Sunday, February 26, 2006


It was the summer of our final year of undergrad engineering college. Over the course of time Addi (Aditya) had become notorious for doing things that would make people pull stomach muscles, AJ (Apurva) had become notorious for his witty and open remarks and Alice (moi) had become notorious for being this taciturn chap, with spurts of enthusiasm. Right from our second year the three of us used to attend lectures usually seated on the same bench. We did a lot of projects together and usually bunked classes together, finding refuge in the college canteen. So as I was saying, it was the summer of our final year of undergrad engineering college. Final year exams were around the corner. We got together in college as per ritual to exchange notes and discuss topics before the exams. Something that I looked forward to. Not just cause their two brains were amongst the brightest in our class, but because it was a welcome break from the routine of studying. We were outside our department when a professor met us. He said, "Hello. How are you boys doing. Nice to see ex-students coming back to college to relive old memories. How long has it been since you graduated." We stood there silent. The professor went on,"I just have to keep some notes in office. Wait here, I'll come back and meet you. Its nice of you to come back". As soon as he disappeared we looked at each other and burst out laughing, as we started to run away. Seems we had bunked too many of that particular profs lectures.

Its been nearly 5 years now and Addi has continued to entertain us with his so called Addi-isms. A couple of years back Addi declared to the world that he would get married in December, whosoever the lucky girl might be. However the date was set in February this year. A few weeks after Addi's engagement he met Rahul, a batchmate from college. Richa, his fiancee was with him. Addi introduced Richa to Rahul. Rahul then looked at Richa and said,"Hum dono ek hi class me the. (We two were in the same class)". Addi then stood there perplexed for about 10 seconds. Finally some words managed to come out, "Yeh kaise ho sakta hai. (How is that possible)." Richa and Rahul then had to elucidate furthur, probably pulling a few stomach muscles.

During his wedding Addi was chatting with my mom. My mom is pretty free with my friends and usually ends up joking and stuff with them. For some reason he ended up telling my mom that I only like girls who are booked or married. Addi claims that his choice of words were different. More to the tune that most of the ppl I hang out with are booked or married. But that didn't stop mumzee from increasing the number of phone calls to me. After a week or so she forgot about it. We joked that we should morphe a photo of me with some married chick and with a kid and stuff. err... I'm sure this will give Manish some ideas of how to blackmail me. Right Ayush :-)

After their honeymoon in God's own country, the newly weds dropped anchor in Bangalore, enroute to Pune. They stayed with AJ and me. AJ moved to bangalore a couple of months back. Richa seems to have caught on to the fact that Addi's leg has to be pulled every now and then. Bala and Ashu, our batchmates, got together with us. Dhruv our roomie also joined us. We came back home and then decided that the night was still young. We laid out some Almond mint liqueur, some homemade date wine and some french red wine. AJ then asked Addi's permission to read some of Addi's old emails, which AJ will hold onto till posterity. Addi more than willingly gave the go-ahead. Addi and AJ had done their postgraduation from IIT together. It was about 3 years back. The date was february 14th and Addi rushed to AJ's PC and sent some emails. He forgot to sign out, so AJ decided to take a look as to what Addi was upto on Feb 14th. He had sent some mails to his friends distributing advice. One on Feb 13th, giving some fundaes about life. On Feb 14th he sent out another one to another female friend. He gave a lot of advice, a shoulder to cry on, and ended with a couplet which is part of a ghazal sung by apne Jagjit uncle. The couplet is below.

gulshan ki faqat phoolon se nahin, kaanton se bhi zeenat hoti hai.
jeene ke liye is duniyaa mein gham ki bhi zaroorat hoti hai.

After AJ had read those mails, he told Addi that he had sent another mail to the girl, which AJ of course did not do. Addi was tense and wrote another mail to that girl telling her that his mailbox had been hacked and someone might have sent her some mails from his account. AJ then went on to read the reply which he also managed to save for the past 3 years. It read....

Hi Addi,
Yeah I did get some spam mail from your account. Someone was trying to give me some kind of advice and ended with some couplet or something.....

After the email reading was done, with a lot of voice modulation and pauses of course, we all looked at each other and burst out laughing. Richa had just joined the club. The signature in both mails he sent had the following,"Faling in love is not about finding the perfect person. Its about learning to see an imperfect person, perfectly." Something I had read in the readers digest and had told him about. After a bit of deliberation, we unanimously concluded that he must have typed the signature specifically for those two mails. AJ then opened one of the mails that Addi had sent him around that time to support our claim, and the signature was different. Addi misspelled 'falling' as 'faling'. We surmised that maybe that very folly had done him in. I mean you could think of it as "Failing" and not "Falling", which did make gramatical sense. However to which some parties might take offense. By now we had all pulled a lot of stomach muscles and were rolling on the ground. Addi as usual allowed us to pull his leg to glory. In the midst of our delirium, with our hearts soaked in wine, we decided to hit the sack. It was 4AM.

I had seen this movie Momento, in which the actor reflects,"We all need mirrors to remind us of who we are." Maybe we also need mirrors to remind us of who we want to be. We come across a lot of mirrors in our lives. Some mirrors are ingraved in rich and beautiful frames, some in ordinary ones and some in a quaint setup. But what really matters is what we see in them. Some mirrors we hate to look into, not cause we don't like them but cause we don't like what part of us it reflects. Some mirrors we put on a pedestal, the very act which inhibits us from looking into it. And then there are those mirrors which remind us of who we are and who we want to be. The "goodfellas" mirrors, a term mobsters give to others they consider to be trustworthy and ok guys.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Beneath the Embers

Beneath the Embers

Coup de main, a consensus breached,

Caught unawares, the rainbow bleached.

A masquerading smile, a lukewarm fear,

The icy hands, wasn't it clear.

Consenting adults, the coming of age,

Juvenile passions, each considered a sage.

Prepared questions, to clear up the fog,

As the debate turns to a monologue.

Anticipated answers evoke an alien feeling,

The unfiltered view doesn't seem appealing.

With flowing words, the river runs dry,

As the convincing game ends in a tie.

Astray in the darkness, with each echoing word,

The dialogue begins, others feelings are heard.

As time goes by, you question your faith,

You question your stand, your rhetorical hate.

There is one God, why the contrasting vision,

Cause maybe your beliefs are your religion.

Beneath the embers, as the ashes take form,

From silent lucidity, comes a silent storm.

------ Alistair D'souza 21st Feb 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tracking the locomotion

10:00 AM:
I awake from my slumber. Its Sunday, or was it ??? Errr... not sure, but it sure felt like sunday. My body aches, I look around and decide to sleep some more. As I close my eyes again, I slowly float back into never never land, as I tend to sway between reality and my dream-like exploits from before.

4:30 AM:
The first rays of the sun were yet to refract their way over the horizon. The air was crisp, brindled with a whiff of raw breath. Still groggy, but with an immense feeling of emancipation we walked out of the bus, looked at each other, smiled and set out on our respective journeys to our warm cosy beds... I dropped Lakshmi at her place on my way back and then was about to hit the bed, when I looked at my clothes and gear... RED!!! It was covered in red dust.

7:55 PM:
We were at the side of the road, brandishing our flashlights, hoping that luck would favour us and hoping that we would soon be carried back to the place we had ventured out of. A truck stopped and we hauled ourselves into the open container behind. On closer inspection we found that our habitat for the next 2 hours had previously been used to transport red bricks. We stood for the initial part of the journey, grasping the sides along the sharp curves, grasping the sounds made by the wind in our hair, grasping the beauty of the clear star studded sky above. Then while some decided to lie down and get some rest, others decided that there was more to grasp.

The truck could not drop us inside Hassan so we got down outside the town limits and found a tea shop along the way. We freshened up a bit and then found ourselves in the back of a milk container carrier on our way to the bus stand. Just before the bus was to leave Sandeep realised that he had lost track of time, the watch on his hand having deserted him. Then ironically Raoul and Sandeep set out back to the tea stall, to reclaim lost time.

6:45 PM:
We were losing an already lost battle against time and light. It was the only path we had not chosen so far. We then took a deep breath, armed with our flashlights and a faint belief that we were still not lost, and then we marched on ahead. After more than half an hour of following the unknown path we were still in the dark, our choice being reaffirmed every now and then by the faint sound of a vehicle, only to be stifled by the overwhelming flow of the stream nearby. Finally the sound of the vehicles overcame that of the stream. But then the stream decided to pull another one on us, as it stood between us and the road ahead. Then in the dark we attempted to cross the stream, stepping on slippery stones, using all fours. Some of us fell into the water since the stones were pretty far apart. It took all of us like 20-25 mins to cross it. There was this other group in front of us where the guys were standing straight and with the girls besides them flat on the stones. The guys were flashing the torches for the girls next step. Wanted to take out some snaps as it was really funny... but I guess I would have been beaten up after that...

5:15 PM:
After being seduced by nature we took a wrong path, only to realise the same about half an hour later, when we found ourselves back on the railway tracks. But instead of nostalgia, our thoughts ran amok. We decided that it was not a good time to start beating each other up, so we started to trace our steps back. Then Sandeep mesmerised by nature, lagging behind us, took another wrong turn. We realised he was missing after about 10 mins. We yelled till the forest resonated with "SANDEEP", "SANDEEP!!!". We decided to scout the area and after a few minutes I found myself alone. Surrounded on all sides by trees that seemed to be growing at an alarming rate, their shadows creeping up behind my back. Even the sounds of nature seemed to take on a new avatar. After about 20 mins we found each other again and started to trace our steps back to the place where nature had seduced us.

4:10 PM:
We decided to leave the railway station and take the short cut to the road, through the forest. The route downhill felt like a real trek as our knees took a beating. As we cleared through the bushes we found ourselves panting, standing infront of a beautiful stream, which we just had to delve into. We unanimously decided that we had a lot of daylight time on our side. And since hindsight is always accurate we finally gave into temptation and cooled off our desires.

3:00 PM:
After walking for about 18-19 kms we had reached Yedikumari station that was still under constuction. A solitary engine stood there waiting for us to explore it. There was also a modified truck and a sumo that could run on the railway tracks. After trying to strike a deal with the station master to give us a lift to the next station, we decided to satiate our hunger, only to see our negotiated means of transport leave without us.

1:30 PM:
After having crossed over a thousand bridges and been through a thousand tunnels the journey started to feel a bit monotonous. Trepidation no longer had a place in our hearts as we found our footings across the bridges. The screeching of the bats in the dark tunnels felt more like an accompaniment of nature. Our system had been programmed to move our legs ahead just the proper distance, to find the cemented planks that were vertical to the rails. It was sometime around then that we decided to have a carrot break. It was also sometime around then that a thought arose in someones head, that maybe we should not stay overnight and trek the next day. The thought spread like wild fire.

12:00 PM:
I thought I had gotten used to initial fear before crossing a bridge but the best was yet to come. We then came to this bridge that was about 50-60 meters high. It was high noon, the sun was above our heads and with the dark shadows from the near future trampled beneath our feet, we set out to cross this bridge also. At some points we had planks (1 foot wide) laid along the tracks to assist us in our endeavour. At others we had to manoeuver our fear, as we focussed on the horizontal steel planks. At some points the gap between them was a little more than 2 feet, through which we could see the ground about 50-60 meters below us. Our complete nervous system was on high alert as each foot was firmly placed on safe ground. The trick was not to look ahead at the never ending bridge. Just focus on the immediate problem, one step at a time. After crossing the bridge we took a short detour downhill where we took a lunch break along the stream. From there we could see the old wooden bridge which had been overshadowed by the new mighty bridge.

9:00 AM:
After crossing another bridge we decided to stop for breakfast besides a stream. The bridges ahead were to see a lot of action from us. One of them was to be used as a modelling ramp where I was to showcase the 'Camping (Don't) Fall 2006' collection. Another one was to be the setting for the 'Heads popping thru the tracks' photo session. The snap that is gonna win me the Pulitzer prize :-)

7:00 AM:
We stopped along the tracks where we found a mountainside that we could climb. Manish and Sandeep managed to get to the top. It was too tricky for me. We also found a wooden plank that joined two iron wheels at the side of the track. We decided to carry it and place it on the tracks and then we fooled around a bit. I re-enacted a train scene from the movie 'Ghulam' and nearly got run over by the oncoming man-powered engine. After gathering our bearings we headed out along the tracks, ready to cross all the bridges and tunnels that came along our way.

6:15 AM:
We came across our first bridge. The sun was still rising and so we had to use our torchlights. Horizontal steel planks, about 1 foot wide, were strewn along the tracks to assist us in crossing it. Inspite of all the assistance we were still very cautious as to where we landed our footing.

4:00 AM:
The bus dropped us at Donigal in the wee and cold hours of the morning. A few feet away we found our way to the tracks. We had decided to trek along this train track that was still under construction. We walked along the tracks, aided by our torchlights. After about 20 mins we decided to park ourselves and start a fire. I had not been able to sleep a wink during the bus journey. So I decided to make the railway tracks my bed, while the others warmed themselves besides the fire. As we lost ourselves within the flames we realised that we didn't start the fire, the fire actually started us. We did not know what lay ahead. The unknown journey, layed out with bridges and tunnels was till then subject to the metamorphosis and evanescence of our imagination and moods. Finally we were ready to do the locomotion. It was now reality's turn to etch them out in our memory.

2:00 AM:
I must have been fast asleep, alternating through the various stages of sleep. They say the memorable dreams occur in the last stage of sleep commonly known as REM sleep. I guess it was time to float away into never never land.