December 2006


I don’t gamble much, I don’t buy lottery tickets at all.

I do not take part in those lucky competitions where you enter a code from the cap of your cola bottle, at a website – to see if you won yourself (a) the Grand Bumper prize of a Toyota Camry or (b) an iPod  or (c) A year’s supply of your favourite cola (well, here the cola company does not know that the only reason you purchased this particular cola is because the office vending machine had run out of your favourite brand)

And one of the reasons I don’t do it is … … the many occasions that I have tried in the past, I have never won. I have even lost a friendly bet of a pizza-treat, on a cricket match, betting for India to beat a weak team like Zimbabwe and that too with the match being played on Indian soil ! Things couldn’t possibly be much worse than that.

But yesterday, this incident happened. And it reinforced my belief that if you try doing things for others – if you try making others happy, you will become happy. Like the wise man says, ‘What goes around comes around

So, the story goes … many months ago, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was filling out these silly competion entry-forms on the last few pages of a Bollywood gossip magazine. Some may ask as to who actually buys gossip-magazines these days … isn’t everything and a lot more available on the internet and on TV ! True, but I had bought the pakka Bollywood magazine just for the sake of nostalgia 🙂

So, there I was, sure that I was not going to win anything … not even the consolation prize of the funny shaped, small FM radio player. And after putting in the answers to the movie trivia questions, I was filling in my details.  After writing my name & address for the first competition, I thought “Hey, given my lucky stars, I will never win anything anyway”. So, why not write somebody else’s name in there and see if it changes the luck. And thinking this way, I filled out my cousin’s name & address, posted back the competition forms … and forgot about it. Didn’t even mention this to my cousin, or to anyone.

And then yesterday, I was chatting with the same cousin (of course on the net, via Messenger)  The topic switched to food, and I asked her what was the menu for dinner. Then she told me this incident where she had received a parcel from the same movie magazine, saying that she had won the 2nd prize in some silly competition. And the prize was a “Multi-purpose Food Processor” of some famous brand.
She said she was initially afraid to open the parcel, saying how could she have won it, she doesn’t even read that magazine – even though the name & address were 100% correct on the parcel. Anyway, now she has been using the same in her kitchen for some time and she said it was good.

I have not yet got around to letting her know that my trivia-answers and her luck was behind it all.  I will tell her someday soon. For now,  I am happy that my silly magazine proved to be of some good use for someone 🙂

Saket was among the first handful of passengers checking in for this flight. The reason he had come so early was – excess baggage. He thought that being among the first to check-in would give him some leniency.
He was going back to India after more than 2 years. He surely had to take back stuff to give to everyone near & dear.
But today did not seem to be his lucky day. The lady at the airline counter politely told him that his check-in baggage was well over the allowed limit.  He was told to either dump his excess baggage or pay the astronomical charges.

He got down to discarding items one by one – 4 Kg of the loveliest Belgian & Swiss chocolates – bought for all his relatives & friends; 4 six-packs of the “aloe cream” moisturising beauty soaps – Madhuri (his colleague) had suggested these as the best item to give to all his Aunts & his cousins – “Ladies always love these wonderfully fragrant ‘foreign’ soaps” she had said, speaking from personal experience of just a few months ago. The soaps weighed another 3 Kg. And then he threw away a few more things which he now had to classify as ‘almost useless’. He checked the weight of the bag again on the nearby weighing-machine, in a corner of Zone F – Terminal 3 at the Heathrow airport.
It still was a little excess. This was what he feared would happen in the worst case – his favourite 2 pairs of jeans had to go. One of them had been his ultimate lucky pair of blue LEEs – they had been with him through thick & thin and scratches & tears since the 2nd year of Engineering (which was now 12 years into the past !)
Finally, his baggage back within prescribed limits, check-in was complete. 3 hours later, Saket was high up in the sky, and he had finished eating whatever little was edible from the flight-meal. A few more hours, and he would be in his beloved city. Everything else should be smooth sailing now, he thought to himself.

He caught a glimpse of the video screen of the gentleman sitting next to him … and lo! behold … he saw that “Katha“, one of his all-time favourite movies was being shown on one of the in-flight channels … the old Farooque Sheikh hit. He loved the movie and could sit through any number of re-runs of it. He quickly pulled out his seat’s remote and tried getting his screen ON. But nothing happened – not even a grainy flicker on the screen. After a few pointless minutes of tinkering, he found what the cabin-crew member later confirmed – “I am sorry, sir, but this is one of the few screens on this plane that we have not been able to repair“.  He asked if there was anything they could do about it. They said there was no way to repair it till the flight reached Mumbai. And – “Sorry Sir, no other empty seats. The flight is completely full – Christmas rush, sir“.

Now he thought to himself “Well, nothing else to do – I might as well catch on some sleep then“.  In a couple of minutes, Saket was almost asleep, starting to dream about Mumbai, and about his wonderful school days. That was when the baby in the seat behind him thought it a proper time to end her nap. She announced that to the whole flight by crying as loudly as possible. There was no way the baby wanted to keep quiet. Her parents were trying all means to pacify her, but no success.
Eventually, Saket did fall asleep, only because he was so tired after such a hectic day.

And somewhere in his head, he could still hear the sound of his ‘semi-astrologer’ friend repeat the same words over and over, “Postpone your travel by one day. 13 is not at all a lucky number, especially for you. Don’t travel on the 13th !” 

He had not paid any attention to it — that was all rubbish he had said. Well, maybe it was rubbish … or, maybe it was not. 

To Could May Be Continued

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Coming soon, at an internet browser near you – “Travel Travails :  Home Run”

Happy Holidays to all of you.

Wish all my friends, blog-mates and all your family & friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I plan to go out there in the real world and have fun this holidays …
1. Make myself more happy by making all those people, whom I love, happy
2. I should have dinner together with everyone in the family
3. Am thinking about going and watching the funny, cheerful movie “Happy Feet”
4. Plan to drink and be merry – I still need to decide though what to drink – Coffee ? Coca Cola ? Cocktails ?
5. I intend to say “Merry Christmas” to the next 5 strangers I meet, when I go out for dinner tonight.

I may or may not do all of the above. But then … finally its about having a nice time … and not about sticking to schedules & time-tables – after all its vacation time 🙂

Have fun, take care, and see you on the other side of this weekend … or possibly on the other side of New Year’s Eve 🙂

I ran with all the energy I could muster … I did not want to miss the bus and be late in office. Bus route number 388 came only once every 22 minutes. If I missed this, I was sure to be late. Plus the college crowd will increase by then, drastically reducing the possibilities of me getting a seat in the bus.
I made it, just as the bus was pulling out of the stop … I was the last to board the bus, just behind “Miss Bookworm”. ‘Miss Bookworm’ was my nick-name for the girl who also caught the same bus daily. She gets off just 2 stops before my destination. She probably works for the big TV channel who have their office near the stop where she alights — after all she looks every bit the creative & artistic type. And, she is always reading some big fat book. Even if she does not get a seat, she would lean against the side of one of the ladies-only seats and soon get lost in her book.

Wonder if she has some nick-name for people. Maybe she thinks of me as “Mr. Walkman” 🙂 – always having the earphones plugged into an old, ancient SONY Walkman.
She sat down in one of the last few vacant seats. I luckily got a seat next to “Temple Uncle”. Uncle smiled at me, I smiled back, and as always, Uncle brought out his religious-discourse book and started reading.

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Today there is a huge crowd at the bus-stop … much more than usual, and not just the usual faces. Wonder whats wrong with the bus service ?
“Excuse me” said the voice, and I jumped, surprised by the sudden-ness of the sound. “It seems the B.E.S.T bus employees have called an indefinite strike since today morning. No buses are running, and there is no point in waiting any longer” said Miss Bookworm – and she was talking to me.
She continued “We could catch an Auto and share the fare. Are you interested ?”
“Sure. If the bus is not going to come, why wait. Lets go”. And then, in my grand, baritone voice I hail an auto – ok, I did not have to call out, the auto was standing right there, with the idea of minting money at the cost of us poor bus-passengers.

She does work at the TV office, but nothing very creative about her work. She is in their legal department. She said their department had some agreements & other usual legal documentation to take care off. And once in a while, when there was some celebrity threatening to sue the channel about some defamatory news-item, they had to do the necessary research to keep things under control.

And, she thought that software engineers (like me) did not do much at work, apart from spending most of the time net-surfing (how can she make such silly assumptions! ) All this and some more — part of our conversation in the 45 minute auto journey.

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All my usual lunch mates are on vacation. I am sitting alone in the big restaurant, where we go for lunch only on Fridays. I still decided to come over here, as I did not like today’s menu in the office canteen.
Then, I see her enter … she has her book in hand, and is looking around.
She sees me, smiles, pauses and then walks over to my table. “Can I join you ? Or are you waiting for somebody ?”
“Sure, sit down. No, I am only waiting for somebody to take my order” (bad attempt at comedy … she didn’t even smile)
“Do you come here daily? I have not seen you here before. Isn’t this a little far from your office ? I come here often, especially when I want to have lunch alone, with only my book for company”

She would have gone on talking, had the waiter not interrupted.
“Ek Veg. Biriyani”, I said. “Ek Mosambi Juice”, and then looking at me, she said “Every Friday, I eat only once – for dinner. I do it both for my religious beliefs and for health reasons too”.

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“Ek Veg. Biriyani. Nahi … nahi, ek minute. 2 Mosambi juice. Haan .. bas itna hi, aur kuch nahi”
Turning around, I say, “From today on, I also will fast on Friday. If my wife is still doing it, how can I continue eating”
“Well, if you could eat lunch with me here, every Friday, through 3 years of marriage, why not continue. Why the sudden change of heart” she jokingly asks.
“Arre … better late than never. Anyway, I should do it for health reasons, before I get too much ’rounded out’ ”

I ask her, “Do you remember the first time we ate here? Well, that was the day I felt that you were the one – the person to be my soulmate for the rest of my life”

And still it took you almost a year to tell me that. Plus all the countless bus-trips, a dozen odd movies together, couple of bowling-alley visits and even the one-day Matheran trip. I was beginning to feel that you might not even mention it. You know what, guess when did I fall in love with you

“Ok, go on .. tell me … when ?”

The day of our first auto-ride together. And do you really think I used to come to this expensive restaurant regularly – you must be joking. I had come to know through my neighbour Anjali, who was your colleague then, that you came here every Friday – and that most of your lunch-mates seemed to be on vacation that particular week.”

” …………. and yes, Happy Anniversary

Well, I would certainly like to be one … if not for anything else, but just to see how it feels to be one 🙂
Lets see where life takes me, where I take myself and if I do become a millionaire, either by sheer hard work (?) or by winning a lottery / gameshow.

I have been lucky enough to have seen 3 versions of the gameshow “Who wants to be a Millionaire” …

The British version hosted by Chris Tarrant, on ITV ( which is also supposed to be the original version )
The American version hosted by Meredith Viera, on ABC
The Indian, rather Hindi version, hosted upto now by the “Big B”, Amitabh Bachchan.

Actually I have also seen a couple of episodes each of the Tamil & Malayalam shows which were based on this concept … and I felt they were boring & not upto the mark

In terms of holding viewer attention and keeping the TV viewer interested, I think the best was surely the Hindi version.
No one like the Shahenshah of Indian film industry to entice the public – to forget everything else, plonk in front of the TV for 1 hour and watch a quiz show.

And, now, I would like to see how the “Baadshah” takes over this show from next month. It will surely be interesting to watch Shahrukh Khan as the host.

Coming soon on an idiot-box near all of us 🙂  …..  Kk … KKkkk …. Kaun Banega Karodpathi !
 

He stood there, at the end of the small garden. He was gazing in my direction, standing still. I also stood there almost frozen … frozen on seeing him and almost frozen by the bitter cold on this winter morning. And when I took a small step backward, he darted off. He raced through the garden, over the humble fence and was into the neighbour’s backyard … all in a matter of seconds.

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It was the start of another cold December day. Half the people at the client’s office were on vacation. Just a few blokes like me who were not going anywhere far off for the Christmas holidays. I had just finished breakfast at the small family-run hotel where I was staying, and stepped out to be on my way to work.

And then seeing this squirrel in the garden brought back so many memories of the years past.
It took me to my school years, which was the last time I had seen squirrels at such close range — during summer vacation trips to my native place .. “The Summer of 79 … ~~ those were the best days of my life~” 🙂

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It used to start with the wonderful 2 & 1/2 day journey all the way down south, courtesy Indian Railways. Like they say, there is as much fun in the journey as there is after reaching the destination … snacks, card-games & board-games, making new (but temporary) friends on the train, the sibling-fights to sit at the window seat

After reaching the ancestral family home, it was bliss. The most peaceful, happy, lazy days … time spent doing nothing, but still doing so much & enjoying. And all this getting a break from the dirt, heat and fast life back in the big, buzzing city.

Waking up in the morning at your own will … to the beautiful sounds of so many different birds. (All right … it was not exactly waking at your own will … all the kids were to wake up before the maid on the early morning shift came to clean all the rooms. And, I have heard bird sounds in the city too … but that was mostly only crows fighting)
To see all the squirrels darting across the courtyard, over trees. And occasionally on very early mornings, we even saw foxes, from the nearby hills, running across the “campus” around the house. This ‘campus’ was a mini-forest, thanks to the dense foliage and hundreds of trees.
The daily routine included a bath at the small pond, which was on-campus 🙂 and wonderful breakfast in the company of so many cousins (of all sizes & ages).

After that, we kids had options to choose from, as to how to use your time till lunch …
1. Inspecting the Mango trees to see if there were any ones fit to eat — Ripe ones would be eaten straight away. The green, raw ones would be handed over to one of the elders, along with a knife. These would be cut into tiny pieces. Meanwhile, someone would have already asked the kitchen-help servant to get a mixture of roasted chillies, salt & a few drops of oil. Then just dip the raw mango pieces in this “sauce” and enjoy !

2. Play cricket in the big courtyard — And play until some budding Kapil Dev hit a six into the bushes. In that case, search for the ball for a few minutes, admit that its lost and now go about doing option (1.)

3. Playing hide-and-seek inside the house — Given the size of the house, the numerous rooms on two levels, and the lack of proper lighting in some of the rarely used rooms, the first person who has to catch the others would take a pretty long time to find everyone. And by then, it would have been decided by a majority vote to change the game to something else.

4. One of the days (just once, in that whole month) was kept aside for an “All Cousins Hike” to one of the 3-4 hills nearby — Everyone gather whatever they can — mangoes, biscuits, fried-snacks, water-bottles — and walk/run to the top of the hill, enjoy the splendid view from the top, enjoy the snacks and walk back down.
(In those days, there were no digital cameras – to be able to click away all possible 237 views from the top. And children were not given the other cameras – too risky)

All of these activities had to strictly culminate by the lunch hour of 12 Noon. And obviously, after lunch, everyone just had to find his/her own favourite place for the pleasure of an afternoon-siesta.

By now, the few readers, who came here, have all gone off to sleep reading this long post.
And it is also time for my privileged afternoon-nap. Signing out today … but then … ” I’ll be backk … Hasta La Vista, Baby “

A few months back, couple of friends mentioned about blogging and how they were regular visitors to blogs and how they had eventually started their own blogs. I visited their blogs, and I liked them. One of them frequently posted his own poetic creations also. The other friend, a female ex-colleague, wrote these beautiful posts about her thoughts on life. It was all quite philosophical but I loved reading them … until she decided that she needed to stop the blog temporarily and move it elsewhere. After that I have not been in touch with her, and lost my “blog-mania” for some time.

Then, a couple of months back, I was missing my wonderful city of Mumbai so much that I decided to “google” for anything others like me might be writing about that wonderful city – articles, blogs, discussion forums.
And thats how I stumbled over Punds’ wonderful Mumbai-Series post and his blog … man, that sure made me nostalgic.
And that was the day I got struck once again by blog-mania.

Since then I have been reading, searching, jumping over various blogs.
Some I keep going back to. Others I visit once in a while. And then some … well, some just didn’t match my wavelength, so I have temporarily stopped visiting these.

Now, I decided to start my own blog. I sat down one fine day and put out 3 posts … all this without still making my blog public or giving out my URL anywhere. And within 2 days I thought “Naaa …. blogging does not seem to be for someone with nil writing abilities like me. After all, which sane person would want to read my posts !
And, given my present work scenario, I know even if I do blog, it will be very “regularly irregular”. The posts will come once in a blue moon, and that will lead to any few visitors who did come, to never want to come back.

Then yesterday, “Phatichar” (from one of those funtastik blogs which I visit daily) also asked the same Q that “Full2Faltu” had asked a few weeks back …. “do u blog? what is ur URL ?”

Ok, that set me going …. let me just try doing this for a few weeks. If people like my “rooobish stuff”, I will go & put out more of it.

And so, today, 13th Dec, almost 2 months after I first created this blog, I would like to make it public for all my blog-mates out there.
Come here once in a while, read if you find anything interesting, and yes … tell me what you feel.

And if I see many people giving me good criticisim & feedback, I will continue. 
If not and if more people feel I should stop blogging ….
well, I might still continue … Aise Hi !!