A Long Paragraph From A Short Story

In the night we had the drinks in our room (Kranti’s and mine became the common room). Narayan was not feeling well and he said he would rest for a while in his room. Bosco had brought playing cards and he was ready to teach me and Kranti how to play (innocent as we were in the game of cards), provided we staked our money. Bosco has great love for America but this time it was Kranti who wanted to play in American Dollar, and we had to acquiesce to his demand. We played Teen Paati (the real game for the real gamblers, called Flush or Flash in English). It was my wish to play that game although I had scant knowledge of it. I wanted to know how this game is played, and perhaps be a master at it, because it is this game that robbed my father of all his fortune and made him a pauper, thereby degrading our family’s stature. Bosco taught us the rule of the game and we began playing. The game, it seemed, purely depended on luck, and my luck was no better than my father’s. I lost all my money but to keep the game going on (for I still hoped that I would make some money, or compensate for the losses at least) I resorted to borrowing. At first I borrowed from Bosco. “How much?” asked Bosco with a smile (he was only too happy to lend me, it seemed; but the real reason for his happiness was because I was going to repay the loan with hefty interest). I lost again, but I still had some guts and I borrowed again. I decided I would continue playing as long as Bosco was lending me his never-ending money. My luck favoured me once and I earned some, repaid a little to Bosco and I told him that I would pay the remaining very soon. But, again I lost and again I had to borrow. Now with the principle and the interest I owed a total of $1300 to Bosco. Now Bosco seemed uneasy about lending me anymore, he feared that his loan would turn out to be a bad loan. Now the only other alternative I had was to borrow from Kranti. Kranti did give me some bucks (but he was cautious and gave me only a few Dollars) and he charged a rate of interest almost double the rate Bosco charged me (cruel, no?). But, all the same, I needed money, and needed it desperately. Again I lost the money I borrowed from Kranti. All together now I owed $800 to Kranti. In short, I was broke and ruined! But, patient and gracious reader, shall I tell you a good news? I don’t owe any real money to anybody. We considered another card called UNO (heard of it?) as our American Dollar and that was what kept us going! So, after all, it was not a real game for the real gamblers (if it were, neither would Bosco nor would Kranti had given me a single cent) and I took no foolish step like my father did. Now, lovely reader, bemoan no more but make merry!

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The story is rather a long one, not a lengthy one though (mind you) and I thought it was too long to be a blog post, hence only a paragraph (the longest one, and I know it seems daunting) is made available here. To read the full story, please click here

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

My Wish Remains a Wish

I wish only peace could prevail between the two of us
And all the trifling arguments could come to an end thus
But, as it happens, my wish once again only remains a wish
And, alas, instead of peace what prevails is the disease
And as the days further, the disease only spread and spread
Though I could’ve wished a little more, but from wising now I dread.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

Big Brother Is Watching You!

Do you have an elder brother? What is he like? Conservative and dominating or friendly and humble? If you have an elder brother who is conservative and dominating, I feel pity for you as much as I feel pity for myself. If your brother, on the other hand, is friendly and humble, I will congratulate you, for you have a gem of a brother.

In India, as in the other parts of the world I assume, elder brothers are given great importance. Well, they may not be given as much importance as we give to our father and mother, however in the absence of our parents, the elder brothers (or sisters) play the role of one.

Now, from time to time – that is, on special occasions (which, I must submit, are rare in my case) – I like to indulge in a little drinking. Many people find it difficult to spend their time without imbibing a little on the night of 31st December (the night of the nights). A few days prior to 31st December, friends and neighbours start asking what your plans are for the 31st. When a neighbour asked me the same question, I replied to him saying that I was not doing anything much; I would just sit quietly in my room and have a glass or two of wine and have something to eat with it. My neighbour wanted to say something but he was holding back. At last, when he could hold back no longer, he wished his desire to have a drink with me in my room. That was the 31st of December and I wanted to say goodbye to the year in a high spirit and welcome the coming year with even more enthusiasm. I could have denied my neighbour to have a drink with me by giving some excuses, but then I thought what’s the harm in having a company who will only make the environment livelier while I drink? So, I said that he was welcome. He asked me whether I would mind if he brought in a friend of his. I said I would not. He seemed delighted to hear that. He informed me that he would join me in a few minutes.

After a while, he came to my room. Along with him came his friend and (well, yes, one more person) his brother. I looked at them, they looked at me. I was just about to say, “come, feel at home and make yourself comfortable,” but they did it voluntarily and I saved my words. The neighbour had something in his hand that was wrapped in plastic. When I asked him what it was, he placed it on the table and started unwrapping the plastic and said: “See for yourself, homie.” It was a bottle of Whiskey.

I sat on my chair. The neighbour and his friend sat on two chairs near me, while the neighbour’s brother lay down on the sofa (he didn’t join us). I had prepared salad and made omelette to eat while drinking. The neighbour suddenly had an idea and asked us to wait a few seconds till he returned. The sudden idea of the neighbour was a mystery to me. After about five minutes the neighbour returned and with him he brought a few pieces of fried chicken. “Excellent stuff!” he exclaimed. His friend gave a half smile and his brother seemed sad and occupied with some thoughts.

I had my wine with me. The neighbour and his friend drank Whisky (which I found too strong due to its high alcohol content) and chew on the chicken pieces. The neighbour’s brother looked at us all the while and I thought he wanted to join us. “Come, join us,” I said. But he did not come. I did not know what was stopping him from doing so.

I asked the neighbour: “Doesn’t your brother drink?”

“He does or he does not,” said the neighbour, “I can’t say for sure.”

“Oh,” I said, “he is a good guy unlike us.”

“He is or he is not,” said the neighbour, “I can’t say for sure.”

As we were drinking, suddenly, once again, the neighbour got an idea and he excused himself and said he will come back soon. Right after he moved out of my room, the neighbour’s friend locked the room in a hurry and then what had to happen, did happen. The neighbour’s brother jumped from the sofa and sat right in the chair where his brother was. He poured a glass full of Whiskey and offered his thanks to some god, dipped his little finger in the glass of Whiskey, sprinkled a few droplets and, without even mixing water, he emptied the glass at one gulp. “The chicken,” he said and he had one piece, thereafter he had many more. His elder brother never came back and, after a while, after thanking me a thousand times, the neighbour’s brother and his friend went tipsy topsy out of my room.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

A Short Conversation Between Two Men In a Washroom

One man: [Enters the washroom].

The other man: It’s been a long time since I saw you here. What happened, don’t you drink enough water? But, anyway, it’s good to see you.

One man: Good to see you, too. It’s winter time, and water is cold. Don’t feel like drinking much.

The other man: Do drink a lot of water no matter it is winter or summer. I am not saying that, like some nutritionists do, for your good health, but I am saying that because that way I will have the opportunity to see you here more often.

One man: I would rather contain the water in me as long as I can than visit the washroom, as often as you do, and waste my time.

The other man: Be careful of such thoughts. Have you not heard of people accumulating stones in their bellies? It is winter, and if you contain the water in you for too long, the water would freeze, and then you would find it difficult to carry yourself with all the weight, plus, of course, you would incur unnecessary cost to remove the stones.

One man: Well… [Makes a move out of the washroom].

The other man: See you again! The sooner the better.

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS

Travel Made Difficult

If life is at stake, it is best to avoid risk. Therefore, when I got an SMS from IndiGo airlines (a private Indian airline) which informed me that my flight (6E – 3645) was delayed, I did not complain. But I would have been happy had they informed me the reason for the delay. Later, just out of curiosity, when I inquired about it, I got to know that fog was responsible for the delay. Fog affects the visibility of the pilot, so they would not fly in this condition. That was quite all right. It is better to save our lives than to put it at risk. No one wants to die. I was also told that as soon as the visibility was clear, the flight would depart. The otherwise sparsely crowded airport in Guwahati (namely Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport) was fully packed today, and people were still coming in. The flight was scheduled to depart from Guwahati at 3:10 PM and arrive in Delhi at 6:20 PM. The departure time was revised to 3:55 PM. Then it was further revised to 5:10 PM. Another revision: 5:55 PM. Yet another revision: 6:30 PM. The flight finally departed a few minutes after 6:30 PM.

While I was getting the SMSs of the revision of the departure time of my flight, there was another flight that was getting delayed. I was receiving SMSs for that as well. I had a connecting IndiGo flight from Delhi to Mumbai (6E 665). The actual departure time of my flight from Delhi was 9:30 PM and it was supposed to reach Mumbai at 11:35 PM. The revised departure time for the Mumbai bound flight was 11:30 PM. It was again revised to midnight. Further revision: 1 AM. One more revision: 1:30 AM. One final revision: 12:30 AM. But the flight actually departed at 2 AM and reached Mumbai at 4 AM.

I had booked my tickets two months back. It is with some considerations, some thoughts that I did so. I made some plans about the things I wanted to do. Now that I was not going to reach my place in time, all my plans were ruined. But, yet, I did not complain. I was only sad. However, other passengers in Delhi were furious. I saw a young girl, an old woman, a middle-aged man, complain about the inconvenience caused to them by the airline. Some wanted immediate compensation, refund, replacement, etc. Delhiites are vocal about their rights, it seemed. Some of the customers, to be properly heard and informed well, even entered the customer care representative’s cabin and shouted, which I thought was uncivil. No proper information was, however, given to the customers. I saw a customer service officer argue and disrespect few customers. I am not sure how true the logic that customers are always right is, but in the present situation the customers did have a right to protest and seek a reliable answer. I think the representative was new to work and needed more time to learn. There were other representatives who seemed to understand what the customers had to say and they tried their best to be good and be of service.

After reaching Mumbai, I was trying to get my bag at the baggage conveyor belt. My bag could not be seen. But still I hoped that my bag would come. Alas, it never did. I went to the Indigo baggage counter and told a lady there that my bag was missing. I was given a document to file my complaint. The document was called Property Irregularity Report. The lady asked me to provide the description of my bag. I told her it was a blue coloured duffle bag. “Which brand is it?” She asked. “Skybag,” I answered. The lady at the baggage counter kept the original copy of the report and handed me the xerox copy.

I was not the only person who had lost his bag, there were two others also. One was a girl and the other a man. The girl came from Delhi and had to write an exam in Mumbai. Her exam hall ticket and a few other important documents were in the bag she had lost. She said she had a medium size bag. The man, accompanied by his wife, on the other hand, had lost two bags (one large-sized and one small). The girl who was to write her exam a few hours from now was bewildered and angry. She kept asking the lady at the baggage counter to give her bag immediately. She was not easy to pacify, after all she had an important exam to write and only she could know what she was going through. The lady at the baggage counter said, “Give me some time, let me see if your bag is at the Delhi airport.” When the girl asked the lady how much time she needed. The lady answered that she needed two hours. “Two hours!” The girl said in disbelief. “You need two hours just to tell me if my bag is at the Delhi airport! I wonder how much time it will take for you to actually handover the bag to me.” The lady at the baggage counter ignored her and this infuriated the girl further. “Look,” the girl said, “I don’t have much time. I need my bag now!” This prompted the lady to immediately call the people at Delhi to find out the whereabouts of the girl’s and of mine and of the other person’s bags. The lady confirmed that my bag was still lying in foggy Delhi, but she could not say anything about the girl’s bag and that of the man’s (and this gave the girl more reason to foam at the mouth and wail, but the man still remained calm, perhaps he did not have an exam to write few hours from now).

I asked the lady at the baggage counter when could I get my bag back. The lady said that my bag would come in the next flight from Delhi which departs at 6:30 AM and reaches Mumbai by 8:30 AM. It was 4:30 AM at that time. If I had to wait for the arrival of the next flight, I had to wait for another four hours. Already the flight was delayed by so many hours and the wait for another four hours seemed only to add insult to injury. I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go home. I asked the lady at the baggage counter if it was necessary for me to stay back or was it possible if I go home and come back to the airport after sometime. But, as it turned out, I would not be allowed to get in the airport once I got out of it, unless, of course, I was travelling by an airplane from Mumbai. But the lady offered me an alternative: she said that I could go home and someone from IndiGo would bring my bag at my residence. I asked her how long will that process take. She said that the bag would be brought to me soon. I said how soon. She said very soon. I said how very soon. She emphasised, “very, very soon, sir!” I was, however, not sure how long that would take, for “very, very soon” may have a different connotation for her and a different connotation for me. I had a few stuff in the bag that were of immediate need. I could not make up my mind whether to go home or to wait. Seeing my confusion, the other man who had also lost his bag suggested that I should go home and take rest. I called up my girlfriend and she was also of the same opinion. I, therefore, decided to go home. I told the lady that I was going home and I asked her to send the bag to my residence. She said she would do so and she had given me a note where she had mentioned a number which I could dial to know the status of my bag.

I came home. Set the alarm of my phone for 8:30 AM (for that was the arrival time of the next IndiGo flight from Delhi to Mumbai) and went to sleep. My phone rang at 8:30 AM and gave me a start. I was drowsy and wanted to sleep more, but it was important for me to get up and get active. I dialled the number that the lady at the baggage counter of IndiGo gave me. This was the number: 7045591805. It was busy on another call. I tried again but it was still busy on another call. I tried after half an hour but it was still busy. I tried after another half an hour. This time it rang and immediately a smile came to my face, but as soon as the smile came to my face it also faded. The person whom I called disconnected the line after two rings. I was absolutely disappointed. I dialled the number again but now the number was not reachable. I tried to find the customer service number of IndiGo from the internet. I came across many numbers, tried one. After listening to an automated machine for a few minutes, the line finally got connected to a human voice. The person speaking to me on the other end announced that his name was Mukesh. He tried to listen to me however, perhaps from habit, could not help but interrupt me every time. Suddenly, without even telling me anything, he put my call on hold and vanished. I held on the phone for 15 minutes and finally gave up. All this only increased the already heightened level of anxiety in me.

I once again tried calling on 7045591805 many more times but it was either busy or, when it rang, someone disconnected the line, or, now a new problem, it was switched off. I tried the customer service number once again. I had to wait for five minutes before finally getting connected to a customer service representative. A female spoke. I told her what had happened and she offered to help me. She gave me two contact numbers and said that my queries would be answered to my satisfaction if I called on those numbers, but, as it turned out, those did not concern the department I had to get in touch with. They catered only to international flights. I only wasted my money and time by trying to get my queries solved. Then I tried finding more numbers on the internet, and got connected to a few. One department after the other said that it was a different department that was answerable to me. Their peculiar way of evading their responsibility irked me. I expected them to provide me solutions instead of excuses, and they miserably failed. I would have been better off if I had traveled by a train instead of an aeroplane. That way I could have saved my money and energy and would not have gone through all this unwanted problems and frustrations. Though I have travelled by plane many times, but the experience I had this time was the worst so far. Now I would think twice, gauge all other good possibilities, before travelling by a plane. The whole day I was restless, but the day was over, and the next day followed.

The next day was a Sunday and I had to go to the University of Mumbai where I am doing a part time course on Human Rights, and the airport of Mumbai is not very far from the university, so I decided to drop by the airport after attending my lectures to know the status of my bag (though, of course, I had to incur the cost of going there). But, I was lucky, a man called me up and informed me that he was looking for my flat in order to deliver my bag to me. I was relieved and very happy when I heard that. I told him that I was away from my flat but he could hand my bag over to my neighbour next door. He said he would do that.

After reaching my building, the first thing I did was visit my neighbour’s flat, get hold of my bag and examine it thoroughly for any damage or for anything that went missing. The strap was torn, but other than that there were no damages, the bag was still locked (as I did after packing all the stuff), and the key of the lock was in the side packet of the bag (as I kept it, and only I knew it). Everything inside the bag was well intact. Happy though I am after getting my bag but my thoughts reach out to those who miss a great opportunity in their lives (like the girl I mentioned above who might have missed appearing at an important exam she had prepared for) and those whose valuable is damaged/pilfered due to the flippant attitude and irresponsibility of some authority (like that of IndiGo).

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS

The Importance of Money

Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness (and that money is not everything) should have added, be that as it may, money can surely reduce sadness, money can help make friends, money can keep all kinds of relationships strong, can help buy you those delicious food that you desire, will make people look upon you with reverence, make you a role model (no matter you deserve to be one or not), can give you confidence, can make you feel secure, and money can do so much more. Now, then, would you say money is not important?

It is strange how people give lame excuses when they can’t directly deny you the moment you want to borrow some money. But the strangest of all is when your very near and dear ones (the ones you thought you could depend on), for whom you sacrifice everything, to whom you give your all, seem to maintain a distance from you when you are in need. On the one hand human kind is the embodiment of hope, love and care, but on the other hand we are selfish, ruthless, vainglorious.

To save embarrassments in life, to prevent depression from ruling your life (thereby ruining your life), you should – no, not just should, but you must – make yourself so strong, so capable that you need not ever depend on any one. But what happens when you have too much money? Should you cling on to your money for ever? It is indeed very difficult to part with one’s hard earned money. Not everyone would understand, but the earner of money knows that very well.

The main question that should concern you, however, is when someone’s whole world is crumbling down and they can’t do anything about it, will it be worthy of you to be like those heartless materialist who turn away from helping others? Would you also let others feel what you once felt the moment someone said no to you when you were in need? From your experience you know how much it breaks your heart to find none helping you, therefore, can the knowledge of that prompt you to help the needy as much as you can? You know you have two square meals a day, but there are people who can’t afford a single meal a day; they eat something light once in two days or maybe three days. You might ask ‘Why don’t they work?’ Well, you know, if a skilled person is out of job most of the times, how is an uneducated, unskilled (some disabled) person supposed to get a job.

So, here comes your money. Money can help you help others. Money can open new avenues and empower people to do their best, to see the brighter side of life. Money is, therefore, important. And whoever say money can’t give you happiness, that money is not important, ask them very gently to just go to hell!

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS

Making Sense by Rambling

Does it ever happen to you that while writing one particular thing you start writing something that is altogether different from what you intended it to be, and that, surprisingly, makes all the more sense and seems interesting?

When I begin writing, I have one idea, but this one idea becomes useless compared to what, in the process of writing, I discover. Nevertheless the first idea is crucial for anything of value to emerge, for that is what urges us to write in the first place. If I don’t elaborate on the first idea, the idea stays in my mind for a few minutes and then it vanishes and I don’t get going with my writing.

When I have an empty page in front of me and a few words (the original ones), I start elaborating on the first idea, twisting and turning, writing and rewriting every words, sentences and paragraphs, and then, in this meaningless voyage that I undertake, finally I find meaning. The first idea loses its importance and ultimately I write something that even I could not think I could.

When a few people say “Wow, that’s a great stuff you have written” I smile and think, “Had I known I could write that, I would have written that a long time ago.”

Therefore, I suppose I won’t be wrong to believe that it is not in our thinking whether we can do a particular thing, but it is in our doing that we know what we are capable of.

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS