Thursday, 27 December 2007

Ode to the Past !!

It was a cold dark night after Christmas as I hurried home from the theatre. The street was dimly lit and the cold wind whistled in the alleys. Not many people were out that night, everyone was at home spending time with their family.
As I walked past a beautifully lit house I spotted an old friend inside. She was almost lost in the crowd of people who were partying. Many a summer ago we had been inseparable friends. We had both begun our career as makeup assistants in a small theatre in a long forgotten city. My boss, a tall burly fellow with a loud voice and a charming smile had introduced me to her on my first day at work. Since then we had laughed, cried and shared so many emotions with each other. But then life pulled us apart. She built her own world and from sharing everything with each other here we were today, sharing nothing. She was happy in her new world and I was standing alone in the cold dark street, a mere spectator to her happiness.
I turned away, angry and miserable. I had no interest in this gaiety and no time to waste. I had to get home before it was too late. I needed my medicines on time. With the pharmacies closed for the holiday I could not get any help if I had one more attack. Just as I was about to walk away I felt a small congestion in my chest. I was about to have another attack. As fear gripped me I lost my balance and fell down on the sidewalk. My backpack lay next to me and it's contents spilled out.
As I looked around frantically I saw a face at the window of the house I had been staring at, it was her, she had finally seen me. I would be safe now. But no, she didn't appear to recognize me. There was just a look of pity in her eyes. No sign of recognition. This was not true. It must be a dream. I shut my eyes and tried to close my arms around myself. Just then my hand touched a small bottle, it was my medicine and lo behold I still had a single tablet. With a lot of care I swallowed the tablet and lay still for a little while. The pain subsided and I felt stronger. After another five minutes I managed to to sit up and pack my bag carefully. As I looked up she was still standing there looking at me but looking at me as a stranger looks upon another stranger. As I slowly stood up I saw her draw the curtains of the window and walk away. She had seen a stranger on the road recover from an attack. With a thousand thoughts in my mind I walked away, never looking back and never wanting to look back again.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Starting Over !!!!!!

Of late I have been wondering what people feel like when they get divorced. I don't mean what celebrities like Britney Spears feel on getting divorced. I mean people who take marriage seriously. People who take relationships serioulsy. What do they feel like when a relationship falls apart, a relationship in which they have have invested years of their life. How hard would it be to admit it that it will no longer work, no matter how hard you try. How do they convince themself that no matter how nice their "spouse" was they were just not meant to be togther.
Lately I heard of a lady whose marriage fell apart after 27 years of marriage. All her friends could say was "he was no-good". Well, after 27 years does it make sense to say that ? What about how she held the family together for 27 years ? Didn't that count ? Well maybe it didn't and that's why they got divorced eventually.
One thing which never ceases to amaze me is how they gather the courage to pick the pieces of their life together and move on. How do you get used to living a life where you don't see the same face every morning, hearing the same voice everyday seeing the same smile. How do you get used to not talking to the same person everyday, sharing your life with them as you always did ?
And does it ever feel like that it was a waste of some of the most precious years of your life ? How do they convince themselves that letting go is the only option, the only solution. Doesn't the idea of building life from scratch frighten them ? And yet they take this decision. It's sad and depressing but do they eventually find what they were hoping from, peace of mind. I am not sure. But I sure hope they do, because starting over requires an immense amount of courage and determination.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Seeing Green !!

A wise man once said "Make money, money by fair means if you can, if not, but any means money" and so right was he. Whoever said that money cannot buy happiness didn't even know what would make him happy.
At times I wonder how different my life would have been if I had been rich. Better, certainly, but how much better. Well the first thing I would have done would be to put my career on track. Instead of taking the long road home I would have just got there. My years of hardwork would have been cut by half if not more. So where is the all the money ?? In the bank account of the rich and in funds being distributed to the destitutes of the world. Unfortunately I fall in neither category. In fact I do not fall in any category which would enable me to get scholarship or any form of financial aid.
I have just done a quick survey of available loans and scholarships and discovered how unique I am. I am neither a US citizen, nor a green card holder, have no US co-signor, am not a black or Hispanic, do not live in DC area, am not a scientist doing work which will make the world a better place, do not belong to a minority group, do not fall below the minimum income level, do not belong to a poorly represented community in US, do not have immovable property, basically, I am stuck without money.
No matter how hard I wish I can never find the money to live my dreams. After all I know at the end of the day "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride".

Apologies !!!!!!

When was the last time you apologised to anyone ..... ??? When was the last time you apologised to somebody even though you knew you were not wrong .... ??? I did recently and I am feeling like shit because of that. Whoever said apologizing clears the air. I hate to think I had to eat humble pie when I was NOT wrong.
So what made me do it ?? Not love for the person, not respect but simply fear that my career would be jeopardized if I didn't. After all I have come this far fighting a lot of odds and I would hate to end it all one fine day because of somebody's whim. I hope I reach a level when I will be so firmly placed in my life that no one and nothing can uproot my career. Till that day I will just have to plaster a smile on my face and keep my ego on a leash.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Quest for Eldorado ....

You never find it ... no matter how hard you try... You never find true happiness .. true joy or true satisfaction.. it's always a few inches ahead of think you can reach it with your finger tips if you stretch enough.. but all the stretching falls short by a hair's breadth. At times I think I will be happy if I get just this 1 last thing.. but I am never happy... I don't mean I am sad ... it's just that I don't know yet what being ecstatic is. What would it feel like to sleep one night without having a few thousand goals and desires in my mind.
On second thoughts wouldn't that sleep be death. End of desires, goals, amibitions and wants. Wouldn't I be reduced to a vegetable. Do I really want an end to desires ? After all everytime I reach a goal and set 10 more goals formyself I am progressing, growing as an individual and moving closer to the peak called success. I am where I am today because I dared to dream big and I have even bigger dreams today. Dreams which I hope to turn into reality one fine day. Maybe I love myself for what I am. Someone who is never staisfied with what she has. I always want what I don't have and fight tooth and nail to get it. I don't always get it but I never feel I did not try. I love all my failures as much as I love my success since they taught me where to draw the lines for dreaming. One day I will stop dreaming... and chasing my dreams.. and maybe that day I would be virtually dead. But till then I will always keep searching for that elusive quality called true happiness.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

My Life as a student

I am a student again. After 3 years of working as a professional in the IT industry I am back in school. When I give it a thought I love the fact that I worked for 3 years before I returned to studies but just once in a while I don’t. I love the fact that I have a lot of knowledge about the industry and how it functions, I know what it means to be a professional and I love the fact that being older than most students here I realize I am running short of time and time is precious, so I try and never waste time. What I don’t like is living life on a shoe string budget. That sucks !!! I don’t like that being so much elder to students here I cannot find many like minded people to befriend. I always end up feeling so ….. OLD. And lastly I miss getting drunk till the wee hours in the morning with a bunch of friends on a Friday night.

New Life !!

A new life.. a new city.. a new country and lots to look forward to. After one and a half months in US I have to admit I love this country. It isn’t exactly what I had expected but then my expectations have always been very high. Yet it inspires me to strive harder and move towards my goal. After my first visit to New York a friend asked me “Did you get the feel that Manhattan is the place where you belong ??” My reply was “ No.. I didn’t get that feel but I did know this is where I WANT to belong someday. A part of the group of people who make the world economy and businesses run.” . the biggest and most dynamic city in the world, New York epitomizes everything that I had thought about America.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Kolkata as I saw it......

During my stay in Kolkata for the past 2 months I learnt that not only does the city have a 400 year old history it also feels 400 years old. With due respect to all residents of Kolkata I have to admit I find the idea of living in Kolkata frightening. It is a city which can drain the life out of every living being. Inspite of the fact that it is one of the 4 metros in India it neither feels nor looks like a metro. Firstly commuting in the city is very difficult if not impossible. The buses, the lifeline of the city and are always overcrowded. Getting up on such buses is a feat in itself. The other modes of traveling are the metro rail, autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws and hand drawn rickshaws. The metro rail though very convenient has only a single route and leaves residents with no opther option but to take the buses and rickshaws. Rickshaws run only within a certain sector. No rickshaw from 1 sector will enter another sector. To top it off rickshaws are hired on sharing basis. And of course there are taxis. However they are exorbitantly priced and except for exceptional situations no one hires a taxi. Secondly geting any work done in the city is like hitting your head against a brick wall. Starting from the Telephone Exchange to hospitals to blood banks nothing functions in favour of the common man unless you have contacts with influential people. I visited the Telephone Exchange hoping to get the much advertised Broadband for Rs 250 installed at home. After 3 visits to the office without tons of documents I was told that it would be 3 months before I could get a new connection. This inspite of the fact that I already have a landline at home. I knew that moment that the only thing I could do at that point was give up hope. So I survived 2 months without constant internet connection visiting internet cafes in my locality till I fractured my leg and then even that had to stop. As for healthcare in Kolkata the less said the better. It must me every man's nightmare to fall ill but falling ill in Kolkata is like your worst nightmare come true and to have one of your loved one fall ill is worse. Now what could be worse than your nightmare coming true....Not sure..I tried thinking about it but couldn't find the right words. So I will just leave taht to your imagination.
Actually living in Kolkata is like trying to live in an ancient city of Hampi today. It had a glorious past but revelling in the glories of the past will never help the city. Maybe it will jsut remain a beutiful chapter in the history of India but in the current era of liberalisation it's name will be lost. The only signs of modernity in the city is corruption and poverty. Corruption which has become so deepseated that it will be hard to pull out. Ofcourse I admit that corruption exists in other cities too but then so does a better life. In Kolkata everyday is a fight for survival. And living in this city for 1 year can reduce any average person's life span by 10 years.
Actually I would love to write more about that city .....more about my experiences there. But I am just not in the mood now. I will definitely write 1 about "hell-th care in Kolkata" very soon. For today i guess I will just post this much.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

American Visa

After a month of tension, confusion and apprehension I finally got my visa. Yes, it’s all done and my days in Bangalore are coming to an end. I had heard that getting a visa was enough to make you crazy but I didn’t know you had to bear the brunt of heat, hunger and humidity before we would be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the Consulate. After standing for 3 hours in the sweltering Chennai heat I along with a few hundred people stepped into the inner chamber of the consulate where the actual visa interview would take place. After another hour of waiting I managed to reach the counter where my future would be decided. And like all other plans I have ever made this too came with a backup. If it didn’t work I would have gone to Kolkata and looked for a job there. However it didn’t come to that. After a smile, a nod and just 2 questions I got my visa. It was as simple as that. I didn’t even need to take out papers from my file pertaining to the finances which I had got from my Dad. I guess I was too strung up without a reason. But then would I have said the same if I didn’t get the visa. I guess not.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Date with an Eye Candy….!!!!

Ok…to begin with it was NOT really a date…but I choose to call it that. It might at least increase the readership of this post ;) . And just to ensure a little bit of privacy for my “eye-candy” I will refrain from using his real name. I will just call him Jay. Why Jay? I don’t know, that’s the first name which struck me when I wanted a pseudo name for him. Well Jay was in Bangalore for the Aerosmith’s concert and we decided to catch up for lunch. I was pretty excited to meet him, after all I believe he looks like Adonis (inspite of the fact that my friend thinks he looks like the “guy-next-door”) and seeing Adonis in person sounds like an interesting prospect.
Well that excitement was pretty short lived. For one Jay decided to bring along his friend for the lunch. I am not very comfortable with new people and am no expert in making polite conversation over lunch. However putting this across to him was not possible as I could imagine what his reaction would be if I told him I wanted to meet him “alone”. It would give out all the wrong signals. So very reluctantly I went ahead to meet him, all the time convincing myself that it wouldn’t be as bad as I had imagined it to be. I was right, it wasn’t as bad as my imagination, it was far worse. To begin with I behaved like a dork, looked like a slob and made the worst possible first impression. It was a wonder that he put with me. The cat got my tongue and I barely opened my mouth during the entire lunch. The only time I did, I told him I visited “India Gate” in Mumbai….. (yeah……India Gate in Mumbai and not Gateway of India…so much for my high IQ). I guess that was the last straw, a dumb (literally and figuratively) nerd is not anyone’s idea of good company. Next, I ate Chinese (or Indian Chinese as I call it) for lunch. I know most people love Chinese .. but I don’t. That too the Indian version of Chinese with too many spices is just not on my list of favourites. And lastly to top it all Jay’s friend’s client (or so I gathered from their conversation… since I was not introduced to him I have no idea who he was) paid for the food. It was the second most embarrassing moment in my life (the first being in school when a neighbour who owned a taxi offered to drop me to school…I and my friends hopped in thinking we were getting a free ride to school and all this while he was just doing business….when we reached school and he asked for money..we wished we were dead…between the 3 of us we didn’t have enough cash to pay him off…so he just drove off..probably cursing us..). I was thanking a complete stranger for my lunch, somebody who I had not even said a single word to during the course of the meal. How I wished I could just vaporize at that moment. But alas !! nothing like that happened and I barely managed to give this kind soul a feeble smile and walk out of that restaurant. The next thing I did was thank Jay for the lunch and walk back to office in a daze. We didn't speak after that and I have my doubts if he will ever want to talk to me again.
Three days later, sitting in front of my PC, listening to music and writing this blog I realize this is where I fit best. Nerds don’t fit in a social gatherings with too many people. Living life as a recluse suits me best and yes, I love this life. As for my next lunch it sure won’t be Chinese nor will I be sharing my lunch table with anybody else. Not for a long ..long time.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

6th Gear

Sometimes to move on in life, you need to turn around one last time. Just the way you need to put your car in reverse gear to get out of a dead end. For the past 9 months I had been fighting a losing battle with myself to get over the past. Today things are so much easier. I took 1 small step behind and am cruising forward now without any hurdles. I thought it would take me forever to get a fresh lease of life but it was all in my mind. I had gotten over the pain long back but it just took me a little looking back to realize it. Like Steinbeck once said “Some people think it’s an insult to the glory of their sickness to get well. But the time poultice is no respecter of glories. Everyone gets well if he waits around”.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

I'm moving.....

After living in my present house for two and a half years I am finally moving, yes, moving into a new house. And during the course of cleaning and packing my wardrobe I came across a few reminders from my past, some pieces of paper which can bring back a deluge of memories, both bitter and sweet, for quite some time now the bitter memories have been more overpowering. Memories which could once bring a smile to my face make me only misty eyed now. It was then I realized that this move is giving me not just an opportunity to move into a new house but also a long awaited chance to move on in life. I could let go of the past and make a fresh new start. So finally after contemplating and re-contemplating over this issue for a day I decided to burn the papers.
Watching the papers burn last night was probably the most gratifying experience I had in a long long time. I have no idea why Hindu dead bodies are cremated, no idea what the Vedas say about it but I suddenly realized then that burning the dead must be something very good. Good for both the dead and those who are left behind to deal with the loss and pain. The fire and flames makes the end seem real and final. To see the papers turn to ashes made me realize that there was no turning back, no chance of reversal. And yes no more chance for me to sit and glorify pain and tragedy. And all my fears that once I burnt them I would want them back so desperately died too. I felt absolutely nothing like that. I knew I was letting go off a lot …but then it was all for good since I was letting go off pain, tears, remorse, self pity and huge amount of grief. No matter what I do next in life, good or bad it will never be the same mistake or the same pain. I am now ready to make a fresh new start and a whole lot of fresh new mistakes but I know there will be no regression at my end, ever. I am finally moving on.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

13 Dec-A Reader

I am posting this particular post hoping that every human being who still believes in the victory of good over evil will read it without any prejudices and distinction of caste and religion. What follows is an excerpt from Arundhati Roy’s introduction to 13 December - A Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament. The essays in the reader are by A G Noorani, Arundhati Roy, Ashok Mitra, Indira Jaising, Jawed Naqvi, Mihir Srivastava, Nandita Haskar, Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Praful Bidwai, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Sonia Jabbar, Syed Bismillah Geelani and Tripta Wahi.

Most people, or let’s say many people, when they encounter real facts and a logical argument, do begin to ask the right questions. Public unease continues to grow. A group of citizens have come together as a committee (chaired by Nirmala Deshpande) to publicly demand a Parliamentary enquiry into the episode. There is an on-line petition demanding the same thing. Thousands of people have signed on. Every day new articles appear in the papers, on the net. At least half a dozen web sites are following the developments closely. They raise questions about how Mohammad Afzal, who never had proper legal representation, can be sentenced to death, without having had an opportunity to be heard, without a fair trial. They raise questions about fabricated evidence, procedural flaws and the outright lies that were presented in court and published in newspapers. They show how there is hardly a single piece of evidence that stands up to scrutiny.
And then, there are even more disturbing questions that have been raised, which range beyond the fate of Mohammad Afzal.

Question 1: For months before the Attack on Parliament, both the government and the police had been saying that Parliament could be attacked. On 12 December 2001, at an informal meeting the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee warned of an imminent attack on Parliament. On 13 December Parliament was attacked. Given that there was an ‘improved security drill’, how did a car bomb packed with explosives enter the parliament complex?

Question 2: Within days of the Attack, the Special Cell of Delhi Police said it was a meticulously planned joint operation of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba. They said the attack was led by a man called ‘Mohammad’ who was also involved in the hijacking of IC-814 in 1998. (This was later refuted by the CBI.) None of this was ever proved incourt. What evidence did the Special Cell have for its claim?

Question 3: The entire attack was recorded live on Close Circuit TV (CCTV). Congress Party MP Kapil Sibal demanded in Parliament that the CCTV recording be shown to the members. He was supported by the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Najma Heptullah, who said that there was confusion about the details of the event. The chief whip of the Congress Party, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, said, ‘I counted six men getting out ofthe car. But only five were killed. The close circuit TV camera recording clearly showed the six men.’ If Dasmunshi was right, why did the police say that there were only five people in the car? Who was the the sixth person? Where is he now? Why was the CCTV recording not produced by the prosecution as evidence in the trial? Why was it not released for public viewing?

Question 4: Why was Parliament adjourned after some of these questions were raised?

Question 5: A few days after 13 December, the government declared that it had ‘incontrovertible evidence’ of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack, and announced a massive mobilization of almost half a million soldiers to the Indo-Pakistan border. The subcontinent was pushed to the brink of nuclear war. Apart from Afzal’s ‘confession’, extracted under torture (and later set aside by the Supreme Court), what was the ‘incontrovertible evidence’?

Question 6: Is it true that the military mobilization to the Pakistan border had begun long before the 13 December Attack?

Question 7: How much did this military standoff, which lasted for nearly a year, cost? How many soldiers died in the process? How many soldiers and civilians died because of mishandled landmines, and how many peasants lost their homes and land because trucks and tanks were rolling through their villages, and landmines were being planted in their fields?

Question 8: In a criminal investigation it is vital for the police to show how the evidence gathered at the scene of the attack led them to the accused. How did the police reach Mohammad Afzal? The Special Cell says S.A.R. Geelani led them to Afzal. But the message to look out for Afzal was actually flashed to the Srinagar Police before Geelani was arrested. So how did the Special Cell connect Afzal to the 13 December Attack?

Question 9: The courts acknowledge that Afzal was a surrendered militant who was in regular contact with the security forces, particularly the Special Task Force (STF) of Jammu & Kashmir Police. How do the security forces explain the fact that a person under their surveillance was able to conspire in a major militant operation?

Question 10: Is it plausible that organizations like Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed would rely on a person who had been in and out of STF torture chambers, and was under constant police surveillance, as the principal link for a major operation?

Question 11: In his statement before the court, Afzal says that he was introduced to ‘Mohammed’ and instructed to take him to Delhi by a man called Tariq, who was working with the STF. Tariq was named in the police charge sheet. Who is Tariq and where is he now?

Question 12: On 19 December 2001, six days after the Parliament Attack, Police Commissioner, Thane (Maharashtra), S.M. Shangari identified one of the attackers killed in the Parliament Attack as Mohammad Yasin Fateh Mohammed (alias Abu Hamza) of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, who had been arrested in Mumbai in November 2000, and immediately handed over to the J&K Police. He gave detailed descriptions to support his statement. IfPolice Commissioner Shangari was right, how did Mohammad Yasin, a man in the custody of the J&K Police, end up participating in the Parliament Attack? If he was wrong, where is Mohammad Yasin now?

Question 13: Why is it that we still don’t know who the five dead ‘terrorists’ killed in the Parliament Attack are?

The following are links to 2 essays which are part of this book and another article by Nirmalangshu Mukherji on the same incident.

1. Guilty of an Unsolved Crime - Mihir Srivastava
2. India's Shame - Arundhati Roy
3. Who Attacked Parliament - Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Monday, 30 April 2007

After 7 years

I never had a road roller run over me but I know exactly how it will feel. The same as it feels after having played badminton for 4 hours after 7 years. Yes, I played badminton this weekend and every single bone and muscle in my body is killing me now. Given a choice I would NEVER have ventured into the badminton court by myself. However it being a team building initiative in office there was no way I could have skipped it. We have a team building activity each month and a badminton match was what was decided upon for this month.
It was a bright sunny Saturday afternoon and I very reluctantly stepped out of home after an extremely heavy lunch for the club (the venue for the match). Yes, you heard it right. The game was to be played post lunch on a typical Indian summer afternoon. I wonder if POWs are treated any worse. Some may say (and some did) I could have skipped lunch but I was invited to a friend’s place for lunch and I promised to be there. The plans had been made two weeks earlier and I did not want to cancel that plan at all. After all it’s not every day I get good home made food.
Anyways once I reached the club I got into the mood and very happily and very enthusiastically joined the match. After all I realized badminton was the only game I could play besides solitaire, minesweeper, roadrash and their likes and if I had actually gone to the club it only made sense to try and enjoy myself.
So after 7 years I picked a badminton racquet and swung into action. I played for around 2 hours and then started feeling the first repercussions of my act. I could not bend down to pick up the shuttlecock. My back was hurting and I had a feeling that my backbone had turned into steel. It just would not bend. Anyways at that point it was just my back and finally at 18:00 in the evening we wound up and left for home. I went home and applied ice to my arm where I had hurt myself pretty badly after holding my racquet in an odd manner.
If I thought that my hand and back hurt that night I was being completely silly because it wasn’t till the next morning that the pain actually set in. Every muscle and every bone in my body was aching. I was not even aware of the existence of so many muscles in my body till then. But since I had an appointment with the dentist Sunday morning I woke up earlier than I would have wanted to and left home. Every second that day I was made aware of the existence of so many muscles and bones in my body by the extreme pain. Simple daily tasks like brushing my teeth, sitting on a chair, climbing a staircase, changing my dress all required tremendous effort and I had to bite my tongue each time I did anything to stop myself from screaming out loud. To make things worse I have my bed on the floor and every time I lied down I wished I would not need to stand up again and every time I stood up I hoped there would not be any need to bend/sit down.
It’s shocking that at my age I feel like an octogenarian. I should seriously join a gym to get myself back in shape. After all once I used to pride myself on being fit and fine, in perfect shape to go trekking at the drop of a hat. I guess those days are gone now. With my sedentary lifestyle it’s more than enough that I can still walk a few kilometers when required. All I know is my colleagues are not going to see my face at the next monthly party no matter where it is. I need to rest and rest for at least another 7 years.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Tabloid Journalism

The marriage of the decade is finally over. Yes, Abhishek Bachhan is finally (happily) married to Aishwarya Rai and I sincerely hope the circus will end here. I admit that a high profile wedding of the lady touted by the Indian media as “the most beautiful woman in the world” with the most eligible bachelor in the country calls for excitement and media coverage. But I must say that the media went overboard trying to get the better of each other and each TV channel claiming to show the so-called “exclusive” images of the gates to the Bachhan home in Mumbai.
Some might say that I could have easily flicked channels but then if I want to watch the news I cannot watch any other channel but a news channel and no channel no matter how serious an image it has tried to build till now could stay away from the gates of the Bachhan home with a camera. As was very rightly said by an intelligent person the only channels which did not show pictures of the wedding were “Animal Planet” and “Nat Geo” The journalists were literally camping on the road in sheer hope of getting an exclusive shot of the couple. In my attempt to get some news I flicked to a channel which had their correspondent outside Aishwarya’s home and the news reader at the studio wanted to know from their correspondent what was on the menu for the guests at Aishwarya’s home and if he could figure out the menu from the aroma wafting out of the cordoned area. Now what could have been more absurd? Of course I had a good laugh at the cost of the news reader and his sub-zero IQ. At times I wonder what kind of IQ these news readers have. Or maybe they have an IQ but have simply sold their souls for the sake of higher TRP and greater viewership. Maybe with liberalisation in India everything has been commercialised, and that too to such an extent that news too has not been able to remain untouched by this trend.
Well I guess this trend will not get any better now, we can only hope it does not get worse and yes I hope this wedding proves to be one of those “lived happily ever after” type of wedding. I couldn’t bear to see 2 more weddings of this kind. I mean Abhishek getting married to some X and Aishwarya getting married to some Y. The thought is enough to give me goose bumps. May this couple live happily ever after. Amen!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Moral Policing

I read a news article yesterday about an intercaste marriage in Bhopal which sent the saffron brigade on a rampage. They called for a strike in the city and asked for annulment of the marriage. They claimed that though a girl above 18 maybe legally an adult they still cannot make right decisions. Even after intervention by the Bombay High Court the VHP Leader had to say the following “The court has heard only one side of the case. The VHP will plead against it”.
Now there are just 2 sides to a wedding, the bride’s and the groom’s. Whoever gave the VHP any right to have a say in the wedding of every Indian be it a Hindu’s or a Non-Hindu ? How long will Indians live under the ominous shadow of the moral police ? People who claim that they are the guardians of our customs and traditions and can die or kill before anyone offends our(their) religious feelings. I am a Hindu and speaking for myself I can say that the wedding in Bhopal has not hurt my religious feelings nor did I feel ashamed. What embarasses me is the reaction of these Hindu Activist groups which claim that they speak for all the Hindus in the country each time an act by an innocent Hindu brushes their feathers the wrong way. It embarsses me too see them hold an entire city hostage to put forward a cause which is so much against the ideals of the “secular” State of India.
Do the Hindus of the country actually need to be taught and told what they can do and what they cannot as it hurts the religious sentiments of their fellow countrymen. Aren’t we all old and mature enough to differentiate the right from wrong. When will people in my country learn not to blow small issues out of proportion? When will they learn to focus their attention on more important issues like AIDS, corruption, global warming and ofcourse India’s biggest problem, population.

Growing Up

"You have grown up the day you realise that your parent don't have the answer to all your questions and solutions to all your problems".

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Ode to Rum

Fifteen men on a dead men’s chest,
Yo, Ho, ho and a bottle of Rum

-Robert Lewis Stevenson

I love rum and for very long I have been considering writing a post about it. I was initially wondering what I should write exactly. Should I begin with the history of rum, how it is prepared and state other facts related to it or should I dwell on my personal experiences with rum..ahem. I finally decided to make it a combination of the two. After all a post like life should have many flavours.
Rum is made from sugarcane molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate is then aged in casks. So much from boring sugarcanes? It’s pretty interesting. As a kid I hated sugarcane as it always hurt my gums and even when I drank the extracted juice from the tacky roadside carts I hated the “iron-like” taste which I attributed to the cheap machines. Now if only I had tasted rum then I would have had a very different opinion about sugarcanes, but then again who knows I might have found the taste awful then. The largest production of rum happens in the Caribbean Islands and in South America. Rum is also produced in certain other countries however the Caribbean stands out as the finest producer. Rum has been over the ages associated with pirates, sailors soldiers and adventurers. Robert Louis Stevenson in his book “Treasure Island” immortalized the association between the pirates and rum in his famous pirate song. The verse was later completed by American writer Young Ewing Allison in his poem “Derelict”.
I first drank rum in a pub in Bangalore and fell in love with it instantly. Just a few pegs and the world already looked so much better. I was happier in seconds and could see the brighter side of all issues. Man can anything beat that. And yes it’s cheap too. Not like certain drinks which give me a pleasant high but when I lay my eyes on the cheque I get shock which is equivalent to a few buckets of cold water being poured on my head. I can very well do without those drinks. Rum rules!!!
Of late I have been trying to experiment with rum, blending different types of cocktails though not very successfully. And I just came up with the brilliant idea of mixing rum, Pepsi and vanilla ice cream, yes you heard it right vanilla ice-cream into a smoothie and having it as my desert. As of now the idea appears awesome and I am just waiting for a weekend when I will be able to implement my plan.
Just for the sake of facts I was looking into the origins of rum and realised that there are too many claims with respect to that. Even wikipedia says its origin could have been in various places as distant from each other as India, China, Malaysia, Iran and Barbados. All I can say is I am glad it had its origin somewhere and I am living in the era post its origin. Of course I just have to add that the first guy who picked sugarcane molasses and fermented the same deserves a pat on the back from my end. May his/her soul rest in peace for centuries.
As for me I will just wait for the opportunity to whip up my delectable ice-cream cocktail. Maybe this weekend…..maybe next…or maybe ….

Tuesday, 10 April 2007


I just finished reading George Orwell’s 1984 and I am speechless when it comes to describing the book in 1 word. Recommended to me around one and half years back it took me a long time to actually read it. The book relates the story of Winston Smith and his moral destruction by the totalitarian state of Oceania of which he is a citizen.
The narration of the story and the unfolding of the plot is brilliant. The characters of Winston, Julia, Mr Charrington, O’Brien, Goldstein and the formiddable Big Brother are well crafted and speaks volumes about the care taken to build the perfect plot. The book as a whole is an exceptional piece of literarary work. However there are a few points and concepts of the book which I found amazing and cannot help but discuss.

  • Totalitarian Governance : The Government of Oceania headed by Big Brother controls every aspect of the life of the party members. The government not only controlled the individuals but also the past and the future. The Ministry of Truth dealt with writing and rewriting history to ensure that it said only what would be beneficial for Big Brother and the party. All books and refrences to the period before 1960 had been scrapped and no written record other than that maintained by the Ministry of Truth existed. Every piece of paper and record which questioned the stand of the Government was put down the memory hole. So is it actually possible to control the future and the past ? After all like mentioned in the book past is not “Happening” somehwere. It exist only in memories and records and if both could be controlled the past itself was being controlled. What happens if the past is altered and retold to us in a different manner ? What if the same happens today ? How would we deal with it ?
  • Thought Crime : As Winston aptly says, “Thought crime does not entail death, Thought Crime IS death” in Oceania. Each individual’s life is kept under strich surveillance and his/her every move is monitored closely. There were telescreens and microphones fitted in every place to monitor the party members and their movement. Even children were taught to report their parents to the Thought Police if they ever saw, overheard or noticed any signs of treachery. Friends, spouses, children no one could be trusted. This was a spine chilling idea. Loss of freedom and policing of the mind could very well lead many of us to prison. After all how many of us have never thought of revolting against the government? Or a thought which made us feel guity later.
  • DoubleThink : The ability to believe in 2 contradictory views at the same time. The mind would say that 2+2=4. However to believe that 2+2=5 simply because the party says so was to doublethink. It was sanity defined all over again. Can truth be altered simply because the majority believe so ? A whole nation of people can believe that the sun rises from th west. So can a entire nation denying the truth actually falsify it ?
  • Newspeak : The new language of the future. The language which would limit vocabulary and eventually curtail all thoughts leading to betrayal and revolution of any sort. It would abolish words which could explain the concept of political freedom. This idea in itself is amazing for the human mind cannot imagine anything which it cannot articulate. It is difficult to present an abstract idea when there are no befitting words. This revelation increases my respect for language tenfold. Not only can language determine what we say now, it can also determine what we think and say much later. It can decide our future and even the future of a nation and maybe the world too.
  • SelfPreservation over Love : Winston’s only claim to being human was his love for Julia and he firmly believed that the Thought Police could never get into his mind and end his love for her. However when he encounters his greatest fear, rats he betrays Julia screaming that she be subjected to that torture and not him. After his release when he encounters her they speak about their betrayal to each other. The song “Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me” sums up the feeling at that point. So if love can be crushed is love overrated in today’s world ? Is love and romance merely instruments of entertainment? Feeling which can come to an end under severe conditions. Maybe the concept of undying love is a mere poet’s fantasy. Like Utopia, it does not exist yet people dream about it.
  • Sexual Repression : Big Brother’s Government discourages all forms of sexual encounter between man and woman for pleasure. It treats sex as a “Duty to the Party”. It is simply an action for reproduction and nothing more. It believes that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. Sexual desire one of the baser instincts of mankind if supressed can only lead to passion spilling out elsewhere. In Hatred and in War. The war between countries which might never end.
  • Proles : When Winston scrawls in his diary “If there is hope... it lies in the proles”. He believes that a revolution will come when the proles will rise and overthrow the government. However the party is sure that the proles will never revolt, never raise their voice against the government. This appears so true in today’s context. No matter how hard the times or how corrupt the government the commmon man has restricted himself to his own life. He will not step out of his small protected world and make any attempt to make a difference.

An extremely thought provoking book which even after almost 60 years is not out of context. It could very well have been written today. A masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007


After India’s disastrous exit from the World Cup there has been talks about boycotting every product endorsed by cricketers. This idea got me thinking about transitivity. Mathematical transitivity is defined as aRb, bRc implies aRc. So why should I apply the same relation to my life ? I mean if I like to drink Pepsi (ok, so things are easier for me as I don’t drink Pepsi…I am a coke drinker ..) why should I refrain from doing so just because Indian cricket team lost the chance to win the World Cup (yet again!!) ? I can completely understand if some people cannot understand how transitivity applies here. You have to stretch your imagination a lot to get what I mean.
Ok, I will try to make it a little simpler. I have had a lot of good and bad experiences in my life, met a lot of nice people and “not so nice” people too. Have shared good times and bad times with many friends. And ofcourse I associate a lot of things with memories of my good and bad times. For instance a certain book, a certain song, a restaurant, a cup of espresso, a particular movie, a colour, a certain city, a name and a thousand other small things can trigger a deluge of memories. If all this is associated with good memories than I guess I am just plain lucky. But what happens when they are associated with memories I would rather forget. Memories which cause immense pain. I can avoid a few things to get rid of that pain but how can I ensure that I avoid EVERYTHING that is associated with some unpleasant memory. Practically everyday of my life I come across something which can hurt me, so how do I deal with it ? I finally came up with a solution. It’s not the best but at least it is effective though it’s pretty slow at showing results. I just try and dissociate the object from the memory. Not let them get so jumbled that 1 means the other. Just treat an object as a single entity without any strings attached to any event or any memory. I enjoy a good song, a good book, a good movie, a great cup of coffee for what it is not because it reminds me of an intelligent conversation I had with a friend over a cup of coffee when we argued about the meaning of the lyrics of the song or the philosophy of the book.
Many would disagree with me saying that this is not a good way of treating the cricketers or the brands they endorse. After all the whole idea of boycotting is a about punishing the cricketers. But will my boycotting products make any difference to the sorry state of affairs of the Indian Cricket team or even to an individual cricketer or his income from the brands ? Every big brand which has a cricketer endorsing their product knows that public memory is short. If today we are criticizing the players for the loss it will take us but just 1 win to restart our adulation for them. Then we will all go back to hero-worshipping the players, drinking Pepsi, buying Reebok apparels, MRF tyres and all other products they endorse. I choose not to wait that long, after all I have been eyeing that Reebok T-Shirt in the showroom for quite some time now and I don’t want to wait any longer.

Monday, 2 April 2007

No Post

Aaagghhh..there goes another month without a single post from my end. It’s not that I don’t like blogging….just that I lose patience when it comes to writing full-complete posts. I mean I hate writing posts which look like the last page of my notebooks. Some word, a few doodle and and some incomplete sentences of random thoughts. Ok, so I am aware that a blog is like an online diary where we can write our smallest thoughts but even my diary is always in order. Hmmm, on a more honest note it is not ALWAYS in order but at least no one will ever read it. I would love people to read a nice complete post from my end. A post with an introduction, body and conclusion. Just the way I was taught to write good compositions as part of my ICSE curriculum…but alas all I manage are a few sentences straight off the top of my head and then there is a huge confusion.
Maybe my biggest problem is that I don’t like to organize my thoughts. I think a LOT. In fact there is hardly any chance that I am not utilizing my waking hours thinking. But then I rarely think end to end on any topic. I just change my track whenever I believe I am getting too muddled. Or when I think that I might end up confusing myself further. I had actually started writing a story and I did the same with that too..I abandoned the story half way through. I still think that the story line was good but I never found the determination to complete it. And yes the first few pages of the book along with the story line were conceived under the influence of alcohol. Yes, I am at my productive best when I am drunk… fact I do a lot of work I have been postponing when I am drunk. I have cleaned my room, organised my wardrobe, and rearranged my bookshelf after a good drink. I think I am beginning to digress from the topic. But wait, what was the topic really? I think it’s my short attention span and lack of a streamlined thought process.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

The Elusive Elephant Ride

I almost caught a thief last night. Yes, almost. If only I had managed to do it successfully I would have fulfilled a childhood desire of mine. A bravery award from the President and a ride on an elephant on Janpath on 26th January. But (sigh!!) I guess that’s only for children and I would not have qualified for the prize more importantly for the “Elephant Ride”. I have spent so many ‘26th january’s of my life watching the Republic Day parade and eyeing the kids riding the elephant enviously. Anyways I guess I can live without that elephant ride. After all how many people get the chance to ride on an elephant except nobility maybe.
But wait, this blog was about the “thief” and not about me or my silly childish desires. It was the night of 18th Feb and I had been sleeping fitfully the entire night. I had a bad dream, though exactly what I could not recall. Anyways I woke up suddenly and realised I was thirsty and needed a drink…(oh .. clarification….I was just looking for plain water) The idea of getting out of bed was not tempting however with my throat completely parched I realised I could not fall asleep again without the water. I finally managed to pull myself up to sit on the bed and lo behold what do I see, a man standing outside my window. He had something in his hand and was fiddling near the wall. The curtain of the window was partially drawn and I had to crane my neck to get a better view of the man. Of course not that I got a chance to see him. It was too dark and all I could see the silhouette of the man. He was tall and appeared to have wavy hair. Too shocked to think rationally I simply went over to the window lifted the curtain and looked out. This action of mine drew his attention to me and for the first time he stopped fiddling with the wall and faced the window. He stared at me for a fraction of a second and then bolted. Since it was still very dark I did not dare to step out of the house and chase him. I thought for 1 fleeting moment I had seen a look of fear on his face but it must have been merely my imagination. It was too dark to see his features so I could not have seen his reaction at all. Within a few seconds I heard the gates being shut and realised he had left the premises already. Too shaken I did not sleep till it was daylight , luckily for me I had to wait just half an hour. It was 6:15 when I had spotted the thief. I finally went back to bed at around 6:45 and was fast asleep by 7:00.
That was the end of the episode. Nothing more happened, but for someone like me it was a big adventure. I really don’t know whether that act (of lifting the curtain) of mine was an act of bravery or plain stupidity. I am not even sure if I could have qualified for the bravery awards. I can imagine the announcement being made as I walk onto the stage to receive my certificate and award -“Presented to CD for her act of bravery, she lifted a curtain”. Ahemm….it just does not sound convincing. But as I sat alone in my room that night I was proud of myself. I could have been no prouder if I had sucessfully foiled an attempt to assasinate the President of the country. Anyways I am glad I am old enough not to qualify for the awards. I can imagine my parents distress as they would have tried in vain to explain to me why my act of bravery wasn’t good enough for the “Elephant Ride”. Well I guess I will just have to be satisfied with a bar of chocolate which I promise to treat myself to over the weekend to instead of the glorious ride. I know chocolate cannot substitute that ride but it comes pretty close.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Bollywood Ishtyle

Being the typical movie buff that I have always been I try and relate myself to various characters in movies. At times I come across situation in life when I realise I have been behaving like a certain XYZ from a certain movie ABC. And at other times this realisation sinks in much later..long after I have moved on in life.
As I think about it I realise I must write about the 2 very interesting (I refuse to use any other adjective to describe them…) characters I had come to relate to in the course of my 25 years of existence.
Well for the benefit of those who don’t watch too many movies the first character is from a movie called “flavors”. It is a small budget movie about Indians in the US. The character (sadly..very sadly I have forgotten his name….so I’ll just call him A) goes to America after completing his studies in India in search of the dream job. However inspite of the distance and his new life he cannot forget his beloved “Gita” who is back in India. He misses her immensely and even calls her home in his hometown only to be greeted by the curt tone of her father enquiring who he is. The best part is when he covers the mouthpiece of the phone with a cloth and asks “Can I speak to Gita pls” . Of sourse you have to watch the movie to hear his’s superb. ….tell me if you don’t crack your sides laughing. He tells everyone how they were in the same class and how he would ride his bike past her house and how she would glance shyly at him from her porch. However mid way through the movie he receives a parcel from home and his sister sends him a wedding invitation (of course Gita’s wedding invitation). This incident shatters him completely and he is almost inconsolable. The next day he attends a friends wedding and lo behold bumps into Gita. She is at the wedding with her husband who is a friend of the groom. She recognizes him but only vaguely as the guy in her statistics class and the guy who would always ride a bike near her house.
The moment I watched the movie (after getting over that obsession with a certain Mr X) I almost screamed “that’s me ….I am A!!!!!!!”. I had done everything like him including giving blank calls (not trans continental though..) just because I was so madly in love (or so I thot …..). This was hillarious. I was this guy who I was laughing at now. I fail to understand how my friends did not laugh at me then. Hats off to them and their never ending patience. I almost cracked my sides laughing that day when I realised I had behaved like this immature sad pathetic loser. Mr X was my biggest obsession till date ….however I managed to get over him......and fell in love with a Mr Y now.....(this was no obsession it was a honest 2 sided love)...I finally managed to walk out the the skin of “A” straight into the skin of another unforgettable character “Subodh” from the very famous movie “Dil Chahta Hai”.

“Dil Chahta Hai” was a hit movie watched by most Indians so I will not dwell too much into the details of the story. “Subodh” was the unforgettable character who was Sonali Kularni’s former beau before Saif manages to win her heart. He was one character who could never forget dates (Not the dates you go for..but calendar dates…). For instance he never forgot when he first met his gf..the first time they went out for coffee or the place , time day and date when he proposed her. Aaaaggghhh..he was bloody annoying. ..remembering dates is sweet but he was like saccharine(I just hope i got the spelling right)……. And yes I have become “Subodh” ……I find it hard to believe but how can I deny the truth…the ugly truth. I sit and count days since my boyfren(Mr Y) ditched me. …(like Tom Hanks counts days since he was stranded on an island in “Cast Away”..the only diff being I don’t scrawl on walls…my lanlord would not approve of that)...I remember the date time and year when he first proposed…..ewww.. I have become soooo revolting. I remember his birthday…( I remember everybody’s birthday), the first time I spoke to him for and even every damn topic we talked about that day hours (How did I mange that..????? I forget what I tell within a few minutes ). I remember his favourite colour, his favourite song , his favourite dish, his favourite movie, his best friend..(well I should be nice to myself …he did not have many friends so it was not difficult to remember that) his numerous admirers, his alternative career plan..(I never even made an alternative career plan….or maybe I am living my alternative career plan…chucked the actual plan years ago) , his favourite person on earth..(sorry that wasn’t me….it was his mom) and even his rank in college…I mean I don’t even know what was my rank in my college but I know and remember his rank…I know his GPA..the names of ppl he works with in his labs..his professors..and the name of his (I mean his professor's ..not Mr Y's) daughter too…phew…!!! Thank goodness he did not have a dog..i would have remembered his/her name too along with details of it's vaccinations etc…(I wana kill myself …will somebody pls do the honours).

Now that I am over both of them I am wondering who will I become when I fall in love (or so I will think...yet again) the next time. The suspence is killing me. It’s almost like watching a “to be continued” episode of a spine chilling suspence thriller. Will keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Last Night

Lying on my death bed in a dimly lit hospital room with drips attached to my arm I start looking back at my long life. Was this how I had wanted my life to shape up ? Did I get and do all that I had wanted. Strangely it’s quite an effort and my head strts spinning just trying to recall what I had wanted and what I had got, instead I start thinking of the best days of my life. And where better to start then with the innocent days of my childhood when life seemed so beautiful. My first day at school, my feeble attempts to befriend the classmate sitting next to me, my first class teacher, my first friend in school and so many more firsts. If this is all I can remember today why did I chase so much for so long ? Was I more intelligent and wiser as a kid. I knew how to be happy then with everything I had at the moment, I knew how to live life for the moment. Where then did I lose that innocence that hope, that laughter ?Ah, another severe cramp in my chest. Where, where is that emergency button to call in the doctors? I am having another heart attack. It’s quite an effort reaching out to the button with my arms entwined with tubes. Maybe I just won’t press the button after all. My eyes are slowly closing and I can slowly feel the pain ease. This is better than the repeated visits to the hospitals with the doctors trying to convince me that they can cure me. I can feel my head growing lighter, the dim lights being replaced by a warm soft light. No it’s not heaven, it’s just my last thoughts of the best days of my life, my childhood days at my hometown in a remote hill station in a far away country. I can never go back there but my eyes can see only them now. My mind will only remember them now. The beautiful hillside and the lush green meadows. That is the last thing on my mind before I fall into a painless and deep sleep. I finally died with the best days of my life and the best memories of my life in my mind