Saturday, 12 September 2009

One Score. Next is what?

It's a mere technicality, this three hundred and sixty fifth day, which we most convieniently choose to honour and celebrate an entire year which passed and to resolve to make the future happier, replete with smiles all around. These are empirical observations then, which propose that the sun has reached the exact same point it held when I was born into this world; observations which when repeated one score times throw you on the other side of twenty. Trivial though this day seemed a fortnight earlier, it is one which marks the end of one great score and the beginning of another. And thus, it is with great veneration for life and the future that I begin writing this post.

After spending seven years, a mighty thirty-five percent of my life, under the aegis of Teenage, I am finally booted out of that society by people who now can lay substantial claim of being younger than me. I still believe I left the tutelage of Teenage last year - this same time, as I am supposed to have completed a score now and have been living my twentieth the last 365. Nevertheless, it is only now that my age will be displayed as '20' on the loose paper stuck on to the side off my compartment on a train back home, or on a flight ticket. Sentimental and foolish, though it seems, the weight it carries seems to be profound. I can quite empathize now with the kid on the Twelfth of September, 1999 as he reaped a dual-digit age for the first time.

A Facebook quiz taken yesterday brought back fond memories of childhood, one which still provides me with a feeling of safety by remaining close by, though deep within I do realize I shall never be able to back back to them. Reminiscing about my G.I.Joe collection (which still lies stashed away somewhere in the attic), the Blyton books (I still recall vividly tales of Pixies, Brownies and Thirteen o'Clock), plasticine, my first ambition as a kid to become an engine driver and losing my first milk-tooth brims me with a sense of deprivation before I realize the importance of these memories. The place each of these events hold in my heart is perhaps the same way I'll feel about each of these blog-posts once I reach two-score and more. When we see a memory, we more than just visualize it; we feel it. Each of these small acts, however trivial and trifle they seemed back then, has helped mould me to what I am today. It is with great honour and love that I recall each of those black-and-white sequences.

I remember bro (who is a Sagittarian) saying when he was a kid, "Anna, your birthday comes before mine. So you will become older before me!" He is the same kid now, who wishes 'Happy Twentieth' me at the stroke of twelve... Looks like we all have grown. Change once again proves itself the only constancy in this ever mutating world. Only a fool would want to stay at a point forever. To go on forth with ambition for life and a prayer on our lips and to 'look back at our past with smiles, not tears' (Lord Cautley) is forever the gospel. Happy twentieth to me.

P.S. Thankfully, my non-reading phase is over with the coming of 20. Many books for the future, hopefully.

P.P.S. The weather's condition is wonderful, a clear contrast to that of my back-side.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

La Gare Du Nord

I expected a blast of cold air, or at least a chilly October-ish breeze. Instead, a 95% R.H. welcomed me with open arms to the great state of J&K. It wasn't my first visit to the state (and neither should it be my last) but everytime I reach Jammu, I somehow expect blizzards and Yetis even though I'm sure that the odds of those happening are about the same as a tsunami in Roorkee. Nevertheless, I was decieved once again.

Hemkunt Express was expected to reach the Jammu Tawi train station at quarter to five, a deadline - I'm quite sure it met, because, when I was rudely shaken awake sometime later by someone who looked like he had come to clean the compartment, the train was pretty much stationary, not to mention empty. An expletive for the man and an ejaculation of gratitude directed upwards (for making Jammu the last stop) later, I alighted, groggy and fatigued; drag-bag and all. The stares I obtained from the few people waiting on the platforms told me that I much resembled the Muddlehead from Petushkee. Undeterred and unfazed by my hostile environs, I continued to stumble forth towards the fat man in khakhi who stood by, what looked like, the gate. I must mention here, that the station betrayed no signs of this being the capital (if only Summer) of the crown-state of India.

My cell-phone battery was dead and I needed to contact Dad who I was to meet as soon as he alighted his own train from Delhi. The problem was I didn't register his coach number, the train's timing or even it's name! The lack of a timepiece and my inability to tell the time by looking at the stars and the moon, lead me to approach the previously mentioned fat-man ('FM' henceforth) in khakhi (who plays a wonderful part in this tale).

I: "Uncleji, time kya hua hai?"
FM: "Mere haath pe ghadi dikti hai kya? Time pooch rahe ho!"
I: "To time kahan se pata karoon? Actually, main train keliye wait kar raha hoon."
FM: "Mujhe pata nahin... Idhar-Udhar dekho. Kahin na kahin to mil hi jaayega."

I assumed he was talking about a clock, and not the train, and proceeded to follow his wise instructions. The quest for the elusive clock in the railway station followed and luckily, I wasn't to be disappointed. Within five minutes, I had indeed zeroed in on the location of a clock. But what I saw alarmed me! The clock (I swear) read: 4:61! I didn't bother checking whether it was A.M. or P.M, of course. Hapless and lost and running out of time, I ran back to the only source of information I had.

I: "Sirjee, yeh phone ko charge karna hai. Plug-point kahan milega?"
FM: "Kaunsa SIM Card hai?"
(I didn't think it was his business. Nevertheless)
I: "Airtel Prepaid."
FM: "Idhar dekho." (Suddenly switching languages) "The Airtel SIMs of India do not work here. And our SIMs do not work in their states!"

I was so baffled by his latest vocalization that I collapsed on my suitcase. India? Jammu? Passports?!

However, the next few words just about escaped my mouth.

I: "STD or PCO booth? Where can I find one?"
FM: "Arre, samajhte nahin ho tum! Hamara desh bahut gareeb hai... Idhar aapko booth-vooth nahin milne wala."

I was utterly devastated after the chat and began thinking up ways to beg, borrow or steal my way back to R, which seemed like heaven now!

However as the story goes, I travelled a kilometer outside the station premises to locate an open PCO. I made the call and intercepted Dad's train. The remainder of the journey went quite uneventfully with the climb from Katra proving to be a wonderful experiance once again!

I finish off this post rather hurriedly as I have two exams to write tomorrow. Happy Onam to all. Jai mata di.

#1. This is part of my pre-exam stress relief exercise. And yes, I remain sane.
#2. According to the Hindu calendar, I have completed 20 years on this Earth today.
#3. Chelsea is depicting sheer class! Hope it lasts. It's beautiful football.