The bus was ugly. Full of grime, dust and vegetables. Set against the dusty backdrop of Sector 62, Noida, it looked even uglier. But I had no choice other than getting aboard. With darkness setting in, I needed to rush home. It was only after I was seated in a Ladies seat, thoughtfully left vacant for the ladies, that I realized how tired I was. The four hours of commuting in a DTC bus, day after day, was taking its toll.
“I have no idea why you need to work for such measly pay. Wait, why do you need to work there at all?” said amma, my elderly neighbour, one evening. “I thought you are an engineer.”
I nodded and smiled and asked if her cold was better. Really, I was getting good at this evading business. The year was 2009. There was no point in explaining to amma that the Indian economy wasn’t exactly bursting with jobs. Further, it was madness to attempt an explanation of my love for writing. The whole thing was a scenario that made me numb.
I was working with a content management firm. We had to prepare write-ups for websites. Write-ups which would convince people to buy ABC’s credit cards and XYZ’s home loans. Some employees wrote for showbiz, some for restaurants. But under the euphemistic pretext that “I could handle even the drab stuff well…”, I was limited to finance. To hell with the creative-business tag that had initially made me go for the interview, I was now stuck in a rut. Moreover, the rut paid peanuts.
On weekends, I would exhaust job-hunt websites. I would scourge the internet for opportunities that would allow me to write for a living. The remaining time I would spend waiting for interview results to come and for the postman to finally send me my campus-job’s joining letter. On weekdays, I would plug my ears with music. My cell phone would be forever stacked with melodies I loved. Oblivious to the crowd that accompanied me on the bus ride to Noida, I would listen away to glory, telling myself that this was just a phase. The cell phone – with its cheerful Nokia battery – would always agree.
“I cannot guarantee anything Saab.” the cab driver declared, his arms up in the air. “It is a risk you are taking.”
Dad looked at Mom, then at me. ‘Risk’ didn’t go down well with the weather that evening in Pune. There was an ominous hint of thunder in the air; the winds were conjoining into a storm. My interview at one of Pune’s software firms had been the penultimate one scheduled that day. And instead of sympathising with us for getting late for the return flight, Pune was getting ready for a full-throttled rainstorm.
Contrary to expected behaviour, I was buoyant. The interview had gone well or so I thought. I clicked a really cute picture of Ganpati Bappa, sitting snugly in one of the roadside mandirs. I clicked another of the overcast sky. The picture came out tinted in purple.
“Do put that camera back, will you?” said Mom, already worked up. “You can click plenty of pictures at the airport if we are stranded.”
“But Pune has a defence airport. No pictures.”
Mom stared. Ah, if looks could kill.
Now Pune and Mumbai are connected with one of the most beautiful highways you will ever find. It was this fact (coupled with err, costing issues) that made us book a Mumbai-Delhi flight. Once in the cab and speeding, I got ample opportunity to appreciate natural beauty. The roads were soft and smooth, the hills in the distance inviting. Raindrops continued to pitter patter against the cab windows. Every now and then, there was a flash of lightning.
I was glad my camera had advanced night-time features. I carry it with me everywhere I go and this being an out-of-town trip, it was one of the first items that had gone in the rucksack.
“Are you planning to click your interviewer? As an attempt to flatter him say?” Nani had chided.
That of course, didn’t actually happen. But the darling came to good use in capturing Mom and Dad’s panicked expressions, the yellow cat marks on the rain-drenched roads and the racing odometer.
“Never have I seen such rain.” Dad shook his head from the front seat. “And never have I been on such an adventure ride.”
Mom and I nodded, ducking as the cab bumped over a hidden speed breaker.
The next thing I knew, the camera clicked a signboard that said “Pune Airport”.
“I fail to understand what planet you come from.” My roomie was in one of her wild moods, trying her best to persuade me for a trip to Lonavala.
I did not say the feeling was mutual. “Why do you say that?” I asked instead.
“How on earth can someone report to work after staying up an entire night? I cannot get myself off bed before 11!”
Now, my roomie was a peculiar creature. She had aunts and uncles bathing in diamonds and they still filed for divorces. Oh well. My reason for reporting to work was different. For one, I had little option. And for another, I did not want an option.
My workplace in Pune was all I could have asked for. And more. No, it did not allow me to write for a living. I had to write lines of code and live up to my “computer engineer” tag. But while I managed to do that satisfactorily, I did not have to give up on my cherished dreams. Pune gave me miracles wrapped up in more. Muse for my very first blog and some readers who would actually read what I churn out. Satisfaction that my under graduate studies hadn’t gone in vain. Hope that someday I too would have a book launch. And a dreamer who would never fail to tell me how warm the sun is, how blue the sky.
Every evening after work, I would stuff my pen drive with impressions from the day. Projects I needed to relook at back home, pictures of the office cafeteria and colleagues, ideas for “Of Paneer, Pulao and Pune”. I would sort them into neat folders and password protect all I needed to hide from my dear pen drive-sharing roomie.
Till date, the pen drive proudly boasts of a star-iconed folder. It is called Miracles.
* * *
The wonders of life can never cease. While our brains remain the most often used memory collectors, there are gadgets that offer more reliable storage. Better music and better pictures at that. Zapping at Zapstore.com, an online gadget store, could be just what the doctor ordered!