“What do you have?”

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.

Flight Companions

Flight Companions

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”.

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In Loving Memory

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.

 

Delicate

Sometime back the Weekly Photography Challenge was titled – Delicate. Coincidentally at that time I was in Trivandrum, Kerala – my in-laws place and a city I was visiting for the first time. And first time visit means a tour of the city, which began with the Napier Museum and Zoological gardens. Within the premises they also had a small hall exhibiting aquariums, which is where I saw the – made world famous by Pixar – clown fish, now mostly known as Nemo. What startled me the most was the size of the fish – it was hardly an inch in length. Somehow my relative size perspective from the movie and even photos on the internet, had me believe that the fish was atleast 7 – 8 inches long. The second thing that hit me was that this tiny fish defined the delicate balance of nature and provided the estimate of how despite the apparent infinite vastness of the oceans mankind has still managed to saturate it with pollutants, causing loss of habitat to even a creature as tiny as the clown fish. Looking at this minuscule being I was overwhelmed by gross selfishness of mankind in over-utilizing the resources of our planet and endangering the lives of even the smallest creatures that share this planet with us.

Clown Fish

Clown Fish

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Clown Fishes at the Napier Museum Aquarium

How can I leave out a picture of the "Blue Tang"

How can I leave out a picture of the “Blue Tang”

P.S. This post has been long due, however I got fresh incentive to write it after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno and his discussion of the overpopulation of Earth by humans and its catastrophic consequences.

My Love Affair

Manipal – a place which came under my radar only when by some random chance of fate I achieved a decent score in the CAT exam and on looking around realized that only a couple of colleges still had their application processes open, in which short list figured – TAPMI, Manipal.
Manipal popularly know for its ties with Sikkim and mistakenly assumed to be situated in Sikkim, actually lies in the heart of Udupi district – famous for its temples; and on my arrival there for the interview process I was attracted to the quaint place which though situated in agrarian Karnataka, had all amenities of a metro due to the large student population residing there. As luck would have it I got through the interview process and our course began plumb in the middle of the glorious monsoons that annually hit the coasts of India.
New acquaintances were made in the middle of fights with the management for better hostel accommodation, ragging from seniors and the deafening downpour of the monsoons in full spate. Within the cocoon of the college life I grew not only terms of academic knowledge but also in terms of worldly wisdom. Strong friendships were forged amidst the exhaustively cataclysmic course schedule and I learned how to work with groups of sometimes accommodating and sometimes not so accommodating people, learned that life wasn’t fair and that one had to take it in ones stride, learned that there were still people in this world with whom one could connect within minutes of initial interaction, and that no matter how much you despise a person everybody has something new to teach you. Despite the draining schedule or maybe because of it all of us appreciated the beauty of the place and exploring the pristine beaches and trips to the waterfalls nestled within the Western Ghats were always on top priority.
As we came close to the end of the two years course and looked forward to the ROI for the rough grind that we had gone through, the universe dealt us a tough blow – global recession. Placement scenario was bleak and while floundering in the sea uncertainty and hopelessness, Manipal came to my rescue again. I got recruited by the namesake organization – one interview and I was hired. Although I had spent two years in the place, I was yet to have any major interactions with the local populace. With this job I got from knowing Manipal as a cluster of tourist spots to knowing its people – their culture, their language. Barring their strong sense of community which wouldn’t allow easy entrance to outsiders, the people were charming. Their mild manners and lack of ambition hid behind it a superior intellect and strong family values.
Luck was shining on me – being a greenhorn and uncertain of the work culture, I found in my boss the best possible mentor. Although an outsider as far as the organization was concerned his people management skills enabled him to push through his ideas. With his guidance I learned the ropes of organizational management – the macro perspective as well as the mirco perspective, a combination I may not have achieved in any other organization or under any other boss. I was also blessed with colleagues who soon became close friends and partners in crime for bunking office to make quick trips to Goa, explore the verdant loveliness of the Western Ghats, catch the latest movie or catch up on the latest office gossips.
Due to the change in my marital status I moved to Mumbai – a change of location and a change of role, within the same organization. Within one month of being in the metro I was longing for the open skies and fresh air of Manipal, so much so that an official trip to Manipal had me jumping for joy! However, as with everything else, the passage of time and the increasing demands of my new role made me acclimatised to the conditions of the metro.

Now as I head towards the last few days in the organization I couldn’t resist making making a parting visit to Manipal. As the vehicle wound its way up from the town of Udupi to the hill that is Manipal many changes were visible. The process of urbanization was catching up with this town – roads had been widened at the expense of huge shady trees, quaint terracotta tiled houses were replaced with multi-storied buildings, even the temples were showing ambitious construction plans. However, the view of the sky was still untouched by sky scrapers, the people still talked with gentle politeness, they still worked with that mild mellow manner so typical of the Udupi region, the view of Udupi from the hill was still spectacular; and as the countdown begins to end my romantic tryst with the place and the organization, I can’t help but think …
“I hate to go and leave this pretty sight, I leave and heave A sigh and say goodbye”

Keeper of the Keys

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“Keeper of the Keys” is a title which has been figuring very commonly in the field of popular entertainment. In the Matrix the title holder was THE most important character around which the whole movie revolved. In Harry Potter he’s the most trusted and loyal half-giant, who has his heart in the right place but is towards the lower scale intellect wise. I’ve also been forced to take up this title recently, and my attitude towards it is similar to a cross to be borne. KoK is an indispensable position and being indispensable means moving up the ladder or increasing one’s scope of work is not for you.