He looked a lot like her. He was her dad. I shouldn’t say he looked like her. I should say she looked like her dad. I wondered when I had last seen LOLy. In May this year. And I wonder if I would get to see her again any time this year.

Uncle was in Bhubaneswar for delivering some seminar. Before we met in his hotel room day before yesterday, we had only heard about each other. And yet when we met, it never felt like it was the first time. At least, not to me. May be because I saw LOLy in him. We raised our glasses of Signature to each other and as we took the first sips, I felt I was back with LOLy.

We talked about lot of things. Chetan Bhagat. IIT. My work. His work. LOLy. Gujarat. Orissa. Ports. Ships. For a long time uncle had served as a captain in various ships. I asked him about his worst experience in sea so far.

‘I usually don’t talk about this to anyone but I would answer you. We were on this ship – your aunty and me. LOLy wasn’t born then. But we had an elder son. He was a li’l over two years old. And then he fell down from five stories and died. The next shore was nine days away and we didn’t have the heart to do a sea-burial. So we spent nine days on the ship with our dead child. This has been the worst experience in sea so far’.

My daadi had once told me that she had a son elder to dad. She lost him when he was still a kid. I had not known how to react then. I had always thought my dad had been the eldest and suddenly I was being told that he had an elder brother who had died even before dad was born. I had always though LOLy was the eldest and suddenly I was being told that she had an elder brother who had died even before she was born.

Suddenly my biggest loss so far looked so puny in front of such grave losses that I felt God has been to0 good to me so far. Life. Such a weird phenomena. Live on!


Seven years of Diwali

I called up many people yesterday. Yesterday was Diwali. I called up many people yesterday and wished them happy Diwali.

Ever since I joined IIT, I never spent Diwali at home. And I never really cared. There were guys around in insti all the time and there were things happening all around all the time and so I never cared if I was not in home. The soc-secs of any year always turned up at your door and offered you sweets that had been bought from the budget approved in the last GBM. And if you happened to know the soc-sec well, you could get more sweets than officially allowed per room. Moja was the soc-sec in my first year in Sarayu. Country was the soc-sec in my second year in Narmad. Anshuman was the soc-sec in the year later and though I don’t remember how many sweets I had when Anshuman was the soc-sec, I am sure I had as many as I could. Anshuman was my best friend. Even when there was no Diwali, he almost always had besan ke laddoos from Gwalior with him and only he knows how fucking crazy I was for those laddoos. I still am. Just that, there is no Anshuman around any more. So far, in life, I haven’t tasted any sweet that has tasted better than those laddoos. But I am digressing. Let me talk about the soc-secs. In my fourth year, Orchi was the soc-sec. Anshuman and I had nicked (awarded him a nick-name) him orchestra when he was a freshie because he had told us he could sing and he could play tabla and he could also play synthesizer. Once again, I don’t remember how many sweets I had but I am sure I was allowed to have as many as I wanted to. The same applied in my last year in IIT when Gali was the soc-sec.

By a crazy turn of events, I happened to be with mom and dad during last year’s Diwali. We spent Diwali in Kolkata at dad’s best friend’s place – Tiwari uncle’s place. I have fond memories of Tiwari uncle. When I was small, every time he visited us, he got Gems for me. Every single time. Even today, whenever I see Gems, I think of Tiwari uncle. And I think of his green colour Maruti 800. Today I have a best friend called Tiwari too. He works in Chennai. I wonder if he will get Gems for my child (whenever I adopt one) every time he visits the child. Heh – funny thought. Oh yes, I shall adopt a child some day when I am responsible enough. She would be a girl and I already have a name for her. But then, I am digressing once more.

So yesterday, after a long long time, I was with no one who mattered. And it hurt. There were no soc-secs to offer sweets and there was no family that could feel good about my presence amidst them. So I called up everyone I could think of. I called up my siblings in Mumbai – Subbu and Sweety. My name is Polu by the way. Subbu told me he had brought home a nariyal ka ped to celebrate Diwali and I laughed like nuts. I thought he had gone crazy. Sweety told me she was planning to move to Hyderabad because she would get a job faster there because freshers don’t get jobs in Mumbai. Sometimes, I don’t understand her. Then I called up Taploo. He is my cousin and he works in Bangalore. He told me he was planning to come to Bhubaneswar and see me some time. I told him I was waiting for him. Then I called up Babes. He works in Mumbai but he was at home – in Bilaspur. I called up Anshuman then. He works in Mumbai too and he was at home too -  in Gwalior. I realized I was calling him up for the first time after he got married. The last time I had called him up, I was in Gwalior myself. I had arrived there driving Neelabh’s bullet all the way from Delhi and I needed to find his house. This was in January this year. He got married two days later and I never called him after that. Until yesterday. Then I called up Tiwari. The fucker was sleeping in the evening. He was in Bangalore – at a friend’s place. Then I called up Pandey who said he was getting married in December in Udaypur and wanted me to attend it. I told him I would try. Pandey was a wing-mate in IIT. My wing is getting married at fast rate. Then I called up Leela and she was with her local guardians and she told me she had recently cracked some super cool score in TOEFL and I felt proud of her but didn’t tell her so. I only told her she was a loser. This is all I tell her every time we talk and I guess we both like it that way. Then I called up LOLy. She was in Chennai. Finally I found someone who was alone – like me. But she was getting ready to go out somewhere to have fun and so she wasn’t going to be alone any more and I felt good about her but bad about myself and we said bye-bye to each other. Then I called up Bullu Uncle and then Mintoo Chacha. It’s weird why I call some of my uncles uncle but some chacha. It has been like that ever since I was a kid. Bullu Uncle lives in Thane while Mintoo Chacha lives in Bangalore. I tried calling Ravi Uncle next. He lives in Hyderabad. Someone on the other side of the phone kept asking me ‘Raviaa, Raviaa, Raviaa’? May be, his number has changed. I couldn’t speak to him. Mom had already called up in the morning (and so had Neelabh btw). She didn’t like the fact that I was not at home for Diwali. I reminded her that I hadn’t been at home for Diwali since the last seven years! I called up mom again in the evening and told her I was unable to reach my grand-parents in Patna. She told me, it was the same when she tried calling them. So I did not get to speak to my grand-parents. The other people I could not reach on phone yesterday were Radha in Hyd, Richa in Mumbai and Prasun in Mumbai. And then I called up Miss Short-story. For a change, she was not busy. She is my only friend in Bhubaneswar. Both her college and home are in Bhubaneswar. She lives in her college hostel but yesterday she was at home. She narrated me stories from the last few days of her life. On one of these days, she was playing Sita maiyya in a village in Orissa, trying to do some marketing for a cell-phone service provider.

I didn’t burst any cracker yesterday. Instead I started reading a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I finished reading it today. If you have liked To Kill a Mocking Bird, you would most probably like this book. And now I would finish reading Phantoms in the Brain. And then I would clean up my bike because I haven’t touched it ever since I returned from Leh. And then I would sit down to wonder if for the rest of my life, I am going to keep reading books (alone), keep running (alone) and keep traveling (alone).

PS: my para-gliding video is up

events senti

One sms please

There are two cooks in my guest-house. The count was actually three till one of them quit last month. They cook delectable food and – as individuals – are very decent, caring and hard working folks. You can ask them for a coffee or a chaai any time and you get served in minutes. A few hours ago, they came to my room and asked me if I could help them send an sms. They wanted to send their vote for the Prince Group. I recalled noticing an advertisement in yesterday’s or the day before yesterday’s ToI. The ad pleaded all Oriyas to vote for the group which had made it to the finals of a talent hunt show on a national TV channel. I had seen some episodes of this show where individuals / groups from all over India performed anything that they were capable of. Most of them went for dangerous stunts, some sang, some did choreo, some played musical instruments and so on. The show had three judges – Shekhar Kapoor who kept crying most of the times, Sonali Bendre who often appeared shocked, bewildered and dumb after witnessing some of those dangerous stunts (the only words that she said nine out of ten times were – “I don’t know what to say!’) & that fat lady who played Aamir’s mother in RDB, Kat’s mother in Singh is King, Aishwarya’s mother in Devdas – you get her right? Anyway, this post is neither about the judges, nor about the performers (I must confess though, that most of the performers whom I saw were stunning while some of them were simply out of this world). This post is about my cooks and their sms request. When they asked me to help them send the sms, I was touched. Had I been a sixty year old fat woman, I would have hugged my cooks and shed real tears – I was that touched. I had myself never seen the Prince group perform but I am sure that my cooks must have had. I am sure that the entree of the group into the finals must have had bloated their chests. Now, they wanted to do their bit to help the daily wage labours from their state – the state of Orissa – the state that otherwise no one in India really cares about – the state that everyone assumes lives under continuous cyclones and is full of poor people – the state that if holds any value whatsoever for the outside world is mainly because it has been bestowed with abundant mineral resources. My cooks – who had never sent any sms so far in their lives – were determined to help their poor state-mates in their endeavour. They could have simply asked me to send off an sms from my cell but they brought their own mobile and all they asked me was to type out the two words PD and sms it to the number that they had memorized. I did it for them. Oh how elated they looked.

Life might be worthless but it is beautiful once in a while. I might be lonely but I am happy once in a while. Live on! 🙂


Kabhi Kabhi

कभी कभी मेरे दिल मैं ख्याल आता हैं
कि ज़िंदगी तेरी जुल्फों कि नर्म छांव मैं गुजरने पाती
तो शादाब हो भी सकती थी।

यह रंज-ओ-ग़म कि सियाही जो दिल पे छाई हैं
तेरी नज़र कि शुओं मैं खो भी सकती थी।

मगर यह हो न सका और अब ये आलम हैं
कि तू नहीं, तेरा ग़म तेरी जुस्तजू भी नहीं।

गुज़र रही हैं कुछ इस तरह ज़िंदगी जैसे,
इससे किसी के सहारे कि आरझु भी नहीं.

न कोई राह, न मंजिल, न रौशनी का सुराग
भटक रहीं है अंधेरों मैं ज़िंदगी मेरी.

इन्ही अंधेरों मैं रह जाऊँगा कभी खो कर
मैं जानता हूँ मेरी हम-नफस, मगर यूंही

कभी कभी मेरे दिल मैं ख्याल आता है.

senti sports

Songs, 15k, news and vacation

The songs that play in front of me on V or MTv in the mornings when I am running on the tread mill depress me a lot. Most of them are love songs. Others show friends hanging out in the sun – happy, buoyant and jumping away to glory. They never show any song where a guy reads books, draws cartoons, runs, gyms and has as his clients – senior IAS officers. When they do show someone running, he is always running for a reason – to catch the rapacious goon, to reach his voluptuous girl friend, to become fit for some upcoming brutal battle and so on. Actually I can recall only Akshay Kumar who sprints now and then in some songs. The only song where they show people drawing cartoons is that cute song from Tare Zameen pe – but then that song is hardly played in the mornings. The songs that play in front of me on V or MTv in the morning when I am running on the tread mill depress me a lot.

Tomorrow I plan to do a 15k. It is not a very long distance in general, but for me,  I would be running so much in one go after more than an year. In fact, I have run 15K only once so far – when I ran with the Chennai Runners on the East Coast Rd in Chennai. Treadmill is going to be so much boring and less inspiring compared to the road-run. Road run in Bhubaneswar at this time of the year is still a no-no. Monsoons are yet to arrive. They might pop up any time. Everyone is waiting for them. Oh, by the way – there is a news: I am going to be here till December now! I don’t know how to react to it. So I won’t. Let me not fret over the depressing aspect of this news – it’s pointless. The brighter, shineir aspect is – upcoming July vacation is no more going to be the end of the ongoing one-vacation-every-two-moths lifestyle. Very very shiny I say. If only I can now soon learn to live comfortably away from friends, family and something known as a social life – I am going to like my life a lot. If not, I will keep running more and more till the feet bleed or till its time to pack up bags and leave for some nice destination. So far I haven’t yet decided where I want to fly to in July. The best place to go to in July is a hill station but since I just returned from Ladakh, I am sure I cannot like any hill station for quite some time now. It would be raining in the rest of India. Very tricky month for a vacation – will try to figure out some place soon. Any suggestions anyone?

PS: Update (14 June 2009) – Ran a rather slow 15k in the morning in 94 minutes and 24 seconds.

IIT senti

Never to return again

I met couple of more juniors in insti day before yesterday when I went there in the evening but one thing was clear – without the old folks, insti just wasn’t the same. Yesterday, I could still connect to a lot of things – CCD, CLT, Tiffanys, dramatics, the insti actors, my ex-Shaastra-coordinators etc. Soon, even that would become difficult to do – connecting that is. The number of juniors, whom I know, would have gone down and after say two years, I wonder if I would know any student in IIT. A fresh breed of blood shall be keeping the spirit of the campus alive. I would have become an old blood by then, and the process already seems to have started. Sigh! I thought I had moved on but the way I felt day before, wasn’t a great feeling. Finally I felt like an outsider. Finally I felt like a pass-out – passed out to roam around alone in the world. The relationship with insti was a sweet one, one of the most beautiful ones in my life so far. Day before, IIT indeed felt like that ex-girlfriend who looks the same when you run into her after months of break-up, but who you soon realize is not really the same – not from inside, not the way you left her last. You can so clearly see that she is getting used to a new life – a life without you, and you cannot do much about it. If there is something that you can do, then it is to pack your bags and walk out, smiling at the good old days and accepting that they indeed were the old days – fading, dying, gone – never to return again.


Friendship, love and life: 2

The following is what i wrote on this date, last year and every word of it holds true even today.

I wonder what kind of people read posts which carry such titles!

I won’t write anything more about any of these than what is already known. But today, if you ask me, I will tell you that they are like the three legs of a tripod. What is a friendship that lacks love? And what is a life that lacks friendship?

Today is a special day. And I dedicate it to my best friend who knows who he is. I don’t know, nor do I care when the rest of the world celebrates friendship day. For me, it’s today. Happy friendship day to me.

I recently discussed how I have many best friends but no one best friend. But this one friendship referred to in the the lines above will always remain special to me. No, I am not going to talk about the reasons. Sorry.


I am so happy I am still alive

I never knew that the Beasant Nagar beach could look like Marina Beach ever. It had everything to do with the fact that 1st of May is the Labour’s day. The beach was so fucking full of so many people day before yesterday when the waves were behaving erratically and the beach smelled of hot and spicy corn.

People. Human beings. I have learnt so many things about them. A funny thing when you think about everyone else is that you treat yourself as someone who is so separate from those who you are thinking about. And yet, you think. I think.

I have no idea when will I see them again: all these guys and girls going home, now that the semester is over. I am not coming back. I am done. Five years. Some faces will take a long time to fade. Some faces will probably never fade.

This is not a post about all the people who I got to know in these five years. This post is about them who changed everything.

My best friend

Who was he? Or probably who was she? After five years I have no idea. A best friend is a word that sounds so much like the pseudo-name of that one person who is the next best thing that happened to you apart from your family. And yet, at times, there is no one person worth this pseudo-name. After five years, all I can say is that the term best-friend is such a myth. There is no one best-friend. There are friends. And that’s all there is to it. Or so it applies in my case.

I do remember having just one best-friend, but always for certain time-intervals. Like this guy, whose door I had opened even before he had occupied his room in my first hostel in IIT. Or like this girl who would later fall for this guy. Or this guy who had made me eat food when I had decided to die out of starvation after going almost empty stomach for almost a week.

After a point I stopped making friends. They just happened. People who liked you and saw good things in you. People you liked. They become friends. Most stay. Some drift. Who is the best?

After five years, all I can say is that the term best-friend is such a myth. There is no one best-friend. There are friends.

My girl-friends

Wish I could talk about every girl who came to my life in whatever way. Average looking girls you had a crush on but you couldn’t even propose to. Girls who looked so beautiful, you couldn’t even have a crush on them. Girls you never had a crush on, and yet you proposed to. Girls who turned you on. Girls who let you hold your their hands as you walked with them on lonely nights discussing stars. Girls you had coffee with. Girls you could never have coffee with. Girls who hit on you. Girls you wanted to run away from. Girls you wanted to run to. Girls who you never looked at, as girls. Girls you drank with. Girls who worked with you. Girls you wished could work with you. Girls who asked you to kiss them. Girls who you kissed.

But yes. I have been in every kind of relationship a man can probably have with a woman.


I know myself better now. I know how others look at me, better now. I know others better now. And yet, all said and done, how little do I know about myself, others and the way they look at me. Five years! I have seen a lot. I have learnt a lot. But the best part is, I am so sure there is so much more to be seen and so much more to be learnt. I am so happy I am still alive.

IIT senti

I am passing out

This hostel had been home for four years. Narmada. Soon, I would be busy finding a new home. The days in IIT are numbered. And I already know that nothing is gonna be as good as this hostel. Nothing. This hostel had been home for four years. Narmada.

I stayed up all night yesteday. It was the Narmad Hostel Nite. It was the night of endless Pizzas and infinite ice-creams. It was the night to listen to toasts being given to guys who I had ragged in their first years. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that time flew so amazingly fast. I still remember catching Cuppax at the Narmad Entrance and then taking him to my room to make him sing Gujju songs. It’s been four years. Most of these freshies are passing out now, with me. Strange feelings.

Yestereday was also the night of the juke-box and the country dancing on the clayey quadrangle. I danced. Narmad danced. The jumping and shaking of hips was about more than just dancing. It was about letting differences go away and hugging every fellow hostel mate. It was about feeling proud to have shared the same home in a strange land all this while.

I didn’t even need booze to get high yesterday. I was high on emotions. I am high on emotions. Fuck, I am passing out.