Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On the cards

I got a shiny new bank debit card a few days back, yet again. Considering the alarming frequency with which I tread the thin line between carefree and careless, the 3 times (twice irreplaceably) I lost my salary bank ATM card do deserve a look back. The college ATM card that I lost once in the meanwhile can wait.

Before I begin, the four years in college that I had an ATM card passed on peacefully. And it is not that I did not use it that often to be lost. I mean every time we went to the main gate I had to rush to the ATM to get whatever little cash I had in my account to pay for the vada pav and cutting chai we had. Nothing ever happened.

After coming into this job thing, the little money in the account part didn't change. The frequent use didn't change. Curiously the mishandling part did. I mean the SBI ATM had this swipe and remove thing, where you had to be an absolute moron to lose a card. This ATM that I have now eats up the card, dispenses the cash and you have to wait for eternity after pressing a button to wait for the card. A lesser degree of morons find this change slightly unnerving.

So the inevitable happened the first time around November. It had been just 2 months since I had gotten this card, before that I had no identity proof to even open a salary account. I had to depend on my SBI card, which I managed to lose right about then! Talk about poor timing. Anyway, just to substantiate Murphy's law, I lost my salary account card right on the day I got my salary. As I described, I must have forgotten it in some bloody ATM which gladly would have eaten it up. The conjectures because I wasn't even sure until about a day later.

The realization part was comical, it had to be. As usual we had no food at home. We were hosting a friend and I volunteered to go to the market and get some food. Again adding to the situation all the ATM's in the market were non-functional, sparing one. This meant that there was this half a kilometer long queue outside that solitary functioning one. I waited in the line patiently. The guy behind me asked if we could use an ABN card at an SBI ATM. I consoled him telling that is exactly what I was going to do before him.

My chance came in about five hundred hours, compounded by the fact that I was very hungry by then. I entered the room with the machine and took out my wallet. Hard luck, there was no card. I searched frantically, and realized there were people behind who were getting irritated. I came out making a stupid face. Trying to figure out what happened all the while.

It was around 9 in the night. It was cold. It started raining. Cold November rain. I phoned back home, they sympathized. My friend volunteered to accompany me to the far off market we had visited in the morning to trace the missing card. We were the only ones in the bus. It was playing cheesy Bappi Da numbers which somehow irritated me to the point of laughter. It was all so surrealistically comical. Not the end mind you.

We reached the market in about 40 minutes. We knocked on the ATM doors and asked the guards. They were clueless. What were we thinking? The best part was that it was an AXIS bank ATM and I had a had time explaining both the customer care people. I gave up. We had to get back, and the place was deserted. Windy, chilly, raining, freezing cold. We saw a bus going to our place. The conductor said it would go if it starts. We pushed it, ran in the rains pushing that damn bus. It started and we ran to hop in before it gathered speed. I took and seat and laughed. Unstoppable laughter. It was all so surrealistically improbably insane. And yet it was happening.

The blocking and re-issue of course went like clockwork. I decided to be ultra careful from now on.

Ultra careful, right. Once again, about 2 months later, I forgot it while taking cash from downstairs my company. I went up, got a call from an office number, which as always I almost didn't pick up:

"Hi, is this Nikhil?'"
"I think you left your card in the ATM downstairs"
'You think, you're not sure?' (what a real smart thing to say, isn't it?)
"No, no I mean you did leave it. I left it with the guard."
'Well. Thanks a lot. Thank you.'

Quite obviously that guy thought right. I rushed down and embarrassingly but fortunately reclaimed my card.

This third time, again the day I got my salary this month, I don't even remember. It's almost as if the card underwent spontaneous combustion. I pick up my wallet that morning, all happy to finally able to fill it with some cash and presto... my card's gone. I tried using my SBI card, but it was so long that I had forgotten the pin. Every day I went to the SBI ATM, tried a random (absolutely sure at that point of time) combination of four numerals but the machine refused to dispense me any money. All this at a time when I was supposed to treat people on my birthday. Talk about timing!

Honestly, this time I'm taking serious care :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Serenity Now

He had to take therapy. I mean you just can’t sit down on the middle of the road, shouting you are God, blabbering incomprehensible stuff and not take therapy. I can’t even make a straight face and say I did not see that coming. We used to sit for extended periods of time at places; parks, stairways, roadsides and talk about stuff, logical stuff from his perspective, my perspective does not even matter. He did the talking, I did the listening.

I used to come back and wonder, what triggered all this. Why someone so obviously creative and talented (I hate that word, but that’s why I use it) could end up this way. He told me something that his therapist told him. Creativity need not always be a positive thing. Probably it is like tripping, trip bad and you end up being scarred for life. Trip good and you end up being Pink Floyd or Aldous Huxley.

I did my own amateur therapy part. You know it is not always talent or creativity that decides things; it is how you decide to use them. The part about talent being nothing but a genetic gift from your parents, works well till 18. You top schools, ace competitive exams, get praises and accolades. That’s about it. After 18 it is all about hard work. I bet he knew all this. I mean who doesn’t.

He used to tell me that he doesn’t see things the way I do. He described what an approaching car with the light cone made by the headlights meant to him. I ended up telling him something way weirder; just to prove that others may think on the same lines too, just that it is not worth the imagination. I mean why on earth would you unleash your creative line of thought on something so insignificant. I was a being a victim of my own explanation.

What triggered this bad tripping is a totally different matter. I thought it was the pride, the huge ego, the putting up to great expectations compounded by a slightly enhanced imaginative mind. A mild setback (again a debatable word), and a whole world would come crashing down. Part truth.

I wouldn’t complete the rest of the story. Partly because it is not complete. Let it be.

But sometimes, when things get blue, I ponder about what the therapist said about creativity and imagination always not being a good thing.

There is thing that troubles me often. How long do you stay what people think is you? What if I’m tired of joking, making fun, trying to be witty and sarcastic and want to stay silent? A wrong time to think all this but just about half the friends who called me up ended up asking if everything is okay. Everything is okay.

I am just getting tired of being what people think I am. And playing along is getting difficult all the time.

And so I get older. Happy birthday.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pink City Blues

Amazing view from atop the chair

I feel so bad that I cribbed about Kotla in my previous post. I feel horrible. Because, putting things in perspective after Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Jaipur, every expletive in the fattest dictionary of slang ever printed would fall short. Honest to God.

Firstly let me put the disappointment of a complete mismatch aside. Chennai got annihilated, Dhoni sucked. But that's cricket. I take it in my stride. Traveling 220 kms up and down to watch this match in the best possible seat on offer would have been tragic. Understandable nonetheless.

But boy oh boy do I rue that screwed up moment when I chose the 400 instead of 500 buck ticket, thinking what the frigging difference will it make as to what stand I chose. That choice ruined up the experience of not only a stadium, not only a city, but the entire state as a whole. Elaborate I must. Elaborate I will.

So these guys have this Hitchcock inspired stand names, we chose the west south one. Seemingly a harmless choice, but even Hitchcock wouldn't have anticipated such a cruel twist of fate. The signs on the ticket were ominous enough. Pink color coded stand in Pink city, what was I thinking? It would all have been nice in a tweens Barbie world simulation match. Real life is tough.

The screwing dumb wits had the stand designed like a damned roadside maidan. The essential element of a stadium i.e. the constant increase in elevation of stands as rows went back was not figured out I guess. They had put all chairs, all at almost the same level, which meant that people even 3-4 rows behind could have an iota of a chance of catching a glimpse of any action. Barring the soda pop guy selling his stuff.

As it is people tend to get excited in cricket matches. They shout at players like they are next door acquaintances almost sure of getting a response. The presence of cheerleaders aggravates and compounds the situation. All this meant that everyone in the entire stand was not only standing, but standing on the chairs. To add to the agony, instead of standing still, most were jumping and dancing and waving which does not do good to your anger when you are already irritated.

We tried our best to restore sanity. We begged, we pleaded, we implored people to sit down. But the moment a ball was about to be bowled everyone stood up again. We resorted to slandering, abusing people and got full sport from fellow back rowers. Again, the effect was short lived.

Irritated beyond words, and disappointed, we had to do what the other were doing. Stand on our chairs to watch the action. We could only convince ourselves to do it once in a while, letting out our frustration at the people in front in the meanwhile. The match on ground didn't help the mood.

This watching experience matches the one in Keenan, Jamshedpur that I had quoted in my previous post.

Mohali better be good :)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A night at Kotla

Kotla by Night. From up above.

I have this dream of watching a cricket match in every stadium possible. I took one step forward this week towards the completion of this quest.

We went to witness an IPL T20 match between Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore. I had booked a dozen tickets, half a dozen by mistake, so it was just a matter of choosing the company. That wasn't the tough part, of course. The tough part was getting to Kotla on a sweltering summer day to collect the tickets and do a full circumference of the stadium before getting to the right counter. This seriously made me wonder if all this was worth the effort. But then I am a veteran of standing in 4 km lines to get into a cricket stadium, only to kneel down on concrete and watch the match for 25 overs. Getting old brings that element of skepticism with it I guess.

Anyway, expect for the heavy traffic congestion everything else was smooth sailing. The stands were full but not over packed. The view was good from the north-west stand we were in, right next to the sight screen. But, having watched a match each in Wankhedede and Brabourne, I was left wanting for much more. The scoreboard was pathetic, they could do with an electronic scoreboard. The so called 'big' screen wasn't big enough, and the little they managed to show of the action on the field was of quality comparable to grainy low quality porn videos (so I'm told :D ).

The 'glam' element was equally obscene. I mean I'm not there to watch 'Akki' waving hands at a place he doesn't belong to. And a sad Kailash Kher singing songs I have and would never hear. Cheerleaders bring little cheer, when they are Indianised. The purpose gets lost. But then about 99.99% of the people were happy, ecstatic in fact. I guess we won't we getting a live rock show at a stadium soon enough then.

All said and done, the view from the top tier, right next to the floodlights up above, was surreal. The ground looked like an exotic green carpet, with toy like players sliding and running about. That's the view I've tried to capture with the slightly less than adequate phone camera.

Continuing this quest, we head to Jaipur tomorrow. It is not the first time I have seen the great Shane Warne and the local Dhoni in action on a cricket field. Then, you can never have enough.

I am divided though. Warney or Dhoni? Sentimental!