Monthly Archives: September 2003

Devbagh Ahoy!

Lakshadweep was in the title I had originally contemplated for my post before I left for my vacation…Sad, the title can no longer be the same. Thankfully only my destination has changed and the vacation stays intact..phew 🙂 I am going to Devbagh beach resort, which is a small island on the coast of Karnataka. Have been waiting for a vacation break since years. Finally managed to wrangle 2 weeks out from that corporate mess called managers. That’s a different thing that they would themselves be on leave during the dussehra week.

I wrote the above when I was still in Delhi but I *just* didn’t get the time to post it.. and now here I am, blogging all the way from the silicon city of India.. ya Bangalore.. ta da ..and I have a lot of things to write about my 2 night train journey. Would blog abt my train journey as well as my devbagh trip when I get back from that island :-). Till then.. sun and sand and good times.. here I COME!!!

An uneventful Saturday

My Samsung cellphone has a mind of its own. Its charger has decided that it won’t charge my cell from any socket except a particular one at home! I have tried it in all sockets at home and numerous ones at office, but to no avail. All this, when I had bought an original cell with guarantee and all! So here I was, in Gaffar Market on the hot sweltering afternoon ( and I thought winters were close by!), haplessly looking for an ‘original’ Samsung charger. I soon realised that there’s ‘nothing original about it’. An original charger costs just 50-100 bucks more than a locally made one and it doesn’t have any guarantee! The standard reply which any vendor would give you there, is, ‘No guarantee for any original stuff as it doesn’t need any’!! what?!!

Anyway, I bought a suspicious looking charger, with no ‘Made in XXX’ stamp. After haggling for a while with the vendor about its authenticity, I gave up and satisified myself with a scrap of paper on which that guy had given me a 2 month ‘guarantee’. It had been duly signed by him.

It was well past my usual lunchtime. I was slightly apprehensive about having a solitary lunch. I’ve had a lone lunch several times at home, but an occasion when I especially go out somewhere (alone) to have lunch, has never happened. Out of habit, whenever I see a loner having a meal alone or watching a movie alone, I find myself sympathising with that chap and thinking what a sad life it must be. And I didnt want anyone doing that with me! But I had no choice, so off I went to McDonalds. I had been contemplating trying the Mc Curry Pan thing, for which they have shown several ‘moan groan’ ads on the TV. I took my order and went ahead for the lone lunch, and settled myself at a small three seater table. In due course of time, a kiddie made his way to a nearby table, apparently waiting for his parents to get the grub. With nothing better to do, he started looking around and I suppose I made a perfect specimen for a child’s inquisitive scrutiny. Mebbe his gaze had focussed on me because of the ‘Patrakaar’ way in which I had dressed up… a collared Khadi (long) kurta with blue jeans and brown sandals. The only thing adorning my face was earrings. Well, at least I didn’t have specs on or a cloth ‘jhola’ to make the perfect journalist. Mebbe he thought I would just take a pen and notepad and start asking for his views on Mc Donalds..I would never know. Soon enough a heavily-built-but-trying-to-be-hep-in-western-clothes female came and thudded on to a table (ok, the chair) right across me. Wonder how she managed to fit into those chairs. Like standard meals, Mc Donalds has a standard size for chairs too I guess. She had an array of plastic bags, all from the same shop, with a big SALE slogan written on them. She arranged all the bags as a barricade around her mini fortress – her table. I felt like asking her which shop had such a throwaway sale, that she managed to buy at least 12-13 articles from it…but left the idea in my mind as I noticed her grunting under her breath. She was soon joined by another friend of hers and they both took turns at stealing glances at me. Now I know that I am attractive and all that (ahem) but I definitely mind it if I get too much attention (even if it is guys giving me that attention). So I quickly swiped off whatever was left of the Mc Curry Pan thing (Let me mention that it is not at all worthy of that ‘moan groan’ quality that they show on TV) and left the place.
In the evening I decided to set out on another ‘lone adventure’. This time the venue was Sarojini Nagar. Even though the sun had set, it was tough wading my way through those innumerable sweaty bodies, slithering at a slow speed, whereas I wanted to zip through the crowd. My eyes caught some bright colored and sequined garment being sold for a discount. On questioning the shopkeeper about what he thought was worth the amount he had quoted, he told me that the same thing is worth 20K INR! I thought I hadn’t heard correctly and expressed so.. he instantly assured me that 20K was indeed what he had meant.. foreigners had paid 20K INR for that measely thing. Didn’t know which bewildered me more.. the exhorbitant price or the fact that he had actually used a foreigners ignorance to his own advantage.

Some mundane facts abt my blog

1. The person you can thank (or curse) for my plunge in the blogging world is Aashish. That’s a different thing, that I have visited his blog may be 4 times in my entire bloglife. Even he doesn’t know that he was indirectly the one who made me take the decision. I was toying with the idea of blogging since quite some time but never really took the plunge coz I thot I would not be able to manage it regularly with the kind of hectic schedules that office usually gives me. (wasn’t wrong about that one :P) Now I knew somewhat about Aashish, since one of his collegemates (P) happens to be my cubicle mate. P would time and again tell me of the mails on their yahoo group that Aashish would usually post.. all gossipy stuff like ppl eloping and getting married and the like :-).. It seems he was the only regular ‘news reporter’ on their yahoo gp. I could perfectly identify with him coz I was more or less in the same situ..trying to keep a yahoo group alive by posting juicy gossip and of course also being the moderator. I was also given to understand that he’s in the IT industry, though I think in the management cadre. And one fine day P told me about Aashish’s venture into the blogging world.. so here I was…thinking that his interests seem to be very much like mine.. and may be I should also give blogging a try.

2. I started my blog as a private blog coz I was not too sure about what to write..I was sure that I didn’t want this to be a personal diary thing. It stayed that way for some days and then I posted something finally. I also made my blog public. But by that time, my blog was nowhere in the latest blogs entries so I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get any visitors/comments on the first post. It was something of a rather selfconscious first effort :P.

3. I thought of keeping a unique and original psuedonym for my blog. Suddenly ‘twilight’ bubbled up from somewhere in my head. I have always noticed that it’s much easier for people to open up or confess when it’s night or rather when it’s dark. Somehow the sense of anonymity that the night (or rather the darkness) lends to the atmosphere, makes people shed all their inhibitions and share their utmost personal thoughts. I have seen people, even strangers talking their hearts out in situs like these..I have myself experienced the same sense of comfort when it’s night. Ever noticed how one tends to always stay up late talking into the night even when one knows that one has important business to attend to in the morn? Well, somehow it’s just not the same in the daytime. Things are way too clear, precise and visible in daytime. In the night everything is kinda hidden in shadows..and well..there’s a comfortable sense of security. So ‘twilight’ indicated that it’s time to be chatty. I really don’t remember how I thought up of fairy. It was something to do with the magic that night brings with it or maybe it was something to do with weaving magic with words. 😛

4. So much for my originality! One fine day (inspired by many fellow bloggers), I searched in google for my psuedonym. The fact that the number of results were *huge* did nothing to amuse me, because all that turned up in the name of my blog was some obscure comment that I had left on someone’s blog which was in turn cached by google. The rest of the links were about some easily procurable *toy*, commonly found in departmental stores! Twilight fairy was a collectable like Barbie!!

5. Till date I have communicated with 3 bloggers on mail. None of them on a regular basis.

6. No one in my family knows that I blog and I intend to keep it that way. But I have consciously tried to post rather impersonal things so that I don’t land up in trouble at some later date :-). AFA my friend circle goes, I must have told around only 15-20 people that I blog. Hardly 2-3 visit my page once in a blue moon. The traffic usually consists of netizens I don’t know anything about. The number of ppl I shared this with is quite less actually but I didn’t broadcast it to all my friends because I was sure I would be greeted by remarks like ‘You sure are vela’, ‘Oh, so that’s what keeps you busy’, ‘You sure have a lot of spare time’ and the like.

7. My stats counter shows me some very weird things. I have never set my timezone but it gives me varied results all the time! It has a timezone wise share of my visitors. Bewildered would be a small describe what I was when I saw that most of my visitors seemed to be from the middle east.. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and even Pakistan. A substantial number was from India but it was miniscule compared to the middle east visitors! I wonder why ppl *there* would be reading my blog more than Indians! Though it also showed some stats of US (both east coast and west coast, where typically Indians work). In between for some days the stats showed that there were *hardly* any Indian visitors. I think most visitors ignore their timezone settings. That could be the only thing that explains the goof up. Here’s a pic of the stats.

For current stats, you can click here.

Close encounters of the 3rd kind

Flights of fantasies apart (not to forget the various scientific concepts I might have overlooked in the previous fictional account) let me write something about the actual thing. On 27th, I went to office by my car so that I could leave for Nehru planetarium on my own time and also get back conveniently. Despite my efforts, I could set out from office only at 6 (which is the official closing time anyway, but quite early for me). The moment I reached National Highway – 8, I was accosted by a huge traffic jam, spanning 2-3 traffic lights. It seemed to be unusual. Anyway, somehow managed to crawl through and decided to take Rao Tula Ram Marg and then the Moti Bagh crossing. It turned to be another big traffic packed segment. Unusual again, that road is pretty empty usually. To top it all, there was a lot of police around and some turnings had been barricaded for some reason. The Mumbai blasts had happened just a day before. The idea that the whole junta might be going for a view of Mars, also struck me and I abhorred the crowds already. Before Amit points out that I could have taken the ariel route, well, I didn’t want to rob Mars of its attention. Had I done that, all junta would have accumulated to watch *me* flying!

I managed to reach Nehru Planetarium after a 1.5 hr ordeal. The parking rush outside gave me an idea of what to expect inside. A show on Mars was supposed to be shown after which ppl were to proceed to Teen Murti Lawns to view Mars through a telescope. I got inside since I was under the impression that some special arrangements would be there to project something on the dome, on which normally all stars and planets etc are shown during regular shows. That was a mistake. I had gone alone and after waiting for ½ an hour, somehow managed to jostle my way (or rather got jostled) into the dome. Once there, we were shown a powerpoint presentation! The poor folks didn’t even have much of an idea of how to set up the projector! Somehow they managed to get the show started and some senior lady urged everyone to maintain decorum (expected lecture), after which she proceeded to explain something about the celestial event taking place.

She talked about Mars and oppositions and Mars’ retrograde motion. The retrograde motion has also been mentioned by Kalidas in one of his works and by Shakespeare in ‘As you like it’. Interesting facts, but nevertheless time consuming for someone eager to view Mars through the telescope. After the show we were asked to proceed to the lawns for the viewing of Mars. I literally jogged to the lawns to get a good position in queues (if any, though a thing *not* to be expected). When I reached there, the spectacle resembled that of an open air exhibition. Small crowds seemed to be sprouting everywhere, wherever feasible (something like the flash mob concept in US). I trudged to the circumference of a mob and with some difficulty could spot a woman as the centre of it all. Realising that it was a news channels crew and nothing to do with Mars, I tried my hand at several such mobs, before I finally spotted a telescope at the centre of one such mob.

Mars was clearly visible till then by the naked eye. The moment I reached somewhere near the telescope, the clouds descended on the skies and that was the end of everybody’s hopes. A collective sigh could be heard from the crowd (the ones interested in Mars. The ones interested in getting their face on TV were probably already swooning over the female presenters). Within minutes, the same senior lady turned up there, trying to calm the crowds and urging them to fall in queue. Before I knew it, she had actually pushed me in some kind of queue there. Far from the maddening crowd was what I wanted to be, but since I had gone all the way there, and spent all that time I decided to stick around *till* I saw Mars through the telescope.

One could prominently hear a lady in the queue shouting at everyone around her and questioning their right to be where they were. She made an interesting sight, especially since she was the only one shouting irritatingly, much to the amusement of everyone else. No one was reacting to her so far, but finally when she asked a young man to get away from the queue since she could not breathe, she got an interesting retaliation and an argument ensued.

Bitchy Lady: Get away from here, can’t you see that I have kids along with me and that they can’t even breathe because of you ppl standing here?
Young man: Why? Do you think that the air that you are breathing comes from this direction only?
BL: Just get lost. Get away from here.
YM: What’s your problem? We aren’t getting in the queue and we can stand anywhere we want.
BL: Such ill-mannered ppl! You won’t understand. When you get married and have kids, you’ll understand.
YM: Have you? (wonder whatever this meant, it could have several meanings, and one of them or maybe all of them surely pissed off the lady, beyond control)
BL: Get away or I’ll give you a tight slap.
YM: Oh really, just try to.
Somebody Intervening: Please stop it, please move away or a fight will start..

Now the lady cast her attention to all others around her and she spotted me. Suddenly she started questioning me, about since when had I been in the (so called) line. Before I knew it, all eyes were on me and not to forget all lights too, and all cameras too, just watching the action!! It was an amazing feeling, knowing that you might be on camera and having to fight it out for your position in the queue. I gave BL a straight look in the eye that meant ‘Don’t you dare mess with me’ and her husband started in a typical bhaisaaab drawl – ‘Sister, mein aapke haath jodtaa hoon, please line banaeeye’. I told him there’s no need to ‘Haath Jodo’. Had half a mind to tell him to just ‘tame the shrew’ and everything would be ‘as you like it’. Somehow the cameras had had their fill and went away. In the meantime, some ‘eminent’ people came with a group of photographers, just to pose and get their snaps clicked as they put their eye next to the telescope, with the crowd sniggering behind their back at the fact that they were doing this ‘exercise’ when Mars wasn’t visible.

The clouds still blocked everyone’s view. The crowds were urged by the ppl incharge to go home and come the next day. The crowds dispersed somewhat and BL and her family also left thankfully. Suddenly there was lightening and ppl started cheering as if there were some Martians about to land. Someone in the crowd, took a cue and started singing ‘Koi Mil Gaya’. That made the atmosphere a li’l lighter. In a couple of minutes, the clouds moved and now came the last leg of the long journey. The telescopes were focussed and I finally got a dekko at Mars through the telescope. The viewing was pretty disappointing as the magnification of Mars was very little. However I would like to imagine that I saw an intensely red planet with some dark spots on it. After all I did have a close encounter with it. 🙂