Monday, August 27, 2007 

On Tour - 2/2

The Taj Mahal’s designers had a great sense of magnanimity in overwhelming a visitor. From the point where the rickshaw dropped us, its almost a one km walk up to the main entrance. At the entrance we saw that there were different ticket rates for Indians and foreign nationals. Usually you just look at such information and go on, but we actually had someone with us who could qualify as US citizen. Our gujarati bhai harry. I asked teased harry a little saying that he should pay the 25$ that all foreigners were paying, but he being a typical Indian and a baniya was unperturbed. We went inside with Rs10 tickets for all five of us.
The sight of the Taj gets to you at first glance no matter how many times you have seen it. It’s a thing about the Taj that it doesn’t seem like its that big on TV but in reality it is huge. As most of us were gazing the beauty of the Taj, the little one among us was shell shocked. Harry actually had one of those pics taken of him holding the Taj from the top. He gave the photographer 100 bucks and he asked him to meet at the gate when we are finished seeing the Taj and he’ll give him the bill. We roamed around the Taj, got a guide as well who told us some interesting things as well. Once you enter the Taj that’s when you realise that there is not much really to see, but just absorb the finesse of the craftsmen who made it. We finished watching the Taj inside out got some photographs from the camera I told you earlier and came back to the main gate where the photographer had asked us to come.
As we came out we had sort of got separated, harry had gone looking for the photographer, some of us had gone to the loo. Then I spotted harry talking to a policeman, more of a constable as I made my way towards him the policeman had ended his conversation with harry and left. I inquired as to what it was all about and harry told me. Basically Harry is like 6feet tall, pretty healthy in those days, with moustache that resemble American convicts and he was wearing his Laker’s jacket which gave him an overall foreigner type look. So the policeman asked him where he was from. Harry told him that he was from
India. I said then what. Harry said the policeman was not yet convinced so he asked him “acha batao India ka President kaun hai?”….and Harry said I replied with the masterstroke, I told him “its Atal Behari Vajpayee”. It’s difficult to find actual moments in life where your spine rather than just stomach aches due to laughter. The four of us can still feel the tinge in our spines from laughing so hard that day. Thankfully harry had met his match in the policeman or else we would have been sitting in the nearby thana for all we know.
We then went across to the Taj to have some food, it felt delicious although it was crap as we were hungry. Harry also bought a small Taj showpiece for all of 10 bucks, for which he was very excited too because for the first time he had bargained for something. And money saved it directly proportional to happiness for him. From there we headed to the Red fort as its almost a ritual to see both places. There is a saying that there exists an underground tunnel from the Agra Red fort to the Delhi Red fort, but no one has a clue where it starts. We though the guide might tell us a bit about it, but even he knew little apart from global fundas. By the time we had finished with the Red fort seeing we were pretty tired and roled out on the grassy lawns around the fort. There are some nice pictures of that lawn where we are relaxing. Reminds of a time when things were easy.
On our way back we were down to just four people as Sahu was to head to
Jhansi. From Agra virtually every train going southwards goes to Jhansi so Sahu was away quickly. We were a little tired from the standing journey to Agra so we decided to get reserved seats on our way back. As I was standing in queue for reservation the teller guy told me to switch lines as there was a special line for Taj express. I switched lines waited for 20 minutes in the other queue and when my turn came the window closed out. I went back to the first queue demanding a reservation as I was in a queue where I could have got a ticket for Taj as well. The teller said something to me that I didn’t like. Nothing really nasty actually. But since we had time to spare we decided to take on the teller guy. We entered the reservation office I told the incharge that I want to register a complaint against the guys behaviour. I was just trying to unnerve the guy so that he says something more and my case becomes stronger. I kept arguing with him and the incharge and Zubin also slipped in. then Zubin was getting high on pitch. But then we decided that the train was about to come and we relented and told the guy that we are letting him off. We laughed a lot as soon as we came out of the office. Not because we were doing something out of the ordinary but because we had just had a fight for almost no reason.

After we boarded the train all of us were so exhausted that I don’t remember much of what happened after that. I remember sitting alone as the Taj has 3x3 seats so I got a seat on the other side. I must have been savoring the good times. Maybe just to write a blog one day. A great day it was and more so because it was not the way we had planned it to be, but maybe because it unfolded right in front of our eyes. I think the feeling of control and independence were the main outputs of that excursion. Or maybe it was just the day that brought us closer for years and years to come.

P.S. : This blog is not about Harsh Mehta neither any attempt to tarnish his image of the real stud boy of the group. Haven’t seen him in a long time but they say the baby has reduced the umber of pounds around him. Talk about ‘wonders of the world’.

Sunday, August 19, 2007 

On Tour

It has really been a relentless two weeks for me now. I have had a lot of trouble at work, and I have this inkling that I might be on the verge of being pushed out of my work. I, however, think that all the trouble surrounding me has not been for much of my fault. But that just makes the situation worse in a funny sort of a way. Now I don’t even know what I have done wrong. Apart from the unrelenting burden of work I have been trying to put together an application for a masters course in the US. I have completed some stuff but a lot is still left to be done and as always I am running against time. As I was going through some old folders of mine trying to locate some documents I might need for my application, I stumbled upon this photo album. I had been searching for this album for quite a while now, and it almost came out of nowhere. Against the run of play if I may.

The photo album is from a trip to Agra, the Taj, I went with some of my friends in 2nd year. It was just another trip actually, but as I sat down to visit those times again it filled me totally with a nostalgic emotion. Zubin, Andy, Sahu, Harry and I had decided in the late hours of a Friday that we will go to Agra. Much of the credit/discredit for making the trip possible has to go to Harry, but then again much of the credit for making the trip memorable also goes to him. In the wee hours of Saturday we left the hostel and reached H.Nzm railway station. Basically all trains going south or west generally go through Agra, so getting a train was not going to be a problem. But since we had gotten slightly late we decided to go aboard the Taj express itself.

Sahu, andy and I were relatively familiar with train journeys without reservations, so funnily enough we had no ‘reservations’ about it. I don’t know if Zubin had travelled in congested trains a lot but he sure would have in congested roadways buses so he was cool. But we realised that we were also carrying a 200 pound baby with us, harry, who had never seen a congested train let alone travel in one. So four of us were able to mould ourselves well in the jam packed compartment, but our baby had some initial trouble.

As the train slowly left the platform I remember telling myself that this was my first trip with friends in my life. Be it for just one day. So I was excited. Sahu was basically accompanying us as he was to move ahead to his place in Jhansi when we were done with Agra, so he was happy too. Zubin used to be very cheerful at all times then, Harro was as I said acting like a baby who is going to see the wonder of the world and just can’t wait to get there and Andy well he is never too excited about anything really.

During our journey to Agra, Sahu and I started discussing if Taj express was the best option…”abe Mangla se bhi ja sakte the”…”par fir 9 baje tak rukna padta, haan jagah mil jati usme”…blah bla blah. Andy is always short of words so he was quiet as ever. And then I heard the conversation between Zubin and Harry. As I said before Harro was coming across as kid, but it really felt like a grandfather and a grandson in conversation. Zubin was narrating the entire story of the Mahabharat to Harry, who listened in extreme excitement. My knowledge about Mahabharat is only as good as B.R.Chopra’s, but Zubin had done this whole thesis on it. But it was really lovely as we all listened carefully to the whole story starting from Shantanu till the end. It was really an amazing experience.

As we passed Mathura, standing virtually on one foot at a time, the congestion loosened up and we got to sit finally. We were a little tired and left the bakchodi for later in the day. We set foot on the Agra railway station and I was still feeling excited that I am on trip. We took an autorickshaw for 45 bucks from the station straight to Taj Mahaal (the extra ‘a’ for our firangi dost Harry).

Some really exciting stuff followed, I will talk about it soon in the next post.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007 

Against the run of play - Part 2

So let’s pick up from where I left last time. To summarize – lappy not working, GMAT screwed, fan in room not working and monetary crisis. My story was going from bad to worse. I was actually amused at the kind of stuff that was happening to me. The real blow came about a week ago.

I had been losing interest in most things and the biggest of them all was work. I was spending a large amount of my time in office in playing stickcricket (a really nice time pass by the way for all those who could never hit boundaries :P). I was not paying too much attention I suppose and maybe I stopped caring about my work a little. That day my manager confronted me one on one, politely though, and pointed out so many mistakes in my work and more unfortunatey the inconsistency in my approach to work. He was right by all means. I usually accept my mistake and go on, but that day I felt like I am not cut out to make it big you know. Lots of people believe that I have potential, but I guess they are wrong.

That night I talked to a couple of friends and inquired how they were doing. None of them sounded in as bad a shape as I was, but they still had their problems. That when it occurred to me that everyone might in fact be going through the same thing. Maybe at different points of time in life, and I realised that I was taking myself way to seriously. I told myself to get over myself.

It didn’t work though and I was still feeling low. But just as I was about to give in there was finally some good news. My laptop repairer told me that I will have to spend only 3000 to repair it albeit temporarily. I realised that an electrician shop is available at a 100m distance from my place. Ofcourse GMAT scores could not be revised, but then you can’t have everything life right?

All this was probably enough for me to forget that the time before was pretty bad. Although the time now was not really celebration like either. I had a match to play last Sunday. I woke up at 5 in the morning to be ready and on the ground on time. I reached my place in gurgaon and locked my car keys inside. The match was anyway cancelled as it was raining. So I basically had a 100km drive.

But today things really started to look up. I mean not that I cracked anything. We had a feedback from our clients and he was not satisfied. You would think that its another reason to go down the sad lane. But I didn’t. I was actually pretty happy as I generally am when I am criticised. Me and my team had a great laugh about it, but it felt as I was back. Back to that lovely place where I can laugh off a failure, and rest assured when I am in that place success also comes by to visit.

In the last month or so I have only been planning about what I am going to do the next day. I was really not in the mood to plan something as I thought that if the planning goes in the drain as a lot of stuff has been going lately, it will bother me even more. But now I guess I can come out of that shell and start to plan in to the future. I guess the important thing to learn at the end of all of this is that it is not the end of this. Such torrid times will come and go, you just have to get over yourself and look ahead.

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