Heart Or Mind

‘The Bridges Of Madison County’….. one of the finest masterpieces ever made!
You have to watch it to experience it.

BridgesofMadison County
I’ve seen this movie every single time it’s been broadcast. That should make it countless. Yet, I keep channel-hopping every night in anticipation.  This movie is something magical! It brings some sort of mental peace and stability all through the time it plays …and even after that. Love between two middle-aged people or consenting adults!

Whether Francesca should have listened to her heart or was she right in conforming to her mind… Every time I put myself in her shoes, I wonder, would I do the same? The love-bug bites me hard and the selfishness just creeps within. But then, I’m yanked out into her reality of having a home – her husband and her kids. May be, her family of many years desired more of her than her love of four days. She wouldn’t have turned her back towards her responsibilities. May be she was right.

But the scene, when her hand’s at the handle and her eyes are fixed on her love who she knows will be gone forever…. I want and crave and desire that she opens the door and runs out straight in the arms of her love!

Organs at war –  the heart and the mind! Its mostly the heart that walks away with the title 🙂

Lost And Found

It was 7 years back, when I’d newly joined a multinational. It was my first day. Being a new recruit, the first to join my department and without a boss, I was all lost. There was no one to induct or introduce. It was then I met Bianca. She called me for a coffee and we hit it off immediately. Though from a different department, she made me comfortable and settled me down. She knew very little about the rules and regulations and almost nothing about the company policies, but she did give me a good brief about all the employees and their dos and don’ts. This is how we gradually became friends. Thickest of friends. Our group strength later increased to 5. All of us from different departments. But there was always a special bonding between me and Bianca.

Dont know why, but I always felt protected when I was with her. She was one of a kind personality. A tigress under the skin of a teddy bear. A jackfruit, rough from the outside but soft from the inside. To me she was a female Napolean Bonaparte. But she had a different kind of warmth to her, a warmth that a mother has for her kids. She knew me in and out… a girl who trusted people blindly. She knew the world and its working. So she wanted to protect me and she did with all her might.

More the number of people, more the number of characteristics and more the understandings and the misunderstandings. So it happened. A misunderstanding creeped in between the best of us two friends. I tried my best to sort things out, but there was nothing I could do. Bianca wasn’t the person to forgive, nor forget. I couldn’t bear the distance between us. I couldn’t bear to see that anger for me in her eyes. We were in the same concern, coming face to face with each other everyday, but not talking. So I jumped my job.

Its been six years after I changed, but I couldn’t forget Bianca. How could I? She was my first and the best friend. If she din’t give up on her anger, I too wasn’t the one to give up my friendship. I had a clear conscious, I hadn’t wronged her in any way. Then why would I give up on her? So I kept messaging her, wishing her on all possible occasions… her birthdays, Christmas, Easter… I din’t miss any occasion to tell her in some way or the other that I still loved her.

Initially she didn’t respond. Then it was the start of the monologues. But I was not content with her “Thankyous” and “Same to yous”. Though they did make me smile. I was determined to get her back. Whatsapp has played a major role in my success story since last year. Now I could see her through her profile pictures.

And it was only yesterday that my tigress finally roared. She had posted her baby’s pic as her profile picture. She isn’t a baby anymore, although she was six years ago. She’s metamorphosed to a beautiful young collegian. I started talking about her little daughter who was as good-looking as her. This time there was no monologues. But an entire sentence and then sentences. I had got my friend talking… umm…chatting. We spoke….chatted for good 2 hours. These two hours did include long pauses. But I dint mind. She was chatting with me after six years. My wait was finally over. My efforts and persistence paid for.

Friendship! A ship sailing two friends or may be even more. How would the journey be sailing alone? Misunderstandings do creep in. But is it ok to let go of a relation without trying to sort things out? And when I say trying, is there a predefined or specified limit or time-period for this trial? When is it that you should let go? Or should you keep holding on like I did, not knowing what the end-result will be? Should you be expecting the other person to respond or should you not? When you really love someone, how far are you ready to go to have that person in your life?

Well, may be we don’t have a specific answer to these questions. May be it all depends from individual to individual, isn’t it? Me as a person, I don’t give up easily on my relationships.
At this moment, all I know is that I have found my long lost friend …well, almost 🙂

Friends Forever! Really?


Tanya… a beauty with lot of brains. Her height and long, black wavy hair strikingly made her stand out from the rest of our group. She always tied her hair in a bun, except for that thin, long bundle which she kept loose as if to allow it to flow on her pretty face. I always felt, she was partial towards that particular bundle of hair. It was her trademark. Did I envy her? No. How could I? I loved her to the moon. I was so proud to have such a gorgeous friend 🙂

Me and Tanya had been together for ages… together in school and inseperable in college. One common thing that brought us more closer was… we dint have boyfriends. Actually, we dint need a boyfriend. We were the thickest of friends. She was my valentine and I was hers. We came from different faiths. But that dint stop us from being together, sharing our happiness and our lives with each other. We were soulmates.

‘Were’? Yeah… ‘were’… Its been ages I’ve seen her; and more than a decade after we graduated. She came home with a big bouquet; to congratulate me on the evening of our graduation results. I stood second in our college. And it was only her gesture that made me realize my achievement. That was the last time we were happy together.

After that she never spoke. Never answered my calls nor returned them. I never saw again. No, I did. Once, when she’d come to give me her wedding invitation, which she did while standing outside the door of my house. Couple of years before that, we used to study together in the same house, we had such great time together.

I’d been to her wedding. She looked like a fairy to me in that flowing white gown and sparkling tiara on her head. She gave a tough competition to her groom who seemed to be quiet in awe or can I say ‘envy’ of her height. Her heels made her tower over him. Oh yeah, that trademark bundle of hair was still swaying over her face and it looked so happy to me. She looked divine! I went up to wish her, we hugged each other. It was her wedding, but I could feel my stomach churning the entire day. That day, all my prayers were only for her, I wanted her to be happy. While leaving, I smiled and she smiled back at me. Yeah, that was the last time, the last moment we saw each other.

I never did understand why we drifted apart after graduation. I tried to be with her. But seemed she dint want to. She avoided me. Later, she cut me off completely. I missed her so much. I cried, kept asking myself why she was avoiding me. I never had an answer. She could have spoken to me and sorted, fought with me, instead of leaving me just like that. I loved her so much. There was no way I could have hurt her. The question why she went away will be unanswered forever.

I never did forget her. Don’t know why, but I see her in my dreams even today, almost every other night. Those days we dint have mobiles. Her land-phone number was the only connection I had with her. I may have changed a number of mobiles in the last few years, but I always ensured I had her number saved in each one of them. I never called her though. There were whole lot of ‘ifs’ on my mind. What if she dint like me calling her, what if she cut me off again….and so on…

I always remembered her birthday. Last year, on that day I decided to put an end to those ‘ifs’ and  listen to my heart. And I dialed, not knowing or thinking if that number still existed. She answered. I couldn’t have mistaken her voice to anyone else’s, although it was more than a decade after we last spoke. She was married. She could have been in her marital home. But she was there on the phone. Nothing on this earth would have given me the happiness that my phone-call did that day. We spoke for five minutes though she dint seem that keen to reciprocate. I left her my number. I waited that entire year for her call. She never called.

Last week was her birthday. I called again. Turns out, she hadn’t penned down my number last year. And I crazily waited for one whole year for her call. We spoke for ten whole minutes. Five minutes more than last year… I kept the conversation going for that extra 5 minutes. She said that her birth date was registered in my subconscious which is why I remembered it. Really? Was it just the subconscious thing that made me remember her birthday every single year for the past fifteen years? Couldn’t there be any possibility that I still love her? Well, I gave her my number once again and ensured she wrote it down this time. How? I made her read it out to me after she said she wrote.

Two days later, I read a quote somewhere, “if someone wants to be a part of your life, they’ll make an effort to be in it. So think twice before reserving a space in your heart for someone who does not make an effort to stay”.
My eyes struck wide open reading this. I felt as if there was someone shaking me… shaking me to the core, telling me “wake up”. Was that quote for me? I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking day and night over it. I’ve made my decision. I’ll wait one more year till her next birthday and I’ll wait every single day for her call. I really hope she calls. I really want her to call. Coz that will be the day I’ll have made up my mind.

Consensual Sex – Cheating or Rape?

I saw an episode of “Crime Patrol” on Saturday. Its been playing on my mind repeatedly ever since, forcing me to finally put it in here.
It is a real-life tale about an older girl and a younger boy falling in love, leading to a disastrous end.

Shilpa, a gorgeous 22 yr old worked for a call-centre. Roy, a teenager and a son of a police sub-inspector, had his eyes on her way to office. He offered to drop her to office and she obliged. Couple of meetings later, sweet-nothings were exchanged via messages  and eventually both of them fell in love. Little did Shilpa know what lied ahead for her. Roy once convinced her and took her to his house. He wanted to have sex with her. She wasn’t ready. She refused upfront and stormed out.
Thereafter, there was no office-drops, no messages and no calls from Roy. His intentions were clear. He just wanted to have sex. But Shilpa was in love. Her heart overpowered her mind and she offered herself for the sake of their love and relation which was supposed to head towards marriage.

After a month of getting physically involved, Roy again stopped seeing her. Apparently, his parents were against their marriage and he was a couple of years younger to her. Shilpa was heart-broken. He had never mentioned this to her before getting physical. He had clearly cheated on her, used her body, tormented her, and tore her dignity and self-respect into pieces. Shilpa wasn’t ready to take this lying down. She dint wanna let Roy do this to any other girl. So she confided in her family who stood against her like a rock. Fear of society!

She went to the police station and filed a complaint of “rape” against Roy. He was jailed. A month behind the bars and he was out on bail. His father tried all possible ways to make Shilpa withdraw her case – persuasion by love, persuasion by threat. When nothing worked, he bumped her off. Shilpa was murdered.

Did this love story had to have such a tragic end? It was incredible and heart-wrenching, sending shivers down the spine. His intentions were clear from the time she refused. He only wanted to have sex. Roy had clearly used her body like an object and then dumped her.

A monstrous question arises here. Was Shilpa right in terming this as rape? Is the judiciary justified in terming this as rape?
Definition of rape – Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration initiated against an individual without the consent of that individual.
Punishment for this gruesome offence, if proved, is minimum 7 years imprisonment.
It seemed more of cheating and misuse of trust. It could have been termed in that way. The punishment could have been something else. The end would have been something else.

What happened between the two was consensual. Roy had discontinued meeting her when she had refused. His intention was clear and obvious. She was the one gave in to his demands and offered to get physical. She was the one who went to his house and kept going for the sake of love. There was no force of any kind and clearly no sexual assault.
If it was she who was forced to exit the relation due to similar reasons (age gap/ parents dissent), would it still be called rape?

Roy being a 19 year old, would have lost his career, his youth, the precious years which would make his life. This wasn’t going to be just a 7 years punishment. He was going to be punished for life. His dad was not ready to see his son getting destroyed. According to him, shutting her off forever was the only option to save his only son. So he did it. He killed her.

Wouldn’t things be different if Shilpa had understood Roy’s obvious intentions and stopped their relation right there?
Who is to be blamed here? Shilpa, for wanting to teach Roy a lesson for outraging her modesty and tormenting her soul? Roy, for using her body as an object and then dumping her? Roy’s father, for taking that extreme step to save his son? Or the judiciary for terming this breach of trust as rape?

When such cases come out in public,  will a girl ever trust a guy who promises marriage? She’ll always have the fear of getting used and then dumped for some stupid reasons. Will a guy ever dare to get intimate before marriage? He’ll always have a fear of being termed a ‘rapist’, if due to any reason he isn’t able to fulfill the commitment. Today, people are smart enough to find loopholes and find their way out of even most stringent judicial laws.

Where is all this heading anyway? Who was right? Who was wrong? What if this was done…and so on…the questions still remain unanswered.
The only fact that has our eyes wide open and our hearts filled with empathy is that a life was lost. And two families left shattered forever….

Bandstand, A Couple’s Paradise

I’ve been craving to write about Mumbai since long, since the time I can remember. Mumbai, my city, the city of dreams, the city that has sheltered with love more than 18 million people across all states of India and from different parts of the globe the city that is a source of bread and butter to millions, the city that never sleeps… Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra and the financial, commercial and entertainment capital and the wealthiest city of India!!!

Whenever I talk  about Mumbai, I always start with Bandra, a place synonymous with shopping, fort, churches, seafront, promenades, pubs, malls, food and its food-loving people. The name ‘Bandra’ is possibly an adaptation of the Persian (and also Urdu) word ‘bandar’, which means a city; an emporium; a port, harbour; a trading town to which numbers of foreign merchants resort. Bandra is known it as “Queen of the Suburbs”.

Bandra has a rich history of the British and the Portuguese era. Many of the houses and establishments still shout out their historical existence. There are over 150 crosses at various places. Many crosses were built to ward off the plague epidemic (1896-1906). The oldest is the one relocated in St Andrew’s church compound. Stands 17 ft high and made of a single stone and dates back to 1610.

Christians dominate the population here. Bandra is also home to a sizable Hindu, Parsi (Zoroastrians) and Muslim population. Prominent places here are the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Bandra Lake or Bandra Talao, Carter Road, Linking Road, Hill Road, Jogger’s Park, Bandstand and Land’s End. BKC is a commercial hub. Hill Road and Linking Road are a shopper’s paradise. Whereas, Carter Road and Bandstand are  seafront with long promenades.

Bandra is well-connected via the Western Railway and the Harbour Line which is an offshoot of the suburban Central Railway.

My relationship with Bandra dates back to the earlier 2000s. This was the time when I knew very little of the rest of Mumbai, I knew Bandra in and out. I have a strong emotional connect to Bandstand.

This is the place where my love-story flourished.  Not just mine, but I’m sure I must be a voice of hundreds of couples out there. Now you know, why I call this place “A Couple’s Paradise”.
In the early 2000s, love was in the air… for me. And Bandstand was the only place we knew to be with each other and share our sweet-nothings. It was just the beginning of our individual careers, so affordability of restaurants was a big question mark. In those times, Bandstand was our only saviour. Hail an auto or hop-on a bus and reach our destination within 15 minutes.
The long promenade, the sea, the sunset, the breeze… all so very inviting. We used to sit on the promenade watching the sun set and time would just fly off.
The couples are scattered all over – the promenade, rocks, in the parked cars, strolling hand in hand or rather, hand-in-waist, hugging, kissing or just sitting there holding each other. We fell in the last bracket. There’s love all round…literally!!!
Bandstand3Sweet-nothings are not enough to satisfy your tummy, specially when you’ve travelled miles to be your sweetheart. So when it comes to treating your taste-buds, there’s an array of food items that are dished out.
There’s street-food and hawkers who serve smoking hot sandwiches, frankies, roasted corn, juice vendors, etc.
bandstandcornwallaThere are cafes like Barrista and Cafe Coffee Day aka CCD, our Indianised answer to the likes of Starbucks and Gloria Jeans. These 2 cafes are next door neighbours. The tables offering an undisturbed view of the sea are reminiscent of my moments here with my favourite Cafe Frappe and the corn and cheese sandwich.
Barista boasts of a special corner table which is the hotspot of Bollywood superstar and my heartthrob, Salman Khan. He was and still is my numero uno reason and cause of frequenting Bandra. I’ve always had and still have a small hope in one little corner of my heart, of seeing Salman. My eyes used to always be fixed on the first floor balcony of his Galaxy Apartments.
bandstandccdFurther down, there is Cafe Sea Side, which is famous for its snacks and meals. Tables near the windows of this cafe are a bliss.
Bandstand is synonymous with “Mannat” a castle-like bungalow of another Bollywood superstar, Shahrukh Khan. People gather in hoards only to catch a glimpse of their Badshah and go berserk when they do get one. Mr. Khan also obliges by standing in his balcony and waving his fans.
The Walk of the Stars is a section of the promenade honouring Bollywood film stars. The path features about six statues of famous Bollywood actors.
bandstandwalk of starsAlso there are about 100 brass plates embossed with the handprints and signatures of other stars. The walk was inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, more commonly known as Mount Mary Church, is a Roman Catholic Basilica situated in this area. The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated here on the first Sunday after 8 September, the birthday of the Virgin Mary.
bandstandmtmarychurch2The feast is followed by a week long celebration known locally as the Bandra Fair and is visited by thousands of people of all faiths.
Castella de Aguada
, also known as the Bandra Fort, is located at the Land’s End which is the extreme point of Bandstand.  It was built by the Portuguese in 1640 as a watchtower overlooking the Mahim Bay, the Arabian Sea and the southern island of Mahim.
BandstandBandra Fort
The iconic Taj Land’s End is a luxury hotel standing tall offering a breathtaking sight and is a crown to the Land’s End area. It has been playing host to hoards of celebrities, dignitaries and the royals.
Bandstand has a lot to offer everyone…from children to the aged, from loaded purses to the empty ones, from singles to couples and families. When I speak about Bandstand, I speak my heart out. I have experienced every bit of it. Its nostalgia, its a different feeling altogether.
Its a tribute to my lovestory… and the relationship that blossomed thereafter…