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The journey

March 5, 2017


I have just 9 more months. To express myself to the world. A lot of my sisters have not been able to do it and have just passed into oblivion. It will not happen to me. My saviour has come. My knight in shining armour has arrived. To redeem me. He had a tough journey though. He had to swim upstream and get over a veritable fortress to get to me. And that he had to fight off many competitors on the way overwhelms me. He must be dead tired really. But now that he has met me, he will have time to recoup.  I need him. Only together can we make this journey.  It is going to be an arduous one, I am pretty sure.

We need to prepare ourselves for the ultimate destination. We need to develop our senses to attain our goal. What will I be at the end of the journey? I do not know, but I want to be strong and different. I hope to make a difference to the place I am going to. How will I be received? I hope I will made to feel wanted.

I hope we get a good place to rest during our journey. I hope we get enough food to undertake this travel. I am really excited. I am a little frightened as well. A little apprehensive whether I will be able to make it. 9 months is worth the wait to find out.  I hope everything will be just fine. Isn’t hope everything, wherever on earth I will be born.?

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

The Good Samaritan

March 20, 2016

Good Samaritan

I was sitting on a road-side shop and drinking coffee when I heard the loud noise. I knew right away that it was an accident. I am a regular at the coffee shop and ever so frequently accidents happen at that spot. It was on the other side of the road from where I was sitting. There is a super market right opposite the coffee shop and a delivery truck is always parked in front of it.  It obstructs vision of the vehicles coming from the side lane into the main road. I saw a car speed away, but was unable to note the registration. A man was lying sprawled on the road. His motorbike was lying a few feet away from him, its rear wheel still spinning.

I darted across the road, barely missing a car, the driver downed his window and shouted something nasty about my antecedents.A few people were gathered around him. Vehicles were slowing down to see what the crowd was about and then driving away. I lifted the motor bike and parked it close to the pavement and pocketed the key. The man was in his mid thirties . He was wearing a light blue shirt and a black trouser, which was torn from the knee down. His right leg was twisted in a impossible angle which only a broken bone can achieve. He was moaning loudly. The people standing around were scared to move him with his condition. I had to take control.  I asked them to leave in my sternest voice. Some of them left, relieved that they do not have to do anything. There were still some hangers-on.

‘Do you have an insurance?’ I asked him.

‘No’, he said grimacing in pain.

I asked him  his name and took out  his cell phone jutting from his pocket. I called the first number in the call log. It happened to be his friend. I told him about the accident and that I was taking him to a hospital, nearby. I called for an ambulance and took him to the hospital. They rolled him in on a wheel chair

I filled up the admission slip and paid the admission charges. The doctor in the Casualty had one look at his leg and said that a surgery would be required, I nodded and told him that his folks were on their way, He ordered for an X-Ray and some blood tests.I paid the fees and gave the receipts to a nurse so that the tests could be carried out.  I was waiting for the X-Ray and blood test results, when his phone rang. It was his friend wanting to know where I was. I turned around. There was an old couple and a couple of men scanning the room anxiously. I waved to them and they came to me. I handed over the phone and the motor bike keys  to them. The old couple turned to be his parents and the men his friends. I told them quickly of what happened. They thanked me profusely for my timely help.  The X-ray and the blood test results had come by then. His friends went to meet the doctor. .

I chatted up with his parents. He was a retired school teacher and she a house-wife. I asked him if they had  enough money for the treatment. They looked a little worried. They had put aside some money from his retirement benefits for their medical needs and hoped that it would be enough. The son had gotten a job only a few months back and now, this.  The friends   came back to where we were sitting. The doctor had said that an surgery was needed and that too immediately, as there were some broken fragments. They had to pay money for the surgery. I left them making calls to arrange for the money, not even waiting for the money I had paid for the admission and the tests.

It was night by the time I reached home. It had been a tiring day. I had a refreshing bath and was sitting with my drinks when the phone came. It was the doctor.

‘Your share has been transferred to your account’, he said

I thanked him.

I hope tomorrow would be as good as it was today.

Image courtesy: Internet

Paradise (re)Lost, Paradise (re)Regained

December 13, 2015

  • smell

I had lost the ability to smell because of my conditions. Nosey parkers who want to get into the reasons can find out from here. I was into homeopathy, even though scores of people, with whom I had more than a couple of minutes to interact or converse advised me to go for polypectomy, a surgical intervention to remove the offending parts. I resisted all such advises mainly because in most cases the polyps recur and there was a big chance that you might lose your smelling capacity for good (or bad). I was patient till my homeopath doctor Dr. Anjana Pradeep, with her small bottles of pills restored my sense of smelling partially. Then disaster struck, she had to move to Kochi. There was a break in treatment. She came to Chennai for 3 days in a month, but my schedule and hers did not match. The condition resurfaced for the worst.

My well wishers pulled out their daggers for polypectomy again. I parried as usual and when things got really bad, I went to meet the good doctor again. Obviously the medicines she gave me earlier did not work and she had to work her way again with her medicines and prayers for nearly 2 years till the polyps shrunk and I could, hold your breath, breathe properly and smell. You wouldn’t understand my joy of being able to smell petrol, deodorants, mint, onions being sautéed in coconut oil, oranges, chrysanthemums…… the list is endless.

But like with all good things, there is a flip side, the stink and stench of the city assaulted me with double the force. My ability to walk past overflowing garbage cans and overflowing sewers with a nonchalant smile has been shattered. I had  half a mind to name this post ‘Purgatory Lost and Purgatory regained’. But like many of the Chennaites, who realized that the inconveniences they faced for a few days of the unprecedented rains, was nothing compared to the misery of most others who had lost their houses, vehicles, relatives and pets, I count myself lucky.

I have to thank my doctor for her medicines and faith. My wife for constantly nagging me to get a treatment. My friends and family for suggesting various solutions ( I have a sneaking suspicion that they were doing this unable to bear the stink I was throwing around as I walked oblivious to my own body odours). I thank God for letting me smell nature again.

I will leave you with this video. It is a little gross and can be viewed only by those above 18. With this disclaimer  I can throw caution to the winds.

Just the way you are

October 24, 2015

Today was our wedding anniversary. Twenty fifth in fact. I have to thank my wife for travelling with me through the ups and downs in life in these 25 years. Especially for accepting me just the way I am. Thank you to all my family members,friends, some of them who were  more than family, for their wishes which has helped us come so far.

Song: Just the way you are- Billy Joel

The Placard

October 10, 2015


Everything had gone perfectly right, from the  take off to the landing. There was a small confusion at the immigration. There was a basket ball team which wanted to be cleared as a group. The ensuing confusion to allocate a separate counter for group clearance took some time for the line I was standing, to move. Other than that, there wasn’t a hitch. Even my baggage arrived on the carousel early, a miracle by itself. The basket ball team had also by that time collected their belongings and were just ahead of me at the exit. I was feeling elated. The next 3 days were going to hectic with business meetings. I was hoping the hotel where I had booked my stay was good. It was my first visit to this city. They had said that they would provide a complimentary pick up from the airport and that the driver would be waiting with a placard at the arrival gate.

As I came out of the terminal, I saw the  driver holding a hotel placard, with my name and flight details. He was standing behind a barricade at the arrival gate. There was a huge crowd waiting to receive people. I waved at him. He was looking somewhere, probably distracted by the reception the basket team was getting. I waved once more, but I was sure that he had not noticed. So I started moving towards the barricade. Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see a tall good looking man in a blazer. He took my hand, welcomed me on behalf of the hotel and hoped that I would have a pleasant and fruitful stay in the city. He proceeded to take my baggage from me and started walking. I found it difficult to keep pace with the long strides that he was taking. We reached the car park. He deposited the baggages in the boot and opened the door for me. As I settled in the back seat, he went to the front  and sat beside the driver.

It was getting dark and the traffic was heavy. We inched our way  through the traffic.  There was total silence in the car except for the soft music that was coming from the music system. I relaxed, After maybe 20 or so minutes as I looked out, I saw that we were in some isolated side road. Just as I was wondering why we were in such a desolate place, as the hotel reservation had confirmed that the hotel was right on the airport road, my phone rang. I fished out my phone from my pocket and noticed that the call was from the hotel. ‘Where are you sir? The driver is waiting for you.’ the caller said.

It was then, as the man in the blazer turned, pointing a gun at me, that I realized I was being kidnapped.

PS: Recently I had booked a hotel accommodation for one of my customers and the hotel wanted to know what name to be put on the placard for the complimentary pick up, that sparked this story.

Pic courtesy:

Second Class Citizens

October 5, 2015

It has been some time  since I travelled by  train and a couple of years more by  the sleeper class/ second class of the Indian Railways, not counting the time when we chartered an entire coach for a team building exercise for the company.  There was an emergency, and the only available transport was by a sleeper class train, that had already started its journey from the originating station somewhere in the north of India, by the time I booked my ticket in it.

The train came in at the unearthly hour. Have to give it to them for arriving on the dot. The coaches were dark. It would be foolish on my part to believe that everyone would be staying awake with the lights on for me to get on the train. As I groped my way walking across compartments counting in multiples of eight, I reached what was supposed to my berth, an upper one. I lifted my bag and tried to put it on the berth and was met with some resistance. I switched on the flashlight on my mobile. There were 2 guys sleeping on my berth. They were lying in a position which probably Vatsyayana could not understand or was unable to describe in his Kamasutra. After considerable time I spent to wake them, they sat up to look at who was disturbing them in the middle of the night. In my broken Hindi, I established my territory. After wiping the berth with a piece of rag, which my wife had so thoughtfully packed in the side pouch of my bag, I climbed onto my berth. Getting a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event would be easier than getting onto and lying down comfortably on a upper berth of the Indian Railways. It required my creaky joints to be stretched to the maximum or should I say folded to the maximum? The adrenalin pumped into my blood stream was preventing me from going to sleep. I was also waiting for somebody to come and check my tickets. Nobody came. And finally as sleep embraced me, I heard a woman tell her husband that there was no water in the toilets. I smiled to myself as I plunged headlong into the land of sleep. It was a fitful sleep and I dreamt that I was being thrown into the concrete mixer with a woman who was repeatedly shouting there is no water, there is no water, by Amjad Khan dressed as   Vatsyayana  and the 2 guys I woke up as 2 of his disciples.

When I woke up it was seven in the morning. Good, I thought to myself, only 3 more hours before I get off this infernal contraption. I got down, with a bottle of mineral water, which I bought at the station. I usually carry a couple of water bottles, not that I drink so much water overnight. You would have realized why I smiled for the ‘there is no water in the toilet’ statement. There were 3 or 4 men standing near the wash basin. They moved aside when I opened the bottle, poured some water in my mouth, gargled furiously and looked for some place to spit it out. It always works, to ward off the people crowding near the wash basin. I spat out the water, marveling at the innovative floral designs that the railways incorporated on the basins. On closer examination, it turned out to be the handiwork of our Bihari brethren by spitting out the ‘Khaini juice’. I went into the loo. I am not going to give you a graphic description and make you want to throw up. It was a good thing that i suffer from anosmia. And yes there was no water in the coach. Finally when I got down, I forgot to note the coach number, without which any complaint would be incomplete

On the way back, the same day, the coach was a little better than by what I had travelled the previous night. But one of the fans was not working. I tried the age old trick I had learned in my childhood to make it work. I inserted my business card into the grill and hit the blades, but it didn’t budge. It was very stuffy, so I tried to open the window. I t wouldn’t stay up as there was no hole to latch it up. Presently a young Ticket Examiner came and checked my ticket. I told him about the fan, for which he promptly told me to crank it with my finger. When I told him that I had tried that too, he was a little taken aback, as if a great company secret has been decoded. I told him about the window too. This time he didn’t offer any quick fixes. Curtly he said he will send somebody to look into it. I wasn’t naïve to believe him, but the day’s events had depleted all my all strength to counter him. This time around it was a dreamless sleep. When I woke up I found that the train had made an unscheduled stop at a station, from where I could reach my house faster than the time that the train would take to reach its final destination. I quickly grabbed my bag and jumped out, just as the train started moving. Shucks, I had forgotten to note the coach number again.

For an institution that is the largest employer in India*, even overtaking the armed forces, is it inefficiency or is the Railways under-employed, so as not to address the issues mentioned above and more?

For a service that made a profit of US$ 2.4 Billion* in 2013-14, is it too much to expect better services, better coaches and better everything? As far as I know, air conditioned coaches are not better off. There have been  cases of rodents biting off passengers’ fingers at night.

How is that people tolerate such things, given that they pay money in advance for the services?

Is it because we have become perfect Indians, of being tolerant to things we shouldn’t be and intolerant to things we should be.

For those of you, who cannot follow the track, here is the translation (and not the transliteration)

Ambi:Father, mother, how are you? Hey Nandhini,how are you?

Chari: Chari

Ambi: Chari how are you?

Chari: I am fin…..  Oh my god, there was one good bloke called Ambi,you have castrated him and made him normal like everyone else.

At the station

Chari: Ambi you are going on your honeymoon, don’t repeat what you did while we went to Thiruvyaru (a place, refering to an earlier incident where Ambi makes a fuss over the conditions on the train)

Chari:What will you do if the food they serve is not good?

Ambi: I will adjust

Chari:What if the toilet stinks?

Ambi: I will hold my breath

Chari: And if the fan doesn’t work?

Ambi: I will crank it with my finger.

Chari: Excellent, you have become a perfect Indian. Enjoy the trip.

Video courtesy: Arvind {A clip from the movie Anniyan (Stranger) directed by Shankar}

  •  inputs from Wikipedia

Love Thy neighbour

August 30, 2015

'We are neighbours, officer.'

‘We are neighbours, officer.’

I was just dozing off after a rather heavy breakfast, the newspaper I was trying to read almost slipping out of my hands, when the commotion outside woke me up. My wife and my mother were instantly on the balcony to see what it was all about. I tried to get back to my shut-eye, but the decibel levels outside was rising and it was getting difficult to ignore it. I stepped out into the balcony where my wife was giving a running commentary to my mother. My mother is a little short of hearing. The people living on my right, whom for easy identification I will call Right and the folks living opposite my house, whom I will call (you have guessed right) Opposite were fighting. After a few minutes of listening to their fight I could make out the plot. Right had parked his SUV right opposite Opposite’s gate, which in effect prevented Opposite to take out his car, right when he needed it.

So how did this confrontation happen so suddenly. Right had brought home a brand new SUV to add to his sedan. Opposite already had 2 cars. What they did not have is parking space in their house. Right used to park his first car in front of his house, on the road. Opposite used to park his first car in front of his house and the  second car also on the road side a little further from his house. When Right bought the SUV, he reserved the space where Opposite parks his second car, by parking a motor cycle there. When Opposite returned home he finds a motor cycle parked in the place where he normally parks his car, He promptly moved the motor cycle and parked the car. When Right comes back later in the night, he finds that his reserved place had be usurped by Opposite and in retaliation parks the car blocking Opposite’s  entrance. After a lot of name calling by both sides, someone calls the police. The police try to reason out with both of them. Opposite says that he is in the right, after all he had been parking the car in the exact same spot for years now. Right, on the other hand feels quite the opposite. He argues that the place is a common place and anybody can park where they please. Moreover Opposite did not have the right to move the motor cycle. Both stubbornly hold their places and after a point the sub inspector loses his cool and shouts at them. After some persuasions by some passer-bys  and good Samaritans they end their stand-off and arrive at a solution, which they could have done themselves if each had a little courtesy to talk to each other sensibly.

The moot point is encroachment. Well to do people encroach on roads to park their cars..In most countries you need to establish that you have adequate parking place in your house before you can own a car. Most cars are parked so haphazardly on the roads that they block vision on turnings or cross roads. The second point is rich, educated people fighting over something that is not theirs. Will they buy a refrigerator, or a wardrobe or a washing machine for which they do not have space  in their house and leave it on the roads.?

The Chennai Corporation has a  huge opportunity to make some money here, They cannot control this parking, at least they can charge an annual fee for parking and issue a smart tag. Any vehicle without the smart tag can be towed away. The money can at least be used to repair the roads that they are constantly digging up

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