Culture Shock (literally!)

While I was still working, the phrase ‘culture shock’ was kind of an overused one around the office.

“Don’t put him on this project, he’s fresh out of college, it’ll be a culture shock to him working in that team – under that man.”

“Train people well guys, I don’t want anyone having a culture shock when they start dealing with the client.”

“She will be fine, just had a culture shock I believe, not used to working like that in her previous organisation.”

One month after my resignation, I had it myself – the culture shock – very literally. Interestingly, I knew what I was getting into, and I had prepared for it beforehand – mentally and physically. But nothing came to my rescue when it was time.

Well, I was shifting in the hills – I knew.

I might not find a suitable accommodation there – I knew.

Electricity might become a thing of the past – I knew, given that it was a small village set deep in the Himalayas.

But when I was there, for real – it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming in shock.

I had never seen before, a place more in contrast with the one I had lived all my life.

Didn’t I choose exactly to feel like that? I thought while looking down at the valley. The lush green terraced-farms looked surreal. For a moment, I felt like jumping on to these step-like farms, and reach the river below. But then suddenly, I realised the disconnection this place had with the world. I couldn’t recall how I reached there. It felt like I would never be able to leave this place. A deep sense of isolation overwhelmed me.

‘You are going to live here, sir?’ asked the taxi driver preparing the bill. ‘What happened?’

He continued, looking at the peaks in awe: ‘How does one live here anyway? Where are the houses? Left Delhi for this place? Why?’

I swivelled my tension-filled head to look back at him. He saw my frightened eyes, and quickly added, ‘Well… you must have had your reasons.’ He handed me my bill, collected the money and raced off – back to Delhi. My Delhi.

Pushing bushes out of the way, I clambered my way up and down on many a precarious stone steps to unearth the houses and the people living in them. I must have covered the whole village and the village below that, and the village further down the hill next to the river. Somehow, I managed to find ourselves a home. A good enough home to survive the place, and the winters.

We shifted soon afterwards – my wife and I along with our son – and began the torturous period of adjustment.

The abundance in which the time was available to me now kept my head confused for some time. I couldn’t read, and I couldn’t write. Only the TV series ‘Suits’ had what it took to provide me the required relief.

The evening brought with it the night, lurking behind it, which in turn unleashed the darkness – the darkness of the quality I hadn’t previously witnessed. Not a thing visible. Looking out of the window, I might as well be looking at a huge black wall. No movement possible at all. Trapped I was…

‘Why did we choose this place again?’ I asked my wife, enjoying the light inside our room.

‘Solitude, or something…you wanted. You were fed up with the corporate politics, unhealthy lifestyle, pollution. You constantly complained about the lack of time, and quietness. You said you loved nature – mountains, trees, rivers. You wanted to go for contemplative evening strolls – ’

‘OK..OK. that’s enough, thanks!’

‘I have more if you want. You cried for a year before deciding. So we have no lack of reasons. Just let me know.’

‘Yeah, I will.’ I picked up a book to read.

‘Contemplative evening walks…’ I muttered to myself, and looked outside. It was only six in the evening. ‘How will I walk in this darkness? Why the hell did I choose this place?’

‘I heard ya..you need an answer..?’ My wife looked at me, smiling, and came closer.

‘No thanks, wifey! I kissed her and headed for kitchen to prepare tea.’

Passionate Souls

Blessed are the people

who aren’t passionate

about anything.

They will lead

ordinary,

comfortable,

even satisfying lives.

The passionate ones

are deeply connected

to their souls.

They are a

danger to themselves.

For souls seldom

worry about

the needs of the body.

Minister for Loneliness

“Hey! Get up,” I flung a pillow at my sleeping friend.

Ajay was still sore from a fresh breakup – his first this year, and was sprawled on my sofa mourning for the last two days.

Groaning slightly, he stretched his head out from under the blanket, and cringed when light from the window hit his groggy eyes. “What?” he complained, “Would you let me die peacefully, at least?”

“You’re eating a little too much for a person dying,” I said, looking at the table littered with the leftovers of all that I had in my fridge, once. “Get up and go back. I can’t keep a hungry deadbody at my place any longer.”

He gathered all his might, and managed to prop himself up on his elbows, and turned his head towards me, before slumping back on the couch, with a thud. “Pity this lonely soul, you cruel man,” he cried.

“Yes, I do, and I have a good news for you.”

“What!” He sat up with a jump, and stared at me. “Did she call?”

“No. But there is this news… ” and I slammed the paper on the table in front of him, toppling the empty beer cans that rolled down to the edge, and tumbled on to the floor.

“A minister for loneliness,” he laughed weakly. “That’s interesting.”

“Yeah. Things are changing, man. Your loneliness will be a state affair now… if only you manage to settle in the UK.”

“Well”, he said after reading the story, “I am not sure she is for youngsters as well. It’s for old people.”

“I am sure she is. Your kind is on the increase – the lonely heartbroken youth.”

“Okay. I got your point. I am leaving. Just one last favour, and I will never bother you again.”

I smiled knowingly. He was getting his wits back.

“Can you ask your dad to sell this house and get me some pounds? I belong in the UK, not India where no one is worried about my loneliness.”

“Done. Now… get your dirty ass off my couch and leave.”

My Dad and Me # 1

“What’s happening today? I can’t… find words. Not for my unfinished poems, not for anything else,” I wailed, throwing my hands up in the air, looking at my dad.

“Drop it son. You’re no poet,” he declared, and pushing his glasses further up his nose, added, “In the golden days… I mean my days, we would shut up when we had nothing to say. But you and your blogging compulsions! A mockery of the holy realm of writers.”

“You know nothing about writing!” I said in indignation. “And blogging is something way beyond what I can make you understand.”

“Yeah! Maybe you’re right. But the next time you ‘like’ my sexy stories, and leave comments underneath, make sure you don’t discuss what you do with your girlfriend, in your dad’s room,” he smiled wickedly. “You’re right that’s me ‘thewisepenis’.

Can’t Thank You Enough

Rushing and gushing

and pouring over rocks,

like a river tumbling down the hill,

embracing all the shocks.

 

You stride ahead in life,

giving shape to boulders,

helping me, helping all,

holding us by our shoulders.

 

I look at you in dark,

I go to you when lost,

You leave it all and come to me,

Whatever is the cost.

The Drunk You…

I know I know,

you dance so well.

You move like a dream,

and cast your spell.

 

I know I know,

you don’t need to tell.

You do look amazing.

I love how you smell.

 

Wanna hear some more?

Wanna hear me yell?

YOU’RE THE BEST AT WORK.

YOU’RE GONNA EXCEL.

 

That’s enough for a day.

Now I feel like hell.

Lemme drop you home.

Lemme go to my shell.

Now is not the time…

The Sun,

fighting the chill,

reaches down with its infinite arms,

and permeates my flesh,

coursing through my veins,

intoxicating me.

My eyes drooping in response, ever so slightly.

I feel,

the cold leaving,

the sounds receding,

all thoughts dwindling to a blackness,

until,

a rising tide of guilt

jolts me back to the shore,

and I sit,

bolt upright.

Now is not the time –

to slacken the grip,

to rest,

to be pleased with myself,

to go complacent.

Now is the time to shake off

the false weariness,

the treacherous happiness.

For the world is

full of people

who think

they have achieved

all they could have.

And someone up above

smiles sadly

for they had only

just begun.

Aren’t You A Gift…

The land is slowly

devoid of the light,

Even noise is about

to lose its fight.

 

The tick of the clock

is amplified loud,

It’s the time of the day

when dark feels proud.

 

People at last

succumb to fatigue,

Nuisance in the day

sleeping children intrigue.

 

It’s time to relax,

to dream, to replenish,

Even breeze runs slow,

maybe it’ll also vanish.

 

But here I am

sitting wide awake,

Hot tea on the table

cold back with an ache.

 

Out there in the sky

Moon spreads its beauty,

Somewhere afar

a watchman begins his duty.

 

I love this silence

it’s fertile, it’s great,

It brings me joy,

helps me contemplate.

 

I read, I write,

and I feel alive,

I do all that

that’s how I thrive.

 

During day I’m lazy

comes night I go crazy,

In the dark I see

my days are all hazy.

 

I take no pressure

to be the best,

No need to run

and reach the crest,

 

I think and write

what best I can,

Just want to be honest

well, that’s the plan.

 

 

Tiny Tale – A Poem (Part 1)

I pause,

Stare hard,

At screen with bleary eyes,

It’s time,

Let’s go!

Something inside me cries,

 

I peep into the cabin,

My boss is on the phone,

That means I can’t leave,

I let out a groan,

 

She knocks,

Comes close,

And hands over her work,

I nod,

Don’t speak,

God, I am such a jerk!

 

I want to go,

Along with her too,

Her earrings are new,

What am I going to do?

 

She spins,

Glides out,

Her fragrance still stays,

I close,

my eyes,

My heart ablaze,

 

I hear her say bye,

To everyone outside,

Out of my league she is,

I should’ve still tried,

 

It’s been some days,

My life is such,

We talk sometimes,

but nothing much,

 

Today is the day,

I thought I’d say,

Something concrete,

And clear up the way,

 

But,

 

She has left,

I am alone,

A couple of hours gone,

I rub my eyes,

Stretch my back,

Open my mouth and yawn,

 

I shuffle across

the hall to my boss,

Why a pat on my back,

still feels like a loss?

 

Elevator I take,

Grab a burger and a cake,

I wish I could sit

by the side of a lake,

 

I reach my car,

A heart with a scar,

In sight is a tree,

Beneath the first star,

 

Just then it glows,

With a tremble and a tone,

That’s her message!

Her message on my phone,

 

I read it aloud,

She wants to talk,

It’s about work,

She’s in shock,

 

The work she did,

had mistakes, she cries,

But I never checked,

My blood all dries,

 

My head pounding hard,

My eyes on the tree,

I call up my boss,

Just say it was me,

 

I take all the flak,

And then call her back,

I state what I’ve done,

She screams I’m a crack!

 

She says she is sorry,

I say, that’s alright,

She talks and she talks,

Right past midnight,

 

Still dreaming of her,

Not blinking at all,

I’m thinking what next,

We’ve broken the wall.

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