Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lunch Nostalgia

I went up the familiar vendor in the cafeteria and stood in line , thinking about the meeting I had to rush to afterwards. 'Two soft tacos as usual' . I said 'and No meat' ,I added as an afterthought. I looked around and found an empty table for myself.  As I looked out of the fourth floor window into the snow covered grounds, I was struck by a wave of nostalgia .

I remembered the school lunches , where it was a race as to who would finish eating first and rush out to play catch catch , police and thief, run and touch the coconut tree and so on.

I remembered the lunch breaks in high school and 12th grade where we would gather around a cycle shed , post lunch , gossiping , and planning mischief until the rendezvous point had to be abandoned because of an allegation that we punctured the tyre of a teacher's son's bike.

In to my mind came the lunch times in college , where we would go out to the canteen to buy a vada or sit for hours at stretch at the Indian coffee house with just a coffee or a lime juice. And the awesome times we had at birthday treats where you gorged like you'd never seen food before and then with out batting an eyelid gave the name of the rival college , when some disgruntled restaurant owners asked us where we were from.

At Infosys , my first company , we had a small gang of friends who always had lunch together despite being in different projects and located all over the huge sprawling campus. As more people got busy with personal lives , the number in the gang dwindled , but the ones who remained followed the request acknowledge mechanism using emails and missed calls to have lunch together wasting minimum time.

As life took me through different jobs and different places , lunches became more of a time of introspection . A time to be with myself in my busy schedule. No missed calls told me that it was time to have food any more. My current routine was to rush to the canteen , usually minutes before they closed , get my usual food and find an empty table overlooking the window.

Wistfully , I longed for those lunch times when there was laughter and fun and jokes on the table alongside food. And friends to share them with.  I was jolted back into reality by the phone of the person at a nearby table and as I rushed through the rest of  my meal , I made a mental note to myself to call some of my friends from school soon.

I hope this time , it will not buried once again in the continuous monotony of life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Out of this World

Amber was walking aimlessly along a narrow winding path to a beach. There had been nothing other than discussions of Armageddon and world end all day. She was tired of it all. "What if the world ended ? Would she really care? Should she confess her love to him before it was too late? Now , that's stupid." She chided herself. "What if I told him and the world did not end. His ridicule would be the end of the world in itself." She walked on., as a storm prepared to brew overhead.

Shekar was working on a top secret mission at NASA. It needed only one more approval. The space craft was ready to take off into the outer space. At the first sign of catastrophe , it would take off and orbit the solar system . The name on the space shuttle read 'Noah's ark'. "Are you ready for adventure?" He asked his  young friends. They nodded.
Adam was working at his usual shift in the meteorological department. They had seen a number of weird things going on this past week . Flash floods, Tsunamis , Torrential rains, large blocks of ice floating around in oceans. Enough and more for a panic reaction if the public came to know. But he wasn't sure if all these were some weird climatic aberration that would go away (may be not without claiming thousands of lives) or something more sinister that would destroy everything in its path wiping out life from the entire planet. Suddenly his face drained of all color as he watched the blood red alert dots spreading across the map on his screen.

Samuel suddenly realized he was not reading a word of the book in front of him. His thoughts had wandered off in a tangent from when he read that word 'Amber' scribbled across the page footer. May be he should put an end to her suspense. He thought of how he had tormented her , kept her waiting ,secretly rejoicing in the fact that she loved him. He didn't for a moment believe in the rumors of world ending. That was just another myth invented by worthless people. He tried to call her on her cell phone and got her voice message instead.The phone connections are bad in Hawaii. He thought wryly. At that moment , a television weather alert caught his attention.

In another dimension, two scientists in lab coats were watching the clock. It could be called a clock only in the sense it showed a measure of time. Other than that it was another piece of sophisticated lab equipment. One of them looked into the microscope and sighed,

"You know , there is a panic reaction down there. "
"Yeah , this was bound to happen when we experiment with intelligent beings. "

"Is it time yet?"
"On count of three ", said the other.

On count of three the experiment container was destroyed.

"Too bad this one got itself into this state and couldn't be repaired. It will take millions of years to get one half as good. "
"Not if the Noah's Ark makes it to the new culture.I'm 99.9% sure it would ".
" I have to admit that it was a brilliant plan".
The two men exchanged smiles and walked out of the laboratory.

10, 9, 8 ,7, 6,5,4,3,2,1,0 ... Blast Off..
Noah's Ark flew into the orbit taking with it animals , plants and four children specially chosen for the task.The color of their skin or the language they spoke did not matter any more. They were the future of the world. The only future.


P.S : I started writing this in December when the world was rumored to end .. This write is totally fiction and any I categorically deny any involvement with Aliens or  Mayans or Mad scientists for that matter.

P.P.S : After I wrote the story , I found that there is a book called Noah's Ark Rocket by Tony Frais. I have to read it now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Parenting - in the Super Hero age

I ran up and down the store calling out his name aloud , all sorts of horrible images of missing children and  kidnappers to accidents floating in my mind. Just as I stopped for breath , I heard a familiar laugh from behind a huge aisle of clearance apparel .
"You can't find me , You can't find me!"

"Mom , I was hiding here" , he crooned as I hugged him close , while still pretending to be angry with him for the scare he had caused me.

Later , safe at home , I started a discussion with him about the dangers of going off by himself in public places.

" Darling , you should not go off by yourself in stores. You might get lost."

" Lost? I won't get lost. I was only hiding..Playing hide n Seek. It is so much fun in the store."

" But what if you hide somewhere , and I can't find you?"

" Hmm..But I know you'll find me. You always find me when I hide."

"What if somebody takes you way, you know , like bad guys?"

He thought for  a while ,before saying in a whisper

 "You mean real bad  guys might attack me? "

I nodded.

He looked really serious for a while and I thought he had got the gist of what I wanted to say. Then he piped up with a smile on his face.

"When real bad guys come and catch me , Spider Man will shoot webs and rescue me. "

I thought really hard what to say to this. I couldn't very well say that his idol doesn't exist. Not when that's the one hero who is omnipresent in all his personal belongings.

Cautiously I started

"But , my dear , Spider Man is in New York city , and we are very far from there. Even if he wanted to save you , he would have to first book a flight , and fly for 3 hours before he can reach here and fight the bad guys ."
and slowly looked at him to see if my words had hit their mark.

He seemed lost in thought as he realized the gravity of the situation.

Then he looked down at his Spider Man t-shirt and excitedly shouted :
"I have a Spider Man shirt, I can shoot web from my gloves and get away from the bad guys.. Can't I Mommy? And I ate all my veggies today and am really really strong."

I could only laugh helplessly till my sides ached and hug him tight , as I said,

"That's all true , but you have to stay with me so you can save me from the bad guys too , if they come? Will you?"

And he agreed.