Sunday, December 14, 2008

destined for greatness ...

He had one final look at his work.

The ending was perfect. The beginning was perfect. Yes. The pace slackened a bit in middle, but it was acceptable. A handful of people may not like it. He couldn't please all. But he was sure that he would please most of the people, the ones who mattered. Above all, the work would impress him. He had surpassed his own expectations. He had read the final draft for the 27th time by now. It was perfect.

Next day he would contact the publishers. He was sure that nobody would refuse. They would lap up his work and offer him some handsome sum of money. Probably much more than any of the first time writers could ever dream of, at an age of 29. That would bring it all - name, fame, recognition, money ... everything!

He was destined for greatness, as a part of the title suggested. Maybe in a year ... or two years at max, the world will recognize his greatness. Maybe, that would be fitting reply to the world which had branded him as a insecure, reclusive, whimsical, insensitive, abnormal and an anti-social being. The same world which did not give him due recognition when he excelled in his work, which refused to give him a chance to explain why he did not get along well with few people whom he was supposed to get along, the society which dismissed his writing as an aberration to the societal norms ...

Suddenly, the door bell rang.

"What the hell! I have been waiting for you since last two hours. Where the hell is your cellphone. It was saying it is switched off. Why did you switch it off? You were supposed to meet me at the Mall two hours ago. Now don't say that you forgot. This is not the first time you are doing it? You did it last time too. And a many times before that also. I am now damn sure that you don't love me. You are so cold and indifferent to me. I have been as if dumped upon you I feel by this society and its norms. Else you wouldn't treat me like fuckin' dirt. Time and time again you have given me a feeling that I am dirt but I am not going to take it any more ... "

"I don't want to hear any explanations from you. I have given you many chances. You have lost your chance to explain. Now it is the time for me to act. And ..."

There was more to say, but she stopped

Saying this his fiancée slammed the door that created noise of a canon being fired, and left that place.

He was left with a mixture of emotions - sadness of she having left him, guilt of being responsible for all these and happiness of being a free bird once again.

He picked up the manuscript lying somewhere around, picked up his phone and called the first among the many publishers he wanted to contact. While the phone on the other side was ringing endlessly, he glanced at the last line of his 'masterpiece' - Destined for greatness but struggling with basics.

He smiled and disconnected the line. Maybe, he will polish his script a bit and then make a call.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

"Hazaaron khwaishein aisi ki har khwaish pe dam nikle.
Bahut nikle mere armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikle"

Though I am not a big fan of sher - o shayari, nor do I boast of being even slightly knowledgeable in this department but this one by Ghalib is a gem. The depth of it, and the truth in it say so much about about human existence and probably this truth escapes none in this universe, for everyone - no matter how significant or inconsequential his or her existence be in this myriad universe, be it an undernourished beggar on streets of Sub-Saharan Africa or the president of United States. They have their own small and big triumphs and failures - a million aspirations, few fulfilled and few not.

"Hazaaron khwaishein aisi" is also one of those 'awesome' kind of offbeat movies to have blessed Indian cinema few years ago. The backdrop of the movie is Indian political landscape of the 70s, but it is essentially about human aspirations - their successes and failures, thir yardsticks of success and failures and those unfulfilled wishes despite success. Of course, it has been excellently executed and showcased by Sudhir Mishra, Shiney Ahuja, Chitrangada Singh, Kay Kay Menon etc. to leave a lasting impression on the cine-goers.

In case you haven't seen this movie, watch it. It is awesome, in case you happen to like those kind of movies!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The God Delusion

Just finished reading 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins, a book I wished to read since quite some time.

A good read for those who wish to list arguments about non-existence of god or any such superpower. One of the reasons I liked it was that the ideas and views presented in it were quite similar to the ones I hold (although they were presented more in depth and much more articulately than I could have ever dreamt of myself) about god, omnipotence of god, religion, morality etc.

A recommended read for those who wish to read arguments for atheism and for religious people or believers who wish to know 'the other side', although I don't think it convincing enough to convert a priest into an atheist!

Meanwhile, I am planning to start reading 'Fooled by Randomness' by Nicholas Taleb soon!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book-ed ... yet again

Just finished Shantaram after around 8 week of non continuous reading.

Awesome stuff.

I am tempted to write a review, but am too lazy as of now to do so. But I am now completely fida over the book.

Now 'The God Delusion' and 'Fooled by Randomness' in queue. Heard a lot about them. Hoping they turn out to be good !!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama mania

Now that the whole world is going gaga over Barack Obama being elected as the next US President, and that too with an overwhelming majority here goes few points of my analysis of his victory and related things!

I think that the reasons of his victory were much more than just what their repective views on different social, economic and international issues were. They did play a role, but I think that wasn't the only factor that led him to victory. I think the two major factors were -

1. General dissatisfaction with George Bush on issues ranging from Iraq to Economy. This was bound to have some disatisfaction with the Republican candidate and thus swing in favor of the Democrat whoever the candidate have had been.

2. Most important factor contributing to his victory was quite symbolic. His victory symbolized hope; hope for the many people who struggle against the odds, and the victory of this hope which Obama symbolized. Seeing the meteoric rise of an Afro American and he occupying the most powerful chair in the world would give hope to many across the world that if he can do it, then why can't we rise against all odds.

In some way or other people connected with this 'hope' and wished that Obama won.

And to Obama being hailed as visionary and all that, I think it is more because of the color, upbringing, oratory skills and charisma he possessed than anything else. I doubt if many people hailing him as a visionary and all would know his views on different policy matter and how were they better than McCain's.

He might well turn out to be a visionary, but still I think it is too early to say so!

___

On a different note, reaction of John McCain on losing (Pledging support to Obama etc.) was a stark contrast to what many of the great Indian politicians do when they lose! (though there have been few exceptions)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"On a break"

As mentioned in my previous post, of late I haven't been able to gather sufficient motivation or energy to make posts on this blog. Hence I am going on a self imposed exile from the blogosphere for some time. In other words I am "On a Break"

This some time may last for few hours, few days or maybe few months. It depends upon when one fine day I gather sufficient motivation to type what is there inside my head and post things on the blog!!!

Hoping to get alive soon on this blog!

__

"Life is an infinite, non-converging exponential series of random irreversible screw ups of ever increasing magnitudes one after another"

Monday, September 29, 2008

... and one more blog post

Of late I have noticed few things about my blogging habits -

I often pick up my laptop, beginning to type a blog post or anything ... I start and then I decide to discontinue as I don't manage to gather sufficient motivation or inspiration or just even sufficient energy to overcome my laziness to complete that post.

Often I have ideas in mind but by the time I sit in front of my lappy, the idea fizzles out or gets relegated to a low priority corner, and that idea never gets materialized.

When my lappy goes kaput, as it did today and as it did on my birthday eve some 40 days ago and I somehow got it repaired at some local hardware shacks at Sikar and Jhunjhunu, I crib about being denied opportunities to log on to blogosphere.

In general, I somehow or the other let many a thoughts die a silent death within the confines of that volatile thing safely enconsed within the confines of my cranium. Maybe, some motivation is needed ... Somebody, please bring some carrots!!!

Well, this post is just out of desperation. A desperation to meet my target I have set for myself - minimum three blog posts a month and my September records show only 2 posts till now. So this is a kind of last minute post to meet my targets.

Damn! This sales thing is getting into my head!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

An Area of Darkness ? - Part 2

This time just a few random images.

And yes ... It gets much darker than this !!!



A typical scene inside a dilapidated Roadways bus running on a mixture of OK and horrible roads


20-25 people in/on the jeeps are not uncommon in this part of the world.




A scene inside a city, creating a big stink on account of old and damaged goods, ready to b picked by a rag picker

Getting into a bus is a fight, getting a seat a privilege!

Another overcrowded bus


Aspirations?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

An area of darkness ?

The title of this post finds its origins in a novel with simlar name written by VS Naipaul. Set in India, some 40 years ago or so, this is a kind of travelogue of author's brief stay in India where he found it to be full of superstitions, ignorance and darkness!

Many decades and many MNCs and malls later, few parts of India seemed to have chucked off that tag, but there are many places that haven't and continue to remain shrouded in ignorance. Move few hours away from a city, travel in a second class train compartment or a dilapidated state transport bus and you get to see the dark underbelly of India Shining. As one of the characters in the movie Rang De Basanti says "Yahan zinda rehne ki jung mein logo ki zindagiyan nikal jaati hai". So true it seems!

My day today was spent being kind of lost in similar thoughts.

To start with, I when I boarded the ST bus, a woman was wailing. She may be in her 20s or something, but she was crying in some peculiar musical tone. At the same time she blocked the passage in the bus for 2-3 minutes as a result of which I was stranded at the gate, while she probably was bidding tearful adieu to (probably) her family members, but I still don't know the reasons of her wailing.

Many of the women travelling in the buses have their face fully covered with a purdah, and anyone even in early twenties (and in many cases, even a shade younger) usually had one or two small small kids accompanying her. In fact at few places I had been warned that in case you offered a seat to some lady in a bus, it would be her husband who would take that seat and that lady would be seated on the floor (in case seat is not available), although this was peculiar only to Barmer district and havent checked the veracity of it, but I think it is true!

Today, as I got seated in my bus, an old man sat beside me. He asked me to read out what was written on his ticket. He was actually checking the total amount in the ticket to Rohtak (Harayana), and then inquired whether the remaining Rs 28 he had with him was sufficient for him to reach Delhi from Rohtak. I was not sure, though I suggested him to catch a train from Rohtak, as the amount he had with him might just be enough for him to reach Old Delhi.

Meanwhile, the bus conductor asked me for my pen as his was not working. He returned it when my place came, but the whole thing was as if he was doing a favour by returning it to me, and also while taking it from me. Not please or thank you or equivalent words were involved. At the same time, there was some old looking middle aged man who was smoking a bidi one after another (As it is case with most of the buses. Few times I have stopped them, but after few times, I became indifferent altogether). At the same time there were people who were actually arguing about the fare the conductor must charge for them and asking for bulk discounts!

As I planned to step out from my bus, I accidentally stepped on toes of a middle aged lady, who shoved me, and started shouting at me - "Dekh ke nahi chal sakta" and all. I retaliated by accusing her of blocking the passage and asking whether I should look forward or below. Soon, realizing the futility of arguing I stepped out, turning a deaf ear to her.

On my return journey, a young guy of around 20 sat beside me, and was curiously looking at what I was reading (I was reading a copy of Today's newspaper). Probably, he was trying to figure out what was written in english, or maybe it was just an aspiration for him to read english.

That guy got down at next stop, and another guy, this time a kid of around 10 or 12 sat beside me, who also curiously looked on as I scribbled something on that piece of paper (which were incidentally the points fo this post).

In fact, few days ago while I was traveling in a bus, it was raining cats and dogs that evening. This was accompanied by lightning, which scared the hell out of people. I was busy with my cell phone accessing my e-mails. Meanwhile, the conductor who was sitting in a nearby seat asked me to switch off the cell phone as it might catch lightning and may result in me getting 'current'. I dismissed his suggestion. Few minutes later he told this to me one again. This was followed by same request from another passenger of that relatively empty bus. I just told them that it wasn't an issue and what they were telling was not true. I wanted to add that I was an engineer and knew at least this much, but I didn't. (In fact I wanted to tell him that he should be scared of electricity ... he was a conductor!)

These were few of the many bits and pieces incidents that somehow made me realize that all that hoopla over India being a superpower or India Shining is just the surface. There was a lot more chunk below, most of them not that glittering or shining and engulfed in darkness, whose only aim in life remains survival.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All for a Car

"Boss, I want a car"
"What?
"Yes. I want a car"

The boss thought for a moment. Ravi was asking for a car. Maybe he needed one. He could give him one for an hour or so.

The boss was the owner of the agency, which dealt in dealing with distribution of FMCG products of a big company and was a person who had a soft corner for his employees, something which is rare in such type of work.

Ravi was a small time computer operator earning Rs 5000 a month at the agency. The job involved sitting in front of a computer in an air conditioned room and punching orders and preparing the bills on the company software.

But the demand for a car was a bit shocking. No employee ever asked him for a car.

"Why do you need a car?"
"Boss. I am getting married"
"Good. Congratulations"
"Thank you boss."
"So do you ..."
"Sir, I have told my to be father in law that I earn 35000 a month and have my own car. I'll be engaged soon. He will be visiting me tomorrow"
"What ... you told lies. I could have given you my car for an hour or two, but now ..."
"Sir, I don't want it for an hour or two. Please get me a car"
"think about it ... Can you afford it?"
"Sir, you can take loan in your name and deduct money from my salary."
"Again I say ... Can you afford it?"
"But you can deduct ... Also I will also get a substantial money from my father in law in dowry ... So I can afford"
"NO way. You have gone crazy"
"You are not giving me a car"
"No."
"OK. I am quitting"

With this Ravi quit his job, with nowhere to go and unsure of how he will meet his next month's expenses, leave alone a car ... and also worrying about how he will face his to-be-fiancée's father who would be checking if the car is in his name!

(Based upon a true story at one of the FMCG distributor's place @ Jodhpur)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The man who didn't want his son to join IIT

He glanced at me with a kind of devilish look and an evil smile. His looks reminded me of someone. I couldn't recollect. After few minutes it was a kind of eureka moment when I thought - Doesn't he look like that famous villain in Hindi movies ?

After initial formalities we headed for the market to sell all the usual stuff my company produced. This was a routine job, at least during my training period. Few hours in the market in a relatively humid day at a small town in Rajasthan called Pali left us tired. It was the time to unwind with some tea and non-business gupshup.

During the course of discussion, I came to know that his son (Let us call him Akash) got some 93 percent marks in SSC in CBSE board. He wanted to go to IIT and for that he needed to go to Kota for preparations. But that man was not keen on him leaving the town. He was of the opinion that he would not come back to Pali as he would have to go to Bangalore for job as most of them did. Hence he had decided his son should do CA. But his son had taken science.

Meanwhile, the local Sales Officer, under whom I was getting trained came in. After usual stuff like market report we decided to take a 15 minute beer break and have a brief chit chat meanwhile. Invariably, the topic veered around the distributor and his son. I learned that Akash's mother had called him few times so that his dad could be convinced that he goes and prepared for IIT, but he was reluctant. In fact Akash was so brilliant that he had secured first rank in Rajasthan for admission to Bansal Coaching Classes at Kota. But his dad had not allowed him to go. Even repeated calls from the institute did not help. Later on his mother's attempt at trying to convince were greeted by threats of a talaaq. His neighbors tried to convince him but in vain. his brother tried to convince him but soon they both stopped talking. At back of his mind was that his brother in law had gone to USA and if Akash does so, he too will go away sooner or later. Hence he had decided that he would not let Akash go away.

Meanwhile, we returned back to the shop where his son had also come. Apparently he wanted to buy a lab coat for chemistry practicals that were needed for tomorrows classes. His father refused and gave him some other work. He went to do that, reluctantly and his suffocation was written all over the face.

The officer accompanying me started talking about general stuff and the conversation veered to career guidance kind of stuff. Being an engineer and an MBA, I was trying to give him some gyaan on opportunities available closer home. I mentioned about job opportunities in Delhi and Mumbai which were an overnight journey from that place and much closer if we considered the Jodhpur airport which wasn't too far away. Closer home, it would have been Jaipur or Ahmedabad, which were expected to give good opportunities, although deep inside me I was feeling that that useless idiot cannot think of his own child's well being. This was followed by a long monologue on software industry, what it does, how it will grow, why it is not just Bangalore and all. When it was not yielding any result I showed optimism in software industry setting footprints in Rajasthan as government will sooner or later realize the importance of it. So maybe two or three years down the line we could expect something in this direction.

But that man remained adamant and refused to budge from his position. Even an attempt to show that there was hardly any scope in some godforsaken place like Pali was met with jeers

I was thinking that isn't it often that the so called extremely selfless thing like parenting becomes a selfish thing and despite having good intentions, often much harm is done. At one level that man, I thought treated the whole thing as a business and something that should give an high ROI. He was instrumental. Expecting is not a bad thing, but often that expectation turns into a favor which need to be returned, and as a result of which the happiness of the person may be screwed, and he often becomes just a slave of that 'gratitude'. I thing that the whole thing is like the movie The Truman Show, where the creator of the 'Show' believed that he gave Truman who an unwanted baby, a life and he had a right to shoot a 24 hour long TV show on his life, with his unaware of the fact that every motion of him was captured on camera and telecast live throughout the world. And this, the creator believed was nothing against individual freedom or human rights or anything.

Meanwhile, it was getting late and it was time to catch my bus. I left after a good bye and a handshake, but his devilish glance was as it was few hours ago, but now I perceived to be much more devilish.

___

(Above is a true incident that I experienced today)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Booked

"Whenever I read a good book, I get impressed with my ignorance"

I couldn't find the source of this quote, but I heard it in class 12, wherein my physics tuition teacher Mr. Vishal Pandya (Who was a kind of database in quotes!) once had this one in one of his notes, which invariably started with few quotes

Of late, I have realized a very high degree of correlation between Jhandta Index (Henceforth referred to as J) existing in life and book I am reading if any. If I am reading some book at some point of time, J reduces significantly (Say, to a vlue J/2, average case) ; and if the book is significantly good then it reduces to a very low level (Say, J/4).

I have realized that in last 4 weeks (this includes the next week also), I have read 5 extremely different works, quite a rare feat in terms of quantity and diversity of books read!

The most recent book I have read is some book by some IIMB guy about some fictional experience during life @ IIMB, which had everything in it - sutta, daaru, kudi etc. and all such stuff in 'meeee too' kind of books. (This one had Marijuana as the principal ingredient though) In fact, having read works like Joker in the Pack and Mediocre but Arrogant which seemed half hearted attempt at cloning Five Point Someone and Snapshots from the Hell, I did the same mistake again and brought this marijuana loaded book, Keep Off the Grass, and after reading which I wanted to slap myself for having brought that book.

Still reading it was better than reading nothing at all. Maybe, it will help me know, what not to write, in case I decide to write a book couple of centuries down the line.

Before that I read 'How Starbucks saved my life' which was a decent book about a top notch ad guy being fired from a job and lands working for Starbucks, a job he deemed menial as per his standards. Before that, it was The Under Cover Economist which was again a good book in case freakonomics style economics interests you. Before that it was Khaled Hosseni's A thousand Splendid Suns, which was again a good book, but I didn't find it awesome or anything.

After the marijuana and all stuff I picked up 'The Greatest Works of Khalil Gibran' - 12 in 1 omnibus edition (each of the book is quite small and I guess it would take 2-3 hours per book on an average), which I am currently reading(since last 24 hours!). I have read three of them, and they are simply AWESOME ... Or as Barney would put it - Legend ... (wait for it) ... Dary. I plan to finish them in next few weeks.

In fact, I must confess that it would require a re-reading to explore the depths!

In case philosophical works (having a completely mystic feel) interests you, then go for it without giving a second thought. I believe that there are two possibilities - Either you will love this book (most will fall in this category), or you will dislike it completely. Remaining 0.1 percent people may find it average or be non judgmental about his works.

Weird it may sound, but if I were to compare his works with some recent song it would be 'Khwaja Mere Khwaja' from Jodha Akbar. There is some kind of enigma in both of them. In fact like this particular song, I may not be able to compare works of Khalil Gibran with other works. It is different, in league of its own!

Maybe, I would post more on Khalil Gibran later, after I am through with all of them (providing I overcome the laziness barrier!)

Till then, happy reading!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Random Birthday thoughts

As I would have cribbed @ 1000000000 words per day, I am currently at a place called Jhunjhunu where I have no social life to speak of, internet is the only thing that keeps me going, apart from few random movies or episodes of Seinfeld. So prospects of celebrating birthday in this solitary confinement are not that exciting!

Too add to that, as I switched on my laptop yesterday night, I realized that it had conked off and is showing fan error as the reason. For me this was the end of world. And I knew not how would I survive! I hoped the issue will get sorted out in a week but it is too much to ask in this small town and this time period seemed to be an extremely optimistic guess. My birthday eve and early morning were spent on developing strategies on how to get it repaired. I couldn't find any IBM authorized dealer here, and I would have needed to send it to Delhi.

There were two options - first was about sending it as a parcel to one of my friends at IBM , either directly or indirectly through my brother, who lives at NCR. Then I could have made a visit to Delhi on the one day weekend I get, so that I could be back after collecting my laptop. The other was going to Delhi this weekend, giving the laptop for repair and collecting it the next weekend.

Maybe I could incentivize the channel members with a cheese burst pizza at Domino's.

These were few of the many thoughts running in my mind throughout the night. Other was strategizing about ho to pass time fo next few days. Maybe, a 2 hour session at internet cafe followed by random TV channel hopping, and maybe a few novels which I had sufficient stock to last for 7 non-internet days. In fact I spent a fraction of 12-1 AM in thanking my friends for birthday wishes and rest in cribbing about my lappy!

Today morning I went to a local computer shop, the only one that was open in that area at 10 AM, without expecting anything. After an initial rejection and a phone call later, he opened the laptop as if he was about to perform a complex brain surgery, took a vacuum cleaner and blew the dust off it. The fan was now in working condition, and the laptop too!

The day was spent in selling hair oils, toothpastes, shampoos, hajmola, toilet cleaners, and evening is being spent in front of laptop and TV, and of course my cell phone!

__________

Among one of the instructions I got from home was to visit the world famous Rani Sati Temple in this region!

I disobeyed.

Though I do many things against my will, this was unthinkable. How can I visit some place that actually glorifies that lady who supports this mindless evil custom. In fact I hate the fact that there is a temple dedicated to Rani Sati.

But then, my hating it or not does not make any difference to how the world functions!
__________

I have completed the silver jubilee of my existence ... and soon I'll be 30, then forty ... fifty ... sixty ... Damn! I am becoming an old man. I have invested a lot of this time in whiling away in all kinds of useless activities, all those activities which yield an abysmal ROI.

Time is flying away fast, real fast.

__________

In fact, I am constantly getting reminded of an episode from 'Friends', where they all turned thirty. They were sad, and crying!

But then, they say that life begins at 40. So there are still 15 years to go before my life begins!

__________

In this era of remakes, I am repeating something which I did last year on my birthday

For all those birthday wishes, I just want to say -->

T HANKS

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My dear laptop :(

This is an extremely sad post.
In my previous post I mentioned being passionate about staying well connected. As I am currently at a place called Jhunjhunu where I have no social life to speak of, internet is the only thing that keeps me going, apart from few random movies or episodes of Seinfeld.
And recently, as I switched on my laptop I realized that it has conked off and is showing fan error as the reason. For me this is the end of world. And I know not how will I survive :( ... I hope the issue will get sorted out in a week but it is too much to ask in this small town and this time period seems to be an extremely optimistic guess:(

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

8 Things ...

Tagged by Sheetal

Here goes my various '8 things list'

8 Things I’m passionate about:

1. Movies [Watching, analyzing, related trivia, boring people with all useless related gyaan, movie trailers etc.]
2. Reading [Newspapers (especially editorials), fiction, nonfiction etc.]
3. Religion [Rather lack of it]
4. Food [I proudly proclaim that I live to eat]
5. Freedom
6. Bakar [ This includes cracking PJs]
7. Geography [as a child I used to read and analyze maps. I can still boast about being ‘awesome’ in this. In fact, some people have been surprised by the fact that I know lot about the places which might otherwise be relatively unheard of outside the region]
8. Staying connected [Includes chatting, blogging, random time pass on internet etc. I now access internet even while travelling in a bus, through my cellphone, something unthinkable few years ago!]



8 Things I want to do before I die:

1. Travel extensively across the world.
2. Write 2 books – 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction at least!
3. Keep unshaven looks for a long time … maybe for a year or so!
4. Maintain good health and be in a good shape[hopefully without having to work hard on it and without compromising on eating]
5. Spend 12 hours post evening at a beach, with a long walk the talk session … of course after couple of beers.
6. Be an expert in economics [as of now, even the basic IS-LM model scares the hell out of me]
7. Appear in front page of a newspaper [for all right reasons, of course]
8. As Bryan Adams would put it – ‘Be 18 till I die’ !!!

8 Things I say often:

1. F**k
2. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh, oofffffffffff ... and other random noises
3. Basically,
4. Pel raha hai be …
5. Sahi hai
6. Hmmmm
7. Nahi yaar
8. Dekhte hain


8 Books I last read:

1. A thousand splendid suns [Khaled Hosseni]
2. The undercover economist [Tim Harfield]
3. 3 mistakes of my life [Chetan Bhagat]
4. The kite runner [Khaled Hosseni]
5. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest [Ken Kessey]
6. The tipping point [Malcom Gladwell]
[I do not remember what I read before The Tipping Point ]


8 songs I could listen to over and over again:

1. Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya [Hum Dono]
2. Abhi na jaao chhod kar [Hum Dono]
3. Chand mera dil [Hum kisi se kam nahi]
4. Deewana hua Baadal [Kashmir ki Kali]
5. Badi naazuk hai ye manzil [Jogger’s Park]
6. Dekha ek khwab [Silsila]
7. Badi suni suni hai [Mili]
8. O Sanam [Lucky Ali]

I am sure that the next time the list would be at least half-different

8 bloggers who should do this tag:


Anyone one and everyone who reads this blog can …

Everyone’s invited. More so if your blog name has an alphabet ‘A’

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Shekhawati Diaries - Part 1

Since last few days I have been cribbing endlessly about being dumped as at a place called Jhunjhunu in northern part of Rajasthan, and subjected to the roughs of market for selling soaps, hair oils to tooth pastes and candies to toilet cleaners . It is one of the backward part of the state (and the state is considered to be one of the backward in India, a part of the un-famed BIMARU states - BIhar, MP, Rajasthan, UP). In fact this region is famous for its palatial havelis. But the foundations of all these havelis lie in the feudal system, which was quite dominant in this part of the country.

However, there is something about this part of the country.

Jhunjhunu, along with Sikar and Churu districts form a part of Shekhawati region. This has been the home of many leading business groups in India. Mr. GD birla was born in a town called Pilani, which is now famous for BITS, one of the finest engineering colleges in India. Ram Prasad Goenka belonged to this region. Biyanis can trace their roots here. Mr. LN Mittal basically hails from a town in Churu district. These are few of the many who have made a mark.

Today I went to a small town of population in range of 30 to 40 thousand, called Shadolpur (also named as Rajgarh). The distributor in that town told me that it is the birth place of LN Mittal. He then added that till age of 5 he stayed there and then moved to kolkata. They both were of same age and were neighbors. In fact, he mentioned that if we go few generation back, then they belong to the same family. Back then LNM's father was quite poor and the distributor's father used to kind of avoid him as he feared that he would ask for some money

... And now, the times are completely different.

Few days ago, I was at a distributor's place at Sikar. He had a surname 'Biyani'. Out of curiosity I asked him whether he was related to Kishore Biyani. He said he isn't exactly, but narrated something about him. He was studying for CA at Mumbai and staying with his uncle there who used to supply material to Kishore Biyani (when Pantaloon's was quite a small thing ... I think around 10 - 15 years ago). He used to buy in huge quantity. But, back then it was said that if you supply to Kishore Biyani then you would have to buy a new pair of shoes.

Reason - He used to ask people make lots of rounds for collecting payments ... Most of the time youu had to hear the replies like "sahab nahi hain", "Kal aana" etc. (Suddenly words like 'working capital', 'cash flows' popped up in my mind)

Still, despite the land being home to who's who of corporate world, the development in this region has left a lot to be desired.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bakwas band kar

This is not a message to anyone out there, tough i am often tempted to say this to many people and often to myself. This is one of the fillers in 9x music channels which has found its own niche. Like few other friends of mine who have privilage of watching a television in recent times and have appreciated the show, I too am finding it quite addictive.

The characters Chote, who cracks many a PJs and Bade who bears the brunt of most of them form a hillarious duo.

For a person like me, who loves cracking PJs, this is an extremely refreshing watch after a tiring or a untiring day.

While writing all these I am secretly wishing that I get ao opportunity to become a scriptwriter for that show .Maybe, once they realize that they have reached a certain benchmark in terms of quality, they would need somebody to bring it down ...

PS - I am writing all this from my cellphone while travelling in a local ST bus early in the morning :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hacked !

And, then after a long walking and running session, he stopped and was in a 'statue' position,

Then he walked for few steps.

He stopped once again, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. It didn't!

Then again he walked for 7 steps.

A right turn.

Then he sat down on the pavement overlooking the railway track. The area was shrouded by complete silence. The silence at this time was usually broken train which passed that spot at midnight, but it was still a good fifteen minutes away.

A moment of sitting silently on footpath was followed by a prolonged five minutes of singing and dancing which no one would have made sense of. He was as if possessed by some spirit or ghost, thought a drunk passerby. And for this, there was no cure.

But suddenly he stopped dancing. He had regained consciousness. He wondered where was he? Last he remembered was walking out of his house for the party. That was a good three hours ago. But how had he reached there? Maybe he had walked the whole of Indiranagar, MG Road and reached near the Cantonment Railway Station. 10 km in 3 hours! That was great. But the timing wasn't. And how he reached there was still a mystery.

At the other end of the city the evil scientist, who called himself Dr. G (G for Genius, G for God, as he loved saying!) was happily drunk, and the last traces of his consciousness was by now, gone. He forgot all about his latest technique through which he could hack people's brain and control it. It was a success just few minutes ago, and this was one of the reasons he was elated, and drunk. Maybe, his dream of ruling the planet would come true.

Dr. G was now completely oblivious of the surrounding, as the chants of 'Happy New Year 2064' were audible all over.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Free

Warning - My attempt at so called poetry (written few years ago).
Read at your own risk !!
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He who has no worries
No desires
One who unceasingly lives
And accepts whatever life gives


Freedom to be
Power to choose
Freedom to know
Freedom to grow

No manacles
No bondages
None of hatred
Free from all
In the life sacred

In all things
His voice having a say
Throughout life
Living is the way

Can I be he ?
For I was born free.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Latesht in Indian Politics - A quick analysis

A quick opinion/ analysis on different architects of last few days in Indian politics --

Manmonhan Singh (INC)

Finally ... he asserted that he is the boss! To me he seemed like Michael Corleone, who at the end of 'The Godfather' emerges out of shadow of Vito Corleone.

Maybe, reforms will get a boost now.

Favourite song - ... sauda khar khara (Punjabi Song - Sukhbir)
Favourite Movie - Singh Is Kinng ( No prizes for guessing it right)

LK Advani (BJP)
Opposing everthing just for the heck of opposing it. Maybe, he is toooooo eager to become PM

Favourite song - "Tumne fenka jaal, Ulti pad gayee chal ..." (Line from - Aana mere pyaar ko ... , Kabhi haan kabhi naa" -- Who will say these lines to whom, is yet to be determined though!
Favourite Movies - Jhonny Gaddar

Prakash Karat (CPI-M)
The blow he got was 59 karat pure ... and probably made in China!

Favourite song - Pardesiyon se na akhiya milana (China is not Pardes, I assume!)
Favourite Movie - China Town

Somnath Chaterjee (ex CPI-M)
"Somnath Chatterjee has been expelled from his party. So, what’s new or surprising? Recall that when boys play gully cricket the umpire is always from the batting team and he has one whip issued to him - never give his team mates out through lbw or run out decisions! If his conscience somehow makes him act otherwise, not only will he never be the umpire but he will never be a part of the team thereafter" - DNA

Favourite song - Kya se kya ho gaya ... (guide)
Favourite Movie - Namak Haram

Mayawati (BSP)
If she becomes PM, then god save the country!
Haven't seen anyone who is as blatantly manipulative as her! She projects things as if the entire world is against her as she is a Dalit ki Beti ... She may be partly true, but her reasons aren't!

Favourite song - "Kya kahun, duniya ne kiya ... mujhse ye kaisa bair" (Line from 'Tere Liye' from Veer Zaara)
Favourite Movie - Dil Maange More (... Paisa?, Votes?, Castes ka support?)

Chandrababu Naidu (TDP)

Having converted Hyderabad to Cyberabad and having no qualms about hobnobbing with US, he has suddenly transformed and opposing the same thing he supported just for the heck of opposing it. One of the few who are with the incoherent group called Third Front with no agenda as such (apart from coming to power/ throwing people out of power types!). Not only that, he is joining hands with useless people like Karat and Mayawati.

He is one of the politicians whom I used to respect a lot ... till couple of years ago!

Favourite song - "Idhar gaya main udhar gaya ..."
Favourite Movie - Hum Kisi se Kam Nahin (Hum = Third Front?)

Amar Singh (SP)
In politics, there are no permanant friends or foes ... and he proves it. Hope he doesn't act like Left did.

Favourite song - "Paisa fenk ... tamasha dekh" (Jhonny Gaddar)
Favourite Movie - The Dark Knight

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Indian Politics in general -

It seems to have hit its nadir and blah blah blah ... all that you have been hearing since 3-4 days ... nothing new to say

Favourite Line of a song - "Pichle Saath Dino Mein maine yeh sab hai khoya. Kabhi Khud pe hasaa main aur kabhi khud pe roya" (Rock On!)
Favourite Movie - 123

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Technology Web

Sitting in the not-so-comfortable but not-too-uncomfortable seat of the Shatabadi Express heading for Jaipur, I have just turned on my laptop's & cell phone's Bluetooth, got them paired and logged on to internet to make this post (Thanks to Airtel's GPRS service!). I am doing what was unimaginable few years ago. A decade ago, Internet was mostly unheard of for most of us, and the pace at which it has grown is really maddening! Right now I don't have any clue how life would be like if one un-fine day god announces to the planet Earth that - "Your internet connection has been discontinued" !!!

Imagine how technology has changed the world we live in !

Yesterday, I managed to transfer a huge chunk of money to few another accounts (in different banks and different cities) with press of few keys. Earlier this used to be an extremely tedious process. Loads of papers exchanged, lots of follow ups and a scope for errors at every step ... all that have been eliminated (Desiring better service each time and abusing banks for their failure to keep pace with my expectations is a different story altogether!)

Imagine life without cellphones! A decade ago it used to be an unaffordable luxury. Even having landlines used to be a big thing. And now, the person you wish to speak to is just a call away!

Of course driving all these changes is the unprecedented boom in Information Technology and the way it has become a part of our daily lives. Yet, there continue to be people who are extremely wary of technology. The may have disdain for ATM cards, look at cellphone with cynical looks and look at internet as root of all evils. Usually they belong to the elder lot of people, who for most of their lives haven't been exposed to such kind of technology and such wonders may often (though a small slice of this skepticism is understandable!). Then there is another bunch of people who are in typically their teens who take technology for granted, as they have been seeing it embedded in daily lives as if it existed since Adam and Eve walked on this Earth!

Probably, it is the kind of boom we have seen and the way it is moving forward makes us crave for even more of them and our taste buds are usually insatiable. Hopefully, despite being so accustomed to technology, we don't end up becoming slaves to technology rather than vice versa as we move forward, as we risk becoming so!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A losing battle

She knew that she was fighting a losing battle, yet she persisted.

For the third time in the day she made the 30 student class to recite in unison -

"A for Apple, apple matlab sev"
"B for banana, banana matlab kela"
"C for cat, cat matlab billi"
and so on ...

The class consisted of kids whose age ranged from 3 to 10, most of them belonging to families who could not afford to send their kids to school. In fact, their meager income was augmented by that of their kids. Thanks to an effort by some NGO, the classes were running with a hope that at least 5 students from the 30 see how a college looks like, but the number was too optimistic a guess. No one from that village had ever seen a high school, leave alone a college.

She was a firm believer of - "Match is never lost till the last ball is bowled".

Being naive enough for believing this to be true, she persisted ... with a hope that she doesn't lose the battle.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Dream

He had a dream.

The old man in white beard and dressed up in a suit called up his name. Dressed up in an immaculate white shirt, navy blue trousers and a striped tie he walked on on to stage. The students were clapping. The teachers were clapping. The old man with white beard said something in English which he couldn't understand but probably said some congratulatory message. He was extremely happy. Everyone from his village had traveled to the place to see him receive a prize. He was he new hero, a new inspiration for the complete village.

By the time he came down the stage he woke up. It was already post sunrise. He had to go for work. If he failed to do so, his family would have to starve that day. He, his friends and many others who worked in the brick-manufacturing unit.

But, thanks to a brief interaction with a teacher from neighboring village, he was only kid in the village who could dream.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bluetooth woes

4 months Ago -

I turned on the Bluetooth on my cellphone to transfer some images of myself on to my laptop! But, for some unknown reason my laptop's Bluetooth wasn't working. Damn! I couldn't even transfer my pics. It seemed that it was a conspiracy to deprive me of my happiness. Somehow, I jugaadofied a data cable and managed to transfer it. But then, Bluetooth leads to a lot more convenience and pseud-pana. And for next few months at home I didn't have any source to jugaadofy the data cable.

I spent next 4 months abusing and cursing IBM Thinkpad and its useless hardware and software (whosoever would have been the culprit). I asked many people on how to cure this illness, but in vain. Probably my hardware was faulty. Or maybe it was software that was root cause of all evils happing inside my lappy. Due to lack of proper efforts the mission to find the culprit failed and was abandoned

In last few days, I managed to buy a new cellphone that has a data cable. But again data cable can't match Bluetooth. My usage also increased, thanks to GPRS connection. As a result my search for the Bluetooth solution intensified. I would like to clarify that the word 'intensified' in this context means that I was extremely desperate to get a long term solution without actually making any efforts to get the same.

And today, when I finally began my search, the solution was few minutes away. I just had to press Fn key + F5 to get it activated.

... And since 4 months I was thinking that my lappy's bluetooth has gone kaput. Little did I realize that getting it activated was just a 3.2 second job !

Alas, it is laziness that always manages to scuttle any such efforts!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Prodigy

The news of her reaching the finals of a singing competition did not come as any surprise to anybody. She was gifted with a voice which her friends in her high school were jealous of. She won all singing competitions in the school. She won all singing competitions in the locality. She had been singing since she was 3 or maybe since she was 2. Even she didn't remember since when she was singing. She just dreamt of making it big in singing, and maybe one day she would have many super hit music albums to her name. Her dream was to be the biggest singing sensation in the country. She dreamt of giving autographs to people wherever she went. In fact, she had practiced different styles and zeroed in on what autograph she would give once she was famous. As of now she had to clear the last hurdle before giving a shot to becoming a singing sensation

The Talent Hunt show was being aired at a prime time slot at a premier TV channel. It had 3 stages before the finals with participants being eliminated at each stage. The final round had 10 contestants and was supposed to be aired for four weekends. The participants were supposed to exhibit their singing talents in front of judges, who were the famous singers and music directors of the Bollywood. No historinics expected. They had to come on stage, sing and hope that judges shower truckloads of praise on them and the audience vote for them through SMS. Maybe a few lines about themselves might help voters decide upon whom to vote. After all, they needed to know about person whom they would be voting for. Apart from that few lines about the show, their expectations from the show etc would have been more than sufficient. No role of fake emotions, region to which contestant belonged, religion, caste or any other details. Just pure talent. After all, this show was different from any other talent hunt show. This was the only show that selected winners based upon talent. Other talent hunt show were nothing but sham!


The preparations consisted of rehearsing for hours together. She had to also prepare her introduction and answers to some random questions that could be posed to her. Her mother did not want her to look awkward as compared to other urbane contestants. After all, she had come so far and a win here would lead to opening of floodgates to her dreams, her destiny. The last thing she would wish would be to get eliminated even after performing well. With all the preparations, she went to the preliminaries. The preliminaries came as a big jolt to her chances. Not that she didn't perform well. But then, there were 9 others, all equally talented and all competing for that coveted spot. She would be competing for next few days with the best singers. A loss here would be a heartbreak. In the first round of the finals, one of the judge was not that forgiving as she would have liked. He kept quarreling with other judges who seemed quite impressed with her, at the end of which he just bluntly stated - "You don't have control over your pitch. With this you can expect nothing in the music industry".

That was like a heartbreak.

For the first time in the competition she risked getting eliminated. Thankfully, there were no eliminations in the last stage when there were only 10 contestants left. This show was, after all quite different from other shows. The producers wanted to disappoint nobody! Still, she ranked seventh int he first round of polls. But all was not lost. She had 3 more rounds to bounce back. But that would require her to showcase something more than singing talent. Maybe, her singing didn't connect her well with the voting audience. Somehow, that emotional connect was missing. She needed to work on this. Yes, next week she would perform much better. Her mom came up with an idea. She realized that it is often the audience who votes. Ultimately it may not be so discerning about who is slightly better than whom. Maybe, there can be some other techniques to win. What about making an emotional pitch?

Next week came and she sang well, as did the others. But this time, some other judge was unforgiving. The real talent lied in overcoming these hurdles and connecting with the audience. And she hit bang on! A bit of smile smile, followed by some crib and lots of tears proved to be a trump card. In a week her rankings jumped to third. Now the competition was extremely intense. The top two were equally adept in making emotional appeals to the audience. The penultimate round saw no change in top three ranks. Now winning was a herculean task.

Maybe, some luck on her side ... or maybe a quick analysis would help. Then came one of the eureka moment when she realized that she was the only one from that part of the country. Maybe, that vote bank would help. She could easily make emotional appeals pertaining to that region. Perhaps her parents would help her in her endeavour. The top two contestants couldn't make such appeal. Both of them were from Mumbai. They would eat into each other's votes, and in the process she would gain. She just needed to apply herself well, and leave the rest to the public, which was after all the best judge, mature enough to decide who was the best.

The trick clicked. She had won. She became the first among equals. That was her ticket to stardom. She couldn't believe this. She could see her on covers of music albums, on stage performing with the likes of AR Rahman. Her career was ready to take off. She was into the big league now

In a year's time when would have her first music album. She would record few more songs before her career would begin to fizzle out. Then, there would be a new star coming from a even more rigorous contest. But by then, someone else would have noticed her talents and she would rule the small screen as a actor, courtesy few soaps with some strange spellings and surprisingly, all starting with alphabet 'K'. After all, she had the power to move people!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wanderer

I must confess that I have a fascination for travelling. More often than not, I get excited by prospects of traveling - not just by seeing new places at the destination, but also by the journey with train journeys being my favourite. It gives me immense pleasure to see towns and cities pass by, observe people at different places, to just get a feel of places as they come and go by! As a child I used to know many trivial details about the routes I was travelling on and nearby routes and trust me, it was extremely interesting, and it keeps me interested even today!


Recently, while travelling in Delhi, I suddenly decided to take a longer route to my destination, which required to travel on metro train in all three different lines, with 2-3 stations in each line. I had no deadlines, no pressures to reach somewhere. And it was wonderful. Passing through CP, Chandini Chowk, Old Delhi - the places about which we have been hearing since childhood.

One way of looking at it can be kind of a chore. The other way is enjoying the subtleties of a seemingly boring task. at times, it seems quite surprising that there are such trivial things in this world which can fascinate us and leave us mesmerized- it can be anything ranging from sound of a river to the way the parallel railway tracks seem to meet at the horizon, but never actually meeting to things like croaking of an insect

I have a strong fascination for roaming randomly, without a particular destination in mind. There have been times when I just took out my bike and started roaming. But this has sadly, been quite limited. Maybe, I can explore few more places in near future, or just enjoy the ride without worrying about the places. One of the wishes I have (seemingly unreasonable) is to start travelling without a particular destination in mind, deciding upon destinations on impulse and just keep on exploring - not something like Forrest Gump who kept on running for 3 years, but maybe, just for few days.

I once saw in a movie - "If you want to see real India, travel in second class compartment of train, travel in buses, observe the people". Going by this parameter, I have seen a very minuscule part of India, and may see some more in next few months, but in long run I wish to explore these subtleties and differences.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Fidayeen

He read the first page of the newspaper carefully. Maybe, there was some news he could help the Anti-Terrorist Squad with. It carried the news of 14 people being killed in a suicide terrorist strike. "May allah guide them and show them the right path", he prayed silently. His memory went back few years in time, litte more than 3 years when he was handpicked to be a fidayeen in the 'holy battle' as the chief called it.


He had recieved 8 months of intensive training. He knew how to operate the most complex of weapons. That was after he was picked from an elementary school and groomed for years together. But such training was essential. After all, the job he was destined to do was not ordinary. He was supposed to be a suicide bomber in an important rally of a prominant national leader. He had to send the message loud and clear to the top bosses in the country. He was one of the most trusted ones of the chief, who was in charge of overseeing all the activities in the region.

The bomb had been perfectly planted. It was planted a day in advance when people would have been unsuspecting. The trigger was a cell phone. Just a press of the dial button on the phone would do the job. The expected impact was in the 50 meter radius. That would mean 100-150 people would be killed including the leader. Maybe, the top bosses in th country would hear then. If not, the chief would have something bigger in store, though he may not be there to see it happen. But he, as a soldier in the battle was more than elated on being a shaheed.

He did the last Namaz of his life, as the chief had instructed him. He reached the rally well in time to assess the situation for half an hour before pressing the 'dial' key from his cellphone. The time approached. But he was calm. He was giving qurbaani after all. The thought of hundereds of innocents being killed did not come to his mind. He had been sufficiently brainwashed by the local Mullah and the chief. He was mentally prepared for the immense responsibility, and to get the great honour he deserved. He intended to hear the sound of the blast. The last time he would ever hear before becoming a fidayeen.

The countdown began -

3


2


1


He headed to press that green button on the cell phone when for some unexplained reason the mobile switched off. The mission had failed. Little did he realize that he had forgotten to charge his cell phone and the battery had gone off. He thought it was Allah's way of telling him that he was wrong, his patch was wrong, things taught to him were wrong, and the mullah who led him to believe the path what people called terrorism was wrong. It was evil. A sin. Then he walked away from the place before the chief could reach him, and went to an unknown place to live a completely new life, a life of anonymity but honorable in his own eyes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gunda


Recently during a random TV channel browsing session I came across a show in NDTV dedicated to movie GUNDA, a B-Grade masterpiece which has gained a stature of gigantic proportions.Many of us might not haver heard of the movie, but of the rest I assume most of them might have seen the movie, and a substantial proportion would have enjoyed it!! It is a kind of movie that fits into the definition of a cult classic!!


The Orkut community of the IMDB 8.7/10 rated Gunda has thousands of fans, most of them can be classified under category of 'die-hard fans'. This movie has got a huge viewer base in engineering collecges and B-schools, and there are people whio consider your life as futile and worthless if you haven't seen this epic masterpiece.
And there are considerable chances that the movie might make to the list of 50 all time greats, if there are enough votes keeping its ratings at the same level!!


This Kanti Shah directed movie has the one and only Mithunda (fondly called as Prabhuji) in its lead role, (which can be called role of a lifetime) who plays a robinhood-type revenge seeking coolie in some airport/ shipyard/ random roads, and takes on the evil goons who are menace to society, who have murdered his father, who don't allow people to live peacefully.
The scenes in the movie include random murders and rapes on random roads, airports, dockyards each underscored by some poetic verses, exactly in same poetic manner in which the charaters introduce themselves. But the element of film making that rules the roost are the dialogues which are out of the world. Just check the Gunda fan club on Orkut to have a look. It is a blashphemy to post them on lesser things like blogs.
There is Bulla, there is Ibu Hatela, Potey and many other characters with names which can be described in range of adjectives from crazy to unmentionable!

There are some movies which are so bad that you enjoy it, and in that genre Gunda undoubtedly takes the cake.
Hats off to Kanti shah and Mithunda combo !
____

Saturday, June 14, 2008

ConneXions unlimited

PJ -> Why is telecom industry booming in India ?
Reason--> People here love to have and flaunt connections

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"Jugaad is the 57th art" - SS Shinde at his satirical best

"Disgusting! This is the only thing I hate about our country... greased palms shaking hands with lack of integrity" - A comment on one of the posts in my blog https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28026042&postID=4721678402376407155

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Connections - Many of us around the world love to flaunt it. Most of us wouldn't mind using it. We Indians love to flaunt it and often consider it as a essential tool to accomplish tasks of varying magnitude. Many of us work in day in and day out in order to earn connections. 'Networking' - a tool often used in achieving something is a milder form of connection, for the latter is the holy grail that makes you do with impunity what the lesser mortals think is sinful.

There are often sons and daughers of powerful officials, bhais and bhateejas of a powerful minister, friends of sons of sister's uncle-in law of supporters of the high and mighty. chamchas of local MLAs and proteges of a small time goon. Thos who are not, often they yearn for some, for that extra speed to be on the expressway to success!

... And having recently landed at Delhi and having just a casual glance is giving me insights on one of the major pillars for support and success in the unforgiving and the fastpaced world where you need to create an ilusion of success to survive - Have your connections right!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Snaps from The Himalayas

Some glimpses of one of the best landscapes in the country. Why long for Alps when our own old, enigmatic yet beautiful Himalayas provide such magnificent and picturesque sceneries!!

Have a look.

Enjoy.

Location - Garhwal Region, Himalayas which lie in the state of Uttrakhand.




















Sunday, June 01, 2008

The winning shot

3 runs required of 1 ball, the scorecard said.

It was the final of a small cricket tournament in the locality. Lots were at stake for 14 year old Sonu, as he was popularly called. His performance in the tournament could be best described as mediocre. He had never been above average in studies, extra curricular activities and even sports. No one ever praised him for he hardly did anything praiseworthy. Not even little encouragement came his way. He always wondered what was his fault. After all, he was not that bad either. But that was the way it always was.

He never desired much. But like all, he wished to be admired, praised, be like others who were so much liked. Today was the day to prove his worth; to make the world sit and take notice of him. One good hit over the boundary rope and he would be a instant hero. A hero in eyes of his friends, teachers, all uncles and aunts and most importantly his parents, who were somehow never satisfied with his performance.

The bowler came all charged charged up as if he would uproot al the three stumps. Sonu had prayers in his lips. A bit of nervousness creeped in. The same kind of nervousness which caused the earlier batsman to panic and lose his wicket. But, if he lost cool this time then it would be all over. This was his only chance. But what would happen next? Maybe he would miss the ball and it would go crashing into the stumps. Maybe he would faint before the bowler has bowled. He was surrounded by all kinds of emotions ranging from excitement to nervousness to fear of the worst kind.

The ball his his bat and he slogged it using full might he could. The ball hit the edge and flew high up in the sky. Maybe it would sail safely across the third man and cross the boundary rope. Naah! It wasn't going that far. Maybe it would fall inside. Damn! There was a fielder moving towards it. Maybe he would be out ... Caught. Sonu could see the ball landing into hands of Ravi. He wouldn't drop the catch. They were arch rivals. And Ravi was the best fielder in the town. Meanwhile, he started running for the second run. And without seeing where the ball has landed, he would run for the third run.

The ball landed into Ravi's hands ... and came out of it. He had dropped the catch. It was a tough chance as there was a lot of running to do. But as they say, fortune favors the brave! With some luck on his side, Sonu had won the match. His teammates carried him on their shoulders. He completed the victory lap on their shoulders. It was a moment of great glory. It seemed to be the best day of his life. Maybe, it would be a new beginning for him. Maybe it would silence all his critics for few days, or few weeks or even ... forever.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Detour

The 7 year old girl walked from school to her home. This was the first time she was walking alone on that route. On any other day, her mother would have gone to pick her up from school, but not that day. She was not aware that schools were declaring holiday an hour and a half earlier due to trouble in the town owing to some agitations and protests. Only few parents could be intimated about this.


A friend’s mother accompanied her to the lane leading to her apartment, from where it was just a minute’s walk. But that day, for some unknown reason she decided to roam about a bit and take the longer route. It is not always that she gets to roam about, and no one would know about it. After all she wouldn’t tell her mamma about that.


The road was almost deserted. It was usually the case around the noon time in this part of the country. She walked ahead leisurely, singing and dancing all along as if she owned the road. But this was short lived. In couple of minutes, the scene changed. She could see scores of men, all armed with lathis and sticks heading towards her.

But why?

What had she done?

She did all her homework, scored good marks, was obedient and had clean shoes.

Then why were they headed towards her?


She got scared. She took a turn in the nearby lane and hid behind a tree. The group of people moved ahead. Probably she was never their target. But where were they going. She decided to start for her home after few minutes, after the group had disappeared. Or maybe she could take another route. She knew that road. She had been through it many times with her mamma. She moved ahead, shedding all the fears, only to be face to face with few men behaving strangely.

Politely she asked one of them,

“Uncle, why are you breaking window of that house”

The uncle didn’t listen.

She did not hesitate before asking once again.

No reply came. She was just shoved away. Next few moments were spent in shedding tears, and remembering her mamma.


But that didn’t dampen her spirits. She continued her march towards her home, when she caught few men breaking the statue of a prominent national leader. Not learning anything from the lesson taught moments ago, she asked one of them

“Uncle, why are you breaking the picture?”

“Jaa chhori … apna kaam kar … ghar jaa … ye baccho ke khelne ki jagah nahi hai”

“Uncle, our teacher says that we should …”

Kya teacher weacher lagaa rakha hai … Samajh nahi aata kya?”

“But, uncle …”

“Oye … Samajh nahi aata kya … Ek chaata maaroon kya”

“Sorry Uncle”.

She moved ahead.


She stared sobbing, and then crying when a stone hit her and blood started flowing. But she marched ahead. Then onwards, she was cautious at every step. The people had gone mad, she thought. Braving all the conditions she was victorious. She reached home, to be received as a triumphant girl, as if after winning a war. The minor injuries did not matter. Apart from the victorious look, her face had an expression that of asking hundreds of questions. Now it was turn of her parents to bear the brunt of her questions, which even they had no answers for.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Follow thy Heart

http://www.rediff.com/movies/2008/may/27khan.htm

Above is the link of an interview of Mansoor Khan - The man behind movies like Qayamat se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wahi sikandar.

His life went in following sequence -

Son of a successful film producer --> IITian (... and dropped out) --> Went to USA for further studies (... and dropped out) --> Made few successful movies --> Settled as a farmer at Coonoor, far from the maddening crowd, to appear only once in a blue moon

There is nothing special about this interview, but it is about a person who did the thing best seen in proverbs, philosophical monologues and books like The Alchemist - " Follow your heart", something which very few of us end up doing!

Prima facie, it may look like fickle mindedness and a person being uncertain about things ... but ultimately he is in the exclusive club of ones who followed their heart!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gods must be Crazy – X

(Warning --Blasphemous content ahead. Read at your own risk!)

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“I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time”

– Friedrich Nietzsche


HE looked down the heavens, and had a hearty laugh. The long serpentine queue was moving slowly. With his divine brain HE calculated that mean queue length was nearly 600 and mean service time was 150 per hour. That meant people waited an average of four hours just to have a look at his statue, be awestruck for few moments, seek blessings and ultimately offered gifts in cash and kind. The PR agents in form of the priests in the temple collected them ostensibly for benefit of masses. The PR agents used various kinds of tactics and strategies to up the number of visitors; most important being the fear appeal which is often used by advertising agencies, in which the ill effects of not worshipping the deity for him possessing extraordinary supernatural powers was propagated.

The marketing channel to improve the number of visitors worked in various ways. The head priests were at the topmost level of the hierarchy. Next came the priests who formed bulk of sales force and also doubled as PR agents, each associated with a fixed set of people who were divided as per their caste. Caste system was sacrosanct. Ill effects of not following it were … well … no one knew as no one dared to challenge it. The PR agents also came in handy while collecting all the gifts – cash and kind, so that HE could bask in luxury. Of course, PR agents got a fair share of the pie. After all HE never played dice with universe!

Time and time again reinforcements were given regularly in form of few stray punishments. For example that lady who said that she wouldn’t offer a generous bounty to the priests and won’t sing aartis to please HIM … She didn’t know that in few days she would be nursing a fractured hand for 3 months after a near fatal accident. Or that guy who called everything a form of ‘ego massage’ and sycophancy … little did he know that in few days his girlfriend would ditch him. And that businessman who believed in some other deity and not HIM was to suffer huge losses in coming days. These … and many other stories. After all, how dare they question things! Therefore, the punishments were apt … actually they were well deserved. Such people needed to be taught a lesson.

As of now, it was the peak season. After all it was his birthday in few days time. That day HE would relish in tones of milk, water, bhaang, food, sweets, flowers and god knows which all things. HE would indulge in revelry, enjoy all the sacrifices, create folklores around him and be the center of attraction that day. Then the peak rush to the holy place would subside though people would continue to throng the pace in thousands. HE shall continue to be served as he was being served before … today, tomorrow, and ever after.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Survival

Dark clouds were looming at the horizon. In few minutes they would have traveled few miles in westward direction and came closer. This is not usually the scene at noon in the hottest month of the year. Dark clouds meant something ominous. Probably sign of an impending storm or maybe a cyclone approaching. Sea is a capricious lady. Bay of Bengal was no different. It was infamous for cyclones, and Orissa was often at the receiving end of nature’s fury.

Ramdas was few miles into the sea. So were his brethrens of the fishermen community. There were around a hundred boats in the sea that day. No one anticipated the storm. So no one even thought of staying back at the shore and miss out on their livelihood of the day. Ramdas was alone in his boat. He owned the boat. His son helped him with his job. They managed to get enough as to earn a square meal a day.

They had a good rapport with others of fishing community. But of late that relationship was breaking down. No reasons for that. Nor was relationship that bad. It was just that it wasn’t as good as before. Most of the fellow fisherman earned more than before, but Ramdas felt his earnings were stagnant. Few years ago, major chunks of his earnigs were spent for medical expenses of his wife. Maybe, that difference in earnings made him a bit jealous.

Out of the boats in the sea, a quarter belonged to the village head, famously or infamously known as Lala. He was the biggest money lender of the village and was regarded as cunning, shrewd and cruel. Maybe, that was the reason why he commanded such a respect in village. His boat was equipped with heavy machinery and could venture much farther into the sea than Ramdas could have managed.

That day Ramdas was nearly seven miles away from the shore, while others with modern equipment were on average thrice as far, and probably they’ll catch thrice as much fish as Ramdas. But Ramdas couldn’t have afforded that. So he had to be satisfied with his small boat, which he had to fend alone for that day as his son was ill. He seemed out of favor with lady luck, as the fishes seemed to have deserted that area. Probably they had a premonition of what was about to come. Ramdas could see the storm approaching, and had to fight it alone. The prize of victory was survival.

The storm raised its hood, and came nearer. The rains started. With each passing moment, it began to get heavier. The next day’s newspaper would report that a cyclone whose origins lay somewhere in the Bay of Bengal hit the east coast of India at a speed of 190 km per hour causing widespread destruction to life and property, and leaving thousands dead and much more homeless. Probably Ramdas would become just another number, among one of those few thousands. Or maybe not!

Within minutes, the small boat was completely wet and was getting water logged. Ramdas was completely drenched and made attempts to withstand the wind as valiantly as the boat did. The boat could have capsized any moment. But it didn’t. It withstood all the challenges posed by the winds bravely. It survived … At least for few minutes.

The tides were higher and mightier than ever. The small boat had no chance of survival. Lala’s boats could have survived for a while, but not his boat. They were designed for survival in a calm sea, not in the sea it was now. One giant tide … and everything may be lost; gone forever. He saw one such tide coming.

“Ah, this is the last breath of my life”, thought he, remembering all the gods and goddesses in what he thought would be the last moment of his life.

But miracles do happen. The boat rose high up with the giant tide, was in the air for a moment and when it seemed that it would turn upside down, offering everything it had to the sea, it was back in the sea, in the same position it had left it. This wouldn’t classify exactly as a miracle, but it was nothing short of it. Ramdas was first time lucky. But the question was that how long his luck would really be with him. Maybe, for few more minutes at max. After all, very few survived such a storm and such wild tides, if at all anyone did.

Another tide came. But he escaped unharmed. He couldn’t understand what was going on. Maybe, he was lucky for the last time before it would desert him. Meanwhile he couldn’t spot any boat till far. Maybe he was lost. Probably others were lost. Or the other boats simply ceased to exist. While he was lost in his thoughts, his boat was attacked by another time, and this time he wasn’t all that lucky. The boat tossed up in the air with the tide, turned upside down and was broken into pieces after a moment. The moment had finally come. After all, he could not be lucky all the time.

He lost contact with anything wooden, and a moment later he was few feet inside the sea. But his tireless efforts to keep afloat brought him to the surface where he encountered a wooden piece. He recognized it as part of his boat that once existed minutes ago. He fought for survival by clinging to that piece. He could barely see now. He could just feel the sea and the watery grave around him.

The game of tide continued for few minutes after which it subsided. It was only the winds that subsided. Rains didn’t. He was just hoping that somehow the interplay of tides and weather gods make him reach the shore safely. But he had miles to cover before that happened. There were moments when his grip was loosening, when he was just too tired to hold on anything, moments when rainfall was too heavy to be bearable. Thankfully, there were no sharks in that part of the sea, though some dangerous creatures were present. But it was drowning that he was most scared of. In midst of all these, Ramdas fell asleep … rather unconscious. Few hours’ later rain would have subsided, and Ramdas would have reached a deserted place very close to his village. While this happened, he would be largely unaware of it happening

He woke up when it was few hours since the sun rays graced the shore. In fact it was almost noon. He had slept for too long. Then things began to flash in front of his eyes. He looked around but found nothing intact. He decided to have a stroll through his village but found nothing but houses which were destroyed. There was not a living soul to be found.

“Where have they gone?”

“Have they all perished with the storm?”

“Am I in some other village? No. Village is pretty much the same. I can recognize the places. Yes it is my place. But where are the people?”

Meanwhile he managed to see a person. He seemed to be someone from army from whom he learnt that a cyclone had struck the village two days ago killing every inhabitant there. The dead bodies were removed the very next day to avoid spread of disease. No one in the village was alive. No one who went to sea was alive, except him. He realized that he had slept through entire day and a half, absolutely unaware of all the dreadful happenings around.

Everyone in the village was dead - His wife, his son, his neighbors, other fishermen, Lalaji, Everyone. No one survived. Entire village of 400 inhabitants was wiped off from existence, as if it never existed.

“I am the only survivor of the storm. How lucky I am. But I have lost everything I had, everyone I had ever known. It can’t get worse than this. Ah … my bad luck!”

The only survivor walked through the ruins, to somewhere even he didn’t know. Maybe, somewhere else a new life awaited him.