Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Need to think hard … or hardly think

When subtleties of life are overpowered, it usually leaves a feeling of dejection.

At no point of time a writer’s voice is less challenged than the time when the mind is in introspection. A deep thinking may be, or be with an urge to come out with a dialogue between the soul and the self, deep within.

Usually the time frame is not something I worry about. There’s no deadline of thoughts, in deep thinking, if ever it was the prerogative of an idle mind. It can be months, years or even decades of soul-searching looking for that conscious reason to explore.

Is there an end to exploring the niceties of nature? Is there some conclusion in exploring the human mind?

There is this need to continue, and the sense of continuity brings forth a feeling of exploration … a sense of continuum. I am no writer, but my thoughts still flow in that direction.

A nice breeze sometimes forces itself into my living room. The curtains get ruffled, and the freshness of purity seeps in for a trivial moment.

My soul feels blessed, by nature, at least. For some tormented minds, blessing has a literal meaning … naturally, I feel it. To that end, the soothing breeze breathes continuity into my thoughts … albeit with some freshness.

I see compatriots get into print, some ideas half-cooked, others craving for attention. Writing nowadays has become a ‘profession’, I hated that word when it compelled me to a workplace with defined dictum of decency and scrutiny. A profession can’t always be the sanctity of work, these days the lure of the penny makes it attractive.

Only day before yesterday, I was breathing through some pages in one corner of the Crossword store. I fathomed through the ordeals of Anne Frank, some moments in Gandhi’s colossal work in My Experiments with Truth. They still seemed so real, the content so ideally merged with the continuum of thought.

Writers are not born, they are gifted with the art of expressing through written words.

May be.

On another aisle, contemporary creations desperately asking for a ‘peep out’. Mostly bloggers, some are not even a year or two old, writing their stories. The tantalizing, salacious, transparent real life stories of our times.

Over these years, I have developed a sense not to criticize any writing. All writing is normal, I feel, while some are productive.

If a Crossword can have the twain meet, why does the society deprive to think? I speak to myself … where has the soul in writing gone? Or is it very much there, hidden for people like me to find out. They play hide and seek, like those immortal pages from the holocaust days … straight from the pens of Anne Frank.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two Bengali Women and the Volcano

Clouds were getting ominous from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano in Iceland.

I was watching the breaking news of a leading television channel. No wonder my mind was somewhere else. Unknown to many, two of my friends were caught unaware traveling from two opposite sides of this planet. European airspace was closed, and all flights traveling were cancelled.

Both were professional women, traveling alone … and coincidentally both originate from Bengal.

While Gopa was preparing to go to France for her project, Sreemati was coming back to India from Germany. She had spent a great time with her husband who has been stationed near Berlin for some time now. Sreemati is from my team, and had to join work. Gopa is a friend I have known for some years now, mostly through my literary pursuits.

What was unknown, however, was the fate of their immediate travel.

Interestingly, these beautiful souls were grounded for the same reason. I kept thinking … Intriguing yet such a queer coincidence, isn’t it?

Gopa’s project was getting painful at Kolkata with every passing day making her spend late nights at work. Her Project Manager in Bangalore was helpless, unable to control the increasing workload put on her. The client wanted her in France, at the earliest possible. Even the flight tickets were booked in advance so that she could escape this drudgery in her homeland.

She wanted peace of mind … working at onsite with her friendly clients.

Sreemati’s case was different. She was bored staying alone in Pune without her husband for six months. This happens naturally, having been married for just about a year. The longing took her to a trip of Germany, Greece and Spain … with her beloved. Fun times, romantic times … and finally, the need to come back home.

Little needs of life, the work … the longing to keep the so-called ‘flow of income’.

But a volcano came from nowhere to cancel their travel plans.

An upset Gopa called the travel desk frantically on the evening of Saturday. No response. An alternative was to take the number for the vendor company’s emergency desk that arranged foreign travel. These calls are exorbitantly charged, yet Gopa wanted to inform them about her cancelled flight and a further request to re-schedule the trip.

I knew Gopa was a brave woman, but facing the volcano, she appeared vulnerable.
She called me the next day, and was in no mood to understand that the actual travel can happen only after the airspace was cleared. After some talk, she appeared given up, unable to understand why it was only her that had to bear this. Her superiors in work were also silent, unable to really challenge the nature. A date for the trip appeared so difficult.

Next Wednesday Sreemati was to be in office. A mail from her lay in my mailbox on Thursday morning. She had her flights cancelled too … and that there was little that she can avail to come back. May be the next weekend, or even longer, she mentioned half-heartedly.

Meanwhile, Sreemati had booked a bus from Greece on her way to Serbia with the hope of getting some airline to take her home. The anxious husband wanted to accompany her, but she thought it could cost him undue leave at the client location. She took it alone. The bus trip was hectic, and the region unknown. What was being challenged was Sreemati’s determination to be back in India and join work, as early as possible.

When the Serbian police started to interrogate her, she was still hopeful. But those men were sure about the need to satisfy immigration laws. Sreemati wasn’t shy to face immigration, but she was restless to get aboard the airplane. The Serbian authorities denied her entry to their land, and promptly asked her to return to Germany.

As soon as the bus entered Berlin, she could feel a wet droplet near her eyes. It had come out, unknowingly, out of the whole chaos this volcano had created. She comforted herself as her husband hugged her as soon as she got off the bus, and promised to take her to the nearest flight reservation office in the afternoon.

Good luck appeared soon. The airlines industry started to face the wrath of depleted revenues. Already a week had passed, and there was almost zero traffic on air.

Partial airspace was opened up. There were some tickets available with major carriers, but with a hefty price tag. There was no way Sreemati could wait. She managed to get a flight to Mumbai.

Gopa also got a ticket. At least happy at last, even thanking for the little encouragement that I tried to give.

I wished Gopa ‘Bon Voyage’ … may be I could always say that to her. But this trip was vital.

The next Monday, I was surprised to see Sreemati beaming at me from her desk. On asking how could she finally manage to come back, her reply was

‘That’s a long story … will tell you some other day’.

She never told me the trauma that she went through, but I felt it in every little sentence that she spoke about her travel back to her homeland.