Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kurai Ondrum Illai.....Part 3

Yes. He was born with the silver spoon. He had it all coming to him. Great family. Superb friends. Doting teachers. He wasn’t any goody two shoes either. He knew he was held in good regard. And he tried to maximize the benefits that would come with it. He knew how to please people. He knew how to get things done. Some would call it manipulation. Others would call it action oriented. But only Dhaya knew the truth. To him, he was a scientist conducting experiments with people. With himself. For each of the behavioural inputs, he was keenly observing the consequences and was adjusting himself to make the most out of it. It was all a game for him. Something he enjoyed playing. Especially when the stakes were high. And success followed him. If at all there was one good thing in him, it was this – he knew what was and never pretended to be otherwise. He knew he was a cold blooded, selfish and something really cruel and ugly. Deep down there in the heart. In his heart. Ultimately that would turn out to be his source of redemption.

From school he passed out with flying colors. He didn’t want the usual engineering and MBBS. He knew he would then turn out to be one among others. He opted for Economics. Not because it interested him. But…just like that. What if he wasn’t interested? He would make himself like it, master it. And once this was accomplished, lose all interest in it once again. What was crucial for him was to prove to himself that he could achieve what he wanted to. And so he joined the BRT College which was the best college in the town for people aspiring to be top notch economists. It was here while learning his economics that it started hitting him. Studying economics was almost like going through all that he had done in his life. Supply-demand, marginal utility, incentives, game theory. All of this. Was man really a creature of incentivization? Be it materialistic or spiritual? Can’t one do something not because it fetches him some reward, but just because it pleases him? Well, it can be argued that pleasing oneself is a reward in itself. But then it is at least not like being bought upon. Here he read that famous prisoner’s dilemma. Given a choice between life and death, where if both cooperate they can come out alive, it is rare that it happens. Each one would want to escape at any cost and go against the other. As a result of which both of them die. Can somebody be so stupid? If die you must, at least give yourself the chance of contributing towards making another man live. Strangely he didn’t like it. He couldn’t get himself to agree to such basic tenets. It was revolting for him. Possibly because, now he had started seeing in black and white, all that he had been doing in life. HE had been the guy who spoke against the others. The others have been the benevolent ones who had kept quiet hoping to come out alive. But were betrayed by Dhaya and sent to the guillotine. Rather than satisfying his ego, this course pricked his conscience. Was this everything about economics? No there were lots of good things to it too. But as so often happens with those who are under inquisition imposed by the self, Dhaya could see nothing other than marginalization, manipulation and self centred benefit driven decision making which was touted as the rational way of decision making in economics.

He didn’t want to immediately go and work under somebody. Hence he opted to study further. And this time decided to do a MBA. As luck would have it, despite his worst efforts he made it through. And in the great coliseum where the most brilliant of minds were believed to be competing for the Holy Grail, he switched himself off. He made himself a non entity. If at all he put any effort, it was directed towards non realization of educational goals. Instead he spent his time observing people, probably becoming a cynic but surely leading towards some sort of metamorphosis. Here he found solace from the fact that his behaviour in the ages gone by were not abnormal. In ‘B-school’ terms he was a perfectly sane and fine guy putting his rational self interest before everything else. ‘Was’ is the operative word here.

From then on, he turned into a obscenely individualistic guy. Not in the conventional sense. He would do what he pleased. Which more often than not was far different than what others would do. Success and failure didn’t affect him. some called it indifference. He became distant to everybody. His family, friends, lover…everybody. It was as if he wanted to show a finger to the whole world. Show them that a person needn’t be motivated by ‘rational’ needs. Show them that Maslow’s hierarchy is but a tool designed by mankind to keep their flocks together, obviate dissent, obviate difficult and honest introspections. Now he had found his manna. In two more months he would be graduating from the college. He didn’t do too badly in his academics. He wasn’t excellent either. He managed to keep himself as inconspicuous as possible. And when he graduated, he took the decision – he wasn’t going to enter the corporate world. He wasn’t going to join his family business. He wasn’t going to work to make money nor to create employement. He was going to work to live and to enjoy. If that meant he got too less a salary, so be it. if that meant, he had to go hungry at times, so be it. If that meant, he was going to be the object of ridicule, so be it.

Quite obviously, he turned into an object of ridicule overnight. Since people couldn’t understand his motives and he didn’t bother to explain it to anybody, everyone rightly assumed that he had turned cranky. His family didn’t understand either. His father Bharani, tried to reason him out of this. But then he once again witnessed that stubborn glazed look in the eyes of his son. He decided that the bridge had to be burnt now. It was now or never for his son Dhaya. Bharani could have made Dhaya toe his lines and get into his business. But then, he was sure that by doing that he would be the perpetual witness to a dead but living version of his son. Not the lively, curious and energetic son he had known through out his life. And hence, Bharani acquiesced. His mother was a mute spectator. She was sure that whatever her son did, it wasn’t going to mean much to her. He would still be HER son. And she was proud of that. His sister was initially embarrassed to have him for a brother. Then she felt frightened unable to fathom why he would do anything like this. The she felt concern for him since she knew that Dhaya was in essence writing his own death sentence. But finally she backed him. Because, right from the childhood one thing she knew so surely about her brother was this – Once he set his mind on something, Dhaya was bound to achieve it. No matter what.

His lover, who had turned into his fiancĂ© during all this turmoil found the life around her falling to pieces. Yes, he was the same Dhaya. But how could she justify his actions to her parents? How could she marry him and be sure that their future will be secured? Would he marry her at all? She tried talking him out of it. the more she did it, the more she realized that the farther he was going from her. And now, it was HER moment of reckoning. She had to decide now whether she would stick to him and continue making her life a living hell? Or would she be bold enough to accept his decision and move ahead with her own life? She opted for the latter. She had her own goals in life. Yes she loved him. But that wouldn’t mean she would sacrifice her everything. There is always some amount of individuality left in each and every human that shouldn’t be violated. And she was now holding on to that thin strand of individuality while taking her decision. And that gave her the strength.

At end of all this, Dhaya was to turn a new leaf in the book that was his life. A man who couldn’t retain love. A man who couldn’t love. A man who moved away from his family. A man whose friends moved away from him. He was the prototype for everybody around him for what one should not be. And from this debris, Dhaya decided to start afresh. From now, his life will be on his terms. No more dancing to the tune of the world. No more making the world dance to his tune either. He wanted none of it. He just wanted to live. And die. There was no in between wishes that he had now.

Kurai Ondrum Illai….Part 2

Dhaya was a specimen. He was shunned by his relatives, tolerated by the society, liked only by children and loved only by a few. The few being his father, mother and sister. They were there for him, but studiously maintained a distance. Not because they wanted to avoid embarrassment. But because they understood that Dhaya was fighting his own battle. And victory could come only if he found the meaning of his struggle, all by himself.

His father was an industrialist, his mother was a homemaker, his sister too was a successful professional and his family was comfortably affluent. And yet here he was in the streets. His relatives felt he was an irresponsible brat spoiled by not having to struggle in life. A ‘born with the silver spoon’ syndrome. His friends first tried reasoning out to him, then mocked him and now had consciously forgotten him. His fiancĂ© tried understanding him and tried to change him with her love. But very soon she could spot a chilly cold blooded wall develop between them each time she tried to ‘change’ him. It almost seemed as if he was possessed by a spirit so ugly, so unruly and so obstinate that no one in the world could save him. With teary eyes and broken heart, she left him. Not because she didn’t love him. But because she loved him far too much to see him like this. And after all, she too had a life to live. The neighbourhood too were wary of him since they felt he was a wrong influence on their children. And yet they couldn’t shoo him off their lives. They needed a workhorse for their daily vanities and he was there. And his Dosas and Rotis made the people momentarily forget all ill will they harboured against him.

Dhaya was a bright student from the same neighbourhood. He went on to complete his BA (Economics) from one of the most reputed colleges in the city. He followed it up with a MBA from one of the premier institutes. An eligible bachelor in the eyes of many a people. A man set to achieve great many things in life for others. And yet he decided to live a supposedly mundane existence. It was almost like he was personally trying to erase himself from the consciousness of others. What drove him to this? What peculiar trait he had that made him do this?

Bharani, his father knew it right when he saw Dhaya sitting mum for all of 3 full years (right after his birth) without uttering a word. While his mother and others fussed over why it was taking him so much time to speak, his father knew that here was someone extremely individualistic. Not for him the trying to win the attention of people. If it comes, it is good. If it doesn’t, to hell with it. ‘Surely a kid of 3 culdnt be so evolved? ‘ thought Bharani. And now after 20 years when Dhaya had passed out of his B-school and had stated the path he was to take, it became crystal clear to Bharani. Evolved he may not be, but stubborn he is.

His son had set out on a path very few had attempted. A lot of people have thought of what he wanted to do at some point in their life. But no one did. It was either because of the social mores which despised volitional abstention from wealth creation or because they were shit scared to come out of their comfort zone. And yet Dhaya had done that. ‘Good’, thought Bharan, ‘At least he will find out the truth by himself rather than simply nod his head to what others say and believe’. His mother was indifferent. Not because she didn’t care. But because of the sagely knowledge that come what may, Dhaya was HER son. And nothing which he would do OR the world would do to him would change THAT fact. His sister was distraught. Together Dhaya and his sister had dreamt of lots of things. And now all of this was up in smoke. She couldn’t understand why he was doing this. Was it some kind of self inflicted penance? But still she loved him. And supported him.

Kurai Ondrum Illai….Part 1

Amit and Ravi were walking down the street. It was 4.30pm. They were returning from their school after having played a game of football. There was a hint of pride in Amit’s eyes. And only Ravi knew why. It was because Amit had once again torn his pants. God only knew ho many times his mother had to stitch them up. Neither of them were any great shakes when it came to football. However, such was the innocence that comes with their age that they considered themselves to be pivotal to their team’s fortunes and played with the sort of passion seen only in children…or lunatics.

They stopped at Dhaya anna’s thallu vandi. Dhaya was a veteran in these parts. He was a favourite of everybody, especially the children whom he used to engage in light hearted banter. What was his secret? How come children flocked to him and loved speaking with him? It was because he treated them with respect. Treated them as adults. Not condescendingly. But as equals. He was 24years old and sold roasted peanuts – vaer kadalai. Well, this wasn’t the only thing that he did. This was his evening time business. Why he did it? Just for the sheer pleasure for talking with the children. Of course he got fair dough by selling kadalai too.

Dhaya was the All in All Azhagu Raja of the locality. He was the newspaper boy in the morning. The errand boy for whole of Jambu Nagar during day time. The kadalai anna in the evening. And an expert cook in the night. Speaking of which, I forgot to mention that Dhaya also ran a Dosa and Roti shop. He cooked some of the best Dosas and Sabzis in the locality. And it was cooked and served hot – right in front of your eyes. This he did only post dusk, but well into the night.

Amit and Ravi bought a Re.1 worth of kadalai each, spoke with Dhaya anna about their match and how they very nearly won the match, but for the lapse by the goalky (this is enge ooru Goalie aka Goal Keeper) and then trudged off to their home smug with the satisfaction of having vented out their passion to an ardent listener.

Amit entered his house with the customary ‘Amma coffee’ shout. His thaatha was just getting ready for his evening walk. He liked his thaatha’s get up. A crisp white shirt, a flowing white veshti, a majestic looking angavasthram and a sturdy walking stick. His thaatha was an octogenarian but strong like an ox. He spoke to his thaatha about his match, about how he fared in his half yearly exams and about his English teacher who asked him to recite Antony’s sppech for next day’s function. The mention of ‘Antony’ made his thaatha throttle himself to let out a ‘I have not come here to praise Caesar, I have come here to bury him…….But Brutus is an honourable man’ speech. Amit looked wide mouthed at his thaatha and asked, ‘Thaatha, naa innum dialogue sollale. Adhu kulla neenga muzhu dialogue pesitele. Epdi thaatha?.’ His thaatha chuckled and said, ‘Kabhi main bhi jawaan tha’ and proceeded to go for his walk.

As amma was bringing his his coffee and biscuits, he asked amma how come thaatha rattled off his dialogues so fluently. She replied, ‘Don’t forget that he was an English teacher and drama was his favourite hobby.’ Still, for Amit it remained a matter of immense curiosity, pride…and betrayal that his thaatha spoke the dialogues even before he could say what the dialogues were.

As he was watching the match between Kent and Essex being aired on the TV, suddenly the landscape changed to Swat Kats in Cartoon channel. It was then he realized that the ‘Sherni Khan’ had arrived. In came his sister Anu and in one graceful swoop took the remote from near Amit and changed the channel. This was followed by the usual sibling fight that is known to almost anybody and everybody who has had a sister with him. He couldn’t make her change the channel. He had to settle for SwatKats. But he had better things to do – eat his bowl of noodles that amma had prepared.

Anu too studied in the same school and was a year older to Amit. She was all that Amit hoped to become but couldn’t. Where she was the cynosure of all eyes for her genteelness and conduct, Amit was kept in the school only because he was Anu’s brother. Even the other day he had ‘accidentally’ beaten one teacher and was taken to the principal. And the salt to the injury (for Amit) was that Anu excelled in sports too. ‘Is there anything Anu can’t do’ wondered Amit. But then he was too much of a bumpkin to be worrying about this. The time span between the birth of a thought and its demise (within his head) was the least you could find in this world. Such was his span of attention. While this is not necessarily a good trait, it did help him to be happy.

As he was slurping his noodles, he blurted out – ‘Naa Dhaya anna aatum aaga poren’. ‘Yean da? Vaazhkai la urupadanum nu thonaleyaa?’ asked his amma.

Why was it that Dhaya, even though he was the favourite of everyone in the locality adults and children alike, was looked down upon by everyone? What was his story?

Vechcha Kudumi Saracha Mottai....

It is very easy to cite the various examples of ‘what if’ in my life. But at the end of it, what’s the whole damn purpose? False pride?

Rather, let us focus on what we want to do and how we can go about doing it. There was this wonderful thing written today about the Indian openers’ approach in the 2nd test against SL – ‘hit whatever you read, and rely on short-term memory loss if you are beaten’

A direct analogy I would draw is that go for your dreams. Forget your failures and still go on trying to catch your dream. Short term memory loss does work wonders.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home..Albeit Away From Home...

And a few days I am set to go to Chennai. The smell of salted and sweaty air is calling me. It is too early to say if I can breathe it. Plan is not certain yet. It might well turn out to be a 'Many a slip between the cup and the lip'. But such flights of fancy is allowed. When you are to return to the benevolent hug of your favorite place. Till then. Adios my friend.

Hasta la Vista Chennai

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Soul Of A Place

Have never been the one to be talking of one city being better than the other. Even now, all I am saying is I have grown used to this place that I can’t find any other place half as attractive.

Chennai, where I had spent 11 full years of my life and further 6 years as a part time (coming for holidays rather than going home) is the place which I am speaking about. So what is so great abut this place? People who come to this place, more often than not, crib a lot. It is very stuffy. No one speaks Hindi. Auto guys make a killing. And so on.

I would ask only the following questions.

Isn’t Calcutta stuffy? This is what you would get in a coastal temperate area you Dud!!!

No one speaks Hindi – This takes the cake. Now I am no pro-Thamizh culture buff. In fact if anyone speaks about this, I will be the first to put trash in their mouth. Even then, I must confess I have seen lesser no. of people making an effort to learn Tamil when they come here than vice versa. “Why should I? Hindi is the national language and you better know it” is the common refrain. Guess they forgot the maxim – When in Rome, be a Roman. All said and done, every place has its own identity. And one should learn to respect it.

The auto guys make a killing – Okay they do. But why don’t you go in bus? Or use a call taxi or for that matter use the electric train or walk? Yes these guys make a killing. But one can always ignore them. It is a plain case of supply and demand. Hen the demand for the auto guys is more they will make a killing.

Now for the things I love in Chennai/Madras. There is humanity. Even in the most posh of places, you will find people moving in the streets and approachable. Maybe that OMR stretch is developing into a Gurgaon like devil. But rest of the place is okay. Be it Besant Nagar, Adyar, Poes Garden, Gopalapuram. Anywhere you go, you have semblance of possibilities to indulge in conversation with people.

You have the wonderful Idly, Dosa and Sambar. No further elucidation on this. People who know it will appreciate it. For the rest, it doesn’t matter anyways.

The best thing is that the roads are big enough to appear good and small enough to not overawe you. All said and done, having a 30m-50m wide road is, what shall I say? It takes off any sort of personal touch that the city has to offer you. Any city, if it has to grow on you should offer that personal touch. The city has a way of speaking to you. You know, for example lets take a road trip; from Ambattur OT to Airport. The stretch from OT to Brittania tells you a tale of hardship. Trying to make both ends meet types. You get to meet people who toil for their daily bread. There is dust, grime and traffic which conveys the same message. The smell of baked biscuits at brittania is the stress buster. From there to Lucas junction, it is a story of disciplined industrialization as against un planned or small scale stuff. From Lucas jn to Anna Nagar Depot, you can see a free spirit in the wide, usually free roads. As you cross the depot, you come to a lively residential cum commercial area which is bursting with energy. From there to Koyambedu jn, you transition from residential to commercial area. As you near our Mofussil bus terminus, you see a multitude of people. Some leaving Chennai and some coming to it. In all their eyes, you can see purpose. And activeness. From Koyambedu to Vadapalani jn, it is slightly less populated. This is the place which says to you, ‘Bloody get going. Too much stagnation is not good’. From Vadapalani jn to Ashok Pillar – you again transition to a half residential, half commercial area. Be it morning or evening, you will find a sense of leisureliness in people that is heart warming. From Pillar to Kathipara – you see signs of working class population on the seams and IT/industrial ambience on the mains. Le Meridien will welcome you at Kathipara. And from there to the Airport, you start seeing signs of the urban, supposedly ‘modern’ roads leading to the airport. These try to resemble the wide roads of bigger cities. These roads are to show you what you will be missing by losing out on the personal touch.

I know that was a lousy description. But each person will have something to tell of his city. Madras is such a place that if you know it well, you can travel from any point A to any point B in 45 min flat. It is independent of the distance. All you need is to talk with the soul of the city.

It goes for other cities and towns too. Agreed. Maybe getting used to the place is what matters. Amen.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Scent of a Woman

That was one great movie. I loved that effortless and unselfconscious way in which Al Pacino dances with that lady. But why was it called scent of a woman? I dunno yet. However, this post is not about the movie. It is literally about the ‘scent’ of women.

And don’t worry. Neither is it about the natural scent of woman. It is about the perfumes, spray and stuff they put which makes you kommatify. Maybe that’s the way they feel when we guys put all the deo sprays too. But then this is about what I feel.

The first time I had this nausea was in my school bus. We had a teacher whose arrival was telegraphed with that perfume of hers. Everyone in the van couldn’t even speak for fear of THAT smell entering our mouth. Post that there was a lull for quite a few years. There were decent smells all around. Then around my high school time – Rexona deo used to make the rounds. It was tolerable too. Not much of an issue. It was later that the problems started. With influx of perfumes, sprays and stuffs like Eva, Spinz and all their variants, lives of the brotherhood became miserable. It was a sharp and pungent smell which all the girls seemed to enjoy.

And then I went to Karaikudi. This was a place ruled by the natural scent. Best case scenario was Javaadhu (a sexy natural perfume). Worst case scenario was some Singapore sarakku. You of course had your city dames who would flaunt their ‘posh’ scents.

By far the best I have experienced is the half natural, half perfume type of smell. This of course needs lots of fine balancing to know what the right mix should be. I take it back. The best ones have been the natural kadalaimaavu smell, javaadhu ones and the seekaipodi smell just after an oil bath. But why all of a sudden am I writing all these things? It was due to one of those ‘kommatifying’ scent that emanated from an acquaintance of mine which set me thinking. Why is it that really beautiful people have to resort to outrageously nauseating perfumes to make heads turn?

It is not to say that guys are really good when it comes to deo stuffs. I remember I used to over do the Denim powder when it just came to the market. There are guys who overdo the Axe thing too. Let some damsel pour all her stomach ulcer creating matters. I will stick to my experiences.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Absolute and Relative

There is never a good deed if you cannot compare it with the bad. Never a pain if you can’t define what a pleasure is. All these definitions are relative to the other one. Does it matter at all? They do seem to two sides of the same coin. In fact not even a coin. More like a spectrum. That other side of the spectrum is what you are not.

There is this verse. I don’t know if it is in the Vedas or Upanishads or whatever. It says something like –

Poornamadah Poornamidam
Poornaath Poornam Udachyathe
Poornasya Poornamaadaaya
Poornameva Vasishyathe

Guess it professes the unity and the wholesomeness of things. Literally translated it will be something like, ‘This was a whole that is a whole. What you take out of it is a whole. What remains after it is a whole’. Signs of soul and the body dialogues in Gita eh? The wholeness referring to the soul.

What matters is what sort of life we lead and how much are we satisfied about it within our conscience.

There are two ways of arriving at the truth (so says the ancient peers). One is the ‘Ithi’ which identifies what the truth is and discards the rest. The other is the ‘Na Ithi’ which identifies the untruth, discards them and whatever you are left with is the truth. Almost the same thing is described in the testing of hypothesis which we study in statistics with the null and alternate hypothesis. It is a different matter that I am not competent to speak about statistics. Just that I feel it hints towards the same thing. Okay so why am I telling this? It is to ask myself that as a corollary to the Ithi and Na Ithi descriptions, can I say that it as well right to find out what the good is by experiencing all that is bad and then discarding them? And if this is acceptable, then we shouldn’t be showing contempt to the guy who falls in the wrong path, because ultimately even he will realize what is right and what is not. It is just that we don’t want others to reinvent the wheel. Even when it is with regards to personal experiences, we want others to learn from the world. How apt is it? I feel it is totally unacceptable.

Each man/woman has to find their own level, in their own way in their own leisurely pace. Speaking of this, I am reminded of one dialogue in the book ‘Doctors’ by Erich Segal. It is one of my favorite book and probably this dialogue is one of my most favorite too. It is told by one Maurice Esterhazy. He was the guy who had a nervous breakdown while in Harvard, then got admitted to a psycho ward and then went on to become a doctor in England. He says, “Yes, I want to become a doctor too. But not there where it is a rat race. But where it is more of a mouse jog”. But how much are we ready to accept either ourselves or any other person whom we know to willingly forgo any competitions and proceed to carve his own niche in his own way? The truthful answer to this question will solve many a heart aches in many a homes.

Chaand Taare Thod Laaoon, Saari Duniya Par Main Chaaoon

How about creating a big industrial empire. One that will ensure that millions of people are gainfully employed. One that will create wealth for the individuals and for the nation. One where people look forward to come and work.

Which would be the most important department in this organization? My pick would be the HR dept. it should be proactive and it will not be used only to recruit people and give them their salaries. Their job it is to ensure that the employees enjoy their stay. There should something more than skills and money which this company has to offer. And it will be the HR team who will be in the forefront unearthing these unstated needs.

This will be an organization where people aren’t afraid of committing mistakes. There will be two machine shops. One for running the day to day activities. And the other will be having workable prototypes of all the machinery. This is to enable each and every worker, engineer and others to open up the machine to learn about it without the fear of stopping the production line.

Around this company will be built schools, hospitals and departmental stores for the people. The company will not only employ people from the locality, but will also buy from the locality thus ensuring that the spirit of entrepreneurial spirit is sown in the people. To aid in this, the company will train the people, expose them to latest technologies and the best in the market. Will it be an entirely altruistic motive? Nopes. I will be lying if I say that altruism is at the core of these initiatives. The core motivating factor is that everyone should make money. Everyone should be happy. This can happen only by growing and developing mutually.

The company and the people will slowly involve themselves in town planning and self sustenance. How best can nature’s resources be used to maximize our benefits? This will be our driving force. Natural sloping of the roads to ensure centralized collection of rainwater and sewage (each separately), having a tree in front of each house (the fast growing, shade giving types but it should not be the voluminous bulky type), probably looking at the possibility of cultivating most of the township’s requirements. We would also explore the possibility of layered cultivation (something like cultivating mushrooms in ground floor, potatoes in first floor and so on). There will be a volumetric utilization of the space available. Solar, wind and bio energy will be used on a large scale. There will be solar powered round the clock shuttle buses/trams for commuting within the township.

This plan will be replicated at various places. The main aim will be wealth creation and bringing the locality’s name on the world map.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Memories of yore – Door darshan

Haawa meeti tu aaja purab se, toofan tu aaja re paschim se……gues sit was stoneboy…story of a guy who is invisible…..

Mile sur mera tumhaara toh sur bane humaara – with a plethora of childhood idols. Kapil, hirwani, balamurali, some cute mallu mahout, a hoarse singing punju on tractor….

Ek chidiya….anek chidiya……Sukkhi can tell about this better than anyone else

Junoon serial – horribly translated in tamil – kadhal vasa patu varuvaen pidivaadham….

Chandrakantha – Sunday blockbuster with kroor singh and his yucku…..

Non stop nonsense – a dd2 comedy…guess used to come in the Tuesdays

Byomkesh Bakshi – our native Sherlock holmes

Somewhere long back I also remember having seen Mruganayani and being in crush with Pallavi joshi

Then there was this thing about women in airforce – Udaan

For comedies we had Flop show, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Zabaan Sambhal Ke, Zamaana Badhal gaya hai. Tiku Talsania was our entertainer nonpareil

Faint memories of something like Gul gulshan gulfaam (I know I have made a hotch potch name) was some serial with khulbhushan kharbandha I think.

To ensure we didn’t forget our past, we had Bharat Ek Khoj

No childhood memories can be over without –

  • Jungle jungle bath chali hai patha chala hai, Chaddi pehen ke phool kila hai phool kila hai
  • There was this cartoon about a Big bear and a smaller one (I forget its name). Hindi based only
  • And of course, the Uncle Scrooge and his nephews

Sundays would start with Rangoli and end with Superhit Muqabla

Idle Mind Is Devil's Workshop

Here I am sitting in my office and typing my way to glory. I used to sneer at Babli when she said she was vela in office. Guess I understand her predicament now. But its not that I spent my full day in vetti manner. Some basic technical research was done. Some writing was done. And yes, some professional work was done too. Still, a feeling of emptiness remains. The emptiness which comes when you know you are not doing what you are supposed to do.

Add to it the fact that I have started disliking this place even though I am not even a week into this place. Gurgaon is the place. Possibly a place of dreams for some. A place of dread for others. For me, it is a bore. One that has to be tolerated. But not for long. The problem for me here is that this place is too vast and too huge. Right away it negates my policy of walking to office. So much for nataraja services. And there is no decent public transport here. You need to have a vehicle of your own. The rickshaws and the autos make a killing here. All this really gets to my nerves.

And still, I have to find means of humoring myself. Such is life. You don’t EVER give in to its demands. Speaking of which I remember a phrase which a close friend of mine used ot write in his notes. NEVER GIVE IN. As against the NEVER GIVE UP which so many of us are used to.

The most funny thing in my office is that currently I am not all alone in my idleness. Almost everyone is. Its just that few of us here don’t try to pretend as if we are immersed in work. We treat our idleness for what it is. Plain idleness. And that tends to piss of some of them here. Like hell I care.

Kuch toh hai....

What was it in my 1st job that I left it in 11 months? I can answer it in two ways. One, bitch about everything in there or two, introspect. Let me choose to introspect. So yes, the growth was not as I had expected. But I guess it was far above the industry average. Pay, I will not speak about. It was pretty comfortable. Work life balance was ultimate. I could decide what I wanted to do. If anything, it was the fact that things were moving a bit too slowly. I was feeling I was doing monotonous work. And then I did the cardinal mistake; that of thinking that the company is the reason for my monotonies rather than me. I could as well have redesigned my profile. In fact people were ready to offer me whatever I wanted. But the heady mixture of youth and ambition won the day and I left the company. For good or for worse? I believe it is for the good. I am now more in touch with both my engineering and my PG. I am more connected with my friends even on professional level than before. And I am more focused towards entrepreneurship than before. I am also able to slowly differentiate my actions and understand myself. Hindsight makes even a fool a wise man.

Ok Sukkhi…here you go….

And so I joined my current company trying to become a consultant. All that I had scorned in the past, I was to become now. Oh! For the ironies of life. The best thing was I was very much in touch with manufacturing. And the team I started out with was plain fantastic. As had happened so far in the past, I was the youngest in the team. But then the age difference was not as massive as was in the previous organization (where the next youngest guy I had to deal with was 15 yrs older to me). This (apart from the inherent goodness in all) led to a great camaraderie in our team. I also guess that if you and your team are literally excommunicated from any traces of civilization, camaraderie does develop by itself.

We had a great gang. A gang of 5. Sukkhi, Sidarth, DJ, Atul Kulkarni and Kunal Kapoor (I forget their screen names). Each of them was an entertainer in his own right. If one was with the bottle, the other was with JAVA. If one was with wit, the other was with sarcasm. The best thing was it all complemented well.There would be the daily bitching about the client – both external and internal. The regular sessions of chai and nimbu paani. Post lunch siesta. And then the weekly BotliBhai session.

Most of us were first timers in the job. And the fact that everyone new that the other guy was a newcomer also contributed towards having a free rein together. Three weeks into the joyride, Siddarth left for another project. 5 weeks into the agony ride, Sukkhi and Kunal too left. And finally the coup de grace was 7 weeks into the project when DJ and Atul Kulkarni too left. The irony was that leaving the place filled us with happiness. Was it a case of grass being greener on the other side or was it truly a case which deserved contempt? Only time and experience will tell.

For now we are officially benched. As each person’s number plate is shown to the public indicating he is gonna take the field, we all let out a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A walk down the memory lane - Mehta Nagar, MMC, Tennis, Stories and Songs

We hopped into our school van at 3.35pm. the van would start at around 3.45pm after Mani checked if everyone had come. Srinivas was our driver and Mani our conductor. Even as the van was rattling past our school gates, we would have started playing ‘Current’. This was a game in which each of our hands was interlocked. There was a catcher. His work was to find out who is passing the current (a small pinch to the other hand) to whom. As so often used to happen in games where subtlety was paramount, I sucked in this game too. Hence I didn’t entirely love playing it.

Then there used to be this movie session, when some smart ass amongst us who had watched some movie would be narrating the story scene by scene to the rest of us. And we would be listening open mouthed. I recently overheard my niece telling one such movie story to her friend. I am very grateful that I didn’t have the brain to know how much of a directorial liberty we used to take in narrating the movie those days.

We used to reach home by 4.15pm. As soon as we came in, Meks and myself used to take turns in skipping up to 500, drink our satthu maavu kanji and proceed to the bus stand with a racquet in our hand – for from 5 to 6 we had our tennis class. If we were lucky, we could catch 47J (the present day’s 47D). That would drop us straight at the Valluvar Kottam stop from where it was a 5 min walk to our class. Else we could catch any bus, get down at Loyola and walk roughly 1.5-2 km to our class. As luck would have it, we mostly had to walk. MMC – Muthukrishnan Memorial Club it was. Enroute to our class there was this push cart guy selling ‘pepsi’. It is not the cola drink. It was sold for Re 1 or Re 2. It was flavoured frozen water packaged in a cheap plastic. My mouth used to water at their sights. Alas the money in our pockets could only afford us a bus ride back home (and fortunately so).

We started our class with 5 rounds around the courts. Our first racquets were wooden ones. The first week was fully spent in just tapping the ball continuously – downwards against the ground, upwards for 2 feet. Each time we failed to tap more than 10 times, we had to run one round. At 6 when the class got over, I was happy that the torture had come to an end. But wait, there was more. As a finishing warm up we had to run across the court touch the doubles line, come back, run back to touch the singles line, come back, run and touch the centre line, come back and do the same for the other singles line and doubles line. This had to be done 3 times, forward running, backward running and sidestepping. I was positively cursing my father for having brainwashed me into learning tennis rather than cricket.

But all this cursing went into thin air from second week onwards. Running became less of a chore and more of an ‘I am the fastest and fittest’ type of competition. And rather than tapping the balls, we were hitting them. That is the marker boys used to drop a ball at our feet and we had to hit it across the net. Since our starting ability was not too good. We weren’t trained in the full court. It was done in the mini court where our opponent was a big wall with three lines across it. One was the net line below which if we hit, we had to run a round. The top most was the ‘out’ line and the consequences were the same. In between we had the passing shot line which we were supposed to hit even with our eyes closed. The first 2 months, we were doing only this. And to ensure that we would be able to hit the balls on the mark, were asked to spend 10 minutes of our time every class swinging the racquets in air, till we got our swings right.

Then slowly we graduated to the bigger courts. Now we were thrown the ball from across the court rather than someone dropping it at our feet. But the elation of receiving a long hit ball was offset by the fact that the fitness requirement here was designed to break any further kindness we have harboured towards our instructors. Not as a punishment, but as a routine we had to make one round of the court before coming to hit the next ball. And if you are late to arrive at the ball the instructor wont throw one more to you. You have to run again. In a way this was good. We became sturdy very fast. The next level of graduation was to playing rallies with our coach. A maximum of three rallies before running 3 rounds. Length of the rally was dependent on our ability to sustain them.

A year into the training. Now we were given the honour of practising our serves. The first week was plain swinging in the air. The second was tossing the ball up catching it on the way down and then swinging our racquets in the air. And finally we got to do all of it together. A toss and a serve. Mid way into our training, we opted for the morning classes rather than the evening class. Some of the advantages were that the crowd was small in the morning. So we got more chance to play rather than run. Also in the morning we never had to catch the bus. Appa or gautanna always dropped us and picked us up.

The weekends were completely fitness based. This time our starting routine was not 5 rounds around the court, but a run from our class to Loyola college and back. This was followed with various types of walking and jumping across the courts. Duck walk. Duck jump. Side steps. Backward running. Hopping. And if time permits, we could play tennis too. The one thing I gained from MMC was definitely not tennis skills. I made for a pathetic player. My first service in a professional match hit the chair umpire right on his cheeks. My biggest gain was a fairly decent fitness. Even though I wasn’t the best in fitness nor the fastest in running. I could hold my own.

We had good coaches. Gopal Rao sir, Raju Sir, Abbas Ali Baig Sir, Kumar Sir, Mahendra Sir, Sekhar Sir and Karthik Sir. Lawrence was one of the markers. I forget the name of the other one. Some the playmates I remember (though I am sure they would know a whit about me) are Kavya (I think she was from Navodaya school), Reshma (she was a snooty snob), Satya (she was sweet, I think she would have developed into someone similar to the telugu actress satyakrishna – the one who played the role of Anita in Anand), Karthik, Ajay, Bilwa, Minal (he had really booming serves). I think some of the national level players also used to come and train in the mornings. Those were the days of bliss. We would be ball boys. No running around the courts.

Even though the quickest way to come home was to catch a bus from valluvar Kottam, we didn’t do that. We used to hate the crowded bus typical of Chennai at 6.30pm. we preferred walking upto Loyola to catch a bus. The route to Loyola that we took was thus. Turn right from MMC, then a left. Follow the walls of the corporation school for a right and another right. Then a left at the mini round tana. Ths would bring us to the road which had lots of LIG type of flats and pawn broker shops. This would lead us straight to the erstwhile 15C, 15A bus stand. If I was unlucky, we used to find Anukka as she was returning from her classes. She would take Mekala and I would have to come all alone to home. Of course, as used to happen so often with me, this was offset with an extra glass of milk when back home. That used to wipe out all my feelings of being given a raw deal. Looking back, I seriously feel it pays to be a bumpkin. We can avoid lots of heartaches.

This walk from the MMC to the bus stand used to pass off very quickly. Not because we used to walk fast. But because we used to entertain ourselves a lot. Our favourite pass time was to decide the castings for some of the books that we had read. Robin Hood was directed twice. Once with the castings as per the choice of Mekala. And once as per my choice. Same with Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, Hucklebery Finn, Heidi, Robinson Crusoe. The best of the lot for us was King Solomon’s Mines. Umbopa was our favourite and Gagool was the one we feared the most. The fight between Henry and Umbopa’s uncle (I forget his name) was the scene we relived a million times. If we were bored of this, we used to sing at the top of our voice all the way to the bus stand oblivious of the number of eyes staring at us. Our favourite songs those days were – Hum hain rahi pyaar ke, Tu cheez badi hai mast mast, Tujhko mirchi lagi toh main kya karoon and Didi tera devar deewana.

If we were lucky to have Gautanna come to pick us up in the evening, it was always a trip to Hot Chips (the one opposite to Apoorva Sangheeta) for a samosa and a coke. Those were the days of Ric Video Library, Hot Chips, Priya akka and weekend trips to Marina.

It was a good childhood we had. Given a choice, I will relive them the same way I did before. No changes. No regrets. Plain bliss.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gaane Taraane – II

I must thank Rafi for singing those countless beauties which keeps dancing in my head and will continue to do so through out my life. For the romantically inclined ones –

  • Ishq ke garmiye jazbaath kisse paesh karoon
  • Ae phoolon ki raani, bahaaron ki malika, tera muskuraana gazab ho gaya
  • Mujhe ishq hai tujhise, meri jaan-e-zindagaani, tere paas mera dil hai, meri pyaar ki nishaani
  • Tere mere sapne, ab ek rang hain, woh jahaan bi le jaaye haaye hum sung hain
  • Tumhaare ishq ke saaye main shaamil kar loonga
  • Rukh se zaraa naqaab utaa do, mere huzoor
  • Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam

Then there is this song that I haven’t heard in years. It features Vinod Mehra and Moushmi Chatterjee. I dunno the film, dunno the singers either. In this Moushmi is blind. The lines go like this…..’who kya hai? Ek mandir hai…Uss mandir mein? Ek moorat hai…who moorat kaisi hoti hai? Teri soorat jaisi hoti hai’. I luv this song.

There are some nice songs sung by ladies too –

  • Nainon mein badra chaaye (from Mera Saaya)
  • The eternal Pyaar kiya toh darna kya
  • Ruke ruke se kadam, ruk ke baar baar chale,
  • Na jaane kyun hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath (from Choti si bath…the heroine was awesome)

What about those really sad and lonely ones which moves you?

  • Chaahoonga main tujhe saanj sawere…
  • Kabhi na kabhi, kahin na kahin, koi na koi toh aayegaa
  • Aaj purani raahon se koi muhe aawaaz na de
  • Iss rang badalthi duniya mein, insaan ki neeyath theek nahin…
  • Jo unki tamanna hai barbaadh ho ja

And round this post off, we will now have a look at the dosti waala and arth bhari songs –

  • O saba kehna mere dildaar ko (from Kabuliwala)
  • Yaari hai imaan mera yaar meri zindagi (Zanjeer)
  • Gaadi bula rahi hai, seeti bajaa rahi hai, chal naa hi zindagi hai, chalti hi jaa rahi hai
  • Ehsaan mere dil pe tumhaara hai doston, yeh dil tumhaare pyaar ka maara hai doston

I will end with one nice male-male duet which I like –

Huzoor iss kadar bi na ithraake chaliye, khule aam aanchal na leheraake chaliye (2)

Bahut khoobsurat hai har bath lekin, agar dil bi hotaa toh kyaa bath hoti?

Likhi jaathi fir daastan-e-mohabbat, ek afsaane jaisi mulaaqaat hoti

Huzoor iss kadar bi na ithraake chaliye, khule aam aanchal na leheraake chaliye (2)

( )

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gaane taraane – I

You know it when you listen to a great song. Some can dissect the song to find out the causes of greatness – bass, tone, note, soul etc, while others cant. However there is one thing common between the music aficionados and the nyaana soonyams (like me). It is that the song touches a chord in our heart. Makes us hum the tune. Makes us sing the song.

So what was it that made me pen this? Hmm…it is this song sung by Talat Mahmood in Sujata. The song was picturized on Sunil Dutt (who looked dashing). It goes like this –

  • Jalte hain jiske liye, teri aankhon ke liye

Dhoond laya hoon wohi, geet main tere liye (2)

Dil mein rakh lena isse haathon se yeh choote na kahin,

Geet naazuk hai mera sheeshe se bhi toote na kahin (2)

Gun gunaoonga yehi geet main tere liye

Jalte hain jiske liye ( )

Then there are those songs which makes the hair on your back stand up with their soul stirring voice. Here is a list of my personal favourites -

  • Ae mere pyaare watan, ae mere bichde chaman, tujhpe dil qurbaan by Manna De in Kabuliwala is one such thing.
  • Tum jo mil gaye ho, to aisa lagta hai, yeh jahaan mil gaya (by Md.Rafi for Navin Nischol)
  • Mere naina saawan baadhon (Kishore for Rajesh Khanna)
  • Tu Kahaan, Yeh Bataa Is Nasheeli Raat Mein (Rafi in Tere Ghar Ke Saamne)

Then comes your lazy, drooling and leisurely paced songs listening to which you immediately enter into a theta state of mind. These are –

  • Yeh raat yeh chaandni fir kahaan, sun ja dil ki daastaan (Hemant or Manna De? Not sure)
  • Hai apna dil to awara, na jaane kis pe aayega (Hemant)
  • Tum Pukar Lo, Tumhaara Intezaar Hai (Hemant/Manna? Doubt again)

Next in our list are those nasheela bhara songs best enjoyed with a glass in hand

  • Dhin Dhal Jaye Haye, Raat Na aaye
  • Tu Toh Na Aaye Teri Yaad Sathaaye (Rafi in Guide)
  • Choo lene do nazuk haoton ko, kuch aur nahi hai jam hai yeh (Rafi for Rajkumar)
  • Dho Ghoont Maine Pi, Aur Saer Duniya Ki, Dekho Main Kar Ke Aa Gaya (Rafi again)

Finally there is this really happy, feel good type of songs. By themselves nothing great in them and yet they have their effect on you – especially if you see the movie in which the songs feature.

  • Thoda hai, thode ki zaroorat hai (Khatta Meetha)
  • Suniye Kahiye, Kahiye Suniye, Kehte Sunte Baaton Baaton Main Pyaar Ho Jaayega (from Baaton Baaton Main)
  • Dil Dhoondta Hai Phir Wohi Fursat ke Raat Dhin (from Mausam)

Am not done yet. Coz there are lot more gaane which has made an impact in me. Will come in later posts.

Lemme sign off with the beautiful sng that I am listening to now –

Humne dekhi un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo, Haath se chook eisse rishthon ka inzaam na do. Sirf ehsaas hai yeh rooh se mehsoos karo, Pyaar ko pyaar hi rehne do koi naam do

( )

The Best of School Days – Part III

Hmm so we went into our XIIth. Our classes started about 2 weeks earlier than the others. It was supposed to be some bridge course type of thing. What I do remember is that, we were in the 10th std wing. Most of the times; the teachers didn’t come. Some of us spent the time reading the books and making notes. The others had a good time catching up with what was done in the holidays. I must say that those days I was more of a bookworm and couldn’t relate that much with others. It was just study hard, play harder. The times I spent in the playground were to me – a great pressure release mechanism. The games didn’t change much. It was the same old football, volleyball and at times cricket.

Somewhere as we were approaching our quarterly, we faced a mini crisis like scenario. Our Jaggu sir had left. One compsci teacher had left. We didn’t have any Part B teacher. Mohana mam had left too. So that left us with Malathi mam, Naseem mam and matilda mam. We were stretched thin. Somehow the management could get Jaggu sir to have post school classes for us. Pakki was my partner in dreams. The dream of somehow trying to get as close to 500 as possible. Around that time, the Sydney Olympics happened. Marion Jones was vying was 5 Golds. She was my role model then.

Major events that I remember are – our Culturals (we had it this time in TNagar), our sports games and the times spent trying to write some programs or the other. It was while writing programs that I got a first hand experience of witnessing the most brilliant guy in our batch – Mbalaji. In fact I guess most would agree that in our batch he was the whiz kid. And our CSC lab was a second home for him. There were few more geniuses in our midst. A lazy genius who was Sona. A very helpful and modest one who was Rbalaji and an eccentric one who was Santosh Yadav. The breaks were spent with Vaishali and the lunch hour was spent with our luncheon gang – Kalaiarasi, Abi, Deepa, Anandi, Vidhyashankar, Buddi, Vyas and Bhandari. Fri, Sat and Sunday were the days of IIT coaching class. Boring..but had to be tolerated. Midway through I stopped going to those classes.

Somewhere around Dusshera, Sushma came home to spend a month with us. It was one fun filled month. Both of us used to wake up at 4am, make tea and try to study. By 4.30 (having drunk the tea) both of us would be snoring again only to woken up by appa around 6.30. She used to accompany me at times to Jaggu sir’s class and to Sugandha mam’s class. She was a favorite of thaatha and amma.

Quarterly became Half-yearly. Then we had our pre-board stuff and finally we had our study leave just before our Boards. Exams went on decently, though not as good as I would have wanted to. Marion atleast won 3 golds. I couldn’t get even one. The exam that will be etched in my memory is Chemistry. The only reason is because the day before the exam (Or 2 days before – not sure) was the day that VVS and Dravid had that epic day in Kolkata. Buddi and myself were supposed to be studying at that time. Supposed to be!!!

Hmm, so the Korattur gang finished our Boards in various schools. And then we wrote our TNPCEE. That evening when we finished those exams, it happened. Almost as if everyone of us were connecting telepathically. We all with a call or a nod or a shout, congregated near Tony’s house. And played cricket through the evening. It was the first time the entire Korattur gang played cricket after our Xth. Post this till our counseling was over, it was writing one exam after the other (for most of the junta) and visiting one friend’s home after the other (for the others like us). And so, the most important year of our life was over. Some of us went on to study engineering, some to BSC, BCom & CA and some to become Doctors. It was a motley bunch – our batch, spanning right from my 2nd to our XIIth. A wonderful part of my life it was.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A celebration of LIFE

"If you don’t follow your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable."

“Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Don't be resigned to that. Break out! “

Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go”

“It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you”

“There is magic in fighting battles beyond endurance”

Oh well, so there is a fair bit of dialogue eh? These are some of my favorite ones. Million Dollars Baby, Dead Poet’s Society. But the first one is something I listened to today. And man! What a movie and what an actor. It was from World’s Fastest Indian and the actor was Anthony Hopkins. It is supposed to be a real life depiction of some bike fanatic. He plays the lead role, an old guy with a problem in his ticker (that’s his heart). He is from NZ and with a lot of spunk. He goes all the way to US of A to time his bike. (Read more at )

Then there was this movie – Without Limits. This was a bio on Steve PreFontaine. He was a gutsy runner from US; Oregon I think. He died in a car crash and was pretty young. Early 20ish. ( ) and ( )

In my life have I witnessed any such characters? Well there was this Maniraj – who ran the 5000m in our annual sports day. Browne and Bradshaw chipping away to victory against England in Champions trophy, Albert Costa winning handful of 5 setters in French Open after trailing 2 sets to nil, my Avvai kho-kho & Volleyball team during my 12th std and Sampath sir – he took Veda and Sanskrit for us. It was almost like someone forgot to tell them that they aren’t expected to do what they set upon. And what a journey they had and what an experience they gave us! It was inspiring and exhilarating in equal amounts.

And yes, I feel the same euphoria when I listen to Beethoven’s 9th symphony (especially that chorus sends me into a trance)

I wonder when I will give such a performance myself. What is holding me back? Fear of failure? Nothing great will ever be achieved without moving your ass. And when you have got such a derriere as mine, you better get it moving. Inshallah.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The best of School Days – Part II

So I decided to be in the same school for my 11th and 12th.Why? More out of laziness (the school was hardly a minute walk from my house) and the comfort level I had with my friends and teachers.

The first day in school (regardless of which std you are in) is always a nice ‘butterfly in the stomach’ kind of thing. Coming to know who all are there in your class, who is your assigned teacher, what is your timetable – it is a nice feeling. Our XIth was even more special, because you knew 2 things were bound to happen – an influx of new students…and seeing the old guards once again. It was the ‘getting to know who amongst the old guards are still there’ part which was most exciting. Looking back at my school days – my XIth and XIIth brought me closer to some guys and gals with whom I had hardly had a working relation before. I am thankful for that experience.

Ok, so who all did I find?

Old Guards – Shreenath, Vidhyashankar, MBalaji, RBalaji, Prasanna, Kishore, Bhandari, Kalaiarasi, Deepa, Anandhi, Leela, Saraswati, Pratap, KP Vikram, Naresh, Buddi, Sowmya, Srividhya, Rajalakshmi, Vijayalakshmi, VimalaDevi, Subhashree, Ashish.

New Entries – Deepak Paul, Vyas, Rahul, Abirami, Sameer (he left in a yr), Johnny, Sushil, Sushindro, Pratik, Pranita, Sona, Bhagat, Anand Rao, Siddarth, Kishen, Anil, Santosh, Suresh, Benzin, Amin.

I will add on others as I remember them (am getting old you see)

Our class teacher was Latha ma’m. English – Sarah and Matilda mam. Math – Premlatha, Malathi, Arul Selvam. Chem – Jagganathan, Phy – Naseem, Bio – Mohana mam. CSc – Vijayalakshmi mam. There were few more teachers – some who came..saw our pack and left the school too.

The maths thing had a fixed and a variable component to it. A part A which was common to all. And a part B & C which was an option. I chose for part B. There were few more of us – Mbalaji, Santosh, Bhagat, Sona and Benzin.

Maybe it was because of reduced numbers – but we got along well with everybody, both out of necessity and out of our own volition.

While in our 11th – our 12th bunch was a fun gang to be with. In fact through out my school life I have had it easier with my seniors than my juniors.

There was Meks and by association with her – Srilatha, Vinitha, Angeline, Jayanti, Meenakshi, Sujatha, Sowmya, Ashwini and Josephita. Then there were Sabitri, Shraddha, Shailaja, Sunita and Sudha. Then came our Prakash, Vasu, Soma, Eeku, Adarsh, Ganesh and co. And then our masti gang – Suresh, Bipen, Rajesh, Nabin, Nischal, Sumit, Rishi, Jogendro, Jenon, Ajay, Santosh, Biswas (he was my saviour whenever I tore my pants), Brajendra, Neeraj, Biman and others.

We use to go to school in the near abouts of 8am and loiter around our class and the 12th one chit chatting with people. 8.20 we went down for our prayers and came back by 9. at 10.20 I used to go to our 12th to have a chat with them (incidentally I never used to speak with Meks in school. If at all I spoke, only to pull her legs). Key events in our 11th were – Our culturals, our project (2 dramas to boot and an ignominious tamil speakings), a founders day drama on Buddha for which in the last week I fell ill, our sports day – in the run up to our sports day, we had hello of a fun in our volleyball matches and yes….our TNCA cricket match in which we fared better than our 9th std attempt.

Most of the times in our 11th, we didn’t have classes since either the teachers weren’t there or plainly we didn’t want to have a class. So we use to tell Chari ma’m and then go to Games room to take up volleyball and go to play. There was one instance during the board exams of our 12th batch. They made us sit in the reading room besides the library and asked us to keep quiet since the practical was goin on and the external examiners were there. Quietness and our batch is something of an oxymoron. So then they made us walk down and sit in the stage (supposed to be a punishment). But our enjoyment in the stage resulted in more noise than it was in the reading room. I guess, then we were given a mega dosing down. But what the heck…fun it was.

Around that time, I guess HDDCS movie hit the screen. I loved whistling the title song while I was climbing up the stairs of our school. We formed a dumb charades team – Adarsh, Jogin and myself. 1st two competitions we went, we flopped big time. Then we formulated our own ways and voila..we started (well..not winning)…making it to the stage level of the contest J. DAV Culturals and PSBB culfest used to be our main hunting grounds for enjoyment. If you were in BVS 11th, you HAD to go there.

Evening times at school was spent playing volleyball with our hostel guys. Rishi, Khambu and Ajay were the masters of spiking. Amin was a expert booster. Naresh as always was the all-in-all. However in my opinion, the best I have seen in volleyball amongst our guys must be – Bijesh Sah and Bijay Mahato (thank you Ananth for helping me remember their names). They were such a cool customers; Bijesh moved so effortlessly, you would always be thinking there is no way he would get to the ball and still he used to do it. Bijay Mahato was a class. There used to be a radius around him which none in his team cared to enter, coz Bijay was prowling there and it was literally impossible that he miss any ball in his territory.

While in our 11th, we had this match with our 9th guys. We outplayed them completely that we didn’t deem it fit that we play the remaining matches (it was best of 3).

Though I want to say, it was not all about play in 11th; truth was. Of course there was this IIT coaching which we went to – Vidhya, Srini, Buddi, myself, SBalaji, MBalaji, Srik, Marla and co to SBOA school. What I remember most about those classes are; our times spent in nearby restaurant on Sundays and the vaer-kadalai shop near the bus stop in Anna Nagar. So much for our ‘IIT Coaching’

We gave our 12th guys a good farewell. Johnny enthralled the audience with a very rubbery dance. We went about our studies and then entered our XIIth, which we heard everyone say is the most important year of our lives.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sue kar...Mere Mann Ko..Kiya Tune Kya Ishaara...

So after 1 month in my new place, I had contact with my family…when business brought my chachu and appa to Delhi. Then they came down to Ludhiana on Friday night. We had a good reunion of sorts, the likes of which one can understand when their family elders are more of friends and less of ‘Elders’.

The next day, the three of us hired a cab and started to Amritsar. Was I really looking forward to this trip? Well, I wanted to spend time with appa and sithappa and they wanted to go there. So it was a win-win. In between, we stopped at Beas. There was some satsang thingie called Radha Soami Satsang. It was a large expanse of land, very nicely maintained by Sevadars and used for satsang activites which I guess is supposed to be some sort of mass congregation and prayer which doesn’t have any religion bias. It probably uses the strength of collective prayer as against individual prayer. I would relate this thing to the SHG analogy, where each member by themselves have little money, but when they pool in everyone’s…it turns out to be a tidy sum. Same with prayers. We had 2 good guides who took us around – Kartar singh and Amritpal Singh. They loved speaking and we loved listening.

As we were about to leave the place, heavens poured down. It rained like hell. Was nice. Onwards we drove to Amritsar, reaching the Golden temple by around 2pm. As we stepped in, tying the hanky to our head like a bandana and scrubbing/washing our feet at the entrance of the Gurdwara, I was wondering how is it that I am able to mend myself to suit the customs of Sikhs, while I hate to think that I should be following the localized customs when I enter the temple of Guruvayur, Kanchipuram and other such places down south. More of it..later.

Anyways, as we were washing our feet, I was reminded of the scene in RDB as the gang and Kiron Kher enter the gurdwara with Ik Onkar in the BG. Alas, there was no Sue…only chachu and appa J It was a majestic sight, this Golden temple. And a serene on too with the gurbaani (that’s what I think it was) being sung in the background. This was also the first time in…I guess 2-3 years that I had set foot in a temple out of my own volition. So it was all the more special. A little thank you for all the blessing that have been showered, few clicks of camera to preserve the moment for posterity and then we were coming out of this place.

Besides the Golden Temple is the Jallianwala Bagh. That was where we went next. The entrance to that place was more of a narrow passage. It led us to a huge garden like memorial maintained in memory of those brethren of ours who were massacred. The walls are still the same blackened red brick. One could almost look into the past as to what could have happened there. Around 2000 people were reported to have been shot here…ruthlessly. There was this ‘Shaheed ka Kuan’ – the well where as a last resort a deluge of people jumped into. It was roughly 2.5mts X 1.5mts well. It seems almost 120 bodies (if not more) were retrieved from here. Was it the general dampness or something else, but you could feel the stench like odour there – a wailing dog in a nearby neighbourhood mad the moment even more poignant, almost like listening to the wailing and drowning people inside the well amidst firing of bullets. It was an emotionally draining experience. For once I could in some faint way relate to the fury and anguish Jews have remembering the Holocaust, the Lankan refugees have in thinking about what IPKF did in their land, what the Iraqis must be feeling on seeing the US force in their land, what our NE brethrens must be feeling on the highhandedness of our force, ….a sense of helplessness amongst those who witness such atrocities and a fierce minded resoluteness amongst those who survive…to show their finger to the perpetrators and show that theirs is a soul that cannot be tamed, that will not be tamed – no matter what the consequences. For a second I thought I could have murdered any bloody perpetrators of crime. Probably this is how they indoctrinate all youth into terrorism. Show them the gory part of part had happened, appeal to their emotions and be biased heavily towards action and retaliation rather than look at the issues logically and try nderstanding both point of views. No clicking of pics here. Just trying to connect with those people; who had laid down their lives here.

Hmm…so post Jallianwala Bagh we went to the Wagah border. Initially I was thinking, if I could convince appa into giving it a miss. But then thought ki..chalo..lets have a is not often you get to come here. The place was good, wouldn’t say it was imposing..but there was a feel to it that I am unable to explain. You had both the Indian and Pakistani flags waving proudly one besides the other. A 5 min walk, and you would be into Pakistan; the often maligned, often vilified land where most of the population is just like us trying to live a normal life and dealing with their day to day problems. It is only the fundamentalists, politicians and other scums who make an issue out of anything and everything and try fomenting hatred. Farook, Usman, Qureishi….my ex colleagues were no different to me than Srikant, Vidhya and Balaji. They too had their family, their parents worrying over their education, they themselves trying to find meaning to their lives much as we do it here.. We hit along quite well, respected each other and enjoyed each other’s presence. And yet the one thing which disturbed me at the Wagah border was the huge congregation of Indians on one side and Pakistanis on the other for the flag lowering ceremony. What should have ideally been a good entertainment and get2gether for people across the became a show of nationalism. Shouts of ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’ was renting the air on this side. While this momentarily sent a shiver down my spine and made me feel euphoric, I soon felt what a fragile situation it was. One inadvertent shout from our side about the Pakistanis or from the Pakistanis about the Indians and the whole place had the capacity to explode with emotions which even the well meaning soldiers wouldn’t be able to prevent. I would prefer either no shouting of national feelings…or much like you see in football matches; while one team’s anthem is being sung, the other team should respect it and then the 1st team would reciprocate the same gesture as the 2nd anthem was on. Well, anyway my views are mine..others may feel different. Giving out such views will also earn you the tag of a pseudo-secularist. What the heck. I believe in humanity. I have my own baser instincts, but I do realize that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is never an ever lasting solution.

We believe education is supposed to get us rid of all biases and prejudices. But my empirical experience has been that such prejudices tend to get stronger among the educated class. Yes they may not wear it on their sleeves like the mass does. But it takes the more sinister form; talk all nice goody-goody things when the peer is there (be him a Pakistani, a Muslim, a SC/ST, a Brahmin…neone) and show your true colors when they are not there….or when you enjoy the security of the mass (or the mob).