Saturday, August 30, 2008


I am in Hyderabad. This is home.

You form a bond with certain places without realising it. They seep into you, ingrain your soul with their elements, fill your subconscious. Then one day, all of a sudden, you realise that despite the chaos and the denial, you are a part of them and vice versa, and if you choose to accept it, you will find peace and fulfillment.

This afternoon, I went with my aunt to a place she goes to on weekends to learn Carnatic music. Her aim is not to be a perfectionist or to attain mastery over the ragas and sing flawlessly. What she looks for is peace, and she finds it in music, in the swelling of the notes that have been sung for ages and still continue to permeate homes and be absorbed by people seeking God and a return to their roots and tradition. I was reminded of my own sessions in Vizag with my mother. She sings well; I tried to learn, realised I had other priorities, but that I enjoyed it just for the sense of upliftment it gave me, and the inexplicable contact with the Unknown. The sense of accomplishment was larger when the music felt mysterious, touched my soul and moved me to tears than when I managed to do some reasonably good singing.

My aunt and I decided to go to the temple nearby after we were done with the music class, but it was closed. So we went back there a little while ago, taking a walk to do away with the sluggishness of Saturday evening, an inevitable result of all the lazing around and inactivity of the morning and the afternoon. A gentle breeze sprang up almost as soon as we were out on the road, stirring up the dust that had lain on the road all afternoon and sending paper and other debris flying. We went to the Guruvayurappan Temple.

Ethereal and mysterious is how I'd define it. My mother went there as a girl, and I have been to the temple many times over the years, but it still fills me with awe every time I visit it. As a child, I used to be amazed by, and slightly frightened of, the huge, horizontal statue of Vishnu reclining on His snake-bed. When I was younger, the statue seemed gigantic. It doesn't seem that way any longer (and I regret it for some reason), but it continues to entrance me. The numerous oil lamps cast an unearthly light on the stone statues; Krishna, simply arrayed in white and a bit of silver, looked out in majesty from his sanctum sanctorum.

The temple has a line of white-painted statues of the ten Avataars of Lord Vishnu. I remember looking up at them every time I went there; I did so again today. While I have stopped pondering over the stories behind them (the curses of growing up!), I still look at them with fascination. I am so glad I know and remember the temple, and that it hasn't changed too much. Certain things don't stagnate if they remain unchanged; they just bring with them a sense of tranquillity and reassurance.

Some kind of subtle, incomprehensible energy vibrates through the air of holy places, reducing you to tears though you might be the happiest person on the planet, making your heart swell with gratitude, even if you think you never get what you ask for. This is the power that makes you question all the suffering and insanity of life, and then, in unknown ways, assures you of its presence and concern.

The streets of Hyderabad are chaotic and crazy. The dust chokes you as you try to weave your way through the vehicles that dash, crawl or struggle their way down the road. It might take you a while to get used to the startling dialect of Telugu spoken here if you've spent twelve years listening to another. The heat is stifling. However, the rain surprises you, making up for all the hours of discomfort, and right now, a pleasant, cool breeze is floating in through the windows. The rain has stopped, but I can hear the lively patter of the water sliding off the leaves onto the moist, fragrant earth in the garden. More importantly, I know this is a place that I can always come back to, whose minarets, temples, people and rocky hills are familiar to me and will haunt me throughout my life, wherever I might be.

I know I am here for a reason that I cannot explain, and that this is home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Unremarkable Days

Paraphrasing EM Forster from The Longest Journey: I shall talk away. If I bore you, you have blogs. The blogger who has no blog will be obliged to listen to my story.

I believe I mentioned once that I was going to turn into a saint. I wasn't even one-thiry-six-thousandths of the way there when the decline began. The reason? Change. A whole lot of it. Oh well, all for the best.

Here are some glimpses from my life at work. While I've never said too much about life at college (most episodes from that period talk about bus-rides), I suppose I'll have to be even more taciturn when it comes to work. This is an environment I'm entirely new to; I don't know what I can safely talk about without being penalised for, there is a good deal of confidentiality, stiffness and unfamiliarity. Just a matter of time, though, before I get accustomed to the strangeness of it all.

Every morning, as I walk to my building, I watch preoccupied people walk swiftly to the food court or to their cubicles. No loitering, no ambling. No time to enjoy the stray ray of sunlight that catches a drop of water on the emerald grass, making it shimmer. And so they go, serious-eyed, sullen-jawed. Magnifying anxieties that don't exist. I bite back the smile that threatens to rise on my lips: do I look the same way when I'm just as preoccupied with myself, anxious about something to happen on a particular day? Certainly. There probably is that unrecognisable soul there then, camouflaged in the crowd that trickles in, taking note and laughing at people's imaginary worries.

I have had a relatively peaceful time here, haven't been involved in any major mishaps (which might explain, to a certain extent, the reason for this blog getting rather insipid over the past few days), not embarrassed myself or anyone else. Some minor excitement, though, came along in the form of an extremely rapid walk to catch the 7.30 bus on Monday evening. Which brings us to Monday morning, so that I can begin at the beginning.

I must have walked a couple of yards from the gate when the strap of my bag snapped; I was thankful it happened near home, and not someplace from where there would be no coming back for a replacement. I dashed back in, grabbed another bag, dumped my things into it, and re-started my walk to the bus stop. I always get there pretty early, so missing the bus, fortunately, was something I didn't have to worry about.

Should this have given me an indication as to what the day ahead would be like? No. Undaunted by omens (no matter what The Alchemist says), I went about my day with a clear head. Until evening came. I had to send an email, and when I pressed the 'Send' button, the time was around 7.20. I switched off my computer and ran into the elevator at the fourth floor, where I 'work'. That was when a group of four or five people chose to take their own sweet time getting in, and spent some precious seconds convincing a friend (who was busy with her cell phone) to enter the lift as well. Was she claustrophobic? No, I don't think so- just agonisingly indecisive. The time was 7.25 when I got to the ground floor.

Five minutes was never enough time to walk to the main gate from a building miles away, but a friend and I attempted it- at a walking speed that would have made Usain 'Lightning' (to use a newspaper cliche) Bolt squirm with embarrassment. We even made it to the main gate at 7.30. After which, I was treated to the sight of my bus taking a turn and speeding down (through a stream of cars; not quite speeding, but it lends the scene some effect) the road, mercilessly unaware of my pleading eyes and speechlessness. You don't need a splendid imagination to realise how it must have felt to miss the last bus to your destination; of course, there were alternatives, but it still was a rotten feeling. One good thing, though- the driver was an unscrupulously punctual man, and he must be appreciated for leaving at 7.30, much as I didn't care to, then.

So, the next time I had to take the 7.30 bus, I left by 7.10. This time, the bus left at 7.35. I should have known.

(Digression: I was wearing this particular dress on Monday that I normally avoid when I have something important to do. The clothes you wear can influence the things that happen to you, or so Brida says. I think I agree, to a certain extent. For instance, there were certain dresses that I avoided like the plague on exam days, simply because I'd worn them for some previous exam that didn't go off too well.)

That is about all I have to relate from two-and-a-half weeks of work, the newest bit of adventure in my life. Certain episodes shall remain censored, or will be dealt with offline, as they say here.

PS: One incident that I have to mention, for the indignation it aroused in me- a person here asked me where I was from, and when I said,"Vizag", he gave me an "Oh-so-you're-from-a-different-planet?" look. Vizag. Visakhapatnam. Not so very nondescript, is it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Rainy Morning

It rained heavily this morning. Cats and dogs? Now there's an understatement.

So, the rain fell as if the blue heavens were hell-bent upon dispelling the heavy, grey clouds from their tranquil kingdom. The clouds surrendered meekly, but turned their fury upon the earth, disrupting 'normal life' in the process. Why does it always rain when people are going to school or to work?

At the bus-stop, a 'colleague' (the quotes shall remain until I can get used to the word) told me that the bus might be late; that it often happened on rainy days. Now that isn't good news on a morning when you're hoping to get to office as soon as you can(!) so you can finish a report. Thankfully, he was about as accurate as a meteorologist on TV, and the bus arrived on time. Getting in was an ordeal; the umbrella, in an inevitable accident as I closed it, dripped its water all over me, soaking my neatly ironed dress. Cotton is a bad choice for wet days. (Not that I didn't know it; some people refuse to learn from experience.)

I was in deep danger of falling out of love with the rain. What with ankles soaked in debris-filled rainwater swirling through the pits and pockmarks of a road that had probably never seen smooth days, drenched clothes, and a report to finish, I wasn't exactly in a sunny mood. This is me we're talking about, though, and an old friend. Sense prevailed soon enough, and I began to enjoy the bus ride through the rain, never mind that I was still struggling with my umbrella and my heavy handbag. However, I missed the sight of rich, fertile hills veiled by misty clouds. The landscape here is relatively barren, rocky and plain. The wiper swept across the windshield, forming arcs even as the drops fell forcefully against the glass.

And what do you know? By mid-morning, all was bright and happy in the kingdom high up there, not exactly cheerless down here...and I used my umbrella to keep the sun from my face. You would never have known that the morning had been wet and uncomfortable, that the rain had looked like it would never stop.

A wet morning tomorrow wouldn't be unwelcome. I think I can already smell rain in the air.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Green Canopy in Paati's Backyard

Green-gold light. Blue skies. The glorious, generous shade of the trees restraining the fury of the warm August sun. All on a lazy, peaceful Saturday morning.

Where are the Good Books?

I have done enough empty reading. Why are these books even written? The private lives of unknown, non-existent people shredded apart, tears spilt, promises made and repeatedly broken, captured on television or as cinema, money spent, plenty of precious hours wasted- this is how I'd describe pulp fiction. For that is what I feel many of these 'bestselling' paperbacks are. Someone in America creates a huge fuss over how 'heart-rending, gut-wrenching and powerful' some amorous story is and puts it on the Top Ten list of half a dozen American newspapers. Soon, it becomes a 'must-read', a book you cannot miss, a book that has changed people's lives forever and will continue to do so for ages to come. The author sells 897 million copies, becomes the highest selling author in history ahead of JK Rowling and Danielle Steel (some yardstick), wins a handful of unheard of literary prizes. Then there is chick-lit- books expounding on the life and times of youngish women of urban upbringing, suitors aplenty, with a satisfying job and designer tastes. If the book is Indian, the protagonist is probably an IIT/IIM product or a software professional. With language that would send a purist to an early grave. Where have all the good books gone?

This rant is extremely unjustified to contemporary writers who produce genuinely good fiction. They are not really hard to come by, if we look carefully. The culprit here is a sense of guilt that over the past week, I spent quite a while flipping through dramatic, empty-headed books- I couldn't resist them. That is how they are made. Tantalising and irresistible, like the forbidden piece of rich chocolate cake. Thankfully, I didn't spend all my time on them. Sense prevailed, and the silly stories existed only on the sidelines, to be 'read' when the brain absolutely refused to delve or analyse or think. Part of what I've said, though, I do believe is true- how else could the blurb on every different author's book call him or her the best thing ever to have happened to literature?

Going off on a tangent, can certain kinds of reading be voyeuristic? The question popped up in my head as I was reading Howards End a few weeks ago. I was extremely eager to know how Helen would act next, what would happen to Margaret, to this interest in other people's lives, fictional though they might be, unwarranted? Or is it just that books give us the comfort of finding people in similar situations and hearing them say what we have always thought but never found the words to express? It is a wild, weird idea, indeed, to call reading voyeuristic. However, I want to know what drives this curiosity to know how a person's life turns out, to be interested in sin, guilt, revenge, retribution and romance. Is our reading a reflection of what we really are, inside? Does it rip open the facade we unwittingly exhibit and show us our desires, ambitions and baser qualities? This is something I need to work on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Drought

The drought has set in:

1. In Roger Federer's career: Federer going on a winless streak. That will probably not take too long to happen if he continues to be in his current woeful form. Speculation, of course, blames it on everything from lack of motivation to age to a mere temporary slump- all followed by a question mark. In the meantime, a Spanish hero, reminiscent of one of the swashbuckling, horse riding, sword-toting warriors of medieval times who carried away beautiful girls, has risen up the ranks and upstaged the aging Swiss master. Change is good. I can, therefore, hardly wait till a certain Serb called Novak Djokovic overthrows Nadal.

2. At the Olympics, for India: A flash in the pan, the single medal, and it's all over. Every time the Olympic Games come around, we optimistically, cautiously, list out our 'medal hopes'- not to hear of them for months thereafter. Maybe, four years down the line, some of their creaking bones will make an appearance for want of younger, brighter sportspersons, sparking off debates regarding how the youth has gone to the dogs, is not interested in sports, how parental pressure drives schooling, and every other irrelevant topic under the sun. Fill the studios, sensationalise, keep the sponsors happy. Give the officials their foreign trip once every four years (is that why India doesn't get anywhere near winning a bid to host the Olympics?), wage wars over who will carry the Olympic torch when it passes through India en route to a more favoured destination (if India had been part of the bidding race); battle over who will carry the Indian flag at the opening ceremony. The sport? Well, that's on the sidelines, of course. We haven't forgotten it entirely. We'll deal with it once the diplomacy is done, and everyone has had his or her fifteen seconds of fame. And we'll remember to hype up the 'big' names- even if they tape their wrists as soon as they find themselves losing to somebody unheard of.

3. In the Ferrari F1 camp: They have gone without a win far too long. They blew an engine, the unlikeliest of mishaps possible, while leading the Hungarian GP (and so reminiscent it was of Michael Schumacher's car leaving behind a trail of smoke at the 2006 Japanese GP, allowing Fernando Alonso to power his Renault to victory and potentially the championship). Can no team do without a mid-season slump? This is where McLaren-Mercedes lost it last year, topping it up with the Spygate saga. Hopefully, Ferrari will be able to pull it together and get back in form. While I normally root for Felipe Massa , I'd give anything to see even Raikkonen win (I despised Kimi Raikkonen in his McLaren days- all of a sudden, he is a saint). All for the prestige of the Ferrari team.

4. In my intellect: Which would probably explain why I spent two precious evenings skimming through a Danielle Steel novel. Saccharine sweet, nauseating, excruciatingly tragic, over-the-top girlish- why on earth would I want to read such a book? Because my brains said they were taxed and needed some respite from war, philosophy and common sense; what better anesthetic than a mushy romantic novel? Sense prevailed in one department, though, and as I mentioned, I just skimmed through the book, instead of reading every single word of it. Nothing in it seemed to point vaguely to an improvement in vocabulary or wisdom.

The drought will soon come to an end, I am optimistic, in three cases for sure.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Quiet Lunch of Contemplation

I sit down to my lunch all alone. My friends are on the ground floor, and I can probably join them, but 'Butter Fingers' being my second name, one I have christened myself with, I decide not to carry my food down the escalator or the steps. I sit by the balcony and look out into the distance as I eat. I think of reading the Agatha Christie memoir I have in my bag, but I wonder if it will seem ridiculous. (It won't, as I realise later, when I see a person at a table downstairs, eating lunch in the company of friends with his eyes on a thick library book- which reminds me that I need to find the library).

A rocky mound rises out of the barren earth, topped by a white, domed building. I wonder what it is. I don't see any gently rolling, velvety hills anywhere- just rock and mud, glass-fronted buildings and complicated architecture. The domes remind me, for some strange reason, of minarets. I think of the books I've read in the past few months, or am reading at present. My Name Is Red. The Kite Runner. A Thousand Splendid Suns. In fact, the memoir I am reading is also set in Syria. The last book I bought in Mysore- Istanbul. All set in countries with a similar background and culture, the same kind of architecture. And here it is, thousands of miles away, in a distant country as well. What has set off this interest and affinity for the Middle East and Hyderabad, I wonder. I am reminded of the time in Vizag when I used to awake early to prepare for the Board Exams, and sure enough, at four o'clock, the azan would sound from the mosque nearby, rising mesmerisingly in the quiet, dark morning air. I would listen to it fascinated, books shut out of my mind for the moment, not comprehending, just listening.

I think about places. About Mysore, where I stayed for just a little more than two months on a nicely-tended, well looked after campus, a world far removed from the dirt-strewn lanes and the chipped paint of the small town outside, one that seemed frozen in time, not concerned with the frenzied pace of its bigger cousins. The splendid buildings constructed ages ago seemed to preserve the ghosts of the past, keep them from being influenced from evil. Walking down a narrow lane one evening, I saw the unsymmetric houses inhabited by strangers- voices calling out from behind curtains, the air swelling with a scent I seemed to recognise as the soap my neighbour in another small town had used, a memory from when I was five years old. What the olfactory senses can do to you, bringing back memories of a town lived in long ago! Mysore is like Malgudi, unhurried and docile. The few pretences the town has are often hidden by wiser, more sedate elements. Small towns are, in fact, the same all over the country. The little garishly-painted temples sheltering under trees with sprawling branches; the bored, patient people waiting for a bus that may never arrive; the walls painted with the script of the local language, as if put there on purpose to confuse the occasional innocent tourist; the animal droppings along the road- all quintessential features of any small town.

I have heard people denounce life in small towns. They say life there is too quiet for them. Perhaps. But these are the places that throb with aspirations and dreams, where ideas wait silently to break out of their shells and create the success stories we all so love to hear about. True, opportunities are rare, exposure is limited. Life, however, is placid and comfortable. At times, it doesn't hurt to slow down.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Harrowing Bus Journeys

I have been in Hyderabad for four days now, and in one short evening, in the span of two hours, to be precise, gone around the entire city and its twin.

Last evening, after much seeking and searching, I boarded the bus home. It was my first time on that bus, on that route, and the only thing I knew when I got in was that it would take me at least forty-five minutes to get home. I fished my book out of my bag and started reading.

About half an hour later, I looked around to see if I could spot any familiar landmarks. Sure enough, a hoarding appeared, and I was glad to know I was on the right bus. (Yes, such doubts did assail me more than halfway through the journey- I am a born sceptic.) However, a little while later, I wasn't dropped off opposite the bank as I'd expected- the bus took a circuitous route, went through lanes and by-lanes (I never knew buses could fit into by-lanes); I almost pressed the panic button, but for the fact that I was rather sure nobody would want to hijack a busful of software engineers. I replaced my book in my handbag, and kept my eyes open. I asked the conductor thrice if I was on the right bus. A high-rise building rose from a sea of roofs, but just as I was beginning to think that I'd seen it in the morning, I realised with a sinking feeling that it wasn't the same one, after all. There were no familiar faces on the bus and that made things a little more difficult. Not that it is easy to recognise people after just two days at work, for when you see a face at office, before you can memorise it, it is lost in a crowd of other new faces.

The bus brushed past every major tourist attraction in Hyderabad- Golconda, Char Minar, Salar Jung Museum, the Planetarium, Birla Mandir- it was quite like being on one of those tourist buses that promise to show you everything but end up showing you nothing.

Despite all the misgivings and confusion, I did manage to get home in an hour- for I was on the right bus.

So, today, when I went looking for my bus in the evening, I felt more confident than I did yesterday. However, this is me we are talking about. Which is why the bus I boarded today was one that took a different route. It didn't take too long for my confidence to evaporate as the bus headed into Secunderabad after passing tantalisingly close to known roads and the Hussain Sagar Lake (I like looking at it, even though it is a poor replacement for the Bay of Bengal). Lost again. I, not the bus. The lanes and the by-lanes followed; I looked down contemplatively at the brown, muddy water swirling by the road where the bus stopped at a red light, wondering where I was going today, if I'd missed my stop- as a precaution (and because I was sleepy), I wasn't even reading. Through Secunderabad, past small railway stations, along impossible roads, the bus travelled. Roads that I didn't know seemed illusively familiar. I peered closely at the addresses mentioned on the boards of hardware shops, chicken shops, banks and pharmacies, for any indication of where I was. I was immensely relieved when I saw an 'H' after several nervous minutes spent reading the 'S' of Secunderabad. As the bus emptied and I wondered if I'd be the only one left on it, I saw a girl tuck her foot up on the seat. I'd normally call this despicable behaviour, but today, it only meant she wasn't getting off the bus soon, and I loved her for it.

Something has been going reasonably right, though, because I reached home safe and in one piece yet again.

Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Day at Work

Today was my first proper day at 'work'. First anxiety, then apprehension, and then total incredulity- these were the emotions that besieged me through the day, following which absolute boredom set in when we had nothing to do. Eleven of us arrived here yesterday from Mysore, and we stuck together as we walked about the campus in search of our building and the people we were supposed to report to. It was like an extension of college- not the ambience, but romping around as a group, feeling like a bunch of schoolkids who had unwittingly wandered into their parents' office. Soon enough, the traces of nervousness vanished as we realised we would probably have nothing much to do, nor many people to meet.

The decor in the office is blue and white, soothing, but cubicles seem rather claustrophobia-inducing, just like closed elevators. No hint of fresh air, sunshine or rain- quite a dampener for somebody who depends on nature to drive away the blues. We (only the eleven of us- we wouldn't have played the fool in front of a 'real' professional) sat around a table in a small conference room, discussing strategies and designations, deriving our own meanings for certain terminology, creating our own full forms for abbreviations that we came across. The room was bursting with creativity; only, it wasn't quite productive. We were apparently a distracting presence, for we could see people looking askance at us, probably hostile under a serene facade. Obviously, people on the bench are not quite popular, especially if they wander around as if they own the place and remind you of your own days of freedom and bliss. However, being brutally honest, not having anything to do is not a very pleasant sensation.

Today was quite like the first day of a new year of school or college.I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know if I'll have anything to do, because I know what the software industry is like, and I have no illusions. I'm looking at the brighter side of it, though- more blogging time! For I still have a sequel to write. The wonderful ideas have evaporated from my head, so I need to come up with new ones. I have a book to finish reading and some more to begin. Who said I was jobless? Some distant day, if they ever have a quiz on books and F1, I just might come in useful. I shall then look forward to bucketfuls of gratitude. In the meantime, I'll be content being another one of their simple, humble, immature software engineers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Burden Off My Chest

To have a blog and not post on it regularly is sacrilege. Writing a post is like a fundamental duty that demands immediate fulfillment, and purgatory in case of violation. Or so I believe. I have spent nearly three months away from home (Vizag/this blog, take your pick). Now, I find myself in Hyderabad, where I am yet another of the numerous so-called software engineers. The path to Hyderabad was long and circuitous- figuratively speaking. I almost ended up where I didn't want to be, but thankfully, perhaps for the first time in my life, I have been given a chance to believe in miracles.

Almost the entire duration of the journey on the bus from Mysore to Hyderabad, I wrote several posts in my head. I thought of the fears I have learnt to overcome. A few months ago, a thirteen-hour bus journey would have seemed unimaginable to me; yesterday, I equipped myself with a lemon and tablets, and surprisingly, I didn't feel nauseated even once. Homesickness struck a few times at Mysore, but it never got unendurable. I didn't have too many of the why-am-I-doing-what-I-am-doing moments. Even now, as I write, I am not particularly nervous about tomorrow, my first proper day at work. The anxiety will doubtless kick in when the time comes around, but as of now, I am enjoying one of those rare days with uninterrupted access to the Internet.

We set off from Mysore at four last evening, grey clouds massing on the horizon, white tips curling and snarling ominously. The rain fell in a while, steady and rhythmic, streaking across the window-panes in slim long lines, which would have given the impression of scratches across the glass surface, but for the fact that they were sucked up by the greedy wind as fast as they fell. The green countryside and the rocky outcroppings sped by, witnesses to ages of traffic across the road. We passed through sleepy towns whose inactivity would have put Malgudi to shame; indeed, they looked as if time had come to a standstill at independence, bringing to a shuddering halt any vaguely visible signs of progress.

Night-time on the bus wasn't particularly enjoyable. I couldn't sleep much, because a crick in the neck or a cramp in one of my legs inevitably woke me up at regular intervals. During these periods of wakefulness, I looked out the window, at the ghostly forms of slender bushes bent low by the howling wind. The hydraulics of the bus hissed occasionally like a monster roused from slumber; the engines let out a low-pitched, metallic growl, which didn't go quite well with the sepulchral darkness. Who knew when we were crossing a cemetery or a graveyard, disturbing the souls of those long gone, with our earthly journeys?

Now for some information on what I actually did during training. I had actually meant to begin at the beginning, to be prim and proper and as coherent as possible. Evidently, training hasn't exactly changed me, for I am rambling on in the same old fashion. Okay, no more digressing. Come back. I was born to be an epitome of embarrassment, to write manuals on how not to do certain things, and Mysore was no different. I shall not even attempt to count the number of times I said or did things I regretted later, how I managed to put myself in situations Anne Shirley wouldn't have managed to get into. The list grows longer by the minute, or so it seems, which is why it would be futile to sum it up and post it here. Trust me, it is not inspiring or interesting.

I learnt that there is a difference in the kind of things you post on the internal blog and the external blog. Why it is so beats me. While in office, we are probably bored and tired, looking for amusement that doesn't exactly challenge the intellect; I have this creepy feeling that I'm playing to the gallery when I'm posting on the internal blog, turning particularly comment-hungry on days when I have nothing much to do. Now, however, I have resolved to write sense; no matter how much Miss Hyde prods me, I shall write only that which really, truly pleases me.
One of the best things to happen was my first-ever bloggers' meeting. There was another blogger in my own batch in training, and we attended a bloggers' meeting one Monday evening. It was a great experience, for I'd never met a blogger earlier. We talked about books, Formula One, how to identify a blogger, food- quite a few things were discussed in that clandestine meeting, actually. And all the while, people curiously looked on, wondering where this strange pack of creatures, a motley bunch seemingly oblivious to the existence of the rest of the world, had landed from.

Do I sound rusty from lack of practice? Probably. How I loved the words that churned themselves out in my head yesterday! They arranged and rearranged themselves repeatedly, but never did it get monotonous; it was great fun throughout. And that brings me to the books I've read since I was last here.
1. Summer Lightning (PG Wodehouse)
2. Chokher Bali or A Grain of Sand (Rabindranath Tagore)
3. Howards End (EM Forster)
4. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

...and bits of Paulo Coelho, Orhan Pamuk, Roald Dahl and Amitav Ghosh. Some fiend even prompted me to try reading Chetan Bhagat; thankfully, sense prevailed and I didn't fall into the trap. I am currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. Some evenings, walking past the bookshop, two feet from the door, I'd be assailed by the fragrance of clean pages and fresh print. Is there anything more irresistible in the whole wide world? I'd walk into the shop and walk out armed with a new book or two.

There is much more to tell, about the good, kind, benevolent, interesting people encountered and the not-so-good ones; my visits as an 'undercover journalist' (ever heard of wild fantasies?) to the badminton court where I observed and studied the behaviour of the playing and watching species; forays into the town house-hunting for a friend through streets that reminded me of the soap my neighbours used. Therefore, if you will be so good as to remind me of my promise of a sequel, I shall post it at the earliest opportunity.