of one night in McLeod

It’s dark and it’s raining outside. Everyone’s gone out and the two of us are alone in the room.

He’s just a stranger and he’s too close for comfort. I act busy but I know he’s watching me, like a predator. The tension is obvious. My heart is thumping in my chest. I’m going weak in the knees thinking of what’s about to happen in the next few minutes.

Maybe nothing will happen if I just get up and move to another room. But part of me wants to find out what happens if I stay. But I know this isn’t right and I must do something to stop it. But do I have the courage to do… Anything?

He finally makes his first move, and I make mine. It’s like a dance, we both know the rhythm. I have been in this situation before. The goosebumps, nervous excitement, dry throat; the inability to move – this is all too familiar.

of strangers in the night

So I’m back from the 2N3D offsite, and predictably enough, will now regale you with stories of the weirdness that ensued.

I was picked up from the highway next to my house in a bus with forty people, out of whom I have only ever spoken to six. Two of these six people were newly married men who had brought their wives along, and were pretending to not know me.

(Did I ever tell you that I’m the hottest maal in the office. People have been saying that to my face, which is really awkward coz I don’t know how to react to things like that, mostly coz know it’s true. So feigning modesty becomes really difficult coz I’m not familiar with the concept.)

So anyway they pretended to not know me, just smiled as I dragged my luggage into the bus.

The rest of the people I knew were basically three girls and a cute guy who works in graphics, who kinda smiled at me throughout the offsite, despite the fact that he was traveling with his wife and baby – and oh what a cute baby! Let’s call him Gfx, shall we?

The three other girls waved cheerily and welcomed me on board the bus, and then quickly resumed their laughing and hi-fiving. I put on my earphones and listened to music and clicked pictures.

We stopped for breakfast on the way, and reached the venue, a should-be-five-star-if-it-isn’t-already hotel just before the National Park. Then I met the girls for the unnecessarily lavish lunch and retired again. I skipped the team building activities too and tried to bond with my roommate instead. I asked her, why haven’t I ever seen you in office? Are you new? In response she told me that:

  • She was indeed new to the office, worked with XYZ in ABC department as assistant manager
  • It was her birthday the next day
  • She had lived alone in Indirapuram
  • for ten years
  • Her parents lived in a different city
  • Her biker buddies had planned to kidnap her from her house and bring her to Jim Corbett, but then she ruined it by coming to this offsite, so they changed their plan and were going to pick her up the next day and she was going on a vacation with them on their bikes
  • She owned the same pair of floaters as I did, but couldn’t carry them because she had brought high heels

At this point, I picked up my camera and left the room, because of all the bonding. (I realize that I don’t really make it easy for the other people to get to know me.)

I hid until the evening snacks were served. Later at night, there was an extremely boring dance party planned. The ekdum latest music seemed to be from the nineties, and they played everything from ankhiyon se goli maare to oonchi hai building. The crowd was unruly. One guy got drunk (we were allowed to carry our own alcohol to the offsite) and fell on the floor while people pointed and laughed for a full two minutes before someone ventured to pick him up and walk him to his room.

I decided to sit in a corner, but this guy (from the senior management, someone I’ve never even met) wouldn’t let me. He kept walking up to me and offering me his hand to dance, like a prince from the Victorian age. I’d oblige, stay for three seconds, turn to his wife and dance with her for a bit, and then slyly walk back to where I was sitting, but he kept coming back. No matter where I hid, he found me.

His wife was there on the dance floor all this while, glaring at me like she was going to claw my eyes out, giving me the you’re-stealing-my-husband look. I felt like I should say something to this guy, but then he wasn’t doing anything obviously wrong, and I didn’t really know how to react. I left the party and went back to my room to read and eventually fell asleep.

Thus the night ended. And another day of misery began.

The girls from my bus were in the room adjacent to mine, and in the morning I heard them screaming like they were being murdered. Still in my bathrobe, I ran out towards their room, and I found the door slightly ajar. What I saw next made me wish my eyes had melted in their sockets before I ever laid eyes on it, but you can read about that later.

For now, why don’t we talk about the strange things that you’ve seen drunk people do? Or the things you do when you’re drunk? How do you deal with non-obvious sexual advances from senior management? Would you run away like I did, or give it back to the guy?

of human-ness

You’re afraid, very afraid, but you take that first step. You feel like you’re falling at first, but then you soar higher than you ever have. And once you have tasted the freedom that flying gives you, you will never be able to walk without looking up at the sky and yearning to fly again.

You’re human, after all.

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

of silhouettes

This week, experiment with light and capture a silhouette.

Challenge accepted!

Mister paused at the threshold, reflecting on the infinite beyond! Just kidding, actually trying to put up a brave stoic pose while battling hunger pangs at The Quest (an artsy dhaba enroute Sariska National Park, Rajasthan)
Mister paused at the threshold, reflecting on the infinite beyond! Just kidding, actually trying to put up a brave stoic pose while battling hunger pangs at The Quest (an artsy dhaba enroute Sariska National Park, Rajasthan)
A friend enjoying his moment of pride and rest after conquering a boulder at Sangla Valley, Himachal Pradesh

of the McLeod Grudge – Part I

So I’m back.

Actually I’ve been back for two days now but I just couldn’t bring myself to write about the sheer wastefulness of this trip.

As many of you already who follow me on Twitter already know, we left home at 10:15 pm and got stuck in a massive-pain-in-the-neck-and-netherlands jam at Mukarba Chowk. Seriously. I was stuck for almost 45 minutes after about 30 minutes of driving.

When we did reach the highway the ride drive was pretty smooth. We went from Delhi to Ambala to Ropar to Anadpur Sahib to Una (oh the roads in Una were so beautiful!) to Kangra to McLeodgunj in 12 hours. Yes, despite the jam. Yes, we were driving at 130 kmph and even touched 140 twice.

Mom, being Mama McFeederson, had packed enough food to last us an apocalypse, so we didn’t really have to stop much except twice for a pee break. She couldn’t have carried a commode or she would’ve. Trust me, Indian moms pack the whole goddamn house when they travel. Salt, pepper, ketchup sachets, bedsheets – you name it. No, I dare you, try!

All through the journey we kept telling mom about how much we had heard about McLeod. We told her she was going to have the time of her life. Sitting in a cafe, mingling with tourists from other countries, talking about the social conditions in their countries, reading books all day, just chilling out all day. She was obviously very excited. She’d even brought a pen and a diary to write poetry in.

So we reached McLeodgunj at 11 am and walked straight into a nightmare. Cars everywhere. Roads broken. Shady hotels on either side of the road but almost impossible to reach. Luckily I had booked a hotel in advance, so we were okay. I called them to ask for directions and they told me they had no parking.

What the fuck? What kinda hotel has no parking?

The kind that is shady and impossible to reach. We had to park our car in a parking lot that charges 300 bucks a day. I nearly choked on my tears as Mister shelled out the money. We were used to exorbitant parking charges but this was steep even by Vasant Kunj mall parking standards.

So we parked. Mom was visibly sorry for bringing the whole world with her as Mister and I picked up the luggage and walked into what could’ve been the third task for the Triwizard tournament. It was not a maze at the first look, but we literally had to climb over drainpipes and small walls that were basically boundaries of people’s houses. Once, I stepped over the disabled hand of a disabled hawker selling rotting green apples. On the bright side, he couldn’t have felt any pain. At least not then. Just as I recovered and apologized, I knocked over a glass kept on the wall on my right with my shoulder bag and dropped it in the poor guy’s lap. That would’ve hurt. Fuck.

Mister glared at me and chided me for being clumsy. Then we witnessed a woman falling into the sea of people and drowning in it. She fell right in front of a car. People were trying to help her get up, but she kept searching for something on the road. It turned out she was looking for her kid who had fallen down with her. That was probably the only time I have ever been thankful for being in a jam.

Mister pointed out that it had taken us 30 minutes to cover a distance of 200 meters. I pointed out that I used to be an athlete in school and could cover 100 meters in about 13 seconds. In response, he said nothing but his face said bitch please. In retrospect, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him go bitch please before. Ha! I keep learning new things about him every day!

But I digress. He was upset with the location of the hotel and the fact that they had no parking. And then they gave him another reason to be mad. They told us checkout was at 12 and we’d have to wait for a bit while they cleaned the room, but by the time we actually stepped inside the room, it was 1:30 pm.

Yeah. I was the one who made the booking. I blame Tripadvisor reviews and I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

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