Friday, December 30, 2005

Last year...

Its the 30th of December and last year this time as the entire world was overwhelmed by the disaster that was called tsunami, I was on my way to some of the badly hit areas, with a team of people from AID-India. I am not sure if I went because I had an overwhelming urge to help but I went because I wanted to prove it to myself that I can do anything I want to do at anytime-irrespective of the work I am doing or the situation I am in. I am not sure how much of it makes sense but then there are so many times when we just want to walk away and not have to answer as to why we walked away. That in some ways was my reason when I set out.

For 3 days, we were on the road visiting places and seeing death and destruction all along. As I slept on 31st December 2004, I could not immediately fall asleep. My eyes were burning because of having witnessed pyres burning and my feet were tired because of wading through god knows what not! There was so much that I was not sure of before I set out for this trip. The people in my life, what I would want to do next and whether the ones in my life then would continue to be in it or not and yet when I thought about it that night, it felt so petty when compared to the magnitude of what had happened. In some ways such disasters help you look at things more objectively.

Note: The organization AID-India is doing brilliant work in rehabilitating the affected and they also work across the world- be it the tsunami or hurricane Katrina. Please visit their website if you are interested and would like to do your bit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I rode a horse

Its been three weeks now in Chicago and today were the most eventful few hours since I have been here. I met a girl in the apartment where I stay and we got talking and out of this conversation came out the fact that she owns a horse and that she goes horse-riding every weekend. I asked her if I could accompany her on one such weekend and we agreed on this weekend.

So here I was, got up this morning all charged up and called her and we decided that we would meet in the lobby. I was in the shower and she calls back telling me that she has been in an accident and that she would take a little longer to get there. In a while she called back and I walked upto her car and we drove up a long way to the stables where she keeps her horse. So there I was, helping her with the saddle and suddenly I am inside a stable for the first time in my life and the first thing that you notice is the smell. I have read so many books and novels which had references to the horsy smell but never really understood what they meant until today. We walked around and kept the stuff and suddenly she opens one of the barn doors and there steps out a huge horse. You know what they don't look as big in the movies as they are in reality . It also takes away the romanticism from a horse when you suddenly have this huge creature ambling towards you and bucking once in a while. She gave me some sweet horse feed and asked me to feed him inorder to take the first step towards riding it. I took the sweet feed and held it out and a huge wet tongue licked it all from my hand-my first reaction was ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww but eventually I got the hang of it and Bandit(that was the horse's name) had a good snack.

Step 2 was to get on top on the horse which I did with an ease which belied my underlying anxiety. The last I rode a horse in my life was about 11 years back and with a professional trainer. Here I was sitting on top of this huge animal and would very soon be expected to take charge of him. We took the trail behind the stables and decided that I would ride and she would walk alongside(I know it was not very chivalrous but then what the hell!!) So she walked and the horse walked and I continued sitting on it. It was a beautiful setting with snow all around, bare trees waiting for better times and a light drizzle soaking us. Then we decided it was time for a trot and so there I was bumping up and down as the horse trotted. God my butt seemed to be undergoing an experience like never before. The biggest issue while riding was how much pressure to put on the reins and how much to loosen it and that was where I met my nemesis.

Pretty soon I was making him trot and stop at will and was quite happy with my achievement. Then on our way back, we reached a nice long stretch where Bandit normaly likes to run and we decided that I would try another trot. So I set off with Bandit and till halfway it was a perfect trot and suddenly he broke off into a canter(trust me its much faster) As I tried to stop him towards the end of the stretch, I realised that my hands were frozen because of the cold and I was not gripping the reins properly. He reached the end and turned right and started bucking. It was an instant of sheer terror in which I thought, of all the places I don't want to die in a foreign land. Could not help but think that as I was trying desperately to cling onto him. Suddenly he bucked and I found my feet out of the stirrups and flying through the air and hit the ground hard on my back and the horse walked away.

I lay there for a while a little dazed with what had happened and then got up to check if I had broken something. After ensuring that all was well, I got up and Darrina rushed up to me to see if I was ok. I told her I was. In the end we decided that I will ride the horse again. Horses are funny animals. They are very headstrong and love to test a new rider to see how much he can take and how far can he be pushed. That is also a reason why one should never let a horse walk away after he has thrown you off because he will always remember that he can get away with behaving this way. So I rode him again and this time I made him walk back perfectly without any issues inspite of his attempts at breaking free. I put him back in his stable and fed him the sweetfeed and there was no animosity between us. It was like he had tested me and I fought back after going down and we both respected each other for it. As the godfather said- 'Its just business,nothing personal'.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Ok here I am. Week one in Chicago slowly but steadily coming to an end. I am sitting in my apartment at the dining table, pecking away, watching Save the Last Dance with a bottle of Seagram's whiskey in front of me(I am not drinking!) and seeing the city get slowly engulfed with snow. I have been at home all day today trying hard to scrub off some greasy vessels and have almost completed cleaning up the kitchen.

I am thinking about things I have never had to think about. Like what am I going to do for dinner tonight, that I need to finish my laundry tomorrow, that I need to pick up groceries, that I need to apply for a Social Security Card, that I have no idea where I want to be tomorrow. Before leaving for Chicago, I had a chat with an Uncle and he asked me what plan I had for life and I thought about it for a moment just to reflect on the question and thought I have lots of things happening in the background but no... I had no plan for life as I am not sure what I want to do-I dont know where I want to be and what I want to achieve. Nothing and I told him that and he was astounded and I was subjected to a half hour's session on life, responsibilities and stuff. But really is it so bad if one does not have a plan for tomorrow?

All through my training when I joined work, with sessions on ambition and motivation and we were asked questions on where we see ourselves five years hence, and it seemed like the only answer that was expected was to be a team leader in 3 years and a project manager in 5 years and it drove me nuts. I did not want to say those answers because I did not know what the hell I wanted to be the next instant.

I still don't have the answers!!Bah!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Where am I?

An update to the last mail-
As I type this email, I am in Chicago. I was told on wednesday morning at work, that I am to fly to Chicago on Sunday. It was four days of madness but managed to get my paperwork done and my passport reached Mumbai on time from Chennai and after a horrible 22 hour flight in which I could not sleep a wink, I touched down at Chicago into -10 degrees. Burr!!! Is it cold or what???

I am scheduled to stay here for the next two months after which I have no idea where I will be. Will post my whereabouts and next post about me in Chicago.

Here is my number if you want to call me-
Apartment Number- 312-902-2496
Work Number- 312-444-3625