Monday, 24 March 2014

Sorting Out Sid

Siddharth Agarwal, well, quite often even he himself gets confused with his real name. People had always called him Sid all throughout his life, his friends, relatives, colleagues and everyone else. Sid was close to his forties, but he had always carried the heart of a teen. Well, even his mind seemed to have stuck somewhere and was not maturing with his age. He had been married for more than a decade, but he simply loved women, all sorts of women. He had a promising career with hefty salary. There was also a rumor going around at his office that soon he would gonna be the youngest vice president. Everything seemed to be so perfect for him, but then he had a pathetic married life. Sid’s wife Mandira was his college senior and she was a couple of years older to him. They used to be a well know couple during their college days. Everyone liked their chemistry together, in terms of their height, weight and with their overall personality. But over the years, somehow the love had diminished and also their sex life was on hold for last several months or could possibly be for last several years.

Mandira was possessive about Sid, right from the beginning and gradually over the years, Sid was left out with just few close friends. One day, she even found a huge collection of porn videos in Sid’s laptop. She got terribly disturbed with that and her heart shattered into pieces. She felt as if she was living with a maniac for so many years. Mandira always wanted a child, but Sid wasn't ready for that, yet. They had their own bunch of common friends and they usually enjoyed spending time with them over the weekends. Aditi was Sid’s closest friend and was almost like an elder sister to him, only in terms of lecturing though. Well, one time Sid visited her place to celebrate her birthday, but later he was highly embarrassed when Aditi told him that it’s actually her little son’s birthday. 

Sid always felt happy whenever he was with friends, sipping his icy chilled beer. He was not among the kind of person who takes life a little too seriously. But his sex-starvation was getting serious day by day. Even a glimpse of the whitish fleshy upper arms of Meenakshi, his HR manager, used to spark his emotions, his hidden desires seemed to be flourishing. She often mesmerized Sid with the smell of her shampoo, while revealing her white teeth, whenever she discussed the HR stuffs with him, a little closely though. Meenakshi was a mother of 2 and somewhat hot looking lady. Sid also found her little flirtatious and used to enjoy whenever she behaved little more friendlier, with her slightly touchy gestures, in his cabin. Well, Sid assumed her behavior kind of  appealing and inviting.

Life seems to be pretty boring for both Mandira and Sid, whenever they spent time together, all alone. Their time usually passed with their silent dinner, followed by Sid’s browsing through the TV channels. Most of the times they ended up sleeping in different rooms, busy with their damn lappies. Sometimes their house turned lively though, with Mandira’s high pitch and short lived yelling for him. During evening, Sid just loved to quench his thirst with icy chilled beer, just to survive the Delhi heat. Sid really enjoyed his time worshiping his beer, whenever Mandira was not a home. Sometimes his in-laws used to visit them, just to tickle his irritation further. His mother-in-law often used to lecture him about cultivating his relationship with Mandira. She tried to explain Sid, what a woman really wants from her husband. Sid often used to disappear from the scene, fearing her mom-in-law would end up explaining him the secret Kamasutra positions.

Well, the situation had turned little serious after both Sid and Mandira mutually applied for their divorce. They were prepared enough for the big decision, but the stupid and over optimistic judge had recommended them to give themselves some more time. Six months seemed to be much longer, but then they never had any other choice. Well, there’s not much of a difference between a judge’s recommendation and his verdict. Sid and Mandira decided to stay together just like earlier for few more months. During their relationship building phase, Sid came in contact with Neha, through Aditi. Neha is quite an attractive lady in her thirties; she's very straightforward and practical. She’s also very friendly and usually attached with people, effortlessly. Sid was electrified with her presence when he met her for the first time in a party, with common friends. The very moment he realized that Neha was actually a single mother of a little child, his heart filled with delight and optimism. But then, he wasn’t fully divorced yet and deep within his heart, he wanted to fix things with Mandira. Gradually Sid was getting a little closer to Neha. It's really interesting to see how things turn for Sid. Well, the title itself says ‘Sorting Out Sid’, so how things are actually sorted for Sid? 

The book is all about modern day life, about marriage and relationship, about family and friends. I think everyone will feel a part of the story. It’s a refreshing read and Yashodhara had presented the modern day living in her own humorous style. Readers, who love fun/lightweight comedy, will definitely love ‘Sorting out Sid'. I liked the humor in the book, although I found it's a little too lengthy. But overall it was a relaxing read in the weekend.

Title: Sorting Out Sid
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fiction

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Little Further

'I can't see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind 
Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry 
Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal 
And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state 
I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it's too late'

Paranoid, by Black Sabbath, was playing out loud. The room was entirely dark, with the pungent smell of grass. Rajat was holding his freshly rolled ecstasy with one hand and his half-filled icy glass of scotch, with the other. He was half laying on the bed, softly banging his head, synchronizing with the metallic rhythm. Something quite unusual was going on with him for the last couple of weeks. He wasn’t able to concentrate on his work. Without any damn reason, he had stopped going to office. Sajid, his roommate, was not at home. He had some issues with his girlfriend and went to his native place to sort out things.  

Rajat had never behaved like that earlier. He was completely bored and frustrated with his monotonous life. He had no ambition and no meaning, either. He didn’t go to work since last 3 days and never even bothered to inform to his colleagues. He had simply switched off his mobile and had confined himself within his room. He didn’t even had a single step outside the house for the last 48 hours. He had been drinking and adoring his drags, non-stop. He didn’t have any clue what he wanted from his life and was quite pissed off, with such a vague life. 

The drags had always pleased him, both in his desperate as well as in his fun days.  He remembered Lisa, a Norwegian gypsy. He met her at a Goa beach few years ago. The couple of days he had spent with her, had a deep impact on him. He could never permanently delete her from his brain’s hard disk and her thoughts frequently occupied his mind. But since last few days, things had gone a little out of control for him. He was missing Lisa a lot. He connected with her so well, even she never had any ambition and lived a meaningless life. But she was very happy, she always felt blessed for her life and was extremely down to earth. She was little weird though, with her spooky tattoos all over her shoulder. Rajat had never met anyone like her, earlier. She was a highly spirited person and Rajat had always felt the positive energy, around her. The moments he had spent with Lisa, was the best in his life. He had shared almost a life time with her, in just a couple of days. She was genuinely honest, friendly and yes, also extremely hot. Well, Rajat had lost his virginity to her.

Lisa had traveled almost half of the world and she really enjoyed her nomadic life. Rajat constantly tried to find her over the internet for the last couple of years. But unfortunately, she didn't seem to have any online presence. One time, she said to him that no matter in which part of the world she might be, but every Christmas she would always visit her Grandma, who lived in a Norwegian village. She also said that during winter the entire village used to be covered with snow. She shared with him, her Christmas joy and how they used to play Santa Claus. Rajat was desperate to meet her. He called his friend Suresh, who was working in Germany. He asked Suresh, to help him out with the visa thing. Rajat didn’t mention anything about Lisa to him, though. 'Don’t worry, your visa will be processed within a week, but I’m really sorry that I will not be able to go to Norway with you. I’ve certain different plans that time,' Suresh said to Rajat.

Rajat applied for his visa and also had sent an email to his manager, mentioning he wasn’t well and would join office after 3 to 4 weeks. It was his first Europe trip and the moment he landed in Frankfurt, Rajat was highly impressed with the city. Located on the river Main, Frankfurt is the financial capital of continental Europe and the transportation center of Germany. The city is highly diverse and the most cosmopolitan in Germany, with the highest percentage of foreigners. Rajat had met his friend Suresh after a long time. They enjoyed some wonderful time together. In next few days, Suresh was about to fly to India, for his vacation. But before that, he took his friend for the city ride. Frankfurt got some of the tallest skyscrapers of Europe. They went to Romer square and had visited several museums. Rajat’s short stay in Germany was fun and he utterly rejoiced it. But then, city life, tall buildings and sophisticated money hungry people, never fascinated him. During his entire stay in Frankfurt, his heart seemed to be somewhere in Norway. He desperately wanted to meet Lisa. The same day when Suresh flew to India, Rajat boarded his flight to Norway.

Oslo is one of the largest capitals in the world by area. Most of this is forest, making it a city pretty close to nature. Rajat had experienced the mesmerizing snowfall and felt contented. He stayed a couple of days in the city and visited some of nearby villages. He traveled mostly by train and was fascinated to experience the winter wonderland. He felt, as if he was in a dreamland. Something positive had sparked within him. Somehow his distracted mind seemed to be back on track. He felt blessed for his life and wanted to live the fullest of it. The view outside the train window was simply out of the world. It looked completely white all around and all the forests were entirely covered under a thick blanket of snow. Rajat had no idea where he would find Lisa out there. She had told him that her Grandma used to live in a village about 40-50 KM from Oslo. He remembered that Lisa lived in Trondheim, another beautiful city, 500 KM away from Oslo.

As Christmas was approaching, all the places were getting colorful and livelier. Rajat already asked many people about Lisa, without any luck though. He shifted from his city hotel to a small motel in a village. The Christmas Eve was totally euphoric. It was freezing, but all the inhabitants were outside. Rajat felt entirely misfit in that environment, but he didn’t hesitate to greet random people and wished them, merry Christmas. Well, he also asked everyone about Lisa. Some people found him little weird, to have come all the way from India to look for a gypsy, without any address. Rajat stayed in the fairy tale land, for almost a week and it was time for him to return. He had his flight from Oslo to Frankfurt and then, from Frankfurt to Bangalore, the same day. While he was on his way to Oslo, he constantly looked outside the train window. He was disappointed not to find Lisa. But then, he never expected that to happen and just tried his luck, for a miracle. 

After returning, it took him a couple of days to come back from his dream. Rajat had captured his Norway memories through his lens and felt happy, every time he looked into those photographs. He was a completely changed man after his Norway visit. He started to value his life more and was waiting for the New Year Eve. His friends had planned for their old hostel mates reunion. Every one, including Rajat looked forward to that. Ultimately after a long gap, Rajat went to his workplace. His colleagues were delighted to see him and even his manager seemed to be happy. Rajat had brought adequate amount of Norwegian chocolates and his cubicle was jam-packed with his colleagues.

Well, sometimes we just need to go a little further to get closer and to fall in love with our own life, yet again.

Image courtesy: google images

This post is written for Indiblogger’s "Go further to get closer" contest, in association with British Airways

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

One Paradise Land

Despite being born and brought up in Assam, one of the north east states of India, I was totally unaware of this paradise land. It’s only after I joined engineering college, I heard about it. Well, Tawang is a town situated at an altitude of approximately 9000 to 10,000 ft, in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China. For the first time when I heard about that place and the way my friends narrated about it, I simply went crazy. I always knew about Ladakh, even though I haven’t visited it, either. But a similar kind of heaven is there in a neighboring state, was a shocker for me initially. From that moment I always had wished to visit the paradise land. After passing out of college, one time I planned with few of my friends and were on our way to Tawang. But unfortunately we had to return from Bomdila, because of severe landslide. That was so disappointing and somehow after that, I couldn’t plan for it again. I still feel jealous whenever my friends share their Twang stories and experiences. I had visited Arunachal Pradesh several times though, for those memorable hostel picnics. The entire forest is surrounded by so many exotic waterfalls.

Tawang is basically a giant valley, covered with pine trees at the lower horizons and fascinating rocks on top. During winter, entire Tawang is blessed with the dazzling snow. The temperature is usually very cold, about minus 10 degree Celsius. Travel agents usually recommend March to October, the best time to visit the place, when the climate conditions are very pleasant. The flora out there seems to be so unique and colorful. But Tawang turn exceptionally exotic during winter. The dewdrops on the grass use to get frozen. The road, the trees, the rocks and the small patches of the forest are entirely covered under a thick blanket of snow. Aha, I so much wish to visit this winter wonderland and experience the fairy tale. There are many places to visit in Tawang, like Tawang Monastery, Bum La Pass, Nuranang Falls, Madhuri Lake, Tawang War Memorial, Pangateng Tso Lake and many others. But the journey itself to this heaven would be equally fascinating. 

The road to Tawang is entirely zig-zag and the view on both sides is amazingly enticing. The forests look virginly fresh, with different breeds of strange and colorful flora. It's always thrilling and utterly pleasing to heart, whenever we drive the elevation through some forest. It feels, as if we’re ascending all the way into the lap of Mother Nature. It’s not common to see a lake at such great height, but in Arunachal Pradesh one could find several magnificent deep blue lakes. After climbing a steep stretch, one would usually see a gentle valley and an alluring lake, flourishing from some corner of the mountain. In extreme winters, most of the lakes would be frozen with a thin sheet of ice on the top. How wonderful it would be to trek beside those lakes? They're surrounded by beautiful grassland and the dewdrops on them just get frozen, only to further mesmerize and intensify the temptation of the travelers. 

This December, I wholeheartedly wish to visit this winter wonderland. As my wife is pretty much a winter phobic, I would rather plan it with my friends. I just hope, we don't end up over-planning the trip and screw up all the fun. Well, I've always enjoyed the unplanned trips more. I'm sure, there are few more dumb travelers like me. We will take the morning flight from Bangalore to Guwahati and would probably stay there for couple of days, to make the ILP (Inner Line Permit). We will hire a Tata Sumo for our adventure. Well, Tata Sumo is widely available with the travel companies and they’re really awesome for such drives. ILP is issued by the resident commissioner in the Arunachal House, in Guwahati. We will have to give the details of every travelers, vehicle number and need to submit xerox copies of our photo ID's, along with passport size photographs. Well, every Indian citizen needs that to enter Arunachal Pradesh and foreign tourists need some special permits. There’s nothing to worry though, as travelers and mountain lovers from across the world, visits Tawang every year. For travelers, who would like to get some local flavor, can take a bus from Guwahati to Tezpur, instead, which is around 200 KM from Guwahati.  Tezpur is one of the most beautiful towns in Assam, surrounded by the mighty Brahmaputra. From Tezpur they can take passenger Tata Sumo or even a bus to Bomdila, which is around 150 KM. Better not to worry about the distance, as the terrains are simply breathtaking and it could take 5 to 6 hours, depending upon the weather condition. 

It's recommended to stay the night at Bomdila in a hotel and enjoy some delicious fish/pork fries, along with the local booze. From Bomdila, people can hire a vehicle to Tawang, which is around 230 KM from there and usually takes 7 to 8 hours. It's advisable to start early  morning from Bomdila. It’s an extremely scenic drive, although the terrain is not very good and could get nastier, as we climb the elevation.  On the way, we would come across many small tribal villages and pretty soon, would notice the snow peaks, patiently waiting for our arrival. 

December will be fucking cold and we would better stop at every possible tea stalls, to tranquilize ourselves with caffeine and nicotine. We would love to grab some bites on the way. Well, one can’t expect the usual Punjabi  kind of dhabas out there, but there might be a few exceptions. Momos, Chowmein, Maggi, rice and pork are pretty common menu in all the restaurants. Also, Yak meat is very popular. We should reach Tawang by afternoon and would love to experience the paradise for the next few days.

Image courtesy: google images

This post is written for Indiblogger’s "Travel Smart with SkyScanner" contest, in association with skyscanner

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