Sunday, April 13, 2008

Of London, India and Tampa

All right, it's been 14 months now. I almost forgot the address of my own blog! It's an old playlist in my iTunes library that pokes me to revive my blog today. Being constantly tuned to music all the time, I have learned to associate music with things or times. Like Chameli songs always remind me of my initial days at my first job when I used work with those songs on. DCH songs always remind me of final year in college. It's strange how human mind works... isn't it? Ahem... although in my case, these days, it's the 'works' part that is more questionable than 'how' part :D And hence, I have no clue at this point what to write about :( This at least makes me go over past 14 months and I 'see myself' having fun with my sister's kids at home in India, driving back from Atlanta through the beautiful countryside, roaming around in London. As if I'm completely detached and I'm not 'me', somebody else watching over me. It's like I'm dreaming without sleeping! he he... either I'm actually sleeping or it's the Pink Floyd on my iTunes that's giving me these mind altering experiences. No, I'm definitely not on any kinda 'grass' on this Sunday's just the psychedelic rock ;)

Hell no...I can't pause at one scene.
The day I brought my first car home in Jul 07 or the day we had rocking cocktail party at my place. The camping at Myakka river or the Atlanta-Smokies trip or the fun at beaches at Miami and Key West.

And much more events - those I missed. So many of fellow comrades lost bachelorhood and fell prey to the mayajaal called marriage. Guddu, Psycho, Sandip, Kishor, Bole, NT, CM, Nikhil, Rahul, HarishB, Nattu and so many of my dearest ones. Their wickets were falling one by one like... of course Indian middle order batting lineup ;) And I wasn't there for them in their difficult times ;) I feel really bad :( I'm sure they're all very very happy being married... and tempt me to be. Nah, me is better away from all this for the moment - the grass on other side always looks greener :D But I hear less often from the guys than I used to. Well, I don't blame them...they're married after all and are supposed to 'listen' more than talk :D :D. I was just watching 'Before Sunrise' the other day (nth time :) ) in which Celine says "... as couples get older, they lose their ability to hear each other. Supposedly, men lose the ability to hear higher-pitched sounds, and women eventually lose hearing in the low end. I guess they sort of nullify each other, or something" - Nature's way of allowing couples to grow old together without killing each other :D

Anyway, If I have to talk about one thing in last 14 months, it's ought to be my one month vacation in Diwali 07 :)) Me on the loose for 4 weeks for the first time in 4.5 yrs after college... ;) So I drafted my itinerary and applied for UK visitor visa as I planned to stop in London on my way to India. London was beautiful.... only made my will stronger to wander throughout Europe for at least a couple of weeks. I remember the excellent croissant with eggs and bacon that I used to have in breakfast in Cafe Nero or some place. My foodie mind can associate anything from a person to a city with food :D and then I would hop on the open roof big bus circling through central London. Would get down anywhere, hop on and off. Walking by the Thames in evening was a pleasure I will cherish. The Harrod's was the most beautiful store I've seen, may be not as big as Macy's in NY but still very grand! I think Brit chicks are more beautiful than Americans ;) Number of Indians you see in tube stations at mornings is strikingly more than I had imagined. Spent some quality time with Nikhil there, almost 2.5 yrs after I left the Pune apt!

Then I landed in aamchi Mumbai :) Being on the roads was suddenly a scary thing. Cars, bikes trucks all honking, and me expecting people to signal before changing lane. Well....lane! Although I'm born and braught up in India, 18 months in US changed something in me... or so I thought. Just 3-4 days in India and I was on bike on streets in my hometown... honking relentlessly and crafting my way through narrow passage between truck and following state transport bus 'lal dabba' ;). Genes... you know :D :D
Wow! 16 days that I spent at home just flew by. The day would start with the tea and Diwali delicacies...served at my bed :)) and then loads of fun with my sister's kids. Compare that with me washing last night's dishes and preparing same lame toast and egg omelette before settling in front of my lappy on Sun morning here in Tampa :(
Visited lot of places in India and caught up with many of the folks. But still couldn't manage to make it up to lot of them :( Me and some 15 guys from my school visited the school after ten year, sat in the same classrooms and same desks, that was memorable. Went to Tirupati. Met Appya in Hyd, Guddu, Andya, Kadya, Suhas, Ashutosh in Pune, Bamman, Doc in Mumbai. Saddest part, of course, was when I had to board the Emirates flight from Mumbai...on the way back to Tampa!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Three months...

Boyy! It's been complete three months that I wrote somehthing on my blog. It's been so hectic in past few weeks that I couldn't even take time to visit my own blog :( Some respite is expected in coming weeks and I already got a much awaited break with this long weekend :)

So many things happened since my last post...

I enjoyed the Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends here
The year 2007 started...
I visited NY and met Appya
Simi came to US and went back
I watched "The Angrez" nth time :D :D

I moved to a new apartment

I visited Channelside for every other bollywood release
- Dhoom2 - Actually crap movie but still worked!
- Guru - Good one but too many flaws for a Mani movie!
- Salaam-E-Ishq - 210 minutes of torture. The judicial system in India could actually use this as an alternative to 1o years rigorous imprisonment :D. I slept for half an hour, went out and talked to a friend in India for 30 mins and went back in theatre - it was still going on :(
- Eklavya - Good and different one! I liked the "Chini Kum" trailor they showed during the interval. 63 yr old AB falls in love with Tabu who's in 30s. AB is doing some interesting and different kinda movies... I guess only written keeping him in mind!

I worked like a dog :(
(Kutte ki jindagibi to acchi rehti... Ismail Bhai in The Angrez )
I became a regular on cricket ground and managed to have some ;) respect in team as a bowler :D

I started working out and lost record 4 pounds in 15 days in Dec 06
( Well, Some great scientist (Einstein? ...nah! ) said " every action there is equal and opposite reaction..." I discovered he was close but not entirely correct. The reaction is opposite but not always equal.
I regained more than 4 pounds in last 5-6 weeks :D :D
(All guffaws be damned, I'm gonna start working out again!)

We actully had this "The year that passed by..." mail series on the DL of my college friends (like last year
Lemme put it in a seperate post.
And NY trip highlights in another one :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

If looks could kill...

If looks could kill....she would've wiped out an army ;)
Thmubs up! Casino Royale is rocking movie and Eve Green is real cool :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The inComplete Man - 2

[Continued from ]
Apoorv did not get a booking for a train to home on the same day as other folks from his hometown and eventually Purva too had decided to leave a day later for some reason. By 12 midnight, they had bid adieu to almost all folks and were left with few guys on the road in front of library. And, for the Nth time, somebody brought up the topic of "future plans". Everybody had plans. Rohit was already placed with an IT firm and was going to be back to Pune after vacations.
"So, I'll keep dropping in here and keep guiding the juniors for their final year projects ;)" - Rohit announced.
"Ohhh..." Everybody exclaimed, knowing whom he was interested in guiding.
"Rehne de rehne de, kaam kariyo apna waha pe, company se bhi GPL mil jayegi nai to. Usse se to mil hi chuki hai :D" - People started pulling his legs.
"I'm gonna assist Papa in business." - Engineering had always been a 4 yr long vacation for Jeetu.
"My GRE classes will start in July at Visu in Hyderabad. Nov se pehle GRE de hi doonga." Apoorv had been busy all the thru' the finaly yr building his vocab and was keen on doing his MS in network security.
"I'll definitely bell the CAT this Nov. So I'll be back to Pune. yupiee... Pune tithe kay une? ;) I need to decide on whihc branch of CF to choose for the classes though" - Purva declared. IIMA was the dream institute for her and she was all geared up to better her score from earlier attempt of CAT.
"Are bas karo yaar, pakau giri...tell me who all are coming for Shilpa's marriage next month" Medha complained. And the discussions went on. Folks got back at respective hostels only by 3 AM.
Apoorv had been tossing in the bed for whole morning. "Is she really "the one" for me? But will she even accept me as a life partener. She seems to like me...but she never talked about this thing. Do I even need to think of this now? What if she's not been thinking of this, what if she throws a sterotype "Oh, I've only considered you as a good friend of mine always"? I don't wanna be a looser. She must be thinking of this....let her indicate something and then I'll take my step forward"

Apoorv and Purva had most of the day to spend together. They met at mama-ki-tapri as usual the next morning for break-fast. Deprived of sleep , his eyes looked reddish and face gloomy.
"Campus pe aakhri din bhi nahaya nahi kya? :P" Purva was in usual teasing mood.
"Khud ke jaisa samajha kya sabko?" He tried to lighten his own mood.
The Poha plates were finished with unsual slience today.
"Aur?" She just tried to break the silence thinking - "Duffer, it's the last day, say something!!!"
"Bass, will leave this campus forever today, feeling very giddy". And they went on talking about the funny things on campus and what they will miss. She never could give an explicit indication and he never found courage to broach the topic. The feelings were mutual...but they never quite managed to express.

And they bid good bye to each other promising to "keep in touch".Phone calls continued for few months, then emails and forwards became the only means of keeping in touch. One day, he recieved an email about her engagement. "Only a mail....she could have given a call at least" he kept wondering even though it was too late for him to talk anything.
"Mail padhke call nahi kar sakta tha??" she kept thinking.

After 7 yrs.

After working at few other locations for different clients, Apoorv had moved to Chicago and it was just a week he shifted to this apartment. On the halloween day a group of desi and videsi kids stormed the apartment. Doing "trick or treat" and collecting chocolates and goodies in their bags.
"Is this halloween getup or you're like this generally?" He was stumped by a cute 5 yr old girl in a way similar to that first day on college campus.

And the second day, he spotted the same girl holding hand of Purva in the nearby WalMart. Life had come full circle for him. "Still preying? ;)" Purva quipped on his bachelorhood when they sat down in the StarBucks cafe. "Waiting for the best one :)" He replied to her, but had actually intended to say "the second best that is.....".

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The inComplete Man

"As an outsider, what is your view about homo sapiens?" (A wicked grin on her face and a wave of laughter in the hall followed)
Such was the rivalry between Apoorv and Purva that She could have rarely missed a chance to embarass him in front of all the profs and students in this QA round Mr Engineer contest.

"Whatever it was earlier, Looking at you today makes me feel that they are on their backward journey towards apes in evolution".
He blew away the nasty delivery to the boundary with charm.
Humiliated and embarassed, she actually felt for a moment that something was wrong with her face today which otherwise had an impeccable record of keeping his eyes glued at. Apoorv had fallen for her the very first day he saw her. Sitting at the mama-ki-tapri infront of the college, his eyes fell on this heavenly figure one day. She had all the features of his dream girl - tall , fare with rarefied skin that gave her face that wonderful enticing glow. The long silky hair and kaan-ki-bali gave her a truely beautiful and unique look in the crowd of Jeans and Ts.
Trying to take in as much of "EyeTonic" as possible ;), he had fumbled & picked up her notebook instead of his while paying at the counter. She too was, at first, impressed by the way he was carrying himself in the tapri. Somehow, she thouht of this act as an explicit attempt and snapped back at him saying
"Is there any special occasion today or you always show such stupidity?".

That day onwards, their paths crossed innumerable times in the campus, but everytime they ended up barking at each other. He would follow her face everywhere. He was like

"I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping"

in full Aerosmith style ;) Once she found him at the door of reading room only waiting for her to come out.
And she burst out with disgust "Oh, my god".
"You can call me Apoorv (instead of calling god)
- equally irritating was his reply too. However, irritating and baffling his actions were...he appeared to be charming at times and it used to keep her thinking about him. Her roomies at girls hostel would find that faint line of smile on her face, while she would be standing alone on the corridor on a clement winter night.

[Caution readers : author taking here the superfast bollywood route ;)]

Slowly but steadily, his deewanagi started paying off and she started to melt. Like you fiddle with spoon the just-out-of-freezer hard ice cream in a bowl and it melts smoothly with passage of time.

[Okay, author is pathetic at metaphor :D].

By the third year, they were "good friends" and went on to become "best friends". Every hostel function would carry a few fishponds on them. Otherwise the livewire of the group, he started keeping aloof with the boys' hostel group. They started abusing the free text messaging service of BPL mobile ;). Sitting in lectures, doing practicals in comp lab with one hand (and smsing with other), or eating in the mess- they always had the intelligent-fluid-crispy and sometimes tangential to dil-wil-pyar-vyar conversations going on. So much so that, at times, she would hit the "A" button on computer keyboard twice to type "C" in the try-catch block in comp. programming labs :D. Watching action flicks with his gang was no more his favourite timepass. They were being spotted at Vijay, Alaka or Mangla for the romantic comedies like"Laws of Attraction". And would analyze the laws of attraction betn them, standing alone in hostel corridors. Apart from the natural young male-female bond between them, she had also emerged as the ultimate spiritual guru for him. After his Mom, she was perhaps the only female in his life to whom he would talk about each n every negligible or significant thing on earth and in his life. Fortunately ( or unfortunately as he would think of it) they din't immerse completely in this ishq-ka-samundar and went on clearing each academic year. Except when she had flunked twice in theory of computing and he had spent his night-out for her subject isntead of his paper thenext day. Thus they reached that ultimate "zindagi ka mode" where they were about to graduate and hence would be no more on the same campus. This was as if the cornerstone of their strange relationship - they always believed in enjoying each other's company for the momentand would never talk anything about their relationship after college days. Eventually, all the departmental farewell parties and hostel GPL ( G$%d Pe Laath) nights were over. And then suddenly they arrived at the inevitable moment of seperation. Taking stock of all the fun and the glorious 4 yrs stay on campus, writing those slambooks...sometimes mechanically with no emotions and sometimes with giddy hearts, they din't quite knewhow to take forward this relationship of theirs. Nobody talked anything...and eventually they were venturing out on their own seperate ways. The last night on campus was spent with all folks. They were sitting on the road in front of library the whole night, singing songs and recalling some of the golden moments. That night most of the Qualis and Sumos started moving out of the campus. Vehicles with loads of suitcases and folks with loads of emotions....

[Author weeping over last-day-in-college memories now. Bookmark the link for the second part of the ishtory. Sequels ka jamana hai bhai!]

(Dedicated to Appya, for it was his inspireshan that I thought of writing fiction on my blog for the first time)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gupta is leaving Chennai....

As Appya has put it, "Finally Gupta's tryst with Chennai is ending" (A tryst he's having with a soul in Chennai might as well continue in Pune and even blossom :D. Ahem...that's a different ishtory...ishtory ke ishtart maich divert ho re apan, back on track now.) I'm sure he's going to enjoy in Pune as well...such a jolly person he is. We (Me, Gupta, Appya, Mridu, Bhau, Khobra, Psycho, Saket) had made this "Maitri" apartment in Chenani as our second home over last 2-3 yrs. And then there were NRMs (Non Resident Maitriites) like Tiffy, Nandini, Rajesh and Bikram ;) Everybody's moving on now. Me and Appya came to 'amrica', Mridu n Nandini got busy wid their married (with each other! ;)) life. And now, Gupta is leaving too.
For the initial months in Chennai (when I was put up in guest house) I had never thought that I will miss those Chennai days ever. And used to lament about being away from Pune. But now, sitting here in Florida, I do miss those Chennai days. Solely because of the the wonderful and enigmatic life ishtyle we followed in Maitri. Each one of us beign a "character". As I've written earlier in this post, Psycho is a character worth a study of life-time ;). For khobra, sleeping was the second best pleasure on earth. (No, you perverts...the first one was chatting in yahoo rooms :D) He would alwasy keep his ass facing the roof...easy to kick for us :D. Working in an IT tech solutions company, Bhau was called the call centre boy , for he would be on his cell phone 24x7!. And as Psycho puts it "after God their is Gupta" ;) Gupta really carries that charming persona...and delivers crispy dialogues with great timing. I left Chennai in a haste and hence did not get time to take stock of the things. Gupta's leaving Chennai and that made me nostalgic. I will definitely cherish those memories for life time. I will always remember Gupta's special chai on those lazy Sundays. Those visit to Mridu n Nandini's place and food we got to hog :D. I remember scribbling about one such visit. The new year parties at home...birthday parties in some rocking pubs like Bikes n Barrels and Savera.
Waise, I would not prefer to go back to Chennai. But for some strange reason, I hope we all get back to Maitri in Chennai sometime in future - Sipping either Aavin's lassi or Gupta's chai, jogging to the thiruvanmiyur beach with Psycho, pulling Psycho's legs and kicking Khobra's a$$, playing galli cricket on road in fron or take badminton lessons from Bhau and line marofying same-wali-aunty :D. Who knows this could ever happen or not. As kishor da has sung in his eternal voice "Jindagi ke safar main gujarr jate hai jo makaam.....wo fir nahi aate. Wo....fir nahi aate". But I do wish so...and that's what signifies ...

PS: Go thru' Appya's take of the Chennai ishtory here :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

So Close...

I had never felt so close to... death! Whatever be the facts - that I was having a life jacket on, I could hit the ground with legs (so water wasn't that deep) or I managed to hold the rope around the raft which I was loosing (and it seemed like 'the last straw' for me). Mainly coz of the fact that I could possibly compete with only an african rhino in a swimming ;) Swimming in the grade 3 rapid wouldn't have been easy even for a swimmer anyways. And the only near death experiences I had earlier were - managing to sit through physics lecutres (2 hrs non stop!) of Prof Mane :D. The Pigeon River runs through the scenic Cherokee National Forest in East Tennessee and offers one of the more exciting whitewater runs in the southeast. It has grade 2-4 rapids and is controlled by a hydo-electric plant. Incidentally, it was me who raised the query "Will this be able to float 181 (176 +5) pounds?" for the life jacket in the briefing session before starting. And it did :) 176 + 5... coz, I still cant digest the fact that I've gained 5 pounds over the 176 pounds after coming here to Tampa (though I happily digest even the gator tail and things like this which are responsible for this + 5 :( )

Me & Sudesh had volunteered (had talk colloquially ;)) for being the lead persons for paddling and hence were sitting in front. Wow! it was so wonderful and thrilling. It was real cool when cold water splashed across our raft in the first rapid. We just had to paddle through the rapids to maintain the direction. After passing through first few rapids we got into a slow patch and I decided to relax a little. It was then that we again entered and grade 3 rapid and a big wave thrashed our raft. Sitting on side of the raft, as I tried to peddle through, I tumbled and fell backward into water. Somehow, could catch hold of the rope going round the raft. And the drama started. Everybody on the raft panicked. The guide, who was sitting at other end, staretd shouting on other members - "Give the damn paddle to him...sit tight..." (He later told us the reason for shouting. In one of his recent trip, every other person fell down and he had a touhg time pulling them back!). The raft is made up of very durable, multi-layered rubberized fabrics with several independent air chambers and generally has a rope running round it. While falling down I had somehow managed to hold this rope with one hand. Gosh, when I think of it now, nothing seems very clear, everything happened so suddenly! In the moments of falling off the boat, I guess, I was not at all feared. It was kinda thrilling and I thought "Okay, I'm just falling off the raft". Now, since I was hanging from the front side of the raft, I started going below the raft. It being a grade 3 rapid, the raft was moving fast down the stream. As Instructed, Vipul offered me the other end of his paddle to hold. It seems I kinda tried to grab it from him and it fell into water! By now, my grip on the rope was getting weaker and I was hitting rocks at the bottom. As the raft was tryong to travel above me, It became difficult for Sudesh and Natraj to have a grip on me or my jacket to pull me up. I started tasting the Pegeon water and it was then that all the thrill went away and I started loosing hope. For few moments at least, I said to myself "mamu, tera chaptar khatam" (Ever heard the hindi slang " fat ke 74 ho gayi.." :D ) May be because of the fact that I was under water, I was not able to hear my fellow team-mates' voices. It was like they were coming form a remote place or rather I was going away from them...from all the surroundings. And I thought I am dying! I was literally scared-to-death. Meanwhile, I they had managed to catch hold of my life jacket. It was then easy for Natraj and Sudesh to pull me up. The next moment I clearly remember was - I was lying on the raft , face down. The funniest part was that I was holding my paddle all through those 1-2 minutes in water!. God knows why... as if I were gonna paddle and float with help of it :P.

The same day, we had one more near death experience. This was a different one though - the skycraper ride! The rush of the wind, the instant flash of the chairs whistling by and the thrill screams overload your senses as your heart starts pounding and you anticipate how it will feel when it is your turn. Turn to flip upside down and plunge headfirst 10 stories only to swoop up again in a 360 degree arc! The camera fitted on the chair records all the action on you face and relays it on a tv near the counter. Watching those vidoes was even funnier, esp. Prasanna's :P. Earlier that day, this guy presented the "smoky-hypothesis" with such a guile that I actually started thinking on, for a moment though. Ab kiske baap ko pata why Smoky mountains are called smoky ;). If you are interested in knowing the smoky-hypothesis- "A special kinda grass is found on these mountains. Inhaling this grass gives a smoking cigarette. and some more crap on these lines. Hence the Smoky mountains...".

The next day, walking the 2.5 miles trail through thick woods and by sides of the beautiful creek to reach Abrams falls was awesome. is not exactly an ideal place to talk about the barbecue night we had at the cabin ;). All in all, Smoky trip was great fun - thanks to the folks in the picture above :)