I WANT TO HAVE A DAUGHTER ……

I wrote this poem way back in 2012 for my wife and my mother, who are such an integral part of me and my life is revolving around these ladies. It’s my thought that a women’s love is the most powerful thing in this universe and any other universe, which defies all logic, science, superstition, time and even gods. May it be a mother’s love for his son, a daughters love for her father, a wife’s love for her husband, an animal’s love for it’s offspring there is no way one can define or unravel this sentiment or try to even understand it. Humans may become extinct, the world might end, the sun might burn out, the universe might fade away, but the most heavenly, ethereal, unfathomable,intangible substance of love of a woman will persist into the infinity, even in the nothingness of a void and even in all known and unknown dimensions.

A thought crossed my mind when I was watching the recent sci-fi film ‘Interstellar’, at an outset, it might seem that the film is more about unravelling the secrets of universe, the dimensions of space and time and search for life in other planets, but if you closely observe and give a thought, there is yet another underlying most powerful theme, which the makers might themselves have not realized: that of a daughter’s love for her father. A grit and determination to get back her father from an unending wrap of time and space, even if it means that she may no longer be there or she might be much much older than him when he comes back whereas he would remain of the same age.

Now, here’s the poem:

Every man who has a daughter
is the luckiest person on earth.
For there is love for him
until his very last breath.

How lucky of me if i have one;
such a sweet little angel.
Whose small little fingers i can hold and walk,
wrap her in my bosom and learn to talk her talk.

How much would i have to cry
when i start missing her.
How much would i have to cry,
when she does not belong hither.

who else could give,
such wonderful life to live.
who else could give,
such beautiful thoughts to thrive.

Would there be any other better way,
to pass away which such a peace.
than knowing that there is love for you to eternity,
until the last shred of this universe does cease.

312314_520400511315621_571169202_n

Sights of ‘The Sundarbans’

I had always longed to go on Forest adventures, jungle safari’s across the national forests and jungles of India. But i haven’t been able to do any due to various reasons, reasons which are more related to planning out the logistics, itinerary, availability of leaves than anything to do with financial viability. Many of these forests reserves and sanctuaries are spread out so far apart from each other, across the length and breadth of the country, it would be very difficult for one to plan an itinerary involving more than one of these at a stretch. It would take you a life-time for you to visit all of these forests.

The stories of Jim corbett and his encounters with the man-eaters, stories of adventures of other hunters have always fascinated me.  Stories of hunters perched upon trees in ambush and waiting for these man-eaters for days together.  Well i cannot afford to be that adventurous, but i just wanted to witness this majestic animal in full glory in it’s home turf.  Hence, when i chanced upon an opportunity which would make a visit to the ‘Sunderbans’ feasible being a part of our regular itinerary, with my wife Sushma,i did not want to miss it.

We had originally planned a trip of visiting Puri – Konark – Chilka lake, and then travel to Calcutta from there overnight for a sight-seeing tour of Calcutta for the next couple of days. However, we had to drop out Chilka lake from our plan and include a day trip to Sunderbans instead.

Photo from our visit to Konark on the previous day.

Photo from our visit to Konark.

There were several excellent reviews of various tour organizers like Tour-de-sunderbans, Sunderbans Chalo (http://sundarbanchalo.com/) in tripadvisor. There were several packages they were offering, ranging from 1-day tour to 2-3 days tour with an home-stay accomodation in Sunderbans overnight. Due to our tight schedule we had to stick on to one-day tour. Tour-de-Sunderbans had some logistical problems in arranging a one-day trip for us since there were less number of people for a day tour on that particular day. However, ‘sunderbans Chalo’ group readily agreed and arranged a day trip for us.

The day prior to our Sunderbans trip, we visited Dakshineshwar Kali temple, Belur math, the Howrah bridge and did some shopping in Esplanade and the area around New Market. Our hotel, ‘The Heera International’ was close to the Park street, right in the heart of the city. It was at a walkable distance from most of the central shopping areas.  The day was eventful, where we got to witness some unique sights of the city which makes it what it is. The metro ride, ultra-modern shopping outlets and restaurants along the park street showcase us the flecks of modernization amidst the narrow crowded streets, the tongawallah’s, compact little city-buses which are more or less just tin boxes with wheels, the trams, old dilipidated victorian buildings along the narrow gullies. Perhaps it is these images of such contrast which makes one love kolkata, the grand old city and the locals swear by their city.

The most memorable experience of the day for me was the boat ride across the Ganges from Dakshineshwar Kali temple to the Belur math. I had heard stories of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa swim across this river in order to worship Kali and i was awestruck as to how he could do it, looking at the magnitude of the breadth of the river.

 

Boat ride along ganges ( Hoogli) from Dakshineshwar to Belur math

Boat ride along ganges ( Hoogli) from Dakshineshwar to Belur math

 

A dog enjoying a swim in the river ... to beat the scorching heat

A dog enjoying a swim in the river … to beat the scorching heat

We settled in our room after a good dinner, which we had ordered to our room itself.  Overall, it was a satisfying and enjoyable day, however i had some apprehensions about the next day: How safe would be the trip to sunderbans, how trustworthy are these organizers and what kind of people would accompany us. My apprehensions were two-fold given that i would be travelling alone with my wife. I gave a call to ‘Sunderbans Chalo’ team and there was some respite. There would probably be one more couple who would be accompanying us on the trip.  This was a welcome news and i had a good nights sleep. I fully hoped that the other couple would not miss out on the trip.

The trip – 31st March 2014

——————————-

We woke up early at around 5 AM to get ready. I got a call at around 6 AM from the driver who was waiting for us. It was a green coloured Tata Safari, cozy and comfortable for a group of 4 people. The driver was a decent chap, did not speak much. Once we were in, we set off to pick up our companions for the trip, the second couple, Vipul and his wife. They were staying in an Indian oil guest house, a little far off from the city center. It seems Vipul worked for Indian oil and hence he was put up there. They too, like us, were relieved to see us, happy to know that they were not alone in the trip.

All set and all introductions done, we set off towards Sunderbans, southeast of Kolkata. Our gateway to Sunderbans was supposed to be a village called ‘Gosaba’, the last inhabited village in Sunderbans. However, we could see a few more small villages along the delta.

A few miles after we started from Kolkata, we were in the country-side. The road leading to sunderbans was mostly rough and worn-out in most of the parts with hardly any fully tarred, motorable road in the entire stretch. This is sad that the only accessible road to one of the world’s most famous landscape’s was in such a bad shape.

Sans the road, everything else was amazing.  You’ll see a common landscape all across the stretch until you reach Gosaba. Huts with thatched roof”s, small tables of water in front of each hut, with fields for cultivation alongside these ponds. These small private ponds form a source of water for the fields. These form of huts seem to be typical across the bengal country-side.

Huts of the local fishermen

Huts of the local fishermen

We reached Gosaba at around 10 AM. The gateway to the Sunderbans is not a very welcome sight. If you expect a cozy tourist information center, hotels, line of food stalls, private yachts, luxury boats …etc, you’ll be in for a huge disappointment. Forget any high-end luxury, this place lacks even basic amenities.

A narrow concrete road opposite a parking lot takes you to the dock. There were many steam boats here. We got into a double decker steam boat, hired by the sunderban chalo team for us. We were lucky that not many people were there for the tour on that day. It was just us, two couples, and we had the entire boat for ourselves. The driver came along with us.  They provided a modest breakfast for us in the boat, which consisted of a modest sandwich and banana.

The itinerary for the day was supposed to be as follows: We are three main watch towers in the forest, Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali and Dobanki. Dobanki is the farthest and deeper in the forest. We would reach Sajnekhali first, take a permission from the forest officers there and then proceed on-to Sudhanyakhali and later onto Dobanki and back to Gosaba to head back. A guide would accompany us from Sajnekhali. But it so happened, the driver later told us that we will have to miss out Dobanki since we reached Gosaba late, as it would be difficult for us to make it back if we went to Dobanki. He told us, he would instead take us inside into the mangroves into some canals interior, where the water levels are shallow and the chances of sighting a tiger is more.

A map of the Sunderbans

A map of the Sunderbans

Our steam boat and the pier leading to the boat .... at Gosaba

Our steam boat and the pier leading to the boat …. at Gosaba

 

Entrance to Sajnekhali watch tower

Entrance to Sajnekhali watch tower

 

Panorama of the sunderbans

Panorama of the sunderbans

Thus began our steam boat safari. This was my wife’s most favourite part of the trip since it did not involve any walking or running around. She could just sit in the comfort of a soft cushioned chair and enjoy the views around…. he he.  The boat started sailing along: for the first few minutes we were sailing along the banks of the village Gosaba. This gave us a few glimpses of the village life here: children running along the roads on the embankment, villagers commuting in cycles, typical village houses and there is a small boat docked alongside most of these houses.

The livelihood for most of the people along sunderbans is to venture deep into the forest to collect honey.  This is dangerous but this is what most of the villagers do for their bread and butter. There have been many instances of the tigers killing fishermen and honey-collectors here.

The tigers of Sunderbans are man-eaters. They are usually small in size compared to other tigers but are more fierce. There is lack of other animals in these marshy wetlands and hence the tigers have evolved into man-eaters and they often prey upon the villagers and honey collectors here. They are excellent swimmers too. They often swim across these mighty rivers from one island into other and sometimes into the villages. Hence the forest department has placed nets all along the borders of these forests, bordering the villages. You can see these nets along the forests when you are sailing through.

Net's placed along the borders of the forest to prevent tigers from coming into villages.

Net’s placed along the borders of the forest to prevent tigers from coming into villages.

All along these rivers and winding channels, you’ll see a lot of small boats and vessels belonging to fishermen and traders. All the fishing boats are similarly built. They are small, narrow and taper at the ends. Most of these boats have a temporary make-shift kind of shelter, a semicircular cylindrical object placed on the boat so that it can provide shelter. These fishermen and honey collectors, often venture into the forests for days together in search of honey and they carry along food, stove, cooking utensils and other ration along with them. Hence the necessity of these shelters on the boats.

A typical fising boat

A typical fising boat in Sunderbans

After roughly an hour to an hour and half of sailing along the forests and villages, we reached the sajnekhali watch tower. This is also a small forest guards outpost and you would need a permit and a guide accompanying you from here onwards. There is also a small museum here, which displays models of various animals in sunderbans forests, mannequins showing the lifestyle of the villagers along sunderbans ..etc. You get a very beautiful panorama of the sundarbans from the watch tower. The guide accompanied us from here.

Here onwards, the forest became even more dense and the rivers much wider. We started getting actual glimpses of the unique ecosystem of Sunderbans here onwards. We spotted various birds like Egrets, storks and also a few monitor lizards, though we were not very lucky enough to spot tigers in the tiger reserve!!

There were several smaller canals branching out deeper into the forest from the main river. We went into one of the canals branching out, the breadth of the river was much smaller here and the water was supposedly much shallower.

You can see typical images of the mangroves here, with trees having aerial roots all along, marshy land. The banks along the forests were muddy and slippery, and the water levels rising and receding due to tides was evident here.

There were stilt roots and sharp cone roots rising out of the ground all along.

Stilt roots typical to mangroves

Stilt roots typical to mangroves

Narrow winding channels

Narrow winding channels

 

Cone roots typical to mangroves.

Cone roots typical to mangroves.

Muddy flat ground along the river bank.

Muddy flat ground along the river bank.

 

An Egret

An Egret

A stork on the river bank

A stork on the river bank

Some birds on the river bank

Some birds on the river bank

A crane

A crane

A bird

A bird

 

A monitor lizard

A monitor lizard

We wound along many shallow canals inside the forest, lucky enough to see a few birds like Egret’s, stork’s ..etc for a couple of hours. We were hoping to see some crocodile or Ganges and Irrawady Dolphins which are indigenous to this place, but we couldn’t spot any.

It was post noon by this time and we had our lunch. There was a small cabin beneath the deck of the boat, which consisted of a couple of beds, a kitchen and a toilet. It was a nice cozy little place.  There was a cook along with the crew members of the boat. He had cooked some nice vegetarian fare for us. It consisted of rice, Dal, and a couple of different vegetables. The food was very tasty and i thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our next stop in the safari was Sudhanyakhali watch tower. After winding along many more canals, we finally made it to Sudhanyakhali by late noon. There was an abandoned military vessel docked here. There was a board here with all the details of the latest tiger sightings. A tiger was supposedly spotted here in the previous week as per the board. We were not lucky enough to spot any tiger here too. All we could see from the watch tower was yet another Monitor lizard.

After spending a few more minutes in the watch tower here, and in the park adjacent, we filled our bottled of water and header towards the boat again.

Then began the final leg of our safari back towards the Gosaba village. For a couple of hours again, it was the same sight of the mangroves, muddy river banks, trees all along with cone and stilt roots … but not even a slightest hint of a tiger, no matter how far we stretched our eye balls. These sights started getting a little boring to us by now.

Vipul, our companion, started making some animal sounds himself to drive away the boredom and keep us entertained. He said there were better chances of sighting at least a few crocodiles in one of the similar mangroves in somewhere in Orissa.

We sailed along for a couple of more hours and by now we were almost in the edge of the forest and some villages started becoming visible. Our guide got down in one of these villages along the way and we bade him good-bye and continued our journey.

From inside the boat cabin

From inside the boat cabin

We sailed for another hour before we reached Gosaba. There were evidence of severe tides this place experiences, from the sight of loose mud  walls almost cracking all along the river. We reached Gosaba, and by this time, the sun was almost setting in the Sunderbans.

We bade good-bye to this place heavy heartedly with all hopes that we would come back to enjoy this place once again, and hoping even more that we are able to spot a tiger at-least then!!! 🙂

The Kudremukh expedition

Preface
———-

I had a few vague memories of this place: of our trip to South Canara way back 12 years ago. But these were such strong images that one wouldn’t be able to delete from one’s memory so easily. A highway passing right on top of the mountain ranges with light green, moist, sloping grasslands on either side of the road. Patches of Shola forests at a distance forming darker shades of green. Right when your senses are completely dipped and soaked in all shades of green, your mind is jolted by a sudden contrast in colours. A sudden contrast in the landscape, which you wouldn’t expect.

An abandoned, ghostly township, right in the centre of the thick rain-forests. Huge mines, a large factory, rusted machinery, large industrial conveyor belts, railway lines to transport industry goods, an eerie silence with no humans around save a few security guards, who are watching over whatever is left of the wreck. Welcome to the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company. A huge mole on a beautiful countenance of these forests. How vicious must be the hearts of those men who thought of mining these hills for their own greed. On the flip-side, if there is an argument that these mines provided employment and empowered the locals, one would wonder how many locals were employed by this organization undertaken by the central government when even the security guards here were outsiders.

Hmm .. let’s leave this to perception, I’m now sketching my Kudremukh trekking experience in the following paragraphs.

1505258_844795545542781_2335209053246320804_n

The highway along the Kudremukh ranges.

1488044_844795698876099_1835872382522386418_n

The kudremukh grasslands ..

Day 1(7th Nov 2014):
—————————
Our itinerary for this expedition was as usual, over a week-end cramped between our busy work schedules and as usual, the nut-cases who were undertaking this expedition were myself, Jatin, Rohit, Preetam, Nagesh, Raghavendra and the kid in our gang, Aashit( Nagesh’s nephew ). We set off in a Qualis hired by us, and the owner of the Qualis Mr. Satish, was a decent chap, save a few instances where he lost his cool when the cashiers at toll booth took their own sweet time to give change for the toll charge. Murphy’s laws seemed to work perfectly here, whichever lane we took in every toll booth seemed to take the longest time to clear. The fact that he was the owner of the vehicle was a respite to us since he drove very carefully and gently throughout the trip.

The first leg of our journey was fun-filled, with all of us poking jokes at each other. Nagesh, compelled to being a little tight-lipped, just being a little extra careful so that he does not mouth any unwanted dialogues, thanks to the presence of his dear nephew. But he couldn’t help being a laughing stock, thanks to some of his dialogues that came out un-intentionally: Red light reflectors on the high way – danger zone( Don’t worry reader … only we understand the context of it.)

We took a break at the very famous Kottigehara junction ( I would take the liberty of calling it Neer-Dosa capital of Karnatka). The Neer-Dosa’s here are some of the best and we gulped down 7-8 neer-dosa’s in no time. After spending a few more minutes here, we set off again towards our destination. I was squashed in the middle seat of the car, with Rohit and Jatin sitting on either side of me, i wasn’t that lucky enough so that i could put my head on someone’s shoulder and sweetly snooze off…he he. I was too drowsy to realize how much time we took to reach the Balagal junction, where the mud-road towards the Mullodi village, which is the starting point for the trek, begins.

Day 2(8th Nov 2014):

—————————

This was the most eventful day of our trip and the day of our actual trek. We reached Balagal at around 6.30 AM on this day. While most people prefer taking a jeep ride to cover this stretch from Balagal to Mullodi, we being an extraordinary group of hard-core trekkers, chose to walk this distance instead. But this in a way turned out to be a good decision: there were several small streams flowing amidst coffee and arecanut plantations on either side of the road. The sight of these streams were a joy for us, not because we could play out there, but just that this provided an ideal spot to perform our daily rites.
Rohit dashed off immediately to the very first stream he saw and showed us how to do it … we followed him …. he he…. please don’t take it literally, i meant he just led us by example. He also whole-heartedly donated his water bottle to do the post performance ritual. I felt it rather much easier doing it in flowing water rather than using a bottle .. he he.

Hmmm, all lighter vein apart, now coming to some serious notes, we continued our walk towards Mullodi along the kachha road. Jatin and Raghavendra who did not prefer on doing the community ritual found yet another small waterfall alongside to brush their teeth. Once done, a few more minutes of walk along the craters of the winding mud road led us to Mullodi. The first house you get in Mullodi is the house of Mr.Sathish, who provides homestay and guide facilities for all those venture out here. We struck a good deal inclusive of guide, forest entry fee, food and homestay facilities with Mr Sathish.

10670166_844796575542678_8142580890656088334_n

The entrance to the mud-road at the balagal junction

1503851_844801525542183_6614134308455913571_n

One of the streams along balagal-mullodi road where we brushed our teeth …..

10609425_844801488875520_5208332912262941158_n

Our homestay..

Yet another up-hill stretch was visible from here. The herd of trekkers ahead of us seemed like a trail of ants creeping along. The up-hill stretch after Lobo’s house took us around 40 minutes to climb, immediately after which we get the very famous Onti-mara ( lonely tree) spot. You could say this is almost the mid-point of the trek. I was feeling happy thinking that i had completed some of the most treacherous parts of the trek, but was disappointed after our guide told us that we hadn’t seen anything as yet.

1888616_844800805542255_8068445198413238956_n

The Kudremukh Peak at a distance …

10384595_844800728875596_172064970933950768_n

The Gang at the open field near Lobo’s house … the peak in the background.

10805578_844801322208870_7365938642236282113_n

The first stretch of the trek …. path with all rocks and stones strewn around

10409220_844799762209026_205101186234993489_n

The onti-mara spot

The next leg of the trek for another around 4 kms consisted of flat grasslands, with some streams and valleys to cross. The view along this stretch is awesome, as you can see several peaks from here, with endless expanse of greenery, with varoius hues of green. You finally cross a valley to get into the hill which actually consists of the Kudremukh peak. The climb here become absolutely difficult and very steep. By this time we had over-taken many of the trekkers who were ahead of us. This stretch is a steep climb of almost around 60 degrees elevation for about a km. Many people preferred to return back from this point, having had a sense of achievement of reaching until here. We were determined to go ahead. Rohit and I were the first to reach the top of this hill. There was yet another trek of around 2 kms from here along the edge of the hill until the peak, which was almost level, with a small up-hill climb as we near the peak.
After having some peanuts offered by Rohit, we proceeded further. We did not want to wait for the rest of our gang who were way behind us.

There is a Church here built by the British here, which is now in a completely dilipidated state. We wondered how they managed to transport all the material and built a church at such a place. Our guide informed us that they managed to trasport all the construction material using horses.

1509700_844798312209171_2222205727179500682_n (1)

The peak

10806441_844797168875952_6111264509735539343_n

The dilipidated church close to the peak

1601060_844799522209050_7303433355213530385_n

The last steep climb of the trek

At almost the fag end of the trek, just before the last uphill stretch to the peak, there is a small stream. I and Rohit decided to rest a little here, this is when Rohit realized that he had lost his phone. He felt that it could fallen down at the place where we took rest and ate peanuts. He handed over all his stuff to me and started walking back to that spot.

In the mean-time i climbed up the last stretch and managed to be the first person in our group to complete the trek. The view from here was amazing the feeling was surreal. We were among the clouds. With this trek, i had managed to complete some of the biggest treks in Karnataka.

10696383_844798448875824_3538032667041474494_n

The last mile in the trek.

The others followed a few minuted later. Rohit had finally managed to find his phone at the same spot. We all sat on a rock along the cliff. There was no way for us to tell what was beyond this cliff. We didn’t even dare to stretch our neck and look beyond the rock we were sitting upon, which was almost on the edge of the cliff.

The rock on the edge of the cliff in the peak where we sat.

The rock on the edge of the cliff in the peak where we sat.

The climb down-hill was much easier. We did not take much breaks since we were afraid it might become dark until we reached the village below. We just took a small break at the onti-mara spot where we chatted for a while and as usual making fun of each other. Preetham dashed ahead of all of us since he had to head back to bangalore tonight itself and he also had plans of taking a dip at the Mullodi falls.

10354735_844796648876004_1163828188849291551_n

The Mullodi Falls

After the onti-mara break, we walked like mad until Mullodi village without taking any break. A piping hot cup of tea and some hot Bajji’s, we couldn’t have asked for anything more after such a hard trek non-stop downhill!

Mr Satish's house

Mr Satish’s house

Jatin gave is this crazy idea of doing another trek to Gangamoola next day. But, i guess that wasn’t a right time for proposing such an idea, when none of us could even feel our legs after such a hard day’s trek. When we reached our homestay, to our surprise, Preetham was still here, feasting upon his chicken and fish meal. He wouldn’t have missed this for anything, even the risk of missing his bus back home. After completing his feast and packing a bag full of red chilles for dowry, Preetham sought his way back in dark along the mud road towards Balagal, all alone in the night. After chit-chatting for somtime with the members of the family, a hot water bath, in a dimly lit mud walled bathroom with a huge oven placed in a corner, it felt like heaven. We played a game of UNO for sometime after bathing and the dinner was ready for us this time. After a sumptuous dinner along a camp-fire, we called it a day. None of us remember when we dozed off after we went and crashed into our beds.

My Flirtations with Poetry

A  beautiful rainy evening, with the pitter patter sounds of rain and the birds chirping in our backyard: the calm, the peace , add to it my wife getting me a piping hot cup of tea, the setting was perfect, nothing less inspirational to write a poem … here it goes ….

A light rain coupled with a cool breeze and the nice smell of wet sand;

A steaming hot cup of coffee and an unputdownable book on the other hand.

Such a lovely evening and add to it sitting alongside your wife;
No cliches attached — but these little moments are most joyous ones in life.

What a wonder these little situations can make, you see;
they make write poems even out of idiots like me… .

 … and at the same time i was trying my hand at some candid photography to capture the beautiful weather and setting and here’s a beautiful shot which describes the whole weather. The poem above forms a perfect tagline for the photograph and vice-versa the photograph aptly captures the essence of the poem above.

Photo1

The ‘Holi’ Ramayana

Sometimes what we start of as fun turn out to be so fatal. These unexpected incidents causing such fatalities turn out to be very good lessons for life and make us realise our drawbacks and identify our sensitivities and what we are allergic to.

I was having breakfast when i got a call from suneel asking me to come over and celebrate ‘Holi’, a revelry of colors. I knew my eyes were very sensitive to slightest amount of dust. They start getting wet and burn. I was totally careless about this fact until day. It was the same carelessness that caused this incident. I was smeared all over the face with water colors even before i could close my eyes tightly resulting in most it going into my eyes. Initially the burninng was light, though i was not able to open my eyes. I came back home and washed my face, but the burning started increasing even more. I thought i could sleep for some time so that i can forget the pain and it would have reduced by the time i get up. But how would i get sleep when my eyes themselves are burning. Even the eye drops i got from the nearest medical store wouldn’t work out.Finally, i had to go to the hospital. People around looking at me strangely and talking amongst themselves about our youthful mischief with snub and disregard rather than sympathy. I was looking like an african tribal.

There was a young journalist for Indian Express who was keeping the count of such fatalities, just to fill up space in her newspaper and not obviously out of any real concern for such incidents. I suppose she knew her facts and figures would not be of any help to the concerned people or the readers. It was, as i told, just to fill up the space. She approached me and asked how it happened. This was the first opportunity given to become famous (i was happy my name could come in paper atleast for this… i knew this was no reason to be proud of..ha ..ha). Suddenly a philosopher got into me, i happily gave all my details, name, profession, company
…etc. Started talking about the changed lifestyles of people like me, thier struggle and quest to acheive nothing…blah..blah.. and so on.

The young doctor, who had herself played holy ( It was evident out of her coloured hands…or it may even be out of washing the eyes of dozen of cases like me) started cleansing my eyes. She touched the Litmus paper on my eyes to test if acid was still present and cleaned until it was nil. I was releived when she told it is nothing serious and just ‘Internal neural congestion‘. I did not understand what she meant by it, but i was definite that nothing had happened and this disease must be in everyone if it was ‘just Internal neural congestion‘.

Though the article seems to be in a lighter vein, here are some tips to play holi and take care of your eyes.Not that i am very much enlightened by this incident and gained sufficeient knowledge to councel others…just some basic tips—

1) Take utmost care of your eyes, atleast until you die, though they are not fit enough donating to others, they are the most important external organ of your body.
2) Always play Holi with powder rather than water colours since chances of water going into eyes are most.
3) Always have Eye drops and other basic first-aid ready before playing Holi.
4) Say no to grease, turpentine, kerosene…etc and other Lubricants.
5) If color goes into your eyes, ask someone whose hands are not colored to wash your eyes.
6) Do not rub your eyes, just gently wipe your eyes with a clean cloth.
7) Do not use the same cloth again and again since they are already smeared with the chemicals and hence doing so would increase the burning sensation.
The newspaper article after the ‘Holi Ramayana’

Gratitude

This was probably my greatest day at work. “This is a wonderful Job… we are all hat’s off to you…you are creating an example for the others to follow”, this is perhaps the most sincere and touching commendation i have ever received. Sincere because her her tone suggested so and such intense and emotional words of praise, in the presence of all the Managers and architects were not just said for the sake of it…they were sincere. Touching because of,rather the bitter fact i came to know a little later, her intermittent illness for which she is often hospitalized. “…that’s why, She is very grateful to anyone for any kind of good work done or help she receives” is what i was told.

The other managers and architects followed her by praising me, but they were too obvious…artificial ofcourse. They had no other option but to support her. Anyhow, these moments were some of the greatest in my life. This made me realize how much we matter to the company and how much the company matters to us. It was very heartening to know that some people are so grateful even for the slightest help amidst scores of people who are not even bothered no matter how much you sacrifice to the company. It was also inspiring to know the amount of dedication and ownership they show towards the company and their work. At the same time there was a small spark of thought in some corner of my mind, “…and you want to give up all this and go in search of an unknown destine???”. Well, after this slight moment of elation, i came down to earth,the satan in me started dragging me towards reality,”Just leave all these emotions behind and think of moving ahead in life!!!”.

“Kiran, are you there in the call?”, this was the first question by her as soon as the meeting started the next time. The magnitude of trust and responsibility she has put upon me is immense. I really do not know if i am worth it, but i am certainly trying my best to measure up to what she thinks? After all, it’s just a necessary part of my job!!! I would never be able to forget this woman ever in my life…my project release manager.

All for the Love of Books…

‘Let’s see who finishes this page first…!!!’…these words brought in a sudden impulse in me and there the race began towards the final point. But this was a race of a different kind, it required not only physical agility but the ability to grasp the essence of the the track as well.

This was how the romance began, started off with Nancy drew kinds, slept with Agatha Chrities and finally was bold enough to even stroll along with Shakespeare likes. It all began when i was in my middle school, fourth or fifth standard. My friend was always good at it. He had a track record of an entire page within a few seconds and he could even grasp the content very well where as i could never make it within a minute.

Well, coming back to the romance, it took some drastic twists and turns along the way and even went up to the extent of committing a felony for the loved one:
The incident happened in my eight standard. Our love for books grew unprecedented, but we did not have enough money to hire or buy the one we had liking for and ride over it…oops…sorry…read over. My friend had a very brilliant idea, it seems he even tried it out once.

Location: HigginBothams at M.G Road.
Time: Monday noon. 3.00 PM It is least crowded around this time.
Target: Our favorite books.

So the plan set up and venue decided, we were there at the first floor of Higginbothams where all the Fictions, Non-Fictions, Science books and other general books used to be kept during those days. There was no-one in the entire book-shop except the cashier, a gaurd on the entry to the first floor hall and ourselves. There was absolute silence except the bustling traffic of MG Road in the background. The gaurd constantly watched us, since there was none other to look around. We assumed serious search and browsing around for some specific book so that the gaurd does not grow suspicious (Though we had already decided upon which book to take well in advance). After a long time, we were successful in impressing him upon that we were genuine customers and about to do some heavy purchasing. We chose atleast 4 to 5 books and carried it along all over the racks as if picking up some more. Finally i settled for the two books which i had intended to pick up originally (Hmmmmm …. i mean steal!!!). A book authored by Jim Corbett and another one by ‘Pustak Mahal’ containing high school science experiments were the ones i chose. I also picked one of those covers containing stamps ( I was not a regular philatelist, but just a result of one of those crazy thoughts that breezes across my idle mind now and then. I was always under the impression that such stamps available in those covers were genuine ones, but came to know later on that they were actually fake). Finally our plan being made we started off downstairs where the billing section is (as if we were going to pay the bill). We came out of the hall where the books were into a long verandah and an exit from here through another door to the stairs. Half-way down, the stairs take a 180 degrees swirl to descend the opposite side. Once we swirled along the stairs, we were out of sight of both the gaurd and the cashier, and the books were safely between our tummy and T-shirt. On our way out we wished him ‘Goodbye Uncle!!!’ in all our earthly innocence and he in turn bid us farewell with a gentle smile on his face (Little did he know that those nasty rascals were getting away with his books). Once out of the shop we were proud of our achievement. Hoodwinking the shopkeeper seemed so effortless, and those papers were unable to decide upon the greatest swindlers of the century.

Every dog has its day and we had ours, my friend who probably hadn’t taken this quote very seriously or just ignored it for another obvious cliché got caught by the shop-keeper the next day for the same act. The shop-keeper somehow left him after calling his parents and warning them. But they smelled a foul-play and brought out my part in the conspiracy and he had to reveal my name also helplessly. He was dragged to my house by his mother and made me confess the entire truth in front of my mother. My mother cried the whole night and i realized how much i had hurt my mother’s feelings by such an act of shame. The next day my mother took me took the book-shop and told me to confess my criminal act in front of the shopkeeper. Fortunately or unfortunately, the shopkeeper was my mother’s customer in the bank and knew her well. We paid for wahtever i had stolen and went back.

It has been been 9 years since and every time i meet my friend we laugh it off….anyhow, it was all for the love of books…