Just dormant

Not dead yet, just dormant. Visiting my birthplace, making new friends. Keeping busy. But all good things, actually all things must come to an end. Now it’s time to return in two days.

What is life if not a flowing river rushing to meet the ocean and merge. New banks, new course. Bone dry in summer heat, replenished and rejuvenated by the monsoon rains. What is carried in its bossom is for others to decipher. It just flows oblivious to the joy and pain it spreads. Not indifferent, it does not even know the meaning. Never returning to its source, it just explores.

photo of river Brahmaputra in Guwahati by author

Ubered in the City of Joy

Uber Experience in Kolkata: April 13, 2022

I am in Kolkata for the last few days as part of my travel to India during March – April of 2022 staying with my friend in New Town, a planned satellite town being developed for last so many years with wise streets, modern amenities, highrises and the town being near the airport makes it a desirable place to live. Infact residents of New Town do not have to go to old town Kolkata unless visiting friends and relatives. And that’s where the issue arise. I was here about four years back when the metro connection was being built. That metro is still not completed. So to visit family or friends in other parts of old Kolkata one has to depend on app based taxi services unless someone is brave enough to take the public bass services. I was not that brave to face an overcrowded bus in the oppressive humidity for which Kolkata is well known.

So come evening yesterday I and my friend found ourselves just outside the gates of the housing society waiting for the UBER driver who was supposed to be there in a few minutes. Well, after few cancelled reservations by UBER drivers and multiple calls going unanswered we were finally graced by the visit of an UBER driver. With a sigh of relief we sat down expecting the comfort of air conditioning to dry off the drenching sweat that had bathed us by that time. Well, we expected too much. Our merciful lord, the UBER driver, gave us all the excuses under an invisible moon hidden by the smog or cloud that had been hiding the sun for last few days in Kolkata why he would not allow us the privilege of an air conditioned ride to the City of Joy except agreeing that he was contractually obligated to turn on the air conditioning. To make a long story short, we had the pleasure of listening to his running commentary of how UBER was responsible for the devious ploy of depriving us of the pleasure of having what we have paid for and how and his fellow cohorts are going to ensure that we get our dues in some not too distant future because they were hard (or was it hardly) at work to serve their customers to the best of their abilities.

So one part of the ordeal was over. We had a good time with our friend and now it was time to come back. And then the fun started. If during coming it was couple of cancelled bookings now it was one cancellation after another. For every booking there would be about ten or fifteen minutes waith time. On your cell phone phone app you see the car moving a few blocks and then a permanent stall with calls being answered by a voice message saying that the caller was not reachable. We must have waited about an hour before an UBER driver picked up the phone and the app showed a constantly moving car.

Hallelujah! So we were finally on an UBER car about to be driven back home. But oh, wait! More surprises were waiting us. As we sat down on our seats the driver shut off the engine and asked my friend for the fare agreed upon by UBER. We were surprised. My friend asked whythe driver needs the fare. It’s between him and UBER. However the driver refused to budge and ultimately my friend gave in. We were simply too tired. More surprises waiting for us. Now my lord the driver wanted to see the cellphone of my friend and he really insisted. My friend asked the driver if he didn’t believe what my friend said but the driver just was insistent. Finally my friend gave his cell phone to the driver who took one look and gave the phone back to my friend. The driver said that he cancelled the booking and we could give him the agreed fare once we reach our destination. We were shocked but what to do. Get down and start the whole process again? What guarantee was there that we would get another one and if we get one how much time we may have to wait. We agreed and finally the car started moving. What a relief! We asked the driver to put the a/c on and lo and behold! another surprise. That would be an extra fifty rupees. This time my friend lost his patience and gave the driver a most profound sarcastic tongue lashing in perfectly chaste Hindi with due emphasis on the appropriate words to drive his point home. The result was that the sullen lord graced us with some cool air from the car a/c. The rest of the journey was made in dead silence.

When we reached home my friend asked me to take a photo of the license plate which I did. The driver was visibly upset and asked why we took a photo of the license plate. My friend responded that there was nothing further to talk and the driver would come to know the consequences soon. The look on the face of the driver as he drove away was enough to sooth some of our pains being ubered in the city of joy. Neither UBER nor it’s drivers care for the customers. They are there in this business to make money and customers conme last.

Old Rudy’s Poem

” east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet” – Rudyard Kipling

oh, how I wish we
prove these lines wrong and
before the sun rises in the west,
and hell freezes over,
we forget all directions,
of labels there would be none,
of borders, all erased and gone,
we meet as brothers and sisters and
embrace each other only as human;
in the grave crumbles his bones,
as his poem all but forgotten,
except mistakenly the lines we quote;
how would old Rudy smile if
all that divide us are suddenly gone.

Pranabendra Sarma, March 3, 2022
San Jose, California

A Sojurn in Patience

The title may through you off. Please bear with me, have some patience. After all for last few months that’s what I had been assiduously cultivating.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not an impatient person. Born in a country with few thousands years of history and blessed or burdened with the weight of the past and growing up in a big family, patience becomes your second nature without even realizing.

They say patience is a virtue. May be. For practitioners of patience time moves slow. Trust me, practice it and see for yourself.

Ah, but I am digressing. It’s been slightly more than six years that I started my blog in WordPress. When I joined WordPress it had been forty plus years that I had not taken up the pen to write. Not that I was not writing anything. Hundreds of examinations, thousands of job applications, passport application, visa applications, green card application, naturalization applications, all these must count for something. What I was not writing was words that were buried deep inside me. My subdued passion was bubbling to come out. WordPress gave me an outlet.

And that’s when it hit me. I realized that somewhere in that journey called life I had lost my patience. The words were rushing out in torrents but I didn’t have the wherewithal to sit down at one place and write. The exuberance of writing something and posting it on the blog took over my psyche. No editing, no doing once over, just write and post. I am sure all my posts were crying out for editing but I just didn’t have the patience for that.

There was another revelation to me. I am realizing that while poetry comes naturally to me, I struggle when I have to write prose. One of the reason for that simply is my lack of patience to sit at one place and cohesively put my thoughts to paper.

Then about a year and nine months back something happened. Though the world had been opened to me through WordPress, I was not able to connect with readers of my posts written in my mother tongue Axomiya (Assamese). I am sure there must be wonderful bloggers in Axomiya in blogosphere using WordPress or some other platform. It was just that I was unsuccessful in finding out. Enter Facebook and a whole new world opened out to me. Suffice it to say that my writing in my mother tongue just took off and flourished.

For nearly two years I juggled my time between my blog on WordPress and my posts on Facebook. It was a struggle but I was able to balance my time well between the two worlds. Alas, there is only twenty four hours in the day. Then a few months back I started writing a story on Facebook. I intended to complete it withing two or three parts but somehow the story took wings and continued.

Now after forty four episodes, nearly forty six thousand words, the story is still continuing without an end in sight. So what that has got to do with this posts? Well, the balancing act between WordPress and Facebook is in tatters. I am finding that I am not being able to give as much time to my blog as I wish and I am suffering. I love the world of WordPress, friends that I have made, the beautiful words that I read and the learning. Yes, learning. I have learnt so much from my friends here in blogosphere. The thought that I am not being able to be an active participant here any more is killing me.

I am a pro- choice person by choice but in this particular issue of the story that I am currently posting in Facebook, I am pro-life in the sense that I will like to see my baby come to life. They say a full term for a baby is nine months. I am not there yet but not sure if the baby will be born pre-matured or the baby will be delivered overdue. Only thing I am sure about is that till it is delivered my visits to WordPress will be fe and far between. How I wish I can extend the day to forty eight hours or get and extra set of hands.

Well, as all of our wishes never become reality I only ask from you, my friends here in WordPress and my readers, that please bear with me in my sojurn in patience till I complete my story on Facebook and be back here again. Just have some patience.

As usual rest assured no editing had been done and it is straight from my heart to you.

Pranabendra Sarma, March 2, 2022
San Jose, California

The Path To Lonely Nights

Time stood still as I considered my options,
Standing on the square looking to my right and to my left,
I looked upfront and I looked back to from where I came,
There, standing on the crossroad I was perplexed.

Out come the preacher from my right and asked me to hold his hand,
Follow me and my scriptures and rest assured,
If you do as I say, have faith and not question,
Rest assured your path will be smooth all the way to heaven.

The politicians, blabbering all, came from the left, and
some did follow the preachers and came from the right,
Follow our paths, we shall lead and you will be alright,
New age and new dawn is coming and your future is bright.

From the front came the financier, greed written large on his face,
Give me your hard earned wealth, what you have,
It will be invested well and you shall be see it grow beyond belief,
Yellow brick road to Oz shall be littered with gold for your relief.

There was a cacophony behind my back and I saw a crowd,
Shouting at me they all asked me to get out of the way,
Each of them are running to their chosen future in a hurry,
Go back if undecided, shouted day, and come back another day.

I searched in vain for my friends to see where are they,
Alas, they have chosen their camps and going merrily on their way,
Pushed and pulled with fear of being ran over and killed,
There on the crossroad, looking for the path not taken, I stood still.

They called me atheist, they called me dumb, they called me names I dare not utter,
Leftist, rightist, unpatriotic, traitors, they threw the whole paint bundle at me,
And all I wanted to do was to listen to what my conscience said was right,
Alas, choosing the path not taken will lead me to many lonely nights.

With a heavy heart I moved on, standing still was not an option,
Up came another square on the path I have chosen,
There in the middle of the square a roaring party was going,
Making merry and feasting with glee and gaiety were preachers, politicians, financiers all,
A long line of lost souls lining up the crossroads to the square for the crumbs to fall.

Taking Stock

This road that lies ahead I had traversed,
Many a times through the ages alone,
Uninvited I come and will leave unannounced,
With memories erased of lives bygone.

I have sailed down this river again and again,
Navigating blind, downstream to ports unknown,
Many a port of call I crossed and stopped in vain,
Alas, the erased memories of yore had let me down.

The path was never paved smooth nor was it sleek,
The road bumpy at times and full of potholes,
Thrill of the journey unknown, adventurous and never bleak,
Continuous cycle of coming and going in the company of eternal souls.

Oh what a fantastic sailing on this ever flowing river called life,
Full of potentials, cyclones and whirlpools, sail without fear and thrive.

सिफ़र.

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