Monday, January 07, 2008

An Airport, a Poet and Life's Greatest Lesson

It ended abruptly. That dream. I don't know when or how.

All I could remember was someone screaming, "Was it really worth it???" in my head over and over again.

I found myself sitting in the boarding lounge at an airport, my tired eyes shuttling between a TV screen telling me it was time to board the flight and my notebook screen telling me that the batteries were out and needed charging.

I laughed. Because if anyone needed a recharge, it was me. I shut the notebook and got up to get a coffee from the counter right behind where I was sitting. As I was getting up, I heard a gentle voice say, "Was it worth it?"

I freaked out, turning swiftly in the direction of the voice.

It was P.


"TS are you ok?"

"What did you mean by was it really worth it?"

"That 20 second nap of yours, you idiot! Why do you look startled?"

"Oh that, yes. Sorry. I completely forgot you were here."

"You forgot? Is that supposed to be funny?"

"Err.. Sorry?"

"Never mind, its time. They've announced the boarding."

"Ok. Cool. Just let me grab a coffee."


I ordered the coffee. And in the minute or so that I was waiting to get my order, my pupils finally contracted and I turned to take a look around. P's presence finally sank in all over again and I yelled from the counter,

"What are you reading?"

"Pablo Neruda"

"What's that?"

"Not what, who! He's the guy who wrote Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines."

"Oh, that guy. Ok."

Once I got my coffee, picked up my notebook & airbag, we headed to the boarding gate.

During the hour-long flight, my conversation with P centered around how different our lives are from the way we had once imagined. We spoke about our dreams and expectations, and how the transition from childhood to adolescence brought with it new ideas and possibilities. The conversation ultimately deteriorated to dissecting my corporate routine and how I'll never get around to writing that book or making that movie or teaching at university level and so on.

And then, for a reason known only to her, P breached my defense by summing up my life very eloquently. I think it was one of those I-wish-you-were-still-the-man-I-fell-in-love-with moments. I, of course, saw it as just another reality check. She said and I quote,

"TS, your life reminds me about the time I mugged up a Pablo Neruda poem for a poetry competition."

It took a second for me to understand what she meant, but almost all of next day to come to terms with it.

And I think that's exactly why I did what I did the other day.


Sometime last week, I was informed that I needed to visit a particular college of Delhi University to run a month-long training program.

I was ecstatic when I heard the news because teaching at university level is something I had worked relentlessly towards throughout school and college, but due to my own lack of persistence at key junctures after college (I don't want to blame circumstances even though I am tempted), I had to finally give up on that dream.

And while I'm being honest, I should also tell you that writing and film-making are options that emerged after I shelved the idea of prefixing my name with Professor.


That date with destiny finally came last Thursday. And despite the mental preparation, I swear I couldn't have told my head from my ass that morning. I was a bundle of nerves, tossing and turning in bed all night, losing my appetite, getting ready and going down to the car only to run up, twice, once for my cellphone and then for the car keys.

In the middle of all that I also managed to find the whole thing funny (I do that a lot, not forget things, but find them funny), considering the fact that in the last 3 years I have trained pretty much everyone there is to train in the corporate world, from executives to senior management, without as much as batting an eyelid.

I decided to take my mind off the whole thing so I put on some music...

Extreme ways that helped me
They help me out late at night
Extreme places I had gone
But never seen any light
Dirty basements, dirty noise
Dirty places coming home
Extreme worlds alone
Did you ever like it then?

I would stand in line for this
There's always room in life for this...

Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart


In the half an hour that I negotiated the office rush, smoked hurriedly and sang along with Moby, I think I had what can be termed as a moment of epiphany. I began feeling less wired-up almost immediately and soon enough the nervousness subsided, and a calm soothing feeling found its way up my spine, penetrating my mind just as I parked my car at the college.

I picked up my jacket from the backseat of the car and as I was about to shut the door, I saw something that wasn't supposed to be there, and I think you'll smile when I tell you that it belonged to P.

There, in all its inconspicuousness lay life's greatest lesson, in paper and ink, begging to be embraced. The universe had actually conspired.

Let it be known then, that on the 3rd of January in the year 2008, TS sat under the warm winter sun in a DU college lawn with a bunch of college kids and read to them, the Poetry of Pablo Neruda.


Puneet Sethi said...

You bought me man with your words !!!

Renovatio said...

Some of the best epiphanies can happen perched on the crapper. For everything else, there's Moby.

Great post man, really felt it.

adriana said...

Don't say never when you're just 24.

Sure, maybe some doors close as time moves on, but more likely than not you're the one closing them, assuming it's too late.

You aren't obligated to have the same dreams now that you did earlier... no matter what anyone wishes you were. But if you regret losing a dream, it was never really lost.

But man, you're *24*. You can still do pretty much anything (except date 15 year olds)

Zee said...

:) very was it worth it? :)

joylita said...

Lovely post that!

When the universe conspires, all our initial doubts seem so trivial, and inconsequential.

May all that you wish for be yours. Happy New Year! :)

LostWeasley said...

so u teach DU students? cool! you must have guts...

Ps said...

Amazing way with words-You say it like ONLY you can.
I'm sure the Universe will conspire again and that book will get written.

P. said...

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.


I need for you to re-read something with regard to your last post.

Follow the link.

A Shade of Blue said...

There's nothing music can't fix, is there?
Teaching the DU kids - was it worth it? :)

Szerelem said...


The Darkling Thrush said...


i see my prediction about them dreams did come true.

a big hug for that one :) way to go TS!

TS said...

@Renovatio: Crapper is so much more articulate than the POT. Well done I say.

@Adriana: Ha ha, I love your optimism. Looking forward to having you back at work.

@Zee/A Shade of Blue: Hell yes.

@The Darkling Thrush: Yes they did. God bless you. And the hug, right back at you :)

J' said...

Teaching Kids?
That too DU kids? Nightmare come true for me... How did you do that!!

I know that poem.. its lovely...

And was reading this post worth it?


Solitaire said...

Is it true? Does the universe actually conspire?

Spunky Monkey said...

Writing books and making films! Seems like SUCH a familiar idea to me. But you are at least working your way towards it.
Many congratulations on the DU stint, as also on a very nice post.

TS said...

- Thank you J.

- Every now and then Solitaire, mostly when you least expect it to.

@Spunky Monkey: Many thanks.

esoteric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
once again said...

i'd definitely like u as a ummm a teacher !? [for the lack of a better word]

teacher teacher may I go to toilet !?

[sorry, cudnt resist being corny]

Jam said...

Whoa TS,

Where were you all these days man, and how did I not bump into you all these days in the Blogosphere.

You have a wonderful way of putting across your thoughts. Have you ever thought of writing that book, of course you have. Dude, give it some serious thought, and go ahead and do it.

From what I gather from the comments, you are only "24" and yet you already feel that you've pretty much lost the opportunity to pursue your dreams. Take it from a "28" year old (damn, I m old), life is long enough for you to chase and grab all that you want to man.


TS said...

@OA: Gross. Yes you may.

@Jam: Thank you for the encouragement my friend. Appreciate it.

IdeaSmith said...

Wow. This post gave me goosebumps. Here from DesiPundit and I'll be back.

La vida Loca said...


Priya said...

Universal conspiracy,eh?

Agar kisi cheez ko poore dil se chaaho to saari kaynaat tumhe usse milane kee koshish main lag jaati hai kinds...

Hindi seekh rahi hoon :)

rj said...

only 2 questions...

How? & How?

How do these things happen to you?
and How do you manage to write about them so well..

How man How?

TS said...

@Ideasmith: Thanks mate.

@RJ: Ha ha, err... luck?

Art said...

There's joy strewn all over our insipid lives. We just have to open our eyes and look for them I guess.

Great post, TS. As always.

tumblewords said...

Your writing is amazingly fine and your story is delightful...thanks for sharing.

gautami tripathy said...

Welcome to WI!

Keep writinmg..


Veda said...

Hey, just read your short stories. Lovely stuff. You should publish.

TS said...

Art: I think so, and maybe take a chance evry now and then.

Tumblewords: Anytime, my friend.

Gautami: Thank you!

Veda: You think? Like seriously?

Veda said...

Sure. You have a nice style and you present some very interesting insights through your characters.

Renovatio said...

Dood. New post.

Anki said...


apart from filmmaking.. my other (burning) ambition is to teach

waiting for the post where u have junked the corporates and set out with your mind-blowing script

san said...

wow. it struck a chord. and very few things can do that to me. mainly because of the poem. i think we all have history attached to it. its a nice feeling to know that there are other people thinking similar thoughts.

writing is definitely not my forte but ill be back. :)

rantravereflect said...

the universe had actually conspired..

poetry,. teaching, making movies..
n ya started at it!!
how did teh teachin go? did they go silent in appreciation or in retrospective assessment?

moozic does soothe- my latest soothe being a song called 'bubbly' by colbie caillat..
listen to teh track sumtime..

TS said...

I'm always on the lookout for new music.

Thank you RRR.

And the teaching went well.

Mannat said...

Made me smile! also... a thought, which resulted from this... it would be quite pretty if every person was a poem. Subtle hints, beautiful descriptions to depict anyone and everyones life from a chimney sweep (slight dickensian influence showing here :) ) to a nobleman

Arjita Singh said...

did you stay in ghaziabad when you were young? judo champ, is that you?

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