Saturday, September 27, 2008

My day off.

I have a newfound admiration for lazy people. They have an innate ability to while away time. I found out yesterday that whiling time is not as easy or enjoyable as it looks or seems.

Having absolutely nothing to do today, I decided on my schedule after a late breakfast of delectable Mendu Vadas. I was torn between catching a flick and spring cleaning (Ok, I’m a few months late). I also had the option of a chilled beer and a nice movie at home. It had started to get confusing. The more I thought, the more was I in a quandary. Honestly, spring cleaning was never a contender but the beer or the multiplex options were perplexing.

Finally, I decided to do nothing. Nothing at all. How would it be, to do nothing- nothing significant or worthwhile that is-for a whole day? I wouldn’t leave the house but I wouldn’t switch on the computer. I would not attend any calls (Most are from salespersons anyway).

I allowed myself to watch the tube as I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it for more than ten minutes. They news channels are shitty, the reality shows seem staged and the commercial breaks are as long as the movies. I tried sleeping. I can’t understand why sleep evades me on holidays. I recalled it had been ages since I have curled up to a good book. Nowadays, it’s all about e-books (non-fiction, mind you) and for good reason. Books come from trees. Nevertheless, I tried to read one on Mother Theresa. What transpired was comical to say the least! In minutes of reading a few pages, I felt drowsy. Closing the book, I lay on my bed. Again, sleep evaded me. I tried this routine twice, to same effect.

I tried to strike a conversation with my neighbour. It is then I came to know that her daughter was in the SSC and needed help with English. Ah, I thought!
Something to do! I asked her to send the kid over after lunch. She beamed at me. I realized then that she had been a good friend to mum and I hadn’t reciprocated her warmth.

I had ordered Biryani from a popular joint. I guess the cook was having a bad day like me as his Biryani tasted funny. Throwing more than half of it away, I rolled up my sleeves and invited Riya over for some serious learning. I was taken aback when I opened her book. I remembered nothing! What had I developed, Amnesia?! Nothing made sense. I couldn’t recall if I had ever read about Clauses. Active -passive speech was scary. The girl ended up teaching me a few things. I tried valiantly for an hour to teach her. Exasperated, I gave up! She comforted me and told me that as English was ingrained in my psyche, I thought intuitively and my brain no longer remembered unnecessary information. Was I getting old? I promised her chocolate pastries if she would keep the tutoring to herself. She agreed. I plodded onto my next task.

It was evening by now. It had been a long time since I had used my punching bag or skipped. An exercise session was in order! I would strongly suggest easing into your exercise routine if it’s been a while since you’ve done it. I was out of breath after 50 skips, couldn’t do a single pull-up ( much thanks to the extra kilos I have packed in) and sprained my back trying to pull off a few round house kicks- all this in 5 minutes.

I had started getting edgy as the abstinence from technology started driving me nuts! I kept hearing my phone ring the whole day (I had switched it off, remember?). I craved for the internet. I pined for the polluted air of the streets. In a desperate bid, I tried pranayam and got bored off it in 45 seconds. I had trained in Hindi classical music and thought of taking a shot at that. I sounded like a frog as it has been years since I stopped Riyaz. I even took out my rusty Guitar from its cover and tried playing a tune or two. My fingers felt heavier than lead! It had been days, nay, months since I had strummed on the Guitar. I could not remember why. Was I so busy in life as to stop doing and enjoying the simple pleasures like reading, singing and playing the Guitar?

Finally, dad came home and I heaved a sigh of relief! He is an excellent conversationalist and a better thinker. When I told him of my day, he had this to say. “You have become so hard wired to the daily grind that you have stopped thinking about what actually pleases you. You are hooked on to technology but fail to see the simple pleasures of life. I used to enjoy listening to your tunes while you were in college. Nowadays, all you do is work on that computer.”

It hit me like a tracer bullet. I used to enjoy a good read, dishing out rajma and making tunes and singing. What had changed? What had happened?

I’d gotten so busy with my professional life that I’ve ignored all this and jumped into the rat race. As someone had once said- ‘In this rat race, even if you come first, you’re still a rat.’ I knew more about the market health than that of my own. I was pleasant and charming with my colleagues but had even forgotten my neighbours name.

What had I become?

© of Kartikeya Dwivedi 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Driving Lessons

Driving Lessons.

Yes, I have enrolled for them. No, I don’t plan to buy a car or find work as a driver. I enjoy riding a bike and have become adept at it. If I am driving, I find travel relaxing and pleasant. I was planning to go to either Goa or Uttranchal this December. My plans of going there on a bike, fulltoo Roadies ishtyle were met with laughter, ridicule and stern no’s. The stern no coming from my dad. Crushed, I planned on going to Goa by hiring a car. Learning how to drive a car was the next step.

The thing that I love about this country is that people care. We are concerned. We like to give advice. Nine times out of ten, we voice our concern. And the advice bit gets a full ten on ten.

Upon inquiry, I decided to learn driving from Kini Motor Driving School. That wasn’t easy. Earlier on, a pal suggested that it was a waste of time. “X has a car. Ask him to teach you. You will be able to learn quickly as you know how to ride a bike. It’ll be a 5 day affair.” He spoke with such conviction that I virtually saw myself in Schumacher’s shoes after the supposed 5 day training.

I was a tad skeptical about asking X for his new car and use it to hone my driving skills. Well -actually-use it to learn driving with. His face became pale and I am sure his blood pressure either lowered or rose up when I told him what ‘Y’ suggested!

“I don’t mind at all, but you see, I would suggest you join a driving school. They are professionals and will tutor you properly. Y is an imbecile. NEVER take his suggestions seriously” He had begun sweating, so I quickly changed the topic. I am sure while going for a drive in his car later on, when I caught him cussing someone under his breath, the cusses were meant for Y.

I then started my search for a driving school. Opinions were divided. Some school’s offered lesser days. Others trainer was not up to the mark. Some were too expensive. What I learnt from this exercise is: Limit your inquiries to a few people who are your well wishers or have the required domain knowledge (A girlfriend told me that Z motor school did not have any training cars in red so it was meaningless even contemplating learning there regardless of its lowest tuition fee)

I said well wishers because some of the people I inquired looked at me with ‘so, now you want to learn to drive, you silly fellow you’ look or the ‘Gosh, you must be buying a brand new car and I am so jealous’ look or the ‘What makes you think you even deserve a car?’ look.

Domain knowledge is equally important. One doesn’t have to ask an Automobile Engineer but someone who knows which training school is reasonably cheap and has proper trainers. The colour of the car is not very important if you only plan to sit in it for 22 odd days and learn driving. But hey, that’s me.

Finally, as I mentioned before, I chose Kini Motors. The Instructor, Mr. Parkar (We are not yet on first name basis. Well, he is, I’m not) came highly recommended. Their Santro was outwardly in good condition and the fee was equal to the other schools. Moreover, it was a kilometer and a half from my home and good exercise on days I set out there walking. Make that walking briskly.

It’s been 5 odd days and I have learnt a few valuable lessons. I shall summarise a few.

Yes, driving a car is a tad easier if you know how to ride a bike. For someone who does not know how to ride a bike, learning how to drive a car will be easier of the two. For one, you don’t have to balance a car so you don’t have to worry about falling down. Secondly, you don’t have training schools for Bikes, none that I’ve heard of anyway. You either have to borrow a pal’s bike or learn after buying one yourself.

Most choose the former and India being such a great and helpful country, most people do have genuine friends who not only lend their bike but volunteer to teach. There may be a possibility that your dear, helpful friend isn’t much of a rider himself and may misguide you. Even if he is a regular Rossi, he doesn’t have additional brakes and clutch, a luxury (if one might call it that) that motor school tutors have. Also, you don’t have to worry about the repercussions of crashing your training vehicle into the fat old lady. Why?

In all probability, your Instructor will stop the runaway car. Even if you don’t give him that chance and crash into something or someone anyway, you have a learner’s license and people expect it from you. (Practically, I have not yet experienced the repercussions, as I have not bumped into anyone although I have come perilously close on many occasions. Hence I don’t know, who pays, what happens. My trainer has ensured such a situation won’t arise) Youngsters on Bikes are considered to be Devil incarnate. If you were to ever bump into something, and by something I meant something inanimate, run. If the specimen were to be a living person, I would suggest faking a heart attack. Actually, this advice goes to all bikers, learners, novices or experts.

All in all, driving a Car has its joys. I’d prefer cruising in a Car while it’s raining. There were days when we used to wait for the rain to ride our bikes on wet roads. Maybe I have finally grown up.

© of Kartikeya Dwivedi 2008