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Sunday, 25 April 2010

The telephone booth








Tana Street Purasavakkam Chennai - 12.30 pm
August 1990: Don’t remember the exact date…!

It had been almost three months working in Chennai, living alone in a room, sans much friends, sans any known acquaintances the only contact with relatives was the weekends spent at their cozy homes. The entire week saw marketing medicines to doctors, the top-of-the-line antibiotics (as if that was required to be mentioned here).

Apart from rattling of the parroted content to doctors and chemists there was hardly any conversation happening in life. I started to become a loner of sorts, but for VJ - the only friend, who spent much time at the Nungambakkam CA institute during the day and was company for the snack dinner on Bells Road every night. The days were very long, the bus travel across the city was nothing but sweat and more sweat. I longed to strike a conversation with someone I knew…. No there were no phones at any of my known friends/relatives places – the only mode of communication was through letters, which meant a fortnight’s wait to get reply (think this in the age of sms and instant messaging).

The silent days
It was around this time in August VJ went to Bangalore and I had hardly spoken to anyone in 3 days… I was choking to find someone to talk to… Three days passed since I spoke to some one I knew, I had been speaking to vendors, waiters, bus conductors and hawkers, now I needed to speak to some one who will talk to me with my name.

The Thursday afternoon
Every day I passed by the Telephone booth - I felt I was actually being called in for a conversation - After searching the Madras Telephone Directory for an hour on that hot Thursday afternoon, I finally found the office number of a cousin, it took about 5 minutes to track his department, I was told he had gone out for Lunch and would be back in half hour. I waited the thirty minutes at the bus-stop beside4 the telephone booth and called again. This time he came online directly and was heard shouting hello… hello… hello… and all I could do was choke and hear to his voice for 20 seconds before he hung up. That one moment of silent monologue was enough to charge me for the next few days.

No, I didn’t speak to him that day nor did I speak to him about it when I met him the next week. Nor have I spoken to him about it in the past twenty years. I knew I was happy listening to someone I knew.

That day I told myself I will never want to be like this anymore. Today reminiscing the days of almost no communication – I wonder if it really makes any sense to have 24/7 connectivity to across all in the world through mobile phones and still yearn for that one moment of silence – one that gives immense strength. I surely miss that moment.

That absolute moment of solitude.
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

The TWENTY20 Series will bring back nostalgic memories
throughout this year Coming up next - "My greatest regret"!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

2009 - Another Year confined to History!


Learning from the year

"Religion as a science, as a study, is the greatest and healthiest exercise that the human mind can have".


- Swami Vivekananda.


This year end account of chronicling the happenings in my life in 2009 is delayed by a fortnight primarily due to the fact that it took so long to come out of the December last week memories, which have surely etched a new chapter in my life, one which is bound to change my perception and my personality.


That I have thousands of things to relate, but have fewer words to pen them here is surmised with the simple line - "I have more face to wash less hair to comb". Yes, the year 2009 has given me some moments both personal and official which brought too many sleepless nights and distressing days. Things that left me pondering hours to no end - I've aged much this year than ever.


The Positives:

On the personal front, I got to know more newer friends, online (quite a few bubbly young enterprising lot of go-getters) and offline, met a few online friends offline too. Attended a few celebrations and acquired a few pals for life. There has been never a dull moment in parties and celebrations - with the kind of music that has followed my all through my life. Kishore Kumar continued to rule my day to day life (not a day passes without listening to this idol). I played lot of cricket, picked up quite a handful of wickets, though made not so many runs during the year - but the feather in the cap of course was Captaining my club side for the first time, a first time ever for captaincy - though ended in a loss (was made good with 2 back to back victories in Jan 2010). Followed almost all International cricket from Tests to ODIs to T20 - never gave up on the religion that I so fondly follow and the God that I revere - Sachin Tendulkar, yes I almost got to meet him too.



On the office front things have been quite good, I say quite good because - there were more unpleasant events overshadowing the good ones - but then this year also saw one of the most memorable programmes I was involved in - The Managerial Effectiveness programme. Also known as the MDP, this was conducted at our Head Office two days a month over a six month period, yes this was surely a major learning experience, one that refreshed some finer points in basics and some new learnings that would make me a more thorough professional in the years to come... I infact put it in my summarizing note at the valedictory of the ME programme thus "Learning is a continuous process and this programme is another Milestone in my journey of Self Discovery". (shall pen a separate note on this soon).

For one who is constantly in the quest for knowledge, the programme added more to my effort and also brought me closer my colleagues across the country. Ever the team man - ever gregarious - I only reveled in the company of a few dozen more new friends and the monthly travel to Chennai was always eagerly looked forward to.


The Forgettable

Though I start of with the sub head forgettable - its far from forgettable that I spent a night in the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit of a Corporate Hospital, one I still believe is an aberration, a ‘con’ act of the modern day hospitals rather than a personal folly. I would just want to leave it at that.

I would not want a year to start for anyone as it started for me, I lost a close friend on the Second day of 2009, a person who was 10 years older to me - but always brought cheer with his quick wit humour and light hearted anecdotes - may his soul rest in peace.


Officially, the turmoil that I went through during the phase when almost ten of my colleagues phased out from the organisation is something I still am trying to get to terms with. No, I am not passing judgements on the developments - just that it could have been avoided, well something not in my control though. Its during this period I greyed more, lost more sleep, underwent stress (which until then it only through books and journals ) and above all remained lost. In all these developments, I would be lying to myself if I said - I didn’t harbour hopes of ascending to a top post, which though didn't happen :(.


The memorable moments

I owe a Zillion for the best moments in my life to my wonderful family, especially to my lovely wife - who has been a source of immense strength in the ups and downs, one who has been inspiring through her selfless quest for spreading cheer, ever smiling - ever cheerful. I am blessed.


Yes, blessed I am for also being coaxed to embark on the year-end trip to Srirangam. A reluctant religious person that I am, the trip turned out to be a real eye opener. One that got me to understand the roots of Vaishnavism, the significance of worship, the beauty of Lord Ranganatha and the sheer embodiment of the place Srirangam - Thiruvarangam - Bhooloka Vaikuntam, well by whatever name we call it, its pure magic and I am filled with awe to know more about it. I shall delve on Srirangam in a separate post soon... where I shall draw the roadmap to my future visits and also the path to the Divya Desams. I am overwhelmed with discovery of the 'need to serve the lord', I shall do my Kainkaryams too. My next post will talk all about Srirangam and the beginning of a new journey courtesy a young, educated, brilliant soul who needs special mention.


As a customary thanksgiving to all the people in my life who have made it yet another beautiful year – I would want to add one more line – Keep ‘being there for me as always'

.... and no matter what – I shall always be there for you too!



I sign off with many unsaids, many more unkept promises and many many more miles to travel in the quest for Utopia - No I have NOT ceased to be a perfectionist, confessions apart, I strive to and will continue.



----------------------- pic courtesy : internet-----------------------