The Sea beckons – 7 – Phone chat

[ Velan a psychiatric patient meets an educated employed slum girl at the beach. He at the same time develops camaraderie with a female blogger]

Velan forgot about the slum dweller Mercy when he was blogging actively. He was intrigued and drawn to the blogger Deepa. Yet at the back of his mind Mercy always remained. He smiled as he thought idly that where would the world be without Mercy. He intended to call her but stopped short each time. They had willingly exchanged phone numbers so she wouldn’t mind his calling screamed his brain. Yet another part of him worried that she approached him out of sympathy and now if he called her she might get annoyed and brush him off.

He fidgeted with his mobile as he sat before his laptop in his room. Then finally gathering his courage he called her.

She greeted him warmly and said, “I had expected your call way back. What happened were you busy?”

“Me busy? That would be the day. If only I am as busy as the next person I would have no worries,” Velan replied.

“Don’t worry you’ll get there. How is the restaurant work going?”

“It is about to be completed. A week tops. Enough of me, what about you?”

“Me the same routine, work, home, work and fighting with my parents and brother. He doesn’t want to move out from the slums. He is used to being here. So we are not likely to move anytime soon.”

Velan stood up from the chair he was sitting in before the laptop. He was tense and nervous. He had already ran out of ideas, he couldn’t fathom how to keep the conversation going. Fortunately for him Mercy carried on the conversation unmindful of the pause.

She asked, “How do you spend time? You must be busy full time with the restaurant.”

“I do little, It is my brother who does all the work. My work shall start once the restaurant starts. I will be managing the whole show all the time. For now I am busy with  my blog,” said Velan.

“Oh, you blog. How nice of you. What do you blog about?”

“Many things but mostly poetry.”

“A poet. I should have guessed from the way you were sitting all alone in the beach. Your brother must love you so much to take care of you and set up a restaurant for you.”

“Oh, we fight a lot. Sometimes it gets near to being physical. But he takes care of me. Especially when I lose… my mind literally. I told you about my psychiatric condition, didn’t I? But I hate his guts.”

“I understand full well. Elder brothers can be tiring when they get all bossy and overprotective of you. My brother is also like that.”

“What does your brother do?”

“He is a fisherman.”

“Does he have a boat?”

“If that is the case we wouldn’t be in the slums. He works for a boat owner.”

“Can he take me in the boat to the sea.”

“Ha, ha, ha…” Mercy laughed heavily at this and added, “Of course I will ask him. You fix the time and place.”

“How about this Sunday at evening. For I wake at noon and mornings are not possible for  me.”

“Yes, it is a date. Err… by date I didn’t mean a Date, Date. Okay whatever Sunday it is then. If you wake at noon how will you manage the restaurant?”

“I am trying to wake up early.”

“Okay, my mom is calling. Keep calling whenever free. Don’t be a stranger.”

Velan after ending the call felt like he was on cloud nine. He was in no mood to sit before the laptop. He instead lied down on his cot and daydreamed about himself and Mercy.

The Sea Beckons 8

Witness of change – 1

Born in 1982 I belong to the 80’s generation. We have seen breathtaking transformations in our life and lifestyle. We all have forgotten how the good old days used to be. We have become accustomed to the new innovations made possible by new technologies. Being from Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India I recount the transformation from my eyes and how it hit me.

Our generation crowded on the playgrounds or streets with cricket bats instead of sitting before the television. For there wasn’t much on television. There was only the one channel Doordarshan and they telecasted boring national programs. We used to gather to witness the start of broadcasting after being shut down for the day. We all loved the logo with the caption Sathyam. Shivam, Sundaram. Every Friday there would be the telecast of new Tamil film songs titled ‘Oliyum Oliyum.’ Almost everyone watched this with avid interest. There would be Sunday morning ‘Heman’ cartoons, Ramayana, Maha Bharatha. There would be Tamil movies on Sunday evenings and the streets would be devoid of traffic as people would be watching the movies. Chitrahar, Rangoli, Ek se badkar ek, Surabhi, Tehkikat are some of the popular programs. On sunday afternoons they telecasted regional feature films. I still remember seeing Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Ankur as a kid. There was also a telecast of a japanese series Oshin I think.

We went to schools in cycle rickshaws pedalled by the hard working rickshaw uncles. I even remember a horse cart bringing children to schools. Now it is auto rickshaws all around. There used to be several bullock carts traversing the narrow lanes of our hometown. Now we can glimpse them rarely for they have been replaced by tempos and trucks.

Cable came to our town may be when I was in 7th grade but it came to my house probably when I was in 8th grade. An uncle of mine got in to the cable business and only then did my Dad allow cable TV in the house. It was only one channel at the time, the Sun TV, those were the days Pepsi Uma was a craze. Now there are innumerable channels streamed from Dishes fitted in our houses.

My first monochrome PC came to my house when I was in fifth grade. I went to a special course to learn DOS, WordStar, dBase and FoxPro.

Internet came at the fag end of my school days or beginning of my college days in my hometown. There were net parlours mushrooming everywhere. The speeds were abhorrent. At first it was only Yahoo and the mail. Then came google and true to the hype  the internet has shook the world and changed the way we live in unimaginable ways. The days of sneakily watching porn with friends in net cafes are not memories I am proud of.

When I was in the final year of my college around 2003 there were only two guys in our college who had very clunky, heavy mobiles. Then as we exited college and were on our job search in the metro, Chennai, almost all of us job seekers had a mobile. I remember my first cheap Trium mobile. It helped in the job search and to be in touch with home from the metro. Now we can’t imagine a world without mobile. How to meet, how to coordinate, oh, we would be lost without our mobiles. Those days incoming will also cost you and the woes of roaming costs. Far later Reliance came with a big push giving away handsets for one rupee. Oh, the scams, the use and throw mobiles and what not. Now mobiles have transformed our lives.

The dot com bubble burst much later yet the net giants Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc prodded on delivering almost all our goods to our doorsteps. It was years later when I was in my second job did I go on a shopping spree on the net. The era of social media burst open with Facebook, Twitter and later WhatsApp. Yet I didn’t get in to the bandwagon. Even today I don’t use them much though I have both Facebook and WhatsApp accounts.

It was around that time on the gentle suggestion of my brother I explored the blogging world. After some time I left it idle and went to watching movies streaming on Netflix and Prime Videos. I started reading ebook novels collected from the net. I didn’t touch the blog for well over a year. Now I am not blogging with a vengeance but with a sense of the limited time had here on this planet. I want to do something fruitful, productive and right before the flame is extinguished.