August 24, 2008

Bring A Tale, Take Two Away

Just when a person gets tired of thinking what to do with his own life.....the only thing that seems to be the next feasible option is to......start thinking....what to do with......OTHERS' lives!!
No, I'm actually serious on this one....why can't people mind their own business?
Like others' business is easier to mind, and nose-poking into foreign matters gives some pleasure that I haven't experienced yet?
And being a social animal even I can't help being dragged into this stuff of discussing absurd details about other people that would otherwise seem irrelevant to me.

Like the other day, I was fiddling with my pen and looking out of the window of my classroom. And I didn't realise that the class Gossip-monger, let's call her Lola, nah...Pupu...nay...OK, let's call her Guddi........fine, yeah.....Guddi........I didn't realize that she was closing in on me. Had I known I would have reached for the nearest book and some copy and scratched a few lines on it with my non-functional pen to give her the impression that I was not to be disturbed. Oh well, I was too late to implement my plan of action (damn my poor reflexes)...And she came down on me like I was the only person in the world she had to talk to.

"Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, whatcha doin'?", she squealed.

I fumbled with a book I held, and mumbled something like, "Uh.....doing a bit of reading for the proje-".

"Ooooooohhhhhhhh.........So studying?????", she asked me.
"Yes, kind of". She didn't buy it. Obviously.

I looked at her. Away from her. At the desk. At the non-functional pen in my hand. At the book that failed to serve its purpose in warding her off. At her again.

, She heaved a sigh.

It was a cue to what I was supposed to do. I kept the book down. The pen, too. And asked her.
"So wat's up?"

"Hmmmmm.....nothing." Yeah, nothing, right.
"So who's there with you in the project grouping?"

"Ashi, Dev and Richa...of course Richa didn't show up. And so I have to handle most of it." Oh you poor soul, I thought for a split second.

I asked the most logical thing I could ask..."Why didn't she show up?"
I opened some floodgates I realized.

"Well she said she had a tutorial to attend, which was a lie, obviously , because a friend of mine saw her at an ice-cream parlour that evening with....."

I don't know what followed for the next 20-odd minutes. It all droned into something about a guy.......a date...... roses....movies....I remember nodding to her animated expressions, and nothing else.

".......and then she also flirts with......."
5 minutes go by.....

"And I'm sure this you haven't heard of....that she....."
8 more minutes....

"...And could you believe that she could........."
13 minutes.....

".....I was Shocked!!!".......that stress on the last syllable woke me up.
"Oh my Gawdddd.......reallllllyyyyyy?????"...This is what I usually say...and what she usually wants me to say.

"Yes!!...Even I didn't believe that!!....Anyway.....promise won't tell this to anyone else....ever!!.....Okay?"...I'm sure I'm the 63rd person in this week she has told this to.

"Yes..yes....I promise...this dies with me....", I say.
"You are a true friend....Okie, byeeeeeee!!"

Contended, she finally leaves.

I look across the room to where poor Richa is busy with lab work. I wonder if she knows how popular she has become in the past few days.
Even if she knew....there's nothing much she could do about it, because trying to squash a rumour is like trying to unring a bell.

The above was just a teeny weeny example of how people deftly mind the business of others more than their own. By the end of the day, I collect a lot of info about a friend's heartbreak(how, when, why, all perfectly detailed), another friend's shopping spree( including what items she added to her cart! ), yet another's secret(?) crush, someone having a bad hair day(details of how bad!), and a lots of other stuff, from people other than the ones concerned, of course.
People like these seem to amuse me...and amaze me as well, to some extent....because they are so capable of witnessing with their mouths what they have never seen with their eyes.
But then these are the kind of people you would mostly find around you...and perhaps even one inside you, knowingly or unknowingly, spreading a word we never should have bothered about, lending ear to what we should have never cared to hear.
But confining his interest to his own activities would probably rob an average person of half of his existence, of course. I wonder why people don't gossip about one's secret virtues........funny......

I guess it's apt enough to cite here, that...

"What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away."
~Chinese Proverb

August 23, 2008

The Meaning of Being Lonely.....

Who exactly do u call a "loner"?
Someone who sits in a corner of a crowded room and looks into empty space?
Or someone who doesn't seem to pay attention to what people around him say....and snaps back to reality on being reprimanded....
Maybe someone who cuts conversations short and walks off to be on his own....
Perhaps someone who has no friends to talk to...or someone who shuns the very idea of talking to fellow humans...

I fit into this description precisely well.
I am tagged a "loner".
If only people paid heed to my explanation, I'd beg to differ.
It is funny how people confuse the idea of "solitude" with that of "loneliness". For those who have never noticed that the two things are entirely different, I'd happily elaborate, that, I'm not
lonely...I'm not a loner, either....

I haven't been staying away from crowd because I don't like being with other people. I've been doing that just because I like being with myself more than being with anyone else.
I do need to do this, because I hardly get time to ask myself how I'm doing. I need time to introspect, which I do a lot.
I love my hours of solitude, because it is during this time that life seems clearest to me. I feel happiest when I spend time with myself. I listen to myself like no one else does.....
I have questions that no one but me can answer...I have answers that no one else has to my questions....
I have the right to tell myself where I'm going wrong....I can assure myself that what I'm doing is right, even if I have the whole world up against me...
It's true that I have stopped accepting others' estimation of myself..since a really long time now.
I have never been self-centred, but then I can't stay out of touch with myself.

And why I pay so much of attention to myself?
I know what I do seems odd to people who believe in gregarious existence being the ideal one.
I don't say that my family or friends have been disappointing. I have been lucky to have such amazing people in my life.
But there have been times when I have felt like being responsible for my own existence, without any help whatsoever from anybody else. And during such times, I have had to fall back upon myself and myself only.
I am happy to say that I have found a great friend in myself.
There have been so many things about me that I never knew. There were so many things I was...and so much more I could have been only if I had paid attention to what I was capable of.
I have never found any voice more reassuring than the one in my head....when things go haywire in life.
Living up to what others expect from you is an amazing feeling, but living up to what you have set as your own standards of existence is something what can't be compared to any other experience.
And I push myself to my limits only when I am sure I am capable of doing so....hence I have helped myself to cope with external pressure as well.
It's great to know that you are in tandem with your own soul.

And then again there are times when you feel like breaking down. This , for me in particular, is difficult, when I am in the presence of anyone else. Had I been the kind of person who wears her heart on her sleeves, it wouldn't have mattered at all. I hate complaining about things beyond my control. But I also hate disappointments in my face. And the only one who I can crib about life's ups and downs in front of,, again.

I always wondered why people around me weren't perfect...But until then I hadn't noticed that I contained all the perfection I was seeking.
It has been a very fruitful transition, from times when I regretted being the person I this day, where I'm glad to have found my true self.
Unless you are in harmony with your own self, you'll never be able to fully appreciate whatever else you have been granted in life. And having learnt that now....I am glad that in this journey....I have myself for company.....
Would love to tell anyone reading these lines to take some time out to meet the stranger in the mirror..And I can guarantee that you'll no way be disappointed. That person in the mirror is THE best friend you can ever have.

To do that one needs to spend time with the self....not necessarily away from the world, but closer to one's own heart. There's a child locked away within it who deserves due share of attention.

The following lines sum up the essence of what I'm trying to convey here....

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.
What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. "
~Alan Alda~

August 4, 2008

FoUr IdioTs

Life isn't always sunny. Days aren't always blissfully pleasant.
But a dull day can be made memorable for sure.

This is how "we" do it........

Now you can begin wondering who this "we" are.....

"We" are friends.

"We" are ordinary people, all different in personalities, attitude and degrees of maturity. But "We" have at least one thing in common---we are crazy......plain crazy.

An example of a crazy day we spend together will make the picture more clear.

Monday morning

  • 6:10 am: (Home)
Jaz calls me up. "College", she utters the dreadful word. "Damn", I mutter to myself.

After that, she does that sequentially to the rest of them.
  • 7:10 am: (At the bus stop)
Waiting for the bus, we all grumble within ourselves, missing sleep and
hating another Monday morning. We know that a long day lies ahead of us.
Needless to say we hate going to college.
  • 8:30 am: (College campus)
We gather outside the classroom. "Andar chalein?", someone asks.
We stare at each other's faces. None of them show any interest in attending classes.
Still unavoidable circumstances(strict rules for attendance)
force us to walk into the
room half-full....nah......three- fourth empty of
  • 9:30 am: (Inside the Classroom)
The lecturer talks and talks and talks on I'm not sure what topic of which subject. I turn around to look at classmates. No one behind us.

Oops...I forgot to mention we love being backbenchers, for many reasons. I turn to Annie sitting beside me. She tries to make sense of what is being taught in class once in a while. And failing to do so, she turns to me and says:"Kuchh samajh mein aya?"

I shrug, and scan further along to DJ. She appears to be half-asleep. She moans, "Kya bore hai bey!" And her eyes redden with each passing moment. Beside her sits Jaz, fiddling with her cellphone in one hand and a pen in the other, occasionally looking up at the lecturer to give a clueless nod at whatever is
being said.

Not far along, I notice a guy nodding more often than necessary, quite rhythmically, in fact. Then I catch a glimpse of his camouflaged ear-plugs with cords leading probably to an iPod in his pocket.

Some others look outside the window, willing to see and hear anything except the lecturer.
At the farthest distance, at the front bench I can see the heads of the class nerds, intently listening and jotting down each and every word being said. I am sure they have also noted down the "Be attentive"s and "Don't talk"s the lecturer mumbles every eight minutes.

The hour slowly crawls by, minute by minute, and we sit with a "highly uninterested" expression on our face throughout.

The only time we come alive is when we get to sign the attendance sheet that gets passed on to us, and then we get back into "standby" modes.

  • 11:00 am: (Outside the Classroom)
Break Time. We rise up from the dead.

Laughter rings in the corridors for the next 39 minutes as we crack anecdotes, share experiences, chat our hearts out.

Someone realizes it's way past 11:15 am, time for the next class to begin.
"Oye, class nahin jaana hai kya?"

We brace ourselves for another hour of torture and in chorus we speak at the
"May I come in?"

"No, you may get out".

We stand sheepishly for a few seconds and then leave the doorstep. In the next one hour we immerse ourselves in fun-filled discussions in some peaceful corner of the campus.

  • 12:59 pm: (Inside the Classroom, Again)

We are bang on time for the next class, having been driven out of the
class before that for being 30 minutes late. This time we sit attentively, armed with pens and notebooks and a fake layer of enthusiasm on the face. The professor begins talking in Greek.

I note down in Latin.

The professor continually drifts away from the topic. The frontbenchers steer him back whenever they dare to. His words merge into a droning sound. I feel sleepy again. And then with a sudden change in the pitch of his voice he shouts:

"What does .com stand for??"


"Any idea??"

Silence again.

Not that no one knew, but no one was quite paying attention to his words.

"Okay!! It stands for COMMERCIAL!"

DJ comments from behind me....

"Isssssssshhh....mereko toh pataa hi nahin tha!!"

This sent me and Jaz burst into sudden and violent giggles. Damn.

The professor glared at us angrily for the next 32 minutes.

At the end of the topic, whatever it was, he asked "Any doubts??"

And me, Jaz and DJ prompted Annie....."C'mon Annie, FIRE!!"
In the spur of the moment she shoots....."Sir, what is the use of .com in a URL??"


He looks up at the ceiling , then outside the window, and at the piece of chalk he's holding.
And declares...."Next Class".

  • 1:55 pm: (Buses Leaving, For Home)

Jaz says, "Kya bekaar din tha be!"

I agree, "Rotten, in every sense of the word."

DJ chimes in......"Isike liye tune mujhe sawere uthaaya??"

While splitting Annie finally asks......"So coming tomorrow?"

We all wave byes, and shout back......"Yes!!!"

August 3, 2008

Make Me A Child Again!

Babies are so cute, aren't they?

(No, this isn't an advertisement for Baby products, please be patient..)

Yes, so I was saying...babies are so cute. Little humans, tiny angels, bundles of joy...
But the truth is that babies are also the dumbest of creatures. They grow up with that attribute of dumbness within them, just that as they grow up they powder some intelligence on to their behavior, so that the dumbness doesn't get noticed easily.

And why I'm so critical of babies??

......Precisely because I'm NOT one. I have grown up. I am not blissfully ignorant of the things around me. I can't cry out loud to get the attention of people, and be sure that someone would pick me up. Damn, I can't cry at all! Grown ups don't cry, do they?(.....especially girls...they have mascara issues...)

There are a lot of other things I can't do now that I have crossed that golden period of existence long back.

Like it was fun to hurl toys at people you didn't like, and still manage to be called awfully cute. I remember I aimed well enough and did considerable damage. Definitely can't do that now! Now those toys have been replaced with a new weapon-- "attitude".

It was great to give Mum sleepless nights and she cuddled me close even when I made life hell for her. Now I'm a big girl, and it feels bad to trouble her at all for trivial matters. It's my turn to behave now.

Then I had time....plenty of time. Time to waste, doing nothing but staring with big eyes at everything , everyone, observing God knows what, making cute gurgling noises and quick, jerky movements with the limbs. And now, days shatter into hours comprising of incoherent minutes, seconds ticking in irregular beats. Time flies when you want it to stop, stops when you wish it would just fly.

And also I was ignorant of what reality is like. Little did I know back then that the world isn't filled with soft toys, but big grown up people. All kinds of big, big people. Good people. Bad people. Cute people. Not cute people. Pink people. Blue people. Green people. Yellow people.

Then there was the warmth and security of the cradle I loved, which I outgrew in an unimaginably short span of time.

The gap between dreams and reality I bridged when ...I don't remember, but I realized while I was growing up, this very important fact that "when we are young, we feel that dreams have the power to design reality, but as time passes by one understands that it is reality which actually designs those dreams".
I didn't realize how fast time flew by, as I grew up from a careless kindergartner, to a nerdy fifth-grader, to an average tenth-grader, to an undergraduate clueless about both studies and life. Somewhere during this time I also learnt that what you want in life and what you get, are entirely different things.

As I write this, I still feel that though there have been ups and downs, growing up hasn't been too bad an experience after all, with all the things I got to learn and the wonderful people I got to meet, the lessons I learnt about life, love, and ambitions.
But for many reasons I miss being a child, and would love to live that

part of my life all over again.

If granted One Wish, what I'd ask for would be.................

Make Me a Child Again.

Twenty Miles to Nowhere.....

They say.....the roads to greatness are strewn with thorns....
This very thing I realized when I actually had to take the turbulent roads to greatness. The destination I'm talking about is my Institution (again, it's not somewhere I want to go...but somewhere I have to)......Situated right in the middle of nowhere...and trust me the journey is something not ordinary.
What makes it so remarkable is that no number of "Have a nice journey" wishes are going to make it nice. Read on to find out why....
The saga begins early in the morning each day. I myself have big trouble making it to the bus stop in time (totally my fault...I don't pay any heed to my alarm clock). Even when I do manage to get there, I find myself surrounded with a huge number of sleepy-eyed, drowsy boys and girls, yawning at regular intervals, exasperated expressions pasted on their can sense that they are silently cursing the rising of the early sun, and deeply regretting the dawning of a new day.
They say, in India, there are three things that are never on time....Trains, Chief Guests and Buses. Our bus was no exception, and made it a point to be at least 20 minutes late, if not more, to pick us up. It's a long wait, and meanwhile there are a lot of things to do: you could stare at your surroundings, at sky, at earth, at fellow college-goers, or ask the person standing beside you the reason which made him/her decide to come to college at all (answers range from practicals to library books to dodging fine but never came across attending classes as being a reason), or you can simply use the time to recall what important thing you forgot to bring along in the hurry (as far as I'm concerned I realize that I've worn mismatching stuff and my hairstyle suggests that I have been electrocuted).
And finally when the bus arrives, and you get on to it, the first thing you notice is that it's running "packed houses", literally. It happens very often with me, and while I stand and scan along rows of people in hope of finding a seat somewhere, the most chivalrous of fellows throw back their heads, close their eyes and fall asleep all of a sudden. Girls show more mercy and invite me to adjust in their seats (eternally grateful to them). Then all well-settled, we begin the long trip.
The "trip" is an experience in itself, being some thirty kilometers long, passing through the countryside and terminating in the jungles (our college is located in these "jungles") and the vehicle itself rickety, having all hinges and nuts loosened by the rough roads. I can say that in the bus I travel in, everything except the horn actually makes noise. Once inside the bus, again there are a lot of things you could do: Stare at fellow passengers (long enough to make them wonder if you are nuts), try to overhear the conversation between a couple seated right behind you, scribble on the plastic sheath behind the seats, pull out big pieces of sponge from a torn edge of a seat, observe how the driver hurls abuses at buffaloes blocking his way, gossip to fill awkward silence, or just fall asleep to resume the dream you abandoned to get to the bus stop on time. I spend most of my time marveling at the scenic beauty of the countryside-the ponds, the hills, the clear sky, the lush green farms, the fresh air, huts and cowsheds, and not to forget the countless cows themselves. In the background I hear the bus's stereo screeching out melodies, probably the favorite collections of our driver, mostly "Bewafai Ke Nagme Vol-I & II" and some "hit" scores in undecipherable languages. At times I'm interrupted by sudden jumps and jerks and acute-angle tilting of the bus, during which I cling on to the nearest rod/railing/seat-edge/human/whatever for dear life(yeah, my bus literally "rocks").
Thus the hour-long journey continues giving me a sense of what it feels like when time stops, space loses dimensions and someone asks after every five minutes....."Are we there yet?"
..After passing on the way numerous temples, slums, open lands, mountains, tea stalls, miniature repair shops, finally the bus slowly "rocks" and "rolls" into the gates of the huge building.
I, one of the few passengers awake, get up with great difficulty from my seat, still wobbly with the inertia of motion, and step down on to the grounds of my Institution. Destination.