Train.Me.Girl

The gripping chill of Mid-December Lonavla was searing through the dark black winter jacket that I was wearing. That, coupled with the woollen strip that was covering my ears and a part of the forehead, perhaps would have made me a perfect mannequin for a woollen garment shop. Breaking my stylishly aimless imaginary smokes of draughts of fogged air, the Sinhagad Express from Pune to Mumbai, suddenly charged into view from the endless mist. Causing a pandemonium on the platform was the first effect it had, simply due to lack of any signboards for coach numbers on the platform. Flurrying into activity, people frantically ran towards their coaches.

Reserved as my seat was, I strolled leisurely towards my coach and to the designated seat number. Quite unsurprisingly for Indian Railway travellers, D1 – 97 was already occupied. Even as the man sitting there drew my attention to his missus sitting across on D1 108, I quickly exchanged places with her. (Merry are the ways of the reservation allotment system!!!!)

In spite of having absolutely zero knowledge of great sciences like astrology and astronomy, perhaps every one of us has a fair inkling about his/her own Naseeb – or destiny as one may call it. Which I too have – and an event which just simply did not fit into my normal way of life had happened within seconds of my boarding the train. D1 108 being the window seat, I was left to complete another 2.5 hours of my journey surrounded by young girls!!!!!! Three sitting in the front of me and one just beside. Wait, did I just say 4?

My bad totally! Three girls and One….. Oh My God! The girl sitting just opposite to me in the window was a rare combination of Mere Samne wali khidki ka Chand Ka tukda and The Goddess of Cuteness moulded into one single being!!! The Blue sweater pulled tightly across her body was making her look gorgeous, the arms of which were pulled right over the palms to shield against the cold – even cuter! In spite of all this beautiful drapery, she was also wearing a maroon coloured woollen cap over her head – this was simply taking the entire masterpiece to the level of ‘cuteness overload!’

Needless to say – I was reading a book (which is quite customary for me while train travel) and given the usual speed at which I devour books normally – I am myself surprised at the number of actual pages I actually read in the next one and a half hour – twenty! As the Western Ghats eased themselves into the plains of Karjat down below and the temperature in the surroundings climbed a few steps, she (all of a sudden) removed the head-cap. What a sight it was! Silken dark brown hair falling aimlessly over her shoulders glistening in the rays of the now rising sun! The level now had just escalated to ‘Sublime beauty!’

A friend of hers even mockingly commented that her hair had become a chaotic mess!!

“My dear,” (My mind seemed to say to her friend) – “I am looking at the chaos but the order has settled here in the heart!” Saying it openly though would have caused a disaster!

Trees, hillocks and the few not so important stations were falling behind even as I was avoiding looking too much at her. However, destiny had something else in mind! Opportunity fell my way when the same friend, peering into the station which had passed just now couldn’t simply get its name.

“Ambernath it is!” I quickly retorted to the friend’s expectant eyes that looked at me. Both her friend and she gave me a subtle smile. The discussion that ensued between the group now, gave me a hint as to the question which was troubling them all! Where to actually get down? Grabbing another opportunity, I quickly informed them that the train – though not officially announced, still had a halt at Thane!! No need to go all the way to Dadar! (The look of relief on their faces!!!)

Kalyan station (the halt before Thane) was nothing else, but a horde of people gushing into the already crowded coach! Even to the level of creating a nuisance to the already seated people. My subject matter naturally had a bit of tension gearing up on her forehead even as they started pulling their bags and gear from the racks above. Along with that came my part of the small worldly contribution to the damsels in distress – helping them unload their luggage….

Soon Thane drew near and all of the four damsels got up finally, to leave me in distress for the rest of my journey! The others were obviously not much into me and quickly picked up their bags and moved towards the door as the train slowly came to a halt. But this little being, just before moving towards the door, made it a point to flash me quick smile and muttered a gentle ‘Thanks!’

This ‘thanks’, mind you was enough for me for the rest of the half hour that was left of the journey and whatever else that was left of my heart for the whole day which lay in front of me ahead…..

Even as she left – to be not seen forever again and the train gathered speed, I was simply left with a sense of utmost satisfaction and yet two bickering thoughts –

My mind simply asked…

  1. What If – Bollywood was truer? And
  2. What if – Blogs were reality?

Girl

Advertisements

Book series review – Vikramaditya Veergatha

Intricate, delicately carved, enthralling, utterly unputdownable, scintillating, gripping….

Love, hatred, jealousy, fear, pride, dedication, friendship, love, revenge and what not…

Many more adjectives and nouns put together won’t suffice me describing about how much this series of books by Shatrujeet Nath have mesmerized me and literally affected me a lot….

Yes, I am talking about the bestseller series called – Vikramaditya Veergatha by Shatrujeet Nath. A series of four books, or must I say – three wonderfully created books to begin with (the fourth is yet to come).

To start with, as the name suggests – it is wonderful tale about Samrat Vikramaditya who ruled over historical India – then known as Sindhuvarta. He, along with his trusted council of nine; who in themselves are generously gifted individuals are tasked with safeguarding an ancient and dreadful weapon with dire consequences if it fell into the wrong hands. And as fate would have it, the King and his council are faced with an extremely enormous challenge – the Devas and Asuras determined to in their ruthless pursuit to wrench out the weapon from the safe custody of the king, and the danger of a newly brewing conspiracy among the forces in the frontiers of Sindhuvarta which have the power to entirely ruin its future. The Fate of the kingdoms of Avanti and its allies spread out across Sindhuvarta lies in the hands of the Samrat….

The entire books is awesome in all respects – it has a neatly studied geography of ancient India – in fact it takes you traversing right from the present day North East to far west beyond the Arbuda Ranges, from the ancient kingdoms of Magadha in the north to the Dandaka forests in the south…. It takes you on a journey of savouring the Indian history and mythological genius as the characters and their special skills come forward…..

As a child, I was fortunate to get my hands on the Vikram Betaal stories that father used to tell. I had even read about Kalidasa reciting cryptic Sanskrit poetry in the courts of Raja Bhoj in present day Madhya Pradesh…. And then when I picked up these books from Amazon one fine morning… The beauty of the tale gripped me….made me relate to characters I knew about. I was entirely fascinated….

It is difficult to present differently, characters that people have in their minds – and the author has definitely done a wonderful job of it. The characters feel to be sitting and acting around us – their joys and sorrows brew into the readers’ hearts and the story leaves you sitting back and ruminating about the different intertwined events that present themselves to you in this series of books.

Please do grab all the three books and read them. You would not be disappointed for sure. May it be The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru and The Vengeance of Indra in that order.

A fact worth mentioning is what the author says in the author’s note – and it has long since become my favourite sentence – the fourth book would be called ‘The Wrath of the Hellfires.’

I would not kindle your interests more though… Telling anything more would only make you want more of the books… The child in me still would ask the author one single question– The release date of the fourth book please….. and an urge to bring it out fast… the readers simply cannot wait any longer. Even as I completed the third book yesterday night, it made me cry thinking that there would be sometime, before I would lay my hands on the fourth… Hoping for it to come soon…

PS –

Aha! And to know exactly what hellfires are? Well, you know what to do…..

BeFunky Collage

…and the Sea

Even as she started applying the last of the formulae to the complex excel sheet that glowed in front of her eyes, a bitter pang of memory gripped her. Reluctantly, and in spite of the pending working that appeared on the screen. Ignoring her colleagues who were similarly sprawled out across the ten chairs that had somehow fitted into that conference room that evening, she made her way towards the pantry area.

 The Air conditioner on the floor had already eaten away whatever feeble attempts at generation of warmth made by her body. Almost clumsily, and as if in a trance, she started across diagonally towards the other side of the room. The Pantry was just another of those AC affected rooms in that office. She filled up a warm mug of tea from the vending machine. One wall of the pantry overlooked the seashore that spread below. She stood by the frosty looking glass, with all its blinds drawn upwards for the evening.

It was gently raining outside! The vapours from the mug seemed to coagulate into a foggy screen on the glass. Droplets moved vertically downwards, on the glass on the outside. Eyes moist, she took off the glasses off her eyes even as a sparkling drop of tear flowed down her cheek. Far away, even beyond the lights that glimmered from the streets and highways of the city seen across the sea, she thought about the one place to live, people to go to.

Although she could not feel the gentle breeze, the swaying coconut palms in the same compound took her back to the world, which she had chosen so earnestly, the three people she truly belonged to (her family) and the one another person who had truly belonged to her. Yes, the past tense stung her. Was she really relishing the prospect of jabbing away fingers at excel sheets, clicking away the mouse at PowerPoint presentations?

What would those people be doing now? Had the evening come as a reminder of the past? The endless arguments she had had with them in the quest of imbibing the importance of her ambitions into their minds, the ruthless determination with which she had left the house with a multitude of dreams to follow and achieve. Was she really happy earning the money she so desired? Was she really going to go back? Would her dreams permit her now? What was the exact figure of money that would trigger her journey back home? What was the exact moment of satisfaction that would take her back to where she belonged? When would that day in the calendar actually rise when she would go the person who had still promised with more of a hope, to wait even after all those years?

Why were such thoughts even entering her head today? Wasn’t she quite content with that little freedom she had acquired? Or was it freedom really? Wasn’t she in effect, bound to those keyboard keys? Was it the same thing she had envisaged or was it something too different to realise now? Or was the freedom just a matter of her perception? Or simply a way of justifying the effort and the decision?

After all, is life everything about freedom, isn’t it? Or is it all about being bound to something or someone you love?

Did she really love what she was bound to? Or was her love something, somewhere else…?

Too many questions….. Very few or no answers at all….

The Sea as usual brought more questions than answers, even today. She knew she had no choice…………..

City lights

The Parking……!

A Fuelly smell filled his nostrils as he pushed the starter. Largely due to the confined airless space in the parking lot and also due to fact that many other two wheelers had simultaneously started their ignitions, the combined smell of petrol and freshly burnt engine oil suddenly reeked the air. This was certainly unlike the pure soothing smell of petrol that he simply loved at other better times.

Having quickly come out of the train crowd to find his way to his bike parked away somewhere in that crowded jamboree of some hundred odd two wheelers was essentially an everyday and a not-so-welcome adventure that he had to pass through. Tired as he was, his face showed clear signs of resignation. Struggling to push aside an incredibly heavy bike which was parked exactly in front of his own, he sighed; unable to find the side stand to it. Finding the broken stand, painstakingly tied to the bike chassis was the last thing that he needed after that herculean task of pushing the huge vehicle off its main stand. He looked along to find someone equally heavy to do the task for him.

Surprisingly enough, every other person was going along in the row of two wheelers far away from him only to quickly inch away themselves towards the parking exit. His own bike seemed to be looking haplessly towards its equally hapless owner – but it was hardly anything ‘she’ could do presently. The parking owner was indeed in his own peaceful world – trying to close in on his share of the day’s work – where one would sit back and collect revenue – that’s it. The mornings wouldn’t be peaceful for him in the least  – especially where people expected him to be at his protagonist best – boarding a train on time was a far exciting idea in the morning than looking as to where exactly the bike was being parked and how!!!

The evening on the other hand was ‘his’ time. He merely sat there and simply carried on his chore – as pretentiously as ever – as if all was well in the world. The horde of people returning from their daily business was by-and-large, none of his business. The amount of freshness on his face was mostly a sum product of the cash flowing in his drawer in the form of ten rupee notes and some coins as well as the sheer haste of the passengers to quickly find their way out of this place. His assistant must have felt the predicament of the young man struggling to find a stable place to park the heavy machine which now was resting peacefully in his hands. The assistant seemed to sense something and quickly darted forward to help. A grateful smile which although looked forcefully brought to flash across his face; seeped in his otherwise troubled face as the lean assistant somehow garnered the strength required to pull the vehicle on its main stand.

Satisfied, the assistant displayed a fresh smile similar to his owner with hardly any sign of discomfort and started towards the exit. Just as he did, the young man’s gaze shifted to the owner of another moped who seemed to have developed a similar issue with her bike. The assistant seemed a tad eager to go towards her. Taking his act for a cue – the moped lady chirped something about helping her. The young man quickly forgot about his own predicament and darted towards her. He quickly jumped to the spot where she was fidgeting with the bickering footrest of the nearby two wheeler. Smartly, he pulled the bike next to her towards his body indicating her to pull herself out with her own bike. Her lips parted to give away a muted expression of gratitude as she quietly broke free of the shackles that bound her. The radiant smile somehow still reminded him of the same face he seemed to have seen in the morning – the exact same face who had given him a solemn expression – that same morning.

Wondering how her joy and melancholy would be the other way round from morn till evening, he came back to his senses and gently lowered the bike which he was still holding close to his body. Striding quickly to his own bike he managed to pull it out from amongst other similarly standing bikes. Exiting the parking, he wanted to ask that young woman about her recent show of emotions.

He somehow noticed two pairs of eyes staring at him as he gently eased off the gear to speed away. Sensing something strangely amiss, he stopped in his tracks only to find the same young woman standing on the farther side of the road gazing at him as if wanting to say a few words. He waved gently to ask her if everything was alright to which she smiled daintily. Easing his bike on the side stand, he approached her and voiced his question. She simply smiled and said –

“In the morning, not solemnity, but a serene calm is what I crave. With the day ahead of me full of surprises, I prefer to welcome it with a neutral or more of an indifferent grace. But in the evening, when it is sure to come to an end I have every reason to be plainly happy about it. This is exactly antithetical to the attitude of the parking owner – his plainly helpful countenance in the morning seeking a good day and an equally indifferent stance in the evening when he knows how it went, is quite indicating.”

He was suddenly jerked to reality with another young lady standing beside him shaking him to his senses. “What happened to you?”

“There was a girl here….”

“No wonder you take so much time everyday to take out just one bike from this wretched place,” said my friend, “And I am kept waiting for some precious minutes.” She said with the usual characteristic boredom plainly visible on her face and in her voice.

He smiled energetically to which she retorted, “What is so funny, me getting bored and you are smiling?”

“Smiling because I was lost and because you were waiting out their patiently and found me.” He replied with some grace, “Smiling because there are some people who want to be found but only so in your dreams…………………”

Transition

Selfie or Self(less)ie…!!!

As I wordlessly scroll down through my not so ‘happening’ Facebook wall, sifting through the contents on the basis of relevance becomes a bit tough. Cropping up one after another are endless stories of people doing something or the other with a dire need to quickly inform the waiting world about their latest dinner dates, pacifying treks or just randomly clicked ‘Me’s‘.

I struggle to find someone who wants to fill me up with some real in-the-world-news – well barring marriage announcements, which surprisingly have seemed to increase around me all of sudden. God only knows how! People seem to be drowned in their own self created universes. Yes there are many such universes. And each little universe claims to be unique. But alas! I am left with nothing more than a generation or must I say an entire creed of self obsessed people.

Even As I use the word ‘Creed’, nothing stops me from owning up and saying that I myself belong to this same group. But yet futile as it might seem, I have this one question for all of us!!! What is the degree of self-obsessedness that we will reach before we stop doing this! Social media truly endeavours to create, foster and cherish this new found psychology of self centredness to such an extent, that I dread that these duck-faces and pouts and all other sorts of crazy wacky faces will someday somehow, find a way into human DNA… (Even the thought of it makes me shiver.)

The standard agenda of a weekend party or a hangout or a trip nowadays seems to be to click an array of variedly itemised pictures. Acutely surprising it as it seems, (more to me than most of us) a hungry group of friends wait patiently till the most annoying yet footage-hungry friend clicks the pic of the overly delicious waiting-to-be-eaten dish and posts it on Facebook. (Oh! I almost forgot, he/she would have already ‘checked in’ and announced the fact of entering the restaurant to the unsuspecting world out there quite in advance.) Similarly a normal looking trip starts and ultimately ends with the one of the most avid of photographer friends clicking a DP or a profile pic for you!!! This unquenchable desire to hog the walls and covers of every social networking app available in the store is a bit far-fetched.

A slight serious aspect to this entire fabled photography era is the art of clicking photos with one’s own camera/phone, that too while featuring in it. Yes I am talking about the notion of selfie. I call it a notion simply due to the fact that, although necessity is the mother of invention, convenience is the ‘girlfriend’ and nothing gives more comfort than the idea of gratifying one’s own being even without anyone being there to help!! Taking a selfie with a group is even acceptable to some extent (notwithstanding the fact that a true photographer is seldom seen in his collection), but posting ‘random pics’ of oneself under the same heading, might be a little extravagant.

People these days are known to change their DPs, profile pictures and other images almost thrice or four times in a single week. And no biases enter here, Girls and boys (and women and men) continue to have a burning desire of self portrayal with various captions and faces and backgrounds to go with. We (I again stress on we), are increasingly getting so deeply affected by the likes and views that our profiles get, that we go on doing so till we get the desired number( which is often very pretty close to infinity.)

At this point, let me tell you about – a Greek Mythical character called Narcissus who was known for his beauty. Yes! Being a man, he was known for his beautiful physique. On the banks of a river, once, he accidentally saw his own reflection in the clear water. He was so enchanted by the sheer elegance of what he saw that he instantly fell in love with his own reflection. Unable to attain the object of his desire he died at the same place – Later he was transformed into a flower which still grows around river banks……

curse_of_narcissus_moonmomm

Now let’s head to a more serious part of this write up – Researchers are led to believe that this self-centered attitude of our techno savvy gen-next is leading them to a medical terminology called Narcissism. Yes you read it perfectly right! The dictionary entry for it goes as – ‘excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.’ This ‘disorder’ is said to have symptoms of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. True that this won’t occur very freely, yet minor symptoms of this syndrome that we get to see among and around us, cannot be ignored. People are known to have losing their minds and sleep over the number of likes and views they get. They are known to grow apprehensive if they are unable to find a perfect background or a motif for creating a DP of their own. The word selfie is known to affect so huge a crowd, that it gave sleepless nights to compilers of dictionaries around the world unless the word was quickly added to the list.

I am not against people clicking selfies of their own. But my simple point here is that there should be some point upto which the craziness affects us. How engrossed are you in your own self that you simply can’t resist the temptation to click a random pic of your own and then post it somewhere? How crazy is this desire in you to show this façade of your being to the waiting world? (Is it actually waiting?)Those days are long past when you at least required a friend to capture your image.We are done with that now. The world is surely going to be lonely place one day. And those not into this selfie fever are the ones who will really survive that day!! We have come to thinking of ‘I me and myself’ over the last couple of years (Yes! just a couple of years.)

Another bother about this never ending spree of our generation these days is the amount of pics we produce and reproduce (yes we have this uncanny ability to edit the pics too….!) that we literally crowd storage devices – Pictures have gone past music in storage space – From Smart phone storages to computer hard disks to portable hard disks to cloud storage – Many of you might be unaware but, cloud storage too comes with huge costs….But alas today’s crowd!!! We don’t think much about sustainability, do we? Half the readers would already have closed this winding post long back, and some might just do it in a couple of moments considering the series of accusations I am levelling…..

Please consider once the next time you think of taking a selfie out of nowhere! Nothing much happens if you don’t click this one picture. No castle except that of your self-centredness will fall if you don’t change your DP in less than 3 days!!!! Yes people might wonder for few days whether you suddenly met your match somewhere. But yes! That too will be forgotten in 2-3 days (Trust me people don’t have time these days, even a Facebook ‘like’ is more of an acknowledgment than a serious and heartfelt ‘like’); unless of course you are willing to die like poor old Narcissus, by the river – gazing at your own reflection…….

I can only write and point out some facts though, curing the quorum, of habits so acute might need a larger impact. Even as I keep jabbering away at my smartphone writing this blog, my younger cousin sister has just come out of nowhere demanding that I click a pic of hers for her WhatsApp DP! I oblige – after all the only thing I need to do is push the camera button and that too – Self’less’ly…….

narcissus-flower-15

A new year…. Mere change of a calendar?

The “New” Year…

Yet another year will go by in a short span of time….

People will or rather have already begun speculating as to what maybe the new ‘New Year resolutions.’ (How many of them are actually carried out to success, is somewhat a Controversial topic…)

Yet another 365 days will follow in a frame, which we call a year. Same was and will be the Sun, the Moon, and the stars too… and yet we are overjoyed. It is said that we humans are constantly in the quest for something new, and a new fresh ‘new year’ is not an exception. (What follows is the concept of new and improved. Whether the New Year will be “new” or simply an ‘improved version’) Speculation again!!!

Some may say that “Ah! How can you say nothing’s going to change? People do change, don’t they? So that’s it. You have got your first objection.” But I retort, is anything truly going to change in your life? You will walk the same streets, wear the same perfume, get the same paycheck, and pay the same bills. Some of us are not even concerned with the frolic of the situation. All they know that there is +1 to the year-end work which should be completed in the deadline.

Yet another year will come by in few days, and we will be the same. Another 365 days will pass, and this same article will go by as a new one. The only difference being, a notional or abstract change which will have occurred around us.

A thought may be of the opinion that “Coming to think of it, it simply means a less year to live on this beautiful planet.”

But alas! Enough of this confusion! There will surely be some change occurring. It is up to us to change our destinies and maybe it will be the inner strength of a small resolution that may bring about a huge difference. So go ahead folks and welcome the year with pomp.

Finally I submit –

“Transition is the rule of Life, True; But CHANGE is the motivator……!”

The Scarfed Lady……… A short story made long….

800px-A_railway_station_in_IndiaThe architecture of the railway station was such that, one possibly couldn’t avoid climbing up the Foot over bridge – the FOB as they call it in the railway terms. There was simply no way of approaching the booking office without climbing the staircase. Every day, clutching his laptop bag which dangled idly over his shoulder, he would relentlessly secure his way up the stairs amongst the scurrying public. He loathed trains and the crowd that came with it! But his work demanded that he travel, and as such he had little choice. The only reason he never cursed his fate was that they paid him enough.

The station had just two platforms. One track going up the town and another coming down. The town had developed on either sides of the railway station. People wanting to walk to either side of the town were just a bridge apart. The Central city place was only an hour or so from here. Professionals, workmen, teachers all travelled by the train. Some went up to the city and few others went in the opposite direction. But in any case, the trains enjoyed their rush.

He had reached quite a bit early today, 8.38 to be precise! The daily newspaper hadn’t been delivered, and in its absence, breakfast today had been a considerably dull affair. Thus, he had managed to get ready in a jiffy and was tad too ahead of the train schedule. The suburban train was not expected until 08:48 hours. Another train on the opposite platform was due in the next five minutes and yet something was missing. Most of its daily passengers had already arrived. Well! Except for one, of course!

He had been looking out for her ever since he had arrived, but she was nowhere to be seen! 08:39 hours in the morning, was her usual moment of entering the opposite platform. The dainty little lady, clad in the most pleasing attire, would unhurriedly walk past alert looking men. ‘The scarfed lady’ as he had subtly named her – always wore a maroon coloured scarf over her face. Why would she do that? Yet, seemingly oblivious of her surroundings, she would steal a glance once at the digital clock and a second at the signal system. And then she would start watching the opposite platform. Although her eyes never seemed to look at anything specific, he felt a sense of knowing. A sense of knowing (more of a hoping!); that she might just be looking at him, or maybe for him. But deep inside he knew it was not so!

Wiping his sweating brow, he glanced at the time on the digital clock. So unlikely of her! It was already 8.45 and yet she had not yet arrived. Just as he made a mental note of registering the day she had not come, the distraught scarfed lady brushed past, to the edge of the opposite platform. The usual glance at the clock somewhat relieved her. But the wind that day had other plans for her. A more than just a gentle breeze of the wind blew her scarf askew. She desperately tried to jump for it. But it flew away calmly and landed far away. She could do nothing.

Behind the scarf was indeed a beautiful face! Her confused and searching eyes caught sight of him being a witness to her delicate agitation. They would face each other at the crossing every day. But today was different. A familiar expression crossed his face today. He smiled at her. She stopped. With a mild gesture of helplessness, she shrugged and smiled back at him.

A long story had just started! She seemed delighted and now was his turn to be oblivious!!!