Saturday, 24 February 2018

Ruby Emerald

** Dedicated to my friends **

Chapter 1 – The Emerald Merchant

December 1
Wah Wah Mountains, Utah, United States of America
‘You know why they call it the Red Emerald?’ asked Meena Kumari as she sat under the shade, sipping margarita with a straw, wearing a white cowgirl hat. 
‘No, do you?’ he asked.
She took off her coolers, looked at him and said, ‘why would I bring that question if I am not aware of the answer?’ She put on her coolers, leaned back, and said as she enjoyed sipping the left-over margarita, ‘because Emerald is greenish in nature and it belongs to the Beryl family. As Bixbite,’ she made a quote, unquote gesture here and continued, ‘is a part of the Beryl family and as it is reddish in nature, they call it Red Emerald.’ 
‘Hmmm, and why is it branded as,’ he made a quote, unquote gesture and continued, ‘the precious and rare gem of this Planet?’ 
She leaned forward and said as she placed the margarita aside, ‘now that’s an excellent question. Firstly, Bixbite is found only in two places on Earth – here and in the Black Range of New Mexico. Secondly, it is so rare that for every 150,000 gem-quality diamonds that are discovered only one bixbite is found. When cut, it is estimated to cost $10,000 per carat.’ 
‘Whoa! That would be like 0.2 grams. So, if we gather, say 1 gram of bixbite, we get to earn $50,000. That’s a huge amount,’ he said.
Meena Kumari threw a funny look at him and said, ‘1 gram? You’re not even close. Dude, we’re estimating close to 40 grams!’ 
‘That would be 200 carat which estimates to $2000000. Whoa! You’re saying we hit a jackpot?’ he asked. 
‘Yes,’ she stood up and said, ‘now, be a dear and get me another margarita,’ and she walked away to supervise the mining activity.

Amidst the heavy digging noise, Meena Kumari did not notice her cell phone ringing. There were three missed calls and those were from India. It was none other than her beloved friend Keerthana. After supervising the mining activity for a while, Meena Kumari went back to the base to grab her second glass of margarita. That’s when she noticed the missed calls. As she was about to dial her friend, she got the fourth call from Keerthana. 

‘Yello!’ said Meena Kumari.
‘Hey Meena, you’re not going to believe what I’m about to say,’ it was Keerthana’s enthusiastic voice from the other end. 
‘Well, that depends on what you’re going to say. Go on,’ said Meena Kumari. 
‘You know what? I’ve been elected as the Councillor of my area,’ 
‘Well, you were right. I’m not going to believe what you said.’
‘Come on, it’s not the time to joke. It’s time to celebrate,’ 
Meena Kumari gazed at the glass of margarita she held in her other hand and sighed ‘duh!’ She then continued on the phone, ‘alright, I’m going to bring you some gifts when I come back to India.’ She gulped down the margarita and said, ‘you can probably expect me in the next three days,’ and hung up the call.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

You're hired!

In case you're wondering, this article is all about the 'ridiculous-yet-mandated' phase of the Indian guys aged between 26-32, and that's called 'The Arranged Marriage'. I would define arranged marriage as a process that is purely linked to the age, job status, savings and assets of an individual which is forced upon him/her by the parents just for the sake of satisfying the needs of the society in order to live a guilt-free life. Trust me, this is exactly what is happening over the decades and the situation has worsened in the recent times. Increase in inflation and interest rates had a huge influence on the supply and demand. As we all are aware that the price of a commodity is determined by the interaction of supply and demand in a market, the same principle is applied here. You might be wondering what the hell arranged marriage has to do with the economics, but trust me, my friend, arranged marriage has nowadays turned into a 'business deal'. 

Let me walk you through what happened during my first meetup. Not so long ago, I was brainwashed by my parents and they got me agreed to meet a girl, who was a complete stranger to me. Not that I hate girls, I don't really understand the logic behind arranged marriages. Still, I was a little excited as it was my first experience and I wanted to endure it. I, along with my parents and grandparents (I know that sounds weird), was there at the bride's house. After minutes of being in a state of discomfort, I was finally made to talk one-on-one with the girl. The conversation went like this, 

Me: Hello! 
Stranger girl: *smiles and doesn't respond anything*
Me: *before I could speak, she interrupted*
Stranger girl: What's your take-home salary?
Me: *gave a stunned look and answered the question*
Stranger girl: Hmmm, well, what will be the hike in your salary you are expecting from your current organization the forthcoming year?
Me: *i was a little frustrated yet answered the question*
Stranger girl: Are you willing to relocate if everything goes well?

My frustration turned into irritation that reached its level of saturation. I literally felt like I was attending some final level HR interview seeking a job at a CMMI level 5 company (to be honest, that would've been way easier and less frustrating experience). There's a saying that goes like 'first impression is the best impression' and my first impression towards arranged marriage was completely ruined. But, this experience didn't let me down or made me feel terrible, instead, it made me analyze what went wrong with the process that was supposed to be fun and exciting turned into an utterly frustrating event. Upon further analyzing, I found it fascinating that how most of the things in the universe are interconnected with each other - like arranged marriages and job interview process. 

Before getting further into the explanation, here is the categorization of the parties involved in the process of arranged marriage and their link to the job interview process. 

Marriage Bureau Agents - Job Consultants
Bride's Parents - Human Resource Managers
Bride - Project Manager
Bride's Uncle, Elder Brother or Sister - Interview panelists
Bride's Grandparents - On-site or offshore client

Friday, 29 April 2016

Hong Kong Layover

April 12th - CX 632 delayed by 3 hours.
April 13th - CX 632 delayed by 4 hours.
April 14th - No trace of departure of CX 632. There was a notice in Cathay Pacific website stating that all the flights to Hong Kong may experience a major delay due to extremely bad weather.
April 15th - CX 632 delayed by 4.5 hours.

This shattered my hopes. I booked my flight to LA in such a way that I've a good 7 hours layover at Hong Kong allowing me to sneak into the city and spend at least 3 to 4 hours exploring it. Delay means trouble. The more the delay the less the chances of sneaking into the city. I thought I was doomed. I was afraid that all the research and all the plans I've been making for the past two months, especially for Hong Kong, were going to be a waste. Then came the D-Day (the departure day), April 16th. I was at the airport at 10.30 pm on April 15th, that is 3 hours before the departure, and that's when I heard the golden words from the Cathay Pacific staff. The conversation went like this,

Airline staff: Good evening, Sir. Here's your immigration form.
Me: Thank you! Is the flight departing on time today?
Airline staff: Luckily, yes, Sir.
Me: (with an enlightened face) Are you serious? The flight has been experiencing some crazy delays for the past one week.
Airline staff: It was delayed every day for the past one month, Sir. Luckily, we don't see any trouble today as the incoming aircraft from Hong Kong is right on time. We're departing as per the schedule today. 

That's how my adventure begun. 

I had no hopes on visiting Hong Kong until I heard those golden words from the airline staff. After dropping my baggage, I sneaked into the security check, which was a very long and haunting queue, and starting visualizing the plans I made for the layover. 

Departure from Chennai - 1.50 am IST; Arrival at Hong Kong - 9 am HKT; Connecting flight to Los Angeles - 4.30 pm HKT.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Follow me into the Jungle

Be warned that this post will be incredibly lengthy. Have lots of patience to read this. I can assure you it will be worth the read if you're planning for a forest trip in Kerala.

Gavi is a very small village located amidst the thick forests of Western Ghats and it is a part of the World famous Periyar Tiger reserve (well, i'm not sure whether the babies in Namibia know about this, but trust me, this is World famous). Gavi can be reached by two ways and by only one mode (road transport). One option is to make an entry from Kerala, where you need to reach Ernakulam (Cochi is the nearest airport) or Kottayam (again, Cochi is the nearest airport) and take a bus all the way to a place called Kumily (you'll burst into a hearty laugh if someone calls this a hill station). From Kumily, you need to reach Gavi either by hiring a jeep or by taking an Ordinary bus service that runs between Kumily and Pathanamthitta (2 buses per day), which i'll be discussing in detail as the post progresses. The other option is to make an entry from Tamil Nadu, where you need to reach either Madurai or Theni (Madurai is the nearest airport) and take a bus all the way to the mother of all hill stations Kumily. You poor thing have no other option than to take either jeep or the Ordinary bus services (or by your own car if you're self driving) to reach Gavi from Kumily, even if you make an entry from Tamil Nadu.   

Option 1:
Chennai to Kottayam - distance: 749 Km (overnight journey by train)
Kottayam to Kumily - distance: 108 Km (4 hours journey by KSRTC bus) 
Kumily to Gavi - distance: 32 Km (1.5 hours journey by Ordinary KSRTC bus)

Option 2:
Chennai to Madurai - distance: 472 Km (overnight journey by train)
Madurai to Kumily - distance: 141 Km (4 hours journey by TNSTC bus)
Kumily to Gavi - distance: 32 Km (1.5 hours journey by Ordinary KSRTC bus)

I decided to choose option 2 as option 1 was ruled out because of festive season (no train tickets were available from Chennai to Kottayam). In the route map, the total distance between Chennai to Gavi is shown as 642 Km, which is applicable when you're driving from Chennai to Gavi on your own vehicle (conditions apply) and it can increase according to the road conditions.

My option 2 had this plan: Chennai to Madurai by Duronto Express (departed on October 21st 10.30 pm and arrived on 22nd 7 am) - Madurai to Kumily by bus (departed at 8 am on 22nd and arrived at 12 pm on 22nd) - Kumily to Gavi by Ordinary KSRTC bus (departed at 1.15 pm on 23rd and arrived at 2.45 pm on 23rd). Then, depart from Gavi on 24th by following a different plan, which i'll explain as the post progresses (told you, it will be an incredibly long post).

Monday, 30 March 2015

736 days of Blogging, and still counting!

Facepalm I recently realized that my blog's 2nd year anniversary went unnoticed. 736, that's indeed a great number, isn't it? I'm astonished at how much I have achieved so far in my writing journey. Let me walk you through the timeline of my blog since its inception highlighting the initial achievements.

March 25, 2013 
I posted the first post in my blog. It was a short story titled 'Fury' (Click here to read the story). 

For the next three months I was posting nothing but short stories. In the meanwhile, I was exposed to blogging platforms like Indiblogger and BlogAdda, and my blog began to gain readers from those blogger networks. 

June 16, 2013
On this day, I posted a short story titled 'Misfortune' (Click here to read the story), which literally changed my perception of 'me' as a writer. I was astonished to see my work getting published in Storizen (e-magazine) - published in the month of September 2013. Thanks to my blogger friend Meera who introduced me to this e-magazine. 

July 15, 2013
My blog crossed 10,000 page views.

August 2, 2013
My post about the link between the science and the religion titled 'Science and Religion interlinked' got selected for BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday Picks.

August 8, 2013
I received my first Liebster Award from my blogger friend Vashti. Thanks Vashti for sharing this award with me.

September 15, 2013
I received my first Creative Blogger Award from my blogger friend Meera. Thanks Meera for sharing this award with me.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Cultural Fest (Short Story)

'Hello everybody! As your training days nears the end, we would like to entertain you by organizing a cultural fest. We need each and every one of you to participate. Non-participants names will be written on chits and those selected in the lot will have to perform the act written at the back of their respective chits. Participation is mandatory!'

Mr. Saxena, the trainer, made an announcement to the newly recruited graduates who were undergoing their first batch of training at one of the most popular nationalized banks of the country. All the trainees of the batch were excited about the participation, except Sooraj, who was hesitant to enroll his name for any event. He glanced through the list of events - dance, singing, skit, magic, martial arts - but wasn't interested to enroll in any of those. Two things ran in his mind that stopped him from enrolling himself - stage fear and shyness.  He was neither a good dancer nor a good singer. The other events sounded alien to him. As the participation was mandatory, he made his mind to enroll himself in singing as he felt it quite easier task compared to the rest. 

As Sooraj went ahead to give his name, he was stopped by a couple of his co-trainees, who were also his roommates. 
'Hey Sooraj, we need your help.'
'I'm all ears,' replied Sooraj.
'Me, along with Dinesh, Ramesh and Suresh, have enrolled our names for the dance. We need someone to operate the audio part of the event. Would you be interested to take care of it?'