Friday, December 12, 2008

I am...

I am the carefreeness of the wild flower,
The madness of a gypsy defines me,
Like the fragrance of kasturi I can haunt you
Yet unexplainable I remain

I am the intelligence of the sages,
The patience of a mother characterises me,
Like lightening I can strike you,
Yet a mystery I am

They tried to confine me,
Behind shackles of chains,
Tried to silence me,
Amidst explosions of bombs.

Yet, infinite and everlasting
I remain.
In each birth I reincarnate
Life is what I am.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Final Liberation

Published in Outlook, Delhi City Limits, September 22 Issue.

The instances of life and the moments you hold dear pass in front of your eyes as the end nears, they say. With a heavy heart, I say that the end is drawing near for me as well. I have just a few days left to see my world, my Delhi - the city where I have spent 25 years of my life i.e., my entire life, in my way. The days are numbered. I am certain. It is something that I brought upon myself. The move to the higher world is imminent. I am a courageous girl, not scared of the inevitable. In fact I am ready to brave it. So what if the things, which define my existence, like haggling with the autorickshaw drivers, will come to an abrupt end. Big deal, if the bus conductors will not have to welcome me with a smile and offer me their seat when the Blue line bus is overcrowded just because my false smile forces them to. The perks of the transfer to the higher order would mean that the summer heat, humidity of the monsoons and the bone chilling winters would not be able to touch me anymore while travelling from one space to another. Chatting to friends, in audio levels that could burst the eardrums of everyone in the vicinity, in true Dilliwala ishtyle will be something I did before the end came. Well now that I start thinking about it, I will not be able to capture the images of my Delhi on my camera phone anytime I feel like; that might be a bummer. Observing people and their little quirks while travelling in buses and autorickshaws will become a hobby- unknown and buried in the realms of anonymity. My blogs will cease to carry entertaining stories of my wild escapades on the public transport vehicles of Delhi. I will have to attune my brains to new rules of the new world. I will have to unlearn the practices that I have mastered in the last quarter of the century.

Nevertheless, this liberation promises to be exciting, thrilling, and at the same time nerve-racking, and terrifying. I know it in my heart that the best way to live through these last few days is to live to the fullest. Board the most crowded of buses and demand a seat from the Dilli ka ladka, who would give the most bizarre of arguments against vacating the seat. I can also maximise the experience of Delhi, by giving the vaguest of arguments myself, while bargaining with autorickshaw drivers – like, “I will concede to your demand of Rupees 20 extra, only if you fly me across the traffic jam at BRT.” Ah! I’ll do it all and more to make sure that my last days count.

If by now you are sympathising with me for my numbered days, then don’t worry too much! I have bought a new car and in a matter of days, instead of bus tales, I will have stories of Delhi driving for you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Indore- Glimpses Of Dad

In my fourth trip of the year so far, I went to Indore to attend the wedding of my Dad’s cousin brother, Luv Khot. When I met Luv, he asked me in complete bewilderment, “So Priyanka, How come you came so far to attend my wedding even though we never met?” Hmmm, I smiled the question away. Replying, “This is the second time we are meeting. The first time you had completely ignored me.” His expression was enough to tell me that with this answer he had become even more amused at my arrival to the city that was once the seat of the Peshwai.

I was not for even once offended at the question that Luv asked in jest several times over in the next two days. In fact even I had asked myself the question several times during my 18 hours train journey from Delhi to Indore. Significantly enough, the answer was simple. The occasion of Luv’s wedding was just an excuse. My main aim was to travel back in time, meet the family that I had heard about for so long from my late father, but had never met. The experience had to be monumental, I was convinced, as I was to, in form of stories, relive the moments my Dad had once lived in the city with his uncles, all his age-group.

‘In relations uncle, but in age and friendship, almost brothers,’ is how my dad often described them to me. I had this golden opportunity of meeting everyone under one roof in their best festive moods and hopefully nostalgic once they met me. I HAD to attend Luv’s wedding. I had a reason. I did not tell him this then, because I did not want to come across as a bad relative, trying to reduce the importance of the groom on one of the most important day of his life.

I know many might perceive my reason for the visit to be selfish. I would not even say it was not. In fact it was. It was one opportunity that I knew I had to lap up to, maybe only for just three days, see my father living in the twinkle of the eyes of his uncles when they shared stories of the mischief they conspired and executed together with panache. I had to see once again glimpses of my deceased Dad.

To see the characters in blood and flesh, who I had imagined to be only parts of the stories my Dad told me at bed time or during long train/bus journeys. I saw my Dad’s reflection in the polite manner of Brig. Prabhakar Khot, the wicked and immensely intelligent humour of Ravi Khot, the style of humming songs that Sunil Khot adopted and the shot temper yet extremely caring nature and concern that Anil Khot showered. My sincere apologies for writing their names without the respectful address of Aajoba that our relationship demands or uncle that I call them since all of them do not look and are not even old enough to be my grandfathers.

The stories that flowed were amazing. I really wish my Dad was alive so I could fight with him, for being so strict with me when he has done some of the most outrageous tomfoolery in his time. I mean he got kidnapped by an opposition camp for four days, when he stood for college elections. And he would not even permit me to stand in the school elections contending, “Politics is a dirty business.” He developed his strong taste for food in the city. The ear for music had also been sharpened in company of Sunil uncle. He had cycled for 25 kilometres to smoke cigarettes with Anil uncle.

The stories I heard and the love I saw in their eyes for my Dad is what I had gone looking for there. What overwhelmed me the most was the love I received from everyone I met. Being my Dad’s daughter is an address I have not been conferred with in a very long time. The family had adopted me instantly. Sushant, Asha Aaji, Jyoti Aunty, Pushpa Aunty and Suneeta Aunty welcomed me with such warmth that it was with a great effort that I kept my tears down. Not for a moment did I feel like I was meeting them for the first time. I belonged to the wedding. I was a Khot daughter and received all the love that I had longed for from that side of the family.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The First Step

Dear Ms Khot,

My name is John Calderone, and I am the associate editor of Outlook Delhi City Limits, a magazine that focuses on the city and what is happening in it.

We begin each issue with a section called Capital Letters, which are stories about Delhi written by its citizens. We generally let people write whatever they want to say about the city.

I had found your blog, Priyanka's Point, through a link on the Delhi Bloggers Group website, and I enjoyed your work, including the Delhi Photo Diary. So I was wondering if you would be willing to write a Capital Letter for the July issue of Delhi City Limits.

You could write about anything. The only two stipulations are that the letter be about Delhi and that it be about 500 words in length. A style similar to your "Delhi Smells, Mumbai Stinks" blog would be fine.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


John Calderone

Associate Editor

Outlook Delhi City Limits

Of course I jumped at the opportunity. You all would be happy to know that the following article was published in the July 14 issue of Outlook Delhi City Limits.

Considerate Delhiites

By Priyanka Khot

Traditionally Delhiites have never ranked too high when scored on the civic sense parameters. However, I would like to come forth in their defence. During the recent rains in the city I concluded that they are the most considerate of the bunch and found the aphorism “Dilli Dilwalon Ki” absolutely true. The rains helped me see the fellow Delhiites at their benevolent best.

The recent unexpected rains caught me, like most others, unprepared to battle the wrath of thunderstorms on my way to office. The auto-rickshaw driver, an integral part of the hierarchy that defines Delhi, was in a good mood and gracious enough, after a mere 10 minutes of haggling, to charge me only 100 rupees to take me to a distance that would by metre charge just 60 rupees. It was when he finally said "chaliye madam" that I was confident that the good karmas of my last birth were paying off. Once inside the auto-rickshaw I was off to la la land and started planning an Ayurvedic spa treat for myself during the coming weekend. At that moment my heart was filled with gratitude for the auto-rickshaw driver and my mind was busy focusing on the weekend.

My reverie was shattered as a speeding white Honda Civic zoomed adjacent to my royal ride soaking me completely with the loudest splash ever. Initially, I almost felt that I had committed a crime by having a bath before leaving for office and wasting so much of water. After sense prevailed it dawned on me that I should have anticipated the magnanimity of the fast car drivers to give me a mud-bath that would be better than the spa treat I was planning. It turned out to be the one that I would never forget. At the risk of repeating myself - Delhiites are a considerate lot and this particular one did not want me to spend a fortune on mud-packs or similar luxuries. The mud bath that soaked me from the tip of my hair to the toes, boasted of ingredients that no Ayurvedic spa could promise. This oh-so-unique mud-bath included the rain water, a mixture of cement + red sand + silt + animal and human excreta, and roadside liquid donations made by the male species inhabiting the city. The considerate Delhiite decided that when all the raw materials were abundantly available on the roads why not treat me, the Delhi darling, to an innovative mud-bath.

By this time my faith had been reinstated in the theory that a heart of gold is set in the anatomy of all Delhiites. Just then the auto-rickshaw driver also decided not to leave any stone unturned to cement my faith. Just at the confluence of rain-water, gutter effluence and public urination booth discharge he declared that he would go no further. Following a ten-minute bout of formal talks, I conceded defeat. Thanked him for bringing me close to the office and braved the floods with the residue of the mud-bath still clinging on my clothes, a smile on my face and admiration for Delhiites in my heart.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

To My Lil Brother

The dreams I see for you
Are mine left unfulfilled.
The promises I make,
Are those that never came through for me

The imperfections I try to smoothen from your life
Are ones that have creased mine for long
The role that I attempt to play in your life
Is of the one whom I miss most in my life

I try hard, but I let you down
My gifts fail to win your heart
When I try to bring a smile on your lips
I just see tears in your eyes

It’s not your fault I know
Conceding failure becomes a daunting task for me
I shout and scream, rant and rave
Its not at you sweet angel

You are not my child, I know
But I love you more than I could love my own
It might be hard for you to believe
But one day I might actually win you over

One day soon...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I am a Pundit Blogger... what kind are you?

I chanced upon this blog through a thread on Orkut. I liked this quiz he had taken. So Even I took it and here is the result.

Priyanka is a Pundit Blogger!

Her blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.

Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Life Till June 2008

A quick half-yearly update of what all happened in my life in the first six months of this year. This post is meant for me, but I blog it because there are many who have shared these moments with me and I know for a fact that they would love to reminisce about the times with me while reading this post. For those who think ans wish to say that I am wasting their time and the blog space.. I have just 4 words --- Do Not Read More.

Update begins:
1. The year started with Gurneet getting married. It was a time where I had the weiredest bag of mixed emotions ever. To tell be truthful, I am still trying to cope with losing her proximity. Her friendship is a lifelong promise I am pretty sure of that.
2. Had a blast of at time at her week-long wedding ceremonies. It was the first time that I was so much involved in a friend’s wedding. Dancing, singing, teasing… u name it and we did it. Even had are share of last minute adventures. Wearing high heels, Gurneet, her cousin sisters and me along with gunu’s brother and our common friend Ashish, we all jumped a huge ditch to reach the CCD/ bookshop across the Gurgaon highway. Loads of fun that was.
3. Bid a heart wrenching goodbye to Gurneet n her husband Balwinder. Really, really wish that balwinder would settle down here in Delhi itself… maine itni baari kaha hai… maante hi nahi hehehehhe.
4. Went to Jabalpur to drop Aaji. Had fun going to several markets with Aaji and getting her full attention and pampering. The return journey had it bad and good moments.
5. Once I returned, jazz dance classes and radio kept me busy along with job search. With gurneet gone the months were a tad difficult as it seemed everyone’s life was moving ahead, except mine. Even Ashish has a girlfriend now… toh mere toh all the dosts were busy…. Hehehe
6. Went for a number of interviews but u know me… I waited for my heart to scream --- TAKE IT.
7. Joined NewsLink India on March 1. Got a black labrador pet dog on the same day. And just a few days after... I was featured in a newspaper story. So before turned 25 years of age I managed to achieve this feat. :-)
8. While surfing the net one day I chanced to visit, Eric Tenin’s Paris Daily Photo blog. I was inspired and started Delhi Photo Diary. This was one of the best decisions that I have taken in a long time. Keeps me alert to my surroundings and has given me a new perspective to see my city. Apart from this, the blog has opened my eyes to the cities of the world, people from various corners, their interests, and their expertise. The best part is I tend to see my name in several blog-rolls these days :-)
9. Mom got the NATIONAL AWARD FOR BEST EMPLOYEE 2007- 2008. The ceremony was held in Mumbai and I had accompanied mom to the city. It was after ages that mom and I spent time on our own. The trip was adventurous and i made a few observations about Mumbai.
10. Mom and Akshat (my brother) had gone to Jabalpur for a week. I enjoyed my time alone.
11. The biggest achievement was going out to dinner all alone and having a great time. Seriously, it is something I would recommend everyone to do at least once in life. It is liberating in many ways.
12. Started driving classes. It is fun to be on the road… now I wish to be endangering the Delhi roads soon enough!!!
13. Read a number of books over the past six months – The Color Purple, Loss of Inheritance, Where the Heart Is, Gunahon Ka Devta, P.S. I love You and a number of good old Mills and Boons… hehehehe
14. Have realized a couple of things – life has a strange way of delivering to you what you most wish for or what you need, depending on the answer to the question – is your wish greater or your need?
15. People play different roles within a lifetime. Now that Gurneet is far away we cannot talk about each n every facet of life in great detail, however these days Parul has become someone I talk to almost daily… sometimes she counsels and at others I counsel her. That does not mean that she has replaced Gunu in any way or I have replaced anyone in her life… the fact is slowly yet surely our hearts expanded to make room for another great friend. 
16. My birthday was great! And I imparted gyan to Akshat – “celebrating birthdays is worthwhile only after you turn 22” before that u expect too much nothing happens. After 22… u expect nothing but u get loads.
17. This birthday treating my colleagues to lunch was extreme fun; loads of jokes at the table always make me happy.
18. Getting presents is always fun. Gunu n Bally sent a beautiful bouquet and a delicious Black Forest cake, which was a big surprise. I got 2 books and a very pretty bouquet as well apart from the chocolates.. yummm... ok if u guys are jealous lemme make most of it...this is just the beginning of the gift party for me :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Strange Times I Live In

Liberated from morality
But onus of decision burdens me
A student no more
Far From being a teacher I am

Consciousness I strive for
But Trance beckons me to it
Death has lost its charm on me
Life threatens to offer no more

Strange times I live in
Or is it weirdness that explains me
Conflict defines my existence now
Or has it been the same all along

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Delhi Smells, Mumbai Stinks

I take the Blueline buses to work daily. The smells and stinks on the bus have been a muse needing a vent for a long time now. In fact I have been so vocal about my smell issues on the blog, that this post will not be a big surprise for the regulars to my blog space. As if the smells and stinks of the fellow passengers on board the Blueline Delhi buses was not enough of an inspiration, I chanced to make a visit to Mumbai and experience the concoction of smells on board the ladies compartment in the local trains of the city. 

This post should not in any circumstance be taken in a light vein. I am discussing matters that might have dire consequences on the smelling prowess of the generations to come. Let me be partial as usual and talk about Delhi first. 

It is summers, the ideal time for the flourishing of varied smells, odors and stinks. The bus that I take has an eclectic mix of passengers. There are people like me, who spend a fortune on deodorants and perfumes in a desperate attempt to save themselves from death due to smell, there are others, who believe the more you stink the better and some have body odor because they genuinely have no means to have even a decent bath. I have no qualms with the third category. But the first two varieties combine to treat my nostrils with a blend of odour that qualifies me to receive the highest global honours. Let me explain how it works, a man standing right in front of me, while I am seated, will very artistically break wind. Another one will lift his hand up so that his underarms are aired and the passing wind carries the fragrances of the juices produced in the cozy comfort of his armpits. Added to this, an aunty who decided that wearing flowers with very strong fragrance in her hair and not removing them even at evening when they have wilted and turned brown… all this creates a concoction that most of you might never chance to experience. I feel sorry for you.

Next are the Mumbai stinks. Mumbai Local train, second class ladies compartment at peak hour. The women keep repeating “peechhe se pressure aa raha hai” (I am feeling the pressure from behind). Initially I thought, Mumbai women are liberated in the truest sense of the word. Maybe the theory I had given was being practiced openly in the financial capital of India. However, after 3 long journeys aboard the trains of Mumbai, I understood the real meaning, they were talking about being pushed from behind and making the previous statement in defense to the ladies, who question being pushed. Now back to smells. I rarely like to say that Mumbai is better than Delhi, but on this occasion, Mumbai wins hands down. The main ingredients of Mumbai Stinks are: coconut oiled hair, gajras (small garlands put on hair buns or plaits), the body odour caused by the killing humidity, the fish baskets being carried by women, the powder that most of them had applied 12 hours ago (the same time they had had a bath too) that turns into a gooish kind of black pulp resting on their neck lines and last but not the least, itr or traditional perfumes that most of them adorn themselves with. Now at least once in your life you must be able to enjoy the company of these women, who provide a free of cost body massage while traveling in the local train compartments. Sadly, I cannot comment on the men’s compartment rather general compartment (poor men, there are no special compartments for them :P) because I did not have the privilege to travel in one of those. 

Hoping that your life Smells great… just as mine does :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Soon everything will be alright

Every minute has gone away
Soon everything will part away
My children are with me
And soon I would be telling them, “Fare well thee”

The end it seems is drawing near
Is there anything that I fear?
Looking back into the past
My life has gone by very fast

When I still was an infant
I wanted to walk that very instant
When I was a young man, I wanted to
Sore high up in the sky

I got a job---
Worked hard to reach the top
I had a family, dear to me
But never near were we

Soon I realized

My lifeboat is going to capsize

And now I’m here dying
I hear everybody crying
Weak is getting my sight
… And soon everything will be 

Alright, Alright, Alright…

P.S: This is a poem I had written 9 years ago. This was the last piece of writing that received my Dad's appreciation. He passed away after a couple of months. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How She met Him...

The day to fulfil Her fairytale had come. Excited, nervous and jubilant at the same time She was enjoying the sensations of butterflies in Her stomach. Within an hour She would be face to face with the boy who had over the month made Her feel beautiful, special and out-of-this world. He had been charming, witty and humorous. Since the first time She spoke to Him a smile was fixed on Her face. She looked beautiful when She smiled, Her friends told Her initially. Later the same friends opined that the grin was silly and bordering on irritating them specially when all of them were busy worrying about probably the biggest exams of their lives. Exams, marks and career did not matter to Her anymore. Her life was just 2 steps away from perfection. Today She was finally going to meet the man who made her feel like a woman and a week from today She was sure to clear the interview, a mere formality, and study in the best institute for learning the nuances of film-making. There was nothing more She could ask for. Her life was complete. She was in love and Her career promised to take off. Nothing could go wrong or come in the way of Her happiness.

She decided that over-dressing was not Her style. Moreover they were not going anyplace 'nice'. It was just a casual date. She was not programmed to dress shabby, so She carefully selected a black cotton top to go with fawn cargo pants. The shoes had to be sports considering Her first bike ride was pre-decided. He had told Her in no uncertain terms that She should be prepared to have a good time on a long, a very long bike ride. She had never been on a motorbike before. The speed, the openness and the risk scared Her and at the same time sitting pillion with Him excited her. The day had magic written all over it. She was certain. In fact, She had never been more certain about anything in Her life.

She boarded a bus to reach the meeting spot the two had zeroed in upon after long discussions the previous night. The sultry July afternoon was unable to dampen her spirits. Instead in Her hearts of heart She actually believed that the weather was beautiful. Contrary to the cliché that boys reach early and wait for hours together for the girl, She reached earlier and was waiting for Him to arrive. He did arrive but they were unable to spot each other. He called Her. Thank God for mobile phones. He said, "I am the guy driving the Pulsar bike who is just entering the street of the market." Her heart skipped a beat as She saw a very shabbily dressed guy with his long hair tied into a ponytail on a Pulsar bike take a turn from the corner where She was standing. Within a fraction of a second She had decided that She would run back home, never speak to the guy and never ever go on another blind date in Her life.

She was still on phone and He said, " Hello! Hello! Are you there? Listen I am standing at the panwala's shop outside BigJo's now." She was elated and within a second, Her minute-old resolutions were abandoned. She ran towards the spot to see Him, just hoping that He be better than the horror She just witnessed. The Gods above had answered Her prayers. He was dressed in blue denims, a pink shirt with purple stripes across. Though as a rule She did not like men who wore pink but She decided to make an exception in this case. Short, gelled hair, spectacles that covered the small eyes, which shut completely not just when he laughed but even when he smiled. She was happy beyond words to see a decently dressed boy rather than a wannabe artistic type loafer, waiting for Her and giving Her a smile of recognition and mischief at the same time.

DISCLAIMER: any resemblance to any person living or dead, real or fictitious, inhabitant of Venus or Mars is not deliberate, rather just a malfunction of the sub-conscience.

**** My fictitious mind has not been able to come up with what happens next. So till the time I conjure up the perfect ending for the day tell me what do you think would have happened or should happen?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A missed happy memory

Appu Ghar was closing down forever. The News channels across the board were flashing headlines like – Bye bye Appu!, The final ride, Children bid farewell to Appu.

Appu Ghar was as old as Pallavi was. She felt she had a connection with Appu Ghar that she had never known before. Apart from their common birthdays there was nothing common to both she thought. She had no special memories of Appu Ghar.

She just remembered the last time, some 14 years ago, she had been to Appu Ghar with her father, aunt (father’s sister), cousin and grandfather. She remembers she had felt lonely at the happiest place for kids of Delhi without her mother accompanying her. Though a child herself, being the eldest of the children of the family she had by then learnt the tact of sensing when her elders used the children to fight their battles and justify their complexes. The trip to Appu Ghar that she had anticipated as a fun filled day with her father and cousin turned out to be a competition. She was forced to go on high rides that made her nervous and nauseous. The scared look on her face would pop-up despite her trying her level best to mask it with nervous laughter. That scared look did not garner sympathy for her in her elders’ hearts. Her father read it as a deed of cruel defiance on part of his daughter to belittle him in front of his father and sister. Her younger cousin brother sought the opportunity to bask in the exhilaration that his gender granted him fearlessness as a birthright. The grandfather and aunt had never been close to actually care about or even notice what little Pallavi felt.

Since that last visit, Pallavi had always avoided going to Appu Ghar. “The rides are not my thing”, she told her friends. “Its summers for Christ Sake!”; “It’s too cold to enjoy ice-creams in this season”; “Just the idea of rain dance is grotesque”. These were some of the other excuses that helped her in refusing to go to Appu Ghar, the place that everyone her age was remembering on the various news channels. 24 years after its opening, Appu Ghar was closing to make way for the Supreme Court parking and the Metro. Though Appu Ghar did not spell any happy memories Pallavi felt a stab of pain every time she chanced to see a TV news story on the sad departure of Appu.

It was one of the places where she had wanted to go to redeem her self and create a happy memory. She had badly wanted to be a part of the history of happy times that many happy children had had visiting Appu Ghar with family, hoards of cousins and crowd of friends. She was angry with the Supreme Court for snatching away the opportunity from her. But like many others who felt connected to Appu Ghar, Pallavi bid farewell to the happy orange elephant.

P.S: My first attempt at fiction. Please feel free to be critical :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

*Conditions apply

Life is beautiful!*

*Conditions apply.

The SMS that had me splitting my ends with laughter suddenly became profound when I read it when my mood was a little off. The mind that is a dangerous master and a wonderful slave got to work and began to enumerate the conditions to make life beautiful.

A smiling face
God’s grace
Family’s support
Friends to court
Tears of joy
Freedom to not be coy
To keep warm enough clothes
Have a circle of people I chose
Smell of the wet ground
50 rupees unexpectedly found
A happy phone call
At India Gate playing ball
Flowers in spring
Tea cups going ting
Baby’s fragrance
Jumping the fence
On the radio my favorite song
At 8, the morning factory gong
Walking in the rain
Sometimes being a plain Jane
Shah Rukh Khan
Filmy Khandaan
Pajama parties at night
A loud street fight
Running to catch the bus
Creating a lot of fuss
Cleaning sprees
The lush green trees
Salty tears
Combating fears
Power to make a point
CCD, the coffee joint!

I just realized I can check all the conditions to make my life beautiful.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Two good men for every bad one

A train journey is so much like life in fast forward mode. My first trip of the year has lead to my turning into a theorist. The postulates of my theory are – “The assortment of people you can meet while boarding a train is directly proportional to the people you will encounter in a lifetime.” “There are two good men for every bad one.”

As I boarded the Gondwana Express from Jabalpur on 2nd February 2008 I was hoping for a good journey back home to my family n friends in Delhi. I was also trying to match real life to reel life. I wanted a ‘Jab we met’ story to happen. What did really happen was something that I had never fathomed. It was like death… it happens to other people not me.

For starters, I did not get my preferred side lower berth. Instead I got an upper berth in the coach. The gentleman just opposite to my seat introduced himself as Colonel Sandeep Jaitley. His rank led to me to change my opinion of his weird hand shake that had sent my woman’s instinct ringing a sounding alarm. He started the conversation in good enough English and within five minutes he decided to progress to “tu tadaka” (very informal use of Hindi language). As my female instinct again warned me I just reproached at it saying he is just an over friendly and over zealous kind of a man.

There were 2 other men occupying the same coach. They were nice and polite. Moreover, they were railway officials one of whom I later realized about to meet my mother for some official work in two days time. The four of us were discussing things that are mandatory topics in any train journey – weather, politics, tea and the condition of the country/railway/business etc. in retrospect though I think I had seen the two men and the other passengers occupying the side berth look at the Colonel of the Indian Army with suspicion.

While talking he hit me with his foot under the small table that adorns the 2nd AC bogies of the Indian trains. Again giving him the benefit of doubt (foolishly enough) I just retreated my feet back. One of the reasons why I did not scream at that point in time was also because I was traveling alone and was not sure whether anyone would help. When the man suggested that I wake-up chatting with him till 11:30 pm in the night that was IT. I excused myself and went straight to my berth. Covered my head with the blanket and pretended to sleep. And before I knew it I was sound asleep.

To my utter horror the man tugged at my blanket. I jerked and looked up to see a complete drunk Colonel Sandeep Jaitley. I shouted, “Please don’t do that again.”
Rolled back to the other side and slept again hoping that the shout was enough of a scare to the drunkard. As if flouting the rules by consuming alcohol in the train was not enough that sleaze of a man had the nerves to get down his berth and then move his palm on my thighs as I was sleeping.

Imagine my horror as I jumped down the berth screaming and shouting, tears running down my cheeks involuntarily. I was hysterical. And never have I been more proud of having a loud voice and an even louder personality. Everyone around the coach gathered. They shouted at the drunkard. Some aunties took me to the next coach. Seats were immediately exchanged. All I kept repeating was, “if an army Colonel behaves like this what are we to expect from the civilians?” The two uncles from railways took me under their wings. Suddenly I had strangers in an unknown place taking care of me in a way that perhaps only my family could. I was reassured again and again. Was given hot tea and then before realizing it engaged in a conversation that was engrossing and riveting. Within 2 hours I had listened to views on politics, religion, medicine and career. I had actively participated in the discussion too after a point.

Dinner was a party. We all shared food, jokes and hearty laughs. And in the meantime, Deepak Gupta uncle and M.K. Gupta uncle, Dr. Shukla aunty and Abhishek (M.K. Gupta uncle’s son) were constantly looking over me and taking care of anything and everything I needed. When it was time to switch off the lights on that awful evening I had turned into a theorist.

“The assortment of people you can meet while boarding a train is directly proportional to the people you will encounter in a lifetime.”

For every bad Colonel Sandeep Jaitley there are Deepak Gupta and M.K. Gupta. Life is not all bad and just like on the Gondwana Express running between Jabalpur and Hazarat Nizammudin on 2nd-3rd February 2008 there are two good men for every bad one in life as well.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Twins of life

The heart is numb
Mind rambles on
Eyes remain silent
Mouth speaks for long

Claustrophobic in a crowd
Swarmed all alone
Ears listen nothing
Heartbeats create mayhem

Not all alone
Yet seeking someone
Light does not enlighten
Darkness calmly enfolds

Nothing moves forward
Life rushes by
Mere spectator no more
Live it up, will I?

Perplexed Gemini speculates
Twin of emotions
Liberated Gemini knows
One choice to make

Monday, January 14, 2008

Aisa hi hota hai! (This is how it happens!)

How do you say bye to someone who has been part of your life for just three years but seems that you have known them forever? How do you bid farewell to someone who knows you better than you know yourself most of the times? How do you say adieu to a friend who has gracefully become family? How do you say Goodbye to someone who has taught you so much while pretending to learn? How do you part ways with someone who makes sure that you remember them every time you meet friends they helped you make?

Well I have no idea how you do it but I start by crying just thinking of all the good times. Then I cry thinking of all the predictable moments that I won’t be able to share with them in person. Then I start to laugh with tears still rolling down my cheeks thinking of all the MAD things that we did together and the things that I am pretty sure we will not do with anyone else on the planet. Then I blog about it so that this emotion becomes immortal and in time when the hurt of being away from your best friend heals you still can hold onto the memory of what seems the greatest loss at this point in time.

Well my friend is not dying (Thank God!). She is getting married to the luckiest man on this earth. I know that our friendship will sustain for life and the times we have spent doing the most bizarre of activities will be narrated to our grandchildren by us. Never before in life, proximity has meant more to me than now. There are friends and then there are FRIENDS. Gurneet is FAMILY; A part of the cosmic family that I hold very dear.

I am extremely happy for Gurneet. She deserves the best and I am pretty convinced that she is getting the best partner for life in Balwinder. But every second of everyday I cannot help but wish that he lived in Delhi itself so that Gurneet could remain a constant in my life. But I know now what Gurneet would say to this, “Pagal. Priyanka aise hi hota hai. Tujhe kuch nahi pata. Main jaoongi tabhi toh someone special will come in your life. See I love you so much. Sirf tere liye hi shaadi kar rahi hoon main.” (Priyanka, this is how it happens. You don’t know anything. Its only when I go that someone special will come into your life. See I love you so much. And I am marrying just for your sake.) How can I not love someone who can come up with such bizarre logics? :D

With tears rolling down my cheeks I pray for a happy married life for my best friend and wish that the vacuum that she has created in my life soon fills up. And as Gurneet says – Aisa hi hota hai!!!

Loads of love.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

what a year - 2007

Well to begin telling the truth I did not have too high expectations from 2007 as a year. After all 2006 was a tough act to follow. In retrospect though, 2007 taught me some of the best lessons of life so far. 2006 was all about having fun, growing up, and experimenting with life, love, friendships, books, career choices. 2007 as it turns out was about being patient, living with the aftermath of choices, letting go of heartache and some friends, rejoicing in the knowledge that my friends were moving towards the next pedestal in life and at the same time re-evaluating my stand on things. The biggest lesson I learnt this year: Nothing is as it seems at first.

Highlights of 2007:

  • Compare Infobase Limited. I met some wonderful people there, learned the tricks of the corporate world, and expanded my professional skills in one more direction.
    All India Radio auditions and then the training session with Manoj Mayankar, Sumeet Tandon and the Yuva Vani Studio (no less than a person with its complicated tools and first impression of awe-inspiring).
  • My birthday! I got a surprise party in the office. I had never seen anyone else get it before me or even after mine. There was cake, gifts and the party mood with my friends rubbing cake all over my face. Even my orkut friends – Anil, Harpreet aka Phodu aka and Divs aka Saurabh aka Divsie sent a surprise Black Forest cake to my house. Gurneet could not meet me that day but she sent a packet full of letters from herself, her family and even her colleagues’ jotted wishes for me. Then coffee with Garima at my favourite CCD and a family dinner at Pizza Hut. What a day!
  • Preparing for mom’s 50th Birthday Bash. Nothing in the world will give me more joy than the joy of remembering her face light up with all her near n dear ones around and opening the presents that I got for her.
  • The time Ashish and I spent taking care of Gurneet. Oh! What weird situations and what crazy fun was that. Then Gurneet went away after a month of SOS calls, crying, living at her house and eating all the junk one can think of. She was gone. All of us new that this time her trip meant that she would be getting engaged and would be married soon after. Our prophecies came true. 2007 decided that the first highlight of 2008 is going to be Gurneet’s wedding.
  • Gurneet got engaged in Canada. And Garima got engaged in Delhi to be married by December 2007. I like to believe that I very gracefully gave up my sole rights on my two most treasured Gs of my life in 2007.
  • I made new friends though. Attended the documentary making workshop. Met Sourabh, Vikas, Sukriti, Shreya, Azad and Mohanji. Awesome 15 days watching films, shooting and most importantly going out in the evening with the gang to some of my favourite places in Delhi- India Gate, Dilli Haat and Gole Market. The metro rides and the jokes that I could share with these guys alone make those 15 days extremely special.
  • Last two months of the year I traveled like a maniac. Mumbai was the first city. Explored it on my own. Realized Delhi is the best. Hahahahahaha. Met two very cute orkut friends – Aashay and Anu. The day at the beach, the outings with mami and mama, the train rides, meeting Shubha Aatya and watching a SRK film in Mumbai (one thing done before I turn fifty off my list). It was all amazing.
  • Nagpur is a city that will go down in history. Well not because of any major feat but just because three of us – Gurneet, Ashish and me traveled there together, only a friends ka trip. The high of traveling with friends on the train is something I recommend for everyone. Vaneet’s sister’s wedding was the occasion and I thoroughly enjoyed all the fun. That was the first and the last trip for all of us friends to take together (second thing done before I turn fifty off my list).
  • Last trip was to Jaipur. Amazing time at Amer fort with Prasha and her friend Prerna and later at Prasha’s Birthday party with her friends.
  • Met Anil my orkut Son lolz… bored the hell out of him in one day. hahhaha
  • And yes!!! I took my first step towards jazzing up my world. Joined Jazz classes to dance my blues away!

And that’s pretty much all the things that I would like to remember of the year gone by. It made me grow wiser. A bit more patient. A lot more adventurous. So here is to the NEW YEAR 2008… wishing that it brings in situations that help me grow as a person. Happy moments to cherish and sad moments enough to make me treasure all that is good in my life. May I meet more people and treasure the moments and people who made me into what I am today!!!