A series of love stories which were almost…
Days of silence between the two of us was washed out on that day when we talked for the first time, well, it was almost a talk.
‘Tick tock… tick tock…’ This was one of my favorite sounds in the office in those days. I am not talking about the clock, waiting to announce the end of day’s play for us all. I am talking about the sound made by her long flat heels when she walked around in the office.
Our office was otherwise very silent. The only sound that you could hear was of continuous keystrokes made by all the mechanical humans under the roof, trying to win an invisible race. And other sounds confined to the two and a half walls of respective cubicles. Neither the sound nor their feelings or wishes or dreams ever came out of the cubicles.
It all started as an annoyance for me. In the amazing peaceful silent office environment, all of a sudden, I heard a slowly increasing sound of someone’s heel thrashing the floor. There was a symmetry in the sound, it was almost musical. But it was a disturbance nevertheless to my attentive open-eyed sleep. So I got annoyed and looked above the walls of my cubicle, and things changed.
I saw her for the first time, though I had heard the sound of her heels several times before. My ears could make out the difference between other shoes and hers. Yet, I had never taken an effort to look at the person whom those shoes would carry. And that made all the difference in my office life. From the boring monotonous life inside my rat-hole (aka cubicle), things started to get interesting for me.
As my cubicle came on the way towards the rest and refreshment area, I could see everyone in the office at least once a day when they passed by me. And that was both a benefit and a distraction for me. And after getting to know about her, it became more of an addiction for me.
I used to hear the sound of those heels several times during the day. And out of those several times, many times she would be walking towards me. I would see her, peeking above the walls of my cubicle. From my otherwise slumped back posture, I would instantly sit straight and fix my table. Everything should be at its proper place…
This went on for several days, with awkward eye-contacts and look-aways, until that opportune moment when I actually had a chance to talk to her.
That day, I was coming back from the rest area myself and just at the time, she also came out from the door behind me. And we both were walking towards the door leading to the central walkway.
I don’t know what came to me, but I held the door out for her. She accepted my gesture gracefully, smiled and replied with a ‘thank you’. And my awkward response was inaudible even to my mind.
I went through after her and couldn’t stop staring at her hair dangling like a bell. After a few steps, she turned back and slowly looked around and then at me. She smiled again and walked away. I couldn’t be any more happier…
My friend saw all that and started teasing me for her. And I enjoyed myself for all that. But things don’t stay perfect for more than a moment, with me.
That evening and night went like I had conquered the world. I danced while walking, skipped steps, and would constantly hum some good tune. You could find me smiling without any reason. I wished with every broken piece of my heart that something would make out of this particular story.
A few days later, I couldn’t see her in the office. Probably she was late, probably she was on a leave, probably she was on a longer leave, probably she went to her hometown for a mini-vacation, probably on a longer vacation… My assurances to myself grew more and more unreasonable.
Soon I understood that she no longer worked at my location. Probably some other location or some other company, but I didn’t want to make assumptions any more. I knew I was never going to find out if there was some story at all in our little conversation.
There was a trend of wearing those heels at office, and whenever people would move past me with those heels, all the memories would bring back the pain in my heart with each tick-tock sound on the floor. But I was happy, at least it was almost a talk, unlike my other almost love stories…
A bachelor’s perspective on the benefits and troubles of having good neighbors.
As bachelors, we stay either inside our house too much, or outside it most of the times. But we do not care anything about around the house. Sometimes, we don’t even bother to see what’s going on in the opposite house, unless there’s a potential subject of interest for us. 😉
We go through the painful trouble of finding a suitable place to stay, meet several crooked and disturbed minds on the way, that we no longer care about anyone but us in the new society. And that’s how they call us ‘bachelors’… Not the marital status.
But sometimes, when Mr. Fate is very generous upon you, he will shower you with really great neighbors. And that is another heaven altogether on Earth, if you are gifted the company of amazing neighbors. But there are both benefits and troubles of having good neighbors, and we don’t wanna let them know about any of the two.
Neighbors Chat (too much)
Neighbors are basically for socializing, for not letting us get bored and for keeping us company in difficult and needy times. They are our last resort on weekends when all of our friends have ditched us for others.
But sometimes, we bachelors just do not want any of that. We just want to be left alone, not cared for and ignored both virtually and physically. But that is not possible when you have good neighbors. They will come and talk to you no matter what. You may have come home after a long, tiresome day, or late at night, or with a date (the worst case), but they would want to talk to you. And that will go on and on, unless you find a way to stop that.
Neighbors Talk (to your mom too)
Neighbors have all the senses given by God. So, they see, hear, smell, understand and even talk. They will talk internally with other neighbors, and also with your mom. (Yes, they have a direct line connection with your mother.)
They will keep a sharp watch at your house, to save you from probable perils of the society. But in that process, they sometimes watch too much, things that we bachelors don’t want anyone to see.
And yes, they remember, very well. They will remember what days you came late, what days you brought over your friends, what days you didn’t come home at all. Well, this helps, if you forget to note your daily time sheet, you can ask them, not otherwise.
But when all is noted, they blabber it all out in front of your mother, pressing the matter when someone of opposite gender had turned up at your house – forget what relation.
And forget about giving your mum a surprise… She already knows.
Neighbors Share (occasionally)
Staying in a neighborhood is great as our family just expands beyond the walls of our home. We live together and share all of the great moments with everyone to increase their intensity exponentially.
When there’s a birthday, people will pull over from all around to wish them. People will share any new (or rare) dish prepared at their home. And that is the heaven for us bachelors – we just love when someone gives us food.
But at times, we have more than one good neighbors, and they all want to share. And then, that increases our work – we have to remember which plate was of which neighbour, we have to fix dates for them so that they do not clash, we have to even manage our hangouts with their dates. And sometimes, we just do not want it from them as we don’t like it. But can we say that to them? No… Just gracefully accept it and throw it all away.
Neighbors Help (and interfere)
Neighbors are great as they are our first place to go-to when we need some help. And as a bachelor, we often face difficulties in our day-to-day lives. That time, their help is all we need.
But at times, help is often misunderstood. Help is generally initiated by one who needs it and then acted upon by one to whom it was asked. But being good neighbors, they sometimes act upon help themselves, without being initiated by us.
They help us with their opinions and their contacts, which we may not be willing to accept or approve. But being good neighbors, we cannot just decline their offer. We have to mend our ways and include their help in our work, without their help helping us.
Neighbors Expect (unreasonably at times)
Being good neighbors, they do good things with us, they take care of us and be there when we have a dire need of someone. In return, you be good to them. You respect the elderly, you play with the ones of your age and take care of the younger ones.
In doing that, neighbors build a blueprint of your behavior and expect you to be like that all the time. Once in a while, you would move out of that behavior which you did just as a return for them being good, they will not like you anymore. They might even get offended. They might even stop being good to you.
So working with good neighbors is a tough job, heavy expectations to meet, especially when you try to be something you’re not. (Obviously, that’s the reason they are good to you… We never show who we are to the older generation, as they won’t like it that way.)
P.s.: It is definitely good to have good neighbors around your home. But it is like marriage. The benefits often weigh more than the problems. For some at least…
Another episode with my (fictional) grandpa (i.e., myself) where I’m worried about how to fit in all the variety of dishes available at a dinner party buffet in my single, limited spaced plate…
I was on an unknown dinner party with people my family knew. I hated to meet those people as none of them really cared about my presence but still all of then would definitely ask me a series of question, almost predictable series, which I hate to answer.
So, I skipped through all the introduction and socializing hush-bush, and directly went for the reason I went there – dinner. I don’t really remember the occasion for which party was organized.
I was skipping through the tiles, jumping on the pattern, while ignoring all the people I’d bump into. I had hoped that they would just ignore me, consider me a psycho and would avoid talking to me. And till now, it had worked.
But then, my own Grandpa came to me and expressed a desire to talk.
Over the dinner, we talked about random topics from my life and he gave me advices in each one of them. I don’t actually remember any of those as they were not practical. They required me to be active, strong minded and willing to perform in my life, which was exactly the opposite kinda guy of what the school had made out of me.
The dinner was being served by the caterers and often a well-dressed waiter would come up and serve my plate with things that I didn’t want. Before I could say anything, he would just throw it all onto my plate. And then I’d be left staring at those things, thinking where to hide all this stash…
My Grandpa said “What happened, son? You look weird today… Not liking the food, are we?”
Me: *Shaking my head* “Nah… Nothing… No problem. I’m… I’m fine.”
“You don’t look like that, definitely…” And Grandpa resumed his dinner.
After a while, another waiter came and put things in my plate, and it was too late when I noticed that. He had already left.
“Would you mind? I hope not…” Grandpa said while putting a few bites from his plate to mine.
I shouted “No! I DO mind! My plate’s already full and you pushing things off your plate to me! No way I’m gonna complete this plate!”
Grandpa simply smiled.
I couldn’t bear it any longer and asked “Come on… Speak!”
Grandpa spoke with a bigger smile “Why is your plate full?”
“Because that waiter is serving out things without first confirming with me…”
“No.” Grandpa snapped in between.
“Yes! You look… Just in a minute. He’ll come back and put things in my plate without asking me anything! He’s just…” I tried to explain myself, rather poorly.
“You can always say ‘NO’… But for that you’d require to pay attention for his arrival” Grandpa explained.
He went on “Look son… In life, we are often bombarded with work, responsibilities and expectations. And sometimes, we feel that we are being pounded at from all the directions and that we cannot take it any longer. We wanna quit, we wanna leave the plate half-eaten. But that’s when you should understand – we can always foresee those servings and can always be ready to say NO to them.”
I looked at him, mouth half-opened. He found way of giving me life advice even at this diner!!
“But what if I couldn’t foresee the serving, and am left with extra food on my plate?” having a habit to argue at every point, I gave a poor defensive tilt.
Grandpa looked at me for a while and said “Is your plate really full then?”
Our dinner was complete, mine was a mess, but I had better things to do. I had to think upon my conversation with Grandpa, first of all understand what he meant by that last remark, and then use it in my daily life, where I always think that I am being barraged by tasks and that my plate is always full.
P.s.: Do tell if you happen to understand my grandpa’s advice…
A visit to the Shopping Mall… No it is not an essay that I was supposed to write at School. It was a visit that I was supposed to take. … … I call myself a weekender. Or at least I pretend to call myself that. Because a true one travels during the weekends to new places, while I sit at my place and let my mind travel to new places. But weekends are different when your parents visit you, especially your mother. It all starts, in my case at least, with your mother and your neighbor, Mrs. Someone, talking to each other about a new mall built at some place. And then, they see you slumped on the couch, watching a series, and an idea sprouts… “Hey beta! You’re not doing anything… Why don’t we all go to the mall?!!” someone will announce. And that will be the start of doom for your weekend. Hardly it is the other way that we visit the mall because we actually have a list of things to buy there. My first question to this announcement is always “What do you want to buy?” to which their absurd reply is “We’ll see what’s available there…” And I’m like ‘Every thing’s available there!!’ But that expression doesn’t count very well to them. This made me think about it that why the malls have been an instant success, replacing the local specialized shops in the market? And to find this answer, I took them to the mall, to let my observation out in the open to let it do what it does best. The structure of a good mall is very clear and organized. Each category of products is clearly separated and stacked so that one can easily find items of their choices. So one would generally look for the category and walk in that direction to find their item. This way, our purchase would be organized, even when we have a properly crafted shopping list. However, this is not the way people actually shop. They enter the mall and start analyzing the first item they see in the first category nearest to the main door. Then they move on to the next item, and the next category, unless it is the end of the mall. If you think about it, the mall has almost killed the concept of ‘a shopping list’. People no longer look for the item they intend to buy, they look at the item and decide their intention to buy. And we are often very bad at making such decisions, resulting in overbuying. Then there are some people who just love to look at different available products. It is a fun time for them. They just go through the whole list of items available in the mall and look at the size, ingredients, material, tags, price, quality, brand, discounts, design, etc. for all of them. Although, they want to purchase none of them, still window-shopping, as they call it, is fun, at least for them. And for people like me, who are there only to drag the shopping cart around them are the most traumatized victims of this approach. And that day when I was accompanying my mother and my neighbor to shopping, I was one of those victims. I used to ask her before that what quantity of products is she going to buy, so that I can decide whether to take the cart or just the hand-basket. But with my experience, I know their answer is always an under-estimate for both the quantity of items bought and the time taken overall. The mall’s tag line is ‘We have something for everyone!’ Something for everyone… Be it kids, teenagers, adults, love-birds, newly weds, newly parents, workers, artists, elderly people or aliens. The mall has something for all of us. Isn’t it cool? No… Not for people like me! I got past the security check faster than the ladies I was accompanying. So I went ahead of them and walked around the mall. The entrance of the mall had two sides, one for groceries and consumables, the other side was household plastics and utility-wares section. I skipped both of them and moved on. At the kids’ section, several little devils were playing with stuffed toys and different sized balls. It was a mayhem, but no one cared. This section was not built for shopping, this was so that the kids allowed their parents to shop in peace. I saw a little boy, dressed in adorable baby suit and baby trousers, bring a red-plastic-rose from somewhere and present it to a little girl, dressed in black frock. She accepted it and smiled at the boy. While the boy went zooming around the area, dancing and skipping on his way, the girl gave the rose to another boy sitting next to her, who rejected it by throwing away the rose. The girl sat there in despair, while another boy picked up the rose from the floor and presented it to an adult girl in her twenties. She awed at him and kissed him on his cheeks, to which I felt really jealous of. Moving on to the next section, fashion and accessories, I saw people of all age group seriously analyzing the items on display. While everyone liked what they saw, but half of them were in dilemma that the things won’t look as good on them as they look on the dummy doll with chiseled abs and perfect muscles. I saw an elderly couple looking at new trends in fashion. The elderly man was trying to convince his wife that the tees would look nice on her on their Goa trip, and that she shouldn’t wear a saree on the beach. But it seemed he was having a hard time convincing her. In the books and magazines section, I found all kinds of weird people. Some were so engrossed in the covers of the books that I thought of selling just the covers to them and give away the books to actual readers. While some were just scanning first page of the book to decide on their buying, some people just turned all the pages of a book, probably looking for pictures. I wondered when will motion pictures will be the new books of this age. In the household corridor, I saw several newly web couples trying, pathetically, to accord on a particular design of the crockery that will best match their home. While, a bachelor group of guys just picked up things nearest to their hand’s stretch in less than a second. They even made a poorly portrayed sexual joke on the round handle-less bowls. While a particular area was filled with several ladies, resulting in a jam. Each one of them was examining a particular product, its price and other attributes, probably detailing it to the molecular level of metal. Then I reached the upholstery section, where long and maze like shelves covered both the sides of the path. One could easily hide in these sections, and it was the least crowded area of the mall at that time. I turned at the end of a shelf and bumped into love-birds. They were roving through the tall display galleries, playing their games of brisk touches and teased eye-contacts. I let them play at peace and moved on. After several other sections and such observations, I reached back at the starting of the mall. It would be a bewilderment for me if I had not been accustomed to this, but it was not. I casually parked my cart just behind where my mother and her friends were looking at some plastic alternative of some household product. I had walked around the whole mall, while they were still stuck at the very first shelf of the very first section of the mall. I sighed. But then mother looked happy, so I let them take their time. God bless me, I said… of course in my head. 😛
God was unable to solve a simple problem in his world, which had now grown in to a big issue. Just then, a Kid gave him an innocent view, which God strongly felt as the need of the time.
God was frustrated with the way Humans had messed up with the world that he had created with such craft and devotion. God thought that the cruel face of deaths and despair of innocent creatures will somehow touch the humane in humans, but even when it did, humans couldn’t do anything to stop the mess.
Oceans were polluted, rivers dried up, species got extinct, but people were fighting over issues made by themselves. Humans turned into savage beings, didn’t care for anything, anyone but themselves, their things and their desires. Human wants had turned into inhuman impulses.
He sat at a deserted riverside, sad, thinking over the whole architecture of his creations – wondering what went wrong. The place was devoid of humans, and anyway no human soul could see God now, as those souls were not pure anymore.
A kid came running towards the riverbed chasing a squirrel. The squirrel quickly climbed up the tree beside the riverbed. Kid got angry at the squirrel and threw a stone at it, missed it. Then he sat at the riverside, sad and crying.
God’s heart was still God’s, and He couldn’t see a kid crying like that. So he changed his appearance to a man and went beside the kid. He asked the kid about his problem, to which the kid replied, taking out a nut from his pocket- “I am t-… I am trying to give this n- n- nut to that s- squirrel… but she j- just doesn’t stop! Why doesn’t it t- t- trust me? Am I that bad?!”
God smiled at the innocence of the boy.
“Look kid. The squirrel might have had a bad experience with some other person before. That’s why she is afraid to trust you. She might be thinking that you will hurt it and so she’s running away from you. That doesn’t make you bad. Rather, your intention to give the squirrel food is what makes you a good boy!” God said patting the boy’s back.
Boy took a while to stop crying. And then said “But I don’t want to hurt it. My mom says that if I hurt someone, God will hurt me back. And will help that squirrel. Doesn’t squirrel know that?”
God said “It is true that God helps good souls. But still that doesn’t mean that good souls won’t get hurt. Sometimes, God takes time to help someone.”
Boy’s face turned inquisitive and said “But in that time, the bad guy would have done bad things. What’s the point of helping after bad things have happened?”
“Sometimes, bad things ought to happen to allow good things to happen.” God said smartly.
Boy couldn’t understand that, so he just shrugged his shoulders and said “I don’t get that. Instead, why just not allow bad things to happen.”
God said “Not everything is in God’s hands. We as people need to change for making things right.”
Boy said “I would just advice God to restart the world and make things right this time. Put only good things in people’s mind, and devoid their abilities to do bad. When I am not able to do something, I also just restart with my work, with a fresh look at it.”
Saying that the boy went on with his little world… But God sat there thinking about restarting the world. Is that the solution to his problem? Rebuilding the world, while destroying the current world? Is that acceptable? Or just the need of the time?
This time, when I was traveling alone, going back to my parent’s place, my two forms of writing mixed up. I had another almost while waiting for the Bus driver to whistle.
My bus was to arrive in about an hour. I have had my dinner and it was an overnight run, so I was desperately waiting for my bus to arrive. Nothing exciting was expected from this travel, as usual. It was supposed to be one of those travels that I don’t write about, that I hardly even remember. Guess I was wrong about that.
The bus-stand was about a few meters away from the waiting area. And for informing the fellow travelers about a bus’s arrival, the driver used to blow a sharp, loud whistle. The fascinating thing about it was that people in the waiting area always knew whether the bus driver’s whistle was for their bus or not. Or so it seemed. Or maybe the buses were all strategically timed that no two buses coincide on a single time, making a whistle unique for that time.
I was wondering about all this as I had nothing better to do. My phone was about to die and I had to keep it at rest for it to live up till the morning when I will reach my destination.
I was humming a song, or a tune, I don’t really remember. But I remember that instant when a bus driver’s whistle made me look towards the exit of the sitting area and then quickly back to the wall infront of me, as if I had seen a ghost.
She was dressed in peach-colored some-kind-of-top and the legendary blue jeans. And yet I felt a blurry outline around her persona, I saw a live-portrait of her. Her hair was rolled up hurriedly, a bodkin was visible. And she was wearing no makeup at all. Yet she managed to portray such an eye-candy.
I looked away as soon as I looked at her, and she had already caught me looking at her in that 2 seconds of time-line. I stared at the wall opposite to me, and continued with my humming, which had increased its pace to several beats up the bar.
Every time such a situation happens with me, me and some stranger, either I fart words so bad that the other person runs away or I don’t do anything at all. And I wished this time wouldn’t be so. I prayed…
With almost impossible turn of events, she came up and sat beside me. I figured that all other unoccupied seats had some weirdo sitting on the next seat. And I looked a good guy on my first impression, to be honest.
I didn’t want her choice to be proved wrong. So I didn’t do anything impulsive or stupid. Really, I did nothing. I casually sat there, and just sat there. She was listening to some sort of music and was deleting multiple pics from her phone. I came to know it afterwards that my humming had stopped somewhere in the middle of this chaos.
But then somehow I found that in proving her decision to be right, I was just letting go of this opportunity. I liked her and wanted to know more of her. And if I do not speak, I won’t ever find out if I had a chance.
So I started rehearsing our conversation in my head, several iterations, several scenarios practiced. I gathered up my courage and straightened up my posture to bring out my voice which had gone deep down my guts, and was hidden somewhere in my intestines.
The bus driver’s whistle blew, a bus’s arrival was announced. Everyone around me got up and went towards the stand. I watched her go as she gathered her luggage and glided towards the bus.
A fly flew inside my mouth and I choked on my open mouth, ready to speak “Hi”. I coughed continuously till I had the damn fly out of my food pipe and got up clumsily to see her climb the bus. Even if I ran, I didn’t stand a chance to reach there in time, if I ran that is, hypothetically.
Next in half an hour or so, my bus arrived and I got the usual boring seat beside a fellow who snored all the way to my stop. I couldn’t dare to sleep and see the whole episode of my failure all over again. So I decided to stay up, watch through the window, the objects fly by me, in a blink of the eye, like the opportunities in my life.
This time, my solo travel diary was almost an epitome of me being a loser, well, almost a loser.