Life's Like That

Monday, January 30, 2006

Rang De Basanti

Loved the movie. After a very long time, a Hindi movie has compelled me to think, and left me disturbed. No I did not weep buckets (weeeellll okkkk...maybe just a little bit), and get carried away by the patrotic fervour that seemed to have gripped most people in the theatre. I was... disturbed.
Much has been said about how Generation Y, is remarkably blase about India. Its quite acceptable to say " system hi aisi hai" with no attempt to change that system. Much has been said about how Rang De Basanti speaks to GenY in its own lingo, about taking responsibility for the country, making the effort to change things.Maybe the steps that the protagonists take is very drastic...but the funda behind those steps is crystal clear.
This post is not about all those much repeated points. This post is about the confusing, conflicting emotions I felt at the end. I must add here that most of this post stems from the drastic methodology adopted by the protagonists in the movie. I am not counting smaller gestures of making a difference...just the reactionary drastic ones.
I grew up in Kolkata. My father was a student of BE College Shivpur during the late 60's and early70's. He and other friends of his were an integral part of the infamous NaxalBari movement that swept across the youth of Bengal and other parts of the country. I have grown up hearing horror tales of torture, "encounter deaths", lock ups and raids. I have heard stories about how a man has casually stepped over a dead body lying on the road dismissing it as " another of these Naxalite fellows", only to come home and realize that his own son is missing...only to discover moments later that the "Naxalite fellow"lying dead on the road was his missing son. I have read books like Honnoman by Jaya Mitra and Haajar Churashir Ma by Mahashweta Debi( those of you who can read Bengali please please read both these books)..tales of inhuman torture..of countless lives lost for a cause.
From what little I have understood of the Naxalite movement, it stemmed from the perversion of the Marxist ideals by the CPI/CPI(M). What started as a peasant movement against opression by the bourgeouise and the revisionist attitude of the so called Marxist parties, rapidly turned into a revolutionary political movement spearheaded by the youth of the country. (Since I don't know too much about the movement in other parts of India, I shall restrict myself to Bengal). Colleges like BE College, Presidency College were the hotbeds of Naxalite activities. 1000s of brilliant lives were lost. Young men and women, fired with the zeal for changing the system fearlessly went to their deaths...or worse. A lost generation is how my father refers to it. He should know. He was there.
Why did all those young people lose their lives? Why did true idealists like Jaya Mitra spend the good part of her life either on the run or being tortured in various jails across Bengal? For what? Did the system change? Did anything change? The only thing that changed was the equation in the families across Bengal. What changed was that suddenly mothers were left without their sons and daughters, women lost their husbands, children lost their fathers and mothers. Those that survived prison, were, for the most parts, too broken to adjust to the pace of everyday life.
The youth of India needs to get up and do something to change the prevailing conditions in the country, only then will India be the country that the freedom fighters had envisaged. Absolutely!! I totally agreed with Aamir Khan! Till suddenly, out of the blue, a memory crept into my mind...a memory of my father's voice telling me about the Naxal movement, telling me about cops raiding our house just because there was a young man living in that house, of spending nights in lock up...of hearing his heavy with emotion voice telling us about the friends he lost to the movement, the terror of those days, the uncertainity. I looked at Rahul next to me...the youth of today. I thought of my friends, my sister. Aamir Khan made less sense then.Selfishly, I realized, I dont want to lose any of them to a "cause". At the end of the day I want Rahul to come back home to me. Suddenly, the micro..the small little bits that make up the bigger picture became all important. I dont want a hero...I want a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a sister.
My father tells me that the Naxal movement was a failure because of several reasons. The flawed ideal that they were out to change was also flawed in itself. To me (a rather 'ill informed on the finer points of the Naxal ideal' me) it seems like the major problem with the movement was that it was too caught up in the ideals. Ideals can inspire you, but one needs to translate those lofty ideals into implementable practicality for a movement to succeed. Ideals need to be adapted to local and immediate requirements to be implementable. According to my limited understanding, that was the major flaw of the Naxal Bari movement. That was the reason why 1000s of idealistic young men and women were condemned to be the "lost generation".
A youth movement today will probably be a lot more practical, a lot less swept away by ideals. Probably. I believe for any kind of a youth movement to sustain itself and prove effective in the long run, it has to be kept free from political interference. Youth leaders of political parties need to be kept away. If there is to be such a movement, how far will it be possible to keep it politics free? I dont know. I do know that like the movement of the 70's, like the protagonists of the movie, a lot of innocent lives will be lost. And I dont want anyone close to me to be among those lost lives. Then again...if women in pre Independance India thought this way, we would still probably be a British colony. Then again, I am not entirely selfish shallow and self centred. I am after all the daughter of a man lives by his ideals. Books like Honnoman have horrified me and at the same time left with a deep sense of admiration for the woman who lived and would have willingly died for her ideals, for the cause. What would I do in a situation that required me to sacrifice the personal for the greater common good? I don't know. I can just hope that I never ever have to make that choice. I left the theatre yesterday, deeply disturbed that I was not able to wholeheartedly share the patriotic sentiments I heard around me. The black and white statement of Rang De Basanti seemed to me to be filled with shades of grey.
I don't remember the last time a Hindi movie left me this confused and thoughtful. in filmi review terms...a must watch!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mommy!

I fought with my mother before leaving the house today. Nothing unusual really. Loud nasty fights between my mother and I, are frequent occurrences in our house. As a kid she used to throw me out of the house for the slightest misdeed. I used to stand outside and HOWL(till the kindly neighbours either convinced Ma to take me back or better still took me to their houses and plied me with chocolates etc). She doesn’t throw me out of the house anymore, she screams at me and orders me to move out…and I scream back and say that I don’t want to stay under the same roof with her anyways and storm out of the house or room (depending on convenience) Then I lock myself in my room or go to a friends house and cry, and feel very sorry for myself. Then I text Baba and tell him all about it…and stress him out. We maintain a stony silence for about a week or so, and use my sister as an intermediary when absolutely necessary.Then somehow we make up…I have no idea who approaches who first, but just as suddenly as it started, our quarrel is over….until the next time. Discussing the problem or apologizing is absolutely out of the question (Don’t ask me why, it just is. Neither of us expects it from the other).

I really don’t know why Ma and I fight so much. I cannot imagine my life without her.
My mother is my best friend. Although that does not mean I tell her everything that happens in my life. It just means that when things go wrong, she is the one person I turn to for strength and unconditional support.(There have been times when I have just hugged her and cried and she has just hugged me back without asking a single question). We are very similar and yet very different.

My mother is strong and temperamental and moody and an amazing cook and very eccentric (remember the python?). Little children (offspring of family friends etc) love my mother. Where their own mothers act as irritating voices of caution and forbid them from climbing trees, playing in the sun, splashing about in rivers( if there is a river available at some picnic spot or some such), telling them to be careful while bursting crackers; my mother is usually the first one to jump into a river, or attempt to climb a tree, scoff at the sun, and most definitely find the biggest scariest “chocolate boma” to burst. She takes all these little children under her wing, and then of course their mothers cant really find a good enough reason to stop them from enjoying themselves. She loves Nature and has gone trekking several times (and come back and told me excitedly about how she saw a panther sleeping on the branch of a tree)

I, on the other hand, am distinctly unadventurous. What a disappointment I was, am and will continue to be. You all know my attitude towards wildlife so I shall not go into all that again. I hate fireworks. During Kali Pujo (Diwali for Bongs) the only fireworks I can bring myself to associate with (after much coaxing, persuading and ridiculing) are “phurjhuris” (sparklers), coloured matchsticks and “shaapbaji” (cant translate, sorry). The unadventurous aspect of my personality (which, we are all convinced, I inherited from my father) manifested itself pretty early on in life. I was about 1 year old when we had gone to some seaside place for a holiday. My father predictably chose to sit on the beach with me while my mother (again, predictably) decided to go and jump about in the sea for a while. Apparently I watched my mother walking towards what Im sure I considered dangerous waves, with mounting apprehension. All hell broke loose when she actually got into the water. Apparently I howled and wailed (to this day my poor father cringes when he remembers the way I cried and the dirty looks people gave him) till she disgustedly got out and came back to the safe dry land.

Ma is also very very paranoid. She keeps us perpetually amused with her fear of thieves’ robbers’ intruders and ghosts. When she goes on vacation, she ties the balcony doorknob to the grille of the window next to it. After we moved to Salt Lake, every time my father went out of town, she would spend the day telling me and my sister that Salt Lake is a very developed place and there is nothing to be scared of. Till day turned into night that is. By 8.00 p.m. Ma would be a nervous wreck. By 8.30 p.m.we would be in the car headed for the safety and robber free security of my uncle’s house. She frequently does these impossibly ridiculous things, like losing her boarding pass minutes before the flight, and calling my father in Bombay for help (she was in the Bangalore). She went around stopping every airport sweeper and making them empty their garbage cans, convinced that she had dropped her pass and they had swept it away. The idea of going to the counter and getting a duplicate pass done by showing them her ticket did not occur to her till my father told her. She has a mobile phone, which she leaves at home when she goes out, thus making it impossible for us to get in touch with her.

How am I similar to Ma you ask? Well, from her I have inherited my temper, impatience, my love for traveling, my attitude of not caring about society and rules and what people think and my inability to quarrel with people I love (including Ma) without bursting into tears (most embarrassing I assure you, just when you want to prove a point and unleash your rage on some unfortunate soul, your eyes well up, you choke and you start sniffling like a baby. Has led to certain people calling me crybaby).

My mother was my rock when I was growing up. Baba was mostly away, traveling around the world for work. Ma was the one who was always at home when I came back from school, she was the one who made me do my homework, she was the one I snuggled up to after lunch. She was the one who would scold me for coughing and being sick (yes, Ma would get very hassled whenever I fell sick as a child and she would scold me incessantly) and then get me cough syrup and Crocin. Ma was the one who came running to school to find me sitting on the steps and sobbing because my father forgot to pick me up and I didn’t know how to go home. She is the one who took me shopping and firmly prevented me from filling my wardrobe with various shades of grey and white. To this day I want Ma with me when I go shopping for clothes (and not just because she will pay the bill). I hate her taste in clothes and she hates mine, so when we are together we manage to find stuff that’s somewhere in between and usually very nice. All my life she has been the more approachable one between my parents, and the one I go to with silly personal problems. Today when I’m on the brink of setting up my own home, she is the one I turn to for help, support and advice (not to mention cookery lessons).

Why do I keep fighting with my mother if she means so much to me? I don’t know. Maybe that’s the way mothers and daughters are meant to be. Maybe it’s a result of both of us being cursed with the same short temper. I’m feeling rather bad about some of the things I said this morning. Of course directly apologizing to her is absolutely out of the question. And my sister is being rather uncooperative these days. So Im hoping Ma will read this and know what she means to me…I love you, really do!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Aaaaarghhhhhh!!!

The more I try to tell myself that I should not be territorial and I should not judge people based on which city they live in, the more difficult those people make it for me to be positive in my outlook!!!

Although it would be wrong on my part to say that of people in general, considering that most of my bad experiences with people from this particular city has been restricted to people in the PR field!! So without rambling on too much let me just say this: PR people from Delhi have got to be the world's most idiotic, dumb, ridiculous, unnecessarily aggressive, lazy, think they are very smart but are actually the biggest donkeys, annoyingly overfriendly and familiar creatures( in Bengali we call it gaye pora) thatI have ever had the misfortune of interacting with. I do not blame any Delhi based journalist for despising PR creatures such as these...no indeed!! In fact I totally sympathise with them...poor things! To have to put up with these things all the time!!!

To prove my case, here are snippets from some amazing conversations Ive had in the recent past:

Delhi Colleague( in typical Delhi accent): Hallo, Ronita. Aacha sun yaar (hello...what yaar and what sun...we have never met or spoken earlier, how did I suddenly become your yaar and who gave you the right to address me as tu????) I need some pictures of Pooja Bedi at that event yaar (again..YAAR!!!??) against some nice backdrop!! Please bhej de na.

Me: (in slightly cold formal tones): All right Ill send you the CD.

DC: Thanks yaar.

1 day later

DC: Aacha sun Ronnie(RONNIE!!!???? GRRRRRR). Can you send me hard copies of the pictures you sent me?? Please...very urgent, I need it immediately.

Me (very hasseled and stressed out and caught up in other work): How can I send you hard copies urgently? I will need to courier them and you will get them only tomorrow. And also why on earth can't you print the photographs from the CD in Delhi itself? Saves time no?

DC ( verrry condescending tones): Arre baba, to print pictures we need to have the negatives na. How can we print without negatives?

Me: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In other words, stunned silence for two minutes.

Me: Do upgrade yourselves from the Stone Age. You can print the damn things from the CD. Directly!!No need for negatives. Really!

DC: Aacha? Has off line conversation with someone else verifying whatever I just said.Sarcasm is totally lost on her. Haan theek hai. Then please send us 2 copies of the CD. ASAP.

Me: ( thoroughly stressed thinking about how this brainless person manages to survive...doesnt one need brains to live!?) : My dear girl!! You can make an umpteen number of copies from the CD I sent you. There is no logic in making copies of CD's here and sending them by courier to you!!

DC: Oh aacha aacha.. Ill get back to you. But in the meantime just make the copies anyways na!

!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gawd!!

Conversation 2:

Delhi Colleague 2 at 8.30 in the evening on a horribly stressful workday: Ronita 2 months back we had an event in Bangalore, there were some 30 odd clips, you need to source all the original papers and send me the copies by tomorrow.

Me: (WHAT THE F***): Its not possible. Which vendor will have newspapers 2 months old and how do you expect us to source papers at this time of the night and put them in the courier so that they reach you tomorrow?

DC2: See all that is not my headache. I have to make a report to the worldwide head of XYZ client on how PR effort has pushed sales and made an impact (yeah right!!!!!). I dont have time to deal with your bureaucratic red tapism ( Huh!!?? I think he just learnt the term and is keen to use it anywhere anyhow..only explaination I can think of) right now, so please do what Im telling you or Ill have to escalate the matter (again, I think he just learnt the term)

Me:( dynamite in head on slow burn mode, but approaching danger mark rapidly) And you were waiting for two months after the event to tell me to source newspapers to add a touch of excitement to my life were you!? If the bloody presentation is tomorrow why the hell couldnt you have told me about this shit at least yesterday if not at the time of the event?

DC2: Look I dont have time for this shit!! Just do what Im asking you to do, or I will really have to escalate matters. And I also need full translations of all Kannada clips on XYZ in the last 2 months, 1st thing tomorrow morning.

Me: (Thats it!!! Dynamite explosion in head): Full translations of every damn clip is sent to you as soon as it appears!! Kindly read your mails( you bloody moron!! Also, learn some manners, lose the attitude and learn to speak proper unaccented English while you are at it!!!). As for escalating issues, I am dying to escalate this issue believe me. So you escalate it at your end and Ill escalate it at mine. And dont call me with such ridiculous requests at such short notice. ( I bang down the phone).

After everything and after much fighting and escalating of issues DC2 sent 3 mails demanding translations, something which has been sent to him thrice in the past and twice after that. Maybe he is blind...or incapable of reading...poor man!!

While I write this post, this senior man from Delhi has just arrived. I can hear every syllable he is uttering on his cell while walking up and down in the corridor outside. There is this boy I know, from my old PR agency's Delhi office who insists on calling me every second night at around 12.30 and saying "Aachaaaaa... phir...aur batao.." ( complete with irritaing accent). I have told him he is keeping me from much needed rest. I have told him not to call me unless he has something definite to say and definitely not to call me so late. I have hung up on him. I have not answered his calls. Nothing works. He calls every second day and says the exact same thing!!! LOUDLY.

There is also my colleague in Bangalore who recently moved here from Delhi. She has the audacity to sit in South India and say " yaar yeh South Indians bhi na!! Horrible food.Do you get North Indian food here? Or just idli dosa!?" And we blame foreigners for being ill informed and having stereotyped notions about India!! She talks money at the drop of a hat. Another very annoying Delhi trait..."oh this is the most expensive variety of chooda you can find", "this suit cost so and so...", "my husband is earning so and so"!!! Donno how we all manage to grit our teeth and smile and not slap her silly face.

My client, another Delhi-ite...although originally from the field of advertsing and not PR, is probably the dumbest human being I have ever met. She wants us to provide benchmarks for every activity, by which she means not only give her a list of target publications but also indicate the number of column centimetres we will get in each of them. Something that not just us, but no PR agency will be able to do as editorial content depends on so many factors. My boss, with 15 years experience in the industry has explained all of it to her. Also told her that the lack of benchmarks and related problems of measuring PR effectivemess is the biggest problem that the PR industry is faced with. She spent 2 hours pateintly explaining all this to this dumb creature, who nodded and said I see. Then called up the next day and asked us to provide her with minimum cc's we would get in every target publication. How? How people? How doI tell her to go away and try to grow a brain!!!!????

I have never been to Delhi. I have several friends in Delhi who work for news channels/ tech firms/ newspapers etc. Rahuls cousin from Delhi is a very sweet boy, I like him very much indeed.None of these people are this dumb. Or this loud or this aggravating or this pushy!!! They are nice and decent and likeable. I must therefore conclude that all the assinine creatures of Delhi join PR agencies and annoy people in other offices!! My blood pressure is soaring from having to deal with these people. Dono't know how much more I can take. GRR.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friends

A friend is getting married. Well, almost all my friends are getting married, but T is different, she is the first friend from my circle of friends in school to get married. I dont think any of us expected T to be the first one...we though maybe TR or SD would be the first...but look where life takes us.
There were 6 of us...there was T, and SD, and RD(not me the other one) and MC and SR and myself. What brought us together? I dont know really, we were all so different...school was thwe common factor I suppose. Although I became friends with them at different points in time. SR and I have known each other from the time we were 2 years old..we plan to celebrate 25 years of friendship next year. MC and I got to know each other pretty early too, I think we were in Lower Kindergarten..or Class Infants as we called it in my school. T was next..we were about 10 years old in class five. SD and RD were both befriended much later in class nine I think. All 6 of us, as a group came together only in the last two years of school..ninth and tenth. My closest friends from school.
I remember the Annual Day Concert when we were in Class Two or Three..it was some sort of a circus thing and SR and I were supposed to be acrobats. We were to crouch on stage and these two girls were supposed to climb on our shoulders and we were to stand up with them perched on our shoulders. Which was all very well, except that the girl I had practised with fell sick at the last moment and they replaced her with a much much heavier girl. At the crucial moment, on stage I discovered that I just wasnt able to stand up with this new weight...so I did what any desperate little girl would do..I grabbed SR's shiny purple shorts and pulled myself up...which of course meant that her shorts slipped down..on stage!!!! She still gets upset whenever she remembers the incident, although in my defense, noone in the audience noticed that her shorts were lopsided..they all just laughed at me!!
I remember T as a tiny skinny little girl with two ponytails...the baby of the group. She fell down once on the terrace during tiffin break and hurt her hand very badly. We took her to the Dispensary for medicines, but that bitchy lady who sat there just kept shouting at her for breaking the rules and running on the terrace. Poor T took 2 minutes of that shouting and then burst into tears...I remember getting very angry with that female for making T cry (yes I was always very short tempered).
I remember playing passing the parcel at MC's birthday parties. She shared her birthday with her gradnfather and there would always be two cakes at her party and both she and Dadu would cut the cake. I remember the "day spends" at T's house. I remember my own birthday parties with all these and more kids screeching and shouting and laughing.
Got to know RD and SD much later...RD was the clown of the group. She was hopeless. And we all loved her for it. I remember covering her Physics file 10 minutes before submission for ICSE markingbecause she was just wandering around the room vaguely saying "ei tora keu eta ektu molat diye de na..aami molat dite jaani na"(please cover this for me I dont know how to do it). I rememebr getting together in SD's house to copy and fudge Physics experiments from her (she was the only sincere studious one among us all, RD just sat and giggled throughout, so in the end, not only did SD, T, and I do our own fudging, we also completed RD's file for her. She arrived to write the first of the ICSE exams without her admit card. Thanks to the alphabetical order of our names we were next to each other.During the mandatory session of praying that happened before everything (convent school extra pious nuns...you get the picture) I heard this vague sniffling from behind me and when I turned I saw RD sobbing. Her mom had apparantly gone back home to fetch her admit card and not yet returned so my friend was panicking. School fortunately had anticipated such things from us, and had a bucnh of duplicate admit cards ready...so she could thankfully write her exam. She giggled at me throughout the Geography exam because she didnt know anything while I (according to her), was writing furiously.She also threw up on me one early morning because she arrived well prepared for a Biology exam while in fact we were to write a Chemistry exam that day. She also threw up all over her Computer Science homework T's homework both their feet and the Computer teacher's carpet (they had gone to her house to submit an overdue assignment). None of s blamed her or got angry with her for any of this. We just "its RD" and proceeded to clean up/look after her etc. She was the crazy fun loving girl whom everybody loved and who could make us all laugh at any given point in time.
SD...well she was the serious sober one with a cutting witty sense of humour. Her one liners and their timing could have you rolling around on the floor helplessly. We went to the same Bangla tuitions, and how poor Aunty managed with both of us I really don't know. She gave us this reeeeeaaalllly difficult passage for comprehension once, and one word that we had to provide a synonym for was "marjar". Being rather weak in Shudhdho Bangla, we both had a whispered discussion as to what we thought the meaning could be, and after much deliberation I wrote Jhyata (Jharu) and she wrote jomadar (sweeper). Considering that the actual meaning was "cat" its a wonder Aunty didnt box our ears...she merely laughed and laughed and laughed.
When I think back on those years, I remember carefree days filled with laughter and giggles and fun. We seemed to find everything funny (Girls really do giggle a lot don't they?) We would go for lunch on shoshti(1st day of Durga Pujo) to Peter Cat and then walk back to T's place on Ballygunge Circular Road. SD would be grumpy and would complain incessantly, RD and MC would be on their own trip..giggling, waving to random boys etc , SR after a point would take off her shoes and walk barefoot much to SD's chagrin while T and I would just march ahead (T was the only one who would walk as fast as I did). We would stand in a row under the Grand Hotel Boulevard(or whatever that thingy is called) hold each other around the waist and walk together while we chanted soem ridiculous rhyme that went "There was.. a girl.. so tall..so fair..."(have forgotten the rest) the idea was to walk to the beat of that rhyme. Of course people stared...we just giggled and laughed and ignored them all. I remember standing on the road near T's house and jumping up and down to pluck leaves and these fruit thingys that looked like pine cones for our Geography project. Truck drivers smiled and passed lewd comments, people stared and said nasty things about "aajkal kar meyera" (girls these days) but nothing upset us, we collected our foliage and cones amidst much giggling and laughing and went home.
We talked about boys in general and of course in particular. Good looking boys , a rarity in Cal in those days (dont know if things have changed) were given the codename "hariyali" so that other people wouldnt understand. We burst into fits of helpless laughter if ever any teacher told us to "do it". I acquired a boyfriend in class 9, much to everyones excitement. And RD went on and on about the "pleasures of life" she was sure I would be enjoying ( of course the fact was that we met once a month if we were lucky, on a crowded road..but convincing RD of that was a tough job). T and I belonged to this group called LTS and we met boys during the interschool events. Much giggling and confiding happened about a few of those boys...needless to say, nicknames were given to each one.
So many memories...the visit to Presidency Jail, mad murderess woman demanding T's watch, wanting to throw Pepsi over the quizmaster's head during some fest, our first taste of beer in RD's house...we washed the glasses with Aramusk soap ( we couldnt very well go and ask her mother for Vim bar could we?) and sprayed perfume in them to make doubly sure, walking into DBPC to deliver soemthing and being stared at by all kinds of boys. One group of boys waited for us to come back and nudged each other and said in very audible whispers "look look thsoe girls are back.."! Talk about raging hormones!!!!
The one piece of news about T's wedding has thrown me into this completely nostalgic mood. Things changed you know, we grew up, moved to different cities, changed. We still laughed and giggled, but not in as a carefree a manner as before. Complications set in. Was it the times that was complicated? OR was it just us? We resented T for choosing new friends over us, of course she always denied it, but we felt that she was happier with her new friends. We still kept in touch, but not as passionately as before. I havent met T in I think over 5 years. Ive spoken to her about 5 times in that time I think. I have no idea where MC has vanished or how to get in touch with her. I am however in touch with RD, SD and SR. But even with them so much has changed. RD has become soooo mature. She has lost that irresponsible laughter. Events in her life have turned her from this naive lovable girl into this strong sad woman. While Im glad she has grown up and is strong, I wish it didnt have to be at the cost of her happiness. SD and SR have changed too. Caught in the mundane boredom of jobs, responsibilities etc they too have become more serious. Have I changed?? I dont know. I guess I have. As RD said the other day..we all started out together but life has taken each one of us in different directions.
Then T called. To tell me that she is getting married. And to insist that I be there for the wedding. In a moment of bitterness several years ago, I had decided that I wouldnt go out of my way for T. Then she called. I dont know how, but the bitterness just vanished. In that one moment I made up my mind that I would indeed be there for her wedding. Theres no way in hell that Im missing my friends big day. I hope she and RD and SD and SR and MC(wherever she is) will be happy. Life may have taken us in differwent directions and treated us in different ways, but we will always have each other. Changed, more serious, more depressed, less cheery, richer, poorer..who cares!! We have been with each other from pigtails to perfume, ( a line stolen from T's entry in my slam book)..that's gotta count for something right!?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Coorg Adventures

Right..so I went to Coorg for New Years. The whole trip was quite an adventure from the word go. But before I get into the details, there are a few things you should know about me:

  • I love plans...everything should be planned to the last detail. I do not like "we will get there and then figure out" kind of things. And I get totally upset when things don't go according to plan.
  • I'm quite a punctual person and absolutely HATE to be kept waiting, specially if Im ready to go somewhere.
  • I am slightly hyper about travel and bus/train/flight timing. I like to reach the station at least 30 mins before the bus/train is scheduled to leave and at least 1 hour before the flight is scheduled to take off. (My grandfather used to reach the station 2 hours before time and my dad would like it if we reached at least one hour before..so its an inherited family legacy type thing.)
  • I am not too comfortable about my travelling companions getting off the bus/train at stops. I get worried and tense and expect the vehicle to take off without aforementioned companions. Some people who have travelled with me in the past, specially in buses have complained that I do not let them even get off to pee. (Rohini's exact words were " It doesnt matter if you are dying of kidney stones or having labour pains, if you are with Ron you just cannot get off the bus"..which I think is a little unfair)
  • I am basically suspicious of auto drivers(long experience in Bangalore) and human kind in general and am always ready to believe the worst of them.

Right so to get on with the story... some details of our Coorg trip...what was planned at least:

  • Bus was at 10.30 p.m. We both needed to pack. So I instructed Rahul to leave office by 6.30 go home, pack and be at my place by 8.30 pm. We would grab some dinner( I knew exactly what we could eat for dinner) and then be at the bus stop by 10.00 p.m. I think I was extremely reasonable and my time planning was perfect, some people's opinions on this should just be ignored.
  • We were supposed to reach Virajpet by 6.30 am.(at least that was what the female at the KSRTC counter had told me) Then take local bus from there to Kabbinikadu junction from where the resort people would pick us up ( its on top on a mountain and only vehicles with 4 wheel drive can get up that road).
  • Once we reached Virajpet, we would immediately go about trying to find return tickets and book the same to avoid last minute tension and worry (mostly on my part).

What actually happened was:

  • Rahul reached my house only at 9 p.m. I was hopping mad by then. There was no time to pick up dinner according to my plans. So I did what any reasonable person would have done: refuse to eat!! It took a lot of coaxing and apologising and blaming the traffic on Rahul's part for me to finally relent and eat dinner at bad Andhra joint near the bus stop. As a result, we reached the stop only at 10.20 p.m.
  • Bus journey was awful. The roads after Mysore are REALLY bad. Suggestion to anybody else who might be planning to visit Coorg, dont do a night journey, its really not safe, accidents are just waiting to happen on that road. Anyways, to get back to the point, we were in this constant state of semi dozing wakefulness which was more exhausting than not sleeping at all.
  • We reached Virajpet at 5 a.m. We stepped off the bus into a dark cold road, completely deserted execpt for a couple of cows and us. There is not bus station to speak of..just a tiny little shelter type thing.
  • We shivered there for a while, and then found helpful auto man who told us that local buses would start plying only at 7 a.m.
  • There was no question of standing on the road for two hours in the freezing cold, so when the auto guy offered to drop us to Kabbinikadu junction we readily agreed.
  • However, the moment that rickety old auto left the town limits, I started panicking. (Please Note: I panic very quietly when Im very scared and am not very vocal about it). We were on this completely deserted, pitch dark hill road. Anything could have happened, the guy could have robbed/killed us, we could have had an accident, the auto could have broken down...anything. taking that auto was the single most stupid decision of my life. I clenched my fists and my teeth and said "Please let us reach safely God" again again in my head. The only good thing of all the panicking was that I didnt realize exactly how cold it was. Even the sight of Rahul in a pullover and two jackets with hood over his head didnt drive home the point.
  • At one point, the auto man just stopped. The moment he cut the engine two things happened a) the headlight went off and we were plunged into the most inky darkness ever and b) I stopped breathing, convinced that he was going to turn around with a knife and demand money. Which didnt happen of course. He merely wanted to fill oil or some such thing.
  • Rahul stepped out of the auto, looked up at the sky and said "Ron come out and see the sky..its beautiful". I replied in a small voice "Ummm..Im very scared you know." To which my hero said " Dont be, its Coorg"...and continued to star gaze. I have no idea what he meant or why he thought it was comforting.
  • About an hour later, we were dropped off under a solitary tree. Auto man took money asked our names and sped off into the darkness, leaving us to realize that we did not have any signal on our cells. Therefore we couldnt call the resort.
  • Rahul, (bright child he is) saw a board for some kind of a home stay thingy some 400 metres off. So we walked up to it. By then I had stopped panicking and was just beginning to feel the cold. The door to the house was wide open("Its Coorg" said rahul by way of explaination). We tried coughing, stamping our feet, knocking politely etc but when nothing worked we banged on the door till the owner woke up. (I was beginning to turn blue with the cold so thank god). We turned on the charm etc and he very kindly called the resort and asked them to pick us up....from the actual Kabinikadu junction which was some 2 kms down the road we had come. the auto had overshot.
  • Left with no alternative, we walked back two kms to the actual junction. It was awesome. For the first time in my life I saw dawn break and night turn into day. Surrounded by hills, on a completely deserted road, with our breath misting in front of us....amazing.
  • The resort guys picked us up and everything. We realized the need for jeeps etc for transportation as soon as we hit the mountain trail. It was a mud track that went up vertically,,almost 90 degrees...no kidding! Really! The resort was GORGEOUS!!! Surrounded by hills, the only noise there was that of birds chirping!!!
  • We slept for most part of the day. After lunch we went for walk in the mountains. Looooong walk through the beautiful quiet jungle, which convinced me that trekking cannot be all that bad (but only is we can come back to nice room and loo).
  • It was perrrrfect till we were confronted by a herd of cows with the biggest horns I have ever seen in my life. I swear!! Those horns were ENORMOUS. We immediately gave them the right of way, to argue with cows with horns like those on a desertedjungle trail is a very bad idea.
  • Which was all very well. But as my luck would have it, the last cow with the biggest horns of them all, stopped dead in its tracks and looked at me. I mean it cocked its head, pawed the ground and just looked at me. I looked back at it...although with an added touch of mild hysteria and muttered "Rahul its looking at me,its looking at me, it has horns it has horns" repeatedly. We stood there, the cow and I, (with Rahul looking helplessly between the two of us and saying "Relax its just a cow, dont move it will go away"with eyes locked etc till the small cowherd (aged about 10/11 years) skipped merrily down the road, slapped the creature on its butt and shooed it along the road. He also cackled very loudly and rudely at me. I could hear him laughing all the way down the mountain.
  • The rest of the trek was quite uneventful, although very beautiful and a lot of fun.
  • The result of this very eventful day was that we fell asleep by 10.30 p.m. and were fast asleep when the clock struck 12.

The journey back:

  • We were dropped back at Kabbinikadu junction by the resort in time for the 12.30 p.m. bus to Virajpet. We waited till 1.15 only to be told that the bus had broken down somewhere and there was no saying when it would arrive. We arranged for overpriced rattletrap jeep to convey us to Virajpet.
  • I of course was highly stressed by then because we had not booked return tickets. But Rahul handled it all beautifully and ignored my stressed out self till we were in the bus and I was destressed. We had strange tasting Mallu meals near the bus stop.
  • We had to wait for about 20 mins at the stop for the bus. Inspite of that Rahul waited till the bus was about to leave to go to the loo. The driver started his engine and all and the stupid boy was still not in his seat, so once again I panicked, jumped to the front, poked the driver, flapped my arms about and said "No No Wait Please" till he showed up.
  • I objected very vociferously to him getting off at stops after that...even to pee. And sat bolt upright in my seat and looked anxiously out of the window, at the driver and the conductor and again out of the window till I saw him returning.
  • It took us 8 long hours to reach Bangalore, during which time we finished 1 500 ml bottle of Coke, 1 bottle of Frooti, and 8 packets of chips.

So that was that. I had a lovely New Years inspite of all the misadventures. That place was TOTALLY worth it. And much as I hate to admit it, I have come to the conclusion that Rahul is a less hyper, more sensible person than I am, not to mention wonderfully tolerant, and patient ...I mean he never once lost his temper or snapped at me even when I was at my psychotic worst. He also never once screamed at me for forgetting to get return tickets, whereas if it had been him who had forgotten then I would not have let him forget it in a hurry.

There!! I've said it. Are you happy now???

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mothers sisters snakes and porcupines

Helloooo..Happy New Year to everybody once again.What did you all do on 31st??

I had a most adventurous weekend getaway in Coorg and have come to the conclusion that trekking can actually be fun provided I can come back to decent room with clean loos. Sleeping in a tent and all is not happening.

More about my Coorg holiday in next post, right now as promised have posted pics of my mommy with snake. She looks absolutely delighted with her life!! Also given below isa pic of my sister. My poor father..how he steadied his hands to take pics of snake embracing Ma I really dont know.

Sister and sojaru (porcupine). I suppose I should be relieved that she isnt trying to embrace the porcupine. It looks kinda cute though, doesnt it?




Ma and snake. Please note, its not a python as I had said earlier, it is a boa constrictor (is that how you spell it?) My mother insisted that I correct that erroneous statement immediately.