I love North Indian weddings. It is full of life and energy. With the pandemic slowly ebbing, the celebrations are also on the up.

Like many who want to break free from the shackles of lockdown restrictions etc, when I got an invite to a wedding ceremony of my colleague’s son, I lapped it up.

My wife and I decided that we should attend with necessary precautions

The setting was no less than that of a movie set. As we walked around to survey what was all set up it was nothing less than grand. The discussion on the multi-cuisine spread can be left for another day!

What was striking is the setting for the bride and the groom to exchange the garlands. The bride was well hidden inside a big flower bud closed. When the groom arrived over the loud Punjabi music and dance the bud would open up and the bride would be visible in all grandeur.

As the music played on, a stream of very well dressed, pretty young dancers made way on to the podium ramp and were dancing to perfect synchronization. All of them must be barely out of their teens. The performance was amazing, I wondered how they managed and while the act was going on, I could see one more of them on the sideline dancing all alone. I soon realized that each of the dancers on the ramp was taking cue from this girl. The girl herself was supremely confident and looked very proficient and wearing a smile which was infectious.

The main event over and the guest hit the buffet counters so did we. The groom and bride were busy with the religious rituals.

But I could not take “Her” out of my mind the face seemed familiar but I could not recollect. As the guests started thinning down I could see the bevy of the girls huddled together and taking instructions from the event manager. She was there but could make out she was not in it.

As I moved around from counter to counter checking on the spread, I came face to face with her and as I pressed the recall button of my memory, it struck me I had seen her probably more than a decade and a half back. Sapna was a striking beauty even then and she was part of the dance chorus then at another wedding

We exchanged a look and I asked if she was Sapna. She was surprised and asked me how I knew her. I mentioned about the marriage and she hardly seemed to recollect. There was a melancholy in her eyes behind the façade of the make up and smiling face which I could see through and I had to ask her if all was ok

She narrated:, “ When you saw me last time I must have been around 25-26 . I grew up in a poor family, started dancing when I was barely in my teens to support our family. Having worked hard within the event management circle I was recognized by name, which in itself is an achievement. I was sought after and become a kind of star in the closed industry. My siblings went to school and I supported my family. I cannot recollect how many marriages I have seen and performed. Every performance brought in a hope that one day I would get married too and my knight in shining armor would also arrive. Pressures of the family prevented me from getting married and kept working and very soon there were no grooms my age within our community.” She took a deep breath as if to shed a part of the sorrow and continued. “ I reconciled to my fate. Today is the last performance, because my event manager feels I am too old to dance on the ramp in front of the high profile clients. I was relegated to giving cues to the dancers on the sidelines quite some time back. My family has moved on, the clients for whom I danced keep moving on. I have seen so many families set up yet I longed to have ceremony of my own which might never happen.” Amidst life there is hope and despair in equal measure. In the ocean of celebration there are islands of tales which we hardly care about. Life has to move fast forward.  I could not offer any comments and as if by co incidence, a waiter passing by tripped and dropped a glass on the floor. The sound reverberated in my ears for a long time during my drive back home after the event.  I could not help recollecting a very old hindi classic song “Sapna mera toot gaya…”


LIFE IS A CIRCUS..(Raj Kapoor’s famous line)

Dolly!, her name sounded very familiar. Having got a facebook friend request I tried to recollect…….. it was not very difficult. In some way in the deepest crevices of my heart she did play a part. More than what I thought about Dolly, my mind, started to replay the time I spent thinking of HER. There was a smile on my lips and could not hold the tear in my eyes… SHE was beautiful, SHE had something for me….. IT was divine…

“Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the mind boggling show of tonight. Presenting the final show of the evening, the act which all of you wait for…. The trapeze of THE GREAT GOLDEN CIRCUS”.  I would love to hear this. It was amazing how the announcer maintained the same decibel, same vigour show after show, day after day.  I used to love watching the circus even as an adult. Invariably during summer time the circus would arrive and camp on the dry Sabarmati river bed in Ahmedabad. The glittering lights at night nothing less than the neons of Las Vegas would bring cheer to the city. The fantastic movie made by the show man of the century, Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker, kindled a great interest in me for the circus right from childhood, also furthered by current day Shahrukh khan’s highly successful teleserial “Circus”. Student discount coupons used to be liberally given away in our school and I would invariably watch it atleast a couple of times before they used to pack up and leave the city.

It was the summer of early 80s when I went to watch this circus (The Golden Circus), as an adult. By that time, most of my friends had moved on to other interests but the interest in circus did not leave me. I went for the show booked a Dress Circle box seat right in the front and got ready for the show. The mandatory popcorn, chaiwallas shouting out inside the tent was nostalgic. I turned around and my heart sank at the sparse attendance. The tent would have been bursting at its seams during my school days. The customary lights off and the show was on… the animals , the jokers, bicycle stunts, the well of death motorbike act all of them brought a lost joy in me. The final act of the evening was announced by a similar voice, similar vigor and I got ready for the last act. The act where many girls performed rope tricks culminating in the trapeze which was my favorite. Then, SHE made her entry

A group of smartly dressed happy looking girls took the stage and started performing. SHE took the stage and one of the acts made her to swing and SHE looking at the audience. When SHE came on my side of the stage I looked at HER and flipped. SHE was so pretty. SHE had beautiful eyes, sharp features. The outfit suited HER so well and then suddenly as if recognizing my presence when the swing paused on our side of the stage SHE looked at me and smiled.  My heart melted….The show over and HER smile kept playing before my eyes. I do not have a record about the number of times I visited the circus that year. Every time I would take the same seat and every time would wait for HER act to begin and SHE used to flash that smile and I would smile back…. There was no way I could have met her but in my heart I knew she would also be longing to meet up with me…..

A few years passed, but that summer could not be forgotten and then I met Dolly my class mate in school. I then remembered that her father used to own a circus and my joy knew no bounds when she declared that her father was the owner of The Great Golden circus. I told her my story and she was full of empathy. Obviously she did not know the people working but she promised to help and put me on to the manager of the show of the time. The manager heard my story and promised to help me if I was so desperate.

Armed with the address I headed to HER village in Thalassery a small district in Kerala known for churning out generations and generations and families after families working for circuses. As I was reaching the village my heart started beating faster. Questions were rising like a tsunami in my mind. Will SHE remember me? SHE would have been performing in so many towns, cities and villages. But I was sure that the smile was not ordinary it was from the heart, and directed at me. What if SHE was already married? Given that smile, I was sure she should have known I would come one day. After all, who on earth would visit the circus every other day in the same season, sit at the same place and smile back every time

I reached a very small nondescript lane and as dark clouds gathered in the sky (quite normal in Kerala at that time of the year), I passed by an old man’s tea stall and made way to the door number that I had with me. As I reached, my heart was racing like a Ferrari, my palms sweating like never before but I was full of hope and joy. Finally I would meet my loved one, one whom I never met, but I knew was for me.

From a distance I could make out the thatched hut reflecting the poor background of the family, due to which she took up the job. My heart sank when I reached there only to find it bolted. One look and one could make out that it was not habited for a long time. My throat went dry, could not see a soul around and as I made my way back, it started pouring… it did not matter anymore to me. As I waited for the next bus to the nearest city I asked the old tea shop man regarding the door and described her. He could read my heart… he had a very fatherly look on his face and said

“Son I cant make out who is unlucky, you or HER… SHE must be lucky to have someone like you who has coming looking for HER, SHE and HER family struggled so much…as if that was not enough God snatched  HER away too soon”…. I choked… I could not believe what I was hearing as he went on with their story. But the sign off from the old man left me gasping… “Good for her SHE left so soon, how could such a cute kid live a full life without eyesight……” I could not help remembering Raj Kapoor famous monologue………………..”Have you seen my heart”?

Dark Night

I always considered my city to be safe. Let me be more specific, I always thought that my city was safe for women

Living with my wife and two daughters coupled with a job that involved a fair bit of travel, this was quite comforting

It must have been one of those tiring days at work. I came back mentally exhausted after a grueling day’s work at the office. I was looking forward to the company of my wife and kids within the comfort of our home.

As I was nearing my home, I glanced at my watch…. 8.00 pm. It was winter time and was getting dark quite soon anyway.

I parked my car and dashed inside my house to remove my shoes, tie, and parked myself on my favorite place… the recliner.

I asked my wife about the whereabouts of my daughter and she replied that she had gone to the nearby supermarket to pick up some stuff. The supermarket must be about a Kilometer and a half from my house. A good evening walk I thought. The road leading from the supermarket to our house was a series of lanes and by lanes and no street lights all along. A couple of shops especially a Baskin Robbins shop enroute used to be the lone lighted spot along the way. But something that evening made me feel a bit uncomfortable. That  feeling was not usual. I wanted her to be back soon. Fathers are always possessive about their daughters.

As if my intuition was not wrong, barely had I finished my coffee, I got a call on my mobile, I checked it was my daughter on the other side.

I picked the call. I could hear her voice in panic. Dad I am in trouble..

What happned? I asked.

With a quivering voice, she said she is being stalked. She said she was  fearing for her life….

Oh God! The normally cheerful child and would not have called without reason. I asked her to explain. She said, the road was pitch dark. She could only hear the rustle of the leaves behind her and once when she turned the noise stopped. In the darkness she could just see the eyes for a split second. Then she started walking fast. The rustle grew faster. She could not talk further … I could feel the tension and panic in her

Panic gripped me too. I always felt the city to be safe, so was our neighbourhood. I could never imagine such a thing occurring in this place. I started sweating. No time to waste. I picked up my car keys and dashed out. On the way I called her again and asked her to run to that Baskin Robbins shop which we were familiar. She said it was still quite far and as I hung up I could almost feel her shrieking….

The drive should not take more than 5 minutes, but seemed to be never ending. I drove through the road, which I thought she would have taken and almost reached the supermarket. No sight of her. If I catch that guy I will kill him, get him hanged. The thoughts raged in me

I turned and drove back. The street was pitch dark, only the feeble head light of my car provided some light. I stopped on the way to check if she was nearby. What if the guy had gagged her? Or worse still held her by a knife or gun. I was drenched in sweat when I could not see any sign of anything moving in that place.

I drove further up and was nearing the Baskin Robbins outlet.  I just veered into the parking lot.

My thought was to first call the cops and report the matter. I just got down from the car and peered into the shop only to find her standing there all shaken up

I was thankful that she was there, but had to report the matter anyhow.

I led her out of the outlet and asked her to describe what she saw.   She could only describe the two shining eyes and nothing more.

After all how much more can you see of a black cat in the dark!!!


I never believed in the concept of “Love at first sight”.  Forget that, I never thought I would ever fall in love. It was not as if  I was full of myself. It was just that I used to be so much detached, so laissez faire in my approach. I could have never imagined that cupid would strike me one day

Well they say, that Cupid always strikes when least expected…..

Those were the days when one would wander aimlessly in the town market or in the shopping mall. My childhood friends were my constant companions and partners in crime. We had almost perfected the “Art of doing nothing” a total inspiration from the legendary J.B Priestly.

We were not the ogling kind, but we did not miss any opportunity to behold as John Keats would have described….”A thing of beauty”

My friends were very happy with my company because they felt I would never be competition as I was indifferent and they could pursue their target without any fear of competition.  I on the other hand was happy to hear their hearts out and offer my shoulder to them for comfort

I don’t remember exactly what day and date it was, but I remember the sequence of events. We were loitering as usual in a mall, with no specific agenda. My two friends were busy with their roving eyes and as we were passing through, my eyes fell on her for the first time. It was just a glance and it was over…………but not really. That night the event kept playing in my mind again and again. The next day I went alone to the mall, something which I had never done before. I was hoping and praying to see her again and my heart skipped a beat when I saw her again.

I could not take my eyes off her, it was what I can say “ Love at first sight”.  I wished she was mine. I can say candidly she was sexy. I liked her figure and the curves and was imagining the pleasure of holding her in my hand all for myself

I wooed her many times and with a great deal of effort finally she was mine. My friends were shocked at my revelation. They accused me of being unfair to them, that i never shared my feelings with them. As they saw both of us together they could not help envying me. I was also mean enough to flaunt her where ever I could and whenever I could and I could not help feeling a swell of pride when I saw the envious look from others.

My parents never liked her but I kept convincing them that she was the best fit for me and they gave up after a while. They never  accepted her as part of me.

That was quite a while ago……………

Things changed now. I felt she was not the same as before. Gone, were the smooth and loving emotion she had with me. She started acting more and more cranky. The frequency of our fights increased, and it was showing on me. My parents were having the proverbial last laugh with a look that always said “We told you so”.  My friends also were least interested in her now.  I too had no more interesting stories and anecdotes to share with them. My manly instincts said that I no longer found her attractive.  The same sexiness that I used to ogle was now an eyesore. Her changed attitude added fuel to fire

After a lot of deliberation with myself I decided that it was time to part. We did have some great time together. I would always cherish the memories that I had with her, after all she was my first crush. How can I forget her, but I now needed to move on. I will move on. I am now waiting for the next and the latest version of the iphone…….”


From the Street corner with love

He sat on the balcony of his house, with his newspaper in hand and a cup of coffee by the side. It used to be one of those foregone routine to all in the family. No one ever disturbed him during that time. That day suddenly as if he went into a trance he gazed at the end of the street. The distant look was confusing. This was not the first time either.

Immediately his mind was flooded with memories of the past

Many a moons had passed since, he started his journey from a small in descript village, from a poverty stricken family, to where he lived now in a bustling metropolis and a comfortable life by any standards

The playful chatter of friends and cousins whether it was in the pool or in the nearby woods, it did help to forget the uncertainty of the future. It was a large family and no one had a distinct identity. All merged into one big sorry group, which did find their own ways of reaction to life. It was a different time then…

He could never tell whether he loved to study and or was it his vision. But against all odds he did manage to go to college and finish it too. That was a first in the family. He ensured that his younger siblings also fared equally well or better. He refused to get drawn into the business of the family which had just started to thrive. He reminisced that he wanted to chart his own destiny.

The coffee was getting cold. He got up to for his refill

He came back and the gaze was up again.

He could never pin point when in his life he developed so many different hobbies. He smiled as he started to sip the second cup of coffee.

The weather was getting cold, he never liked the cold, he loved to read and read, spend hours and hours over texts related to his interest or otherwise

He remembered his first contribution to the college magazine, did that spur him to write more? In the years to come he wrote so many articles, so many publications would reject, so many would publish, but his enthusiasm was un wavered. He fondness of music was average,  but he could tell the right notes from the wrong. Technically perfect.  That was enigmatic.

He could never forget his past, it used to keep coming back, the memories of a childhood when he grew up as an under privileged. Later he was to patronize the local orphanage where every time he wound enter the premises the kids there would come running to him from a distance knowing fully well that he would surely come with some goodies for them. Oh.. so much water has flown under the bridge.

He could not help missing the long list of friends many of whom were no more, many of them moved on to other places. He looked up and saw his wife watching him intently. She knew that look, she could feel that look, she had seen that many times over.

He shuffled and rattled out the day’s top news to her and they engaged in their favorite pass time – Argue. When they were done, they made up over food. He loved his food

That day was something, something strange, he felt this many a times before, but that day the urge was more. The look in his eyes were telling a story

A story of the days gone by. The past had so many misses in life, and so many near misses. But also as many triumphs.  As the memories enveloped him, he realized that he was desirous of the arrival of a figure that would walk right in from the corner of the street so that he could get up, put his newspaper down, and open the gate, and hug him tightly. A hug that would radiate all the feelings of missing him for so many days the heartbeat of love all permeating

One need not have been a psychologist to empathize with him, his feelings were like an open book for everyone to read and live

In the city of joy where I live currently, I could not escape laying my hands on Tagore’s classic “The Cabulliwalah”. The story that ends with the grand old man with the distant look in his eyes in search of the vision of his daughter who would have grown up like the effervescent character Mini of marriageable age. Tagore’s description invariable brought a tear in my eyes every time I read it.  I could relate to what that look could have been.

Just as I could empathize the feeling of the protognist in Tagore’s classic, I could feel that look of his to the end of the street having missed his near and dear ones for long as would his wife, as would his neighbours

I too miss you dad!!

Life Still Goes On

I felt good about something that day.

My flight touched down the Kolkata airport runway and I closed my eyes in a silent prayer. I am back after a hectic trip covering 4 countries over 18 days. I was looking forward to reaching my home. I switched on my phone- 11.30 pm. Targeting home by 1.30 am.

My apartment complex is about 40 kms from the airport. Most of the app cab drivers cancel the trip after hearing the destination and it is indeed a long wait at the app cab stand which is usually highly chaotic. I was cursing myself under my breath to have got into this situation

After the endless wait at the carousal to get my luggage, I booked the cab, and Viola! It allotted the driver instantly. Given the past record, I knew that it will take a couple of iterations to get my cab going to Joka,   the southernmost part of Kolkata city.  Surprise, Surprise, as I walked towards the taxi stand, I got a call and the driver asked my destination, normally I hesitate, but this time I gave it immediately and asked him if he would come. “ Of course sir” was the instant reply. I could not help smiling with joy.

Utpal was ordinary looking youth typical Bengali features, unlike other drivers he immediately got down and opened the boot of the car and took my luggage to put it in. The long journey began. Something about him was likeable. He was knowledgeable, he was ambitious, looked like he was a hard working guy. He shared his story how he purchased the car and manages to support his small family. I always appreciate guys who are roughing it out without losing hope. He was in his own way an entrepreneur, who was directing his own future, fully under control and I really felt good for him as I have felt good on many other such occasions. Technology has surely given opportunity to thousands to earn their living on their own, working for themselves a change that I have seen happening across the Indian landscape.

By the time we reached home, he built a rapport enough to say that he would drop me and pick me up from the airport every time I travelled. No need to book the app, just call him. Over the time I called him many times, and he was full of enthusiasm every time explaining his success stories, how he overcame some life challenges, stories about his friends, stories about a passenger who was rude or a damsel in distress whom he helped. I figured out he had a set of friends who used to keep calling him for advice in their tight situations and he used to offer solution or advise with aplomb. The ride to and from the airport had become a thing which I started looking forward to. I knew this guy will go places…

Many months later during one of the trips I could see his conversations being disjointed, random and clearly lacking content. Sign of a man who was tensed. During that trip, to the airport, he would have hit the security barricade, but for my alarm at the last moment. As I alighted I asked if everything was ok. He confessed that he was tense, I wished him luck!

Since then he did not pick up my calls and I was back to the grind with the app cabs. Nature is also strange, we eventually get used to anything if it persists and then we say life goes on.

It therefore came as a surprise when I got a call from him last week. He told that could not pick my calls before for many reasons, but now he is ready again for the job. As luck would have it I had to travel back to Kolkata that night and asked him to come and pick me up. He agreed

As we were driving home, he narrated his story of how a series of wrongs how many calculations misfired and gone was the confident tone of an Indian youth who was ready to face the world. Here was a guy reduced to driving someone else’s car, his car being seized by the finance companies for nonpayment of EMIs. I could feel so many dreams having crushed within him. The hope for a better living for his wife, his daughter, the real world had been unfair to a hardworking guy. I did not ask for the reason but I could not control sadness enveloping me.

That was a Saturday night, the next day afternoon as I was browsing the channels, I saw the old classic movie, a story of similar hopes and dreams dashed despite hard work; all quirk of fate, Bimal Roy’s movie Do Bhiga  Zameen. That was the year 1953

So many decades later, many such stories still re run, despite the giant strides of development I could not help thinking how many such Utpals of the world have had stars in their eyes only to be brought to the ground resigning to their fate that their flight would never take off or their flight crash landed before it took off. They exist in thousands along with the few who made it big whose success stories are taught in the B schools.

The parallel of this story which I experienced firsthand, to the classic movie could not be missed. It brought tears in my eyes, lump in my throat…. I switched off the TV, closed my eyes to introspect deeper and deeper giving a thought for the vanquished, fully aware that life still goes on………


“Air India regrets to announce a delay in the departure of flight no XXX to Mumbai”

An Ominous open ended announcement, with no concrete information of how long the delay

My elder colleague RR and I looked at each other and instinctively headed towards the seating area of the airport near the departure gates.  I could hear similar announcements about other airlines too

We then got to know that there was an airspace curfew in view of some tests being conducted by the army and air force. We braced ourselves for some indefinite delay and headed to the food court area

On this fateful day, I discovered the joy of doing something new….

RR is not great at conversing, so I was getting myself prepared to start reading a book which is how I spend time on such occasions

As more and more airlines announced the delays, the waiting area was starting to get crowded

I was really feeling bored, how I wished that I would be on that flight and reach home so that I could relax and sleep, but here I was at the airport bracing for at-least 3 to 4 hours of delay

The conversation with RR was mundane, he was replying in his typical style monosyllables and it has a great rub off effect on me, if he asked something or remarked about something I also began to instinctively reply in monosyllables

In the crowded hall I saw many people around me, sipping coffee, some of them discussing animatedly, some joking and having fun. Slowly I started looking and observing more and more people.

At the far end of the hall I could see a group of 4 people.  I could not make out what they were conversing, but at that moment it did not matter to me, I started to observe them, I started to script the situation. One guy who stood as if he is facing the rest: must be the BOSS.  One of the guys was very active; he was trying to impress the BOSS. His body language was clearly showing he was going all out to agree to boss, trying to please him. The other guy was trying to interject, but the boss was rebutting. The guy must have got a mouthful during the review meeting in the office and he was still not able to make up. The third guy seemed like a rebel. He was trying to move away from the sphere influence, an occasional short comment is all that he seemed to offer. That guy must be disliking his boss. I started developing the story in my mind.

I had to be careful, and keep looking around once in a while so that neither the group feels being watched and gets conscious nor should anyone around me also catch me observing them deeply that would be very embarrassing.

I was looking for cues, what kind of an organization? What kind of business? My mind started to expand, different scenarios, a soap opera was forming in my mind

I don’t know how much time had elapsed when I asked RR whether there was any announcement? He replied in the negative. He was sitting there with and expression of a person bored in life. But he was always like that…..

I turned around I could see a young couple very close to where I was seated.  Not young enough to be classified and “married recently” , but not old enough either. Interesting!

Middle class family! Not very rich- modestly dressed. Must have come to attend a family function, the “Mehdi” on her arm gave it away!

They were having an argument….surely! She was not in a good mood. He was trying to woo her. She was snapping. I think the controversy was on what to eat or something. I was playing the words in my mind.  Her in between smile was a proof that their love was intact. But they were arguing on. He was pointing at the different counters at the food court. NO SAYS SHE. Finally as if picking up a “Bramhastra” she opened her hand luggage and took out a packet of Gujarati thepla.

This was getting interesting. How to stereotype these two? Their families and so on and so forth

Before I could realize, I had spent 3 hours and never realized the passage of so much time.

As I was boarding the flight, I realized I did something that day which I never did before…. I was observing people and interpreting their stories without listening to the conversation or intruding their space or attention.

Suddenly I realized that I had gained something. I realized this was a great way to spend time when you don’t have anything to do. Just observe the people around you and you will be reading great stories- some maybe true, most of them may be imaginary, but who cares, it’s just between me and me!

I had found a solution to the problem that had been plaguing me all through my career while waiting at a station, bus stop, or at the airport, over even when I am stuck in a traffic jam in a cab

Now it does not scare me. A delayed arrival of a train, the other day, set my eyes on a rural poor woman admonishing her child. She has so much to handle so many challenges, surely living in poverty, trying to make ends meet and so many frustrations being downloaded on the kid. What if she is working and her husband is blowing all that away gambling and drinking!

The discovery of the art of observing people without making them realize it, helps me these days to overcome any such otherwise boring situations.

The experience at the airport TERMINAL (a title inspired by my one of my fav movies) has rejuvenated my passion to work, travel and work

The other day I was stuck in a traffic jam in a cab which would not move… I just turned my head out of the window, and saw a mother and a daughter inside the car beside me surely having a fight over…..

But that story we shall keep for another day….

One Rainy Day in Muscat

Ever since I landed in Muscat more than a decade ago, many things have changed in my life. I landed here with my very young children and so you can say they are brought up in Oman. During many social gatherings, I used to overhear people talk about their kids saying, “Oh! these kids are different you know….they are gulfies…..For a long time I did not know, what that means . I could hardly ever get to accept  that , just because they grew up in a different geography, they would be different

I did not rake my brains on this subject. My mind was searching for an answer which I could never get. The answer to the basic question, what is different  about these children in the gulf over the children who are growing up back home in India apart from of course, the existence of basic luxuries of airconditioned homes, cars , malls etc?

I was to get that answer only a few, maybe 3 or 4 years back one rainy day in Muscat.

It was work as usual in the office, and I got ready for one more day of long meetings with our business partners.

As I drove to my office, I could see dark clouds on the horizon

Once settled in the office, I got started for the meeting scheduled for the day. That day I had a high powered delegation from Japan and I knew it was going to be a very hard meeting with them. A long day of very hard negotiations,

It was well past the hour of 11 and we had just about warmed up in the meeting after the routine meet and greets etc etc. I could hear the rumblings of the clouds. Someone who went out for a smoke, returned and remarked, “There is likely hood of a rain in Muscat today”, We all got back to our discussions

Suddenly the rumblings of the clouds grew louder and as I tried to gaze out of the room, I could see darkness enveloping the city…”Oh my God, it’s going to rain hard I thought….My mind went to my kid who was in school…they must be enjoying the rains I thought….Lucky childhood …. How I missed it

The ring on the intercom brought me back from my thoughts. It was one of my colleagues MK on the other end and also staying in the same apartment complex….”it is going to rain heavily, we got to take the kids back from school…Can’t depend on the bus driver…Can you go and pick them up? I am myself not confident of driving in the rain.. I told him it is very difficult for me because of the meeting

As if apocalypse had struck, within minutes I had other colleagues calling up, other colleagues who were also staying in the same building as I. My wife called with a usual panic in her voice, “ there is going to be a heavy downpour and the school has declared a holiday..” As a school kid I would have said hurrah! I would have jumped with joy,

These Japanese are tough negotiators I thought, they are not going to give in easily. I was here caught in the classic between the devil and the deep sea…. I had to focus, focus, but what about the kid? How will they get back?

My colleague called back, I told him it is not possible for me to excuse from the meeting …too important and you go and pick up…From my heart I knew it was a very poor alternative, but no choice. He said he will go. I said keep messaging me of your progress

We were discussing the tender, the ministry profile, the background of the requirement, the quantities and the past history of our dismal performance on this tender. MK called and said he is starting… it is raining very heavily, I can barely see a couple of mts ahead, there is a traffic jam at the Sheraton signal, looks like it will take 1 hour to reach the school..

Go back to calculations… these Japanese are giving a complicated pricing mechanism…I have to first get a fix on my landed cost…

45 minutes on… MK called , he said he is just about reach school. “I don’t know how I will be able to locate the kids. I have to locate them before they board the bus otherwise they will be stuck in it”…  How I wished that I could have handled this rather than leaving it to MK

Is all Ok Iyer San? Asked the Japanese and I mumbled a feeble yeah…just getting my daughter picked from school.. I could see a wry smile on his face..a sweat on my brow would have given it away

Called my wife, the kids are in the car finally at 1 PM… she was still not ok..; I could feel it in her voice

It was raining sheets of water …I could visualize the traffic jam on the roads… It just needs to drizzle in this town and there is chaos.

We figured out the landed costs over pizza and coke and now we were on the last stretch. What is the margin that I have to keep for my company?

1.30 pm…MK where are you? ,…… Boss too much traffic, we are just on the Darsait flyover…its bumper to bumper , will take atleast 1 hour to reach Al Khuwair… I spoke to my daughter asked her if she is fine …return call back to wife on the update…she is still not convinced…still more sweat on my brow

Its 2.30 pm  we cracked the deal… the Japanese understood the nuances of the Oman market finally, agreed to the margin structure, my owners ought to be happy I thought…thought interrupted…wife on the other side “they have still not reached….”

Call to MK….”Where are you?” general panic in my voice

“Qurum” replies MK with a great deal of frustration in his voice

Its more than 1 and half hour and the kid is on the road…. When will this rain stop?

The meeting room is generally upbeat, all seem to be happy that we reached a middle ground with a more than decent chance to win the tender…my mind is not able to share the light mood

I excuse myself and go to my chamber call up to my daughter..She replies feebly…yes I reached home…its 3 pm …I speak to my wife, she is ok now. I call and thank MK….he has had a tough day more than 5 hours on the road…

I slump on my seat..totally fagged out. Don’t know how much of it was the meeting and how much was the tension

While returning home in that evening the road was desolate, rains stopped, wet roads, some places water logged, but the drive home was smooth

It was a tough day…over a hot steaming cup of coffee my mind wandered back to my childhood days when I used to walk back home from school every day, it must be about 4 kms and atleast three places water would log up to knee or waist high… it was fun. We used to walk in a group, cheer each other, protect our school bags inplastic and walk back home wading through the water

Back here in Musat, 35 years later I was thinking how my mother would have felt. If I was so tense with everything in place, even though my daughter was in the comfort of an AC car, even though she was under the care of my friend and other kids, I was tense. I spoke to her atleast thrice that afternoon, my mom would have no clue where I was, she would have to just wait for me till I arrived

My eyes were moist, how much tension she should have taken… I had to find that out…

That weekend I spoke to her for a long time.. I told her what we went through that week

“Maa those days there was not even a phone in our house and you knew that between school and home many places water logs, how did you manage your thought?

There was a pause at the other end and with a characteristic tone where I could visualize the smile on her lips and love and affection in her eyes I heard from the other end….”I knew and always knew you will arrive”

The situation nearly same, the kids nearly same age, two different times, two different parents and the difference in response to the situation..which as I recollect today, by us as parents is what probably makes these kids more gulfies than they could have been otherwise

That one rainy day in Muscat …said it all


Walk of life

These days everyone is an expert on any random subject. The most natural expertise seems to be on how to run the country.

The organization I work is not a very large organization and one of the very nice practices in this organization is about the key people getting together every day for lunch, which includes the owner and his family. The discussion on the lunch table can be on any subject and on debatable issues there is an animated point and counter point. Most of the times I felt that people with divergent views used to leave the lunch room even more convinced about their views, which of course corroborates Dale Carnegie’s golden words “NO ONE EVER WON AN ARGUMENT”

By nature I am apolitical, because I feel I do not have the requisite knowledge or information to understand the nuances of the poltik. It was one of those discussions at the lunch table where I found it quite embarrassing to not have a view when most of the people around were discussing about the giant strides the current government has taken.  The long bridges, the big statues , the waterways and what not. I could not make up my mind.

From the way the colleagues were extolling the current government , it was as if we are on the threshold of becoming a super power. I was not getting the drift. My mind was confused. Having traveled and seen so many other countries I felt we have a long way to go, but here on the discussion table, we were  winners, or atleast we were on the threshold of a great victory as a nation. The ruling class be it at the center or the provincial government s all were rocking. I was promptly shouted down when I attempted a feeble counter argument to the whole development story and in my prudence I decided that the best thing would have been to keep my mouth shut

As a routine that evening I went out for a walk with my colleague with whom I share the company guest house. Winter had already settled down and it used to be quite an experience to walk in the winter nights adequately clothed with wollens and jackets.

My colleague was a young lad, MBA from a premier institute and working in my department under me,. Full of energy, full of opinions, full of everything… As we started walking, after a while he broke the silence. He broached the afternoon discussion yet again, may be , he sensed my predicament.

The night was dark, not many people on the roads, an occasional late office sitter was hurriedly making his way back to home. The last of the commuting buses were also honking their way back to the final destination of the day.

Abhijeet took off from probably where we left in the afternoon.

He went on to state how the previous governments did nothing for the country and all real progress was happening now.

He listed the lakhs of crores of rupees which previous governments had siphoned due to corruption. Frankly speaking, while he was rattling off these figures I was just trying to count the number of zeroes in these figures.

He listed how the country has jumped some ‘x’ number of places in the ease of doing business ranking. He extrapolated the size of our economy in the next 10 years at the current rate of growth.  He rattled off figures of the industrial production, agricultural growth, the banking sector reforms.

As the discussion went on I was listening intently to internalize the same. He jumped to the topic of national pride, how the all inclusive growth policy has contributed the nation’s success. The great digital revolution was his passionate subject. He explained how ecommerce, e banking was the pivot of our success, digital payments et all….

I could not help also feel the same. Did I find my answer??

We were returning back and out of instinct I advised him that we walk on the sidewalk than on the road, lest someone knock us over in the darkness of the night… notwithstanding the eco friendly street lights.

As we were making our way thorough, on the sidewalk, his aggression and conviction grew with every point and if not for his views, I was impressed with his theatrics and conviction and the deep knowledge on variety of macro economics

We were just close to our complex which is quite a posh one, my eyes just fell on the ground at the right time to avoid a hump on the side walk.

In the darkness of the night I almost missed what I thought was a manhole cover standing up. As I jumped over it and turned back to curse the municipality, I saw the bump move.  As I moved ahead keeping pace with Abhijeet I realized it was a man covered in a blanket sleeping at peace with himself on the sidewalk of this metro, the blanket for all purposes must have been donated by a corporate as part of their CSR activity.

The realization had a deep impact on me, in this world of high GDPs, ecommerce, digital revolution, giant infrastructures, here was still a man suffering for basic basic needs, no shelter, probably no food either . How do we improve the life of these poor and downtrodden? How do we reduce the inequality in the society? I had found the perfect example to push my point that while our developments have been commendable but still a lot more needs to be done at the ground level if we want the benefits of development to percolate down to every section of the society

I was just about start my version of the argument and was just about to interrupt Abhijeet when Dale Carnegie’s statement reverberated in my mind again “ No one ever won an argument” and “A man who has been convinced in an argument, is not convinced still “

I decided to keep quite and keep walking…..


Her departure was as sudden as the first meeting!!!!

I did say the goodbyes with a very heavy heart after all our relationship had lasted 25 years and now I had to bid her adieu. I was not sure if she too felt the same way, for I knew that she would find someone like me or better than me sooner or later. The memories of the first meeting as with any love affair still fresh in my mind……

I had just enrolled myself to the engineering college. The campus, the institute, made my parents swell with pride that their son made it and was on course for a successful life having taken the first step towards being a professional. The days of protected environs at home over. I was now alone with a whole new world unraveling before me. I had a new set of friends from diverse backgrounds.

It was during one of those gatherings, where you try to get to know each other that I met her and saw from close quarters for the first time. I cannot say it was love at first sight. Neither did she vie for my attention. In retrospect I think it was that attitude of her’s what made her desirable. She mixed freely with the guys and each one had a star in their eyes while she was with them.

Then on that fateful day I broke the ice with her, surprisingly she was more than willing to accept me and thus began our long story together.

Innumerable moments were shared together. Times of joy and sorrow. At successes and failures. In a group or all alone. We cherished each others company. I surely did. I longed to be with her and looked for every opportunity with her.

Many times some of my friends would tell me that She is not worthy of me and I would resent. Some said I am draining my resources on her and that she does not care but I could not believe it. I loved her more and even when her demands kept going up I gave in always. After all, love is not calculated by the color of money.

My mother came to know about my affair with her from some family friend (I really did not understand what business they had in prying into my personal life). Coming from a traditional family this was blasphemy and my mother confronted me on the affair. I had to admit, because I never lie. She was heartbroken. For her sake, for my mother’s sake I kept all discussion concerning her away. Even if her name came up during talks I skirted them wisely.

Before marriage my wife asked if I had anything to confess and I told her about my affair with her, my liking for her, but surprisingly she accepted her. I do not really know if it was a challenge she took up or believed that she would wean me away from her over a period of time. Discussions about her would come up once in a while and she was not the same as before. Wife dearest no longer accepted her as she used to before marriage.

Slowly I kept her away from my wife, But the more she was away, the more the desire to reach out to her.

Over period of time I heard stories about her that she never cared for anyone. I asked myself one day, that, if this was true, how she could care for me then… Was this long long love story a one sided one. Even though my head believed it, my heart was not ready to. After all we had spend such great deal of time together all of that unconditional love.

I knew and realized that I was not the only one in her life. I heard and saw how she did not care for others who perished because of her but she would not care a damn!!

Oh my God!!! Is she the one really for me? I asked this question again and again. In the past so many times I tried to stay away from her but could not. I would, like her other lovers of her go back crawling to her.

But today as I was on the threshold of a new age era in life I asked myself what I would gift myself this birthday… what is it that I want… I could not think of any…

Then!!! Instead of getting something I decided to give up. I decided that I shall not have anything to do with her. All the money that i spend on her, I would rather spend on a noble cause, maybe for a poor child or for any other noble cause but would not spend on her…

Twenty five years after I first courted my affair with her I gave her up…. I gave up smoking!

But I know she is around waiting to have a go at me once again… I shall resist, she will have a go at you too… not sure if you can resist too. She is charming, she has style she has panache.. But is she good enough for you????