Thursday, February 09, 2017

A brown paper package

It was the summer of ’95. Or perhaps autumn. One would never know in the Chennai of those years, whose best friend was the sun, monsoon only a one-day trickle that flooded not the discarded cap of a cola bottle.

I alighted from the cycle rickshaw, and sauntered home, looking forward to the weekend. Outside the door there were a lot of slippers, and inside, a lot of noise, mostly female. “That’s strange”, I told myself, as the house would usually be empty at that time of the day, save my mother with some interesting smells wafting from the kitchen.

Inside, a strange sight greeted me. My mother was sitting in the middle animatedly discussing something with the horde of neighbors who had descended upon our house, gesticulating at a brown paper package kept at the corner of the drawing room.

I looked at her, at the neighbors and at that package in the corner. The package seemed infinitely more interesting than the rest of the objects and subjects there, so I walked towards it hurriedly. “Stop! Don’t go near that box!” my mother rasped sharply. I looked around wondering why it was such a big deal, which is when the story unraveled.

The box had originated in Australia (as evidenced by the postmark) and traveled a considerable number of weeks before being delivered in our humble abode a couple of hours ago by the ever dependable India Post. It didn’t have a source address or name, but it did have a destination address and a name, both matching our coordinates. Going on in her animated voice, my mother said she suspected it could have a bomb and so they (she and the neighbors) were discussing on the best course of action to take. 

Eventually, curiosity overcame the cats in the room and the few kittens scattered around. It was decided that the package should be opened, my mother reasoning that India Post must have got wind of it if it indeed contained a bomb (Really? India Post? In the 90s?). 

So was it opened, to a dream come true for me. It was WonderLand, La La Land, NeverLand, DisneyLand all put into one. It was a brown paper package that wasn't tied up in strings but filled with my most favorite thing - stationery!!!

Colorful pens, pencils long and short, crayons and water colors, sparklers galore, notebooks beautiful, sheets and sheets of lovely paper, some really cool sharpeners, many shaped erasers - oh the list goes on! I was lost in a trance flooded by the deluge, but I did manage to have a huge fight with my mom after the neighbors left. How could she have invited the whole world to open this love of my life? Like how some people don't like sharing their chocolates, I don't like sharing my stationery. Most. Definitely. Not.

P.S.: The package was from one of dad's business associates in Oz land, as a goodwill gesture for the profits he made thanks to dad. And, it was meant for me and me only (not even my dad). He of course had not anticipated shares for the neighbors! And I never bothered to find out how random he could have been not to mention the "From" address on the package.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What I lost this year

No. This isn't a post summarizing my year, so you can safely continue reading beyond this point. Also, it isn't a rant about losses I might have faced this year. Safe still.

I have had a complicated, rather hate-filled relationship with religion for many years now, rituals particularly. I am convinced that religious rituals were introduced and improvised upon by greedy pundits to create and sustain a growing revenue stream for themselves and their progeny, so it hasn't been without disdain that I have walked into places of worship and participated in religious ceremonies (mine own wedding included). Also, schooled in an Arya Samaj educational institution made it hard for me to believe in idol worship, for the Samaj was particular about teaching us that there is only one God and (s)he doesn't live in idols and random rituals. So, the hurdle of losing belief in places of worship was crossed very early on in life. What remained beyond that was only belief in God, a supreme being.

And then 2016 happened.

I am not sure what snapped the brain, there was no big event that made me look differently at the concept of God. Perhaps, it was just too much intellectual masturbation with S or trying to see things from different points of view as part of Ze Salon. Things changed over the course of the year, and here I am, at the end of it, having lost my belief in God. Contrary to opinions I may have held in the past, that hasn't made me a happier person.

The belief in a greater God gives a sense of hope, the optimism that things will be alright even when the odds are completely stacked against one's favour. There is that teeny tiny open space beyond logic and rationale that one can fall back on to, because an unknown, abstract larger-than-life figure may potentially influence outcomes. What I have lost isn't the loss of belief in God, but that loss of a sense of irrational optimism, hope and security that I may have possessed before. It has become impossible for me to not over-analyse a situation, sit back and relax, and say "God may still wave his magic wand in my favour". It has become impossible to wonder with joy at events thinking "Miracles are possible". It has become difficult to trust in luck, chance, fate etc. In fact, it has become hard to tread that fine line of believing in random events without believing in someone trying to orchestrate the randomness. Because, the mind isn't able to process how a random event can happen, it isn't able to accept random for randomness' sake. 

This loss of belief in God could have been the worst thing to happen to me in 2016, because it has left me a lot less hopeful and a lot more cynical than I already was. I do wish I never set out on this quest, to begin with. But then there is no reversing the past, there is no way I can go back and convince myself to start believing in God now unless a big miracle happens. Or something like that.

Perhaps, 2017 would throw open a few more answers beyond the "Believe in yourself. You are your own God."

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why we should mock, stalk and quarrel

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
If there is one inspiration I have had in using sarcasm as the foundation to sum up the learnings of life, it is G B Shaw's writings.

Sarcasm and satire are powerful tools in breaking the all-is-well myth, shaking up the general public to the realities of on-ground struggles and hitting hard where it hurts, yet maintaining an element of humour and light-heartedness in getting the message across. And, after all, no good tool ever goes wrong.

Mock, Stalk & Quarrel (MSQ), a collection of short stories, is one such execution of sarcasm and satire, that emanated from a nationwide contest conducted by Readomania. The book consists of 29 stories penned down by a diverse crowd of authors, seasoned and first-time,  voicing the stark realities and empty promises of our establishment and society, and the impact on lives that matter. 

The stories range from corruption to bureaucracy, religious fundamentalism to nepotism, as they attempt to wage an ideological war against issues that matter. 

Going back to Shaw's quote above, our attempt with this endeavour has been to communicate, and communicate in powerful packets, what's running and ruining the world, while steering clear of trying to create illusions that matter not. Also, in this fast paced world of ever changing internet sensations and fads, of rising and falling billion dollar valuations, what better way to communicate than in short stories that you, our reader, can relate to and absorb, while you munch on those quick fix sandwiches and take-away coffees, on your way to work.

MSQ launches on the following dates in Delhi and Kolkata. Do pop in to be part of the celebrations. 

  1. Delhi launch - 25th November - 6.30pm - IIFT Auditorium, Qutab Industrial Area
  2. Kolkata launch - 26th November - 5pm - Kolkata Press Club, Dufferin Road, Maidan
Also, keep following our Facebook page for regular updates on the launch, contests and most importantly, on how to get your hands on copies of the book.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

That advanced decay

I just finished shaking all over, thought it will never end. My mother says I should never have tried to confront anyone on the road. But, hell, this is Mumbai, the safest city in the world. Ok, let me go back a few hours in time to bring you up to speed. 
At 7 pm today, I was waiting at a busy signal on the worli sea face, with a sea of vehicles ahead of me, when a Qualis bumped into me from behind. A deep bumper dent. I was livid. And, somehow, I couldn't let it be. I got down to confront the driver of the car, MH 04 ES 5067. He is a big burly guy, this Daljit Singh, and he started yelling at me as I walked towards him, saying I was driving slowly and wrongly. I pointed out to him that I had in fact halted the vehicle awaiting a green signal. He didn't wait to listen, and that's when I noticed the Uber tag. So, I took a photo of the tag to keep a record of his name and number, telling him I would complain against him. 
And then, I got into my car, to get the signal, because the good people of Mumbai were in a hurry behind me and I didn't want to hold them up. 
No, it did not end there. As soon as I crossed the signal and the traffic police manning it, Daljit Singh came at me hard and strong. I was on the right most lane close to the divider and he came in from the left and tried to smash me into the divider. I was stunned, but not enough to get into shock. I couldn't halt because an Audi was coming down fast behind me. I tried keeping up the fight honking madly, and thankfully the next signal halt happened. I had very nearly died, but I couldn't give this up. I got down again and confronted him. He tried to hit me and I appealed to the passengers in the car. They grinned at me, they grinned at me as he tried to slap me. And this was in the middle of Worli Sea Face, that beautiful, wide, large, busy road. I gave up, and shaking, got back into the car, pulled up at the side to place a complaint with the Mumbai traffic police. As luck would have it, there was no traffic policeman at this one. 
So after dropping an email complaint to Uber and a Facebook complaint to Mumbai police, I came home and wondered about the decay of our civilization - not about that driver who would have killed me today, not about the cars behind me that ignored this drama, but about those two passengers who thought this was great entertainment on a Thursday evening. Someone who thinks it is entertainment to see someone else die doesn't really deserve a place in this world. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

A polish, quadrilateral

I was not a "make-up" person as a child. Or as an adolescent. Or as a young adult. I am not sure whether I found it terribly boring, or I considered myself too cool (the cool word for nerdy) to devote time to make-up. Also, it did not help that my parents were strongly against the very idea of make-up, and I never did want to disappoint them on any plane (my grades stand testimony to that). However, over the years, my views on make-up have changed. I have learnt to respect people who love themselves enough to spend time on and with themselves. And, looking good always makes one feel oodles better. Now, the years are all lost, and I have nothing to blame but my own laziness for not having loved myself enough. Though realization has hit me late rather than never, it hasn't really changed anything on the make-up side. I still don't own any make-upy products, though it ain't for lack of trying. 

Oh yes, I have attempted to walk into fancy shops in high end malls selling the latest in make-up, but always paused at the entrance, my feet growing colder by the millisecond. What will I ask for? Wouldn't I look dumb if I didn't know a foundation cream from a foundation lotion? Wouldn't I seem stupid if I didn't know what tone of face powder suited my skin? Would that good looking beautician over there look down upon me if I told her I don't know how to apply mascara? And, so, I would drop the idea, and quickly walk out of the mall, congratulating myself on saving money than spending it on make-up I don't understand.

While make-up has been, is, and will continue to be an elusive dream, I do have one vice (or virtue) that makes up for the lack of make-up. I love nail polish, always have. And, mind you, no disapproving glances from the parents have turned me off the allure of the polish. The only problem is, I don't get the damn thing. I mean, not get as in find or buy. I just don't have a very healthy relationship with it. The polish doesn't turn into an elegant show of beauty on my hands and feet. Ne'er has, and looks like ne'er will. 

Countless are the times when I, as a 12 year old put it on, smudged the whole thing on all my nails because I wanted to walk immediately to the bathroom and wash my hands and feet, and then removed it impatiently with the nail polish remover. Typically, by the third such cycle, I would be done for the day, only to resume a few weeks later. Strangely, it has never bothered me that after all that investment of time and polish, my nails would be colorless. 

Now, as a grown up, it is no better, though I have learnt the art of approximately fitting some color into the almost-quadrilateral surfaces my nails are, blowing hard and strong at each nail for a good 2 minutes after the application, and then resume my walk to the bathroom. Also, I have learnt why I apply nail polish, without bothering about the inelegance of the outcome. I like the idea of coloring my nails, and the time I am doing it keeps me happy. It doesn't seem to matter that the end result wouldn't be beautiful in the socially acceptable sense. 

How liberating to know that I have always loved myself in my own little way, applying quadrilateral polishes to my hands and feet, if not skin-tone foundation and sky-blue mascara to my face!

Friday, May 27, 2016

An evening by the sea

Which is your favourite sun? The early morning one easing you out of dreams, the mid afternoon one sending you off to sleep, or the rainbow maker, sprinkling its surprise rays amidst a soothing drizzle?

My favourite sun is the 7 pm one, an orangish round ball playing peekaboo behind that screen of clouds, swaying in harmony to the beats of the waves, an approving smile on his face at my date with twilight, with a mild and calm wink reminding me that night is 'round the corner. 

As he slowly sinks into the horizon, retiring for the night, the sea blanket tucking him to bed, she rises, the queen of the night, casting a warm yet cool glow on her subjects - those lovers holding hands whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears, those boisterous children running around with rubber balls and plastic bats, a walker here, a gymnast there - and on it goes, another moonlit evening by the sea. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Body shamers

I have always been what one would, if they wanted to be polite, call "healthy" - a chubby child, an awkwardly big adolescent and now, a rotund adult. Neither I nor the people around me have forgotten that, and when I am not taking digs at my own size, my family and friends would run jokes on my behalf. In fact, my cousin's childhood nickname for me was "Moti", and he most definitely was not referring to pearl. I have never considered digs about my weight or size "body shaming", till almost a decade back at B-school.

At the end of a morning class session in the first term, a classmate came up to me and told me, very gleefully, how a bunch of guys in the last bench were just discussing about how large my arms were and the apparent sex appeal in them. My friend, who was sitting next to me, shooed him off saying he was talking 'bakwaas' and he should shut up. But, I was mum, a tad too numb, because I was too shocked that someone said that to me, about a specific body part. I didn't turn up in class the rest of the day as I spent the day wondering about what body parts of me people would be looking at or thinking of instead of talking to me, if and when I turned up. Of course, I went to class the next day, because I couldn't miss the course for the sake of a few bozos. However, my only regret for so many years now has been that I did not give it back to that guy, and had it buried inside me for so long. 

That situation has now been taken care of. The person contacted me for something, and while I was still mum during the initial conversation, something in me snapped when he said, "Looks like you are loving fitness routines. Your photos seem to suggest you have lost weight." I just told him that I am still the same person, only that no one body shames me any more unlike a bunch of bullies back in B-school. It felt good, though it was many thousand hours late.

Body shaming, as the urban dictionary informs me, is about shaming a person for their body. And, it isn't always about a fat person. It is about that girl who has a stick thin body and is insecure about it, because someone once told her that her clothes hang on her like on a pole. It is about the dark skinned boy who is compared to the night of the new moon or a 'karuvadu' (sun-dried fish in Tamil) day in and day out. It is about that short boy being told he will not find a girl his size and a tall girl being informed she is too much of an ostrich for marriage. For years, marketing companies have used our insecurities and these body shamers' words to coerce us into buying and using things we may perhaps be better off without than with. 

No, I am not going to spend time giving links to those advertisements and the outrage in media over them. Many a good samaritan has already taken care of that. I am just going to remind you, the body shamed (no one has the picture perfect body after all), to give it back when someone tries to shame you. You may yell, you may talk nicely, you may smile, you may not smile. Just drive the point across. The more you call out the shamers on their shaming, the lesser they will shame everyone, and the better this world will be, for us and our future generations too.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Looking back

I was tempted to write Z for Zummary, win-win at one attempt, a summary of the A-Z blogging challenge while also taking the easier way out on Z. But, that seemed like cheating, grossly mis-spelling the word and also denying this blog the chance of one more post for this month. More importantly, the only letter I was sure about when I started the challenge was Z, Ze Salon all over my mind and my Facebook feed these days. So, you, my reader, have to live with one more post from me, a takeaway of sorts, from this one month of blogging.
  • When I started this challenge, I was quite sure C would be the last my blog would see this month, 3 posts in 30 days. And, in fear of my anticipated failure, I didn’t tell anyone (including V) about the challenge, for a couple of days. But, discipline can work wonders. Every morning, I was out to prove myself wrong, that I could write a post a day, and it has worked well, quite surprisingly.
  • Being part of a global challenge is a good thing, perhaps the best of things. I registered on the A-Z challenge website on March 31st, a day before the challenge began. My number then was 1789. The rule is that, if my blog looks like a marketing tool / is inactive / doesn’t have a post for 5 days in a row during the challenge, it would be removed from the list. Naturally, my ever active competitive spirit kicked in, instinct not letting me rest for fear of being removed from the list. I have finished at 1166 today, which means my perseverance won over ~600 others.
  • Oh well, now that the challenge is over, I am missing it already and feeling a little empty. Can I wake up this Monday morning and start with a again? I could do my own A-Z challenge for May, but I have a fleeting feeling that without the ranking and competition, I will be a very lazy and undisciplined kid. If only I could cover some of these myriad topics across the next few months just as blog posts, that will be a win in itself.
  • I am a grammar freak, as you would know, if you know me well. I spend inordinate amounts of time editing my posts and not just because I know there are well meaning friends out there waiting for the first opportunity to catch me in the act of committing grammar crimes. But, this month, I removed that part of me and put it inside the far end of the “discard” closet as I wrote. There are many posts here that I did not read a second time before posting. My G for Grammar Nazi post had (still has) some glaring, pathetic language errors. It’s alright sometimes, I have learnt. Moving ahead becomes difficult when the mind is shackled by too many structures and constraints.
  • The challenge suggests that it will be nice to have a theme across the 26 posts. Being the generalist I am, I did not think of or commit to one particular theme. I did not want to be shackled to it! But, I have ended up writing a fair number of posts that have a flavor of travel across the month, about Prague, Paris, Ljubljana, Amsterdam and Dubrovnik. I had taken a travel diary with me last year while on one of my trips, and the things I jotted down then greatly helped in shaping some of these posts. The idea is more so reaffirmed in my mind now, that I should always carry a travel diary with me, even if it is old-fashioned in this era of smart phones and tablets.
  • This is my first year of the A-Z challenge, though I have been following Sayesha, who takes up the challenge every year and writes some very interesting posts. My only focus this year, as a newbie, has been to write every day. The challenge is much more than that. The challenge is also to read as much as we can, of the others who take the plunge along with us. I have failed miserably in the reading part. Reading requires discipline, just like writing, and it cannot be ignored because a ranking system is not tracking how many posts I read every day or how many comments I post every day. That’s definitely a big failure, and I hope I can work on it next time around.
  • All of us have a “want to be appreciated” motive in mind when we do things – performing well at work, doing a concert on stage, displaying our artistic creations in a gallery, writing a book and publishing it. I am no different, no evolved human who creates just for the sake of creation and inner happiness. I write my blog posts and advertise them in all free media – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus (even that!). And I like being read and told they are nice posts. It is new energy being pumped into me every time someone says that they read the post and it was nice. This time has not been very different. Many of you have appreciated me for taking up the challenge, and more importantly, have read these posts I have been writing. It truly means a lot to me. So long, and thank you for all the support J

Z for Ze Salon

Salon has its origins in 17th century France, a social gathering of writers and artistes. This short video gives a good summary of the idea, and what role women played as hostesses of the salons, in that century.

S, inspired by this idea, conceptualized Ze Salon in November last year, a recreation of 17th century French magic in 21st century modern India. It took me mere weeks to join her on this journey, for nothing sounded more exciting than providing a platform for people from diverse backgrounds to come together and share their perspectives on different topics.

Ze Salon is a community where everyone can share their views and thoughts on a plethora of topics, ranging from politics to religion to human behavior to feminism. It is a platform that speaks and listens, listens especially in earnest of the other end of the spectrum, the other perspective. 

In the five months of our existence, we have discussed nationalism, atheism, reservation in education and society's judgmental attitude, amongst other things. More importantly, we as hosts, and also our guests (per their own testimonials) have realised it is possible to broaden our perspectives, even if not always agreeing with opposing ideas.

As a part of this journey, our aim is really not monetary or business linked. In fact, as S and I joke often, we have the unique value proposition of a completely loss making business if we were to call it that. Ze Salon is a tryst with change. If we can have conversations with the aim of listening rather than reacting, our goal of increasing tolerance levels and empathy in the community would be accomplished, in our own small way. That would be such a beautiful world to live in, wouldn't it?

P. S. This post is the twenty sixth and last in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y for Yoga

I was 5 years old when I was enrolled into the “best” yoga program in the city, because my child specialist had suggested yoga would help increase my immunity level. 

I kind of liked the location. It had a huge idol of Patanjali, a sage who compiled Yoga sutras in the ancient past. The idol was right next to a tree towering over it which showered fragrant flowers right on top of the idol, and the whole scene was nothing short of serene. And the place inside had multiple yoga rooms with individual sessions. Well, they weren’t really rooms, to be fair to the beauty of the place, and the lack of vocabulary creativity within me. They were small hutments with thatched roofs, off shoots littered across the property, and each one had a dedicated Yoga teacher imparting the knowledge of Yoga to young and old, man and woman. The place was largely silent, true to the spirit of the Yoga taught there, and it might have given any meditation center of today a run for the money.

I was assigned to this menacing lady who was (and hopefully still is) extremely committed to the cause of Yoga. She wouldn’t wear a smile on her face, but her asanas were perfection. And, I would work hard just to please her, because what better joy can there be than pleasing the best in the trade. It didn’t matter that she was all of 16 and 5 feet tall. The confidence with which she carried herself taught me very early on that neither age nor size matter. Looking back, I can imagine what a scary class monitor, peer, student, and mother she must have turned out to be. But, my health did take a turn for the better, thanks to the rigor and science behind the exercises.

As with all new things learnt and lack of discipline, I lost touch with Yoga and future attempts to regain the mastery never worked, I suspect because I never got my first teacher back. I wonder sometimes, what she is up to now. If things worked well and her students reciprocated with the same commitment that she showed towards the art, I am sure many lives would have been touched and changed for the better.

P. S. This post is the twenty fifth in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April. 

X for Xerox

“Excuse me, ma’am,” said he as he walked in at 9 a.m., a good half hour after class had begun. The Professor beamed at him as if he had just got her a bouquet of fresh flowers. I seethed mildly as I sat on the first bench taking down notes, as he promptly walked to the last bench and settled down, ready to start the CP (Class Participation).

He was known for this – coming in late unfailingly every day, and yet the teacher’s pet – because he would ask some complicated questions on data structures and Boolean logic and then answer those himself. There was something attractive about him, his intelligence, his non-understandable questions, everything except the walking in late, I thought, as I got on with the notes.

In a few weeks, mid-terms arrived and I was swamped with requests from all and sundry in class for my notes. Word had gotten out that I had taken some mighty notes, and the boys who had got through the course with proxy attendance needed something, anything, to clear the exams. I didn’t know how many copies were made of my notes though grapevine had it that bulk copies were made in the neighborhood Xerox shop.

After the exam, he came over and said, “Hey. Thanks for the notes. They were quite detailed.” I started. “Huh?” I asked, in what he would in later years call my tremendously rude tone, as if he had stolen something from me. “Oh! I got your notes from P. I used them to study last night,” he said with a sheepish grin. The grin was slightly killing, so I let him be, only with a modest, “The notes are nothing. You need to teach me data structures and probability sometime.” He seemed to have taken my words quite seriously, for there he was, diligently following up the next day asking when I wanted to be taught data structures and probability.

The rest, as they say, is history.

When I was racking my brains for X, and had finally landed on X-Ray, V was vehement that at least one post had to be about him. So, here it is, about my notes stealer and algorithm teacher, in fact the best algorithm teacher I have ever known in my life!

P. S. This post is the twenty fourth in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

W for Wanderlust

I was not an aspiring wanderlust growing up. No, I have not covered as many countries or traveled as exotically as many of my friends have. But, of late, I have picked up joy from traveling and have even toyed with the idea of doing a solo trip, this girl here being my latest inspiration. How would it be like, to walk the paved streets of a city alone, traversing the maps, struggling with the local language, figuring out their tram / metro transport, bumping into people I don't know and having a laugh with them.

I have taken a step ahead in the solo thingy, twice in my life, though there are miles to go before I can call myself a solo traveler. 

The first time was at Amsterdam, when I had to take a tram alone in an unknown city for the time, to get to Rijksmuseum. It was my first European museum visit, and by far my best (yeah, even better than the Louvre). The autumn flowers were withering away, winter was setting in, the sky was a dull grey, and all around me was a sparsely populated city walking in dark winter coats and boots. On I went directly to Rijksmuseum, and identified a cafe opposite the museum to settle down for breakfast and hot chocolate. It was as if time had stopped still. There was no one but me, and my kindle, there, in the semi-open door setting, looking out at the museum and the "I Love Amsterdam" structure ahead. I wanted to sit there forever and read my book in peace, but then reminded myself that in order to get full value for the money of my trip to Amsterdam, I needed to get out and explore the place. Collecting an audio guide and a map of the museum, off I went in and in to the museum, eventually spending a good two hours marveling at the creations. Other than some of the most famous paintings housed in there (the Night's Watch is quite breathtaking), the category that caught my eye was the miniature. Miniature doll houses with furnishings and furniture mirroring the real ones (made from the same materials too - teak for teak, silk for silk) were the most beautiful. So were the miniature apothecaries filled with medicine bottles, measurement tubes and some such. After I had exhausted the museum and bought trinkets at the museum shop like a true tourist, I went to another cafe to relive my solitary happiness. After a few minutes there, I was bored of being alone having spent over half a day without talking to anyone. Thankfully, V joined by then, after finishing some urgent work, cooped up in the hotel room (on holiday!).

The second time was more of a real solo day, at Dubrovnik last year. We had estimated more time for Dubrovnik than necessary, and I ended up being alone on the last day, with nothing to do, having explored all sides of the wall, and clicking pictures from down to up to down. After having lunch alone, I decided to do something daring, something I have never done before - take a ferry alone to an island. As I waited for the ferry by the pier, I put my Indian mentality to good use and tried to be as far ahead as possible in the crowd, to get into the ferry early and capture one of the choicest seats. When the ferry arrived, I was the first one to board, and then realised I was the last one to board as well. Everyone else seemed to be waiting for something else, and I had my first truly alone ferry ride, all of 600 metres to Lokrum island. I imagined the island will also be empty, gearing up for the adventure, taking a few ferry selfies, enjoying the breeze of the Adriatic sea. As I alighted, I understood all those enthusiastic tourists had already reached Lokrum to have picnic lunches. Lokrum is a nice small cosy island with a botanical garden and some endangered species for company. I couldn't find any other endangered species but peacocks and peahens, as I went around the island, clicking pictures and trying to capture as much detail as I could in my mind (which wasn't much - it was only a brownish green patch stretching around me on all sides). In the middle of the island was a dilapidated structure, something between a mansion and a castle, though most of the walls and roofs were missing. Imagining all sorts of haunted stories, I walked closer, rubbing my palms in anticipation of the adventure, only to be greeted by a cafe within the structure, and tourists taking picture.s No, there is no escaping selfie sticks anymore. Within half hour, my tour was completed, and I came back to take the last ferry back to Dubrovnik. This time it was massively crowded and I didn't put any fight for the choicest seats, as I knew now from experience that the ride was all of 3 minutes.

Some day, some day, I am hoping to do a solo trip, where I would actually interact with other humans (and not just click pictures with animals and inanimates), and perhaps make a few friends on the way. And who knows, I might take the plunge and do something truly adventurous like parasailing when alone. That would be a 'wanderlustic' trip in the real sense. 

P. S. This post is the twenty third in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April.