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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Life is one Round - One Round only!!!

In my previous post, someone commented that life is one round and one round only!!! Upon reading this, I had a realization of the same fact that we all take for granted. We feel, at least I did, that we are here to stay yet we are on a journey and this life is a just one of the paths we travel, with me as always The Lost Traveller! (you can skip to Chapter 4 if you'd like)

Vivek was a young boy looking around the busy streets of Madras where to one side was a large board that read "Thumbs Up - Taste the Thunder". In in adolescent years, he had just learned some English language words and in doing the same he could barely make sense of the slogan. But at least he put the whole thing together and fell prey to the ruthless marketing. The scorching heat wasnt helping and young and naieve Vivek stuck his thumb high up in the air so as to signal to the rain Gods - let your heart lose, pour down and relieve us of this heat. It was March 2016 and we were there for our Sister's Wedding. Now, I still remember this girl from when she would request her homework to be completed and then a few years later wondered which university to attend and then finally as every university graduate stood at the cross roads of "what to do with my life" and one final time (at least academically) she requested me to write her grad-school essay. With that flashback, I was finding it more and more difficult to bear the immense levels of heat and slowly but steadily each layer was clothing was definitely coming off - I had suddenly developed a new found appreciation for lungis and their apt usage in Southern India.

Chapter 1: Getting There
I was making vLogs all along my trip to India, while transiting through Istanbul, Turkey. Now Turkey has a unique proposition for people like me. Now for all of you who know me personally know that I am Bald and to my amusement, there were a large population of men at the Airport terminal were bald as though they had traveled from far and wide to attend the National Bald Convention 2016 however, the only peculiar thing about them all (aside from them being bald) was the fact that all of them seemed to have obtained fresh transplants (hair that is). I was genuinely intrigued and did speak to a few such recipients of fresh hair (while they basked in their manly glory - with new hair) to learn that Istanbul is where the world goes to get Hair Transplants - reliable, cheap and effective (yes - we Indians are cheap and these are the three pillars we use to describe every product/thing - just not people - reliable Indian people dont exist, cheap people are everywhere and effectiveness haha, thats all what we will say about that). But leaving the place where East meets West with glorious spices and mouth watering food, I landed promptly in Delhi. Delhi never ceases to amaze me - I mean every time you go to this place, everything has changed yet nothing has changed - its almost like a confused host that doesnt remember how it treated you last time so shows you every peculiar part of its home each time you visit them. In my case - I was struggling to connect to the Internet. Now to connect to WiFi in the International Arrivals Terminal of IGI Airport in Delhi, one must enter a local Indian telephone number to an online authentication form - which then sends a token (as a text) to your local Indian number that must be entered to get onto the WiFi. I fail to understand how a nation that boasts the largest technology companies couldnt figure this out that International Arrivals terminal will most definitely have passengers arriving from over seas who will most likely not have a local number - so how must one utilize the wonderful Wifi Service. After a few hours of being lonely, I gave up and boarded my flight to Chennai

Chapter 2: Chennai
Chennai is amazing - this was my first trip to Chennai. Me being a bit light skinned goes a long way in getting stuff done. I am almost royalty here for 1) I am Punjabi and 2) I am light skinned and 3) because I am Punjabi and 4) because lets face it I am Punjabi. My friend Vivek was late per usual - after having seen all that there was to see at the airport (which included a washroom, frantic passengers and a few puzzled employees of various airlines) I was almost at the end of the patience when Vivek arrived with an entourage. The entourage was rather large where we stood outside the airport trying to figure out how do we fit my luggage and me and the 9 other individuals into the one car that there was. Now we all know Vivek is over zealous at time (all the time) and doesnt think stuff through and such was the case this time as well - and I am not joking when I say this. We had one of the guys sit on top of the car - cuz the legal limit of torturing human beings was crossed and people just couldn't stay inside the car - so we improvised and had a passenger on top of it. I managed to take the seat next to the driver (to not have to share my seat with any one). We finally arrived at the Hotel we were going to stay at for the next few days to take a deep breath and realize only that - The mayhem finally begins now.

Chapter 3: Chennai 2
South Indian weddings have a stark difference from North Indian weddings. I mean truth be told, Punjabi weddings are not really a Wedding - they are a moment to show the family's wealth, stature and everything else. Women arrive wearing almost every piece of jewelry they own (even that borrowed from women not going to a wedding that day) while men arrive clueless per usual crowded around a bar where all you can hear is "Whiskey Soda" or "Peg Patiala". Children are all over the place - where half way through the festivities Men dont know they have wives and families dont remember how many children they came with - I mean it is chaotic but a ton of fun with all the dances and food. Somewhere in all of this and a Daler Mehendi dancing on the stage there is small event that is the actual wedding. Now in South India such isnt the case, the Wedding ceremonies are actual proper Wedding ceremonies, where the primary objective for the congregation is to actually get married and observe the wedding ceremony (which is hours and hours at hand). To my brain, this was a little difficult to handle so every so often - I would wander about to get coconut water from the coconut (these are in abundance here). If you had to find me anywhere during the wedding chances were high that either I was either by the Coconut Hawker or by the AC - It truly was very hot. All that I could recall from my time in Chennai were two things, 1) Coconut water is an amazing thirst quencher and 2) How weird I felt giving away our Sister, apart from all fun and jokes, it truly brought life to the thought "life is one round only" so love freely, live freely and enjoy each moment cuz life is one round and one round only!

Chapter 4: Today
We have spent countless hours reminiscing about times we could have done something different, yet have not done anything about it differently. I was at a convocation a few days ago and I read a quote on the program handout "Everything is impossible - Until you start to do it". I loved those words where it truly reflected the dilemmas of my life where everything that seemed impossible was eventually conquered - you just need a little bit of courage and faith - the rest is as they say is "History". So seize the moment - give someone the time they are yearning for, smile with that special someone you love, call a friend you havent been in touch with, be weird, be crazy, be your own self, because my friend life is one round and one round only. Give everything you do, your best, dont be afraid to take leaps of faith, dont be disappointed by small failures - focus on the big wins. Plans are great for the corporate world but be spontaneous - this will fuel your heart and life with immense energy. But most of all - be happy, find that happy medium that keeps driving you forward but also keeps you aligned with the person that you are.


Chapter 5: The End


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The Lost Traveler

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Opportunities!!!!!

This and a few more blogs capture my trip to India in 2014, this being the first one. If you want to be in touch with me, write to me at valiantcaa@gmail.com and don't forget to comment!


Opportunities in life are always there, it's just a matter of being able out see them and avail them when they come. You not only need the right wisdom but also the courage to take a leap of faith.

I pulled out my newly purchased cannon dslr camera at terminal one of Toronto airport from where my flight was to leave for India in the next half hour. I have always avoided crowds and quite enjoy my alone time and hence was busy clicking pictures of Planes and "other such things". I then spotted a duty free shop through my lens and wandered in to browse the latest in fashion etc. and acting like a tourist seemed like an interesting proposition. I actually like being a tourist as you can be who ever you want to and act like whatever you want. The chances of you being judged are there but it doesn't matter to you because you may not see those people again; so it didn't matter for the most part. And if you on know me, I am shameless as it is, so acting a tourist comes naturally to me and this time around I was also playing the part by rocking a "I love Canada" shirt with a big camera clicking every thing in sight like a Chinese tourist. Browsing through the magazines, I heard a weird sense of urgency where I wondered why I was here and it then occurred to me that I would have missed all my boarding announcements and hence ran out of the store frantically to find that my bags were being ordered to be offloaded. Given I made it there just in it time, I avoided getting late but could not avoid the wrath of the jet airways employees and other passengers who all gave me dirty looks while I walked down the aisle to sit at my seat. As I sat down I wondered if the other people who ran out of the store with me had made it into the flight. I got up to look and see if there were any more passengers that entered the plane after me but couldn't really arrive at a conclusion if they did. I wondered as I browsed through the pages of the magazine in my hand and then it HIT me. They weren't running with me but rather AFTER me as I had hastily exited the store with a magazine in my hand and they just wanted to either be paid for it or retrieve it. OMG!!!!! I couldn't believe what had just happened but all I could hope for was that I wouldn't be charged for an innocent crime of being a "tourist". An important point to mention is that My seat number was 27A.

A few hours later after many meals I looked up casually to count how many people were in this flight and to get a rough estimate I figured each row would have 8 people and would multiply that with the total numbers of rows. While doing basic math I realized an important fact that I was sitting at seat 20 as opposed to seat 27. Now this is usually okay when you are accompanied by a beautiful something in the seat next to you but is not the greatest when you have a smelly person snoring in your ears. I kicked myself for having Made such a grave mistake of my life. Curious minds are always the best and hence I quickly got up to see what my seat would have been had I not made the mistake. I am not sure if I was angry or pleased at the fact that my seat mate could have been a beautiful young women whom I could have shared so many stories of my life with. Who knows maybe I would have gotten married to her, traveled the world with her but all that could not happen because of my idiocy. In a way it was good I thought, as it had saved me from a lot of trouble from the women I was going to get married to was another thought in my head. But I will always remain me and I was deeply saddened by what had just happened, by an opportunity lost forever not because I wasn't courageous but because I wasn't wise!

As a child I was always mesmerized by the Burger King advertisements where a large burger would occupy the entire screen however always felt a little cheated looking at the snack size burGers that were actually served. Same was the case today when about a half hour before landing the screens lit up and promoted the Brussels airport as the largest chocolate store in the world with amazing amenities and best of class duty free etc. I was anxious to land at the airport to do some shopping and site seeing. Upon landing I was greeted by airport staff and again asked to visit the duty free store. With the massive build up that was given around the duty free store I made it a point to visit it first as I was making a list of what chocolate to buy for whom on my way there. I was soon presented with the largest chocolate shop on earth which was a 10 foot by 15 foot kiosk. I was yelling, "I have been cheated" inside me as this did not appear to be the largest chocolate shop. If anything it qualified to be the smallest. Upon further inquiry I realized, the terminal Jet Airways lands into was a temporary terminal which was only used for third grade airlines.  I felt degraded and cheated yet again but wondered when jet knew we were landing in a shelter of a terminal why they would show us such advertisements. Amenities were only a dream at best where even in a guys washroom the line to use the so called "amenities" reminded me of a "walk-in" doctors office wait times. A person always had the choice of cutting through the line and going about their business but get beaten up on the way out or go to the women's washroom and get beaten up first before going about their business. In both cases the common multiple was getting beaten up I thought in my head and figured it might be just better to hold it in till I made it back into the flight.

The rest of the journey to Delhi was spent wondering what the next month would entail and all that I wanted to eat and drink. It was also spent wondering why when now I was at the right seat (27A) the seat mate was different albeit the wrong one.  I guess fate had it such that it was not meant to be.

I have had a long history with Delhi terminal where I am always greeted specially  and so was the case this time around where I was asked questions around my expired student visa for IIML from last time and mocked. Everyone found it hard for me to have come to India to study which I can never understand why. Further, The baggage belts are always littered with passengers anxious about their baggage with stories around how the food was not so great, air hostesses weren't pretty or the liquor serving times were short etc. and also with porters starting out at the prescribed rate of rs 500 per bag and finally agreeing to carry the entire luggage for rs 100. Conversations around the haggling much like last time haven't really changed and I have started to feel that it is part of genes to do so. The only thing different this time was that I was attempting the same and I could only bring the porter down to 450 for the entire luggage. I guess I am not a natural when it comes to haggling and hence made it a point to just pay if I was only going to impact my wallet by $1 or Rs 50.

Emotions were at an all time high as I bowed down to the ground kissed it and asked Bharat Maa to save me from whatever was ahead of me. A future journey down memory lane where I was going to see things again this time as a person little older and perhaps wiser (some May beg to differ).


A life so long yet separated by a breath, no matter how long we breathe it all ends in a death. As a bird we fly to make a cozy nest, some make it through and some only die trying at best! Life and time are controlled by no one and they always put everyone through a test!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Out of my Head!!!

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Another visit and another few hundred memories later, it is only apt that I write about it. As this train moves down the memory lane part newly paved and part rediscovered, I can’t imagine what life would be had I not walked down these paths. They say life is a common sum of the choices that we make and those that we don’t make, some choices that we make under duress and some that we make whole heartedly.

A curse that I had on me was that all trips that I took were guarded with the mighty lord trying everything in its will and might to mess it up. Vivek often regarded me as his lucky charm, well there was good reason for that, with me around him, he had won a large sum of money the last time we were at a Casino. This large sum of money amounted to a total of $45 USD which when you are broke means an amazing Breakfast and lunch together. By no means we were broke but it doesn’t hurt to gain some much needed empathy from the surroundings and we let no stone un-turned in doing so. Well, he was supposed to land on Saturday yet due to some unforeseen circumstances, wait a second, let me guess what these could be, did the flight not leave on time?, or did it get lost mid air? (there appears to be a lot of these, referring to the latest Malaysian Air crisis – God bless the lost souls). Well truth be told, a soon to be Doctor couldn’t make his way to the Airport on time. Now this is a common occurrence with most of us living in NYC but it is a hard to accomplish feat when you live on an Island where you can go around the entire Island in less than 20 minutes. Sooner than later the man did arrive and arrived in the most grand gesture. Vivek was escorted out by members of the “Humans against Junglee Behaviour” interest group who handed over the custody and advised, I get a haircut before opening him up to real first-world human interaction. Now, hair is a very sensitive topic if u ask me, not because I am insecure in any way but because I wish I had some left to do all sorts of funny things with it.  Oh well!!! I have been convicted of living vicariously through people many times, so it did not even matter anymore and I shamelessly do it anyways. To Vivek’s blessing it was Sunday and no barbers were open but I was a highly determined soul and against his wishes, he found himself sitting before in the chair of a Black barber. I mean, Vivek had just escaped the company of similar people and yet found himself at their mercy as soon as he stepped into the country. I had been following the “Men’s Fashion” section on Pintrest for a while for this very moment. And with a big smile, I pulled out my Board of all the haircuts that I wish I could do and showed it to the barber. Now I wasn’t sure if the barber smiled because he found the hair styles funny or because he didn’t understand why I was dictating the hair style for Vivek. Well, it was one of many awkward gazes that me and Vivek had exchanged over the years and it had now become a common occurance. To prove a point, I soon FaceTimed my gf more so to prove my sexual inclination than to actually speak to her. The hair style in question here was the new trendy, Harvey Spector (Suits Reference) or even Don Draper (Mad Men reference) comb over which I thought would look slick on Vivek. A few frustrated minutes later the barber exclaimed! ‘Man you should cut your hair often, none of my machine blades seem to work and with a pair of scissors in his hand he looked no less than Frankenstein himself. So a long gruesome 45 minutes later (understand that a normal men hair cut takes no more than 15 minutes) the barber took his trimmer out and drew in a line on one side of Viveks scalp. Now, normally I would argue as to what the hell he did but in this case, I was far too amused for that to happen. I could barely stop my laughter however, the moment demanded a calm and composed demeanor and I reassured Vivek of how good the hair cut looked yet inside I knew how hideous it looked. As human beings we are creatures of reassurance and with my Midas touch I ensured that Vivek was on cloud 9 about his new found personality.  This trip also found a close corner in my heart for we took a trip to Pittsburg, a place where we had wanted to travel to for almost 5 years now. But we will pen that another day.

Alive we were, in a shade of death so soon,
Out in the sky brightening the darkness like a full moon…
The shiny crimson of my blood in your hands it bled
Some more times and some more memories this heart shed..
Before this round was over, I was dead…

Well I must say I may be a little out of my head!!! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

a LosT Traveller - Journey

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Note 2: It has been 3 full years since I was at IIM and started writing this blog!!!!! Wow! in the three years the entire landscape of life changed!!!!
Note 3: when you get bored, skip to the last paragraph
Note 4: Leave a comment!!!!!

Hooked on this song - "Dua" from a hindi movie Shanghai - listen to the remix by DJ Lemon!!!

The date finally arrived i.e. it was December 16, 2013, ahead of the New Year celebrations my boy had finally arrived from the scorching heat of the Caribbean (i honestly thought there were 2 r's in that word). Well it seems that these days the only life events that I tend to blog about are about Vivek. Against popular belief i would like to take this opportunity and say that there are other things that happen in my life but I often end up writing about some interesting things that happen and for ever find a very dear part of my memory.

Often foreign travelers show up to Canada and enjoy the cold weather for it was predictable and expected and more often than not they end up here for that same precise reason that we hate the country, cold weather, snow (guess they are not shoveling 80tons of snow each night of the winter break) and just more cold and frigid and sub-zero temperatures which make this place inhabitable at times. But our dear friend Viv who obviously has spent a good portion of his life in Canada decided to show up to the doors wearing nothing more than one of those "hollister" surfing t-shirts and a pair of beach shorts!!!!! I was surprised he did not have people wanting his autograph and a picture at the airport but more importantly, i was questioning how the immigration officers could commit such a blunder and let him into the country with such attire!!!! shoving the bags in my non-drive-able car we set out on a journey of what was going to be one of the most memorable weeks of my life!

My belief in God increased multi-fold when the renters to a place we own decided to abruptly move out and left behind a house full of nothing but junk. To my rescue Viv had arrived and I was thanking my lucky stars for I would have a helping hand in clearing the junk out of the house!!! And I lured viv into helping me out by promising an evenings feast provided we were able to clean the place to the point we could eat off floors. A few hours of tough cleaning and the place was remarkably in a better position than before but the biggest challenge lay ahead of us. It was a big 1980's or so fridge. This fridge belonged to an era when half the things we eat today had perhaps not been invented yet and an era when metal came cheap for it seemed we make appliances to survive a world war of some kind. This fridge was easily a couple of tons and then some and with its current stature it still boasted a cold interior. However this friendly creature which had been a part of every owner of the house before and including us had to go. The challenge was not emotional as many of you are guessing but the fact that this beast was kept in the basement and to bring it up required a considerable amount of effort. I had very high hopes of viv and much as expected, viv looked at me startled and waked away in dismay as if I had asked him to marry me or something!!! "are you out of your mind?, NO i am not doing this" were some of the comments he made. But like every other time, I managed to convince him in helping me bring this beast up. I was also happy that Viv was an engineer and thus he will be able to use his talent and skills to precisely maneuver and bring it up in a jiffy, but 40 minutes into bringing this thing up and climbing only 2 stairs I was seriously doubting his ability of doing anything engineering related and was cursing the university who gave him the degree!!! One way or the other using my superior skills and precise presence of mind, we were able to lug the beast up and put it by the curb side.

In the next few days, we attended more parties than I had attended in my whole year combined coupled with multitude of bdays. My tally of people I knew who had bdays in the last 5 days of the year was in double digits now and I was looking to find answers as to why the moms couldnt just wait a few days or was it that the summer months brought the romantic side out in humans to the point where accidents like such were much more prone to happen. Now dont frown, we are all adults here!!! or are we? hahaha... Mary's house party was highly anticipated cuz we were promised that the food will NOT be hosted by Mary. During our last expedition to her place, she had graciously presented us with the food that she prepared which I kid you not would have been tasty provided it would not have been over cooked by a whole 2 hours! Me being a good sport and supporter of my dear friends efforts was the first one to reach the garbage can and proposed we order pizza for the night. However, this time ammi had prepared some delicious food which Mary tried her level best to take credit and redeem herself. Well they say that a truth prevails and Mary also slipped for she came and inquired how the "kofte" she prepared tasted. Startled!!! i looked at my plate and looked at Mary and wondered if she was inquiring about the "kari pakore". The redness of her ROJEE cheeks was marvelous for she knew she had been caught.... and me being an amazing friend made sure everyone found out about it... laughs, smiles, a few games later we all headed out reminding ourselves of the epic night we had!!!

The very next day was another games night at a 47's house where folks seemed to have developed psychic powers. During a game of charades people seemed to be guessing names of movies before anything was even acted!! The efforts of the people were very commendable and memories of that night was impeccable. Acting out the movie "kamasutra" was proabably the hardest of them all and like grade 6 kids every adult in the room giggled looking at the ceiling and pretended they were all comfortable with the idea of such a movie being acted before a large audience.

This day was also Boxing day and the day the deep freeze started in Toronto... and for days to come Toronto was buried under frozen ice during which period many homes lost electricity and may lost a a tree or two in their front/back yards.

For the the remaining 10 or so days, Viv and me did many things together among them was a trip south of the border for shopping. Now the deals were so amazing that we could hardly resist ourselves from buying everything in sight but since we were a day traveler customs had a $0 limit on imports and thus bringing all the purchased merchandise and declaring it would defy the entire purpose of going there thus, we developed an ingenious way of bringing things back. We wore them!!! the efforts took about a half hour in total and unbelievably we wore about 12 layers of tshirts to top it with a sweater and a jacket followed by 4 layers of pants each. We were hoping they didnt request us to come out of the car for we would shamelessly walk out with tags sticking out of our shoes, pajamas and hats like we had just raided a store and ran out! At the border I was questioned by a rather disappointed officer who seemed disgusted by our shopping declaration of $60 the exact dialogue was as follows:

Officer: how long were you there for and where did u go?
Me: 3 hours and a couple malls
officer: how mcuh did u buy?
Me: $59.67
Officer: Thats it really? (eyebrows raised).
Me: Yes
Officer: Hmmm. wow Okay go ahead!

I mean to our defense, we are guys and we can shop $600 worth of stuff within minutes so this was no big deal.

Exiting a little while later we took the load off our bodies and repacked the entire merchandise that we wore and was now making us sweat like Niagara falls underneath.....

From that point on the count down began to viv leaving to when I dropped him back at the airport for his next journey of about 20 months or so. Sometimes in life you are so blind sighted that you forget what you have and what the cost of achieving what you want. The cost is often only calculable in hind sight when both money and time have been spent.  But perhaps they also say that there is no cost to chasing a dream and one should never live with regrets. We too live with many regrets yet read one of those fb pictures and learn to believe that we have no regrets in life. Every second of our being is blessed with decisions, some of which we are not so proud of yet others we could not have survived without. Then there are people in our lives who we are better of not being in touch which is contrasted by those who we would not even imagine a life without. In this so called journey of life we meet many people some of whom may not be around anymore yet you wish for their goodwill and health with each passing second and wish you could turn time around. A conflicted life I/We live and each passing second is on loan so smile and embrace your presence, fly high like a kite without any reason, live life to the fullest, chase every star in the sky and make every dream of yours come true......

crying a prayer so loud that god turns around
and all i have to say to him is that i am hell-bound
this life may not have been so perfect
hope there is a chance for a second round!!!!

Ajeeb daastan hai yeh!!!! Kisi ka pyaar leke tum, naya jahan basaaoge. Yeh shaam Jab bhi aayegi, tum humko yaad aaoge..


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Impossible is nothing - well!

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It indeed was a very nostalgic feeling going through the transborder gates at T3 of pearson international where i spent a lot of time working.  I have often regarded it as the incubator where dreams were dreamed and built thereafter. 

But lets start from the beginning, where the real story actually resides. So a day before on Thursday, I was at Viveks house packing all sorts of masalas and other things which are considered staple in most parts of the world including parts of Africa. I was packing, almonds, corn flakes amongst other things such as blenders and all sorts of 'GITTS' mixes. Now one might think that all of these are available at your nearest grocery store which in the case of most torontonions is the next corner strip mall, thanks to the great advances in Indian Grocery shopping experience that there is no real need to go India, they bring India to you. But the real question wasn't that the question to be asked was more along the lines of why I was packing all these spices and dosa and idly premixes? Well I was visiting Viv the next day and Food as you all know by now is very important.

In Viv's case it was even more important because the man had decided to run off to a remote island in the Caribbean, where the cost of a litre of milk was more than buying a whole cow or buffalo (based on your milk drinking preferences) in North America. I often wondered what the people there drink or eat and my thoughts were worse than those United Way, "$1 can can help a child eat for a month" commercials, although in this case $1 could only possibly buy you the rights to watch someone eat or drink. But that wasn't the case either, apparently 12 pack of beer was cheaper than an ounce of milk it seems, well I guess we can always substitute beer or other forms of liquor for milk any time and wondered if there was any scientific evidence to prove the same in some "facts of the day" column of Coffee News paper.  If you have ever read those copper colored coffee bean news papers you would understand what I mean to say.

So after packing an entire grocery store in the bag I wondered if I was really going on a vacation or I was a spice merchant exploring new and unknown lands where dairy exchange was probably a far more lucrative business deal. Oh well packing almost every thing in sight, I stopped over at my barber to look all super great for the honeys I was going to meet (or NOT). =). Sorry for the heart break ladies but, lets be honest we got to do what we got to do. To bring me back on earth my barber reminded me of how I should probably carry a hat or else my nice and round bald head will probably catch fire of some sorts in the 60 degree Celsius heat of the Caribbean. I almost hard a Eureka moment where I was happy and sad all at the same time. Happy because I was going on this spice merchant trip nice disguised as a vacation and sad because it was going to b very very hot. For a creature like me that likes ambient temperature I.e. anything over 15 degrees and below 25 degrees is game, anything other than that, probably not, this was probably not the best affair.

Left my barbers place around 10, to come home only to repack and find out that I only had room in my laptop bag to pack things for myself which at this point included essentials such as; well on a second thought lets not get into that cuz the list will raise many eye brows and will be frowned upon by others.

Now,  when have I travelled, and not had an issue of some sorts? I think I am jinxed for everywhere I go, trouble follows me. It seems trouble is always looking at me singing "every smile you make, every breath you take I'll be watching you". Well the first time I heard the song, I thought, what a romantic song. But the more I heard the more creepier it got to the point where an in an interview the composer admitted that the song was never meant to be romantic. Do check out the song for I think it is worth a listen especially if you have lived in the shadows of spy disguised as a bf/gf who are always snooping thorough your stuff. Don't shake your head and say, "oh buddy, you are in big big trouble for writing this" I mean after a while the difference between love and pain often diminishes and I have found a fine balance, which includes investing in a good pair of stealth ear plugs. I mean you can't get mad at things you don't hear right?

Well, getting back to the problems that I faced, as I do have to rant without which life just doesn't seem very fulfilling. I had booked this flight in June at some point far ahead of when I normally start procrastinating.  The flight was supposed to leave Toronto to Miami at 6:30 which demanded me to be at the airport around 4:00 am. I got to the airport all sleep deprived to find myself standing in front of this check in machine. Technology is supposed to make life easier for people but this piece of equipment was something else I thought. After swiping every possible way I could swipe my passport I gave up and started the manual entry possible. Quite typically I was looking at the line up to see a real agent and where I would have been had I chosen the option to see one. So after 10 minutes of trying various permutations and combinations I finally gave up with 7 pieces of paper that read "please see a check in agent", I guess this machine was not really helping anyways. Slowly yet steadily I got to the front of the line and to get the best seat possible, I put my "I am super sexy at 4:00 am smile". I was a bit worried for my bag was 6kg over weight much like the gate agent but what ever I said.  "Sir you don't have a flight with us today. The ticket you showing was cancelled". The 4am smile quickly turned to "I will get all gorilla on you women if you don't put me on this flight right now". Anyhow she tried various names that someone could have possibly tried. Now this Asian women right behind me key jumping around like a monkey who did not get his banana as there was only one check in agent and I was hogging her time. Well to end the misery of some 60 people behind me, the agent said, "sir, we sent you an email that your flight was moved to 11:30am." Oh! Did you I replied but in my mind I was like you lying sac of shit, you think i was born yesterday. In reality they had over booked but decided to move me, I guess the spice merchant had to wait a little longer to begin its journey, and a journey indeed it was.

In about 8 hours I was at st. Kitts and as soon as I got out of the plane, my initial reactions were "WTH", "Seriously" etc etc. I had suddenly developed a great amount of appreciation for the North American airport workers for the immigration people worked at a snails pace.  It took them about 1.5 hours to clear out a 21 passenger line up. As soon as I got out, Viv was waiting there to receive me. We quickly loaded the baggage into the van and went towards the ferry which was supposed to take us to Nevis at 9pm sharp. Well the only thing that happened sharp at the islands was delays for the ferry didn't leave till 9:45 because the driver had decided to take a longer dinner break at the expense of all those waiting to be transported across the ocean. Well, this was only the first of many incidents but I will describe them in some blogs to follow.

Seated inside the van, there were many questions that my mind asked per usual. Mind is a very funny thing where it is inquisitive, afraid and risk taker all at the same time which proves to be a very deadly combination. Anyhow, so my MBA brain thought what the 'cost of dreams' is, now dreams are good to have but when does the cost outweigh the benefits of it. Lost in these thoughts I looked at Vivek who wiped his forehead of all the sweat for it was 38 degrees and humid for it has just rained. The guy who wouldn't take the car with me sometimes because it has no ac in Canada sat here struggling because one virtuous day a light bulb lit in his head which said, "lets become a doctor and Mr. man showed up to the island sooner than later. What about the other dreams, dreams to become a P. Eng. for he had just joined the "iron ring on the pinky finger club of engineers" and dreams to one day do something bigger and make a great living in Canada, dreams to be a part of people who mattered on a daily basis, dreams to dream....

Questions are many, I thought!, yet answers seldom really point us in any direction for the answers are only right in hind sight. I myself wish to dream dreams as large one day for my dreams are often limited to "wonder what's for dinner tonight?" Which was exactly what I thought as we stepped out of the van to walk towards the ferry to realize how sea sick I can actually get.

Life throws many curve balls at you but in my case the last few years had all been curve balls and sometimes a different game altogether. I wished that my friend could one day save a life of someone who matters to someone who also dreamed that someone was there to help them cure their illness.

Wishes are many yet dreams only a few, the more you dream the more you know that nothing is impossible. Absolutely nothing!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A moment that Smiled... A Lost Traveller

You know what! there are times in life when you look back and wonder wow! how was it that I was able to do that. I was reading one of those quotes and feel its pertinent to mention it, "you seldom remember nights when you slept enough".

Such was my state, a night spent woken up tickles my memories and begs to be penned. As I look out of the window, I see plenty of cars passing me by just like the times that only finds a sweet spot in my memory. My memory is starting to fade of that time of that trip of that time I remember as India-2011.

I was so psyched to be attending my cousins wedding in Jammu, I had just finished my exams at the Indian Institute of Management and had just begun discovering facets of life I did not know existed. Fully packed with stuff that would last me a month, for trip that was going to be epic, I showed up at the IGI airport for a flight from Delhi to Jammu. I took the blackberry out of my pocket, "blackberry" needs a special mention here as it captured some the best moments for me in its not so great camera, and called my Uncle that he should come and pick me up from Jammu airport in an hour and turned my phone off. I had been in india for about 2 months now and was well accustomed to the culture and things-to-do and things-not-to-do. Because of my over-preparedness, I had decided not to print the Boarding Pass but rather have the ticketing agents do it for me. I knew it was a dumb idea to begin with but lack of time and procrastination were at the pinnacle of my decision-making process. As I reached the counter, I was greeted by a beautiful smile of the airline agent, I looked at her lips, which were tastefully decorated with bright red lipstick. I had heard earlier that Mr. Malya (Chairman of Now almost Bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines) hand picks the agents and the crew and I was much in appreciation of his decision to do the same. He was by far doing a better job hand-picking the staff than actually spending time in running a successful enterprise. "How may I help you Sir" sounded like an angel begging to grant me a wish and I wanted to wish for so much, but for now, my only wish was to get my boarding pass printed. I extended my "Canadian" passport in hopes to impress the agent and hear some ooo's and AAAAH's, instead all I heard was, "Sir you do not have a ticket in the plane today". I smiled back, (this is not the normal response I give) and said, WTH..... (well it had hit me by now). I booked the ticket, I had a confirmation on my email, and to top it all up I had paid a huge sum of money for it. The agent tried different permutations and combinations of my name only to finally give up and say, "sorry sir, we cannot help you." I was furious and I pulled out my Blackberry to show her that I indeed have a confirmation. After looking at the confirmation number, she replied back again with a bigger smile and said, "Sir this ticket is for next year, ONLY. In India, you seldom do things because of a rational reason, like adding an "Only" at the end of each sentence. Why did you book so far in advance? I cant send you on this plane 1 whole year in advance". Almost instantaneously, I took my "Rohit's-Book of Shame" out to document this happening. I had mixed emotions right now for I had just looked like a complete idiot in front of probably the hottest girl I had seen in a few months, more importantly, it was my Cousins wedding the next day and my only option at this point was to Board a BUS which would get me to my destination in time for their wedding anniversary. I tried to look at a few avenues to get to where I needed to be and my only resort at this point was to catch a train late at night where there are no "train hostesses". Even if there were any, sadly or not, they would have been picked by our Honb. Railway Minister at the time, Mr. Lalu P. Yadav. Big Smiles and lets end that there.

An 8 hour ride in an Indian train can be very hip and happenning because you make friends and enjoy your time doing random things. My luck was such that I was put in a 1st class cabin with 2 old people who were highly concerned that a lit bulb in the cabin would ruin their scheduled 9pm sleep. Sonner than later the train arrived Jammu. Now Jammu is pretty hip and happening, not because of its great night life, but because it has the highest number of insurgents per ca-pita in India. Jammu n Kashmir was once coined by some poet to be "Heaven on Earth" well, I am not sure if he meant it literally or  figuratively because you could easily be killed and it would be No-Big-Deal.

The preparations started early morning for my Cousins engagement party and it was the first time in 10 years I had seen all my relatives at the same place all at once. It can be an overwhelming experience for us Indians show our love my pulling cheeks and kissing cheeks without worrying if we have brushed our teeth or no! Well, its family i guess, I told myself and wondered if I brought my facewash with me or no. Soon after all the customary hugging, kissing, bowing and smiling, we started getting ready. All this trip, I had imagined how important of a person I would be for I had come from a foreign land and perhaps I would get 5 start treatment for being me. Well, you guessed it, with my luck nothing as such happened and I was charged with the responsibility to ensure I arrange for morning food for everyone. Now, there is a reason why I say Morning Food and not Breakfast. Breakfast in North American or most western cultures is bread, toast, hash brown or corn flakes or something light. Us Indians have no such concept, for us it is probably the biggest meal of the day, with paranthas and chole bhature etc. you see the reoccurring theme of food? Yes, we punjabis know one thing best and that is Eating.

Well the rest of the day was spent ensuring that the festivities ran as expected with little or no time to eat or check out other girls from the grooms side. My intentions are always wise and pure, its just that time is seldom on my side and yet again it wasnt. Well, I thought it was the other party's loss as they missed an opportunity to have ME.

I was joined by Akhil next morning as we had plans to visit Vaishno Devi, considered to be one of the purest places per Hindu Scriptures, it was a 20km hike on a mountain to the Temple. It was quiet an exhilarating and breathtaking experience to witness what I did. For a moment, I had a feeling I was close to God. As we ascended the mountains, it got cold and chilly but the Hot Coffee from the various Cafe's on the way sometimes supplemented with 'dhaba tea' kept the blood flowing and reminded me of the time when I had visited this Temple with my parents many many years ago. Reminded of a time when prayers to God were for a bigger birthday present than for bigger things in life. We visited the temple early morning with my own requests and requests of others who had sent their "Hello" to God via me, some of who had never visited yet longed to be there. On our way down, there were many questions that my Mind asked off me, Many that I answered in a quick second and many that are still unanswered. In the quest of those answers and to ask more questions, I kept marching ahead only with a promise to return someday to fulfill my end of the bargain some day.

With memories so fresh, I can still feel that cool breeze against my face, every emotion that I felt and every breath I took. A memory of time etched ever so permanently in my memory that I smile when I think how life has changed since. All what could be and all that has been. Well, they say that everything happens for a reason and reasons you seldom find. I have stopped searching for the more I search, the more I am lost, lost searching for an answer that begs a question, lost searching for a question with many answers.....

________________

Signing off - a lost traveller

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'm in Miami Beeeach.......

 “lost I was, lost I am chasing a star ill never see, crying to be what I could, watching a dream I couldn’t see” - read on and it will all make sense....



Sat in the aisle seat of this Boeing 737, I was reminded my trip from Lucknow to delhi about a year ago today. I looked around and said to myself, a lothas changed yet nothing has changed. As then, I sighed and said to myself what a whirlwind the last week or so has been. On Thursday, my manager sends me an email saying would you like to go florida? I was like hmm what? Who? Me? What kind of a joke is this? And the next two days were spent in the anticipation of this trip. 

On Friday I got a message saying that the trip may not happen but we should still prepare for the trip. Given the fact that am pretty lazy and don't really like to work on the weekends, I don't bother turning my laptop on. But this weekend I checked my emails every ten minutes or so and nothing really came my way. Sad but unbroken walked to my office to realize that the travel agent had booked our tickets etc etc. Now came an important question.. Where is this florida place, I mean I have heard about it and everyone talks about it but honestly where is it? I went on Google and searched Florida..... And what i saw there must remain a desire of my heart. The beach, the place, the palm trees and the girls wearing those palm trees' leaves. Oh in a minute I jumped up to get a tanning lotion, but I sat back in my seat soon after. Well I am already pretty toasted by birth.. Don't really need tanning what so ever. But the thought of the beautiful palm leaves umm okay the girls in those leaves still paraded my mind. As I was still daydreaming about all the possible things I was going to do and all the horticultural activity I was going to undertake,the phone rang... Honey! said the voice on the other end! Oooh! Fml said the horticulturalist inside me... My ever so pretty gf was on the phone. And obviously I heard the grocery list of do's and dont's. Trust me there were no do's in that list. For the sake of time and my mental and physical well-being the young handsome and ever so vibrant man, appreciative of natural and not so natural beauty decided to just watch a few more videos of "I m in Miami bitch".  But men will be men and I will remain me..... I still searched for "places to be". 



A few more wonderful emails and telephonic conversations, mostly full of threats, later I had decided. BETA! The outcome of this excitement will be disastrous to your health... Only cuz of all the emotional atyachar (trauma) I would have to go through...  The night fell and I packed like I was going away forever (I wish). Booked my taxi ride to the airport. OH! Airport is a story that deserves a whole chapter on its own but we can squeeze the relevant parts in here.

Airport is where I worked all through high school and undergrad and part of MBA. Airport is where I was at 4am every Saturday/Sunday morning and it is because of airport that I could not really be out on Friday’s. Anyhow, long story short, I still remember airport as an incubator of my dreams, dreams that I saw with open eyes filled with desire and hope. The days, where dreaming was just something else (just like most of us), you could dream like there was no tomorrow. You could be a businessman now and a doctor another second and be launching a NASA shuttle a minute later.  Dreams meant soo much more, the opportunity was limitless and sky was not the limit, the aspiration to go above and beyond and the wish and will to be something. Aah! What were those days and where had I lost my childhood I wondered as I sipped a cup of coffee and walked around a bit more to see everything that I had missed every Saturday morning for the last couple of years. The signs to buckle up came on as I lost myself thinking of how life has changed, seated in a Boeing 737 headed to Miami Airport…. I m sexy n I know it! Was one of the thoughts…. Followed by, “lost I was, lost I am chasing a star ill never see, crying to be what I could, watching a dream I couldn’t see”


Credits: BB Playbook for providing the infrastructure to write this!