Photo of Indian Women Cricket Team World Cup 2017

Remember the TITANS

A few days ago, while I was watching India vs. Australia, my eight-year-old niece joined me and asked, ‘what is the score’? I promptly replied what I saw on the screen.  Seconds later, her inquisitive mind asked, ‘is this India and Australia?’

I wasn’t surprised considering she has been asking me about cricket all these years. I looked at her and nodded and went back to watching. She grabbed a chair and sat next to me.

Now for the first time that evening her attention was completely on the cricket match. She is sharp and within no time she enquired, ‘are these girls who are playing cricket?’

She looked at me waiting for an answer and at the same time, she was surprised.

“Yes, Meghna, it’s the Women’s World Cup.”

‘Oh, I didn’t know women had a cricket World Cup’, she remarked.

Now, this was the time I turned towards her and explained, women do play cricket, but not as much as the men do.

Meghna turned her attention back to the screen and said, ‘even I want to play cricket.’

“You know, Switzerland has a women’s team now. And, I will take you to their training session. You can see it for yourself.”

She was excited and soon we saw the Indian women’s team taking the final wicket of the Australian team and thereby giving themselves a chance to win their maiden World Cup.

Meghna trains with her school friends in the local football team where she is an aspiring goalkeeper. She plays cricket occasionally with me and to boast, she shook hands with Rahul Dravid as a 3 and half-year-old (and aptly an autographed bat hangs on her room wall).

Today the women in blue came agonisingly close and there are reasons why they didn’t win, however, today or this article isn’t the right forum to dissect the performance.

Instead, I would remember this World Cup as a catalyst, and the large impact these Indian cricketers have had on many people living in India and abroad.

Cricket is a career option for Indian women and this message has come out loud and clear.

The performance of these cricketers in the past weeks has given a much-needed boost and only time will tell how India as a women’s cricketing nation will progress. It looks promising!

My gut feeling is that it has already inspired many young girls like Meghna, who can now seriously consider cricket as a career option or as an avenue to express themselves. Irrespective of whether they go on to play for the national team, a path has been carved.

I am disappointed like any other fan to see the team losing, however, looking at a broader picture, the year 2017 will be a defining year in the annals of Indian women’s cricket just like 1983 remains for Indian cricket in general.

Beyond Cricket!

Time has an interesting way to make us understand things in perspective. Two weeks ago, in our room in Salzburg, I saw India beat Pakistan. It was a great start to the tournament. Working in the sports industry and more so with cricket, one thing I have learned is to live the moment and just savior it. You know the age-old adage, this too shall pass.

Fast forward, two weeks later, the same two teams met and this time it was the finals. India were firm favourites and even the opposition knew it, and most of their countrymen on the media were marginally optimistic if not certain.

The finals happened to be among the best two teams in the tournament, sorry England, you were good, but I am sure you are on right track to winning your first ODI World Cup, which will take place on your home turf in 2019.

Before the day of the finals, I was asked what I felt about tomorrow’s match. To me, the memories of 1996 World Cup semi-finals and the 2003 World Cup finals came to my mind instantly. Don’t ask me why?

I had said, “India should stick to their strategy of batting first and score runs. In any case, the opposition would have done the same thing. I fear if they might opt to field first since Pakistan had chased down targets at ease in the lead-up to the finals.”

Hindsight is a great teacher and minutes into the game, one got a feeling, it will be a tough task for India. And the next few hours runs piled on and wickets came now and then. The Pakistan score should have been much higher if not for some inspired bowling by India in the final five overs.

Indians would have had to bat close to 50 overs to have a chance. It didn’t matter what the score was for the first ten overs. If you are in the game with wickets in hand, anything is possible. I believe that is today’s mantra in limited overs cricket.

A group of friends had gathered in a Zurich pub which is known to show cricket matches whenever it on live. The place was filled with Indian fans, optimistic at the start of the second innings. After all, we have seen the same team chase down targets at will in the past.

Though professionals, cricket is a game that is played by humans. In cricket, like any sport, there is always room for the opposition to play better than you. And, so it happened. Rohit Sharma got out, Kohli got a life and seconds later he perished. Then Dhawan, Yuvraj, Dhoni, and Jadhav. It was inspired bowling performance than poor batting.

There were no tears of 1996 nor the irritation of 2003. It didn’t matter how the opposition was, for I saw the Indian team overshadowed by a better prepared Pakistan team.

And, then I heard arguments like, India played poorly. Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s performance resembled India’s defeat in the finals. Wish there were trophies awarded for every match, would that have settled the argument?

It was heartening to see Kohli giving credit to the better team – it felt like you are having one of those bad days in life and it boils down to owning it up or blaming it on someone else. I am glad, the Indian captain chose the ‘right’ words on the occasion.

One of the ways to understand the meaning of ‘sport’ is to look beyond the team we support. Try working in the sports industry, live through the struggles, the pain, the agony and the successes that come with it. I promise you will cease to be a mere fan, in fact, I am still struggling to identify the right word for what I have become.

After the match, the cricket discussion spread to other fans who had come to watch the finals. Disappointed, yes, we all were. But we all agreed on one thing – the better team surely won, and it wasn’t our Indian team.

It took me a week to get over the shock of India’s 1996 loss, a couple of days after the 2003 defeat and yesterday, the disappointment was for mere moments.

The result didn’t cloud my judgment to appreciate the sport I love very much nor ignore to give credit where it was due. In fact, it gave me the clarity as to why I chose ‘sports’.

Marilyn Monroe, in her own words!!

Last year in the Fact Food section of Qwizzeria, I mentioned about the most famous ‘Happy Birthday’ song the history has ever witnessed. It was Marilyn’s rendition to President JFK.

That fact accompanied with the video (available on YT) on the FB page of Qwizzeria remains popular to this day, shared and commented by people from all over the world.

It tells me about the impact Marilyn Monroe continues to have even to this day and there is something magical about the Happy Birthday song, which happened to be her last public appearance.

The night of 19 May 1962 remains memorable even after fifty-five years. Among the large crowd that had gathered, with several artists, top brass politicians, and influential businessmen, Marilyn stood out the moment she entered the stage.

If JFK brought in flair, youth, and a fresh swagger into politics, Marilyn generated awe and had an aura that could not be fathomed.

Their union could have been the tale of the century, instead, it remained a fantasy that soon enveloped into tears as it was rumored the president overlooked Marilyn and passed her on to his younger brother Bobby.

In the TV series, MAD MEN, that chronicles the life of advertising and its personnel from the 1960s has quite a few episodes that showcased the impact of both JFK and Marilyn Monroe.

Leaving the drama aside, it is a well-known fact that Marilyn never forgave the Kennedy brothers for the way they treated her.

In the end, Marilyn remained a plaything for the rich Kennedy boys. There is nothing wrong in having dreams, and Marilyn’s heartbreak ensured the Cinderella dream is just for the storybooks. And, as quoted in the series Mad Men, the research showed, people preferred Jackie Kennedy as the ‘wife’ and not Marilyn.

I am not sure how the world has changed, however, women have greater rights and their voice is heard much better than in the 60’s. Nevertheless, when cornered to an emotional cage, you choose to fight or simply fade away from the limelight. The latter chose Marilyn or the other way?

Months before her untimely death, Marilyn Monroe gave one of her best interviews to George Barris, a photographer and a good friend of hers. She talked about her life, the time when she was smitten by the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ –

“I remember seeing Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. I sat there in a trance until my worried mother came to take me home. I asked her if there was another world out there or if it was just my imagination. Could dreams really come true? I wondered, Are the movies a make-believe land, just an illusion?”

And, if there was any truth to what happened to Owen Wilson in the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’, I would have loved to visit the Hollywood of the 50’s. A conversation with Marilyn would be a bargain I settle for.

Though the glamour made her iconic, Marilyn knew it was demanding and believed she was in the wrong era –

“I believe I am in the wrong era,” Marilyn was frank about the Hollywood she knew. “For example, many would pay me watch and for what? My body? Is that all I have got? I believe I have an excellent sense of humor and I am underutilised.”

So, what era would she have belonged to?

“I love the 30’s. The glamour, the attention, it was less complex, demanding,” she would go on talking about the leading ladies of that era. “Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford, Bette Davies, Greta Garbo, Mae West, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young…. and they are just the handful of them, all were glamorous in their own way.”

Personally, I agree with what she quoted. I have watched hundreds of movies belonging to the 30’s and 40’s – there was a mystic to the way actors and actresses went about their skills. The fuss over glamour was less and the natural beauty came to the fore.

Should I blame on the gruesome war and the after-effects to the way people began defining ‘glamour’? After all, a natural brunette had to be a blonde to become popular and Marilyn was an example when she started out in the film industry –

“During my modelling days, I was a brunette. Miss Emmeline Snively, who then ran the largest model agency in Los Angeles kept insisting I become a blonde. But I refused, I didn’t want to bleach my hair. But she kept telling me, “Norma Jeane, if you expect to go places, you’ve got to be a blonde.””

And the name…… Norma Jeane didn’t appeal and Marilyn Monroe was born after a screen test with the Fox studios.

“I became Marilyn Monroe only after getting a contract from Fox Studios. Ben Lyon, who was the talent scout suggested the name ‘Marilyn’ and my legal guardian, Aunt Grace inspired me to choose my mother’s maiden’s name ‘Monroe’.”

The name has remained fresh and alive with memories, stories, quotes, and largely rumours as to who ‘Marilyn Monroe’ really was.

The interview with George Barris gives a sneak peek into her mind and her thought process devoid of the glamour.

And then within days after sharing parts of her life, she was gone…. this time forever. And I am not sure she completed the two books (Captain Newman and To Kill a Mockingbird) she was reading at the time of the interview.

In her own words, she said, “I’m thirty-six years old. I’m just getting started. I want to work. Acting is my life…. I’m not the girl next door, I’m not a goody-goody and I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human.”

She would have been 91, had seen been alive! Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

 

 

 

(Quotes sourced from Marilyn’s interview with George Barris, Her Life In Her Own Words)

Why I Support Trump!

Read these few lines before concluding:

In 2002, I met this introvert with whom I shared an instant connection because of the ‘football’ club we support. On most occasions, it was ‘us’ versus ‘the other classmates’ and it was all fun.

He travelled close to 70 km each day (considering the Bangalore traffic) on public transport and never once complained about it. He went on to secure good grades, got campus placement and worked tenuously for eight years.

He loved life like anyone and his life changed two years ago, his juvenile diabetes triggered a reaction that has since resulted in problems in his kidney. He had to quit his job, undergo dialysis treatment (it is ongoing) and now he finds himself in a situation where kidney replacement is critical.

Luckily, a renowned hospital in Bangalore has found a kidney match for the transplant surgery.

His family and friends are doing their bit; however, it is the financial help along with the prayers that will help him recover and lead a life which we all deserve. The operation is due in less than a month.

His family has set up a contribution page through which you can contribute and give him the hope that is needed.

https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/multipleorgantransplant?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=fbpageshare&utm_campaign=multipleorgantransplant

Alternatively, you can deposit directly to his account here –

SBI Account details

A/c Name: Praveen Kumar matam

A/c no: 20085201868

IFSC code: SBIN0004456

ITPL Campus (Bangalore)

 

 

And, regarding Donald Trump.

 Forget about him and instead feel good by helping a fellow human.

A Decade To Remember

Today, I came across this comic by Gav, whom I regard as one of the creative artists of our era. His methods are simplistic and to the point. His illustrations drive towards a conclusion, that makes me think, introspect about my life and its choices.

This time, he features David Bowie, the late singer who departed in 2016 leaving behind hundreds of songs and in them, his memories.

In my lifetime, I have been surrounded by artists and been privy to some of their creative thinking methods.

There are few confident artists who can deliver the line, in a style Rhett Butler from Gone with The Wind would have whistled in approval.

At the same time,

Many artists have succumbed to the ‘pressure’ after smelling the sweetness of ‘success’. The pressure extended by others, who in a way are just being themselves or doing their job.

There is public, a gallery, who perceive, who decide, opine, and critic. We do not think about the handful of those who praise.

Why restrict to artists, it applies to all of us, isn’t it?

Let us dwell into some of the quotes that was recently featured in the comic:

“Never play to the Gallery.”

“Never work for other people at what you do.”

“Always remember that the reason you initially started working, was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of the society.”

“I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other people’s expectations. I think they produce their worst work when they do that.”

“Go a little bit out of your depth.”

 

These lines strike a chord to some of the unusual career choices (going by my peers) I have made in my life.

My path drifted a great deal from the norm (again, my peers being the yardstick) with the creation of a blog ten years ago. I wrote, despite my lack of skills as a writer.

For what I understood, ‘First, there are rules, then there is a room for amendments.’

We are humans, we cannot live by the commandments as we strive for better lives, evolve into something different from our previous generations.

That’s the order – we can get-in and create something wonderful or hold on to some of the antiquated rules sans adaptation.

Late 2006, I remember, my brother talked about ‘venting my feelings’ through a blog. I had a diary, a blog opened a world previously not seen.

Looking back, I might not yet have a best-seller, or a regular column in a top newspaper nor am I a celebrity blogger.

Instead, I have gotten to know myself better and that, trust me is a reward.

Happy Birthday Thatha

The tenth day of January remains a special day in my life. Since the late 1980s,  I was made aware about the dates and the use of it for occasions to wish, celebrate or remember.

My maternal grandfather’s birth date happens to be 10th January.

He had a liking to write – in his case, it was personalised letters, which he wrote frequently. My mother replied to all of them and my birthday wish to him began with a letter – “Happy birthday Thatha,” that’s how I called him or refer him to this day, ‘Thatha’.

And, in the 90s, it was our time to send him greeting cards. My sister and I used to write our unique messages. Wish, I had a way to scan those cards we sent.

He retired from his service and lived in rural Bangalore, and thereby much closer to us. We made those visits if his birthdays were on Sundays or else it was still the ‘greeting cards’.

Then came the telephone, he was just a dial away from receiving our wishes.

As I grew up, I fancied riding on a bike to wish him on occasions.

Few years later, we would drive with our family and celebrated with him or have him down to the city so that he could spend time with his children and grandchildren.

By this time, he had a mobile number.

Then it was 2009, the last time I wished him in person. Two weeks later, I left India and since then we kept in touch via a mobile device.

And, in 2014, just days before his birthday, Tripti and I visited him in January during our short stay in India. We wished him in advance and did call him on the 10th of January. Who knew what was to come?

He passed away few months later in May of 2014. I made that trip to the village, by then the final rites were complete. He was gone from our physical world. I didn’t know what to make of it. It took me some time to accept that he wasn’t there if I had to converse with him.

Three years on, the 10th of January remains special. I wish him from my heart, and remember for being such an influential figure in my development.

He was the first person to narrate me stories, the tales from mythology to his encounters with many interesting people he met in his lifetime. I learnt how to share one’s experiences listening to him, for he always crafted a story out of nothing.

My love for the movie classics stemming from the 30s were thanks to him. He loved his motorcycle, and was patient with a lot of people. There are many more incidents related to him that deserve a memoir, maybe one day I will pen those thoughts.

For now, I would say, happy birthday Thatha, I miss conversing with you.

To Click Or Not To Click

There are many reasons why I recommend the 2013 movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I will not go into the details. Instead, I will cut to the chase and share my favourite part of the movie.

It happens to be a conversation between Sean Penn (who plays the role of Sean O’Connell) and Ben Stiller (as Walter Mitty).

Walter had gone to great lengths to find O’Connell and after many adventure-filled incidents, he meets Sean at the top of Himalayas. During their conversation, Sean interrupts him as they encounter a snow leopard.

Much to his dismay, Walter Mitty was surprised to see Sean not fiddling with his camera and instead watching the movements of snow leopard. It is said, the sighting of the snow leopard is rare.

The bemused Mitty asks Sean, “When are you going to take it?”

“Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it,” was Sean’s reply.

“Stay in it?”

“Yeah. Right there. Right here.”

 

The last few days, I have woken up to some of the best white winter mornings I have witnessed thus far in my life. I was tempted and must admit I was sucked into using my camera, clicking away what I was witnessing.

And, then… I shut my camera and kept it aside.

There were no words or thoughts on my mind, just my eyes looking through the window and seconds later standing out in the balcony in the cold weather, I had forgotten for a brief time that I was recovering from a viral flu.

It was one such moment when I realised what a luxury it is at times to just look at the marvels of nature without the urge to sharing it to the world.

Clicking photos doesn’t cost a thing these days. It comes with our basic communication package – the smart phone. Therefore, it is not uncommon to snap the random moments we encounter without planning.

For the last few years, I have been introspecting over these questions – Why am I clicking a ‘moment’?

What separates a ‘photographic tale’ from a mere random shot?

When should I provide a narrative to my snaps and when to leave it to other’s interpretation?

I am still in the process of concluding or maybe I might never reach such a closure. That doesn’t bother me. However, what I have realised is that, I love to present a moment as I view it.

The colour, contrast, the hues, brightness, the ambience and warmth – all these aspects, I have learnt by making innumerable mistakes since the time my mother gifted me a digital SLR in 2004. The learning process is on-going. Looking back at those errors, some have presented a different take on my subjects.

I am yet to learn how to effectively photoshop and I believe it is a time-consuming process. Instead, the photos are resorted to minor image tuning whenever I feel there is a need for it.

The beauty seen through the occasional flawed eyes of mine can be open to interpretation – but that’s another story, a story nevertheless.

The technology of viewing has evolved over the centuries – we can look at farther objects and examine the tiniest. However, when it comes to capturing the ‘moments’ around us, there is no better substitute for a pair of eyes.

And, my camera – well it just helps me to recollect those moments I have captured whenever I feel the need to revisit them.

MEMORIES

Memories, ah!

They are wonderful and being aware of my feelings, tonight, for some time I have been reluctantly travelling down memory lane. Quite noticeably, I am recalling random conversations that are dear to me. I am not sure what to name ‘the state I am in’.

I wish to go back and relive those moments, rekindle many a conversation, replant the several pranks, re-taste the foods from different cuisines, retake the journeys to different cities, and reconnect with people who have and remain in my life.

Memories,

There are plenty that’s stored but none can come close to those real moments that formed these frames in my film of memories. Looking back, I would be prejudiced, for I seem to have known the outcome. Who cares!!

Memories,

It made me nostalgic, and I felt the world around me had stopped.

I ran as fast as I could to travel back in time, only to realise that I was merely a spectator and not an active participant.

I tried to put these thoughts aside and hit the bed, it didn’t work.

Minutes later, I decide to type, wondering if letting it out would offer me a meaning to what I was going through……

C’est la vie. That is time’s way of telling, “although there is a window to look back; there’s no living back.”

Memories…. beautiful memories… I am happy to have carried you all along.

Image – Wonder How To/Shutterstock

Photo Credit - Selina Man Karlsson

MINDFUL STORYTELLING

There comes a time when you are looking for avenues to stay motivated even for things you love doing.

To me, I was mentally stung by a phenomenon called ‘writer’s block’.

The word here is ‘zeal’ and that was missing since the beginning of August. I could not put words and form sentences for extended periods of time.

What could I have done?

Days became weeks and weeks stretched to months. I had to do something to get over this ‘hurdle’.

During this struggle, I came across a course called ‘Connect using Mindful Storytelling’ early November.

Now, here comes the interesting part.

I was hesitant to sign up for the course and I am not sure why. I looked at the course again after two days. And, this time I signed up. I was looking forward to the course, to become more aware as to why I write.

Will the course provide me with a solution to get over the wall? I certainly hoped so when I enrolled.

The words ‘mindful’ and ‘storytelling’ had a profound effect on my thinking. I took some time off from my daily chores and had a conversation with myself.

Long story short, I realised – “I was in the process of rediscovering my purpose to write again.”

Alas, last week, I found the ‘mojo’. In a matter of minutes, words came naturally and importantly, my voice was being documented.

It resulted in an article.

Few days later, out came another article and a short story. All this, a day before the course.

“Do I need to attend,”  was the question that occured to me.

I ruled in favour of the course. I sensed, I might learn something new, a different perspective, now that I have re-discovered my touch towards writing.

Yesterday, I attended the forum with an open mind. The only sure thing about the course was that, I would meet Caitlin Krause and hear her perspectives about storytelling.

Let me share what did I take away the most from the course –

“I remember every individual who attended the course. Nine names of the people whom I had not met before.”

And, not just that. I can tell you how they got their names, at least their first names.

How?

Storytelling is not about paying attention alone. It is about making a connection, to what’s happening around us.

Each of us introduced to the others in the room with a personalised etymology game – origin of our names, not just theoretically, but with a touch of personal element and the flavour of dramatic license.

Result – the names of the participants are etched in my memory.

There were many other interesting topics we covered in those 150 minutes, personally I came out of the room with renewed confidence.

I was lost only to rediscover myself.

Photo Credit – Selina Mal Karlsson

THEY MET IN GENEVA

This is a story about two Indians meeting in Geneva in the 1960’s. He came to realise his dreams while she, when her dreams were shattered…..

 

CHAPTER ONE

Akira was tired of having fleeting relationships. She had no choice and was frustrated about the pool of boys available to have a conversation.

Shy, intimidated, boastful, chivalrous……. and relentless, not her type.

The wait ended when she met a ‘likeable’ guy and they found a good company in each other. Two years, that’s when the expiry date came about to their relationship. The talks of mutual separation were cool; however, it was hard on those 22-year old college pass outs.

Akira turned to her mother Jaya, who was all ears about her daughter’s life.

“You both had no feelings whatsoever,” Jaya replied after remaining patient for half an hour. “or else you would have made it work, isn’t it?”

Jaya had to update herself with the latest meaning of the term ‘break-up’.

The concerned mother continued, “I don’t understand today’s definition of break-up, make-up. In my days, we used to make up and never thought about breaking up. How times have changed.”

The conversation between mother and daughter had shifted from kitchen to their garden. Mamma, that’s how Akira called her mother had just brewed a pot of ‘masala chai’.

Akira was home sick and it was evident from the tins of ‘home made cookies’ and few salted savouries, she brought along to the patio.

“I miss your Pappa, and that is one of the reasons why I am taking this break in India,” Jaya shifted the conversation to her thoughts. “There are just too many memories of his and ours back in Lausanne. And, I thank you Akira for accompanying me here post your break up.”

Tears rolled on Jaya’s eyes as she recalled the times when she and Akira’s Pappa spent their evenings walking along the shores of Lake Geneva.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 Jaya flew outside India for the first time to Lausanne, Switzerland. She was one of the few students from India selected to be a part of the master’s programme in hotel management at the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne.

During her internship, she was part of the group that catered to a large gathering of diplomats at the UN convention in Geneva. It was here Jaya met Akira’s Pappa for the first time.

Jaya was nostalgic about their first meeting – “He looked so out of place when I saw him for the first time. He was nervous, and he was walking about the corridor while the programme was on.”

“Excuse me, can I help you in some way? can I get you something?”

The young gentleman was visibly nervous, “No, thanks. I am anxious, as I have never spoken in front of such a large audience. Some of them who are seated will be the ones I will end up reporting on my next assignment.”

Jaya, in her youth was vivacious. She was doing a favour by taking his mind off the impending speech. Not, just that, she was equally curious about this young Indian who appeared smart, though a touch nervous.

“Hi, my name is Jaya and I am an intern with the catering company. Let me know if you need any help from my side.”

Jaya continued, “Now, I can offer you just these refreshments – though after the event, we can meet up over a cup of coffee. I will be here in this area wrapping up my work.”

She hoped, it would be a yes!

“My name is Girish and I hate to admit, I am not thinking too much other than my speech now. I am not being rude, it is just that, I do not want to goof it up.”

He continued and his nervousness showed, “I am shy and introvert by nature. Sometimes I fear I may lose my words when I am in the middle of my speech.”

Jaya eagerly listened, “However, I have made a mental note, Jaya. And it would be a pleasure to catch up with you,” and nervously went back to the speech papers he was holding.

It was a yes as far as Jaya was concerned. Their conversation was interrupted when a colleague of Girish’s asked him to come inside the auditorium.

Girish was at the convention to deliver a lecture on his research findings about the need of empowering house wives and women. It focussed on giving financial assistance and other aids to the small-scale industry schemes in developing and under-developed countries.

The United Nations had conceptualised the event ‘Great Minds, Great Ideas’ to attract ideas in a forum where countries could exchange best practices. Girish was representing India and those papers contained his vision and a proposal for his idea.

“Good luck, Girish,” Jaya smiled and hoped they could meet up for a coffee at the end of the programme.

 

CHAPTER THREE

The forum of Great Minds, Great Ideas was a great initiative. Girish felt when ideas from different societies and economies merge, it will have a positive influence in establishing collaborations and the necessary infrastructure to realise development projects.

His towering appearance in a navy-blue suit with white shirt and a dark blue tie masked his nervousness to an extent.

Girish stumbled a couple of times, but overall managed to cover his idea to the audience, which had gathered from all over the world.

At the Q&A session following his talk, he was asked by an English delegate, ‘What is the most important element to realise this dream? And should it be through government or private?’

“Thank you, sir,” he paused for a few seconds, collected his thoughts and was ready to answer.

“For a programme of this stature requires a government initiative. Speaking for India, our only modes of mass communication are radio and newspaper. We must tie up with state governments as each of these governments are alike.”

Girish paused, although there were no signs of nervousness. He continued, “To give an example, India is like Europe. And each country in Europe resembles a state in India. Different languages, food habits, clothes, appearances and mind sets. So, there must be a two-step process,” he went on…

“Firstly, the Union Government directs the state governments and secondly, the state governments enforcing them and monitoring the policies regularly. In a democratic set-up, it is difficult to change overnight, however, unless we plan, execute, monitor, adapt, one cannot expect to move forward with these ideas.”

The audience applauded Girish’s response. Though, his visionary idea was good – but most of them could not connect with him.

It was confusing times in the 60’s.

A winner had to be chosen and in the times of war and arms, the idea of ‘disarmament and the ecology movement’ won the award. This idea went on to become ‘Greenpeace’.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 Girish was visibly disappointed – however, he knew the world must get rid of its desires to fight battles, wage wars and kill lives and destroy our environment.

It was early June. The light was bright and he didn’t have any mood to network among the people gathered at the apéro.

Although the audience from other parts of the world wanted to catch a glimpse of Girish, after all he did have a worthwhile idea.

After two hours of friendly exchanges, Girish decided he would return home.

Just as he made his way to the exit door, he thought about Jaya. He made his way to the corridor where they had first met. Jaya had just completed her work for the day though she was still in her business attire. She was visibly happy that Girish remembered her.

“Give me ten minutes, will you? I will go change and then inform my manager about having completed my tasks,” Jaya said with a smile.

“Sure, I will wait for you here,” he was yet to come out of the disappointment.

Walking helps to come out of disappointment. He decided to walk along the long corridor to move on from the talk.

Girish saw an interesting poster that read – ‘Premiere Festival de Jazz Montreux, 16-18 June, 1967 at Casino Montreux’.

He had a good taste for music and wondered if he could make it for this grand event.

Girish’s fascination for Jazz came from the Hollywood movies that showcased a lot of Jazz artists. Girish was paying attention to every detail on the poster and little did he realise how those ten minutes went by.

Jaya stood behind him, patted him and asked, “Do you like Jazz?”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t notice your presence. I was lost looking at this poster.”

She was anything but formal in attitude and that went well with her attire, without the double-breasted jacket and that funny looking toque blanche.

“You didn’t answer my question, do you like Jazz?”

“Pardon me, yes, I prefer Jazz. It is smooth, at times relaxing and adds a great deal of meaning to some of the Hollywood movies.”

“Would you like to join us in two weeks’ time for this Jazz festival?” – Jaya asked.

The reticent Girish just did not know how to answer.

In fact, part of his behaviour stemmed from the fact that, he had never met a girl like Jaya before.

She was direct, devoid of shy whatsoever, very contrary to that of Girish.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 “You are to the point, aren’t you?” – Girish replied.

“Yes, that I am” – remarked Jaya.

She continued, “Shall we talk more about this with a cup of coffee?”

“I told my manager that I have some assignments to finish for my course. And it wouldn’t be appropriate if he saw me here. Although, he is a nice guy and won’t poke his nose much as I have finished my tasks, it would be great if we stepped out.”

“And, you talk a lot!”, Girish was warming up to a conversation he never had before.

Jaya was a talker, “Well, someone has to, right? Or else, what’s the point of meeting a person?”

Girish just nodded and didn’t add any words.

There was an air of silence as they walked towards the main door which led them to the old streets of Geneva.

“Old town Geneva has some good cafés; do you know any in particular?” – Jaya, again, unable to bear the silence.

“Nothing in particular. I do not have a set preference when it comes to cafés or restaurants. I do not venture out and I prefer to cook at home. I am a vegetarian and in one year of my living here, I realised, there is no point searching for vegetarian food. So, I have settled for anything that isn’t meat.”

“Oh, you poor child. Missing home, is it,” Jaya was at him again.

Girish had warmed up quite well by now, “Yes, in a way. The only solace is when I receive letters from my parents. My mother like any other mother is constantly worried about my well-being. Her concerns revolve around my food and I do not intend to add fuel to fire by stating there isn’t any good Indian food available.”

He asked, “Don’t you miss home?”

“No, I don’t. Because there is no one back home.”

 

CHAPTER SIX

 Jaya’s response was too direct for Girish and he wondered what was the meaning behind her statement.

Another round of silence…… and again, Jaya resumed their conversation.

“Aren’t you curious about what I said,” she was one of her kind.

A few seconds of silence and Girish replied – “Yes, I am. However, I did not know how to proceed further. We just met and here I am asking personal questions.”

“You have got to ask questions when you are curious to know something,” Jaya zapped back at him, “That’s my motto and I do not think further.”

She continued – “Before you start thinking how to ask, I will answer it myself.”

Jaya smiled and Girish too had a pleasant grin on his face.

“I lost my parents in January last year. My father was a bright scientist and worked at the Indian Atomic Energy Commission. There was a conference that was scheduled in London in 1966 and my father took my mother along with him leaving me with my grandparents,” she continued

“The conference was for a week and my father thought, it would be a welcome change for my mother to visit a new place. I loved my grandparents since childhood and hence I did not create a fuss in them leaving me out. My exams were to begin in three weeks’ time. So, it was best if I stayed back and focussed on my studies.”

Jaya showed Girish a nice coffee shop and they both decide on that.

Lake Geneva was on to their right.

Just then a blonde waitress stepped out to take orders – “Bonsoir, Que voulez-vous boire?”

Jaya had learnt few beginner’ phrases in French and that was good enough to engage in a basic conversation –

“Je voudrais une tasse de café noir” and the waitress then looked at Girish.

He was clueless and had not invested enough time in learning French. Jaya stepped in and asked Girish, what would he like to drink? A black coffee or a milk coffee?

“Milk coffee for me” – Girish replied softly.

“Une tasse de café au lait pour le monsieur” – Jaya ordered on behalf of Girish.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

 A few seconds of silence and this time Girish reignited their conversation – “so, you were telling me……”

“Oh yes, where was I? Oh, yes, my parents left for London from Bombay on 23rd January. Although we hail from Bangalore, we were living in Bombay owing to my father’s work. My grandparents lived with us. I remember waving them goodbye at the airport,”

“They were on the Air India flight and the next morning, there was a flight crash as the flight accidentally flew into Mont Blanc. There were no survivors and along with my parents, other hundred passengers too lost their lives. Have you heard of the tragic death of the famed scientist Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha?”

“Yes, I did. It was very sad”

“Well, my parents were on the same flight. And we got this news a day later. My grandparents were distraught and I didn’t quite know how to react. I didn’t cry and my relatives were worried that I didn’t react at all.”

Jaya paused for the first time, she looked right to the sight of Lake Geneva and a few seconds later she resumed.

“It took me days, in fact weeks for the news to settle in. And I wept in my room just as I was preparing for my final exams. My grandparents heard me weep, came in my room and hugged me.”

She turned towards the lake and paused again. This time her silence was longer than few seconds ago.

Jaya turned towards Girish and continued –

“They just hugged me and didn’t utter any word. They had lost their son and daughter-in-law and I had lost my parents. All three of us wept for the common loss of ours – a loss that would be irreplaceable,” and she again turned towards the lake.

The waitress came with their orders – placed the black coffee in front of Girish.

Jaya corrected the waitress – “Le café noir est pour moi. Le monsieur avait ordonné le café avec du lait.”

“Excusez-moi, je suis très désolé.” – the waitress realised her error and quickly placed the milk coffee in front of Girish.

Another round of silence……both had not touched their cups. Jaya was back to staring at the lake.

Girish looked at Jaya and didn’t know what to say. He was short of words; he was confused and didn’t know how to proceed.

And, quite instinctively, he placed his hands over her. Jaya turned towards him – “I am sorry for your loss,” he said it with empathy.

A few seconds later, he slowly removed his hands and waited for her to react.

Probably, his instincts were right, Jaya brushed aside the thoughts she was caught up a few moments ago and took the cup of coffee from her right hand.

They sipped their respective coffees, and in between no words came out of their mouths. It seemed like they didn’t prefer talking while having coffee, or was it a uncalled break in their conversation?

All one could hear was the ‘chat’ coming from inside the restaurant. It was about 8 pm and most of the guests had finished their dinner and were bidding ‘au revoir’ to their friends.

Girish and Jaya sat silently just as the music started playing.

A pianist seated inside began the evening with the instrumental version of Herman Hupfeld’s masterpiece, ‘As Time Goes By’. This song caught everyone’s attention when it was used as a leitmotif in the 1942 romantic drama Casablanca.

Just like Sam in the movie, the pianist too played the piano in D major and mixed it up with B-flat major.

The B-flat major reminded Girish of Frank Sinatra’s version of ‘As Times Goes By’. The song suited the mood perfectly and they both sat in silence and not looking at each other.

And then moments later… the pianist started to sing with the tune…

“You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss; a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply, as time goes by….”

Girish was looking at Jaya and she looked back at him. None gave away anything and in the background, they could hear….

“And when two lovers woo, they still say I love you. On that you can rely. No matter what the future brings, as time goes by……”

Jaya held Girish’s hands which were on the table without looking away ….

The pianist continued,

“Moonlight and love songs, never out of date. Hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate. Woman needs man and man must have his mate, that no one can deny.”

He too held her hands firmly…

“It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory. A case of do or die. The world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by.”

And Girish uttered these lines in sync with the pianist looking firmly into Jaya’s eyes –

“Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers. As time goes by.”

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

There was a moment that swept them while ‘As time goes by’ was playing in the background.

And to add to this, Girish uttered those lines – “The world will always welcome lovers,” Jaya pondered and didn’t know what to say or how to react.

The ever-chatty Jaya had gone into her shell and remained there.

“So, where do you live?” – Girish asked Jaya.

He deliberately changed the topic to make her feel at ease. He was now with a girl who remained silent, someone very different to whom he had met earlier in the day.

“I live in Lausanne, a few thousand meters away from the lake,” she pointed in a direction.

“Do you like it there,” the change in topic seemed to reignite their conversation.

“Yes, I love it. The lake is my friend when I feel lonely in my apartment. I just take a walk along the lake and walk up to Ouchy. And sometimes, I swim on the lake or other times, I take a boat and go to Evian le bains.”

Jaya was out of her shell, “Of course, I do have a schedule to manage as I am still a student. But I feel, I am now part of this city and the lake.”

She looked at the lake and pointed far away – “There, I am not sure if I am accurate, but I stay that far away” and she laughed.

Girish felt a touch better when he saw her laugh. It had been a heavy forty minutes or so and he knew he had walked on tricky waters when he heard her tragic story.

But he got an impression, it was half the story. Girish sensed there is more to it.

He pondered on her words which she said earlier – “Because there is no one back home.”

Girish felt it was best not to dwell in her past further. At least, at that moment.

He continued, “Can I suggest something, aren’t you hungry?”

Jaya pulled out a grin on her face. “Didn’t you fill enough with all those savouries at the apéro?”

Apéro was not his thing. Bowls of olives, assorted Swiss cheese, nuts, pickled cucumbers, chips and few meat sandwiches weren’t going to fill his stomach, the way he was used to.

In fact, it made him a touch irritated as it wasn’t the perfect appetizers either.

“How much can one chew nuts or cheese before dinner,” Girish visibly upset.

“All I did was munch few salted chips and drink a glass of orange juice. The conversations with few went deep and so I had a glass of apple juice.”

He continued, “I am used to having a proper meal. And I don’t get the point. Why not a buffet when we have such gatherings in the evening. Why stop at apéro?”

“Hee-hee, you know it requires a lot of planning and coordination to host a buffet for such a big delegation. And besides, the culture over here is to have an apéro and many of the locals I know fill their stomachs before calling it a day.”

Girish was not amused with her answer. She continued,

“They enjoy when they are invited for an apéro. In one year and being a student, I am used to stuffing my stomach with all the savouries. And mister, no restaurant would serve the food of your liking at this hour. It is 8.30 in the evening.”

She had resumed her bubbly-ness, “Wait, maybe we can have a look at the Genève-Gare. There might be something to eat,” Jaya led the way and asked for the waitress to bring the bill.

And Jaya was unstoppable, “This is the best part about dining out. Even though we had just two cups of coffee, the staff over here didn’t pressure us to leave when finished. But if you are seated at a reserved table, they may come and politely request us to hurry or leave as they must prepare and set the table for the reserved guests. I like that etiquette very much. That way we can have better conversations.”

 

CHAPTER NINE

 What can a vegetarian find at 9 pm in a train station in Genève? It was a rarity for a person to not eat meat in this part of the world. But there he was sticking to his beliefs and policy of remaining that way. Jaya understood where he was coming from and didn’t advocate him.

Jaya shifted to eating meat when she found it tough living in Lausanne.

Girish by now had demonstrated he was not flexible when it came to altering his food habits.

“I have a confession to make. I too come from a vegetarian family, but things changed once I landed in Lausanne. How much can one take lettuces and other raw vegetables?”

She continued, “Yes, there is Pizza Margharita, Cheese sandwiches and occasional potato gratins – good food was rare, few and expensive. I tried a few days with just croissants and other bakery products, it just didn’t work out.”

And to add to her woes, “My roommates are from Iran and Vietnam – and all I had each night was boiled rice with boiled vegetables while they gorged themselves with meat. I got tired of eating pasta with tomato and pesto sauce.”

Girish laughed at her and Jaya continued – “And besides, I am a touch lazy to cook for myself. Earlier I enjoyed it while cooking with my family”……

and suddenly both their faces expressed different emotions. Her face went a bit pale as it was not so long ago she remembered her deceased family and now those happy memories came back again.

What is the point in having such memories, when you know you cannot relive them? Why can’t one just forget about it and move on? Why moving on isn’t easy and needs effort? Why should we struggle to feel better?

Those thoughts must have crossed Jaya’s mind innumerable times in those last fifteen months.

No matter what one says about moving on – it is like climbing a peak. One must take it one step at a time to conquer the peak. And to those hard-felt feelings, one should keep living the day as it presents and fill with fresh memories, that way old memories no longer hold you back.

“Look what I found” – Girish brought Jaya her back to the world.

She was lost in her thoughts while he was busy looking for some food.

Girish held a baguette which had cheese spread, three slices of tomato, few lettuce leaves and topped with mustard sauce. He would have preferred ketchup – but some sauce is better than eating bland.

Jaya smiled and this time looking at Girish’s childish exuberance in having discovered a baguette made from vegetables and cheese. He offered her half of it, “let’s have it together, what say?”

She pointed her right index finger to her stomach and indicated she was full.

Girish was puzzled, “How can you eat all those things and say you had your dinner?”

Jaya laughed a bit more and she had completely gotten off her thoughts.

While Girish’s eyes were on the baguette, she looked at him in a strange way.

She appeared lost, again – but this time it was different.

Jaya was lost in the present, looking at him, his entirety, which was a bit more casual with his coat neatly folded on his left hand. His tie was off and an unbuttoned shirt.

Jaya gazed at him and occasionally he looked at her while chewing, making gestures as to ask what was she thinking? She nodded as though it was nothing.

When a woman says nothing, it means she doesn’t wish to share. One needs to prod more and gently make her feel at ease. Then she might share what was on her mind.

Try you luck, it is not a guarantee.

Perhaps, she wanted those thoughts to remain just with her, closed in her secret garden where many such thoughts are stored.

What is the use of such thoughts that remain only with you? Will it come in aid when times are different from what you are experiencing right now.

Is life all about collecting such memories and keep storing so that someday they come back and give us solace?

What if the meaning of those thoughts change with time?

Girish had finished his meal and found Jaya lost in her thoughts, once again, “Where are you lost?”

Jaya was quick to respond – “Nothing, I am bit tired. I think I want to go home.”

“Oh, sure. I understand. I shall accompany you till Lausanne and then I take a train back to Genève.”

“That won’t be necessary, I can manage. This country is safe. Plus, you had a long day and don’t you have to work tomorrow?”

“At least, I will drop you till your platform,” he insisted.

Another moment of silence… and he continued, “I had a great time with you this evening. Thanks for asking me out for a cup of coffee.”

Jaya didn’t say anything and they walked slowly towards the platform. The day had been tiresome to her – physically and emotionally.

On one side, she met Girish and they spoke a lot and on the flip side, she spoke about a few things that made her touch sad. Mixed emotions!

They saw a drunkard seated on a bench and he was cleaning his mouth organ. He was in no state to play music or so, they thought. Within seconds came a rendition of French performer Edith Piaf’s ‘la vie en rose’.

The organist wasn’t just playing, he was conveying a message, a deep one. Not sure what was his exact state of mind, but the sound had a profound effect on people in the vicinity.

Girish got reminded of Audrey Hepburn and her rendition of ‘la vie en rose’ from the movie ‘Sabrina’.

He stood puzzled just as Humphrey Bogart in the movie.

The day was meant to be about his talk, but there he was, a few hours later, his thoughts far away from his vision to empower women in the developing and under developed countries.

Life is funny, if you give it a chance.

Girish didn’t know how to put those feelings away he has for Jaya.

Both, stood silently and just when the train rolled up on the platform, Jaya reminded him about the inaugural Jazz festival and before she boarded the train, she gave him a kiss on his right cheek and said in a very soft voice –

“I had a great time too. See you soon.”