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?

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


ನೂರಾರು ಕಣ್ಣುಗಳೆ, ಹದಿ ಹರೆಯದ ಹೃದಯಗಳೆ
ವಾಸ್ತವದ ಹಳ್ಳಕ್ಕೆ ಬೀಳುವಿರೇಕೆ?
ತಮ್ಮದೇ ರೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಕೊಡಲಿಯೇಕೆ?

ಭಯದ ನೆರಳಲಿ ಸೂರ್ಯಕಾಂತಿ ಅರಳದು
ನಿಂತ ನೀರು ಸಾಗರವ ಸೇರದು

ಚಿಗುರಿದ ಮೊಳಕೆಯ ಚಿವುಟದಿರಿ
ಕಣ್ಣ ಮುಚ್ಚಿ ಸ್ವತಃ ಕುರುಡರಾಗದಿರಿ

ಭಾವನೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಜೀವವುಂಟು
ಸಾದ್ಯತೆಯ ಅರಿವುಂಟು

ಛಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಶಾಂತಿ ನೆಲೆಸಲಿ
ಕನಸುಗಳು ನನಸಾಗಲಿ

ದೈನಂದಿನ ಹಿಗ್ಗಾಟಕೆ ಕೊನೆ ಇರಲಿ
ನಿಲ್ಲದ ಹೋರಾಟಕೆ ದನಿ ಇರಲಿ

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Time. From scientists to poets, time has been a thing of fascination to all.

What does it mean to me?

It means everything is temporary, the sad times as well as the happy ones.
It means nothing lasts forever.
It means there is nothing to be sorrow for!
It means there is everything to be cherished.
Failures, heart breaks, shocks, embarrassments.
The joy, the happiness, the tears, the smiles.
Every breath, every thought, every pulse.

Well, that's what I think of time. (At this point of "time!")

It's everywhere, in the past, in the future, in the undefined, indefinite space.
This is the time of the times!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Oh no! Someone tell me I'm not in a racist moment!

It was about two years when I experienced it for the first time. I was relatively naive then and it happened in the downtown of Amsterdam in the middle of the night. Luckily though, I had few friends with their poker faces on showing me the best way to adopt.

This time, a couple of seconds into it when the skinny middle aged lady stood between me and the aisle in the bus and started confronting me with racial slur literally into my face, I had only one thing in my mind: Not to give a single piece of emotion, not even a micro expression.

While it went on for good 5-10 minutes, I didn't know what to do except maintaining the status-quo. Last time this happened, we were in a isolated alley with no one to hear or help us. But now, I'm in the bus with 50 other people in it! Without giving in to the banter, shouldn't I do something about it? Shouldn't any of the other 50 do something about it?

Fortunately, just when I was thinking all of this, two girls in the bus took up to themselves to give some piece of mind to the lady. Soon the voices reached the driver and a formal complaint was made, the police were called when the lady refused to leave the bus. Realizing the consequences, within few minutes she reversed her decision, said some of the most meanest, sickest things to the girls and ran away after spitting on them.
The girls took it in a lighter way and within few minutes normalcy was restored.

I was not bothered by the lady with the racist slurs (going back to my previous post, I've to terms with it).
I was not bothered that it took so long for anyone to react (the hesitation is understandable).
The thing that did bother me was there were 48 other people (including me) in the bus who chose to remain silent. I do not know what I would've done, if it had gone longer, I was certainly thinking about it.
But it did bother me that majority of people chose to ignore a fellow passenger being confronted racially. (Sitting silent is not being neutral! sometimes there is no stand like that!)

A friend of mine once used to say, jails are not for bad people who will do bad things anyway. They are to stop good people from doing bad things. Now, I don't want to assume people as "bad" by default! (Even though you are put to test when you are the lone brown guy in the full bus and the seat beside you will be the last one to get occupied. No, I don't want to assume things and raise the race card! It will be crazy living like that).

But, what keeps good people away from doing good things? (like taking a stand in this matter)

There is always this understandable hesitation in one's mind. You know something is wrong and you hope someone else takes an action before you may have to do it yourself. Thankfully there are some "Good Samaritan Laws" in many parts of the world, helping people to do the right thing than just being a bystander. (Though the applicability of law is somewhat limited).

Regardless of existence of laws or type of situation, mostly as we know and perhaps seen in many cases, some of us are early to put that thought into action than the others. It is this transition which makes all the difference in the situation. (Be it someone facing a racist confrontation or someone in need of any kind of help). It isn't about being a hero, it's just about doing the right thing. For some of us it is about killing the "what if?" fear, for some overcoming the "why me?" and for some just realizing being a helpful human is more important than being a cynic.

I don't consider myself to be an expert in moral measures, but I have penned down my thoughts here, hoping some of them strike a chord. Though I started with the story of my racist moment, I hope the reader will not get tied down to the particular event and rather ends up asking "Should I let myself to be a bystander?" in any day-to-day situation which can do better with an involvement.

I hope we all can overcome whatever is hindering us and put our thoughts into action in all walks of life.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

To be lost....

The road that was clearly marked seemed to disappear
and the moon cut itself into half.
The rain stopped, its droplets trickled down from the invisible tree.
They touched me and told me, I am lost.

I asked the rain, the moon and the tree,
"Where did I intend to go other than where you took me?"

They all fell silent, the moon disappeared behind the clouds.
The wind started blowing and whispered in my ears
"To be lost is to be found"

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The little steps

The first steps out of the crawl
Out of comfort
And the familiarity

The world is bigger, yet reachable
Unfamiliar but no longer strange

A minute the rain drenches everything
And the the next breeze breathes in

You are not alone, says the shining sun.
Many have been here already
and many yet to come.
Put those spirited steps ahead,
they'll be marked to be seen and believed.

Leave the warmth behind
and take the course
The world awaits you
To throw itself at you
If only you make it to the other end!

Thursday, 13 June 2013


The first few miles of the journey to nowhere flew past as an encounter with a fellow wanderer.
"Hello stranger" had said a familiar voice with an unfamiliar face.

The conversations encompassed everything, as the mountains, lakes and grass lands seemed to run through the windows of the old train.

Time flew past obeying Einsteins laws.
Then came the woody old station.

Who once seemed an eternal company in the journey got ready to leave.
I asked, "you said you were a wanderer too, why don't you continue the journey".
The reply was swift, "I was a wanderer, till I found the path to move on"

Lost in thought, I couldn't even see the face again as the "stranger" left.
I asked, "If I'm a wanderer would it even matter whether I take the train or follow the stranger?"
My heart was about to answer. There was a chain to be pulled.... or "not"....

Saturday, 2 March 2013

TWTW: The Week That Was!

"Buy the ticket, take the ride" Hunter S. Thompson 

The Run Up
Friday the 4th of February, I planned to watch the movies  Hyderabad Blues Part 1 and Part 2. What happened between the two movies is a story to tell.

With hardly a mail or two (mostly spams) hitting my inbox a day, checking mails is not up my priority. But one mail from my Professor in Germany was waiting for me to be seen, giving me the news that if I can arrange for myself to be at the conference of the Transportation Research Board at Washington DC in 8 days, I would be sponsored for it.
Chennai Images: The Train to Velachery
It doesn't take much for the human brain to accelerate itself from a relaxing mode watching a movie to hyper active one thinking about visa, tickets, hotel reservations, currencies and so forth.

Weekend was to be followed and the US consulate at Chennai was soon to be entered into festive mode with Tamil Nadu. The chances were slim and I had to take it.

The United States Visa for an Indian Citizen is definitely not the one to be taken for granted, if you are interested in knowing more, and should do it.

IIT Madras features: The Spotted Deer
A little document gathering from my employers in India and sponsors in Germany and a helping hand from a friend in Chennai got me through the first hurdle of visa, followed by the last minute air ticket and hotel reservation.

While I was doing all this, the helpful parents of mine were running around to get me winter clothes and get the poster for the presentation printed.

I would travel from Chennai (needed to take the passport) and travel back to Bangalore.

IIT Madras was my host at Chennai on both occasions. I saw the posters of Shaastra while I went to the visa interviews, the crowds of Saarang were making noise when I was about to leave for DC.

The itinerary quickly made itself up. Sunday through Thursday noon attending the conference, a bit of sight seeing till Friday night and back home by Sunday morning.

My view of DC
In no time I was on a real long flight to the other side of the planet. The journey was tiresome and to be followed by a big jet lag and more. The delay in landing at Heathrow airport, London meant I had hardly any time for transfer, had to run between terminals and later my baggage was received in Washington DC two full days later (Thankfully, I had an extra set of essentials in the carry-in bag).

The cold, damp Dulles airport at DC welcomed everyone with the "free wifi" posters every where. It took a bus and a transfer to the metro (all under wmata) to reach the hotel sitting in the centre of the city next to the White House. A quick run to the conference registration and attending a welcome sort of a session ended my day on Sunday with a little drama with the bags, a tired body and a bit of networking with transport professionals whom i bumped into in a restaurant. While checking in, I scared the room service lady as I remained silent while waiting for her to finish doing her duties. It all ended however with my first proper conversation in America.

The Conference
Monday and Tuesday were the happening days. I was having my first "TRB experience" so to call it. With poster and lectern sessions happening in parallel and a huge Bible sort of a book containing the details of all the events the day went mostly with me trying to discover what the conference is all about and bumping into old mates from Bombay and Karlsruhe while doing that. TRB is one big conference where all the names in the transportation world come under one roof, share ideas and discuss over the future of the industry. It felt like a room full of celebrities in one of the committee meetings I happened to attend. If transportation was film making, I was at the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood.

The Drama never stops
I had a poster to present on the earliest session on Wednesday. Like it usually happens something had to interrupt my presentation. Usually my computer crashes. This time however, the metro services got stopped for a while. To reach the conference venue, about six miles away, I quickly switched to a two bus transit plan and realized in a couple of minutes, with all the traffic from metro on to the streets, I wouldn't make it to conference in time.

I have a Dream
I had a companion in a sinking ship with a girl having the presentation in the same session in the same bus. One more instantaneous decision, we both got off the bus to wait for the taxi. Tables do turn and after waving at couple of taxis (only to get a wave back) we finally found our savior for the day. With soothing Jazz playing in the background and the driver sharing his knowledge on India and China promptly as he intricately drove us to conference venue through a building traffic in time.

I welcomed my professor as I put the poster explaining the other missing students and their posters ending with a "Aber Ich bin pünktlich!" (Thanks to the taxi guy, I could say that!). Soon I met Shruthi and Digya, familar faces presenting alongside me.

Due to unavailability of the reservations, I had to book a visit to The Capitol  in the midst of all this. It turned out to be quite a pleasant visit with the guide making some cheeky jokes and trying to learn Kannada from me. He had a great memory with nations and presidents and although I never studied American history formally, I knew more than I thought I did (Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Nixon, the famous and the infamous).

For those who don't know it, the US has three things: The Presidency, The Congress and The Judiciary. The White House, The Capitol and The Supreme Court are home of the above respectively. The other visits were due on Friday.

The evening was a breather as I bumped into the Bombay folks of yesteryear's and heard a lot of stories from the pre-historic ages. Thanks to Dr.Mishra from Memphis, for the first time in DC I had something somewhat close to authentic Indian meal at Bombay Club with the help of yelp. Not that I was craving for an Indian meal but most restaurants in DC have this fluffy bread which they call it Roti and that speaks how the food really is in those places. Same is the case with cuisines from rest of the world.

Thursday seemed to be a formality as most people went home and most conference halls were empty. Sadly I couldn't meet any of the people to to bid a goodbye. The evening went in shopping the electronic gadgets. (Electronic stuff are cheaper in US than India and friends back home made sure they got their money's worth!)

The must-see stuff
There is a great deal of debate over the difference between a tourist and a traveler. Some say there's not much of a difference, some say there is. I personally like to sink into aura of the city than go see the must sees (For example, Life in metro was one of the things I liked in Paris).

Since I was having the DC life already for four days (Peak hour metro rides, reading the DC newspapers, wearing a suit, attending meetings), I was more than happy to do the must-do sight seeing on the last day.
To add to it, the city was getting itself dressed for the Obama inauguration!

Media Media: The Obama Inauguration
The must-dos:
1. The Government: The Capitol, The White House, The Supreme Court, The library of Congress
2. The Museums: The Smithsonian Complex with a dozen museums and a dozen other non-Smithsonians spread across the city
3. The Memorials: Of all the presidents and all the wars (It's America, there are a lot of them)

DC is a Disney Land if you are a student of American history. (Well, I'm not!)

Drama, Part 2: When it snows, flights get cancelled
It snows in London and like one-fourth the flights heading into and out of Heathrow, my flight gets cancelled!
Thanks to my early arrival at the Dulles airport and one last seat in the United Air, I get to arrive in India at the scheduled time without any delays, albeit taking two airlines instead of one.                                                                                                                                                              
Snow Covered London from the airplane  

Into the future back to home:
The long city bus journey from the airport to the Bangalore city in the early hours of Sunday made sure that, I had a small sleep with a quick play of the entire set of events that had happened since two weeks before. The trip was one to go into the book of memories which I'll keep visiting.

To all the people who made it happen, Prost!

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen” ~  Benjamin Disraeli