Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Waiting Room

The waiting room is a place where time slows down and you seem to have developed a gift where you can actually feel every second of every minute passing by ever soo slowly.  I had to travel interstate and had to take the train .  Five minutes before the scheduled departure there was an announcement - the train was going to be late by FOUR HOURS!!!! I cringed at the amount of the time to  kill (I'm not at all patient you would know that if you had read this old post).  I could have slept a little longer but only if I knew.  I headed toward the waiting room while pulling my luggage reckoning how painful and agonizing.  I'd rather walk around the place than sit at one place and wait for hours to pass by.  But I HAD to wait in the waiting room because the baggage was a bit to heavy to carry around.  

The waiting room can be a good place for people watchers those individuals who like to observe fellow homo-sapiens.  There's someone brushing their teeth, another reading a book, a group of youngsters just sitting around playing cards or simply gossiping.  I see a lady who has been walking around with a toothbrush in her mouth for the last 10 minutes (Yucks!).  Makes me wonder what is the ideal duration for brushing one's teeth.  I generally finish brushing in 2 minutes, some people can really brush for 15 or even 20 minutes! That lady was brushing her teeth so rigorously that it seems like she wanted to polish them - with that much pressure she could just sculpt them (LOL!)

There is also a couple - seems like newlyweds from the way they are behaving; one is too concerned too much about the other.  You can tell they are newly married because the concern seems newish and fresh.  There is also a lady with a sleeping child.  The child keeps waking every 15-20 minutes (may be is sick).   An old lady who has also bee watching this mother and child walks toward the young mother and advises her...Wait its more like a lecture seems to go on for minutes. The young mother just listens and smiles.  The child wakes up once more and is now crying the mother picks up her baby and tries to sing and swing it to sleep in her arms.  The old lady quietly walks back to her seat - may be her advise was not applied :P

There is also a couple of bickering siblings - 2 sisters.  Can't tell what its about but its just loud noise once in a while and one of them storms out of the room.  Another couple enters the room with their two kids - a boy and a girl.  Looks likes they are twins both are crawling + can standing by holding on to something.  The father puts the bags and the kids down.  As soon as the kids are put down one of them stands up holding the fathers leg and looking up at him as if to say pick me up :)  Makes me wonder if the child was thinking 'Pick me up oh great giant into your strong arms' :P 

I just constantly keep looking at my watch hoping the time will pass. Did not want to play music for the fear of running down my battery before I got onto the train - I get really nervous even if its down by one bar! I had a book I tried to read but I almost dozed off - Sleeping in the waiting room can be a bad idea, my worst nightmare is missing a train because I overslept! I had sent a text to a few friends about the train delay and couple of them called back.  Something annoying about this waiting room is that there is no reception an I had to walk out of the room but still stay at the door so I could keep an eye on my luggage.  The only good things about the waiting room is  think there is an expiry to the time we wait there.  The excruciating (largely exaggerated I know but it seemed so) four hours were finally up and I felt this wave of happiness  come over me as I stepped out of the room and little bit closer to my destination.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Different World

I was a NCC cadet during my college days and that introduced me to a different world. NCC stands for National Cadet Corps.  Being a cadet taught me some of life's lessons - survival, time management and people skills to name a few. I'll share some interesting stories; stories that I have shared with a few of my non-NCC friends :)

I think only NCC cadets will ever fully understand what is it to be a part of this world where we march most of the times, what it means to wake up in the wee hours, queuing up outside a telephone booth during camps to call home, the camp food :D, the meaning of  the words night sentry duty, the hierarchy from Senior Under Office to a Corporal and running around with rifles and even being able to shoot at targets. The Republic Day Parade in Delhi, the passion and the struggle it takes to get there. Thal Sainik camp, NIC camp and so many more terms! :)

For those who weren't a part of NCC here's some info: There are three wings of the NCC much like our armed forces - The Army, The Navy and the Airforce.  This is sort of to have a trained pool of trained people who can be of help in times of emergency (I think).  There are a lot of things that cadets do besides marching around in the sun.  For me it was a passion, the most memorable moments of my college life were spent in camps.  I met most of my closest friends in NCC camps or parades :)  Here are a few of the lessons I learnt at camp.

Lesson 1 - No Think, No Smell: I was a part of the first batch of the girls NCC unit in our college and it was our first NCC camp. Usually cadets are given two pairs of uniforms but since ours was a new unit all of us only had one pair of Khakis (I was an Army cadet).  The camp lasted for 12 days and all of us had to make do with one uniform - imagine this now we were made to march the whole day under the sun and made us sweat a lot and we used the same uniform for at least 8 days before washing it on day 9 or 10 I think :P.  What's interesting to note was nobody complaint of body odour or smelly uniforms :) All of us hung the uniforms on hangers and sprayed deodorant on them :D  and the next morning they would be just OK :) That was the first NCC camp I ever attended :) 

Lesson 2 - Re-arrange Tasks, Make Time: The first morning at the camp and I realized I should have woken up early - there were long queues outside the bathrooms and toilets! Somehow managed to get ready and make it in time for the morning exercise.  That night I showered at night and went to sleep wearing the morning exercise dress. Saved me a lot of time next morning - all I had to do was brush and do my hair - tying two plats in the figure of 8 :) This habit stayed with me for a long time even when I started my new job I had a morning 6 AM shift so I would follow the same thing then too - showered at night and just brushed and dressed up in the morning.  I got ready in 10 minutes! :D

Lesson 3 - Keep it Simple Silly: There used to be long queues outside the telephone booth.  Cell phones were just launched that too the black and grey screen ancient ones, few people in camp owned them.  I wasn't so talkative those days (I'd like to think so ) when it came to calling home I would tell the girls ahead I would take just 1 minute and they would let me cut the line.  I communicated what my mother wanted to know in just in minute or less.  The conversation would mostly just be " I'm fine here, the food is OK, people are fine too.  What else you want to know?" she would just laugh and reply nothing else and I'd hang up :D What else do mothers want to know besides knowing how their child is :)

Lesson 4 - Ask and Only Then You Shall Receive: Its a bad world and one has to fend for oneself no matter how many friends or relative one has.  One must learn to defend and survive independently, want something then learn to ask.  Self service first is the number one rule of the jungle don't expect anyone to wait on you or to take care of you.  There was this very helpful I knew at camp which lasted almost two and half month.  She would help the other girls and share her stuff if anyone wanted anything.  Once she ran out of lip balm (it was winter and lip balm was a very important item) she asked this other girl if she could borrow her's.  Now this other girl was a meanie and behaved as if she didn't hear what she said.  But my friend was persistent, she had once helped this other girl and now she would not going to be ignored.

Lesson 5 - Life is not always Fair: I participated in the Republic Day Parade camp and this is something the cadets will ever understand.  This was the only time I ever wanted to go to Delhi just to participate in the Republic Day Parade.  Its the mother of all camps, the cadets go through series of  mentally and physically excruciating camps. The reason I went for it was to challenge my physical limits, to see how much could my body take.  It seemed all good fun at first but as we advanced the levels so did the number of eliminations happening.  I was eliminated at the third last level of the camp which was almost two and half months of camping in that year.  I didn't think I was bad but it was a numbers game and mine wasn't called out.  That hurt and it was a little depressing but well life is not always fair. But as long as you look at the bright side you will be fine - learn the lessons.

Two years after this camp I was working in a new city and doing odd hours of shift.  The lessons I learnt in camp seemed like a preparation for this new phase of life that began after college...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Samosa Quest

If I had to choose to be any food in the world I'd choose to be a Samosa! I can never ever get tired of eating samosas.  Its one of my 'Happy' food! This article is just to proclaim my love for this food... No stories :P

Today as I left home to go to work as usual but soon as I got out of the building compound I thought I could smell samosas. I looked around to see if there was a samosa vendor nearby.  There's a school next to the building where I live and sometimes there are people who sell junk food / sweets, etc. to the school kids during recess or when they leave. No matter how many years pass there will always be these people outside the school who sell these things :) - I remember the man who sold samosas outside out school.  there was another who sold different flavoured ice-creams and kulfi.  Then there was a lady who sold a sweet (buddi ka baal :P) and sometimes cotton candy in a packet.  During the rainy season there was a man who sold sweet corn / bhutta (fried corn on the cob) and another who sold Guavas with a masala powder. There also used to be a Bhel Puri cart outside school... hmm those were some days! I was a road side foodie since those days (:P hehehe). 

Coming back to what happened today... So I was trying to look if I could spot the samosa seller and couldn't see outside the school but I was getting the aroma... they had to be around me somewhere! I spotted a boy carrying a tin dabba on his shoulder with a paper covering and I knew that's where the samosas must be! :) He was walking ahead of me about 12-15 feet away and I could smell the samosas! :P It was like the samosas were calling out to me much like the aroma of cheese pulls Jerry such that he almost floats toward it :P ... only I wasn't floating but you get the point :P

Since he was walking ahead of me I decided to anyway follow him and see where he will be taking the samosa - probably a shop to sell; they smelled really fresh and crispy I had to get one now! So I was walking behind wondering which shop he would enter to sell the samosas, I was getting hungry.  I realized he was taking the same route I do for the train station and was curious which shop he would turn to.  He did not go to any shop.. but he walked onto the station bridge I was wondering if he was going to the other side and wondered if I should still follow him.  What if he was going somewhere a little too far I could miss my train.  What to do.. samosa or train? While I thought I was stuck in a dilemma I noticed he was walking down onto the train platform.. phew! I thought if wasn't going to sell them is any shop I'd just buy them from him before he get's onto the train.  I saw him walking to a stall on the platform and he handed over the samosas to be sold! :) the moment I had been waiting for... I walked up to the stall and bought one (yes just one).  Nobody knew how long I had longed for it and since I had been following the aroma :D the quest finally ended and that samosa brought me a little bit of peace :)

I love food even otherwise but nothing can bring a smile on my face as a fresh crisp hot samosa I absolutely love it! :D I could never ever get bored of eating samosas. Doesn't matter even if I'm on a diet the Samosa goes on the exception list :D Its one of the items I cook well (ofcourse! Just had to learn to make this) Doesn't matter what kind it is - Samose ke maamle me koi bhed bhaav nahi, punjabi samosa ho ya patti samosa sabka swagat hai :)

Soul Food!

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