- The Guy in the Hat™
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India
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Sunday, December 1, 2013
In the early months of 2013, Ajay Kontham first approached me in his humble manner, to write a guest post for his blog, The Shaded Shadows. At that time, I was already quite busy, and though I relished the opportunity to have a challenging and fulsome reason to actually write (because, for some reason, I seem to be able to write without pause when I am purposely writing for someone else’s enjoyment), I realized it would be some time before I could actually comply and fulfill his request. A couple of months went by, and I am fairly certain that Ajay, in his self-effacing way, already felt that I didn’t think too seriously about his request. We were, after all, just acquaintances having met via our mutual blog friends, and therefore, to his mind, I didn’t really have any reason to spend time and effort on a mere acquaintance – therefore he must have given up any hope that I would actually write a guest blog for him. Here he would be mistaken, yet I wouldn’t blame him, as I actually got down to writing this piece at the end of Summer 2013. And then – to my intense and utter dismay – within one day of actually finishing it, the device upon which it was saved had gone missing. Cue thunder and lightning.
I, however, had not given up hopes that it would turn up again one day. And that you are here reading this foreword is only further assurance that this hope was not misplaced. I must, however, remind you that the chronological events in this piece have been displaced by a few months; indeed, when I had written this, the movie mentioned in the piece had not yet been released. That is only one example. The other crucial point pertains to the alias with which our blog host once used; he has since gone through many, many, changes of screen-names (so often that we might wonder if he changed his screen-name more than he changed his underwear) – it is my sincere hope that you would be a loyal enough follower of his blog to actually remember and relate to when he once called himself ‘The Guy in The Hat’.
Otherwise, I leave the rest to you and your reading. I hope - however small a tribute it is to our blogger friend Ajay - you do enjoy reading it. To the spirit of friendship, blogging, and artistic aspirations of all sorts: cheers!
IQ, November 30, 2013.
Smile, man. The same refrain from everyone. He didn’t want to smile. Even if he tried, it freaked him out, it felt fake. What was there to smile about?
It was another day, the same as any other. Only this time it sucked really bad. Worse, because he was in some new city on some confounded project for work.
Work! Since when did anyone give a damn about who he was or what he did? It was mindboggling. But apparently some colleagues of his were gossiping about him (what was there to gossip about? He wondered, idly) and their boss had been standing behind the gossipers with his arms crossed. Sure they were freaked out to be discovered, but what was more important, the boss had been actually listening.
Listening about the quiet Kontham boy. Like he had nothing else to do. But that day, what the boss had heard was interesting. Interesting, because it looked like it could be the solution to one of their many problems.
So, next thing Ajay Kontham knew, he was standing in front of this boss and listening in bewilderment as he was told that he was being given a special project.
Ajay stared down at his finished coffee morosely. Special Project, my ass. Since when is anything about this work special? Lame is what it is. Lame brain pile of crap.
He got up, grabbed his bag, and left Coffee Café Day. Stood outside in the horrid sunshine and stared across the street resentfully.
If any of my colleagues knew what I’m doing today they won’t ever leave me alone. I’ll never be cool again. Who the hell even asked them to gossip about me. Sheesh, man.
Trying to delay the inevitable, he pulled out his phone. Went online and checked Facebook, then Twitter. He checked his blog and thought back about his visit to the boss.
Ajay, I hear you’ve got a popular blog. Don’t ask me how I heard, tell me is this true? Good. Because as you know we have been paying consultants for our online presence, and it seems like what we need is something you can help us with…
‘Ok screw this,’ Ajay muttered. It had been two days already and he hadn’t been able to do what he had been sent to do. He couldn’t explain it. It always ended up the same way, coming here out here to get – what? Some sort of confidence, and then eventually going back to his hotel room.
And that was what he was doing now. He crossed the road over to his hotel. It was ironic, that he was right there already, and yet he couldn’t come to terms with the fact until he was again across the road at CCD, staring across the road, a space which felt infinitely vast and impenetrable. It was like some kind of force field that kept him out, and every time he tried to return, he wasn’t able to. Or at least, not able to do what he was meant to, which wasn’t the same of course. It was way, way easier to just take the nearest elevator up and retreat back into the quiet sanctuary of his hotel room.
This time however, he dragged himself across the street and felt like he had crossed the Sahara desert by the time he reached the doors of the entrance. The men at the doors nodded to him courteously, and Ajay, entering the cool interior of the hotel took off his hat, fixing his hair back in place.
He had a thing about his hair. He simply liked it to be just so, just the way he styled it. His hair was one of several comfort blankets for him. Perhaps an intellectual person, maybe a psychologist, would remark that it was because it was one of the few things in his life he had control over. But Ajay wasn’t a psychologist, so all he knew (and cared about) was that he looked damn cool with his hair just so.
While waiting for the elevator, he examined his reflection in the metal door. He affixed his hat back on and nodded to himself, then looked around surreptiously to make sure he wasn’t making a fool of himself. No one was looking. Good.
The doors opened and he got in. Some other people got in – girls, whispering to each other holding shopping bags. Ajay concentrated on his phone, studiously ignoring the others in the elevator. The next floor dinged, and they pushed their way out, clumsily knocking into Ajay.
Ajay blushed crazily up till his ears. Thankfully, they were already gone, and his floor was here. He got to his hotel room, swiped his doorkey. As he pushed the door open, a piece of paper went floating away across the carpet, catching some invisible breeze as it tumbled around until it hit the ground.
He tossed his bag on the bed and snatched the piece of paper. A small innocuous piece of paper, folded in half. He opened it out and read. And blinked.
Hey Guy in the hat, Hope to see you around! :)
So how did anyone here know who he was? And even more concerning: who here knew his alias was The Guy in The Hat?!
Ajay lay back on his bed, staring at the ceiling. His mind raced. There could only be two explanations. Either his colleagues, or the boss. But – he shook his head – first, the colleagues didn’t even know where he was, this special project was a hush-hush thing. That left his boss.
Ajay made a face. Yeah right, it’s him. He pictured the man; sour-faced, boring, no sense of humour, no creativity. But then appearances could be deceiving. After all, I look innocent and no one knows about my Dexter-like alter-ego. He chuckled to himself. Stopped.
No one here did anyways, but that wasn’t exactly true: someone did. Someone who knew he was The Guy in The Hat. He could call his boss and ask…but then that would include answering the boss’ questions about his progress out here, and Ajay wasn’t ready to tell him he had done nothing yet.
Nothing except drink coffees and sit in the hotel room. The irony was that here all this time Ajay was trying to put off his work just for the reason he didn’t want to get so much attention to himself, and somehow while keeping in the dark, someone already figured out his own secret. How?
It was evening and he stood at his mirror, making the last adjustments to his outfit. Somehow, between getting that note and now, he felt different. He was resigned to his fate, and had decided that since it was inevitable, he was going to have to do what he came to do.
Last thing before leaving his room, he took his hat in his hands and positioned it in place. He felt different. Somehow he had a mystery to solve, and now looking at his reflection, he felt the stirrings of excitement. His detective hat. Yeah, that sounded slick.
He took the elevator down, and reached the lobby. It was jam-packed. Hotshot cars pulling up at the entrance-way and famous people entering, camera lights flashing.
Ajay went down the corridor and showed his pass at the door. He went straight to the coffee bar and got himself a cappuccino. He moved back into the shadows and looked around.
Lots of famous people. Though he wasn’t a big follower of hindi films, he thought he could recognize a few faces. Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal? And…Who was that over there? The crowds were too chaotic for him to see. Ajay looked around for a chair.
He found a seat and pulling out his notepad, started to work.
Thankfully the actual event had ended early, the organizers saying it was for Amitabh ji’s health. Still, it was late at night by the time everything was done with. Ajay was dead-tired, but at the same time he was totally wired. Too much coffee. It was when everything really wound up that he was able to get some good material, getting close enough to the cast to take some pictures of his own.
Now the conference room was almost empty. Chairs all over, coffee cups overflowing the bins. No sign of his mystery person, though. He left the room and made his way past the concierge to the elevators.
‘Hey, you, excuse me!’ a member of the hotel staff approached him.
‘Me?’ Ajay pushed up his hat and looked around. Maybe this was it; this was the moment of reckoning! He looked at the guy closely - for what, he really didn’t know, but he still looked the guy closely. Who knew what clues he might be able to pick up.
‘Yes, sorry. I just have one favour to ask. If you don’t mind?’ The staff member shook his head apologetically. ‘We have so much to clean and shortage of staff. I just have small favour to ask.’
‘Take this envelope to Ajay ji’s room if you don’t mind. It has very important message in it he must see by tonight. Important mind you. I tell you which room, wait. One moment ok.’
Ajay blinked. ‘That’s ok, I know which room…’
The man looked up from his clipboard and grinned in relief. ‘Ah. Good, you take it right now? Thank you sir. Thank you.’
And went off.
All the way up to his room, Ajay was just in a daze. The envelope was clutched in his hand still. He reached his door and let himself in. Inside, he turned on all the lights and examined the envelope. Held it up to the light, sniffed it. Well, for however silly he felt, he still had to report that it did have some flowery scent to it. There was only opening it left.
He turned it over to open it, then froze. He peeked through his spy-hole in his door, then opened it and looked both ways. Seeing nothing, he closed it again and bolted the lock. Sat on the bed and opened the envelope. A folded piece of paper slid out.
Ajay licked his lips nervously. Unfolded the paper and smoothed it out. Reading it, he swallowed hard.
Ajay my love,
Surprise!! Hope you really were surprised this time naa! I know you were sooo upset about going all alone and whatnot but chillax jaan! Main hoon na!! Yes!! I’m here waiting for you desperately, come naa. My room is at 340 and I made sure the bed is king size!Wink wink
Come as soon as you get this OK??
Oh my god. Oh my god. Ajay was so shocked. Utterly shocked, and…. Well, of course, he was feeling self-consciously shy.
Who was K? That was the question. He sat down at the hotel desk and thought about who he know who could be K. Kunal…Karthigan…Krishna…..
‘No!’ He slapped his head. Was he stupid? It had to be a girl of course. Duh. King size bed with Kunal? Ew, please. K, K….who could it be. And then, this person obviously had to know he was the Guy in the Hat. Of course. So that narrowed it down to girls who read his blog.
Uhmm. He blushed. How was this possible? He could spend all night puzzling this out, but a quick glance at the clock – 12:46 am – told him that the only way he’s going to find out was by visiting Room 340.
He washed his face and fixed his hair. Checked his breathe. Well, you couldn’t be too sure. King size bed and all…
As he made his way, he concentrated on breathing. For some reason, his lungs were not behaving normally. Maybe it was all that coffee he’d drank. Maybe not.
334, 336…he was almost there when his phone rang. He cursed, checked the display. Dammit, it was his boss, and he couldn’t just ignore it. Dammit! What timing this guy had. He answered it.
‘Ajay! Heard tonight was a good turnout there. Hope you got some good material for us?’
‘Umm yeah. I did sir, but sir it’s just a movie…I’m not sure what point of view to use to connect our services?’
‘You are the writer! We are counting on your great talent son. Satyagraha may just be a movie, but you know what they say these days, you must keep with the trend. We are counting on you my boy.’
‘Well okay sir, but it’s ummm…ah, it is late,’ Ajay faked a loud yawn. ‘And I’m very tired, so………I’ll talk to you soon, ok bye, sir.’
He ended the call and stood, staring at the door in front. 340. He stretched out his hand to knock.
No sooner, the door whipped open and a hand reached out, grabbed him, pulling him inside. Next thing he knew, he was against the door with the arms of a female around him, holding him tight with her face against his shoulder.
‘Um…ahh,’ He didn’t know quite what to say.
She let go and took a step back. And opened her mouth in horror. Ajay winced, hands out, ready to cover his ears, but no scream came out.
They stared at each other for a few seconds.
‘Who are you! How dare you! What are you doing in my room?!’ She threw at him.
Ajay was still stunned, just looking at her this close.
‘Speak to me you besharam! How dare you come in my room like this huh? Who do you think you are? Do you KNOW who I am?’
Still agog, Ajay moved his mouth, then found his voice.
‘Ji ma’am. I…I know who you are.’
‘Abey bol, what are you doing here?’
‘Ma’am, with all due respect, you are the one who, ah, pulled me in….’ He blushed.
She blinked at him. Then retorted, ‘Well who asked you to knock?’
‘Well…you did. Sent me the note…….’
Ajay paused. It all came together. Note to be given to Ajay ji…… ‘Oh crap,’ Ajay slapped his forehead.
‘I didn’t send to YOU!’ She looked incredulous. ‘My god….why on earth…’
‘I am so sorry. Seems, there was some mix-up with names…See, even my name is Ajay…like…’
‘Like my husband’s...’ Kajol Devgan shook her head.
He had been sitting at the café for awhile, drinking his coffee, and as always, when he looked at the last bit of milk left at the bottom of his cup, he felt somewhat glum.
It was another day, the same as any other. Only this time it sucked really bad. Worse. He shook his head. Last time I thought this, it got worse.
He didn’t even feel like checking his phone. Going online. What was the point? He couldn’t tell anyone about his embarrassing experience. Thinking about it again, he buried his face in his hands. How could he have been so dumb? Of course, no one was interested in him.
‘……Helloo? Mind if I sit here?’
He looked up, blinking. Someone was standing in front him. Some girl. He groaned.
‘Listen, I don’t know who you are or...or, who you think I am. Okay? I’m Ajay Kontham!’
‘Umm…okay nice to meet you in person, Mr. Ajay Kontham,’ She smiled at him, just a little bemused. She put out her hand. ‘I’m Sneha. Can I sit with you?’
‘Umm.’ He stared at her hand, like it was a trap. Finally shook it. ‘Yeah…uh, sure, if you’re sure that’s what you really want to do.’
‘Yeah, I’m sure,’ She smiled. ‘So, where’s your hat?’
‘Huh.’ Ajay blinked. ‘My hat. What do you mean?’
‘I liked your hat. Why’d you take it off?’ She grinned at him mischievously. Made quote marks in the air with her fingers, ‘The guy in the hat? Sound familiar?’
‘Yeah. That’s me. How did you know?...’ Ajay paused. ‘Oh! You’re the one who...sent me that first note…I totally forgot about that one…’
‘First note? I only sent one! Popular guy, huh.’
Ajay choked back a laugh. ‘Ha, good joke. Me popular? See that guy over there? Yeah he always gives me my coffee with a heart shape in the milk. Like a joke. When I’m always sitting here alone. No matter which CCD I go. Anyways, I’m sure you just wanted to sit down in peace and not be bothered with me, and I am talking too much as it is ok bye.”
He got up to go. She stood up in a rush with him.
‘No! Please, I wanted to get to know you…I’ve seen you hanging around here and, well I felt like getting to know you…’ She looked away, not meeting his eyes.
‘Me?! Wha…’ His phone went off. It was his boss, dammit. Ajay made a sorry face at Sneha, answered.
‘Ajay! Amazing stuff you got! I cannot believe it! Personal interview with the one and only Kajol? And pictures! That’s way better than what we were expecting! Good work. I will see that you received a salary raise for this myself. You have a brilliant future with us, my boy. Okay got to go. See you back soon.’
Ajay hung up, slowly. His career was looking good. In fact, damn great. And now…he looked at Sneha. She was cute. Damn cute. And she was interested in him.
‘Uhh. Sorry that was my boss. So Sneha…um, sorry…’
‘Oh.’ She hung her head. ‘You don’t want to know me either na, it’s okay…I...just, I was here to cover the conference, am a junior reporter trainee from Bangalore, don’t know this place too well…and I just thought …well nevermind.’
‘No, ahm…no, I was going to ask, can I get you a coffee, maybe? One of those kinds that guy always makes me?’
She looked up, met his eyes. Smiled.
He smiled back.
Written by :
This would sound confusing to a lot of people, as a matter of fact to every person reading my blog ( in case someone is still here, thanks for that). So, coming straight to the point I received an email from a blogger friend titled 'Surprise ;)' . Believe me it was a real surprise and I wasn't expecting like this happen to my mailbox, ever. It had an attachment which was titles 'CCD'. I knew it who had sent it. Yeah right, the 'From' at the top of the email also refers to the person who sent it. ( I actually saw the attachment before I read the email.) But anyways, it was a guest post. So, without much ado I present you IQ who blogs at "Supercalifragilisticsexyalidocious™" . I can't thank her enough. Like I told her, I am still searching for words to express my gratitude. Words don't do justice here. A simple Thank You, or a Thank you multiplied by 100, still won't be enough.
And believe me, the character in the story is so perfectly described as me. Not any less, not any more. I mean how could one even read someone, get to know someone that well. I think that is what is commonly known as talent. Seriously, I am blown away, like really into bits and pieces ( okay, it was a figure of speech). The post actually has 7 chapters. I actually thought of posting one chapter after the another. But anyway, I am posting all at once.
Your Question : Why are you wasting out time with this instead of posting that guest post already ?
I really don't know the answer to that question. Like I mentioned earlier, I am still searching for words and overwhelming ( if I can put it more correctly). And also that post is just too awesome to just let out for the whole world to read ( Its' only a handful). So,.. umm.. hmm.. !
Thank you once again, IQ. You have no idea what this means. And wait, the best part is when I mentioned that 'I somehow felt a little indebted' she just said "NOOO dont dont. Dosti mein kya indebted shebted pshhh". (She probably might kill me for bringing this up in my post, but I had to. That is like most people say , "AWWW That's sweet" . Okay I will stop now) And that, my dear friends left me speechless.
Ajay Kontham / The Guy in the Hat / The Luminary / The Idealist / The Deathstalker
(Simply put, One crazy geeky dude)
Saturday, November 30, 2013
He never knew that this day would ever come. Or even he would be entitled to such a luxury. Or even that he would be so blessed to have this opportunity. That boy, that little kid was finally pursuing his dream. It is still a dream to him, but he will get used to it.
This boy is just an ordinary kid. He was no different. The only thing was that he was poor and more sadly he had no family. He wandered on the streets but never begged a single time. He worked, worked his way to earn a decent meal at the end of the day. And nonetheless he was enriched with knowledge. Not that knowledge that we seek in the books, but rather people. He had traveled places in pursuit of job, a little money to satisfy his little appetite. He studied people. He was a reader he never knew. On one such journey, he saw a mother reading a story to her kid. He was fascinated. He fell in love with the idea, he fell in love with the books. He wanted to read. His priorities changed. He started sacrificing his meal for the books. But then again he was disappointed when he discovered he couldn't make sense of what was written. He couldn't read. But that didn't stop him. He asked people on his journeys the letters. And slowly and gradually he could read. But still he wanted to enrich that little knowledge he gained. He knew he wasn't perfect, but still he moved forward in his pursuit. He sneaked into the school dress which he once got on some work and went to a school. He jumbled through the classes trying to learn as much as possible before he gets caught, which he did. The Principal of the school was moved by his passion to pursue reading, studying and also more impressed with his insight on the people which he gained along the way reading people. The school in which he stumbled into is a charitable organization and was capable of providing the basic education till he grows. This boy couldn't believe his luck. He was happier than anyone in the planet. That day this boy dressed in the school dress with a bag full of books entered the holy place of education in pursuit of knowledge. Holy, because he never believed in god till that day but still prayed to him.
Now he enters the church he never had dreamed would ever be able to step into, in pursuit of his quest, the quest for knowledge.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
'Had I looked back', Would things be any different? I asked this question over a thousand times. And every single time the answer was 'Yes'. I was arrogant and adamant. In one such encounter I lost my nerve and decided to never return back. I left them. I am sure, I heard a loud scream, but I didn't care. I was very much annoyed. I was sure they would take me back in a heartbeat. But I felt guilty. I felt a part of me lost.
And now I am all alone for all those I left behind, left the world the very same day. I was too late to realize that the simple happy things are always around us. If only.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
I always wondered what the writer's block was. Okay, this might sound crazy and even more stupider but this was my thoughts on the meaning of writer's block. When I first heard the phrase 'Overcoming the Writer's Block' I was a little confused that I might be on the wrong side of the page. I actually thought that the Block ( actually meaning not able to proceed further ) meant a group of writers ( distinguished and highly qualified). So, the block that I was thinking of sounds, like I said, stupid. When I was a kid, I used to live in the company quarters. There were individual houses and then there were apartments. So, these apartments were named Block A to G. So, you see. Now, I guess you get the gist , right?
Then I started hearing the phrase more often. I had started believing that I am not only on the wrong page, not even the wrong book, but on a totally different planet. I couldn't make sense of it until I realized the actual meaning. What I made of this ? Nothing! What I wanted to convey from this? I ain't no perfect in the slightest possible way. Let me elaborate this.
There are a lot of people around me whom I have tried to inspire my best so that they could get their skills to the better of themselves. I mean writing. Like I said, I have never been good at English. As I write this, I still feel, I have made some grammatical mistakes and also the whole layout of so called writing. I still don't know. But there is a problem. People believe that I am better at writing or lets just keep it to English. Believe me, I am exactly the opposite. So, when I say 'Hey, why don't you start writing. I am sure you will be a good writer', to which I get replies like 'I don't know man, I am not good in English' or 'I am not good at writing'. Ahem, Ahem! Look at me. I pretend to be an awesome writer but at the end of the day, I just drift into sleep hoping that I will be perfect one day ( umm, lets forget about my insomnia and pretend that I regularly sleep at nights at correct time ).
So, my dear friends who think they are not capable of writing, believe me you could do wonders. You just have to believe. And when you reply back praising me for my skills or comparing yours to mine, I really don't know whether I should laugh or cry.
Anyways, I am facing serious issues with this writer block. I have tried to overcome it, but alas! I haven't been much successful about it. And then again, there is a friend of mine, who had started blogging like an year back and who was inconsistent with his blog-posting, has finally picked up the lifting ground and is upbeat about it and is striding forward and that too in an awesome way.
Now I am stuck, again. I am not even able to write about my "writer's block" condition. Hopefully, I will come up with much better posts.