Monday, October 26, 2009

Bajne de zara!

Bhelcome!! You are extremely privileged to get a FREE (if you discount your internet browsing charges, the electricity bill and the cost of the strawberry popcorn you are munching now - kya kahan? no popcorn? Sheesh! What a cheapskate!) poolside view into the mind of the last living individual remnant of the band of geniuses ( one of the former members of the band being a certain Einstein gentleman ). Haanji. This is another of my random blogical ejaculations, that have now attained quarterly frequency. To tanik attension pay karke padhiyega. Mind it!!

Note - If you haven't spotted the humor in the above lines and are reading this abnormally long (tall!) post in the hope of stumbling upon gems of wisdom, keys to world peace and all that, I assure you, you have just keyed in the wrong url. A better way to attain the above would be listening to 'Mann ka Radio' on full blast or better, watching Karzzz (I have watched it twice and let's save that story for another day.. err.. era).

The past couple of months have been crazy at work. I had been entrusted a new responsibility and I took it to heart, to say the least. Late working days had become the norm and I don't remember reaching home before 9 pm. While there was the compulsion to finish the work against strict timelines, I think, to a certain level, I had become so involved in the responsibility that I didn't mind staying back and working. And that is very scary. Period.

A number of consequences have come up as a result. For one, I have been subjected to barbs from a number of friends and colleagues, not to mention the 'Kya milta hai tujhe yeh sab karne se' look on Mom dear's face when I reach home at unearthly hours. A colleague on her way out at 8 pm stopped by my desk and asked, "Not leaving?" I looked up and said, "Maybe 9". She - *Rolling eyes* "You workaholic!" and walked off. I was left gaping. Workaholic is not something I thought I'd be called ever.. I mean EVER. Besides she had mouthed 'workaholic', the way Dharmen paaji would have said, ''Kutte kamine, agle 5 saal mein jitne burgers khaoonga, sab mein ketchup nahi, tera khoon use karoonga."

Another colleague asked me if I liked dogs.

Me *unsuspecting accha baccha that I am* "Yes dude"

He - "Hey, then why don't you get one. It'd be great to have a dog at home."

Me - "No man. I don't think we could manage it in a flat."

He - "Well then find some way to manage a dog. You don't go home anyway. Get a dog. Atleast your mom'll have some company."

Me - *Sheepish.. Tail-between-legs-patli-gali-se-kalti syndrome*.. "He he"

Then there was this time we were celebrating traditional day at work. I, ofcourse, remembered it only when I walked onto my floor and found people decked up in an assortment of colors. Yours truly was clothed in the highest traditions handed down to us by our Angrez rulers and immortalized in song by Tramp Kapoor ji - shirt, patloon and joota (there was more but let's not get into that). Within a minute of me settling into my seat, a colleague draped in a resplendent 7-yard-long symbol of Bharatiya naritva walked by, retraced her steps, eyed me, said 'Waste!!' and moved on. She didn't even say it; the word was hurled out of her mouth with maximum contempt. She later lectured me on how I need to look at the good things in life and that work was not everything.

J, my good friend and break-mate has been at it for over a month now. In person during lunch breaks, over the internal IM at all other times, she's been alternating between dark humor, sarcasm, name-calling and downright displays of rage to let me know what a bore I've turned into.

Thankfully, the craze is now waning. A good deal of the work has been done and my life is showing traces of returning to normalcy.

On the home front, Age of Viruses is the latest craze and the battleground in question is my PC - PC here meaning Personal Computer (clarification lest a certain KISs-the-HEN-JI mistake me for a very big fan of our honourable clad-in-the-symbol-of-Dravidian-Purushatva Gruh-Mantri). So, I turn on my computer and then go read the day's ToI (Bombay Times, Navi Mumbai Times, Times Property, iDiva included), get engaged by Mom in one of our 'Why isn't it yet time for her to become a grandma' debates, succeed in stalling off for the time-being and then come back. Bingo! My monitor announces - 'Windows XP is starting up'. Something needs to be done. Quickly.

I missed attending the shaadi's of 2 of my friends - one in Mumbai and one in Kerala, courtesy kaam-ka-chakkar. I felt particularly bad about not being able to be there for the Kerala wedding. We were good friends at college and continue to be so. It's a shame I couldn't be there for him when he really needed me. After all, don't we expect our friends to be with us at our lowest ebb. The saddest part was conveying to him on the morning of his wedding that I wouldn't be there. He said he understood. I'm hoping he did.

It's interesting how much our friends matter to us. I have come around to the view that when a person nears his end of days and looks back onto his life, it is not the wads of currency he earned that matter the most, not the positions he held, not the people he commanded; it is the number of people who continue to love him, the number of people whose lives he added some value to, the people on whose faces he put a smile or a grin (even if it meant acting the clown at times) that matters the most. Aakhir, isn't that what the Creator wired us to do - love God and love people around!

Whoa! That is some gyaan. If feeling dizzy, do spend a moment in silence and ask yourself, 'Isn't it right?'. If still feeling dizzy, plug in your earphones, turn the volume to full blast, set the playlist to loop and add just one song to the playlist. No prizes for guessing - 'Mann ka radio bajne de zara...'


A BIG thanks to good friend, B for coaxing / bugging me into getting back into the habit of posting here. I really want to post more often. I hope it happens. I also hope Osama Bin and Obama Bar meet up for dinner, kiss and make up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Traffic Signal pe

So I went to Vashi. Vashi is at a 30-minute brisk walk from Sanpada – that’s where I stay. It is also at a 10-minute auto-rickshaw ride from my place. Since I'm not keenly interested in challenging Kenneth Mungara when he possibly tries to defend his Mumbai Marathon title next January, I usually take the auto-rickshaw route to Vashi. Ok. I ALWAYS take an auto-rickshaw to Vashi.

The last time I went, the rickshaw driver was in a tearing hurry to get to Vashi for God-knows-why. That was when the second most powerful entity on Mumbai's roads - The Traffic Signal stepped into the game. A small switch in it’s pre-programmed circuitry, a green light turned red and all traffic in our lane ground to a halt. The Mumbai based road-farer wouldn't of course dare to ask what the most powerful entity on roads is. For the benefit of those residents of Planet Earth deprived of the Mumbaikar experience, H.E. Emperor PoTHoLe rules Mumbai's roads by day and night.

120 seconds at a traffic signal is what it takes to bear witness to the fact that Mumbai is indeed the land of opportunities. A rag-clad girl holding a rag-less baby asking for alms, a teenager trying to sell yellow flannel napkins, an urchin who would ‘wipe’ your automobile windshield and then ask compensation for the ‘work’ just done, a clap-happy transvestite who would clap or abuse his way to earnings – its all in a day’s business.

The teenager who urgently walked towards our auto-rickshaw had more sought-after wares to sell. He held a palm full of strings, each of which was strung with a lemon and two green chillies. The lemon-chillies talisman is widely believed in India to ward off the ‘evil eye’. The evil eye – that draconian, invisible entity that strikes fear in peoples’ hearts, high and low alike. I have seen more than one rich and mighty individual build a palatial house to the most aesthetic of designs and then hang a not-so-very-aesthetic huge black doll on the outside, to ward off the evil eye, the ‘drishti’ or the ‘nazar’. So here came our lemon-chillies guy; our ‘Schumacher-till-I-get-a-red-signal’ auto-rickshaw driver took one look at him and then inspected the lemon-chillies charm that was already tied to his rickshaw handle. The once-green lemon had now dried up and the chillies were crumpling. Too weak to repel an evil eye, he decided.

He bought two fresh talismans, each costing Rs.10. One, he tied to the rickshaw handle in place of the older that he yanked off and threw onto the street. The other, he asked the lemon-chillies charm ‘vendor’ to tie to the rear bumper of the rickshaw. The teenager returned in a few seconds - ‘Ho gaya saab’. Two 10 Re. notes exchanged hands and the vendor rushed off to the next vehicle, in his endeavor to make the world an evil eye-free place, of course for a small fee.

A few more seconds left for the signal to turn green, vehicles that had turned off their engines to ‘Save fuel, Save India’ were revving up again. The rickshaw driver suddenly got out of the vehicle as if he had just remembered something and rushed to the rear. He came back with a grin. He had gone to check if the vendor had actually tied the charm. He had.

I couldn’t suppress a smile. In the business of faith, trust is a rare commodity. The traffic light turned green and our auto-rickshaw sped on, ‘luckier’, more confident.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Thursday

It was a Thursday. As I walked out of Sanpada station, I saw two children squatting on the footpath. They were naked - not a thread clothing their dirt-covered bodies. Mucus running down their noses, they sat there in the sun, as a lady wearing rags tried to fix up their breakfast. The lady was perhaps their mother or just an accomplice in the begging syndicate "business" they were involved in. I'm not sure if she was fixing them a meal out of motherly love or fraternal compulsion. I walked towards the adjacent bus station to catch my bus to Vashi and something that I had heard someone say came back to me, "There are no ordinary children. Every child has a name, a passion, a story to tell and a place in history. There are no ordinary children."

Those children must have been aged between 2 and 3 yrs; old enough to have a name, a passion and stories to tell. Did they have them? I don't know. I think yes. Will they ever have their place in history? I don't know.

/*** Caution - Post khatam. Random bakwaas ahead ***/
400+ is the number of days since I last posted here. No, I wasn't away on a NASA sponsored manganese-ore finding mission to Saturn. While I understand that would be the only sane reason to justify my inability to post, that just wasn't the case. I was very much around. Lets say I just didn't feel like doing it; Or perhaps I didn't push myself to gather my thoughts and post them. I made efforts - lots of them. I made false starts - started penning down a post here, collating my thoughts there, but never went the whole hog. Saving the regrets for another post. Well! So here I am. Again :)

Note kiya jaaye Melaard - San Pada is where I live. It is an upmarket neighbourhood bordering San Franciso. Yeah. I know. That sounds preposterous. In fact, Sanpada is just the opposite. Its a typical 'ghar' type area in Navi Mumbai, and I've come to love the place over the last 3 years.