Episode 1: Three men on a trip (And to say nothing of Samaadhi)

It has been more than a month since the end of the trip and in spite of having nothing to do, I have successfully managed to procrastinate writing an account on the trip to Rajasthan and a few places beyond.  As I will never be able to finish this post in one sitting I have decided to release it in form of episodes.

Here is my account of Day 0.

Principal Characters:  Me , Gel aka Sadie, Kothari, and of course Sweetie Patutie aka Pattu/Patwa

Guest Characters:  Nikhil, Pallavi, Kedawat, Arpit and Nupur

Day 0 – Ahmedabad

10:30PM

After packing my bags within 20 minutes, I gave a call to Kothari, who assured me that he will be at the back gate within 5 minutes.  Of course, it was Kothari’s definition of 5 minutes.  After, what looked like an unreasonably long time, Gel and Kothari straddled without a care in the world.  We got into the auto and I whipped out my camera, only to be met with groans of exasperation from Gel, who started calling me “Chom”.  I think Gel’s vocal cord more or less got stuck at that word, reminding us of an old gramophone record which refuses to move unless prodded.  Here is how a typical conversation with Gel goes –

A:  Dude, can you pass me the water bottle?

G:  S***w you da, chom b****rd, what chomness is this?  Take it yourself, you chom.

A:  Dei, it is right next to you.

G: So?  Don’t be chom about it bey.  Come here and take.

A:  Dude, I have fractured my leg and can’t move man. [Hypothetical]

G:  Ha!! Who asked you to go in that chom vehicle and get into an accident with that chom guy.  You deserve this, you chom b****rd.

A:  Fine.

[A gets up and limps to take the bottle]

G:  [Under his breath]  Chom b****rd.

I am quite sure, Gel’s reaction on seeing this post will be – “Thu..So much chomness in the post.

Patutie, Pallavi and Nikhil were already at the bus stand, waiting for us.  After the customary chiding of Patwa for his long feminine eyelashes, we got into the bus, which seemed as if it was designed to look more like a drug den than a bus to sleep in.  After a while, I gave up trying to take photos in the moving bus with my newly acquired, scarcely used camera as I felt others were trying their best to conceal the urge to punch my face.  Ruing at the ungrateful world around me, I lied down to sleep only for the bus to jump a couple of feet as the driver channeled the spirit of Senna and seemed determined to crash his way to another world.  I was just about to doze off only to be rudely interrupted by Gel’s snoring.  Deeming that I was not going to sleep anytime soon, I started going through old Whatsapp messages only for the phone to run out of battery.  Sighing, I closed my eyes and tried my best to sleep.

Play it, Sam. Play as time goes by.

And whoosh.  Two years have flown past.  Apart from a bachelors and a masters degree, I now hold a diploma in management too.  I spent the two years  –  watching TV series and reading books (of course, apart from other useless things like halfheartedly reading cases, making reports etc).

Now after a well-deserved three months break, I will be moving to Hong Kong to take up my first full time job.  As Galileo once said, “Eppur si Muove”.*

*As with all the esoteric foreign phrases that I know or quote, I owe the knowledge of this to West Wing.😛

The magical wonderland of Railways

The most efficient way to experience India, if time happens to be a scarce resource is to hop on to a train, those which take three days to go from the source to the destination. A microcosm of the entire nation is duly represented in those 20 odd coaches. I am not talking about those AC coaches, which I believe are used only by snobs, but the more proletarian sleeper class. You see families, mother trying to control their kids, teenagers acting as if they do not give a damn, single travellers who mainly try to stay out of the way, bunch of college kids generating noise enough to derail the train, old people annoyed by the constant shrieks and whinnies of the aforementioned college students, hawkers trying to sell their wares and the mandatory “Pardesi, pardesi, jaana nahi” croon by beggars trying to make a living. All in a couple of days. It is an interesting experiment which a train puts people through every day. The initial suspicion of your fellow passengers, followed by the awkward and stuttered conversation and by the end of the journey, more often than not, you would have told your entire life story, your fears, joys and sorrows, while listening with interest-feigned or otherwise of their story. I believe many life changing decisions can be made when you talk to strangers, who hold an impartial view of what you are and what you do in life. I yearn for those days – when life was slower and flights were out of reach monetarily and the only way to travel were these trains.

My father worked in a bank and that meant only one thing-Transfers. I have had more than a fair share of travelling by trains with huge suitcases carrying our clothes and other worldly belongings. I was a slow kid – I started talking around four and since then I have never stopped. My dad used to joke that for four years, they were trying to make me talk. Since then they have been trying their best to make me stop, albeit unsuccessfully, of course. Once I was travelling with my mother and uncle to Bombay from Bangalore. Bothered by my incessant questioning about every train which used to pass us by and mainly to shut me up, my uncle bought me a railway timetable. Ever since then, I loved trains. Or rather loved railway timetables. Almost every afternoon after returning from school, I spent hours pouring over the book, imagining myself as a tour guide planning a trip for imaginary foreigners, while my mother was busy with her afternoon siesta. For a year or two, my aim in life was to become a guide. Places like Sawai Madhopur, Jalpaiguri, Guntakal – places which no 5th standard kid should know were at the tip of my tongue for they were major junctions. Some places like Kharagpur known for its long platform, Bhawani Mandal – a station half of which is in Rajasthan, half in Madhya Pradesh became some of the important tourist destinations in my mind. My house in Ahmedabad as well as in this small village near Hospet called Hulgi used to overlook the railway track. Countless afternoons were spent with me counting the number of bogies on the goods train. During Kargil war, it was the number of jeeps on the train meant for transportation to the front. There ought to exist some special relation between me and the train. For gods sake, come to think of it, the house I currently live in, in Bangalore is right next to a railway track.

Thanks to the tyranny of the likes of DDLJ, Jab We Met, Saathiya and hordes of other movies which I grew up watching, the notion that it is mandatory to meet some one interesting on a journey is ingrained in my sub-conscious brain. Everytime I take a train from Bangalore to Chennai or vice-versa, I get into the train expecting that I will meet “interesting people” and get aquainted with them and well, you know…Everytime I take a train from Bangalore to Chennai or vice-versa, my seat is always next to an old couple travelling with their grandchildren. Usually it is a 8 year old kid. I generally like kids, but I loathe kids of this particular age. I sometimes wish that kids of this generation weren’t introduced to the marvels of modern technology bringing with it the attention deficiency, so that I can just buy them a railway timetable, introducing them to that magical wonderland. Of course, it would also shut them up for sometime at the least.

Now that I am at crossroads over what I should do, I can’t help but wonder how my life would have panned out, if I had been a tour guide.

The perfect e-book reader configuration

One among the innumerable joys of the final year are those long breaks you get when you have finished the work assigned in the project and you are waiting for the review from the professor. The minimum duration of these breaks is 3 days and depending on your luck may extend upto a week. So, that can imply only one thing – read books. I was a fanatical reader before 10th standard, finishing at the least four books in a week. Though, I must confess most of them were Hardy Boys or The Three Investigators series of books. Ah, 10th standard. Read now and your life will be set, they said. Then pre-university. Read for 12th/JEE/AIEEE/CET and your life will be set, they said. The story didn’t change once I got into IIT. In between all these hullaboo I gradually gave up reading books other than my textbooks. All my novels were kept out of sight in some almirah. Thankfully, one of them – Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, escaped the attention of my parents. I used to sneak out the book when alone and read it. Till date it is my favourite book and I think I have read it half a dozen times.

After coming to IIT, in between those innumerable assignments, I could hardly find time to pick up a book. This year though, is different. Over the past few months my reading frequency has picked up and I am back into the groove of finishing a book at an average of one book a week, a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction. To list the books,

  1. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  2. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  3. God of Small Things by Arundathi Roy
  4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  5. The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
  6. India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
  7. Bartemius-Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
  8. A Song of Ice and Fire – Game of thrones by George R.R Martin
  9. A Song of Ice and Fire – A Clash of Kings by George R.R Martin
  10. A Song of Ice and FireA Storm of Swords by George R.R Martin
  11. Dune by Frank Herbert
  12. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  13. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
Right now, I am reading the fourth  book of A Song of Ice and Fire-A Feast of Crows on my laptop and a collection of short stories by P.G Wodehouse from a book.  Finally after much experimenting, I have discovered the ideal e-book reading configuration, thanks to which I have been able to read close to 7.5k pages of A Song of Ice and Fire series.  Calibre E-book Reader along with Artha thesaurus on the side with a black background so that I don’t get too distracted. Super Effective it is.  :-)

The Bachelor Pad Conundrum – Part 2

Mom is coming to town this Saturday.  :-)

Mom’s reaction:

 

My reaction:

 

Enough said.  :-)