Dilemma

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Drinking the most expensive cocktails available in a lonely bar at 2pm in the afternoon is not everyone’s idea of spending time in his home city after a span of 5 yrs. But so it was for Kaustav after having a row with his wife Sakshi for the amount of tip to be given at the hotel. Kaustav was in his hometown Guwahati for a business trip as part of his company’s expansion program in the north-eastern part of India. He worked in a big marketing & advertising company based in Mumbai.

After his initial posting in Mumbai, Kaustav being the only child, his mom and dad shifted along with him to Mumbai. There he met Sakshi through a common friend and although they didn’t love at first but slowly they began to like each other’s company and due to similar family backgrounds they married. Today was supposed to be the last day of his 4 day sojourn to Guwahati.  Kaustav’s mother was recuperating from a bout of jaundice so their parents didn’t come with them to Guwahati, only Sakshi came along with him.  Surely Kaustav was a bit overworked from his daily meetings and conferences but lately his difference with his wife has been rising in the past year or so.
Kaustav paid the bartender and but didn’t offer any tip.

Contrary to what he had expected he was utterly left disappointed after drinking. The cocktails although expensive did nothing to help his mood. Discontented at the poor quality of cocktails and frustrated at having wasted so much money he went to his car and looked for his chauffeur who was having a nap in the car parked beside the road adjacent to the bar. As he was going he suddenly happened to notice a known face amongst the crowd. 

His heart pounded very fast for he was seeing Riya after about eight years. Riya was his first and perhaps till now his only love. They were both college sweethearts but when he went to study in Singapore, Kaustav on the apprehension that Riya might find someone better than him or perhaps she would cheat on him in a long distance relationship broke up. Kaustav was then okay with it although he felt a little bad but Riya was completely heartbroken at Kaustav’s attitude. He had recently heard that Riya had married a professor and was now working as a lecturer in IIT-G. Seeing her walking across the other side of the road made him realize that he still loved her and after all these years he still couldn’t forget her.

Kaustav at once wanted to cross the road and talk with Riya, for Riya was once also his best friend, now he hardly had one friend only acquaintances. He wanted to enquire about Riya, how she had been all these years, did she miss her, how her husband was and what not. But he also wanted to look at Riya more closely. He wanted to look at the face that had been eluding him for so many years, the eyes where he could be lost forever with joy, the voice that seemed more pleasant to him than any other music record in the whole world. He wanted to rekindle the old love and friendship he had with Riya.

But he stopped, because reality suddenly dawned on him. What if Riya becomes angry seeing him? What if she says something bad that he wouldn’t be able to forget? Besides he also doubted that even if Riya liked seeing him after all these years and somehow if they are able to rejuvenate their love, it would be tremendous injustice to throw their relationships with their respective spouses in jeopardy. He could not think of cheating on Sakshi and even the thought of it made him feel guilty.
So he watched Riya walk through at the opposite end of the road. Riya didn’t look a year older to Kaustav when he had last seen her at college. The road made it seem as though Riya and Kaustav were two parallel lines, close but yet not intersecting. The distance of the road separating them must have been about 16 meters but their hearts were worlds apart. Riya didn’t seem to notice Kaustav, maybe because he has changed in these years and Kaustav felt it was only better that she hadn’t.

Kaustav didn’t awake the driver for he didn’t want to be interrupted while seeing Riya walk.  He silently took out his cigarette, lighted it ever so carefully and smoked absentmindedly. He watched Riya slowly fade into the crowds of people coming in from the other side as the smoke from his cigarette faded into the polluted atmosphere. But still he could make out Riya’s face amongst the crowd.  The crowd began to disperse as he took another puff from his cigarette and Riya was again visible to him. But as the smoke from his last puff began to fade away into the air Riya seemed to have disappeared in the horizon.

Disappointed Kaustav threw away his half smoked stick of nicotine and stomped on it as though trying to kill away the happy memories he had with Riya. As the light of the cigarette butt died down he felt as though a part of his also died with it. He was about to curse himself for having left such a nice girl as Riya but was stopped short by the yawning of the chauffeur who was rising from his short nap.  Kaustav also was awoken from his sudden despair after noticing Riya. He hopped into the car and asked his chauffeur to drive to the hotel quickly. 
  

In love, always

Am always in love
not with you
or the idea of you
but with life
with its many obstacles and awards

Am always in love
not with the memories
or the good times I had with you
but with nature
its serenity and capability for devastation

Am always in love
not with your elegance
or your mysterious smile
but with the world
its mysteries and its many inhabitants

Am always in love
not with the expectation
or with the intention of being loved in return
but with myself
my faults and merits, imperfections and glories

even if it hurts
even if it is difficult
I m in love, always for ever

Why I love reading Haruki Murakami

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Frankly speaking I was not an avid book reader till I read Haruki Murakami’s “After Dark “. I know its not amongst the best books of his but somehow it connected with my emotional state at that point of time and I enjoyed it. Since then I have never been able to stop my addiction of reading books especially books by Haruki Murakami.
Haruki Murakami’s characters are strangely very similar to real life people I have encountered and some of them are like me. Its like he is writing about me had I been in Japan. His characters especially the protagonist is not someone without faults and blemishes but someone who is practical but confused. This closeness to real life of the characters and yet the elements of magical realism in his work makes reading his books an experience which cannot be expressed in words.
Haruki Murakami explores the themes of loneliness, solitude and individuality to a deep extent. I m an individualistic person as such I greatly admire such elements in a writer’s work. Some of his works may seem dark but then there is a strange sort of beauty even in his darker works.
Haruki Murakami is not an author whose works I feel can be speed read for the simple fact that his work involve deep allegories which can only be enjoyed while reading slowly. Haruki Murakami’s views on love as expressed in his works is beautifully confounding yet its surreal and I can’t stop admiring.
Nowadays there has been a buzz that he is going to win the Nobel prize. I wish him well to win but Nobel or not Haruki Murakami will continue to be my favorite writer. There are many other reasons why I love reading Haruki Murakami but there aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to express .

Solitude

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Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation from people. Solitude is often confused with loneliness which is far from correct. Loneliness is a state of being unhappy when one is alone and is seeking company, solitude on the other hand is a state of breaking contact with the other world willfully so that one can introspect and have some time by oneself.

In this world, there are things you can only do alone and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.”- Haruki Murakami

In today’s world of competition and rat race people need solitude all the more. Sometimes the answers we seek are within ourselves. We just have to introspect. In the midst of people, it is not possible to do so. Therefore we must sometimes seek solitude. When we become surrounded by too many people it becomes difficult to devote time to ourselves.

We shouldn’t be so much drowned in the affairs of the world that we have no time for ourselves. If we do so we slowly begin to become unaware of our own existence and try to live our life always seeking others’ approval. We should be aware of our life. Sometimes a person needs a little privacy from the outer world so that he may pursue what he might think necessary being alone and undisturbed. Absence of solitude is sometimes the cause of stress and anxiety.

Solitude is a period where one can truly know oneself. Many artists and writers have reached their peak of creativity in solitude. In solitude sometimes there is bliss. Man’s mind is tranquil only in solitude.

The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude”- Aldous Huxley

Tears

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Tears are a part of our lives which however we may deny never cease to disappear completely. We generally tend to associate tears with grief, sadness and loss although tears of happiness also exist. Tears clear our eyes and help us come to terms with reality of the world. A person who doesn’t cry in grief is more hurt than one who does. Tears are not a sign of weakness but they are instead a means of moving on in life. The memories associated with the unhappy memories can sometimes only be washed with the tears.

Tears shed for the wrong reasons and the wrong person may be a constant source of unhappiness. Tears are precious gems of the heart which should only be shed for someone/something who deserves it.

  “Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” – Edgar Allen Poe

Without the tears we never realize the true meaning of happiness. An emotionally sound person needs tears as much as he/she needs laughter. Laughter and tears both are complementary; one cannot exist forever without the other. If we laugh a lot often tears come out of our eyes. Even moments of extreme joy also makes us cry.

   “I always knew looking back on the tears would make me laugh, but I never knew looking back on the laughs would make me cry”- Unknown

I m “just” a quizzer

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I was, still am and possibly will always be interested in quizzing. It doesn’t matter to me whether I win laurels in quiz or not. Laurels are an excess baggage I m happy to associate with quizzing. I m particularly annoyed at people’s presumptions when I say I like quizzing. They always jump to concusions: “so you are preparing for IAS it seems”, “so you are gonna ace the CAT exams”, “you will get through any interview” etc. etc. I m amazed and angry at the foolish judgemental nature of people. I quiz because I like quizzing not with the intention of preparing for some job, entrance or interview. I still enjoy attending quizzes and with i try to satiate my never ending quest for knowledge. And although I have attended many quizzes and have been selected to the finals of many I still am not a know-it-all.

A memorable visit to “Jesus Home”

I was in class five and our winter vacation had started. I was just reading comics, while I lay on my bed. It was a holiday for me but my dad had office so I was with my mom at home. I heard our main gate creaking. I jumped out of my bed to answer the knock on my door. There were two guys in their twenties standing at our doorstep with some big bags. The two men looked like the tribal people of Assam.

They asked for my mom. I called her at once. They were speaking in broken Hindi and possibly Nagamese, a language which is a concoction of mostly Assamese with a tinge of the local language of Nagaland. My mother couldn’t understand them much and suspicious about their intention, asked them in Hindi to go to some other place.I, on my instincts, tried to talk in English with them. Being brought up in a missionary school for about five years inadvertently makes you capable of conversing in the global language. I came to know the intention of the guys soon. They said they had come for collecting donation and clothes for people affected by drug addiction and children rendered orphans by drug addiction. My family was not that well economically as we were from the middle class. So hearing the word ‘donation’, my mom immediately said that she had sympathy for the work they were doing but she couldn’t give them money. They accepted our answer and gave us some pamphlets and the address of their institution, an NGO named “Jesus Home”, and told us that if we felt we could help them in any way, not necessarily monetarily, but by giving old clothes, we could go visit their NGO.

In the evening when my dad came home, I told him about the visitors. He read the pamphlets. I being an only child had many old clothes and since all of my cousins at that time were older than me, my old clothes were accumulating in our drawers. My dad thought this was a good opportunity to donate those and make a difference to the lives of some fellow human beings. It was decided by my dad that on the coming Saturday, being the second Saturday of the month and a holiday for him, he would go to donate my old clothes along with some of his to this NGO. But I insisted adamantly that he take me along with him to that place. My mom tried to scare me saying that addicts even after attending rehab were dangerous, and even scolded me on my repeated insistence. But I held on to my stubbornness and they eventually gave in to my demand.

The Saturday arrived and I and my dad started our journey to this Jesus Home. On the way, my dad brought me some chocolates. We got into the office and my dad enquired where to donate the clothes. The warden or supervisor of the home called some guys. One of those guys had been at our house. I recognized him and he smiled at me. We gave him our clothes. We could hear some children singing; I asked him where the source of this sound was. He said the children, most of them orphans, were practicing for Christmas. I wanted to see their practice.
With my dad’s approval, I went with the guy; whose name I came to know was David, to see the practice. They were all singing seriously. I felt sorry to disturb their practice. David introduced me to the kids. All the kids smiled and some of them shook hands with me. I was greatly moved because I thought them to be hostile and belligerent because of their upbringing. But I was proven wrong. They were the friendliest people I had ever met, even friendlier than some of the boys in our school. I was happy and sad at the same time; happy for I had come to visit them and could help them and, sad for I harbored grave misconceptions about them and the bad luck they had to endure. I wanted to do something more for them. Suddenly I remembered that I had chocolates with me. I distributed them among the children. By giving the chocolates I tried to bring a little happiness and sweetness in their bitter lives. I parted by wishing them goodbye and Christmas cheer. They along with David invited me on Christmas. I happily obliged and went to our home with my dad.

I am sharing my Do RIght Stories at BlogAdda.com in association with Tata Capital.

Independence

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Sipping tea Suresh was uninterestedly watching the news . Tomorrow being independence of India, the news channels were all filled with information and trivia regarding Independence day. He was simply bored so he turned off the idiot box and switched to reading newspaper. It was filled with the usual stuff about parliament being disrupted, scams, scandals and the like. Suresh now pondered to think what have come out of this independence.

The poor were still poor and rich continued being richer although there were some noteworthy exceptions. As he was born after independence of India he couldn’t relate to the independence struggle as his father did. His small shop was enough to feed his small family of three and save a little for his daughter’s education and marriage.

As he was pondering over all these things his wife came to take the dishes of his tea and snacks. Seeing his wife he was sudddenly forced into thinking about the plight of women in a country where the country is symbolised as a mother as in “Bharat Mata”. Yet in such a country women were still not safe to move freely, where in the name of tradition, superstition, dowry and honour women are still being killed. His daughter came to him asking him some questions about her geography assignment. He answered and explained as much as he could. The small girl was satisfied and got back to writing her assignment.

Answering about his daughter’s assignments he was forced to ponder what have come of the states of the indian nation. Demand for newer states were rising and who knows how many times geography textbooks may have to be changed in the coming years. He then thought about education scenario and how tough the competition was nowadays and although literacy levels has risen but still the amount of universities and centres for higher education were abysmally small compared to the amount of students. What else can be expected of a country where the lawmakers spend little in higher education and more in giving poison ridden mid-day meals through scam infested networks of middle-men.

While thinking all these things it was time for dinner. As he sat on the dining table he wondered about the price rise specially of vegetables. Onion was an expensive vegetable now which he could not afford often. Yet without expensive spices and vegetables the food was great because his wife, like most Indian housewives was adept in making delicious things out of simple and cheap ingredients. As was his custom he switched on the TV . Again there were these hippocrites blaming each other on national television for the lack of development and scams taking place in the country. It left a bad taste on his tongue, so he quickly finished his meal. After that he wished his wife and daughter goodnight and went to his bed. As he laid down he thought that India as an entity may have been free of foreign colonists but Indians are still at large not free, only the foreign colonists made way for indigenous colonists.

As he proceeded to pray before going to sleep. He wondered how amongst all these chaos and scams and injustices India still continued to remain united and functioning as a single entity. Maybe it was God’s grace that made this country survive for almost 66 years after independence from British rule. And resigning the fate of the country to God he went off to sleep.

Karmic roadblock

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Stranded on a steep hillside dhaba sipping cup after cup of tea wasn’t supposed to be in the itinerary of Rajesh. Rajesh a travel writer for a leading lifestyle magazine had been on a visit to the Buddhist town of Tawang for his review of tourist places in northeastern part of India. Their bus was stranded for about three hours due to a sudden landslide. The army and local people were clearing the debris and the road wasn’t supposed to be clear till tomorrow morning. He and some of the fellow passengers took rooms in a nearby guesthouse whose name was too exotic to pronounce. Rajesh was so engrossed thinking about his work and awed and mesmerized by the steep hills and lush forests that he didn’t care who his fellow passengers were in the bus. Now since the road was blocked for the night he had all the time to notice his fellow bus boarders and also the natives of the hills.

He observed that the people boarding the bus could be mainly divided into three groups- hippy tourists, monks and some locals who had some business to attend to. Rajesh never liked hippies, the locals and the monks seemed nice but he didn’t understand their language nor could they or so he thought. Besides he was not in any mood to engage in sign language histrionics. So he sat in a corner sipping tea and reading the latest issue of the magazine he worked in, which he had packed in his travel bag. The hills made him both happy and sad. The hills were beautiful, steep and majestic but they also were devoid of enough human interaction that although, he seemed to dislike when he was in the city, now he missed here in amidst the hills.

Soon a monk came and asked ” its hotter here than in Tawang, isnt it?” Rajesh was a little surprised that the monk seemed to speak in a common understandable tongue. The monk looked about 40 yrs. old had a radiant pair of eyes and his smile was mysterious to say the least. “Ya, but I am more attuned to a little heat than the harsh cold in uphill.” And thus started their conversation. They enquired about their purpose of visit to Tawang, discussed about the weather, places they had been to around the world. The monk abruptly asked Rajesh “what is that is troubling you my son?” Rajesh was a little taken back by this sudden question and hesitantly replied “no I am not troubled sir. “The monk then gazed straight into the eyes of Rajesh and he was forced to concede that yes he indeed was troubled. Rajesh was troubled by the constant stress of his work. Lately due to stiff competition from his contemporaries he was losing face in the eyes of his employer. Although he did write articles which seemed good to him the editors were not much pleased with his work. He always longed for the approval of his editors and he was quite distraught now for not getting enough of it. However Rajesh was not demoted from his position nor was there any risk of losing his job, infact he earned better now than before. But he still wanted something to happen and yet he did not know what it was. So he grasped the first opportunity for a trip to Tawang thinking it would soothe his mind but contrary to his expectations it did not help much.   

Listening to the plight of Rajesh the monk first smiled dispassionately and then said, “Believe in Karma and you will be fine. And…” Rajesh interrupted, “how can I believe that my present condition is a result of my past life sins. I would respectfully decline to do so.” The monk explained, ” I m not asking you to believe in your Karma of previous life. All I m asking you to do is to believe in the Karma of your present life. Believe that you will get what you truly deserve. Your work will reap you the benefits you need. Do not be attached to the results of your actions. Do your work and leave the rest to a higher entity. What goes around eventually comes around. Do not get into some work expecting to get something in return, because it is expectation that hurts the human soul the most. Unfulfilled expectations are the cause of sorrow. If you can free yourself of expectation you will attain nirvana, but I understand it is not possible for people like you, to be devoid of any expectations entirely. But try to have minimal expectations and dont be attached to the results of your work.”

Rajesh listened like a child to all this and somehow a big clout cleared in his head and peace seemed to finally reside in his mind. The monk and Rajesh parted ways for the night and after so many days Rajesh slept like a child. Next day when he woke up the debris were cleared and he wanted to talk again with the monk. But the monk was nowhere to be seen. He enquired about the monk to others and he did meet some monks but none fitted his description of the monk he saw yesterday. He thought maybe he had wandered to some nearby monastery. Before restarting on his bus journey he thought it would be apt to go visit a nearby monastery so that there are no further roadblocks on his journey home. But he was shocked to see in the monastery the picture of the monk he had met. The name was written in possibly Tibetan script but below it was written (1968-2012). He was shocked and doubts started to arise in his mind whether that was a ghost of the monk . But he remembered the monk or the ghost of the monk or whatever it was had delivered to him. He decided that the purpose of his visit to Tawang is now fulfilled. He accepted that it was perhaps divine intervention that sought to deliver him the message of Karma and to which he must adhere to. He then left the monastery and boarded the bus on his way to home.    

My top five favorite books

Books have been an integral part of my life lately so I thought why not write about the top five books that I have enjoyed reading till now. so here we go:-

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A great book about love, life and relationships. It raises questions on what we perceive as right and wrong . Although a little similar in plot to Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” I liked it more because its less darker. An ultimate Murakami classic. And there are of course reasons galore which can never be expressed in words and can only be experienced while reading it. I can never get tired of rereading it.
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The story of the De la Garza family with food as the main background it tells the story of powerful female protagonists set in Mexico. A story of love, life, loss, women, emotions and obviously food. The twists always have your attention and the elements of magical realism enhance the beauty of the novel. Women, food and family were never so greatly intertwined in a novel like this.
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A humorous novel with music as the backdrop it tells the story of a guy who has recently broken up with his girl and how after many struggles and self introspection he finally wins her back. Many people have classified this utterly funny novel as “guy lit” ( whatever that is), but I just can’t seem to like it less every time I read it in parts. A must read for every man and music lover.
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A noir classic which must be enjoyed by any lover of mystery and detective novels. Philip Marlowe is both cool and cunning at the same time. He’s got style and class, and yes he also got the attention of women. The twist in the plot is awesome to say the least.
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Okay, okay I know two Murakami books is a bit of an overdose, but can’t help it. Haruki Murakami is my favorite writer so this part memoir part treatise on running has to be in my top five books list. Although myself am not much a runner I liked the way Murakami related running to his life and how it had shaped him as a writer. Running is almost an allegory in this book and is quite relatable to whatever we may enjoy.

So that’s it, my top five books. Let me know if you have read or liked any of these.