Monday, 13 February 2017

How I met Anjali - 7

I’m pretty sure I and my old buddies didn’t know about Valentine’s Day during our schooldays. It doesn’t mean we were among the good guys, only our general knowledge was weak. In those pre-internet days, I think even the love birds of our hometown were also ignorant about the blessing and the strong affectionate wishing of this particular day. 

After I joined Engineering College, the situation remained the same, even though my general knowledge improved a bit, but joy of Valentine’s Day was ocean’s apart. That was the time when this day of love was becoming more and more popular in India. So popular that some political organizations started to take advantage out of it by picking couple from the parks, and then insult them, harass them, all in the name of so called Bhartiya Sanskriti (for the sake of Indian culture). I remember one occasion when few of my college friends gathered under a tree to display their Valentine’s Day protest with paper banners and placards. Well, their intention was simply to tease some of the college love birds and to have some fun. Anyways, it was quite an entertainment to watch their protest.

The story was completely different after I met Anjali. I got to know Valentine’s Day more closely and deeply. I was in my 8th semester. It was yet another Valentine’s Day. I and Anjali visited Guwahati Kalakshetra. It is a cultural institution to promote the art in Assam. The place is close to nature with lot of open space to walk around. It has got neat and clean beautiful gardens. Kalakshetra has a museum which reserves old traditional things of various tribes of Northeast. There is also a beautiful art gallery and an open theater. People can enjoy live performances by various artists out there.

We were strolling around Kalakshetra. It was cold and foggy. I think it even rained for a while. Anjali always used to carry her fancy umbrella. We were not among the couples who held each other’s arms while they walk. The passage through the garden turned slippery. The trees looked beautiful. Water droplets on the leaves. It was green all around. Lovely weather. Great feeling. And then all of a sudden Anjali was down. She slipped. I laughed. Her clothes got dirty with mud. I gave her my hand. She stood up. She didn’t say thank you. Instead she shouted at me.

"You stupid. I fell down so badly and you’re laughing. Why you didn’t hold me when I slipped?"

I was totally stunned. "How the hell I know she’s going to fall?”

“You slipped so fast. I didn’t get any time to react,” I tried to be more defensive. But still the argument continued for quite some time. 

It has been fifteen years, and all throughout her shouting never stopped. And for me, nothing changed much either, even today I prefer to play defensive.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

In Search of Light

A couple of years after we got married, Anjali went to Pune to pursue a post-graduation course. She was there for one complete year. I had to stay alone at home. I experienced this for the first time in life. Be it hostel or home, I never stayed all alone. It was boring. Not only boring, but to be honest it was scary as well. I couldn’t sleep properly at night. That particular year I visited Pune quite a few times. Initially I travelled by Volvo bus. It took 15 hours, but the journey was comfortable. Then with “Air Deccan” the game changed entirely. I was able to reach Pune in less than couple of hours, that too at matching Bangalore-Pune Volvo Bus price. 

I stayed alone in Bangalore for almost a month. I visited my buddies on weekends, sometimes during weekdays as well. One day I came in contact with my college hostel buddies, Ram and Mriganka. They both recently moved to Bangalore and were searching for a place of shelter. I offered them our rented house. They agreed. They also shared the rent. I was happy to stay with my old buddies once again. Ram had always been as good as his name. He slept early, woke up very early, cleaned the house, took shower, finished with his Puja, prepared breakfast and tea, tried to wake us up before he left for office. On the other hand I and Mriganka maintained the same old hostel life style. But we both were chefs in the house.

It was 11:15 pm.  Ram was already dead in bed. I and Mriganka were watching TV. Mriganka had a cigarette with him. He went to the Kitchen to look for a matchbox. 
“Oh shit,” We both realized we already used the last piece of the matchstick just couple of hours back to cook dinner. The gas lighter was not in working condition. We scanned the entire kitchen but couldn’t find a matchstick. We then looked at the place where Ram used to do his Puja, but no luck. 

"The nearby shop must be closed by now," said Mriganka. 

"We can find some light in the main road. There’s a wine shop there. If we’re going that far we can bring a quarter as well," I suggested, and Mriganka instantly liked the idea. 

It was 11:30 pm. We didn’t bother to wake up Ram. We locked the main door from outside. We started to walk. None of us had any vehicle that time. We reached our destination. The place was about half a km from our house. The cigarette shop was closed. The wine shop was also half closed. The shutter was down, not completely though. There was still some room for desperate buyers to place their order. We tried our part. We also made special request for a matchbox. Suddenly, a police jeep stopped in front of the shop with a screeching sound, applying brakes. Immediately the shutter was completely down. Few policemen approached us. Without saying anything they took us inside the vehicle. I and Mriganka kept pleading our innocence. But it seemed the policemen didn’t have ears. There was a handcuffed person sitting together with us at the back of the jeep. 

"Where are they taking us?" I asked the buddy.

He made a weird expression. We could make out that the guy was least bothered with our situation. I and Mriganka were terribly tensed. It had already been 15 minutes. We had no idea where the police were taking us to. I thought of calling some of my friends, but didn’t. 

"Are we going to stay in prison?"

"What about going to office tomorrow morning?"

Several disturbing thoughts were swimming around my head.  Suddenly the jeep slowed down. A signboard grabbed my attention. "JP Nagar 2nd phase Police Station". The jeep stopped. I was pretty relaxed. We were actually at a walking distance from our house. 

"But why it took so long? Must be police patrolling," my mind talked to me.

The policemen took us at the reception. They spoke something in Kannada which we couldn’t make out anything. The person at the reception seemed to be gentleman. He offered us seats. It was 12:30 in the night. The merciless policemen who picked us up already left. We had a chat with the gentleman in charge. Few constables also joined. One of them was very young. It seemed he joined the force recently. All were friendly to us. We got to know from them that we had violated some IPC section, but I couldn’t recall which one. I do remember the fine amount though. We were asked to pay Rs 250 each. We tried to argue, asked explanation.

"I’m living in Bangalore for the last three years. It’s such a nice and cool city. This is for the first time I’m having such a bad experience," I actually tried to reduce the fine amount.

"Bangalore has changed sir. It’s for your own safety. You have no idea what all late night crimes happen on the streets of Bangalore. People cut the ears and take away earrings. They hit on the head, take all the belongings," the good policeman explained.

We didn’t have 500 cash with us. They said we can pay the amount the next morning, and asked us to go home.

"But how could we walk home now. It’s so late. And you only mentioned about the ongoing criminal activities. Please escort us to home. We can pay the money now itself."

The policemen smiled, but they dropped us home. We went upstairs, unlocked the main door. Ram was still totally dead, snoring. We looked for the money. All total we had 450. 

"You guys are staying in such a big house and you don’t have even 500 Rs to pay the Karnataka Government," one of the constable commented.

"Sir, the house only looks big from outside, inside it is very small. And then it’s just a rented house," we clarified.

They were about to go. 

"Sir, one small help. If you don’t mind could you please give us a matchstick?"

"Sorry we don’t smoke," was the answer.

"Hopeless policemen," I wondered.

I and Mriganka went inside. We both had a good laugh. We didn’t give up so easily yet. We again searched for one precious matchstick. It was 1:30 am. Finally we went to sleep. Lucky cigarette. It actually survived the entire night.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Tum Bin

Watching movies during our Engineering hostel days was fun. Those were the days when laptops we made only for the CEO kind of people, and mobile phone users felt proud to carry one. Quite rarely though, but when any handset started to ring in any public place, owners didn’t accept the call immediately. They would take the phone in hand, had a closer look at the B&W screen, still ringing. Only after nearby people got to know that the particular person is having a mobile phone, the call was answered.

Our college was located at the outskirts of Guwahati city, and our hostel was at the extreme end of the campus, surrounded by hills. There was a time when only a single computer was there in the entire hostel, and unfortunately it was in my room. Initially, we used to bring movie CD's on rent from some of the video parlors in the city. They charged heavily for 24 hours, and any delay in returning was again a pain in the ass. Almost everyone loved to watch movies, but there were only a few who usually took initiative to bring the CD's, counted how many guys watched the movie, calculated the share accordingly, collected the money from everyone, and returned the stuffs.

The following semester many more desktops arrived in the hostel, similarly in all the other hostels of our college. Soon, latest Bollywood/Hollywood movies, along with the other category of movies which were on high demand, were available in the campus itself. Watching movies became easier and cheaper. But there were also issues with those pirated CD's. Apart from the low picture quality, there was also a much bigger problem. While watching, all of a sudden the computer got hung. We tried many options, but most of the time a restart was the only solution. Sometimes in a single movie session we had to restart multiple times. Guys usually avoided CD's with scratches on it, but sometimes even handsome looking CD/DVD was also capable enough in hanging the computer. 

'Would you like to watch “Tum Bin” movie?  My friend Rajat asked.

'Tum Bin? Is it a new movie? Never heard of it,' I answered.

'It’s a latest one. I’ve heard it’s a very good movie. If you want I can bring it, we can watch on your computer,' Rajat suggested.

I was a bit confused. Even though Rajat watched many movies with us, but it was for the first time he was taking an initiative. I said, ‘okay, let’s inform our buddies, we will watch together.'

Unlike him, he was a bit reluctant to watch it together with other friends. 'Too much crowd also spoils the fun. Everyone keep talking, we cannot concentrate properly.'

'But then our individual contribution would be pretty high in that case.'

Rajat smiled, 'That’s okay. You need not pay. Anyway, we will watch on your PC only.'

My confusion started to create ripples of suspicion in my mind. "How come Rajat is so much interested in the movie. He’s willing to bring the CD and also want to pay for it, alone."

So, in the same afternoon Rajat brought the CD. We watched "Tum Bin" together, only two of us. Even my room-mate, Nair, wasn’t present, he was not in room that afternoon. 

'It’s an okay kind of movie, not that great. What’s so special about it that you were so much interested?' I asked out of suspicion. 

Rajat smiled. 'I don’t know, but some of my friends said it’s a very good movie.'

Later in the night, I shared the experience with Nair. Both Rajat and Nair were from Mechanical branch. After listening to my words, Nair couldn’t stop laughing. He then told me the real reason behind Rajat’s interest in "Tum Bin".

"Tum Bin movie starred Priyanshu Chatterjee. He’s the main hero in the movie. Priyanshu made his Bollywood debut with Tum Bin in 2001. Some guys from the Mechanical batch already watched the movie. They said the new actor looked very similar to Rajat. The entire classroom started to tease him, called him Priyanshu. Rajat was very happy, particularly when few girls also joined the party."

We then went to Rajat's room with few more guys, pulled his legs for the next two-three hours.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

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