Monday, May 19, 2008

Its all about loving your parents!!

As sidey as this Karan Johar movie line sounds, it is something that I would want to use to dedicate this 50th post to my parents!! Like every milestone (big or small) wouldn't be possible without them, similarly this inconsequential one (reaching 50 posts) would not have been possible if they hadn't tolerated the late night lights kept switched on (that's typically when I write my blogs), given me a broadband connection only coz I asked for it (when there were more pressing matters they had to attend to) or say gave me awesome education, supported me on every decision I took etc. So, YES I am writing this post about those 2 MOST important people in my life (mind you NOT one of the most important BUT MOST important).. There is NO man in this world who would measure up to my father and NO lady who would be as gracious as my mother is... When they show in these teen flicks, how these kids are ashamed of getting their parents to a friend's place or embarassed to hug them in public - I often get confused coz NEVER was I ashamed of my parents and I'm hoping never were they to have me as a daughter... It was with them that I did not experience the concept of "GENERATION GAP". Their adaptability to everything that is thrown at them is one of the reasons why their life stories and what they do now becomes so inspiring for us, the reason why we have good friends but they still remain as one of our BEST friends.
Talking about my father first, he comes from very humble beginnings... He was the youngest of the pack (4 brothers, one sister) and had to fight it out for everything... His family's financial condition needed him to work instead of studying but HE knew the importance of studying so fought with his brother (my grandpa left us when my father was just 10 years old) and completed his education till std. twelfth... He wanted to study further but then had to give in to the pressures of his family and start working... So, in his inheritance - all he bequeathed was responsibilities, hardships and loads of criticisms for not listening to his elders... So, from a small village in Nanded he landed in Mumbai to make it big here... I have seen the earlier places where he used to stay... One room which served as kitchen, living room, bedroom and dining room... One room which held my grandma and him (mind you! inspite of not being well settled he took the responsibility of looking after my grandmaa - of course she did help him in terms of taking care of household chores etc.). Before this house there were instances when he was alone and had to stay on the platform, bench in park etc. while he hunted for a job (he could put up with his brother but he would get cold stares or some nasty remarks about not getting a job and he had a lot of self respect to take this). So, before he got a job in MTNL in 1973 this is the list of things he did... Sold cards on the road, sold cricket match tickets, worked in the a steel factory, founded one steel factory. This is really an inspiring story. My father and his friend started this company called A to Z steels as partners... He saved on all the money he had (money was saved by say not having evening tea, walking till his house to save ticket money etc) and executed his first order. From then on he worked for 3 years where the company grew from its first order of 180 bucks to an order of 30000 bucks... At this point in time, he applied to this government job and got selected... There is a rule in India that a government servant cannot have another job (not even part time) and therefore he had to dissolve his partnership... This company - a fruit of his labor and hardwork - still exists and has a networth of crores... Sometimes he still wonders if he should have fought with his brother (who believed a secure job is better than a risky business) and continued with the business... It makes him sad at times but he is very satisfied with the levels he has attained in his life... Of course, he still remains very ambitious and at the age of 55 he is more ambitious than anyone his age!!! He bought his first house in 1980... He married my maa in 1981 and had 4 daughters in due course of time... Not once has he faltered to give them the comforts which he dint get... He has never once undermined the importance of education and ensured all of them get quality education... He was far sighted enough to start saving at an early age to now meet the expenses of the family of 6 (he has one daughter doing his MBA, one an architect, one doing medicine and one in standard 12th)... I have no clue how he manages every June to pay these exhorbitant fees for everyone and yet manage his household expenses... Our house is entirely a ONE MAN's show... From necessities to luxuries - EVERYTHING is managed by ma paa... Strong believer in neither be a borrower nor lender be - he has NO liabilities or debts... He has helped all his siblings - monetary or physical help - whenever they needed... He took care of his mother from the day he came to Mumbai till the day she left us... As cliched as it sounds - my father is really like a coconut... Huge temper so would say the nastiest things to people who mean a lot to him, be extremely tough in dire circumstances but if any of his loved ones are in pain - HE cannot stand it... I had a fever of 104 when I was young and both my parents dint sleep till it came down to normal... My sister had this small lump at the point where her nose started... Docs said its a tumor and needs to be operated.. He was ready to bear all the expenses but when he took a second opinion - he realised surgery wud not help... He went barefoot to Pali (a famous Ganpati temple lies there) and fasted for many days... Today there is no lump and she is one of the better looking sisters... The architect was a premature baby - wasnt going to survive on delivery - my father ensured that she gets the BEST in Mumbai.. She was under observation, in an incubator with many docs monitoring her condition for almost 5 days after which she came out... Now, she is not only healthy but also his favorite (when I say this - I am sure he will not agree but his attachment to her is VERY visible). There are many such instances where this man that I know as my father did exemplary things... I dont know if, as parents, I would be able to do for my kids but I am certain their grandpa would do EVERYTHING to make them feel the most amazing grand kids on this planet :)))
Behind every successful man lies a woman!! And my father's exemplary achievements would not have been possible without the unstinted support of my maa... There are times when I get super bugged with my father (read - the tough exterior part) but my maa NEVER leaves his side... She gets dragged a lot into these daughter-father fights and poor thing strives hard to not take sides and solve the issue... She will defend my case in front of him and his in front of me... This lady who comes from a similar background as my father (father expired soon, lived with her brother, could not study despite being so bright and got married to come from a village to a huge city like Mumbai) never once let me down. She was my friend when I wanted to discuss something and a mother when she had to guide me. In true sense - She is ma FRIEND, PHILOSOPHER and GUIDE. Her story also truly inspires me and probably is the reason why I am the way I am. My mum in std. tenth lost her father. She moved from one city to another. In std. tenth she changed schools. She did not have books to study from. So, she would borrow them from this friend of hers - study while she was sleeping (and in the street light - since her family could not afford electricity or more oil to let the lamp burning whole night) and then return the books in the morning while attending school... Despite this she secured above 60% which was a big deal then. When she bore 2 daughters, she went and completed her B.A. Going to classes in the evening all the way in Ruia, Dadar (and this was after cooking lunch, taking care of her in-laws and daughters, preparing dinner) to come back in the night - study for sometime (if we dint cry and bug the hell outta her) and then get up in the morning to continue her routine again.. All this only made the importance of education instilled VERY strongly in all of us. She became a housewife to ensure that her daughters get personal care and attention during their formative years... She balances everything so beautifully - her house, her family, her relationships with dad's side/her side/friends etc. Even my uncles and aunts praise her a lot (these are the people who are generally sitting to point out faults in others) and we cannot but feel the pride of being her daughters. What she means to me is completely cannot be expressed in words (though i have tried to write something in this post -
I can go on and on about them but I still would not be able to do justice neither to the hardships they faced nor the perfection with which they have brought up their family. When I do start my family I hope I learn a great deal from them. With the amount of hardships in my life reduced by 90% (thanks to their efforts) I still have a lot to learn. I am still not sure if my kids will grow up to learn, respect and behave the RIGHT way like we do thanks to they instilling those values in us. When you have a child - his/her entire life depends on you - you have a great responsibility and one wrong move can ruin his/her life. And yet this odd couple (they are as opposite as it can get) in their twenties from a small town in a huge city managed to make their 4 daughters responsible ladies with a class who have been given the freedom to do whatever they want and who know to bear the consequences of their actions.. I believe even a standing ovation cannot give them due credit for this feat :)))
I will put an end to this blog with a thought that I will implement till the day I live - I hope ma and paa that WE ensure that NEVER again in your life - would you face hardships again!! Love u so much!! Thanks for everything!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Comedy of Errors

When I was in Std. tenth, I had a lesson in Marathi called "Me stadium var match pahato" (roughly translated it means I watch a match at the stadium) Basically it was about his trials and tribulations when he went to watch a cricket match at the stadium. I had vowed then - that I will NEVER watch a cricket match at the stadium - it wasnt worth the effort (clearly evident in the pain the author had to bear). Later on in engineering - I had a cricket crazy group but still we would go to this friend's place and watch a match together - wear blue tees, carry a blue flag, paint our faced in the tricolor etc... Every six/four was a celebration and every wicket we expressed frustration. But it was loads of fun - only because we were at this friends place - eating his mom's home-made delicious cakes and other junk food... In a nut shell, IT WAS COMFORTABLE!

Thus, my interest in cricket was ALWAYS driven by my friends - who were crazy about it... And this was the exact same reason I got emotionally blackmailed into watching the IPL - Mumbai Indians versus Knight Riders match at Wankhede - and the worst part of it all I PAID FOR BEING TORTURED :(

So, Girish asked me to come over and I agreed (read - emotional blackmail for not calling at 12 to wish him on his budday) to leave early and join him for this match. Gaurang and a couple of his frends were joining us... Then I had to refuse my office people who were giving me a 3000 bucks ticket for free (read Girish - so much for the love i have for u)...
I left office and missed a colleague who was going to go to the same place and left at the same time in his car (i used public transport to get there) - Strike 1 I say...

I went to Churchgate and the comedy of errors began... I was supposed to get down at Marine Lines but got a fast so got down at Churchgate (CG)... Gaurang gave me directions and asked me to walk towards Marine Lines (ML)... Now, I figured if I have to anyway walk to ML station - why not take a train to ML. Took and I came there, only to realise both of them came to Churchgate to meet me :( At ML, I waited for a train and got down at CG and again missed Girish (who was on the west side and I was on the east)... Sadly due to the huge numbers present there - mobile networks were jammed which further added to confusion... Finally I met both of them only at 7:15 (40 minutes late from what I had expected) - Strike 2..

Then we went to the Tendulkar North stand for which we had tickets for and as expected we dint get seats. We were standing for an entire match in an extremly crowded stadium and were suffocated by Mumbai heat... Strike 3

Finally the Godforsaken match started... I wondered why did I pay for this... I was standing all the time (thanks to the management which gives out 1000 tickets in a stadium which can seat 500) and we couldnt even see the players clearly... The people around me were like arre wah - some XYZ is standing at deep mid off (excuse me!) and Sachin is in the first slip etc... I also wondered how exactly did these guys see the ball? As for me, I could see the ball in bowlers hand - then him throwing it - then it was a blur till it either went for a 4 or into the fielders hands...
So, why was I there?? I couldnt see the ball, I couldnt differentiate between players (of course 2 teams had different jerseys so inter team differentiation was easy :)..) and I am not crazy about cricket... All the time I glared at Girish for making me do this... To add to my woes - the audience wanted to do a stupid Mexican wave thing - so the idiots sitting in front of me periodically got up to throw their hands in the air to continue the wave... I AM an enthu pot - so the first time when it happened - I was quite kicked and did my bit for the wave but these people continued it for what 5 rounds - dont you think thats too much? I wonder if they saw the entire over that happened during that time (psst - arent people supposed to watch the match when they are in the stadium).

So, this is for the audience bit... The match itself was quite insipid. Now, I am no ardent fan of cricket but little that I know a match esp. a 20-20 match is exciting when there are a lot of sixes, a lot of runs and a nail biting finish (something like 1 over 15 runs etc.). There were new records created here and not the most nice ones... We had:
  • The Lowest score in IPL (67 all out)
  • The Slowest 50 in IPL
  • The fastest ever win in IPL (in 5.3 overs - which was good because I had to stand for less time)
  • The highest number of catches - The idol worship that Sachin enjoys was something that dawned upon me when I saw this match. Those catches were the easiest catches anyone can take but Sachin was praised immensely for this - which is strange coz they werent any challenges (which merits this praise btw). This done - when he came on the field to bat - the crowd went mad... The gave a standing ovation to him EVEN if he hadnt hit a single ball. (I do not doubt the fact that he WAS a great player but now with his form, I think he needs to prove himself (like all players have to and like Ganguly still needs to) before he gets so much credit for nothing).. Now comes the icing on the cake - this "GREAT" batsman got out on a DUCK... Brilliant bowling by Shoib Akhtar... So, first when Shoib does come to field at the boundary - he gets brickbats... some words uttered cant be even mention on this forum... Second, everyone goes Sachin dint play now coz he doesnt need to... He is giving a chance to others to win the match coz its such an easy target.. WHAT the f#$^$%@? How can ANYONE be so blindly worshipped? Jayasurya who is probably older than Sachin performed brilliantly, Pollock who is of the same era as him bowled magnificiently and yet people choose to talk about those idotic catches that this "AWESOME player who got out on a DUCK" took.. Disgusting that a team is symbolised by this one person - its a sad state of affairs!!
  • Highest number of sixes by a batsman (thanks to the 2 measly sixes that Jayasurya hit which gave him this title)

So, thats about it... At the end of the match, I was tired, sweaty, disgusted and extremely bored.. The only entertainment of the day was being with these 2 idiots - Girish and Gaurang :) and those 30 minutes we spent talking at Marine Drive... Ya of course - the cheer leaders from Calcutta could be also included as the high points of the evening (btw - Mumbai cheerleaders sucked and so does the song mumbai has as its IPL anthem). Thus ended my day - had to wait for 20 minutes at Churchgate to get a train and I finally reached home completely exhausted at 12:30...

Came home and I decided that NEVER will I go to watch a cricket match at the stadium again!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Local Trains – They predict the PULSE of Mumbai!!!

Out of sheer boredom and reluctance to read newspaper (which btw – is an occupational hazard for me) – I am writing this blog as the only form of entertainment I can have at work. I am done with my part and am waiting for the highly coveted BBG access. Oh btw – for non I-bank mortals – BBG is Bloomberg – a sort of database with current market details etc). So, what should a person do – when there is no mail access – talking on phone for extended period of time in office is considered to be unprofessional and when you are bored.

I decided to write a blog. I know – painful as it may be for people who read it – but good thing about blogs – U ALWAYS have an option of NOT READING. J so, what should I write on? My past few blogs have been abysmally depressing – so I figured why not a cheerful one. But while indulging in this monologue (I often do that) I realized it’s difficult to write a cheerful blog when you are sooooo bored. Therefore, a thoughtful one instead – raise a few questions – give gyaan etc. I mean isn’t that the easiest thing to do on planet earth and something that EVERYONE likes doing – GIVE GYAAAN!!! So here are my 2 cents of Sharmili wisdom (read at your own risk – people knowing me know that wisdom and Sharmili is something similar to the story of a sword in a monkeys hand J…)

These days I travel a lot by local trains in Mumbai. When I was young – a loooong time ago that is – I used to travel everyday by local trains from my house to college, classes, parties etc. For me – some of my best friendships have been formed while traveling on trains. I used to have these random bets saying I would go and talk to this complete stranger for say 10 minutes or say till next station etc. and it used to be fun. One of the outcomes of this bet fetched me a friendship band on friendship day you know J In some cases, people hated me during these journeys (read shruti), some simply adored me (read the girl who gave me a friendship band – I am old u know – don’t remember her name), some got to know me (read sudha) and some became friends for life (read Priya). So, the moo point of this is trains were synonymous with friendships and fun J

Now as I leave the train of the yore and come to the present – a worldwide phenomenon (world here restricted to people using local trains) is listening to music or reading a newspaper while you are on a train. There would hardly be a person without those earphones and glares (typically used as a hair band) or the infamous TOI/pink paper in their hands (me try very hard to be in the latter category but somehow reading newspaper is not too exciting – like my bets earlier were)… Now, the compartments are QUIET!!! The only sound made is by local trains passing alongside. It’s strange! When I was a teenager (would like to bring to notice – that this was indeed a long time ago) – I used to get yelled at for being loud or boisterous and disturbing the peace of the compartment with my gang – but now I die to hear some friends just randomly gossiping about college or just talking about how life sucks (btw – that still remains my favorite timepass J… just need an audience and I am at my best)

So it got me thinking. Recently I have had the feeling that Mumbai is changing – from a very friendly cosmopolitan city it is moving to a more individualistic, space loving city. I am of course too immature to even state this with confidence or dole out the implications/causes for the same. But it’s a little disconcerting. And this is not restricted to local trains only. Kids these days are rarely seen playing. They would go to summer camps (a new phenomenon that has struck Mumbai) or have sony play stations, go to malls, spend time at McDs or CCD (its almost impossible to get a place during summers or weekend at these joints) or watch movies at adlabs. Of course an outcome of greater spending power but is it a better way of spending time?

And of course this environment gets to you – so there are times when I would prefer my parents giving me space (a concept which EVEN my 5 year old niece demands) or listening to music/watching something on my laptop instead of chatting up with my friends/relatives.

Somewhere I have too become individualistic. I feel sometimes that I too would probably react the same way to kids making halla now as those aunties reacted when I was a kid. But some wise man once said – ALL for the BEST!!! So who am I to question that now!!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A test or A punishment?

Everytime I cry a little
Eveyrtime I die a little
Everytime I explain answers to myself a little
But yet next time, the event repeats itself a little
Everytime I do things wrong a little
Everytime I screw things up a little
Everytime I vow to do things right a little
Yet everytime I lose more than the previous time a little
Everytime I pray to God a little
To end this suffering in my life a little
Evertime I ask him for some mercy a little
Everytime I ask him one final shot to settle
But everytime he give me some hope a little
Only to end up again hurting my loved ones a lot
What did I do to deserve this
When will this suffering end
When will I feel good and chirpy again?
When a change for me will God send?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Journey from Misfortune to Windfall

While I just lamented about how I feel helpless and puny, less than 24 hours ago; what I am writing now is exactly its opposite feeling I felt today!! Somewhere I take this as an incident which substantiates the fact that life follows a Sinusoid - you have days of crests (high points in your life when everything works well) which would be followed by days of troughs (low points when you would feel you should not exist) but be rest assured coz crests ARE going to emerge next... So, when I had doubts about if I am a person at a right place, at a right time yesterday - they just were resolved today!!!
After a lot of deliberation, I decided to not go to work (because I had to work a little on my report) and instead go to the Barcap versus L & T cricket match at the Oval :) (sounds so psued na...) Even though late - I was there to cheer for my team.
So, at the match (T20 match) we set an impressive and formidable target of 185 for L & T... Now, with 3 wickets down the audience (ME) was getting restive.. So, I got talking to Sushir (one of my colleagues) and this friendly talk soon became a finance lesson first and then got converted to gambling (which everyone in finance does - like Sushir put it - if you are risk averse - you are in a wrong profession :)...) So, after explaining the bet to me (He had to go short @ 50 rupees per minute if the time taken for match to wrap up is <> 45 min... After a lot of cheating (which he chose to call it as I kept changing clocks - the one running fastest was the one I wanted to take) and miscalculations (stupid me - on settling on one clock I stupidly calculated 10 + 45 = 50 (got reminded of CAT days) :(....which lost me 250 bucks btw...), the match last over finally was being played on the ground...
Now, ideally an over takes around 3 minutes to complete... Given the fact that there were 4 minutes less for me to break even - I was praying that something happens and the time gets extended... And guess what... Ball 1 bowled - Wide... Ball 2 bowled - Wide... (Sushir had torn his hair apart...) Ball 3 bowled - hit for a 4... (now we were comfortably winning - so the 4 was not so disturbing from the company win POV... but that was good for me coz the ball went faaaaar away and took a few more seconds to retrieve) Ball 4 bowled - dot ball... Ball 5 bowled - hit for a 4 which unluckily landed where the audience was sitting... Sushir was fast enough to run give the ball back to get the game started... Ball 6 - awesome ball - wicket taken... (this is again good for me... batsman walking out - batsman walking in takes time....) The time count is not told on purpose coz the end result would be sweeter to hear then... Ball 7 - dot ball... Finally the last ball of the innings - I was praying for one more extra but then I thought lalach buri bala hai :D... It was a dot ball and the game was finally over... Net result - Barcap won the game by more than 82 runs.... As for me, I won 200 rupees (since the 5th minute was not complete - I did not get a 50 for that...) So, had I calculated properly - silly that I am - I would have won 950 bucks :( but clearly destiny had another lesson in mind (other than reverberating the fact that I make silly mistakes) "lalach buri bala hai..."
Of course I could not accept the money - so I refused to take it... Then all the others were like he would have taken it had you lost and its difficult to get money outta him so you might as well take it... Get a vada-paav for office people if you dont want the money for yourself :))))
End of the day - I had 200 bucks in my hand (if I do get vada - paav - I will end up spending much more) , I met one of my friends for lunch and had an awesome time, came home and spent time with my family and had a great time here too :))))))))
Why cant days always remain at the crests??? Are troughs really necessary????

Friday, May 02, 2008

From Indifference to Ignorance to Apathy - Salaam Mumbai!

Before you read any further one fact about me - I am very proud to be born and brought up in Mumbai... Like my orkut profile says - I am a Mumbaikar to the core... But there are many things I do not understand about this city... You wonder and you wonder but you dont put a thot to something; till you experience something that forces you to give your mindshare to this issue/event... So, here goes - the cliched melting pot called Mumbai - saw the city come to the rescue when bomb blasts hit the trains - and also saw the Jayabala Asher incident where no one helped and the J W Marriot incident where everyone kept quiet... And while I praised and ridiculed the city when these incidents did happen - tea time conversation - thats all they were...

But then the other day I came in the 8:41 Virar fast from Dadar and I was forced to think... On a different tangent - Mumbai mein everyone runs... U see me running everyday at 7:39 in 3 inch heels to take the 7:40, I see an old lady running to get the bus and I see a bus driver slamming the accelerator to make it through the signal as it turns red... So, yes - it is a fast city... And now this very haste also results in some unwanted acts by Mumbaikars... So, back to my story - 8:41 at Dadar which is 8:55 at Andheri... Day would have been a routine mumdane day if 2 men wouldnt have entered this WOMENS first class...

For all those who do not know the legendary Virar - even if its 1 am in the morning that train is crowded... So, yes this train was crowded and here is the apathy that I witnessed - only one lady was opposing it - fighting with them... asking them to get down... Finally, when they dint pay heed to her - I said something... another girl started... They said - "hum log staff hai - we can come here coz we couldnt get in the gents first class..." I was so irritated... They had the gall to say this... Imagine what nerves they had when they stepped onto this compartment... They would ve thot "Chalta hai... Ladies hain - kya karengi..." And which to some extent is true na - for starters - how many women spoke?? Next - they did travel to their detination in first class... Third - nothing we did served to get the right thing done...

The point of the blog to ask all you people - what are your limits? how much of beauracracy can u take? What all things can you tolerate? I tried to do my bit - try and be a responsible citizen but in the end - beauracratic procedure won, my tolerance gave up... Makes me feel terrible inside - then should I assume that those ladies who dint leave their seats (afraid to be standing till their destination later) are dead inside? would they have kept quiet if it were their daughters instead of me and that girl? and when will i keep doing something and then finally end up dead inside... and if this continues - will this city ever see someone doing something just for the welfare of others? Pareto principle - making yourself better off without making society worse off - can this happen ever in Mumbai again? I am a pessimist and the sad state of affairs only fuels this further so what I would do instead is tell you how this story ended and then as usual I will end this on questions coz - i for one do not have answers to those... may be someone reads and helps me figure things out for me... so this is what I did -

I asked for his IDs - he flashed them but for a time where no details could be taken... only for a fact that his first name was Jayaprakash and that it was indeed a Government ID... we tried to take snaps so that we show it to the station master at Borivli and they leaned outside showing us their backs... I called the 24 hours railway helpline - to call security at Borivli Station (the next station where train was supposed to tkae a halt)... They assured me that someone will be there and when the station came no one was there... Those guys got down and stared straight into my face and smirked at me... I felt puny.. Helpless... The Virar train started and all those ladies went back to their soap discussions and other conversations like nothing ever happened... There at the station were these 2 girls who started the fight for everyone feeling shitty about themselves... Still not giving up - we went to 4 office - station master, railway security, station manager and finally the deputy... no one did anything... kept passing on the buck... finally on insisting - that they check if these guys were police atleast (off duty may be) he said police station jaake aap check karo... I did get the details but at that point is where my patience wore off... after a 12 hour day at office, I really dint want to then get hassled by a policeman... I asked the girl if she needed the details coz I knew I would not pursue it further and she took them from me...

I dunno if she will do anything about it, but if she does -kudos to her spirit... as for me - I am currently wallowing in self pity... :( But tomorrow again - I will be running at 7:39 to take the same 7:40 train...
The main question then remains: Am I still really PROUD to be a MUMBAIKAR?
Beats me!!!