A Car Ride of Reflections

Prologue

This short story is close to my heart. I had written it back when I was doing my Bachelors hence the points mentioned in the end are privy to my thoughts during that period of my life. The location is original and based on the place where I grew up and incidents are based on true experiences, but not necessarily in one day and in the same order. The aims and goals expressed in the post are something I’m still working on achieving as a habitual entity, but hope to master completely someday. But in the meantime, I hope this post helps us all including myself, to remember to always be grateful for what we have.

The Car Ride

It was 12 o’ clock in the afternoon and I was in a very bad mood, on my way to university for 12:50 sociology class. And yet, here I was, stuck in my car, in a never-ending traffic jam Tejgaon. I don’t understand why this happens to me. No matter how hard I try, I always wind up getting late. On top of that, this terrible heat in Dhaka isn’t making things any better. Why is it so hot?

“Karim bhai, A/C ta barai den toh!”

“Karim bhai, can you please turn up the A/C?”  I said irritably.

Suddenly there was a loud knocking on my window. I slid it down and looked into the face of a bleak little beggar boy.

“Apa duida taka den na, khida lagse.”

“Sister can you give me two bucks, I’m hungry.” he whined.

Considering that I was already in a grumpy state of mind, I was in no mood for rehearsed beggar tantrums.

“Jah, ekhan theke, amar kache nai!”

“Go away, I don’t have it!” I replied irritated and callously and closed the window.

The child continued to knock a few more times and then left.

Not having anything else to do or read, I looked outside the window. Everyone around was busy with their lives, hustling to go to work, chit chatting with friends and colleagues or sipping tea in tea stalls. Suddenly my gaze turned towards a thin scrawny man pulling  a morbid looking cart a few feet ahead. The man was constantly perspiring in the heat and the cart he was pulling, accommodated a steel carton filled with ghastly garbage. I watched as the man encountered a break in the ride as he came upon a dug-up area of the road, because of which he to steer the vehicle around the area. He then waited a fair few minutes for the cars zooming past him to stop, so that he could get the space to move on and continue ahead his way. I stared blankly after him.

My attention was soon diverted by a young rickshaw puller in his twenties, driving with one hand. With a shock I noticed he was missing his right hand. The despairing image froze before my eyes and I realized that I had started to have a nagging feeling in my heart, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.

We then entered Gulshan. Intending to erase the previous image from my head, I looked away, as we stood stuck in a fresh batch of traffic. Unexpectedly, the next significant thing that caught my eye was a long line of people, standing in the scorching heat, in the bus stand near Gulshan 1 market. Instantly I was reminded of my own once-in-a-blue moon bus ride, a few months back.

My project group mates and I needed to go to Ashulia to check out a site and take pictures. But my friends didn’t own a car and mine was in the workshop, so we decided to take the bus. It was my first time in a local bus. We managed to get the women’s seat and we sat down thankfully. It was excessively hot. Soon it was time to get down from that bus and catch the one that would take us to Ashulia. But this time we couldn’t get the women’s seats or any seat for that matter. Hence we had to stand in the midst of the crowd while the bus drove on, speeding and stopping unceremoniously. The local men kept bumping into me, more intentionally than unintentionally and I got aggravated. Since I wasn’t used to it, my friends sensed my distress and as soon as a seat got empty, they made me sit down. Upon finally reaching the site, I was relieved that the abhorrent ride was over.

The sound of a car horn brought me back to the present day. I looked back at the bus stand. The people were still standing in line in the blistering heat and humidity. Waiting.

We entered Baridhara. Here the usual environment seemed somewhat different. It is a calm, posh neighborhood where the more financially stable population lives. Soon, I would enter Bashundhara, reach late to class, get reprimanded by the professor, and then nevertheless, life would go on.

But that wasn’t the case this time. The nagging feeling in my heart grew stronger, and for the remaining car ride, I pondered silently about many many things.

I once read an article by a girl where she had said something I will always remember and commemorate. She had said that in the different sides of the same car window, two completely different worlds exist. Today, I felt the true effect of her words.

Epilogue

We spend so much time in our lives complaining on and on about our silly, frivolous problems and so little time appreciating all the phenomenal things that we have been blessed with. In the midst of studies, work, friends, parties, crushes and so on, there are many of us who forget that there are people who deal with thousand times bigger hardships and struggles than our casual, petty problems. They still fight tooth and nail everyday to survive in this ruthless, acrid, discordant world. What would we have done if we were born to live the life of the man who was pulling a cart full of our garbage? Or how we would feel if we had to pull the rickshaw day and night with only one hand, or if we were to stand hungrily on the outside of the car window begging people for money with our hands folded. Because we would have no choice but to accept their loathsome behavior since we can’t shout back at them the way we shout at our parents? What would we do if we had to stand in line for hours on end every day, to wait for a cheaper transport because we cannot afford it, or we need to save money for our/dear one’s treatment. What could we do, if as women we had to collide into strange men and be uncomfortable throughout the entire journey as the bus glides and stops through a series of traffic jams, generating more interpersonal collision. How would we have handled it?

The list is endless. Those people are fighters; they go through unimaginable hassles because they are not blessed like us and have to live a life of constant peril, poverty, health issues or income problems. It could have been me. If I had to live their lives, I would come back crying to my mother saying that it’s impossible to accept such daily incomprehensible pain. Yet people are fighting everyday.

It is a shame I am writing this article today but I am not doing anything on my part to help those poor people who deal with poverty throughout their lives. I hope I remember to acknowledge and appreciate my truly blessed life regularly, and someday contribute to society in a major way and help those who need it. As Mahatma Gandhi very wisely said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” And I hope to do just that.

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The funny story that’s called life

Okay, so this is my first blog post. It’s a little long as per my habit forever, but with time I will try my best to keep them short and precise.

Every experience has a first time- that’s very important to remember. Especially when one is scared and nervous. But I’m also trying to avoid procrastination, so the key to that is do and not think. Which means write and not think. But also, think before you write of course.

I think a little background is necessary here. The reason I started writing a blog. I’ve hit this time in my life where I’ve had some major changes in the way I think, the way I perceive everything around me, the very way I see myself even. And this change didn’t happen overnight; in fact it is still happening (because evolution is a continuous process). But also, it wasn’t easy getting here.

I was the kind of person who always focused on the negatives in life. Whatever was going wrong, whatever dreams that didn’t take shape, whatever issues I was dealing with, and the fact that everyone around me seemed to live a life that I would have loved for myself. And I was that way for 28 years.

But here’s the thing, and I realized this after I temporarily left the world of mystery novels and started reading some self help books. That life for you is going to be whatever way you view it as. It’s like what you see when you put on a pair of coloured glasses, and the world suddenly becomes all colourful. Take that out, and your back to your regular visions.

So if I choose to focus on the negatives, I will only see the negatives. If I choose the positives, I will only see the positive side of everything. Well, as much as possible anyway. Because seeing positivity in everything is like a habit that needs to be developed, it will not come naturally. As humans, we tend to see the worst not the best.

Coming back to the changes in life that lead to this decision of a blog, I mentioned that it was a tough journey to reach this place in life. When you’ve had major crappy moments in life leading to heartbreaks, disappointments, disruptions, arguments, stress, anxiety, and many other negative reactions; at one point, you realize the simple truth, that you must let go in order to survive. Either that, or try to remember only the good things that came out of it, and forget the rest.

For me, this epiphany got to the point where one day, after listening to a music that touched me immensely, I actually smiled to myself when I thought about all the crap that I’ve gone through in my life. Like I was actually grateful. ME. Out of all the people. The person who would always focus on the what-ifs, the why-it-didn’t s, what-could-be s, and the ever popular, “why-me.” But now, I think a little differently. I think- so what, if it it’s me? And that by itself surprises me so much. Not to mention I never thought I would be the one out here, trying to motivate people.

So basically, that’s why I’m here. I realized that there must be millions out there who face similar, and so much worse stuff in life and I want my blog to motivate all those. Everyone in any part of the world, who are going through something, I want you to know that you are not alone. That you can change your life, and it all starts with a simple thought. And a proper execution after that, but we will get to that later down the road.

So good luck, to both you and me, and I will be sharing your journey with you, growing, evolving and learning from you and be there right beside you in spirit. Here’s to the hopeful anticipation of an amazing journey together. Cheers!

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No Time like the Present

Life Lesson #1: If we learned to appreciate our mortality, we would be living our own life instead of someone else’s.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” – B. Olatunji

http://www.thequotablecoach.com/yesterday-is-history-tomorrow-is-a-mystery-and-today-today-is-a-gift-thats-why-we-call-it-the-present/
-Image References: Google
-Compilation and Font: NFA

So go ahead, and strive to achieve the world you want to live in. Because this is your time to shine and it will not lay dormant. Change is always difficult. But it is also the most worth it, only if you believe it to be…

The Survival

We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.

– Barbara De Angelis

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/barbara_de_angelis_119456

I had written this short fictional story for a class assignment. The story is very basic to be honest. But I want to use this story as a simple concept of a type of event that can change the way we look at life. How much we are able to appreciate it. How much we can empathize with those around us. The things we can achieve when we tackle all problems together as a community with an assertive and positive mind. How we instinctively react when someone around needs help, no matter how small or big. How are we contributing to a situation? Are we willing to go out of our way to help the people around us who need it? Well, let’s find out.

It was Thursday night. I was working late alone in the office, preparing for a presentation that was due the next day. Outside a slight breeze was blowing, inviting a perfect cool atmosphere to work in. I continued my work steadily as the hours moved on. Suddenly an earsplitting scream penetrated the air from somewhere below and I froze. Instantly I was by the window and a devastating sight met my eyes.

The clear evening sky had been replaced by an aggressive one, full of dark, haphazard shapes of the clouds. Nearby a tree had broken and lay sprawled all across the road. Meanwhile a raging storm had set in, blowing winds of excessive pressure past people’s faces, while bits of glass and sand continuously flew towards their face and eyes. The fierce wind knocked the breath out of me while the angry growl of lightning deafened my ears. Predictably enough, the lights in the office went out. Suddenly I was standing in mere darkness. I began to get scared. Frantically I searched for my cell phone to turn on the flashlight. After several moments of stumbling into desks and groping around in the dark, I found it. Then cautiously I moved towards the stairs and started going down.

I wasn’t surprised to find the watchman’s seat empty when I reached the bottom floor. Looking around, I saw that people were urgently looking for shelter. Some were standing under cover from the rain but the frantic wind was making things worse. Over a corner, a mother was trying to prevent her non-stop crying child from getting wet. I realized I needed to do something. I went up to the man standing closest to me who was taking cover and shouted at him saying they could all come up to my office for shelter, although there was no electricity. With his help I was able to pass on the message to the others. However a new problem had found it’s way to us. From just below the entrance stairs to the first floor, water had started filling in every inch and was rising to our knees.

For a few minutes I was blank as to what to do. Then the man I acquainted with, suggested an idea; that we could use a rope to get through. It was not difficult to find one; there were quite a few of them kept in one corner of the ground floor where the mechanics had been working on the garage. I passed a rope to him and he, being a tall man managed to get past the water range and tie the top securely to the stairs railing. Then slowly and carefully we started to shift people inside and then up the stairs. However, very few people had their cell phones in working condition to generate enough light. So we went in two batches. I went up with one batch and came down for the others. Some had difficulty climbing as they could not hold the wet rope firmly enough and grasped harder. I held their backs to the best of my ability to ensure they didn’t fall down. Time seemed to zoom past us. But in the end, with enough efforts and precautions, we managed it.

Once upstairs, there was chaos. With little light available, everyone bumped into everyone, children wailed continuously, and all the while I was searching for the first aid kit. Finally I found it stacked up on a cabinet shelf and hurried to nurse the ones who had gotten injured in the scuffles with the fallen trees and materials on the road. Even though it was cold with no heating in the room, I could tell everyone was glad to be indoors in such a terrible weather.

The experience had been frightening for me. But later on when I thought about it, I could not be more grateful for having the courage to go out and help the people who had been stranded outside. Even if it meant getting scolded by my boss, it was worth it. I will never forget this storm and how we survived from it. Just like we have survived all the storms in our life.

A Day Out of the Ordinary

Okay so the “out of the ordinary phrase” may be overselling it a bit. Each day is unique on it’s own. But when you come home after spending a fulfilling day, I think that deserves the title because well, let’s face it, that doesn’t happen everyday. But I’ll let you be the judge of it after you read the post and see the Instagram stories.

My day was good for very simple reasons. Usually over the weekend I like to explore something different, even if it means trying on a new bus route or changing up the scenery a bit by taking a detour or choosing a different destination. Basically discovering new places and new things in the same city. Until traveling far and wide becomes a habit and a privilege, this is a good place to start.

I started my morning later than planned and waited for the bus to arrive. It was actually supposed to rain, but surprisingly it eventually didn’t (until later of course). I was going to attend an event at a park but ended up missing it (courtesy of getting up late), but nevertheless it was nice to walk around the park from on end to another. People were hosting a yard sale, or playing tennis at the court or children were picnicking with their families as a part of their usual Saturday morning chilling. Envying the man sitting down at a bench engrossed in a book, I then proceeded to go to the next event of a writing group. I have been intending to write a short story for a long time but never got around to start it, so it seemed like a good opportunity. The population turnout was pretty low considering the weather forecast but it was at an old, rustic but favorable restaurant with easy access to coffee and eggs and I was more than thrilled. Moreover, I was able to start the story, so all in all totally worth it.

Next up I just jumped on a streetcar and settled down. I love going to the end of the line and see what else is there on the way and the height advantage of a streetcar makes it all the more fun. It took a while, and a change of car in order to go further but the passengers and I finally reached the final destination. By that time the weather was even better and a perfect blend of not too sunny and not too cold. I did a quick google search and found another park 10 minutes away, with a lake view. Considering I wasn’t ready to go home just yet, I went ahead on the walk.

Of course taking the wrong turn and stepping on all sorts of untrimmed grass didn’t help but nevertheless got where I wanted to be. And it was worth it. The view of the water, the sound of the waves gently crashing on the shore, the cool breeze-all of it. In an instant I was in this calm, tranquil state of mind. I sat down on the bench for a few minutes, listening to it, taking it all in. I could have sat there forever but alas. Soon enough, knowing it would get late otherwise, I got up started walking towards the way I came.

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However, since I didn’t want to go back to that grass area, I walked on the actual walkway this time-and stumbled on to another pretty part of the park! There was a bridge over the marshy wetlands, and all green around it, with big trees forming beautiful archways. I walked around there a bit, all happy and content. And then I finally started to exit the park.

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Next, in order to go back, I had to walk to the train station because I wanted to avoid the lengthy journey of the streetcar on my way back. Once I got my ticket I waited for the train to arrive. 15 minutes later I was in the train and all happy again-I love train journeys with big windows to look outside. Secretly praying there would be more stops in between, so that I could stay inside a bit more, I got my wish to a total of 2 stops before mine. Not dissatisfied at all, I got down and prepared to go to my usual route of subways and buses.

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But when I entered the station from the train track, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the place was huge! It looked like a mini airport to me, or maybe I wasn’t expecting it to be so massive. People hustling and bustling everywhere, signage above our heads to indicate directions and then suddenly, a magical food court! Magical because well of course, you get hungry when you’re exploring. So I went down to the food shops at the lower level, got myself a lasagna and a tiramisu and then ate and observed my surroundings. Then, from there I went to the subway platform and got on my usual train for my return journey, again happy and content.

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The overall day may seem pretty ordinary or bland. But for me, it was a day well spent. I didn’t do much or go anywhere super different but nevertheless it was an escape from that mundane life where I’m more focused on achieving the tasks at hand than actually relaxing. I mean that’s the reason people re-energize on the weekends right? I love going discovering places nearby. I think we can learn so much that way, and a change of scenery always makes me feel better. Back at the park, I felt like I have no worries in life-that everything was calm and quiet just like the air around me. And that by itself, makes this day an extra-ordinary one. I have learned this very late-in life, it is the little things in the world that make all the difference.

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The Warriors in Us

There are no shortcuts in life I guess. Every time a moment is stretched into a thousand, where we feel we are stuck in an endless whirlpool of uncertainty. Not sure where life is headed, whether it’s going forwards, or we keep moving backwards. We emerge from that darkness once in a while only to find out we are right back in that dark hole. Will there ever be a point in life where we will look back and actually see how far we have come? Though time doesn’t stand still, and neither do we. We show the world this illusion of being exactly who we want to be, but deep down, actually are not. Not yet anyway.

Everything is a process that’s true. But how much are we willing to go through in that period, for a simple hope that things will be alright again. Does it really, truly, all be okay in the end? Get a happy ending like in the fairy tales? Is everyone’s lives that perfect like we see in social media? I myself post only the happy moments and none of the difficult or ugly ones. That is why, posts, pictures or videos where people reveal the struggles they have gone through, and achieved all that they have, really motivate me. It is so important to share to the world the non-perfect part of our lives, like in Pursuit of Happyness-with a title saying “This part of my life is called struggling.” And the moment we feel all those struggles are finally worth it, we announce it to the world. Because the very fact that we are having these struggles indicate that we are on our way to greatness.

This moment right here, is hard. It seems to be infinite. Never-ending. It is hard not to give up, call it a day, and just-be. Disappear of the face of the earth because people you want to, won’t come looking for you anyway. It’s even harder to keep moving, keep stumbling, stay in motion, and not stop. Not stop to breathe, wonder, cry and break down.

I think at some point in our lives, we realise we are holding on too tight. Holding on to something that was never meant to be. Let go. Let go of all of it. Every small, microscopic memory. As if it was never there to begin with. Never there in any form of existence. Freedom comes with a cost, it has always been that way. But it is a price I’m willing to pay (yes, line taken from Captain America). As long as it doesn’t make me sacrifice my principles, I am willing to pay whatever cost it comes with, because I realise that I am paying a price one way or another, so it better be for something that’s worth it.

In the end, our fights are what our lives are all about. I am writing this post at a coffee shop and I am sure that all the people that I’m surrounded with, have gone through the same thing. Hell, we are all fighting to find a spot with no sunlight streaming on our face that’s making us squinting to look at our computer screens. But I managed to eventually change to a spot with lesser sun and asked the girl who was sitting beside me earlier, if she wanted to grab the sun-free space beside me at my new spot. So just like this small victory at the expense of nothing, if we could take a step back and breathe, I believe we can find simple solutions to our major problems. And then finally, we can be the kickass warriors that we already are, in other important parts of life and help ourselves and then those around us. After all, especially since the Avengers franchise ended, this earth needs all the superheroes it can get.

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