Dear Old man who sat next to me on the bus,
Of course I don’t know if you actually read my blog, because I never mentioned my blog in our conversation in the bus. If by some means you did stumble upon my blog, neither of us do know for sure that it is the other person on the other side of the screen. Maybe this letter is something that might hit a familiar chord with you.
You and I met on a bus ride from Ahmedabad to Baroda one evening years ago. The bus was incredibly slow and took almost twice the time it normally takes. Both of us could have still not had had this conversation, had my mobile not been on low battery. I generally keep my earphones on, or use some app if I am not sleeping on the bus. On account of not having a good charge, I pulled out a book from my bag. I still remember that it was ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by ‘Ayn Rand’.
You could have kept to yourself but luckily for us, your curiosity got the better of you. You asked me with wonder how people of my age were reading the book. I confess that my initial feeling was that of contempt, primarily at the idea of being disturbed by a stranger while I was reading. However, better sense prevailed, and I told you that this book had been a recommendation from my mentor. He had in fact repeatedly insisted that I do read it.
While we did discuss the book, as to why I liked it and why you didn’t, you began to ask me about my job. It was a different manner in which you asked questions. We discussed processes, systems and control mechanisms. How the cost spent quality control ends up more than paying for itself in the long run, and what your personal experiences had been about it from your time at your own work place.
To this day, it remains one of the freest flowing discussion I have ever had with a stranger. Thank you, for the conversation that day. Thank you for the time that felt that it passed faster than it did, and for the re-assurance that not all old people who chat with you have marriage or settling down to discuss.
I wrote this for the 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to a stranger. Other bloggers can add the links to their posts in the linky below:
Inspired from the look back shared by Facebook on the occasion of turning 10, Aparna wrote a post with a look back on the last 5 years of her life. She went on tag some of her friends (including me) and I had committed to her that I would take participate and write a post of my own.
As part of the tag, I have to share:
1. Write 5 happy moments.
2. Write 5 sad/regretted moments. (Only place where you may write less – who wants to remember the sad moments)
3. Write 5 goals that you achieved.
4. Write 5 other events or moments you would like to share.
5. 5 other moments or goals you would like in the next 5 years.
Here are mine:
I was promoted this year to the designation of Deputy Manager (from Assistant Manager). This was in light of the change in my job profile that had happened at the beginning of the year. The new profile has brought more responsibilities than the previous one.
I finally bought a domain. Initially I wanted to by a domain based on my pen name, but it was not available. I thought over and came up with this domain name, and linked it to my blog.
I made a trip to Jaipur, and spent time with my cousins. Helped mom in some holiday shopping just before Diwali, and spent quite some time photographing the streets of Jaipur.
Surprised mom on her birthday by coming to Ahmedabad at midnight with a cake. Before cutting the cake, she took time to chide me for traveling at such an hour: P .After cutting the cake, she asked if I am hungry and would like a warm meal. I just ate more of the cake instead. The day was spent out, with me taking her to watch a movie and do some shopping.
A friend from office invited a bunch of us to his place in the village. We took a road trip to his place. We started the day by spending time at the river bank. After all the fun and bathing in the river, I could steal some time to visit some cotton plantations, and mango orchards. We spent the evening under the open skies, in the comforts of a cool breeze. His family cooked a wonderful dinner using some traditional family recipes.
I made a big mess of my personal finances. Took some stupid decisions, and some careless. The good thing is that most of it is in the past.
Discussions that follow when people ask of my marriage plans. Sometimes it ends up with heated discussions with mom. The two of us have such different schools of thought about it, and I have to exercise self-control to no say something that will blow things up, and yet put my point across.
Since I live in a rented accommodation in Baroda, I have to shift every year (or other year). I have lost so many things in said shifting process. A chopping board, some undergarments, chop sticks, topes, and more.
I have been working for almost 5 years now. In my earlier days of the job, I had more free time and a freer mind at home to catch up on my reading and movies. I read more now than I read just after starting work, but am not able to devote as much time as I would like to.
Not buying a house. When I had started my job, there were a couple of houses I could have bought via home loan. It was easier to manage the EMI than it is now, on account of their ever increasing price.
Goals that I achieved:
Learn how to bake a cake. I can now bake a cake all by myself, without any help from mom. Earlier I used to help in the mixing of the dough, and everything else (including the proportions) was managed by her. Now, I do it all by myself.
Learn how to use chopsticks. This has been more on account of finding a place called Jojo’s café in Baroda which serves wonderful momos and Thukpa.
Restart blogging. I had given up blogging after Yahoo! 360 had shutdown. I have resumed, with this blog and one on Blogger before. While I am not posting as regularly as I did on 360 (where I posted on alternate days), I spend time reading and commenting on the blogs I follow.
Running in Vadodara Half Marathon. I did not participate in the entire lap, but for the ‘fun-run’ lap. The experience was tiring, but wonderful.
Buying a laptop and cell phone(s). I spend a lot of time with my laptop and cellphone, and before I started working the same were paid for by mom. It brought immense satisfaction to buy one for myself, and a smart phone for mom.
Other events/ moments:
After living alone for about a year, I moved in with 2 roommates as it would mean getting a better place but at the same cost, since the rent would be divided. Have forged a wonderful friendship with one of them.
After sharing a place for more around 3 years with him, I have now moved out and live in a different place alone. We didn’t have any falling out, and are still the same friends. Now that I look back, there were just so many things that I took for granted. We had a maid, so the vessels and clothes were washed by her. Sometimes he would pick up the glass I left on the table, or the pillows that were kept in the living room. It’s not that I didn’t do all that before when I lived alone, but to do so again after being used to not doing it, feels tiresome.
Some of the wonderful chat sessions that I spent with blog and Facebook friends, whom I have not met in person. It is fascinating how one connects with another, and the flow of conversation that follows.
After faithfully collecting issues of more than 5 years of the periodical magazine ‘Digit’ which covers computers and technology, I sold them all off. The collection was too much to manage as I was searching for things on the internet instead of going through its issues.
I started watching Masterchef, and find it to be a reality show that is enjoyable because of all the food in it.
Moments or goals for the next 5 years:
Learn how to swim. It seems so wonderful to be able to spend time in pools swimming instead of just sticking to the banks where the water is waist high.
Learn how to drive a car. I know, this is embarrassing on account of me being an automobile engineer. I can ride a bicycle very well, but nothing more than that. It will also serve as a manner of convenience
Learn to knead dough and make Rotis and parathas properly. As of now, I end up with too little or too much of it and make a big mess as well.
Take a vacation to visit some of my blog and Facebook friends in person.
Lose weight and get in a better shape. I am obese. While I haven’t bothered much about the appearance, but the fitness has begun to worry me now.
Some of my most comfortable travel trips have been by train or bus. Not that I have not travelled by an air plane before, air planes are quick and cover the same distance covered by trains in ten hours in one hour. However I don’t get the same sense of joy from them. Train rides are a different experience in to them.
I generally plan a train ride with at least two books, of which I am likely to read only one. One can also read a book in the flight, but the duration of it so small that one cannot read much. A typical train ride for the places I usually visit is 10 hours or so. So I can spend at least 3 hours of it reading. I like to sit with me back to the back rest, leg stretched out in front of me and a book in my hands while the wind blows in from the window. The wind blowing on my face is such a comfortable feeling, which is another reason why I am partial to trains and busses. I read a little, and sometimes pause and look out the window and enjoy the changing landscape from city to fields and city. This also one reason why I don’t finish my reading as I tend to engrossed in the changing views and the cool breeze lulls me to sleep. It is much more comfortable to sleep in a train or a sleeper bus than an airplane seat.
Another aspect of train travels that I enjoy is the food. I had taken mom to Jaipur just before Diwali. Mom lived in Jaipur before getting married, and her brother and sister still live there. We had gone for some Diwali shopping this year. I was excited about the Palanpur Railway station to have its famous Puri-sabji when the train would stop there, and the rabdi at the Abu Road Railway station later. There’s tea and gajak at Ajmer, bhajiyas at Mehsana, and so on. Each state has its fair share of the local food that one gets on the railway stations, or from the sellers who board the train.
I haven’t been to many road trips myself. The few that I have been to were so long ago, that I was too young to appreciate them and have any memorable experiences. But I do know of friends who would rather a car down to wherever they plan to go. It gives you a more interactive experience, where you can choose to stick to the highways or try and go through the cities as well. You’re closer the local flavor and stop to eat the highway dhabas.
Sometimes I tend to think, what does it mean to travel? I don’t remember when I last travelled. If you look at the definition of the term, then it means to move from one place to another. By that definition, I had travelled to Jaipur this year to help mom in shopping, or to Pune earlier for work. But Jaipur also had me going to my family’s home (mum’s side) and Pune was a business trip. I have begun to associate travel with leisure. So while I may have travelled in the technical sense of the term, it was not a leisurely or vacationing manner.
I know people who are serial travelers. They undertake a leisurely trip at least twice a year. These include some blogger friends, and a colleague from work who makes at least a small trip every three months. These are people who have itchy feet, and like to visit new places, marvel at the sights and sounds of a new place, and absorb the culture over there. Travelling to a different city or country can be such an enlightening experience, where the people, food, smells and culture are far different from where you live. It seems at time like an entirely different world to learn from.
I have been meaning to travel to escape for some time now. A travel to escape, albeit temporarily from the drudgeries of everyday life and routine. I understand that vacationing with family and friends is fun, and will do that as well. Mom for instance had a wonderful time in Jaipur this year. But this a trip I would want to make alone or with a select friend or two. I don’t plan to do much. I think some days might just have me lazing around in the room, or be in a garden or on the beach with my book reading something at peace. I would love to sample most of the local cuisine. The street food appeals to me as much as fine dining in a different city. I even consider visiting a place where I have blogger friends who are very close to me, but whom I have not in person (yet or for a long time).
A travel where I am myself and in the company of those whom I enjoy to be with.