Friday, October 22, 2010

Dil, Dosti, etc

She was standing less than a foot away from him, yet seemed so distant. A couple of tears rolled down her cheek and fell on the ground only to be quickly absorbed by the dry soil. Viraj's throat was choked and his anguish would not come out in words. He looked at Meghana for a last time, his gaze trying to pierce through her.

"So, this is it eh?" he said, the sadness very much apparent in his voice.

"Viraj, please try to understand. Though I very much wish to spend the rest of my life with you, it's not possible. Not with my father around. If I tell him about you, then either he'll kill me or get me married to somebody the very next day."

"So let us run away together. Away from this town, away from your father. Me being a lower caste than you won't matter then."

"Don't be impulsive. You are not even a graduate yet. How would we survive? No money, no family. We would be doomed."

"If I have you with me, then I can face anything in this world. Your love is my strength. Please don't this to me."

"I am sorry Viraj. But maybe it's for the best that this would be the last time we will meet. Good luck in your life."


It was dark, way too much dark for a late February night. And it was compounded by a powercut in the campus. Three boys were walking along the dark lanes of the college. They walked in silence till they came to an open field which was used for playing cricket, football and sometimes even as athletic track. Yogesh was the first to sit on the grass wet with the evening dew. Ashish and Viraj followed the suit and the three of them just sat there quietly until Ashish broke the silence.

"So, are you going to talk about it or not?"

"There isn't anything much to talk about. My mind is made up." Viraj replied.

"And is your plan so secret that you can't tell your closest friends about it?" asked Yogesh.

"The bottomline is, I can't live without her man. Not after what we have been through together. Those evenings in the park, the days we spent all by ourselves in her house............."

".....and that special moment when you lost your virginity. Get over it dude!!" Ashish completed the sentence for him.

Viraj was livid.

"Don't you dare make fun out of it. I didn't have sex with her, though there was ample opportunity for it. Even in this modern generation, I am very orthodox when it comes to pre-marital affairs. So if you want to make mockery out of my feelings, then go and boil you head."

"You may not have used the opportunities, or maybe you didn't have the guts. But in the end, you got fucked and that's where your virginity left you. Cut the crap man."

Viraj was just staring at the ground. There were a few moments of silence before Yogesh spoke up.

"So what exactly do you intend to do now?"

"I have decided. I am going to confront her father." Viraj said with a determined voice.

"And what exactly do you intend to say to him?" Ashish asked.

"Exactly the things that I feel about his daughter. I'll tell him about us. I'll tell him to wait till I get a job. I'll just convince him somehow."

"Dude" Yogesh interrupted. "You don't have the balls to confront a teacher when they cut your marks unfairly. And you think you can confront her Dad. Wake up brother!"

"You guys will never understand what it feels to lose someone with whom you have spent the most intimate moments of your life. I'll die without her. I want her with me. I want her hair brushing my face, that feeling of her lips on mine...."

"Will you just stop with those silly romantic dialogues? If at all, then give that crap to some pervert. It might help him get hardened. But right now, get your feet back on to the ground. First of all, you are NOT going to meet her dad. Period." Ashish said.

"What would you know about commitment? Whether you accept it or not, you have been after THAT girl since ages, but you never told her. Why? Because you are afraid. Afraid of losing her as a friend. But I have gone way beyond friendship, just too far to come back."

Ashish became all quiet. Apparently, Viraj had hit the nail at a sensitive point.

"Don't get too personal Viraj. We are just trying to make you see sense." said Yogesh. "I agree with Ashish. If at all, it had to be Meghana who had to confront her dad, not you.If she cannot muster up the courage to talk to him, maybe she doesn't love you that much. Think about it."

"Open your eyes man. Just as a point to show our view, how long did it take her to break up from Rajesh and get into a relationship with you? Two days. Just bloody two days to leave a boyfriend of two years."

Was it just two days? Viraj thought. He realised he had been too much in love to even count the days. Hell, yeah. It were those two days of phone conversation that had changed the course of his life. How come he never noticed that?

"And just think. If it took her just three months to get so physically close to you, not that you are innocent however much you claim to be orthodox, she had been in a relationship with Rajesh for two years." Yogesh pointed out.

This was also true. O God! Where was this going? Was he really in love or was it just his physical needs that he thought was love?

"That BITCH!" Viraj exclaimed. "She bloody used me. To think of it, she was the one who called me to her house that evening. What the hell was I thinking. O yeah, I'll take care of that slut."

"Hold on brother. That ain't fair." Ashish said. "You can blame her just like that. If you think she used you, well you also did use her to satisfy your hunger. If she was the one who called you, you were the dog who went after the bone with your tongue out and drool flowing. So if you are calling her a slut, what does that make you?"

There was a long pause. None of them said anything. It was quite apparent that now Viraj was beginning to see some sense, though his reaction was a bit extreme.

"Well, should I answer that question?" Yogesh poked.

"No need. " Viraj replied curtly.

"I think I should. What say Ashish?" 

"I think I know what you would say. But I don't think lover-boy would like it."

"Don't you dare say anything Yogesh...." 

"Haha. Andddd, the answer issssssssss.............."



There was a soft knock on Ashish's door. Viraj slowly entered the room. 

"Hey, you busy?" Viraj asked.

"Not so busy. So, what is it?" Ashish replied.

"Well, there is something I want to talk to you about. You know, there is this girl Anita I met sometime back. I think something's clicking."


"I know. But now I feel that was lust. I think I am in love this time...................................."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

For A Better Future

I have noticed that I always get ideas for my blogs whenever I am travelling alone. This time, it isn't an idea as such. Rather, its a series of thoughts which were started when I was travelling from Delhi to Gurgaon in the metro. A family was seated just next to where I was standing. A man - fully suited up and busy with his laptop, a lady (apparently his wife) clad traditionally in a saree with her head covered and their child who seemed to be less than a year old. Small kids have always interested me ever since I can remember. He was sitting on his mother's lap and staring at me intently. I had my earphones on with music playing full blast on my cell phone. When I noticed that this kid is "checking" me out, I made some strange silly faces at him, and that brought that typical childish smile on his face. The smile encouraged me to make even more stupider faces and soon enough quite a number of people standing in the train were getting entertained with my stupidity. Suddenly, the kid became a bit adventurous and pulled my earphones out which brought my cell crashing down from my shirt pocket. In an instant he got a slap from his mother who apologised to me. I was just thankful that my poor cell was safe and sound.
What's so great about this event, you might think. I look at it in this way. It showed me three different personalities. 
#1.  A working man, burdened with work pressures so much that he has to work even while travelling.
#2. A housewife, who has to follow her husband everywhere and also take full responsibility for her child.
#3. A child, who has no idea about the world and behaviour expected of him by the society. For him, the world is an adventure, full of interesting things and wierd people.

As kids ourselves, how many of us were as dull as we are now? When we are young without "knowledge", even a trivial thing like a shoelace seems so damn interesting. The world is out there waiting for us to explore it. Everybody has dreams about what they would become when they grow old. As far as I am concerned, when I was a tiny tot, the profession that fascinated me the most was that of a bus driver. Sitting with my mother in a bus, I could stare with interest for hours as the driver turned that huge round ring (which I learnt later is called "steering wheel") and push back and forth a long lever (gear). Man, driving a bus would be so much fun!!!!!! Later though my brother, who is 3 years older to me somehow managed to convince me that being a conductor would be a better option since apparently he was the one who got all the money. Engineering was not present even in my wildest dreams.
But then as I grew up and learnt that society does not give much respect to a bus driver or a conductor, I had to look at other professions. The prime was obviously that of a doctor, both my parents being the same. I would spend hours "cutting" up (or rather sawing up as it would look like) my brother in surgery during our playtime each of us taking turns at being the patient and the doctor. But then, doctors always had to rush at odd times, even at midnight whenever there was a patient to be taken care of. Also they hardly had holidays. Who the hell wanted so much respect without any holidays? So being a doctor was struck off from my career options and somehow I luckily ended up as an engineer.
So what exactly is the point I am trying to make here?
Basically its not we, who want to be what we are. Its the society, which makes us what we are. And by society it includes our parents, family, teachers, friends and all those people who have the power to influence our way of thinking. If people like these hadn't influenced me when I was small, who knows, maybe today I would have been driving a rickety Kadamba bus between Mapusa and Panaji or maybe shouting "Punje direct direct" in the same. Not that I have any regrets at not being able to do so.

Most of us are not doing what we wish to do, rather we prefer to follow the rules that the society sets for us and be what others want us to be. The man in the train must have been working very hard to take care of his family. But was he really happy? Maybe he was. But there were more chances that he wasn't. Throughout the incident, not once did he raise his head from the laptop screen. And in the process, he must be missing seeing his son's childhood. The lady was expected to take care of her child and be responsible for his actions. If the child does not behave himself, its his mother's fault. And by good behaviour, we mean stay still and totally quiet. Do not disturb other people. Never talk to strangers. Staring is bad manners. All of us are taught these social ettiquettes at a very early age, so that we grow up into well-behaved children. While I do agree that some mannerisms are definitely required to be inculcated very  early in our life, forcing this behaviour can sometimes be harmful to ones ability to think differently.
If you don't agree, just think for once. When was the last time you were so much engrossed in something which was trivial for others? When was the last time that you had an idea which you felt could change the world or make it a better place? Or to quote a popular saying, When was the last time you did something for the first time? When was the last time that your idol was a superhero or a cartoon character and not a business tycoon?
As we grow up, we begin to supress our childhood dreams for fear of disapproval from those around us. Even if you are very happy, you would never dance on the road because you feel that people will ridicule you. When you are frustrated, you don't yell your head off because you think people would think you are crazy. Slowly we gather so many inhibitions, that our whole outlook of life changes. Now we also expect the same from others what was earlier expected of us, and the whole cycle continues.
I thought that day, why can't I no longer be like that child, innocent and so damn curious. Why didn't I find the world as interesting as it was when I was a toddler? Just in a few years, I had changed so much.
What I want to tell all you readers is, it is only one life that we get. Live it the way YOU want to. All of us have a right to be happy. If you truly love doing something, go for it irrespective of how old you are, where you are. Jump, whenever you feel like jumping, sing at the top of your voice. Who cares what your neighbor thinks? It's you who is happy, not him. As my photography teacher told our class once, "Whenever you go out and witness a scene that you want to capture, go ahead and capture it the way you want to. It's only you who can see it the way you are seeing it. Even if it means you have to lie down on the road or stand in wierd positions, do it without getting conscious as to what your onlookers think. You may never get the scene back ever again."
Whenever you are worried about the future, remember this. Whats the use of having a better future, when you can't enjoy the present? The future is something all of us want to make better, and when that future becomes present, we start worrying about it's future. So just stop worrying for sometime and live the moment. You may never get it back.
So here cums the end to a post which is totally unlike my usual ones. Sometimes I just can't prevent myself from typing out my thoughts as they are flowing in my mind. To end it, I would like to say,
"Yesterday was History, Tomorrow is Mystery. But Today is a gift, that's why it is called Present." Enjoyy!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friendship Through the Ages

For all the Harry Potter fans out there, I hereby claim that the title of this post is a rip-off from "Quidditch through the Ages", but hell, it does fit perfectly to what I'm planning to write about here. Yes, something called friendship, which all of us have felt, experienced and in most cases, reciprocated. The inspiration for this post came quite a long time back when I was in Goa and roaming in the Mapusa market shopping with my mother (or rather, as she likes to put it, I was a coolie carrying all the stuff bought.. :P). I noticed a guy there whose face felt familiar but I just couldn't place him. I troubled my brain all through that day trying to figure out who the hell he was. Definitely not one of my school friends. I was sure because I distinctly remember all the faces and names which have studied with me right from my kindergarten. Then who was it?????
Forget it! I told myself. Since I couldn't place him, it wouldn't be a person who was important to me. So leaving all the unnecessary thought process aside, I switched on the internet and did what most of my generation is hooked on to.......FACEBOOK. And that was the point that it hit me. That guy was one of my Facebook friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Long ago, not very long, but long enough for me, there was a time when friend was a person with whom you can play in the evening, talk any damn thing and even have a great partnership in mischiefs. That was what a friend was for me, a partner in crime.
Then we grew up a few years. A friend became a person with whom you felt most comfortable working. He would not hesitate to help you in your studies, would lend you his stuff without a second thought and half of the things that you owned would be implicitly his.
Another few years. Now we were in our adolescence. So a friend became a person with whom you could taunt and tease others incessantly. With the new rush of hormones, he would be the person you could nudge in the ribs whenever you saw an attractive female. Girls could no longer be "just friends".
Another few years and we were in college where friendship took a whole new meaning. Now we wanted a pal who was not just a partner in crime or one who would share your stuff. We needed a confidante. A person you can truly confide in. Somebody with whom you could discuss your deepest secrets knowing that this stuff was totally safe with him. Whether this friend was a male or a female didn't matter. You just needed a person who could say "Don't worry, I'll be there for you" when for you all the world seemed lost. Someone who would put his hands around your shoulders and say "Screw what the world thinks. We are the best". Someone who could kick your butt when you were unnecessarily depressed about trivial things. At this stage of life, a friend was not just another person. He was a part of your life, somebody without whom you could not imagine yourself.
And in this process of growing up and making friends, somewhere unknowingly there rose a category of friends called "Online friends". With the boom in the internet and the development of virtual chat rooms, one could sit at home and "chat" with others at any time of the day. No longer did you have to "waste" time in going out and meeting up with others. You could do the same sitting on your comfortable chairs and staring at the computer screens. When this trend started picking up, we had a new phenomenon called Orkut enter the market which totally changed the concept of social networking. Suddenly your popularity was determined not by the number of people who knew you, but by the number of people added as friends on your orkut profile and the number of scraps written on your scrapbook. Forget all those slam books we kept for friends to scribble in, save paper - save trees, go online and write on the scrapbook instead. Friends would get pissed if you visited their profile and didn't leave a scrap.
And just when the deadly combo of Google and Orkut seemed to rule the market entered a new sensation with a strange name...Facebook. Now this seemed an interesting prospect. You make friends, "poke" them (whatever that meant), play could even have a virtual farm of your own and ask others for cows n sheep n trees and god alone knows what. Now a new category of friends had developed, called "Facebook friends". No longer did you have to actually know a person to be his/her friend. You could check out each other's "Like's" , the number of friends that person had and then decide whether the person was interesting enough for you to add him/her as your Facebook friend (Did I forget to mention the Profile Picture? :P). Guys could now stare at girls (or rather their photos) without feeling awkward and without the fear of getting a tight slap back in return. The impact of Facebook actually hit me when I learnt about the Facebook Party which happened recently in Goa which was organised by a bunch of Facebook addicts (which most people are.....including me) with the aim that at least for once people should actually meet their virtual friends.
Science tells us that evolution requires thousands or maybe millions of years to occur. What I have blabbered above is just the course of the past 21 years that I have lived. If this isn't some kind of evolution, then what is?
Whether it is a positive shift of lifestyle or negative, it is for an individual to decide for himself. One cannot take away the credit from social networking websites that they have really helped people to get in touch with their friends and family who are separated by long distances. But personally speaking this concept of virtual friends seems a bit disturbing to me. I mean, the friend you see on facebook, may not be the same person they seem to be online. When you actually play with someone it adds some exercise to your body, but playing just adds some extra weight in your butt i guess :P. In my opinion, if you have a healthy balance of real friends and virtual friends it should not matter, but becoming all upset just because a pretty facebook friend of yours posted the "She is angry and sad" seems real lame. Trust me, I have seen such cases. Seriously, what's the big point of posting Hi, Hello messages on the walls of people who are actually sitting right next to you? Actually saying it should take less effort, isn't it?
Now it may seem that I'm anti-facebook. But I'm not. In my free time you would definitely find me online there and updating stuff regularly, if not daily. I also like to keep in touch with my friends and frankly, facebook has been the easiest and cheapest (its free isn't it..)method to do so. It has also helped me tremendously to pursue my interest in photography by looking at the pictures clicked by the professional photographers, and also receiving their reviews on the ones I clicked. The only point I want to make is that I would anytime have one friend whom I can meet, talk and trust completely rather than a thousand facebook friends to "chat" or comment on stuff.
So here comes the end to another of my "politically incorrect" posts. In facebook terminology, you can either "Like" it or "Report Abuse". Right now I'm out of my usual fictional ideas, hopefully I should get one soon and post it here......till then....Adios!!!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Day We Met

One of my shorter posts..........just a random little story that came into my mind....

It was a beautiful day, bright sunshine and a continuous cool breeze blowing. Even work pressures could not dampen my spirit. I waited too long for this day. I had received the big news a couple of days earlier, but I decided to delay breaking it for this particular day. It was the day I had first met her. She didn't know that however. There were many things she didn't know about me all this while. But all that was going to end. This career promotion had given the platform I had looked for all through my life and this was just one of the things I would be confessing to her. It was high time she knew the truth about me. That I no longer wanted to be her friend.
I wanted more, much more than being just a friend and I wanted it real bad. All this while I had decided to delay this confession until I was stable professionally, and being promoted the branch manager had done that to me now. Now I was ready to give myself to a relationship, to be myself with her and not a person who pretends to be happy being her friend. Today I was going to blurt it all out. If she says yes, then it would be the icing on the cake. But if she didn't, I didn't know how I would deal with the blow. Maybe its better I know her side of the story soon, whether my wait of 3 years was worth it or not.
As I drew my motorbike in the unrelenting traffic of the city, I remembered the day three years back when I first met Anju. It was a mutual friend's birthday party at a lounge, and everybody was acting cordial until the booze began flowing. With the spirits running too high, one man misbehaved with her and that resulted in a quarrel followed by a fist fight. Not being much of a fighter, I was instructed to take her out of there while the others tried to make peace. In the chaos I forgot that the keys to my bike were with another guy who was fully into the commotion. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We walked the whole distance to her house, and in that 1 hour itself I had begun to feel the butterflies in my stomach. We talked all the way, getting to know each other and ended up exchanging phone numbers. What followed was a roller-coaster ride which was interrupted by our careers. But all that was not an issue anymore. Both of us had achieved what we wanted and I was now ready to take the plunge. I just had to find out whether she was ready to do the same.
There was a crowd gathered infront on the road and the traffic was blocked. Must be another of those accidents and fights. It was a daily routine in this city. Some one gets banged up and people gathered around just staring at the proceedings without even helping. I turned the bike and decided to take another route to the cafe where we were supposed to meet. Luckily for me I had enough time to buy a bouquet of red roses for her and there was a florist on that very road. It would be fitting for the occasion I felt.
I reached the cafe just in time. She hated late comers. But she wasn't there when I reached there. Most probable she was taking revenge for the last time when we took out time from our schedules to meet up and I was an hour late. No problem, it just gave me some extra time to rehearse the words I was going to use. Just to find out, I dialled her number on my cell phone. After what seemed an eternity, there was an answer. But it was a male voice that said the hello.
"Who is this?" I asked.
"Whom were you trying to call?" the man on the other end asked me back.
"I think its a wrong connection, sorry." I said.
"I don't think so. Can you please tell us the name of the owner of this phone?"
"Who the hell are you?" I was beginning to get irritated.
"I am the Deputy Commissioner of Police and we found this phone in the purse of the lady who was hit by a drunken car driver. There weren't any identification papers with her, so it would be a great favor if you could help us."
The next moment, my cell phone was lying shattered on the ground.......................

Sunday, August 15, 2010

FREEDOM --- Really???????

Hi folks ... again the lazy me is back to writing stuff. The excuse this time?? Well, I was working. Yeah as lame as that excuse is, that was the best I could come up with. So what am I going to write about this time ?? Even I don't know. At the point of writing this I have really not decided what exactly to write about, and the title will be penned after I finish, if I do.
Let me start with today. What's so special about today? Ask this question to any Indian, and pop! comes the answer. INDEPENDENCE DAY. That's what majority of our countrymen (and women) know 15th August by. The day when India got its freedom from the British oppressors.
Or did it???????????????

Ever since we are born, we have been told by our elders, teachers and all sorts of people about India's glorious freedom struggle, the power of Satyagraha, which enabled the countrymen to overthrow the British rule in the country. And at last, when they left the country, India was proudly proclaimed as a free nation by the world. But coming to think of it, was it really freedom that we got? A nation proud of its cultural diversity was literally torn apart on the basis of religion into India and Pakistan. The very people who fought hand in hand against the British were now divided by the very same people against whom they had fought. The British left, calling us a free country, and we were left fighting each other for reasons nobody knew. Thus was born a new India, a highly diverse but totally confused nation not sure of its own identity.
As a country, India has come very far from what it was in 1947. We have developed in the field of art, science, engineering, medicine, sports and what not. Name the field and you will have an Indian who has made an impact on the global level. But still that identity confusion prevails. Till date we consider ourselves as inferior to the western countries. Be it in the brands that we prefer, the movies that we praise and even the people we idolise. As far as the movie scenario goes, I was one of the people who would always prefer Hollywood stuff for their perfection, special effects etc until one day I noticed in the credits of an amazing animated film, that 90% of the animators and technicians of the film were actually Indians.
So why did these people not stay in India and show the same creativity in this country? Why is the West always the place where one has to go to get appreciation for his/her talents. In India, first of all people are not keen to take a risk and invest in an out-of-the-way idea. Plus with the official machinery moving at a snail's pace, it always much easier just to go to some other place and have your dreams converted into reality. But who wouldn't want to work in one's own country and get the same (or maybe better) results. So here comes the need for creative freedom which till now does not exist in its true meaning in our country.
Next comes the freedom of democracy. Our Government is supposedly of the people, for the people and by the people. We elect the candidates ourselves and then blame the same people we voted for for all the mess in the country. While the population is largely to blame for again and again electing the same goons to the seat of power, is there much of a choice? Look at all the electoral candidates and we would be really lucky to find a graduate amongst all of them. Politics is treated like a swear word and no initiative is taken to change it. Basically this "Chalta hai" attitude of the masses is responsible for the problems we are facing. We were facing problems even pre-independence, but then the people got united and this united nation took over the mightiest empire in the world at that time. So if we could take on the might of the British back then, why not stand up for our rights now?
Then is the freedom of choice. A person who chooses to be different is labelled a "rebel" and suppressed. Take the scenario of our education system. Whenever a question is asked in an examination, a student has to first think how the examiner is going to perceive the question and then answer it according to what the examiner would want it to be like. If he/she tries to write the same thing in another way as per his/her view, they are marked wrong. So from a very early age, we are told to be what the world wants us to be. Creative thinking is hardly encouraged. So how can you expect the bright minds of this country to be the pioneers of the world? Even with this system, many Indians have shone brightly in the world. So just imagine what it could be if people are encouraged to think for themselves from an early age. Another sad thing in this country is the way women are treated. Though it has vastly improved in today's age, the female species is still bossed upon. A girl is not given the same amount of freedom that her male counterpart gets in the society. A starking example is that of Sania Mirza. When she was a rising star in tennis, many clerics didn't feel comfortable with the dress code that was required to play the sport, so they issued fatwas against her. Her crime, just following the tradition of the game.

So when we are celebrating this freedom that we have, what exactly are we referring to? If we are referring to freedom from oppression, well, we are still being oppressed only this time it is our very own people instead of foreigners. If it is the freedom of speech, we still have to think a thousand times how people are going to perceive it before doing so. As far as I see, we just have the freedom of blaming. Blaming the Government, blaming the society. How many of us are ready to take our share of the blame? We would rant about corruption in the Government, but how many of us would actually refuse to give a bribe to the officials to get our work done? How many would actually raise their voice when they see any illegal activity taking place?

Now this post of mine may seem unpatriotic to many, but here I am also readily taking my share of the blame. I am a proud Indian and would always be ready to serve my country if the opportunity comes. But the point I want to make is its time we separated emotions from reality. The feeling of patriotism has got nothing to do with raising the flag and chanting the songs, the same way that faith in God has nothing to do with performing rituals. People may show their so called patriotism on the stage and saluting the flag, but when these same people are involved in corruption and other such activities, its no use having such kind of patriotism. So while we are celebrating this day, I would prefer to celebrate it as a day when foreign oppressors left the country rather than the day when we got freedom.

This might have been a controversial post, but all the same, I would like everybody's frank views on it. And just to make it clear, I have nothing against hoisting the flag and chanting patriotic songs. The only thing is that unless I feel that freedom in my heart, I would never be able to celebrate it in its true sense................

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Day In My Life (Wooofffff !!!!!!!)

Hello everybody. I know this is Ashwin's blog, but that asshole is just too lazy to update it. He can sit all day long in front of his laptop but won't get enough time to regularly post stuff here. So I am posting something here today. This is not about him, its about me, it describes how I am forced to spend my day with this bum everyday.
First let me introduce myself. My name is Pixie, and I am the only dog of this house. He prefers calling me his pet and himself my owner, but I find it highly degrading. Afterall, I am also equally entitled to the love and affection from the family (Woof!!!!). As of now, he is in the shower, singing God alone knows which song, and I have to suffer listening to him alone as all the other family members are in some far away land, something called USA or something like that and this guy is doing a favor on me by staying back. Favor my Paw!!!!!!! So lemme begin.

7:00 A.M

I am lying nice and snug on my blanket. Ashwin is sprawled all over the bed. Dude, its 7 in the morning. Time to wake up you moron! Dad wakes up early and takes me for a nice stroll outside, and since you are doing a favor on me, you are supposed to get up too. Damn it. This guy is not going to get up so easily, and slowly my bladder has filled up to its limits. I cannot hold it for much longer. Some urgent damage control has to be done. And for me that's a very easy thing to do. I go close to his face and sniff around. Usually this is enough to wake up Sayali, our sister but she is not here and somehow its not working on this bony mass here. So I use my Brahmastra. I again close to his face and give him a nice saliva filled lick, proper on his nose. He wakes up yelling at me. "What the hell do you think you are doing ?" he shouts, apparently angry. But its easy enough to cool down his anger. I droop down my ears, my eyes nice and round and bingo.....that apologetic look on my face. We canines learn this very early in our lives with humans, a sad face is all it takes to melt them. "Awwww" he goes. "What happened now?". So at last this fellow comes to the point. "My bladder is about to burst and I would pee right on your bloody face if you don't take me out right away." I feel like saying, but these humans hardly understand our language. So I do a bit of jumping and dancing around and then rush to the door. That's enough of a signal and lazily he gets up and I get an opportunity to relieve myself. What a relief!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:30 A.M

All the morning ablutions complete, now its time for some breakfast. Usually Mom gives me a bowl of milk and if I am lucky, then a biscuit from Dad. But now both of them are not here and I have to deal with this guy. He himself is having two bread with fried eggs and a mug of coffee, but clearly he has forgotten that I am also alive in the same kitchen. I am making all the hungry faces possible, but he is clearly trying to ignore me. And then the idiot of the house appears.
MEOWWWWW.....MEOWWWWWW!!!!! Our cat, Pandu enters the kitchen. One thing I don't understand about this nut is, why the hell does he have to yell whenever he enters a room, it's like he is announcing his holy arrival. Cats!!!!! You can never understand them, but then, living under the same roof, I have to tolerate him somehow. As soon as Pandu enters the kitchen yelling his head off, Ashwin bends down and scoops him up on to his shoulder and cuddles him. Pandu promptly starts his purring. Sighhhh.....these males seem to be stupid in all species.
"Do you want some milk Catty ??" he asks Pandu, who makes one of those content looks (which in fact does not even look like a hungry one to me) and then Ashwin goes and prepares our bowls. After a patient wait, at last he puts my milk bowl infront and turns away. Duhhhhh....this guy is never gonna learn. When Mom gives me the milk, I always get a kiss on my nose before I start drinking. I stand next to my bowl and stare at him. Thankfully he understands this time and I get a peck on my nose. Now that's better, ain't it ? And SLURPPPP.... I start on the milk.

9:00 A.M - 1.00 P.M

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ .... so nothing really to talk about unless you are interested in the dogs that I chase in my dreams.

1.00 P.M. - 1:30 P.M.

It's time for Ashwin to have his lunch, and for me its time to act like a forever hungry dog who has not had a morsel for days. He sits at the table, munching away while I sit on the ground next to him with my hungry faces. Occasionally I receive a glare back from him to stop acting like a glutton and I promptly stare in the opposite direction. I wait like that for a couple of seconds, and then without turning my head, I look towards him if he's still glaring. If yes, then I again look away, if not, then back to the hungry looks. This game continues till he finishes and its time for my lunch. Off we go back into the kitchen and Pandu tails along with his yells.
When I think of food, the saliva just flows uncontrollably. They say it's bad manners to drool, but then, even a dam cannot control a flooded river after a certain point. And it's much worse because this guy is way slower at preparing my meal than Mom. I wait with the drool falling in sticky long drops down my mouth while Pandu walks in between my feet brushing away all the time. Irritating cats, as if brushing to me is going to make that slowcoach any faster. Then suddenly, out of nowhere I get a bite from Pandu right at my elbows, and that's where my limit is crossed and I snap back at him. After that he stays at a safe distance and chooses the fridge to brush against. After what seems an eternity, Ashwin at last prepares the food and keeps the plate in front of us. A point to be noted is as far as solid food is concerned, I don't wait for kisses to start eating. Somehow I have to finish the food as soon as possible, maybe some unknown hungry monster might come and finish it before I do. So I attack the food, and all of it is in my tummy before you can even say "WOOF".
I have finished my food, but then Pandu is still eating. Why do cats have to eat so slowly. This guy usually does not eat properly, or rather completely. He has to leave those little morsels on his plate. And I am left with the job of cleaning it up. You may think that I am a real obsessive glutton, finishing off the cat's plate which would contain only a couple of rice grains hardly enough to fill an ant's stomach. But then, I live by the principle that food, in any form should never be wasted. There are many dogs on the streets who don't get proper food, and here cats are wasting their food as if its their owner's property, so I oblige.

2:00 P.M - 4:00 P.M.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....yeah....its siesta time.....only difference is that I get my biscuit at 4:00 without any trouble.

6:00 P.M.

Now it's time for the big job. Something that all living creatures have to perform daily if they want a healthy and comfortable life. Yes, you guessed it right, it's time to add manure to the infertile lands outside.
But once again, this dumbass is sitting glued to his laptop smiling at the screen. Most probably chatting with some female of his species I guess. Hey You! This no time to indulge in chats. I have to answer the call of nature, and answer if fast. So please lift your butt from that chair and take me out.
"You have to go out all the time, don't you?" he asks me back. Duh, as if he doesn't do it himself, only in the toilet. I do my dancing act again and he obliges quickly enough.
He puts on the leash on my collar and out we go!!!!
There are two aspects of going out. Firstly you get such a variety of smells, especially on those tyres of the cars, its really heaven for a dog like me. And secondly, the irritating aspect --- stray dogs. What the hell was God thinking when he created them. Filthy, skinny, mostly infested with scabies...they were the most godforsaken species of all, and how much they love taunting me, especially those two black females. As soon as we get out of the building, they come barking at me, as if they were going to attack me savagely.
"Look at you!!" they bark. "All tied up and pulled by a human. You are their PET!!!" That word gets to my nerves more than anything else and I have to give back a reply.
"And what about you ?" I growl back to them. "Scrounging on things that people throw as garbage. At least I get good food everyday and I am not diseased like you, BITCH!!!"
"Whatever it may be, you are still their PET!!!!!" I wish that he would let go of my leash for once, I could teach these bitches a lesson in no time. But he just tugs hard at my collar and pulls me away. I still growl back some unspeakable "WOOF"s back at them and trot away as suddenly my bowels remind me what I had actually come out for. One chance.....just one Chance is all I need to show these bitches what I am made of.

6:30 P.M. - 8:30 P.M.
Once again ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ .... what else am I supposed to do inside the house!!!!!

9:00 P.M

Dinner time. Once again the same routine as that of lunch. I so wish that Mom would return fast from their trip. This fellow thinks he is a great cook, but I'd dare not differ with him. He might stop giving me totally. So I act as if he is the greatest chef in the world and that I am honored to be fed by him. Sighhh.

11:00 P.M.

The official ZZZZ time. Official in the sense that now I HAVE to sleep on my blanket and not at any other place. I wait patiently as he unfolds my blanket and lays it down on the floor next to his bed. He puts on the AC, switches off the lights and ZZZZ both of us go.

I hope you didn't go ZZZZ while reading this. If you did, then please excuse me as this was the first time I wrote on a blog. But all the same, I would like to know your feedback on this.

Now that pathetic bathroom singer is coming out, so I'd better leave fast before he catches me with his laptop. Afterall for him, I am supposed to be a dumb dog. But you know the truth right. So as a signing off message, I would like to share a quote which was once quoted by his brother once.
"If beauty and grace are feline, then strength and loyalty are definitely canine. Not all men are dogs, but I am proud to be one."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That Bloody Block

If I am not mistaken, this would be the smallest gap I have kept between consecutive posts. I had planned to update this blog in 2-3 more days, but just yesterday, I had such an amazing experience that I could not help but write about it. If you are expecting anything serious, then please relax your mind. This post would be one of my lighter ones and not based on any life changing experiences, but it was amazing enough to get a mention here.

"Ok, bubbyeee and thanx for calling..... " were my last words as I disconnected the phone. A simple and straightforward conversation with a friend, but it was quite stressful. The reason ?? The speaker of my mobile phone had been faulty and the volume of the other person's voice was quite diminished. I literally had to strain my ears in order to catch a few words that he said, and then use my guesswork to guess what he had actually said. Due to that some of my replies were quite wayward and out of context. I'd better get this phone repaired. But wait! Which fool in today's world repairs a mobile phone? With the prices of such electronic goods falling everyday, it would be a much more sensible option just to discard the old one and get a brand new cell. So it was decided, the first thing I would be buying from my salary would be a sleek mobile phone for myself.
Before the phone call came in, I had just returned home from and early morning swim. Just about a month and half left for me to join the corporate world, I thought this is the only time I would get to work on my physical fitness. My dog, Pixie, was lying down under the table as usual, too busy relaxing to get up and greet me. The only way to make her rise would be to open the kitchen larder and shake up the container which had her biscuits. That sound could make her rise even from a coma. But then, another sound, a street dog barking outside caught her attention and she ran out into the balcony to give that dog a piece of her mind. Pixie's bark had lost the intensity that it had a few years back. Maybe it was time we learned to accept the fact that she was in fact getting old.
I inserted my index finger into my left ear, trying to remove that little bit of water inside that was blocking my ear. That was one thing about swimming I hated. This water just stuck inside your ears and refused to come out. But now it was a life threatening mission for me. It was me against those few droplets inside my ear. An engineer against some molecules of H2O. So I brought my weapon, that powerful cotton bud. Slowly and carefully I inserted the bud into the ear canal, careful not to push it hard, just hoping that it would absorb the water out. But all was in vain. The block only seemed to get worse. Next, I pinched my nose, closed my mouth, and blew hard. This was a technique I used when I get those pressure blocks in my ear when the flight takes off or lands. It may have worked for a huge sophisticated airplane, but not for those godforsaken water drops. Now it was slowly becoming frustrating for me. My reputation was at stake. What's the use of having a Bachelor of Technology degree from one of the premiere institutes of the country when I was not able to remove just some measly droplets from my ear. I was increasingly becoming worried when the landline phone rang.
I picked it up and viola! It was the savior calling. Mommy the great!!!!
I might have been proud to be the son of two doctors, but when those two doctors were in US, I was totally lost where medical stuff was concerned. I described my ailment to her in full detail, narrating the history as they say it.
"My dear son." mother dear said. "I can't treat you from here on the phone. Plus I am a gynecologist, so your problem is right at the opposite end of my specialisation." Typical Mom. Here, her poor lonely son is in a traumatic condition, and all she is worried about is the "end" of her specialisation.
"In that case, my dear mother" I replied. "Please guide me on what I am supposed to do. Or at least suggest a doctor to whom I should consult."
"It may be due to the blockage of your eustacian canal with mucus. That's the most common cause. Try steam inhalations and gargling with warm water and see if it works. If it gets painful, then go to Dr. R.L Naik, he is and ENT specialist." Doctors!!! They have to say everything in one breath all the time.
I tried steam inhalations, I tried gargling. But that bloody block refused to budge. Afterall it wasn't mucus that was blocking it. It were just some !@#$**** water droplets. After repeated attempts throughout the day, at about 5 in the evening, I at last decided to get the ear checked. After all, it could be that ear infection that I once had in my childhood, and it was really painful.

I went to Dr. Naik's clinic and introduced myself. He made me sit on a chair and took out some wierd headband kind of a thing which had a bulb on top and some kind of lens. It reminded me of the GI Joes that I used to play with. It required him just one look to diagnose the cause behind my helplessness.
"Stay calm, and don't move. Just breath deeply." He told me as he inserted a forceps inside my ear. After somewhat fishing around inside, he removed the forceps, and with it came a nice big ball of earwax.
"What the ..... " I caught myself in time from completing the sentence.
"Did you by any chance put cotton buds inside ?" he asked me.
"Yes I did." I told him. "Just an attempt to drain out the water inside."
"First of all remember that the water never remains inside your ears for long. With that cotton plug, you pushed the wax even further inside. Now it may be a bit painful as it is stuck to your skin tissues, so just breathe deeply." He said, and in went the forceps again.
After some slightly uncomfortable moments, the block was cleared. My ear felt awesome. I looked down at the dirty mass that was kept on cotton swabs. Wow. I never knew the ear canal had so much volume to hold that shit.
He then checked my right ear and the mining inside gave another voluminous amount of wax. After both the ears were cleared, he gave a prescription for some ear drops to be used thrice daily, for 15 days, 2 drops each time. I thanked him and left the clinic.
Both my ears felt so clear, I could hear even the softest breeze blowing. I jumped when I started the ignition of my bike. Woah...that was loud.
As I rode back home, the whole world seemed to have put on amplifiers. The car horns were honking extra loud, I never knew that the indicator of the bike could beep so loudly. The music playing at the music shop seemed much more melodious. I sang quietly to myself. Hey!! I was loving the sound of my own voice.
After several minutes, I entered my home only to find Pixie in the balcony again cross with some ignorant dog who had strayed into her "territory". One thing was sure. This dog's bark was still as powerful as it was 4-5 years back. My mobile phone rang, and suddenly I had to hold it a few centimeters away from my ear, the person at the other end was literally screaming.

So all in all, the moral of the story is, if at any point in you life, you feel that the world has suddenly become peaceful, people have become soft-spoken, then without second thoughts take the earliest possible appointment with your ENT doctor. The inferno in the world is going nowhere. But now its time for me to put those two drops into my ears, so bye for now.

Adios till the next one... :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Experience That Changed My Life

Hello folks....
Sorry once again to have let u down with my laziness. No excuses this time. Yesterday I thought of updating this blog with an incident that happened in February 2009, in my third year wherein my outburst against a person who had insulted me and many people close to me in a very derogatory manner made me an outcast in a group where I thought I belonged. That very person (name will not be taken.. :P) told me that I did not have the capability to motivate a team into winning, that I could never be a leader and command respect from others. Well, this was the most decent thing I ever heard from him, the rest consisting of mostly unspeakable words. I was shunned by some, but there were others who motivated me and stood by me throughout and gave me back that lost confidence. The result .... I became more determined than ever to prove my beliefs correct and mainly to prove him wrong.
But then I thought, was that experience so important when you look at the larger perspective? Okay, it definitely made me stronger no doubt, and it did make me the happiest person when I finally succeeded in that aim in March 2010. But did it really change me or my way of thinking? If not, then why should I give it or for that matter that person so much importance and publicity by writing about it on my blog? So I decided that I wasn't going to dissect the incident here. But then, what should I write about? It has been more than a month since I wrote something here.
And then it struck me. There was something that I have long wanted to write about, it was mainly an evening that changed my whole perspective of looking at things. It was that evening that prompted me to start making a documentary that aimed at helping someone in need. So here it is.................and this time, all the names and people mentioned are real... :)

It was a warm April evening and I was busy editing the videos of 60 IDIOTS, the movie I was making on my IT batch of MNNIT, when Suhaas, a friend and classmate, entered my room.
"Hey, I need a favor from you, if it's ok with you." he said.
"Depends on what you want." I teased back.
"Do you know of the orphanage in the nearby Shivkuti area?" he asked.
"Yeah. I have heard of it, though I have no idea where exactly it is or what it looks like. So what about it?"
"Well, some 2nd year guys go there during the weekends to teach the children there. Just the basic Math, some english and other stuff. They want to shoot some sort of a documentary there with the kids, so could you help them with that ?"
"Sure man, but what exactly are they trying to make?" I asked.
"Even I'm not sure. They were also saying that they would be requiring some photographs for the same, so I thought of you."
"Okay, I'm in. Who are the persons involved?"
"I don't as such know them personally, just know a couple of Mohit' Agarwal and one Gupta from Mechanical."
"Is that Agarwal the plump fella??"
"Yeah, the same one I guess. You contact them and proceed. I would also try to come with you if possible."
Saying this he left. Mohit (the plump one) was in fact a member of my dance team and I knew him quite well. Apparently I had also borrowed his video camera to shoot 60 IDIOTS. I also faintly remembered him telling me once that they were doing this orphanage thing. So here, I got another opportunity to improve and display my photography skills. I contacted those people and we decided upon the time when we would go there.
That weekend, around 6 of us went to visit the orphanage, a "Bala Ashram" which is under the Ministry for Women and Child Welfare. My prized possession, the DSLR camera was hanging down my shoulder as we entered the building. After writing our names and details into the visitors register, we were escorted by a clerk there into a cramped room, approximately 20 sq. m (my estimate) where all the children had been gathered. As soon as we entered, a small boy came marching to me and put his right hand forward for a formal shake hand and said, "Good Evening Bhaiyya!!"
I shook his tiny hand and asked him his name. He just kept smiling blankly back at me. Another child came forward and said, "Bhaiyya, he knows only bengali, no other language."
"Kemon achis ?" I asked him the only sentence of Bengali that I know, if I am not wrong it means "How are you?". He replied a greeting back which I guess meant he is fine.
Another child approached me and tugged at my camera pouch.
"Isme kya hai ??" he asked me, his voice was very hoarse.
"Isme camera hai." I replied. "Jisse main aapki photo kheechunga."
"Bhaiyya meri sabse pehle!!!" Saying this he just jumped on me with glee. This boy's eyes had one of the most horrible squint I had ever seen in my lifetime. Looking at his way of walking and talking, I understood that he had some kind of disorder, most probably autism.
I looked around at the other children sitting on the floor. There were at least five autistic kids that I identified. Many had skin diseases, though not severe but scabies was quite common. Everybody was 8 years and below in age. In total there were around 45 children housed by the orphanage, we were told later.
I took out my camera and began clicking their pictures in earnest. Everybody wanted their own solo pictures and that led to a scamper to grab my attention. It was really tough managing the enthusiastic bunch. Mohit was busy filming the video while the other guys were either having friendly chats with the children or were teaching them. Managing this bunch of highly energetic children was one real tough job, and suddenly I felt a increased respect for my parents, them having raised 3 of the most over-energetic children.
I was lost in capturing the innocence of the children. Never before had photography become an emotional issue for me. Later when we interviewed some of the children, we came to know that most of them were not really orphans, but children abandoned by their parents due to financial reasons. They came from various parts of the country. I had a small chat with a boy who had come from Mumbai, and he was thrilled to talk to someone who could speak Marathi (however pathetic my Marathi may be). He told me that he used to work with a group of people there. Most of the time, they would give him packets which he would have to deliver to some other persons. He was picked up by government authorities at the VT station and brought here.
Somewhere at that time, there was a sudden realisation in me as to how lucky I was to have the support of my parents throughout my growing times. Most of us take our parents and their love for granted, "its their duty after all towards their children" many might say. But ask any of these children how badly they need a proper guardian if not a parent. While I was talking silly things to amuse them, one little girl asked me all of a sudden, "Bhaiyya humein lene koi mummy paapa kab aayenge ?" From her expression, it was clear that she yearned for a proper home. I was speechless for several moments, but her face was still searching for answers on mine. "Aayenge beta, jaldi hi aayenge." was all I could manage to mutter. But that was the moment I decided, that I would try my best to help these kids get adopted.
That day I was really amazed how just a simple action of mine i.e clicking their pictures gave them so much happiness. Those children required love and attention, and it was heartwarming the way they took pleasures in the simple things of life. We came back the next day too, this time with some games for them. The children were given some pairs of cards, which contained similar pictures with some particular differences, and the children were supposed to point out the differences. Most of them clambered up to us pointing at objects in the pictures and muttering "Iss card mein yeh hai, uss waale mein nahi hai". While I was surrounded with the toddlers, I saw a small girl standing outside the crowd, silent but staring intently towards me. I motioned her to come near me. She came smiling with a pair of picture cards in her hands.
"Batao, in dono mein kya kya alag hai ?" I asked her.
She stared blankly towards me, it being apparent that whatever I had said hadn't registered in her mind. After about a minute, she kept both the cards in front of me and said, "Isme yeh hai, isme yeh nahi hai." pointing at practically nothing. Another autism affected kid, I understood.
"Very good beta, aap to bahut hoshiyaar ho." I said, in a weak attempt to make her feel good, and somewhere I struck a chord and a very beautiful smile appeared on that tiny face. I knew that I wasn't very convincing in my compliment, but it was enough to make her smile.
There was another child who caught my attention. She must have been hardly two or three years old, but whatever I said or did, I have never seen a smile on that face of hers. All the pictures that I clicked of hers, have her frowning. A child who has lost her smile, now that was something that I found quite disturbing. And in that I have found a kind of a mission, to bring a smile on that face. How can I, or any other person for that matter, in our own small way light up that face.
She is becoming the face of my documentary, the teaser of which can be viewed on Youtube at CDC TEASER . I am currently in the editing phase of the film, so it would be at least 20 days before I manage to complete it.
I know this has been a very long post, my longest so far, but with a matter so close to my heart, I found it very difficult to cut down on the words. There were many more children who deserved mention in this blog, but I had to cut it short. Maybe I'll have another post for them, or else I can mention them in the new blog which would be coming up soon.
I don't really know whether this post has been an enjoyable fare or not, but this one has come straight from my heart. Exactly what I meant in the beginning of the post, when I had such an experience that changed my outlook towards life, why should I write about those who tried to destroy my spirit???????

I hope I get loads of comments on this one, and in particular, suggestions on how we can help improve their lives in our own small way.

So.....Adios till the next one.................. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cast Away.....

Hello everybody. I am back after a short hiatus due to mid-semester tests which is in fact the peak period for getting ideas which are totally non-academic. My last post was quite a lot of myself pouring out, so now its back to what I had started off with. The important memories of my life. Well, I would like to take a big jump from my childhood days to the beginning of a whole new life in college. I feel most of you would identify with the situations and emotions that would be described in the following passages. Hope you enjoy it!!!!!

Lying on my back on the topmost berth in the train, I was furiously reading through 'The Bone Collector' which I had to finish that day as the book had to make the return journey back to Goa, unlike me.
"We would be arriving in Allahabad in 5 minutes." The attendant in the train informed all the passengers in the compartment. Luggages were being scraped out from underneath the seats, people yelling at each other to be ready to get down, etc etc. Mom nudged me in the ribs.
"High time you got down from there. We are almost there now."
Sighing, I descended from the berth and sat next to Dad. In the aisle, people had already started crowding with their luggages, a some sort of rat race to see who would be the first person to alight from the train. Most of them were going home. Not me though.
The euphoria of getting selected for admission in a National Institute of Technology (NIT) was slowly draining away as the realities dawned on me. This was the first time that I was going to be all by myself in a totally unfamiliar place, supposedly hostile environment of UP, a totally different culture from what I had been brought up in and all this with no relatives or family friends within a thousand miles. For the next four years, this was going to be my home with some vacations in between to my actual home. I was somewhat sad, but also excited and filled with anticipations about what lay ahead of me.
"Hostel life would be tough, but it is an experience that you would cherish throughout your life." One of my Uncles had told me. Sharing a room with three other guys, keeping up late hours, eating whatever you felt like.....well, that kind of sounded blissful. But then, life had its ways of bringing you back into reality from your dreams.

This struck me first when I entered the hostel room where I would be staying for a year. The door creaked open and for a couple of moments I could see only darkness inside, even though it was around 5:30 in the evening. Somehow in the darkness, I managed to locate the light switch and switched on the dim bulb. There were four beds, metallic frame with plywood randomly "arranged" inside. Thick cobwebs lay all over the room and I somehow managed to fill the whole room with dust when I tried shifting one of those beds. I glanced over at my parents. Both were equally shocked at the state of matters in the room.
"So, what say?" I asked.
"Hmm. Nice for a hostel room. It was much worse in our medical college. The room here is quite spacious and comfortable for four people to stay in." said Dad, though not very convincingly.
No use grumbling over the room, i thought. It reminded me of a 'popular' quote, "Jab naseeb hai g***u, to kya karega Pandu" ("When fate itself is screwed up, what can you do"). Somehow we managed to catch a night's sleep in the room though it was quite tough considering the creaking fan which just about managed a faint blow of air in the room which was still filled with the dusty smell.
The next morning, I was escorted along with other newly admitted students to the college campus to complete the formalities of admission. We were taken from the Tagore hostel to the college in the college bus (which ironically was the first and the last time that I got a chance to have a ride in it) by a couple of mean looking seniors.
"Enjoying your first ride in the campus??" one of them asked me.
"Yeah, sure. Its great." I said, giving one of my broadest smiles, hoping to make friends with the senior guy.
"No need to smile so much kiddo. Don't worry, all these smiles would disappear as soon as you have your 'interactions' with the seniors." he replied curtly.
Not a very impressive first encounter with the 'senior' class. Well, I would do better next time, I promised myself.
After some time we were taken to the Institute's Computer Center where we were made to fill online forms as a part of the registration process.
"These are the new freshies." another senior remarked when he saw the lab filled with others like me filling out forms. "I like to see fresh meat coming here. Can't wait to get started with the 'technical intro's'." Now that was menacing. What did he actually mean by 'technical intro'? I would find that out soon after the classes started.

I joined my parents back in the hostel after the formalities were done with and we left the campus. We had decided to rather stay in a hotel for our last night together in Allahabad in some place decent rather than a dust-filled godown like room. We checked into a hotel after some shopping in the markets. Moving around in market was very difficult that day as the rains were pouring in like hell, and the streets were flooded with muddy greyish water. A shower in the hotel room was a welcome offer and a heavy dinner followed. Later that night, I went close to Mom and hugged her tightly.
"It's going to turn out fine." She patted me reassuringly. "Everyone gets this feeling initially, but once you make friends here, and the classes start, there would be hardly any time to miss home."
I didn't say anything, my throat was choking anyway. I just stayed like that for several more minutes and then slept away. I wasn't very sure whether I had taken the correct decision in coming to Allahabad to do my engineering when all the colleges in Goa were lying open for me (including the Medical College) after my very good performance in the state entrance tests. I knew I would be having trouble in adjusting to the food, the climate and more so, the language of this region. The Hindi that we had been taught in school was totally unlike what was being spoken here. As far as the food was concerned, all around I could see Poori's, pakora's, potatoes.....all of them dripping with thick mustard oil and it wasn't really an appealing sight for a coastal person like me, who had spent the first 18 years of his life thriving on sea food. The weather was very dry but I found it a tad more comfortable than the humid air of Goa.

The next day was going to be a tough one. Reluctantly, I had to face up to the fact that now onwards I was going to be alone without parents (wasn't independence what you always wanted?, Dad asked me). My throat was literally blocked as I hugged both of them goodbye and ran up fast into my room balcony to see them go. From my second floor balcony, I watched them go further and further away and then disappear into oblivion. I stood silently in the balcony for about an hour, just looking out into the horizon, holding back the tears. Finally, here it was. A life away from home, away from the protective presence of one's parents (which we only tend to realize when we are away from them) and a whole new challenging life awaiting me.
I went into the bathroom and splashed some water on my face, and took the opportunity to drain some tears away with the water. I roamed about a bit in the hostel and found a group huddled together in the courtyard with the sound of a guitar emanating. Maybe life wasn't going to be all hell, I thought and went over to make my first friends in Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad, India...................

to be continued in the next post.............

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Being a Goan outside Goa

Hello everyone
I know it has been quite a long time since my last post (about a month I guess). I have been a bit busy these days, so couldn't update. Also I am getting a writer's block. The stories of my life that seemed damn interesting when they happened, no longer seem interesting once i wrote them. So this post is gonna deviate a bit from the original idea of this blog. In this post, I am not writing any story or fictional work. These are my thoughts regarding certain facts that do exist even though we might try hard to ignore them. One of my more serious posts, but I hope you would like it. As soon as this block is cleared, I would be back to tracing the events of my life.

The title states "Being a Goan outside Goa". I got this feeling first when I left my beloved state to pursue my Engineering degree in MNNIT, Allahabad. Till then, I had never as such "lived" outside Goa if you discount the occasional vacations we had and those were also mostly in Maharashtra and Karnataka areas which are geographically and culturally similar to Goa. And then arrived one of the biggest decisions I have ever made for myself, accepting the admission letter during the counselling at NIT Surathkal.
It was 11th July 2006 when I first landed in this very unfamiliar place called Allahabad. Supposed to be one of the better cities of Uttar Pradesh. There were no apprehensions that the college would be good, but regarding the place, well we knew for what reasons U.P was in the news most of the time. It had taken quite a lot of me convincing myself that I could survive in a place where violence is not uncommon, where the culture is very much different from the environment I had been brought up in. And till today, I don't regret that I took the decision to leave behind the seat in Goa Engg College and a readily available and coveted seat in the Goa Medical College to pursue my education here.

Now let's get back to the point. A Goan outside Goa. NIT's are a place where you get to meet the real India. I say real India because there are students here from literally every nook and corner of the country and I believe India is all about the cultural diversity it holds. So during the initial introductions with the people, there was that typical look on everybody's face when I said that I came from Goa. The same fantasizing look that dog's have when you place a bone in front of them.
"Goa......wowwwww. Gosh, you are damn lucky man!!" was the most common reply.
"Am I really?" I would ask.
"Seriously dude. So many things Goa is famous for....the beaches, the tourists, and what do you call that cashew liquor thing.....ahh live in heaven out there and you are asking if you are lucky. I could do anything to live in a place like that!!!!!!!"
"Well, the beaches all tend to look similar even though they are really scenic. Now about the tourists, if you mean females strutting around in bikini's, then yes you do get them at some places but 90 percent are overweight ones with flab hanging all over them, so if you find that appealing then suit yourself. Regarding the Feni, I never tasted it so I really dont know. But it comes under the category of the "Desi daaru"."
The look I got in return for these statements was that of utter surprise. I did not appreciate my own homeland. One person once told me that for them, Goa is all about the three B's; Beaches, Babes and Booze. However the question that took the prize was,
"Have you ever been to the nude beaches in Goa?"
Now I actually didn't know what I was supposed to say.
"Are there really?" I would ask. "I have lived there for 18 years, but have never managed to find one."
"Man, you are such a loser. You live through your puberty in Goa and haven't yet been to a nude beach there. What the hell do you do there huh? No nude beaches, no girlfriends, no alcohol. You should be staying in a hermitage."

So that was what a Goan was supposed to do. That was the identity associated with any person who hailed from Goa. Drink all day long, party at night, lay around naked in the sand and "enjoy" with girls. You try to explain what actually Goa is all about, and you are shunned away as a loser who does not know how to enjoy life. Why?????????????????
When you see anything about Goa on T.V, what is it that they say?
"Goa, 365 days on a holiday!!". That tagline may have worked somewhat for the booming tourism industry, but what does it convey in reality? That Goa is just a place where you can "enjoy", and for majority of the people this "enjoyment" means booze, drugs and many times a chance to evade the law. And I don't deny at all that this is what my beloved hometown is turning into. Though the tourism industry is one of the biggest contributors to the state's revenue, what it has invited is trouble. The night parties at the sea-side shacks have turned into an easy opportunity for drug abuse. Also the recent cases of sexual assaults during these parties (some of them on minors) have been hogging the limelight on national news creating a very negative image of Goa. Any girl who's a native of Goa is assumed to be easily "available" and in many cases, having a "loose" character. This may sound far fetched, but it is the reality that I have seen.
-- Alcohol is considerably very cheap in Goa as compared to other states.
-- Whenever Goa is shown in movies, its always white ladies sunbathing in bikini's on the beaches.
-- You move on any 2 kilometre road stretch in the state and you will find at least 3 "Bar and Restaurant"'s.

When we ourselves want to portray out state like this, what can you expect the others to believe? And the famous politics of the land do not help matters. An Education minister who is not educated, a Health minister who is not "healthy", Governments that change more often than seasons.
Since I have been highlighting mostly the negative aspects of Goa, that does not mean that I dont appreciate what has been bestowed upon us. I am a proud Goemkar (Goan) myself. Some of the facts I am proud of ---
-- Goa has been voted as the best place to live and work in this country.
-- We have one of the richest history (including the pre-Portuguese rule era, of which very little is known to the masses) and cultural heritage in the country.
-- Among the highest percentage in terms of education.
-- One place that has never witnessed religious riots or disturbances.
-- One of the few places where a mosque can be owned and maintained by a Catholic.
-- We have a biological hotspot in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary which has the highest biodiversity in the whole of Asia.
-- A place where women have equal rights as men especially where inheriting property is concerned.
-- And lastly, a place that welcomes everyone irrespective of color, caste, religion, region to have a share in the wealth bestowed on it.

Frankly speaking I don't blame the rest of the country for looking at us in this way, because that's the way we have been portrayed always. Finally it is up to us how we want to be viewed by the public. So the ball is definitely in our court, whether we want this to continue, or do we require a drastic makeover or a facelift??

Expecting everyone's views on this. Do comment.

Adios till the next post!!!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The First Flutter of the Heart

It was just another exciting morning. A day that some kids hate, some kids love. It was a mixture of both for me. We could expect another essay titled "First Day at School" from our English teacher. It was her favourite topic, and she would always tell us to write about it and submit it on the "second" day at school. Something I always looked forward to on the first day of an academic year was the new faces that one might get to see in the class. There were also a few entertaining nuts of the class who would cry their hearts out at being forced to sit in the class while their teary-eyed mothers stood outside the classroom and admired their kids sitting in the class.
I was seated next to Nitin as usual and we were making plans for the recess (and the classes had not even started!!!). And as we had been seeing for the past 3-4 years, tiny Vinay was simply refusing to let go of his father. This was a yearly scene which all the students of my class got to see. Poor Uncle Kamat would try to convince Vinay to go and sit quietly with the other children in the class but he wouldn't budge. He had caught hold of his father's shirt and was yelling a tantrum sometimes jumping and stamping the ground to emphasise his point. I didn't blame him either. Poor Vinay's scores lay at the bottom of the class and the class teacher made him seat next to Pravin, who loved to remind him of his "status" in the class.
These were the scenes we always witnessed on all First Days at school. However that day was different. I couldn't make out what exactly was making the difference until about 1 minute before the starting bell rang. Maybe it was the weather outside. The beginning of the monsoons in Goa always brought the sweet smell of the soil, the lush greenery around. I was staring out of the window, admiring nature's beauty when there was a knock on the door of the classroom.
"May I come in Ma'm?" a sweet voice said.
I looked around along with the rest of the class and my heart skipped a beat. Standing at the door was a cute girl, her skin color matching her white blouse of the uniform. Ms. Shilpa, our class teacher looked up and motioned towards her to come inside.
"Ma'm I am a new student." she proudly told Ms. Shilpa who promptly checked the roll register for confirmation. "The name is Simran."
I felt myself turning crimson as Simran came and sat on the bench right in front of mine. A gentle wind blowing from the window carried the whiff of her perfume into my nostrils.
"Nice smell." I thought to myself. Instantly a movie song started playing in my mind.
"Pehla nasha, pehla khumaar. Naya pyaar hai, naya intezaar......". I guess it was because I had seen the movie the day before or maybe the situation was actually ironical.
I tried to distract myself from her by looking outside. Wow. The grass seemed very green. The trees were swaying with the wind as if jiggling to a song. The rose bushes just outside in the school garden were prettier than usual. I could even sense music in the raindrops dripping outside the window. Was the cuckoo really singing on the mango tree? Hey, I was smiling to myself. I imagined myself as Aamir Khan, jumping on those grassy slopes with a sweater tied around my neck, singing happily and rolling on the grass. If there was a heaven, then I was surely in it.
I was woken up from my reverie with a nasty poke from Nitin.
"Ouchhh." I jumped loudly enough to attract the attention of the whole class, especially Ms. Shilpa.
"Which world are you lost in, boy?" she asked me. It took me a couple of seconds to realise that she had been calling out my name for the attendance. Giggles followed all around as I sat back on my seat. Simran had also seen me make an idiot out of myself and was quietly smiling. I looked down at my feet in embarassment.
The rest of the pre-recess session passed away without any incidents as I tried to concentrate on the class. It was very difficult as the wind would pass on the perfume smell every now and then and ocassionally her silky hair would blow back and tease my fingers on the desk. But somehow I managed to solve the sums that were given as class work.
With the ringing of the recess bell, there was the usual "Race to the loo" which I won. All clean and emptied, we returned back to the class to have our tiffins. Mom had put five Chakli's (a crunchy snack) in my tiffin and I munched away while Nitin too grabbed one of mine. Without fail, my eyes darted on the bench in front.
Simran was sitting all alone with a notebook and a pencil. She wasn't eating anything.
"Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to strike a conversation." I thought. I took out my pen and tapped her shoulder lightly (I was too shy to do that with my hand). She turned around and I got tongue-tied.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I...I...I...wan..." I stuttered.
"Huh?" she looked puzzled.
I recovered my senses and said, "You are not eating anything?"
"Nope, Ma is not well. So she couldn't make any tiffin for me." she said.
"Oh, would you like to have a Chakli? It's homemade." I offered with full generosity.
She picked one from my tiffin box.
"It's really nice. Thank you so much. You are really sweet." I felt blood rushing from all parts of my body to my cheeks.
"I am Ashwin. And this is my friend Nitin." I was a full and proper gentleman. She shook hands with both of us. I felt my pulse rate go up as she held my hand for those two precious seconds.
"I am Simran. Well, it's nice to have new friends. I am new to this town and this school. So I hardly know anyone. Where do you stay?"
So now things were beginning to move.
"I stay near Vasant Nagar. Nitin stays in Housing Board, very close to my house."
"Can't Nitin talk at all?" she asked teasingly. I turned around and saw Nitin staring sheepishly at her. He too was lost in wonderland I guessed.
"Yeah...yeah..I can talk...See?? hehe" he said.
"Nice to know that." she added modestly. "Well, I too am staying in Housing Board. I hope we can visit each other in the evenings. I might need some help in the studies, and I noticed that you were quite good in Maths."
Gosh. Why was all the blood only accumulating in my cheeks?
"Yeah sure." I said and the bell rang. However there wasn't the usual scramble of feet in the class. I turned around and saw that ninety percent of our classmates were staring in my direction with their mouths wide open. I felt more conscious and pretended to be highly interested in searching my books in my bag.
"She is really nice and friendly na?" Nitin asked me on our way back home after school. I could see that he was also lost in her thoughts.
"What do you mean? All girls are like that when you first talk to them. Afterwards they all start acting the same." My male ego spoke. But in my mind, I was doing additions and multiplications with Simran.
Reading till now, you might have thought that I managed to have those Maths sessions with her. Maybe I might have. Maybe my dreams then of singing and dancing with her on grassy slopes might have come true. Maybe she would have been my girlfriend. Maybe...Maybe....Maybe... Maybe all this might have come true. But fate had a different plan for me.
The very next day, Simran made friends with Alisha (my bitter arch-rival..remember?? read the previous post if you dont) and that itself burst my balloon of dreams. I don't know what Alisha told Simran about me, or even if she actually talked about me. But that friendship made sure that the conversation I described above was the longest one I ever managed to have with Simran. For the rest of the year, the maximum attention I managed from her was a cordial smile and with the end of the term, my parents had bigger plans for me. We shifted our home to a new city, "a place with better education" they said. They were right, though it took me much time to realise that fact.
I might have gone through the adoloscence phase of life like everyone, with hormone level rising and crushes galore. But as they say, the first one is always the special one.

Adios till the next post... :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Tinkle

The ceiling fan was whirring softly as a bead of sweat trickled across my forehead. Georgina (or George as she liked herself to be called) was on the move to save her cousins from the trap. Julian, the wise one amongst them had devised an ingenius plan to save Anne and Dick. Tailing along with George was Timmy as usual. The Famous Five had succeeded at last in solving the mystery and I clapped in my mind to celebrate their success. They were my idols. Julian, the thinker, Dick and his spontaneity, George and her courage, the loving and motherly Anne, and not to mention the ever faithful and lovable Timothy (or Timmy).
I closed the novel and looked down at Elsa, my German Shepherd. She was soundly asleep as usual under my bed. "Could I train her to be like Timmy?" This question always haunted me. I also tried a couple of times. The maximum I could train her was to run after the ball, but never managed to get her to get it back to me. It was my dream then to be a private detective, solve these interesting mysteries they always seem to get in books, and also have a smart dog for a pet. And I didn't have to wait long to get my first case.
The very next day, fully clad in my white shirt and navy blue shorts uniform, I reached school well on time as usual with my water bottle hanging down my neck. I went and sat down next to my best friend Nitin. I saw that he hardly noticed me. He was busy with something under the bench. I tapped his head with my knuckles and he just jumped and banged his head against the desk. Massaging himself, he got up and sat on the bench.
"Don't you ever do that again." He said.
"Sorry." I apologised making one of those apologetic faces which I had mastered (thanks to Elsa, of course). "What were you doing down there anyway?" I asked him.
"Guess what, I have got the latest Tinkle Digest with me." He was beaming, and I didn't blame him for it. It was a deal between us to exchange these interesting books between us after we had finished reading them.
"There is a very funny Suppandi story in this where he just buries a dead telephone since his master had told him that the dead always had to be buried."he said.
We chuckled but couldn't discuss any more because our strict English teacher Ms. D'Mello had arrived in the class with our homework notebooks. The remainder of the pre-interval session continued monotonously without any interesting stuff happening or being taught.
I raced Nitin to the loo, and won quite easily considering his stout build. Relieving ourselves, we discussed the test results which were to be announced in a couple of days.
"You have tough competition this time, Ash" Pravin said. I tried to ignore him as he always loved to demoralise me. But he continued.
"Alisha was literally dancing after the exams. It seems your winning streak is about to end." He said that as if someone was offering him a chocolate.
"Lets wait and watch Pravin." I retorted. "Anyway, this is between Alisha and me, so don't poke your nose in others' business."
"Business between Alisha and you huh. Nice man. So you like Alisha." He snorted. "This is some interesting news. Wait till the class knows." Saying this, he ran away.
I didn't have much time to fume as the bell rang again and we rushed back into our classes. The Maths class had started and soon I got engrossed in the multiplications and divisions. All of a sudden Nitin let out a gasp.
I nudged him to keep quiet and avoid the teacher's attention.
"My Tinkle!!!" he was on the verge of tears. "I had kept it in my bag. It's no longer there."
My heart skipped a beat as I was supposed to take it back home with me. I carefully checked his bag all over again. He was right. That Tinkle had just vanished into thin air.
Our actions were attracting attention from our other classmates but thankfully Mr. Naik was too busy writing the sums to notice. Alisha gave me some reprimanding looks. I signalled her to get lost and resumed my rummaging. Pravin was beaming with glee as he saw the desperation on our faces. And then suddenly, as if a switch had been switched on, the detective in me woke up.
"Why is he so happy to see us worried?" I wondered. I mentally made a note.
'Suspect No. 1: Pravin Kamat'
Like all other detectives, I too had to make a list of other suspects in order to investigate.
"Who would like to see me unhappy?" That included three other people whom I beat in studies and another fellow on whose bowling I had hit a six of the very first ball.
'Suspect No. 2: Alisha Sawant'
'Suspect No. 3: Aman Advani'
'Suspect No. 4: Amit Kanekar'
'Suspect No. 5: Vishal Singh'
That would be enough for a first time investigation, I thought. Now was the time to tick off from this list. First I looked at Vishal. As usual he was asleep on the last bench.
"No, he is too much of a pipsqueak to attempt such a thing." I crossed him out. The next was Aman. He would have dared to do such a thing, but due to ill fate, he was sick and absent on that fateful day. Amit was right there at the far end of the class. No, he recently had received a painful punch from Nitin while teasing him about his figure. The mark was still visible on his face.
That left just Pravin and Alisha. Both equally likely to do such a thing and both hated me equally, though for different reasons. I glared at Pravin. He mocked me by acting to be very scared of my looks.
I didn't dare glare at Alisha. She was a real complaint-box as we called her. The slightest disturbance and she would complain to the teacher. I had to check the contents of her bag somehow without being obvious about it. An idea struck me.
I picked up my bag and went through its different compartments searching for the hook I had found on the road a couple of days earlier. It was right then that the mystery was solved, but being an investigator, I couldn't be labelled as a culprit, so I decided to carry on my investigation even though it was totally unnecessary. I silently kept the Tinkle in my bag and tied the embroidery thread I had brought for the craft class to the hook. As Mr. Naik's back turned I carefully threw the hook on Alisha's bag and pulled the thread.
Her open bag fell down and her books fell all over the place. Some people jumped, while others came forward to help her collect her books. In the commotion I silently crept away, gave Pravin a slight kick on his shin and rushed back to my bench with that saintly expression to avoid any suspicion.
"What was that all about?" Nitin asked me as I cut the thread off. without him noticing, I removed the Tinkle from my bag.
"Well...I found your book." I said, beaming at him.
"What??? Where was it? Who had taken it?" He could not control his excitement.
"It was Pravin, you know." I briefed him, like any professional investigator. "I knew there was something fishy going on when he came outside only to taunt us. He wanted to have a fight with us, and since we didn't fight back, he took his revenge in this way. As long as I am here, you never have to worry, friend!!"
I smiled to myself as he silently hugged me. Well, who cared anyway that the book was inserted into my bag by mistake or that Pravin was innocent in this regard. What mattered to me was that I had successfully solved my first investigation that I have now titled "THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING TINKLE".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Introduction

Well...for all those who don't know me, I am not a great writer, nor a brilliant thinker. Just a normal "common man" as they say on the verge of completing my engineering degree. Suddenly I see a wave of bloggers beginning to emerge, so why not me. I don't promise anything extraordinary here. This is just an attempt to explore my writing skills further and what better than a blog. Free of cost, not much time involved, update whenever I feel like and when a wave is rising, its always better to swim with it rather than swim against it. Who knows this better than a person like me, who has been living in the coastal belt of India or more specifically the scenic state of Goa for about 18 years of his life.

Now that the Statement of Purpose is done, lets get back to business. If you have come to this blog, you might find the title to be very strange. "History, Mystery, Daal and Biryani" .. WTF many might say, what is the relation between all these words. To be honest, there isn't any, so don't burden your minds trying to find one. I have copied this title from a storybook which I had read in my childhood. "Why the hell is it being used here?" .. well...these are the very aspects that I want to explore in this blog. The history...or the past which has made me what I am today. The mysteries that have always surrounded me, some of which I haven't yet been able to solve. Regarding the Daal and Biryani...well...i havent thought much about these points other than that i like eating both in my feel free to let your imagination flow.

Now that the confusion regarding the title has been somewhat cleared, let me start blabbering about myself. Professionally, I am an engineer (well..not yet...but would be by May 2010). BTech. in Information Technology from NIT, Allahabad to be more specific. Other than that, well..i would say I am a jack of all trades and master of some. Music has been a passion ever since I recall. Trained for 4 years in Indian Classical music, lost touch once the pressure of academics caught hold of me. Writing fiction was something which began with school dramas. My first full fledged short story was when I was about 14 and it was titled "Uncle John". Again, academics and studies suppressed this talent, but not for long. No sooner did I enter my college life, writing stuff was back along with a new passion for dance. Yes, I do a bit of dance too. This began with the fresher's function in our college in which the first years (it used to sound like a filthy word when our seniors would say it) performed for a whole evening. The Rajasthani folk dance (or rather ARARARARA as it is more popularly known here) began a new interest in dance and I am still hooked on to it. The next in line was my current raging passion ie Photography. I still can't understand how just a small interest turned into an art, a way to let my imagination run wild and to get the pleasure in clicking pictures which could convey a message or even show the beauty of simple things around us.
As you now might have noticed, my taste is not limited to certain aspects. This blog is mainly a way to explore my writing skills to the extent that I have not done earlier. I would be updating regularly, so if you are still interested, well...go ahead and explore my mind with me.
But before you do, let me give a warning. There might be some stuff which some people might not like or rather be ignorant about. All the events and happenings that I would be writing about are TOTAL FICTION which is of course inspired by true events that occured in my life. The names of the people used would be changed in controversial topics.

So I think this was long enough a first post....wait for my next one which would be coming up soon....till then.....Adios!!!!!!!