Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sign of the Times

Oink Oink...pigs are about to take on the world.As Allan’s status message suggests,”Revenge of the Ham: Pigs are ready to rule the world.”This would be George Orwell’s most dreaded day…remember Animal Farm?

The whole world is in the grip of the H1N1-A Influenza virus commonly known as Swine Flu.It all started in Mexico and spread outward like a nuclear blast’s plume.And finally it has to come the one place where it is beng accorded celebrity status…INDIA.

Officially 21 people have died so far due to complications arising from Swine Flu and the nation is on a high alert.Many are infected and even more have what can be called “I-think-I-have-swine-flu syndrome”. Everything in India has to be larger than life otherwise we just don’t like it, do we? Governements all over the world are tackling this pandemic but here the response is knee-jerk. In any case the point in case is the hype surrounding the Swine Flu.

I was in Noida for four days and what I saw again strengthened my belief that the NCR is a land of hype and “15-minutes-of-fame”. Imagine this:

N-95 masks are the standard advised masks to be worn for protection against Swine Flu but in the NCR a whole new thing has sprung up called “Mask Couture” where-in multicolored masks with different logos, motifs and cartoons are being sold in stores.Sporting a “different” mask is becoming a new way of asserting one’s unique identity.Waah Delhi!

Some people have gone to the extent of organising…guess…”SWINE FLU PARTIES”! The logic behing these parties is equally hilarious; you invite a lot of people known to you and try to especially invite all those who are showing early symptoms of swine flu.Then you dance and mingle with them to catch the virus.Reason being that if you catch the virus when it is relatively mild you build up your immunity against swine flu!!!

And to top it all, what if more people in India are dying of AIDS than swine flu, after all you can flaunt only what you can show.So bring out all your colorful masks and put on your dancing shoes…I’m cordially inviting you to my own Swine Flu party… who knows,we might just build some immunity.


P.S. For the information challenged people like me, Swine Flu isn’t caused by pigs.It’s been given this name simply because it attacks pigs equally fast as it does to humans.The meat of an infected animal poses no risk of infection when properly cooked.Why to hurt the poor pig then?


So here I am again, typing away on my rickety old HP writing one more of my wildly imaginative stories.Read on….

It was a semi clouded Friday night; the stars were shining like small diamonds sprinkled on black velvet separated by white mist, and the ocean was not in a good mood (probably trying to prove its point to the rock face).Sitting on the pier at the waterfront, Guy was not his usual self….
It was as if something was brewing within him or was it that something had actualy stopped ticking inside?

“I am not able to function in all normalcy but I’m good at keeping up appearances so as along as I don’t want to show who I am, nobody will come to know”, he said to himself.Probably this was what was causing him all his troubles, he kept his feelings to himself just as a poker player kept his cards close to his heart.

He had to TALK to somebody…..he had hidden his grief way too long and it was killing the most important thing in his life had ended some nights ago.The plans, the dreams, the promises…..
He saw a stray dog approaching the pier and called the dog toward him.The dog came forward shakily, balancing its fear of humans mixed with the hope of getting some food to eat.Guy took out a pack of biscuits and gave some to the dog to eat.The dog sat next to Guy and Guy started his story….

“It was May 1, 2008…my dream date had finally agreed to meet me for just one time.I was more than excited, after all it was after 7 months of being nothing more than an anonymous face had she said yes.Technically, that was the last time I could probably see her.I had got admission to a premier B-school and won’t be coming back to New Delhi for the next two years. She had decided the date and I decided the venue – a coffee shop.I know it sounds so unimaginative to meet a girl for the first time at a coffee shop but she said she’d be safer in a crowd if I was dangerous.Look at me doggie man, here I am telling you about the most important date of my life and you’re busy licking your feet.”The dog looked up and as if taking cue, immediately sat still with all its concentration on Guy.”Much better, thank you”, Guy said.

“I reached the place earlier than the fixed time, early would be an understatement.I reached a good two hours earlier.I roamed around in the vicinity checking out the various shops, making a mental map of the area.Looking at my watch, I decided to go to the nearest bookstore and do some book browsing.I went to some bookshop and picked up a copy of “The Rogue Economist”.Interesting, I thought as I read the back cover of the book.A couple of chapters later, I was so engrossed in the book that I lost track of time and my reading session was disturbed by a strange, harsh sound…my cellphone’s ringtone!O Lord, I completely lost track of time and she was now waiting for me in the coffee shop.Gotta run.”

“Out of breath I stormed into the coffee shop and looked all around to find a girl waving at me.(I had sent her my photos but she didn’t)I looked around, there was no one behind me.Was this girl waving at me?Then for the first time I heard her voice – “you are Guy right?”I was just floored by the sight of that beauty, she sure was one in a million.I managed to regain my voice and said a feeble yes.So much for the first impression, I thought.”
“And this is how I met Gal”, said Guy stroking the dog.

The dog seemingly had lost interest in the story, maybe even it wanted the slow paced story to pick up speed.Sensing the same, Guy started again,”When I got back home that evening, I felt as if I was among the clouds.Nothing could match that feeling, neither the thrill of sending a tink bomb to the girls hostel nor the fear of seeing a car approaching with absolutely no space to go.It was the happieast moment of my life till then, I had seen in person the woman I always dreamt of.It was like touching the sky itelf.After that things proceeded well, I came here and she got into TISS.She always wanted to help the down trodden and had a soft corner for abused women and children.We talked on and off through Gtalk.” At this point the dog’s ears spiked up as if it’d seen a ghost…the wind had picked up speed and it looked as if it was going to rain.Guy and the dog ran to a nearby shelter, both man and dog slightly wet due to the rain.The dog looked upto Guy as if wanting to hear the remaining story.

“We talked whenever we could find time, MBA is a time consuming course and leaves little time for interacting with people outside the confines of the B-school.But whenever we talked, we poured our hearts out to each other.We had all kinds of discussion possible under the sun right from predatory pricing to marital abuse to child trafficking. She was the one person I wanted to talk to before I went to sleep.Things kept on progressing and slowly we shifted from Gtalk to phone.Probably we both wanted to hear each other’s voices.Sounds silly, but I was kind of happy deep inside and knew I wanted more out of this.”Guy’s voice trailed off…

The rain stopped and the dog ran out to the pier, maybe to chase away the last drop of rain lingering in the air.Guy followed shouting,”Doggie… doggie…aarghhhh…..Dodo!” And the dog stopped.Then and there Guy decided the dog’s name – Dodo.”Dodo, listen to me or else you are not getting anything to eat and I might just throw you into the open sea.”Guy scolded the dog.

“Now is the part when it starts going downhill,”Guy sighed.”Everything was going normal, then one day while talking she became sad and I asked what was wrong.She just said, she almost remembered her past. And then she said guys like you make me remember my past again and again.That came as a bolt of the blue.How did I become a part of her past? After much cajoling, she told me her story…she had hidden such a big truth all this time.I was taken aback and at the same time amazed by the inner strength of this woman who had seen so much still was able to hold her own ground.I was even more drawn to her.”Guy stopped short…probably still thinking of her.He started again,”After a few days, I decided that now was the time to pop the question.I liked her, loved her, respected her and she was all I wanted.So why not now?One night, I gathered all my strength and blurted out the question.I had anticipated a slight rebuke kinda reaction but what happened next was way out of the ordinary.She screamed on the other end…all you guys are the same,someone confides in you and then you decide to become saviours for a broken soul.In turn you end up getting closer and closer and then go away leaving the soul even more shattered.You are no different.Just go!And she put down the phone.”Guy was almost on the verge of crying, when the dog snuggled upto him.Maybe the dog wanted to hug him, but couldn’t.”.I still don’t understand what went wrong.Was I too eager? Too early? Or was it something deeper? I guess the only logical explanation could be that she has suffered enough and doesn’t want to bear anymore.So she would never let someone get too close for comfort.I tried to breach that ice wall and the wall fell on me. She isn’t picking up her phone. She isn’t repsonding to my mails and isn’t online on Gtalk too.”Holding back his tears guy said,”Maybe this was where the story was supposed to end.Maybe we were supposed to come into each other’s lives only to go away.I may never understand why she said no.Maybe she had her own reasons.I guess this is where I should ask God why me?”Guy looked up into the sky and just stared; uttering nothing.Probably he was getting his answers without speaking out the question.”The only way I have now to get to her is to stand in front of her, but what are the odds?Will she even acknowledge my presence or would she walk across just as a stranger would? Nothing I do will change her decision, I know her well.”A tear rolled down Guy’s right cheek and sensing the mood, the dog started jumping around Guy as if to cheer him up.And all of a sudden Guy spoke, “I got my answer!! We were never meant to be, she only came in my life to teach me empathy.I learnt my lessons and she went away after her job was done.She was my dream, my angel.”With this, Guy stood up and started waling towards his car, the dog still at the pier.waling some distance, Guy stopped and turned back to see the dog looking at him.”Dodo”, Guy shouted.”Come, we are going home.”
The dog went running to Guy.The first rays of the sun were peering from behind the clouds.In Guy’s heart too, the grief was turning into gratitude for the woman who taught him about life.

Into the rising sun, Guy and his Dodo walked…..a man who needed a friend and a dog who never had a friend……….