Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Love - Reloaded, Part 3

“I see that you are reading a book”, said Surya rather sheepishly. “Great going, Einstein”, said he to himself.


She smiled while she spoke.

Oh, her smile was like the shine of a thousand moons. It could illuminate the darkest corners and caves of the world. Her eyes twinkled with a bright sparkle when she smiled.

Surya wanted to say something that sounded intelligent and did justice to his near-perfect grades and his intellect. But he could not think properly. His heart was racing and he wanted to run away and keep on running till his feet bled.

“Hi, I am Thushar”, chimed a voice behind him. Surya wheeled around to find Thushar standing by his side. Thushar offered his hand for a gentle handshake with Tanvi. She shook his hands and smiled at him.

“Hi, I am Tanvi”

“I suppose you have joined the college recently because we have not seen you around here before”, said Thushar.

“Yes, I am new here”

Surya could not help noticing that her voice was perfect too.

“Which course are you attending here?” asked Thushar. He knew the answer already, as he was the one who played the patient listener while Surya had been going on and on about Tanvi, over the past one week. She replied and Thushar talked to her further while Surya looked on. He had regained a semblance of his confidence by then and joined in the conversation. Tanvi was talking with an ease and grace that commanded respect. Even Thushar had to admit that Tanvi was very charming.

The three of them, walked out of the canteen and set off towards the academic block. A gentle breeze was blowing. The branches of the Gulmohar trees swayed to the unheard ditties borne by the breeze. The afternoon sun, about to give way to twilight, reached out with its gentle rays as if to caress the earth before bidding goodbye. The walk was relatively deserted and the scene before them was so very serene that Thushar suggested that they sit down for a while.

They sat down underneath a Gulmohar. Nobody spoke for some time. Surya had regained his composure and by then had begun to enjoy the company of Tanvi without any awkwardness. Thushar got up and made an excuse about having to work on an assignment and left.

“He can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but he remains a dependable friend”, thought Surya with a smile.

The silence was broken only by the soft whistle of the wind. Tanvi seemed lost in thought and was looking at the red flowers littered on the grass. Surya watched her and wished that time would cease its journey at that moment. “If time stops now, I will never win her. But I will always be looking at her and be in her presence for ever. What greater joy can I hope for?” he thought.

Surya felt a welling of emotions within him and wanted to express it. So for the first time in his life, he created a poem in his mind. He did not know whether it was a poem or a mere arrangement of words to rhyme, but he felt happy when he recited it over and over again in his mind.

“Love is the rose, that blossom in the heart

And spread the fragrance, that never depart”

Tanvi finally got up and Surya followed suit. They said a few parting words to each other and left. They had not spoken much since they sat down underneath the Gulmohar, but both felt that they had shared a lot. The rustling of the leaves and the whistle of the breeze had done the talking for them.

Surya rode his bike home happier than he had been in a long time. Tanvi, felt intrigued by this person with whom she had spoken next to nothing and yet shared much. The Gulmohar stood in the walk and seemed pleased at having given its shade to the bloom of a new love.

Many years have passed since that day Surya and Tanvi sat underneath that tree. If you visit the college, you will still find the Gulmohar standing in the walk covered with blood-red flowers gently swaying in the breeze. If you listen closely, you will hear numerous ballads of love, crooned into the wind by this Gulmohar tree. Even to this day, young people on the verge of falling in love sit under the tree and feel the symphony created by it. All one needs to feel that heavenly music is to keep an open mind.

Surya and Tanvi had not realized back then that they had embarked upon a journey that intertwined their lives. They met again the next day under the Gulmohar and the day after that and so on until it became a ritual. They would sit under the tree and chat for a while and then quietly listen to the murmur of Nature. Their friendship grew stronger.

Tanvi enjoyed Surya's company and Surya adored her. He was in love but did not profess his love to Tanvi. He took great care not to betray his feelings while he was with her. It was painful for him to hide his feelings thus and Thushar was angry with Surya when even after a year, Surya had not confessed his true feelings to Tanvi.

"You are a chicken.", Thushar would say and with that would do a crude imitation of a chicken flapping around and it always infuriated Surya. He wanted to tell her everything but could not. He was happy to be around her and at the same time miserable.

Finally things came to such a pass that Thushar could no longer take any more of it and threatened Surya that he would tell Tanvi the whole story unless he did it himself. Surya and Thushar were in the third year of their college lives and were already making plans for jobs to apply for and the life after college. The Christmas holidays were approaching and Thushar set a deadline for Surya to tell all to Tanvi.
The final day of college before the holidays arrived.

[To be Continued]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Love - Reloaded, Part 2

Surya went to his classroom feeling downcast at having not being able to speak to the owner of those bewitching eyes. All throughout the lecture, all he could think of was about this girl. Her face loomed in his memory like an unfinished painting which was destined to be a masterpiece. His gloom was not lost upon Thushar, who at the end of the lecture asked, “What is bothering you, dumb head? You have been moody during the whole class”.


Thushar was not a person who admitted defeat at the mere sound of a war-horn.

“There is something bothering you, of that I am certain. You could tell me the reason and get it off your mind or brood over it and be unhappy the whole day. It is your decision”, he quipped.

By this time, Surya was so confused and chagrined that he needed no further invitation to blurt out the whole incident. Thushar was awfully quiet throughout the narrative and wore a very serious expression on his face once Surya finished his story.

“This is nothing but silly infatuation”, declared Thushar. “It happens to everyone at this age. The prudent thing to do is to forget the whole thing including your wide-eyed beauty and concentrate on your studies.” He was brutally straight-forward and his thinly veiled sarcasm hurt Surya slightly. He nodded his head and kept quiet.

He did not meet the girl the whole day but not for the lack of effort on his part. He searched and looked around like a gazelle smelling danger, all day long. She was obviously a junior student who had joined the college recently and they had classes throughout the day. Surya longed for another meeting with her, but could not yet make up his mind as to what he would do in case he met her again.

He thought about saying ‘Hello’ and introducing himself, but decided against it. Thushar’s words rang at the back of his head and Surya hated himself for not being able to counter the logic behind Thushar’s tirade.

The college stood in a 15-acre campus and the academic block was the biggest building in it. Towering high at 5 stories and surrounded by manicured lawns, the academic block was an imposing structure. The library was the second largest building and was adjacent to the academic block on the eastern side. Surya and Thushar particularly liked the walk from the academic block to the canteen, since it resembled a boulevard. Gulmohar trees lined the walk and shed blood-red flowers onto the concrete path making it look like a red carpet under the soothing shade of the trees.

Surya, Thushar and a bunch of their classmates were sitting and chatting about a new movie one afternoon under one of these Gulmohar trees, when he met her for the second time. One week had passed since that fateful rainy morning and since then Surya had not stopped looking for her. Even though he had not been able to find her, he had described her fairly accurately to the junior boys in his hostel and had obtained her details. Her name was Tanvi. She was an Electronics engineering student and was staying in one of the new ladies’ hostels that had sprung up around the college campus. Surya had also made a few unsuccessful rounds on his bike in front of that hostel hoping to catch a glimpse of her. So it was with surprised elation that he watched her walk past him.

Surya nudged Thushar and pointed her out to him. He took one look and gave a derisive snort and continued to chat with the group. Surya was angry and swore at Thushar under his breath. He got up, made an excuse to go to the canteen and followed her. He could feel Thushar’s eyes burning holes at the back of his head and he knew better than to look back and confront that disapproving glance.

Surya had felt fairly confident when he was walking towards the canteen. But all that confidence oozed out of him, like sand in a sieve, when he entered the canteen and was replaced by wave of anxiety when he finally saw her in the canteen. There were ten rows of tables in the canteen, with an aisle in the middle. She had chosen the table closest to the serving counter. She had a book open in front of her and a glass of lemonade by the side of the book, from which she took sips intermittently, all the while having her eyes fixed on the pages of the book. He walked to the serving counter while trying his best not to cast a glance at her. He pretended to be suddenly interested in a sambar-stain on the canteen wall and tried to discern a pattern out of the stain. It seemed like the portrait of an emaciated man with a goatee.

Surya reached the serving counter and was at a loss. He was not hungry nor was he thirsty. The canteen-boy approached him with the usual disinterested expression as though he dared Surya to order anything.

“One coke”, said Surya.

While the canteen boy was going through an elaborate process to bring the bottle of coke, Surya cast a furtive glance at Tanvi. Her hair was perfect. Everything about her was perfect. She was the perfect girl with perfect, beautiful, round eyes. He longed to run his hands through her hair. But when he realized the turn of his thoughts, he was ashamed of himself. “Is my attraction to this girl merely a carnal infatuation?” wondered Surya.

Suddenly Tanvi looked up from the book and caught Surya staring at her. Surya was embarrassed and quickly averted his glance and became interested in the sambar-stain once again. But he could see out of the corner of his eyes that she was studying him. He would have given away his most treasured earthly possession, his motorbike, to anyone who could tell him the expression on her face at that very moment.

The canteen boy banged the coke bottle on the counter and croaked, “Ten rupees”. Surya felt his hands quiver when he took his wallet out of his pockets. Was it a result of excitement or fear, he was not certain. He paid for the coke and turned to leave. She was looking at him still.

Surya felt that he should speak. But he felt his throat dry up and he could hear his heart pound hard and if it could go any faster it would have found its way out of his rib cage.

[To be continued]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Love - Reloaded, Part 1

Is it possible to fall in love when you have once been stung and hurt once in a love gone bad?

This is a question which Surya had pondered many times over. The answer always eluded him.

It all happened when he was into the second year of his engineering education. The first year was particularly good to him. He had scored high in almost all subjects. His parents, like other Indian parents, were all for rewarding good academic performance and so at the age of 19, Surya was a proud owner of a 100cc motorbike.

Life seemed full of promise and he flitted through it like a bird in favorable wind. At times he would tarry and think about his life, but since nothing was amiss, he would dismiss such thoughts as quickly as they appeared. He did not know that all of it would change in a while.

Surya had found a true comrade, in Thushar. They were classmates and had met during the interactions of senior students with juniors. Such interactions were fondly called as Personality Development Programs (PDP). Thushar was a matter-of-fact person who answered the seniors' questions boldly and he had to face a lot of heat. Surya realized that having such a person around would help him to pass unnoticed below the radar and draw away the attention of seniors and so he be-friended Thushar.

The friendship which had its beginning under such dubious circumstances, flourished and before long, they were bosom friends.

It was into this perfect little world of Surya, that she unknowingly stumbled in.

He met her on a wet and chilly morning of August. Surya enjoyed riding his bike when it drizzled. He felt the small droplets of rain, falling from the sky with wanton freedom, finally settling on him, caressing and comforting him and as always it made him think of God. Even though he was brought up in a very conservative family, his thoughts about God and his spiritual inclination were very liberal. He refused to indulge in the idea of a God who punishes people who do not worship him and showers blessings on those who praise Him. Whenever his parents tried to make him pray by threatening him about the wrath of God, he pictured his high school headmaster stooping down with a cane in his hand. But, invariably whenever it rained, Surya felt an overwhelming sensation of loneliness. In those hours of solitude, he felt an inexplicable presence which made him happy and sad, all at once.

Surya parked his bike and entered the academic block of his college. Students and teachers were walking in from all directions. She walked past him and she was dripping wet after running in the rain without an umbrella. She brushed her wet hair from her face and Surya was rooted to the ground. She looked around with a troubled expression on her face probably because her clothes were dripping water all over the floor and her books, which she hugged close to her body as if to protect them from some unspeakable evil, were also soggy from the rain. But Surya did not notice any of this. He was looking at her eyes. Here was an object upon which he could write poems upon poems and still not do justice to its beauty. Her hazel-brown eyes sparkled with a spirit that refused to be dampened even by the rain that had soaked her to her very skin. When her eyes met his, he felt that his soul had left him to embark upon a journey, never to return to him. It is uncertain whether she felt any such sensations because she gave him a quizzical look, as if to ask, "What are you looking at?" and hurried along to her classroom.

Surya could not move from where he was standing for a while. He was trying hard to remember those eyes and imprint them in his memory. It was more like trying to remember an elusive tune of music; the moment you feel that you have found it, it slips past and plays hide-and-seek with you. Somebody went past him and said, "Hi Surya". He came out of his reverie and realized that the vague memory of those eyes would haunt him. His life had taken a different turn at that very moment.

[To be continued]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I am Zango – Memoirs of a dog

I am Zango. I am the only dog in Institute of Management Technology who has not enrolled for PGDM course, but still get to stay in the campus. I have heard that it is customary among humans and pseudo-humans to greet each other by ‘introducing’ themselves. We, who belong to the great species called dogs, usually sniff and growl and acknowledge the presence of a fellow dog.

I am not one to go against conventional social gestures. So let me introduce myself. I was born somewhere in Ghaziabad. My life before settling down in IMT was one full of action. Even when I was a puppy, I was aggressive and knew what I wanted in life. I grew up in the market, fighting bigger, ferocious dogs to eat crumbs of food thrown out by the humans. Later on as I too became big, I was feared and respected and went on to control a gang. The gang of dogs under my control were all paw-picked by me to stand by my side and fight for our territory. I was undefeated in several fights and controlled a majority of the market. My gang was flourishing when along came a bigger dog than me, who intimidated my canine friends into feline submission and banished me to IMT for the rest of my life.

IMT – the hallowed halls of this institution had seen many budding managers walk the talk. The corridors of the hostels had seen many dogs like me too. I had walked in with trepidation and was pleasantly surprised to find the rest of the dogs welcoming me into their fold with open paws. They sniffed and puffed around me and one of them beckoned me to the back door of the mess, which was like being led to a promised land. The amount of food and the comforts accorded by the place was overwhelming for my eyes which had hitherto been accustomed to street fights.

I walked around the campus with my eyes widening with wonder to the point that it could not widen any further. The humans were cordial to me. Most of them did not pay any attention to me, but there were some who flicked their fingers at me. I wagged my tail the appropriate amount to make those knuckleheads feel superior and they fed me biscuits and bread. I growled to myself, “If there is a heaven on earth, it is here”.

I spent two dog years in IMT (dog year also consists of 365 days, but the only difference from a human year is that, we celebrate new year at the start of our mating season, but that is a topic for another time). The first few days of my life were tough. I had to learn the ropes of the place. I realized that mess secretary and mess committee members are the most important people in the whole world. They held the power to stop your food supply. But it was easy to spot a mess committee member. They were invariably well-fed and had a look of contentment on their face, as though they were at peace with the world. I always stretched my paws and wagged my tail vigorously whenever those merchants of God walked by me.

But there were times, initially, when I was stumped by the behaviour of humans. There were two or three hostel blocks where males, even male dogs were not allowed to go into. The security guards waited outside these hostels with whistles in hands and shooed us away, if we came within a mile radius of these hostels. I realized that among humans, there existed a sub-species commonly referred to as girls or women or something of that sort. They were the protected species. Due to this blockade and sense of mystery surrounding them, I usually kept away from them. Therefore, I made the hostel adjacent to the mess, the B-block, my home. But I realized that the protected species, did not want to be protected after all. One night, after having my dinner, I went back with my friend, Bingo, to b-block to catch up on my beauty sleep and was surprised to find many girls or women or whatever they are called, in the b-block. I looked quizzically at Bingo, who growled in derision, “The security should be here where all the females are. Humans!!! I will be damned if I ever understand them”. He chased his tail for a while and settled down for his nap.

I fondly remember the times when the humans became very mellow and treated us like their kith and kin. Those occasions came along twice a year, during the Fresher’s party and the Farewell party. All the human folk, inhabiting the great land of IMT came together as one and there was no place for any differentiation of creed or sex or, as is my case, species. The SAC members would be making announcements into the PA system with their usual gusto and they would be present in their usual splendour and people would be singing their glory. Their tone, heard over the public-address system, would progress from being magnanimous to downright condescending, but I never blamed them. It is not in everyone’s bones to handle inebriation with equanimity. There were times when some guys tried to make me smoke a joint. I made it a point to politely refuse because we dogs, unlike humans, find it particularly difficult to simultaneously bite and suck the life out of anyone or anything.

Let me not bore my esteemed readers (I found out that sycophancy is an important tool in a human being’s life at IMT), with any further details of my stay at IMT. Without much further ado, let me take you all to the current whereabouts of my existence. I met a lady. A human lady, quite unlike the ones I was accustomed to, while living in IMT. She was very fair, and her tongue was far removed from the one that I heard from the brown ones. I would have to mention that, two years of life at IMT had made me look resplendent; my coat of fur had gained a remarkable lustre, my eyes had regained its fire and my body was toned. It was when I was in this prime condition that I met her. Our eyes locked across the concrete desert fondly called as the basket ball court. We both felt an immediate connection to one another. I ran up to her and wagged my tail and sniffed. She brushed aside the group of attention-seekers (humans) around her and started petting me. She cooed soothing words and spoke in a voice that sounded like chimes in a zephyr.

I was in love. It was not the love-of-convenience found in IMT, but the real deal. I mooned over her deep blue eyes and blonde hair. She was French (I had roamed around the class rooms where International Relations Committee-humans held their language classes. Now, I could discern French, Mandarin, German and Spanish from the other human tongues. Only English eluded me because so many different versions of it were present in IMT, like South Indian version, Mallu version, and Punjabi version and then there were people who considered themselves as the catch whiskers of English language...It was a melee). So when she whispered sweet nothings in French, to me it felt like my world was coming alive finally. She and I spent three months of her stay in IMT, almost always together. She took care of me the whole time and time went along in a fast-paced chariot. Finally, it was time for her to leave. I was devastated.

I followed her to the cab waiting to take her to the airport. My eyes and my tail drooped and I tugged at her legs while she was getting into the cab. An ill-concealed sob escaped her at that moment and she turned to look at me with pursed lips and a change came over her. Her face contorted as though she had come to a quick but inevitable decision and she opened one of her huge boxes, put me in it and taped it. She made an air-hole from outside, looked inside, put her finger to her lips and said, “Shh!!!” This was required because I was as quiet as a student in an IMT group discussion. In other words, I was howling myself hoarse. I finally got the drift and decided to keep quiet.

When you are in a box and have lots of time in your paws, you tend to reflect upon your life. It is during this reflection that you have stumbled across me. I am in the cab and probably making my way to France. I have heard of others going on exchange programs, but they return in three months time. I hope mine is a one-way ticket. I scratch my neck and lick my paws and settle down in the box. I am embarking upon a new journey; a journey that will take me far away from IMT. Will I miss the place? I do not know yet. But I am sure IMT will miss me, so much so that knuckleheads will write baseless stories about me and may be even poems. But that is me; I leave a huge impression behind...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Being a manager...

My conscious and subconscious mind keep running into each other, much like children on a busy playground. I will tell you what has brought me into this state of reverie... I have had four lectures today and so I am slightly sleep-deprived, ever so slightly boggled by the volume of work to be done as assignments and mildly concussed after literally knocking my head against the wall.

The MBA world is a different place altogether. You enter and you feel a sudden chill and a premonition of impending danger. You take bold steps forward, because your honor is at stake. You have to live up to the expectations of people ranging from your parents, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends, neighbors, aunts and uncles and even the cab driver who brought you to the gates of the b-school and felt the need to charge you extra because you are going to be a manager someday.

So you take the plunge into this abyss where the din is deafening. India has got numerous b-schools and each and every one of them churn out numerous managers every year. By next year I will be one among those many managers. It is going to be a scramble to make my voice heard and to stand up and be counted in the crowd. But those are all things in the future. From where I am currently precariously placed, these problems look ages away.

My immediate concern is to present a case on Hitler tomorrow and to come up with a project for my Sales Management class by this weekend. According to my professor, there are lot of strategic lessons to be learned from Hitler's conquest and his ultimate failure. Sun Tzu's art of war is another book from which we have to gain insights. I think the message to be drawn is, 'Lock and load boys, we are going to war'.

It is time to forget all good things, nice and dandy, in this world. Now, when I see a child happily eating ice-cream all I can think of is about the brand of the ice-cream and what positioning made the consumer (the kid) to buy the product. I have been successfully institutionalized.

I have chosen my road. Sometimes, I muse about the road not taken. But I guess, it is a case of the grass being greener on the other side. Now I am expected to think and act like a manager. The time to tarry is long gone. Let me immerse myself in the life that I have chosen for myself and make the most of it. My Bar Mitzvah is over and it is time for me to take charge...