Friday, July 30, 2010

22nd July 2010

One would think that this birthday when I am quite close to the big ‘THREE-OH’ would dampen my spirits on my birthday! I cannot but relate this expectation to a F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode which shows the reactions of everyone when they celebrated their 30th birthday... But my birthday was yet again an occasion to get pampered and feel young all over again…. 22nd July despite being a working day & despite the wrath of rain gods, still managed to make me smile (or giggle more likely) through the day!

So, why did this happen? May be coz things like dress codes, surprises, gifts, hugs and night-outs – still remained ‘the usuals’ at my birthday… May be coz all the relevant people in my life have their own ways of making me feel special…. May be coz it wasn’t really a day but a week of celebrations! May be coz even if I’m a pessimist at heart, I ALWAYS end up seeing the silver light on that day… And more importantly coz, it’s probably the only day when I decide to act mature and also succeed in it (For instance, maintaining a written “call list” wasn’t done AT ALL… Though end of day, I counted the number of calls/posts  (Do I see the readers nodding their head with only one statement in their mind ‘When will she grow up?’)

Anyway, without further ado & rambling, this is how 22nd July 2010 was! It started with Vraj picking me up after work on 21st night…. With my zero observation skills, quite naturally I did not realise he had changed into a different set of clothes…. Only when he pointed it out, I was like “Oh you did!!! Oh that means we are going out!!! Oh, considering you are a ‘Birla’s aulad’ it’ll be a hep hotel with candle light dinner…. Oh, meri ijjat ki waat lagegi in some 5-star hotel coz of what I am wearing… you are so rude na – why won’t you ask me to get a change of clothes too if you were planning something!” If you can believe this, I actually managed to say ALL OF THIS in a single breath!

But after the volley of statements, throughout the ride – I was guessing all the possible hotels in Mumbai where he could take me to…. I even googled and started listing them…. Vraj played his part well – sometimes ‘acted’ saying, “Oh! U r so smart – u guessed!”, sometimes just smiling as if his plan was exposed etc. … Net – Net, “Ullu banaya mujhe!” Finally, we came to this place called, ‘Dadar, Mumbai 28’! It’s a vintage hotel of sorts (as you can guess from the name) and apparently serves awesome non-veg food (which we came to know only after dinner there)! At the restaurant, I got my first gift – Godiva liqueur chocolate box! Now that’s a sweet start of the day, ain’t it?

Inside, zero observation skills were displayed yet again when I did not notice a table full of 12 odd people – my very own junta – patiently waiting for me (did I mention I got late that day too!)…. And when I did see them, I failed to notice that they were all in Red & Black, my favourite colors! Of course, GS was in pink but I give it to him since it’s a shade of Red  Shruti was there with her ‘better’ half and told me how I unnecessarily harassed her the previous night (I had called her and told her how I found out she is coming to my house and she insisted on how she wasn’t! And when I agreed to what she had to say, I sulked!)

The other jhang-bang was there too!
1. Mom-Dad (long ride from Borivli to Dadar in heavy rains and after work)
2. Shruti-Shraddha(after a night out due to exams/projects)
3. Saasumaa-Sasurji (after long tiring day with all travelling involved due to the ‘dress-code’ factor)

I couldn’t stop smiling and feeling special for the pains they took for me. After talking to everyone and hugging them, I asked “Priya kyun nahi aayi? Of course, she has to come!” And then madame made her presence felt. As usual she was like, “Arre! Tum log yahan kaise? I heard abt this place and I just came” Such a childish attempt na but if it was any more sophisticated, it wouldn't have been her

After a sumptuous dinner, which ended very fast (surprisingly considering the laughs and banter around) we waited & at 11:15 pm waiters’ got my ‘surprise’ cake! Vraj was like, “Areeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy! Abhi nahi!!!” and we all laughed at his reaction! Anyway, we killed time till midnight.... Can you imagine that 11 people on the table wanted to pay the bill and leave early and ONLY Vraj held the fort and made us wait.... Basu messaged saying, I’m sleeping so happy budday in advance and I called him and forced him to stay up and wish... (This is the price to pay to love me, but a small one! )Of course, he wished me at 12 else he would have to hear that till he became a grandfather

To pass time, we ordered desserts and at the stroke of mid-night (which were actually 4 different strokes – one said central railway time, one said western railway time, one said JnJ time and other said right time period ) my first cake came! I cut the cake, fed everyone, took snaps from Priya’s cam and suddenly I had a juggernaut force coming down on me! It was a hug from Namu who came from Bangalore to surprise me.... Obviously, since she is the ‘noise’ of the house, hajar awaaz happened with her arrival.... Archana wished me too (Yes! Since shaadi with GS our ‘super-early’ morning person has learned to stay up!) and then there was an unexpected caller Rahul.... After talking to him, I realised that his excitement came NOT from wishing me but hearing me say ‘shiv, shiv, shiv!” in response to him saying “chicken”!

Finally at 12:35 we left that place for Mulund! Did I mention I got my second round of gifts here  Shruti, Praveen & GS bid adieu here and we reached my Mulund house (Phulgirkars – Datars – Priya) Here I got the third set of gifts  Then after a round of ice-creams, all senior citizens slept off and we all stayed up! I was up till 4:00 am checking FB, mails etc. & at that point my old bones forced me to sleep till 7 am.... “Things well begun, day awesomely done”, I thought as I slept

Dressed up in my new clothes & got a fourth round of gifts in the morning. I came late to office and got fully drenched (Mumbai rains) in the process. As luck may have it, our administration chose to have the lowest possible temperatures that day! But no amount of cold could have doused my enthu-ness – after all it was my budday! As soon as I entered, Nupur & Manish wished me.... I had a round of calls during the day as well.... Ideally, I would have had a second cake cutting ceremony @ office but since I had joined only 3 weeks ago – no one really knew it was my birthday.... Now, I am super enthu about my birthday but going and telling people, “its my budday wish me!” isn’t really an awesome thing to do! At 5:00 pm, I left for Borivli so that I could spend some time with Namu. Aai – Baba graciously agreed to let me spend my day there! I got drenched again and because of this, I did not go to meet Nishu & Arti who had actually got candles and chocolates for me.... Sorry baccha! Will make up for this!!! We were supposed to leave for ‘Inception’ – a movie that everyone dared me that I won’t understand.... Vraj came late, rains did not stop and idea of getting drenched for the third time did not sound too appealing.... So, we ordered in, ate garam-garam food and played cards till it was 23rd July 2010 – the 8 people closest to me!

In the last ten minutes, while my father dealt the cards, I checked through the list of phone calls.... So many people tried innumerable times to get through to me and wish me.... So many of them do this year on year without fail and just make me feel special.... Amit who never once forgot to call on my budday, Ashwath who called and we spoke for almost an hour, Ninad who calls despite having a right to get mad for not meeting often even if we are in the same city.... GG messaged, mailed and called  I would have been happy knowing he remembered but he really surpassed himself when he used every form of communication! Shaw, Needs & Shruti called back-to-back and had I not known better I would have thought – “Hawww! They have come to surprise me”  (Yeh dil always maange more people so please don’t get bugged) Relatives – Maussis, Chachas, Chachis, Mamas – Minutai, Ruparel friends Pritee, Abhijit etc., JJ Medical college friends (No! I did not go there but still managed to meet Pooja) and a few juniors Mayank, Noddy, Chhallo, Ankoor, Rajant called too.... Arundhati called – increasing the number of continents I received calls from to 4

After the game concluded, Vraj and I left for Mulund.... Got drenched the third time! As I went off to sleep, I thanked God for giving me signs to tell me once and for all – “Sharmili, stop whining about being old and writing blogs like you are 65... You have a long way to go there!”
The birthday celebrations continued on 24th July 2010 when I cut my second cake – in Lonavla... Awesome cake, brilliant view, 8 people huddled up on a bed drinking cool breezers and the thought that Shruti remembered my funda of a ‘Birthday Week’ – I was all smiles again 
Such was 22nd July 2010 – as awesome as the others were and I felt as special as I did in others... Over the years, people participating in my budday have changed (since the time I have started writing this), surprises have changed, and people giving surprises have changed!!! But through all the years, a certain set NEVER changes.... May be that’s what they call a core!!! A core that is not only of people who are bound by blood to love me but also of those who love me despite the ‘consistent’ disruption I cause in their lives.

Love you all!!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010


There comes a time in life when you learn
To take things in stride and not just yearn
Life takes turns; gives chances too few
You get this and live, that's acceptance to you!

Nothing remains permanent but change
Each relationship goes through phases, a wide range
A time come when your best buddy won't talk to you
You heart would wrench but you move on, that's acceptance to you!

All your life, you continued to run a rat's race
"Important" things got left behind, you begin to lose face
Finally you stop thinking only about yourself and what others think of you
You grow up in life, that's acceptance to you!

You find love, you cherish love & you marry your soul mate
Experience ups and downs, at times feel resigned to fate
You try hard to change yourself & sometimes your partner too
Happiness comes only when you love unconditionally, that's acceptance to you!

Years go by & your age reaches its fall
Health leaves you, you cannot stand tall
In your last moments, you think of everyone who mattered to you
You close your eyes hoping you made them happy too, that's acceptance to you!

Such is Life!!!

Rains through your window, greenery everywhere, cool breeze and a warm "cheese" maggi... You have snuggled up in a shawl, all by yourself in the house and its a weekend afternoon where you can do whatever you want...

I have to admit such moments have been very rare in my life... Work - office or ghar ka, Catching up - relatives or friends OR movies have just made this time impossible to attain... The last time I was this chilled out was in IIMB!!!

So, what would you do/think during this time? Most people would take a deep breath,exhale away their worries (temporarily) and become calm to get absorbed in the spectacle called "nature"... I chose to get my IIMB laptop and notes/letter out and read... The history lesson of my life people; and the only learning from it was C'est la Vie! (Such is life!)

A note written about me said, "The coldness in her fights is only matched by the warmth in her care. You have to understand her to know her. And then you get addicted!!" My first thought after reading this was who shoulders a greater burden? Is it the person who chose to leave OR I for driving this person away? The answer came when I was discussing this situation with a VERY dear friend... He said such a situation arose because I chose to not stick to the ONE motto I live by "Live and let Live"!!!

You dont know what you have until you lose it... But before it came to that extreme scenario lemme thank God for digital cameras... Some pictures speak a thousand words! And these I saw made me realize that I am among the few lucky ones who is pampered left, right and centre!!! There exist people in my life who have vowed to make me happy as long as they know me (which means for the rest of my life)... One took a silly scribbled note given to him 3 years ago and promised me to take care of me - whatever happens... One who gave a shoulder whenever I needed one... One who patiently waited till I stop fussing... One who discussed every issue I had... One who made me smile when my insides were crying... Its a "happy" bunch - we have shared everything from notes to talks and the dreams of future!!!

I have innumerable notes which prove I love to be "child-like" (definitely not childish)... I sat back and reflected how, of late this has been just impossible... The child in me is being forced to grow up... Call it nature of work or the expectations of people around... Net-Net - The child fights at time, thus being childish and sometimes it gives up, thus fading into oblivion... The important thing is knowing when you can switch between these two!

A note which stated the incident of making a choice between career and personal life made me think why is this being asked of every woman! Why dont men have to have to answer this? And if say a man did make his choice, why is it frowned upon if a woman makes career as her first priority? At such times, I resist... Does that make me a rebel without a cause? Quite frankly, cause or no cause - I would continue to resist!!!

I had started to write my new year resolutions on paper... Silly I know but there were so many things I thought I would do by now and I haven't done them... So many things to do and I cannot shake the feeling of "Time is slipping away"! Things when you want to do something about your dancing, about your game, about your painting or about your music... About those goals which an immature youth had written years ago...
While I kept thinking of how many things I have to do in life, I was reminded of my meeting with this 38 yr old CEO... His struggle, his conviction and his place in the society/market today made me question - would I be anyone significant in the value chain - 10 years hence - professionally? I do not have answer for it but I know what I would like the answer to be...

And when you think of all the thoughts above, of the success stories of others around you, you doubt! You question where you have come and what you have become till date... There is always someone who is better off than you... That's my problem - I always find people better than me... And when you feel you are coming last in this race - you are faced with a series of "What have I done in life?" questions...

Its scary to have such free time... Time when you have nothing to do... It makes you think of what you could have done differently... Could you have prevented people from walking away from you? Could you be more happy with yourself? Could you do something to lose people dear to you? And the more you think - the more elusive the answers get...

So, on a rainy saturday afternoon with nothing to do - spend your time looking out of the window... Watch the merry kids getting wet in rains, the water-logged streets, the vehicles dashing water on all pedestrians! Taking a trip down memory lane alone may not be the best thing you do...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Small Joys of Life!

An instant smile lights up my face when these things happen!!! May be the same things happen with you too!!!

1. See a bus full of kids going to school, see them talking/fighting/smiling…. Take a minute of your traffic time to think about your school time/picnic time etc.
2. Cleaning your wardrobe after ages and see that old jeans you used to fit in…. Rummage through the pockets and find some note from a friend or self written to remind about some incident….
3. Cleaning your wardrobe after ages and see that old jeans you used to fit in…. You try it on and YOU FIT IN!!!
4. Hearing from an old friend after a long time and talk about absolute nonsense yet, feel content at the end of it….
5. Random bitch sessions about anyone and everyone with your friends J
6. Seeing photos from a past trip with a friend and then messaging “I miss you” only to get a call in return….
7. Getting a “I miss you” message/mail/call from someone you thought you had lost…
8. Reading comments on the blog you write (Disclaimer – not written here on purpose! It GENUINELY is a joy to read)….
9. Run for a train/bus/cab and just about making it….
10. Leaving slightly later than schedule and getting all lights green (or connecting trains or cabs immediately or even ships if push comes to shove) to still make it on time (Never happens to me – thanks to Murphy’s love for me)
11. Go to a random movie without plans and end up seeing one of the most enjoyable movies….
12. Get up late in the afternoon and realize that you can still sleep some more J
13. Read a section just last minute before an exam and it comes as a question for 10 marks and u end up scoring well!!!
14. And lastly after the genesis of 3 idiots – Seeing your alma mater in the movie and all those places where you spent 2 glorious years of your life…

I am sure there are much more... But in the mundaneness of existing, we just DON'T wait n experience them!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Every Guy's Dream - My new job!!!

I know that every job ceases to be interesting after some time - as in a dream job is just a mirage! But I still stand by my subject line...

For me, my first stint was a dream job (all the newbie excitement) and I was in love with my company - something like Saif's reaction in song "Main Kya Hoon..." from Love AajKal... In about 3.5 months (in my second stint), I am in the same state that he was in after that 3.5 min song got over! But that I still believe that a guy would consider this a dream job!!

Why you ask? Take a look at my day-to-day conversation with "people" and you would realise:

"I need 5 girls (to be recruited) by Monday"
"I can supply (send more appropriate) 3 girls by tomorrow after training"
"Mujhe meri requirements ki hi ladki chahiye... No deal otherwise!!!"
"The girls I need should have a good complexion and need to be presentable"
"Please remove this girl. Her (selling) services aren't satisfactory"

While one may be tempted me to call my profession by a completely derogatory name; please hold your thoughts coz I am doing nothing but recruiting sales girls (promoters) for my brand!

And now the subject line would make sense!!! Coz I think a guy doing this job would keep himself and the promoters quite motivated throughout the tenure of his project (I would like to believe using strictly professional means) ;))) But mind you, such a harmless (and fun!!!) sounding job is VERY challenging!!!

The encounters in real life in my job CANNOT be simulated in any b-school class or case...

A brief background of this industry -
The temp staffing agencies recruit people on their rolls and they work as our brand staff. The attrition in this industry is around 40 - 50% (yes! if someone is doing this - they are bound to be surrounded by girls all the time)! The requirement is just 12th pass (with decent english knowledge) and these girls are primarily equipped with zero responsibility, zero accountability and zero honesty!

Some of the most interesting encounters are given below for you to judge:

5. (11:30 in the night - I get a call) - "Madam, ek baat toh bataiye! Mere na chacha ke fufa ke bete ka bhai ki death ho gayi hai... Mein kal ja nahi paungi kaam pe ma'am... aap please meri salary mein se kuch cut nahi karna, yeh toh genuine case hai na"

Later found out it was her birthday so she took off - I dont get why not tell the truth instead of killing someone..

4. (I am on a conference call with Delhi team, I get 10 missed calls from my promoter)
Me: "Haan bolo Ms. H, what happened? Any issues - 10 missed calls diye aapne?"
H: "Ma'am maine mera first pack sale kiya... Yayyyyy!!!"
Me: (really trying to be too excited for her) "Awesome!! Keep it going"

End of Day - girl sold only 3 packs coz took a lunch break of 2.5 hours :O :O :O

3. (Arbit number on my cell - I am with my manager discussing my stint progress)
Me: "Yes!!!"
Other Side: "Hi! I am Ms. Kuldeep singh... I am a customer of "my product name". Ji maine XYZ mall se aapka product khareeda tha and it has this fault (explains the fault with hajar morality things brought in. Sunaoed me as if I cheated her)"
Me: (still grappling on how is this call was routed to me!) "Aapko mera number kaise mila??"
Ms. KS: "Woh aapki promoter ne kahan all product complaints aap humari madam ko bolo - woh solve kar degi"
Me: (still wondering what the hell did I do to deserve this call and in all minds to abuse but was at my best behaviour) "Ji I will look into it and get back to you. I apologize for the inconvenience caused" Found out how her grievance can be addressed and messaged her the solution!

But why does my promoter think I am wonder-woman is still beyond me!

2. Frantic calls from a newly joined promoter
XYZ: "Madam, yahan bahut issues hai madam!"
Me: Kya hua? Anyone said anything?
XYZ: "No Ma'am... Lekin mujhe yahan koi dekh hi nahi raha"
Me: As in??
XYZ: "Madam mein yahan khadi hoon... Koi mujhe dekh nahi raha... Mein kya karu madam???"

I tried to pacify her but not getting attention was a sure stopper for her coz she left the next day - changed numbers and of course never showed her face again!

And the winner is:

One of our outlet owners called, "Madam, please remove this promoter from this outlet... we do not want her..." I wondered what could have possibly happened so I asked if she was caught thieving, any jhols etc. Apparently, she created a scene with one of their staff members... To know the reason follow the timeline below:

Day 1: She reports to the shop
Day 2 - Day 4: She gets friendly with a guy and generally spends time with him, hold his hands and walks in the outlet, has lunch together etc.
Day 4 evening: She claims she loves him
Day 4 night: She sleeps with him
Day 5 morning: He comes and tells her he is married
Day 5 afternoon: She creates a scene saying you have to marry me... etc etc.
Day 5 evening: Wife lands up... More drama...
Day 5 night: I got the call mentioned above!!!


Yep!! These exciting encounters are an everyday affair for me... EVERYDAY!!! My day starts off with "Arre yeh ladki bhaag gayi, replacement do..." and ends with "Aaj 6 li hai... Hopefully aur ladkiyon ki jarurat nahi hogi..."

Typically these conversations happen at office (explains why my team of 4 girls stays far away from me) or in cabs when I am travelling between agencies (explains why the cab drivers sometimes charge me less than the meter fare)... But one unfortunate conversation took place in my house and after I hung up I saw my husband standing at the door... The look on his face showed that he heard the conversation... And he just plainly looked up and said, "I am scared Sharmili!!! Mera Ross (FRIENDS character whose wife after 7 years married a girl) ho jayega!!!"

Which is why I ask the guys I know - ANY TAKERS FOR MY POSITION???

Saturday, September 05, 2009

25 things!!!

1. I hate to have ANY meals alone... I would prefer starving over eating alone!

2. I always love to have people around! In every school, college or workplace I have visited, I have always had 3 groups! A senior group, my batch group and a junior group...

3. I want to ensure every comfort and happiness to my parents.... I wish to fulfill all their dreams which they compromised on for us

4. The best way to convince me to do anything is to get my mother to agree to it.

5. There is always inorganic growth in my relationships! It doesnt take to long to move from hate to like to love for me.... The other way around is not as easy or fast....

6. I am VERY "un-girly"... I have to battle with eye shadows, liners, other cosmetics and accessories every time I have to dress up for an occasion

7. As a kid, I have stuck my head in a metal bars of the gate and got stuck and have locked my sister in the bathroom

8. I am very competitive and I love to win bets!!! I jumped from second floor to the first floor in hostel blocks at IIM Bangalore just to prove a point. I ate chillies (chew them for 1 min and then swallow and not drink water for 30 min) to win a small dairy milk

9. My friends govern my moods.... So, if I have mood swings, trust me a few of them have fought with me and others have really gone out of their way to make me smile...

10. I believe in theory of zero expectations.... If you dont expect anything, you will ONLY be delighted at what you get from the other person....

11. I am a bunch a contradictions! I am pessimistic and at the same time I hope for the better... So, its no surprise that while I believe in having no expectations, I may have some from certain people!

12. Contradictory to many, I think of God when I am happy rather than when I am sad. When I am happy, I thank God everyday if something comes my way.

13. True cancerian to the core, place me in an un-conducive environment, I will first fite to make things right... When there is nothing working my way, I will go deep into my shell

14. I fasted for 11 Saturdays because we won a football match - not a significant one like finals or something but a random circuit match

15. I am passionate about sports (i cried out of joy when my section won the inter-section tug of war match) and about NOT reading newspapers (barely read 3 days newspapers before every interview i attended) :) I looooooove adventure sports

16. I HATE pink

17. I looooooove riding bikes. If you see my driving crazily, its me venting out my frustration. Bike Ride is the BEST way to calm yourself down. I dream to own a high-tech psued bike and join a bikers' cult

18. I have already planned the name of my kids, who are they marrying to and what profession will they pursue.

19. In college, I was not allowed to watch movies with friends. My first movie was 4th year of engineering with 5 guys - first day first show of Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone

20. I hate alcohol and its smell. But when I drink on insistence, I take shots instead of sips. And everytime I get drunk, I cry keeping a particular theme in mind. These themes ranged from "no one likes me" to "i am all alone!"

21. I believe in not keeping in buffer time when I schedule a meeting with friends. Result is more often than I am last or second last to join the group. I am not late, just that Murphy is in love with me.

22. I cannot look at a flower and go swooning about its beauty or go to a butterfly/bird sanctuary and admire the beauty of their feathers. The beauty I can admire is in men (rarely) and women (often)

23. I want to have a chimpanzee or a tiger as a pet. I hate dogs, puppies, cats and kittens... Dogs sense the fear in me (more prominently displayed since the last time I was almost bitten by a dog)

24. I am very immodest. You will always see me talking about me. But I cannot gracefully accept a compliment.

25. I have got every form of punishment when in school. I have been locked in class, hit by ruler, slapped on face, knelt outside class, knelt on ground, yelled at in my class, yelled at in other class, thrown out of class etc.

I learnt in life!!!

I sat on a ledge with a paper in my hand
I penned down my learnings from the times of sand

I have learnt wisdom and met the wise
Learnt to accept grey, my world was black or white otherwise

I have learnt to be compassionate with all
How to face the most unreasonable and still stand tall

I have learnt to give love to all, even those in fray
Learnt that love is freedom and NOT to keep people away

I have learnt that humility is very important
How pride meets a downfall - a thing thats very evident

I have learnt to be competitive and be the best
Its not slitting others throats but empowering the rest

I have learnt that good things happen to good people
Thats bads will never go unpunished for the mighty or the feeble

I have learnt the power of praying - its intense
Of wishes getting answered - just needing some patience

But most importantly I have learnt that people come in your life for a reason
The weeds come for months and the flowers come for a season

Thursday, September 03, 2009

...Is there any answer???

In standard two, I learned about a particular property of water…. It takes the color of the thing it’s mixed in and it takes the shape of the container that holds it…. Very mundane, very simple and very commonsensical isn’t it…. And imbibing this very property makes life slightly complex, if not entirely complicated….

This property of water is nothing but one quality that I can safely say, is common to everyone “living”: Adaptation…. Proven beyond doubt by Darwin’s theory of evolution and tested easily when you changed a bit of you to get accepted into a group. We have thus, evolved and adapted in varying degrees to become what we are today…. The level of adaptations could range from linguistics adaptation (where you use the slang that group uses often) to behavioral (where you tend to alter your behavior to give “acceptable” reactions to certain events)…. Every group you were a part of throughout your life would have been distinctly different from each other…. And as a result, you would have modified yourself over and over again….

Some people weed out the unwanted qualities through these adaptations and become better individuals while others go to an extreme and become clones of the most influential person in the vicinity completely losing themselves…. The net result is that there are many aspects – which are not completely you – that now form a part of your personality….

At this point, I wouldn't dare generalize but just talk about how I have adapted in due course of time (may be some people identify with it)…. During the first few years of schooling, I was with this guy who was creatively “gifted”! While I did have some potential, my association with him made my “drawings” good…. Not stopping there, I went on to take both the state level exams and clearing them… During the later years at school, my gang was heavily into sports…. Net result, I was a part of athletics teams and the football team of school…. At this point I wonder, had my group been the studious, teachers’ pets kinds or the culturally inclined kinds – would I have done these things? Is me becoming good in drawing and sports – intentional or associational?

In junior college, my group was this simple living, high thinking sort of a group…. It was with them that I was exposed to giving back to the society bit and I started to teach at an NGO…. College was primarily about sports (again my group had elements very active in it), debates (one of my closest friends was a studess in this field and I actively took part in such events) and technology (very good friends who were bonds in coding, robotics, programming)…. So, after 4 years when I joined the corporate world, I was a tomboy who was not technically challenged and a decent conversationalist (if not debater level)…. Later, my association with my roommate resulted in me going out for parties, movies, shopping extensively and becoming brand conscious (if not crazy like she was)…. My manager was heavily into history and gymming and just like that our conversations were converted into 2 hour gym sessions and reading about Roman mythology…

IIMB came and I was placed with the crème-de-la-crème as everyone puts it…. With such high standards, came a serious jolt to my personality as well. I became intensely competitive (everyone was just so good, that becoming better needed constant reminding), was prey to the hunger to make my mark (wanting to play drums, sports, dancing, FashP, writing cases, debating, making B-plans, having a good CG, being in different clubs – I seemed to want to do it all and do it well)... But the most prominent was becoming immensely practical bordering on callousness about things… My parents and siblings are still bearing the brunt of this change...

As I write this today, I am reminded of this conversation with a very old friend. She asked me for some advice and when I proffered she exclaimed, “What kind of advice is this? Sharmili I know would have never said something like this”.

I was forced to think that while I have adapted every time to find myself in this “grey” zone (sort of acceptable to all), is it the case that I have lost my “blacks” and “whites” (the core which defined me). Is it that in process of weeding out and becoming better, I have just lost what "Sharmili would have said/done"? Is it fear or is it not knowing yourself?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Even Mahabharata got it wrong!!!

"Yuganta" by Irawati Karve is a novel that has caught my fancy recently. For an avid lover of fantasy fiction, me reading this book is a highly unlikely event. But on some strong recommendations I did start reading this book which is nothing but a critique on Mahabharata and its central characters... My tryst with Mahabharata was when on Sundays at10:00 a.m. in distant past, B R Chopra's Mahabharat was aired on Doordarshan. For me, it was a great epic battle and a great way to spend time with family.

But after reading this book, I must say there are so many dimensions to this epic - ones which I would have not even thought of, had it not been for this book... There are so many things I did not know, so many things that I just assumed... Inorder to glorify the Gods, Kshatriyas etc., there was so much editing done to our scriptures that it went farther and farther from being logical and we continued to blindly follow it.

Everyone would agree that this epic is all about MEN! But what is strange is that in our land where so many goddesses had existed by then, our religous scriptures do not give any power their women characters. Their role was sort of restricted to be shadowed by their husbands. The more glorious the husband, the stronger the woman. They had no say in any matter, their feelings never got voiced and their opinions NEVER got considered... Examples of this complete disregard are strewn all over the book.

Which woman in right senses will agree to be married to 5 men at the same time (there is this "boon" that Draupadi was given where she could live with one Pandava for one year and when she went to the next one she would still be a virgin - I have many objections on this "boon" but thats another topic in itself). Which woman will agree to give Agni-Pariksha and yet, Seeta gave one and then was asked to give another one for Ayodhya subjects. Which woman will blindfold her eyes when she gets tricked into marrying a blind person and yet, Gandhari did so. Kunti's life was a compromise in itself. And the list goes on...

But the most surprising part is when in these scriptures, you find the sutradhar (narrator) hinting at how these women were predominantly responsible for the great wars. How Seeta was the cause of Ramayana and Draupadi that of Mahabharata... Isn't it ironical, that these seemingly "powerless women" caused the 2 biggest wars in the history. While discussing with one of my friends, I couldnt help but wonder what if these gals had powers - like that of Kali, Lakshmi! Would the scriptures have turned out with a similar ending?

If you analyse these blames assuming that our "Gods" aren't impervious and impregnable, logic will prevail and you will see that these charges can be dropped.

Ram came to Lanka for war to rescue Seeta but the reason of the war was Ravana's desire for her. Mahabharata was supposedly staged to avenge Draupadi's humiliation in the court (under the aegis of "Dharma") thereby making her the cause. Gambling was organized to win back everything that Pandavas had earned while they were the kings of Indraprastha (rivalry and jealousy between Kauravas and Pandavas is well known to justify this cause). But according to the way it is narrated, gambling was supposed to be a ploy of Duryodhana to get back at Draupadi for laughing at him in Mayasabha. He wanted to insult her in public like she did to him.

If this indeed were the case, Duryodhan had to forsee (an improbable thing) the following:

1. Pandavas will lose money (which he could have assumed given Shakuni's prowess)
2. They would go ahead and bet land, palace and army
3. Then they will still go ahead and bet themselves
4. Finally, they wont still learn from this and would bet Draupadi

This looks like a very circuituous route to get back at her. And if this isnt plausible, then clearly she cant be the cause of the war.

All this discussion now seems rather out of place, doesn't it? The thing is, I got sensitised to these observations only after reading this book. Thanks to critical works like these, I actually questioned some of our religious writings.

But it is alarming, that the 2 oldest Hindu scriptures, Bhagwad Gita (which is the second largest widely read book following the Bible) and Ramayana give this treatment to women. A treatment which is logically erroneous!!!

Knowledge is power but such critical works are unlikely to reach the scale that these scriptures have attained. Isn't it worrisome that people will grow up always assuming that women caused these wars???

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My First L-Square

There are some moments in your life which you remember like they happened yesterday.... Even if - in bigger scheme of things they may not be the most significant or momentous moments of your life... But there is just something that makes you wanna repeat them time and again in your mind and just like that they become memorable... With new faccha batch having their first L-square just yesterday, I spent about hours thinking about how mine was...

Dressing up for L-square - a concept whose gravity I did not understand till I attended my first one... When I had come in just "lame" casuals with no cosmetics used, I saw the shimmer and the glimmer in every PGP1 girl's dress on the floor... People would here think, I'll feel out-of-place but those who know me thats the case most of the time so it wasnt a rude shock!!! The actual shock came when I saw the PGP2s (my friends' who I was hoping to dance with) drunk with no ability to grasp anything sane... All they did was blabber, hug everyone in "huggable" distance and fall (in my defense - it was the first time I saw them like this... And those were the days when I actually yelled at my friends for "losing control" - me being a tee-totaler)...

First L^2, people tend to flock to the ones from their wing, to the ones from their section or to the ones who happened to be in the same group as their outbound group... Incidentally, I had the combination of all 3 in one who I had hit it off very well with... She was "THE HOTTEST" girl of our batch and we liked each other (I sure do hope so) But coming with her had its downsides... A drummer just kept displacing me and dancing with her.... (First L^2 is also the time for PGP2 guys to test the waters ;)...) I tried shooing him off thrice (he is a good friend now but back then I dint know him) but he was persistent...

I danced with her and some other people for sometime, but could not help disillusionment creeping into my moods.... I went off to the A-first terrace that overlooks L^2.... If someone hasnt tried this, should definitely do it once... It looks awesome!!! The lights, the motley of colors and the people in their groups.... Its a pleasant sight....

Although heavenly, there is only so much time that you can see the same people from the top... It got lonely soon and I kept feeling my first L^2 wont be too awesome... Just when I thought I should call it a night, it took a turn... An accquaintance who was a fellow VP contestant came up to me and we had a conversation... I was wondering why would anyone come here and somewhere hoping he was having as lousy a time as I was having... But it was chivalry that got him there - did not want to see a girl alone... (yes! PGP1 guys are very chivalrous in the first few weeks :D...) The conversation was all over the place... About IIMB, about perceptions, about people... About dreams, hopes and realities... And just like that I made a new friend...

L^2 mean fun, dance, daaru and music to most people... And I would say that L^2 was fun for me as well but for very different reasons... I got the pleasure to dance with the most sought after girl in the batch (later who was my constant dance partner for a specific song)!!! I got to see how much my friends care about me (they bothered to send me messages the following morning saying they were sorry to ruin my first L^2 by not dancing with me)!!! And finally, I understood how just random talking could make a just about OK L^2 into one which is worth thinking about!!!

Btw, the next first L^2 (my juniors') I played the role that my seniors played but I did dance with my juniors (even if they were unknown) And just like that, her (junior I danced with) first L^2 became fun coz of that moment when a tipsy PGP2 offered to teach and managed to teach 2 dance steps to her :D:D

Yesterday it was my home.... Today I'm just a guest...

As I sit in my guest house today, I keep thinking to myself - what makes you call a place a home? Its the people, its the environment, its the memories.... Naturally, I found myself asking the question, "So, if I remove the people and if the memories get tarnished, will the place cease to be your home?" While the answer seemed very evident, I decided to put this hypothesis to test...

In my life till date, different places have become "homes" at different points in time.... First is obviously the house I was born and brought up in... Then comes my school - 12 years of my life and 6 - 8 hours everyday... that's a significant chunk of your life... Never really thought of VJTI as my home... While there were most significant memories and very significant people associated with those 4 years - I still do not get the "homely" feeling... Then was the house I shared with a dear friend during the time at Infosys.... IIMB - for all that it gave me and finally, the place I live in after 18th April 2009!!!

Now, my first home is actually a place where my parents live... While I would want them to stay in the house I have lived for good 24 years, if they move - "my home" moves... In case of school - the teachers who taught me, who are responsible for me turning out the way I am today - are no longer present in school... While I still love my school (I go to the annual day celebrations if I am in town) I just cant associate with it anymore... With VJTI out of my list, Infosys rented apartment was a home coz of what Shruti and I did while we were there... And I come to same conclusion as in 2 cases before - my experience there was defined by a person not so much by memories...

Coming to IIMB as a home - there exists an irregularity!!! While memories have faded into oblivion (some willingly, some forced), some bonds still exist.... I love people looking forward to me coming down on campus and I love the hospitality I get... When I go there, I still love the ambience the place offers, the night outs the place brandishes, the nerves of steel that get developed looking at the placecom board (the one where I saw my seniors getting shortlists - my friends and me getting shortlists and my facchas getting the companies they ALWAYS wanted), the profs who still are keen to have a dialogue, L^2s and stories with each one of them, the intensity involved in the throwball - TOW - baski matches...

And yet, this home is ephemeral - a life of 3 years only... It is bonded with the people who were there one year before me and one year after... But more importantly its the memories which play an equally important role... My senior came to campus this year and found himself reminiscing the time he had there but he dint want to leave my side coz to associate with this place as home he needed both me (a familiar face) and his memories... Another friend - a batchmate - said, "its feels weird to make an appearance on campus often... What if people think - kya jab dekho campus aa jaati hai..."

How is this home when I think twice before coming to it?? How do I have people, the memories and yet "home" isn't at IIMB once I pass out.... Why cant I live at IIMB for days together without giving it a second thought.... The place I owned till April 2009 is a place I am a visitor in less than 2 months....

Its an "AND" function PEOPLE AND MEMORIES to make a place call home - coz with memories your mind is present and with people your heart is....

Monday, April 06, 2009

Days that were - IIMB rocked!!!

I locked the room... 3 posters on the wall and the curtains I picked from MARS (in the first week at IIMB) is all that remained in K-213... Everything that can be associated with me... K-213, the room I called my home for last one year... The room where I laughed, cried, studied and partied... K-213 where innumerable pizzas were ordered and cheese maggis found their way at un-godly hours... And just like that, IIMB got over for me...

As I looked back, my last glance at the gate, before a decrepit auto rickshaw sped off to Bangalore train station, I couldnt help but think of my first day here - 22nd June 2007 - when Shruti and GS came and picked me up... I went to the hostel office and apprehensively picked the C-312 room chit (my abode in the first year)... I went to my room on the third floor, only to find myself ragged in the very first hour coz stupidly enough I went and introduced myself to my seniors... Little after ragging, I met with my wing mates - as apprehensive as me but not as stupid coz they did not make the mistake to go and talk to seniors :D

25th June 2007 when the college started and I saw the first glimpse of Gundu Rao (he was directing us to different rooms in order to avoid delays) - little to know how significant he is going to be in IIMB life... If I could depict how I felt as the auto moved through Bangalore traffic, it would be similar to screening of a movie.... Visualize motley images just running past your conscience.... The first week sessions, first L^2  and the millions after that, the first class when I slept and was almost threatened to be thrown out to most other classes where I slept on the first bench, the first club elections and the events organized or participated in, summer experiences, hectic schedules comprising quizzes, midterms, end terms, last minute project meetings and presentations and the hajar sports competitions (inter-IIM and intra-IIMB) - innumerable memories just came rushing back.... But you know what is the best part of IIMB - it is the fact that not just the firsts but the whole gamut of things remain memorable... Every friendship made, every fight fought, every competition played and every festival/event organized - everything leaves such an imprint on you that as I left, I could not help but wonder, if I would EVER be able to adjust to the "normal" life that would follow as I start working... 

It is therefore, not a big surprise that most of us after leaving IIMB, find ourselves bored easily!!! (just read status messages on FB and you would know) After these 2 years, life outside IIMB just doesnt seem "interesting" enough.... While it is true, I may have slept through most of my weekends or holidays at IIMB, just watched some soaps after downloading from DC++ or just strolled on campus with friends - but these so-called "mundane" activities still feel more FUN as compared to what we are doing at our respective homes... 

And it is this "bond" that will make me keep coming back to IIMB... Every chance I get!!! My happy place would always be those strolls after leaving K-213 on a fantastic "Bangalore" weather day... Seeing people play on the football field, passing friends at Athicas/mess and then just walking around this magnificent stone structure surrounded by greens... The mere thought of this sight just calms me down... 2 years - that's all it took... The time spent at IIMB would live forever in my heart!!!