Sunday, March 25, 2007

Just One Last Memory…

25th March, 2007

The last few days… studies taking so much of the time… precious little time to do anything else at all… the urge to do so many things… so little time to do all that… got two weeks… plans worth two years… the excruciating realization of having to leave a piece of yourself behind…

Some things just happen in life… some memories just stay forever… some hours of togetherness can make up for lost time of years… some experiences relive the magic of yesterday… some just make you look forward to tomorrow…

A few wonderful hours of one night spent together… unplanned, unexpected… a night of revisiting favorite haunts… of discussions of future… of coming to terms with reality… much against the wishes, time flies… words pour from the heart… but a pregnant silence follows, poignant with unspoken words… so full of verve… yet tinged with the imminent parting… some feelings creep into the core of the heart… pure, innocent, true… far from the maddening crowd… untouched by the crazy practicalities of life… so removed from the world…

Something is in the thoughts… the mind says something else… disbelief writ large on the face… yet the heart says it’s true… why does it happen? No one knows…

A night of remembrances… perhaps the last ever… three golden hours stolen from among the various harsh practicalities of life called ‘work’, ‘studies’, ‘packing’, ‘sleeping’… precious few moments snatched out of busy schedules and an unapproving society… when the bonding of two hearts was witnessed only by the cold hands that warmed each other… when the gorgeous eyes of one searched the pretty eyes of the other for something called ‘hope’…

An unsaid, heartrending plea not to be forgotten… a silent promise to reminisce… beautiful moments that cannot be not-thought-of… things change with time… life moves on… but some things that “just happened” at one point of time still occupy the heart… the memory stays forever… the taste lingers on…

A beautiful night of togetherness… of remembrances… of fond memories… and of unexpressed feelings… that is what is called life!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Chat with Sameer

Sunday, 24th Sept. '06

I had a strange experience today. After the discussion on my birthday with Mom n Dad about Prithvi, I was confused and lost. And you know me - I’m forever dependant on Sameer for all sorts of emotional advice! He’s the one whom I can completely trust and open myself up to… But Prithvi’s is one topic which I was quite hesitant about discussing with him… he’d always had a thing against Prithvi… But after all, Sameer is my best friend, and I know he’s the best person to talk to… he knows me inside out, and he’ll give me the best advice. So I decided to catch up with him today, and give it a shot… if he behaved normally, I thought, I’ll have a chat with him…!

So, we’d been to his favourite haunt, Indradhanush – sweets-freak that he is! After the usual exchange of “pleasantries” about how busy the other one is, and how we both ignore the other one (read, “Allegations”, “Choicest of abuses”, “Hurtful and sarcastic comments”!) we finally got talking about the thing that was eating into my peace of mind...

Sameer kinda had a hint already. He’d seen my parents conduct themselves with Prithvi, and he knew what was going on in their minds. When I confided in him about my confusion, to my great surprise, he asked me, “What’s the harm in getting married to Prithvi?”!

Honestly, I was a bit shaken up by his response. Sameer loves me. However much he tries to do deny it, I know he does. And he knows very, very well that I love him too. Sameer always had a thing against Prithvi, and despite his not-so-convincing attempts at hiding it from me, I could understand the reason behind it. Like Anu, Mallika and the rest of the gang, he also teased me about Prithvi at times, but whenever I gave a little more attention to Prithvi than to him, he’d get upset. He’d get jealous. And he’d take it out on me in small ways. And if, by any chance, I praised Prithvi for any reason, he’d go out of his way to point out all the negative points that Prithvi has!

The same guy, today, tells me to get married to Prithvi? Unbelievable! I guess I have a very good reason to be shaken!

Of course, not to let anything happen between Sameer and me was my decision. I wanted to make sure that I don’t do anything to upset Mom n Dad, and they never approved of our relationship. They had their reasons, and I’m inclined to think that they were right. Practical concerns are more pressing than immature romanticizing of life.

That however didn’t mean we’d stop loving each other. I still love him as deeply as ever. And he still loves me too; I can see it in his eyes. Sameer’s feelings for me still haven’t changed, and neither have mine. And I know that if our love has survived in our hearts for a decade, it will last us this lifetime… I know that in fact, our love has grown more beautiful than before, because our love doesn’t expect anything in return, it exists simply because we do…

But today, I realized that Sameer has indeed moved on in life! I don’t know whom to thank for this – does the credit go to Pari, for showing him that there’s more to life and that he should go on? Or should I simply thank God, for taking such good care of him, and leading him towards happiness again?

Sameer has come to terms with reality, but I perhaps still haven’t. I know nothing’s possible between the two of us, and I appreciate the fact that Sameer now has Pari to answer to… But the way he’s realized that we have to go our own different ways, in separate directions, makes me wonder...

Today, he was simply trying to tell me that it was time for me to move on too. That I too, should give myself another chance to live, may be with Prithvi… But I can’t deny that it sounded strange to my ears… I felt as if I’d lost something… When Sameer dropped me back home, I felt a strange sense of emptiness…

Sameer says Prithvi is indeed a good choice, and my parents would be happy too if it takes shape… He says I should take conscious steps towards making this work out… I understand what he says, but I can’t take it in… I can’t deny that perhaps it’s because I have not managed to move on yet that I’ve not had another relationship after Sameer. But how do I explain this to you? I just can’t find it in myself to get into something like this yet again, although there is complete acceptance of the situation…

I don’t know what name I can give to this feeling of mine… When Sameer today freed me from all romantic involvement with him, it hurt... I know it shouldn’t have, but it did… and that’s perhaps why people say, Love is Blind! And the heart does not follow logic…

Friday, March 23, 2007

Reality Bites…

23rd March, 2007

I met my best friend after so many years today - and I was so excited about it! Differences in our careers, cities, etc. had been keeping us apart for quite some time… For two people who used to talk almost every day for hours together, not being in touch for over four years is a big deal. And well, today I intended to tell him a lot of things! He told me he’d something special to share with me too, but as much as I kept pestering him, he’d not divulged a word about this ‘secret’! I was curious, and I was scared… I had my fingers crossed…

On my way to the appointed place, my thoughts flew back to my school days. The first time I met him, he was just another face in the crowd. In fact, I’d not even noticed him. My friends dared me to go up and speak to him! He was such a quiet and reserved guy that I was a bit hesitant – but then, it was my honor at stake! So, I went up to him and offered my hand in friendship – and he coolly accepted it! After that, we kept meeting through common friends, outside our school, near our homes, etc. Slowly, we became good friends…

We always had fun at each other’s expense, pulled each other’s legs and irritated each other! We never seemed to agree upon anything – be it some grave political issue or the flavor of ice-cream! We always ended up fighting, to the extent that normal conversations were deemed to be an aberration! The years flew by, but nothing changed. Our friends knew we were very close and teased us incessantly – all of them seemed to think that the two of us were dating each other, and we were just not admitting to it! We’d blush and brush these suggestions away, but still keep fighting! Things reached such an extent that my day would be incomplete without fighting with him. If I didn’t talk to him for even a day my heart would not be in whatever I did. I attributed it to the fact that I did not have my daily quota of fights, and staunchly rebutted the allegations of my friends that I’d grown fond of him.

Unknown to me, he crept into my heart and made a permanent den for himself there. I never realized what I felt for him… So when finally the time came for me to say goodbye to him, for I was to leave our native city to go for higher education, I did not even bother to take his contact details. I thought, what the heck, I can live without him…

When I settled down in the new city where I had joined my new college, I made a lot of new friends. But somehow, I sorely missed him in my life. His place could not be taken by anyone… I realized for the first time how much he meant to me. I wished I had his contact details… I wanted to say so much to him, I wanted to tell him that I’d fallen in love with him, but I didn’t know how to convey my feelings. Every night, I cried myself to sleep, because I missed fighting with him, I missed pulling his leg, I missed irritating him – I missed doing all those things which apparently were done only to irritate each other, but the real reason behind doing them was that it was the only way I knew to convey my feelings to him. He was my best friend, but I also realized that I had unknowingly, unconsciously fallen in love with him.

I wished he was there, in front of me so that I could tell him how I felt, but he was not. There wasn’t even a day, an hour when I didn’t think of him. My new friends realized that there was something eating me from inside, and kept pestering me. Once they found out about him, some suggested finding out his whereabouts, but I didn’t want to. I was happy to be in love, but I didn’t want to think that there were two possibilities – he might love me, but he might not, too. I was happy that I was in love… it was a beautiful feeling. There were times when I terribly missed the sharing, the companionship, the sweet nothings that people in love felt and enjoyed. But I thought I could do without them. He was always there in my thoughts, and what better companionship could I ask for?

Slowly, painfully, time passed, and finally I came back home. Through the years I had heard bits and pieces of news about him. But I wanted to see him again, to hear all about him in his own words… I wanted to hear that he’d missed me as much as I’d missed him… I wanted to hear that he loves me as much as I love him… So, I called at his home, and found out his whereabouts. I was delighted to find him at home, and he sounded delighted to hear from me too – and that was enough for me! This meeting was his suggestion, and I readily agreed to it…

When I finally reached the restaurant where we’d fixed our meeting up, I found him already waiting for me. The very sight of him sent my heart into a spin! God, I loved him so much… I had so much to tell him! His face lit up as he saw me, and very soon we got talking and fighting like old times!

And then, suddenly, he turned serious. He said there was something that he wanted to tell me… something in his face bade ill, but I tried my best to ignore the creeping chill in my heart. But fate seems to have different plans for me – for he told me that he’s in love…

My heart broke. The rational side of me knew that since I had never told him how I felt, I should accept what happened. But my heart cried. While he described exactly how he felt for her, and how much he loved her, I felt as if someone had sliced my heart up… As much as I tried, I couldn’t keep a straight face, and I think he noticed it too – for he faltered, and after some time, changed the topic.

When I got back home, after spending the whole day putting up a smiling face for people around me, who evidently failed to notice that my heart was heavy with unrequited love and unsaid words, I fell into my bed with tears streaming down my face.

I know I’ve to face reality. I’ve to face life. He’s my first love and will always be, but I realized that life has other things in store for me. In any case, he’s happy with the girl he loves, and he deserves to be loved by her. I cannot cause misery to the one I love by imposing myself upon him, or even by telling him how much I love him, or how I feel about him… My love may be one-sided, but it is true love – and true love values the happiness of the loved one more.

I know that mine is not a lost love; it will always be there in my heart. If it has survived for a decade, it will last forever, as long as I live. It’s just that I have to move ahead in life, in a different direction, away from him. Life has much more to offer. I do want to move on, be happy and maybe meet someone, someday, whom I would love and who’d love me too. It’s tough, it’s difficult, but I’m ready. I’m ready to face life, to face reality.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Birthday Party

Thursday, 14th Sept. '06

Hey! It’s here at last! My 24th birthday!!! Had a great, great day, with a very strange turmoil thrown into the plot… wanna tell you everything… umm, where do I start?

Let’s see… the first wish! Yeah, that’d be a nice place to start!

As usual, it was Prithvi’s! You know what he did? He called up sometime around 11-55 pm, and kept talking as if he didn’t remember a thing – and at 12-00 am, when I was getting really impatient with him, he surprised me by singing out in a loud voice: “Happy Birthday to You!” That was so, so cute of him!! Actually, he was only talking to me so that he’d be the first one to wish me! So, well, he once again outsmarted Dad and Mom… Heaven knows where he gets these new ideas every year to make sure that his wishes stand out!

Remember what he did last year?? Since he could not get through to me at night, he did not wish me all day, and wished me at 12-00 am on 15th, so that he’d be the last one to do so! He’s such a cute friend!!

Well, the second wish was that of Dad and Mom, of course! They gifted me a very, very cute gold and diamond pendant – they really know my choice!!

After that, the usual! There was a spate of calls – Anu, Mallika, Ritika, Shubhra, Pranati… and quite a few others… no surprise calls this year! Got a lot of birthday wishes through SMS too, but no surprises there as well!

Thereafter, things got a bit drab – of course, can’t exactly expect a birthday party at office, can I? Anyway, some of my colleagues and office staff did remember my special day, and made me cut a cake in the lunch-time! That was sweet…

In the evening, of course, was the much awaited dinner party! We went to my favourite place – Prateeksha! God, the poolside is so amazingly romantic! I love the ambiance… all my friends, surprisingly enough, turned up, including Sameer! He’s the busy bee of the lot, as you know, but today he’d also kept himself free! And for a change, he brought his girlfriend Pari along too! Good for him that he’s stopped denying his affair at last!

The cake was simply yummy, and so was the dinner – as usual! Got quite a few sweet and thoughtful gifts too, from my extremely impish but cute friends! Can you believe it, Anu actually gifted me a heart-shaped pendant, with place to put two pics in it – according to her, one of the pics will be of my “hubby” and the other of me! Anyway, we really enjoyed a lot!

But hey… now comes the real, juicy part! On the way back, the talk turned to how well all of us have established ourselves in our respective fields, touch-wood. Sameer and Pari in the legal profession; Anu in Interior Designing; Prithvi, Pranati and Ritika in engineering; Shubhra on her way to become an English professor very soon; Mallika in medicine… and well, I was established too, in my own field! But it was when we finally got home that Mom n Dad dropped the bombshell… they told me something that took me completely by surprise! Mom started the topic, by mentioning, yet again, how much she likes Prithvi! And then, out of the blue, she asked me, “beta, have you thought of a future with him?”

I was completely flabbergasted! Prithvi, my childhood friend? As a life-partner? I mean, yes, he’s a very good choice – he has everything I can ask for. He’s well-settled, has a great job, is cute and quite handsome, and makes sure that he takes good care of me… apart from the fact that he’s academically excellent, has a great voice, is an even better writer, can easily become the life and soul of any party… well, sorry, my Mom can go on and on and on with the list, but I have to admit that she’s right!

But all the same, Prithvi, my life-partner??? I really can’t imagine a married life with him… Mom n Dad told me to relax, because of course, Prithvi and I both had no plans to get married any time soon… so they told me to take my time and give a good thought to it, because he’s a good choice… I just could not think of giving them any answer…

I came to my room in a turmoil… Prithvi? If you ask me, I have no excuse to give for rejecting him – seeing as I’m still single, and so is he… in fact, come to think of it, why not? He’s the ideal husband, and we are great friends… Dad always says that the secret to a successful marriage lies in the compatibility quotient of the partners, and Prithvi and I gel very well…

On the other hand, I don’t, and indeed have never, thought of Prithvi in this way. I don’t ‘love’ him, and I’m pretty sure that he’s got no such feelings for me as well. Wouldn’t it be stupid to get married to a guy whom I know very well, but I don’t love?

But then, that’s what arranged marriages are all about – and they do succeed, don’t they? There are couples who get married as complete strangers, but fall in love after marriage… maybe even our relationship can work like that…

I don’t know… I’m confused, scared, anxious, and at the same time, thrilled! I’ve never experienced such an array of mixed emotions…!

At this moment, an amazing movie plot is invading my mind – Dil Chahta Hai! Remember the two diametrically opposite stories in that movie? That of Shalini’s, who did not get married to her childhood friend Rohit, because she fell in love with someone else, Akash… and that of Pooja’s, who, inspite of having a boyfriend, fell in love with Sameer, the guy whom her parents chose for her! I wonder which story will my life take after?!

Well, there’s nothing much to do except to wait and see… Will keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One More Bitter-Sweet Experience!

20th March, 2007

When I came to Pune five years back, quite a few things surprised me, and one of them was the near-total absence of crime in the city. Anyone who’s stayed in this city for even a month would’ve noticed this. Pune was considered to be one of the safest places for women, and this trait of the city was lauded by all and sundry! I too have fond remembrances of hanging out till late, late nights with my friends… there have been times when I’ve been out till midnight and more all by myself, without facing a single instance of teasing, molestation or any sort of undesirable advances at all.

Slowly, though, the heavenly ambiance in the city started to deteriorate. The first shock came to me two years back, on 1st January 2005, when a hoodlum snatched a cell-phone of a young girl on the road, right in front of my eyes. A friend and I gave chase with the girl, and in a last effort to save himself, the hoodlum tried to cross a very busy road – he was hit by a truck. It was a shocking incident, but I thought it to be a one-off thing.

The next menacing incident happened a few months after the abovementioned episode, when I saw two young and very frightened females (they were juniors of mine from college) being followed by a drunk man on a bike, offering them to spend the night with him. I was outraged and once again stood up on behalf of the two girls. Being a tad older to them, I fortunately was able to keep my head, and did the most sensible thing that I could at that time – I threatened him that I’d call the Police if he didn’t clear off right at that moment. By God’s grace, it worked.

After that, I noticed an alarming rise in the occurrence of such things. I realized that it was not only me, but many others like me who were getting into pretty sticky situations like this. Still, I kept telling myself, Pune’s a much safer than many of the other places in the country. But a chain of events in the recent past, some related to me and some to other guys and girls I know here, have planted serious doubts in my mind about the safety situation in the city – and that doubt was transformed into belief by a very unpleasant event that I was subjected to in the early hours of 16th March, 2007.

A friend of mine, Prateek, and I usually go out for post-dinner walks whenever he’s in town. On 15th night too, we went out for a walk. We were a bit late, but we thought “what the heck, 11:30 pm in Pune is evening!” Never, in our wildest dreams, did we expect what was to come our way…

At around 12:30 am, we returned home. Just as we reached the parking lot, Prateek realized that there were two guys following us. Before he could tell me anything, or gather his wits together, the guys had caught up with us… one was carrying a huge but blunt iron sword, and the other promptly sprinkled red chilli powder in our eyes. They then demanded that without raising an alarm, we hand over our cell phones and valuables to them. I gave my cell-phone, and Prateek also surrendered his cell phone and wallet. Then, pretty coolly, Prateek asked for his sim card, and I too seconded his request. To my utter surprise, they actually gave Prateek his cell phone back to take his sim card out.

However, while he was trying to take the sim cards out for both of us, the first guy, who was carrying the sword, turned his attention towards me and started misbehaving with me. I kept shut for a while, scared that if I raise an alarm they might harm Prateek. But the guy went further and further – he nearly tore my t-shirt off, and demanded that I take my jeans off. Well, perhaps the only thing that a woman would prize above even her life is her modesty/chastity – and that is exactly what prompted me to resist the hoodlums at this stage. I spoke up, and refused to comply with his demand, come what may… although I was scared about Prateek, I realized that the guy who was holding him back was actually not a very potential threat. It was the guy who was misbehaving with me who was more menacing.

My belief was confirmed when at this point, Prateek managed to throw the other guy off himself, and came to try and protect me. The first guy caught him by the collar, and saw the gold chain that Prateek was wearing. He immediately demanded that he take it off, but by that time both of us had recovered somewhat from the shock, and perhaps emboldened by the fact that we were now right in front of the staircase leading to my flat – so Prateek refused, and dared the guys to come any further…

At this stage perhaps even the hoodlums realized that they were now treading in dangerous waters, so they just went away, and we came back to our respective flats. After giving each other a bit of time to recover, we met up to decide the further course of action. An FIR seemed the most sensible thing to do, but right at that time, we were not sure if even the police would take any action, so we decided to postpone it till the morning…

In the morning, we went to the nearest Police Station, and lodged a complaint with all the details. Although we were quite skeptical about recovering any of the stolen items, but we thought it best to let the records stay.

Much to our surprise, however, the very next day the Police called us up to inform us that they’d caught a miscreant, and perhaps we should come down to identify him. We did, and realized that he was indeed the one carrying the sword! We lost no time in informing the Police about our unswerving identification, and the Police reassured us that we’d get our stuff back in some time. We were still skeptical, but humored the Police staff, and came back home. Inwardly, though, we did marvel at the fact that it’d taken them just a day to catch up with the hoodlum!

On the 18th, the Police called us again, asking us to come down to take a look at the recovered items, and whether our things were among them. Unfortunately, we both could not make it that day. But yesterday, on 19th March, Prateek and I went to the Police Station, and sure enough, there were our cell phones, Prateek’s wallet, his Debit Card, Driving Licence, and most other documents! Not all the things were recovered, but that just makes up 10% of our lost items, and we are not complaining at all!

Almost every one knows the lousy reputation that the Indian Police System has. I myself, being a law student, have a pretty good idea about how the system works, and I can’t deny that both Prateek and I constituted that category of people who have no trust whatsoever in the Policing of our country. When we’d registered the complaint, we’d no expectations whatsoever of the miscreants getting caught, our stuff getting recovered, and all our work getting done without having to pay a single penny as bribe to the concerned officials! Kudos to the Maharashtra Police officials!!!

Today, I take this opportunity to tell all you people that perhaps, after all, we are a teeny bit biased! There still are some people in the system who work, who are honest and who try their best to uphold the dignity of their uniform! I take this opportunity to thank all the concerned Police officials, who did their duty so efficiently, and in return, today, I make a promise to myself and to the Police System – that from now on, I will never, ever, begrudge the Police System, and I’ll give them all possible help whenever they require it, whether in this case, or in any other case! Not so surprisingly, even Prateek echoes my sentiments, and has vowed to do any work for the Police that they may require of him!!! Once again, a big, big Thank You to the Maharashtra Police on behalf of both of us!

The incident has scarred us, and has left a bitter taste in our mouths. Prateek and I both do wonder at times, what we did to deserve this, where did we go wrong… Pune being such a safe city and being known for its night life, it is actually no big deal to be wandering outside our homes at midnight, and we’ve been used to this lifestyle for the past couple of years. The law and order situation has, evidently, deteriorated. But as long as such Police Officers are still in the system, we can perhaps still breathe a sigh of relief.

Reminds me of a popular saying… “All’s well that ends well”!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Story of Pearl…

18th March, 2007

Someone once said, "Life is not a Bed of Roses", and so right it is!!!

No, I’m not going to tell you anything about how difficult life has become in the modern world... I don't like sermons - whether I am the one giving it, or I'm at the receiving end - I find them pure wastage of time. (I’m not talking about Fathers and Churches and Masses here - I am just talking about normal daily-life sermons...)

We, however, find ourselves listening to sermons everywhere - from our teachers, parents, guardians, over-protective friends, life-partners (past, present and future!!) and in extreme cases, from people we don't even know (ever got a sermon from a Good Samaritan, because you weren't crossing the road properly? Well, I did... He did not give a damn about why possibly I was so lost as to be crossing the road like a mad-woman - all he cared about is the sermon... And no, he DID NOT have a care about my safety - it wouldn’t make any difference to him if I died or hurt myself, take it from me)

Anyway, getting back to the point - sermons - I don't like them, and I'm not about to write one out... No, I just wanted to write to help ease my pain a bit...

I have always prided myself upon my ability to recognise people fast. Instinct, some would call it. I call it God’s gift to me. It helps me tell who's trustworthy, and who's not... and it’s generally right. But this one time, I chose to ignore it, and I have been woefully, woefully wrong in doing that... Never in my life have I found myself so deceived, and so broken...

For quite some time now, I've been used to staying all alone, fending for myself. I have learnt much in these years, in this short but hard life that I’ve led. One of them is to trust my first instincts... and the other is that friendship, more often than not, is done only with a motive in mind. If I have something to offer, the person in front of me will gladly be my 'friend'. If not, I can get lost. That’s the way it works. But with Pearl, I somehow forgot both my lessons – and God helped me revise them!

Don’t quite know how, but I foolishly thought I'd found a "friend" in Pearl who's different from the lot. A friend who was not by my side only because I could offer something, but because I meant something. How terribly silly I was... How could I even think that all those times we've been together through thick and thin was because of selfless friendship? Why did it take me so much time to discover that I did not really mean a thing to that person? I don’t quite know…

When I first met Pearl, my instinct told me that here was a person who wants fame/recognition at any cost. Here was a person who would do anything to be a name to be reckoned with. Here was someone, who is best avoided... So much for my wisdom! I recklessly disregarded my instinct and befriended Pearl. Things went on smoothly enough... and I told myself, well, after all, I was wrong about Pearl! Sitting up there, God must have had a hearty laugh at my cost that day! Or at least, there must’ve been a smug smile on His face! After all, He did do His bit in warning my instincts! The fact that I chose to ignore His warnings is my fault really, not His!

But then, God is kinder than we blame Him to be! He usually lets you wade out into murky waters, but saves you when you are close to drowning. And the same happened to me...

Completely by chance, I discovered the truth about Pearl. Oh, the pain of it all… the humiliation and the sorrow… I felt as if my heart would explode with grief… This was the person I trusted explicitly? This was the person I had spoken my mind to? There were no words which could console my lamenting heart…

People today come and tell me about things that Pearl has told them about me – things which only Pearl would know, or would be able to cook up. Pearl has lied to me when I showed implicit trust. Pearl has mercilessly lied about my reputation, character and life to the same people, about whom Pearl’s grudges knew no bounds. My heart is broken, because the one person I had opened myself up to, was Pearl.

But no matter - I've got to know the truth at last. I was faced with the truth late, after several years of our “friendship”, but it’s not too late. I still have the option of saving myself from further defamation, embarassment and heartache. I have been vilified far and wide, but the people who’ve heard all that know the truth about the speaker, and in the end, it’s Pearl's reputation at stake, not mine.

And there, God proves his existence to me once again... I know the lesson was a harsh one, but I also know why God made this happen to me. It was because he wanted to remind me once again that my first instinct should be trusted, and He made sure I’d not forget the lesson again... My instinct is His gift to me, and has never let me down so far, and now I know that it never will!

My pain... yeah, it's reduced. It's not possible for me to forget the entire thing, but I'll forgive. I'll take time, but I will get up, put the shattered pieces of my heart together, and once again get on with life... And now that I've said it, I find that it’s really not as difficult as I made it out to be! Life's not easy, but hey, it's not that difficult either!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Touching Folk Lore...

17th March, 2007

A few days back, I came across a very touching folk tale - a beautiful narration of true love... and what better forum to share it than this?! So, here you go... I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

One day, a Japanese man, in order to renovate his house, tore open the wall. Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls. When he was tearing down the walls, he found that there was a lizard stuck in the dark, dusty space between the walls - a nail had been hammered right into one of its feet.

When the man saw this, he felt a curious mixture of pity and curiosity - the nail had been hammered at least 10 years ago, when house was first built. How on earth did the lizard survive in such position for 10 years??!! In a dark wall partition, for 10 years, without moving?! It was indeed a remarkable feat, next to impossible and quite mind boggling! How did the lizard manage to feed itself, without moving a single step?

So taken up with all these questions was he, that he stopped working and observed the lizard - what it has been doing and what has it been eating? Suddenly, he didn't know from where, there came another lizard, with food in its mouth...!

The man was both stunned and touched deeply. For the lizard that was stuck by the nail, another lizard has been bringing food for the past 10 years...?!

Indeed, he thought, love can do wonders!!! The little creature had been feeding its partner for some 10 long years, without ever giving up hope, without getting tired... Such a love, such a beautiful love! And so thinking, he gently removed the nail, thus freeing not just one, but both the lizards!

As he did so, he felt a tremendous sense of achievement - as if he'd played a major part in making the love-story successful! But he could not help thinking, what a brainless creature like the lizard had done for it's partner, would a far more intelligent creature like himself ever be able to replicate it for anyone?!

The story touched me, although the truthfulness of it might be doubted by many of us intelligent creatures!

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Travel Chronicles - A Beautiful Temple...!

16th March, 2007

I dunno how many times I've mentioned this, but Pune is really a beautiful city! It has quite a few places which appeal to my aesthetic side, and the temple at
Sarasbaug is a very prominent one among them.

Located near Swargate, one of the less populated areas of the city, Sarasbaug is a place which fills the mind with peace and harmony. It is, primarily, a very famous temple (picture below) where Lord Ganesha is worshipped. The temple is no doubt beautiful, and it is said that whatever you pray for in this temple, comes true - but what captures the heart, soothes the eyes and caresses the soul is the complex...

Sarasbaug is more in the nature of a park - greenery all over, with a lake full of water lilies and lotuses among the tall trees... It makes a treat for the serenity-starved soul! It's a place where I always find my worries vanish into nonenities, and life suddenly seems so beautiful! I mostly like to visit the place in the evenings (the pic below is one taken in the morning), and if I'm worried or upset or restless about something, then it simply is THE place to be in for me... trust me, when the dewy grass tickles your feet and invites you to play with them... when the green, green trees wave their branches and beckon you to speak to them... when sweet blossoms of all possible colours look you in the eye and tell you life is beautiful... and when the cool breeze ruffles your hair and whispers melodious endearments to you - you are bound to forget all the bothersome details of life. You will tell yourself to wake up to the beauty of life and live it up fully, as much as you can!

Sarasbaug makes me feel totally at peace with myself... And if ever any of you reading this visit the place, I believe you will not be disappointed either!! So then, happy tripping...!

Leaving One Home for Another…

16th March, 2007

Five years… When you idly think about it, it seems to be quite a long time; but when you actively live it, it is actually very, very short… Thus says my personal experience…

Nearly five years ago, when I was a young and vulnerable girl of 18, I’d stepped into this strange, unknown city of Pune for the first time. I didn’t know anyone here, neither did I know anything about the city, or about how I was going to spend the next five years here – utterly alone, defenseless… It was a scary feeling, because I’d always been in a protected environment before this. Of course, I was always independent and self-sufficient. I was always encouraged to live my own life and solve my own problems – but this was different. Here, I would not even have my parents by my side if I needed them…

However, it was my own decision to come here, so I put up a brave front – and decided not to regret my actions! The one thing that kept me going in those days was the fact that I’d at least proved myself to my family, by getting into this prestigious institution all by myself… I’d earned their respect, and I did not want to lose it. So, when my parents finally bade me goodbye and left for home, leaving me all alone here, I did not cry, I did not allow myself to lose heart… I told myself, “it’s only a matter of a few months, and then I’ll be able to go home again, in the holidays!”

I need not have worried, though… the beauty of the city captured me the very first day, with all its hills and greenery and natural assets, and slowly but surely, Pune started becoming my second home… I made new friends – some good ones, some not so good ones – but they were enough to keep me going. In fact, for the first time in my life I learnt to appreciate solitude, and the joys of being in my own company!

Slowly, time brought me closer to the city… I loved its natural beauty, I loved its environment, and I loved my newfound maturity…

Not all my experiences here were good though… I, for example, seemed to have a weird knack of attracting the strangest and most irksome lot of people, both as roommates and as acquaintances! But I managed to pull through… through those bitter-sweet encounters, I learnt a lot, and at the same time got to figure out the realities of life!

Not that I did not make any good friends… I did, but they are handful in number. Because life here in Pune has made me realize that “friendship” is a rare thing to happen! Life here in Pune has made me appreciate the only true friends I have – Moumita, Ranjinee, Parama, Shiropa, Saurya… And thanks to the tough life I led here in Pune, today I know that no matter what, only those friendships survive the test of life whose foundation lies in unconditional love and trust…

Pune has taught me to fight for my own space… to be strong mentally, physically and emotionally… to expect nothing from the world… to suspect an ulterior motive behind every friendly gesture…! You might think I’m being too negative, but it’s not so! Had I not come to this city, and had I not stayed here in the midst of all these odds, I would actually have never learnt these very important lessons of life. I take all of it in a positive light – life in Pune has made me worldly wise. Today, the mature head that rests on my firm shoulders is a result of this very journey, which lasted five years and was so full of hardships!

And yet, in spite of all these hardships, it still aches to leave the city. Standing at the fag end of my student-life in this ever-young city, I find myself yearning to stay on for a few more days… I find myself longing to relive the experiences of these five years just one more time… Perhaps to rectify certain mistakes of mine in some situations, perhaps to savor certain times and incidents all over, perhaps to be a kid once again…

You might again be wondering, “If she has such bitter experiences, then what on earth wants to make her stay on?” The answer is, no, I’ve not only had bitter experiences here… in fact, certain sweet memories are hidden even in the apparently bitter ones! It is here that I’ve come across people I’d never want to forget, and it is here that I’ve spent times that I’d never be able to replicate!

It is difficult for me to express what exactly I feel for this place… For five years now, this city has been my existence. It has been a second home to me. It gives me such immense joy just to be in the city… It has given me so much wisdom, love, courage and strength that now I’m prepared to face life like never before. It means so much to me…

Now that the time to leave Pune is steadily drawing near, mixed emotions overcome me… Some moments make me feel helpless, some make me sad, yet others make me expectant – until I slowly lose myself in the entire gamut of emotions…

Leaving Pune makes me feel as if I’ve shredded out a piece of my heart… a tiny little piece of my heart, that will always stay here – in this beautiful, bitter-sweet city of Pune!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just To Give You A Laugh!

13th March, 2007

In the late hours of yesterday, I finally checked my mails... in addition to quite a few spams and unwanted forwards, there was this one forward from a friend - it's no doubt a forward, but this particular friend of mine knows my general aversion towards forwarded chain-mails, so he makes sure that he sends only good ones across! Anyway, I found it quite funny, so I thought of sharing it here... and here I am, turning my thoughts into action!!

Man: Is there any way for long life?
Dr: Get married.
Man: Will it help?
Dr: No, but the thought of long life will never come.
Why do couples hold hands during their wedding?
It's a formality - just like two boxers shaking hands before the fight begins!
Wife: Darling, today is our anniversary, what should we do?
Husband: Let us stand in silence for 2 minutes.
It's funny when people discuss Love Marriage versus Arranged Marriage।
It's like asking someone, if suicide is better or being murdered!!!
Aadmi shaadi kyon karta hai? (Why does a man marry?)
Taakee wo marne ke baad agar Swarg jaaye to achchha feel kare, aur agar Nark jaaye to homely feel kare...!! (So that if he goes to Heaven after death, he feels good; and if he lands up in Hell, he feels at home...!!)
Why do Bride & Groom exchange Varmaala (Wedding Garlands) during the wedding?
To tell each other affectionately... Sweetheart U R Dead!
There is only one perfect child in the world and every mother has it...
There is only one perfect wife in the world and every neighbor has it!!!

I do have a thing against marriage, but will elaborate upon that aspect later, in some other post! For now, though, I just want you to enjoy a good laugh... without any prejudice to the institution of "Marriage"!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Travel Chronicles – A Trip to Remember!

11th March, 2007

For quite some time now, I’ve been longing to complete this travel account, and share it here. Once again, it’s about the beauty of the city of Pune, and this one positively tops my list of favourites… Sinhgad & Khadakwasla!!

Sinhgad, situated around 25 kilometres away from the main city of Pune, is a fort. Literally, Sinhgad means “Lion Fort”… It was so named for various historical reasons, none of which I’m about to relate here (I hate history lessons! However, if any of you are interested in the historical significance of the fort, the following websites will help you –
Around Pune and surprisingly enough, Wikipedia!)

On the way to Sinhgad, you have to cross the beautiful lake of Khadakwasla. It is actually a “moderate sized dam”, according to
Wikipedia, built on the river Mutha and takes care of a major chunk of the water supplies to the city of Pune. There, that’s about the history and geography, now getting to the point!

Quite easily accessible from the city, Sinhgad can be reached by various modes of private and public transportation from Swargate. I have had the opportunity of visited the Fort by all sorts of transportations – right from a bike to an Esteem to a Qualis – but the most memorable of all my trips to Sinhgad was the one I undertook with two of my friends, in public transport! This is the trip that I choose to share with you today!

We left pretty early in the morning – 6:30 am, to be precise – riotously happy and in a great picnic mood! Public buses are pretty infrequent in this city, but fortunately enough, we didn’t have to wait long for one that day! The bus was to carry us to Swargate. The trip to Swargate was quite uneventful, so I’ll spare you the details! Anyway, 20-25 minutes later, we found ourselves at the bus stand there, waiting for the bus that was to take us to Khadakwasla.

About 45 minutes later, we were still waiting! The bus was no where to be seen, and our patience was running out! We started exploring other options, and very soon found one – six-seaters! Needless to say, we caught hold of one, haggled and bargained over the bhada, and finally, after three more people had been roped into the vehicle, we moved from Swargate!

It was our first six-seater ride ever, and boy, was it a bumpy one!!! About 45 minutes of bone-breaking ride later, we gingerly got out of the vehicle, and looked out over the vast stretch of a water body that was the Khadakwasla lake!

Like magic, all our pain and frustration vanished, as we looked and looked at the lake!! It wasn’t the beauty of the lake that struck us, it was the serenity… I’ve been to the place a number of times, but the picturesque scenic beauty of the lake captures my heart anew every time I look at it, and the charm of the cool, soft, rustling breeze never fails to amaze me… I have seen Khadakwasla at golden dawns, in cool early hours of the mornings, in hot sultry afternoons, at rainbow sunsets and in the quietness of the nights – and each time, I have gazed at it as if I’m seeing it for the first time… for indeed, Khadakwasla wore a different beauty every time!

All too soon, however, it was time to make a move towards our main destination – Sinhgad! So, reluctantly we moved on towards the nearest jeep, and it promptly made its way through the curving, winding, rocky roads of the Western Ghats, carrying us towards the fort.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have described the terrible journey (we were squashed and nearly suffocated in the jeep, as our driver had, very kindly, decided to carry another family of four with us – there weren’t any more jeeps around, and this family desperately wanted to picnic!) but this is different – because the road to Sinhgad is almost as beautiful as the fort itself!

The roads are narrow, rocky and dusty – typical hilly roads that endlessly wind up and down through numerous hills… at times, you can see the deep slopes of the hills, and you cannot even make out what lies at the bottom… at times, you can see peaks glittering in the sunlight all around you… at times, you feel as if you are making your way into heaven (quite literally, as the roads are scary!!)… at times, small streams and waterfalls attract your attention – as if beckoning you to come closer… And all the time, Sinhgad Fort grows larger and larger in sight ahead of you! The gorgeous beauty of the roads we traveled made the suffering worth it. In fact, we hardly noticed how those 45 uncomfortable minutes passed by, so engrossed we were in appreciating the beauty of Mother Nature!

When we finally got out of the jeep, moving our limbs seemed to be a momentous task, but we managed it – after all, we had the prospect of exploring the Fort to egg us on! And then we stepped into the Fort… the famous Sinhgad Fort, with its beautiful caves, with its grandeurous ruins, with its stunning vastness…

We trekked and trekked and trekked… from one part of the fort, we could see the city before us… from another part, we could see Khadakwasla… from yet another part, it was only the Ghats that greeted us…

Just as with Khadakwasla, the Fort of Sinhgad also appears new to me every time I see it… I’m not talking about history here – nor am I talking about the various historical spots in the fort… I’m talking about the natural beauty of the place… in places it is rough, dry and dusty; in places, it is lush green… at times it is huge and forbidding; yet at times, so friendly and inviting!

The three of us seemed to have regained our childhood! We hopped, skipped and jumped… we explored, we traveled around, we befriended, we got lost and found each other again! We laughed and we talked and we chased each other… we saw, we went and we conquered! And we carried back warm and beautiful memories of the trip!

Late in the afternoon, when we finally made our slow, reluctant way back home, we kept turning back to look at the Fort, now growing smaller and smaller behind us, longing with all our hearts to go back! But soon, fatigue overtook us. By the time we reached Khadakwasla, practical things like food and drinks were on our minds! As we settled down in a small eatery overlooking the lake, I felt a sudden tranquility in my heart – the calm and quiet stillness of the waters, the soft breeze and the light melody of the small waves… all of them seemed to tell me something – that Mother Nature is beautiful, and so are all her creations… and so am I, ’coz I too am a lovely daughter of the same Mother Nature! Khadakwasla has always spoken to me… it almost always says the same thing – but in different ways!!

When we finally got back home at night, tired and exhausted, I realized some time during the day, some where during the trip, I’d twisted my ankle – but such was the influence of the profound beauty of Sinhgad and Khadakwasla that even my pain seemed beautiful, ’cuz it too is a creation of Mother Nature!!! After all, I wouldn’t know the beauty of a healthy limb if I didn’t experience this pain, would I?!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Price of Love…

10th March, 2007

Once upon a time there lived a very sweet, somewhat naïve, emotional little girl… She looked at the big bad world with her beautiful dark eyes and thought in her lovely little mind, “Oh, surely this beautiful place cannot be as bad as it is made to sound… Man is God’s most wonderful creation, and I’m sure God would not have created anything evil!” And so, she stubbornly decided to disregard all that she’d been told and decided to trust all men and women she came across. Above all, she trusted God. Her parents, who loved and cared for her, warned her of the dangers of being so naïve, but to no avail. Even the gruesome examples of people who had dared to tread the path of love before her failed to deter her. She wanted to win against all odds.

Alas… She did not learn the easy way…

But God seemed to have His own ways to teach the little girl that life in this world is not half as beautiful, half as picture perfect as He Himself had envisaged it… It is a rough world, where soft souls like her have no place, where the word ‘trust’ has no value. And so, He taught her the lessons of life the hard way – she fell prey to her own soft nature, and in return numerous heart breaks awaited her… while she loved all those whom she thought to be her own, those very people (quite a few among them were family members) forgot all relations and ties, and repaid her by exploiting her, using her for their own selfish desires and needs…

And still, she did not learn…

Slowly, she grew up from a sweet little girl to a wonderful innocent lass. However, in spite of all the hard times she’d had, she refused to mend her ways. She trusted people without a thought, she loved them without a care… In fact, she trusted the world when she should have trusted herself, she listened to her naïve heart when she should have listened to the more practical mind… She held her hand out to help all and sundry, sometimes to her own detriment, and those same people who got themselves out of very sticky spots indeed with her help, very thoughtfully, labeled her a ‘thief’, a ‘bitch’, an ‘opportunist’…

And still, she did not learn…

And then, one day she found that she’d grown up to be a pretty young woman. In no time, she fell in love with a young man whom she thought to be just perfect… She could not find any faults with him! It was difficult for her to find faults with anyone at all and this was, of course, the one she loved! Never, even for once, did she stop to think and reflect about the more practical aspects of life, and blindly plunged into a marriage – she thought, true love can overcome all hurdles. What she did not think was that in today’s world, the expression “true love” is nothing but a euphemism. Quite predictably, when her “picture-perfect” marital home showed unmistakable signs of cracking, her perfect husband and his family very kindly attributed it to her various inefficiencies – she’d been a terrible wife! So what if she’d given up all her ambitions to make the marriage work, so what if she never attended to her own desires and needs because they clashed with his, the blame is still hers…

And still, she did not learn…

She thought she’d live the rest of her life with the support of her own will power, the goodness of her heart… She still loved all those around her, extended her help to all those who needed it… But even that was not acceptable to the cruel world… In return of all the love she showered, society called her a “failed woman”, who’s desperate to gain “sympathy” to cover up for her own fallacies… They taunted and tortured her to no ends, till she was forced to withdraw from all company, and die alone, a recluse…!

This is the story of a wonderful, pretty and strong woman, who learnt at last, after repeated “failures” all through her life, that life isn’t “picture-perfect”. Life is not the beautiful thing that God meant it to be. Life is not easy to be lived if you choose to tread on the path of love…

We, the society, finally made her learn it, and we, the society, made sure that she learnt it the hard way…

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Some Random Ramblings…

07th March, 2007

When the day dawned upon me today, it seemed to be a perfectly ordinary, just another normal day – when I’d work out a bit, study a bit, shop a bit, finish a bit of my pending errands… And I began the day accordingly!

Its afternoon now, and nothing out of the ordinary has happened still – except for my decision not to go to the gym, to skip breakfast in favor of a sumptuous lunch, and to sit to write about the day…

There’s nothing out of the ordinary to write though. Actually, I myself don’t know why this sudden urge to write overwhelmed me! Was it the soft spring breeze that ruffled my unruly hair and whispered sweet melodies into my ears? Or was it the sudden realization that my days in this beautiful city were numbered? Or was it because of the sudden yearning that captured my heart, an aching desire to be in the arms of someone who loves me?

Honestly, I don’t know… All I know is that there is an aching sadness in my heart, and an unfathomable void in my life that I can’t explain…

There is nothing extraordinary about the day, I keep reminding myself. Why then does my heart rebel and say, ‘today is special’? Why do I feel so different from the other days? Why does my heart give little skips every now and then, and sing melodies quite unknown to me?

The strings of my heart are weaving a mystifying tune… it sounds happy at first… all at once it turns into a melancholic mood… it tries to say something, but I can’t understand it’s language… Strange, isn’t it? When I stop to think, it is sad… Here is a woman, who does not understand the desires of her own heart!!

All of a sudden, a tear drop forms in my left eye, and rolls slowly down my cheek. I’m crying… but why? I don’t know… Maybe my eye understands the language of my heart, maybe she understands its pain… and she’s crying because it pains her to see my anguished heart…

I try to hazard a guess… What is it that is ailing my heart? I close my eyes and try to look into my heart… and a terrific scene reveals itself. My heart tells me that it has given up on life… it has nothing more to live for, it has lost the purpose for which it existed… it is pining to give something away to someone, but it can’t, for I have forbidden it to attempt any such thing…

In one remote corner of my heart, I’d once hidden a small but precious treasure, something that was meant to be given away to someone else, but I could never give it away – for I was afraid. Afraid, that if I give the lovely treasure away, I might not get anything in return! In my haste to preserve the treasure, I forgot that this isn’t like other worldly treasures… giving this treasure away is the only way of appreciating and enjoying it. Each and every one of us is blessed with this treasure, but we can’t appreciate the value of it ourselves. The treasure can only be valued if it is given away, can only be appreciated by someone other than you. If you hide it away in a secluded corner of your heart, like me, unclaimed and unappreciated, you’ll slowly lose that treasure, until it vanishes altogether from your life. When that happens, your heart will pine and pine for it, and finally will give up on life… for the heart can never survive without that treasure!

And when your heart gives up on the spirit of life, that’s when it whips up this exquisite, melancholic tune – to remind you one last time that God meant you to give the treasure away…

Can you guess what that treasure is? Yes, it is ‘love’… My heart wants me to love someone, and to be loved in return… It wants to share itself with someone… It is yearning to uncover itself to someone who’ll soothe its pains… It is lonely, and it tells me that it wants a partner… Perhaps that is why even my eyes don’t cry in unison…

I’m scared to do the bidding of my heart. I’m sacred of loving anyone. Scared of losing the one I will love. Scared that I’ll not be loved in return. Scared that my fragile heart will end up broken into pieces… I’m scared of loving anyone…

But I’m also scared of losing the treasure of my love forever. Scared of keeping my heart lonely any longer. Scared of living my life all by myself. Scared of not having anyone by my side when I need him the most… I’m scared of not loving anyone too…

Is there a solution to my dilemma? I’m still searching for the answer…