December 31, 2014

2014

In this age of smartphones and broadcasted texts and group messages, if your father makes you sit and type a New Year message on his 0-9 Keypad phone, and then asks you to send them one by one to his 1000s of contacts, taking confirmation on each contact; then I won't call it a happy end to an eventful year. 

2014 was supposed to be the greatest year of my life. I had all the plans, and all the enthusiasm. But in the end, it turned out be far from the greatest. 

I fought the worst depression of my life in March-April, had planned to participate in a triathlon but couldn't even start preparation, wanted to develop a more extroverted persona but mostly continued with my recluse characteristics, book 2 couldn't be completed on time, missed the deadline for the planned switch, was annoyed with the constant health niggles in the second half of the year, suffering insomania for past 3 weeks, and so on... The list of failures and heartbreaks and problems is long. 

But it wasn't all gloom and doom. First and foremost I dreamt and became a (self) published author! Tried my hands in various forms of creative writing including fiction and had quite a decent success. Wrote songs and collaborated on composing them, recorded musical recitations,  ran a pretty satisfying 6K despite illness, made more than 150 compositions taking the collection on #1000Sher to more than double in an year. Self challenged myself and remained successful on numerous occasions: whether blogging regularly for a month, or the 30 day composing challenge, or the number of restrictions I put on myself to check my self discipline. I traveled more and experienced more new things than the other years. I became a better and more confident employee and finally even an entrepreneur (by selling the novel!). And most important of them all, I bonded and created/strengthened so many relationships. If nothing else, this would have a very positive effect over the years to come.

And there are so many other things I left to mention!

2014 wasn't the greatest, but it certainly proved to be one of the most memorable year yet.


While 2014 was chokeful of resolutions and planning, I am making none in 2015. No particular career/personal goals, no ideas to implement, no travel plans. I would work on ideas/projects as and when they hit the brain. 

Instead, I am going to concentrate on becoming a healthier, mentally stronger, trustworthy and responsible person. 

Consistency in anything has been one of my greatest shortcomings. So, a lot of things will automatically take care of themselves if I just put in consistent daily efforts. 

I would wish you a Happy New Year. But "Happy" and "Year" is an oxymoron in my opinion. How can anyone's 365 days together be happy. 

So, I wish you a Happier New Year. Have fun, endure and keep moving on :)

November 20, 2014

But there is just one little problem... [Part 3]

Aakash shirked his head and focused on the road.

"You should think about what I just said Aakash. I can see hunger in your eyes. But you must learn to channel your energy. You deserve to get what you desire". Raashi said. 

Aakash took a few deep breaths, "I get you Raashi.. I..".

And there was silence. Aakash stopped his vehicle at the next traffic light. Aakash felt guilty inside. What was this girl doing to him. 

Two little kids came on Rashi's side and started asking for alms. Raashi immediately looked into her purse, but she didn't have any change. She looked at Aakash. Aakash took out a 100 Rs. note from his wallet and gave to her. 

"Are you sure?", Raashi said taking the note. Aakash nodded.  He didn't want to say 

"You are pretty kind-hearted Aakash", Raashi smiled as she opened the window pane and handed over the note to the elder one. 

She inquired about their names and ruffled their hair and let them go. The two kids ran away. 

"Well thank you". Raashi said closing the window pane. Aakash smiled. 

"There are so few givers in this world Aakash. Everyone wants to get something. Everyone is lusting about something or the other. Money, power, fame, sex, prestige. I liked that in you. I wish I had infinite powers, I would take away the pain of everyone in this world. Their loneliness.... "

She seemed so excited while talking. As if this was the first time she was allowed to talk. But Aakash wasn't much interested in her talks. He was looking how her eyebrows would move, how her nose would flare up and how she would pout in between the sentences. Her Adam's apple was suprisingly quite visible. It would move up and down as she spoke. All this mixed with her kind, loving nature overwhelmed him. He just wanted to bring her closer to himself, and kiss her. Just fill her face in his hands and... He moved his hands a little towards her... 

The traffic signal got green and the vehicles behind started honking. Aakash started his duster again. He hoped Raashi didn't notice his advances. 


Raashi switched on the music player, but there were only old 60s and 70s songs. She fibbled with the tracks for a few minutes and then she turned it off abruptly. 

"God... Aakash. What are you? Like 60 year old man? What do you listen to? How does your girlfriend even bear you?".

"I don't have a girlfriend."

"What!!", Raashi shouted as if Aakash had just confessed his homosexuality. 

"What happened". Aakash said, a little embarrassed.

"I am sure you aren't married yet. How come you don't have a girlfriend living in a metro like Mumbai. Do you have any.. uhhmm... problem?"

"What do you mean problem", Aakash shot back. 

"No I mean... ", Raashi smiled mischiveously. 

"I had a girlfriend 3 years back. We broke up for some reason. Didn't find another girl after that. Wasn't interested. End of story", Aakash said in a single breath. 

"Ohhh.. I am sorry. You still talk to your ex?". 

"No I don't. I haven't talked to her since. She must be married now. I am done with her.". 

"May I know what happened", Raashi was careful with her words. She didn't want to flare up old wounds unnecessarily. But she couldn't contain her curiosity either. 

Aakash didn't say anything.  

"It's OK, if you don't want to talk about it". 

There was silence for sometime.

"She liked me but didn't want to go against her parent's wishes. It's the same old story. I don't know why they hook up in the first place then. I don't want to talk about it Raashi.".

"That's OK. I understand. I understand". Raashi said trying to calm him down. 

The road was clear ahead, Aakash raised the speed of the car. Raashi looked the other side of the window. No one was talking now. 

"Aakash are you virgin?". 

Aakash hit the break hard. Car came to a halt in 3 seconds.

Raashi started laughing hysterically again. "Hahaha, oh, I am so sorry, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. Hahaha...". 

Aakash was expressionless. He was more than shocked this time. What was wrong with this girl?

"But you didn't answer my question!", she was just unable to stop giggling. 

"Do you want me to kick you out of the car?". 

"Oh, no no. Poor baby. OK, I will shut up now. Promise". She  put a finger on her lips. Silence ensued again. But she would keeping looking at Aakash every now and then. 

"No, I am not". Aakash said slowly after sometime. 

"Oh, really! So...". 

"And, no I don't want to discuss my sex life with you.", He cut her before she could finish her sentence. 

"Haha, alright. Keep your sex life with yourself. I won't tell mine either.", she patted his back. 

There was silence. Two strangers sitting next to each other inside a moving car,  talking about their sex life. The evening was getting weirder for Aakash. 

"For the record, I don't believe your answer", Rashi said. Aakash didn't answer. 

"Hey my stop came! Just drop me at the next red light". 

Aakash followed the orders. 

"Alright, Aakash. Thank you, thank you so much. You are such a sweetheart. I hope we crash again someday". Raashi opened the gates of the car. 

"Raashi". 

"Yaa...". 

"Can we... Can we meet sometime this weekend for a cup of coffee?". 

Raashi smiled mixed with her typical mischief. 

"Yeah sure, we can meet.". 

"Great!". A sense of excitement was visible in Aakash's face.

"And then of course we can meet the next weekend for another cuppa coffee. And, then probably for dinner, a few movies, a few outings every now and then, whenever we can make time. I mean this is how it typically starts right?" . 

Aakash couldn't follow what she was saying. He remained silent. 

Raashi continued..."And soon enough we would be hooked. You would be sharing our pictures together on social networks, you would discuss me in your friend circle. And after a few months, if everything goes fine, you might even introduce me to your parents. It's all fine Aakash, it feels so exciting. Yay!"

She raised her fists in the air mocking excitement. 

"But there's just one little problem..." She stopped. 

"What?", Aakash said in a hushed tone.

She smiled and closed the gate of the car. She took her lips closer to Aakash's ears and whispered...  "I am a prostitute". 

Aakash kept staring at the windshield. He couldn't register what he heard. 

"People of your stature and background don't marry Call Girls. Do they Aakash?", Raashi smiled. 

Aakash didn't say a word. He didn't move his head. 

"I sat in your car to make money for the day. I saw how you were looking at me. But you didn't make a move. Clients recognize people like us from our Red umbrella or handkerchief. But you didn't. You haven't visited a prostitute before Aakash. Now, have you?". 

She leaned at Aakash again, and slowly kissed him on the cheeks. Then she slowly took out the handkerchief from her purse and cleaned the lipstick smudge from his face.  

"You are a nice guy Aakash. I hope one day God gives you what you are looking for. But I can't provide you that. " 

Aakash looked at Raashi, but didn't utter anything. 

She patted him on the cheeks. "You chose the wrong girl again Aakash. I am so sorry". 

Raashi got out of the car immediately. Outside, she opened her Red umbrella, probably and started walking away. 

It was still raining heavily. Aakash looked ahead through his car's windshield. A yellow figure with red on top, walking away slowly. Fading. And fading. And fading...

November 19, 2014

But there is just one little problem... [Part 2]

Before Aakash could react, the cars behind him started honking impatiently. He had a total stranger in the car, that too a lady; she could be anyone. But there was no time to argue with her right now. The honking of the cars was increasing as the seconds passed. The green light was less than a minute. Should he move? Should he stop?

"Go, Go, Go....", she touched his hand on the steering wheel. Aakash moved the car.

The duster crossed the red light and barely passed half a kilometer when it came to a stand still at the side of the road. 

Aakash stopped the engine, and moved sideways to observe the lady for the first time. And she was something to observe carefully. Curly black hair with blonde streaks in between, a red wavy sparkling bindi on the forehead, pinkish red make up on the cheeks, and a red hot glossy lipstick over the plump lips. The nose was straight and pointed, the eyes looked smokey under the makeup, but the eyeballs were sharp and oozing with confidence. The eyelids were so pointed that one could count them. 

She was wearing a bright yellow colored saree with silver coated border, and a sleeveless golden plated blouse to go with it. The saree was probably made of satin, and it had a transparent effect... 

"Uhhmm..". 

Aakash realized he had been staring at her for almost a minute. He felt embarrassed. But then he suddenly remembered, that this was his car and this lady was a trespasser.  

"Who are you?", Aakash roared. Her skin was fair as milk, but she had a little pinkish tone at some places. Probably the effects of a hair remover or something.

"Oh, me? Just a pretty stranger sharing your car for sometime", She replied back smiling, with an unprecedented confidence. 

"What?", Aakash was shell shocked. 

The lady started laughing hysterically, as Aakash lumped his throat. 

"Oh, I am sorry. Hi, my name is Raashi. And what you would your name be?", she said extending her hand. 

Aakash hesitated for a second. 

"Oh, com'n. Shake hands, I don't bite. Trust me". 

Aakash extended his hand reluctantly. "My... my name is Aakash". He meowed. And he was roaring just a few seconds back. A high in confidence person always eclipses the other. 

"Well Aakash, I am so sorry I sat in your car without taking your permission. The rain was getting heavier every moment and this umbrella was proving useless". 

She waved her now-closed umbrella. It was as bright as her lipstick, minus the gloss. Aakash had never seen anyone using the red umbrella. Why would anyone keep a red umbrella with them. It's so glaring. You would be spotted from over a mile. Unless you want to be spotted. 

"I would get out as soon as it stops or at least slows down", she continued. 

"Well... OK. Where are you going? May be I can drop you. ", Aakash responded. 

The last sentence was said so slowly it was almost incomprehensible. But Raashi picked it up. She looked at him with a mischievous smile but didn't say anything. Aakash was just being a good Samaritan but the look on her face still embarrassed him. 

"What?!", he asked. Her silence was killing him. 

"Haha, no nothing. Well I have to go to Azad Nagar actually. I have some work there. But it doesn't fall over this route. You drop me somewhere in Bandra East and I will manage from there". 

"That's OK. I can drop you there. I am going to my home in Colaba. I can take an alternative route from there". 

"No, No Aakash. It's over ten kilometers from here. There is just no need. I can manage. I am already troubling you a lot". 

"No, that's fine. Now, that you have entered my car after all, I should drop you to your destination safely". 

"Safely! Hahaha". She started laughing loudly again. There was something infectious in her laughter. 

"Why? What happened? It's not safe for girls to roam around like this in the city, during evening", Aakash asked, confused. 

"No nothing", she said trying to control her laughter. 

"No tell me please". 

"Haha, nothing baba. OK, you can drop to Azad Nagar if you are so free, and you liked me so much!". Raashi said, tongue-in-cheek. 

Aakash didn't say a word after that. He immediately ignited the engine again, and took a U-turn from next Red Light. 

"You look a tad anxious Aakash. Is something bothering you, or is it my fragrance?", Raashi quipped after sometime.

"What?". This startled Aakash. Whatever she was wearing was definitely intoxicating, but Aakash had no idea that Raashi would be able spot that on his face. 

"Hahaha, no I mean you definitely don't look OK."

"Err... it's nothing. Just some office bullshit". Aakash tried to steer away from the real reason, although office was definitely on his mind. 

"Wanna share? I am pretty free for next half an hour or so". Raashi turned herself to his side, positioning herself expecting a long interesting story. She was all ears.

"No there's nothing interesting there."

"Oh, com'n tell!", she held his arms. Aakash twitched slightly. Raashi noticed that but took a second longer to remove her hands. 

"Well.. it's the usual hullabaloo. I have this idea for my company, and I have been working so hard at it, but my peers and bosses just don't get it. They think I am wasting my time and company's resources. Or may be they are all jealous of me. There is just  no support from anyone. I am just sick of it.". 

"So, why don't you quit?"

"Well I can't". 

"But why...".

"You don't understand. I have invested myself a lot in this company, in this career. If I quit now, I would have to start all over". 

"That's all excuses Aakash. You are just being a sissy girl. If you don't like something you either change it, or you get the hell out of its way". 

"I was also in your situation once, having to work for someone else. But now I work independently. When my clients don't fall in line, when they are unreasonable or don't pay on time, you know what I do?". She paused. 

Aakash looked at her for a second. That was Raashi's clue to continue. 

"I fire them. I don't care, if they are my oldest clients or if they are influential people. I know, I have the talent and capability, and so I won't go to sleep hungry any night."

Raashi must not have been more than 25, about 3 years younger to him. But she talked way more mature than her age. 

He noticed a black dot on her waist a few inches away from her navel on the right side. It was intriguing. It wasn't a mole of course. It was made of kajal or a color pen. A way to keep evil eyes away. Or may be to attract them. He wanted to put his fingers over it and see how the texture felt over her glistening skin. He hadn't touched a female body for years now... 



November 18, 2014

But there is just one little problem... [Part 1]

"Why me, why me!", he kicked his foot over the accelerator. The Duster had crossed the 100 threshold. Aakash was furious. So many thoughts were bursting in his head right now.  They were clouding his ability to think clearly.

But it was dangerous to drive at such high speeds on the dug up roads of Vile Parle. Mumbai wasn't known for its smooth and wide roads. And it was raining heavily as was typical in this part of India.

There was quite some traffic on the road but Aakash was maneuvering his way out of it. He wanted to beat everyone in this 'car race'. He wanted to win today, at least somewhere. He had been beaten once again. Once again, his boss had made him a scapegoat for his own inefficiencies. Once again, his colleagues had stabbed him in the back. And problem with Aakash was that he wouldn't retaliate. Fighting, back-bitching, wasn't his nature.

He had been working so hard on the latest project. He had been burning under the night lamps, cutting up his own family time, forgetting the difference between weekdays and weekends; to make something that he and his organization could be proud of. But of course, it was of no use. There were way more distractors and opposers than there were supporters. The bosses were more interested in compliance to their arbitrary rules and processes than caring if any actual innovation happened. Aakash felt like being a part of a troop of monkeys; if one monkey tried to do something new, others would beat him down and make him fall in the line.

So many times he had thought about quitting his crappy job. The leech infested bloody office environment. Everyone looking to suck up the blood of everyone else. But the job did pay good, and it wasn't easy to switch companies in his line. A few times he had also given a thought to switching careers itself; probably becoming a freelance architect or a web designer. But at his age of 28, it felt like too heavy a risk.

He had no idea who among those foxes in the skin of humans were his friends. One day he would see two office mates fighting, bitching about each other and the next day they would be sharing gossip about their common 'enemy'. He would fail to understand their psyche. Probably this is how all the office and his industry worked pan India. Probably all this was 'normal', but he had trouble getting in sync with this culture.

Aakash just wanted to come to office, do his work and get the hell of there. But office sometimes, like politics, becomes a deadly swamp in which once you enter, there is no way to get out of it. It changes you. Permanently.

It's almost always flood like situation in Mumbai every year. This year was no different. Even though, the wiper of Aakash's car was working overtime, he still had difficulty seeing the road ahead of him clearly. A lot of fellow travelers had started taking refuge under the shops or flyovers, but Aakash was in no mood to follow suit. He just wanted to reach home and gulp down 2 pegs of his favorite brand of whiskey, and retire for the day. He had enough of it for today. His head was hurting so much right now. How could his boss be so aloof to his aspirations and capabilities?


Aakash stopped his car at the red light near Vakola police station. There was no sign of rain stopping anytime soon. He looked at his watch. It was 5.30 pm. He should reach his home in Colaba in 40 mins, he thought. He would have dinner early and go to sleep. Tomorrow would be Saturday. Weekend was one time he would shut down everything and recluse into his own small palace, doing whatever the heck he felt like doing. If there wasn't this two days break for him to recharge, he would have died of exhaustion and stress a long time back.

A small teenager knocked at the glass, he made signals asking for money. Aakash refused. The boy persisted which infuriated Aakash even more. The boy ran away seeing the expressions on his face. On any other day, he might have probably given some money, but today he was in no mood for charity. Nobody could make him do anything today. The red light was still half a minute long. From his rear view mirror, he could see a long queue of vehicles getting formed. These were rush hours, nothing else could be expected.

At a distance, he saw a yellow figure with something of red color at the top coming from the front. It was difficult to see who or what it was through the undying water trickling over the windshield. The traffic light turned green and Aakash ignited his engine. But before he could hit the paddle, the doors of his side seat opened, and a red colored umbrella  with a person under it, entered his car.

"Hello!". Before Aakash could understand anything, an excited feminine voice greeted him.

"I am really sorry, but the rain outside is too much to bear".

Aakash looked at his adjacent seat, still stunned at what just happened. He always made sure to lock all the doors while driving. How was the door of his car even open?

[Continued]

October 12, 2014

What to do when someone is "Katti" with you

OK, I have got a problem. Someone I know is Katti from me. Yeah, you heard it right, K.A.T.T.I. - Katti.

And just like you, I am shocked too. No one has been 'Katti' with me since may be when I was 8 or 9. It's like I have been put in a time machine and thrown back in time.

Anyways, it's a problem and I need to find out a solution to it. Real Quick.

I recently heard a great philosopher saying "If you define the problem, the problem just cannot exist.".

So, let me try defining Katti first.

Katti : Being 'Katti' is an act where a person stops talking to another person, when the second person has in some way hurt the first . This clause is usually invoked by little kids, but as I am rudely finding out, even 'normal' adults can also be Katti with each other.

How to be Katti : Well there is just no special reason to be Katti. You can be Katti with anyone at anytime at any place. It's like one second everything is fine. And next second. BOOM. Katti!

But there does exist a proper way to be Katti. It involves (as far as I remember from 1990s) touching your right thumb to your lower lips and flipping it upwards. And you actually say Katti, out loud. Sometimes, one does it multiple times to signal the other person how seriously he or she is Katti.

How long can one be Katti : I wish there was a time limit, but people can be Katti for as long as they want. The second person has to in someway make up to the first person, so that first person stops being Katti. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's impossible. Totally depends on your luck.


And all this leads to the most important part of the problem : "What to do when someone is Katti with you?"

Google is usually the answer to all the problems of life, but this time Google couldn't even understand the problem.



So, I set out to solve my own problem. As they say 'Apna kaam svayam kare... Aur Jiska kaam usi ko saajhe'.

After much deliberation I have developed the following flow chart and I hope in  a few days I would be able to solve my problem through it.






Of course this is not the end-all of it. If you have any suggestions on what to do when someone is Katti, please do let me know. This flowchart needs to be refined a lot more before it could become a definitive guide for those who are bearing the burnt of having been Katti by someone. Done for now.

September 11, 2014

जन्मदिन मुबारक हो बेटा

सुबह के 5 बजकर 53 मिनट हो रहे थे। रेहान कि नींद टूटती है।   दिल बहुत तेज धड़क रहा था।  आज ये लगातार सत्रहवाँ दिन था। कमरे में घुप अँधेरा था, ऊपर चलते पंखे से आवाज आ रही थी।  दूर कमरे के एक कोने में पड़े मोबाइल से हलकी टिमटिमाती रौशनी आ रही थी।

रेहान उठा और धीरे धीरे हाथ टटोलते हुए अपने मोबाइल की ओर बढ़ा। 16 मेसेज और 21 मिस काल्स। सारी रात काल्स आते रहे उसे , लेकिन उसे पता ही नहीं चला। या शायद जान-बूझकर ...

"हैप्पी बर्थडे रेहान!! गॉड ब्लेस यू डियर ", पहला मेसेज। आज रेहान का जन्मदिन था, पर उसे किसी बात की खुशी नहीं थी . वो आगे के सारे मेसेज बिना पढ़े मिटा देता है, और कमरे से सटे बाथरूम की ओर बढ़ जाता है।  गुनगुने पानी का एक निवाला मुँह में डालते ही, कफ्फ गिरना शुरू हो जाता है।  दर्द बहुत ज्यादा थ।  रेहान को लगा आज आंते ही बाहर निकल आएँगी।

"जन्मदिन मुबारक हो रेहान ", वो शीशे को देखकर मुस्कुराया।  गला जल रहा था, आँखें भर आई थीं। आज ये लगातार सत्रहवाँ दिन था।  "नहीं आज नहीं।  आज जन्मदिन है तेरा। " नलके से पानी तेज कर, अपने मुँह पर ठन्डे पानी की 8 -10 छीटें मारता है, और बाथरूम से निकल जाता है।

******


9 बजकर 16 मिनट।  अलग अलग नंबरों से लगातार कॉल आ रहे थे।  मगर रेहान मोबाइल सामने टेबल पर रखकर उसे बजता हुआ निहार रहा था बस।  उसका आज किसी से बात करने का मन नहीं था।

"क्यों चाहते हो मुझे इतना? अकेला क्यों नहीं छोड़ देते मरने के लिए मुझे ", वो  एकदम से झल्लाया, और मोबाइल पकड़ कर सामने दिवार पर मारने की कोशिश की।  पर हाथ रुक गए।  उसे बस किसी एक के फोन का इन्तेज़ार था।  अगर फोन टूट गया तो वो कॉल  नहीं कर पायेगा।

वो थककर बैठ जाता है।  17 दिन से नींद पूरी नहीं हो रही थी।  पूरा शरीर दर्द कर रहा था।  लेकिन जैसे ही आँख बंद करता कुछ अजीब डरावने ख्याल आने लगते मन में।  वो सोना चाहता था, लेकिन उसका खुद का दिमाग उसे सोने नहीं दे रहा था।  शायद वो पागल हो रहा था, पर उसे खुद नहीं पता था कि ऐसा क्या हो गया है उसे।  किसी को पकड़कर थोड़ी देर सोना चाहता था, ताकी डर  ना लगे।  पर किसी से मदद भी नहीं  माँगना चाहता था। काश बिना बताये लोग दर्द समझ पाते।

माँ की याद आ रही थी।  पर माँ नहीं आ सकती थी।  कभी नहीं।  रेहान कुर्सी से फिसलकर नीचे फर्श पर आ गिरता है। फर्श ठंडा था, करहाते दिमाग को थोड़ी राहत मिली। साँसे कुछ मद्धम पड़ीं। फोन अभी भी बज रहा था।  वो आँखें बंद कर लेता है।

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रेहान एकदम से चौंक कर उठ जाता है।  चारों तरफ देखता  है, पर कोई नहीं था।  शायद उसने कोई बुरा सपना देखा था।  "महफूज़, महफूज़ ..."

सामने घड़ी में 1 बजकर 8 मिनट हो रहे थे।  फोन फिर बजा।  रेहान लपक कर टेबल पर पड़ा फोन उठा लेता है।  फोन उसी का था।

"हेल्लो, हेल्लो यासीर"

"हद कर दी मियाँ तुमने तो आज। पिछले एक घंटे में कम से कम बीसों बार फोन मिल चूका हूँ।  मैं तो बस अब तुम्हारे घर ही निकलने लगा था, चिंता में।  किसके जनाजे में शामिल थे? "

"नहीं। बस ..."

"ओह... अभी भी आराम नहीं है?"

"नहीं"

"तो डॉक्टर को क्यों नहीं दिखा रहे यार। कितनी बार बोल चूका हूँ। ऐसे तो मर ही जाओगे सच में।"

"हाँ वही चाहिए। खुद की जान तो नहीं ले सकता मैं।  ऐसे ही मर जाऊं तो अच्छा है। ".

"यार कुछ भी अनाप शनाप बकते हो। जन्मदिन वाले दिन भी कोई ऐसी बातें करता है?"

"बस अब जीने की तमन्ना नहीं रही यासीर".

"बस तुम अब चुप ही रहो। सुनो गोहल चौक के बस स्टॉप पर मिलो एक घंटे में".

"हाँ ठीक है। "

"हौसला रखो दोस्त। तुम्हे मरने नहीं दूँगा इतनी आसानी से। और हाँ एक बात और ... जन्मदिन बहुत बहुत मुबारक हो। "

"शुक्रिया यार".

"चलो, अब जल्दी से तैयार होके पहुँचो . "

रेहान को थोडा सुकून महसूस हुआ।  बस एक यासीर ही उसको समझ सकता था।  फोन टेबल पर फैंक कर वो बाथरूम की ओर  बढ़ जाता है .

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दोपहर के ढाई बजे के  आस पास, गोहल चौक पर।  यासीर को  बस स्टॉप पर खड़े  लगभग आधा घंटा हो गया था. रेहान ज्यादातर समय पर ही पहुँचता था, लेकिन आज उसे देरी हो रही थी। यासीर ने भी फोन करना मुनासिब नहीं समझा।  रेहान अपनी मर्जी का मालिक था।  उसे ज्यादा खोदने पर डर था की वो आये ही ना. 5-6 मिनट बाद रेहान आता दिखा। दूर से पहचान में ही नहीं आ रहा था।  आज अपने जन्मदिन वाले दिन भी उसने अपनी हालत बेहतर करना ठीक नहीं समझा।

बाल लंबे बिखरे हुए से थे। दाढ़ी बढ़ी हुई थी।  कपडे भी बिलकुल साधारण से।  कोई शायद ही कह सकता था आज इसका जन्मदिन है।

"यार ये क्या हाल बनाया हुआ है?", रेहान करीब पहुंचा तो यासीर तुनक पड़ा।

"क्या हुआ ?"

"आज के दिन तो कुछ हालत ठीक कर लेते। "

"क्यों आज के दिन ऐसा क्या है?", रेहान ने चिढकर कहा .

"यार तुम... रहने दो। "

दोनों चुप हो जाते हैं।  दोनों को पता था इससे ज्यादा कुछ बोलेंगे तो शायद लड़ाई हो जाए।  बस स्टॉप के दूसरी ओर एक छोटा लड़का अपनी माँ के साथ खेल रहा था।  दोपहर का समय था , तो भीड़ कम ही थी।

यासीर ने चुप्पी तोड़ी,  "अच्छा ये बताओ कहाँ चलना है फिर आज ? "

"कहीं भी . ", रेहान के मदद करने का कोई मन नहीं था।

"मेरा मतलब कोई फिल्म देखने चलें, या कहीं घूमना है? "

"कहीं भी ले चलो, जहाँ थोड़ा सुकून मिल सके बस। "

"यार तुम्हे हुआ क्या है, क्यों  अपने आप को इतनी तकलीफ दे रहे हो ?"

रेहान बिफर पड़ा, "मुझे खुद नहीं पता मुझे क्या हो गया है, और कबसे।  बस रोज उठता हूँ तो यही अफ़सोस होता है की आज बचा ही क्यों।  कुछ ना कुछ बुरा दिमाग में चलता ही रहता है। जितना भी कोशिश करो मैं बाहर निकल ही नहीं पा रहा इस दलदल से।  मुझे बचा लो यासीर, मुझे बचा लो ".

यासीर रेहान के कांधे पर हाथ रखता है तो रेहान यासीर से लिपट जाता है।  शायद रेहान को इसी की जरूरत थी, एक काँधे की। बहुत तेज तेज साँसे ले रहा था।  यासीर कुछ नहीं कहता, उसके पास कुछ कहने को था भी नहीं . वो खुद नहीं समझ पा रहा था की एक हँसता खेलता इंसान अपने आप कैसे अपनी ही बनाई गर्त में गिरता जा रहा था।

थोड़ी देर बाद रेहान अलग हुआ, तो वो कुछ शांत था।  "आ बैठ", यासीर रेहान को बस स्टॉप की बेंच पर बैठाता है, और खुद उसके बगल में बैठ जाता है।

दोनों दोस्त फिर चुप हो जाते हैं . शायद आज चुप्पी से ही बातचीत होनी थी ...

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रेहान का फोन फिर बजा।  वो फोन जेब से निकालता है और बड़े आराम से उसकी बैटरी निकालकर अलग कर देता है।  फिर फोन और बैटरी अलग अलग जेबों में डाल लेता है।  यासीर सब देख रहा था, मगर वो चुप ही रहा।

"कितना टाइम हो रहा है यासीर".

"3 बजकर 12 मिनट"

"अच्छा"

"घरवालों से बात हुई तुम्हारी ? "

"हाँ हुई थी सुबह थोड़ी देर . "

"क्या बोले ? "

"वही रोज की कहानी। घर वापस आ जा। क्यों वहाँ पडा हुआ है।  यहीं कोई नौकरी ढूंढ ले। "

"फिर तुमने  क्या कहा ? "

" कुछ नहीं।  आज के दिन लड़ाई करने उन्हें तकलीफ नहीं देना चाहता था। "

"यार मुझे लगता है, तुम  किसी बात को लेके डिप्रेस्ड हो ।  शायद तुम्हे  पता है , शायद नहीं पता।  लेकिन तुम्हे  डॉक्टर को ..."

"मैं पागल नहीं हूँ, मैं किसी डॉक्टर को नहीं दिखाऊंगा", रेहान ने बात काटी।

"यार साइकियाट्रिस्ट को दिखाने का मतलब ये नहीं की तुम  पागल हो  . वो तो ... "

"बेटा कुछ पैसे दे दो ", इस बार किसी और आवाज ने यासीर की बात काटी।

सामने एक बुढिया खड़ी थी। सफ़ेद बाल, स्लेटी मटमैली साड़ी, छोटा कद, चेहरे पर झुरियां, और हाथ में कटोरा।

"जाओ अम्मा, कहीं और जाकर मांगो ", रेहान झल्लाया ...

"दे दो बेटा पैसे, मुझे बहुत जरूरत है। "

"अरे तुम्हे सुनाई नहीं देता क्या?", रेहान तेज आवाज में चिल्लाया तो बुढिया एक कदम पीछे हट गई।

यासीर रेहान का हाथ पकड़ लेता है, "तुम चुप बैठो एक मिनट।  अम्मा ये लो एक रूपये, अब जाओ", यासीर एक रूपये का सिक्का बुढिया के कटोरे में उछाल देता है।

पर बुढिया हिलती नहीं, "अब क्या हुआ अम्मा? ", यासीर ने पूछा. रेहान नीचे की ओर देख रहा था।  शायद उसे पता ही नहीं था की बुढिया अभी भी वहीँ खड़ी थी।

"बेटा हो सके तो कम से कम 10 रूपये का नोट दे दो। "

"देख रहा है यासीर, आजकल तो बुढियाओं के भी भाव बढ़ गए हैं, 1 रूपये में काम ही नहीं चलता अब किसी का ", रेहान ने चिढकर कहा.

"मुझे अपने लिए नहीं, अपनी पोती के लिए चाहिए बेटा।  खुद कुछ भी खा लूं, लेकिन उसे अच्छा खिलाना चाहती हूँ बस".

"क्यों तुम्हे क्यों चाहिए अपनी पोती के लिए, उसके  माँ-बाप मर गए हैं क्या? "

बुढिया का मुंह बन गया।  कुछ देर चुप रहकर बोली, "नहीं, मरे तो नहीं हैं, लेकिन ... "

"अरे जाओ जाओ अम्मा, पता है तुम लोगों का।  अभी शाम को यहीं कहीं गांजा भरती हुई मिलोगी।"

"चुप रहो यार रेहान", अपने बटुए से 50 रुपये का नोट निकलकर यासीर बुढिया के कटोरे में डाल देता है . "आज मेरे दोस्त का जन्मदिन है अम्मा. ये तुम 10 नहीं 50 रूपये रखो! "

रेहान यासीर को आँखे दिखाता है लेकिन यासीर ध्यान नहीं देता.

"ओह .. जन्मदिन मुबारक हो बेटा।  भगवान तुम्हे दुनियाभर की खुशियाँ दे।  जीते रहो... ", बुढिया आगे बढ़कर रेहान के सर पर हाथ रखती है, लेकिन रेहान हाथ झटक देता है.

"जाओ बुढिया, अब तो तुम्हारी चांदी हो गई। कहीं जाकर चिलम भरो।  ऐश करो। "

"नहीं बेटा, सच कहती हूँ।  ये ... ", बुढिया आगे कुछ नहीं कहती। कटोरा लेकर आगे बढ़ जाती है।

रेहान बुढिया को धीरे धीरे सड़क पार करते देखता रहता है. सड़क के दूसरी ओर के बस स्टॉप पर खड़े लोगों के पास जाकर बुढिया पैसे मांगने लगती है. एक-दो को छोड़कर लगभग सभी उसे दुत्कार देते हैं .

हताश हो बुढिया कटोरा लेकर बस स्टॉप से थोडा ही आगे बढती है की एक साइकिल वाले से उसे धक्का लग जाता है।  बुढिया अपने आप को संभाल नहीं पाती, और सड़क के बीच में आ जाती है।  सामने आ रही तेज रफ़्तार ट्रोली उसे टक्कर मारते हुई निकल जाती है।

ये सब इतनी तेज हुआ की किसी को कुछ समझ नहीं आया।  रेहान ने सब देखा लेकिन वो बुत बना बैठा था .

"रेहान, रेहान !!" ,  यासीर उसे चिल्ला चिल्ला कर बुला रहा था।

रेहान को एक दम से होश आया, "भाग यासीर, भाग...   भााग  ".

दोनों बुढिया की ओर  भागते हैं, "यासीर अम्मा, यासीर अम्मा... क्या हुआ उन्हें. ", रेहान भागता हुआ चिल्ला रहा था।

जब तक वो सड़क की दूसरी ओर  पहुंचे, दो चार लोग बुढिया के चरों ओर जमा हो चुके थे। लेकिन किसी ने उसे हाथ नहीं लगाया। बुढिया का पैर बुरी तरह कुचला हुआ था, और सर से बहुत तेज खून बह रहा था।

"यासीर देख ना, देख  ना क्या हुआ इन्हें। अम्मा, अम्मा !!", रेहान बुढिया का सर अपने हाथ में रखकर चिल्लाने लगा।  उसके सारे कपडे बुढिया के खून से भीगे जा रहे थे।

यासीर को कुछ समझ नहीं आ रहा था। क्या बुढिया जिंदा थी या मर गई।  इसे अस्पताल लेके जाए या यहीं छोड़ दें।

"एम्बुलेंस, हाँ , हाँ एम्बुलेंस.. ", रेहान जेब से मोबाइल निकालता है। लेकिन फोन बंद था।  उसे होश ही नहीं था की फोन की बेटरी दूसरी जेब में थी।

"यासीर, फोन नहीं चल रहा मेरा।  फोन।  तू ... तू मिला।  मिला।  एम्बुलेंस। एम्बुलेंस।"

******


बुढिया स्ट्रेचर पर लेटी हुई थी।  एक नर्स पैरों पर पट्टी करने की कोशिश कर रही थी।  रेहान पास में बैठा सर का खून रोक रहा था,पर नाकाम था।  उसका पूरा शरीर बुढिया के खून से रंग गया था। यासीर एम्बुलेंस में आगे बैठा हुआ था।

"अम्मा, अम्मा.. ", रेहान रह रहकर बुढिया को अवाज लगाता लेकिन बुढिया बेहोश सी थी।

"भैया और कितना टाइम लगेगा हॉस्पिटल को? ", रेहान ड्राइवर पर चिल्लाता है।

"सर ट्रेफिक बहुत है आगे , टाइम लगेगा अभी 10 मिनट और कम से कम ".

"सवा चार हो रहे हैं. आधा घंटा पहले एक्सीडेंट हुआ था।  ये मर जायेंगी ऐसे।  तेज चलो, तेज .. ".

"भाई साहब मैं कोशिश कर रहा हूँ, आपके चिल्लाने से कुछ नहीं होगा ".

"बेटा... ", रेहान इससे पहले कुछ और कह  पाता, बुढिया के मुह से बहुत धीमे आवाज निकलती है .

"अम्मा, अम्मा।  नर्स देखो , देखो ये कुछ बोल रही हैं".

नर्स बुढिया की ओर बढ़ने की कोशिश करती है, लेकिन बुढिया उँगलियों का इशारा कर उसे रोक देती  है।

"बेटा मौसम. मौसम को बचा लो बेटा".

"अम्मा , हम बस पहुँचने वाले हैं हॉस्पिटल।  तुम ठीक हो जाओगी।  तुम्हे कुछ नहीं होगा अम्मा।  तुम्हे ... "

"बेटा मैं झूठ नहीं बोल रही थी बेटा।  मौसम ... "

******


शाम के 7 बजने को थे।  रेहान को बता दिया गया था की सर और पैर से बहुत ज्यादा खून बह जाने के कारण बुढिया को बचाया नहीं जा सका।  पर रेहान के चेहरे पर कोई शिकन  नहीं थी।

हॉस्पिटल की गेलेरी में बैठ कर वो सोच में मग्न था।  यहाँ वो अपनी ही दुनिया में फंसा था। उसे लगता था की सबसे जायदा तकलीफ उसे ही है दुनिया में, सबसे ज्यादा बेसहारा, अकेला वो ही है। कितना गलत था वो।  जिंदगी सिर्फ अपने लिए ही तो नहीं जी जाती।  अपनी जिंदगी पर अपनों का भी उतना ही हक होता है, जितना खुद का।  मगर रेहान तो सभी अपनों को अपने से दूर करने में उतारू था। उसे अपने आप से नफरत सी होने लगी थी।

"रेहान, रेहान ", यासीर ने पास जाकर रेहान को झकझोरा।

"रेहान, मैंने पुलिस को फोन कर दिया है। वो लोग अभी थोड़ी देर में पहुँच जायेंगे।  थोड़ी बहुत पूछताछ के बाद हम जा सकते हैं।  ".

इतने में दो वार्ड-बोयस सामने के कमरे से स्ट्रेचर पर बुढिया का शरीर खींच कर बाहर निकालते हैं .

रेहान एक दम खड़ा होकर उन्हें रोक लेता है।  सर से चादर उठाता  है तो बुढिया पहचान में ही नहीं आती . पूरा सर पट्टियों से बंधा था, चेहरा  पीला पड़ गया था। रेहान अपनी उँगलियों को धीरे से बुढिया के चेहरे तक  ले जाता है।

चेहरे की झुरियों पर हाथ फिरते हुए उसके हाथ पत्ते की तरह कांप रहे थे।  दिमाग में बुढिया की कही आखिरी बातें गूँज रही थी...

*******


"बेटा मैं झूठ नहीं बोल रही थी बेटा।  मौसम मेरी पोती है।  उसके माँ-बाप ने उसे पैदा होते ही, मरने के लिए कूड़े में फिंकवा दिया था।  उन्हें तो लड़का चाहिए था, जो उनके बुढापे का सहारा बने , उनकी सेवा करे। लेकिन ये मनहूस पैदा हो गई।  

वो तो इसे अपने हाथो से गला घोंट कर मार देना चाहते थे।  पर.. पर मैं बचा लाई  उन्हें झूठ बोल कर।  मरते मरते बचाया उसे बस। जैसे तैसे रूखा सूखा खिलाकर पाला।  उन लोगों ने मुझसे भी धीरे धीरे वास्ता तोड़ लिया। 

शरीर में जान नहीं है तो कोई काम नहीं देता, इसलिए भीख मांग कर काम चलाती हूँ।  8 साल हो गए, एक बार भी उसके माँ-बाप ने सुध नहीं ली लड़की की। बहुत प्यारी बच्ची है मौसम बेटा, मैं उसे स्कूल भी भेजती हूँ।  पढ़ने में बहुत तेज है. कहती है बड़ी होके डॉक्टर बनूँगी। 

बेटा.. मैं नहीं बच पाऊंगा अब, मेरे बिना वो मर जायेगी।  हो सकते तो उसे ... किसी अनाथालय में ... छोड़ आना।  कहना दादी.. दादी कुछ दिन में ले जायेगी।  धीरे धीरे भूल जायेगी मुझे। 

वो तुम्हे सोम्बजार के पीछे की झोपड पट्टी में मिल जायेगी। किसी से भी पूछ लेना मौसम कहाँ रहती है। 

बेटा, करोगे ना बेटा? "

रेहान हाँ मे सर हिलाता है, "जीते रहो बेटा, जीते रहो।  ". बुढिया हाथ ऊपर उठाती है तो रेहान सर आगे कर देता है। 

"बेटा मौसम को बचा लेना. जन्मदिन .. जन्मदिन मुबारक हो बेटा। "  

August 12, 2014

Project #1000Sher : Origins & The Inspiration

क्या तूने कहा किसे खबर किसे मालूम,
मैं तो तेरी आवाज़ ही सुनता रह गया…
(First of the 1000Sher. November 16, 2011 ). 



... And the whole school clapped. Yet again. Morning assemblies and his poems had become a routine affair now. He was the Superstar of School. 

I was mesmerized. How can he write stuffs that I can't even think of? And then have the audacity to walk up to the stage and recite it in front of at least 1000 younger and older fellow students. 

Will he become my friend? I was a class topper of course, but I was sure nobody knew me outside of my section. But He!.. Everybody knew him. He was The Guy! Will he ever become my friend? 

"Rey-vi could you write a poem to recite in tomorrow's morning assembly?". My 9th Class English teacher thought I was good in English. She probably concluded it from my marks in the subject. Of course, she couldn't pronounce my name properly. She was a Keralite probably. But I couldn't care less that day.

A chance to recite a poem in the morning assembly! Wow! May be that popular  guy would see me recite poem, get impressed and become my friend. And then people would see me hanging out with him and then I would become popular too. The dream was about to come true. All that I had to do was a write a great poem. 

But there were 2 problems. I had never written a poem in my life. And I had never walked up to the stage to utter a single word. 

I went home and spent that whole evening writing a poem. I don't know what exactly I wrote but I think it was on environment and shit. I tried to portray trees as living creatures. They are the treasure of our society and we shouldn't harm them. Blah blah blah... BLAH! 

But it rhymed! I had made ample use of "sexy sounding words" and jargon by consulting the dictionary so it was technically a poem. I was proud. I crammed it. 

Next morning, 5 minutes before I was to go up the stage the English teacher reviewed my poem. "What have you written?!" she said, as she took out her red pen. She couldn't understand my passionate monologue on trees. A few phrases deleted  here, a few words changed there. The sense remained the same but it wasn't the same masterpiece anymore. 

I went to the stage. I recited. I fumbled at 2 places. It was a run-of-the-mill affair. I heard a few claps as I returned. But they weren't claps of applause but of courtesy. I wasn't the Super Star like that guy, that I had hoped to become. I was heartbroken. I deduced - I am incapable to write poems

So I went back to my first love of solving maths problems and physics numericals. 

In 11th standard my best friend showed me his register full of poems he wrote in English. And they were all Good. They seemed to be written effortlessly. I thought it was because he had gotten bored of studying (But now I think he was in love.) And, of course I felt cheated that time. How could he write poems when I being his best friend can't write any? 

Meanwhile that Superstar Guy and I were classmates now. I wasn't a "friend" may be, but He knew me now!

A few girls I liked would sometimes write poems and put them up on display boards. And I won't understand 70% of it (refer this to know what I mean) . "Do these words even exist in  English vocabulary?". 

It was frustrating. I was (still) the class topper. Many more people knew me now. But that guy would still walk up to the stage on any random day, recite some shit and get all the applause. And now he was on School Bulletin Boards, School  Magazine (of which he was the Editor) and sometimes even in Newspapers. And somewhere in between he published his own book of poems! 

He would sometimes walk up to me and ask me to clarify certain theorems, numericals etc. And then later he would say "how awesome you are". While I would try to determine if he was being sympathetic or sarcastic. 

And those girls... When we would come face to face, I would feel they are saying "Hey RavS, you might be good in solving differentials and vectors and optics problems, and all the Teachers might adore you. But we can write poem you won't ever understand in your life. Ergo, We win; You lose."

Inferiority Complex. Aaarghhh... 

That Superstar guy left school a few months before 12th boards. He had some other evil plans. It was kind of sad, we were good acquaintances, if not friends by now... 

2 years would pass and except for occasional chats on Social networks, we lost touch. Then one day, he would start visiting home, and only then would we become 'real friends'. He had stopped writing poems regularly by now. But every now and then he would update some on his blog.

And sometimes he would create them "live" at a rough speed of 2 lines/5 Seconds. It was AMAZING. I would have a hard time to find adjectives in praise of his poems (Side Note : Poems aren't for everyone . But they are one of the concise forms of expressing yourself. And I have always loved them (the ones that I understand, that is) ).


On the eve of Christmas 2010, I was feeling a cocktail of bored and lonely. So, I wrote what I would call "My First Mental Vomit". I liked it. But I wasn't a poet yet (I think I would never be one in traditional sense).

Then came 2011 as I left College. Something changed. I was bored. I wanted to try something new. I started writing spoofs of my friends' poems on FB. It was a joke, but surprisingly people liked them. They were hilarious. Sometimes they would be liked more than the original. 

I thought may be I can also write something serious. So, I started putting some of my own thoughts in the form of rhyming lines. Most would get ignored, but some started to get appreciated too. It was fun. Friends were encouraging. And the best part, my Superstar friend was appreciative. He would critic them sometimes, sometimes he would write a few lines in 'response' to my own (a tradition that continues till date). It was such a humbling experience. So slowly, it started to become a habit. 

I also started to put the long form of the poems on the main blog. Then sometime in early 2012 I realized, may be I could be in this for the long run. So why not archive my creations? And hence the project #1000Sher was born

1000 Sher! - it's intimidating. But the number isn't impossible to achieve either. It's going to take years and years of constantly writing shit. But I am up for the challenge. 

My Superstar friend(s) have been supportive and that has always been an essential reason I continue to write even though I don't have any "natural talent". Recently I completed 200 Shers on 1000Sher (we are at #221 as I write this) . Who gets the credit for this milestone? Me of course! But it would never have been possible without the encouragement of friends and supporters. 

Do I write good? I don't know. It may very well be ordinary. Who am I to judge? But my yardstick is that if at least one person likes it genuinely, then it's an effort well spent. And by that yardstick 95% of my compositions (in whatever form) have been successful. 

I don't know if Project #1000Sher will ever see its completion. It's an ultra-marathon considering I am not a professional writer. But I am not giving up on it anytime in the near future. 

And ohh!... Vikas, the Superstar Poet/Philosopher/Friend in my life  for the past 1 decade. And the one who has been an inspiration of it all - Thank You!

August 03, 2014

What it means to be a Friend? [Guest Post]

One of 'those' pages.


RavS' notes : 

Here's a fact : I am pretty stupid. I don't know most of the things that 'normal' people can so easily identify with. If they were to bestow me the award of the 'Stupidest Guy on the Planet', I would be happy to take it. Takes of a lot of pressure to pretend to be smart, when I am not. Also gives me a license call anyone and everyone stupid. Won't hurt anyone if they know I am more stupid than them. Hah!

One of the many questions that I struggle to find an answer to is "What it means to be a friend?". And this question applies to me as well as to anyone else. 
Am I behaving like a real friend? When I promise friends something but don't live up to it, is that 'normal' in friendship? Does being friend mean always being a 'resourceful guy' to others? Are they taking advantage of me in the guise of being a friend? Am I milking the relationship called Friendship by only contacting them only when I need something from them? Is being disappointed justified when a friend doesn't return a favor you did for them  many times over?....

In school and college, I had my small world of a friend circle and I never tried to venture out of it to meet and greet new people. There was never a need. After leaving college, I was almost 'forced' into the Real World. And hence, started my struggle to make sense of what it means to be a human in contemporary times (forget being a friend for the time being). People behave so differently in different moments, many times I am left second guessing about how I should respond to them, and the kind of relationship that should be maintained. 

Anyways, since I couldn't make sense of any of these questions about Being Friend and Friendship, I turned to - guess who - my Friend Vikas to try to guide me through these questions. And heckled him to write an essay on this in a very short time period. 

I have been reading thought provoking writings of Vikas since almost a decade now (Find his blog here). But here is an interesting thing about this essay : Vikas went lazy (I love LAZY) and refused to type his thoughts. "At the most" he could write it down on a sheet of paper and I would have to type it up. I had to agree. So, the following is a humble attempt of a friend to define what it means to be a friend from his perspective; and which has been Painstakingly typed by me and minutely edited at a few places. Enjoy!

Ohh.. and one last point. Why am I posting it today? Of course because it's "Friendship Day" today! I have stopped believing in Days such as Friendship Day a very long time ago. I  have written about the Days that really matter in my life. But here's the thing : most of you - my friends, still believe in this gimmick. If you are atheist you have no right to mock the religion, right? Hence, I respect the sentiments, but like the market I am trying to encash your sentiments too. Please read the following interesting essay, and I would LOVE to hear your own views on What it means to be a friend? 

Over to Vikas...


Friend and friendship, the two very meaningful words. Since the so called "Friendship Day" is around the corner, on insistence of one of my dearest friend, I am troubling my fingers in giving pain to pen and paper. 

First of all, I don't believe in this concept of Friendship Day. I think Friendship is just too Big or say a Grand thing to be limited in a day. Even a life span seems short, less in celebrating this very blessed, sacred, wonderful and meaningful relationship. 

Now if someone asks me to define friendship in one word or phrase, I would just say Life -- Friendship is Life. It is one of the multifarious yet the most simple relationships. It is an autonomous relationship. Blood relations you carry by virtue but friends are your own choice. It's the most holistic, comprehensive and complete relationship. It is a relationship which compensates for your all other relationships by bridging broken gap. It's versatile in character, unique in nature, sophisticated in thoughts yet approachable and simple in behavior. True friendship is beyond the walls of Good-Bad, right-wrong and all earthly things thought needed to make life better on earth. 

Friend - this is a very unique, exclusive and inimitable creature who makes your life feel blessed. He takes your all worries, back you in your bad time, pull you in your good time. He/She never ever needs a reason to be with you,only excuses are needed. It's said that if you get a good friend, your life is easy, if you have two it's sweet, if you have three it's heaven. And, even if you try your best, you can't find and sustain four! 

I am blessed with some very splendid friends and that is the only reason my faith in God is still intact. Sometimes I even think it's God who is making things easy for me by being my friend. (I will not take names of any individuals, as promised. I like to honor my promises sometimes!). Sometimes I wonder - Do I deserve such good friends? What good have I done to get them in my life? But still the fact remains, I have them and this bring a little bit of pride (arrogance) in me. 

As I said friends are unique creatures so they can't be classified. But one thing is sure, they are so versatile that we always look for solution of every problem from them. Sometimes they make us 'Nikkamma' (the only disadvantage of friendship, but I don't mind having this disadvantage ). They take all your burden. For me friends are always over and above family since they take away all worries.

Historically friends have been of two kinds (three if you include "Friends with benefit" ). 

Some famous examples: 
  • Krishna - Sudama where Sudama devoted his whole life to Krishna. So, it suggests there has to be some kind of devotion in friendship. Krishna understood his pain without words and been kind to him. This means in Friendship there's exchange of thoughts without words. 
  • Krishna-Arjuna which suggest a friend is your philosopher, guide and keeps all your worries away. At the same time, in friendship there is consultation, advice, guidance and mutual respect too. 

But my favorite and most inspiring example is Karna-Duryodhana. For me that is the greatest friendship where there is devotion, togetherness, mutual trust and submission irrespective of cause. They were always ready for each other. 

And fortunately, I have friends with all such vivid colors and characters. One I am devoted like Sudama, on other I am dependent like Arjuna for taking my all worries and find the right path for me, and my all three best friends have the last qualities I mentioned. They are always ready to help irrespective of the cause. I will always be thankful to God for giving me such precious living creatures. 


But... what about Friends and Friendship in Contemporary Times? 
Now it's not 'Satyug' and 'Tretayug' anymore. We are living in 'Kalyug', and Kalyug brings the time of Friends with Benefits. This is an era of communication, in this era you communicate with large number of people and everyone can't be your friend. In this era too, Friendship has to adhere to the basics of past, but now one carries a lot "Friends" without 'Friendship' (the ones known as professional relationships). Then there are people in your locality, they are also your "Friends" (social friends) but again without any 'Friendship'. So grossly, the word 'Friend' is being overuse and fatigued in today's time like the word 'sexy'. 

You get your best friends mostly in school time since that time it's a selfless relationship. As we grow older and our brain matures, we start having motive in everything. Hence, the relationships also start getting made with motive. But Real Friendship has no motive, it only has devotion, selflessness, mutual respect and love and extreme care towards each other. Now, it's up to an individual to decide who is a friend, because as I said friends are the 'chosen ones'. 

Signing off on that note. And yes, Wish you all a Very Happy and Caring Friendship Day.  

July 20, 2014

Wishlist

[Last Updated: 20 July 2014]

Dear friends and readers, I know how much you love The RavS and how you always want to gift him something but are not able to get hold of it as he never seems to like anything at all.

Well it's true that I am not really a big fan of buying stuffs. But I do need and lust for a few things, particularly electronic items (you can't expect much from a geek). 

So, let me list out the things that I want/crave currently (in no particular order),  in the hope that one of you generous soul will gift me one (or more) of these on certain occasions (or without an occasion). Otherwise, I will get them myself at some point of my life.

  • A cover for my Micromax Ninja A89: Bought a shiny new mobile recently and it's working great. But can't seem to get a cover/case for it anywhere in the market. It's available online but it's a little pricier and am not sure about it's quality by just looking at the pictures. So, the search still continues. [Update: Got it! It doesn't look good, but my phone and I both feel safer]
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 2/Google Nexus 7: After getting an (Android) Smartphone, the next logical digital stop would naturally be a tablet. And these 2 seems to be hitting the sweet spot of 'desirability' and 'affordability'. [Update: Got a shiny new ASUS tablet recently! I call it a poor cousin of Nexus 7. With the second version of Nexus 7 out, it's still on wishlist, but not in my list of urgent needs]
  • Amazon Kindle Fire : Ever since I have heard about this device, I have wanted to own one. The ability to have access to and read thousands of books and other reading media on a device even while outdoors is a fascinating idea. And it's simplicity and no distraction of other kinds of media just adds to its appeal. [Update: After buying a tablet and reading over it, not really sure if this one is necessary. I am already fighting with too many devices.]
  • A pair of running shoes: I love running. I had created a running streak of almost 2-3 months, few years back. But then I am also a very lazy person. I want to finish a half marathon, preferably this year but lack of shoes customized for running are one of the (idiotic) reasons that keeps me putting off my preparation. My current shoes are not particularly comfortable during running and I prefer to wear floaters to run, but then it's not an optimal choice, is it? [Update: Got myself a pair of shiny new Reebok shoes. And I am training for half marathon scheduled on 15 December 2013 :) ]
  • New pair of glasses/lenses: Bored of current ones. And I am a firm believer in experimenting with oneself, including with the looks. [Update: Got both. But lenses were a disaster (it's a long story). While glasses are a compromise, so will probably get another one in future)
  • Chromebook : In my quest for all things Google, this is one device I really really want. Most probably my next computing device. Nigh. Most definitely.
  • Macbook Pro: A desire of every geek out there. Except on simulators, have never had an opportunity to work on the most beautiful Operating System in this world. And this is the only Apple product I actually want buy. Others are great too, but one can easy make do with alternatives for other electronic categories from Apple. Not for a Mac.
  • A Nicon D Series SLR (or any freaking SLR cam for that matter!): It's amazing how many people out there want to buy an SLR. And I am one of those 'many people'. The ability to grab those amazing unexplored moments in crystal clear quality is something that everybody wishes for and most of the point and shoot camera are not able to fulfill. 

    As you can imagine, this list is not exhaustive, I will add/modify it in future as and when the need arises.

    June 30, 2014

    "June"

    In the middle of June, I conceived a project which had a high potential to fail. Usually I write poems and friends read them. So, I tried to turn the tables. I tried to involve as many friends as I could to write a "Group Poem". Some of them responded. Only a few of them could muster up some lines.

    I set a few rules at the start. Two (or more) lines from each person. ABAB rhyming scheme. The rhyming words. Also, the time to respond  (24 hours). By the time we reached the end of "June" (!), each one of these rules were destroyed one by one.

    I wasn't allowed to moderate the poem, so anything was allowed (except obscenity) as far as the content was concerned. So, it turned out to be anything but what I imagined it would turn out to be. But it was an interesting group experiment overall.

    Thanks Namrata, Akshita, Katyayan, Anshul and Srijan for the contribution...


    The wheatish white girl's name was June. 
    And she had one dirty little secret to keep. 
    The copper haired girl's antics were jejune
    And some very ordinary things made her flip.
    Those sparkling eyes, made me think, God is too Prune, 
    Greenish-Blue hue, those were sea-like deep.
    Litting up the room, like a sunlight dune, 
    She smiles her way, up the stairs so steep.
    Why is she here?, I ask myself,
    breaking my thought there is a Warning Beep.

    It was last year on June 22 when i had proposed her at half past five. 
    Long day it was , longest as they say , as i stood there forever.        
    She  smiled as usual, ruffled my hair and said "oh! Baby I love Clive.
    Then and there I vowed to myself, ''never fall for her ever''.

    My charming frog never got the kiss,
    Yelped in the night without a pretty miss,
    The rejection took away all my bliss,
    I fasted to an emotional abyss.

    Years then passed and i forgot her face,
    Mostly because I showered her with mace,
    Flew her with a tiger into outer space,
    Denied her existence in the human race.

    Till one fine day as I walked with a teddy bear,
    I saw her frying onions on a stand with silly hair,
    Screaming to the crowd at the city's market square,
    Desperately in need of some fine dental care.

    I went to her, 
    and found she had nothing to cheer,
    Shouted on me as if i have stolen something from her
    June i knew was not in there...

    But as I approached her, she shot me with a gun, 
    She was a spy of another country, an intelligence agent. 
    Her antics, her secrets were out in the open now, 
    But there was nothing that I could do as blood poured out of my mouth. 
    I loved the copper haired girl with greenish blue eyes, 
    I had vowed not to fall for her, but she made sure I fall forever tonight.

    June 04, 2014

    "Who's Your Favorite God?"

    So a few days ago, I asked my family, friends and associates about who's their favorite God (about 37 of them). 16 of them replied (must have been my lucky day!). Some of them told about having multiple favorites. And that's fine. It's difficult to have a single "favorite" God when we have so many choices. 

    We will get to the specifics, but I want to enlist some of my personal disappointments :

    -  People mostly stuck to Gods of their own religion (communalism?).  I hope they at least give the Gods of other religions some consideration. 

    - Absolutely No-one chose a female God (sexism?). Seems, females are considered 'weak' even when it comes to being God. Or is that "God" is a masculine word?

    - All but one chose to consider parents as their favorite 'God'.  I personally like to view my parents as humans with quirks.  But I was hoping many more to give a shout out to their parents. 

    - No one talked about Greek and Roman Gods. Zeus, Athena, Apollo...  Aahh.. the symbols of perfection. Someone please choose them!

    By the way, did you know all the solar system planets, and some of the months of Gregorian calendar are named after Roman Gods? I didn't!


    Anyways, so who's their favorite God?  In no particular order and including multiple favorites :

    Krishna : 3
    Jesus : 2
    Sai Baba : 4
    Allah :  1
    Ganapati : 2
    Ram : 1
    Shiva : 3
    Maa : 1
    Hanuman : 2
    Buddha : 1

    From above, it would seem like Sai Baba is quite popular. But, I was more interested in the "Why" part? 

    People had their favorite Gods as their favorite because of:

     "His unconditional love", 

    "kinda connect with him"

     "he is awesome"

    "love him as my Bhai... Keep talking, sharing and caring...", 

    "for the simplicity" 

     "as a kid used to like him a lot. Still think he is the best."

    "not for religious reasons but used to visit his temple as a kid and seems cool"

    "he taught the technique of meditation"

     "softest of all humans on earth nd this guy can't even think of bad things even abt his enemy",

    "no reason, just like him"  

    "cuz he is the Supreme in trinity and most easy to please God. Also love him... I won't be haunted by evil spirit"

    "believed him &  liked him &  watched serials of his story from childhood onwards"

    "really don't know. There is just something about him that attracts me"

    "for his courage, strength and selflessness"

    "Because of his cute image"... 


    Two people philosophized about "God is one" theory and I partly agree. 

    Some people wanted to know about My favorite, so here's a little about  GOD &  ME


    I am a hypocrite when it comes to God. I readily "believe" in him to get me out of a situation which is beyond my control as a human. But other times I am busy arguing how God doesn't exist and is simply a figment of Human's faith. Or, spend my time making fun of others' faith in God (dangerous thing to do. People take their religion to their grave. Note to self : Never again question someone's faith). 

    So, I oscillate between being a theist and atheist, passing the borders of agnosticism, according to my convenience. So, don't believe anything I say about God. 

    In fact, I have a few friends who are supremely religious, and I am secretly jealous of them. Being religious is hard work because it demands consistency, but has significant advantages. I wish I weren't this lazy at least when it comes to believing in God.  Sorry God.

    I used to worship Santoshi Maa as a kid because my Grand mother was a fierce devotee. Just like some of the comments above, religion was silently beaten into me as a child. We used to have all kinds of customs and we had to follow them or face the wrath of Grand Maa. Then, a few years ago, she left being such an ardent devotee. And then I left being a devotee at all. 

    Then I used to believe in Sai Baba, a kind hearted person who taught about patience, peace and unity. You don't need to be Hindu or a Muslim to qualify as his 'acceptable' follower. But my problem is that we treat him as God rather than a God-man. We talk about  his "miracles" more than his teachings. And we have his photo on ALL the "future-fixing baba" advertisements. What a scam. It's disgusting. 

    By the way, I only recently have come to know that both "Santoshi Maa" and "Sai Baba" have come into existence as Gods in last 100 years only. And I thought Gods were eternal.

    Now I like Jesus and Buddha the most. Jesus for almost the same reasons as Sai. But I feel Jesus was quite idealistic. I don't think people are capable of "Unconditional Love for everyone" (a topic for another post). Nevertheless,  it's a good ideal to at least strive for . 

    Buddha worked towards enlightenment and finding the truth. He tried to find out how to live, how to behave, how to manage the pain. Hence, his teachings I believe, are most directly beneficial to humans. The fact that I seldom hear about Buddhists indulging in violence speaks volumes about him and his religion. But I have trouble digesting the fact that he left his wife and son. They shouldn't have suffered . Family should always come first, no matter what.

    And I must say again, I don't think of Jesus and Buddha as Gods, but as "Super Humans". I don't care about their miracles, but how they lived their life and what they preached. I feel God should be considered a source of strength rather than a crutch for all your adversities. But then, I told you not to believe anything I say about God.

    May God bless us all.

    May 26, 2014

    The NaMo-logy : A Long Way To Go. [Guest Post]

    Ahh... The NaMo. Swearing in as Prime Minister of the Republic of India today. India having an "Obama moment" of her own. 

    Not just Narendra Modi but millions of Indians were dreaming of this moment for months now. And finally it's here. 

    A day before the election results, my good friend Srijan echoed my sentiments on the current political scenario. Then two days later Namrata spoke for "her people" expressing the apprehensions in the minority communities about the alleged draconian style of Modi leadership. I am not sure if these apprehensions are valid but sentiments are understandable.

    There shouldn't be an iota of doubt that Mr. Modi is pro-majority. But does that equate to Anti-minority? Was he REALLY involved in inciting the Godhara riots like so many us believe, even after being given a clean chit by Supreme Court itself? I don't know. May be he was shrewd enough to get away from all the scrutiny of so many people over the years. Sometimes justice is not served. 

    I am really weak in understanding History and Politics, and everything in between. You know better and I am not going to argue with you on this.

    But here's my truth : I voted for Modi (and note I didn't vote for BJP) just because I bought the dreams he was selling. Hopes of a Better India which is the only straw visible in this ocean of gloom and doom that's Current India.  

    Will he be able to do justice to all the hopes that so many Indians have put on him, or will he work on his own agenda and prove to be the nightmare-came-true for certain sections of society? Only time can tell. Although, the kind of actions he has taken and the speeches he has given since election results, I am hopeful of the former.

    I wanted to write more on Mr. Modi, but then another friend Akshita sent a great account of him. I learned quite a few things from it, so I have decided to put it on my blog (with her permission). This, of course, also allows me to be lazy too. 

    I haven't done a guest post since a long long time, although I did a few crowd sourced posts last year. I don't really let anyone write on my 'personal blog'. But it's all about experimenting right? So, may be a few more guest posts in coming times.

    Alright, enough chatter.



    Over to Akshita Pal.

    Narendra Damodardas Modi (cropped)

     

    ''NAMO'', doesn't seem to be a Name or a word one could be unfamiliar with.
    I may Re-code this Nomenclature as,

    N : Nationalist

    A:  Administrator and Appallingly Determined

    M: Mass Leader

    O: Orator and Organizer.


    Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, aka Namo/Modi/Modi Bhai/Modi ji,and now THE PRIME MINISTER of World's Largest Democracy, is the Man who not only me but, most of the citizens of India look up to. The only PM born in an Independent India till date, is here to stay. Probably, this streak of youthfulness is what makes it easy for him to read the pulse of A Young Nation. Does anyone remember, Mr. NaMo's recent Election Campaign was titled, "Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra"?

    Now, when He is just swearing in as the Head-Honcho of our country, I, on behalf of every citizen, would like to honour him with a Bouquet from my side; a bouquet full of Good Wishes, Hopes, Dreams, and Desires of a New-Age India.


    Let's take a walk down the memory lane...


    Modi ji, born in the small place of Vadnagar (U.P), on 17-09-1950 (now probably, even an 8 year old would know this), struggled hard, like most of the Successful Men do, to reach this place today. From being the Son of a Tea-vendor, to being a Tea-vendor himself, working in the Gujarat Transportation Corp. and joining the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh, this Visionary, has never had an easy Route To Delhi. Seems, this prepared him to take future hardships head-on.


    Not many of us would be knowing that Mr. NaMo at the age of 15, during the 1965 Indo-Pak War, used to serve the Soldiers while on a transit at Railway Stations, and had even volunteered to serve the Gujarat flood victims in 1967. He did come across as a Patriot since the early days of his life (that is visible while He gives Speeches too); However, a leading Daily had reported that Mr. NaMo sent troops to save only Gujaratis from the flood struck Uttarakhand in June-2013. Ohh! I must mention, the Tabloid later clarified that it was a 'mistake'.


    Known for his Oratorical skills (that I personally am awed by) and Strong Determination, Mr. Modi, never seemed fazed by what people have to say (read allege and crib), about him and his 'Development Model'. There is no stopping him, when it comes to being a Workaholic, sleeping for merely Three hours a day, while many of us still complain of having just Twenty-four hours in a day. A prolific Writer and Poet, He, exudes Power and Dignity.

    The 'Could be a Dictator', Mr. NaMo, gains his excellent art of mesmerizing the Audiences and his viewers, from the course He had pursued in Public Relations and Image Management in the United States. Undoubtedly, the outnumbering of male attendees by the female ones in a few of his Public-gatherings can be attributed to his Enchanting and Enigmatic Persona. Still doubt his magnetism? 


    Adding Elegance to his Charisma,is his never failing Indian attire, preferably bought from his favorite store in Ahmedabad, Jade Blue (Remember? he was seen wearing a different set of clothes in every single appearance he made on his Victory Day: 16-05-2014).

    Mr. Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, in his Biography,'Narendra Modi: The Man,The Times', had described Mr. NaMo as an Authoritarian, someone who doesn't pay heed to people's opinions, Least Democratic Leader and an Insecure Man.


    Again, 'How come an Insecure man start the Victory Preparations well in advance of the Election Result's Declaration, and even speculate about Potential Cabinet formation?', is a debatable topic in itself.


    A great Economist, and Nobel Laureate, Mr. Amartya Sen, termed him as a failure when it came to Gujarat's Health and Education Sector's Management. On the contrary,a British Economist, Jim O'Neil,applauded him by saying,

    ''Modi is good at Economics, that India desperately needs in a Leader''.


    Its more than evident, Men like him, are like musical glasses, to produce their finest tones, they must be kept wet.


    Battling all odds ,viz, 2002 Godhra Massacre, Accusation of being an Anti-privatization, and Anti-globalization person, 'Slaughterer', 'Merchant of Death' and most lately 'Tsunami', this Man surely knows how to build a Mansion off the bricks people have been throwing at him since years.


    Not very long ago, in  2012, his Live Chat made him the First Indian Politician to interact with Netizens this way. Of course, #Modi Hangout, was not the Most Trending Topic on Twitter without a reason. And enemies are enemies anyway, not trailing behind, #VoteOutModi was the third most trending.
    Is this Record too easy to beat ?

    Now, back to the Present ...

    Cut! To 16-05-2014, his (or NDA's) Historic Win in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, leaves no room for other competing 'clan' to be even in the Opposition. It makes not only the Indian Stock Market bloom, but also makes Mr. Modi beat Salman Khan as The Most Re-tweeted on Twitter.

    I must admit it, I am no Fan of Mr. NaMo, nor do I go berserk for any Political Leader at all. But Yes, The Candidate who promises me to make my country shine globally, makes the youth go gaga over him, runs a chill down the spine of the Opposing Parties, makes even Kids take interest in Politics, can JUST NOT GO UN-NOTICED.


    The people who called him a Tsunami, may not be knowing that Sea, has always had the nature of being calm for years of atrocities we people do to it but, if just once it retorts, it sweeps away the dirt off the shores, sometimes also away from the catchments .


    This could be the impact of 'Modi-Leher'...


    Also,not to forget, if observed closely, 'Leher' i.e waves have a tendency to absorb what is worthy, and ebbing out, all the dirt and mud back to the coast.



    An old Hindi Doha goes as,


    "साधू ऐसा चाहिए जैसा सूप सुभाए ,

    सार-सार तो गही लए, थोथा दे उड़ाए "


    It sums up Mr Modi's character, i.e, gather just blessings and positivity, take criticism in your stride,and move on.

    Certainly, might of the 'Leher' is greater than that of some regular tide.


    Be it the release of Diamond Merchants from China, taking support for a 'Vibrant Gujarat' from Japan and Singapore, making his 'Gujarat Development Model' a rage overseas, this Man did go every mile to make his State recover from the loss it went through after being shook by a major Earthquake more than a decade ago. Certainly, he has strong reasons to back up his being chosen as Gujarat's Chief Minister for four consecutive terms.

    But, most of us have a habit, to focus on the bad ones, and neglect all the good deeds one has ever done.


    OK! He might be alleged as a Pro-Hindu, Communal, not so Secular, someone who invaded a Lady's telephonic privacy, refused to wear a Skull-cap offered to him by a Muslim Cleric, involved in extra-judicial killings... Just MAY BE...


    Still!!!


    Why not see how he observed serial fasts, solely to make a communal contact, in eight different cities?


    Why not admire, how now even a Neighboring country like Pakistan, looks up to Gujarat's Solar Park, and Kalpasar projects to seek a solution to their internal Power crisis?


    Why not appreciate someone who claims he would give us a Cleaner India??


    Why can't we just ignore his 'Relationship Status' and rather focus on how good relations he lets India build with the rest of the world?

    Why can't we forget to which community he belongs? Now, Who is being Communal?

    Why not respect him, who gives us the hope of Employment, Development, Empowerment and Economic boost?

    Why not trust a Man with the future of our Mother Land who, at 63, doesn't forget to seek his Mother's blessings before even the smallest moves of his life?

    WHY NOT!!!


    Yes, I agree, it's not only the King who makes the Kingdom win, it's the Kings-men, and the cavalry too. A Leader is briefed about his responsibilities, BUT, in order to execute it, De-briefing is equally essential, so say the Principles of Entrepreneurship. And who could do this better than a Man who commands Respect, A Man who is surrounded with the Aura of Simplicity, Authority and Gravity?


    Believing not him, but the wisdom that made us Vote for him, I am hopeful that HE WILL give us all the Country Of Our Dreams.


    And as Mr. Narendra Modi himself urges, giving this SEWAK a chance to serve and replenish India, reward it with a New Era and a New lease of life, like all those who have invested loads of trust in him, I, offer my ode to Mr. Narendra Modi ji.
    Wishing him all the Luck in his journey,

    With the Caution:

    "Handle our Nation with CARE and SELFLESSNESS.


    We would want to cheer ... NAMOSKAAR BHARAT!!"



    .........