Sunday, November 10, 2013

Crossroads of life

Yet again I am on the crossroads of life. And I know in a moment, its just memories that will remain. Today, I had this strange feeling of having lost something I valued a great deal. Just that I realized it when it was gone. It’s tough to explain in words.

Moment in time at its lowest ebb
Thoughts so disturbed, dreams so indistinct
Frustration winning over, anger long lasting
Loneliness killing and emptiness wide spread

If I had my chance, I'd go back in those oblivious days, tracing my own footprints back through time, walking through all those cherished moments and waving at the people I met who are etched in my mind. Someday I’d reach the origin, from where it all started. And I'd start it all over again, this time my way.

What a pleasant dream. HaHa! How I wish it was true.
I am not scared of tomorrow. I’d been on crossroads before. And through various such rough junctures, I reached this place I called home for a long time. But life goes on. We still have to move ahead and explore new things.

So here I stand yet again, on the crossroads of life, arms wide open.

Emptiness all around, hazy shades right ahead
Mighty will to be the best, is still alive in my head.
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Survivors Of the Road

It was a Friday morning and we were passing the languorous moments listening to some super senti love songs from the middle of last decade. Now there was something fishy about this. The otherwise ardent rock aficionados were stuck on love songs and each one had their own sweet reason for doing so. Ok, let’s not get into it. It would be a whole new blog if I decide to write about it.

Our mobiles were flooded with “happy diwali” messages, making us realize that it was diwali. No big deal, we continued to listen to the super senti stuff until Girish suggested that we went somewhere for the long weekend. Humpi was the first obvious suggestion. Rana was the one, who had already dropped out owing to some inevitable stuff he had to take care over the weekend. It was just me and Girish now. But, Rana still kept pouring his suggestions. I was reluctant to the idea of Humpi as I had to work on Monday and that 2 days wouldn’t be enough for a complete Humpi trip. I instead suggested that we went somewhere close bye, an overnight stay and head back the next day.

After a brief search through the net, Girish came up with a couple of options and finally we decided on Kemmengundi. Girish ran with the decision and got himself busy with downloading the road map and other relevant information about the place. That’s how we came to know that there were 2 routes to Kemmengundi from Bangalore, one via Chikmanaglur and the other via Tumkur. The former would be more scenic but would cost us an extra 100 km, adding up to almost 350 km one side. Now we had to make a decision here. Before I could say anything, Girish settled on taking the scenic route while going and return via the shorter one. Wasn’t a bad idea I thought, and gave into it without any fight. Now the decision was made but still several questions kept coming on the agenda. We had no clue where we would spend the night. We didn’t even know if there would be any accommodation available in the close proximity. We made a couple of attempts to book a room with few of the numbers we got from the net but all in vain. Still, our spirits were high and we had no intentions to back out. Finally, decision was made to hit the road with the first light of the dawn. Fat chance, I knew in a software engineers life, nothing gets executed as planned. And I was right; it was 6:30 in the morning and Girish was fastening my bag with the bungee chords. Big boy had a big machine (Royal Enfield Electra) and we were all set to runaway. Without much delay, we started off. On the way, we stopped at the Sai Baba temple in Cambridge layout and paid homage to the deity for a safe trip. That’s probably one of the few times we show up at a temple. Girish does it whenever he is off for a long trip.

It was a cloudy day and it appeared as if it would start pouring anytime. A whiff of cool air, sound of distant traffic, people loping on the walkway and our roaring machine gathering all the attention. It was a beautiful morning and all this was giving us the essential drive for the journey we were headed for. When the spirits are high, adrenaline pumps in, mutual cooperation uplifts and incredible things are achieved. We had crossed the city limits and were doing about 100 kph on an empty highway. Girish’s bull was cruising ahead with out any disruption. The rain clouds were gradually receding, leaving the sun shine brightly on us. As they said, the route was in fact very scenic. We stopped at several places to capture the beautiful countryside in frames, keeping in mind that we were already behind schedule as stated in our agenda. At about 150 km from Bangalore, we stopped at some place on the highway for breakfast. It was a small hotel but appeared to be decent. We quickly grabbed a few hot idlis along with tea to keep us going for another couple of hours.

From here, I took the drivers seat and Girish started playing Mr Navigator. It was a straight stretch with almost no traffic and I couldn’t resist the temptation of zipping through it, and I did. Girish took out his camera and started filming the beautiful landscapes. I was not much used to bullet. To avoid any goof up, I placed my left foot on the brakes with a feathery touch to remind me of the brakes being on left side. We kept taking frequent butt/leak breaks and didn’t miss a single scenic spot. At times we even drove away from the highway, into the narrow roads that appeared amidst the grassy lands.

Quick and flat with exhilarating curves, minimal traffic and provokingly smooth, this road was a real treat to ride on. After a while, the increasing traffic density suggested that we were approaching Hassan. It got cloudy again. But the rain gods were once more relaxed.

We reached Hassan at about 11:30. Now we were in the penultimate stage of our journey. Hassan to Chikmangalur via Belur. The last stage being Chikmangalur to Kemmengundi. Fro
m here, Girish took over. The road got noticeably narrow with pedestrians and cattles occupying most of the road. Soon the throng disappeared as we carried on and we were riding on a road that appeared like a bund wall dividing a reservoir. We could see the Sahyadri Mountains growing bigger as we approached them, the plain road gradually changing to a lot of slopes and curves.

At about 1:00 pm we reached Chikmangalur. Had a proper Kannada meal. What we came to know from the locals was that the ride ahead was entirely on the ghats. So it was imperative to have a tea to calm down the buzzing adrenaline. This was a prolonged break and the tea had a real rejuvenating effect.

Now we had reached the last stage of our drive. A few kilometers from Chikmangalur, the climate appeared to have transformed. Gentle hills, coffee plantations, cool clime, the clouds and mist rolling on. Driving in the Ghats was a breathtaking experience and we had just begun.

Green was the color of the day and it was all over. We stopped at numerous curves from where we had a greater view of the magnificent nature around. Lush green carpets all over, the white clouds hovering over them and the glimpse of blue sky when the clouds budge. Each view was picture perfect. Our camera batteries were draining out, so we had to give up the temptation of capturing whatever seemed worthy.

At about 4.00 pm, we reached kemmengundi. Now it was time to settle down. Girish just needed a place to lay his head but I had already started fanaticizing of a cozy bed and a warm blanket as it was getting colder. There were 3 guest houses; all of them jam packed as expected. The Forest Department guest house was our last resort. The manager, who seemed to be a nice guy, first denied of having any room for 2 but later on nonstop request, nodde
d his head and asked us to follow a guy who was already listening to the conversation. The guy took us to a place that appeared like an abandoned outhouse. It looked weird from outside but inside, it had 2 clean beds with a warm blanket and that was all I was concerned about. The room had a pungent smell of phenol all over. After a while, we got used to it. There was no power. On enquiring they said the supply is from 6 to 6. It was getting dark and cold. I wrapped myself in the blanket and rested on my back, watching the fan which was unquestionably from the middle of last century. Girish took out his mouth organ and started playing some exquisite tunes which appeared to me like from one of those war movies, played in the backdrop after all the destruction is done. After a while, we had our dinner and then we crashed.

The following day, we started off with the trek to Zed point, the highest reachable point in Kemmengundi. As always, Girish came up with his crazy idea of taking the less traveled path that appeared in the regular route. This time it was a narrow trail of path, mixed up with a 70 degree climb for about 50m. I started panting by the time we finished that but didn’t stop thinking this was the only peak. Little did I know that there was another one standing tall ahead. But then, having come this far, it was of the essence to get on to the top. With a little more exertion, we reached the top. “This is it. We are on top” Girish stated emphatically. His approval making me exhilarated.

The beauty of the panoramic view from the top left both of us absolutely speechless for a while. “This is Nirvana!” He proclaimed a little later. We spent about an hour on top enjoying the crisp mountain breeze and descended along the same less traveled path, rejoicing the magnificence of this beautiful land.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006


I woke up listening to the Suprabhatam played in a deafening tone from the temple next street. For sometime, I kept wondering why they do so, making it almost impossible to sleep in the early morning hours. I kept complaining to myself, giving all the crazy reasons for why such things should be discouraged. This didn’t continue for long, until I was fed-up and my thoughts drifted to something else. After a glance into a plethora of events from the past, finally my thoughts got trapped in those days when I was in school.

Having flunked in biology, my class teacher wanted to meet my parents. Having said this, let’s go to the flashback of this flashback to see what had actually happened.

July 1996, I was in class 11th. The long summer vacation had just got over a couple of weeks back. The spirits were high, not much of schoolwork and still feeling swell about being a senior in the school. As always, the joy was never to last long. One of those days, our biology teacher, who happened to be our class teacher too, walked into the class in almost slow motion with a mischievous smile on her face. I knew something terrible was in store for the whole class. And so it was. At a snail pace, she walked towards the black board and in infinitesimally small letters she wrote, “Surprise Test”. I sat in my seat, paralyzed, dazed and confused. It was the first test of the academic year and by all means, I couldn’t afford to do badly. The worst part being that I had already bunked a couple of classes and had not been revising whatever was taught until now. The *budhi jeevis of the class gleefully started staring at each other as if someone had opened a box of chocolates and they are about to get a good share of it.

By the grace of god, the test was not all that tricky. There were 10 questions for which one-word answers had to be given. I managed to get 7 out of 10. All puffed up, I literally went about asking everyone how much they had scored. Not that I was interested, I just wanted them to know how much I scored even after fooling around all the time. On the other hand, if I had scored badly, I would’ve confined myself to one of the corners of the class.

A couple of weeks passed, we had our first term unit tests. Results were out the following week. My score in biology was 7 again, only difference being that it was out of 35 this time. Nevermind, I thought to myself. There is always a next time. I quickly moved to one of the corners, away from the teacher’s table, avoiding any eye contact to ensure nobody asked my score. Guess what? There was already a gang of losers there in the corner, discussing their woes to each other. Not so surprisingly, all my best friends were in there. Softly I asked one of them, “how much?” he looked at me in misery and showed his 3 little fingers. I paused for a while and couldn’t control my smile. Oh boy! He sure might’ve felt bad. To me, it was a big relief to know that I am not the lowest in the class, I asked the rest of the folks, they were all + or – 2 marks from mine. I thought, atleast I am an average loser, not the one who fails miserably.

Couple of weeks later, we had our quarterly exams. The results came and I was still rock solid on 7. Infact a little improvement, it was 7 and a half. But the awful part was that, this time it was out of 70. Following this, I had to confront with the inevitable wrath of my biology teacher as well as my parents. My biology teacher was totally annoyed with me because I did well in all the other subjects. She thought I was ignoring her subject and wanted to complain about this to my parents.

Finally the ‘D’ day had arrived. I had succeeded in convincing my mom to come to the school. I pleaded her to come alone and not to accompany any of our relatives. I was scared of the fact that everyone in my relations would know about it and each one would bombard me with their excruciating lectures. I woke up early and was getting ready for temple. Not something I did quite often, unless things are going real bad. Nevertheless I went and prayed so that the day went well.

For the entire morning hours, I couldn’t stop thinking of my dreadful meeting with the class teacher. Finally, at about 2 in the afternoon, the peon who usually takes care of the principal’s office, walked into our class, asking for me. I started shaking and shivering like a maniac. I heard some giggles, accompanied with some best of lucks from the loser gang. I walked towards the biology lab where our class teacher sits; visualizing in mind what was to follow. I was about to take the turn towards the lab, when the peon told me that they’re in the principal’s office. “What? Principal’s office? But why? ” Too many questions. The peon gave a blank face and I realized there was no reason why he should have an answer for that.
I took a deep breath and thought to myself Jo hoga dekha jayega. I remembered someone saying; when you are in deep trouble, start chanting gayatri mantra. I did exactly that. The principal’s room was at the main entrance. Through the window, I could see that my mom’s elder sister, who is a retired head mistress, is also in the room, along with my biology teacher. Now it was understandable that the principal and the retired head mistress are certainly not talking about the next Mohanlal movie. While I was approaching the principal’s room, I could hear their hysterical laughter’s almost shaking the entire floor. For a moment I wondered what was wrong, then I composed myself outside the principal’s room and gently asked, “May I come in Madam?” The laughter died off for a while and started even vigorously. I felt embarrassed and confused. The principal said “aaah! Come in come in. So you are Rajeesh huh?”. Then she turned her face towards my mom and said, “I know this boy. He is talented. I’ve seen him taking part in all the extra curricular activities. He is good in sports too”. I thought murge ko halaal karne se pehle thoda paani tho pilathe hi hain. I was wondering what was going to happen next. She told me to concentrate on biology as much as I do for other subjects. She also said that she wants to see my name in the top 3 for the next exam. “Hmmm! fat chance”, I thought to myself. I was surprised when the principal said “I am sure this boy will pick up, he just needs a little push in the right direction”. I was asked to go back and attend the class. I looked up to see how my biology teacher was reacting to this. She really didn’t seem to have any complains. I ran towards the class and didn’t stop until I reached. As expected, everyone was curious to know what had happened. I explained everything to them.

Later, on reaching back home, mom told that my aunt (the retired head mistress) and the principal were childhood friends. They started their careers together and that they were meeting after a couple of decades. Now everything seemed to fall in place. The otherwise arrogant principal was very warm and kept on flattering me in front of my mom. But the advice from our dear head mistress was inevitable. As I was expecting, she didn’t bombard me with an unpleasant speech. Instead she gave me some real good advice about being a good student, a responsible son and didn’t stop until I was almost in tears. Yes, finally I started feeling guilty for whatever had happened. Eventually, it was all for good. I finally managed to pass in biology. Although didn’t come in the top 3 as my principal wanted me to.

Well, if you’re wondering why I started with the “suprabhatham”. On the ‘D’ day, when I went to the temple, it was the same “suprabhatham” playing, in the same deafening tone. That’s how my trail of thoughts took me back to some of the most interesting days of my life. Now I feel gratitude for the temple committee or whoever responsible for playing it so loud in the early morning hours, making it almost impossible to sleep. :)


budhi jeevis : an informal term in our school lingo often used to refer to folks who are intelligent and always fond of books. In other words, all the folks with huge spectacles, gaps between their teeth, accompanied with an appetite to read anything and everything under the sky.