Sunday, 24 November 2013

Formula into Formula 1

“One last lap, and you’re out,” was the prompt from the Team Principal.

It was her Fifth lap of the test drive & her performances were abysmal. Especially,the last lap was a disaster:  the lap time was the worst of her career perhaps!

She shut her eyes !
The jeers of Formula 1 male chauvinists began to ring louder in her ears, "A female driver?? Wouldn't even last one race! Let her be in Go-Karting ! At least , she won't be killed there", they had chanted! Her ears became hotter under the helmet. It would be a huge embarassment for her backers , and might actually shut the door for future female racing enthusiasts into the sport. 

She gritted her teeth, strengthening her resolve as her silver machine sprung to life , one last time.
The engine roared....and off she went...

This time , she raised the bar! She blazed round the arena, with her tyre rubbers burning ! The lap time was too good to  be true!
She had proved her mettle in front of the sponsors !
The team principal was stunned ! 
FIA was indeed going to have a female driver in its ranks for the first time in years !

She climbed up her cockpit, opened her helmet , shook off the sweat from her hair!
The exuberant chants of her peers appeared distant , as she looked out at the race track!

She could already visualise the chequered flag at the finishing line! 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

the prompt : 'This time, she raised the bar',  should be there in the post.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Foray Into Bangkok

 "Sir, wake up! Your flight's landed at Bangkok! " , the petite Air Asia air hostess was smiling at me!
'Wait a Minute', I thought , ' Bangkok?? Really??' , I asked myself!
"No, you dimwit , it's Neptune you've reached", the devil inside my head was sarcastic, at the frivolity of my thoughts!

I remembered being smitten by the new attractive airfares of Air Asia from Kolkata to Bangkok on the World’s Best Online Travel Fair, on their website and planning to buy tickets for a vacation, without thinking twice.....but I had only been on their website..... When did I actually get up on the flight?? 
Or was I having retrograde amnesia??
Or was I in a time machine ?? 
Or...or..or..... Whatever!! 
Time had flown, that was evident , and I had reached the land of the White Elephant, so no more contemplating .....I got up with a smile and proceeded to check out.
Now, I've heard the Thai people can be quite spectacular in greeting their guests, but still, the feeling of being ushered into a foreign land with such generosity?? I was feeling happy! The confusion ,about how I ended up in the glitzy capital city of Thailand, from the Online Fair page of Air Asia, regressed to the very back of my mind!

Grand Palace
Emerald Buddha 
 Things started unravelling quickly, as the imperial KING's PALACE (Grand Palace) stood in front of me. I was barely out of the airport, and had taken a cab , but the first spot I was to visit was already there! The intricately built structure had me awed.......oh, what a start to the proceedings . And as a double bonanza to start off , the WAT PHRA KAEW , within the same complex housed the Emerald Buddha , a stunning statuette that drew gasps of admiration from my fellow tourists too!

Now , the surreal events got even more magnified , as I started skipping from one thrilling tourist spot , to another with whatever in between being blurred from my mind . Was I in some other time warp? Hard to tell, as the things were happening too fast.

Chao Phraya river
            Chao Phraya river: goodness ......I was stunned, as the sparkling blue waters reflected the spell of enchantment that had descended upon me! The majestic WAT ARUN stood tall , and reminded me of all its photos that I had seen in travel books. Just across the river , a ferry ride away, was the WAT PHO , that had the imposing statue of the reclining Golden Buddha .... I pored to look closely at him. I would not believe my eyes, but he indeed seemed to smile at me , and blinked his eyes reassuringly, before appearing as the beautiful statue once again! I rubbed my eyes , was it for real?? No way to confirm, I thought .....but it felt nice!

Wat Arun 

Golden Buddha at Wat Pho

Lumpini Boxing Stadium

The charming home of Jim Thompson , the Lumpini Boxing Stadium , all were specific landmarks that simply raised my excitement quotient . My camera was also working overtime,there was far too much to click all around me!

The FLOATING MARKET at DAMNOEN SADUAK : I was hooked! Now I regretted, oh, why didn't I bring my girlfriend along? She could've had a blast , with all the bargaining that was being possible here at the Venice of the East! The small boats in the canal ,were full of goodies. I looked around, other tourists were making a killing , with some incredible deals they were getting . My bargaining skills had not been honed to perfection, but I still managed to buy some veggies and fruits . The mind once more went back to the thought: ' I had bought tickets for her too....why didn't she come then??' , but were quickly replaced by ,' forget it , this is happening fast! What's wrong with a short solo tour ??'

Before long, I was staring at teeth-baring sharks , that appeared to be swimming above me?? How on earth......uh oh ... The SIAM OCEAN WORLD inside the SIAM PARAGON mall! My word: the marine creatures were all above us, and it was unbelievable to realise that it was the only possible place, where I could actually get to the bottom of their world, and yet be alive!!
The brands at the mall were all renowned names from the world of fashion , but , I was forced to curb my instincts not to spend a fortune there......'some other time', I consoled myself, and got out. It was Saturday, and, my mind was set on going on a shopping spree at the famous weekend shopping place: CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET.

Cool tees, mobile cases, tote bags for the girls in the family , junk jewellery.....all were picked up.. And I started giving myself a pat on my back , for making shopping so ridiculously easy ! Now , I was not a shopaholic , by any stretch of imagination , but the attractions were too much here , and I was bound to splurge ! And I felt that I had conducted my plans to perfection !
Grabbing some Thai delicacies from the street , I munched on happily, deciding , that a Thai spa was mandatory here! So off I went ,for some traditional Thai massage at Ruen Nuad! Ahh....those hands of the masseuse .....felt so nice ! They loosened up my body's hidden knots with panache! I smirked, thinking of the stories that I would have to tell friends back home.

Route 66 Nightclub
It was already dark, and the dazzling face of Bangkok was starting to make a bold statement! The skyscrapers made a pretty picture and glorified the skyline! I was growing restless too.......yes...... The Nightlife Baby! Bangkok is well known for its naughty self, post sundown , and I wanted to get a feel of it ! It appeared that I was on a guilt-free pass to revel in the spirit of glamour all around! ROUTE 66 should be the place to bring a crowning jewel to my day and I entered the nightclub , with the wild side to my conscience gearing up for one hell of a party! The music was loud, the ladies were gyrating , the drinks were fabulous, and I let go of my inhibitions in all the melee ! I completely lost myself, doing the crazy dances, and I did not want to get out anytime soon...........when ........suddenly , I got a thump on the back of my head ! I turned around to look at a rather dark corner, and was stunned to find Mom!!

She was staring at me with a queer expression, ' where were you? Sleep talking?', She asked! 'Bangkok', I replied promptly! 'What? Why were you sleeping on your laptop keyboard??' , she looked dumbfounded by my announcement! The reality check forced me to hastily look around to find my laptop screen , with AirAsia's webpage open on one of my browser's tabs, and Bangkok's famous tourist destinations open on another tab! 
Bangkok had always attracted me with all its beautiful locales, and i harboured desires to visit it some day. I was so attracted by the flight ticket offers on Air Asia's World's Best Online Travel Fair page, that I was on the verge of booking the tickets. In order to plan my trip, I was surfing the web pages depicting Bangkok's tourism . While going through them,I had somehow dozed off, and mentally forayed into Thailand!

Embarrassed , I was at a loss for words to explain myself . From Bangkok's casino , to my room in Kolkata , it was too much of a journey ,and stating that I was 'virtually jet lagged' wouldn't have been an understatement! But I had made up my mind......this dream was not meant to be shelved, it must be converted into reality ....and sooner ,rather than later, I plan this trip to Bangkok, a place, where I have never been , but was on a joy-ride , 

courtesy one incredible offer from!!  

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Selection !!

He had been left out, yet again, from the squad. 
Performances hadn't rewarded him with a place in the team.
He was shattered. The team was supposed to leave for the series in Australia in a few hours, after their grueling training camp, that was being held in his City only and he was in his room, not talking much, silently cursing his misfortune. 
It was time to start packing , and return to his hometown and prepare once again for the domestic tournaments, but he didn't feel like doing it! He didn't wish to return home at all!
His vision blurred......."no, no, control yourself", he tried to reason with himself," you're becoming too emotional" !
"Maybe, a shower is all I need",  he thought and went to the bathroom.
When he came out, he was a little unmindful, but his eyes suddenly caught hold of his glowing phone screen.  He remembered he had put it on silent, and then forgotten about it.
Picking up the phone, he was stunned:   38 missed calls in 10 minutes!  he wondered what was going on.
He proceeded to check out the numbers, and saw most of them were unknown.  Another call came right in, this time from his Dad, and he received it eagerly,  to be greeted by , "Son,Congratulations on your maiden call up!"
His brain went into a tizzy, was he dreaming?
"Hello, hello,son... are you there ?"
"Yes, Dad.... please explain! i don't understand"!
"My goodness, you don't know it yet??", his Dad sounded incredulous, " It's all over the TV, they are showing it in news was just announced 10 minutes back! One of our fast bowlers just got injured in a freak incident, and has a ligament injury, so the selectors have got together & picked you! Pack your things, come on, be quick now!! You are supposed to leave in a few hours' time! Where have you been?? they must have called you to inform you , by this time??"...his Dad was going on, speaking breathlessly!

He was stunned!
But there was no time to get carried away!!
 He rushed to pack in his things,....but this time,he had a broad smile across his face !!

Friday, 8 November 2013

celebrating togetherness: .....the platinum day of Love

 "Hey titas!stop!.... STOP! " .....was a female voice beside me that urged the puller of her rickshaw to stop. It was still early days in college ; I was almost running as i was late for Anatomy class . I looked up at the owner of the voice & vaguely recalled that this was the girl who had passed snide remarks at me for shooting paper bits from rubber bands at other classmates , the previous week. I was so pissed off with her then, that i hadn't even noticed that the girl had a sweet face, which i now could see.
    Getting up on to the rickshaw , i said "thanks for this. . . . . umm...errr." and realised i didn't even know her name. Rather embarassed , i blurted out , “Sorry , i don't recall your name. ." . "Papiya", she said with a smile!
Thus began our friendship from a rickshaw ride , which quickly changed into a mutual liking . We became inseparable in college , sitting together, having tiffin together as well as returning after college hours together. I understood, little by little , that Cupid had struck me , a feat that i had thought impossible in the past, as i poked fun at other guys having girlfriends. Classmates began to tease me but i was unable to propose to her . Once or twice, i had tried to utter the topic of relationships but she had made it clear that we two were "just good friends".
      Then the days started getting dreary. I was almost head over heels in love , even managed to churn out a poem or two (never knew i had poetry within me) !! My mind started playing the proverbial ‘guitar’ in every occasion that i was with her, and she often caught me unaware, gazing longingly at her. Inside my mind, the Devil was tearing apart my thought processes, as he made it impossible for me to focus on anything! Right through the day, my conscience kept telling me , that the time was rife to profess my love for her, come what may, and that in our current scenario, i was not going to go anywhere, rather than stay on as a loyal sidekick of hers, when she decided to commit to any other guy!!
    One fine evening ,i decided , enough was enough and sent a long text message which declared all my inner feelings & stated that if we were not meant to be together as a couple , it's better that we don't stay together at all, because my feelings for her were growing incessantly by the day. Deep down, i felt maybe even she loved me, but she was unable to realise it. I thought maybe if i was away from her,only then she would realise it.

     What followed was a stage of utter confusion. I avoided her at college ,and  sometimes most awkward situations arose due to this. Best friends for such a long time were complete strangers now. Friends reported that Papiya was found crying , but i tried to hide my inner troubles and strived hard to put up a normal face. Hours passed in college , that turned into days and days into months, and no signs of any reconciliation . I began to wonder how i would put a person whom i loved and  saw everyday , out of my head.
  Then IT happened. 4months later, it was the first IPL semifinal and i was in front of the television when my cellphone flashed a message. It was from Papiya and my heart skipped a beat. As the text opened , my jaw dropped and as i read on those magic lines(i don't share those lines, some things are best left personal) ,i didn't understand what i would do . Here was something i wanted so dearly for so many days, and now that it was achieved, i felt rather empty. It was close to midnight already, and needless to say, i was too elated to sleep that night!

The next day indeed turned out to be our Platinum Day Of Love ,as it was an emotional getting together . Friends helped us get over our awkwardness and cheered for us . We looked at each other and smiled, for the first time in so many months! We were akin to some celebrities, who had taken over the college , as all our batchmates made a huge fuss over the proceedings, and embarrassed us to the core! And , we did bunk the last few classes , to set out for our first ‘official’ date!
Sitting by the famed Rabindra Sarobar Lake in South Kolkata, we tried to inhale the air of relief and unbridled joy , surrounding us! None of us spoke, but from time to time, we cast glances at each other! It was strange......but it felt good to be back together! And oh, yes, we held hands, rather clumsily at first, then snugly, as good times beckoned!!
        It's been 5 years since we got together , right through college days, ending college, and foraying into the lives of Medical Interns! We've had excellent times and vociferous argues, but we do feel splendid together, and the day of our Platinum Day of Love still lingers ,as if it was only yesterday! Like the purity of Platinum, and the unconditional glow of its exteriors, the purity of the emotions of that day , and our glowing smiles , have stayed on, fresh in the memory! That’s the essence of that one special day, which was not extraordinary by any stretch of imagination, but the happy events had eked out a prized niche for the day in the vault of my mind ! Hope to stay this way . . . . . . . . :)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

10 tips for a Safer Kolkata....

"Kolkata tops the chart amongst India's safest cities....yet again"
Am I dreaming? Yes, actually , that's a headline, conjured in my brain, for a newspaper , some day in circa 2020! But for that to occur, a lot of existing loopholes in the city's security planning needs to be overhauled! It's not something extraordinarily difficult to craft, but the problem lies in implementation ....since the roots of evils have grown too old to be sheared off in a jiffy! Crimes have become more sophisticated, with technology aiding the criminals like never before.

Now , for people who are vulnerable in these difficult times, here's what i feel are the options to stay safer, because , at the end of the day, there's only your presence of mind that can save you, from a potential threat:

1. pepper spray: this one is a tried and tested weapon, and has a pretty high efficacy, if applied accurately. keeping one such spray handy is a useful solution!
2. karate: another rather useful approach is to engage in direct combat! it doesn't pay to become a lazybones, so try and learn some self-defence! a few karate steps can actually be life saving when faced with a one/two-to-one situation!
3. having a small Swiss-knife in the handbag can be reassuring for yourself. While jackknifes might get caught in the x-ray machines of metro rails , there's less chance that a Swiss knife would be confiscated. And if used with the right kind of precision, it can inflict some serious damage!
4. avoid travelling alone at late hours, and preferably, have a male companion who can be trustworthy. If office hours compel you, do insist on carpools, and make sure that you are not the last person to be dropped off!
5. when returning at late hours,opt for illuminated roads rather than shortcuts to save time. This can indeed be safer, as you are in less chance of being ambushed in the dark.
6. if caught in some nasty situation, i'd rather suggest , rather than panicking, try to buy some time, by offering negotiations
7. save your energy for the right time, and keep your senses alert! it might help to attract attention of policemen at just the right moment! And every criminal does tend to take his guard down at some moment or another. wait, precisely for that moment, and try to strike at places , where it matters the most!
8. always have your phone in hand, with the keypad not locked , while walking alone, so that you don't have to fiddle with the lock code, when you really need to fire that call. Having Smart Suraksha installed in the phone , is truly of great importance.
9. Never try to hitch a ride back home, with an unknown person. who wants to embrace danger willingly??
10. Finally, you might hate Geography to the core, but i would suggest that you have an in-depth knowledge of the landmarks and streets in your city, so that you are not completely at a loss, in case of some trouble that is taking you elsewhere!

all said and done, there's still this deciding factor called LUCK , that decides whether you can manage to combat! But a person who is by habit a pessimist, will give up long before she is defeated, while those with a confident attitude, and courageous nature can attempt to mould some luck their way, by rising to the occasion , and being street smart!