Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Never heard it said better.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
From 1 Corinthians 13
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Somewhere along the way, we all see - that it's not the world that is unfair to you, it's not people, it's not yourself - that's just how it is. No one's life is perfect. That trying to feel happier is not the answer sometimes - it is to be happy with the way you feel. That friends you're hardly in touch with are as much a part of your life as those you always talk to. And that when you learn to let go of the past, the future looks a lot more peaceful.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
DB, Tunisian - My kid's six months old now. No, my husband doesn't work - my job's enough for the both of us now. Someone has to stay home and take care of our baby.
AE, Saudi - You're not getting married for another two years? That's too long, man! I'm getting married in two months - can't wait! No more cleaning rooms, ironing clothes, cooking meals - you get someone to do it all for you!
AR, Indian - Oh well, it's one thing whether your husband says it up to you whether you still want to work after getting married. I wouldn't want to get married to someone who feels its OK to give up my job and relocate where he is if it's OK with me. Doesn't that mean he pretty much doesn't care?
MB, Sudanese - It's really tough to manage women, my friend! Before they get married they seem accomodating and understanding. And then once you're married, suddenly there's this big career complex - about who's working and why there should be any sacrifice on either side. And then a kid comes along - and complicates matters even more!
FF, Omani - Nah, it's really not fair to ask her to quit her job and come here to Saudi. What's she going to do here? If I don't get a transfer out of here I'll probably just quit this job and take up a peaceful government job somewhere in my little town.
1. I made this post the way it is to bring out one thing I realized - people's views on feminism are part of the life they've seen growing up, part of their culture and tradition. As cultures and traditions change, so do these views. However, I can never claim that one person's view is the entire country's view - they're not even a sample space. And while you have your own view, to some extent all of us are influenced by what people who are part of this sample space think.
2. All these lines are from real-life conversations - none of them are made up. :)
3. FF is now happily married and settled in Oman, running a private business with a few of his pals. His wife is a computer engineer.
This one at the safety induction tells you that time is important, but more important than time is safety:
There is no work so urgent or important that we can't take the time to do it safely.
I saw this one on a rig floor - encouraging you never to be shy when you have a question:
When in doubt - ASK. The only wrong question is the one you did not ask.
Of course some are great sources of entertainment - like this one which tells you to smoke only in designated areas.
Please do not smoke in here. Smoke is the waste left behind from your cigarette. You know what I leave behind after I drink water? How would you like it if I stood on top of you and pissed all over you? Respect my preference like I respect yours.
Of course no one really cares about swearing or cursing here. Why else would you see this in the main office?
How about a nice big cup of Shut the F*** Up? THINK before you say something stupid.
And then finally there is that sign which makes you think that inspite of all the safety they're promoting, there's always one sign too many. One that makes it seem like you're three years old and/or retarded. Like this one posted 35 feet above the ground on the rig floor:
Do not jump. Use stairs.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
But the truth is that in the satisfaction of being able to afford - your dream car, a birthday gift, an expensive dinner - you find your happiness.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
On the taxi back home I have pleasant thoughts - wake up really late, a visit to town, a little pending shopping, cooking the next evening. Office - well, maybe for a couple of hours in between.
Life's different at 7 am the next morning. I wake up red-eyed to a ringing cell phone. Ali H. I curse loudly. I'm pretty sure I know why I've been woken up so early. And sure enough - another job, and leaving in a couple of hours. I'm PISSED. All in caps. Pissed through getting ready, through the short trip to office, through the three hour taxi ride to the heliport, through the half hour chopper ride offshore.
But then it ends there. Going down after checking in at the radio room, I join Thamer and Hussain who got there four days ago - guys who've been fasting almost fourteen hours a day, every day for the past one month, in preparation of their biggest festival of the year. Fasting - without food or water - when back in town, when at office, or when working on the rig floor in the middle of summer. And at the end the only thing they really want is to celebrate Eid with their families. They're not complaining though.
I don't prepare a tenth as much for Christmas. And yet I never learn to shut up. :)
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sometime in 1986
We're both at our grandparents place, digging tunnels in the pile of sand that's in the backyard. We started at opposite ends of the pile, and the objective is to make the tunnel pass across the pile so we can reach through it and shake hands with each other. "Oh mom was telling me that to be twins, you've got to be born on the same day." "What! That means we're not - " "Yeah! Can you believe that! She says you have to have the same parents also!" After a moment's disappointed silence, we get back to digging our cave.
Summer of 1989
"Yuck, throw properly for once! Look at where the ball has gone - go get it!" I pause at the edge of the stone steps, looking at the mess of mud, twigs, fallen leaves and fruits that lie heavily on the path ahead. I gingerly take a step forward and jump back with an Ouch! "I've got nothing on my feet!"
"Oh come on already!" In half a minute Matt has sprinted across the path and back in his bare feet, and we're playing Catch again.
Christmas Holidays 1994
"Hah! Gotcha!" Matt holds up the ball triumphantly. I'm as usual the horrible sportsman. "No! Didn't it bounce off the wall? I saw it!" Matt looks at me in disbelief. "You're joking, right?" He throws the ball up and catches it in his other hand. "No! You caught it off the first bounce!" (shamelessly persistent). Matt smiles. "Right." He shakes his head disapprovingly as he goes back to bowl.
Both of us are sitting across a table in the hostel common room. "I hate this section in Math! How the hell do you find the distance of this line from the z-axis!" "Oh I can tell you that! But you tell me how to integrate this thing first."
As we're working on our sums, our friend walks in. "Hey, Nitin and I were thinking about starting another round of 28. You guys want to join us?" We look at each other and drop our pens.
So much for 3-D geometry.
Dec 31, 2007
"I'm thinking I should give the ticket checker guy some money. I need an AC seat!" "Dude, it's like a three hour ride - and it's not that hot!" We hug goodbye. Towards midnight Matt calls to tell me he's got back safely. "Oh and hey I got that AC seat halfway through the trip!" I shake my head and smile.
Given how infrequently we talk to each other, with Matt, I never really feel out of touch.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
It's surprising how attached you can get to some things, and how much you end up loving them even though they are long past throw-away time. This one for me is a reminder of a wonderful year. Of running behind crowded Bangalore buses to make it in time for those weekend meetups. Of standing outside a theater on MG for a Rs. 50 front-stall ticket. Of Chinese food at a little restaurant on the first floor. Of aimless walks down the main roads. Of getting wet in the rain. Of daily trips to the office holding a newspaper in one hand and a water bottle in the other. Of strawberry smoothies and chocolate fantasies in the cafe below. Of walking through malls buying nothing, eating something, talking everything. Of sitting on bikes that don't belong to you. Of rickshaw rides that cost the earth. Of one-day trips that never cost the earth. Of early mornings at the bus station. Of ice creams and milkshakes.
And among all this, of someone who taught me that no matter how you felt yesterday, or how you will feel tomorrow, all that's important in your life is the way you're feeling - right now.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Aravind picks her up and dips her into the pool. "Close your mouth. Close your mouth!" That's his I'm-going-to-dip-you-into-the-pool line. Vandana resurfaces gasping for breath. "I got water in my nose!" she whines a little. She runs up the pool steps and stands on the shore. "Enough for today sir!" She whines again. "No problem... no problem Vandana!" Aravind assures her.
Yesterday, ten days from when she first joined, Vandana is bursting with love for water. Aravind holds her high above the water at the 6-feet edge of the pool and throws her in. "Swim Vandana, swim!" he shouts from the edge. Vandana is off like a bullet. Five seconds later she's covered the breadth of the pool. "Let me jump again sir!" she screams, her eyes twinkling with excitement.
For me, who still needs every muscle working to death to swim three-quarters the length of the pool, 3-year old Vandana is my superhero.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
"Rads! Guess who's calling?"
For a few seconds he hears nothing on the other end. "O my God! Roy?" Rads was almost screaming "I don't even remember when I talked to you last, it's been so long! When did you get back from Singapore?"
"Back home on a short break now. Thought I'd give you a call... remember how inseparable we used to be?"
"Mm." Rads is thoughtful "That was a long time ago."
"I guess. So what have you been up to? Weren't you trying for that job in Singapore? You should absolutely come there. We can have so much fun."
"Yea... I'm not too sure though... getting kind of cozily comfortable in Mumbai. You got something for me?" Rads laughs weakly. Suddenly the conversation feels a little heavy. She rests her forhead in the palm of her hand.
"Is something wrong Rads? You sound a little tired"
What makes your closest friends fade out with time? Why do they always say a long-distance relationship is so difficult to survive? Is it that love fades out with time? Or is it that people change with time and you feel uncomfortable with this change? Probably the two of you haven't changed at all. Maybe some of us find it easier to "move on", find closer friends and learn to relate to them better. While for some others, those closest to us are those relationships we made three years ago. Is it that in all the closeness we share, we don't understand this about each other?
"I'm all right Roy. Can we catch up over lunch someday?"
Rads's lips broaden in a faint smile. Sometimes in failing to understand others, you understand yourself so much better.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
About half an hour later, Anil returned. "Joseph Chettan is here. He's from your same place, he said he'd like to meet you." I wasn't in much of a tearing hurry anyway. For the next twenty minutes or so we talked about things I now associate with every Malayali acquaintance - Where in Kerala are you from?, How many siblings do you have?, When did you last visit home?, Do you plan to get married soon?, Politics there are a bitch, eh? - among tons of others.
Joseph is in his early forties, he is the man in charge of bringing food supplies to the rig. He would drive his pickup three hundred kilometers, bringing in fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, meat and poultry for those three-course meals everyday. Anil, in his mid-thirties, is the chief electrician at the rig, had what is to me one of the most dangerous everyday jobs - everything concerning power, high voltage, anything that could go Boom! in your face the next minute. I was the youngest of the three, pretty much a rookie at my work on the rig floor compared to the other two.
In those twenty minutes no one talked to me like I was a kid, and I didn't think much about how old they were either. We were among those million other Mallus in the "Gulf", talking and laughing and glad to have met each other at one of life's crossroads. "I get off next week. Back home for five weeks!" Anil says with a broad smile, "Excited to be seeing my family again. They're the ones who you work so much for, right?"
"They're the ones." Joseph and I agree, and the three of us smile faintly at each other. In the middle of the Nuayyim desert under the moonlit sky, we share a brief moment of brotherhood - separated miles in the work we do but united by that common purpose.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
It's a tough search. One that involves disappointments, expectations, dependence, misunderstandings and miscalculations. The answers to many questions in your life are not that difficult. When you tell someone your problem, you don't expect them to provide a solution. You can usually do that yourself. No, you expect them to share the way you feel. When you cry, you want them to cry with you. When you think, you want them to think with you. You're not trying to set everything right, you're only trying to share everything that's wrong.
It can surprise you where you find that answer. Maybe in a dusty old photo album under your stairs. Maybe in the squeaky red sandals your roomate wore to school. Maybe in a land far far away. Maybe in turning the pages of your favourite book for the hundredth time.
Some friends can never really be described. Simply because everytime you try to, you can't believe how lucky you got.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
And then a little girl, four feet tall, hair plaited, nail colour cracked, with a thin and inadequate-looking brown sweater wrapped around her, standing at the gates. In her hands she held a bunch of roses and a faded white plastic cover with something-TEXTILES printed on it. Under the bright streetlight, the weight of the building in front of her made her seem smaller than the little thing she was, the darkness of the evening making it way past the bedtime of any other child her age.
"Bhaiyya, buy a rose please." We looked at each other and then at her. "How much for one?" I asked. She streched out the bunch to me. "Buy them all no bhaiyya, then I can go home also." There was something in her voice that melted our hearts. "OK, how much for all of them?" We smiled at her. Her eyes suddenly lit up, the prospect of an early trip back home and the warmth and joy of sleep suddenly in front of her.
"One, two, three..." we watched her count every rose to the end "... eighteen. One rose is ten rupees... so eighteen... umm... (frantic calculation with her fingers lest us prospective customers lose interest and walk away)... 180 rupees bhaiyya." She thrust them out to us as we handed her the money. "Thank you bhaiyya!" There was no scream of joy in her voice, no childish reaction of having finished the day early, but we sensed the gratitude. In that one impulsive moment I wanted to lift her up and swirl her above the top of my head, and hear her laugh out loud with nothing holding back her five or six years.
I didn't do that, but in the next half an hour of a rickshaw ride back home, with the eighteen pink roses clutched in one of our hands, we both knew it was the perfect end to the best day we'd had in almost two years.