Monday, March 16, 2015

Memories of the old mango tree….

Grandparents are like the huge green tree standing tall in the courtyard of a house. Even if they are not a part of the household, they hold the roots of the house. After a busy exhausting day, the family spends its evenings around the tree. I was never close to my grandparents but I know they love me the most in the world. They have always been a part of the holiday package to my native village. Even though we have a huge house in village, I have always seen them sleeping outside because they believe after a certain age, they should abstain from family life. However, their love for me never deterred.  They would make swings for me by tying ropes to the old mango tree with ropes and sacks. They would ensure I always get the best mangoes and guavas. Although they never talked to me but their eyes would always follow me everywhere I go. Summer vacations were the best time of the year for me because I would visit my village and spend most of the days under the old mango tree in our courtyard, playing with my cousins.

Every year when my parents packed our luggage after the vacations to come back home, I cried my heart out. It would kill me going away from my family. Twenty years ahead when I am living hardly 100 km from my village, I am not even able to make a phone call. Such is the irony of life. I dare not say I am not having fun. In B schools, we study hard and party hardest. We have late night classes, mid night dinners, DJ nights, night out with friends, bunking lectures etc. but sometimes it hurts thinking of how my grandparents insist me every week to visit them. So when the college called for entries for a video making competition on values and ethics, our group decided unanimously that we should go back to our roots and capture the innocence that still resides in the hinterlands of our India. Without giving it a second thought, the gang called sick and within an hour, we set off for an amazing road trip.

Scorching sun, speeding trucks, dust storm, wild bushes- everything was a turn off until we passed a small hill and entered into lush green forests. All along the way, I made sure no one was sleeping and everyone gets bored listening to the stories of my village. I was thrilled that I was going to introduce my metal rock loving friends to a simple hard working peasant family. To be very frank, I had no idea how it was going to turn to be but it was kind of amusing. My grandparents were totally taken by surprise – not because I was there unannounced but because I was the only girl in the group of six. After an hour of awkward small talks and forced smiles, everyone seemed to be at ease. My uncle was busy narrating stories of our family’s history and my poor friends totally believed them. Meanwhile my aunties and grandmother called me aside to ask whether I am dating any one of them. It was a crazy experience bringing all my loved ones together but something crazier was still pending.

We climbed the wall in the backyard of the house to enter the village primary school. The staff thought we are some kind of education inspector. Considering that we did not communicate anyone about our arrival and we needed prior permission from the school authority for shooting a video, we did not try to clarify our true identity. Thus, for the next two hours, we were the government servants. Principal came forward to give explanation for thin attendance, poor mid day meal etc. and teachers started pouring in with their complaints and recommendations. It was the same school where my parents studied and I owed a lot to that place. What amused me the most was that despite of the massive success and omnipresence of television, Tata Sky and Internet, village residents especially children were really smitten by presence of city dwellers much in the same way we stare at foreign tourists in the city. Their innocence and love was unparalleled and within minutes we became friends. It was one of the most wonderful days of my life for I saw the earth and sky meeting at the horizon.

Finally, it was a day when I really made my grandparents happy. They were happy not only because I was there but also because they realized that the aliens the world knows as Generation X and Y are not aloof. They are just the newest, greenest and farthest leaves of the old mango tree standing tall in the courtyard. They stay far but are still connected to their roots. They draw their strength from the tree and that is the power of togetherness. 

PS: Talk to someone who was once close to you but is now out of touch  and celebrate togetherness with

But I still haven’t found what I am looking for

“Wahan kaun hai tera musafir….jaega kahan?”- with these words the blind beggar earns my attention for a while. I hand him a 5 rupee coin and dive into my pool of memories again. I am not new to train journeys. The only difference: ten years back, train journeys meant vacations, now they mean work. This time, it was separation. Yes, I am leaving my dream city-city where I studied, I learned, I earned, I loved and I lived. People congratulated me- Oh you got admission into a B-school! Lucky you are. Deep inside, I knew something was broken. Sometimes, it’s easier to say good bye to people than to bid farewell to a city. 

A one-sided love story and a failed to take-off career- perfect combination to ignite the tail of a rocket called escapism. I did not know what hurts more- your conscience that called you an escapist or the irony that you are leaving everything behind for better and yet you are not happy. One year back….it was a completely different feeling. It was the journey I took home after graduation. Excitement, ambition, hope, happiness, and loads of apprehension- defines the journey from being a student to being a part of the work force. The sense of freedom of earning for oneself, the liberty to spend on parties, trips, friends without being questioned by parents and entering into an adult life was both thrilling and scary at the same time. While I was busy preparing a list of items I wanted to buy for my family, I had to budget and plan my spending. For the first time I realized how difficult it is to part with your hard-earned money as compared to calling back home and ask for extra money.

It is funny how I am scared to be a student again. All those thoughts of moving to a new place, joining college, meeting other students, making new friends, pressure of being liked by peers, leaving a good impression on teachers, getting good grades and ending up with a fat package is scaring me off. It’s like a complex circle and I am set to zero again. But, on second thought, this uncertainty is kind of exciting too. You don’t know what’s going to happen- who you are going to meet and what new things you are getting into.

Perhaps, this adrenaline rush of willingness to jump from the zone of uncertainty to one’s comfort zone is what keeps us moving on. If everything would have been alright, I would have eventually got bored and moved on. So its just a matter of time but the truth is- we all have to keep moving and give closure to the events in our life so that we can initiate new ones. So, here I am- standing in front of the gate of my new college. It’s intimidating because everything is new and everyone is a stranger but it’s also inviting for I can see the same strangers talking, smiling, and sharing information. Soon, I would also be a part of this crowd and this would be the beginning of my new life.

Moving on, starting over with a new life means mixed feelings- excitement, apprehension, butterflies in stomach etc. but the essence of life is to look up.  

Look up with

Saturday, March 14, 2015

And at last I see the light……

I remember how my dad used to try to be extra cheerful on days when he felt low. He tried not to let us know that he is sad and would tell my mom quietly in the night. Sadly, I have not inherited this trait from him. I would sigh, crib, yelp and sulk to death. On those days, even one hour morale boosting sessions with mom and dad over phone would not help. It’s around eight years that I have moved out of my parents’ house for starting my own life but sometimes, it seems nothing has changed. I still want to go to my parents crying, cuddle them and close my eyes hoping it’s a nightmare and it would be over soon.

It was the last leg of MBA and the most dreaded one too- placement week. Companies came and went and I was left alone like some 80s-90s masala bollywood movies’ hero’s over aged ugly sister who was the biggest burden for the family. Who said physical proximity doesn't matter. I was home sick and slowly, the depression too set in. There were friends who I could categorize in two sets only – (1) placed and relieved would be seen partying and discussing about their future jobs and (2) yet to be placed and disenchanted with the whole system, would be seen mugging, praying, ranting or thinking of ways to commit suicide. It was a topsy turvy world devoid of any balancing factor. The only thing that could compete with the number of applications being rejected were my weight, my stress and the growing number of make shift housing arrangement in an under construction apartment complex just next to my college.

It was a Saturday night and another week ended without any luck. Exhausted, I let myself fall on the bed. Sitting against the wall, I could see out of the window. It was 2 am but the construction work was at its peak. It was drizzling. Poor men and women were working. Kids unable to sleep without their parents were wide awake and playing. I was wondering- what hopes do these people have? Building fortress when one is living under cardboard structures that stand threatened every time cool evening breeze touches them. It was like a re-run of the story of King Arthur and the spider which gave me solace. That night I slept peacefully and next morning my room was filled with soft light.

When I opened my eyes, I could see my loved ones smiling at me- from the collage of photos I created. It was when I noticed how colorful and blessed my life is. I have memories, stories, support, money and everything I could have asked for. Just a few meters away, there was a slum that seemed to be under deep slumber. Unable to face the scorching sun, exhausted people were trying to touch some moist and cool corner of the floor to compensate for the hot radiating tin roofs. Thank God! I have a nice room with all the comforts. Even if the poor people do not have their own house, they build dream homes for others, hoping for better lives. Why can’t I hope for a better future even though I can’t picture one right now.

That was my moment of tranquility- when I looked up and found God smiling at me. Lady luck did smile too and nice things followed but I am still grateful for that dark and lonely night. 

This was my story of optimism, Find yours..