Life is funny ,tragic and interesting at the same time, only if you keep repeating same mistakes in different styles otherwise it is dull, dead and easy-Shailesh Tripathi
Hope is an addictive thing and no addiction easily dies unless an external hit is experienced on Head-Show Stop Presumption
It looked a normal naive day as I stepped outside with dreams of meeting Lunatic Languid Lala,Sleepy Suspicious Watchman and of course my cuddly crazy morse coded dog trained by the most boring Moustached species on the planet:Middle Age Man.I strolled through a rather gloomy day,with clouds waiting to burst in tears as if they sensed my pensive mood.I prayed to God not to meet that Old man again.Yes,the one who hands me receipts and advise at the cost of my peace of mind.Ripping it elegantly in pieces.
I silently admire my neighborhood Fitness Enthusiast who is sweating it out with a freaky expression on his moon like face. I call him Road Runner, as he is always seen in brisk bloody mode. I adjust to my ever rebellious mask and see three dejected diligent nurse walk past me in Salwar Suit, each covering their beautiful face with red, green and blue Mask. With clock ticking down I become restless to get my day started or at least pretend to do something meaningful. I remove my sleek white airpod and my 6″ addictive companion from my black bag and I instantly find relief. Ah! The greatest drug of 21st Century. This 6″ electronic distractor, that lures us into believing that we are intensively engaged. Only to realize, we are just dumbing down an entire generation as there is no law on access time for miraculous monster.My Frankenstein and my friend, my fire and my water, my hope and my fear. All trapped in this strange 6″ Chinese product.
BEEP! BEEP! Schumacher Uncle wakes me up from my dwindling delirium. I hop onto my traveler and immediately take my usual seat .Another day of notoriety, madness and dullness awaits .On my way ,I deeply connect with vibrations of road, disappointed faces on the road and my dangerous dreams. Sudden increase in vibrations of my body indicated that Main gate of my Arena wasn`t far. I hopped off, skimmed through miserable faces, play acted at the security and took a deep decisive breath before I saw Mubbu waving at me.
Mubbu: Good Morning sir
Me(Trying my best to stay mindful):I am good,Good Morning.Can you drop me to my first pitstop:C2C3 Control Station.
Mubbu: Get in
Mubbu is a marvelous middle age man with enthusiasm of a child. During this short journey, he keeps asking curious questions. Sometimes I tell him the truth, rest is mere spontaneity and metaphorical inner state of my mind.
Among all the Citizens of my Arena,I find him among the smartest.
Routine dulls the mind-J Krishnamurti.
As I enter my fireground,I take a detour to interact with my younger versions.More vulnerable and less affected by this joke called Job
Faiz:Sir,We have a problem in lpg unit
Me:Did you inform mechanical?
Faiz:They arent picking up phone
Some of the departments in my Arena have this superpower of disappearing at every working hour.
I scan through process parameters,make few more high fives with my young batch and move upstairs to meet another batch of unannounced Jokers.
On left of my door stands Mr. Monorail and on the right is Mr. India, both giving not so comfortable looks. I humbly ask them to let me enter first. Security is a myth but not stupidity. It is real and raw and tangible only if you keep your eyes and ears open
Mr. Monorail: Can you give me permit for my monorail?
Me: Will you complete this before our government falls?
Mr. Monorail: I am making luxurious electric marvel.
Monorail here refers to system that enables us to lift heavy equipment not the failure project of Mumbai.
Although, this one has a strong potential to be a failure, only if it ever completes.
As I take in few more conscious breathe ,Mr. India vanishes before my eye. I had intended to give him a very important dull job: Valve servicing.
FBI can track Julian Assange but we at our Arena,can never truly guess the whereabouts of this unassuming potter head.
My day had barely started when I received my first call from Mr. Einstein
Einstein:Follow up on air leakage
You have to defy gravity or logic or both to understand Mr. Einstein.
I pulled out my weary warrior,now faded but still absorbing my load:my gritty blue bag.It has a bottle,raincoat and fruits to save me on my adventurous field trip.
Only when I felt a moment of silence and a gentle rain in background,I heard loud longing voice of Sappy
Sappy:Sir,we can solve this line leakage today
Me(in slight state of shock):Which leakage?
Leakages in my Arena are more frequent than good morning messages on WhatsApp group.
I know, the analogy was neither poetic nor deep but neither is work in my RING.
I put on my Yellow Fragile Helmet, walkie talkie and a bit of sarcasm. I stroll down the stairs with sappy to start another day filled with frenzied runs, lost communication and multiple idiosyncratic events perfectly set up for another roller-coaster ride.
4th May 2019:Sleep deprived yet filled with hope and anticipation,I set out for my next adventure.Mumbai Airport always feels a dreamy place during this early morning hustle. I had my usual coffee at rather unusual place.The price was unusually high considering the taste,but that`s the specialty of Airport drinks.It was a special day,for I was about to begin a special journey with a special person to a special place.Excited,nervous and ecstatic all in the same breath,I completed my check-in formalities in a flash.Fact of the month-Staff at Mumbai Airport are far more efficient,polite and helpful than at Delhi(after a decade of travel experience and close honest observation).
I boarded my favorite Airbus 320 with semi comfortable seats.They say,celebrities put a lot of efforts on Airport looks(they hardly put any effort on acting in movies though).You are mistaken.In this modern narcissistic era,Sapiens who regularly fly or act like they are always in air(high flying attitude),do experiment with unwavering energy on airport looks.I was amused by seeing ladies sporting flashy lipstick with over the top golden glasses and men sporting designer kurtaas just to contrast with seat color of their modest looking seat.I observe these cute idiosyncrasies and dream of having another memorable adventure.I plugged in psychedelic music,and in two bleak boring hour,I arrived at Delhi Airport.
Only thing I love about Delhi is it`s Metro connectivity.It is easy,reliable and less risky than Mumbai local trains.I seamlessly changed metro to reach Rajeev Chowk.Rajeev Chowk is a place that shows everything that is wrong with our country-Chaos,Rush and ever expanding population,shamelessly suffocating this beautiful place.Everyone is in a hurry,even I was,to meet this special person.Finally,after traversing miles within the metro,I met her outside Gate No. 6.With a childlike innocence and charm on her face,she looked eager for this unknown adventure.It was her first ever trekking experience and she looked all set with her bold blue backpack,determined spirit and inspiring smile.We both quickly marched through streets of Connaught place to search for a good restaurant.After circling around for quite a while,we finally found an art cafe.Soulful tracks,beautiful paintings and sumptuous food was enough to get us going for our venture.After few hours of crazy conversations,experimental coffee shots and berating Delhi culture,we were jumping in excitement.We reached ISBT to catch a bus to Dehradun scheduled for 10 pm.We reached ISBT at 9 pm and felt we had many light years before we catch our bus.In this deluded state,we sat down on the only seat that was empty.We had our usual tea and accidently bought an unusual book:5 am Club by Robin Sharma.To this date,I wonder why I bought that book or Why did I never woke up at 5 am or Why did Nikki suggest me this gem?
Dehradun has a special place in my heart.We imagined ourself being awestruck by upcoming thrilling Himalayan experience,talked endlessly on human values and bought kachha Mango Candy(it was that phase in our relationship) at 2 am.I made an unsuccessful attempt to sleep and she was already asleep as we reached Doon Station at 5 am.(Sleeping is her passion and overthinking is mine)
Himalayan Experience:I had already trekked once with India hikes and had an incredible experience.Scenes outside Dehradun Station resembled summer fair; families with children, enthusiastic youngsters and spirited older folks were all waiting in excitement.Summer vacation, unlivable city life and newly discovered mountain spirit of Indians was responsible for this grand festival.We had to wait for an hour before we started our journey.My partner was jumping with joy, excitement and bit of nervousness.I assured her of an incredible and beautiful journey.
As we drove over hills, capturing the beauty of Ganga Asi river,breathtaking valleys and mesmerising trees,I felt completely at home.Nature always brings me back to peace.After absorbing pristine sights for few hours,we halted at a small Dhaba(road site eating place in India) for lunch.Just leaving the city and entering hills gives me immense joy.My dream in life was always to chase butterflies on mountains rather than green notes in the city.I wish,someday I achieve this dream.We reached Kaflon campsite around 2 pm.I,my partner(let`s call her Nikki,because she is a total character) and unfamiliar families stepped out with a dream of exploring lower himalayas.After a short circuitos trek up(even this was challenging for Nikki yet she showed grit and anger and climbed with a sarcastic smile).Shining bright yellow tents welcomed us on this awesome day as we saw the leader and his team waving from a distance.
Day 1:Kaflon Campsite:Our trek leader Vijeet welcomed us with welcome drinks.He introduced us to his amazing cook Harpal and his masterchef team. Ever smiling Pankaj bhaiyya was our co-guide.Vijeet made us play an innovative game to help everyone remember each other`s name. I could easily spot few 10 years old genius boys in that game.One of them was indeed remarkable.His name was Adith and he was unabashed,super curious and funny.I,Nikki and Adith had a short trek down the hill in the evening.Boy was indeed a genius rap artist with immense knowledge on history,geography,mountains and almost any subject you can recollect.His prefontal cortex was in advance stage of development.Nikki also had a special talent(apart from sleeping and talking).She invariably finds a serene,beautiful and perfect spot to simply get lost in nature.Yes, she found it in a flash and we could absorb the vibrant air,graceful aura of Mountains and mystical lights from the sky.We quietly listened to chirping of birds,soothing sound of water from the lake and ever majestic colorful sky.Campsite was sheer delight and with her it was even better.
Our team had dinner at 7 pm where trek leaders gave us basic instructions on precautions to be taken before the trek.Food was sumptuous and Night sky was even more beautiful with stars and galaxies igniting my already elevated mood.Another exciting part of trekking on mountains is sleeping in tents.They provide you with sleeping bags and expect you to sleep in a cosy manner.I struggle to sleep anywhere and mountains were no different.While my partner could sleep literally anywhere and everywhere and sleeping bags just gave her an additional boost to pursue her passion.
Trek leader had given us clear instructions to wake up at 5,breakfast at 6 and start trek at 7.Most difficult part of the trek is waking up at 5 and getting out of that cosy comfortable sleeping bag.Excitement to explore beauty of himalayan forests pushed us out of our tent.Team got ready to start the adventure.Before we could start our trek,we were taught how to dismantle our tent.It was fun to learn new skills in this expedition.
As we began our journey to our first campsite-Shiladuni,enthusiasm of adults was at par with kids.Trekking up the mountains with backpack is a skill to master,if you get it wrong,you suffer a lot while climbing.Nikki felt the weight of backpack while making her way up,it was her first time and she clearly was struggling.She never gives up and that is her strength,she carried on without assistance in scorching sun as we crossed a village on the way to our first pitstop.Adith kept us engaged by his astonising stories of himalayan wildlife and forest expedition,even Trek leader Vijeet was impressed by the depth of his knowledge.I meanwhile was trying out different stunts like crossing a stream on wooden logs(that could fall off and send me to heaven).While the crowd cheered me on,Nikki clearly wasn`t impressed by this stunt.She is never impressed by poems,letters and gifts or even genuine praise,she is a strange sweet girl.We moved on through pristine forests, decorated by rhododendrons, green oak, brown oak and a few maple trees.As we cross these lush green beauties,we could hear melodious sounds of Himalayan birds.This place is a heaven for bird watchers.As Adith and Trek leaders were sharing inspirational mountain expedition stories,Nikki was gasping for breath(her backpack was proving to be a difficult companion for her) and I was simply absorbing nature`s delight in the most innocent and spectacular form.I forgot to mention our loquacious Gujarati Fan boy group of 5,who were enjoying this trek in their unique yet loud obnoxious way.I felt bad for Himalayan birds for their tranquility was disturbed by overenthusiastic humans.We reached Shiladuni Campsite around 1 pm. Place was serene,green and beautiful as is most of the places in lower Himalayas with less human footprints.It felt as if I was finally home.
Team Leader Vijeet asked us to assemble in a circle.Stretching exercises to relax our muscles was a fun way to release tiredness of the day.Soon after,we got instructions to make our tent in this glorious place.Making your own tent was a fun exercise(not for everyone though,Adith and Nikki were least excited for this activity).After 20 minutes of struggle and help from trek team,everyone managed to build their tent. It felt like an achievement to build your own house from the scratch.After a short afternoon nap on this magnificent meadow,our team was bubbling with energy to play ball at 7000 feet.After much deliberation, we chose to play “Pitthu”.Pitthu is a crazy Indian ball and stone game,where you either hit the stone or get hit by the ball or simply run to evade attack.Anyways,it was super fun and exciting to watch everyone play with freedom despite the difference in age group.Forget everything,live the moment and just enjoy the game.That`s the beauty of any sports.Sports unites,brings out innocence and sheer joy in people.After this breathtaking game in which 12 years old Adith almost never got caught by mere old mortals like us,we decided to call it a day.Vijeet narrated some unbelievable stories on famous mountaineers and their indomitable spirit in extreme conditions.It was a day to remember for life as folks of all age group from 9 to 45,got together and played Pitthu (In reality-An Indian game played with stones and balls,where you break the stones or save yourself from getting hit by the ball as opponent chase) at such an high altitude.9 years young,energetic and swift Adith being chased by 20 and 30 years old legs was a scene to cherish.Effervescent Evening turned into a gorgeous glorious night.
Camping on mountains at night is an unforgettable experience.Star gazing at night, when our very own milky way with it`s fascinating constellations, welcomes you with glitter,hope and excitement.It is a sight you cannot miss.You look up,absorb the vastness of space and pray sincerely,you don`t want this night to end.
Next day ,Team got ready by 7 am as Journey was longer and more challenging.After having delicious breakfast,we set forth to our next campsite:Chaithathar.We Trek through a forest patch for an hour, where Green Oak trees are dominant. This is where the maple trees start competing with the oak trees in vegetation. Soon after that we cross a small stream using wooden logs and stones placed on it. We hiked for an hour with a steep ascent and then through oak and bamboo forests.Finally,we reached our campsite by afternoon.Nikki had a dream of camping in the middle of the forest and today her dream finally came true.Campsite was surrounded by dense forests on one side and a breathtaking view of valleys on the other side.
Playing games,making tents and enjoying sounds of melodious Himalayan birds(which you can rarely spot unless you are an expert in bird watching).Bird watching is a serious profession as displayed by two middle aged warriors of our diversity rich trek team.Sophisticated fancy cameras on their back and desperate dreams to capture Himalayan Splendour. My dream is simple:Chasing butterflies on mountains.It sets me free and I feel limitless.As I was lost in this beautiful meadow,I turned around to see what my precious partner was upto.My already sensitive eyes took absolute astonishment as Nikki literally disappeared in fresh air.I searched around her along with my crew.I almost had a minor heart attack when I saw a reflection besides a lake.On the other side,was a massive mystical rock.On it sat my magical princess,in a meditative Yogic pose.I was stunned by the equanimity of the moment and her serene reflection in the lake.My trek leader Vijeet had only yesterday told us about a spirit that roamed in this magnificent eerie lake.I began to wonder and rushed towards her in anxious careless steps.
Mystery of Mountains never fail to surprise me.Was that my illusion or is she really emanating that glorious rusty radiance?Suddenly,she had become Sun on this starry serendipitous evening.Stranger things happen in most beautiful of places.
Nikki,Nikki,Nikki,I shouted to only hear a powerful echo of “OM,OM,OM”
I always find something funny even in dark situations,but this moment stunned me in silence.Suddenly I was one with mountains and everyone and everything around.
Stranger days call for strange weather and strange weather calls for Stranger situations.I know,it`s a strange start to my weird witty venture.As I prepare to dive into another extraordinary day of freakish adventure in our enterprising arena,I am still smiling inside simply thinking about-my notorious gems(Sappy,Kaashi,Chintu…).Human mind is the most powerful tool yet our notorious gems are using power of thoughts to play havoc in otherwise seemingly tepid space.You can`t discredit them for the unintentional fun they provide by just being who they are.Yes,these unintentional natural adventure, at times take your breathe away,yet it`s a price I am willing to pay.I am a brave man.A wise man never said,”to survive among notoriety requires stupidity and courage”
As I enter the main gates of my Arena,I am greeted by rather tense looking grumpy guy:Rama.Like Lord Rama,it seems even he has suffered a lot.We had a mini conversation as we did a security check in( bags are screened to detect if we carry AK-47 inside).But our goons don`t need a gun,they kill most of them with their lovely logic.Most days our X-ray machine goes to auto sleep mode.Our sleepy insecure guy daily checks our temperature(post corona days) ,only to realise that gun is not working.What a wonderful start to this rather riveting day.
I look above,see a bunch of clouds gathering to play devil,As if our notorious gems weren`t enough.One thing that has bothered me the most in the post corona era is wearing a malicious mask.Struggle is real.I only hope that I find my perfect mask before the vaccine is discovered.I have tried all numbers from N95 to 85 to 83 to infinity,none provide the ecstasy I am looking for while running frantically in field in this moisture laden atmosphere.I walk further towards my office as I hear a loud thump nearby.As I glance further,I see an innocent aluminium sheet blown away by violent winds.It seems,even the roof wasn`t happy with the civil work and decided to throw away her clothes in protest of her poor maintenance.I am angry and amused,I am shocked and at peace,these contrasting emotions are common as you enter my blissful arena.Today,I was excited more than ever as I was given charge of a fancy project.I took a deep breath and closed my eyes for a second and when I reconnected with the world,I saw BlissedOutBoy waving at me.
“Are we going take shutdown of the unit” he asked
“Let me reach office first and then we will see,based on priority or weather or team`s mood”,I said politely.Unfortunately or fortunately to most of the folks here,kindness is taken as a sign of freedom.Freedom to relax as per our misty mood,freedom to vanish in polluted air and freedom to argue with the most beautifully constructed lame statements.Working with notorious gems is fun and risky at times.I am a brave guy,I take risks even if it only provides me some moments of insane laughter.C`mon,every man or woman deserves atleast few laughs per day.I think our company should provide incentive to smiling faces,atleast this will motivate our gems to be more cheerful.Already the weather is gloomy.
Scene 2:I reach office,put my bags on intricately made post independence charming chair.I gently greet Nana(our cool canteen guy who always has some mischievous stories to share about other families,mostly about how that boy ran away with that girl and how boisterous barber sneaked into his village in post corona era).Anyways,Nana is a no-nonsense guy and charismatic than most of the folks frolicking in my artistic arena.
“why are you feeling down Nana”, I asked(not to poke just a genuine concern).Poking people is another wonderful habit seen in my space.
“Nobody drinks my tea nowadays,Damn this Corona”,he said in a deflated tone.(Nana never talks in English,this is just an attempt to translate from Marathi language and Marathi I understand is as good as how Sappy understands rest,well Sappy never takes a rest).
Nana was refering to covid19 fear.Symptoms of covid19 fear are far more lethal than covid19 fever.We will get back to covid19 fear discussion later if you call me for tea in your house.For now,I wait for management to guide my heart and soul.I barely open my computer and log in when telephone rings.
“Today,you must follow up with this big project.” said,Management
“Okay sir”,I said. Okay sir is the most misused phrase used in our arena.
It rarely indicates agreement and in most cases it is just an acknowledgement by the gang members,sometimes polite.Okay sir may indicate it is not possible as there is no manpower or rather brain power.
Okay sir may be used in variety of situations.It is used mostly as an effective shield to save you from saying something embarrassing or even truth.Well,truth is mostly embarrassing because nobody accepts it.
As I put down my receiver,I take another deep breath.You need plenty of deep breath if you want to survive in my arena.I look for adventure bag to drink protein smoothie.Extra energy is lost when dealing with absolute notoriety of highest level.As I begin to plan for the day,another one rings.
“Sir,we need fireman in zombie unit”,said Shikari
“I will ask management to provide one,till then don`t start anything” I said.
Shikari and his team always throw tweaky tantrum whenever real work is assigned to them.Shikari clan are badass and fearless,they roam around like Elephants in my arena.They rarely listen to anybody and continue to eat grass(stone face clan).I know,this doesn`t make sense,but what does,in my cute arena.
I get ready for the big project.I dress up in my fancy orange suit and yellow smelly helmet,with adventure bag and extra mask.I reach the site only to find my funny mate:sameshirt enjoying the shade of nearby banyan tree.
“Sir,thank God you are here,we can start now”.said sameshirt
“what do you mean? Where is the in-charge? it`s already 11”,I asked in a puzzled tone.
Sameshirt is an uncanny character.I always find him near a tree,wearing same dreadful shirt every beautiful day.I wonder,how many sets of that shirt he has or is it the same shirt. Ofcourse,I don`t make risky attempt to recognize the smell.Mercaptan(chemical whose smell remains with you even after you leave your body) is enough to put me in a dazed delirious state.(I love alliterations).
Drama begins.I search for Innocuous Project Incharge.His face looks like,he won`t even dare to trouble an ant.Here as well,he is showing no sign of troubling this project by his suspicious absence.I take another deep breathe and drink my protein smoothie.On the other side of the road,I find Birbal 2.0 making headway towards the Arena.Birbal 2.0 always has something intelligent and interesting to share.(A rare moment of sanity in my eternal timeline of madness).
“In-Charge is not on site and the permit is not yet ready,we shouldn`t allow the work as per XYZ.abc code.” He said
“You are right mate but I got orders from management.We are already running late”I said in a hurried voice.
Birbal 2.0 expects our gang to follow XYZ.abc code rules where our gems don`t even wear Safety shoes in the Arena.Birbal 2.0 is a stubborn and funny guy.Just as I was moving closer to the arena,I saw Innocuous Incharge(I.I) making headway towards the arena.
“Where are your warriors? I can only see Capitalletter walking aimlessly inside the arena”,I said in a tone mixed with angst and amusement.
“smallletter is coming soon.Till then,you can ask Capitalletter to line up the valve(a device that regulate flow)”,He said in a tone that didn`t sound enthusiastic or hopeful.
I was wondering how on Earth are we managing such a precious project with these bunch of comics.Well,even I was part of this pristine play now. Capitalletter is a bubbly boisterous badass character.He loves claiming big stuffs without a hint of embarrasment or fear.He knows everything under the sun except the work assigned to him.(He will have a great bonding with our notorious gems,I smiled in silence).
I.I(,Innocuous Incharge)ordered Capitalletter to check the pressure at the top of the tank as my blood pressure shot up watching his dwindling steps towards the tricky tank.Birbal 2.0 silently yet closely monitors the comedy of errors and notes down the details.Another warning mail to my team is in the pipeline.Play had barely begun and I can only jump,run,tackle or sit with my head facing towards sky as I wait for divine to save us from this dubious derilious activity.I miss my notorious gems today and Sappy`s coconut water shots as I direct this already misguided play to it`s comical conclusion.
Meanwhile,Sameshirt is still enjoying the serene shade of nearby Banyan tree.I smile and turn back to see an avalanche of water entering our arena.Another notoriety knocked on the doors,so I ran again with a mix of fear and amusement(my eternal state).
Wear mask,Drink coconut water and stay sane.See you soon.
Scene 1:In the Post Corona era,everyone looks a goon with a mask,some cute,others threatening and wild,while most strange and lost.It’s a weird new world that has led to evolution of already notorious eccentric characters in my land.
Sappy was just over five feet with an innocent illuminating face donning a green mask.Yet looking at his eyes,you could see he had the eyes of the tiger,spirit of a champion and was here to rule.Sappy had that affable yet powerful aura that shone bright in this unforgiving summer in Belapur. He was the leader of diligent goon squad.
Wearing a full cover mask with a fancy goggle enters our local dude goon,Kaashi. Guy is tall,dark and handsome yet full of poise,presence and serenity.He only works in emergency,a no non-sense guy who otherwise maintains a low profile.
I am greeted by Sappy`s benevolent smile.When I first joined the arena,even I was mistaken by his innocent smile,affable persona and boyish appearance.After witnessing few of his heroic deeds,I am in awe of his raw,ravenous and fearless personality.I refer to him as Tiger Goon,always on the move,hunting for a new leakage in our arena.
Then comes Chintu,small in size but always full of overflowing nonsensical gesture. Chintu possesses grit without concrete knowledge(common characteristics of his mini gang).Last night,there was a gas leakage at our arena and I,along with Sappy and Kaashi were called upon to handle the situation
Me(in polite tone to Sappy):Can we depressurise this pipeline?
Sappy(in super confident tone):Sir,Lords blessings are there,we shall do it.Let us first ensure that all valves are closed( For non technical folks:valve is a device that controls the flow in pipelines).
Me:Cool,lets go along.
Scene 2:In scorching heat and unforgiving mercaptan(chemical whose smell lingers with you for multiple lifetimes) smell,our diligent gang set out to arrest the stubborn leakage.
Sappy along with kaashi and his junior Nani,were walking along the pipelines as if there was a war on the other side of the arena.Purpose was to find a way to isolate the pipeline.Sappy was using every cell of his prefontal cortex to devise a plan to do this seemingly formidable task.Kaashi was as usual cool donning dark shades and carefully examining the arena.Suddenly,Kaashi starts sprinting for no reason.I look around for any danger and then follow him with both curiosity and fear.He saw a giant lizard sprawling around this bizarre broken arena.
Sappy(in strange tone):Did you see that thing?
Me(in urgent tone):We have an urgent leakage to attend.We can`t lose time,playing man v/s wild here.
Sappy signalled to Nani to bring 3 m long hose pipe.Thus,began our crazy rescue operation.It is far easier to learn quantum physics than to find a way to isolate lines in our arena.I ordered notorious Chintu to bring materials for fixing up pipe connection.Circus had already begun with Cool Kashi crossing crazy crevis filled pipelines with a spanner in his hand with an ease that is only seen when Roger Federer serves Forehand on court.
Nani brought the flexible pipe and some hope with it as sun shone as bright as confidence reflected on Sappy`s face.
Our Big Boss:Einstein,called to know the status.Just like Einstein,most of our gang members go numb,start floating in air or refuse to breathe for few seconds as he floats a genius idea in our innocent impressionable minds.This one`s hair is not as frizzy as Einstein yet his mind seems to be more complicated than our great scientist.Einstein encourages us to try arresting the leakage by making some provision to depressurise the line.Mere mortals as we are,we set upon this risky yet ridiculous task,as I come out of my momentary coma state(state I usually experience when I receive genius advise from Einstein).
I sat alone in the scorching heat,thinking of another idiotic strategy to solve this magnificent problem.Sappy said,he will take a break to drink coconut water.Sappy is an expert in climbing trees and on our minds(if you let it rumble free).How on earth does this petite figure gain incredible energy to climb coconut trees and bring us sweetest coconut water to drink,is unimaginable.Sappy is on drugs,I assume or he is a special spirit.As I further deepen my imagination,Kaashi and Nani vanish,as if in this polluted mercaptan filled air.I begin search operation by contacting them on walkie-talkie.Walkie-Talkie is a strange communication device,where you always end up talking to yourself because you rarely find the person you want to communicate to,on the other side.It`s far easier to track Dawood Ibrahim than to know whereabouts of our notorious gang members.
Alas,I finally found them.We began our never ending task of depressurising this rather stubborn line.It seems,God is filling it up every time we empty it.To lighten already comical scenario in our quasy arena,I strike up a conversation with fire man.fire man is someone who is supposed to be alert and active and put off fire to save us.This one seemed the most carefree,partially enlightened guy.
Pardon me for using this format for writing conversation.I will change it in my next story.
Fireman:sit for a while,let`s enjoy the air,the day is long
Me(frantically):Day is long but our tender lives can be short if we dont act now.Already half a day has passed and leakage is still not arrested.
Fireman(in calm tone):Whatever has to happen,will happen.Why worry mate.
Fireman seems a big fan of Murphy.He has already accepted his fate,he has no fire left in his already protruding ballooning belly.
Sappy to me seems the only real hope in this comical tragical situation.I turn to him to resolve this problem.
Sappy(in perpetual confident tone):Don`t Worry Sir,Lord`s Blessings are with us.We shall conquer this.
In him at that moment,I could simultaneously see Russell Crowe(In Gladiator) and Tom Hanks(in Forest Gump),Always ready to fight and run.Kaashi quietly went about his task to fix the clamp on the pipeline.
By manual intervention of adjacent irritating neighbourhood pipe(lines are so close,I am really curious to find out who designed this system,must have been a super optimistic or total nut guy to have faith in this vulnerable arena).
Kaashi and Nani suddenly changed their Avatar and donned on dedication cap to somehow arrest this ever flowing divine gas.
As flow in the line reduced,my hope rose like a phoenix and in my mind,I repeated cliche Obama statement:Yes,We can.And we did.Even I was taken aback,part amused by the turn of the events.
Sappy celebrated the victory by climbing another coconut tree.Kaashi removed his glasses and helmet to set himself free.I along with Nani sat beside the nearby Mango tree.
Another astonishing day ended in the arena.Characters in our arena always keep it alive,arduous and light.
Until Next time,Sleep well,drink coconut water and Wear mask.
I get up,take a deep breath and imagine what my day could be like.It could be anything but boring.As I move out of my house in this pandemic era,a strange serene feeling pulls me in,just when I seem to get lost in oblivion, chirping of birds reminds me that I must hurry up to catch my bus.Bus arrives,I hop in,apply sanitizer in mid air before I touch the handles(it takes courage to travel in bus in these times).Our Company has advised social distancing in bus.My colleagues(covered by mask),try their best to follow the rules.Yet,there are days we see bus is completely full.Why on earth are non essential employees coming for essential services,but it seems definition of essential has changed for our company.
I reach my gate,security uses scanner to check my temperature.I enter inside only to bump with this super enthusiastic jovial middle age smiling soul.
Joyce:Hi sir,today we will get the pipeline ready.
I move ahead to witness few contract employees already working without helmet or mask or shoes or all of them.I am amused as I don`t understand removing scrap as essential services in our site where most of the machinery have already turned into scrap(non functional).My conscientious self realizes and I instruct these risk takers to wear PPE(personal protective equipment).Safety has become a joke at my site.
As I move further towards office,I meet rather grim looking employee.Being a curious soul,I enquire about the cause of his unhappiness.
Unhappy guy:I have to come to office daily while my colleague is at home ,lying in bed and lying that he is in hometown.He is getting salary for free.
(Note that,this is lockdown phase and employees who are stuck in different states cant report to office but will be considered present as this emergency situation courtesy Covid-19)
I have never seen this guy ever work sincerely and how proudly he complains of other`s misconduct.I smiled in my mind after gently nodding at whatever beautiful verse he was reciting.It was rhythmic,funny and filled with pain.Pain of having to work in emergency.I can understand his pain,as guy never worked during normal times.I can empathize.
After 2 beautiful encounters,I finally reached my office where I meet Mr. 10x.
10x:I have heard a new study saying that Corona virus will engulf half of mumbai.
Me:Calm down,let me have tea first.
Right then,Kaka appeared with his kettle of tea and samosa.
Me:Just give me tea
Kaka: Why have your hair grown so much.In our village,we are inviting barbers to cut hair at home,you can come with me.
Me:Thank you kaka for your kind gesture,I am good.Long flowing hair sets me in a different flow state.
Now,you can understand.Characters in my office are special,unique and super funny. I havent even begun my day and I have already had enough humor for the day.I have a large appetite for laughs,one ought to,if working in my unit.You wont survive,if you take people seriously here.I am serious.
I call my junior engineer-Mr. deflated.Guy is sincere,hard working but lacks enthusiasm for work.I ask him to check the leakage of exchanger and convey me the status by Walkie Talkie.Then Mr. Sophisticated calls me and subtly ask me to check the status of another project. I am already feeling dizzy and only an hour has passed.My job here is not only varied,challenging and risky but is extremely funny because of the team involved.
As I get up to go to field,I call my super eccentric driver-MUbi
Mubi(in broken english):I am down,come soon.
Mubi is always willing to learn anything whether it is the technical details of my unit or english language.I love his energy and eccentric way to approach life.
I reach field to check on the special project.I go there and witness the usual.Workers toiling hard in unforgiving sun without proper mask or social distancing.I urge them to follow the rules and ask where their incharge is.I have never in my life,seen any project start and end on time.
Sweaty worker 1 -Mr. Zee has gone to get the permit.
I was shocked to hear that workers are coming to unit by getting bashed up by police(they haven`t got special permission to work in this pandemic).But then,the way he describes the incident,sends me in shameful laughter.
Sweaty worker says in a joyous tone:This is our usual routine(getting bashed up by Police)
Me:How have you entered the premises without one?
I empathised with them and assured them justice,.Its tragic and funny how inhuman we become just to get promotion in an organisation.
This is just the trailer,as I narrate you real stories of our special maintenance projects,you won`t believe it.
From running to get studs from stores to finding unusual sound in the unit to plucking coconut from trees.Woods are lovely and filled with coconuts and people go nuts drinking this holy water.Workers leave their assigned work and religiously pluck coconut like a professional.
Mubi drops me back to office for lunch.After intellectually stimulating discussion with the team,I am ready for post lunch drama.
I try my level best to contact Mr. Jovial on whether he has got the material Not even a trace of Mr. Jovial or material.My next search was for Mr. deflated.Ironically,my Walkie – Talkie breaks down,whenever I need it the most.Just like my coworkers work efficiency.
I have no option but to again go to field in search of my mates.I reach the destination and is welcomed by not so beautiful sight.Site was full of water due to leakage from pipe.I called in supervisor Mario.
Mario:Sir,stores are closed,we will replace the pipe tomorrow.
Me:Where is the fireman?
Mario pointed in a direction where I saw a stout lazy guy sitting in the shade.How will he ever save us from fire,sitting in such dilapidated state.I woke him up from delirious state.It was already 5 and exchanger cleaning was still pending.
I was in deep thought as I remembered my day.It started with false promises,complaints and comical idiosyncrasies and ended in gross violation of safety.I could feel the pain of that sweaty worker(who somehow came to office even after getting beaten up) and my deflated employee whose efforts wasn`t being recognized and of course Hero Mr. Jovial,who has his own independent style of working.
Everyday in office brings so many stories untold,characters unseen and situations imagined. As I continue to work as maintenance engineer at site,you will have many more stories to hear.
Until then see you ,stay safe and Happy Quarantine.
It seemed a quiet evening as we left our home with tons of ashirwaad, 2 bagpacks and lots of hope on our shoulders.We took a cab to mumbai airport with hope,excitement and glimpses of tiredness in our gleaming eyes.(We havent slept in last few days due to hectic schedule,our idiosyncrasies and of-course extraordinary packing strategy of my partner in adventure).Oh,I forgot to introduce-“we”,We includes my cute wild curious partner Rudie and my sane sincere sulky self.We reached airport in an hour,bid goodbye to our parents and were ready to fly.
We checked in smoothly,had usual quarrels and serenely sat at a cafe to have masala dosa and coffee.Enthusiasm had gripped our not so calm nerves,just then I received a beautiful message-your flight is delayed by two hours. I conveyed this wonderful news to my PIA(partner in adventure).We had few more hours at this stunning airport to explore.As time passed,we had already galloped Mexican pasta, window shopped at fancy jacket shop and had usual nitpicks on our way to our boarding gate.We reached Delhi Airport around midnight.Our first international flight was at 6:30 am in the morning(more than 6 hours at this darling airport) .My PIA had this amazing idea of downloading south Indian movie by airport`s WiFi,Oh! how it failed miserably.Our usual idiosyncrasies included gauging the mood of the people at airport(our fellow travelers).Around 3 am with drowsy delirious dreamy eyes,we went for check in and then to irritating immigration line.For some strange reason,half asleep immigration guy failed to stamp my passport.This bemused my PIA more than my strange acts.After this adventure,we dutifully waited for Turkish airlines not before having sumptuous early morning north Indian food at Delhi heights.We reached our gate an hour before take off .PIA drowned in her favorite hobby as soon as she saw a seat-dozed off delightfully.I was left watching her and hundred other passengers on this crazy sleep deprived morning at Delhi Airport.
Missing Istanbul:Turkish Airlines had comfortable seating with blankets,quiet passengers and entertainment screen(perfect recipe for PIA).I was waiting for flight to take off while doing my favorite hobby:observing people,worrying about possible disasters and thinking on common issues like life of an air-hostess ,cosmic energy and my purpose of existence.Another long flight and I fear another bout of irritating infamous insomnia, PIA is an expert in subject that concerns closing your eyes and cutting off from this physical world(sleeping as they call it).She requested me to play some strange english movie whose name I cannot remember.She insisted that we watch this strange movie together(synchronized second by second),she paused my screen every time I went few seconds ahead of her,I never understood this strange obsession of her.This went on for few more minutes before she finally agreed to watch at our own pace.I took a sigh of relief and waited for food to arrive.After PIA dozed off,I eagerly waited for something to satisfy my taste buds.Elegantly dressed in red and white, air-hostess came to me and asked me in the sweetest voice I have ever heard,”would you like tea or coffee?”,I replied with a smile,”tea for me and a blanket for PIA”.PIA was already feeling cold(we were yet to enter Europe).Besides PIA,sat a stout strong serious looking man probably in his late 30s. He greeted me with namaste. In my bid to engage in interesting conversation,I asked him if he ever visited India.He indeed had explored God`s own country(Kerala) and most foul mouthed capital state in the world(Delhi).Suddenly PIA woke up from her serene sleep and asked our European neighbor,”We have only 1.5 hrs layover time at Istanbul and our flight is already an hour late,will we be able to catch our ongoing flight to Vienna?”.I was stunned,here we were discussing about travel and culture and in no time,PIA diverted the topic amicably in a bid to calm her travel anxiety.She constantly stared at the screen that displayed time to arrive and speed,as if she could convince the pilot to push at rocket speed.She is a funny girl.I chuckled silently,though our neighbor told her in a sincere and assuring tone,”I have been to Istanbul a dozen times,Don`t worry,you will be there on time,Istanbul is a beautiful city”
Our European neighbor was from Slovakia and did tell us about the history of separation from Czech and similarity of rivalries between Slovakian and Czech folks as it is between Mumbai and Pune folks. Guy seemed well read and confident about everything he spoke.His assurance calmed PIA`s nerves and we landed in Istanbul at noon.We had an hour to catch our next flight.
PIA had this special power,she could sense if something was wrong.Yet ,to me and my Slovak friend,everything seemed normal.We swiftly made our way out of the plane and were excited to catch our next flight to Vienna. Tall,elegant and yet little panicky in posture,airport assistant,immediately asked us to run for the next flight.We saw the time,we had an hour,Slovak gave us a “been there,done that” look.We nodded and followed him, as he went from 0 to 60 km/hr in 10 seconds,we knew we were in trouble.I have never seen PIA run with such speed,tenacity and vigor ever in my life.On our supersonic speed run,5 others joined in and together 8 of us displayed Olympic level performance.We ran,clock ran and we found we had to do security check again.Goodness me,it was touch and go now.By special request from lanky Slovak,we were allowed to enter VIP line.Only 15 minutes was left and we ran frantically towards the gate. PIA never expected adventure to be so taxing on her legs.She still had hope in her eyes.We climbed upstairs,ran and again went downstairs,ran and ran and ran.Alas,we finally reached the gate only to read the dreadful line-“Gates are closed”
What an incredible start to our honeymoon trip.Roller coaster ride had just begun.I looked behind to see PIA in shock,some strange Russian in tears and our Slovak leader giving blank look.Journey had just begun.
Rains in Mumbai bring alive everything:Flora,aroma and my dwindling spirit.It looked a normal night as I boarded my office bus on 25th July 2019. Rhythmic drizzles,gentle winds and my pleasant emotions left me in a musical state.I was enjoying my peaceful space when suddenly rains took an upsurge,emotions became intense and winds turned hostile.It was a sign of things to come.My bus takes an adventurous route everyday as it has to battle with mighty nuisance on the roads(not cows but massive trailers,trucks and potholes).Battling potholes,unceremonious replies by strangers on road and of course stoned trailer driver`s driving skills,it is a challenge to reach the office safely.On our way,we face a legendary bridge whose designers must be rewarded for the most illogical design ever(bridge is constructed in a way as to maximize traffic and verbal spats from fellow drivers on the road).We reached that fateful bridge in 45 minutes.Our amazing driver forgot to reroute the bus despite seeing standstill traffic on this dilapidated bridge.Trailer on our left accidentally got in contact with the one on the right and we were stuck.Both the drivers ran away in fear of police.Real reason for this beautiful situation was not driving but intricately designed potholes.It takes far less time to create potholes after rains on this masterpiece than to download an app on android.It is remarkable to see how fast this road gets damaged(faster than your own reputation).
As the intensity of rains rose,so did the anger of our senior employees on board.Mr. Hotshot lashed onto our driver for being careless and stubborn.Our driver indeed was stubborn and he showed no response.
Mr. hotshot:You should have diverted the bus before the bridge.Let`s go back home now.
Mr. Hotshot is famous for creating scenes in normal situations,and this was emergency and his time to go full crazy.12 hapless passengers stuck in heavy rains on a bridge that could collapse any moment.Our kind in-charge informed our unit head(or chief entertaining officer) to send emergency vehicle for rescue.Unit head is an amazing character who gives false promises(just like our government).He was more interested in knowing who is crying in the middle of the road than to send emergency car.Meanwhile,I,hotshot,my kind in-charge,Over-smart local,cool driver and Rock-star cleaner(who was busy in playing pubg) went out to tackle the situation or at least pretend to show concern(as we all Indians love to do).Mosquitoes inside the bus were anyway making life more miserable so getting out in the rain seemed a smart decision.Still,some passengers chose to donate their blood to some hungry flying creatures.I silently admired their laziness,courage and patience.
Traffic police managed to catch hold of fleeing driver.After giving him a ego satisfying spank,he instructed him to start the trailer.This is the only rare moment when he feels like a hero(attacking an unarmed under age driver).Policeman arranged a crane to pull the trailer meanwhile hotshot was still spewing venom on this gloomy shaky thunderous night.CEO(Chief entertainer officer) was still struggling to provide emergency vehicle. Over smart local was giving some earth shaking ideas on how to reach office.I prayed,I laughed and I looked on with hope.Observing such characters giving their best performance on a rather thrilling night,was definitely entertaining.
Our company recently made it to top 100 in fortune 500 list and I was still cursing our fortune to have got such an inept,clueless and comical CEO.Getting back to our bridge scene where everyone eagerly observed trailer being pulled forward after relentless attempt and of course non stop unreasonable chatter by Mr. hotshot.Our kind in-charge was too kind to slap Mr. hotshot.Situation demanded cool head and he kept his head.We all waited in anticipation,soaked in the rains and experienced scary vibrations of the bridge.One by one,both the trailers were moved out of the way.I took a deep breath and thanked Traffic policeman for his heroic deed.
Our kind in-charge informed our CEO about the situation.CEO was ecstatic as he again had to display zero responsibility(his most preferred style of working).This was a night I will remember forever.From the rage of the rains,trembling bridge,outburst of Mr. hotshot and coolness of our cleaner(playing pubg in this situation).Everything was unique,beautiful,ugly,dangerous and comical at the same time.
Truth is stranger than fiction and it indeed was on that night.