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Posts Tagged ‘Memoirs’

OFAB: The Journey (Part III)

Chapter 3: Destination Hyderabad

A cup of hot lemon tea, and am set to begin on another phase of a recent journey, the one from a billion event.

Keep things short so that we can get down  to the matter at hand quickly, shall we, gentlemen?

Being the first flight for me, all things, no exceptions included, foreign, it was only natural, to be at the airport early. Two hours before departure? No, not that much though. Anyway, I reached the airport via a Volvo and got down at the satellite bus station, picked up a trolley, loaded my luggage and walked towards the airport to get a glimpse of what was awaiting me.Five minutes later, I was standing in front of the ticket counter, not sure what to do. I had a ticket in my hand, and being smart that I was, I knew about the existence of what’s called boarding pass. However , since the whole thing was foreign to me, I didn’t know where I was to get it, or whether the paper that lay in my hand itself would suffice, etc. etc. I decided on checking the ticket counter, found the Kingfisher counter, saw there was a small queue in front of it, joined it. As I was waiting for my turn to come, I found a lot of people walking through the doors that lay nearby. Each one walked in to be greeted by a security personnel, showed some papers and after a brief glance were allowed to walk in. I told you I was smart. I quit the queue, walked towards the doors. However there lay quite a few entrances and people around seemed to have their own choices. While there were a few with queues formed in front of them, there were others with literally nobody lined up. I chose the empty one. Walked up. As noted, a security guard asked for my ticket, I had only one paper which was related, which I passed it on to him. He glanced at it and asked for my identity proof. I produced it. Another quick glance, post which, I was allowed to walk through. *Yeah, the ticket and identity proof was returned back to me*

I walked in to feast on  the sight that lay ahead of me. *No. It wasn’t the filmy way, where the village bumpkin visits the city life for the first time and gets awestruck and stuff. None of that happened. **And hello! I am not a village bumpkin alright. Get that straight.** * As I walked in, I found another of the kingfisher counters, which I was pretty sure, was for checking in. I went to the counter and produced my ticket. *Actually I didn’t have anything else to do, did I?* The kind lady behind the desk, I say kind because that’s what they are meant to be, helped me through the procedure, the result of which I got a boarding pass. I accepted it as if it were a key to something. *It was only a card with my flight details scrawled on it.* I was told to head to some gate* I don’t remember which because, now flight has become more like a routine. **How can you forget the first one, do you say? Ok. I am not all that bad at memory, alright. It was gate no. 7. Happy?** oh wait! I am not boasting about being a frequent flier alright. After all, I flew only four times. It was only to give some finesse, that I added it. You can cut it off now.*

The boarding gates at the Bengaluru international airport happens to be in the first floor. So went up to find another security check awaiting me. This was those scanning wala security. Beeeep Beeeep stuff. I was asked to keep my bag, laptop separate, all metal objects in it, out of my pocket, all mobile phones in the bag. I did as asked and five minutes later, I was standing in front of a man who was equipped with a metallic scanner who scanned me down and let me pass.

I found my assigned gate, took up a place nearby and settled down with a novel I had. Since I had skipped lunch, I soon began feeling hungry. I had heard about food being served on the flight, but the flight was still a good two hours away and I was sure I couldn’t stay hungry for all that while. So I went down to the restaurant there, and a while later, was found munching on some rice item, looking around the place.

When you have a book in hand and you are a book lover, *Bah! Its obvious only a book lover would have a book in his hand, no? Yes. And no. Even a non book lover is forced to hold a book in exchange for a pass result in his exams.* its amazing how fast time flies. I soon heard the boarding call for my flight and rushed to stand in the queue. *It was my first time. So the stupidity.* Ten minutes later, I was in a bus which was travelling towards the flight. Twenty minutes later, I was comfortably seated. Forty minutes after walking through the gates, we were airborne. *The airport musing has begun again. Sorry! I am not the one to blame please. In fact, if were not for my timely walk out on the pretext of drinking water, I would have been a part of it by now. Can you believe it? Like just about an hour and half from weekend, no way! I think we can have one like for three hundred and sixty five days a year. Oh wait! Guess what, it over. Very quick. I likes it.* I was on one of those two seat-er, on the non window side. My co-passenger who happened to be some IIM prof or something, was kind enough to let me have his place, when he found me trying to shoot out of the window. For a person being on air for the first time, I was absolutely awed by the sight that lay beneath my eyes. I shot a few shots, yeah, but soon preferred to enjoy what I could see to what the lens could.

I reached the airport with an hour to kill before the scheduled time and once again the book came to my rescue. Two hours, a packet of biscuit and a few calls later, I found the rest of the crew finally arrive. It was not until another thirty minutes later, when we were given a go ahead sign. As we pulled out of the airport, I could hear the driver explaining about the things around. I tried catching a thing or two, but then decided rest was more sweeter than the facts.

Probably due to the heavy waiting, I felt quite exhausted and was altering between being asleep and awake. Every now and then I would watch a building or two pass by and then get back to the beautiful blackness.Another day, another cup of hot lemon tea, we begin again. *erm.. I had to finish off most of what I got, to get myself writing.* **The past event had to happen twice with a week’s break in between preceded by a little work which was the culprit behind the break and the inclusion of another set of stars.**

I was told to expect a lot of heat, but since the room was air conditioned, I really didn’t think much of it until I walked into the lift the following morning for the breakfast. From 8th floor to the 3rd was all that was required to acquaint me to the heat. *Shrugs off thinking about it* A hand full of hours and it was already show time.

Kart Kave,  The track, happened to be just behind the hotel, or rather, we stayed at a hotel which was situated just in front of the track. Thanks to it, we didn’t have to take much of the heat. Anyway, walking into a underground, my first impression of the track was, “Wow, I am going to have a wonderful five evenings ahead”. The place was given the form of a cave with the help of POP and the lighting present was only adding to the beauty of it. Now since the lights were facing the walls, the ground was almost in dark except for the track which was lit by the light affixed to the ceiling. The day began with a flag off preceded by a few flash fired. Yeah, they were from my camera. In case you had forgotten, I am the official photographer for the FIDA event (south zone) *Now before you ask, for as long as I know, Hyderabad has been a part of south zone. In case my knowledge proves to be wrong due to some different analysis that you did, or some new search engine you referred to, I request you to refer the previous line and forget you read this.* and am supposed to be capturing the important activities taking place at the event. *Now if you get down to ask me the definition of important, I would tell you important as per the dictionary but from my point of view.* So I had my tripod out and got down shooting. Being my first date with the tripod, I was having a good time shooting around, using certain settings I had always dreamt of using ever since I got a camera. *Before you begin scratching your head, thinking where this tripod dropped down from, let me tell you, I bought it before heading out to the airport. Didn’t scratch your head? Good for you.** Erm.. Even better for those leech tribe that has been making a living off your head 13 degree off north pole, yeah! Right there.** *Getting into my second venue, my dual personality was growing stronger as I continued to take pictures of each and every contestant that passed by to test the track. Thankfully, I didn’t have to endure the, When can I get this photo, Are you putting this up on facebook questions.

As I sat down to review the day’s pictures, the thought of the wonderful five evenings ahead, was crumpled and ready to roll into the bin. I indeed had beautiful shots, more than half of them panned beautifully to include a kart in beautiful motion, but thinking of it, I would end up having the same action, day in, and out all through the week. Also capturing viewers meant having to visit the gallery which lay exactly opposite to the pit lane, the steps leading to the same being at the extreme end of the other side. Given the number of laps a contestant was given, the speedy laps and the time I needed to capture the contestant post race, coupled with the hurry a contestant always came in with, I had practically little time to be else where. Now that meant a challenge to capture something different.

Come day 2, we had a guest coming down to the kart in the form of Raymond Wong,  the CEO of Exxon Mobil. That meant day 2, practically gift wrapped for me. It was certainly good to have the CEO of one of the oil giants to pose for you. We had another flag off, *I don’t need to tell you it was gift wrapped too, do I?* following which the day’s trails began. In spite of all the gifts coming in, unexpected as they were, I had my plan chalked out, thanks to which, I could reduce the pan to a very great extent and include everything else, thereby getting myself out of the, “Ade raga, ade hadu” mood. (Same tune, same song)

The following two days went by smoothly, as I only had one thing to do; stick to my plan, and the shots would follow. They did witness a little dancing around the tracks as I had  to keep running between the pits and the open area in amidst the track to switch between being a shaadi-wala photographer and myself. However since the former was more of just a routine procedure and the latter a practiced outcome, it didn’t much to get through it.  Add to it the minimal number of contestants registered, we were usually free within a few hours after which it would be time for us to test our skills on the tracks.

Back in the school days, end of Saturday always meant a sense of happiness. Why? It was Sunday that followed next, idiot! Coming into the event too, end of Saturday meant a sense of relaxation as Sunday meant, the day of shoot. As it goes by without saying, the day of shoot is a expected gift wrapped day for me. With the TV crew choreographing every little thing, all I have to do to get a piece of their cake is be there and click. However not everything can work your way and those are times when you need to adjust yourself to adapt. Unlike Bengaluru, where the shoot took place in the noon before the final day’s trials, due to the track presence being at a very prominent tourist spot, add to it, the being of a Sunday, it was obvious, the track owner would like to keep the track open for the visitors in the noon, the shoot for the Hyderabad regionals was scheduled to take place post the final day’s trials. Now that meant a few more hours on track, which in turn meant fewer hours of sleep.

If given a choice, I usually prefer to let the sun wake up before me, but not every time you have a choice and this was one such time. My flight was scheduled around 9 which meant I had to be at the airport, an hour’s journey from our hotel by 8. That was not all. The other fellas with me who were scheduled to go to Mumbai had their flights an hour earlier than mine, which meant I had to give up another hour of sleep just to wait at the airport. Thanks to one of the admin team member, Shuja, who offered to drop me to the airport, I saved myself an hour’s worth of sleep. *Yeah! A hour’s worth can be a lot when you don’t want to be waking up early.*Another venue, probably one of the challenging ones, done with.


Photographs of the Hyderabad regionals:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

 P.S: I have been extremely lazy in getting done with this one. I began writing on the 24th June, 2011. *That should tell enough about it. If it doesn’t keep staring at it, until it does.*

Chalakudi – Mangalapuram Super fast express!

The weekend was fast approaching and with only one more area pending under the belt, it was only proper that a home coming was etched on the cards. Thursday, the 16th, found me at a travel agency on my way back from work for a ticket back home. Being a person who dislikes a seater, that I am, much to my dislike, I found the only sleeper that was available had no lower berth. What’s more before I could even give a thought about upper berth, I was told all sleeper seats are already booked. That left me with no other option but to go for a non-sleeper bus. So I found myself booking a seat in a Volvo scheduled to depart at 10:15, the following night. Its wonderful how fast a day can run by when you have something exciting up your sleeves. It was already late in the evening, that time of the day when I was scheduled to leave. So I have a taxi waiting to drop me to the pick up spot.

I reach the stop early, enquire and find, the bus would be on time, and I get that feeling something is not right. Yeah that very feeling you get when everything goes by without a hitch. Ok, no. I didn’t have any of that feeling. It was just to make the write up a little more authored than a journal. *That call compare happening in the back ground is a little disturbing. Coming to think of it, I am reminded of the flight attendants’ announcements that comprise of the music at the airports. Well, I can’t ask them to shut up. So I have to endure it. Err.. No, you will have to endure my passing comments, every now and then, if they happen to come by.* I was on the phone, speaking of course, when a car comes down vroom and brakes in front of the travel bureau. Somebody steps out, mafia style and walks in to speak with the travel agent. A heated argument begins and the next moment we have Bam! Bam! Two shots fired, one man down, probably dead. The mafia styled man, walks out, finding me on the phone, pauses for a while, decides to poke his dirty nose anyway and does it. *Because of that activity thing I told you was going on in the back ground, I found myself changing tracks and with the influence of the action novels or movies, I can’t say, well, no! I can. It’s the novels. You see, I like thriller novels a lot, so they obviously tend to impact my writing. What I meant to convey is that, that last part about the shots fired and stuff was a bluff. Yeah, you can read that again, minus the masala. Excuse me? I hope you can recognize the masala btw.*

The gentleman asks me if I was also on the bus going to Mangalore, for which I reply in the affirmative. I find out that the bus which a few minutes back was scheduled was now cancelled due to a break down. *The work break down reminds me of a game called trans. Its short for transport tycoon, a game where you are heading a transport corporation and stuff. The relevance? Not necessarily one. I just remembered it, felt like scribbling about, did. Does that bother you? Ok. As a consolation, it had vehicles which broke down when they got old, or well, every once in a while for that matter.* I was void of feeling for a while and my first response was how could that happen. The ex-mafia could have said, ‘Are you an idiot or what? Didn’t I tell you it broke down?’ But thankfully he didn’t. The agent interrupted with the repeat reason. *ah! Wait. This ain’t that bullshit crap you used to read every time you saw a star and by now have probably decided on skipping the stars for lack of content and context. Well, let me warn you, you shalt miss some very important stuff if you miss this, which you obviously have, if you aren’t reading this. So now that I have convinced you, this stuff within the star is not nonsense, I can freely write my mind again. Whew! Oh no! wait! My mind doesn’t have all this. I work hard making it up. I have to rack my brains for the variety and the hidden syllables. It quite interesting how easily you can write faltu stuff, though. Just as easily as I can make up my making it. Ok. The main reason I drew the star in the first place was that I wanted to portray some of my immediate internal reactions, when everything else popped up. No. Ok, yes. Well lets leave the emotions to the inside, for I am not able to search for them now. Err.. I don’t even know where to search actually. So to the story, gentlemen, shall we? Now, you women folk, please don’t take offence, I mean none. Just penning.*
‘I have to be there tomorrow’ *Sorry for the early break, but if that last line meant foreign, go back a little and reread. You can skip the stars this time around.*
‘You just have to be there, if I don’t, I will be losing a lakh and half.’ *Now that was certainly filmy.*
‘So what do you intend to do?’ ‘I am going to the airport to see any flights are available.’
Having nothing else to do, I try again with the agent. I ask him if there is any other bus. No. Any other means of transport at all. No. The following morning. No. How far would the nearest airport be. No. oh sorry, don’t know. *I think he probably didn’t know proper english. Now since I didn’t speak malayalam we were feeding bouncers to each other.* He asks me for the ticket. I hand it over in exchange for six of those soiled papers people call currency.

I find recluse in my translator, my field senior as a matter of fact. He comes down, babbles with the agent. #@*%%& *#&%*@ *$%&$@&% #@*%&$@& @*$&%*$@ 4*% $*%& $*&%*$# *$#&%*$# $&#%*$& *One, the conversation was in malayali. Two, its written in short hand. So don’t mind if find it illegible. For those of you who happen to know malayali and short hand, but still find it illegible, please be sensible, I don’t understand it.* Five minutes later we walk down to the KSRTC bus station to find if we have any bus going to Mangalore. Surprise. Surprise. We had one. A dakota bus which was scheduled at 11. A super fast passenger express. *I didn’t know the goods carriers were also called buses. Probably so in Kerala. I think.* It was a complete no no for me. I agree wanted to go home badly but not in that bus please. Fifteen minutes later, we were walking on the national highway a bag on the back, a suitcase in the hand. *If you want narration for that fifteen min gap too, then you will have to contact me in person, for with the summary view itself I am losing my readers every second star. So please.* The hotel people showed some pity on us for having required to walk back all the way and of course for missing the bus. I asked if they could find out if there was any flight to Mangalore the following morning, which due to being late, couldn’t be found then, but the following day replied saying none was available for the day.

Having no other choice I went back to the work place. On the way, I found out due to rains and water on the tracks, a lot of trains had been cancelled. *Whats happening with me. You will soon find out, shut up!* I reached the place and found that there was a train that left at 12 in the noon and reached at 8:30 in the night. It was acceptable with me. However the ticket was a problem. Being a weekend, that it was, no tickets were available and general class would be no better substitute for a market. So that left one way. Road. Bus. I was told, I could get a bus to Calicut from where I could probably get a bus to Kasargod or Mangalore. It would take about 3 hrs to reach Calicut and then another 5 to Mangalore, more or less. I made the math. It was 10:15 in the morning, so I could probably reach by 7 at the latest. It would be good. I agreed. A few minutes later I was gives a route map, reading which I got a feeling it was going to be a long one ahead. *No faking this time.* It read Chalakudi —> Kozhikode —> Kannur —> Kasargod —> Mangalapuram. *Before I take the journey for a second time, I thought I would get my self a cup of black lemon tea. I walk to the vending machine only to find it asking for the boiler to be filled. Now that’s fail, isnt it. Is it necessary for me to re endure something to recount the experience? For a no, I could go to the opposite wing and get one, but that would be another journey, and I am lazy. After all I am going through a very long journey you see.*

10:30 AM
Chalakudi KSRTC Bus station
I found there was no bus going to Kannur, but there was one to Calicut in 10 mins.*I forgot to mention the other route told to me. Just permutation combination.* As I sat waiting for the bus with our driver, who was kind enough to sit with me until I boarded, I found that the although the buses had boards reading the places they went to, they were all in Malayali! I knew the next stops would call for some trouble with the bus recognition, if the same situation carried forward there too. The driver announced the arrival of the bus and I got into it. I got myself a ticket to Calicut and settled down. I had got a seat on those three seats and since it was going to be a long one, I wanted a window seat. I found the conductor sitting besides the window and went up to him and asked him if I could sit there. It was the same gibberish again. I would understand none of it. I tried thrice in different ways, but to no avail. It just wasn’t happening. So I just went and sat next to him. He again said something, probably something to do with my back pack, but since I wasn’t going to understand I just ignored it. Another reason to ignore was that it contained a few things I could classify as things money can’t buy. An hour or so later, the crowd thinned and I shifted to a double seat where I had the whole thing to myself. It was supposed to be a three hour journey, but it ended up taking another hour and half more! I was hungry. I was tired. I was at Calicut. It was fifteen past three in the noon.

I walked across the bus station at Calicut and found a help desk, only to find the enquiry about the buses going to Mangalore would on the other end, the place where I came from. There are time when you just need to do things with no other choice. This was one. *That reminds me of an audit where I had to redo a work paper three times before I could save it from being corrupted. **Some lady in the background just opened a perfume bottle or perhaps applied some, whatever, its got a good smell. I forgot my cup of tea.** What happened was it involved a lot of areas to work upon and by the time I was finished with, it somehow got corrupted. Bad times.* I reached the other enquiry only to find there was no bus either to Kasargod or Mangalore. But I could get one to Kannur. Where? It would at the other end! *This is getting on my nerves man! Really. How fair is it to make you walk all the way across a bus station not once but thrice. Fail.* My stomach was growling. Being a big place that Calicut is, I was hoping for a junk food stall somewhere so that I could save some time, but bah! That wasn’t going to happen. So I made my way to a hotel which housed the restaurant on the the third floor, with no lift. I walked in to find the lights were dimmed and it was more a bar than restaurant. I found myself a place and when the waiter came asked what was available. Chapati, parota, fried rice. Anything else? Chapati, parota, fried rice. *Nut case.* I asked him what could he serve me along with it. Chicken fried rice…. I am vegetarian. Then veg fried rice. *Seriously nuts.* Do you have any dry items? Veg. Gobi Manchurian. Ok. Get me one VEG fried rice and a gobi manchurian. Yeah that would be all. A few minutes later, I was served a bowl of rice and a plate of something. I had to stare at the plate long and hard to ensure it was indeed what I had ordered. Since I was hungry, I gobbled up the first half without even realizing what I was having. However, since the first half did some filling work I realized what I now was having and also how good it was. I left the remaining, paid the bill and left.

3:50 PM
It was better than the KSRTC bus, however it was no bus to travel long journeys. Yet, did I have any choice? No boss, I didn’t. So there I was on some bus enroute Kannur.*Hey! I am back. Oh sorry! You are still here. I know you didn’t realize, but I took a break. Actually my collogues found it pretty interesting that I was still at the office with nothing to do but scribble. They felt it was good for me to enjoy a little, so I left the office early which meant I shut my notepad. **My laptop, if you didn’t follow.** Anyway, I am back again. Oh yeah, the airport musing I kept mentioning, its shut down. So you can let out a sigh of relief, for, I won’t be mentioning it anymore. But, yeah everything comes with a catch these days, no? This ain’t no exception either. That is to say, I am listening to some music, and I have this side effect while listening to music, as in, I get reminded of previous moments that I was in when I last heard the songs. So if you thought the airport musing was going be bad, this is going to be worse. Enjoy anyway :P* *Sorry. Just found out India won. Heard it in the back ground. So thought I would mention. A time mark, it would help me sometime later, if ever I were to need it.** Actually the post would be showing the date and time of posting, but still.. Chumma. *** Company effect. Its tamil/telugu/malayali for simply*** ** *

I had made up my mind to enjoy the journey, no prejudice allowed. I tried my best doing it. Every now and then, I was able to spend some time sleeping, but again the slightest of the disturbance would have me up and alert, a brake, a slight touch by a co-passenger, a passing by vehicle honking, whatever.. So it was pretty much, I was mentally awake all the while. So when I wasn’t doing this activity of physically sleeping, I indulged myself in the beauty that was passing by me. Once again, I badly missed my camera. *Once again and badly? Looks wrong, but screw grammar dude, I was missing my camera, not a english grammar book.* *Sorry for getting directly to the once again part without the first part. It will follow sometime soon, I promise.* We crossed some beaches by the roadside. The tides seemed to be on the high. There were beautiful sit-outs, restaurants by the beach, sadly, I was in the bus with no time to stop by. Just as we were done with the shoreline and greeted by some city streets, the rains made their first presence. I immediately shut the window, but the window wouldn’t shut completely. Good, I thought, at least I was getting some cool air helping me drift miles away from the locale language, when the second person, half sitting next to me jumped in to help me, no so called help me close the window. Ok. Lets go back a little so that I can narrate about this character that sat next to me. I was getting tired of having my kid on my lap and since the bus was crowded enough, she never had the opportunity to get off my laps and just when the crowd fell, and I was relaxing with her next to me, this character popped up and of all empty places had to choose the one next to me. *Stop! By speaking of that kid of mine, I meant my heavy duty back pack which is heavy enough to weigh as much as a kiddo. So cut that thought you were exploring. P.S. She is beautiful though :P*

Not long into the journey, he stared with his gibberish. I was lightning fast to tell him I didn’t speak gibberish. Hindi? Yeah. I am good. He spoke about this and that. 99% gibberish and 1% english/hindi/gibberish mix. Yeah that was the mix he used. To add to the fun, a stop later, his friend/colleague/relative/acquaint/whoever happened to get in and our character immediately jumped on. Gibberish….. Gibberish… gibberish.. (sit down) *You can’t be serious dude! This is a two seater!* No no.. Its ok. I am good standing..(all in gibberish *After a while you begin to understand anything*) Sit. I insist. Ok. *I am not going to move. No way. You can share your space, no mine. **If I knew you were so willing to share, I would have had my kid take your lap. Oh no, I couldn’t do it could I? no. I didn’t either.** * And the gibberish communal begins. I remember something and dive in. *I remembered reading a novel where the character, to stay away from pain imagines himself to be happy and all that relaxing stuff. You got it right, if you did. I imagined myself back home, eating dosa and that special mushroom curry, mom-made. Happy. Relaxed. No gibberish. Yeah no gibberish. None at all.* It helped.

6:40 PM
I was at the Kannur TT bus station.
I was lucky to find a help desk nearby this time round. By near by I mean, near the bus I was to board. From the place of drop, it was the same old story again. The luck wore out soon, when I asked the person about going to Mlore, only to find out that there were no buses going to Mlore. Kasargod? Yeah there are quite a few. That way. I board a bus, one which the driver is yet to board, which goes to say, the departure is still a good 15-20 mins away. So I get down, wash my face and wipe it, thus coating my hanky with a nice layer of black dirt. I did feel bad for having dirtied it, but then, I really felt fresh. My psychological therapy was working and I was good to start again as if it were the first. *Ok. No. I am in the mood to write sense, so nope. Nothing.* Thirty minutes, the driver climbed in. Ten minutes later, the engine chimed and the wheels began to roll. The light were going down and the visibility was going from worst to nil. I gave up appreciating the streets, for I could no longer see them. All I felt was a chilly breeze blowing against my face. I needed it to keep myself alert and fresh. Every now and then, the bus went into a city station to pick up some more passengers. The bus was soon more than full, with more people standing than sitting. The one thing that meant was I again had my lap busy and it was not doing anything to help me relax. The spacing was cramped. My legs were beginning to burn. I kept shifting in my place to keep some movement and that someway helped, or I was so badly in need of some recluse that I thought it did. The timing between stops gradually began increasing until a time when it was so worse that I was reminded of the local city buses. It was nine in the night and I was still forty kilometers away from Kasargod. Ninety odd, from Mangalore. *I hate saying Mangalapuram.*

A hundred and sixty odd, from home. To add to the woes, I found from my kind co-passenger that, with the way we were going, we would take another hour and half to reach destination. I also found there was a train from Kannur at 7 that would reach kasargod by 8:30. *Seriously, those are the last things you want to hear, but it was what I did.* I satisfied myself by saying the trains were out of schedule due to the rains and there could be no surety of it. Was it true? I didn’t want to know. *If you know, don’t you dare tell me.* The only recluse came in the form of a phone call saying my family who was supposed to pick me up from Mangalore, would now pick me up form Kasargod, for they got to know the last bus to mlore was at 9:30, thirty minutes away, one and hour journey away. The crowd soon started thinning. The city bus attitude continued. I wondered what the whole point of naming the bus limited stop, if every stop was a limited stop and every bus was a limited stop one. I was beginning to get irritated. I found my phone ringing. Found out that my family was long at the destination. I hated it even more now. I would have liked me waiting. But no. They had to wait for me. It was fuel for irritation. I was hungry. Or I wasn’t. I can’t be sure. All the same, to divert attention, I started nibbling on an apple I had in my bag. It didn’t do much good but my hunger, it was present alright, got a little satisfied. I tried sleeping but even that wasn’t happening. I was probably beginning to feel sick. I wanted to fight it all.
Twelve hours back, I had decided on it. But now, I wasn’t sure at all. I had begun with a sack load of patience and now I was feeling the bottom of the sack being scraped off. I didn’t know where I was or how much further away, I was. I could easily ask, but I was in no mood to do so. It was time for some control. I tried relaxing. Breathing the fresh air, no even that wasn’t being good now. The chill had turned harsh. I closed it. I was feeling suffocating. Opened up a little. A few deep breaths did a bit of help. A while later, I heard the call for the last stop. I picked up my luggage, checked on everything, got down. Asked directions to the place I was told to come to, which happened to just across the road. *How cool. Now that journey was over, everything was so nearby.* Just when I was half way across the road, I heard my dad call for me. I felt all the tiredness drain. I dropped my luggage in the car. Moments later, I was ready for another journey, the last for the day.

God knows what time it was, surely a lot past ten thirty, I was heading back, munching on those very dishes I dreamt of a few hours back. Truthfully, I was no longer feeling tired. A reunion coupled with excellent mouth licking food did the trick. It was all loud talk that followed. After an initial description and discussion about the journey, it was left to that.

1:05 AM
I was opening the gates of my house. A while later I was having a late dinner, a very one late in that.

2:00 AM
I was on the bed, wide awake.

10:25 AM
I was walking to start the day.

*I am back. Myself. No. Won’t be bothering you. Serious stuff. You might be feeling a lot of thing now. Have something to say? Don’t think. Comment. Well, coming again, think again if you thought of writing gibberish!*

ofab: The journey (Part-II)

Chapter 2: Destination Bengaluru

Wednesday, the 18th of May. 10.00 AM

I couldn’t sleep for long. Excitement, exam mood hangover, rest got off the previous day, I couldn’t say. The previous day, I got in touch with my correspondent and was told I would be informed once the team arrived the Bengaluru airport so that we could more or less meet at the same time. I was waiting for the call for quite a while now. It was time to leave. It was better to be on the move than wait and do nothing. Post three bus journeys, one due to missed destination, an auto ride, where both the driver and the passenger were clueless about the destination, I was at the hotel, hotel Lotus Park. Fifteen minutes later, I was a part of the crew.

Somewhere in the early afternoon, we got a briefing about our roles, the dos and dont’s, schedules, the parting note being we would meet in the lobby somewhere around 3.30.

It was 3 in the noon when we, myself and Binoy, headed down to have lunch. We headed towards the chain of restaurants that was situated next to our hotel where we had a choice between Chinese, north Indian and south Indian, namely Shogun, The Dhaba and Malgudi respectively. Since we had little time, we decided to have something light for which narrowed down to Malgudi. We walked in only to find the light food we preferred wasn’t served in the place. With not much time left, we walked ahead to a fast food joint to savour a plate of dosa which seemed to take like forever to get prepared. I even felt like going down to the kitchen and asking the cook cum server cum cashier cum cleaner cum whatever else to let me prepare. Before I would really intend to do so, our dosas arrived. Once we were done with it, we went down the track were the event was going to take place. And the event at torq3, Marathahalli, began.

My job was simple. While the karts ran, I was required to freeze them. To do the same, I was equipped with a camera and a lens screwed on it. Each day, I was required to move around capturing more like covering the event through my lens. I had decided on the how quite a while back. The what, I didn’t know. I was yet to answer it. The first day didn’t do much to clear the mist, for we had a delay due to unseen circumstances and by the time things properly began taking its course, it was already dark. Now since I am not a professional, I do not like artificial light, a little because it destroys the natural feeling and also because I didn’t own one 😛 So I was in a situation where photographers would usually call it a day. Again, since I wasn’t a pro, I didn’t fall in that category of calling off. Also, I was at work which required me to shoot, so I had to do it. Light or no light 😀 The day was over, we headed back to our room, had dinner, and it was time to work.

When I walked in, my plan had been to have atleast 10 usable shots, but at the end of day 1, I didn’t have many pics that I could be happy of. However it was just day 1. Coupled with the amount of time spent at the track.. err not time spent in totality but time spent shooting, it was ok. I came up with 13 shots to depict the story that took place on that day. Oh, wait. Not the full story of course. 😛 Anyway, it incidentally so happened that my story coincided with the profiling of one of the crew members, due to which the editor found the need to cut short my story, resulting in the decrease from 13 to 9.

The following morning saw me up at 9.40, thanks to a call from home. I opened the door to find the breakfast coupon which read breakfast only till 10! I went in to brush my teeth, only to find I didn’t have toothpaste! You are so used to having a tooth paste every time you pick the brush that you take it for granted. I didn’t take into consideration of those times when the toothpaste is almost over and you either have to get a new one or wage a war against the current one to seek fruit out of it. Anyway, I called up the reception and requested for it. When I finally went down for breakfast, it was 5 past 10. The waiters had now converted into assemblers and forgotten about waiter-ing. I was lucky first to find there were still some idlis,  a couple of vadas and some sambhar left, secondly I found Kunal and Siddharth who were yet to have breakfast, which meant I could have breakfast peacefully with nobody sitting on my head. I had two other heads to share my weight, you see 😛

Post a vain wait for hot water, lunch and a couple of hours, it was time again to head to the track, for the proceedings of day 2 would begin.

Our hotel was situated just across the track, so we just had to cross the road to reach the track. By the term, ‘road’ in cities like Bengaluru, it means a double road, sandwiched between service roads. So we crossed all those roads and reached the track. Day 2 was put into flow. Thanks to a visit by Pankaj Advani, yeah the 7 times world champ whose pic you would have seen on the newspaper every now and then, with a stick in his hand, I could reach my target 😉 (btw for your kind information, the game is termed billiards) Just when I thought, the day had ended, Kunal announced we would have Pankaj and his gang amidst us. It was something one wouldn’t want to miss, so inspite of sighting hunger in the horizon, I stayed back. Pardon me for my earlier saying of Pankaj and gang, for it was a gang which Pankaj was a part of. Yeah, he was such a down to earth person, that people present there didn’t even know they had a celeb amidst them. Its a different question that most of them probably wouldnt even have known what billiards would be, even if they were told about him. Anyway, the trio, him, his brother and another friend went karting and probably had good fun. Oh yeah, I was obviously shooting all the while, apart from the one time when I was in front of the cam having a picture shot, with him. In all the excitement I forgot I was hungry.

Also apart from the excitement late in the day, the day happened to be a light one. Coming to think of it, I wasn’t sure if it was due to less number of contestants or faster runs. Anyway, everybody was wrapping up and I was asked if I wanted to kart. My first response was, I haven’t done it before. All the same, I was excited to do it and went on to the kart. Having never karted before in my life, it was certainly a wonderful experience. Once you learn driving cars, you usually tend to be careful about your surroundings, and in my first lap, I was literally driving a car and not a kart 😀 The second lap saw me a little confident giving me the realization I was in a kart and it wouldn’t matter if I hit. Bham! I hit! I had had that experience of hitting, years back when I drove those dashing cars, and this was more or less a similar experience. The rest of the lap and the laps that followed went uneventful. So there is nothing to write about. I just went round and round and round. Yeah those three and the earlier two, I just did five laps. It was a wonderful experience. The feeling of having nothing to worry about the traffic from the opposite direction, the very nearness to the ground level, something worth it.

The following day was more like a routine, now that I was into my third day. My course was fixed. Breakfast, lunch, dinner 😀

It was weekend for everybody, but it didn’t mean much difference for us. When I say difference, I didn’t include the role of shaadi-ka-photographer, I had donned upon. Yeah, I was required to get each contestants’ photographs against a backdrop. It meant two things, one, curtailment of my movement and two, I now became a social networking photographer! The first thing, I could manage, but the second was really a menace. Every one-third person asking me, where they could get the photo. A few went a step ahead in asking me to mail it to them. I wanted to say, err.. I didn’t. Instead, I asked them to mail me. There was even one person who got my contact number and wonderfully he didn’t know how one spoke over the phone. I had to hang up on him saying learn to speak first. There were others who were kind enough to request if they could get their photos. In the bid to get their photos, one person even drove up to the place where I sat by not stopping where he had to. A bunch of spoiled brats, they were, is all I can say. Anyways, the last day of at Bengaluru saw the film crew at the track for their shoot with the finalists, which meant I got more photos and also I had to be at the track two hours earlier than the normal time. We had some choreographed shooting taking place, with the kids being asked to shout, jump dance.. oh, no. Dancing wasn’t involved. It just came as a part of the package. Muft me.. 😛

At the end of the day, we were required to have a photo session with the finalists. They say too many cooks can spoil the broth. I felt the same at the time of the shoot. I replaced the too many cooks by two photographers. Yeah, we had another photographer with us. He was also a shaad-ka-photographer, like in real and myself a recent recruit into the field. I was bang in the centre, while the other fella was at a slightly angled side. He wasn’t satisfied with one shot and I couldn’t get everybody to look into my camera. Result, he didn’t get right shots, nor let me do so. That was not all, the incident that followed was what amuses me. Our digital guy, Udit, asked him for the photos he clicked to which he, like a typical studio guy says, you can collect it tomorrow. So Udit explains to him about the need of the photos and he agrees. He takes out his memory card and gives it. As it so happened, his memory card happened to be a different one, one which couldn’t be used through a card reader. On asking his help to transfer the pics, he says, I usually don’t do this, because one little problem and my camera’s chip with be damaged. But since its for you, I will do it once. I, who was there listening to all of it, was wondering what he was speaking about and what he was going to do. What he did was take out the data cable for his camera, connected it to the laptop and the transfer was done! I wanted to say, if you keep doing this only-for-you-business with every lay man’s pc invariably infested with virus, there is no doubt your cam will be effected! However, I didn’t say it, letting him savour his favour.

Breakfast daily was Idly, vada  and sambar with watermelon juice to wash it down, though one day we had those mini dosa too. Hot water was never hot enough, peas pulao had become something like a prescription, 2 in the morning, a usual witness. The hotel room service was something different, you asked for extra onions, you them in your plate, not in the rice. Food at Malgudi, claimed to be south indian was more or less like any other place at blore, for, after all it was prepared in blore 😀 The dhaba was surprisingly fast in its service, the food too being pretty good. A restaurant near by high on standards in terms of its appearance and ambience lived up to its standard in terms of its quality too. In the week I was at the place, shogun was one place that missed my course. Maybe because I had breakfast there daily, maybe, just maybe.

Monday morning saw me on the way back, the first of the three venues assigned to me, done with.

Photos of the Bengaluru regionals.

ofab: The journey (Part-I)


‘Kingfisher airlines wishes to announce the arrival of its aircraft IT2404, going from Chennai to Bengaluru. Passengers are kindly requested to proceed for boarding’.

The last day at the event for me being a sunday, meant I was required to be back at work on the following day, monday, the 6th of June. It was 10.50 in the morning and I was still at the MAA, Chennai. Due to some reason probably something to do with some other flight being delayed  or something, my flight also got delayed, the reason, I was still at the airport, half asleep, half awake waiting for the queue for boarding to get discounted. Half an hour later, I was on board, another few, we were air borne and  another forty minutes later, I was walking back towards the bus shuttle at BLR, a long schedule in store, ahead.

Chapter 1: Bare beginnings

I was back home on study leave. It was just another day of pouring in books, learning new stuff, when my brother found out about this event team force India was up to. As it so happened, the force india driver academy was on a hunt, a hunt for the next driver. The event was called ‘One from a billion’, where fida planned to bring out the driving talent of the upcoming generation. They had a contest running on their facebook page in search of photographers and blogger to cover their event. So my brother thought it would be a good idea for me give it a try, what’s more there was nothing to lose doing it.

A week or two later, one fine night, I got a call, when I was expecting it the least, for something I hadn’t given the least bit of thought about. Like in most story penned down, the stars looked down upon me, or should I say, the people deciding the winner looked upon my work to be the one. I didn’t know what the contest actually was when I first had applied for it and now, suddenly in the middle of the night, I was made aware of the fact that I was to cover the events taking place in three cities, spanning three weeks, yeah! three long weeks. It dawned upon me that I was a part of the big4 and was currently on leave for my exams. Another leave! I wasn’t sure at all. In answer to my first problem, I was told my part of the event happened to fall after my exams. One down. But it still left the second problem. Leave. I explained my concern to the caller and asked if I could be put on hold for the time being so that I could confirm my leave and get back. Sadly, I found it wasn’t possible and immediate confirmation was required. I wanted to blast the person for calling me at a time when let alone asking for leave, I could just not call any of my superiors. I didn’t do that but told it was quite late and was it possible that we do it tomorrow, again the answer to which was a no. So I ended the call with a is-it-possible-I-get-back-to-you-in-a-while. I tried calling one of my colleagues, but I couldn’t get through. So I decided to take my chance, called the correspondent back and confirmed my attendance.

The following weeks went by in the exam preps, yet the nights always gave time to think about the upcoming. I couldn’t fathom a way of getting through it. Yet I wasnt going to give it away without trying. A week before exams, I sent out a mail to my manager. Checked the mail each day just to find none. Called up a few days later, but the reply that was supposed to come never seemed to have come. The week that followed saw me busy with exams and I came to thinking about the event just a day before my last paper when it was time to pack, since my last paper happened to come on a sunday and I was required back at work on monday.

Cinematic-ally, I decided to check my mail, one last time, for the reply that was supposedly on its way. It so happened that the mail that was on its way had reached me on the immediate next day following my correspondence. Due to some problem in my outlook, I had failed to get it. Problem two solved.

Exams done. I was on the way to Bengaluru all set for the event.