The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Moment of Pride


It was a long journey with perils n thrills

  One final command and scientists stood still

There were anxious moments n hearts beat

  Then it was sighted to a thunderous treat

Long hours and perseverance was behind this story

  The result was grand n brought immense glory

‘Knock, Knock, who is there’ Maven gazed

  ‘It is Mangalayaan ‘ came reply from haze

 PS: Maven is the first spacecraft launched by NASA to explore the upper atmosphere of Mars. It was placed in the Mars orbit on 21 Sep 14 and Mangalayaan entered the orbit on 24 Sep 14.This poem is a dedication to the scientists of our country who realized the near impossible dream at a fraction of cost!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Retail Therapy

 



Shopping is rejuvenating, therapeutic as well as fun! Even if one is not inclined to spend much, just window shopping can give one some kicks, besides, the rush of adrenalin to be accosted by the very sight of adorable niceties! With the festive season about to commence, the traders are getting geared up for a long spell of sales, discounts to push their sales graphs!

During the times in school we looked forward to this period with most eagerness knowing that the annual sale at Khadi Bhandar would commence from 2nd Oct and we would rush to buy the shirts, kurtas and other things! Also, the local markets and some upmarket areas in Delhi like NDSE, pitched sales for the jeans costing as low as Rs 15/- each, which may sound as if I belong to the age of dinosaurs! I remember once having saved my pocket money to take my brothers for purchase of cloth for stitching shirts! It would be fun to visit places like Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk to return with a feeling of bewilderment!


After landing in the job, I had to travel to destinations within the country and was exposed to see places like Crawford Market, Linking Road, Flora Fountain in Mumbai. There would be no place to walk and one had to jostle to move around in Akbarallys at Flora fountain! While in Pune, Sadashiv Peth, Rani Laxmi Bai Road and Deccan Gymkhana were favorite haunts! It felt great to see these places after having seen only the MG Road and Ghantaghar in small towns of UP !

The love for window and minimal shopping continued while visiting Brigade Road, MG Road and KG Circle in Bangalore, Anna Salai and T Nagar in Chennai, Hazrat Ganj and Aminabad in Lucknow! The locals called it ‘Ganjing’! The smells of local foods and sweet shops would set the hunger pangs on fire! I remember always overeating my share of Idlis and Dosa in South and Chaat in Lucknow, Bhelpuri and Pavbhaji in Mumbai even if I went for a shopping worth just Rs50/-

When I got an opportunity to see the world, Downtown Manhattan, SoHo, Chinatown in New York worked like a magnet, with unbelievable array of goods! Faneuil Hall and Copley Place in Boston were difficult to resist! The unbelievable discounts at Macys would leave my already stretched resources to a rock bottom by the end of the day!

Khan El Khalili is a bigger version of Chandni Chowk in Cairo and the sight of freshly made Khobz( local bread) goes for miles! Bukit Bintag in Kulalumpur , Mustafa in Singapore, and Pratunam and Siam Centre are infectious and best avoided if one does want to feel like a pauper by the end of the day! Exotic tropical fruits in Male in Maldives and Seychelles are feast of eyes and one is tempted to buy even if it is difficult to carry them! Huge piles of dry fruits and sight of fresh preparation of  Falafel compete hard to draw the attention of tourists in busy Caramel Market in TelAviv.
Just for window gazing and having coffee, there is no place better than Galeries Lafaytte and Champs Elysee in Paris! If you are lucky, you may even end up watching a fashion show for free at Galeries Lafayette during promotions of new beauty ranges and dresses! The world is a market and the show goes on forever, can best be experienced at La Boqueria in Barcelona crammed with local foods, Harrods in London for the priciest branded items, Queen Victoria Market( lovingly called Vic market) in Melbourne and Victoria building in Sydney , eye popping crystals in streets of Prague, Luxury brands and watch stores in Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, glittering Gold Souk in Deira in Dubai, fragrance of Tulips in Amsterdam, and many more!

Floating Markets in Bangkok, midnight bazaar, weekend bazaar and unbelievable crowds at the odd hour give a feeling of how much to buy and how little we have in our pocket! Mongkok and Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, Odel and House of Fashion in Colombo  are places that must be avoided if you are in company of your wife or children else, even the biggest dollar note in the pocket will vanish before you realize what struck you.

There is only one problem during family shopping that the man ends up standing in a corner after a while carrying his wife’s purse and a wailing child while she is busy in selection!

The last word comes from the sex siren Bo Derek who once said’ Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping.'

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time to Act


 The city was waking up from the slumber as the overnight rain had created huge puddles all along the road. The erstwhile potholes have now become craters and if one looks at the satellite picture of the roads in Gurgaon, he will mistake them to be craters on the moon! Car, buses, motorbikes were all in a hurry and were splashing the water, on the poor pedestrians who were trying hard to find way on what once looked like a road.

During the day the weather kept playing hide and seek and by late afternoon the clouds gathered once more, rumbled and it rained for another one hour. Around 5 PM, most of the office goers collected their bags and left the office hoping that by sunset they would reach home. The millennium city was groaning under the weight of vehicles and everywhere as far as one could see there were huge traffic snarls. It had taken almost one hour to cover the distance of 1 km and still the main road was far away. By now some of the drivers that had lost patience started entering the roads from all directions leading to a situation that traffic came to a grinding halt. The situation was grim and there was no solution in sight! Desperate now, many of the office goers made beeline for the metro stations and packed like sardines, traveled to their destination.  Most people were too tired after an exhausting day and were waiting for the trauma to end. This is the situation in the city adjacent to the capital, which houses all the major MNC/ Government and Public sector undertaking offices almost every rainy day! Incidentally, the number of taxpayers contributing to the kitty would perhaps be the highest here.

The scenario is much the same in the capital itself and most of the major metro cities with all major roads clogged with traffic and water overflowing from every drain and small rivulets running next to the roads on the rainy days. A low feeling of the collapsing infrastructure in bigger cities is visible all around.


Is it really very difficult for the municipal authorities to clear the drains and create a drainage system that works, when needed most! Is it so difficult for the traffic police to be available to guide the traffic in such times when people need them the most? Why it is that only the Armed forces are remembered and asked to assist the civil agencies that behave as if they have been paralyzed when emergencies arise? We never learn any lessons and the story repeats year after year only the locations keep shifting. We may take pride of Indians who are serving in every sphere with brilliant contributions but situation at home does not appear to be improving! We can only debate endlessly on prime time on TV shows but do little tangible except indulging in blame games! It is time to put our act together before it is too late!

PS: Image Kind courtesy Google

Saturday, September 6, 2014

On Teachers Day


How the teaching changed over time! There was a time when children were sent to ‘gurus’ for education. Even the princely had to abandon the life of riches to live in ‘gurukul’ where they were taught by the gurus. Most of us have read about ‘Dronacharya’ the famous teacher who taught the ‘Kauravas’  and ‘Pandavas’ in the epic Mahabharat.   He was chosen as the teacher by ‘ Bhishma’ who was the grandfather of Kauravas and Pandavas after he had performed the feat of collecting  a ball from the well where the children were playing by his ring and blades of grass, using them as spears! The great teacher had a soft corner for Arjun the warrior and thus asked ‘Eklavya’ to severe his thumb as ‘guru dakshina’ as he had learnt the skill of archery from Dronacharya on the sly!

Parshuram was another great teacher known for his fiery temper who had vowed to annihilate the “kshatriyas’( warriors) who lived in the times of Ramayana as well as Mahabharat. He was the teacher of Dronacharya as well as Lord Rama! Parshuram and Agastya are considered to be the father of  ‘Kalaripayattu’ the oldest form of martial arts.

Teaching is a noble profession and the credit for grooming the future generations goes to them. In countries like United States, the best universities hold all the teaching fraternity in a very high esteem. The close coordination exists between the industry and the top universities to pursue the research and results thereof are well known! The annual event of Nobel prizes is dominated by US and western world where the academic accomplishments are not only recognized but given the due place in society.

There was a time when universities like Nalanda (near Patna) and Taxila(near Rawalpindi) were considered to be world renowned seats of learning.  With the passage of time commercialization has taken over everything else in our country! Those who can afford prefer to send the children to schools that have air conditioned classes and buses to provide comfort to the students! The engineering and medical degrees can be virtually purchased at a price and likewise for other professions. The only saving grace is that small number of government colleges for professional studies still go by merit for selecting the students. Other shops only sell education to the highest bidders who in turn want to recover their investment in double quick time when they have acquired the degree.


I have lovely memories of the time spent in school that had the best of teachers who inculcated the deep desire to learn, read and write! I was fortunate to have never attended a single tuition class besides the time spent in school! It pains to see even the tiny tots attending such classes after school what to say about those preparing for entering portals of higher education! Somewhere we have forgotten to strike a balance between the need and desire. Our generation is fortunate to have seen and heard the great teachers like Dr S Radhakrishnan and Dr Zakir Hussain. Hope the address of the new prime minister to the nation fosters the spirit of learning and herald a new era in education! 

PS: Image Kind Courtesy Google

Monday, September 1, 2014

Escapades


I am sure most of us would have encountered some hair raising moments in their lives! Once the incident is over with a happy ending, we tend to forget it for some time till we go through yet another incident, which gets stamped in the memory. They are reminder of some funny, comical, and some adventurous situations. I share a few of such instances.
We had to traverse 60 km through the night from Jamnagar to Khambaliya on foot as a part of exercise. Armed with rucksacks, rifles and some tinned ration we split into groups of five and started the journey. The boots, anklets and the heavy rucksacks made the journey a tough one! Around midnight, we had covered almost half the distance and the legs protested loudly now! So I along with rest of my mates sprawled in the middle of the road as we did not want a slithering reptile in the sandy area to bite! It felt better than a cushioned bed for a while. A few minutes had barely passed when we noticed the headlights appear in the distance. We quickly scrambled back to our feet and waved at the truck! The driver looked at us and told us to board the truck which was loaded till top. What a relief! The truck began to roll through the night. Our happiness was short lived as the uniform started to get wet and we felt as if we are about to freeze! The stench was also unbearable. We asked the driver to stop and asked what he was carrying as we got down!

‘Fish’ he replied and we were relaxing on ice blocks! Gosh! No wonder we were freezing!

There was hilarious situation when I was asked to jump off a Whaler (boat) in the sea in backwaters in Kerala and a lifebuoy was hurled at me! Gasping for breath, I tugged it close to my chest. Next a rope was tied to it and I was towed for a distance of about one kilometer. It was meant to be a demonstration for survival at sea!

As if this was not enough on the same sailing trip during the night at Bolgatty Island, near Kochi, I stepped on moss in dark and skidded to land with a thud in sea! I was gasping for breath as the world around me darkened. I frantically tried to bring my head up; my hand touched the rope by which the boat was tethered to shore! I was pulled out of the murky water with help and had to sleep for the rest of the night in same wet clothes , as I was not carrying any change!

Once on a trip to Stockholm, I was residing at Kista a suburb on the outskirts of the city. I got up early  and decided to go for a jog. It was freezing cold outside and the sky was still dark! There was not a soul in sight and after running for a short while I was gasping for breath and felt as if I would freeze. So I decided to walk and crossed over the road towards the wooded area. After trudging through the sheet of snow for about 15 minutes I looked back and realized that the pathway had disappeared. I looked around but could not find anything that could guide me in the right direction as the stillness was overwhelming.  The more I tried to retrace my steps the more I realized that I was getting lost! About an hour elapsed when I was seized with the fear that will I ever return back!! One more time, I tried and walked in a direction that my hunch told me may be the right one! About 15 minutes of walk brought me to the edge of the road where I could see some lights! I was almost 3 km away from where I had started. I thanked god for finally bringing me back!


It is a long list and am sure you readers too would have had similar instances to share!

PS- Image Kind courtesy Google

Monday, August 25, 2014

Trapped


The sharp roar of the engines slowly reduced to a hum as the light turned on with an announcement that the flight had now reached an altitude of 34000 ft and passengers may unfasten the seat belts. Krish, who reclined on the seat, was feeling a little uneasy as the cold smooth elbow from the adjoining seat kept brushing against his hairy arm! He looked sideways where the girl, who had just boarded minutes before the take -off, appeared to be asleep. She had covered herself in the blanket, but not before Krish noticed the deep cleavage with a shiny gold necklace and a huge pendant slowly playing between her ample bosoms. The black lace top and the red pants that hugged her body displayed the well maintained contours. A huge gold bangle hung lifelessly on her wrist, as she opened her eyes and appeared to whisper, looking directly at Krish.
‘Pardon, do you want anything?’ Krish asked her, feeling a little foolish as he was caught in the act of looking at her.
‘Please can you shut the blowers, I am feeling very cold as I am having fever’ she replied.
Krish unbuckled his seat belt and shut the blowers from where the cold air was coming.
‘Thanks’ she said as she pulled up the blanket further up to her neck, and closed her eyes once again. Krish was unable to concentrate as he fiddled with the screen to look up at the inflight program.

‘Sir, what will you have’ the air hostess interrupted, as he removed the headphones to converse with her. ‘I will have a beer’ he replied. The girl opposite to her opened her eyes yet again and mumbled, ‘Can you get me a juice’? The air hostess had moved away, but Krish called her back and asked her to get the drink for the lady.

Soon it was meal time, and as Krish asked for his meal he noticed a glint of metal from the seat below. He stooped and picked up the huge gold bangle which appeared to be unusually heavy! This must be costing a fortune, he wondered. The girl from whose wrist, it had slid off was still fast asleep! He kept the bangle in his pocket as the conflict raged in his mind whether to return it to her or keep it as a souvenir for his wife!

Almost two hours had passed and the lights came on, as the pilot announced that the flight would land in twenty minutes. The girl opened her eyes and appeared to feel much better. She apparently had not noticed that the bangle was missing!

After the flight landed, Krish got off the flight and walked past the immigration and after collecting his baggage, walked out of the customs ‘Green Channel’. He had barely walked past the exit when he felt the same soft touch on his arm! He turned back and looked and felt his blood turning cold! That girl in black lace top and red pant held out her hand and smiled at him. Sheepishly, Krish extracted the gold bangle from his pocket and handed it over to her.

‘Thanks’ she said in a cold voice and melted into the incoming rush of passengers. The mission to bring in heroin hidden inside the gold bangle had been yet again accomplished flawlessly!

PS: Image Kind Courtesy Google


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heartless


A heartless man with no emotions
  Makes the life a drudgery notion
A princely life with all the might
 Means little if cannot bring delight
Those who have little but a big heart
  Bring joy and smiles as a priceless part
Each day is a gift so share n start
       A rich life and riches to part
Life is a journey so cherish and relish
   Look beyond small things and abandon fetish

PS- Image Kind courtesy Google