Then it happened

Three years of training & hard work came to an end. Results of confirmation were awaited. What started as ‘understood silence’ between them, translated into spoken words. They were few, but conversations happened. She knew through him about his family. His father had a failed business & mom a small job that kept their kitchen running. The only son of his parents, at an early age, he realised his responsibilities. Everything banked on this job confirmation. There was no fun in the process for him.

Opening up to him was easy for her. There wasn’t much of a story there. A regular family, siblings’, fun, vacations etc. This job was just a career for her & her life didn’t depend on it.

He called her sometimes. The calls though, were few & far in between. But there was closeness in the space. He lived in the far end of the town in the very big city. She lived in the suburbs on the other side of the city. Meetings were rare. But they never missed a chance if they got one. Sometimes to exchange notes & other times for reference books.

She was pretty & guys asking her out was common. She liked that he wasn’t pushy. He never flattered her with compliments. He sounded real. She knew this job confirmation meant everything to him. He had worked very hard. She hadn’t done as much. In fact she could wait to get her chance, she wanted to see him move ahead. Finally, it was the day of results. Both were nervous. Both for him. But he didn’t know it yet. Internet was still not used widely & people had to go personally to find their results. They decided to meet & check it together. Scanning the various lists put up, they finally found his name. She was so eager that he get through, she had forgotten all about herself. She jumped & hugged him. Their first. She could’ve kissed him too. That’s how happy she was. Then he stopped the mini celebration to check her name, she did not make it. This however made no difference to her celebratory mood. So they went on for a small celebration. A treat at a local juice stall, as this is all they could afford.

He was always the smartest in the pack. In the very first year, he had won the best trainee award. It was a prestigious one. More so, because it was also the 100th year of the Firm where they worked. She remembered the day it was announced, the entire office clapped for him. She glowed with pride as if she had made some personal contribution to that achievement. He always got the best clients & best work throughout. The firm would’ve been glad to absorb him with a fat raise & promotion too. She thought about all this while sipping her juice & jokingly told him, ‘maybe they will directly offer you partnership to the firm as you are the best they have ever had’. It was a happy moment. His difficult past was soon to be history. Jobs & a good pay would now come easy. His parents would be proud. He smiled for a moment, then looked her into the eye. She sensed something. He paused a bit, then smiled again & said, ‘I don’t know what the firm will offer, but if ever you offer me, I’m ready to be your partner for life’. It was a proposal, more of an offer. It happened slowly. It took its time of three years from glances, to silent walks to few conversations and then this. Just the way she liked it, slow and strong.  It was now official, they were in love.

Most stories would end here, with an end that said, ’and they lived happily ever after’. Would that be their end too?

Two much to be true

She trusted him crazy & wanted more of him. Four months were to end soon. He had been assigned his next job already. It involved a month long stay another city. A prestigious client & an important job. So this was it, they would part soon. Would he care to call? But they hardly spoke, why would he call her? Would he miss her too? She felt insecure & uncertain.

His last day at the clients office, good byes were told, he seemed happy. Happy to leave, happy to move on. He came up to her, looked her into the eye & formally held up his hand asking for a hand shake. ‘Bye’ he said with a smile that drew his lips to one straight line. Not sure if it was a smile or just an expression to hide every other feeling that was within. They shook hands, she forced a smile back at him & wished him well. That’s it, it was over. Was there some sadness she saw there? She couldn’t say. No more long walks, no more evening coffees, no more sun sets at the cabin. But she knew it all along. It was just an assignment & it was meant to get over. She felt empty & longed for more time with him.

He was to leave with his team the next day. She was still waiting to hear about her next assignment. Late that evening she got a call at her residence. It was from office. This happened only in cases of emergency. One member of the team to leave the next day had fallen ill. They needed urgent replacement & she was the closest fit. It was a request to travel for a month at such short notice. Her joy knew no bounds. Another assignment together, so soon. Being the most judged one & the last choice for any project, worked in her favour after all. She was overjoyed, but spoke casually. Hmmm, ok, if you insist, I’ll do that for you’ll she said.

That call was immediately followed by another. This time it was him. He found her number from the office records. Have you travelled this far by train ever? He asked her. The office will provide some advance, but don’t forget to carry some of your own cash for emergency. Click. Rrring. ‘It must be cold there unlike our city. Don’t forget to pack enough woollens’. Click. Rrring. ‘Do you know your way around the railway station? I’ll meet you outside near the display indicator, else you’ll get lost, it’s a huge station’

She was too excited to spend another month with him. His calm mind recollected that she had never travelled by a train ever & that too a day long journey. She smiled goofily. Three consecutive calls meant that he cared for her. Why would he do it otherwise? He thought through things & this was the kind of person she would want by her side forever.

She felt safe knowing he would be there & so she slept peacefully that night. Next day was a big one. Rushed to work to pick important files, documents, tickets etc. and then went back home to pick her luggage. She had packed her best office clothes & some casual wear too. The train was at midnight. She hailed a cab & went to the station.

Her smile was plastered on her face through the month. This was the best time of her life. Was she in love? Well, she still didn’t think like that yet. But she loved what was happening to her.

Was this all just coincidence or did destiny have its own plans for them both?

Destiny served on a platter

They were trainees in one of the best reputed Firms in the Country. Assignments were plenty with Clients spread all over the country. Teams were formed as need arose, with one or sometimes two trainees in a team along with Managers or other seniors. There were 20 freshers and another 15 senior trainees. What were the chances that they end up in the same team? One in 30 or maybe lesser. The most challenging assignment got the best team combination. He would be the first choice for any good assignment, as he was smart and intelligent. She was intelligent too, but was perceived to be easy & not so career focussed.

The client was new & so was the work. The job required a team of 4 junior trainees, who could impress. A first time for the Firm to show their capabilities in a different and new market. But yet it happened, they were picked for the same assignment. The intelligent & the vivacious. Most assignments lasted not more than a couple of weeks, but this was to go on for 4 months.

Hmmm, 4 months of him she thought. They had never spoken much. She was talkative & he seemed to like silence. The client department they were to report to, was large. But within few days she knew them all by their first names & a thing or two about their families too.  When they would gather around to celebrate small milestones like a birthday or anniversary, she fit in like one among them & did not stand out like an outsider.

She was always conscious of his presence around her. In a crowded room, she observed that he would look for her & choose to stand somewhere close to her. He seemed comfortable & at ease when he saw her within a certain radius around him. If she moved to another place, he would too, always keeping her in sight but never looking directly at her or making any attempt at conversation. Silence to her was usually awkward, but somehow she understood his silence.

They never spoke much. This silence let her observe a lot. She saw that he would adjust his lunch time in a way so that they could eat together or that he would silently get an additional cup of coffee from the pantry & leave it on her table sometimes. When she worked late, he would loiter around office even if he was done for the day. He would then get up to leave as soon as she would start to wind up for the day. That way they could take the same elevator down the nine floors of the office building. He would wait till she got a cab. It was rare to find one late evenings, so they would walk up to the station together to take a train to their respective destination. It was a good 20 minute of walk in silence. Initially she would work late just so that he wait up for her. Soon it became a routine, to leave together every evening, no matter what time it was. They stopped looking for cabs in a fear that they might find one. They enjoyed the long & silent walks. The weather in the city late evenings was always pleasant. Both didn’t know what the other was thinking. They would just walk, their arms occasionally brushing against each other. This made them smile softly.

The Client office space was in the best location of the city. It was a business district in the old part of town. At 9 Floors, this was easily one of the tallest structures around. The corner cabin that was temporarily given to the consulting team overlooked the sea. There was nothing beyond, but just sea water till the horizon. One evening both of them were reconciling some important data, they were lost in records for some hours. The rest of the four member team had left for the day. A lot of time had passed and when they were alone, he looked up & said, ‘beautiful’. She was taken aback as it didn’t sound like what she heard. And she was right, he was referring to the sun that was setting behind her at a distance. The scene was indeed beautiful like a painting. Two of them in a lone cabin at the far end of the city watching a beautiful sunset by the sea. At a time when there were no smart phones, this was one picture that got framed in her mind forever.

The silent friendship

It was a very rainy day in the city. Most offices closed early, because people had to travel far to reach home. Public transport could get affected due to the downpour. But these were young people, they loved to hang around. It wasn’t just another office day after all. The centenary celebration of the Firm they just joined was exactly 2 weeks away and preparations were on in full swing.

Much against her wishes, she was chosen to perform on stage in a play. A play to mark the big occasion. She was no actor, but the choice was obvious. Woman in the office were few & she was pretty. Prettiest amongst them atleast. She also had a personality to go with it. So when they wanted a female lead, it was her they chose. She was a fresher & it was her immediate Managers request that she couldn’t deny. The other seniors were quick to judge her. She is all drama, can never make it big as she is not focussed on her career, they said. Free spirited she was, so she took up the challenge & put her heart into it, just like she did in everything else.

Practise was on in full swing inside & the rains poured with full force outside. Soon it began to get silent as most offices closed for the day. All floors in the office building were now deserted. Just 10 young guys & girls practising in a room on the top floor for the upcoming event. When on a break, her mind drifted. She thought of him. It was obvious he wouldn’t take part in any of the performances. He just didn’t fit on stage. But she wished he would be here in the same room. She smiled at the thought. How silly of her. Why would he come here, he had no business after all. So late in the evening, on such a rainy day. Her mind kept going back, she wished he would come at least to see her. But it’s not like they were in love or even good friends. He seemed to be a practical person, why would he waste his time here.

Then all of a sudden, a gush of cool and heavy monsoon air filled the room. The sound of the raindrops got louder than before. Everyone turned to look at the door as it opened. So did she. He spotted her first. As their eyes met she smiled her best smile ever as it came straight from her heart. He turned to greet the rest & acted casual, as if he belonged there as a part of the group and at that odd hour. Why was he here? Had he heard her thoughts? Did he like her? She blushed. Was this love? For if it was, she didn’t know it yet.

The first time they met

All 20 of them were fresh recruits. They were all freshly out of college, young & enthusiastic, ready to give it their all & rise in their career. A young and chirpy crowd, but for one. He stood out from the rest. Not like a black sheep, but like a diamond among rocks.

She was independent & fun loving, talked easily & a favourite among all. Her eyes fell instantly on him. She was no attention seeker, but also was not used to being ignored. People liked her & spoke to her. But he seemed distant & not interested. He got more attention in being quiet than she did in all the conversations she made with people.

Something drew her towards him. She wanted to know him better, to be his friend. To stand by him, because it felt like he was alone. She kept glancing at him, wondering why he was the way he was. Maybe she was being intrusive, maybe he was happy being alone. Its then she noticed, his occasional glances towards her. Not with the turn of the head, just a glance with his eyes. That of approval & acceptance. A small curve in the lips that could be a smile or something that said, yes you are my friend. Now she was happy, she had not 19 but 20 new friends.

From an occasional shopper..

A very funny incident at work today reminded me of a time not very long ago when we had to deal with sales men at stores (yes that culture still exists, but you experience lesser these days)

The expectant look on the face of the salesman who follows you around as you glance around at the displays & then ‘the’ question, ‘yes Madam, what do you want?’ I can understand that he is just doing his job, but it never fails to annoy me that I am being constantly observed & followed, if not physically, then just with the glances. Why do I always have to ‘want’ something? Maybe I am just exploring with a vague Idea in my mind of what I can have. Maybe, I just dont know yet what I want!

I shop very differently. I don’t like going to multiple shops with an agenda of window shopping, nor do I like to try out 500 things before buying. My shopping is usually done in 30 mins flat. I always have something as a concept in my mind. I like to walk around & just see & feel the store before I pick what I want. That one piece usually ends up in my wardrobe.

Sadly, the sales men are just pushed with targets that they need to meet and are usually not trained enough to understand the customer. So here will be a guy who will sell me what he has rather than what I want. These are situations that I have experienced that have made me run out of the store & never to look back:

Lets say I am at a store looking at a top that I like but want a different color.

Salesman: yes madam?

Me : do you have this in yellow (as it will match the other skirt I bought last month)

Saleman: Madam, Pink is also a very nice color

Me: But I don’t want pink, It wont match

Salesman: you must try it, you will look very pretty in pink

Me (thinks): Duh-huh?

Another one at a shoe store that’s even crazier, when I like a pair but they don’t have my size (as always, because I am too large footed to be an Indian lady 😦 )

Salesman: Madam you can buy size 7, no problem, it will take shape after 2 wears.

Me: but it does not fit

Salesman: size 8 & 7 are almost the same.. This will stretch to fit, see (and a small demonstration follows)

Me (thinks): Then why do they make different sizes.

Exactly the point when I sprint to the exit..

Happy I am with the mall culture, where I am left alone to pick what I want. 🙂

The Yogi in me writes :)

Few days ago was International yoga day. The whole world was celebrating. My friends from across the globe were posting pictures of large groups who had gotten together on that day for a yoga session. One from Kuwait, the other from Africa and many more such. Here back home in India, we had several local yoga events taking place. Once such was the Surya Namaskar challenge. For those who don’t know what Surya Namaskar means, it is simply a salutation to the Sun (whom we Hindus consider to be God), where Surya means Sun & Namaskar is Namaste or a salutation done with folded palms. SN is an intense series of 12 steps that are performed in perfect symmetry. Two rounds of these 12 steps in succession ie 24 steps (12 for each side of your body- left & right) constitutes one SN. A good friend took up the challenge & completed 1008 SN’s ie 1008*24 = 24192 steps. Whew!! He did this in about 4.5 hours. If done correctly, SN has many benefits to the human body as well as mind. It is a complete exercise form by itself as it improves your overall strength & stamina.

My mom introduced me to yoga when I was still a girl. And nothing gives me so much peace than practising this form of exercise (other than running of course) it was by chance that it happened. Mom wanted to join a group of people who practised yoga at a nearby park that was about a kilometre away from where we stayed. We had to be there at 6 am & she was afraid to walk alone that early. She asked me if I would accompany her & that is where I had my first session of non-professional yoga, with senior citizens (most of them were in their 50’s. Today, as I add numbers to my years, I have many friends who are in their 50’s & no, I don’t think they are old :D. But that was then, when I was still to turn 18). An old lady shouting out instructions, the others following (not necessarily maintaining the right posture); no one corrected us! Then some elderly would freely fart when we did the ‘pavanamuktasan’ (a pose that helps relieving gas especially for the gastronomously inclined 😀 ).  This leading to many giggles and friendly comments from the rest of the group. I was the youngest there (only one in that age), but loved what I did.

When I grew up, I took up to running. Slowly I felt the need to balance my runs with some alternate form of strength training. I naturally chose yoga (I have also tried, gym, aerobics, pilates etc but stuck to yoga). The breathing has opened up my lungs & helped me to be a better runner. The planks have strengthened my core & improved my posture while I run (or even during the normal course of the day, I don’t slouch). I can go on about the benefits, but will stop here atleast for now 🙂

So when the world has suddenly woken up to understand the benefits of Yoga, I smile to myself with a sense of satisfaction. Been there, doing that..Till death do us apart 🙂

…and the winner takes it all

One of my most favourite movie is a Bollywood blockbuster – Dilwale Dulhania le jaayenge that released in 1990’s. I must’ve watched it atleast 20 times if not more. I usually don’t settle in front of an idiot box for long enough to catch a movie these days. But if it is DDLJ that’s showing, the channel never changes. Yesterday was one such day. It took me back to a different period of my life & reminded me how one movie can have such an impact on any person.

It’s a fairytale love story, where a boy & girl meet by chance and fall in love. The girls’ parents are very conservative. There is no way her parents will let her make her own choice & move on in life as she is already engaged to a boy of her father’s choice (whom she has never met as an adult). Here, she feels the need to choose between her family & her lover. In such a situation, she suggests to her lover that they elope & start their life together alone.

Her lovers reply to this suggestion is something that has probably changed the way I think, forever. He explains to her that, at every juncture of life there will be two paths that lead you to your desired destination. One road will be short & easy, this one will attract you as it will take you to your destination very quickly. But it will cause a lot of problem to you in many other ways, as you have chosen a short cut. The other road will be long, tough & less attractive. You will need a lot of patience, but once you choose that path, you will always emerge stronger & as a winner. Believe in yourself, Believe in me (the lover).

I agree with this approach & have applied it at every juncture of my life. At every difficult situation, I ask myself that question, ‘Is there any other way? Will that give the same result?’ I have not always emerged a winner & am still waiting to reach the destination of some tough paths that I have chosen. But I do believe in myself.

In the movie, the lead pair emerge as winners. They win the hearts of their entire family & also millions of cinema goers & live happily ever after. I love it when people go all out to get what they really want. I am hoping my destiny will follow the same route & that someday I can write my own story with a happy ending ‘…and the winner takes it all… ‘