Thursday, August 25, 2005

Some thing I wrote a year back

I saw her one day while returning from office on my bike. She was the prettiest thing I had seen for a long time and she stood there beside the main road waiting for an auto, a bus, to go home, to her boyfriend, to her husband… well I would have not given it so much thought were it not the way she looked at me. She stared at me pointedly and in the brief moment when I was close to her, I racked my brain for some memory but no I didn’t know her. That happened the next day and the next. I began leaving the office at the exact same time to get another glimpse of her and she didn’t disappoint me. The same look on her face. On the 8th day I drew up enough courage to stop in front of her. I asked her if she wanted a ride and she said ‘yes’ and jumped on. She sat astride and I liked her for that. The lady’s style of riding is necessary sometimes but it scares me and I have to drive extra careful. I always imagine leaning too far to the wrong side and the person falling head first onto the road. The thing about pillion riders is that they affect the way you drive drastically. I know someone who gives me the feeling that it’s not a person but a huge big green frog which is sitting hunched up behind me on the bike. It’s okay when you are mobile but once you slow down its like riding in 4 feet of water. And God help you if you have to lean because you will never recover as the frog never puts its foot down. Then there is the other type. I call them the lolling dog in window type. Like a happy dog with its tongue lolling out, saliva dribbling, barking once in a while in sheer pleasure in a car’s side window. Well this type of pillion rider thinks he shouldn’t miss a thing happening front and so his head has to come approximately beside mine and this requires his body to be almost off the bike at an odd angle like an abnormal outgrowth. Some of them, because it causes obvious strain, switch their head from side to side like a snake following a charmers’ flute and this takes the most in a guy to maintain a straight course with his bike. But I am digressing. She sat straight and proper and I had to in fact check her in the rear view mirror which was quite alright with me. I drove steady. Didn’t weave in the traffic like I usually do because I didn’t know how she would take it. She didn’t talk much and I didn’t try with the great conversational skills I have. We had gone halfway to my place when she tapped me on my shoulder. I obediently pulled out of the road and she murmured ‘thanks’ and walked away. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t wait till the next day. That happened for a week or so with us exchanging 6 words or so. Once I had to stay back late and I haven’t known a greater frustration. She didn’t mind I suppose because she was there the next day. I wondered what she did and where she worked if that’s what she did. But I didn’t ask. 2 weeks of that and she asked me to take her to a movie. I took her to an English one. She sat close, closer than she needed to but then she did ride with me on the bike. In the intermission, she said she was tired and put her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes. I took her hand in mine, and felt like I have never felt before. Her face at close range was even prettier. I froze. Reminded me of a movie I had seen, Mad Dog and Glory. Robert de Niro and Uma Thurman. About a spineless cop falling for a gangster’s girl. I didn’t want her to move away. She sat straight after a while but left her hand in mine. We walked hand in hand after the movie. Then she said the strangest of things. She wanted to go to a botanical garden nearby. I said it would be closed and she replied it doesn’t matter. So I took her. When we reached the place, it was closed. The ticket counter was empty and there was a solitary sentry on duty under a solitary lamp abuzz with insects. He didn’t like us roaming around that place at that time and looked at us with suspicion. She took my hand and started walking. She knew the place. We went around the garden which had a wired fence in some places. I didn’t ask where she was going, she led me to a banyan tree which looked like it wanted to fly and it had been tied down with ropes. She went behind it and beckoned me. The tree went over the fence into the garden and it had some low hanging branches that we used to get in. I had come here with a friend a long time back but it looked better at night. There was no moon but still we could see enough. She led me to a tree and sat with her back against it. I followed suit and turned watching her. I had an immense urge to gather her in my arms and crush her to myself. She seemed to know and she looked back with the same look she had given me on the roadside. I started to speak but she clapped her hand on my mouth. The suspicious sentry was coming investigating. We got up and hid in some bushes nearby. I could hear her breathing softly, could see her eyes shine with intensity. Then she yelled ‘RUN’ and jumped up and went like the wind. I got over my initial shock and followed her. The guard saw us and started shouting in the local language. She laughed. I hadn’t run in quite a long time, my breath came in ragged gasps. We reached the fence but she kept going along it till she reached a solid wall. It wasn’t too high and I could reach the top with my palm. She scrambled up and I tried to follow but all my hours before a screen had made me soft. I slipped and heard the pounding steps of the guard and saw his flashlight making rapid patterns against the grass as he came running. She yelled at me to try again and I did. I got one leg across and pulled myself across, scraping my forearm. But we were out. We ran to the bike and I kicked it alive and she jumped on and I drove fast. She had both her arms around me and was hugging me from behind. I looked at her in the mirror and she was laughing. She could do whatever she wanted. We reached the place where she usually got off. Her hair was in disarray and she had dirt over her jeans and mud on her hands. I wasn’t very different. She stood by the bike, looking at me and then she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and walked away. I went home covered with mud, a bleeding forearm, and a state of mind that made me touch 90 on my 100cc bike. Tomorrow was another day.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Biking

I love driving. Be that a 2 wheeler or 4 wheeler, I love it. I have driven a lot. I still remember the first 2 wheeler I rode. That was my introduction to the automobile. It was on a pre-1980 model Bajaj Chetak, my father's. My tutelage in driving be that a 2 wheeler or a 4 wheeler was totally by my father. Both involved a strip of desolate road fringing the backwaters in Cochin and though it was more than 6 years ago, I remember it clearly.
Automobiles have always fascinated me. The concept of fuel igniting and driving a piston which turns a crank that rotates the wheel and all that controlled with a thing that will move around 60 degrees in your hand or a few inches below your foot is just great. I love to visualise the drone of the motor to the incredible number of times the piston goes up and down with each explosion and all that letting you go faster than possible by any natural means. The mechanics involved is fascinating. The driving involved is a skill.
Driving has come to me naturally. I mean I learnt it fast. I think it is easier for people who have a slight mechanical bend to the mind. Learning is one thing, driving is another. I mean lots of people drive. But that doesn't mean they drive the way driving is supposed to be done.
What makes a good driver? The most important character a driver should have is consideration. Consideration for other drivers. When you are going slow, don't drive in the bloody middle of the lane, drive on the left. When you are going to turn, let other people know. When someone wants to overtake you, make way for them or if necessary slow down. Constantly check your rear view mirror. Those were some of the basic manners in driving.
Now around 50% of the people out there do all that. What about the other 50%? Well as far as I care, let them rot. But the problem is, you might rot with them. Now there, I was imagining, some crazy guy in a truck seeing you making a move to overtake him, not slowing down even though there is another truck coming on the opposite lane and you have reached a point where you can see his unkempt hair, unshaven beard, a beedi hanging out of his mouth and driving side by side not letting you pass, or like my father sometimes says, even accelerating! Well if you get time to slip through the ever shrinking gap between the 2 vehicles by doing a crazy zig-zag manoeuver (which is kind of difficult especially if you are driving an aging Premier Padmini aka Fiat) or you manage to brake and somehow check the tail fender of the truck before you move behind him again, you both end up rotting (most probably just you). So what do we good drivers do? That brings me to the second most important in driving, anticipation. I remember reading an article by a race car driver about how to drive well and he wrote that anticipation was the most important thing. But that was on the race track. But yes anticipation saves lives off the race track too.
To anticipate an inconsiderate oaf to turn right in front of you. To anticipate someone to jump onto the road from the front of a parked bus. To anticipate the vehicle in front of you suddenly braking. To anticipate that driver of the truck you are overtaking to think of himself as Michael Schumie with his extra-ordinary blocking capabilities. To anticipate and be prepared.
Driving well is somewhat like playing chess. You try to anticipate all the possibilities and then think of what to do in the eventuality of it actually happening. Of course this doesn't come just like that. So initially you drive slow. Get a grip of your reflexes and capabilities. Have a few near death experiences. Then when you are sure of what you can do, drive.
And finally you reach a point where are you can be aware of almost everything that you need to save yourself from ending up as road-kill. A point where you can drive smooth, with the traffic being just an easy obstacle to make your drive interesting, to sometimes get to a point where your senses are so highly tuned, your reflexes at your immediate call, your adrenaline pumping through your body like brandy on a chilly day and then you are one with the thing under you and you fly.

P.S - The last part happens rarely and cannot be achieved wilfully. If an attempt is made to do it wilfully, like a friend once said and brought me back to earth, you wouldn't know what hit you, literally. Always, always have all the things that could go wrong in the back of your mind. And most importantly, if you think you are going fast, you are going too fast.

Friday, July 22, 2005

My first blog

So it begins. I am blogging. Well I have done this before but no, not like this. I had just sent out a mail to my college mailing group a few days before a university exam. It was not a blog actually, more like what I did for a few days when I was home alone. People liked it but it was more like only to people I know whereas here, it could be read by anyone. So what do people put into these things? About how the day went? How one is feeling? My sister doesn't like it getting that personal. I don't really care.

I work like thousands more like me do in a software company in Bangalore. What do I do? Well heres what I do. People all around the world use a computer that the client of my company makes. These computers use software and like any software they have bugs. So when some guy in a distant part of the globe finds a problem with the software, he lets my company's client know that there is a problem and he wants it fixed. The client looks at the problem and then classifies it and sends it to one of its offshore service companies, which could be my company. If the problem present in the software that I am responsible for, my work starts. So in brief, I fix bugs for a living. Is it satisfying? Hmm, it pays okay and yes sometimes its interesting. But can I see myself doing this for the rest of my life? Not exactly. You do learn a lot of stuff and especially in a company like mine, you are made to take certifications, explore your own area of interest and generally enhance your knowledge which I do like a lot. I mean on your own, you probably end up learning nothing but when each of those knowledge enhancing work is monitored and valued and judged as a criteria for your growth, you do end up learning stuff. And it could be in an area you love. So yeah, its good but getting routine. Maybe do an MS mostly just for the experience of going abroad and studying in a foreign university. I love travelling and staying in alien places. Thinking about where I am and how far it is from home. And what I am doing, making a life for myself. That period in life where everything is an opportunity that you can grab because you are starting right from the bottom and building. If I were given a choice to stop the aging process, it would be now. Near the peak of my life.