Thursday, August 23, 2007 3 reflections

Signs of happiness

THE TRAIN CHUGGED OUT OF Dybbølsbro at a rather lethargic pace. I was headed as usual back to Østerport to my studio apartment. After a hectic afternoon looking for the right kind of shoes, I had stopped for Italian pasta before washing it down with Coca Cola. I had shelled out a good amount of money for the total of ten things I had bought during my shopping spree but then, this is Europe. Nothing is cheap. Not even joy. I sat back gazing at the depressing roof tops that seemed more tragic under the cold and foggy Thursday afternoon.
The cabin I was in was dotted with all kinds of co-passengers. There was the well dressed yet tense seeming European gentleman who was busy punching in the keys of his cell phone. A couple of rows behind him sat a glum looking middle aged woman. She must have been quite taken from whatever it was she was reading since she sent out no hints of any expression. I wondered if she was reading only to avoid eye contact with strangers. In front of me sat a tired couple with an infant in the man’s arms. The infant looked as if it had been crying a lot with puffed up red cheeks and an inquisitive look. I smiled back at it and winked but it ignored my reaction and looked at its tiny toes instead with equal curiosity. A few more people sat peppered over other random spots either looking out the window in silent reflection or looking at each other in silent observation. So much to say but no words left anymore, it seemed.
As the train arrived at Nørreport station, a young couple walked in and sat in the row right opposite mine gesturing at each other with their hands. She was saying something interesting as he responded back with equal energy using his forefinger and palms. She would laugh with child-like innocence by covering her mouth as he would shake his head trying to convince her that he was right. Within a few moments their sign language had enveloped our cabin of silence. It was clear that everyone in that cabin was quite taken to this couple who seemed so much in love with each other. He even kissed her once as she continued giggling and enjoying his company. A few moments later she pulled out what looked like a sonogram report. With unbridled enthusiasm they both peered at the square-shaped photograph of what was presumably their first child. Each one in the cabin now focused on the couple and their bubble of exploding joy that seemed to exist without a care for the meaningless seeming world that surrounded it. The onlookers seemed envious but then they also seemed helpless. They continued waiting patiently for their stop as I got up to get down at mine.
At Østerport the train whizzed past me and I could still see the mute couple laughing and sharing their world of bliss. How odd, I thought, that in a few moments of silence they had shared more than anyone in that cabin ever could with spoken words. I walked out of the station wishing them the best of luck.
Love knows no language. Hate knows only one.
Sunday, August 19, 2007 2 reflections

The paths we take

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT empty roads that has always fascinated me. The view they create for the one who treads on them sometimes translates into so much more. Their triangular sloping face that seems to disappear into blissful nothingness. The majestically well aligned pathway that welcomes the traveler who has made a choice. I think for most people roads are about destinations – but the way I see it, they are about the journeys themselves. The reason I wanted to pen this feeling of mine was two fold. One, I wanted to rediscover that void in me that has been waiting for a complimentary feel of nothing to pass by it. Sometimes there is nothing more complete than a road that seems to have no travelers. And two, I have now actually started living in a place where such roads exist. In a world that is filled with the lack of space and patience, it is quite rare to find alleys that are both welcoming and not pretentious.

That said, I would like to document three such path ways that caught my attention today. I was on my walk towards a popular tourist spot in Copenhagen called ‘The Little Mermaid’. The fact that this place is always packed by eager tourists waiting to be snapped next to the statue of a nude mermaid is beyond logic. Nonetheless, I too decided to do my bit in being part of what is almost tradition in this city. Although I did not manage to get too close to the mermaid’s statue (since I somehow lost context of it and also there were so many click-happy cameras that I suddenly lost interest as well) I did manage to capture some serene pathways and alleys that reminded me of the difference between being alone and being lonely.

The first one here is a small shortcut that connects me from my apartment to Østerport station where I get my train to work each day. There is always the main road with its bustling action and whistling cyclists, but there is something about this rather quiet alley that seems to prepare me for the day. I have walked through it during a strong sun and an equally strong rainfall and both times – I felt cared for. The random graffiti that adorns the sides of this otherwise clean path seems to be symbolizing the two amazingly well hidden sides of this city – the submissive and the rebellion.

Second on my list is this pathway that leads to the ‘The Little Mermaid’ on Østerbrogade. Laced with overwhelmingly well aligned trees that seem to offer an ear to the silent soul and dotted with remarkably peaceful park benches, this path is definitely one for the lazy afternoon or the tired evening. The beauty this path oozes with can be seen only when the sun is filtering in through the friendly branches that look down upon many a soul that might pass it by. I almost made myself a promise today that I will visit this path each weekend and walk all the way till the end of the street just to be graced with the whistling shadows the trees so generously offer. I hope I am able to keep that word and contribute to the several hundreds of feet that adorn this pathway each passing day.

The final path I wish to share here is this one within the park itself. East to the ‘The Little Mermaid’ is this gravely road that bends and dances its way all over the green fabric that surrounds it. It cuts through several small man made ponds where mischievous ducks flap water on their peers as keen photographers try to capture the action in their lenses. This one too, like the other two, seems to offer more than just a shaded walkthrough.

I guess one has to be alone on such paths in life, to be able to relate with the lonely ones. Yes – the difference becomes increasingly clear in such silences that speak louder than words.

Here is to more such pathways that inspire just by existing. Alas! If only everything was this noble.


Monday, August 13, 2007 0 reflections

Endless Days

Endless Days
© 2007 / a short fiction by ShaKri

THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET ECHOED in his serene mind. The local Fate Pundit who would sit shrinking his aching lungs had proclaimed into the pimpled teen-ridden face of what was to come. Days of grandeur and nights of galore – a pristine combination of everything that was good and holy, would be his to command. His path to glory would find him soon, Fate Pundit declared while paving a path quite unfamiliar to the young lad. Strewn with honey-bathed concubines and damsels of beauty immaculate, Fate Pundit had continued, will be the road on which the lad’s sight would settle. No height too high, no peak too weak, the old bag went on while coughing his fluids into a shapeless pan, adding to the colorful tones of a rainbow that formed on the pimpled terrain.

The screaming neighbor’s relentless canine broke what was supposed to be a never-ending journey strung together with all sorts of pleasantries. And just like that, he knew it was day break.

His limbs found life as they worked in harmony to get him ready for the day. The words of Fate Pundit continued to echo inside him long after the aging spirit’s silhouette had vanished in a whirlpool of mixed emotions. Even as he splashed the ice cold water onto his warm face, the missing pimples reminded him of a timeline that had brought him so far. He looked at himself in the mercury framed on the wall and no longer wondered.

He no longer wandered.

Accompanied with a plethora of blessings he left his flaky-walled edifice. Stuck in between two other sorry looking peers, was this miserable excuse for a dwelling that he had acquired several moons ago. Soaked in disrepair and seeped in noises, it boasted of quite a diverse population. Leaking aqua-ducts and dying fire lights had done little to hinder the silk route that had been handed to him. A rare beam of overwhelming confidence graced his being as he took one well placed step after another. The smile that embraced and cradled his soul was a mere reflection of what he had known all along. He knew – he just knew – that nothing would stop from finding that nest of success he had worked so hard to achieve. For a lad barely out of his sexually curious years, he sure was going to find more reasons to make his kin proud. Those velvet-glazed nights of tears and fears that originated from his roots were now going to be cared for. The job at hand would find success as would everything else it was connected to.

He waited patiently at the usual bus stop with his briefcase. Polished with the best available shoe companion and adorned with the finest double-breasted suit on the market, he was quite the image of a perfect gentleman. His looks were what would bring him bliss, he was certain. It was all about making an impression, he was told.

Like a necklace sown together with different flowers, stood with him a flock from various corners. Eager beavers like him, working class folk with chatter for the road, whiny mothers with whinier children reluctant to be school-bound, necking couples who probably had a disorganized date ahead of them, studious young blood that buried its faces in Calculus and Discrete Mathematics as it seemed convinced it was all about what the pages proclaimed.

Yes. He saw them and all and smiled to himself at how similar they all looked. People with a purpose. People with a destination.

The state run public transport squeaked to a lazy halt during the next five minutes. The wanderers with a goal huddled behind one another in the hope of bagging a seat. He was seventh in line, he calculated, and smiled again – seven was his lucky number. He had arrived in the city on the seventh day of the seventh month of the twenty seventh year of his life. He had acquired a residence on the seventh floor that overlooked the seventh main road. He had seven pairs of underwear and the locker combination for his briefcase was 777. The day was the seventh of July and the time in his watch said 7:16AM.

Yes – this was definitely the day he had been waiting for. His attempts at impressions and attentions would finally find the much coveted reward that was so rightfully his. He had to be at the interviewer’s beeline at eight, so he had plenty of time.

Once the doors hissed their way open the curious line began it’s ascend. One after another, they shelled out currency and seated themselves in places they found by instinct. He let the elderly lady in front of him choose her seat and he settled down next to her. Her aging skin had reminded him of Fate Pundit and hence his decision to spend some time with the woman.

They exchanged quick smiles of courtesy and the bus moved on. Whistling past a yawning city it made its way to the City Center. He adjusted his silk tie that had a well-checkered design and propped his hair right once again.

‘Big day?’ asked the woman next to him noticing his care for the looks.

‘Yes. The biggest, in fact,’ he responded as the bus made its second stop.

More people, more reading, more chatting, more smiling, more laughing and definitely more goals. He continued to observe the ant hill of activity that was taking place on the ride. Self-absorbed and monotonous individuals with a reason to find the end of the day. They knew what they were up for. They were aware of what their day would look like. They were intensely at work with what they thought would bring them joy. Yes. They knew it all.

What they did not know, however, was what was going on with one of their co-passengers. A neatly dressed man ready for an interview of a lifetime. An eight o’ clock appointment that could not be missed. A year long preparation that would find fruit on this auspicious day. A world of endless beginnings would find only one common fate. What they were clueless about was the seven kilograms of the finest explosives that slept peacefully inside the case that was locked with a key marked seven-seven-seven. What they did not realize was that at exactly seven-forty-nine, just outside the bustling City Center, the prim looking man would bow his head down for a few seconds in silent recollection of the Fate Pundit and roll up the wheels on his fate folder to seven-seven-seven. What they sat oblivious of was the fact that in the following heartbeat, the bus, the passengers, the street, the neighborhood, the shops, the bystanders, the sidewalk, the street signs and the road will be strewn with mayhem and death. What they did not figure out was that their day, as they knew it, would never end.

‘It has been a pleasure being with you. Please wish me luck,’ he said to the aging soul who sat looking at the passing streets like an interesting painting of her life.

‘Certainly dear,’ she said as she kissed his forehead. ‘I wish you the best with everything you have planned for yourself. May the Almighty bless you with all that is holy and good.’ He acknowledged it with an affectionate smile as he proceeded to bow for a quick prayer.

The children had gathered for their morning breakfast at the school near the City Center when the clock tower struck seven-forty-nine. This day would never find its end.


Saturday, August 11, 2007 1 reflections

Handcuffed To Liberty

My personal record so far of experimentations with super-short fiction. I had earlier attempted two variations - one of 100 words and the other of 75 words. Now I dare to venture into a piece stitched with just 60 valuable words that bring a tale to you. I hope this attempt is successful.


Handcuffed to liberty
© ShaKri / 2007

Strange drum rolls echoed through the moist interiors. Her shell was being cajoled by alien noises. A haven of dull silence wrapped in warmth melted into the approaching light. Safe darkness was invaded by the C-shaped gate that grew with each passing pulse. Soon there was cacophony as she silently left her host. She had found liberty – the girl child.
Monday, August 06, 2007 2 reflections

Separated At Birth

Dear Reader,

I had challenged myself a few months ago to pen something eloquent in just 75 words. It began with 100 words - Love at every flight - and so this was one more step in that direction. Although I stopped attempting more of these, thought those who visit this blog could check this one out. I have one more attempt that took only 60 words...but thats next.


Separated At Birth
© ShaKri / 2007

The light that chose direction stood awaiting its peer’s response. The girl in the automobile continued to stare motionlessly at the outstretched palm in front of her. A mirror image looked back at her with a familiar emotion. Eyes that seemed to wonder at how they were so near yet could not be further away. Different beings from completely opposite universes sharing a common moment. The vehicle’s position changed with the lights but little else.

Saturday, August 04, 2007 3 reflections

That 'F' Word

That ‘F’ Word
© 2007 / ShaKri

I STILL REMEMBER THE FROWN of uncertainty on my face when I had heard of this bizarre seeming ritual. Known for his practical jokes, I was somehow convinced that my friend was pulling a fresh one. I mean, come on, can there really be a day called ‘Friendship Day’? What does that even mean? A day set aside for a bunch of people to go ‘Oh right! I just realized we are friends so let’s go out and get something to eat. While we do that we can exchange some cards with pleasantries printed and move on with our lives.’ Yes. This is how I had imagined the day back then and in some ways I still do.

But you know what they say. Nothing remains the same for too long. This goes mostly for humans than any other living being. With time, perceptions and attitudes change – they evolve. I cannot claim that this is a universal theory but from what I have seen, it has come true. So with time my opinion about this ‘Friendship Day’ also evolved. No, I did not hop on to the next Hallmark depot and pile on a dozen cards and gifts. Instead I decided to live and let live. So what if I don’t ‘celebrate’ it. I am sure there are millions who can use this day as an excuse to be with a friend. Fair enough.

As the sun rises on yet another one of these, I find myself at a crossroad. Next year by now I would have bid farewell to my twenties and hopefully greeted that special someone who I shall vow to spend my life with. Come August 2008 I’d have probably re-designed the circle of friends I have by keeping in touch with some while letting the others go.

I don’t know.

But if there is anything this day has taught me it is this. Each year I find my circle of trust being filtered. There was a time when I was in my early twenties and I had dozens of people inside that circle. With experiences and passing seasons, I have learnt to choose. I have taught myself the hard way that knowing someone and being their friend are two completely different propositions. I guess this is why the people who now sit in my circle of trust seem so precious to me. I don’t have to call them everyday but when I do they always pick up the phone. I don’t have to tell them they are unique but when I speak they understand. I don’t have to tell them when I am sad because the moment I say ‘hello’ they say ‘what’s wrong?’

When I look back from here I smile at this grand realization. Everyone offers an ear but only some offer their heart. I hope you get to spend this day with those people since it seems like they are a dying breed.

Happy Friendship Day.


2 reflections

From Kobenhavn With Love

From Kobenhavn With Love
© 2007, ShaKri

I LOOK AROUND MY NEW APARTMENT and a sense of belonging has already begun. It has been a little over 36 hours since my arrival into this new domain and yet an absurd feeling of nostalgia engulfs me from within. It has been a little over four hours since I muscled up two large bags of groceries into my new nest yet it feels like I have been doing this forever. The same emotion, but a new color apparently. The same sense of independent lethargy yet a different shade.

I was walking around a buzzing commercial street called Ostergade today. From what little I have seen so far one thing I can tell – Copenhagen is for everyone. Despite the various notions of the culture shocks I had heard of, everyone I have met so far has been anything but shocked. Be it the random lady who I sheepishly approached with an address in Hellerup today morning or the giggling teenager who told me I was walking on the bicycle lane this afternoon near Osterport Train station. It was fun to exchange a genuine smile of foreign-ness in a place like this. What also helps this alien cause of mine has been the fact that everyone speaks perfect English here! A concept quite lost in my good old Caracas that I am finding harder to put behind already.

The city is a cyclist paradise. Almost everyone cycles here and seems to enjoy it too. What else would one expect from a country that is so flat! I am already tempted to buy one myself as I see men and women of almost all ages kick on the pedals and disappear into the shadows of the quiet alleys near my house. I almost hired one today morning just for kicks but then decided against it when I realized I did not have a destination. On second thought, I guess that is what is so amazing about a bicycle – not knowing where you are headed.

It is 9:00PM right now yet the sun shines in all its glory as if it were 3:00PM. I had had this experience earlier in Riga. Back then I was 24 and had laughed at this bizarre concept of day and night with a fellow colleague. Now I am 29 and the same concept seems almost philosophical in nature – a longer day each day. More sun for me than others, it seems. But I am sure tables will be turned on me come October once winter sets in well and I will be yearning for a little part of the solar powerhouse. Be that as it may, it seems alright.

As I boarded the flight from Bangalore on Wednesday morning something strange happened. For the first time in all my journeys so far, I had felt – nothing. This is quite unusual. All my journeys home have been filled with hope and never ending expectations while every flight out of it have been of nervous anticipation and a feel of blatant energy loss just at the thought of getting back to work. I guess this is why people move around the globe as much as they do in search of new opportunities. To get rid of that nagging feel of the familiar. I guess this is what adventure feels like – nothing. Come what may I will manage, it seems to feel.

If you look past the physical stress of having to load up 40 kilos worth of supplies from India up 5 floors of an elevator-less building, there has not been much I have felt exhausted about. Among other notable things it also turns out that throughout the Scandanavian peninsula and Denmark, tap water is fresh drinking water. ‘No problem! It is perfectly fine’ were the wise words tumbling out of a neighbor’s mouth today. Felt odd at first but now I am already yearning for some of that tapped glory.

I have begun enjoying my experience here. And I know in the coming months there will be plenty of surprises. Some decent ones and others – the mostly kind – nasty ones. But I guess the real flavor of being an international traveler is being able to adapt quickly to something than before. I know I have already done more things here than I did in my first three days in Caracas. Ah! How quickly we grow up, don’t we?

Here is to a few more nuggets of wisdom that I am certain will find me soon. Until that happens, this Kannadiga continues to survive in Kobenhavn.