Monday, January 26, 2009

Kabhi Khud Pe Hansa Main... Aur Kabhi Khud Pe Roya

Notice the number of times your parents / grand-parents have told you that the Television is an 'idiot box'. I've always wondered whether it is correct to brand something so universally when it can be a source of entertainment and knowledge. But I realized how much wisdom our ancestors held when they uttered these two words, when I switched on IndiaTV and saw the following report :

Oh why not? Aliens have travelled billions of light years to drink delicious cow's milk on their long journey back!

And who can forget 'The Great Khali' - his loss became the breaking news in this (in)famous news channel. Incidently, a train got derailed that day, taking its toll of human lives and public property, and (not) surprisingly, IndiaTV chose the loss of great Khali to be their "breaking news"!

There are Bush Bloopers and then there is IndiaTV. One is harmless and humorous; the other spreads panic and fear psychosis. It thrives on the darker sides of people - fear, superstition, magic and supernatural. Being a Hindi news channel, the reach is wider as compared to other news channels. And when a "TV Channel" provides such information, people tend to believe. With a number of channels vying for TRP, there is cut-throat competition and a lot of them have gone the tabloid way. Their coverage and reportage of various news events tends to be often sensational and irresponsible.

In fact, a glance at their career section gives the following : INDIA TV, fastest growing news channel is looking for people who believe in justice and the power of truth. Who believe that every single evil existing in our society must be exposed and every single truth revealed. People who believe that there are many more battles to be fought, within our own society. Join India TV in its mission.

Bah!!! And they believe that they are 'exposing' aliens and revealing truths about ghosts on trees, tormented souls in wells and possessed witches in villages.

And if IndiaTV takes the cake for toxic reporting, Star News (Hindi) takes the cake for frivolous reporting. Dig this...

This type of journalism is called Yellow Journalism - journalism that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers.

In fact if these (and other) Hindi news channels are to be crucified, the English ones need not be crowned either.

Remember AbhiAsh wedding... every single news channel made this a HUGE affair - the BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING, if I may call it... I'm sure it is imperitive that every citizen knows what breed of horse did Abhi ride, what was the colour of Ash's mehendi, what kind of clothes they were wearing...

And of course, the Mumbai - Taj terror attacks. Every angle, every nook and cranny was covered by media persons - perching precariously on the roof-tops of adjacent buildings, reporting 'Live' the entry of our armed forces, the exact position of the army helicopters, the number of commandoes, the number of trapped victims rescued, which exits were unmanned, which vehicles were being used to take people to safety - the horror of it all was magnified manifold. Is it too far-fetched to think that the terrorists will use the media - television, internet - to glean information on the activities of the armed forces? Insensitive questioning by the likes of Barkha Dutt to the relatives and friends of trapped victims has come under intense criticism from all sections of society.

Our news media has become derelict in its obligation to the society to serve as a platform to voice citizen concerns and shape public opinion, and has lost its moral authority as a watchdog of the administration and establishment.

So what is the way out? The ideal solution would be regulation and censorship by the government / responsible body but this puts a serious curb on freedom of expression and could lead to interferences which are undesirable. The best way out then is self-regulation and self-censorship - a need for a complete restraint in the mindless chase of sensationalism and importance and focus on good journalism. It is, after all, one of the last and most influential and far-raching bastions of our democracy.

Yaaron dosti badi hi haseen hai...

With the extended weekend and hubby down with cold (yeah, he can catch a cold in the hottest of weathers), I took up the daunting task of cleaning the bookshelves. We both are ardent readers and consume atleast two books a week each, in addition to the magazines, newspapers, e-papers and blogs. But I digress... So, as I was cleaning, I came across a bunch of albums - my school days' photographs. All thoughts of cleaning flew from my mind as I opened them to relive and cherish the priceless childhood memories...

I loved to play 'House-House' with my elaborate kitchen-set. Even while my bro was very young, I used to make him the Man of the house, give him an empty brief-case and send him to office while I took the skins of peeled veggies from my mom and would cook meals, hang clothes to dry on ropes tied between windows.

I had (and still have) this childhood friend of mine (let's call him H). Now, H was in my school and while returning home, we would hand our school-bags to our mothers and run off ahead, climb the staircases of other buildings and hide till we would see our mothers pass from below. Then we would race ahead and surprise our mums by hugging them.

We played in mud but didn’t catch any germs; played in the pool but didn't catch a cold... It used to be a regular feature for both H and me to try and beat each other in swimming.

H used to have these birthday parties with the most awesome 'Aam-Raas' (Mango pulp / juice) I'd ever eaten. His birthday would also have the most craziest of punishments for 'Passing - the - Parcel' - climb a tree, drink 10 glasses of water, jump over the gate etc.

In school, the last period of the day used to feel like the longest. We used to eagerly wait for bell to ring & to run off to the play-ground / auditorium to play. PT (Physical Training) periods used to become TP (Time-Pass) for all of us.

We used to write in the best of our hand writing only to get a star in the class work copy.

I used to play a lot of DOS games. PC-MAN, BRICKS were my favourites.

I have played dozens of pranks. We were a group called Chunky-Monkey' group - a gang of sorts and we used to have immense fun.

It was a matter of pride to become the monitor of the class. And I was the undisputed monitor from Standards three to ten since I was one of the most talkative student around.

We used to be the happiest when teacher wrote those four words in our diaries -Tomorrow is a holiday. It was the best purpose of the school diary.

There are lots of memories where these came from... Vibrant, energetic, innocent and pure fun - school days were some of the best days of my life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

24 Carat Necklace...

Do you remember Slam Books - the ones which have these standard questions (What is your favourite colour / movie / food...) which we used to pass to friends in school / college to capture details and memories of our life - n - times. I was going through the book and came to the place where, in the last page, I had filled it out for myself. And the answer to the question - What is the craziest thing you have ever done? - brought a broad smile to my face, as I remembered the incident...

It was my friend's birthday and we were this big gang of guys - n - gals who decided to gift her something she would remember for a long time... in short we decided to play a prank on her and I was the master-mind!

She was very fond of jewelry and had a large collection of chunk as well as junk pieces which she would team up with her outfits. So, being the faithful, sensitive and observant friends that we were, we decided to gift her - yes, you guessed it right - jewelry and that too a 24-carat necklace! Her excitement knew no bounds.

The D-Day dawned bright and clear. Armed with a gift-wrapped box, we entered her Birthday Party. Balloons, streamers, a large number of common and uncommon friends and relatives greeted our gang. In fact, she had been so excited by our proposition of gifting her a 24 carat necklace, she had told it to all her guests. So when we entered, all eyes automatically drifted to the gift-wrapped box in my hand.

After the cake-cutting ceremony (and a large piece in my mouth), we decided the momentous time had come when we'd gift her, her birthday present. With guests gathering around, all of us together, chorused a BIGGG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her and handed it over to her. The box was bigger than a normal jewelry box but our innocent friend herself gave an explanation for it - 'Box ke andar box, uske andar box, usmein mera necklace hai na?' (The gift is within a box which is inside another box, isn't it?). We suppressed a giggle.

She removed the wrapping and pulled out a string of... 24 bright orange, garden-fresh CARROTS!!! We howled and doubled up with laughter, seeing the incredulous look on her face. She too took it in a sporty spirit and actually wore the Carrot Necklace with us in a group photograph. Of course, we were not heartless and after all the shrieks, giggles and snorts of laughter had died down, we gave her her real gift - a necklace with a stone-studded carrot as pendant - to remind her of her 24-carrot necklace!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Buzurgon ne kahan hai ki...

I got a chance to spend a considerable amount of time with my grand-uncle (my grand-father's brother) in the last week - his illness being the reason that I was off blogging for the past 7 odd days. In-depth discussions and debates, logical arguments and counter-arguments on a variety of topics have been the characteristic of this relationship. One such topic of discussion was the generation gap and what are the differences that prevail between his generation and mine and hence, are we truly better off than our fore-fathers... We discussed this topic thoroughly, touching on science & technology, religion, politics, economic and social changes and a host of other subjects but what stayed with me was the New-Indian-Middle-Class-Nuclear-Family that has emerged in our generation. So what am I talking about? Let me elaborate...

A lot of my friends are getting married in 2009 and hence, marriage is a common and favourite topic among us. And today, all the Dulhes want their Dulhaniyas to be qualified and employed. The couple would want a dual-income set-up to be financially strong and independent. After marriage, they want to spend atleast a few years away from their immediate families, giving time to each other to understand and adjust to each others' comforts and concerns, valuing their freedom and independence. The joint-family system has given way to the nuclear system where the definition of a family is limited to Hubby, wifey and kiddi(es). They are in control of their lives, demanding that parents relinquish their 'interferences' and give them space. They lead a fast-paced life-style, battling traffic, board-meetings, presentations and managing responsibilities at home. In my home, I may do my laundry after midnight, may give marathon amount of clothes for ironing every two weeks, sleep late, buy groceries and provisions every weekend, do epic amounts of cooking for the week etc. To my parents and grand-parents, it looks to be an undisciplined, chaotic life. But, to me and loads of other married, working women and men, it is a convenient way of life since it is the only time we have. Men no longer can say that they will not contribute to the house-work. I think the relationship is much more equitably balanced, with both the partners sharing the load. Couples no longer want kids within a year of marriage. The Dual-Income-No-Kids is increasingly becoming accepted. Time is very precious and so weekends are strictly reserved for family and couples dislike intrusions by neighbours, bosses and even relatives and friends.

The hand-phone, SMSes, e-mails have increasingly become a part of the couple's daily life. I have my hand-phone in the power-on mode 24*7. It is a compulsive need to be connected all the time. Same goes for e-mails. I have friends who refresh their inboxes every 3-4 minutes to check for new mails. Scraps, twitters, commenting on blogs are the norm today for keeping in touch. Orkut, Facebook, chat rooms and other social networking sites have seen record memberships due to this new surge of online netizens. We no longer read news-papers. E-paper, news sites, RSS feeds, Google Reader keep us more updated than never before. We buy flight / train / bus / movie tickets online, send flowers and e-cards on special occasions through the Internet, read digitized books and do video-conferencing as if we were born with these skills. We are way more comfortable with living with loans and credit than our previous generations.

English has become the universal language. What with a rise in inter-state marriages and it being a common work-place language, couples transcend linguistic barriers to speak the Queen's language at home as well. Popularity of yoga, power-yoga, meditation, Art of Living are on an all-time rise, being directly proportional to increase in stress in our lives. We love to immerse ourselves in reality shows - Bigg Boss, Indian Idol, Nach Baliye - where we feel a sense of God-like power and control by voting, deciding the fate of the contestants.

The vegetable markets have given way to retail stores and super / hyper marts where all provisions are available under one roof. Branding matters a lot to us - we are more quality conscious. Instant foods, Ready-made Masalas, 'Just-add-water-and-serve', 'Heat-and-serve' are our savers when we have sudden guests / reach home too late to cook / traveling and there is no-one to cook / don't know how to cook :) All the secret tips and yummy recipes which my mother had inherited from her mom / mom-in-law will be lost to my next generation. There is no Handing-Over-Taking-Over (HOTO) as we call it, in HR terminologies, when an employee resigns. I may be able to teach my daughter how to multi-task between her career and her home, how to pick up the veggies which can make quick dishes, which appliances are mandatory to run a home (vacuum-cleaner, dish-washer, washing machine, refrigerator etc) but I will not be able to pass on to her how to make elaborate meals which take hours of preparation; how to sew, mend, knit, embroider; how to keep a house spick and span; how to give effective child-care without the aid of a maid / play-school / crèche / day-care center... These were a given in the generation of my parents but today, cooking elaborate dishes is a relaxation and embroidery is a hobby.

There are so many subtle changes that differentiate us from our forefathers… are we really better off than they were - well, in some ways we are. Our life has become convenient, more comfortable and more connected, we are more aware, educated and have access to vast information at the click of a button but unfortunately, we do not have as much time to enjoy it, given the stress and strain of modern city life.Technology has given us ease but we have become more demanding and less satisfied. We today, not only want a television but it has to be a 39” plasma HDD TV with 450 stations, a DVD Drive with Blue-tooth connectivity and split screen technology. I think we have got used to a fast life where we may have physical comforts but deteriorating mental peace and perennially short of time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome 2009!!!

Just in time... before Jan'09 got over...

If the year 2008 was one which you started reasonably optimistic....

And you finished it somehow worn out....

You felt alone in the world

With a couple of extra wrinkles

And some kilos too much...

If you forgot more than one important obligation during the year...

Not to speak about the disagreements with your boss....

And more than one objective remained beyond reach

If that year your morale was sometimes low....

Here comes a new year !

To celebrate as it must be....

With tenderness

With love

And with a lot of humour

May 2009 be the year of the big jump !

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mohammad Ali Jinnah

It is quite amazing what unique names parents give their children. And it needs to be mentioned what led me to think of this...

I am sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight to be announced when I hear this... 'This is a paging call for Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah passenger travelling on flight XYZee... Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah (MAJ), you are requested to proceed for boarding through Gate Number 2 on the ground floor immediately!' And as I glanced around, I saw, like me, tens of pairs of eyes looking expectantly at Gate 2, waiting to catch a glimpse of the unfortunate MAJ. Among other passengers were a group of college guys who were seated beside me. Within seconds of the announcement, there were bets on how MAJ looked.

... "Hatta Khatta hona chahiye... Naam jaisa" (Should be well-built, just like his name);

... "Height toh goga hi" (Must be tall);

... "Hope he is tall, dark, handsome (TDH)", one of the girls gushed..

"Yaar, pata kaise chalega kaun hai MAJ?" (How will we know who is MAJ?).

Promptly, one of the guys jumped up and walked towards Gate 2. In my mind, Fatty, the master of disguises and secret seekers of Enid Blyton came to my mind. Within minutes, a smart, suited person approached the Gate. All our eyes, the group and mine, flew towards our secret service agent (SSA) who very subtly leaned towards the counter pretending to ask about the flight schedule, to catch the name on the ticket. He then turned towards us and gave a thumbs down. The girl who had gushed about the TDH bit, almost stifled a sob.

By then, our excitement was high. Any passenger movement towards the Gate immediately drew our eyes towards our SSA. And finally our patience paid off. With a repeat of the announcement still on, we saw a small man, no taller than 5 feet, dressed in blue jeans and a bright orange shirt rushing towards the gate. We were so sure that, after our big speculations on the TDH bit, there was no way he even came close to our mental picture and so some didn't even bother to look at our SSA. A small gasp from the girl made us look up. With a face full of incredulity and humour, SSA was walking towards us with a thumbs-up and a grin.

Made me think of all the times I have pictured and expected things to be in a certain way and got so involved with the mental picture that I would start believing it to be true and being bitterly disappointed in the end when things turn out very different, giving little thought that things were always the way they were and it was I who conjured it up differently in my head.

Anyway, had a good laugh on this, both at the situation and myself. Poor MAJ, he must be the source of disappointment to lots of passengers in many an airports!

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Cow in the Ditch!!!

This was a story narrated by the Country Business Manager of my Company. I liked it for its ability to set the organizations thinking on its priorities, decision-making skills and shared responsibilities.

The story revolves around a big ranch with two big shot cowboys and their respective teams. The ranch owner, a rather burly man with great strength and control, runs the ranch. Strength and resilience are the key features of the two cowboys who have great management skills.

One day, an incident that challenges their leadership abilities takes place in the ranch.

The ranch is large and has many ditches, ravines etc. A cow falls into the ditch and is severely hurt causing a commotion among the 2 teams.

The fallen cow - a "good" cow, needs to be saved at all costs.

Few options are played out to solve the problem of the "fallen cow":

A. The 2 teams come together, one cowboy takes the lead, shoots the other cowboy and the cow and gives the message to the ranch owner - "Shot the cowboy who had caused trouble to the cow. Incidentally, cow also died."

B. The two cowboys, given that they are "tech" savvy decide to have an intellectual discussion over emails. Multiple emails are sent back and forth and additional folks (sheriff, bar owner, milkman, baker, etc.) are added to the email/intellectual discussions. Waiting for help, the cow dies.

C. One cowboy comes to rescue with his team, tries desperately to pull the cow out using all means while the other cowboy merely critiques on the process, ability, and the intent of the first cowboy....pontificating from the sidelines.

D. Both cowboys and their teams come together, quickly draw out a game plan, throw in the rope and save the cow. Also, build a fence around the ditch to protect the other cows from falling....thus showcasing value of speed & teamwork & foresight.

E. All the focus is on the fallen cow....while the other good cows aren't attended to and they start falling ill and dying.

F. Cow gets saved with great effort and some band aid is put on the rescued cow without checking whether cow needed additional attention like fracture, medication etc. So, cow is not fully recovered, due to patchy rescue/repair done & falls into ditch again.

As you ponder over these scenarios and feel that the answer is clear, just step back and think which person best represents you, your ranch, and the process? What would your response be, if you were the ranch owner and could decide on the course of action?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dil Ki Aawaaz...

Have you seen the Tata Indicom AD - Suno Dil Ki Aawaaz

Ye narrow-minded galiyaan kahin toh jaake khulengi...
(These narrow-minded lanes should open-up somewhere)

Suna hai khwabon ko room mein baand rakhne se par nikal jate hain...
(I have heard that if you lock up your dreams in a room, the wings fall off)

khwahishoon ko udne ke liye thodi aur practice karni padegi...

(Maybe, I need a little more practice, to let my dreams soar)

Raahoon mein khade milestones sirf dooriyaan batate hain...
(Milestones on the road show only the distances)

Ziddi aarmano ki koi speed limit nahin hoti...
(There is no speed limit of stubborn resolutions)

Chusth sarkon ko bhi kadmon ke wake-up call ki zaroorat hoti hai
(There are times when even healthy, spirited roads need wake-up calls)

Mein apne dil ki aawaaz ko sunta hoon kyunki Dil ki aawaaz sunnewalon ko koi ansuna nahin kar sakta.
(I always listen to my heart 'coz no one can ignore those who follow their hearts!)

This Dil-Ki-Aawaaz has, at times, intrigued me. And there were moments when an overdose of Karan Johar's 'K' movies with all the dils and their aawaazes had got me deaf and disoriented. But, if I sit down in a quiet corner and think of all those Dil-Ki-Aawaaz moments in my life, there is one common factor in them... the Silence!

Let me elaborate on this :
  • The time I won the elocution competition in all three languages in school - the hat-trick was so unexpected that I was numb with surprise and ecstasy.
  • The very first time I was to stay away from my parents, since my dad got transferred and I had already taken admission in my college and did not want to leave it. I can remember vividly, the cold, clammy fingers around my heart, as I bid good-bye to my parents, their car pulling out of the drive-way... my parents were proud of the fact that I was taking my first bold steps towards independence and self-reliance and yet was worried about how things will be. I, who had very bravely (and stubbornly) insisted that I wanted to continue in my new college and hence was staying back, for a weak moment, wanted to turn back time and wish them back, their comfort and security. But there was only silence...
  • The last day of my graduation is something which I remember very vividly. We are a group of eight girls (with the corny name HASH (#) - Hum Aaath Saath Hain (We Eight are Together) - which I had come up with on the lines of Hum Saath Saath Hain (We All Are Together)- the movie and in a weak moment of uncontrollable laughter when I proposed this, this name stuck on). Four years was a long time to spend and it had given us tonnes of happy memories. That evening, after farewell, when we just didn't want to let go of our memories and the campus and us parting, the Mumbai local trains started and my group waving a Bye from the door and my heart beating fast...
  • The moment when I was felicitated with the University topper award in the hands of Hon. Prime Minister - Manmohan Singh. I had to pinch myself to believe it was happening... and yet, in spite of so much cheering and clapping, I just heard my heartbeats and a silent prayer for bringing the day in my life.
  • The times I saw / spoke to my secret crush and he smiled back at me... No words exchanged... just blushes and silences and smiles...
  • The day my hubby (then my bf) proposed to me on the beach and I was filled with mixed emotions - joy, thrill, happiness, Is-this-really-happening, heart beating real fast...
Its difficult to put in words, the power of silence.

...the silence when a soldier brings news to the wife of a martyr that her husband is no more
... the silence when the mother holds her baby in her arms for the first time
... the silence when you encounter your biggest fear for the first time
... the silence of a large group of people, protesting in a candle-light march
... the silence in a church when all are in deep prayer

Grief, Jubilation, Surprise, Fear, Anger, Hope - every emotion can be communicated in silence.

Silences are moments when we are listening to our inner voice, our hearts and our conscience. There are so many of these special, cherished moments... but in my life, for each of these special times, there has been a moment of stillness, numbness, silence... like Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb... and in those moments, I have heard my heart speak, in beats, I have heard my soul stir, brimming with emotions... and I have felt, in those few minutes / seconds my true core self and who I really am.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Men, Mind and Memory...

For those of us who have seen the movie Memento, which was the inspiration for Aamir Khan's Ghajini will agree that it is not a direct ^C^V (Cut-Copy-Paste). But this post is not another movie review. After the movie released, this cartoon, did a number of rounds in my inbox. And that is the inspiration of my post!

At the outset, I don't quite agree with this universal accusation against men... Ask a man who won the F1 championship ten years ago and pat will come the reply. Ask him about cars, bikes, sports or tech (for the geeky kinds) and they will be more than happy to share (and at times very proudly so) all that has ever happened in the past, is happening in the present and very confidently will happen in the future on these areas. My point being, men don't forget - they just pay attention and absorb only what interests them and conveniently ignore the rest. It's like what my hubby, with an innocent look on his face, often tells me when I, very exasperated, would be tearing my straightened, blow-dried and set hair out and telling him for the umpteenth time that he had forgotten to switch of the fan / light / anniversary / some bill payment which he had very solemnly PROMISED he was responsible to pay and a hundred other things - "Baby, why do you think I have married you... you are sooo good at these things that I can now concentrate on the more important things in life (read - the latest invention of Apple / news in Gaza / newest applications of Google / stocks / his blog / other blogs / food / sleep!!!). Argggh!!!

And then there are people like us - ask us the colour of your shirt on our first date, the perfume your mother wore on her fiftieth wedding anniversary, the last time we fought and what you had said which made me cry and what you promised me last Monday morning when you got up - we will be able to repeat it back to you verbatim, complete with expressions and emotions.

I had heard this joke some years ago and it stayed with me...

And then there was Bob who could never remember his wife's birthday. Finally, his wife could take it no more when, yet again, he forgot the special day. "Enough is enough! Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in 6 seconds AND IT BETTER BE THERE!!"

The next morning he got up early and left for work. When his wife woke up, she looked out the window and sure enough there was a box gift-wrapped in the middle of the driveway. Confused, the wife brought the box back in the house. She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale.

Bob has, since then, been missing!

Women always worry about the things that men forget;

Men always worry about the things women remember!!! :)

Monday, January 05, 2009


"Are you sure this is a good idea? Hmm... I don''t think so... Aur kuch soch na (Think of something else)."
Raj paced the length of the conference room. He was more anxious than I was.

"Arre, you're the one who comes up with such great ideas and today, when you have such a big task at hand, kaise sad ideas de raha hai (What sad ideas you are coming up with)."

He gave me a hopeless look. I burst out laughing, more at the irony of the situation than my best friend. The situation, through Raj's eyes, is very grim. I am going to propose to the love-of-my-life, Diya, and Raj is more critical of all my ideas of what gift I should give her. In fact, this very moment, he is giving me a very disapproving look, at my outburst. He just won't let me make light of the situation. Raj, being him, needs to make meticulous planning, going down to the granular details of exactly what colour ribbon should be used to wrap my gift... Oh yes, coming back to the present (pun intended)... we are still yet to finalise the GIFT! He has mercilessly shot down roses (Forever type ka kuch dena chahiye - You should gift something that lasts her forever), jewelry (Agar usse pasand nahin aaya toh! - What if she does not like it?), greeting cards (Kanjoos!!! - miser), bunnies and teddies (Arre, kuch toh original sooch! - Think of something original), chocolates (Har time khaane ki hi soochta hai! - All you can think about is food). I was about to suggest my most wonderful idea of gifting 'Myself' but, seeing Raj's fierce face, I decided to keep quiet.

Hey, I'm the protagonist here but as usual, Raj is hogging up all the limelight. What was I feeling while Raj was making the Perfect Plans? I was in my own world - in fact, I felt on Cloud Number 9. I didn't want to come down tonight, just like Bryan Adams had crooned. And why should I not be happy? Diya was a wonderful girl. She was just I had always dreamt my girl would be - simple, full of life, witty, charming and understanding. I had known her for a little over a year and she had filled all those times with laughter and sunshine. In fact, that's what I called her - my Sunshine. And as I had started spending more and more time with her, I had started feeling I understand her as well. Her silences, her sudden giggles, her sparkling eyes on seeing gol-gappa, her shrieking when a cockroach dared to approach within ten feet of her. And there were those times as well, when all she said was 'Nothing' and my repeated asking / begging / pleading would not budge her out of her silences. Those were the only times I wondered whether I actually understood her or was she an enigma as I had heard all women are, to men.

But the best thing about her was her incessant conversations. She loved to talk about every little detail of her day. I sometimes wondered whether some one's day could really be filled with so many teeny -tiny days in them. When she would ask me how my day was, all I would say was 'Fine', 'OK', 'Great' or 'Lousy' depending on what mood my boss was in. I mean, what more is there to talk about?

And then there was the time we both were at Juhu beach, hand in hand, walking through the white, frothy waves. There was a gentle breeze blowing and the sun was about to set. If you have been to Juhu, you would know the large number of crowds the beach attracts. Suddenly, her eyes lit up. She left my hand and skipped towards this old, wizened man selling balloons and blow-bubble liquid. She bought a bottle and turned towards me, her eyes bright and the smile of a kid on her lips.

"Look what I found!", she said in a loud, excited voice.

"Baby, grow up!" I didn't know whether to give an embarrassed smile or laugh indulgently. People around us stopped to look at her and some of them smiled at her.

"Why should I?" Her laugh finally made me laugh with her as bubbles drifted up, towards the sky.

This was on our first date. Over time, as I said, I have started understanding her and her innocence. But, more than understanding her, I have begun to understand myself and my feelings. I now see myself responding to situations and later thinking about them. I may not need to share my boring work life with her but I know I need to give her a patient listening when she wants to speak. I need to show as much enthusiasm in her little joys as she does. I know she understands the fact that we are different and we need to work towards our relationship. I love basketball and know she hates sports and yet she doesn't complain when I disappear for my weekend games - the only real time we can spend together. But all she needs from me then is to know that she is in my thoughts and the one SMS telling her I miss her. I don't mind doing these for her. A few years ago, I would be very surprised if I were to consider changing myself for someone else. Today, it comes naturally to me.

"So, what are you going to get her?" interjected Raj into my thoughts, "Yaar, I think I know what you should buy her." I smiled. I know Raj would say it but it didn't matter. I no longer wanted to know. This special occasion would be ours. Just Diya's and mine. I was going to propose to her. The setting would be perfect. And I was going to take a bottle of blow-bubble liquid for her.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

150 Things To Do Before You Turn Thirty

I came across this list here. Loved the list... some have intriguing things, others bizzare and then there are those which I would love to do.

The things that I have already done are in green and bold.

The things which I would love to do are in pink and bold.

Here I go!!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone (Hmm.... ;) )

08. Said “I love you” and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your CDs

57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason

84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone’s life

Almost 35% completion rate!! Not Bad... I'll add in a few of the pink ones as my new year resolutions!

My Corner Office...

I am an avid reader and in my growing years, I have read a lot of fiction. I came across the term 'Corner Office' many times - offices which have windows on two walls, as opposed to a typical office with only one window or none at all. These are typically given to the most senior executives, the term primarily refers to top management positions in the company. And I have always desired one for myself.

Well, here's my version of my corner office - literally since I have my workstation in a corner, with windows on two walls as opposed to others in my function who have just one window!!! (Fits the definition to a 'T', doesn't it? :) )

So, let me begin by talking about all that you see in the pic.

What you see on the extreme left hand side top is one of the two things I hold on to, during my trying days - the Holiday list :). When days are long, one glance at this list keeps me looking forward to a bright, lazy holiday(s).

The next thing beside it is a play ticket - my first theatre show after I moved in here. It was Evam's brand new play, Doubles, Triples & Quadruples - Nobody Stays Single! It had opened to a packed house... There were sketches, monologues, audience interaction galore... and a laughter riot. This was also where I won a lucky draw and clicked happy memories of us in theatre costumes!

Next is a list of twelve of my favourite things :

  • Shah Rukh Khan - I just love his soulful eyes and his performances. People may talk about stereo-type, chocolate-boy acting but I am one true, blue ardent SRK fan.
  • The Guitar - Always wanted to learn this musical instrument... I love music and guitar brings songs alive for me - it's my picture of a guy serenading his love while strumming on his guitar and singing romantic numbers!
  • Thoughts - I am a day-dreamer at times and I have always been told to not think too much!
  • Wild flowers - I love their colours, shades and hues... I love their spread on lush green fields, running wild and free.
  • Being wild and free...
  • Steaming cups of coffee...
  • Freshly powdered babies!
  • Moonlight on a calm sea
  • Taking flight...
  • Asymmetrical designs
  • White, frothy waves crashing on rocks - the spray and sound
  • Prayer
I had come across a mail forward on 'The Woman In Your Life'. I had found it powerful and thought-provoking. It is pinned up on my desk and is reproduced below :

The Woman In Your Life

Here is a girl, who is as much educated and who is earning almost as much as you do;

One who has dreams, aspirations just as you have because she is as human as you are;

One, who has never entered the kitchen in her life just like you or your sister haven't, as she was busy in studies and competing in a system that gives no special concession to girls for their culinary achievements;

One, who has lived and loved her parents & brothers & sisters, almost as much as you do for 20-25 years of her life;

One, who has bravely agreed to leave behind all that, her home, people who love her, to adopt your home, your family, your ways and even your family name

One, who is somehow expected to be a master-chef from day #1, while you sleep oblivious to her predicament in her new circumstances, environment and that kitchen

One, who is expected to make tea, first thing in the morning and cook food at the end of day, even if she is as tired as you are, maybe more, and yet never ever expected to complain; to be a servant, a cook, a mother, a wife, even if she doesn't want to; and is learning just like you are as to what you want from her; is clumsy and sloppy at times and knows you won't like it if she is too demanding, or if she learns faster than you;

One, who has her own set of friends, and that includes boys and even men at her workplace too, those who she knows from school days and yet is willing to put all that on the back-burners to avoid your irrational jealousy, unnecessary competition and your inherent insecurities;

Yes, she can drink and dance just as well as you can, but won't, simply because you won't like it, even though you say otherwise;

One, who can be late from work when deadlines, just like yours, are to be met;

One, who is doing her level best and wants to make this most important relationship in her entire life a grand success, if you just help her some and trust her;

One, who just wants one thing from you, as you are the only one she knows in your entire house - your un-stinted support, your sensitivities and most importantly - your understanding, or love, if you may call it.

My cutie cuddly teddy was a gift from my best friend whose snap I keep with me always... more than the teddy itself, I cherish the memories it brings to me when I look at it. The Friends Forever was captured on the day I met her last, just as I was leaving Mumbai.

The most frequently used thing on my desk is the telephone and my hand-phone. There are times when they just keep ringing incessantly, demanding attention.

Next are my list of responsibilities in my work and a long list of phone-a-friend numbers!

Garfield completely symbolizes me when I am at home, chilled out and lazy... and my stress-busters come of use more than once in a day - whether to play catch in office or to bounce it off the wall when I am trying to get some ideas or solve problems.

My daily dose of inspiration comes from my universal calendar - it doesn't have a year so it doesn't become redundant as one year after the other speeds by. Saasta aur tikau!!!

And finally, when I am the most strung and have only one nerve left and still people keep stepping on it, I read Rudyard Kipling's 'IF'. It was sent to me by a very dear friend of mine, on my first day at my first job. We both had joined the company together. He was in the Navy fbefore this job on a short stint and when days were tough, he had found sanity in these words.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

In fact, if I compare my workstation of my earlier company to the current one, this poem is one thing I have carried on from there and I hope it continues to give me my peace in my most crazy times.