Archive for the ‘science’ Category

The Day After I Quit Smoking

January 18, 2008

THE DAY AFTER I QUIT SMOKING 

 By

 VIKRAM KARVE

One of the things that deters smokers from quitting decisively in one go is the fear of withdrawal symptoms. This results in smokers resorting to half-baked remedies like gradual reduction, nicotine patches, low tar cigarettes and various other futile therapies. In my opinion this exaggerated importance given to withdrawal symptoms is just a big myth, a ploy, an excuse by addicts to avoid giving up smoking. The so-called withdrawal symptoms are nothing but craving. The best and most effective way of quitting smoking is to just stop smoking, totally, in one go, and then never to smoke again. Don’t be afraid of the so-called “withdrawal symptoms” – you can easily tackle the craving. You can take my word for it – I successfully did it and conquered the craving for smoking once and for all.

I’ve written earlier and described how I quit smoking. I’m sure you must have read it in my blog.

 [In case you haven’t read it just click the link below – but remember to come back to this article!]

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/how-i-quit-smoking.htm

 Now let me describe to you the day after I quit smoking. I woke up early, at five-thirty as usual, made a cup of tea, and the moment I took a sip of the piping hot delicious tea, I felt the familiar crave for my first cigarette of the day. I kept down the cup of tea, made a note of the craving in my diary, had a glass of hot water (quickly heated in the microwave oven), completed my ablutions, and stepped out of my house, crossed the Maharshi Karve Road, and began a brisk walk-cum-jog around the verdant tranquil Oval Maidan, deeply rinsing my lungs with the pure refreshing morning air, which made me feel on top of the world. The Clock on MumbaiUniversity’s RajabaiTower silhouetted against the calm bluish gray sky, was striking six, and I felt invigorated.

I had overcome my craving, and not smoked, what used to be my first cigarette of the day. I then went on my daily morning walk on Marine Drive to Chowpatty and on my way back I spotted my friends ‘N’ and ‘S’ across the road beckoning me for our customary post-exercise tea and cigarette at the stall opposite Mantralaya. I felt tempted, but my resolve firm, I waved to them, looked away and ran towards my house. They must have thought I’d gone crazy, but it didn’t matter – I had avoided what used to be my second cigarette of the day.

 I made a note of it my diary, as I would do the entire day of all the stimuli that triggered in me the urge to smoke – what I would call my “smoking anchors” which could be anything, internal and external, tangible or intangible – people, situations, events, feelings, smells, emotions, tendencies, moods, foods, social or organizational trends, practices, norms, peer pressure; and most importantly how I tackled and triumphed over these stimuli.

After breakfast, I didn’t drink my usual cup of coffee – a strong “smoking anchor” which triggered in me a desperate desire to smoke, and drank a glass of bland milk instead, thereby averting what used to be my third cigarette of the day. It was nine, as I walked to work, and I hadn’t smoked a single cigarette.

It was a long day ahead and I had to be cognizant, observe myself inwardly and devise strategies to tackle situations that elicited craving for smoking – recognize and neutralize my “smoking anchors”, so to speak. Anchoring is a naturally occurring phenomenon, a natural process that usually occurs without our awareness.

An anchor is any representation in the human nervous system that triggers any other representation. Anchors can operate in any representational system (sight, sound, feeling, sensation, smell, taste).

You create an anchor when you unconsciously set up a stimulus response pattern. Response [smoking] becomes associated with (anchored to) some stimulus; in such a way that perception of the stimulus (the anchor) leads by reflex to the anchored response [smoking] occurring. Repeated stimulus–response action, reinforces anchors and this is a vicious circle, especially in the context of “smoking anchors”.

The trick is to identify your “smoking anchors”, become conscious of these anchors and ensure you do not activate them.

The moment I reached office I saw my colleague ‘B’ eagerly waiting for me, as he did every day. Actually he was eagerly waiting to bum a cigarette from me for his first smoke of the day [“I smoke only other’s cigarettes” was his motto!].

I politely told him I had quit smoking and told him to look for a cigarette elsewhere. He looked at me in disbelief; taunted, jeered and badgered me a bit, but when I stood firm, he disappeared. I removed from my office my ashtray, declared the entire place a no-smoking zone and put up signs to that effect.

The working day began. It was a tough and stressful working day. I was tired, when my boss called me across and offered me a cigarette. I looked at the cigarette pack yearningly, tempted, overcome by a strong craving, desperate to have just that “one” cigarette. Nothing like a “refreshing” smoke to drive my blues away and revitalize me – the “panacea” to my “stressed-out” state! It was now or never!

I politely excused myself on the pretext of going to the toilet, but rushed out into the open and took a brisk walk rinsing my lungs with fresh air, and by the time I returned I had lost the craving to smoke and realized, like in the Oval early in the morning, that physical exercise is probably the best antidote.

 People may think I’m crazy, but even now I rush out of my office once in a while to take a brisk walk in the open and not only do I lose the craving for a smoke but I feel distressed and invigorated as well. Conversely, once I rushed into a “no-smoking” cinema when I desperately felt like a smoke while strolling in the evening. Often, after dinner, when I used to feel like a smoke, I rushed into the Oxford Bookstore next door, for a long leisurely browse till my craving dissipated.

And, of course, one has to change his lifestyle, activities, and, maybe, even friends. Always try to be with likeminded people who you would like to emulate – if you want to quit smoking try to be in the company of non-smokers. It was simple after that, but my diary for that defining day makes interesting reading of smoking anchors – saunf or supari after lunch, afternoon tea, the company of smokers, paan, coffee…

But the crucial test came in the evening. My dear friend ‘A’ landed up for a drink. Now ‘A’ is a guy who doesn’t smoke in front of his kids and wife (I’m sure she knows!). So since he doesn’t smoke in his own home he makes up in other people’s houses. But mind you, he doesn’t bum cigarettes – in fact he gets a pack and generously leaves the remaining behind for the host.

We poured out a rum–paani each, clinked our glasses, said cheers, and sipped.

‘A’ lit a cigarette and offered the pack to me. At the end of a hot, humid and tiring day, the fortifying beverage induced a heavenly ambrosial sensation which permeated throughout the body and what better way to synergise the enjoyment than to smoke a cigarette along with the drink and enhance the pleasure to sheer bliss.

Till that moment, for me, drinking and smoking were inextricably intertwined – they complemented, accentuated each other and accorded me the ultimate supreme pleasure. I enjoyed my smoke the most along with a drink.

I realized that drinking was my strongest “smoking anchor” and if I had to quit smoking permanently I would have to give up drinking forever.

 So that’s what I did. At this defining moment of my life, I quit drinking forever. It’s been almost four years now and I do not smoke and I do not drink. I will never smoke again – I have quit smoking forever.

I may be tempted, but I know I can overcome the urge, for I have mastered the art of taking charge of my “smoking anchors”. And from time to time, I shall look at my old diary to remember and cherish that cardinal day of my life – ‘the day after I quit smoking’.

 Dear Reader, do comment and give me your feedback. Did this work for you?

 VIKRAM KARVE

 Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008 Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

vikramkarve@sify.com

 http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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Lovedale

July 4, 2007

LOVEDALE

 

(a short story)

 

by

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovedale. A quaint little station on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway that runs from Mettupalayam in the plains on a breathtaking journey to beautiful Ooty, the Queen of Hill Stations. On Lovedale station there is just one small platform – and on it, towards its southern end, a solitary bench. If you sit on this bench you will see in front of you, beyond the railway track, an undulating valley, covered with eucalyptus trees, and in the distance the silhouette of a huge structure, which looks like a castle, with an impressive clock-tower. In this mighty building is located a famous boarding school – one of the best schools in India. Many such ‘elite’ schools are known more for snob value than academic achievements, but this one is different – it is a prestigious public school famous for its rich heritage and tradition of excellence.

 

 

 

Lovedale, in 1970. That’s all there is in Lovedale – this famous public school, a small tea-estate called Lovedale (from which this place got its name), a tiny post office and, of course, the lonely railway platform with its solitary bench.

 

 

 

It’s a cold damp depressing winter morning, and since the school is closed for winter, the platform is deserted except for two people – yes, just two persons – a woman and a small girl, shivering in the morning mist, sitting on the solitary bench. It’s almost 9 o’clock – time for the morning “toy-train” from the plains carrying tourists via Coonoor to Ooty, the “Queen” of hill-stations, just three kilometers ahead – the end of the line. But this morning the train is late, probably because of the dense fog and the drizzle on the mountain-slopes, and it will be empty – for there are hardly any tourists in this cold and damp winter season.

 

 

 

 “I’m dying to meet mummy. And this stupid train – it’s always late,” the girl says. She is dressed in school uniform – gray blazer, thick gray woolen skirt, navy-blue stockings, freshly polished black shoes, her hair tied smartly in two small plaits with black ribbons.

 

 

 

The woman, 55 – maybe 60, dressed in a white sari with a thick white shawl draped over her shoulder and a white scarf around her head covering her ears, looks lovingly at the girl, softly takes the girl’s hand in her own, and says, “It will come. Look at the weather. The driver can hardly see in this mist. And it must be raining down there in Ketti valley.”

 

 

 

“I hate this place. It’s so cold and lonely. Everyone has gone home for the winter holidays and we have nowhere to go. Why do we have to spend our holidays here every time?”

 

 

 

“You know we can’t stay with her in the hostel.”

 

 

 

“But her training is over now. And she’s become an executive – that’s what she wrote.”

 

 

 

“Yes. Yes. She is an executive now. After two years of tough training. Very creditable; after all that has happened,” the old woman says.

 

 

 

“She has to take us to Mumbai with her now. We can’t stay here any longer. No more excuses now.”

 

 

 

 “Even I don’t want to stay here. It’s cold and I am old. Let your mummy come. This time we’ll tell her to take us all to Mumbai.”

 

 

 

“And we’ll all stay together – like we did before God took Daddy away.”

 

 

 

 “Yes. Mummy will go to work. You will go to school. And I will look after the house and all of you. Just like before.”

 

 

 

“Only Daddy won’t be there. Why did God take Daddy away?” the girl says, tears welling up in her eyes.

 

 

 

 “Don’t think those sad things. We cannot change what has happened. You must be brave – like your mummy,” says the old lady putting her hand softly around the girl. The old lady closes her eyes in sadness.There is no greater pain than to remember happier times when in distress.

 

 

 

Meanwhile the toy-train is meandering its way laboriously round the steep u-curve, desperately pushed by a hissing steam engine, as it leaves Wellington station on its way to Ketti. A man and a woman sit facing each other in the tiny first class compartment. There is no one else.

 

 

 

“You must tell her today,” the man says.

 

 

 

“Yes,” the woman replies softly.

 

 

 

“You should have told her before.”

 

 

 

“When?”

 

 

 

“You could have written, called her up. I told you so many times.”

 

 

 

“How could I be so cruel?”

 

 

 

“Cruel? What’s so cruel about it?”

 

 

 

“I don’t know how she will react. She loved her father very much.”

 

 

 

“Now she will have to love me. I am her new father now.”

 

 

 

“Yes, I know,” the woman says, tears welling up in her eyes. “I don’t know how to tell her; how she’ll take it. I think we should wait for some time. Baby is very sensitive.”

 

 

 

“Baby! Why do you still call her Baby? She is a grown up girl now. You must call her by her real name. Damayanti – what a nice name – and you call her Baby”

 

 

 

“It’s her pet name. Deepak always liked to call her Baby.”

 

 

 

“But I don’t like it! It’s ridiculous,” the man says firmly. “Anyway, all that we can sort out later. But you tell her about us today. Tell both of them.”

 

 

 

“Both of them? My mother-in-law also? What will she feel?”

 

 

 

“She’ll understand.”

 

 

 

“Poor thing. She will be all alone.”

 

 

 

“She’s got her work to keep her busy.”

 

 

 

 “She’s old and weak. I don’t think she’ll be able to do the matron’s job much longer.”

 

 

 

“Let her work till she can. At least it will keep her occupied. Then we’ll see.”

 

 

 

“Can’t we take her with us?”

 

 

 

“You know it’s not possible.”

 

 

 

“It’s so sad. She was so good to me. Where will she go? We can’t abandon her just like that!”

 

 

 

“Abandon? Nobody is abandoning her. Don’t worry. If she doesn’t want to stay on here, I’ll arrange something – I know an excellent place near Lonavala. She will be very comfortable there – it’s an ideal place for senior citizens like her.”

 

 

 

“An Old Age Home?”

 

 

 

“Call it what you want but actually it’s quite a luxurious place. She’ll be happy there. I’ve already spoken to them. Let her continue here till she can. Then we’ll shift her there.”

 

 

 

“How cruel? She was so loving and good to me, treated me like her own daughter, and looked after Baby, when we were devastated. And now we discard her when she needs us most,” the woman says, and starts sobbing.

 

 

 

“Come on Kavita. Don’t get sentimental,. You have to face the harsh reality. You know we can’t take her with us. Kavita, you must begin a new life now – no point carrying the baggage of your past,” the man realizes he has said something wrong and instantly apologizes, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”

 

 

 

“You did mean it. That’s why you said it! I hate you, you are so cruel and selfish,” the woman says, turns away from the man and looks out of the window.

 

 

 

They travel in silence. An uneasy disquieting silence. Suddenly it is dark, as the train enters a tunnel, and as it emerges on the other side, the woman can see the vast green KettiValley with its undulating mountains in the distance.

 

 

 

“I think I’ll also get down with you at Lovedale. I’ll tell them. Explain everything. And get over with it once and for all,” the man says.

 

 

 

“No! No! I don’t even want them to see you. The sudden shock may upset them. I have to do this carefully. Please don’t get down at Lovedale. Go straight to Ooty. I’ll tell them everything and we’ll do as we decided.”

 

 

 

“I was only trying to help you. Make things easier. I want to meet Damayanti. Tell her about us. I’m sure she’ll love me and understand everything.”

 

 

 

“No, please. Let me do this. I don’t want her to see you before I tell her. She’s a very sensitive girl. I don’t know how she’ll react. I’ll have to do it very gently.”

 

 

 

“Okay,” the man says. “Make sure you wind up everything at the school. We have to leave for Mumbai tomorrow. There is so much to be done. We’ve hardly got any time left.”

 

 

 

The steam engine pushing the train huffs and puffs up the slope round the bend under the bridge. “Lovedale station is coming,” the woman says. She gets up and takes out her bag from the shelf.

 

 

 

“Sure you don’t want me to come?” asks the man.

       

“Not now. I’ll ring you up,” says the woman.

  “Okay. But tell them everything. We can’t wait any longer.”

 

 

“Just leave everything to me. Don’t make it more difficult.”

 

 

 

They sit in silence, looking out of different windows, waiting for Lovedale railway station to come.

 

 

 

On the solitary bench on the platform at Lovedale station the girl and her grandmother wait patiently for the train which will bring their deliverance.

 

 

 

“I hate it over here. The cold scary dormitories. At night I miss mummy tucking me in. And every night I count DLFMTC ?”

 

 

 

“DLFMTC ?”

 

 

 

“Days Left For Mummy To Come ! Others count DLTGH – Days Left To Go Home.”

 

 

 

“Next time you too …”

 

 

 

“No. No. I am not going to stay here in boarding school. I don’t know why we came here to this horrible place. I hate boarding school. I miss mummy so much. We could have stayed on in Mumbai with her.”

 

 

 

“Now we will be all staying in Mumbai. Your mummy’s training is over. She can hire a house now. Or get a loan. We will try to buy a good house. I’ve saved some money too.”

 

 

 

The lone station-master strikes the bell outside his office. The occupants of the solitary bench look towards their left. There is no one else on the platform. And suddenly the train emerges from under the bridge – pushed by the hissing steam engine.

 

 

 

Only one person gets down from the train – a beautiful woman, around 30. The girl runs into her arms. The old woman walks towards her with a welcoming smile. The man, sitting in the train, looks cautiously trying not to be seen. A whistle; and the train starts and moves out of the station towards Ooty.

 

 

 

That evening the woman tells them everything.

 

 

 

 At noon the next day, four people wait at Lovedale station for the train which comes from Ooty and goes down to the plains – the girl, her mother, her grandmother and the man. The girl presses close to her grandmother and looks at her new ‘father’ with trepidation. He gives her a smile of forced geniality. The old woman holds the girl tight to her body and looks at the man with distaste. The young woman looks with awe, mixed with hope, at her new husband. They all stand in silence. No one speaks. Time stands still. And suddenly the train enters.

   

“I don’t want to go,” the girl cries, clinging to her grandmother.

 

“Don’t you want to stay with your mummy? You hate boarding school don’t you? ” the man says extending his hand.

 

 

 

 The girl recoils and says, “No. No. I like it here. I don’t want to come. I like boarding school.”

 

 

 

“Come Baby, we have to go,” her mother says as tears well up in her eyes.

 

 

 

“What about granny? How will she stay here all alone? No mummy – you also stay here. We all will stay here. Let this man go to Mumbai,” the girl pleads.

 

 

 

“Damayanti. I am your new father,” the man says firmly to the girl. And then turning to the young woman he commands, “Kavita. Come. The train is going to leave.”

 

 

 

“Go Baby. Be a good girl. I will be okay,” says the old woman releasing the girl.

 

 

 

As her mother gently holds her arm and guides her towards the train, for the first time in her life the girl feels that her mother’s hand is like the clasp of an iron gate. Like manacles.

 

 

 

“I will come and meet you in Mumbai. I promise!” the grandmother says. But the girl feels scared – something inside tells her she that may never see her grandmother again.

 

 

 

As the train heads towards the plains, the old woman begins to walk her longest mile – her loneliest mile – into emptiness, a void.

 

 

 

And poor old Lovedale Railway Station, the mute witness, doesn’t even a shed a tear. It tries. But it can’t. Poor thing. It’s not human. So it suffers its sorrow in inanimate helplessness. A pity. What a pity!

 

 

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Copyright 2006 Vikram Karve

 

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 

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IIT JEE

May 31, 2007

IIT JEE

[An unfinished story]

by

VIKRAM KARVE

Sunday. The 8th of April 2007. The date of the IIT-JEE.

IIT-JEE. You know what it is, don’t you?

You don’t? I’m surprised! Maybe you are an “Arts” type, or on your own trip! Okay, I’ll tell you. IIT-JEE is the Joint Entrance Examination for entrance to the Indian Institutes of Technology, the most prestigious BENCO, MIMMET AND TECHNO – unique pioneering engineering and technology learning institutions of India, with a rich heritage and matchless tradition of excellence, located at Banaras, the temple of learning, now amalgamated and synergized into what they call ITBHU, Varanasi.

Now-a-days, the IIT-JEE is a simple one-day affair – two composite three-hour papers for which you just need a pencil to mark off the answers. Way back then, in the scorching summer of 1972, it was a two-day grind, on the 4th and 5th of May, the height of summer, in the dilapidated drawing hall of the COEP, which vibrated and reverberated every time a train thundered close by on the adjoining tracks from Pune to Shivajinagar. Four papers, three hours each, two a day, in English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, analytical and subjective, and you thought and thought, and wrote and wrote, till your fingers ached, your brain went blank, and you collapsed in agony with the sheer mental and physical exhaustion of it all.

That was the time when education, even at an IIT, meant something much more than mere utility value, and it was not primarily the mind-boggling money-spinning placements that benchmarked an academic institution but there were multifarious quality and heritage factors by which a place of learning would be judged.

Then, we all lived in Madiwale Colony, a lovely place in the premier middle class locality of Sadashiv Peth of Pune. Life was good. It was easy to be happy as our threshold of happiness was so low that it was quite readily achievable. A morning run up Parvati, a stroll in Talyatla Ganpati Saras Baug Garden, enjoying the frolics of animals in the Peshwe Park Zoo, a ride in the toy-train Phulrani , unrestrained playing with carefree abandon on the swings, see-saws and slides in adjoining park, a yummy bhel made by the hugely bearded Kalpana Bhelwala, a cream-roll or doughnut at Ashok Bakery, Patties, Nankatai and Khari at Hindustan Bakery, Ice Cream at Bua – so many things to do – and once in a while, we would bicycle down Camp to partake the inimitable non-veg samosas and tea at Naaz, Chinese at Kamling, Paan at George and enjoy a Hollywood Movie and Ice Cream Soda at West End. And for the more adventurous, it was rumored that there was a hush-hush cabaret in the posh hotel across the road. [Needless to say, yours truly was certainly not an adventurous type!]

Most parents with bright sons had but one ambition – their son should get into an IIT. And there he would strive for a nine point CGPA – a passport to the “land of opportunity” – for higher studies in a good university – the best way for a middle-class boy to go abroad. And then he would find a suitable groom for his sister there, so she could follow.

My neighbor was a bright boy – in fact, he was the only child of his ambitious parents. And his parents were desperate, they left no stone unturned, to ensure that their son successfully cleared the IIT-JEE and got the course he wanted in the IIT of his choice. And the son did indeed make the parents proud – he got a top-notch IIT-JEE rank, later topped in IIT too, and achieved the dream of flying off across the oceans to pursue higher studies

Hey, why am I telling you all this and boring you to death? Permit me to elucidate. This is a story I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to tell you. But on the 8th of April this year, something happened. A couple and their only son visited us. During the lunch break between the two papers of the IIT-JEE. They knocked on our door to enable their only child, on whom they had pinned all their hopes, to freshen up and prepare for the second paper in his exam-center nearby. They talked, and I realized how desperate they were to get their son into IIT, how they had staked everything, material, emotional, their hopes, for achieving their dream. I looked at the couple in front of me who were in almost a do or die situation for their son’s success –totally frantic parents whose burning life’s ambition was to get their one and only son into an IIT. Just like our neighbors in Madiwale colony. Memories revived. Something triggered in my mind, a stimulus, and suddenly I wanted to tell them this story. I didn’t. When you read it you’ll know why. But I’m not going to tell it to you right now, for it’s quite late in the night, I’m feeling quite tired and want to go off to sleep. So, Dear Reader, please bear with me and wait a while. Let’s hope I can finish this unfinished story soon, right here, in my blog!

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

vikramkarve@sify.com

DOUBLE GAME

March 13, 2007

DOUBLE GAME [short story] 

by 

VIKRAM KARVE  

   

   

   

Failures and Losers avoid school reunions.  But this time I decided to go.  Sucheta would be there. She had rung up from
New York.  And of course Anand was also coming with her. Maybe that’s the real reason I wanted to go. 
 

   

It was fifteen years since we passed out from school and the reunion was a grand affair in the best hotel at this picturesque ‘queen’ of hill stations on the slopes of the
Himalayas where our school was located. For ours was an elite and famous boarding school, distinguished more for its snob appeal than for its academic excellence.  ‘Bookworm’ was an exception.  He had topped the board exams and had become a distinguished scientist, always inventing something mysterious and experimenting something esoteric.
 

   

 “Hi, Bookworm!” I said genuinely happy to see him.  

   

“Moushumi, my name is Doctor Pratap Joshi.  Not Bookworm”, he said angrily, “I am a Professor.”  

   

“Professor Bookworm!” I teased him.  

   

“That’s better,” he said.  

   

“And what are you inventing nowadays?” I asked.  

   

“I’m researching in the frontiers of Psycho-cybernetics.”  

   

“Stop the mumbo jumbo, Bookworm. Tell me in simple language. Who are you and what do you do?”  

   

“Okay. I am a neurologist. A psychiatrist.  A psychologist. And I also hold a doctorate in Electrical Engineering. Currently I am researching in mind-transference,” Bookworm said proudly.  

   

“Mind-transference?” I asked confused.  

   

 “You have seen star-trek haven’t you?”  

   

  “Yes.”  

   

 “There they transfer persons in space. H G Wells’ time machine transferred entire persons in time,” he said.  

   

 “And you?” I asked.  

   

 “I can put your mind into someone else’s body and vice-versa – someone else’s brain into your body!”  

   

 “It sound spooky to me.  Is it ESP?  Some kind of occult stuff? ”  

   

 “Not at all,” Bookworm said, “Nothing supernatural, esoteric or mystical.  It’s a purely scientific technique.  I’ve developed a pilot system for trials. The machine is upstairs in my hotel room.  Why don’t you give it a try?”   

   

A strange thought crossed my mind  as I surveyed the room.  My eyes rested on Anand.  His height and his magnificent beard made him look so prominent in the crowd.  He looked a decisive, hot-blooded and dangerous man, but he also looked vulnerable.  Even now, he wore a lonely and rather perplexed expression, as though he were at the party but not a member of it.  And beside him stood his wife Sucheta radiating the natural pride of possession that any woman feels when she has the ownership and company of a man that other women desire.  

   

I reminisced. There were four of us who grew up together.  In school and in college.  Anand, Mohan, Sucheta and I.  Inseparable friends. All of us loved each other.  

   

I had the first choice since both Anand and Mohan were desperately in love with me and both had proposed to me. I opted for Mohan, leaving Anand for Sucheta.  Then I kept tormenting myself living with Mohan but longing for Anand, wondering if I had made the wrong choice, repenting, trying to imagine what my life would have been like if I had married Anand instead of Mohan.  

   

I looked at Anand, and then at Bookworm. Serendipity! Yes. I felt the adrenalin rush. This was my chance to find out what life would have been like if I had married Anand; and I was going to risk it.  

   

I waved out to Sucheta and five minutes later both of us were lying side by side on the double-bed in Bookworm’s hotel room.  There was a mesh of wires with electrode-transducers connected to our heads (like an EEG), a laptop-like special computer and a briefcase-size electronic device which Bookworm described as the ‘Electrophoresis Signal Processor’.  

   

“Good,” Bookworm said, “both your brainwave frequencies are in ‘beta’ state around 15 hertz.  I’ll give you both a high frequency burst to momentarily raise your brain-states to ‘K-Complex’ and instantaneously commence the electrophoresis.”  

   

Looking at me, he said, “Moushumi, you will be Sucheta as far as the outside world is concerned. So when you wake up, go straight to Anand.  Let’s see if he suspects.” And then to Sucheta he said, “Sucheta, you go straight to Mohan. He will think you are Moushumi.”  

   

“It’s dangerous. I’m scared,” Sucheta said.  

   

 “Come on, Sucheta. Be a sport. It’s just for fun,” I said.  

   

 “It’s not fun. We’re doing this experiment to validate my research – in vivo – to see if the concept of mind-transference it works. Just for half-an-hour,” Bookworm said, “then both of you come back and I’ll reverse the process, and you can leave as your own total selves – your same mind in your own same body.”  

   

I closed my eyes in trepidation wondering whether I was doing the right thing. Suddenly I felt my brain go blank and then there were vivid flashes in a void.  

   

Half an hour later, when I was in seventh heaven gliding in Anand’s strong arms, enjoying the dance, Bookworm suddenly appeared by my side, tugged my arm and said with urgency in his voice, “It’s time. Let’s go, Moushumi.”  

   

“Moushumi? Why are you calling her Moushumi?” an incredulous Anand asked Bookworm.  

   

“She is Moushumi,” Bookworm said pointing at me.  

   

“Are you drunk or stoned or something?” Anand snapped angrily. “Can’t you see she’s Sucheta, my wife? Moushumi must be with her husband Mohan.  I last saw them having a drink near the bar.”  

   

Instinctively we all turned and looked towards the bar. No sign of them. I hurriedly scanned the room. They had disappeared.  

   

Bookworm was in a state of panic, “Anand. Try to understand. Your wife Sucheta has gone away with Mohan.  And this here in front of you is Moushumi – Mohan’s wife. This is only Sucheta’s body. Inside it’s Moushumi’s brain – her self. Moushumi’s mind is in Sucheta’s body. My in vivo experiment was successful – it’s validated – the mind-transference!”  

   

“Mind-transference? Stop talking nonsense!” Anand shouted angrily at Bookworm and taking my arm he said to me, “Come on Sucheta. Let’s go. Bookworm has gone crazy. And it’s getting late. We’ll drive straight down to
Delhi. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow before we catch our flight back home.”
 

   

As we walked through the parking lot towards the luxury limousine Anand had hired for his visit I noticed that ‘our’ car was missing.  It was cold and I glanced at ‘our’ small cottage on the hill slope for the last time. ‘They’ were probably cuddling up in ‘our’ bedroom by now.  

   

I thought I was smart, but it was Sucheta who played the double game. For me it was only a half-hour experiment, but Sucheta had upped the ante and turned the tables on me. Will Mohan find out? And Anand? Will this mind-transference last forever? I shiver with trepidation. And what will happen then?  

   

I don’t know.  But from now on it’s going to be a tightrope walk.  Every moment I’ll have to be on my toes.  I’m excited. And a bit scared too. It’s going to dangerous fun. Now I will really know what life would have been like if had I married Anand instead of Mohan.  

   

And soon I shall know whether I made the right choice. And then, maybe, I’ll tell you about it.  

   

   

  VIKRAM KARVE 

Copyright 2006 Vikram Karve  

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com