Friday, June 17, 2011

“Sir, kya aap singEl hai?”

They say face is the reflection of one’s inner self. But there are quite a few around who do not have the gift to read other’s face and who oppose this theory vehemently.

My usual day at office started when I got off the bus at the entrance gate. Walking towards the gate, I noticed a tall slender figure, almost as old as me maybe a little younger, at the gate having a peek into what a few would want to keep private- their bags (first lesson here, don’t assume, if you just started assuming). Who is not interested to peek into someone else’s affairs? That could be the reason why we see a profusion of gossip shows nowadays. Fundamentally, even the news channels feed on this human instinct to publicize what could be kept a secret, if not at times. Don’t belittle our gentle lady, she was only doing her job; she had to peek because she was asked to peek. She had to peek because she was one among those responsible to keep the place safe from any unassuming stranger who might be thinking of blowing himself up inside the premises one day. The terror hangover persists!! That was why we had our dear lady in uniform posted at the gate.

As I neared the security gate, our eyes crossed for a couple of seconds. In a fraction of a second I felt that she had a little something for me; her countenance suggested it. We all might have had, at least once in our life time experienced this sort of passing feeling. Those who are in love might agree with me when I say love is deaf, blind, doesn’t require verbal communication (which translates to dumb in common English. If that is the case, being in love could qualify and render one totally disabled). All I want to say here is, verbal communication is not the only mode of communication. Perhaps, you might never had felt existence of non verbal form of communication; not my fault why you never experienced it. Better luck next time is all what I have to say!!

It was not long before somebody accused me of imagining things. Scientists imagine, Poets imagine but the world seems not to bother about it too much. APJA Kalam asked us to imagine, Einstein asked us to imagine, perhaps they even asked us to go a step beyond- they asked us to dream, but the world seems to take a tumble when I imagine. “Come on are assuming things, your sixth sense circuit is flawed. I don’t want a second finger point at me; I guess there is nothing wrong with me; let me not assume things. There is nothing that the young lady wants to do with me”. I moved on after the security check, walking past the figures donning army fatigues, without offering another look at the faces there and suppressing my new found eagerness.

When the doors are closed, the key has to be sought; the wisdom that has echoed down the ages came to my help when I found the doors of my room locked. The doors would be locked only when my dear colleague thinks ‘late to office’ or ‘not to office’. As I strolled back to the security gate to fetch the keys my rational and my herd instinct launched into their routine dispute. I must admit, they are pretty good at arguing, that at times I find myself lost in this world where it is difficult to lose yourself, unless you want to do so. That was my chance to see if she really wanted to say something. But how to get rid of a finger that points right at my forehead, like the sword which once dangled over Damocles’ head. Haven’t we talked about Damocles? The modern day science might explain his condition as an acute version of my syndrome. Guys imagine if it was a finger for me at the forehead it was sword for him over his head. I was better off. “Hmm...You win rational. Grab the keys, walk straight, look straight; nothing in the world is so interesting to catch your attention. You give in to your instincts and you prove that something is really wrong with you.” I took the keys from the security office and turned back and I saw nothing but the passage in front of me.

“Sir...”... “The lady in uniform in fact had a li’l surprise for me” (to those who didn’t like this mode of an addressing, they call everybody sir :P) thought I, as I turned back at the call. Without much ado she broke the suspense... “kya aap single hai?”(Are you single?)... “Did I just hear it right?” I thought. “Excuse me”, I asked her quizzically. “Aap single hai?” she repeated the question... “Oh she really asked it... what she has got to do with my singleness” and I started ‘imagining’ of the possibilities... “She doesn’t seem to be one of those innocent looking “official” matchmakers who would usually start with your family background and end up speaking about the fat pocket of the bride’s father. Wait a sec, if she is really one....Then hats off to you lady. That was bold of you ask that to my face.. Or is she really trying to search for a match for her in me...then also it is bold of you to ask that to my face.. I am yet to work up the courage.. Am I feeling my jaws falling apart? Hold on, don’t open your mouth. Don’t let her know that you are a conservative Keralite and Rule 567 in the Macho man’s BIG BOOK (yet to be authored) says, “Men aren’t supposed to have emotions. If you are to impress a woman don’t open your heart to her”. C**p!!!” my thoughts wandered away.

“Single?” I asked her; with my face in a form as twisted as a question mark... “Haan. Single?”... “Yes, I am single”... And to my surprise her face lit up, as if she heard what she wanted to hear. Dumbstruck, as I was about to turn back, to my stupefaction I saw yet another face getting lit up- her friend’s..She too seemed to be happy about hearing that... It seemed like a buy one get one offer to me. I totally lost grasp of the situation... I looked askance at the ladies...None of my theories were fitting in properly. “But where can I go wrong? Did I imagine again? I have been too cautious to leave any room for assumptions this time. It is time to do the root cause analysis. Maybe she didn’t say ‘single’, then what else could it be ... ‘Simple: she need not ask it :P, Humble, Nimble, Amble, Dimple, Pimple, Fumble, Temple.....’ Enough with the adjectives, nouns and even verbs, nothing makes sense.” I thought out all alternatives and couldn’t make head or tail out of it.

After a brief cerebration I could find only a single word that made sense to me... Singer. But I don’t go to office to sing. “What did you ask? Did you ask singer?” I asked her. She seemed to be not interested in having a conversation in a foreign language. She aimlessly took few paces back and forth in a 1x1 m2 area and told “kuch nahi”(nothing), with a blushing smile. “O dear lady, I am not the one to leave you just like that. Let’s uphold our national language but this once. But don’t you laugh at the way I handle ‘my’ national language”. “Singer......Gana...Vocal” I enquired with my hand tapping on my throat ... The link has been finally established and I saw two beaming faces once again. “Haan sir gana. Aap gaate hai?(Do you sing?)”... I was quick to offer an innocent smile to them. “he he, not even in the bathroom. Thomas Antony sir (School Music teacher) was the first and last man to make me sing against my will”, I thought. “No, I don’t” and I moved to my sitting place with a little bit of curiosity still wanting to be killed.

Next day evening while showing my bag for the security check, I found that the tall one wasn’t on duty. I asked her friend “Kal kyon pucha ki me singer hai?”(What made you think that I sing?). Reply was “Sir, woh kisine usko bataya ki aap singer hai” (Somebody told her that you are Singer). Ladies and Gentlemen let me have the privilege to introduce ‘somebody’ to you; she was the third lady in uniform.

“Sir aap real me singer hai”(Are you really a singer?), this time l found myself gaping at new interrogator, asking the same question. “No, No”, I smiled and told. “If you don’t believe I will sing once and then you’d believe”, nutty wits or witty

I told you guys, they peek into your bags. They invaded my privacy too. Once I remember another girl having a look into my file in which I had filed sheet notes.(Sheet notes and me...that’s another story, maybe later) Now I see everything falling in place.

Indian English is as diverse as the Indian culture. Take any currency note and we have the denomination written in 17 (15+ English + Hindi) languages. It is no surprise, that we have more than 17 ways of speaking English. Usually Hindi speakers pronounce ‘Single’ as ‘SingEl’ and this made me think that she asked me whether I was single.

Single....Singel...Singer... Haha... Didn’t I imagine things? And here I have the finger back at my forehead. “You assume things”,the voice ringing in my ear and somewhere far away I see a face grinning at the computer screen and telling “I told you, you imagine things. I knew you would assume”.


“BICYCLE” is a symbol of freedom, free from fuel, pollution, traffic problem and parking (and almost free from maintenance).It’s best features are High efficiency, eco friendliness, fitness amiability, great mileage and safest mode of communication. one just need to have is a perception to look at it and passion to start cycling.

Bicycle has been part of many socio–economic changes in the society. Not just as a mode to commute that relieved the horses to some extent. It became a source of R&D since 80’s like ball bearings, chain drives, safety cycle design, to improve comfort and performance. It also has its contribution in industrialization like mass production, standardization of components and vertical integration which were later adopted by the automobile industry. Some automobile companies Skoda, Ailsa Craig, Rover company, started their business with cycle production.

The bicycle craze in 1890’s also led to a movement for so called rational dress, which helped liberate women from ankle length ”traditional dress”(not talking about Asian or African countries). It has been accepted as simplest and the safest fitness equipment by fitness trainers throughout the world and in armed forces to train the warriors.

Last but not the least it has been part of movies since long time (from the era of black & white movies). It has taken its role in romantic scene to action scene (Main Hoon Na) and even in Hollywood (transporter 3). It is in our life dissolved and dispersed. For some people it is an only option but some choose it by choice (mentioning some names will be unfair).

M S Athirup (31) is one among such; an entrepreneur who runs ‘Atelier solutions’. His company is handling digitization of the VSSC library since past 8 years, translation of Russian and French documents in LPSC, Database management software for BSNL & Indian railways.

This young cycling enthusiast is now with unique cycling CLUB, Athi’s Bicycle Club, to promote cycling in city and make ease of accessibility of cycle to the members. They define it as Linear (can used for one way, need not be returned to the same place), Integrated (can be integrated with other mode of transportation) and flexible (no restriction on distance) cycling. To be a member of the club first we have to call 9645511155 (Athirup) and give some basic details for registration and a sum of Rs 500 (can be paid in installments). The best part of this type of club is one need not worry about maintaining a cycle (done regularly by a team Identified for it).


In this club, after getting membership what one need to do is go to the nearest CYCLE Rack, select a cycle of your choice, and SMS the lock ID of this bicycle. In reply, you will get the 3 digit code to open the lock. Next when you reach your destination rack you will get a locking code. And you can enjoy cycling in between for just Rs 2/hr. All this transaction of the code is monitored by a server and a custom made software. ALL the payments are done in to a box placed near the Rack.

Similar CLUBs are working in other countries with its transaction monitored with credit card and other gadgets. Athi has done the modifications required for the adaptation to our conditions. When talking about the difference he talks about “Government policies (dedicated lane), road conditions, and climate. More than anything else approach of the people itself is different”. About challenges he said “convincing people here itself a bigger challenge than financial one. People here are biased with prestige, laziness and have many misconceptions (safety and fitness)”. He has bought all the cycles single-handedly. Cycling in the city is safer and faster mode of transport he says after doing the analysis with his cycle-computer.

He says “abounding the other mode of transportation is not wise and practical but Integrating cycling with it would be a better solution of the existing challenge. Cycling should be an attitude in life style”.

Feel the environment like “mother nature” you will try to hurt less as possible. Though not hurting is impossible. Come and join hands to relish the cycling experience and make it a part of our daily life.