Monthly Archives: September 2004

No mean feat, this

The hot sun was making them perspire even more. Anguish was writ large on their faces. The shrill sounds of cars honking, was getting too much. They all had one thought in their mind “Will they be able to do it?”. It had been quite a while waiting for their turn, which was continuously evading them. They had to wait for the precise moment. Anything here or there could result in failure.. catastrohpic at that. At times they looked at the opposite side and both sides realised that the situation was same there too. Then came the moment. Without a warning. All the factors were still as bad as ever. The hot sun. The anguish. The cars honking. But somehow both sides seemed to have reached a perfect synchronisation without even looking at the faces on the other side. Both of them had suddenly decided to move on, use their skills finally. Show the world that they could do it and the world will just have to stop and wait. A huge mass of people crossed from their side to the opposite side. Finally they had achieved what they wanted to. It was no mean feat this! Crossing a busy unmanned road in Delhi.

The toilet experience 1

My trip to Japan last year was a very interesting experience. Not just because it was the first time I was flying to another country but also because of the cultural differences. No one needs to be told that Japan is *the* place when it comes to technological advancement and optimisation of space. The place is very beautiful, clean, unpolluted, safe and the people very helpful. I had planned to make a separate blog for my Japan sojourn but that never really materialised. I wrote a couple of posts earlier, but that was about it. There are a lot of things about Japan, that would strike one in the first go. And then, some not quite so obvious.

One of the aspects – the technological advancement could be seen even in the way the toilets were. Once I went to an italian place and the loos were really hi-tech! The toilet seat had an arm kinda thingy attached to it and there were lotsa buttons nearby. I suppose they were probably to splash water on your butt from different angles :-). All I could do was guess, because the controls were written in Japanese. The buttons looked quite tempting in different colours, but since I didn’t want any fiascos happening in a strange place where I wouldn’t even be able to communicate what happened, I refrained. I must mention that the toilet seat was pre-warmed (and no it was not because someone had toasted it with their butt) which was a relief in those unbearable cold snowy winters! The controls and all made the “hot-seat” appear as if it was some space ship cockpit or something :).

Once we went to this place called Roppongi and went to a thai restaurant there, called Irewan. It was on the 13th floor of a building. The night lights view was too good.. and these ppl had some weird loos! They were one step ahead of the previous ones. They didn’t have so many gadgets and all.. in fact they were more “natural” coz they were practically open! I mean one side of the four walls was a glass pane from where one could see the cool breathtaking view outside (from the 13th floor) and the world could see you too! It also had a lot of potted plants right next to the WC. Then it struck me that such an advanced place would obviously not be so reckless in their planning, though one could never be sure because they certainly aren’t as conservative as Indians. I concluded that the glass was only one way and not really see-through as I imagined. I felt quite odd, but had no choice but to answer nature’s call there, trying to hide behind the foliage.

Most of the public loos there are equipped with sensors in all kind of places. If not sensors then the least expected lever would be designated for performing the flushing action. Every time I went outside, I saw new and different “technologies”. So much so, that by default, I would start expecting some weird gadgetry in each new place I visited. There was this loo in a metro station where I could just not find a hotspot for a sensor or any lever which would actually perform the flushing action. Another thing I had noticed was that it kept flushing automatically even when no one was inside. I tried imagining that may be that was the technique here but then that would be quite ineffective. The toilet would never end up clean when required and would keep wasting water when not needed. So at this particular place, I kept waving my hand at whatever remotely resembled a sensor and kept pressing everything that remotely resembled a lever. But to no avail. It didn’t work. Sheepishly, I had to make an exit because there was a long queue waiting. And as I opened the door Lo! behold! The thing flushed automatically. In fact the same had happened when I entered. But I must say again, quite a weird logic. Well, all’s well that flushes well :).

The awakening 2

Some of the things that most of us would remember would be something of an extreme emotion.. something which made us really happy, or something which sent us hurtling to the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Such a thing is waking up. If all our wishes were granted, one would wish to be woken up to a breakfast-in-bed service. Of course after having slept off the early morning hours. Preferably next to a hunk or a goddess. In a bed made of fluff or something.. basically in surroundings which tantamount to heaven. But this is not about such pleasures in life. This is about rude awakenings. Some of the most rude awakenings that I have etched in my mind.

One such stirring up to life happened when I was travelling back from Bangalore to Delhi in the Karnataka express a good 6 years back. For some reason (to cut a long story short), I had to appear for SSB (Service selection board) (Yeah I know this makes a separate post, now why would I want to go for SSB) in bangalore which had been arranged in a rather hurried manner. Most of us girls didnt have reservations. So all we could do was, take a second class ticket and hop onto the train. Yours truly was prepared for the worst and having faced such situs earlier, was equipped with a proper sleeping bag and stuff to basically stretch oneself on the bogie floor for one night. One of my friends had a reserved berth and I was tagging along with her.. so as to rightfully claim the floor in her coupe as my own :P. In spite of trying to avoid sleeping altogether (given the conditions), there came a point in the night, when we could just not utter another word and would have rather collapsed. I decided it was high time I caught up on my sleep. While going to bangalore also I had stayed up instead of sleeping although the sleeping bag had at least given us the freedom to sit on the bogie floor without squirming. This time I decided to sleep with all the luggage, shoes, stench, snores and all. There was a family in 2 of the other berths. A family because they had a small kid with them who would screech at all inappropriate times and generally behave irritatingly. Thankfully the kid was also sound asleep. The night quickly rattled by and the morning came. Sounds were embedded in my subconscious as I could make out a lot of activity around me. But I decided to stretch on for a little while more. After all where would I have sat anyway. My consciousness drifted along with the train and I dreamt of a lady screaming at a child.. me in the dream. The screams just kept getting louder and louder and shriller in intensity. I could just not react. Sometimes in your dreams you are totally incapacitated to do what you would really do in real life.

And suddenly that female slapped me HARD right across my face. I was totally stunned. Suddenly I woke up because the pain was too much. Something had actually hit me hard right on my nose bone. Having zapped back to reality in a second, I realised what it was. It was my own milton water bottle which was hanging right over my head and had fallen with precision on the bridge of my nose. The lady (now in reality) was apologising profusely and tried to massage my nose hurriedly. I managed to push her away just in time otherwise she would have ended up hurting me more. It seems the pesky kid had mistaken himself for tarzan and was going on jumping from one top berth to another. In his frenzy he probably forgot that my water bottle was not jungle foliage or something to glide across on. Till date I shudder at the thought of that rude awakening.

The other one happened more recently.. well not even a month back. I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor in a new house because of the lack of furniture. The house happens to be on ground floor and it was the monsoon season. The previous night I had thrown out a frog from the house assuming it would never be able to get across the small gap under the doors. Again, I could not sleep much because of sudden new surroundings (happens with me) most of the night. Also the fact that there could be a frog lurking nearby was there in the back of my mind. I could only sleep in the pre-dawn hours. But lady luck had run out on me again. I woke up with a start to something that had jumped on my face. Even in my deep slumber I didn’t even have to think about what it could be. Even before my eyes opened, I knew it. Yes, no points for guessing that a frog had jumped on my face. Yeah, may be it was hoping to transform into a prince. But I can only thank lady luck for whatever little courtesy she had shown me. At least the froggie didnt land right on my lips.. bleah.. I got up immediately. Had I been supersitious I would have probably made a fullfledged hulla because of the first thing I saw after waking up – a frog scared out of its wits probably more than I was. At least I had this in the back of my mind all night, but that creature would have just not understood how this rock it jumped on, simply animated into life. After having kicked it out of the house, (it was only too grateful to be let out), I slammed my way into the bathroom and washed and scrubbed my face till I was sure that more scrubbing would only end up scrubbing off my epidermis.

So much for the start of a bright new morning.

That’s the way it is 1

“I Love You”, he said with all the courage he could muster, his heart pounding so loud that he imagined his words to be lost in the thumping sound.

“What????!!!!”, she said. Her reaction wasn’t quite unexpected.

“I am not expecting anything in return…I just wanted to let you know of my feelings.”, he blurted.

“Forget expecting or not expecting you even *know* what you just said? How can you even *say* that to me!!! Just how long has it been since you have known me?”, she asked.

“Errr.. not even a month”.


“Do you even *know* what love is?”, she asked rhetorically.

“Have *you* experienced it?”, he volleyed.

“What do you think I am talking abt then?”. His sinking feeling sank even further. He knew he couldn’t expect her to love back. He knew that she was never to be his. But for her to have loved and been loved by someone else was more painful than he had imagined.

“Well, I think of you all the time. You are on my mind whatever I may try to think of and I can just not let you out of my system, however hard I have tried.”.

“Oh! So that’s what you think love is? That’s called infatuation for your kind information. Go take a vacation for a month and let see if you still remember me when you come back”.

“No, it’s NOT infatuation”, he vehemently added..steaming up a little. “I know that it *is* love. And it is unconditional even if it is unrequited”.

“If I could, I would have married you”, he added.

“Whaaaaat??????!!!!!!”. Her reaction was again not unexpected at all.

“Marriage? My GOD! You have really gone far in this imaginary world of yours.. haven’t you?”

“Well to tell you the truth.. I even thought about the kids…”, he added sheepishly as he saw her almost choke and her eyes pop out in reaction.

“Gosh!! Please stop it! I have had more than the-number-of-shocks-I-can-take-in-a-day”, she spluttered.

And they both laughed. It had lightened the obvious tension a little.

“But seriously.. what’s wrong with you? Have you forgotten that I am at least two years elder to you?”, she came back to the point soon. “What is this that you have suddenly started. Ok, the joke was funny.. now can we get back to work. This has been one hell of a tea break!”

“The age difference doesn’t matter to me.”, he justified. “I know what love is. It is *me* who has been experiencing it so strongly. I can do anything for you. You can try me. Go ahead”, he added.

“Oh please! Stop being filmy and all that. What you feel is simply infatuation. Mark my words. Grow up. And to reiterate, had you really been in “love”, you wouldn’t have made these silly claims of doing *anything* etc.”. She was beginning to lose her patience. Seeing his pained expression she added hurriedly, “Look.. ok.. I know how it feels.. I have been through it’s not as helpless as you seem to think.. not being able to think of anything else except me.. believe me I am not half as nice as what you are imagining me to be. You are looking at me through rose tinted glasses. Wake up to reality and it won’t be so difficult any more. That’s the way it is.”

“Well, to me you seem as nice as what I think. Anyway I am not forcing myself on you or anything. Just wanted to express myself and I did”.


“Why are you smiling to yourself?”, she heard her husband asking. It broke her reverie and she tried to disguise the startle as her own movement.

“Oh…err.. nothing.. just that someone looked familiar…”, her voice trailed off as she saw that guy from her yesteryears going with a lady, a possessive arm around her and a sprightly looking kid prancing around them.

Vande Mataram 1

Heard it after ages on AIR. Not the AR Rehman pop version but the old world, slow and gentle version that we used to sing in the school assembly. In fact Rehman’s version is not really the Vande mataram that I am talking about. It’s interesting to note how the same lyrics, set in a different backdrop of melody evoke different feelings. The Rehman version is pop patriotism, more josh than the older one, asserts our patriotism with gusto. The old one is sober, and puts me at ease, calms me down. It’s more about cherishing what you have instead of asserting it. May be because I associate it with that security that childhood provides. It also reminds me of waking up to the strains of the sarod in the early hours of morning, coming from the radio, which my mom would be listening to as she went around rushing to get us ready for school.
There’s a third version too, which belongs to some black and white movie. This one also has josh but of a different kind. More to do with anger, revolution and “get out of our country” feelings. This one’s not often heard.

I remember thinking when I was a kid, that the wordings (if not the exact ones then some derivatives) of Vande Mataram provide a good means of traditional, unique sounding names to eager parents waiting to name their babies. Shubhra, Jyotsana, Pulkit, Yamini, Phull Kusumit, Drumudul, Shobhini, Suhasini, Sumadhur bhashini..Shasya Shyamalam..

So many names!