Feb 3, 2017

And that's how we fell in love..





"Hello? Hello? Hello?.. Is there anybody in there? " .. Pink Floyd slowly filled the void of the silence in between the whiffs of the chill breeze .The summer had begun and the occasional chill breeze was a welcome respite. I stood there still on my terrace as my mind engulfed in a strange state of tranquility.

It was two years since I last heard from her. By now she must have a kid too, I thought. A extremely familiar silence welcomed me.

I hope she is happy.

Err..Let me be honest. Now I am actually lying to sound like a nice guy.

Truth lies somewhere in between. I was just not that cruel enough to curse her and not that awesome enough to fake the phony I-hope-she-is-happy-somewhere thoughts..As an average rest-of-us kinda guy, I was stuck somewhere in the middle.

I have no idea on true love except for what I have seen in movies. It seems like true love happens on once. And that's it. You brood and live on with the memories.

Unfortunately, I don't seem to be the one cut out for this definition. I have no idea on what is right or wrong. But all I know for sure is "This too shall pass". And so did it.

While the initial phase of separation is the hardest, "time" somehow magically seems to heal everything. I had indeed moved on. And yes, for real.

As a consequence, the best-of-my-photoshop-edited pics were already up in the matrimonial sites. My family was scouting around for that perfect made-in-heaven match

And from my side, just like any other hopeless but hope-to-get-married-soon guy, I joined a gym. Six packs were a rage then. And yes, yours faithfully also wanted that Dangal transformation.  After all which gal would say no to a six pack.

Mission: Single pack to Six pack in 60 days

But fate had other plans. I had grossly underestimated the potential of my single pack.

"Is the water cold" goes a voice which I would rate moderate on the sweetness quotient (Personal note: Oye, if in case you happen to read this, it's still supposed to be a complement). I turn back and to my surprise its that same beautiful girl whom I was eying for an entire week in my otherwise desolate gym. She had joined a week back. And it provided a welcome respite from the usual sights of tight-t-shirt hugging tummy of the gym owner, hip-hop listening middle aged aunties and the underwear showing headband uncles.

Anyway back to the story, there is a tamil saying which goes

"Cycle gap kedaicha, Auto otiduvan"

Roughly translates as "if you even get the gap for driving a cycle, you will drive an auto"

With this profound Chennai quote as my inspiration, my so called conversational skills which had gone on a kumbhakarna mode for some years came to the forefront. Half an hour later I ended up talking about the weather, the cricket match on the screen (where I explain to her certain complicated things such as how to differentiate a T20 and a one day match, how to identify a no-ball etc. Cricket enthusiasts do forgive me), her job (where she did the complicated explanation of very interesting topics such as oil, pipes, process..grr ), college life, CAT preparation , MBA blah blah. Phone number was the only part missing. And she goes like "Can I have your phone number, because I need some guidance on MBA". God, once in a while does exist!

From then on, the script goes as per serendipitous design -  Messages, late night phone calls, coffee shop indulgence, long bike drives, movies, shift in gym to Talwalkar (which helped in the process of adding few more kilos), night walks together, pani puris and her love friendly scooty which only starts when I kick..With no dramatic alaipayuthey madhavan moments, love seemed to take its own sweet pace as we slowly got comfortable with each other. And yes, one fine day, with no swaying trees stopping, no rains, no romantic arr song in the backdrop, no out-of-the world surprises, love just happened. The summer was at its scorching best, the traffic was extremely heavy, honking horns were the background music, our faces were covered with sweat and dust, no 100-ways-to-propose plans and yet love just swept us off our foot and man, it was so magical. 


"Wow! maybe this was the girl that destiny had planned for me. "

But unfortunately your past still has its traces still left, which sometimes lets your mind come in when a few things are to be actually decided from your heart.

As I grapple around with these struggles which she clearly wasn't too comfortable with, the big blow came when her folks found out about us.

Me being the in-love-but-my-past-says-give-it-some-more-time mode meant a disaster was in the making. Our parents spoke and things didn't work out as expected.

And then something happened. Something I would regret for my entire life.

Her cute smiling face saw the first traces of blood (and that will be the last time ever. I promise.). She wasn't able to open her left eye which is generally deployed to deliver that trademark mischievous wink whenever she sees me. Her head had a large bump which on a normal day I would have made fun of as "this is why I ask you not to think too much. See your brain is popping out". But these were not normal times. She was beaten up for having chosen a jackass who could'nt stand up for her. Pause and let this sink in. Please abuse me under your breath for sometime if you don't know me or the next time you see me if you know me. I deserve it.

Everytime I think about this, I feel so small. I was indeed a jackass. And someone just got hit because she loved me and wanted to be with me. It's a regret which I will carry along with me for my entire life. Oye, I am so sorry. Please don't forgive me. (unfortunately given the heart she has, she did..) 

And amidst the two weeks of break up and several months of her entire family not talking to her, our next phase of love story happened.

This time she was obviously the confused one while I had made up my mind that it has to her - come what may. And since she was fed up with all the shit going around, she took an onsite to Italy. The best part is she had told everyone that it was for 6 months while it was actually 3 months.

Lol. And this is exactly where the "tragedy" portion of our story ends and the comedy portion begins.  The backdrop of a confused girl supposedly in Italy, but living in a ladies hostel in Chennai, a once-confused-redemption-seeking-love-struck stupid asshole trying to woo the girl back is the perfect recipe for some amazing fun and memorable stories which I reserve for my kids and hopefully my grand kids.

I used to go to her hostel each and everyday post work and take her out to each and every coffee shop and food outlet. Slowly I wooed her back and it was the awesomest (sorry english teachers..I made that word up) and most exciting time of our lives. The late night walks, bike rides, secret kisses, satyam cinemas, cold coffees, subs, that joyful wait in front of the ladies hostel (err joyful because I was expecting her and not because of what you think) gave us more than enough memories to treasure.

As expected from us, our love story needed to have some twist.

One fine evening, I called her up and said "Oye, will pick you up at 6.00 and lets head to Lloyds Tea house"..  She with her ever cute smiling can't-I-have-paani-puri-instead face said "I need paani puri. Dot." It had been ages since we went to Gangotri and what better way to spend an evening than a pani puri at gangotri.

Since it was a crowded day, I asked her to take a seat inside, while I went to pick the pani puri.
Suddenly I heard a loud voice, "Hey Shal. What are you doing here". Holy shit. That was her sister along with her kids. I almost dropped my plates. Thankfully she didn't see me. I put my kerchief on my nose trying to blow my nose and in the next 30 seconds was on the parking lot and in the next minute off to god-knows-where but let it be as far away as possible from gangotri.

And how we handled the whole saga without getting caught, will be our secret story for some other time.

Soon enough, within a month, as scheduled by the devious man up above, we got caught again.

Lol..

And this time for a change something very different happened.

Fed up. They got us married!!

From then on we have been living happily ever after.


And yep, that's how we fell in love..

P.S

Today being her birthday and the day I revived this blog.

Let me take the liberty to post a personal message.

I Love you Shalz..and Happy Birthday Baby :)



Mar 10, 2013

Smile ..Come what may !!



A few years back when I started writing, the intention was not to come up with some life changing philosophies or earth shattering truths. The asshole that I am and will always be, all that I wanted, was to record every silly, stupid, feels-like-heaven moments in my life, so that someday when I read it in future, I may realize "not bad..its a life well lived indeed ". And the fact that I was blissfully in love makes the memories even more special

Its been two years..A lot of things have changed..my sweetheart for whom I started the blog is not with me anymore ( not the kinds where the heroine is diagnosed with cancer..relax..we broke up or to be precise her folks screwed it up )..this post is a little flashback on the last two years of my life.. its about how yours faithfully almost screwed it up..but thankfully the climax is the same - Smile ..come what may !!

On a rainy night ..a night which I wish never came..

There were random people running helter skeltor splashing little paddles of water in their search for a cover from the rains. The frenzy of vehicles sped through the roads as the headlight smoke gave dizzy illusions passing through the rain drops. I stood there in the middle of the madness ..devastated and lost..I didn't hear the horns..I didn't see the people..I didn't see the blinding lights..I didn't feel the rains..I didn't feel the chill winds..strangely she was the only thing I could see..for I knew maybe that would be the last time...a painful silence slowly devoured me..

She came close to me and bought her arms around my drenched body .. "Arun, take care"..those were the only words that I heard. I held her tight. I wasn't going to let her go. I felt her breath on the back of my neck. I tightened my grip around her..there was silence again..the longest and the most painful period of silence ever in my life.."Don't make it hard..Arun.." ..the moist eyes of mine finally gave in..A few drops ceaselessly slid through my cheeks combining with the rains to finally find its place on her shoulders..

I let go..I didnt want to..but I had to ..

She turned back and started walking towards her scooter..I didn't want her to go.."Dont go" my choking unspoken voice pleaded..it felt like a knife had just passed straight through my heart.. I kept walking helplessly behind her wishing for her to turn back..wishing for her to come back..wishing for her to tell me "It's all just a dream"..wishing for her to kiss me..wishing for her sweetest rendering of "I love you Idiot"..
As life has it, certain wishes were never meant to come true..her shadowy silhouette slowly disappeared along the empty long stretch of the road..the illusion of small colored circles flashed in and out of my moist eyes ..That was the last time I saw her..

Slowly I found my voice as I shouted a whisper "Oye..I still love you" ..The rain was deafening..Maybe that's why she couldn't hear.." I still love you.." my muffled voice echoed..A part of me died on that day..I kept walking.. with each and every step an excruciating emptiness crawled through me..My heart kept getting heavier with each and every passing minute...I sat on the road..shamelessly cried..it was pain and more pain..I didn't know how long I was there.. kept staring at the skies..and it continued to rain..

From that day, life had completely changed..

"I took to drinking..I couldn't imagine a life without her..and my only solution to forget her - ALCOHOL.. From drinking once a week , the frequency gradually increased as I realized the more I wanted to forget the more I got reminded of her..I slowly started drinking throughout the day.. hardly attended classes during my final year..somehow scraped through the placements..but slowly started hating people and graduated towards higher levels of intoxication ..got caught in the world of drugs and soon my performance at work was becoming pathetic with every passing day.."pathetic" was actually being kind for describing the work that I did..Soon I was kicked out of my job..Stayed at home..kept drinking and continued using drugs..Mom kept crying throughout the two years..Finally I am now admitted in a rehabilitation center.."

Well, this is how my story could have been..but lets see how the actual script played out..

From that day, life had completely changed..

Three days later she got married..I woke up on that dreadful day..I had my marketing class scheduled for the morning..not that any other class was going to make it better..but this definitely made it even worse..as usual got up late..went running to the mess.. had pongal..it was straight from heaven.. (If i ever get a chance to re attend my BIM interview again and they asked me "Why BIM ?"..I would without a blink of an eye, reply "PONGAL sir !!!") I attended all the boring classes for the entire day, faking a smile which concealed the storm brewing inside.. returned to my room at 11 in the night .. And cried for the entire night ..I was feeling miserable and the pain the whole experience puts you through is beyond explanation..but somehow that day also came to pass. And this is precisely how the second most painful day in my life got over ..

What did I do in the next two years..

Honestly, it did take its own sweet time for me to recover..and I am still not too sure if I am completely over her..or maybe I never will..but for once in life, I have decided to stop taking myself so seriously .. there is very little I could do about the whole situation..while there is no denying the agony and the lovely memories which still keep haunting me, somehow the hope that there is always something beautiful waiting to happen tomorrow keeps me going...While I have no idea why the story had to end this way, I believe a few years down the line,when I write, I would introduce you to my special someone who would have made this ordinary story into a fairy tale by then..So while I am sure, I will fall in love again, much more crazily and have loads of blissful moments to share and keep the blog alive, the last two years were eventful in their own special ways..it did have its own set of joys and sorrows and boy what a ride it turned out to be..

I ..umm..errr 
Got a pre placement offer and was the first to get placed in my college
Got drunk, danced, laughed and shouted my way to glory for the entire final year
Enjoyed every bit of hostel life ..especially the blissful final year..bliss is an understatement
Discovered it was a Sunday only because there was a chicken biryani being served
Slept like a log for most of the days and woke up straight into lunch
Met some amazing people
Was SIMBLY HAPPY for most of the days
Landed a job which I am really passionate about
Travelled 100 km to eat dindugal biriyani
Went on a trip with complete strangers
found a new hobby - swimming
Got my dream bike - a bullet - funded completely on my own salary
Spent an entire night on the marine drive laughing my heart out and recording my first 24 hour sleepless stint
Fell in love again..while it didn't last for long..it was heaven till it lasted
Joined a gym and nearly fainted on the first day 
Went to vandaloor zoo and got excited seeing a lion 
Went on a spending splurge 
Had my first family get together after ages
Stayed with my lovely mom day in an out..a blessing that I realised after 4 long years
Get to taste the worlds best home made dosas every day
Still get treated like a king at home
Still get pocket money from my mom.."Amma..I earn".."So what" and her stern cute look follows
Went on an eating spree..covered every cuisine from Greece to China
Had intellectually stimulating discussions with worse-if-not-equal assholes like me on every saturday night
Started visiting Bharat matrimony site more no of times than my FB page
Still get Kozhi(chicken) leg piece in my dreams
Went on a bike trip all alone ..watched TV and came back :(

And to be honest while I really didn't expect my life to turn out this way.. the last two years were definitely one of the best times I have ever had ..

I have no clue on what is in store for tomorrow..But I have decided.. Whatever happens I am going to

SMILE .. COME WHAT MAY !!

and this is how I came out of the biggest tragedy in my life..Period

P.S: Oye I know someday you will get to read this.. In case you end up reading till here.. I just wanted to let you know that "I still miss u" :)

Aug 8, 2012

Mere Paas Ma Hai !!


"Dai Dog..Where are you ??" I growled wiping off yet another newly formed layer of sweat from my forehead..Standing on the streets in the perfect setting of a sunny april in chennai is definitely not as romanticized as it sounds..For once, I visualize myself nodding " Haan ji" to my poor north Indian friends who have spent most of their life cribbing about the two inevitable things about chennai - the heat and the girls.

After an endless wait of 5 long minutes my good old useless friend turns up. I jump into his car and finally after the usual exchange of profanities which take us down to the lowest levels of civilization , we give our usual "may the mosquitoes enter" wide mouthed laughter. I was meeting him after ages and still everything seemed to be the same..From the days when we strolled around the streets wearing those fancy colored "Ramarajan-has-definite-competition" kinda shorts with a cricket bat carryin sachin's pic on one shoulder and his arms on the other to the current days where allen solly and van heusen have sadly displaced the evergreen attire..nothing seems to have changed..the laughs, the useless conversations, the swear words,the bird watching sessions..hmm..there are a lot of things which can screw you and for everything else there are friends..

With a lot of "machi A is going out with B" .."WTF !! then what happened to C " list of stories with A to Z representing our entire list of eventful friends, he drove his car to his mom's school.."Machi..two minutes work da"..Since we had 2 hours more for our movie I wasn't complaining.

I was going there after ages and the moment we entered I had a pleasant surprise..the new compound wall which had replaced the old rusted barbed fence, a small playground with garishly painted see saw and a slide with the kids happily running around replacing the old worn out barren land, a medium sized building which smelt of fresh paint, and the usual this-one-for-sure-will-never-change bespectacled teacher with a heavy dose of jasmine on her head who kept repeating something followed by the thunderous response of the same thing from the kids.Looks like "development" has finally caught up with this little unknown school which continues to keep the dreams of a lot many underprivileged kids alive.

As we entered one of the teacher greeted us with a warm smile and said "we need to get MS Word installed"..I (the ex software engineer) and he (the current software engineer) gave the oh-that's-complicated-but-no-fear-for-we-are-here looks and got down to work..15 min and we clapped our hands off indicating symbolically that the mission was accomplished.

And that's when his mom came in with her usual 100watt smile intact. I was seeing her after ages and the usual "how are you" questions were exchanged. We gorged on the snacks and I was getting ready to leave as  I always believed a "5 min conversation" was all that was required to stop the other generation from complaining in their usual accusatory tone "these kids cant respect ppl" .And thats when she suddenly threw a shocker.."How is this saree" she asked with a twinkle in her eyes.. "umm err..ya its good Aunty" I replied a little surprised by the question .. "Its a pattu saree..He bought it for me "she gave a proud smile pointing at him ..He looked down as if searching for something in the floor with a "don't embarrass me" smile..I have always been a sucker when it comes to these sentimental scenes in real life and I gave my usual I-have-no-idea-how-to-react-but-will-smile. She asked " can you guys spare two min and come with me"."Ma its already late..we need to catch a movie" he whined still having not recovered from the previous sentimental scene.She suddenly caught him by the hand and started walking with her proud smile intact. Left with no choice I followed. She barged into a room which proclaimed "5 C" (i.e 5 th std C section for those have become a tad bit too old to remember the nuances )

A local DTS version of "Good morning Teacher" echoed across the dusty walls of the room. She still held his arms while he sheepishly tried to wriggle out. And she slowly left it go and turned to the kids and pausing a second taking a whiff of breath , she smiled and asked "How is this saree" ..a pause followed "Super ah erukka" (Is it good). "Super ah erukku " the class roared while breaking into giggles. I felt really weird. Why in the world does she want to show off was my first reaction ." A pattu sari..ya right..so what..How does it really matter" I kept mumbling getting a bit impatient

With absolutely no qualms, she went on " Do you know who bought it..This is my son and he bought it for me..." 

"Now once u grow up, will you get a good job "..The class blissfully shouted "yes".." Will you buy your parents something like this"..the "yes" continued and she gave a pause letting the moment to sink and went again " Will you buy your parents something like this".. "Yes Mam" the chorus continued..

And suddenly it felt very strange. It slowly dawned. Maybe its not about the saree..

And slowly she looked at me "How much ever I earn, nothing like a gift from my son..I know what you must be thinking..but even if one of my student is inspired by this..my job is done"

I went blank for a second..an enigmatic silence followed..and ironically while there was this strange sense of emptiness, the heart felt heavier..."How much ever I earn, nothing like a gift from my son" the voice echoed ..The last time I bought something for my mom was 5 years back And I still remember the happiness on her face. That was the first time in 21 years that she got something from me. And a year had followed where she would display it across to each and every soul right from my my maid to the poor paper wallah and follow it up with a "my son bought it for me " story.  "Bliss-fullness" was the word.

In the pretext of a busy life, I somehow comfortably took for granted a lot of  wonderful people in my life. My mom was one of them. While I kept searching for love everywhere around, little did I realize it was right there..very close to me..all along till this very day.. But being the idiot I am..Kept her waiting all along..

Sometimes some of life's biggest realizations come from some of the most stupid circumstances. I had mine that day.

"Better late than never" I gave a wink and a shebaa-atleast-now-I-realised sigh. I came back home to find her peacefully couched in the living room sofa. "Ma, get up" ..Before she could resist I pulled her up while she murmered "Why da".."Now you close your eyes"..My grandma and my little brother had finally got their last confirmation on their year long analysis and gave a glance across each other while they nodded to their mind voice "GONE CASE !!"

I thrust it into her hands and asked her to open her eyes. She saw her favorite "Dairy Milk" in her palms and smiled "but why now". I gave a naughty smile and said "For every new beginning.. we should start it off with a sweet "..

"And may I know what is beginning.."

I took her close, gave her a hug and whispered "nothing ma..I love you loads..just thought I should let u know.."

Felt like heaven..

The moon shone, stars twinkled and the birds flew happily.

Now while I finally spend some time with her, As always you ppl keep smiling..Come what may !!

P.S : "even if one of my student is inspired by this..my job is done" ..Hmm ..Aunty, your job is done :)

Jun 15, 2010

Big Problem Machi !!!

The pointed tip of the dark lead traced the trajectory of a straight line, suddenly took a sharp turn and then slowly curved along to form an oval . It paused for a second and the same ritual followed .....

Lets zoom out a bit. Two tiny fingers struggled to hold the gigantic nataraj pencil while continuing the ritual of carving the cursory form of letter 'A'.

Lets zoom out a bit more . A curly haired, little boy wearing a garish red shirt sat across the floor deeply engrossed in perfecting the art of cursive writing . Boss , Can you zoom in a bit ..Holy shit..Thats me out there ..20 years back on this same day , same time , there I sat struggling to make my quivering fingers produce the perfect A . And I swore for the first time in my life cursing the 'miss' who had given me homework , cursing the big pencil which I couldnt hold , cursing the travails of going to school everyday , cursing the pain of reciting "papa black ship have u any wul..."

"BIG Problem Machi " I thought for the first time...

A few years later ...
An internet center had opened near our school . The entire school buzzed with rumours that the 10th std A sec guys had seen something in the internet . A few days later amidst the dim lights I was gaping petrified at the small 15 inch monitor . OMG should it be so huge ..A drop of sweat fell from my forehead as realization struck . Oh no...

"Big Problem machi " I thought yet again..

A little more years later...
Arun Di Caprio stood with Sabarish Winslet ,both of us resembling the pose of a scarecrow ."Every night in my dreams I see you ..." the song echoed through the rickety bus amidst the roars of laughter from our seniors as I struggled to get the 'charanam' of the Titanic song right...The ragging sessions had begun ...

"Big Problem Machi" the same thought...

In kolkata , each and every species which can be classified under the biological tag "male" had a girl ..exceptions: Ramu , Somu,Yogi, Mama , Dinku and of course me....
Finally the day had come when men would be men and as every Ramesh and Suresh we had known had inspired us with their adventures in the discotheques , it was time we had a beginning to our adventures . And what better day than the new year . We nonchalantly threw 750 bucks at the counter and walked in with excitement ...The party had begun ...It was rocking ... What a night ...At 3 p.m in the night we all stood in a circle in the center of our living room...We looked at each other for a second and the next second we all wailed together " Aiyoo poche " (Its gone)..The wails just got louder each time we got reminded of the 750 bucks , the couples in the disc , the only 5 dumbos who danced together and atlast that look ...arghhh ..that look that they gave us...the wails got stronger..

"Big Problem machi "...

The 8-in-1-rented-home days , when we have a once in a blue moon treat and of course end up with the pride of having laid to rest a a few more sacred species of Hen and finally the next day when you wait outside the only bathroom as tears start flowing from your eyes automatically while your hands are still pounding at the bathroom door...A voice from inside shouts back " Dai , enga kooda nimmathiya erukka vida mattiya ...ennada unnaku prechana ??"
(U wont let me have peace even in here...whats your bloody problem???")

"Big Problem machi " my whimpering voice struggled to come out of my mouth...

On a rainy saturday evening , I stood there on the shores of marina as her little fingers held on to mine and we slowly walked through the gentle waves as the drizzles of the about-to-begin rain fell on us . One of the softest-drops fell across my eyelids and for a frozen moment in time the eyelids kissed themselves . And the image of me standing next to her in our wedding flashed across . With a sudden jerk , I opened my eyes . Thank God it was just a dream !!!

"Big problem machi ..." I thought again...

Those screwing exams , grueling lab sessions , placement struggles , the software industry , admission grills , interviews , the monotonous lives , the ever increasing traffic , the empty wallets , sambhar sadham , power cuts , my ever increasing body width ...

Hmmm.....Big Problem Machi !!!

And suddenly I notice I have been having this BIG PROBLEM Machi syndrome throughout my life ...Right from the time I have started to exist , there always seems to be some problem ...but strangely none of the problems I had in the past seem worthwhile now..I really wonder as to why the fuck did I ever treat them as a problem in the first case ...Most of my problems in retrospect have been moments which I cherish and laugh about the most..Be it my cursive writing ordeals , or the net center debacle or the ragging blues (I still miss those guys...they were the best seniors ever ) or my sweetheart with whom I have survived for 5 years and hope to survive a 60 more!!! or my lovable roomies with whom I have spent one of the best useless days of my life ...This point in time when I am blabbering out here again I do have my own set of problems ...and boy they do look damn serious to me...What am I supposed to do??

Well easier said than done ..Though I really have no idea on how these bloody problems would get solved or as to how in the world will these current problems turn into chershable memories ..All said , I realise one thing for sure ...we shall always have some problem or the other always .."such a pessimistic thought" I must say..But probably if we ponder a little more over the simple statement "we shall always have problems " what a refreshing perspective it brings...

If I have problems so do you . So does everyone in the world . Probably the intensities would vary ..while I have a big problem today u might have a small one , but tomo u might have that same big problem while I am left with the itsy bitsy ones..But irrespective of that if everyone one of us have problems , why should I feel sorry for myself that I am the only one whom life treats unfair..

I cant believe it took me 24 years to realise this !!! problems are just a normal part of this beautiful journey called life ...So my dear problems , I am all set to have you by my side all along the journey..but I am sorry u wont be getting the importance which u always got from me previously..rather next time u r there I would rather say "watha , vaada machan my dear problems"...

Problems have been raping me so far...
Its high time I lay back and start enjoying sex !!!!

May 23, 2010

The god of small things ...


Dabbling between preparing the steel sector report which I had to submit the next day and answering the highly intellectual questions from my 8th standard cousin athulya was no mean task . "An ant and an elephant went swimming. But instead of swimming together, they took turns getting into the pool. Both were never in the pool at the same time. Why?" she continued ..

As usual I put on my act of thinking by bringing in a few variations of lines across my forehead and tapping my forefingers in slow motion on my cheeks..and after a lot of frantic efforts to think I gave in and retorted with the usual "PASS"...

"They had only one pair of shorts"... The roar of laughter broke through the room , with my 5 th std brother and his gang of friends solely responsible for the 'roar' part of the laughter.

With a sheepish smile I got back to my report " Indian steel sector contributes ..." and before I could complete "Arun cheta , do you believe in god " ...

I didnt know why she asked me that all of a sudden but without a thought I replied "no"..

And what followed was a huge gasp by all the children and there were a lot of whispers and hustles . I was too busy to think and it was a spontaneous answer .

"But how can that be . Why dont you believe in god ???" she immediately asked ..

I was in no mood to give an insightful answer which would go about and bring about a profound change in the children and anyway I didnt believe even if were in the best of moods I would be doing that .
"Why do u believe in god ??" I replied without a thought continuing to type the report .

"Umm ...because he is there everywhere and he helps us......." the reasons kept coming with each and everyone adding on to the chaos ...

The clock struck 1 as I tiredly switched off the computer and waded my way across the darkness of the room with the cell phone light giving me a reason not to trample the little hands of my brother and the not so little hands of my mom hugging him tightly . A few careful steps and there I lay peacefully across my bed .

Just as thoughts across my mind were getting shutdown , one little thought creeped up ..
Does god really exist ??

An image of a man lying across the ghostly white sheets , with several pipes going in and out of various parts of his body flashed across ...those unspoken words that I heard as I stood there ...Those locked up tears which hid themselves amongst my smiles for a very long time finally had a reason to bid adieu to my eyes and landed on the strewn prayer books across the floor..Those screams and cries which strangely I seem to never hear.....and slowly his eyes closed ...the nauseating smell of medicines spread through the room as I felt a strange darkness...My eyes closed for a second and for one last time I whispered "I love you dad"...

"God doesn't exist " the inner voice overcame the pain which I felt yet again and I slowly closed my eyes and drifted off.

It was yet another sunday and my brothers gang had arrived for they had an important cricket tournament today . As usual our hall became the cricket ground and I took the responsible role of the-neighbourhood-mama-who-scolds-children-for-breaking-his-window-pane with the sole aim of protecting our TV screen and gave them stern glances and warnings to which of course no one gave a hoot ...

"Dai , pradeep ...ennada romba naala kaanom..." I asked pradeep the 4th std grandson of our neighbourhood maid . ( Pradeep , what happened to you ...you havent turned up for a long time )

"ella na ...summa thaan " he smiled ...(nothing bro , just like that )

The match had started and soon the struggle of protecting my TV screen got aggravated with the additional role of the umpire controlling the tempers of the warring cricket legends .

The day passed by and it was the evening time and as I was deciding on which biscuit to choose from , in the kitchen ..."Do you know what happened to pradeep " the familiar tone of my mom echoed ..

I lay there motionlessly across my bed staring across the twirling fan which induced strange emotions ..Pradeep's father had left his mom long back for another woman .. And she was working in a garment factory to make ends meet and make him study ..and she did manage to put him into a decent school in our locality..but soon fate had some other plans ..a guy lured her into the acting industry with a promise of giving her an acting chance in a serial..what followed was little bit of manipulation...she did get a blink-and-u-will-miss portion in a serial and along with that a few videos taken secretly to blackmail her ...
Last week she had decided to sleep for the last time but this one was on a railway track....

The question propped up "Do you believe in god ???"

The smile of young pradeep which hid the scars his heart carried flashed across...What did god find so evil in him that he wanted to take that little smile away from him..
The glimpses of the two children who were playing across the rohini signal jumping across each and every car window and spreading an orange cloth and pleading to buy flashed across...and that little smile they had which mocked at the hot afternoon sun as their sweat shone across the dust laden faces ...the small kid who taught me there is so much joy even in the simple art of selling sundal...the old abandoned lady who sipped through the 2 rs tea enjoying its warmth and comfort as I stood there watching.. the images of numerous ppl who struggle across the streets as they fight for each and every day of their lives against the street dogs , against the soaring sun, against the hunger ,against the bruises, against the feelings of being left out and at last against the us ....the us who never had the time to see them ...

Do you believe in god ??

Well , yes I do ..

But its not found in those statues . Its not found in those hilltops where people throng in herds to find him...Its not the one whom I blamed for all my troubles ...Its not the one for whom people kill each other..

Its rather right there amongst that little smile that pradeep had ... amongst that little joy which those kids across the signals had ...amongst that iota of happiness which every sale of sundal brought to the boy...amongst that little smile which signifies human spirit...that spirit to keep standing up each and every time we fall and put up that little smile...

God is really not something I cannot see ..its right there ...right across the different faces which have only one religion...the religion called "human spirit" ...a few are lucky to be smiling now...and a lot who are not so hope to do so one day or the other....Each and every one of us go through a lot of struggles . For some its comparatively easy , for some its hard , for some the pain is unbearable ...

At the end of it , this too shall pass .. and so does each of our struggle...but that little smile that we find at the end of each painful period we go through...that is where I see god...

So maybe next time before you drop a ten buck note into the coffers of a so-called-powerful-temple , probably you can feed a hungry stomach...n probably bring that little smile ..

and who knows , you might even get to have a glimpse of god too in the deal !!!

May 15, 2010

Ta..na..na

My eyelids were about to kiss themselves , as the cozy sofa provided the perfect settings for a lazy sunday afternoon..ta nah nah ta na nah na na .. a thean-vanthu-payuthu-kathinile ( honey-coming-attacking-ears ) kind of soothing music slowly ventured into my ears and slowly moved through the various long-time-no-use parts of my brain and along the path it went on to trip a few nerves which brought my just-about-to-kiss eyelids to the wide-open state . The eyes traced the origin of the music to the 22 inch plasma screen across the room . It was the new tanishq ad for the wedding jewellery collection . Watch it below ...

. video


Beautiful ad I thought . It was so subtle , poetic and somehow stuck a chord with me...But soon the highly anticipated kissing scene between my eyelids replaced the ad and soon I was fast asleep...

Ta..na ...na..tha..nah na nah na...

"Anushka ....good girl ...good family ...why dont you meet her???" my father hinted..

"Not Interested pa" I smirked.

"Settled in St Jose ...
America " the story continued..

"Not interested " I replied nonchalantly .

"Do you have a girlfriend .."
I gave a stern glance...

"Then what marriage is a good thing ..." he was about to start again if not for the abrupt shout by my mother..

"Stop here " she shouted ..." I need to eat . You both continue . I will be back......".

Soon we were sitting inside the hotel .

"Is this the time to eat ??" my father quirked in an irritated tone.

But before the arguements could continue the waiter placed a huge chicken leg piece on my plate . The leg looked juicy and reddish hot with the aroma of the different spices fighting amongst each other to enter my nostril ."Aaahaa " I exclaimed as the smell took over to my head while the reddish brown leg piece gleamed with its reflection originating at the centre of my pupil and slowly spreading out . Then came the biriyani . The leg piece seemed to peek secretly from the midst of the biriyani rice seducing my already starved lips .

Ta..na ...na..tha..nah na nah na... the music kept playing.

I slowly took the piece by its leg and felt a vicarious tingle already ascend through the taste buds .
But suddenly the waiter realising something , asked "are you the mappilai ??" ( are you the to-be-bridegroom ??)

"Oh ...so this is the kalyana special chicken biriyani..mmm...We are not interested . leave it arun . Lets go " my mom quickly remarked and got up.

I gave a long look at the chicken piece...I got up and slowly walked out not before turning again for one last time and gave a desperate sigh . A
sigh which if I had the authority to amend the English language would have added a few more 'h's and made it sighhhhhhhh to explain exactly what I felt..

A few minutes later as we steered across the traffic , I casually asked " What was the name you mentioned ???"

"Anushka......"

The same background music ...Ta..na ...na..tha..nah na nah na...

My dad got a message from my mom...

"Its been 25 years and you still don't know that our son is a theeni pandaram !!!!"

( I beg your pardon...please dont ask me to translate )

Ta..na ...na..tha..nah na nah na... Biriyani that makes you marry ...

AAArrghhhhhh ....the shout of my bro slowly echoed across just about a few windows ,a few homes ,a few trees , a few streets and finally just barely managing to reach and disturb the peaceful sleep of the stray dog lying on the last street.

I lay there across the bed innocently with my bro's arms instead of the leg piece in my mouth .
After listening patiently to the not so likely-to-be-expected-from-a-10-year-old-swearing words , I innocently asked still amidst my dreams ,

"Where is my leg piece..Am I not married , yet !!! "

Apr 16, 2010

Now , I know the answer ...

Feb 18th ,2009

Amidst the bantering of the bangle selling lady who had finally decided to take rest on the path near the door of the train's compartment , amidst the wails of the child which rubbed through its flowing nose , amidst the face of the old beggar which held those untold stories , amidst the gushing water across the tap with the gargling sound from the uncle's mouth supplementing it , I sat there on the doorstep motionlessly still with the mirage of trees , barren lands , electric wires ,transformers sketching across the endless horizon... It was yet another assignment as a part of my job and there I was on my way to Edappal , a small village in Kerela .

The same question cropped up "Why do I need to do this ??" .
One question which haunted me for two years and as always the answer was the same . "My salary is getting credited day after tomorrow " the inner voice spoke . The same salary which the first time bought my mom a diamond pendant , the same salary which bought my girlfriend the gold ring , the same salary which bought me my pepe jeans , the same salary which bought me cold cofees at coffee day ....

but there was one little insignificant thing which it never bought me ....

Happiness....

A lot of such train journeys had passed before I finally had the guts to call it quits and finally follow my heart ...Its been a year . Have things changed . Have I learnt something . Have I really earned my smile....

July 10
th , 2009

A new life had begun . The grinds and grills of an MBA had begun , the assignments had begun , the presentations had begun , the screwing ups had begun ,the friendships had begun , the dreams had begun , the journey had begun .... As all these began , there was this sudden excitement towards which committee you had to be in . As every B School proudly says we are run for the students , by the students and of the students , it is these committees that actually do the above stated ...

Having been existing for 24 years , if there is one thing that I am completely sure of me - its the fact that I can easily beat anyone to the top of Forbes worlds most laziest people list .

So obviously to join no committees was my first motto but as fate had to play its role (I reserve that story for some other time) somehow I ended up in one of the committees - placom (the placement committee).

The entire batch after those mind boggling classes had a sigh of relief as they sipped through the hot coffee , guffawing and rambling about the various rumors and grape wines of the college . At one lonely corner of the college , "Mam , this is arun calling from....can we get an appointment for a corporate presentation for our execs placements " ..The calling had begun for fixing appointments for making presentations the next month to corporates (yup the same place from which I had come )..One month had gone by and so did lot of coffees and interseting gossips .I was missing all the fun and somewhere deep inside it didnt feel great... The planning had begun for the presentation at delhi ( I was in the delhi team !!) , the brochures , the cds , the list of companies , addresses , hr nos , train tickets , stay ...the list went on...

Soon I was walking across the streets of
delhi , trying to find out where the offices of the companies were situated . As always I ended up walking several miles, thanks to my 'ek gaon mein ek kissan ' hindi speaking skills .This became a routine as the mornings were filled with work and the evenings were filled with bird-watching sessions and tandoori chicken . With a hectic one week all the presentations were made .

And then finally came the DAY ..The first company was coming to campus the next day . Its 2 P.m in the night as I took the final printout of the resumes of the students who had applied . And At 2.30 p.m I went to the guest house to welcome the recruiters to the campus( they had a delay in their travel..a pretty loooong one ...phew) and showed them around their rooms and finally went back to my room at 3 P.M . Just when i thought I had just slept , a call woke me up "Arun , what would they be needing for breakfast " . The clock needle seemed to quiver around the number 6 as I woke up and soon I was running across in my blazer accompanying the recruiters for the breakfast . The process had begun . There were several last minute corrections in the resume , several queries ,and several anxious faces ...

The day went on and on and slowly the filtering was done with the final 10 ready to enter the interviews. The clock showed 11.30 p.m as the final candidate went in ..
I stood there outside with my knees starting to ache and my tired eyelids desperately wanting to kiss each other...

The same old question dawned "Why do I need to do this ?"

But before I could really think the door threw open and the last candidate was out . Soon I went inside after a 10 minute hiatus . The HR's seemed to be in a very serious discussion and finally the gave me the names . Two of them had been selected . Quickly I dialled their nos and said " Hey , congrats you are selected "....

And that one single moment that followed . I will never ever forget. ...that strange inexplicable feeling ...that little flutter across my heart ...that subtle joy ..that final taste of that little thing which money never bought me ...that little thing called Satisfaction... .I guess the guy on the other line said thanks but I
don't remember . And it didn't matter . In a few minutes I could see shouts of joy "machan I made it " ,clenched hands punching the skies with ecstasy , smiling faces reaching out to their near and dear ones sharing their joy .

At one silent corner ,as I watched all these the question cropped
"Why do I need to do this ?"

A few meters away from me I saw that joy on his face . That smile of conquering everything .That joyous voice over the phones shouting "ma ., I am placed " . That expression which spoke of victory and that some thing which I will never be able to explain.

And a silent voice within me spoke " This is why you need to do this !!!"

Months of hard work ,those missed coffees , those cribbings, those from-where-the-hell-do-they-crop-up problems ,those never ending planning , all those pains which went to it , my aching knees ....None of these mattered....

I slowly dropped into my bed .. I smiled ....

April 15th , 2010

The year had ended . I stood there near the door of my train compartment on my way back to Chennai from Trichy. There were times when I worked for money . And now these are times when I work for free , and I bet on my life that sometimes I have worked much more than what I actually did when I was paid . And honestly it feels great . To know that you worked , not for money , not for your personal gains but in order to bring that little smile on someones face .

And now I realize the problem was not my job but....

the person for whom I worked ...money..

I gave a smile as the winds brushed through my face and ruffled hair .

The same question but.....

Now I knew the answer ....

I kept smiling ...

Sometimes these simple experiences go on to teach us the biggest lessons in our lives...U keep searching for that 'something' everywhere and all of a sudden it just comes so unexpectedly , just like that chill breeze on a hot summer afternoon , nothing dramatic , nothing mind blowing ,but just hidden amongst the casual yet-another-day-of -life....So lets stop complaining and start relishing these simple experiences for what they have to offer and do our small part to bring that little smile back into people's lives...

Smile ...come what may !!!!