I was running. Running as fast I could. Somehow I wasn’t getting any tired. The breathing was normal, there was no sweat and my legs felt no fatigue. It was strange considering that am not a good runner. A sprint to catch the bus can leave me almost knocked out and feeling that I might faint. Images of me lying on the ground or the bus seat encourage me and I end up trying to do that. It takes a while to regain my full consciousness and be normal again. Well, coming back to the point, I was running… images were floating around me at a rapid rate, but still very cognizable. Images of a school ground, of a massive tree over a compound in Chamarajpet on a summer morning and two kids playing cricket under it, images of my parents, with hair just starting to gray. Images I knew were from my past, and I realized that my cravings for a childhood gone were now into another realm. Then there was a sound, a cling-cling-cling sound which brought me to a much nearer past. Jayanagar 3rd Block, 15k and a cell phone. I reached out and picked up my Nokia 6230. The display was showing “Alarm 6:30 AM” and I had two options “Stop” and “Snooze”. I knew I had to stop, I had been running for long and suddenly the fatigue was up on me, as if it had been lurking and accumulating around the corner, and the alarm was its signal to possess me. And then the world came to an end and everything blacked out. Probably this is what we feel in death.
And then there was a party. A pool party, or was it a beach party? I’d never know as there was no water to be seen, just a white building and something told me the party had to do with water. My relatives were all there, the women in silk sarees, the men in formals. For some reason, I don’t know what, I felt it was normal. I walked along the corridor formed by the building and its boundary wall to reach the door to enter whatever lay behind it and on the way, close to the boundary wall, I saw a cat drinking from a bowl of milk. As I approached it, I realized it wasn’t a cat, but a cobra drinking like a cat. Yes, like a cat, putting its head or hood into the bowl and lifting it up every once in a while the way cats do. Now, this was familiar territory. Cobras chasing me in dreams is pretty common and I knew what I had to do. I ran. After all, they chase me and I run. I ran and ran and kept running and then suddenly the earth gave away. With a sudden jerk I returned to the normal world.
There was no sweat, no huffing and puffing filmi style or waking up with a gasp and sitting upright. It was a normal opening of eyes and a normal reach-out to my cell phone to see the time. It was close to 10:30 in the morning. Ah, good old weekends, and I closed my eyes again with a smile. Well, wait a minute. It hit me all of a sudden that it was a Tuesday morning. I woke up with a jerk once again. After a quick brush of my teeth and over the normal morning coffee, I mailed my manager that I was gonna be late for work and might make it in by noon. My time to leave home since waking up has gone up from a quick 1/2 hr to close to 1.5 hrs now. It involves brushing the teeth, the morning washing up and thought session in toilet, the coffee over news and breakfast, but the main thing is I’ve lost the ability to force the pace over the years.
Well, coming to the topic, Tuesdays are days I skip the gym and take the bus. But they are also days I wake up by 7:30 AM (In case you are wondering, I snooze at 10 min intervals all the way from 6:30 to close to 7:20 or 7:30 AM). Left with no choice I drove to work. One of the travails, in fact one of the biggest travails of going late to work is parking space. With parking space under the building getting filled by 9:30 in the morning, and the one outside by 10:30, I pretty much parked half a mile away from office and walked down.
It was close to 11:45 AM when I entered office and was feeling pretty good about making it before noon and with a normal mundane life, was a bit excited about gloating about waking up late. My manager, as expected had gotten a tad worried since I had some work to complete overnight and on reaching office in the morning, er…noon, I realized that the machine I was working on had cranked out. More specifically it said “Processor Initialization Fails” when booting up. I had no idea what it meant, although I felt it was a lot more sinister than it sounded. It is not everyday that the processor fails to initialize when booting up. But with other pressing and more interesting issues at hand, I decided to ignore the message and when my manager turned up, was ready to point out the screen and accept defeat at the hands of failed technology. The work was immediately punted out to less fortunate colleagues and I realized I might be in a bad state for the annual review coming up, but I had my defense in hand. The monitor of my extra machine still says “Processor Initialization Fails” and is signed by Intel Corporation. Well, now that’s something.
Soon it was lunch time for me. While people normally go around 12:00 or 12:30 I make it a point to go in after 1:00, closer to 1:30. I sauntered into the cafeteria in the opposite building. Having had Mongolian stir-fry the previous day, I decided to try something different like Thai. Drifting over to an almost empty counter (it was almost closing time) I ordered white rice and yellow tofu curry. Thai food comes at a premium of close to 7.50$ while the average is close to 6.00 for a good meal. Carrying it to office I realized it was colder than usual. Maybe it was closer to closing time and they didn’t have a proper heating system. Well whatever it was, the food felt very heavy, amazingly heavy, and I just couldn’t complete it and decided to throw most of it down the trash. Taking it to the kitchenette to throw it out, I was faced with three choices – whether wasted food is compost, normal trash or recyclable (which I ruled out, owing to common sense and that the bin was too far away in a corner). I dumped everything in compost and filled my mouth with water to wash away the taste of it. I vowed a solemn oath never to try Thai food from that counter again.
Rest of the day I fought off managers and other forced entries into my office to try and get some side-work from me, like updating machines, checking builds, and all sorts of crap and concentrated to get some actual work done. Soon it was 3:30 PM and time for coffee. This time I decided to try a slightly larger size from the Small I have usually. I went one step above with the same cup size as always and saw that the cup was filled to its brim with only surface tension holding it in. Realizing sadly that it just wasn’t my day I mixed sugar while miraculously avoiding any spill-outs. There was no space for milk and it was black coffee for a while. With a full cup I ended up taking in more than was possible for me, burning my tongue (somehow it seems to take the brunt of all weird days I have).
Soon it became 5:00 and most people started leaving. Having arrived late I decided to stay on till 6:30 at least. With most people gone or leaving, there was a fair degree of peace for the rest of the day in office and I managed to get most of my work done. Close to 6:30 I started wrapping it up and at 6:32 I left office. As I walked out, I saw a bus approaching the nearest bus stop. I realized to my horror that I had to be on this one or wait in the bus stop for another hour. I ran. It was a full sprint more than anything. Thankfully, the driver saw me approaching and stopped the bus. Having had to wait a few more seconds than usual he was a bit grumpier than usual. I showed him my company transit pass. This was the first of July and the transit pass had expired on the 30th June and I realized I had no cash on me! He frowned, “Its expired!”. “Well, I tried to get it replaced, but they’ve run out of stickers, so nothing much I could do about it.” I said with a firm voice. Truth was of course that I didn’t know about the expiry till that instant. “OK, go back and sit” he said disdainfully. “Racist!” I swore under my breath as I made my way to the back with a victorious look.
I got off at the last stop for the bus and the next bus arrived in a few minutes and I was getting down at my stop less than a 1/2 hour since I ran. I made my way to the mailbox, and since it was Tuesday there was a pile of junk to be thrown out. “Bloody junk!” and it went to the junk pile on the side. There was nothing intended just for me, which was pleasing (Most of the mail is usually bills and I am not a great fan of paying them). As always, as I passed my car I pressed the lock to make it blink for me once.
Only difference today, my parking slot was empty and there was no car there to blink for me!