Nov 30, 2011

Lessons from life

It was a hot and humid day in Mumbai and Heena was heading off to work. She boarded the morning local for work and stood at a spot under the fan. "Good morning, it's not working," said a fellow lady passenger. Heena got annoyed by the "Good morning" part and chose to ignore the lady.

The train halted at the next station. A guy jumped in to Heena's bogie. Before the women could revolt, he turned the fan on and jumped out. All he did was that he hit the fan blade with his pen. Before jumping out, he stared at Heena and said "works every time". He looked back and she smiled at him.

She got off the train at the last station. On the platform, a kid (beggar) started tapping her knee, asking for money to be placed on his palm. She ignored initially but got frustrated as the kid refused to let go. She was about to shout on the kid. But, a guy came from behind and gave the kid a biscuit packet. "Hi, I'm Vikram. I am the reason you are not sweating at the moment," he said.

Heena: "Oh! Yes. How come you are.."
Vikram: "Well, I thought I impressed you with the fan trick. So I boarded the train and kept looking for where you would get down. You know, in such situations, chances are that I would end up asking the girl out for coffee and she would not say no," he said.
Heena: "Ha ha. You know, I don't know how to tackle these beggars"
Vikram: "Tackle is a wrong word. Say face. Tea?"
Heena: "So how come you had a biscuit packet with you"
Vikram: "I have lots. I carry the Rs 2 Parle-G packets with me all the time. It helps me face the beggars. I don't want to give them money and I also don't want to use my judgment in choosing which beggars to help out. Actually, it's easier for girls to practice this, you all carry bags with you all the time, right? .. anyway, do you like Tea with Parle-G?"
Heena: "I do, but no. And hey, thanks for tips"
Vikram: "No problem, these fans will help me someday, for sure". He winked and left.

Heena ended up having a good start to the hot day. She started walking to her office and kept thinking about the guy and his tips & tricks. She stopped at a small shop to buy a cigarette. The vendor denied having change for Rs 10. She happily picked up 2 packets of the small Parle-G instead of the change.

The 2 packets got exhausted on the same day. Heena liked the feeling that she wasn't ignoring or tackling the beggars anymore. "Simple yet profound thought," she felt. She started practicing this habit and also told her friends about it.

-x-

A few months later, Heena was travelling to her native place which was a few hours of train journey from Mumbai. She placed her luggage below her berth in the train and went out to roam at the platform for some time. She had her iPod on and waited at the platform for the green signal.

She shuffled upon the playlist to listen to her favorite song "Sweet child o'mine."

"She's got a smile that it seems to me ..

Just then, a little girl came and tapped on her knee with a steel glass. Heena was surprised at the timing. She looked at the smiling little girl - blue eyes, fair, a tattered t-shirt, a dirty pant with pockets hanging out and brown dusty hair. The black tear marks on her cheeks made Heena feel pity. She checked her bag. One biscuit packet was there. She offered the packet to the little girl.

One hanging pocket went back in.

The little girl raised her glass to tap again but Heena turned towards a small shop to buy a water bottle. "Fifteen rupees," said the shop owner. "It says twelve on the bottle," said Heena. "And I say fifteen," replied the shop owner, without any change in his facial expressions. She took the headphones out of her ears and started arguing.

The little girl kept following Heena. She started tapping on her knee again. Heena looked at her and told the shop owner - "look, I do not have biscuits left in my bag .. you give me one packet .. I want to give it to this beggar .. you will still save one rupee". The shop owner gave up and handed over one packet to Heena.

The train honked as the green signal was given. As the train was about to leave in a few seconds, Heena handed over the packet to the little girl and rushed in to the train. She sat on her berth, opened up her water bottle and looked at the little girl from the window. Both pockets were in now. She smiled. The little girl, however, had confused expressions on her face.

Heena put the headphones back to her ears. Her favorite song was nearing its end. She took a gulp of water and placed her bag on the seat. The train began to move.

When she looked outside again, her eyes widened. As the train started moving slowly, she kept staring through her window -

The water tap on the station platform was at a certain height. The shop owner was filling water in the little girl's steel glass. The little girl took the water to her father, a crippled boot polisher, who worked at the station platform. She wasn't a beggar.

A tear maneuvered through Heena's cheek, depositing the black mascara on its sides, leaving a black tear mark. A permanent one.

.. where do we go now?" .. the song ended.

-x-

17 Comments:

musketeer said...

1. I like the names in your stories. Always.

2. Time to carry biscuit packets (to give to child, not to woo girls! :P)

sulagna ™ said...

waow...totally got absorbed into the post...loved loved loved the idea..do some more short posts like these please..

dippi said...

nice read ! liked how it unfolded at the end :) keep up sharmaji !

Narbhaksh! said...

I would go with chota dairy milk(it is easier to carry for guys), I loved the idea and its communication clarity... way to go dude, The story had an element of mystery all along...don't know Y!

PS: it takes me to 2nd position on the list :P

Vinay Sharma said...

Thanks to all the nice people for the comments!

@Sulagna - would definitely continue after such an encouraging comment:)

@AVSC - Mystery is what makes you read a longer blog. What i wanted to communicate was the difference between a surprise and a realization.

Vaib's said...

HEart touching hai bhai.. HAd tear in my eyes.
Swaad bhare shakti bharey PArle-G

Aastha said...

one of the best blogposts till date
u overcome the drawbck of ur last post in this one
that is articulation.

nice to know that the guy who thinks mauve is a cow stills knows whats a mascara!

Red said...

I am touched. We should start a production house, and start producing these in the form of webisodes. Are you sure you wanted to be an engineer? :)

Vinay Sharma said...

@Vaibo - 2 completely different sentences. Thanks for the first one, senti ho gaye tum toh :)

@Aastha - you are one of those few who actually relate to what i write! .. it also means that i need to get better and more clearer with the message i want to convey.

@Robin - thanks. engineering mind set does help in creating these stories, think about it! .. and you are always about business, what's with that :) ..

Kshitij said...

Absolutely engaging. The whole story my mind started thinking in advance as to the possible end... and to outsmart you... but didn't get to anywhere.

I liked some bits a lot. It even served a secondary purpose (like giving biscuits and all in place of money).

But primary... what was the primary purpose?
-same size fits all doesn't work?
-not everyone wants money?
-try n understand the other person and not follow things in a sacrosanct manner?

Did i miss it again .... uhhh no...
uhh... btw... what was the man with the pen for? just the give-biscuit lesson, right?

you will forgive me...na?

Vinay Sharma said...

Thanks man. To answer your questions:

Heena was surprised by Vikram's funda of giving biscuits. She started practicing the habit and felt great. For months, however, she was just happy with this one habit she picked up. May be because she felt she turned in to a nicer person.

In life, however, you can't learn all the good things from people. Some situations make you ponder upon yourself. These moments have a deeper impact and change you as a person.

It goes Act -> Habit -> Character

If she wasn't practicing the habit, she would not have felt so bad.

Sourabh said...

.. where do we go now?" .. the song ended. Superb Ending.

She threw away the iPod. Unnecessary.

Why? Because that's how i felt while i read the whole.

For the girl Vikram is a good surprise, something different in her daily routine.she learned new things,the buiscuit trick and started giving biscuits to beggers.

When she saw shop owner filling waterbottle for the little girl she felt sad. She felt disappointed in herself because she realized she is still tackling the beggers not facing them.

What i felt was sadness & disappointment not rage & anger to throw away the ipod.

Other than that rest of the post is awesome :P

Vinay Sharma said...

thanks for the nice critique!

btw, i did not make her throw away the iPod initially .. people asked me to do this as they did not feel the ending was good enough ..

Metallica bhakt! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Always Unlucky said...

I like your perspective! Will definitely visit again

From Computer Addict

sulagna ™ said...

Vinay time to pen down some more posts pls...

Vinay Sharma said...

thnx@computer addict

sure@Sulagna :) .. in a week or so