Sunday, October 29, 2006

On ''Then and Now'' Kind of Moments...

"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be."

Paul Valery

25th October 2006, 11:54 pm -

I have just reached home after a two day vacation (well, if 2 days of getting wasted in Jaipur qualify as a one!).

The drive back has been exhausting, because the Octavia is a painful car to drive if you're not used to it. To add to the that, blinding headlights and noisy co-passengers leaving no stones unturned in an effort to mess with your concentration levels. All this and more at 140 kilometres an hour.

On my way home, I dropped Abhishek at Gurgaon and picked up the girlfriend from somewhere in CP.

I open the front door of the apartment with my key and the girlfriend and I enter as noiselessly as possible. The mother is sleeping. The brother is listening to music in his room.

I enter my room and almost collapse onto the sofa. The girlfriend finds herself the next most comfortable spot in the room (the bed), and starts fiddling with her new toy, a video iPod.

The room is sparkling clean. The mother knew I was coming, so she removed all traces of encroachment carelessly left behind by the brother. She knows how much I hate anyone inhabiting my room while I'm away.

The cleanliness and symmetry make me happy.

11:58 pm - I take my cellphone out of the pocket and look at the screen. Still two minutes to go, and I'm already waiting for the phone calls to pour in. Who all will stay awake just to call me? Who will get through to me first? Will there be someone on call waiting constantly, wonder how that feels?

I have no answers. One minute left.

What do you do when the clock strikes 12:oo midnight, marking the beginning of the day you were born? Are you sleeping? Or are you hanging on to your phone just like me?

The girlfriend insists that I help her in connecting the iPod to the computer. She is in no mood to share my anxiety. I tell her to wait.

I get up from the sofa and walk to the dressing table. I take off my watch and empty the contents of my pockets. The change scatters on the dressing table. The few hundred rupee notes find their way into the drawer. Just as I'm closing the drawer, I notice a white slip of paper in between the notes. I pull it out and look at it.

It's exactly like a credit card cover, except that it says:

Tanmay Sahay
Room Number 1421
ITC Rajputana Shereton
Date Of Arrival: 24th October, 2006
Time: 10:15 am

I know why it is there in pocket and I know exactly what I need to do next. I forget that my birthday has just begun.

26th October 2006, 12:04 am -

I'm sitting cross legged on the floor in front of an open suitcase. The suitcase is beige, but it looks almost brown owing to the layers of dust that have settled on it since the last time I pulled it out of the loft.

I'm searching for diary. It's blue in colour and the cover reads Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School Annual Diary (1993).

A quick survey of the contents reveals no sign of anything vaguely similar. I shuffle the contents carelessly and look again. Some things fall out. My attention is diverted to them.

A badge that says House Captain (Class 5), a party invitation on an LP from Supriya (Class 9), the receipt of my first ever pair of Reebok shoes (Class 8). Just as I'm about to go down the memory lane, the phone rings.


H-a-p-p-y B-i-r-t-h-d-a-y t-o y-o-u! Da da dee da dum dum!

Thanks you so much Yesha!

The conversation goes on for a minute and then good byes are said.

Suddenly the girlfriend realises it is time.

Big Hug-Bigger Kiss-Lots of smiles-I'm glad she's there, right by my side.

The Happy Birthday-Thanks-Have a great year-You too-Ok Bye routine continues for about 10 minutes or so. All this while I'm desperate. Not to answer the person on call waiting or to attend to the 10 odd sms', but to go back to the suitcase.


Luck. The phone runs out of battery and I don't have my charger.

No moral dilemma.

Peace at last. Cigarette lit. Now where's that Diary???

I notice the girlfriend reading something. She notices me noticing her. She looks up and has the w-i-d-e-s-t possible grin on her face. That's when I realise she's holding the diary!

I ask her to give it to me. She thinks it's time we played beg.


One minute and two wrestling moves later, I have the diary in my hand. The girlfriend is pinned to the bed and is trying everything possible to escape my clutches.

I make her promise that she'll behave. She does so, she has no choice.

I open the diary and start flipping through the pages. I find the excerpt I'm looking for:

Monday, 10th May, 1993 -

Hi Diary. How are you? I came back from Jaipur today. I had a lot of fun there. I stayed at Rajputana Hotel and it was FIVE STAR. I saw Hawa Mehel and Amir Fort. We went everywhere in the school bus only. I bought a pen for Ma and Vasu.

When I went for dinner, I was first in wishing Naina ma'am good evening and she made everyone clap for me.

At night we were very scared because some told us there is a ghost in the next room. I stayed with my best friend Abhishek, Parichay Mehra, and Ashish Tandon in one room. We saw cable at night and played chess. I won two games but lost two also.

Our room number was 1421. Abhishek said the hotel had 2000 rooms but I know he was lying.

Ma is calling me, I'm going now.


Have you ever had a 'then and now' moment in your life? I've had a few to be honest, but this one tops them all.

In the May of 1993, my school had organised an overnight trip to Jaipur. It was a trip of firsts. I was in class 5. The diary entry you just read about that trip pretty much sums up all I remember of it.

So there I sat in front of the suitcase, thirteen years and 6 trips later, amazed at the significance of insignificant detail.

I called out to the girlfriend.

"Come here!"

"No, you help me with the iPod first!"

"Arre come here na! Please!"

She came and sat next to me.

"Can I read he diary after that or will you wrestle me again?", she asked.

"You can read the damn diary and ransack the suitcase sweety, but listen to me na! I was right about the room!"

"You're serious???", she said, with a look of disbelief.

I showed her the diary entry. She read it and looked up at me.

"So strange huh?", I said.

"Yaaa, totally!", she replied.

"Ok now the suitcase is all yours. I need to make a call."

She smiled in delight and immediately went to work on the suitcase.

I picked up my cellphone and called Abhishek. He didn't answer. I guessed that he must be exhausted from the trip too.

I gave up after one try, knowing well that I would speak to him the next day.

I lay down on the bed and fell asleep reading the diary. At some point in time the girlfriend switched the lights off and snuggled into the bed with me.


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Ujjwal said...

abhishek from school works with you?

Ujjwal said...

and i remember the Jaipur trip..although I could not go, I remember missing it!

Man, you make me more homesick.

Tanmay said...

No yaa, Abhishek (Gupta) and I live together in Gurgaon because we work there. And we've been close friends since forever.

This trip to Jaipur was for a friend's birthday, does the name Anshul Jain ring a bell?

And I'm homesick living 30 miles from home, so yes I understand your situation!

Shalini said...


Been reading your blog for long, err...the last three days I mean!!
Enjoyed reading that story on the pantry guy and the spoilt maggie!!

This one is good too!....
bookmarked your blog now. So I can casually take a stroll every now and then...

Keep writing!

Harpreet said...

I particularly liked the diary entry.

Saurabh B said...

Hey Man,

I haven't actually read this post, but I know it would be intresting, would read it at home. Hows CC? And ya one more thing, join the beta blogger, its kewl. lots of things you can do with your posts.

Will discuss when you come to infintiy.

Happy Days

Astha said...

I'm beginning to grow a real taste for your style of writing. Keep the posts coming!

PS: I see more significant trivia hidden here. Numerologically, your birth number is 8 (2+6) & the room's numerological no. is also 8 (1+4+2+1).

Ujjwal said...

Oh yes, Anshul Jain defo rings a bell.

Man, you have time to travel to another city for someone's birthday. Awesome man!

TS said...

@Shalini: Thank you!

@Astha: My God, I never thought about that! Something to ponder over for sure!

@Ujjwal: I worked the weekend so that I could take those 2 days off! So no, I don't have much time :(

@Saurabh: Dude, you have to tell me more. Let CC get over and we'll sit down and do some serious re-structuring. And btw, CC is great. I'm on leave today though.

Anonymous said...

long time you took in your new posting... neways as always awesome style of writing... diary from school preserved - no wonder you can write the way you do now...

one small suggestion - try word verification : helps in removing the spam (refer first comment here)

Anonymous said...

hey tanu,
this reminds me of the ramleela vcd! that was classic. i remember you were ram and i was a dumbass deer with lice in my hair. anyway wanted to thank you for making MY birthday so great. oh and are we really going to write a column now?

Tanmay said...

Ha ha ha ha, you never fail to crack me up. About your birthday, it was brilliant. The parts I'm never going to forget are the dance on the table, and of course carrying you up the stairs! Ha!

Sangiita said...

"the girlfriend sat"...."the girlfriend went"... sounded a little crass to me. esp when it seems u r quite a sensitive guy..
otherwise ...really fond or ur writin :)

maya said...

Oh I love it when stuff like that happens! It makes one believe in the whole "meant to be" thing. Good post - simple and feel-good and very very nice :)

TS said...

Thank you Maya. It's an honour to have someone with such literary distinction pay a visit.

(I met you briefly at a party in Sarita Vihar, if you remember. Also, Viren holds you in very high regard and that is how I know of your qualification.)

Tanmay said...

And Sangiita, you too!

tanushree said...

the then and now..all comes full circle for you(in a way)..a lil freaky but interresting nevertheless..loved the diary entry..simple n sweet..

Anonymous said...

Children are plain innocent and some carry that innocence into adulthood hence the term 'childlike'.

Ujjwal said...

malik itna busy na ho jao ki agle post ke liye junta bechain ho jaye..:)

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