Achieving and arriving is the end game everyone is interested in… the waiting and working towards it is something that makes them feel it’s all futile….
Many years back I came to Bombay, when it was not yet Mumbai… I think the year was 1999. I came from Bhubaneswar to drop off my girlfriend at the time at her parents’ home here… I had kind of disappeared from my own home without telling my parents about it… they thought I was crashing for the week at the hostel with my other class mates… It had started off pretty normally, our trip, I picked her up at her hostel, and we rode to the railway station to drop her off… there I said fuck it I’m coming to Bombay with you to drop you off. She tried talking sense into me but then she knew how that would go… now that she’s been my wife for over 16 years she still doesn’t even try when I go on my crazy loops… like everyone else she too has given up on me… so we parked the bike at the station parking, queued up at the booking office and got me a general compartment ticket… the sort that miraculously did not require a confirmed reservation for the holder of the ticket to travel… After this transaction I had 300 rupees left in my wallet… more than enough for the return journey I figured and we pushed off…
At Bombay her parents and younger brother had come to receive her at the station. Obviously they did not know that I had come all the way from Bhubaneswar to Bombay to drop off their daughter. So they all left. It was the middle of October and Dusehra night. I spent the day at the waiting room at VT station looking out at the loud, large, always awake, always alive, brightly lit up city. Next morning I got a shower at the bathroom in the waiting room and went off to work on the return journey. Bought the ticket and then went to call Sonali.
Turns out her mom with her superior sensory mechanism had figured out that I had tagged along. So she took the call and told me to come over right away. I couldn’t say no to her… and the good food that I knew would be waiting. So I landed up at their place at Juhu… after an earful about how irresponsible it was todo what I had done and then spend the night at the railway waiting room and how there could be lumpen elements there, I was given the full Bengali cuisine treatment. Full to the gills, regrettably I was just 52kilos then and it didn’t really mean anything being full to the gills, I said my bye bye and pushed off because the time for my train was nearing. At Andheri station when I reached for my wallet I realized the eternal truth about lumpens: they don’t lie in wait at waiting rooms alone… I had been pick-pocketed!
So, Bombay, October 1999 no return ticket, no money and well no one really knew where I was. I walked into the station managers room at Andheri station. Told him that I had come from Bhubaneshwar, that my dad was a high ranking official at the Indian Railways and that I was pick-pocketed a few minutes back. I asked him to let me make a call to my father over the railway phones network and see if he could help me. Thankfully the station manager understood my genuineness and allowed me to use the railway phone. I called up my dad, spoke to his secretary explained the situation and then he put me through to my dad… to him I again explained how I had come to Mumbai to give an interview as well as drop off the resumes of my classmates at various IT companies here and how I had been pick-pocketed. My dad, sitting some 1770kms away, shook his head for the nine hundredth time seeing through my subterfuge for the nine hundredth time. But then he spoke to the station manager. A few minutes later I had been handed over a ticket and 300 bucks for any expenses that I might incur on the way. The station master would be paid by my father via a money order was the obvious understanding and anyway the Indian Railways prides itself on the sense of family, any Railwayman is a family man anywhere on the network all over India. He told me that trains were halted for the day due to some repair/up-gradation work which was underway, this was a Sunday, and that I should catch a bus with so and so number. So I went back to the bus stop queue making sure I was guarding the ticket and cash very carefully this time around. I then called and told Sonali and her very very upset mom about this whole situation. She wanted me to come right over and take money for the return ticket but then I told them it was all ok and I had figured it out and things were fine.
Humiliated and completely disgusted with what had just happened I said to the powers that be “I will come back and I will make sure that one day this city pays me 300Cr rupees for the 300 that it has taken from me”… at that time, for the son of a Government official (one who was known as Gandhiji in the Indian Railways for his non compromising nature) 300Cr was a huge amount. Today I was reminded of that day.
After our evening walk around home with the kids we went out for a drive, we went all the way to this place some 15kms away where we own a flat that is lying vacant nowadays. The plan was to pick up biryani from this shop near that society. We drove around the node and checked how things were growing around our investment. We go there once in a while… very rare while but yeah we do drive down once in a while. I parked in-front of the biryani shop and walked over. The boy had run out of tandoori chicken biryani so I said no issues give me the regular type. Apologetically he started to give me his card saying you should call and ask I will tell you when we have tandoori chicken biryani to which I replied but I don’t stay here I just have a house in this building right across from your shop and I come here once in a while but since you make such awesome biryani we always take some on the way back home… he asked me this building pointing to the society where we have the house. I said yes to which he replied sir this is a very posh society very elite when are you coming to stay here? I said I don’t think will be shifting here I stay far away at a different similarly posh society. So he walked off possibly wondering what a loser. When he returned with the filled containers he asked me if you don’t mind how much does it cost to buy a house here? I hesitated as I am not very comfortable sharing numbers but then he asked again so I said around 1.5Cr to which the guy says people like me can never even dream of such a figure or of buying something so expensive…. that embarrassed and disturbed me. So as he came back from inside the shop with the condiments I asked him do you know how much I used to earn at my first job back in 2000? obviously he did not, so I supplied the answer I earned 8000 rupees at my first job. I was 24 years old at the time. You on the other hand have your own business, you are 21 years old and are already paying 8000 rupees as rent for the shop alone. By the time you are my age you would have bought a flat much more expensive and much more elitist… never say never… there is always a way…. his face broke out into a smile and he said haan sir, yes you are right one should never give up hope. Anything is possible! I left the change without even bothering to think about how much it was… maybe that’ll help buy a nail for his palace some day…
What we need is patience… I had forgotten about that 300Cr promise that I had made when I had been robbed… it is not even relevant now because it was an angry devastated person who was doing the sabre rattling against an invisible enemy, the other callous, cavalier myself, standing at a bus stop… What is important to understand is is that time has a compounding effect… you may feel something is completely unattainable and yet time will get it for you somehow or the other… even if you do not deserve it (like in my case)… time has a way of surprising you with unexpected gifts when you are busy working on life… on the other hand if you keep fretting about goals and chasing them incessantly and working tirelessly towards those goals…. well you would still attain them goals… just somehow I feel not with as much of a sense of happiness… more of a sense of proud accomplishment… which is not wrong or unhealthy in fact most people will tell you that is the correct way to go after your goals… just that I feel that serendipitous happiness is way more fulfilling than the contrived endgame… if you’re chasing happiness at work for instance and get rewarded with a kid doing some amazing art work at home…. that somehow is way more fulfilling than being promoted at work …don’t get me wrong both are great but the kid doing great is somehow the universe and time taking care of you and rewarding your efforts in ways you wished for but had not envisaged….
So yeah as time goes by things change… I am still the same incorrigible idiot who is a monumental embarrassment for his parents, wife and kids… that unfortunately time or any other power in this universe will never be able to fix… but what I say I achieve… to this day I have never missed a target I have set for myself and that too any power in this universe will never be able to change… that’s the other thing about time it just keeps compounding the efforts man puts into things… effort does not go waste ever… so what’s the next target? well let’s just say I’m going into farming now.