Once you get into thinking such things, you're bound to miss your family and friends, especially, when you're not travelling with people you've spent more time with. Slow it is... my life here. The good things back home: all of them, feel a long, long-- eternal-- time ahead. I keep on thinking of what I could, would, and should do in India. Why didn't I do all that? Its really strange: you don't seem to really value what you have, while craving for other things in life. That takes you farther, from where you should be, to almost a point of no return.
And, I read a blog entry and started feeling more miserable, missing mom, dad, brother, friends, er... life?
I immediately jumped out and studied the damages. The green Mondeo that the neighbour's car was, had a few lines that went off on rubbing; a few more remained on the panel just over the wheel. Ours, however, had some green lines on the silver car, with a dent and some scratches on the headlight!
I haven't been able to think straight since then, not to mention work, food and sleep. And we're still researching on a good solution to get things upright.
Whatever the outcome, this was a shameful experience for me... and it'll remain so.
Cambridge, for that matter anywhere, is not the place that you can take a left after you've missed it! This is how my company was guiding me. He was guiding me into more and more darkness, I felt. It was getting cold in the evening and we were almost nowhere in no time. This is how it went: In all fairness towards me, I'm going to say that it was the first time I was driving a Ford Mondeo Zetec-- a big car that it is-- without a localite (just a day before, I'd taken a test drive to a nearby restaurant with someone sensible), first time in Cambridge, UK, and first time outside of India ever, not knowing many official driving rules here.
I announced that I'll need to know which road to take next, way in advance, to everyone's agreement, but only in theory! Cambridge has pretty thin roads that split up into lanes or merge back at various places. At these junctures, one is to make a decision to stream into one lane or the other. The traffic can be pretty heavy at peak hours and not knowing your lane at the proper time can put you uncomfortably off the track.
We started at 1830 hrs from Chivers Way, Histon and on we went to Station Road. Our man didn't know we were on Station Rd, while I did, and by the time he registered that, I'd taken turns and was at the Bridge Rd junction! That was the time to have pulled over and asked my two colleagues to swap places. The fella yelled "right-right, there's Brigade Rd". I regretted my decision of seating arrangements already! After our right turn over to Bridge Rd, we went straight ahead over a big roundabout that forks a road onto A14 motorway. Now, we were to go down till we get a left for King's Hedges Rd. This one, we missed somehow. Having missed it, we didn't find a King's Hedges Rd around and I was told after one of the stupid lanes: thats the left we should have taken. In fact, there was this lane at the signal junction earlier where our man said: "left... wait... not here... next". And guess what, I ended up being in the middle of two lanes!!! I'd a little trouble getting back in the lane, that I'd almost left, but somehow managed to, save for a little honking from the car behind.
After that, we went around most places around Chesterton Road, trying to find Milton Road, Arbury Road, and God knows what all! There was this one particular time when I made it to the wrong road, on the directions given by the map-expert we had, that led to a major highway A14. This motorway had cars ripping by, from what seemed like all directions known to me! As it turned out, we entered A14 in the rightmost lane. Since I hadn't ever been on such fastlanes while I was on wheels, the ongoing nervousness turned into instant panic! It took a few minutes to really come back to senses and lead ourselves to the left side exit back to Cambridge... by now, we'd learnt that we were outside of Cambridge! Well, this exit helped us get back to smaller roads of confusion and residential areas where turning around the mega-sized Ford was quite difficult.
After maneuvering in lots of small roads that led nowhere and turning around in front of people's houses, I was pissed off. I took a little break from within the car and stood by (perhaps, praying) in the cold. It wasn't any comfortable outside, but peeking into the windows showed that someone ought to read the map right. This is when I decided to study which part of the world we'd ended. That moment, somehow, things looked a little better. Driving back, we spent some time back and forth map-listed roads since we'd hit Elizabeth Way. This one seemed quite a long road that narrowed to a single lane and sometimes grew up. We also spent time circling the roundabouts getting to read the road names on the small boards almost invisible at nights. This one time, the backseater showed a board that led to Cherry Hinton, but for the board seeming to point in the reverse direction. I wasn't sure.. so we decided to check the other end of Elizabeth Way. Interestingly, this way met a roundabout, across which the Elizabeth Way continued. So my guess was that one of the roads spawning off this round about ought to be Milton Way (this is where we should have come from, as per the map). With that reasoning, I drove back to the Cherry Hinton board and decided to continue across from there although the sign pointed in not-so-helpful direction. It was a good guess. We ended at a crossing of Mill Rd, where from, I knew how to proceed to Cherry Hinton!
At the end of the day, thank God, we didn't end up in the American Cemetery that A14 was leading us towards.
Now, now... it didn't turn out as bad as the title, did it? :)
I reached Bangalore airport around 1920 while the Sahara flight was at 2040 hrs. Till quite a while, my colleagues hadn't arrived. After having checked-in and offloaded my painfully-heavy bag, I went out with not-so-very-painfully-heavy shoulder bag! They didn't seem to be around until it was a little late to check-in. Somehow, I'd missed them or so I thought. I decided to enquire at the check-in counter. They had data about one person. The other was not found, but I knew he was also past the security point. There, I also met Parag Bhide; an old time colleague from L&T. That was like 7 years before! We recognized each other, spent some time chatting, and followed that we're on the same flight to Bombay! Okay, surprises never end. Past the security check, I found my colleagues waiting, who had sneaked in behind my back, or so I thought. The plane started late, was crowded, uncomfortable with noisy people, extremely small seats and I got the second-last row. I was quite happy when it landed, except for the stupid bump as we touched the runway!
Transiting between Bombay airports was a pain carrying huge bags of ours. Somehow I neatly forgot that I needed a bigger-better-faster-more kind of a check-in baggage since last year's travel. We managed to reach the international airport, but my brand-new haircut nearly got me into trouble at more than one place. I'd a few suspicious looks and a couple of questions to answer at the counter. Fortunately, it wasn't so at the London airport.
The in-flight movies were boring; so was the food distasteful. Moreover, I didn't have any wine but put myself to sleep. In the wee hours of the morning, while in this British Airways flight's toilet, some idiot knocked on the door. As it is, the place was inconveniently small for my height and this knock made things no easier! Stepping out in a few minutes, I saw two people waiting outside, one of them an Indian. Although I said sorry (for nothing) the other chap seemed to be highly irritated and made some smart-ass comment to the effect that I fell in asleep inside. I managed to ignore him, and being pleased about myself, returned to my seat. Later, I was wondering what the heck was he doing all this while, if he was in urgency! I gave up the thought.
Parking the flight at London took a real long time although we were not much late when we landed. After what seemed like 20 to 30 minutes, we got off the airplane. It was a long walk through the immigration and then out via the baggage collection. Our taxi was already around with the huge, tall, driver waiting. After some trouble shoving the baggage in, we rested in the good Lexus till Cambridge was around. The Andy guy welcomed us from Cambridge Apartments and showed us around one of the flats. We were stuck with another apartment not being ready till 1400 hrs as told, and being handed over only at 1800 hrs! Between these times, we shopped groceries and loaded our fridges! A very tiring day ended with a bath and a light dinner.
For me, it irritates much if people keep me thanking every now and then. Moreover, it puts me into an awkward situation when this kind of thanking or praising is made public.
Unfortunately, thats not true with apologies. Although I don't want others to thank me even for my biggest goodwill gesture, I do expect atleast a simple sorry when I deserve it. Its not an ego issue, I feel. It just helps me forget things faster. Mind ya, forget, not forgive. Because, I forgive way too easy. Its just that the pain sticks on into memory long enough to make forgetting difficult (Maybe thats why I've a short memory in other things!). Its like telling me that you don't feel sorry at all.
I'm reminded of a song by MLTR...
There is no excuse my friend,
for breaking my heart again
This is where our journey ends
you're breaking my heart again.
Down to basics, if you don't like to say sorry, don't do things that'll make you say it; simple.
The day started early at office with a blogged ode. Much work was already done before others joined in at work. Prashant called in to say that there's a flat in Thane that he would really pursue this time. That statement, in itself, was a good start for me! I went around asking people about the area... and ended up with just the right people showing up on chat.
It wasn't late until both Sandy & Rags came in and we had an early tea break. That hasn't happened in a while now.
When I was following up on the flat thing, Raghav spread around the great news about Vathsala being blessed with a baby girl. Thankfully, she was available on the phone to share her happiness. All this was just during the morning session alone!
Out of nowhere, I also received a call from Veena aunty. We had some nice talk about her daughter's marriage. The day was turning out into a blast by now. Mind ya, this wasn't all... I got quite a lot of official work done too. By evening, I'd talked to Prashant some three times, mailed up a couple more, and got to a bit of understanding about how the Thane area is to settle down.
The day ended late by a visit, with Raghav, to see Vathsala and her baby. This niece of ours even looked at us both, one at a time... my God, was she adorable... and she's not even a day old! May God bless all of those who made my day a memorable one!
All you said seemed so true
Such was the binding faith I had
I couldn't tell good from bad
My true Self I really miss
I was blinded right from your first kiss
The illusory traps, they made me wait
Now that I know, would you please help me liberate?
Until then, I'll recall the time spent with you
As there's nothing much I can do...
- Switch cities for work.
- Be available only during work hours.
- Stock what you need on Friday evening... step out only on Monday morning.
- Visit areas less frequented by acquaintances.
- Ride with a helmet, or drive with pulled over windows.
- Put cell on mute, or low volumes.
- Dump sms schemes.
- Return calls; never make unsolicited calls.
- Neither a lender nor a borrower be. (But, neki kar kuen mein daal)
- Defy mortal existence.
- Don't freak out, even after reading this blog :)
then again, I forgot Murphy (from the Murphy's law, who else?) while I planned out something. Sriram was busy with his CA studies, Raghav was to look at his house construction, Anya was tied up with something else. That left me stranded alone to keep to my own commitment of kick-starting something. I decided a to-and-fro native (Honnavara) trip: going via Mangalore and returning via Shimoga.
Well, I started by luring Raghav by proposing a bike trip instead of a car drive! He got tempted but my motive was unmet when he reported this back home. They didn't want him to go then. There was no point in messing with others' plans. So I thought, on behalf of all, I'd to get a do-it-myself package. The deal was clear: it couldn't have been my second wife, Maruti Suzuki
WagonR... I was just not too comfortable with her! Thats when I made a so-called brave decision to ride with my first one, Suzuki Fiero! All of this was decided on Thursday, Aug 14, 2003. Mentioning this to my landlady led me to some hitches. She refused to allow me to go and even threatened to call my parents. The fear came from the fact that the rains were crazy and the coastal highway drive is too dangerous when Karnataka rains were to go crazier with the cloud-seeding plan! Some convincing got me luck and I began backpacking my gear.
My initial plan was to start in the wee morning hours, but Sriram insisted that one shouldn't start on a long ride/drive while its still dark. There's some scientific analysis that seems to say that most accidents occur when the person starts out while its dark and gets carried into the light through hours of driving and that the body can't adjust to the changes. Well, had he known me as such a lazy fella, he wouldn't have probably spent such time explaining; I started only quarter past seven. It took quite a while to pack stuff at night and I woke up late enough not to be able to start at 0600hrs. Finally, I started with my obeisances to the Sun.
As I went over the ring road towards Mysore Road, it felt really nice, but with a slight fear of this seemingly arduous ride. Within a short while, I touched West of Chord Road. As per Sriram's instructions, I'd kept the pace well below 70kmph till I hit the outskirts of Blore. I passed by ISKCON in some time thence and took a deep left towards Peenya and passed towards Nelamangala. I'd to stop by and enquire to ensure that I don't miss the NH-48 I was looking forward to. There was quite a bulk of traffic at the start of NH-48. These trucks and buses that go a longer distance than what I call long-distance ride are really rough on the poor riders. They seemed to overlook the fact that small vehicles also belong on the tar for atleast having paid their taxes! Those juggernauts had my confidence lowered till bad negotiating between vehicles got me out onto visible empty stretch of tar. Thats when I sped up to decide on safe consistent speed. That struck out to be a good 80kmph and this is what I maintained through my journey.
The weather was comfortably pleasant needing not more than my windcheater and the surroundings appeared to be increasingly scenic as I rode away from Blore. I soon found a comforting position on the bike: resting the feet on the pillion foot rests, while my backpack was hooked on to the handles and laying on the petrol tank! There were break times when I shifted my legs over the leg-guard for a change of position. The surroundings gave a picture of true India, the beauty that it is. I didn't have to change gears from 4th to below it for a real long time, but it sure reminded me of how badly Fiero needed a 5th too!
The journey turned out to be becoming more blissful than ever and I could feel the confidence building... what this was, I can't express in words... it was a feeling I've been yearning for and always will. Somewhere down the line near Hassan, I'd my breakfast at Kamat's. I was told that this one's a nice place to feed yourself; so I did. The food didn't mean as much as the wash did. The countryside had blown quite a lot of dust on my face due to frequent lifting of the visor for fresh air breathers. I also made it a point to share this freshness with my brother, Prashant, over phone. My parents didn't know till then that I'm on this (crazy) tour. I very much managed to convince them of my safe riding, or rather had to!
When I set off back on the bike, I thought I was maintaining good pace. I knew well that I'd to improve it because the average speed is going to decline rapidly once I get to the Sakleshpur ghats (the biggest in Karnataka). The weather kept me company till there. Just when I saw the ghats rise in front of me, I pulled over to put up the monsoon wear. The rainywear trouser (?) belonged to Sandip and was way too short for me, but I'm much thankful for having borrowed it. It'd begun to drizzle and my avatar was funny for passersby. I wasn't too much in a mood to even let that bother me. Fiero's roadgrip has scared me many a times; still, this ride had let Fiero prove itself. Thus, the test began.
The curves and V-pin bends, all had me sure that no speed is low speed for such zones. Twice, I landed on the opposite lane after the turns! Although the upstream traffic seemed too slow to cause any harm, one can't assume so about all of the vehicles and be sure that other vehicles are the only ones that cause damages. One could lead off the road, into a tree or stuff like that. I was more careful following these thoughts. Its like telling yourself to apply brakes, not to the vehicle alone, but to your life too. Maybe, its going faster than you can handle. Its worth taking a pitstop in life once in a while and seeing whether you have led yourself well enough? The speed may have enthused you so much as to not let you think if the direction is right!
Anyway, so here I was riding safer than ever. Okay, the speed was higher still, but safer... somehow I think I know well enough that lower speed doesn't necessarily mean more safety. Enjoying the ride, I reached the viewpoint of Sakleshpur ghat. There was this hoarding that read the huge rainfall mms that this region receives. My memory fails me here. Maybe, if I'm able to dig this info out of somewhere, I'll update it over. There was an elephant's picture on one board that meant something I forget now. Forgive the old man, will ya all? The view was beautiful and I felt like spending a lot of time there. I must've spent over an hour there trying to click some photographs, before I started downhill.
So far, the tar was laid enough smoothly. The ghats showed otherwise at one stretch on my downward trail. These potholes made it miserable while the rain didn't make it easier to brake on a downward journey. It was much steep to allow indecent braking on a plain road, even on a sunny day, without having to meet unpleasant incidents. As I made past some of these unavoidable pockets, I saw small water streams on my right making their way beneath the bridge I was on and forming a good waterfall on the left. This, I stopped by to click. The weather and my skills, both, made photos turn up bad. There on, the road just seemed to drop into Mangalore. The sun showed up as I picked speed on the road fast losing its curvature and straightening up into a plain highway. Soon, the jackets weren't helping me keep my comfort and I pulled over by Surathkal to pack them back. There, I'd made it a point to make my geographical location felt to Raghav. He studied at KREC, Surathkal and was pleased to have a chat with someone who's just in front of its gates!
Since I'd planned to have Udupi Krishna's darshan, I sped by on this dangerous NH-17 that I'd gotten onto. Most people have no traffic sense whatsoever, or lose whatever they have, once they reach this infamous national highway. I say this from my childhood memories of accidents told of on these roads. My native village stands off this NH-17. I found this road to be less exciting than the earlier ones I'd taken, the stink of the coastal fish adding to it. I wanted to get as close to Udupi as fast as possible. So I did. The arch on the highway seemed to invite everyone to pay a visit. I wanted to gather my blessings and in I went, riding between crowded lanes not really guiding me anywhere as I reached close enough to know that I was in the vicinity of devasthana but not knowing where it was. Parking the bike and walking seemed to be an only option when I met a deadend. Finding the mandir, I felt blessed already. It has a small entrance that might go unnoticable save the shops around that people bought offerings from. This is one temple where the presiding deity, Krishna, faces away from the door.
The story has it that a Shudra was forced to pray from outside the temple and Krishna turned around to give darshan to him alone! That shows how all are equal in God's perspective. Since then, everyone was forced to go around the pradakshina to have a peek at the Lord from a small window. Finishing my darshan, I went over to other mandirs in and around the campus. There's a go-shala where I could see cows wandering about, feeling at home and making me feel so too. There were these beautiful kids dancing on stage, perhaps belonging to some school run by the sansthan or so. Just outside the temple there was a guy with his elephant blessing people who give it something. I also tried it out. Smartly, the elephant took the coin with its trunk, gave it to its master and then put the trunk on my head to gesture a bless.
On the way back to the highway, I lost my way and quite some precious time. My hunger found its fill just when I reached NH-17. It was 1800 hrs by then and high time I'd lunch too. I'd a quick snack and was on my way while it was darkening. Sriram had asked me to witness the beauty of the sunset at Kundapura, but I was beginning to get panicky not knowing how far
I was from my target and after having driven much distance from Udupi.
I reached an overbridge besides which was a small temple with an idol of Shiva majestically sitting over it. This, I'd to take a picture of. It didn't seem like a convenient location to park with vehicles ripping by. I managed to click one or two shots when the drizzle that had just begun warned to be a pour soon. I decided to pick up more speed and try to arrive before 2000hrs atleast. This was not to happen. The road seemed never-ending since I could no longer enjoy the surroundings, not being able to see them in the approaching night. It wasn't until the clouds above dropped huge drops of water that I felt I should've driven faster before the rain. The rain drops drilled their way into the layers of jacket that I'd worn some time back. Within no time was I feeling as if I was being swept away in river, with little control, if at all. The heavy coastal highway rains, with no lights whatsoever, intimidating passing by 4-, 6-, 8-, etc-wheelers, seemed to threaten the safety of my riding I was harping on. The world around me seemed to vanish into the night as I knew not -- through my glasses, visor and waterfall-like rains -- where the road was. At one point, I started doubting whether there was a road below the wheels! I was wiping the visor & specs every now and then with my hands and hanky, atleast enough to be sure that I could see through the glasses if a pull-over place is around. Sometime then, my prayer was answered and I saw a petrol bunk that I somehow got to, over unseen puddles filled in kind of ponds that were formed beside the road. It felt as if my bike jumped off some height off the highway but still it was a relief to be able to be seeing something.
What a view it was, mighty scary rain it seemed, as I stood underneath one of the structures. Even there, I was being lashed by the rains almost from all directions in a few minutes. Enquiring at the gas station on how far I was from my target gave no comfort. To top it, I was worried of the rulers of the highway --truck-drivers-- getting drunk and driving beside me. I knew I had not more than an hour before these enemies of the fellow-riders step on the pedal. I felt the burden of having to decide between the devil and the deep blue sea!
From nowhere, I was given a solution to ride by following some visible vehicle, keeping only safe-distance between us. I refueled just to be sure I don't push my baby along on a rainy night. This trick worked wonders, except for a couple of wrong judgements. One of them was to follow an over-speeding car while the other was to follow a truck that pulled over too soon. Over a period, I was back on my confidence of driving in the rains. It slowly turned into a blissfully pleasant ride. I, who always found riding in the rain unsafe, felt being accompanied by some great level of reassuring faith. The bike itself seemed a friend... the rains telling us a wild story... meaning no harm though. I found myself listening to the music of the tapping waters, with no hurry of reaching anywhere. I was around Bhatkal when the rains turned their volume low. I knew I was around 60kmph all this while and that went up a little with pinching rains hurting the skin lesser. Since then, the downpour switched back and forth into a drizzle. About that time, I approached some hills on my sides that appeared to have been cut off to make these roads. These were visible as the lights of moving vehicles flashed on them. I knew I was nearing Honnavara. But it took me a longer ride than I thought it would be before I saw Honnavara. I'd crossed Sharavati bridge that had made me wonder if I was riding over the waters as a ship sails.
From Honnavara, it was a known road that I'd travelled earlier on vans, buses and as a pillion rider on motorbikes & bicycles. I knew this stretch of the journey would make me nostalgic. In these thoughts, I took a deviation off the NH-17 into my village lane, Karki. I looked up my watch that ticked 2130hrs. My aunt and standees around were shocked to hear my mode of transport. I took a pleasing cold bath pulling out loads out of the fresh well waters. I called up Bombay to mention my safe-reaching and to assure them of no back-breaks, thanks to the grand machine that Fiero proved it is.
The tasty dinner was followed by a blissful sleep that took me back on the ride into the night... the night that I'd slept as well as stayed awake!
(Fri, Aug 15, 2003: 0715 BSK- Iskcon- Nelamangala- [NH-48] Kunigal- 1500 Channarayapatna- Hassan- Sakleshpur- (Shiradi)- (Uppinangadi)- Mangalore- [NH-17] Surathkal- Udupi (Udupi Krishna Mandir) 1800- Kundapura- Bhatkal- Honnavara- 2130 Karki)
Unfortunately, my wavering mind can't stick to this thought-of-thoughts forever. The honking on the roads, noisy autos, dug up roads & footpaths, ripping two-wheelers, painful co-workers, long hours at work, missed meals, corrupt politicians, morning news, gross tasteless advertisements, selfish circles, fake promises, mAyA pitfalls, blah blah blah, just drive me wild. The worst of the lot is my first response to all that. Its not to be seen or heard by others...
As Swami says, Patience is all the strength a man needs. Here's another I have on my desk from Hindu Dharma: Tapas is to focus the mind & mind force constantly on an objective, discarding the comforts of hearth & home, heedless to the demands of hunger & thirst, sleep & rest. In all this exercise, it is necessary to eschew the awareness that 'I am taking all this trouble and making all the effort and, therefore, I am bound to arrive at the Truth'. Humility should permeate through all the effort in the belief that, notwithstanding all human endeavour, the grace of God is a vital ingredient to the success of any mission.
me: is there a Brooke Shields? Who's Brooke Shields?
Sriram: wait, she's not an actress... she Agassi's ex-girlfriend.
me: I'm sure she's the one. Nah, its the one from some serial on TV... why can't I recall her? I can never recall names.
Sriram: Bhattaa, it is Meg Ryan... go home and look up the DVD. Why worry now?
me: okay, I'll googleize & let ya know right when I'm in office. I'll even tell ya who's Brooke Shields.
We lost the topic of which Meg Ryan movies I saw :)
(The next day we both agreed that Helen Hunt is the one we talked of as Meg Ryan & Brooke Shields, the Blue Lagoon starrer)
After having finished the series F.r.i.e.n.d.s and M*A*S*H season 7 due for release only next month, I was bummed out on what to watch the weekend that went by. So I decided movies, and movies they were. The Godfather trilogy was the one I started with. Amazing is an understatement... its definitely the mother of all mafia movies. The continuum is so well maintained that I miss not having watched the parts 2 & 3 earlier. Well, I'll make up for those days bygone by watching them over and over. The background score is so good that it may have been stolen by so many movies of yesteryear. Direction is unbelievably consistent across all, with the flashbacks & makeup doing wonders, making you feel that the sequences are really shot across generations. The dialogues seem to live forever with quite a few movies drawing their links to Godfather.
Kill Bill 2 was worth a watch. It is not as much full of action as part 1, but the director of photography makes you still breathe on the edge of your seat. The filmy parts are also shot so realistically. And the 34-year old Uma Thurman still looks young enough to be the bride. Well, all that was just Saturday!
Sunday started with a fresh flick of French Kiss and there started a run of Meg Ryan movies: You’ve got mail, In the cut…etc. (French Kiss is the same movie that the Hindi Pyar toh hona hi tha is dittoed from). The movie is a little bit of a fairy tale, but then, so love is too. You’ve got mail is a slightly girlish movie as someone had told me the first time I’d seen it. Then also, I’d confessed my liking it anyway… as an aside, I used to be a chat/email addict myself.
In the cut came a little bit as a shock to me as the kiddy-looking Meg Ryan didn’t seem too right to play the Sharon Stone kind of role! I haven’t managed to complete watching the movie with the same interest as other Meg Ryan movies, since the steamy scenes were as bad as the critics said. Still, that was one heck of a weekend’s screening.
Some of my friends have turned foes
A fool and his monies are soon parted
I thought that others were kind-hearted
But then all the goods, they departed too
My problems had no boundaries and always grew
I wish bliss would come back to stay awhile
For all of my bads, you act like bile
You're the one who makes my life go
Oh! dear God, I need you so!