Monday, November 07, 2011

What to Suspect, when you are suspecting – Part 1

Not that I have started watching too many crime serials. (There are quite a few new ones on air. As it is, DSP Pradyuman will entertain our grand childrens’ family am sure!!). But talking to some people, it dawned on me that “suspecting” is more than intuition. Many a times, it is becomes a habit. I am no one to qualify it as good or bad. To start a thought with a pre-decided output in mind may not be the best way to start a thought provoking intuition.

In this short series, I shall try and point to my points of view of the various ways people do what they do. Finally, I may have a prescription to follow. But hey, I am no shrink. Infact, I shrink into a snail when thinking about my rowdy past and highly possible naughty future and being caught after a successful suspicion stint by someone close to me!!

During our growing up years, I always noticed kids complaining about their parents. They suspect their parents don’t love them enough. Parents suspect otherwise!! Kids complain parents don’t have enough time to spend with them. Parents complain the same. Kids complain they need support from parents when the entire world is against them. Parents have similar pains. God save the wrath of kids if they were sent to a hostel! First few months are a whiplash of tears, cries and curses to God. How could He send poor little kids to such parents’ home where they can’t even take care of a single kid and throw her/him in hostel dungeons? On the other hand, parents suspect their own decision! Keeping the kid in a day scholar at home versus sending to a hostel had its pros and cons. Reasons vary from better education and environment, better all round development, family tradition et all. Infact, some parents go beyond their means to give the kid a better up bringing. And yet, they keep suspecting. One sissy complaint by the kid and parents’ think tank starts shooting - Is the kid safe? Are the other kids from good back grounds? Is school taking care of her/his real needs? Do teachers understand what kids want?

Not that parents who have kids visiting day schools are any safer. Who all is the kid talking to, how is s/he being influenced, why did s/he come late today, I don’t trust this friend of her/his, there is some problem in her/his life? Kids at home suspect their parents are sabotaging their lives. Parents interfere too much in kids’ thoughts, decisions and needs. Dry comments like don’t go out now, come back by 7 pm, why, what and with whom do you talk so much on the phone, who dropped you today; are statements which are not unacceptable to kids. But all these carry genuinely suspicious connotations.

Now, to me, there is an element of surprise and shock.

I am surprised that irrespective of generation, location, culture and all other disinteresting demographics, how similar do kids and parents think? Whether a first world or third world country, whether it is a modern or conservation society, kids born in a marriage or out of wed lock, they all grow up disliking their parents, for some reason or the other.

What shocks me are the parents. They too grew up as kids, disliking their parents, murmuring under their breath and probably know exactly what is the kid thinking or feeling. And yet, they mess up.

I believe, as a kid, you should suspect what you observe.  As a parent, suspect your learning ability. How can you go wrong knowing all the way what’s the right way to deal with your kid?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meaning beyond words

“mat pooch ke kya haal hai mera tere peeche // tu dekh ke kya rang tera mere aage…..”

“go haath ko jumbish nahi aakhon mae to dam hai // rehne do abhee saagar-o-meena mere aage….”

Do people remember all important events in their lives when they were, say 9-10 yr olds? Yes? No? May be? Who cares? I confess, I don’t! But relating events now after 2 decades, in this case, this is what would have happened.

Landline telephones and TV were still new phenomena. (I mention landline as we had not even heard of mobile phones). If your house did not have a TV, you wished for one. If your parents had bought one, you wished for a color TV. The few who had a color TV, wanted some “family time”. Half of your colony neighbors, including their maids and their semi finished domestic work could be found in your house, infront of your color TV.

The farthest flash back that I can go, the first funny yet gripping, light yet racy and simply irresistible serial that I remember is “Karamchand”. To me, Pankaj Kapoor is a legend. Those are the days when I was introduced to his body of legendary work. Kitty, played by Sushmita Mukherjee was equally remarkable and remembered till date. When news came that Pankaj Kapoor’s new serial will be on air soon, naturally the entire neighborhood was excited. The day the first episode was to be telecast; all were in attendance, lined up sitting in silence at least 10 minutes before the start time. Banjo played, violin played and then….. I was hypnotized. I was stoned. I was speechless, motionless and hopeless for a few scary moments. There came on screen, “Neem ka Ped”. There came Pankaj Kapoor’s name. There came….. I remember zilch. I was speechless as I didn’t know how to react, I was motionless as not only was it a crowded room with hardly any elbow space but also because this was unexpected and hopeless as I had no clue of what did the lines mean?

I guess, till the next 4-5 years of listening to “muh ki baat sunae har koi, dil ke dard ko jaane kaun….” I did not know the exact meaning of this casting song/ghazal, whatever it was, for Neem Ka Ped. May, I didn’t ask anyone, in fear, what if I didn’t like the meaning and hence stopped liking the voice! In fact, looking back now, I remember Pankaj Kapoor, I recollect “Neem ka Ped” only because of the voice which hit my ears. I would diligently watch the casting of episodes and then move onto other priorities in life at that time, making fun of my sister, poking my pet dog et all.

I remember my father mentioning something about it being a “ghazal” and some “Singh” being the singer. Was I interested? Was I supposed to be, at the age of below 10 years? I fear not. I did keep hearing this voice singing, “tumko dekha toh yeh khayaal aaya” and something like “….mera geet amar kar do” more than once. I think it was “Rangoli” and / or “Chitrahaar”. But the feel of “muh ki baat….” stuck on my mind. I don’t know, why? All I knew was, the moment I heard the voice, I felt light.

After a few years, while still in junior classes in residential school, a new second channel from Doordarshan was introduced. It was called “DD Metro”. Apparently, it was for metro cities only. (how we managed to watch it while not being in a metro city, but in a small hamlet off Mussoorie town, is a topic of a new write-up.) Some path breaking programs were aired on this channel, one being “Super-hit Muqabla”, a musical countdown program of top 10 or 20 songs of the week. One night, while the show was on and we were trying to peep for a glimpse of the TV through the crowd, I heard the same voice. I could not believe at first. How can he sing for a movie? The video had two very fresh faces -a smart young chap and a very bright smiled, pretty girl. I focused and heard consciously – “shaam se aankh mae name si hai, aaj phir aapki kami si hai”. It was the same voice and this time round I understood the meaning of the words, without asking anyone, the video helped comprehending. But what surprised me more was, I felt sad and yet, I felt light. He had made me a romantic.

I believe our real journey together began here. Jagjit Singh became my “guiding light” this very moment. I was spell bound by the feeling of “sad lightness” or “light sadness”. I don’t know how to put it, but Jagjit Singh gave me the meaning of “meaning beyond words”. He taught me to listen to what was not being said, read what was not written, understand what did not exist and look beyond what was visible. With Jagjit Singh’s voice travelling through my ears, I always felt light, in all senses. I felt lighter on my feet. I wasn’t flying, but I was floating. I felt lighter in my head. I was not intoxicated, but I felt “happy” even while listening to a sad song in his voice!

I am guessing, few (of the very few who are reading) have started thinking, how did I commit blasphemy and not mention “Mirza Ghalib” in a write up on Jagjit Singh?

Well, I have come to realize that a deadly combo, a heady mix of “desire, passion and access”; creates an “addiction”. And of these three, according to me, “access” makes all the difference. The more you desire for something and the less it becomes accessible to you, you tend to desire it more and become more passionate about it. Then, gradually, the more accessible it becomes, the more you get into habit. The more you get into habit, defines addiction. Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, Jagmohan Singh and Sampooran Singh Kalra are my bar tenders of my cocktail of life.

Mirza gave birth to my desire to unravel the mysteries between the obviously stated and understated. Sampooran’s (Gulzar) passion to brew life into everything around – from the half burnt cigarette to the unreturned luggage and even the charred wood of yester night’s get together. Jagmohan (Jagjit Singh) became the bridge giving me access to this mesmerizing world of unrealistic pleasures of romance, death, life, lies and truth. If not for him, I am sure, even Mirza and Gulzar would have been as important to me as Stephen Hawking or Amartya Sen.

I remember him not as someone who was talented and a great artist with heavy, baritone, velvet smooth and honey dipped voice. I will remember him as someone who influenced my life without knowing what he was doing to me. He changed the way I think, the way I live.

To his talent and indescribable voice I can only think of my addiction, my heady mix and hum along,

“koi ummeed bar naheeN aatee // koi soorat nazar nahi aatee…”

“maut ka ek din mu'ayyan hai // neend kyon raat bhar nahi aatee?

[ mu'ayyan = definite ]

- ishQ (30th October 2011)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Boom Boom Baanga

(Our tribute to the most loved teacher in school)

Mr. Prashant Kumar Bagchi.... we love you, Sir!!

He remembered each and every boy who passed out

Didn’t matter if you were a star or went without a shout

In his eyes every boy was the same

He would tell you every incident with the exact name.

A man who lived to love all his boys

For him there were no Brigadier and no Vice Roys

You will remain a student whom he helped grow

His affection for his boys was always a grand show.

If angry, he was a blind warrior,

But when in mood, Boy! no one was merrier.

He could tell you stories - grand and untold,

But his present boys were best, mind you - not the old.

He had no favorites; everyone was his own

Everyone was “bhondu-paattha”, though a difference in his tone

Clear in his heart and straight with his talk

By God, if he is pissed, you are in for a shock.

Don’t look for a horse or a taanga

If behind you with a bat is Baanga

Run for your life and get out of his sight

So what if you are the school captain, kick he might!

We love you Sir, for the man you are

We love you Sir, you are the best by far

We miss you now on visits to the Oak

People like you made a man out of a wild bloke.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Nervous Nineties Nautanki_Part 1

(Nervous about senior school)

Be it as a day scholar or a boarder, we detest going to school, the first few days. When I was a kid, I remember being happier sprinting out of school than walking in. Ofcourse, with time and as you gain friends, you start getting used to school, if not really like it. You stop over reacting every day morning, atleast. Why only me, everyone would dread waiting for the rickshaw-wala to whistle and call out for Mother to push us out of home towards school. And the rickshaw-wala at that early hour of the morning would so happily reach out and take our school bag, as if he was dropping us to the railway station for a vacation to a hill station!

This takes me to a hill station, a boarding school, a golden prison. You don’t want to go there. Once there you don’t want to leave. What I believe is we used to fear going to day school. Fear of the unknown. We did not know and did not want to know what will school give us today and tomorrow?

At boarding, we could not fear the unknown. We were aware of the obvious. We knew our destiny. We were just nervous from which direction will it arrive? The spread of choices was known too. It could be in the dining hall, dormitory, classroom or play ground. It could be early morning, mid-day after lunch, late evening or late night. It could be a blessing right from Class VII to Class XII. We were never at loss of options.

Still residing in junior school, we had seen some but heard so many tales of terror that the mention of senior school made us sweat even in winters when temperature would get as close to zero degrees. From the cordoned off junior school campus, watching young boys “fagging” on tennis and basketball courts, some of them with red faces and watery eyes after being “dhunned” properly and a few running madly and perhaps blindly to save themselves the painful sessions of “get down and don’t get up till I tell you”. All this was tradition and part of the curriculum. Teachers knew, understood and encouraged such “educational ragging”. (I would vote for it a million times, if asked). Some of it which happened in the dormitory was a “stinky” story. Washing stinking socks, handkerchiefs, under-garments and over-garments, massaging stinking feet and making stinking beds every morning was a ritual. But do I regret it, not a bit. I passed on some stink myself. We knew what waited for us in senior school.

Ofcourse, then there were the “fukko” stories. There was one “Fukko”, one “Toady” and atleast one “Bhont” in each batch. All three characters had high reflexes. The entire batch would have fun on their account atleast once a day. The Fukko would, as a reflex, get over excited and say or do something to entertain the entire class at one go. The Bhont would, as a reflex, not say or not do something which was supposed to be and hence entertain the class/people around. Toady would, well as a reflex, act in the most unpredictable way and yet exhibit the most straight-faced expression as if he is does even exist in the event.

The phrase “a known devil is always better than an unknown one” had its own charm to us. Standing alone or in a group, holding the fence bars and peeping through them, we had a nervous boil in the stomach. It was not butterflies. It were dragon flies, perhaps, because all we could hear and see were fire spewed out from mouths, ears, nostrils et all.

Guess, Chulbul Pandey was an ex-OG. Itne ched kar chuka tha, ke har jagah se aag nikal rahi thi!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raksha Ban-dhan

Since the time I can remember, this day was not just about siblings and their banter. It was about an entire family coming together and celebrating togetherness. Different it may be, but in India, on any given occasion, togetherness is celebrated and a reason is assigned to it. There is a long standing belief, a lyrical story weaved around it, flowers, sweets, lights, vows, chants et all. To me, this was one more.

As per tradition, as the name suggests, the brother would vow to protect and take care of his sister. This was “Raksha”. But then, there were also times, when, simply, the elder would protect junior. Gender didn’t matter. In a lot of ways and many a times, in my case, my sister was my savior. Just by observing her, I learnt a lot. Interestingly, not only did I learn what to do, but also what not to do in life! If asked to rank, one thing I learnt not to do in life from her, I would shout – she taught me, never to under estimate oneself.

Anyhow, back to the nomenclature. To receive proper “Raksha”, i.e. protection, caring and security, one had to “compensate” the other party. In India, compensation has many ways to enter pockets – salary, bribe, gifts et all. This ceremony involved gifts. Indians are very kind souls, by nature. Hence, “gifts in kind” is a preferred mode. The brightest saree, ear-rings, necklace for sisters was the prime and kindest way to show affection. Sisters would shower their kindness by way of new formal shirts, flowery kurtas, colorful tees and sometimes lucky ones would get watches. With time, gifts did not remain kind anymore. They became smarter – smart comments on tees, smart watches and smart phones started ruling.

Hindu mythology has documented that body, soul and money (tann, mann aur dhan) makes or breaks – even the protector. Varying combination of these three aspects in our lives can change our life. Our life can go in either direction, as we want it to. With our tann (body, its strength and uses) we can earn more dhan. With our mann, we can influence our brain (tann) and perform to take balanced decisions. With more dhan coming in, we can care for our tann and keep our mann content. Or, as I said, it could go either way. With a strong tann, we can bully the weaker sections of the society. With more dhan we buy influences in our favor. With our narrow mann, we change the entire thought process of the world.

On this Raksha Bandhan too, a brother came visiting his sister in a big black shining sedan. The entire family celebrated togetherness. Protection vows were taken, expensive gifts were exchanged, sweets shared and laughter spread. On the way out from the housing society where the sister lives, the security guard who would probably be one of the first people to come forward to protect and safe guard the sister, in the unfortunate incident that something happens to her, was abused, physically assaulted and threatened by the brother. The brother, who stays atleast a couple of hours off and who a couple of hours back would have vowed to protect his sister, did not only jeopardize any future attempts by this security guard to shelter his sister. He probably misbehaved with a poor brother who could not visit his sister on this day. The guard was working on Raksha Bandhan to earn some extra money for his family, which may have a sister. His fault, he was trying to perform his duties well – he asked the brother to make an entry in the visitor’s register.

Not sure, if it was the tann, mann or the dhan talking. But security of the security guard was compromised. If he is not safe, is the sister safe? Who vowed, who actioned and who will suffer?



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pen Down

It’s been a while that I penned down my thoughts. Which reminds me of the time when for the first time I got hear of the phrase “pen down”.

I joined boarding school. There were no landline phones for students’ use, the only mail we had heard was male and female and mobile phones were unheard of. The only way to communicate one’s well being to parents was through letters.

Writing letters was still undiscovered by most new joinees. We thought, to help us, most of the letter update was either dictated or actually chalked on the blackboard, starting from “Dear” and ending with “Yours Lovingly”. It was only later that we found out that infact, letters to parents had a format and no one could afford to write one extra bit over and above the prescribed news to publish. For this, every Friday there were two periods dedicated to letter writing. Friday was a good day as it was weekend. Boys and girls had to give the entire week’s news to their parents and make them feel proud.

So, first Friday in school, the teacher starts dictating my news to my parents which was exactly the same news all my batch mates experienced over the first week. I suspect the first letter written to parents in the week of joining may have had one extra line on us have “settled down”. Anyhow, somewhere among “I am hale and hearty” and “by the grace of Almighty” and , “sailing in the same boat”, I drowned in the moment. I had stopped writing and had started day dreaming of being with my parents and telling them what is happening in school rather than writing my experiences. When I regained senses, I could hear “pen down” by the teacher. Since, it seemed I had spent hours fantasizing, I feared the letter is about to end and I put my pen down. I also feared this phrase had to be a part of the letter. I did manage to finish my letter on my own, could not manage to fit in the phrase anywhere though. I folded the letter, inserted it in the envelope and acted as if “I am hale and hearty” and all my batch mates are “sailing in the same boat”. I don’t know why, but the phrase stuck to my mind.

Next Friday, when letter writing period started, all I wanted was not to miss the phrase in my letter. I started with “Dear”, went onto “hale and hearty”, made my parents “sail in the same boat” and took Almighty’s grace too. Then came weather update and Sunday movie exhibit too. My excitement was growing by the minute and with every line. Every full stop made by heart beat stop.

Once my teacher had dictated all my news to my parents to me and I had scribbled all, there was a pause. Probably, my teacher was still unsure if we have “settled down” as there could have been one new student in the class who joined late and was not a part of the first experience in letter writing. That pause was the longest I had held my breath out of water. Finally, she said, “OK, now you may pen down your name”. This is it, I rejuvenated. But I could only hear “pen down” as that is all I wanted to hear. So, I created my sentence. I started with wrote the usual end as formatted, “Rest all is fine” and then gave my spin, “since there is nothing more to add, I pen down here”!!

I still remember the tight slap smacked across my face by the Headmistress who did sample checks of student letters to parents and I was the lucky one. Lucky since if that letter was not caught that evening, I would not be penning down my thoughts but would have pen down here.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011


(This is a fantasizing view of reality as it unfolded; a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical account of past events with hopefully no future implications. This will be a three part series on what could have possibly happened if dreams came true. For some people, some dreams actually did. )


We all love thrills. We may be living and experiencing a very constrained and disciplined life. In no way, it meant we did not have opportunities to experience thrill, especially the cheap ones.

While in junior division, bathing was fun. It was a common exercise. All boys had to kneel down together and get a bath-full in a queue. Interestingly, only a select few were allowed to wear undergarments for bath. No explanations to the criteria. But that was the thrill. Waiting for the day when you are told, “wear something from tomorrow”. Thrill was over. The thrill was in waiting.

When boys got to senior division, everyday was a thrill. Spanking was a surety. Here too, it was a common exercise. No matter who made a mistake, the entire batch would be “washed off the sins of error”. Thrill began with waiting for the prefect announcing after breakfast or lunch, “Class Z, move in”. Once inside the classroom, seniors would walk in and make the class sit with “eyes closed and fingers on your lips”. Boys could hear whispers and talks in the corridor. But there was pin drop silence in the class. The real thrill began in knowing there is a slap coming but not knowing from where and with whom will it begin? We knew someone will try opening his eyes slightly. To check who opens first, someone will open his eyes before the first one! Washing began and thrill was over. The thrill was in waiting.

As I said, life was disciplined. Everything followed the clock. There were very limited options for everything, including of the opposite sex. Hence, it actually helped keeping time. But, interestingly, here too, it was always a common exercise. There was no jealousy, no competition. “She is mine, but you can try your luck too” was the bonhomie feeling. Ofcourse, she became no one’s. And, boys waited for the exact time for girls to come walking out of the bamboo trees on the turn for “combined classes”. They waited for that one sly look, that one wicked smile. They waited for her to give a look. They had preferences. But in fact any one of the girls from the bunch would do, actually. Once the girls had gone, the small discussion which ensued, started with “today, she couldn’t trace me in the crowd” and ended with “bastard, why did you block my view? She looked at me and was about to smile”. The other would just retort, “Be in your boots. She was looking at me and even whispered something to her friend about me. Anyways, lets wait for tomorrow and see at whom does she smile”? We neither got a smile back nor ever got to know what was whispered, last of all, if at all it was about anyone in the boys crowd. But it was thrilling. We waited for tomorrow to come.

Boys waited for an invitation to be sent to girls’ school to come and watch our match. The boys in the sports team were excited. But the boys on the stands were even more excited. The playing XI would not have much time, energy or bandwidth to have a good look at the girls in the stands. The ones in the stands were the ones who had all the fun. But in the playing XI, the one who had even half the chance of scoring a goal infront the crowd which constituted of girls would just blank out. He started imagining which side of the field would he run and celebrate; the way in which he would celebrate and towards which girl will he kiss and raise his finger? The wait for confirmation of invitation, the wait for those beauties to walk up to the stands, the wait for that pass which created that half a chance to blank out. The thrill was in the wait.

One of the biggest waits was when boys waited for “Gorgeous”. Here too, “Gorgeous” was everyone’s quest but no one’s conquest. It was a common exercise. All boys had equal faith and hope to harvest their field of imaginations. Everyone waited for her to come out, walk the entire length of the road and disappear in the sloping horizon. Boys waited for her to take the last turn, sprint across the corridors and catch a second glimpse of her from another angle, with waited breath to not let her know they ran like there was no tomorrow. On most days she won’t smile. The day she did, it was assumed it was for a reason. All boys made it their responsibility to convince self and the rest that she smiled at him and only him. The entire day passed in a second waiting for her to return, walk back the entire length and flash the same smile. The day passed. She passed all boys, without a smile. What she left was a new thrill for tomorrow. For today, the thrill was over. The thrill was in the wait.

The real thrill is when you are on the edge and waiting; for the outcome. Deep inside, the factual outcome that would be, is not what you want. But you still expect the same. The imaginative possibility will never be. Yet, you desire. The chase between reality and desire is the “thrill”. Boys chased such moments, everyday. On the hills, with the chills, we played hide and seek with our own thrills.

(MAY BE continued.... )


(This is a fantasizing view of reality as it unfolded; a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical account of past events with hopefully no future implications. This will be a three part series on what could have possibly happened if dreams came true. For some people, some dreams actually did. )

I don’t know if all kids get a sense of becoming adults at the age we did. Education certainly helps. More so, when you get educated on the “taboo” topics? Batches before and after, may or may not vouch for it. But after long debates and animated remembrances of good old days and nights over coffee, beer and morning tea the next day, this batch came to some conclusions. No offence, all defense; good education happens only if there is quality fa-cult-y. We salute the “select few” (and their families) for making us curious, matured and horny boys!

Surely, we did have some fa-cult-y figures, starting with the “few boys” not in the “same age group” of the batch they were in. These “big boys” started with becoming the biggest bullies of the batch at the beginning of school. But by the time we left school they became the sweetest and most helpful chaps around. In the entire journey, though, they were a pain mostly. To others, they taught a lot; directly and tacitly. Just by observing these big boys, others learnt so much. It all began from junior division actually; with the way they dressed up, latest fad and style. The way they moved around among teachers, staff and the girls, smooth operators. They were allowed to do “stuff” which normally would have got you “chilly” berates in front of an entire crowd if not the entire school. Even wardens who were not supposed to be in boys’ dormitory made regular visits to ensure these “big boys with big toys” went to sleep at ease, much to the unease of others. The best part, boys feared them, some revered them and tried to emulate them, a very few were hated. Some of them, I believe, are still scorned. But interestingly, boys never got jealous of them. They were simply amazed at what these “big boys” could pull off. On the hills, boys needed guidance. These big boys with their big toys made everything a playground. We thank them and their families to have sent them for us.

We all had infatuations. Boys had their pick. A brush of “chill” down the spine (and other body parts) was by cult figures that were “respected”. Some of these cult figures had figures which were the object of fantasy by one and all at some point during or even after school life. It certainly was a dream that some boys had access to a few of them at odd hours of the day (and night). There were rumors of atleast two of them having given “experiential learning” to their pupils. No confirmations, no denials either. As I (dis)claimed, some dreams may have come true. We also thank immediate families of these respected few for making regular visits and adding fuel to our fantasies. We did get to hear some suggestive sounds during such visits.

While discussing about the past few years, we had a realization. Did we ever regret these big boys being in our batches? Did we actually want to be in a situation where we were locked in the games kit room and caught off guard? Did we really think we could get away with the “extra classes”?
The answer was a chilling, NO.
(to be continued.....)


(This is a fantasizing view of reality as it unfolded; a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical account of past events with hopefully no future implications. This will be a three part series on what could have possibly happened if dreams came true. For some people, some dreams actually did. )


Why hill stations are favored more for honeymoons, against say, beaches or any other tourist spot? Infact, I don’t see a third option other than these two. But a hill station would win pants down, oops, hands down. Some say it’s got something to do with the temperature. Well, inside the honeymoon suite or outside? Anyways, for kids who were sent to boarding schools on hill stations at a ripe age of eight (many younger than that) a hill station for pleasure was a fantasy in itself. Or was it?

At the beginning, hill station signified a prison. There was only one word to define life up there – discipline. Everything was a routine. Get up at 0530 hrs , breakfast at 0800 hrs, 10 mins breaks in between never ending 45 mins classes, lunch at 1245 hrs, tea time at 1545 hrs, get refreshed by 1830 hrs, finish dinner in 15 mins and lights out at 2000 hrs. Next day get up at 0530 hrs, breakfast by 0800 hrs and so on..… You had to follow the tick of the clock. Life started with an ear smashing, teeth cringing wake up bell ring and ended with a single shout of “lights out”. Life took twists and turns as you kept moving up standards. Gradually, you started getting used to the tick of the clock. Later, it felt weird if things didn’t happen at the designated time. A lot of times it got depressing, irritating and desperate if things didn’t happen at the right time. (more on the depressing and desperate times as it ‘chills’). Anyhow, the early morning wake up bell ring remained constant. Everything during the day was also more or less stagnantly similar. Life brightened, though, after the “lights out” shout. Boys turned nocturnal creatures. In the cold dark night when most of the world would be getting ready to slip into their warm beds, boys would crave for fun and pleasure. Many a times, it would be experimental. Some liked it slow and smooth. Few preferred a quickie. There were the odd ones who slept off mid way. Because of low temperatures at most times of the year, the least preferred was the wet one. It was an addiction, though. Once back in the dormitory, it was lights out, flesh in.

Yes! But before your imagination runs wild and gory, let me clarify. By flesh I only meant massage. Seniors had only two modes of entertainment. The most common and entertaining was the massage. Sportsman or not, if you are a senior you got to get tired. If you are tired, you got to get massage. Most seniors had one boy massaging his whole body. But there were some who had a boy massaging their feet and another on their arms! I don’t think even Rocky Balbao had such a lavish massage after a massive fight night. The “wet” variation was the other entertainment, i.e. washing clothes. Some or the other senior would throw some or the other garment at your face. You had to manage the washing soap, the scrubbing brush and manage not getting caught by the warden. Shirt, trouser, handkerchief and socks were the norm. But, there were some boys in every batch who got the “sacred undies” to wash.

Many of us, juniors, had started believing that these hills, these Rocky Mountains were making us a rock from within and the outside. We didn’t feel anything. The cold certainly did its magic too. As a junior, in the freezing night temperature, while washing clothes, hands in that cold water, we stopped feeling our own fingers. If the warden caught you and kept slapping you, you stood without feeling anything. But God forbid, if clothes are not cleaned properly, the million slaps that were smacked across your face, really made the cheeks senseless. You stopped feeling anything. It was cold out there, no doubt. The weather, attitude of seniors, water from the taps, the winds, everything was cold. The only feeling that kept it warm up on the hills was what most of us mistook as the most pure and innocent feeling in life; knowing very well we desired the unachievable. We knew we were never ever going to conquer what we dreamt. We could never touch. Hence, it remained pure. We never complicated it and it remained innocent.

But it wasn’t the feeling of love. It never could be. What kept it hot and burning; heated arguments over “the look”, burning discussions on “the moves” and hot descriptions of “the encounter”. In the “chills” of the hills, what covered our eyes and minds was the dust of lust.

(to be continued....)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Same change

We all want change. But we don’t want to change. Is there a difference between the two?

When I was young, I wanted to grow up as quickly as possible. By the time I grew to an impressionable age, I wanted my childhood days back and yet be of this impressionable age. I wanted a new life but the same self. So, I was looking at more independence, more money, and more luxuries but in the same free, easy going, care a damn for anyone attitude. Oh, I almost forgot; I certainly needed the same set of friends! So, I wanted change but did not want to change. It’s the same change, every time.

To make things interesting (read confusing), by the time I started to understand the difference between work and job, flew in another term which people called career. Till that point in time, I was very sure it meant something in which Dad took lunch to office. Some enlightened souls did try to highlight the core. I did get their point, somehow. Work was what was told to me and job was what offered to me. Career was what I chose. I chose to work less and earn more. So, I wanted change but did not want to change. It’s the same change, every time.

The day I got my first “job” offer, I was euphoric. From that day, I wanted to be regarded differently. I was not a kid. I was not a student and I was unemployed no more. I was earning my own bread. The day I got my first salary, I was elated to no extent. But, by the end of the first week of receiving that salary, I was jolted by reality. I had blown away all my hard(ly) worked, well earned monies in seven days flat!! I was back to my student, unemployed days. I was requesting new set of people for money. My old loans stood strong and debtors sitting tight expecting their return as I was unemployed no more! How cruel can the world be? This was my first salary. I had my own desires to fulfill. Not much had changed. Or had it? Well, I wanted change but did not want to change. It’s the same change, every time.

When I got married, hmmm….. Well, let’s pick another topic. Not to miss, I wanted change, but I did not want to change. It’s the same change, every time.

With time, one gains knowledge. Use of this knowledge gives wisdom. With wisdom you expect basic common sense to blossom and prevail over the next flight of time. In all this time, what I learnt was the more you earn, the more you spend. This is because, the more you earn, the more you want. You want more because you have more to spend. When you spend more, you are left with less. When you are left with less, you want to earn more. When you earn more, you spend more. It’s the same change, every time.

How big a car does one person need to commute from point A to point B? Do you take more space to sit in a bigger car? Can you see the color of your own car sitting inside? Does it really matter if the car is read, blue or maroon? I really don’t know. But then, it does matter, I guess. People pay extra to get their preferred color. Some people pay heaven’s price to have a special number plate. Will I someday, be able to afford a number plate as expensive as the whole vehicle? And even if I did, will I actually pay for it? May be, not. May be, that’s why I may never be able to afford the number plate. I cannot work more to earn more to not see what I have paid for.

It’s the same change, every time.