach. I, along with Sindhu Ramakrishnan stood near 5th coach and asked everyone to join us there.

At about 7.50pm, everyone had arrived. I forgot to see which direction I am standing. Instead of standing at the 5th coach from the engine, I was at the 5th coach from the end – which was S9 – my own coach. When Sindhu Namithesh told me it’s my coach, I went inside and kept my luggage at a seat besides the door and stood near the door. The minute hand of the clock was advancing. The time now was 7.55pm.

“Please someone stop this clock from ticking any further.” I said. I didn’t want the clock to reach 8.10pm – the scheduled departure. I wanted to spend some more time with each one of my friends. All three Sindhus, Vanita, Pinky, Nilesh, Mervin, Sumesh, Sujesh, Umesh… I wanted to spend some more time with each one of them.

I was feeling uncomfortable. There was a pressure that was building beneath my throat. Yes, the tears had already been formed in my eyes and they were waiting to flow out. But I was trying to control them. May be I had grown up now to stop myself from crying before others. But the comfort level for me was zero.

As clock ticked 8.10pm, my smile reduced from 4inches to 2inches. It’s now that the train will carry me towards Pune. But with every minute delayed by the motorman in starting the train, my joy was coming back. I have had 5 minutes extra to spend with my friends. The extra minutes then increased to 10, then 15 and finally 20. I hugged my friends, they consoled me. “We will meet soon Adi” they said to me.

Time now was 8.30pm. The motorman blew the horn. The train began.

Day of No Rest

“Deka He Peli Baar... Saajan Ki Aankhon Me Pyaar” I was singing in a tone as bad as I could and the time was past midnight which means 15th August had begun already. In fact, it was so worse that if the beggars in the local train had heard it, they would have murdered me for I was a major threat to their profession. Assisting me were Umesh and Pinky. Vanita joined in at frequent intervals. We had forbidden the sleep of everyone in the cab. Initially, we all were singing together, but as one by one people started failing in their war against the sleep – our desire to irritate the sleeping monsters with our singing skills increased.

While we were singing, we were also looking out for the petrol pumps at the roadside; for those were the only places we could probably find restrooms while traveling. The chill in the nature, the rainfall and the water we drank for quenching our thirst while singing had given us the answer. But nothing on earth had the power to bring down our energy levels. Finally, at a lodge, Nilesh discussed with the lodge owner and made some arrangements for us.

When Umesh woke up after his sleep of about two hours, we sung all the songs we could recollect of Akshay Kumar. International Khiladi, Khiladiyonka Khiladi, Aflatoon, Mere Jeevan Saathi – you name the movie and Umesh could begin with the songs and I and Pinky would hum with him. As we reached the Ghats of Coorg – I began with Ye Ishq Haaye of Jab We Met fame. But the Geet in our team – Sindhu had already fallen asleep.

We didn’t notice when did the moon set and the sun rose. We had reached Coorg and we checked into the Saman Lodge – different rooms for boys and girls. After all, it wasn’t like the Hotel Decent of Ratlam. We checked in at 7am to refresh ourselves. After a little lying on bed and cold showers, we left from the lodge at about 8.30am.

We went to a restaurant that appeared quite cheap and affordable. But we realized the expenses only after completing the breakfast. A bowl of two tea spoonful chutney cost Rs.7 and a plate of four rice-pooris cost Rs. 40. Now I know why that hotel had no menu card and the waiters do not tell the cost of the cuisines they serve. Anyways, they knew that the tourists come to such places once in a lifetime and they must make most if it.

Now began the tour in Coorg. We visited the waterfalls in the hills of Coorg that marked the source of river Cauvery. Click... click... click... the cameras and the cell phones just didn’t stop flashing. Once on the land, once on the bridge, once the right pose, once the left, once the waterfall in the background, once the river; we had captured each moment of it.

Climbing over the gate that restricted the entrance to the bottom of the waterfall, Nilesh, Sujesh and Sindhu went at the adventurous place where the water fell from the high mountains down on the rocks. The rest of us preferred to watch them enjoying too close to the water.

After having a Naariyal Paani, we all began our tour from the waterfall towards the Thalacauvery temple. On our way, we saw various animals. The cattle we saw on the roadside didn’t consist of cows and buffaloes. Instead, we termed them as hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephants, etc. – but the software that produced them had some bugs.

On the way, my traveling sickness took a toll on me. I began vomiting and had to relocate from the dickey to they driver’s side seat. Accompanying me in my sickness was Umesh to take care of me. Sitting besides a bore like me, he was falling asleep and falling on his right side – on the driver. We then used the hand lock technique that I had learnt during my fire drill training in Accenture to prevent him from falling on his right side.

We had to park our vehicle more than a kilometer away from the Thalacauvery temple as most of the parking space between was already used up. This helped us in getting more number of backgrounds for clicking the pictures. The rocks, hillocks, cliffs, trees, we didn’t leave any opportunity of getting a good background for the picture.

As we entered the temple, we had amazing experiences. It was the first time I had seen the rituals like dipping in the holy water; and asking for a wish and throwing coins in the wishing well. What amazes me the most is the existence of underground water on the top of the mountain!

Then, we climbed a few hundred steps to reach the top of the mountains to find ourselves amongst the clouds. Obviously, we didn’t leave the opportunity of standing on a cliff and clicking pics amidst the clouds.

With this great experience that turned all of us on, I and Pinky caused a turn off for Umesh. Umesh was climbing on a thin pole constructed on the top of the mountain. The pole had small pipe like structures on opposite sides to help the climber hold the grip and balance himself/herself. He asked me and Pinky to click his pics as others had already begun climbing down the ladder. As we geared up with our cameras in cell phones, he kept climbing higher. My heart began pumping so fast that if my oral cavity was a little large, it would fall out from it. The camera went on standby or the keypad was locked – I don’t remember. I just couldn’t think of what I must do as Umesh had almost vanished behind the dense clouds and the strong winds. As he got down the pole, he yelled badly on both of us – his voice justified his anger when we wasted his efforts by not clicking the pics correctly. I felt sorry for him – but what else would a coward like me do.

After this, we returned to the city place in Coorg near our hotel and visited a nearby garden. We had an experience as if we were rehearsing for the next season of Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao when we walked on the muddy lanes between the grasses and bushes to click interesting pics over the edge of the cliffs.

The rainfall thereafter, caused us to run from the same muddy lanes towards the vehicle which then dropped us near our lodge. Drying ourselves at the lodge; me, Vanita, Umesh and Pinky decided to go for a walk to explore the places around our lodge.

It is still a mystery for me if we had come out for exploring the places around our lodge or for by hearting a few routes around. We were walking on the same streets sometimes clockwise and then anticlockwise, discussing each others personal lives and the most favorite topic of every bachelor – the requirements we seek in the life partner and Arranged Marriage versus Love Marriage. I do not remember how many hours were walking, how many kilometers we covered, how many rounds we did; all I remember is that even after having a sleepless night and a restless day, this walk didn’t tire me at all. Instead, it reinvented some more energy in me.

Thereafter, we had dinner at an unreasonable restaurant and headed back towards the lodge. Nilesh, Mervin, Sumesh, Sujesh, Sindhu, Vanita, Pinky and Umesh – I had the best time with all of them. Though I do not wish to say this statement – I was missing Abhilash. It would have been more fun to visit Coorg with him in the company. “Never mind, I will check him out later when he calls me”, I said to myself while we returned back to our lodge to be lost in the wonderland of sweet dreams. After such a long time of awakening and enjoying – Thoda rest to banta hai!

Day of All Friends

Day 1 – 14th August 2009 – Friday – began with much disappointment. We were in the train – of course, sleeping. I do not know how suddenly I woke up at midnight. I sent Abhilash two text messages – one to wish him on his birthday and second to ask him to board any train for Bangalore from Chennai on the same day if he feels better. But he didn’t reply. I learnt he is still ill and won’t turn up. I couldn’t contain my anger. I wanted to slap him for two reasons. One – for not visiting a doctor even after I repeatedly kept asking him from Monday. Two – for being sick and not boarding his train for Bangalore from Chennai on 13th night.

We got down at Bangalore City station at 9.45 am and went to Banashankari – where Sindhu Nair (my college friend who works with Accenture Bangalore) had arranged accommodation for us. I am really grateful to her – else we would never know which place to head towards after getting down at Bangalore. Freshened up at Sindhu’s Friend’s place – me and Sujesh left for Bang-3 office which is the most special for us – as it was the one where we spent most our weekends during Training to have lunches, dinners and games in the cafeteria.

As we reached there, Sujesh headed towards his previous project bay to meet his ex-teammates and I went to Tower-C cafeteria and called my Training friends there. After all, they were the only people I knew there, but they worked for different projects. Anitha and Karunya who were looking stunning in the Saris they wore for their ethnic day came to meet me there. “Adi, you have now become trendy. Looking cooler than previous”, I received the comments for my outfit – the ones that I was really waiting for. I had purchased the outfit only to show them. Anitha’s happiness was obvious from her smile and Karunya hadn’t changed at all. Her sentences still begin with “Ha da, No da...”. Joining us there was Manasa who was on bench in Pune for about 9 months and then relocated to a project in Bang-3. But I had too less time. With the inter-office shuttle that leaves Bang-3 at 1pm, I had to go to Bang-4 to meet another set of Accenture Friends. I was fortunate enough that I could meet Meera and Saigeetha before the shuttle started.

At about 1.30pm I reached Bang-4. Lucky enough, I could have lunch with Reshmi and Nilesh. Reshmi was looking “simply” beautiful in her pink outfit. I purposely quoted the word “simply” to highlight her simplicity. Though Bang-3 is a bigger office, I could meet most of my friends at Bang-4. Ankit, Jineeth, Sindhu Namithesh, Ashwini, Girish, Mohan, Saranya Balraj – you name them and they were there. Fortunate enough, I had ample of time to meet each one of them. The next office I had to visit was Bang-6 for which the shuttle from Bang-4 was at 4.20pm. Sindhu Nair – a sweetheart that she is, accompanied me to the shuttle. Her sari, jewellery, accessories and make-up perfectly suited her. She looked like the most eligible bride. Alas, I am not a Malayali.

At 5pm, I reached Bang-6. I called up Chetan who belongs to the same hometown as me – but we had never met before, though we had a set of mutual friends. He directed me to the cafeteria where I met Kavipriya and Sindhu Ramakrishnan – only to listen to the heated argument asking me why I got down at Bangalore if I wanted to go to Coorg the same day. Why did I visit them if I was so bad at finding time for them? To be frank, it wasn’t an argument. It was only an announcement. I had no answers to their questions. But I didn’t want to go back from Bangalore without meeting all of them either. Each one of them is very special to me and each one of them means a lot to me!

Then, from Bang-6, I and Sindhu Ramakrishnan headed back to Bang-4. But this time instead of an interoffice shuttle, I was traveling in a Bangalore Municipal Volvo. Sindhu Ramakrishnan was smart enough who took this decision and we reached Bang-4 to re-meet most of our friends. The reason we came back to Bang-4 was that Sindhu Ramakrishnan wanted to see Sindhu Namithesh who was looking gorgeous in her black sari with golden embroidery and matching accessories.

At Bang-4, I met Sujesh with whom I had parted ways in the morning. Me, Sujesh and Reshmi went to Forum – the best destination at Bangalore for youths to meet. Waiting for us there was Chetan – my hometown friend whom I met only in Bangalore. And joining us there was Malvika, our Accenture Friend. The boys’ dinner at Forum that night contained a Mc Veggie Burger and the French Fries that actually were ordered by the girls and emptied by the boys.

Waving a good-bye to Chetan, Malvika and Reshmi, me and Sujesh headed back to Banashankari – as we had to collect our luggage from there and begin our journey to Coorg with College Friends. At Banashankari, I met Sumesh, Mervin and Sindhu Nair – who had returned from their dinner. In a few minutes, joining us were Vanita, Pinky and Umesh who had spent their day at Infosys Bangalore.

From the last time I had met them, there was a remarkable change in each one of them. Pinky – with whom my conversations never longed more than Hi and Bye was now talking so much that even a gossip monger like me was speechless before her. Mervin – who was the most obedient scholar in the college now appeared like the Lord of Back Benchers. One thing I must say – may be he has taken his singing talent too seriously. It doesn’t matter to him if we are on a street or in a mall. He begins his performances wherever he is, much to amaze his fans. His body language and expressions add more life to his performances. Umesh, who was a boy next door in the college – now is referred as Omi, and this name suits him perfectly for his impressive looks and well built body. Though this name suits him, I found it a little difficult to accept it – for I have always heard him with the name Umesh. One thing that hadn’t changed in him was shaking his head while talking, to cause his hair brush his forehead.

It was first time after the college that I had met these three folks – Pinky, Mevin and Umesh. I’d met them after 27 months. Considerable changes in each one of them! And I loved the changes I noticed in them. But no one noticed the changes in me. “You still look like a kid who studies in ninth standard”, everyone has the same comment for me. I still wonder... what is the reason that I do not grow???

Peep... peep... blew the horn of the Tavera. It had arrived near Sindhu’s Place at Banashankari. We all jumped into it. Mervin and Nilesh sat besides driver – the place where no one among us could disturb their privacy. Behind them were Umesh, Pinky and Vanita and couple of bags. And in the dickey were Sumesh, Sindhu, Sujesh and Me.

“Ganapati Bappa Morya” we alarmed the beginning of our journey towards Coorg at about 11pm. Each one of us had a long day on 14th August. Umesh, Nilesh and Sindhu had returned from work. Sumesh and Mervin had spent their day roaming in Bangalore – causing profits to the auto drivers. Vanita and Pinky had met their respective friends at Infosys Bangalore. I and Sujesh met ours in Accenture.

Even after such a long day, the energy levels of each one of us were on a high. We all had a lot of enthusiasm. I guess when friends are around us, our body automatically generates the positive energy to keep us get going. We had so much energy that Sujesh and Sumesh even exchanged the seats with Nilesh and Mervin – Right from driver’s side seats to the dickey.

“Gori Tera Gaon Bada Pyara” and other yesteryears classics were being played by the driver uncle in the Tavera. Soon the disc was replaced with Tashan with everyone humming the lyrics of “Falak Tak Chal Saath Mere”. Soon, we asked to power off the music system and powered on the songs in the cell phones. “Pehli Baar Mohabbat Ki Hai” is the one I will never forget – for the most interesting rhythm and most relatable lyrics. As the cell phones instantiated our singing skills, we began singing the rhymes which had no rhythm. Yet, they looked melodious when we all were singing together.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Virtual Friendship Day

I am not satisfied with the way I have composed myself in this Blog, yet I decided to post it because I am in no mood to recompose myself.


"Adi, it’s already past 5.45am, pour that coffee down your throat and run...” yelled my dad as I had to board the Indrayani Express for Pune at 6.30am from Mumbai and I was behind schedule. My favorite beverage coffee didn't seem that interesting to me this Monday morning because I was still in the hangover of the Sunday evening.

The mails I had received last week were still fresh in my mind.

In 1935 USA government had killed a man on 1st Saturday of august, next day his friend died committing suicide in his memory.

USA government had declared 1st Sunday of every August as friendship day.

On this 73rd friendship day (August 2nd) I wish you to send this story to all our friends.

I had received this e-mail from a friend in Bangalore. Internet is genius and computers are superb. Friends who are physically miles away seem emotionally so close and can stay in touch.

Being an emotional fool, Friendship Day is always very special for me. This mail reminded me of the Friendship Day celebrations of college days. My celebrations used to begin at least a week in advance. White bands for boys, pink for girls and red colored ones for special people. I also used to carry assignment sheets to take autographs of friends so that they stay with me forever instead of the autographs on hands that wash away with the next bath.

During those days, I was so excited about Friendship Day that when the year began, I used to note the date of first Sunday of August. And here I was now; I realized that Friendship's Day is only five days away only after I received this mail.

As the day came closer, my inbox was flooded with Friendship Day mails and the plans for celebrating Friendship Day were on a high. As the clock struck 11.55 on Saturday night, my cell phone began ringing which continued to ring till Sunday afternoon. I felt lucky to have so many friends who were wishing me a Happy Friendship Day.

Through messenger we had decided to visit the youthful Phadke Road in Dombivli on the evening of Friendship Day. Though I was at my cousin’s place at Dadar for a family function, I ensured that I reach Dombivli by 7.30pm so that if not the entire Friendship Day, may be I can try to spend at least some quality time with my friends this Friendship Day.

As I rushed from Dadar to Dombivli, at our meeting place, I could see only three of them – Prachint, Randheer and Chaitanya. Not expecting such a small group, I enquired about the presence of others. Not to my surprise, most of our friends didn’t want to come out of their homes on Sunday so that they preserve their energy for the hectic week ahead. And some were busy attending their respective boyfriends and girlfriends as they were high priority interruptions that occur anytime. Smitesh came in late as usual and began explaining us his busy schedule as we were planning for an outing the next weekend. One of our friends gave us a call to invite us at a mall as she had already reached there with another set of friends. But then it didn’t seem pragmatic to travel to another town so late because logically we would get time only to say Hi which would immediately be followed by a good-bye.

Bitching against the absentees, five of us entered Phadke Road. As expected, it was overcrowded with youngsters who were enjoying the company of their friends. Boys appeared in casual wear while girls were looking (at least trying to look) prettier than they actually were. I wish I ran a beauty parlor in Dombivli that day for a day’s earning of a beautician that day must have crossed my month’s salary. Most of the girls had purchased new outfits for this occasion. And some of them had emptied perfume bottles to have an attractive odor to maintain equilibrium with their face that gave an equally repellent feeling. As the monsoon offered little showers at frequent intervals, girls were the first ones to run beneath the shelters of roadside shops as they were afraid that the paint from their face would wash away.

Though Phadke Road is my favorite destination in my hometown, this year on the evening of Friendship Day, it didn’t excite me much. The usually happening-crowd seemed like the local train rush to me that day. The sexy sleeveless tops of girls appeared like my innerwear. That day we walked out in thirty minutes from the place where I generally do not mind walking for hours. By 8.30pm I was back home.

As I reached home, I was counting the number of SMS and e-mails I had received for Friendship Day. If there were so many wishes, why were there so less friends to celebrate the day. It’s true that the physical presence of friends doesn't matter but their absence on such occasions does! I took out the papers autographed by my friends during college days – so many messages and promises that didn’t end. I had a look at my friend list in orkut – it has crossed two centuries. The count of wishes crossed a century! Then why there were so few friends to celebrate this occasion?

As dad yelled even louder, I emptied the coffee in my throat pushing these thoughts down from my mind into my abdomen thinking they would flush out with my next visit to the toilet. But it doesn't seem to have happened so.

On Monday morning I was thinking if it should really be entitled a Friendship Day or just a Virtual Friendship Day? Today, on Wednesday evening, I still have the same thought...

This Blog is written out of sheer frustration, irritation and anger. Offences found, if any, are meant to be taken personally.