Sunday, August 24, 2008


Preparations would start as early as a month prior to the day. Cultural programs to be performed were selected first, with performers for the cultural programs chosen next. Rehearsals would begin finally with costumes being decided, characters switching acts to suit the occasion. During one of those auditions only I discovered that I could sing too! This was in Junior School where everything was conducted under the able guidance of teachers. More on it, later. In Senior School, it was different.

One thing common in both schools though, was many students keeping a full day fast for Lord Krishna. Children who used to fast would get boiled potatoes and milk for breakfast and lunch. Well, am sure all the girls did it for the Lord. I cannot say the same about the boys. Certainly, not the few around me. And, these few include me. In Junior School, it was the Dinner. Breaking fast at dinner which was a grand and lavish affair for the ones who used to fast, tasted like the best menu of the world.

In Senior School, there were no cultural programs to be rehearsed for, no costumes to be decided and no hoop-la around the day. It was just another holiday for boys to chuck studies for the day and just play, jump around and relax. Boys used to fast, dinner becoming just an incentive, though. I don’t even think we ever thought of Lord Krishna. The main reason was the princely pocket money of Rs. 10/- for the day which the select few who fasted would get to buy fruits! And, did we buy fruits? Krishna knows, we did not; atleast not for our own consumption. In the junior most class, Class VI, part of that money went to serve fruits to seniors. We could kill or die for ‘Aam Paapad’ and ‘Chatpati’, a moong dal snack. But one boy could not afford to buy both. So, it was dutching of whatever was left in our hands to buy both items and share among hungry boys. But as we were growing, our appetite was growing too. We now had some more money to buy our Aam Paapad and Chatpati. We were hungry no more. But then after these snacks, we used to feel thirsty. How to quench our thirst?

Our stomachs were full, but an empty mind is a devil’s workshop. After some thought, we had a plan ready. We announced a one day football tournament for the junior section (Class VI, VII and VIII). Entry fee was Rs. 20/- per team. To increase entries, we said, one class could field upto three teams. Matches would be back to back and of 30 minutes duration. The winner would get a trophy, a memento each for the six players and the two teams reaching the finals would be treated to… yes, Aam Paapad, Chatpati and Pepsi (quenching thirsts, more of the organizers than the team as all matches were back to back and only water was served to players). At the last moment, the master mind, Master PK Singh introduced another interesting rule. No substitutes were allowed ensuring the number of mementos to be distributed being fixed, fixed number of bottles of Pepsi being ordered and minimum organizing skills involved. All classes fielded three teams each. The tournament was a huge hit. The best part was both teams in the finals being from our batch.

Needless to say, no trophy was handed over, no mementos were distributed. There sure was a Grand Treat. We were hungry no more. We were thirsty no more. It was a perfect Janamash-tummy full day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vicious Circle

Michael Phelps consumes 12000 calories of food a day, which means, he eats more than atleast 12000 Indians in a day. Naturally, he has the strength of 12000 Indians and can win such absurd number of medals and set world records and then himself break them! I wonder why does he win so easily? I think with those 12000 calories a day, he must be farting better under water to give him that extra buoyancy to float, swim and surge ahead of his fellow competitors!

On a serious plunge, ofcourse, it’s an achievement. We have started winning medals at Olympics. It only shows the determination, grit and the mindset changing in Indians. We have started believing we can win. But what upsets me again is the limits we set for ourselves, still. We have now started saying, “a bronze is what is assured”. Why? Why cant we think that we can win and assure a Gold & Silver? Only when we start thinking and then begin saying it loud and clear, is when we will finally start believing in it. But then, we believed in KPS Gill. I really don’t know if one man can single handedly screw a national game? I am sure there were other reasons. But if a single man can be attributed to control and save a whole state from burning out, he sure can manage bigger stick tricks. Am sure he did his best on both fronts.

We have always believed in belief though. Our belief system is stronger than belief itself. We believe in existence of God. Actually, Gods. I hear India has more than a crore Gods to believe in. Not a surprise. With more than 100 crores minds, there is always different mind sets and separate beliefs. At one age, we believe everything anyone says. A little later, we don’t believe our parents but our friends, we don’t believe our teachers but the rogue rickshaw puller. Infact don’t believe as much in our own self as on a stranger and the various colored stones he promises will change our world. Belief is such a relief.

Life is a vicious circle. One does not have an answer to if the chicken came first or the egg, count starts from zero or one. You never know if you have to start believing you can win only then you can win or only when one starts winning, one starts believing s/he will always win?

My guess is everything comes from habit. When something becomes a habit, belief follows. If no kid is told s/he is a hindu or a muslim, taken to a temple or mosque every Monday or Friday, s/he will never get to know the difference. Only when something is repeated endlessly to ensure it becomes a habit, it becomes belief. Once it becomes a habit, one starts defending it. The ones who do not follow it brand it as a good habit or a bad one. Smoking becomes a bad habit, drinking milk is a good one.

When the only jobs in India were offered by PSUs and a handful of private companies, it was always a six days a week working. No one complained. Sunday was the only holiday. It was cherished and enjoyed by one and all, working or the unemployed. With MNCs coming in, they brought their value and belief systems. We started changing habits. We wanted Saturdays off too. We needed more relaxation and de-stressing. Why? Do you think you work harder than your mother or father worked in their working days? I don’t believe so. But our parents do believe so. The circle is complete.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I am a (p)roudy Indian

I have not seen much of the world. Like many, whatever I gather is from the limited exposure I get by meeting people, listening to strangers speaking among themselves, observing situations around and reading a bit of newspapers and magazines. And I realize, there is not much of a difference between an uneducated but street smart stranger and the worldly wise evangelizing Indian. None of them have done anything much for the country. The former, is in the country and votes for money. The latter has become a citizen of a so called more civilized, modern and developed country and comments on the functioning of our government for which he never voted. I did not vote for this Government. I never voted for the earlier ones either. Why, is another day’s writing….

In my friend circle, we had been talking about it for quite sometime now. Why in a country with 100 plus crores population, we have yet not bagged even one individual gold medal? There are some good defenses but no clear winning logic. Yes, we were (are we still) a third world country, a nation with an amazingly low economy and growth rate and a country with close to zilch infrastructure when it comes to development. Come to think of it, our Government’s focus was never even Education, leave alone Sports! But with Anubhav Bindra’s feat, I could not but sit and think of the so many heated arguments we used to have among friends. It is India’s 61st Independence Day and the year also goes down in India’s history as the first individual Gold Medal year. He brought a cheer to one and all. But what have all of us done for this one boy and his country? I cannot think of anything.

One of my friends’ has not even cared to vote. Beggars are a parasite to the society. Never give them even one rupee. But since my friend is giving up smoking and doing it slowly he throws away half his cigarette which costs five bucks per stick! Oh don’t tell anyone, one of my friends evades paying taxes only because it’s getting so expensive to live. There is no alternative. Another of my friend is interested in social service though. She has even opened a small office in a lavish neighborhood. She meets rich people and convinces them to donate. It is such a daunting task. No wonder she has goes off abroad to unwind, atleast twice in a year. About me, huh, well, Singh is King. And I am the King Maker. I do not think twice before spitting on the roads. It does not matter whose watching, when I am under pressure, I pee. Keeping the roads, stations and public areas clean is the administration’s job. My job is to dirty them so that their job is safe. When am in high spirits, I play music in my car which has a music system installed sway hundred ships to shore. I am not bothered that my neighbor may be having an entrance exam the next day or there was a death this very day itself in the locality. There is a low beam in headlights too? When my dad has bought even the road for me, why should I not use the headlight in full beam? Why did he buy a big car which cannot even blind the driver of the bloody small car coming from ahead? Next time, I will kill him if he crosses my way. What is the possibility an aspiring Anubhav Bindra being in that car? One in a hundred crores. So, why bother?

I will not talk of another poor country like ours, Jamaica, which has possibly won more Gold Medals than us. Till now, Michael Phelps of US of A has won 14 individual Gold Medals in 2 Olympics, i.e. 8 years. He sure will get more. India has won 9 Gold Medals of which just one is an Individual Gold Medal in 108 years.

Anubhav Bindra has made us proud and I am the (p)roudy Indian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vodka & (vir)gin

Vodka & (vir)gin

I was meeting my school boys after a long gap in time. Walking in, just one look at the faces, changed in many ways, but still the same genuine and warm welcoming smile and the bear hugs, brought back the smell of wet moss and oak trees leaves. Back in hostel just off Mussoorie, we were amidst Oak groves, hence, the name Oak Grove School. It was a British school passed onto the Indian Railways once India got independence.

Not to mention, it was an all boys’ sit out. It started with the clinking of glasses and ended with ‘one (more) for the road’. And all talks were of school days. The two most outstanding and long discussed topics though were, well, no kisses for guessing. The name has them - pegs and legs. What stressed me to write are the two extremes. About how we never even thought of booze ever while in school. Never did we think, talk or discuss of trying out booze. Not even once. And about how we always used to talk of sex. All the time.

Sitting there, I was wondering how the discussion kept swaggering between these two extremes but sides had changed. Boys were discussing how often one of them would go out on drinking sprees in groups and return with a new set of acquaintances whom he would have befriended in one of the pubs while pub hopping, how one would doze off in the loo of a pub all sloshed and others equally sloshed would forget him and zoom off home! There were unabashed confessions being made. Pendulum touched the other extreme now…

There are Don Juan De-Marcos in every batch, eternal lovers who can’t keep their eyes off budding flowers, and on whom Cupid pours all his love showers, blindly. He never has any shortage of love games. Players of the opposite sex come running to him like opposition rugby players charge the player with the ball. There were stories of their sexcapades doing the rounds of corridors and class rooms. How a senior was seduced by a junior girl, a junior boy impressed a senior girl, how a girl got even with another girl by enticing his so called boy friend and how boys won bets of kissing a girl within three meetings. We were discussing all this and how was our current our sex life, or was it alive at all? To the utter dismay and shock of most, the ones predominantly thought as future macho men and current dudes were the ones still looking to be laid. The laid back and easy going guys were getting it easily. I am sure there were guys who had mastered the art of either faking it really well or making it like the sticky snail in the shell.

Sex was being discussed lesser and lesser as time passed by in our lives and during that evening too. Being men, most of us were surely having an animated discussion and debate on sex-episodes but then there were some who were passive contributors. Not that they did not like the topic. They loved it. Either their vodka shots were short or their virgin days (and nights) were longer than the others. I am not telling you who was on which side.

One thing was certain and clear though. We all were still virgin to the thought of sex. Like normal men, after those light talks and heavy booze we were as horny as ever. I must have pressed my car horn even for an ant trying to cross the road before me.



Saturday, August 09, 2008

Growing (B)old

Growing (B)old

Never in my life have I ever thought what I would do, once I am old. I certainly am growing old. But with age, one tends to get more and more confident of things. Right? I mean, shouldn’t that be the case? You see more, experience more, learn more and hence start reacting better with each passing day. During a conversation with one of my newer acquaintances, the individual time and again kept referring to age being a barrier to most of the things in life. Going out, enjoying life, experiencing new things, giving up old things, getting that new hair cut, high time to start taking risks. What started me to think was the next statement after the word risk, “Guess I should get married”.

Have people started thinking marriage as a risk? Or was it always this way and just that they have now started accepting the fact that it is? I believe, the point where you have to decide whom to get married to is the risk. Everyone fears pointing her/his finger towards that one individual with whom your life would be spent. I could visualize the old movie scene, where the judge says, “to be hanged till death”. Then the pen signs the dotted lines and the nib is broken, once for all. Is that how most people think?

What crap am I writing anyways? I was about to write something else. Or is it? Was it marriage or was it about getting old? I think both. You get married by a certain age and start taking life as if it’s changed. You are asked to start thinking differently (read responsibly). And why, because now, you are not one but living as a family. You are responsible for more than one life. One has to think twice before even thinking anything, ten times before doing anything and hundred times before saying anything. But a life partner should be someone who can extrapolate the joys of life, someone who gives you a new orbit of existence. And not start restricting your thoughts, words and living. You have to start doing new things, which may not necessarily mean giving up some old ones.

Ladies are asked to give up their jobs after marriage. Men are asked to stop visiting friends as often. Smoker men are asked to quit, non-drinking ladies have to start drinking. I don’t understand, what is the harm in maintaining status quo? Sometimes, one has to do things to make the “other” happy. But doesn’t that “other” has to also understand that this gesture is to be reciprocated. If you expect something which the basic human need which can be provided by another human being, that same need is expected by the first human being too.

I believe, we all at some point do think of the times when we hurt someone knowingly or unknowingly. We do realize some action, some words; some act of ours has turned that other person sour. Most of us, ignore that moment. Not because we are insensitive but because we want to avoid the reality that we hurt that person. We do not want to accept the fact that we have made someone go, suddenly silent. During those silent times, you look for that one thing that could have triggered the start of the end. Sometimes, it is not the last word you said before the conversation trailed off to silence. Infact, it was the silence that you kept when a reaction was expected from you that is the cause of the silence now.

I am getting old. I am trying to get bold. Bold enough to react when needed. Say what is expected of me and expect what is said to me. I am old enough, getting bold enough to start accepting my mistakes and others. Bold enough to be forgiven and forgive.