Just travelling by trains is an adventure in India. For a short span of time you are thrown along with people whom you would never meet in your normal environment and are subject to opinions and interests which are alien to your own friends circle.
This one time while we were on our way back from a brief holiday at home, we shared our 3rd AC compartment with a French couple. Another travelling companion an enthusiastic young Indian seated next to them began to converse with them regarding their tour of India and international politics.
In the middle of the conversation, the indian took a swing from his 1 Litre water bottle. To us indians the usual mode of drinking from the bottle – pouring the water from the bottle into the mouth, without putting ones lips to the rim of the bottle – was standard practice and didn’t raise any eyebrows. However the foreigners picked up on it and questioned the youth “Why do you drink in that manner, without touching the bottle to your mouth?”
The youth replied “I would need to share the water with others and drinking straight from the bottle would not allow me to share it.” The French couple was really stunned – they said such a thought never occurs to them. They always get their individual bottles!
Some time ago Bisleri launched “kiss and drink” bottles. 500ml bottles, with a “kiss” cap to drink straight from the bottle.
The idea behind the Bisleri teams campaign was, “We have taken cue from a basic consumer behaviour that we do not like to share water with someone who has touched the bottle to his/her mouth. The campaign takes into consideration this behaviour and asks the consumer to buy their own bottle and drink straight from the bottle (kiss)”.
They expected to drive a social change by getting the consumers to buy their own bottle to be able to “kiss and drink”. On the flip side they expected the consumers to not share their bottle of water. While they are correct in the assumption that we do not like to share bottles which have been drunk from straight, in a country that buys everything family size, and sharing is the first value any child learns, I wonder if they were way off the mark in their consumer analysis.
Considering that the “kiss” bottles are no longer available in stores, and the marketing campaign has died out I think it would be an accurate conclusion to arrive at.
My first time in Gujarat ! Official travel of course. I reach Ahmedabad and the sales team has a hectic three day client tour planned.
The tour starts off with pouring rain and consequent delayed bus travel to Rajkot. Second day pretty much goes the same way with a delayed train journey to Surat, and 8 inches of rain in Ahmedabad. Third day provides a diversion by way of a bus ramming into our vehicle on the way to Mehasa. Barring all travel problems the trip is a success; and despite the the airport drop cab arriving at the nick of time (causing considerable increase in blood pressure), due to the drop timing coinciding with the Ramzan namaz (Id prayers), I am able to board my flight home.
I ask for the emergency exit row and armed with my neck pillow and leopard print scarf am happily looking forward to a hour long sleep. The trick of sleeping on flights I have learnt is to doze off while take off. The dimmed lights and lack of announcements provide the best ambience to doze off, and once you’er in the dream zone its its easy to ignore the clatter during the flight.
I am all settled with the pillow and the scarf over my eyes and am just into a light snooze when the announcement starts-
“We will now begin our inflight service. We wish to provide you expedient service and in order to help us with the same we request you to kindly go through the menu and select the items you wish to order and keep the required change ready.”
I manage somewhat successfully to ignore the bi-lingual announcements and am back into my semi comatose state when the flight attendant’s voice booms over my head -
“What do you wish to order sir?” To the passenger seated next to me.
Passenger 1: “What do you have?”
Attendant: “The menu is in the seat pocket sir.”
Passenger 1: “Do you have the hot items? Dal chawal?
Attendant: “Yes sir”.
I hear some rustling which I construe as her preparing to heat up the meal.
Attendant to the passenger behind me: “What would you like to have sir?”
Passenger 2: “Do you have the hot meals?”
Attendant (With just an octave higher note): Yes sir what would you like to have?”
Passenger 2: “Do you have dal chawal?”
Sounds indicate her giving the meal to the passenger seated next to me.
Attendant: “Please open it only after 10 minutes.”
Gives packet to the passenger seated behind me: “Please open only after 10 mins.”
Attendant: “Do you have change sir?”
Passenger 2: “No”
By this time my semi-comatose state was fully and truly overridden by irritation and I wondered at the patience of the air hostesses who had to deal with this day in and day out.
What I had now was crystal clear knowledge that sleep was not a luxury I was going to have on that flight and all I could think was “Thank God it’s Friday”.
Indian Railways are a legacy of the British Rule in India and today besides being the core of Indian Public Transportation system, they are also the best means to view the beautiful landscapes of this vast country.
Over the monsoon water engorged Kaveri
Monsoon is the season of joy in India! It washes the dust of the summer away and brings new vitality to the country. A shot of the birds enjoying the splashing waves of Kaveri captures the enjoyable moments of a good monsoon!
Days go by in the continual boring routine of sleeping, waking, rushing to office, eating, sleeping, and so on and so on … days merge into weeks, weekends rush by and soon months just pass away without any perceptible difference.
But not today. Today there is an sms on my phone: “We lost her last week”
Today a flood of memories engulf me – of my first time away from home, in a new environment and new people, my first time away from a sheltered life – graduation college. My anchor in this whole new chaotic world – my new roommate. She was the elder of two sisters, her father worked overseas and HER anchor in this new chaotic world, her friend and confidante – her mother.
Her mother – this hardworking lady, who though brought up in a conventional traditional home wished more for her daughters; this lady who would fight with criticising family members to give her daughters the freedom and choices that she never had for herself; this lady who handled my tomboyish ways with indulgent reproach; this lady who let me into her home and played gracious host to a number of pj parties for our girls’ gang; this lady who meant the world to her daughters.
“We lost her last week.” said the sms.
The labours of daily living would soon force my mind to the mundane routine of everyday life, but not today.
Today I want to relive those precious gossip sessions and discussions that she presided over; Today I want to bow down to the staunch resolve she always had for doing right by her daughters; Today i want to rail against that dreaded word “Cancer” that broke her resolve.
Today, I just want to spend a few moments in isolation, in loving memory.