Sunday, 9 October 2016


Gloomy skies and wintry nights
Hints of hollowness in empty eyes

Getting high, on doses of Endorphins
Byproduct of sobs without crises

Living is easy when expectations are low
Warmth and comforts are too hard to let go

Wonder what they call this state of being?
A refusal to crack the shells of feeling.

Surely enough I looked up the dictionary
There I found the name, the bitter sweet Melancholy!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Trinidad, Tobago and Hot Doubles


Summer 2014. We fly to Seattle from Tampa. Me and my teammates for the annual traffic bowl. We finish  (or so we like to believe) a close second. The connecting flight on the return in Phoenix is overbooked. I volunteer to take the next flight. I always wanted to do that!

I get $225 in travel credit and a business class seat on the next available flight. I already miss economy. Less murmur, less chitchat. The person next to me not even courteous enough to return a "Hello".

Summer 2015, time to reap the rewards, the travel credits would expire soon.

Where will I get the best bang for the buck? How far can I fly?
Introduction: Kayak Buzz and ITA.
It is Port of Spain, Trinidad.

What about visa?
VisaHQ says I'm good for 90 days.

All set. My first solo travel in quite a few years! Call the airline, Book the tickets.
Hmm. Easier said than done.

Me: ABC.. A as in Adam, B as in Brian, C as in Chris.
Customer Care: Err. Did you say "PQR"?

Found a Couchsurfing host for two days.
The other two days? Will figure out.
Atleast I don't need to think for others this time.

Chapter One: Murphy's Law
When you can miss the bus you will.
Ask your friend to drive you.
That will work!

When your flight can get delayed, it will.
Try to sleep while sitting. Act like you are getting sleep, you eventually will.

4 pm: Arrive at Port of Spain.
Eat Doubles aka modified Chole-Poori or miniature Channa Bhatura with custom made sauces.
Each vendor has different sauces. Each doubles is unique.

Doubles vendor: Pepper?
Yes - Thunder bucket in the morning
No - Oh you softy!
Slight - Delicious!

When the bus drivers can go on a strike, they will.
Plan B: Get a fellow traveler to share taxi and you pay 1/4th of it because he needs it more than you.

1 TT Dollar = 1/6 US Dollar = 10 Indian Rupees.
Example: Just paid 4 TT for Doubles or 40 Rupees for Chole Poori. That works! :D


Thanks to the oil owned by the islands. Gas is cheap ergo transportation.
Rental car: Around $300 TT a day
Bus: Around $4 TT per 10 kms (operated by the government of TT)
Maxi-Taxis: $4 TT per 5 kms. Operated by private individuals but regulated by government. Color coded by the routes. Very much safe and comfortable to travel.
Shared/Route Taxis: $4 TT per 4 kms
(You can not tell the difference between a shared taxi and a regular car. You just hold the thumb up with an optimism and hope that you get picked up. This is risky to an extent. Use caution)
Water Taxis and Inter Island ferry: $50 TT each direction from Port of Spain,Trinidad to Scarbourough, Tobago. $10 TT to Chaguaramas and $20 something to San Fernando.

Chapter Two: Joseph and George

Day 1, 6 pm, Downtown, Port of Spain

Joseph from St.Joseph works in a farm at Chaguaramas. Domesticates rabbits and goats for meat. His brother is agnostic where as Joseph is a conservative Catholic. He wants to preach and make others follow the path of Jesus. But he needs to stop smoking first, to enhance his moral compass. He finishes his second round of Cubans, I take a walk into the neighborhood grocery.

My ferry is scheduled to depart Trinidad at 11 pm, reach Tobago at 5 am.
I get myself a comfy cabin (except for freezing a/c) for $40 TT.
I read the news paper article about Trini girls who went missing after their water taxi ran out of fuel.

It is 8 am. I am afraid the ferry reached Scarborough and no one woke me up. I get up and go upstairs to take a look.

Beautiful morning. Ocean on one side, Scarborough on the other. The ferry is late by 3 hours. it happens everyday they say. Well, good for me! . I finish reading the news paper article. Trini girls found by Venezuelan coast guards, set to return home. Well, good for them!

Scarborough looks likes a small town, it smells like it too. They have a long boardwalk for the town of its size. I recall lonely planet talking about a memorial or something about St.George. I get out of the ferry and take a route taxi to St.George. Turns out, the only thing that is of interest there is a waste water plant. The taxi driver realizes I'm not from the islands. Till this point I am able to pickup Trini accent and camouflage myself as a Trini Indian. Now I am an "Indian Indian".

Taxi driver has a question for me: Who is greater: Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar?
When in Rome....  well.. you get it.

He drives me to Fort King George. The other place which lonely planet was talking about.
I roam around and catch the magnificent view of the ocean and Scarborough with a rooster who wouldn't let me be myself or let himself by himself. Who knows which one it was.

Chapter Three: Lazy Snorkeling and Roti

Day 2 Afternoon, I am at Buccoo to see the coral reef. The boat takes us to the reef. The captain asks if he anyone wants to do "lazy snorkeling". I say I can't swim properly but I volunteer. They put me into ocean with a life jacket and a pair of goggles. A rope to hold on to the boat, a rope that drags me around in the ocean as I look beneath to see the ocean bottom and the corals. There aren't many corals left with tourists like me around (Irony!). I drink too much salt water. Enough's enough.

There is a tiny piece of space in the middle of the ocean where the water is only knee high. They call it the "Nylon pool". The place where "Women become five years younger and men become five years wiser".

I go to a restaurant near Buccoo. They have a meal and also Roti.
I order the meal with Roti. The waitress gives me a look.

The food arrives. The Roti in TT turns out refers to the Roti back home stuffed with the curry, in this case veggie potato curry. It can also be some kind of meat if desired. Basically I had ordered two meals for one person.

I take the afternoon nap at the Pigeon Point. It starts raining. I go to the road stretch my arms with thumbs up, I get a ride to Scarborough. night ferry back to Trinidad (only this time, I fail to get a cabin, end up sleeping on the deck.

Chapter Four: Diamond in the Maracas Valley
Plan for Day 3: Go hike El Tucuche popularly known as "El Tucu" the second highest peak in Trinidad. It sits in the Maracas Valley and from its peak on a clear day, one can see the Maracas Bay and the ocean. And rumor has it, the trail to the top is "Devil's staircase".

I arrive at Curepe using a maxi from Port of Spain. "Diamond" from Santa Rita, the taxi driver, drives me from Curepe to the base of El Tucu and presents me with a blade which almost resembles a machete. I ask why is he giving me that. He replies, I will soon find out why.

The trail indeed turns out to be "Devil's Staircase" and often the difference between the trail and the woods being what I make out of the blade/machete. I reach the summit to meet the clouds which block the views of the Maracas Bay. The reward, the vista, no where to be seen. Alone on top of Trinidad, I decide to finally eat the doubles that I had got packed in POS.

The way down turns out to be tricky, going up and down in search of the right path, finally going to Santa Rita to meet Diamond and his friends. Back to Curepe, back to Port of Spain. On the way back I hear commentary on radio. Dhoni takes India home against West Indies in the World Cup. My couchsurfing host meets me at near Queens Park Oval, where one can still find a person singing about Gavaskar. I meet Josima'ar, an Indo-African-Brazilian guy with a Portuguese name with his Trini friends from Chinese, German and African backgrounds. I get a cultural education  about Trinidad and a lot more.

Chapter Five: Temple in the Sea
The day of Holi, is celebrated as "Phagwa" in Trini. This is not a national holiday. Hence most Trinis celebrate it during the next weekend. I decide to dedicate the day to know more about Indian Caribbean community.

Maxi from POS to Chaguanas.
Taxi from Chaguanas to St.Mary's.
Taxi/hitchhiking from St.Mary's to Waterloo.

Temple in the Sea:
Siewdass Sadhu was denied to build a temple on the mainland.
He creates an island by dumping buckets of sand in the ocean everyday for many years and then builds a temple in the sea.

Hanuman Temple:
Only a few steps from sea stands a eighty five feet tall Hanuman, the monkey God.

Indian Caribbean Museum:
Lots of history. The book which has names of all the ships which brought Collies to this land is the main attraction of the museum. I see a few Trinis flipping over the pages to find their ancestors' names. The museum guard is amused to know that I'm Indian from India.

Four days in a country and you already feel safe to do random hitchhiking and land yourself back in Port of Spain in no time. I have some time left. I visit Chaguaramas for the evening. A serene part of Trinidad with many islands nearby. Going to Venezuela from here used to be popular before Venezuela went into the economic crisis. Couple of sailing hours away from Venezuela, the most popular foreign cuisine here seems to be Chinese. The Chinese food places also have gambling machines notoriously known for emptying the pockets of poor and addicted countrymen.

Chapter Six: Airports and stuff
I call home from POS airport. I take the flight back to Miami. I carpool with  three other strangers. For the first time in four days, I am the one who is trying to make conversations while others are busy with their i-Phones. The journey doesn't take long on the smooth interstates of Florida. The sunset along Paynes' Prairie mark the feat that we reached Gainesville. As I drop-off the i-phone slaves to their places and drive home, I can smell the Caribbean from my sweaty clothes. I can feel the Trini in me in my temporarily changed accent.

Getting Lost

Last Winter. 
There was warmth in the shivering cold of Minnesota.
Miles behind me and miles ahead. All covered in snow.

I could hear the echo of my own breath
I could hear the river in the valley which was about to freeze.

I felt no weight on my shoulder,
No wrinkles on my forehead.

The trees stood still and so did the time.
Happiness was everywhere,
And there was no price to pay for it.
I stood there as a formless creature till my toes started to freeze.

When was the last time you were lost in the moment?
Do you remember?

Thursday, 21 August 2014


ಕಡಲ ಅಲೆಗಳ ಓಡಲ ತಡೆಗಳ
ಎಣಿಸಿ ಪೋಣಿಸಿ ಅಲಂಕರಿಸಿ 
ಇಲ್ಲದ ಲೆಕ್ಕವ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಲು 
ಅಜ್ಞಾತರಿಗೆ ಆಹ್ವಾನ ನೀಡಿರಲು,
ದೂರದಿಂದ ಕಂಡ ಆನಂದರಾಯನು
ಮೋಡಗಳಲಿ ಚಿತ್ತಾರ ಮೂಡಿಸಿ
ಹೂಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಪಾತರಗಿತ್ತಿಯ ಬಿಟ್ಟು
ಸೀಟಿ ಊದುತ್ತ ನಡೆದು ಹೋದ.
"ನಮ್ಮಿಬ್ಬರ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ ಇಲ್ಲಿದೆ" ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದಂತೆ ಬಾಗಿಲ ಕೊಂಡಿಯು ಗಾಳಿಯ ನೆಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಸದ್ದು ಮಾಡತೊಡಗಿತು.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

War at peace

"If you give me a ride, I will probably not kill you" read the lines on a cardboard on the sides of Interstate 40.

Hitchhiker alert! exclaimed Anna, a lonely traveler on the long, straight never ending roads of the wild west.

Basil, the stranger promptly thanked the driver for her risk taking endeavor and started with the customary small talk. After a few monosyllabic replies from Anna, the bookmarked copy of "War and peace" swiftly grabbed his attention. 

It was just the first chapter, and for reasons known to him alone, he started reading it aloud.

Prince Vasili always spoke languidly, like an actor repeating a stale part. Anna Pavlovna Scherer on the contrary, despite her forty years, overflowed with animation and impulsiveness. To be an enthusiast had become her social vocation and, sometimes even when she did not feel like it, she became enthusiastic in order not to disappoint the expectations of those who knew her...

Basil, cutting into his own reading: See, this is what I don't understand! Why create an image and then try to hang on to it, though you don't feel like it?!

Anna: Excuse me?!

Basil: Anna Pavlovna's character in this scene. Why does she have to do things she doesn't want to do?

Anna: Because we create those images for a reason, guided by our motives. Sometimes selfish, sometimes not. As long as we are in the pursuit of those motives, "not feeling like it" is just a brick in the wall.

Now, if you allow me to drive....

Basil, cutting in again: I still don't get it! Won't you be cheating yourself and others? Don't you see this as a passive form of lying?

(So much in Anna's eyes to say, if only he paid a little attention)

Basil, continuing: I would be so much more happier if people would just as be with me as they felt like it!

(Sound of brakes and a sudden halt)

Anna: Can you please get down from my car?

Basil: Why, What happened?!

Anna: Nothing, I just felt like it. 

As the Interstate 40 became home to the cardboard sign again, the pages from the novel in the car flipped back and forth...

The subdued smile which, though it did not suit her faded features, always played round her lips expressed, as in a spoiled child, a continual consciousness of her charming defect, which she neither wished, nor could, nor considered it necessary, to correct.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"I'm fine" .. O really?!

"Hi, how are you?"
"I am fine"

I don't know how many times, the same exact combination of these words have been repeated since time immemorial. Who started this? whoever did, sure had a wicked sense of humor.

I remember the speaker in my first ever corporate training telling, no body really wants to know how you are actually doing, just make a habit of saying you are fine.

Being someone who was new to the etiquette of formal meets and greets I decided to nod on that topic and agree to do what was expected to be done.
(Are we out of ideas as a species to do something else than the ever repeated set of sentences to get our morning started or  get a conversation going?)

What is the point of asking someone how they are if you don't have the time or energy to spend in listening to them. If you want to ask me how I am, you better be prepared to listen a neurotic monologue! 

Speaking of monologues, you should listen to this (even if you have already!)


What is the point of telling someone you are fine when you are actually not?!

Nobody is ever fine!

Its like setting life on cruise control. "Here we go 70 miles per hour. The road is long and straight and the music is on".
Really? I don't think so! I believe that the road is full of ups and downs, curves and company.
Accelerations, decelerations and sudden unexpected brakes. 
(I will take this one back, I should stop being too much of a traffic engineer!).
Anyway, the point is:
No! life can't be just fine. Fine is like those statistical measures, like average so so so of so so so is..

You have a hundred things on your mind! Ones that make you laugh your heart out, and the ones that make you sweat, bleed and have those moist eyes that you want to deny.
If your life is "fine", being the tiniest bit of the infinite randomness that you and me are, I ask you to get out and go take a fucking chance!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


ಬರದ ಬವಣೆಯಲ್ಲೂ ಭಾವನೆಗಳ ಕೊರತೆ ಇಲ್ಲ,
ಇಂದು ನಾಳೆಗಳ, ಹುಟ್ಟು-ಸಾವುಗಳ ಬದುಕು.
ಆಸೆಗಳ ಆಗಸಕೆ ಏಣಿ ಇಡುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ.
ನೀಗದ ಹಸಿವಿಗೆ ಉಣಬಡಿಸುವ ಆಡಂಬರ.

ತೋದಲ್ ನುಡಿ ಮೊದಲ್ ನಡೆ
ತುಂಟ ಮನ, ಬಿಸಿಯ ತನು.
ಕಣ್ ಹನಿ, ಕಿರು ನಗೆ
ತುಂಬಿದ ಬಸಿರು, ಮೆಲ್ಲ ನಿಟ್ಟುಸಿರು.
ನೆನಪುಗಳ ಸಂತೆಯ ಕರೆತರುವ ನೆಪಗಳು.

ಈ ನಶೆಯ ಉಯ್ಯಾಲೆಯಲಿ ತೇಲದವರಾರು?
ಕಾಲನಾ ಚಕ್ರದಲಿ ಉರುಳದವರಾರು?
ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯಾ ಚಿತ್ರದಲಿ ಬಣ್ಣವಾಗದವರಾರು?