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.

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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!