Sunday, December 17, 2006

Near Death Experience

It was a rainy day; they had predicted one of the biggest storms of the winter. I was enjoying with my friends Pallavi and Sai at places like beauty parlor and Starbucks. It was too cold outside. We were sipping hot coffee, enjoying rain and after chatting for 2/3 hours we decided to meet again in Christmas holidays. Pallavi and I dropped Sai at her place and then we two were in the car, Pallavi was driving.

It was her brand new car. We were heading towards an Indian restaurant. It was around 7pm and we decided to go by some other road as the one on which we were driving was jammed with traffic. So we took a left turn and decided to explore a new road.
Traffic was moving very slowly which gave us more 20 minutes to talk; yeah as if the entire afternoon was not enough.
We were discussing about how difficult it is to get a driving license in the US which is good as it reduces road accidents.

Then we stopped on a four way stop, waiting for our turn. And finally it was our turn, we were happy that now we were entering a traffic free zone ahead, both were really hungry, we started moving straight, I was sitting on the right hand side. I saw a van coming from the right side with a speed more than 50 miles/hour (speed limit was 30).
I saw that the van is coming very fast and I felt that it is not going to stop, I screamed and then I was quiet as if I was watching a movie. I had detached myself from everything. It felt as if it is happening to someone else.

We were already in the middle of the intersection. Pallavi saw this van and pressed hard on the brakes and I heard her screaming Oh my God, Oh my God!
And I was sitting there like a statue unmoving and without any expressions, feelings, shock, fear or anything. Seriously I had nothing in mind, now I wonder why… why I didn’t feel the fear of death/injury or anything.

After 1 minute I heard Pallavi screaming Rasika are you ok? Rasika are you ok, in that one minute I don’t remember what happened, where was I, what was I thinking. It was a hard hit we were thrown 10 feet ahead on the left hand side.
I saw the broken windows of our car and fumes from the engine. Air bags and seat belts had saved us.

I realized I am still alive, just one thought struck my mind ‘Life is short and you never know what is going to happen in next two minutes, so what exactly do I want to do with whatever time I have’, thinking about it I got down from the car and so did Pallavi.
Her car was smashed up real bad. Everything in the front side was broken. It was total. I looked behind to see who hit us.

I saw the van; it had hit a pole on the road. Its driver was still sitting in the car. It seemed he was relaxing there, smoking and enjoying the breeze with drops of rain.
I saw Pallavi going towards him; I thought she is going to slap him now. But, she went there and asked him “Are you fine?” and I was stunned with her question. Yeah, that truly taught me a lesson, a lesson of humanity.

Well he didn’t even bother to come out of his van. He was still smoking calmly.

Pallavi was calling her friends. While I was thinking to call 911, a lady came from behind and said “I am so happy to see you girls alive, I didn’t expect that you will make it. I have called the police and they will be here in a few minutes.” Yeah, this angel had come to help us. She had witnessed everything.

She had just completed her sentence and I heard police cars coming from a distance. I was startled to know that they respond so quickly (unlike police in Bollywood films). They arrived within 2 minutes or so with a group of paramedics who were there to deal with any kind of injuries.

After question/ answers and showing documents etc, we came to know that the man who hit us had no license and insurance! How can anyone do that and put others lives at risk…
He was put into jail. While being handcuffed, he still looked cool and unflustered ….
That reminded me of ‘Vyomkesh Bakshi’ (detective from one of the very famous detective series). He used to have the same serene look on his face throughout the episode, while he was solving the case or when the case was solved or then when he was in love.

On the next day I tried to forget about everything by watching movies, reading books and sleeping in the afternoon.
I had a dream while I was napping that someone has bumped into my car and my car is now in the air. I woke up terrified.

By God’s grace nobody had any major injury and both of us are slowly recovering from the concussions.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Chiu and I…

Chiu?? What kind of name is that?

Chiu (means Sparrow in English) is a nickname of my niece who is of same age as mine.

Now how is that possible? Ummmm She is my father’s eldest sister’s eldest granddaughter… phewww!

We were in the same school but different classes. She used to call me ‘AUNTY!!’ in school, whenever and wherever she saw me.
One day in private I told her ‘Aunty mat kaho na’ (don’t call me aunty). She agreed to it and she still abides by it. All these years we have been best of the friends.

Everybody who has stayed in Pune, India is usually familiar with the places where youngsters hangout…that is Fergusson college road popularly known as FC road. Once I saw her standing near the place called ‘Sagar Arcade’ (where a lot of smart guys were standing). I was standing on the opposite side of the road and I got excited and screamed out loud ‘Chiuuuuuuu’.
In our next meeting she said ‘Don’t call me Chiu, call me by my real name especially in front of ‘CAT’ boys’.

CAT?? Huh? What does it mean by ‘CAT’ boys…? That’s the term she uses for smart boys. Though I never understood in what way boys resemble cats, it became my habit to call smart boys’ as ‘cats’ and the term is popular in my friend circle. FYI, ‘mad cat’ bears a higher degree of beauty than just a ‘cat’.
(In the US, CAT stands for Casual American teenager)

We started going to guitar classes together but due to some illogical reason like the class being too far from my place I quit. She still continued going there and then once I saw her with ‘cats’ from her guitar class and then I lamented for leaving the class. She is a very good guitar player now.

Chiu joined some boxing classes and she could lift any person within 80kgs. That was the time when even I was thrilled by the idea of weight lifting. We had competition on whose biceps are bigger! (I should probably stop dreaming about it because I can never compete with her)

One more interesting thing about her is that she drives motorcycles. It was always fun to sit on the back sit and see the reaction of people. They were amazed, surprised, shocked! As women driving bikes is not so common in India. Young boys were open mouthed to see a pretty pretty face driving a bike. Once I was waiting for my company bus with a friend Radhika and I saw a girl wearing tight jeans, tight top driving a bike, she went with the speed of light. I told Radhika “look at today’s girls… Aah… they are too trendy”. And within 5 seconds I realized OH that was Chiu!

We share a lot of common interests like:
She has got certificates in painting exams… you can say she is a ‘certified painter’. She has made a lot of colorful paintings on the walls of her room … hey that means she knows one more type of painting than I do and that is wall painting. On a serious note, she is a far better painter than I am and is also very good at calligraphy.
She is an amazing singer … I don’t know why she left it at an early age.
Both being avid readers, we talked for hours on books.
Both liked to meet our relatives, yeah we visited them after every 2 years!!

How many movies can you see one after the other?
Well, we have made a record here; 4 movies in a row (usually we saw 3 movies one after the other). That didn’t take much time, just 7pm to 4am. (Mannnn I miss all those days and nights)

One more important thing we did together was ‘bird watching’ (I hope you know the meaning of bird watching – or else you will think we were ‘real bird’ lovers – nah… I don’t know any birds except sparrow and crow). ‘Bird watching’ means ‘watching boys’.
I feel it must have been first ‘aunt - niece pair’ in the world who talked about anything and everything, from recent crushes and heart breaks to professional and personal problems.

Though unachievable she had strong crushes on ‘Sonu Nigam’, ‘Rahul Dravid’ and ‘Bryan Adams’ respectively (yeah this girl’s taste was refined over the years). Her passions are photography and listening to English songs. She is a psychologist by profession and speaks excellent French. Her dream is to visit France at least once in her life. I admire her a lot because she is well versed with so many things.

She has juvenile diabetes and has to take 3 injections per day. A lot of times I have seen her staying up all night due to ‘hypo’ (low concentration of sugar in the blood). I empathized with her. I have never ever seen her grudging about it or then making it an issue for not doing things. In fact she has done much more quality things in life than a perfectly healthy girl would have done.

In 2 months she is getting married to a ‘Mad Cat’ in India. I am going to miss the wedding. So I am wishing her all the very best and a great married life.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I wanted to be

Everybody wants to be something in life, which they dream about since they are 4/5 years of age.

First person whose profession I liked was my teacher in nursery and then I wanted to be a teacher.
For a few days I tried to gather small children in the colony and taught them mathematics.
But teaching requires lot of talking and I don’t like to talk much.
(I still feel that I should start taking mathematics tuitions, hmmm may be when I am retired)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

Sometime when I was 6/7 my mother enrolled me in a music class. I won first prize in lot of singing competitions and people thought my voice was mellifluous (You will doubt it if you listen to my songs now!). Suddenly my plans changed, I wanted to be a singer.
But, I had tonsil problem so doctor told me to stop singing (as I had reached a stage where I had to sing lot of difficult ‘ragas’) or then have an operation, I opted for the first choice to leave singing.
I don’t regret my decision as tonsils are a vital part of your body with important functions, so removing might have caused other problems.
(I am a bathroom singer now)

I was wondering what I can be now and…

On ‘Durdarshan’ I used to watch news and imitate the readers. It eventually became my pastime to read entire textbooks with news reader’s style. I was fascinated with news readers (now I wonder why) so I wanted to be a news reader.
But somebody told me that it is not just reading it in an approved manner, you will have to take training to be a news reader and worst of all stay in Mumbai. That means it was not as easy as I was thinking it to be.
(I watch news everyday but don’t imitate readers anymore)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

In school I scored out of marks in biology and then everybody suggested me that I can be a doctor.
I had decided to be a doctor but who knew that it is not just studying biology, it also involved dissection!
After completing first frog dissection in the lab I threw up and changed my mind saying ‘its gross’.
(I still read lot of biology stuff)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

I enjoyed playing with colors. After learning charcoal/ glass/ fabric/ nib painting (basically everything except wall painting) I wanted to be a painter.
After creating many paintings I fell in love with all of them, they were all my babies, I thought after putting so much of effort how could I sell them just to earn money?
(I still paint for my own pleasure and make frames to put on the walls of my own house).
I was wondering what I can be now and…

I am an avid reader. I thought I also do have certain ideas/ stories in my mind so why not become a writer?
I tried to do it too but failed to write more than a few poems and stories.
(I continue to write my diary and blog)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

In college I started going to beauty parlors. Saw some fashionable lady owners, saw them making lot of money for trivial things and decided to be a beautician.
I did a beautician course but my parents disapproved my idea to open a beauty parlor.
(I continue experimenting on my own face)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

I saw Manish Malhotra’s dress creations and thought yes even I have creativity and a good sense of colors, joined fashion designing institute.
Ok, so if you want to be a fashion designer you have to know stitching also, that’s a rule, they start with stitching lessons first.
I learnt to stitch dresses, it was a time consuming job.
Stitching for a few days caused too much of a back pain.
(I continue to design my own dresses)
And again I was wondering what I can be now and…

One of my friends forced me to join astrology classes. I learnt it for 2 years and got a medal, but how much at the most can you charge a person for reading one horoscope.
Also, I thought it is something which should be done free of charge to help others make important decisions.
(I still read horoscopes)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

Malleshwari - first woman ever from India to make it in Olympics as a ‘woman weight lifter’ - yes you guessed it right; I wanted to be the second one. I started taking steps towards my new dream under a very good trainer. I was planning to take part in University weight lifting competitions. But something had to happen.
My doctor ‘bhabhi’ (sister in law) dissuaded me from doing it saying lifting such heavy weights is not good for a female body.
(Once in a week I do weight lifting in gym)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

I was thinking to become a chess player but after loosing in college semi finals I decided to be a dancer.
I performed in a group dance in college. All boys started whistling after my entry and I got scared, forgot my first step itself.
I was a ladies cricket team captain in college so I said why not try in Indian ladies cricket team. My skin tanned when I started practicing more. I know that’s an absurd reason but it tanned to a degree where I started worrying. I tried my hands at some other sports too like badminton but could not make it.
(I continue playing chess and badminton with friends, dance a lot in clubs and also I am planning to participate in Microsoft ladies cricket matches next year)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

In college people gave me compliments about my good looks that kind of changed my mood, now I wanted to be a model.
I took training in acting and modeling from one of the very well known institutes.
Well, I am not Howard Roark but I do have certain principles in life. When I realized people in this field have no principles and just to enter here they are ready to compromise on anything and everything, I changed my line.
(I am not sure if I would like to give it a try again)
I was wondering what I can be now and…

Well by now you must be wondering so finally what do I do…

I had very little time to study being so active in all these other activities specified above. Still in spare time I studied computers. One of the very good software companies in India was hiring. Out of hundred candidates who appeared for the interview (or should I say rounds of grilling interviews) only 3 got the job, yes I was one of them.
Finally I landed somewhere. Now- a -days 3 out of 5 people are software engineers and so am I! I am not doing anything unique or different. But I believe if I could not make it in any other career and made it here despite of tough competition that means this is what was written in my destiny.

At times I feel I should have put in all my efforts in excelling just one thing, but on the other side I feel nice that I could experience so many things in just one life.