I miss the road


It is almost eighty days since I last went to my workplace. As I sit before my laptop on my dining table, logged on to Google Meet, I start feeling nostalgic.

Last 5 years, I had been commuting every weekday from Delhi to Gurgaon for work. This commute easily consumed 3-5 hours of my day. I would crib about this to all and sundry.

Initially, I tried using the Metro for my commute. But, standing in a queue at the station before boarding and then in the crowded train and finally haggling with auto-rickshaw-wallahs every day would suck the juice out of me. So, I switched to my car despite the pollution concerns in Delhi. Some days it would take me 2 hours one side, and my calf muscles would hurt after having driven in first gear for most of the journey.

Almost an year ago, I moved to Shuttl. I could book a seat on an AC bus for my ride. My travel time did not reduce but everyday exertion did. The best thing about using Shuttl was that it allowed me to slip into my own private zone.

I would reach my pickup point everyday at a fixed time. The bus driver Bhagwan, had started recognizing me. He would stop the bus and open the automatic bus doors and welcome me aboard with a smile. I would press the chirp button on my app and walk towards my more or less fixed window seat.

Once seated, I would put on my headset and listen to podcast related to daily news, business or spirituality. In the evenings, on my way back, I would prefer listening to audio books. I managed to listen to more than 10 audio books in last one year. One was The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection, which was almost 70 hours long and took me more than 2 months to complete.

On many days, I would doze off listening to these stories. At the start of my journey when I would be awake, a murder would occur and all suspects would be introduced one by one. And then I would be sleeping during the entire investigation by Holmes and Watson. I would wake up 10 minutes before my drop point and manage to listen the final revelation – the name of the murderer. That was enough for me, mystery solved, time to move to another story.

I would see regular faces on the bus everyday. Some would acknowledge my presence with a smile. It was a nice small community of fellow travelers. I got to know some through the journeys and became good friends. Sometimes, I would overhear people talking loudly on their phone and get a peak into their lives outside the bus. I was even witness to love blossoming between two fellow commuters. Like many such stories, it reached a crescendo and then withered away.

But today, I am missing my bus seat and the hustle-bustle of the traffic. The one and a half hour I had to myself in the morning helped me recharge for the full day’s work. And the two hours in the evening, helped me forget about the day, slipping into my dreams. What I miss most is the human connection, I felt with fellow travelers and strangers on the road.

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That wonderful pen


I have always been very fond of pens. But, my taste and sensibilities have changed over the years. I have been in love with ball point pens, gel pens, roller ball pens, pilot pens and use & throw pens at various stages of my life. When any of my relatives asked my choice for a gift, I would invariably ask for a pen.

When I prepared for my engineering entrance exam, I would use cheap use & throw pens and would practice solving problems on the blank side of used papers. My father would bring loads of these waste papers from office. I would judge my preparation for the exam by looking at the number of used pens and the stacks of paper I had filled.

Using fountain pen was mandatory in our school. At that time, I would crave for ball point pens as they would help me write faster in exams. Fountain pens leaked a lot creating blue spots on my fingers and sometimes on my clothes.

But, ever since I became a salaried professional, I have started writing with fountain pens. I yearn for that old world charm of writing mindfully on a piece of paper in this age of touchscreen.

About 25 years ago, my father had taken me to the best stationery shop of the small town that we lived in. My heart had gone out to a fountain pen priced at Rupees 120. But, my father bought me a much cheaper pen as the pen was not affordable and I might have ruined it quickly.

The image of that pen is still imprinted on my mind. I have tried to look for it but have been unable to find it.

Today, I bought a nice German pen priced at Rupees 2,700 for myself. As I write this piece in my notebook with the ultra smooth German pen, my heart pines for that wonderful pen from my childhood.

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In love with the process of writing


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A needull original.

It is one of those days when you are in a strangely good mood in the morning. And you feel the itch to write.

I have recently started listening to “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles on Audible during my office commutes. Amor worked in the investment profession for 20 years before taking to full time writing. This is his second novel. As you keep getting older, you start re-calibrating your dreams. You try to find examples of people who have done it who were in a similar or worse situation than you. It gives you hope. And Amor gives me hope that someday I will be able to write.

I love the entire experience of writing. I like everything about it. The solitude, the rigid chair and desk, the smell of fresh ink on paper and the ink flowing from your fountain pen.

It is pure magic. You are able to communicate your most abstruse thoughts to others by etching out symbols on paper. And your thoughts might survive and be read and understood by someone thousands of years later.

Such a feeling of wonder!