Sunday, October 28, 2012

Surprise!

This is indeed very surprising. I wanted to surprise my readers with another blog. Instead I ended up being very surprised. Coincidence? or another luck by chance? Anyway, like many others, I feel as if I have developed some angelic wings and want to fly high till I reach the Eiffel Tower! I am simply so happy and excited. This is my first blog award and that too being nominated by two awesome and cool bloggers is like a dream come true. Seriously, not kidding! 



First of all, I would like to thank Madhavi and Shilpi Karnani for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award. So here it goes..... 

11 facts about me:

1. Blogging is my passion. Can't live without it. The day I don't blog, I feel guilty.
2. A bibliophile by birth.
3. A foodie and my favourites are paneer and barfi.
4. Software Engineer but dont ask me anything technical.
5. Hate to waste my time.
6. Like to travel in different cities.
7. Short-tempered like my dad.
8. I can read my favourite novels again and again without getting bored.
9. Greatest fan of John Cena, Salman Khan, Rahul Kanwal and Shobhaa De
10. I am stubborn and love the spotlight.
11. My family is my greatest support.


 Now here are the answers for the questions set by Madhavi:  
      
     1. Your favourite person in life(can be friend, cousin, teacher, etc) not personality.
        :  Safina (my best friend).
 
     2. Ever frightened because of a dream? 
       : Yes. Loads of time. I wake up, see left and right, then again go back to sleep!
     
     3. Describe you in one word?
      : Unpredictable.
 
     4. Reason that why you like the person most(that you mentioned in the first question)
      : She is always with me when I need her the most. 
 
     5. Your realistic target in your life to achieve 
      : To become an author
    
     6. Ever helped an unknown person?
      : Sometimes.
 
     7. Fun or most memorable moment in your school life?
      : When board exam results were out. 
 
     8. Are you frequent dreamer? If so, what kind of dreams you get? 
      : I am a day-dreamer. I fantasize about a lot of things.
 
     9. What is life according to you? 
      : The simpler, the better.
   
   10. If are a super-human, what will you contribute to this world? 
      : I will try to eradicate corruption. But I dont think whether that would be possible in India even with    super-human powers......

    11.Last question and which is aspect of my blog you like it most? Look&feel or Writing...
      : The  comments section!




Now time for Shilpi's questions!

1. One thing you would love to change about yourself.
  :  I would love to know how to sleep late in the mornings at weekends.....

2. Your favourite book/movie you would love to watch again and again
  : Harry Potter.

3. Sweet or spicy stuff.
 : Sweet

4. Early riser or a late night person.
  : Early riser.

5. Which aspect of blogging do you love the most?
  : Comments.

6. If you meet God one day, what would you ask him?
  : I would ask him to let me and my family be fit and healthy always.

7. Do you believe in luck?
  : A bit.

8. Is it possible to have a person fall in love at first sight?
   : Possible, you just have to follow in the footsteps of Shahrukh Khan. 

9. Do you think happiness comes with money?
  : Nope

10. One person in your life you miss desparately.
     : My family members. (I am far away from them right now geographically!)

11. Your views on my blog.
    : Your magical life is infectious. Those who read it not only get inspired but also break a smile. Cheers!

Here are my questions for the nominee bloggers:

1. Given a chance to visit any other country, where would you go and why.
2. The thing you hate the most about yourself.
3.  A unforgettable train/plane/vehicle journey describe
4. Your favourite bollywood movie 
5. Given a chance to act as a leading role in a movie, who would you like to be paired opposite you.
6. What you don't like about the Indian Cricket team.
7. Your favourite news channel/newspaper and news anchor/journalist.
8. Your greatest support in life.
9. What would you do if the world is going to end tomorrow.
10. Which aspect of India would you like to change.
11. What you like/hate about my blog.

**Here are the details on receiving this award**
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you've nominated to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post
4. Go to their page and inform them.
 
post this image for the award

Congratulations to the nominees and may God bless the human being who invented blogging :)



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do Not Disturb Please!

This incident happened a few months back though I am penning it down now. I prefer to work on my laptop or even an access to a desktop computer would do for me. But one day I had to go to the nearest internet cafe to check some important mails. Luckily I met one of my friends there, already busy typing in a corner. We smiled and I was alotted a place next to a man having a video chat. I couldn't log-in and got frustrated with the slow speed of the computer. I decided to ask the manager and stood up. The man politely shifted his seat  twice to let me pass without hindrance. It was on the second time that I noticed he was chatting with a girl, half-lying on the bed infront of her laptop. I quietly sat in my place and logged in my account. This time I was successful.

Suddenly, I heard a loud laugh. Everbody in the vicinity turned including me. It was the same man. He had his set of head-phones on and was busy chatting with the girl online, completely unaware of his surrounding. I was surprised and instinctively turned towards my friend. She mouthed 'roz ka natak hai' and went back to typing ferociously. I too quickly turned and stared at the monitor infront of me.  

"Jaanu........"   

This time it was unexpected. I laughed out unable to control myself. The man was full-on flirting online passing lewd comments. I couldn't understand whether she was his girlfriend or a call-girl.

"Thoda sa aur side main....please......thoda sa" he pleaded looking like he wanted to go inside the monitor. 

I was highly embarrased. What the hell! I couldn't concentrate on my work. Feeling goosebumps and uncomfortable, I tried hard not to hear his conversation but failed. He didn't help either. He stretched on his rolling chair and continued talking on his head-phones very loudly. Some of the words he used I cannot even mention. I am not that bold enough. One by one, people were vacating the place. My friend gave up first. She shook her head, giggled and went away, pointing to me to join her soon. But I was not ready to give it up so easily. I had paid cash in advance to avail the internet facility. I decided to bring it to the notice of the manager. I stood up and the man again shifted his seat politely for the third time and smiled. I ignored it and started walking forward. Imagine my disbelief when I saw another customer having a video chat with a girl. What the hell was happening?

"Excuse me!" I said to the manager. 

"Yes?" he asked, removing his own head-phones. I couldn't see what was on his monitor.

"I am not able to concentrate. Look at that man....." I tried to put forward my view.

He understood what I meant. But the next moment he asked,

"What do you want me to do?"

I couldn't answer properly. Understanding my irritation he asked,

"What do you mean you can't concentrate? You are writing any exam or what?"

That did it. I turned and went back to my computer. This time when I passed him, he was behaving like a majnu, requesting his laila,

"Ek kiss please.....ek aur..."

So dear readers, what is the moral for the day? When you are video-chatting, do see that others around you don't get disturbed. Everyone cannot concentrate on infront of their PCs with the words jaanu and sexy lag rahi hai uttered one feet away from them. If you do want to express your love sentiments, kindly do it at a low volume please. Plus, we have lots of lover's points and beaches in the country. You can go to avail those free of cost facilities. But please spare the people sitting around you in an internet cafe. Some like listening romantic songs and watching  Hollywood movies but cannot tolerate it in reality happening live few steps away from them!

As for me, mera laptop zindabad. It's the best. No disturbance at all. 

   










   



Friday, October 12, 2012

Always With You..... (A Short Story)



He was walking on the road like a lost soul. He didn't know what to do or where to go. He cursed his company and then his life. All his dreams were about to shatter. He looked at the files he was carrying with anger and frustration. He had done so much hard work for the last ten years for the company. He had pushed himself beyond his own limits during each and every project he was handed. He had never complained or envied anybody. Yet life was mocking him right now. Wondering how to break the news infront of his family, he crossed the last signal and started walking towards the last building in the corner with worry lines on his forehead. He passed the main gate and saw his son playing Cricket with his friends, who wanted to become a Cricketer and play for India. But for that he needed good coaching which meant more money……..

Feeling let down, he marched straight into the elevator and reached his floor. Unaware of his surroundings, he walked straight towards the open door on his left. Nita was already waiting for him. She had seen him from the balcony. She smiled and opened the door more widely.

“So how was the day?” she asked, stretching her hand to take the files.

“Fine” he muttered without looking at her and went past her into the bathroom.

Nita lowered her hand and felt instinctively that something was wrong with her husband. She went into the kitchen and made tea. She brought it towards him, who was now sitting on the sofa, staring blankly at nothing. She sat beside him and looked closely.

“Anything wrong?” she asked softly.

“Where’s mother?” he asked, trying to avoid her question.

“She is resting in the bedroom. Her knees were aching again since afternoon” she answered without taking her eyes off him. When he still refused to look at her, she sat straight and took his hand.

“Suresh, you know you are not telling me something” she stated abruptly.

Suresh sighed. What was the point in hiding? Sometime or another, this will be known to everyone. Especially when the neighbours will see him sitting at home….

“They have given me the notice period. I have to leave the company by next week” his voice cracked and he lowered his head, unable to speak further.

He felt Nita gasp. He knew what she was thinking. Rent, school fees of children, maintenance fees, electricity bills, mobile bills and all the daily needs of survival like food and water needed money. Both of them depended on every month’s salary for fighting against the rising prices in the market. But now with no job, how would he cope? He didn't know when he will get a new job. He doubted whether he will ever get a new one any soon. And his elder son’s hostel fees were due and he had a next week appointment at a hospital for his diabetic mother. At the last thought, Suresh felt disgusted at himself. What kind of a son he was about to be proved, if he wouldn't be able to afford a good treatment for his own mother?   

“Don’t worry” Nita broke into his thoughts.

“Huh?” he turned and looked at his wife. She looked calm.

“Yes, you will find another job” she persisted.

Suresh stared. Here he was, all tensed and worried and expected a full burst of emotions from his wife. She was educated enough to know the competitive environment of different companies. She knew the effects of unemployment. She had herself gone through it immediately after they had got married. But that was for three months and he had got a new job based on someone’s reference. Now the time had changed. References hardly work nowadays. People, young and old, have to get through written tests, interviews, group discussions and more tough rounds to get any employment opportunity. What he would do this time, he couldn't think.

“It’s your company’s loss, losing an employee like you” Nita urged, “You, on the other hand, have so much experience at your disposal that you can work wherever you want.”   

Suresh smiled inspite of himself.

“You trust me, don’t you?” he asked earnestly, taking her hand in return.

“Completely” she smiled and looked at her husband with proud eyes. He doubted that he deserved them. As if reading her husband’s mind, Nita replied,

“Don’t worry. I will always be with you, no matter what.”

Though he had no job and no salary for the month, at that moment he felt that he was the most fortunate man on Earth. His worries vanished instantly. He had been worried sick since the time his company had given him the notice period. He had felt humiliated and scared to face his family and friends all alone. He knew the amount of gossip that would be created in the neighbourhood.  The unfairness of it would be the losing of respect he had created for himself in the society. But now he was ready to face anything, even unemployment. Seeing the determination of his wife, his confidence and strength rose.   He felt relieved and content with the thought that his wife was there with him, no matter what. She was ready to be with him happily even now when he had just lost his job. In every trouble she had been there to support him in the past. Even today when he was facing the worst crises in his life, his wife just told him not to worry about it. That was the extent she believed in him and his capabilities. What more could he ask for?  He hugged her and made up his mind to never let her down. Come what may, he would face it head on and fearlessly for her love and support. That was all he needed in life. His love and companion to be with him always, no matter what.      
        
   
  
  



         


    

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Life With Power Cuts



Since childhood, I have been fortunate enough to learn many new things in life. My father, a civil engineer, gets to work in different projects across India. So luckily, I have been brought up in different cities. I have learnt to adjust in new surroundings. But the only thing which I am still in the process of learning and I don’t know when I will achieve mastery in it is how to deal with power cuts. Yes, you read right. I am still unable to cope when there is a sudden power cut.  I feel frustrated and annoyed when the fan suddenly stops rotating when I need fresh air and the tube light goes out leaving me to face the dark. It's not my fault, is it? No school and tuition in India can teach 'the ultimate tool and guide to dealing with power cuts' because there is no such chapter in any book under the Indian syllabus. But still we deal with it everyday, in every city and in every state. So much that we have become used to it by now, haven’t we? Eventually we learn how to deal with it by experience. Our ancestors dealt with it and now we do it too!

The year of my board exams had a brand new inverter in my house in Alibag. It was the first in my colony. My father made it clear that power cuts would not come in the way of his daughter’s studies. Before that, many days were spent in partial darkness in the evenings. Power cut had specific timings and my mother used to finish cooking dinner before the much dreaded power supply could go.   

The summer holidays were spent in my home town in Uttar Pradesh. Every year, I had the experience of facing no power supply for 6-8 hrs. During that time I got acquainted with mosquito nets and mosquito coils. There was not a single house that did not have the Mortein coils. There I learnt to sleep on the terrace when there was no power at night. I could hardly sleep but my cousins slept soundly being used to it. But this was nothing compared to the condition in the rural areas. Occasionally I used to visit my relatives in Barhalganj in the Gorakhpur district which had power cut for straight 12 hrs. There was power supply in the morning but none at night. Phew! I could never stay there for more than few hours. I would pester my dad to get away from the place as soon as possible before nightfall.  

I shifted to Hyderabad before my graduation days had started. There were timely power cuts, the reason being lesser power production due to less rain. My apartment had no power supply for 2 hrs in the day time. And when it rained at night, we used to take out the candles before the power supply could go again. Heavy rains meant no future power supply for a few minutes for sure. We used to brace ourselves with matchbox, candles and sometimes torches. There used to be a mad rush for charging every single cell phone available in the house.  

Right now, I am in Chennai. The terms ‘load shedding’ and ‘maintenance’ I learnt in my engineering days but practically I see it here. Everyday, I read about the list of areas under power- shutdown-due-to-maintenance column in newspapers, always hoping that my area isn’t mentioned. The heat is almost too much to bear and no fans and ACs from 9am-5pm can ruin anyone’s day. Worst, once there was a power failure in the area for whole night! No power supply when your mind and soul wants to sleep soundly! Needless to say, the next day was a working day and people went back to their usual routine, sleepy-eyed and tired after fighting with mosquitoes whole night.  

The breakdown in power supply in the Northern region some time back created uproar in the country. No power supply for days is unbelievable but I am sure people there had gotten used to it too. Isn’t that what we have learnt from the day we were born? Bear the heat and mosquitoes with our mouth shut and get used to sleeping in the dark? Or purchase an inverter or a generator and just move on?

Sadly Power cuts have become part and parcel of our lives now. I wonder when it will stop to be so.      

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Rude Food by Vir Sanghvi


Rude Food is a collection of writings on food and drinks around the world, written by Vir Sanghvi who is a popular Indian journalist and a leading television anchor. The book deals with a variety of food stuffs and drinks that the author came across during his travels. He writes about real Chinese food, invention of Chicken Manchurian, love for chocolate bars, mouth-watering kakori kababs, texture of bhelpuri, mythology of tandoori chicken, idli-dosa trail, Goan food and McDonald’s. He also mentions about popularity of vanilla, mushrooming flavours, bread and butter pudding, desserts for adults, myths of pasta, universal charm of omelettes, hot dogs, golden rules of sandwich-making, mashed potato, and quality sausages. He talks about different kinds of wines and vanilla vodka. He also deals with various issues like how to handle rude waiters and airline foods being bad.

The author describes about the real Chinese food in Shanghai. He comes out with interesting facts like rice being not an integral part there and residents of Shanghai will eat anything that crawls, walks or flies. He recollects an incident when a shopkeeper tried to sell him an enormous snake with its tail stuffed into its mouth, rolled up inside a jar. Next is Bangkok where, according to the author, one can get the best fast food in the world-the Thai street food. The discovery of Sichuan cooking by Camellia Panjabi and invention of Chicken Manchurian by Nelson Wang is being traced. Then is a description of the durian- an ugly, disgusting-smelling fruit that tastes like heaven!

Bhelpuri has been discussed with respect to its texture and ingredients right from Bombay to Gujarat. A piece entitled-‘tipsy-turvy on the pm’s plane’ explains what happens when journalists get to travel with the prime minister. Another piece entitled ‘too exotic for good taste?’ mentions those places in the world where people like eating parts of the animals that most of the Indians will never touch. It includes stewed Pig’s Entrails, Fish Lips, Duck’s Feet, and deep fried insects like grasshoppers, locusts, yellow creepy-crawly bugs and cockroaches. A funny incident is mentioned in this piece wherein the author is invited to try out a local delicacy at Guyana on the South American mainland, which turns out to be a large rodent. The piece ‘who’s serving the who’s who’ tells about different celebrities like Bachchans and Ambanis and their most sought after restaurants.

The book tells about the Bombay restaurants the author grew up in which are Bombelli’s, Shetty’s, The Wilson Restaurant and Kwality’s. It also talks about Bombay Taj and Golden Dragon. In between, many simple recipes are jotted down that can be tried out at homes. Some of them are mashed potato recipe, Chicken Tikka sandwich, bread-and-butter pudding, scrambled eggs with salmon, cheeseless mushroom risotto etc.

Right from describing the origins and history behind the inventions of some popular food items, the writer has narrated about notable restaurants and chefs. The book ensures that the reader is engaged in reading till the end. You can start from whichever chapter you want. The author himself appeals to the readers in ‘a fragment of autobiography’ with the lines ‘Dip into it as you wish; read what you like first; pick any order that makes sense to you.’  So the book is an excellent read for all the foodies. And if you are a non-foodie, you may develop second thoughts after reading this incredibly cool and informative book on food and drinks.
  

         
                   

Friday, October 05, 2012

Travelling in a train nowadays......uh-oh!!


Indian trains are the life lines of many people in the country. It is one of the simple ways for travelling long distances. It provides lots of opportunities to travel within states and reach your destination. The population of India is more than the availability of trains. But we have accepted the overcrowded trains with open arms, just as we have got accustomed to its deteriorating condition and sorry state.

Firstly when anyone books the ticket online, there are 99.99% chances that it will be a waiting list. One has to mandatorily wait for the Tatkal system to open up in the morning. Then only you can book the ticket successfully. While sitting inside the trains in sleeper class, one has to be as alert as a watch dog for their luggage. It has become a tradition to put a steel chain around all the luggage bags to keep it safe and bounded together. Then no one can steal them away easily. Normally a lower berth meant for three people can be occupied by a fourth passenger. A request of Can-I-sit-for-two-minutes can stretch for hours. Passengers without tickets stand comfortably wherever they get a chance, mostly around toilets and compartment doors.

Any late arrival or departure is very common nowadays. Nobody raises an eyebrow on that. Is the train late? No problem, sit on the station and wait. We have gotten used to that. Another notable feature is the pantry food. It does not need any introduction, does it? We are all familiar with the pantry man selling cutlets, biryani, curds, bread omelets and other tightly wrapped food items. But the conditions in which these foods are cooked have been well exposed by the electronic media in the past. The pathetic and filthy state of the pantry is enough for a person to start seriously considering going on a strict fast while travelling in a train. That would be much healthier.

The windows are meant for getting fresh air and scenery view of the outside world. But they are mostly used by thieves to steal golden chains or mangalsutra of the ladies. If a handbag or a purse is also kept near an open window at night, it’s a guarantee that it will not be there in the morning. Passengers hardly sleep soundly at night fearing for the safety of their luggage. In this matter, the AC coaches are better off. There the windows are permanently closed. There are no security guards or police in the trains. Not in every coaches any way. On any station, a thief can board the train and get off quickly after stealing inside. Who is there to stop him in the semi-darkness?

Once I travelled in Garibrath Express and met a few unusual companions-cockroaches! They were everywhere. The mere sight of them made ladies uncomfortable. Imagine if you are eating your lunch, sharing with your family, laughing together, enjoying the zooming past view outside the window and out pops a big cockroach from behind. They had made their permanent residences near the windows, below the berths and on the seats. I lost my appetite and made a mental note to never travel in that train again. Never ever!

Two-tier and three-tier AC coaches provide blankets that sometimes give off an awful smell.  White towels have yellow patches on them. One day when I enquired the coach attendant about the filthy condition of my blanket, he replied helplessly that those are the bed rolls available. Fresh from the laundry, he added.    Whenever I travel to my hometown, the train is always late so much that my relatives deliberately come late to receive me, knowing very well in advance by their experience that the train would be late. This has become a routine. The train is never going to be on schedule. That’s for sure. After all this is the Indian railways I am talking about. What else can I expect?

With the introduction of new railway budgets, promises are made to bring about a revolution in the government owned Indian Railways which is the fourth largest railway network in the world. Started in 1853, it has nearly 64,015 km of track and 6,090 stations. It is used by approximately 20 million passengers daily. The ticket prices have increased remarkably but sadly the facilities have remained the same. Poor management, lack of maintenance and accidents has affected the whole system.


   

       
  

Thursday, October 04, 2012

"If Yuvi Can, You Can"



The shocking exit of India from the ICC T-20 world cup has disappointed fans all over the country. Inspite of winning against England, Pakistan and South Africa, we couldn't get the ticket to the semi finals. How fair is that? Cricket is an unpredictable game of numbers and points indeed. Even after playing well, when India loses, pain shots through several hearts. An outburst of anger is guaranteed from every Indian Cricket fans that are madly in love with the game and most importantly, the cricketers.

But there is good news for the fans to start celebrating. India’s prince is back with a bang. Facing a long battle with cancer, it is not easy for any sportsperson to regain his\her form. But the prince of Punjab aka Yuvraj Singh has not only won the battle against cancer but also has performed much better than expected on the field, thus silencing his critics forever. He practiced hard to be what he is today post cancer. He fielded well on the ground. He got some quick and important wickets that led to the pressure on the opponents. He looked fit and ever energetic. His brilliant performance earned him the Man of the Match award against the Proteas. He has dedicated it to his mother and all the cancer patients. What a gentleman!

What is it about Yuvraj, which lets him to be everyone’s favourite? The Indian media likes their Yuvi a lot. They would interview him any day rather than our prime minister, no doubt! He is full of glamour, style and Bollywood adores him. It is his aggressive cricketing abilities or maybe dashing charisma off the ground, but something about him is attractive to girls. Every Indian mother would love to have a Yuvi like son. Or Yuvi himself! If he gets into any controversy, it comes and goes in the news channels. Viewers like to gobble it all up. Any fresh news about him becomes breaking news overnight. Indian media just cannot leave him alone. Or Indians love to watch him on TV every time. Be it on the cricket field or an interview. He is the show-stopper of Indian Cricket. And our country’s greatest pride. When he doesn't play well, we criticize him immensely. When he hits every ball in an over for a six, even a threat of gun-fire wouldn't stop a Yuvi fan from dancing and jumping jubilantly. This is the limit of attachment that India has for its Cricket heartthrob.

Now that Yuvi is back in his form, he is sure to achieve many more milestones in future. His hunger for runs and delight in playing on the field has made him everyone’s favourite. Post cancer, he is ready to thunder once again and show his opponents not to take him lightly. It’s just what India is waiting for.

Welcome back, Yuvi!               

Monday, October 01, 2012

Food Diaries!




As I entered inside, the first word that came in my mind was ‘wow’. The place was bright with dim yellow lights and shining lanterns. The walls were covered with brown and decorative wallpapers. People were busy chatting away and eating. And eating with full concentration, I might add. The delicious looking delicacies looked too mouth-watering. The waiters were in full swing, going rapidly to and fro between the tables and trying their best to satisfy every empty stomach. All the tables were occupied. It was very hard to move but I managed to get in between them after getting help from different customers who either shoved themselves or their chairs out of my way.

When I finally sat, waiters came around me and started filling the beautiful bowls in my thali. One by one different varieties of Rajasthani vegetables were laid down. When the bowls were filled, a happily beaming waiter came with three different kinds of rotis. He placed it neatly in my thali and gave a broad smile. He was followed by another who kept down water and buttermilk. The food was unlimited to eat. Whatever anyone wanted was brought in a second. I tucked in happily. I got confused with the many bowls infront of me. Which should I try first? Gatte ki sabzi or Dal Bati Churma? Fruit custard looked good to start with while Dahi Wada was more inviting. Palak with corn was a complete new dish to me. I had never tasted that one before. 

I have tasted Rajasthani dishes before a lot of times. But there is something in this style of food that never lets me down. And if anyone eats it in a popular restaurant, you are sure to get bowled over by the hospitality of the waiters serving you patiently. This time my attention went to the waiter serving rotis. He smiled every time he served to anyone. Other waiters were obliged to do their work. But this one seemed to be enjoying it. He kept cropping up behind everyone's, demanding why they haven’t finished with their rotis! If anyone wanted more, he would appear out of thin air and magically drop the required amount of rotis in the thalis, beam at them and go away. Just like that! Sometimes he would serve and go between tables. Twice he put his work away and obliged to take a camera and click some pictures of the customers. I enjoyed this performance for quite some time while trying to finish everything infront of me. Needless to say, I failed to empty each and every bowl and finally stopped eating when my stomach started protesting. I had hardly put my spoon down when suddenly the waiter appeared.

Take one more roti, please” he insisted with an irresistible smile on his face.

I can’t” I confessed.

“Just one more” he pleaded, ready to drop another roti in my thali.

OK…but on one condition” I replied.

What is it?” he was surprised.

Can I take a picture?” I requested.

Sure” he replied and put down his tray. He extended his hand to take the camera that I had taken out of my purse.

He was mistaken.

No...No…..I meant that I want to take your picture” I clarified.

My picture?!” he was confused.

When I nodded in encouragement, his doubt vanished.

But…why?” he was perplexed and at the same time happy. His cute smile was back on track!

I wanted to tell him that it was because he was very humble and polite; ready to throw away his own tiredness and make others happy by fulfilling their hunger. His eyes showed his genuineness towards his work. He was a simple waiter who was not sad for his occupation. He worked honestly and so well, that people around him were getting hypnotized by his aura of simplicity and charm. He was satisfied in his small occupation and quite contented about it. He send out a strong message-be happy no matter what work you choose to do. One must learn to be satisfied with one’s life. Face trials and tribulations head-on with a cheerful face.

But I didn’t explain this to him. He already had too much work on his hands and I least wanted to be in his way. Instead I looked at him politely and turned to face him.

You are very kind, that’s why!” I said and raised my camera.

Wait…!” he objected hurriedly.

He straightened his collar, patted his oily hair, took back his tray of rotis from the table, raised it to the level of his shoulder and said smilingly,

Huh……..now click!







  


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stranger (A short story)-Part 2


She couldn’t believe it. She blinked her eyes several times which zeroed on the man standing beside her, who was looking more troubled as seconds passed by and he got no reply from his silent companion.

Any problem?” he asked.

“No, no…..it’s nothing…..umm…….you took me by surprise actually!” Mina confessed, “how come you are here?

I followed your auto. Just to check that you will reach here properly” he said distractedly.

Mina quickly recovered her composure and sat straight.

I am fine, you know. You need not have come” she replied calmly, eyeing him curiously.

She was impressed. After nearly avoiding a collision, most people on bikes run away and never look back. But this man here had not only apologized but also helped her and followed her auto to see that she does not come to any harm.

I just wanted to make sure that you reached here safely” he repeated.

Mina stared. He sat down on the opposite seat without waiting for any invitation.

I am Gopal” he introduced himself.

Mina” she replied, looking at him closely.

He was wearing a casual printed t-shirt. His hair waved and covered half of his forehead under the rotating fan. His eyes were dark brown contrasting his dark black hair which made him look more handsome. How she had missed that before, she wondered. Maybe it was the treacherous rain that had made her half blind.

The waiter appeared with 2 cups of tea. Without any explanation, he put it infront of both of them. Mina looked enquiringly at the waiter. She had ordered only one cup of tea. So why had the waiter brought two? Gopal had just come and never had placed any orders infront of her. But the waiter did not look at Mina. He arranged the cups, put down some more napkins from his tray and went away after giving a brief glance at Gopal, who ignored him.

Have you come for a visit here?” Gopal asked, sipping his tea and eyeing her heavy luggage on the floor.

No, it’s my best friend’s wedding after two weeks. So I have come in advance on her invitation” she smiled and added, “I have done lots of shopping for her in advance.

I can see that with the size of your suitcase!  So, how are you planning to go to her place?” he asked with a grin.

She was supposed to meet me at the bus stop. But she was in the middle of some meeting and my bus came ahead of schedule…..….”

Yes, but after so much time, still she is not here” he cut in.

I expect she is very busy. I told her to relax a bit when her marriage is so near. But you know, she is kind of a workaholic. She won’t bother even if anyone dies. She will go to work even then, no doubt” Mina shook her head as if this behaviour of her friend’s amused her a lot.

Gopal laughed. Some of the waiters passing by looked back at the pair of them. Mina sipped her tea and made a face.

What happened?” he asked.

Mina sighed, pushing her half drank tea cup away and said, “I like to have more ginger in my tea than sugar. But never get it so outside in any restaurant.

Gopal immediately stopped a passing waiter and ordered a ginger tea with less sugar.

“No need, Gopal. Don’t bother” Mina hurriedly interfered.

It’s OK. What’s the use of a restaurant if it cannot satisfy it’s own customer’s needs?” he said and sent the waiter away after Mina pleaded to cancel the fresh order.

Gopal didn’t seem to be convinced and kept asking her to change her mind. But when she did not budge, he came up with a new idea.

Don’t you want to eat anything?

Yes, I would love to. In fact, I’ll order something now…..” Mina said realizing that she had been very hungry all this time.

Tell you what; try one of the veg cheese sandwiches they make here. It’s always fresh and tasty” Gopal said with a smug expression.

Do you come here often?” Mina asked intently.

Yeah, now and then…you see, this restaurant is closest to my home. So I ONLY eat here” Gopal answered without looking in her eyes directly. Somehow, she felt that he was not being truthful.

They ordered sandwiches. Plus, Mina couldn’t help ordering some Jalebis.

Do you like it?” Gopal raised his eyebrows. Most of the girls he had met would shun away from any type of delicacies because of weight issues. Let alone in the early morning.

Very much” Mina replied happily.

Soon after, sandwiches were laid and Jalebis arrived more quickly. Gopal and Mina enjoyed their breakfast silently, nodding occasionally at the crispy bread or delicious chutney served. But Mina did not like the Jalebis.

It shouldn’t be like this” she grumbled, irritated at the sweet dish infront of her.

What?” Gopal managed to speak with his mouth still full of munching sandwich.

These should have more of that sweet thick liquid around it. You know, chasni” she explained, “Or else how are you supposed to enjoy it?

Oh…right” he muttered.

Mina’s mobile began vibrating. It was a message from her best friend. About time too, she thought.
                          
                          “array…..whr r u?
                           i m at d stop!
                           red ford, cme fast”

Mina turned a beaming face at Gopal and then sent a message.

                         “I m nt on d stp!:)
                          cme forward, i m stndng
                          outside d frst restrnt u c”

I got to go now. My friend is coming” Mina said and got up.

Sure you don’t me to drop you?” Gopal insisted.

No, she is coming here. So I just have to stand outside till I see her car” Mina replied and began arranging her luggage. She held her suitcase and turned for a final goodbye to Gopal.

Nice to meet you then” he said, holding out his hand.

Mina smiled and stretched her hand. They both had a warm handshake but none of them wanted to break it first.

It was nice meeting you too” Mina replied earnestly, breaking the handshake finally herself.

Goodbye and have a safe journey. Watch out for the bikes on road!” Gopal grinned.

I will! So…goodbye. And take care” Mina said with a small ache in her heart.

She turned and went on the counter at the reception area. She waited for a few seconds till a customer infront of her finished paying his bill. She moved to pay her bill when the man behind the counter refused to accept the amount of cash she was extending.

Your bill is already paid madam” he said cordially.

Already paid? Who paid it?!” Mina asked, quite surprised at the news.

That Sir, sitting with you madam” he replied, lowering his voice. He was astonished at the lady’s ignorance.

Mina turned and looked at the table she had just left. It was now occupied by some other customers. Gopal was no where to be seen. She scanned the whole area. But he was not there. How could he disappear so suddenly?

Meanwhile, a small queue had gathered behind Mina. She moved away, ready to go outside. She was nearly at the door when she saw it. There was a small portrait next to the counter amidst various awards and achievements, hanging on the wall for public display. She went towards it to have a closer look and gasped. Her eyes widened in shock. She turned to scan the place one last time but couldn’t find the person she wanted to see. Clearing her throat, she dragged her luggage and came to the counter again.

Excuse me?” she nearly shouted at the man behind the counter.

Yes ma’am, what is it?” he asked, perplexed at her scowling face.

I am sorry. But….Who is that?” she asked pointing at the portrait.

He looked at it and then at Mina. He answered softly.

Our boss. The owner of this restaurant, madam

Mina became confused. She looked madly at him thinking him to be joking. But when the man refused to break his composure, she decided to leave him at it. She went forward, pushed open the door and got outside. It was not raining. She walked a few feet away from the restaurant and then looked back at it again. Her eyes went up to the disbelieving name on it for the first time and she mouthed the words.

Gopal Eateries