Tuesday, December 6, 2016


The phone rang relentlessly during the wee hours.

“Who is calling?” bit uneasy I picked up, seeing an unknown number.

“Recognize me?”

 “Sorry. I am unable to.” I tried hard. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t remember.

“You once told you can identify my voice in a crowd.”


“Yes. You loser.”

I chuckled. Felt so good to hear from an old friend. “Where are you?”

“Listen I have just come to KL.”

“Idiot, you are telling me now.”

“Am with a tour group. Will stay at Colmar Tropicale till Sunday afternoon. And then we’ll proceed to Kota Kinabalu. Can we meet today?”

“At Colmar?”

“Yes. I will message later in morning. My Freaky Ali wants to go for golf. But I like to catch up, we’ll go for a trek may be. Come please, no excuses.” She hung up.

“Which girl friend is missing you now?” Kuhoo mumbled, half asleep.

“Disha and Rohit have come to KL”.

“Great. Coming here? When?”

“No. They are in a group staying at Colmar Tropicale. Rohit is going for golf in morning. Disha will stay back, wants us to join her.” I told about her plan.

“Ira is coughing. I think I won’t be able to come. Tell them to drop by on their way back from Kota Kinabalu.”

“Alright then.” I went back to sleep.

Mussourie, 2001

I met Disha in August 2001 in Mussourie. Average looks, bit tomboyish, very cheerful. She was part of a scout group that stayed in same hotel where I stayed during Janamastami weekend. In evening the hotel had organized a common bonfire for hotel guests. Scout boys and girls sat and sang there till late. That evening Disha also sang, and sang quite well.

Next day, I saw her again during breakfast. Complimented on her voice and suggested her to record some songs and send for auditions. Later we roamed around Mall Road, Company Garden, Gun Hill etc. And from that day on we have been in touch over e-mails, which became sparser since 2008, around the time she got married.

That Sunday, I realized that behind the aura of an abrupt and cheerful girl, Disha was a very sensitive person. She could see every little thing; she could explain difference between a fir and a pine tree while both appeared like a Christmas tree to me; she knew them by their aromas. She could talk about leaves and flowers and of hills and roads. Of people far up, and of places oblivious to this mad world. And of connection and her ability to carry those connections inside her. And finally of her wish that her heart could always be wheedled, for she always wanted to be happy.

Colmar Tropicale, 2016

I reached Colmar Tropicale around 9.30 AM. Saw Disha waiting near a cafe. She looked chubbier, and a bit fairer.

“You have got mature looks now.” She smiled. “Where is Sher Khan?”

“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure whether that meant I looked too old. “She couldn’t come. She has asked you guys to drop over”.

“OK. I will talk to her.” She said.

“So, how is Dubai?” I started, trying not to appear clumsy.  

“You really want to know that?”

“No. Dubai would know better.” We said together and laughed.

There was a lot to catch up on. We continued to talk as we had breakfast, and then walked around Japanese gardens and Organic farm. Disha had stopped traveling, spent most of her time at home, and visited her local friends and those in India, occasionally. And she’d stopped singing long back. She wasn’t the same person I met 15 years ago.

I blabbered more, while she was thinking or observing. And then she asked.

“What do you like more? The waves or the shore?”

“Depends.” I wasn’t ready for such question. “At times, I will like to ride the waves; and then perhaps, will like to be at the shore.”

“Have you found the shore?” She looked into my eyes.

That got me zapped. Finally I spoke, “No. I am still learning to live through. People and their expectations affect me. Sometimes I do get hurt.”

“So what have you learnt?”

“The waves always find a shore.”

She smiled, her eyes shining. We sat quiet for some time. Later we came to the hotel lobby. Rohit returned around 12.30 PM. After lunch with them, I drove back home.

Disha messaged in evening, “Thanks for everything. Indeed, there are no quick fixes. Just needed some motivation, some reason to continue. Been looking for the shore all the time, now I have a reason to stay with the waves. They will find my shore. See you soon.”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dreams of tomorrow..

The driver cursed the road conditions, municipality officers, and everyone walking on the road as we got stuck in a jam at the old Beadon Street of Kolkata. Ira was sleeping, Adi trying to solve some puzzle in mobile. The cars and bikes honked impatiently, and to make things worse, it started raining. I was looking out of the window.
“Any message from Richard?” Kuhoo asked.
My reply made her more curious. Life hasn’t been easy in recent months. Too much of traveling, turbulence at work, health condition of few dear ones, and my own health didn’t help much. And the onset of autumn, the season that has brought several big changes in my life.
I was traveling back to KL that night. With some reflections on the days in India, and some learnings.
No one is indispensable?
In last two months, I saw a promising guy sacrificing his career to support his ailing father; a doctor deciding not to marry to continue supporting his bed-ridden parents; a dear one passed away, and another who isn’t left with much hope. When I look at their lives, I realize the value of a person, without whom paths of many lives will change forever.
There ‘are’ indispensable people in our lives, in our societies and surrounding establishments. They are everywhere; even in the history books.
Take some risks
Growing up in a competitive environment, fear of failure, social pressure etc. have made many of us habitual risk-averse. We have stopped experimenting, and try to get into a comfort zone as quick as possible.
But actually there is no late age to start anything. And many a time the biggest roadblocks are just thoughts. Surprises could be our best teachers, and how we respond shows our character and resolve.
On my side of the road was a tea shop. There was a lone old man, quite old, nondescript perhaps unwell too, busy in cleaning, arranging his kettles and glasses all by himself. The mud-stove was lit but the empty benches suggested there wasn’t any customer.
When it started raining, he suddenly jumped out of the shop. Stumbled over the water logged drain and somehow avoided the rains falling in the mud-stove. I thought that was unnecessary because he hurt his leg in doing that. Anyway there was no customer, and then an injury could have resulted in shutting his shop and business for few days.
But as quickly as he’d jumped out, he went back to his place and put the kettle on. While I blamed the rain, the old man used that as opportunity. He got four-five customers in people who hid near his shop due to rains.
I couldn’t stop grinning. And there he saw me. He knew I was into his world for some time. He smiled back.
There is a quiet in chaos, a rhythm in disorder. Within indispensability and risks lie the very fabric of life. We cannot be afraid of living. We can not be afraid of our dreams.  
Pic: By Sudhir Gupta