Sunday, October 26, 2014

Is God A Woman!!!

A few days back I was just waiting for my train to arrive and there was a crowd of women standing around me. May be the next train was a ladies special. All different! Some old, some young, modern, amazingly traditional, some jain sadhvis who had shun the worldly things! A motley crew of women!! Suddenly an idea struck me. What if God is a woman?

The food for thought was enough to feed the intellect while I waited. What qualities do we attribute god with?

Love.
Compassion.
Non-violent.
Unmanipulative. (If there is 
a word like this :)
Beautiful.
Care-taker.

These are just a few. I am sure there are many qualities that I have missed but these are the basic ones!!
And I wondered, it was women that one could identify more with having these values than us men! 

Love: 
It's a mother that has boundless love for her children. Not that the father is any less, but mother had a greater 
attachment to children. She knows them better. 

Compassion:
She would cry when she sees suffering, At least more than the opposite sex. We have Mother Teresa!! No father Teresa as of yet!! It’s a known fact that women out do us in this department!

Non-violent:
Hands down it’s the women in this category. No women have started or fought in any war. They are not murderers, serial killers, terrorists, dictators, etc. even if some of them do fall in the preceding categories I am sure that it would be a fraction of 1% of all the males in that group. 

Non-Manipulative:
I don’t take the manipulations in the Saas-Bahu serials to be that harmful. It doesn’t kill anyone. Am sure no woman has been manipulative enough to fool a country to fight a war. Women do manipulate in other ways but that would rarely lead to a riot!! 

Beautiful: 
I don’t even have to say anything!! Beautiful from the heart and the body!! 

Care-taker: 
Moms are the best example. 

I am in no way portraying that 
men are useless! They are as much important as the females in the creation. It’s just that I am stating the obvious! I believe a woman is much more strong that a man, not in physical terms, but in a whole lotta other ways. 

But then I am saddened by the way women are being portrayed today. On TV, in the media it’s the foul mouthed, nonsense talking women that are getting the mileage. Which by the way constitute a minuscule % of the total women population (read chicks on reality shows.)
Rarely do we see a woman of morals being praised in these times?? Where has the respect gone? U might call me old fashioned but a lady commands respect and we should oblige that! 

And I don’t buy the 
argument by some women that it is the men who have degraded their character. These reasons are given by those minorities of women who actually have lost all the charm, the sanctity, and the decency of being a woman. They themselves are weak and blame others for the fiasco. Most women would be annoyed if a guy around them either talks foul or acts indecent. I respect them. I believe that’s what a woman should be like.

I believe that women are the best creation by god and I would love them to stay that way!! And in every sense it seems true that the creator is a Woman herself.

The Cherishable Moment

 We all are drifters. Some are travelers.

A thin line that differentiates the two is if we have lived an experience worth cherishing for times to come in any journey or have we just visited some place since we had the money to do so.

I believe myself to be a traveller. And have spent enough amount of time and money just to prove it. From local beaches to far flung mountains to the dense jungles to the technology deprived villages to the ghostly temples. Been there experienced that. And still the world will never cease to get explored. I know this. Not a single person can ever say that he/she has travelled everywhere. That would be the dumbest thing to say. A statement of ignorance.

So how much should we travel to have travelled enough? Don’t know, cant say, cant conclude. But somewhere the answers is about collecting memories. Our every travel is all about collecting memories. Memories which, when we look back give us glimpse of moments which can be cherished for ever. No wonder we see so many snaps being clicked in every holiday and outings. Capturing memories. These days even a simple dinner with friends will have so many snaps getting clicked. I guess people think may be the dinner might become memorable in some way and the snaps can be cherished forever. (But Incase of teenagers, they simply want to upload the pics on FB. Damn with memories crap. HAhahah)

But not all moments can be captured in those megapixels and get permanently dumped in the hard disk of our laptop/ hardrive. Such moments can only be felt. And this blog is all about one such moment which changed my perspective in a big way. And such experiences make me more of a traveler than a drifter.

The journey starts on a railway station in Mumbai. Waiting for a train to arrive. Those anxious moments at the start of any journey. Wish I can always be in that state of anxiousness. Jammu- Tavi Express arrives in style and I am off to Jammu. Long distance train travels always amuse me in the sense that so many people; all having so many different stories; are bought together for that brief moment of time where all their stories are running parallel to each other. And somehow all the stories get bonded together with every one having a common goal to reach from point A to point B. That’s the magic of long distance trains. But most of us fail to see this as we are so much used to being into ourselves. So much that train travel probably becomes just like an elevator travel. You get in, you get out without ever knowing anyone.

So my train travel ends as smoothly as an elevator travel. Jammu arrived. The land of beautiful people. The first thing one notices when they reach Jammu is that people are blessed with beauty. Natural beauty. Every girl or guy seems to be perfect for becoming the next big Bollywood star; cant comment on their acting skills though. So the cold weather and the beautiful faces, makes you more than happy about the trip. From Jammu station, a 4 hour “death scary” bus journey takes you to katra, base camp for my travel destination: Vaisho Devi.

Vaishno Devi Mandir, the second most visited pilgrimage place in India after Tirupati Balaji, is nothing but 3 rocks (pindies) located in a small cave. And that cave is located between 3 mountains some 14 km from Katra. And it’s only the belief of people which makes them climb this 14 km mountainous road, bracing the ever changing weather from cold to rain, and reach the top for just one glimpse of those “3 rocks”

So post half a day rest in Katra, my ascent to the 14 km unending mountainous track also begins. You start climbing thinking that probably these 14 km would be covered in no time and no tiredness. But those first 3 km are enough to make you realise that it wont be a rosy journey afterall. So you start counting the kilometers covered. And with every one km covered you rejoice with a sense of pride and simultaneously sulk about the remaining distance. It’s a mixed feeling climbing the mountain of Vaishno Devi. People going by Helicopter and horses would never know this. At one point of time the gigantic mountains start playing on your mind. We start realising the insignificance of a teeny tiny human being in front of these beautiful creation of nature. During the whole climb, one will keep hearing the favourite phrase of Vaishno Devi devotees, “Jai mata Di, Saare bolo, Jai mata di, zor se bolo, jai mata di, aree aage wale, jai mata di, aree peeche wale, jai mata di, baache bole, Jai mata Di…..” And this will continue till mentioning all the gender and age group is finished. But slowly slowly one start loving the chants. And it becomes a motivating factor of the climb. Those chants somehow sync with our will power and we see human spirits crushing the barriers of pain and tiredness. It may sound exaggerating at this point of time when you read it in this blog. But up above the Katra mountains, when one has reached more than half the distance from where its futile returning back, the power of chants and human will power can be actually seen. May be not in a youth. But definitely in an old person. And there are so many of them who cant afford a helicopter or a horse ride, but still manage to reach the top, all by walking, all because of will power.

So with many many many steps and 5 hours later, I reached the temple. To be precise a cave located in the middle of 3 beautiful giant mountains. One needs to enter the cave to take Darshan of Vaishno Devi. No Statue, No Photo. Just 3 rocks. So after reaching in front of the “divine” rocks, I follow the normal protocol of an average enthusiastic Hindu, for which we have been programmed from childhood. So I joint my hands in Namaste pose, mumble a prayer and did those typical gesture of touching the forehead first, then touching the lips and finally touching the chest. To this day I don’t know why we Hindus do that. Also whats the logic of mumbling a prayer. Plus we cant tell what we prayed for to anyone or else it wont come true. As I mentioned, we have been programmed to believe all this from childhood. So post my personal rituals my turn of seeing Vaishno Devi was over in seconds. All the hard climb of 5 hours for this glimpse of 5 sec. I was leaving.

AND JUST THEN the “The Moment” happened, for which I have written this 500 words plus blog. As soon as I was leaving the cave after taking the Darshan, a complete stranger middle aged lady with 2 kids who was all this while standing right behind me called me out and shared with me the Prasad she had just received from one of the priest. I must mention that the Prasad, which was directly from the bowl kept near the divine rocks, was not given to all the priest. Randomly to select few, may be because of limited nature of the Prasad in the bowl. And that Prasad was nothing but a single piece of Kish Mish (dried grape). But the even more surprising thing was that the noble lady was sharing that single piece of kish mish between me, another stranger guy behind her, her 2 little kids and herself. That Kish mish got torn into so many tiny pieces that further division was almost impossible. And still that one sixth piece of a kish mish felt so filling in my mouth.

It made me wonder that it would have been the easiest thing for the lady to just give the Prasad to her kids. Or just herself. But still she chose to share. SHARE whatever she had. Till the point she could share no more. And when you get a Prasad right from the feet of Mata Vaishno devi, that too after climbing a 14 km stretch of 5 hours, sharing could be the last thing on one’s mind. But still she shared. Without any obligation, she shared. That too with complete 2 strangers.

This was my moment of realisation which I never got to capture in photo. Nor did I ask the lady her name. She was so enthusiastic about the whole affair of visiting Vaishno devi, that I wonder if she would have stopped to even answer, had I asked her name. But that moment gave me a reason to cherish that trip forever. It gave me an experience which makes a traveler out of everyone of us. Because travelling without an experience is nothing less than just drifting like a piece of wood in a sea.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Udaipur Dairies... Never forgotten!!!

It was a Saturday. Office was supposed to be half a day. The so called “half day”.  My previous company The Hindu, had this ridiculous way of fooling the employees that they are supposed to work only for half a day on Saturdays by allowing the employees to leave only one hour before the usual time. And in-turn the employees used to fool the company by not even working half of what they usually worked. So on one such Saturday, I planned impromptu to go on a short trip all by myself. I like to use the word impromptu but actually the trip was planned two days prior. Location chosen was Udaipur, City of lakes. Also coz it was hometown of one of my best friend, Raghuveer Singh Lodha. “I know,  the name sounds like someone royal, right?? That’s why I call him rags. This de-royals him enough to be my bets frnds”.  Before going to Udaipur I always thought of it to be city of dessert and after visiting it, I would always remember it as a city of beautiful girls. But the main thing about that trip was that it was jinxed from beginning with lots of misadventures, near death experiences and above all to be remembered as one of my most memorable trips ever.

So coming back to the “you-make-me-I-make-you-fool” Saturday of The Hindu. After lunch all seniors used to have a conference call meeting. I slipped out of the office the moment they started the meeting. I know it was not a college, but that’s how I was at my first job, carefree. It was raining heavily outside. Did not expect it to. Hence my ordeal began the moment I stepped out of office. Now with a heavy luggage and a namesake windcheater, I faced the heavy rain in the hope that somehow I would manage to keep myself dry from tip to toe. After some 15 min, I was all wet.

I completed the hour and a half long journey to reach Borivli Bus stand from where I had to board my pre booked bus to Udaipur. Even though wet, the happiness of reaching on time made me forget the harsh time rain had showered on me, literally. I entered the bus tour office only to realize that I had forgotten to carry the money I had kept aside for this trip at my home. I so wished at that moment that if only I had a nagging wife who would have reminded me to take the cash. Never mind. Anyways, you don’t get into bigger trouble to avoid smaller ones, do you? So after forgetting to carry the cash, now I only had to find an ATM and get the money. Mission scout-search-locate-withdraw began. You know guys, in life in later stage; we come to realize that those so called 5 min tasks usually take 20 to 30 min. Like “hey, just 5 min, I will have a shower and have my breakfast”. Or say,” hey, just give me 5 min to complete XYZ report” etc etc. So that day I realized that so called searching an ATM at unknown place in heavy rain with an equally helpless rickshaw guy is NOT AT ALL a 5 min job. It took me a good half an hour and I missed my bus.

Now all the buses were full. So the look on my face when I got a single ticket in a sleeper coach bus was same as that of bride on her wedding day. Emotionally happy. The bus came and I just grabbed my seat cum bed. It’s was a sleeper coach bus you see. So now almost evening and my journey begins to the land of beautiful girls, I mean Udaipur. At around 10:30, the bus reaches some place in Gujarat and halts for the usual refreshment break. After dinner there I return back to my seat only to find a couple loitering on my seat. With extreme curiosity, I ask them to find their own seat. But they claim it to be their seat and a chaos erupts. The cleaner who doubles up as a conductor, came to resolve the issue. The couple immediately produced their set of tickets. When its my turn to do the same, as luck would have it, I lost my ticket. Till this day, I term that situation as the biggest coincidences of my life. Look at it this way. Conductor sitting in Borivili issue 2 tickets for the same seat. Coincidentally one was issued to me. And even bigger coincidence, I lost that ticket at a crucial moment when the fate of the seat was to be decided. Now I am on this bus without a ticket in the middle of a town in Gujarat at 11 pm. It’s a bad situation.

The driver was a genuine guy and he accepted the error of double booking. He allowed me to sit besides him till he could arrange for another seat. And it took 3 hours for another seat to get vacant. Guys, but those 3 hours were undoubtedly an awesome experience. Reason: looking at the road from a drivers perspective. We hardly get time to look at daily mundane jobs from perspective of people who make them happen day in day out. Like, train driver, air hostess, teacher, gym instructor, mall sales person and all. The life is too short to try to fit in everyone’s shoes. But all we need is a perspective. The open wide highway road, the relentless quest to overtake every vehicle ahead of you, the music from cassette player drifting across to keep you alert and the funny stupid conversations with the cleaner. I made few friends and that’s all you need on a trip. After 3 hours, I finally got a seat and just crashed on the bed. I hope you haven’t forgotten that it was a sleeper coach bus. “warna fat se dialogue aayega, yeh bus mein bed kaha se aaya?” Next morning the first view of a beautiful rocky mountain through the bus window. I leaned my body out of the bus window and wanted to scream “HURREY” at top of my voice. Then refrained from it as it looks good only in movies. But still I leaned out of the window and screamed in my mind. But that day I realized that leaning out of any bus window on a highway is a bad idea. The realization happened 3 hours later when I reached my friends place all covered in dirt on my face. The moment I reached my friends place, I noticed that his house was filled with relatives. Ofcourse they were not there to welcome me. Wish they were actually not there. Coz I was at my shabbiest best. But later on I realized an even bigger goof up. It was as if it was a day of realizations. Will come to it later though.

Now one thing I would tell about myself. And I will be frank. I HATE DOG. The HATE word can very well be replaced by FEAR. Meri faat ti hai boss. Ekdum. My friends are live witness and testimony of the fact that I have danced on sofa, only because I was hell scared of the Pomeranian puppy on the floor. That’s the level of scariness I am talking about. So when I reached my friends place, I froze in horror on seeing a giant German shepherd growling and showing his teeth to me. Rather he should have been happy that GOD has sent him a live chewing toy. But he was growling. And that was enough to make me say a small good bye note to all the people I loved, ask GOD for forgiveness for all the sins I committed and picturised one last time how beautiful this world is. But my friend Rags, owner of the dog, came to the rescue. And that was the only moment ever when I did not take him for granted at all. Rest of the time you know how best friends are supposed to be taken for granted. For the rest of my stay, I had to continuously endure the thought of being bitten/ chewed/ attacked/ mauled/ torn apart/ eaten live etc etc by a German Shepherd. As I entered the house past that “dinosaurous” German shepherd, I was to find out another big blooper of the trip. Remember people, when I mentioned earlier about lots of relatives at my friends place. They were actually there for my friend’s birthday. The Birthday which I had so categorically forgotten. And after travelling for 12 hours had landed at his house on his birthday without “ANY GIFT”. Now that’s a goof up you would want to avoid in your lifetime.

Post the dog terror, public embarrassment and personal guilt feeling, I settled in my friend’s room. Had the much need bath and relaxed. My friend has very beautifully decorated houses I have been to. This has nothing to do with the blog subject, but I am sure my friend will feel happy reading this expression of admiration. One more step towards forgiveness for forgetting his birthday. So back to the story. Post the welcome session and moments of relaxation, it was soon lunch time. Oh ya.. Lunch se yaad aaya, I must say one thing, the so called “Dal Bati Choorma”, the famous Rajasthani dish, is way too over hyped.

Now time to explore the city. Now when you are in one of the most beautiful cities in India, what do you do? Try to see maximum of the city beauty, ideally on a bike or something, right? But this doesn’t hold true in case of two young lads who were at peak of their hormonal effects. Definitely we took our 150 cc bike but only to chase around the 80 cc ones. And that’s the beauty we tried to see all day long. And that’s the case in whichever city you are in. The routine was set. And I loved it. Ofcourse city tour was one of the agendas too. Udaipur is a city of lakes. I being from Mumbai, a city which has view of untamed wild water body in the form of sea, the soothing calm beauty of lakes was completely mersmerising. And the Palaces, being in Udaipur, one is sure to end up in city palace. The sweet shops, having a sweet tooth I just hogged on them. The vibrant colours which the city is draped in, the rich cultural heritage the city encompasses, the narrow swift lanes and bylanes  and carvings and artistic nature of every building gives Udaipur all together a heritage royal feel which altogether have a different charismatic experience as compared to the concrete jungle of high rises, I come from. Just didn’t feel like coming back.

During one such day of doing nothing much, me and Raghu were driving in his vintage car. “I have to term his Padmini Premier as Vintage. Who has it these days, except the taxi guys” So 2 “not so” royal lads in “not so” vintage car, (now the interesting part) following 2 chicks on a scooty. Udaipur being a small city, you tend to encounter same faces every now and then. So we had been following these 2 chicks for quite a few hours and were a bit optimistically hopeful too. And then the blooper happens. We decided to take a short cut to encounter them head on with hopes of exchanging actual smileys. Not the virtual ones which kids these days are used too. (Kids now days will put scores of smiley on whats app and FB, but will go stark blank when meeting face to face. Also their LOL’s are only alphabets coz I hardly see people laugh out loud who do maximum use of LOL. Strange) So back to the story. We encounter the chicks head-on for obvious reasons. Our car and their scooty cross paths. And suddenly there is sound of a splash. It was a rainy season and raghu forgot to notice a pool of water on the road. The after effect of this splash left the girls all wet. Shit. I could see my optimistically hopeful chances getting vanished into the thin air. And then came a wave of curses/ bad words. Never ever in my life have I experienced such bad words from the fairer sex. All we could do was to race ahead with full throttle and the 2 “not so polite” girls screaming at the top of their voice. We didn’t venture out for the rest of the evening. But decided to have dinner outside. Only to realize later that staying at home would have been a better idea.

We went for dinner at a local restaurant. Decent one. The restaurant was jam packed and so we had to share our table with another 2 gentlemen, typical practice in India. I must mention that people to the north of India are loud during their conversation. So were the 2 gentlemen. Little did this fact help us in having a peaceful dinner. We were subjected to topics ranging from one guys financial crisis to second guys marital crisis. We had our sympathies with both but more for the guy troubled by his wife and in-laws. I thought that this nuisance was pretty ok as compared to the incident that happened in the afternoon. And then suddenly to our horror, the fan attached to the adjacent wall came crashing right on to our table. With plates being flunged here and there, glass of water getting spilled on the table, wetting our clothes, we still had smiles on our faces, because of the realisation that we were so close to getting seriously injured on head or shoulder and we got saved. The hotel authorities did apologise profusely, but we just wanted to finish the dinner and leave. And we did just that, with thought of heading straight home for we did not want any further mis adventure. But it’s funny how we encounter situations on paths we take to avoid them in the first place. And that’s what happened in next 10 min with another near death experience.

As soon as we came out of the restaurant, Raghu interrupted me with option of having a pan. I waited, thought over it and then negated the option and we headed straight for our bike. We got on the bike, kick started it, and were about to zoom by. All this while I was sitting pillion and was gazing at one of the cow strolling on the road a little ahead of us. A very common site in small cities in India. From my vantage point, I could see that after starting on our bike, we would cross the strolling cow at 90 degree and with just the enough speed, would narrowly cross just before we collide with the animal. A fairly routine thing for motorists on junctions, crossing with animals, people or other vehicles at 90 degrees with fair manipulation to either go first or go later depending on each other’s relative speed. “I hope I am not sounding like I am explaining a chapter of physics here”. But just trying to give an exact picture of the whole scenario. Because what happened next was shit scary hilarious experiences. Our bike was about to cross the cow. And suddenly out of nowhere, a mighty strong muscled bull came charging from behind the cow and mounted her with the same momentum with both his front legs on the cow’s back. For all the non science students, who are still clueless of what I am talking about, the bull was trying to mate with the cow. But such was the force of this testosterone charged animal that the cow and the bull hurtled past us in front with the tail of the bull brushing on Raghu’s face. If our bike would have been a little more ahead of where it was at that moment, we would have got trampled by both the cow and the bull. And I am sure the bull would have given a damn about it. Coz all his mind was thinking about at that time was “you know it”. With enough crap incidents which happened on that day, I rightfully presumed that my quota of misadventures was over. And all that I was left with was peaceful holiday experience. But life is a result of endless permutations and combinations. And sometimes all worst combination is delivered in same trip.

Next day it was same lovely routine of endless chasing through lanes and bylanes of the royal city. Evenings were strictly reserved for sitting by the lake fatesagar and sensible (mostly senseless) introspection of our lives. No sage, psychologist or for that matter God himself can sort the complexities of your life the way a best friend does. Coz they explain you things with weird logic's, and when the logic's fail, they batter you with words, curse you and even beat you to make you understand. But you know it’s worth it. And how can I not mention the gossips. It’s said that only girl’s gossip. But the fact is I feel guys gossip a lot more. The only thing that makes guy-gossips not so girlie gossip is the topics. We guys gossip about hardcore facts. “No pun intended”. For example, we gossip about cars, bikes. What manipulation can you do in those facts? We gossip about girls and their statistics which are visible. So what manipulation can someone bring in those. But girlie-gossips revolve around people’s behavior, style, fashion etc. These topics are never too well defined with constant factor of subjectivity. Hence they irritate. At least to “hardcore facts” loving guys.

So one such late evening of introspection and gossiping around Lake Fatesagar, we decided to return to my friend’s place which is very close to lake. We were also discussing about a secluded spot on the other end of the lake named “Rani Road” which we decided to just zoom by on our bike. “BTW, what were the locals thinking before keeping such a fishy name”. Anyways, so we headed towards that road and after a good amount of ride, reached there. Now remember the logic given by Columbus when he wanted to discover India. Since the earth is round, go around in opposite direction and one can still reach India. Similar logic struck us and we decided that if Rani Road is around the border of the lake, we should reach Raghu’s place within few minutes if we keep on moving ahead in the same direction. So with a bike which was already on reserve for the whole day, we merrily started going ahead on the road notoriously famous for thugs, robbery, rapes, bad road and no street light at all. (And it was a pitch dark). But these factors didn’t bother us as by our calculation, it was going to be a merry ride of just little over 10 min. AND IT WAS NOT.

So while on the bike, in that chilled night on Rani Road, Raghu started narrating incidents for which the Road is famous for. And in full detailed version, he told me about how motorists were killed by robbers for money, road accidents in which cars just rammed bikers and went, of how thugs would stop bikers with barricades and go away with bike leaving people in middle of nowhere, incidents of rapes  etc etc. The blabbering went on and I kept on listening. Then came the stories of ghosts. Slowly and steadily, both the listener and the narrator were getting gripped by fear of unknown. And then suddenly and simultaneously it occurred to us that we had been riding for more than 20 min. And still no end of the road was to be seen even far away. The area was pitch dark with only the headlight of the bike to show the way ahead. Not a single car had passed us for last 15 min. And not a single light to be seen till our eyes stretched. Now the possibility was either we had got on the wrong path or that we had HIGHLY miss calculated the diameter of the lake. Now going back could have been disastrous as we were least sure about the fuel we had in our bike. We needed the bike running to get us out of that place and also headlight switched on. Darkness was scary. So at that time the last thing we would have wanted would be for the bike engine to cease running. AND THE ENGINE STOPPED.

We freaked. Scared out of hell. A stalled bike, pitch dark location, chilled atmosphere, constant fear of unknown treat, no network in cellphones and no help in sight. Fatt gayi boss. Literally. Me and my friend took turns to kick start the bike. And like a silver lining in a dark sky, the bike just started in one of the kicks. The only thing I remember after hearing that sweetest sound of start of engine was zooming on that Rani road with full speed and wind in our hair. The idea was simply to reach maximum distance before the bike gets stalled again. But luckily after more 10 min of speeding, we were on a familiar road within city limited again. That was a big relief and big adventure too. (Which was so close to miss adventure)

During the whole trip, there were many more non mentionable miss adventures. And I guess biggest was waiting to happen at the end. Like an icing on the cake. It was my last day of stay in Udaipur. With a great farewell and due adieu to Raghus lovely parents and not so great adieu to Raghu’s monstrous dog, I headed to bus stand on Raghus bike. The bike was comfortably carrying the load of 2 guys and my 2 bags, one backpack and another small hand bag. As usual I was late. Being late being my trade mark. So we were speeding. On the way I decided to withdraw some cash from an ATM. Stopped at one and it was a quick process , not like the one in Borivili during the start of the journey. We were back on the road towards the bus stand and reached there just in time. With my heartfelt bye to Raghu, I boarded the bus. This time the seat was pre booked without any margin for error. Reached my seat and followed the usual protocol of keeping the hand bag at one corner. And then I realized that something was missing. OH GHOSH!! My backpack which was carrying my camera ( with photos of the whole trip), my wallet (with all the essential crap), my souvenirs etc. How could I be so dumb to have forgotten the backpack in the ATM is till today a puzzle to me? I reached out of the bus window and in a panic mode, shouted at Raghu the distress situation. And in no time he was gone to fetch the bag on his bike. His disappearing figure was like that of a batman on his bike zooming on for a mission. Mission to retrieve the bag. That is, if it was still there in the ATM. Who would not want to take away a bag with camera and wallet and gifts? But my last realization of the trip in Udaipur was that in smaller cities, less people use the ATM as compared to bigger cities. Atleast that was the case I would like to believe. Coz the bag was still there. And waiting at the bus stand with guilt of having been so careless and contemplating the implications of this loss, I was on cloud nine when I saw Raghu coming towards bus stand, riding the bike with one hand and holding the bag high with another to showcase the victory of the mission. That scene simply got inscribed on my mind for ever.


Later on after many years , I realized that more that the happiness of not losing my bag that day, my happiness was more because of coincidence which turned that disastrous moment into a sweet laughable moment. And that trip to Udaipur was full of such coincidences which turned many would-be disastrous moments into sweet memories. I guess that’s all we need and expect out of any trip. That the usual itenary would somehow turn out to be full of surprises and we would have the experience of our lifetime.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Article : Good read

Guys and gals. I came across an article and really found it damn interesting logical point of view. Specially when I am at a age where I need to choose a bride for myself. So I have pasted the article on my blog page for all to read.

Note : This is not my blog. I have just pasted it coz its a good read. Enjoy reading.

ARTICLE

A 25 year old girl wants to get married. And Ofcourse to a billionaire as most of the girl's out there want to. So here's an article she puts up in a newspaper for an upfront answer :

THE POSTED LISTING

"What am I doing wrong?

Okay, I'm tired of beating around the bush. I'm a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I'm articulate and classy.

I'm not from New York. I'm looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don't think I'm overreaching at all.


Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a businessman who makes average around 200 - 250. But that's where I seem to hit a roadblock.


250,000 won't get me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she's not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right?

How do I get to her level?

Here are my questions specifically:

- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars, restaurants, gyms

-What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won't hurt my feelings

-Is there an age range I should be targeting (I'm 25)?

- Why! Are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I've seen really 'plain Jane boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I've seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What's the story there?

- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?

- How you decide marriage vs. Just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY


Please hold your insults - I'm putting myself out there in an honest way.

Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I'm being up front about it. I wouldn't be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn't able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.


It's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 432279810

THE ANSWER

Dear Pers-431649184:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament.

Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I see it.


Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal.

Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money.

Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't be getting any more beautiful!


So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset.

Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you! So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold , hence the rub, marriage.


It doesn't make good business sense to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following.


If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.


Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets.

So, I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful" as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.


By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.


With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way but in trading terms this is a classic "pump and dump."

I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, LET ME KNOW."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

That undiluted smile…

Today I am happy. I saw my building watchmen with a smile on his face. This means that he was really happy. Seeing a smile on a worn out face which has stayed too many months without seeing one’s family is a rare phenomenon. Afterall we humans are social animals. The reason for the smile was attending his daughter’s marriage for 20 days to his native place in some small village of northern India. Now it’s not the first time that I have seen him smile. My usual hi or a query asking about his dinner would earn me his smile, a simple answer coupled with a simpler smile. But at the back of mind I always knew that… that forceful contractions of those face muscles to give a shape of a smile has been practiced with repetition and regularly performed. So damn plastic. But not today. Today it was different. So damn real. So damn undiluted…


Now the question lies that what fascination does a smile on the face of a watchman has to me?? It is a well thought question. I being a 25 years old guy am always expected to be fascinated by smile of any random pretty chick. Sometimes true but not always. There is more to a guy’s life that “pretty chicks”.


How many genuine smiles do you get in a day? (Except for the ones from your loved ones ofcourse) The milkman hardly smiles, cab driver hardly smiles or office peon hardly smiles. Even the smiles given by the office colleagues are many times so not genuine. We are used to plastic gestures every day. The high end restaurants we visit have the most artificial smile pasted on the waiters. I always prefer them without a smile.


And when we consider a building watchman for that matter… He has the least reasons to smile. We normally crib about our working hours of 8 to 9 hours and low salary of Rs. 30 to 40 thousands. Now if you increase the working hour to 12 hours and reduce the salary to peanuts, that’s the average watchman you get. He has lot to crib. Have you actually ever seen your watchman go on a leave? Rare phenomenon. Even the job is damn boring. During my college days I used to sleep at 4am. I could see my building watchman through my window and have spend good amount of time pondering over his sad lonely image getting bored in the chilling cold nights, waging a war against the mosquitoes with loneliness and sleep to haunt him till the morning. And for the morning shift there is regular dosage of being ignored and looked down upon. That’s I guess is taken for granted. Poor people being looked down upon. Hardly anyone feels bad about it anymore.


He has a life too. But 3/4th of his life will be spending with building people who treat his just like a class 4 worker. He is the most familiar stranger to everyone. No wonder the watchman is the first one to get suspected during any theft. His poverty is a curse for his moral values too I guess. Still we find so many takers for this job. Most of them immigrants from poor regions of the country. Slogging hard here to make few lives worth living in their villages. It’s odd to see a human confined to abstinence from family and social life. But these immigrants are helpless. They have to earn the livelihood somehow. The big corporate offices and malls may be a sign of our growing economy, but the helpless poor security guards working there are sign of human emotional and social life getting screwed. I am sure that they would leave this sick job at one instance if they get a livelihood at their native place. They are least fascinated with this fast paced, uncaring societies of modern India.


My building watchman is working in my building for the past 7 years. In these7 years, his kids have grown up. He missed seeing them grow. One basic urge of every father. He has lived without his wife long enough for him to actually forget the love they share. His marriage must have become just a formality now. But still he lives on in this alienation society to make a future for his son, a happy married life for his daughter. Thankfully the latter has come true. His daughter is getting married next week. He will go to his native pace for 20 days after a gap of 2 years. The happiness is over flowing in his gestures. While distributing sweets, he is unable to contain the joy. His joy has made my eyes glitter with moist. I loved the moment. Wanted to freeze it and gift it back to him for him to keep it forever. But some thoughts are way beyond the practicality.


But though the 20 days of happiness are far too less in 2 years of solitude, they are enough to bring that undiluted smile on his face which is worth a million in this city full of plastic smiles.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One Hell of a Night….

This is a true story of one night in my life, which lets say was not as any other night. All the characters, places and events in this story are exactly how things actually happened. Names of people are not revealed keeping in mind their privacy. And also as a statutory warning, I do not recommend any of the things mentioned in the blog to anyone. It’s highly subjective. Enjoy.

Sunday afternoon on 20th June 2010. I am at my brother’s engagement ceremony. People are cheerful. But I am so damn sleepy. My eyes are red. Body is tired. And lots of flashy images of previous night are running through my head. What a night it was. It was like you catch a flight to Hawaiian Islands but land up in African grasslands. Wow. Diverse places and characters. All in one night. And a very real fact had dawned upon me. That Mumbai city never sleeps. And so didn’t I.

It all started on previous day evening. I was supposed to catch up with a one of my best pals to just chill out on a Saturday evening. Also hang out with my cousin a bit and then I had planned my night stay at my friends place. But such a nice simple easily achievable plan was never achieved.

On that Saturday, when I left office at around 5:30 pm, one of my office colleague whose home was on the way decided to accompany me. We met my friend in Borivili station (It’s one of the suburban railway station in western railway in Mumbai). That’s it. That’s the only point till which we were able to stick to our initial plan. Now I get a call from my cousin saying that he won’t be able to meet us because of some priority work. So we three, my office colleague, my friend and I decided stick together for a while and munch on some food. We never imagined that we were gonna stick together for way longer than “A WHILE”. For food, the only criteria a restaurant has to fulfill to get us in is that it should serve liquor. And being the super class brainy children of Homo sapiens, we all decided to board a bus to search a restaurant rather than walk and search. (But must say it was a brilliant idea). Hopped into a nearest bus and the journey started with both eyes glued to the roadside for search mission of any eating, drinking joint. And after 15 long min, I spotted a flashy little restaurant named “Night City, Restaurant and Bar”.

We got down from the bus. Entered our newly found discovery. The clock on my wrist showed 6:30 pm. A warm welcome from the doorkeeper, a lovely smile from the waiter, a generous handshake from the manager… It all felt so nice. But the place was damn noisy. A orchestra was playing the latest bollywood number with the loudest music I have ever heard in a closed room. Suddenly the name Night City seemed to be Sound City… Or rather “City of record noise pollution”. But still the ambiance was nice. We were enjoying it as the waiter was ushering us to our seats. We also noticed many young beautiful women dressed up in most feminine attire standing randomly and enjoying the music. And that’s when it SUDDENLY occurred to us that we had accidentally landed up in a LADIES DANCE BAR. Now a discussion for a strategic plan to get out of the restaurant immediately (that too after such a warm welcome from such heavily build men) could not happen because of ear splitting music. So we just grabbed our seats without any fuss. Looked at each other with confusion and curiosity. Had to get out of that place quickly. So ordered one beer and a Thumps Up. But it would be unfair on my part to not mention the amazingly beautiful girls trying to flirt all around across 360 degrees. If we would have ignored the fact that the lovely girls around us were prostitutes, I am sure there was a possibility of Love at first sight. That’s all I can say to describe the beauty of those girls. Never in my life had I experienced such strong seduction power of feminism. SOS. We had to get out of there as soon as possible.

We ordered for the bill and paid a whooping ten times higher cost for what we had ordered. Imagine a Rs 20/- Thumps Up costing you Rs 200/-. I guess the entertainment tax was too high considering what we experienced. The captain servicing us would not let off my hand when I shook his hand. He hinted for a tip, which actually made me think of kicking his butt. But looking at his size I just politely kept shaking his hand till he released it with disappointment… sensing that the tip was a distant dream. When we were out of the restaurant… We started to curse ourselves for the misjudgment. I suggested out of frustration to head towards marine drive. And we all three went. Another mistake.

We reached Marine drive at around 9:30 pm. Enjoyed taking in the cool breeze from the sea. Remembered the women we loved and the women we lost. And then suddenly one of my friends wanted to buy a computer part from lamington road. It was 11:45 pm. Still we went. But all the shops had closed down. Now my office colleague suggested hurrying up to the nearest station which happened to be Grant Road, so as not to miss the last local train. But unfortunately I had seen the movie “Ek Chalise Ki Last Local”. So I suggested them not to hurry. And we leisurely walked towards the grant road station. We reached at 12:45am. Way before Ek Chalise. But the last train had left at 12:40 am. I cursed the movie and my friends cursed me. Now the option of hiring a cab was out of reach considering the night charges. So we decided to hunt for a restaurant for dinner. But let me tell you something. At 1 am at night, not a single shop is open in Mumbai town. But luckily for us, we found one young chap who had also had the same fate as ours (missed the last local). He was a local and agreed to take us to the nearest restaurant. And we three went.

The restaurant we reached at was closed. Only the shutter was slightly opened. I thought it to be a shady joint. But when we entered it, we were amazed to see so many people having their dinner. The cabbies, the hawkers, and beggars. It was chaos. But we still managed to get a seat. The hygiene was of least priority at that place. To such an extend that when we were having our cold drink, what we considered as ice crystals in our thumps up turned out to be washing soda from the not so properly washed glass. But the food was amazing and damn cheap. Delicious food I must say. Lip smacking. And then we saw two foreigners enter and sit besides us. That moment was crazy. Two sophisticated foreigners eating in such a shabby place. It happens only in Mumbai I guess.

After food we rested at one of the footpaths. It was 2:45 am. We had to kill time till 4:30am (That’s when the first train starts) And we had loads of it to kill. Kind of hunters. Deadly time killing machines. We got chairs to sit near one Pan Shop which was partially closed. The shopkeeper was sleeping but every now and then, odd people disturbed him for buying something or the other. But we soon found one massage guy. And we took his service. Damn cheap and damn good. Felt like king. But then we started getting lot of unwanted attention from odd people. At night in Mumbai, there are many. So we decided to go to the nearest ATM where we could rest. Coz it has light and watchman.

But on our way to search an ATM, we got lost and landed up in a RED LIGHT area. Again loads of prostitutes. What the hell. I guess god was simply tempting us with the worlds most basic sin. But we didn’t give in. Many pimps started offering us the best deals. I never knew that one hour with a women costs only Rs 600/-. And there was continuous inflow of beautiful prostitutes in that area. We got scared. Just imagine the worst case scenario. 3 young guys are caught by police in a red light area at 3:45 am. Who would believe that we were innocent? So we hurried up. Again cautiously, as we did not wanted to attract any attention. And then as if the nightmare had come true, we saw cops. Staring at us. We cursed the entire night. But luckily for us, the cops were there to use the services themselves. Phew… So they didn’t bother us. Sometimes corruption really saves you. HeHe.

We reached the Grant Road Station at 4:40 am. The feeling of being safe from the cops and jail and social embarrassment was so damn posted on our faces. Now that’s what I call as Facebook. But instead of taking train to home, we again decided to go to marine drive. I know it sound crazy. But we did. And enjoyed the morning cool breeze from the sea. I finally reached my friends place at 8 am. Slept for only 2 hours as I had to attend this one engagement ceremony of my cousin in the morning. And that’s how I was so damn sleepy during the ceremony. But that night was a night to remember. And decided to never roam Mumbai at night.

But rules are to be broken. And that was just the beginning. After that first night, there have been so many nights wherein I have spend my nights roaming in Mumbai (town) on bike with my best pal, admiring the night life and getting mesmerised by it. And every single time the last point of the journey has been the edge of marine drive, the edge of the city, enjoying the cool morning breeze from the sea, and remembering the women we loved and the women we lost.

The Real INDIA

First thing… I know it a biggest cliché to write about India on 15th August. But still I could not resist. Sometimes I am a slave to my own writing.

I have not the seen the real India yet. So this blog would not be like one those many articles that jam the pages of almost all dailies (newspapers) on every 26th and 15th of every year. But you can expect some amount of truth and honest opinion about India considering the fact that I have traveled to places like West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jammu, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Goa. I know that this much traveling is too less to draw a final conclusion but it’s sufficient to draw a rough sketch of that conclusion.

And all I can say after much of my traveling is that India is different. Different from the images projected by bollywood and television, different from what’s written about it and different from what a youth in a metro city has an idea about it. And it has its reasons why things have to be different. Coz the lives of almost 90% people in this country is such that once they die… their story would be lost for ever. (I guess I am also one of those 90%. May be that’s why the desperate attempt at bloging.) And these 90% people are the real India. The mango people. AAM ADMI.

But then there is no need to register so many stories. I know that. What’s the point in knowing how an odd doctor who used to live in pre partition era Bangladesh was forced to migrate with great difficulty to West Bengal during partition to start again from scratch? (By the way, that’s my grandfather’s story) Or how a soldier who spend most of his youth freezing in cold chilling winds of north and one day died without any action because a single bullet from the enemy side hit him at the wrong spot. But then that’s what this country is made of.

India is not about the “Top 30 or 50 Indian’s who are world famous”. (I read one such list on 15th Aug in Hindustan Times). First thing, what’s the big deal about such list from a country which has the second largest population? Second thing, such list will have majority of individuals who either only have their roots linked to India or are no more settled in India. India is about the daily commuters who travel for two tiresome hours daily just to earn a living. People who have a daily routine as boring as the worst bollywood flick you must have ever seen. People whose entire life is as boring as the one most boring hour of your life. They make India. And not the spicy snippets of a actor or businessman. Actually majority of Indian’s are least bothered whether Deepika Padukone is dating Ranbir Kapoor or Siddhart Mallya… Ok. Wrong track.

India is not about some over qualified jerk simply contributing to the huge brain drain that we face every year. Getting in NASA and inventing something. And making the country proud. Wow… that’s a cliché. Isn’t it? Or some individuals born in foreign country, adapted to foreign culture, know too little about India, may not have visited a single India village… why do we still tend to label their success as India’s success? It’s about the people who really make a difference to the society here. India’s success lies in the achievements of the people living here. Mother Teresa was not an Indian origin. But she is the Indian Hero. Gandhi may have studied in a foreign law school… But he is the Indian Hero. I would say Amir Khan is the India hero. Contributing so much entertainment to our society. A local police inspector who saves a child in Mumbai floods. A school teacher. A journalist.

Making money is not bad. Going out of the country to explore and earn is great. But then acting like a jerk from one of the many Yashraj and Karan Johar movies who will constantly keep saying “Mera Bharat Mahan” inspite of spending so many years in a foreign country. That’s weird. Because the basic logic is that people don’t ever leave what they love. That’s what I personally believe in.

India is also not about clean cities, good roads, and luxury. Because many still don’t know the meaning of luxury. In the interiors of India, the definition of luxury is basic necessity. If a family has electricity, water, and medical facility, they are living in luxury. India is about not having enough money to spend, worries about the future of children, lack of social security. That’s India.

And by mistake if you ever thought that India is about changing mentality, broad minded youth and new horizon of thoughts, I feel sorry to let you down. Because even today things like dowry and gender biasness is India’s forte. A youth in India may talk a great deal about being broad minded. But they still are so damn hooked on cast & creed system and old age superstitions. And all this are so well displayed during the time of their marriage. This is a country where irrespective of his deeds and worth, almost every guy wants a virgin wife and dowry. Great and pathetic. Or should I say, pathetically great. An Indian youth, irrespective of gender, while marrying will prefer a partner from his or her cast, a partner who is not Maglik and with whom the Kundali matches. And all this will be done so smartly stating the reason of “listening to the parents” as an excuse. In other words, respecting parents. That’s India for you. A joke in the name of broad minded youth. So you see, we have sustained our age old traditions of kundali and all. But does that mean we are preserving our culture. Huh. Not really. Many youths are quite disabled when it comes to communicate in their mother tongue. Many languages, traditions and customs in India are on the verge of extinctions.

But India is also not that gloomy as projected by a pessimistic jerk like me. India is about festivals and customs. They are great fun in small towns and villages. In cities festivals are just like some formalities which are followed with compulsion. Ya… so I was talking about India’s positive point. I can start to write about the economic growth and all. But I am sure there are many jaded journalist and writers to write about all those things. But I will say one last thing. I don’t know who, but some astrologer had predicted that India will be a super power someday. I am sure many Indian’s will believe that… Not because they think positive, but because they believe in astrology. Ha Ha.