Friday, August 29, 2008

The Lost Samurai

Looks like I have been on search for reasons to look back. Look back at things that bring a smile, look back at things that make me sad, at things which make me feel guilty, ashamed of my self, there are some things which make me feel good but very few. It’s a kind of mixed bag as it should be. But I have not come far forward yet to be looking back. Wonder what is wrong.

However, coming to the point of this looking back, the samurai. Infact, the lost samurai. It was not lost till I found it. Few days back, as usual I reached office around 8. Straight to canteen to keep my lunch (fruit salad, have been eating healthy lately) in the refrigerator. The door that connects the canteen to the office has a window next to it. As soon as I opened the door I saw the samurai lying on the edge of the window staring at me. The lost samurai was found.

She was quite a hottie. Hot enough for people in the office back in India to call her Sharapova. Since the day she had arrived many guys were trying their luck on her. With time the stories started building. And when my driver told me that he has seen, in the rear view mirror, she and another colleague making out I started believing most of the stories. Within a month of her arrival there were two guys who had supposedly done it. Another lady in the office put it this way “Sab behti Ganga mein haath dho rahe hain” (every one is making the best use of the opportunity).

I have certain masks that I wear in various roles of my life, just like most of us do. In my social life I have maintained a reputation which I guess is of being a simple, nice and maybe not very notorious kind of person. No reasons I guess, it is just the way it is. Although how much of me is that would be hard to say. Still those days even I had a thought or two, in fact more than that, of trying my hands out in this behti Ganga. However, there was a reputation at stake. I hesitated but the devil inside was not going to be satisfied without one attempt.

One evening after managing some courage and practicing what I was going to say many times I dialed her number. After what seemed an agonizingly long time someone picked up the line. The voice was of a male. That too very familiar. “Hello sir. What’s up?” a junior from work answered. After saying something stupid, I don’t even remember what, I hung up. Luckily for me this call was not discussed or I never heard about it but that was end of my attempts in this case.

So where does the samurai comes in. Pardon me for digressing. My keychain is one of the things which do not go with my mood. In other words it is too colorful and full of life unlike me. There are various key chains put together, anywhere between 4-8 rings, 5-15 keys at any given time. The Samurai was a happy member of my key chain family till I lost it. So the girl in discussion on one of her trips to her home brought gifts for everyone in the office and I happened to get a key chain with a cute little ‘kid’ samurai and it said “The Samurai” on top. Good that it said this otherwise no one would have easily assumed the little guy to be a samurai. When I got it my key chain was still building up and along with others the samurai became a part of it.

The ring on the little samurai’s head is broken and it can not be fixed and hence my happy key chain family is one member short. The key chain family has been losing members at a rapid pace in last few months. Thanks to whoever found the samurai and kept it in that window as I am not even sure if I was ever going to realize that the samurai was lost.

Washing Dishes

Its really strange how one thing brings memories of long gone, forgotten times. We had just finished eating dinner. M S P V from office had come over, and being a good guest one of the girls offered to do the dishes. Standing next to the basin she asked what do I use to wash dishes as she cannot find see any soap or detergent. I had been lazy lately. Was staying alone in the house and if I cleaned my dishes immediately after eating I didn’t need soap, just scrub and wash with water and it was clean (for me). So I was like just scrub and wash and it got me a big glare from her. I opened the cabinet and handed her some detergent.

My grandfather (father’s father) used to live alone. Not all his life else how could he be grandfather, but most of his old life he lived alone. I really do not know if he deserved to live like that, if he chose to live like that, was he happy, not happy or many other things. All I was told as a child was that he was not good to his kids and wife, and then my father and grandmother left that home. I never bothered to ask much about what why how of everything. Maybe I will ask father someday. One day when he can talk like he used to. So, the old man lived alone and we used to visit him once every year or so (mostly when there was a chance of making some money out of the visit, but that’s a totally different story).

The house where he lived just looked as old and ancient as I remember him to be. The walls, bricks, woods everything surrounding him grew with him and as he moved from walking straight to slightly bent with a walking stick, from walking fast to a slow painful pace, from a man to an old man everything in that place grew with him in the same direction (this direction was finally broken by my father when one day under a deluge of abuses from old man he brought down a portion of that old house and built a slightly better place so that no one was worried about old man getting buried under his own roof) That was the only major change in that place till grandfather died.

We used to call him ‘Bapu ji’. Mostly Bapu when he was not around. Bapu is a word for an old male and Ji is a word of respect. So on our visits to Bapu Ji’s (he is not around anymore but why mess with spirits) place mom will busy herself with the cleaning and washing and removing the year long dirt, dust, cob webs and making that place livable. I think the true family with whom Bapu Ji lived was cleaned out in those few days by mother, to make that place livable for old man for some time and for the displaced members of that peaceful existence (spiders, lizards, wasps, flies and what not) to gather again in the time between then and the next visit by someone who will wipe them out again.

We kids spent time walking around the village, which was quite comparable in size to a small town. Grandfather would take us around to the Gurdawara, where he spent most of his time. He would take us to few families whom he visited sometimes.

Of all the tasks that mother did in the short stay in grandfather’s house, he hated one the most. I think he hated most of the tasks as it was disturbing his kingdom under his nose but the dishwashing was one thing he openly expressed his unhappiness with.

Until the soaps and detergents took over most of the homes in rural areas used ash or sand and few stems of dried grass as scrubber to clean the dishes. It was an excellent way of cleaning dishes and even now when the soaps cant win a battle with grease, the old instruments have a way. According to grandfather just passing the dishes under water should be enough. Why scrub away the dishes uselessly.

I empathize with him now, after all these years. Although he was father to four and grandfather to many more, in that home in that village, in the life he was living, he was a lone man. Lonely I cannot say. Living as a lone bachelor now I understand there is no point in using soap in cleaning dishes every time when I am the one who is going to use these dishes again. That’s not the most hygienic way of doing it but that’s the lazy-efficient-bachelor way of doing it. Whether grandfather was lazy, efficient only he knows I for sure can say he lived a bachelor’s life in his last years.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A safe place

Coming into this world is the moment after which the society takes over. The divides, the rich and poor, the differences start showing. In a mother’s womb, the poor womb or the rich womb, it is of no significance, the differences, the understanding that things could be good or bad. It is all quiet and safe in the warm and dark of the nest, and eyes are closed. When the darkness turns to light and the eyes open the maddening crowd takes over.

That summer day what I witnessed under Jogeshwari Bridge clung with me the whole day and for many days after. Why do they give birth when they cannot feed themselves, when they cannot shelter themselves? I was angry at all the poor, at the world, at all of them for the world a poor homeless baby is born into. I was angry for all the babies born on the roads. I wish they can stay in the womb for ever. The wombs where they are not poor, not home less, not without food, not caught in the traffic between the worlds and traffic of this world. I wish they could have the safety of a mother’s womb forever.

It was a day I was going to the Goregaon office. Goregaon office is closer from Powai, where I used to stay, and the office also starts a little late. My work primarily being with the big boss who in any case would take a little longer than others to come, not that he came late but that was his usual as he worked late, I decided to start from home at 9.

Machinder was on time as usual. And one thing which he never grudged me was the FM station which I played. I was the only one in that pool car who had the taste for old Hindi melodies and when alone we played and sometimes even sang with the radio.

The new link road was coming into being at a pace that will put a tortoise to sleep. In fact the World Bank, who is sponsoring the project, must want to sleep over it now. But I guess it is too late for them now, they will have to keep funding this slow monster till it relieves the tired roads of uptown Bombay.

Qualis (7075) was moving on nicely that day. The day was beautiful, as beautiful as a hot summer morning can be in Bombay. The town was slowly coming to life. The cars, taxis, auto-rickshaws, red BST monsters were all struggling for their space on the road with the extended shops, the parking lots carved out of whatever portion of the link road was finished, the municipality dumps waiting for the trucks, which never appeared to relive them of the load they accumulated at a rapid pace, the scavengers, both human and animals, at work which some municipality worker was being paid to do. There was a struggle on every inch of that road. Struggle to make a living on the road and to live on that road, both by the humans and the animals. Struggle by the millions of vehicles in that forever crawling traffic to use the road as a road.

We reached Jogeshwari Bridge without any incident, any incident out of the usual for a Bombay road. Here was waiting us a sea of stuck vehicles. Machinder smiled in a way that conveyed what I already knew, it will be a while before we move.

A traffic crossing on a Bombay road, or for that matter most of Indian cities but more so Bombay, is a small township in its own way. You can buy almost all basic necessities here. You are late for a party and you don’t have time for flowers, use the time you spend on a red light or a traffic jam. Books, all accessories for decorating a vehicle, newspapers, magazines, fruits, groundnuts, peanuts, sweet candies, pens, combs, nail cutters, key chains, guide maps for the city, electronic gadgets smuggled from China. Name a thing and it is there for you on every crossing in Bombay. It is also the business area of the beggars and the eunuchs (they don’t classify themselves as beggars, they are more like snatchers). As if the red light stops are made to be utilized for business. This kind of efficient use of time probably only happens in India and why not we spend a considerable time on the roads waiting for the vehicles to move. The working hours of the businessmen of a crossing get extended with a traffic jam. Traffic jams mean more business for the town that lives on crossing.

It literally is a town. With every inch on the pedestrian walk way occupied by those who come to the golden city chasing dreams, dreams of jobs, work and no hunger. There are small groups huddled together, identifying families and little territories marked by one or two bags of luggage lying around. Everywhere there are toddlers playing at their will, miraculously not getting crushed by the sea of vehicles. The million blowing horns and sounds of vehicles is music to this town. This is where they live. Live with a dream of making it big. Whatever big they aspire to be. Away from their roots, their lands, their own people, and away from their share of clean air, their air. This is where they eat, sleep, make love, give birth and this is where some die still holding on to that dream.

I sometimes wonder where they go in monsoons and especially when Bombay gets four months of it.

Now there was a commotion in the little groups of families under the bridge. Initially I could not make out what was happening. Slowly, the drama unfolded in front of me. I saw the pain on woman’s face and her pregnant belly at the same time and for only that instant. Suddenly, three ladies stood on three sides blocking the view from the traffic and the world with the sarees they were wearing. A small fire was lit and water kettle put on. The cries of the woman in labor were no match for the sound of the traffic. Every driver from every car was blowing their horn as if they were crying in pain, as if they were unknowingly sharing the woman’s labor, as if all of them were going to deliver a gift to this world together. Then I saw the midwife, I assume she was the midwife, lifting the baby up. I saw that tiny face with eye’s closed. In a moment the baby opened the eyes and took in view the world was offering this morning. I think the world scared the baby and the baby started to cry, and as if in answer to the baby's cry, the traffic moved.

SLB Locker Room

It was the day before I had an interview with one of the most sought after company during my college days, it still is. The preparations for the interview were on a full throttle and after getting all the tips about the interview process from all possible sources, after the preparation of all the answers to all the usual questions, I was at the last stage of getting ready. Dress for the interview. A nice looking suit, a tie and black formal shoes would make a good impression. Still tips from one of my seniors could be of use for dress as well. I called Shashank and what he said about the dress for the interview was not what I had expected. According to him I was trying to get into a field job which in fact I was, hence, dress accordingly. Jeans and T-shirt would do just fine. I did not realize why he would advise this but although I could not bring myself to wear jeans and t-shirt for the interview it was neither a suit.

When I got my first coverall during the OFS words of Shashank started making sense.

The days spent in Sainik School flash before my eyes when I step out of my jeans every morning and put on the coveralls. Our school hostel was a dormitory kind of hostel and the public utility bathrooms ensured you no privacy during the times you would wish for.

People would not generally associate such incidents with a professional’s life. Especially, after you have graduated from institutes like IITs. One gets ready for work at home, work at office. Oilfield jobs differ slightly as I realized soon after joining. Every morning you get here and land yourself in the locker room saying hi’s and hello’s while unburdening yourself of the clothes you are wearing and putting on the safety gear.

During the hard years spent in big institutes pursuing bachelors degree most of us who are currently working in oilfield never associate this ritual with the jobs we will be undertaking. After the initial shock we get used to it. It becomes a way of life till you are in the field.

Locker room is where the induction into oilfield really starts.


After 'Lakshmi' and 'Chalti ka naam gadi' were published in Masala Pipeline I got excited about the next issue. I thought of making a double appearance once again. I was not able to give any better shape to SLB Locker Room and hence only submitted 'The Pipe Story'. Guess it was too wierd. It wasn't published either :)

A Conversation – The Pipe Story

I have been thinking about the conversation for a while now. I think it was a conversation, maybe you will not agree. It may not be very smart of me go on and discuss the conversation with you, you may think that I have gone nuts but then I have this feeling that since you will end up on either side of this story you got to know it.

It was on a Saturday evening few weeks back. It was the kind of day when you think a lot. Think about things which matter, think about things which don’t. Think about what is and what it could have been. Think about where you are and where you could have been. Think about what you are doing and what you ought to be doing. It was one of those days. I jumped out of the bed and within 5 minutes was in an auto on way to Juhu beach. Why? Well the only good reason I could have had then was, ‘Its one of those days’. But now after the conversation I think I know the reason.

One thing I learnt very early on Bombay beaches was that if you, at least me, want to enjoy the beach you don’t look down. Let the feet feel the sand and the waves just don’t use your vision to see what the waters look like. I think this little trick of mine makes sure that I enjoy the time I am at the beach. Look at the horizon, the vastness of the sea, the sun and marvel at the peace that the breeze can fill you with. Let the waves wash down the weariness and send the relaxation up the body. But remember the trick. Don’t look down. Else you will see what man had done to this beautiful beast and you will feel heavy at heart, more than you already are on days like this.

It was nearly an hour since I have been walking on the beach and without realizing I had reached a spot where there were hardly any public, but for a few couples. The spot was where the natural met the man-made. On one side was an old wall, with a gate which lead to some junk yard or a very old warehouse by the deserted look it had. And on the other side was the sea with all its fury. Suddenly, weariness came over me and I decided to sit next to the wall for a while and watch the sun go down.

The breeze was as soft as ever. It was mostly silent but for horns blowing at a distance. It was then that I overheard the conversation. It was like two old friends meeting after a long time.

“Yes, it’s been a wonderful life. I have been places and my friend I don’t mean it only as a metaphor. I really have been places. It all started with that first trip to the pipe factory. Everything turned out be so different from what I was expecting.”

“Tell me about all that you have done after we parted. I remember you were not very happy after they thought you were not good enough for the design of the new micro chip and when you were sent to the pipe factory”. This voice sounded as old as former but it wasn’t content, it was the voice of someone not at peace, in a certain way it was my voice on days like these.

There was a silence and then the first voice narrated its story. “It’s been very long but I think after the pipe factory my first trip was to a workover rig in Rajasthan. It was a very short trip; I think they were testing our lot. I remember the vastness of the land, the serene beauty of the country. We were sent back to the factory where it was announced that we are going to an offshore rig. Not all my mates were happy but I had this content feeling that day, I don’t know why, that my life’s journey will be worthwhile.

The first I remember of the sea was its depth. Although it was a while before I actually felt the depth but depth has become the distinct memory. Not all the depths I have been to are of the sea but that’s how I relate to the depths; Sea. We worked on the coasts of India for a long while. What experiences these have been. Initially we will just go a little deep but in the last few years I have been to such depths that I was afraid if I will ever see the sun again.

I made friends. I made friends with the breeze which will cool me when we will just come from the deep visits. I made friends with the sun, with the moons (there were more than one, well I always like to look at the million reflections in the sea). The birds will bring news of the world. The best were the humans. There were so many of them and they were like a family. They took good care of mine and for my part I tried to be good to them.

We traveled a lot. I remember traveling to many seas. On the rigs they say that life of drill pipe is hard but let me assure you its wonderful and amazing and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh!! Once this crazy man became our driller. You know the guy who drives us in and out of the well and he was real crazy. He will run us in faster than anyone and I would love that. It was with him that I got my only chance to be the first one to go in the well. It was one of the deepest I have ever been. But then on way out something happened and we stopped moving. News came through other pipes that a pipe has broken and that we have lost the hook. All of us in the well were so dejected. We all had heard about casing and production tubing and what fate they had. Staying in a well for ever and every drill pipe dreaded this. After what appeared like eternity news came through the pipes that something has got hold of us and we were again moving up. The cheers down there were the loudest we had ever made. And so I saw the sun once again although I did not get to see my favorite driller again ever.

Well well I have gone on and on like everyone in oilfield does when asked about their jobs and life. You tell me about yourself. You were so happy on hearing that you will be made into a chip.”

There was a long silence. And then the other voice spoke. “I was very happy. Becoming a chip and that too for a super computer was my dream and I indeed was chosen for a super computer.” There was another pause. “After becoming a part of the super computer I don’t have many memories. All I remember before coming here is a lot of heat when the power was on, a cold chill of air conditioning when power was off but the most I remember is stillness and darkness”. Then there was silence.

ANY (the RMC FE!!) is looking at my laptop screen. Seems she has been reading for a while. “What is all this rubbish? Looks like some drill pipe and chip story. What is this all about?”

I do not have any answer to her question. But after that evening on the Juhu beach I have played this conversation over and over in my mind and just thought sharing this conversation with you won’t make me anymore crazier than hearing metal talk.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Force: Moving on

Force, I think I will call it force today, has a way of its own.

Though, I was aware that it is 16th August I was not trying to remember that it is. The day brings with it the memories of the events which were too big for me to comprehend at the time and even now are. Acceptance comes with time. Nothing affected me in the physical sense of world. I am still on the path I would be had there been a different 16th august or for that matter a different 17th august. Force indeed. I saw the last of them one after another. One is beyond everyone the other is beyond self and me.

The force. For the lack of anything better to do was arranging the documents on my PC. Deleting stuff not required. Moving files to correct folders. I like to organize and re-organize things around me to make it better organized. IPOD and PC are the victims every now and then. It was in this process that I ended up finding the Jan 2006 document and then the document of last 16th august. Force has its way.

Sixteenth august came back flashing. The kind of memories which leave one’s eyes wet. And with 16th of august always come the memories of the next day. I lost two dear things in two days, though it wasn’t very clear to me during that period.

Moving on is always easy if one is not carrying the signs of the loss. Just turn from that moment in time and walk away or just walk with the time. Time is the force. And it has its way of carrying you away. Of course it has its way of reminding you that it still is supreme. And apart from the two families involved nobody carried the loss visibly and also not for long. Friends, relatives, lovers; time makes and changes these at its own convenience.

Generally, I try to stay busy with work during few days which I want to pass quickly. It works mostly. But this time it is a weekend and that too in a far away place with not many people around to offer a distraction. Perhaps tomorrow I will go to Gurdwara here. It will be a good change and surely will help pass the day better. Last night while dancing Indian Independence to the tunes of Indian DJ’s I had forgotten the morrow and the day after.

Like everything and everyday this will also pass. Like every time it does. Time, the force will move on. I will move on as well. With just a memory of something lost. Memory which will stay there but which is fading with every foot step of time. As always I wish I could step back in time. Go back and change things. Alas! Even the force is helpless to its own strength. It only learnt to move forward. It never leant to make friends, to fall in love, to make bonds. The mortal weaknesses. It learnt to be immortal, to keep moving without looking back. I need to learn from it. To keep moving forward.

But I am not immortal. I have a past. And the force can not change it.

In the land of cupid

“Kabhi hamari zindagi ki ek kahani thi,
Ab har kahani ek zindagani lagti hai.”

There is a person in love and there is a person desperately in love and there is a person desperately trying to fall in love. My dear friend misses all these categories. Then there is a person who is someone’s love and there is a person who is some hopeless lover’s hopeless love and there is a person who is hopelessly trying to be someone’s love. Again my dear friend misses all these categories. Still, there is a person who is in the land of cupid and there is a person who has been to the land of cupid and there is a person trying to be in the land of cupid. Very sorry to disappoint you, but my dear friend again misses all these categories. I can’t think of what exactly he fits into but he is trying to be in love while trying not to be himself and trying or rather praying to be someone’s love and trying to open those already open doors of Cupid’s land. …. phew….

Even I am confused……

This is not what I am about to write about. Actually why I wrote that paragraph even I am confused. Something like modern art. After finishing the painting the painter is all confused but when he hear what others interpret that confusion of colors as, he is proud of the confusion which he has created.

I am getting more confused…..

I was trying to kill time as usual when I got a call from Ugly. Few New Year wishes which can take his case a step further in his lady’s court was what he required. I don’t know why he thought I can provide him with what he was looking for but I agreed that I will try to arrange something.

His story is not that complicated. I mean his love story is not that complicated but to keep his love story uncomplicated his story is getting complicated. Its a fairly complicated thing for me to write in an uncomplicated way.

So here I was with all the burden of his love story on my shoulders. These shoulders had already failed one love. Ugly had taken a big risk.

I was not able to think of what to send him so that my reputation and his story could survive, for a while, at least. As always the answer was GOOGLE. After a decent amount of googling I could not shortlist a single message as relevant though I copied two as backup.

Seriously I never had a hint or an idea about what to tell him. I mean what a looser like me can tell in a situation like this. I wish he had asked Hills about this. He must have known million tricks.

I called Hriday for help. The success of Ugly’s love story will depend on a good team effort. Erich Segal would be proud of this ‘Love Story’. Even Hriday had no messages for such a situation. I asked him to write one. He said he will try. I knew he will write a gem.

I wanted to send Ugly more than one message. It’s always good to have choice in such a sensitive matter. I tried to make that non-existent brain work. But e=mc^2 had worked very well so far. There is nothing but space left inside.

So I looked in inbox and selected two messages which could be played with to yield some results. After few tricks I had two very stupid looking messages ready. When it comes to love it is preferred to be original. I wanted to be original for Ugly. Only then could he look original. So I tried a medley of songs and some words thrown here and there and the third message was ready.

If Ugly wasn’t happy with these results than he will have to wait for Hriday. But I guess he found the third attempt worthwhile and perhaps he used it. I am not sure. I just hope that whatever his plan was, it worked.

Hriday is a great person. And his writing (not handwriting) is even better. He has always been good with poems.

Kuch door hamare saath chalo hum dil ki kahani keh denge,
Jo baat tum aankho se samajh na sake hum apni jabani keh denge.

Don’t know why he has not been able to impress that girl for last 10-15 years. You know one or two really good poems and it generally works. But it looks like finally his story is also getting a shape (actually more than a shape).

Hichkiyan batati hain koi leta hai mera naam chupke chupke
Sitare laye hain mere liye jinka payam chupke chupke
Bhari mehfil mein jo meri wajah se tanha hai
Naye saal pe karta hoon unko apna pehla salam chupke chupke.

Hriday is an awesome writer. Wish I could create something like this. I sent this to Ugly after adding some words. Again I don’t know if he used it. I just hope that he did.

I was happy that may be I have helped a heart. But “Bhari mehfil mein jo meri wajah se tanha hai” had pierced my heart or whatever was remaining of it. I just couldn’t get these lines out of my system.

It all looks great. Love. It’s a rose garden. And if you could spend your time in this garden in the spring it is the best place to be. Or better if you can make all the seasons spring it’s a life worth spent. But when autumn comes it’s this rose garden that you want to be away from and it’s the only place where you find yourself all the time. This autumn makes those thorns look lovely. They pierce your heart, your existence all the time. Actually that one moment in the spring of the land of cupid is worth living all the autumns that may follow.

“Bhari mehfil mein jo meri wajah se tanha hai” and it hurts even more if you are the reason for autumn in another persons rose garden.

I know whatever I have written is all mixed up and makes no sense but isn’t it good if things don’t have to make sense all the times.

Perhaps I should stop.
Written Jan 2006...

A year thence

The time had stopped in this house. The hands on the clocks were turning, the seconds were passing but the time had lost its significance. The walls, air, furniture, the gate knew it wont be the same again and in a way it will be the same forever, just like the way he left everything, the way everything was when he last looked at it. In that place everything had a soul. In that place he was still alive. Moving anything was to create a proof of his not being here, his being dead.

Some journeys are hard to make. It was with great courage, mostly thanks to Nanha, that I went see Dhupar’s parents sometime back. Since the phone call we received about his accident I had known that I will have to face and, if possible, answer these two persons someday. This journey would be among the most difficult ones.

Even if there was a sound outside or inside the sounds didn’t reach us. There was a sense of fear and a kind of shame deep inside me as we stepped in that house. Afraid for everyone there and ashamed, for I knew I will not be honest with these two people I should be.

They had lived their lives it seemed. I could see two persons hung between the real and the world where they still had two sons. They were as old as they could ever be and yet they still seemed the same as they were when they had lunch in the mess of Aravali many years back. Only the link to Aravali was missing.

Over the conversation I tried not to break down and tried not to admit the things which his parents knew were true but wanted to hear from me or from anyone who was there with him in those last moments. They were still trying to justify the unjustifiable. They were trying to give a reason to why their son was gone. Was he drunk? How much? Was he himself responsible for his death? Has he gone before his time was due? Or was he just simple plain unlucky and was destined to live only such a short time? Were we his friends so careless to let him drive if he was that drunk? Didn’t we realize that he should be stopped? Was it his mistake? Was it the other driver’s mistake? Was it a mistake at all? There was anger in the questions and I could feel the anguish and agony and pain in those eyes and hearts.

We recounted the events of that day for them, as if that will make it all seem more real. For my part I tried not to say that yes he was drunk, yes I knew he was drunk, yes it didn’t occurred to me that he will leave us that night, yes it wasn’t the first time I have seen him drunk and then drive (mostly safely), yes it was beyond me to think what was going to happen would be the events that happened. I could not give them the answers they wanted to hear from me, I could not speak.

Life moves on. Things change, events happen, time moves on and the important becomes insignificant and the very insignificant becomes the truth that we live with but for most part of it we keep playing our part as the drama keeps unfolding. However, certain events stay there in the memory as they happened, neither important nor insignificant. The scale and magnitude of life and death hanging at a perfect imbalance and that’s the way we remember what passed in those moments of our lives.

Rushing from office to home to airport, buying the earliest available ticket, jumping into a car full of friends at the other airport, the ride, the mountain peaks, the long trek, the Independence Day, the meeting with friends, the get together, all lead to the moment when the sanity, sensibility, the meaning, plans, aspirations, dreams all lost there meaning forever, for some.

Tera Yaar Bolda and many other numbers bring a smile and a remembrance of the energy which surrounded these songs in his company. The one time lift from Kailash to Insti and he getting red all over on the mention of that name. The so very smart dumb of our dumb charades.

The dead look serene, unaware of the mayhem around, carelessly beautiful. Ugly did. Radiating a kind of calm, trying to sooth the nerves of all the shaken souls around him. After his passing there had been many more daru parties and there will be many more but I some times wonder how many times we friends have raised a glass for him or how many times we will. How many times we will remember what his presence meant or if we ever feel his absence. If we ever look up at the sky and say ‘Hey dude’.

Road goes ever on an on…
Pursuing it with eager feet…
Pursuing it with weary feet…
And whither then I cannot say.

Whither where? Of all of us only Ugly knows.


Written a year back...


Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....