Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Friday, July 31, 2009

48. Weirdness

I don’t know why I behaved like this.

No one else knows, but I know. And thinking on it for years, I haven’t found any solution – any appropriate solution I must say.

I was in a small town, for a program with a local NGO. It was a hectic day. A journey (not so comfortable) followed by number of formal and informal meetings. My public speech was well responded and the overall enthusiasm of the crowd was bit unexpected. People came in small groups and talked to me, shared their thoughts and feelings to me. A writer always looks forward to such exposure to life of others. Because, for any individual, a single life is monotonous enough.

So, I believe it was not the fatigue of failure. It was not fatigue of over-excitement. I was well fed by the organizers, so it was not fatigue of hunger or thirst. My train was at 11.30 at night. So, one of the well wishers dropped me at the station. They wanted me to entertain till the train arrived. But I insisted that I be dropped at the earliest, after meeting so many people in a day I just wanted to be alone for few minutes.

The family reluctantly left me at the station at 11.00 in the night. Within five minutes the announcement told me that my train was late by an hour. So, I found a clean bench to sit, pulled newspaper from my bag and started reading it. The station was only thinly crowded. Few trains were expected to arrive.

A train arrived and departed. After a few minutes, I heard a voice of my friend. I had couple of friends in this town, but I had not informed them about my visit – anticipating the lack of time. Neither I nor that NGO was so famous to announce my presence in the city through newspapers. This was one of my friend's voice. She was there, few feet away from me, with her family. From the luggage they were carrying, I could understand that they have just arrived from some other place.

I had good contact with the friend and her family. It was certain that they were not expecting me to be at the station in their town at this hour, without any prior information to them. They all looked tired and naturally wanted to hurry home. I saw them in full light.

And then without any conscious thought, I pulled the newspaper in front of my face and started reading, completely ignoring my friend and her family.

No, we did not have any conflict, not enmity. Not only my friend but her whole family loves me. They have stood by me in worst of my times and always shared my joy. On other occasions, I would travel thousands of kilometers just to meet them… but at that moment I did not want to meet any one of them. Any reason? Not at all.

The friend and the family disappeared from the platform. I could still call them and search for them and exchange few words with them if I wanted. But I did not want. I just avoided meeting them. I shielded myself away from them.

Why I behaved so? I do not know. I am not very social at times. But to this friend, I could frankly say that I did not want to talk, and she would understand… she had never forced me into any action against my wishes.

I think in every relationship there is a basic mutual trust. Until that is intact, relationships can survive tests, barriers and hazards. Once this trust is broken, nothing can replace it.

Fortunately my friend does not know this incident, but unfortunately I know it. I can’t help feeling guilty that I have done something which I was not supposed to do. Even if I tell this to her now, she will just laugh and accept it. The family has accepted all sorts of my unpredictable behavior.

Till today I do not know what madness I was in to act in such a way…

But what has been done can’t be 'undone'. The Wise Birbal was right when he told Badshaha, ‘Bundase gayee woh howdase nahi aati’ . Some things are irreplaceable in life, and I will have to live with that moment of wierdness... of course I am too full of such moments! :)

(Friends, don’t think much about it. It happend long ago, that sometimes I feel that it actually happened in last life or so….or may be it was my dream. I have the habit of mixing real and unreal at times.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Break: 2

Yes, time to take another break.
I would be away from Cyber World for the next 10 days.
Most probably I would not post anything  more in July.
See you on 1st August.
Take care.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

47. In a Metropolis

In a metropolis, would you advice someone to sit in a car of strangers? Especially if one is new to the area and it is late in the evening? And more especially if that person is a woman? But I was exactly doing that in Bengaluru.

Sometimes by breaking norms, you get stimulating experiences.

There were three people, an old couple and their working son. I had known the couple for just two hours and the son for 15 minutes. But we were chatting as if we knew each other for ages.

I was flying from Raipur to Bengaluru, via Hyderabad. I liked the new look of Hyderabad airport, the cleanliness, the speciousness, the arrangements …. Everything was good. As I had to catch connected flight, I had to spend few hours at the airport. A couple of about 55 to 60 years joined me in the lounge. Only three of us were there. Both of them were looking bit nervous, stressed and lost. They were throwing glances at me and discussing something in Malyalam. I could understand their anxiety and I smiled at them. They were relieved and immediately started conversing with me.

The couple was originally from Kerala, but due to job they had stayed in Bhopal for many years. Now they were traveling to their son at Bengaluru. They wanted to travel by train, but the son had sent flight tickets. This was their first air travel; they were anxious and worried about their luggage (that directly went to the Bengaluru plane.) They were not sure whether they should have security check again, whether the son will come to the airport, how to pick up the baggage at Bengaluru….. I could understand their emotions and assured help. I promised that I would give them company until their son arrived.

We had a cup of coffee together, exchanged feelings on Bhopal, they told me about their granddaughter, and I shared my work with them………… and our flight was announced.

When we reached Bengaluru, I helped uncle and aunty to pick up their baggage, pushed their trolley, we came out. I patiently said ‘no’ to many taxiwalhas…. The son was not there to receive them. Uncle hurriedly tried his mobile, but the son was ‘out of coverage area’. Uncle tried his son’s office number, it was engaged. He tried residence number, could not connect. Both uncle and aunty visibly started shaking. Holding their trolley by one hand, and taking care of my luggage with the other hand, I was trying to calm them down.

I asked uncle to keep his mobile open for calls in case his son tries to contact. From my mobile, we kept on calling different numbers. After ten minutes, we could get in touch with the daughter in law. She got worried that her husband was not at the airport. We tried different numbers. In the mean time, I sent SMS to the son…… I asked the daughter in law the residence address and was ready to take the old couple to their residence.

Then the son appeared (he was waiting at the other side of the arrival gate)…. The son was touched by my help to his parents. The family invited me to stay with them. When I told them about my travel plan to Chamrajnagar, they decided to drop me at the spot where my colleague was to wait for me. Actually they forced (with affection of course) me into their car.

We had interesting talk on the way. The son was born and brought up in Madhya Pradesh, annually visited Kerala, post graduated in Pune and now was working in Bengaluru. When he knew that I was from Pune, he became very friendly to me.

He said, “I am going through an identity crisis. To which place do I belong? I speak Malyalam but I have no place to go and stay in Kerala. Bhopal, I have good memories, but I cannot get job there. Now I am placed in Bengaluru, but I keep on feeling that I am an outsider. What is my identity? Which state, which culture, which language do I represent? In my country, I am an emigrant.”

I could understand his sense of isolation and loss of identity. I can understand the feeling of ‘not being part of the crowd around’. Identity crisis emerges when people around you are so different. You start questioning yourself the meaning of all your actions, thoughts and emotions, because nobody seems to understand those. True, when one has firm roots, one can live with better confidence and better self-esteem.

But what if one has no roots, nothing to fall back? I guess, one chooses to move forward – may be by compulsion or by choice. But one moves on. The moving itself creates an identity which is a combination of multiple aspects. A metropolis, a crowd is a good background to create a new identity, a new way of life, a new thought process, because nobody has time to inspect what you are doing.

In a metropolis (crowd), one can choose to feel alone…

In a metropolis (crowd), one can choose to feel free…

In a metropolis (crowd), one can live with oneself…

Saturday, July 11, 2009

46. Hold It

This is a ‘mad’ post.
You can either skip it or curse me.
You have a choice, I do not have.

May be, I have a range of choices, not to write is one choice, write but not to post is another, to post but not to inform is the third….. Like a magician; we all create things out of nothing.

Life nowadays is too full of mundane purposes and targets to be achieved. All these achievements lead me nowhere, is the fact with which I am trying to cope up. I let loose myself once in a while. When I am lazing and I have no purpose, I become livelier. Sometimes I create challenges to save myself from rusty routine. My strategy is not to be influenced by instinct in day to day life and no burden of logic at turning points.

I know I am not compelled to live rotten life. If I have it, it is just a matter of time that I will not have it so rotten. When I am unable to leave things, I wonder who holds what? I mean, I cling to the world or it is the other way? Is the ‘World – Me’ relationship just an illusion? What binds me in the apparently isolated existence? What makes the illusion about bondage? Is there only one way of escape? May be not; because there are innumerable ways of bondage. The moment I feel I am free; I have new territories to conquer.

With all these complex thoughts at the background, I was reading a book. Since I was initiated into the art of reading, I have always enjoyed it. I am fully awake when I read. I know some people, who read so that they can sleep… I always find it funny.

I was tired that day – physically and emotionally. But I was still in good spirit. I don’t know whether you have noticed it or not, but sometimes you become TWO. I mean you watch your actions, your emotions, your tensions, your decisions, and your joy without getting involved into yourself. It is as if you are watching some stranger, whose interests do not matter to you. No, it is not split personality; it is an experience that cannot be explained in words.

When I was young, I had more faith in ONENESS, involvement, engrossment… the older I grow, the more I enjoy the isolation, the aloofness, the distance, the difference… the separation of me from myself, of me and the world around. Sounds crazy? I bet, it is.

So, I was reading a book and I was watching myself reading a book. I noticed that I was holding the book not in one, two or three ways…. but in nine different ways.
The same book and the same me… but I relate to the book in different ways, so as to feel that ‘things are really different’. But in the heart of heart I know that it is the same. I am just trying to explore it from a different angle, different view point … but when we two remain the same, will things really change? Knowing fully well that the book will remain the same; and it is up to me to interpret it and find joy out of it……is an important aspect of living within.

With this entire journey so far, if life restricts me to only freedom of interpretation, I need to embrace life in another way….I will seize it in such a manner that how I hold it will not matter anymore.
Hopefully I will not be required to hold it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

45. ‘Q’s > ‘A’s


I have a dial up connection at home. I decided to apply for Broad Band connection. The online application was not working properly. I went to the telephone exchange office. Three men, all employees of the service provider were sitting at the entrance. I enquired about ‘Internet Connection Section’. One man asked, “Are you from X Society (meaning residential complex)?” I answered affirmatively. He said, “Don’t apply for Broad Band Connection”.

I was surprised that he located me right and surprised at his advice. I am bit adamant when someone tries to convince me without any logic. So I asked, “Isn’t my society connected yet?” All three of them smiled. The other man said, “Oh! It is connected, but not well connected”.

They must have sensed the confusion on my face. Now the third offered help. He added, “There is a major fault in the wires. So, you may get the satisfaction of having broad band connection, but you won’t get appropriate service. You will come to this office with complaints.” The fourth man, who was not employee but consumer, participated in the conversation now. He told me, “Broad band connection does not work. I am tired of complaining. And to disconnect is not easy. Take their advice and help yourself”.

I was puzzled. Then the first man said, “It is for your benefit we are saying this. But if you want to apply, you can very well apply. But think about what we are saying. We don’t gain anything in this.”

True. None of them knew me and still they were trying to do me a favor.

Other consumers listening to this conversation nodded. They all were sympathetic to the telephone people and were thinking that I was a mad person, not following their advice.


My travel plan was to catch a connected train from Mumbai to Pune. But the train coming from north India was late by five hours. So I decided to stay with a friend in Mumbai. My through train ticket was up to Kalyan station, and I wanted to go to Mulund –another suburb of Mumbai.

I contacted the Train Conductor (TC) to find out whether he could give me extension ticket from Kalyan to Mulund. The TC was surprised at my request. He said, “Don’t bother, it is too expensive.” (Because I was in II AC). “Yah! I know. Can you or any other TC give me second class extension?” I asked politely.

He was more amused. “Sister, that still is costly.”

Now I was wondering. I was ready to pay, and this guy was discouraging me.

I explained to him that my ticket was only up to Kalyan and I wanted to go to Mulund. This particular train stops on platform number 7 at Kalyan and for purchasing a local ticket I will have to go beyond platform 1. In the crowded station, with baggage. to walk this distance (and come back to platform 3 to catch a local train!) was too much. I would also need to spend half an hour in the queue to purchase the ticket. For me, time is costlier than money – money one can earn, time once lost is lost. So I was trying to compensate my time and energy with money.

The TC perfectly understood the situation but still rejected to provide me extension ticket. Now I was amazed. A asked in a bit humorous tone and with bit irritation, “then what I am supposed to do?”

“Just get down at Kalyan and catch the upcoming local train which will take you up to Mulund”, he said mildly. Then he added, “It is 11.00 in the night, nobody will check your ticket. If someone asks, explain and s/he will allow you to go. After all we too are human beings, we understand.”

I am a very transparent person, so he must have read the feelings on my face.

“It is for your benefit I am saying this. Think about what I am saying. I don’t gain anything in this.”

True. He did not know me and still he was trying to do me a favor.

Other passengers and railway people nodded. They all were sympathetic to that TC and were thinking that I was a mad person, not following the escape route.

(My colleague’s cousin purchased local ticket for me, handed it over to me at Kalyan and I reached Mulund with a proper ticket….)


Why is that even when we know that the system is dysfunctional, instead of changing it, we try to find out escape routes for individuals? Does it mean system changes only bit by bit? Does it mean we do not have power enough to change the whole system? Does it mean we can help if someone is vulnerable, but do not like if someone challenges us?


Why I always have more questions than answers?