Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do they know its Christmas time?

Come back post after a long hiatus is always difficult. There is so much one wants to write about but do not know where to start from. And one must not write with something really regular as that gives a non-chalant picture of a seemingly indifferent blogger. So I will quietly slip back in to the blogging world with a christmas song that I like a lot :) 


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Sin"-ema

15 inches wide, a very old fashioned computer monitor screen never looked small or old. It was an almost-student life after all. Exams were thankfully over. This was the 'phew!' moment that came every six months. We came back from office. Wanted to rest and do something fun too.  So finally settled for a movie. There was a movie rental store around the corner. Any good movie would have done. Lets watch a new hindi movie, suggested Sandy. Ok, so we brought the latest hindi good movie , 15 park avenue, home.

Drew the curtains, switched on the kitchen light, fan on full speed, started the movie and positioned ourselves for some entertainment from the very entertaining Mrs Iyer Konkana Sen. That was the only movie of hers that we had seen so far, and we thought she could act. And we were right. But we wanted some entertainment and here we were watching a very slow, very heavy and a little dark 15 Park Avenue. As if exams were not enough for setting this atmosphere. Ok great ensemble cast, but this was not the mood. Anyway, this being the only movie we had, we went ahead with the plan and continued watching it. What were the options anyway! After a heavy dose, Noopur stretched, sighed, showed her very heavy looking eyelids that she was forcing to keep open.  Should we have some chai, asked Noopur. I thought it was a great idea but the very next moment Sandy asked - Milk? Oh no! You are right Sandy, milk is over. :(  Noops rolled her eyes. I offered lemon tea. We had one eye set on the movie all along. They reluctantly agreed for lemon tea (they didn’t know they were meeting the best in business). I stepped in the big kitchen area of my small studio apartment (sounds fancier than a hall with kitchen and bathroom). Still an eye on the movie. Those two also got back to being engrossed. The movie suddenly stopped. Probably the system was hung. I was waiting for it to carry on its own. It’s an ordeal otherwise, kill the app, unload the CD, load again, and then position it to the same scene. Noopur broke the short silence. Phans gaya hai, theek karo. Hmm.. coming. The moment I took my first step towards the computer, we saw some white text scrolling up from the bottom. It read – “A film by Aparna Sen”.

There were three stunned faces in the room. We finally got a kick out of this and could not stop laughing. So finally a dull moment was successfully converted into fun time!
Well why did I get reminded of this episode today? I saw ‘The American’. Playing in theatres near you – go watch if you want :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Snake and Ladder

Some of us were sitting and discussing company policies the other day, and shared a good laugh just thinking about some of those. I mean there is nothing funny about these godforsaken pain-in-the-butt policies, but sometimes you get a laugh out on the worst of things. Now recently there was a new policy introduced in my organization which has introduced new levels in your promotion ladder. So if you were about to go from Level 2 to Level 3, you will actually be going to Level 2.5, and you are supposed to feel happy that you got a promotion. So basically if you are eyeing 3 for some time, now you get a promotion, and you still have not reached 3. And promotions do not happen everyday right. So you are farther away from your next goal than you were, and its still a promotion, congratulations you lucky one! :)


So this got me thinking a little. What if I was one of the policy makers! How could I contribute to this policy repository with one new master policy that my people would be proud of! And after some serious work I have come up with my proposal. This new policy is called the Snake and Ladder Policy. And the punch line is – Fortune and Fortune 500 favor the brave! So this policy comprises of a normal a-step-a-time ladder (which technically is no ladder, just a step) and a real ladder (which means you could jump multiple levels at a time if you were in a right place at the right time). So progress is assured, but the progress can also be exponential. Now the only twist to this tale is, and you should never look at this as a twist but always as a challenge, that there are also snakes in between. Some small harmless ones that may throw you down a few steps, or a few venomous vipers (remember the snake at 98) that can slide you down really low. But then as they say – if it ain’t rough, it ain’t right! So rough that this journey may sound, several attempts and you will be back soon in the 90s, running again for the ultimate destination.


Fortune favors the brave. So support this policy if you believe in yourself. If you are not supporting this, you are not trusting in your abilities which just prove that you do not look promising for any elevation at all.


Special note for only some special people:
  1. No ladder takes you beyond 89.
  2. There are 6 snakes deployed between 90 and 95, one at each step. So whoever crossed over has crossed over, no one can make it past 89 in the future at all.
  3. There are some ladders that originate from outside the board that have the ability to take you past 95. This is not a common knowledge and cannot be used by anyone within the system.
I think this policy is going to be one phenomenal one and will appeal to all policy makers across corporate world. So if you want me to work on it with you, please let me know and I will work on it with you. I will charge in dollars though. After all this is brilliant, isn’t it! Be the first one to implement… GO! 


Dirty Thirty



So one more year wiser. And an inch from the worst birthday ever. Life is divided into two parts, before thirty and after thirty. Last year of the golden period before I cross over to the next part never to come back. I was talking to a colleague here, and he said well 40s are the new 30s and 30s the new 20s. I said I wanted to believe him and felt a little better. 

Now a few days back I was talking to a friend and I asked what she was doing. She said she was listening to some niiiice old songs. The immediate song that played in my head was yeh raatein yeh mausam nadi ka kinaara.., a beautiful black and white song, while I waited for her answer. And then she went ahead and answered my question -  I was listening to DDLJ songs.

DDLJ!! OLD?? So I do not believe my colleague any more. Old age is here already! :( 

And if someone wants to say age is just a number, and you should stay young at heart, my reply would be, No, age is NOT just a number. It is till you are in your 20s, but post that, it is NOT. You can not NOT care about age. It is touchy. It is old. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wise men say...

Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.” ~ Andrew Warhola (as read on Paulo Coelho’s blog)

The more I think about this line, the more real it sounds. The journey to achieve a dream or attaining something almost impossible is sweeter than the sweet final outcome of having achieved it. The quest is intoxicating, once reached, is very gratifying, but what next? 

And please believe me I do not make references to myself too much in my blog unless I explicitly state it. These are just thoughts and not my reality. This was thought provoking and the debate in my head is out in this post. The debate perhaps will still continue some more.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

mere ghar aana..

Jhingur jo shor the, unhi ka saath hai aaj kal
Ghanton kaise katein jab mushqil hai har ek pal
Mere ghar se kuchh bhi beshaq le kar jaao tum
Jhinguron se na mera tum peechha chhudana..
..kabhi fursat mile to mere ghar aana..

Thursday, May 20, 2010

its complicated!

No I do not think this is true. It can’t be. God made just one man, and just one woman. Just two human beings? Then how did the world diversify so much?? This is a lot of diversification. Take looks now. You can tell by the look of an individual which geography does he walk. But how did it all start. If climatic conditions only could make such difference, why would all multiple generation Afro-Americans in United States and all the multi-generations Asians too, not look like their American friends. I think God sneaked in some more individuals of different kinds when no one was looking. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If music be the food of love, play on!

How I wish I could sing well! How I wish I could play some instrument with ease and finesse. I could feel my fingers moving to some tunes automatically. I just knew it is about getting the keys right, I already have a sense of notes. But alas!


For the past few days I have been fooling people by putting my status message as “I am in love with my Piano”. This piano is just a very neat iPhone application. And well it works like a keyboard and you have to play it like a keyboard. It is not a game or anything else, it is a mini piano. (So technically my message wasn't entirely untrue.)

But I am struggling with it since its few days of existence in my world. I have not been able to play a single full song so far. I keep toying with the keys, but naah! Just does not seem to play the tune in my head. Guess it is not that easy after all. I have not given up though. Let’s see what lasts longer – patience, interest, iPhone. :) 



By the way, here is a piece of music that i discovered recently and liked a lot. Hope you like it as much as i did. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

e-go and do not come back!

I rode the high tide, conquered the seven skies, and earned the most coveted crown
I could have continued the saga and danced with the angels too but my ego took me down..

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Its a Movie kind of love..!

And I glide into the darkness and slide into a cushioned comfortable seat, chewing on popcorn, blackberry turned silent, aloof from the outside world, I allow myself to be engulfed into the surround sound of Dolby Digital. Trailers are important. I do NOT want to miss trailers of coming movies and hence prefer reaching for a movie ten minutes early. Perhaps the only place in the world where I reach ten minutes early. I love watching movies in theatre. I am not quite a movie buff outside it though.

When I was in Bangalore, the online bookings for a new movie opening on Friday started on Wednesday mornings. So as soon as I was up and awake on Wednesday mornings, straight to www.pvrcinemas.com and safe number of tickets booked. Safe number because now who would call everyone and ask if they were interested in watching a certain movie. I would count the least number that would surely turn up for a show and booked for all of them. Though recovering money later was always a tad painful.  People always turned up though. PVR was my favorite haunt in Bangalore without a doubt. There were days when I was unable to work because of some bad migraine, so I started early from office. And on the way back I thought how comforting it would be to sit in the darkness and AC and enjoy a coffee and a movie without being disturbed. And believe me this formula worked on me.

Movies in US were a different experience altogether. Sometimes you feel like Maharani of Patiala because you and your friends are the only few people in the auditorium. Mostly you can have the row you desire completely to yourself and there are only a handful more people in the audi. So tickets are hardly an issue. IMAX is an exception to the rule though.

18 months in US, 61 movies and of course still counting..

The End. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Main der karti nahi, der ho jaati hai...


According to my previous day’s plan, I wanted to be in office at 8. This incidentally was exactly the time when I got up this morning. What followed was chaos! Rushing and running and rushing and running and finally after half-an-hour I stepped out of the house. I reached my car to realize I did not have my car keys in my bag. I went back inside once again to get the car keys. Were not at the right place. These things irk me no end. I have designated spot for all my keys and maintain this discipline fairly well, but just on the day I am getting late for office, keys are not in place. Well it did not take too long to find it as it was sitting alone on the corner table in the living room. I picked it up, came out, got in the car, and started for office. As soon as I came out of my parking lot and crossed the next parking lot, my eyes fell on a girl standing next to the bus stop bench who was waving at a taxi far distant. In any case, these taxis do not usually stop just by waving, you need to call the agency. She was in tears. As my car moved closer to her, she expectantly looked at my car, and at me. I knew there was a story. I stopped the car and rolled down the right window. I looked at her. She leaned forward as if pleading but she had lost her speech and could not find it till this moment. I asked – are you alright?

RIT? Yes, there was a question mark. RIT is short for Rochester Institute of Technology. She was asking me if I was going that side.

No, I am going in the other direction. [Small pause] Anything urgent?

I don’t know which bus now, I missed my shuttle. It is my first day today and am late. I do not know how to go. Can you tell me when the next bus is?

I could make out she was very tensed and I also knew there was no fast alternative. I was left with two choices, leave the kid on her own, after all she has come a long way from her country, she better learn to manage on her own; and second, well get further delayed to office, drop her to RIT.

Ok I will drop you, come sit.

Are you sure? She asked, eyes visibly lit up suddenly.

Yes, I said.

Thank you so much! She jumped into my car. I asked her to wear the seat belt. She did not waste any time and wore the seat belt while still having her backpack on her back. We started. I asked her which course –  

Bachelors. Thank you so much. Hey no not this way. We should have taken a left.

Don’t worry, I know where RIT is. But I am taking this route because, one, it is picturesque and two, no one is going to catch me for speeding, it is deserted.

We reached RIT in five minutes (it is actually very close). I dropped her at the gate and she thanked me. She insisted on me giving her my number. Apparently she wanted to call me later and thank me for all of this. I did not know why this was so important, she already thanked me, but I gave her my number.  She smiled, bowed and said thanks and then ran inside.

I was late to work, not only by my standard but by all standards, was not guilty about it, and in fact felt a wee bit smug too :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Conditional Democracy..

Seven years old Ted was playing in his room on the Sunday morning. It was quarter to 12 and his Mom gave him a shout to come down for lunch. As per the usual routine, when Mom asks to come down for the meal, it means all the toys in the right places and the room tidied up. Today was different. He continued playing for ten more minutes and then went down for lunch. He obviously did not mention this on the lunch table and lunch was as usual. After lunch when Mom came upstairs and peeked into Ted’s room, she could see toys lying all over the place. Her temper shot up.
Ted what’s going on? Why are these toys outside? Why is your room in a mess?
You see Mom, in school we had a lesson on democracy. I know now that United States is a democracy and hence all the citizens have a right to their opinion. In my opinion I want my room to be my way and this is the way I think I want it to be. This is my federal a right as I am also an equal citizen.
Mom was dumbstruck for a second. But just for a second.
Ted, do you know the difference between democracy and dictatorship?
No, but I am aware dictatorship is the next lesson coming up in school.
Ok, follow me now. And she walked out of the door.
Mom where are we going? Ted followed Mom who was stepping down the stairs.
You will know in a minute.
She walked past the dining room to the garage door and opened the door.
Now step out into the garage.
He obliged, still perplexed clueless about this whole thing.
Ok Ted, now listen. This is the threshold. She pointed to the edge of step that went down into the garage. What goes on your side of the threshold is termed as Democracy. And what goes inside is called Dictatorship. So if you want to live in a democracy, do things your way, stay out. But if you want to live in this house, you will have to live by my rules. Take your pick.
Ted, visibly upset due to the introduction of this new dimension, asked - where will I go Mom?
That’s up to you son, if you want to live in democracy, figure out where you want to be. I can allow you to stay in the garage. I am your Mom after all. But if you want to go back to your room, you know what to do.
Yes Mom, said a disappointed Ted.
He came back in and headed straight to his room. All the toys were in place in the next 5 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An excerpt..!

These streets often haunted my memories. There was a sepia picture stored somewhere, popped out time and again. Sweet but painful memories. Painful, because they lived just as past. I could not turn them into my present. Wish I could donate my future to someone else who could do something useful with it. 
Here I was, on the same streets, decades later. There was anxiety as there was fear. I stood in front of the gate that I had never seen before, of a majestic house, that looked aged but with dignity. I pressed the bell. I heard some foot-steps approaching. Could it be him? What will I say? Will he recognize me? Footsteps came closer and I could see across the bars at the bottom of the gate that these feet did not look old enough.. and not as fair either. Gate opened. I could see a man in his twenties. Could he be his son? He was a pleasant looking lad. Dark brown eyes glowing against the sun. Same eyes.
Bete, who are you?
Auntie who do you want to see?
Do they live here anymore at all? I did not even care to see the name plate. Is there one outside the gate? I could not spot one.
Well.. does Mr Ram Kumar live here?
He suddenly looked up and scanned my face. Was he looking for expressions? He looked at my face searching something in my eyes. His face fell a little, and eyes suddenly stopped glinting. I was looking at him for an answer. Pause was a little unsettling.
No Auntie. He does not live here.
He does not? Oh I am sorry? He lived here some years back. I did not mean to disturb, I just came looking, wondering if he still is here. But of course I am talking about many years back. He would have changed bases. Life does not..
Auntie, he did not change his bases. His eyes welled.
Oh! My eyes welled too at the possibility of the feared. Aa..I am..
No Auntie. He is here. You just did not ask right question. He does not live, he just exists… Please come in and meet him. He has waited for you long enough.
Tears streamed out of my eyes. I entered the gate feeling… guilty..

Monday, April 5, 2010

Missing the Mania...



I remember waking up to cricket (quite literally) during 92 world cup. It used to be some big occasion in my house. My dad would set an alarm for 3am. He would be up and tv switched on as soon as the alarm went off. My uncle who was visiting us would join him and my mom would rush to make some tea. It looked like some festival. Discussions going on endlessly in front of the television, variation in commentators voices according to the shots played and stage of the game, crowd cheering in the background, it was impossible not to let that excitement engulf you. Game was not difficult to understand, was lot of fun, and I felt part of the grown up discussion if I understood and appreciated what was worth. Soon I was glued to the game.

And then series after series, the fondness grew stronger. Addiction was such that tremendous restlessness would set in if a match is on and we are unaware of the score. In school, there were always some boys in the class who sneak out from the school fences and bring the latest scores from the nearest neighborhood. As much as there were celebrations when India won, there was crying and Leave-me-alones also when we lost. And if losing was against our arch-rivals, then whining continued a tad longer. Walkman with radio was sneaked into college classroom where we three friends, all cricket fanatics, would share the headphones and follow the entire commentary. Once we did get caught. Before we could even get scared the teacher in the class asked what the score was. :) They do not exaggerate when they say Cricket is a religion in India. It SO is.

As the whole household was cricket crazy, and friends no different, this one sport gave us so many splendid moments to rejoice, to celebrate, to laugh and to dance even. I remember my mom running out of the house bare feet and the next door aunty also coming out screaming with joy when Indian won in Bangladesh in 98. My brother was out on the streets dancing with joy when a stranger stopped his bike and asked – “did we win?” and joined him in right there on the middle of the road upon hearing the response.

There was party in the house when Kumble claimed all 10 in Feroze Shah Kotla. It was so awesome! And Sachin, time and again this one man gave us so many reasons to celebrate. Be it his Sachin-storm in Sharjah, or his flamboyant performance in the world cups, especially in 96 world cup. Sachin was a phenomenon and he still is no less! Less flamboyant but no less a genius.

When Dada removed and waved his shirt, it did not suit sensibilities of many. After all it is a gentleman’s game. But we absolutely loved what he did as this is how this game is played – with passion! Moreover, he was just returning the gesture, albeit a little stronger but who cares!

After coming to Bangalore, not having a tv for some years, and then with the working hours that we usually had, cricket was mostly followed on cricinfo and was strictly restricted to Indian matches.  It still gives me gooseflesh thinking about the India-Pakistan finals in the T20. We, few friends from office, rushed to Dominoes, the nearest location we could think of with a tv. And we reached there in a good time and got place to sit. There were so many like us who came in a while later and they were left standing. Not to forget scores of them standing outside and watching through the glass wall. This match went into the final over and the suspense was killing. I have never seen a place so crowded so silent. People were tensed, some hands clasped praying, some fingers fidgeting, some people taking deep sighs and trying to breathe when it is not coming easy, and then the last wicket fell when Misbah lofted the ball to short fine leg and was caught there. And the crowd went totally berserk. You could see absolute strangers congratulating each other, and celebrating together. Who cares who is sitting with whom and who knows whom? We all were cheering for one side, there was a commonality that bound us together, and hence we all celebrated together. Such is the spirit of the game.

After I came out of the county about 18 months back, Indian cricket continued seeing some splendid games. But somehow Indians here get so entwined in their lives, and some lose interest in the game, there isn’t that energy here. I kept following cricket on cricinfo. Between hectic days and frustrating work schedule, I woke up one morning, to catch on some pending work. Logged on to laptop and logged into gmail too to see a friend’s status saying – Sachin, Sachin, Sachin, Sachin! I knew this was special. I called my Dad immediately and he just knew why I called. There was unmistaken excitement in his voice too. No hello, he said “what?” And I replied with the same –what? replicating the excitement. He replied  - yes, he is playing on 198. He did not have to explain who and I had no doubts in my mind either. And when he finally reached the landmark figure, it was so incredible!! The crease on my forehead vanished not to return the same day at least. My day went so well after that. There were few who I could share the news with. Actually I shared with all, but very few who reciprocated the excitement.

And now IPL! I did not have favorites to begin with. But since I am a Sachin fan, Mumbai Indians it is. No one else looks excited here about IPL. And this makes me miss India so much. I want to feel the excitement. I want to go back :(

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lessons

Having spent some good number of years in the IT industry on the technical side, I understand this side of the industry now. Being here and keeping my eyes open has helped me get the rhythm of this industry! I have not made it in life already that time now to start a book. But I have never hesitated from sharing what I have learnt. Lessons were many and upon “public” request, I am sharing some. :)

Ask for it: If you want it, work towards it. But at the same time express the desire to have it. Make your bosses aware that you are aspiring for it. Say it.

Value yourself: Open your eyes to the fact that there are a lot of people making mistakes and while it is great to be passionate about winning, don’t hold yourself always responsible if you do not win as beautifully as you would have wanted; or even if you did not win at all. (Unless you are sure you screwed the entire thing :) )

Don’t think you are indispensable: Anyone and everyone can be replaced. Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple and Apple survived. Vivek Paul moved out of Wipro and nothing (apparently) changed. Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev retired and Indian Team survived. Who do you think you are?

Death is near if you do not know how to survive: Software goes obsolete, hardware goes obsolete, and humans are no different. Till no one notices, you are like a chewing gum which is in the mouth for over two hours. Sugar gone, flavor gone. The moment one pays attention, you will be out in the big black plastic bag. It is important to keep learning. Or be ready to land in the big black plastic bag.

Learn to ignore: Some jargons used in industry are insensitive but are cool you know. So if you are being addressed as a Resource, or you are the Body that is getting shopped, close your eyes to it. These are harmless words and someone is feeling good and in vogue mouthing these. Some people are not even aware that this may sound insensitive and they utter it because what’s the problem – everyone says it. Let the ignorant be happy.

Humility is a boon: Never forget it at home. You will always perhaps be noticed but never be respected if you are not humble. Don’t demand respect, command respect.

Growth: Please be logical. Just because you are the best coder around does not mean you are ready to lead the team. There may be someone who is not as good a coder, but is extremely meticulous in his work and has a good knowledge of process too. Why should a not-so-good-coder code and the good coder lead? Leading does not meaning writing good code. Have you heard of the Rabbit story? Get it here.

More some other time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Baba

Baba, my granddad. I never saw him. When I was at an age I started asking questions, I found myself getting drawn to his portrait in my room. The stories that I heard about him, from Amma (my grandmom) or my Dad and Mom always infused tremendous respect in me for him. As a child when I asked them where he was, I was told that he had gone to Himalayas to meditate, to worship. No one though added the next line that I somehow added in my head – that he will come back some day. And when I reached an age where I started understanding what a garland on a picture meant, I could not believe that his picture had a garland. I wanted to meet him. For me he was the most affectionate most understanding man. I wanted to meet him, even if it meant a long wait. In my child thoughts about how people always misunderstood me, I knew he knows it all. I found him always looking at me from his picture, and he had a slight smile. This was almost reassuring that he understood me and loved me. I had this belief that he will return some day. I trusted his wisdom to know me and understand me and never misinterpret me. I wish I never had that wisdom to understand he was gone forever, and that he would never return. I wanted to meet him so much. He was my favorite.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reclaimed

There was a lot going on. A lot! I was sleepless for days together and I was feeling like a zombie. And then this trip came up. It clashed with an important milestone at work, but I decided heck there is always something or the other going on at work. I put my personal life under axe like all the time and this is most definitely going to be an exception. And I was convinced I was not cancelling my trip.

Days were busy – is an understatement. Days were crazy and Thursday was no exception. I had meetings till 4 and flight at 5.35. But you got to do what you got to do. In this case I had to go. So I approached the day with a little extra care, to be able to rush through the day as early as possible, but finally day got over at the anticipated time – 4. I left for the airport. My luggage was in the trunk of a friend’s car already so there was no detour planned. I was heading out to Charlotte to meet and spend weekend with a friend. She had an off day on Monday and that’s why this weekend worked the best. People who know me know I do things at the last minute. So she made a few phone calls to make sure I was on schedule an d was not forgetting anything. So far so good. Reached airport at 4.30 and was at the check-in counter at no later than 4.32. No queue, straight up the counter, collected my boarding pass, checked in my bag, was informed about the hour and a half flight delay and went ahead to the security check. Not a bad day really at security check either. Was through in another ten minutes. And then I had like almost two hours to go. So I made a couple of phone calls first. Then took a paper napkin and a pen to draw the state transition diagram I had in my head since the previous day of work. It got over in no time again. So I headed to the book store at the airport. This was the closest book store from the gate I was supposed to take off from. Browsing through some Jane Austen’s, and some on world war II, I was convinced I was not inclined towards either today. Started browsing world authors section. It had a neat collection of Indian authors. Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Shobha De, Aravind Adiga, and more. And I knew I wanted to pick up a Shobha De. But did not know which one. So got busy reading the cover backs.

It was going to be 6. Flight was scheduled for a 6.50 departure. I decided to check if the gates were same as printed on my boarding pass. I went to the nearest Flight timetable and scanned it for my flight number. Could not spot it. I took out the folded thin paper boarding pass from my pocket and checked for the flight number. Yes, I was looking for the right number. So I scanned the screen once more. Still not displayed. Darn Continental! Come on you can do better. I moved to the boarding gate, which had a Continental Airlines staff scribbling something on a notepad. I asked her if she was aware of the flight status. She looked at my boarding pass and said, it just left. And with, God knows why, a quizzical look on her face asked me – where were you? You missed your flight Mam.

I did what!? You got to be kidding me. How can I miss my flight! It was scheduled for 6.50 and it is 6.05.

Yes, but it was not the scheduled departure, it was the anticipated departure time because there was a delay in arrival of the aircraft. But we managed to complete the boarding in 15 minutes after it came in because we always want to make up for the lost time. And we paged for you a couple of times.

But how can I not hear when you page for me? When did you page for me? (I was being a little unrealistic at this point of time because I was so shocked. What was the big deal in not hearing it when all my attention was towards the books)

Another gentleman had joined this lady by now and he said, I paged for you myself Miss Ajay (and he said it as a-zh-ae). He went on to say, I know it is possible I would not have called your name correctly but we announced boarding and departure of the flight also a couple of times. I am sorry. Let me see what we can do best in these circumstances.

Still in shock and completely still in shock, this sounded like some hope. “Yes please! You know I need to go. It is important. Book me in the next.”

He gave me a reassuring look and looked at this computer screen. He looked at it for couple of seconds which looked like eternity to me. He raised his head in slow motion and said – the best I can do is I can confirm you on the Monday morning flight.

Monday morning! We are on Thursday evening right now. I am going for the weekend and Monday is when I come back. Can you find out if there is something available with any other provider?

Well, I can look up for you, give me a moment. And then he raised his head again to say I think with others also the fastest you can move out is going to be Tuesday morning.

My eyes welled up, but I was not crying, not yet. He suggested I should go and pick up my bag from the carousel in the baggage area.

I walked out, totally unable to digest the entire thing. A trip planned so much in advance, days spent finishing up work to make it happen, day spent to make sure I reach in time putting a cap on all that was important, and finally getting to the airport in time. Missing the flight sitting at the airport was UNREAL.

I reached the baggage area and saw my lone bag sitting on a carousel that was not even moving. It was very quiet around here. And that’s when it sunk in – I missed my flight. My screwed up life was getting worse by the minute. There were moments, there were people slipping out from my hand like sand and I was unable to tighten a grip on anything. This plane too took off without me, with confidence, without feeling apologetic. Why to feel bad about running down someone who everyone runs down. I felt like a loser! I felt enraged!

I called up my friend who I was supposed to visit – holding back my tears and fighting that lump in my throat, I said – I missed my flight.

“No you did not. What? Are you serious?” She was convinced I was goofing as I do that a lot.

I really did.

How????

I don’t know, I just did. Lump started showing in my voice.

Oh! Ok, don’t feel bad. It’s ok. Some other time. Go back home.

What do you mean by go back home? I missed my flight but that does not mean I am not coming. (I had no idea what I was talking about right now). Now get on the internet and find me a ticket.

Did you try looking for one?

Yes I did and they say there is no way I can go out. Not today, not tomorrow, and hell not after that either.

Ok, with a question mark. So what do you want me to do?

Find me another flight.

It is going to be expensive if we get one too.

I don’t care. (I wanted to get over this Loser feeling. I was ready to pay any price for it) Find me anything. ANYTHING! Please!

She was ruffled by now. “Ok let me see”. Walking between two aisles in Walmart, she applied brakes and started thinking what could she do. She called up a friend and asked him to help her research this.

In less than 5 minutes I got a call from her – urgency in her voice – Anu, run towards US Airways. They have a flight leaving in another 30 mins, they probably are boarding now. This will take you till Laguardia airport. You will get a connection from there in an hour and you will be here by 12.

I ran towards US Airways counter and asked the lady at the counter if there she could book me into the next flight and the connection to Charlotte. Her immediate answer was – you are late. Then she saw the trauma on my face and she said let me check. She tapped a few keys and said, “even if I let you board this one, there is no seat available on the connection. It is overbooked already.”

But the website is showing some seats available.

I am not sure why because we are really booked.

My face fell and she sympathized. “Let me see what I can do.” She got back to her computer screen. I got a call from Yo, my friend, again to check if I was in for some luck. I told her there wasn’t any good news so far. She started researching for more. And I just remained connected on the phone for any information. Lady at the counter asked me what if there was none today, would I like to try something for tomorrow. I told her that was my last option. I will also take something that goes till close by if not Charlotte. She went back to her screen and confirmed again there was nothing absolutely. You could tell by look on her face that she was sympathizing with me. I, dejected and disappointed, went back into the phone looking for any other half chance.

Couple of minutes (that looked liked eternity) later, that lady called me and said – if you believe in God, time to thank now. Someone just cancelled a ticket and hence we may be able to book you to Raleigh, 138 miles away from Charlotte. I immediately confirmed without any hesitation. And guess what, I was finally booked from Rochester to Raleigh. One stop.

Some phone calls later, my car was booked and ready too. I was at the boarding gate and this time I kept a close tab on all announcements and proceedings on that gate. I finally boarded the flight. I reached Philadelphia at about 10 and RAN to the next gate. My next flight was in a difference of 40 minutes. I reached the gate well ahead of time only to find out the flight was delayed. We waited for about an hour and boarded the flight at about 11.30. Reached Raleigh at 1. I picked up my car and tried to be on the road asap. But the car won’t move. I looked at the dashboard and realized the brake light was on. My hand moved to catch hold of hand brakes. But it was not where I have it in my car. Now I had a Toyota that looked awesome but I did not know how to move it. So after 5 minutes after sitting and searching, I switched on the light and pulled out the manual. After some effort I figured out where the damn brake was. And then finally I was on my way. Headed straight in the wrong direction. Knew from the word go I was headed in the wrong direction but got the first opportunity to correct my mistake after 3 miles. So I was x+3 miles away from destination after driving 3 miles already. At that hour it was no fun. Driving was strenuous and tiring, and I reached my destination at 4 in the morning.

I was exhausted, but I was happy. There was a sense of accomplishment!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reality Show my foot!

Had heard so much about this show called The Moment of Truth. Finally got around watching it recently for the first time on YouTube. (Ok I reach late everywhere). And I was aghast! I was stunned at the kind of questions that were asked. Money does attract people but you can not finish them in the name of entertainment. Some understand the consequences only when they face them. Reality shows are entertaining but there needs to be a limit to everything. Money has this tantalizing effect on people but well this is something else. Everyone has secrets, who doesn’t?

But washing someone’s dirty laundry in public in the name of entertainment and luring participation offering some small money (which most of the times they are unable to bag – and mind you it IS small for the price one has to pay later) is criminal. I think the episode I watched was one that made maximum news, where they successfully put a “The End” to a woman’s not so bad if not a super exciting married life. She clearly did not understand the repercussions while playing the game. And as the game unfolded, her winning kept getting higher, but her loss was worsening with every question. After a point, she perhaps got immune, and she just wanted to blurt out all the truth because “there was nothing left to hide any more”. And then comes a killer question – Do you think you are a good person? Now, what kind of question is this! As simple as it may look, it is not a mere Yes or No kind of question. It is not Black or White kind of question. There will be conflicts in the mind of a person who has led a life the way she has. And she comes up with a Yes. But the intelligent detector does not think she has given the right answer. And here she is, confessing to just everything, on national television, blowing up her marriage, bowing to an Ex (who I am sure will be on a high with the whole world knowing he is so sought after), and going back with NOTHING!

What’s life shattering for one is entertaining for others. And I am not talking about morality and things, am just talking about a behavior here. Someone’s life is getting ruined with so much drama, a TV channel presents to us as entertainment, making some big money out of it, and we do not mind taking a peak in someone’s life at all. Hell we love our gossip sessions. Who needs a kaamwaali bai to give some fresh masala for our unabashed ears and blatant mouths? We get our gossip quota direct from TV. No effort required. Served on a platter.

I did sit through the entire episode, and then was thinking of going for the second one. But I am glad I decided not to. Thankfully conscience decided to wake up.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Move on?

She was curled up like a ball in her bed. It was eleven in the morning. It wasn’t a weekend either. But she had no desire and no strength to get up. He finally walked out on her. She had never imagined he would do that. He always had love in her eyes when they were together. He was the mushy one in the relationship. He was the one who brought up discussions like names of their kids in conversations. He was the one who would come up with the plan of their dream house every now and then and get dreamy eyes about it too. He made the rule of he cooking for her once a week at least after they were married. And he made the rule of one vacation a year where he would break her phone in two if she used it at all. He was the more emotional one when she was leaving for this four months course, ofcourse to come back as soon as it got over. She felt everything and more, never could express it, never felt the need to, and loved it when he did. Her eyes carried appreciation for him and she knew he understood that. But she was gone for just four months when he changed his mind. In the pretext of – you deserve some one better than me. hunh! Friends had warned her about him. But he convinced her that he was genuine. He looked genuine. He loved her. She felt it. She hated herself for feeling love in this relationship when there wasn’t any. She had set some values for herself. She shouldn’t have overlooked those. A drop silently escaped her eye and rolled down. She had never imagined this. He was a master. He got all he wanted. Use and throw. She felt uneasy in her feet. She knew he used her. She didn’t know when she was using her, all was love, all was good. People say move on. Can she ever? Easier said than done. Really. She can not reverse the time. She wanted to kill him. How could he do it? How could he just crush her this way? She was filled with rage. Friends are now saying move on. Had it been this easy. Had it been a sheet written on with a pencil that she could erase all the marks.