Sunday, 25 October 2009

Thank you for being Happy

When you step out of K.K. Manzil at #3333, Anegundi Road, Mysore, the road stretches from the seemingly quiet Eidgah area to your left into the bustling old city market area joining Sayyaji Rao Road, right into the middle of a speeding life where standing still is punishable by death. And this transitory road passes right by my doorstep. Facing me on the threshold of my home is another house which is almost half the age of my century old manor, and is known through the ages by a catchy name. Sher Ka Bungla (The Lion’s Bungalow).The reason for this name is the relaxing lions built on the corners of all the bungalow’s roof.

Towards the left of the Lion’s bungalow, one can always find a few rickshaws waiting.

How many times I have travelled to school or college using these rickshaws, I couldn’t count. There were 3 auto drivers I remember specifically. An elderly man named Sardar Bhai, who drove an old front engine spluttering vehicle. Maula Bhai, who was a maverick among the drivers, and the third one whose name I never asked, but he always smiles when he sees us, so we’ll call him Hasmukh Bhai (spare the eggs).

This time when I went, his smile was as prominent as ever. He had been sitting in the nearby tea shop, talking to the passers by and the tea shack frequenters. He saw me and walked with a quick step to his vehicle. Greetings were exchanged and he asked me how I was, where I was coming from, and where I was going to. He made a passing comment how I didn’t see him the last time I passed by from that place.

I asked him how he was doing. As we ask almost everyone. He replied with a reply he probably gave everyone, but the tone was as though it really mattered to him that I asked.

He asked me about my life in Dubai, and my job. And that is where I started feeling queasy. I tried changing the topic from MY life to the happenings around my old area. I asked him how was Sardar Bhai. I could sense his smile go quiet, he turned around with a grave look and whispered that Sardar bhai had passed away almost a year ago. Then he turned back around to keep his eyes on the road. And he proceeded to tell me that from all the people I knew, He was the only one still about. I didn’t dare to ask him what he exactly meant. He figured my queasiness and changed the topic, He told me about how people who used to give them new clothes (read used clothes) during festival time, forgot him and his friend this time around. This was followed by small talk. But my brain was already in hyperspace. Far far away from the snaky ride up the DhobiGhat area, my mind was free running through the past.

These men, seemingly unimportant as they may seem, at one point of time, played a very important role in my life. They were, metaphorically speaking, the men who gave me piggy back rides in their rickshaws to and fro the places I had to go. Agreed that they charged me, but what separates this relationship from a pure business transaction, is that even today, after almost 6 years, they still care to ask me where I am, and smile when they know that I have progressed from a uniform clad school boy to a decently dressed young man. In that smile, they give you the warm feeling that even though life for them is at its saturation point, that they have done all they could and this is a last plateau of their career graph, they still are very happy to see that your graph is snaking upwards.

My own uncles probably wouldn’t grin as much as Hasmukh Bhai did.

Needless to say, guilt hit me like a bolt out of the blue. I felt guilty at how I had used them. They had given me a step up, and not only had I taken their hands, I’d taken a step on their shoulder, paid them for it, and moved on. And never as much as thanked them.

That’s right, it all comes down to a little feeling of gratitude I never had for them, or showed them, which made me feel like a miserable pathetic materialistic human that I am.

How much would a rickshaw driver earn?? How much property would he leave for his children? You can answer that question as well as anyone. We stand on the threshold with potentially the whole world before us, our entire lives waiting to be “cashed” in. And these men are at the end of that road, without having made any contribution to their lives.

Yet, they made a contribution to my life. And the best part, they never rubbed it in, or felt jealous that I had moved on, while they remained pinned to their fate in time.
This made them much better human beings. Humanity is derived from being human. And if smiling at other people’s fortunes isn’t humanity, I don’t know what is.

I said a silent prayer for Sardar Bhai’s soul. And an apology, that I never really thanked him for being happy for me. How he passed away, how many people attended his funeral, what his family went through, I may never know. What I will know is this, that he left a mark on my heart. And I know that I am not the only one.

When someone wins a major award, they stand up and thank the Almighty, their parents, their friends and family members, their pets and lovers (I’m making no connection trust me).
But if we all looked into our lives, we all have a Sardar Bhai and a Hasmukh Bhai who’ve made maybe a miniscule, but a pivotal contribution to our lives.

This is a big thank you from a lousy human, who might never have the ability to undo this aspect of his past, to all the people who made a contribution to me.

This is to all the auto drivers, Sardar bhai, Hasmukh Bhai, Maula Bhai and Saleem bhai (My school automan). To all the baker men who gave fresh hot piping biscuits on cold nights and cold drinks on warm ones. To all the provision stores guys who were a source of love in form of stickers and teasing jokes amongst the boring days. To all the maintenance and non-teaching staff in schools and colleges whose eyes pop wide when they see me so grown up (physically atleast). To Ibrahim bhai at the canteen, with his sons, To Babu bhai at the photocopy & tea shop and Chandru at the STD Booth, to the bus drivers in my old school, and To the didi who cleaned my messy room and helped me tidy up my stuff, I love you all, and sorry I am so late in realization.

Thank you for making me the person I am, and the person I will be.

May Allah reward you for your deeds, forgive your sins, bless you in this life and the next.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Take a Hike !!!!

Each one of us, at some point of time or the other, emulate someone famous.
This is the story of me emulating Robert Freaking Frost (excuse the tone)
I for one do not hate the guy, I mean, he was nice. My legs on the other hand, beg to differ.

Thursday 1st October 2009.

I was to go home from office, and I was stone broke. Stoopid bank didnt want to transfer my money, knowing that I'd be waiting for it. Oh well, shit happens right? So what do I do...easy, I have awesome roommates who are like brothers to me, so I can hail a taxi and allow them to pick up the tab and score brownie points with the guy upstairs.

I could choose a "route less traveled by."

Robbie Frost wouldnt have written that poem if he hadn't taken the Other route. And I wouldnt be writing this if I hadn't either.

I chose the latter too. To Walk ! From work to home, or atleast to a point where I could say to myself WOW !!!

For those who do not know, I work within the trade boundaries of the Sharjah Airport International Freezone. Which is in one corner of this meteorological hell, and I live in Dubai, the other corner. From my office to Dubai border, its a distance of roughly 8-9 kms if I choose the highway, which is frequented by cars whose drivers have to take a leak, ergo rushing at atleast a nominal speed of 120kmph. Or take the route into the city and then onwards to Dubai, slightly longer, but a piece of cake (HA !!) And yet again I choose to be Frosty.

I take off from my office at 5.30 pm. And as soon as I step outside the gates, I realize that i've been pretty much on a liquid diet the whole busy day. Wicked !! Here is what the route looks like when you step outside the freezone authority

That horizon is about 2 kms away. And continues onwards to exit onto the Emirates Highway bridge which will take me straight into Dubai. An "Easy Peasy" Grin crosses my face.. The moment I stepped onto the pavement of this road, I was shaken awake from the grin with a car whooshing by at the speed of a dog from a neutering doctor.

The walk to the Bridge exit took abt 30 mins. Good speed I thought. I stopped on the bridge for a bit of a lookie at the sunset. And that is when it dawned on me, what I was doing was for a reason. A lesson by the Boss upstairs. You see, the week was going pretty rough. And I was in for a rough weekend too. The sunset always fills me with a calm (yeah I know everyone says that) and I looked into the dusk thinking of the simple rule which governed time. Sunrise n Sunset. So it had set, no one in the world could do anything about it. But it will rise again, and yet, no smartass in the world can do anything about it.
In that moment I realized, No one can control my bad time into lasting forever. And no one can prevent the good days from dawning even if he is named George Bumbling Bush. Thats simple philosophy, yet, the effect it fills you with, i.e. a HOPE FILLED SMILE. That is pretty powerful.

I took a prayer break and gulped down liters and liters of cool water from the Mosque taps. A weird thought came to my mind, about the bladder being overloaded. A phonecall from my brother distracted that.

The walk continued, pretty much uneventful until I reached a bridge called National Paints Bridge. I stood there and watched the hundreds of labourers and bachelors milling around the shops. Most just sitting by on the pavement in the humid evening (although it was a cool atmosphere, within the industrial region, humidity is always there) For a moment i was shaken by the living conditions which were so crowded. And I saw them laughing and doing their weekend chores with casual carelessness.
A line spoken by someone wise came to mind, everyone is fighting their own battles, in their own ways, in their own worlds.Also a line from the Quran which says that No soul is burdened beyond its capacity to bear, yet no one is free from tests and problems to solve.
Shitty human tendency,that we tend to feel better when we hear that we're not the only ones having Gigantic Crap in our lives. Again, another smile, this time, one placing a reassuring arm around my shoulder saying I wasnt alone.

I continued at the same speed for another hour or so, occasionally stopping by under bridges to watch the cars zoom by. I was probably passed by a few thousand cars every hour. Trust me, heavy rush on weekend evenings. A particular car caught my eye, or rather my ear. A Red Toyota Supra with a specially loud silencer (oxymoronic on purpose)

I crossed the Sharjah-Dubai border and I could choose to stop. Yet somehow, as I kept pondering to stop or not, I passed on and on along the Dubai Highway. I dint feel like stopping. The route was getting a bit tougher as I had to walk across the sloping banks of the highway. Yet a voice inside me kept asking a question, How far would my fitness regimen help me walk. And to get that answer I kept walking and walking, leaving exit after exit into the city.Further along the highway I walked. A particular song played on the mp3 player. Reminding me of a special buddy of mine who always has been encouraging me saying that I had more in me than I knew, that I was stronger than I ever realized. A grin widened, the wet Tshirt gave a cool hug and I kept walking.

Came to a point where I saw this particular view. Some worker's expression of love. And the grin turned into a laugh in the middle of the highway. Have a look

In the middle of an unforgiving desert, this sight is awesome to say the least.

My roommates started calling and screaming at me for my stupidity. feeling guilty that they didnt come 2 pick me up. I told them the straight truth, that I did what I did not to prove anything to them. Or make them feel guilty. But to see if I could do it.

5 Hours after the start of the walk (with an hour or 45 mins of break) and 17 Kms of walking, the feel good factor was at its peak. And then I realized I had done it all with a 6-7 kg Backpack on my shoulders. It was like Mr. Hilary stood on everest and Gave a little jump, just to prove that He had been higher than Mount Everest too.

Oh, btw, the 4 hours of walk (give or take a few mins) did teach me a lot of stuff.

1. Begin with the end in mind. (I had the image of a cool shower and angry roomies pictured in the mind, their faces)
2. Sunsets are ALWAYS followed by Sunrises. Hope never gives up on you, choice is yours if You wish to give up on it or not.
3. Everyone has battles. You arent alone in cursing the elements
4. Some battles are tougher than you could dream of.
5. Always take breaks in life, if you wear urself out, you will cover lesser distance in the longer run. Chill out, live longer.
6. Always have friends who will scream and kick you (Yup, my roommates kicked me right after they saw me, AFTER THE 17 KM WALK, THEY KICKED MY &%*$*"("$ LEGS) --- Shows that they care
7. Marathon runners never stop for loo breaks coz they sweat it out.

And the most important lesson

8. Never take such long walks In a Jeans !!!!!!!!


This has opened a bit of wisdom in my crazy brain.
Whenever in life you feel there are insurmountable obstacles,here's a simple advice

Take a Walk.

The road never ends ;-)