Sunday, December 25, 2011

Green on Green

Ever since I bought a camera phone, I have developed a tendency to capture moments that draw my attention.. however small and insignificant they may be. It could be an ear-ring worn by a complete stranger, or a splash of colourful waste on the roadside. And its very easy and convenient, actually.

The other day in a metro station, I noticed this young lady dressed in military green... that's not the big deal.. the deal is in her socks. Wow, they are green too!!

I got to admit that I haven't seen adults wear green socks... one may wear skin toned, black and even grey ones, but green?

Out came my mobile, with the camera mode on. Pretending to be fiddling around with the handset, as is common with people these days, I executed my shot to near perferction.. "Green on Green", I had titled the image.

But fate was against me. A fellow passenger had walked up behind me, rather stopped there when he noticed me setting the frame.

"Not an extraordinary pair of legs, I guess?", he commented.
"Why would a girl photograph a girl?", he said in the same breath.

Now, that last phrase had caught some ears, and people were turning around. To avoid creating a sticky situation, I was left with no choice but to counter the perhaps-innocent stranger.

"Why would you peer over a girl's phone, may I ask?", I scorched back - I was standing to my full height, and had a strict look on my face.

Luckily, the people around me, with hardly any idea of what led to this spat, chose to support me. They condemned him for interfering with girls... and thanks to the high frequency service of the metro, it was over in three minutes.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Brave Girl

This is a true incident that happened on the evening of November 24th. However, since I did not take permission from her, allow me to change her name. She is my colleague; and let's call her Shalini.

Have you seen street urchins throw stones at buses on the road? I have, but havent bothered about it much, coz it seems to be just children throwing small stones, most of which do not reach the moving vehicle. But what happens, if the stone is comparatively big, and it hits the glasses?

After a long day at work, Shalini was going home by a bus, when this happened. Someone threw a stone at the bus, and the projectile broke through the glass and hit her right on the face. Poor girl, she was not even on the window seat and fate had selected her.

Feeling blood, she screamed for the first aid box. Luckily there was one on the bus, and few fellow passengers helped her to clear the glass bits. Any other person in her place would get numbed in this situation, but her sharp brain quickly estimated the most prominent location where she could call her parents to. She asked the driver to start the bus, while someone called the police. In fact, they met the police on the way. The men asked the women on board to help them in carrying Shalini to the police, but no one came forward. Clutching her cell phone and purse, Shalini had to walk to the car herself. Her spectacles had fallen somewhere, perhaps broken too, but she could not think about them right then. Since she was bleeding profusely and her eyes hurt, she was sure that she needed medical attention urgently. She asked the police to take her to a hospital, and inform her parents at home. Two people from the bus volunteered to be with her all the time, till her parents arrived. The government hospital where the police had taken Shalini gave her very limited care, and wanted her parents to take her elsewhere for some tests since their own equipments were out of order. This was when they decided to shift her to a private hospital close to their home, and at least, where all facilities were under one roof. Her brother, much elder to most of us, took charge hereafter and completed all formalities.

It was much after the incident when we came to know about all this: next morning. When we rushed to the hospital, her face was swollen and cut; and we could hardly keep ourselves steady. Her mother told us that this was a much cleaner look, while Shalini jokingly told us how she vomitted everywhere: in the police car, government  hospital and also after her admission to the private setup.

We were relieved to see that Shalini was out of the trauma of the incident. She is young and unmarried, and we were worried that a face injury could disturb her future. She would be undergoing surgery soon to set right a few cracked, displaced and depressed bones... and only time will tell how she sails through this. A sharp and brave girl that she is, Shalini would be back with a bang!


P.S: My appeal to all of you is that please condemn such incidences... they prove nothing, yet hurt inncocent people. Why throw stones at buses?

And if someone is hurt, please come forward and help. Delay on your part can cause a life loss, even.

An update:
Shalini (actual name: Rupa) has written about her experience in detail. Read it here on her blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Two Extra Hours

"What would you do if you had two extra hours to yourself everyday?".. a simple question!

My first reaction was, "Nah, I don't need any more! Isn't 24 enough?"

Pondering, I realized there are few simple things that suffer because we are always short of time.

For one, I would Read the Newspaper diligently. I usually leave for office quite early, and can take a look at the paper only after I get back. This actually means glancing at the headlines, absorbing about 5%. 30 minutes for a fair scan through the bunch.

Number two on the list is Have Breakfast properly.  My morning schedule on weekdays is jampacked, and due to any abberation caused by extended sleep or any unforeseen event, the axe is almost invariably on the breakfast. I know that's wrong, but... . 15 minutes. Total 45 minutes.

Another thing that tends to get squeezed on weekdays is my bath. With two extra hours every day, I would like to block 15 minutes flat for a peaceful Bath. 15 minutes. Total 1 hour.

I would try to attend to my health (read fitness) a bit. I know it is all about a few free hand exercises, and it takes little dedicated time. But who has it? Anyone who does tries to inspire me by saying, "Do you not have 20 minutes for yourself?" .. Maybe I do, but you have to allow me to be lazy at times. So maybe I can carve out some time out of this "Extra time". 20 minutes. Total 1 hour 20 minutes.

You know what I would do for my home? Do the dusting everyday. I live in Delhi, where dust particles travel in the air.. and settle on anything that comes in the way. I just cannot inspire myself to brush it daily.. and would go for this chore only once a week. It requires 10 minutes, believe me, if you do it daily. So there you are. 10 minutes. Total 1.5 hours.

Well dusting is not the only thing that requires day to day attention... so allow me to budget 10 more minutes to miscellaneous housework.You know how it is... something or the other needs to be stuck, or replaced, or any such thing that remains pending till the weekend.. and maybe gets postponed to the next due to some unforeseen event or sheer laziness. That totals to 1 hour 40 minutes.

And last but not the least, I would like to allot 15 minutes to cooking and 5 minutes to sheer laziness. You know cooking gives you an unearthly pleasure.. the joy of creating a tasty concoction from raw ingredients is undescribe-able. My busy schedule has drained all enthusiasm out of me, but I look forward to instances of trying out new recipes.. or improvising the existing ones.

The last 5 minutes is a buffer that would get fitted wherever I feel like, mostly to the morning sleep. Winter is slowly setting in Delhi, and who would mind 5 extra minutes of sleep?

I pose this question to you... What would you do if you had two extra hours to yourself everyday?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Delhi International Arts Festival

Delhi International Arts Festival - a multi dimensional, multi venue annual extravaganza of all kinds of art forms: music, dance, films, theatre, what not. Somehow, it maintains a low profile and enjoys very selective publicity. What I mean is that although I live in Delhi, listen to the radio and move about in the city, glance through newspapers, I detect absolutely nominal coverage. My fate with this event is somehow jinxed.. it sometimes coincides with my holidays, sometimes I dont realize its on. This year too, this 15 day festival from 31st October to 15th November was about to give me the slip. But luckily I chanced upon a newspaper advertisment on the 7th. I checked out the website mentioned therein almost immediately to download the schedule of events.
I wanted to go on 7th itself, but could manage to land up only until the 10th. I chose the venue that was most convenienet for me, and also had two events scheduled on that day. Unfortunately, my husband was busy and could not accompany me. But so strong was my urge to break out of the daily routine, that I was mentally prepared to go alone. However, a junior from college who is also training under my husband, joined me.  Both of us landed up at the India Habitat Centre to attend a musical performance by a singer from Israel called Noa. Not only is she stunningly beautiful, her voice is strong, yet melodious. We could not understand the lyrics.. but who needs words to enjoy good music? She transported us to a different world altogether. Later she sung a song in English and made the audience sing with her too.

We slipped out of the music recital to an auditorium where a classical dance performance was scheduled. Although Bharatnatyam is a common danceform, the performance was so divine that it seemed completely new to me. The dancer, Vani Ganpathy, herself explained the lyrics and the choreographical interpretations so that we could enjoy her renditions, although we could not understand the lyrics of the background music (which was mostly in Tamil).

I felt strangely liberated with this break, and although I missed my family badly, I came back the next day to watch fringe dance. It consisted of a section on different forms of Manipuri dance, with their colourful costumes, and very delicate touch of martial arts. The last section was by a contemporary dance by a professional team called Danceworks. They are based in two Indian cities, with number of international dancers and more than 5000 students. Isn't that impressive?   

You must be wondering where are the photos.. but I am sorry, somehow my photos havent come out well. And my video recordings are long and heavy. So, please pardon me. I shall post few once I get some from my friends. And I promise you, that I am going to be back next year!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Team Building at Sariska

My Monday blues disappeared when I received a mail nominating me for a Team Building Programme at Sariska Palace, Alwar from 16-17th of September.

We were a team of 32 colleagues from various departments. We started on 16th morning from office. It had rained heavily since the night before and roads were waterlogged. It took us about six hours to weave through the traffic, but a sumptuous mid-way breakfast made up for all the stress.

Sariska is a known for its Tiger Sanctuary. Just Adjoining it is Sariska Palace, built by Maharaja of Alwar and presently been converted into a heritage hotel with all the modern amenities. This is also the location where the Bollywood movie, “Karan Arjun” had been shot.

Our trainer, retd. Major Subhash Mahajan, joined us on the way.

Allotted rooms and roommates, we quickly freshened up and gathered for lunch.

It was raining ever since we arrived, so our activities were restricted indoors.

We were divided into four teams with 8 members each, and the trainer gave us a problem to solve. He had created a model, which we needed to study to visualize the problem.

The rain had stopped by then, so we could venture out a bit. The trainer made us stand in a circle and explained the games he had planned for us.

The adjoining picture shows one of the many games where four blindfolded representatives had to collect coins strewn on the floor, guided by respective team members.

The post-tea session was very challenging. We were divided into three teams this time, handed a piece of cloth, two colours and a paintbrush. We not only had to name our team, we had to frame a motto, design a flag and compose a 12-line song without repetitions!

The theme was “Mera Ujjwal Bharat” and we were given an hour to complete the task.

We were imparted a crash course on first-aid training during emergencies.

It was actually fun!

We assembled in the evening on the outdoor podium for a cultural evening presented by the staff.

When the dancing began, we all joined in.

The next morning began early in the Conference Hall. We discussed our ideas on what the Organizational Values of DIMTS should be.

We had almost transformed into arguing politicians in the Parliament, so much brainstorming was done!

We got to showcase our creativity when we were asked to make a gift for our room-mate, and tell everyone about the person we spent the night with… someone we didn’t perhaps know well enough before!

We had a rapid fire session of sketching our imagination on paper : the only challenge being a team member sketches after the other, without any prior discussion.

The oraganisers had something planned for us too. They selected three men and asked them to decorate three girls with ornaments made of newspaper.

The makeover was indeed innovative.

The last activity was almost like a blind date with toilet paper. We were asked to take as much we wanted to.. and then one had to share equal number of true and false facts about his own self.

The leading “hoarder” was required to share as many as 93 true and 93 false facts about himself.

We started on our return journey, right after lunch.

We played “Dumb Charades” all along the way, our enthusiasm outweighing our fatigue.

It was indeed a trip to remember, where we made many new friends.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photo Tour of Goa in Monsoons

Monsoons, popularly described as the time of the year to stay put indoors and sip tea as the rain lashes your window pane.

Umm, not for some.

And we chose Goa, a Union territory enriched with heritage, and flecked with beaches, churches, temples and more.

We knew the sea would be fiery and there would be no water sports. But we knew something else too. There would be no crowd either. And nature would be at its beautiful best.

Our trip started at Mumbai, because we have relatives there. We booked our seats by a semi-sleeper Volvo bus, which was very comfortable and reasonably priced.

The landscape along the road that snakes through mild hilly terrain between Mumbai and Goa has an unadulterated beauty about it. The rain soaked fauna is lush green.

We were determined to stay in North Goa, because we were told that all the action is right there.

We got off at Mapusa and went to Calangute beach straightaway in the search of a hotel. Well, you can afford to take such risks in off season, don’t think of it in peak tourist seasons!!
You may well have to book your hotel three months in advance.

The options of lodging, however, are numerous and rising in Goa. There are hotels of varying budgets, guest houses, anything you may want.

We wanted to stay as close to the beach as possible, and the one we zeroed in was perfect: Hotel Goan Heritage.

Our room overlooked both the swimming pool and the sea. And a gate from the campus would open directly to the beach.

Goa offers another flexibility to the tourist: Hire your own vehicle and go wherever you want.

You may hire a Scooter, a fancy bike or a car. Hiring a tourist bus or a taxi is also possible, but that’s too ordinary a thing to do.

There is perhaps no petrol pump in Goa except Panaji. Petrol is available in roadside shops, albeit at a slightly high price, but fuel is not a problem at all.

Because you have turned up in off season, you may find perfection missing from everything.

Moss and weeds grow freely on the rain soaked monuments.

This is the entrance to Fort Aguada, which was actually a storage for water in the higher parts of Goa. An abandoned lighthouse is also here.

The Fort overlooks the sea below.

The slope down is rocky on which a dense growth of trees tip into the sea.

The horizon almost merges …

Down the road from Fort Aguada, we drive to Sinquerim beach. It is obviously the extension of Aguada.

A circular viewing gallery has been constructed, and if you stand there for even five minutes, the angry splashes of the sea would drench you.

Taj Vivanta, a five star resort, overlooks this beach.

Moving north along the coastline, you would discover Candolim Beach, characterized by this old deserted ship.

In our search for a fort called Ries Margos, we arrived at this unnamed beach.

The fort lies right opposite this viewing gallery, and is presently under renovation.

What a lovely resort this fort would make with its picture-perfect location!

For the shoppers, even in this not-so-tourist season, Goa offers a myriad variety of beachwear, junk jewellery, funky eye-gear, alcohol and sea food.

Another craze is temporary tattoos. Although the overnight artists claim that these would last a month, in all probabilities, these would last few days. If you want a permanent one, check out the tattoo studios in Goa.

This is at Baga beach, btw.

Anjuna Beach. Rocky but picturesque. You can step in the sea if you are careful.

There’s water trapped in the rocky base, and you can see tiny fishes.

Vagator is another rocky beach along the coast. The approach is from an elevated level, but if have some time in hand, and your adventurous self is active, you may venture down.

The next destination is Fort Chhapora, which is in ruins. What remains is the boundary, and you cannot make out where the inner structure were.

The wind is so strong that birds cannot fly against it.

And needless to say, the view of the sea is breathtaking.

Three beaches await to be discovered by you. The blackish sand, the gentle slope inviting you into the sea and complete ignorance by the tourists characterize them: Morgim, Aswem and Mandrem.

If you are lucky, you may witness some fishermen in action, some tending to their boats and get a feel of their daily routine.

The northernmost beach, Arambol, is popular among foreigners and other tourists as it is closest to Mumbai.

It has some trees on one side.

Our guide showed a beach further north by the name of Quickem, but no one seemed to know about it.
Next day we ventured into Panaji to book our return tickets and then move on towards Old Goa.

You have to cross the backwaters of the sea and the road is a dream to ride on.

This is Basilica of Bom Jesus. Adjoining it is St. Catherine’s Church and Archaeological museum. These three are well known tourist destinations.

They form a part of a beautiful complex of chapels and churches, which is an architect’s delight.

A road on the backside of this tourist complex leads you to Mandovi River. A ferry service is operated by the Government that carries people complete with their conveyances: two wheelers, cars, trucks and also pedestrians.

In about 15 minutes, you would be on the other side, Divar Island.

There is no tourist spot per se in Divar. It is a peaceful island with picturesque beauty. Piedade village is perhaps the only human settlement, which is sparsely populated. There’s a church and temple on top of a hill.

The tranquility of the place grips you while you drive around. Lose yourself if you will, because there is no signage. You can eventually come to the dock, to be ferried back into Old Goa.

It is also a foodie’s paradise, if you are a non vegetarian. Vegetarian preparations are equally good, don’t worry.

 Mouthwatering sea food cooked in the Konkan style is available in even the smallest joints in Goa. North Indian, Chinese, South Indian options are also there.

Must do: Enjoy a meal on the beachside with your favourite drink.

Our trip was short but we have come back very happy and rejuvenated. There are many things we did not do or see. But we have experienced Goa in a new way. We could explore in the inner roads and see how the common man lives and how the city functions beaneath its shiny armour of tourism. Indeed Goa is a place to be during tourist season where there is fun, frolic, adventure and water sports. Nevertheless, we encourage you to witness Goa in this peaceful and calm version.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Should I or not?

There's a new bus service launched in Delhi. I work for the company that manages it.

I travel almost everyday at least once. Free.

My logic is that
  • I am a part of the service provider.
  • I am actually on duty, because I note all deviations from rules, guide the bus drivers and conductors, intervene in case of disputes, collect commuter feedback, etc.
My family says
  • Public transport is usually not a money making business. The one in Delhi is definitely not. The fact that a private body has been given the opportunity to manage the services is a positive step to attempt to minimize blemishes, and I am making things worse.
  • I earn enough to pay the fare, which is fairly subsidized.
Two positives and two negatives.

What do you think?

Monday, April 18, 2011

50 posts and an Award old

I am just 50 posts old. And I have got an award: The Versatile Blogger Award. Its my first.
I am thrilled!!!
Thank you, Sushmita aka Shooting star from My Unfinished Life

Next thing that I am required to do is say 7 things about myself. Oops, let me try.

i-a) I am an optimistic person - I try to see the good things in any thing.
i-b) I smile a lot - So much so, that when you meet me or see a photo of mine, you would notice only my teeth.
ii) I am a Minimum-Cosmetics person - A sheer disaster for beauty salons and related merchants.
iii)  I am a Foodie, but a BAD cook. I actually dont have any interest, and would tend to get away by making minimum.I love chocolates and sweets.
iv-a) I have weird obsessions. I love people with good handwritings. In fact, the easiest way to impress me is by having a good writing. At the same time, all the people I have had a crush on or fallen for or ever noticed have simply pathetic handwritings. I hate men who pretend to be suave. I like people around me to be as chilled out as me.
iv-b) My other fascination is for miniatures- it could be a tiny Ganesha idol, or a small cup, anything.
iv-c) A market place and money on me is a disastrous combination. But having said that, I would only buy shoes for myself. I would ogle at photo frames, but would never buy one.
v) I love reading books and writing. Strangely, I havent ever finished a book that I have bought for myself. I have gobbled up gifted books, inherited books, borrowed books, books belonging to relatives and likewise.
vi) I love my parents, family and friends equally. And I would do anything for anyone, if you can convince me that my doing something would really help you.
vii) I am a good listener and a good preacher, so in case you are feeling low, you know where to come.

I am required to pass this award on to 15 bloggers. Permit me to hold this. I have to find people who haven't got it already. Will do that soon.

So thank you, once again, all my readers, without whom I wouldnt have been a blogger at all. And a special mention goes out to Sushmita for she has come to mean a lot more than she realizes..

Monday, April 11, 2011

Confessions of a criminal

Visualize the situation. The bus is supposed to turn right at a junction, and in 99% of days, it gets caught in a red light. It suits me best if I can get off here. The bus stop prior to this junction is  a bit too behind, and the next after the turn means a bit of extra walking to my destination.

Today, the light was red when our bus reached the said spot. I requested the driver to let me off, but he refused. I nodded politely, didnt say any additional word and got off at the next defined bus stop. And started walking.

A fellow passenger, who too, had got down here, followed me. He was cursing the driver, loud enough for me to hear.

"What is the problem?", I asked.
- "Why did he not open the doors at the light?"
"Why should he? Thats no bus stop.", I explained.
-"Now you are taking sides with him? You only asked him to let you off..."

Well, I admitted to him that I was doing the wrong thing. That too, knowingly.

As he walked away, I was left wondering how irresponsible as citizens were we. Ok at least I am. I would throw an ice-cream stick on a roadside if I cannot see a dustbin within my power of vision. I would plead bus drivers to drop me between bus stops just because it is possible. I cannot ask a metro driver to drop me midway on a track, can I? I do many such wrongs; will list them slowly.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Keep your bag clean

"Madam, your ticket please"
- I was cozily sleeping on a window seat of a bus enroute my office, and this was a checker.

Random checks do happen on our bus routes in Delhi. If you are caught without one or with an undervalue ticket, you would have to pay a fine, may be jailed for two days or both.

"Yes, of course", I replied, waking up. Trying hard to recall where I had shoved it in, I started searching in the most easily available pockets. But whatever came out were of various values of previous journeys on different routes, which have no validity at present.  I dug and dug.

"Did you throw it?", taunts the bald man standing next to my seat.

"No, I have it", I assure him, not looking up. I realize I am delaying everybody. "I have a proper ticket, please let me go", I pleaded.

"If this is the case, you should be able to produce it."... Ugh, this guy is adamant.

Not that anyone was complaining, but I offered to get off the bus with them. They agreed. I sat on the seats of the bus stop, took all my time as I drew out each old ticket after another. I kept aside anything that was not a bus ticket: receipts of my tailor, someone's business card, and things like that. Ultimately, from the most unlikely pocket, emerged a freshly bought ticket bearing the requisite serial number. The checker was watching me all the time, quite bored by then, and the moment I drew out the correct piece of paper, he gave out a sigh of relief.

"See, you wasted ten minutes of my time", he said.

"But I told you I had it", I snapped back.

"Now let me go. Do I look like a truant?", I asked him, pulling myself to my full height. I was dressed in formals, my hair was freshly washed and loose, flying in the breeze, giving me an aura. And I had the ticket that I was about to be fined for not having. I was one up.

The man put me on the next bus to my destination. Luckily the frequency is pretty fair, and the roads were fairly empty that time of the day, so I reached office comfortably to take on the day ahead.

Moral of the story: Keep your handbag clean. Learn to throw off stuff you dont need

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I had been up to the last two months


Rather supervising surveys among Metro and Bus Passengers that had to be done for a project. That makes you quite a villain among the enumerators who do the work for you.. they are scared about when and where I would crop up and what fallacies in their work would I find.

I claim to be a soft spoken nice girl, but ask those boys and girls, and you would be in for a surprise!!

It was a great experience, however. Not scolding enumerators, but speaking to people. Actual commuters. Consumers of the services our beloved authorities provide. Victims of our fallacies.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Missing Birds' Bureau

 Found: A Baby pigeon
Age: Few days?

One evening, as we were walking out of the parking lot of our housing society, we noticed something alive in the corner: it was a baby pigeon huddled up in a corner.

Too small to fly, the poor being had been perhaps attacked by crows or dogs or cats... because it was badly injured in the head.

My brother in law picked the bird up and brought it upstairs. We cleaned the wounds with a cotton; and put some antiseptic cream on them.

We dug out a shoe-box from the store, punctured few holes in the cardboard, placed a bowl of water and some grains in the corner, and put the bird in its make shift cage.

In the morning, I was surprised by the confidence with which he was walking around in the shoe-box. But by the evening, he chose to go back to the outer world...