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................