आई, जीवाचं तर जातो आहे बाकी सगळं तसं बरं आहे

26 07 2020

गुदमरून गुदमरून जगण्याची सवय काही झाली नाही
प्रयत्न करून सुद्धा समाधान कुठेच मिळत नाही
तू म्हणतेस कि माझ्या जवळ सगळं आहे
तू म्हणतेस कि आयुष्य हे असच आहे
आई, जीवाचं तर जातो आहे
बाकी सगळं तसं बरं आहे

सुख शोधून किंवा नं शोधून हातात फक्त दुःखं येतात
सगळी कडे पुढे जातो आहे पण डोळ्यात फक्त अश्रू येतात
तू म्हणतेस कि आपल्यांची संगत आहे
पण या आपल्यांमध्ये मी एकटाच आहे
आई, जीवाचं तर जातो आहे
बाकी सगळं तसं बरं आहे

रात्री आता झोप ती काही येत नाही
अगदी आलीच तर विश्रन्ती काही मिळत नाही
तू म्हणतेस कि आयुष्य जगणं सोपं आहे
पण मला ते सगळं असह्य झालं आहे
आई, जीवाचं तर जातो आहे
बाकी सगळं तसं बरं आहे


मन भारी आणि आयुष्य रिकामं झालं आहे
नं कश्यात आनंद नं कश्यात आता अर्थ दिसत आहे
तू म्हणतेस जवाबदाऱ्या हा माझा धर्म आहे
पण मी स्वतःचीच जवाबदारी घ्यायला आता असमर्थ आहे
आई, जीवाचं तर जातो आहे
बाकी सगळं तसं बरं आहे


आई घाबरू नकोस, मी काही बरं वाईट करणार नाही
जगत नसलो तरी पूर्णपणे अजून मी मेलेलो नाही
तू म्हणतेस कि मी तुला दुःख देतो आहे
पण ह्या अंधार कोठडीत मी एकटाच आहे
आई, जीवाचं तर जातो आहे
बाकी सगळं तसं बरं आहे





Fuck you all

19 07 2020

Fuck you for being nice

Fuck you for your every vice

Fuck you for your every suggestion

And fuck you for your aggravations

Fuck you for telling me to live

And fuck you if you think I’ve already died

Fuck you because I am in pain

Just fuck you – again and again

 

Fuck you if you think you’re happy

And fuck you if you’re always horny

Fuck you if you live in a gutter

And fuck you, for being an ass-licker

Fuck you if you’ve found The-One

And fuck you too, those who wish to die alone

Fuck you and fuck your laws

And fuck you for trying to break my walls

 

Fuck you for the music, for literature and art

And fuck your religion, you bigoted old fart

Also fuck you and your liberal friends

Oh and fuck you all until you are dead

Fuck you for making others cry

And yeah, just fuck you, I don’t care why

Fuck you and everyone that’s fucked this earth

Well fuck me too, for all that’s worth





Desire to Live

15 03 2020

I am indeed losing my desire to live. Suddenly I feel so directionless and purposeless. There is no aim. I cannot imagine how I will be in 5 years because I have no joy to look forward to.
Should I go back to India? And then what? Just while my life away?
What do I do in Europe? I am whiling my life away.

Right now I am feeling so lonely. I have never felt this before. I am so scared right now. Is this how it feels to lose everything?

Krishna is keeping me alive. I am not even living for him. I am only living because of him. I have a sudden urge to just not live anymore. I wasn’t born to live like I am living right now. I cannot take this. The silence is deafening. It’s killing me.

I feel guilty when I google for euthanasia in Switzerland. Because it will hurt a lot of people if I did that. But their life is moving on without me. And I know I will be forgotten.

I know I won’t do it. So do t worry whoever reads this. But I am scared right now if this loneliness. The sense of being without any purpose or goals.

My immune system is giving up on me. I have never been sick these many times as I have in last 6 months. I catch every infection and my bones hurt and my muscles ache. And only in June I ran a half marathon. How did my body suddenly give up on me? I see the claws of death crawling towards me. But this body is far to resilient to die without a fight. The mind – I am not sure anymore. I always thought I was made of stronger stuff. But I guess I either overestimated myself or underestimated how cruel life can get.

I know I will be advised to hang in there because things will get better, but then again, better for what. What happens when they get better? The same life takes over. New dreams will be dreamt only to be shattered again and the pain to cone back. And in all this – toil through the 5 working days 7 to 4 and do nothing on the weekends.

I am stranded. Neither here, nor there.





Luxembourg and Rental Deposit: How I Got My Security Deposit Back.

13 12 2019

 

Renting an apartment is, these days, as much a common thing as going to grocery or at least shopping for clothes (if like me, you shop all your clothes once every year). But you get the idea. And so, it happened, that I rented an apartment in the fourth country after coming to Europe in Luxembourg after living in Germany, France and Switzerland before this.

Now I never really had any problem with my “security deposit” before. And when I was finally in Luxembourg, one of the richest countries in the world, I cared least when I left my first apartment here and moved into another one.

And so, after a few months, I nonchalantly asked my previous owner about returning my security deposit. Of course, we had a problem of communication because she spoke Portuguese and French, while for me it was mostly English and “ein bisschen” German. So, my communication with her happened through the immobilier (real estate) company. I guess I shouldn’t put names here to avoid getting into trouble because, frankly, what I will write could be interpreted as defamation.

Anyway, I got a reply that she had to repaint the whole apartment and that she has decided to deduct the money from my security deposit. This was perplexing because the contract did not say so and it allowed for a bit of wear and tear that comes from using an apartment. Anyway, I went along with it, because she had been nice to me. So, I simply wrote her to give me a receipt of the cost of the painting (for which you can apply for tax deductions, by the way) and return the rest of the money.

After a couple of months of not hearing anything, I again wrote to her asking about my money and I got a terse reply saying that she will not return the money and she does not have the invoice as she used the help of her friends to paint the apartment. Very soon I began to read about this and found out that it’s a common practice here in Luxembourg that the owners never return the money back. I will now describe step-by-step as to what I did to get my money back.

Step 1. Write a letter to the owner (preferably in a language she would understand (French) and telling her to return the money in two weeks else I will take her to the court. And send it by registered post. This is very important that you have a proof that the letter reached the owner.

Step 2. Find under which jurisdiction the apartment comes in. (Not where you live currently)

Step 3. Go to the court and take a model letter of complaint to the court. I am attaching it here in case if you need it. Fill it properly. Take help of a French speaker to write it. If you use the letter I have attached, you do not need to go to the court.

Step 4. Send the letter along with all the documents that would help you in the case in 5 copies. (Remember 5 copies) by registered post. I sent the following:

  • The above letter.
  • Another letter to the judge explaining the circumstances about how I was cheated.
  • Printout of the letter and the proof that she got the letter by registered letter.
  • Printouts of all the emails and SMS that were exchanged.
  • Copy of the inventory that was done when I left and when I took the apartment.

Step 5. Send all the 5 copies to the court.

What happens next:

  • You will get a letter from the court giving you a date for the hearing.
  • The owner will also be asked to appear for the same.
  • The hearing will be in French. So, get a good French speaker friend if you have or get a translator. I have attached the details of a translator that I got. She was very nice and very helpful.
  • The owner/landlord will speak first and explain why he or she doesn’t want to return the money.
  • After that note down the points she said and very humbly explain your case. In my case I said that I had offered her to pay for the painting, but she refused to give me a receipt.
  • After this you must come to an agreement. For example, my owner offered to pay half the money. If you agree its settled. If you are unhappy you can ask for whatever you want, like I did. I even asked for translator’s money to be refund.
  • If either of you is unhappy, the case can go to higher court with lawyers and all. In my case, it wasn’t needed. The judge asked her to pay what I asked for.
  • Most importantly, the whole process is free of cost.

Tips for the hearing:

  • Never sign the inventory while leaving the apartment if you are unhappy about it.
  • Fight for the money because the chances are that the owner will again cheat the next tenants.
  • Outside the court, the owner asked me for a settlement with half the amount. I did not agree. I would suggest that if its not your fault and you left the house in proper condition, go for full money. You have nothing to lose. That money is gone anyway and what you get is a bonus. But make sure the judge sees the owner who is trying to cheat you.
  • Explain your case very precisely. Practice what you will say.
  • Make sure you send all the documents in 5 copies because you will not be allowed to bring a new document.
  • Don’t get flustered in front of the judge. And I say this especially for Indians who unfortunately I have found get easily intimidated. For example, my ex-landlord suddenly claimed that I never opened the windows and the house humidity increased and also that I was friends with the immobilien (real estate) company people. When my chance to talk came up, I very clearly said that the owner would visit my apartment from time to time and that time she never realized the increased humidity. I also said that it was my first time in Luxembourg and before that I had absolutely no friends in the country. Be very firm.

If you have comments or questions, please write them in comments. I have also attached a copy of the letter that is to be sent to the court.

modelle letter

Copy of the model letter to the court.

The translator who helped me in this is Mrs. Anka Theisen who was very helpful. She can be reached at her email address: (ancatudorascu1@gmail.com).





Goodbye Academia

23 02 2018

This is for my friends who are struggling in academia.

Funny how things turn out. A few years ago, well, when I say few, I mean 1994. I had written an essay on “What I want to be when I grow up”. That time, my future was extremely clear in my mind. I wanted to become a scientist. I wanted to know. I wanted to do. I wanted to build. I wanted to help. Of course, like people say, life takes over. It took over for me. But one thing never changed, I wanted to become a scientist. And I worked towards it. And I was pretty good at it too. Mostly good grades in science. Lots of summer projects and internships. A PhD. Great postdocs. A lot of publications. And in all this, without losing the childlike enthusiasm and curiosity. To know. What changed is what I wanted to be – at a finer level. From a nuclear chemist, to a theoretical chemist, to a spectroscopist, to a surface scientist, to a material chemist. It was mostly an evolution and there wasn’t too much to worry about because I had my lab to go to. Somewhere I read the definition of job satisfaction – “Imagine you have 100 million dollars in your bank account and you still want to continue doing what you are doing.” And when I would think of this, of course it was true. I could easily get into an industry and earn a lot more money but I was happy doing what I was doing. My experiments, my instruments, my lab. How could I even sell my soul to a multinational company? I wanted to help people with my research. Expand the human understanding.
And then life did take over. The next step didn’t happen. I applied for faculty position. In a lot of places. In India, believing that a position lay there waiting for me because there was nothing that was missing from my CV. Top of the class in bachelors and masters, a PhD from the best institute in the country, a postdoc from the best place in continental Europe – the places where people like C. V. Raman, Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli and Richard Ernst had walked. Excellent recommendations, excellent publication – in numbers and quality. In fact more than a few of my friends who already had a faculty position. There were new IITs, NITs, IISERs. People were welcoming. Everyone wanted to listen to me talk. Everyone loved my work and told me how they wanted someone with exactly my profile in their institute. I was articulate, friendly. It was just meant to be. Except that it wasn’t. Academia is a cold place if you do not belong. In the end, nobody really offered me a job. At 34, I didn’t have a job. I was doomed. A depression followed. Medicines were taken. And a lot of curses were cursed.

We had joy, we had fun

We had seasons in the sun

But the stars that we reached

Were just starfish on the beach

How could I not get a faculty position. Nobody could tell me what was missing from my CV. There were open positions. How in the world could they not hire me? You know what, Fuck you. And it just went all downhill from there. There was nothing more to be done. Well-meaning people told me to be patient but an year passed and nothing happened. My life was wasted. What else was there to be done than becoming an old postdoc. Changing labs every year or two and hopefully finding a new one. A two-year postdoc. Where you spend the first year in adjusting to the new lab environment and the second year worrying about and trying to find the next postdoc.
But again, and thankfully this time, life took over. Becoming a father sort of changed a few things. Most importantly, taking the responsibility. And selling my soul. I applied for a job in a company. A tire company that was looking for someone who knew about polymers and other materials, about some spectroscopic techniques and few other things. I applied and guess what, they selected me. And here I am. And you know what – it’s not so bad. The pay is good. The job is permanent, as permanent as jobs can be. I don’t have to keep looking for open positions and send them a 200 page application. I am still doing basic research and my soul, is more or less unsold. And then you remember someone like a Shockley, who actually worked in industry. Anyway, my point is it is fine if you don’t get a faculty position as long as you don’t give up. I do not have to complain about lack of funds for my experiments. I am accountable for what I do. It’s not too bad, as long as you get to do what you want to do.





No Land’ Man

3 05 2017

Well, this title came to me long time ago because this is what I have ended up becoming. A no land’s man. However, a google search for the phrase gave a result that this is already the title of a book by Asif Mandvi, an Indian-American actor. But I will stick to the title for this post because I thought of it originally unaware of Asif’s book and secondly because this is what I have become a no land’s man.

 

Image result for india europe

I do not know if this is a good thing or bad. I just know that this is what I have become.

Now, I have always considered myself a nationalist. Not a nationalist in terms of how the word has been concocted these days. But nationalist in terms of being proud of my country and its glorious history and its hopeful future and the small achievements that it has had. Nationalist, not at the cost of putting other countries or cultures down but nationalist in the sense of accepting the sweet with the bitter. Not at the cost of hating China or Pakistan but nationalist in the sense of proudly saluting my National flag.

And then there is another side to me – the western, European. Some of the Europeans friends in fact have said this to me that I am as European in terms of my thinking and behavior as anyone who has been born there and lived there. I understand and appreciate the so called western values of acceptance and independence and freedom of choice and equality.

And yet I do not know who I am. These days everything is so politicized. You are either a rightist or a leftist, nothing in between. Either you are a Hindu-phobic or you are a Hindu fanatic. A liberal or a religious idiot! Nothing in between! I like my religion and I am proud of it. It makes me happy that I follow a religion that is all accepting, allows you to question the existence of God. It even allows you to be an atheist. It allows you to follow any path you want as long as it adheres to Dharma or righteousness. It allows me to bow my head in front of a Cross. It allows me to enter a mosque without any sense of guilt. I like how it allows evolution with time. I like how it has never contradicted the findings of modern science. But then in the eyes of the liberals – I am a Hindu fanatic. And yet I know I am not. But again who am I?

I lived in Europe knowing that I will go back to India one day. I went back. Things didn’t work out like I planned and then I again came back to Europe. I am very happy to be back here. But I also know that I miss India. However, when I was back there, there were so many things that I didn’t like about India. And yet now, I know I want to go back. It is just confusing. Or so it seems.

When I walk on the streets here, I can feel that I am a bit different. It is not so much the color of my skin which makes me realize this difference – it’s the values that I have been brought up on. What I want from life is different than an average person that I see here.

And yet, I have changed. The same values which make me realize this difference between an average European and me – these exact values do not seem to be Indian either. In India I can feel this difference too. When I say something, not everyone in India agrees with me. Neither my family nor my friends. For them, my thoughts are westernized. They are influenced by the Europeans. My mind has rather been corrupted in the land of the whites because hey – every white person is racist and UNESCO has declared that Indian culture is the best culture in the world. (By the way this was sarcasm – another thing we Indians are not good at understanding).

My parents say that I am caught between the cultures – neither here nor there. I am neither an Indian nor German, so to say. But then again, why do I need an identity like this? Why cannot I just be me? When will this end? What am I going to teach my son? Be like Ram, or Bhakta Pralhad. Take care of your parents when you get old. But hey, be independent. Leave your house when you are fourteen but do not forget to call me every day. At least send a WhatsApp forward every morning please.

Is this also a form of globalization that we evolve into a new species? And to evolve from one form of beauty to another, maybe we go through something ugly? Am I that ugly link between the east and the west? Do I even belong anywhere?





A Friendly and almost Real Guide for Indians Living and Traveling to Zürich and perhaps Switzerland – Part I

6 04 2013

Part Eins – <The Swiss>

swiss_flag 

The Swiss in general are nice people. They are, as long as you don’t poke them in the eye, or their forehead (Statistically proven). They smile at you even if you don’t smile back. Of course courtesy dictates that when someone smiles at you, you need to smile back at them, whether Swiss or non-Swiss.

The Swiss are always on time. In Switzerland, unlike in India, you do not tell your friends that you will see them sometime in the evening. What you have to tell them is that you’ll see them on Wednesday the 18th at 18:38 hours (at least a week in advance). A wise man once told me, “In Switzerland, on time is late.

The Swiss like to keep everything clean. Now unlike what many of us like to believe, cleanliness is not  a relative concept. Clean, here means absolutely clean. Like the mythical absolute zero k that drives scientists mad. When you look, for example, through a glass window, basically no part of the glass or anything on it should be visible. I think its called spec clean. Cleaning the kitchen doesn’t just mean cleaning what is normally visible to the eye but also those parts that you can’t see even if you tried hard, like the upper rim of the door. Alanis Morissette, I was told, wasn’t allowed to perform her songs from the album, Under Rug Swept when she was in Zürich

The Swiss do have a few quirks which I guess the Auslanders should respect. Some of the things that define a Swiss are:

1) Not talking loudly on the phone or even otherwise.

2) Being sad on the cloudy day.

3) Being extremely fit, physically.

4) Similar capacity as Germans to consume alcohol and not bragging about it.

5) Being rich and believing that the whole world is a happy place to be in.

So the moral of the story is, the Swiss are generally nice people. They are friendly and do’t like to be bothered much.





Cool Physicists and Poor Chemists

8 03 2012

All science is either Physics or stamp collecting

~ Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics.

Normally when I ask my Physics friends, “what are you working on these days?” they answer something on the lines of string theory, relativistic quantum effects or dark matter or looking out for some supernova or you know, one of those cool sounding words. Contrast that with my Chemist friends who answer me something like, synthesis of second fragment of a taxol or characterizing my sample with IR or one of those things about no one seems to care much.

My Physicists friend might grumble but then isn’t it true that what a chemist does, affects the general public, or aam aadmi, directly? I mean would you rather prefer a cheaper paracetamol or would it be better if someone told you that some star exploded a few thousand light years away? But then ask people names of famous scientists and what you would hear is Einstein, Newton, Heisenberg, Feynman. You would surely not hear them say Langmuir, Fischer, Wittig or Hoffmann. I mean who cares who was responsible for the wonderful windshield of your car that dries off almost immediately when you would rather be happy about knowing that “the force between the elctrons is an exchange force arising from the exchange of virtual photons.”

Not just that. Physics has wonderful jokes too. You have jokes about Pascal and Newton playing hide-n-seek. You have movies on Heisenberg, Einstein. They are natural philosophers who write wonderful quotes about religion and ethics and say what God doesn’t like to play with. Then there are these legendary stories of Archimedes running nude and apples falling on heads. And then those wonderful T-shirt captions on the lines of “Gravity is a myth. The earth sucks.

Meanwhile we are stuck with one single joke that we repeat everywhere. “My name is bond. Ionic bond.” We don’t have legendary stories except perhaps the elucidation of ring structure when whats-his-name was sleeping and dreamt of snakes. The discovery of fullerene, beautiful molecules that looks like football, might make good movie but then do we care? Even the super-villians are more engineers or biologists who don’t have to sit in front of a foot long column separating R and S isomers of some poisonous chemical. Who cares when we say that we have 117 elements on the last count as opposed to the great GOD who has only 5?


Anyway, why am I whining? Hopefully one of us would be the next savior of humanity or something. May be then, we might get a bit of respect. At this moment all that I can do is take a potshot. No, it won’t be directed at my software engineer friends. They earn 10 times more than I do for their “work”. The above quoted Ernest Rutherford who called my poor chemistry as mere stamp collection, got a Nobel Prize in 1908 in, hold your breath, C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y. **** on that.






Poonam Pandey to Strip before the Parliament

28 08 2011

If rumor mills are to be believed, Model Poonam Pandey has declared that she will strip in front of the parliament if the Parliament approves the Lokpal Bill. When asked if this was true, sourcs close to the model said, “Yes! This is absolutely true. PP is absoluetely thrilled with the idea and thinks this is much better way to convince the government than a fasting 74 year old man.” Flauting a bikini clad Kingfsher photo of the actress, the source continued, “After all who wouldn’t like to see this.”

When informed that she did not fulfill her promise after India won the worldcup, the source replied, “She had informed the BCCI that she would do it privately for the players. The BCCI was obviously disappointed as it would have meant them missing out.”

Meanwhile the government sources decided to keep mum. However, despite being told not to say anything on the matter, Congress (bad)mouthpiece Digvijay Singh said, “We are open to all sorts of suggestions and incentives to pass a jan lokpal bill. However, Miss Pandey has to know that she will have to do her act twice: in lok sabha and rajya sabha as most of the members of the ruling government are from Rajya Sabha.”

When forced into saying something congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, “Who is this Pandey? And what right does “he” have to speak something about stripping when he himself is clad in clothes from head-to-toe?” When informed that it was “she” and not “he”, Mr. Tiwari replied, “Oh! I thought I was talking about Chunkey Pandey. In this scenario, I would like to say that our government is open to all sorts of talks and “provocations”.” and exited with a nasty smile.

The BJP meanwhile treaded on its usual nationalistic lines. “This is an insult to the parliament. This is an insult to women. This is an insult to ..whoever feels insulted.” said Sushama Swaraj. Meanwhile BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar in his typical Marathi accent said that it was a serious issue and asked the PM to launch a CBI inquiry into the whole affair.

However, in an unprecidented act of unity, Young politicians across all olitical lines welcomed the move saying that at least this would ensure young people to enter politics. In a strangely awkward position cousins turned enemies Varun and Rahul Gandhi were seen hand-in-hand and duscussing the whole issue with the excitement of 8 year olds while others like Milind Deora, Jyotiraditya Scindia etc. were seen gazing awe-eyed at both of them.

Meanwhile Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has asked the government to not believe in Miss Pandey. “She had promised that she would strip if we won the worldcup. And although it did encourae us to win, it left the boys pretty sad when she did not keep her word.” In fact blaming her for the current debacle of team India in England, Dhoni said,”Guys like Raina, Zaheer, Harbajan, Yuvraj have been very dissappointed since then and haven’t been able to come out of the deprssion since and that is clearly reflecting on their performance.”





How I failed my Driving Test!!

23 06 2011

..and managed to pass later without paying a bribe.

Finally after a lot of deliberations, I took up driving. Yes I did.

Many people, including my parents were after me to learn driving. But I would refuse. Reasons being:

1) I prefer public transport. And well, Bangalore has awesome bus service.

2) I love my cycle. Four wheelers cause more pollution and I plan to not buy one unless I just have to.

3) It increases your workload when you have to keep going to the railway station and airports to pickup guests.

But anyway, obedient son that I am, I enrolled myself for the driving classes. And awesome as I am, I picked it up really well and really fast. And then came the part that I dread. Official work. A driving test to get my learners license.

I reached RTO on time. Stood in lines like a good citizen. Then I was made to write a test. Simple test really. They asked 15 questions. Passing was 10. And well, good as I am in written tests, I finished the exam in may be 3 minutes. Submitted my answer sheet and waited for the results.

The traffic guy called my name and said I had got 12 out of 15. And then he said, “You pay 20 rs mandatory donation and collect your learners license.” and ironically handed me a “Mera Bharat Mahaan” sticker.  The rest of the conversation went thus:

Me: “mandatory” donation? What does that even mean?

Police: For army welfare.

Me: I am not interested.

Police: you got 9 out of 15, you failed. We managed to give you passing marks.

Me: But that’s cheating.

Police: We did it for you. Don’t waste our time.

Me: So is it a bribe or are you guys begging?

At this, the policeman got really angry. Said something about me failing in Kannada and asked me something in kannada. I said, if I have failed I will write the exam again. And I did. So as far as I can remember, I had flunked for the first time in my life. But I was happy.

Stood in the lines again and blah blah. And well, I passed without having to pay any bribe.

And well, doing this good  deed sort of gives me a right to give some gyan. We often find ourselves in situation where it is “convenient” to bribe someone to avoid “Zanzat”. But hey, take a step and do something right. It might cause you some physical discomfort but then you will be able to sleep happily. Believe me.

Have my permanent Driving License test on 30th. More on that later if something interesting happens.





Complete and full!!

18 05 2011

It was about four years ago when I first saw the man who was about to change my life!!

I sat in an audience of a few thousand in not-so-hot sun and unlike others I wasn’t so much looking forward to seeing Him. What I wanted was a patch of cloud to shade me from the sun. People were singing a bhajan which I didn’t know then but now is my favorite bhajan.

Radhe Radhe, radhe Radhe,

Radha Manas chandrama

Its a bhajan about intense longing and how the mind keeps changing like the phases of the moon when you are in love.

So anyway, people are singing and suddenly He walks up there and shouts “RAAADHEEEYYYYYYYY!!!!” with intense longing. And then a lovable, “Radhe!!” with His trademark mischivious smile.  He went on to talk at length as how krishna is love and Radha is longing. How you need longing for love to exist and yet strangely enough, love cannot stand distance. What He spoke was awesome but I was bothered by the sun.

And suddenly, out of nowhere, a big patch of cloud hid the mean ol’ sun behind it, much to the loud cheers. He looked at the audience and I could feel Him looking at me, an intense gaze, with his naughty smile and sais, “Hmmm, Hum apna kaam kar rahe hai na theek se!

Well, of course, like any other sensible person, I acknowledged it as a coincidence. The next four years went by with many ups and downs. He made me soak in His knowledge. He made me laugh, appreciate life and people around me. Made me cry too. Salty tears of misery flowed and became sweet tears of gratitude. Life became a celebration.

His gaze

But there was this one thing that bothered me. That intense gaze of His. That gaze had continued for a long time and then stopped. He had stopped looking at me. I tried many things to attract His attention but He just didn’t look.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I was at His satsang again. It was as usual beautiful. It was also one of my last few satsangs in Bangalore which considerably reduces the chance of seeing Him. And suddenly the bhajan started.

Radha Manas Chandrama.

And He looked at me. The same gaze. Intense gaze. Intense and yet beautiful. For almost 20 seconds. I din’t know but I was crying. The look said it all.

I am there for you. How could you even think that I could ignore you? I am you.

May be He had just made me long for His love by pretending to ignore me. I now know that He wasn’t ignoring me because I was still being taken care of. It was just that He wanted me to know that I might not get to see Him physically but He will always be there.

I was full. I was complete. I could feel my self. And like He says so often, I am not a seeker anymore. I have found.

I promise




2010 in review

3 01 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times

In 2010, there were 2 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 17 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb.

The busiest day of the year was September 16th with 147 views. The most popular post that day was A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were orkut.co.in, facebook.com, iisc.wordpress.com, orkut.com, and ncsi.iisc.ernet.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sudarshan kriya, sri sri ravi shankar, art of war, the art of war, and 100 days of kriya.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1) September 2010
21 comments

2

100 days of Sudarshan Kriya November 2008
5 comments

3

A Small Story of Love March 2010
18 comments

4

About Me October 2008

5

About a Girl October 2008
11 comments





A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1)

16 09 2010

Hello Folks,

Welcome to the first part of “The Definitive Guide to PhD”. As an 8th year PhD student and with the due blessings of my seniors (9th to 11th year PhD students (uncles?)), I feel I am qualified enough to tell you newbs what to expect from your PhD. It’s always good to be prepared. Sun Tzu, as he says in, “The art of war”,

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

Sun Tzu

Not to say of course that PhD is a war. War is something where either of the sides can win. When it’s already decided that you are a loser, it can perhaps be called PhD, for simply lack of words.  But before you get disappointed, let me share my wealth of experience. The wise ones as they say learn from others mistakes. Though people and at times you, yourself would doubt how wise it was to have joined for PhD, be very sure that you have not made a mistake. Mistake is something that can be corrected. When it cannot be, it’s called a blunder.

For the first part, let’s describe the types of advisors or “guides” that you may come across. But before that, what should you know:

  • First and foremost, know that your boss is your God. (And do not forget, Yama, the God of death, too is a God.)

Yama: The Boss

  • The number of years you will take to finish you PhD is give by,

n = 3 (m+1)

where m is the number of years your boss says he will give your PhD in.

  • Your boss will never crush your dreams. The dreams with which you enter the campus like curing cancer or making a time machine or sorry…I forgot what mine was (it was at the beginning of this century, dude!) are simply unrealistic. All your boss does is to let you know that, journals like Science and Nature are out of your scope and you should be satisfied with the IEEE or Elsevier is where you belong.
  • Your boss does not have a big ego. However, it would still be wise if you never ever tell him something like, “But you only said it.”

Once you know these basic axioms, I will come up with the different “Types” of Boss in part two of the series. Until then, ya well… download movies from the repositories.





A Small Story of Love

23 03 2010

I have been asked why I don’t blog so often now and I am sorry if you guys miss my writing. And well, I take it as a compliment of course. Reason is simple. I don’t have much to say. This blog is not about my idea or opinions. It’s just some stories I have encountered in life. Some are mine and some are of people I know. But basically they are stories. So until something doesn’t happen around me, this blog stays put. So you can guess, someting has indeed happened recently. I fell in love. Today’s story is about that love. Here we go.

Last week I went to Rishikesh. Don’t ask me how. I just did. Went for a conference to Delhi. Felt out of place there and thought of doing a bit of soul searching etc. and landed up in Rishikesh. There I met Pavni. This is her little story. It’s edited because it’s my blog but the crux of it hasn’t changed.

During one of Guruji’s (that’s His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) satsangs in Rishikesh, an old lady came up to Him with a child in her hands. The lady wasn’t old I guess. Just the lines on her face, from too much of physical work made her look old. The child, she told Guruji was an abandoned child. She had found the baby girl in the bushes nearby on the banks of river Ganga. She didn’t know what to do with her.

Guruji just smiled as He normally does. Nodded His head and made an eye contact with “Her”.  Don’t ask me, who. It was just somebody sitting in the Satsangs. And She immediately knew what She had to do. After the satsang was over, She went to the lady to have a look at the child.

She was a beautiful child. She was dark but then, She thought, wasn’t Krishna dark too? She lay there smiling in the old woman’s hands. Blissfully moving her tiny hands and feet and smiling at Her. And She knew, there was some connection here. It was love in first sight.

“What’s her name?”, She asked the woman in Hindi.

“I don’t know.” said the woman.

“Let’s call her Pavni Ganga.”

And so she came to be known as Pavni Ganga or simply Pavni.

“I can take care of her”, said the old woman, “but I don’t have enough money.”

“Don’t worry about it. I will send you money regularly. You just take care of her needs.”

And so it happened. Pavni became her adopted daughter. This happened in 2006. Four years ago. Pavni now is four years old and the love story is still on.

Two weeks back She met Pavni again and enrolled her in a school run by a relatively unknown NGO called KHUSHI FOUNDATION. Pavni now goes to school.

This Saturday I met Pavni. She is a very beautiful 4 year old girl and is very bright. She liked me immediately. Her home is right next to the Ganga river. We played in the river for a while. We made some silly game to play and she liked it very much. It basically involved splashing a lot of water and getting wet.

She then took me to see her school. The NGO, run by a Dutch woman Madelien Broekman. On the way we saw a shop. Pavni is crazy about chocolates. She does a lot of dramas just to get that chocolate. (Just like She does.) I had no choice to get her the chocolate. So that’s Pavni. I was glad I could meet her. It was one of the best evenings I had. The holy river and the story of love.

And now the answer, who is She?

It’s none other than our dear Minni.

Sure go to Rishikesh. That is one place you should never miss. Sure go for river rafting and the ashrams and the chantings. But remember this small little story and go meet this little angel, who is being taken care of by another angel. You will fall in love with her. At least I did.





Earth Hour @ IISc

28 03 2009

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I have come to believe this and I’m sure many of you will agree. Things mostly work if they happen spontaneously; more the planning lesser the chances of things working fine. This one happened just like that.

28th march, 8:30 – 9:31 PM (local time), is celebrated as “Earth Hour” throughout the world. What you (the whole world) do is this – you simply switch off all the lights around you. It starts off from Australia and New Zealand and goes around the earth longitudinally. Imagine watching the earth from space; regions getting blacked-out, one after the other. Must be fun for those damn Martians watching.

Oh, the cause by the way is to make everybody aware of this new mad cow disease, “Global Warming”. It simpler than that actually. It’s just to let people know that they should switch off their lights and other electrical appliances when not in use. So this was the back-ground for an exciting evening ahead.

At lunch, a few of us sat nibbling at the food when somebody just mentioned casually about the earth hour. It was more than enough for the satsangis to spring into action. Within minutes a plan (spontaneous plan) had been unfurled. The mess-authorities had been spoken to. Word was spread in other messes. Posters were made.People went out and got candles…

(Why candles? Switch off lights and burn the carbon emitting candles? Boy that’s stupid.)

OK! Here’s why. Google a bit and you will notice that carbon emission is 31% lesser for candles than tube-lights and that too if we are talking about same light-intensity. Period.

The whole thing is also meant to be more of an awareness. People should know what’s killing the earth. And thirdly, let’s not make it too inconvenient for skeptical people around.

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At 8:15, we (the AoLites in IISc) were armed with candles. They were lit and were arranged in a wonderful ratio of 1candle per table. That done, the lights were turned off and so were the fans.

What followed next was a big round of applause and cheers from almost all the people. It was a success. We then had nice dinner – full of laughter and jokes. It was a nice feeling to have done something rather than just sit and talk about doing something. The dinner seemed extra special and extra tasty.

When it’s IISc, expect lots of people to criticize you. And if they know that you are from Art of Living, expect being ridiculed and laughed at. All that happened. There were attempts by some pseudo-intellectuals to switch on the lights. That was dealt with. However, nobody seemed to have the guts to talk openly or argue with us. Off they went to some remote place, switched on the lights to smoke their coffin nails – the cigarettes. (I wonder though, why one needs light to smoke a cigarette. Perhaps they are scared of putting it in their nose. Whatever, may God bless them.)

At 9:30 the lights went on. We collected the candles and walked back happy. Feels so good. Tomorrow morning – So-Ham time.





Spirituality of the Geniuses

11 11 2008

The Indian Institute of Science or IISc as it is lovingly called is as you know THE Premier Research Institute of the country and by country I of course mean India. Unlike the IITs, which were 7 on the last count, the country has just one IISc which goes to show the “whats-the-word” about it. (Some word which means something like “awesomeness”{if that’s the word}).moto_0037

The students here, including me, the author of this post, are said to be the scientific cream of the country. Now, despite my unlimited modesty, I cannot deny that this place is a place of scientific geniuses. And mark my words, I said “scientific” geniuses. And a constantly analyzing and a questioning mind is sometimes too much when you take up “spirituality”.

This is centenary year for IISc and thanks to Guruji and all the volunteers, IISc suddenly has a big gang of Art-of-living-ians. We are roughly 30-40 people now. That’s excluding the people who have done the course but do not do their regular kriya. Anyway, Guruji has often said that science and spirituality do not clash. And I agree. (Who am I to disagree with him anyway?). But then, in IISc, things are funny. They aren’t normal. Rashmin, who has taught most of us, would testify. And although science and spirituality do not clash, the minds of us IIScians go out of the way to contradict these things. Anyway, so be it.

Before throwing stones on other people’s glass houses, its always better to get stoned and not leave your own glass house unbroken for others to break it. (I know I am making a mistake somewhere, that’s not how this proverb is). How did I get into art of living? I don’t know. Last thing I remember before I heard “So HAM” was that I wanted to go to Andaman Nicobar and stay there alone. Needless to say, AoL has changed my life.

Whereas science wants experience first and then it believes, spirituality demands belief first and then come the experiences. Now that causes the conflict. How can I accept something I don’t know about? Anyway, on a closer look, the patterns reverse. When one does a scientific experiment, he isn’t sure of the results but it’s done nevertheless, while when one hears the benefits of spiritual practices from thousands of people that constitutes as a statistical truth. And well, for me, one day I realized: How come I believe in electrons when I haven’t seen one? Isn’t that faith too? Don’t I just believe in them because I can feel their effect? So shouldn’t I believe in Guruji because of all the happiness He has made me “feel”? I guess that was one hell of an enlightenment for me.

But to think of it, it’s still my logical mind at work.

AoL in IISc is fun. We have mid-night satsangs every Saturday where we read some pages from the Bhagwadgita. We also have regular Sunday long kriya in the campus. That reminds me. So there is this guy. Let’s not take names ok. So I tell him, hey come to Sunday for the long kriya. This is how our conversation went.

Me: Hey come for the long kriya on Sunday

Guy: no, it’s ok. I do the long kriya in the room itself.

Me: what!! Long kriya in the room? How?

GUY: Well, it’s so simple…instead of 20-40-40, I do it 40-80-80.

Talk about using your brains.

The narad bhakti sutra and patanjali yog sutras have been fun and the discussions have been amazingly amazing. Everyone wanting to put in some logic so that just for their own sake, science doesn’t come in the way. It’s funny.

This one happened during the course. Rashmin was taking a guided meditation. At the end of it a tiny little girl (TLG) comes to me and says:

TLG: My eyes were open during the meditation and rashmin kept signaling me to close them. I did not heheh

Me: But why?

TLG: I knew all that already. Attention to feet and awareness about feelings and all.

Man, we are geniuses.

Another one:

Another nice little boy (NLB) who had recently done the course…

NLB: Why do my fingers hurt during the kriya?

Teacher: You are becoming purer, that’s why.

NLB: You mean I am impure now?

Ya, IIscians need logic.

Then a fellow writes in a common email: I will not recommend art of living to anyone because you guys are pseudo-scientific. Mr. Ravi calls himself a God and you believe in him. I cannot accept this hypocrisy.

Talk about being naive and he shocks you further.

It could be because I am not doing my daily kriya but I did not find any use of art of living. I know what meditation is.

Ya well, he is in knowledge alright, albeit a wrong one. God bless him.

Then there are people who believe that we get commissions for registering people and there are these people here who feel that their life got ruined after they did the kriya. Of course, they aren’t people who do their regular kriya. Others are embarrassed to come for the follow-ups because their friends tease them….yup footballs of others opinions exist despite the chunks of grey matter. God bless them too.

Anyway, that’s how things stand at the moment. We have this well-knit family. We eat together, watch movies together, sing together and listen to knowledge together. When we sit in the mess, non-aol people seem to get attracted to our group too. It could be the loud laughters or it could be the glow of happiness on our faces. Then we’ve also done 108 surya namaskars for more than one time. Not just that, our consciousness is so inter-woven that we actually have same thoughts at the same times, although currently these thoughts are restricted to visits to corner-house or bun-world. Still, its one hell of a start. We have learnt our lessons. Different people, different backgrounds are accepted. Not just that, they accept the group too.

It’s all nice. There are times when somebody strays out of knowledge and he is then brought back in. It’s just like a family. In fact it is a family. The scientists and spiritualists together. Isn’t that what guruji wants?

Let me end this with a personal quote:

“You know you are in knowledge when people start running away from you for the fear of an Art of Living intro-talk and you end up laughing about it.”





100 days of Sudarshan Kriya

10 11 2008

skSudarshan kriya is a unique breathing technique developed by my beloved Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It basically involves breathing in and out in a certain rhythm and has tremendous benefits.

Basically the kriya and other pranayams need to be done daily and if possible in the morning. But human beings and especially me are lazy. Despite knowing that it’s good and needs to be done everyday, invariably a day comes when I manage to miss it.

Hence, I have decided, that starting November 10th, I will do the kriya for 100 days without missing a single day – come what may.

Hence the chart below. It will help me keep a track of the way I have been doing the kriya. Others too may join in if they wish to.





Things Men Do

14 10 2008

This one is gross. This could be funny but it’s still gross. Particularly the fairer of the two sexes could find it, particularly gross. So if you are a goody-goody kind of a person who doesn’t like to read gross things – stop right here.

Now that I know that you aren’t grossed out by things that are indeed gross – let’s start.

This one concerns men. Women folks somehow always seem to have a man of their dreams. At times it could be somebody like George Clooney or George Bush or Superman – anybody. As far as men go, they want to imitate these men. Somebody wants to be an Einstien while someone else might want to become a Manoj Kumar (or Abhishek Bacchan if you are talking about me) to impress a particular girl of his  respective dreams. Now you’ll say – “well, what’s so gross about all this?”

Well, men and women, as you fantasize and imitate these men, does it occur to you as to how these men behave in a public toilet? Ummm…okay, that’s gross! Right! Stop right here because from next paragraph onwards you are going to be introduced to different types of men depending on their behavior in a public lavatory.

Now, since you are reading this, I assume that you are mentally tough and so with this, I start my classification of men depending on their – well, pissing behavior.

<1> The Shy Guy

This guy is – shy. What he needs is a complete privacy when he does his stuff. First thing he does when he enters the loo is that he checks if the lavatory is almost empty. An empty lavatory is like a dreamland for him. Then what he does is, he occupies the cubicle at the extreme end – the last one. If that’s unavailable, he selects one which has unoccupied nearest neighbors. Once he gets the cubicle of his choice, his gaze is focused on what he is doing. His eyes don’t wander about. Just does his thing quietly and goes away.

Problem comes when, out of nowhere, somebody comes and stands besides him. Even worse when the other person starts a casual chitchat with him. Under such conditions, despite the rising pressure, this guy cannot pee. He stands there for a while just pretending that he is pissing, flushes the toilet and runs away. He then comes back half an hour later and goes through the above-mentioned routine again.

The fact that this guy could be a cool dude outside the toilet has nothing to do with his toilet shyness.

Amongst famous people who could belong to this category are Rahul Dravid, Ajay Devgan.

This author, that’s me, too identifies himself in this category.

<2> The ‘Pee’ker

This guy has nothing better to do than peek into the next cubicle. He is the ultimate nightmare of the shy guy. I have no clue as to what sadistic pleasure he gets by peeking. Now, he doesn’t stop here. Peeking is still – well, grudgingly acceptable but this guy starts to comment on your anatomy. Its freaking pathetic to hear a comment like “whoa, so big” or a stifled laughter. YUCK!

Famous people: Stiffler from American Pie, Akshay Kumar, The entire Australian cricket team.

<3> ‘Pee’thovens (alright, sorry for this pathetic pun)

This guy creates amazing sound effects in the loo. To start with, he needs a sort of hissing sound to get his leak started – sssss…Then comes a sigh of relief, “AAAhhhh…” like an Arab who’s found an Oasis. The come a “uuufff…” if his job doesn’t get over in 38 seconds. Its a boon that man cannot make all sorts of sounds, or else a men’s toilet would be full of sounds – from a waterfall to a tornado or even an ocean may be.

Famous people: Himesh Reshmiah, Annu Malik, Govinda.

<4> The stand backs

These guys are like those cricket players who always find a name in the 15-member team but can never break into the playing eleven. Come what may, these guys will always prefer to stand behind somebody who is pissing. Even though there could be six other empty cubicles, this guy would stand in line. The intention of this guy is still not clear to me. It could be a prank or just sheer habit or may be a numerological preference for some cubicle.

Famous People: Johny Lever, Ajit Agarkar

<5> Flying Zippers

The funniest of the lot. This guy is perhaps too lost in himself. Even before he has entered the toilet, his zippers are off and he walks shamelessly unaware of other people’s wild and horrified gazes and begins his job, no sooner has he reached his cubicle. Zero time lag. However, this guy is not a shameless freak. He is plain absent minded.

Famous people: Archimedes, Paresh Rawal

<6>Literature Laureate

While his left hand ensures that the lavatory remains clean, his right hand is busy writing/drawing something on the wall. These guys are artists with apparently no muse. Their creativity blossoms only while they are peeing. Most of the drawings they make are ideal examples of female anatomy – men’s toilets are full of such artistic masterpieces. Some of them could even make a biology book bow down in shame.

But the real geniuses are the one’s who write. The graffitists. The advices they write about life are worth following. Life would indeed become better. Certain examples of what they write:

a) Stop reading start pissing. (wow)

b) Turn to your back. (At the back) Turn to your right. (On Right) Turn to your left. (On left) “Dude, life is too precious to spend looking around in a public urinal. Piss off. (How true!)

Famous People: Kurt Vonneguut, Leonardo da Vinci, the guy who wrote the song ‘aati kya khandala’

<7> Movers and shakers

Now the literature guy also writes “No matter how hard you shake, the last drop is always in your underwear.” This is a fact of life and you have to accept it and move on. But then

there is always this guy who just seems so stuck up. He refuses to acknowledge it. This guy belongs to the movers and shakers type. After he is done, he shakes his…whatever…vigorously and for a long time. It really looks pathetic from back.

Famous People: Prabhu Deva, Sreesanth

<8> Pleeeeeease

This guy enters into the loo only in case of extreme emergency and always when the toilet is full. He gives an amazing expression of agony and pain personified and begs others to allow him to break the line. You have to give in after looking at his pathetically distorted face.

Famous people: Rajpal Yadav

<9> The quick ones

Another mystery. How these guys do it, I do not know. They finish peeing in 5-8 seconds. Complete mystery. At times I have wondered if these people really do anything. Could be a shy guy in disguise.

Famous People: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs

<10>Dirty Harry

Hate them. They do not believe in the use of good old H2O.  They neither wash their own hands nor do they flush. Bad! Bad!

Famous People: Gulshan Grover, Shakti Kapoor.

Right on girls – these are your dream guys. Chose carefully.

Guys – these are your heroes. Follow ’em cautiously.

Note from the author: The author would like to apologize if somebody’s religious sentiments are hurt. Comments of course are welcome.





About a Girl

14 10 2008

Sorry for borrowing the title so shamelessly from the Nirvana song but it’s just that it fits here perfectly. It’s about somebody called Nidhi. I knew Nidhi since class 5 but we were never friends. We were neighbors, did our schooling together and so also our college and for the complete weirdness of fate joined in the same company as employees. This story is about the same girl. This is her story.

Here I go!

Nidhi was shy. She was so shy to talk to people that they would misunderstand her shyness for rudeness. But she wasn’t rude. She was very simple and very nice. People who knew her really liked her. Nidhi had had a very happy childhood and was a brilliant student. As far as I can remember, she has topped every exam I wrote. Except for the pangs of loneliness, her life was perfect. And by the time we started with our jobs, I think she must have got used to even that. She had a lot of acquaintances, lesser friends and hardly any good friend, none as far as I know. Even I was just an acquaintance. I once overheard her mother telling her, “No one will even attend your funeral.”

So much for astro-predictions!

She always got what she wanted and never really struggled or fought for anything. She was also extremely gullible. She trusted people blindly, may be hoping to make friends with them. I never saw her going out for dates either. I guess because nobody asked her out. I spoke to her just once or twice and I really had t strain my ears because she could hardly raise her voice. The only time I saw her really happy was once when the curtains of her home were not drawn and she was alone and dancing.

What a sight!

And so she lived until suddenly “THE THING” happened. A lot has already been said about THE THING and also since this is Nidhi’s story, let us just stick to her. Just for your knowledge, it was some sort of a protest against the government. It was about a policy of the government that would affect the lives of a lot of people.

To hell with the government!

But it didn’t affect Nidhi’s life personally. And since she hardly read any newspaper, she wasn’t even aware of the great public uprising that might shape the country’s future.

So much for all the education!

So it was Friday evening I looked up from my computer screen and saw Nidhi cleaning her table for the weekend. A friend of mine, Anurag, cheerful guy, also happened to be doing the same and out of sheer habit he smiled at Nidhi. Normally nobody smiled at her because as I had said, people thought she was rude. Just as Anurag began to contemplate his mistake, Nidhi surprised him (and even me) by returning his smile.

Surprise!

So it was kind of imperative that he said something.

“So all set for tomorrow?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” Nidhi replied.

She was clueless because she didn’t really know that people actually did something on Saturdays.

“I meant the protest. Aren’t you going for that?” asked Anurag.

“What protest?”

Anurag thought Nidhi was kidding him or just playing because it was the biggest thing that was happening in the country. Perhaps bigger than the game of cricket. However something about her innocence told him that she wasn’t really kidding.

“You mean you don’t know anything about it?” said Anurag, stressing on the word ‘it’.

“No. I hardly know anything that happens around me.” She said matter of factly.

Anurag had to smile at her truthfulness and so he smiled. Anurag always smiled. He never smirked. Suddenly he felt like as if he was her dad and needed a father-daughter talk with her.

“Okay let’ s go for dinner and I’ll explain you.” It wasn’t really that he had asked her out but it was her first date.

Whoa, what a nigh!

The dinner went for long hours and Anurag explained her all about the new government policy and how it would affect a common man of this country. He spoke in the way most guys do, which they think will impress the girl they are talking to, by waving their hands and punching fists in the air. However, with Anurag, I must tell you, it was all very natural. He was seriously serious about it.

“But I don’t see how it will affect me, personally.” Said Nidhi after Anurag had finished.

Anurag tried to keep his cool by reminding himself that she was just too innocent and ignorant and not playing smart.

“But, don’t you see the bigger picture?” he asked. “What about your country? It will go to dogs. You don’t want that, do you?” Another session followed wherein Anurag tried to explain her the bigger picture which Nidhi, being, as I had said before, gullible, understood really well.

“So that’s that.” Said Anurag, concluding his inspirational speech with another punch to the helpless air, which had pretty much got used to getting punched at. His speech had, however, made her speechless and had she been British, she would have probably said, ‘Blimey!’ or ‘Ooo la la!’ had she been French but since she was just a simple India girl, she remained speechless and Anurag could see a faint glint of tear in her eye. She was very clearly moved.

Or may be it was just a sparkle!

Nidhi’s mind was racing. She was touched. It was as if she had been living in a dark room all along and suddenly with just a blink of an eye, there was a loud light around her – bright and clear. The light hurt her eyes – and hence the tear.

“I’ll be there tomorrow.” She said and left – without a word or even a good-bye. What Anurag did with the bill is another story but its funny. So let me not include it in this particular chronicle.

Nidhi crashed into her bed when she reached home. Thoughts began to crowd into her mind. Where had she been all these years? Why had she been so blind? So un-informed (if such a word existed)! So stupid! So freakingly self-absorbed! Why had she never even felt a hint of pain for her fellow countrymen? She did could not sleep the whole night. Peeping out of my room, I saw her sitting in the balcony whole night.

Boy, had she changed!

She was one of the first persons to reach at the venue. When I reached there, I found Nidhi standing in a corner as people began to appear slowly. The banners, posters and pamphlets began to be put up, drawn and distributed, respectively. Certain black ribbons also found themselves, almost automatically, getting tying on people’s arms. I went up to her and she smiled at me, probably for the first time and …well…for the first time.

We both were waiting for Anurag because we didn’t know what to talk to each other and the silence between us was getting too loud and too uncomfortable. However, there wasn’t any silence around us as people had begun shouting certain catchy slogans explaining how certain breeds of dogs were better than certain breeds of politicians.

So much for democracy!

Nidhi too was searching for Anurag. “Did she like him?’ ‘Shut up!’ her mind warned her, ‘You are here to improve the plight of your countrymen.’ And so suddenly Nidhi joined the marching people. Certain slogans, Nidhi found were rude, a few witty and some ridiculous. But who cared as long as they rhymed. Anything said against the government was good.

“People can take any shit when united!”

Nidhi found herself in a sea of people. She had never seen so many people. Thousands and thousands of them were marching and shouting slogans – just like it would have happened during the struggle for independence. Her senses got numb and she suddenly stopped in the middle. She stood there like a tree and everything around her seemed to move in slow motion. (Yes, it happens just the way they show in movies.) She turned around a full circle and all she could see was people. She couldn’t hear a word. She didn’t know where she was or what was happening.

I have become comfortably numb!

Nidhi was jolted back to reality by Anurag after he had finally managed to find her. But what he saw was somebody new.

“I am going to the front.” She said. Suddenly she could feel the leader in her. She cut in through the throngs of people and managed to reach in the very first row of the protestors.

She saw police vans ready with lathis, water cannons, tear gas etc. Some of them even had rifles in their hands. The crowd slowed down as police marched ahead. They knew what was coming but they knew that they themselves couldn’t stop either because suddenly they had a new leader.

Nidhi shouted half a slogan. She shouted that at such a voice that it surprised her herself. The loudest she had ever said anything. It was probably the first time she had actually raised her voice. The crowd responded back, completing the other half of the slogan. She shouted again, louder and firmer. This time more number of people completed her half said line. The third time when she shouted, it was the loudest anybody had ever shouted since the march began but it was also because she had, by this time, a megaphone miraculously placed in her hands. Her voice sounded like a tigress on the megaphone. The chants grew louder and stronger and the police began to proceed even faster. Nidhi looked straight into them and continued to move ahead. The police warned them to stop but nobody seemed to hear them.

They got the guns but we got the numbers!

And out of nowhere, came an order, ‘Lathi Charge!’

The police began to do what they were told viz. hitting people with their sticks to disperse them. Water cannons began to fire water at high velocities. Nidhi was not deterred. She continued to move ahead. A policeman rushed at her and gave a powerful blow of his thick stick on Nidhi’s skull. The blow was too hard for a delicate person like her. Her body took a 270 degrees spin and collapsed. Anurag saw her falling down and just about managed to get her body by the side of the road.

Nidhi was dead!

The situation came to order after an hour or so. Nidhi’s head, now fully smeared in blood was nestled in Anurag’s lap. An ambulance arrived and took her body away for post-mortem.

Give me a break!

The next day’s newspapers read the following headlines: Government takes back its decision amidst violent countrywide protests.

While another line said: 101 injured and one dead in Mumbai.

The one dead was a certain Nidhi. She was popular for the first time but she wasn’t there anymore. She was popular because unlike her mother used to say, thousands of people attended her funeral. Everybody who came there said how brave Nidhi was and everybody from our office said how great a friend they had been with Nidhi and how great a girl she was.

I saw Anurag sitting in a corner, head down probably feeling guilty for what happened. I don’t know why but I heard a deafening silence as a saw her body go up in flames.

Adios!





The Art of Laughing

14 10 2008

Augustus sat chomping on the baby seals while the sun shown over the Tundra region. It was very beautiful because the sun never sets there in the summer. There were plenty of baby seals to eat. After that he would mate with someone he loved and go back to hibernation at the onset of winters.

Far away in the other reaches on the earth, there was a country full of brave people who were in turn ruled by an even braver president. However the president had a slight problem. His problem was that he could not smile. Rather, he could not afford to smile because he didn’t have enough oil to run his country. And because of that, he began to hate the president of another country who had more oil than water. He began to wonder how he could get all those oil wells along with the oil that they contained. So all he decided to do was simply attack the other country and get hold of their oil wells. And that he promptly did.

The war raged for many a days. Brave men were killed. Noble Generals got bravery medals even as they tried their best to console the wives of the brave and yet dead soldiers. Missiles were launched into the very hearts of big cities rendering thousands dead and many more homeless. There weren’t many orphans because the little kids died along with their parents. There were protests and there were music concerts for peace. And finally the war ended with the president who owned the oil wells being killed by one of the missiles.

This made the first president very happy. All the oil was now his. However, what he didn’t know was that before dying, the other president had set the oil wells on fire. The fire was big. Bigger than any fire seen on the earth. Hundreds of such fires raged in divine fury. Tons of crude oil got burnt every second. A huge smoke engulfed the sky, which even managed to shadow the sun. A lot of harmful gases rose in the sky.

Far far away, oblivion to the above happenings, Augustus slept in a peaceful slumber. He had been sleeping for five months. While some of the readers might call him a lazy bastard, let me assure you that it’s a normal behavior for polar bears who rule the North Pole. They hibernate for almost five months in the winter. There was a pleasant smile on his face as he dreamt. Augustus sat chomping on the baby seals while the sun shone over the Tundra region. It was very very beautiful because the sun never sets there in the summer. There were plenty of baby seals to eat. After that he would mate with someone he loved and go back to hibernation at the onset of winters.

And suddenly, it was time to get up. Augustus had woken up after those five long months. If you happen to be a polar bear, which I know you are not because polar bears cannot read, but still, and were to wake up after five months, first thing you would realize would be how terribly hungry you are. And being a normal polar bear that he was, Augustus was no exception to this divine rule. He was terribly hungry but food will have to wait. He had to ravel a few hundred miles on the Arctic Ocean before he could gobble the baby seals. (On the Arctic Ocean because it would be under a thick blanket of ice). Augustus licked his tongue. It would definitely be worth the wait.

Augustus got out of the snow that had blanketed him in the last five months and started his pre-meal walk, slowly, step by step. He got down from the snow mountain he had slept on and started his walk on the Arctic ice. The sun was just beginning to rise and it wouldn’t set for another six months. Things seemed normal. What he didn’t know, however, was that the very sun was heating the earth up, more than what it was supposed to.

The first few miles were crossed without any trouble. However, things seemed slightly unusual after that. What? – he was unable to say. Perhaps the ice seemed softer or may be less cold. ‘Whatever!’, he thought remembering the baby seals he would eat.

After a while, just as he was walking, Augustus’ forepaw sank into the ice until it actually touched the water below it. It was strange. This was something that had never happened before. Of course, he wasn’t endowed with a degree in physics to understand phase transition.

He had barely removed his forepaw from the ice when his other forepaw too sank into the ice. And suddenly the earth, or should I say the ice, under his feet gave away and Augustus’ two ton body splashed into the arctic. He began to panic and splashed even more which caused the ice banks to break and he found himself in an even bigger pool of deep water. Somehow, he managed to get himself together and climbed back on to the ice.

As I had said before, Augustus didn’t know much of physics. Rather he didn’t know any physics and wasn’t a good swimmer. All this is, of course, true for all the polar bears, which is just to convey that Augustus was not a dimwit amongst fellow polar bears.However, Augustus, having roughed up in the wild stretches of the North Pole, had superb natural instincts. What he did was this – he spread his four legs away almost up to a point that his soft belly touched the ground. As a result he exerted lesser pressure on the ice and began to move ahead. The sight would have looked pathetic to his creator. Here was a giant animal, powerful animal moving like a coward, slowly on the ice his ancestors had ruled since probably the ice age.

The sun, meanwhile, continued its mission of melting the polar cap. The ice began to melt even quicker. And suddenly, there was all water around Augustus. Augustus sank deep into the water. He paddled hard and managed to come to the surface. There was no land to be seen. Had he slept longer than what he was supposed to? Had he started his journey in a wrong direction? Augustus couldn’t think. He started paddling his feet frantically. He didn’t know what else could he do. He didn’t know what was wrong. He gulped a huge amount of seawater and coughed. What the hell was happening? He began to panic as his life began to flash in front of his eyes. It mostly included eating baby seals and the snow. What was water doing here? Ah! The seals. He smiled and drowned.

Far away, the victorious president woke up from his peaceful sleep and read about his victory on the front page of his favorite newspaper. He turned to another page that showed a photograph of some dead polar bear drowned in some place he had never heard of. He smiled a satisfied smile as he tossed the paper away.