I talk, eat, sleep and also err ... blog?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Silence of the Crows

Like children in school disciplined by the strict rules, we went through the many decades old Aurobindo Ashram’s main entrance ducking our heads, finger on our lips. There was a winding path dotted with meticulously arranged flower pots and a 20 feet cactus which somehow managed to still have most of its limbs or thorns was it? withstanding the recent storm that blew over the city leaving a mark on virtually every tree and billboard in the city. The cactus seemed like an unlikely victor.

Unlikely was the stalk silence as we went deeper and deeper into the winding path. There were cranky old but alert men at every turn, guiding the line firmly but silently almost like those line men in a tennis match, waiting to raise their hand at the slightest hint of the ball skipping the line. There was no scope for a John McEnro here.  
As we walked further to the tomb at the center of the portico, I saw a giggle, almost a muffled laughter desperately held on by the lips pressing each other as if in disagreement with the smiling cheeks which tried to stretch and pull them apart. The boy moving the flower pots was amused and looked like someone playing a prank on all of us.

But what prank could this be?
The tomb was big enough to fit in at least 4 burials of mortals … but these were no mortals … they were the Aurobindos. Few had the unique technique to pray on the tomb … kneel down, arms stretched and head down. Should I do the same or just stand and fold arms? I glanced at the line men, they didn’t seem concerned. I folded my arms and moved on. As we looked for a place under the tentacles of the old tree covering the entire portico, its branches held on by cement columns, visibly losing out to the sturdy cactus in the recent storm contest, we waded through the not so silent gaze of the devotees and tourists alike who had already taken up their spot in the shade.

Unlike the silence when you dip your head in water, this was more like an absence of just one particular kind of sound … that was that of the human voice. The crow’s ka ka, the old man’s slippers rubbing against the floor while walking, the sound of a utensil tumble and a distant horn of a car were all but saturating the air to make it interesting enough and to not miss the human voice.
There is something with silence that makes us want to relax or be suddenly willing to close our eyes and try not to think. We did just that. Tracked our breath to the last muscle movement in our abdomen and chest cavity to squinting our closed eyes as if to see something sitting on our noses, all the while listening to the silence around us.

A few moments past, the thoughts returned asking if it was long enough of squinting? Are others sitting next to you still relaxing? Is the crow above me trying to relieve itself? Relenting to these thoughts, I opened my eyes.

The tall lanky European girl sitting in front of me, had tucked under her, a semi circular black air pillow like thing which made her tall frame even taller while sitting. Is this her way of reaching higher consciousness?  The pillow had written on it “Mobile Meditator”.

I concurred, the body and mind relax in many surprising ways.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Miss D

"You'll look sooo stupid if you tell this to someone"

I chuckled to myself trying to sleep at Terminal 2E of Paris airport. With more than four hours to wait for my flight to Atlanta, all I could think of, was Ms D or rather "Miss" D.

So, who was Miss D?

As any bachelor in his mid 20s, returning back from an India vacation, foreseeing the daily grind of work that awaits him, wondering why his hair is mysteriously thinning and witnessing the loss of his friends to their wives or work, would feel, I … had this sudden urge to find "the one" for myself. Rather than planning it, I had always wished it would be a random coincidence. Like, finding someone on the plane next to me!

With that silly wish, I boarded the Bangalore-Paris flight at 2AM. As I walked to my seat 21B, the silly wish kept me distracted from the sadness of leaving family and friends behind, in the hope that it may come true.

No less than a miracle ... it did come true!

There she was, on 21A. Her face hidden behind the veils of her dark straight hair … her eyes sneaking through her drooping locks, anxious and shy. That … was Miss D.

I was unusually uncomfortable sitting next to her. May be it was the excitement of a wish coming true. We didn’t talk for the first 6 hours which was also the “sleeping time” in the plane as all lights were put out. The ice breaker happened when my blanket somehow had got under her seat and with a little nudge from her, the blanket and our conversation alike, came free.

The next couple of hours just flew by and before we knew it, we were on Paris airfield. I was beginning to realize that in a few minutes we’ll part our ways and say our good byes like it always happens with friends you make during travel.

But just then, when everyone got up from their seats to get off the plane, I realized that even she had four hours of wait time, and in a hasty moment, I asked her if she would like to spend some more time together at the airport. The haste had made me inarticulate and sloppy. I paid the ultimate price.

She said “Don’t worry about it” twice, and left.

Embarrassed and rejected, I needed a place to hide. I headed to Terminal 2E without a second glance, all the while debating with myself, which among “A Jerk” or “A Schmuck”, would Miss D choose to label me as.

An hour passed, and I finally began to get Miss D out of my head, and then, I did something that I do only while waiting at airports … read a book. 93 pages through, with the announcement of the Atlanta flight, I was all set for another 8 hours of travel.

This time, it was a different wish.

I settled down in my seat 40A. A few moments later, all passengers onboard, I looked to my right … seat 40B … was vacant.

I smiled and said to myself, “Two wishes in a row” … “I sure am lucky” :-)

Take care and keep smiling,

PS: If ever, the real Miss D reads this blog, then .. "I'm sorry Miss D"

Friday, December 08, 2006

one line of fame

"Hey I know that guy", says Abid, a good friend of mine, when he sees a familiar face in the car in fornt. He honks as if to say "Hi". The frightened guy in the car takes off his muslim cap immediately. Repercussions of the fight against terror ... eh?

However, a different kind of fight was on in the Smoky Mountains. And the trees were losing it ... well ... colorfuly. The colors of fall were so vivid and everywhere, that one time, I did feel like "I don't believe this is true, these americans can do anything to get tourists". A few weeks later I realized that it was not so, when the trees in front of my appartment did the same color change trick ;-) And a few more weeks later, all that the naked trees had to show off were empty bird nests. Winter was winning ... well ... colorlessly.

Always be nice to the man with a pen and paper on the cricket field.

He might be the scorer or as in my case, a newspaper reporter who gave me my "
one line of fame". I'm glad he didn't try to understand the game and players too much. Had he done that, my bowling records, surely, would have had that "one line of fame" erased ;-)

My San Francisco trip to vist my uncle and aunt was the closest to being with family in the past 6 months. Add to that, awesome home cooked sea food ... can't beat that! :-) The
Golden Gate Bridge, twisting Lombard Street, Yosemite National Park and Monterey Bay Aquarium were a welcome break from the tall buildings that I usually end up in when visiting a new city.

Among the countless topics on which we had chatted on, I took home the one where my aunt suggested a way of sleeping in office ;-) The most useful one, as I see it.

Its pretty simple ... put one elbow on the desk, rest your chin on the palm of your hand and look straight into the monitor ... and ... slooooooooowly close ur eyes. A passerby would hardly have any clue.

I decided to give it a try.

Now, I really didn't have difficulty in deciding when to do it, cuz, any day after 2:30pm would be perfect. But had doubts about how good I can be at it. A few short trial-runs later, with the newly acquired confidence, I decided to give it a long shot this time.

Sweeeeeeeeeeet it was :-)

In those moments, I didn't have any other needs in life ... but just to let this go on and on and on. And it did ... without a single elbow drop or chin slip. Sometime later, completely satisfied, I woke up ... only to see a disaster right in front of my eyes.

The screensaver was on! ... and I didn't know for how long!

Take care and keep smiling,

Checkout some Smoky Mountains
pics and videos.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mohegan Sun

Written on Sep 19, 2006 10:55 PM

Such is the detail of the painting on the wall ... that, I discover a new meaning or a hidden image every time I ... well ... every time I take a leak!

Yep, its hung on the office restroom wall so that its about 8 inches from the leaker's face. It's as if by design, to get your 100% attention when you are at your most relaxed 50 seconds of the day. Jeez! ... think of it ... this would have been the artist's dream come true ... audience's undivided attention ... several times over in a day. The entire purpose of pin-drop quite art galleries bang in the middle of the most expensive real estate in virtually every major city of the world ... replicated to perfection, in the restroom.

But an art collector after buying an artist's work, saying "Well Sir, as a mark of my appreciation, I'll be hanging this in my office restroom", would surely not go down well with any artist. Why? ... because it's not obvious enough.

What's obvious enough is ... the importance of
MIT to an engineer. An engineer's Mecca, Tirupathi, Vatican City ... you get it. Although I got to spend just about 30 minutes there, my visit to Boston was now worth it even though I couldn't make it to Harvard nearby.

How to beat a game of chance?

Like the slot machines at the
Mohegan Sun casino. Riyad, a Jordanian, who joined me and my uncle to Mohegan Sun, had some ideas.

He tried playing three slot machines at a time ... hit the "Spin" button with each one of his ten fingers, elbow and even his head! ... gave a long thinking pause before he hit "Spin".

Of course, none of them worked :-). I bailed out after I lost $20. But determined to make a buck, were a sea of old ladies with a lot of free time and disposable retirement savings.

As another vacation came to an end, the dark air plane cabin and the dull evening sky outside the window (or was it the air pressure changes in the cabin?) seem to push me into introspective thoughts ... what the heck are u doing with your life? are u talking to yourself too much? all you are doing is gazing into the monitor for 60 days and then getting on a plane to see tall buildings (hey, thats not bad actually ;-)) ... do you have any idea about your future?

And then, out of the blue, came the most important question .. the answer to which had to be imminent and precise ... and I had always struggled to answer it before ...

What do I make for dinner tonight?

Until next time,

PS: I had corn flakes for dinner that night ;-) Check out some photos

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Springtime for Hitler

Written on Jul 10, 2006 10:00 PM

As I rode on my bicycle after a snail paced day at office, I couldn't help miss the look on the faces of my neighbours in cars. What were they thinking? ... wow! cool bike .. Or .. bike? what a looser.

As hard it was to figure that out, harder was the tag on my apartment door. It said "Flowers for you delivered at the reception". Now I wouldn't mind a secret admirer, but what would she admire about? ... how well I manage without any furniture? or the minimum 3 wides I bowl every over? or the shape of my chapattis? I rushed to Missy (the receptionist) to collect the flowers ... with a smile she said ... "Oh! I didn't even see the name ... soooorrrryyyy". It was for Mr.Young, previous resident of #209.

"I never thought I'll buy a Calvin Klein", I said. "Yeah and I never thought I'll fly", said BG (Deepak BG actually, my college buddy and host in NY), as we sat down to empty the 1 giga bytes of memories in the camera onto the laptop ... silly poses with harmless celebrity wax models at Madame Tussaud's, atop Empire State and Rockfeller Centre buildings, at Times Square, Statue of Liberty and Broadway ... all the chores of a new visitor to NY, digitized and safe.

Soon I was getting bored of tall buildings and viewing them from roof-tops of taller buildings. A relaxing Vanilla Cafe at Starbucks felt much better. But the best was yet to come ...

The fantabulous Broadway show ...
The Producers.

Ok "fantabulous" means "Of the highest quality" :-). I felt like I should enroll into
Rangashankara as soon as I'm back home :-), not that I have the talent for it, but I was inspired by the immaculate articulation of music and visual artistry. I had never imagined that a stage could metamorphose into so many things so quick ... where was the space for all of it? and where were the actors hiding?

Next time you are in NY or London ... beg borrow steal ... watch a Broadway show. And yeah the girls are hot! ;-)

NY made me feel right at home, cuz there were soo many Indian/Indian-like faces wherever I went. Times Square reminded me of Brigade Road (only the buildings were taller) ... and also how I always used to unexpectedly find someone I recognized everytime I went there. I wished I could find someone on the streets of NY like that.

And my wish came true!

Satti (now doing MS in NY) pops up from nowhere as we were waiting for the July 4th fireworks show to begin. Now if only I knew wishes came true, my wish would have been lot more specific ;-)

Final bill, about $600 including my pencil sketch portrait by a chinese woman in Times Square.

To one of the best trips I've had till now ... Cheers New York! :-)

Untill next time ... ciao

The subject line is a song from The Producers ... other contenders for the subject line were "That's our Hitler", "Now Ulla dance" and "Where did we go right?" .. hehe :-)

Checkout some
videos here :-)


Written on Jun 12, 2006 1:28 PM

I felt that I was busy to write this email for more than a couple of weeks now.
Hmm .. lets see why ...

Twice to Charleston, moved to my new appartment, thrice to Al-Chico the mexican restaurant (courtesy my ever young project manager, Patty, who thought thursdays nights were mexican nights), four times to Walmart, bought a bicycle, planned a NY trip, twice to second-hand furniture shops and my first ever league cricket match at Charlotte. Seems busy eh? Oh yeah also, since I was left with just $3 in cash and two $500 american express traveler's cheques, which no one wanted to encash unless I had a bank account, I opened a bank account too. And a mexican wife.

MEXICAN WIFE! ... ok, let me explain. I was caught half-naked in my hotel room by an unsuspecting mexican room service girl. After a lot of "sorry"s from her and "no problem"s from me, I hurried down stairs to tell this to my buddies who were ready with a story which went ... every mexican girl marries the first half-naked guy she sees. Hehe ... now you know its not real :-)

My first ever ball bowled in US was a wide.

I know I'm a mediocre in every game I play but still after Saturday's tapped-tennis ball match, I was invited to play the league match on Sunday. I must have really impressed someone or they were really short of players .. probably the later ;-) Sunday's game was on a private cricket ground of a wealthy (obviously) Gujju businessman. With 3 West Indian players in our team, we still manage to break a record in the league's history ... the lowest runs ever scored by a team .. 55 in 30 overs. But I'll remember this match for it was my first leather ball cricket match and I strongly felt the abdomen guard deserved a re-design ... somehow I didn't feel safe in them.

The US dollar's value beats my relatively weak financial sense ... from Columbia to NY, 2 way flight(716 miles) costs $250 and a taxi ride from NY to Newark (10 miles) costs abt $200! I went for the "flight and a friend" option :-) Yep its finalized, I'll be in NY for the American Independance (from whom?) day, July 4th, courtesy my college buddy. I'm expecting a lot of fun, fireworks and a gruesome dent in my already pathetic financial situation.

It'll be still worth it .. no doubt ;-)

- Raghu

30 seconds to mars

Written on May 19, 2006 8:29 PM

Aaaithalla ... anthu america ge bande ... a thing of dream proportions, but not really a dream.

From not boarding a flight in 24 years to 4 flights in 24 hours (ok i'm 25, but it sounds better) .. the excitement hid the strain called "jet lag" for the next 48 hrs. With my fears of over weight bagages now behind me, i was all ready to look down from the sky ... i liked it in the night. The only ones i made friends on this journey were my neighbours in seat from paris to atlanta, an old Romanian couple. Mostly sign language and helping tear open salted peanut packets for them. The Alps were a sight to watch ... it was hard to distinguish the snow capped mountain tips from the clouds ... "naa clouds can't be soo sharp, must be alps". I pity the pilots of trans-atlantic flights, for 10 hours all they get to see are clouds ... atleast we get to sleep.

"America is clean" - my first impression.

People here are very courteous ... they say hi and wish u even through their car while ur crossing the road. Atleast for the first 48 hours I felt very wierd ... reasonned out the hi's and hello's to .. "ahha they live lonely lives here, so they are making it up with strangers" ... i'll let time decide if this is true. Anyway, its a lot better than being cold to others ... good for you, America. Now I sport a smile to strangers too and trivial conversations are easy.

A lot can happen in a week! Yeah, I mean, I ate mexican, chinese, and everything between 2 pieces of bread. The rock show yesterday night was naughty good too ... drunk girls, crowd pushing jerks, unknown rock bands and hugs from strangers ... i missed the dance floors after the show cuz i had to get up at 6:30am for work. Next time. Oh yeah, I even booked an appartment for myself ... friends in strange lands are priceless.

Hmm heading to my first weekend ... I tend to think, you can't live here without those hi's and hello's to strangers.

Will keep ya updated if the dance floors thing works out next time :-) ... next time

- Raghu
(oh btw the subject line is the name of the rock bad that played yesterday)