Paying back my friends

Living in a hostel taught me quite a few things, and lead to some memorable incidents. It is one thing to have people as friends, but yet another to live with them. When you spend enough time living in the immediate presence of someone else, you get to see different shades of them you normally cannot. In the same manner, when you have some highs or lows in your life, you get to see a different part of people in the manner to which they react to your situation.

Hostel usually involved commuting weekly. We would leave from the college on Friday or Saturday to reach home by dinner time, and spend the rest of the weekend at home. Depending on which schedule our lectures were, we would leave back for hostel on Sunday evening or early Monday morning. This happened on one such Sunday evening when a bunch of us were heading back to the hostel. The evening commute train came in, and instead of patiently waiting for it stop and the passengers to get off, I ran along with the coach. Keeping pace with the door, I threw my bag in and slowed down as people started to get off. Moments later when I got on to the train with a grin, I found that my bag was not there. Someone had taken it with themselves.

After trying to search the train, and running around on the platform, I came to accept that my stuff was stolen. The loss of the bag in itself wasn’t that hurtful as that of its contents. Two of my favorite sets of clothes were in it, along with 700 INR. At that point, 700 INR was a BIG Deal for me. It meant nearly a month’s food. There was no point in waiting at the station, and I left with my friends in the train. I lodged a police complaint at the railway police station after getting down at my station and went to the hostel with my friends. I didn’t do anything that night, at once falling asleep on reaching my room.

700 INR meant a lot of things. First it was nearly the amount I would have spent on eating dinner for an entire month. I used up some of the allowances I had saved up to buy new underwear and socks. I had some of them in the bag as well. I didn’t even feel like asking mom for money (for it was no fault of hers), and planned on how little I would have to spend on eating, or what my new dinner options would be. In hindsight, all of it seems a very stupid thing to do. Nobody gets on a train like that, but that wasn’t something that I could take back.

The next day two of my friends offered me close to 500 INR so that I wouldn’t skimp out on my meals.  I was too proud to ask any one for the money, on account of how I had lost it. They simply told me to give it back to them a month or so later when I would be in a better position to do so. I almost cried when I had dinner that night.

In the same week, we found out that there would be an inter college technical fest and competition at a college in Ahmedabad. Being organized by one of the most reputed colleges of the state, many people wanted to attend it. It had events that I was looking to take part in, but being short on cash (the sign up cost was 500 INR), I just walked back from their kiosk in our college atrium. Another friend asked me about it and I told him about not signing up for it. As if my luck in good friends wasn’t run out, he quietly offered to pay my amount, while he himself wasn’t attending himself.

Later that month, when I did participate in some of the competitions, I managed to get an unexpected 2nd place with a cash prize enough to pay back all of the friends who had helped me out in my time of need.

Inspired by Housing.com about a memorable time my friends gave me the strength to go on with optimism.

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Envy

How does one process the feeling of envy? Within itself, envy is very simple. Typically envy is the emotion one feels when somebody has something that they desire. There have been times that I have been envious of people, and typically those are times that make more sense. Sense in the manner that I can work the means out about. Things like people having a better phone, a car, a lovely set of jeans, a lovely spacious home, and such are easy.

I mean all things come for a price. If one is envious of people having things, one works out the price and the effort that goes into obtaining them. If you can, you make a transaction. If you can’t, you work a little extra for ‘x’ amount of days and then make the transaction. Those in want of instant gratification can utilize a loan, or credit and work it off later. The point I am trying to make is that if you’re envious for something you usually know what you’re going to have to do.

Of course there are things that one can’t work out the price of. When I am envious of someone being in the company of someone else, when the sense of longing for someone mutates into a feeling of envy on their being with someone else, how does one know what the ‘x’ is? How does one know what to do? How does one process that?

2014 in review for this blog

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I dream of death

Everyone dreams, and some dreams are more memorable than other. I dream loads and some of the most wonderful stuff (though not of genies, not yet that is).  While there are dreams that are older and more memorable, I will however share with you one that I had today in the morning as it one of the few dreams that I was able to do things in; a lucid dream of sorts as I could talk and move as I pleased in some cases.
I was sitting in Landmark that is close to my place in Baroda. I was comfortably seated on a couch and reading a book I had just purchased while a cup of coffee lay on the table. Now I know that this landmark doesn’t have a coffee joint in it anymore, but hey it’s a dream and I didn’t want to nitpick on free coffee. I notice this man walk past by me towards the washroom. I couldn’t help but think that I had seen him a couple of times before. He was wearing a fedora hat and that is a rare thing, in India for the least. So the dream me tries to remember, and has an image of him walking by my mom’s house while I stood outside in the veranda talking to a neighbour. After he comes out of the washroom I go and ask him if we have met before since he seems familiar to me. The man nods and says that he is the angel of death and that we have met a couple of times before.
“Huh, angel of death? What are you doing in a book store then?”
“Doing my job, taking people off my list to see that they die.”
“Is it now, you must show me how it works then.” And he stared at me for a moment as if I had told something that he couldn’t understand.

For future reference if you’re in my dream, and if I tell you to show me how something works, you will show me how it works. You’re in my dream, and well that is how I dream. I will extend the same courtesy to you should I ever come in to your dreams. Although I don’t know how it works if you dream of me. Would I be lucid too? But you know I lose all memory of it once you wake. Anyway, moving on
“Ok, I have names in my book as part of a list that I must ensure die.”
“So how do you do that?”
“I strike their name of, and think of a way they must die and they die.”
“Oh, like that anime Death note I saw on Animax?”
“Manga too, they pretty much got the concept right.”
“Teach me, how it is done.”
“See that woman over there? Her name is Radha Varma. Now this is her name on my list, and I strike it off. Now I want her to buy a DVD for her grand kids and watch it with them over a good meal. When she sleeps she must think that it is just some indigestion, but it will be a heart attack instead.”
And then there was a montage of us going around take people off his list. So while we were sitting in a place and I was going through his book, I saw my name on a page with an ellipse around it.
“Tell me, why my name is written here like that. What does it mean?”
“A circled name means that I was supposed to knock off the person, but didn’t”
 “So why did you let me go that time.”
“Six times in all, I had orders from up top that told me not to do so.”
“Like a close shave you mean? But I don’t remember six instances like that.”
“Only two, others were orders. A word of advice, you really need to start working out.”
“Dude, what the hell?”
And then he smiled and I woke up from my dream. It was around 0830 in the morning because I check for my mobile and spectacles when I get up. I called for mom and she was in the other room sweeping. So I told her that I dreamt of a ‘Yamdoot’ (the closest Hindi translation of an angel of death I could think of) and that he was told to let me off six times so far, and that he asked me to work out. She looks at me (probably thinking why of all possible kids, she had to get me) and tells me that I will listen to a Yamdoot, but not her. I had a sassy reply ready but seeing the broom in her hand, I did not push my luck for a seventh time.
Now I wonder if I can write my training as angel of death on my CV. 

Journey

I have a higher purpose in my few visits than to meet you. It is the journey itself that is more exhilarating than the end destination.  Time becomes flexible in my travels to meet you as I think of the time we have spent together. Not the conversations we had, but how they make me feel & how I hope they would make you.
People say that love is blind, and that when in love people don’t see other things. I never could understand it, and it never happens to me. I become conscious of everything around me. Of the wind that blows across my face as I sit near the window of the train and how I remember you adjusting the windswept bronze hair away from your eyes. Of the road on which the car runs and our drives on it while your body jerked when there were potholes while your bosom which reminds me of parabola and its equations jiggles on such roads. Of the bread that you ate, and how your lips spread into a smile of delight after they contorted themselves on it while you nibbled on the bread in glee.
My face betrays the high that I feel when I see your face for the first time on our meets. It makes me think of how obvious I become and wonder if you notice it. I like to notice things when we meet. The motion of your lips, the force with which you grip the spoon while you eat, the angle your legs make, and the curves of your body. How the expressions in your eyes change when I say something that makes you laugh, how you grip the handle of the door when you want to open it and clench your fingers about it. Gentle, yet determined. As if the door becomes an extension of yourself when you touch it, and there is no effort that you are applying to open it more than the effort you would take to move a step ahead yourself.
I like it when you start describing about what you do at work. How you can get lost in explaining something because of how much enjoyed being part of it. Part of creating something, of discovering something that was till yesterday unknown to us and how you unravelled it. The joy of being good at it, and not being sorry but passionate about it because it is what you want to do and how you want to do and that no other reason would suffice. Makes me think of how I feel like after a particularly tiring and productive day at work gets done. That I would want to be with you and talk to you about it. I wouldn’t want to teleport to your side to do that, no it would be too quick. I had this idea once that I would have something like Tony Stark’s armour as part of my case, which I would wear and fly up to meet you. Or maybe a blue lantern ring, that I could use to fly so that I can even feel the wind blow across my face while I fly to meet you.
One of these days I would like to take up one such trip to meet you, and then not meet you at all. I would just enjoy the journey and go to one of the places we would have, and sit all alone and amused at the possibilities the moment presented. I could continue sitting there, and over a cup of coffee write something like I am writing right now, or maybe through a stroke of chance you would come in and see me and call me stupid for not telling you that I had come.
I think of the moments just before leaving you. Of how I wish that time actually were that flexible, and I could hold on to that moment when we both embrace the finality of it, that we would both have to leave. I gather that since neither of us have such a control over time, we continue to appreciate such moments.
I. You.  

Riches

I was not born in to a poor family, but yet I know what it feels like to be poor, and rich. Well it depends upon on what time of the month you’re talking of.
I was never brought up in poverty, it’s just that things were either worth spending on, or not. So if something was needed it was bought, otherwise it was not thought of. The family consists of only mom and me, and back then she was the only earning in the family. Some time before college started she resigned from her job. It was a combination of the commute, work issues and her ailing health that lead to the decision. Besides, she had put in enough money in savings to put me through college. So it seemed like a sensible decision. Now that we look back, it still is. Even in college there was this certificate course I took up for learning Pro/E (which now that I think didn’t teach me any more than what a friend who knows how to use it), but I remember talking to mum about it and saying that it would add ‘weight’ to my resume (Sigh, pity) and the next day she asked me how much it was worth and gave that much to me and told me to pay the fees with it if I was interested in doing it. Similarly when it became necessary for me to purchase a laptop, she bought me one. Although I do remember, for the lack of a better word, nagging her for a new phone shortly after college started. I ended up purchasing a Nokia N72, a good phone, but a bad way of acquiring it.
So after I got my interview cleared and before job started, I thought that when salary starts coming in I should divide it in five parts. One part would be my own allowance and I spend it how I want without answering anyone. Second part would be an allowance for mom and likewise no questions asked on what she does with it. Third part would be for the expenses of the house and fourth would be saved up for something like a future education or a car or a house, whatever would catch my fancy. The fifth would go towards an emergency fund for those unforeseen times. If you look at it, the so called planning makes sense. It started out well, before as the use of past tense suggests, it went to nothingness. I have touched on this before, but soon I developed more expensive tastes and lesser inhibition. So my love for coffee would find me making daily visits to Barista for multiple cups of coffee (oh and they make some great coffee), cheese burst pizzas, gym to burn off the pizza and so on. Soon it developed in to a habit, and month ends would be accompanied by a decreasing availability of funds.
Sometime last year I got in the inevitable discussion of finances, and seeing my state of things and some of the poor decisions I had taken she asked questions that I could not properly answer as to where all that money really went. It was of course a not so neat discussion (forgive my use of the euphemism). Of course some time afterwards, better sense prevailed and I religiously siphon off money every month for saving. Sometimes it is not as much as I would like it, not as much as mom would want it, but then again I am now ‘richer’ than I was a year ago.
My so called improved habits are however a result of deliberate and conscious decisions. Some of them every day. Do I still want to go and have loads of coffee, pick up every book, movie and game that has my fancy? At the back of my mind I do, and it is a decision with the thought that “No, that money must be saved for something else. Something larger”

Same Pinch

I take the company bus to work every day. Well every day that I wake up on time that is; otherwise I have to request one of the senior managers who live around to give me a lift in their car to which they comply. My stop is at a Domino’s near my house where I catch the bus from. The other day I got up particularly early and instead of spending time in the bath tub or sleeping I got ready, made myself some green tea and left early so that I could wait at the stop and catch a read.
So there was a group of kids nearby standing outside their school (on the way to my stop) and since I didn’t have my ear phones on as I usually do I could hear what they were talking as I passed. One of them ended up doing a ‘same pinch’ to the other. To those of you unaware of it, this is what you do when someone has something same as you do or does something same. Should you call dibs on it, you can pinch the other person and say ‘Same pinch’. Kids in my time used to do that often. I was in one of my better moods and the following conversation came to my mind and I thought that I should you know, give it a shot.
Me: Hi, How are you?
She: Fine, you?
Me: So far so good. Do you have a boy friend?
She: Umm…. No, why do you ask?
Me: Neither do I… Same Pinch (in a voice of glee)
She:
Now I have spoken of this to only two of my female friends, both on chat, and they both LOLed at it. This could be however for the fact that we were on chat, and they were probably staring at the screen with a wonder as to why they haven’t gone offline or invisible yet. Or maybe they just share my sense of humor. I gather it’s that and that in person they wouldn’t beat the crap out of me.
On the way to work in the bus, I could think of two other ways how this conversation could lead to
Me: Do you have a boy friend?
She: No, why do you ask?
Me: Neither do I… Same Pinch (in a voice of glee)
She: Ah… Do you have a girl friend?
Me: No, Same pinch?
She: No, but now you know why you don’t
And the other one:
Me: Do you have a boy friend?
She: Umm…. No, why do you ask?
Me: Neither do I… Same Pinch (in a voice of glee)
She: … Do you have a girl friend?
Me: No
Together: SAME PINCH

Self

I like to see the lights from my window on the sixth floor here. There’s something about a light away in the darkness that just cheers me up. Maybe it’s the idea that there’s someone out there. If you go to the terrace of the apartment building, you can see a fertilizer factory in the far. It has these flames that shoot up every now and then like a girl that giggles when someone is whispering something flattering in her ears. There’s Iggy Pop playing on the laptop with AC DC to follow. I like them both. I remember once I had a particularly bad day at work. So I got down from the bus a couple of stops before my stop, and started walking in the centre of the road divider because it was breezy. I had my ear phones on with Highway on Hell playing at that time. I broke in to this mini jig and people from the bus were staring at me. I just smiled back at them and some of them laughed back. We have a tea break every day at work now, and they take me more seriously at work now. Funny how that worked out. But I like that J



Mom isn’t a fan of Rock. It’s too loud and some of it has too much of yelling for her liking. She doesn’t listen to any English music though. She likes more of old school hindi music. She still has most of her tapes she made when she was young, and they are many. She plans to transfer them all to a disc sometime in the future. She asked me to teach her how to do so.  Mom has done loads for me. But right now things are not that great between us. Strained. It’s not her fault, she’s just hurt by some of the things I have done in the recent past. She just wants me to get married and settle down soon, so that things pan out well for me. I don’t want to get married so soon, I haven’t even found a girl yet. There’re so many chocolates and coffees that are still to be shared after I find her. Lying on a carpet on the terrace and talking while staring at the stars as the cool wind blows by. Silly of course, it is the wind that blows. Had it been stationary it would have been just air. There’s this friend that I like who loves chocolates, but nothing mixed in it. No Nuts, no fruity flavours, just plain old rich chocolate. I haven’t met some like that yet. I find it interesting. If you’re reading this, I hope you blush. That would be a nice sight.

But then don’t we all have such things, things that make us exquisite. Like how I talk to myself and laugh at my own jokes in the bath. That freaks mom out by the way, but she’s used to it now. Oh and some of my friends after reading my last blog entry thought that something is wrong with me. I mean yes, quite a bit of the story hits close to me, but that is because it is easier to write that way. No I am not considering suicide. I just get all morbid ideas at times. I find that fascinating. I love myself too much to think of killing myself. Nuh uh. Wish you were here is playing now. It’s my favourite Floyd song. It is soothing to reach out to some one, to wish they were here. It’s almost 0230 in the AM now. Looks like I will be spending the rest of the time listening to music till I have to get ready and leave for work. I will catch a wink on the bus to work, so that I don’t doze off at work. That would be embarrassing. I will take a nice window seat and sleep as the cool morning breeze caresses me. I always find the wind soothing. Of the classical elements, it is my favourite.
Oh well, that is all about me. Do tell me about yourself too. I’d like that, some one reading this and writing a bit about themselves. Getting to know random people. Wonderful.

This is in response to WEEK #54 (5-27-12 to 6-2-12): Selfat BGE2

Two days ago

Two days ago was Friday, and Fridays are fun. I like the notion of weekends, where in you can kick back and enjoy the fruits of the week that went by. I didn’t understand it when Mom tried explaining to me when I was younger that I cannot enjoy something if I have not worked for it. Normally Friday night is spent catching up on the latest movie in the cinema with friends and chatting away till the wee hours. This Friday I came back from work a bit late due to some trials that I had to do to understand something. I have this huge bathtub in this new apartment I have rented with a friend and I thoroughly enjoy it. I lay in it as it filled up with cold relaxing water. Since it was a particularly tiring day, I filled it up till only my nose was above the water so that I could breathe. It is a wonderful feeling, everything just goes silent. Then slowly you can hear your own body, your heart and lungs pumping, the blood flowing. Soon the environment follows and I can hear sounds from the home below: a trace of the song the kid is head banging to, clanging of some vessels and I wonder what is being cooked.


This Friday most of the friends that live nearby were away for some reason, but I was not alone. I spend the time talking away with a friend on the phone. (Such a wonderful thing the phone is, I take it for granted some times. No matter where I am, I can message, talk, surf and do many more things with it. A wonderful thing about the people I like is that I can talk to them for hours. Sometimes it’s just being with them, not talking, just being.) Talking away till either of us feels sleepy or bored. Friday evening was also spent drinking ice cold water as the cold wind blew in from the window. I first noticed the ice cold water in The Big Bang Theory in one of the episodes where they are eating at the cheese cake factory. A glass of water filled with cubes of ice and then water in whatever space is left.

So what did you do two days ago?

Guilt

There are many emotions and feelings that drive us human beings. Some for the better, some for the worse. Amongst them is guilt. This is the feeling you get when you feel yourself responsible or are made to feel responsible for unfortunate turn of events. There may be many reasons for one to feel this. May be someone failed to achieve a personal goal, may be they didn’t get good grades, may be they let someone down. The causes and effects of guilt can be many. I’ll tell you about mine. Or at least try to.

Given my own set of talents and skills with some above average I don’t have a great academic record. My parents, teachers and some friends have always cited this and tried to make me feel about this. I guess the lowest point was when I flunked two subjects in the second year of my college. Sure Mom was mad, it was the talk of the day in the staff, friends were taken back, and even I was sullen for two days. Not guilty mind you. Academics never interested me that much. Sure I know most of the things that are taught and made to be learned. That’s the whole point of going to school and college. But somehow I never got interested in exams. I mean I know that if I didn’t prepare well for the exams, I was bound to not excel it. I just did enough to get through fine. This was echoed by a former principal who called mom to the office and said that I was only studying MINIMUM during the exams to pass. When mom told me of it, I think I sported a big grin. During the time I failed in college and went all sullen it was not out of guilt. I was thinking that I could get so miserable that I didn’t clear two subjects that I didn’t particularly like. And the fact that I’d have to do it all again, which effectively laid waste to six months worth of time that had to be devoted to a subject. So I got down to it, and cleared all my subjects within time having taken them as extra exam only subjects. Maybe it has to do with the fact that all my preparations for it, which were a known conscious decision.

Or another thing happens with the times I talk with some of the ‘elder’ people, be it in our outside of my family relations. Some people don’t like how forthcoming I can get at times. I have told teachers to their face when I believe that they’re wrong. When discussions get interesting and I get to say my say, I am told that I should treat them with respect and should feel guilty for my words. I cannot get how the only criteria for respect should be age. And why should I feel guilty about not following it. Their standards not mine.

Many times shame and guilt are along the same lines. When I was young, innocent and gullible and teachers used to ask me don’t you have any shame, I was in a dilemma. You see I didn’t know the meaning of the word shame. So when I said yes, they tried to invoke the feeling of shame and guilt in me which I couldn’t feel as much as I tried. So in turn when I said no, oh there was a whole lot of trouble. Somehow that feeling has remained stuck to me ever since.

When it comes to work it’s a different thing. Some time ago we had an internal calibration and preparation audit for an audit that was supposed to take place sometime around late December. So when our auditors came for it and we went to different workstations to get audited, some results and observations showed lack of preparedness. I was directly responsible for some. I had multiple things to get done and prioritized accordingly. Sure it turned out to be wrong, and that I had to hear something for it, I am not against that. I had to make some choices, I made the wrong ones. I can live with that. My immediate boss was also along with me as an auditee that time. SO the auditors then said that it was understandable that there was lack of preparedness as I am new and would have issues managing the shift operations and the preparedness and they slowly turned some things on him. That really got to me. That’s where the guilt began creeping in. I mean I screwed up, so why should I be excused for the reason that I am new. I am new so what, that does not make me any less accountable for my work. And then that some things ended up on my boss. Why should others be blamed or held for my work? If my work is to be reflected on, then it should be me. My boss has shown great trust in me by taking forward steps in guiding me to the ways of the work and lets me take responsibilities head on when I want to. And after all that if my lack of work should somehow make him to look bad, then I feel guilty.

My work should be a reflection of me. My bads should not necessarily reflect on my boss. Saying that would reduce my own accountability. I may be new at work but that does not excuse me for not getting work done on time. I may give my best at times but if it doesn’t get the work done, that I have not given enough. And if I have not given enough I have not succeeded. And should the shadow of my failure be cast upon someone else, I’ll feel guilty.

The beautiful thing about guilt is that try as much as you may as long as the said person doesn’t feel a gut wrenching remorse about his or her inadequacies from the inside you cannot make them feel guilty. There’s whole big factor of the said person’s own standards.