Sunday, 16 March 2014

Of Distant Lands and Closer Souls

 Being in a relationship from the first year of college life, P and me have been the proverbial campus lovebirds from the onset , and stayed together through thick & thin for years. We've gone on raucous excursions together with loads of batch mates, attended movies in huge groups, and went out to dine , with large table bookings being the norm. They've been fun, gifting us precious memories to savour, as our friends' circle has been filled with a myriad of human personalities who make crazy antics a part of their daily activities. 

  But despite not grumbling or complaining, as the college life drew to a close, I often felt , that me & P were left with very few hours that we had spent together, just the two of us, away from public scrutiny . We still go for the odd movie, or dinner , managing time out from our work, but those moments seem to fly away ever so quickly, compared to the hours that we labour at work. I wonder, whether there's a sabbatical somewhere , where our walks holding hands & having her rest her head on my shoulders , would not get over in a jiffy ?? Where we get to know each other better?? Perhaps, delve into each other's souls, to catch a closer glimpse at the people whom we actually fell for?? Perhaps not act according to how the society wants us to, and just be ourselves ??

In a busy city like Kolkata, that seems a distant possibility, since our friends' & relatives' numbers are enormous, and the spots of tourist interest around the city are likely to cause us to bump into one or more known faces.....thereby seriously jeopardising the quest to get closer! 

But what if we truly were love'Birds' ?? We could affectionately feed each other, cuddle a little, or tease playfully, without prying eyes & scornful words disrupting the genuinely lovely moments. 

What if we could fly away to the land of dreams where our souls wanted to go??

We could escape the urban melee for some days, and simply feed off each others' goodwill , like the migratory birds that fly thousands of miles during seasonal changes?? Wait, they escape the harsh winters in their homeland. But we would be happy to fly to a snow covered nation in winter, above the Arctic Greenland perhaps. Life as an Eskimo couple would be at a languid pace, unlike the turbocharged lives in our metro! We'd build an igloo, and sit through months of winter nights , with no sun to look forward to but only ourselves to generate and share the warmth . There would be no multiplexes for movies, but the dark sky would turn out to be a gigantic plex screen , with the Northern Lights   (Aurora Borealis) playing periodically, being our source of entertainment . Eskimos do live , don't they?? They love too , don't they?? So, there's my counter argument to any family member trying to state that life is impossible at the polar region during winter.

Did we try to isolate ourselves from the world?? Are we not too social?? I'm afraid, we can mingle with the multitude of crowds and bond together as well. Me & P cherish dreams of visiting the spectacular Rio Carnival in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro someday . There would be no formal dress code of our professional lives, and we'd be the happy-go-lucky couple , dressed in colourful attires , basking in the fun, frolic and fanfare, with nobody complaining at the "outrageousness" of the psychedelic attire of two doctors . We'd just be ourselves, dancing on the streets , thousands of miles away from our own country , without a care in the world, or without a family member to explain our actions too! We'd attend beach parties, spend a holiday on the beach , and capture loads of photos of us letting our hair down . But of course, we'd love to put our smartphones on "offline" mode most of the time as well! 

Closer home , there is this very famous place in India, which is one of the spectacular landmarks of the world, but we'd approach it in a different way to spend some very private time. Yes, I'm talking about the Taj Mahal, the epitome of love , that draws millions of tourists every year. But me & P would row up the river Yamuna, on the reverse side of the Taj , on a full moon night . We would sit together, gazing at the glistening edifice in the pristine moonlight , while the Yamuna's waters , gently swaying the boat , would churn our inner feelings for each other. Words would be meaningless at such an hour, as our souls would be engaged in a tight embrace , wanting to hold on to every second that passes. A night to remember , it would seem.....farther away from the city life , and closer to nature.

All these are genuine wishes, and I'm ready to take the plunge with P to turn these dreams into exhilarating reality . Then , we could proudly proclaim, that we indeed went far, to get closer .....and closer .....and some more closer to each other! 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Rohan and the Heaven Sentry

"So they diagnosed you with Obsessive Compulsive shopper syndrome,eh mortal??", the sentry at the gateway of heaven was cross checking his records!

"yeah....blah...", sarcasm was written in large alphabets across Rohan's face. He had just died from an exacerbation of his withdrawal symptoms after being put into rehab for internet de-addiction and was seeking an access to heaven's interiors.

The sentry looked around ,found that he had no more new entrants to attend to for the time being,and called him a little closer,"just between the two of us......heard you've a stock of hundreds of online deals & coupons with you?? "

Rohan remained impassive,but his eyes narrowed!

The sentry went on,"don't tell anyone,i've managed to hitch an internet access,here on heaven....the last net addict who arrived,struck a bargain with me, that i would allow him his laptop into heaven, but in exchange  , he'd share his wifi network with me!!"

Rohan was flabbergasted!! The sentry had turned out to be quite a techno freak!
"you guys in heaven are supposed to know everything that happens in the universe and get everything that you desire! Then,why are you so attracted to the internet??",he enquired.

"ah....but you dont have online stores here in heaven. Ever since that guy gave me the access to internet, I've surfed through the sites and I'm dying to buy some goodies from your online megastores! The same old shops here sell standard outdated stuff , which are laughable!! The Lord hasn't thought of upgrading from the old Heaven Cheap Store , that stocks ancient items, whereas you earthlings, His creations , have surged ahead in business!!"

" But how'd you expect them to be shipped to you?? The online stores don't have Heaven's pincodes, I'm afraid!! " , Rohan was apprehensive.

The sentry replied, " you don't worry 'bout that! I'll fix it so that one of the people due to arrive here, will bring them along ! You can ensure that the items are shipped to his place. I'll see the rest!"

Rohan was amused, he asked, " Cheeky,eh?? Smuggling things into Heaven right under God's nose! No doubt these people down on earth are so corrupt, when his own Sentry is duping him! The Lord is taking some time off from his duties these days, right??"

The sentry frowned, " Shut up, will you??"

"Ok,ok", Rohan said," So, what do you need from me ??!!"

"i need some info on the coupons and discount vouchers. I need some of yours....i'm struggling to understand the concept!! I might overlook some of your sins, for which you were to serve a few sessions at Hell...... I'd try to make sure that your sentences are reduced ! "

Rohan: "oh....let me see!! you are asking for bribes!!"

Sentry: "ok....go ahead, with your Hell time..."

Rohan: "wait , wait....i'll not grumble...."

The sentry looked satisfied, "Good, then start with this one .....i need to buy this special shoe i had seen at one of the sites, and this turban ...and also this Kurta ....but I'm confused how to order them together and get some discount . Here's my card,buy them for me!"

Rohan was waiting for this, the sentry was playing right into his hands.....
he logged into Gopaisa .

"what are you doing??", sentry asked.

Rohan:"buying your apparel, mister!! "

Sentry: " but this is not where I saw them!"

Rohan: " now , you keep quiet and let me do my job!"

He completed the procedures, ordered them to be shipped to the person's address the sentry had mentioned and stood there...satisfied. The order was to be delivered in 2-3 days!

"Ok, I'll fix his dying time accordingly" , the Sentry was happy. " you may go now. I've cancelled your time to be spent at Hell ! But I want to know,what exactly did you do there?? You had logged on into another website !"

Rohan smirked. " oh, i was just ensuring my service charges! I let you use my discount coupons , helped you buy the stuff .....couldn't just do it for free right??"

The sentry was taken aback!

"But you worry not", Rohan continued, " just creamed a little cashback off you!! GoPaisa was indeed giving mega cashback on your chosen sites!"

"the WHAAAT??", it was obvious the Sentry hadn't ever heard of it!

"Ah, bought the stuff, i earned a few bucks !! But it's too difficult to explain all of it! You just understand this, that a fraction of your spending have been siphoned off , and ensured that I get the commission I deserved for myself! You see, God gave us monetary transactions, but we humans created the Cashback! Fair deal!"....Rohan signed off, and walked away laughing ,into the Garden of Heaven!

P.S: The sentry and Rohan regularly order stuff online, and get them delivered to them by their "new entrant piggyback venture" ! The sentry has an account in GoPaisa himself, but he doesn't irritate Rohan much, lest he missed out on any new systems that came in vogue on the internet, which Rohan is always up-to-date with!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Cashback: the new Bargaining coupons !!

        Not long ago, winning a bargain in the markets of Kolkata , especially near the Esplanade area meant , quoting a price, that ranged approximately 40-45% of what the hawker had claimed for a goodie that you yearned for, and managing to nail it at your price,with a permissible margin of +5% to your 'final price'!! There was no concept of a cashback, and whatever we managed to save via our aggressive tug-of-war with the vendor, was perceived as a lot of money earned!! That a shopkeeper would actually give you back some amount as credit , as a goodwill, that you could expend at some other shop , was a stuff of fairy tales !
                       Cut to circa 2013-14, and now , probably the kiddies in the kindergartens can explain what a cashback is. Thanks to the flourishing of online stores , offering you deals and coupons , to order your preferred items, you are now inundated with choices! Sifting through hoardes of such promotional emails , and advertisements on the web can be tedious, and the average consumer might find it difficult to get a grip on the scheme of things, but there's no denying the fact that every netizen, has a longing somewhere in his mind, to buy online. The cashback adds to the perks on offer, and sure intrigues the customer, as to how he can accumulate a fair amount of credits, by indulging in 'sin' , ie, shopping action that would have actually drawn criticism from parents, but now, acts as an overwhelming impetus to buy some more, so that a fraction of his hard earned cash, makes its way back to him , even if in virtual currency !! 

Ah, the pleasures of the good life that today's citizens can afford!! 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Negotiating Smelly Skunks

        Attending college at 8 AM was a sort of punishment that only the harshest of individuals can mete out to an undergraduate . If Gen Y had set the standard timings for education, I can well assume that a convenient timing would be a college that starts at 2 PM , enabling the student ample time to wake up at 11 AM  after sleeping off the internet hangover from the previous night, amble through his combined breakfast+lunch , take a bath & finally reach college at a little past 2PM , when the eyes are drowsy no more. It's not sacrilege these days to flout the age-old proverb , " Early to Bed & Early to rise, makes a man Healthy wealthy & wise!" The young guns today have increasingly turned to becoming nocturnal.......but that's not a scenario the college authorities would approve, so the professors would bestow upon the student this cruel ordeal of having to stutter all the way to college , feeling groggy , with the body's biological clock protesting vehemently against it being massacred this way. Almost as if on cue, the ritual that got neglected the most was bathing , and sure enough , I had people smelling somewhere between stale pieces of vegetables to an unclean garbage vat in the morning classes. Most people coming from the hostel, clutching a notebook in one hand , and trying to flatten the hair standing awkwardly on their head by the other , fell in this category. If it was winter , some of them made bathing a monthly event , so for us day scholars , bypassing them was a-trick-a-minute event. 

One of the sacrifices i had to make in this regard was to let go of my inhibitions of sitting on the front benches. Attending college had made this a custom for us to be Backbenchers-by-default , and we were deterred by no amount of coaxing, cajoling or warning by the professors to come to the front of the class. But magically enough , we realised the only way to avoid the smelly hostelites early morning was to block the front benches . Sure enough, to the extreme surprise of the professors, we were there , sitting at the very front of the class, trying to look attentive as he taught , while our focus was fixed on not breathing in that polluted air ! The window seats were of high demand for this reason too, as it provided the seat occupant with the oxygen cylinder, that could replenish his severely depleted stock of fresh air from time to time, as he was forced to turn his nostrils outside.

SKUNK: an especially bad smelling mammal
(Image source: google)

 Selective breathing too was quite helpful , as I chose not to respire much , when an unavoidablel interaction happened with some of these smelly skunks. Doing deep breathing exercises helped , as I could build up my respiratory muscles to hold on to my breath for a longer period of time , as I ticked off the seconds spent talking to him, before rushing off for an imaginary assignment , that would help me take a deep breath of fresh air again. 

Sometimes, I wondered , whether the poor souls themselves didn't feel punished by having to smell so bad, and I had once ventured to ask one of them, a friend , as to when he had bathed last ! 
"Why?", he was rather surprised I had asked this.
" Because , to be very frank, you smell like you've been fermented!" , I was candid.
The friend was incredulous," WHAT? I have put on the best deo in the market ......I can myself smell it!" 
I was in no mood to explain that what he was smelling as deo was just a figment of his imagination, as, even the costliest deodorants would never claim to suppress the odour emanating from a putrefied corpse, and skipping bathing made my friend smell no less! 

I felt for these folks from the hostel..... Simply having an instant water heater would set this malpractice of theirs straight , but nobody cared less, while they stayed on , spreading Smell Pollution , and getting stigmatised !