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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Short Story : Knowledge Transfer

Since I can't think of anything to blog these days, here's another story written two years back :)

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Dawn had not yet broken over the city. It was a cool morning but the day ahead promised to be a hot and sweltry one. Pedaling hard on his rickety old cycle, the boy turned in to the main road, emerging from a maze of side-streets - somewhere in the middle of which was his home. It was a bit too early for him to be up, but he needed to get to work early.

He could see that the kerosene lamp at the news mart was lit - the owner was there already then. The sound of the newspaper truck grew louder as it came nearer; the boy felt the rush of wind as it overtook him. He heard the sound of the bundles of newspapers slamming on to the pavement as he reached the store. Cold fresh morning air – for all the pollution in the city, somehow the earth managed to give her children a clean start everyday. ‘Odd, how she manages to do that’, the boy thought idly as he jerked the cycle back on its parking stand and locked it.


The owner walked out of the store carrying a little stool and a notebook. He glanced at the boy “In so early?” He asked as he settled down on the stool and started untying the bundle of papers. The boy didn’t answer. He just settled down on the pavement and began helping. “The new fellow should be here soon”, the owner continued, “You have another half an hour before you need to start out anyway and…”.

“Have to get started early today. It’ll take time to show him everything today”, the boy interrupted.

The owner fell silent and the two of them sorted out the bundles of papers. They were just about done when the tower clock stuck an early hour. The boy could see another cyclist coming up the road. “The new chap”, he thought to himself. It was. The newcomer parked his cycle near the boy’s and walked over to the owner. The boy turned away and began stacking the bundles up. He could hear the owner talking to the new chap. Soon he called the boy over and introduced them. The boy took in the other – He was a little fellow, couldn’t have been more than 12 years old. “I was even more young when I started”, the boy thought with a fierce pride rushing through him. The Owner was saying, “He’s been doing that route for 5 years now. It’s his last day today. He’ll show you the houses. Note everything down. Don’t miss any house. It’s early today. From tomorrow you can come in half an hour later than this. That second bundle is yours. You’ll be delivering it in about 12 streets. You know the area right? You won’t get lost or something? Oh! you live here only, don’t you? Ok then…Get going.”

“Come” the boy called out as he walked to the bundle of papers. The little fellow was at his heels at once. The boy picked up the bundle of papers and separated them into two. He pushed one bundle over to the little fellow “Tie this on your cycle carrier. Get some rope from the owner”. The boy finished tying his bundle on the cycle carrier and turned to the other cycle. The little fellow had exactly copied the way he had tied the bundle himself and was looking at his face eagerly waiting for more instructions.

The owner called out, “Come back later to get your wages settled”. The boy thought for a moment and asked “Can I take it now? I’m leaving in the afternoon.” The Owner nodded and motioned to him to come into the shop. He checked the details in a ledger and counted out the bank notes. He added an extra 50 rupees from his pocket and handed it to the boy “There you are, all settled. Count it and sign here”. The boy signed and closed the ledger, the pen still marking the page inside. “Thanks for the extra money. I’ll go home after we finish the route. Tell the other boys also. I’m leaving in the afternoon.” he said. The owner patted him on the shoulder and said gruffly, “You’ve been a good worker. You’ll be fine, boy. Go on now.” He would miss the boy- it wasn’t often that he got quiet, hard working chaps like him.

The boy went out and saw that the little fellow was already seated on the cycle, one foot on the pedal and the other balanced against the pavement, idly pedaling back and forth while he waited. The boy found that he resented this. The kid was, by chance, facing the direction he usually set out on the route. The boy unlocked and turned his cycle around to face the other way. “This way”, he said and the kid hastily turned around. The boy started off in front and the kid followed. With half the papers on the little fellow’s cycle, the boy found it easier to pedal. He could see that the little fellow wasn’t used to the load. He wondered if the kid realized that from the next day, it would only be harder, carrying the entire load. The Sunday papers would be even heavier. The magazines were the worst of the lot – He’d then have balance two bags of magazines slung from his handlebars also. The boy slowed down a bit so that the kid could catch up.

After twisting through many side lanes they reached the first house. The boy stopped. The kid parked his cycle and came over, pulling out a sheet of paper and pencil from his pocket. “One Hindu and one Dhina Malar here everyday. Kumudham every week.” The kid diligently noted all this and wrote down the door number and street name. Then he picked out the papers from his bundle and opening the gate left them at the front step of the house. The boy was starting to pedal on when the kid came back. He hadn’t told the kid that the house owner always wanted the paper to be properly folded and slipped into the grillwork.

A few streets away, they reached the road where most of the customers stayed. He stopped in front of a huge apartment. The boy came back to him and noted down all the details as he rattled them off “There are three buildings here. First building Ground floor – 1A Hindu and Economic times. 2A Hindu alone. First floor 5A Dhina Malar, Anandha Vikatan and Kumudham. 6A – Hindu and Mangayar Malar. Second Floor 9A Hindu and Indian Express, Tinkle and Chandamama, 10A Hindu, Economic Times, Business India and India Today. In the next building Ground floor 2B take Hindu and Sunday times. 4B Indian Express and Dhina Thanthi, Second floor 10B Hindu and Gokulam, Chandamama, 11B Hindu and India Today. In the third building Ground Floor…..” he went on.

The little fellow looked at the long list and hoping that he hadn’t missed out anything, counted out a huge bundle of papers. It took him nearly 20 minutes to deliver the papers there. He came out, slightly out of breath from climbing the stairs. The boy had been leaning against gate talking to the watchman. He watched as the kid drank some water after asking the watchman. They started off again. Behind them, in the third building the man in flat 12A had let his dog out. The kid had left the newspapers resting against the door of each flat, on the floor. The Pomeranian created a mess on two of the papers. In the floor below, it ripped two of the newspapers apart. The boy had not told the kid to make sure he slid the papers under the door for everyone in the third building.

The little fellow dropped off the tamil newspapers in the third house. He came back and they set off – the boy had seen the other car there, he did not tell the kid that if that happened, he had to ring the bell and ask if they wanted the English paper as well. At the next stop, the kid went to the first floor to leave the newspaper at the door. The boy didn’t tell him that the owner preferred to find the paper thrown on to the balcony from the street.

All the things that he had missed out would make life terrible for his successor for the next few days. Then he too would learn. On his own. Alone. This was the first job that the boy had held. He remembered all the difficulties he had faced in those five years. The things he had learnt had not come easily, handed on a platter. It had taken scoldings, angry customers, missed newspapers, late deliveries, wrong deliveries of the past 5 years to be what he was that day. He knew that his customers were a satisfied lot. He had treated it as more than just a paper route. His aim had not been to deliver the papers in the morning. He had delivered them right when and in the way that people wanted it. He was how they all began their day.

He had planned out a careful route to cover them all, leaving the late risers at the end of the route. He had taken care not to irritate the elderly men who woke up early and fretted if they couldn’t read the paper before their coffee, by putting them in at the beginning of the route. Today he had taken a different route totally. The kid would now have to figure it all out on his own.

He had not told the little fellow about the little girl in the previous street who insisted on his ringing the bell to wake her up if he was delivering the comic books. Nor about the old lady in this last house who asked him to read out the headlines to her as the others in the house woke up pretty late. In many such small ways he had inter-twined himself into his customers’ lives. He did not feel that the kid had a right to that. The kid would have to build his own way of working and would bring something of his life into the others’ lives. But the kid should not mean the same thing to the people as the boy had.

He could not bear the thought that tomorrow morning he would not be doing this. That someone would step into his shoes. He had the obligation to pass on his knowledge to the little fellow. But he somehow couldn’t bear to be replaced by another that fast and that easily. Atleast for the next week or two, he would be missed. He knew what he was doing wasn’t right. But, he wanted to know that there would be people whose lives would be a little difficult or at least unpleasantly different for awhile.

Insecurity? Yes. Most probably. That basic human need for feeling wanted. The need to be a part of another’s life. For most people, it is that link that gives them a feeling of worth. God! How sick it sounds when I put it down on paper. But it is true. It is another’s appreciation that makes us feel good. Somehow, an unappreciated effort doesn’t seem to have as much value for us. What others see in us means more to us than what we see in ourselves. How much power do we bestow upon our fellow beings! And how easy is it for them to hurt us. The power to create our happiness no longer lies within us. It lies in hands of all those who surround us. People, who are most probably damned indifferent anyway, are the ones we depend on to let us experience the flavor of joy.

Won’t it be wonderful to meet someone who wasn’t insecure about himself? Someone who doesn’t need another person’s sanction to feel a justified pride in his achievements. A person who is so secure in his knowledge of his worth that he needs no reassurance from those around him? Someone, who doesn’t suffer from the illusions that seem to blind most people? Someone who realizes that he is dispensable in most situations and is able handle that truth and all its implications? Someone who, despite the implications of that truth, finds a joy in his life and in living it? Does such a person exist somewhere? A man who does not need others – a purely self-contained individual.

It actually makes no sense – the way we hold on to the past. Why was the boy doing this? Selfishness, perhaps. Maybe mixed with a lot of fear too. Was he was afraid that this was the best he could be. Clinging on to the past probably gave him a false sense of security --- the past is so comforting, isn’t it? Pathetic …Pathetic….. . Scared humans walking all around, guarding their territories like dogs do. Why does the human heart crave permanence everywhere? Everything is so fleeting – fame, failure, success, love, hate, money, achievement…everything. Why do we keep trying to hold on to it all? It all seems so desperate. As if we are trying to achieve immortality by resisting all the changes in life.

Tomorrow, the boy would be miles away and would have no way of knowing it, even if he were missed. But at least he would be safe in his ignorance of reality; free to imagine whatever he pleased, about the situation in the place he was now leaving. He could see that the kid was sharp and would soon be doing just fine at the job. Perhaps he would do better. He would learn to fold the newspapers properly so that he could throw it properly; he’d figure out the correct route and understand people’s needs and preferences. He would gradually entwine into the lives of his customers. The boy didn’t want to think about it. He just wanted to get his last day at work, over with.

It took a long time. But some time later, the cycle carriers were empty. The boy turned to the kid at the last house after delivering the paper. “That’s all. You have written down the whole list right?” The little fellow nodded. The boy checked it once to make sure he had not missed out any paper for any house and then handed the paper back. That was the only thing he would pass on to the kid.

Nothing more. Nothing less.
Read More......

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The death and life of a rose

The girl was in a hurry, I suppose. She had to struggle a bit to get off the train as people outside tried to get on at the same time. As she made it out of the bunch of people crowding at the doors, the rose fell off. A beautiful red rose, more a bud than a flower. The girl had not noticed. I watched the rose and hence the people.

A man walked briskly down the platform with a large suitcase in hand - he almost didn't see it. Then when he did, he fumbled awkwardly in his desperation to avoid stepping on it. He even turned back to make sure he hadn't crushed it. So did everyone else who came along. They all sidestepped the rose so carefully. The fat lady with large shopping bags, the children who walked holding their father’s hands, the lovers who walked holding each other’s,..everyone. They even gave others sufficient warning so that they wouldn’t step on it.

And the rose? It just lay there, letting the world treat it as a queen and a whore at the same time.

Maybe something would happen to it by mistake? And it did. The man rushed to catch the train, dragging his suitcase behind him. It was the luggage that did it – he noticed the wobble as one wheel went over the bud, tearing some of the petals. He paused to see and I fancy he hesitated the tiniest bit. But he had a train to catch, maybe friends and family waited at the other end of the journey. He shrugged away his guilt and rushed on. A child with a pre-occupied mother, picked it up then. How must that caress have felt? I felt a faint upsurge – must have been hope. But, mother snatched it away with a scolding. The child being only a child, was quickly occupied with a colourful poster. The rose now lay crumbled. The child’s hold too seemed to have damaged it more. Or was the damage because mother snatched it away?

How did it matter? The damage was done. After that, no one hesitated, no one changed their step, no one glanced back. Shoes, slippers, luggage and bare feet -they all pressed the flower into the hard concrete. Till it died. Thankfully, the sweeper came over soon, removed the carcass and hid it away in a dustbin.

Poor darling, it wasn’t your fault. How would you have known that you couldn’t let go for even an instant? That you should have clung on, with even a single fibre of your self. Some stranger may have alerted the girl and she may have saved you. Everyone would have admired you at the girl’s office. If only you had known enough to hold on. But you fell. How were they to know that you weren’t thrown away?

Oh! But, I knew. And even I didn’t save you. What a damned life you had.

I must give you life now. In the only way I can. Here. In my words. From my heart. Read More......

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Story: Social Networking

I am very preachy. I don't practice what I preach. I'm posting this because otherwise I'll kill it in my drafts folder.
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Social Networking

'Ding Ding Ding', the doorbell buzzed insistently.

Priya turned away from the computer with a little frown on her face - now, who could that be, on a Sunday morning?

'Priyaaa! Open up!' a voice yelled from outside followed by a furious banging on the door.

Priya’s eyes widened in surprise as she recognized the voice - 'Meghna!'. Priya rushed to open the door to a smiling face. Shrieks and hugs followed of course.


'When did you get back? I had no idea you were coming, you idiot!'

'Of course, you didn't know. No one did. It was a surprise to my parents too!' Meghna laughed as she tossed her bag to a corner of the room.

'Oh you are so completely stupid.' Priya said grabbing her friend from behind and kicking every bit she could. The depth of the friendship should be apparent from the shrieks and the liberal physical ‘affection’ expressed.

Finally they were done with saying hello and sat up to take a good look at each other.

'You've lost weight.' said Priya eying her friend critically. 'But, what's with the stupid hairstyle?'

Meghna punched her - 'You don't look so hot yourself, baby! I headed out to CCD yesterday evening like any sane Saturday expecting to see all of you and only Vijay and Ranjan were there. You haven't been hanging out with them for the last few weeks they tell me? What's happened?'

Priya made a face. 'Nothing happened, Megs! I just don't feel like hanging out - that’s all.'

Meghna rolled her eyes impatiently 'OK. You can probably tell me in two sentences, but you won't and now I've got to drag it out of you over the next few hours. OK. I'm game. Got anything to eat? I'm starving.'

'You are always saying that. I'll make you something. You want coffee too, I suppose?'

'Of course, dear. What's a chat without that?' Meghna fiddled with the music system while Priya was in the kitchen. She soon had Boy zone playing softly in the background.

'Hmmm...Still not gotten over your crush on Ronan Keating, I see.' Priya remarked when she heard the music.

'You still drool over George Clooney, don't you?' Meghna retorted as she continued her inspection of the room. 'Your computer is still on - do you want me to shut it down? Oh hey, you are digging through Orkut. Who is this girl - Vani?'

Priya walked in with a tray and said mysteriously. 'Guess.'

What?' Meghna said absentmindedly as she picked up a cup of coffee ' I know this girl? Really? I can't remember. Did I know her well?'

'Well enough to sit behind her in class for two years.' Priya said smiling as she picked up her own coffee cup.

Meghna's jaw dropped in shock. 'No way!' She said in a hushed tone ' Are you seriously telling me that this is Madhuvani?'

'The one and only' Priya confirmed. She thoroughly enjoyed the shock on Meghna's face as she tried to figure out how the fabulous girl in the picture could possibly be the geeky girl in specs and oiled pigtails from their school.

'They've all changed, you know.' Priya said softly as she took over the mouse 'Almost everyone. Remember Krishna - all pranks and jokes? He's married. Preetham - the quiet guy whom we thought would end up in a dusty office somewhere? He designs cars for a living. Vidya? She's cut off all that beautiful hair and has turned as modern as she used to be traditional. Ritu - you won't believe the kind of paintings this girl does. Ranjith - he's lost weight, see? Looks stunning now, doesn't he? Asha - she's married with a kid. Chandrika - having a great time in the US from the pics. Lavanya - all happy and smiling with her fiance. And Madhav at a fabulous holiday at London. Jenny in Australia doing an MBA. Bharath is doing a PhD'

Meghna put her cup of coffee down and stared at her best friend of fourteen years. 'Priya...', she interrupted gently.

Priya stopped the clicking and after a pause clicked on a last link bringing her back to her own page. 'Priya? Still in the same city. Working a boring job. No fabulous holidays to show off. No great changes to shock people.'

'That's what this is about, Priya?' Meghna asked softly and moved closer to hug her friend.

'No. Not this. Atleast, not just this. I just feel all empty. As if there is nothing to do or something stupid like that. Look at them, Meghna! Look at all the cool things they've done. I want them to look at me and say wow, Meghna. Just like I'm doing now.'

Meghna sighed. 'Priya, you can't take the stuff people put on Social Networking sites at face value.'

Priya smiled a sad smile. 'This is how people keep in touch, Meghna. This is how you know what is going on in their lives. This stuff is the truth, not lies.'

Meghna snapped rather irritated, 'Don't be such an imbecile. All this Orkut and face book and stuff - they are people's happy pages. People share their lives here only when they are happy. They disappear off the face of the earth when they are not. Or maybe they become passive readers when they are sad - like you are doing now. Maybe some also try to reach out to long forgotten friends to remember happier times. But, only the happy moments are for the public. Sadness is always private and dealt with alone or with a few friends for company.'

‘I mean - people share news of their wedding, a great new job, additions to the family, got my own car and so on. But, we don't say things like 'My boss hates me. Work is a nightmare.' or 'I'm sick. I wake up more miserable each day' or 'I lost someone so dear to me that it left this gaping hole in my life.'

‘No. These websites are there for the happy times. They are meant for showcasing perfection. This is a great trip I took to xyz. This is a pic of me with my company's top brass. This is my new house. My marriage pics. My new car. Me doing this absolutely amazing thing. The perfect pic of me which makes me look tall, thin, confident and happy in a casual way.’

Meghna’s voice seemed a bit different towards the end - softer, more thoughtful. Priya glanced up to see a frown on her friend’s face. Meghna shook herself out of the brief reverie and continued.

‘It’s just human - wanting to project perfection. Oh! We probably have friends who know exactly what is going on. But, to everyone else, our lives are apparently blissful - moving from one achievement to another. It really is not that way, you know. People studying now probably have a huge loan to pay. They may actually hate the place they are in, the people they are with, the routine they are stuck in. Seemingly happy faces have their hidden troubles. Sure, they’ve done this. But it couldn’t have come easily. They must have given up something to gain the things you envy.’

‘Why don’t you make these sites a source of your information and inspiration instead of envy? You like the things you see? Go and try it.’

Meghna stopped speaking abruptly. Priya sat slumped in her chair aimlessly scrolling through another website. But she was listening. Meghna gently turned Priya’s chair so that they faced each other. ‘Don’t let people’s achievements make them seem too big in your eyes. Don’t be scared to reach out to them because of their achievements. It doesn’t matter, Priya. They are as human as you are.’

Priya sighed. ‘I was just being stupid, I guess.’

That evening, they were back at CCD. Pictures were clicked. Oddly enough, this time, Meghna didn’t ‘pose’ for any. The group laughed and spilt coffee all over the place. The next day, the ‘real’ pictures were up on Orkut. Two months later, Priya went on her first trek.
Read More......

Friday, March 06, 2009

One for sorrow; Two for joy..

I'm in the gym - one of my rare spurts of enthusiasm. I huff and puff on the stepper feeling rather annoyed at the girl using the next machine at twice the difficulty level. I look down to see the timer on the machine as it ticks down. When I look up again, it is there - outside, hopping around on the grass. It waits till it is sure I have seen it and then flies away. A pure black crow - the jungle crow

'One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a...'

We used to sing in school. It is the magpie song. I wonder if there are magpies in India. We always sang it for the bigger jungle crows - the blacker ones. I just call them magpies now. It is gone now. I haven't stopped exercising. Auto mode, I suppose. It's OK - just something stupid that kids come up with. I wish I could forget those first two lines forever. I don't have to be scared then. It isn't like the fear you have when you are chased - not the racing heart kind. This is like a grey cloud that seems to hang there whenever you glance up - threatening to rain, making you hurry towards your destination.

I am on the lookout for sorrow today. Not sorrow, just anything bad actually. It is worse this time because there is already something that I am dreading - a difficult meeting with a lot of emotions attached. What are you saying, magpie? Is it going to go wrong. Again? Show me tomorrow, God.

Wait. That's not till tomorrow. Now, if I see one today, then the bad stuff has to happen today, right? I mean, there has to be some rule of that kind. Yeah. That's it. No problem. I can deal with that. As long as it isn't tomorrow. Please let it not be about tomorrow. So stupid.

Done at gym. No major damage. Caught the office bus on time. No major traffic jams. Nothing goes wrong at home. I double and triple check the lock, the taps and switches. I reach well in time at the travels office for my bus to my hometown. I settle down and sigh. If something doesn't go wrong soon, my theory on the effects lasting only for a day would be blown. Then I realize that I paid a few rupees extra for the auto by mistake and the auto driver didn't bother to be honest.

So, this is it? A small loss - is this really it? I can't decide whether to believe or not. But the bus arrives on time, very few passengers too. Midnight must have struck when I was fast asleep, The day is past. And so is the cloud?

***


On the way to the meeting. The familiar feeling of uneasiness in the stomach. It's OK. I look forward to it being over. I know that this will go away then. Practice. It takes about an hour to get there. My book isn't interesting enough. I glance out at the wrong time again. This one is dragging something out of a dustbin. That sinking feeling again. No. Please. No. Why today? But there it was. Of course it all went wrong. Someday, I hope to control my emotions. Today, I couldn't. I stack things up so carefully in the corner - then I forget about it for some time. Then it all tumbles down again. It was the magpie that did it.

But wait. That was nothing majorly different. Only, it kind of got to me this time. Is it over yet? Anything more to worry about? Deepen the frown lines, streak a few more strands white. Can't be over yet. Just the beginning then? Hey, how about showing up with a friend now and giving me some hope?

***


Another day, I haven't seen one. Maybe one of them that I saw and didn't notice was a lonely Magpie? Had to be. It can't have gone wrong all by itself. Wait. Today's problem is because of a mistake a month ago. It must be because one I saw then.

Sometimes it is big. Sometimes it is tiny. But it happens. One for sorrow. Two for joy. It all happens.

See? The perfect theory - it explains everything. You can't disprove it, can you?

Oh, right. You. So sad.

If you didn't read my story, and hadn't heard the rhyme before, you could have lived in peace. Now, the magpies will be after you too. They are such clever birds.

Sorry about that. NOM. Read More......

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

At the movies...

I don't quite understand why people look at you as if you are crazy if you go to watch a movie alone. I'll admit it is nice to have company sometimes - more comfortable if you have people you know around you. It's especially good to have company for bad movies - you think of so many clever things to say and you need someone to say it to. But, in general, watching a movie isn't a social experience like a picnic is. It is a personal thing - like reading a book. I discovered the joy of movies very late. School and most of college went by without any special interest in them. Nowadays, as much as I like movies, I prefer to watch them at home. The theatre is an occasional treat. You can't let some things become too common if they have to remain special. Besides, it is more expensive on the weekends. :)

The faint smell of popcorn hits me three floors below - I'll always associate The Forum with that mixed smell of coffee, cookies, popcorn and chicken. The weekend crowds don't make it easy to ride the escalators. I head for the stairs instead. There are couples sitting on the stairs, chatting. Third floor. I look at all the posters, pick a movie and buy the ticket. I almost always manage to get a good seat even at the last moment if it isn't the opening weekend - they always have room for one. I pick up a Pepsi sometimes. Today I'm in the third row from the top.

I find my seat and settle down. I love the largeness of a movie theatre. I like it that the ceiling goes so high, that the walls have this curtain like material, that it always feels the same inside despite it being day or night or summer or winter outside. The preview trailers of upcoming releases are always interesting to watch on the big screen. It must be quite an art - making those trailers. Ever notice how even the worst movie looks ok on the trailer? Yeah...those people are good at picking out bits and pieces to create a few tantalizing moments. The ads are a pain, though - especially the jewellery ads. Sometimes, they repeat the same ad a few times in a row - really boring.

And then, the lights dim down slowly as the boy on the moon tosses his fishing line down. The theater itself puts up quite a show apart from the movie that's playing. Very dramatic - the dimming of the lights, the torches of the ushers, the elevated sensation of hearing and sight, the smallness of your self and the final silence of the crowd. Sometimes a prankster hoots to annoy the others.

The story begins and it goes on - sometimes all twisty, sometimes straight. There are all kinds of movies and zillions of scenes. The big screen works best for me when the scenes show places and crowds than a few main people - like an expanse of water, the mountains, the streets of a city, the view from a chopper, city lights at night. Some scenes are sound intensive - bombs falling, music, storms, monsters growling, people screaming - you know the like, when the sound is so intensive that you can feel it physically, the kind that makes you shiver a bit.

I see the people around me in silhoutte when there is some light from the screen. A couple watches cuddled up together, a child holds on to someone and is almost asleep, a man takes out his crying baby, leaving his wife to watch, a bunch of friends giggle and comment at everything going on, families with stern fathers who make sure that the ladies are not sitting next to strange men, people laden with shopping bags block the whole row and then there are loners who just watch and write blogs later. Popcorn bags rustle around me, ice cubes in the Pepsi rattle in my cup as I take an occasional sip.

In the theatre, I let myself laugh aloud. I don't cry at every sad thing, but I do sometimes tear up. I stick my fingers in my ears when the sound or suspense gets unbearable. I also cower down a bit when i expect something bad to happen suddenly - like when they don't show the monster or the murderer and show the possible victim instead. I don't do all this when watching the movie at home, of course. I don't care about the crowd around me - I have oohed and aaahed and wowed and awwwwed and gasped and almost squealed.

There are movies where the climax is played in slow motion and a complete lack of general noise. The pistol shot is so clear and the only sound you hear. Sometimes it is the beep of a heart monitor. Or a person falling or a clock ticking. And there is silence all around you as well. I like that. I stretch as the lights come back on again as the credits being to roll. People don't usually stay to read the credits unless there are some gag reels \ songs \ something special playing. Pity, really - those poor souls who worked so hard and we don't care.

I'm swept along with the stream of people as they move towards the exit. Suddenly, I'm outside and the treat is over. There is just the sorry old world waiting. Read More......