Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Learning Lanes

I went out for a volunteer event earlier today. That turned out to be a disaster with me not being able to locate the bus that was to take me to ADNEC. The event coordinator wasn't any help either. I hadn't felt this bad in quite a while. I took a bus to Khalidiya Mall which was where I had to board the ADNEC bus from. I found myself at profound grief when I couldn't recognize the bus stops in Abu Dhabi. I didn't know where I was or where to get down. 17 years and you may think I would remember Abu Dhabi like a cycle balance. As Chandler would say it, "Could I be any more wrong?".

On the way back home, my mind was clouded with absurd thoughts of betrayal. I wondered how I could so easily forget the roads of the place that was home to me for all my life.
When I reached home, I told my mother about the agitation in my mind. Her reply put me in a juxtaposed situation. She said, 
"You used to always mess up the buses and the bus stops in Abu Dhabi. You never learned them in order to forget them. So, don't you worry!"
I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to feel at ease or feel more troubled.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Witnessing Terror

It was March 08, 2013. Our First Semester exams had finally begun. The French exam was scheduled to be held at 02:00 PM. Since it was a language we had very little clue about, we decided to cool off our heads by going for lunch at a nearby hotel. It was around 01:00 when we left the hotel fully fed and content. I am pretty sure we would have stayed there fifteen minutes longer; had we known what was to be witnessed next.

The road that led to my college was a dingy one-way-sized road. As most of the roads in India, it was used as a two way road. The drivers just adjusted to it like they were supposed to. I, along with my three friends was in a heated discussion of something that I just cannot bring myself to remember. We were nearing the Church and we noticed a big yellow painted bus parked on the side of the already small road. Girls were getting out of the bus and forming a big crowd to its side. The road was otherwise empty. A pretty girl (I call her pretty here out of belief for I cannot remember her face either) with long hair was standing in front of the bus. We hadn’t actually noticed her then. But our unconscious mind had taken in the image of it all.

Within a moment, a screech was heard and everything happened in a few swift seconds; like a slow motion action flick. I find myself reliving it all over again as I write each word. The earlier mentioned girl had run to the other side of the road. Since the huge bus had taken up half the road width, a bike that had come from the other side was taken by surprise when the girl emerged from behind the bus. The screech was from the friction between the tires of the bike and the road as the rider pressed the breaks. The bike hit the lanky girl and she flew above the bike and hit her head on a nearby post. The bike fell onto the road and seemed to rotate on the ground. Some big chuck broke off the bike and flew over the bus. My eyes were glued on the girl as she bounced back into a curve and sat motionless on the road. The only thing that moved was the blood that trickled all over her face. A second of stillness.

The extremity of it all was too much for my friend to handle and she turned around, covering her face. That was when our senses triggered and we ran towards the girl. We panicked. Her friends rushed over. Half of them were already crying. Within seconds, men came running from everywhere and picked the girl up. A car that was approaching was stopped and she was taken to the Medical College in it. That was when I noticed the boy that had ridden the bike. He was badly hurt too. His jeans were severely torn with his flesh exposed. His face was a bleeding mess. He could barely stand up. The next approaching bike was stopped and he was helped by the others to sit on it.

A huge crowd had gathered by then and people were talking. There was blood on the road and everyone wanted to know what happened. I could hardly make out some words from a girl that was crying bitterly on her friend’s shoulder. She said something about asking ‘her’ not to cross the road yet. I looked at my friends. We wanted to get out of that scene. We didn’t want to answer all those questions that the strangers were throwing at us. Holding hands, we walked towards the college… away from it all.

We casually mentioned to our friends that an accident had taken place on the road. We didn’t say anything more. The intensity of having to witness an accident for the first time had tired us down. We walked to the exam hall and continued with our day. We tried not to talk about it again. Boy! Wasn’t that a Herculean task!

I went straight to the railway station to get home after the exam. I didn’t want to linger around. Vishnu called me an hour later to tell me that the girl was in a critical stage. Next day, Nilu called to tell me that the girl was in coma. The one call that I hoped not to get arrived within the next few hours. The girl had passed away.

And that was that. My mind replayed the whole incident over and over. I wanted it to stop. And the only way I knew to be relieved of a story is by sharing it. This is my escape into reality.

I still can’t help but think that it could have easily been us. The bike could have swerved to the left instead and it would have been me or any one of my friends. What they say is so right.

Today it is me.
Tomorrow it is you.

And I just can’t stop saying it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Elementary School Shooting

I rushed to the elementary school to find my son. I was worried sick since the moment I got the phone call. I was already crying because I had a horrible feeling in my gut. I got to the school and found my little baby boy weeping next to a police car. His teacher, who was also in tears, handed him over to me with a weak smile. I hugged him and showered him with kisses. I picked him up and got into my car. On our way home, I had a change of mind and went to his favourite Ice Cream shop. I bought him the biggest one that he had always cried for. I had never bought it for him before since I knew he wouldn't be able to finish it and he would have to throw it away. As I had guessed, he ate just a part of it and we threw away the rest. Then, I took him to the beach and let him go a little closer to the water as he wished. Then I took him home and watched cartoon with him all day long. For dinner, we had nuggets and fries. Before he went to bed, I gave him his Christmas presents- all of it- even though there were 10 more days left for Christmas. I let him sleep late that night.

Earlier that day, as I drove to the elementary school, all I could think about was how I wouldn't be able to watch the excitement in my son’s face as he opened his Christmas presents. Maybe I had half a decade left to live with him. But maybe all I had was today.

For you never know… some maniac may turn up at your son’s elementary school and shoot him.

Friday, November 2, 2012

180 Characters And A Jail Pass

The Indian cyber world has been going agog since the news of the arrest of  IAC (India Against Corruption) activist Ravi Srinivasan on November 1st for posting a tweet against Karti Chidambaram, the son of finance minister P. Chidambaram has been released. Turns out there is a law that is against people publishing something online that is offensive that defames another person. If that was the case (and if the Indian government actually checked online) majority of the Indians would be behind the cold bars for the above said offense.
I find this quite absurd and disturbing that a free country like India has an act that curbs the freedom of speech. I believe that a man should be free to voice his opinion with no distinction between whether the opinion is acceptable or not. If no negative opinions are to be released, people would suffer as there would be no one to react against the unscrupulous corrupt acts of the government.

 Ravi Srinivasan has refused to apologize or take back his opinion. Good going, I would say. I hope this doesn't make the Indians take a step back from reacting against what is wrong. You can still find his tweet stating, “@ravi_the_indian: got reports that karthick chidambaram has amassed more wealth than vadra.” in his twitter account. Too bad he didn't realize that a 180 character tweet sent out to his 16 followers would land him in jail. Next time I tweet about my cat’s foul smell, I will make sure to ask him before hand whether such a tweet would put him in deep distress.

PS. He is now released on bail.

PSS. I don’t have a cat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Touch With Feminism

Feminism had always fascinated me for I believe that I wouldn’t be able to sit here typying this out if it weren’t for the feminists that fought for gender equality years back. Recently, I came across something that brought out the feminist in me. Nothing much, but do read on.

I was on my way to my hostel after the weekend at home. I was at the railway station waiting to board the bus to medical college. The bus was so packed that there was barely any space left to breath. As I got on, I noticed that four men were sitting on the seats parallel to the driver’s seat. In India, those seats are usually reserved for women. In a country where the mightiest wins, this is a necessity. Just to confirm; I was new to being a residential Indian, I asked a woman standing at the tip on my nose whether those seats where reserved for women. She nodded in agreement as her hair went up my nose. I pushed forward and asked those men whether those seats were reserved for women. At first they didn’t seem bothered by my presence. But as I continued my “How could you?!” stare, one man turned and said, “mole avidey ninnondi” (girl, you stand there), in his funny dialect. I stood there and repeated my question.

Finally, my presence started to cause a stir in their personal space and they slowly got up. Not a second were the seats left without an ass on it. The moment the men got up, five ladies jumped at the occasion and sat in the newly discovered seats.

Me? Oh well I was left standing.

Ee penn vargam... nannaavoolla. Orikkalum.
(The women clan… will never develop. Ever.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Freshers' Day- Part II (The Programme)

Read Part I before you read Part II.

The programme started with a welcome speech and then the seniors took to the stage. They called a guy from my class and gave him the first task; to hold a mic and lip-sync with a song they were going to play. They played "Gangeeeeey", sung horrbily by some senior. The guy lip synced quite well and that put off the programme to a good start. Then a senior, AJ, as I would refer to him from now on, and another senior, a girl, got on stage for a dance... a love duet. It was a slow song and it went on beautifully. The couple swayed romantically along with the song. AJ looked quite bored. Maybe a little embarrassed. After the dance was nearly over, the couple walked off the stage, with a flower in their hand, swaying to the music. They approached to the freshers crowd extending the flower in their hand. AJ came towards me, and my friends started nudging me. Some idiots called out my name and I felt a blush peeping in. Our eyes met, he smiled and then he turned, walked back and gave his flower to one of my clasmates, Anu. ET TU BRUTE? I swear!
The girl gave her flower to Harsh, my friend. Anu and Harsh were brought forward to the stage. They now had to do another couples dance to a love song. The dance went on gracefully with such elegance that they looked like Romeo and Juliet during their secret meetings. They ended the dance with Harsh nearly on the ground, presenting the flower to Anu. The task was so well done that it was the most applauded task among the others. I still tell Harsh that if he had given me the flower, I would have said yes a million times.
There was a loud applause from behind as a line of boys-dressed as girls- walked into the hall. They wore 'chattayum mundum' and golden earrings. They started dancing around the vilakku. As the song neared to its end, it changed its tracks and the barbie song sarted playing. The guys put on shades and starting jiggling to the barbie song. All in all, it was a crazy, funny routine.

The rest of the juniors got called up one by one or in groups. The remaining freshers thinned by the minute. One fresher was asked to drape an other guy in sari. It was quite the fashion with no pleats or folds or anything. It barely covered up the guy.

I was up somewhere towards the end, along with my roommate. This is the lame part. They asked us to rest a ball behind us and walk to the end of the stage. An easy -and did I mention lame?- task. As we reached the end of the stage, they said, "OK, you can go and sit." That was it? THAT WAS IT? It did not reach even one percentile of my expectations. Though I did not ever want to go up to the stage and dance or sing, I expected something better.

As the program came to an end, the first years' were asked to proceed to room number 210. It was time to eat. Two girls that were fasting went home. I didn't go since all my friends were there and I usually walked back with them. Though I had broken my fast earlier, I couldnt eat. I didn't care about all the guys in my class... but I was really bothered about what the random muslim boys outside would think. A girl usually doesn't fast only at particular times in a month. No, I wasn't going to let ANY boy think of me that way. Thus I continued my fast and helped the other guys eat by serving them. It was fun, I won't complain.

Later on, on my way out of the college, I asked one of the second year student why they had given me such a lame task to do. "Because you wear a scarf, we assumed you to be the silent type." Silent? Me?
For heaven's sake, please don't judge me by my head gear. I am anything but silent. I have three years in this college right... I'll show you. Oh i'll definitely show you. 

Freshers Day- Part I (My Marathon)

Freshers' day is a day celebrated to welcome the first year students into the campus. It was a long wait for me and it finally took place yesterday. The programme was organized by the senior students of the english department. The students had had their Freshers' day a week back and that had created quite the stir among the other students. We were informed at around 12:00 that they were giving us the party at 2:30 in the Chavara Hall. Anxiety and fear wreaked in the classroom. And thus, I begin the small story of excitement, fun and a bit of swearing.
It was 1:30 and the French period had just started. Our old and retired French sir walked in and started his usual speech in broken English about 'vous avez' and 'nous avon' (lets hope that how it's spelt). All of a sudden I felt a pull in my stomach. I nearly screamed. It felt like a pac man was gnawing at the flesh of my stomach. I felt nauseated. My friend, Abhi, kept on calling me from behind to let me know of some new joke that he had come up with. As funny as the joke was, I wanted to ask him to shut up. Suppressing the scrutiating pain, I waited for the class to get over. It was 2:30 and I had a choice to either go to my hostel and have my medicine or go for the Freshers Day party, taking in the pain.

I felt angry and betrayed by my body. And that's when the swearing started. "Fuck my life" I said as I got up from my seat. "What?", asked Vishnu, quite alarmed at my agitation. "I'm going home. This fucking pain is killing me. I may kill someone, anyone. If AJ asks, tell him I went home. Bye." And I stormed off. I walked... nearly ran to my hostel. I took the shortcut that I was told not to take and ran as fast as I could. This Freshers Day would not come around again and I knew I was going to miss it. On the way, a man, in a comment like way, asked me, "engottekka moley ottam?" (Girl, where are you running to?). "Goooo dieeee" I sang in a low voice. Please don't give me that look. I was really frustrated.

It was 2:45 when I reached my hostel. I broke my fast by  taking a pill and fell on the bed. I was dripping in sweat and I could barely breath. I laid there for 10 minutes and then I was up and ready to go. I felt calmer and more energetic. I changed into another salwar and I started my marathon run again. I reached the college by 3:10. My next task was to find where the Chavara Hall was. I asked a senior I saw on the way and she gladly pointed it out to me.

I reached the hall right when the principal was getting down from the stage after delivering his speech. Lucky me, I was on time. I took a seat behind Vishnu. She looked really surprized that I had made it back. I, myself was surprised.

And I finally felt glad that I was after all not going to miss the party that I had waited for so long.