Friday, November 21, 2008

Irrepairable Loss

[Names of characters have been changed, for privacy purposes. Incidents are authentic, however]

February 6, 2006: early morning. I was in some train, going to Bhubaneshwar, where I was posted. An unkind beep of a message that had managed to reach me inspite of the feeble network woke me. Its contents were far more powerful, shook all lethargy out of me. I tried to jump up, and banged my head on the berth above me. You cannot sit upright in a middle berth in Indian trains, you know. "Ryan's mother is no more" ... the words were revolving in my mind, trying hard to sink in. Ryan's face kept flashing, his sharp features, his so cruelly handsome smile... the sense of loss seemed to get on me too. It seemed as if I had lost my own mother. What would I do without her? Where would I go? The emptiness was unbearable and I felt like jumping out of the window. I had never met his mother, but I am sure she was very pretty, given Ryan's looks. And was she an awesome cook? Needless to say, like all mothers of friends, she was. Ryan's Dad was dead too, way back in 1986... I felt helpless, cause I was more than 1700 km away from my friend.
November 18, 2008... maybe around 12 noon. I had just mailed some information to a consultant, and had logged on to the googlegroups created for our classmates to do some catching up with friends. Actually I had to send across a birthday wish. There was an unread mail... its subject line made my head reel. "Sad demise of my father.." from Rahul. Forgotten were my intentions to write a birthday mail. I sat there, staring at the mail. Our college days zoomed in and out... Rahul as the constant source of comedy.. so chivalrous that he would go sweaterless on a bitterly cold day for any girl. Rahul, such a genius he was with the computer..with him at the terminal, you would better not attempt to follow what is happening. Incidentally, he was the creator of the googlegroup I was viewing. Rahul's father was an architect like him, that's all we knew about the man.
The pagdi ceremony was the next day, the mail requested us to attend it. I chose to go, although I was not conversent with Noida. I was at least nearby, a voice inside convinced me. Weekday, workload, lots to commitments at home... nothing seemed important enough. I called up a couple of batchmates in Delhi, worked out a plan schematically, told my boss and tried to concentrate. I could not... felt the way I had done, about two years back in that train. I have known deeper versions of pain, loss of family and friends, but everytime, the emptiness gets on me. Rahul was in Bangalore, he must have come down. I was not particularly close to him, but since I was in the same city, I had to stand by his side during trying times....
Next day, I did manage to reach the venue all by myself. Religious dealings are no way part of my cup of tea, but I could somehow connect with the not-so-old man, whose life was claimed by a cardiac arrest. He seemed to apprecaite my presence.
Another friend had come over too. We returned together, chatting like school kids. But all the way, I thought about Rahul. He was very composed... but I could identify with his irrepairable loss... a gap that could perhaps not be filled again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Smart God

I am an atheist to the core normally. But in times of crisis, I tend to become weak. So I made a deal with God... You give me this for once, and I give up sweets. It is a big thing I had asked for, and what I offered in barter was equally big a step for me. God, given the apostle of kindness that He is, partially granted my wish... arranged circumstances so that things are set favourably.

Obviously I didnt do the needful. Thought I, "Now that things are set, the rest would happen automatically..." And of course, nothing is happening my way.

God is smarter than I thought.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Who tagged me?

Ms. Sushmita Saha, nee Sarkar

If your lover betrayed you, what will your first thought be?

If you are happy without me, its fine. Never mind what happens to me.

If you can have a dream coming true, what would it be?

A world tour.

What is the one thing most hated by you?


What would you do with a billion dollars?

Use it for my world tour. Save the remainder [if any] for rainy days.

Will you fall in love with your best friend?

The person you are in love with is your best friend, in his own right.

Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?

Loving someone....

How long do you intend to wait for someone you really love?

Lifelong... maybe in future lives as well. Love never dies...

If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?

Wish him all the best. Bask in his happiness.

If you like to act with someone, who will it be? Your gf/bf or an actress/actor?

No acting for me, sorry. Otherwise, it would be the man of my dreams in every step I take.

What takes you down the fastest?

Orthodox nature.

How would you see yourself in ten years time?

Bad question.

What's your fear?

Death. Not mine, but of my loved ones. I cannot bear the idea of losing anyone.

What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

She is different.

Would you rather be single and rich, or married but poor?

I need more combinations before I choose. I need to be with "him", married or not.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?


Would you give all in a relationship?


If you fall in love with two people simultaneously, who would you pick?

Firstly, I believe you can be in true love with only one person. Love is so immensely pure an emotion that you can feel it for only one person in a lifetime.

On second thoughts, is there a need to pick?

Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?

Not forget, neither forgive. I would believe there must have been a reason why he did whatever he did. [I may not be aware of them: its better than lame excuses.] No grudges.

If you get to go back in time and fall in love all over again , would it still be with the same person?


List 6 people to tag

No, I wont list. Anyone is free to take this questionnaire.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


A triplet of fiery eyes greet you the moment you look up at the hoarding at a distance. "I too am watching"... what are you watching, Ma? Definitely not Zee News, as claimed by the advertisement.
You witness my homecoming but do not even attempt to lower the ordeal of returning. Instead, you make me yearn for a neverending holiday at home... I need to be home, my house needs me, my parents, relatives, friends need me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Narrow shave

I hate working on Saturdays. My apathy begins right in the morning when my husband and brother in law give me sleepy looks...but I have no excuse. I have to work 6 full days a week, whether I like it or not. And all kinds of work load on to your shoulders on Saturdays as there is no "tomorrow morning" to put it off. 13th September was one of the rare Saturdays I had winded off things within good time. 6:15 in the evening, my sole goal in life was to get back. Things were as normal as they could have been. While I was crossing the road, I casually overheard the traffic policeman... he was commenting to a passerby, "Wonder why outside traffic is being allowed to enter Connaught Place, now that there have been blasts in Karol Bagh..." [Karol Bagh is quite close to Connaught Place, where my present office is located.] My ears prick up.."Blasts?" And the answer came straightaway. The sound was louder than anything I can think off. Deafening is too less said. It just robs you off your senses. As the black smoke rose higher, chaos reigned supreme. People running everywhere, directionless. The traffic had come to a standstill. The police somehow herded people to one side, urging us not to panic. "Go back where you came from, please take refuge" was the plea. I was perhaps in the innermost layer of the crowd, right against a building. I felt like sitting down. Somebody dragged at my arm.. it was a familiar face, although I dont know the name of the person. He is in my office, works in another department. He literally dragged me back to office. "You cannot move out," he told me. I knew there was no point arguing.

Back in office. Most of us who had ventured out were back. Ringing phones. Spreading rumours. Panic. Insecurity. Amidst the mess, some of the cool headed persons trying to work. Deadlines do not get altered because of bomb blasts. Some resorted to television for details, some to the internet. We huddled around someone who had put on an online television channel. I could perhaps fathom what I had just escaped. It was a crisis situation and something brought us together as we waited for time to pass. Someone was trying to crack some joke to break the subdued tension, but to no effect.

We contacted people who had not returned. Especially our draughtsman, Manoj. 6:15 he too had left and 6:20 the bomb had gone off. He was not answering his phone, neither were people at his home taking the trouble when we tried the residence number. The tension was showing on all our faces, words failed us.. but we were not prepared to give in, we kept trying.

Slowly, we decided to get back home. People clubbed together, so that nobody had to go alone. Especially the people who normally commute by the metro. Metro was discontinued ... neither was anybody eager to venture in. Finally, we were all home. Till late at night, I received calls, messages, people whom I never expected to look for me took the trouble to try incessantly to get through to me. Yes, Manoj was also located finally. All friends, relatives, acquaintances, all seemed to be reasonably safe. It was an experience of a lifetime..

Monday, August 18, 2008

Plans do flop

"Plan something for the weekend" was the buzz at home ever since we realized we have got 3 consecutive holidays coming up!! "Palampur!".. Palampur is finalized. The follow up action was my baby entirely all because my office is on the Metro Route and it is convenient only for me. So I did the needful, checked out bus timings, made bookings...all set. Our homework was done, as in we had made inquiries, collected information available on the web, planned the budget and all that. The two students at home met their academic commitments, we consumed all supplies at home [so that nothing is wasted], put the maid on unexpected leave, forbade everyone who might need to contact us in the weekend, packed whatever that needed to be packed. 14th had arrived.

I was supposed to reach the bus terminus from office availing of the metro. It being the eve of Independence Day [August 15], I was greeted with a massive queue for a thorough check. You cannot complain because although a formality, it is a matter of national security. The stopwatch has started. Time's running out. My security check is over, albeit brushily. I transform to Carl Lewis, draw out my smart card on the run, punch it and rush to the platform to a lower level and get into the train in the correct direction, just about to depart. Four stations, I am where I needed to be. I am conversent with the station building by now, so I know exactly which gate to head for. I am out. I am at the bus terminus. Its raining.

Yikes! The top level is closed, due to some repair work, security reasons, etc. I get down to the lower level in utter chaos. No signage to guide you through. No "Enquiry" counter. Nobody knows, or is willing to, help you. I chose to wade through the water to reach some end wherein I could locate the counter from which bookings were being made for buses destined to Himachal Pradesh. All I needed to know was the location of the bay from where I could board the bus. The people at the counter were just unreachable, engulfed by layers of hopeful travellers. I drew myself out from the middle of the crowd and chose to ask the bus drivers. It was much easier, I tell you. I located the bus.

Next thing to do would be to call up my co-passengers, my husband and brother in law. You have got to find them, dont you? " We aren't reaching" was the information broadcasted through my cell phone. I couldnt make out much, except for the fact that I needed to cancel the tickets. I took one last chance with the driver, asked him to wait for 10 minutes. Never have I been written off so ruthlessly by anyone, the way the driver "pooh-pooh"-ed me.

I needed to cancel my tickets. I daren't even attempt to sell my tickets like a blacker in a movie theatre, because there were policemen on the prowl. I didnt need to be in the lockup atop this mess. I tried to take a plunge in the crowd, but nobody was willing to let anybody inside, man or woman. 10 minutes, the bus if off. No cancellation, no refund. Somebody asked me to try from the backside of the counter, which was equally crowded. Luckily for me, some representative of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation was making way for himself in order to get inside the enclosure. I followed his path and gained a position near the grill. 9 minutes. I hold out the booking slip and scream, "Please cancel my tickets, let someone else go". No body is even willing to turn. 8 minutes. One of the lot suddenly takes the paper out my hand, checks it and asks, " Why are you not going? Dont worry, these buses dont leave on time." And coolly returns the tickets to me. "I dont want to go", I try to tell him, but who is listening? 7 minutes. A man next to me gets friendly all of a sudden and asks, "Why are you trying to cancel your booking? Sell it to someone.." I give him a mighty scary scowl and mutter, "Where would I get three people willing to go to Palampur?" A young boy, spectacles and a black T-shirt, was trying to communicate something to me from the correct side of the counter. I hold up 3 fingers; the glow on his face subsides. 6 minutes. Suddenly the previous man beckons him to our side. He asks me to handover the ticket. I become extra careful. "Got three people?", I ask. On a positive reply, I take up the authoritative role, "Collect the money and hand it to me... otherwise no ticket." 5 minutes. The boy in black, yet to believe his luck, asks, "Which bus?" I point out frantically at the bus whose driver I had spoken to just a while ago, "Thats the one". 4 minutes, I am asked to get the number of the bus written on the ticket. Although unwilling, I realized I was still in the front row of the crowd. So I called out to the man at the counter again. 3 minutes to go and there was a confused look on the man's face. He must be wondering what was wrong with me. However, since too many hands were dangling all around him, he decided against investigating and jotted the number for me. 2 minutes to go, but the job was done. It took just 10 seconds for the money and tickets to change hands. I guided them to the bus and pulled myself aside. Jittery, wet, tired. Called my husband and informed him. No financial loss. But complete draining out of energy.

I needed to get out. They were coming. I need to reach the rendezvous. Getting out was a tough task. I followed few people up a staircase. I knew the upper level was closed, but hoped to find a way out. You cannot imagine the mess up there. It was dimly lit, scarcely populated and there was water everywhere. The ceiling was pouring in incessantly at some points. I dodged some, some I couldn't. I had lost complete orientation of myself in the building. Looking out, I could see nothing but rain. There were some bookshops which kept my hope of finding a way out going inside me... but however hard I tried, I kept ending up in barricades, dead ends. Ultimately, I found another staircase to the lower level and somehow got out of the complex to a familiar area. I walked to the point where my partners-in-travel were expected, ignoring the rain, puddles.. I was just drained out of all energy. I shoved my watch and my cell phone inside my handbag and sat on the edge of a wall, waiting. The lashing of the rain varied as I sat watching people hustle by, some carrying luggage, some dragging children, some glued to their cell phones ...
August 15 is a day you cannot move in Delhi. We were planning a one day trip to Chandigarh to make full utilisation of the Saturday. But along with the incessant rain, my brother in law played a spoilsport... he was not interested in buildings, road patterns... so there we were, in Delhi.. but there is a silver lining to everything, our house needed us.. we did a lot of homely work, which was long necessary.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A moment

It was raining.... very hard. Three o' clock in the afternoon, but the sky was the darkest shade of grey. I was walking along the colonnade of Connaught Place. NDMC, or some agency, at some time, had installed loudspeakers somewhere near the ceiling, which are generally used for advertising, public addresses, etc. Yesterday, someone was playing some lovely music, apt with the weather. "Garaj baras sawan....."......What ambience!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Where are you? My friend, born on this day... I remember and miss you so much... in our short spanned acquaintance, I knew you very little but you knew me inside out! You could read my mind well before I realized it myself. My friend, you cared for me so much and it was in your smile I found supreme confidence and support.. I wonder where you are... so far that our technology cannot reach you... yet our souls connect. You can see everything, can't u? Dont you know what I am going through? Can you not set things right for me, the way you wanted them to be?

Happy birthday, my dear friend. I'll always remember this day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rain Girl

Born in the month of July, I have always been in love with the monsoons. The clouds turn me on, the chilly wind pulls me outdoors, lightning brightens up my face and the rains make my heart dance up with joy. Most people romanticise in spring, but I become poetic in monsoons.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The latest sensation of public transit in Delhi is the BRT corridor. It has been constructed in spite of all kinds of resistance from all possible sources. The trial run is currently on which lets the very confused Government decide the necessary alterations. The media publicises the project as a major failure.. its there on the front page everyday. But take it from me, a Transport Planner at your service. I admit there are shortcomings, none of which can be ignored. Still, now that immense amount of money has been poured in it, I feel we should carry on with it, modifying it marginally if required. It is absurd to think that by making life difficult for the motorised modes, you can induce people to shift to public transport which is neither comfortable nor reliable. Simple painting of zebra crossings does not make a busy road safe for pedestrians, especially when the traffic is compressed to lesser number of lanes. The signals do not function properly. The road geometry, the quality of the work are not up to the mark. How does one reach the bus stop in the middle of the road? What happens if a bus breaks down? Are cycle tracks justified? The questions are many, the answers missing.

Leaving these grey areas, let us try to appreciate the brighter side of this venture. So long, before the coming of these dedicated corridors, the buses had been wrecking havoc just by being present in the traffic flow. They would stop anywhere, violate traffic rules, what not. Now it seems as if the buses have been taken off the roads and driving is so much more comfortable. Congestion is there, but it is nothing more than what was there already. The bus ride has also improved, since you have to stop only at the bus stops. It feels absolutely royal to zoom past the rest of the traffic during peak hours.

Moreover, it is wrong to judge a system on the basis of a single stretch, which is just a part of a massive network. What was the Delhi Metro when it was introduced? 6 stations, no use! Massive investments, tremendous operation costs, meagre ridership. It was only when DMRC ignored the expert opinions and continued with their venture, that the system became a grand success. Now people look forward to the upcoming corridors and hope to be better connected. The onus is now on the people to support the BRT..let it be what it was conceived to be. One may have loads of queries, but why not wait and watch? Why not ask the experts?

Friday, March 28, 2008


I like travelling by bus. You may have heard all sorts of negative things about availing public transport in Delhi. All those facts are true - I'll endorse them wholeheartedly. But nobody publicizes the charm of travelling with the masses. One can see so many types of people... each one is unique.

With the modern revolution in mobile phones and advent of ipods, a headset is perhaps the most common thing seen plugged in the ears of urban youngsters. Mark the adjective. Urban. That encompasses young, cool, smart, tech savvy, rich... what not. But learn to expect the unexpected in a bus. There was a man, who is of short height by all means, drastically thin build, and to top it all, a beard which has gone beyond the stage of a stubble purely due to lack of maintenance. He wears a dirty kurta over a dhoti , and along his left side hangs a bag of flaming red with dramatic frills. He is perhaps a priest, one would think. Observe carefully and you would notice a thin wire emerging almost out of nowhere and bifurcating into both his ears. Here comes a modern man for you!!!

The other day, my bus was crowded well beyond expected limits due to some unknown rush. I handed my bags (I seem to be carrying more than one on the wrong days, that too extraordinarily heavy) to the lady seated on the aisle side of a seat, when I noticed her carefully. Seven punctures on each of her ear lobes. Clad in an ordinary saree, she seemed to me to be a rural lady so misfit in the urban setting of Delhi. Suddenly a phone rings, and she withdraws a swank Nokia N-72 from the folds of her saree and starts off in crystal clear English. Gives you a jolt, for sure!! I would have believed her had she been returning from a fancy dress competition.
What a crowded bus does to you is something you dont realize often. Allow me to give a brief description of the bus the way it generally is... it is a 2/2 configuration, with a large portion of one half dedicated for the seating of women. Needless to say, I am mostly seated on that half of the bus, if I am seated at all, that is. One day I happened to be on the other side.. and as I looked out, I realized I recognized only half of the route I cover everyday!! What I was looking at seemed so unfamiliar and I could hardly make out where I was passing through.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Positive mind

The world is a stage set for me, this is my belief. As I step out of the pedestrian subway in the morning after deboarding the bus, I believe that the sun falls on me like a spotlight... brightens up my face, heralding a good beginning to the day ahead. [The spotlight follows me till I reach my destination, scorching my back in summer and warming up my sweaters in winter]. My spirits rise as I scamper up the steps (two at a time) to my office on the third floor, mostly because the lift is often defunct.. I enjoy climbing over the risers which are of 'slightly lesser than standard' dimensions and smile at the guard on duty. On the way back I am delighted to sit at the window of a bus which is so shattered that it doesnt have rods even. No rods and no glass. As my hair bounces in the wind, I wonder how ideal would I have been for someone on the lookout for a model for a shampoo commercial.... there is a brighter side to everything; and it is important that you realize it.

I loved reading books at one time. Dont let the past tense surprise you. During the valuable years, my degrees and my job demanded so much of me that I had to put aside my favourite companion. Whatever time I would get needed to be devoted to things such as going out with friends and family, sleep, etc. The first year of my marriage did me in further, but somewhere down the line, I felt my soul drying..sounds melodramatic, but I felt there is something I need... beyond balancing a career and home. There are many in this world who run families and work at the same time, and I dont know whether they can do all that they want to. I dont think my mother has any regrets such as that I was feeling. I have to wrench some time out, I decided. The people around me seemed so uninterested in books that it was difficult for me to get hold of one. Their only concern is money and all the material comfort one could afford. That is when I discovered e-books... books that could be downloaded and absorbed at will. I had a lot of catching up to do.. books I had only heard about and never could manage to read. I chose to make good use of the time I spent every day in travelling... I download a book of my choice, print few pages at a time, and read it in the bus. It takes immense time to finish a book because of mandatory parameters that are not fulfilled all the time: a seat under the lights is just an example. I devised a system to counter the jerks.. I hold the book (or the papers) in my left hand and grip the wrist with my right hand...release the grip only to turn pages. For once I was happy that modern mobile phones come with FM radio, which, if plugged in, cuts you off from the chaos in the bus. I actually named myself Vidyasagar... he was a great man who studied under the street lamps and I do exactly the same, only the source of light and matter are different. But I read in motion, with lots of disturbances. My credit for my eagerness to read should not be undermined, isnt it?

Along with my reading habit, something that was going down the drain was my handwriting, something I was so proud of. The last time I held a pen to write a paragraph was an incident that had not happened for years. I took to blogging so that I could at least compile thoughts of my complex mind before I lost the enthusiasm to. There are certain people whom I wish to speak to, discuss my likes and dislikes, share my ideas and understand their points of view. But circumstances often pose as barriers - not always can you catch somebody to pour your heart out. I floated the link on a public forum expecting more people to read my mind and comment, so that the interaction can go on. I atleast hope to reach out to the minds I have been looking forward to link up with.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

An enjoyable official trip

Perhaps the most amazing trip I ever had. My meeting was scheduled at five in the evening and there I was, all alone, at Agra Cantt Railway Station as early as 8:15 a.m. I had to take only one quick decision - what to do! In India, especially in an orthodox minded state like Uttar Pradesh, nothing is normal for being done by a solitary girl, who if not pretty, is reasonably attractive, mainly due to her youth. I could not possibly sit in the retiring room for the next few hours.. the suggestion from my very caring husband was that I check in with some hotel and take rest. Come on, rest for nine long hours was not what I needed. Yeah, agreed that I had got up as early as 4:30 in the morning to catch the 6:15 train, but do you need nine hours to make up for the lack of sleep? So, I decided that the only productive use of my time would be to roam around the city, so famous for historical monuments. I enquired at the tourism help desk and much to my dismay, was informed that Taj Mahal, the prime attraction of Agra was closed for visitors since it was a Friday. "What could I do if my meeting is scheduled on a Friday?", I asked myself. I didnt schedule it and neither was I aware of this weekly off. But, I was told, a glimpse of the member of new seven wonders of the world could be caught from the backside, across the remains of a once voluminous River Yamuna; which was no less than seeing the monument from the front. And all the other monuments were there, which could be visited before sunset. Hey, I had no plans to fool around alone in an unknown city till sunset! So, without wasting any further time, I walked out of the railway station, hired a car, explained my situation to the driver and plunged into the city straightaway. Oh, I hired a camera, obviously. I could not collect one due to the shortage of time, but you can procure one on hire in tourist places. My driver was a soft spoken man who took me to the farthest point, Sikandra, the tomb of Akbar. I overwhelmed him by asking him to come along with me. I appointed him as my photographer and heneceforth, all I did was pose! We visited the major monuments because time in hand was short, had a sumptuous lunch and found a hotel for myself to catch a solid hour of sleep. I sent the driver to return the camera while I prepared for the meeting by dint of which I was present in Agra. The rest of the story is short; my presentation was a grand success and I wrapped up the meeting in record time as I had to catch the seven o' clock train.

This would indeed be a trip to remember!!!