Thursday, August 31, 2006

Experiencing Muscat the Arun Sharma way

On Saturday, I get a call from Arun. After pretending to be mad at me for not keeping in touch, he tells me to be free at 5 pm on Monday. No explanations. Nothing.

Rest of Saturday… no news from him.
Whole of Sunday… no news from him.
Monday morning… no news from him.
Monday afternoon… an SMS. “I hope you remember we’re meeting up today. Be ready at 5 exact!”

And he was here on the dot! (Some Indians know to keep their time, man.) He asks me where I want to go. (The way he’d called me 2 days in advance booking this evening, I thought he might have made some great plans himself!!!) But anyway, we drove off to the famous Starbucks across the Intercon-beach, where we met up with Paluck and Nikesh. (Long hair is IN, eh?!?)

There, while Paluck and Arun were having a very interesting conversation about which feature of which model of which brand of which car is better, I got up to take a few pictures. In the process, I bumped into Akshaya’s parents. Well, not really bumped into them. They were taking a walk across the street on the pavement, and I shamelessly screamed “Uncle, uncle!” at the top of my voice, in the event having all uncles turn to look at me (and some non-uncles even). Luckily, Akshu’s dad also happened to be one of them, and I’m having a conversation over 2 lanes of cars confirming that they’re Akshu’s parents. But as always, they were kind enough to cross over and have a normal, decent-decibelled conversation with me. We chatted a while, and by then Paluck and Arun were done with their work. So, Paluck and Nikesh went their way, and we went ours.

It was back to the same question – so where do I want to go? I didn’t know. So, Arun asked me, “High or low???” I chose high. (Obviously everyone chooses “high”!) A couple of minutes later, I’m atop some rocky formation, where the only thing between me and a horrendous death into the sea below is my clumsy feet. And maybe Arun’s presence of mind. Both not very encouraging! So, we sit down, and I’m very aware of the hard rock poking into my butt (it’s probably an S&M method in SOME part of the world!) But the location was perfect. You could see the sea for miles, and there was hardly anyone in that place. Just a lone fisherman and a bunch of 4 Omani females, luckily far away from earshot. So, the place was pretty much all to ourselves.

In a time when people are too busy to make time to meet up even in groups, I had the most amazing one on one conversation with Arun. (All credit goes to him though, because he fixed the day, the time and did it in advance so that I had no excuse up my sleeve!) And even more amazing was the fact that I didn’t know that I needed to have that talk so bad, but in some weird way, he knew.

When I go back to school days, I remember the image surrounding him. He didn’t really have a problem with anyone but somehow everyone had a problem with him. Not in an explicit way, but it was understood that this guy is whacko. That was the impression and everyone believed it before they even got to know him. I can frankly say that I never have opinions about anyone unless I make them myself, so to me he was just another classmate. We weren’t the best of friends, but we were civil with each other, and sometimes even nice to each other. During Computer Science periods, he was always telling me what songs to hear!

Last year, when I came down in December, I met him again. But there was something clearly different about him that time. At least, to me there was. At that time, he took Bishen, (was it Nikesh?) and me to another mountainous location. It’s supposed to be a top-secret spot of some sort. I wouldn’t know to spill the beans anyways, because all mountains look the same to me. That spot was absolutely deserted. It was just the four of us and the silence of the night. Of course, it’s never really silent when Bishen is around. It was pretty late in the evening, so you could literally see NOTHING when the car lights were switched off. Also, since there are no signs of life except for a lone car or two that drives by, you get a feeling of being the last survivors on the planet. Even cell phones don’t get signal there. I suggest you don’t ever go there with your ex-bf\gf whom you cheated on. No matter how friendly the invitation seems! ;)

This time, it was just the 2 of us, and it wasn’t as late. But there was a moonbeam falling onto the water in front of us, and it looked like the stars had been transferred into the sea. I don’t know if the fisherman caught any fish, or if the girls had fun, but I had the most wonderful conversation with Arun. There is so much sense in that guy that I was really taken aback. He knew exactly the right things to say and had the perfect answers to so many questions I threw at him. A lot of things that I had never expressed to anyone to this day, I was speaking out to him. And through the course of the evening, I also learnt a lot about him.

Whether or not he shows it to others, Arun truly has a heart of gold. If he cares about someone, he truly cares about them. And he’s a very genuine person. He has no airs about himself. He is also really really mature. It was such a pleasure that I got to see this side of him. I never really got to know him before, but in 2 hours I knew so much. (In fact, while in the car, he turned up the volume when the FM played UB40’s “I can’t help falling in love”. A billion points just for that!!!!) I just didn’t want the evening to end, and if I didn’t have to get home, I could have spoken to him forever. But even as he dropped me off (at home, not off the cliff!!), I felt relieved, and more importantly, reassured.

Sometimes someone you hardly expect to make a difference to your existence walks into your life at the perfect time and gives you perspective on so many things. I wouldn’t have thought in a million years that person for me would be Arun Sharma of all people. But I can’t be gladder that it’s him.

For all those of you, who come down to Muscat during your breaks, try to meet up with him. Bowling, sheesha, eating out are all fun ways to spend time with friends, but you must definitely experience Muscat the Arun Sharma way. There are some simply gorgeous places in Muscat that he can take you to (as in right in the city, not far away). There’s nothing like the scenic settings of natural beauty to make you realize important things. I sure had my personal moment of truth – someone truly cares!

Thanks, Arun, from the bottom of my heart. In a million years I wouldn’t be able to express how grateful I am for that evening.

P.S. – Guys, if he doesn’t want to take you around though, then deal with it. Not all people are special like me ;)

P.P.S. – Sorry Arun, if you find this embarrassing\humiliating. It probably goes against a lot of things you told me! But I just had to put it down in words. And tell the whole world too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bengaluru Part II

We had visitors to Bengaluru for the second weekend running. And yes we managed to have a wonderful time as usual. Sadly I could not get too many pics clicked chiefly because I had run out of batteries.

G2G Central this time around was Amoeba-"the leisure place". I did not make it up, it is their punchline! Who all were there? Firstly the evening was in honor of two of our friends visiting from Chennai, Harish and Reshmi. Others present were Nirmal and Sathya who are both working in Bangalore and of course the most jobless person in Bangalore currently, yours truly.

We also had among us Megha, who was one year junior to us in School and who is currently studying in Manipal. We were actually a pretty huge gang which also included Riju, Harish's friend from IIT-M currently in B'lore and Karthik and Vijay, reshmi's friends who are currently in B'lore. So it was a great big gang which rocked Amoeba that day.

As usual a lot of the losers were late. Only four of us actually bowled, Harish, Nirmal, Riju and me. It was a lot of fun bowling with my right hand again(Ms. V would know what I am referring to!) but I was mighty disappointed with my score. I should have actually stuck to Left-handed bowling and maybe then I could have beaten Harish. But the calculating genius topped the charts but not without a great comebacks by Nirmal and Me towards the end. The daytonna races were a lot more fun esp. since I kicked ass, big time! And both times starting from last. I know Nirmal was a little shocked but it's okay pal, better luck next time.

Amoeba also has a hang-out like place with huge screens on which they play F1 races as well. Incidently we managed to watch the Turkish Grand Prix as well. So for all you guys out there who want to go on a date and still not miss out on the race, this is definitely a place to go.

From left: Sathya, Harish, Megha, Karthik(Reshmi's friend) and Reshmi Camera Shy: Nirmal, Riju, Vijay and Me(I was clicking!)

It was great catching up with Reshmi after so long. We couldn't talk all that much cos the music plays too loudly in this place. She had to push off early because of her train to Chennai the same night. We had to let go of Megha as well cos she had to meet someone else. It was her birthday the next day and I am sure she had a wonderful time then. Happy B'day Megha.

The rest of us went to Shangri-La and had a wonderful dinner. We recalled all the wonderful times that we had at ISM, Harish's amazing escapades and some of Nirmal's as well. A lot of gossip was exchanged, a lot of people were shocked, many people were remembered and lots of laughs were had chiefly at the expense of Harish. But I would not want to embarrass him here, so I will shut up now.

I used to enjoy the summer congregations in Muscat where everyone would come down from his/her college(this was after we passed out from ISM), there would be phone calls everywhere, we would meet up at some place, go bowling and then eat at some place and chat up. Well this felt somewhat like that. Except that sleepy Muscat was replaced by crowded Bangalore(we had to wait 45 mins just to get a bowling lane!!!). But it was great fun all around and good to know that Chennai is not very far away and that I am definitely going there soon.

Friday, August 25, 2006

When we were together in June '06...

My first photography exhibition.....and having so many school friends visiting it-- i do consider myself lucky!! was great actualy! cool n calm Sid, smart n trendy Neeti, smiley Farah, always cool gal Hinal, and the hyper active Bhavna!!

...other people from our batch who did visit my exhib and are not a part of this pic were Pd(who recorded the entire inauguration thing), Nitin(who managed to get some time out for my exhib from his busy exam study), Neha Ved(who was of gr8 help with the preparations of the exhib) and Naseeban(who helped me with the photo titles and visited the exhib on all 3 days =) )...I hope Ive not missed out on any names!!

..most of them were not aware of my interest in photography..quite obvious though, as I got into this field after getting into college...

...overall the exhib was gr8! But the small reunion tht happened in the hall was even better.. watchin the entire exhib mustve have taken them about 20 mins...but catching up with everyone took a looong time!

date- 06-06-'06.....was a special day =)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Greetings from Bengaluru

Date: 19th August 2005.

Day: Saturday

Time: 4:25 p.m.

Place: In front of Barrista on M.G.Road

The meeting was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. but I got there early in order to spot some nice chicks because apparently they are supposed to be plenty on M.G.Road. But all my birdwatching dreams went down the drain because Vidya was already there, even earlier than me. My chances were seriously numbered. C'mon, none of the chicks would give you even a sideways glance if you are already chatting up someone else. But I was more than happy to see her. It's been more than 6 years since the last time I saw her. And what wonders growing up does! She looks completed different now and the only reason I recognized her is because of her pics on orkut.

Moving on, while we were waiting I thought I saw Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon walking towards us but I was really not sure. She had two old firangi men also in tow so I was really confused. Didn't even manage to say a Hi. Guess that will have to wait for the future.

Anyways next arrival was Anirudh. The official bad boy of 12 A is how I remember him. Anyways just as he goes of to park his bike, the chief guest of the day, Ms Akshaya Murali of Microsoft fame arrives. Guys, she looks terrific as always. After the usual round of hugging and hieeeeeeeeeees(girls tend to over-pronounce and extend such greetings), we decide to push off to Ruby Tuesday. Chiefly because they have a Happy hours offer on all beverages. It was a hot afternoon and we could do with some chilled beer. Akshaya had a breezer flavored with Raspberry I think(Yuck!) and Vidya didn't have anything cos it was some kinda religious week going on. What we had to eat is not important cos it was not much and it was passable.

What struck me most about our conversation was the spontaneity. It did not at all feel like 6 years since I had met all of them. Conversation just kept flowing. I was expecting some awkward pauses and stilled silences where no one knew what to say. But I was in for a surprise. We had such a wonderful time. We talked about Akshu's laptop gifted to her by MS with 2GB of RAM but it runs slow if there is no CorpNet.(don't ask what that means. According to me it was a crappy lappy.hey that rhymes!). Ani talked about the wonderful time that he had in Pune with all his friends and recollected the accident he had in his Dad's merc back in Muscat( I didn't know bout that one). We also came to know that Akshu actually shook hands with Bill Uncle.(pretty neat I must say). And then of course we talked about everyone's social life or the lack of it( in my case). Vidya who has been in Bangalore was the perfect tour guide. Damn the woman knew every place that we threw at her. I guess she's knows the whole of Bangalore like the back of her palm. In her 6 years I must say that is pretty impressive. I didn't get to see her scooty though, I wanted to check out the shade of pink that it was.

thats Ani and Akshu

thats vidya and me. see what a wonderful time we were having!

After what seemed like ages of chatting up, akshu's college friends arrived, we got shifted to a new table but the beer just kept flowing and the sutta boxes just kept getting empty. Anyways we left the place as soon as the Happy Hours ended to find grub and then head back to Ani's place for some more beers. Akshu and me being the 'Shakahari" types had to settle for a rotten Chana burger at KFC(never ever have it guys) while the others had Zingers, legs, wings and whatnot. Athyachaar I say. PETA listening!!!

Ani has just moved into his 1BHK in B'lore and all of us stormed in after getting thoroughly drenched in the rain( my bike had it's first feel of the rains of B'lore, poor thing, I blew dry it the next day). He has a very nice place and seems like I am going there every weekend. He didn't have a lot of furniture around and so we made ourselves comfy on his bed and waited till the rain gods were satisfied. Akshu had work the next day(MS makes people work on Sunday, so SAD) so she had to get to her cousins house. Vidya had already left before the rains cos she had a deadline. Me and Ani being the absolutely jobless folks had nuthin much to do. So I crashed at his place for the night.

It was a really great time that we had and I owe it to every one of them. It felt like a homecoming of sorts and suddenly I was happy in Bangalore. I had found people I know.

P.S.: Akshaya is getting a Xbox 360 gifted to her by MS. She also gets heavy discounts on them. I have already booked mine and so has Ani. If any of you are interested, go ahead.

Update: Harish is supposed to be coming to Bangalore this weekend and I just discovered that Nirmal is also here only. So I am looking forward to a wonderful time next week too.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A visit to Shatti (Reminds you of our 5th std. essay days?)

So, I met up with a few last week. I’m sure they’re meeting up all the time, what with being guys and being absolutely vela. But with my oh-so-busy schedule, I could only make time to meet them once.

Shetty, along with Vicky, came to pick me up. The first thing Shetty tells me is that I’ve lost weight. “Aah, it’s going to be a great day”, I thought. I looked at Vicky and immediately got an inferiority complex. He has longer hair than me!!!! Anyway, after surviving a few of their PJs (which almost killed me), and Shetty’s MP3 collection (which was incidentally still stuck in the year 1942), we picked up Bishen from the Indian Social Club.

From there, it was a LONG ride to Shatti Plaza (where I’ve never been to before) amidst Bishen’s “chutter-puttar” (as Shetty calls it), Shetty’s crazy laughter and Vicky’s imitation of very nasal-sounding songs.

We reach Shatti where we’re to meet up with Sharma (Arun). We open the car doors, only to be welcomed by the stink of fish rotting somewhere! Shetty is almost gagging and Vicky’s not too pleased either while Bishen tries to remind them that we are next to the sea. Smart! All my hopes of actually seeing the inside of the Plaza were crushed when we walked to the opposite building and stood outside a shady-looking place. After a few furtive glances between the three of them, it is decided that Vicky would make the bold move of bringing Sharma out.

It turns out that Sharma is quite distressed about a number written on his shorts, right in the area of the crotch. 52041, I think! It didn’t help his situation that Bishen was the first one to notice it!!! (We still love you, Bishen!) And he was also armed with a reason, “It’s the tailor, I’m telling you!” Sharma claims that he feels like he’s out of some mass production factory and everyone laughs, and luckily that’s the end of that weird scene.

Then, 2 shady-looking guys come out of the afore-mentioned shady-looking place, and it’s no surprise that they are friends of these four. As the taller of the two stops to chat (why are guys so bloody tall these days?), Arun suggests that we take a stroll. So, Bishen, Arun and I walk off, and are hardly gone a few steps when who do we bump into? None other than Ravi Kiran, sucking away to glory on a hookah. He’s accompanied by another tall guy (cute though), both working on something on a laptop. RK’s ballooned up quite a bit since I last saw him. (The rest of them are just the same, except for Vicky’s hair.)

All of us sit down at that road-side hookah place, all plans for a stroll being squashed. There are innumerous conversations going on at the same time. Sometimes Bishen talks to me while RK talks to Shetty while Vicky talks to Arun, when Arun talks to me and Bishen talks to tall guy and Vicky joins RK’s and Shetty’s discussion. All that I gathered from that 30-45 minutes is that some dude is getting a pretty good starting salary to create an adult diaper, Malcolm does not go by the name Malcolm anymore, Bishen gets way too many calls, the laptop is not RK’s, and that Arun would rather be discussing something else because the conversation has now stopped onto a very intellectually stimulating debate on if Vicky should be called Kkrish 1.5 or Dhoom 2.5 (due to his long hair, of course).

It’s time to leave as Bishen and Vicky have got dinner plans at some shady Pakistani restaurant; too shady to take me along with them. “I get the message, guys! Hmph.” There’s a long discussion about who’s going to drop me back, and Shetty ends up taking all three of us. We say our goodbyes to Arun and split ways. After we brave the disgusting stench yet again, we successfully get into the car alive. Shetty then sprays the entire interior with his Playboy scent and we had to then deal with that smell!!!

I get dropped off to my place, and as I walk back home, I realize why old friends will always remain important to me. I may have been a mere spectator in those 2 hours I spent with them, but I will always remember those small precious moments that made that day special – be it Shetty’s ridiculously stupid jokes, Arun’s warm hug, or Bishen and Vicky’s shared vocal passion for all things Himesh (Reshammiya, of course)!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Welcome Speech from the Head Girl (2K2)

It’s been 4 years since we left ISM. Some of us think about school once in a while. Some of us have moved on. And some of us miss it every single freaking day. I fall into the 3rd category, which may be why I am creating this blog.

I think those of us, who left to the Far West or the Far East, are a little more attached to our ISM days. Those of you, who studied in India, or even in Oman, may have experienced the same kind of warmth and fun in college that we had back in school. But the rest of us may not have had it that easy. Or maybe I’m just a big sentimental fool. Whatever the reason, I’m creating this blog as another medium to keep in touch.

We all spend inane amounts of time online. And of course, there is Orkut. But some of us may have things to share; things that can’t be written in two or three lines of Orkut-scrap. In fact, quite a few of us actually blog. And if you really care, that’s a great way to get to know your friends. Do you know that Siddharth is in Bangalore, and is on his way to being promoted to “BikeLand”? Do you know that Alok is happily bullying the crap out of everyone in Malaysia? Dev, Abhijit, Vishal, Mukundh and I all own blogs – spaces where we write down our experiences, our thoughts, our lives.

Most people think blogging is a waste of time, or is for those people who are bored and have lots of time on their hands. But to me, blogging is actually a time for self-reflection. And if you don’t have 20 minutes a day, or even 20 minutes a week to spend with yourself, then that’s just too darn bad.

Anyway, all the bloggers from our batch that I know of will be linked to this blog, and will also be added as members. So, I’m not going to be the only one lecturing away to glory. If there are others, please leave me your links through the comments. I will gladly add you on.

In case this idea sticks around, then I shall revamp the blog. (I put quite a bit of effort into vamping my own blog!) If not, then I’ll just scrap (not the Orkut scrap, please!!!) this blog off.

And I truly hope Muks becomes a big part of it. After all, how many of us looked up the ISM field on Google Earth????? Even though he’s spent less time at ISM than many of us, his love for our dear school is quite extraordinary.

So, let's see if the blogging virus spreads or not. Either way, if you're reading this...

"Fellow ISMite, Welcome to the Blogosphere."

I’ll end with my poem which I’ve just edited a bit to fit the blog:

Hello guys and hello gals,
Hello strangers and hello pals,
Let’s get together and have a chat,
About our memories at ISM and stuff like that.

Be it pissing off teachers or bunking classes,
Group punishments or secret romances,
Or even gossiping to no end at zero period,
Or extending recess way into the sixth period.

Maybe now it’s about foreign lands,
Or suffering at a crappy boss’s hands,
Have you have found your perfect match?
Come share it with us at the blog of ISM 2K2 Batch!

Isn’t it amazing what words can do?!?!?