PUNE

The Arrival.

Love for trains.

So let’s start fresh with the train journey. I reached the Bangalore station two and a half hours before, defeating the infamous ‘Bangalore Traffic’. And entered the railway station. My love for railways is endless and a railway station is my kind of heaven. A railway station is not a place where people wait to catch their trains but is an endless pool of characters. These characters, you can shoot them, you can write about them or the thing I love most about them, just look at them and mentally frame them. I can do that endlessly for days and be fine with people calling me creep.

Despite not being a cricket fan, couldn’t keep my eyes of the phone in the guys hand sitting next to me on the bench, after all it was India Pakistan! As people moved in front of me some running like cheetahs to catch thier trains, some waiting like eagles with newpapers in their hand, some arguning with police officers about reasons that I didnt care to walk up to them and notice, some slipping on the puddle aside me and some skillfully avoiding it, I managed to look at all these and Yuvraj Singh on the crease as he managed to score 50 runs in some 30 odd balls. It gave me a little hapiness, without a reason.

I saw a train lining up in front of me, the first platform which is better known as ‘Platfrom No 1’. I didnt realsise that it was the same train that was suppose to be taking me to Pune, until I got up from the bench to see the display board, going only halfway to realise the electronic boards fixed aside the platfroms were displaying the number ‘11302’. I didnt know that the same train also travelled to Mumbai until I looked at the centre of the coach which read ‘Udyan Express’ with arrows made on either sides and Pune and Mumbai written on them. A little confusion spung up me, and I had to reach for my phone to confirm the train number, departure time and boarding station remembering about the one time when grandpa booked a ticket for a month after and me and mom boarded the train, sigh. I walked up 12 coaches to reach S-3, spare moments gives you enough time to do some stupid calculations like seat no 24 would be an upper seat third on the left. So I settled in and spend some time casually looking out of the window.

The inside of the train is not very different than a railway station. Again a pool of characters, my first two fellow passengers, were two boys as young as me, probably a couple of years older or younger. We just made casual eye contacts and some exchanges of looks. No one cared to make a conversation. The train started to move and just within a couple of station the train filled with more passengers, I rightfully shifted to the upper birth, ate the veg biryani that I brought from angelhack and called it a day.

I woke up at 9.15 the next day. Completed my daily ritual of posting on Instagram, you would have noticed this about me, if you follow me on instagram that 99% posts of mine are during the 9-10 period in the morning. After the usual look around for any more passengers I went to freshen up. Some time passed and I climbed down and took a seat in the bottom berth. One of the two guys I told about yesterday, was sitting by the window staring into his phone, his phone plugged into the charger. Soon the other one came down and I initiated the conversation by the regular, ‘Aur, aap kahan jaa rehe hain?’ (And, where are you going?. ‘Hum Mumbai ko jaa rehe hain’, now if you are not from Maharashtra or have never been here, you will probably frown a little bit on hearing that dialect. But that’s how hindi is spoken in this beautiful state.

‘Aur aap?’ he said looking at me. ‘Mai Pune’. After which some general introductory dialogues followed. It feels somewhat relaxing and refreshing to hear someone is trying to do something else than following conventional carrier choices. He said he wasn’t interesting in studies and wanted to write lyrics. His friend, the other guy, had recently completed his 12th (high schooling). Our conversation was pretty much limited to this much. The rest of the day passed easily as I slept through the most of it.

Pune’s first impression on me.

I was due to reach pune by four in the evening, and the train reached on time despite making some untimely stops causing delays previously. Once I reached pune, things were a little confusing, it took me some time to figure out where the entry of the station was. Once I was through with that, I went on to catch a bus from the terminus. Everything seemed normal except for a natural feeling of joy from the within, now that I think of it, I realise I haven’t had that feeling for a long time now. Once you start to like the way life treats you, you start to find an enchanting smell in the air, you start to see a different shade of light and pretty much everything you do makes you feel that everything is falling into the right places and there are somehow fewer things to worry about in life.

A happy me peeped through the bus window at the tall and complicated structures of city and the bus moved swiftly into its separate lane. This impressed me, I hadn’t quite seen a city where the busses had their own lanes, completely protected from the traffic. It seemed like a wonderful alternative for a metro, works pretty much the same way, just a lot less establishment cost. The bus dropped me near pheonix mall within 20 mins, I called the person from the PG (Paying Guest) I was going to stay at, asked them the address and headed there. He asked me to wait in front of the Hanuman Temple and I rightfully obliged. A young guy came on a scooter to pick me up. ‘PG?’, ‘Haan bhaiya.’. With just a couple of words we made a pact of agreement and I sat on the pillion. It hardy took him a matter of seconds and we reached the point where I could see a passageway starting right from the sidewalk. The entire street was filled with vegetable sellers in either sides, giving it a colorful vibe.

We headed inside, it was a typical cube shaped complex leaving the centre empty for parking. The guy who picked me up showed me a couple of rooms and I selected one on the ground floor. Surprisingly enough, with all the good things that have been happening to me lately, I got a pretty sweet deal. 6.5K for two people sharing the room, and you get dinner and breakfast, WiFi, common washing machine, a LED TV in each room along with a DTH connection. All of these wasn’t enough to blow my minds off so I asked the guy for the WiFI password, which he provided me, and as soon as I connected, 30 Mbps without FUP. Now that’s the kind of thing, which gets me really excited about stuff.
So after being excited about the internet for a few minutes, I decided to head off to the streets and take a look around the place. As I mentioned earlier my PG is located in a populated marketplace and is surrounded by small scale vegetable vendors. It was almost half past seven when I headed out, and most parts of the street was lit with yellow light from the tiny stalls and shops. I managed to click a picture or two and started to look for local street food vendors.

One cannot simply come to Maharashtra and ignore the streetfood. I quickly walked a kilometer or two and discovered the avenue where a bunch of wheeler stalls were lined up one after another with colourful boards and tiny lights. *description about bhelpuri* I ended up my day, with me eating bhelpuri at 11 PM watching all the youtube videos in high definition that I’ve missed in the last couple of weeks due to the exams.

The First Week.

The First Day at Office:

I fondly remember the day, I must be somewhere between 10 – 12 years old. I said to my father, ‘When will I get a big bicycle?’. He said, ‘When you’ll be 10th grade’. Even though I got my ‘big’ bicycle long before 10th grade this memory has stayed with me throughout. Whenever I feel like I’m growing up, I just look back at the day when my only objective was to grow up and get to 10th grade so that I can get a bicycle.

And from there, cut to 2017 and I’m heading for my first day at office. My initial plan was to wake up at 7.30 AM but strangely enough, I just manage to wake up seconds before my alarm rang to see the time on my phone and instead of putting it on snooze, I straightaway turned it off. The next time I woke up to see the time, it was 8:30 AM and I had sudden electricity pass through my body induced by the fear of being late on the first day at office.

If one thing living in the hostel taught me last year it’s that, one can wake up at 7.37 and catch the 7.45 bus in the morning just if you keep believing that you can. And I had an entire hour in my hand. So followed the regular rituals, except for the instagram post because it wasnt 9:30 yet. So everything looked good as I locked the door behind me, the day was overcast mostly with patches of sun seeping through. It did make me a little sweaty travelling to the office, since I had to walk a little bit, but definitely I’d prefer this a hundred times over the Chennai’s unforgiving weather. Fortunately enough, I reached the office in time, and most importantly before the boss, and won the battle in my head.

I remembered a quote while entered the office, it went something like, ‘Lower your expectations and you shall be happy’. A very simple and effective quote. It was a small office but had pretty much everything you could ask for. A coffee vending machine, modular desks, snacks at disposal, a functional internet connection, comfortable chairs. I don’t think an intern needs anything more than this. Now talking in terms of work, my first day was pretty light, my department leader Despina was off for the day, and luckily enough, no one else could assign me the tasks until she got back, so I spent some time reading about the companies protocols regarding designing and playing with the product company offered to the consumers. I left the office at 6, even though I wanted to leave early I didn’t because other people worked till then.

The entire time that I walked towards home, I only had one thing on my mind, how can I make the best use of the beasty internet? I came home somewhere about 7, and recalled about all the pictures lying in my camera roll that needed to be edited. So between editing pictures, eating dinner and talking to parents about the first day at office, three goddamn hours past.

So I decided to watch a movie, since it’s been more than two weeks since I watched one. And consuming good content is not a want, its a necessity. It’s food for the soul. Despite having almost 50+ entries in my watchlist I decided to skip all those and watch Logan. Now here’s a thing, I don’t care if it makes you cooler if you watch superhero movies, but it surely makes you classy if you don’t. But X-Men was a whole different kind, I’ve been watching it since childhood, and somehow all of it didn’t seem so ‘superheroy’. The entire likeability of a concept or a thing relies on how much you are able to relate to it. And somehow I was able to relate to the entire concepts of mutants with superpower. They weren’t trying to save the goddamn world like every other superhero out there, they were just trying to save themselves. Which makes a lot of sense in the real world as well. There are not really any aliens coming to attack the United States every year, on the contrary though the people of earth ironically attack each other in communities.

I have an old habit of watching a movie in installments, its like watching some part of it, and continuing the next day. Now most of you are going to hate this habit, but I have my own reason, the usual one is because the only time I see a movie was during the time I have lunch or dinner, so naturally it is periodic. But the rather unusual reason behind it is when you watch a movie this way, you get to do a lot of stuff with it. You can imagine the ending by yourself since you only watched half of it, you can think about the things that have already happened and think about what all things you may wanted to happen differently. And there’s this thrill and suspense about what’s going to happen that keeps your drive alive throughout the day. If you are lucky, you can even get a dream about it. Anyone who has a thing for movie, you should try this.

Weekdays.

The rest of the week has been pretty unexciting so far. I spent the most part of the first day waiting for Despina to come online on the first day, she came online for a very little time, to give me a couple of links for documentations, which seemed pretty similar to the ones I’ve already read. On the second day at work, luckily enough, I got assigned the task of creating a couple of icons. It took me some 15 mins of work in Illustrator and before I could ask her where to upload them, she disappeared again. I got to

 

Caged

Caged.
Rhesus Macaques. Captured on phone during my recent trip to Guindy National Park.

Do we really need zoos in 2017?


Let’s take a moment to talk about the animals. Caged animals.

Recently I found out that there’s a national park located right in the heart of Chennai city and on my visit there I came to know that the actual park is a restricted area and a portion of the national park has been converted into a small zoo and has been open for the visitors. They had named it the Guindy Children’s Park. Once I went inside, I got to see some of the sights which made me think on an issue which may really seem very insignificant to us and our ocean of issues right now but on second thought I wanted to write how I felt about it.

I had always imagined how it must feel to be inside a prison. Standing there by the railing, a feet away from these creatures, I could really see it right in front of my eyes, when I saw this baby monkey locked up inside this 16 feet by 16 feet cage-room. As I approached the enclosure, I could see an adult male monkey moving diagonally across the area towards the door. There weren’t many visitors, and I expected him to be a little excited to see me. But as it turned out seeing people is not exciting when you are doing it throughout your life locked inside a cage. Then I saw this little guy sitting a couple of feet from me.

He sat by a small foot lengthed wall which separated the the enclosure in two parts. He played with dirt  from a tiny hole between the floor and the wall. Occasionally he would run to this other monkey (in the picture) which I would presume was his mother and played with the leftover water in the pit. His mother looked agitated. She sat by the pit and tried to wave her hands across the water (or whatever of it was left inside it, as half the pit was already dry) in order to take out something from a hole inside the pit. In total there were about eight to ten monkeys inside the enclosure. Most of them spend their time lying across the floor.

Cute is used way more often to describe an animal as lovely and beautiful as the one in the picture but my mind had a different word for the situation, it was pity. That little guy right there, would probably spend the rest of his life inside that enclosure. His entire life, if he does not dies of some disease or malnutrition.

This entire situation reminded me of one of my visits that I had made to the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata back in somewhere around 2013. The fence was replaced with bars, and there sat a tiger instead of the monkey. Something remained a little similar. The expression on the face of these animals. It seemed as they had given up on life, it was just a matter of time they would have to spend before they are carried out of those dreadful cages. An unsettling stench surrounded those cages. I wondered, do all these people who come to see them, see that none of them are happy, some thirsty, some hungry. They don’t like the way some people just come and mock them, throw plastic bottles at them, make disturbing noises. They were not suppose to belong there.

The whole situation seemed quite ironic to me. What were we really trying to show to our children? It is 2017, and we still need animals in locked up cages to entertain us? Do we really? If we can identify the Dodo bird from our science books even though the description on the bottom reads ‘Extinct’? Why can’t we do the same for all the animals that still lives? If we really can stand up for our right of freedom would it be too much to ask for an animals to be left at its natural state?

When we have technologies to replicate the real world right in front of us in the most immersive form with Augmented and Virtual Reality, why not use these inventions to help these wonderful creations of nature?

I’m not blaming Guindy National Park or the Alipore Zoo, or any other zoo. I am rather astonished that it’s been this late and we haven’t realised that we don’t need zoos anymore.