It was just another night, when the three of us, to satiate our taste buds, decided to gorge on Pani Puris. So, off we went down the road, to the pani puri bhaiya. It was the first time I was having pani puri from this particular vendor. After lots of trials and tribulations with road-side food, I had decided to go easy on pani puris, very much wary of the water they use. But it was one of those nights when your tummy takes absolute control over you and orders you around.
I still remember the time when I was first introduced to gol guppa- I was totally enticed. We were a bunch of chaat-novices
from Kerala who decided to ‘try it out’; novices because chaats are not part of our cuisine or culture. At the most, you have chaat vendors in some restaurants; road-side chaat vendors are a rarity.
Eating pani puris, if you ask me, is a rhythm in itself. In a circle, we- the eager to eat hogger’s stand; the maker- the pani puri bhaiya, puts one puri to the plate of the first person in the circle and when the puri is half-way from the first hogger’s hand to the mouth, the second person will get his puri and when the person immediately picks it up to eat, with lightening speed next puri goes to the next-in-circle’s plate. The mere rhythm of putting the puri in our plates and the pace in which the puri goes inside one’s mouth is what adds to the charm of gol guppa.
As usual, a crowd had thronged near him and after what seemed like ages, we got our much awaited pani puris. I was a little agitated as my pace of gorging one puri after the other had gone for a toss, thanks to the braces on my teeth. I cursed my fate for making me wear it now and slowing me down from eating, thereby losing the amazing gorging experience.
Once our stomachs called it the quits and the satiated smile started playing on our face, we started chit-chatting with bhaiya. After some pleasantries, I asked where he is from. His answer that he is from Gujarat, kind of shook me. I kept quiet for some time, wondering why would somebody come all the way from Gujarat to Mysore, sell pani puris and save up enough to go see his wife and kids once in a while. It beat the living logic inside me why he couldn’t have sold pani puris in Gujarat itself.
The curiosity getting the better out of me, I asked him, “Bhaiya, aap kaam karne ke liye, yahaa kyu aaye? Gujarat mein kyu nahin bechte pani puri?” His answer still reverberates in my ears.”Aap kyu apna ghar chodkar yahaa ayi madam? Kaam karne ke liye, hai na? Mein bhi yaha kaam karne aya hu.” My underlying tone of questioning him on the meagre profit he will make lest he sells here than Gujarat hit a sore chord on the dignity of labour.
There I was, falling into the typical thoughts of a middle class or the rich Indian’s profit-making judgemental thoughts; forgetting for a moment that there is no difference between the both of us. He may be making Rs.10 per plate and there is a mammoth amount of difference between what he earns and I earn. But at the end of the day, both he and I are working to make money in our own terms. The only difference between him and I is that he enjoys his work and I don’t which in turn makes me a slogging slave and him a dignified person.
The dignity that he upheld, the way in which he commits himself to his work and makes sure it caters to our taste, the candidness with which he answered my questions with a smile on his face- taught me a life lesson. Respect.
“I wish people would mind their own business”. Mike muttered these words in his mind for the umpteenth time. He wanted to let everything go. It did not sound so bad to him like other people are making it to be. But people will never let go of you when failure kisses you. They will not let you take it gracefully which Mike was sure he could do.
“The only way out is my babe”. He reminded himself. He went to her, ran his hands through her. She was always the same to him. She didn’t feel the need to pull herself away nor did she care for explanations. Maybe inanimate things are better than living humans. He knew he was being stupid. But he was sick and tired of people’s pity, those glances spelled anything but understanding.
He kicked his bike and the engine came to life. It never failed him. He knew he has embraced failures many times and he has learnt to accept that and move on with it. Why the people around him are so adamant as to pin it on him that he is desperate after the outcome, beat him. Maybe it is sadism from their part; or those pity showers that people love to give for a lack of better topic to discuss on with colleagues.
What hurt him most was that his best friend thought of him as a back stabber. After all they have been through this was something he could not fathom with. The very thought of his friend joining hands with the rest of the them showering pity and reaching conclusions which is far more than what is real killed him. He had nobody but himself to blame, not because he took the risk of fighting for something which was close to his heart even though failure was sure but because he thought his best friend would understand and stand by him. Instead, what he had not imagined in the remotest of his dreams happened.
He parked his bike by the chapel and went and sat on one of the benches. He let his mind be blank. Tears were glistening his eyes but he didn’t let it fall. He sat there for some hours and slowly got up. A determined look glistened his eyes this time.
I don’t know what is happening to me today. I feel good in a lonely way; feels like eluding everyone and hugging myself. I am even writing after a long time and decided to post it without reviewing, giving a damn as to what people are gonna judge about me. I am done being conscious of my surroundings to the extent of losing myself in the process… I am done being nice to people when they don’t deserve it. Some brand me heartless; I laugh at them and wish that they would identify the real them that hides behind the outer facade.
Don’t know why, but I woke up early which is so not me- snuggled under the blanket and thought about nothing, then some things and again back to nothingness. It is amazing- the way your mind can take you into realms you never knew existed inside you.
The weather is awesome. The coldness is piercing through my skin mercilessly and I am loving every bit of it. I do nothing to ward it off… I just let it crawl inside me. Maybe, this is a way of letting go of my inhibitions, fears and people.
I was watching Dhobi Ghat a little while ago. The two elements that the movie showcased, the endless seas and the incessant rain, flooded my mind with memories and of course, my twin sister- my thoughts .I find a connection between me and them- a bond so inexplicable right from childhood and grew so strong that they can give me the peace and sense of mind that makes me sane, connected to the world yet so disconnected from everything.But I know that however hard I try to express those thoughts or try to explain what memories can do to me, I will never be able to do so- those nostalgic memories and myriad sensible, nonsensical thoughts will always remain intact within me, safe and sound accentuating my favorite curve-my smile.
I know I make sense to some out there- very few who shares my thoughts and my wavelength. To the rest of you, this post might sound dark, cold and dull. And hell no, I am not going through any sort of depression. I am in fact happy and at peace with myself. I made such a distasteful maggi, that I realized you can even screw up in just two minutes. But I just smile and grins at life- bring it on!
Posted August 27, 2011on:
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“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”
These words of Elizabeth Lawrence piggyback me down the memory lane.
I was seven when I waddled into the garden and took my baby steps in this enchanted place called the library wherein I experienced my first love. Yes, I fell in love with the books. Next day I went to school and proudly flashed my membership card. But to my disappointment nobody shared my enthusiasm…half of them didn’t even know what it was in the first place. But the little me was ecstatic. Books became my window to the world and when everybody around me was playing with dolls, I curled into bed with an Enid Blyton book. The amazing world of books took me to places I have never been and maybe would never be able to go. It opened new windows for me…broadened my outlook…heightened my knowledge…made me happy, sad, cry, jump up with excitement and what not!
As I grew up, my ambitions kept on changing. At one point of time I wanted to be the next Kalpana Chawla and at other point I wanted to be a Barka Dutt. The former made me espouse Physics; the latter got me glued to NDTV. But destiny’s child that I am, she had other plans for me.
The voracious reader in me screamed out for literature after my plus two. But a lot of cajoling from my parents and teachers saw me losing my confidence. I decided to be the pragmatic one. A degree in engineering would be your free ticket to all the lucrative careers. And inevitably I fell into the country’s so-called engineers…those teeming crowd of zilch interest…another one in a billion!
One look at my college, I saw my heart sinking even deeper. Smiling faces were no longer in the picture, sulkiness loomed large…’aargh’ was my watchword! I did everything except trying to listen to lectures. First when I started using cuss words, I was horrified at myself. Later on it became habitual as everybody around me was also doing the same. Bunking classes was an idiosyncrasy I couldn’t do away with. Perfected the art of doodling…my notebooks were filled with my creativity than the geek stuff.
The four years went past me like a flash and I was the rudderless boat in this mighty ocean called life. At that point of time, I got recruited into a company called Software Paradigm International (SPI) which honestly, I had never heard of before. I decided to swim with the flow and came to the royal city,Mysore. The three months saw me getting trained in the technical side…not that I hated it, but I just didn’t feel it was my calling. Again destiny had other plans. I was able to switch to the business side and I fell in love again…this time, with the retail industry. The dynamicity and vivaciousness of the retail trends perked up my interest and got me going.
“The journey of thousand miles begins with a single step”
I took that step twenty-two years ago and I am still traveling.
In my odyssey of figuring out whether I am just a random girl in this teeming crowd of Homo sapiens, I figured out I am not. In fact, none of us are. I have had my share of the twins-the good and the bad and both of them have made an equal share in moulding me into what I am today. Now I can confidently say, “Yes, I have the rudder and I can very well row the boat in this ocean of life”
Ashleigh Brilliant aptly said,” My life has a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.”
Even I find the plot part all bleak. But if you ask me, what my ultimate aim in life is, when I finally have a rendezvous with God, He should say, “Hey, I didn’t do such a bad job creating this one.”
P.S: My icebreaker speech for Toastmasters.
As the first rays of the golden sun kissed her eyes she felt a bliss that she had never known. Renée was never a first light person. But on that day she was wide awake at 6 0’ clock in the morning… a day she felt ushered in some inexplicable joy that she just couldn’t place her fingers on
He called her then. She felt sad. She had to let him go. Been best friends for quite a long time now but he just couldn’t see her like that any more. On her part, she didn’t feel anything else. Infatuation, crushes and love were all feelings alien to her. His growing feelings were becoming more manifested day by day. She has told him umpteen times that she isn’t into it and to remain friends. But he just couldn’t take it that way. So she had to end the friendship that day. No other go. She had to do it for the best of them.
Suddenly the day didn’t seem so bright. All the smiles that she woke up with suddenly waned and were replaced with a sinking heart. But she knew she had to do it. Never a person to be spending more than five minutes before the mirror, that day she took extra pains to stand before the mirror to make her look bad. Messed up her already messed up hair, tied it into a loose pony tail, left the kaajal that she always adorned herself with and picked up her least favourite dress from her wardrobe. And she was ready.
“This is insane”, Renée reminded herself. She doesn’t need to do this. All that is required is to call him up and tell him that she is not ready to be committed to him. It would disappoint him but sooner or later, he would grow out of it. Of this, she was sure. But there was this voice inside her that kept on pushing her and for once she succumbed to it.
Rushing out of the tuition class, she hailed a cab and ran to Café Couch. She saw him as she crossed the road. For the first time in her life, she noticed that he is handsome. In his white tees, low-waist jeans and his hallmark white cap, he looked all macho! Cursing herself for thinking along these lines, she went near him and said a casual ‘hi’. The awkwardness in the air was so pronounced that she felt that this isn’t them.
Settling down in a not-so-comfortable couch as the guy behind the counter was eyeing at her in a not-so-good manner, she started on what she had rehearsed. But before she could complete a sentence, he took her hands in his. ‘Whoa!’…the feeling was nothing like she has felt before. She didn’t want to let go of that hands…warm big hands against her cold small hands. As he entwined his fingers around hers with a firm but gentle grip, she suddenly realized that she will never be able to let go of him.
Always a person to be thinking from her head and ignoring her heart, she proceeded on why they shouldn’t get together. She kept on going and he listened without protest but his eyes said it all. The honesty of what he felt mirrored in his eyes, the very eyes that she loved so much. She tried her best to ignore his eyes and her palpitating heart.
It was time to go. His face sported a wearied given-up look. Her heart melted to see him like this. She cursed herself for being callous. But her little grey cells kept on telling her she had to do it. He paid the bill. Suddenly, amazing herself and him, she blew a flying kiss at him and ran out smiling She couldn’t believe she did that. The romantic side of her bewildered her otherwise tomboyish self.
She saw him coming towards her, baffled but smiling, caught hold of her and gave a gentle kiss on her forehead. And at that moment, she knew that she has found her man…one person who could bring out the feminine side of her… who taught her the real world and made her strong…who made her realize who she is…respected, trusted and understood her more than anybody else.
Renée saw him as she traveled in the cab back home, sitting on the steps some distance away with a phone on his hand, talking and smiling away. She waved at him smiling. These smiles were those that defined their lives…those that brought about myriad memories to cherish lifelong