Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Virtues of Getting Married (Only for Women)

All ye unmarried ladies, get married. Hey, don't get me wrong, I know what I am talking about! Am I married? No, but I.. Am I out of my mind? No, not that either. But really, I have thought this our thoroughly before putting it forth. But oh, wait, are you studying? Because then you better scuttle back to your books, this is of no pratical use to you. Are you working? Do you have a boss you hate? Of course you have a boss you hate! Well then, read on. And after that, get married.

The meaning of marriage in my mind is simple. Here's what you do. Find a guy who earns well and assures you that he will be a loving and caring husband. Sign a deal with him which entitles you to at least a third of his salary every month. Then, marry him. Now, your husband is your employer and your boss. Also, your income is not taxable.

Now, enter the green pastures. Wake up with him in the morning, fix him a breakfast and pack him a lunch. Then, when he has left, treat yourself to a lazy breakfast. Then if you wish, go back to sleep. Yes, I know - you can actually do that - sleep while your boss works. Then you wake up when you please, shout a bit at your housemaid and get the real work done. Tidy up the place a bit. Play some nice music and take a luxurious bath. Then cook your favourite lunch and eat in your own sweet time, watching TV. Then you are free to read a book, learn to play the drums, take a walk in the park, or pursue any hobby. Then when the sun sets, you make some nice snack for your beloved and get ready to welcome the tired boss home. Make him comfortable, fix him a long bath or give him a massage. Make his favourite dinner. Pamper him. It shouldn't be so tough, you have had a beautiful day, haven't you?

On weekends, laze away with him. Call his mother - it will take 5 minutes, or maybe 30. While talking to her, remember your lazy afternoon and remember they are worth this. This and a few more aunts.

On some days, you would be bored of cooking. How do you handle that? You raise your voice a teensy bit, and say this - "I've been cooped up in this house ALL THE TIME. I'm so frustrated! I want some change!!" He will say, "Oh dear! I'm so sorry. Lets go out today! Is that okay?" Then you say okay, because you know its too good a deal. Imagine saying all this to a boss elsewhere and pulling it off.

Sounds like a great deal, doesn't it? But if you ask me the best part of it all, it's this - if you think you can't handle any of this, just be good to him in bed. In most of the cases, thats all it would take.

P.S. It doesn't work out with kids. Don't have them.
P.P.S. Don't let your current boss read this. Neither your husband.
P.P.P.S. Sarcasm. Go back to work.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wordly Woes

Rcntly, n infinitly annoyng habt has bcum ncreasngly prevalnt amng yngsters (n evn d eldr ppl spendin 2 mch time on d intrnet). Her Im talkin abt d habt of usin 'sms n intrnet lingo', typcally a modificatn of english in which most f d vwls (read vowels) r redndnt n most f d spellngs dstrted. While d omission f vowels arose coz f celfones n twittr, d spellng distortns containin d same no. f wurds don mak much sense.

And either way, none of them are easy to read, as you would have realised to your exasperation while reading the above paragraph. Yeah, yeah, I know, recent studies have proven that the human brain can decipher any word with letters jumbled. But when you sit down to relish your few minutes of facebooking after a long day, you hope to utilise your mental faculties for something better than decoding the intricate spellings. For example, how on this earth do you hope to be enlightened enough to know that 'ma' should be read as 'my'? For a long time, I thought 'ma' in India means Mommy, until finally wisdom dawned upon me and the codes started making sense. Also, I had made peace with 'ya' meaning yes (It should be 'yeah', people, though its ok, I can live with it.) But when people started using 'ya' at the end of every sentence, I lost it again. Then one fine day, I woke up and realised that 'ya' now stands for 'yaar'. Apparently, thats how Englishmen and Americans would pronounce it. (No, they won't. They would pronounce it as 'man' or 'buddy'. But that's ok too.)

Speaking of pronountiations, I know how 'its' and 'girls' are pronounced in English, but can someone throw light upon the pronountiation of 'gurlz', 'itz', 'iz', 'izz', 'itzzz' etc.? Also, would you explain me the meaning of 'helloz' and 'okies', or the logic behind 'n1'? (Can I start using b1, because most of the ones are not n1?)
Oh, I almost forgot this one - why is 'e' written as '3'? And what am I supposed to make of words written LiKe tHiS? They seem annoying. But are they supposed to be preEttY or fAshIOnAblE?

So here I am, absolutely vexed and totally clueless about this all-pervasive ever-changing database. And all those dear people who made me take the pains to write all this, I know you are too much into this usage to let go of it now. So lets make a pact. You won't call your language English, not even internet English, Short English, or something as cheesy. (Think of English as a patented word.) You call it something else, and we, the language lovers, don't bother you about it. You can also write blogs, books, dictionaries and thesauruses in your language ; we will try to read them if they are worth it. You can also have awards for the best works in your language - The Least Number of Vowels Award, The Most Innovative Short Form Award, etc.

On a closing note, I would like to say just this - The educated, the intellectuals, the productive ones will always use English as it is, because they have read a lot and typing the right words is a part of their psyche. You might think your language is for the busy people. It isn't. if you were that busy, you wouldn't tweet so much as to get addicted to this language. You might think that such usage shows a modern bearing and a 'cool' attitude. It doesn't. Following others randomly without thinking is the opposite of modern. Your language, I believe, is for people who have a misguided notion of cool and a craving for showing off a fake accent. On second thoughts though, perhaps its just for people who have forgotten the classroom English in this endless stream of junk. I no, I hd cn it cumin.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I finished 3 days of relay fasting today morning, and now its time to start the fourth day tomorrow. I didn't want to take a leave from work, so decided to fast alternate days while working. Its not as easy as it sounds, believe me. Spending an entire day, working, travelling, talking to people, going to Freedom Park whenever possible, and trying your best to remain cool, all this while having just water in your system - Its difficult. Doing this over a week every alternate day, its even more difficult.

I didn't feel much the first two days of the fast, but the third day, I could feel a strange kind of a lethargy creeping over me. I grew silent and introvert, my thoughts eating up my hungry self. Today, I have been eating all day, but somehow, my body seems to be recuperating from some illness. My cheeks look sunken, and I look terrible, people say. My body has slowly started persuading me to stop, and her arguments are tempting.

But I don't want to stop. There are some causes for which you should do something, anything. Then, there are some causes for which you must do everything, everything that's possible. This is one of them. If I won't, who will? If not now, when? And if I don't give it my best now, how will I ever live with myself?

As a kid, I grew up listening to the stories of our freedom fighters, listening to how the greed of a few people cost us our freedom and the bravery of a lot many won it back for us. And when I listened to them, I told myself - I won't be selfish, I will be brave, like my freedom fighters. I grew up in the world of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, and I grew up with the assertion that I will be courageous like my heroes, I will be strong, and I will stand up for the Good. If I don't live up to my own words, who will? If I don't become my own hero, who will?

Yes, my body is complaining. Yes, she is tired. But more dreadful than this fatigue is this chilling feeling - What if this crusade doesn't work out? What if there aren't enough people? What if, even after getting this one opportunity, we fail? Will I be forced to live in this corrupt India? Will I have to bear with all the injustice around me, even if it kills my heart to look at it? I would rather live with a tired body for a fortnight, than with a sorry heart for a lifetime. That's my reason.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Why Jan Lokpal

A lot of people I know believe that the entire nation fighting for one bill to be passed against corruption is not justified. There is a widespread belief that a bill cannot root corruption, that corruption is a mindset which every individual has to let go of. That we have to first stop giving bribes ourselves, and then only can the problem of corruption be addressed. I disagree. I agree, on the other hand, with Anna. And I know this is being really imposing, but I want you to understand why I say this so confidently. I will first elucidate why I think this school of thoughts might not work, and then I will tell you why the bill will.

A. Why the individual fight against corruption might not work:
1. These are all Utopian imaginations, and we, unfortunately, live in India. This is the country where people won't throw a plastic in the dustbin voluntarily, even though it doesn't cost them anything. Do you really expect 1.2 billion people to change their attitude, when it will cost them a lot of comfort?

2. You and me want to change, do you know why? Because we are the bribe payers. Give me one reason why the bribe takers will want to change.

3. I know, if nobody in the country gives a bribe, what will the takers do? Thing is, corruption isn't just about the small 100 Rs. bribes circulated among the middle class. The corruption which affects the nation is at a much larger scale, and the people involved needn't be Indians in such cases. Right there, this theory crumples down. (Go to Things You Should Know for an example.)

Why Jan Lokpal:
1. Can I safely assume that the government officials and bereaucrats do not form more than 30% of our population? I will, for now. Now, corruption is a two way process, as you said. Disable one side, and the process stops. Its easier, arithmetically, to control the 30% of the population, the bribe takers, than it is to control the rest 70%, the bribe givers, don't you think?

2. The above-mentioned bribe-takers wouldn't give up corruption voluntarily, ever. They have to be made to do so. Hence we need something that makes them do so - law, punishment, force. Jan Lokpal.

3. No bill can remove 100% corruption. The Jan Lokpal promises around 60% reduction. But the presence of an authority which has prosecuted 60% of the criminals instills a sense of fear, at least in the minds of the officials of lesser stature. That helps induce a non-corrupt mindset. We are a lot more closer to Utopia already!

4. Nothing stops the Jan Lokpal from being corrupt, except that the Jan Lokpal can be prosecuted by another Lokpal. But we will get a chance to elect them again. All we have to do is ensure we don't vote for the one who has been corrupt. Note that this committee will be structurally much simpler than our Parliament. So we will have a much bigger say in their election. Also, a big number of them will be civilians having no ties with politics or bureaucracy. There would be a lesser conflict of interest there.

C. Why you should fight for the Jan Lokpal even if you think all of this was bullshit:
1. These protests have been a nightmare for the government. Next time they will watch their step. And every added protestant will increase their fear. The next Government, whichever it is, will dare not commit the mistake this one did.

2. These protests have made working against corruption a 'cool' thing. India Against Corruption has hammered the message of 'Every Indian Anna Hazare' deep and clean. People will now be more courageous against the day to day bribery. They won't be ashamed of saying No.

D. If you still don't want to fight:
The administration has been callous towards tackling corruption with an iron fist. Every Indian who doesn't fight against this attitude, justifies it. If you don't fight, the Government takes that as a vote of your confidence. Register your dissent, just to assert what you want. Protest, just to remind them, that you are the one they represent, you are the one they should work for, and you are the one who inspires their decisions. Protest, just to tell them that you care, and so, they must, too.

E. If you disagree, still
Do  you know of any other way, one that will actually work?

P.S. Obviously, no single bill can end corruption, Jan Lokpal is not a magic wand, and anybody who believes so is seriously mistaken. But at the same time, those who claim that the bill is unfair because it covers only the politicians, are being extremely negative and unrealistic. This bill is a start. This protest is a beginning. And we have a long way to go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things You Should Know

Many of you think that corruption is not the only thing plaguing our nation. You are right. But there is a good chance you are underestimating what corruption does to us. You know of the small Rs. 100 bribes you pay in your everyday life, or of the 2 lakh crore scams which make it to the headlines. There's more to it, and its hidden. You know the overall picture of these things, but not the grisly details. And they make a lot of difference.

I will explain that with an example. Do you know about Enron and and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB)? Sure, you have heard the name. Have you heard this then, that the Government of Maharashtra pays them 1000 crores a year, more than 2.5 crores a day, even today, for nothing in return? Do you want to know why? Read on.

Enron is a US based natural gas company, which in 1993 started India's first private power project. The MSEB (was forced to) pay $30 billion for a 675+2015 MW Power Plant in Maharashtra. The gross profit earned by Enron for the project was a little more than $12  billions. Yes, dollars, in bllions. Adding 2685 MW causes an 18% increase in MSEB's capacity, and 30 billion USD is 70% of MSEB's revenue.

Later, the power that the Enron project produced was 2 times as costly as its nearest competitor, and 7 times as costly as the cheapest electricity available in Maharashtra. So it was decided to better pay Enron the compulsory fixed charges required to maintain and run the plant (as a part of the contract) than actually buy the electricity they produce. The fixed charges work out to be 1000 crore a year for the phase I, i.e. the 675 MW plant, alone. 1000 crores a year for the next 40 years. That could perhaps be the reason why Maharashtra, especially Vidarbha, faces such an acute shortage of electricity. They are paying but not getting any electricity in return.

When the deal's negotiations were in progress, being undertaken by the Congress-led State Government on Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena Opposition were accusing the Congress of having taken a 700 crore bribe. The Enron itself acknowledged that it had spent millions of dollar in 'educating' the politicians and bureaucrats involved in the deal. The opposition by BJP-Shivsena led to the annuling of the bill. So then, how and why was the bill passed, you ask? Later, the BJP-Shivsena alliance got elected for a government at the Centre, and this Government lasted for 13 days. On their last day, amidst all the last day drama, they re-ratified the national government's counter agreement for the deal. After a couple of months, the BJP-led government in the Maharashtra State signed the deal with the above mentioned terms.

In my hometown in Maharashtra, in summers, we get electricity only 12 hours a day. And the number is decreasing every year. So now, you can extend this information to other situations logically. You know most of them. You have bad roads because dishonest and inefficient construction firms bribe the government for contracts. Perhaps, in some years to come, we will realise what a hoax the Nuclear Deal was. But the American companies won't lose a penny. They have the Civic Liabilities Bill. The politicians who took the bribes would be retired and happy by then. We, the people, and our country will bleed out the expenses.

If you want to read more about this and a few more things, try Arundhati Roy's The Algebra of Infinite Justice. Most of the numbers and statistics are borrowed from there.


An old man sent to jail before he committed something you call a crime, over 5000 detained for, well, not eating and fighting against corruption, peaceful mutinies all over the nation that you cannot control without force... Does that ring a bell? Oh wait, I remember! It reminds me of the colonial British Raj! But no, this used to happen when we were not independent, right? But now we are free, right?

Stop trying to be on both the ships, so you can decide which one to leave when it sinks. Rats do that. Speaking of rats, I always thought of you as monkeys rather than rats, seeing you have a Vanarsena at your disposal. But perhaps their courage and bravery comes useful only when Muslims are to be killed or partygoers are to be assaulted.

Nitin Gadkari,
Nobody goes to a party uninvited. Thing is, this is not a party, people are actually starving here.

Politicians in general,
Just a question out of curiosity - did you ever, as a kid, hold an Indian flag in your hand? Or, have you seen your kids doing that? (A pointer to help you remember: people look happy and proud when they hold it, not haughty, shrewd or gleeful.)
And oh, sorry for wasting your time with this question Ms. Gandhi. I know you didn't, so Your Highness and Your Kids are exempted of the shame.

All those citizens of India who know and understand what's happening, but have decided not to do anything about it,
Please explain to me how your mind or heart works. I need to understand. No, really, I do.

All the Indians who are doing something, anything!
Hang on there. You are this country's only hope, howsoever feeble it might be. Keep doing your better.

The day you were born, we got someone much better than what we deserved. Stay alive. Please.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I will not watch the last Harry Potter movie,

Because its not just another movie. It wasn't just a novel either. It was a world I literally lived in. You weren't just a novel character, ever. You were a person I understood.

Because I wasn't just another fan. I was someone who talked alone in my room, mimicking conversations between you and your friends. Because I literally slept with those books under my pillow. Because I remained awake night after night reading in the lamplight, only to duck inside the blanket on hearing the slightest noise around me.

Because I hated the movies for the twisted disfigured story they showed, but I still couldn't keep myself from watching them over and over again. Because I felt genuinely excited about wearing a S.P.E.W. badge on my chest when I went to see The Goblet of Fire. Because I keep a secret photograph of mine, wearing black robes and a pointy hat, holding a black stick I called wand. Because I thought that a Harry Potter bookmark was the most intimate gift ever given to me. Because my friends made me cut the cake on Hermione's birthday, and I thought it was cute. Because I own a Harry Potter towel, still.

All this wasn't because I felt Harry Potter was some cult. It was, and is, because it just felt natural to follow you. It was because you taught me that rules can be broken, and that its not a crime to play while working. Because I was a person who thought friends were a myth and friendship was a waste of time, before you made me realise what it truly could be. Because you made me stand up when I was scared. Because it was your story that inspired me to start writing in the first place. Because people may think I am still a kid, but the truth is, I grew up with you.

Every year since I read the books for the first time, I waited, with baited breath, on pins and needles, for the next book, the next movie. And now the wait is over. If I watch the movie, it all ends with a note of finality. If I watch the movie, there is nothing to look forward to. So where does one look, if there is nothing ahead? Look back and reminisce, or just close the eyes? Because, you know, some journeys are so much more beautiful than their final destination. And because this, for me, was a journey of a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What my lost purse taught me

Actually this post comes a long time after the events that happened in it. A few months back, I lost my purse in Forum Mall while I was shopping with my parents. When I say I lost it, I mean someone stole it. It was a precious pure leather bag, and I lost it along with a lot of things like my Debit cards, my ID, my pepper spray, an old diary containing all the articles I wrote as a child.

I was distraught, but more than that, I was angry. I hate thieves, I hate people who cheat. i hate people who treacherously take away what's not rightfully theirs. The purse along with all of its belongings were an honest person's earnings, and those vile twisted good-for-nothing thieves had taken them all away for their own honourless living. They had spoiled my evening with my parents, they had no right to do so. They had no right to enjoy at the expense of my tears, and yet they were enjoying, somewhere. It was so unfair that it made no sense. There had to be someting wrong with this world and with the way it worked.

Filled with contempt, I left for my apartment with my parents. The only thought I had on the way back home was - if the thief ever stood in front of me, even to apologise, I will punch him and kick him and hurt him till he bled for my tears.

Two hours after the purse was lost, my father got a call from the Commercial Street Police Station. The Inspector on duty told him that a purse containing an ID of Radha Sawana had been found on the Commercial Street and this was the emergency contact number on the card. He wanted us to collect the purse from the Police Station right then.

Off we went, I and Dad, and the Inspector showed us the purse. It was my purse alright, minus some cash and my pepper spray. I was delighted! I thanked the Policeman with all the gratitude I could muster, I really was immensely grateful. The Policeman asked me if I remembered anything about the thief, as they believed they had some leads on the culprits but needed more information to pursue them. I replied in the negative. Disappointed, he said, "We were lucky in your case Ma'am, at least there was an ID card with contact numbers in it. I have two more such purses, with no clues at all. And they did not register any complaint anywhere, so I cannot collaborate with other police stations for any information. Did you register a complaint somewhere anyways?" I replied in the negative again.

"Why?", he asked, "There is a Police chowki very close to Forum."
Backed up by Dad, I gave him the honest reply - "I didn't have any hope, or expectations"

For a moment, he looked hurt. Then he said pleadingly, "Madame, you should always register a complaint. It helps you and it helps us. Please do let us know if you remember something about the thieves anytime."

Thanking him again, we left, tired faces lit up with smiles. The distress of loosing the purse, and the awful journey till Commercial Street in the rains all remained a distant memory. Sitting in the bus, relieved now, I realised how quickly the Policeman had changed everything. It took just one honest deed, one good gesture to change all the accumulated destructive feelings. And that's when I realised, that Goodness rules the world. Still.

Its not so visible, but its Goodness that drives us all. If only bad things happened to everyone, we all would soon become violent cannibals and destroy each other. But we haven't. There's a lot of poverty, starvation, corruption, injustice, inequality, terrorism (etc. etc.) all around us, enough to make us all mad people. Yet, we haven't. Because sometime somewhere, something good happened to us all, and that is our strength. This goodness drives us to do something good, and this goodness makes us hope for good, expect for good, strive for good.

But we also underestimate this Good. We rarely ever realise how much of it is out there, running this world. We give importance to just the bad things. We remember the theives, we forget the policemen. Don't. Don't let the negative fill up your heart, because there's enough good out there to replace it. Enough, for all of us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Self and Sacrifice

Self-sacrifice is an ambiguous word - it starts with 'self'.

She looked at me longingly, the woman in the shabby dark pink saree. It was raining heavily outside, and in that overcrowded bus I was one of the lucky few with a place to sit. She belonged to the unlucky lot. After some time, she mustered her courage (or so I assumed) and asked me, with signs, to create some space for her to sit. I was half wet in my neat formals, I carried a bag full of books and another cover with some shopping, and the girl sitting beside me at the windowside had two shopping bags in her lap. No, I can't move, we would be too uncomfortable, I replied back in the same sign language.

She turned back with an apologetic smile. I returned to the refuge of my Walkman. After some time I noticed her talking to another woman in a shabby fluorescent green saree. Still talking, she removed her chappals from her feet and stood on the dirty wet floor. Why is she doing that? Is she too uncomfortable in her chappals? Perhaps they have become slippery in the rain. But are her chappals that bad, that she would rather dirty her feet than wear them? But then, she slid her feet into the other woman's chappals, who had removed hers to let her try them. And then, to my surprise, a smile lit up her entire face, her eyes shone, her lips parted, showing her misshaped white teeth. It was the kind of smile you don't generally see on the faces of people like us. It was a smile that started straight from her heart and travelled through her eyes, piercing my heart. I was shocked, because in that depressing overcrowded bus, no one could smile like that. What had she discovered? A pair of low cost chappals? Uncomfotable, for a reason I couldn't place, I returned to the refuge of my Walkman.

After sometime, the girl beside me left, and the woman in pink took her place. She heaved a sigh the moment she sat, and then started stretching her hands and massaging her shoulders and feet. Then she closed her eyes and just sat still. I observed her closely. Her saree was old and patched at a few places. Her chappals were poor. And to my amazement, on her dark body, she didn't have a single piece of jewellery - no ear rings or anklets or a chain, not even a nosepin or a single bangle.

She was a maid somewhere, and was coming back after a hard day. I now knew how she could muster the courage and ask for a place to sit, either she was too tired or she was used to asking others for help. She knew deprivation. She was deprived of jewellery. She was deprived of the pleasure of showing her pretty things to other women. She was deprived of the pleasure of buying her child the toy he wanted badly. She was deprived of the feeling of ending a day's work and going back to rest happily at home. And I had deprived her of 15 minutes of solace, because I would be too uncomfortable with all the shopping bags.

Guilt rose in me. And a justification too. I hate the rains, I hate the crowds, I really was irritated! I am a good person. I donate to needy people. I care, I sacrifice my savings for their happiness. But then, a mocking voice from somewhere within me replied - No, I sacrifice my savings for my happiness. I do end up doing good for them, but for the sake of my own good, to feel good about myself. Its cruel, but it makes sense. Because otherwise, I would have given her a place to sit. I did not, because it wouldn't have made me feel good. I wanted to assert, I wanted to deny my own accusation, but my voice went feeble. To my horror, my own conscience mocked at me.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Press your face against the window pane
and listen to the pitter-patter
of the raindrops

Carve your name on the misty window
and look through the clear glass
at the raindrops

Watch the streams trickling down
and watch your name dissolving
in the raindrops

Open the windows wide
and spread out your hands to feel
the raindrops

Go, run, stand in the balcony
lift your face and feel the touch
of the raindrops

Look at the rivulets, the natural drains,
the streets overflowing
with raindrops

Get washed, get fresh, get lost
in the memory lane, travelling
with the raindrops...

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Hourglass

Years ago, our country became a slave because some people who should've been strong, became weak, because some people who should've have been honest and proud, sold themselves. Did they know then, that they will be looked down upon by their future countrymen? Did they know then, that they will be blacklisted in history, forever?

And then there were some who stood up against. Some small, some big, some nationwide, some unnoticed, unknown. They too created history, a legendary one at that. What did they think of when they stood up? Did they know that the small things they were doing like walking to a seacoast and not wearing foreign clothes, will become an example for generations to come? Who were they? Were they just common people who became one with a leader, or were they wise seers, who knew they would inspire many more in their wake?

Right now, every present moment becomes a past every moment. Does it matter? What I'm doing, will it count? Do I belong to this timeline, to this history created every moment? How will my future generations judge me? Will I be mentioned in their books, will I be talked of in their stories? What will they brand me as? Will I be the weak one, who backed out when he was needed the most? Will I be the rebel, who dreamt of a better tomorrow for them? Or will I be a nobody, just.. a nobody?

[I wrote this post when I decided to attend the candlelight vigil in support of Anna Hazare. I wondered whether the event will come up in the history of India sometime. And if it did, I didn't want it to run like: "India was going to the dogs. A man named Anna Hazare decided to revolt against corruption, but the movement was unsuccessful because he didn't get enough support." What I mean is - you never know ; you might be creating history just by lighting a candle in a park.]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Small Things

When I woke up today morning, I was lying in a mess of my books, laptop, clothes, biscuits, chips, juice bottles and a lot of others things which shouldn't remain on the same bed when someone's sleeping on it. I had slept at 5 a.m. in the morning, reading ferociously through a book, without any consciousness of food, water or the changing colour of the skies outside. At 5, I lay down for a minute, to contemplate what I had read till now, and without realising it, I fell asleep. And just that way, without any alarms, I woke up at 9 in the morning and resumed the novel right away, without getting fresh or having food or switching on the lights. I got up only after I had finished the book late afternoon.

It was one of the most content night and day I had spent in ages. And in all that overflowing exuberance, I realised that the things that give you the most of happiness, are the smallest of such things. I'm not saying that the small things matter the most, they might not matter so much to everyone. The bigger things, your job, your boss, your career, and where exactly your life is going - they all form the greater bigger landscape, but these small things are like the colourful flowery patches dotted along it, which make the landscape so beautiful and so much worthwhile to see.

I remembered it was a similar, yet a very different April exactly a year back, when I had started writing this blog. A blog might not mean a lot to most people, but to me, it was this small thing that made me immensely happy, though for a timebeing. The happiness I got from writing one insignificant article made me happy, and carried me through till the time I wrote the next one. An entire year has now passed away, and I remember every article I wrote, every small patch of flowers, yet the landscape mesmerises me, a giant profile, huge yet hazy.

So here I am, dedicating this post to all those small things in my life. To the small plant I water every morning, to the 2 year old kid on the bus who once held my finger in his fist, to the pizza delivered to my doorstep when I'm mad and hungry, to the boring cricket matches seen along with a bunch of friends, to lying on the ground covered with purple flowers in Lalbaugh, to the 400 bucks t-shirt I bought for my brother, to the 45 minute talk with mum on a saturday morning, to the small pleasures associated with thinking of all this now, and to writing this one article in April 2011...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day

They sat still in silence, hugging each other. There were tears in her eyes, and he was sombre. Both were overwhelmed and humbled. In their ears, a Walkman played Nickelback.

It was their first Valentine's Day together, and the day before, they had planned the perfect romantic evening together. They were gonna get an expensive meal parcelled to his apartment, and have dinner while watching their all time favourite Lord of the Rings. It sounded like a dream come true.

But while going back to her place, sitting in the autorickshaw alone, she noticed a man at the signal. His right hand and leg were twisted and scarred, and he walked with a limp from car to car, begging for alms. Unable to look at him any more, she closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. They are everywhere around you, and you look away when you see them, but you can't close your heart to them, can you?

She wasn't herself when she reached home. She was deep in thought even when he called, his voice laced with excitation about the next day. Suddenly, her lost voice had interrupted his cheerful one, "Hon, can I talk to you about something?" He knew something wasn't right. "Yes dear, tell me..."


The next day, they met in Landmark and bought a sapling worth 80 Rupees. Then they went to his place, and ordered a meal from a nearby restaurant, which cost them 106 Rupees. And the expensive dinner that they had planned, which would have cost them 2000 Rupees at least - Well, they donated it. INR 2000 were credited to an animal care organisation, and their one meal on a special day became a special meal for many animals. The sapling was planted, she wanted to plant something for all the rose bushes which were cut that day.

His mood had become grave when they were browsing for different places where they could donate. They had fallen silent looking at the pitiful faces of little children and the innocent eyes of animals calling out for help. And even as they wanted to help them, they felt helpless.

For a long time after the donation was made, they sat still in the silence, hugging each other. There were tears in her eyes, and he was sombre. Both were overwhelmed and humbled, by their own actions. In their ears, a Walkman played Nickelback - "If everyone cared.."

He spoke after a long time.
"I did it for Snowy. And I wouldn't have done it without you. Thanks.."
"You did it, thats important."
"I want to spend every Valentine's Day this way."
"I guess thats why... I want to spend every Valentine's Day with you."

Valentine's Day is for love, not just for the lover. And love can be for everyone and anyone, even those you don't know. When you share love, it becomes a feeling that resonates through your being. It rings in your cheerful voice, and shines in your tearful eyes. Sometime, just try this, you would know.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


So dark and dreary was my path,
My heart's still full of fears..
Just trying to think about them,
Makes way for more tears..
So dont try to understand me Ma,
Don't try to reason why..
Tonight don't ask me why mamma,
Tonight just let me cry..

What shall I tell you Ma,
Of the suffering and the sorrow..
The regret of yesterday,
And the fear of tomorrow..
But now I'm safe at home Ma,
I've said all my goodbyes..
And tonight I'll just cry mamma,
Tonight don't ask me why..

Although now I'm home Ma,
And all around me is laughter..
My heart feels this is a calm..
Before the storm, not after..
Will this calm ever stay Ma?
Will this storm ever die?
I'm scared, don't ask me why mamma..
all I want to do is cry..

Soon I will be out again Ma..
And life out there is rough
Inside I'm still your kid Ma,
Though I pretend to be all tough
Things will be tougher this time Ma,
But my tears have  now gone dry
I'm scared but I'll stand tall Mamma,
This time, I don't wanna cry..

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Silent Revolutionaries

I'm a nobody to comment upon, write about, or even praise them. But I often feel so overwhelmed simply knowing about their greatness and foresight, that I cannot help myself. It is astounding how one family can give so much to a country, in face of every struggle that it faces along with it.

We all, as Indians, claim authority over the brand of Tatas - its our brand, the brand of India. As children, we went in a schoolbus made by the Tatas, and now as grownups, some of us are employed with them. But if truth be told, the brand is so vast and so multifaceted, that most of us don't know what all the tatas have given to this nation. Now, while doing an internship in one of their companies, I realise the full scope of it.

Those who live in Bangalore would know that the Indian Institute is called Tata Institute, it was Jamsetji Tata's brainchild. Do you know how it was established? Jamsetji Tata got a proposal drafted for its establishment and gave to the British Government in 1898, he called in a Nobel Laureate from U.K. to study the country and suggest a good location for its establishment, he even went to the extent of donating half of his personal wealth (14th buildings and 4 landed properties in Bombay). The proposal however, was approved in 1909, 5 years after the death of Jamsetji. At that time, an institute of such splendour didn't exist in UK itself. It must been gutsy on his part to imagine making such an institute in India, a nation colonialised by U.K.

While the nation rotted in dominion, the Tatas foresaw that Iron and Steel will become the foundation of future industry and economy, and they established the Tata Iron and Steel Company, making India's first Steel Plant in Jamshedpur. They convinced industrialists to just use the hydel power they wanted to make, because they saw future in hydroelectricity in India. Consequently, they set up India's first hydel power plant in Bombay.

Another Tata landmark, literally, is the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, which opened for business in 1903. Legend has it that Jamsetji Tata set his mind on building it after being denied entry into one of the city's fancy hotels for being an Indian. Today Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces own and operate 76 hotels, 7 palaces, 6 private islands and 12 resorts and spas, spanning 52 destinations in 12 countries across 5 continents and employ over 13000 people.

Tata Airlines, the first airline of India which they established in 1932, was the forerunner of Air India, later nationalised by the Government of India. JRD Tata himself flew the maiden flight from Karachi to Bombay. Such was the punctuality and efficiency of Air India in those days that a man standing on an airport in UK once said, Oh an Air India flight has landed, must be 8:00 AM.

Tata Steel introduced eight-hour working days in 1912, well before it became statutory in much of the West, and the first Tata provident fund scheme was started in 1920 (governmental regulation on this came into force in 1952). Way back in 1902, Jamsetji Tata planned Jamshedpur, a 'city for workers' of the planned Tata Steel Plant, which he wanted to be laid with wide streets planted with shady trees, and with plenty of space for lawns and gardens, large areas reserved for football, hockey and parks, and even areas earmarked for temples, mosques and churches. They were way ahead of their times, even in caring for their employees.

And now, in the wake of liberalisation, as India Inc. is coming of age, Ratan Tata goes on to take over a global steel giant, bringing Tata Steel from the 56th largest producer of steel in the world to be the fifth largest one. With quite a few takeovers which were heard all over the world, the group has given India a global standing like no other. In a pessimistic population which firmly believes that it can do nothing on its own, he launched the Tata Indica, India's first indigenous car. Against the cynicism of the world and the passive belief of Indians themselves - 'India mein kuch original nahi hota' - he urged the talents of this very country to launch the Nano and Swach, innovations in their own right.

This list will never end, as won't the Tata adventure, lets hope. None of the governments were liberal, or even fair to them. But inch by inch, they made their way through to the brighter side where things they believed in were possible. Without bending the rules of law and morality, going out of the way in taking responsibility of their stakeholders, they launched a series of firsts in this country. They were the giants who touched tomorrow. The visionaries who, when our leaderes fought for a free India, were slowly, silently and surely creating an India worth living in.

Note: The facts written have been taken/verified from several sources, chief among which are and the book 'Beyond the Last Blue Mountain' by R M Lala

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random Thoughts of a Wandering Mind

Whenever I pass through a forest or roam through a sparse vegetation on the outskirts of a town, I see so many trees I can't name. I hear a lot of different chirps, and I wonder which bird it is. I don't know why, but its really frustrating for me to be unable to recognise a tree by its leaf and a bird by its sound. Now on the other hand, do you remember the number of times you learnt World Geography? The Prairies and the Savannas, each and every continent, their countries, climates and crops, their minerals and industries, trade, culture and people, everything? I remember learning it twice during my schooling years, and the way our teachers taught it, the only message that reached my brain was - wow, thats a lot to remember! And now comes the funniest part of it - I remember very little of it ; actually, except the world map maybe, I remember nothing. So I often wonder why my teachers didn't curtail one year of World Geography and rather taught me to recognise my own surroundings. Hadn't I felt a greater sense of belonging had I known them better? Hadn't I learnt to protect them and cherish them, had I known them as one of my own?

In Maharashtra, where I studied, the state board textbooks teach us the Indian Freedom Struggle in three different classes during schooling. For the first time in class 5, then in class 8, and finally in class 10. Each time, the chapters add more dates, more names, more data to remember and rote. In class 5, we come to know that Mahatma Gandhi carried out the Dandi March to mark the beginning of Salt Satyagraha. In class 8, we come to know that it started on the 12th of March 1930 from the Sabarmati Ashram and we came to know of every leader who took part in it. In class 10, we came to know that it lasted for 24 days and 390 kilometers over 4 districts and 48 villages, we studied the entire map route of the March and the precise timing when the Mahatma picked up a fistful of salt from the shores of Dandi.

I know it is really ungrateful to be so sarcastic about our honourable leaders. To be honest, I respect them all from the bottom of my heart. But I believe that the purpose of history is not to honour the dead, it is rather to inspire the living. Studying the Freedom Struggle once is a must, twice is good - to know more details, but thrice is so unnecessary! I often wonder how many of us have ever been encouraged by our glorious history the way we learnt it in school. And I also wonder whether it would've been much more fruitful if they had instead compiled the history of Indian industrialists - The Tatas, the Birlas, the Ambanis, the Mittals, the Mallyas- all of those who gave India an identity in the World today. And if to this compilation they had added the stories of Jagdishchandra Basu, Meghnada Saha, Ramanujan and C V Raman. And if they had been accompanied by Kapil Dev and Dara Singh, and P.T. Usha and Subbalakhshmi.. If instead of telling us how the Dandi March was carried on, they had told us how the IISc was established, and how India launched her first rocket and won her First World Cup... That would've inspired me a lot, I am sure.

How many times have you learnt about the Four Types of Pollution and all the blah blah about it during school? How many times did you learn in Environmental Studies, that you shouldn't waste water and electricity, that they are precious? And have you seen those huge neon sign advertisements every meter away on city streets? Well, I come from a town in Vidarbha where we get drinking water from the Municipality every 15 days, and during summer there is 14 hours of power cut per day. Yes, a day has 24 hours. I sometimes wish that students from the cities should sometimes be taken to visit such towns instead of making them recite the types and sources and all the crap about precious resources. I am sure those students know about such living conditions, but if they saw this with their own eyes, and lived through it for a day or two, it will be a lesson well learnt.

There is just so much more that I can add to this list. There are just so many things I wish to change about the way things are taught in India, especially at the school level. Someday, I believe I will.