Monday, February 13, 2012

Just... Love...

While watching a 2004 movie, 50 first dates, I marveled at the power of true love. The movie centers around Drew Barrymore who suffers from short term memory loss, and Adam Sandler who is her much in love suitor. While Barrymore forgets all she learns on a given day (she begins her next day with an empty slate!), Sandler is in love with her and tries everything to make her re-remember him once she gets up in the morning. This endeavor results in him taking her on daily dates, which are always first dates for her, but just another in a series of events for him. It would have been very easy for him to just give up and move on… but of course he persevered, to give the delightful movie a happy ending.
It is said that to find company for Friday night is easy, what is tough is to find the right someone to spend the whole Saturday with, and that too, week after week, year after year…!!!

True love, affection and care come in many forms. They can be seen in parents who always go that extra mile to give their children the best. They can be seen in that teacher who goes beyond what is expected from him/her and nurture a student. I still remember how my English teacher sent me a guide book for grammar a few days before my 10th Standard English Board Exam. I studied harder after I understood the belief she had in me and I did top my batch in English that year… Thank You Ma’am…!

I consider myself fortunate to have made the best of friends in my life… The time I wanted to purchase a laptop, I was completely unaware about the recent configurations, etc… In fact, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to make the investment…! But this friend of my came with me to all the major computer showrooms day after day till I made up my mind about what I wanted and from where. Till date I believe, had it not been for him, I might still have been dilly-dallying on whether to buy a laptop or not… ;-).

An incident I once witnessed comes to my mind… I was travelling in the general compartment of a local train one Sunday evening. Opposite to where I was sitting I noticed a young couple. The girl was looking ill and was in tears. She was resting her head on the guy’s shoulder and he was trying his best to make her feel comfortable, considering the crowd in the compartment. Soon it was time for them to get down. The guy got up and so did the girl, with much support from her partner. There was a huge crowd of people waiting to get down at the next station and hence, the couple ended up standing in the passage itself.

A few minutes to the station I saw that the girl was on the verge of puking. She was trying to control herself, given that she was nowhere near the door and would end up creating a mess in the train if she puked. People who noticed her state soon started moving away from her path, lest she loses control. Suddenly, the poor girl, already in tears, started retching, right in the passage, and what do I see…? Her partner cupped his hands under her face, so that she ended up using his cupped palms as a makeshift wash basin…!!!

Gross… right? But what came to my mind immediately after the ewww… feeling subsided was that the guy had no qualms in doing what he did so as to give a little comfort to his partner… he saved the girl from the despair of not being able to vent herself in the packed compartment. Later, he very graciously accepted the newspapers and tissues I handed him to wipe his palms with, all the time with a reassuring smile on his face towards his partner… To this date, even months after the incident, it still remains vivid in my mind, as an example of true love.

This valentine’s I want to thank each and every person who has loved, cared and nurtured me throughout… Parents, teachers, friends… and if you are reading this, it means you too are a part of that list. Thanks a lot, for being there…!!!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Changing colors

Whenever I see people with authority, bosses, principals, and the like, I am always consumed with curiosity – how were all these people when they were young, in school and in college? When they were just faces in the crowd like you and me? Somehow, the picture never forms in my mind, so used am I to seeing them on a high pedestal. So I just end up assuming that maybe they were like this always… well, I am imagining a miniature version of my grey haired, pot bellied and moustached boss running around in khaki knickers with a water bottle round his neck and a hanky with his name on it pinned on his front… believe me, funny as it may be, it is wholly unbelievable!

So yes, the conclusion is that these were ordinary people at one time, before they were touched by the winds of authority. And once they got the power… poof! The TRANSFORMATION!

Many who haven’t seen such a transformation before their eyes might find it hard to believe what I say here. But trust me… this is real!

I am really happy for my friends who have got promoted in the recent days. But what gets to me is how their personal relationships change. All at once, I become a subordinate from a peer and a friend. And their interactions with me get limited to getting work done.

I am now sent mails with subject lines like – “report expected”,” whats the status” etc, from the same people who used to earlier send me frivolous forwards and indulge with me in random chats.

People who used to take queries from me with utmost patience earlier are now saying “main check karwata hoon!” which means, they no more handle these queries, instead, they have subordinates to do that. The fact that we used to use these query calls as a means to catch up in the earlier days is quite conveniently forgotten.

People who used to sit with me earlier and crib about the system, the office politics and the like are now a part of the same system – and I end up cribbing about them now…!!!

Two things which this scenario brings to my mind are (a) do I need to be more sympathetic to those friends of mine now coz they are under much more pressure than me? (b) as and when I shall go up the hierarchy, will I also change so?

It is likely that my newly promoted friends are really under too much stress. The amount and nature of their work has changed and they must genuinely not have time for inanities which they had earlier when they were not at managerial level. With time, it is possible that people adjust and settle down and forge new equations, though not as informal as before, but definitely more workable.

And as and when I go up the ladder, these events will have taught me a lot – on what not to do! Subordinates need not cease being friends. The very fact that someone goes up earlier than the others means that he/she is now ready to handle a more leadership role. Being a leader does not involve alienating juniors but taking them along in your new journey. And that is what I hope to follow.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

A Treat to Remember

I turned a year older on September 11. Inching closer to the dreaded 30, the only silver lining I was looking forward to was giving a treat to my friends.

Unfortunately, the treat got delayed. By the 14th, with no treat forthcoming, my friends started berating me… and I was called a miser amongst many things. But casual ribbing apart, even I was waiting for the opportune day to get everyone together and have fun, albeit for a short time. Around that time, I committed the blunder of telling my friends that I would be treating them at the Trident. It was meant as a joke of course, but my gang did use it to get back at me for delaying the treat…!

Finally, a good 10 days after my bday, I managed to get a delivery confirmed from Monginis for snacks and pastries. At 5.30, we met up, after a days work at office. And what followed was even better than what I was hoping for.

Mandar, the life of my party, initiated the ‘Happy Birthday’ song singing. Needless to say, it was really embarrassing, but cute. They tired not with 1, but 2 renditions of the world’s most popular song, with me smiling stupidly all the while. The singing completed, it was an indication for ‘Toot Pado’… that is, make grabs for the food. The pastries were awesome and even I was hogging, all thoughts of calories and pimples out of the window.

And suddenly, Mandar had this idea… he asked everyone at the table to give suggestions to me for my coming year… sort of resolutions for the New Year, but decided by the others. Well, since people always love giving advice, this suggestion was met with hoots of approval. And this post of mine is my record of the things I need to do this year…;-)

Shiv was the first to go. Shiv is a relatively new friend of mine and since the day we have met, his only grouse it hat I am not on FB. So presumably, his suggestion to me was to join FB pronto. Now, I have an inherent laziness to join social networking sites. I had joined Orkut after much persuasion from my engineering mates and never really used it well. With Orkut now on R.I.P. mode and Google Plus raising its head on the horizon, I wonder if FB would get outdated by the time I join it… : -)

Hemang and Manjit came up with suggestions of me trying out something new. Hemang advised to me go out and visit new places, try out new adventures, something which I haven’t done much all these years. Manjit advised me to go ahead and do all the things which I keep wishing I could do. I want to learn singing, dancing, crafts, things I have loved all my life but have been pursuing amaturely. Surely, good ideas that I need to implement.

Abhi n Mandar gave an advice which I was expecting from them – that I should learn to love myself. Well, I have this tendency to rate myself on the feedback I get from others. Whether this stems from insecurity or lack of confidence, I don’t know. I am much better now than I was a few years back. But the effect of the dose of confidence which I got during my MBA days is now on the wane. So again, a suggestion needed to be implemented fast.

And finally, it was Sanket’s turn. And he made good use of his coming last, by hitting below the belt. He said – U should never say things u have no intention of doing. As I grappled to understand what he means, he explained – we were promised a treat at Trident, all we get is Monginis? I was shocked at this meek guy’s so called suggestion which was actually a barb at me… ; -) and couldn’t help but think ‘Et tu Brute!’

Well, Sanket’s words opened up a flow of comments, on whether food at 5 star is good or not, and how Monginis was actually quite tasty… soon, it was time to call it a day, a few had to go back to office to complete work and the rest of us were headed home.

The evening was fun in more ways than one and this post has locked it in my memories for ever…


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Co-Passengers - What a Mixed Lot!

I enjoy travelling alone on long distance train journeys … after a hectic college schedule (now office schedule) chilling on the upper berth with a novel and dozing off reading it is something which signifies the ultimate rest for me…

It is fun to reminisce about the various co-passengers I have had… some gud, some plain boring… an 18+ hr train journey Is livened up by these specimens!

My journey from Ernakulam to Hyderabad for my MBA project is probably my longest journey alone till date. Saddled on berth 72 in a non AC coach, I knew the journey was going to be tiresome… but what I had not bargained for was a bunch of rowdy bankers off on a department holiday to Hyd. In the evening; the rowdies began singing round after round of crazy malayalam songs drinking what looked like Limca from a bottle, which later turned out to be ‘desi daru’… I tried my level best to ignore the melee and quietly had my dinner. Then I saw the pantry guys coming with cups of milk. I bought a cup…

“Hey, don’t drink that milk, that is Camel Milk!” shouted one of the rowdies to me…!

Needless to say, I paid them a deaf ear, drank the milk n dozed off. I was to reach Secunderabad only at noon n hence looked forward to sleeping till 10… little did I know that I would not be allowed my full beauty sleep!

Come morning, I was rudely awakened by someone pushing me… yes, the rowdies! Guess, what?

“Are u ok? It is 8 now, since u dint get up we wondered if something happened to u, thanks to drinking that Camel Milk!”, the one waking me up explained.

Of course, I was royally put off… My sleep disturbed, I had no option but to count hours till Secunderabad… God! Wasn’t I glad when the awful journey ended!

This April travelling from Mumbai to my home town alone, I had a different experience with co-passengers. Just in after a particularly stressful week in office, I was looking forward to the trip. I went up to sleep. The pantry guy came around just then n I ordered a bread omlette for breakfast the next day. I also warned him that I would be asleep and he will have to wake me up and give me my breakfast. He agreed n left.

The next morning I woke at well past 9. I realized that the pantry guy has not woken me up and I have to go without breakfast. It is then that a co-passenger uncle came up to me with my bread omlette…

“We thought u looked tired n in need of sleep, so we dint let the pantry guy wake u up and instead, bought ur breakfast for u!”, he said.

I was touched by the thoughtfulness of my co-passengers… it was amazing to see people I was meeting for the first time show so much concern…

Kids can sometimes be a real pain to travel with. I remember once a bunch of kids where being exhorted to play ‘Hanuman’ by their parents… making loud noises and jumping here n there, the kids were trying to impersonate Hanuman. Of course, the plight of their co-passengers who had to bear the noise and nonsense all night was not their concern, was it?

And then there was the girl who came up to me in my last year’s train journey and enquired plaintively:

“When will you leave? Leave soon, I need ur seat so my whole family can sit together!”, she stated.

I have always felt it unnerving to open my eyes in the morning in a train and see unfamiliar faces around me. Whenever I wake up in the train imagining myself to be looking like a wreck I am faced with co-travelers waving cheery good mornings!

I sometimes wonder how boring and long my train trips would be if not for this continuous study in human nature… here’s looking forward to more trips and more vignettes with co-passengers!

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

How Old are You?

Bryan Adams once famously sang ’18 till I die!’… My observation about age is that, one is never fully content with what age he/she currently is… some want to be younger, some wish they could be older… but I feel that life in the 20s really rocks… doesn’t it?

Teenagers always find themselves fraught with problems and confusions which seem to be all important. They then wish to get out of the teens and into the 20s soon.

People who cross 30 feel they are closer to being over the hill now… 30 is the scary number (even for me!) which signifies the entry into a new decade of life closer to the ‘middle ages’. I am sure people in their 30s feel like going back into the 20s… (I definitely would!)

What is it about the 20s which is so attractive? For one, I feel that the 20s decade is very eventful in any person’s life. It sees him move from student life to work life and (usually) then married life. It is the decade where there is a delightful balance of freedom and responsibility. If teenage keeps one under the thumb of parents, the 20s signifies the age of breaking free especially when one starts working thereby becoming financially independent. Also, one attains a maturity in being responsible for himself and learns to make his own decisions and stick by them.

The 20s is also usually the age when one finds companionship in the form of spouse/partner. Life changes a lot then but is still enjoyable in its new phase. There is possibility of self discovery along with getting to know your partner.

I am currently in the latter part of 20s and still enjoying this phase of my life. But of course, opinions on this differ. I have a friend who loves posh cars. He always makes an observation when we pass a posh car on our way – he says that most posh cars (merc, BMW, etc) are usually driven by drivers and ply paunchy old men. In the 20s, we have age on our side, with the energy and desire to drive on roads in any car we like… but we lack the money for it… :- ) and finally when we make money, age is not on our side and we acquire whatever we wish to (be it car or whatever) but have to depend on others, like drivers. How true na?

We always hear statements like ‘Age is just a number, u are only as old as u feel!’… as for me, I love being in this phase and if feeling 20 always will keep me there forever… I m willing to give it a try!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ladies Only

30th September 2010 was a much hyped day in Mumbai on account of the Ayodhya Verdict which was given on that day. I have been in Mumbai for just over 3 years now and 1 thing which I have noticed here is the nonchalance which people have towards bandhs/hartals and the like. Probably, being from good old Kerala where even the murder of a mouse affiliated to a certain political party somewhere in Timbuktu will lead to a day long bandh, the non conformance to bandhs by Mumbaikars makes me feel really happy.

Well, coming back to the 30th, I found the ghost of 1992 haunting people who had been here at that time. As a result, there was nervousness among the public, a lot of organizations declared an impromptu holiday and the usual indifference of the public was replaced by panic. For me, it was business as usual as I went to office that Thursday, wishing it was Friday instead… Office talk centered around possible outcomes and wagers on them, level of violence expected and so on. It was around 2:30 PM that I saw a notice which left me wondering – the women within the organization can leave on account of violence expected after the verdict (then expected at 3:30 PM)!

Understandably, there was a ruckus… why only women? Violence would apply to all, right? The following options were put forward –

Some felt that it is because women are more important than men in the scheme of things. Hence arrangements have been made for them to get home before anything untoward can happen. The men would be left to fend for themselves in the face of violence and hence must be unimportant!

A few other were of the contrary opinion – Men are more important, the women are likely to get into trouble being on the road when start of violence is expected (i.e. around 3:30 when the verdict would come out). The men can coolly leave after everything settles down!

But the final opinion took the cake (and the bakery!)… a particular smart alec commented that, in fact, there would be no violence at all… the women are being sent off early so that at least once, the hardworking men can have a chance to work well without the interference of the women who only gossip and shirk responsibility all the time…!

Needless to say, there was a riot at this statement, which was controlled only coz most of the women left in the special bus at 3 PM!!! :-P

Anyway, I didn’t leave. And anyway, there was no violence. And of course, I travelled home in an empty train coz most people had left their offices early as a precautionary measure!

But at the end of the day I wondered… are women really so much more fragile than men? Can’t they handle a difficult situation well and is that why they alone were sent off early? It seems we still have a lot more to think and do in terms of man-woman equality!

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

In the Nick of Time

If you stay in Mumbai, u cannot avoid public transport. By ‘you’ I am referring to you, a member of the burgeoning middle class, looking for economical and fast transport. Let us see how the vagaries of public transport can make or break a deal through an incident in the lives of our Vicky n Shruti one evening when they went shopping:

“Hmm… limited edition French Connection watch eh? For whom? And where did u get the money from?” asked Vicky.

“It is for Bhaiyya… And yeah, I have saved my allowance for a long time. Bhaiyya would love to get the watch on his bday… I have told u na how much he loves watches. But we need to hurry; the store person said that there are only 2 more watches left and no more collections are expected in the near future…!” Shruti said with a shine in her eyes.

“Why don’t u ask them to just hold 1 for u…?” Vicky suggested.

“I did, but it seems it is against their policy … let us take Kaka’s bus which starts from ur office… we shall reach station fast!”

“Kaka’s bus? All my colleagues go in that… I can’t risk taking u with me in it… let us go for BEST instead!”

“U sure? I don’t wanna miss the watch!”

“You can kill me if that happens… trust me!” says Vicky in an attempt to create some humor.

They then set off to the Bus Stop.


“Hey… all buses for Bandra Station are so full… chalo na, lets go to Kaka’s bus!”

“Offo Shruti, have patience! I will ensure u get ur watch… accha, here is a bus for Dharavi; we shall go in it and get a rick from Kalanagar, as it is, rickshaw to the station is almost impossible from here!”

Shruti makes a wry face, but complies with Vicky’s suggestion. They get into the bus.

“So where is the French Connection stoooor… PHAAATTTT…!!! (Suddenly there is huge noise outside the bus) Hey kya hua?”

They realize that the bus tyre just burst… and they are just 2 stops away from where they started!

“Oh no… my watch…” Shruti is now lamenting.

Seeing her, Vicky reconsiders his decision and they move towards the Kaka’s bus, colleagues and their comments notwithstanding…! Thus they finally reach Bandra Station.

Local Train

Vicky n Shruti reach Bandra Station from where they have to take a train to Vile Parle. They notice a huge rush on the platforms, exceptionally more than usual.

“Hey, watsup? Why so much crowd?”

They suddenly hear an announcement which states (roughly translated) ‘Due to the snapping of overhead cable at Bombay Central, all trains are running late. Inconvenience caused to passengers is highly regretted!”

Shruti is now on the verge of tears. Like a cricket match score update, she has just got to know from the French Connections store that now only 1 watch is left. With the train problem, it seems unlikely she will be able to reach the store on time.

“Why is everything going wrong today? When there is no urgency, everything will be on time!”

Finally, a train for Andheri comes to the platform. People are hanging from the doors and there is not an inch of space left. But Vicky n Shruti take a chance and travel in the Handicapped compartment (which itself is relatively full with normal people!).

At Vile Parle, they almost get thrown out of the train due to the rush… suddenly they notice a Ticket Examiner… before he has a chance to come near them; they manage to give him a slip!


“Arre bhaiyya Irla chaloge?”
“Bhaiyya Irla?”
“Oooofff!!!” All rickshaws are moving past them with the drivers giving them looks as though it is a criminal offence to travel in a rickshaw to Irla!

Vicky n Shruti are exasperated. Not a single rickshaw driver is willing to take them to Irla where the French Connection store is.

“Where do these people want to go? Why can’t they take us to Irla?” Shruti is frustrated with the rickshaw guys. “They need a few more days of Meter Jam. Only then will they stop taking customers for a ride!”

Meter Jam was a day when the general public boycotted rickshaws in order to protest their unreasonable ways. But it seems there has been no change in the rickshaw drivers even after the protest!

“Shruti I think we should just start walking. Who knows, we might reach Irla faster than just waiting here asking all these rickshaw people who are anyway not willing to come!”

Shruti is now in no mood to contradict anything that Vicky says. She dumbly starts walking behind him, hoping that she will still get the last watch!

So, slowly trudging all the way, Vicky n Shruti reach the store.

At the Store

“Hey Vicky look! There’s the watch I wanna buy… but a couple seems to have already shortlisted it! See… that lady seems to be keen on getting it for her partner!”

Shruti is now really upset. Will she miss the watch for which she n Vicky took so much pain? She turns around to look for Vicky… hey! Where is he?


The signature tune of Bond 007 is playing in his mind. He is slowly walking towards the couple who has shortlisted the watch. He is as unobtrusive as Bond and he is sure no one is looking at him. He is now directly behind the couple and is waiting for his chance. Shruti is watching him, confused, wondering what he is upto, but knowing better than call out to him loudly.

Suddenly Vicky notices that the lady gets a call on her cell. Her attention is diverted from the watch and her partner is scrutinizing the other watch she has shortlisted. Vicky senses his chance… NOW!

Vicky springs forwards clasping the watch in his left hand in a diving effort which will make any super fielder’s effort on the cricket field pale in comparison! Shruti cannot believe her eyes! And neither can the lady, who suddenly notices that the watch she shortlisted is missing from the table!! She swerves around in surprise to realize that the watch has been taken by someone else!

Vicky rushes to the billing counter followed keenly by the lady… thhaaaaak… he hits his elbow hard on one of the display shelves… not in the position to stop and examine his elbow, he rushes on…

“Please bill this on my credit card… quick!”

The billing guy must never have seen someone so desperate to bill a watch… Vicky’s desperation could be compared to the hurry of an asthmatic billing for an asthma pump to take a breathe from before his breathlessness gets the better of him… in other words, a matter of life n death!! Finally, before the lady could even stake her claim on the watch, it gets billed and Vicky pays for it with his credit card…SOLD!

Shruti, who has been numb all the while witnessing Vicky’s efforts to get the watch she wanted is now overwhelmed. They are in a train back home now and she is holding the watch in her hands. An angry greenish blue bruise is forming on Vicky’s elbow where he hit it on the shelf at the store.

“Vicky thanks… if it had not been for u, I would not have got the watch!”

“Hey Shruti! U don’t need to thank me… but next time…”

“Next time…?”

“Next time u want to buy something, please please…”

“Please what Vicky?”

“Pleeeease don’t call me to accompany u…!!!”

“Vicky U….!” Shruti thwacks him on his head before hugging him tight!

Lost in Vicky and Shruti’s love story is the point that had it not been for the uncertainty caused by the public transport on that day, they would have managed to get the watch without all the drama. As Murphy’s Law states, ‘If anything has to go wrong it will!’ and so it did that day with Shruti. But thanks to Vicky and no thanks to the Mumbai public transport, she managed to get the watch In the Nick of Time!