Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Elevator

Why is the elevator one of the most un-social of the places even when so many people ride in an elevator together at any given point of time? Why does it so happen that people are talking amongst themselves but as they enter the elevator, they stop talking and stare out of the contraption if its glass or just look towards the ceiling never once speaking until they reach their destination?
With these random thoughts going through the head of Wayne, he got into the lift to take him to his floor in the huge building. As the lift doors were just about to close, a hand stopped the doors and one more guy hopped in. And the doors closed…the lift started moving. It was raining outside and the raindrops were making patterns on the plate glass walls of the lift. Both guys casually looked at each other and both looked at each others IDs which were just hanging from the belt clip re-tractors. (That’s a fashion statement these days I guess)
Just then the lift came to a halt! It was a mechanical failure perhaps as the lights went off and the only light came into the lift through the glass walls. The orange-ish hues of the street light were painted across both men in the lift. Still the same escalator silence. Neither spoke a word. Finally after a tense minute the emergency phone buzzed. Wayne picked up the phone and on the other side was the lift technician, “sir, there is a mechanical failure and we are working on it. But it will take some time to fix.” To this Wayne replied, “Umm…Ok…but at least have the lights on and try getting the fan to work too.”
So now with not much choice left, Wayne was looking out of the glass walls while the other guy was fiddling with his mobile phone, typing away messages (most probably assuring loved ones that he’d be a little late but would come home). I think God was in a mischievous mood as the cell signals dropped and other guy exclaimed, “just perfect, shit!”
This was the first time any of them had spoken in the lift. Sound is also like gravity, once it gets a push….from then on its just rolling motion. He looked at Wayne and asked, “So you new to the organization”? To which Wayne replied, “Yes, just came here. What about you?” The other guy replied, “I’m Dr. Simon, a little old here”.
Looking at the ID Dr. Simon asked Wayne if they knew each other.”Your name sounds familiar, as if I have heard about you or something”, Dr. Simon commented. Wayne shot back,”Dr. Simon I too think I know about you”.
“So where you from”, questioned Dr. Simon to which Wayne retorted, “actually from nowhere, been traveling a lot so no one place can be associated with me”. “So what department you working for here”, Dr. Simon’s questions were beginning to irritate Wayne and it was evident from his face that he wasn’t enjoying the attention. Now it was time for Dr. Simon to feel some heat. “I work in Sales department, how’s your Project Ark going”, Wayne said.
Dr. Simon was taken aback for a second and then he asked, “How’d you know I am working on this project? There are only 5 people who are working on this and”…before he could complete Wayne remarked, “And I know one more person who works with you. Dr. Simon, the world’s a small place and our actions are directed by the grand designer, the almighty himself”
Getting uneasy Dr. Simon mumbled under his breath, “So now I’m stuck in this lift with a psycho stalker who knows about me and my work, great!”
“You shouldn’t get too agitated Dr. Simon, is that a bead of sweat on your forehead”, Wayne said as he was chuckling inside. Just then Dr. Simon finally realized who Wayne was…and it was uncomfortable out rightly. “I have heard stories about you Wayne, but last I heard you went off the grid and stopped contact with people. What made you come back?” Dr. Simon poked.
“Oh so I am a popular guy I guess”, Wayne said to which Dr. Simon curtly replied, “Popular or not, but certainly in the news for all the wrong reasons”. “Dr. Simon…you shouldn’t be saying that…the same set of people don’t have a very high opinion of you either. So you tell me, why did you do it? I won’t bite”, Wayne said in one breath.
“I don’t need to define my actions to you and everyone knows it was your fault and not mine”, Dr. Simon shot back. To this Wayne calmly replied, “Fault or no fault, that can be subjective from a higher ground, but I lost something which you are in possession of. So either I can take it back or I can let you have it, and walk out of this lift as the door opens. But then, that won’t be fun right”?
“What do you mean by that…are you threatening me”, Dr. Simon sneered at Wayne. “Wrong words Dr. Simon, I’m not here just to threaten you…just to let you know that what you did will not be forgotten and tomorrow you’ll be more famous than you could ever imagine.” With these words, Wayne took out a piano wire and in one swift motion made a loop around Dr. Simon’s neck and before Dr. Simon knew what was happening he was flat on his stomach and Wayne had firmly planted his knee on his back to stifle his movement. Feeling totally helpless in the dimly lit, small glass box suspended on cables…Dr. Simon was desperately trying to shout for help but the wire was slowly cutting into his flesh and he could feel his neck getting wet with his own blood. He didn’t have much time...he was a doctor by training and knew what was coming for him. Soon, his eyes would bulge out of his eye sockets, lack of oxygen to his brain would first make the world around go dizzy, he’d feel claustrophobic, vision would be impaired and due to lack of oxygen, the neural transmitters would slow down further reducing his muscular movement which could be his last chance to fight off this skilled adversary. And he was right…the same happened…a very slow, painful death by strangulation for Dr. Simon, head of the Life Sciences department’s top secret project “Project Ark”.
When all that left of Dr. Simon was a lifeless body, Wayne carefully checked his pulse to make sure he’d done his job. He then flicked on a switch and the lift started moving again. He could now see what he done in full light…Dr. Simon’s eyes had bulged out so much that one of the eyes was almost dangling out, his face was contorted and there was a streak of blood on his light blue shirt collar. But then he deserved it, thought Wayne.
As the lift came to a halt, Wayne calmly walked out the door and sent the lift back to the ground floor where Dr. Simon’s body would be found next morning. Wayne could see the newspaper headlines for tomorrow – “Renowned scientist killed brutally in his own office building”, “Severe blow for Arkin Industries” and “Was Dr. Simon close to finding something big?”
Wayne went down the stairs to the security station where a guard lay slumped on the monitor, with similar streak of blood on his collar. Wayne really liked the piano wire, it was clean and it was brutal. He removed the answering machine he had installed along with the voice of the lift technician (he was good at making up voices), removed the security footage of the lift and got into another set of clothes, walking away whistling into the night with Frank Sinatra’s ‘This Town…is a lonely town’ playing on his iPod.
When he finally crossed the main gate of the building, as a symbol of completion of his task…he took out his fake ID (which was actually stolen from another employee) and kept it on the road and drove away…

Who was Wayne? Why did he kill Dr. Simon? How’d he know what Dr. Simon was working on? What was Project Ark? What had Wayne lost for which Dr. Simon had to pay with his life? And a thousand such questions…..

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Sorry guys, been really late in publishing this trip plan. I had lost the piece of paper where I had written it down, now I have found it and it is going online.

Trip Duration: 11 days (2 days transit – 9 days action)

To Andaman: Train from Goa – Bangalore – Chennai. Flight from Chennai – Port Blair.
Return: Flight from Port Blair – Chennai. Train from Chennai – Goa.

Within Andaman: Hire a cab. And where required – Cruise Ship.

Day 1: March 11, 2010

1.Cellular Jail – The symbol of British tyranny and the undying Indian Freedom Movement spirit. Huge structure, cut off from mainland India by more than 150 nautical miles. Standing in the center you’ll surely get an eerie feel of our forefathers still being there. A definite must is to visit VIR SAVARKAR’s prison cell where he was kept for 10 years. It is a pilgrimage for any one who thinks he/she is an Indian.

2.Followed up by a Light and Sound show which is narrated by the solitary Peepal Tree standing tall in the compound for over a century. ( the original tree was uprooted in the tsunami recently but it has been restored and replanted)

3.And round up the day with a sumptuous dinner courtesy our great tour planner – Nitiksh Srivastava.

Day 2 & 3: March 12 & March 13, 2010

1.Havelock Island – India’s best beaches can be found there. Pristine blue waters, so clear that you can see the ocean floor. Just like a swimming pool. Very low salinity in the water so eyes also don’t pain.
a.Radhangar Beach – Adjudged the world’s 2nd best beach. And it is almost deserted…very few tourists do it doubles up as a private beach. Great sunset.
2.Elephant Beach – Was wrecked by the tsunami but what was left behind, dead tree stumps…those add to the beauty of the beach. Snorkelling there is a must…the most beautiful corals you’ll ever see.
3.Barefoot Lunch – A pizza place run by a German lady. Amazing ambience, with a lot of coloruful posters dating back to 1930s Coca Cola posters. The DIAVOLO Pizza is my personal favorite there.

And let me add that we celebrated Pooja’s birthday at midnight on March 12. She was celebrating her B’Day in the Eastern Most part of the country. Nice way to surprise someone who’d never expect a celebration so far away.

Day 4: March 14, 2010

1.Water Sports at the Naval Complex – We had a guided tour of Indian Navy warships and then had a free run at the water sports facility in the Naval Complex. Had I and Nitiksh not been MBA grads, we would have got an Olympic Gold for India in Kayaking. For our kayaking exploits…ask the others on the trip.
2.Ross Island – Seat of British power in Andaman Islands. Overlooking the Cellular Jail but separated by a sea in between. What irony – on one side they tortured Indian Freedom Fighters and then came home to the other side and had a luxurious life. Today Ross Island is a national heritage island and is home to a large population of deer.
3.Chidiya Tapu – Close by to Port Blair is the Chidiya Tapu, another beach famous for sunsets and also a lot of bird sightings. But you have to be patient to see the birds ( We didn’t see any)

Day 5 & 6: March 15 & March 16, 2010

1.Baratang – Following the Jarwa Tribal trail, we took a 120 kms ride through a protected reserve where the last of aboriginal tribes are surviving in their natural habitats.
2.Mud Volcano – This is something you’ll rarely see anywhere. But yes, mud volcanoes do exist and they spew out…mud! Just like lava, they spew out mud and are hot..not as much as lava but yes, the mud bubbles.
3.Parrot Island – Ah, beautiful. Waiting in the middle of nowhere for parrots to flock to an island…known as the parrot island. We were thinking we were duped by the boatman but in just about half an hour easily 1400-1500 parrots descended on one island! It was cacophonous!
4.Limestone Caves – Wow! Saw Stalagmites and Stalactites in geography books only. Now saw them first hand and it was amazing. The caves remain closed during the rains as they get flooded and when the water recedes then the stalagmites and stalactites grow.
5.Mt. Harriet – Highest peak in Andaman Islands. Check out the Rs. 20 note. The picture at the back shows a lighthouse. That picture is shot from Mt. Harriet. It is a national reserve and has a variety of flora.

Day 7: March 17, 2010

1.Jollybouy – Another good place for snorkeling, the beach is okayish. But for me it is special as Lisa taught me how to float in water...both face up and face down. So now I know, I won’t drown…just need to learn to swim.
2.Wandoor Beach – Great place for photography. But was saddened by the chopping off of so many trees simply because a helipad had to be constructed for Mrs President!Duh!

Day 8 & 9: March 18 & March 19, 2010

a.Marina Beach – India’s longest beach. Take a morning jog or a run there.
b.Dakshin Chitra – amazing place! A collective display of the culture and arts of the four southern states. A them park based on culture. Great place for bangle shopping, artifacts and a lot of activities too…like pottery making, silk weaving etc.

This has been the best trip till date for me as I went to an unknown, mystical place (at least for me it was) and had an amazing time. Some of the most beautiful memories are connected to this trip and I will never forget this trip.

P.S. This is just what we did and where we went…there are many more places to go but we chose to leave out some places to cover as much as we could in a short span of time. Else any one planning for Andaman should also include Neil Island in the trip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Maybe goodness hasn’t died as of yet

It’s strange. Sometimes things happen which make you take a step back and wonder – was that for real? In today’s fact paced world where people don’t have time for themselves, leave alone anyone else – how can someone come around to help you and not ask for anything in return?

It has happened twice till the time of writing this piece and I’m still amazed.

I was going to my office (Wipro Depot) from Durgapur and it was a slightly overcast day. As I got into the bus, it started raining but I thought that’s ok as the journey was 2.5 hours so the rains would subside by then. I reached Kolkata and from there took a second bus to Majerhat (where the depot is situated). From there on it is a small walk to the depot but as I got down, I saw the whole road submerged in water. Actually there is no road, it is a dirt track which was now muddy with water and people were wading through the water with shoes in one hand and trousers rolled up to the knees. I stood there standing, not able decide should I also do the same or should I do something else?

I decided to take a rickshaw across the water but couldn’t find any. I saw a car approaching and asked to take me across the water but to no avail. I tried flagging off a number of vehicles but none obliged.

Then a man crossed the water with his bicycle and turned around and asked me, “dada, oi side jaabe?” (You want to go that side?). And I hopped on to the bicycle and crossed the water logged track with ease. Once we were on the other side, I asked him how much. And he said, not a problem - just help someone when he asks for help. With this the man went back and I was left standing there, wondering if people still help strangers without anything in return.

The second time it happened recently when I was in Bhubaneswar and wanted to call my friend, but my phone balance was running low so I came out to find a pay phone. It was late in the night and no pay phone shop was open. I was just thinking what to do when a man asked what my problem was. I told him I was searching an STD booth and he said you won’t find any one open at this hour. He offered his phone to me and I was taken aback. How do people get so friendly? I used his phone to make an eight minute STD call and when I asked him how much should I give him, he just said – “koi na, kabhi hum Bangalore aaye to jagah ghuma dena”. (No worries, if I come to Bangalore sometimes, just give me a tour of the city). I was again dumb struck with the simplicity and geniality of the person.

These incidents show that no matter how cynical we become, how much profit centered our lives become, deep down inside each one of us is still the good human which God created in his own image and if we all can bring out that good human outside a little more, this planet would be a much better place to live on.

That's Life

Hits & misses, stolen kisses
That’s Life.

Skipping a beat, spotting ‘the one’ across the street
That’s Life.

Waking up from a bad dream, only wishing you could erase the dream
That’s Life.

Hoping and waiting, waiting for a miracle to happen
That’s Life.

Waiting to break free, ready to push the reset button
That’s Life.

Looking towards a better tomorrow, a lot more joy and a lot less sorrow
That’s Life.

Going through a lot of storms, but finally knowing what really matters
That’s Life.

Leaving behind friends, no idea when and where; but when you are all alone, you turn back to see them still here
That’s Life.

Wiping the dust off the mirror, and finally meeting the real you
That’s Life.

In the end shedding a tear, but ultimately being free of the fear
That’s Life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

10 Things which let you know you are in West Bengal!

1.Starting from the Netaji Subhas Intenational Airport (which looks like an 80s Soviet airport)…when flight touchdown on runway at 10.20 pm means the shuttle bus will arrive at 10.45 pm…you know you are in West Bengal.

2.When people still carry aristocrat suitcases with military green covering (read Kau-Bho-Reeng)… you know you are in West Bengal.

3.When easily a 100 people are standing in line for a pre paid taxi and no one calls up a Meru or an EasyCab…you know you are in West Bengal.

4.When the only time people are a little active (no offence meant but a lot of rice tends to slow down mere humans) is when they have to catch a local (read Low-Caal) train… you know you are in West Bengal.

5.When phonetics goes for a toss and a ‘shirt’ becomes ‘shaart’, ‘wipro’ becomes ‘bheepro’, ‘santoor’ becomes ‘shontuur’… you know you are in West Bengal.

6.When in a compartment full of people a lady saunters in with a cup of tea in her hand and by her own mistake, brushes against you and spills her cup – Gives the shrillest shriek you’d have ever heard and the entire compartment is ready to take you down, unless you say sorry for something you haven’t done… you know you are in West Bengal. (These people literally FEAR their women!)

7.When you see opulence on one side (Tollygunge, Salt Lake) and abject poverty on the other side (Howrah Station Underpass, Burdwan Station) (And I have seen enough poor people but this is the point where human life ceases to carry the dignity of being human)…sadly… you know you are in West Bengal. (I sincerely want to ask the CPM govt. what it has done in 32 years of its unchecked reign.)

8.When moms interfere in cricket matches , snatching cricket bats and balls when their dear son (read shona-muuni!) gets out and they think that is was wrong… you know you are in West Bengal.

9.When at the slightest wind blowing, people tend to cover their ears and put a muffler around their necks (the same can be seen at beaches)… you know you are in West Bengal.

10.When rice is a staple food atleast once a day and if you take away that, the ‘Bangali Bhoot’ threatens to start a ‘Chakka Jaam’…you know you are in West Bengal.

I’m no one to comment whether a state is good or bad but what I write is purely my personal bias for or against anything. I may not like West Bengal but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad place to stay, perhaps a different kind of place to stay.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

10 Things which let you know you are in Small town India!

1.When there are very few or hardly one shopping mall and a number of SOPPING COMPLAX…you know you are in small town India.

2.When each and every wall is plastered/painted with slogans like – “dilli chalo! ABVP ka andolan hai!!” , “ Neem Hakim Baba Bengali se ilaaj karwayei..khoyi mardana takat wapas paayein” or “Learn English – join AMARICAN Institute”… you know you are in small town India.

3.When the local newspaper carries news like – “do bacchon ki maa chaar bacchon k baap sang bhaagi” , “ladki chedne k virodh mei do guto mei pathraav” , “Bhains ki current lagne se maut”… you know you are in small town India.

4.When electricity cuts and the subsequent public beating of the Junior Engineer or the lineman (“ o jee, sunte ho…fir bijli chali gai…zara Hydel k JE ko tight kare aao”) are a regular feature… you know you are in small town India. (And interestingly, people consider power theft as their birthright and then claim there’s a shortage of power)

5.When you hear words like “Bahut Rangbaaj bane firte ho” (Western UP), “Hum tumhe pel denge” (Jhansi), “Miyaan bhokaali ho rahe ho” (Lucknow) and not to forget “L*** fenk k maarunga, khaandaan C*** jaega” (Gwalior)… you know you are in small town India.

6.When the roads have more cows and dogs on them than cars…you know you are in small town India.

7.When the local administration declares a holiday for almost anything…be it rains, summers, winters and even university examinations…you know you are in small town India.

8. When the best place to hang out in the city happens to be a big garden maintained by the army cantt or a newly built maall…you know you are in small town India.

9.When people may not be able to commend on someone's job as a consultant in McKinsey or as a Bond Trader at Darashaw, but know what it is to be a Sales Exec for HUL and WCCLG…you know you are in small town India.

10.When the favorite pastime of people (read neighbours) is to poke your parents for your marriage (and you are only 24 and have just about start a job)…you know you are in small town India.

I come from this mofussil part of India which has probably been left out in the fast paced world of IT, SEZ, ICT, TechParks but maintains its own charm and has witnessed widespread exodus by young children to larger cities in search of the elusive “Great Indian Dream”. But look, sitting next to you in crisp clothes, toting a Blackberry and spewing flawless English is a person hailing from “Small Town India”. Cheerios :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

10 Things which let you know you are in New Delhi!

1.When a car stereo is not for the person sitting inside the car, but rather or the people outside to know that yes…this car has a stereo….you know you are in New Delhi. What show-offs!

2.When your neighbor(s) come(s) to your house to show his/her son/daughter’s school report card….you know you are in New Delhi. “My child got an A+, what’s your child’s grade?”

3.When women get all dressed up to go to the airport to board a plane or even worse…to receive someone at the airport… you know you are in New Delhi.

4.When the first greeting you hear in any conversation (be it a friendly one or a fight) is “B****C**D” (Sister F****r)…. you know you are in New Delhi. Apparently, according to a study this is the most common curse word used in entire NCR.

5.When in any fight between people there are less fisticuffs and more of verbal volleys like…”do you know who am I?”, “I know the ACP Karol Bagh”, “I have contacts in the ministry”…. you know you are in New Delhi.

6.Coming back to fights…when fights happen over trivial issues like parking, breaking the queue at KFC or McDonald’s…. you know you are in New Delhi.

7.When every second guy in the age group of 15-22 sports a crazy hairstyle(mostly faux-hawk, emo and other extremes), has a real skinny body frame and has a fake accent…. you know you are in New Delhi. (These call centers should be given awards for making India style conscious)

8.When every car has to have a scratch mark (big cars…small congested roads…has to be) around one of its bumpers…. you know you are in New Delhi.

9.When all roads are in circles and if you miss one turn you have to go a long distance around the city to find your way back, all this while you ask for directions and they’ll be something like, “take a left from the 3rd traffic light, then take a right from the 2nd over bridge and then you’ll see a green building….take a u-turn and then take a left!”…you know you are in New Delhi.

10.This one is very crucial….when peak office traffic at 8.30 AM in the morning is brought to a complete halt because a minister’s convoy has to be given way…. you know you are in New Delhi.

These are some of my observations about India’s capital New Delhi. There might be more which I am not able to remember at the moment. None of these are meant to demean the city in any way, every city has a distinct flavor and this seems to be New Delhi’s… hot and spicy with a dash of lime.
So pack your bags, and come to New Delhi to experience this wonderfully crazy city.