The Examination

During my computer studies at an Institute in Mumbai, I got a membership at the J. N Petit Library which was on the way to Flora fountain/ Hutatma Chowk. My Institute had 2 centres, one at Nariman point and the other one on the ground floor of the same J N Petit library. This made me shuttle between Fort area and Nariman point either on foot or in a bus. Sometimes while going to the classes, I used to take a bus from V. T station and most of the time walking back was criss cross the Oval, Cross and the Azad cricket grounds where I could see some cricketing greats honing their skills.

Before I could complete my project, I got a job as a faculty at a firm which had it’s office in the same area. Now walking sessions were  between the office and the Institute and sometimes a halt at the library. Once I had to appear for a subject paper that I couldn’t attend earlier. Now after many months  I called the Institute and asked for a re-exam option and they said the next week the subject exam was scheduled and we could attend it. I and my friend Nissar, who had also skipped the earlier exam reached the Institute just in time and rushed into our seats and asked for the papers. I guess we were one or two minutes late into the exam.

The professor who hosted the subject exam at Nariman point, Embassy Centre office was a different person. A senior person well into his late fifties, he was highly irritated and asked both of us to stand up. No wonder, as we without asking or consulting him had barged into the room and on to our seats without having the basic courtesy to greet him or even acknowledge that there was a teacher in the room. Such audacious and irresponsible students he had not seen in his entire career. He gave us a good rebuke for 5 long minutes in front of his students. Slowly he calmed down as we stood still patiently hearing without giving any excuses. Finally he asked us both to sit down and write the exam which we did and gave him our answer papers and silently left the Institute. Nissar had to hurry to his Maker Chambers office leaving me alone to walk all the good 3 kms to V. T station or the C.S.T. All the while walking, I was wondering if our actions warranted such a strong rebuke from the professor.

Agreed, we had not greeted him as we walked into the exam nor had we met him earlier to tell him that we were writing his exam. But we had seen in our other exams where students from an earlier batch come silently and write the exam. Yes I was wrong, maybe we should have talked to him or atleast greeted him as we walked in. These thoughts kept me company in my 45 minutes walk back to the C. S. T.

One day, a few months after the above incident,  I climbed the stairs to the Petit library  to return some books and borrow some. I thought of sitting down and read some of the magazines which is when I noticed the professor sitting across the marble topped table. I went to him and sat next to him and wished him a good afternoon. He recognized me immediately from our earlier meeting and was sorry to have been tough on us that day. He was, I gathered, had been with the mainframes division at LIC and was a part time faculty after his retirement. What he told next was this… When I saw you two walking into the room without showing any manners, it reminded me of my son of the same age as yours and I equated your behavior with his. He  doesn’t listen to any of my good advice. So I got angry and I admit I should not have done this to you two, who had come to write the exam. I consoled him saying that boys of our age were like mannered and he had to take it lightly on his son to which he agreed. Finally he said, inspite of all the harsh sounding I gave, you surprised me when you passed with good marks. Yes, I told him in jest, we might lack in manners but our intent to perform well in the exam was strong and could not be dented by his rebuke. We talked for a good thirty minutes before I bid bye to him. This incident taught me two things. Just because the first meeting is a failure doesn’t mean you can’t patch up and be friends the next time you meet. The next learning is, if someone rebukes you there might be other things on the person’s mind that caused him to behave so, and you definitely need to give him or her a second chance…

J. N. Petit Library

The Cursed Pirate

He had always lived the bandit way
and became irate by the day
A ship is what he wanted to be on
how he liked to sail on the high seas
but then his habits came haunting
when he set sights on the treasures
that sailed the seas with men on it.

Once he raided a ship with his buccaneers
full of chests, this one belonged to a King
had always dreamed of, to conquer one
all this shiny wealth would be his, if only,
he could reach home by the green islands
but got cursed by the captain and his crew
who got slaughtered with their cutlasses
thrown to the seas for the waves to bury.

A storm was brewing in the distant sky
it could hit them this week or the next
they all spent drinking the stolen liquor
went into a stupor that lasted many a day
it was when, someone noticed a patch
on his skin which turned into a rumor
they would all overthrow their chief
for the disease would cause havoc
if allowed to run its usual course.

The next day, they started an argument
the pirate was prepared, having noticed
the patch on his skin and their reactions
With his flaming pistol, wrecked them all
before the calamity could strike them
throwing their bodies and guiding the ship
through channels of rocks and great fish.
The storm hit him and his ship for days.
got wrecked when it hit the rocky land
it was an island and he did not despair.

He got occupied carrying the chests
full of gold, silver, emeralds and rubies
buried them in deep holes dug by him
when the job mighty done, was he happy?
the next day, the disease knocked him ration of fresh water and fruits dried up
the curse of the plunder came to haunt
he was rich but the wealth of no use now
his body lay dried in the sun on the rocks
searching for dear water, when all around
it splashed in fury not giving him a drop.

The Open Window

One day, I opened my window
to see children playing below.

But alas, the showers came
the rain god got the blame.

As the sparrows wet in vain
the waters flooded the lane.

The kids roared like insane
while parents took their canes.

They heard their mothers calling
followed by the lightning falling.

This time they yielded with pain
sadly, I shut my window pane.

Pen pals



An Email from a pal in the late 90’s was good enough to start a new friendship.
It was a great feeling to see that new email from your pen friend sitting in your mail or inbox waiting for you to find and read it. You read it not once, but again and again going through the lines which your friend from a distant land had written to you. You would then take the time to draft, review, correct and send a crisp and neat reply back. It was important, as the  strength of the friendship bond depended on your very replies.

In those times, pen pals appeared in books, newspaper columns, chat rooms and on pen pal sites and that was good enough for anyone to start and strike a friendship with one whom you found suitable and who shared your some if not all interests. The profile write up was therefore quite important to let others know who you, as a person was, for them to decide and send you that first reply.

The first few reply mails would decide the conversion ratio and  whether the friendship would last or get lost as fast as it had started. But yes, for the persistent types, those who believed in a good genuine friendship did last whereas some got lost over a few months or a years as the communication dried up due to lack of the initial curiosity or both friends getting lost in their work or personal problems.

Some of these pals disappeared into oblivion and it was neither yours nor their fault. I always believed, out there in the world, there are people who get close to you in different periods of time, get friendly, share your joys and sorrows and then leave so as to give the same joy and sharing to others in solitude and pining for friendship. You would have new ones come into your lonely life and the saga continued. In those days, you never thought you would meet any of your pals in person and this thought rarely came to mind, as distant pals were like stars in the sky waiting to give you glow and warmth in your journey of life…

On an ending note, I was fortunate enough to meet a few of my not so distant star pals over a pen palling period of 20 years. 

Christmas Greetings

The chill with the winter is here,

the holidays are back to rejoice

time to go on a shopping spree?

and what would you dear like

now that Christmas is here again.

Is  it difficult to make a choice

would you buy a red robe, a hat

this time as a sweet year ends

indulge in those cute presents

for a poor kid on the street

to whom Santa is a distant dream

that I would like you to fulfill…

Wishing all my dear readers, Happy Holidays, a great Christmas and a Happy New Year ready to unfold into our lives!

Who is my friend

Naina and Saini were classmates at school. Saini was an extrovert and had a lot of friends while Naina, an introvert had a couple of friendships. The few who came into Naina’s lives were taken over slowly into Saini’s circle of friends by his charm and way of talking.

Most of the time Naina was alone. She was tired of such friends who abandoned her and never understood her. She told this to her mother who was always seen praying and talking to Krishna. She also observed that her mother was always happy and cheerful unlike her. Her mother told her why don’t you be friends with krishna. He won’t abandon you like your other friends.

Naina also got into the habit of talking to the Krishna idol at home, bedecked him every morning with flowers and like her mother always assumed that Krishna was always beside her and talked to him often. Whenever she saw something, she would point it out to the invisible friend. Whenever she ate something she took his name in the first bite and surrendered the first morsel to him.

While she was sad, she sulked in bed and talked to him and it went on and on and they became close friends. One fine day as she rode on her bicycle, she felt someone was sitting next to her. Who is it, she asked, why it is me, your Krishna, I thought of coming to school with you. These days her school friends had kept a distance since she was always seen smiling, murmuring to an invisible person. One teacher had even called her parents to consult a psychologist but her mother who had come for the meeting smiled at the teachers observations. How difficult it was to carry on in today’s world if one was in divine company, she thought.

When Naina arrived at the school on the annual sports day , they saw a boy walking with her all the time Naina looked at his funny traditional costume. Now there, Krishna teased her, don’t judge me by my attire. He looked smart no doubt, Naina thought. The teachers inquired about her friend as the boy looked somewhat mysterious but cute. Why he is my friend Krishna who stays with me,she said tightly holding onto his hand. Is he your cousin. No it must be her brother, they were answering their own questions. The school principal also had taken a liking to the young boy while he briefly met them. Everyone was jostling for his attention.

As was his habit, Saini was not to be left behind. A hand fell on Krishna’s shoulder, Hello, this is Saini, can we be friends was how he initiated the conversation. Why not, said a smiling Krishna but on one condition. What is that? Your friends will be my friends too, please introduce them to me. Saini had no other choice but to call all his friends and ask them to stand in a queue. Each of Saini and Naina’s friends stood patiently to meet and greet Naina’s friend. At every handshake of Krishna who was holding Naina’s hand and seeing him smile made each of them die hard fans of Krishna. Like a needle drawn to a magnet, each of them surrounded him and Naina. Saini trying to take control of the proceedings, came closer and said, we will be great friends and tried to take Krishna and the gathering with him. But somehow Krishna stood rooted where Naina stood and only moved when she moved.

He was tired as he could not wean Krishna away from Naina till noon that day. There is always time, he thought. He could offer him some presents, show him his sporting skills. He participated in many events and won many presents and gifted some to Krishna who took one and gave the rest back. The other friends of Naina also coaxed her to request Krishna to accept presents from them. On the whole Naina’s Krishna had transformed and energised the proceedings of the day. Most of the sporting events had got over. There was the elocution event where many participants gave their well rehearsed speech to the joy of others and the teachers.

It was Naina’s turn to give her speech and the title was ‘ Who is My friend’. But she was feeling tired and not well after the overwhelming reception she got the whole day. Moreover the negative speech she had prepared was in contrast to all the love she got, so she along with Krishna went to her English teacher Miss Sati and told that she won’t be contesting. To Sati Miss’s surprise, the smiling Krishna asked if he could speak on behalf of Naina. She looked back at the other judges and the principal who expressed their willingness for Krishna to speak.

Everyone with baited breath looked at the traditionally dressed Krishna climb up the stairs, salute all the teachers present on the dias before bowing down to the crowd of students who were cheering him to start.

Respected teachers and dear friends. I am glad to have got the chance to speak about friendship here as it is one divine relationship that binds each one of us to our friends. True friends acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each other. They know what is good, what is right, which is the best time to talk, and to listen. They give and take respect. In friendship, no one is small or big, strong or weak, rich or poor, everyone is at the same level when friends speak to each other. No religion, no country, no position, no birth is a hurdle when true friends speak to each other. Each one is proud of their friend. So then comes the question, who is your friend.

The friend who listens to you in happiness or sorrow is your friend. The friend who guides when you are wrong and steers you when you are on the right path is your friend. A friend who never asks you for support but ignites in you a desire to help is a true one. A friend who loves you for getting known among others is the one you should cherish friendship with. You should not accumulate friends just for numbers sake, for everyone is not fortunate or a king to help in case they need your help. So all of your friends in life fall into several categories. The so called close circle, the outer circle, the peripheral friends and so on. As years go by, some in your closed circle may migrate to the outer circle and periphery and vice versa. But we should keep their memories afresh as they might walk in back and forth in your circles. And to welcome them back into your lives after their worldly rotations, we need good memories, and therefore be a good friend as long you meet for the world is a small place that you keep bumping into your friends time and again and you may not want to shy away because of bad memories. Memories is what we live for and give back to the world… And everyone will cherish and share your memories whether you are here or up there. I will let this speech ring in your minds as in this age, this is the right time to foster great friendships.

Saying this amidst great applause Krishna came down the stairs and left for home with Naina promising her that from now on she too will have a good set of friends so that she won’t have to come to him now and again. When you are grey haired, I will remind you of our friendship and I will come back to your set of close friends…

Love filled landing

After a mighty tired me came down

the stairs of a plane, one fine morning

I lazily looked around at the passengers

coming at the starboard side when

my gaze fell upon a beautiful person who

was stepping down with measured grace

I was spellbound, starstruck, you name it

We both queued up to get into a waiting bus

which would get us together to the terminal

It was crowded as every one of us wanted

not me to be the first at the immigration

I had barely standing space on one leg

My balance went precarious finding her

was I surprised when both our hands

reached for the handles set by the love god

Our eyes met and mirrored each other

We were the last to reach the terminal

While we briefly chatted and chirped

falling now and then into a shy filled swoon

she was surprised if a guy can fall so soon

The voice, the charm, the gait, the face

All fell into sweet place for me to gaze

We bid bye to our best forgotten lives

soon after we chanced upon a cab

I had met a caring person with whom

My life would be well spent sharing…