Monday, June 27, 2011

The Delhi Metro.

    About 2 years ago, when I'd first written about the varieties that travel in the metro, I had no idea that people would want to read it even after I had deleted my blog! 2 years has been a long time and the Delhi Metro has reached out to almost every corner of the city and has even touched the neighbouring states. With the ridership increasing every year, the varieties have also increased. There are a few legendary categories that shall always remain.

   1. The PYT. She is always formally dressed, has a figure to kill for, long hair that is always left open in an attempt to show-off the hair colour/straightening on which she spent almost half her salary. She moves and you hear tinkles coming from her bag that makes up for the bling factor that is missing on her clothes. Her phone is tightly held in her hand and it is then that you notice the well manicured okra-shaped fingers. The men who ogle at her at the platform, continue to ogle at her from the neighbouring coach. End of love story.

2. The lost lamb. The innocent first timer who makes the biggest mistake of his life by getting into the ladies' coach. The women around him greet him with cold stares, muttering to each other about the crime that he just committed. None of them however, will tell him to move to the other coach until a kind college-goer alerts him about his mistake. He picks up his luggage and obediently makes his way to the crowded coach.

3. The Sleeping Beauties. The early morning office goer. The moment he grabs a seat, he falls fast asleep, by choice of course. Nothing, mind you, nothing will make him budge. He sleeps peacefully through the entire journey, opening his eyes only when he is kissed by prince Rajiv Chowk. He comes to life and runs downstairs to repeat the same.

4. The pole -dancers. The under 6-year-old who catches hold of the pole as if it were a magnet. While the mother keeps calling out to them, they suddenly find a sense of belonging to this pole that doesn't match the pleasure of sitting on the mother's lap. They go round and round and round and... until you start feeling nauseated at the number of chakkars that they've taken.

5. The gigglee-puff. A bunch of 5-6(or more) girls who giggle among themselves, almost ignorant of the fact that the women behind them are staring at them with knotted brows. They're usually bitching about another girl-friend and enjoying the gossip.

6. The missed-it! They miss the announcements that ask them to get down at a particular station because the train won't go all the way to Vishwavidyalaya or Gurgaon or wherever. The next station, they're enquiring haplessly about where to go. They miss the train by millimetres, they miss the station where they had to get down!

7. The shade-y ones. Okay, so you've bought new, expensive shades. You're probably the first one in your family to buy them. DON'T flaunt them inside the metro because thankfully, there is no sun or dust flying in there. Keeping them aside for a while won't harm you because they're not running away!

8. The duds. They have it all. Branded footwear-addidas/adidos/reebob/nice/looto. They have jeans in the shades of yellow/orange/embroidered blue ones. The have fake Ed Hardy shirts. They have SRK's COOL chains and they have coloured hair that is either spiked or cropped. Style it up. Travel in the metro. Life's good.

9. The DU crowd. They can wear whatever they want, however they want to. You won't question their style, you will only admire them because they're on the yellow line. I-pods plugged to their ears, a book  in the hand, a set of spiral bound notes, unimaginable colours. Yes, they're going to north campus.

10. The gender divide. They are a couple. The lady decides to enter the metro from the ladies' compartment. The man enters from the next door, they end up meeting at that bridge that divided the ladies' coach from the rest of the train. They have eyes only for each other. I wonder how things would be any different if they'd entered in the metro from the same door!

11. The angry-young man/angry-young-woman. They can pick up a fight at the drop of a hat. She screams that he misbehaved. He defends himself saying that he'd misbehave with a younger woman instead of her. An argument ensues, the others in the coach smirk at the free entertainment. A few quiet ones intervene and things are settled.

12. The opportunity grabber. They spot an empty seat and rush to grab it, almost ninja-like. Somebody gets up and they hurriedly move towards it like a raging tornado, only to realise that the other person got up to dust himself/herself. They see space next to the door, they rush towards it bumping into 2 others who were trying to do the same! :P

There are a few more, but they don't qualify as a category. :P

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Great Grumbling I : Chemistry/ Zero Chemistry

          Today as I sit idle in this house, almost being treated as a piece of furniture, I wonder why life has come to this? My memory goes spiralling down memory lane, falling with a thud, coming to a halt in the year 2002. The year marked the debut of the first red underline on my report card. When I moved my finger across the column, I read CHEMISTRY, in bold. The hatred for the subject dates back to 2002.
          The year 2003-04 was the crucial year. I was appearing for the first Board exam. Class 10. When I saw the previous year's result on the notice board, I found a 90+ figure against every name on that list. HOW on Earth did they manage to do that? I moved away from that board like a dejected loser, knowing that next year my name won't figure among the ones with a 90+ against their name. Back home, bickering about how I would end up being an average arts student was a routine. I would breathe easily under the bickering because that is what I always wanted to be, an arts student. The Prelim Results only strengthened my case futher. Science took the last position on the report card. Chemistry being the last! The Final Result however was a complete mirror image of the Prelim Result. Math ended up in 90+ followed by science. That day marked the beginning of the downfall of yours truly as a student.
          Forced into taking up Science, the grades fell like dominos. Occasionally the result was celebrated if the score crossed 50. Chemistry was one class that was missed at regular intervals, the School Magazine had to be compiled. Naturally, at the end of the year, people would want to see the Magazine and not my score in Chemistry! That was one wise argument that I respect till date. However with the end of school coming close, I had the following points in mind:
1. Take all the engineering and medical entrances,
2. Do not clear them
3. Take up English Literature
4. Write and become famous.
    The first two points were successfully followed. With the cut-offs being declared in DU, I managed to clear the cut-offs for the Science Courses. Father did not let me write the entrance for English. What was worse was, that father had conveniently ticked against Chemistry as the preferred course! My heart fell to unsounding depths. I picked it up and walked to the registration desk hoping that they would close admissions as I handed my form over to them. They took it from me gladly. Somewhere above my head, a balloon burst. It said "Author-Shruti Vajpayee". The magnitude of the sound of the balloon burst drowned the voice of the lady across the table. She asked me to submit the fees in the Office.
    As I reached out to the lady in the Office with my fees, the author within me did a DDLJ-SRK-Climax scene. He took the train with his hand reaching out to me. Only this time, Amrish Puri did not allow his daughter to run after that dream. Yes, my father does resemble Amrish Puri sometimes.
    I felt like's widow who was being asked to sacrifice her life by jumping into the fire. The burns that I sustained during the first year of college are still fresh. The remaining years were a series of ups and downs. Finally, Chemistry came to an end. I did not get through the management entrances either. I was being victimised by Chemistry. Suddenly Chemistry was acting like this jilted lover that wouldn't let me go anywhere else. To my horror, I ended up doing my Masters in the same.
    By now, I hated Chemistry sorely. Every time I held the question paper in my hand, it seemed like somebody had waved the Red Flag. War had been declared. It was me against the Teacher. The paper was built on a simple pattern, you don't attend my class, I give you questions that are clearly out of the syllabus. By the end of the exam you would end up crumpled to death by the enemy's horses and elephants. Sadly, this is what Chemistry gave me a investing 5 decisive years into it. I felt like the lover who had been wronged.
    For all those years that I juggled effectively with the glass apparatus like a Ninja, for all those sleepless nights that I spent manipulating graphs, almost turning cross-eyed, for all the pages I wasted memorising reactions! This is what Chemistry asks me to do to secure my future, take the NET, National Eligibility Test. This is like being in a Swayamwar, where you are pitted against the other contestants, all trying to woo the host! The lucky one wins! What about the unlucky ones like myself? Are we expected to roam about the streets singing melancholic songs that speak of "bewafai"?
    The amount of hatred that I have for the subject makes me want to write about our strange relationship, probably into a book. A relationship with ZERO CHEMISTRY! And I will make sure it beats the Romeo-Juliet and the likes with the Romantic Tragedy that it has turned out to be!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colour me red!

Colour me Red with an HP Laserjet B) !!

          The number of things that had turned colourful from black-and-white, over the years were countless. As a child I wanted to know why the shows on TV showed people wearing black-white-grey shades. A little later when we saw the colour TV, I realised that the smaller TV needed replacement because it was time we added some colour to our lives! There were so many times we would relish on ice-creams. I was only given the vanilla flavour. It made me think why my ice-cream was always white. A few years later, when I had the freedom to carry 10 Rs. to school, I discovered the variety of colours in ice-cream that my parents had kept me away from! From then, till date, it has been a sixteen year old affair between me and the chocolate flavour.
         As some more time passed, I wanted to know why the chess-board was always black and white. To that my father answered, some games are meant to be like that. "You cannot change that," he laughed. Okay, I couldn't! Being true Indians, my brother and father wouldn't miss a single cricket match on TV. Even when it was as boring and endless as Test Cricket! The boring white test-cricket uniforms would always put me off and then ODIs made a grand entry into the world of cricket. I knew who came from which country when I saw them don their nation's colours on the field. Today the colours overflow with the onset of the IPL. As I grew older, I took to art classes. And I swear, I wouldn't leave any page without sketch pen marks on it. I would anxiously wait to scribble over all the pages with my sketch pens. Not one blank sheet in the entire file-- that was what I called achievement.
        Another few years down the line, I made it to high school. It was then that I realised that colour was one issue that would divide people! Apartheid. People in the West, differentiated between the Blacks and the Whites! There were also the Browns. Why couldn't they see beyond the colour of someone's skin? I agree we would also differentiate people on the basis of their cast or creed, but with the mushrooming of schools and colleges, education was given more importance. At least the city-bred had shed the obsolete rules of division of people on the basis of their caste.
        Indians, and Asians on the whole, continue to move West-ward for higher education. News of our students being ill-treated and murdered abroad makes me think why the Whites couldn't educate themselves on how to treat people equally! Was treating them on the basis of colour the only way to show their one-up-manship? A friend once said, "the Whites turn red in the sun, green out of envy, blue when they're cold, and ironically, they call us coloured!" It is the hearts that are still either black or white. If only they could add more colour to their hearts and lives!
         Advertisements have made everything full of colour. When I look around today, I see everything is available in colour. Recently I saw the traditional white toothpaste available in strawberry and chocolate flavours! The Pandas eat Gems and become colourful. The hair-oil ads that once showed long, black, shiny hair have given way to the hair-colour ads! Yes, even your black hair can now turn blue, green and pink! Living in this age, looking at everything that has been happening, from killing our students abroad, to a complete state of war between political parties where if one says Black the other says White, I only wish for a change of heart among our people. A little more compassion, a little more colour in our hearts .. it wont hurt anybody!
        As the great Michael Jackson had rightly said, "You can be my baby, it don't matter if you're black or white!"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to write a letter.(?)

        There were 10 thousand things I wanted to fit into that little blue letter. I wanted to know how she was. I wanted to know what she had been upto all this while. I wanted to show her how my hand writing had changed from the last time I wrote to her. I wanted to know when she would come and see me next! There was just so much to write and such little space. I'd wonder why they didn't have bigger inland letters!
        That would happen when I was in school-- when I had all the time in the world to write to my cousin who stayed in another town. We'd wait for those letters and die to respond to them as soon as possible. Then came the internet. E-mailing. It was quite a task in the beginning to look for apostrophes and then upper case and lower case. The easier way to write was the SMS lingo. "hw r u. hp ure doin wel.." Saved a lot of time indeed! Soon we had our own mobile phones. And then free messages. The communication was not about how we were etc., but about how many forwarded messages we sent each other. Communication happened over chat on facebook or gmail.
        Now we know exactly what we're doing, all the time. She goes for lunch, I go for lunch. 30 minutes later, we see each other online again. By the end of about 15 minutes, there is nothing left to talk about. Both of us go "idle". End of story. Repeat the same steps the next day. Some day when she isn't online, I don't even bother. There is nothing to talk about anyway!
        Then one day, I thought of writing to her. A letter. On a piece of paper with a pen in my hand. So I wrote the date, and i didn't know what should come next. I knew she was doing fine. I knew how the weather at her place was (.. there went a major part of our conversation. Sigh!) I knew the family was well. I knew when she was coming over to see me. Oh, then maybe I could write to her about everything that I wanted from her place! Wouldn't it end up being a very selfish letter then? Just writing about what I wanted, not enquiring about her at all? A few minutes of writing-a-line-and-then-striking-it-off-with-a-pen later, I went online, pinged her on facebook and asked her to get everything I wanted. Easy.
        The letter? That went into the dustbin, I think. Or maybe it flew away because the fan was running on full speed. Some things are meant to be a thing of the past, or are they?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ghosts on Earth

       Two friends Jeevan and Jeetu were well known for being the laziest bunch ever. On one summer afternoon when there was no electricity at home, Jeevan furiously stormed out of his house to set the electricity department straight. He couldn't sleep and that to him was major disrespect. Laziness got the better of him and he thought of doing something on his own. He climbed the electric pole and moved the wires here and there, got electrocuted and passed away. Jeetu stopped eating after hearing about Jeevan's end. Whether that was out of being lazy or sadness, nobody knows. Gradually he too withered away.
       Both of them met halfway on their way to heaven. They had been caught! Their location was somewhere above mesosphere. They read banners that said-Paranormal-osphere. Itching their heads, they tried to figure out what this was all about. A man in white appeared from nowhere. He was dressed in a white suit that looked very crisp. He introduced himself as the Head of the Ghosts' Committee. He was an MBA who wasn't treated well at work (had been kicked out of his job during recession.) Hence he formed the organisation here. He had very promising business plans on his stay on the Earth, but nobody paid heed to them. Here, however, he was the mightiest. All ghosts would report to him. He would check on them and promote them on the basis of the number of ghosts they brought to him everyday.
       After their death the two friends were re-christened G1 and G2. To survive here, they had to get in more ghosts. How? They were only given instructions once. For about three days they would just float over the atmosphere with their chins resting on their hands. When the Head got to know of this, he summoned them and gave them a 3 day notice. If they were unsuccessful this time, they would be sent to Hell where the Satan would take care of them. Out of fear, G1 and G2 set out to bring in more ghosts.
       Night 1: The two friends flew down to the highway, hoping to find a speeding truck or cars. A deadly collision would get them more ghosts. For about 2 hours when they saw no vehicles, they flew a few kilometres ahead to see that an elephant had angrily blocked the entire road. Disappointed, they reached Paranormal-osphere. They started chalking out their plan for the next day.
      Night 2: They reached a happening pub. They thought they would easily take away a few people sniffing drugs or maybe a few people who were high on drinks. They couldn't find the entrance. When they managed to find one, they ended up in the ladies' restroom. They could see three women desperately reaching out for their bags. What they saw in the mirror scared them no end! They saw three atrocious looking women covering themselves with layers of make-up. The ghosts, in a state of deep shock, ran out of the pub, straight to where they now belonged.
    The next day was the last day. They had to bring in more ghosts.
     Night 3: The dejected looking ghosts set out for their last effort. Flying over New Delhi, they saw a huge arrangement. It didn't look like a marriage pandal. When they came closer, they saw a huge gathering. There were people who were fast asleep. There was a stage where a few sadhus were sitting. They couldn't understand what this was all about. Suddenly they heard a few jeeps come to a screeching halt. Hundreds of footsteps came running towards them. In no time there were tear gas shells being hurled at people. Some were even lathi-charged. G1 and G2 froze in their places. They didn't know whether to move or stay. Whether to run or hide! If they ran, they'd be sent to Hell. If they stayed, it wouldn't serve any purpose either, they were ghosts, they could only take people away. They read a few banners and understood that this was a peace protest against corruption. Only that it wasn't peaceful anymore. They could do nothing to save these innocent lives. Helplessly, with long faces, they left to meet their Head.
       They flew directly to His Office. He was still dresses in that crisp white suit. G1 and G2 looked at him in shame and started weeping. The Head asked for an explanation.
They told him how they had witnessed innocent people retaliating against corrupt netas being treated brutally by police-men. How they could do nothing to save them. How they felt Satan's Hell would have similar treatment of their subjects like on Earth. They were ready to face the worst. They were prepared to pack their bags and be thrown in Hell.
     When the Head heard them speak like that, he realised that these two were two weak people who had turned out to be weaker ghosts. He knew they wouldn't be able to survive Hell, neither were they fit for Earth. They couldn't bear a peace-protest! How would they ever be able to deal with fuel-hikes, scams like 2G, politicians who were selling their own country! He quickly scribbled  a note on his note-pad and sent the two of them away from Paranormal-osphere to Heaven. In the note he wrote that these two should be allowed to attain Moksha and R.I.P. This part of the world was not for them!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding Y.

    Coupools! No, that is how a professor in college would pronounce it. Coupools were the main reason why we would flock the nearest coffee outlet. Not the coffee, no. We, however, would always end up in odd numbers, purely because we had no couples in the gang. It felt great to act cheap in a group, observing couples with the corner of the eye and go nudge-nudge, wink-wink with the gang!
   There was one interesting pair that would frequent the place. There wasn’t anything unique about them, just that we managed to find them every time we were there. Let us call them X and Y. X being the girl and Y the boy(.. did that require an explanation?) Anyway, there was nothing unique about the pair. They were the usual pair who would occupy a corner and whisper sweet nothings to each other, holding hands and playing footsie. Y would say something that would make X blush and smile coyly and then she would notice the eyeballs that they were grabbing. She’d do her best to shrug off all the attention.
    Then came the day everything changed. The mood was different. X was weeping bitterly while Y was trying to offer an explanation in a very reassuring tone. Day two, X was still weeping. Y also looked glum. Day three, X was quiet while Y wept like a child. For the days that followed, there was no trace of them.
     Gradually, there was other stuff that grabbed our interest, and they were forgotten. Surprisingly, one day, a couple of months later, we found a very familiar looking person. It was X! and she looked like she was married owing to her loud make-up and heavy jewellery. The man she was walking hand-in hand with wasn’t Y, he was Z (say)! Oh no, another case where the woman turned out to be the bitch! There was a surge of sympathy that arose for Y. Poor Y!
     Y had to be found! What must he haven been through in these 2 months?! He must have become a majnoo by now! There was no way we could remember his face because we always saw him sideways from the corner of the eye! He must be nursing the heart-ache that X had to be thanked for! Maybe he kept a beard now. Maybe he had stopped moving out of his house out of depression. Maybe he had resorted to alcohol. Maybe he had fled home. Maybe the girl’s family had beaten him up and thrown him away somewhere. Maybe he had committed suicide!!
     No, we made no efforts to look for him. Who had the time?! The only place we could find him was deep down the memory lane. Every time X would end up being cursed. Soon Y was also a distant memory. There was a huge party thrown at the best club in the city. In the middle of freely flowing booze and loud music was seen this young man dancing the night away. It didn’t take us much time to recollect who he was. He was Y! He looked like he was having the time of his life.
     It was quite a set-back. And now he was dancing very closely with another woman (say W). Our eyes were fixed on him. Some time later he excused himself for a drink at the counter. Now was the best opportunity to talk to him. We explained how we had seen him with X ever so often and everything that we had thought he must have been through. He laughed. “What do you do when you lose a pen? Fret over it, try to look for it and when you cannot find it, you go ahead and buy a new one!” Okay, that was something to ponder upon. Very soon he was seen making his way back into the crowd again. He turned back and in a low voice asked us not to discuss this any further or he might end up losing W!
     Y had been found. What we had also found was that we CAN move on. Happily. With no regrets. Why find Y? In the words of the great Ranbir Kapoor-Keep it simple silly :D

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Son Has Risen?

              The only child of very doting parents, our protagonist is the typical only-son of well-read parents. He had been an ace hockey player during his school days going on to play for the state team as well, hence the well-built structure. He had private tutors pouring in all the time, hence the topper of the school. Now he was also supposed to be an amazing singer and photographer and from being a photographer he developed the interest in birds. The love for capturing the wild brought him closer to the birds. For once, this was something he was INTERESTED in and not thrown into.
            Growing up, (in between all of this whenever he found time to grow!) he turned out to be a decent young man brought up with books and tutors for various activities. He  knew a lot and clearly did not have many people who would be interested in listening to his heroic victories at inter-school level and at times even at the state level. As school drew to a close, the lad went to Singapore to become an Engineer. Away from family. Again, there was nothing that set him apart from the typical boring success stories you’ve heard ever so often.
         Cut to Singapore where our man now belongs. The story within a month of his relocation: Couldn’t cook to save his life. Couldn’t communicate except where there were equations to be solved. The grades were awesome. Beyond that, the least said, the better. The parents were happy because they would occasionally be mailed pictures of their supremely-talented son with researchers awarding him huge trophies, him standing across the university gate with the university’s name engraved on the foundation stone. And then 4 years later, it was time to visit home.
       Back home, the scene was very different. He seemed to be the man of the moment. Invitations to parties were common. The Socially awkward protagonist however declined them politely. With cousins, of course, declination wasn’t taken very politely. For once when he obliged, the party ended up being about booze and dance. The phoren-returned was uncomfortable to the extent that he kept shifting in his chair until he almost fell. The highlight of the evening came in the form of the only sensible person of the opposite sex.
           When Mr. Protag laid his gaze upon this divine form he felt for the first time how a normal teenager would have. A few handshakes later, Mr P was supposed to start the conversation. However, Mr P was busy contemplating why he was feeling what he was feeling. To his surprise he was at the receiving end of the questions.
 1 : Interests.
            *thought process before answering the first question* Interests? Where should Mr start from? Writing.. Reading.. SINGING.. uhmm.. Hockey?
           Ans. No.1 : “Bird-watching! No , seriously! Bird-watching! I mean I know The Koel very well.. as in Koel- the bird.. Like seriously!”
           Amidst the various explanations that he had to offer, the expression on the lady’s face said it all. The first word ruined it for him.
          Hockey his next favourite. Considering the fact that the Cricket World Cup was on, and she kept checking the score every now and then, he thought discussing hockey might not impress her much. Sports went out of that window.
          Ans. No. 1 *contd* “I sing.. I mean I’m a sucker for the Actual Size and Stiff Dead Cat.. Err.. they’re rock bands.. I’m sorry .. I mean I’m into that kinda music..”
          Fail. Epic fail. For once, he could have gotten away with Metallica if nothing else.
          Ans. No.1 *contd* I read. Yes. Safe.
              “I read. My interest lies in Science..I could read anything that is remotely scientific. Physics, Chem.. Biology to an extent.. though I could never understand why they had 2-D diagrams all over the books.. I mean 3-D would make it awesome..” That was it. Her eyes said it all. She looked like she would puke. Whether it was because of the drinks or his interests, was unknown!
          She looked sick and disgruntled, like she’d seen a dead rat being run over. Was it because of Mr. P? She almost flew out of the room. While the low-achiever cousin followed the divine form on her way out, Mr froze as he realised how he had blabbered all through. Cousin returned to the room alone and informed Mr that she was too drunk probably. Though, he added, she would never get high on drinks, she was an athlete. Drinks wouldn’t take a toll on her. She could sweat drinks out just like that. “Athlete?” asked Mr. “Yeah. Hockey, man. She was the College Captain of the Hockey Team! Weren’t you guys discussing hockey? I mean that was why I didn’t disturb you two!” Now spoke the cousin.
          Mr P was either hopelessly unlucky this time OR just a social embarrassment that the beaming parents who waited in their latest Sedan didn’t know of.
The parents waved and called out for the apple of their eyes. They were proud to see how he had just witnessed a happening party.. A party that never really happened  for our man.