Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Crossing

The leaves on the solitary tree rustled. He woke up with a slight start. For a while he had forgotten where he was. Then he remembered. He stood up and looked across the road. There she was on the other side, waiting as always. Till date she had never mustered the courage to cross the road. He hoped today would be the day. He longed for her, and even looking at her standing there made him yearn for her touch.
And then he heard it. Coming round the bend on the street. The unmistakable drone of a Corvette V8 engine. How could he ever forget that sound? And then he knew. She would cross the road today. He would hold her again. He walked ahead.

She heard it too. And it sent a shiver down her spine. How she longed to cross that stretch of tarmac and walk across to him. She saw the pain in his eyes each time he looked at her. But she had tried to cross, and failed. And when she heard that sound again, she took a step backwards. Her brown eyes clouded with fear.

Alan’s fingers drummed the tune on the steering wheel. He cranked the radio up a notch. They were playing his favourite song again. He smiled to himself. The judge had ruled in his favour. It wasn’t his fault. Who would have expected it?
His mind went back a week. The second day in his shiny new Corvette. And it had been such a long day at work. He was getting home as quick as he could. Sheila would be mad at him for being so late again. He stepped on the gas pedal ever so slightly and the car jumped ahead. She was such a beauty. He was now doing 70 in a 45mph zone. But it was 11 at night and the cops didn’t frequent this stretch of road.
He came to the turn near the little hillock. One tree hill, it was aptly named. He usually slowed down for this sharp turn. But heck, he had a Corvette. This car was meant to eat up roads. He went around the bend at 60. And there she was, about to cross the road. For a moment his headlights had illuminated her face. Eyes open wide in sheer terror. He had braked hard, but it was too late. And then he had heard the sickening thud and felt his wheels run over her delicate frame. He somehow stopped the car after about 20 feet. Getting out he walked back. He grimaced when he saw her lifeless body at the side of the road. He had turned around to go back and it was then that he had seen him. On the other side of the road. He was standing very still. And then he had seen the eyes. They were fixed on Alan. They were following his every step. And even in their silence they were accusing him. That’s when he had panicked and run to his car, started it and zoomed off.
He shook his head as he approached the same turn again. He was only doing 40 today. He turned round the bend and for a moment felt a sense of déjà vu. There she was again! How was it possible? But then he saw the huge antlers. It wasn’t her. It was him. He would never forget those eyes. So mesmerized was he that he didn’t even brake. Neither did he hear the thud or feel the wheels run over the body. He didn’t flinch as his car crossed the shoulder and hit the boulder straight ahead. All he saw was the eyes. And then the darkness.

Alan opened his eyes. It was bright outside. He felt strangely relaxed. How had he fallen asleep in the car? He looked at the boulder in front of his car. It seemed to be a part of the car now. And then he saw her. She was looking at him with a hint of sadness in her eyes. As he watched, she crossed the road and walked across to him. He was still standing on the other side. They both seemed to be hale and hearty! Something wasn’t right here. And then he knew. He screamed. But there was only silence.
There was a soft breeze blowing. The leaves on the solitary tree rustled.

This is inspired by the innumerable gory roadkills that I have come across during my travels in the US of A. No one spares a second thought for these unfortunate victims of human encroachment.
Putting it in the form of a story was inspired by this blog.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Been There, Done That…Niagara

Niagara Falls, NY (May 27 – 29, 2007)

The Place: The supposed lesser glamorous view of the river gushing down 200 feet with all its might. The Canadian side is supposed to have a better view but I don’t know about that.

The Path Travelled: A ten hour drive from downtown Chicago with two stops on the way. Picturesque surroundings greet one as the I-90 winds through Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and then on to New York.

The Lodging: Super 8 Motel, about 3 miles away from the falls. Reasonable prices, free Wi-Fi and great location. However breakfast leaves a lot to be desired.

The Sights to See: The falls (of course!), Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Whirlpool Jet Boat, Goat Island and all it has to offer. Night lighting in summer and fireworks on Fridays and Sundays.

The Experience: The falls are the experience. The sheer volume and intensity of the river as it falls onto the rocks below can only be felt in person. And when one is surrounded by the noise and the mist, one suddenly feels very small and vulnerable. Just that makes the whole trip worth it.

The Damp Squibs: An advice to most is to not go there during any national holidays. The place is packed with Indians and we create our own little world of chaos and disorder. You might miss the rides due to huge lines and it’s really not worth ruining the experience.
The so called tour guides are mostly rip-offs. It is much more economical and saves time if you see everything yourself.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

I Have Learnt...

After a long hiatus I am back to blogging. In the interim I have managed to get myself a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering. The journey has been quite tough, as all such journeys are. However this one has been characterized by a wide array of obstacles, educational, professional and even personal. And today I am at a stage where I can look back at those days of strife and smile. It is not that I have made it in life or something. Far from it in fact. Right now I am just content to say that I have learnt valuable lessons over these 20 odd months in the US of A; regarding my abilities, my shortcomings, the people around me, my interactions with them and myself.
The details of all that would not interest most readers and hence I will omit them. However I would give out some unsolicited advice. I have learnt that the best of people are fallible. That ignoring our troubles does not drive them out of our lives. I have learnt that we most often give up when we are one step away from success. And it is the people who persist and take that last step that are the ones who obtain the success they have strived for. I have learnt that life owes us nothing, and it pretty much treats some of us that way at times. However it is the indomitable human spirit that takes us through such times. And even if life shatters all of our dreams, it is the power to dream again that makes us look forward to a new day. Each and every time.