Sunday, May 23, 2010

Down memory lane

I went to Landmark @Phoenix Mills yesterday with my friend Charmaine. I got nostalgic there, thinking of the lovely life I had as a grew up. The dreams, the aspirations, the hobbies.... which got buried in the depth of my work life and struggles and turmoils. The last 10-12 years of my life have only been a struggle. Sometimes a severe and tough one! And all this while, my dreams took a backseat. Why did a place in a mall bring back old memories. Because after ages I let myself be lost in the imported chocolates I saw there, the books which were once a craze with me. The poster colours, fabric paints... everything which was once a part of me were all there. I saw the Enid Blytons, the Agatha Christies, which were part of my school days. There were the Archies Digests, the Tintin comics, which we freaked on even after college. Picked two Archies Comics Digest (just for the fun of it), a religious book and some imported chocolates. Everything I'd held back hoping to enjoy later when things settle down in my life were all there (but neither life settled down, nor did I get to enjoy it!). To top it all, even saw Mandira Bedi. But time was short as I had to rush back home as Dad was alone (other family members were not in Mumbai for various reasons).

I used to read a lot, write a lot. Always wanted to be a well known writer and wanted to get into journalism. Somehow, that did not happen and I got into banking. After that, the struggle got more severe in operations, and I worked till quite late making personal life a complete mess. During the same time, we moved from South Mumbai to Mira Road. This added to problems with long and difficult commuting hours! And I moved to a centralised processing unit, so work hours also became longer.

Slowly, friends faded in the background. I become a loner with only my family around me. I stopped going out and enjoying life. The days were spent in office, from where we could not even see the daylight. When we finished work and got out, the day had already set. Years passed by, years got added to age. Bank holidays didn't translate into holidays for us, as some or the other branch was working in Northern / Eastern or Western India. And we had to report to work. But on those days, we got to leave little earlier. I still remember, how much seeing even a little daylight brought a feeling of satisfaction for me. It warmed my heart as it does when you see something you adore (seeing kittens brings the same feelings in me!). On Sundays, I used to stare at the open window looking at the bright day. I never let the curtains be drawn being afraid to miss out seeing the daylight.

Days went by. I stopped even meeting relatives or going for marriages. Because people started wondering why I wasn't married. I hated the exclamatory stares of known people as I attended marriages of younger people. Neither did I get the time to attend functions. But even Sundays, I preferred to be by myself. And moreover, I needed the rest to gather strength to fight through the coming week. Work got more hectic as many people quit in frustration. While I faced the problems bravely. The people in the neighbouring area probably thought I worked in a Call centre and not in a bank. Because people are generally used to seeing retail branches, which close earlier. Processing units and corporate operations are areas which are not visible to the normal public.

To the existing problems, marriage problems started getting added. I was already late. As I hardly got time to socialise, I was not seen or known much. When proposals came, I was not available at home. Time went by. The pressure started building from all sides. Family, friends, relatives. Finally, came a time that I myself started feeling the pressure and lot of insecurities started cropping up in my mind. Then even the little free time i got, now had to be put in finding a soulmate. Ads were put in newspapers, my name was registered by my parents in marriage bureaus. Then there was a lady in Andheri, who was supposed to fix marriages, whom I hated on sight! Everywhere it was just a question of money. No one really bothered after that. Going to all these places, used to bring tears to my eyes. I hated every part of it. I felt like a commodity. Nothing worked. It only brought funny and sad results. And disappointment. Then we decided to try the matrimonial sites. More disappointments. Then finally gave up with a lot of frustration. Confidence slowly starting going down with problems in work and life.

Hobbies and things I liked to do went further in the background. 2-3 good friends remained. But there was no time to even meet them. Just a few calls here and there once in a month or two. Or sometimes, not even that. Parents health started taking a toll. Dad's health, especially. It was bad when he had to come to the station with chest pain to pick me from the station when I used to be late from work. Finally I could take it no longer and decided to quit, no matter what. I tried one last time to ask for a transfer to a corporate branch, where timings would be much better. It finally worked (had been trying since a couple of years)!

I moved to a branch after several long years in what I call 'Kaale paani ki sazah'. As I think of those days, I can sing -'' Summer of 2009, those were the worst days of my life''! Because the location was also very far from Andheri station apart from having long work hours. 10 months back I moved to Worli office. Life was definately better than earlier. Timings were better. Comparatively, I felt better. I could see the daylight from the glass windows and go out and have lunch too. And at branch, could actually get the bank holidays after so many years. This period gave me time to concentrate on my Dad's health, coax him for checkups, and talk him into getting operated. I gave up on thinking of marriage after all the tensions. Then for almost three months I was assigned the task of setting up a trade desk at Borivali branch. This was almost after Dad's operation. Being near home helped. And post surgery, we were to give him injections day and night. My bro, who had work timings later did the task in the morning. One injection to be given before dinner became my duty as I came earlier than ever! I was scared initially, but finally became a good nurse. And believe me, those were the best months of my life in the entire span of 10 years in the bank. I was near my home. Could leave home at convenient time in the morning. Could finish work at 7 -7 pm and still be home by 8 pm or earlier. Could pay attention to myself. I saw several movies in this short span of time, which I'd not seen in ages. Found a nice, kind man and my marriage got finalised within a month of moving to Borivali. Everything was finally falling in place. I thought God has finally heard my prayers. I was happy to be happy finally. But suddenly, things started going backwards. The period did not last for more than 3 months! I was put back in Worli as in-charge of a Unit. According to management, they have given me a good profile and increase in pay, but for me it only meant long distance from home and longer hours. For me, now only peace of mind and happiness matters. Work now is better than old times. But why should I settle for only better after all these years of struggle?! The marriage which got finalised, is again stuck for various reasons. And my Life has again come to a standstill. Everyone I know is asking me about the marriage date, which I myself do not know. I don't even know what's going to happen finally. But keep praying and hoping for the best.

I don't want to go into reverse gear and experience all the problems all over again. I want to be happy. Truly happy. Settle down. Have my own kids. I want my family to be happy because of me. I want to do things that I like. Like painting, sketching - I wonder when I did that last! I keep smiling inspite odds. I fight back the tears. But sometimes u cannot stop them. But have to control for family's sake. In office, I have to joke and smile and boost the morale of my reportees who work hard. But sometimes people envy outward projections of happiness, not knowing what's deep within. And you lose more of what you never had anyways!

I don't know what prompted me to write what I would never share generally with anyone except at home.

I am going to work on realising my dreams. And I need lots of prayers and my own determination for that. I thank my friend Charmaine who's been a moral and emotional support ever since I've known her for the past few months. I thank God for her. I shall overcome one day, Inshallah.

Hot, hotter, hottest !!!

It's getting hotter and hotter by the day.

And as rains are nearing, its a little cloudy since the past few days. But this does not bring any relief to us. It only gets more hotter. Plus there's shortage of water.

In the southern interiors, the rains have started. In Mumbai, rains are just a week or two away, hopefully! And so is my birthday!!!

My birthdays always brought rains as I grew up. Only in the recent years, they've been unpredictable.

But now birthdays do not bring the same excitement as they did earlier. They just come and go. And you can't do anything about it except get old! But rains will always bring relief from heat! Mumbai monsoons have something romantic and exciting about them minus the floods. The all-season footwear is already in the market. Go then, buy your rain gear and get ready to get wet and say bye bye to sweat!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Amidst all odds - emerges a winner

Kashmir is the crown of India. Right at the top of the Indian map. And surrounded by 3 nations. That gives the state vulnerability and the people often get caught in the disputes of two nations making a claim on the Indian land. The places have military and security personnel even in the main city. Something similar to what I saw in Assam, when I'd visited Dad on his posting to the state for two years, several years ago.

Flights to Srinagar from rest of India allow cabin luggage. But flights from Srinagar to rest of India do not even allow cabin luggage. As you move out of Srinagar, you are subject to three security checks. A few kilometres away from the airport, your have to leave your vehicle and be subjected to luggage and personal check. Beyond that not more than two people who are not taking the flight can accompany you till the main airport. As you reach the airport, your main luggage is again put through scan. Then after taking the boarding pass, you're subject to gruelling security check including body frisking. Ladies purses are emptied on the table and every item is checked in front of all. The lady security personnel sometimes have a laugh at some simple people's expense. You're not allowed a single safety pin or even a small roll of stitching thread. Even cosmetics like compact, eyeshadows, kajal are checked to the extent of spoiling it. Maybe some ladies checking the stuff want to irritate the passengers so much that you allow them to keep it.

As you finish the embarrassing display of your personal things to everyone, you heave a sigh of relief ! As you finally move out of the airport towards the aircraft after showing your boarding pass, it's not over as yet. Another body frisking session is waiting for you ! Then you finally move towards the aircraft sans any luggage and a messy handbag.
For many years, the tourism had dropped due to fear in the people of rest of India in going to places like Srinagar, Gulmarg and the like. People do go towards the Jammu area for Vaishnav Devi yatra, but not many go towards Srinagar. As not many companies have their offices in this area, the major occupation of the people in the land remains sale of local handicrafts. And you find a few other traders apart from some professionals. Slowly, tourism is picking up. Even Dr Manmohan Singh is taking steps to phase out the military from the area and give relief to the inhabitants of the state. We all need to see Kashmir just as any other state of India.
People living away from the city, in the valley, go through lot of problems as cross border tensions build up. But they have now started taking it a part of their lives. Some youth do get frustrated and take a wrong path. While some others face discrimination when they go to other parts of India. Amidst all this tension and the trauma of losing his father to terrorists, when you consider the fact that a boy can overcome all odds to get an MBBS degree first and then top the IAS exams in India, it is really an achievement. There have been times in earlier years, when one used to hear of schools and offices remaining closed unconditionally due to problems in the area. All this affects the normal schooling of a child apart from the fact that the syllabus of children in same standard is not uniform across the state. I saw two children of the same class having two different sets of books altogether.

But having facing all problems, Dr Faisal Shah has brought not only pride, but also hope to the people, especially youth, of Jammu and Kashmir. And like him, I feel all the youth of the state should think positively and strive to achieve success amidst all odds! And you cannot deny success to a person who strives hard to achieve it! And the rest of India, should of course stand in support.
Note : I'd been to the state only for 3 days in Dec when the 'Chinar' trees had shed their leaves a la 'Mohabbatein' style. But Apr-Oct is actually the right time to be in 'heavenly land'. Mumbai heat is so bad, leading to so many related problems, I do not mind rushing to Srinagar right now!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Drought like situation in Mumbai- craving for water

It rained in New Delhi on 1st May resulting in temperatures falling by 6 degrees celsius bringing a relief to the residents.
It rained a few days back in Pune.
Goa has also experienced rain in the last week.
Its been raining in Bangalore since the past week. Friends staying there even reported pieces of ice falling with the rain making the entire weather cool.

The weather seems to be pleasant all around. But Mumbai is experiencing a drought-like situation this year. It's terribly hot this year. And because of less rains last year, there is also a water shortage. The lakes supplying drinking water to the city are almost drying up. People do not get water daily. Even the private suppliers who supply to individual homes at a price are not getting water from the Municipality. The situation is getting worse. The official rain season in Mumbai is from second week of June. There's still entire May to go till then.... How will we survive in this heat sans water until we're blessed with water from above? We can expect unseasonal showers too till then for relief from heat !

But we still stand short of water. Inspite of good rains in Mumbai, its sad that rain water is not harvested here and we wait till the next season for our supply of water. We're living like primitives in a big city. What Mumbai needs is some good projects for harvesting rain water instead of putting money in skywalks in unnecessary places.