Hi. Thank you for calling Nevostele Bank, this is Roger. How may I help you ?

Yes, I am trying to transfer money online to my account with another bank, but I am repeatedly getting this message … …

Ranjan was no longer paying attention to the rest of the words the lady at the other end of the phone was saying. It had been so many years since he had last heard that voice. But he knew he would never make a mistake with recognising it. A million bees were buzzing in his head, creating countless drops of sweet, honey filled memories

In just those few seconds, Ranjan vividly recalled many many days and events of a three year period of his college life. A period that was now eleven years into the past.

What he really wanted to do right now was interrupt the caller and ask “Ninu, Tu Kaisi hai ?” ( Ninu, How are you ? )

….. ………. ……………. ……………………

Prabhakaran Kurup was sitting on the East verandah of his palatial mansion, reading the editorial page of the Financial Express. This had been his afternoon routine since many years now. He enjoyed his tea, along with keeping up to date with what was happening in the world of business. The breeze coming across the small pond made it all the more worthwhile.

The three people walked up from the southern end of the verandah. They came near his chair, and waited. A few moments later, Kurup looked up.

The one with the long grey hair looked at Kurup and nodded.
“Shall we go, Prabhakaran ?”
“Is it time already ? I still have a few things that I need to take care of”
“You have taken care of almost everything. You can relax now. Let others do their bit”

With a slight reluctance, Kurup got up. All four of them walked along the verandah, going into the house through the entrance near the prayer room. Just before going inside, Kurup looked back at the chair and smiled.

[Five hours later …]

Good Evening, and welcome to News at 8. I am Nazneen. The king of the Indian publishing industry, Prabhakaran Kurup passed away today afternoon.
He was found dead in a chair on the verandah, at his house in Delhi. The cause of death has been declared as natural. He was 86. He is survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and his extended family of around 3,000 employees all over the world. … …

The railway tracks were right next to the building where I was sitting. The afternoon breeze would bring in snatches of the pre-recorded voice of the train announcements. The announcer was informing everyone within earshot, of the imminent arrival of the 3:17 local to VT station, on platform number one.
Every few minutes, I could hear another train pass, probably carrying another big load of people to their respective destinations … offices, colleges, movie-theatres, their homes.
There was also the clamour of metallic noises from Balwant Auto Garage, on the street below. Mr. Balwant and his army of young, grease-covered mechanics used to be busy all through the day. At any given point in time, they had half a dozen cars being repaired simultaneously, for the wealthy elite from this predominantly middle-class suburb.

Thankfully, the weather was pleasant for this time of the year, considering that it was March and this was Mumbai. The fans above me were whirring away at a leisurely pace, circulating a little cool air around the room.

There were 26 people in the room, and at least 20 of them were teenagers. And even then, being surrounded by a cacophony of sounds, there was pin-drop silence inside that room. I guess the only reason for that being that all those youngsters, including me, were facing the first ever public examination of their life – and this was the first day of it. We were all busy writing the ‘English’ language exam, of the Maharashtra State Board S.S.C Examinations.

In such a scenario, I did not expect to be using such small benches & desks, and be cramped for space. From the size of the benches & desks in this room number ‘9’, I think this classroom was most likely used by students of Class IV.

The examination-centre that I had been allocated was one of the biggest high schools in this part of the city. It was also right next to the railway lines. I was 100% certain that the first field-trip that the students from this school got, was a visit to the Station Master’s office at the neighbouring Railway Station.

The railway announcements in the background were not exactly helping me do better in my exams. Even after all that, I should say I did decently well in those exams. Atleast nothing that I can complain about now … after all, here I am, dreaming about that day long gone, sitting in an apartment. An apartment which is half way across the planet, from the city where I wrote those exams.

Having bored you all more than enough, I will stop here, for now. Wish all of my friends & readers all the very best, for the “exams” that Life keeps throwing your way.

Have Fun, Enjoy Life, Be Happy.

This small little blog of mine will be setting its status to Away” for some time … maybe a few days, maybe a couple of weeks ( … hopefully not more than that ! ) A lot many things happening in the real world … so I need time to ‘run’ more, to be able to catch up with life.

Meanwhile all you people who have come here can read my previous posts …. maybe read some of my “Fiction”, and tell me what you think. Or feel free to read my old posts, from a few months back when I started this little blog.

And yes, thanks for visiting. Please keep coming back often. I will be back soon, with more stuff.

Finally, before I go, here is some interesting trivia about the movie “Cast Away” (2000)

I enjoyed the movie to some extent. I liked the concept where they made a whole movie with only one actor on screen for almost 85% of its duration. And Tom Hanks did full justice to the role – wonderful acting, and even going to the extent of losing lot of weight to get that ‘starved Castaway look

All right …. now, at the end of the movie, Tom Hanks goes & delivers the only package that came through unopened & undestroyed after his long ordeal out at sea – he delivers the ‘box with the Angel Wings’. Does anyone out there recollect that part ?

So,  the director of the movie, Robert Zemeckis was once asked in an interview what was there in that unopened package.

And … he replied that the package had a Waterproof, Solar-powered, Satellite Phone !!

Sitting on the bench, Dinesh thought to himself about how, after all these years, somethings were still the same here – the wooden benches, the swings & the slides for children to play, the open playground, the cement stage at the end of the ground – which was used by the town’s amateur theatre group. Dinesh went back to his school days – the cricket matches played on this ground, the annual Fair that used to be held here every Diwali, the plays staged by the local youths on clear December nights. He still clearly remembered the many summer afternoons that he spent lazing on the wooden benches under the big old shed, with his favourite comic-books for company. Those days, he could see his house from his vantage point on the bench. And his mother would always call out from the kitchen window, when it was time for him to go home.

Then, there were not many houses or buildings around. Now, the open plot of land was surrounded by new constructions on all sides. On one side was a group of  mansions. The other sides had multi-storey apartment complexes, with their high balconies looking down on the ground.

The only reason this plot had not been grabbed by any of the builders was because it was still at the centre of a legal dispute between the Desai family and the State Government. Both claimed ownership of the land, and their battle had been moving around from court to court – without any end in sight. The case had originally been filed by the Government against Maneklal Desai, when he had tried to sell the piece of land to a builder. Now, after his death, his son Vinesh was fighting to get back what he believed belonged to his father.

Dad, who threw the ball higher ? Didn’t my throw go higher than Sumod’s ? You have to decide now
Dinesh was brought back to the present by Pramod’s question. His seven year old twins were playing catch in the grass. He and his family had come down from Bangalore for two weeks, as the children had their summer vacations.

Since his mother was not keeping well, Dinesh did not want her to live alone any more. He had convinced her to come & live with them in Bangalore. Once his mother moved in with them, he was not sure when he would come back again, to visit his old home.

In the last 38 years, this playground had not changed at all. Dinesh hoped that the next time he came here, it would still be the same. He had so many wonderful childhood memories here.

He did not want to see a multi-storey apartment complex built on top of his memories.

Heres another of my all time favourite songs, which again landed in my media player playlist – the song “Tujhse Naaraz Nahi Zindagi…” from the Hindi movie ‘MASOOM’ (1983)

The song has been wonderfully rendered by Anup Ghoshal, to music composed by the great maestro, R. D. Burman.
And again, Gulzar’s lyrics are brilliant – not that a chota mota fella like me, with my limited knowledge of good Hindi, needs to certify Gulzarji’s work.

‘MASOOM'(1983) is a wonderful movie, directed by Shekar Kapur – the same Shekar Kapur who later gave us local & global hits like MR.INDIA, BANDIT QUEEN, ELIZABETH. ( & the same Shekar Kapur whose face became known to thousands of Indians after he was seen in an ad for Digjam suitings – in the old days of Doordarshan, before Cable TV, Star TV, Sun TV,MTV, FTV)

And yes, ‘Masoom’ is the same movie that introduced two budding actors to the world – Urmila Matondkar & Jugal Hansraj. Again, anybody who loved watching Chitrahaar on DD some time ago, would have seen the “Ladki ki Kaati” song atleast once. It was one of the famous “children songs” during my childhood 🙂
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Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi

Tujhse Naaraaz nahi Zindagi, Hairaan hoon main
O Hairaan hoon main
Tere Masoom sawaalon se Pareshaan hoon main
O Pareshaan hoon main

Jeene ke liye sochaa hi nahi, Dard sambhalne honge
Muskurayen to, muskuraane ke karz utaarne honge
Muskuraoon Kabhi to lagta hai
Jaise honthon pe Karz rakhaa hai
Tujhse …

Aaj agar bhar aayee hain, Boondein baras jaayengi
Kal kya patha inke liye Aankhen taras jaayengi
Jaane kab gum hua, Kahaan khoya
Ek aansoo chupaake rakhaa tha
Tujhse …

Zindagi tere gham ne hamein rishte naye samjhaaye
Mile jo hamein Dhoop mein mile chhaon ke thande saaye
O Tujhse …

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To listen to this song, you could go here to musicindiaonline and look for the song sung by Anup Ghoshal. I do like the female version of the same song, sung by the greatest of all, Lata Mangeshkar. But I just felt that, in this case, the male version has more ‘soul-touching’ capability.

By the way, have you seen this old & nice movie ?  Did you like it ? What do you feel about this song ?

THE   JUKEBOX   —  a  short  story

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He parked his car, checked his mailbox and opened the door to his house. He had been away from home for two days, catching up with an old friend and ‘colleague’ after a long time.

In all these years, Nick had never come home to a sloshy & wet carpet. And, he was certain that it had not rained in town for the last two months. After the door had closed behind him, he could now hear the water running. He hurriedly plopped over to the kitchen, where he saw the waterfall cascading over the edge of the sink. After he turned off the water, he got ready to appraise himself with the scale of the disaster.

He vaguely remembered some local rumor about a gang of robbers recently operating in the neighbourhood, who called themselves the ‘Wet Bandits’ – named after a similar gang from a hit 90s comedy movie

The 40″ LCD TV, the BOSE audio system, the three paintings that he had recently procured at an art auction – it was all gone. He opened the closet to check if the 3-CD changer mini-jukebox that he had been working on for a VIP client was still there. It had been taken too !!

Nick Gray was never a person to lose his temper. He always knew to remain calm in the worst of situations. It was a requirement in his line of work.

Even now, he knew that all his week’s worth of hard work had been wiped out by these petty crooks who had taken the jukebox. But it was all right. His client was paying him more than enough, and he could afford to work another week to make a similar box.

He sat down and opened his laptop. On his GPS tracking application, Nick saw a blue dot moving west along the I-40 highway. He took out a radio-like gadget from a box, extended up its antenna and after a brief pause, pressed the big button at the center. A second later, the blue dot disappeared from the screen.

The next day, Nick did not get a chance to watch the local TV news channel. On the morning news, they had mentioned a strange accident. An allegedly stolen sports car had suddenly blown up in a huge explosion, as it was travelling along an interstate highway.