am just getting used to traveling by the Chennai metro rails. Or any metro
rails for that matter.
shifted our house a week ago close to Mambalam and I have learnt that the
easiest and fastest way to commute to office is by the train. By which other
mode of transport can you cover 10 kms in less than 15 minutes, in Chennai?
there were no traffic signals. No early morning bargaining on auto fares. A
first class season ticket would cost me a meagre Rs. 320 and I am good to go
for a whole month.
I was sulking this morning. It was a morning to get cosy after the heavy
showers. I overslept.
was late for work.
I de-trained at the Egmore station, cursing the rains, which had turned the
platforms into a dingy, stinking mess – I saw a fellow-passenger.
blind man who with the help of his long cane, kept touching the platform every
now and then, was trying to figure out whether the next step was safe. I was
soon, I was following him.
wanted to help.
typical of the educated, tech-savvy, value conscious, urban adult I was, I
wanted to make sure he deserved my time and attention.
waited to ensure that he was blind indeed.
cane went on tapping it’s way into a filthy dustbin and then came out, as if
revolted by the stench.
must definitely be blind then’.
wanted to help.
then, a website tells me that the train I came in, has the capacity to carry
1580 passengers at a time. So, why me?
I was lost deep in thoughts, I saw a good Samaritan help the blind man go up
the stairs. The steep and narrow staircases are a daily nightmare to me in
spite of having a corrected 6 by 6 vision, thanks to my spectacles! However,
the good Samaritan seemed to be in a hurry and left the man half way through.
Meanwhile, the daily conflict between passengers trying to go up and down the
stairs was reaching its climax. People kept pushing or pulling each other as
they held on to their larger-than-life luggage.
struggled to keep up.
blind man had reached the top of the stairs and climbed on to the bridge, which
connected all the platforms. He continued at a slow pace, tapping away with his
cane. Farther down stood another blind man, begging for his daily alms.
Someone, I was used to seeing and ignoring every day.
first blind man was walking right into the latter one, who seemed completely
unaware of the imminent danger. I thought they may collide. So did everyone
else, yet they just walked by.
wanted to help.
then the two men somehow knew. They gave a cry of acknowledgment to each other
and the first one stepped to the side. And continued his way ahead.
could be a spectator no more. I went ahead and held the man by his shoulder.
And tried to show him the way. He immediately stopped tapping his stick,
trusting me – a complete stranger, to lead.
asked him where he was headed to.
Salai. How about you?’
kept pressing his shoulder and mumbling to turn left, right, walk straight and
he followed like an obedient student. Suddenly, he offered me his palm and
you hold my hand instead?’
feminist in me was awakened. Why would he want to hold my hand? Does he want to
feel the softness of my palm and derive some sort of sexual pleasure (is there
any?) from it? Or is he part of some gang which kidnaps, rapes or kills
vulnerable girls like me? Will he drag me into a black mini-van, abduct me and
turn me into a blind beggar myself?
shrugged at the thought of it. Yet, I reluctantly offered him my hand.
he held on, I noticed that his hands were weak. That hold to him was only an
assurance that I would not let him fall. It told him when to stop and when to
slow down. It told him that I wouldn’t just abandon him half way, but would get
him to where he wanted to go.
do I leave you?’
take me to the bus stop just outside the station. The bus numbers are 27D and
guided him out of the station, as amused onlookers stared at us – the unusual
'21A' bus was just pulling out of the bus stop. I desperately waved trying to
tell them that a blind man wanted to board the bus. The driver smirked and sped
waited with him, hand-in-hand, until the next bus came in. People swarmed
around the doors, to be the first ones to board and alight. We were lost in the
chaos. I somehow managed to let him get on to the bus and then let go. He was
lost into the crowd of passengers.
to be precise. Today, 5 years, 2 months and 19 days later, I have come home
after having quit my fourth job. I get to relax over the weekend to prepare
myself to join a fifth firm. This would be the third change in my career - from
banking & finance to advertising, now to marketing.
do I feel?
mom was a nurse. She joined as one. Worked for over 30 years and quit as one.
nurses can't shift their careers. That is what they have learnt. Injections and
anti-biotics. How different can it be!
I am different. After all, I am an MBA graduate. I get to choose.
Pathetic attempts to justify myself. Not working.
shift from banking to advertising was easy. It was a welcome change. In
advertising, I did not have to bear the grunt of trying to sell a loan to
someone who absolutely could not afford it, just so that I could meet my sales
6 months later, I did not have to call that same 'someone' and demand to pay
EMIs and threaten them with dire consequences, this time to meet my recovery
my hopes of meeting stars, my notion that daily work meant glitz, glamour,
sheer fun and partying, went down the drains within the very first week. What
awaited instead, were tons of survey questionnaires waiting to be administered
to unfriendly, unwelcoming people on streets; collating, understanding and
tabulating data; figuring out what those numbers meant; drawing innumerous
pie-charts and deriving conclusions that gave solutions to address the business
problem that was raised. That was just one part of the story.
angry clients who would not flicker an eyelid as they said "Get out
Sir!" (to the extent I began believing that I did look like a guy);
arguing with 'efficient' marketing teams who started conversations only with
'Our CEO expects to see it now', 'Our VP has to use it in the presentation
tomorrow morning'; managing 'angrier' creative teams who were already sitting
on endless 'pathetic' briefs and now despised me for being an inefficient
servicing kid who was not even able to negotiate for some more time, so that
they could come up with an award winning idea - was the other part of the
RGBs. TRPs. TGs. GSMs. Jpegs. PDFs.
I loved advertising. Despite all its madness, I loved my job.
now I realize I am ready for a change. Yet again.
do not know what the future has in store for me. Whatever it is, I am willing
to go where life chooses to take me.