Friday, November 2, 2012

Into the Night..



A midnight walk on a cool humid night. It reminded him a lot of the past. The moon had always enchanted him with thoughts serene, moody, horrifying, of solitude. This night it was of loneliness and horrifying at the same time. But the feeling was good, it was peaceful. A feeling of static, as though nothing around moved, the trees stood still, their wet leaves sleeping, while their flowers still awake in bloom. The calm, cool breeze after the day’s downpour swept across his face like a tender touch. He walked on, pensive about the past, and the times he’d walked the nights with her. It took him to a world of himself, of his alone. The concrete jungle where he strolled, the cement tiled pathways interspersed between multi-storeyed apartments gave way to barren fields. He was no longer there; he had walked past its boundaries and into the depth of the night.

Now he was out there in the wilderness. There he stood alone, gazing at the lonely woods that beckoned him from the distance. Out of fear, a chill ran down his spine, but still he wanted to take that road to the woods. He walked perturbed, partly out of fear and out of anxiety. But the curiosity overtook all emotions, and he moved closer to the trees. The fear of the dark fought with the consolation of solitude, and the latter won. A thought of nothing-to-lose struck him like a bolt from the blue. A smile appeared on his face and he entered inside. The trees stood silent as if they were watching him, looking onto him, caring him, and caressing him with their cool midnight breath. He kept walking, the fear in him receding with every step. The moonlight reassured him with confidence which was once his only solace. The woods grew dense. In the distance he could see a clearing, something shone under the full moon. His gaze locked on to the radiance beyond the woods. Everything around him vanished. He no longer felt the chill of the green trees or the mesmerizing fragrance of their flowers. He was once again alone, obsessed with a sense of attraction by the light that glistened ahead. He’d reached the clearing, and walked past the forest, and before him laid a serene pond, its water undisturbed, so pure that even the wind refused to agitate its flawless surface. The moonlight reflected from its surface; his face shone and he felt as if he was in the sky, standing beside her, embraced by her mystifying beauty. He knelt down on the ground, he got wet with the dew beneath him and he stood gazing down to the water and speaking to his beloved in a language none knew. She kept looking at him and he smiled at her, smiling with a satisfaction unfathomable. He yearned for a warm embrace, a tender kiss. His eyes got wet realizing she’s too far to reach; if only she were close to him. He wanted to touch her, but then he’d lose her in the ripples. The best he could do was to stay still and adore her. The light that led him all this way began to dim out. She was bidding farewell, her vanguard has arrived. Her protector, her shield, took her away from the dark into another world, leaving him and the woods in darkness yet again: a gray swept across the sky, and then it was black. The water no longer glistened, the mist covered mountains no longer visible, the woods had disappeared. He stood in total darkness, in a world unknown, direction unmapped.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Walk To Remember


12 July 2011
Once again I am back to that same old place that I have memories most about. Trivandrum. This is the place that I most loved staying, not because the place in itself was awesome; but because the life and the people that I met there and mingled who changed my life and the way of living. Even though I had lived in three different places during my four years of college life, the time I spent most definitely was Trivandrum, one reason being that I was at a hostel here and moreover because I loved staying with friends more than going home every weekend. :-)

Lot of things have changed over here. The place, the roads, the number of shops, takeaway counters and restaurants. The restaurants where we used to go sit and have à la carte have now transformed into almost drive in restaurants. Zam Zam and Noor Mahal being our mostly visited hangouts, where hours were spent together chatting, eating and making a mess are no longer the same old places.

I visited Lina at her home. She was to leave to Bangalore that Saturday after noon. In no way I could miss meeting her, because I never knew when I’d see her next and she mattered a lot to me. I was the last to enter LSDRap group – a  bunch of 6 cool friends. Small things she did that made me happy. I’d never seen her without a smile, except for once, during our 2nd year tour. I was lucky enough to sit beside her and console and listen to her story. By the way if you are reading this, thanks for the half slice of Nutella-spread bread that you saved for me(or any one of us 6 who got late for lunch), and the crash course during the 2-hour recess between the two exams on a day (you are the sole reason why I had not failed in few, if not all, those subjects ;) ), and for the wonderful birthday treat at All Spice, the mousse, the pizza, the souffle and the smiles J P.S. I never knew Nutella even existed until you brought it for lunch, and I never knew peanut butter and Nutella would make a brilliant combination. ;-)

Revisiting those same places that I once roamed with friends brought back a lot of memories- bitter sweet. The Kovalam Light house is a special place, so are the rocks separating the two main beaches in Kovalam. The stone paved pathways along the sea shore with shops, pubs, restaurants and spas took me back to Goa during our third year in college. Even here in Kovalam, I’d walked those same pathways, seen those same shops and hotels, but now the faces around are all different. I would say I was the one who least enjoyed the family trip this weekend. For mostly, I was engrossed with the memories that kept beckoning me to the past. Snaps were taken with me and my family at various spots where exactly we both stood one year back on a final visit to the beach. The steps that led to the light house, the boulders that lined them to the base of the light house; all the memories came flashing in like a rotating reel of film – life in black and white. Truly there was no light or colors that I saw in my memories, it was all black and white.
***
Beemappalli was the first place that we as a team from hostel visited, mainly because we heard that electronics were cheap there. In fact it is a miniature Karol Bagh for Electronics! Not just electronics, you could get everything that you hear a naïve normal Keralite say ‘gulf goods’; ranging from scents, perfumes, confectionery, ‘foreign’ snacks, ‘foreign’ candies et al. As boys we are, soon we learnt that CDs and DVDs were sold cheap too. Towards the beginning of second year, a couple of them in hostel bought PCs after quite a drama and persuasion on their parents. Just one dude had a bike and two of us would take turns to go to Beemapalli occasionally to buy cheap pirated movie CDs, mp3 discs, porn and game CDs. The NH bypass road was where it was almost customary for everyone to atleast once touch the magic 90 in the speedometer dial. It was Dawn’s old Pulsar 150 that was our mean machine! But for me it was my god of biking. In fact I learnt bike riding on this very bike, thanks to Dawn’s open-heartedness! Quite a few had learnt bike riding on his bike and it was a well maintained and fuel-efficient one, even though the looks spoke otherwise.

The Valiyathura Kadalpalam(pier) was one special place for Prashant and me. We had visited there few times. It was used as a sea port years ago it seems for docking ships. But now the railings on either side have all been dismantled and worn out. The bridge spanned a couple of hundred metres into the sea. The way leading from there to the airport, has a small bridge en route, where we both along with Dany had once stood to gaze up at a landing aircraft. The place was great because the bridge stood perpendicular to the runway which meant flights came down right above us and landed just some metres away from the bridge. In the final year, one Saturday night after dinner, both of us had no mood to study for the University exam on that coming Monday. Without any hesitation, we both set out on Dawn’s bike for the ride of a life time. It was monsoon, just like now, the sky was dark, but since it was night, we couldn’t figure out that it was damn cloudy. The moment we reached the kadalpalam, it started drizzling. We had never been to a beach at night, let alone to this haunting place. There were none in the vicinity. It was dark and abandoned. We parked the bike at the gate and walked towards the bridge. The little light that came from the street light on the main road dimmed out completely and we were standing in pitch black darkness. We were only just few feet onto the kadalpalam and already we could see nothing. Drizzling got heavier and the roaring of the sea underneath got louder. We got a feeling of volume in the sea. It was monsoon and the sea sounded angry and powerful. To add to the horror, there was occasional lightening that showed us for a fraction of a second how far we were from the edge of the bridge. It was total darkness around us. We didn’t go much further, may be we reached only half way. It was too creepy to walk further. The eerie feeling and the gaze into nothingness left us mute and shivering. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Needless to say, we both reached back totally drenched in the rain which got even worse as we reached back to hostel! We were too rejuvenated and excited about the trip that we slept off in no time, while the rest of them studied.
***
I tried to live in the past these past few days. I visited all those places I could, that had strings attached to them. I even walked on the sprint tracks at Chandrasekhar Nair Stadium just to remind me of the sports day at college. Hey Divya, if you are reading this, I still remember your finals 100m sprint to become the Individual Champion of the year! :P The wind was to your advantage clearly. :D

On the first day here, last Friday, I visited the Palayam Church, along with my brother, sat on the bench and prayed for a few minutes. I went to the Chennai Chicken Pakoda stall that a man and his wife used to run. The woman realized me and gave a familiar smile. In the last year at college, I used to be their regular twilight customer. I used to go for a late evening walk around 6:15 – 6:30 pm when I used to go to the church at Spencer’s Junction or for a tea at the thattu kada opposite our hostel and walk towards Palayam just for having the chicken pakoda. I used to be accompanied usually by my dear friend Akhil to the church and then to the pakoda stall. On my way back I used to take the longer route, alongside Palayam mosque, around the circle in front of Kerala University and towards AKG centre, so as to finish munching before I reach hostel! This very Chicken Pakoda stall used to be three of our one-of-the favourite hangouts – Kunji, Rasmi and I. One of us would spark the idea of having chiken pakoda on some boring weekend evening, or a sleepy weekend afternoon after the both of them would be going back from IMS MBA training program to their hostel. I would meet them both at Spencer junction and accompany them to the stall and spend some time chatting, pulling legs and munching. This very place was exclusive for chicken pakodas. In fact this is the only place in Trivandrum from where I have ever eaten it.

My visit to the church at Spencer junction got postponed. I could visit there only on the last day before flying back to Hyderabad. This was a place I should never have missed out. It used to be a special place for me and Akhil. Towards the end of college life, mainly in the final year, or may be from the 6th semester onwards, I had lots of reasons to be despondent. Every road that I walked was the false one and every turn I took to overcome those faults turned out to be wrong. There were times when I was in a fix, dilemma, impasse. If I were to write about all those, this post would lose its purpose. I’ll definitely write about all those once I’m confident enough to, once I’m settled and once I bring out a book may be :-) Almost daily, and particularly during the exam days, I used to have mental stress, not exam fever, but from friends, myself. There had been hard times between me and my best friends, cold wars, serious fights etc. Even my apologies and helplessness were not considered, but instead ridiculed. But many a times I now realize that they were just trying to hide their black faces by focussing the spotlight on me. And indeed it was true to an extent. And to my fate, the pinnacle of it all was during my sixth semester and I ended up with 4 back papers! :D Once I feel down, I lose all interest in studying and would go out on a lonely walk. It was during those times especially that I would go in to this church and sit in its silence, may be not pray, but just enjoy the calm around me. I’d only gone for the Sunday Mass just once in this church during the whole 4 years. I felt peace and solace just sitting alone rather than attending the Mass. Later on, seeing me leave for a walk and learning that I would have a short visit to the church too, Akhil too joined me on some days. Man, I really missed you when I once again went there after a year. LRemember months back I called you and told you that I dreamt that I was sitting on the pew and I was alone once again in Trivandrum? See now, two months later dad calls and informs me that he’s getting posted to Trivandrum. I never expected that to happen).

The visit to my alma mater – my college, Government Engineering College, Barton Hill  - was the most touching one. Many of the teachers who had taught me had left, but those who most mattered were luckily still teaching there, except for one. Krishnan Kutty sir, our HOD had passed away few months back. Seeing his vacant chair and the unoccupied huge table in the middle was upsetting. Balu sir, Manju ma’am, Deepti ma’am and Shamna ma’am are still part of the IT faculty. Though Balu sir’s exam used to be the most dreaded of exams, whichever subject he might have taught, all of us respected his humbleness and composure, but most importantly his in-depth knowledge in the topics of his interest. It is in fact true that that we guys feared taking any topic related to networking or cryptography during our seminar because it was certain his questions would leave anyone in distress, mumbling for words! Manju ma’am is someone whom I and Prashant got to know better quite late. Someone who was portrayed as mean in our mind was actually not. And the reason for this very realization was in fact blogging! She happened to read about it all from one of Prashant’s earlier blogs in which it was mentioned how badly we despised her! But later on, we used to talk, first formally, then informally. In the final year Prashant and I had gone to ma’am’s home for studying Compiler Design. Both of us had failed in CD in the second attempt too B-) :D. My dear friend, Narasimhan had taught me Theory of Computation (TOC) and CD. I passed in TOC in the second attempt, thanks to his genuine and humble efforts to teach me, despite the fact that he never had any back paper. He used to come to college just to teach me TOC. I couldn’t pass CD in the second attempt, cuz Infosys’ placement drive was on the eve of the exam. ;) I’m not to be blamed :D. That day at Manju Ma’am’s home, she welcomed us with a wide sweet smile :-) After she was done with the teaching, she insisted she make something for us to eat. To our shock, we had another realization! She was not just good, she was a great cook too! The hot fresh-from-the-thawa Dosas were delicious and so was the beef pickle and chatni. There was chicken curry, but I loved the beef pickle like damn! Poor Prashant, being veggie was left with nothing to eat. Ma’am made instant noodles for him. :) That afternoon is one that I always cherish. Not only did I clear that exam, I realized I had found a good friend too. As we were leaving her home that day, ma’am said she loved when her children students came to visit her and she loved making us something to eat. Ma’am, this is no award for you, its just my symbol of gratitude, right from within. :)

I walked along with Narasimhan to every corner of our college, the new 7-storey building, the IT block, the newly constructed ladies hostel (unoccupied, now ;)), canteen, labs. The mechanical workshop too was not missed. The library, class room number 306, the electronics lab, panjarakkuzhi, all had its own relevance in my life at college.     

I even met my good old chap Deepu. I waited for him in front of Saphalyam complex the evening before my departure back to Hyderabad. Dude looked different, in that formal full sleeve shirt, black pants and black shoes. As soon as he saw me he rushed in and hugged me. I felt so glad. He is the same old buddy now, the same old funny tensions, anxiety and the lovable way of speaking. Prashant and I used to scold him and shout at him when he gets tensed at the tiniest of situations. I’m happy for you, for numerous reasons. :) 

I visited almost all the nearby places that once used to be my frequent hangouts, except for Shanghumugham beach and Museum. The huge nude sculpture of a lying mermaid at Shanghumugham was where we Hooliganz (our batch at hostel) brought out the photographers in us, trying “perspective photography” ;). It was fun, and being in a group makes us forget about the shame and shyness of doing insane stuff in public!
xx------------------------------------------xx

Once again I’m back at Trivandrum, but at the wrong time. It would have been like the sweet past, if all those now scattered in different parts of the country are here with me. It has already struck 2 AM and I’m still writing. It’s high time I got to bed. I’m too lousy to make my bed, so here I go, collapsing into the couch!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

വീണപൂവ്‌ - Fallen Flower

It was a tragic day... My departure to Hyderabad and my teenage cousin sister's departure to paradise. 

March 28th, 2011. 

I'd finished my hectic Infosys training at Mysore and was posted to Hyderabad. I was to fly to Hyderabad that day at 2:10 pm from Nedumbassery Airport Cochin. That very day morning, as we were to leave for airport, my aunt called home and urgently asked my brother to go to her home. My cousin, Pinkey, was seriously ill. He rushed to her place and took her to the hospital along with aunt and grandma. Being a heart patient since birth, and having done few operations, the doctors had little faith in her survival above 6 years. But contrary to their predictions, she lived to her early youth, till 20.

Pinkey passed away on the day of my leaving Kerala. My flight got delayed by 3 hours. I heard the tragic news from my mom during my wait at the airport. Mom and brother had come to drop me at the airport. They left soon to the hospital. Pinkey was admitted to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in the morning. Mom and brother arrived few seconds before she passed away.

Now I'm home exacly 1 month after she left the family.

April 29th, 2011.

I went along with my mom to my aunt's house. Usha aunt was weeping, she had been, for the past one month. My grandma's pain was unbearable. The otherwise composed and strong grandma broke down terribly, she seldom spoke, and weeped continuously, her eyes always wet. Grandma brought Pinkey up in her childhood, since her mother was employed. 

As years passed by, everyone grew, their thoughts grew, so did hers. She was a teenager. She had dreams, expectations, just like her many teenage female cousins. One, the eldest, is getting married next week. She got engaged on 30th April. Pinkey always wanted to take part in her marriage. She was the second eldest female among us cousins. But she left us little too early.

As mom was consoling aunt, I went through Pinkey's funeral album. She was an angel. Her eyes were beautiful and her face serene. All of us used to resemble her face to the jasmine bud. But her lips had turned blue. I flipped through all the pages in the mourning funeral album. The last page had a scanned image of one of her diary entries. My eyes filled reading it..




Dated Feb 9th, 2008
ഒരു നിശാപുഷ്പത്തില്‍ നിന്നും അടര്‍ന്നു വീണൊരു ഇതള്‍ പോലെ 
രാത്രിയെ നോക്കി മൂകമായ് കേഴും നിമിഷങ്ങള്‍ പോലെ 
കൊടും കാട്ടില്‍ അകപ്പെട്ട ഒരു കുട്ടിയെ പോലെ 
എങ്ങോട്ടെന്നില്ലാതെ പാറി വീശുന്ന കാറ്റിനെ പോലെ 

ഒരു രാത്രി തന്‍ പുതപ്പു മാറ്റി 
മൂകമായ് മെല്ലെ മെല്ലെ ഉണര്‍ന്നു വരും നേരം 
ഒരു തുള്ളി സൂര്യാതേജസ്സു മാത്രമായ്
എന്നിലെ ജീവനെ തൊട്ടുണര്‍ത്തി 

പിന്നീട് കാലങ്ങള്‍ കഴിയും തോറും 
മാറി വരും സാഹചര്യങ്ങള്‍ പിന്‍വാതില്‍ തുറന്ന്
എന്നെ വിളിക്കുകയായ്...
വെളിച്ചമില്ലാത്ത ലോകത്തേക്ക്, ഇരുളിന്ടെ കയ്കളിലേക്ക് 
ഒരു നിമിഷത്തെ നിശബ്ധതയിലേക്ക്

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bliss

I’ve always loved solitude. May it be sitting inside a lonely dark room or walking alone in twilight. I’ve always cherished the results of my camaraderie with loneliness. It was never as though I was a loner, or a self-occupied person. But the times I spent with myself, with my thoughts, I could always come up with answers to my unanswered questions. I never needed anybody to assist me to live, but lately that’s no more the case. I always tend to lean on to someone to talk to about my problems and needs. Unfortunately, this attitude of mine-which was never in me before-only brought troubles. Those who listened patiently to a distressed soul in me later when saw me getting better, shot back with accusations and alleged that they were burdened by my outpour. Some even went to the extent of saying that they lost their peace of mind, because of me. At the very rare times I get with myself these days, I used to recollect those particular instances closer to today in the past and compare them with the ones three or four years deeper into the past, just to feel the bliss of solitude.

The past four years at college was awesome. Though my life as an independent being started off with a little shyness and a lot of homesickness, it gave way to a more mature and self-driven motive for living. I could carry on my not-much-in-the-limelight silhouette for a few months after which things started to change. I got friends, best-friends (a concept to few, which was only a hypothesis to me) and then came the bundled obligations and expectations. The one who never believed in the best-friend hypothesis was drawn in too. I was no more alone. There had been a shadowy figure always with me, sometimes my own, sometimes of others’ who cared (apparently).

Even when I try to retreat back to the inside, take time for myself, people tend to nose in. I only need some time to figure out, but guys want to be lurking around for the reason. I tried to tell them I’m okay and that I would like to have some time for myself. But again, the hypothesis had its corollaries. I had to give in. But unfortunately, faith was manipulated, exploited. The trustworthy became untrustworthy, again due to their concept and its indispensables; a kind of chaining effect! It would have been better if those around me realized that I talked less and listened more. It may be hard for someone in a brotherhood to be drawn into the backstage, but never for me. Most of the time that was the case. I kept the puppet show going, but none realized who was pulling the strings.


I know there would be few repercussions to this post; and many criticisms too. But that can’t change everything, right? Loneliness is bliss.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Story of My Placement

It’s long since I’ve been on blogosphere; time constraints and lack of resources being the reasons. Lack of resources here refers to the inability to access internet due to unavailability of a USB modem! Well I tried my luck with Airtel mobile internet and yes, I was lucky not once, but twice. And those two months I used their bandwidth as much and even more a normal human being can squeeze out! The tariff was Rs.274 a month with unlimited browsing and I could plug my cell into my PC and access internet through it, and even download as much as I wanted from free sites. The following month they hiked the rate by another 200 rupees and though I even paid that, I was shattered to see that Airtel was not providing EDGE this time, and I had to be complacent with the mere 20-40kbps browsing speed I was getting. I boycotted Airtel internet the first day of the third month itself. The saddest thing was that the past two months I got a sumptuous speed of over 150kbps consistently. I got pissed this third time and I had no means of coming online. The alternate options were not free either.

Ok, this above paragraph seems like an excuse for not blogging. And I can’t deny that 100 percent. After not writing anything for over 2 months, I lost the feel of writing. A lot of things happened in these quick but long five months. A new year had started, I got placed in Infosys, a new semester in my academic life had started- the final 8th semester and a lot more. Maybe I will write of it all in the coming posts, hopefully! And most importantly, the darkness that surrounded, mentioned in two of my previous posts had lifted and a light of new hope was dawning up in the horizon. Well, I had started this post hoping to write something witty, but there is something more important I think I need to write about this time. It’s been pending since last December. This in fact is a motivation from one of the teachers in college, who ardently follow my blog and even remind me often to not abandon writing. She knows me more through my blog than personally. It seems like both of us had misunderstandings about each other, she was one of the few among the crowd who saw the actual me under the veneer of my ever smiling disposition. The reason I write this blog is – she told me the day I informed her of my recruitment into Infosys – “Anup, all your blogs have a dark and sad genre, I expect one happy blog from you about this”. It’s true, but maybe that’s my style, yes the content can be made brighter though! And another motivation that I get from her is that she never comments in my blog, she does that personally.

Well, that’s it for the motivation and literature survey! I’ll come to the point – The Story of My Placement. Tada!

With almost all incidents in 2009 happening against my odds (from getting back-papers in the crucial 6th semester and not being able to attend CAT as a corollary, to various devastating personal issues), and me being left out, confused, hopeless and obliterated, there was this one announcement in the college, perhaps the last opportunity that I had - the placement drive by Infosys. The relief flooded in when the criterion was announced – 65% and above up to 5th semester with no live back-papers. I had a safe 72% and since 6th semester result was not considered, it was a jackpot for not just me, but for many others too. The worst result in our batch was the 6th semester, with almost over 60% of the students getting at least one arrear and an average of more than two per student. Another relief was that the Infosys method of recruitment is the easiest one to get through, with just two phases- the written aptitude test followed by the HR interview. The only challenge was that it was not just our college that was participating. There were two others too, two equally reputed colleges. This meant increased competition.

The Eve

Getting set for the big day. There were myriad things to do, from taking copies of photographs, printing out resumes, making photocopies of mark sheets etc. This was followed by the more difficult tasks, which involved selection- shoes and attire! After attending various interview-oriented seminars and walk-throughs conducted by college and other autonomous institutes, everyone had one dress-code in mind – sky blue shirt and jet black pants, the color of the shoe matching the color of the belt (whoa!!!) and the color of socks matching that of the pant! My friend Prashant and I had no formal wear suitable for an interview (and as always awakened to this grim realization on the very eve!) and had to go out shopping that night when one would be preparing hard for the test scheduled the following day.

It was just the two of us and after getting done with the resume, marklist and photos part, we were out in search of attire. After searching almost every decent men’s shop in Trivandrum city, neither of us could find anything close to suitable. At the Peter England’s showroom, we tried on a fitting shirt but the sky blue color of the same size shirt was available only in their ‘Elite’ collection which cost almost 2 grand! Finally the new Koutons showroom in the city came to our rescue. Both of us got what we were out for, and yes with minor variations in colors! I had no shoe for the day, and had to buy that too, it did not take much time, thanks to the Khadim’s retail shop. We had resumes and mark lists of friends’ to take copies of and after all of our endeavors were accomplished, we returned back to hostel past 10pm.

Tired of walking for miles and starving, our minds reluctant to prepare for the test, I decided to retire for the day.

The DAY

15-12-09. The day a milestone will be etched in my life. With nothing arranged the previous day, I had to start off with arranging the mark lists, resume and certificates into the folder that was bought the previous day. After a bath and getting dressed up, we set out to leave. There were five of us – Prashant, Vinit, Vinay, Saji and I. Before leaving few of us went to the church and others to the temple for blessings and prayers. The reporting time was 8am and we were already getting late. There were no auto-rickshaws or buses bound to the venue (SCT College) to be found. We split up into two groups and took an auto each to the central bus station at Thampanoor hoping to find a bus from there. On reaching the bus station, we could find no bus bound to our destination and decided to bargain auto-rickshaws to take us. The drivers were charging too much, apparently realizing our urgency, when finally one of them agreed to take all the five of us in one auto! Seeing the condition of his vehicle – one resembling a vintage early 90’s vehicle- and considering the fact that there were two hefty guys in our pack, we opined for two autos. Finally we split into groups of 3 and 2 and set off. Vinit, Prashant and I were in the second auto. The time being already few minutes past 8 and with almost over 1km to go, our auto was caught up in a long stretch of traffic block. We asked the driver to keep pushing and the guy understanding our dire situation took a sharp left onto the 4-feet wide muddy walkway and continued to push the throttle. With still 500 metres to go, the driver resigned and clearly there was no way he could push the vehicle further. The only means of transport was by foot! Without thinking for a moment, the three of us paid the fare and dashed out. There were messages from friends saying they’ve already been seated in the exam halls. Gasping for air and sweating, the three of us reached the main lobby and registered our attendance and we were allotted rooms.

The test lasted for an hour which was followed by a pre-placement talk (PPT), after which the list of shortlisted candidates would be announced. We were all in the PPT hall waiting for the results. I had a University exam the following day – one of the back-papers that I had in 6th sem. I had even brought the book to study during free time. Somehow, I was all confident and optimistic of the recruitment. From the day morning, something was telling me that one seat in Infosys would be for me. I had never been so optimistic and positive in my life. I even had a prefixed thought in my mind that this was the only opportunity (rather choice) I had left and that I should make the most out of it, and that meant fighting my way through the 400 odd contenders for this one last resort that I thought I had. I thought – this one is for me and I shouldn’t let anyone down, not even ME. Even during the recess time, when gals would kick me or pinch me when I tease them in little fun-chats, I would tell them “Hey don’t ruin my dress, I have an interview to attend!” even before the results of the test were announced. Though it was for fun that I kept saying that, I was almost certain that I would be in, though I didn’t know the reason for my confidence.

The results of the test were being announced at intervals, according to college. Finally, our results were announced. There were 40 who cleared the test from our college, 11 from our department, of the 100 who attended the test from our college alone. I was elsewhere when it was being announced and on my way back, heard from friends that I cleared the test. It was an enthralling moment for me. I was overjoyed. I was in the very few who got through with the test. It was sad to see that most of my close friends could not get through. My parents and elder brother were so excited and happy just when they heard me saying that “I am gonna attend my first ever interview”. Mom couldn’t absorb the fact that her kid had grown up!

The interview began in no time and most of us had to compromise lunch. Everyone waited for one’s turn and finally my number was called out. The interviewer was a lady in her mid 30’s with a bold yet composed temperament. I was permitted in to the room and she began with a hand-shake – the new code to check if the candidate is tensed; a cold or wet palm would speak a lot! My hypothesis of a murky, abominable interview chamber soon changed into a much rational and evident casual-talk room. What started off with a conceptual interview soon manifested into a good conversation and I felt relaxed after the first couple of minutes. However there were many flaws that I made trying to strengthen my point, and at times I even degraded myself talking of certain weaknesses. But she was impressed about the way I contradicted and vindicated my own earlier contradicting statements! It was like she was recording leads and loopholes to corner me in the end. But I escaped out of all of them pretty impressively. With every not-so-convincing-yet-clever answer, she would give a grin with a skeptical “humm!” peeking at me over her glasses! The interview lasted for 10-15 minutes and once all of us were done, we were asked to gather at the seminar hall where the final result would be announced.

By 9:30pm, after hours of waiting, the members of the Infosys HR panel arrived. The names in the final list of ‘recruited’ candidates were read out and among the 11 who cleared the test, 10 of us from our department were formally selected into Infosys. There was a mass hysteria of joy filling up the seminar hall. There were few friends who stayed all the while outside the seminar hall who cheered us from the door. Finally after few instructions and advices from the panel, we were congratulated and let go. It was a frenzy of laughter, hugs and congratulations inside the lobby and corridors, many of them calling their near and dear ones and others attending calls from friends and relatives who came to know about their achievement. My good friend Vinit who was waiting outside and happy on seeing me congratulated me and said – “Now you are happy na?…after all those trials you went through…”. This was exactly the same statement that the one teacher (who is the inspiration for this very post) told me when I rang her up late that night to deliver this happy news.

 Infosys Mysore Campus

When dad heard it from me over the phone, he was smiling and even at that moment trying to tease me, though I could very well perceive that his eyes were filled and very much glad with the news. And in my mom’s case, I had to cheer her up and console her and stop her crying while talking to her over phone in the lobby! She called me “Pro” for the first time! It was still so impossible for her to comprehend that her baby boy is a man now!


On reaching back to hostel, realization struck. Fuck, I’ve got a supplementary exam the following day. And I’ve studied no crap. Once again I was certain (for the second time in a day!) that I was not going to clear it this time too. The exam was a flash! Don’t remember anything! And just as I am about to end this post, the 6th semester supplementary exam results are out in the University of Kerala website and without surprise, I flunked in Compiler Design. But that’s ok, for the time being, because I could very well finish this blog post and also I’ve passed in the remaining exams that I had failed in 6th sem. Hooray!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just Me...

It’s kind of sad when people around you leave, literally. It’s even more sad when the realization comes that your own deeds makes you stand in this momentarily terrible situation. I screwed up my life. My previous semester had been a disaster, with four arrears in my hands and an unnerving pain in my heart. Two back papers were expected, but the other two – labs – were never expected. It was a shock to see that I’d failed in the Mini Project. There was output and the requested modification implemented, thought not fully. It would be worthless talking about the B.Tech evaluation of University of Kerala. And more to that, this time it was pathetic. Worse, it was subjective, biased, as far as many of us believe and it is in fact evident. The guys who performed in the other lab exam at par with others in their corresponding batch got varying results. It was an unrealistic pattern, a strange distribution of marks unexpected by most of us. I’m no judge here, but getting a meager 35 out of 100 in Mini Project is disastrous, especially when the examiner fails to award even the bare minimum passing marks (40/100) for something which is your own creation. Who is the judge here?

With the plenty of arrears to my credit, there was one more issue. It is said that with every problem one faces, there will be something that gives a quantum of solace. But, apparently not in my case. I had applied for CAT 2009 (Common Admission Test) and all of my friends and I had booked the slot on 6th December – the last Sunday of the online CAT test window – at Calicut. Everyone unanimously selected this date hoping our seventh semester University exams to end before CAT. And it did. When the exam schedule was out, the regular seventh semester exams ended way before December even started but one of my back papers from sixth semester came exactly on the 7th of December- the very next day to CAT. And by the time, the final date to make changes to the CAT online slots had ended. How fucked up can that be. Another MBA entrance exam I had applied for was IIFT, which fell on the eve of ‘Internetworking’ exam of seventh semester. I could have attended it; if only I could get over the fear of arrear instilled in me. I never wanted to get a back paper this semester and decided to stay back here, when my friends who all applied for IIFT left for Kochi.

I hardly had got over this loss when the date for CAT was nearing. There was a hustle all around me, friends furious about CAT, talking, bunking classes to prepare for CAT. The CAT test centre all of us had chosen was Calicut. Some for convenience went home earlier cutting classes, who stayed near Calicut. Others were leaving every other day. The saddest part was that I was there to see each of them leave. Close friends were getting anxious of the exam, and I was providing emotional support. Tension, anxiety and even illnesses were gripping everyone. And my closest friends resorted to me. I did the best I could to keep them going, motivate them, drive them, even before a day before the online test. My clock was ticking; every second getting closer to my dreaded back paper – Theory of Computation – on the 7th December. And I was still consoling and encouraging my confused best friends.

One more bolt out of the blue, my Computer Networks lab exam got scheduled on the same 7th. I was getting confused and couldn’t focus on anything. I had already opted out CAT and now suddenly I had to make another decision, a situation where I had no choice. I had to go for both my arrear and my lab. I went around asking friends to swap my lab date with those who were scheduled on 9th or 10th December. The first one whom I asked agreed to exchange dates with me in case I never found anyone else to, and after my search, I finally wound with her- Lina. None of them whom I asked were willing to do the exam on the first day in the schedule. I finally got my exam rescheduled and that was settled.
 
Today – 5th December

5 am. I was woken up by Vinit’s call in my cell. I had agreed to drop him somewhere where another friend, who will be accompanying him, would be waiting. He was to leave early and it would be hard to find conveyance. We both set out on the bike and reached the place. After a word with her, and wishing her luck, I found an auto rickshaw and the two of them got in. They shook hands with me and asked me “to study”. As the auto was leaving, Vinit said “you could have come too”. That was the instant a thunder struck me inside my chest – the realization that I never would be able to now. As the auto drove past me, I found myself standing lone and lost in the darkness filling me inside and outside. The world around me stood still. For a few seconds I froze. I waited till they took a U-turn and once again sped past me, going away from me - the last two in the pack to leave.

I gathered myself back and started the bike. There were barely any vehicles on the road. It was just me now. As I was speeding back to hostel, my eyes welled and a tiny tear rolled down the corner of my eye…

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Odd One Out

Their silent but meaningful grins of accomplishment, taking advantage and exploiting the moments you once thought was your own. They do exactly the things that you despise them to do in your presence. At the situation when you can neither pretend to not see nor flee. You have to see, not just see, but live through every moment. Every second. It seems to last forever. For me. I’m still in the frame. But I’m typing. I don’t have a laptop, so I type in my cell. Hell. Yes, you’ve won. I knew you would "kid". And I lost. But not for long. I won’t stay lost for eternity. I’ll just drop everything and leave. You can take ‘everything’. I don’t need fake things. A chameleon who adapts so easily. A figure that easily fits into any frame way better than any known camouflage. Know what, it’s cool to watch you change, to fix in, to adapt, to adjust and be that. A jigsaw piece that can always be the last piece in position. How perfect! It stings. But it’s OK. Change is the only constant thing. I will too, if not change, adapt. Just a matter of time and it will be no more. Another page turned in my book of forgotten history, not memories. Those pages, that book, will never be revisited. I won’t. You may one day. But that day, it’ll be in ashes, at least for me…