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Sandeep 's World >> Thinkin' Aloud
Friday, 27 April 2007
His ... little .... kid sister!

Nina looked worried when she said “I don’t think she is doing well …. She doesn’t have to flirt with everybody in the office …. And can dress a li’l more decent.” Sarath just smiled … he was obviously not much worried … “C’mon … she is a pretty girl and she will have a few fans … its normal.” He said! Somehow Nina wasn’t convinced. Something kept telling her that Sarath’s little kid sister was not doing well.

Sarath was then thinking abt the first time he talked to Nina abt Minakshi. He had told “Minu is so cute … and I just cant express how I feel abt her … u know ….” This was after a 30 mins phone conversation with Minu, where Nina was waiting. She looked confused … “I just feel so good talking to her … my sweet cutie pie!” He was just looking for words to describe her and Nina’s face was taking a greener shade! Five mins later … Sarath was laughing out so loud … when Nina came up with a “U never called me cute … forget cutie pie!” “Every other girl is cute to you … what all was going on in the phone … honey ... sweety ... baby … have u ever used any of these words while talking to me?” Her eyes were already a pool and Sarath had to control his laughter and pull her towards him to comfort her …. “C’mon … shez like my little kid sister. Am I not supposed to feel like that for her? U know I do luv you …”

Well … Sarath cudn’t ever feel any different for her … she was his little kid sister … right from the day he saw her first. The day when she arrived in Bangalore first; along with uncle and aunty. “Sarath … she knows no one here … and I am expecting u to take care of her …” uncle had told … and how cud he have refused. Minu looked scared then … as if unaware of the ways of this world. Sarath had always wanted a little kid sister … and now he had one. He cud still remember her flared up churidhar and the sweet innocent smile. Even after so many years, he always remembered that sweet innocent smile. He had taken good care of her … taken her arnd the city, for shopping and everything else … by being her friend, being her guardian … being everything she had in this city.

Four years later, he even made sure that she got a job … in Nina’s company. Well … he didn’t have to try hard, since she was anyway a good student and had good marks. She always was a gud student and none of those guys who chased her in the college cud distract her. But now … cud anything be wrong??? No way ... he said to himself. There were times before ... when questions were raised. Like the guy who claimed to be her boy friend … and the girl who claimed to be her well wisher. But everything was blown away to pieces, after Sarath talked to her. The guy was a looser. He had been worshiping her for almost a year now. It was just his frustration. And the girl … she obviously was jealous. How cud I even suspect her … Sarath had thought! He remembered Nina’s comments then: “Well … don’t believe everything that she says.” But, cud Sarath have done anything else? Cud he ever disbelieve his little kid sister?

Nina was at it again … soon … “See … I know this guy … he is a bad guy. And she had been with him for the whole day … I did call up her room mates and asked!” she said. Sarath felt a tremor starting right from his toe. He knew he had to do something this time. If things are the way it is … it doesn’t sound good. “Lemme talk to her!” he said. “No … its not enuf … u shud talk to uncle. Otherwise, if he come and ask u tomorrow u’ll have to answer.” “Lets see … I am sure she’ll listen to me” he said.

“Bhaiyyyaaaaa … “ She screamed at the top of the voice … from the balcony … as soon as she saw Sarath’s car coming inside. She was running towards him even before he finished parking. The same warm hug … and his kiss on her forehead … the same sweet innocent smile. May be the dress is different. Instead of the flared up churidhar … its now jeans and t-shirt … may be a touch shorter than it shud be. But … nevertheless … its the same Minakshi ... whom he saw abt 4 years back.

A guy followed her, came out and said “Hi” to Sarath. “Nice to meet u .. bhaiyya. Am Sachin.” He told. Hmm … not bad Sarath thought. The guy is tall, stylish and handsome, wearing a leather jacket, short, spiked hair, black boots and black trousers. May be one of the rare guys who wudn’t be intimidated with Minu. “I cudnt tell u bhaiyya. Sachin me and some other friends went to Savandurga yesterday. For trekking … it was gr8. It was suddenly planned and I cudnt call u up before going.” “Ohhh .. so that’s what it is …” Sarath gave a sideways glance to Nina …

Some time later, when she was showing the trek photos to him, Sarath, asked her abt Sachin. Minakshi told that “Lot of people thinks that he is a bad guy … but he had always been nice to me. Why shud I worry abt what other people are saying as long as he is nice to me.” Sarath nodded: “Yes … you are rite.”

That evening, when he was heading back home, Sarath was once again sure that his little kid sister cannot go wrong. She was just too good … too good for people to understand her. Sarath cud never have disbelieved her … his little kid sister … ever!

Posted by usandeep at 10:01 AM
Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008 12:14 AM
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Thursday, 5 October 2006
The Saint!

"Oh … c’mon … Nandan is the closest person I’ve seen to perfect. He doesnt booze. He doesnt smoke. He doesnt stare at other girls. Very precise in whatever he says, extremely nice and receptive to others. Well read and gr8 sense of humour. What more do u want?" … I finally broke out in frustration and started counting all of Nandan’s virtues.

"Hmm … all these don’t mean he is any fun to live a life with." was her answer.

"Then what else do u need?"

"Lets say someone who can make mistakes, who is fun to argue with, who’ll let me win too … someone who can take instinctive decisions …" she paused with a sly smile. And continued, "say … like deciding to drive if u don’t get tickets to go home!"

For a second I was pale and tried to not show it and then we both laughed.

"Forget me … I’m ‘sold’ for almost 2 yrs now … lets talk about what u like … what kind of a girl are u gonna marry?"

"Hmmm …" I cudn’t think of anything to say so fast.

"Ok … lets say … ash or sush".

"Sush." That was pretty fast decision for me and she looked surprised.

"Thats … strange … most people wud say Ash."

"Hmmm … I think … Sush looks a lot wilder and lively person and Ash is more like a lifeless mannequin."

"Hmm … interesting …" then she added "… I think I'll agree with that!"

Swathi Nandan is fair and petite, had curly hair and that angelic smile of hers showed off a very prominent pair of dimples. I classified her as the pretty, yet friendly girl next door! I always used to fancy wild looking women, like say Sush or Sheethal Mallar, usually tall and athletic with dusky complexion, and she hardly fitted that category. But, after a few hours with her, during this drive from Bangalore to Kerala, I realized that she had something special. May be the mysterious expression in her big eyes or may be the cool and comfortable way in which she interacted with me; I almost felt like I knew her for ages. The most striking thing though was the wild fragrance she carried. It reminded me of some flower or fruit which I could not recollect.

Nandan was in US when they got married and I had met Swathi only a few days before this, when Nandan was in Bangalore for an official visit and had been mostly busy. I haven’t talked much to her, until the day we drove to Kerala together. Underneath her innocent smile and twinkling eyes, she had seemed a very classy lady and somewhat reserved. During the trip, she looked friendly and tried talking about a few things here and there. Initially, it was more about Nandan - She cudnt help laughing when I mentioned that Nandan was called ‘The Saint’ in college, being a strong advocate of teetotalism and more so due to the indifference towards his female fans! With me stating that he was a gentleman in college and talking abt how he ignored his female fans and kept his pledge for teetotalism even after so many years, an animated discussion followed. Soon the conversation shifted to a few other topics and there … I discovered that she was nothing short of an incessant chatterbox!!! In fact, the only few minutes she kept quiet was when I offered her the wheels. She didn’t seem to be comfortable with manual gears and soon gave up, citing the reason that I am a very boring and quiet "navigator" and didn’t provide her any "entertainment"! Well … now I had one more reason to pull her legs?

After crossing the Kerala border and it getting darker, Swathi suggested that we should not drive in the night and take a break somewhere. I was not very receptive of this idea, since my initial plan was to keep driving and reach home even if it takes till midnight. Seeing my reluctance, she had an amused expression and ended up with the taunt:

"U r not comfortable staying at a hotel with me?"

I had to respond with a very defensive "NO! NO! NO! NO … I generally drive all the way in one day and reach by midnight".

"So u r not planning to drop me home???" and another teasing smile. I had to oblige.

It seemed that she was enjoying my discomfort. I was obviously worried about more mundane things like, if she will be ok with a double room! She teased me again with an "I am not going to do anything to you, even if we are in the same room." I felt like a complete moron and looks like she felt sorry for me, finally. She assured me that she and her husband has complete faith that I am a gentleman. I started sweating by now!!! Hopefully, her idea of a "gentleman" is not in lines with "The Saint".

We had dinner en route and selected a decent looking family hotel. Inside the room, there was silence for a short while. We looked at each other and smiled. To avoid the confusion I got up and went to the bathroom. She looked at me with a very curious expression and asked if she can lock me up inside, so that she can wear something more comfortable. With this I burst into laughter and suggested that I would prefer waiting outside and she can take her time inside. While she locked up the door, I was only glad to walk out into the corridor and in the process managed to sneak out a cigarette and lighter. Being a "gentleman" was too difficult a task for me!

In five minutes, she opened the door again and gave me a warm smile. By then she had changed into a skirt and t-shirt. I took some more time to get in and saw her sitting in one of the beds waiting for me. I could not help noticing her perfectly shaped feet, and the contrast of her complexion to the blood-red nail polish she was wearing. Also, that smell of hers was much wilder and stronger now. It had a real mesmerizing effect and my heart has started beating a bit faster by now. I wanted to avoid any more stupidity and asked her if I can switch off the lights. She looked at the watch and said "Its only 8.30", but then said "fine", may be noticing the stupid expression I had.

Lights were off in a flash and I quickly hit the bed, turned around and pretended that I am fast asleep. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes … complete silence and I was assured she will be asleep by then and turned around. At the dim light falling through the window, I realized I was completely wrong – she was lying down there, with her eyes wide open and turning towards my side. Now I had to ask "U r not feeling sleepy?" to which she replied "this early, no way." Two more minutes we gazed at each other and she said "I can not see your face". I was glad to hear this and smiled back.

This triggered another conversation, which lead to "It’s a small bed … I am afraid I’ll fall down" from her and I just kept quite. After a minute’s pause she asked me if I mind "joining the two beds". My heart missed a beat and felt my mouth was completely dry but managed to say "Sure … y not?" without any signs of discomfort and proceeded to join them together. After this we retired to the same position, facing each other, but this time much closer to each other. I wish I could just reach over and pull her towards me, but just stayed petrified. That wild fragrance of hers, hit my nose once again and I was afraid she’ll be able to hear my heartbeats!

Few more minutes later, which I felt like eons, she said I might be tired and it’s better if I go to sleep. I was flustered and wondered if she understood what I was going through, closed my eyes and pretended I am going to sleep. But, sleep had long evaded me by then. I couldn’t keep my eyes closed when I sensed her moving just next to me. On looking towards her, I saw her lying flat with hands pressed on to her forehead. I asked "what happened?" and she said "headache". I was feeling the pain and felt miserable for lying there helpless. For a second time, she closed her eyes tight and pressed her fingers once again into her forehead. As in a dream, I lifted my hand and lowered it towards her forehead and slowly caressed the soft, smooth skin of her forehead.

To my surprise she seemed to be living in the same dream as mine. With her eyes closed she turned her face towards my hand and rested her head there. I could hear my heartbeat by the time I pulled her towards my shoulder. Now, I could feel her fragrance all over me and my fingers running through her soft, curly hair into her back, finally pulling her strongly for a tight hug. With her face deeply buried in my chest and the soft, curly hair all over my face, the next few seconds were way too longer than any normal day in my life. I cud feel her fragrance filling me up and rendering me unconscious.

"It’s not your fault", was her response, the next day when I apologised to her as we were approaching her house. I was wondering what to say to her and finally cudn’t come up with anything better than an apology. She had a smile in her face when she said this, which sounded to me as … ‘so u r finally washing off ur hands with an apology?’ I had to add that "If Nandan happens to know about this, I would have difficulty facing him". She paused for a minute and then looked up at me; I had trouble meeting her gaze and looked away.

As we reached the gate of her house, she said : "See … there are a lot of things you don’t know about us. The only thing I can tell you right now is that I am not afraid about Nandan knowing this. Still … If you don’t want him to know, he wouldn’t!" With this she stepped out of the car, just casually enquired if I want to come inside and upon my expected refusal thanked me for the ride and walked away. With her she carried her wild fragrance and all my peace of mind.

The day of their departure, I offered to drop them at the airport. On that day, I met Swathi again at their guesthouse. She was clad in a blue crape sari and looked gorgeous. She said "Hi" and welcomed me in. Well … she still carried the same fragrance and surely could take my breath away! Nandan was getting ready and we had time for a small chat. She told me that "I will never trouble you for no fault of yours" and vaguely mentioned that "my problems are my own and I would not bother you with them". This got me a little confused and I had to ask "what problems? I don’t see any problems between you guys. I know Nandan quite well and cannot imagine any mistakes from him. He is a perfect gentleman and can never forget his family". She seemed to have recognized the unfriendly and stern tone of my voice and looked upset. When she got up saying, "I am sure Nandan can never forget his family", it looked as if she is about to burst into tears. I suddenly felt guilty questioning her morals. With lowered and almost moist eyes she turned around to go inside. I could feel her bursting into tears when I sat there motionless.

Almost a month passed since this event and the fragrance she carried was still fresh in my mind. She is somebody else’s wife and still I cudn’t help wanting her the way I do. By now, I wanted to believe that Swathi was somehow right in whatever she has done and I wud be right in falling for her fragrance, coz of the same unknown reasons. But, these reasons stayed as a mystery, until I recieved a mail from her … It read:

You may not realize how much I cherish the little time I spent with you. If I tell you that I plan to spend the rest of my life on those memories, you may get some idea. It’s difficult for a girl to forget the moments when she grew into a woman and those are the moments u gave to me. Like I said earlier, I don’t want to complicate your life for no fault of yours. But, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life thinking that the person I owe so much would remember me as a cheating wife for the rest of my life.

I agree with you saying that Nandan will never forget those, who he consider his family. His family consists of an Italian woman, their three year old child and maybe his parents for whose sake he married me. Yes … he wudn’t make the mistake of lending his shoulders to a girl, lying next to him … even though she is his legal wife. Those are the mistakes only human’s make … not Saint’s!

Don’t ask me anything more than this. I also wudn’t know the answers. You are only the 3rd person to know about my life. Hope it stays that way. We may never meet again, but I wish you a very good life ahead with the girl of ur dreams and once again thanks for the time you gave me.

Lots of luv,
Only yours,

I was left there with the same feeling I had when I was lying next to her in that hotel room watching her pressing the forehead; a strong desire to pull her towards me and comfort her. But, she seemed too far away for me to do that!

Posted by usandeep at 10:01 AM
Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008 12:12 AM
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Tuesday, 28 December 2004
On Golden Quadrilateral

Okie ... for the uninitiated, lemme start from what Golden Quadrilateral is. It is a set of roads connecting the four metros (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai), and happens to pass through some other major cities also. Like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam(Vizag), Bhubaneshwar, Kanpur ... etc. The road is an all out express highway, with 4/6 lanes and a big divider. Along with bypasses around almost all the towns and fly-overs on all railway crossings, this road provides connectivity with safety and speed - precisely the moto of NHAI (National Highway Authority of India). The detailed map and other details of this project is available at the NHAI website (www.nhai.org)

Me just came back after an epic bike trip from Bangalore to Visakapatnam (Vizag). Most part of the trip happened to be along the chennai - kolkata section of the golden quadrilateral. Around 1400 kms out of a total 2200 kms. Just check out the trip log and photos at my Web Site => Visakhapatnam Trip.

I have travelled on some other sections of the Golden Quadrilateral too, like a good portion of the Mumbai - Chennai leg passing through Bangalore. But the section passing through AP seems to be the best so far.

These roads could be the pride of our nation and while zooming through some of the sections of this road, pride is just what I felt. Pride that our nation is getting there ... we too are not far behind!!!

But, four days on this highway just put me into thinking mode. Who really benefits from these roads? Ok ... I cant ask this question without stating some of the facts I have seen.

1. Toll : No toll for 2 wheelers. They are anyways not expected to use this highway :) For 4 wheelers, the toll is about Rs. 15-20 per section. A section is about 40-60 kms. So, the total toll for somebody travelling all the way from Chennai to Kolkota in a 4 wheeler will come to about Rs. 600. For trucks, this figure is almost 4 times. Around a whopping Rs. 2500. Yes, the road also gives you some improvement on mileage and time taken. And NHAI need money for maintenance. But isnt this sum too high from a travellers perspective?

2. Wrong side driving : Most people dont seem to like the big divider and just goes on the wrong side with utter dis-regard to rules and other vehicles. This includes everything from cycles and bullock carts to 4 wheelers and trucks. Too dangerous a situation.

3. Pedestrian crossing : Villagers does not seem to have an idea of what speed these vehicles are travelling. Again a dangerous situation.

4. Cattle crossing : Cattles grazing in the grass filled dividers (the greenery in the dividers is created artificially) and moving around the road. This is even more dangerous.

5. Small business establishments along the old roads : Hotels, Petrol pumps, Tea shops ... etc along the old road, mostly around some villages. What about them? The traffic through the villages is sometimes very critical for these people. On the stretch of road from Nayudu Peta (120 kms past Chennai) to Visakhapatnam I had to take 5 diversions into the old roads. Kavali, Singarayakonda, Medarmetla, Tadepalli Gudem and Yellamanchili. All these diversions go through villages and small shops like I mentioned before. What, after the roads are completed here

6. Lack of facilities currently : Yeah ... the facilities are coming up and will be good enough. I am sure. But, right now, there are not enough quality hotels or restaurants en route. Most of the petrol pumps doesnt have a properly functioning air pump.

7. Lack of awareness and facility for people : Morning time is toilet time and most of the people who does not have good toilet facilites come to the roads. In plain day light on road side ... believe it or not. Will anybody dare to stop on the road side after seeing this?

I remember the times when I (along with hunderds of other people) have to wait in some place like Airport Road (Bangalore) for some VIP movement. I am sure most of the people must have similar experiences. Not even being allowed to cross the road and being made to stand in the sun for somebody (who's time is considered more important than hundreds of people like me) to freely use the roads. Couldnt help thinking about these villagers the same way. How would they feel on being honked at and scared by fast moving vehicles, who wouldnt have the time to take a diversion and visit their tea shops? Couldnt forget the image of a mother telling her young kid pointing at our bike and saying something to the effect of 'Be Careful of Those'. Who wants to be looked upon as a villains? Obviously, all this is considered development and, being the person I am, I can only be proud of the Golden Quadrilateral. But is it really useful to everybody in the country?

Another thought that came across my mind was a travel that I did 4 years ago, from Waynad to Bangalore, accompanying a friend transporting his belongings here. This was before I started driving, before I baught a bike or car. That is when I first saw speeds like 80 and above. And couldnt quite below that I am travelling at this speed. "80? Are we really going at 80?" Thats what I asked the driver. And he said "Looks like, I havent gone at these speeds myself. May be a problem with the speedometer". Nowadays, if I see a speedo showing 80, I might ask "80? Cant we go a bit faster?"

Just couldnt help thinking that these villagers, who are being honked at, may not even realize the speeds at which the vehicles are coming. They may not even have a hint on maneuvering at speeds beyond 100 km/h. They may not have travelled beyond their villages and probably never seen a speedo showing 60. How would they realize that getting from Chennai to Kolkata is a difficult and time consuming task and this need to be made easy?

Who else will realize? The truck drivers have already paid their toll. Moving around these roads, while the construction is on, was a tough job. Even in day time. I dont want to talk about night time, when some of the diversions (to the next carriage way) is unmarked and gutters are plenty. The truck drivers already suffered because of development.

How about other people driving along these roads? They should be as scared as the villagers. Have to be so alert. Dont know when somebody is going to cross the road, dont know when a truck come from the opposite side, dont know when a cattle is there in the road, dont know when you will see a truck parked in the road with stones around it ... dont know ... well ... I guess I conveyed it. Do these people have any other choice than honking?

I hope things will settle down with time ....... villagers will get educated, drivers will start respecting the sanctity of the roads and most importantly there will be some sort of speed limits in these roads. Then is the time that the Golden Quadrilateral will truly be the pride of our nation ........

Posted by usandeep at 11:01 AM
Updated: Monday, 14 July 2008 12:03 PM
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Saturday, 5 June 2004
Girls!! Girls!!!

My friend and occasional date was supposed to come back from a vaccation around 2 weeks back. And she has promised to call me when she is back. We are not friends for eons, just met during a trek and then went out together 3-4 times, had some good time together and thats it. But, I did expect her to call me after she was back, unless her marriage is fixed or something that drastic happens :)

Last friday evening, I had nothing else to do. No dates ... no trips ... none of my friends were around ... no other programs. So, I gave her a call and here is the conversation for you:

Me: Hey ... whats up ? You didnt even call me for ur marriage?
She: Hmmm ... Let the date come ... I will call
[Oops ... I was shooting in the dark ... and this was indeed a surprise for me]
... some more details about the guy ...
Me: So ... when is the treat ?
She: Treat ? for what ? Why do u always ask for treat?
Me: C'mon honey ... u think this is not big enuf to give a treat to ur boy friend ?
[We do talk like this ... ofcourse it doesnt mean anything]
She: Let him come down to Bangalore ... The reason involve him too ... right ?
Me: Ohhh ... c'mon ... just b'coz ur marriage is fixed doesnt mean u cant go out with me. Dont be scared
She: Oh thanx ... I was so scared of u ;)
Me: I knew ... I knew ...
... Some more bantering ...
Me: So ... when is the treat ? I am sitting all bored here. Take me out tomorrow ;)
She: But I am booked for the weekend honey
Me: U r booked for the whole life, but not before u give me a treat
She: I will ... give ... any case u paid last time. I owe u that much
Me: When ?
She: I will call u ...
[Silence .... by now I know she doesnt want to meet me again]
Me: So ... u'll call me within 3 months and treat me within 5 months. right ?
She: :)
Me: Okie ... bye then ... catch u later
She: Bye ....
[Phone down and I called again ... immediately]
Me: Hey ... I didnt wish u .... Congrats and All the best
She: Thank you
Me: I know u wudnt call me again ... Thats y ;)
... some laugh ... banter ...
She: U r sure I wont call
Me: Yup .... 100%
She: :))) thats so sweet ...
Me: Bye ... take care
She: Bye
[Thats it and i felt really bad]

I cant blame her. She had taken enough precautions. Told me many times that she will get married as told by her parents and that there is pressure from her place for marriage. But she wants to work and have fun. Actually, we became good friends so quickly b'coz she knew I wudnt go mushy mushy about this. Anyways ... good luck to her .... Hope she has a good married life!!!

Posted by usandeep at 10:01 AM
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