It was around 8.30 in the morning and the weather was rough. The local weather broadcasts told precisely that it’s not going to rain for the next 48 hours which gave me a little hope that I could start on my tri-marathon anytime in next 10min.The heavy downpour was ceasing to be a drizzle. I didn’t want to take chances though I was tempted to finish it with a sprint if I were to go by bike. As soon as I started walking towards the bus stop; I reached for my apple headsets and plugged it in my ears. Though my fate has made me an engineer I feel as if I were a doctor as soon as I insert the elegant white stethoscope, for I could clearly feel my heart beat in sync with the music extricating all the ties with the mundane affairs.
With ARR screaming into my ears in his melancholic wail someone interrupted.”Mom Calling” I attended the call as I kept walking.
“Enna da!!Getting ready to office? Had breakfast?”
“No ma!!It’s already late. I’ll have it at office. Btw…did you call me to ask this?”
“Why shouldn’t I...am your mom…Remember? Anyways dad wanted to know if you are coming home this weekend. We are planning to visit our native and perform some rituals at the temple.”
After a pause
“Hmm...No ma...I have weekend MBA classes..…I can’t skip.”I lied
I had already voted to attend another important ritual, our project party at Barbeque Nation.
“You and your work!! God knows when you’ll have leave. OK. Let me tell dad to make the arrangements for next week. Hope this is fine with you?”
“Ya ok” I said though I wasn’t sure what might come up then.
After the cursory inquiries, and weekly status updates I cut the call.ARR held his breath and resumed from where he left “oh yuva yuva oh yuva.”
One of the rare anomalies where ARR sings about Yuvan I thought as I patted myself for the PJ.
By then I had reached the Chrompet bus stand and I was hoping to get a through bus to Mcity.
I was loitering around the pavement where amidst the crowd there was a huge vacant space. I looked down and saw an old man collapsed on the road wearing only a torn shirt and his dhoti was strewn by his side belying its sole purpose and there he laid helpless, half-naked, shivering with fruit flies flocking his pussy legs.
ARR now suggested or rather insisted”Ezhaikkum vazhvukkum irukkindra idaiveli kuraithu” (Eradicate poverty)
So I did, self-righteously fished out the loose change in my pocket and carefully dropped it on the small stack of coins littered near the man’s outstretched hands.
He didn’t look up. May be he thought it wasn’t enough? May be people mistook him for a beggar. Almost everyone who passed by stopped a second to look at him –some pitied, some shocked, some did the same I did.
But one street vendor came right to him, took the dhoti and covered his crotch, picked all the coins and dropped it in the man’s pocket, wrapped his body with the shabby towel behind him and asked if he could cross the road for him.
The man nodded in the affirmative and so he held him by the armpits and lifted him and the man somehow managed to hold his dhoti round his waist and started walking.
There was an insurance agent, dressed in formals, with a file containing rate slabs and policy details. He went to one person at a time, held the transparent file in front of them and earnestly tried to explain the coverage. No one ever budged. I marveled the conviction with which he was shouting in to deaf ears. But ideally the most likely candidate to be without insurance was walking away. I believed he is not insane to go and hold the file in front of him.
I could see the crowd hustle along as they saw a bus coming. Thank God!!It was a 500B .The bus came in the shed and stopped a few paces away from me. The mob thronged the footboard and I was lucky enough to squeeze my way past them to land a foot near the conductor seat. My other foot was caught in the stampede; someone was squirming behind me to move inside and in the process kept pushing my bag along.
Before I could even react the other person’s waist belt towed my headset with a snatch pulled it out of my left ear. I held it just in time and released it from the belt. The man didn’t even bother to notice. I cursed him as I slid my bag and politely gestured the boy sitting right in front of the conductor’s seat if he could keep it safe. He glared at my tag, nodded and took it. A couple of times he checked if I were the same person as in the ID card and then looked straight. He dodged a couple of times as if he was going to get down. But he eventually ended up doing the obvious, leaned on my bag and slept.
I stuck out a 50rs note to the conductor, carefully over the shoulder of a middle aged lady who eclipsed me from the conductor.”1 Mahindra City” I told. He gave me two tickets as they are yet to roll out the new tickets since 1811 BC (Bus fare change effective from 18 Nov 2011) and the change.
As a result of being inundated from all sides I didn't notice that “Endrendrum Punnagai” song, one of all time favorites was halfway through. The voice was feeble only when I realized that I was listening with only one earpiece as the left earpiece was hanging loose swaying as if crying out for rescue. When I resurrected it back in my left ear the audio was still feeble. On close examination I found that the ear piece was broken, barely alive with the last rung of copper wires intact.”Congrats!! One more headset gone! Last time it happened when I was cycling in the gym” I recollected.
Good things come with a price, agreed. But no matter how careful I am to make sure that they don’t coil apple headsets are less immune when it comes to rugged usage. I wanted to catch hold of that guy and blast him. But again it was my choice to start late and end up travelling in a crowded bus. I had no one else to blame except me.
Considering the crescendo in MTC bus fares I thought people preferred the electric train aisle better than that of an MTC bus since I thought it was economic as well as ergonomic .You will never be short of such Monday blues either if you are one of those office goers or a stock trader. My mid-semester dissertation on ‘Metropolitan modes of transport’ went nose diving. Now I knew what they really meant by distance education –it is the distance between your chosen universities private curriculum and the general public opinion.
I was indeed overwhelmed by the valiant effort of the amputated ear-phone still trying to placate me with an evergreen number “Endrendrum Punnagai”.
The first thing I’ll do after reaching office, I will post this in BB to know how the other apple users confront this predicament.
As the bus meandered into the Tambaram railway stop, the boy got up to get down. I gave him a petitionery look as if to ask him to drop my bag there and quasi-elect me to his throne. He didn't mind and I was happy for that I could read till I reach mcity.
I pulled the hot cake of this quarter out-Revolution 2020.I was rereading it, skimming through just for pleasure of reading some punch lines. Every page had one or two like cashew and raisin in a laddu. When I started reading from where I left I came across another.
“Love, officially is, a b**ch”
I kept fiddling with my left earphone as I was intrigued to see it working whenever I held it in some random angle.
“Why this kolaveri, kolaveli, kolaveri di”, the momentary coming into life of my earphone gave an additional DJ effect to the already rage of the world.
Something bizarre struck me. Is it the genius of Steve Jobs that he created some logic to map my mind and shuffle songs based on my mood?
Or it is one of those ironic idiosyncrasies that I could connect the dots between chetan bhagat’s words and kola veri, I didn’t know. But there was one thing common among all the three involved Steve jobs, chetan bhagat’s and Dhanush in due respect to each other’s field and their accomplishments-it is their street smartness.
They grabbed the ladle from the hands of purists in their respective fields for the good of millions of Oliver Twists worldwide, pleading for some more gruel. It is that indigenous flavor that has made their products go viral with the audience. The spirit of their innovation is contagious. Such talents are not necessarily congenital but it would only be apt to say that the environment was congenial. The same bug that bit them bit so many people immaterial of demography, geography. But with a strong dose of vaccination, in the form of so called professional education we have successfully curbed such instincts from affecting the central nervous system and our ancestors made sure that the progeny is completely impaired of such traits. Exceptions like these people always became example, a rare specimen.
I feel I could write something like CB or a crazy lyric like kola veri. The formula and the ingredients, it’s an open source. Just like anyone who has the knack for it could develop apps for apple. May be I should give it a try. Will I have my Eureka moment in this bus. What is that one kick-ass idea that would catapult me directly from an nth level tertiary node (employee) to a root node (employer or entrepreneur) without having to percolate through the congested tree traversal paths? The very thought of being successful, doing something I really love felt like heaven.
The bus had now reached perungulathur.I didn’t have to look out to say that because the bus ricocheted to swerve through the service lanes. There was a pandemonium caused by a lorry that had toppled over the median .People had parked their vehicles by the roadside out of curiosity rather than courtesy making it challenging for the ambulance to reach the spot.
“What the hell man!!!Am gonna be late at least by half an hour to reach. I was really worried”
Some SRM kids bumped into the bus seizing the opportunity to board the bus. One thought he was really cool. It showed in the way he carried himself within an anti-fit jean, pepe Jeanne tee, unkempt, long hair, a probably diamond ear-stud. His perfume told he was stinking rich. But it was something else that caught my attention- a new pair of apple headset.
He noticed me noticing him and the same accessory caught his attention. He raised his brows as if to say
“Dude!!We are cool to afford high-end gadgets and be as tech savvy as you are, still at college”
I was up to it in a flash. For one moment I stopped fiddling with my headset and raised the volume with the remote in my right earpiece in kolaveri, just to earmark what his headset was missing-remote and mic. He turned away and I felt emphatic.
The bus was ambling towards Urapakkam, when I noticed that the man sitting beside me was tapping his feet as I was looking down to read. My initial impression was that he was eavesdropping. Slowly I could feel his thigh pressed against mine tightly. I felt really embarrassed. Is it my predominantly pink shirt that made him send such vibes thinking that I am his kind? This time he became even more deliberate when he struck his hand in front of the book. I didn’t have a choice. I mustered enough courage and looked up gingerly. He was asking something pointing at my left hand.
I told its 9.15.He shook his head and got up. It is only then I realized that all this time he was trying to ask if the next stop was Urapakkam and he was trying to get down. I laughed out heartily within myself and moved to my favorite, window seat.
The Habiterra apartment stood out like house made of huge chunks of Mango, vennila, chocolate and orange ice-cream bars. The mynas sitting on the 4 lined telephone wires mounted on high lampposts looked like freehand choir notes. The branches of the trees looked unkempt, like that SRM kid. A crow was flying past the skeleton of an advertisement hoarding which looked like grids on an SLR viewfinder. I winked my eyes to capture it at the exact spot as per the law of thirds. Perfect panning shot, I told myself. The signal lights going from red, orange and green looked like 3 flavors of strepsils in a single strip. It seems the same bug has bit me. The symptoms are positive, diagnosed the doctor inside me.
The rhythmic motion of the bus, the continuous chattering in my mind and the soothing lullaby of Illayaraja put me in to a choreographed trance as I leant on the window pane.
What seemed like 2 minutes was actually 20.It was actually the reverse of what I saw in the movie, Inception-a few seconds of reality is a few hours in a dream. But I was careful about the choice of my totem, 500B bus. The last stop is always Mcity and the conductor was probably tired or better things to do than to frown at me. He shook me once and got down for his break without even looking at me.
When I got down from the bus, the escorts revved up their autos. The custom was a little different here, only diff being the real escorts hold placards and here I wore an infy tag. I chose the one that was first in the queue, about to start with a potential co-passenger already on-board. But before I could even propose to share the fare, that autowala whirred past me. I was getting used to this kind of controlled communism exhibited by these autowala who grunted when some employees chose to share autos, the caterers and small street vendors outside who chose that its below our dignity to ask for balance in loose change, a rupee or two here and there. Fair enough I thought. After all this the last phase of my tri-marathon that started at chrompet. I flipped a few more pages like the last few puffs of my fag before I reached the Infy gate. I picked my bag, cut the auto and entered the bag check arena. The metal detector beep sharply intersected the song that was playing.
“Pirai thedum ulagile uyire,edhai thedi alaigirai”
Is this some kind of a legend, does this imply anything? The bug’s sting was taking effect. If I were the protagonist of a kollywood flick (like Mayakkam Enna) the story would have ended in the bus when I took a notepad and pen and wrote down what I was thinking, the title cards rolling besides. If I were the titular character in some best-seller book I would have called the day’s journey as my Eureka moment. Thank God!!I was vaccinated which helped me override the worked-up diagnostician in me. I should take my stethoscope to iStore and see if I could get it mended. If not I will buy a sennheiser next time echo the engineer in me. I checked my watch-today’s lap timed a little over the average, I analyzed as I walked in to B5 lobby. Oblivious of the noises of the outside world that looked like hell, nonchalant of the voices inside that was my sign-board to heaven yet content with the purgatory which like many others walking besides me thought what we were destined to. Out of a random glance I could spot many roaming around with the same white steth. We all would form a brotherhood, I thought. There are so many other such brotherhoods, a circle drawn with a fetish at its loci- a Samsung galaxy, a macbook, a BMW, a trip to an exotic location. They are the apple of our eye.
I was amazed to see how old adages, still holds good, time tested and mirrors things as they are as this one.
“An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”
PS: This post was written commemorating my last day with s/w industry Dec 31,2011.