Sunday, December 31, 2006 0 reflections

Revisiting Resolutions Regardless

DESPITE THE FACT THAT only a few I have known actually bother talking about New Year resolutions, I feel obligated to write about it for personal reasons. A year of committing to something has come to pass me by. Safe to say that this is one of the few, rare in fact, instances in my life where I have actually bothered, nay managed, to fulfill a promise I made myself. Does that make me sound disconcerted? Oh why not. Who isn’t?

Much like the jolly old chap Santa, who I had mentioned about in one my earlier posts, resolving to keep a promise to one’s good own self is also about hope. Who cares if I decide to take up yoga and burn off those extra calories next year? Who is concerned that I will consciously try and read more books during 2007? As a matter of fact, neither am I. If it happens, it will be a completely unplanned and totally random event as far as I am concerned. I belong to that part of the social fabric that is terrible at planning for it. Tell me to organize a party or a social reunion, I am your man. But tell me to ensure I will take the metro every time I step out of the house it is more likely I’d instinctively hail a cab the first chance I get.

People wonder what kind of individuals can keep promises made to others when they can’t even hold on to their own. You will be amazed how much better off you are with that kind which is, least of all, self obsessed.

But I have hope in myself. And why shouldn’t I? I will be 29 next March and that puts me in a delicate age range where I am expected to be committed. To myself, to others and of course, to resolutions that I pretend I plan for. And that very hope is what makes me not want to wonder about what I will try to improve my lifestyle in two double zero seven.

Thinking about such things makes me nervous. Since once a plan, as tentative as it maybe, enters your system the needless pressure of having to follow it up begins. As I said, being answerable to your own self is the worse. Resolutions are like mirrors that keep looking at you every passing day of the year. Do I want to live each moment with that disturbing glare? I think not.

Let’s take my ’06 for instance. I had never planned to write (read finish) a complete book and publish it. I actually managed to do it. The one major milestone of being an officially published writer is mine for life. Who’d have thought I would become part of a major Internet initiative like I’d be the last person for that guess. But it happened. Launched in November ’06 the website is getting more hits everyday. The feedback and positive energy I have seen about it is just keeping me more inspired to go on with it. Who’d have thought I would get my articles published in leading newspapers across India at least a dozen times? And of course, who on earth would have guessed I would start blogs! Believe me when I tell you, when I went to bed on December 31, 2006 I had none of this planned. All I had on mind is the hope that the New Year would be pleasant and uneventful.

And it was. For the most part anyway. Life is all about ups and downs. Things you can neither plan for nor predict. Resolving to do something important with yourself can only be truly accomplished if you are trying to get rid of a vice. That is the only single thing you can ever accomplish and actually see the difference right away. No negatives there as far as I can tell.

So do yourselves a favor this year, don’t make any resolutions. Revisit your life around March, and see what needs to be changed. If you are happy with it let it be. And if you are not then don’t worry too much. Hopefully you will get to it in the remaining days of the year. Revisiting is always fun. Isn’t it?

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007 everyone. Live it up.


Saturday, December 30, 2006 0 reflections

The good ones are always taken

Sagar had tried to alter his schedule to hit the bazaar early. It had involved some near impossible feats like him getting up with an alarm on a weekend. This, in itself, had to be a true event of oddity he had partaken in almost a year. Notwithstanding the week’s fatigue at work, he had managed to drag himself out of his blissful oasis of dreamful slumber. A quick shower and a hasty breakfast later, he was ready.

Morning crowd slowly trickled into the brightly lit open spaced aisles of the supermarket. Every section of the society he knew was there, pushing their carts into the various columns of prosperous perishables. Sagar’s eyes were particularly aimed at the vegetables section. He knew it was the third Saturday of the month, and that meant only one thing – fresh bitter gourd. If there was one thing he loved more than cooking it, was buying it. There was something about the quiet victory in getting a handful of the farm fresh vegetable that gave him immense pleasure. Born into a culture that thrived on good appetite he wasn’t any different.

The squeaky wheels of his rusting shopping cart were headed to their destination. A few more meters of travel and he would have achieved the one thing that had made him get up at an unearthly hour on a holiday. A rapid yet well angled turn to the right and there it was. Heaped in a perfect little bundle, it was glistening under the brightness emanated by the lights around. A few curious onlookers hovered around making a beehive of hands and faces. He had to act quick. As he approached that section, his heart skipped a beat as a dull yet familiar emotion came over him. A few more steps and his emotion had turned into reality.

It was all over. Only ten to eleven sad looking rejects stared back at the sharp frown on Sagar’s face. ‘Take us or leave us,’ they seemed to say. He looked around at the soft giggle that seemed to echo from within the passers by who had once again gained access to his ambitious goal before he could. Three more Saturdays, he thought to himself as he gingerly picked up whatever remained and looked remotely edible.

The unfortunate part of his story is, however, larger than just this one episode. He has faced similar situations almost everywhere he has gone. Be it getting the good seat at the cinema or be it hailing a healthy looking taxi-cab on a busy afternoon. Be it wanting to chat up cute girls or be it fishing out the kind of T Shirt he always fancied. The good ones are always taken.

But being the perseverant example of a human being that he is, he pacifies and rationalizes his near success attempts by giving himself a bonus. ‘Good guys always finish last,’ he maintains as he gleefully boils his favorite spiced bitter gourd curry. His hope relies on the reverse concept, that since he is a ‘good one’, he will be taken soon.

We wish him all the best with his concept in 2007.

0 reflections

Too good is too bad?

Not a generation has gone by without feeling the heat of this culture. For decades this concept of ‘too good is too bad’ has existed. Why? Because we allowed it to.

In the 1990s came a revolutionary concept called ‘Seinfeld’ in the United States. And with it came a cult following that believed in ‘nothingness’. It was the first show that gained popularity of being about nothing. For close to ten years Seinfeld ruled the roost with its ground breaking themes and out-of-the-seat funny episodes. It looked like there was nothing that could top this genre of comedy in the sitcom scene. Millions of dollars were made enough to feed a few generations to come for the people involved in this production.

Once the show was off air so were the lives of the lead characters. Till date, except with very strict exceptions, none of the characters have been able to carve a similar kind of success for themselves. They got stereotyped for life.

This is not something that plagues only sitcoms in the United States. Almost every country in the world has that one miracle success story that could never be repeated. There are several examples from the Indian entertainment scene that fit this example. People who were so mind bogglingly awesome that it was impossible for them to be anyone else but those characters. Characters like Gabbar Singh from Sholay, or Mogambo from Mr. India or Rama Shastri from Nagarahavu in Kannada. These are shadows that get attached to the performer for life. Nothing he/she will ever do surpass that. Success may come, but in the proportion of that initial impression.

Take Dr. Vittal Rao from the mini series – Silli Lalli – on ETV Kannada channel. Hands down it is one of the most outrageously hilarious and genuinely funny characters that have been ever created. The supporting cast is equally competent, but Rao’s character covers more range in terms of emotional quotients.

What is the problem with it? He got typecast. Anything he ever does from this point on, post Silli Lalli, will always be a yard shorter than his portrayal of Dr. Rao. Performers like him, and the ones listed above, have a tough task to deal with. Their performance is so good that they find it impossible to live up to with their follow up assignments. Rarely, has there been an odd man out, who was able to come out of that shell of infinite seeming fame. It is not known to happen often though.

Sad but true. Apparently being too good in the entertainment business is not always the best thing to do. Pace yourselves people, since there is always a future ahead.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 2 reflections

the PITAR syndrome

I was introduced to this syndrome by my good friend Theju. I use the word ‘introduce’ with caution since I later realized that I had shown symptoms of it long before I actually acknowledged its existence in me. It all began one breezy afternoon when we were returning from college. At a traffic light we paused on my modest Kinetic Honda ZX as an auto rickshaw coughed to a halt next to us. Instinctively, Theju and I had fallen once again to the famous PITAR syndrome that seems to have special affection only to people of dear Bengaluru.

Let me first explain to you what PITAR means - ‘Peek Inside The Auto Rickshaw’. A swift and drifting gaze into the occupancy of the auto rickshaw that stands next to you at a traffic light. Why? Well…maybe you will see someone you know sitting there and might want to start a brief conversation. Why else? Well…you might find someone you wish you knew sitting there.

This sort of random behavior only seemed to happen between two wheelers and auto rickshaws. No other automotive combo presented such a reaction by their occupants. The other discovery I made was that most of the time it was the male gender who would be exhibiting PITAR symptoms. I never once saw a female two wheeler rider look into the auto rickshaw I was in. Never. They were PITAR free.

I also realized that some of the PITAR victims were more affected by it than others. They would stare longer at their targets than others in their clan. While some would look at the footwear of the target then others would glare at their watch. It wasn’t for too long but it was long enough to make the other person uncomfortable. All in all, the making of a disturbing trend.

I further noticed that if the auto rickshaw occupant was a male and the PITAR infected person was a male too, then the glare would rarely extend to the face. It usually hovered around the arms, legs, hands or any other materialistic item such as bags, books etc the rickshaw occupant possessed.

But why does PITAR exist? Is it boredom of having to wait till the light turned green? Is it the lack of company on the pillion seat that made these people look at strangers and analyze them? I have not found the answer to this but one thing I am sure of. This is not going away anytime soon. Since PITAR inflicted folk don’t know they have it. It is as natural to them as say, eating. They never realized they learnt it but now they can’t do anything to get rid of it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 0 reflections

:: the loud silences::

The whisper was strong enough to pierce the silence that inhabited the dark corridors. The dull aroma of dying paper filled the night that settled around like quiet fog.
‘Yes yes…you…over here brother!’ the whisper continued.
Nehru looked around and found Gandhi looking back at him with a grin.
‘Aren’t you asleep yet?’ asked a visibly surprised Nehru.
‘Oh…’ moaned Gandhi exhaling a deep one. ‘Sleep left me ages ago. It has been close to a decade when I slept in satisfaction of being useful.’
Nehru smiled back as a response to Gandhi’s complaint. He knew what Gandhi meant.
‘It seems that everyday this place is getting quieter and darker. Don’t you think?’
Nehru looked around.
‘I don’t know,’ he responded after a moment of reflective inspection. ‘It is active during the day time. I have heard people walking around. Some of them pass by here as well. I am sure you have seen that too. You are right across me!’
‘Sure…sure…’ Gandhi’s feeble whisper echoed back. ‘They come and go. No one stops here anymore. No one wants to hear what we have to say. Makes me wonder what it was all for. Look at the dust here. Looks like a haunted place.’
‘Hmm…’ said Nehru. ‘Well...I think we did OK.’
‘Of course!’ screamed Gandhi hitting a high tone. A pitch that echoed in the gloomy silence of the corridor like a child's cry for help.
‘You are the one to talk!’ he continued. ‘You got to be the Prime Minister for God knows how many years. Of course you had it OK. What did I get? I spent a lifetime spreading peace and truth and got a bullet in my chest as a reward.’
Gandhi mumbled something to himself which might have been a vent of frustration.
‘Oh come one…’ Nehru said trying to sooth the old man down. ‘Did you know they are making movies on you these days. Your philosophy. They call it Gandhigiri!’
‘What? Really?’
They both chuckled briefly.
‘Ah…Gandhigiri. Guess no one seems interested in Nehrugiri, eh?’ said Gandhi feeling a little better.
Nehru was silent. He smiled back.
‘But still…’ continued Gandhi’s cracking whisper ‘I wish they would come visit us sometime. We have so much left to share! So much to give. Some of our concepts are universal don’t you think?’
Nehru nodded in approval.
‘I wish we could be used again. The silence these days is the loudest thing I hear. It keeps me up all the time.’
‘For God’s sake!’ they heard a disturbed voice pierce through their chatter.
‘Will you two be quiet! I am trying to get some sleep here!’
‘Oh! Mr. Tagore! How are you doing?’ asked Gandhi who seemed glad to have annoyed Tagore.
‘If you must know. No one visits me either. So I too am not doing good,’ responded Tagore faintly.
‘Not surprisingly. Which one are you?’ asked Nehru.
‘Geetanjali. And you?’
‘Discovery of India.’
‘No one seems to experiment with truth anymore,’ said Gandhi closing his cover. ‘It’s all over. All over…’
The three continued looking into space as the other books in that part of the library continued to sleep in undisturbed peace.

Monday, December 25, 2006 0 reflections

Merry Xmas to everyone!

Please click ON the card to send it to your loved ones...

Sunday, December 24, 2006 0 reflections

:: the lullaby ::

She shifts uncomfortably in the prison cell. It has been a long day for her yet sleep seems to evade her eyes. The cold earth that has cracked open in a random pattern seems to be the only comfort she has to look forward to. She starts to measure the width of the room with her swollen legs. She sighs in despair as the final count does not seem to please her. Her eyes reluctantly look at the pale patches of blood on the wall. Distinct spots of dry blood stare back at her sorrowful face. She murmurs something slowly to herself as her empty eyes fill with quiet tears. She sniffs after a moment of silent weeping and looks away.
Her thoughts now drift to her loved ones. Her family. Her friends. She thinks back to the happier days. Days when she was loved by them all. A time when she was wanted and cared for. Faces and voices seem to take shape on the lifeless walls that surround her existence. She sees her parents there. Her friends and relatives. She sees her brother. A cold shiver of shock suddenly emerges and vanishes in her heart.
The reflection of those times bygone vanishes in the flashes sent down by the heavens outside. The merciless rain has not stopped in several days, she ponders. She smiles to herself faintly as she wonders if the skies are crying with her, or for her.
Her thoughts then shift to her unborn child. She caresses her seven month old stomach gently with her hand and starts singing a soft and soothing lullaby. She walks over to the grilled window of the small cell and continues to hum looking at the dark heavens whose floodgates seem to be open with a supernatural force.
‘Are you still awake?’ she hears a man scream from behind her. ‘Do you not know it is past midnight? Go back to bed now! Come on!’ he thunders with a scowl of disgust.
‘Let her be! She is only singing!’ shouts another man’s voice confronting the previous one.
‘Don’t make me come in there! You both will have to pay!’ shouts the former one again.
‘It is alright,’ she softly tells her husband as she turns away from the window. ‘My child knows all the songs without even singing it.’
She walks up to him and sits down beside him.
‘I hope this one makes it Devaki,’ says her husband looking at her pregnant stomach. ‘We cannot afford one more stain on that wall. I cannot survive another one of those,’ he says choking a little.
‘Don’t worry. I have a feeling this one will. I just know it. Now go back to sleep,’ she tells her husband as she continues to stroke the sleeping Almighty inside her warm belly.

2 reflections

:: the window ::

The black discs studded in the white of her eyes are motionless. It is as though they got stuck in a moment. She sits unsmilingly gazing outside her window at the continuous flow of heads below on the crowded street. The array of sounds the world underneath her generates is disturbingly soothing to her lost senses. She starts braiding her long and black head of hair into a strong garland of well aligned knots. She hears uneasy footsteps outside her door. A familiar female voice dominates the rest of the vocals in an authoritative tone. For the first time in several minutes, she attempts to smile. A half hearted, half real and half conscious hint of it appears and briefly holds a place on her full lips. Her relaxed posture seems to emanate a calm and serene essence into the partially lit room. The window she sits at is the only source of natural light the room has seen in all its existence. The door creaks open in a hurry as a familiar female voice shrieks behind her.
‘What are you doing? Aren’t you ready yet? How long will you take? It is time!’
She does not move. She continues to braid her hair which has now almost reached an end. In a few more minutes her long forest of shocking black will resemble the flowered headdress of a bride.
‘Are you listening to me?’ the voice continues as her gaze shifts from the crowd to the visitor’s face. ‘You have five minutes. Do you hear me?’
The visitor grunts in unhidden fury and walks out slamming the door shut.
Her smile recedes into a dull emotionless shot of stillness. She stops braiding her hair which looks spectacular in the sunshine that peers from outside the window. She walks up to the old wooden dresser and looks at herself in the foggy mirror there. She slowly starts removing the tough knots that had appeared so beautiful on her tress just moments ago. Short lived, once again.
‘This way, sir,’ she hears the voice from outside the door again. ‘Please go in. She is ready. We all know she is your favorite’ the voice continues with an unnatural giggle.
She turns towards the door and sees a familiar face there. She smiles again and walks up to the window to close it this time. No lights required for her anymore. She is a bride once again and her groom is someone else this time. Her braid comes lose as her hair starts dancing in the final gasps of air that enter the window she closes. Soon her window to the world is closed once more.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 3 reflections

- existing in pieces - NOW AVAILABLE!!!

YES! It has finally happened. After several weeks of editing and inhumane proofreading I have finally made my paperback book - existing in pieces - available for people to buy online. Please click on the image above (or on this link ) to visit the place where you can buy it from. I hope my readers are able to share my world of words with this first attempt of mine.

Also check out the all NEW website launched exclusively for this book -

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 0 reflections

shubhashaya :: [Kannada Greeting Card Website]

Sunday, December 03, 2006 3 reflections

The thrill of a kill

The lethal gloom was apparent. Her nose twitched involuntarily as she looked down upon her latest victim. The weapon used was still in her hand. Happy to have finally been used.

‘You left me no choice buddy,’ she murmured fully aware that she was not being heard.

It all had been so sudden that she suddenly had no memory of having struck the blow.

She let out an extended gasp and collapsed against the wall. The sweat trickled down her spine keeping her awake. Aware. She looked at the dull lamp that lit the room and felt hypnotized under the morose effect it was emanating.

Her fuzzy thoughts took her back to the planning that had gone into this. The various schemes she had drawn out with her partner. The tension that filled those discussions was still fresh in her memory. She felt nauseous at the sight of the blood that trickled from the edge of her weapon.

She flung it to one corner of the room. She was finally glad she could hear herself breathe. She wiped the sweat beads on her forehead and cheek with the sleeve of her T Shirt. She glanced at the motionless body of her victim.

‘Gone with the wind…’ she said to herself with a disturbing giggle.

‘Are you done?’ whispered her partner from outside the room.

‘Yeah…yeah…’ she said with an air of modest confidence.

‘This is not my first time. Yet it feels like one every time I do it’ she added.

‘You are sick. How can you enjoy this?’ the partner whispered coarsely.

‘Hey!’ she yelled ‘One of us had to do it? This was the best shot we had! You chickened out so I did you a favor pal.’

‘Whatever…’ the voice behind the door said,

She sat there admiring her latest execution. She was thrilled at the thought of how she was getting so good at it.

‘Just one shot…’ she said after a few seconds of reflection ‘that’s all I needed. Just one good shot. I should consider baseball seriously.’

She got up lazily and walked towards the door. Her partner stood outside squirming at the sight of the whole incident.

‘Alright…’ she said walking past him ‘…be a man now. Go in and dispose him off. I am not doing that bit. I need a shower. I smell awful.’

He let out a grunt of frustration and walked in with a plastic bag. He kept telling himself this would be the last time he would get involved in the killing of a rodent.

‘These guys are getting smarter each day. No more traps for them…’ he murmured as he reluctantly picked up the dead mouse and placed it into the bag.

5 reflections

Religious Inspiration

The gloss on the posters was still intact. They seemed to be fresh ones. They were the kind one could see during major Hindu festivals in the city. The kind that was so bright and vibrant that one’s attention would be caught immediately.

The range it covered was quite a wide one. Everyone from Lord Vishnu to Lord Ganesha was on display. If one were on a tour of Hinduism then this seemed like the spot to be.

‘Impressive,’ said one passer by as he watched the display.

‘Indeed,’ said another pausing to kick up a conversation.

The chill of the early morning was still in the air as these men wore caps that covered their ears and carried a rolled up newspaper under their arms.

‘This had to happen one day you know,’ continued the first passer by pensively.

‘He had no choice…’ said the other one equally thoughtful.

They stood there admiring the colorful display of glossy posters that adorned that cream colored wall.

‘Looks like a temple now!’ said the first passerby with a chuckle.

‘Can he do that? I mean is it legal?’ the other passerby enquired.

‘Oh! Of course. Not a first time in the neighborhood. I have seen this done before.’


‘Well,’ said the first passerby conclusively ‘whatever helps Mr. Rao keep his wall from being urinated on. The smell was unbearable.’


They resumed their walk with the newspapers under their arms.

1 reflections

A moment in time

The translucent curtain of darkness and light played between them. No other power, man made or supernatural, could take away the moment they were sharing.

She looked into his hopeful eyes and smiled. A smile so mesmerizing that he knew he would never forget it even if he wanted to. It had registered deep in the mysterious chambers of his aching heart and there was no way he could make a conscious attempt to reach those spots.

‘Do you love me?’ he asked her as her hair cascaded down like a fountain of infinite happiness.

‘No,’ she said mischievously giggling and trying to get away from him.

‘Will you be mine forever?’ he seemed to ask her as he watched her million-dollar smile.

‘Never,’ she responded looking like an immaculate version of the soul mate he had always desired.

They were one, for a brief moment, across the translucency that enveloped them like a silent snowfall.

Their eyes continued to appreciate each other’s company when he heard a whisper. Something so intrusive that he felt like pulling out a dagger and pushing it through the throat of its source.

His moment with her was in disarray. The split second notion of having been hers was gone.

Possibly forever.

He turned to the whispering and clearly anxious voice.

‘What is it?’ he impatiently asked wondering what mighty force might have motivated the ridiculously ill timed intermission.

‘It is interval now…lets go before everyone else does…’ the voice continued.

The lights came on and the darkness vanished like it had never been there. He and his friend walked out to get some popcorn and a cola.

They wanted to come back and watch the previews.

Friday, November 24, 2006 13 reflections

existing in pieces - my first paperback book

YES! It has finally happened. After several weeks of editing and inhumane proofreading I have finally made my paperback book - existing in pieces - available for people to buy online. Please click on the image above (or on this link ) to visit the place where you can buy it from. I hope my readers are able to share my world of words with this first attempt of mine.

Also check out the all NEW website launched exclusively for this book -

Thank you very much.

Thursday, November 16, 2006 3 reflections

Absolutely nothing...

An excess of anything is a risky proposition, I had heard somewhere. The meaning of this expression found roots in the fact that individuals tend to do something too many times and too often. Why this is a bad thing? Well there is always the fear of becoming an addict. Even if it involves something as noble as reading or writing there are ways to make an individual less productive in everything else, was an opinion I had heard.

I had pondered a few moons ago about the ease with which people are able to communicate in today’s world. In fact communication using various media is now more a lifestyle and less of a luxury. With changing hands of the masters’ around the world media and communication is definitely one of the best used commodities out there. Everything between Emails to snail mails stand proof to a planet that once upon a moon used birds to send across messages. All the gadgets from cell phones to answering machines are visible entities that make being in touch someone’s idea of a joke.

Fair enough.

But then here lies my wondering. Are we communicating too much? Are all this rapid and user-friendly communication channels making us forget the concept of ‘missing’ someone? Don’t we need to pace ourselves in a way that the other person has some gap in time where he/she can actually wonder about our whereabouts? Counter-productive features of these various technologies are becoming more apparent with each passing day.

I see some people at work who are stuck to their cell phones all the time. It’s true! Every time I see them they are either a) on the cell phone or b) checking their SMS on the cell phone or c) Checking their emails on a website/cell phone or d) all of the above. Its bizarre to think that these people actually believe they are so important that there is someone out there, a different person every time perhaps, who is actually missing them and checking to see how they are doing. Who are these people? And what is with the ‘I am needed’ complex they have? I find it fascinating that they don’t even consider the idea that their acquaintances are actually feeling a little tired of their attention seeking lifestyle.

This situation is only going to get worse with changing times and generations. It has now come to a point where actual email exchanges happen where I write ‘What’s happening?’ and the other person says ‘Absolutely nothing. How about you?’ and I say the same.

Suddenly using birds to exchange greetings seems like a wonderful idea. Maybe by the time they reach their destination we would have done something worth talking about.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 2 reflections

The twelve square existence

The Sunday newspapers would be spread eagled across Sagar’s room. The colorful illustrations in the additional pages would hold his attention till the last printed word. Everything from which socialite got groped at which event to why the new Bollywood sensation considered the industry sleazy would find an audience in him. He just had to know it all. Did it matter that these were things he would never discuss with anyone? Of course not. He liked to call them his ‘guilty pleasures’.

Apart from the Page 3 sections and the multi-boxed cartoon segments if there was one other column he never missed it was the one labeled ‘This Week For You’. Sitting cozily next to faces he never remembered would be his future printed in bold letters for the week ahead. Without a second thought he would pace his forefinger down to a square with the word ‘Aquarius (January 21 – February 19)’ and hastily skim through the highlights. His father’s loud requests for the ‘color section’ of the Sunday newspaper would fade away as he tried to fathom what he could expect in the coming week.

‘Don’t waste your time on that. Those things are a complete hoax anyway. Not everything they write applies to every Aquarian in the world, you know. Your future is what you make of it’ would be his father’s argument against the twelve square column. As much as Sagar would be tempted to agree with his old man there was always an ounce of uncontrollable inquisitiveness that would get the better of him.

His personal favorite was always ‘Love life looking good. You and your partner will spend a lot of time together.’ He would, week after week, hope that he finds that illusive ‘partner’ since he could not wait for his love life to be spent in bliss. He somehow fancied meeting her in random places like supermarkets or his scooter garage. She would, he thought, fly in with her shiny Scooty motorbike and park it right next to him. Just like in the movies, he would say to himself. She would alight, glance at him with those gorgeous eyes and flick her cascading hair from one side to another with a haunting smile.

Sagar was a hopeless case of never ending hope as this routine went on for years.

On occasion he would ignore the forecast of his non-existent love life and focus on more practical seeming issues. Finance, sports, family and of course, travel to distant lands. On the weeks that had foreign tour predicted he would await some sign all the time that he would be called away on an ‘assignment’ by a foreign land. Every country from Australia to Burma was on his list. On occasion he would also wish he applied for a passport in case of an emergency situation were he needed to fly out midnight.

Never once did any such call come. His relatives wouldn’t invite him to places inside his own state in India so getting out of the country seemed a far cry. But he never lost hope in his twelve squares. He would religiously visit it every Sunday arranging his plans as required.

When Sagar did eventually get the overseas assignment almost ten years later he was 24. He had still not applied for a passport when he was offered the job so his father had to pull some major strings to get him one. He somehow managed to make it just in time and flew out of the nation with a smile on his face and faith in the predictions.

He has been abroad for five years now. He still continues to read the twelve squares every weekend with the same childish enthusiasm he once had. It still serves as a guessing game to see what he needs to do or avoid the next week.

‘It took me almost a decade to get one thing true’ he sometimes says to himself ‘so maybe I will meet her in a supermarket in ten more years.’ He has realized that the ‘twelve square column’ might have delayed justice but did not deny it to him.

He keeps his eye open in supermarkets every weekend hoping another column follower is out there doing the same thing.

Saturday, November 04, 2006 2 reflections

Just Another Day...

He shuts the door of his apartment like he always has. Carefully ensuring that the keys are properly turned in the right direction. He turns around and walks towards the sleepy elevators of his floor. On reaching there he presses the arrow pointing downwards. The mechanical device shudders into coherence at this unexpected seeming action. The red LED display starts ascending from ‘G’ all the way to ‘8’ as he patiently waits for the doors to open.

He steps in and sees her standing in the corner of the elevator. She is wearing a cherry colored cotton salwar and a matching veil today, he reflects. Her hair cascades down her shoulders like they always have. Her immaculate smile seems the same as the previous day. Her presence soon fills the rather cozy elevator as the doors close and the slow descent begins.

She does not say anything but he knows she is there. Looking and smiling at him. Trying to get his attention so that he may turn around and smile back at her. Her soft giggle fills his silent surroundings and echoes around the closed space like a calm snowfall.

The elevator reaches ‘G’. He steps out into the apartment building lobby. As he walks past the neatly decorated showpiece and the gleaming mirror, he spots her again next to his reflection in it. Her familiar smile continues to follow his footsteps as he gets out of the building and onto the cold and partially lit main street.

The lazily moving traffic awakens what remains of his sleep as he gets onto the footpath and starts walking towards the metro station. His path is strewn with familiar sights and sounds of the city waking up with a long yawn. He hops past the silent bus station becoming more aware of the cold that envelopes his warm heart. He walks past the friendly kiosk and finds her standing there looking at him with those sparkling eyes. He pretends not to notice her as he continues his daily trail. Today will be a different day, he reassures himself.

He now gets off the main street and cuts into a dark and silent alley which he considers a reliable shortcut. The sleepy alley echoes the chirpings of invisible birds. He uncomfortably shifts his briefcase from one hand to the other. The sound of his footsteps seem like a gentle rhythm to the birds' songs. He walks out of the alley and spots her waiting for him at the entrance of the metro station. Her mischievous grin reminds him of the soft rays of the sun that is still not completely up. He walks up to her, moves away and continues past her affectionate and complaining glare. He can tell she is not appreciating his careless attitude. He knows her too well to be able to communicate without words. Those expressive eyes are quite possibly the most amazing thing he has ever seen in his life, he reflects.

He reaches his terminal in the next few minutes. He looks around and notices that he is one of the first ones there. His train is due to arrive in ten minutes, he reads. He walks to a sitting bench nearby and places his case as he settles down. She walks up to him and sits right beside him. Looking at him with the smile he can never forget.

They sit there for the next ten minutes. Silent. Motionless. Just aware of each other’s presence. She continues to be with him as the low roar of the train crescendos into lethal existence. The atomic speck of light gradually grows and shoots out of the black tunnel like a rabid beast out to kill. He sees the both of them in the reflections the train emits as it passes them in an insane sense of urgency.

A few stray papers fly about the half-empty station as the machine comes to a long squeaky halt. Others on the station get up hastily and walk up to the doors nearest to them as they wait for it to open.

He gets up and picks up his case. He starts walking towards the doors that open wide. He stops. Looks back and finds that she is no longer there. Only her veil remains with a slight flutter of the new storm the train has managed to kick up. He does not bother picking it up since he knows she will.

He steps into the train with a weak smile of realization. Aware. Awake. He settles down as the train chugs into a maniacal ascent. She reappears on a seat not far away. Smiling. Teasing. Waving. Her child-like innocence is hard to look past but he has to.

He ignores her and looks out into the darkness hoping that he will forget his true love someday.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006 10 reflections

'Certain Topics'

The grunt of frustration from his parents would become all too familiar for Sagar as the days rolled by. Every time an 'A' feature showed up on their modest ‘Doordarshan’ he would be told to retire to his room. He often wondered just how ‘door’ this ‘darshan’ really was since apparently he was not fit to be part of it. Growing up in a society paranoid to discuss basic human behavior would only further push his inquisitive self to explore. The taboo of certain acts being a distasteful and disgusting topic would only make him fonder towards it. The illusive story of the birds and the bees had no context for him as he was introduced to the chaotic world of the genders in a rather bizarre fashion. The well timed anecdotes at family gatherings would have him wonder about its underlying meaning. The ill worded obscenities at school would have him trying to dissect their true form for better understanding. None of what he was being exposed to would prepare him for the truth.

‘Kids these days are sick and mentally ill! What is wrong with them? We never even dreamt of such a thing or we’d be skinned alive!’ his enraged father had shouted at the top of his lungs when he had heard of a friend’s teenage son caught with some ‘bad’ magazines. ‘They should all be hospitalized and given shock treatment, I say…’ he had continued under Sagar’s watchful gaze to try and drive home the point that the certain topics were off limits. That had put an effective end to all of Sagar’s questions and endless pondering surrounding ‘certain topics’ from the home front.

There was always someone who knew more than Sagar about these issues. If it was not his elder cousins then it was his younger brother. It seemed impossible to completely understand what exactly everyone was trying to hide with such passion. And why was it considered a terrible thing to discuss? Woven into a social fabric that did not allow free talk of ‘certain topics’, Sagar had to rely on the bits and pieces of random information he would get from these so called ‘veterans’ in the field. The sad part, however, would be that Sagar’s query list would only increase with each discovery. And sadly enough those queries would remain unanswered for a long time.

‘Oh they just have to be with each other. That’s all. Nine months later the baby arrives’ said one genius. The other would revise that version with a more polished ‘They drink something which makes babies appear’ which according to Sagar seemed a lot reasonable than the first one. A few more versions involved everything from babies growing on ‘special trees’ to babies being hatched out of ‘special eggs’ that the mother would have to eat with her food. Despite all this if there was one common strand it seemed to be that the man and woman had to be together for any of these formulae to work. Sagar found this process fascinating yet very complex.

More light dawned upon his eager mind as he bombarded his poor Biology teacher who reluctantly discussed ‘The Reproductive System’ at school one day. No one had their hands up more than our dear man as he pounded the lady with his ‘designer queries’. As the girls giggled amongst themselves and the boys threw paper balls at him, Sagar braved it out to try and figure out the clue which held this puzzle in place. Many had officially labeled him the ‘class clown’ since most of this questions were funny. The teacher’s responses to them were funnier. All his efforts to try and capture the true meaning of ‘certain topics’ had been in vain since all the technical jargon had not made much sense to him.

Circa 1997 was the ‘grand technology invasion’ in India. A time where information was said to be on the fingertips of the common man. A time when the Internet was becoming a popular mode to gain and retain knowledge. A time when Sagar would, for the first time in his life, depend on a computer to completely understand the ins and outs of ‘certain topics’. As sad as this seemed that he was getting more information from a machine than his own kin, Sagar was learning nonetheless. He realized half of what he had heard was a big pile of partial gibberish. The other half was just plain wrong.

Sagar is approaching his 30s now. Nothing more left out there for him to learn about ‘certain topics’. Everything from literature to graphic representations has made way into his knowledge base. Looking back at the nature of the topic though, he wonders what the big deal really was. He is saddened by the fact that he had to go through more than a decade of endless exploration to learn what he now knows. The near-mortal mental torture he had to put up with seems unfair. He feels like smiling when he realizes he has learnt more than he had ever wanted to thanks to the ‘fingertip tech’. The whole process of growing out of that awkward stage of risky ignorance seems a joke when compared to the ease with which material is available today. He also realizes that if he were put in a position to educate a young mind some day he probably will not threaten to skin him for bringing up ‘certain topics’.

He would probably be doing the young soul a favor by opening up this Pandora’s Box anyway. The sooner the better, isn’t it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 2 reflections


I know ‘maturification’ is not a word. But how else would one describe a state where reality intersects with fantasy? What term could best define these bizarre cross roads we keep running into in life? Which sentence can do justice to this never ending process of making a thousand quick and tough decisions every passing day? I know we all were told growing up was hard but not once were we made aware of how it was much more than that. Turns out despite the height of a person coming to halt growing itself never finds an end.

I hate it when people start preaching to me about the philosophies of adult life. The infinite ways in which life is not fair and how it puts us in situations that do not make sense. We get it. Maybe partially but we still get it. But is that enough? Does hearing about something so obscure really prepare us get through this rather turbulent phase of our lives? What should we do to try and keep ourselves sane and satisfied? Where is it that real content of the mind resides? Maybe tracing our past will help construct our present and future. So here is my attempt to do the same.

Phase 1: Explore

Each decade comes with its own set of protocols. The first ten years of our life is all about exploration. We are new to almost everything that moves. As a matter of fact we are new to everything that doesn’t too. But we are blissfully unaware of anything else except our immediate needs – Food, Fun, Sleep and Love. That pretty much sums up our basic instincts during that phase. Everyone who smiles at us is a friend and everyone who is not our parent is an uncle or an aunty. Life is so simple.

Phase 2: Experiment

Then comes the worse part of human growth – the second decade. The ages between 11 and 20. I think this is the slot where personality and character finds foundation. This is the phase where individuals are free to experiment all they want with themselves and others. They can experiment with everything from cigarettes to pornography. They push the envelope of rules and regulations with almost everyone. They are put into stereotypical groups – the nerdy, the cool, the boring, the lonely, the weird, the stupid, the bad and the ugly. All of us, invariably, fall into this complex group of branches. We struggle day after day to be recognized or to be left alone. Either way by the time we are 20…we are who we are today. No major changes can be expected of us from this point. Maturification, as it seems, has already begun.

Phase 3: Expand

This definition we seek for ourselves never really finds a solid shape. In fact, the experimentation phase is just scratching the surface of continuously challenging ourselves with new ways of misery. Our connections and relationships with people around us start getting a clearer priority during this decade. The problem with this phase, as I stand at the end of it myself, is being able to constantly re-define your associations. People who once you thought were great might not be the best after all. Your ‘idols’ in whatever your passion is come out as flawed individuals who make you seem foolish. The real challenge in this phase seems to be to know when to say the right thing and how. The true meaning of being a rationale adult seems to be feeling secure and sane. The ongoing chaotic struggle with our inner selves and our exterior presentation gets fought bitterly each wake moment. Keeping that balance seems like an impossible talk. But…as most of our ancestors did, we know we will get through. We have to.

Phase 4: Everything Else

I am still wondering about this one since it has not passed me by. Maturification happens at various stages and leaves us with more questions than answers. A process that seems so complex that a small write up like this one can never do justice to it. The unpredictability is probably what makes this journey so unique since one never knows what to expect. No amount of pre-planning ever works out despite having a dozen fail-safe methods in place. Venting it out, like I just did, might help keep that sanity factor between reality and fantasy.

A factor which is quite vital once you are dealing with ‘everything else’.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 11 reflections

A whole new word

A popular joke in school was asking someone what the 'longest short word' in English was. As the poor soul responded back a feeble ‘I don’t know’ we would laugh back with a well timed ‘Mile!’ Looking back as I am quite embarrassed to admit having been part of this silly ritual myself, I also have to add that I didn’t know any better. To me these jokes made sense. They were timeless classics. A ‘mile’ was always longer than a ‘kilometer’ but shorter in length.

When I first started writing I strictly adhered to a few words that came easily to me. I did not want to use words whose meanings were hard to find. I would keep my good old Oxford dictionary (with tons of random doodles on its pages) as my reliable guide and venture out. I knew I would never have to change my style even if the future was an unknown.

From such humble beginnings my vocabulary leapfrogged into further obscurity with the invasion of technology. Words that had a clear and precise meaning till then no longer had the same context. I started using them into my regular language without even realizing what it was doing to my writing skills. English, as it were, had stepped into some abstract area. My first brush with such a word was ‘Log In’. All my life I had known a log was a piece of wood from which Donald Duck occasionally tripped over but I had never realized how the word ‘in’ got stuck with it. To make it worse I was introduced to ‘Log Out’.

Once I had consumed these two rather small but context-heavy words, there was no looking back. I went on to greener pastures with words like ‘code’, ‘server’, ‘compile’, ‘boot’, ‘reboot’, ‘warm boot’, ‘cold boot’, ‘floppy’, et al. My personal favorite was ‘floppy’ since somehow the word ‘flop’ which earlier was associated with failure had now a whole new meaning. Being ‘floppy’ed was trendy. It was considered ‘cool’.

Years passed on and as the writer inside me suffered in silence I made merry with my updated vocabulary. ‘Floppy’ soon went extinct and in came ‘CD’. Not once in my life have I called it a Compact Disk. From there I dabbled into some biological terms like ‘virus’, ‘debug’, ‘quarantine’ and ‘infection’. I also dealt with governmental/official terms like ‘corruption’, 'transfer', 'quit', 'upgrade' and ‘copy’. I then moved onto scarier zones with violent sounding words like ‘cut’, ‘hack’, ‘burn’, 'delete' and ‘crash’. Words I had never used before in a regular sentence was now part of a daily routine.

‘Oh don’t worry. I will burn that file for you. ’ I would say without a blink.

A decade ago such a statement would have sent my father running to fetch a bucket of water and a blanket in case I injure myself. But today even he is trendy enough to say things like ‘I will scan and shoot across the papers to your inbox. Do you want them as JPG or GIF?’

The latest buzz with me is ‘seed’ and ‘leech’. I could almost hear my rather old fashioned aunt gasp when I told her I was ‘seeding on KT for the last few days'. I had to explain to her that KT was a website where I downloaded movies from and not ‘Katie’. She was a phone call away from pressing the panic button all across my family tree.

I am pretty sure she is still not convinced.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 2 reflections

Found in translation

Life in Latin American countries is a linguistic roller coaster ride. One never really gets a complete hang of the dialect despite coming from a well versed nation like India. This truth dawned on me quite early on during my tenure here but I am stumbling upon new discoveries each passing day.

It all began when my boss began responding with a ‘See…’ every time I spoke to him about something important. As unorthodox as that response was, being used to English as a main mode of communication back home, I would wait for him to continue his thought. As in ‘See….the thing is…’ and so on.

He never did. That was the end of his response. One word. ‘See’.

A few days later I realized the truth behind his bizarre responses. He had gotten so used to speaking in Espanol (Spanish for the uninitiated) that he looked past the fact that he was talking to a newbie. ‘See’ had not meant ‘seeing’. It sure sounded like it but was actually ‘Si’ as in ‘Yes’ in Spanish.

My first lesson in Spanish – Si. The one word that sailed me through many a turbulent time. The only time tested way to get a cabbie to bring you home safe. All you had to do was agree with whatever he was saying. Si.

With time and experience comes knowledge. Not all of it is always worth retaining but the bits that do stay behind are life savers. My second brush with a mixed up word came when I heard someone yell out ‘Mira!’ at a dinner party. I was quite excited to know there was someone named Mira at the party. I even toyed with the idea of letting her know my name had Krishna in it. You know…ice breakers. A few minutes later I realized ‘Mira’ meant ‘Look!’ in Spanish. I got so used to it that when my cousin Meera actually came down to India last Christmas I showed her my new laptop and said ‘Mira Meera!’ Being a Californian she got the joke.

Thus began my research of homonyms in Spanish and my base languages – Hindi and Kannada. Within the first few attempts I had actually assembled an exhaustive list of over 50 words that sounded the same. Some had amusing translations like the word ‘papi’. In Hindi and Kannada it meant ‘Sinner’ but in Spanish it meant ‘Daddy’. Other interesting ones included ‘Sala’ which meant ‘room’ in Spanish but meant ‘loan’ in Kannada and ‘brother-in-law’ in Hindi. Interesting patterns emerged with words like ‘cama’ which meant ‘bed’ in Spanish but also meant ‘lust’ in Hindi and Kannada. Not far from the truth, I thought.

The best anecdote I found was at a friend’s wedding when I realized the word for marriage was ‘boda’ in Spanish. I mentioned to him that it meant ‘a bald man’ in Kannada. He chuckled at me and responded ‘Not surprising. I am so sure I will be a boda after this boda. Do you know how much this thing is costing me?’


Click here to view some of my Homonyms

Friday, October 20, 2006 5 reflections

Well lit memories...

The humble streets that had seen Sagar grow up were now posh neighborhoods. His eyes lit up with amazement as he passed by one wonderfully designed apartment building after another when he returned home the first time. He was at a strange zone where he no longer could distinguish between his past and his present. Everything seemed to have changed so quickly that his attitude of remaining simple no longer held context. He was now a part of a more sophisticated social fabric that he could not run away from.

His roots are connected to patches of earth where happiness has no connection to wealth. His beginnings are made of patterns where satisfaction does not find source in material. Being together and spending time with family is one of the only memories he has left worth mentioning. Every year he would be almost embarrassed to carry the clay idol of Lord Ganesha bare foot across the crowded market place in a steel plate with uncooked rice in it. He would find visiting children annoying when they would come up and enquire if his house had Ganesha’s idol in it. He was frustrated at the never ending beeline of relatives who would come and appreciate his mother’s fine art work during Dussehra. The whole backstage workload of having to get the boxes down and unpacking the thousands of dolls and accessories would make him bitter. On many an occasion he would find a reason to get out of the house to escape helping his family during such festivities. He would reluctantly follow his father and brother into the front yard to burst a cracker during Diwali. The sound and debris associated with his father’s excited freestyle dancing would make him run back into the house. During the Sankranti festival he would detest the thought of going to every house in his street to distribute sugarcane and sesame seeds. ‘I don’t want to do it!’ he would yell back at his patient mother who would almost beg him to carry on tradition. The lack of a daughter, she would say, was a lifelong pain.

Times changed and so did his attitude with such annual festivities. With age he became more tolerant than careless. He would go along for the ride just to avoid being yelled at. He would help out just to prevent his father from reading his frustration. Being an open book no longer seemed endearing.

Tomorrow is Diwali again. Another year for Sagar to send across dozens of electronic greeting cards with animated lighting and pleasant words. One more occasion for him to exchange greetings with those he considers his own. This time, however, he does not do it because he has to. He does it because he wants to.

His alien host is filled with gloomy clouds instead of the bright blue he remembers. His next door neighbors know nothing about Diwali’s enthusiasm. His friends and colleagues do not understand the need to dress up and burn paper filled with explosives. But Sagar does. He now longs for those warm evenings when he would help his mother light a flower pot. The smell of burnt gunpowder and lazy clay pots with dying lamps would bring a familiar peace to his mind. He now reminiscences about the ‘10000-wala’ firecracker chain that would thunder for what seemed like eternity. His lonely mind is now filled with images of friends dropping by with sweet boxes with golden ribbons and a genuine smile. Moments etched in his nostalgia that reflect his journey.

Yes. Sagar now cares. This Diwali his festive season is filled with these well lit memories. He now looks out the window of his apartment into the pouring rain and sees bright little lamps burning in the distance. He sees his family waving to him from across the foreign sheet of relentless thunder.

He smiles and waves back.

Wishing everyone a wonderful and well lit Diwali / Deepavali this year. Play Safe & Stay Safe.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 0 reflections

Fake, Naturally

Someone mentioned the words 'Artificial Intelligence' the other day. It sounded like a pretty interesting thing to be part of but in essence meant nothing more than 'borrowed intellect' I thought. There was something about the word 'Artificial' that has always made me associate it with something untrue. Something fictitious.

Regardless AI is a blazing theory today and is breaking ground in more places than one. In the fields of science and technology there are folks who swear by this concept. 'Borrowed Intellect' sure sounds brilliant as far as AI is concerned.

But unfortunately this revolutionary concept of modified truth ends its trail right there. Since everything else that is artificial in this world is anything but intelligent. When I moved to Venezuela I was introduced to the fairy-tale concept of ‘beauty’. It was like I was living in some Utopian society where everyone was too perfect to be true. Creatures that seemed to be popping out of Greek mythologies with the perfect smiles and the clear skin. How was it possible that I was living in a city filled with such timeless beauties?

My childish wondering came to a rather abrupt halt when I realized all that it took to become one of them was a little ‘Nip/Tuck’. Cosmetic surgery has revolutionized the concept of ‘self-esteem’. In countries like Venezuela the charges of this is so low that people fly in from all over the world for this purpose. What a place it should be where people come to become beautiful. Shallow? Maybe. Interesting? Definitely. What’s more is this is not limited only to women either. Men too, in smaller proportions, are going in for lifts and fix to start looking like the naked statues outside secretariats in Washington.

The biggest word for me back home was ‘Plastic Surgery’. When I saw faces magically transformed from hideous to gorgeous in Indian movies I would sit dumbfounded at the miracle this kind of science was. Face value, as it seemed, had indeed increased.

American shows like ‘Extreme Makeover’, ‘The Swan’ and ‘Dr. 90210’ only added more fuel to this already bubbling beauty pot. Looking good was automatically associated with brilliance, confidence and success. I wonder what Mr. Einstein or Mr. R K Narayan would say had they been around. It has now come to a point where every time I meet someone I wonder what part of their body might be ‘artificial’. It is like my own little guessing game.

The best came when I was passing the hallway and one of my colleagues was dropping something into her eyes. I asked her what it was to which she responded ‘Oh this? Artificial tears.’


Monday, October 16, 2006 4 reflections

Living with a shadow

Two is a crowd when one starts living alone. Having lived with my parents all my life the concept of living alone sounded too juicy. To me the bottom line of such living (and considering I am no different from any average male out there) was independence of what I could (or did not) wear. I could do whatever I wanted to. If I felt like getting up at three in the morning for some left over slice of black forest then so be it. Switching on the television all day even if I was never in front of it was just fine. This was my personal island and I was the only habitant. I made the rules. I broke them.

The beauty of such living is it changes your personality in such a subtle manner that the realization comes to you as a shock. Simple things that enhance you as a person start coming to light. For instance, the one thing you get better at almost immediately is your auditory skills. In a matter of weeks you are a master of every single clink and thud in your house. You know what the stove should sound like. You know what the washer and drier will do when it stops. You are so aware at one point that the slightest hint of an alien sound will make you get up and investigate. This might seem like borderline paranoia to an untrained eye but those of us who do this know that we are doing the right thing.

The other amazing thing about being with yourself is your voice enhancement. Lets face it. We won’t be partying all the time will we? Neither will we be entertaining friends round the clock. So this means there is always a window wide open for you to talk to yourself. Contrary to popular belief this is not a bad thing at all. In the six years I have been with myself I cannot even begin to tell you the things I have learnt about the way I sound. All this tends to get mixed up in the sounds and sights of a life with a family.

Another advantage of an island life is knowing more about oneself. For instance, I never knew I was such an anti-kitchen person. The idea of flipping over pancakes for breakfast only looks good in a sitcom series. When it comes to reality I would rather be the guy eating it with maple syrup than the one making it. I also learnt I hate alarm clocks. Being a person who was usually woken up by someone all my life I had never really needed an alarm. This probably explains why I missed the initial few weeks of ‘alarming friendship' since I hated a machine yelling by me at five in the morning. But then much like a castaway I had to befriend the thing.

In such dwelling survival becomes a key and thanks to today’s various technological advancements this is not such a big deal. Any external interference can be easily filtered out. This is not quite possible when one lives with family or others. My first shocking realization of this happened when I was told I needed to carry my cell phone at all times when I retuned back home for the first time. ‘Call us if you are late!’ was the advice I got. And sure enough, having gotten used to not calling home I conveniently forgot. Oh the words I had to hear later that night is something etched in memory. Yes. Living alone did not include this in its package deal. My little island seemed so wonderful that night. I could not wait to get back.

I love my family. I really do. But there comes a time when after having lived with a shadow for company, you want to go back to that. You no longer find it soothing that someone is waking you up. You miss your annoying little alarm. You no longer can walk into the kitchen in your underwear without your mother screaming her head off. You no longer can come back home at three in the morning and go to bed without some extra audio effects.

My next immediate challenge is the notion of living with my ‘soul mate’ as it were. Only one island dweller can truly appreciate the life of another. A classic case of takes one to know and live with one. I hope she too comes from an island and recognizes my island’s rules (or the lack of it thereof). It could get tricky otherwise, isn’t it? Let us hope it does not.


Sunday, October 15, 2006 2 reflections

Weeping for a stranger

If there is one thing life has taught me it is this – caring for someone other than what means to you is nearly impossible. I say this with a lot of caution since we live in a world that is always striving to be politically correct to everyone except politics itself. When I would meet people who would claim genuine compassion for others I would always wonder if they really meant it. If I were to put them in a room that could be like a morality X-Ray, if you will, then would the ‘real ones’ show a different structure? What does it take for us human beings to actually find it within ourselves to actually care about anyone else but us? Why make a special attempt at this if being compassionate is a human nature? What causes the varying degree of ‘compassion ratio’ in all of us? And is that really a bad thing?

These questions haunted me every single day of my late teens. I mention the era since this is when a human actually starts becoming the kind of person he/she will be for the rest of their lives. This very attribute makes this phase one of the trickiest ones there is. It is suffice to say that this was probably when most of our well known humanitarians decided to dedicate their entire lives in the service of others. What could they have possibly seen or heard that we did not? How did it happen that they got the natural inclination for this while the rest of us were too busy trying to get a date? Was there some sort of unique gene construction that made them who they became later in lives or was their personal suffering a part of the change they wanted to see?

So many questions. I had a professor once who said a good lesson is one where you walk away with more questions than answers. Being a caring human apparently seems to be one of those life long lessons. Some get it in the very first lecture. Others keep reappearing time and again to try and understand why this is important.

‘The struggle is the glory’ I had heard a preacher once say. This is the life humanitarians lead all over the world. Visiting people and societies where the biggest battle is to attain things we take for granted. When I watch footage of such societies in places like Africa and Asia on the National Geographic, I would be so repulsed by the sights that I would thank my stars for the remote control in my hand. But with age comes a time when one asks the question ‘Why did you change the channel? Are you not the kind who can stand others suffering and grief? Are you really that superficial and self-involved?’

The answer, unfortunately, to most of the questions above is probably just that. Yes. We are shallow and extremely superficial people who like the idea of helping but our compassion ends with a thought. Our explanation is ‘Oh there is always someone else out there to do the dirty work so why bother!’ which is probably true but then is that how one should satisfy the all-knowing conscience? Is that not really the most disgusting sight? A shallow and meaningless conscience?

Recently I had to suffer a brief eye-related illness and was in extreme pain for a couple of days. An eye-patch, the limited vision, the incoherent walking, the eye drops… the whole nine yards. I felt I had been cursed for some previous sin and that I was the one in the most pain. A few days after the illness faded I was walking down the street one evening when I saw a blind beggar on the street singing a local folk song with a bowl of pennies in front of him. As I walked by him my personal experience with partial blindness flashed in front of my eyes. I could absolutely not imagine living a life like that. I would rather kill myself than be on a street somewhere with no vision and a broken violin for a living. To me my social representation was larger than becoming a public property like this man.

But as I walked by I turned around and for a moment thought I saw the blind man smiling in my direction. Maybe he had read my mind with his X-Ray moral structure and seemed to say ‘You will do the same if you are in my position. You could change your viewpoint or live your life as a shallow coward.'

I wondered later if it really was all about that. Our point of views. I guess the people who did become humanitarians did just that. Changed their viewpoint in their late teens and never looked the same again. I may not be equipped with the faculty to become one myself but I salute everyone who is saving a stranger and weeping for their lives.

A few days later I saw the same show on the National Geographic. This time I decided to watch.

I knew I had to start somewhere.


Monday, October 09, 2006 6 reflections

DOR - A mirror to good cinema...

Simple movies are the hardest to make in India. Being a traditionally colorful culture that subdues to the varying degrees of pomp and glitz, it is rare that something so simple yet powerful comes across.

‘Dor’ comes from the able hands of my personal favorite Nagesh Kukunoor. The man who revolutionized the so called ‘parallel cinema’ by giving it a relatable look with the classic- ‘Hyderabad Blues’. With time his understanding of the cinematic life cycle has only matured and this is quite evident in his recent works.

I was on the flight from Frankfurt to Bangalore when I happened to see his brush with India’s real religion – Cricket. ‘Iqbal’ brought to light more than just a story. It brought to me glimpses of an India we all can relate with. An ounce of style with the right amount of emotion made me appreciate this creative genius as I flew over unknown land specks that evening. It was then that I realized that Nagesh was more than just a movie maker. He was indeed a ‘mirror maker’ who had showen us visions of various parts of our own society. Parts we rarely get to see. Parts that are easily forgotten in the razzmatazz of everything else that surrounds us.

At the risk of trying to avoid this write up from becoming another review, I am attempting to capture the mood of the feature rather than the semantics of it. ‘Dor’ goes across the nation towards the Northern part of the country. Two stories running parallel to each other but united by one tragic cause. We have a story of a couple from the foothills of a valley in Himachal Pradesh. We have another story of another couple from the dune hills of Rajasthan. People from two completely varying faiths and cultural limitations find each other in the face of a tragedy. Simple people with not so simple challenges. People like you and me.

But then ‘Dor’ is so much more than just that. It is about the ignored woman section in India. It is about their eternal struggle in a male-dominant world. It is about the anguish a young widow faces in her close minded and medieval society. It is about a friendship that is born out of grief and put to test. A test that can easily make or break it. It is about mending broken hearts and ailing relationships. It is about hope that is so easily lost in the chaotic lives we are part of.

‘Dor’ is about the delicate threads that bind us as human beings.

Indians have always been fed on a rich diet of fiction and endless melodrama. To escape from reality is the easy way out but to own up to it and reflect upon it takes a bigger individual. ‘Dor’ attempts at encouraging us starry-eyed scapegoats to pause and look into that mirror we live in.

As I said, simple yet powerful representations like ‘Dor’ are easy to ignore. But it only adds up to the injustice such genuine pieces of work meet with. I sincerely hope this is not the case with ‘Dor’. Do yourself a favor and be a part of this qualitative journey for once.

As for me, I have found my mirror and I acknowledge what I see. I hope you can do the same.


Sunday, October 08, 2006 1 reflections

About a date...

India woke up to the concept of dating quite a while ago. Thanks to the many channels of global influence, we found ourselves wanting to go on a ‘date’. Somehow this seemed to be the manliest achievement for the crowd still in between things in life. After fire, if there was one creation man was really proud of it had to be this – a date.

This did not really sink into my humble self up until I had passed my 18th year of existence. Coming from a family with no female siblings my natural association with girls was not at its peak anyway. Being in a unisex crowd was hard enough but mustering the courage to actually ask a girl on a ‘date’ seemed a far fetched notion.

Certain ideas change definitions with location. The same happened with me as I traveled overseas. Back home, there was no such thing as walking into a bar and bumping into a girl there. For starters, the word ‘bar’ was always associated with a vice. The expression ‘Bar and Restaurant’ has a whole other story of its own. Needless to say the actual location of this so called ‘date’ was a tad askew. The next thing I noticed about the dating rituals here was that everything had a process. A guy was supposed to dress this way. A girl was supposed to say these words. He was supposed to pick her up and drop her off. A typical (read good kind) date was almost always in the evenings with a good chance of intimacy. A lot of excruciating details about this ritual seemed to emerge.

Back home, dating was nothing more than a movie and lunch. Of course the girl had to make sure no one saw her so she would have her dupatta (veil) around her head the whole time. I later realized that the only reason she would agree to a movie was because it was dark inside and so chances of her being ‘caught’ would be slim. Here the guy was pumping up his ego by thinking he had achieved something grand without realizing the girl is trying not to be seen with this fellow the whole time. Sad but true.

It has been a while since I have lived in India and maybe the concept of casual dating has indeed changed. Maybe it has become more like the western world after all. Reminds me of when I told my professor that I had to leave class early since I had a date. He responded with a naïve look ‘Today is the 12th.’ I hope he now understands this concept better than I ever did.

3 reflections

Age of 'Innocence'

According to me as a child, there are only two things that satisfy the confused little soul – Chocolates and Cartoons. If there is not enough of one then there is always another to get hyped up with. I remember my Sunday mornings being filled with Spiderman, Tom & Jerry and He-Man features.

As a child if there was one safe place for me that was not my house, it was those incomplete and geometrically impossible landscapes of these cartoon worlds. The neatly decorated house where Tom would mercilessly chase little Jerry around in was a personal favorite. The well painted and spotless roads of Disney would be an immediate treat. I always wanted to live in that place with those characters. I also loved the fact that even if Donald Duck walked off a cliff he would still land safely back on earth with nothing much than a funny bruise. I also liked it when Jerry would bang Tom with everything from hammers, tree trunks, large metal balls or chainsaws and yet Tom would be fit and fine immediately! Yes. There was no death in those worlds, I thought.

But as an adult this feel fades away at some point. You continue enjoy watching them but no longer wish to be part of that world. This probably because you have realized they are all fake and that the reality you live in seems more soothing. With this realization comes another one. These 'cartoon representations' of life are so violent! I mean, can you really imagine chasing someone down the road with a lit bomb, catching up with him, opening his mouth and shoving it down his throat! Can you expect him to get a smoke out of his hair and faint clumsily as a result! I don't think so. While there is a good chance you might kill yourself in the process, the gallows is also a neat option that you have. I realized that there was no way reality can ever imitate what is shown in the cartoons. The other thing I also realized is these might be a good reason why kids these days are so violent. With time the amount of hate crime shown in these 'innocent' animations have only grown darker and scarier. Take the harmless seeming 'Happy Tree Friends' as an example. These innocent seeming creatures find the worse way to die at the end of each "chapter". Death, as it seems, is no longer a subtle option. It is a definite one.

But again, I might be wrong. With such meaningless action shown maybe we are grooming the innocent mind to mature faster than it should. Nevertheless, this is something to think about the next time you see Goofy dive into a waterless pool and crack his body into a hundred pieces.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 3 reflections

Stop stopping India!

One more bandh has left us. One more state is crippled for an entire day. One more daily wage worker has probably gone without food today. One more emergency has turned into a tragedy without public transport or first aid. Yes. One more ‘successful’ bandh has been executed in modern India.

The concept of a bandh was the product of civil disobedience during the British Raj. A bandh was the non-violent way of shutting down everything for a certain period of time. The victory was supposedly sending a strong word of protest without doing anything. The gist was to call for a bandh anytime something was supposed to be done. The logic was the administration would cave in since it could not afford such loss from a single day. So what started off as a non-violent movement slowly started becoming synonymous with violence itself. Here lies the irony of this concept. I agree this might have worked in a day and age where not going to work was a feasible option. But India is growing out of control with each passing day. Shutting down one major city in the country for one day means nothing less than suicide.

Growing up the word bandh only meant ‘no school’ to me. I never cared to find out anything else about it. Why was it called? Who called it? What was the damage? With time I think Indians got used to the disturbing concept that during such a day, anyone can do anything and go scot-free. You see an open store then go ahead, throw a stone in it or light it on fire and flee. You see a newspaper office sitting quiet with no one around, picket it and take to your heels.

A bandh is clearly more than just protest. It has translated into crime. The kind of crime one would not dare do on a regular working day. So my question is – What exactly is being accomplished apart from this obscure ‘message’ by calling for a bandh? Being democratic what if I choose not to follow it?

People do not stay home to support the cause anymore. They stay home to be safe. The Supreme Court of India has banned such bandhs and has even fined a couple of political parties in the past. But this is not enough. We need to stop ‘bandhs’ from happening by getting out there anyway. The true and democratic way of opposing something should be by holding a rally somewhere near places like the Vidhana Souda where no commoners are allowed.

As for us common citizens - please let us carry on our lives and country forward. Please stop stopping India!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 4 reflections

Wisdom in one column

Life as a writer is all about being read. Your genre and style of writing seems to form coherence when you actually see it responded to. As an aspiring writer of sorts, if there was one passion I always treasured it was seeing my name in print. At the time when the words 'Computer' and 'Internet' were unheard of I would fill thousands of pages with my thoughts. It ranged from silly narrations to presumptuous social commentary about the world around me. I always liked the idea of being called a ‘prodigy’ since somehow riding on that elephant waving at millions of live audience on Republic Day seemed like the ultimate goal in life. I would spend most of my Sundays buried writing everything from the greatest incomplete novel to the shortest short story.

Early teens became late 20s as my lifestyle changed with the invasion of technology. From the humble bound pages of ‘Vidya’ notebook I went on to an HP Notebook. I went from refilling my ink pen to connecting my mouse into the laptop. I had managed to retain the writing but somehow managed to forget the source it came from. Nevertheless the writer in me lived on. My writing matured with time as I realized usage of complex words randomly in stories did not indicate style and sophistication. I had to keep it simple and natural. Perhaps this was the only way the writer in me would be satisfied to an extent.

Hunger to let others know about what I think increased like the crescendo of morning traffic in India. My words found way into the web pages on the Internet. My thoughts now had a medium to broadcast themselves with. But was anyone listening? The written word needed context else I felt like I was talking to myself. This was no fun since I knew I would agree with myself. So the next stop was ensuring it was strategically placed at a spot where others would pass by. Some stopped, looked, read, shrugged and moved on. Others stopped, looked, read, wondered, responded and moved on. Others returned and still do.

The greatest achievement came to me when I was published in a leading newspaper in India – Deccan Herald for the first time. My joy knew no bounds that day. Despite the fact that the article would be old and forgotten in 24 hours I still held on to this timeless gift.

The writer in me now yearns for a column of my own that will hopefully come to me some day. A real estate with my photograph smiling back at the reader with a hint of pride and a pinch of wisdom.

The hunger for words is the worst kind as I package all this wisdom into one column each day.

Sunday, October 01, 2006 2 reflections

Democracy ke Side/Effects

Knowledge is the key to all happiness. This is the truth we have been conditioned to understand. Be it the crawling stages of infancy or the crawling careers of adult life – knowledge is what matters. And to a large extent this is true as well. All success in the world in any field is thanks to knowledge. The more we know the more we can achieve.

To a simpleton like me this makes perfect sense. Life is not that simple though. Knowledge is like fire. An excellent servant but a cruel master. There are some areas where the more you know, the less you are aware.

I was recently watching a movie which deals with the most common and debatable urban theme in India – Marriage. There was nothing new in the movie that I had not seen before. Fear of commitment, fear of relationships, fear of responsibility, and fear of babies. Fear of pretty much everything. A phobia that covers all that is supposed to be good and natural. As I watched the feature I realized one of the reasons why we are equally confused about getting married is because of the applications we have seen of it. They have seen it work, suffer, blow up, die, cry, laugh and of course, split up like the atom into various portions. With the increasing influence of democratic voices in India this process is anything but getting easier. To add to this already chaotic curry pot we have movies pushing the envelope of our patience with this subject.

For people like me who are on the verge of marital calling it helps with the exposure to various viewpoints. But it does not help with making our personal decision. On the one hand we have our family to please. On the other we have ourselves to please. Making that jump from an independent individual to a married one is always tricky, as it seems. There are surprises all the time but one is supposed to get used to it. New people become part of your 'I know them' circle and associations of the neutral kind are established. Marriage as it appears is getting ready to adapt to a whole new society of people out of whom only one is your 'soul mate'.

This is an infinite cycle of thoughts and decisions. I am sure there will never really be a perfect solution for marriage since uncertainty is probably what keeps it alive. But that still leaves me confused as to who I should rely on. My gut feeling or that of my family's? A movie or those of people already down this road?

As it turns out democracy can also be a pain sometimes.

Friday, September 29, 2006 4 reflections

Go 'Glocal'

During one of our weekly conversations, my father used the word 'Glocal'. The words 'global' and 'local' no longer had any context, he said. 'All that matters now is how Glocal one really is' he continued. I laughed at his wit and word play initially but as I pondered about it I realized how true his statement was.

The planet indeed has lost the context of being a global place. No matter where you live you can always stay in touch with almost anything and anyone in this world. The words 'impossible', 'distance' and 'far away' seem meaningless when it comes to communication in this day and age. Gone are the days when Indians would sit amazed at Dev Anand's NRI exploits around Europe preaching the classic art of love. Gone are the afternoons of gazing at 'white folk' somewhere on a beach in Goa. No more making those long drawn out 'Hello! Hello! Yes…I can hear you! Go on! What?' back to humble Bengaluru from somewhere in the snowed-in New Jersey. Not to mention the very familiar delay that would end up making the ordinarily 15-minute call twice as long.

One of my fears with life abroad was exactly this. The concept of the Internet did exist back then but there was also the added anxiety of the parents being able to use it. How on earth would they get the hang of an Email and check emergency messages? Those fears came to an ease as the Web became as common as a toothbrush. Then came the next big thing – the cell phone. Automatically the Internet was now crammed into our palms. No more trying to get into a cyber cafe and dishing out money to try and get a glimpse of the world. All one had to do was get their thumbs in motion and lo! The world would present itself in its infinite forms.

The advent of the non-stop Internet concept called Broadband seemed unreal when I first heard of it. Just the thought of being able to have 24/7 Internet access from my kitchen while being able to use the phone at the same time! This sounded like something from a fake Star Trek set. But today it has integrated itself into our daily lives so much that we spend more time on the Internet than with the people around us.

Communication sure has come a long way. The advantage of this for people like me, however, is being able to stay connected to their roots without breaking a sweat. Family is just a click away and home is just a smile away.

So how 'Glocal' are you?