Friday, December 16, 2005


Moon-Buddha: Moon Buddha represents the three faces of Buddha, Old Man, Young Man and Child (

I don’t remember anything else about the day. Initially while beginning this post I thought let’s add some narration to the post and may be some message but then I felt it would take the light off the main thing. So it is what I remember about the true incident of my life which I think has added to my sensitive side. At that time I was residing in Varanasi. I was in class ninth and had joined a coaching center. The classes used to be held in the evenings and by the time the classes ended it used to be fairly dark. Since the coaching was nearby to my house I didn’t have a vehicle to commute instead used to come back on foot.
The road that I used to take to my house was one of the most silent and empty roads to my house. My mother had often told me to take a longer route to home than that road but in order to avoid walking long I still walked the same road. It was also one of the darkest roads with only one street lamp at a bend in the stretch of 100m that branched off the main road and that too was placed closer to the main road so as soon as one had passed the lamp one could only see the dim light of the next lamp. It was a wintry December night. I had attended some class but don’t remember which, I couldn’t have after I had witnessed that incident.
I was wearing a sweater and a jacket but could still feel the cold. It was one of the times of the night when people will prefer to be in the cozy beds inside the thick quilts waiting for the some night movie. It was absolutely mute and except the typical sounds of the crickets at night nothing could be heard. I was walking briskly as I normally do. As I approached the lamp post I looked at the figures beneath the lamp. It was a couple- beggar by appearance. The female was dressed in just one thin sari, torn at places. The light shone on her sari which was as dusty as could be. She was sitting on the ground with her legs crossed and her left leg was shaking some packet on her lap. The packet was wrapped tight with lot of cloth which was dirty again. I realized it would have been her child. She was sitting with her shoulder touching the male. The male had a grim face, with a very much overgrown beard and hair on the head. One might easily mistake such appearance for some miscreants’. But not him!
I noticed them only when I had come closer. He was muttering something but it was inaudible and I could only make out, “” and he was repeatedly shaking his hand with palms open and drawn out. I have seen a lot of beggars but may be he had caught me by surprise or it was poignancy because of my age but I was dumbstruck seeing that. 5 or 6 people passed me by but I didn’t notice them. I didn’t stop but slowed down with my head turning towards them as I walked past the bend. When I was a little into the dark portion of the road I paused for sometime and looked at the couple. The man was still shaking his hand and the woman her leg but the bundle didn’t move at all-their shadow on the ground all the more terrifying. The scene got etched on my mind. When I returned home I couldn’t enjoy watching the TV, I couldn’t even sleep properly. That night in the nightmare (it couldn’t be called a dream) I saw them again and woke in bed with a heavy heart beat and lot of perspiration. I didn’t discuss this with anyone at my home but I at least quit the road the next day. I wanted to do something for the couple. The least that I could do was help with my pocket money. I don’t remember what I decided. But then the next day I was on the same road and hoping to meet the same couple. But they were not there, same with the next evening and other countless evenings until I lost hope. Who knows what happened to them and who knows at all if the child was alive when I saw him, who knows at all if the parents of the child knew he was alive. Even if I was going on that road I would look at the spot. It was as if for some time my whole life had stopped.
It has been 10 years since that experience but sometimes still when it comes back to me I have sort of goose bumps on me. Somehow I find some similarity in the nature of my experience and Gautam Buddha’s. It came through different means but it did move me to slightly change my life. The difference was that it took me couple of incidents to finally “realize” it. I had seen beggars in even more poor state earlier. It’s just the whole scene, my being isolated that day, left to think on my own which made the difference. But difference it is, for times that have past and times to come.

Monday, December 12, 2005


So here begins another movie review taking you through all behind the scenes camaraderie between the actors and the difficulties faced by the crew in shooting the movie. Well if that has fascinated you and you are eager to skip this line only to know some trivia, please go to some other blog because this is exactly what this post is not about. Instead this will be totally personal experiences, take it or leave it, I m tempted to say. To begin I should say that when I first saw the movie from a pirated CD in my hostel on my computer, I dismissed it as a below average mediocre war-movie. I was discouraged by Farhan Akhtar’s next attempt after Dil Chahta Hai. But it’s quite late before I realized what this movie was really about. To others who are still dubbing it as an average war movie have missed the essence of the title of the movie. It’s about disillusion in life, inferiority complex about self identity and about the importance of having a Lakshya (or let’s not lower the importance of the word by calling it goal or ambition) in life without which you can’t justify your identity.

Well, talking of some of the normal features of the movie, it has one of the most inspirational songs I have ever heard, haan yahi rasta hai tera. And again the song main aisa kyun hun is always the basic question we ask to ourselves only and none of the songs are out of the place in the whole story. The relationship of a father and son in a family has never been portrayed better in any other movie. Karan’s family is a typical family which has dreamt of an Udesh kind of future for their son and always judge with him as benchmark. Then his father was one of those who had a Lakshya in his life of restoring the family pride and honour and he reminds Karan of that. The scene in nearly the mid of the second half when Karan calls up his father is one of the most moving scenes I have found. Something that I find has been missing in most of the movies, sometimes even to declare them as a piece of fiction only.
Farhan has the ability to pump life in even cameo characters whose existence is barely acknowledged in most of the Indian movies. He hasn’t left the whole Lakshya thing as a one-point-focus matter. Karan took becoming a lieutenant in the army as a challenge not because of Romi only (which shattered the remaining confidence in him) but because his parents had no confidence in him and everything in the life happened in a conspiring way to boo him down. That’s something close to reality. The war sequences are average but the rock climbing sequence is really awesome. The movie has done real justice to the title and really depicted well the dramatic and sudden change in some person to get control of the life back something which we are most of the time not able to do.

Friday, December 09, 2005


It was a rainy day. Rain had been pouring heavily. The sound of rain hitting my window pane was near deafening. But I was oblivious to all this. She was leaving in a week to New York. It was as if nothing could cheer me up. I tried to cheer me up by watching all my old favourite cartoons but nothing could help. How long the crush has been or was it crush at all I don’t remember and I don’t know but we went to the same school since childhood. The day when she fell ill and couldn’t go, I too had thrown tantrums to go to school and in turn was thrashed. We were with each other through all joy and pain. She had cried when the school captain had called her “fatso”; I was fuming and had risen to settle the score. Thankfully she stopped me from bouncing this now professional boxer. She still laughs at this till today. She again had shed tears when I got hit on the face with football at a match as soon as I was let into the field. Although my nose was bleeding like a water hose let loose I tried not to grimace for I could see her glistening eyes. May be she had become such a part of life that I had assumed her to be there, someone that will always be. But that was not to be.
She had broken the news two weeks back on a bright, cheerful evening. We had gone out to a movie of her choice; you know women, all that crying and tears movie! Why are women like this? They always like everything that is so idiotically sentimental! Then when I bought two tickets in black she broke the news. She would be gone for ever. I was sad, depressed and probably angry too. She had no right to change my life in such a way. I felt something going hollow within me. How would the days seem without her? The film was boring but today it was making some sense or I was forced into making some sense out of this. Shit! What was I thinking…? I am not sure. I mean I wasn’t even sure if the film was boring or not. Why are men like these? Why are they not clear about what they want? Why do they have to put a façade of strength and hardness? Why after all? It was the most silent of the movies we would have gone to.
As I lay in bed sometimes looking out the window, sometimes at the TV which somehow didn’t amuse me much today. I hadn’t got up from bed since morning. I was having so many thoughts none of them in any coherent order. Every now and then used to remember past time and then laugh to myself, then slowly the hollow laugh would vanish questioning black hole size future which was standing in front of me. Sometimes I went very restless and then the other moment my brain berated me and asked to show restraint. After all, I was a man and had to “learn to accept things”. But what if I gave it a try…then my brain said you will lose whatever you have right now and it’s too late. The day was different; they will be so for the times to come. I wanted them to be back like earlier. But this is the cruelty of life; she doesn’t give you that one thing which you want the most. She gives you test first and a bitter lesson afterwards.
Thankfully rain had left the flights cancelled for next two days which somehow seemed too less to say something or get what I wanted, to stop her. But I couldn’t see her go away just like that and then later cry why didn’t I say or do anything. So what if I lose her; ain’t I going to if I say nothing? Yes, she might cry saying that she didn’t expect this from me but I could now see my life ahead without her. Sure it would be hell in any case but having expressed my feelings it will be lot better to cope.
I went and sat beside the window, picked up my cell which she had gifted to me and browsed through contacts to find her name. My fingers felt weak to press the green button. I pressed the red button, put my head on my knee and cried, the noise reverberating in the lonely room of the lonely world but drowned to the outer world in the deafening sound of the rain.

-This would be my first fiction that I have tried writing. I have tried to focus on pain as a stage instead of as a passing event leading to something else.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Well it was my first time and I hadn’t expected it would be so soon. I mean, after b’day parties as an afterthought I somehow knew that I was drawn to it and that I would inevitably turn to it one day but that it would be so soon I didn’t know nor expect. Not that I didn’t think of trying it but then I always used to think what if my relatives come to know of it. I wouldn’t be able to match eyes with them. And I also feared what if something happened. You know the kind of campaigns that they do on DD National that it disrupts family life and brings disaster afterwards. I also feared that I may not be strong-willed enough to resist it further.

Well it all happened because of a moron. My friend Ashu had done some job and had cashed some cool 12k bucks so we asked for some treat. Well as a simple boy, I just asked him to take us to a good hotel and have dinner but there was another friend of ours Vikash, who wanted a treat which as if hasn’t yet been given by anyone in the hostel. Then I saw nature’s conspiracy in pushing me towards the inevitability. It had to be one day and it was today. I tried to resist and said, “bas tu saara time yahi sochte rahiyo, saale tharki, bewade!” He replied “aur tu saara time bachcha hi bane rahiyo”. As you would all understand it was now a matter of aukaat and how could he call me a bachcha. After all I am also mature, I also see porn like him and how can he call me a bachcha. Moreover so many in the world live with it so I can resist it too! In 5 minutes my ego had thrashed all reason. So I said, “chal saale itna hi akad dikha raha hai to aaj chalte hain aur dekhte hain aaj kaun sabse der tak maarta hai”. He too retorted, “dekhte hain!” Then we sought an experienced senior Maddu since even Ashu was not experienced at this and was having qualms of morality. I gave him the same reasons and assured that today it will be Vikash who will be the loser. Maddu asked each of us if we are ready to take this step since later he won’t take the blame for spoiling us. But he was actually trying to scare us and we were determined to end this imperfection once and for all. So we went out, took an auto and reached South-X when it turned in some lane and stopped under a dark building. I was rather weak by now and wished to go back but going back was getting a stamp of bachcha for all the four years, something which no one can afford. The auto wallah was smiling and we were too. We paid him and he went away. At this Maddu said, “tum bachche log chalo main sutta lekar aata hun. Iske bina maja nahin aata”. Bachcha again, this was now insult and I told him, “nahin tu lekar aa tab chalte hain”. But to be honest I was scared, first because I had never visited such place earlier and I could see two bulls guarding the front gate, what if they turned me back telling me that I was not the “age”. Maddu laughed, “psyche kyun hota hai, thik hai lekar aata hun. Waise bhi woh 2 saand jo khade hain bachchon ko andar nahin jaane dete”. Then he laughed harder and proceeded to buy some sutta. He shouted from there, “oye KT! Tum sab ke liye bhi chahiye kya sutta?” Well there was nothing I could say no to today. I asked my co-mates who were now surprised at the change I was showing, and then shouted from under the dark shade “haan 9-10 le le!” He offered one to each of us. (As I had prepared myself for it) I took one and lit it. I know there are some who boast that when they tried sutta for the first time they took the smoke inside the lungs, I am quite sure they lied. I simply couldn’t. I was a bit warm and had made me uncomfortable. Vikash said, “ abe! khaans le ham kuchh nahin kahenge kisi se!” I said, “don’t kid me you bastard! You only keep the smoke in mouth and then expel it. G**nd mein dum hai to meri tarah andar lekar dikha.” With all such fight we reached the entrance. The bull, as I still prefer to call him, gave us an eye and then my senior appeared. I think they knew him for Maddu joked, “inka pahli baar hai.” He laughed and said, “sabhi ka kabhi na kabhi to pahli baar hota hai par fir sab laut kar aate hain. They all come back!” So what all I was thinking of resisting it after one try was all fart. But now I had come too far, there was no going back. After we had settled uncomfortably in one cushion and Maddu like an experienced senior had done some talking to some person, he came back, smiled and sat down and said to us, “don’t go by the colour, saari mast hain yahan par. You will have a very nice feeling afterwards.” Vikash jumped like a kid and said, “saala KT aaj baada uchhal raha tha pahle yahi shuru karega!” Definitely I couldn’t say no. Then a door opened and there she was with a male escorting her and trust me had Maddu not cleared I would have run away seeing her. She was all black and when the male had gone I was looking at her and thinking how could I take her. I won’t tell you about the remaining preparations since they are too embarrassing but will surely mention that I was really scared. I heard Vikash chuckle and say, “kya hua fat gayi?” Then Maddu said to me, “koi nahin yaar pahli baar darr sa lagta hai. Koi nahin ho jaa shuru.” Then I don’t know whether it was long suppressed wish or frustration I plunged in, picked the bottle of beer and finished it in one gulp. I drank like there was no tomorrow and had such a nice feeling that I couldn’t come back by myself; I had to be picked up by my friends and brought to hostel. Surely I had to come back again!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It was the 7th semester of my college days and I was still making plans what to do in these winter vacations. I didn’t want to go home and sleep the holidays off. Some of my friends were busy making plans for Goa and enthusiastically asked (or rather bullied) me for the trip. But I was looking for something different. So what could have that been!! I came to know of SIDH, a Mussoorie based NGO my alumnus Pawan was running. Immediately I was very eager to go and after some talking decide to work with this NGO and reached their center in Mussoorie, enroute downhill to Kempty fall in a small village called Bodhigram. The next day I came to meet Pawan who left it to me to decide what sort of help I can provide him. SIDH was involved in lot of activities like running a school to holding youth-brainstorming sessions, swadeshi promotion activities and some training program for unskilled local youth in order to help them find a means of living. I finally decided to help them with their library and classrooms. They wanted to develop a cross-referenced database of the books and I helped them with it. Sounds fancy, isn’t it? The classes were no easy joke because I had to teach maths to 9th class students in Hindi!! I have had some of initial schooling in hindi medium school so I didn’t have much difficulty in coping with the classes although sometimes it sounded funny to call power as ghaat, reciprocal as vyutkram, fraction as bhinn and brackets as koshthak!!

Those days were spent in an ideal fashion. So some class-teaching, some database work and the whole evening was free. On every evening I went to Kempty fall and soon I knew each and every corner of Kempty fall. The coolness of the atmosphere was a very soothing and long needed one. To break the monotony of repetition I visited some of the neighbouring villages where I later discovered much of the beauty lay. Then there were surrounding villages with full of beautiful ponds with a no. of fishes in it and scenic beauties. The village on its own had made arrangements for its daily chores such one of the villages I visited had installed a natural aata-chakki (wheat crusher) which was driven using a stream of water somewhat like in dams.

The day temperature was generally cold and so not taking bath daily was general routine, something I loved ;). SIDH School had enrolled its students in board examinations. School was doing ok I guess and commanded a lot of respect in the villages. May be the villagers had dreamt of a better life of their children thanks to this NGO. It had given them hope and so even if certain failures are on the way, they felt someday someway their children are going to make it. I was there when the board results were declared for them. It was probably the 7th day of my stay and I had nearly mixed with most of the students. The NGO was enthusiastic enough to send someone uphill to Mussoorie to check the results on the internet. As results of each and everyone was being announced subject wise there were peals of laughter, anxiety, commotion, sorry state. It would be long to write all the experiences but I really did learn something from those children instead.

There were some of the fantastic memories I am still reminded of when I remember of Mussoorie. At the NGO everyone was supposed to wash their own dishes after eating. I still remember that icy cold water in the night with which I had to wash the utensils. Then the girls, they were like the typical innocent girls I had seen only in movies. They used to laugh every often on some reasons unknown. Whenever they laughed in front of me, they often shook their fist or clutched their finger in between their teeth, and I thought that such girls had ceased to exist (no offence meant for the better members of the same group). Then I still remember the melodious local pahadi song these girls sang to me and my friend, although I could make out only some portions of it. I still remember one of the songs which went like, “Thando re thando mharo pahado ki hawa thandi paani thando…..”. I also witnessed the snow falling on mountains, played in snow with my friend and school kids.

SIDH sent me along with some teachers and children to a meditation camp to understand and take a feel of meditation. The meditation center was located in an isolated corner of Dehradun. The silence of the place, a small and silent brook flowing nearby all caught my attention and it was one of the perfect places wherein you can relax your mind to think about whatever you want to. Those too were another unique experience for me but let’s save that for future blogging.

Then I remember meeting Claire and Edward, both from England. Claire was in Mussoorie to practice meditation while Edward was there to learn Hindi and in turn took English classes. I told them about most of the Indian cultures, customs and practices and they told me about general lifestyle in England. Edward had a sort of funny reason for learning Hindi. He was to marry in about a year or so and his fiancé was an Indian hailing from Punjab. He was concerned that in the marriage he might be at a loss not to be able to speak to her relatives in Hindi so he decided to learn Hindi and trust me he …was doing well. I invited them to visit my campus before leaving for England and Edward did.

Finally after a month with SIDH, with schoolchildren, with Claire, with Edward I left for my home carrying a gamut of experiences I won’t forget my entire life. Have you ever had the feeling when you expected nothing and you had been over stuffed. With the same cosy feeling I departed wishing to come back but I don’t know if ever I will get to go back!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Well its the World Aids Day. We are all singing to wear red ribbons. But did we notice that simultaneously it has been marked by a spate of clinical research trial "tie-ups" seeking to perform clinical trials on human beings. I mean is this the perception of Indians in the world??
Right everyone is going ga-ga over our service capabilities, BPO to software (and might I add service ...since rarely indigenous coding is done in India). Every year we hear of so many reports some Mckinsey's some Morgan Stanley, every report vouching for the fact that India is going to become a super power by 2025. Agreed the relatively young population that India has is a big advantage to West where the average age of the population is 35-40 but still we depend on them for most of the technical know-how. And something tells me that very soon that when those who serve march ahead to join the ranks of the masters then masters have the plug too pull to prevent this. I am not calling US a master.
But let me tell the effect of independence of knowledge country can have on a country. Consider the nuclear scenario. India only lacked in resources i.e. raw material like Uranium and plutonium, otherwise India is very much independent in terms of technical know-how. Instead she had her own technology of developing FBR which although has a weapon grade mineral as its intermediate product but would have been sufficient to meed the energy needs of India for the next 30 years. This thing had rocked US for quite long until recently when it got India to sign an agreement with it.

Well thats the point if we have the knowledge then we can shake any super-power of the world. Already with outsourcing we are taking away "their lunch" ( as claimed by Bill Gates in one of local seminars in USA), so the effect would be multiplied 1000 no. of times if we were totally knowledge economy country. Right now the lower-end jobs are outsourced to India like payroll accounting, maintenance work. The knowledge enriching work like developement is still offshore.
Not that we are not contributing, but we are contributing at a very slow rate. Gurcharan Das a noted graduate from Harvard ( of the same bactch as Manmohan Singh) has watched the transition in Indian scenario from eras of MRTP to present age of liberalization very closely and claims that India will never be a Chinese tiger. Instead it will walk like an elephant, ambling along going slowly but steady. Why? because earlier we were a socialist country and now we have become free-market country. So whatever decision we make has to take all the participants ( in other words political parties) with it and that makes India a white elephant. The point is if India really can't spring like a tiger she has to make all the right moves to march ahead.
So how can I say that Indians are lagging behind in strengthening knowledge. One indicator is no. of patents held by truly indian companies, no. of papers published every year in India and so many other things.Let me give one example to further my example. We have been mainly dependent on agriculture with out vast knowledge far ahead of what others can claim of. We know very well what variety of mango will be produced by stem grafting of any two varieties of mango. We have been using innumerable natural resources like Neem, Haldi, Milk, Dhania ( I don't what's that called in English) for medicinal as well as daily use purposes. But we never marched ahead to claim to the world, " although we never believe in privatisation of knowledge but if you all are hell bent on it, here is my knowledge" and our complacency has resulted in granting of patent of neem by European Patent Office to the United States Department of Agriculture and the chemical multinational, W.R. Grace, in 1995. The patent was awarded for preparation of a fungicide derived from the seeds of the neem tree when our farmers have been using since unknown ages to prevent warm clothes; the oil has been used to prevent fungus by farmers.On March 9,2005 noted economist Vandana Shiva ( I once happened to attend her lecture during one of my courses in my college) succeded in getting the patent revoked. But still there is a dearth of patents granted to other people when we are more worthy of it. there is still a long way to go to get the patents revoked for ther products like Haldi(turmeric), spinach.
Now the real plight of farmers is with patent regime ushering in and multinationals holding patents to producing better varieties of seeds from two seeds. In India this had been passed down the genration like earlier the Vedas used to be transferred-the "shruti" way, thorugh hearing and learning it by heart.

So I really fear that one day when we really wake up we might have nothing to call our own and then we will definitely be a "service-dependent-super-power". How does this make sense: is there a super power which is dependent on somebody else. We have tied our future to them instead of shaping our own. Remember how the market went crashing in countries post 911 in countries who were depending on USA for so long ( this thing was slightly offset in our case at that time we were not so much dependent on them).

I am not saying that we should break all ties with other countries and work on our own. That would be a regressive step taking us back to Nehruvian age of socialism when he wanted every requirement to be manufactured in India. No service is good but we are neglecting progress in an area which is driving this services sector and that is research. China is a speeding exactly for these reasons. Low cost labour, cheap material is one advantage but it definitely has lot to claim in terms of patents, global companies. China has always adopted an agressive approach. In China whatever steel is produced is absorbed for domestic needs and it needs to import another half to meet the demands. How does China go the research way. Out of so many promotional measures, a chain of state level committees are responsible for research which is then absorbed for domestic uses(Source: The Great Indian Dream by Arindam Chaudhary, co-authored by his father Malay Chaudhary). So no wonder trade has grown in China @104%, china dominates manufacturing ( same was corroborated by Bill Gates when asked a question on a visit to India). Agreed that service industry is 60% of US economy, and manufacturing only 14% but in the long run the 14% would be crucial to sustain the 60%.

I think I should call it quits before I bug enough that people leave it in the middle. I would be very happy in you correct in case I am wrong but if correct "say-na-something".