Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Just One Night

( Part 1)

She moved to Pune only last month from some unheard village in Kerala. She's a Keralite and proud to be one. She knows where she comes from but doesn't believe in murdering other languages just to show her faithfulness to her language. I mean she doesn't have that heavy accent that most Keralites have. That was the first thing that really got me interested in her. Secondly, she doesn't wear that "Notice Me" tag on her face wherever she goes. She's not a pretty thing, nor is she ugly. She's just "comfortable in her skin" type. She wore a cotton silk top and leggings that day at the party. Slightly out of the dress code since other girls stuck to a western outfit. Probably that is why she stood out from the crowd?

I went to make a conversation with her after we were introduced by the common friends, Rucha and Bhargav who were the hosts that night. I saw her sitting in a corner , quietly sipping her drink and probably reading her mails on her phone.

"Not enjoying the party?"

She looked up , with a bored expression. "Not my kind of crowd!"
" What is your kind of crowd...may I?", I asked her pointing at a seat next to her.
" Yes. If you are hell bent on disturbing me!"

The girl was teasing me in a way no other girl ever had. Now I'm this really cute looking guy according to most of the girls. I'm the kind of guy most girls look forward to meeting at a cocktail party, and get drunk with, and end up in bed with! I've never had a problem picking up a girl, in fact I never have to try too hard....I so wished I could, but the girls just don't let me....they give in easily, they are like "Take me, I'm all yours!" , and here's a girl who doesn't even notice me...I have to find out what's up with her.

"So what kind of crowd do you like?", I insist on making her talk, I insist on finding out if there's a game for me in her.

"The kind who doesn't laugh too much. The kind who can make a sensible conversation for slightly more than a minute. The kind who are not all about clothes and make up!"

"And you think all those people cannot make a sensible conversation with you just because they care to spend a lil more time on the right dress that really suits them?"

"Look.....Whoever, I forgot your name. I'm not interested in arguing with you. This is what I think, and that won't change. So would you mind leaving me alone to myself?"

" Looks to me like you cannot make a conversation beyond a minute...The problem is with you madam, not this lovely crowd!", I leave her to that and get up and move towards the bar to make myself a drink. When I have finished making a drink and I turn, I see her. And she's flashing a beautiful smile. "Trouble" Someone inside my head tells me. I smile back courteously.

"So.... .Rahul... right?"
"Oh! You remember my name. You are prone to temporary memory loss I suppose?", I intentionally comment.
"Yes...You can say that. That's one of my procedural requirements to test a man."
"Procedural requirement? a lawyer?"
"Yeah....Shruthi!" She extends her hand.

We shake hands for quite some time while I check her out closely. She doesn't shy away, looks straight in my eyes.

"And this is your procedural stuff I guess?", She jokes.
"But I'm not a lawyer!"
"So what are you?"
"You guess!", I challenge.

"Okay...I will. Three guesses alright?"
"But in between the guesses we can have normal conversation without referring to your line of work."
"Hmm... sounds good."
" Let's go out for a walk. It's getting hot in here." Is she too fast or did she really mean she's feeling hot? I'm confused. "Whichever way, works fine with me! ;-)" I think to myself.

So we go out for a walk.
The night is frigging cold, and I start to shiver within the first 5 minutes of our walk. I can hardly concentrate on the talk, or on her. She seems comfortable though.

" So.... Rahul, tell me."

" Middle of the night,
in the middle of a road,
that's in the middle of nowhere,
And in the middle of the conversation, the girl stops and says, "Rahul, tell me. What's the first thing that comes to your mind?"

"She wants me to make a move on her."
"So why don't you make it?"

Good question. Hmm.... It got me thinking.

"Because I like to make a move when the girl isn't expecting it. I don't like to give her any time to think."

She looks at me with a smirk, then suddenly slides her hand behind my neck and goes in for the kill!
The kiss is smooth but short.

She goes back two steps , her gaze fixed on me.

I think, " She's good!"
I think, " But ...she's taking my role. This is an attack on my sovereignty!"
I think, "This is an attack on my male ego. The boy makes the move first! That's the right procedure."

" The girl kisses you without you expecting it! What do you do Rahul?"

"I pick her up in my arms and take her to the first room I find."

"Wrong answer! You cannot find a room in a 2BHK full of some 30 people!"

She removes a car key from her purse and holds it in my face!

"That's enough!", I hold her hand and pull her to the parking, " Which one?", I ask her looking at the cars.

"Wait my child!..... You seriously need to get better at this.
When Rucha told me all those wonderful things about you all that time I was seriously expecting tough competition!"

"What did Rucha tell you about me?"

"Be glad she hasn't told anything to Bhargav yet!"

"Oh! So you know about our great escapes!", I feel a bit proud about this...I don't know why, but I'm always proud of stealing my friend's girl friend's!

"Rucha seriously needs a lesson or two on men!"

And then she steps back and walks straight to the apartment.
As she marches past me, the party comes to life with "Y this kolavari Di"   spilling disappointment and failure all over me! But the crowd cheers the Damn Jackass, aka DJ,
"Yeah Right....This is THE song I needed right now!", I think.

Middle of the night,
In the middle of an unknown road,
Some "Okay- looking" 'nothing' gives you a 'clean Chop'!
What do you do Rahul??

( To be continued....)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Break Up! Shake Up!

"Do you feel my heart beat?"

My room mate came running to me, holding her wrist with the other hand, her face looking shocked , going paler by the passing second. I was reading my usual FM textbook, had an exam in 10 days , but her unusual question shook me out of my rising temper, which would have exploded if it wasn't that question!

I felt for her vein, " Yes I do! Why? What happened? Why are you breathing so heavily?"

She sat on my bed looking out of the window for several seconds, those seconds had my heart beat double to an unexpected speed!

"Would you tell me what happened? Meghna!" I raised my voice.

She looked at me, tears in her eyes....there were a 1000 thoughts rushing through my brain at that point, colliding on each other like on a busy unmanaged trafficked road!

She held my hand in hers, her hands were cold!

"Dhiraj!" That's all she said for 1 whole minute! The textbook dropped out of my hands and I got this weird sinking feeling!

"What happened to him?", my other hand reached for my phone and I frantically typed his name to call him.

"Don't call that Bastard!"


"He's having an affair with Tina!", finished Meghna!

Now, how do you react to a news like this?
The news of your boy friend of 3 years having an affair with the girl staying next door to your hostel room!
Like the typical saans bahu serials where the heroine slaps her palm to her forehead with a "Nahiiiiiiii!"???
Or our hindi films where she takes several minutes to digest the news , with tears slowly flowing down her rosy pink cheeks?
Or just walk out in a rage and straight to the boyfriend to question him?
Or answer with the old hindi melodramatic film style, "Nahi Meghna! Yeh nahi ho sakta!"

There are these certain situations in our life, where we do not know how to react and our only reference points to reactions are far from reality, and we are left to create or invent our own , unique , reactions!

And in these rare times when life gives us this special opportunity, to be different, do we show our best??


As for me?
I un-intentionally showed my worst!
I burped!
And a really loud one at that!

" Yuk! What the fuck was that?", Meghna asked me with her 'Disgusted' look.

"The horrible food at our mess! As if I need to even tell you about it!"

And then we both looked at each other for a second and started laughing.

"You disgusting female!" started Meghna, " your next door girl is frisking away your cute, "Once in a lifetime catch of the century" boy friend right in front of your eyes, and all you do is mug up those stupid formulas and burp on the disgusting canteen food!"

"What do you want me to do? What can one do in this age and world Meghna? If someone bloody doesn't have the decency to break up with you before he sleeps with the next girl he finds., 'literally' the next girl he finds, what can you do? You can cry and you can blame him, and you can tell the whole world how bad he has been to you....but how does that help? If he's gone, he's gone! In fact I was wondering WHEN this 'break up' storm is going to hit us? All I've been hearing for the past 2 years is about people's break ups! I'm fed up! I've lost faith in these cannot trust anybody now a just can't! You cannot fall in love and expect to stay there, things change, and rather fast now a days.......If this is the scenario,  I choose to not get into this whole circus right at the first instance, but if I'm already in it, what do I do? I wait........and so I waited till the storm hit me!"

" love Dhiraj......don't you?", Now you have to know this, Meghna is this Drama Queen still stuck in the 1960's or 70's...I don't know which era , where women cried out their hearts, where women felt intense pain and they felt victimised...where they were only supposed to feel victimised! And whether you like it or not, she will make sure you pay homage to those by gone days by shedding at least 1 tear in the pain of finding out about a cheating boy friend!

And so it happened that an uncontrolled tear did find an escape route, out of my "tired- of- reading -textbooks" eyes, to my "moisturiser -hungry" cheeks, onto my dry and flaky palms.

"Don't hide them....let them will feel better!", This has been Meghna's favourite dialogue to a lot of hostalites!

I wished I could some day explain to her that "crying" doesn't make everyone feel good.
Some of us hate crying,
some of us hate feeling victimised,
some of us hate that whole "Oh !poor little Tarini" look that people give.

The truth is I have been madly in love with Dhiraj all these years!
The truth is I was scared to death with even the thought of a break up!
The truth is I have dreamt all these years only of him, and of our life together, and of our children and our new home....
The truth is I took up MBA for him!

There are a lot of truths here....but only one that matters now, is that he cheated on me, that he's been cheating on me the whole semester....that I knew about it right from the beginning and preparing myself till other's find out, till he finds the courage to come and break up with me, or till I get some anonymous mails from a well wisher telling me about my boy friend's deeds!

How could I tell Meghna or anybody about the truth of my man? Which only I knew?
How could I tell my man, who looked without any guilt in his eyes straight at me, after I caught him in a compromising position?
What can I tell the world?
What can I tell such a man?
The only person I could speak to, was me....and thankfully I understood!
Thankfully, I did not lose my calm...
Thankfully , with time, I figured my way out of this storm!

It looked like I was the bravest of all the people who knew me and Dhiraj and who heard about Dhiraj's affair with Tina. From our professors, to classmates, to non teaching staff, everybody scorned at Dhiraj ,
Tina was the new Big Bitch of the college, and me , the sacrificial goat! Urggh!!

Everyone waited for the news of the break up next.
Some roudy over smart boys even started betting over who would break up?
Dhiraj or Tarini?
But break up news eluded us all.

Dhiraj and me did not meet for the rest of the year. being in the same college, we often crossed each other's way , but we both avoided each other's gaze. Sometimes he looked at me, but I did not look at him.

Dhiraj's friends asked him often, " So it's a break up huh?"
"She said so?"
"Then??? You broke up with her?"
"Why not? I mean, who are you waiting for? Tina ? To do the honours?"

That Dhiraj had proposed to me by kneeling in front of our entire office where we worked together, and where we had met, wasn't a secret to anyone.
That we were often quoted as "The Best Couple" in college, whose "To-be-wife" gave up on the top MBA college of the country , to be with her beau who studied in the 20th -something ranked MBA college, wasn't a secret either!

You see ,this is the problem with these fairytale looking love stories!
The reality is far from the truth, but the people want to hope for the best , because hoping for the best is the way of life....and Dhiraj and me sticking together as a couple, was not just something everyone hoped for, but something that everyone wanted to see, so that their belief that "true love is real", is not shaken! And I did not want to shake people out of their dreamy worlds either....that is such a cruel thing to telling a small child that the world you are so looking up to growing up in , is nothing but a big disaster! I did not want to be the one to break so many hearts, my heart was broken...that was okay...but I couldn't handle the thought of breaking so many hearts!

I don't know what Dhiraj thought about the whole thing at that time, but the end result was, we did not have an official break up!

That did 2 things:
A. Our relationship did not come to an official full stop.
B. Tina's insecurities over her relationship with Dhiraj kept increasing every day.

It was a pressure Test!
For me, For him, and for her!
And the college was the witness and the audience!

2 months later came the fun week , and with the fun week came the Fish Ponds, those nasty anonymous messages people send to each other!
There wasn't a single message for us last year (nobody bothers the old settled couple), but this year there did not seem to be any other love story than our's! Where did all the Romeo's fly ? I wondered!
And I know what Tina wondered as well, her face showed it all, "Who is having the affair? Me or her?"
Not a single message was directed at her and Dhiraj!

There was this one message,
" D- Dada,
What a choice!
Who thought a simple family man like you would want so much noise?
Now quit breaking more hearts, we say
go back to "T-Terrific" lady this very day!"

Like a spell,
It did work!
Not that very day, but 5 days later.

She walked to me in the library.
( My Thought: I don't understand this woman's choice of locations.....ever! For first date, she chose the hill behind the college ground! For making out, she chose 'under the stairs') And for breaking the news of her break up, she chose The Library!

"It's over between us! I hope you are happy now!" She was loud and clear.
Everyone in the Library, including the Librarian applauded for a good 3 minutes till she walked out and people walked up to me to congratulate me,"You did it! You proved to the world that the eternal love exists! Your silence, your dignity, your love, your sincerity, brought back your love! Damn! If he also did not want it, he would still be drawn towards you, that's your power lady! waah!"

I did not say anything.
I maintained my silence.

A week after that was our farewell.
After all ,we were all on this journey together only for 2 years!
At the Farewell party, everybody coaxed Dhiraj to come to me and ask me for a dance. And he did come.... The man could not look me in the eye, but this man who couldn't tell me it was over between us did ask me if we could have a dance. The whole hall waited for my yes, to see The Best Couple's Last Dance in this college that defined their relationship for the rest of their lives!
It was the moment of truth for me and Dhiraj.
Nothing was spoken between us about his new hook up or our break up, or his break up or our coming together after that.

"Won't happen again,EVER! I'm sorry!" He whispered.
"That's not what I wanted to hear.", I calmly told him.
"I love you.......and I'm sure of that now. No more doubts!"
"You sure?"
"Lock kiya jaye!", He smiled. He held my hand and I let myself be held by the man who no longer was the man of my dreams!

The truth was, I was always with him. He was the one who drifted apart.
The truth was, I would go ahead and marry him and have his kids in spite of this episode.
But the truth also was, that I would never trust him again.
That with my silence, I had not just won him back , but with my forgiveness I had forever made him my slave!

For the dance, they played a very appropriate song for us, "Save the last dance for me"....
As we swayed ,we captured everyone's imaginations and hopes and beliefs !
And I epitomised the "Image" of an Ideal woman, and the ideal wife in me!

You can dance-every dance with the guy
Who gives you the eye,let him hold you tight
You can smile-every smile for the man
Who held your hand neath the pale moon light
But don't forget who's takin' you home
And in whose arms you're gonna be
So darlin' save the last dance for me

Oh I know that the music's fine
Like sparklin' wine, go and have your fun
Laugh and sing, but while we're apart
Don't give your heart to anyone
But don't forget who's takin' you home
And in whose arms you're gonna be
So darlin' save the last dance for me

Baby don't you know I love you so
Can't you feel it when we touch
I will never, never let you go
I love you oh so much

You can dance, go and carry on
Till the night is gone
And it's time to go
If he asks if you're all alone
Can he walk you home,you must tell him no
'Cause don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arms you're gonna be
Save the last dance for me

Oh baby won't you save the last dance for me
Oh baby won't you promise that you'll save,
The last dance for me
Save the last dance, the very last dance for me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Letter to a Gem ...

My Dear Gem,

You've tricked me again.

After all that's said and done,
and everything that has been tried and failed,
I have felt time and again,
"This time I've got you for sure!"
but just  then you disappear far away, in the crowded lane.

Why do You play hard to get in my chase for you?
That place you stay is far off ,
in some distant place, I've never been there with you.

Don't you realise my dear , the place you'll shine best is in my eyes?
It's me who can free you from her sad sighs!

What pleasure do you get by belonging to those boring rich folks you adorn your beauty with?
What adventure do you have apart from weddings, parties and a few trips?

What's so attractive about being with that Miss.Right?
When It's all my wrongs that give me the might!

Am I not more playful ?                                
And whenever you want, sinful?

Thief I am, of the best gems just like yourself!
Won't you like the company of the best, rather than some forgetful 'herself'?

Come with me my darling,
I'm waiting and will be so.
My adventure will begin only when you drop her Tango!

Yours truly,

The Jewel Thief

Photographer: Jatin Kampani
( Check his photographs, he's interesting!) 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is our problem?

The following is a report that appeared today on 'The Hindu', at Page 7, lower right corner.

People's representatives let them down

Kolar : People's representatives in Kolar district chose to keep off a function to mark International Day for Persons with Disabilities on Saturday.

Except for the presidents of the zilla panchayat and taluk panchayat, none of the people's representatives, including Textiles Minister and district in-charge Varthur Prakash and Minister of State for Railways K.H.Muniyappa, turned up for the function. They only made the people with disabilities wait for more than one hour for the arrival of the dignitaries and disappointed them without attending the function.

The District administration ,zilla Panchayat, women and child welfare department , District People with disabilities and senior citizens' empowerment department organised the function at T.Chennaiah Rangamandira. Though the function was scheduled to commence at 10.30 am, it started only around noon after waiting for the minister's arrival. 

Mr. Prakash did not attend the function inspite of his own reported presence in town. The officers were waiting for him since they received a message that the Minister would be arriving , " in a few minutes". 

"The way the people with disabilities were made to wait for the minister was unpardonable," K. Anand (Name changed on request), an Activist working with the special people told The Hindu. 

"It is not that the only presence of ministers will make the function meaningful. However the presence of the people's representatives will definitely strengthen the will of the special people. They feel 'we are not alone,." Mr Anand remarked.

A week back I attended a friend's wedding where I met someone with disabilities, a teenage boy. He came around me and my friend's and he looked very interested in some of the colourful purses that my friend's were carrying. I have to admit that I was scared at the first instance. Maybe because he came too close too fast and in normal circumstances if any man or woman was to behave that way I would push them away as a defence.

Thankfully , Latif, my friend who was close by knew how to handle the situation. He gave the purse to Nandan, he also spoke to him gently, shook his hand and like an old friend put a hand on his shoulder. Nandan looked so happy and content for being treated with love and respect. He put his head on Latif's shoulder and stood that way for a long time. 

After that, all of us slowly learnt to behave ourselves around Nandan. We helloed him and spoke to him, smiled and listened to him. He liked that, and we realised we have to learn something new. We have to learn to behave gently with special people . We are not supposed to laugh at them, or get scared and run away and hide. What happened to Nandan, could have happened to any of us.....Nandan and people like him are not "Mad", they see things differently, they see things we don't see. Or they behave in a way, we don't understand. They are not capable of adjusting to our ways, but god has given us the sense to understand their ways, so lets put that "sense" to use.

This happened a few years back: I was in a car belonging to the man I was dating at that time. We were driving through a market area and the traffic movement was really slow. Suddenly, a man appeared at my window, he was trying to look inside . Thankfully the window glass was pulled up, but he did scare me. He was an old man, probably lived on the streets, hair grown and dirty and clothes torn and tattered. He continued looking inside for a couple of seconds. The man I was dating got so angry at this behaviour, inspite of me telling him "that man appears to be mentally unstable", he got out of the car and slapped the old man so hard across his face, he fell down. Some people around said the old man is mad, why did you slap him? My cruel man says, "they behave that way purposely!" and then turns to me who's in a total shocked state and tells me or rather warns me, " I don't like anybody looking at you that way. Do you understand? Now don't act as if I did something wrong. I did this for you."

What sort of an old man will stick his face across a closed tainted window and try to look who's sitting inside? 
What are the chances that his behaviour was on purpose? What purpose did he serve by looking inside a moving car?

This cruel man did slap that old man, but the scar remained on my heart ! 
Many many nights I woke up with a start, as if someone had slapped my face. 
I had never seen anybody slap or hit anybody like that before. I have never seen violence at that close counter. And I pray to god everyday not to let me see anything like that ever again.

These kind of men live respectfully in our society!!
These are the kind of men we elect as our representatives.
And these are the kind of men some of us end up dating at some point of time! Yuck!

Another news appeared on "The Hindu", same page, right next to the above mentioned news report , " Life Plays a Cruel Joke on him", It's the story of an old man who has 2 mentally challenged daughters and another physically challenged daughter. His only solace is that his son and the youngest daughter do not have disabilities. His wife too cannot walk or talk properly.

Despite belonging to a Scheduled Tribe community he has not received any of the benefits extended to the community.
* Not been provided a house under The Ashraya or Ambedkar housing schemes.
* Not provided irrigated agricultural land provided to Scheduled Castes and Tribe landless agricultural families. 
* His daughters have not received any pension given to physically challenged persons by the government.

You know what? Every time I read a news like this or watch a news like this on TV, I feel so helpless and useless. 
I am caught up in a dilemma. 
If I dedicate a life to helping people in need, or working on projects for the environment, that will be the only thing I'll do throughout my life! I will not have enough money to explore the other dimensions of my personality. 
Conclusion?? It's not in my favour and I will not take it.

I'm sure many of you are caught up in the same situation. 
I have met some people who have taken up this work , and are happy doing it. But all of us cannot be full timers in social work, nor do we have the money to make the difference.
The only sad option we are left with is to blog about it, or talk it out with our friends, let some hours pass on this and we try our best to forget this and get back to life!

You know, 
we "let things be".
we "forget about it"
we " get back to life as if nothing happened".

That is our problem!

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