The Day The State Split Asunder-16
The Day The State Split Asunder-1612 mins 33 12 mins 33
Karthik and Madhu reached the Sri Vidhya snacks center nestled between the gigantic buildings on Varthur road. It has become the ultimate go-to place for those craving for spicy authentic Andhra snacks.
There are three tables arranged in separate rows, inside a small bleak hall occupying the size of two SUVs. The stove and the entire preparation can be viewed easily as the kitchen is not compartmented. With all the chairs occupied, Karthik and Madhu are left with no other option except to stand.
They neared the stove where the master was busy frying a little over sixty balls of punugulu, a popular Andhra appetizer made of rice batter in the big pan until they form a thick golden layer on the outside.
Karthik was desperately looking at the balls wobbling in the pan with bated breath. "You know Madhu, even though many varieties of new snacks came into the menu, they have not diminished the popularity of this traditional snack. People still love it."
"Classics are always eternal. No matter how many new things follow after it, they are simply irreplaceable, " returned Madhu, moving one step back to prevent any accidental spilling of oil drops on her.
"Well said. Life's always better in a classic."
"What do you want sir?" The owner of the snacks center interrupted him. He is dressed in white dhoti and shirt, the spectacles on his face resembled the magnifying lenses. The grey hair on his head, the wrinkles on his face and hands clearly gives an impression of being aged around sixty.
"What is the special item on your menu?"
"Everything is special here, most people ask for Punugulu and stuffed Mirchi," he replied.
"Karthik please do not take anything for me," said Madhu.
"Why? Have at least one-"
"Please don't force me Karthik. I don't like these oily foods."
"Sir, tell me what you want? Punugulu, Mirchi, or both?" asked the owner.
"I want half-plate punugu and half-plate stuffed Mirchi."
"Only one plate?"
"Yes," Karthik said, and the owner walked into the preparation table and stood beside the master putting the items on the plate. "Uncle, are you from Andhra?"
"Yes," said the old man, stuffing the Mirchi with onions and sprinkling a liberal dose of curry leaves powder and lemon syrup on it.
"From which part are you from?"
"I am from Kadiri."
"Kadiri? Where is that place?"
"It is in Anantapur district."
"Oh! So you are from Rayalaseema, the land of faction and feud."
"Feud!" Madhu exclaimed, her eyebrows raised questioningly. "I listened about the faction, What is this feud?"
"How can I explain?" Karthik looked down, trying to gather the thoughts. "See Madhu. If a man has a quarrel with another man and kills him then that other man's brother kills him, then the other brothers on both sides of the rival groups go for killing one another, if they are done, then the cousins from both sides pitch in and by and by everybody's killed off and there ain't no more feud."
"Oh My God! My head is spinning like a top after listening to this horrific explanation of yours," Madhu said, rubbing her forehead. "Uncle, is this faction and feud still rampant in your region?"
"Now, it's not present anymore."
"Uncle, How much do you earn per month?"
"Per day I easily earn five thousand. Three thousand goes for purchasing the ingredients, but still, I can save two thousand. On Saturdays and Sundays, we make a thousand extra."
"It means per month you easily make 40K? You earn more than me."
"Not exactly forty, somewhere nearby to twenty-five as I need to pay salaries for the master and to the housekeeping lady. The rest of the amount goes into taxes and bills." He paused as a customer came to pay the bill. "And from which place are you from?"
"I am from Hyderabad."
"I see, so you are from Telangana?"
"Not exactly. My parents migrated to Hyderabad long back in the eighties. I was born and raised in Hyderabad."
"Do you support the creation of a separate Telangana state?"
"I am not bothered about it," "Nowadays whenever we Andhra people meet we only discuss this Andhra and Telangana issue."
"It's a hot topic going on in the country," the owner chimed with a hearty but gentle laugh. He then put ten small balls of punugulu garnished with onions and chili powder on a stainless steel plate and handed it over to Karthik.
"Karthik, I am sorry," Madhu said, picking her scooty keys from her purse. "My cousin texted me. She will arrive at the bus stop in another ten minutes. I need to pick her."
"Have one at least bite-"
"Sorry Karthik, We can have it next time. Bye..." she waved at him and hurried towards her vehicle. She started the engine, made a quick U-turn, and in seconds she disappeared from his view.
He stood near the entrance and was enjoying his snack along with coconut and ginger chutney. A sudden tap on his shoulder from behind interrupted his bite. He turned around. To his surprise, it was his roommates Venkatesh and Satish.
"What happened? You came alone," said Venkatesh.
"Did you both come here to have a quick bite?"
"Ha!" replied Satish. "This is our regular hang out spot on weekends."
"Venkatesh, I have to tell you one thing?" said Karthik, biting the Mirchi.
"What is that?"
"The owner of this snack's center is from Andhra."
"I know it, and I even know his name," said Venkatesh.
"I remember you once saying I will not go into any Andhra restaurants and shops until Telangana gets separated."
"Bro!" Venkatesh continued, "Whether a person is Indian or American, once they reach Rome, they have to be a Roman. By the same token, even though the owner may be from Andhra, but right now he is in Bangalore. So, he is a part and parcel of this city."
"Karthik, he will change theories according to time, place, and requirements to suit his hour of needs," said Satish in a toast of sarcasm.
"What do these innocent food items know about Andhra, Telangana, and Rayalaseema? They are waiting to attain Salvation. It is our duty to absolve them from their sins," returned Venkatesh.
"I am just joking. Take whatever you want. But I will pay the bill," Karthik subsequently changed the subject of the conversation. "Yesterday you both asked about the party."
Karthik ordered two more plates. Venkatesh and Satish took one plate each and parallelly one table got vacant. The trio sat at the table and talked about movies, celebrities, and politics.
An hour later the sun had set and the street lights were turned on. The time struck 06:30. Karthik paid the bill, and the three made their way back to the hostel. Venkatesh and Satish cut into their rooms while Karthik without any deviation checked into Adarsh's room.
"Adarsh, Can I come in?" asked Karthik.
Adarsh was working on his laptop at his desk. "Hey! Come in."
"Looks like you're working on something? I will come again later. I just came here to say hello. Nothing serious."
"Nay! I am not busy at all. I am just drafting my speech for tomorrow's toastmaster's meeting."
Karthik sat on his bed. "So, you even attend cooking classes?"
Adarsh fired a puzzling look at Karthik. "Cooking classes? I don't understand what you're asking."
"Just now you mentioned something about the toastmasters?"
"I think you got carried away by the name. Toastmasters is not at all related to cooking classes. It is a platform that gives a wonderful opportunity to beef up your communication, leadership, and public speaking skills."
"Honestly, I have never seen an ambidextrous person like you in my life. Tell me the one area that you are not good at."
"Karthik, Dexterity of a person lies in how effectively he manages the time. Imagine that there is a magical bank that deposits 1440 rupees in your private account for your use. However, this bank has certain rules."
"What kind of rules?"
"The first rule: Every rupee that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you. You may not simply transfer money into some other account. You may only spend it. Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another 1440 for that day. The bank can end depositing without warning at any point in time. What will you do?"
"I will draw out every single rupee and buy everything and anything I wanted. But do we have such a kind of bank?"
"Each of us is an account holder in it. The only thing being we just can't seem to see it and the name of this magical bank is time."
Karthik remained silent.
"Buddy, tell me how many hours we have in a day?"
"How many minutes do we have in an hour?"
"Multiply twenty-four with sixty. How much do we get?"
Karthik performed multiplication on his mobile and said - "It's one thousand four hundred and forty."
"Now, you got it? Each morning we awaken to receive 1440 minutes as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us. What we haven't lived up to that day is forever lost. Yesterday is forever gone. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account without warning. The thin line of the trait that differentiates between high-performance people and others is this utilization of time."
Karthik yawned, his mind filled with alternating thoughts and after a short pause, he said, "I agree. Time is valuable"
"I am sorry for this boring lecture, You don't mind me saying that I hope," said Adarsh in a slight tone, punching on his shoulder, "I will never talk these things with anyone except with closed ones like you."
"Hey, Adarsh, it's not boring at all. You're my inspiration. I had a great time with you," he smiled at him. "I woke up early today. That's why I am feeling sleepy. I Forgot to ask you, how did your meeting go today?"
"Sad to relate, in the last minute, the person whom I am supposed to meet left for New York. He will come again after three months."
"Who is that person?"
"His name is Joseph, a venture capitalist. I was supposed to deliver a presentation to him about my business idea."
"Business? What kind of business?"
"Studying and analyzing to what level the product of a company has reached the consumers with the help of data modeling, big data analytics, and mining."
"What kind of product will you analyze?"
"It can be anything. Our primary focus will be on gathering data from a wide range of sources and drawing insights from them. For now, I can't tell you more than this. Please don't feel bad, I am still working upon it. This is my dream, I have been working for two years on this."
"No problem. But please give me a job in your company."
"Let it get incorporated first. Then I will pull you into it. Karthik, do you have any dreams for your life?"
"But Arnold, don't take any umbrage at my comment. You're already earning good enough in your job. Why take risks?"
"With great risk comes great rewards. Every man like you after completing graduation wants a job that provides a handsome salary of 40K. Then find a lovely girl to marry, make a family. By the time you cross sixty, you expect to save enough to buy half an acre of land, build a 500 sqft house, get it painted with yellow and green with a beautiful garden in the backyard on a reclining chair under the sun. It is then, memories start flashing back. You will say to yourself - 'I wish I took risks when I was young.'"
"What if something goes wrong?"
"Tell me who is the wealthiest man on this planet?"
"Bill Gates," Karthik returned instantly.
"Now, tell me who is the poorest man on this planet?"
"Most penniless man?" He looked up at the ceiling, "I don't know."
"Karthik, even if something has gone wrong in your plan, nobody will deprive you of food, water, and clothing. These three are essential to lead life along with the abundant wisdom that you gathered in the process of achieving your dream. I just want to tell you one thing. A life without a dream is simply an exercise of floccinaucinihilipilification, which means an action or habit of estimating something as worthless. If by misfortune you got fired from your job? What will you do?"
"I will find another."
"What if they also fire you after some time?"
"I… I..." Karthik was struggling to give an answer.
"If you had a dream, you would have an answer. In case you don't have a dream, partner with someone who is having a dream for his life. Why don't you partner with me? Trust me, I am not a cheater. I don't want anything from you except for your encouragement and support. I don't expect any financial help from you, by God's grace I am earning good in my life."
"Adarsh please don't talk like that. I trust you a lot. From now on, Your dream project is my dream project, Your problems are my problems, Your happiness is my happiness-"
"Except my underwear..." Adarsh dissolved into laughter. "I am just kidding. I don't know how to appreciate you for your support. It is hard to find words to express my gratitude towards you."
"Go all in for what you want and you will win. But frankly speaking, You already progressed much ahead in your pursuit, I don't think I may be of any use to you."
"Don't talk to me like that. You're not just a best friend, but also my family member. Every person is unique in this world. You may do what I cannot do, I may do what you cannot, but together, we can accomplish great things."
"Adarsh, you made my day. Had I not come to Bangalore, I would have missed you. Don't give up on your dreams, I will do whatever I can with whatever I have."
"Once again thank you. That means a lot to me. I will never give up on my dreams. I don't care even if it takes the remainder of my life to achieve it. Success is a journey, not a destination. It is a fascinating confluence of hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do. Adopting this mindset guarantees only two outcomes to life."
"What are they?"
"Number one is you will obtain that which you desire or two, you will die in the pursuit of that which you desire. I think we had enough discussion about philosophy. So, did you purchase the gifts for your parents?"
"I purchased and couriered them."
"Hmm… you're so fast," Adarsh smiled at him. "Why did you decide to start your career in Bangalore? Why can't you be with your parents? Looks like you're taking them for granted."
"No… No… If I take them for granted why will I purchase gifts for them? I love my parents."
"Karthik, it is not about purchasing gifts. Life is short and you've to spend it only with your loved ones. I am not the luckiest person like you. Remember one thing, There are only a select few people in the world who will do anything for you, never judge you, and love you unconditionally, and they are your parents. Family always comes first."
"You don't have parents?"
"Yes, I don't have them," replied Adarsh in a sorrowful tone. "Once after we are back from dinner I will narrate my entire life story."
"Where shall we go?"
"Let's go to the Paratha House restaurant. It's just three streets away. If you are okey-dokey with it, we can make a move."
"I am ready. Let's go."
To be continued...