Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chapter Fifteen - Facing the Fear

Team: Wings of Change
 
Context - Blogadda is conducting a contest (Game of Blogs) where it chooses 10 random bloggers per team to write fiction based on 5 character description it provided. Each blogger has to continue the story from where the previous team member left off. 
 
Read the previous part of the story here.
 
 
 
 
Chapter Fifteen - Facing the Fear
 
When she first heard about the client she took over from Megz, she had discarded the coincidence of the name with nonchalance. But when she took the file and read the complete name, she couldn't believe it. She did not know if it was just chance or there was a higher purpose behind. Otherwise how can someone explain such a overwhelming coincidence? But there was nothing she could do. After wasting lot of time she explained to herself that the whole situation was in her favor. If her stars are good, she might see her child again, and possibly more than once. This made her mind stable and cheered her a little. She was now looking forward to the meeting.
 
The only fear was Mr.Dutta. Her only contact with the man was his last and only call to her. There had not been any contact after that but she had gathered he was a man of kind heart. On the other hand she herself had not shown any trait of a mother. She may have tried her best to be around the child but that was all in unawares to Mr.Dutta. To them, she was just a woman who had responded emotionally on a phone call after which never cared to call back. The thought made her tizzy. She sighed. She could do nothing. The ball was in his court now and all she could do was wait and watch.
 
Shekhar scribbled on the notepad as Roohi played in the swimming pool. He was watching her but his mind was engrossed in the magnanimity of the sudden turn of events. Who would have known? The woman who they have tried to stay away from was brought back to them by the fate. He tried to connect the dots but it was beyond logic. However, the writer in him was mesmerized by the randomness that converged their destiny. What was he supposed to do? He knew nothing of the woman. He did not want to cancel the meeting with Jennifer as he had accepted the decision made by the higher, to bring them face to face. But his mind kept whirling, What kind of mother Jennifer was? She didn't care to even call back....he watched his little girl, and thanked God repeatedly to bring the child to them, she deserved better care, and Tara and he would give Roohi their best.
 
Finally it was the evening of their meeting. Shekhar sat shifting weight as he watched a woman approaching him. "Hi, How are you?", she spoke first. Shekhar even though a freelancer, wasn't an uncommon face, his articles getting published regularly in leading People's magazine. They smiled artificially and greeted each other. Each of them noticing the hint of uncertainty in the greetings exchanged. They had agreed to meet at a beachside open restaurant. Silence lingered at the table as they took in each other and the reality of the meeting. Shekhar cleared his throat and took the initiative. "Jennifer, I don't know what to say (pause) But I would appreciate if we jump in to our reason why we are here." Jennifer nodded, she had expected it. When she had arrived, her eyes had searched for her daughter, even though her mind plodded her with the reality. Holding herself together she nodded. "Yes", she said.
 
Shekhar began explaining, "I believe you have the transcript of my article. I am planning to release it in parts. I am in touch with the planned magazine. Sorry I cannot give you the details until it is finalized. I actually had a discussion with Megz and we had decided about the approach. I am not sure how much of it has been transferred to you. But I am okay with discussing again and listening to your ideas".
 
Jennifer nodded. He continued after a silence, "You are native of Kerala. And I have seen your work. And I must say I am impressed."
 
Jennifer nodded. This time she took over, "I have read your transcript and have talked to Megz. I understand you had decided to show the story in progression of the local industry. However I feel, in case of Kerala, it's about people. It's their dedication and their tenacity to hold and flourish the culture is what makes them special. What I feel is, instead of showing the Kerala cultural industry in terms of periodic progression, why not add it a human perspective. Why not capture how people saw the their living and how they and their culture evolved"
 
"I like your idea. But how exactly would you want to execute it?", Shekhar enquired.
 
"I have a lot of friends and families who have started from zero and are now a big name here. They might have some old pictures. I know they would not contribute to my work but they would certainly compliment my photos of the new era of Kerala. It would add a dimension to our portfolio and make it complete. Besides I know Kerala in and out. I can take you to places less known but not necessarily less valuable, be it beaches or industries", she answered.
 
After hearing her, Shekhar was confident Jennifer would do justice to his article. He smiled. She acknowledged with a smile and the tension in the air turned a bit lighter. For the next thirty minutes they made plans on the places to visit and their approach. By the time they were done, the coffee they ordered was cold. With business already discussed, the sullenness returned to the table. There was no question they would spill a word about their personal life. Each had a thousand questions to ask the other but they held it inside. Fear lingered. After looking at the watch, they both got up in unison calling it a day.
 
He watched her as she walked away. A decent woman. What could have ...? his mind mined questions and doubts. He was a non-judgmental person but today with his daughter at stake, his mind questioned and judged the woman, walking away, who called his child as hers...still watching silently, saw Jennifer turn.
 
To her, the business went well but there was still something incomplete. Thousand of questions mixed in the dizziness of emotions in her mind. She felt a bit unsteady. She wanted to ask him. She turned around and looked him into his eyes. "Shekhar", she mumbled. "Would it be possible....?" she held her words as she saw his eyes turn wide. She shook her head and walked away...
 
Shekhar stood watching her, his heart now beating faster...he almost thought she would ask him but she didn't. He collapsed in the chair and watched her. Would he call her selfish or a figure of strength?
 
Continued here.

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Beginning - Chapter three - Sleepless nights

Team: Wings of Change
 
Read the previous part of the story here
 
Jennifer looked at the red circle marked on the calendar reflected in the mirror. Only five days to go. Nine years had passed and it wasn’t once that she slept free of turmoil of her past. She was a successful woman today and had handled every situation thrown by life with courage. She was strong and independent and was ready for future.
 
But past six days were more than what she could take. She had never felt so desperate and helpless. It had started after the call from the adoption agency. Jennifer had found herself collapsed when she heard she could meet her child. The new parents were ready. She was shocked. After all these years! She felt minuscule and happy at the same time. ‘Roohi’, she whispered. That’s what the adoption agency said the parents named her. It was a beautiful name. Indeed. ‘Only five days to go’, she whispered again.
 
Should she tell this to her husband. Kumar was gentleman. She had not kept her past from him. ‘I want to be your present and future. Your past does not worry me', he had said. He was a gem, someone to have more than she deserved. He was her present and she was extremely happy to be with him. She remembered the time she confessed. She almost asked him if the day comes, when she wants to be with her child, would he be ready for her? She had almost but had stayed mum instead. Probably it was too much to ask from him on their first wedding night. Or probably she was afraid of the answer.
*
 
The breeze was blowing and was bringing in the fresh salty air from the sea as Shekhar and Tara cuddled in each other’s arms. Mumbai had been lucky for them. Each had found their niche in their career and most importantly they had been gifted Roohi here in Mumbai. How much they love her. Tara knew Shekhar was very emotional about Roohi and he was totally unaware of the circumstances that will follow the meeting. The question remained, how would he tell a child what is adoption. She looked affectionately at him as he talked about Roohi with twinkle in his eyes. It was as if he had found the meaning of life with Roohi. Tara felt a sting of jealousy of the little devil.  But Shekhar looked adorable as a father. It was when Shekhar sensed the passion arousing in her and pulled her towards him that they heard Roohi behind the door, banging and crying violently. Shekhar ran to the door and pulled her in embrace.
 
‘Please don’t leave me, papa’, Roohi was crying. ‘Papa is not leaving you, Roohi. I am here, mama is here’, he assured her but Roohi kept sobbing, occasionally stopping to catch breath. Shekhar looked at Tara and she saw his eyes wide with concern, a question. ‘Probably a nightmare’, she whispered to him. He took the child to the bed and held her close and sang lullaby until slowly she slept off.
 
He laid Roohi between them on the bed. They had not yet revealed Roohi about her birth. ‘Of all the time, now? How did she sensed? It’s not that we would be leaving her, but how?’, he sighed. ‘She is not ready, Roohi’,he whispered. ‘Probably it’s not a good idea for her to meet her biological mother now. You were right’, he replied.
 
‘But we are a little late Shekhar. You have already contacted her biological mother. And did you hear the yearning in the woman's voice, to meet the child, after all these years', Tara replied. ‘That doesn’t matter. What if we don’t tell her when we reach Kerela’, Shekhar fought back.
 
‘You messaged her mom's address, Shekhar. That woman is probably counting days. On the day, she is going to be at our door, be it the end of the world’, Tara answered trying to bring to him the complexity of the situation. He gave an angry look to her, his mind judging, What kind of mother is she. But then she isn’t. Tara had adopted Roohi… He had too. But.. their father-daughter relationship were like blood relation. Why she couldn’t understand. He sighed. ‘Well in that case we are not going to Kerela.’ He retaliated.
 
Dissapointment creeped in Tara's voice. ‘I would be meeting my mom after years. ‘So what do you want? Do you want to hand over the girl to that woman who abandoned her?’ he yelled at her. ‘What has happened to you, Shekhar? Listen, I am not saying anything like that. It was your decision to meet them up.’ She replied. She had never seen him like this. Just a child’s dream could do this to him?
 
But then sighed and crossed Roohi towards him. ‘Listen. Nothing’s going to happen to Roohi. She just had a nightmare and would soon forget it. She won’t even remember it when she wakes up tomorrow. Believe me’. She held his head in her arms. ‘We can take help of a counselor if you want. Or if still you don’t want to go ahead, then we have to be honest to the woman. We cannot keep her in dark. We will have to call her and tell her that Roohi is not yet ready. Don’t worry, baby. Everything will be fine. Roohi will be fine… With us.’ He looked in her eyes and she could see he had relaxed a bit but the thin film of tears in his eyes was a warning to her. Roohi was his life. A reason to live. She wiped his tears and hugged him tightly. He felt relaxed. They glanced at the little girl. She looked peaceful in her sleep. Tara pulled him closer and hugged him tightly untill they slept off in each others arms. 
*
 
Jennifer unable to make peace with sleep, tossed and turned in bed. Then giving up, she sat up. Passing her hand over her stomach, she felt the years coming back to her cursing her for abandoning her child. How cold was she? How could she do it? Was her heart dead? All the rational and circumstances then looked sham now and she just felt drenched in guilt. Does she have the courage to meet the child? Does she have the answer that the child will ask? Thousand Questions! Thousand curses! She might have been stone then but if so the stone was now melting. It was late but not too late. Was it? She has to meet Roohi. She has too. Passing her hand over her womb, thinking of the child she gave away, she closed her eyes and whispered, Just five days to go’.
 
*
 
He was standing by the door for the past fifteen minutes but could not make up his mind. Then he heard footsteps above. If he doesn’t act, one might mistake him for threat. He took a step and rang the bell. As he had expected, the man opened the door. ‘Yes’, he said. ‘Uh?’, Cyrus stammered. ‘Yea..hi.. I am Cyrus. Uh….actually I wanted to talk to you. About…about…uh…’, no matter how much he had prepared he saw himself weakening. His legs were giving up and he thought he might fall down. But thankfully they were still holding up his body, but his mind might fall to pieces anytime now. Then suddenly he heard the voice. ‘Papa, papa’, came running the small girl. In the frill frock. With two pony tales. Roohi….his lips synced the name but ..’Yes, How can I help you?’ the voice brought Cyrus back to reality.
 
When he looked up, a woman, probably his wife, was beside the man. Both looked puzzled and waiting for an answer. ‘Uh?...I am sorry’, Cyrus mumbled and fled. That night his mind was a whirlwind. Years had passed. But he was still the same chicken. Wary of commitments. And how much he hated himself for it.
 
Continued here 

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.
 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Calcutta Chromosome, a book review

I am a big fan of Amitav Ghosh and if there is any reason for being so drawn to reading, maximum part of the credit goes to him. My first read from his books was 'The Glass Palace', I was so drenched in his writing that I wished the book could just never finish. I read it slowly, feeling and reeling every word written. Most of his work emphasizes on people and history. He has a magical way of bringing the history to you that you can vouch for seeing the whole trade firsthand.

The book 'The Calcutta Chromosome' is a variation from his work. It is an attempt in futuristic science, a mix of mystery, history and science. It has received mixed review on Goodreads, with both kinds, praises and criticism. And as I complete reading it today, I think I understand the arguments in both parties.

The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery
From Victorian lndia to near-future New York, The Calcutta Chromosome takes readers on a wondrous journey through time as a computer programmer trapped in a mind-numbing job hits upon a curious item that will forever change his life. When Antar discovers the battered I.D. card of a long-lost acquaintance, he is suddenly drawn into a spellbinding adventure across centuries and around the globe, into the strange life of L. Murugan, a man obsessed with the medical history of malaria, and into a magnificently complex world where conspiracy hangs in the air like mosquitoes on a summer night.

The book draws you into the story right from the beginning. It educates you with the history (it is part fiction except for the multiple characters, rather scientist and the dates) of Malaria and it's cure. The story is such that it demands that the author has to take us through the future and the past, urging us to pick the clues and to understand the mystery. With moving back and forth in time and multiple characters with their own stories, the plot thus gets complicated and at times you find yourself scratching your head. But by the end of the story you put one and one together and the mystery is solved, except that some (who are in the critics side) are not satisfied. The issue is that the ending seems a bit far fetched. My argument here is that, since it is a science fiction, why do we need an ending that is meaningful to our current intelligence. Let it go beyond our understanding.

The book frequently brings forward philosophical ideas of Silence and Experimentation. Though we believe that we understand the the idea of experimentation and experimenter presented in the book, I am sure there is more to understand the real meaning behind the metaphor and the direct expression. The author has rather kept it open for the reader to interpret it. Overall I think The Calcutta Chromosome is more than just a science fiction, and I am obliged to give 31/2 stars.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Shackles

Those eyes that look at me
They hold me ransom
Unlocked but still not free
Clawing my body and soul

I wake up frightened
If it's you by the door
I stay mum looking calm
Eyes stuck to the floor
 
Inside its shrieking hum
Red stains and cuts I hide
But they are thrilling
Like a hungry tide
 
It's not good they tell me
There are places beautiful
For once I should set free
Run. I run as fast I can
 
But it's just inevitable
I am in his arms again
Is it him or is it me
The mind can't free
From this enticing captivity

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

East Himalayan ‘Dream’ trip

One of my dreams is to travel all the beautiful places in Himalayas. I got the pleasure to visit Shimla, Kullu & Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh. All of these completely beautiful. With Himalayas stretching over as many as five countries, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Pakistan, I wonder will that take a lifetime?

I love the mountains, specially The Himalayas, however contrary it may sound, but I love to plan the itinerary. So when Skyscanner in collaboration with Blogadda came up with this amusing contest of planning a trip with a kitty of Rs. 1 lakh, I jumped at the prospect. Even though it would be just an itinerary with an imaginary trip, it sounded so tempting.

If I have this credit of Rs. 1 lakh, I would take a step towards my Travel Himalaya dream. My plan would be to travel part of Eastern Himalaya. That is travelling to Nepal & Sikkim starting from Sikkim.

The itinerary will look like following -

Day
Date Cost/day Description Hotel Description
1 04-11-2015 Rs. 3,043 Mumbai to Bagdogra Flight    
2 04-11-2015 Rs. 3,000 Bagdogra to Gangtok Helicopter    
3 04-11-2015 Rs. 3,000 Travel Gangtok to Singhik Rs. 2,000 Singhik Tourist Lodge
4 04-12-2015 Rs. 3,000 Visit Gurudongmar lake & return to Singhik Rs. 2,000 Singhik Tourist Lodge
5 04-13-2015 Rs. 3,000 Return to Gangtok Rs. 3,600 Netuk House Gangtok
6 04-14-2015 Rs. 3,000 Gangtok to Ravangla Rs. 1,800 Queens Regency
7 04-15-2015 Rs. 3,000 Ravangla to Pelling / Yuksom / Uttarey Rs. 1,000 hotel garuda
8 04-16-2015 Rs. 3,000 Uttarey to Gangtok Rs. 3,600 Netuk House Gangtok
9 04-17-2015 Rs. 3,000 Gangtok to Bagdogra by Helicopter     
10 04-17-2015 Rs. 3,905 Fly to Katmandu. Visit Patan Rs. 2,900 Marcopolo
11 04-18-2015 Rs. 7,200 Fly to Pokhara by Buddha Air Rs. 800 Hotel Diplomat
12 04-19-2015 Rs. 5,088 Fly to Pomsom to Muktinath Rs. 1,000  
13 04-19-2015 Rs. 5,088 Muktinath to Pokhara Rs. 800 Hotel Diplomat
15 04-20-2015 Rs. 7,200 Pokhara to Katmandu Rs. 2,900 Marcopolo
16 04-21-2015 Rs. 7,380 Katmandu. Enjoy Mountain flight Rs. 2,900 Marcopolo
17 04-23-2015 Rs. 10,257 Return to Mumbai    
    Rs. 73,161   Rs. 25,300 Total: Rs. 98, 461.

The deal was to plan for trip of Rs 1 lakh. I have it in Rs.98,461. A little change in the pocket wouldn’t sounds bad.  

Now the above itinerary may look simple and plain, let me assure you that it took days and lots and lots of effort. Visiting forums, wikitravel, took lot of my mind peace. In the chaos, simplest was to plan the transport and hotel bookings which took 10% of the entire effort. Thanks to Skyscanner. The Itinerary now completed, I am happy with outcome. I hope it would turn to a real trip some day.

I am tempted to give some of the highlights of the trip :-

Bagdogra to Gangtok helicopter service: Fly from Bagdogra, West Bengal to Gangtok in just 30 minutes and guess what, fly in helicopter. Now I have never been into a helicopter (I bet most of us haven't) and with such a terrific start, the trip cannot be better.

 

Singhik:                                                     

Catch beautiful view of ever beautiful Kanchenjunga mountain range.   A small and picturesque hamlet, Singhik is located around four kms away from Mangan. The popular Singhik View Point offers the most magnificent view of Mt. Khangchenjunga & Mt. Siniolchu . Surrounded by lush green hills, with the Teesta River flowing below it. With the surrounding pitchursque mountain ranges, I bet the sunrise and sunset will be a lifetime experience.

 

Gurudonmar lake: 

Situated at a height of 17,800 feet, it is a fresh-water lake is located northeast of the Kangchenjunga range in a high plateau area connected with the Tibetan Plateau.

It is considered one the most sacred lakes by the Buddhists and Hindus alike.

The beautiful and awe inspiring lake (190 kms from Gangtok) remains milky in colour throughout the year.

 

Ravangla:

Ravngla is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Sikkim. At an altitude of 7000 ft, located on a ridge between Maenam and Tendong Hill, Ravangla offers unmatched views of the Greater Himalayas.

Ralang Monastery, a Buddhist monastery of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is located six kilometres from Ravangla. Ravangla attracts a lot of Himlayan birds and is a bird watcher's paradise.

 

 

Pokhara:

Pokhara is the starting point for most of the treks in the Annapurna area.

One of Nepal's most beautiful spots, Phewa Tal is surrounded by a combination of monkey-filled forests and the high white peaks. The reflections in the mirror-like water in the early mornings are something you must see at least once before you die. Hire a boat and row yourself across the lake (or hire a local to do it for you - there are some fine times to be had on this lake, even in the middle of the night!)

 

Patan, Katmandu:

Patan is also known as Manigal. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.

The city was initially designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness). The four thurs or mounds on the perimeter of Patan are ascribed around, one at each corner of its cardinal points, which are popularly known as Asoka Stupas.

The most important monument of the city is Patan Durbar Square, which has been listed by UNESCO as one of seven Monument Zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site.

 

Katmandu Mountain flight:

And the most amazing experience would be the Mountain flight. The captain will fly you at eye level for the perfect viewing experience. Everyone gets their very own window seat.

The plane visits all the nine major peaks that every Himalayan trekker better be able to pronounce, within the span of a Nepali hour.

   

Well, above were just few of the gems of the trip. As I waded through the photos and forums, sometimes mesmerising and sometimes overwhelming, planning an itinerary was getting tougher. More than deciding the destinations, the selection of Hotels and travel routes & flights can be very consuming. But a perfect companion to me in helping in this bigger task was Skyscanner.

imageI am not being biased here but what I liked in Skyscanner was the response time of the query. It is much faster than most of the sites that I am used to.

Also one major plus with this site is that there are no multiple popups or screens opening on your laptop when you enter your search which is so very irritating.

 

image

The user interface is very easy and helped me in planning the flights and hotels very conveniently!

There are other options like car hire & buses on the site which I bet would also be very helpful and handy for travel.A hands-on on the site and you will find much of your interest and help.

Happy Travelling!


This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at BlogAdda.com