Saturday, August 30, 2008

One Simply Hell Of a Night

What I am about to describe was one memorable night. In every way.

Key Characters 1. Mr Aashish Ahuja - My friend, guide, philosopher and Aristotle known to me since 8 years. We have just shifted to a new house in sector 35 Noida.
2. Yours Truly
3. The Junior Engineer

Key Locations
1. Our House in Sector 35
2. Ilario and Costa Coffee shops in Atta market
3. The Electricity Board
4. Sumitra Hospital
5. The accident spot where a small red car that was stomped over by a 6 wheel truck
6. The Hotel That had AC Luxury Rooms

Have you ever known what it feels like to be the focal point of a storm, the reason of creation, being the behind the scenes strategist of some extremely critical development? I was thinking of myself as all this, no less than Chanakya hmself, after having successfully arranged and launched a particular campaign (that I can't name due to reasons of confidentiality) yesterday. And I was ecstatic at coming back home early for the successful launch meeting. Little did I know that the feeling would continue, albeit a bit morphed.
Just as I refreshed myself and set up my laptop to share all the fun with my girl, there was a sudden power cut. Now, its cool. In Noida its expected once in a while. I was pretty sure that it wouldnt last beyond an hour. But the story of this long night, my friends, had just begun.
Reality almost struck after about an hour of heat and misery and no power. So me and my friend Mr Ahuja decided to go down to Ilario, the air conditioned coffee shop with a wi-fi, relying on our ever so dumb but trustworthy maid to call us when the power is back.
Its 10.30 and Ilario decides to shut shops. No phone call from home yet. We ask our maid to check if there is power in nearby houses. And the insipid unsure response makes us laugh at our fate.
"Not her fault." says my friend. "If they knew any better, they wouldn't be doing what they are doing!"
I nod in complete peaceful agreement.

So we move our lazy arses to Costa Coffee for spending some more time in comfort, and debate the merits of the idea of a concept restaurant called "Lights Out", that provides extremely comfortable air conditioning and possible discounts during power failures, meant only for towns like Noida and other second level (Milk & Honey towns) where power failures are frequent.
By now its 11.40 and Costa wants to close too! Now what?
We reluctantly drag ourselves back to our sector and check with the security guard at the main gate for the status of the power.
"Sir! kucchh information toh hamein bhi di gayi hai power cut ki! (Some information about power failure has been shared with us as well!)" he beams a proud smile at us, as if the entire responsibility of the electricity board had just been entrusted upon him, and fumbles around with his register. Even before we heave a sigh of relief, that its not just us after all, he adds, "Sarsath number mein bhi bijli nahin hai Sahab! (Theres no power in No. 67 as well Sir).
Thats OUR house number. Well, so we ARE screwed.
We reach home and furtively check all DP switches for any trips. No clue. And we begin our hunt for THE Electricity board office.
This, my friends was a killer. This board's location could have easily been part of a spooky treasure hunt
We are directed near Prakash hospital, and enter a dark, silent, unlit, slip road with a care center for special people to our right. This is where we were told, the board was supposed to be. We see an eerie dead-end beyond which there are nothing but bushes, giving a feeling of a cemetery. We backtrack thinking we had turned wrong. We ask another petrol pump chap and he redirects us to the SAME road. We are amused and go back and decide to explore the dead end. Whoa! suddenly a right turn appears, hidden amidst bushes and broken tree trunks. We enter and keep moving. NO sign of life, light or electricity. Quite not like where an Electricity Board should be! Inspite of all our efforts we end up taking an entire round and reach back on the main road.
THIS cant be happening!!

We ask a traffic cop this time and he again directs us towards the SAME obscure road, saying we need to take a left into a "thin" road somewhere in between! OK then.
So here we are again, near a hospital/care center for special people, reaching a cemetery like dead end, turning right into a sudden unexpected pathway and looking for a "thin" road on left. And we see... something.
"No. It cant be THAT thin!" I exclaim in surprise. Mr Ahuja bursts out laughing. We decide to turn into what seems like a booby trap. The road is just enough for the bushes to graze the sides of my car without slowing it below 20kmph! Also, there isnt ANY office or buliding in sight! This area was way too silent and lonely and the landscape very eerie. We contemplate conspiracy theories where electricity board guys cut power of some houses and con innocent residents into coming to a place like this and loot and kill them. We havn't even moved like 200m when suddenly, almost like a black magicians spell, The Electricity Board springs up on our left!
Wow! Finally!

After a mini celebration about how we can share these stories with our grandchildren, we enter the gate. Everythings locked. We call a number written above the main counter window. A cell phone rings nearby and a sleepy voice agrees to step out of what seemed like a locked door.
The chap breaks the news to us that the electricity has been cut due to non-payment of arrears. And he cant do anything now even if we pay him an extra buck. We try all tricks but the guy doesn't budge. Apparently the bill amount is very high! We are least concerned now, and we just want the power! Its 12.30 and my never-give-up friend Mr Ahuja decides to call the JE!
As he explains in his not-so-humble-and-requesting a tone that we need the power for the night as we are only tenants who have hardly stayed here for a few weeks, the sleepy JE looses his temper!
"Ek toh bill nahin bharte hain or upar se der raat call kar ke tang karte hain!" (On one hand you guys dont pay your bills and then you disturb us by calling late at night!!) and he cuts the line rudely.
My now calm friend thinks to himself and to me, quite blankly I must say, "Yaar baat toh woh theek keh raha hai!". I can't control my laughter on this sudden change of his emotions towards the situation!
I decide to message my landlady, so that she at least responds first thing in the morning!

So well, now that we have been having fun and there is no way of having power back before next morning, what are the options now? We debated that we could spend time till early hours in the all night coffee shop of Radisson, may be find a friend to lend us a couch, or possibly look for a hotel/hospital/guest house anything with AC!?
This debate also led us to an amusing realisation that all our friends are either married or living with their families (thats basically because we have 2 close friends around. 1 is married and other is living with his family!)
We decide to charge our cellphones first, as we would need them first thing next day morning, and go to the Sumitra Hospital security post, very close to our house. They have a 24 hour canteen! We buy a sprite and my friend suddenly finds someone at the reception and enquires for a bed in the hospital!
"AC please! How much?" he says. The guy responds saying Rs.1300 for the room, but that he needs to check if its available.
Here let me add that my friend is a self confessed AC addict. He believes that the second best invention by man, after AC, is the wheel. I am not too kicked with the idea of looking for a room in a hospital.
"Isnt it just too weird to spend the night in a hospital bed?!" I argue.
He retorts, "My friend, if I have the AC I could sleep with rats around!". I cant argue further.

Fortunately (for me) there is no AC room available. While we are charging the phone, we decide to walk around in our locality and are amazed at the quality of beautiful buildings around. We curse them for enjoying their time while we spend the night in misery. We suddenly find a huge house that almost looks like a guest house and has like 6 AC's jutting out from one side wall! We reach the main gate of this place only realise that its a private residence!
Well, so there we were, at 1.30 am, reliving our college days when we used to spend nights roaming around on roads of chandigarh, having coke and discussing "A Brief History Of Time" line by line! Having a good time, I guess, is only about making the best of an opportunity! Any opportunity.

My friend then had a brainwave. He knew a decent hotel in Noida that has AC rooms and isn't too far away from our place. And that its very much within our budgets. I go along as I am neutral to the requirement of AC given that the weather was now bearable. Its 2.00 am by now.
We have hardly moved out of our sector when we witness an amazing accident of a 6wheel truck with a small red car at an intersection! The truck had STOMPED all over the car and the car was stuck under the truck now. It was hopeless. We were partially feeling lucky that its not us and decide to drive very carefully, almost in shock.
We were moving in a small red car!
My friend switches on the parking lights, and we decide to go real slow. Amused at all that trucks can do. He goes, "That car guy must have seen the latest SX4 ad and got carried away!".
Its then that we suddenly realise that theres a HUGE truck right ahead of us and instead of going farther away, its actually is moving closer to us! The sight of my friend's panic was worth capturing, given that we were moving at 20kmph and the truck was backing at not more than 4-5!! Still I take a detour.
As we are driving towards the place, I generally ask him how does he know about the hotel.
"I stayed there almost 4 years ago, for some Jubilant work!"
"What?!?!?" I cant stop laughing. I was like, "What do you expect?? Even if the place still exists, the prices wont be the same!!"
And apparently the place had been shifted (although my friend denies my claim now) and there was a posh SPICE telecom office building in the same spot.

NOW WHAT?... we realise that there is nothing much to do and there might be more hotels in the area so we keep driving when we suddenly see a neon board saying "AC Luxury Rooms available". Hurray! This looked like the Holy Grail! We finally find a decent place. At the counter, my friend asks for a room for 2 only for the night.
Now let me tell you that it can get a little embarrassing. 2 guys asking for a room for one night! I was forced to add, that actually our land lords have not paid the bill and the power has been cut so we are sort of in trouble!
Anyway. We enter the room. The AC seemed to be bringing the temperature down @ 1 degree per hour. Yet it was much better.

Tired, we both fall asleep.

1. My car was safe until next morning. (Yes this may sound out of context, but is important for me.)
2. The hotel was not as cheap as my friend had envisaged. We were in a Rs 2500 room. I bargained the deal for a grand and closed it.
3. The landlady called early morning and promised to sort out the issue, which DID get sorted out by 5.00pm. So we are comfortable as of now, just in case you are concerned.
4. And remember the JE? We called him again. He said that the unpaid arrears on our house were... Rs 1,75,000!

Well... one hell of a night it was! :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For her...

I wrote a few things and I trashed them in my imaginary digital waste paper basket! (Its always a good sign when you trash your own words many times before you actually write something worthwhile, and then trash that again, because you just found something even more apt and worth writing. Its a good sign because you know that now what you are writing, really matters.)

I was trying to create poetry about how she has painted life with love, and how she can sing on a canvas and write on hearts. How her passions flow like wild winds, invisible yet powerful. I was writing about how she can teach "peace" a thing or two because when she really needs to be held, she just... lets you. I was thinking about how she is the evidence that the wait is always worth it!
And so on and on I went, and realised there was no end to it, for there is no end to her charm, goodness and beauty.

So, I think the only thing really worth writing is that... I have found someone I will happily spend the rest of my life with.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life Still Hectic

Have shifted houses within Noida and have been literally displaced. Hathway guys do not have their broadband network in the new sector that I shifted in so it has taken 20 days for me to get a new Internet connection.

Meanwhile... Trippin Thru has been updated with our Khajuraho trip!


RR is planning a come back soon.

चीर्स :)

Intellectual Property - Beware