Friday, August 26, 2005

My Racing Incident

A winding road about 20 km long - Flanked by Sea on one side, hills on the other - A lonely car speeding along. For NFS (a car racing game) lovers, this will be a dream come true. That is Vizag’s Beach Road for you. My childhood was filled with drives along this beach road. We had the most rickety yet trusted of cars – The Ambassador, at that time. But the fun was never missing.

A few snaps of the place...see the road between the sea & the hills..

turning towards right...

Anyway the point of the post was to share an experience. So we now have a Palio Petrol. It’s a great car! Esp. for unfortunate souls like us the transition from Amby to Palio was overwhelming. Before I continue further, let me tell you that I have no racing experience, apart from the hundreds of hours spent on NFS 2, NFS 3, NFS 5 & NFS 7.

So here I was cruising along the beach road listening to Rabbi Shergills “Gill Te Guitar” when a slow moving Tata Indica in front of me catches my attention. “OK lets overtake him”, I think. That was not to be so easy! The moment I try, a Hyundai Santro coming from opposite direction appears in front from the hidden turn quite ahead. The overtaking still would not have been a problem, if this Indica guy had not increased his speed. I looked at him – the guy had a satisfied smile on his face. To be safe, I braked hard & fell back. The annoying smirk of the Indica guy was still in my mind. And he was still in front of me driving as slow as ever. This guy derived pleasure by driving slow & not allowing others to go ahead. Overtaking him was a problem has the road was narrow & full of turns*.

I could not control the emotions. My blood was boiling. I decided to teach this fool a lesson. Now I know the beach road very well – aakhir hum yahi to palle badhe hain. I know the straight patch of road that will come about 500 mts ahead will be the ideal place to overtake. I know that the acceleration of his Diesel Indica will be no match for my Petrol Palio. I try some more half hearted, fake attempts to overtake, giving this guy the smugness that he is actually very good at this. By this time my straight patch of road is here. Luckily there wasn’t anyone coming from the opposite direction. Now I let the 2nd gear of my Palio do the talking. Our heads bang back to the seats & off we go. He tries speeding; he tries cutting me out by suddenly moving towards right. But by that time we’ve already crossed him. Satisfaction! And I feel like I’m playing NFS 5.

And check this snap we took in the same trip…Feels like NFS 7 doesn’t it.

PS: sorry for the bad quality snaps. its the best my poor camera phone could do..

* On narrow hill roads, overtaking should be done only when the road is straight as any car coming from opposite direction would not be visible when the road is winding.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The long journey back to work....

Vizag is not a popular place with transportation service providers. There are rarely any flights to Vizag. There is only one direct train between Vizag & Mumbai. The flight between Vizag to Mumbai costs as much as 9K while flights with sub 1K fares operate between Delhi & Mumbai. Net result- I come back by train & do not have reserved ticket even though the booking was made more than one month earlier. So RAC is the way to go. This means I have to share a single berth with another person. The train was filled with people like me going back to work after their enjoying their time at home.

The train was naturally overcrowded. There was one marriage party that had decided to load their entire luggage in our bogie in spite of having reservations in the whole train. There were at least two people taking their whole computers (including monitor) with them. People were fighting over place for luggage. So the confusion was immense. Added to this was my situation of not having a reserved ticket.

It’s surprising how people behave in crisis. I was surprised too at how people around me & I myself behaved in this situation. There was somehow a general feeling of camaraderie & helpfulness all around the place. The luggage of the marriage party soon trickled away in the various locations of the train. Some of the RAC got allocated to confirmed berths. Even the luggage fights were resolved & the fighting parties became cordial to each other. Everything got resolved in its own time.

The people I met were mostly bachelors returning to Mumbai from a visit back home in Vizag. The first person I met was working in an IT company in Pune doing mainframe projects in financial domain. The details of my talk with him will be too long to post here but involved topics like work, life in general, real estate, girls, bikes, roads – some boring stuff, some interesting. Another guy (my seatmate) was also in an IT company but was working on embedded systems. For those who are not into IT, these are the people who make software that control stuff like lifts, modern automobiles, audio-video systems & all such things not related to ‘normal’ computers. This particular person was working on next generation heavy diesel engines. My general interest in automobiles made this discussion very interesting. I can go on & on about this discussion but again it will become very long & boring. There was an elderly couple, two other persons who also looked like they were going back to work. By this time I was feeling too sleepy …so it was sleep time.

In the morning I had some time on my own by the window. Whenever I go on a train journey – I never miss this part. I always make it a point to spend some time alone by the window or if that is not possible by the open door. This is a habit from my childhood days. This way I get to know that a major portion India is still occupied by farms & forests. It’s a refreshing change from stifling atmosphere of the city. I let the wind blow on me. And every now & then, I go wash my hands & face, & without drying them go back & let it dry naturally by the wind. It’s so refreshing. You have to try it sometime.

By this time the TC came & allocated a complete berth to me in a different location. I didn’t want to leave this place & the people I’d met. The new place looked more comfortable but was less hospitable. I signals I got from people there were – “You are an intruder in our place” “You mind your own business” “Don’t try to make me talk to you”. This was more like the regular experience I have on the train in a more normal setting. I suspect this is because of my looks. I am a fairly tall guy & look North Indian even though I’ve lived most of my lives in South India. But times are changing now. With the merging of various cultures, I am not so unique anymore. People have much lesser inhibitions talking to me now. The the niche quality that I had earlier is soon getting lost. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not.

This post has become way too big & has totally digressed from the original track. It is time to end now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What is love to me?

Music: Jal - Ik Din Ayega, Jal - Bikhra Hoon Main, Strings - Na Jaane Kyon

I am a very lucky person. I am loved.

Mummy: Mothers.......I don't know what makes them so caring, so forgiving of our mistakes, so much devoted to making us happy.... I simply cannot figure this thing out. Being the male of the species, I guess I will never be able to. Can anyone ever love me as much as this woman? Everything she does, everytime she talks, everytime she looks at me, everytime she calls me "ganda baccha", the love shows....rather it overflows. It seems like all the love in the world has been filled in her small frame of 5'3".

Papa: In total contrast to Mummy, Papa rarely shows what he feels inside. As cool as he can be, it may look like he doesn't care about me. His love is a more reserved one. It is locked up somewhere deep inside when he is talking to me. But just listen him talk to any of his friends about me - the pride!! Whatever little or more I've achieved in life, Papa is proud of it. His love also manifests in the form of things he does for me. These are things that any father would do, wouldn't he? Aren't these the duty of parents? To raise their kids & make them able. Yes...& on the face of it, even he believes he does them as a duty. But no.....that is not what drives those actions. These are not mechanical actions. Anything he does for me looks like something motivated by a force much stronger - an emotion. So why does he not show the love directly? Whatever it is, I will find out when I am a father.

Sis: Oh this girl. I can't start writing about her.

Stage 1 - Oh Mummy has a baby. I have a new play thing.

Stage 2 - The great battles are on. From the chocolate to the TV remote. We are fighting it out for everything.

Stage 3 - Sis: "My brother is the best" Me: "Uhh!"

Stage 4 - Sis: "My brother is the best" Me: "OK, She really does love me"

Stage 5 - Sis: "My brother is the best" Me: "Hey, Say something else"

I could never judge the level of love this girl has for me. I never experienced the full throttled show of emotion from her. Her actions are always subdued, knowing that I may get annoyed if she shows her total love. But the question here is - What is the root of all this love? It is understandable about my parents (God has created them like that, so that they take care of me), but why my Sis? Its not as if I have been a little less relentless during the battle years, neither have I gone ahead to show my love anytime I felt like it. What have I done to deserve this love?....... nothing.....maybe thats the key......isn't it?.....isn't that unconditional love......maybe I'm being too idelistic about all this.....maybe not.

Myself: A phrase that could most aptly describe the kind of person I feel I am - "Emotionally subdued". I love less, I hate less, I fear less, I like less - it is as if all my emotions are weak & feeble. Do I love my family? I think I do. Do I know for sure it is love that I feel for them? I'm not sure.

So what do I feel when I experience all this love that I am being showered with. I feel I am a bad person.....the guilty feeling of not being able to reciprocate their love envelops me. And there is nothing I can do about it. Because how much ever I try, my pathetic attempts can never match the grand, large hearted unconditional love I recieve....

And what about the question we began with....What is love to me?

The answer to this question remains unanswered....

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bye Bye Mumbai... only for a while

I am going to Vizag for the next week……………yahoooo!!

A busy schedule awaits me there. Marriages of two engg college friends, Rakhi, my sisters birthday. Because of the extended weekend, courtesy our beloved independence day, many of my long lost friends have also taken leaves & will be there. I only hope we can relive the old days & not delve on mature (bade logo ki baatein) things like jobs, weddings etc.

I really do miss the long hours spent on the beach. I’m not saying that Mumbai’s beaches are in any way inferior. But being in Mumbai, where is the time? Its either work or party or shopping. Traveling is another aspect of the Mumbai life that takes up most of the useful time anyway. While it takes about half an hour to to any place of importance in Vizag, in Mumbai it will take at least 2 hrs.

Ok got to go now… otherwise will miss the train….

Friday, August 05, 2005

Of Sound & Bites

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of flies. These are the ordinary houseflies. They are there everywhere you go. In the office bus, in the canteen, in the office itself. How much ever do the poor cleaning guys try, these irritating creatures always find a way inside. After the recent spate of heavy rains, while the flies have reduced, the mosquito population has suddenly mushroomed.

These insects have brought back memories of those golden years spent in Lucknow. The place where I used to live is as close to nature as can be. I used to live in Hostel 12, which resides in one corner of the institute. There is no building of any consequence beyond my hostel. My balcony used to overlook this huge grassland that extended up to the horizon. Being natural habitat for all sorts of insects, the grasslands used to be home to many wild & exotic specimens. No flies & mosquitoes though. This place was home to more rarer species. Insects came in all shapes and sizes. Of course to really get to know the variety of these insects one had to venture in the grasslands. However, few of them did venture into the protected confines of our hostel. Two of these insects will find special mention here owing to the highest pain quotient among all the insects.

Jhingur: This fellow is a ordinary looking bug. Its like a cockroach with only one colour- Muddy brown. These guys are most inconspicuous of creatures…..wait....only when they are quite. Ohhh but when they sing!!! God only can help you then. The shrill sound of a Jhingur is that sound that you generally hear in those rainy nights outside your home. Imagine two or more of these right inside your room. What a celebration would that be? Once this guy starts its sound, then you are completely helpless like mumbaikars were on that tuesday. The strange part is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot locate the source of sound. This particular sound comes from all parts of the room. A natural THREEDEE surround sound effect much better than any of those super customized Bose speaker systems you would ever hear. So what do you think is the solution from this nagging head curdling sound. Nothing! As they say, when you can’t beat them, run from them(OK I changed it a bit). So all I did was escape out, do something else. Do anything but stay inside there.

Unnamed Ant like insect: Lets call this insect Antike (combination of Ant & Like). Now, antike must be some wild form of our regular domesticated city ant. This is a bit long and more colourful. I suspect this fellow also has flying abilities though they would be limited. So what would you think is so painful about this specimen? Yeah, you guessed it right – it’s the sting. When an antike decides to sting, it just doesn’t sting once, but as many times as it can. Generally the stings go along a path- the second sting near the first, the third near the second and so on. Another peculiar thing about the sting is that somehow you do not detect the sting immediately. The pain starts only sometime after antike has finished its job & made a safe retreat. By the time you realize, your skin starts swelling. The swelling of course lasts for a week or two depending on the intensity of the sting.

So here were the two most pain giving & consequently most memorable insects from my stay in Lucknow. The antike was the most prolific among the stingers. The jhingur however wins hands down. After all if an insect can throw you out of your own room, it must be something staggering.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Back with a flood

I had to do this. I had to stop blogging for a some days. There is nothing new in life. No account to describe, no ideas in my mind. Added to this I have become really busy these days. And I don’t want my blog just to be an account of my daily routine, which has become super monotonous. I operate like a machine operating with micro second accuracy. But all that is a different story.

Like everyone in Mumbai, I too have a tale to tell about that incredible flood. After all the exciting stories you would have heard or read, this is nothing spectacular. So let me be short.

It all started at 4:00 pm on that fateful Tuesday – 26.07.05. The office buses were to leave early – thought I’d get home soon. That was not to be. After waiting for more than 2 hrs in the super downpour & running frantically in almost waist high water (new shoes – destroyed, old Motorola – alive), I had to return back to office. The realization that this was ‘something big’ came rudely quick. I prepared to camp here for the night. Thankfully the canteen people were helpful & gave us some much-needed Dal Rice. You cannot imagine how well it tasted. I slept at my desk for the night. We left in the morning by one of the company buses. I saw some places filled with water but again nothing spectacular. Got home, slept a lot & went back to office the next day. Everything was back to normal from then on.