Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Landlord

After passing out of college, my good friend Sinha immediately came to Bangalore. As the market was tight that time, so most of us had to struggle a bit for our first job. Initially we found Bangalore quite horrible place to live in. In order to rent a house, tenants required to pay 10 month’s rent in advance and the cruel tradition is still being followed. WTF? As miserable job seekers, we didn’t have any other option but to stay at a hostel. Food was really the major challenge for me and it was quite overpriced, but the Andhra Mess made many of our life smoother to some extent. Sinha was quite fortunate enough, as his elder brother was working in Bangalore that time and he used to stay with him. 

It seemed Sinha’s landlord was an extraordinarily distinguished kind of character. He was extremely dark, little short and absolutely round shaped. He always looked serious, especially with his tenants and used to smile only on special occasions. Whenever Sinha used to encounter his landlord, the picture of a Rhino used to come to his mind. He stayed at a different place and usually used to visit all his tenants on the 1st of every month. Well you guessed it right, to collect the house rents and he had 4-5 tenants at that place. But sometimes, very rarely though, he also used to give odd kind of visits to the territory, possibly because of some maintenance issue. He couldn’t speak or understand English and his knowledge in Hindi was extremely adorable and on top of that, his Hindi pronunciation was very entertaining. Whenever he used to go to collect rent, he would usually sit on a chair and quite lazily used to count the money. As soon as he finished counting the money, he used to repeat the process for few more times. In the meantime, Sinha constantly used to stare at his face, as if he expected something out of it. A little later, Sinha used to see a very charming and extremely satisfying smile on the landlord's face. He would be very happy that moment and before leaving, he usually would say in his broken Hindi "if you have any problem just inform me"

One morning after breakfast, Sinha was standing at the front door and all of a sudden he encountered the Rhino. Sinha was confused and wondered why the landlord came almost a week earlier to collect his rent? The landlord must have liked Sinha, as he had a smile on his face and asked him “Kya Samachar hai? What the news?”

Sinha was little confused and thought he might have asked about cricket score, as some cricket tournament was going on that time. He replied "actually I don’t watch much cricket. What else news you want to know?"

The smile immediately disappeared from the landlord's face and he looked quite serious and confused. Later Sinha realized that it was his usual way to greet "Hello, how are you?" 

The landlord immediately changed the topic and asked "Gaon ko kab jata? When you would go to village?"

Sinha again got confused and replied "Kaun sa gaon? Which village? Actually my home is not at a village. Even though it’s not like Bangalore, but it’s definitely not a village, it’s a big town"

That moment the landlord was exceedingly confused and said to Sinha "OK OK, Bye" and immediately left from there. 

Sinha later realized that Gaon is actually quite a common term and doesn't necessarily mean a Village. Quite often it’s used as a synonym for someone’s native place. Even if any tenant could be from heart of Mumbai, someone could still ask him "Gaon ko kab jata?"

Friday, 21 June 2013

Would You Like To Have Some Tea?

Initially first few years, after passing out of college I didn’t have much opportunity to meet my good friend Nair. Well, we were roommates during the entire 4 years of our engineering days. He was working in Doha those days and all of a sudden he called us and said that he would come to Bangalore for a week. We used to have a decent hostel gang in Bangalore that time and the gang was scattered all around the city. Everyone was pretty much delighted to know that Nair would be soon in town. When we asked Nair about the reason for his visit, he said that he would come specially to visit us. Everyone instantly believed him, although it was a different matter that in last couple of years he never bothered to call any of us. Initially we doubted that he might be coming to attend some interview, but later we realized that he actually came to see Shruti, well the typical arranged marriage story. 

During that time my wife was in Pune for a year, as she was doing her PG diploma out there. After my wife left for Pune I stayed alone for  few months, but later two of my hostel mates Ram and Mriganka used to stay with me. Nair landed early morning and during that time Bangalore airport was within the city. Immediately after landing he called us and we guided him how to reach our place. At 6 AM the door bell rang and everyone was delighted to see Nair after a long time. We chatted for a while and then I asked Nair "would you like to have some tea?"

Nair replied "that would be really great"

I asked "you would like to have milk tea or red lemon tea?"

Nair replied "milk tea would be fine"

So I went inside the kitchen to prepare tea, but as I looked for milk inside the refrigerator, I couldn’t find any milk out there. I said to Nair "sorry dude, milk isn't there, so you could have lemon tea only" Nair was OK with that and I switched on the gas to boil some water. I looked for lemon inside the freeze but couldn’t find even a single piece of it. I said to Nair "abbe, lemon nahi mil raha hai"

Nair said "It’s OK, without lemon also it would be fine"

Gradually water started to boil and I thought to keep sugar and tea leaves ready, right in front of my eyes. But, what the hell? I couldn’t find any sugar inside the kitchen. With little shyness I said "yaar Nair, even sugar is also not there"

Nair replied "abbe koi baat nahi. It’s OK, red tea would be fine without sugar, just put small amount of salt in it"

Finally the drama ended. Guess what? I couldn’t find any tea leaves inside the container. Even though my tongue wished for complete rest that moment but somehow I simply said "Aree Nair, even tea leaves also not there"

Poor Nair, what he would have said? He simply laughed and said "it’s OK, what to do now? Forget it"

In the mean time the water completely boiled and I literally poured it in several cups, also mixed some salt in it. I served hot salted water to Nair and said "just assume it to be tea and drink it sip by sip, you would feel better"

It was only after an hour at 7 AM, when the nearby shop opened and Ram bought all the necessary stuffs. Later, Ram prepared some wonderful tea and we all had one of our best tea that morning.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Memorable Amnesia

Whatever limited travelling I have done so far, most of them were during and after my college days. But I could still remember few of my travel stories during my school days, when I used to travel with parents. Most probably I was into my 6th or 7th standard that time, when my parents planned to visit one of our relatives. Well, one of my maternal aunt was put up in Haflong, as her husband was posted out there during that time. I was pretty much excited as not only us, but 3 more families (relatives) planned to visit together. Haflong is a small town in Dima Hasao district of Assam. As Assam is surrounded by so many exotic hills, people usually assume that there’s hell lot of hill stations out there. But in fact, Haflong would be the only hill station in Assam in true sense and is situated at a distance of 350 KM from Guwahati.

During those days there were limited mode of communications to such places and we traveled by Indian Railways. It was a fantastic journey, as the place was extremely closer to nature. On the way we witnessed some breathtaking steeps and on one occasion I was totally stunned, when all of a sudden everyone felt complete darkness inside the train, that too in broad daylight. Well, the train passed through a tunnel and on the way we experienced several such tunnels. On every occasion I was very much excited and few of the tunnels seemed to be quite longer, as the darkness lasted for almost a couple of minutes. 

Haflong is surrounded by dense forest with some fascinating waterfalls and the place was kind of virgin those days. My uncle worked for the Sericulture department of Assam and the government had given him a size-able as well as a wonderful house to stay. One day we visited the pineapple garden, Haflong Lake and the famous Jatinga. Jatinga is a picturesque small village and the place is well known for the phenomenon of birds “committing suicide”. Well, it’s little hard to digest, isn't it? The local people witnessed the weird phenomenon since several decades.

It seems September to November is the peak suicide season for the birds. During that season, thousands of birds of a wide range of species from across the world migrate to Jatinga and the suicide phenomenon is a kind of mystery for all the bird specialists. Can’t really say whether it’s suicide or not, but it’s a fact that every year hundreds of birds deliberately die out there. The birds used to fly in full speed and intentionally crash themselves to the bamboos, tree branches and even to the grounds. 

It was a tiring day and we reached home only by evening. Everyone slept early that night and I had a long sleep.  I didn’t notice the time, but I think I woke up quite late the next day. As I was brushing my teeth, one of my cousins asked me why I was doing that. A little later everyone was enjoying tea inside the house and I took a cup and went to the veranda at the back side. It was a mesmeric moment and I had some close encounters with the misty, as well as snowy white clouds all around me. After a while it started to get little darker and I said to my cousin "It’s going to rain today" After sometime I was really worried as it was completely dark outside. 

As everyone was having morning tea, so it would have possibly been 10 to 11 AM that time and yet it was so dark outside. I wondered why no one else was that much worried? I assumed it could have been a usual situation in that part of the world. After sometime I saw lights all around the hill and I was totally tensed that moment. I was pretty much confused and feared a natural disaster.

I talked with my cousin who was around 4 years elder to me. He was absolutely amused and said “what the hell are you talking? Go and check the time” I had a look at the wall clock and it was 6 AM. I was even more confused, why everyone woke up so early that morning? I thought they might have planned for some sightseeing.  When people realized what was going through my head, everyone literally laughed at me and one of my uncle screamed "it’s not morning my dear, it evening 6 PM now"

I wondered how that could have been possible? I asked them "how could I sleep that long? Why no one bothered to wake me up?"

My mother said that I went to sleep just a couple of hours back. I was in a totally confused state of mind and said to them that I couldn’t remember anything about that morning.  My cousin asked "don’t you remember the delicious Pulao we had  in the breakfast? I could remember you finished 2-3 plates"

That was the one and only kind of incident that happened to me till now. To be honest, I could never recollect anything about that particular day, till the time I actually woke up in the evening.

Image courtesy: google images

Monday, 10 June 2013

How I met Anjali - 5

The phone calls continued on a regular basis and it took a little effort to convince her for our next encounter. With time I was already kind of comfortable with her, at least over the phone. When the time arrived for our second rendezvous, to be honest I didn’t have any expectation. We decided to meet on a Sunday afternoon, somewhere near the Guwahati University. Even though the place was quite near to our college campus, but gradually even I too, somehow became kind of used to such a situation, at least I was mentally prepared enough. Without much of an anxiety, I stepped inside the college bus just near our hostel gate and went to meet Anjali. I had to get down near the University, but I wasn't sure what was going back of my mind and I didn’t get down there and instead went little further. I got down at Maligaon and went inside our regular "Ritz Bar and Restaurant". Without wasting much time I quickly gulped two 60 ml's.  I didn’t have my regular stuffs though, as I was kind of worried about the smell.

After a while I took a bus and got down near the University gate. I was pretty cool and confident that time. Well, I always used to feel like that after a considerable amount of dose and on top of that, my tongue used to shift gears quite rapidly. I saw Anjali coming from the other side, in her kurti and Jeans. She looked quite different that moment and in fact, she looked pretty charming in her casuals. We talked for a while and within a couple of minutes she acted little suspiciously, as she sensed some kind of smell.  She started to breathe fast and moved her nose here and there. She asked “by any chance, are you boozed up?" 

I replied "why the hell I would do that in broad day light?"

She cooled down a bit and once again we started to chat. We both connected quite well, but she must have got a dog's nose, as after a while she looked little cautious and said "seriously, you must have been little loaded and I could very well smell it"

I said "yeah, I had a 30 ml and that too vodka. Actually I had a long wait for the bus and the damn bar was so close to the bus stop"

She replied "it’s OK, you don’t have to lie to me. I don't have any problem, as long as you could behave properly"

I smiled and said "you don't have to worry, I am much more gracious once I'am loaded"

We continued to chat nearby the University hospital and all of a sudden it started to rain. Anjali opened her small and fancy kind of umbrella. The umbrella was not big enough for two of us and on top of that, I was little shy and maintained some extra space under the umbrella. We took shelter under a big tree and even though it was such a mesmeric moment, I was also a bit worried, as I already noticed two of my college friends passed nearby us. I was fortunate enough, as they didn't paid much attention to us and couldn't recognize me or else they would have given me a hard time. I had abundant amount of blessing from Mother rain that day, as the mist continued to perform for a long time. We just talked and talked on several different topics and I was so much delighted and wondered "even guys like us could very well connect to girls".

I had a wonderful time and then it started to get a little darker. We decided to go back to our respective hostels. Her hostel was quite near from that place, but I had to go  a little further. Once I reached hostel, everything seemed to be so perfect. I smiled at situations where it was neither necessary nor appropriate for me to smile. Well, I was on a totally different world that night.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

One Offbeat Matrimonial Date

Whenever people use to talk with their old friends after a long time, they usually would inquire about their common friends. A couple of year’s back I was chatting with one of my college friends over the phone. When he asked me about Ashish, I was a bit confused, as I knew 2-3 Ashish's that time. It took me a while to realize that he was actually talking about G. Well, almost everyone of us used to call him G and even now a day’s also many of our friends prefer to call him with the same title, which was awarded to him during our college days. There could be hundreds of reasons why Ashish truly deserved his G tag name. About an year back I called him over the phone and casually greeted him as Gandu. Ashish got little sentimental and said "what dude? You guys still call me G. Now we are quite matured enough and we both have already become fathers, as well."

I think after that day I never called him G, even though his tag name immediately comes to my mind, whenever I meet him or whenever any other friend inquire about him.

There was a time when Ashish’s father wanted him to get married, but he wasn't prepared for the damage yet. His parents were settled out at Guwahati that time and they somehow managed to send him few Bangalore based profiles. Now it was entirely Ashish's responsibility how he could have proceeded further with those profiles. After a couple of fruitless attempts he got little pissed off. One day his father sent him one more profile, but the selection criteria was little different.  It seemed before Ashish could have directly met the girl, her father wanted to do a face to face first round with him. Ashish was not very much pleased with that and said to his father "no Papa, I don't think I would be able to meet him. These days I am not getting much time, as there’s too much of work pressure. I have to work even during the weekends."

His father replied "Aree Beta, Ek baar mil lo. Just meet him once, he is a good man"

Ashish replied "what Papa? what I would do meeting him? It would be better if I could directly meet the girl"

His father replied "things are not that simple, when you would grow up beta?"

Even though Ashish wasn't very happy, still he agreed to meet that person, but only nearby his office and that too during lunch time, in a working day. That day Ashish was really busy, as his project was at some critical stage and on top of that, he even received several phone calls from that uncle. It seemed the poor man was totally confused with the office address. Somehow the uncle arrived near his office and Ashish went out to meet him. It was already 2:30 PM and Ashish was damn hungry. He decided to take the uncle to a nearby restaurant. Ashish actually belongs to a vegetarian family, although it's a different matter that there are in fact, very few non vegetarian foods which Ashish didn’t try it out.  He was so hungry and without thinking much he went to a nearby Briyani House, along with that uncle. 

Uncle looked little uncomfortable with the mesmerizing smell of the chicken briyani out there. He asked Ashish "so, you consume non-veg food?" Ashish said yes and ordered one chicken briyani for himself and one vegetable briyani for him. Later, Ashish noticed that the man kept starring at him, while he struggled to finish every possible flesh of the large chicken piece. While having food, it seemed the uncle wanted to grasp some basic information out of Ashish. he casually asked "cigarette to pite hi hoge? You must have some smoking habit?"

Ashish replied "yes, I do have"

Uncle asked "so, how many cigarettes you use to smoke per day?"

Ashish replied "usually 10 cigarettes but a little more whenever I use to drink"

The uncle replied "Acha, daru bhi pete ho? Roj pite ho?  Wow! You have boozing habit too? So, do you drink daily?"

Ashish replied "usually in the weekends"

Uncle "that means Saturdays and Sundays"

Ashish replied "after so much of hard work, our weekend starts Friday night itself"

After their meal, they came out of the restaurant and the uncle looked little shy. He said to Ashish that it was nice meeting him and he would like to leave, as he had to go somewhere else. After he left, Ashish lighted a cigarette and later got busy with his work.
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