Saturday, December 16, 2006

Visa Power - Go Get IT!!!! Part 2

I come home... Tired... not due to work but due to the extreme thinking involved to remove mehndi in one day.... So, I sat with Surf Excel, Rin, Cinthol, Dettol Liquid Soap, Dove and a bucket of water... I have never in my life scrubbed my hands so much... I mean it was like washing my hands for the centuries to come.... I kept checking to see if it was light but time and scrubbing made no difference to the color... So, i decided that if I do not look for 15 min may be a miracle wud happen and mehndi wud go off... But after 35 - 45 min of scrubbing, nothing had happened.... I decided to ditch the effort and went off to the party... tho everytime my hands came in front of my face (which I now realise happens a lot... I mean its just impossible to ignore your hands :$..) I thot abt my mehndi, my interview, my life........

12th Dec - 09:30 hrs - Mehndi still no signs of being lighter.... Tho the scrubbing had made the fingers other than the index finger lighter :(.... I come to office and I am talking to my OSC... I inform him about my absence tomorrow due to the visa interview in Mumbai... So, he is like " arre wah!! ur visa interview... cool hai.." So, without even taking a second breath he shoots questions at me...
"What wud be ur salary while in US?"
"Who is your employer in US"
"what will you do if your client fires u"
"who will you report to?"
"how many ppl will work under you?"
"what are your responsibilities while u r here?"
"What is the name of I797?" etc etc etc... I am speechless... I dunno what to say... I ask him, "Y are no questions about ab initio?" He is like " you dont know about these... you havent read the FAQ document.. You havent seen the papers... you dont know about ur client..." I am shit scared now.... I take some pointers from him too (I dunno how many ppl I had asked questions) and then get on with my work... CAlled Ashok... Again no answer... Undeterred I went to the Visa dept... I asked them about the mehndi... they said no issue.. Strike 1... I asked about the session.. they said after 2:30.. Strike 2... I asked to check my papers... they put them in order... Strike 3... Finally they tell me to just make sure the checklist they have provided is taken care of...

18:00 hrs - My session was cancelled... Ashok was never available... I checked for the checklist... I fired printouts... Printer wasnt working... went to the next bldg... got the prinouts.... So, finally I left work with docs (which I believed were complete) and with many people wishing me luck....

23:00 hrs - I am at my house and I realise that I do not have the interview letter mentioned in one checklist after the checklist I referred... Oh Sh$%!@... Called one person who guided me and thus got the soft copy of the letter... But no printout... Called 5 frends who had printers but all of them had to malfunction at the same time... Y god Y??? I tried not to panic but it refused to leave me... Finally I decided to burn a CD with that doc and take a print tomorrow morning.. C'mon!!! its Mumbai... Cybers open by 9:30... So no big deal... So after settling that, checking 4 times if any other checklist is present, I moved to the final step... Go through the hajar docs... Then get some information about the client, company etc... See all the forms, their names and their purposes... See information like pay, reporting authority etc... Thanks to my OSC, I was a student again ratoing revenues, roles, caps, functions, names etc.... Slept at 02:00 hrs...

13th Dec 2006 - 09:20 hrs - Left home... Going to Bombay Central takes 45 min... so even if I had to reach by 11, I left early (people knowing me would find this to be a surprise....) News!!! Cybers close to my area, on the way to station from my house, all closed.... Sh@%$!! One big detour by my dad (thanks to him who seems to know every nukkad and the shop on it like the back of his hand) he took me to one which was open... I was happy but it was short lived... The cyber had Adobe 3 and my doc was of Adobe 7.. It cudnt open.. Sh@!#!! Went to another... he had Adobe 6... What has happened to Adobe 7... Why dont people keep upgrading their systems... The doc opened with errors but a printable one.. So, took the print out and finally reached station to get 9:57 semi fast and got a fourth seat 2 :)

11:00 hrs - went to the VFS bldg, checked in my bag and awaited my turn.... Finally entered the consulate bldg and went for a security check... Met a gal called Sheetal on my way and we got quite friendly... Man there are a lot of people who want a US Visa everyday (and I do not mean just IT Industry) :) There was this aunty (abt 60 yrs) in front of me for the check.. When the metal detector went over her parts of body the kept beeing.. She had something or the other always beeping... It was hilarious... Wud ve lafed hard otherwise but was still tensed abt my finger prints... So, finally when I got to the finger print counter, i apprehensively placed my finger on the scanner... Breathed a sigh of relief when my finger print got accepted... :)))))) My number came just before the lunch hour set in and I was asked 4 very simple questions - Do u work for infosys? Is this your first job? What tool you wud be working on? Explain that tool function to me... Thus, I entered the consulate at 12:05 and left at 12:17....

So, all this jhanjat for 12 min.... :O I wondered if all the panic, anxiety and stress was needed? But lessons learnt in this process:
1. 35 - 45 minutes of washing hands with the complex mixture mentioned above doesnt harm your hands.
2. Adobe is not backward compatible
3. you can reach Bombay central in less than 45 min, haji ali juice centre is very close from station and US Consulate is very famous since my taxi driver got it easily
4. DO NOT LISTEN to everything ur OSC says and last but not the least
5. Getting a US Visa aint that difficult.... :))))))))

Friday, December 15, 2006

Visa Power - Go Get IT!!!! Part 1

For all the ignorant and hapless souls who are not in IT industry let me make one thing clear. In Indian industry, which works on the 'Global delivery model', getting a Visa is not a big deal and it does not necessitate an applause or a congratulatory note. But, looking at how harried I was, I very well deserve this note.... To know more, read on -

Every confirmed employee applies for a Visa and so when I applied for it, I was not too kicked about it... I mean why should I be. Its not distinctive but another trait of the herd that I am in. So, with zero enthusiasm I filed in my papers - for the forms sake. But little did I know, that this would be a rough ride :)

So, the process is I submit my docs to company, they courier my petition to consulate and then I get a stamping date and eventually a visa (hopefully I am smart enuf to clear the interview). So, this is how my hurdle race began coz hurdles seem coming everywhere possible. A rush for filing petitions started which resulted in premature closing of the cap.... So, the cap closed on 26th May and my papers got filed on 27th May... "Chalo!!! Mera America ka sapna adhoora rahega yeh saal"; I thot but I wasnt particularly dejected or anything (thanks to my extremely low enthu levels)... Forgotten all about my visa, I start my daily work and one fine day I get my work permit number.... If I had an ordinary name, i wud ve to check this twice or thrice to know if its me... But clearly, my unique name made this exercise redundant... So, hajar forms to fill now... DS-156, 157, some silly questionnaire etc... As usual my enthu levels ensured that I just about meet the deadlines for every phase.... Meanwhile, HR department noticed my inactivity and I started to get mails to move my a*@!&$... Shuchi, one of my colleagues who had her visa stamped by then, had to put through a lot with me buzzing questions in her ear all the time (amidst SEV 1 IMRs and COGNOS Servers going weird)

Finally, I give my papers to the Visa department waiting for them to block me a date... Here's a catch, the date has to be taken within 7 days else the online forms you fill expire.... And guess what... Visa Dept successfully gets my account expired.... :( So, the hajar line form to be filled again :(( Did that and finally got a date 13th Dec 2006 - 11:30 am slot... Phew... One job done...This was done in the second or third week of November so clearly, by the time December came, the low enthu levels plunged lower.... Now, the visa department gives all the documents arranged in the order... U just have to collect those, attend a briefing session given by them and then go to the interview and get visa... Hajar ppl did it before me, so I knew nothing could go wrong with me... But, life has an uncanny knack of teaching me lessons I dont want to learn...

11th Dec - 16:00 hrs - I got a huge set of docs... in the order specified... My briefing session got postponed... Still as cool as a cucumber, I came to my desk, put everything in the drawer and started my daily work and very easily forgot about the Visa thingy (In my defence, that visa dept guy said, "arre dont worry... just check the checklist and get the originals... everything ele is taken care of...") So, I had nothing to worry... also, y get scared about the interview... that firang wont know as much about the work as I know... isnt it?? Then, I was talking to Shuchi on what possible things should be taken care of before the interview and she was giving me the procedure to be carried out there... There was a mention of finger printing analysis and how fussy these Americans are abt it.... And we both looked at my finger stunned... I had mehndi on my hand... and guess what!The color of mehndi was darkest for the index finger which is to be used... A lil panic set in... call Ashok (Visa guy..) she suggested... I cud not get through to him... I called Sangeeta... Another friend who had her visa interview done in the past... She said there should be no marks on the finger... Panic!! Anxiety!! Sweat!!! In the middle of december that too... I sopke to every girl on my floor on possible ways of removing mehndi in one day.... people lafed... gave suggestions... ridiculed... and tried their best to help me... Deepti called her father who assured me nothing would happen... But my silly dimaag kept saying - "of course he never put mehndi na... how would he know??" It was 7 in the evening and the situation was - I had the docs but no session, I had a cab but mehndi on my hand and I was laid back before and now I was laid under lot of stress.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

A sneak peek in the 21st century

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

Its the century where everyone is in a rat race
A race behind happiness, is the only case
But all you achieve, all you get, you still are dissatisfied
Nothin serves to keep a smile on your face.....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

It is the time when everyone is very smart
Everyone has knowledge filled in many carts
But when it comes to application in real life.
Most of them end up falling short....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

It is the time when people have many friends
But the time of loneliness never ends
We have many gadgets to keep in touch
But the wishes to our beloved we rarely send...

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

It is the time when people act very mature
We are able to handle relationships of long distance nature
But the high divorce rate paints a different picture
Like a house of straws, relationships rupture....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

Its the time when we have world at our finger tips
We get things as soon as the word is out of our lips
But with all this technology,came many scams
One person's scandal acts as the others quips....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

It is the time when people fall in love easily
The flexibility and liberal attitude is present in every family
But at the same time people have become very individualistic
That the concept of 'joint-family' now seems silly....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

It is the time when people are taught that they have same status
With same opportunities across all stratus
But yet some people have reservations in place
Denying many their basic rights based on caste, creed and status....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

I live in this era and this is my fate
I wanna think of positives, in this poem, to state
But I am out of ideas and none have come so far
Can you people help your mate.....

Lo behold people! its the 21st century,
Its the mark of good times and end of misery....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

LDRs - A Way of Life!!!

You talk about the 21st century and you think of globalization…. You think about how the world has come closer due to 3 letters www (world wide web)…. How people in another continent are just a phone call/email away…. How shopping, dating everything is a click away…. No, no!! I am not here to rant about the advantages of internet or the globalization era that we are in…. I am here to talk about a very different aspect of globalization… the way it has influenced lives…. The way it has made people drift apart…. And I am not talking about how people have become machine oriented and lost out on human interaction in their lives…. I am talking about the excessive dynamism that has become a part and parcel of this globalized world…. Confused eh??? Well, what I am talking about is in terms of relationships…. Today around 90% of the relationships are LDRs – Long Distance Relationships! Your boyfriend is in US studying and you are here, your fiancée is working in UK with you being in India with his parents or your husband is on an assignment in Japan and you are in Singapore for a marketing job? How many such incidences do you know? How many such people have you met in your life? I doubt if my parents have come across the same number of people as I have in my short life of 24 years.

I don’t know what I should attribute this to? Should I say it’s because women are being more career oriented? Or is it because of the open mindedness of men to accept women working; not only working but also go places when the job demands? Should I say that people in relationships have become more mature and more accepting now? Or should I say that they have adapted themselves in this race for the survival of the fittest? Or is it not one cause but a mixture of all these? Whatever is the case, LDR has become a way of life and people have accepted it. I may or may not get my prince charming but I know for a fact that I will get married and I know it with even more certainty that there will be a time in my life when I will be staying away from my love/husband/fiancée… That’s the current situation…. But I have also noticed that in spite of this resigned/fatalistic/necessary acceptance, marriages are made with the same old rules…. The parameters are the same. “Ladka shehar mein rehata hai! Ghar hai! Accha kamata hai Etc” But are these sufficient? Shouldn't these be revamped to match with the current trends? What is pertinent now is to know how long will he stay there? If he plans to move, what happens to his better half? When in future kids would be involved, how would he plan about their future, career? What happens about the old parents who would need someone to look after them in old age? I don’t see these parameters being considered a lot these days or am I just turning a blind eye and being my ignorant self?

Let say, finally you get a suitable consort (whatever parameters you chose is completely your prerogative isn’t it) and then you are married or atleast committed. And then comes the fatal blow! You have to go somewhere; she has to go somewhere etc. Now what keeps your relationship ticking? Skype, calling cards, everything under the sun is used to keep in touch but can this replace the human touch that you have now gotten used to? But still I see people going strong. I know of my friends who are still going strong for about 6 years now, after committing to each other and since then living apart…. It must be taking strong will power and all the determination in the world to keep going isn’t it? And after this hiatus when you meet the joy knows no bounds…. And its happiness everywhere…. It’s like a perfect ending to the trial and tribulations that you were exposed to…. In fact now when I ponder it’s probably this happy thought gets people through….

When I hear this, I wonder how would have our parents generation reacted to this kind of situation? They strongly believe in spending time together…. In being with each other…. My mother has been with my dad wherever he was transferred… she agreed to stay back for our studies, apart from dad, when our studies were important…. Will we do this? And those were the days when this dynamism was much less? Can we cope up with the pressures and still do justice to our relationship?

It’s a scary thought but I am sure that life would find means of progressing…. Or rather the optimist in me is forcing me to believe that we will stick with our counterparts through thick and thin despite the impediments that come our way….

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Enough is Enough!!!!!!!

Imagine that u are in a new city and u suddenly get stung by a bee or bit by a dog or just happen to get viral fever. Now no one you know in that new city is a doctor, so u hunt for a doctor nearby. Now, when you go to a particular address, you see 2 sign boards. One board saying Dr. XYZ, MBBS, MD, PHd etc. and the other saying Dr. PQR, MBBS. Without even a second thot, you wud go to the first one, isn’t it? So, we have established that the doctors are more trustworthy and more able when they have more degrees.

Now take this scenario. There are around 30000 students passing from 12th in Maharashtra every year. With some taking BCom, some BE and some want to do a noble thing and they take up medicine. This seems no big deal just outta junior college. But later in life what must these students thinking when they see that their peers have started getting a 5 digit salary even before they are out of college. “Patience!” the medicos convince themselves and continue with their stressful life.

We often hear IT people facing increasing amounts of stress these days. Atleast they are getting well paid for this.... But no one seems to have mentioned abt the stress that the medics go thru... The emergency calls, the 24 hour duty turns, the late night outs for studying followed by an exam and a grueling 8 hour emergency turn. Isnt this what is called stress? Well, everyone safely assumes that they are doctors and hence they have to go thru this to become able doctors.

Thus with zilch social life and with a huge trauma associated with patients dying, abortions, neurotic cases, dissections, taking the history of psychopaths and the monotony of internship these few brave souls complete their graduation. With the knowledge that their engineering counterparts have earned enough, got settled in life and even started a family, these doctors now start the next grueling phase of their life, MD studies.

They are sitting for a complete year at home, amidst the books doing nothing but going thru the 4 years syllabus in detail again to clear this exam. Like any competitive exam, this one is tough and comes with the same scales of success, around 3000 in 10 lakh students. And if you want an admission in the top 3 – 4 colleges, then the number is first 300 in 10 lakh students. Inspite of these odds and the associated huge fees, these doctors toil hard day and night to just get a degree which convinces people that they are good too.

Then comes a big political decision - 50% reservations to make sure that everyone gets equal opportunity. I am not even going to venture about the validity of this decision but this forces the medicos over the edge… the only thots now are, “five months now, lets study hard… The odds are now 200 in 10 lakh… So without wasting any more time, its back to studies again… better and harder….” Then comes another decision, without MOship government colleges students cannot appear for CET… the cream of the batch who took admissions in govt colleges was getting penalized for their brilliance…. This clause was only for these students and not other private college students….. So, in effect for these students - the one exam for which a year drop was taken, the one exam for which last few months meant nothing but being between books - was now out of bounds for them... But masses have a different opinion... They say that they have to do it… they signed a bond for it…. Isn’t medical profession a noble one? These government college students get subsidized fees… This is what they should be doing in return of those liberties they were given…. I agree that all these points are not only valid but also right….

But cudnt this be timed better…. Cudnt this be done at a time when their studies were easy going…. When the pressure dint demand 14 – 15 hour of everyday study? Cudnt this be done during the early 4 months of the one year drop instead of the last 4 months? For the students of course, life which had just suffered a deadly blow, now suffered a fatal one…. “Doing MOship in the last 4 crucial months is stifling my chances of getting a good seat…. Doing MOship in these months is going to make me lose a seat and hence not become a doctor ever… Doing MOship is going to convince my parents to stop my studies and get me married off…. I want to do an MOship but cant this wait till its after this one exam that I am studying for…” etc are the only thots around…. the only ray of hope, a petition gets filed and the only one way out of this mess is to pay one lakh…. And these students agree to do it…. Outrageous, isn’t it….

But can you imagine how much these people were pushed over the edge that they agreed to take this step…. This step effectively makes their one question in the exam worth 300 bucks…. They already were pressurized due to the competition, then reservations added to it and finally this 1 lakh payment added icing to the cake…. Of course…. Adding to this is the belittling of people and general public looking down upon them for not serving mankind…. But just question ourselves, aren’t we being unfair? How much can we expect from some people who actually gave up the comforts in their lives to become a part of this noble profession.

I just hope we don’t push them so much over the edge that they start to regret the decision they have made and make sure no one else they know makes the same mistake again that they did………

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Silence speaking louder than words!!!

This is me and I am a suicide bomber
God please make my will grow a little stronger
Here I am in the train that'll blast
In a few seconds, nothing will remain, not even its cast....

There are so many ladies in this compartment
Listening to their talks is a form of an entertainment
Some talk about soap operas from the previous day
Some of the dreams that, in the future, lay....

It's so difficult that this liveliness will turn to ash
But I have to fight against the people who think my country is trash
I have been taught that this is the only way to seek justice for us
This is the only way of salvation for us...

But are these the ones really to blame
Or are those who behind them, the politicians lame.....

I dont want to hurt them
I dont want to cause pain
In seconds away now, many will lose
Their mothers, sisters and beloved too

But if I dont do anything soon
My country will grow up as the meal of these goons.....

Please God when you measure vices & virtues in the heavens above
Please add one more virtue for all who come now
For in a very little time, they made me feel alive
For the first time, I felt like a human and not a bee from the hive....

And therefore as hard as I may try
My heart doesnt stop to cry......

Monday, August 28, 2006

Instant Khichidi

When anyone asks me to describe this generation in one word, the only word that comes to my mind is INSTANT! Or may be FAST! I really don’t know what to attribute this to? Is it a personal thing or is it the marketing and management techniques that this generation is exposed to or is it the competition and peer pressure that they experience!

No, no!!! Neither am I behaving as an older generation representative nor am I meting out this judgment to everyone except me. I am just saying this out of experience. Out of my observation. This ‘Instantness’ is observed in every walk of our life. Let me take some amount of your time to explain. ‘Coz this is something that I cant to instantly :)

The other day I was talking to my father and he was saying about how he has 40 years of work-ex and I told him, I am tired after 2 years itself. He said, to reach the salary I am getting now, he had to slog and toil for 15 years or so. And I find myself cribbing about the 5 figure salary that is offered as a compensation for my non-existent work.

At the same time, I cannot think of being with one firm for more than 3 years as opposed to his faithful service in same firm. I want an instant rise in my position. I want an instant raise in my salary. In our IT sector, the best way to reach the highest echelons of a company and to get an awesome salary is work in one company for 3 years, join the next one as a lateral. Then work here for say another 4 years and join the next company as a PM and so on. INSTANT you see! As a result of this in 10 years, I have everything (monetarily at least) and I may work for say another 5 years and then get tired, resign and lead a peaceful life (some give back to the society to make up for the lost time they spent in the industry). And really, what do you look forward to? I got the money essential for a comfortable life, I got a house, I got a family and I got respect. Everything before I turn 40. Why would I work then?

Something else that asserts this feeling is ‘INSTANT FOODS’. I have never seen such a huge rise in the INSTANT foods in this world. You are staying alone; you have guests coming over and have no time to cook or you are bored to cook. What do you do? INSTANT foods!!! ”Bas do minute” foods are pervasive in this generation. Of course you order from outside. It’s more INSTANT! There were those days when making paneer matar would take half an hour of shopping and 45 minutes of cooking to make it delicious. Now it takes 2 minutes to immerse your INSTANT paneer matar packet in hot water. I may sound a bit traditional when I say this, but these foods have not been able to replace the delight you get when the audience likes your hand cooked food and I guess they never will. Also, home delivery has taken its toll. I actually remember this instance when I ordered from a shop for around 3 months and had never paid a visit to the shop even once!

This ‘Instantness’ has crept in sports field as well. The Instantness of knowing results is changing the face of world sports. The days when 5 day test series were seriously watched and religiously followed are by gone. Now the attention spans are so small that even ODI is falling prey to this attitude, giving way to 20-20 cricket. I am no connoisseur of cricket but I still think that it’ll be difficult to cherish the quality and timing of every shot in 20-20 cricket. Football premier leagues are also falling prey to this ‘Instantness’ of results.

In relationships too, the parameters have changed drastically due to this attitude. A ‘Successful’ marriage is one which lasts for 5-7 years and which ends on a note which doesn’t kill either if the spouses. So, having arranged marriages or long marriages are all ‘OLD FASHIONED’. The romances, falling for someone is ‘INSTANT’. It starts as early as 7th standard. Again, I might sound on the conservative side but its way too young to have relationships by then. If I don’t understand myself clearly by then what would I understand a relationship of two people?

I don’t know if it’s the environment or we becoming so result driven that everything else is taking a back seat is the reason for this attitude? But everywhere we see aggressive marketing techniques used to get instant results. Codes are debugged; patches are fixed to get instant results.

I am sure that there are many other instances but the ‘Instantness’ to finish my work refuses to exercise my grey cells. I can’t think of anything else, but if you do, do let me know!!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yaad ayenge woh pal....

What is ‘special’? How would you make a particular event special? If given a choice between selecting one from all the special moments of your life, which one would you choose? How would you rate one event as more special than the other? For all these questions, as of now at least, the answer for me is My Birthday. It is the day that celebrates my very existence! Now why should you believe that my birthday is truly ‘THE ONE’…? Well in this respect I can safely say that, “ Apun ko 24 years ka experience hai :)….”

In the formative years of my life, it was special because it was a day when I would wear ‘colored clothes’ (those days that’s what we called Non-Uniform clothes) to school, distribute sweets in the class (which made me feel that I ruled the class then) and one day when no one would or rather was allowed to yell at me :) then in college it became special because of the hajar parties I had, the many surprises and even more gifts…. But now it is special to me, because this is what people around me make me feel on this day. Everyone would go that extra mile to make me smile a little longer through the year!!!! I always acknowledged this sweet thing that everyone did for me every year but then some part of me always wanted to keep these moments not only in the by-lanes of my memory but also as instruments giving me vicarious pleasure when the chips were down. That’s when I started to pen down my thoughts; something like ‘Memoirs of Sharmili’ if you may say so.

Frankly I don’t remember exactly when I started to write down everything that happened on 22nd July…. But what I do remember is that as time went by I added new dimensions to this habit…. Slowly I started to try and stay up the entire day…. An hour spent sleeping was an hour wasted of my special day… then I started to note down every call, every message and every wish that I got (as childish as it my sound)… but I had a justification for all those who told me that this was childish…. That it is always nice to know that so many people took time out of their hectic lives and thought of me on this day and they took pains to just to pass on their good wishes to me… this is definitely something that adds to the specialty of the day, doesn’t it?

So as birthdays passed my, these parameters remained the same but what changed were the goals…. Meaning initially I stayed up for 19 hours, then 21 hours and finally reaching that golden number of 24 hours…. Similarly for the wish list…. First it was just a list of names who wished me, then became a list which had to cross a magical figure of 100 and finally it became a list which assured that the names of all those in my close circle wished me…. But the most satisfying part were the write-ups…. Every tiny detail was entered in them…. Friends gave a surprise visit or a surprise party, a friend who overcame all the long distance difficulties just to ensure that their gifts and wishes reached me on this day, a family who did everything in their capacity to brighten my day, flowers which were sent at my doorstep early morning so that their freshness freshens my day….. Though time dimmed the luster of the gifts, dried the flowers in the bouquet and reduced the impact of the surprises, they have become immortal through those word documents that I kept as birthday-records…. So true and so real are they that if in 2006 I read what happened in any of the years before; it would be like reliving that day again!!!!

So in these 24 years I have had awesome birthdays but I have also had many troughs when I felt unhappy, many reasons to crib, many instances when I felt extremely unlucky…. I know this is in accordance of principle, happiness and sadness alternate each other, but it is very difficult to be practical then…. But in these harrowing times; it is the affection of so many people, the love and the thoughtfulness of all who care; that the support of Lady Luck, that I felt then, carried me through these lows till the next year, when the supplies got replenished twice as much ON THE SAME DAY – 22nd July!!!!!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

HISTORY - Still a Mystery

Scene 1: Outside the Balak Vihar Vidyalaya High school (My SSC centre)…In March 1998, under the blaring sun; here I was, with 8 pages clutched in my hand and pacing back and forth in front of the school gates…. On those 8 pages were dates, printed front and back…… Before anyone gets me wrong because of the above statement…. Explicit mention just to clarify things…. I hadn’t started dating so early in life and I don’t think with the guys in my school; the number of dates would have been so high….. It was the History exam for SSC board and those papers included all the dates in our textbook that I had scribbled away to glory… Nah!!! Trust me…. This was not my favorite pastime back then….. It was, actually for a very silly 2 mark question no 1 – C in this paper, I distinctly remember, that I had put in so much effort….. In my defense (so that I don’t sound geeky and loserly), those days we were told that 2 marks were very important in this exam…. They could make or break your career….. So this marathon effort…. Now back to my scene…. I was busy rattling off dates in the air… Quit India movement – 1942…. Gandhiji went on a fast – 19XX (it’s humanly impossible to remember that after so many years…) Gandhiji protested at Lahore – 19XX, Gandhiji presided over the Indian National Congress meeting – 19XX….. A parallel thought occurred to me….. Man!!!! Gandhiji was a busy!!!! He did so many things in life… I appreciate all he did but couldn't he just leave the 10th textbooks alone…. I mean did he have to write about everything he did and when he did in those books….. 16 years ki jaan and 1600 dates yaad karne ko …. Its blatant extortion of children’s brains…. Thought interrupted….. Mithila comes, same confused look borne by her as by all the students present there…. “Shamu, civil disobedience movement chya veli, kiti national congress chya meeting jhalya hotya???? Aani kuthe????...” and then both of us tried to rattle off the answer…. We used to call this discussing, in the days of the yore :)….

Scene 2: Inside the classroom….
Finally the moment of truth arrives…. The paper just one bench away…. I got it… started to write vigorously….. Question 1 A – fill in the blanks…. Cake walk…. Question 1 B – match the columns….. Man could it be any simpler….. And then the question for which I had taken so many pains….. It was a record that since the inception of this question in our syllabus, I never got it correct…. So I was more determined than ever to get it right this time… after all I had written 8 pages and I had read thru them enough number of times… (For me that time, ‘rataoing’ was the best form of studying :)…well there was nothing to understand in these dates anyway….) so these were the 4 dates our of the zillion I had written…. First session of national congress…. Gandhiji on some vague fast…. And some 2 other things… the gray matter refuses to help me in this case…. I thought and I finally decided on one order…. No no, this fast was for this movement which was after this session…. Oh… and here came some new order…. Tried to make a mental image of those 8 papers….. I just wanted to see the order of dates there in those papers (they were in chronological order you see)….. May be this new order….. I really think those 8 pages helped me…. Coz later in my life, mathematics taught me that there could be 4! = 24 arrangements for that question…. And I had only around 8 in my hand….. :) It was getting difficult….. “It’s fine!!! Don’t panic shamu…” I told myself….. “Come back and do it later….” After that followed a string of give reasons… answers in brief…. Answer in one sentence…. Etc…. History section done, I came back again to my conundrum….. Looked at it yet again…. First order seemed correct… Was about to write that order when a new dimension presented itself….. Panic… Anxiety…. Stress….. “After civics section” I consoled myself…. I couldn't let those 2 marks go now, could I??? Civics section tackled… some parliament related gyaan….. Done with ease and speed…. Went back to the only question left…. 10 min more for exam to get over…. Please God!!! Why isn’t this clicking….. Gandhiji #1@%$$!#..... History
@#!$$^!..... Ok ok…. Last 5 minutes…. Finally entered the answer….. The first order itself….

Scene 3: Outside the gate… after the paper…
“Ae Mithila, ti order kay hoti ga????” She said,”I think ABDC” (or something like that which wasn’t what I wrote….) “Oh, mala vatala ADCB….” Finally when the results came, I know I had messed up the order….. History marks obtained gave a clear indication of this…. :(

Scene 4: My desktop as I am writing this!!!!
Now sitting here, I am wondering whether that incident made even an iota of a difference in my life. I am doing just about the same thing as I would have done if I would have got those 2 marks more…. And even more than now, HISTORY still remains a mystery for me…. I mean no disrespect to our great leaders….. In fact, I am a proponent of their greatness for what they went through…. The torture, the pains, the struggle….. I am not sure if I could do anything like that if I was present then…. There are no words that can express how grateful I am to them for the freedom they gave me…. Also I am smart enough to know the power of history on present….. The fact that there is democracy, use of English, rights/duties… everything is due to history and I am not ignorant of that….. But in spite of all this, one question still puzzles me…. What was the purpose achieved by knowing when Gandhiji broke his umpteenth fast…. Or for that matter who was the first viceroy of India???? How knowing this fact affecting me??? Knowledge is power but this power is helpful only in certain quizzes (though they form a set of very rarely asked questions)… and I am definitely not a quizzer…. Then why god why did I waste that time….. If I had been so wisdomous then (I am assuming I am one now…), may be I would have had many hours of peace….. I mean can you fathom the amount of time saved if I did not have to make that 8 page document (front and back)…. And to add to my woes, get everything wrong…. Which led to added time wasted, cribbing about getting the things wrong……

Hopefully this will prod the readers (especially those in tenth) not to waste such valuable time in life on those 2 marks :) a valuable lesson learnt I say… :))

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Finally down with a high FIFA fever!!!

I was a strong believer that you can never enjoy watching a sport more than playing it…. As a result I have never followed any sport religiously…. And in this country of cricket crazy fanatics, I found myself to be an oddity…. But the Quarter final match of FIFA World Cup 2006 altered my perception and exposed me to that dimension of sport viewing which corroborates the use of adjectives spine-chilling, exciting, nerve wrenching, awesome et all…. Germany vs Argentina…. I remember the match so vividly…. Not only because it was the first sport match which kept me at the edge of my seat but also because it was also my first encounter with experiencing all the emotions vicariously which I have always experienced as a player….

I was a U-16 football player so a football field was not an unknown arena for me… I had tried a couple of times to watch football before…. But ended up watching either league matches or some weak teams playing on the field making them boring, reaffirming my opinion that watching a game is boring…. But little did I know…. Agreed that matches are more exciting when the stakes are high…. But if you get involved in the game, every match could get exciting…. So this is how I got hooked onto the World Cup…. Just like everyone in India did…. A huge football wave surged in India where the only idea of sport was CRICKET!!!! Tennis had recently started off due to tennis sensation Sania Mirza but it died down as suddenly as it had started….

Now India was never a footballing nation…. So, the skeptics thought of this as being a following the crowd to be in the trendy, elite group trend…. In fact I had a discussion with one such skeptic…. He asked me a question, “what happens if the 5 penalty shootouts also even out and the score is tied at 5-5?” I told him that the next penalty shootout takes place and goes on till it gives an uneven score…. Then he said that one of his friends who thinks he is a great footballing fan told him, the 6th kick has to be taken by goalie and then everyone in the team takes it…. And then it’s a rematch…. Also, he asked around 10 more people and ended up with 10 different answers…. That’s when he said “No person knows all the rules here and we all ape to be football lovers…. How can you love a game without knowing the rules??? Just imagine watching a game of chess without knowing the rules…. How absurd will it feel?” I then told him then that the knowledge of basic rules should be enough to make you love the game…. You are fans and not players to know the entire rulebook for the game…. Basics like what a penalty is…. You should know what a free kick, yellow card, red card et all are…. You should know the dribbling rules etc…. and this information is good enough to like a game…. You don’t have to watch hundreds of matches to know Zinedine Zidane is a great player…. You see his skills on the field in only one match and you instantly know that he is one of the great players who command respect…. Not knowing, the game rules, doesn’t change the fervor with which you follow the game… what should get to you is the frenzy, the tension…. He said, “You don’t have anything at stake coz India is not involved… so it feels weird to choose any arbit team and cheer for them… And most probably the team chosen by you girls will have the cutest players…. Also I wonder where all the football fans go after the world cup…. The euro cup never invoked such enthusiasm and that time too, the same teams were involved”

I answered all these questions to the best of my ability and knowledge (limited due to the 'RECENT' football following) and yet he was skeptical... i even told him that there is always a first time for something... unless you do it once, you cant dream of doing it again.... but all in vain.... And this made me realize how difficult it is for a nation, with a parochial mindset and which doesn’t play many worldwide known sports, to accept that people can just suddenly follow a new game…..

It’s a vicious circle followed…. No sporting heroes… So no following... No following… So no one takes up that sport... So no heroes…. To add to this, we Indians are so result driven…. India won some hockey match and hockey grips the entire country…. Indian goes in F1 racing and suddenly everyone watches F1 with more zeal…. Indians come and win some title in tennis and we are watching tennis till the player retains good form…. Later this following goes into oblivion….And that’s exactly where this football fever is different…. It’s different coz for once; we are watching something with so much zeal without waiting for heroes from our country to take this game up…. In fact with no stakes involved, we are actually in a position to cherish the game…. We can watch a game neutrally and savor all the good things from both the playing sides and condemn all the bad things…. On the contrary this no stake involvement may be the factor that boosts people to take up football… May be then we can have a team which can go somewhere beyond leagues…. I mean despite the lack of involvement of our country, it did cause the masses to pick up football viewing inspite of the odd hours, dint it?

I also realize that the problem with football in India is not dearth of talent but it’s the system… Administration which has almost destroyed hockey won’t let football flourish too…. But may be with so many people talking about football, so many gully matches getting played, the administration won’t be able to ignore it for a very long time…. After all in a democracy don’t the people turn tables!!!!!

My only dream is to watch India play world cup football…. Korea, Angola could do it then why cant we? And when we do play; if we even reach till the top 6 positions, ill be very happy…. Coz asking anything beyond that may label me as a result driven supporter too :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Friday Funda.......

Every Mumbaikar who works in Infosys Pune looks FWD to Friday... Yes! I know for that matter anyone who is working looks FWD to Friday... looks FWD to the day taht indicates the start of the time they get to relax over the weekend... away from work... deadlines et all.... But an Infoscion from Mumbai working 5 days in Pune looks FWD to the time when s/he can go home, eat good homemade food, relax, chat with parents, play with siblings (I am not sure what do 'only child'ren do, 'coz without banter, the cat fights with your siblings, life feels so incomplete :)..) Also, some unfortunate like me get excited about 48 hours of gettin to watch TV..... So, basically a blissful thot that carries you through the grind of the week....

So, one such Friday I left with a few of my colleagues in a sumo to borivli.... As we were all heading towards a happy 2 day mini-vacation, completely exhausted with the day's work/no work, we passed through the Ghats and tunnels where our only companions, radiosets, stopped working due to lack of range.... So, what do we do? In a sumo, which should ideally carry only 10 ppl, there were already 14 ppl stuffed; so sleeping was out in this discomfort (though many ppl miraculously achieve this feat as well... man they must be exhausted!!!).... this led to general small talk.. "arre aaj client ka call aaya tha... kya useless log hain na... excel sheet ke format mein font size unhe accha nahi laga so he made me sit till 6 and change that font".... This thot (clients being silly) went on for abt 10-15 minutes.... a small lull period and then someone else says, "arre infy kya sachmuch laptop de raha hai 25 years ke complet hone par??"... Big discussion... feasibility analysis.... cost per employee vs profitability of various solutions computed (i doubt if even Mohandas Pai gave any of this so much thot...) blah blah blah.... theories came in, refuted, accepted, lamented upon.... This went on about a good 45 min - an hour... but still there was time to kill with no network as yet....

So, someone asked someone,"XXXX, engineering mein tu vidyalankar gaya that kya??" And those opened doors to a flood of memories which comprise the best time we had in years.... "arre vidyalankar ke siva tu engg degree le hi nahi sakta...".... Someone said, "Vakil ka yaad hai... arre khopadi.. yeh kya hai??".... This guy added,"Viva mein kya vaat lag gaya tha na.... maine jo jo option mein chhoda wohi poocha yaar...."... this got a reply,"arre atleast tujhe jo syllabus mein hai woh poocha.... saala mere TV ke viva mein usne mujhe Zee TV and MTV ki frequencies ke bare men poocha..." Till now, I was a silent spectator to all this but then this person said something that needed my immediate intervention... He said,"tum mumbai university wale engg.... notes se padhte ho.... concepts toh zero hai... na kabhi college attend karte ho aur na kabhi pacticals khud karte ho.... i am so glad i did from pune university... atleast my fundas r clear...." For me it became a case of 'Mumbai University Engg degree' ke doodh ka wasta and I said, "boss, have a viva and give 8 days lead time to both these engg (as in those who are IT working professionals rite now)... and we'll see who does better..." (Ppl who know me, would correctly predict that this would be the only reaction I could give to such a statement :)...) From then on I got incorporated in the small talk (which wasnt a silly small talk anymore... it was something, i realised, every engineer was close to, felt so strongly about....) we spoke abt college cultural festivals, sports' festivals... the fun in organising, the last minute jhols, the boisetrous crowds, the raucous cheering for ur department/college.... thinking of everything taht moment actually gave me goosebumps.... and almost immediately, we all wondered where the hell did all this fun disappear from our lives.... We do have festivals in offices.... we do have sports meets in our office.... then y arent we having so much fun as before..... Got a deluge of answers....
"office ppl can never be your friends like college ppl were...."
"office ppl are never themselves... unke dikhane ke daat alag hote hai aur khane ke aur..."
"office ppl can never come close to u coz if there is an appraisal meeting, they will pull u down and get themselves up..."

All the responses I got were given, i am sure, after personal experiences only.... but i couldnt understand y this change.... I mean arent these same ppl who have 'jigari dosts' and 'langotiya yaars' in college.... then y cant they continue with the same thing in office? cant they get that 'cut throat competition' doesnt actually involve cutting ur peers, ur juniors' throats.... and y is cut throat competition a factor not to make friends here.... as students, did we face any less competition... few seats and hajar applicants.... (for guys even fewer) and yet we made friends.... i am sure this competition is not at the same level (as in colleges) in offices atleast..... but still this divide exists.. WHY????

Finally, I thot that its all abt acceptance.... accepting a person as a whole, as they are.... can you accept that ur senior has to be stern with u at times.... has to order you.... if you can then you can accept him as a friend.... if u do then u would eventually also have fun coz u would be urself in front of him and not pretend to be someone you are not.... can you accept that sometimes it is necessary to make someone look bad inorder to save something in a bigger scheme of things.... if u can, then you can accept that your senior is your friend inspite of a bad evaluation.... can you accept that, you need to be good with everyone but I dont need to be good in a sycophantic way (that other peers outcast you 'coz u r closer just 'coz u lick ur boss's ass) but genuinely good to ppl around.... if yes, then you can be friends' with your peers as well as you seniors.... imagine a scenario.... you were competing in exams and someone beat you and got a better rank than u... may be its coz they had better tutions, better notes, more time or any circumstantial reason..... if you could take that then y not take the fact that ur peer got a better evaluation than u... y does this have to hamper ur friendship with that person? I am not saying the case is that no one has good friends in office.... In fact my father has one of his closest buddies from his office.... but I dunno if the same is the case for ppl in the later generation.... if I take my example, I have formed new friends yes but I am still comfortable with/close to and have loads of fun when I am with my group... then be it college group or school group....

Is this possible, I dont know? Is this too much to ask... I dunno again... All I know is that it takes 2 tango.....

The way I look at this situation in hand is that instead of being genuine only 2 days of the week, I would rather accept this mantra and have an entire week where I am genuine....

Monday, June 19, 2006

Great things come in small packages....PART 2

What I took as an end of and era was actually the beginning of a new one... 2 ppl landed in pune and just to add to a feeling of dejavu they landed here in the same order as before.... House hunt escapades began.... What would you deem memorable when you look for a house.... the location you got it in, the neighbourhood, the no. of rooms in it, the type of view from the house??? But none of this mattered for us; 'coz just getting G-302, Nikash Lawns, Sus Road as an accomodation was memorable enuf.... 2 major reasons:
It involved ditching 3 brokers, gettins ditched by 3 house owners, ditching our frends and above all the hajar fites with folks at home regarding the indecisiveness..
The so-called furnished house actually became a HOME after all the paraphrenalia set in :)
My roomie said something which sums it all; " I am glad we finalised this place and even gladder that it is with u...."

It was here that we realised cooking can be fun, that cooking can be one of the ways to manao an angered roomie or to make her feel special.... It was here that the count of movies I saw in a theatre skyrocketted.... If I was feeling sad, had a bad day, experiencing Monday or anyday blues..... One solution to all.... Any show, any movie... buy the tickets to relaxation and fun :) All this was possible b'coz of our very own 'SCARLET'... A bike (oops!! a scooty) that took us thru thick and thin times... Thick times were the freedom it gave us in a city devoid of public transport and the thin times were an icing on the cake.... They added adventures to our daily mundane existence.... I mean how often would you have a bike that got punctured in the middle of the highway or it crashed down middle of no where and for no apparent reason or just refused to start :) Then of course there were Mumbai trips over the weekend, birthday surprises and the freedom to invite anyone,anytime and play the hostess...

Of course cooking was fun, but it was the most difficult thing to do when I was alone.... Yes, movies were fun but funnier was the impromptu decision making process and the smile on a face when we played blind and hit a jackpot.... Of course the bike rides were fun but the fun part became non-existent when Infy introduced concept of shifts in our lives.... Yes, the Mumbai trips were longed for but only when I had a sleeping beauty's head on my shoulder and when there were hajar arguments regarding the mode of transport to be used.... Of course bday parties were fun but more enjoyable was the person's face lit up after the surprise or her anxiety to know what presents were in store....

People say a relationship is at its peak when words are no longer needed.... Mind reading, facial expressions, the tone of the voice, reactions to a particular statement, or something as silly as time of coming back home... They served as cues to guess other person's feelings..... I think we had reached that peak here.... 'Coz here I've had the most lengthy and meaningful conversations just lying silently beside her..... Our friendship had reached that comfort level that we had started taking each other for granted.... One year of living with this person and gelling so perfectly with each other that it looked like a completed jigsaw puzzle.... One piece was my unreasonable demand and tantrums... The other was infinite patience.... One piece was a spate of tears... The other contained a protective hug, sleepless nights trying to reason out and a bountiful of courage.... One piece was my apprehension, qualms and migvings I had... The other had a panacea for all..... One piece was pessimism and atheism.... The other had huge amounts of faith; Faith in ME and Faith in the Creator..... One piece was a child who needed to be attended to everytime..... The other had only undivided attention.....

All these 'Other' pieces were again in that one person... The small package whose destiny was wound with mine for a short period of time..... The package who has to mkae big in her own new world..... For that short time she has influenced me, affected me and has given me so many qualities I lacked.... trying to make me a better person.... May be I have become a better person than what I was on 19th Sept 2004... 'Coz since then I was in touch with all the great things in this girl... My roomie... Shruti Rangarajan..... Now, as we part our ways, I thought it was going to be an end of an era.... But if I have got anything from the past and from her, I know it would be the begginng of a new one..... The only song I can identify with right now is:

Hum rahe ya na rahe kal
Kal yaad aayenge yeh pal
Pal, yeh hain pyaar ke pal
Chal, aa mere sang chal
Chal, soche kya
Chhoti si hai zindagi
Kal mil jaaye to hogi khushnaseebi
Hum rahe ya na rahe, yaad aayenge yeh pal

Here's wishing u the best that u always deserve...
"As you go ahead, to a great future and success stories untold
I wish you all the luck on the path you are about to unfold
When you look back there would be one person who will always hold
YOU as the BEST; a pure spirit with the heart of gold......"

Friday, June 16, 2006

Great things come in small packages....PART 1

I have no clue how mnay times in the course of last 2 years I have heard this. So much so that I've actually started believing it to some extent :) Whatever I am going to say now may or may not be understood/agreed upon by all and is definitely not new to the person I am writing this about. So then whay am i writing this?why am i penning down thots which are redundant for the person and also micorscopic for others. But there is a reason.... Like there always is for everything arnd us... The same would be revealed in the lines below.....

Has it ever happened to you.... that the 2 years of your life become synonymous with the person u spend those with and just everything gets associated with him/her? I mean every scene of your life, every happening, every other character, emotions, actions.... EVERYTHING.... everything with clear demarcations suddenly merge into this one person, one entity.... Result is nothing you mention about your life during this period is without the mention of that one name... All this happened to me... since 19th September I have been on this roller coaster ride and man it was pleasurable..... Since the day I left my protected, microcosmic world of college and set foot on a corporate platform with a professional backstage..... Everyone freshly out of college has apprehensions when they take up their first job... Its a drastic change in life.... A huge move from an infomal/casual attitude to a professional outlook... It aint that easy.... But there are always your peers you bank upon to reduce this pressure on u, to make the change a slow and steady one instead of a drastic one.... But for me things were doubly difficult.... Since apart from this pressure, on the personal front too I was exploring unexplored waters..... I was goin to live with a person I dint like and who wasn't crazy abt me either.....

But now I believe that destiny has something in store for all of us.... It has a plan, a plan which is customised for each individual... What I then took as a black stroke on my canvass of life (being in a place I dint want to and with a person I wasn't 'FOND OF') was actually a part of a magnificient painting of life.... A normal,sane person wouldnt have stayed at Anand Nagar, beyond Electronics city, Blore... But 2 extremely normal ppl, inspite of many ppl dissuading them from doing so, agreed to live at the Shenoy's.... Everything happened here... Here, at a place for which ISOLATED was the only befitting adjective.... In this isolation, we discovered each other.... We were such a perfect eg. of how you can have a brilliant rapport with a person u have never lived with... a perfect eg. of keeping the friendship string perfectly taut.... If I let lose, she would pull me up and if I stretched it beyond its limits, she would move in immediately.... I dont know when the dislike moved from hesitation to fondness to liking to love..... The incidents may or may not be monumental but the journey definitely was....

It was amidst
meals with a landlady who just loved to feed and with a landlord who loved to supervise,
my tryst with Tamil (and mind you with a person who wasn't good at it herself :)..),
a swerve in my dressing habits from good to great :),
fussing on thigns like projects and being subjected to fussing abt me fussing,
my first salary shopping and from tehn on shopping being used as a feel good factor,
huge telephone conversations (more than once a day...),
my first stint with writing letters and poems,
studies and watching convoluted soap operas together,
my first approach to Verbal as interesting,
my writing notes to myself,
me yakking away to glory just because I got a patient ear,
the caring about a person in sickness and health,
my first exposure to throw caution to hte winds and have fun and
infinite dreams................
that I fell in love with this 5 feet 2 inch person... Her patience, her fundaes.... evereything Great thing in this small package :)
And you would think that this would be the person I loved.... But in reality it was the person who I hadnt liked.... A person who transcended from a person ' I CANT STAND' to a person ' I CANNOT STAND UP WITHOUT'......

So, here is the reason why I wrote this.. 'Coz in this life U never know who can make it colorful by their sheer presence in it.... Who can make a difference inspite of being a no different (commonplace) person..... And for a person, who made a period of 1.5 months of separation pleasurable inspite of not being in physical proximity and a reason to look FWD to great times in future, deserves to be retold how much she is loved or appreciated... The future based on a tapestry of dreams weaved using choicest of words.....

This is something that can be agreed upon and also explains y this redundany aint so redundant....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Antithesis of LIFE!!!!

Everyone in my life will vouch for the contradictory traits present in me; be it family, friends or colleagues. This aspect of my life is very starkly observed or rather is something that involuntarily just comes across people I meet. So what contradictions are these?

Starting from the external, superficial stuff and to name a few; I love sports and athletic activities but I HATE walking, jogging, strolling. I always favor gals (bordering on feminism) but share a better rapport with the guys in my group. I would love to go out and freak out with friends but my idea of an ideal weekend is sleep lotssss, watch TV and laze around at my place. I love to cook but I often get bored to cook. I am very conservative yet I am most comfy in jeans, don’t mind late night outs with my friends, don’t mind guys staying over at my place (something which contradicts a traditional mindset). I often get troubled about this. I wonder which one is the real me? Introspecting all the time to find the answer but never once did I stumble upon it!

One day I spoke to one of my friends about his work and he told me that his pseudo name is John Lincoln (he works for an international BPO). I was outraged. If someone calls me Sharmila instead of my correct name I expect the other person to apologize and here is my friend; who is being paid for hiding his identity. Who is attending classes to lose the Indian accent and put on a Brit/American one! Who is getting holidays on Christmas and who wishes his clients on Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving! On the other side of this spectrum lie the RSS/Shiv Sena party people. They have these centers for cultural studies and preservation. Here they are taught how Valentine’s Day is invasion of western culture and how they should abolish it. Taking the same idea to the next level, here we are in a globalization era. A wave; that has lifted the economy and as a fallout ‘Us’. Because of this wave I see myself spending around 2 grand in about 2 days (sometimes even one hour – impulse buying) and yet there are 50 percent or more BPL families whose annual income is somewhere around this figure. The economists say that we have come to a plastic age (debit cards, credit cards et all) where you are assured fluidity of cash, so that you never fall short of finanaces when it comes to the DRESS you just fell in love with or SHOES you just cant live without. But there are people who let alone the fact of possessing debit cards but are trying hard to get a few coins in their piggy bank everyday....

The climate in India is ‘conducive’ for investments and developments and yet here I see that agriculture is still our main occupation and investments or improvements done in this field are negligible. There are suicides because the rains failed; there are murders because the crop of that person was better. I see the younger generation knowing what the problems India is facing, knowing what can be the solution to the issue and yet I see Brain-Drain, I see people saying “Isss system mein hi kharabi hai… India ka kuch nahi ho sakta…” I see students all over India coming together standing united and then I see our very own Govt. turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to them and still implementing Reservations! There is a huge hue and cry on environmental/conservation of wildlife issues and yet we go ahead and rush into signing treaties with IAEA and becoming a nuclear power (the biggest threat to a safe environment); rampant hunting of animals for pleasure, for decorating ministers’/celebrity suite. Nothing is stable in the money markets and yet the stocks are rising. The number of girls succeeding in SSC/CBSE/ICSE or junior high is more than the guys and yet girls are being compromised on( increasing number of dowry deaths, Husband beating up his wife, Rape) is omnipresent. Still there is a village in Rajasthan where the prenatal deaths occur if the child to be born is a girl child. Security has increased, newer and stricter laws are made and yet the incidents of Rape cases have increased and the number of accused convicted have decreased. Women are getting empowered; they are getting better jobs in myriad of fields. They are striving for equality with men and are coming very close to it. And yet an educated woman compromises when there are clashes in the house when the alpha male ego is hurt (I wont say this is the case all the time but it is most of the times)

Thinking about all this suddenly the contradictions in my life seem very puny, very inconsequential, very small; I have a choice now and I have to take my step to make it asap..... Coz here we are living in a country where there is one birth in very 3 minutes thereby adding one more person to become a part of this contradictory climate....

Say on an average I live for 50 years. I will still possess only so many contradictions (of my character and by the country) but around 10512000 (@ 1 per 3 min)people would be born till then to become a part of the hajar new contradictions this country is going to offer them in addition to the contradictions of the character they build for themselves in their life!!!

Can we really do something so that atleast half of those 10512000 are not subjected to the turmoil which I am sure most of us go through!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


A man is judged by the company he keeps…. And so is a woman…. If this statement is true then this leads to the most contradictory judgments about me, my character…. Coz I have many-many friends and they have such disparate characters…. So if a person has to judge me, how will they? Will they see a common linkage between my friends and try and associate that particular trait to my character…. I’m befuddled….. U don’t think this can be the case then just go through this and u would know y I am so muddled….

I am sure everyone has different groups…. I mean there is a school friends’ circle, a college group, an office group, a local train group for that matter etc…. so as is the case even I have such friends’ groups…. But an exception in my case is that for every group in each category, I had a senior group that I was a part of too…. So my life is reaaaaaaaaaaaallly complicated ;)

So as I said, my school group…. We r a bunch of 8 people… The way I see all of them is that they are a bunch of people very liberal and trendy….. at the same time they have a structured set of values when it comes to family, religion, festivals etc…. I mean we go to discs, we go to temples, we booze but we also give up if one of the friends is not present, we would go out of the way to help others at the same time be very protective of each other…. Et all…. And we have grown as individuals…. From silly kids being very competing to teens going through rough times to matured people always there when the other person needs someone…..

Now my school senior group….. I don’t have much to say about this one though coz we disintegrated pretty soon… kinda lost touch… the last thing I knew about them was that they r either getting married or they r cruising through their career…. They were the ones responsible to shape me up…. Somehow being with them gave me courage…. Made me meet challenges head on….. But if I have to associate a particular trait to this group it would be a rebellious attitude…. To believe what u think and not what people want u to think….

Then my junior college group…. It started off with 4 people branched out now to about 15 people…. This is one group which strongly believes in simple living high thinking….. Their idea of an outing would be everyone (with parents in the group…) going to some place…. cooking together…. Going for walks… playing cards or other indoor games and of course catch up on each others lives….. Like one BIG Family…. Going to a disc would be an outrageous idea coz I am not sure how many people will dance or drink???

Thankfully I was in junior high for only 2 years so couldn't really get to know any seniors then :)

My Engg college group….. we r a bunch of 20 fellow class mates who are in one big group but somehow there are still factions….. strong contradictory characters have been very dominant so the group hasn’t coalesced into one…. As a result this group has many different aspects…. It depends on what faction is dominant or what are the circumstances around… We could be nerdy at times, rash at times, extremely tech-savvy to extreme aversion to technology, have a sporty attitude towards life or gossip/bitch about everything and everyone in life, be very aware of current affairs or be extremely ignorant of life around…. All in all they are somewhat similar to my school group but with an additional thrust on career….

My senior engg college group…. Not so much as a group since it’s just 2 or 3 of them….. I was cited so many times with them that I was often confused to be a part of their group…. They are extremely objective, extremely organized….. I have seen them get obsessed with say a project wit the same zeal as they would be for a person…. Viability of everything is of vital importance….. I mean doin nethin for just kicks would be an unthinkable idea for them…..

So now what exactly is the judgment doled out to me????

Am I rebellious or am I conservative, am I trendy or am I simple, am I practical in life or am I lost….. For some reason I can relate to all….. All the disparate qualities of these groups and yet so relatable…. I don't know y I became friends with them…. Just thought that they r like me…. Like they say IT JUST CLICKED….. But in the process did I become like them???? I mean I was conservative but have started being liberal about things…. I have become extremely tech-savvy, I have understood that playing cards with friends on an outing is as much fun as going to a disc with them…. I have started being a stickler where necessary….. I have learnt to think for myself….. et all…..

Makes me draw parallel with the TV series F.R.I.E.N.D.S…. extremely disparate people but always there for each other….. each person has maintained their identity yet some effect of the group has rubbed off on them….. so when I see Rachel being organized (just like Monica…) I feel well that’s just like what happened to me…. I became friends with all these people because of the CONNECT I felt with them and with time I have grown, matured and sifted out some of my flaws by takin the good things from my ‘Friends’…..

An impulse tells me to ask them, “did they get any good things from me being a part of the group???” and the same impulse tells me " OF COURSE!!! :) "

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

IT Bubble bursts: A Day in an IT Professional’s life

Get up early morning
To you cell phone alarm ringing
Laze around for sometime and
Wish that there was no office, no job at hand…..

Get ready and have some food
For breakfast which aint no good
Miss your mother waking u up everyday
Miss your mother holding the plate with breakfast and wanting you to stay….

Till you finish the entire plate
Till she is satisfied that you are sate
Think this everyday and grumble
The days now don’t unfold, they just tumble….

Come to office to your same seat
Looking at the forwards remains the only treat
Then you sit, code, attend telecons and sessions
Do the work as told which finally brings out nothing but frustrations

You have no motivation, you have no liking
There is nothing in your job that is striking
You are in a team which is a bunch of fools
All they care about is CCMI 5 and some related tools…..

People say you have a choice to make
You can quit your job, there would be nothing at stake
You are bright and you will get one soon
But trust me that all IT jobs in India finally lead to doom…..

You should go abroad and then you will see
You will feel motivated, you will feel free
You talk to your Onsite Coordinators and they are troubled
They say after coming here it has burst their bubble….

So what to do and what shud you say
To make you want to open your eyes each day
You often wonder if its just you or is everyone going through the same
If they are then their patience levels are insane…..

Since they are not cribbing like you do
Nor are they getting frustrated like you do
Is this affecting your work you often wonder
But atleast till now realise you have made no blunder…..

Then you go home everyday after your 8.8 hours
Go home and watch TV and watch the stars
Eat the self cooked food and then goto sleep
Hoping that the next will not be mundane and will have some meaning deep…………

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What's in a name!!!

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."
-- Shakespeare....

When I hear this I often wonder if Shakespeare actually knew what he was talking about…. If you are wondering what am I exactly ranting about then you have to know this story…. Now when I was born, being the first child of the house, my aunt (father’s sister) is supposed to christen me…. Now instead of my father’s sister christening me, I had her daughter (my cus) do the honors…. Using numerology, astrology and all possible inaccurate sciences it was decided that my name should start with the letter ‘S’…. not that I had a say in all this anyway but till this point in time I am ok with everything…. So she could name me, Seeta, Suzy, Shalu, Shanta, Shruti…. If she insisted to have an ‘ili’ in the end of my name then it could be Shalmili, Shamili,Shalini…. But NO!! The only name that struck a cord with my cus was SHARMILI!!!!

Now I wonder why exactly she gave this name to me…. I mean did I do something when I was in the cradle prompting her to give me this name???? Did it occur to her what her repercussions are…. But before that my first question goes to parents all over…. How do they decide on the name of their child??? I mean if the child smiled in the cradle, they will name him Hasmukh…. Or if the child was born in the morning then he is Suraj…. I am perplexed…. Gods name are given to children…. But what is the intention?? Is it that the names will help the child turn as virtuous as Gods???? But who am I to question laws of society and nature…. So coming back to my name…. as I said before…. I am not cribbing about this…. I was the only SHARMILI in my school, college and my workplace…. Having a unique name has its perks in the world where there are hajar Priyas, Shraddhas, Sudhas…. I mean if you find say a book with Sharmili written on it, u would know immediately it is mine…. There won’t be a need to research and know which SHARMILI this book belongs to, coz it only me in the game…. But this unique name (I refrain from calling it unusual) also had a flip side as well….

Now whenever I go and introduce myself, the people are amused…. This is evident by the broad smile on their face when they hear my name…. some even go to the extent of saying “oh, toh tum sharmati ho kya????”…. now I am stumped…. How am I supposed to react to this…. “haan bhai, mein sharmati hoon…” or just give that silly grin and let him/her decide…. Or say “of course not… sharmati toh ghar mein rehati, aapse milne idhar nahi aati…” I must say, I can’t use the third option pretty often…. Reason being people who have asked me such a weird question have always been in the senior age group…. So second option is the only way out…. Going to college was particularly dreadful for me coz I always thought I would be ragged courtesy my ‘UNIQUE’ name…. How many seniors would get a chance like this…. I mean my name actually gives them ragging material on the platter…. some of the ways I imagined were people singing “oh meri, oh meri Sharmili” all around with me at the centre of the jhoond…. or a particular guy from the class would be ragged by asking to come up to me and sing that song for me…. There would ve been a solace if people hadn’t seen that movie…. But to my luck this movie is seen by many or at least heard of by many…. I really don't know how successful this movie was but most of the people around me seemed to have seen it and trust me that’s a lot…. But luckily in Ruparel and VJTI; I dint experience all this and man am I glad!!!!

But that’s not all…. I went to Barista the other day…. Now at this coffee joint I have to order, then tell my name, pay of course and finally wait for my turn till the guy calls off my name from the list…. So I go to the guy and say ill have a choco frappe and a grilled sandwich…. So he takes the order and asks my name…. I say, “Sharmili…” he says, “excuse me madam…. Could u repeat that…. I heard Sharmili….” I said, “yes, that’s correct… that’s my name….” you should ve seen the grin on his face when I confirmed my name…. worse comes next…. When my order was done he goes, “Sharmiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”…. Now I would like to believe that was because he had to get through to me despite the din around…. There are many such instances…. All through these years I have seen people grin, smile, laugh when I tell my name…. the positive way of looking at it is that I have made people laugh and then I get content with it…. if you meet me and u would come to know that the Sharmili aspect of my character is limited only to my name :)…. Of course this prompts for nicknames like 'besharmili....'

People often ask me, if you don’t like your name why u don’t change it…. But then comes my immediate reply, "What's in a name? That which we call Sharmili by any other word would mean the same sweet person" wont it????

Football Shootball Hai Rabba

In this journey called life there are many memories…. But in some by lanes of our memory, in spite of the time gap between the occurrence and the point when you think about the memory; you can paint a picture so clear as if it occurred yesterday….

One such memory I have is my second football match…. Now one may wonder how a second match is more memorable than the first match played but there is a perfectly logical reason behind this (and mind you.. its not the result of the match)…. In my school days, football was considered to be a guys’ game, though tacitly….. So in spite of having the infra for it, we dint have the means for it…. so after a huge campaign in favor of girls’ football, we finally got a team of 13…. I hope that people realize this was with 2 extras…. We got trained before school hours for about a month or so everyday…. With girls being as tough as they could.... Finally we put up a team for the Interschool Under-16 Girls Championship…. Our first match… against the last year winners….. To say I was nervous would be an understatement…. It made me think of us like one of those weak teams in the English films formed out of geeks or dark horses…. I mean they win in the end but they get wonderfully screwed in their first match….. Now this aint a happy feeling just before your first match, is it? Coupled with this was the fact that our guys’ football team was present to cheer for us….. It was very sweet of them but little that they know that their sheer presence pressurized us beyond all means….. But then we played and the only thing I remember of that match was that despite a drawn match we were so happy as if we had won it….. But the happiness was short lived…..

The next day in school, every member of the guys’ team made impressions of the girls playing…. They made fun of the fact that we drew the match when there were ‘Ample Opportunities’…. The principal wasn’t as proud and we felt we were losing face….. Then our second match was announced…. Was at Azad Maidan…. Now for all the non-Mumbaikars…. This ground is BIG…. In every sense of the term…. And for a small team like ours it felt gigantic….. And to add to this the guys placed bets in front of us… 1:5 if we lose and 1:1 if we draw….. We said these bets were weird…. You should get more if we draw and not if we lose….. They said they had to place realistic bets….. So with abysmally low confidence (and this was me and not the team…. Hopefully….) we entered the ground…. I don’t remember the name of the school but they were in yellow jerseys…. That’s the deal with girls…. We use aesthetic senses to identify things….. So it’s a purple book (and not the name…) or it’s a grey car (not the make or the number…) Enough of this digression though…. The first half started…. My team captain won the toss…. Ok …. That’s a good start….. Then we selected the non-sunny part of the ground…. It was all calculated…. If the first half we play on the side we selected then when we have to change the sides, the sun would changed positions and we would still get no dhoop….. I like to believe that we also strategize like our BIG teams would…. Almost about 10 min since the game started, our Star player fouled and they got a free kick….. I was like, “shit!!!! We r goin to lose…. No, no…. our goalie is awesome… she will save….” And much to my disappointment Yasmine couldn't….. We were shattered…. Time-Out!!!! our coach gave us some more gyaan….. Some tough words which would prevent us from making mistakes… poor Yasmine…. She was almost to tears…. It amazes me how girls can cry for everything….. In any case, we re-started the game and yes!!! One yellow jersey touched the ball with her hand….. YE…. We get a free kick…. Lorraine was going to take the kick…. A small trivia about Lorraine…. In our school ground, the only peson who could bend the ball like Beckham was Lorraine….. she would kick and the ball would go flying in the air and with a force that its destination would only be the goal post… nething coming in between would get crushed….. We pitied their goalie…. Coz it was her turn to cry…. Lorraine takes a run-up…. Comes to the ball and KICK….. But to our disappointment….. her ball dint bend nor did it leave the ground…. It went as slowly as it could and landed rite in front of their goalie…. I was like, “shit!!!! We r goin to lose….” Now it was Lorraine’s turn to be tearful…. 2 down from my team….. that’s on the face of it though…. Coz I was pretty sure at that particular moment all of us were down…… the game continued…. And the ref whistled…. HALF TIME!!!!!

We were scared to even face our coach…. Our coach tried to be calm, give strategies…. But Yasmine and Lorraine had already started crying….. So the Forwards were given some offensive gyaan…. Me and Poonam (the main defenders) were given defensive gyaan…. And then he said something that served as a faint glimmer of hope….. He said, “I have seen many matches turn in the second half and with the team I have I am sure this one will turn too….” With a firm resolute that we can’t let our coach, our principal and our school down we came onto the field….. The game started….. The defense was Rock-Solid (and this is not only because I was in the defender…) they made 3 offensive attacks and all combated head on….. Our turn to get offensive…. Manju our Centre Forward (or half as we called her) dribbled the ball till the half line, kicked it to Flavia….. Flavia then dribbled the ball till the ‘D’ and was about to pass to someone in the ‘D’ (after seeing Lorraine’s performance we dint trust ourselves with goos kicks)… She then realized that she was free (unmarked that is since we played man to man) and their goalie could not reach in time to block her kick, she took a chance…. She kicked…. And GOAL!!!! We had our first goal….. There were tears of joy in our eyes (now these are very different tears…) I know we dint win as yet but the knowledge that we couldn't lose was sufficient to trigger this action…. The game started again…. their goalie kicked the ball, intercepted by one of my team players and a passed to Manju…. Something happened and Kartiki fell on top of their goalie (and that was NOT intentional)….. Manju saw her chance and GOAL!!! This was like a dream come true…. We r winning….. We were about to cheer when we heard the ref whistle…. FOUL…. WHAT…. The goal not counted…. Why god y??? Last 10 min more and we were on the offence all the time…. but couldn't convert the chances we got…. The final whistle…. Score 1 – 1… a tie again…. we will get screwed again tomorrow in school we thought….. But it doesn’t matter I said….. The point is we DINT LET THEM WIN :) we took the match from their clutches and almost got into our clutches…. And that was a happy thought….. All that mattered then…..

As for the series, we won the next match and finally the tournament but I don’t know why this match made an everlasting impact on me….. Our principal then proudly announced….. “The first time my girls put up a team and they became the champions in mumbai….” We felt his pride when he announced this.... And much to the boys team chagrin, he added, “and my boys took two years to get this trophy here….”

Football is still played in my school and the same tournament has one entry from my school.... If I were there the next year, I would ve heard someone say, " Shit man!!! we are playing last years champs...." This thought itself makes me smile now....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Curiosity doesnt kill the CAT it builds character!

Precautionary note: Any reference in the following article to any place or person living or dead is intentional. The reader is hereby asked not to judge the writer under any circumstances :) Kids these stunts are performed by professionals and you are advised not to perform them w/o adult supervision…..

Children these days are very inquisitive… they have many questions…. I, as a child, was very inquisitive too….. But the things these kids are inquisitive about are, “mamma how is a TV remote is different from an AC remote (of course that is if they can know the diff)… or how does a mobile function? These days I see parents making their kids laugh with different ring tones on a mobile…. I mean how tech-savvy can we get….

Makes me think of the older and simpler times….. When I was a kid…… YES…. I was inquisitive but in a very very different way….. I mean how many kids would look at the metal frame of the building gate and feel Man!!!! Can I get my head into it???? Oh!!! Don’t JUDGE me….. In my defense I was just 3 years old….. So the deal is, I go to my cus’s place and their gate is damn beautiful (I am thinking that now, since I was so attracted to it…) So then I get all probing and I try to see if I can bend the metal bars and get my head into it….. it turns out…. I could (of course I doubt it if the metal bars bent)….. But then I was faced with a slight problem….. Incidentally the act of putting the head in the gate was a one way street…. I couldn't get my head out….. Now there were many ways; but without hurting me and getting me out; there were none….. Then came my mom to my rescue…. This woman has given me life and also pulled (in the true sense of the word) me out of these difficult situations….. I owe her not one but many!!!

I was about 4 years old when I found a pack of Agarbattis…. What would a normal kid do when they take the incense sticks in their hands…. Of course they will smell it… how couldn't they…. That’s the most obvious part of agabattis, aint it…. but dealing with the obvious was not something that my character was made of…. So I take these sticks (around 30 cm long) and I see how much of it can go into my nose….. I put the sticks so far in that only about the last 10 cm or so was left…. Now did u guys know that things up to 20 cm can go up our nose without any damage???? Of course I can’t see any signs of physical damage when I say this ;)

I am still wondering how my parents haven’t disowned me yet….

We had come from a tiring trip from Mahableshwar so my folks were sleeping peacefully having their afty nap….. My dad’s after shave was placed within my reach…. Now my mother was very careful with such things knowing how inquisitive I am…. She would never keep anything that can flow, burn or cut within my reach… but then she must be very tired coz she did leave the Old Spice can (completely new btw) down…. Now what would one think when they see this?? And by one I mean a CHILD…. I agree I was 5 but I was still an adorable and cuddly child….. So when I see this bottle curiosity gets better of me and I ask myself…. What will happen if I put this on my hair…. And as an exemplary elder sis I also asked my sis to join in… so I very carefully placed the after shave on my hair and hers….. aren’t u ppl glad I did it… coz only then I discovered that nothing happens if u put after shave on ur hair…. It just smells nice…. Of course the only bad thing that can happen would be that the stringent smell wakes your parents and you get thrashing for wasting after shave and setting a bad example….

I was around 11 when I was learning to ride a bicycle…. Now balance was something I was good at… but I always pushed myself…. So what I do is, I try and see how I can balance my cycle on one wheel…. It turns out, it isn’t that difficult…. The only issue is make sure when you do this that there is no bus coming at you from one side and a drain on the other….. coz what mite happen is that u get scared by the sheer size of the bus ( you are still learning)….. Have a wobbly back wheel and with front wheel in the air there aint too much support…. And CRAAAASH!!!! You land urself in the drain…. Experience does make a person wise…. :)

Times went by and I accrued learnings from many such experiences…. Of course I have my inquisitiveness mainly responsible for the kind of person I am or I would grow up to be.... In many such ventures I have incorporated my sisters too…. So they have to thank me for the character I built in them…..

But then I now wonder…. Y don’t I see kids today so inquisitive…. Makes me worry about the younger generation…..

I mean how can being inquisitive about a remote even parallel being inquisitive if ur head goes through the gate :)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Rescue....

A normal day at work and we come to our small abode... thake-hare…. Freshened up and cooked food…. We have become great experimenters with food…. Have made everything ranging from normal daal-roti to Italian pasta…. We have also discovered new dishes en route cooking these mundane/exotic foods by doing patch ups to make the so called delicacy edible and presentable…. I mean however delicious Dal fry you have but it has an unpleasant or unnatural color, you wouldn't wanna taste it…. So after a decent meal (which is a big things when you stay alone…) we stayed up to watch some regular F.R.I.E.N.D.S series or switch between Kahani Ghar ghar ki and jassi jaisi koi nahi…. About 1:30 in the nite, both of us (me and my roomie that is…. ) depressed that we had a lousy day and too sleepy to do anything else were going to call it a day….. we decide to get the mattresses down and surrender ourselves to the world of dreams where atleast something exciting would happen….. but then shruti shrieks…. A loud enough shriek to get a person soundly sleeping all startled…. And the effect it had on me.... After all I was just about to sleep, wasnt I?…. Neway a normal girley reaction to this…. i get scared... start wondering whats happening... i see shruti sprinting (its a rare site) to the kitchen…. i run behind her still wonderin whats the matter... well she goes something like aeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…. Now I am not saying I am fluent at many languages but this was really something I couldn't possibly understand…. Shruti, with her hands all over the place…. eyes popping out….. breathless due to the earlier shrieking business says…. “there is a lizard on the bed... drive it out na... u have to do it shamu (that’s how she calls me….) for my sake... for the love u have for me…..”

God I really love this girl and she really means a lot to me…. But how can she expect me to prove this by driving out a lizard…. But I had to do something…. Something to rescue my damsel in distress, me the knight in the shining armor…. Oops… wait a sec…. with lizard on one side and a terribly frightened Shruti on the other; I still knew I was wrong.... I tried my best to get the Feminine of Knight…. And at that god forsaken hour I could only come up with dame in shining armor.... So I crouched behind the chipkali…. Slowly enough; not to give her/him (I couldn't research on the sex then na…. Also dint have the means for it even if i had wanted to...) any hints of the things going on in my mind…. Trying to drive it out….

And then I get a revelation... chipakalis r confused creatures.... i kept driving it towards the door or the window and it kept goin everywhere but there…. In the interiors of the house…. But not once in the direction I wanted it to go…. So at around 2:00 am we had a chipkali going places and me obviously running behind it and shruti obviously too scared, so sitting on the bed changing positions to be as far as possible from the chipkali…. In this confusion sweater falls on it... I am like YES.. its trapped.. so let the sweater be... itll suffocate... and itll die.. and shruti is like….. ewwwwwwwwwwww if that lizard dies in my sweater u have to buy me a new one…. Women I tell u… even in these times of stress they r fussy about their clothes…. i said just wash it and wear na.... but no... she refused…. so then i drag the sweater (with the chipkali in it) towards the door and throw the sweater out and shut the door... i assumed now the chips (I like this word… and by then I kinda grown fond of the lizard… so thought will call it by a nick name…) will go out of the sweater and life wud be peaceful again… of course made fun of shruti saying how can she be so scared... With the knowledge that there mite be no more chipkali menace she treid to put on a bravura.... she said "of course i am not scared... ill go and get my sweater myself.. " and guess what... another shriek.... our very own chips was still there….

I then just concluded chipkalis r very dumb creatures and our chips was one of he most dumbest... well needless to say shruti ran a mile away from the door and it again came up to me to make the world chipkali free…. so BOLD that i am i go and do somethin and the chips is gone forever.... we procure the sweater and put it for washing...

After so many months I really hope our chips grew and made a fine thing one day… After all, all the trauma of that nite had to make a positive impact on its character....

Food for Thought

I have heard a saying that big things often start from small, insignificant things. I experienced something like this a few days ago. A harmless lunch to a south Indian place in Pune and that’s when this debate started. Well a south Indian friend of mine and yours truly were having lunch and a small statement made by yours truly resulted in a long thought process being initiated for me atleast. We argued about how South Indians have contributed to Indian culture more than what Maharashtrians have. Assal Marathi me, couldn't take this statement and then started a debate. Now how would you say one state contributed more and the other less. The only means we could come about it was how a firang would react to things we said like music, dance et all.

Now with this definition her points did make sense. Any firang would know about Bharatnatyam and not about Lavani. Any firang would know about Karnatic Music and not Dhol, tutari etc. so I really thought oh my god. My state has not really contributed. I got restless. And my next instinct was to mail all my Marathi friends who would help me in this dilemma. So here are some interesting accounts that I got. Here goes the list of all the contributions Maharashtra done towards indian culture…

For each of these fields, u can find one name thats maharashtrian and at the very top of the field:
music: lata mangeshkar, pandit bhimsen joshi
industry: kirloskar
sports: cricket : sachin tendulkar
history: Chhatrapati Shivaji
cities: Mumbai - (the only truly cosmopolitan city in india according to me)
Dances: Lavani and Koli Dances… If you vist any cultural festival.. agreed hajar ppl would be doing Bharatnatyam et all… but a cultural festival would be incomplete if these dances aren’t incorporated…I actually made a face when I said no one in their right senses would get trained or teach lavani… It has been treated as a non-serious, folk dance which had been used for a long time to appease the Peshwas... But this doesnt mean that lavani is easier than bharatnatyam...Just have a look at all the folk performances happened through the years… without lavani all are as incomplete as say bharatnatyam would be without the first archana to shiva…In fact Lavani has been given the same status in Indian folk and culture as bharatnatyam is…..
Saints: I doubt if South Indians have produced any of the saints that Maharatshtra has…. Dyaneshwar, tukaram, Eknath maharaj et all….
Music (addition): because of the Peshwa culture we have dhols, tutari, lezim et all instruments being used in abundance… rhythm is required and dhol wasn’t used is an impossibility…. Kirtans, Abhangs: there is no equivalent of these in South India and this has come mainly due to the predominance of saints in our history…
Scriptures: Dyaneshwari… a critical discourse on bhagavath Gita by Sant Dyaneshwar made it possible for hajar ppl to know these teachings w/o knowing Sanskrit… The Bible was originally in the Latin Language and John Wiklif rendered its English translation which is in use today and this was about 75 years after Dyaneshwari was composed and the place from where this idea stemmed from….
Of course adding to this list is the cosmopolitan attitude… the tolerance to have hajar states se ppl comin over and yet befriend them…..
And BOLLYWOOD of course….. without this our page 3 would be empty so would our teatime chats.....
In addition to this the south has also had a different history than ours. We have fought long wars first with the Aryans, Afghans, Mughals, then with the British. The only real time the south was under dominance was when the British ruled. Several years of war force people to get influenced by the culture of their rulers. There has been a period of time when our culture stagnated in terms of development if not stopped completely. Even now you see the English dominance more in Bombay than any other city down south. The south was able to nurture and develop its culture.

Now why would the south Indian keep quiet when I gave so many points. So here is her account in the clash of Titans:
music-AR rahman-the only guy who made any kind of impact on the international music scene.. ms subalakshmi.. no matter wht u say.. she is the goddess of indian music...pandit ravi shankar.. and his daugthers anushka and norah jones (see we go international even there)
industry- Your employers.... They being Infosys Technologies Ltd.... Any IT company for that matter- the chairman of ISRO is a southie.. Kalam.. our Pres is a south Indian.. P chidabaram the man who championed Indian reforms.. is from tamil nadu.. not to mention nobel laureaute CV Raman...
sports.. let me introduce u to Vishwanathan anand.. grand master if u may.. Sania Mirza the tennis sensation is from Hyderabad- and mahesh bhupati.. For cricket.. obviously... Rahul dravid,kumble,vishwanath.. dhanraj pillai(hockey)
history-tipu sultan(from mysore)
cities- as for India's IT hub-thts still bangalore...and the only other cities in the running are Chennai and hyderabad....
Saints- Sankracharya.. and im not talkin abt the last one .. he is the 101st saint i believe..
swami vivekanand's Mutt is in Kanyakumari....
music addition- the veena, tanpura, violin
Bollywood happens to be in Mumbai.. there are enuf south indians in the industry-aishwarya rai, shilpa shetty,sridevi and loads more.. and most of them wud give their right eye to work with mani ratnam.. no points for guessing where he hails from....

This of course called for a fresh round of Marathi contributed more points.... But I noticed that unknowingly when I said South Indian; I (or we tend to) clubbed together Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But when I said Maharashtra I didn’t count any other states.... not even Goa. The comparison didn’t have a basis in that sense....

But then it came to me like a bolt of lightening....

Why would a Firang’s understanding of India determine how good an Indian state is in terms of contributing to the culture? Are we just asking them to evaluate their culture since they can do so objectively? But can you quantify something as culture? Can you separate this ONE Indian culture? Is Lavani really a lowly form of dancing and Bharatnatyam is not? For the first time I saw we outsourcing something abroad. We outsourced the process of appraising our culture to them. Aint that unfair?
My country is rich in culture and I am the one to judge this. And NOT anyone else.... My friend Aniket said when I asked his help to tell me how marathi ppl have contributed more to Indian culture than south Indians. And his reply was, why distinguish marathi culture? We in maharashtra have Indian culture. Of course in the heat of the moment I ignored his statement but now I realize how true it is.....
Kehate hai na, “Der aaye Durust aaye”

When in Swades SRK said that we have culture but we are still underdeveloped I agreed to the statement wholeheartedly.... But at this point I don’t know how many who agreed to the above statement are actually aware of this culture? The fact that I couldn't get sizeable number of points for my matrubhoomi was and still is an unsettling thought.

Here we are; infatuated to getting modernized but during that process I have forgotten myself. I can read English fluently. Know a dozen of ostentatious words and am comfortable with any dialect. But I don’t know how fluently I can read Marathi now. I don't know many simple words in Marathi. Something as commonplace as language is an important part of culture, isnt it? I proudly write my Mother tongue as Marathi but really speaking I don't know if I have spoken one small paragraph of 3 lines in only marathi since I left my school....

So for this I am glad I had this debate coz it made me think. It made me realize that I need to make a conscious effort to know myself, my roots and my language. And I am glad that I involved these many people in this debate coz I am sure somewhere I made them think... I made them realize how proud they should be to be Marathi....

After all how will they realize how proud they should be to be INDIANS if they do not feel the pride of being a Maharashtrian....
Isn't the latter a subset of being an Indian??