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The Pensieve

If you have something to say, I might be saying something as well

Month

August 2012

Soak No More

The alarm sounded at 6.30 AM, and I had to get up and get ready for college. My college bus was at 7.30 AM and it was a fifteen minutes walk from my home to the bus stop. If I did not get up now, it is missing college and fine for that as well. Inspite of knowing all this I hit the snooze button and dozed off.

When I got up it was 7.10 AM and I had exactly 5 minutes to start. To top it all, I just remembered that I had lab that day, and my lab coat was still wet.!!

What came as a start of the surprise, was when my sister volunteered to run to the next street to my friend’s house and borrow her lab coat for me. “Thank you!”, I managed to say as she disappeared at the doorway. “Poor girl, you should have been so tired yesterday, you overslept. Go into the bathroom, I will get your change of clothes ready”, my Grandma said. As I was combing my hair after the shower, my mom came and fed me with bits of dosa, saying, “continue dressing up, this way you won’t miss the bus”. “Don’t worry my girl, I will drop you at the bus stop”, – that was Dad, who had already started his bike.

Overwhelmed by this shower of love from my family members, shall I say, soaked in love, I boarded the college bus. (I didn’t miss it, yay!!) After the usual “Hi”s to my friends, I settled in my favourite window seat. My college had a ban on cell phones, but nobody minded it. So like everyone else in the bus, I had my ears plugged with my headphones and it was musical bliss from then on.

When you have a playlist of all your favorite songs and turn on the shuffle button, you are entitled to that alternating feel of unexpected guessing of the next song and the unbound happiness when you get the same song or even some other one (mind you, it is a list of all favorites, probability of you cribbing is minimal). That is what I would like to call, soaked in music.

The bus was half way through to college. It stopped at this junction to pick up more students and teachers waiting there. Untold code is, if you want to bunk college, this is your last point of escape. Some of the last seat boys got up, walked upto the front door to get down. “Duh, show-offs” – my mind voice.

When the last guy was about to get down, I peeped through the window. I saw a bunch of guys who looked totally off place in terms of dressing. Amidst teens in their trendy clothes, these guys looked like goons! Oh my!! They were goons… One of them pulled the last fellow off the bus steps and dragged him away. Another brought out from his back, what looked like a wooden log… Hockey sticks… And the bus started to move.

Instinct made me wave to the driver and get down the bus in last minute. Some good Samaritan instinct, maybe. Or a curiosity, more say. As the bus moved ahead, I walked back to this tiny street, wondering where this group went…. and what happened to my college-mate.

And there he was, lying unconscious near a sewer pipe in a pool of blood. Literally soaked in blood. The goons were nowhere to be seen. A crowd was starting to gather. As was Indian tradition, all of them around were only whispering, gossiping, and not doing anything to help. I ran to the main road and hooted for an auto-rickshaw. Seeing me in action a couple others volunteered to help.

We went to the hospital and admitted the injured guy. I sat in the visitor’s bay for nearly 2 hours. I was sipping a cup of machine-made coffee, when a khakhi clad policeman approached me.

“Are you the one who admitted the beaten guy this morning?”

“Yes, sir”, I said. A bead of sweat broke at my forehead.

“Were you at the scene of crime?”

“If you mean when he was beaten up, no sir. I saw him when he got down the bus, then on the road unconscious.” I felt like I was on stage with all the stage lights on me.

“Do you know the people who beat him?”

I gave a quizzical look, sweating profusely. Where is the policeman getting at?!

“Did you, by any chance inform the goons that your college-mate was getting down at the junction and not going to college?”

I was soaked in sweat. “I am innocent! Why else should I take pains to admit this guy in the hospital, even if I don’t know his name!?”

“OK. I was just following standard protocol. Relax. But you will be needed for more questioning.”

I felt my whole body go cold. And that was because I was suddenly drenched!!! – with a bucket full of water, as Mom woke me up! “Stop mumbling in your sleep and get up… Get ready for college”, said Mom. “Soak no more“, I got up saying thus.

An imaginative story written after seeing the Surf Excel Matic challenge. “What do you think of when you hear the words – Soak No More! “ Well, I thought of all this!

– a post written for “Soak No More” contest by Surf Excel Matic and Indiblogger.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Home Sweet Home

As you enter the building of Good Life Centre you are greeted by the warm welcome note with a hand-drawn poster of the compassion personified Mother Teresa caring for a child. And that poster was drawn by one of the in-house residents of this home for orphans and mentally challenged.

About Them

Good Life Centre as mentioned above is a home for orphans, differently-abled children, homeless women – to put it in a phrase, they care for all those who have been neglected by the society. The centre was established in the year 1996 as a rehabilitation centre. Right now, they house 135 inmates which is inclusive of 36 mentally challenged children.

The Children

The Home is rightly called so, as the people residing in it, be it the staff or children, exude such a homely ambiance. In my two visits there, the one thing that stuck me specially was that, the children were very well behaved. From a simple praying-before-eating, to greeting their visitors, each girl / boy does what is expected of her / him.

Services offered

Apart from the centre in Tambaram, they run Thai – Children’s Home that house and educate  54 children; Dr. Kalam Boy’s Village with 45 inmates in a rented premise; Blue Rose that cater to the needs of 36 mentally challenged people.

They require and accept all basic necessities, viz., clothing, medicines, furniture, books, etc., They also require a vehicle to transport the children to school / hospital in case of need.

The Bitter Truth

I asked, “How do they get these children here?” And the answer came back as a blow of reality to my face. I saw all the news article snippets they have preserved that marks the start of each kid’s life at the centre. I should add that I tried to see all the articles but flipping a few pages made me dizzy already.

“Baby girl found abandoned near Tambaram bus stand”

“Just born child with umbilical cord found abandoned in a sack, rescued”

A special mention about a lady who was molested and thus lost her memory a year ago, was nurtured back to health by the Good Life Centre and returned to their parents.

The cheerful side of the coin is that some of the children grow up and take up to servicing themselves. The mentally challenged are being specially educated and their medical needs taken care of.

When we sit in air-conditioned rooms and talk about movies releasing this weekend, let us also take a minute to think about what we have done to help those who are not as privileged as we are. Well, I think I just did my bit. Will you?

For contact:

Good Life Centre,

7B, Loganathan Street, Tambaram West, Chennai – 45.

email: goodlife1996@gmail.com

Phone: 044 2226 4151

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

Friend

Yet another guest write – up by Archana, this time with her full consent, and no compulsion from my part. I felt it was straight out of her heart!

-Vid 🙂

Friend

I was told I have lot of friends. There is a notion that the contact list in my cell exceed 500 by most to whom I speak to. When I started wondering why people have such confidence in me, it made me realize the value of a friend. Its then the shutters opened and the realization struck that it is not my friends who have me , it is that I have so many great souls around me with whom I got the opportunity to associate with. Even a second without them makes the day incomplete. The most famous Airtel ad that captivated every heart , especially the song “ Ovaru friendum theva machan” is the best example to depict the role of a friend in one’s life.

Who is a friend? The one who walks along with you all time? Or is he who takes part in both good and bad times? Or is he the one who acts as well wisher and protector? According to me “Friend is a combo of all three and much more “. You will find your friend standing beside you when you least expect and at the same leaving you alone when you expect his presence. Why does this happen? Why doesn’t he stand by all time? It is a quizzical query. Friends understand us more than what we know about ourselves. They know when it would be best time to make their presence, come on screen and act on our behalf. It is said when we are in dark times, we will get to know our true friend. But let me tell you something. The moment you feel comfortable with a person, that person becomes your friend. Close, best, cool, distanced friendship varies, let me not hit on that now. The point is each one has their own boundaries and strengths, within which they do their best to help and protect. Hence when someone doesn’t respond to your call during dark times doesn’t mean that they don’t care, it is either beyond their limits or they are not at the right place to lend their hand.

So then I have mentioned that each friend has their own boundaries in the previous paragraph, why does this boundary come into picture? Ah! So right time to hit on various types of friendship. Let me make it clear that I am not talking about strength, since it is a different concept. Depending on wavelength match we place friends in various zones. Close, best buddy would be the one who would come into close proximity of your wavelength 99%. 1% depends on the unique characteristic of a person, without which there will not be any distinguish happening. So it is with this buddy sharing of thoughts, personal life, and gossip on the daily activities come into picture and the feeling of belongingness is at its peak, that you would give yourself for your friend when he calls you. You would call yourselves as one individual. These buddies are known to complete each other’s sentence with ease. Then there comes good friend of mine. Here there is only 70 to 80 % match in wavelength. Though you would know he will be available for you, yet there is a catch on sharing personal life incidences. Sharing of worldly things will happen, there is an extension of help, but would lack the emotional side of belongingness. One would be grateful; there will be respect and love for one another as an individual, but not beyond that. Cool buddies are more of easy going characters and the bold ones who can face situations with ease. They also play a part when decisions are to be made and when jovial companionship is required. They have the aura to attract the crowd. They make the ambience bubbling, lively, and positive. Hence this is why these buddies are inevitable and one should be lucky to have one. These buddies keep our spirits high in general terms, but one might give a second thought to share their emotional side since they might not take it as seriously as one would wish it to be considered. Next comes the hi bye friends. These are people who we associate for the first time. Hence it takes time to place them in different categories. Some we wouldn’t prefer to even talk. Hmm why does this situation come? It is because we start judging the person before we actually try to get to know the person. Best advice I can suggest is to stop doing the same. First talk and then decide. None are so bad on this earth.

So then I have given my opinion regarding the different kind of friends, but let me point out that these kinds tend to overlap as well. So there is no definite boundary to any relationship, it all depends on the individual conception. One more thing I would like to quote is, be it any type of friendship, yet the flaw in a friend is ignored at most and only the best side of a friend is noticed first. The true value that we give to a friend can be understood only when we are alone. Value each and every friend and don’t loose them at any cost. Loosing a friend is like a boat without its ore down the stream of events called life.

– Archana

Day 6 – To Rimbik

It was the last day of the trek. 21 kms today to Rimbik and we would be taking a cab from there to the airport the next day. First, hats off to Nishanth, Lavanya and EB on finishing the entire walk, while the rest of us cut short and went shopping.

The day started with yummy aloo parathas for breakfast, the best I have ever had till date. Parathas with ketchup, homemade pickles, (and did we have curd that day?!). Nishanth, Lavi and me went for a walk to the nearby bridge at 6.30 AM to the stream. Wow! What a view of the entire village, only confirming my want to spend retirement there. We bid adieu to the foreign couple – they were going fishing that day – and started the last day of the trek.

It was me and Lavanya again on the lead, and we had “Compass” show us the way. Well, this dog started with us @ Gorkhey and was walking ahead of us all the time. And when there is a fork on the road, we would stop, wait for directions from one of our guides, but then we understood that this dog was actually showing us the route. It would go a little ahead along the right road and wait for us! And hence the name “Compass” 😛

We passed this village, almost equalling Gorkhey in charm, corn fields, and beanstalks. Then came the forest route again (just to denote absence of civilization) with streams at regular intervals. We were able to hear the water gushing ahead, and I got tired taking pictures of every creek we passed by.

We came to Ramman, another tiny village with a school! We passed the school building and we could hear the kids singing something. Sounded like some chanting to me. But guess what, they were doing this sing-song recital of math tables in their native language!! I managed to take a video of the same. We then stopped for early lunch there.

I got black tea on a Libran cup and was showing off a little with it 😛 And that amazing feeling when you talk to your dad after 5 days!!!!!!!!!!! Bliss. It truly is.

The multi – talented Pemba went into the house’s kitchen, just gathered up the ingredients and made noodles for us in say, 10 minutes. And that was the best noodles I had in the whole journey, and that is saying something. We all took second helpings, continued with the Brain – Teasers game, the hype had not died down yet.

After lunch we walked ahead, apparently people were laying roads on the way. Down a curve, we were made to stop. The road ahead was blocked with a boulder of rock , and a crane was moving it out of the way. It was a very interesting sight, and as expected, I took a video.

Then we crossed this huge hanging bridge and were on our way to Sirikhola. The plan was to take a jeep from this place to a place 20 minutes ahead – Rimbik. The reason being the shops would close early and this was the last place we could shop. Compass came with us till this place. When we reached Rimbik, it was not a very exciting market, most of the shops were groceries, people were sick already, and it had started drizzling by then.

So we went to the cottage, and got settled. Guess what, it had electricity! We got hot water to bathe! Things that had been a luxury till then. And to top it all, we had hot malasa chai and samosas for evening snack 😀 😀 And I spent most of the evening talking to family back home, telling them we were safe. Nishanth did the accounting and we all settled finances among ourselves.

Dinner was a treat, after which we got a traditional send off from Norbu and Pemba. Pemba gave us a formal speech, telling that we were a great group and apologized in case they had done something wrong. How sweet of them, I thought. Then we all were presented with this whitish scarf with writings on it. Apparently it is Buddhist tradition. “Offering a white scarf–called a kata–is an ancient Tibetan tradition. The color symbolizes purity of intention and aspiration. It is an ancient custom to bring an offering when visiting a temple, shrine, guru, or teacher. An ancient Tibetan adage says that giving and receiving go hand in hand, like breathing in and breathing out–it is an a universal karmic principle that the more you give, the more you receive, which should not necessarily be understood in material terms only.”

The next day was to be a 6 hour car ride to Bagdogra airport. So Nishanth and me did this strategic planning of staying up late at night, so that we will be so tired and sleep in the car, thus avoiding any sickness 😛 So all the kids and a couple of aunties gathered in one of the rooms and started playing pictionary (modified dumb c).

Next morning, just before starting, we had a valedictory function (I would call it thus ;)). Rohan gave a speech, then we distributed the papers that we had wrote for each one the previous day – each one of us had written down the best characteristics of all the others on the group. And set off, all set to get back to our workplaces, and get back to our routines. We carried back with us long – lasting memories of the mountains, the humility, the freshness and the simplicity.

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

P.S: Contact details of our trek organizer for those who might need.

Wangchuck

Ph:9933071548

darjeelingtrails

Day 5 – To Gorkhey

It was payback time to nature for me! 14 kms of downhill from Phalut to Gorkhey, which was going to be a picturesque, post card view of a place waiting for us at the end of the day. So there we started all geared up, though the day had not started exactly clear. This time it was Sandhya aunty, Lavi, Geetha aunty and me taking the lead. The best part of the journey was that it was total greenery and slopes downhill, forest and unseen birds – you get the general feel.

As the day became brighter, it was photography time. I went on shooting at every beautiful thing around me. There was this one specific bird. We named it the “Kuwi – Kuhu” bird. No one knows how it looks like, we were just hearing the sound it made. Lavi made a nearly good imitation of the sound / tune and it gave back an answer… and thus this “kuwi… kuwi kuwi kuwi kuhu….” conversation continued – and I got a beautiful video of this dialogue!

We walked the entire day through a jungle route – marshy and slippery due to rains, lush greenery. We all were very prepared for the rains, donning our rain gear when we started, but guess what! It never rained that day!! Lavi and me went on singing Karadi tales songs (we ran out of situation songs by then) 😛 We had sword fight… technically walking-stick-posing-for-a-photo fight. And one quick statement that would make her speed up her pace was, “I think I hear human noise nearby”.

It was Pemba in the lead and he used to walk ahead of us after marking our way. Marking here means drawing an arrow mark with the walking stick on mud indicating exactly which route to take. He would do that and vanish along a tougher shortcut. We walked all the 14 kms and came to this sign board “Gorkhey 2 mins” – Norbu was there waiting to show us the way.

From there it was around 20 mins (they should have missed a 0 on the board) of walk into the valley through beautiful corn field pathways. And there lay the village in the middle, surrounded by mountains on all sides, one side a gushing stream, a bridge on top, hens running amuk, well you can imagine. It was a typical postcard place and we were all secretly thinking if we could come back and settle there after retirement! Just one flaw, my batteries had drained out by then – I did not take a second pair, and my sister kept clicking an hour before that. And right when you needed it, my camera was not functional. However, the first view of Gorkhey is still fresh in my memory.

It was a recently built lodge and we got settled in groups of 3. The rest of the group – Nishanth, EB, Rohan, Tejasvi, Snigdha Swapna and Jyothi aunty came back an hour later. They had been playing this game on the way and we continued later that evening. We called it “Brain – Teasers”. Let me give you a hint of the game below:

1. Rich boy throws cash. He goes to a Muslim village where priest calls him “infidel”. He answers back that he is not infidel. What did he say? – Fidel Cash throw

2. There is a rat called Ann. How does her friend’s say bye to her? – Rat ann Tata

3. A mom teaches the kid how to light fire. She says “if you add more oil, there will be more fire”. What does she say? – Naraya enna More thee

4. A couple goes for hunting Condo for a long lease. They find one and go into it and find a bowl of rice. Describe the situation. – Condo lease-ah Rice

Lol, well that took us nearly all day, after which we played dumb c in mobile flashlight and candle light sitting amidst nature (and leeches), the smell of cardamom brandy overpowering. Well, as the game advanced, the couple in the next cottage came out to watch us. The girl wanted to join us, and we were anyways not equally numbered. So she joined my opponent team and played exceptionally well. She turned out to be none other than the foreigner who walked past me on day 3, in case you remember. One awesome couple we got acquainted with.

We had to cut short our game in order to go and have dinner, and the couple joined us for the meal. It was very entertaining, with us trying to introduce each other (though most of us knew the others 3 days before). We learnt that they Deborah and Adam) were teachers in Korea and got engaged recently.

The only sad thing that happened on that day was the children asking money. Well Gorkhey being a village has few families staying there. Children go around talking to the visitors, and we all love children, right? Yes, agreed. And we would not mind giving them anything like money or chocolates and the likes just because of their innocence. Agreed, again. But that does not mean they can go around asking for money from tourists. I did NOT entertain that, because it ends up in begging, and the kids would not mind doing the same even after they grow up. They need to learn that. I felt so bad to say no to them, and it took all my self control to not entertain this. All that said, please don’t let kids beg! Point made.

The last thing I remember about that day is that we had another dog out there following us. I named it “Compass” and I shall tell you in the next blog, why.

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

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