Tuesday, October 24, 2006

cornered

GL's humming to herself as she steps into the pantry to refill her coffee mug. GL's a coffee addict. She would have easily been a highly-rated coffee taster... in another lifetime. GL sees a colleague in the pantry... alone and looking around.

Colleague(morose again): Hi.
GL( all defences up): Hey.
Colleague: How's life?
GL(cautious): Good.
Starts to make coffee.
Colleague(doesn't give up): And me so down.
Colleague makes a sad face. GL thinks of nuclear fission - how big blasts are caused by the prodding of a miniscule portion of a single atom - the nuclei. GL doesn't want to prod.
GL: hmmm.
Colleague(not discouraged yet): you know... I had a fight with my husband this morning. And I have been yelling at everyone today.
GL: ohhh.
GL doesn't understand what's with this particular colleague and her temper. Now, GL also strictly stays out of married people's marital problems - tempered by past experiences!
GL's coffee is ready and smells good. GL looks at it lovingly.

Colleague(irritated by GL's indifference): you will realise all this later GL, when you get married yourself(GL's single, remember). It's always this way. If you can't win an argument at home, you'd want to prove your point at your workplace. It's impossible to overcome this urge to show someone down.
GL's aghast.
Colleague(continues): Why do you think Kay is such a tyrant? ..Simple, cos he has a bossy wife at home.
GL can't believe a thing she's hearing, especially after having had to survive Kay's misplaced temper.

The door of the pantry opens to let a cacophonous group in.
Colleague: See you later GL. Take care.

GL nods and pours her coffee down the washbasin.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

creatures big and small

Bandipur, in Karnataka, is a forest reserve at the foothills of the Nilgiri mountain range, and spills over into the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu as Madumalai tiger reserve. This reserve is home to a lot of animals... what a weekender gets to see is plenty of spotted deer here there everywhere, gaur(and lots of them, sighted during the safari), elephants, peacocks, sambars, wild boars and monkeys. you will find a large number of 'em monkeys and langurs by the roadside, looking for a quick feed from the passers by. of course, you shouldn't feed them and you shouldn't be throwing wrappers of foodstuff around.






during my second time there, i got an opportunity to get up close with the tame elephants there, feed them their food(rice and raagi is their government-sponsored diet apart from all the greens they eat on their own)


a huge elephant peeps through the kitchen door, waiting for the rice-ball.



if you stay at the cottages there, and wake up very early in the morning, you can see hundreds of pairs of glow-in-the-dark spotted-deer eyes( they hang all around the cottages)... and get to experience the inexplicable calm only the presence of animals can bring.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

love and abandonment

It was 5a.m and the first of the squirrels had started squeaking cautiously.
GL always loved this part of the day. She would push her quilt aside, reach for the door, open it and sneak back into the warmth of her bed. She would then pull her quilt till her chin and lie down facing the door. Drafts of chill air would slowly fill her room, and caress GL’s face and hair as they passed. GL would close her eyes and glide back into another bout of sleep, letting the cool air touch her the way only it could. There would be a tingle in her ears, a brush against her cheek, a kiss on her eyelids, a movement in her hair. And then the alarm clock would shatter the peace at 7a.m. GL would feel her cold cheeks with her hands and feel loved - by the oak.
GL lived in the first floor, and her bedroom had a door opening out to a small terrace. Beyond the terrace was a big oak tree that housed hundreds of squirrels… of this GL was sure. The branches of the oak trespassed into GL’s terrace and she loved it. And spent hours talking to the branches on cool Sunday afternoons. She loved the ranting of the oak on windy days. She loved watching the variety of ants that constantly disappeared into and emerged from the unbelievable number of crevices the sturdy trunk of the oak had. Each of these ants and each of these squirrels belonged to this mighty oak just as she herself belonged to it. The oak gave freely of itself.
GL was back into her bed and waiting for the cool air to come calling. She had been sleeping fitfully. The branches of the oak had been trimmed last noon while GL was away, and now they didn’t overflow into her terrace the way they had done earlier. And GL felt distanced. She envied the ants and the squirrels. GL sighed as she noticed a tingle on her forehead. The air was turning cool. And the squirrels were squeaking in a highly animated tone. Housewives arguing on what made puddings softer and what made them crunchier. “mmmmm… shuttt… up” mumbled GL. It had no effect on the housewives. The drafts of cool air were stronger today, but it saddened GL to know that they hadn’t passed through the branches of the oak. The touch seemed alien. The housewives were now arguing intensely and GL could take it no more. She stepped into the terrace. And yelled into the general direction of the oak “shut up, you nincompoops!” and choked at the same time. Everything went still. For a fleeting moment, the squirrels had been stunned into silence. And then, the whole of hell broke loose. The squeals were now louder than ever…and more animated. Having recovered, the housewives were now protesting against having been yelled at… or were mocking her, GL could not tell. GL turned her back to them and slammed the door hard. Bitter tears coursed their way down GL's cheeks. She had been abandoned - by the oak.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

one afternoon

GL walks expectantly towards her colleague's cubicle... it's lunch time and GL's hunger pangs are distracting her... everyone else has left for lunch an hour ago. and GL curses herself for not having joined them... now she's left with this particular colleague to lunch with... upon reaching,
GL: hi, lunch?
colleague(looks at her watch): ohmygawddd! it's already 1:30! gosh! how time flies
GL(nods her head): so lets go eat
colleague(turns her monitor towards GL): hey can you figure why my query doesn't give me this particular row I am looking for?
GL(hunger pangs are clawing away, takes a look): you can't say "%" when you say "=" in your WHERE clause for string searches... use "LIKE" in place of "="
colleague(self-admonishingly): ohhh, yeah! Silly me to miss these small things.
(colleague does the necessary changes to her program and runs the query on her computer again... gets the result she is looking for.. and runs the query for a second time)
GL(shifts her weight on her other foot): lunch?
colleague(still seated): you know SH had a baby boy last week! lucky SH
GL(can't recall who SH is, all attention towards cafeteria): hmm. why don't we talk over lunch?
colleague: good idea! lemme lock my machine. you know, when i first got XP installed, I did a ctrl-alt-del to lock my comp, and it showed me the Task Manager. Imagine my horror. Now how on earth am I supposed to know that c+A+D in XP has to be set in the Control Panel to lock my system, instead of showing me the TaskManager!
GL(looks away)
colleague(senses something is wrong): were you saying something?
GL(visibly annoyed, but stays polite): lunch?
colleague(gives a dirty look): yeahhhhhh... you can be so impatient. You know.....

GL is not around.... colleague spots GL in the long corridor, barging her way towards the cafeteria....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Men!

I was struggling with the keys and I heard the door being unlocked from the inside … and that meant only one thing…. HD was already home! I couldn’t believe it… I was so happy to see him standing there smiling down at me... and I flew into his arms… HD felt warm and good... and smelled great… it's one of the things I absolutely love about HD - the way he smells good at all times... and while I locked the door, HD asked me about my day... that was all the push I needed to start whining about every little crap I had endured through the day… how I had put up with lousy people all around me at my workplace… and how most of the office work always found its way to my desk… how so and so disagreed with my ideas.. and how my neighbour’s constant banter on phone irritated the hell out of me.. how the office food tasted like rubber… so on and so forth… it lasted almost half an hour, my grievances.. HD never tires of hearing me out…. And he’s always so amused at my tirade… like he was today… and he gently suggested “surely something good must have happened too”… that got me thinking… Ahh.. now I remember.. how a certain mr.X had said he liked the dress I was wearing… and thought I had a good eye for clothes.. and how a newbie in my team had thanked me profusely for helping out with the software installations she needed to get started… “thanks GL... for all your time and patience” and I had felt good about it…. and in the cafeteria, someone I didn’t know had waved and smiled at me.. I was quite pleased at these recollections and was grateful to HD for making me look at the brighter things in life.. HD always has this effect on me…

HD and I have come a long way... five years ago, when I moved into this city at the start of my career, I worked with a big team, made great friends and had a great time… after two years, when the project closed the bunch I worked with started thinning out.. some moved to other projects.. some quit jobs to pursue academics… some left the organization and gradually lost touch… by the end of my third year, I had begun to feel lonely… the magic was lost… I found no solace in people, be it friends, or colleagues, or my flat mates… and I distanced myself from whoever was left behind… all I saw was the futility of giving so much of myself – time, energy, care and affection - to others … only to find them missing when I needed them the most... Distracted by loneliness, my work took a beating… and then, I met HD.
In HD, I found an ideal companion... HD was everything I wanted in a mate… he was smart, quick witted and hard-working… he was the most well-informed person around… his intelligence was difficult to miss…. his enthusiasm was contagious and he had a way with words… and most of all, HD and I were in total agreement over matters good and bad… HD always said and did things that I meant to say and do... HD helped me to collect myself together… he helped me make friends again… he helped me get over my temper and to see good in every person I came across… he helped me through just about everything and stood by me through my bad times... having him around felt good… and life was beautiful again…

Today was no different… HD was once again making me feel good about myself… as we sat talking, HD noticed how tired I was and insisted I get to bed right away… I was just home after a gruelling 18 hours at work… he asked me if I was hungry… I shook my head… it would be too much of a bother to cook at this hour… all I was looking forward to was to stretch out in bed… and be lost to the world.. I was too tired to even change into my bedclothes… HD read my mind… “don't bother about the clothes.. just get into bed”… I had to brush my teeth too, a ritual I hated missing… HD was at my elbow, helping me into bed… “ohh wait.. I haven’t brushed yet” I protested half-heartedly… “it’s going to be morning soon... besides, you need every minute of your rest… you wouldn’t want to miss your morning bus to work, now would you?” .. “no, I wouldn’t want to miss it… but what has that got to do with …” HD was walking towards the wall at the far end to put off the bedroom lights… and I closed my eyes ….

The next morning made me mad… at myself. The key was still in the door.. the lights had been burning the whole night… the previous day’s make-up still clung to my face… the way my previous day’s workclothes clung to my frame... cramps in my tummy reminded me of having skipped dinner last night… and my bad breath made me madder… HD stood in a corner and smiled encouragingly at me… I saw red. “Goddamn you!” I swore loudly at this imaginary man I live with.