Sunday, December 18, 2005

That was. This is.

‘Behti hui lehron ke saath to har koi tair leta hai,
Asli insaan wahi hai jo lehron ko cheerkar aage badhe’

These words from ‘Ghulam’ come running to my mind as I look at those five odd boats standing strong against the march of waters. The fishermen on the boat are holding onto the nets and traps which will bring food for their families. They ride the ocean like warriors, like men possessed.

Away from the noise of traffic and machines and life, the roar of the ocean brings peace to mind and the madness of wind makes you feel alive. The trees running along the beach as far the eyes can see and the huge waves jumping madly in the joy of having found the long lost shores make every heart fill with wild enthusiasm. Here on this earth almost every heart is gay.

There are no bikinis around and even men here prefer huge shorts (if we can call these as shorts, some are even in trousers or lowers). Girls give a cry of joy every time the waves kiss their feet. The Sarees and the Salwars get their share of sand and salt. Yes, this is also a beach, like any beach you would have seen in Baywatch and a small sunday crowd, unlike any crowd you could have seen in Baywatch.

Perfect place for few quite moments. No one to disturb, if you don’t consider that little kid who just won one rupee from me. At some places heaven do exist in this world. And still if you want the whole beach for yourself come here on any week day. No stalls or beach restaurants just few cycle peddlers trying to walk there cycles on the sand. It’s a beautiful day, as beautiful as any day can be.

Sitting half under the shadow of a boat I try to take in the vastness of the waters. The waters are happy, having found their ways from all around to be a part of the giant. Some hundred miles away the storm is gathering all the forces and is marching towards the land. The last one was kind and changed its path before bringing the destruction. It was BAAZ. Let’s pray FANOOS is also kind on mankind.

The boat seems to be out of use. Only being used by the kids to play and rarely acting as a ladies room. I look at the boat and that cardboard boat brings smile on my face. What a hard time we had getting those giants of card boards cut and then screwed (or rather bolted) together.

I don’t really remember the name of the play, was it Maut (death) or was it Ant (end). Bhool and Sharma were, and are, brilliant actors and we decided that the set won’t let them down this time. The event depicted in the play happens on a beach. So we got all this big card boards and some how managed to cut them into this huge boat shape. Screwing them together was a big trouble and those card boards kept on falling apart. Deepi, Hills and me had real tough time getting that boat ready and those stones, Ha!!, brown paper folded into spheres which were not so spherical. And that spray was an ingenious idea from Hills. It was our second year at IIT. We still had that RCA enthu in those days. The team effort paid, Sharma was best actor and Aravali second.
The white cloth with blue stripes of paint, the sound of waves coming from synth along with our upturned screwed up boat and more than many brown paper stones hardly made the stage look and sound like a beach. But once Sharma and Bhool weaved their magic, the beach had come alive.

The cycle peddler brings me back to Kakinada beach. The beach is getting livelier as the evening progresses. He wants me to buy something. He speaks Telugu and I can’t understand what he is selling. Being the only Sardar here every seller and beggar (though very few are here) is tempted to try their luck. I gave him two rupees without knowing what I am shopping. Moongphali it was.

The fishermen are pulling up their nets. Its getting dark and they have to get their catch to the beach, sort it out and move it to the market before it gets dark. It is time to go home.

Our card board boat looked beautiful just like this boat the kids are still playing with. We were proud of our effort. After the play was over we forgot the boat. It had served its purpose. Actually we had planned to bring back the boat to the hostel and keep it as a trophy for all those night outs we put in stitching it together. Someone must have made similar plans for this boat. The card boards must have burnt well in the winter night helping the security guard keep the cold away. This boat waits.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Hopping Cream

Well this is a continuation of the discussion which one of my dear friends started and I got to look at those pages now. Please visit and do look at Hop Hop Hop! and The Right People For A Poor Nation.

Taking up a job, going for MS, MBA, IAS or even starting up a firm is matter of a personal choice. More often than not the choice is defined by the circumstances and society of each individual. Around 50% of IITians finish their studies on scholarships and loans and by the time they are graduates many responsibilities are staring them. Yes nation is also their responsibilty but to every Indian family comes first. So a job is often the most appropriate choice and solution to the present need and the future.

Not all the IITians are bound to opt for jobs after their degrees and they can start out on a mission impossible of helping out this poor nation by starting up a firm but the question here remains is what a person aspires to be. What are the things an individual wants in the life and most importantly by the end of the life. Most IITians given a choive would rather not be IITians, it’s the society that pushes the intelligent and hard working to go for IITs (not that others are not intelligent and hard working, its just that these few got lucky on the day of exams and became part of the cream of the nation). Hardly 10% of graduates from IITs are actually engineers, we generally just pass our courses and minimum requirements for the degree. So the question is what an individaul aspires for and what all is required for him/her to live out the life in the way the person plans to live it. And its not neccesarry that a startup is the right answer for it. After all you have got only one life and you would surely not want it to be blown away for the cause of a nation which hardly recognises any thing except one Sachin. Even Dhanraj Pillay or for that matter Ganguly don’t matter these days.

As far as helping the nation goes even taking a job helps the nation. You pay the taxes to the govt. (it’s a different thing that taxes are used to help our politicains live like kings). And if we work for a US based company in india we pay the taxes and the company pays our country the foreign exchnage. And if we work outside, I wont believe if you say that you don’t send money back home. Again we send foreign exchange. I agree these are very small and insignificant contributions but every individual has to live out his own life and take care of his/her family also. If we say that people go and settle out it is again the choice they made. But we should not grudge their choices but see what all we can do at our individual level.

If we sincerely do our jobs no matter how small or big we are helping our nation. Only IITians cant make this poor nation rich and this nation is actually not as poor, but developing a country is every citizen's responsibility. And startups are not the only way to develop a country.

It can be looked upon like this. Even if I start a company I would be making products for someone, using soemone's technology, selling my technology to someone, buying someone's products, selling someone's product and selling someone my products. And more often than not that someone will be US or other countries. The company will pay taxes to the govt. and bring in foreign exchange, which even an IITian with a job does. Of course the companies bring employment.

I sincerely envy the guys who have the guts and courage of starting a firm after graduation. These few are dreamers who are ready to make them real, not like me. But in real life things are some time too real. So here I am helping my nation by paying taxes.

And saying that 25k per month is not what we deserve is totally inappropriate. We hardly know anything about work when we graduate. These companies are actually paying us to learn. All those years at IIT rarely help in our jobs. And even staring at excel sheets and making sense out of these takes intelligence and courage. If every IITian is to start a new firm who will run the companies that exist not that others can’t. I may not be the CEO of my company but I may one day be the CEO of some company. It again is the matter of choice.

If we eventually chose a job, which most of us does, then comes the most difficult and most common question of hopping. Hop Hop Hop, why? Deepi is almost right when he says “They havent quite started and they are already hopping.” But again hopping in this shark infested corporate world is as essential as food is for living. There is this other side which he has not seen and I have seen partly. Its already have two hops to my credit and one more and I will be on your blacklist bugsy :) . Its very similar to giving more than one entrance exams for getting into professional colleges, doing MBA or IAS after engineering. It is essentialy human to do such things like hop hop and hop. Human nature to go for the best.

We always strive to achieve best for ourselves in any way we can. That’s why we mugged like anything to get into IITs at first. And if we are the best in the nation, the cream, than if an indiviadual thinks that he/she has a better oportunity why not grab it. But again this corporate world is not as it may appear. No matter how much we research about a company we cant actually find what is in store for us unless we actually join a firm. I joined a firm which promised 4.6 lacs per annum. They paid around 2 rest all was lost in some finance and accountancy tricks. The company is good but not the pay. I got another opportunity. HOP. This one actually pays 4 but the work some how is not what I could motivate myself to do. Got another opportunity. HOP. Lets hope for the best now.

Hopping immediately after joining a firm is a crime becuase we cant judge a company in two weeks or one month. It would be best to give every job a chance may be a year or a half before you hop, but again its true that like you should go for a startup when young you can only hop when fresh from college. Every individual has to settle down before its time that the liabilities build up. Hence, hopping also occurs when legs are young.I agree that hop hop hop is wrong but finding right place where a person fits well, finding right kind of work which a person likes takes time and we learn only when we make mistakes and from our experiences and hence the quest for finding a job which pays well (most imp), suits a person and which promises a future is what everyone strives for. And not everyone is lucky enough to get that kind of job at the campus recruitments.

I also had the same views that seniors do harm to the college name when they hop. Its tragic that people do sometimes bring bad name to the institutes by the way they work and the way they grow/stop their relationships with a company. But it is not always the case. And its also sad on the part of companies part to take an individual’s behaviour as an institute behaviour. From my personal experience and my two hops I can assure my juniors that those companies are happy with the performance of an IIT Delhite and they will come and recruit in future. I guess if we all can ensure this than our juniors wont suffer. Even if an individual has to leave a firm within a week or a month of joining , the situation can be very well explained to company you are leaving. Leave a company like a professional, don't run like a criminal.

Companies not coming to IITD because of seniors hopping is a very wrong statement. It essentially is a blame we humans put on others for our misfortunes. Believe me when I say this, graduates from other IITs hop more than Delhites do but the companies go there and recruit. The thing is the lack of initiative which students show in Delhi. There are few enthusiasts that take up responsibilty and involve themselve in the process and activities of traning and placement cell. But often I have seen these involvements end with a good job for themselves. So essentially this is where IITD lacks: A healthy student involvement in TnP activities. All other IITs get their job quotas filled much before Delhi only because we wont involve ourselves. I know TnP cell and how pathetic it is, but where is our involvement.

Its easier to preach I guess. I never involved myself in such activities. I had the enthusiasm but I guess I directed it toward some other activities. It’s a gud excuse for not getting into TnP activities. That was where I wronged. I wish my juniors have better sense. We guys can find lakhs of rupees for Rendezvous and Sportech, we can find colleges for socials :P, we surely can bring companies to the campus.

Few things which students can take care of and ensure better placement results. The general studs are requested not to sit for those companies which they actually plan not to join and just want to go to group discussions for their practise. Let others clear the GDs. Acad studs are requested not to apply for those universities which they plan not to join. Let others get a call and a schol. Chennai has a good system for this.

All things about placements, hopping and staying in country and working for the nation all boil down to personal choice. A person wont spend his time in a company for his juniors or for the good name of institute. Every individual has the right to decide what path is best for his/her career, which company is best and whether there will be 3 or 10 hops before a person lands at the place which suits him/her. But reckless hopping can be avoided. And as far as the nation goes, if an Indian grows India will.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lord of Back Benches

He was feeling a little tired. It was physics class and that teacher had no idea what physics was all about. He had been the best student of Onkar Singh, which meant that this teacher could take few lectures in physics from him. He decided some rest will be great and will make other lectures a little easy to bear.

About half an hour after the class started Prof. Harpreet (I am not sure his name was Harpreet, but I am dead sure he was never a Prof, lets call him pH) noticed him. After a lot of pointing, pin pointing, re-pointing, calling, shouting and many other ing’s pH was able to make that fellow raise his head from the bench. He has been sleeping well. The sleep on a bench in a lecture is the best sleep in a student’s life.

pH had been looking for an opportunity to set him right. His questions always made pH look silly. pH asked him why he was sleeping in the class. “You think you know all the physics”. ‘Maybe not whole but more than you know’ he thought. He raised his sleepy, lazy body a bit higher. He had undone few buttons of his shirt. It was pretty hot and that 1962 fan still going strong in 1999 was in real need of some concepts of physics. The efficiency of the iron giant had increased from 30% conversion of electrical energy into sound to 100% sound.

“Get up. Is this Shalimar Bagh?” I had never found anything charming in Shalimar Bagh, but everybody used this term to refer a useless kind of luxury. Of course it was not Shalimar Bagh. Today pH was in no mood of letting him win the argument. pH rushed and raised his right hand, but he was not as sleepy as pH had thought. That hand was stopped midway, and pH was in Principal’s office before he could redo those buttons.

He, pH, Principal, his hostel warden and Pricipal’s office. Five minutes of hearing from one ear and letting it out of other and he was back to that last bench. That day the spirit of back benchers won. Though he never realized but the journey toward LBB had begun.

LBB: Lord of back benches. There are many special features of this species.

They are most probably found in the last one or two rows in the lecture halls, most probably because some times they are found out (we will discuss this).
They never look like Lords, unless of course they are at their best which essentially means they are sleeping on their thrones (read benches).
There can be more than one lord at the same time for a given bench, depending upon three B’s. How big the Bench is? How Boring the lecture is? How big the Butts are?
They don’t believe in refusing. There is no LOC on back benches. Everybody is invited. After all the number of LBB’s decide the average grade in a course.
If a particular lecturer is a lady and she happens to be good looking one, the number of LBB’s is drastically reduced, which essentially proves that LBB’s are also humans.

There are many other features and each LBB is like the last living being of a nearly extinct species.

So after that moral victory over pH I was like a champion back bencher. Never too bad at academics I never cared much about pH and how acidic or basic my final score sheet he can make. I lost five points in my physics practical but that sleep on back benches is worth n points. n = total points – passing points. Even LBB’s are supposed to get there promotions to next levels and better back benches. Passing points can never be compromised, after all beds are also supposed to be slept on.

At IIT the back benches had extra advantages attached to it. That 75% attendance rule always ensured that the cream of the nation had there alarms up and working. And the design of the lecture halls ensured that the alarms were comfortably set till the last few minutes of the lecture when you can sneak in like a 007 and slip your ass on to the back bench. The 75% rule made more LBB’s than any of those deadly boring professors.

But sometimes it was unavoidable. You can’t beat the Prof. You can’t beat the room design. And you can’t beat the course content. A tough (fighter in IIT lingo) course and you have to show your dumb sleepy face to the Prof. No chance of proxies. Such tough and hard situations brought the best out of LBB’s and the real Lords showed there character. LBB’s found holding on to there beloved thrones were the men (rarely a lady) of substance and to be looked on with respect.

LBBs sometime preferred a stroll outside. When proxies were easy or the prof was cool about the attendance bullshit. One of our profs was real smart. He took attendance both at the start and end of the class. But the door behind those back benches was his unknown foe. The class which had around 60 students during first and last five minutes had 15 short for rest of the lecture. I told you LBBs sometime preferred a stroll outside.

When asked the reason of being LBB you get to listen all kind of responses. No response is the most common response.

“We back benchers believe in healthy competition. Let the lesser brains learn.”
“Like least distance of distinct vision everyone has a least distance of distinct learning, and in our case it always happens to be the maximum distance from the sources of noise (which by the way are professors).”
“Making notes in class costs a copy and a pen. Getting notes photocopied costs 50 paise per page. Sleeping in class priceless.” This one must be carrying a lot of VISA cards in his pocket.

And it is a fact that without LBBs the number of machines that Xerox sells would fall drastically. LBBs play their part in running the economy.

LBBs are the favorite students of teachers (though they will never admit this fact). LBBs never ask questions and whenever teachers want to look really intelligent and smart, they can simply ask a stupid question to those back benchers.

And from the back benches people learn much more about the lives of people sitting in that room. From observing the dogs that sleep in the lecture halls to the new preferences of the ladies in the class, nothing goes unobserved from those LBBs. Sometimes they also wish to be sitting butt to butt with those rare beauties, but than back benches are not as choosy as the one or two non-males you get in engineering colleges.

Apart from the attendance rule and boring profs there are many reasons we have LBBs. Very obvious being the existence of back benches. Also there are many tasks which are much more important like reading novels, writing, and the best one being playing games and making sketches of the profs. Believe me many talents take birth on those few benches.

All said and done. Back benches rock. Back benchers rule. Hail the lords.

PS: In keeping with the LBB tradition I would like to thank Rohinton Mistry for coining the term, LBB. I really don’t know if he coined the term or he also stole it like me.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Fine Balance

“It won’t sell. Someone has to die” replied Sharon when Michael said why it can’t be a happy ending. This is the ‘Basic Instinct’ of creative minds. It has to be sellable!!!

Did you ever think if Jai could have lived last 10 minutes as well, what would have been the fate of Sholay? Why Bruce had to die in Armageddon? Why Sirius and Dumbledore had to die? Do all these deaths make the stories sellable?

The question here is why the person, who gives life to these characters, takes it away so mercilessly. Did they feel the pain a father or mother would feel when they lose their kid?

The very obvious answer could be the need of the story. The bigger, probably better and a holistic view; an author is the creator of the story and not individual characters. It’s the story that is important and the rest happens to bring that story alive. The author gives birth to a story, nourishes it like a parent. It’s a normal parental behaviour to do whatever you could for a bright future of your child. Killing few characters is better than killing Sanjay for Rajiv or attacking Golden Temple for votes. It is no crime. Isn’t it?

Literature helps us exercise compassion for others. Literature helps us learn how to cry for others, be happy for others. ‘Others’ are the lives which we think were created when we were there, the lives which were lived in front of our eyes. Not only literature but any media be it cinema, theatre, TV. The reader/viewer lives those lives and feels the joys and the pains. But there is already enough pain in our day to day lives that we can do with some happy endings. But again there are no happy endings, they are happy in betweens before the end comes. The end separated from the thread. A thread rolled in a circle, confusing the ends for a while.

I guess I am drifting away from what I actually started to write about. A Fine Balance.

Rohinton Mistry. He writes brilliantly and writes truth. But ever since I have finished reading ‘A Fine Balance’ I feel like I have been cheated. Like life has been cheated. I fell in love with the book as I was reading it, as I was living it. The struggles of Dina, the misery of Om and Ishwar and the way Dukhi fought all those odds to give a better life to his next generations and I loved Maneck Kohlah, for his was a heart of gold. Somewhere I could attach my life with the lives that were being lived in those pages. And I also felt attached to Rohinton; he hates Indira Gandhi as much as I do.

“It won’t sell, someone has to die”. I wish Rohinton would have left them struggling with their misery in the first place. Why give hope when all you want to do is take away even the struggle. When all you want is to make a story. Why take a beggar away from the crowds, make him travel in a beautiful carrier, through beautiful plains, hills, and the rivers and over oceans, just to leave him at a place where there is no crowd to even beg from. Why a story has to be sellable?

Don’t know why but somehow the end is always cruel, no matter what is ending or what the end is. May be because it’s the end. When Samwise Gamgee returned after seeing off Frodo Baggins at the Havens, it was a happy ending. But still I felt the pain in Sam’s voice and heart when he said, “I am back”. I guess ‘End’ always sell. But again some Ends sell more than the others.

We live a story and we won’t want our life or our loved ones life to be the one which makes this world sellable. A life which becomes the winning ticket of a politician’s election campaign. A life which gives the news channels 24 hours of news. A life on which a movie like ‘Philadelphia/Phir Milenge’ will be made. A life which will be awarded a ‘Param Vir Chakra’ posthumously. A life which makes a sellable story.

I am all confused right now; don’t know what I should be writing next. How to make the point? There are more buts and whys than I would have liked. I guess I will have to wait till I get someone who is ready to die for my story. Till that time my story will wait. It’s not sellable yet.

Such a long journey and a finely balanced unbalance.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Summer of ‘03

That summer many things changed. For him and his world. He found someone who will be the love of his life. He never knew that he had found that love. A baby was born. He was unaware. He should have been there to take care of that baby. He was far away. He didn’t see the things that were happening to him and his world.

It was a summer full of heat, rains, play, it was a good summer, a summer full of fun. I can’t remember investing so much time on myself, which essentially means I can’t remember wasting so much time. It was like a bird learning to fly. I was a free bird and I had the wings or rather the wings were growing and I was so excited to learn how to fly. Now that I look back I hardly learned anything that summers, not till it was very late.

The second semester for the year was over at IIT Delhi. My sixth semester and all the ‘would be final year’ students were required to do an internship (for 50 working days or 400 working hours, at least). It was the summer of 2003.

Like many others I also had plans of an internship abroad. The idea always excited me. I guess everybody makes a fight for internship which takes you to US, Europe or any other country which you find worth a trip for, a free trip. So there I was, sitting in the institute computer centre, finding contacts for all kind of companies, mailing them. I was never good at making a fight out of anything, at least not till than. I only got one response. “Thanks for your interest in our company. We don’t offer internships. Good luck for the future.” May be this one wish brought me luck, few months later. So after all the time I could waste on my “Videsh Chalo” mission there I was standing in the ‘Q’ outside Mr. Bhatnagar’s office (“Bhatti, the Tatti” as few among us referred to him as). The ‘Q’ was a bit long. Many missions had failed that year, I guess. I got USHA SHRIRAM (INDIA). They make electrical home appliances, I was told.

The semester ended around 5th of May and I had one full week to arrange for a comfortable summer ahead. Veeru’s PC moved to my room. Swimming pool pass, a database of movies and FRIENDS. All the books I could find. Summers looked promising.

It was 13th of May and there I was, with Deepak Garg, at the company’s office. Rishi was there before us. He was waiting in the lobby. And guess what? Then we waited in the lobby till they took us to a visitor’s room. And there again, we waited. It was one hell of a wait. The company wasn’t expecting any trainees from IIT. They had written to the Training and Placement cell and as with every other company, they too got no reply. The company had waited long enough. The company presumed no body was coming and took trainees from other colleges. But we were still waiting. After a lot of confusion and many phone calls and more waiting, one of the managers (an ex-IITian) told us that we will be taken in. He will find some work. At least this waiting thing was finally over.

And he did find us some work. The work began next morning and ended the same morning. Yes!!! We were shown around the research lab (what they research there is still a mystery to all) and we were shown the room where we will be sitting. The work for 50 working days or 400 working hours was over. We were supposed to find a project for ourselves and work on it on our own, make a report for ourselves and keep it in our own rooms. Another wait started the wait for 50 days to pass. And they paid us 5000 bucks per month (10,000 bucks for the summers and NO TAXES!!!). Nothing gets better!!!

We went to office for first 5 to 7 days regularly. Next week may be two times. Next two weeks may be one day a week. And next month we went there to get our certificates and the cheque. In short we hardly went to the office. No, internship gets better (unless of course it’s a paid foreign trip, Ah! It hurts!!!).

It was the best summers I had at IIT. After initial few days at work (lets assume it was work), daily routine took some shape. I would read books (one book at a time), sleep, eat, watch movies (again, one at a time), eat, sleep and do these over and over and over. I hardly left the room. The morning trip to the swimming pool was an exception. Tried my best to learn how to swim but there was this cool babe in at that time. So could not concentrate on learning. It was a good one hour bath daily.

My sister had D-school entrance exam in last week of May. Aman and elder brother came. I booked room for them in institute guest house. We went around the campus and had dinner at Mezbaan (Actually the name is Secular House Canteen but ’47, ’84, ’92 were not long back. In a hardly secular place ‘Janta’ preferred to call this place Mezbaan. It sounds better and fits the place even better). They were not speaking much or I just thought so. Next day after the exam we spent some time at India Gate and then they went back. Back to home. Ah! Home. I wanted to go too but had to get that training certificate first. It was nearly six months since I met mom and dad. I remember calling home few times that summer. Dad used to be out at the farm. Once mom and dad had gone to visit relatives, Aman told me. Some times I do miss my village, only some times.

‘The Order of the Phoenix’ was released that summer. Rishi got me the book from his girlfriend. One sitting of 21 hours and the book was finished. Harry lost his Godfather and his parents once again. And Mr. Garg lost the dare. He said 24. I gave him 36. He couldn’t finish the book even in seven days. At the party he gave us, Rishi and I ended up paying more than he did.

That summer I started chatting on yahoo. I was not really interested in chatting and spending time just like that. I preferred to waste time in a better way. But I have a habit of picking up bad habits and then this person (a girl) caught my attention, and it was first time in my life a girl was really interested in talking to me. And talking to a girl and not sweating was a new experience for me. I found myself waiting for 2300 hrs. She got online around this time. I preponed the Nescafe visits with Hriday to suit this schedule though he never knew why. And to tell you the truth nor did I, not till some time later. It was such a summer. I never knew that seconds were accumulating, not passing. Accumulating into hours and days, to be feared, loved and lived later. It was such a summer.

In two months I watched around 60 movies, many more than once, read 10-12 books, watched most of the FRIENDS and downloaded tones of songs using Kazza. Apart from passing days like this nothing much happened. July came and it was time to finish the internship. Though I didn’t required the report for the certificate, it was required by the great Bhatti. Spent few hours modeling a storage type water heater (read geyser). Pujo did the rest. Some coding in MATLAB and I had an impressive report ready (though the ex-IITian manager found out the flaws in the report in 5 minutes, Bhatti the Tatti could not, Pujo got his treat).

Our home is the first in the village when you come from the town. Mom met me on the road. “Beta, we are lucky. God was with us. Nothing happened. Everything is going to be alright”. What was mom talking about? All along the way from town folks were behaving oddly, but they generally behaved oddly with us, kids of ‘Doctor Sahab’. Mom was saying something as I entered the house. I was trying to make some sense out of what she was saying. She looked much older than last time. I was just away for few months. And than all the riddles presented their answer. Standing in a corner my cousin Preet was massaging someone’s leg. The leg looked lifeless. Lying on the old wooden bed, I saw a man who looked like my father.

I had never seen my father cry. Not in his earlier life. This one was a new life.

It was the night of 14th may. He was going to Jalandhar ‘Sabji Mandi’ to sell vegetables. It was a good crop that year. The truck was traveling at over 80kmphr. The driver was too tired to drive. It was past midnight. He dozed off and the truck hit a ‘keekar’ tree. Only dad was injured.
“He was in between the truck and the tree”. “They left him lying on the road wrapped in a blanket for hours”. “Your mother saved him”. “You were lucky to get such a good doctor”. I heard the incident many times over next few days. I lived it in that first moment. “After his operations (he had many) he looked like a baby. A skeleton and a cover of skin.” They had shaved of his head and beard. He was so mad when brother cut his hair. God is not fair sometimes, but he gave him his life and that is His fairness I guess.

He was in ICU for 31 days. He walks with support. He lost his voice. But when he first became conscious, on third day after the accident, he told mom and brother not to call me. I had very important training going on and should not be worried. Yes, God is fair sometimes. I look at my father after two months of accident and it’s the biggest shock I ever had.

Mom and I are inside and mom is telling me all that happened. I have been holding the lump in the throat. Mothers can feel you inside. “Cry son, don’t hold it back”. And than I cried there in my mothers lap. I cried for the best summers I had. The summer of ’03.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Let's Kill...

John Travolta and Nicholas Cage are pointing guns at each other. One is asking other to give him his face back. I am not sure who is asking whom. Why? They are speaking Telugu. ‘Face off’ in Telugu looks funny.

Ek munda meri umar da, ji dekho dilon ki baatein nahi jaanta’.
Mamta Kulkarni sings for Salman. It is hard to make this reborn Salman fall in love. The avatars of ‘Karan Arjun’ will once again prove that for a movie director impossible is nothing. Good luck Thakur Durjan Singh. Rakhi ke Karan Arjun aayenge. After all ‘Ye bandhan to pyar ka bandhan hai, janmon ka sangam hai’.

Raj Thakrey resigns. ‘Thakrey banam (Vs) Thakrey’ is the headline. The battle for top post in Shiv Sena seems to be near explosion. At 80 Bal Thakrey is not the person he used to be. Even Udhav and Raj are not the successors he would have truly wished for. Shiv help your Sena.
PS: BCCI your pitches are safe as of now.

Move on…

[V] ‘Kiss na’ sings a song. Guess if he got to kiss the girl in Kalyug. Anyone wants to bet if Emraan Hashmi took some special training.

Star Sports: ‘It takes more than a run, more a wicket and more than a catch to get on HITZ. Michael Vaughan scores a brilliant hundred against the mighty Aussies. Who would have thought England will give this treatment to the champions. Don’t know if you are interested in cricket but this Ashes was one hell of a series.

I am in Andhra Pradesh, that means most of the channels are in languages which are beyond my pea size knowledge. No problems. Just move on…

Z Cinema: Sameera Reddy just saved Anil Kapoor from a train and from Sanjay Dutt. Sanju dada looks dashing on his Royal Enfield. The ‘Musafir’ gets the girl and a bag full of cash. TEZ DHAARR...

Z Café: Hey!! It’s FRIENDS. Joey and Rachel are trying their luck at the sex thing. Chandler is busy spreading the joy. Poor Ross is busy getting tanned on the wrong side. And Phoebe is stuck with Scrappy Monica. HOW YOU DOIN?

I don’t generally give more than a passing glance to channels like Discovery, History, Animal planets and like. It is much better too know less about the world. What is the point in knowing what misery all people are living or dying in. The same goes with the news channels. I mean except death destruction, natural or gift from one man to the other, gift from one Osama to US, gift from the other bigger powerful Osama (read Bush) to Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s the same story everywhere on all these channels. Plus the journalists these days suck. Use common sense, move on…

Tom Cruise fights for a cause. The Last Samurai. Death and destruction. Move on…
Some special task force in a hindi clip doing encounters to eradicate the bad people. Death and destruction. Move on…
Main prem ki deewani hoon. Hrithik, Kareena. Can’t get worse. They suck. Move on…

Z Trendz: Sometimes I wonder where in the world the ladies wear clothes which cover only one of the two in the front and none of the two in the rear. Move on… (though I will come back here for sure)

Star One: Oh it’s not Friday, and it’s not 10 pm on Friday. Move on…

Still reading!! Move on…

Got a TV. Got cable connection (necessary). Got a remote control (not necessary though).
What are you waiting for? Start browsing through channels. Over and over again.

Let’s kill some time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Gladiators

“Win the crowd and you will win your freedom”.

That’s what I have done all these years and if I have to believe myself it is impossible to win freedom as long you are breathing. I have no experience of the freedom after you stop breathing. Let’s see if I can write one blog from up there.

For Maximus it was easy, kill and win. He knew what he had to do. Avenge his wife and son’s murder. He was a great Gladiator because he had the skill and he knew what he wanted and what he was doing (plus he was in reel life). But in real life we, the gladiators, have a little different game at hands. There is no crowd watching us, cheering us, living and dying with us but they are there. More dangerous than they would be if they would sit in an arena and watch us play our lives.

This crowd doesn’t work on the win-win philosophy. You have to lose in order to win the crowd. And sometimes it is even worse. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter at all, you can’t win the crowd.

Who is this crowd and why we are gladiators. The answers lie deep down the earth where SMALL G (g) is equal to (=) ZERO (0) THAT IS (i.e.) g = 0. It is the pull of crowd that makes gladiators. Pull of doing great things for the crowd, being recognized and being remembered by the crowd, living a comfortable life and God knows what other thousands of pulls there are. And hence the point where g = 0 gets buried deep down those covers of pulls. These pulls and covers start taking shape the moment you are conceived in your mother’s womb. The gladiator is born before you, me, we, everybody is born.

And for this gladiator there is no one waiting in the other world. The ones who love him are also the part of that crowd. The crowd is what a gladiator lives for, lives with, dies for and dies without.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

It’s my third job in just over a year. Don’t really know if life has been good but it’s moving along well, like a Bombay local. Picking up mornings and dropping them at their respective evenings, some held on till night.

But this one is not a Bombay local. I am sitting in a train in Andhra P. Don’t know the trains name, where it starts or where its going. I nearly missed it or rather just caught it by few seconds, some confusion between two drivers as to who was to pick me from the hotel. This is the third consecutive journey where I have been the last one to arrive.

I am in and the metals have started grinding against each other. The round one thinks it is better, it gets to see the world, other knows it gets to see the world longer and better. Some times its good to be still in life.

I have to edit a word document so I took out my laptop to work and started working on different document, this one. Two side berths (actually one) are/is occupied by a two lovers (I guess so by the way they are… lets not discuss the way they are…).

Mukesh sings (with the help of Windows Media Player, Thx Bill Gates!!)

Teri yaad dil se mitane chala main apni hasti mitane chala hoon..

I am missing delhi…

I am trying to play some songs for the couple. But actually ending up playing depressing numbers…

Mukesh goes on..

Waqt karta jo wafa, aap hamare hote……

The other guy from my company who is traveling with me wants us to listen this song. Something special. Mukesh goes mute…(how easy to control people through few buttons, wish it was so)… He has played ‘Habeebi’, its in Arabic, very sweet to listen. He tells he and his wife danced on this number on their wedding. He seems to miss her a lot. Have called her four times since morning. He told me India is very expensive when it comes to international calling. Poor chap paid around 600 INR for calling her wife 3 times for a minute or so each time. It was time to put things back into perspective. While we waited for the driver back at hotel, I took him to a phone booth and this time he paid only 50 bucks for four minutes of call. It was just that he was making calls from the hotel phone earlier. He is happy to know the trick. I guess he won’t be making any calls from the hotels ever again. We are friends now. Isn’t making friends so easy.

Earlier we exchanged cards. Not really exchanged, Manik and Derar exchanged and gave one each to me. “I am yet to get mine” was all I said and of course added “I joined recently”. This is my third job in a year or so and by the time I get my business cards I am already in the next company’s office. It should be different this time though (I hope so).

TT said it would take around three and a half hour to reach our station. It’s nearly three, I should enquire.

As luck would have it. The first person told me that Samalpur Jn. was the station we just crossed. “No it’s the next one” shouted a lady sitting in next cabin. What a relief. Sometimes I do love women; no I think I love them all the times even when they are not to be.

We are here now in this hotel, where we will be staying till another journey, another train, another flight and another day. We had food (which by the way was pathetic) and now I have browsed through the TV channels twice. Mostly maddu, but time can be killed very easily, very very easily.

Mukesh sang earlier. Think I wasn’t listening then….

Aaya hai mijhe fir yaad ai zalim, guzra zamana…..


Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....