Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nature calls…

Part 1 – The agony

After six days of heavy work on the field, Sam got a chance to party on Saturday night. He had a few beers and some pizzas until three in the morning. Due to the excessive eating and drinking, he had to break up from his sleep, due to nature’s call; a call he could not avoid or postpone, at eight in the morning, which was midnight by his standards.

When he woke up, he woke up with a very sharp pain in his abdomen. Six days of sleeplessness and excessive partying the previous night didn’t help. Sam woke up when he was half asleep. He wanted to stay half asleep because being half awake is enough to attend nature’s call and being half asleep would help him to get back to that “fully asleep” or knocked-out-cold-yet-again state soon.

He went to the bathroom door and to his horror he found that it was already occupied. “Who the hell it could be?” he thought. Then he suddenly remembered that there was a girl sharing the other bedroom in his house. Sam did not like Claire as she was a bit bitchy about everything. For a long time Claire wanted to get back on Sam for whatever he had done to her in the past.

“Hey.. Its me, Sam.. how are you?” He asked standing in front of the toilet door.

He waited for a minute and there was no reply. Then he realized that he had asked a dumb question. He waited for moment but the pressure on his abdomen was getting worse.

Sam was sure that he would be embarrassed if he asked for help but he had to, only to avoid bigger embarrassment. And he knew it. He gathered all his courage and said “Hey, it is a kind of an emergency here. Can you please come out quickly?”

“Ok, that’s fine” she said.

Sam felt a bit relieved that Claire was not playing any games on him during absolute emergency.

Five minutes went by. Staying half awake became dangerous. He had to concentrate and put in all the efforts to stay clean.

Ten minutes went by. The door was still locked. The shower was still on. Now, Sam had to hold his lower abdomen tightly to ease some pressure.

“Hey, are you not coming out? I said it is an emergency” he shouted and banged on the door twice.

The sound of water from the shower stopped. Sam felt a bit relieved.

“Of what kind?” she asked.


“I mean the emergency. Of what kind?” she asked again.

“That bitch” he thought. Sam wanted to force the door open. Or shout at her. But, that required some effort and energy. Diverting his energy on to something else would be disastrous. So, he started thinking of ways to get himself to safety.

A few options came up. Some of them are 1) Call 911 2) Call the cab and go to his friend’s house. But, were they awake, and what if the toilet there was occupied as well? And 3) Use the kitchen sink. But, that was not wise. Atleast he was sane enough to discard the third option.

So he took the phone and dialed for the taxi. Form his experience, he knew that the taxi would cost four pounds. After calling for the taxi, he went to his wardrobe and started pulling out all the coins he had. He had about a hundred twenty pence coins. He took them out and started building a building out of the twenty pence coins, by placing one on top of the other.

Now, Sam could not stand straight. He found by accident that by bending fifteen degrees, the pressure on the abdomen was minimal.

Five more minutes went by. Now, even thinking became difficult. Sam felt that it took so much amount of energy to think. He had no faith in god, but started praying. Two incidents within twelve hours was too much to take.

While coming out of the party the precious night, after gulping a few beers, he had an urge to use the restroom. Due to excessive amount of fluid that went into his system, and due to the fact that it was winter, the urge was all of a sudden and was sharp. He was standing in the middle of the city with no public toilets nearby and no shops open except the pubs and the night clubs.

He hurried into the same pub from which he came out only a couple of minutes back.

“Five pounds sir”
the bouncer said


“Five pounds for entry after 2 AM sir” he said politely

“But I just came out from here”

“That’s ok sir, but you are going in now. We don’t charge for coming out of the pub” he said and winked

“Will this be the most expensive urination experience in the world ?” Sam thought for a moment, but every minute became precious and he had the money. He paid for it and rushed to the restroom. When he came out, his face was fresh and clear. He felt like he was reborn.

Now, Sam was standing in front of the restroom in his house, almost dead six hours after he was reborn, with five pounds in his hand but still could not use the toilet. What a shame!

He was counting his minutes, but now minutes became seconds. And then he came to a point that disaster was looming any moment. He dragged himself to the main hall, which is equidistant from the toilet and the main door. Sam kept his cab option open as well.

Then he heard a click; a click that he was dying to hear. When she came out of the toilet, he stood straight just to show her that his emergency was not as critical as she would have thought. Sam ensured that he didn’t breathe for thirty seconds until she crossed him. When she went into her room and locked, he started running towards the toilet.

All the creatures in the world, except the humans, do not have this problem nor do they pay for excretion. We, humans, in the name of civilization, have enforced rules on ourselves which leads to such emergencies.

All the other animals pee anywhere they wanted to. Aquatic species don’t have to worry about it though. Elephants pee about five liters on the streets and yet it never declares an emergency. But humans pee less than a liter but we had to follow strict rules.

“It does not make any sense for me”
Sam thought while in the toilet. Humans are the most intellectual creatures in this planet and yet, we cannot do certain things at certain times even though it is an absolute emergency.

Isn’t that a shame?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home coming part 2 – The train journey

“Wake up you lazy bones” my mother shouted at me.

“We still have three more hours to go” I said while sleeping.

“We are not taking a flight from here. It takes one and a half hours to reach the train station”
she shouted.

“Oh yeah”
I said with frustration and opened my eyes for the first time that day.

I have been sleeping for more than twelve hours a day for the last four days, yet I felt that I was not feeling mentally fresh. Something inside was bugging me for sometime as I struggled to find that bugging bug.

We started an hour later. Then we took a bus which took another hour in the traffic. One hour in the bus went like a day. I was kicked out of the seat once by a lady, I had to give up my seat for an old man once and I was standing with my neck bent for about fifty minutes. Why are the bus in Chennai so damn short? I would prefer an open top bus, but none of them were running in Chennai.

Finally, we reached the train station one hour and five minutes before schedule. Normally one has to spend five and a half hours in the train to reach Bangalore from Chennai. But, today, we had to spend six hours and thirty five minutes in the train!

As soon as I took my seat, I looked up to find a plug and a switch. What luck! I never knew that Indian railways have this facility. So, I immediately opened my laptop, plugged it in and started watching Friends from episode 141. When I reached episode 145 and Perambur (which is five kilometers from the Chennai central railway station), I got bored with Friends. Then I tried reading a book and got bored again. Finally, I started listening to some songs in my iPod. After thirty minutes, I got bored again.

“What next?”
I thought. At that time, I started smelling food. To kill time, I ordered four cutlets and started eating. My thoughts started drifting from food to cricket and then to football.

After a few minutes, I started thinking about my college and Dubai. Strangely, I started missing Dubai as I was never fond of this place as long as I was there.

When I landed in Dubai, four and a half months back, I was a bit nervous. But then that nervousness was gone quickly due to conscious efforts that I took. Whatever happened in the college, how much ever assignments and exams I had, I always ensured that I ate three times a day, on time, slept as early as possible and slept for eight hours a day. It helped me to concentrate well in the class all the time. So, I never had to open my books at home, even on the exam eve. I still slept at a healthy rate of eight hours per day during the exams. I even found time to jog for half an hour every day!

I have never had so much clarity in my mind about what I was doing in my lifetime before. The first term in SP Jain was brilliant. There was no doubt that we were absolutely hammered and severely cramped for time, yet I pulled off eight hours of sleep without compromising on my studies. By far, I was at my best. No question about that.

But, by the time I completed my course in Dubai, I was not the same person I was during the start of the program. I started compromising on my breakfasts as I started sleeping late, and skipped my jogs a few times. Hence, I started losing my concentration in class.

At the end of the second term, I felt like I had lost something that I had for a long time. Classes suddenly seemed boring, waking up in the morning became a pain, sleeping early in the night became even more painful, and eating thrice a day never happened. What did I gain in losing so much? Nothing; absolutely nothing. The level of concentration and confidence that I usually had started depreciating. As Austin Powers said in one of his movies, I somehow lost my mojo and I need to do something to get it back! My mojo is absolute concentration and confidence. And both are tightly interlinked for me. If I lose one, I lose the other.

Then my thoughts came back to the train. We were half way through and so are the cutlets. Two of them were over and two to go. It started to get dark outside. When I took the first bite on the third cutlet, I started thinking about the root cause for my situation. What did I do to lose concentration on whatever I was doing? It felt weird to me. It could be due to sleeping late, or skipping breakfast, or boring subjects or a combination of all or it could be something that I haven’t figured out yet.

I knew that I need to do something to get myself back on track. Then I had a look at my plate. The cutlets were all gone now. It was totally dark outside when I started to think about my immediate future. I felt that life in Singapore was staring at me, straight on my face.

But, from the window of the train, I was staring at darkness to find some light.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A bug to be crushed

“Switch on that mosquito repellent” I shouted at my friend when I entered home after a tired day.

“It is 6 PM now and those little insects will invade soon. Close the door and the windows”
I ordered, like an army commander.

What can these insects do? They need food, and somehow they like the taste of blood. Human blood. That is how they are created and that is how they are destined to live. But, we humans only allow those creatures to live, that would co-operate with us.

So, what do we do about the non co-operative species?

Lions and tigers – put them in zoo; snakes – kill them whenever they appear; mosquitoes and other bugs– simple… use your hands and crush them!

Everything is human centric for humans. We have the ultimate power to do whatever we want to do and in the process, we let the other species die. Ruthlessly.

We humans go one step further and try to defy nature in the name of science and engineering. We build big aircrafts that defy gravity and fly for hours. We suck water and oil from deep down. We burn coal and oil for our convenience.

But, Mother Nature is watching us. Somewhere from above. She sends out a signal every now and then so that human beings could behave.

The climate change is a perfect example. We suck a lot of resources from nature and pollute it as well. Thinking what the nature can do? The 2004 south Asian tsunami is one small example of what little things the nature can do to punish us. The more we move away from the laws of nature, the more we suffer.

We treat bugs like bugs because they do not co-operate. But, when we go one step further and do not co-operate with nature, it treats us like bugs!

But, what will you do when some humans are treated like a-bug-to-be-crushed by other humans?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


“Ouch!!!!” I cried when I fell down with a big thud. Both my legs were weighing twice the weight it should weigh. That made it difficult for me to get up. Every time I tried to get up, I fell badly. After four attempts, I was lying there, flat on my back, looking up at the sky, not knowing how to get up.

Loud party music was played nearby and the people around me were trying to dance to the beats. Some people did fall during the process, but they were back on their feet soon after. I was the only guy out there who couldn’t stand on my own feet!

The pain in the legs was unbearable and the fact that I had to get up quickly as people were cruising at twenty miles per hour around me was scary. Then, it started snowing.

“Oh my god! What am I going to do now?” I thought. Crawling to shelter was one option, but that would look weird. Wouldn’t it?

Then I started cursing myself for wearing those heavy boots and getting into the center of the ice rink on a cold winter night. I had no experience of ice skating, but still I wanted to try and so paid twenty pounds to get in there and fell awkwardly four times. That’s five pounds per fall!

I tried to remove my skies, but it wouldn’t come off. Or I didn’t know how to remove them. But, I had to remove them to lighten the load on my legs so that I could stand up. I was stuck there totally helpless.

“Are you a beginner” said someone above me.

I looked up and I saw a gorgeous girl in her teens wearing a bright red scarf around her neck. She smiled at me and offered her hands. I grabbed it and tried to get up. I got up, still holding her hands. Tightly. I was still in the danger of falling one more time. The blades in my stakes were so sharp and the ice so icy that I was unable to stand.

“I need something to hold on” I said. “Otherwise I would fall again” still holding her hand for support.

She smiled at me. “You can continue holding on to my hands if you are scared”

“Gee! Thanks!” I said and smiled sheepishly.

“I am not a professional, but this is my third class. So I think I am better than you are with the skates”

“Okay, now slowly push your left leg and move forward” she said.

I just did that, but pushed my leg a bit too much and was about to fall again. Scared to death, I squeezed her hand tightly.

“Easy!” she said. I forced a smile on my lips.

“Listen, this is easy. But you have to believe me. Hold my hands and do exactly what I do” She said, looking straight into my eyes.

At that point of time, paying twenty pounds and falling on the ice rink four times seemed well worth. “Twenty pounds is not a big money” I thought. Well, lots of other thoughts were going on in my mind at that time. Normally people in Newcastle have thrown rubbish at me and abused me several times. This was the first time, a gorgeous girl in the middle of the ice rink on a bitterly cold winter night was actually trying to help me.

She took me around half the circle. I realized that I can skate. With some assistance only though. All the way, she was holding my hands, gently and helped me learn.

But, I didn’t learn anything. I was only looking at her beautiful blue eyes. She was giving some instructions on how to skate. But, none of them went into my head.

After half a round of skating, “Try to implement this technique. You will be fine” she said and smiled.

I stood there, catching the wall at the edge of the rink so that I won’t fall again. She stood there for a moment. I was like a statue. I didn’t know what to do next.

“Good bye!” she said, waived her hand and joined her friends.

I looked around, still under the state of bliss. None of the things that I saw was getting processed in my brain. The feeling was great. I could never put words to precisely describe that feeling. I looked around, once again. A couple of my friends were in the fourth class. One was skating like a Mickey mouse and the other like a robot. I laughed at them for a moment.

Only then I realized that I didn’t even thank the girl for helping me out. I started searching for her. Actually the real reason for searching her was not to thank her but to ask her out for coffee.

“Damn! Why didn’t I do that before, when she was with me?” With the limited mobility, I found it too difficult to locate her in the rink. I searched and searched. But I couldn’t find her. She just disappeared.

“Am I the dumbest person around? What an opportunity to make friends with her, and probably more!” I thought as more snow fell on my face.

I missed to get to know her. What an idiot… looser I am? But those moments, the skate for half a round, the soothing words from her, were priceless.

Someday somewhere I read in a book that Columbus discovered America by shear serendipity. But, the discovery of this strange feeling inside me, for an unknown girl who was kind enough to help me… is that, by any chance, serendipity?

Or is the feeling of love and affection a serendipity? Maybe someday, Adam and Eve should testify.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Mistakes are all mine!

Twelve runs to win off one over. The bowler started running in. I was immensely concentrating to put bat on ball. The first ball was on length and moved away a bit. I swung my bat 360 degrees. No use. The ball went straight to the keeper. I removed one of my sweaters and gave it to the umpire. I was feeling hot inside even though it was minus one degree on a cold dark winter evening in London.

The bowler started running in for the second ball. Again, the ball was on length and moved away. I braced myself for a backfoot heave over covers and was about to swing my bat.

“Are you coming or not?” shouted my friend. I lost concentration momentarily and edged the ball to the wicketkeeper.

I was disappointed to have got out the way I got out. But, when I came back to where my team was standing, guys were apologetic.

“Well played “ and “Tough luck” were the comments from them. After nodding to them, I found Krishna staring at me. I was sure that he was angry with me, by looking at his expression.

Two minutes and four more balls later, we lost the game. The team was disappointed but Krishna was still angry. After a few seconds, reality stuck me. Common sense started prevailing. Krishna had to catch a flight to go to Newcastle. I looked at my watch. It was four thirty in the evening. The flight was at five thirty.

“I am sorry dude, I didn’t realize that it is very late now. I think we can still catch the plane if we give it a try” I said.

He spoke nothing.

We reached home in a couple of minutes. All the way I was trying to call all the cab companies I knew. It was a Sunday and not many cabs were running around. We were forced to take the Bus to the airport. The journey took twenty five minutes. I spoke a lot in those twenty five minutes. He didn’t speak a word. All the way I was optimistic about us reaching the airport on time.

“British Airways are generally late from Heathrow. I am sure you will catch the flight” I said.

He gave a cold stare. I stayed quiet for a while.

“Is it not very cold out there” I asked, mainly to break the silence.

No response, again. “God! What am I going to do to make him speak?”

Krishna generally cannot control his anger. I have been a victim many times and have been smacked for all the mistakes I did in the past. Like this one. But today, he was very quiet and that was very scary for me.

When we got out of the bus, I pulled his bag and started running towards the check in desk like a mad man, pushing everyone who would come my way.

“Five thirty BA 1336 Newcastle flight please” I said to the check in agent. Krishna was walking slowly towards the check in counter. The check in lady pointed her finger towards a giant clock above her head. It said “Five forty five”

“Damn!” I said and looked back. Krishna was still walking towards me, hands on his pocket, as casual as ever.

“Oh my god!” I whispered. I was certain that I was going to be killed.

“The flight has departed” I told him, in a weak tone.

“I know that already. Saw it in the board there” he said pointing to the giant screen above.

We started walking towards the bus station after changing his ticket to the first flight the next morning.

“This is massive” I said, after boarding the bus.

“What is massive?”

“Generally you would pull my hair and smack me for small crimes I do. But this one is massive. You missed the flight and yet you are calm”

He nodded and didn’t speak.

“Why are you silent today ?” I asked.

“To start with…”
he stared.

“I believed you. I believed you that you would take me to the airport on time”
he said, in a calm voice.

I frowned.

“…and that was my mistake”
he continued.

I looked at him apologetically.

"Do you hate me for what i just did"
I asked

He looked at me and said “How can I ever hate you ... when the mistakes are all mine?”

Home coming

“One last push… come on!”, I encouraged myself to get out of my bed in the morning. It took a Herculean effort to stretch my arm and switch the alarm off. This was the last day’s class in term 2 of 6 in the college. The thought of waking up to my convenience for about three weeks from now on was blissful. Someone who was absolutely hammered for four months with four sessions a day, four assignments a day, two tests a day, four hours of sleep a day and one decent meal a day could not ask for more!

I have been living away from my house for more than four years and I have returned home on short vacation more than ten times during this period. But, this time, going back home is more emotional for more than one reason.

I have missed being at home more than ever. I missed my close friend’s dad’s funeral. He was very dear to me as he was one of the very few in the world, who truly believed in my ability and encouraged me on many occasions. Missing his funeral was too hard for me to take. What is the point in doing MBA when I could not even be there when my friend needed me the most? How cruel can I ever get? Life moved on… but… all the time I could not wait to meet him.

My sister delivered a beautiful baby boy a couple of days after I landed in Dubai. He is four months old now, playing happily day and night. What is the point in missing all the magic moments of life and sitting here frantically reading books and attending classes? What am I doing? I haven’t even seen the baby yet. It has been four months now. What a shame!

I missed my friend’s engagement. I wish him luck, but I missed the event and all the fun. I just can’t wait to pull his leg, I just can’t wait to hug my friends, especially my mom. I miss all my fun conversations with her as much as anything else. Those conversations late in the night were special. Nothing in the world could ever substitute it.

I am now sitting here, on my bed, thinking what I could possibly do in the next two weeks before saying goodbye to Dubai. When I looked at my desk, I saw a huge pile of books. Those reminded me that I have some work to do before I leave. A few presentations, reports and exams left. “One last push!” I told myself again, to see through the last few pressure filled days.

“Pressure? What pressure? When home-coming is looming large :-)” I thought. I have never appreciated home coming, like I do now, in my life… ever!