Pages from the diary of an outstation driver

Fiction

Hi. I am Raj. I am a tourist driver in Gujarat since the last 3 years. Not enough experience about knowing roads. I am Just 25 and not really keen on driving, since roads is something I am not great remembering at! I took up this profession because I am from a family of meager earnings and my father left for his heavenly abode before I had a choice to pursue a career. As they say, your profession need not necessarily be your favorite hobby. When others in my generation are taking trips, my profession needs me to cater to their needs.

At times, I stay awake all day and the subsequent night because you have deadlines to reach. All this when majority of you are snoring in the back seat complaining of a tiring journey. Sometimes I even have to skip meals when there are no budget restaurants on our way in the interiors of Gujarat. My stomach grumbles as it listens to your munching chips in the back seat. But only some of you are decent enough to offer me a bite of your snacks. I feel grateful for such passengers boarding my car.

Majority of the times, Gujarat being the state where many Hindu temples are situated, my passengers are pilgrims. Peace loving, but real task masters when deadlines are concerned. I have seen so much of God in the last 3 years that I no longer feel compelled to visit the temples. I prefer waiting outside when you are praying inside, only joining in to have lunch in the dharamshalas. After all, it is almost free of cost. Initially, I used to feel guilty about my indifference towards these pilgrim sites where throes of people visit from all over India. But now I have developed a habit of using these tiny breaks to enjoy a dose of tobacco that keeps me awake for rest of the journey. The God that you are praying inside knows my dilemma and no longer feels offended about it. He knows that if I am drowsy during your trip, chances are that you may not need temples but directly visit him up there!

When you check in dharamshalas for the night, many of these do not have a driver’s quarter and I have to spend the cold night in the car while you are resting in a cozy blanket. But I do not complain, because that is a part of my job. Some of you show pity about how unfair it was to let me sleep in the cold and think about letting the authorities know. You talk in English so that I may not know what you’re secretly discussing. I smile within when I understand each word of yours but still maintain a straight face, glad that at least some of you have a heart and maybe my next visit here will be a better one.

I laugh on your jokes but still miss my family who are waiting for me to end my trip and spend a couple of days with them before I can go off on the next job again. I buy innuendos for my kid back home who awaits my arrival each fortnight with shining eyes expecting gifts and stories of my travel. He thinks his dad has the coolest job in the world to be able to roam different places and earn from it as well. He is still young to know the difference between travelling on your will and visiting because your work demands so. I do not intend to ruin his fairy tale this early in life so I let him believe his dad is the luckiest guy, secretly promising myself that he will not be taking up a forced profession to feed his family.

At least, that much, the Gods I visit will make me capable of doing for my son!

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Vacations!

Yesterday morning, the Monday Blues were severe than ever. More so because I was recently back from Mom’s place after my vacations. I was forever in a lazy mode for the whole week!! When at home, I was a perfect example of a buffalo lying in the pond! I only left the jhula (swing) at my mom’s place for drinking water. That too, when the brother was not around to pass me the bottle.

So, it was difficult for me to wake up, cook, care and take on to my responsible adult hat! Just last week I was baby of the family and had my tiffin ready for me before it was time for me to leave the house. Breakfast table set, a seven course meal in my dabba filled with lots of taste and maa ke haath ka pyar! Thank you, Mom! You are the reason of my vacations being truly relaxing. Who needs a spa when you can have an awesome head massage with her firm hands! Her home cooked food can give the restaurants a run for their money. The opulent house that is the pride of Papa is way more relaxing than any resort!

It’s amusing that a life so laid back, that you always took for granted, has now gained so much importance that one week is all I need to re-energize. True, that the simplest things in life are generally the most pleasurable. From the days starting with the shouts of Shweta your tiffin is ready, wake up or you’ll be late for work… To the nights ending in daddy’s hugs and a quick movie with the Brother amidst his gossips… the sweet reminder that a spinster’s life was not bad really! But having Mr Husband and The sister in law, only adds to the pleasure of being around people you love!

However lazy I might be, I knew I had to make up for all the unconditional pampering that Mom had given me for the entire week. She loves shopping. So I took her out to window shop majorly in the markets where we used to roam aimlessly during my spinster days when we had nothing better to do. Shop by shop, we went hopping as if shopping would soon go out of fashion and this was our last chance. We finally ended up buying some kitchen innuendos and dining table mats! However petty it might be, shopping is shopping! And it is not complete until you slowly unwrap each parcel and display it on the bed. Taking in the visual of your wares and seeking pleasure. And we did just that!

Having a family around is God’s little way of showing you how fortunate you are, to be loved, pampered and cared for. To have something worth to fight for. To realize that no matter how many years, some things never change!

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Present, Sir!

I have been off from blogging since so long now that I feel guilty of not writing! And thus, this today. I have so much to share, so much to vent, so much to write, but my mind is such a jungled mess. Thoughts keep on pouring in but I am unable to puke them out in writing. I am too occupied, with office work and socials. When I am traveling I have this increasing urge to complete the book that I am reading and take up the next read, eager to race to my 100th! I find myself increasingly excusing myself from my blog! But I miss posting so much. I keep on promising myself to be regular only to procrastinate further. I am right now in a busy and contented space and I love it. Of course, I keep on having a feeling that there is so much to do and so little time. I thought I may as well bullet my haywire thoughts!

  • April had been crazy, work wise. Deadlines to meet, anticipation of review and appraisal. And too much work in general. And yes I did get promoted too! All this toiling hard did pay off. But then, I did not exactly mind that I had to toil, because I love what I do. I am a few of those insane people who love their work. Shweta Shirodaria, Manager – Operations! This sounds soooo nice! Yay! My dad takes pleasure in holding my visiting card and rolling the designation around his tongue like a kid who has just learnt a new word. And that is exactly what I yearned for!
  • The Brother finally is done with his MBA and is back in Bombay for a short stint before he shoos off again for his job for which is placed in Pune. Gearing up for some teary eyed farewell already! But we did manage to have a heart to heart discussion about everything under the sun. I realized I would miss him so much. He’s the constant vent out machine keeping me sane.
  • Much to Mr. Husband’s annoyance, I finally squeezed off a week to have a stay at Mom’s. Of course there is office, but being at mom’s place had made me so lethargic that all I did was laze around. Also the amazing lunch dabba mom prepared each morning was the envy of many. As for me, I was more than happy to gorge down all the yummy food without having to sweat for it in the kitchen! Calorie meter was not cared at all. A princess’s life it was! Back to the grind now. Hey! I am not cribbing at all, since we tend to value these little stays only when they are scarce!
  • I finally did something which I never had before! No, not any adventure. But a little thing that I did not really think I will ever do. Meeting a stranger! I got a chance to meet the awesome Pepper and we yak yaked our way to glory! After planning a meet for like so long and adjusting our respective (very) busy schedules, we finally met! And I am so glad that I did. It is a great experience to meet someone new, totally unconnected with anyone you know. I never knew it was so easy to exchange thoughts without being judged, without caring what others might think! Loved the meet!
  • I also managed to earn the wrath of die-hard Salman Khan fans and have a heated debate about his sentence. I fail to think the loyalty these ‘fans’ have that abandons all logic. Also, Salman not going to jail strengthened my confidence in the Indian Judicial System and its (un)lawful (in)justice. Too tired to even rant about it!

This sums up most of my absence in here! Hope to be more regular than I recently am. I miss this space too!

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MY CHOICE…really?!

Now now, before I start typing this one…let me clear out a couple of things.
1. I am pretty addicted to my smart phone but I am not ‘smart’ enough to type out a post from in here. So you are supposed to ignore the formatting errors, if any!
2. I have been neck deep in work and haven’t got enough time to post my rants.. err thoughts. Even this one was on my to do list since a week! You may find this a little obsolete, but what I have to say…I simply HAVE to say! So… Here we go…

After too much of being said and written about the Deepika Padukone Vogue Empower-My Choice video…I had to actually take the pain to see it! I am active on social media and all but there are some things I choose to ignore until and unless they are shoved right in my face! And his one…good lord…everywhere I saw people had an opinion about it…some outraged…some stood by it and some were confused about why the feminists are not really bragging about this video! After it was like too much, I decided to see it finally!

And here’s what I have to say about it! I so love Deepika… And the black and white direction of that video! Her hair looks exactly the way mine do when I wake up in the mornings! And till now…I thought what a fright they were..but of course with the likes of Deepika having the same hair style, I look fashionable to myself!

Now now… Let’s get to the point! Apparently Vogue…the brand that endorses stick thin models and almost always carries an article about how to lose weight and how to look fabulous does this video which is supposed to depict women empowerment! Gah! Contradictory their latest cover has a ‘bold’ sonam kapoor showing off her photoshopped assets which Papa Anil wouldn’t really be able to frame in his living room! Also both Vogue and the protagonist of the video Deepika belong to an industry which objectifies woman to the maximum extent as possible. There is a basic disconnect about the issue they are handling. Its like Mahatma Gandhi endorsing a barber’s shop. No offense!

Well the video is directed impressively… have to give that to Homi, but other than that it misses to set a connection. “To have sex outside marriage? My choice?” Well, infidelity is something you may not like even if your boyfriend is practicing. Why does it have to change for you?! Just because you are a woman?! Nah!! And why bloody a size 15 female is shown as pregnant? Can’t a woman not be pregnant and still be fat?! Even in empowering woman, they hint her to be fat only when pregnant! Gah!

Feminism is a very misunderstood concept. It does not mean pulling down men. Rather it means equality with the other sex. And in no way I feel this video brings out that. Instead it just passes on ambiguous statements with powerful background score accompanied with Deepika’s sultry voice screaming to be noticed.

All in all…the final product is an untangled mess of vague statements which say absolutely nothing about empowering women!

I rest my case!

Posted in Thoughtful Me | Tagged | 8 Comments

Open Letter to The Indian Cricket Team

Dear Team,

Let me skip the usual “how are you’s” and get straight to my letter since you must be really tired after a grueling world cup trip. And also the emotional baggage of losing the Semis is a huge one! I don’t think you will be welcomed with garlands on your arrival in India, but don’t get demotivated. We still love you, just that we have an extreme reaction to everything for a few days. And then, we forget! Take care guys!

Yesterday’s was an epic semifinal between you and the host country, Australia. I must say they played really well. I get shivers down my spine when I even think of the pressure that you’ll must have faced when you were out on the batting field! And more because cricket has a cult status in India. We worship it as a religion and people do not view it merely as a sport. We have semi-Godified Sachin Tendulkar. We have built temples in honor of our favorites! And you know how it is with religions and Indians, they do not much know the meaning themselves, but you say something against it, and they are out in full form with spears and rods.

Let me brief you on the events while you’ll were away practicing in Australia. A day prior to the semis the media here was showing our efforts for the next day! No, not the practice of the players…But the idol worship, the mannats and the innumerable oil lamps that cricket devotees offered to various Gods putting all the sincerity in their prayers! All of the 33 crore Indian Gods were put to work just for winning the semis! All this and more and the media covered it with a passion uncalled for! Not only the religious ones… But even the working professionals displayed a show of this madness. Most of the sick leaves were utilized yesterday. For once, I found empty trains and vacant roads during peak hours of weekdays! And the ones who were compelled to work on the day (read: the likes of me) had conference room TV put to good use for once! One Australian wicket taken and the cubicle seats went empty to have a replay seen in the conference room TV! Such Joy!! The day of the semis was a national holiday of sorts. Such is the cricket mania in India.

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Conference Room TV in my office…

And this is also why the repercussions of losing a match are high. We don’t wait for the law to act but burn effigies of cricketers who are accused of match fixing. We pelt stones on the houses of the players if we lose. We display insanity with an aggression of the rioters. People weep as if death of someone in the family has occurred! Some others break their TV units. Many others create memes on social media ridiculing the Indian team! I say, guys, this is a country of hypocrites! Do not pay heed.

How easily we forget that all of you, the same Indian team was the reason for our joy in the last 7 WC matches! How our chest soared high when yet again, you’ll gave us victory against Pakistan and we proudly declared that this was as good as winning the world cup for us! But, the cricket human in us is never satisfied! How ungrateful we behave and accuse the girlfriend of Virat Kohli for diverting his attention and for his disappointing performance in one match! How easily we abuse the AIB roast but attack the cricketers and their families openly without thinking the loss they must be feeling! How simply the voyeuristic cameramen zoom in on the distressed faces of families of the one who has just lost a wicket and is returning back to the pavilion! How simply we forget that there is a father yearning to see the face of his new born, but is out there, performing in the world cup!

Guys, all this and more, should not let you down. As they saying goes, we win some, we lose some! I am proud of you, guys! Your performance was worth an applaud. And welcome back, with a head held high!

We have to prepare for World cup 2019 and also for the innumerable entertaining matches in between. Bravo Team India! Chak De!!

– A proud Indian!

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Taking life as it comes…

Disclaimer: I was thinking out loud when I wrote this. A one-off, a psychoanalytic post. Stop here if you do not want my fun loving impression on you to change. If you think it is preachy, you may actually be right.

Read the disclaimer again

OK. So you are sure you want to read this? Go ahead then….

There are times in our life when we sit and brood about life not going the way had planned it to, about not getting where we think ought to be at this point in life, about not having as much as the other person who started with us has. And mind you, this is not only the material things or luxuries I am talking about. This includes peace and success even.

I may sound old and dull, but I have so many instances when I thought I had ‘planned’ it all and there was no scope of anything going wrong. Just when you start gloating about your planning, something gives you such a cruel blow that you are back to square one! And all I am left with is a sullen face which is similar to someone badly wanting to go the loo and the toilet being miles away.

I over analyze everything. I constantly worry about things going wrong and always imagine worst case scenarios. I imagine a horrid situation even if it is way deep into the future and my chances of reaching there are remote and slim. For instance, I am petrified of death. Sometimes a thought crosses my mind how bad it would be if I did not have a ‘normal’ death. As in what if I drowned during some adventure sport or got ridden over by a truck when I am on a long drive. If this thought is insane, wait till you read the next one! Where would I find myself after death? If it works the way just like the scriptures and religious texts describe, I am surely to be poked with that sharp weapon by a devil in hell! See. That sort of madness I am talking about. The never ending paranoia.

But when I am out of my reverie, jolted to the present, I am suddenly sane enough to infuse in me the thought to take life it as it comes. Obviously neither my death nor my address thereafter is in my hands! Then why spoil my present fretting over what I am unable to decide on and about something that isn’t in my control?

I have learnt it the hard way to take life as it comes. I have noticed it has made me very content with the space I am currently in. Of course, it may not always be the same the way it is today, there will be lots of responsibilities waiting to burden me on my way, but why think about those now? Agreed I may even make mistakes, but life doesn’t really come with an instruction manual, does it?

I love my husband, my family is loving and in great health. Heck! I even love my job and the work I do. I am privileged to have access to amazing books to read and I have a mind to absorb and learn new things. Mind you, there is nothing to laugh about when I say I have a brain and the ability to think and eyes (although bespectacled vision) and legs and hands. I am thankful for each of these and more because pity washes over me when I see physical disability around. It may sound really preachy but we do tend to take things for granted. I had done a about post this. And till date, whenever I re read it, I feel grateful for all the things that I am blessed with.

PS: No, Dalai Lama’s soul has not possessed me, this is still me, the same confused person who is the owner of this blog for two years now!

PPS: Apparently, this blog turned 2 today!! Back to insanity and my not-so-perfect-but-awesome-life!! *hoots*

Posted in A Toast to Life, Thoughtful Me | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Bringing in the fourth year…

We celebrated the third birthday of our wedding a couple of days back. THREE. A big number. Mr. Husband was in his most unusual form and I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary. He is the one who isn’t really excited for planning surprises since he feels the best way is to gift something of one’s own choice. So my presents generally involve him taking me for shopping my own gift! And I am the one who is always keeping secrets and planning inane stuff for him!

This time, however we had a role reversal. I did not really plan anything special. Behaved mature and expected nothing but dinner at some new and fancy over priced restaurant charging more for its ambiance rather than its food! Never mind since, boss, anniversary and all that jazz! All was routine till the clock struck 12. I had an intuition that Mr husband was planning something what with all his hush hush phone calls and stuff. I was sure it was nothing but a “surprise” cake cutting plan with cousins and friends around. Because that’s where surprises end for him! Not being ungrateful, but that’s how he functions!

I geared myself up for it! But when no one turned up we retired in our room, a little dejected that I assumed my surprise. But I was in for more! Mr husband had a fabulously decorated bouquet with cosmetics he knew I wanted to buy! The rogue! He planned it with one of my closest friends and the sister in law, since he ain’t an expert on what quality and shades to buy! When I was still getting over the awesome feeling of a ‘surprise’ gift so thoughtful, he revealed that he had booked us a weekend trip in Pune! I couldn’t believe him until I saw the confirmation mail myself! Exhilarated already!! What a start to the fourth year!

We had a fabulous stay and should I add the best feature of the stay was the soak tub in our extra large room where I lay listening to music like the world has stopped! And also the dinner date with him on our anniversary night, all decked up and ready for fine dining. And much much more of which details need not be divulged. *wink wink*

Whats more! Even the return back from the trip was more than satisfying given the sudden change in weather. Cool winds with rain showers on our way made it a pleasant drive. The weather accompanied with our little sun roof car altered my mood and I was back to being a kid again, with Mr. Husband driving on expressway and I leaning out of the car with the wind in my hair and a huge grin on my face!! Life’s little pleasures.

Sometimes this is all you need to de-stress…and of course, an amazing Husband! Cheers to our being three! May the madness continue 🙂

Posted in Chapters of Life, Travel Tales | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Shamed Again!

When the whole country is outraging against how AIB has shamed our “culture” and how it has hurt the “religion sentiments” of people, in a remote part of the same “cultured” country, a woman is getting brutally gang raped and murdered.

Her skull has been broken, sticks have been pumped in her vagina and condoms have been stuffed in it. Her body is decomposing and is serving as a feast for animals and rodents, and we are forwarding WhatsApp videos of Arjun Kapoor bad mouthing Raghu Ram. When the sister of the mentally challenged victim is running pillar to post to file missing complaint we are protesting to pull down AIB Videos from YouTube.

If you think, the rape case that I just described is gory, read the full story here. Stomach churning and vomit inducing. Even reading about it makes my skin crawl, what must have the victim suffered is beyond my wildest imaginations!

I am appalled at the amount of rape crimes we have been reading and dismissing like just another incident. I fail to understand, are we not taking any measures to curb these crimes? And if we are, why are they not working? Why is the number of instances on the rise? And why are the cases getting nastier and more traumatic by the day? Not even 2 months of the new year and we already have more than hundreds of rape cases to our yearly record. One of which is more trauma inducing than the infamous Delhi Gang Rape case.

What is it that is encouraging the rapists? Is it our laid back attitudes? Or our super-slow, as-good-as-a-show-piece judiciary system? Is it our ever friendly and heroic police department? Or our long speeches and social media marketer but no action government? I am at a loss of adjectives.

I do not even have a heart to say “Rest in Peace” to the victim!

Posted in Vents and Anger | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Lost & Found

I am generally very careful about my stuff. Even as a child there seldom had been instances involving me and a “pencil lost in school”. Losing things was the prerogative of The Brother. He once forgot his entire drawing bag in an auto even when the traveling distance was just 5 mins. I always have one person at any point in my life where I have to be the responsible one and take care of their belongings. Childhood had The Brother and now it’s Mr. Husband who has vowed to forget a couple of umbrellas during each monsoon!

Now now.. I am not here to rant on how careless these special characters in my life are. Rather I am penning down an amusing instance which had me being an exception to the ‘careful one’ rule!

My love and hate relationship with the Mumbai Locals is put down in various posts on this blog. This incident adds one more chapter to it. While returning from office last week, I was on an automatic mode and wasn’t thinking much. My brain was resting after a tiring day at work. I got down at my destination and strode my way to the auto stands.

(A little background: The train had only one more destination to cover before departing for the opposite direction. For the ones in Mumbai, it was a Churchgate – Borivali train and I got down at Kandivali. The same train departs for the opposite journey. Meaning it comes to Kandivali again in almost 20 mins, albeit on a different platform)

Back to the story now.

After galloping some snacks from a nearby vendor to satisfy my hunger pangs, I waited in the auto queue. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten one of my bags in the train. And 15 mins had already passed since I got down at the station.

My senses awakened and I sprang in action. Panicking, I ran towards the station ready to jump in any train which was on the platform. But common sense prevailed and I quickly etched out a course of action. I went to the station master who was busy gossiping about his wife with a colleague. The look on his face told me that he was in no mood to entertain my plight. So, with a fake smile I requested him that it was really urgent and I had forgotten an important bag on the train shelf.

He finally relented and consulted his railway timetable list as slowly as possibly he could. Each passing minute was important for me and he took his own sweet time. Finally after what seemed like ages he said two words. 6:50 PM.

It meant that the same train was bound to return on the Kandivali station at 6:50 PM. I consulted my watch which said it was already 6:49 PM.

Like a warrior on the verge of losing a battle, but one who never gives up, I ran as fast as my legs could take me near the compartment that I had boarded earlier. As the train neared the platform, I could hear my heartbeats, partly due to all the running and partly due to the anticipation of whether this train is the same one. Had my bag caught someone’s fancy and was whisked away either by a kleptomaniac or by a concerned passenger who was wary that it may contain some explosives? Or had luck favored me and the bag still lay there, untouched?

I boarded the train and the pleasure that I derived from seeing my bag sitting serenely at the same place where I forgot it, was just indescribable! Phew!! All the efforts finally paid off even though I had a mini adventure of sorts! I rushed in, took my bag and got down the train, all in a matter of 20 seconds.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Yay!

PS: For the curious ones, the bag had my tiffin box. Now, don’t you ask me why such a hullabaloo for an empty tiffin bag?

After all I had a reputation to protect which was in all probability on the verge of being tainted by a silly local! hmph!

Posted in Blah-Blah!, Life in a Metro | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Imperfect and Happy

I like sharing good experiences. I am also good at ranting against people who do not mean anything to me. But writing about my own sour experiences takes enormous efforts. May be it is human nature to ignore what is unfavorable. It often takes me massive courage to accept the fact that life is not always as perfect as you wish it to be. So are relationships.

I and Mr. Husband often have petty tiffs on matters that are silly. Adults cannot be expected to fight on such inane topics. We are closing on 3 years of our married life and I may take liberty to say that ‘blissful’ is a very wrong word.

The day we fight leaves me with a sullen face and a lot of hurt. Mr. Husband deals with it in his own way. He goes into a shell. He isn’t great at expressing his thoughts and being mum suits him better. He is always at fault from my side of the story. On the other hand he feels I overreact too much. We do not resolve issues. We just stop behaving like adults and keep on sulking forever. To make Mr. Husband talk about ‘issues’ takes gigantic efforts. He merely stops talking about it and that is his way to move on and forget. I need a closure and till that time, the argument stays inside me. Poles apart, but that’s how we function.

There have been many instances when I have punched him tight and given him a black eye in my thoughts.  In reality, we just shout on each other. When things settle and I remember the episode, I am way beyond embarrassed. I feel like we behaved as possessed souls and barking dogs would have been put to shame had they heard us shouting!

But the best part about these fights is the patch up. A simple sorry or a hug does the deal. Yes I know, I am forgiving that way! I melt like butter if the person in question tries to make amends. I love the way Mr. Husband lowers his guard. They say a woman is fragile but they have not understood yet that there is nothing that can be easily wounded like a man’s ego. And when the same ego is ditched, the feeling it gives is that ‘forever’ is not an illusion.

This is how relationships ought to work. And this is why fights are inevitable in any relationship. So that you can patch up and emerge out stronger… So that you do not take each other for granted… and so that the spice stays alive!

This does not even a bit mean that I am not happy being married. I am married to my best friend and there is nothing more I could have asked for. But marriage takes adjustments and it definitely is easier when the devil is question has once been your friend. You can bully him, too, which otherwise you may not be able to. This makes me being in a bigger favour of love marriages.

Posted in Chapters of Life | Tagged , | 11 Comments