I have seen the road of grime and grease But now I stand between the crisscross of the trees; The air is crisp; the birds seem at ease, And, for the time being, I, too, find my peace. Copyright © 2023 RAMU DAS
At 2 in the morning on the 28th of December last year, I had the urge to vomit. I was not sure if it was a dream or a reality. I was feeling uneasy. My throat was dry and there was some amount of phlegm in my mouth that I wanted to get rid of. I had no sooner started spitting than I realized that I was still in the bed. Being lazy and needing more sleep, I was nasty enough to swallow the phlegm, but not nasty enough to throw it on the bed.
The next night at around 3 o’clock, I woke up because of the touch of some wet substance on my face and neck. Some fluid was dripping rapidly from my nose. I thought when I was asleep I had banged my nose against my bed or the wall, and, as a result, the nose was bleeding. “I am bleeding from the nose,” I told my wife, who was sleeping beside me. There was no response. “Bleeding from the nose… bleeding from the nose,” I repeated a few times, and when my wife heard the word ‘bleeding’, she sprang up from the bed and switched on the light, only to see that I had some water around my mustache and neck, which meant I had a runny nose.
The next day my body’s temperature was on the higher side (I was hot!). It kept increasing, and I had a headache. On the 31st of December, the headache was severe. I was down with fever, cold, and body pain.
I have read that fever is a good thing, but fever, when accompanied by cold and body pain, becomes a matter of concern because it could be what I thought it was, but being fully vaccinated, I hoped it was not what I thought it was. Yet to be sure, I decided I go for the Covid (also known as the Wuhan virus or the China virus) test.
The next day, which was a new year (1st Jan. 2022), I was feeling much better, so I thought I would not do the test and save the money. However, because of the insistence (or should I say persistence) of my family, I did it anyway. The report came in some hours; and it turned all my positive energy negative because I was Covid-19 positive.
I tried, upon the suggestion of some family members and friends, some Ayurvedic concoctions and drank plenty of water. I got a strip of FabiFlu, though I think I could have done without it, which contains Favipiravir that is said to stop the growth of the virus.
Second January went well. Fever, headache, cold were all gone. However, on the third of January, the pangs in the joints of the hands and legs were too much to bear. If someone had wanted my hands from the elbow and my legs from the knee, I would have just given them away. There was some pain in the calf muscles as well. The next day went in a similar fashion. But all the pain had vanished after that day.
On the sixth of January, I had strangely lost my sense of smell and taste. Losing smell and taste should have happened at the beginning of the problem with Covid-19; those were among the few symptoms leading to Covid-19. But whatever it was, I had to live with it. In two days, I got back my sense of smell and taste.
Covid-19 makes the body weak, but by eating well and drinking juices and plenty of water, I have gained back my energy. At this moment, I may not be as strong and healthy as I was before getting infected by the Wuhan virus, but in a few days’ time, I hope to be. The Covid-19 active cases in Mumbai, where I live, and elsewhere in India and the world, are burgeoning and destabilising the world, which was just recovering from the earlier blows. Staying home, if it is not necessary to go out and mix with people, is one way by which one can reduce the chances of coming in Covid-19’s way. However, ‘staying home’ and ‘not mixing with people’ is easier said than done. As soon as one variant of the deadly virus is gone, or reduces its effect, another emerges. This will go on, I suppose. But, we will find a way, as we have always found a way, to overcome all obstacles and to live.
Copyright © 2022 RAMU DAS
We are now at the beginning of a new year. Every new year brings a fresh level of energy and new confidence. We are mostly progressive thinkers and make every attempt to improve our lives.
A new year is a reason people suddenly become so full of life, so confident, so ambitious, and find themselves swayed by the age-old tradition of keeping new year’s resolutions. Although at some point new year’s resolutions may seem futile for most people, those who can stick to their resolutions deserve full praise.
I, for one, would let the first few days of the new year pass just trying to figure out how things need to be done. There does not seem to be an urgency, thus I am always postponing doing what I intend to do because there is still a tomorrow, and the tomorrow, I always hope, would be brighter, more in keeping with my health and mood.
If that tomorrow is not the first of January, so what? It can be the first of February, right? Or, perhaps, if February is not to your liking, the tomorrow that you had been waiting for can start from your coming birthday. Diwali also seems to be a fine day to be considered your tomorrow.
The truth, I have realized, is that, if you hesitate to do it now, you might hesitate to do it forever. Momentum brings us closer to our goal. The tomorrow that we have been waiting for is today. I am taking the actions that I have to, and I have you do as well.
Wish you a happy new year.
Happiness is a very subjective feeling, and while some people can be happy after accomplishing something that, to them, means a great deal, others can find the reason for happiness in something that, to many, seem very trivial. I found one such reason for happiness today.
I had to move out of the office real quick to ensure that I could board the local train and commute to my destination. I seem to have drunk plenty of water in the evening today (making up for lost time) and my bladder was almost full, while the water bottle was empty.
Time was running out, and I had to make a choice between going to the cafeteria and filling the water bottle from the water purifier or going to the washroom to empty the bladder. One part of my brain suggested that it was more important for me to have a pee to feel comfortable during the commute; I won’t have the urge to drink water in the one-and-half hours’ journey from office to home, and upon reaching home I could restock the bladder. The other part of the brain suggested that nothing should be left to chance; many things can happen when one commutes, for instance, someone might suddenly throw up upon you, or you might just touch something greasy and dirty the hands and need a small splashing of water, or some people might fight, scream and shout, and, as a result, someone or the other would become extremely thirsty. Weighing the importance of both, I made a quick decision which was to fill the water bottle.
I went to the railway station, got on the train, took a novel out of the bag, and began reading, turning to the page I last read in the morning. Opposite to me sat a young man holding his head in his hands. He started rubbing his head and his eyes as one does when one suffers from headaches.
“Dada (brother),” he said to me, “Do you have water?” I took the bottle out of the side pocket of my bag. “Here,” I said, looking at him and handing the bottle.
His eyes were bloodshot, which I thought was a result of too much work, too much stress, too much looking at the laptop, all of which have become a part of a person’s life in today’s professional world.
I am happy that my decision to go to the cafeteria and fill the water bottle, instead of not filling it and going to the washroom, yielded some fruitful results.
Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS
There are two ways you can choose to travel in Mumbai local trains at present (that is, in this pandemic which, I hope, is ending soon): The ethical way and the unethical way. The ethical way is to follow the protocol that the government of Maharashtra has laid down, and the unethical way is to do the opposite.
Let’s look at the ethical way: You need to take both the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. After the second dose, allow 14 days to pass. Thereafter, you can get the monthly pass either through an offline or online method. As per the government’s order, one cannot buy a daily ticket, and has to get only the monthly pass.
How to Apply for Mumbai Local Train Pass Online
Follow the following steps to get your Mumbai local train monthly pass online:
- Visit epassmsdma.mahait.org
- From the right-hand side, click on the option called Universal Pass For Double Vaccinated Citizens.
- Enter your mobile number, which should be the same that was used while registering for the Covid vaccine, and click on Send OTP
- Enter the OTP that you have received on your phone
- You can now have a look at the beneficiary details. Under the option called ‘Action’ click on ‘Generate Pass’
- Download a copy of the Universal Pass or just take a screenshot
- Visit a railway station near you in the Harbour, Central or Western Line, and go to the ticket counter. Show the Universal Pass on your phone and the hard copy of a government approved photo ID. Pay and get your monthly train pass.
How to get Mumbai Local Train Pass Offline
The government has arranged for various help desks at the railway stations in Harbour, Central and Western Lines. Follow the following steps to get your monthly train pass offline.
- Get a coloured print copy of your Covid vaccine certificate and a government issued ID card like the Aadhar card
- Carry the original copy of your Aadhar and the vaccine certificate
- Go to the railway station and approach the officials at the help desk
- Get your documents verified and coloured copies stamped from the officials
- Go to the ticket counter, show the stamped certificate, pay and get your monthly pass.
The online process is simple and saves you time and money. The website loads fast and the OTP comes within seconds. But if you are not comfortable with the online process, you can try the other process.
Now, let’s discuss the unethical way of travelling in the Mumbai local trains at present. When I had gone to the station to get my pass, ahead of me in the queue was a man who had pronounced the name of a certain station and had asked for a ticket. He got the ticket, although the government’s protocol had stated that only monthly passes were to be issued. Also, whether the person had taken both the doses of the vaccine was not clear. But who was to be blamed there, the person who had asked for the ticket or the person at the counter who had given the ticket? Or perhaps both were right in what they were doing, one had to go somewhere, and the other understood the pain of the commuters who were deprived of the train service for so long.
Another way to execute the unethical practice of travelling in the Mumbai local trains is to travel without a ticket, which some of my colleagues have resorted to. They are not afraid anymore of the consequences of getting caught; at the most they will pay a fine of a certain amount. They are not yet aware that they can avail tickets from the ticket counter, so, why should they bother going to the railway station and asking for something that’s going to be denied? I had thought in a similar line till I went to the station for getting the monthly pass.
Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS
Sometimes things go awry, but we can do very little about the things that are not in our hands. And that’s what one can say about the fate of the fight between two boxers I like: Manny Pacquiao (PacMan) and Errol Spence. Having suffered from a retina tear in his left eye, Errol Spence had no option but to withdraw from the highly anticipated match; and that Errol had done on the basis of the doctors’ recommendation.
I strongly believe if the boxing match between PacMan and Errol Spence could happen, it would have become the Fight of the Year. Now, the Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugas, who is a great boxer, too, will step in and fight PacMan on the 21st of August.
Errol had a successfully eye surgery, and is hoping to be back soon to fight the winner of the PacMan and Yordenis fight. Here is what he had to say through Instagram:
Manny has not shown any hard feelings but rather wished Spence a speedy recovery, which is what good sportspeople do. Hope Errol recovers fast.
Who is the insider, and who is the outsider? Why do you always seem so hyper? What is the hatred for? The hatred that excites you to wage war. Why, when a brown man you see, You simply tag him a Bangladeshi? But even if one were a Bangladeshi, is being one so bad? Are they some poison? Are they the world's scum? Touching whom you fear you can become one? Or is it your arrogance that makes you so mean, so mad? ‘Bangladeshi immigrants,’ you say, Burn their houses, and drive them away, Away from the plains and from the hills. Only then your heart's desire fulfills. You call them outsider, And take pride in being the insider But where did you come from? The land where you freely roam, Existed much before you did. You, too, are an outsider indeed. Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS
From the window of my flat I see some children playing cricket in the alleyway. It starts raining, but they don’t care. The game goes on. “Howzat!” the bowler screams. But there is no umpire, so the fielders double up as umpire, and “That’s out! That’s out!” they shout. The batsman utters some obscenity which surely doesn’t suit his age, and throws the bat in the air in exasperation.
These children enjoy their game. That’s life for them right now. And they are carefree. I, too, had a life like that when I was their age. There was no worrying about anything in the world. Life was good because there was someone who was providing for everything, there was someone to think about me. Now, however, life is difficult, extremely difficult, because now I have to think about how I am going to pay my EMIs, how I am going to make the credit card payment before the due date, how am I going to pay the rent, the electricity bill, and numerous other bills. I am constantly worried about what challenge the next day will bring.
I wish I were a child again, in the care of my father. My father was the only earning member in the family. He never mouthed a word about all the difficulties he was facing in taking care of the family members. He just did what a father had to do.
It is difficult to be a father, so though you may have had an argument with your father, or for some reason you are not in good terms with your father, it’s time to forgive and mend the relationship. So, this Father’s Day, get some gift for your father; or just write a good Father’s Day message. And, henceforth, take care of your father like the way he took care of you when you were a kid.
While the focus of this post is on how a father takes care of the monetary needs of his family, but the love of a father extends much beyond that, and this love cannot be measured.
To all the fathers in the world, Happy Father’s Day!
Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS
I have been telling myself since the last December that when January of 2019 comes (or when I go to January), I shall not think about what most men and women (I am not sure of other animals) would be thinking. And what would they be thinking? If I am not wrong in my thinking, I think they would be thinking about keeping some New Year’s resolution. Now, I was telling that to myself in December, and I have been reminding myself of that since the last four days, because I know from experience that most, if not all, of the resolutions are going to come to naught. Yet, now, my fingers are itching to write something, and my brain is telling me that that something has to be the New Year’s resolution. Well, then, I, because I am my brain and body, I must oblige.
This year I am going to write a great deal, but most of my writing would be out of public view, unless I wish to share. I will start writing my first book this year. I am not sure in which year I will finish writing it, because completing a book is a long process. But starting it is important. It is going to be a non-fiction work, though at first my intention was to write fiction (which, I suppose, can wait for a later time). I have too many interesting and painful and funny experiences to recount.
I will learn a new language. I wanted to learn two languages this year, but I want to be more realistic this time, and do what is, to the best of my ability, considering the available time and resources, more achievable. Bangla is my mother tongue but it does not seem to be so. This year I actually thought of making it seem so as well. However, there is another language which is known to majority of Indians and which I can speak but cannot write or read, and that would be the language I would focus on this year, because considering my present situation and place, and by looking at the growing mass of people who seem to know and talk a great deal in this language, I am sure I would be in trouble if I don’t go with the flow. Yes, I am talking about Hindi.
I will read at least 35 books (fiction and non-fiction) though my aim is to read 50. If I don’t reach the star, I will land on the moon.
A small device that fits in your pocket, seem to be consuming too much of my time, in fact, I would say, it is governing my life, and I must stop this from happening. Therefore, if you haven’t got what I mean, I am going to be smart and use my smartphone less often (or only when I have to).
I will learn to cook some new dishes.
I like to travel, but, this year, I suppose, I will focus on saving my money, and I would rather find out more about the places that is not too far from my dwelling.
I will match at least 200 movies and documentaries.
That’s all I can think of at this moment, and there are some more resolutions which are somewhat private in nature, which are best kept to oneself.
What are your New Year’s resolution?
Copyright © 2019 RAMU DAS
Ah, the turbulent year is almost dead.
Few days were bad, worse were the rest.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
Don’t come into my life again
For you’d come only to make me cry
Many a gullible man still live, give them a try.
I’m done; known and lived with the pain
And all that for this life is enough
A gentleman has been made rough.
To reach you once again
Never in my wildest dreams shall I try
My eyes are parched, no water
To shed in my eyes do I find
Neither any strength in my fingers to write a letter
Full of world-weary thoughts is my mind.
So, do me a favour, don’t come into my life again
For you’d come only to make me cry.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
The pain is more in the head
Than it is in the gum
Yet the pain in the head
Is a cause of the swollen gum.
Sleep evades tonight
I toss and turn, sigh and moan, but only in vain
For though the bed is all right, I remain in pain.
So, I switch on the light.
I call up my girlfriend and tell her I can’t sleep
And listen carefully to the modulation of her voice
And I long to hear her weep as I weep.
Alas, weeps she not but only makes some saintly noise.
I call up my mom and dad and tell them about my pain
They seem more considerate than my girlfriend
And they pray for the pain to have an immediate end
But the pain is mine own, with which some sympathy I gain.
Every now and then when I am lonely
I become ill, to gain some sympathy mainly.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
The Digital Content Team, of which I am a part, of the company (one of the Tata companies) where I have recently joined, decided to break for lunch at 1:30 in the afternoon. We went to the cafeteria which was clean and well lighted, and full of people (employees). Some members of the team bring their lunch from their homes, while the rest of us have our lunch in the cafeteria and help in increasing its revenue, for which the south India cafeteria manager, who, I assume, is also the owner, is ever happy (as in all trade, the more the buyer, the merrier the trader).
While I was in the queue placing my order for the food and getting the plate in my hand, my team members had already found a place to sit and, having done so, had begun eating. They were surrounded by members of some other teams. At a glance round the table I saw an empty chair and was ready to sit on it, but a lady said, in a very serious manner, that someone from her team was going to come and sit on it. I moved from there and began looking for an empty chair around the tables (three or four tables connected so as to form one line), near my team members. One chair to the corner had not found an occupier yet, and I could have gone and sat there, but the problem was that a man, middle-aged, wearing spectacles (that made him look rather studious) and whose trimmed beard and moustache could tell their own stories (some being young and, therefore, black; some aged and, therefore, white), sat in between my team members and the corner seat. Two more people (a woman and a man) on the opposite side of the table seemed to be with him, having launch together. On the opposite side there was a chair but the presence of someone’s helmet on it was an indication that it was already reserved.
My movement did not go unnoticed. The man who was between my team members and the corner chair said, “Come, please, you sit here, and I will move to the corner.” He moved. I sat on the relinquished chair and it became easier for me to chitchat and have food with my team. Very soon, the man, who offered me his seat, and the two people who were having launch with him, rose from their chairs, picked up their plates to be taken near the wash basin, but no sooner did the man take a step ahead than two workers of the cafeteria hurriedly came and took the man’s plate and carried it to the wash basin (though the man insisted he would do it). I wondered who the man was. After he was gone, I asked one of my team members who the person was. I was told that the person’s name was Avijit Mitra, the CEO and the MD of the company! (And, oh, to think, because of me, while he was lunching, he had to get up and take a different chair!).
I have seen many CEOs but never have I seen a CEO as humble as he. If he wanted he could have had food brought to him in his cabin, he could have had spent as much money as he wanted and eat the most expensive and the most exotic food every day, but there he was, one among the others, taking delight in having the same food. As he talks to people (which I have seen him doing), he talks with a great deal of respect, and his voice is always low (clearly audible though) and sweet. He is a product of the Tata culture, and it shows. Though I wasn’t aware of who he was, but my first encounter with him made me believe that humility can surely make you rich (rich in many senses) and worthy of respect, from one and all.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
I am living in the land of nothingness
To the very bottom I have sunk
Happily have I all the poison drunk
For it came from my sweetheart, my princess.
When loving was convenient how madly she loved me
And such rosy pictures painted that at once made me happy
But, unknown to me, alas, the loving had an expiry date
For now in agony I sigh and curse my damnable fate.
Beware, then, my friends
And be careful of those soft little hands
That once would wipe your tears away
Next in your heart with a dagger make way.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
“Keep your voice down!” a woman in my neighbourhood shouted. She was telling this to some of her family members – husband, son, daughter, or whoever – in her flat.
Once again she cried: “I said lower your voice, stupid!”
But maybe that did not work, for in the next thirty seconds she exclaimed at the top of her voice: “You, I said lower your voice, don’t you understand it, you!”
This went on for a while. The woman’s voice resounded in the whole building. It was nighttime, around 11:30. Most people were quite. Another neighbour was playing some mournful Hindi song in his/her phone. But, because of the woman’s shouting the sound from the phone died down. The only thing that could be heard for a full ten minute was the woman’s voice asking someone to keep that someone’s voice down. But not even a faint sound came from that someone. All one could hear was “lower your voice” or “keep your voice down” from the woman.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
Being disturbed, when peace is what you desire,
Away, then, you run from the city’s maddening fire,
And rest by the gurgling Ganges,
Among the lofty Himalayan ranges!
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
Henceforth, I declare myself to be an agnostic.
Many a people claim to know God, and they say that religion is a medium which brings a person closer to God. I accept with open heart all the morality that religion propagates, which helps one love and respect the other, and so on and so forth. But I reject all the mumbo-jumbo ritualistic affairs of religion and prefer to be pragmatic. And yet I would say nothing against any religion as long as the practitioner and believers of those religions mind their own business and abstain from telling me what according to them is right (because they are trying to do something they themselves have no idea of, which is no doubt a way by which they earn their living). No doubt religion can teach us a great deal, but an individual can be a very good person and do much good for others without the interference of religion, too.
Since I do not possess the knowledge to ascertain the existence of God, I shall, therefore, be my own God (as I have been for quite some time), because I am absolutely certain that I exist and I have the power to shape and direct my life the way I want to shape it and direct it.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
Being late for this or for that occasion had been something I could not help for the last few years. It is not that I did not have the intention to be on time, it is just that somehow I could not make it. People often remarked that my art of lateness was commendable (no doubt, their words were full of sarcasm), and I told them (giving it back in a similar manner) that I had mastered this art with a lot of practice and patience.
No matter how worse things got, I could not abstain from being late. Many a warning had come and many had gone, sometimes the warnings were severe in nature, but I still remained a late comer, a late doer, a late thinker.
The Mexican proverb “How sweet it is to do nothing, and afterwards to rest!” seemed really sweet but impractical in a world I inhabit. Going by the proverb, I would not be worried about being on time at all. But, alas, the world is a busy place which gives nothing for free (no bread, no butter). In this busy world one cannot simply be lazy and defy what one must do.
But, lately, I have become somewhat sensitive, and I can sense that people are not quite happy when I keep them waiting for something or the other and turn up at my own sweet time.
When you are not on time you become unreliable. People would (even as you express your interest to do something) doubt you or dismiss you as though you are a non-entity. Being late only devalues a person’s status, and the best thing one can do is to shrug off this habit and learn to be on time. Here are a few ways which would help you (which I am also following) to be on time:
- Sleep a little early so that you get up a little early (a cliche, no doubt; a helpful one, nevertheless).
- Do not snooze the alarm of your phone every few minutes. Once your hear the sound, wake up and stop it.
- Be smart, that is to say, stop being lazy, which is again to say, if you have to do something, do not think over it for too long, just do it.
- Have some buffer time in hand. You might be an optimist and you might think that you have enough time and you can easily catch up, but it does not happen so easily. You would not even know where or how the ‘enough time’ which you thought you had, had gone, and you would start panicking and get frustrated (and kick your dog). It is always good to have some buffer time (15 to 20 minutes), and you will be a little early, not a little late. If you happen to be too early, have a book handy, and your extra time would become productive.
I hope that you, as much as I, gain by being on time what you and I have lost by being late.
Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS
Among all the resolutions I had made at the starting of this year, one was to travel to as many places as I could. Travel, as you know, expands one’s mental horizon. When you travel, whether you like it or not, you would come across new people and new happenings, which would add to your experience. If you are a writer who has been suffering from writer’s block, travel, do, and see how people throw their stories at you.
My country, India, is vast and I have always had the desire to see all the states of India. If one visits the different parts of India (from the most modern to the remotest), perhaps he/she would not need to see a foreign country, because within India one would come across so many things that would seem foreign. The weather in some parts of our country vary from the weather in the other, when the temperature soars above 35 degree in Mumbai or above 40 degree in Delhi, the temperature at Dras in J&K or at Gurudongmar in Sikkim can be in the minus, and in some other parts the temperature would be moderate. The people in one part speak a different language and have their unique identity and their special cuisines, while the people in the other part display a different lifestyle and set of values.
I do harbour a desire to see some foreign lands too, and that I want to do without any discrimination, which, in other words, means that I really wish to see the underdeveloped as well as the developed and the developing countries of the world. First and foremost, however, comes my own country; once I have covered all of India, perhaps, I can think about visiting some foreign countries.
At the starting of the year I had gone with some of my colleagues to the beach side destination in Maharashtra called Kihim.
In March I intended to go to the North of India, especially to cover the golden triangle. The Golden Triangle, not to be confused with the Golden Temple in Amritsar (Punjab), includes three places in North India, namely, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and the three locations seem to form the shape of a triangle, thus the name ‘triangle’ was given to it. The three locations are a very popular destinations among the foreigners as well as the domestic tourists. Due to some reasons, I had to change my plan and I ended up doing a solo trip to the south of India (covering Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore and Mysore).
Thereafter, I had gone to Guwahati and Barak Valley in Assam, Dimapur in Nagaland (though Kohima was also in the itinerary especially because it happened to be the Hornbill Festival time) where I had spent a considerable amount of time during my childhood.
Last of all, in December, my family and I had gone to the following North Indian destinations: Delhi (the land of great politics and power), Gurugram (Gurgaon) in Haryana (where my younger brother stays), Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand (considered holy sites), Agra (where the Taj Mahal is at), Mathura and Gokul (again two holy sites) in Uttar Pradesh.
I will write about the aforementioned places in greater detail by and by.
If I had more money and if my leave from office could be extended a little more, I would have heartily visited many other places (or revisited some).
Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS
The night is still
Every few minutes the trains roll in
And the silence breaks
All thoughts halt
Then again everything goes quiet
And nothing comes
Between the sadness of my life
And the stillness of the night.
Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS