Read THIS First ..

Read THIS First..
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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Featured on Half Baked Beans!

You know how it might happen? You might just be doodling in your idea notebook with your laptop open in front of you with a black sleep-induced screen, when the sound of a Facebook notification makes one percent of your grogginess go away and you wake up the screen to see what's up. Then you realize sometimes things you can't ever anticipate, however small they might be, can happen any time. Seriously.

Half Baked Beans is India's youngest independent publisher of commercial fiction and non-fiction paperbacks and e-books. (Check out their Facebook page here). So when I got to know that they would like to feature a short story from my blog on their own blog and a Tuesday feature called 'Tuesday Tales', I positively, absolutely hyper-hyperventilated! This is what was posted on their Facebook page. ^_^ The short story about the death of the Telegram, The Last Message was what was featured. I mean, how cool is that? :D Thanks Half Baked Beans! This is really appreciated! 

Life update: The past week was comparatively less busy sucky and more awesome than the past few weeks. I even managed to make an amazing visit to the Delhi Book Fair with awesome friends. I mean, just so grand! Although I do think I'm on some weird writer's block. And reader's block too, if there's any such thing. For example, I logged on to Goodreads yesterday after like, forever, and checked out my 2013 Reading Challenge Widget and it showed? I'm 6 books behind schedule!!! You know, I.Want.To.Die. NOW. But then, I can't just say goodbye to all the unread books I've collected so far! What if they start crying if they don't see my weird face peering at them, re-stocking them, dusting them, randomly opening them and breathing in their scent, kissing them! :P I can't really make them feel so unloved. I know no one else would care. So okay, I change my plan. I'll read all the books I want to before conking off. Which basically means I'll somehow figure out a way to stay alive on this planet in this janam for like, 500 years? Sounds good!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Metro Diaries # 4: Back to Square One

It's been more than four years now that I've been travelling by the metro trains in Delhi almost every day. Back during my previous college days (oh how much I miss you!) when I was more fun because I had more fun and everything was more fun, I had a lot of experiences to share and I did those in my Metro Diaries 1,2 and 3. Then life changed gears and the past one year I took the opposite route in the metro. It was still the metro but it wasn't much fun because first, it was a relatively less-crowded route and two, it just wasn't fun. Hopefully seeing how I had a dearth of metro experiences to share with awesome readers over here, God made my college shift to the original, proper campus and yay! I had that old route back, the one with far more interesting and many people than before, one where I had at least 45 minutes of metro travel one way! Not that I love standing squished among people I don't even know, but it does give me a lot to see, right? Considering how I love people-watching, trying to understand what their stories might be, it's a lot more fun. And unlike before I get to travel with a few classmate-friends, so sometimes there's even more masala to observe. ;)

So when my not-so-enthusiastic-except-for-metro-and-interesting-campus second year started, there was this one time when I was coming back home with only one more classmate-friend for company, a friend who takes some other route, so essentially for the metro ride, I was solo. This route is almost the double of the one in my previous college and also includes changing lines and well, you guys know me. :P Reaching the platforms, the friend asked me which route would take her to the right station. Naturally, I felt so bond-like while spying on the map, looking for her station. Having found that, I directed her to the right line, said an enthusiastic goodbye and started going in the other direction. She looked confused and asked me if we were going the right way. 'Of course!' I said, pointing out her station at the map. That is where you go! 'And', I said pointing my thumb to the opposite platform, 'that's my route'. Still looking uncertain, she went off and I took the other train, feeling all contented. After all, how many times did people ask me for metro advice? Almost everyone knows how I'm so clueless about metro routes. So much that it's slightly insulting. :|

I was feeling kind of 'free', especially since I was riding solo. Not that I don't like company, but I feel more at peace alone. And so I immersed myself in my awesome thoughts and time started rolling. A couple stations passed and with a jolt, I heard that recorded female telling me I'm reaching a station I was sure I hadn't been to the past week! Yes, I'm usually lost but I do recall the names of stations we pass through! Trying to look nonchalant, because rule number one when you get lost is don't look like you're lost, I scanned the map and saw how wonderful a friend I am for sending her to the right route, and not looking for my own station, assuming obviously I'll take the other route (but why?? Why did I make such an assumption? o.O ) when the fact of the matter was that my station was also on the same route. -_- I thought I'd always check the route after that but you know when you're with the rest, you just assume you're going in the right direction and so you don't get to know if you know the route unless you travel solo again.

Pic courtesy: Google and a previous Metro Diaries post :P

Anyway, moving on, in the crowd-management department, things are still the same like before, although if I talk about the women-only compartment, I can put on a safe bet that it has become absolutely worse. Not that people are becoming crazier, but I personally believe if so many females in varying degrees of distress (what else?) and mood swings are stuck together, there is bound to be something like a lava popping out of a volcano every now and then. Most of the time it's entertaining to watch and since I'm awesome at being inconspicuous and keeping out of others' way, I can think of incidents to write about from a relatively safe distance. I have to admit though, that women in the first compartment can be arrogant, heartless and sometimes downright cruel. You think you want a seat? You think you can make any lady who's parked her butt on a seat make some 'space' for you? You gotta take a reality-check-medicine! I think after their boisterous and always-bouncing-in-the-train kids, women love their seats the most. The first coach is definitely better in the mornings as compared to the general ones in terms of what kind of smells your nose has to deal with in a crowd, because no offence, but the general ones are too suffocating just because some people don't seem to like perfumes. But at the same time, it is far easier to move around in a general coach than the first one.

Women women!
Because when you're a bunch of early twenties people (hey, I'm the youngest *coolest expression*) and you board the train from different stations, it's not that you always seem to have those cool mind-connections like you have with some best friends, so you take some time moving around and gathering at one place. If you have to move in a general coach, you just have to mouth innumerable 'Excuse Me's and people would shift to make space for you to pass. I noticed a difference once while I was moving from the general one to the first coach. Those guys make way for you to pass once you start walking, sometimes you don't even need to say Excuse Me. As soon as I entered the first coach and said my first Excuse Me, I realized women are just... women. I don't know if it's because there are no guys around or what, but you just ask them to shift and you get a look that can kill. It's as if you're asking them for ransom or something. They wouldn't-just-move! Most of them would have those irritating headphones blaring cheap Bollywood songs in their ears and so they can't even hear your polite Excuse Mes. You try to nudge them and make your own way and jeez! Just pray you don't bump into a walking-talking-firecracker. The other day a commotion started in a crowded metro, some place where I with my average height couldn't even see, between two women. One of them was accusing the other of deliberately sticking and leaning on to her. o.O For Heaven's sake, it was so full that you couldn't even place both your feet together! Although if you find someone who, despite being over-super-closely stuck with random women, looks amused as she's being jostled from place to place or merely having her upper body oscillate to and fro as the train stops and moves, that would be me. I think if we can't escape it, why not enjoy it? ;)

And that's where a recent, most-mention-worthy incident comes into picture. I was once again traveling solo, now completely at ease with the route. I'm not really that dense, you know. One month of the same route does leave an impression and so my brain knows where it's taking me. Anyway, as I reached the holy mother of all stations where you get a real glimpse of the reproduction capabilities of Delhites (err.. I mean you get to see so many people, like so so so many people, the burgeoning population :P), I tried making myself as small and thin as possible to be able to reach the relative safety of the first coach. The platform wasn't very crowded that day. As I slowed down to stand in line, I caught sight of a familiar looking girl looking curiously at me, with that slightly squnity, uncertain expression as if she's trying to recognize me and as we stood looking at each other, we broke into smiles as I recognized her as my childhood schoolmate! I mean, we saw each other after *calculates on fingers* eight years! Whoa! :D The train arrived and I moved into line with her. She got on the train first. I followed. Just that I didn't really follow like normal people do.  

While I was stepping into the coach, I felt my right slipper slipping, but like the lost case I am, I didn't even bother. And the result being I realized I was right-foot-barefoot when I fully stepped onto the train. Turning around, looking for the lost slipper (how genius-ly did they name slipper a 'slipper' -_- ) on the platform didn't have any positive effect and within seconds as my heart jumped to my throat in a familiar 'uh oh', I realized my slipper had slipped from the gap and into the tracks! I stood there dumbstruck and then started looking for my new-found-after-8-years friend, who hadn't yet witnessed my Cinderella story and was standing at a distance! I called out to her, more like beckoned to her and told her what had happened. Through actions! I mean! I was standing inside the train with one slipper with a thousand ladies looking on and I didn't even know where the other one went! The friend was even more shocked than I was and just stood there staring at me like I was some hugely interesting item! Then the doors clicked closed and the lady standing by them said to me, "You know, if you had got down and asked the guard, he could have took it out and you could have taken the next train." 

I sometimes don't understand how can some women be such geniuses. Was she watching my Cinderella moment with interest to blog about it? I mean yes, even at that moment my heart said 'blog it!' but of course my head was more concerned about my present state. And my friend wasn't helping either. So now as we stood there, my friend looking at me so shocked as if she'd done something to me herself and I in my new fashion-trend-setter mode, one slipper on and one foot barefoot, I felt this gush of some funny emotion. I realized how it's not really that bad. I mean, what could be worse? I'd have lost both of them? Many people go barefoot. No, not in trains exactly, that would be a first, but still. People would look, they might laugh but that'd be it. And so I felt so amused about my own klutziness and the way some of them stared at me like I was so amusing to watch (well, I must have been. How many times do you see a girl in a train with one slipper on and the other missing?). The other time I spent trying to make my friend feel relaxed, consoling her that I'm actually okay and kind of used to such stuff. And that I'd actually have something fun to write about! :P It felt weirdly fun as I hopped out of the coach at my station and held my head up and walked down the stairs. Okay, I did see where I'm walking because stepping on gross stuff barefoot would have been hugely unpleasant and a deterrent to my awesome mood. But anyway, I had asked my dad to come take me! :P 

I couldn't have really been that Bond-like and walked all the way to the parking to get Scoot, like that. And that lane is cluttered with gross stuff that gets even more gross during rains. Yuck. So when like dad suggested (because really, it wouldn't have even crossed my awesome mind otherwise), I took the elevator and went downstairs where my dad just started laughing. Right there sitting on his scooter looking at me walking like that. I mean, seriously. What's up with parents these days?

So now that I usually have my friends with me, we do have our own share of metro-fun. We're civilized, all right, just that we get so engrossed in our own talks that sometimes the whole coach could take a learning or two about the stock market fluctuations or learn the verb conjugations in Spanish. Excluding me, people really have loudspeakers installed in their throats. There are numerous fun-instances like the one time it was just us, three girls and while at the station watching a train roll in, we suddenly decided we'd be taking this one. I thought it was ridiculous because we were a million miles away from the train then, but the other two just said, 'Run!' and took off and so naturally I had to follow. Dodging people, skitting across the floor trying not to bump into random bouncy stomachs (ew. That even sounds so ew. I've become so ew!), we actually managed to get inside the train, that too in the first compartment! That was when we were so tired that we flopped down on the floor itself (yeah, it's not allowed but where are you supposed to place three tired-from-running young girls who've got a long way to go?) and that was also the day we realized how huge the world might seem to a tiny animal or creature. Because you know, people do look absolutely weird and big from that angle. And then when some loser girls came in suddenly with a crowd and talked to us in a mean voice for we were sitting (till then the coach was empty. It was not yet full with that mean girl and her baraat, because we don't really take up space if there's anyway a space crunch), we had a non-verbal haughty conversation with her. And then when we saw she'll get down at the same station as one of my friends, we coached her as to how she should walk out, making sure to bump into that mean girl and then run off! :P Brave girl actually did that! ;)

It's good to be back, talking about metro stories! There have been a lot many instances and it's always fun. I mean, how over optimistic can I be? I can find something amusing even in a suffocating metro! I can be so heartless sometimes. I'm glad to be back. You think so? Should I continue this series? ;) 

Monday, August 5, 2013

When you know what it means to feel happy... :)

The past few days, weeks and unfortunately even months, I had kind of lost myself. It might not have been too visible, but I was completely going through a light internal struggle, a new me trying to permeate the transparent boundary surrounding my real self, the self that has always tried to fight the resisting forces, those that force you to believe or act in a certain way. I've always been kind of a rebel, so much so that even if there's a chance that I'd agree to something, I'd still first resist it a little. The thing is, I lowered my defenses and that was when the mean, external forces grabbed hold of me, seeped in through the loopholes and settled inside. I did not even quite know what had happened. There was a big change in the routine with the change in campus and with all the initial excitement, I was going through a million different emotions, unable to ascertain anything for sure, just swimming in them trying to stay afloat. 

Just in the past few days when I could reflect back, I realized how pointless it all is. I mean, getting up with a heavy head at 5.30 in the morning, assaulting the mobile phone and pressing snooze ten times, finally getting up, running out at 7.15 without breakfast (who gets hungry just as they get up?), catching breath only on boarding the metro, keeping a hand on the pocket to ensure the new mobile phone doesn't pop out with all the running (yes yes. I ditched my lovable Nokia for a smartphone. I'll make up a post soon), then Metro-ing, then choosing between walking to college or taking a rickshaw, enduring sleep-inducing classes and then drinking a thousand cups of tea with Parle-G biscuits to keep us awake (okay, it's only in the early mornings), then trying to avoid the monkeys in the evenings, who are so mean they'd drop right by your side unexpectedly and if you have an ice-cream in your hand, don't contest it, just drop it and move away! Reaching home at 7.30 and feeling absolutely dizzy and sleepy. Still staying awake to do some useless assignment where you don't even use your brain because by that time you aren't left with any energy to use your mental faculties, then after a little bit of socializing - or rather, talking to friends who help you survive the days - you drop dead asleep and then follow the same routine. Before you know, a month has passed you by and you're being faced with a week full of mid-sem exams (already!) and then there comes a point when you just don't want to give a damn! 

That's when something strikes and you remember your old self, your previous, uncaring and I-don't-give-a-damn self when you stopped all the things you had to do and just blogged randomly. *Takes a deep breath* That's how it is now. A yet-to-do assignment, three mid-sem tests in the week, presentations and all such useless stuff. I was motivated with the scholarship thingy, that you get a few thousand bucks per semester if you fall into the top six and having earned it twice, I turned greedy. But I realized, it's not worth it. My head hurts everyday, I'm more worried about the fact I'll forget every thing, I'll be useless even after MBA, than actually trying to learn and understand what is being taught. I'm sorry, I can't compromise on happiness and laughter because of this. I can still do well in life, thank you very much. 

It's been a couple of days that I've been feeling exceedingly light and happy, far more happy than I've been in ages. I've dropped the extra, redundant efforts put into college stuff, I've stopped caring about 'other' people, I've been sticking to my promises (mostly), trying to make people who matter to me, smile a little bit wider, I've met and laughed with friends who matter the most-est to me and it feels exceptionally good. I can't help smiling, or laughing at the tiniest things. I don't mind the slight backache when we randomly go to ride a kids' dragon ride and sitting there stuck because the seats are too small, because we're having crazy fun. I have very few close friends. I'm not much of a hey-you're-my-best-friend person. My best friends have all landed in my life from awesome planets from where they were sent to take care of an extremely adorable soul a.k.a. me :P You bet, they're so lucky they once cried, everyone all at once, just thinking about their awesome luck. Okay, I'll stop before I get murdered before even writing in my will where my books should go. Because you know, some of those best friends have got their eyes on my bookish treasures. -_-

Yeah so. One of these special people is about to start a new phase in life, for which we're all super excited of course and we met yesterday to celebrate it. Like one of us said afterwards, 'it was awesome. Happiness, emotions, fun, all rolled into one', which perfectly summarizes those moments. It was just like a closure on all the negativity. I don't just care. I'm cool with everything, I don't want to think about stuff that's tension-inducing. Mind you, you self-obsessed folks-who-can't-just-rest-until-the-world-listens-to-what-they-have-to-say, if you've read this and if you still try to create that pathetic environment around me once again, you're going to get a royal ignore plus a fall in any pinch of respect I've still got for you. I've bounced back to being myself. I think I've put back a stronger cover. You know how when in school, people ask what you want to be when you grow up and you say something that sounds really impressive. Even now when I'm told or suggested by well wishers, some avenues for a career where I can foray into, I'm not concerned about anything but the real 'job' I'd be doing. "What is the work?" is what matters to me. No one seems to get it, though.

Another thing I have always been clear about is that whatever I do, it should make me happy. Call it being self-centered or whatever. If I'm not happy with it, I'm not doing it. I'm not a person who can live with a sinking feeling all the time. I need boosting up, I need great friends for that, I need to feel happy and awesome and light from within. I'm not that strong when I've to deal with separations. I hate separations. If I've ever loved you in any way, I don't want to let go, not even temporarily. Permanence is a killer. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Call it a weakness or discuss it in an 'intra-personal process' class in psych, I don't care. That's how I am. I need happiness and after months of trying to understand what's being going on inside, I think I've found it. I've got amazing family, even extended ones. So welcoming and always loving. I've got some friends I can't think to part with. In a weird weird weird world if I could have my way, I would have set up a nice camp on a beautiful countryside, but with mountains in the distance and woods and streams flowing by, and living with all those I love. No matter who they are or where they've come from. I'm happy, everywhere I look, I see people smiling. The little kid in the park who says a high-pitched 'Hi', the person at the metro station you accidentally bumped into, smiling and nodding instead of staring daggers, feeling connected to everyone you see.... it's all a nice, warm feeling I never want to let go. No matter what you give me, dear life, I know what it is to be happy and I intend to keep it to myself. Forever. :D

A place like this? Super yes! :D :P
PS- Hiya! I've got loads to share. Hint hint: another metro diaries post too! :D How have you all been? :)


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