Home Sweet Home

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

-John Howard Payne

The lines stuck in my head since the last couple of weeks. Staying there. Stuck there. Bringing a sense of loss along with nostalgia with a feeling, that its never going to be the same.

My parents relocated to Delhi more than 3 years back but the relocation didn't really happen in my mind. The doors have now been closed finally. The house put up for rent. I feel a certain antagonism for the strangers who will now be living there...There's going to be a lot of ranting and cribbing here now... need an outlet...some of it may not make sense...some will be absurd...but you've got no choice...if you happen to come here, you have to listen to me...:-)

Ahmedabad has always been my home, my city, where I belong...and now I am bereft of it. My entire schooling was done there. I had a lot of childhood and school friends from this city (though I dont know where most of them are now), all the uncles and aunties and their children who were also my friends. They were invariably present on most of the occasions in my life. My birthdays and my marraige. My brother's birthdays and his engagement. They were all there. The neem tree near my house is familiar. Without its presence, we would miss the turn to our house. Honest Paav Bhaaji yet exists. The ice golas on the road. I learnt cycling there...on my own :-) (I am proud of it...). I got a lot of broken knees and bruises while playing with colony friends. My red BSA SLR...how can I forget her. My red Tobu tricycle. The lawn tennis academy near Gurukul road. Kanoria Arts centre where I went to learn sketching. Shreyas Foundation - where I learnt to swim. The tailor under the neem tream near the Shreyas Foundation who turned many of my jeans into shorts. IIMA. The chai wala near IIMA. The chinese corner near IIM. ATIRA. IMA. CG Road. The municipal market. CG road during Navratri & New Year. Law Garden. Bargaining at Law Garden and the wonderful chaniya cholis along with all the traditional junk jewellery at Law Garden. The street food at Law Garden and their very small amusement park.

Mount Carmel High School. Was and am proud to be Carmelite. My primary school at Khanpur, near Hotel Cama had a fabulous river side view. Of course, I was too young to realise it then. Remember taking Sunil Gavaskar's autograph on my hands when he had come down to our school. I remember Sr. Wilma, Ms Sandra, Ms Lopez. The Middle and the High School were at Navrangpura. Sr Flavia Dias, Sr Dulcine, Ms Mary Flory (who along with her brother Rody Flory became our neighbours at Judges Bungalows Road). Can't forget Ms. Ludvina who taught us needle work. David Colaco, our first 'active' sports coach who formed the first basketball team of our school of which I was its proud team member. Mrs Priya Kale, Mrs Sahai, Mrs Kerawala were my favourite teachers and of course Sr. Nirmalini :-).

Post my board exams of class X, I changed my school to St Xaviers Loyola Hall. Cannot forget Father Morondo. He was the best. Yet remember our inter school cultural festival - the Odyssey and of course the orange popsicles for Rs. 1 each :-). The school socials and the garba night and yes of course the class celebrated Raksha Bandhan too :-P. All through my school at Carmel and Xaviers, Chitra had been at my side. My "besty". I am in touch with her (thank God for small mercies :-)). Lot of my other school friends, Abhimanyu, Jeeshan, Jason, Errol, Kunal, Neha, Jaya & Sumati - I am not in touch with them. There are on my facebook friends list but thats different. I remember celebrating Christmas at Chitra's place. Going for the mid night mass. I remember the delicious fried fish - the first one - which I had. Her mom had prepared in a true Kerala style. I took an hour to eat :-). Yes - I remember that too!!! I miss Navratri. Remember how we used to take out our Kinetics and Scooties, drive around in our Chaniya Cholis and go visiting the different colleges and clubs and enjoy dancing to garba - raas. And then later stuff ourselves at IIMA with paav bhaaji because that would be the only place open at 4 AM in the morning.

There are so many memories which are flooding my mind right now and there's no way I can capture all this. But I know one thing, I am going to miss Ahmedabad terribly. Its not just because my parents are not living there anymore, its more than that. I grew up there. There are tons and tons of wonderful memories. I am going to miss going to Ahmedabad. But it shall always be where I come from, where I belong. My city.

Memory Revisited

The article has been published as my first attempt on http://www.theviewspaper.net/ over HERE!!!. This entirely is a work of fiction and should not be understood in any other mannar.

Totally love the music of Indian Ocean. Famous for “Kandisa” and “Arre ruk ja re Bande” from the movie Black Friday being one of my personal favourites. Took some out and left early to attend their show at Bandra Times Festival. Komal and I got a place to stand just towards the end of the ground...we moved and swayed along happily...and were mightily euphoric listening to the group...

The strains of music beat down my ear drums... the strumming of the guitar and the synchronised drum beats and the tabla....the throbbing speakers... the loud, melodious voice....the cheer of the crowds... I was thoroughly enjoying the music....the presentation...my foot tapping incessantly...

I was transported....some 8 years back.... to the hostel days in my Engineering College. I had just discovered “Kandisa”. I had listened to it day and night. Didn't understand an alphabet of the song but I guess that was not required... Mayna and me were crazy about this music. We were in her room...listening to the cassette on her tape recorder....the local electrician made speakers thumping loudly....both of us lost in the strains...sort of in a trance....staring at the ceiling....at the slow revolutions of the ceiling fan...when she says, I hope we remain friends forever. And I say, Of course! Where else would I find a friend like you!!!

A loud cheer broke out...hands were applauding wildly....the bodies swaying in rhythm...the crowd was singing along ....I fail to remember the name of the lead singer...My friend Komal looks at me happily...unaware of the time I had just visited...the friend I had just met....She turned towards the stage again...cheering with the crowd....and where all in a sudden moment, I feel the void, an emptiness, a blank moment...of just missing my friend...of us choosing not to be together to enjoy the Ocean...together ..Or partly perhaps...

A loud cheer broke out again! The show concluded. The crowd cheered. There was a huge applause for the performers. The crowd starts to dissipate. I turn my back and start walking towards the parking lot...the feeling of the memory stays!!!


Mumbai - Pune

Munish has a "thing" for a species under the category of "two wheeler - motor bike". Something, which he acquired rather late in his life. Especially when "late" is defined as a 26 year old, last semester at college, and learning to drive!!!! Since then, his "thing" for the particular category has always been on an exponential curve so much so that he refuses to sit in our cars much less “learn" to drive it.

Well - his beloved bike from college was almost in shambles when we got her from Pune to Mumbai. Had been in Pune under the care of many of his friends after he shifted to Mumbai. So finally, after a year of passing out, he did decide to bring her back to Mumbai :-). Well, off we went to Pune, collected his bike, got it repaired, PRAYED to God, counted our blessings and left for the road to Mumbai... It was one rickety ride... We lost our way many times, especially when we were closer to Mumbai. We reached JNPT and Uran by mistake. Took a detour again and then reached Vashi via Khopoli. Me - I was a mess. Wishing when the damned trip would end and dreaming about a hot bath and a warm bed. Mind you - I also took a cat nap in between and thus scaring Munish out of his daylights lest I doze off and fall of in the middle of the God forsaken highway!!!! My back was sore and so were some other parts of my body. Since then, I have always been wary of taking "long" drives on the bike.

That was then...my point of view changed. I tried hard to get out of this trip but Munish would not budge. He insisted on driving to Pune, with or without me :-O. Didn't want to let him go alone for two reasons, one - it is not safe to drive alone all the way from Mumbai to Pune, two - its monsoons and raining cats and dogs - so it becomes very risky!!!!

Hmmm....finally, I mustard up my courage and we started from our home. The first stop was at the garage to get the clutch repaired. Post that, all I can say is that I enjoyed every bit of the trip. Inspite of our rain gear, by the time we reached Lonavla, we got wet three times and also dried up three times!!! After reaching Vashi, we stopped at Mc Donalds for some burgers...I spilled the Pepsi :-P hehehe..[I guess I have to demonstrate some of my clumsiness !!!]...Then we stopped intermittently, to soak in the view... to have a hot makai and later at Khopoli for a highly sweetened masala chai at one of the innumerable tapris... :-). Only post Lonavla, did we stop for lunch at Toni Da Dhaba at 3:00 PM.... After stuffing ourselves with food, we then left for Pune which was only 30-35 kms away. Decided not to stop in between.

The entire trip was fabulous. The Mumbai - Pune highway has always been talked about for its beautiful lush greenary, especially in the Monsoons. It was simply thrilling. I have crossed this route many a times, but not during the monsoons. Feeling the cool breeze on our face, the green grass and trees, a cloudy sky, village women in the rice field with their umbrellas, the masala chai and the hot makai!!! It will always be etched in my memory.

P.S. I regret not having the camera lest it should get spoilled in the rains. Have clicked some pics from my mobile. Will put that up later.

Update: Pics taken from the mobile camera as below. The resolution is not all that great but nevertheless...:-)

Customer Service

When I saw this popular cartoon strip in Times of India today, I could not help but realise that this just reflects the current state of "customer service" which is not infact a service really if you see closely. It mainly serves as a complaint box and sometimes is very effective in venting out your frustration (personal or professional) on an unsuspecting call centre executive.

The unsuspective call centre executive is "almost" at no fault. Hired by well established, big organizations at a throwaway price, trained inadequately in subject and almost to perfection when it comes to put your call on hold so that the required clarity can be obtained from the "Floor Manager".

The "Floor Manager" category of employees is a frustrated lot. The good english speaking + well mannered + a suitable degree for the profession guy is not a very happy employee when leading a bunch of untrained employees employed mainly to exploit the "cheap labour" scenario. There is little or no ownership of work.

Almost everyone ..... lets list down ->

1. The caller - frustrated because of the service rendered, from incorrect billing to firing for a spelling mistake.

2. The call centre executive - frustrated because the customer is yelling on the phone, he is untrained and to top it all, the boss is chatting with a PYT...

3. The floor manager - frustrated because of a non performing team, irate callers and the PYT is finally giving him "bhaav / attention" after all the months of pursuing.

4. The "big" organizations - frustrated because the billing for the calls which are most of the times TOLL free to the callers is getting higher and higher...

5. The telephone service provider providing the TOLL free service - frustrated because whatever which is earned in the "billing" goes in maintaining its own "customer service"....

I may not have covered all the bits and pieces of "customer service" but hell - we are one frustrated lot!!!! Not exactly a service, eh??!!!!

Banana Bread

Banana Bread to my mind brings back an avid memory of sitting with Munish on a kitchen table and eating the homemade banana bread with Mr. Balbir Jootla in Dalhousie. We first visited Dalhousie on our honeymoon and had the most wonderful days there. Mr Balbir Jootla was our neighbour and had been living in Dalhousie and teaching meditation. That was the first time I had banana bread and the memory of the taste has remained with me ever since. It was always there on my to-do list but I just never found the time to replicate the receipe.

However, after all these years, keeping my limited culinary skills in mind, I searched for the simplest banana bread receipe on the internet and I found one :-) over here. It was one of the simplest receipes I found and easy to make.

I regret not having the bread loaf can so that the bread could take the desired shape. Due to the lack of it, the bread ended up looking like a cake :-P!!! But nothing beats the memory of the tasty banana bread I had in Dalhousie thanks to Mr. Balbir Jootla :-)