Monday, May 18, 2020

The Ghost of Sector 16 - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – The Abandoned House

3 AM, Sector 16 
……Banged!! The auto halted with a screeching sound rammed into the footpath, it narrowly escaped tumbling and thus we were saved. We got down and shouted at the driver but had to pacify ourselves after seeing that he got hit around the eye and was bleeding. He was shivering and spoke in a distressed tone, ‘Arre sahib, wo aage koi ladka aa gaya tha’. I looked around and found no one, it was pitch dark and silence was at its peak only to be broken by the loud barking of the dog who came out of bushes nearby suddenly scaring us.
‘Kya bhaiya, yaha door door tak koi nahi hai’ Ashish said and pointed that he might have slept like us while driving. We asked him the location and he talked like a Google map. We got to know that we were just at the back of the road and the location where we were to reach was just a few turns away, we paid him and left for the destination. Ashish and Aseem started walking ahead and I asked the auto guy before I could join them,
Bhaiya! Yaha koi bhoot woot wala ghar hai kya?’ 
‘Pata nahi sahib, suna hai lekin kaunsa ghar hai pata nahi’ he stated and pushed his auto aside.
I quickly joined my friends and Aseem asked.
Bhailog, did you see any guy about whom he was talking about?’ We both replied in negative.
‘I feel the auto guy was drunk’ Ashish said. We were to reach near the Rose Garden lane and the broker was already waiting for us. He was damn energetic as he was selling his own property. He took us to the house number 215, the name plate was broken and the remaining name that we read by flashing our mobile light was ‘…ja’s Nest’. He opened the gate and the screeching sound was followed by a cold breeze that indicated something negative and Aseem asked.
Bhai, hope this flat is not haunted or something …’ before he could complete his sentence the broker interrupted and said.
Kya sir, you people are educated and still believe in such things. There is nothing called ghosts but yes there is an abandoned house next to this one, which is house number 213,’ he stated with confidence as if there is nothing wrong with it. We came to know that the abandoned house which was next to this house has been left as it is since the last 5 years and that’s because it was a disputed property. We got little more confidence to move in. I could sense the undesirable vibes after looking at the house next to us but I chose to ignore that feel as he showed us the place, it was single floor house and after crossing the lawn which was towards the left of the gate and a foyer we entered inside, the door opened and he switched on the lights. We would have access to the drawing hall, a kitchen, a room with attached washroom and remaining two rooms were locked by owner as he keeps visiting every 6-8 months. He handed us the keys and stated that he will do the legal formalities by afternoon as it’s already too late. We were happy to get the spacious house at just 1900 rupees per month. He left and I accompanied him till the gate.
I checked my cell and it was 3:45 a.m. The loud noise of his bike faded away and it was dead silence again. The weird thing I noticed was that there were only 5 houses in the lane, ours was in the middle, the extreme left and extreme right house had a dim bulb light on, it seemed there were people staying over there. I contemplated and it suddenly came to my mind that if our house number is 215 and the house next to ours is 216, then how can the house on our left be 213? Where is the house number 214? I turned with my back against the gate and took few steps crossing the lawn and entered the foyer. I kept my glance slightly towards the house number 213 at my right.
I sensed something behind as if someone entered the gate slowly or perhaps it was my delusion, but a cold wave blew again and I could hear a creepy whispering in my right ear. I didn’t turn to look back instead continued to stare towards the house 213 and I found something fell from above and there was loud thuddd!!!! It seemed something horribly heavy fell from above. Could it be a body?

To be continued….

The Ghost of Sector 16 - Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – ‘Paranthe Wale Baba’

2008, Chandigarh: It was the time when we got a chance to attend the 6 months training during my college days; it was the sixth semester and three of us got placed as trainees in a semiconductor lab situated in Mohali. A career-oriented mindset at that point of time prompted us to join an NIT academy as well, offering courses in various languages in Sector 34, Chandigarh. We wanted to extract the best out of those six months of our training and in addition to that it was first time that we were away from our hometown on our own and the excitement of exploring one of the finest cities was sky high.
We had heard a lot of about Sector 17 and its elite gentry, Sector 35, Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake that prompted us to take PG around Sector 17 in Chandigarh. Ashish, Aseem and I took a bus from Jalandhar and reached Sector 17 around 9 p.m. and I still remember it was 9th August, a Saturday night. Everything was well planned and Ashish had arranged a broker who would assist us with settling in Sector 20. We got down at the bus stop and crossed the road to reach Sector 22’s market where the broker was to meet us. Ashish tried calling him but he ignored all our calls and we came to know later that he has left the city with the least chances of returning to the town. We were irritated but after a while took it lightly, throwing friendly jibes at each other and teasing Ashish of being irresponsible added more fun to the experience.
The online apps and websites were not updated as they are in the present day, so we decided to enquire about the flats and PGs via local shops and real estate agents. It was already 11 p.m. and all the estate shops were closed. We had light snacks and planned to spend the night at a park nearby. We were lying, chatting and watching the clear sky above when all of us dozed off one by one. It was 2 a.m. and Ashish got up, he felt hungry and forced us to walk with him in finding something to eat. We got up half-heartedly and after enquiring here and there, we took an auto till Sector 14 where there was a street vendor famous for his paranthas. He was known by the name ‘Paranthe wala baba’.
We reached and found the name and attire of the Parantha baba in coherence with the name, he was in a black attire with beads of artificial skulls wrapped around his neck and a black teeka on the forehead, long hair tied neatly, appeared more like a ‘Tantrik baba’ rather than the parantha baba. It seemed funny and laughed poking fun at him.
It was then when I interacted with a few around us and got to know that one of the guys standing along with us was a broker. He had a few contacts and was eager to help us. We were asked to visit him tomorrow after he made a call and got an approval from the other party in five minutes. He asked us to take an auto and reach Sector 16 while he went on his bike to collect keys after sharing the address. We called for an auto and before the ignition started, ‘Parantha baba’ suddenly appeared almost scaring us spoke in a deep husky voice, ‘Sector 16 mein mat jana baccha, waha ke ghar ki shuddhi nahi huyi hai, tum logo ko takleef hogi, pachtaoge’ warned and left. We remained quiet for a while and then laughed and went on with our way. It was 3 a.m. and we were sleepy. I was actually wondering about the coincidence of all situations - coming at this place for food, coming across the broker, and managing to get a place to stay at that hour of night; no matter how hard I tried to ignore the warning given by the ‘Parantha Baba’, I couldn’t get it off my mind. What if he is right and the series of coincidences continue? What will happen if another coincidence leads us to the same house he was referring to? The sound of the moving auto filled the silence as we entered an empty lane, Ashish and Aseem slept and I stared blankly watching the lifeless roads, thinking about the flat in Sector 16 when the auto suddenly screeched and a loud bang scared us……
To be continued….

When she ‘Right Swiped’ again!!!

Costa Coffee, Andheri

A girl staring out of the window, tears moistening and darkening her kohl-lined eyes, without blinking she thought about the message that had just beeped into her phone a minute ago. She read it and immediately threw her cell phone away. Her friend sitting across the table, shocked at her reaction, picked up the phone and read the message aloud,
“Hey! I don’t love you anymore, Priya, please don’t get me wrong. Urs Rohan.” 
Her friend kept her phone on the table and started consoling her as she has been her support since the day she had met Rohan. In fact, Priya met Rohan because of her suggestion, she was the one who asked her to download a dating app and got her hooked with him. 
‘I wish I wouldn’t have right swiped on his profile and not given him a chance to destroy me, it’s all because you said that this app was wonderful’ crying she added further and raised a finger on her friend’s choice.
“Please don’t cry. He loves you a lot” she consoled her.
Priya, still looking out of the window, wiped her tears. Her friend put more stress on the words of comfort, hoping she would be able to cheer her up. 
“Well, he might have sent you this message deliberately to tease you, or he may have wanted to send it to someone else, and sent it to you by mistake...” I guess even her friend might have been speculating what she said in a flow but Priya immediately burst into tears again.
“Someone else? Hoooo..oooooo.. sob…sob..he has someone else…and …”
Her friend didn’t let her efforts go in vain and this time she tried hard, she stopped her mid-sentence and banged her with the strongest convictional statement ever.
“Mark my words, one day he will come back because he loves you….and mind you, I found my soulmate through the same app and that app can never go wrong.”
“What crap?” I said to myself when I almost spat an expensive espresso I was savoring. I looked and wondered about the advice being given by her friend ‘If one truly loves you, one will come back‘ the concept which has been one true formula followed by Bollywood movies for a long time. Anyways, I know it’s bad on my part to intrude into someone else’s space and judge them but; that’s all we like doing. Especially when people are too loud to let us intrude and judge them, so my action is justified *wink wink*. It’s not the first time that we are witnessing something like that, the ‘right swipe’ or the ‘4G world’ is giving us a lot to ponder upon. 
But what did she mean when she said ‘The app can never go wrong’? Is there any logic behind the psychology of the 4G generation who have strong faith and over reliance on matching dating entries in an application or was she just trying to soothe her for the sake of cheering her by supporting an app and the decision to drag her friend by downloading the same? Innovative techniques and modern methods of getting someone to date just like ordering food or a cab online might have its own consequences but before I could even think further, a couple made their way to the same coffee shop and the guy gestured his sweet love to occupy a seat when suddenly a hand entered his frame in a flash, leaving him stunned.
Slaapppp!! Oops! He is Rohan and the tight slap that got printed on his left cheek was of the girl who was crying a moment ago. What a coincidence! Rohan and Priya both are here in the same café. Even when my conscience was telling me not to peep or intrude, I couldn’t resist and stared at them like a wild monger. It was silly, but I was trying to analyze something, so it was little justified.
‘’How dare you cheat on me? You can roam around with me at will and the next day you message me to forget you so that you can be with this new girl?‘’ she stated half crying and with full rage. The new girl standing next to Rohan was like ‘i-don’t-give-a-damn’ attitude. Wow! 
Rohan wasn’t shocked though he had kept his hand on his left cheek, he looked here and there, I guess to check how many are witnessing this modern-age love saga, he didn’t say anything and turned around to leave, right after the new girl he entered with who now gestured him to leave the scene after feeling embarrassed I guess, or maybe she had an idea that Rohan is a rockstarrrrr as she held his hand tighter and stronger while leaving, who knows she might have downloaded Rohan from another app which might be more reliable than Priya’s. 
Priya was stunned when Rohan left but she gathered herself and stood there for a few seconds, a little self-talk, she wiped her tears and went to her seat and her friend aka consultant opted a few more traditional ways of consoling her. Everyone around including me digested the moment, few giggled, few ignored and few like me got a topic to think about. 
Before I give another ‘tippni or sujhaav’ on their issue, wait a moment, I watched another couple entering the café and sat next to me. I could very well hear them, yes I have a lot of time. 
“She is ignoring me ha, you know or I guess she is……. I don’t know but why can’t she propose to me? After all she only sent me a request on FB and she added me via Tinder...” the guy addressed the girl who came to have coffee with him, and his looks divided between his phone and the girl. 
“She is a little confused… you know na and she is not good at expressing herself and she is a little shy as well…I know her better than you, she is my best friend.” She stated with all the movements and style she could possibly add including rolling her strands falling on her cheek and staring at the guy with ‘look-at-me-boy’ kind of an intent. 
The guy just nodded in agreement, looking at his cell chatting or may be expecting a reply from his interest half-divided and hoping to hear something pleasant from his friend and then came his friend’s best suggestion.
“…but you don’t worry ha, one day she will kneel down before your love and will admit her feelings for you. Acha chal, let’s buy a gift for her. Come there is a new iPhone in the market…she loves gifts.” she stated in an excitement as if she had a chance of getting one for herself as well, the two left without even ordering something to drink or eat. 
Wow! A gift for the princess! What a wonderful piece of advice!  This is Bollywood stuff. Whether someone is interested or not, ultimately he or she will come to you but you have to keep chasing and making your presence felt by gifting or pinging! I shook my head and finished my coffee which had become cold enough like the relationships I was witnessing in the café. I got up to leave when I heard Priya’s friend’s voice in excitement.  
‘See I have downloaded another application in your phone, now you can rent a boyfriend here.” She said to Priya who beamed with joy as if a new ray of hope has arrived. Without even wiping her tears, she followed her relationship advisor’s advice, took the phone, looked at the profile just like we look at the menu while ordering food, smiled as if she had finalized the order from the menu, looked at her friend as if she just got the right food appealing her taste buds and there she swiped again. I was wondering if that app shows the delivery timelines. 
Amazing! How quickly the love for Rohan has moved on, a right swipe and Rohan was out after installing the new dating application. I wasn’t shocked as none of you would be when you are a part of the 4G apps world, where being fake comes before being real, where being bold comes before being talented, where true love has been replaced by ill and unhealthy feelings. The love is being created today rather being spontaneous or natural. It’s like one is just trying it out like people try a pair of jeans. These are the days where a right swipe in an application decides the love story. I left and saw from outside that Priya and her friend were taking a selfie and Priya was happy. I imagined they will Instagram it right away and get likes and comments like an instant coffee and post would be like: 
‘New Beginning, feeling excited #feelingfresh #bestfriend #lostlove #foundlove #justwow #boyfriend #kissemoticons’ etc. etc. etc.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Youth rejects lucrative offers! You will be shocked by his choice!

‘Why did you reject a job offer?’ Asked my frustrated uncle to his son who just completed his engineering and was offered a hefty package of 6 digits per annum. Rocky urf Ranjeet kumar remained least bothered and preferred concentrating on his PUBG rather replying his dad who repeated the same question finally with a chappal in his hands only to break his son’s concentration who I guess lost the battle of PUBG with same regret as Marathas during the battle of Panipat and counted his father as an invader who broke his concentration by supporting the opposition in an important battle. He got up from his chair, kept the cell in his pocket and without wasting much energy simply replied his dad.

‘Apna time ayega’ and left the scene with a pride and a walk like a branded hero of bollywood as if he has decoded the path to success. The father left bemused with background music of ‘Gully Boy’ in his son’s cell phone.

Gone are the days when majority of 90’s youth dreamt of completing the most popular Bachelor degree as B.TECH and cream wanted to invest in being MBBS. As we entered in 2000 era rightly called RHTDM phase when first decade made few adjustments and inspired youth to be lured towards the Management degrees with MBBS holding its own value as it is. The career choice of the youth was much like the ‘a blind sheep’ when following the crowd was the motto and hefty packages with privileged onsite opportunities were the only destinations that was fed deep into the subconscious minds of younger population.
The definition of success was simple during 90’s aiming for least complicated life style like Surendra Sahni from Bollywood flick, a fixed 9-5 Job in a power house and scooter with wife and kids enjoying best weekend with an occasional movie in theater and pani puri. The definition changed in last years of first decade of 2000 when hefty packages, a big caaaaaaar and an onsite visit faded Surendra Sahni into career oriented ‘Mr X’ yet contributing towards the development of country with his contribution towards the various fields ranging from IT, Telecom, Electronics, Medical and many more.

Then what prompted the son of worried dad saying ‘Apna time ayega’ despite having an offer in one hand and expensive iphone X in other. Well the youth answered himself.
‘I am just following my heart’ adjusting his rapper cap with a silver chain and neatly trimmed beard, he looked rigid and his eyes penetrating deep into my eyes as if questioning my very existence making me little uncomfortable and with an attitude and swag next to Dinchak level. He just looked above and touched the poster of someone out of regard who had rocked the world of fame without any formal education and broke all the barriers of old fashioned trends of attaining the success, I looked at the poster and it was of ‘Dinchak Pooja’. After all majority of youth regarded her as the inspiration and an idol who followed her heart without using brains and deleted the word wisdom from her dictionary and rose to obnoxious fame but setting the trend for youth like Rocky.

He didn’t prefer being questioned about his future plans and platform he might be using for his success but preferred putting it in quotes and words on the social media platform with loads of hashtags. Before I could ask more questions and get to know his mind, like every grown up cousin will do, he excused himself from the “irritating” cousin and pulled his cell from his pocket, adjusting the selfie stick tied to the table and fixing his phone he opened the ‘Tik Tok’ app and recorded his performance just like an executive delivers his business presentation to his esteemed clients. It’s not sure how many rounds of appreciation an executive gets after a presentation but the guy sitting opposite to me got the result within just a few minutes. He showed the hearts and likes of his followers who seemed to be in range of 113k’s, god knows how we have followers of anything and everything.

‘This is life you know bro… I just rock, these people are crazy about me’ he said with an excitement in a videshi accent leaving me with a blank stare wondering ‘Bhaiya’ turned to bro and excitement of delivering presentation and getting rewarded by manager and clients seemed useless to me but I remained patient.
Things changed quickly yet it was a slow change, the fight for survival within the telecom sectors and advancement in technology highlighted the youth of 90’s and 2000’s as unlucky to have missed 3G and 4G era and further various other career options which we could have opted by following so called ‘heart’, we remained silent due to less technological advancement that kept us to landline, pager and max Nokia 3300. But let’s not forget the fact that many of us were contributing towards the technology so that the youth like Rocky can use the platform and find various other unthinkable means to achieve so called “success”.
‘My aim is to become Youth Icon’ he replied with a pride in his loud and arrogant voice and my eyes left wide open wondering about the souls of ‘Steve Jobs’ , ‘Stefan Hawkins’ ,’APJ Abdul kalam’ who if watching this must be wondering just like me.

‘Why not to opt for job after your graduation, you can be an icon in the field you have studied’ I asked humbly with least expectation of getting any favorable reply.
‘I was born creative, education destroyed me’ he said and I couldn’t resist wondering and feeling pity on people who studied for becoming an inspiration. Well no questions or objection on his thoughts and principles of life but it seemed the social media youth is well equipped with self-motivated thoughts, abundance knowledge to counter long lasting traditions of success and handful of icons who have rose to fame with a wink of an eye, I could see another poster on his wall of a wink girl from south. Wow I said to myself ‘The Hardik Pandya generation is all set to rock like my cousin rocky’ How things have deteriorated from Rahul Dravid’s era to Pandya’s.

‘What do you want to become?’ I questioned him politely taking care of his aggressive nature of getting bored of same question, even after his display of followers on social media I was unable to figure out what exactly is the occupation that he is being driven into. He stopped fondling with his cell phone and finally he glared at me again after enjoying hearts from his followers and was visibly confused. I was expecting a quick response and ending the conversation on dead note. He relaxed himself on his revolving chair, scratched his head, mincing his eyes and curving his lips tightly he thought for a moment, I guess he was exploring all the options in his head without any clear picture of what exactly is the destination.

‘I want to be extremely rich and powerful’ he replied and I got my answer, looked at him with gentle look and excused myself as he had to make few more videos for his fans. While leaving the room I saw an offer letter torn apart and another poster of rock star ‘Honey Singh and Badshah’ on his wall and I left with a silent prayer in my heart ‘God Save Our dear Youth’