Dua mein yaad rakhunga!

Dealing with autorickshaw drivers is a pain and most of us have shared stories about good or bad experiences with them in different cities. But again, Mumbai has its hatke charm in each and everything. 

So, one evening I was returning home from my dance class. It was slightly late and after a good wait for 20 minutes, one guy was ready to drop me till my place. I was almost thankful that he allowed me to get inside his amazingly modified auto rickshaw. Yes, on the outside it had some green lighting on the rear wheels. Inside, there were these weirdly tall seats, well-cushioned but with bright and huge printed design on them. He had a loud music system on and a noticeable playlist connected from his phone. Ab jaake aya mere bechein dil ko karaar …

On such a tiring day, finding an auto was a relief for me, just for 10 seconds. After that, I realized the condition of the engine was not as decorated and well-maintained as the body of this autorickshaw. It started with a jerk and then the turns were mini roller-coaster rides.

Now, this person was young, an average-looking boy. Probably, a junior college drop-out. But then he started talking! No, I have no problem with people talking about random things. I am not one of those who’d pretend to be deaf if a driver wants to have a small talk. But I had to ask him to keep talking while he also focuses on the road. Thankfully, he agreed and didn’t look back again. I was relieved, just for about 10 seconds. 

Main toh raste se jaa raha tha … Bhel puri kha raha tha …

I noticed that the numbers on the meter kept blinking continuously and were only partially visible. Just the top part of the numbers was visible. I was alarmed and asked him about it immediately. He was surprised too! After pulling over to the side, he checked the meter. I asked him, “Bhaiya, ab paise kitane loge aap?”. He replied, “Madam, wait. Dekhne do. Umm, let me have a look.” Yes, that is exactly what he said. He tried working through some wires. It didn’t work. He simply got in and started driving. I asked him about the money. He said, “Madam, you … can pay ugghh me the money whhhich you pay daily. I am new and the auto is not my own.” After I deciphered what he was saying, I told him that I usually take an auto on this route and I pay this amount. He agreed to drop me till my destination. I was relieved for just 10 seconds, again. 

I don’t know how I got here. I knew it wouldn’t be easy …

Thankfully, we were close to my place. But then this guy lowered the volume and continued talking to me. He told me that he had taken auto rickshaw driving training from one of his neighbors just a month back. I swallowed and held the side bar little tightly. He continued telling me that he has also enrolled for a correspondence degree from a college. I was happily impressed. He went on saying, “Madam, aaj kal na communication ich sab kuch hota hein. I need to improve my English speaking.” I was amazed by his efforts to speak in English. He asked me few words from the song. He told me that he remembers the words and looks for their meanings in an app that he has downloaded on his isssmartphone! 

Finally, we had reached my society. I felt a strange pride in having spoken to this boy who had the guts to challenge his destiny and work hard to fulfill his dreams. I paid him a little extra just to support his hard work in my own way. His response, “Thank you so very much, Madam. You have a kind heart. Dua mein yaad rakhunga!” I was laughing till I reached my door. 

I remember all of the things that I thought I wanted to be …

It isn’t a life-changing incidence but a memorable one for me.

Bang! That was my phone …

So, I usually take a train from Mumbai to Pune. I know, people take buses usually but I have my theories for taking the trains.

A month back, I was seated in the women’s coach on my reserved seat heading home. I wished myself a happy journey and started reading the book I was carrying with me. 

A lady sat on the corner seat next to me. I was reading and munching on some biscuits. I offered her some and she happily took two of them. We exchanged smiles and I was back to my book. After a while, I got up to keep the half packet of biscuits in my sack which was kept on the luggage shelf. I had a sling bag on my shoulder with the essentials like a bottle of water, wallet, phone, earphones and other little things. I sat back and after a couple of minutes I realized that my phone was missing. I checked my bag repeatedly. I checked the sack as well, just in case if I had kept the phone with the biscuits. No!

And, then I realized that the well-dressed lady was missing too! Women around me started telling me to look here or there. Under the seat, above the seat, in my pockets but hey, it was a big enough phone. 5.8” screen. Close to me just like my baby. I had completely personalized it and more than anything, I had my 2 months, unbacked-up, writings in it. Thousands of photos, online wallets and everything. My life system! 

I was panicking. Someone said that lady is nowhere to be seen. Ask her once she is back. I thought she must have gone to use the washroom but she took too long to come back. Or never to come back! I started looking for her. Someone told me the direction she was last seen heading toward. Yellow saree was my first search criteria. Each cubicle that I was passing by. Yellow dupatta – no, yellow dress – no. Finally, I saw a yellow saree in the next coach. I rushed toward it. She saw me and started getting up. I quickly went up to her and asked if she had seen my phone which was missing since she left the seat.

She started yelling at me, “kya samjhte ho aap? Hum kya chor lagte hein apko?” I said things, she replied. Finally, a police constable heard us and asked for the entire episode. After I narrated it, she asked the lady to cooperate and let her check the ladies’ belongings for the phone. I was relieved and hopeful. Three of us started heading toward the women’s coach and the washroom there. As we were passing by the door of the coach, I heard a loud metal clunking sound and by the time I realized what it was, it was too late! I had heard and seen my phone being thrown out of the door from the train!

And that is how I relearned the forgotten lesson of not trusting anyone while travelling or otherwise!

Facing the hunger!

After battling the flood-like situation in Mumbai me and roommate experienced another unplanned quest. Like every day, we were lazing around in our room and discussing how each of us struggled to reach home the previous day battling the rain and the traffic.

To give you a heads-up, living in a PG teaches you to survive with unfixed things and make-shift furniture. So, we had our door lock unfixed since couple of months. We hardly faced any problem with that, as we don’t usually need to lock the room doors. But that night was so windy the closed just banged against the frame never to open, almost! The broken lock was jammed.

We tried all the possible tricks to open a jammed lock from a spoon and hair pin to oiling it. We even tried saying ‘khul ja sim sim’ in different tones but nothing worked. Finally, we called our broker/caretaker of the flat and much to our surprise he showed more concerned than we were expected from him. He sent us a number of a key maker and told us that he won’t answer any further calls till 11am next day. Without giving it a second thought, we dialed the key maker’s number and ‘sim sim’ didn’t work even there. No one answered our calls.

Both of us, slept-off! We didn’t have much to do anyway. Our other flat mates were out for the evening. But with the morning light our needs raised their heads too! We were feeling hungry, thirsty and tired. Really, it was a bit tiring to be locked up in our own room. At least, the helplessness was. Outside people tried to help by trying to pass some food packets under the door or the balcony. But no! we were destined to starve! The gap between the floor and the door was not enough to let anything come in, other than shadows and smell of yummy food. And the balcony has fine grill to keep away the birds and that day, the food as well!

Thankfully, my roommate is one of those people who stocks junk food! It looked like a treasure that day. We survived on chips and biscuits and peanuts for rest of the day.

Finally, a key maker answered our call and managed to reach the place, considering the difficult traffic conditions that day. The moment he managed to break the lock open, we ran out of the room like birds flying out of a cage!

That evening, we ate like never before! And, the importance of food was re-instilled in my mind.

Learning from the incidence? That sometimes no technology or help works. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right time.

Love you, Mumbai!

I have always been in awe of this city of dreams! No, it’s not the perfect place to live in, but it’s imperfections make it unique. By the city I don’t mean the roads or the system, I mean it’s people. Always on the go, the Mumbaikars still have much humanity in them, which adds to the city’s charm.

It’s been 2 days since Mumbai witnessed heavy rainfall, water clogging and people being stranded wherever they were. Fortunately, things have recovered now and local trains, the lifeline of the city, are working as usual. Making it a good time for me to share my experience during the tough hours.

When I left my place for the day, it was raining but not heavily. By the time, I managed to get inside an auto, my umbrella had broken. I stay close to my office so I wasn’t much worried or even noticed anything wrong with the weather. In fact, I was enjoying my playlist of Bollywood rain songs. By the afternoon, we were asked to leave from office after checking that routes we’d travel were safe and functional. I was like, hmm, I’ll just walk home, I had my lunch peacefully, then I also packed some food for my flat mates and sent some important emails.

Finally, when I reached the gate of my office building, I realized what a mess it was. There huge puddle of water and the rain was scary. So many people were just standing there probably waiting for autos or busses or may be just deciding whether it was safe for them to go. I overheard conversations where people were informing their family that they might not come home that night. They decided to stay inside the office. It was safe. Again, I was like, it will just take me 30 minutes to walk home and I started my journey with my broken umbrella.

The moment I reached the road, I saw groups of people walking on the road, drenched and worried. Because it is usually a busy road we have good frequency of busses and plenty of autos but that day vehicles were not moving on the road and people kept coming from all directions. During my walk, I had to cross a knee-deep puddle of water. Did I tell you that I was carrying a laptop with me?! I was more worried about it getting wet. Somehow, I managed taking few steps in that water but the force was so strong that I was about to trip but a girl walking behind me saved me. And the one walking ahead of me was alarmed too. We finally held hands and helped each other cross that part. That 5 minutes of walk taught me about survival bonding.

I saw a man saving a kid from falling into a man hole from a bike. The person, probably the kid’s father, couldn’t control the vehicle from getting stuck in another pot hole. And, right in the next moment, I was saved by another man from coming under a falling branch of the huge tree. I was terrified. By the time, I realized what had happened, the man who saved me had walked past the fallen branch making a curve on the road. I couldn’t even utter a ‘thank-you’. Some others inspected the tree and made sure that other branches were not going to fall. I was made to walk otherwise I would have blocked other’s way. The girls and I were accustomed to each other by now and some of their friends had also joined us from the station nearby. They were planning t walk all the way till their respective places, about 2 hours, because the local trains had stopped working. The tracks were clogged with water!

By this time, I had walked through muddy, dirty water and hit myself by the unseen bricks or stones on the road. I couldn’t even stop and see the bruises. I couldn’t see my feet under that muddy water. But, thankfully, I reached home after an hour of an unplanned adventure! I was a picture-worthy thing when I reached my place. Had leaves and tiny branches tangled in my hair, had mere a cloth and some wires hanging in the name of an umbrella and holding my laptop bag like a baby in my arms.

In spite of all that fear, pain and disgust, I loved the experience. Not that I want it to happen again to me or to anybody. But had it not been the people around me, I would have got hurt more badly and would have been more traumatized! That’s the spirit of this lovely city. You always get a helping hand when in need.

So, love you, Mumbai!

Only I can kill myself

No one else can do it. I kill myself when I procrastinate that workout session. I kill myself when I let myself give in to my fears. Say, of heights or drowning or failing at a public event.

I kill a part of me when I avoid going for an outing just because I can’t wake up early on a weekend. I kill me somewhere when I can’t put that chocolate down or the burger because I can’t control my taste buds and then I allow myself to go on a guilt trip when my goal forming a lean body doesn’t seem to come true. I don’t whip myself for caving in the temptations but then there some decisions to be taken and then I need to stand by those.

I allow myself to die when I don’t learn a new skill or experience a new thing just because I didn’t push myself enough. I may take longer but I need to keep taking the baby steps. Like all of us do, I have my anxiety triggers and feel tempted to not leave my comfort zone when I am to face an uncertain situation. But isn’t that my real playground?

I am here to play the game of life. I am here to explore myself and be better than I was! I can fail, I can get scared and definitely I can feel tired on some days but I can’t give up.

I am a new person each morning and I owe just this much to myself that I need to pull myself up, look into the mirror, give that compliment and just walkout to conquer other the older me!

If this is self-obsession then be it but hey, if I can’t love myself how can I love those who love me so much?!

So, here! I decide to not kill myself!

I was half-married 4 times in the last year!

I was not forced, neither was I a victim of any scandalous gang, fortunately. But I was almost married to four different people in last year.

You can call them modern-day arranged marriages. Initially, we were being as welcoming as possible for each other. I explained the basic workings in the house and other things, I took them around to show the grocery shops and told them the landmarks nearby. Most importantly, I explained them my schedule and then both of us figured out who will be using the washroom first in the morning, we decided our sides on the bed and whether the lights will be kept on or off while we sleep, who’d boil the milk and make coffee or tea. There was this awkwardness while changing clothes and farting. During the nights, both of us tried to sleep stiffly – no touching or kicking the other one!

Gradually, we got to know each other and found out what are the things that irritate or were unacceptable for the other one. For instance, one of them used to hate my early morning alarms. They figured out that I cannot tolerate keeping soiled dishes in the room. Once I had given a passive-aggressive treatment for keeping unwashed feet on my side of the bed!

In a couple of months, we were sharing funny incidences about our family and friends and we knew our siblings by their first names. We knew how long the other would take in the washroom. We knew if the other one was upset and needs to vent out and we’d be their silent listener. We were used to each other’s cuddles and kicking in the nights. We knew our choices of dishes for the breakfast. More than anything we got used to sharing a part of our personal space with each other. The bonding didn’t work the same with all of them, some got too close to my heart and others just slipped by in the lanes of my memories.

Secretly, I cried every time my partner left the place to move on with their life and I was anxious, little bit, when I was informed that I’d be getting a new one. My partners were selected by the real estate brokers and they were my roommates! Well, sharing a room and your bed with someone is as good as getting married to that person. Half-married? I have shared my room and my bed with 4 different roommates in a year. Honestly, I am in love with all my girls in some or the other way!

Share your room with a stranger and you’d get to know yourself much better!

I am proud of this Hindi Movie

I felt proud after watching Hindi Medium!

I am not a filmmaker neither am I a movie critic in general but I am a fan of Indian Cinema. I usually share opinions about movies only with my close ones but after watching Hindi Medium I feel this compelling urge to share it with a larger audience.

I do feel bad that I couldn’t watch this one in theatres but at least I watched it on a paid website so hopefully I have contributed in repaying the makers of this remarkable piece of art. They deserve much more recognition and appreciation than they have received for making this movie!

I am glad that the makers have managed to put this concept amazingly in the limelight. They have packed a social message in a package of light-hearted comedy while not taking away the seriousness of the topic. The story revolves around an upper-middle class couple, played by Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar, trying to get a seat for their 3 YO daughter in one of the elite schools in Delhi. The subtle yet realistic jokes around cynicism in the screenplay make it a brilliant one.

Needless to say, Irrfan is one of the finniest actors in the industry and his timing in Hindi Medium is again just perfect. Saba Qamar adds the much-required sassiness on the screen. Deepak Dobriyal stays true to his theatre finesse and makes his character relatable.

Hindi Medium has the twists and turns well-spaced and the climax is partly realistic while sending a message to the audience about the kind of change we need in the society. Education being an important pillar for any culture and nation to grow needs to be more than just a business. That’s exactly what the movie has done, educate the audience about the system and shown a solution as well.

Hindi Medium is a must watch in any movie lover’s list!

Meditation: The Best Form of Interaction

Harsha's blog

Adventurous is what I like to call myself. What better adventure than to climb on the top of your own anxieties and thoughts and have an aerial view of your mind?! So, when I was looking for this kind of adventure, I came across this 10-days meditation course with Vipassana Centre. People who know about this course will know that it is infamous for the stern rules. For 10 days, the participants are not supposed to read, write, talk, workout intensely, use mobile phones! Not even eye-contacts with your fellow course-mates! Now, that is some challenge for someone like me who cannot keep quiet even while she is asleep! Surprisingly, I was happy to set aside my all-time-buzzing-device for a while.

In spite of being frighteningly nervous, a part of me was excited about the next 10 days. I had some personal fears to overcome. I didn’t expect myself to transform into a completely new person on the 11th day but I was hoping to gradually find a better way of life. Minor things like fear of being alone in a dark room or freaking out at the sight of any reptile or simply choosing to be in denial when I had any uncomfortable thoughts about anything. These things could be insignificant otherwise but for me these were hurdles in the process of being a truly independent and positive girl that I aspire to be.

The first thing I asked from the organizers was to give an entire room to me – no roommate! No obvious distraction! After the initial two-three days, I managed to sleep properly, alone, in a dark room. I managed to live peacefully with a lizard roaming around on the walls. As the days passed by, I managed to curb my cravings for food. To my surprise, I had managed to survive till the last days. By then, I was trained to accept my thoughts – pleasant or unpleasant, known or unknown! Just accept. I didn’t have to look for a solution or pass any kind of judgment. I just had to accept that this thought exists in my mind. After a while, even having no thoughts was acceptable. That’s it!

I still have bad days but my reactions toward any experiences have taken a new track now. I don’t find myself running away, intentionally or not. This may sound trivial but in today’s life it is a triumph. We are amidst a web of distractions. Things, people, devices or urges that keep us away from our own mind and thoughts. We are addicted to noise. Mental noise. We crave for some or the other things all the time. Be it talking to someone, reading, listening, watching, sharing and if nothing seems handy then just sleep-off. We cannot stand a situation of not having anything to do or think about.
Meditation is more for youngsters because having our thoughts lined-up as adults can help us live a mindful life. We will be able to deal with situations in a much better way, with optimal over-reactions. We would hardly need substance or adrenaline rush to feel alive. Isn’t that what we all keep wandering for with each passing day?

Just dive-in our minds and explore the infinite possibilities of our own personality without tagging or labeling any thought as good or bad. Some things seem unbelievable simply because of their simplicity. But shouldn’t happiness be just that, simple?

All we need to do is connect with ourselves and rest will fall in place.

Yes, I enrolled myself for the course and reached the centre on day 0. I was the last person to enter the premises before the registrations close for that batch. Did I say that I had chosen this for myself?! Yes, I had but still the last-minute apprehensions tend to make me procrastinate. Well, I was too anxious and scared to reach there before the last minute. Those jitters in my stomach were something that I had never felt in my entire life. Not that I didn’t know the requirements for this course and its intensity. I was just skeptical if I’d be able to survive till the last day. I had my panic attacks thinking about my project in the office, whether my parents will be okay in my absence. Tons of ifs and buts and other thoughts. It was a mental chaos. But for some reason I wanted to do it.