Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Bus Journey

‘Hi Sameer, you are looking really happy today, is it love or is it dove?’ mocked my colleague as I entered my workplace.

‘Neither’, I said with a smile ‘I’m going back home for a week.’

‘Even better, enjoy the holidays.’

It was my first leave after 2 years and I was delighted. The day went as usual and I completed my work by 5 in the evening. I carried my luggage to office that day not knowing if I’d be able to finish my work early. I had forgotten my mobile charger and the battery was already a bit low. I left office and started for the bus station. In about 30 minutes I was at the bus stop. I had booked my tickets for the 7 p.m. bus and was sitting idly reading my book. Almost 1 hour passed and the bus arrived at 6:45. As I was getting up, I saw a well dressed man hurry to the ticket office. The bus cleaner took about 10 minutes to tidy the bus and by that time I called up at home and told them the bus number MH31 5055 and the time of arrival 7 am. As I was about to pick up my luggage to board the bus, I saw that man again, this time right in front of me.

‘I know I am troubling you, but I really need to get on this bus. I have an emergency and the next bus is at 10 pm. Please help me out. I would pay double the amount for the ticket, please let me travel on your seat.’

‘But even I need to be home early tomorrow’, I tried to argue.

‘I have purchased the ticket for the 10 pm bus, you can take this too.’

‘Not a bad deal’, I thought and agreed, took my fare and the 10 p.m. ticket and started reading the book again.

I had dinner and boarded the bus at 10 p.m., tuned in my IPod and went off to sleep. At about 2 a.m. the bus stopped in the jungle due to a flat tire. With nothing more to do I dozed off. In the morning I got to know that they took almost 2 hours to repair the puncture and we were about 3 hours off the scheduled time. When I reached the destination it was almost 1 in the noon.

The bus stop was walking distance from my place, so I decided to walk. When I reached home I saw a big crowd gathered around my house. A chill ran down my spine. What must have happened? Was papa alright? He didn’t keep well these days and that was one reason for me to come home. Even my younger brother rides the bike rashly? Did anything happen to him? I almost ran to my house, trying to push everyone aside as I tried to go in.

I could hear murmurs all around me.

‘He was such a good man.’ ‘How can god be so ignorant to good people?’ ‘God bless his soul.’ ‘This is such a great loss to the family.’

And suddenly I heard a shout from behind me, ‘Sameer’s here.’ There was pin drop silence for a moment and everyone turned to look at me.

The murmurs started getting louder. ‘What happened?’ I asked ‘tell me, is everyone all right?’

I glanced around the room to see my brother and my mother sitting at the far corner of the room. They stood up and ran towards me. I could see multiple emotions on their face at once. ‘What happened?’ I thought trying to clear my mind. And then I saw a small framed photograph on the table besides them. I squinted to see it clearly. It was my father’s photograph. He passed away this morning when he heard that the bus number MH31 5055 had met with an accident.

I wish I had not been ignorant and charged my mobile. I wish I had informed my family that I had changed my schedule. I wish I was responsible enough to understand why my father would always tell me ‘Keep calling, wherever you go.’

Epilogue: This story is dedicated to the several youngsters who get irritated when their parents ask them where they are. They feel the parents are not giving them the ‘FREEDOM’ they deserve. Please think twice before you switch off you mobile or ignore calls from your parents.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Last Meeting ...

It had been 4 years today. On first thoughts, it felt like it was just yesterday, when they met each other and as he drove down to the florist to buy a bouquet for her, all the memories rushed back in his mind. He distinctly remembered the way they first met. After all, it was the same day, 4 years back.

That was one accident he didn’t regret at all, although he had a hairline fracture, it was worthwhile because that was the first time he had met her.

It was about 7 in the morning and he was going for his tuition classes. Standing at the traffic signal waiting for the lights to go green, he was casually glancing around, when he heard a loud scream accompanied by screeching of tires. And before he knew what was happening, he was on the ground with his bike over him. He turned around and was about to throw a volley of obscenities, when he saw a girl flat on the road with her scooty over her. She was carrying a couple of books and some flowers and was dressed like she was going somewhere important. As he got up pushing aside his bike, he saw the girl struggling to get up, tears running down her face. He felt a pang of guilt, not knowing why, and he went over to help her. Maybe the guilt was because he didn’t like to see the tears in her eyes. Her eyes were beautiful, dark and big. She had put some mascara too, which emphasized the size a bit more and as the tears ran down her eyes, the mascara left a dark trail all along her cheeks.

‘I’m sorry’, he said instinctively and what happened afterwards made him realize that he was in love. She gave him an innocent and confused look, tears still running down her face. Without saying a word she stood up and started gathering her things. While helping her, he saw a greeting card too, a birthday card.

‘I’m sorry’, he said again, ‘I spoiled your birthday.’

‘It’s not your fault, I couldn’t control my scooty. It’s me who should be sorry; I hope you are not hurt.’

‘No, I’m ok.’ I said but by then the pain had started to overpower all the other emotions. He saw one more rose lying on the road. He picked it up and handing it over to her, he said ‘Happy Birthday.’

She couldn’t help but smile and he realized that he had a crush on her. She invited him to her party in the evening and he obliged. Days went by and they fell deeper and deeper in love.

‘Here’s your change’, said the florist, pulling him back out of his memories. ‘Do you need a card over it?’

‘No, Thanks’, he said and walked out of the shop, heading to the destination of the meeting. It was just 5 mins walk from the florist’s shop. He reached quickly and walked directly to her.

‘Happy Birthday Sweetheart, how are you? It’s been so long since we last met but I’ve missed you with every passing day. I can’t tell you how I’ve desired to be by your side, to hold you and be close to you. I’ve missed your smile, your touch and your fragrance. It becomes difficult at times to stay away from you and I feel like crying but you know na, I’ve promised you that I would never cry. I love you honey’

Saying this he put the bouquet down over her grave and tears ran down his cheeks as he made the long walk back out of the gate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Railway Station

It was about 9:30 in the evening that night and I was driving to the railway station to pick up a relative. The evening breeze felt good on my face and the slow gazaals on the radio added to the soothing effect. I parked my car and walked to the information board to find that the train was 30 minutes late. With not enough time to make a round trip back home, I decided to wait at the station itself.

I entered the platform and started to walk the whole length unconsciously humming the song that I heard on the radio a while back. While walking back, I saw a blue silhouette across the railway line. It was a pleasing shade of blue and I couldn’t help stealing a glance once a while. A fast local rushed thru the tracks between us not stopping at the platform and after the train passed by, I squinted again towards the place I saw the outline, but couldn’t see her.

My eyes went there a couple of times again but in vain and as she was starting to disappear from my mind, I heard a pleasant voice from behind me.

‘Excuse me’, I turned around to see an elegant woman in blue standing there.

‘Is she the same woman?’ I thought.

‘Ahem Ahem’, she cleared her throat conscious of the way I was looking at her.

‘Yes?’ I asked coming out of the trance. I felt my expressions deceiving me and revealing everything I was thinking at the moment.

‘May I stand with you for a moment; there are some guys over there that are troubling me. I’ll leave as soon as they go away. I hope you won’t mind.’

‘Not at all’, I said, hoping that the guys troubling her should never leave.

She just stood besides me but said nothing more. She just stared down the platform across the tracks. There was a cool breeze blowing and her flowing brown hairs were casting a spell on me. All I could do was stand there and admire her. Everything about her seemed to be perfect and I was wondering what she was doing here alone in the night.

‘Hi, I’m Saahil.’ I said trying to strike a conversation.

‘I’m Sonal.’ She replied not really interested in keeping the conversation going.

Maybe she’s scared of me too, I thought. I didn’t try to converse any further, but just stood at a distance stealing stares once a while. She wasn’t carrying any luggage and I wondered if she’d come here to pick someone up.

‘Waiting for someone?', I asked again, thinking I might miss the chance.

‘Yes’ she replied but didn’t elaborate.

What does she want? She seemed to behave in a very strange manner; I really couldn’t understand what was going thru her mind. Maybe she just wanted to feel safe and I was the only decent guy around(or so I thought).

Just as I was getting ready for the 3rd and final try to talk to her, she turned to me and after a moment gave me a smile. ‘Damn, this girl is going to get me crazy in no time.’ I thought. I opened my mouth to say something and I heard the voice.

‘Hi honey, where have you been? I’ve been searching for you all around.’

I couldn’t believe my ears, did I say that? But I saw her smile widen and thought maybe it’s a dream. I saw a man pass me from behind. He walked all the way to her and held her hand.

‘Lets go’, he said. ‘Its high time you get a mobile now.’ She just smiled back at him.

‘Thanks.’, she said turning back to me and just started to walk towards the exit. All I could manage was a smile as I saw her all the way to the exit, hoping against hope that she would turn back and give me one last glance.

‘ ....... is coming on platform number 1.’ blurted the platform speakers, jolting me back from the trance. The announcement was repeated, and it was the train I was waiting for. I glanced back again towards the exit wondering if it was my mind that was playing games or was she actually there.

And then I knew....

The Unknown Caller

He saw her ending a call on her mobile as he walked thru the door. They were not sharing a harmonious relationship lately and both were disturbed with the turmoil in their life. ‘Who was it?’ He asked seeing the anxiety on her face when she saw him. She didn’t reply, instead she just walked past him to close the door. He didn’t have a good day at work and her strange behavior didn’t help the cause. ‘Who was it?’ he asked again and all he got was a ‘Don’t ask me again’ stare. As irritated as he was, he just walked to the bathroom and banged the door back on her face.

When he came out of the bath, he didn’t see her around. As he was gettingdressed, he saw her mobile lying on the bed. He picked it up to check the last call; it was a landline number, 2227001. He memorized it and walked out of the bedroom door determined to know who the caller was. He saw her calmly working in the kitchen. ‘It’s not going to work this ways.’ he said. She didn’t reply but felt exasperated.

‘So what do you want to do?’ she asked.

‘Why don’t you just reply to what I am asking, is it such a difficult question or are you trying to hide something from me’

‘Do I have to tell you everything I do?’

‘Yes, because we are into a relation and I expect that I should be aware of certain things that are happening around.’

‘Oh Ya, right.’

And with that she went back to her work. ‘I’m going out and will be late’, he said ‘and don’t call me up, I wont pick up your call, just leave me alone for the night.’ And he walked out of the house. She didn’t try to stop him.

‘Excuse me’, he heard a man saying as he was walking out of the gate. The man was carrying a big bouquet. ‘Is this house number 150, Roshan Layout.’ the man asked. When he answered affirmative, the man handed over the bouquet to him.

The card read, ‘Happy Anniversary Sweetheart’ and there was a phone number of the shop at the bottom of the card. He read the number twice. The number on the card was 2227001.

Friday, December 18, 2009


An Art gallery and studio hosted an exhibition of rare photographs of a very renowned photographer who had recently died. The photographer was amongst the first ones in town to possess a camera, a rarity in his times. The gallery owner thought it was a good time to cash on the sympathy value of the artist’s demise.

The response to the exhibition was pretty good and there were several walk-in’s, ‘It’s going to be a good day’, the owner thought. By the end of the day he had sold two or three of the good ones for an average price. In the evening as he was getting ready to close down for the day an old man came in. As the old man walked around the gallery the owner understood that he’s not among the ones who could shell out money for these photographs. He walked up to the man after 10 minutes.

‘May I help you sir?’

‘No, actually I was just looking around. I was waiting for my wife who’s gone to the neighboring shop to buy some clothes. I hope you don’t mind.’

‘Its ok, it’s just that I would be closing in another 15 minutes.’

‘I hope you don’t mind me looking around until then.’

‘Not a problem sir, be at ease.’

After 5 minutes, the old man came to the front desk. His eyes were moist, he said in a wavy voice, ‘I want to buy a photograph; the code given below it is CA145G and the year is 1966.’ The owner took out the rate chart and checked the code. ‘This photograph would cost you RS. 1500.’

The old man checked his pockets and could only find 200. ‘Could you give me 5 minutes? I’ll just be back.’ The old man sounded desperate.

‘Ok, but don’t be late’, said the owner, feeling lucky to strike a deal on the first quote.

The old man rushed out of the gallery. After a couple of minutes he saw the old man coming inside with his wife. His wife was in tears and was counting money taken out from a small purse.

The old man approached the owner and said, ‘I just have 1200 right now, is it ok if I give you the remaining early in the morning tomorrow?’

‘I’m sorry Sir, We don’t entertain credit, and it would be a policy issue.’ said the owner wondering why is the old man so desperate to buy the photograph.

‘You can keep my gold ring; I’ll collect it back tomorrow when I pay the whole amount.’

The shop owner was taken aback. ‘Could I ask you something sir? Why are you so desperate to buy that photograph?’

‘It’s my son’s photograph. I lost him the same year this man took his photo.’

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Call Center Blues ...

I got this in an email a few days back and thought I'd share it here. Gets me wondering, can people really be this stupid?

A call center recorded this conversation on their floor, and guess what, the guy lost his job.

Operator: 'Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?'

Caller: 'Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect. '

Operator: 'What sort of trouble??'

Caller: 'Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words
went away.'

Operator: 'Went away?'

Caller: 'They disappeared'

Operator: 'Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?'

Caller: 'Nothing.'

Operator: 'Nothing??'

Caller: 'It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type.'

Operator: 'Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?'

Caller: 'How do I tell?'

Operator: 'Can you see the 'C: prompt' on the screen?'

Caller: 'What's a sea-prompt?'

Operator: 'Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?'

Caller: 'There isn't any cursor; I told you, it won't accept anything I

Operator: 'Does your monitor have a power indicator??'

Caller: 'What's a monitor?'

Operator: 'It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV.
Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?'

Caller: 'I don't know.'

Operator: 'Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where
the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??'

Caller: 'Yes, I think so.'

Operator: 'Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's
plugged into the wall.

Caller: 'Yes, it is.'

Operator: 'When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that
there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just
one? '

Caller: 'No.'

Operator: 'Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and
find the other cable.'

Caller: 'Okay, here it is.'

Operator: 'Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into
the back of your computer..'

Caller: 'I can't reach.'

Operator: 'OK. Well, can you see if it is?'

Caller: 'No..'

Operator: 'Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean
way over?'

Caller: 'Well, it's not because I don't have the right angle -- it's
because it's dark.'

Operator: 'Dark?'

Caller: 'Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is
coming in from the window.'

Operator: 'Well, turn on the office light then.'

Caller: 'I can't.'

Operator: 'No? Why not?'

Caller: 'Because there's a power failure.'

Operator: 'A power ...... A power failure? Aha. Okay, we've got it
licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff
that your computer came in?'

Caller: 'Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.'

Operator: 'Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it
up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to
the store you bought it from.'

Caller: 'Really? Is it that bad?'

Operator: 'Yes, I'm afraid it is.'

Caller: 'Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?'

Operator: 'Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer!'

Monday, December 7, 2009


A couple of days back I was in Delhi. I was just there for a day, well not even a day. I reached there at about 7 in the morning and had to leave at about 9 in the evening the same day. In these few hours, I was able to see a lot of sides of Delhi.
As we got down from the railway station we started searching for Ginger hotels which is the near the railway station. Upon arrival we were greeted by a very frustrated and arrogant front office manager who told us that the hotel was full till the month end and that he could not accommodate or help us in any way. This was my first impression of delhi, arrogant and rude to the core. We walked out saying a ‘thank you’ with a smile thinking that a bit of ‘Munnabhai’ stuff would atleast embarrass him and he would not repeat it with the future clients. We started the long walk across the station again to go to the pahadganj side of the station where we could find some economical hotels to freshen up for the day.

The hotel we settled for was walking distance from the station and we changed into formals (shirt and trouser) for the seminar and expo at Hotel Ashoka, Chanakyapuri. The roads to this place were all very clean, we passed Janpath and we really had a good feeling when we saw 10 Janpath, the residence of the most powerful lady of India. The journey was good and we arrived at Hotel Ashoka. It was a five star hotel. The atmosphere was very good, plush interiors, well dressed delegates and an aura of vitality all around us. The people were very well behaved and dressed to the tip of the toe. I was feeling out of place with my formal shirt and trousers. We attended a couple of sessions of the conference and moved to the expo area. I was again confronted with impeccable english, lovely faces and dazzling smiles. This was my second impression of delhi, smart and educated, lovely to look at and always glad to welcome you around.

After we left the expo we still had time at hand so we thought we’d go to Pragati Maidan to see the International Trade fair. Upon arrival we were informed that the ticket counter was closed for the day (the counter closes at 2p.m. for the last two days of the exhibition). The place resembled a beehive and there was complete chaos. The entry tickets were being sold in ‘black’ at a price that was 5 times the normal price (some cops were also doing the same). There were groups of boys’ eve-teasing girls passing by; couples as young as 15 years could be seen walking hand in hand, girls dressed provocatively, and there was a cacophony of several cheap roadside music instruments. We tried in vain for an hour to get the tickets but everyone we came across told us ‘We just finished selling the last few that were left’. After an hour we thought its better to proceed to the hotel and rest for a while as we had a train to catch in about 3 hour’s time and decided that we’d go there by the metro. The cop standing nearby told us that the metro station was ‘walking distance’ from the gate number 11 and after walking for 45 mins with the motivation of the several passersby who told us ‘bas thoda hi aage hai’ we finally reached the metro which was about 2 kms away. This was my third impression of delhi, chaotic, corrupt, overgrown for its age, confused and unwilling to help.

As we reached the hotel, my friend’s father told him that the hotel owner was a distant relative. After reaching the hotel, my friend had a talk with the owner for about 20 mins, he recognized him and asked him how his parents are and told him their family history and how they were related and stuff. Finally, when it was time to check out we received the bill expecting a discount at the bottom but it was no-where to be seen. We paid quietly and left without a word more. This was my fourth and last experience of delhi, selfish and self centered.

What’s a city without its people, a jungle of metal and bricks. We never notice it when we are in our own surroundings but people play an integral part in making any city what it is today. As the infrastructure and the other amenities change, so do the people. It is a very slow process so we fail to notice the change, a change that comes in our behavior too, and after we take into account all these factors we conclude if the place can be classified as rural or urban. And in delhi, that day, I saw it all, a town, a city and a metro and seeing it all at the same place was a great experience.


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