The Sabbatical

The First Part
Needless to say, I loved my sabbatical from everything and everyone. Few days in a year to live for yourself is no mean thing. And considering the relief from the vagaries of the grueling fall semester, it was something I could really afford now, even if I questioned myself a hundred times on this regard. No contact with the outer world was a well sought after desire, especially after I mentioned about it here and I am glad that came about in its very own measure. And that meant staying out of social media, loved ones, friends and even the confines of my apartment. All the windows and vents for natural lighting sealed, the soul and the body were ready to go in for cleansing and I did not wish for any kind of intrusion into it. On the quest to clean up the systems, bring out a fresh zeal for life and more importantly, a re-energized self.
The Second Part
 
It was half-past 11 in the morning. I had woken up late, much to the chill for the sheer joy of it. I switched on the computer and all the networks got connected and I saw her online. She is 15 – a growing girl in her teens, trapped at an age where children generally find it hard confiding matters of their heart to their parents. Or as mothers say, “The age where I lost my baby and she went on to being a completely different girl.” Few minutes into our conversation, I could sense that she was a tad disturbed. Like she was hiding something and wanted to shout it out to the whole world. Her little fingers were seen grasping for the right words, something extremely unusual with her. I knew I had to do it for her sake, for I was aware of it since eternity. After all, she was my little baby and for once, was really looking up to me for help without really saying it out loud. Sensing the urgency on her face, I decided to kill her misery right away. Closed my eyes for a bit, and then went ahead and told her what I had gathered of the situation and my reflections on the same. The kind of reassurance that someone needs when they are faced with decisions in life – holding them to your side, with a promise of being there forever and ever and ever. The ice-breaker that it had turned out to be, worked wonders and lit up her eyes. And that little expression of relief and reassurance on her face at the end – priceless.
 
The Other Side
I had got misled into doing something, which was clearly not a thing of my ilk. For once, the guilt was so profound that forgiving self and moving on was just not an option anymore. The repercussions haunt me, even as I write this piece. But I am aware that life has to go ahead and not stagnate in the memories of the past. I needed the courage to stand up to life and face it as it comes to me.

:: Spotlight ::

I am somehow able to remember the dreams that I experience. I am afraid I might be alone in this world when I come to say that, but I do. Not that I remember them long enough to be etched into history, but long enough to write about what I saw early into the morning today (7 am). And strangely enough, the connect well into what lies ahead in life. Not that all my dreams comply to Freud’s* theory of wish fulfillment or is it influenced by events in the “day residue” but they serve as some sort of a connect to the future.So, I had a rather interesting dream today. 
Time has gone ahead and I have gone grey. I am still alone, quite predictable seeing the current trend. The place that I am in, is not very well defined. But I know seeing the people around me that I am in India. The sun hasn’t risen very prominently, but is nestled amongst the clouds. Its drizzling a wee bit too. The air has a fragrance of burnt/half burnt human flesh. The town has succumbed to a growing epidemic/phenomenon and very few people (mostly women and a very few men) have lived through it. And those who are alive are enclosed in a casing, transparent, which I think is made of glass. 
 
The scene outside is grim. Women are seen wailing their hearts out at the sight of their dead partners, children amongst others. They are covered by a coating of ice, so that they can sit near their departed loved ones. Maybe it is a means of prevention of the spread of the epidemic. Some of them are doing the last rites of their loved ones, something which has never happened before in India. The graves have filled out and overflowing. And the roads are soon filling up as make shift graveyards.  
It ended right there and I woke up to a start. Strange as it felt waking up to it, maybe the world is set to reach this stage 200-300 years from now. Have you, the reader experienced such notions about life ahead through the dreams you see? If yes, I would like to hear more on that.* Sigmund Freud – Austrian Neurologist, father of modern psychoanalysis. Author of the book, “The Interpretation of Dreams“.  The book is highly recommended for those who haven’t come across it.

The price is 35 Euros

Its almost 11 in the night as I leave Tecnico, for home. After a hard day – fighting deadlines, seeing UNITED lose and bow out of the Champions League, braving the cold (which is rather unusual for me, since I am from Chennai) I walk back, mind flooded with thoughts of the work pending. And of the life that I am living here.
As I descend the flight of steps, I see her standing near the parking lot on the opposite side. I slow down my pace to observe her. She is tall, well dressed and extremely beautiful for a Portuguese woman. A few cars slow down seeing her on the side of the road – some of them slow down, have a conversation with her and go away while a few others look at her and just speed up. Probably they did not like the “package”. Less than 5 minutes and there were already half a dozen cars stopping by her and they go through this routine.
And just when I give up on it and start walking, comes another car. I could see two men inside, mid 30’s. They have a little conversation with her. And yes, the deal is signed. She gets into the car which speeds away, out of my horizon. And I walk back home, the lady in the back of mind, and of the people who seek warmth in her in the chill of Lisbon.

On Birthdays, their relevance and the common sentiment associated with them

I recently came across this message on one of my women friend’s wall on Facebook
It read something like this:

Never thought that I would have so many surprises lined up for my birthday which I thought would be otherwise low-key. Thanks everyone for everything. I am glad you are with me, my precious!!! :)) :D.

And it somehow got me thinking on the relevance of birthdays among the two sexes and the common sentiment associated with it. Girls, as far as I know never have celebrated a “low-key birthday“. Yet, the reference for a low key birthday is obvious even when they themselves know it has never ever happened to them. Guys, on the other hand stand a very good prospect of celebrating a low-key birthday. Many instances would come to my mind in substantiating my stand on this.
When you are single (either by choice or chance) or stood up in life, there is a good enough possibility of it going low key coz nobody really cares apart from yourself. On the other hand, even if you are in a “thing” (as is the trend nowadays), you might still have a girlfriend who wouldn’t remember the dates (I myself had a couple of those) and would blame you (the guy) for the mishap that was called your birthday. But then, they are women so we men don’t make it such a big issue and tend to forgive. Imagine if you had swapped roles and forgot your girlfriend’s birthday, you can be rest assure the marching orders would be ready soon enough. :)There comes the aspect of relevance. I cant think of many men who would think of their birthdays being the most important days of their life. But on the other hand, its quite natural for women to feel so.
Coming to the common sentiment associated part, I found something amazing in this part of the world. The common sentiment associated with your birthday here is in loose terms, “something of a pure joy of growing old and having accomplished a milestone in life“. This is actually the most common sentiment  on a global scale, and you end up spending a fortune to let the world know that you are growing old. This is quite a contradiction to someone like me (I am always in the minority) who thinks that birthdays are just one more way of god telling you that you have one year less to the grave. Thus I never understood the whole concept of celebrating it ever since I was 18, I think. I still am unsure which of the versions is the right one, but continue to go about mine for the sake of convenience and comfort.
How do you, the reader view your birthday?

BRT Transmilenio : Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, the capital of Colombia is home to the pioneer of Bus Rapid Transit with the BRT Transmilenio. Handling about 1000 buses in the peak hour with real time dynamic scheduling, average speeds in the range of 28-40 kmph, a whole lot of innovative inter-modal transportation features. And that is not it. Watch the video to know how Transmilenio has changed the realms of Mass Transit in Latin America and possibly the world.