Friday, July 27, 2012

The night that never ended...

It is more than half a year now since me and my friends went for a trek. As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, I love the forests, the mountains and the rivers, so this time off we went to the Western Ghats. It was to Kumaraparvatha (KP), Karnataka.  Anyway I am not going to write about the peak or the beauty of the Ghats in this post of cause that is just not possible.

 The KP trek was unlike the usual one day treks we do, this one was an overnight trek. We are usually a group of 3 for the treks or for the travels, but for this we had 6. For all of us this was the first experience of an overnight trek. We were equipped quite adequately. We started striking out the items of the checklist, 4 litres of water per person, veg pulao, cookies, bun, candies, blankets, extra pair of socks and briefs, extra t shirt, sweater and jacket, blankets 2 each, a 4 member tent, a 2 member tent, medicines, swiss knife. Done. Set to go.

We started our trek at 8 on a fine Sunday morning and we made it to the peak by 5 in the evening. We were all good and happy at the peak. It was windy, cool and beautiful atop the peak. By around 5.30, we devoured on the vegetable pulao we had packed in the morning. I am not a major veg freak, but the pulao with chutney, sambhar and curd was enough to give me a palatal orgasm!

The Signs – part I
After a small round of sitting around circles and cracking gross jokes, by around 6 pm we pitched the tents at a fairly neat place, but windy. Not more than 45 mins from then it started raining. The rains were okay, not too bad, but first signs of trouble started showing up, the tent wasn’t capable of holding up against the wind. It was almost dark and the rain subsided for a while as if to tell us, get a place to pitch your tents soon dodos! Started scouting for a new place to pitch the tent, this time we were better experienced than 1 hour ago. We looked for a place with some sort of bush or wall to one side so that it would act as a barrier between the wind and us. In the next half an hour the tent was fixed. In one tent 4 people and 2 bags, in the other tent 2 people and 4 bags. We spread the bed sheets inside the tent, wore our sweaters and monkey caps and started talking about the trek and the descend next day sounding serious and charged up. Not too comfortable, but at 5400 feet above sea level, this is a luxury. So there atop the peak were 6 men, darkness and the some square piece of land to call a peak.

The Signs – part II
It started raining again, this time stronger than before. The winds also started blowing hard...and now we knew we are in for trouble. In the next 15 minutes the first red signal stared us in our face, water was getting inside the tent!!! And in a few minutes afterwards our tents looked like a bad maintained pool with leaves and leeches and stuff which we couldn’t figure out. Resigned to fate, we just sat tight hoping the rain God would show some mercy on us and slow down a little….nope, nothing. It poured and poured until our tents, us, our clothes, our sweaters, our surrounding and everything which could be was wet and dripping. I called out to my friend in the other tent “Aliya (a mallu version of macha) whats the scene there?” His reply “we are swimming along with the bags”. We checked the time, it was just 11.30 pm, it’s the time I should be watching The Departed and having a beer at home! But here I was waiting for it to be sunrise next day morning so as to escape the terrible ordeal of the night.

The Culmination
It was pitch dark with the occasional streaks of lightning. Thunder and storms sang us a lullaby, It was below 6 degree Celsius and needless to say, cold. Wet to the bone and shivering, there was nothing much we could do; we started singing songs to live through the night. We hugged each other for body heat and sang one after the other in all possible languages. We promised if we made it through the night we would go back to our life which we wilfully put at stake for a while and ask the girls we loved out, eat good biriyani, bring more focus into life and beyond everything, we just hoped the night would end, that the rain would stop, that we would see the light next morning. Finally at 4.45 am, me and 2 others left the tent, got out. It was cold to say the least and pitch dark. We kept on jumping so that we wouldn’t go numb. At last at 7 in the morning the sun showed up…we had lived through the night.

I have heard about nights that never end, but for me atop the mountain was the night that never ended. It took more than sheer physical endurance to make it through such a rash night, it required an amazing sense of humour and a zest for life. It is experiences that make a man and KP stands by far the corner stone of my experiences. One might be able to quote a zillion authors who have written about life, but I understood life better, I understood myself better, I understood my friends better, I understood my people better, I understood my aims better, I understood my confusions better, I understood what its truly to face the wrath of nature better, I understood the crux of what Marx said better that “Philosophy is to the real world what masturbation is to sex” (you should get screwed from all quarters to understand that better by the by)

On some nights like this, I am pregnant with a deep desire to travel and then I think about my life so far…I have less to complain, after all I have survived KP and the night that was. I couldn’t have asked for better people to travel with; The man who works for the World’s best Bank at B’lore, The immaculate Financial Consultant at Pune, The Engineer for Infosys at Sree Padmanabha’s blessed land, The quintessential Kannur guy who works at the Big Blue and needless to say The dude who quit a French company to serve Indian soil better…Blessed am I to have been in such company!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The story of how I reached the Himalayan land - Nepal

I am not the irresponsible kind of guy, I am adventurous to a large extent and sometimes I push it too much, but I am not irresponsible. I am the kind of guy who will make sure my bags are packed properly (I travel with only one backpack as a policy), my tickets are in place, my id cards and everything is fine. Anyway let me tell you an incident, the story of how I reached Nepal.

I travel very frequently, to the Ghats or rivers or mountains; nature was and is a huge source of inspiration for me. So this time around I decided to go to the land of the Himalayas, Nepal. To go to Nepal, Indians don’t need passport, just a voter id card is enough. We i.e. three of us took a train from Bangalore, sorry swalpa adjust maadi, Bengaluru to New Delhi and subsequently was supposed to fly from New Delhi to Kamandhu. All was well, reached Delhi, checked into a place at South Ex, had a couple of pegs of good ale and super excited about the flight next day i.e. a Sunday morning.

Scene change

Sunday morning - Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi 08.45 hours As we were producing our e tickets at the gate, I realised I have left my voter id card at Bengaluru and happily come off to Delhi without it. Need I say more? A lot of pleading and drama happened, but to no effect, they wouldn’t budge! I whipped my drivers license, old identity cards, atm cards from nationalised banks, everything possible! But no…Without voter id card, no permit into Nepal or even inside the airport. You know how it is to realise you’re royally f****** up? Well…I knew it then. My dear friend Mr Menon had wonderful ideas like flying to B’lore on Sunday, getting it from home and flying back to Delhi and taking the same flight next day. It was a fantastic idea, just that the idea’s cost was 28 grand, so that was out of question. The next idea seemed better, Mr Menon’s roommate could courier the card to Delhi and I could fly on Tuesday morning with it while the other’s go the same idea.

So there I was, stuck in Delhi for 2 more days when the dearest of my friends flew to Katmandhu…questions were many, do I really deserve to go on this trip after being so irresponsible? What am I good at? Anyway…reconciled myself and went to another friend’s room at JNU and was waiting for my friend to courier the id card from B’lore. I was waiting and waiting and waiting, but no calls! All couriers closed on a Sunday and the earliest I can get it is by Tuesday sometime! How screwed can I get??? When something goes wrong, the entire world conspires against you. By 12 noon on a Sunday when I should be on my flight to Nepal, I was sitting in a hostel room in Delhi counting every second. Losing 2 or 3 days and reaching Nepal is a bad idea, so yes...let them go, I will go to Dharamshala and drown my sorrow there, I told myself battling hope.

Scene Change again

You know how people are when they have nothing to lose, they will try everything to make it happen. I put up a status message on facebook saying ‘if anybody is flying from B’lore to Delhi today or tomorrow, please get to me at the earliest’. I put this up at 12.05 pm and by 12.10 somebody responded that his friend is flying to Helsinki from Delhi the next day morning and that his friend is flying to Delhi from B’lore in 2 hours time!!! Life was moving super fast. Courier plans cancelled, put the people in B’lore in touch, rest before I know my voter id was on an airplane coming to dear papa. By the same evening, went to the Delhi airport, got my voter id card, literally fell on the girl’s feet and ran to the Indigo counter to see if I can get a ticket for Monday morning in the same flight instead of Tuesday. Got it, mischief done, got myself a ticket for Monday morning and hit a hotel nearby waiting and praying that nothing more goes wrong. I couldn’t believe what had happened; it was a stroke of sheer luck to put up that status update and even luckier to have a bug network out there in a social networking site!

Nothing went wrong the next day morning, everything was just perfect and beautiful…I checked in on time, had a good coffee, boarded the flight and I was on my way to my much needed break…from people I know, from cities I know, from everything into a new place where my phone doesn’t work and getting online is not an addiction. While on board I was lost in what I day I left behind. I understood the power of facebook, I understood that one can never know who comes and helps you when in trouble and beyond everything I understood I have been very very lucky and that the Universe didn’t conspire against me in actuality. I had my faith restored. What happened in Nepal is an entirely different chapter and I can write a book on it, but as of now…let me just celebrate this blog post of mine after more than half a year. I was searching for a worthy come back and I guess this experience is worthy enough. I have lived life and I am living, its difficult to do so, most of them just exist.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Read only if you are 18 +, if not lie about your age

There is a slight problem here. My friend Ms Divya Nambiar whom you might identify as a bery famoush blogger thinks I am a cheat. She thinks I am an ass and the world should know that, and how does she do that? Occasionally in her blogs she somewhere or the other drops my name and attributes all the bad things to my name. So I am here to defend my case.

I would like to declare at the outset itself, I consider myself a very nice, handsome, normal guy (more adjectives will come up during the course of the post)

Just because I crack gross jokes, how can I be an ass or a pervert? And honestly I don’t crack gross jokes, I just play with word you know…like lets say, my fav movie is Forrest Hump or Missionary Impossible and the likes.

PJ’s are my birth right. I will crack them as long as I don’t have to think for it. It comes very naturally to me. Its as natural to me as it is for a cow to chew the cud. There are only two things I am good at; Poor Jokes and Gross Jokes and I sincerely hope I don’t end up being one in the end.

Yes, I drink. Its some sort of alternate reality. I still stand by my statement – Intoxication is not a crime, it’s a way of life. I sometimes do say I love you or naice in the Borat style after I am drunk. I might also scratch my back once I have had my share of ale, but that’s bery bery normal no? Who doesn’t scratch ones back? I scratch your back, you scratch my back, Harder!!!

I might look like a lecher, I have been called one, and that too by a guy! Damn!! Anyway, I would like to clarify, I am not. I am not a lecher. Think what you want. Everybody who has a beard or long hair or wears a kurta is not a lecher, terrorist or goonda. Grow up!!! I would categorize my beard and mane as unkempt. Its not the rockstar one or the crack one. I am very passionate about Hair. It grows on me.

People might consider I am cheap Bastard because I sometimes do wear the Kurta for 3 days or the same jeans for a year. All I can say is, detergents are bad for your skin. And yes, I can afford a blade, if somebody wants to donate one to me, do better. Go shave yourself, and you know I meant your facial hair.

I will smile at people, I will talk to them, I have many acquaintances, but I do not know the names of all. Is that actually a problem? And how does it make me an ass? I remember them, know them, genuinely smile and make them feel comfortable around me. What more do you need? By heart the names of everybody I meet on the street daily? Oh please…

Having said all this, lemme tell you what I do except from all the above mentioned creative practises. I teach. I teach college kids (I sound like an old fart) mass communication. I teach in a Women’s College. Now now…close your mouth, don’t look like a baboon’s back. If you have got a problem, just go and see Dirty Picture. Vidya Balan will take your mind off the thought of me teaching college girls mass communication. I am not a bad lecturer okay, ammachiyana (swear on my grandmother).

I am pretty much sure that by now, the 61 followers I have of my blog will either become 6 or 1, but its okay. I am my best critic and reader, sad but true. If you want to befriend me even after this, you have to answer a question. If you don’t sleep the whole night, does one have to actually brush ones teeth in the morning? If you’re thinking the purpose behind this superb question…don’t think, just answer. And do me one more favour, please say “I like Poland, I love Poland”

If at all I die in the near future, my friend Divya Nambiar who made me write this will get my bottle of Sula Saugvinon Blanc wine which if I don’t die plan to open it for Christmas. And I die, bury me face down, so the whole world can kiss my ass. And also, please bury me along with an old monk.

PS: Whats the world coming to? I must say that Mc Donalds and KFC are taking over the world. The other day when I was walking down the street I heard two guys swear at each other, one called the other Mc Choot and the he retorted Sala wrap (cracked with dear friend Adil who now curates documentaries for a living)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I am a hardcore metal fan and needless to say, I love Metallica, a band whose name even sounds like metal! I waded through half my school and college life listening to them and going for moshpits and rock concerts. In less than 3 hours, Metallica is playing at Bengaluru and I am sitting on my pad sipping a beer and listening to them on my laptop, sad but true (one of my fav songs by the by). It’s the dream of any Metallica fan to see Kirk Hammett live, but damn! I am not going for the gig. I have other responsibilities to take care of and ever since I started living on my own, I have been slightly more careful about my money. So here I am venting my frustration of not going for it by writing a blog (I know, Loser!!!) Five songs of Metallica which I think are just the best! Any rocker worth his locks cannot but head bang to these ultimate metal solos.

(1)Creeping Death
In the movie The Ten Commandments, The Angel of Death is represented by a green cloud. Bassist, Cliff Burton thought it looked like ‘Creeping Death’. Thus was born one of the best solos Metallica has ever had. This song was originally written when Kirk Hammett was in Exodus and was named ‘Die by the Sword’. Hardly any live performance goes without the crazy fans humming to this song when the chorus sings ‘die die die’.

(2)Master of Puppets
Ranked by VH1 as the third greatest Heavy Metal Song ever, Master of puppets is a song on drugs. The reference is to master controlling your life throughout the song; the master being drugs and the drug user the puppet. Metallica also recorded this with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999 which features in their album, S&M.

There are songs and then there are songs that never leave your mind; this song from ‘And justice or all’ was the first single released by the band to feature bassist Jason Newsted. He continued playing with Metallica until 2001. It is a song about a soldier wounded by a mortar blast in his face asking the doctor to kill him. The lyrics are based on the novel ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ by Dalton Trumbo, which is about World War I.

(4)Enter Sandman
Initially this song was supposed to be about death, but they changed the theme to nightmares because the then manager Bob Rock though death doesn’t sell. This paved way for James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett to make ‘Enter Sandman’ which is by far the most Radio played song of Metallica. Due to its overwhelming popularity, Metallica usually signs off an encore with this song.

(5)Fade to Black
When you are robbed the last thing you would do is write a song about it, but that was what inspired James Hetfield to write ‘fade to black’. He wrote this song one fine morning when he found his amp stolen. Not only was the amp his favourite, but the first one he ever owned. This song is all about losing everything and wondering if it’s worth going on. This is also the last song Jason Newsted performed on tour with Metallica.

For those who know them already, cheers! For others, try listening to them, you won’t be disappointed :-)

Friday, October 14, 2011


I left home 4 years back. Even when I was at home, my dad has never agreed on giving me a two wheeler, he was damn scared about me driving it, the roads I am driving on and the vehicle I could be possibly driving. So when I started my city hopping, I never had the luxury of a bike or a two wheeler and a four wheeler was out of question, I always had to use public transport. Of the cities I have been to, I have stayed in Hyderabad the maximum and as much as I have grown on the city, the city has grown on me. If there is one thing I would like to change about this city, it is the auto rickshaw drivers’ attitude. Yes, I know it’s a pan Indian scenario, but as far as I am concerned, it is in Hyderabad I had to travel by rickshaws the maximum and I must say it had made me a wiser man! There are some lessons I learned from bargaining with them, there is a knack of travelling in the rickshaws and there is a knack for getting the best price (yes it is an auction to a large extent) This skill I picked up in Hyderabad has helped me travel by rickshaws anywhere in the country without the fear of actually paying as much as the ric itself!

So here is my guide to travelling by auto rickshaws in Hyderabad:

# You remember that Chinese guy Russell Peters mentions in his show who tries to sell him a purse for $ 35? Well…the rickshaw drivers in Hyderabad are pretty much the same! They will try to give you the best price. They will try to convince you that by taking you for 4 kms for 200 bucks they are actually doing you a favour!

# When you stop a rickshaw, your glance should first go to the bar separating the driver from the passenger seat to see if there is that small thing called a ‘meter’. If it is not there, don’t even think about arguing, unless if you have no other better business in the world and you want to get amused.

# It is sad but true, try stopping a rickshaw whose driver is an old man because they say, the older generation is better and it is true to a large extent.

# If you find the meter is flying faster than a MIG airplane, do not have any qualms in stopping him right there, tell him his meter is almost ready to take off and walk away.

# In case you are in emergency, never…I repeat never let the ric driver know that! If you do, that’s it. Get ready to pledge your chain, ring and all possible items to pay him. This I learned the hard way. I was flying to Trivandrum from Delhi (the old airport). It was an Air India flight (I know, no good looking air hostess! Again sad but true) and since it was a domestic flight I went to the domestic terminal. The flight was at 6 and I reached the airport by 5.15. To my dismay, they tell me since it’s an Air India flight and the departure is from the International terminal and I had no effing clue where that was. I asked a rickshaw guy where it was, he said it’s quite far and I am gonna miss the flight! He said he’ll try taking me there and quoted an amount of 250 bucks. In that panic, who cares if it is 250 or 450! To sum it up, I was auto borne and he was not exactly racing or anything. 5 mins after that I see the board ‘International terminal – left’. Yes, I paid 250 bucks for 750 metres. And to make matters worse, the flight was bloody late!!!

# In case there are no rickshaws available and these guys do not agree to take you where you want for a decent fare, you know what I do? I ask the police man at the junction to get a ric for me. I call him Sir, make my face as if I don’t get a rickshaw now I will die of fatigue, that’s it, job done, any rickshaw will take you where you want as per the meter price.


Get into the rickshaw for whatever fare he wants, go till the nearest police station and ask him how much he wants?

# Ever tried offering a cookie or a fag to the rickshaw driver while he is driving? It has worked for me. Try being nice to him, he might reciprocate; again I repeat… he might.

# Ever tried preaching to the driver after you get in? Some of the best dialogues are:
“I believe in dignity of labour, you are doing your work and I am doing my work, money doesn’t come free to anybody. We are not policemen or politicians to get a bribe”
“I understand your predicament, but why make money by unfair means? 10 rupees extra I will give because I respect you and your profession”
These might work, if they do not, he is fubared (fucked up beyond any redemption)

# In case you are not going by meter and upon reaching the destination he starts saying this is not where you had told him to drop you and you have to pay extra for covering that extra 2 metres, there are couple of options to deal with it: (1) Keep the exact change and walk off (2) If he doesn’t give you back the money, sit in the rickshaw and say you are not leaving (girls be careful of that though) and (3) Argue till he thinks you are a cheap bastard and gives you back the money (let it be if he thinks so, its my effing money you nincompoop!)

# And last but not the least, there are some wonderful drivers out there, some of the best people I have met in my life are rickshaw drivers and sometimes I have been mistaken for one also (the mean one though). If you find a truthful and efficient driver like that, do not hesitate to tip him slightly more than the meter as we all know circumstances make a man and his circumstance made him a rickshaw driver and you the passenger.

Thus goes my journey…its keeps on going. I haggle shamelessly, I fight without thinking, I try to save every penny and if needed give him more than what he could earn in a day. All said and done, I share a very special bond with the auto rickshaw...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A very special bottle of beer

I do not know how many among you had the opportunity to booze with your dad? Last night, for the first time in my life I had a beer with my dad. Now, I have seen my Dad drinking his usual peg many a time, I have talked to him about alcohol, grass and all possible intoxicants. My dad knows that I drink, he offered me a beer last Christmas when he poured himself a Black Label, but since I had an examination the next day I couldn’t accept it then. But yesterday it happened…I had a beer with my dad.

I was in Chennai doing a small South Indian city hopping trip and had come to Chennai to meet my dad who was down on official purpose. It was all good, met him, had some lunch, talked about Telangana and things back home and the usual son-father talk. By around 7 pm my uncle and his colleague, an Englishman joined us and my uncle pulled out some beer and some Indian brandy. My dad all of a sudden offered me a beer. For a minute I didn’t know what to do! A chilled beer on a hot Chennai evening is quite a tempting offer I must say. I stood like that for a minute, accepted the beer.
While sipping my beer there and enjoying the company of my family members and a stranger, I realised something, I had grown up and beyond that I understood my dad acknowledged I had grown up…

My dad is somebody who never even let me ride a bike or even let me pillion ride it till recently, but now when I approached him saying in a big city I need a bike, he gave me the go ahead after the initial no’s.

I have never owned or used a mobile till I reached HCU for my MA, it had been a strict no for me, but when I stepped into that campus, my dad gave him his own saying use it carefully.

He never gave me money in excess for me to squander, but when he went back to Trivandrum after dropping me in the University, he pulled out a sum, gave me, said the rest he’ll go home and deposit into my account and got into the car. When I counted how much it was after he left, it was 10k.

I have fought with my dad the maximum in my life for a multitude of things. For not letting me use a mobile, for not letting me go for a late night movie, for not letting me stay back for cheering the college basketball team, for not letting me ride or ride behind a bike and for a zillion other things…but now when I think, I am what I am because of what he didn’t let me do and for letting me what would help me in my life.

That gesture of offering a beer to me was very symbolic to me, it was as if he had accepted that I am on my own now, that I am capable of taking care of myself now. I go from Chennai a happy man, and when I say a ‘man’ this time, it holds a renewed feeling…that my dad, the man I admire the most in my life has acknowledged that I am a grown up guy now.

I had a beer, probably one of the best I have had till now...

Saturday, September 17, 2011


For those who don’t know me, I am perennially confused. I take confusion to a new level altogether, be it the food I order from a menu, the girl I wanna go out with, the whiskey I wanna gift my dad, the career I have chosen, the office I work in, the shoe I buy…I am so damn confused. As a result I am in my 5th job in 2 years…

In my first job I was an ‘I dunno what to call’ but my director’s boy in a small film production firm. It was nice, adventurous, different, but it paid me too less and as a result, there went my first job in less than 1 and a half months months time. I called it quits.

My second job was with an IT solutions company as a content writer. Writing is not a bad thing…but writing about microfinance, about genetically modified seeds, about hospitals! Well…not to say more, 4 months is what I lasted for. I got so bored that when I was writing about the Brain & Spine care unit of a hospital I actually wrote Brain & SWINE care!!! (Thank god I wasn’t chucked out)

My third one was by far the most comfortable one. I was with the United Nations in Delhi as a Research Associate. Good money, good and knowledgeable boss, good profile, cheap beer, good chicks…everything was good except that I had some ideological clash with the UN and just that I prioritized my relations over my career and so thought Hyderabad was where I belonged. Yea, I know what you must be thinking, what an ass! Anyway, needless to say more, I quit!

Took a break after that, went travelling, travelled with the best of people…my childhood friends, saw the poorna Kumbh (once in 12 years), travelled in what could called a bus, but a tin with wheels suits it better, boozed for a lifetime, saw new places, new people, new culture…that’s probably one of the best thing that has happened in my life so far.

My fourth job was with a Green Energy Development Company based in Hyderabad. Okayish company, great boss, okayish money (enough for chicken and beer), but I didn’t like corporate life! I felt chained, I didn’t life conforming. I didn’t wanted to be judged by the perfect pleats of my trousers or the shining tip of my shoe. Put up with it for 10 long months.

Now I am teaching in a college in Hyderabad. I am happy with what I am doing. I am not conforming to anybody, I have a very decent pay package, I bought a good television for myself, shifted into a beautiful house, probably the first proper house ever since I left home and it looks like I will stick with this job for a while…its all very good! But you know what, I am slightly freaked out. I got so used to uncertainty that the sheer feeling of certainty is freaking me out! Maybe its all for the better, maybe that’s how things change as I grow older. But as of now…its slightly overwhelming and that’s confusing…

Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a rolling stone’ fits me the best I guess…
“To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone…”

Monday, August 29, 2011


I have often wondered what exactly ‘passion’ is. The word never appealed to me much. I like many a thing, in fact a lot of things, I like music, I like travelling, I like books, I like speaking, I like good company, good stories…I mean the list goes on, but I don’t know if I am passionate about any of this cause at the end of the day I have to survive and once I started for fending myself, I understood that big difference between life and living.

I had the opportunity to run a marathon yesterday, the Hyderabad annual marathon. For me it was a matter of a challenge. I have never run 10 kilometres at one stretch in my life so far. When my ex colleague rang up and asked me if I was game for a 10K run, I thought why not.

I reached the starting point at 4.15 am in the morning, I was stunned to see at least a crowd of a strong 600-700 people assembled there. I saw people of all age groups, but what stays in my mind is the number of what I would call ‘oldies’, people way beyond their 40’s and 50’s. In the newspapers, I read today that the eldest to run was an 81 year old! I was humbled to say the least, but beyond that, I saw what passion was. They had a passion for running. While I was struggling to finish my 10K I saw a young man (55 years old) striding on his way to finish his 42k!!! It was passion, a passion for running, a passion for better health, a passion for proving themselves…maybe I know now what passion is.

It could be that thing what keeps you going when you’re all alone and the distance seems so far.

It could be that thing which makes life more challenging.

It could be hope.

I know not, I am still confused over the word, but I know one thing, if I really love something, that could mean the world to me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mamu with a smile

There are some people you come across in life who make a huge influence on you. There is a Mamu I know who sells chicken fry outside a small residential colony in Hyderabad. His wayside bandi is not the most visible thing on the main road nor is he the kind of guy whom you would give a second glance. It is out of pure adventure spirit that I once went to his small bandi to get some chicken for one of the booze parties in the campus. That’s it, I became a fan of his chicken fry! Its probably one of the best things I have had in Hyderabad and that remains true till date. Then as fate had its way, I moved into that same residential colony and his chicken fry became a regular affair for me and my friend who were major poultry fans.

You know how it is, once you buy it from the shop, you’re a customer, twice you’re a customer…everyday you’re his most faithful customer. The bond grew beyond a customer and vendor relationship. I used to chat with him almost on a daily basis and he used to love having a chai and sutta with me. We talked about life, about relations, bikes, religion…the years in his life had taught him many a thing and I started to respect him for that.

He was a man in his early sixties, each day early morning he would start his preparations for the evening. 6 o clock, he is there in front of the colony gate catering to each and every one. There is a small paan shop beside his bandi which he manages at times if not for his son who hasn’t impressed me as much. Rain or shine, Sunday or Monday he is there with his bandi.

On one fine afternoon I met him with 2 big packets in his hand waiting for a rickshaw. As part of the usual socialising I said a hi and asked him whats all the luggage. He said he is off to his hometown for Ramzaan and that there ain’t any chicken for the next couple of days. I wished him an Eid Mubarak. To my astonishment, he put down the bags on the road and gave me a hug and wished me the same, I was quite taken aback at that unusual expression of love, but when I looked into his face after that…It was probably one of the most genuine smiles I have ever seen, it was one of the most genuine hugs I have ever received.

Hardly a day went without greeting him or seeing him on his stool sitting outside the dome and smoking a cigarette. Once when I went back home very late at around 12 in the night, he was there outside packing up. I walked up to him and filled him up on the details of the day over a chai. When I was about to leave, he said “its been weird not greeting you at least once in a day, I have been wondering where you’ve been, now I will call it a day”.

Days passed too soon, the chicken had grown on me and Mamu had become an inevitable part of Hyderabad, but life has to go on. I got a new job (Yes, again!!!) and the commute was too much for me to handle. Finally one fine day I bade farewell to good old Gulmohar Park, my lovely penthouse and above all...the toughest, Mamu. I shifted on August 1st and that evening is not something I would forget so easily…Mamu had a sober yet smiling face and he offered me some chicken to munch on the way. He blessed me and said “Har ek ko apne zimmedariyon ka khayal rakhna hain aur bus jeete jaana hai…”

I am penning this more than a month from that day…I miss that old man with a smile on his face each and every moment. Life has not been very good to him unlike to many of us, but he never had a smirk on him. He reaffirmed my faith in people and my faith in humanity.

I have not posted anything for long, and this is my 50th post, not a huge number, but a mark for me. This is a dedication to Chand Pasha a.k.a My Chicken Mamu, one of the finest people I have met in my life. Thank God, I had time to chat with him, have a chai with him, eat his wonderful chicken and to have met him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Coffee House, everybody's Coffee House - The ICH

Till the age of 20 I have loitered in and around the little town of Trivandrum. It is a charming town with beautiful beaches, a wonderful railway station, a bunch of engineering and medical colleges, a not too terrible International Airport, some really good schools and a lot of small way side eateries which is a food lovers delight. But I should warn you that there is no subway where you can spend a lazy afternoon or a mac donalds to take your kid out for a quick snack. Subways, Pizza Huts, Mac Donalds were all a new phenomenon for me once I reached Hyderabad. But there is something very unique to Kerala which I believe is something every malayali is proud of – The Indian Coffee House.

They are spread across the length and breadth of this land. After very long, today I had the fortune of going to an Indian Coffee House. In a fast moving world where I can’t even be sure if a two way road in the morning is one way by evening it filled me with a weird nostalgia and delight how the ICH (Indian Coffee House) hasn’t changed a bit. The chairs were still the same, the uniform of the waiters were still the same white and they still wear the Nehru caps, even the curtain drapes were the same.

For those who don’t know the ICH, let me give you a small description of the place. Each Coffee House looks different, but it does give the feel of a place which has an intellectual air about it with many a guy sitting in a corner stroking his beard and having a Malayalam weekly in his hand. The tables are plain with no fancy mats on them or fancy glasses atop to please the aesthetic. The walls have their special dishes plastered on them which I don’t think has changed ever since inception of the ICH. Anytime of the day, the place is lively with discussion and chatter. One can see crowd of all strata, be it the coolie or the white kutra clad politician or the young college goer, they are all there having their chai and talking.

If all these people are there, you can imagine what the pricing could be. It is damn cheap. Where else can you find a cold coffee for 15 bucks? A masala dosa for 12 bucks? I don’t think that’s quite common, and mind you…its damn tasty, don’t think its some cheap stuff. Ever heard of something called the mutton omelette? That’s their speciality, a well cooked yellow omelette draped around mince fried mutton which can give any non vegetarian a palatal orgasm, and again – damn cheap. A decent tasty meal wouldn’t cost you more than 20 bucks. Ah…ICH, the poor man’s Taj.

True, in my early youth I did not know who Ronald Mac Donald was or what was the latest addition to a Pizza Corner Menu card, but I can say I have had the fortune of having a chai, spending time with a select few friends and munching on the wonderful mutton omelette of The Indian Coffee House. This I believe is an experience no High funda eat street can give you. For me, the ICH holds a very special and fond memory too, during the days when I used to freelance for the Hindu Metro Plus, I did the interview of one of the top college bands in Kerala during those times in a corner of the ICH sipping chai and discussing Heavy Metal. During my Uni-Y days (The university wing of the YMCA) after a heated debate on topics ranging from politics to porn, we would all go to the ICH to have our tummy fill.

There are some things unique to a place, The Indian Coffee House is one experience. You have to be there to know it. Felt good to see that structure still up and alive catering to the common man. Hats off…