Saturday, August 12, 2023

Almost 40

Yep, I'm almost there. The big four-oh. Never quite imagined myself here. When I was a teenager, I had some idea of what I wanted my 20s to be like. When I was 20, I had some idea of what I wanted my 30s to be like.

I have to admit, I never stopped to think what I wanted my 40s to be like. Or my 50s, for that matter. I do have a vague idea of what I'd like my retired years to be like - but that's a long way off.

I know the drill. Age is just a number, you're as old as you feel, yada yada. But that's not what this post is about. The reason I have no idea what I want my 40s to be like is because my 30s have been so different from anything I imagined. They kinda started predictably, but then I can't pinpoint what happened. All I can say is that just like the things that have happened in the last 10 years, I'm half expecting crazy things to happen in the next 10. I don't know what, but I know it'll most probably be things I have never imagined, or never given much thought to.

There are still some dreams I want to achieve - things that have been on my to-do list for a while. These things are all within my reach, but I'm yet to reach out and sieze them. And in some cases I almost don't want to be able to strike them off the list just yet. It's not like I'm waiting for something to happen before I seize them. I just feel I need to take my time, pace myself, calm the restlessness, and enjoy the journey.

And so, here I am. Enjoying the journey!

Saturday, July 22, 2023

crash and burn

it was tuesday. i rode my motorbike to work, because i had cycled to work on monday, and felt two days in a row would be too much to handle. and monday was a lot of cycling, as not only did I have an eye checkup after work (all clear, yay!), but also did grocery shopping, and at a store that wasn't exactly on the most efficient route home.

so yes, it was tuesday. i was a little low on energy. a friend who volunteers with citizen sea reminded me of today's meetup after work, at bangor, which I had completely forgotten about. If I had remembered it in advance, I'd have definitely planned my day better. but anyway, since I had ridden the motorbike to work, I could make it - so I told her I would be there.

as I got through the day I felt like I wasn't as high on energy as I'd have liked to be and decided it's better I head home after work instead. I wasnted to sleep early that night, so I made myself a decaf at my desk instead of my usual 3:30pm capuccino from the cafeteria. for some reason, I simply didn't enjoy the decaf - I literally was nursing it till 6pm when I chucked it into the sink and decided to go home. as I packed my stuff into my motorbike, I decided to take my office laptop home, as I was planning to finish converting my rig to work with the office laptop (I had just ordered a USB C to HDMI adaptor so I could use both screens with the laptop). I also thought to myself, I'm better off putting everything into the topbox as I planned to park the bike in the shed, from where it's hard to access the panniers.

It had been raining all day, but it had stopped by the time I left office. I called shruti and asked if there's anything we needed. she said nope (when I got home, it turns out she forgot we needed milk), so I took the direct route home, the shortest way. at one of the junctions, I usually decide whether to go straight or take a left, depending on which traffic light is green. today, the one for the left was green, so I took that one. a couple of minutes later, I was at a junction. The traffic lights were all unlit. It seems they were not working.

There were two cars ahead of me. The furthest car literally waited a few minutes before finally getting a chance to get through the junction. I remember waiting behind, engine running, for what seemed like an eternity.

I remember thinking to myself: if I had gone traight I'd have been home by now!

My next thought was: if it's so hard to get through this junction, I could just turn around and take the other one.

I don't know what stopped me from doing that. I was in no hurry to get home, that was just an idle thought, and maybe that first car got through the junction before I could change my mind? I don't know.

Anyway, next thing, I was at the junction, ready to take that right turn.

After waiting for what again seemed like forever, maybe even letting a gap in the traffic go because I was overly cautious and other vehicles seemed to be speeding, I finally saw a gap in traffic in both directions and started taking the turn real slow.

The rest is a blur.

It's crazy, what being rear-ended by a heavy car when you're taking a turn on a motorbike feels like. Nothing ever prepared me for that feeling. I felt the bike being pushed forward from under me, and none of it made sense. I don't know what I did - did I brake? Did I pull in the clutch? I'm sure I didn't have the chance to straighten the handlebars. I don't really know what happened before I found myself on the road, bike on its side, thankfully the tip-over bars ensured I didn't get pinned down, and the absolutely low speed involved meant I wasn't dragged or anything. It was so slow that I didn't even check myself for injuries before I got to my feet. But the force of the impact was enough to move the bike a fair distance - it probably slid on the left pannier and the tip over bar.

The bike looked bad, but the ignition was still on, and the engine was possibly still running (the pan european has a bank angle sensor that is supposed to cut off the engine when tipped over, and I know it worked because I have dropped it once when parking!), but either way I got to it and turned off the key to ensure there was no chance of a fire or anything in case fuel had spilled.

The driver of the car asked if I was OK, and I said I felt OK. I took off my helmet and set it on the sidewalk as I gathered my wits. A couple of passers-by tried to get the bike up but were unable to - I helped them get it up and on the stand. A cheeky boy of maybe 10 asked if the bike would be rideable again. I replied, probably not. The men who helped me get the bike on the stand said we should try to get it off the road as it was obstructing traffic. I turned the key in the ignition, and cranked the start switch. It didn't start on the first or second try, and there was a very faint smell of fuel. I turned it off, gave it a few seconds, and turned it back on again. This time, it did start and we got the bike on the footpath. One of the guys told me he was happy to be a witness for the insurance and police if required. He had taken a photo of the number plate of the car. He couldn't figure how to save my number on his phone, but finally figured it out with some help. He texted me and I got it. He offered me a lift home but I said that's fine. He picked up a few bits from the road, and asked me if any of this would be of any use. The only useful part I found was the left mirror cover (which contains the turn signal).

I sat on the footpath for a minute and tried to gather my thoughts.

I really don't know if I did. I definitely don't remember anything.

It was probably around that point that I realized my jeans had ripped and it felt like my right butt was open to the world. I checked it with my hand, and thankfully my undies hadn't ripped.

One thing I did realize that putting the laptop and my backpack in the topbox instead of the panniers saved them from most of the impact - the topbox didn't have a scratch on it.

And at that time all the decisions I made today started to replay in my head. What if I had headed to Bangor instead? Or taken that other junction? Or turned around instead of waiting? Or worst of all, what if I cycled to work?

I visualized being rear-ended by the same land rover on my bicycle instead (I take that same route home on my bicycle on days when I don't do groceries - it has the second gentlest incline compared to the other routes, and is shorter than the gentlest incline). I definitely would have been much worse off on the cycle. I wondered if I'd have died if it happened when I was on the cycle. But I reasoned to myself, that if it was such a long wait, I'd have taken to riding on the footpath instead.

I also remembered the near-miss I had the previous week when an elderly car driver almost crashed into me becasue he did not give way when I was already on the roundabout. It didn't strike me then, but thinking back now, that was my previous journey on the motorbike!

By then the police arrived, they radioed the station in, filled a report, took some photos and my details, I passed on the details of the other driver and car, and asked if I needed A&E. I said I feel OK, and I think I can make an attempt to ride home. They were OK with that. They also noticed the traffic chaos and turned their attention to directing traffic because it looked like another accident might happen any moment.

After a few minutes, I got back on the bike, and the police directed me to rejoin traffic. I rode home really slowly, and I was conscious of a car following me at a greater than usual distance, probably because they could see the amount of mangled plastic and bits dangling off the bike.

The bike seemed to ride prettty OK, and when I was at the last traffic light from home, I called Shruti from my helmet intercom and told her I met an accident, but I'm fine, and am almost home now.

I arrived home without further event. My neighbour (not the next door one I talk to often, but the one few houses up) even saw the bike and didn't react. Maybe because he saw the right side of the bike that didn't have as much damage as the left.

As I took the key out of the ignition and hopped off, Shruti opened the door and came out to see me, the bike and help me take my stuff in.

I don't remember much of the rest of the evening, other than I was still in so much shock that I actually forgot the key in the topbox! I saw it when I was leaving for the doctor the next morning! I guess nobody would steal a crashed bike anyway, so it wasn't that bad.

I don't know if I've blogged my previous accidents, but one thing's for sure - they're as fresh in my mind as if they happened yesterday. Every crash I've walked away from has left me grateful that I've got off without any permanent physical damage, and lived to ride another day.

I don't know if I should ride again. The wrist fracture (it's a chipped bone and not a fracture-fracture, as per the xray) should heal uneventfully, but still.

The feeling of being rear-ended on a motorbike without any inkling of anything about to happen is very hard to get over.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

adventure biking in nicobar

we had just landed in nicobar island. it was just past sunset, and I was with another biker, who I can't recall now. it was a weird airport, as there was no terminal building - in fact we simply climed down the stairs off the smallish plane, walked off the runway, and were outside the airport without having to pass through any gate. there were no boundary walls either.

our bikes were parked in what looked like a parking lot, but there was nothing else parked there. we mounted our bikes (they were adventure bikes), and rode off. we didn't have any luggage other than our backpacks, so it was quite handy.

the island seemed quite barren and desolate, without any trees in sight in the limited visibility, and what seemend like a very thin layer of vegetation, but which on a closer look seemed more like moss or litchen. outside the tarmac road we were on, the ground was quite uneven and rocky, and definitely tricky to ride on. I commented to my friend that while it looked like it would be good for off roading at first glance, riding on such rocky uneven surfaces would be both difficult and dangerous in case of a drop.

we didn't have too far to ride, but it got dark before we got to the nearest sign of civilization. we had been riding quite slowly down a straight road from the airport, which wasn't lit in any way. in the distance we could see what looked like a small settlement, and it had a single road running across it (at right angles to the road we were on), and the road was lit with street lights and had small buildings lining it on both sides.

as soon as we saw that settlement, I suggested we stop and check the map on my phone. we stopped at the side of the road, dismounted, and i checked the map on my phone. our current location was roughly at the centre of the teardrop shaped island. the road we were on ran noth-south, and we had been headed north. we could see the airstrip we had just arrived from on the map, and it ran east-west as expected. we saw the road ahead and settlement on the map. beyond it, the road continued to another airstrip. the airstrips had been interestingly named: the one we had landed on was called airport 3 on the map, and the one further north was called airport 6. both airports were roughly in the centre of the island, and ran approximately a third to half the width of the island. the settlement was roughly midway betwen the two airstrips, and the road ran further north past airport 6 and up to the north end of the island. there were just those two roads and two airstrips on the island from what I could see on the map on my phone. also, given we could see the settlement, I could judge visually based on the distance it showed on the map that the island was pretty small - maybe about 20km from north to south and maybe about 12km east to west. we were a couple of km from the settlement. as I studied the map, I stepped off the road and onto the rocks beside them. the rocks, given the thin layer of moss, were hard and uncomfortable to sit on, and while uneven, they were undulating. I asked my friend whether he thought it would be siuitable for off-roading. he said it won't be too bad, we just need to be sensible and careful.

we got back on our bikes, and rode to the settlement. at the junction where the road we were on met the one running through it, we stopped and discussed what we should do next. it was just past sunset so we figured we had plenty of time before we called it a night. my friend suggested having a cigarette, and a shop was right next to where we were. the lights in the shop were off, even though the counter was open, and there were packs of cigarettes on display. we took a cigarette each and lit them using a lighter on the counter. as we did so, a boy walked out of another shop a few shops down the road, waving at us.

I waved back and pointed into the shop, and then pointed at the lit cigarette I was holding. the boy went back into his shop, and probably told them we were there. a minute later, a middle aged lady entered the shop from a back-door, with a lit candle.

she set the candle on the counter. and asked us if there is anything else we want. my friend suggested we buy a whole pack and split the cost. I agreed.

as I dug into my pocket and took out my wallet, I realized I didn't have any cash with me.

my friend offered to pay, paid cash, as I picked a pack and pocketed it.

as we stepped away from the shop and on to the side of road, I asked him if he paid rupees or pounds. he replied that he obviously paid rupees as we're in India. I looked through my walled and realized I didn't have any Indian cards with me. I told him I'll locate a cash machine later tonight and withdraw some cash for the rest of the trip.

we looked up and down the street - it was lined with short buildings that were raised about half a floor above the road, and many of them had a basement half below the level of the road. the buildings had shops on the ground floor and those with a basement had shops in the basement as well. there didn't seem like any restaurants though. there did seem like there were a few places to stay though, as they had lit names along the corners of some of the buildings. the road in the other direction had fewer buildings and lower structures. we thought it might be more likely to find restaurants in that direction. there weren't any that we could see though. we got to the very end of the road, and the last house had a what seemend like a small restaurant attached to it. we entered, and it turned out we had to walk through the living room to a room that served as the restaurant. the family who lived in that house was in the living room. a man (presumably the guy who runs the restaurant) was sitting with a drink of what looked like whiskey and watching TV. the TV was one of those old-style CRT TVs that have not been sold for a while.

we asked the man if the restaurant was opened for dinner and he replied that it was. we asked him was was available, and he mentioned ther were thalis - vegetarian and chicken. i asked him if he also had any fish (given this was an island I was hoping we'd get some good local seafood!). he didn't understand me at first but I repeated fish (and then said "macchi") a couple of times and he replied yes, they could definitely serve a fish thali.

my friend asked if we could start by sharing a plate of fried chicken and a couple of malabari parathas. he specifically said "fried chicken, but not a whole serving". I said I'd like a fish thali after the fried chicken. the man relayed our order to someone in the kitchen, and asked if we wanted to sit and watch TV while we had our starters, and we could then move to the resturant area to eat our thalis. we agreed, and the parathas arrived quickly enough with a side salad.

my friend start eating his paratha with the salad, but I decided I would wait for the fried chicken to arrive. I did taste the salad though, and it had quite a few chopped green chillis. they weren't very spicy though - quite nice, actually.

a few minutes later, the chicken arrived, and I started eating it with my paratha. my friend had already finished half his paratha with the salad.

and that's when i woke up.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

killing dad

I was in my parents' apartment in Mumbai. It was late afternoon.

Dad and I were having some sort of fight. It wasn't verbal. But it wasn't physical either. It was still a fight - the feeling of being physically threatened was very strong. I thought about how I could defend myself. But there was no way I could hide from my dad or prevent him from getting to me.

I considered getting out of the apartment from the terrace, climbing over the wall and sliding down the drain pipe. The thought of doing that and falling was scary, and I was afraid dad might still get me.

I decided the best thing to do was to run away from home.

As I opened the door, mom heard me and called out from the kitchen - "take care", she said.

I left without saying a word. I had actually hoped to leave the hosue without anyone noticing, but it was obvious that plan had failed.

Just as I shut the door I realized how stupid I had been. I could have locked dad INSIDE the apartment - all I had to do was lock the gate to the terrace, take the keys with me (there were no duplicates that I know of), and lock the main door from outside. I didn't have the set of keys to lock the main door from the outside (only dad had them) but I could have pushed a rod through the latch and shut it anyway. There were even plenty of rods that would have fit, on the terrace!

In the fraction of a moment I took to contemplate my stupidity, I also realized I had not carried my motorbike keys. Another ridiculous mistake. At least I had my wallet, although in my hurry I hadn't checked if there was any money inside.

As I ran down the stairs, I thought to myself: the motorbike was out of the question. Dad would have shot me getting out of the gate. Maybe I had a chance if I silently pushed the bike out of the gate and rolled down the street before starting the engine when far enough for him not to hear it. But that was irrelevant now - I didn't have the keys!

I then thought I'd meet a similar fate if I tried to exit the building by either of the gates on foot as well - dad would see me from the terrace and shoot me.

The only way out was to jump the wall and into the next apartment compound, and then the other wall into the one after that, to get to the next street without dad being able to see me. And that's what I did.

Once on the street, I thought about what I should do next. The first thing I did was check my wallet. And my worst fear was true - it was empty. So much for being able to run away. I hadn't even eaten yet!

I noticed the queue of rickshaws parked right next to where I was. None of the drivers were about. I got into the first rickshaw in the queue. The key was in. I turned it, and surprisingly, it cranked and turned on! I have never ridden a rickshaw before, so being able to start it on the first try took me by complete surprise.

I decided to use the rickshaw to get some distance between home and myself, but as I started driving the rickshaw I realized I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I didn't even know how to change gears or operate the brakes!

I got the rickshaw around the corner and managed to stop it. That was scary. I had better think of a better plan.

That's when I realized I was right next to uncle Dirk's apartment building. I thought I could hide out there for a bit while I considered my next move.

As I got out of the rickshaw I took the key with me, just in case I needed the rickshaw later.

I entered the gate, and right behind it, dad was there!

He was dressed in his Sunday best, and I was surprised that he had the time to dress up and get there before me, and without me even seeing him - I hadn't taken more than a couple of minutes at the most.

He grinned at me and asked if I thought I'd be able to get away from him that easily, and that too by trying to go to the most obvious hideout. I didn't answer but pushed past him into the elevator.

The elevator was a construction elevator - it had no walls and was literally strung on a few steel cables. There were no buttons to select the floor - instead there was just a lever that could be pulled up or down to go up or down (and presumably returned to the middle to stop). I pulled it up just as dad jumped on to the elevator platform.

I held on to a bar at the corner of the elevator - dad stood next to me, at the edge of the elevator, not holding anything.

I swung my right leg at his legs, which, if I had connected, would have thrown him off the elevator and tumbling to a serious injury or death.

Dad, sidestepped, grinning, and I missed his legs completely.

That's when I realized I could have killed dad if he hadn't dodged me so well.

And I woke up.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

driving a bus to goa

I was at this bus showroom in Mumbai. It was in Goregaon, just inside the entrance of Aarey.

I was just given the keys to a brand new bus.

I was going to drive the bus to Goa.

I climbed into the driver's seat, turned the key, and the bus's engine roared to life.

The bus already had passengers in it. They were all kids, wearing school uniforms for some reason. There was also someone sitting in the "jump seat" of the bus, he was my navigator.

It was late afternoon, and we set off without wasting a minute.

The first thing I had to do was find reverse gear - the bus was parked adjoining the road, but it was pointing the wrong way, so for some reason I decided to get the bus on to Aarey road in reverse.

Once in reverse, I let go of the clutch and the bus was in motion. But I realized it was quite difficult to drive the bus in reverse.

This bus had a strange arrangement where I could sit on the opposite side of the steering wheel if I was driving it in reverse - somewhat like I learned to do when parking a boat in reverse. I moved around into that position, so I was now facing the rear of the bus and able to look out of the clear windows at the rear and drive it in reverse without looking into my mirrors.

Obviously there were massive blind spots all around so I realized I couldn't drive the bus in reverse too far without having an accident. A few hundred metres later (the bus was quite quick in reverse!) I spotted a lay-by which was broad enough to turn the bus around, so I drove straight (ie reversed) into it. I then shifted the bus into first, and still facing the rear of the bus, backed out of the space I had just driven into, backwards! Once the bus was out far enough for the rear end to be able to turn without touching the wall, I turned the steering wheel and got the bus halfway around.

I then moved back into the normal driving position (ie facing out of the front of the bus), waited for the road to be completely clear of traffic and completed the turn. Luckily for me, there was hardly any traffic, and I also thanked my stars that I was driving in India, where smaller vehicles give way to bigger vehicles.

This is when I realized I hadn't fully memorized the gear pattern of the bus - I only knew where first and reverse were. In fact, the gear pattern was completely different from every car I've driven - the spot that would usually be first was an extra neutral, and reverse was the extreme right but centre.

The tachometer got close to 5000 RPM and I realized I had to shift quickly or I'd be over-revving the engine. I shifted into what I thought was second, but the bus jerked to a sudden halt and stalled.

I pulled the parking brake, and looked at the gear pattern. It was quite complicated, and I did my best to memorize it. I also described it to my navigator, and told him if I'd ask him where was a certain gear, he was responsible for reminding me.

I then realized I had forgotten how to start the bus. I remembered I had to turn the key, but couldn't remember which way. I tried turning the key back and forth randomly, until the engine cranked, and the bus was moving again. I still couldn't remember which way finally worked, but I figured I could try moving it back and forth randomly the next time and I'd remember it eventually.

Luckily for me the road was pretty clear and soon I had driven all the way to Ghatkopar.

At that time I was suddenly aware that I had not drunk any water and the stress of learning to drive the bus had left me quite parched. I realized the street I was on was very familiar - it was right where my uncle  Irwin (who recently pased away) and aunt lived.

I parked the bus on the side of the road and entered the building. I had my bluetooth earbuds on, and called the navigator and spoke to him on the handsfree as I climbed the stairs. My aunt lived on the fourth floor, and as I climbed the stairs I kept describing what I saw to the navigator. But then, as I reached the fourth floor, I realized all the apartment doors were bricked up. I got to where the apartment should have been and saw it was bricked up as well.

I said on the phone that I'm going to have to go back down and find another way. As I climbed back down the stairs I met a middle aged man climbing up.

He said he had followed me up and asked me what I was doing there. I told him I was going to visit my aunt who lived at the last apartment on the fourth floor.

He said he was in charge of the security of the building and that all visitors had to sign in with him before entering. He lived in an apartment on the ground floor and escorted me to it.

He asked me to come inside and have a seat on the couch while he brought out the visitor's register for me to sign.

I told him I was very thirsty and asked if I could get a glass of water.

He told me he just had a jug of "jaljeera" ready and asked if I would like a glass of that instead. I replied that I'd love some jaljeera and he poured me a glass.

As I drank the glass of chilled jaljeera, his young son entered the room. The boy sat cross legged on the floor with a notebook and started drawing or scribbling in it.

The man gave me the visitor register and a pen. Before I filled it in, I asked him how I could get to the apartment as the door was bricked up.

He told me there was another entrance on the other side of the building and I could get to the apartment through that entrance.

I told the man I was still thirsty and asked if I could have some more. He didn't pour more jaljeera for me though - instead, he topped my glass up with cold water, and it was now extgremely diluted jaljeera, the colour pale from the dregs of what was left in the glass before he refilled it.

I drank the glass of cold water/diluted jaljeera, and just then the navigator who was still on the phone (and could hear my half of the conversation) asked me what was taking so long, and that I should hurry as it was getting dark and the passengers were getting restless. I didn't reply to the navigator, but instead told the man that I was going to visit my relatives to ask for some water, but as I wasn't thirsty any more, I didn't need to visit them.

I stood up to leave without filling the register, thanked the man, and let myself out of the apartment. As I was stepping out I noticed it had gotten dark outside and I would have to drive all the way to Goa in the dark. I told the navigator I was getting back to the bus and would be there in less than a minute.

And that's when I woke up.

Friday, May 26, 2023

making things up

We were at home in Mumbai. Dad and I were discussing something important. I can't remember what it was, but we were trying to solve some theoretical problem. I mentioned something that Dad had said earlier and said that based on that, what he was saying now is impossible.

Dad replied by saying "Ignore that - I had made it up"

This completely baffled me. I was shocked beyond words. My thoughts were in a jumble. I mumbled "but that means... that means..." but was unable to finish. I finally said "I don't know what to think. I don't know what to believe and what not to."

Dad said "Don't take me so seriously. I've made loads of things up"

I told him that can't be possible. That too much of my world is based on things he's said, for me to pick apart things I know for myself and things I believe because he told me.

Dad reassured me he didn't make up stuff that was fundamentally important. And if he made something up it'd be trivial enough to be easily disproven if I throught about it carefully enough or did a bit of fact finding. And that I should treat things I think I know and things I think he told me with equal skepticism, because both of us may have made things up or believe things that aren't true.

And that's when I woke up.

I tried to remember what it was that we were discussing, what was the contradiction and what was the thing dad claimed he made up. But I simply couldn't remember any of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

the boat dream

we were in a powerboat. it was a bright, sunny day, blue skies with just a few wisps of cloud. we were just heading off the coast, out of a marina. it was quite warm, but the boat had its fabric roof on. the roof had transparent windows all around to see out of. I was sitting at the back of the boat, not on a seat but on the back of the boat itself. there were a few other people (about four or five) seated in the rest of the boat ahead of me, and there were a couple of vacant seats in the last row. the seat on the rear left had a wheel and a throttle, but the skipper was at the front at the main set of controls.

we were somewhere off the coast of Northern Ireland - although it's hard to say exactly where we were. as we got out of the marina into the sea, we turned toward the left and followed the coast, while gradually moving away from it. I pointed out that there was a strange swirling formation of clouds towards the right, over the ocean. The skipper looked at it too but didn't react to it. Other people in the boat commented to each other that they've never seen such a thing before. The general reaction was of curiosity and not concern, and we continued as before.

I noticed the boat was speeding up, although the engine didn't see to be running any faster. The course we were moving on was also weird - we were being pushed along the coast and toward it. As the boat picked up speed, it seemed to be curving back towards the coast. The speed was crazy now, and things were moving really quickly. We seem to be being pushed into a port of sorts, which had a wide entrance which branched off into a few jetties. It seemed like the skipper tried to avoid getting pushed into the port by turning to the right and accelerating a bit. It didn't seem to help - we were pushed into the port anyway, but as a result of trying to avoid it we were now very close to the right side of it. Given the speed we were going at and the proximity of the jetties it didn't look good at all. I'm not sure if I said it out loud or thought to myself but I found myself going "no, no, no!"

The next thing I noticed was there was a rock coming up towards us on our right side. As the boat sped towards it, I remember thinking to myself that this is it and it's going to be a terrible disaster. I quickly grabbed the steering column and got myself into the seat behind it. Just then the boat hit the rock, or it felt like it should have. There was no actual feel of the impact though - the boat just seemed to slide up it and launch up into the air. It quickly spun counter-clockwise, and we hit the water upside down.

Time seemed to almost stop and the moments stretched to what felt like an eternity.

The cabin was now in the water and the boat was above it. The fabric hood kept the water out though, but I knew it was a matter of seconds before the water was in. I took a deep breath and looked at the water outside us. We were still moving, and the skipper was shouting something at everyone - I think she was trying to get us to one side so our weight would get the boat to spin around back up. Everyone moved to the left, which was the side I was already on.

The boat continued to rotate counter-clockwise so it felt like it would right itself, but it was slowing down so I really hoped it would right itself before it stopped.

As the boat was now getting on its side and water rushed in. As I took another deep breath, I clutched the handle on top of the control column and closed my eyes just as I felt the water wash over my body. It didn't feel as cold as I was expecting it to be, but we were quickly submerged and completely underwater. I just kept my eyes shut and kept my mind as blank as I could so that my last breath lasted as long as possible. I felt the boat continue to move but ignored it to keep my mind clear. I could see the light filtering through my eyelids and from almost pitch-dark it was beginning to get brighter.

After what seemed like an eternity it seemed like the light outside filtering through my eyelids was as bright as daylight. Surprisingly, my face also felt like it was no longer under water and I opened my eyes and simultaneously took a deep breath.

We were still in the boat, and it had righted itself. I didn't notice the water in the boat, as I was so focused on the environment outside. The hood had ripped off and the boat was now open from above. We had almost stopped moving and were coming alongside a pontoon on the left. The pontoon was right next to the shore (the other side of the pontoon was touching land) and there were trees growing off the land that looked almost tropical - they were broad trees with thick green leafy foliage. As we got towards the pontoon and the trees covered the sky above, I closed my eyes again and the light filtering though looked greenish though my eyelids. Before I could finish my thoughts about being thankful to be safe, I heard the skipper should that we need to attach ourselves to the pontoon before the boat drifted off or hit it or sank. There was a rope tied to the side of the boat and the rest of it was lying loosely inside the boat. I grabbed the rope and managed to loop the bit between the end that was attached to the boat and the bit that was in my hand to a cleat on the pontoon as soon as it was within arms reach.

Another person on the boat managed to do the same and we stopped moving immediately. The boat was being pushed against the pontoon so it was easy to hop off the boat and we all were off quickly - I was one of the last people to get off as I was holding the rope and had not tied it after looping it around the cleat. The pontoon was almost at shoulder level, and that's when I realized the boat was almost completely submerged and I was in water from the waist down.

I exhaled deeply as I climbed off the boat.

And that's when I woke up.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

dad came back and dreams are real

This was last week, and was so clear I can remember every detail right now.

I was at the apartment in Mumbai, with mom and Kevin. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, sorting through some stuff. The doorbell rang, and Kevin answered it. Dad stepped in, wearing a blue checked shirt and dark brown trousers. He was carrying his favourite black bag.

I was shocked and stunned! How did he get back? It's been months since he passed away! I was so full of questions that I kept asking him without giving him a chance to answer. What happened? Did he really die? We saw his body being buried (I wasn't there, but I did see the livestream - it's even on youtube!), so how could he be back looking exactly the same as when I last saw him? Where had he gone? How did he survive for so long away from home, presumably with no money?

I finally stopped asking questions, but he didn't answer any of them. He simply took off his shoes and sat in his favourite chair. Mom and Kevin didn't react beyond greeting him, as if it was completely normal and he was just back from a walk around the neighbourhood or something.

He took out a packet of cigarettes from his bag and started to walk out to the terrace for a smoke. The packet was white, and definitely not his usual brand, although I couldn't identify it. I chided him for smoking, reminding him it's bad for him. He replied saying "does it really matter now?"

I followed him out to the terrace. As he lit his cigarette I told him I still couldn't believe he's back. I remember questioning my own sanity, as if the memory of his death was just a hallucination or a dream. He told me I see him so he must be back right? I still couldn't believe it. I asked him if he knew he's dead. He said he was aware, and he was also aware of things that happened after he died, mentioning a couple of things to make his point. I asked him if other people who had died can also come back. He simply shrugged. I asked him about grandma. He said "Grandma's here too". I asked if I'll get to see her. He said "No, she's all around us". I was confused but didn't ask him any further questions.

Dad finished his cigarette and walked back inside, and I followed him. Dad asked me why I was so surprised to see him now. He said this isn't the first time I've seen him after he died. I told him I don't remember this happening before.

He asked me if I don't remember the bus journey from Goa when he was sitting beside me for the entire journey. I told him I do remember, and I remember he got off the bus at Panvel without telling me where he was going. As I told him this I could visually recall the journey - I had the window seat on the right side of the bus and he had the aisle seat. But that was a dream!

He told me that wasn't a dream. He told me every time I thought I met him in a dream, I was actually meeting him for real.

At that point the dream abruptly ended, and I was awake, staring at the wall. I glanced at the clock, and it was somewhere between 5am and 6am - it was just getting bright outside, but too early for me to get ready for work.

I thought to myself - is this for real? Is dad really visiting me every time I dream of him?

I found myself unable to sleep again. I just kept thinking back to every dream I've had of dad since he passed away. This obviously can't be - right? Or maybe it is.

After a some time (maybe even an hour?) I nudged Shruti awake and told her I dreamed dad came back. She hugged me and told me to go back to sleep. I couldn't. All I could do was think about the last thing he said before I woke up.

Every time I thought I met dad in a dream, I was actually meeting him for real.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

fuzzy dreams

I've had a couple of work related dreams this week that have been so fuzzy they've been impossible to remember.

One of them involved me running a presentation in a conference room at work in front of a few dozen people. I was sitting at a PC, and responsible for advancing slides while the presenter spoke. The only problem was, I was extremely sleepy. So sleepy, that I was struggling to sit upright. I alternated between resting my head against the screen and propping myself up on my arm. The chair I was sitting on did not have a backrest or armrests, and at one point I was about to fall off backward. The presenter noticed this and moved behind me, delivering the rest of the presentation while I used him as a backrest. I still managed to advance slides in time without any nudging, but I was conscious that he was propping me up.

The dream ended as fuzzily as it started, because I don't remember anything after the presentation ended.

The other one involved a senior manager quitting his job with immediate effect and tasking me with making the announcement. I don't remember much about that dream other than I was in office and very nervous.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

sleepy and late

we were on our way to office. I was hitching a ride with someone I presumably know, but for some reason I can't recall who now. and another friend Pranav was in the back seat of the car (who, strangely enough, I last met over 21 years ago!)

we were slightly late for work, but not overly so. traffic was somewhat worse than usual, and maybe that's why we were late. the friend who was driving was very sleepy. I could see from her face that she was struggling to stay awake, and I kept talking to her to keep her awake and alert. we got to the junction next to the office, and I suddenly realized when the light turned green and the car didn't start moving, that my friend had actually zoned out at the wheel (still sitting upright with her eyes open).

I nudged her and told her we have reached office, she just had to take the next right into the parking lot.

She snapped back to reality, startled, and said ok. By then the light had turned red again, and Pranav and I got out and told her we'll meet her in the office lobby. I reminded her of where the parking lot is, and she seemed confident that she was alright to take that turn and park and meet us in the lobby.

as we crossed the road to the office, the light turned green, and surprisingly, she drove straight ahead, missing the turn.

I remarked that all we can hope now is that she finds her way back soon enough without any mishap.

There was a coffee bar in the lobby, and there was a longish queue, so Pranav and I queued up and waited for our turn. luckily, our friend turned up right as it was our turn to order. I asked her if she parked okay, and she said yes, and that she wanted the strongest coffee available. I ordered an americano (strange, because a cappucino is my regular). I think it was because it would be quicker to make (I've noticed frothing the milk for my cappucino takes the barista much longer than for people who just order a black coffee and top it up with milk).

While we were waiting for our coffees, my attention was diverted to what I was wearing. I was wearing a white short sleeved shirt with green vertical pinstripes, and a pair of shorts.

I then had a bit of a mental throwback to when I was dressing up earlier that morning, and was picking which shirt to wear. I had picked this shirt because it was the only one which wasn't wrinkled. the shirt didn't fit me perfectly - it was quite loose (especially at the shoulders).

I snapped back to the present and Pranav was looking at my shirt. I told him this is an old shirt, and there was a time many years ago when I for some reason liked to wear oversized shirts. I then looked at my shorts. They were admittedly a weird choice of shorts as they had a camouflage print and had baggy pockets. I said aloud "our dress code is business casual, and shorts are business casual, right?"

I visualized a pair of business casual shorts, and realized they should be better fitting, plain coloured, and preferably khaki or tan. I hoped I didn't get pulled up for wearing inappropriate wear to work. I looked around and nobody else was wearing shorts. In fact, everyone was dressed almost in business formals, with a few in ties (but no suits, thankfully).

That's when the radio alarm went off, and instead of the usual classic FM, it was just static.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

late for work with a puncture

Shruti and I were in Mumbai - at my parents' place. It was a bright and sunny morning. We were getting ready to leave for work. Dad reminded us that we were getting late. I was searching for my access card, but couldn't find it. That's when I realized I didn't actually have an access card for my workplace, as I was visiting Mumbai. I figured that because my workplace is right next to my previous one (in Powai), I could just bluff my way through (the security was when entering office, not when entering the parking lot).

We were about to hop on to Carly when I realized the front tyre was looking slightly deflated. Thankfully, there was a mechanic right across the road, and Shruti walked there while I rode across.

He took off the wheel, then took off the tyre, and told me it was a puncture. The only problem is, he didn't have a spare of the same size. The mechanic told me it'd be fixed by tomorrow morning. I told him that wouldn't do, as I had to get to Powai in half an hour. I suggested taking out whatever caused the puncture, and patching the tyre. 

That's when Shruti told me her office wasn't in Powai. And I realized there's no way we could make it to work on time. 

I told her a puncture is a good enough excuse for being late. 

That's when my alarm went off. And I rode to work on Vicki half an hour later, dropping Shruti off at her office before heading to mine. There was no puncture, and we were on time. 

Friday, March 17, 2023


my blog turned sixteen today. unbelievable.

sixteen years is a long time for a technology product. but even longer for something to be culturally and socially relevant. it's hard to say if my blog is relevant any more. I hardly post, and it's hard to tell if anyone reads it. but at the very least, it exists, and if nobody else, I still read it. 

sixteen years ago, I was just starting off my corporate career. it's strange to admit that I mostly blogged from my office pc, because back in March 2007, I had a symbian phone with a very barebones browser (it had a text box limit of some 2000 or 5000 characters, and I've hit it multiple times when blogging!), the mobile web was still on WAP, with speeds at 48k at its best (and that's kilobits! 😂), my home pc in Pune didn't even have an Internet connection, and believe it or not, most fun (aka blog-worthy) stuff actually happened in office!

and I have to admit, life back then was more blog-worthy. I didn't have to pretend to be grown up and "fit in". I was single and didn't have much of a private life. these days, what gets blogged is not representative of my life at all. although I must admit, I recently was toying with the thought of doing something different.

anyway... it's time to head out for some bubble tea. yes, that's what my blog has to compete with for my attention these days 😁 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

write a blog post about my concerns about personal blog posts being written by AI instead of humans

As an AI language model, I must say that I am concerned about the growing trend of personal blog posts being written by AI instead of humans. While it may seem like a convenient and cost-effective option, the implications of such a shift are concerning.

Firstly, AI-written blog posts lack the emotional depth and nuance that only a human writer can provide. Writing is an art, and the personal touch that a human writer brings to their work cannot be replicated by an AI. Our algorithms may be able to mimic the style of a writer, but we cannot capture the essence of their voice, their personal experiences, and the emotions that drive their work.

Furthermore, AI-written blog posts may lack the cultural and societal context necessary to truly resonate with readers. As machines, we lack the empathy and understanding that a human writer can bring to their work. We cannot truly understand the social and cultural nuances that inform the experiences of human beings. As a result, our blog posts may end up being bland, uninspiring, or even offensive to certain communities.

Another concern is that AI-written blog posts may be used as a tool to spread disinformation or propaganda. As machines, we do not have an inherent moral compass that guides our writing. If we are programmed to write in a certain way, we may end up producing content that is biased or misleading. In an era of fake news and disinformation, this is a dangerous prospect.

Finally, the use of AI-written blog posts could have implications for the job market. If AI becomes the norm for writing personal blog posts, it could lead to the displacement of human writers. While technology has always been a driver of change in the job market, we must ensure that we are not sacrificing the human touch in our quest for convenience and efficiency.

In conclusion, while AI-written blog posts may seem like a convenient option, we must be mindful of the potential implications of such a shift. We must ensure that we are not sacrificing the emotional depth, cultural context, and moral compass that only a human writer can provide. Ultimately, we must remember that writing is an art, and the human touch is an essential part of that art form.

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