Sunday, August 31, 2008


its been so long since the last time i was here.. SO much has changed..
Different everything. Nothing is the same. Except me.

Coming here first was a big and scary experience.. It seemed like there could be no way for this to feel real and for me to be happy. IT seemed like I was stuck, suffocating and jsut sinking into a vortex that i didn't wish to be a part of.

But like child thrown into the middle of a deep pool I found a way to the edge - splashin and sturugling but there nonetheless. And like the child who learnt to swim, I emerged the better.

Now in one short month, everything hre is so familiar, the faces known and it feels like i've known these people for years and like I could not hav been in any other place.

My room feels comfortable and the view is beautiful. Life is falling into place.

BUt thers always that litle nagging sensation - the inevitabl WHAT IF.. if i'd taken some other choice, not this.. Would I be happier, more successful?

One small "yes" or "no" ca change lives so instantaneously. The future gets altered with that wave of a hand and nothing remains the same.
Some of us like this transiency but many feel rooted to their past. They don't want to be shaken from their abode of comfort.

But life is change. SO craving change might be a goood thing. Just hope you're happy once you get it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Dogs! “NO, please take him away, please please, NOo.. I’m scared… Noooooooo! ” Yes, that was my usual and expected response to a dog for as long as I can remember. Whenever I went to my friend, a dog owner’s house, the poor canine had to be locked up in the furthest room prior to my entry. My guitar teacher’s dog too suffered a similar fate. And to me, it was justice... Some people just didn't like dogs , like some people don't eat meat. Its normal , acceptable and its just not fair for dogs to be imposed on us.

If anybody asked me if I liked dogs, I always responded with, “I’m more of a cat person.” The irony of that retort was in the fact that I’d never even been near a cat in my life. As a consequence, I was quite indifferent towards them. My dog phobia worsened as I grew older. If a dog behind a gate began to bark, I jumped a mile. If a dog on a leash was walking on the other side of a road, I lagged behind waiting for the dog to pass. I even had some traumatic incidents of dogs chasing me around corners with me screaming and running about like a raving lunatic. It was a phobia.

Unfortunately for me, my mother’s best friend had no children and two massive golden retrievers. Every visit to their house included me standing on a table and the dogs circling it conscientiously. It was a mental burden to carry around a fear like this in my head everywhere I went.

One day, something unusual happened. I had gone for a visit to my mother’s friend’s house and the dogs came running and pounced on me. I was stricken. I froze up and shouted for help. The two canines were all over me and I was not enjoying it. My mother’s friend told me to pet them; the dogs just wanted some attention. I slowly and gingerly placed one palm on the mangy head of one of them and stroked him. To my shock and secret joy, he felt nice and he didn’t bite! I took a deep breath and did it again. And again. And again. Soon, I was actually petting a dog.

After aprroximately ten minutes, the scene was this. I sat on the floor with Mishtii (the girl retreiver)'s head on the floor next to me and her paws on my lap and my hand under her tummy. That was the position we adopted for the following 2 hours.Whenever I got up, he’d follow faithfully. It felt wonderful to know that somebody loves you no matter what, albeit for a few minutes.

The first time I petted a dog, I had a revelation. I realized that I loved dogs. After that day, any dog I saw I loved. They were such kind and selfless creatures. They gave love so willingly and asked for nothing in return. Lately, I even go to my friends’ houses just to play with their dogs. I now proudly proclaim myself a Dog Lover. And loving it!

Bangalore Vs Delhi Take 1

(This was an article i wrote in 2004 after visiting Delhi.. How different things are now...)

I have spent many a days pondering what it is about this city that makes it so unique. Every time I go out of Bangalore on vacation, by day 3 away from the city, I find myself pining longingly for the familiar sights of M.G. Road and Indiranagar. For this reason, apart from many others, I concluded Bangalore has something unignorably special about it.

Let us start with its total lack of tourist appeal. There is, quite surprisingly, just about nothing of historical significance or scenic beauty, not counting Ulsoor Lake and Lal Bagh (after all, it would be difficult to find anybody traveling from Bengal to go sightseeing to Cubbon Park or Banerghatta).
The maximum you can expect is for eager tourists to come here as a stopover on their way to Mysore or Coorg. So most people are locals and are in the same groove as you and don’t nag like the enthusiastic tourist types.

Next is the “Great IT Revolution” which has transformed the “Pensioner’s Paradise” into the Silicon Valley of India, though I am yet to find any signs of steep slopes or mountain inclines, the closest to it being the natural downward curve of the road somewhere near Richmond Road.
Whitefield was once considered to be on the outskirts, a place you passed on a weekend trip to some pretty hill station. But now it’s booming into the heart of the IT and BPO sector. At any random given time, at least 1 out of 3 people working in those sectors make the daily journey to Whitefield riding the rocky road over the Marathahalli Bridge which is undoubtedly going to give way anytime now.
ITPL probably lodged one out of every 20 of those. There are about three Dell buildings in Whitefield alone, and many other reputed MNCs are lodging there. Many of may wonder Why? , why this sudden interest in Bangalore and Whitefield of all places. Now, I’m not a Business trend predicting expert (or whoever those people are) but my best bet is these companies wanted cheap space accompanied by good connectivity, a cosmopolitan environment and nice weather so they chose Whitefield. Obviously once two or three clever men (or women, for that matter) did this and the whole jing-bang-load of them followed along with opportunist real estate cos. Like Adarsh and after a sudden revelation in more recent times Purvankara, Prestige and Alliance to name a few. I’ve also heard that there are plans of some big malls in that section. Yes, and MALLS. What happened? If I can remember clearly, just 4 years back the largest mall you could find was Mota Royal Arcade on Brigade Road, which held heavily-discounted fake-brands. Ah! My idea of a luxury shopping experience. And today, we have been gifted with Forum, a 13-screen multiplex, the seamless Bangalore Central and Sigma among others. Shopper’s paradise, would you say?

Topic no. 3: TRAFFIC
We know, we see it, we hate it, but what would we do without it?
Can you possibly imagine a Bangalore where it takes a mere ten minutes to travel from the airport to the Taj hotel on M.G. road? Impossible, isn’t it? For without traffic jams, where would we find the time to catch up on phone calls to old friends, some philosophical reading and stress-busting in the form of road rage? Moreover, this is the perfect scapegoat for just about all our cities troubles. Rising temperatures? Blame it on the increased levels of CO2. Anger management problems? No problem, blame the traffic. So traffic is not a bane as the supplement sections of the leading newspapers believe. It is in fact, a boon to the city-people. It will just take people a long time to realize (approximately 10 years, by which time the monorail and metro would have eased traffic loads and since distance makes the heart grow fonder, everyone will actually miss it).

One thing I just love about my city is the weather. Summer, for example starts in February and the mango showers interrupt it by April-end. And what’s more, the temperatures rarely exceed 30- 35 degrees Celsius.
After August, it’s just beautiful. Windy nights, perfect to don the latest in the autumn- winter collections of Benetton. November and December are quite cold, but in the pleasant way which makes us all smile up at the sky on the rainy Sunday morning (akin to the hit Alternative track –“Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. I can practically hear the song in my head each time I think about winter). The rainy season, whose credibility is terribly flimsy, seems to land up like an unexpected visitor just about whenever it wishes. So one morning , you might be sweating it out on Commercial street, and the next , you’ll be ducking into Anand Sweets because you forgot to bring the umbrella your grandmother warned you to take(and also to sample the mind-blowing jalebis).

Finally, the most important and indispensable thing: The people.
There’s something about Bangalore society that sends a shiver up my spine. Honestly.
Just a month back, I was visiting my aunts in Delhi and we had gone to Sarojini Nagar for a spot of cheap, seconds bargains. And everytime we entered the shop, I would smile at the shopkeeper, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to everyone I interacted with, while my aunt would look at me like I was possessed. I took a moment to observe how the other customers requested for something that caught their eye. The most polite request I heard was ‘Arre, vo dena’ (translated: hey you, gimme that). The others merely barked orders, and one man had the impertinence to remind the shopkeeper that the customer is king and he should get what he wants that very second.
Another common Delhi phenomenon is the driving. People there, especially those on the road, feel that the only method of getting something done is by barking. So if you, by mistake, come so much as a foot away from the car next to you, uh huh, you’ve had it. That guy will get off , stand in the middle of the road and threaten to sue you. And mind you, he actually might. Taxi drivers, on the other hand, will just tell you exactly what they think of you in language you would not dare repeat at home in front of your kids. Bangalore on the other hand, I think is the one of the politest big cities around. It becomes an automatic reaction here to smile at anyone whose eye you happen to catch, and if they don’t smile back, oh, well, life goes on. That’s not all; Bangalore is one of the safest cities too. Imagine being a girl and traveling by public bus in Chennai, or even worse, auto! In fact, my aunt in Chennai does not even go for a walk down the road (she takes the security guard as a bodyguard). I’ve concluded that this is not because the people are so nice that they would not dare commit a crime, it’s just because they are too scared and just lack the guts to do anything bordering on the illegal. Well, it’s very wimpy I agree, but good for us.

So I’ve decided, Bangalore rocks and if I had the choice of living in some Indian city it would definitely be Bangalore, and if ever I get tired of it, I’ll just visit Delhi in the oppressive heat of May and I’m sure I’ll come racing back home.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Delhi vs Bangalore Take 2..

Back in 2005, I had visited Delhi.. just to feel what it would be like to go back to my home turf, look around and just feel the scene..

Once again, after 4 years, i visited again.. Once more , to feel the scene.. This time i was staying in Gurgaon, the up-and-coming suburb.

Gurgaon is, for starters, mall paradise. Its the mecca of all hard-core shoppers and in Sale season, it is heaven. Its better than Heaven. every store - from the Marks and Spencers to the Shopper's Stop and everythign in between has massive giveaway sales.. Its just mind-boggling.. the kind of economic activity this place generates. The government, for reasons beyond my comprehension, has imposed a compulsory holiday on Tuesdays for all commercial centres. They have no choice but to stay closed. Imagine the revenues they lose out on!

Despite all this, Gurgaon remains the concrete jungle of lore. There are massive buildings everywhere you turn. Its hard not to be suffocated by all the glass and concrete.. The buildings are a mixed bag, some office buildings, then a mall or two and then huge apartment complexes. The sky too is tainted.. You can barely see a star. The day I landed, I could not breathe. The heat, the claustrophobia just took over me...

How do people live here? It eludes me completely. How do they manage to feel even a little bit at HOME.. How can this possibly be home to anybody. Isn't it more of a jungle of money and society, with Page 3 parties, pubs and hard-selling businessmen?

Delhi city on the other hand, is beautiful. It retains a certain amount of old-world charm which even Bangalore cannot recreate. The localities of Greater Kailash, CR Park, Vasant Kunnj, Karol Bagh. I could go on.. Except for their facade being marred by a McDonalds or two.. They are rel;atively unspoilt. And being the capital city does them no harm. The infrastructure is top class.. Huge distances can be covered with hardly any bottlenekcs, an unheard of phenomenon in my native Bangalore. Maybe we too can learn a thing or two from them.

Though, the city isn't all good. The peoples attitude, their outlook and their general behaviour leaves much to be desired. The pace of life is so fast that they don't have the time to walk slowly and selflessly. The focus is on 'ME', How did they get there?

That is probably the most frightening but interesting part of this conversation. Influx from other cities, especially from north India, for the sole purpose of occupation and heavy industrialization at the fastest pace possible, coupled with rapid monetary growth in the people.

The change I saw could be attritubed to my growth and my perspective. and what struck me the most was not how much Delhi had changed, but how much Bangalore had...
In the past 3 years, its gone through so much - more than any other city i've observed. Flyovers, Malls and Whole IT parks have sprung by the dozen. And not to leave out apartment complexes. The whole growth makes my head spin.

This trend of Delhi's emergence as it is now is identical to Bangalore's growth and for that I fear. How will we survive in this fast-growing, high-competition world..? How will we retain the 'Garden City' title? Where is the pensioner's paradise now? There is nothing wrong with our city becoming younger and less with it becoming industrialized. The immigration of people from all over the country is to be welcomed for where else will we find the coming together of such different points of view and experiences and cultures. But, I think, we need to keep a check on the personal growth. Are we losing the sense of society, of caring for others and the friendliness that Bangalore was always kown for? I honestly hope not.
What makes Bangalore, for me, the best city to live in? The people, the weather, the architecture and the spirit of the city.

Right now, the people need to feel a part of the city. To have care and grattitude for everything that it has given us. I hope that it can see where we are and where our inevitable future lies if not for a concerted change in all of us.

I love Bangalore :D

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The land of perfection – A thought that I’ve pondered over for more than a year now.

I try and imagine what it might be like to be in such a place. Everything would be as it should be – glittering, flawless and untouchable. The natives of this land would also be perfect. Everything they want would land on their laps, negativity would be nonexistent. They would all live lives of success, beauty and wealth. Around every corner there would perfection would just be lying free– for anybody to take. In fact, the residents of this land would be so perfect that they would have nothing to yearn for – no desires no hopes for a better tomorrow, no ambitions or journeys.

In this land, everyone would sleep an undisturbed, peaceful night. Nothing would hamper their calm, nor give them the sweet pleasure of being somewhere else, albeit for a span of 8 hours. They would have no dreams. They would have nowhere to go to be anybody or anything they want unhindered by the laws of nature. The people there would just exist, day in and day out, for the sake of living absolutely devoid of any drive or motivation whatsoever.

Is that really perfection?

So often, when we, mere mortals, lust for perfection in every form, we fail to realize what emptiness that object of our desire would bring us. A life of empty fulfillment, a life where we no longer dream! The very thought is inconceivable. How can something be perfect if it is flawed in such an essential aspect of its being? Dreams and hopes are what make us human. They are the basic ground for existence and all of humanity thrives on them. Without ambition, life would be at the pinnacle of ennui and just not worth living.

If we, from the ordinary, flawed earth went to this land of perfection, we would inevitably be bored and tired of its monotony and ordinary nature. We would then be yearning to return to the very place we wanted to leave. Indeed the grass is greener on the other side, or maybe its greener on our side! It’s something we’ve heard all our lives but it doesn’t really strike any chords unless we experience it ourselves or realize it for ourselves.

The day I pondered over these thoughts was the day I realized that all my late-night fantasies about being in a utopia where all my problems vaporize before they are born were quite misplaced. I had been yearning for something that I didn’t need to attain. Life was good the way it was now. However, the biggest realization that struck me was that in all our flaws we are all perfect in our own way. Despite everything that we do wrong, despite the times we hurt other people or cause problems to ourselves, there is something in all of us that is still perfect. It’s up to us to shirk it or embrace it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Just today, I was walking down the road i saw these street boys walking, no sliding down the road on these transparency sheets.. and they were just having the time of their life.. they looked so happy! As I walked down the road I stepped over around 20 more of these transparency sheets and I looked at them in wonder.. what ingenuity must have possessed these young boys to use the transparency sheets for such a frivolous but enjoyable task!

And then I thought - would I or my 8 year old brother have EVER thought of using those sheets in any other way? All we might have done would be to pick them up and throw them!

The lateral thinking that those children displayed is not very easy to find.. and to think that 20 years down the line those boys will probably be owning a vegetable cart or at best bus drivers breaks my heart. So many brilliant minds with such great potential are probably out there tilling fields or cooking for a family of 10. Its the complete lack of opportunity that so many could-be Amartya Sens or C.V Ramans are being lost in the web of poverty..

The government is obviously trying, or making a fancy show of it. The heavy caste-based reservations made sense in the early years of independence when the maximum population below poverty line were in these SCs or STs or OBCS.. but now, most of the population who belong to the SCs and STs and are using the reservation to enter the colleges, are from as good a background as the non-SC an non-ST population. In fact, one of my batch mates who is an SC is now going to IIT though his classmates who went to the same coaching classes isn't despite him being much higher in terms of merit.

Does it really make sense to give away to students the seats that they could have earned through the general category.. Would it not be much more beneficial for the aid or special help to be given to those students who cannot afford the education? deserving students who cannot pay the comedk fees? or maybe income based reservation?

If its not blatantly obvious by now that the system is unfair at best, Its got to be worth considering atleast to make some basic amends to the current education system!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wanderlust - 5 More Barca ...

In the process of "absorbing" city life, we toured the La Sagrada Familia - Anton Gaudi, the greatest Modernisme architect the world has known. The Familia is his piece de resistance, an as yet incomplete work - left so because of his untimely death due to being run over by a tram. What an ordinary death for so extraordinary a man. It is said that in the last 10 years of his life he became so obsessed with his work that he no longer cared for food or clothing. His hair had grown to disguise his face beyond recognition and it took over a week for his dead body to be identified.

The work in itself is like no other. There contains not one straight line in the whole structure, everything is a series of curves. The stairways are winding and steep to the point of inducing vertigo, each tower leaves your mouth gaping and head aching with the unusual. Its funny how we marvel so much at variations of the same structure time and again. In Italy or The UK, different versions of the same gothic design are photographed copiously for their "architectural brilliance".. Why?! They are al the same with a tower or a spire placed in a slightly different location. Here we have somebody who literally invented a whole style from his own imagination. And more than half the world has barely even heard of him. That, I think is a great tragedy. In fact people have gone as far as ridiculing his work-in-progress as grostesque and lacking all aesthetically pleasing element.

I think if they came to see the Familia at night-time, they would beg to differ.

This evokes another interesting question on art - is art about innovation and creativity and creating something that's absolutely fresh and new and never seen before, or is art just about pleasing the eye. Unsettling things are hard to get used to , so now there is a contradiction born.

However, once a new, refreshing idea is used time and again, it grows on the eye and becomes pleasing to watch. In my opinion, art should be more about innovation even if it lacks a certain beauty to it. But that, i think, is a question for artists to resolve.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

wanderlust 4 .. the Barcelona!

After much delay, Barcelona finally arrived. On the flight, we reached a point where all the clouds were right below us and the sky above... the puffs of white stood out like perfect bleached cotton candy and it took almost everything I had to restrain myself from breaking the glass and jumping into those gorgeous pieces of heaven. The urge to touch as beyond overwhelming. at the same time, it was scary. The clouds resembled snow-capped mountain peaks so closely and the turbulence added to the feeling of running into a massive range. It was the most unusual sight to see. Just shutting my book and watching it seemed to be the only thing I could do.

Once we landed in Barcelona (heretofore referred to as BCN), the shops were again jaw-dropping with their colourful, unattainable displays... Sigh! the city was a whole new story. It was so perfectly clean so distincty european with absolutely nothing marring its oh-so-perfect facade with buildings right from the Medieval period to Gaudi's Modermisme with were both strange and irresistible simultaneously...

In our quest for our room, we arrived at La Rambla, the biggest and most famous street in Barcelona with roaring nightlife, quaint cafes and flamenco dancing - basically, the works.

The Montmartre of Spain! We turned into our apartment road and we were greeted by grafittied walls, skateboarding punks and africans with dubious motives. It made me wonder what it must feel like to live in a city like this, perpetually surrounded by beautiful things wherever you turn. Does one live in eternal awe of your city, like a tourist at home, or does this sort of extreme loveliness just grow on you? How it must overwhelm - every single day!

But there also lies the flipside of this coin...The city is filled with immigrants from Asia - Filippinos, Indians, Pakistanis who own souvenir shops, restaurants and groceries. They are barely citizens, living forever on the peripheri of the city and not belonging. They would always remain outsiders and life for them is a grapple for the hook. They don't belong. Its one thing to live in poverty in your native country, but its another to be in a foreign place where you know neither the language nor the culture. Just talking to the Indians there, who's eyes filled with gratitude and joy to be able to talk in their mother tongue to a customer made me realize that no matter where int he world we go, where we live and what we do, home for us will always be our country... Its the only place we will always feel truly wanted and like we belong. Anywhere else, we will forever remain outsiders. And the life of an outsider is rife with pain and confusion. Of course , it is more exciting, but not for life... It would always remain just another exciting adventure.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wanderlust -3

So, on the same morning after, i sat in the (old) Airport, waiting for my flight to take-off. I was more excited about the 9 - hour long journey to LHR more than the actual holiday that I would be taking! I have always been, and will always be , a sucker for in-flight entertainment on all long haul flihts. And I had not read a novel in too long for my won good. I had lined up a few good reads - some intellectual stimulation and the emotional challenge to pander to my varying plethora of moods.

After 9 hours in the BA flight, shuffling between economy and business class and 2 adrenaline filled movies and TV shows, we finally arrived at LHR. London is one city I am an eternal fan of. There is something so comforting and welcoming about its cold heat and frigid cold that makes you want to stay despite everything. Its like the city, through the sunny fog, stretches its hands out to you, just beckoning you to come , no matter where your origin lies. That is the beauty of this city, not ignoring the obvious jewels that it has handed out - like Hyde Park and the Tate Modern.

At the airport, we spent the four hours in the business class lounge which my mother smuggled me into. It is a waxy heaven, so perfect , so idyllic, that for a short haul, its the perfect place to be but for any longer, you begin to wonder if you are being enveloped into a world which you don't belong, no matter who you are. its perfect but artificial. All the food is overwhelming, yet tantalizing and the multi-nozzle showers are like a temptress, just waiting to be showered in, with the branded shower gels and shampoos. The single best thing about the Lounge is KETTLE CHIPS. the single greatest creation by the international junk food federation. The name sounds fancy , but it tastes even better. The whole experience is worth going through at some point in life for all of us.

Duty-free airport shopping, is quite a deceipt in word-play. The prices of all the big brands are so high that any concession that "duty-free" could offer are more than nullified. But this again hails from the same waxy worth that I spoke of earlier. So perfect, so covetable but yet so unrealistic that in the long run it is just not worth it. Everything about the LHR is something like that.

As we waited for the connection to Barcelona to arrive, albeit late, I was thankful for small pleasures such as this, where one can escape from any semblance of reality and just exist, in a n environment so perfect and FREE!

The morning after

4.40 am, 12th May : On being so cruelly dragged out of my bed by my multi-snooze alarm, I brushed my teeth about propped my pre-sleeping-bathed-and-dressed self on the dining table. It was then that it all slowly dawned on me once more - who I was and what I was doing and under what circumstances. The thing that struck me the strongest was : I WOULD NEVER HAVE TO STUDY AGAIN! ... Even if I wanted to, I could not study, because I had no clue where I was headed or what I was doing. It seemed like the perfect situation. I hadn't felt this free in nearly four years. First there was NTSE coaching, then studying for the 10th boards, then more NTSE coaching, then IIT coaching. ANd finally the nail hit my head and I realized that I HATED science , and then there was Tuition for CBSE and then LST and now finally it was DONE with. I was off on my holiday and there was no guilt whatsoever.

Ever since I was in the 8th grade, I'd been cringing at my father's constant admonisions, "Go study, you're acting like your 12th standard is over"! And now finally, after everything, it was! There was nothing anybody could say that would dim my spirits.

The morning after - it could not have been better. And the best part was, it did not feel like a half- hearted attempt. It was not some excuse for hard-work or effort. It had been a consistent stream of work and I was satisfied.

Indulgence indeed

Short -comings and goings

A recent discovery I made was that great people are not perfect. Big Surprise!

I was going through an article in Fortune magazine about Steve Jobs, a veritable God in his industry, and my gosh, he is just like the rest of us! He is mean when he's in a bad mood, he shouts at his employees, is arrogant to a fault... This article came as quite a revelation to me and at quite an opportune moment when I was grappling with the sudden and monumental realization of how terribly flawed I am, and everybody else is...

That cliche - Nobody's Perfect, finally made sense to me.. Its not the people who are perfect who become successful or content or leaders in the world, its those who pull through despite their flows. They seem to accept the flaws and leave them aside, not letting their shortcomings become them...

It might seem like I am adopting a preachy tone, though I certainly don't mean to be, but the whole event just came as a complete shock to me and I was left knocked out of my senses. Suddenly, I found myself trying to see how I should accept the fact that I tend to be self-centered at times and impatient and if I want to stay who I am, I need to just learn to live with it and, if possible, make occasional amends wherever I can to make life simpler for myself and everybody else around me.

And quite often accepting your faults and learning to live with them are far more difficult than actually deciding to change them. Because when you decide to change, it seems that it will all be better and different. In this alternate scenario, however, all your flaws will be pointed out, time and time again and try as you might to want to change, you'll know deep down that its a part of who you are and that is how it will remain till kingdom come.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Colds in Summer

Like a very poorly immune fool, every so often, I get a cold in the summer. I don't know how or why.. its not the ice-cream, its not the rain, its nothing ... Its just that. And its killer.. for some reason it feels like the sign of a weakling. Not one cold all through winter and monsoon, but when summer dawns.. Tada! *achooo*

That reminds me... as a child I was called "akshu" which unfortunately sounds very very similar to "achoo"... whooops.. wait tillmy friends find out, that's gonna be one long laugh riot.

And, yes, going on holiday is a good enough sxcuse to neglect a blog. Fear not, it will all return

Goodbye to everybody!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chug Chug <0.5 selfish blog , 0.5 wanderlust>

On monday night, 9.15 pm, I embarked on what I thought would be a boring journey at best and a mindnumbing torture of a long sleepless night. Obviously, It had been a long long time since I last went on a train. As a child, I would make the 3 day trip from Delhi to Chennai on the Shatabdi with my grandmother and I would take immense pleasure in eating my fill of "goodies" everyday that my grandmother would arrange for me in a plate carefully. The trip also involved making friends with other children my age and playing card games and learning black magic (the biggest con if my life and it took me 2 years to figure out the trick!)... The highlight of the ride would be bonding with my grandmother as she told me numerous stories and played bluff, rummy and ass with me (all three card games)!

But this time, I knew my disposition. I did not enjoy being in isolation for hours on end when everybody around me would be fast asleep and by some offchance if I did not get my eyeshut I would be cranky and stoned all the day following day.

With that jaded mindset, I entered the station. THe first thing that struck me about it was the characteristic odour. A combination of urine, sweat and food, it was not a pleasant odour, but so comforting that it was not hard for me to slip into the same warm, comfortable mood that train journeys incited in me in the past. More than anything else, it must have been nostalgia but at the moment i was not complaining. Just happy to be feeling content. THe next thing that I just fell in love with were those stalls selling cheap books and magazines, water and frooti. I used to yearn for those in my childhood. I would inevitably pick up a gokulam to read on the way, something that brought me hours of pleasure with the well thought out and always entertaining articles and facts. My granny too would read out stories for me from the book and that was an absolute pleasure always!

This time, my father bought me a book on Personalities of India, with the view of benifitting my GK for the upcoming law entrance exam. The book was so cute(for the lack of a better word) in all its flaws. The tacky printing, the glaring spelling errors and the grammar, or lack thereof, were all a source of delight for my exhausted brain. As we waited for the train to come, for around 45 minutes (indeed it had been late), our backs broke but it was all worth it because we now knew Joseph Priestley's middle name and Mr Arundale's claim to fame. Finally, 5 minutes after its departure time, the train chugged into the station! What joy and pleasure it gave our broken backs to see this harbinger of good times to come.

BOarding the train was also an adventure. With our suitcases in tow, my father the brave was the first to make the ascend and with success the rest of us followed until the time came for my grandmother to do the deed. Hard as it was for her to bridge the gap between the platform and the step which exposed a gaping view of the train tracks. That was the stuff my childhood nightmares were made of. Slipping into that precious hole and the train starting. I'd spend hours wondering precisely in which position to lie so that I would not be pulped by the moving train! Finally concluded flat would be the best.

After we'd made the walk into the corridor and landed our seats, I experienced the single best feeling I have felt in the past week. That feeling of the blue leather bed as I lay down and rested my poor broken back. The catharsis of the wait and the standing and lugging, and the cool leather(or plastic as it may be) to rest on. Sigh.. that was life.

After a 30-minute wait, the train's machinery kicked into place and then it began. That absolutely irreplacable, mind-blowing, soothing sound/feeling.. Chug chug chug chug.. and the Chennai Mail chugged away into the night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Selfish Blog - 1

Starry Starry Night - Don Mclean. The song evokes memories of road trips with my parents in the early days of my short life - ages 6-10. The sole english CD in my father's possession with the over-worked American Pie as the main attraction, this song was embedded into my mental hard drive without my cognizance. Around age 13 when I started asserting my right to CD time, Don Mclean's music took the backseat and subsequently faded from my life and maroon 5 or nickelback was the new road trip anthem.

However, a few weeks back, I stumbled upon Starry Starry Night int he soundtrack of a movie and the song just hit a nerve in some corner of my life and all of a sudden I found myself tripping on it day-in and day-out.. The song paints such a lush picture of life.. of greatness and of misunderstood artists living in repression :D

But, on a more serious note, the song just took me into a wave of nostalgia that all of us experience and that led me to wonder if I had grown up too fast for my own good. By 7th grade I was watching friends and graduating from Sweet Valleys to Jeffrey Archers

Where did all those happy, carefree days of playing hide-and-seek for hours nonstop and hopskotch and other frivolities disappear... In a flash I looked back all of it was gone. I think it was jsut me trying to be older than I was, I looked older for sure.. and did things older girls did and just tried to be precocious...

A few years down the line, when i was 16 or so.. I realized that I missed that carefree levity and I wanted to feel it again. And somewhere subconsciously I think I started to turn the wheels in that direction and over time I did become more childlike and more innocent in so many ways. I'd just behave like a complete child, and though it was a point of ridicule with many of friends I think it changed me so much for the better. I learnt not to hold on to things as much. For instance everytime I encountered what I felt was a setback I'd brood like the world was over for approximately an hour and then life was alright. It was a simple yet complicated way to deal with life but it seemed to work for me.

Even now it seems that the child-like-ness still persists and I am the better for that... Though it makes me stumble while i learn to drive at 8 in the morning, or lose my temper with my granny when I'm hot and bothered, in the end I wouldn't be me without it and I thank God for that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When I asked one of my friends what he would want if he could have any one thing in life, he told me that he wanted to make everybody happy. For reasons beyond my immediate comprehension, I was rather perturbed and frustrated by his response. After much contemplation I finally pinpointed the source of my turmoil. How could somebody possibly control another person's happiness!?

The very idea struck me as absolutely absurd. Hadn't we all heard a million times "The only person who can make you happy is YOU" and other such inspirational messages for people in darker times. Now here was my friend uttering such a noble thought which struck me as so contradictory to what I believed all along. My brain stuck and froze and for a minute I just didn't know what to do or say...

After a few days of quiet pondering I realized, what these people have preached is some idealised society where everybody internally controls what they feel and we can all pretend to be remote controls. Sadly, in a world like ours, where everything is so not-perfect, it is quite understandable that our emotions are dependent on every action that others make. Maybe it is a sad thing but I know that I've let myself be totally influenced by what somebody else says or does and just let myself fall into a total slump for something as silly as an insulting comment a friend passed.. Sheesh..

It seems rather sad and selfless of us to be so dependent on others' actions for our happiness.. I mean, how can we possibly let our feelings, the only thing we actually have control over, be taken over by others. But how we ended up like this is a question that still eludes me. At some point, we were all so independent, so selfish with everything that was ours. ANd back then, it was precious little. But somewhere down the line we lost the individual autonomy and ended up as a society, depending and being depended on in a material and emotional sense. Is that a good thing - maybe yes, maybe no...

So I guess until we become the perfect utopians that we wish and claim to be, we will forever be selfless and giving with our feelings and state of mind. And till then, my noble friend's wish will rank up there with "World Peace" and "A cure for cancer" ... the unattainable yet neccessary.

Short-comings or goings ?

compulsory vascectA recent discovery I made was that great people are not perfect. Big Surprise!

I was going through an article in Fortune magazine about Steve Jobs, a veritable God in his industry, and my gosh, he is just like the rest of us! He is mean when he's in a bad mood, he shouts at his employees, is arrogant to a fault... This article came as quite a revelation to me and at quite an opportune moment when I was grappling with the sudden and monumental realization of how terribly flawed I am, and everybody else is...

That cliche - Nobody's Perfect, finally made sense to me.. Its not the people who are perfect who become successful or content or leaders in the world, its those who pull through despite their flows. They seem to accept the flaws and leave them aside, not letting their shortcomings become them...

It might seem like I am adopting a preachy tone, though I certainly don't mean to be, but the whole event just came as a complete shock to me and I was left knocked out of my senses. Suddenly, I found myself trying to see how I should accept the fact that I tend to be self-centered at times and impatient and if I want to stay who I am, I need to just learn to live with it and, if possible, make occasional amends wherever I can to make life simpler for myself and everybody else around me.

And quite often accepting your faults and learning to live with them are far more difficult than actually deciding to change them. Because when you decide to change, it seems that it will all be better and different. In this alternate scenario, however, all your flaws will be pointed out, time and time again and try as you might to want to change, you'll know deep down that its a part of who you are and that is how it will remain till kingdom come.


Cliches in a cliche ..

Cliches are so hard to fathom. Firstly, they are true - too true in fact. Every cliche has far too many living examples to just ignore. Secondly, as the cliche goes, cliches are cliches because they are universal truths. There is practically no flaw you can find in their existence. Yet, despite all of these, you can't help but not really feel the essence of the cliche till you go through it yourself. You end up perpetually discarding it as something that people say, an annoying old custom that has been passed on for generationsm until one day, you feel it yourself. It suddenly fits into your situation to the T and in a flash - its yours. The cliche now becomes your universal truth. Countless times, I've had this happen to me and each and every time I emerge with a wide silly grin on my face and the thought running in my head would be "oh! so that's what they meant!"

Well, its an amazing experience when you discover for yourself what already exists. Its like cracking an IIT problem :D

Go Sridhar ;P

Monday, April 14, 2008

a walk on part in the war...

Wow.. these are one of those times when you wonder if anything was honestly ever worth it, if its worth the struggle to get what you want or easier to give up, sit back and enjoy life as it comes.

I am not and never was opposed to the concept of the anti-college education movement. To me, it was always a concept of personal choice. There is a way to get through life, quite happily in fact, without an ounce of college education. Examples of great people who made it big in life even without those shiny off-white embossed sheets of paper abound in every "Top ten Idols in "

But, when the onus fell on me to make that essential choice - do i need college?, every voice in my head unequivocally seemed to scream "Yes, sir!" and from there on I embarked on the long and arduous and as yet imcomplete journey of doing things well so I would find a place in an institution where I would feel proud to belong. Yet, along the way, I stumbled over and over again, found myself wasting days and weeks just carousing and lounging around in front of the miserable television letting my brain rot, slowly and systematically.

Now, when it all seems to be reaching an end, the part of the journey which matters most having passed away quite eventfully, all I wonder when I look back is - was it even worth it? ALl those days and weeks and months of irritation and frustration and just trying over and over agian to cram the same facts in my head to retain them as well as I could.

Of course, I emerged hopefully un-scarred but only time will tell what the real consequences of this war was..

Through this process I witnessed some of my co-fighters who seemed to take things with a pinch of salt, not letting themselves be truly perturbed by the enemy lines and just taking things so easy. Maybe it is a facade, but they seem to be at such ease with themselves, setting their expectations lower, and feeling the simple pleasure of spending time with friends and watching television guiltlessly... I on the other hand have wrecked many a good experiences just letting the guilt of slacking take over my being and emerged none the wiser for it. Such a shame and an honest pity.. Tut tut tut..

Now, i wish my mental makeup just permitted me to not care and take things easy. To just sit back and wish for something attainable and have it fall on my lap. Life would be such a breeze. And I would be happy too. I have got what I wanted. APplauding those who did better and consoling myself in secret saying - tis alright, I never wanted that in the first place.

But inside I know, I'm not wired that way... I'm meant to worry and be frustrated and just break my head over problems such as the board exams because that was how i've been conditioned all my life to behave ... Ah, the influences of our surroundings

Would you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

If everyone cared..

This Scarlett Keeling case just seems to be getting worse by the minute. Its quite evident that nobody stands to win here. The parent has shown obvious negligence in leaving her 15-year-old child behind without any consideration for her safety.

The Goan administration and Police also have shown utter lack of fulfilment of duty by neglecting to conduct a thorough examination, and for that matter, by even letting the incident occur.

The British Government doesn't want this case to be a reflection of their citizens so they seem to be trying their level best to disown the parent without seeming to be disrespectful or such..

NObody wins. Except maybe Scarlett, atleast she no longer lives in a world such as ours where we don't care to protect, we just point fingers. Or so it seems..

If only the Utopia mentioned in the song of Nickelback who, though it might seem are being influenced by pop elements to an inexcusable extent, have hit the nail bang on the head with no doubts whatsoever..

"If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

At times like there, the words ring so true and touch a nerve that needs to be alive and beating in all of us for this world to make sense again... Else, we are headed for an international genocide of proportions insane..

The hypocrisy of the west and the east respectively and when taken together is such a sad sight to see.. America trying to play mediator in the Israel-Palestinian war while they themselves cannot seem to let go of the bitterness that they show to the Islamic world. The double standards on the Iranian Nuclear situation and that shown by RUssia.

All these nations claim to be democracies, they claim to hold fair and free elections but in the end they go to extents just short of physically stuffing ballots to gain personal profit. Why? Why can't we just love and live in peace?

*Sigh* We need a cure for poverty. Socialism didn't quite work, a new world order is in the offing.

Wanderlust 1

Every one of us reaches a time in our lives when we want to feel something more, something beyond our immediate reach . Most often than not we let those feelings lead us to the inevitable wanderlust. I invariably let myself to be let astray by these feelings and find myself trying to find an unusual and exciting destination where i can spend the few short days I can convince my family to spare from their insane lives.

A few summers back we embarked on the most cliche journey that exists in the history of travel. The London- Paris route. Every ardent traveler would have been on this particular itenerary atleast twice in their lives for a variety of reasons. So I decided to the the cliche just to see what all the fuss was about. The Arc De triomph never really excited me and I had spent days comtemplating what the big deal about Montmatre was. But I told myeslf - You never know, if you try might discover something extraordinary in it.

So our plane landed in the busy Charles De Gaulle airport and we got onto our rented cab. Our apartment was in the very city centre so we had a long drive before we got there.

Tired from the journey, I rested my head on the windowsill and began my car-nap. The next thing I know, I open my eyes and all aorund me are Tamil and Bengali Shops. I couldn't believe my eyes. Where on earth had I landed up. The cab was just the same and my family was still around me. But we had suddenly been transported to some random location that I had never seen or expected to see.. If this was Paris, where were the cobblestone streets, the elegant spires and the skyline of the Eiffel. It had to be some sort of a time warp. It was the only logical explanation for this. I asked my family if they too say what I saw. I was told in hushed tones so as to not offend the Cab owner that in the suburbs of Paris there lives an infinite number of Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan tamils who set up shops selling clothes and spices which explained the strange sight I was witnessing at that moment.

I heaved a massive sigh of relief. This was just the beginning. My maiden shock in this city of contradictions. They call it the most romantic city, but I would say it was the most self-contradictory city. Everywhere I turned I saw this unique mix of the old and the new, the foreign and the native. It was a city that resisted change with all her heart, yet opened her arms to those unlike her who would come and make the city something altogether different.

It took all my preconceived notions and threw them out of the window. On the very first day I saw none of the fabled romance. It was mostly cobblestoned streets which were very hard to walk on because my heels continuously got stuck. The Louvre looked so low, so un-inspiring and so different from what we'd seen on Da Vinci Code. The Eiffel by day looked rusted, with the massive metal structure showing signs of old age and wearing. The Montmatre was just some backward city with annoying Hawkers who couldn't stop begging you to let them sketch your silhouette. I decided to relax the rest of the day and spend some time at home. Maybe the morning would bring with it some surprises and a new perspective.

With that I retreated to my apartment - a cramped one bedroom inside a quaint building with three floors of hard-core climbing to do. There were however a few books of tourist interest which i flipped through before hitting the sack.

The next morning, to my surprise and dismay, was the day of the Champions League finals between Arsenal and FC Barcelona. On stepping out of the house I saw plain pandemonium. The city was celebrating. There were people all over in their football jerseys cheering for their team and visiting the popular city sites. All the hop-on hop-off buses were crowded with fans going crazy, waving flags around. The excitement was infectious. Here again, the contradictions were born. People were so happy, so completely at ease and so cheerful. The day just lefted my spirits and Paris could now do no wrong. Visiting the Eiffel, we found the queues to be insanely wrong, but we could not care less. There were hordes of fans setting of colour bombs which spread the red and green characteristic of FC Barcelona all over the skyline. Hundreds of people thronged the streets selling and buying memorabilia. We could not grudge there celebrators their joy though it meant finding to place to sit for lunch and price hikes at all the roadside stands. The city was alive and at its best.

At nightfall, it began to drizzle and the historical Football Match was also under way. I found myself sitting, with my father in a pub/cafe watching the match on a 1-foot-by-1-foot TV and making small talk with the waiters. A running commentary ensued and the night was perfect. The slight drizzle outside just enhanced the feeling of perfection. Never has a city turned my opinion of it around like this overnight. It was the highest point of my holiday and after that things were uphill non-stop.

The louvre on further inspection proved worth its while and the roads were worth exploring. Half the fun of the holiday was in living it like the city folk. We did not stay in a hotel but instead took an apartment. So all the cooking was done at home. We walked around shopping at the traditional grocery stores, trying out our pathetic french 'fromage , pain' we squeaked endlessly, hoping to get our bread and cheese at the soonest possible.

The more we looked around, the more we saw. The city was so diverse - the peple dressed so well and you would find hundreds of people of every race walking around just belonging.

The promenades and gardens were lush with beauty. This was a city that every man and woman had to do twice atleast - the first time as a tourist, seeing all the architectural delights and then as a local, feeling the sights and smells, discovering all the unusual places to eat, learning some basic french and maybe working as a waiter or a grocer to see what life in a city as extraordinary as this could give.
Vive le France :D

scary people

people are scary. If you look at them closely enough, most human beings have the most freakish and quite detestable physical features which seldom does anything less than freak the living daylights out of you.

Take feet for instance. Have you ever really sat down and observed somebody's feeT? be it yours, or your best friend's or your brother's you'll find that the feet in question are grotesquely intolerable. Well, so i feel anyway. I seem to be wanting to barf into the nearest toilet each time i see a pair of misshapen and grossly abnormal feet. I mean, why would god do soemthing like that? Give people feet..?!

You've seen the feet of a bird right.. see they can walk just fine with their cute little semiwebbed appendages! Give me bird feet, or better still cat feet.. Have you ever seen cat feet? Those are just adorably mindblowing.. they'll just blow you away.. you won't stop wanting to touch them and feel them and just stare at them till your brain blows up or something with extreme-repeated-reinforcement of a single image.

Another thing is animal-neutering.. that is probably the coolest yet most confusing thing that takes place. my friend's cat recently got neutered. Its a good thing of course because he'll finally stop rubbing himself on all sorts of furniture and leaving trails of white goo all over the place, but its funny.. does he become a she now? its not fair to make him an it. and he cant possibly be a he cuz he doesn't have the fundamental requirement to be a he. Therein lies the paradox.

Bah.. humans should be neutered too. If one isn't married by a certain age or doens't have any partner as such.. they should be neutered. Its bound to reduce rape and pornography like crazy. Or we should have temporary neutering... Be neutered till you find a person willing to copulate with you and then get yourself un-neutered.

The Pornography industry will cease to exist! and Playboy will go out of business and Maxim owners will be on the streets. And rape lawyers too... those institutions for protecting rape victims can probably go into some other charitable business like curing poverty or something!
And the Blank Noise project will pretty much be useless..

hell, selective neutering is the answer to half of the world's evils.. If only such a thing existed..