Monday, March 31, 2008

six degrees of separation

It was over a nice lunch that she choked. A new acquaintance in a new city was narrating a story of a boy he had heard through somebody else. A boy who was labelled a loser. A boy who apparently jumped from a tall building with the intention of ending his life only to survive and cause more trauma to people around him. The callousness of the narration hit her hard. She listened without blinking. Scared that the welling tears might just give way. Trying desperately to swallow the knotting lump of hurt rising at her throat she chokes. The spicy lunch went bland. She wished for some chilies she could bite her pain into. Restrain, she has learnt is a great virtue. Pushing down her lunch she went through the motion of niceties. Oh yes the lunch was super. The chicken with basil was amazing. This was one of her favourite restaurants. No, she was too full for dessert.
The hail storm on the way home, numbed the sensation a little. In silence, she reflected on the day she had almost lost him. When he gave in to a friend’s dare to walk on the parapet of the nine storey apartment’s terrace. He was his parent’s golden child. Topper of his class, he lived his exceptional talent with humility and grace. He played four different instruments with equal ease and had a voice that could break hearts. She wanted so much to hear him sing Desperado strumming his guitar lazily as he had done many a morning at home. Why didn’t he let her record his voice? It's just a shadow. Keep me in your heart instead, he had said. Over the next few years, he triumphed in his own quiet way amassing material success that most will only dream of. When he died suddenly without a fuss in the quietness of the night, his bereaved parents decided to donate everything that he had to a trust on condition of anonymity.
His only flaw had always been his fierce loyalty to his friends. But she knows it wouldn’t have broken him to know they thought so little of him. He would have probably smiled and said, Let it be, Didi. Their limitation isn’t their fault.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I met Mathew on my first very day at work. New-office-nervousness gnaws me like a manic itch as I watch the rest of the office going about their business and pretty much ignoring me. I am not one of those who takes to a new place like fish to water. I am, if not cold, standoffishly silent in the beginning. And yes a bit shy too.

Suddenly, a warm smile and a head full of curly hair. Good morning M’am. Coffee? Wow! He is holding a cappuccino with a letter 'P' drawn on the white froth. How did he know? I am still amazed. He just smiles broadly. From then on, Mathew and I have got along like we have always been friends. He became my lucky mascot. No morning at work begins without meeting him first and sharing a few words. I have rarely met someone happier or with a warmer smile. And yes, he speaks English with no trace of any 'MTI' what so ever. Soon he became my poster boy for what Customer Service is all about.
This is his story. Mathew was left at a church in Mangalore when he was about 18 months old. He doesn’t remember his family and was brought up in the orphanage run by the church. Mathew is also partially autistic and was diagnosed with major impairments in basic social relationships, limited imagination and extremely rigid patterns of behaviour. He has no formal education and has been trained by the Spastic Society through whose rehabilitation program, he found work as an office assistant. I stumbled on his story a few weeks after I met him, when I proposed moving him to a mainstream admin function. Apparently, he has a history of violent episodes which disqualifies him from ever being given larger responsibilities.

But somewhere, I feel all of them have got him all wrong. His benefactors, his doctors, his trainers, his family, even. If one looks into his eyes, one can surely see the genuine human being, that the rest of us can only hope to be. Live Long Mathew and keep making the world an awesome place for people whose lives you will touch!

A day like today...

reminds me why I love Bangalore! The sky is a halo of luminous grey. The unending stretch of cumulonimbus threatens to pour but doesn’t. The air has the caressing nip which is just right for a light woolen.

This beautiful day would make you wish for a long drive in an open vehicle and cuddling up to that special someone. Or stay in bed warming in a cozy hug and wishing the day never ends. Sigh!

It is also a day that makes my mom suddenly worry about, what according to her, is my erratic meal timing. To seal the argument in her favour, she promptly packs a breakfast of whole wheat bread and baked beans with onions and fresh coriander leaves as garnish. My work mates polish off the sandwich and now want the recipe.

Incidentally, I am still on a high from last night’s dinner which I had cooked. Stir-fried veggies with lemon grass and prawns and mushrooms in red curry. My efforts ended at two-course, thank you! For dessert, we had fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream. Dad liked the stir-fried veggies. Ro loved the red curry though it made his eyes teary. My mom liked both. Honestly, I screwed up the red curry and over cooked the veggies but well I never aspire to be a chef of any repute. However, for someone who cooks once in about two years, I was glad I remembered how to hold the ladle. And thanks also to the one who not only gave the recipe but also followed up at every stage of the culinary creation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

today's view


It’s raining again. Wild drops cascading down the curved glass creating interweaving hasty streams of lurid ecstasy. She longs to touch the tangled mess of the wet rush but her fingers meet the coldness of the glass wall instead. The torrent runs free outside her reach leaving dancing shadows on her fingers. Isn’t it you who chose to live inside…safe in your bubble? They taunt her. No, but I want to be with you…wild and free! She cries. Sorry, too late. We don’t have the time now. And they leave her standing by the glass wishing she was someone else.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The good thing about staying alone in a hotel room is that you have the TV remote all to your self.
The bad thing is that with the rush of choices you suddenly don’t know what to watch!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

right @ this moment

someone is reading James Herriot in a cold airport
someone is writing a poem that doesn't rhyme
someone is watching the rain by the window
someone is having seafood at a fancy diner
someone is drinking beer in a noisy pub
someone is missing someone dear
someone is fighting heartbreak
someone is suddenly lonely
and all waiting for dawn
It rained.
A few drops first
while I was picking vegetables.
I watched
as they made muddy lines on my dusty xing.
Drove home
with drops caressing the windscreen
threatening more.
Then it poured.
The drops turning
nonchalant and cold.
As I stood by my window
grey sheet
muddy street
Tomorrow’s sunday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

pest control

I have been traveling cross country in my singular person for both work and play. I am equally at ease with the idyllic calm of a vacation paradise, the murky pollution of the metros to the confounding obnoxiousness of our small towns. There is absolutely nothing that will change my unperturbed state. Not the horribly delayed fights, cheating cabbies with no sense of direction, check-in assistant who gives you window when you specifically ask for aisle seat, security lady who feels you up with glee, hostess who despite your explicit request wakes you up to ask if you would have vegetarian or non vegetarian meal, pesky co passengers who unapologetically ask for your refused share of airline food, hi-tech bath fixtures of hotel rooms that leave you dumbstruck, TV remotes that compete with a missile launcher in complexity, Nothing bothers me. Except the men.
If you are a woman who travels solo, then you are already aware of the perils this species pose. So far no antidote has worked. Trust me I have tried. I don my abandoned wedding band whenever I leave for the airport. I have tried to look dour and dreary. I have buried myself in a book to escape. It hasn’t worked. Usually it begins innocuously enough. ‘Traveling to Bangalore?’ ‘Is the flight on time?’ ’I heard there is an airport strike from midnight.’ ‘How is this book?’ Then comes the obvious ‘You are traveling alone?’ ‘Where are you staying?’ followed by the unmistakable offer for coffee. No thank you. I don’t want to share my book, coffee or space with you.
There’s the on-your face-type, who wouldn’t think twice before asking a completely strange woman ‘Join for coffee?’ ‘Can I drop you home?’ And then there are smooth operators that probe with stealth. ‘I like your choice of book’ Like Hell! For all I know you have a lifetime subscription of Penthouse. Anyway do I look like I care? These subtle types are the most dangerous. Before you realize it they would not only know your birth chart and family tree but your vital stats as well.
Now, the tragedy of this whole thing is that I am not the glam-doll-Page3-wannabe type that one would feel an uncontrollable urge to talk to nor the attractive young things that are ubiquitous at airports these days or the dashingly smart woman executives who are out to prove a point. More often than not I am lugging my monstrously heavy laptop and wearing a grimace for an expression. Unless you are telling me that men of all ages like to chat up scowling members of the opposite sex, please enlighten me on what’s going on.

Monday, March 03, 2008

growing up

“Mommy she tried to kiss me! Soooo gross!!!”
My jaw fell open. He is only seven damn it.
“Who?” I ask struggling to breathe.
“And what did you do?”
“Shobhit and I ran to the Boys loo”
“She couldn’t come in because girls are not allowed there”
“Who is this girl?”
“Gross…Mommy! I hate her!”
“She is always after me…”
“I don’t like her. Will you please tell her not to kiss me?”
“Just ignore her Sweetie. She wouldn’t bother you” Which I thought was sensible advice.
However, my learned friend would have said “Dude, enjoy it while it lasts!” But I happen to be the mother.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

@ the coffee dispenser

Nan: Guys, boss isn’t wearing a bra again!
Pee: What?? I thought I was the only one who notices such things!
Meg: You cuckoo? Everrryone knows it in office…
Nan: Specially when she is wearing a saree!
Ind: Yeah this is so embarrassing. I had a review with her today and her pallu kept slipping…
Pee: I guess she is a feminist…
Nan: Feminist my foot! She thinks she is this hot-bod babe!
Ind: I tried very hard to keep my eyes away but well this was so obvious…
Nan: Yeah! She is showing off her assets….which is sooo gross, man!
Ind: We should give her a Lovable voucher for Boss’s Day…!
Pee: It’s a free country. Besides, our corporate dress code doesn’t mandate underwear.
Nan: Right! Does it mandate joggling your assets?
Meg: Hey, let’s call her Jiggle Jo!
Pee: Maybe we are jealous…
(Nan, Meg and Ind get ready to slaughter poor Pee)
Pee: Think about it Guys, It’s much better to have a female boss who shuns bra than a male boss who loves wearing them!
Disclaimer: All the characters depicted here are fictitious and has no resemblance to any person dead or alive. The writer claims indemnity from all forms of law suits.

carpe diem!

It’s a new day. A new beginning. The air at 6.30am was crisp with a sharp chill that you notice only when you breathe deep. There is no adverse trace of last night’s indulgence or insomnia. There was an exciting freshness in the gait during morning walk and a fresh insight into a relationship that was earlier aborted. It could be because of a number of things. The beer-binge with Ms. Pretty Lady and Mr. Faker Shaker the night before or the perspective sharing till 2 in the morning or Carpenters at early dawn. What matters however, is the excitement of a clean start.
Yeah baby. Let's rock!