Born Again

Television shows are celebrating the 1000th week of the movie, ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’. The movie holds a record for running till date in a movie theatre of Mumbai, Maratha Mandir. This was a movie when released 19 years back, was loved by different genre for different reasons. Many teenagers, now grown-ups, have fond memories of their life moments attached to this movie. They mostly loved the budding romance part that they could relate to in the movie. The older generation loved that the movie upholds Indian cultural values and sets an example that love need not bypass it and undermine its importance. Now that the movie has earned some historic value I thought I need to analyse its relevance to real life and see what exactly are we celebrating. Is it a case story, a reel life though, in which love triumphs? or in which love triumphs but not before ensuring everyone is happy, especially the elders of the family?  

Imagine a Khap Panchayat in place of Amrish Puri, the antagonist of the movie, and think if it is possible to win its heart to let a certain Raj and Simran marry. How can one apply the tactics used in the movie to convince their parents or this Khap Panchayat if Raj and Simran belong to different castes/ different religions/ different mother tongues/ same gotra or, or, or they want a terrible, terrible thing like to just live in together? I.e., without getting murdered promptly after expressing their intentions. I want to add LGBT community to the above list of objectionable matrimonial alliances, but their right to love doesn’t exist according to the last year Supreme Court ruling!!!

If Raj and Simran are not honourably murdered then they get to live a life full of soured relations with their prior-to-marriage dear ones. Soured relations is a minor mental harassment compared to a total boycott by the community cast upon the couple’s families. Then the Newton’s third law of rippling takes place and the parents pass this torture to the couple by cutting-off ties or disowning them to prevent inheriting properties, or even family titles. Few fortunate couples can be forgiven for their sin with time, yes, but a sin it was, better get that. Such a marriage not working is an assertion to ‘we-told-you-so’ and a lesson for others in the clan. 

‘DDLJ’ was the first movie that highlighted a certain feature of the life of NRI. It brought to notice that not all NRI comfortably adjust with life at foreign shores. However, this inability to cope with different environment has been wrongly named as patriotism. Some of the people who leave for abroad take with them their version of India, a highly regressive one, then preserve it from getting affected by the geography there, and live in a place which is beyond recognisable as India for Indians too.  We here in the mean time have done away with many of  rituals to suit to the new times. It was new for me that a Simran there with a British citizenship was so helpless since she was nurtured to the adulthood with the everyday dose of ‘Indian culture’ and subjected to emotional blackmailing by the parents. There, in the heart of a first world country, she needs approval of  her father for every other small decisions. This is because the world around her, full of western culture, is evil! We really need to challenge this superiority complex harboured in the name of patriotism that we have a copyright  to  emotions, motherhood, justice and so on. On the contrary,  our emotions dry up very fast and we don’t understand a mother’s love a bit if the child is born out-of-wedlock or while getting rid of female foetuses, and our sense of justice doesn’t  stand up against either nepotism or  prejudices for other castes and religion. 

What things can justify murdering your children? I have tried to think on it whenever I read a new honour-murder story in the newspaper. Is it like a right to pull out  a thriving plant you planted because later you decided it grew and spread in wrong direction against your expectation? Could it be as easy as that?

Why an individual’s right to choose life partner granted by our Indian constitution is not respected enough? Why the ‘Bhartiya Sanskriti’ thinks an 18-year-old is mature enough to vote in an election but not enough to have a say in his/her marriage? Just why the elders can’t keep away from matrimonial business of their children unless asked to help? Why a youth’s important decision making opportunity stolen from him? Aren’t we continuously manufacturing a society full of people who never learned to trust their judgement and take responsibilities because they believed their parents know the best?

The message of the movie, or a belief  passed down to us in the name of culture, is that it is wrong to question older generation or traditions or  at least not vigorously shake them. This has been one of a deceptive but successful ploy that has made us a numb society today. If old methods of living weren’t rethought, reshuffled and rearranged, we could not be holding on to today’s technology that we term progress. Sadly, the need to recheck social beliefs, unlike technology, is always discouraged with terminology like disrespect to elders and dishonouring of older values.

We need that our culture also inhabits the idea to respect  newer generations of the society. That, their ways and thinking are not devils plan to rule the world. They are experimenting with world and they have as much right as the older genre.  And sometimes this needn’t be told with a sugar-coating, especially dealing with rules that deny someone a right to live, and a dignified one at that!

The movie pampered people who fear losing family values but don’t flinch much on loss of human values. It is a politically correct movie. But our political correctness in not correct enough.

Only I know how I finished reading Alice in wonderland when I was young. I had to read it then because everybody read it. From the start of it, I did not find a talking rabbit or a grinning cat amusing, rather they were unpleasant. I even did not like the ‘tail’ designed poem then. Everything was someone’s lot of fantasy there and I felt punished for it. What if I write such weird imagination? Who will want to read it?

Even so, I loved the half namesake of it, Runaway Alice. There was a story here, a genuine story of an orphan girl. The acceptance struggle (actually the effortless bonding) on both sides, the girl and the foster family touched a chord in me or I thought that was something a child can relate to. Runaway Alice has till date remained with me.

Then on Facebook, my friend Priyanka sometimes posted some lines from Alice in wonderland that were quite tickling. How come I don’t remember them reading, I wondered. After few such posts, Alice in Wonderland was on my wish list.

At one’s minor age, the wit behind the wordplays in the book is hard to grasp, especially, if English is not the first or enough prominent a language. Also, wise words like ‘if you don’t care where you want to go then it doesn’t matter which road you take’ can intrigue you only when your wisdom tooth grows its root at the backend and spreads to the enlightenment corner of the brain.

So if you can relate to my experience of Alice in wonderland pick up the book and start again. Thank you Priyanka, for this happiness, I owe you!

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“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’
What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice.
That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.”

The songwriter of the movie Purab aur Paschim writes a complete lie in the song when his lyrics say ‘kale, gore ka bhed nahin har dil se hamara naata hain’(Unlike rest of the world we Indians aren’t bigots). It must be an ideal India he and many dreamed which is not a reality, not yet. The nature of social discrimination in our country is so vast that it should be confusing for people in how many ways we are different but we remember it all when we come in contact with others.

I had not wanted it to post this on the blog. I wrote my disgust on the following incident in a private mail to my brother and my sister. My sister Meg suggested me to put it on my blog. To put in her words, “the least we can do is call this out as the nonsense that it is”.

The reason I did not want it to put this on blog is I felt the ones who were discriminated do not know they were, why bring it to their notice? Though I realized that the ones who face it directly or indirectly, we kind of want to pretend they don’t see it. They do and the good thing is they are vocal about it.

It is easier to write on politics than social evil. Everyone hates politicians, why shouldn’t we? They make money, big money. It is difficult to write on social evils that involves real people in our circles. We the people who will look like we are in agreement with caste discrimination as a social taboo but will carefully check and mind our ways of association with others, will not proceed further without checking their surnames first.

So here is what happened-

Today the maid made it clear in the conversation that she is no longer working for ‘that’ house. Whether she was giving me an account of how many cleaning jobs she had or she gave me a deliberate idea of leaving that job, I don’t know.

‘That’ job means a house of other caste people that her community considers low and they would never think of working for them.

Couple of days back she complained how it is only now that she came to know that they were of this caste, and how she would have never taken up the job if she knew it earlier.

She shocked me. Even though I know how caste problem still exists I could not have imagined its existence near Mumbai and so in-your-face. I had told her how ridiculous I thought of her not working for them which probably resulted in the morning conversation.

I remembered the time when the maid’s husband did not have a job and she complained daily about it. I remember her telling me how when certain employer did not treat her nice and me becoming sympathetic on it. I have been protective of her against any discrimination in our home since my mother never understood the need for a maid. After all this, it is shaking me to the core that she wouldn’t have thought kindly of me if I was born to that caste or if I was married to someone from that caste.

‘That’ house people stay in another wing of the housing society now but they lived on same floor last year. The lady literally rescued me when I was in dire need of a witness in police station for the passport procedure. What is more amusing, they are cleaner and organized than us, the maid had least job to do there. I remembered how I had tried suggesting hiring our maid to the other neighbors from the same caste when the woman of the house was hospitalized. They considered my suggestion but did not take it. Is it possible that they are quite aware of and have experienced racism already? I’m trying to realize how many times I would have faced this humiliation if I was born in another caste and what kind of person I would have been. Certainly a lot less considerate of this society!

Nowadays, daily in the morning, I don’t feel good to see the maid. But I also know she is not one person. There are these close relatives and I see their superiority complex is being passed to the next generation. They are a tradition that ought to have been wiped off by now but one thing about time that I have come to realize is unlike technology, the progression of a society is not an automatic process with aging years. It completely halts without a deliberate push and can even roll us back to the dark age.

The thing is I feel this shook me because I don’t believe in the idea sowed deep in our mind by the religion that is we are destined to be born in certain caste which most people believe in. Otherwise people would have been less tolerant about ridiculous practices if they thought there was a probability it could be them suffering insults like this.

It is not going. I’m more disturbed because we don’t even have a wind of change flowing that will correct all this. We have quite compromised with the situation and there is no dissent that will bring any further revolution.

I love love love Kashaf . She is everything I’m not but maybe I would have liked to be. The foremost thing I like is her ability to speak mind fluently. She is always whining actually. It should depress you and irritate you. But given her situation you feel it is justified. She carries a complex but you dare not try intimidating her on that ground, she won’t take anything lying down. Her brilliant academic achievements are I understand, a writer’s creation, but she shocks you when she complains kya hota agar allah- tala mujhe bhi khubsurat bana deta? (If only god granted me beauty-again a writer’s line but still..) Because she is like 5.6++/6 feet tall, slender, with smoothest complexion and facial features including an articulate nose and big crystal clear eyes. That is very nashukra(ungrateful) of her. If only she stops frowning so much, and smiles more. Actually, it is this part I’m in awe with, to appear so unimpressed and unfriendly towards one and all. In reality, she is protecting herself and this is her weakness, but doesn’t look like she is missing on something. Should try that straight forward life!

Kashaf is the protagonist in the Pakistani serial Zindagi Gulzar hain that started with other series on the new channel Zindagi. She has family of two amicable sisters, a hardworking mother and a father who has remarried and doesn’t stay with them. Father has remarried because his first wife Rafiya gave birth to three daughters and could not produce a son. The father mostly shrugs off his monetary and emotional responsibility towards these sisters and their mother, on the grounds that Rafiya is a working woman and can take care of herself. Kashaf’s mother is a school principal and the three sisters live a hard life with monetary crunch always pinching them. Kashaf is the eldest and brightest of them. Her bitterness for people has stemmed from this reality, the hardships they have to endure due to the neglect by their father.

The chapters are immaculately scripted, the dialogues are savory and performances are ingenious. Now my turn to whine….kya hota agar hamare producers bhi aise tv-serials banate (there are exceptions but not in daily soaps)… Impressed with Zindagi Gulzar hain, I started watching Dhoop Kinaare on youtube. The original plan was watching one episode everyday but I finished watching all in 3 days. It was just like a novel that I couldn’t put down. What we miss in our serials is some loitering on emotions and romance. The serial makers are worried that viewers will get bored and write obscene scenes to keep audience involved. They just don’t believe in automatically drawing viewers towards their product with an intelligent script. I miss the geographical broadness, there is dearth of variety in background locations and simply no attention given to subtle transitions of life. No detailing in movement from one day to another!! To create a duplicate life as engaging as real one, you need to use your real experiences, you need to have pondered on insignificant looking occurrences and not let escape the details and rawness of it that can help build a sensible indulging episode or the real life like convincing character.

Our movies made an entrance in Pakistani people’s entertainment choices much before this, making them familiar with us. It is sad how we never imported their entertainment world until now. I get to see so many brilliant performers and I feel that missing so much has been quite a loss of a kind. The dispute with our neighbors that affects our peeping in each other’s lives is robbing us both of the pleasure of sharing these creamy cultural delights. Hope Zindagi changes this forever.

And the Urdu!! Watch these Pakistani serials only to relish the language. I don’t know which other language can be so tangy and expressive, so luxurious to have an idiom or quote for every other significant and passing by emotions.

Can you as a common person become a politician in today’s date? Ask Meera Sanyal. Or ask Mumbaikars about Meera Sanyal. In 2009 everyone was curious about this lady who without any political background dared to fight elections from Mumbai. They all talked about her. Even then, she lost her deposit. There can be many angles attributing to her loss. The people who noted her did not go for voting. Others weren’t convinced enough. Maybe some more time around would eventually win her election one day. Would it? Do you really believe that?

The most important rule of democracy has almost diminished today and that is government by the people. You can enter Bollywood and be a star one day. You can start as nobody and become a successful businessman. You can also be extraordinarily genius and be one of the 11 players of the cricket team of the country that is to say one of 121 crore population. But ehem… politics?

Mostly people answer that they don’t think about politics as a career because they don’t like it. It is not as simple as not appearing for MBBS because you don’t want to be a doctor. Deep inside you have been systematically convinced that you don’t have the necessary aptitude to be a doctor. Politicians pretend to know something about ruling this country that even geniuses making their mark in respective fields can never learn. To make us feel better, we are told how murky politics is and how decent people should always stay away from it.

The ground reality of politics at local level in India is not worrisome, it is scary. Either the politician himself is a criminal or has very strong ties with the mafia. They are certainly in the know-how of illegal activities taking place in their area. The opposition parties are looking for an opportunity to rule the place and have the benefits for themselves. But if the ruling party has a very stronghold on the region then they know better……to compromise. Often these parties are local parties not making any noise at national level and thus escaping media attention. National parties though give and take their much needed support and can safely stay away from controversial issues. In such a scenario, an independent candidate is probably just pursuing his/her childhood fantasy of standing up for election and is not taken seriously by either the parties or the voters. If the candidate is a serious challenge and the constituency is not an area with media attention then the candidate could be risking his/her life by fighting the election.

Our ‘elected’ representatives are harmless until you mind your business and your jobs. Don’t worry where the space for city playgrounds are supposed to be. Don’t bother why a skywalk is built where it wasn’t needed and why a 50 year old railway bridge is not reconstructed to adapt to the inflated population.

How then this democracy is different from British Raaj or Maharaja Raaj? We Indians read newspapers, write letters to editors, can view on what Arun Jaitley said and what Manmohan Singh should have said. But are you comfortable about taking up your issues let alone objections to the local MLA or MP? I ‘m not…. There is still long way to go to be a democratic country in real sense.

While people are trying to have a glimpse of manifesto of the parties, parties are still clinging to the old formulas of giving tickets to people who will definitely win them seats. Those fellow citizens who are impressed by the speeches of leaders at high level, don’t they ever wonder how the local politician who never worked all these years will perform this time just because now they have an effective top level leader who will certainly be busy for your trivial day to day issues?

Some of my friends have been questioning my logic behind favoring AAP. It is not AAP, the brand or the Kejriwal factor. It is making scope and hope for new entrants without which both the politics and the democracy will stink. We will be taken for ride as usual if it does not become a place where people from daily walks of life can participate. No other party seems to be ready for that as yet. I know AAP may not win by majority in the Loksabha election of 2014. But it should definitely win with a handsome amount of seats to convince the traditional national parties so as to let go of old style politics of muscle power or the old trick of divisive politics.

It is time to have a modern structure of politics, it is time we have our government of the people, for the people and most importantly by the people like you and me.

If my reasoning on backing AAP sounds convincing to you then please donate to AAP.

Based on true story of mine at Thane’s New Passport Office

Sire my Passport can I remake
Tell me procedure what it takes
And all the documents needed too
so name them all and not some few

First is Identity card the site replied
Second is the proof of date on this planet that you arrived
And third will lets us know how much you are educated
A certificate of graduation or a paper that you matriculated

The reason I have to remake my passport Sire,
Old has expired and before the time retires
I would like to confess that previous had errors
Didn’t fix them since I feared your office with awe and terror
One fine day I read that these are modern times
Now your office worked with perfect rhythm and rhyme
Though it bothered how to convince you that I’m a female
And my passport for 10 years told me a male
I have looked hard at my image which seemed enough feminine
your clerk ignored that picture with sweetest smile of mine
Of course to assure you I didn’t cross seas with mustache on my face
And my passport lied frozen in the cupboards base

I summed up all this to tell you true
but you surprised me with wanting only one letter & words few
Just when I thought the fable of was indeed correct
impressed and all I saw you with new found respect

It turned out to be only a mirage
Story of professionalism was a Masquerade, deception, a faking camouflage
Informed one officer not so gently
A trip one more at this place I realized slowly
For changed address the unique card wasn’t unique
Add a ration card/ bank statement or your case is meek
When I questioned it wasn’t written on your website
I would have carried it for sure and would hold it tight
The officer thought my reasoning was in contempt
I decided to pursue make one more attempt
Asked with request if I may continue
My passport spells me wrong make it I please where there is U
Wrote on my leaving certificate the spelling was incorrect
Just like you erred with my gender, do realise, nobody is perfect

What was I thinking
Was I dreaming
The officer in front was sarcastically beaming
It ain’t that simple because we have rules
Don’t take us granted we aren’t that cool
Bring next time with you an Annexure E
Will hold thy application even though you have paid your fee
With empty hands and a heavy heart
A lengthy back journey here I start

When I go for annexure E the lawyer tells
It is to declare a changed name mostly for women after ringing wedding bells
Or you promise on oath your new name is true
The old was rubbish so I threw
I hesitate signing on a document lie
All I want to correct is an U with an I
I sit to write a long mail
Attention passport officer male or female
The dilemma of affidavit I share my confusion
and also why didn’t your website tell about the card of ration

Answers someone with an assurance new
Unique card is enough and don’t bother about annexure E or Q
Just write a truthfully signed letter
It will serve your purpose better
Now I’m sure my work will be done
I take a local train and to the big office I run
For this time you don’t need an appointment
It won’t be similar, I get a feeling but faint

And many like me who failed at the first shot are in the queue
Waiting for things to happen without any clue
I notice a board in the big sitting hall
A quote of Mahatma embedded on the wall
Does the mainframe display importance or does it highlight an irony
I ponder on the words that are legacy of my country

Customer Quote

There I see him sitting again
The one who turned my last trip in vain
But he is surely better than his neighbor
Who yelled at an applicant for falling short of one paper
And Gandhi’s word of not treating customer as interruption
Is a quote on that wall which cannot save you from humiliation

I approach the officer on his desk I lay
A print of replied email and rest my say
But simplicity is the thing he resists
A supplement to the unique card he insists
So because I have knowingly suspected this would happen
To save my day I produce the bank statement & keep the dialogues open
He remembers me among the types he detests
Questioning government rules, the ones who protest
Aah! There I spot the spelling unlike your passport, he blurts
And therefore this paper is not valid the officer reverts

My bank statement is correct and passport incorrect
All other papers I can prove except that on the leaving certificate
Check my graduation degree I cry in exasperation
And undersigned letter I point in desperation
I ask his name he refuses to tell me
Mind your work he says, that is what you should see
Work is not what is happening on my second trip
I tell my application is not moving on your whim

I would have liked to share more word- exchange details
In short it is a lost battle and a sad tale
I was told to bring a sign on my file
From the head office that was distantly away some miles
Like a diner in the restaurant who has to cook his meal
to kya hua ofcourse he has to pay his bill
Sounds weird?
The winds of change are very much feared
That is how are punished protesting voices
And are silenced questioning eyes

I’m yet to pay a third visit
Will the day count or again be lost in the transit
Oh, one additional boon I can include
My corrected leaving certificate, now can the drama conclude?
Leaving certificates are forever the college admin warned me at first
But agreed to dig in and explore so as to clear the dust
Wallah! a human error was in minutes rectified
Holy Mother Mary! My name was sanctified

I ‘m willing to give it a one more try
But what to do that your leaving certificate is fake the officer may cry
All I wanted to correct was an ‘U’ with an ‘I’…………
Sire, my passport I had wanted to remake
You did not tell me but I learned too much it takes

 

 

I came across my this particular post after a considerable time. I must have read it 100 times while editing it. Even after publishing I have edited it to my satisfaction. Satyendra Dubey is my most ‘closer to the heart’ post. Not because I wrote it well. I almost only synchronized all the information that was already available in Wikipedia. Yet while reading it anew, without any warning my eyes were filled with tears and I went into a small time depression.

He is a hero for me not because he sacrificed his life but because he sacrificed during his life. Today, not being ambitious is almost a crime. Righteousness is pitied. To stand against doubting and mocking voices from kith needs a strong conviction. Okay, you got a ‘sarkari’ job but what when your abilities are restricted with stupid rules and promotions are denied because you are not anybodies favorite? The possibilities of transfer increase because you don’t fit in with malpractices that are normal way of that office? What when you hear cheerful peers in abroad who simply don’t know what it is like working in given suffocating atmosphere? You cannot make them understand why you had to be in such a situation?

I still don’t understand. Why was it necessary for him to die? Why a job sincerely done was punished with death? Why larger part of the society remains unfazed with his death and many more corruption casualties? Even his martyrdom is questioned today as CBI claims he was a robbery victim. He sets an example to the more protective group of society that why patriotism should be a crusade carried by few bravehearts. Common people should learn to compromise.

Several other socialists do their work without you and me bothered. Several others die causing a ripple or two that ultimately settles in the overtly still society.

In the chai katta by Barkha Dutt on NDTV, when she asked some youngsters if corruption was a main issue for elections, they denied. They were looking for development they said. Today’s corruption is overwhelming and too much but it is impossible to get a zero corruption level was their take. If there is good governance and development they are willing to overlook a little corruption. I failed to understand again. If a water tank has a smaller hole comparing to the other tank that had a bigger hole, water draining is still guaranteed. It is just a matter of time. Development and governance are comprehended very narrowly here, artificially glamorous and dangerously unhealthy, just like people on mere salad diets.

I see Arvind Kejriwal as a Satyendra Dubey who did not die. Not yet. How many leaders do you see who tell you that they are not afraid to die for the country? Whether you believe them or not, how many simply spoke these words? Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Narendra Modi?Narendra Modi said something like that but people who don’t dare interviews…. These words have not only lost their meaning in political arena,  the reason a sensible and seasoned politician cannot dare to utter these words because even uneducated masses will cynically look at him. So it is not just that you dare your life but you dare to expose soundness of your mind with these words. But Arvind Kejriwal lets you look at him like he is ‘yeda’.

Many people work anonymously for the country and we remain unaware just like the soldiers we didn’t bother to count. It is their hobby probably. But if while doing so they have to pay it with their lives and if we only learn how not to be as crazy as them and look at the ‘development’ of the country then we are becoming a sick society.

A nation must have a dream and a heroic hero. It is not a practical thing to have little bit of corruption. Our compromising nature stretches too far until we realize we forgot to voice against unjust ways under the pretext of avoiding chaos and anarchy in the country. To me Arvind Kejriwal is important to preserve idealism in the country. To cynical minds he sounds too good to be true. His ways are not practical. But just like idealism should have practical ideas to implement, practicality is in idealism. They are not two opposite things. Arvind Kejriwal talks of a perfect society, a religiously, linguistically, vibrant country where the governing bodies and rulers are accountable for their actions, a parliament in which our houses think and work, a fast judiciary system that ensures fair judgments, education, health and environment are inclusive in the term ‘development’. I feel hopeful that in such a country honesty won’t be punished to death.

I like this date, 22nd February. It is the date of first day of my first job. That was 15 years back. I joined Dabhol Power Project, at that time though a big thing for me, I was incapable of scaling the significance of the project to the infrastructure plans in Maharashtra or the impactful loss that it actually turned out to be.

It is a date that fell on a perfect season that is spring- that marks a new beginning. The morning rays were reddish- orange in color and I could note all this because the office times oddly commenced at 7:30 a.m. Unlike the town offices that start at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. The project was situated oddly too, distant from the nearest city or Village. I decided to stay in Guhagar, a village nearby so as to cut the daily travel time. The city guys had to start at 6:00 a.m to reach in time. My travel route was so lovely, a zigzag narrow road that climbed the hills and gave a birds eye view of a very picturesque village that we had left behind. The village geographically is an elongate patch resting beside the sea. However lean sized is this patch, it is vertically divided by a road in between. It is a blessed village when it comes to natural greenery. The identical two storey bungalows in the village had identical backyard that grew coconut, mango, betel-nut trees, some flower plants and some everyday kitchen food essentials. I was more biased towards the seaside part of Guhagar, the house owners had their personal access to the sea beach, a clean sea beach. From above the hill, while traveling, you could also view some few rice field patches.

I would wish the road never ended but it ended in plain 20 minutes. Contrast to just experienced surreal beauty, I would enter a site with portable temporary structures, of which one was my office. Inside, the natural day light was shut and power lights flashed the place. The cabins were air-conditioned and I did not understand the need to be so cool during the early part of the day. I imagined that air-conditions absorbed the wafts of strong black coffee and gave a distinct smell to the whole place. But the sight of a coke can on the desk in morning on my first day amused me no end. The environment was poised and sincere; I concluded that because people had already started their day at 7:30. The people working here were mix of administration and technical jobs, dressed in either office casuals or in coveralls, of national and international identities.

Some faces were already familiar from the time of the job interview, they became friendlier. The second day after joining was a public holiday which is a very auspicious sign if you ask me. At the lunch mess however, the unfamiliar faces added up and I felt lost again. There was transport available even for the lunch, the distance was not walking one true, but also that people weren’t supposed to walk without safety harnesses. According to me the cars were sometimes used for very short distances.

I was a paying guest and allotted a room with a roommate in one such two storey  bungalow that I described earlier. It was a direct mismatch to the office world. I came back to a quaint charming old fashioned house. Yes it had a private access to the  beach.  The natives discouraged on late evening walks on the beach, a common reason given was that it was the time for the spirits aka ghosts when they wandered around, there was a danger of you returning possessed by one. So Sunday it was, a time to savor the slow village life. The backyard had lot of activities going in the morning hours. Bathing water was essentially boiled in special water heaters. This saved the cooking gas and utilized yard wastes like dry leaves and fallen branches that were used as fuel. The smoke and the water steam sent a much needed warmth to warmup if you stood beside it. Equally pleasant was watching the water pumps throw water into tiny canals that reached all plants. Further ahead you could smell the salty sea and hear rhythmic sea waves.  Back home, the indoor swing in the verandah was my favorite part. But the constantly frowning and very judgmental house lady was not. I had a roommate who shared the same dislike for her. It soon wasn’t going to matter at all. The shortest month of the year ended soon handing me my first salary. I knew I had a choice now….:)

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