Monday, July 20, 2009

Things I miss about Mumbai

While I was there at Mumbai, I used to frantically pray everyday that my departure date comes along as quickly as possible. I never ever dreamt that I would actually miss Mumbai. But here are some things that I do miss

1. The freedom which I didn't exploit much. The freedom to get out of the hostel at 1.30am. The freedom to hang around Naturals outside the IIT campus at 11pm.

2. The spick and span kitchen and mess of hostel 11. The tasty food that was available there.

3. The canteen that used be open till 2am.

4. The swimming pool.

5. Jin, Chandu, Jhun and others.

6. Rekha and Aishi-- my two diligent and enthusiastic group mates in the project. Rekha is a marvel!

7. The lakeside

8. BEST buses.

9. The whole day chats with someone without the incessant questioning of people.

10. The sprawling malls.

If I can think of more, I'll update....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Visitor at Night

This is a story written by me in class 9 so please ignore the puerile elements.

It was on a winter night in Goa. Not only was it cold but also raining heavily. I was alone in my little house, locked up in my room, waiting for him to return. It was 11.15 and he still did not come back. I was beginning to be restless, when the doorbell rang and I sprang up from my bed. Who could this be?? It wasn't him for he had the door keys. Then, who could it be??

I slowly walked up to the door and asked, “Who is there?” No one replied. I again asked, “Who is it?” The stranger instead of replying rang the bell once again. I shouted, “Who are you looking for?” I didn't even know whether my visitor was a girl or a boy. This time my 'visitor' banged on the door. I made a vain attempt to look into the eyeglass. But my conscience told me that the intruder had his or hand on the eye hole.

Now for a young girl of 24, alone in an unknown city and that too on a stormy night with a strange visitor at the door is indeed frightening. At this moment the clock struck and I knew it was midnight. I felt my way up to the telephone and pressed, ‘redial’ which had his mobile number stored. The same old voice said, “The mobile phone you are calling is switched off…please dial after sometime.”

Meanwhile my intruder had pressed the doorbell thrice and banged the door twice. Then there was silence for sometime and just after that I heard a sound as if a paper was being pushed in through the gap beneath the door. I picked up the paper that was of no use to me. For the first time in my life I felt my helplessness.

I am blind. When I lost my eyesight at the age of 15 just before my School Leaving Examination, I lost all hope. But my parents helped me a lot and they never for a moment let me realize that I was blind. I gave my examination and passed out with flying colors. I even got chance in an engineering college and came out as an engineer. My studies were only by hearing. Mom and Dad spent sleepless nights, reading out fat books and writing whatever I said. He used to come and visit me everyday with flowers, storybooks, magazines that he himself would sit and read out. Then I got a job as a teacher in Goa and by lord’s grace he too was transferred to Goa. During all this time I have never felt my helplessness for many warm and strong hands always supported me but today………BANG!!!

My thoughts were broken and I realized that my visitor was still standing outside, waiting for me to open. Suddenly the strong feeling of humanity over shadowed me and I didn't know why I opened the door. My visitor was a girl. And my sixth sense told me that she was younger to me. Outside it was raining as if the whole world will be flooded. The girl said a “Thanks” in a very soft voice. I understood that till now she had been replying me but since I was tensed and the wind kept gushing and sweeping, I couldn't hear her.

Many questions came up in my mind and at last I asked her, “What’s your name? Do you know my friend or me? Where do you come from?”

I must have sounded like a teacher for she stammered a little and then said, “My n…name is M…aria. I know none of you personally but the church where you two go to pray on Sundays is near to my house. I have seen you there.”

“Oh! Then where are you coming from in this stormy weather?”

The girl hesitated a bit and said, “I … I …am coming from the…the…hospital. My mother has been admitted in the morning.”

“Then you must be wet. I’ll give you some clothes to change.”

“Why haven’t you switched on any lights?”

I was surprised. She said that she knew me then doesn't she know that I am blind? I tried to play along and said, “Actually, I was sleeping and so I had switched off the lights.”

“Which side is the switch? It’s too dark out here!”

“I’ll switch it on for you. Go to the right and you’ll get some clothes there.” It was our guest room where I sent her.

She went in and I was left to my thoughts again. “Who was she?” my mind kept asking me.

I was left to myself for around ten minutes and then she came. “The dress was exactly of my size. Is it yours?” she said.

I quickly turned and went into the kitchen, pretending not to have seen her and said, “Which one are you wearing?”

“I am wearing the black velvet, long frock.”

“That was my favorite dress when I was in college. It seems you have a good choice of clothes. I think you are a teenager. Are you?”

“Yes. I am in my last teen.”

“What would you like to have tea or coffee? I believe it is very cold outside, isn't it?”

“Yes. It is chilling outside especially with the draught blowing. If it is possible then please get me a cup of coffee.”

She was a warm and cozy person. She reduced my fears and I could feel more comfortable in her presence. She had a good wit. A person who knew how precious life is! One who knows how to enjoy and be merry! She made me laugh like my childhood days. And slowly in her presence I forgot that it was 2.00 in the morning and he was not at home yet. When I was assured that she was of no harm to me, I asked her, “Don’t you know I am blind?”

She was shocked it seemed, for her tone changed and in broken words she said, “I am so sorry to have disturbed you like this. Actually I never knew. Whenever I have seen you at the church you were steady and cheerful like anyone else present there.”

I am sorry I didn't write till now what my friend did…well, he is a doctor. Just at that moment the phone started ringing.

She said, “Will I receive the phone call for you?”

“No, no, I can do that. I am not to that extent an invalid.”

I picked up the receiver. From the other end his voice came in a tired and worn out way. He said, “I am sorry I couldn't inform you. I don’t know when I am going to go home. So you don’t be tensed. An accident has occurred in the hospital and a patient of mine has escaped. She is a dangerous young girl of nineteen with a soft and husky voice. She usually stammers while speaking. So you be careful.”

I didn't know what to say. I turned and then there was a click in the door and I knew that she was gone. I was bewildered and dumbstruck and I didn't know what to tell him. But I have remained silent about that night forever. Neither did I tell him that I did not meet his ‘dangerous’ patient nor did I tell him that his ‘dangerous’ patient had become a friend of mine for one night. But Maria or Della (as she told me) was always there in my memory.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Transportation Blues

First let me tell you about my primary mode of transport here. There is nothing called a rickshaw in this city. Well, not at least like the kind we call "rickshaw" in my city. Here an auto rickshaw is a "rickshaw". On the very first day, I asked one of the local people, "How does one go to the airport from here?" and the reply was "Rickshaw". I had an image of myself going to the airport on a tricycle and Shahrukh Khan driving past me!!! The urbane call it 'ric' and I call it an "auto" which was able to put my city in a state of turmoil for 2 weeks and ruin my mom's birthday plans!! The best part is it's cheap! The autos run on meter and they don't rob you like the rickshaw pullers near my college who charge 30rs for a 2km distance!

I conclude, autos are the best and the most comfortable mode of transport in this city as well as mine. The absence of tricycles isn't a big deal!

Next comes the famous BEST buses. You need to follow certain rules if you plan to travel by one. 

Rule 1: Unlike my city buses, these don't stop or slow down anywhere and everywhere. There are proper bus stands at a distance of every 0.5km and it is only there that it'll let you board.

Rule 2: Always board from the rear door. If you get up from the front one, be ready to get an earful from the conductor or in worst case you might be asked to get down. 

Rule 3: The moment you board, be ready to pay the fare. If the bus is crowded you'll require to pay at the rear exit and keep shoving people to the front. I wonder what happens if I literally listen to the conductor and continuously push my away to the front! I'll probably get down at the same stop I got up from!

Rule 4: Do not expect the courtesy of "Aaste Ladies! Kole Bachcha!" or being pulled onto the bus by the conductor when you are half dangling out of it. Here the conductor will see the crowd getting up and the moment he feels that the bus is full, he'll ring the bell and the driver who has no idea of what's going on at the rear end, will start driving! 

Although, this city has its share of thugs like the one who is using my Moto Rockr, people who travel by buses are more helpful. In a two seater, you'll often find a third person being allowed to rest his butt at the edge. I came across a real decent fellow, who gave me his seat in a bus, where I was standing on one foot! 

I conclude, in my city buses may not follow traffic rules but they are more customer friendly!

The transport that is availed by the majority here, is almost not present in my city: Local Trains! Any part of the city is accessible from another by local trains. They are cheap, runs 24-hours and are always packed. You got to be extra cautious about your wallet if you plan to travel by one. If you are in a hurry and you want to cover 35km in 40minutes then this is your best choice. I personally prefer avoiding them. God knows for what reason I feel very scared whenever I travel by one!

I conclude, metro railways are hands-down better!

Taxis both ac and non-ac ply the city at all hours of the day. I haven't yet travelled by one so I cannot comment about the courtesy of the taxi-drivers or the fares they charge. 

I conclude, I have nothing to conclude.

Finally, if you plan to go to somewhere, you'll find people suggesting you all the means of transport, I mentioned. I had wanted to know from a fellow intern, how should I go to Linking Road from Powai and he said: "You can go to Kanjurmarg station in a 'ric' then get take a train to Dadar. At Dadar, you need to shift to the western rails and take a train to Bandra. From there you can take another 'ric' to Linking Road! Or you can travel by BEST bus no. 422 if you have lot of time at hand. Or you can take a direct cab/'ric' which will be heavily taxing your pocket and time!" Choosing the right one was an art, as there is no right choice baby!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Patient Doldrums

Today someone told me that I am impatient and I get easily bored. Well, the comment didn't exactly please me, so to express my disapproval, I set my Gtalk status message as "Boredom is a condition characterized by perception of one's environment as dull, tedious, and lacking in stimulation....It doesn't characterize a state of not having Patience". I wonder how much patience is related to boredom! Like currently I am bored. I have nothing to do but to please my work group am sitting in the lab. Presence can be Support! So be it! But am I impatient? Then how am I patiently sitting here and watching people do their work while I am typing gibberish words!?

It's true I get bored quite often these days. Put yourself in my place and am sure even you'll get bored. I have practically no concrete project work other than Google-ing (okay...even Bing-ing) for plugins and then installing them in the portal we are building. I am day by day becoming an efficient user of an efficient search engine!

I have taken up a part time job. I teach! People who know me would think that am glad doing it because I have always wanted to teach. Alas! Am teaching people how to swim! I eagerly look forward to this hour of the day. It makes me feel proud to show off my swimming skills especially backstroke. I have got so bored in Mumbai that I have started exercising (something my parents could never make me do regularly), walking after dinner and dieting (this one is a bit difficult as the mess serves "food" and not things that can be passed in the name of food like our great Durgapur mess).

During, the first week in Mumbai, I experienced the highest level of boredom. I had absolutely no work. Not even the work of an efficient user of Google search engine. My roommate (I couldn't get through NUS but I have a Korean roomie!!) stays outside most of the time and when she isn't she stays glued to her laptop. I shouldn't criticise her as she is the only nice person around me who often takes me along when she goes out with her friends. That weekend on Sunday evening, my roomie and her friends went to Gateway of India and Chowpatty. I was also invited but I felt a bit apprehensive going that far (37km) with people I knew for just one week. So I politely refused the offer and instead got exceptionally bored!

I have never lost my patience during this entire episode. Like on that first Sunday, I went to Crossword and patiently read a book for 1hour, after which I patiently went to KFC and devoured Burgers in solitude. Then I came back and patiently waited till 1.30am for Jin to return.

I might get bored easily but my Patience keeps me ticking!