January 31, 2014

M:I - 31. The End.

It's over. Finally it's over. And I can't explain how relieved I feel at this point. Although not as happy as I anticipated (it's always same with any kind of success), I am proud that I kept my promise to myself.

First and foremost I want to thank everyone with whom I shared my posts. Even though you might not have read even a single post, I had this 'pressure' to come up with something everyday for last 31 days, because I knew at least one of you would be anticipating it in the morning. Without this kind of accountability I am not sure if I would have even reached till Day 10. So Thank You! 

I didn't "write" every single day, I just published everyday. I had some "ready made" posts, had rough drafts of few posts that I wanted to finish. I also tried to keep myself ahead of the schedule by writing in batches on weekends. But 31 was too large a volume to write. I had some scary days when I would find myself writing late at night so that I could share in the morning. On some days my home internet was not working which meant I wouldn't have been able to post. But, thank God, for making smartphones, mobile internet and USB tethering.

It wasn't easy. I had to lose 1-2 hours of sleep almost everyday to be able to keep up with the writing schedule. Somedays were particularly difficult when I was dead tired and I would just want to hit the sack but had to keep myself awake to review/write a post. I also broke a number of promises, and am way behind my other resolutions .

Most popular posts according to Page views.

Not all the posts were particularly inspiring to write. Some I personally thought could have been better, but I had to post anyway for the lack of time. And, I couldn't come up with the debut episode of podcast which was a huge disappointment personally.

There were some surprises too. I thought the All Hail Buffalo post would gain a lot more popularity, but it didn't. Same was the case with all 3 poems. On the other hand, there were some posts which got a lot more popular than expected.

I tried to do everything I could think of this month. I wrote from love to porn to politics to humor to personal to professional. Short ones, as well as the long ones. The commentary, the stories, the satires, the poems, the songs. There were a few Hindi stuffs mixed with mostly English. I even wrote about some deeply personal stuffs that I had to think multiple times before posting. I dared to try different styles. I dared to be honest in my writing. I was scared I would be chided about some of the stuffs, but thankfully people understood (or just didn't care).

Some of you gave feedback and valuable comments on some of the articles. They were mostly words of appreciation which acted as a fuel to keep me going, and also some criticism here and there (people who provide constructive criticism are my favorite, you deserve a treat from me!). 

I know I wrote so much that some of you had difficulty keeping up. I apologize for it, but that's the way it was going to be. I will keep February quite cold on writing front, so that we can come on the same page.

As I hoped, I have been able to clear my back log of ideas, so the new posts would be on fresh  ideas! You have given me some interesting ideas to write about, a lot of which are really difficult for me to attempt as a writer. Thanks for trusting me with that. I hope I won't disappoint when I attempt some of them.

I made a few new fans of the "Untitled" story and took it forward. I promise I will be completing it this year only, with a few more parts coming in February. 

At one point I even thought to make it a 50 day challenge and I know I could complete that too. But it's not worth the effort now. Other aspects of my life are getting affected due to this. So now for the rest of the year, I will try to write few but more awesome (read deep, passionate, embarrassing, untried of) topics.

Now if you stayed with me from the starting up to this sentence, I ask you of one last thing: What was your favorite post(s) and why? 

Thanks again from the bottom of my heart. I am grateful you spared time to read me :)

PS: I hope you remember my challenge for February. ;)

Screenshot of the Note I kept, listing all the planned posts. I would check the ones that I kept on writing. The unchecked ones would just make me go mad. 

January 30, 2014

February: The Toughest Month Yet

What will happen when all your sources of distraction/procrastination are taken away from you?
Will you suddenly get more productive?
Or will you just get fed up and give up?
Or will you find alternate sources of distractions.
Or find chinks in the rules to still avoid having to do the hard work?

In February, I set out to find the answers to these questions.

Here's what I am doing in February:
  • No Newspapers
  • No TV (which is mostly more news)
  • No Blogs (reading)
  • No Twitter
  • No Instagram
  • No Pocket
  • No Movies
  • No TV series episodes
  • No YouTube/Vimeo/Vine (unless it's for learning something)
  • No Music
  • No Podcast (except if I create one of my own)
  • No Video Games

Here's what will remain:
  • Whatsapp/Hangout (but only between 10 pm - 12 pm. I am not sure if I can pull this one. I like complete ban than having to control myself).
  • Google Plus (but ONLY to post weekly updates on resolutions and this experiment, and replying to anyone who cares to comment.).
  • Gmail (to check emails as fast as possible and only during 10 pm - 12 pm window).

Here's what I have already done, before posting this.
  • Removed Twitter/Instagram/Pocket/Feedly from mobile and tablet. YouTube being a native app unfortunately won't go. I don't play games usually. But I will remove them as well, if I catch myself playing one. 
  • Blocked these sites on Shraddha.
  • Instructed (read pleaded) family to keep the newspaper away from eyes (newspaper addiction is bad. I have an intuition I will flip on this one.)
  • Created half a dozen filters to automatically take care of more than half of the emails.

So, what will I do (or at least theoretically try to do) instead?

This is just an experiment (but, probably the toughest self-experiment till now). I am not going to punish myself for breaking the rules set above. I am not going to jump out of a vehicle if someone starts playing  music in it. I am not going to sleep on the terrace if family is watching TV on both the floors. I am not going to cry if someone ties me to a chair and make me read the newspapers. I am not going to take a bath in Yamuna Ji if my eyes fall on a blog post (although I might close my eyes).

This is not going to be a perfect experiment. I know that. I can still waste time doing absolutely nothing at all, which will make this experiment an utter waste of efforts. But in any case, I will continue this experiment till the last day of the month (which thankfully has just 28 days). And I am going to be brutally honest if I break any of the above rules (do follow this page. Please).

It's actually a little funny that I need to call this the toughest month ever. There are so many people, either so poor or so busy or so passionate that they don't have time and resource to access any of the above sources to kill time. Just 8-9 years ago, I had none of the above except few hours of TV and an FM radio. 

I am not a hero, or a monk. As I said, this has all the recipes to be a disaster and an embarrassment of an experiment. But I am on the verge of implosion if I don't do anything to achieve what I have set out to achieve. Time is slipping. I am just desperate to make 2014 matter.

January 29, 2014

On Following A Porn Star

Ahh... The post about porn. The post about a porn star. Well if you are one of the conservatives, you can probably skip this. If you are a hypocrite, you can read it and pretend that you skipped it. If you are reading it just to "haww" me, I welcome you. Let's schedule a meeting to discuss porn and "haww" someday. In any case, let's begin...

It started about an year ago. Have you heard about one Sunny Leone? (Oh please don't be disappointed so early!) Like most people I learned about her when she got featured in the Hindi Movie "Jism  2". A lady porn star, that too of Indian origins featuring in a mainstream Hindi movie. It had exciting prospects. Plus the fact that many people told she didn't live up to the "expectations"; I had to, had to watch it to find out. So one fine Sunday in the summer of 2013, I watched. It turned out to be a disaster of a movie. It was expected. But Leone got me hooked!  I am ready to debate she is one of the prettiest actresses in Hindi Film Industry right now. Well... of course, only if you can consider her an actress. Every time she tried doing her "acting thing" in the movie, I was laughing my guts out!

But anyway, Leone was not the point. The point was the porn star and what's it like being one. Pornstars weren't a topic of curiosity for me. But now, I wanted to know more about them. And Leone wasn't going to be my choice. So, I asked my friends to recommend a pretty porn star, "pretty" being the keyword. The good friends that they are, they generously sent a list of their favorites. Now nobody learns about anyone while they are "at work". So, I also researched a little from the list, found someone my age, checked out a few of them who were active on Twitter and lo' and behold : Tori Black.

Now, let's all agree on one fact : she IS beautiful. I mean she isn't the most beautiful female I have ever seen, but she is great! So great, I even started following her on Instagram. But then I stopped checking Instagram. I wanted to subscribe to her site too. But that was mostly - unfortunately but understandably and obviously - NSFW stuffs. And paid too. So, I didn't (couldn't). 

But she did write a few blog posts. I love people who maintain a blog. She was a porn star. And she had a blog. So I read some of that. It was disappointing mostly. She writes normal stuffs, everyday boring general life with mention of her sex life here and there. 

Though as I started following her, I learned about one interesting thing immediately. She was married, and was actually going to become a mommy! She wrote about being mommy. It was cute, but boring again. 

But then I thought, wow! Here's a lady just 1 month older than me. She is famous (try googling her name). She does her own business. She is married with someone she loves. And she is already a mom. Now, I would not want to become a pornstar to trade all that. But still a big shame on me. 

About her twitter feed... She is a regular on twitter, which is a delight. Talks revolve around mostly porn, but she likes to talk about other stuffs too. She would often post selfies like normal boring people. Difference being they would mostly be in bare minimum, or bare none. But she is aesthetic about it most of the times, which is just great.

Also great to see that most people communicate with respect. Compare that with Youtube comments on any "Hot Bollywood Song". No really compare it. Watch a "Hot Bollywood Song" right now.

Here's a list of some of the things I learned about the life of a porn star (by now you would know how much I like lists). It's not boring, but it's not too amazing either. 
  • If you take out the porn, they are normal boring people. Probably with heightened sexual appetite.
  • They are businessman. Just like anyone else. They interact, they engage. And then they sell their product (new paid content).
  • At least the ones at the top, are happy to do it. There's no compulsion.
  • They are not jealous of each other (at least that's what I could perceive). They would generously talk about their peers (read competitors). 
  • They are confident human beings. I mean we all are ashamed to be seen naked. I am. But they have already shown themselves inside out. No embarrassment now. 
  • They are not prostitutes. There's a subtle difference between the two.
  • They are professional. Being a famous pornstar requires HARD WORK. Not everyone can become a pornstar, even if they want to. So they will tear you down if you are disrespectful. 

"Porn is something that cannot be made too public. Ours is a conservative society. It's our duty to stop the children from being exposed to it." I understand all that. My problem is with our double standard on the topic of sex, porn and prostitution. None of us want to talk about it. But then everyone gets engaged with it at some point or another. 

We won't legalize prostitution. Some people suggested banning porn sites completely in India sometime ago. If you get involved in premarital sex you become a stigma on the family's honor. But it's normal to get child-married and have kids early in life. It's fine, if you have a lot more children than you can handle. It's round about OK if there's rape inside family itself.

I won't recommend anyone to become a porn star. But it's so much better than a perfectly normal human being begging on the roads, and involving their little children too. I am also not trying to glorify porn here. I am not trying to push you to become interested in pornstars all of a sudden (I recommend Tori Black if you do). I followed a porn star, solely because I was curious (and of course, she is beautiful). So, I will continue to follow her, despite everything.

A few days ago, I wrote about Why I want a Gay friend. Would I also like a pornstar friend? Umm.. Let's answer it this way:
Would I want to befriend a porn star (with no friends-with-benefit clause)? Sure!
But some of my (male AND female) friends sometimes joke about becoming a porn star one day. That gives me nightmares.

[All pictures taken from Tori's twitter feed. I claim no copyright.]

January 28, 2014

Experience of working in Indian IT Services Sector

I am not going to mention the name of the organization that I work for, because it's irrelevant.  My comments are on Indian IT sector in general, after hearing a similar plight from people of other organizations. And before I start, I must clarify that this is totally my experience, yours could be worse or much better than this and that's perfectly OK. 

Growing up and watching the Googles and Apples and Twitters of the world, I also dreamed of doing the same kind of IT-kung-fu that the guys on stage were known to do. But within days of joining, I realized that the Indian IT sector is not about being that Super-Hero Programmers or Analysts/Hackers that you see in Sci-Fi movies. How could I be so naive to not understand the difference between a product based and services based industry!

Past 2 years have made me realize that as long as they are paying me, I am not allowed to make any of my own decisions. All my works and ethics must comply with the Policies of the company (the definition of which keeps on changing from person to person). And being the smallest fish in the pound (or an ocean of 80000+ other fishes) you do not matter at all.

But I did learn a few valuable life lessons about the Indian IT sector. I share here with you with the hope that you would be able to relate to them. I do not intend to preach, I just write them here as notes for self.

1. Work for yourself, not for the company: Simply because the company has employed you for its own benefit.  To squeeze the juices out of you so that they can sell it at a much higher prices. It has nothing to do with your betterment. It will help you only if it feels like they stand to gain if you gain something. The compensation, the perks are just to be competitive with the rival companies. So, I do not see a reason to be proud of your company or do something for its benefit. Do it only if YOU get a kick out of doing it.

2. Do not try to appease your bosses, just do what's expected of you: Doing it for the appraisal at the end of the year or being a 'good guy' in the eyes of your boss by selling your self-respect is not worth it. And of course seeing the year-end appraisals, I don't see how even selling your soul is going to give you the money that you expect. Much better is to only to do amount and kind of work that helps you sleep well at night.

3. Say NO, don't try to be a hero: At the end of the day, it rarely matters if you worked an hour earlier or extra, or skipped lunch. Just so that you could complete the work that was given to you at the umpteenth hour. Because 3 months down the line, nobody is going to remember your 'sacrifices'. If it's the fault of the other guy why do you want to save his ass?

4. Follow the process, even if it says to go fall in the ditch: That's one thing that I have learnt very well. If you follow the process, even going against common sense is pardoned. You just have to follow the set protocol and then let the other guy who DID NOT follow the rules take the fall for it!

5. Nobody is your friend here. Except your friends: Unless you are a relative or a BFF, do not expect anyone to do something for you as a favor. And if someone actually does something, consider it more of an exception.  The HR guys, the Admin guys, The Managers, the Owners, you are just an expendable resource to them. Whatever they say, please do not believe them.

6. All the integrity and honesty these big companies talk about is just full of bull crap: They will lie to the customer, give them false information and amplify their own value to the client so that they can loot them and fill their own coffers (screw the hard working employees).

7. Go milk the cow, and do not be ashamed to do it: I always have trouble doing things which I know are not 'morally correct'. Back-stabbing someone or not doing what I am supposed to do. But now I can say, if you feel like you are not getting back for the amount that you give in, probably it might not be wrong to bend the rules of the game. 

8. Machines work here, and you are going to become one: Soulless. Where's the understanding of one's personal ambitions? Where's the gratitude for someone doing something perfectly, even if it was their 'job'? Where's the 'fad' of being courteous to the one who's at a lower rank or less experienced than you? Where's the 'trend' of working together as one single cohesive team and encouraging even the 'weakest link' to contribute? Ahh.. Perhaps I am dreaming a bit too much. 

I always thought that the IT guys were 'nerdy' and 'boring' to the outside world, but they were coo! in reality because they did and knew things that most people don't. But now I think, we are merely the mechanics or the clerks of the world with a computer in our hand. If doing whatever shit your boss gives you and keeping the client's asses happy is what IT is about, instead of learning new exciting technologies everyday and working with the smart brains and challenging situations; then well I say thank you very much IT.

Am I writing this just because I have to grind my way up to success which is slower than I had expected? I don't know.  Am I writing this only because I am not one of those few 'lucky bastards' who get to make it too early in their career? I am not one of them, so I won't know!

Here is hoping for a better future and may the Indian IT sector prosper.

January 27, 2014

About Broken Promises

You always want to be remembered as a good person, don't you? Someone who mattered in the lives of other persons. Someone whom people can trust. I am no different. I am constantly on the edge, scared to lose family and friends. How would all the money, fame and happiness matter if you have no one to share with? 

A good friend leaves this week after 2.5 years of being together, and I am sad and pained, as always. The thought of not meeting a close friend anymore gets too overwhelming sometimes. So, whenever they leave, I try not to think about it until they are gone for good. 

But severing true friendship, while easier, is far more painful than cutting off from friends. If friends go away, you always have hope that you can get them back. But if friendship is lost, it's probably lost forever. And one of the easiest ways to lose friendship is to lose the trust of friends. And one of the easiest ways to lose trust is to break promises. And this is what I have been doing. And recently more often than not. And I certainly don't feel good about it. 

There have been innumerable instances where I have promised something and not delivered it. Or more appropriately, not delivered it on time. Often I just get into something interesting and then just can’t resist the temptation to continue with it, and don't care about the consequences of not keeping my own words:

  • So many times I have cancelled my meetings because I was watching an interesting movie or reading an interesting blog or story.
  • So many times I have been late for my appointments just because I wanted to listen to one more track from an album before I start getting ready.
  • So many times I have let my friends wait because I was probably coding something or writing a piece and didn’t want to leave it in between (or was too lazy to bath and get ready).
  • So many times I have promised to call someone but never did, just because I was ‘busy’. Sometimes I am actually busy or in a situation where taking up or making calls might not be possible or convenient. But often I deliberately put myself into such situations just so that I don’t have to indulge in ‘small talk’ which I am really path3tic in.
  • Some many times I have resolved (self-promised) to do something and then got lazy and lost motivation and came back to step 1 (or step 0). I am running so far behind in my new year resolutions, I have already started to doubt if 2014 could really be my greatest year yet. It's just soul crushing.

...As I said, the instances are numerous and enumerating more is only going to make me more depressed

Of course, my bad habits haven’t proved fatal to anybody (yet) but often they have jeopardized the others' plans. The same people whom I claim to be fond of so much, have been inconvenienced because of something that I could have avoided. All that was needed from me was a little bit of professionalism and seriousness and courage from my side. That's just shameful.

Sometimes the things do get out of control and I can’t help the situation. But those scenarios are a rarity. More often I promise stuff just to keep up with my ‘nice guy’ image, fully knowing that I won’t be able to deliver it. But I let the future RavS take care of the mess, at least the present RavS is getting the accolades, right?

People forgive and forget but I remember and then I lose respect in my own eyes. Something has to change, and it has to change fast and permanently. Keeping promises is, like most things, a habit. A habit that can be developed. All that is needed is some set rules and a willingness to follow them. 

I want to try and keep all the promises that I make during February (we will see for the coming months after that), and I need your help:

  • If you want me to do something, make me promise you that. Make me actually say "I promise", in any comprehensible language. Record it. Make me sign it on a piece of paper. Make me take an oath if you feel so (I will be carrying a pdf of Bhagwat Geeta in my tablet, if it's needed). And get a set point of time when that promise will be completed. 
  • And if after doing all that, I still fail to deliver, then punish me. Make the failed promise public. Ridicule me. You get to make me do any embarrassing thing that you want (I will come and clean your toilet if you please). And make that public too.

I will also try to be more conscious about my promises and their consequences, but I just can't do it without accountability. Hence your help.

I know this will mean saying "NO" a lot more often. I hate to say this word, and probably you will also hate to hear it. But, it's still better than not being impeccable with my words. When I wrote Resetting Priorities I kept "Family" over "Promises", and that still holds true. I will just hope Family won't come in between the promises.
I want to be the guy who if promises you something, you KNOW in your heart I will do anything to keep it. I want to be that person, whom you can trust MORE than yourself, more than ANYONE in the world. Someone whose promise can let you sleep peacefully, without an iota of doubt. 
Will you help me become that person?

January 25, 2014

Untitled: Part 10

[Previous Part]


"Ohh...". I was both delighted and disappointed at the same time. 

I was happy that my 'A-ending name' theory proved to be right. But Saara wasn't a South Indian Name. 

"Shraddha would have been golden! Even Saarika, Sirisha, Sachita, Sadhna, there were so many choices. But Saara? Really?", I thought.

"Saara? Really?" I said. I realized, I was thinking too loud.

"Yeah, Saara", she said in her typical faint voice.

"But...", the phone started blaring again. I made an apologetic smile, and took out the phone from pocket. As I looked at the caller ID, I could see she was waiting for my question to finish.  

It was Parag. The God damn of a Parag. The utter disgrace in the name of a friend. 4th call in last 1 hour. Why can't he just let me be alone for a few minutes?

I knew he had to be terminated from the scene. I picked up the call this call this time, "Yeah Parag". 

"What the hell!!! Where in the freaking hell are you? You know I am going to smash you into half once I meet you", Parag was at his loudest best.

"Mate, I am stuck somewhere. My bus got into an accident, and I am just trying to find my way out.", I tried to remain calm and not utter back cuss words in front of the lady. But Parag's voice and timing were not helping the cause.  

 "Oh, to hell with you and your accidents. The movie starts in 15 mins, and I am going in. Saif and Pankaj are also going with me. You can stay wherever you are and have fun yourself.", Parag said. 

"Screw you too mate!!", I shouted back, and disconnected..

I immediately apologized, "I am so sorry. He is just an annoying friend I met a few days ago". 

I knew Parag since 7 years. He was probably my best friend. He was there when I had nobody to talk to. But I thought the details didn't matter at this moment.

We started walking again. The weird silence crept in as we paced through the almost empty pavement with the dark and cloudy weather setting the scene. It was getting unusually cold, and I could see her shivering a little.

I so wanted to offer my coat like a movie hero, and earn some brownie points. Only problem was that I didn't have any coat, and I was probably shivering more than her. I felt helpless.

"But, Saara doesn't sound like a South Indian name", I completed my question after 8 minutes. 

"Yeah", she was terse again.

"Then?", I wasn't going to take a short answer for an answer.

She paused for a few seconds. I waited patiently.

"My father wasn't from here. He was from Jammu. He named me Saara.", I noticed a slight quiver in her voice. 

Daughter of a guy from North! It was getting interesting. 

"Oh, OK. But what does Saara mean?", I had this habit of asking for the meaning of names which I don't understand. 

"The name Saara is of Arabic origins. It means Princess. He used to say I was his little princess.", her father was quite right, I thought. It brought a slight smile on my face.

"I am so sorry about your father's loss", I tried to be sympathetic.

"He is not dead". I stopped for a second, but she moved ahead without emotions.

"I don't understand."

"He doesn't live with us. My father's parents didn't like my mom. So, he left my mother when I was 3 years old. Sometimes he would send me gifts. But he never calls. I don't know what my father looks or sounds like", I could see a deep pain run through her face.

"My mother only has a few old photographs of them together. A few years ago I found out, he married someone else.", I sensed she needed someone to hold her. But I was just a stranger whom she met 20 minutes ago. I didn't dare to move an inch.

She took a minute to come back to her senses, "So while he isn't technically dead, he is as good as dead for us. Probably you can be sorry for my father". 

Who knew a pretty girl sitting on a bus stop would have such a terrible history. World is such a strange little place. I was also surprised she was telling all this to a guy about whom she didn't knew anything, except his first name and hometown. I deducted she didn't have too many people to talk to about this.

We reached the end of the road and took a turn to a narrow lane. It seemed to be shortcut to reach the other end, and take the next road. The lane looked like the backyard of some abandoned buildings.

"Aaayyy...", a strong burly voice coming from behind us, startled us.

I feared the worst. This was a secluded place, it was pretty dark even in the middle of the afternoon. I could see two long shadows on the road in front, coming closer slowly. And I had a girl alongside me.

With a pounding heart, I turned behind...

[To be Continued]

January 24, 2014

The RavS and The Art of Changing Hair Styles

I have this itch to constantly tinker with my looks. It's almost an obsession and I have been called a number of things due to it. Good too, but mostly bad - show off, cartoon, attention seeker and what not. Do I mind? Yeah, I mind. I mind it so much that I want to punch the person on the nose. But I don't care about it that much to stop doing something that "I do for myself".

One of my characteristics is to experiment. While hair and beard and moustache are for everyone to see and comment, I experiment with dozens of little things week after week, month after month. Anyone who has read all the posts here would know I have experimented with different styles of writing, different themes, different lengths, different formats, etc. etc. In fact, many of these post have been about a number of weird experiments on self and others.

When I write code, I try different techniques too. One time I painstakingly wrote a program through OO paradigm, that could have been so easily done via procedural techniques. Sometimes I deliberately write shitty piece of code just to give myself a 'feel' of what happens when the code standard is sub-par. Sometimes I don't document, other times I over-document.

I haven't told you about my 5-hour/day sleep experiment, the 19-hour study marathon, the touch-feet-of-elders-everyday experiment, the ask-a-question-every-hour-even-if-you-know-the-answer experiment, the don't-break-eye-contact-first experiment, the year long write-750-words-a-day experiment (Ok may be told this one). The point is : my life is woven around different kinds of experiments. Some succeed moderately, most fail so miserably and embarrassingly that I vow never to discuss it with anyone.

Now that I have set the context, it will be easier to answer some questions:

Why can't I just stay with a style for long?

Losing my hair is something I fear a lot, probably only second to losing my family and friends. It's known even to my yet-to-be-adopted pet that men suffer from hair loss a lot more than women (ladies have a lot of advantages on genetic level, I hate you ladies). Hair it seems has a shorter life span than human nowadays. So, I go with the philosophy of "do it, while you have it". Besides, I have this kinda OCD of tinkering with stuffs.

But why just experiment with hair? 

Why not experiment with clothes and other accessories? Good question, but easy to answer - hair styling is cheap and easy! Besides buying a lot of clothes and accessories goes against my minimalist philosophy. So, yes I like accessories. But mostly I find it a 'burden' to carry and to store & take care. More about it some other day.

Do I do all this to seek attention? 

A 2 part answer:
1. Everybody loves attention. Some of us avoid the limelight, but we all love attention.
2. On a subconscious level - probably yes. But on a conscious level it is about seeking answers : What if I keep my hair long and wear a band? How would I look with a pony tail (ask my mom)? How about keeping the hair reverse parted? What will happen if I keep my hair short? Mohawk? Can I ever carry off a moustache?

Now here is the most amusing part, every style I keep at least one person tells me that it is much better while some other person will tell it's worse than the last one! People just try to project their own experiences, thoughts, fears on you. So, doing something just to impress someone is not worth the effort (and I say this after actually trying to impress a few people).

Whatever you do in your life, you will be commented upon. The only way to not be called upon is to just be average (and I don't say this just in the context of styling); to fall in line, to do exactly what others are doing, to not question the set standards, to kill any idea you want to try in any field just because people will find it weird, and you might get embarrassed.

If you live your life based on others' point of view, you will always be utterly confused (personal experience!). It's better to man up (or woman up) and do what you like, and let the world go to hell. And probably try a new hair style :)

PS1: I don't take the credit for any of the hair styles I have tried over the years. They are mostly inspired/copied from others. But then most my writings are inspired/copied from others.

PS2: A big THANKS to my sister who advises me in trying new styles, and everyone else who don't give a shit about it.

PS3: Update on Moustache: It's grown longer and denser and now it's become difficult to maintain symmetry. It has become a constant distraction, having to fight with the gravity all the time. Next week is going to be the last of it. Will probably take a final picture.

PS4: I had initially decided to put up pictures of all the styling done in last 1000 days. But then it was going to be too much work for the lazy me. Also, I realized that  I don't have as many pictures as I would have liked. Probably should archive myself more often.

PS5: Sorry for abusing the PS. But as I said, it's all about experimenting. 

January 23, 2014

ABAP पार्टी

देश में आजकल चुनाव का बुखार था। अखबार राजनीति से जुडी खबरों से पते पड़े थे। "आप " पार्टी कि आजकल तूती  बोल रही थी।  उनकी बारे बस दो ही खबरें नज़र आती। किस तरह (उनके हिसाब से) उन्होंने अपना वादा पूरा किया, और किस तरह (विपक्ष के हिसाब से ) उन्होंने अपने वादा पूरा नहीं किया। लेकिन अगर इन सब से किसी का कद ऊंचा हो रहा था तो अरविन्द भाई साहब का। पार्टी खोल लेने भर से सब जगह उन्ही का नाम, उन्ही कि वाहवाही नजर आ रही थी।  बाकी पार्टी के नेता जो मर्जी करें लेकिन अरविन्द भाई गलत नहीं हो सकते थे। लगता था दूसरी पार्टियों के नेता खीज कर उनके और उनकी पार्टी के खिलाफ अनाप शनाप बोल रहे थे।  लेकिन अरविन्द भाई पर कोई उसका कोई प्रभाव नहीं पड़ता दिखता था।  काश मैं भी किसी पार्टी का नेता होता। …

मन में एक विचार गयी हुई बिजली की तरह कौन्धा ! मैं झट से शौचालय से क्रिया-कलाप समाप्त कर बाहर निकला और अपने दोस्त हरिराम प्रसाद के घर की ओर दौड़ लगाई।  उसका घर बस 3 मकान छोड़ कर ही था।

"अबे हरिया, जल्दी से बाहर आ" , हरिया अभी तक सो ही रहा था।  रविवार के दिन 11 बजे से पहले उठना वो घोर पाप समझता था, और अभी तो केवल सवा 9 ही हुए थे।  4-5 बार दरवाजा पीटने के बाद महाशय बाहर निकले।  "अरे भाई सुबह सुबह किसकी माँ मर गयी?", हरिया जम्भाई लेते हुए बोला।

"चल हरिया, हम भी एक पार्टी बनाकर चुनाव लड़ते हैं!". हरिया ने कुछ पल मेरी बात समझने में लगे, फिर फ़ौरन घर में घुस दरवाजा बंद कर लिया।

"अबे हरिया, बाहर निकल कमीने।"

"मैं नहीं निकलता, आज सुबह सुबह कहाँ से  भांग खाकर आ रहे हो?"

"अरे मेरी बात तो सुन …", मैंने दरवाजा दुबारा पीटना शुरू किया।

कुछ देर कि मशक्कत के बाद हरिया बाहर निकलकर आया, "देखो भाई, तुम्हारी तो शादी के कोई आसार नहीं।  लेकिन मेरी घर वाले ने 2 महीने बाद शादी फिक्स कर रखी है। चाहो तो पाँव पड़ जाता हूँ लेकिन मुझे इस नए बवाल से माफ़ ही करो। "

"अबे तू तो हद्द ही कर रहा है।  यहाँ हमारे शहर को हमारे जैसे युवाओं कि सख्त जरूरत है।  और तुझे शादी करने कि चुल्ल मच रही है ?

"सुन रहे हो इमाम साहब, क्या कह रहे हैं जनाब? शहर के किसी दफ्तर को इन बेरोजगार मियाँ की जरूरत नहीं और ये कहते हैं की पूरे शहर को इनकी जरूरत आन पड़ी है !", हरिया सामने चाय कि दूकान पर बैठे इमाम मोहम्मद शराफत नजाकत अली खान से बोला।

इमाम साहब से मेरी कुछ ख़ास नहीं बनती थी।  वो बैठे हुए, हिंदी अखबार के साथ रविवार को आने वाले अंतरंग में चेहरा गड़ाए हुए थे।  हरिया की बात सुनी और फिर चश्मे से नजरें ऊंची करके मेरी तरफ ऐसे देखा कि जैसे मैंने अभी अभी उनकी बेटी को भगाने का प्लान बताया हो।  चिहुके , "मियाँ का सर फिर गया है, किसी अच्छे अस्पताल में इलाज कराओ।"

"सुन लिया जनाब, अब जाइये घर जाकर कुछ काम धंधा कीजिये। तुम भी यार टॉयलेट में बैठे बैठे रोज नए तिगड़म भिड़ाते रहते हो। "

मैंने हारिये के पैजामे का नाड़ा पकड़ा, तो वो अपने आप मेरे पीछे-पीछे हो लिया। हमने आकर इमाम साहब के अगली सीट पर तशरीफ़ रखी।

"क्यों इमाम साहब, आप ऐसा काहे कह रहे हैं? मैं पार्टी बनाने की बात कर रहा हूँ, बीच महफ़िल में क़त्ल करने की हिमाकत तो नहीं?"

"अमा मियाँ पार्टी बनाना गुड्डे गुड़ियों का खेल है क्या? वो केजरिये को तो पार्टी बनाने से पहले ही आधा हिंदुस्तान जानता था, तुम्हें तो रात को तुम्हारी गली के कुत्ते भी पहचानने से इंकार कर देते हैं।  और तुम्हारी पार्टी में आएगा कौन? ये हरिया, जिसे अपने बीड़ी गांजे से फुर्सत नहीं मिलती, ला हुअल वला क़ुव्वत।या ये कन्हैय्या जो आज कल मोहल्ले की काम वाली के साथ नज़ारे इनायत कर रहा है ?"

मैंने कन्हैय्या कि तरफ देखा। उसका चेहरा उसकी चाय के पतीले से ज्यादा लाल था।  शर्माते हुए दो चाय लाकर हमारे सामने रख दी।

मैंने मन में सोचा, मुझसे से अच्छा तो ये कन्हैय्या ही है। यहाँ हम 25 बरसों में एक कन्या को सम्मोहित नहीं कर पाये, और इस साले ने 5 महीने में तीसरा चक्कर चला लिया। लानत है ऐसी ज़िन्दगी पर।

खुद को सँभालते हुए बोला "अजी इमाम साहब, हिम्मते मर्द तो मर्ददे खुदा" .

हरिया बोला, "भाई मुर्दों की बात ना करो।  यहाँ कल को सड़क पर कोई कुचल जाय तो कफ़न तक के पैसे जेब में नहीं हैं। चुनाव के लिए पैसा क्या FDI से लाओगे ?"

हरिया की बात में दम था, लेकिन बेइज्जती न हो इसलिए काटना भी जरूरी था, "अबे चुनाव लड़ने के लिए पैसे की नहीं अकल कि जरूरत होती है, हरामखोर।  एक बार पार्टी बन गई तो कोई न कोई रईस आ ही जाएगा हमें चंदा देने।वर्ना  उधार लेकर लड़ लेंगे। "

हरिया का चेहरा सुर्ख हो गया।  हमारे ऊपर वैसे ही ५ लोगों का कर्जा था। हमारा क़र्ज़ तो हिमेश रेशमिय़ा के कर्ज़ज़ज़ज़   से भी ज्यादा खौफनाक था।  अब और क़र्ज़ लेने का  मतलब था गरीबी रेखा के नीचे चले जाना।

हरिया का सांप-सुंघा चेहरा देख कर मैंने बात सम्भाली, "लेकिन ऐसा  कुछ नहीं होगा।  जिसका कोई नहीं होता उसका ऊपर वाला होता है। "

हरिया ने पलट ज़वाब दिया , "भाई साहब आप जिस तरह की ऊल-जलूल बात कर रहे हो, उसे सुनकर ऊपर वाला सबसे पहले भाग खड़ा होगा। अबे अगर नेता बनने का इतना ही शौक है तो 'आप' वालों में ही जाकर  घुस जाते हैं ना?"

"नहीं कतई नहीं, उनकी पार्टी में गए तो नेता बनते बनते बाल सफ़ेद हो जायेंगे। उस बिन्नी का क्या किया उन्होंने देखा नहीं तूने? और उनके नेताओं को सुना है कभी ? कहते हैं कि छोटे लोग आम आदमी नहीं होते ? अमीर लोग भी होते हैं।  लगता है जो उनकी पार्टी को सपोर्ट करता है वो आम आदमी है और बाकी सब साले भाजपा के सदस्य हैं।  हम छोटे लोगों कि आवाज बनेंगे एक छोटी सी पार्टी बनाकर। उसमे हर गिरे से गिरा हुआ इंसान शामिल हो पायेगा। "

इमाम साहब से चुप थे, सुनकर बोले, "चलो मान लिया कि गली मोहल्ले के कुछ लुच्चे लफंगे आवारा तुम्हें पार्टी बनाने के लिए मिल जाता हैं। और ये भी मान लिया की मुल्क के लोगों कि अक्ल मेरे घर कि बकरी कि तरह घास चरने चली जाती है, और तुम दो चार सीट जीत भी जाते हो।  लेकिन बिजली, पानी , ईमानदारी तो वो केजरिया ला रहा है।  तरक्की, प्रगति, सुशाशन की बात तो वो मोदी करता है, माँ का सपना पूरा करने की बात कोंग्रेस वाले करते हैं।  तो तुम नया क्या करोगे? "

मैंने ऊंचे स्वर में पलटवार किया, "मेरा मकसद जीतना नहीं, विकल्प देना है!!"

"लेकिन विकल्प तो आप वाले दे रहे हैं?", हरिया बोला।

"अबे जब मोबाइल, कंप्यूटर, गाड़ियों के इतने विकल्प हैं तो पार्टियों में 1 ही विकल्प क्यों? हम AAP का विकल्प देंगे - ABAP"

"ABAP?", हरिया और इमाम एक साथ बोले। कन्हैय्या ने भी पार्टी का नाम सुनकर जूठे गिलास मांजने बंद कर दिए।

मैंने सीना तान कर दोहराया, "हाँ ABAP - Aapki Bhains Aapki Party. हमारी पार्टी का चुनाव चिन्ह भी  भैंस ही होगा।और हमारी पार्टी में सिर्फ वही लोग चुनाव के उमीदवार होंगे जिनके घर में कम से कम एक भैंस होगी। इससे जनता के बीच में ये मेसेज जाएगा की  हम सही में छोटे लोग हैं।  असली मायने में छोटी केटेगरी के आम आदमी।  "

"पार्टी का नाम तो कुछ भी अनाप-शनाप रख लो."

"अनाप शनाप नहीं 'अबाप' ", मैंने इमाम साहब कि बात को काटते हुए कहा।

"हाँ वही. अब चाहे अबाप बोलो या मजाक बोलो। कभी सोचा भी है की तुम्हारी पार्टी चुनाव जीतकर करेगी क्या? कौन से वायदे पूरे करेगी ? कब तक करेगी ?

"इमाम साहब मैं तो आपको वही समझा रहा हूँ।  हमारी पार्टी का मकसद चुनाव जीतना होगा ही नहीं।  हम तो बस विपक्ष में जाकर बैठेंगे !"

"क्या बक रहे हो ?", इमाम साहब ने त्योरियां चढ़ा लीं।

"जी हाँ, विपक्ष में बैठ कर काम करने वालों में खोट निकलने में, उनका मजाक उड़ाने में जो मजा है, वो खुद काम करने में कहाँ है ? और अगर सरकार ने गलती से सही में कुछ ज्यादा ही अच्छा काम कर लिया तो जनता के मूड को भांपते हुए हम सरकार की बी-टीम बन जायेंगे। "

"तो जनाब, अगर आपको अपना उल्लू ही सीधा करना है तो निर्दलिय ही खड़े क्यों नहीं हो जाते? ये पार्टी के चोंचलों में क्यों पड़ते हो ?"

"इमाम साहब आप भी नौसिखियों सी बातें करते हो।  निर्दलिय जीता भी तो एक ही जगह जीतूंगा। उसमे मेरी औकात ही क्या रहेगी ? कहीं से 8-10 सीटें हाथ लग गयी तो हमारा भी भला और जनता का भी भला।  आप बस ये बताओ की हमारी पार्टी का समर्थन करोगे या नहीं ?"

इमाम साहब इससे पहले मुँह खोलते, उनकी साहब-जादी खाने के लिए बुलाने आ गयी। उम्र लगभग मेरे ही बराबर होगी। आज पीले रंग के सूट में गजब ही धा रही थी।लगता था बस अभी-अभी नहा धो कर ही आ रही थी। अगर ऐसी उमीदवार मेरी पार्टी को मिल जाए तो इस देश के क्या, दुसरे देशों के भी चुनाव जीत जाऊं।

जब मैं उस असीम सुंदरता को अपनी इंद्रियों में कैद कर रहा था, असीम सुंदरता के अब्बा मुझ पर ही गौर फार्म रहे थे।

"ला हॉल विला कुव्वत!  तुम जैसे नामुरादों को समर्थन देने से अच्छा मैं अपना समर्थन गंदे नाले में डालना ज्यादा पसंद करूँगा।रखो तुम अपनी भैंस और अपनी पार्टी अपने पास", कहकर वो उठ खड़े हुए।उनकी बेटी ने एक नजर मुझे दया-दृष्टि से देखा और फिर उनके पीछे हो ली।

 मैंने पलटकर देखा तो हरिया कब का खिसक लिया था। अब बस कन्हैय्या ही बचा था।

"तेरी क्या राय है कन्हैय्या?", थक हारकर मैंने पूछा।

"राय जाय तेल लेने। मुझे बस 18  रूपये दे दो "

"18 रूपये? लेकिन हमने तो दो ही चाय ली थी। "

"हाँ इमाम साहब ने अपनी चाय के पैसे नहीं दिए।"

मन में सोचा इसी बहाने कंजूस इमाम पर रौब डालने का मौका मिल जाएगा। मगर पार्टी बनाने का प्लान फिलहाल कुछ दिन टालना ही पड़ेगा। मैंने उनके भी 6 रूपये कन्हैय्या को दिए और अपने घर की ओर वापस चलता बना।

January 22, 2014

Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga... [The Reprise]

Note: The following is a "RavS & Pro - duction". Republished from FB notes. It's so awesome that it deserved to be posted on the main blog instead of 1000Sher, and didn't need the usual transliteration in Hindi and translation in English. It's perfect just the way it is.

The video of the original song. It was fairly good too. 

Hooooooo.... Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga...
Jaise torrent ki seed,
Jaise 8MBps ki speed,
Jaise PMO ki tweet,
Jaise Adobe suite,
Jaise DSLR cam,
Jaise inbox me spam,
Jaise ghadi ghadi IM,
Jaise DDR3 RAM,
Jaise FB wall par kare koi... b'daaaayyyyy wiiisssshhh,

Ek ladki ko... Dekhaa..to aisa lagaa...
Jaise Apple ka Phone,
Jaise Google ka Chrome,
Jaise Windows 7,
Jaise Fedora 11,
Jaise status pe like,
Jaise R15 ki bike,
Jaise forwarded msg,
Jaise unseen passage,
Jaise dheere dheere.... koi kare CAT prepaaaaarrreeee..

Hooooooo ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga
jaise gadget ki dukaan..
jaise khaane ka samaan..
jaise LED TV set..
jaise whatsapp pe chat..
jaise Rajni ki kick..
Jaise Brad Pitt ki chick..
jaise Batmobile..
jaise aa gayi ho feel..
jaise char ghante baad ghar pe bijli ho aayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....

Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga..
jaise Eminem ka rap..
jaise office mein nap..
jaise Fender ka guitar..
jaise parantha achaar..
jaise Sony ka vaio..
jaise Zener ka diode...
jaise "bharat vs pak"..
jaise bhains ki aankh..
jaise koi reason bhi na ho aur mil jaye treeeeeeaaaaaaaat....

January 19, 2014

मेरठ के कीड़े

Note: Below is a work of fiction. While any resemblance with anyone would be totally coincidental, I have tried to keep it 'believable' by using real places and settings. It should be taken as my commentary and thoughts on one of India's prime social issues.

सरधना कि एक कच्ची सड़क पर स्टेट ट्रांस्पोर्ट कि एक छोटी सी बस दौड़ी चली जा रही थी। अंदर बैठे मास्टर साहब कभी अपनी घडी तो कभी ड्राइवर को देखते। आज फिर स्कूल पहुँचने में देर हो रही थी।  मास्टर साहब सेंट जॉन इंटर कॉलेज में गणित पढ़ाते थे। वे वैसे तो बहुत तल्ख़ मिजाज के व्यक्ति थे और गणित पर विशेष पकड़ के लिए जाने जाते थे। लेकिन घर से स्कूल पंद्रह कोस दूर होने के कारण अक्सर लेट हो जाते थे। नाम था गजेंद्र कुमार शुक्ला लेकिन लोग उन्हें मास्टर जी ही बुलाना पसंद करते थे।

नवंबर का महीना था और सुबह का समय।  हल्की  हल्की सर्द हवा चल रही थी और गुनगुनी धूप में सड़क के किनारे खेतों में लगे सरसों के फूल देखते ही बनते थे। मास्टर साहब को अक्सर खांसी कि शिकायत रहती थी।  शायद ये उनके तुनक व्यवहार का ही परिणाम था। मास्टर साहब ने शॉल कानो पर लपेट ली, और जेब से रुमाल निकाल कर खासने कि क्रिया पूरी की।

सुबह साढ़े आठ बजे  बहुत कम लोगों को ही मास्टर जी के तरह कहीं जाने की आवश्यकता आन पड़ी थी।  बस लगभग आधी ही भरी थी, उनमे ज्यादातर स्कूल के छात्र ही नज़र आते थे।  एक दो छात्र तो स्वयं मास्टर जी की कक्षा के ही थे , और मास्टर जी की तरह लेट चल  रहे थे।  लेकिन जो खुद डाकू हो वो चोर पर क्या ऊँगली करता।  मास्टर साहब ने दूसरी ओर मुंह कर लिया। बस में सभी शांत बैठे थे , शायद मास्टर जी का ही खौफ था।  लेकिन मास्टर जी को कोई शिकायत नहीं थी। घर और स्कूल की  चिल्ल- पोँ के बीच बस में थोड़े सुकून से किसे गुरेज होता।

अचनाक मास्टर जी का ध्यान अपनी सीट से दो सीट आगे बैठे एक युवक और युवती पर गया।  लड़के ने अपने चेहरे पर लाल रंग का रुमाल बाँध रखा था और लड़की ने हरे दुपट्टे से अपना पूरा सर ढका हुआ था।  वो बहुत धीमी आवाज  में कुछ बातें कर रहे थे , लड़की बीच बीच में युवक के कंधे पर अपना सर रख देती।  मास्टर जी को समझते देर न लगी की ये प्रेम प्रसंग का मामला था।  लेकिन लगभग खाली बस में भी दोनों का अपना चेहरा छुपाना मास्टर जी को अटपटा लगा।

मास्टर जी को दूसरों के निजी मामलों में अडंगा देने की गन्दी आदत थी।  थोड़ी देर तक तो वो अपनी सीट पर टिके रहे, लेकिन फिर उनसे रहा न गया।  उठे और युवा जोड़े के बगल वाली खाली सीट पर आकर बैठ गए।  अभी उन्होंने तशरीफ़ भी नहीं रक्खी थी की वो चुहक पड़े "क्यों जनाब कहाँ से हो?" युवती ने तुरंत अपना सर युवक के कंधे से हटाया और चेहरा दूसरी ओर कर दिया।  इससे पहले लड़का कुछ समझ पाता, मास्टर जी ने एक और सवाल दागा - "और ये तुम दोनों ने चेहरा क्यों छुपा रखा है ?"

लड़का जवाब देने के उलट उठ खड़ा हुआ और आस पास देखने लगा। लड़का  लबे कद काठी का लगभग बीस - बाइस साल का युवक प्रतीत होता था।  लम्बे लम्बे बाल और सांवला रंग, कंधे पर एक छोटा सा बैग लटकाया हुआ था।   लड़की ने उसका हाथ कस कर पकड़ा हुआ था। दुपट्टे में चेहरा ठीक से तो नहीं पता लगता था लेकिन उनमे बड़ी बड़ी आँखें और जूड़े में गुंथे बाल जरूर दिख रहे थे। मास्टर जी के अनुमान से लड़की की उम्र भी लगभग उन्नीस बीस कि होगी।

मास्टर जी फिर गरजे - "भाग कर आ रहे हो क्या?" . लड़की ने जोर दिया तो लड़का सीट पर फिर बैठ गया।  चेहरे से रुमाल हटाया, दाढ़ी कई दिनों से नहीं बनाई थी।  आजकल के लड़कों के यही चोंचले हैं , लड़कियों कि तरह लम्बे बाल रखो और गुंडों कि तरह लम्बी दाढ़ी,  मास्टर जी ने सोचा।

लड़के ने मास्टर जी की तरफ नजरें गड़ाई और पलटकर बोला , "कौन हैं आप?"

"मेरा नाम गजेंद्र शुक्ला है। पास के इंटर कॉलेज में पढ़ाता हूँ। बच्चे मुझे मास्टर जी कहना पसंद  करते हैं।  तुम अपनी कहो, क्या नाम है तुम्हारा? "

लड़का फिर चुप हो गया , लड़की उसके पीछे डरी सहमी बैठी थी। वो लड़के के कंधे कि ओट से मास्टर साहब को देख रही थी।

"जी मेरा नाम जावेद है और इसका… इसका नाम महक है।  हम पास के शाहजहांपुर के रहने वाले हैं। "

मास्टर जी मेरठ के नक़्शे से अच्छी तरह वाकिफ थे , भड़क कर बोले  "बेटा शाहजहांपुर यहाँ बगल में नहीं है, कम से कम सौ कौस दूर है, माजरा क्या है ? "

लड़की ने लड़के कि बांह को  और जोर से पकड़ लिया।  लड़का चुप ही रहा।

"अब बोलते हो या करूँ पुलिस को फ़ोन?"

लड़का झल्लाया, "जी कर दीजिये।" मास्टर जी अवाक् रह गए।

"बहुत भाग लिए। बहुत सह लिए।अब मर जाना ही सही लगता है।  कब तक ऐसे ही छुपते रहेंगे।  कहीं काट कर फैंक दिए जाएँ या जला कर ख़ाक कर दिए जाएँ तो वो ही सही है।"

"क्या हुआ बेटे, इतना क्यों भड़क रहे हो?"

"मास्टर साहब बात आप भी खूब जानते हैं।  बात वही है जो आज कल देश के हर छोटे बड़े गाँव-शहर में दोहराई जा रही है। "

"अरे कुछ बताओगे भी या यही गोल गोल घुमाते रहोगे ?"

"मैं और महक शाजहांपुर के पास गफ्फूर मेमोरियल कॉलेज में दो साल से साथ पढ़ते हैं, हमारा घर एक दूसरे से महज पांच कोस दूर है। मैं महक को बहुत चाहता हूँ मास्टर साहब। "

"तो इसमें दिक्कत कि क्या बात है? प्यार करना कोई गुनाह तो नहीं है", मास्टर जी उदार होकर बोले।

"गुनाह प्यार करना नहीं, गुनाह मेरठ के छोटे से कसबे में रहते हुए प्यार करना है। "

"क्या मतलब ?"

"रहने दीजिये मास्टर साहब आप क्या समझेंगे। आपकी पीढ़ी हमें कभी नहीं समझ पायेगी। "

मास्टर जी झुंजला कर रह गए ? एक पल को उन्हें एहसास हुआ की सैंतीस बरस कि उम्र में ही अब वो बूढ़े हो चले थे। बोले, "ऐसा क्या है तुम्हारी पीढ़ी की सोच में जो मैं  नहीं समझ सकता ? तुम ही हो जो अपने बड़ो को कुछ नहीं समझते। क्या हम कभी तुम्हारी उम्र से नहीं गुजरे?"

"माफ़ कीजिये मास्टर साहब, लेकिन आप का समय कुछ और था, जब कुछ पता चलने से पहले ही आपकी शादी किसी से भी कर दी जाती थी।  आज हमें पढ़ाया लिखाया जाता है, आत्मनिर्भर बनने, बड़ा बनने कि तामील दी जाती है। लेकिन अगर हम घरवालों कि मर्जी के बिना किसी को देख भी लें तो आँखें निकाल ली जाती है। "

"तो तुम कहते हो की तुम्हे अपनी मनमानी करने दी जाए? कुछ अच्छा बुरा करो तो उससे रोका न जाए ?"

लड़का जोर से हंसा। लड़की अभी भी चुपचाप सब सुन रही थी।  "जी जरूर रोकिये।  हाथ पैर तोड़ दीजिये कुछ बुरा करें तो। लेकिन मुझे एक बात बताइये कि हमारा कसूर ही क्या है?"

मास्टर जी कुछ नहीं बोले।

"मैं बताता हूँ आपको कि हमारा कसूर क्या है।  हमारा कसूर बस इतना है कि मैं कुरैशी और ये अंसारी है। ये है हमारा कसूर, की हम एक गाँव में एक जात में पैदा नहीं हुए। हमारा कसूर ये है की हमने हमारे माँ-बाप से पूछे बिना मोहब्बत कर ली, जैसे की  उनसे पूछ लेते तो वो ख़ुशी ख़ुशी राजी हो जाते।"

"तो क्या हो गया, अब जाके बोल दो। "

"क़यामत आ जायेगी मास्टर साहब अगर हमारे घर वालों को इसकी भनक भी लग गयी तो। कुछ रोज पहले इसने अपनी अम्मी को हमारे बारे में बताया था।  पता है उन्होंने क्या किया ?"  उसने लड़की का हाथ पकड़ कर आगे किया। उसकी बांह नीली पड़ी हुई थी और कलाई पर जले के निशान थे।

"जानवरो की तरह मारा इसे। और जब जी भर गया तो जलता कोयला इसके हाथ पर रख दिया।और अगर कहीं इसके अब्बा को खबर पड़ जाती तो आज इसकी लाश भी न मिलती।" लड़की ने हाथ पीछे खींच लिया।

"और मेरे बड़े कुरैशी साहब पता है क्या कहते हैं? कहते हैं की तू गोश्त खा, हड्डी क्यों गले में टांगना चाहता है। छी। " …लड़के की आँखों में जलजला सा आ गया था।  लड़की उसके पीछे बैठी सिसकने लगी।

मास्टर जी के पास बोलने को कुछ नहीं था।

"मुझे लगता था की कुछ बन जाऊँगा तो इसके घर जाकर इसका हाथ मांग लूंगा।  लेकिन अब मुझे यकीन हो गया है कि इस वहशत में हमें कोई नहीं समझेगा।  मास्टर साहब मुझे एक बात बातइये, ये कहाँ का रिवाज है कि कुरैशी को कुरैशी ही मिलेगी और अंसारी अंसारी के पल्ले ही बाँधी जायेगी?"

"लेकिन समाज के भी कुछ उसूल होते हैं। "

"अजी लानत है ऐसे उसूल पर, जहां लड़की खुद किसी को पसंद कर ले तो वो ज़माने भर में  बेपर्दा हो जाती है। ये रिवाज अच्छा है की  घरवालो कि झूठी शान के लिए अपनी पूरी ज़िन्दगी खराब कर लो।अभी आज कोई हमें साथ देख ले तो खुदा-कसम बीच बाजार में काट कर लटका दिए जायेंगे। इसीलिए घर से सौ कोस दूर कॉलेज छोड़ कर यहाँ कुछ वक्त साथ बिताने अक्सर आते हैं। "

"तो बेटा तुम्हे इतनी ही मुहब्बत है तो मेरठ जैसे छोटे दकियानूसी शहर में क्या कर रहे हो, जाओ कहीं दूर मॉडर्न जगह जाकर अपनी दुनिया बसाओ। ", मास्टर जी ने व्यंग के लहजे से कहा।

"बस यही परेशानी का सबब है मास्टर साहब।  ये हराम-जादी अपने घरवालो को नहीं छोड़ सकती। चाहे वो इसकी बोटी बोटी कर दें, लेकिन ये घरवालों की आबरू नहीं जाने देगी। और मैं मरता मर जाऊँगा लेकिन इसे नहीं छोड़ सकता। "

मास्टर जी को शर्मिंदिगी महसूस हुई। इससे पहले वो कुछ और कहते लड़का उठ खड़ा हुआ। उसने लड़की का हाथ पकड़ा और आगे बढ़ गया।

बस के गेट पर पहुँच कर, लड़का एक पल के लिए रुका और वही से बोला, " हम मेरठ के कीड़े हैं मास्टर साहब।  हमारी यही औकात है। यहाँ की नालियों में जीना और यही कुचल कर मार दिया जाना। आप चिंता न कीजियेगा।"

मास्टर साहब का ध्यान एक पल के लिए लड़की पर गया। उसके होठ और गले पर भी गहरे  निशान थे। बस रुकी और दोनो नीचे उतर गए।


January 18, 2014

All Hail Buffalo - Part II

When I wrote All Hail Buffalo last year, to draw attention of people towards the awesomeness of this humble creature, millions of people personally congratulated me for this noble act. Some people even demanded the Buffalo be declared as the symbol of peace (instead of those useless white pigeons), and some even hinted I be awarded Nobel Peace Prize (which I humbly declined, of course). But there were some people who were a little disappointed. They wanted more, in fact nudged that I write a sequel to this brilliant piece of literature

How could I disappoint my Dear Readers and the fellow Buffalo Lovers. Here is the list of 5 more things that makes the buffalo as awesome as the word A.W.E.S.O.M.E. 

6. Buffalo - A symbol of Aam Aadmi: Have you ever seen a Khas Aadmi keeping a buffalo as a pet? All Khas Aadmis like pugs, cute kittens, the speaking parrots, even rabbits and chicks. But if anyone sees a buffalo tugged outside your home, you are doomed. You will automatically be considered an utterly Aam Aadmi. The reason is simple, a Bhains is never considered Khaas it's always an Aam Bhains, howsoever rich and milk-giving it may be. Thankfully today is the age of Aam Aadmi, so I am hoping the buffalo also gets its constitutional rights as an Aam Bhains

They know how to follow the traffic rules.

7. If you want to be famous, get a buffalo: This can be considered a corollary or a contradiction of the above point, depending on how you look at it. But hear me out. You see whether you walk over the buffalo, or under the buffalo, behind the buffalo, in front of it or side ways, you will be talked about. That's the power of a buffalo. Sooner or later, a TV channel which doesn't have anything better to show will project you as the symbol of hope in this gloomy days of Indian Democracy. You will be the "Guy who walks besides buffalo". You might not like the title, but you WILL be famous, so who cares? Buffalo doesn't. 

8. Buffalo, the Rambaan for Attention Deficit Disorder: Have you ever observed a buffalo? Of course NOT. You were too distracted by your FB notifications and counting the number of Likes. A buffalo on the other hand doesn't care about the social media, or going to parties or looking good or shit like that. It knows its aim in life : to eat and to poop. And with 10000 hours of deliberate practice, it has perfected the art of eating and pooping. And here's the good news: if you are suffering from depression, you can learn quite a lot from the buffalo. If you would cut off all your useless friends, deleted all the online accounts and their associated distractions, stopped worrying about your career, and simplified your life to the extent that all you had to do was to eat and to poop all day long, YOU WILL BE HAPPY. I promise, on buffalo's behalf.

The Hyderabadi Buffalo.

9. Buffalo, the lady with the curves: Can you imagine a buffalo showing-off a sixteen pack abs or a toned butt? Well I can imagine. But you know why you never see any such buffaloes? Simply because buffalo doesn't need such kinds of validations to improve her self esteem. It's already overflowing with awesomeness. Buffalo doesn't believe in starving herself to the point of being labelled malnourished. She takes pride in whatever big curves she has got. Buffalo believes there's only one life, we should eat, poop and enjoy it to the max. We should not waste it off by lifting weights (like a bull) or participating in say a triathlon

10. Buffalo, grace personified: Try saying to anyone "You look like a buffalo" or "Your face matches that of a buffalo", without protective gear. Oh well, God save your body. But has anyone considered what the buffalo feels when it's told that not only it has a buffalo's face and a buffalo's body but is actually a buffalo! When I visited my village last year, for half an hour I shouted at my buffalo "you are bloody damn buffalo, you are nothing but a buffalo, and will ever be a buffalo". I am sure the buffalo was outraged, nobody takes that kind of insult easily. But you know what the buffalo did? It kept chewing as if it didn't care or understand what I meant. That's GRACE <- right there. 

The RavS' personal buffalo.

I mentioned in the last part, I can write dozens of other pointers about the awesomeness of buffalo, but again a buffalo doesn't need a certificate from me to know it's awesome. All  hail buffalo!

January 17, 2014

Book Review: "Tribes"

Reading 50 books this year is one of my new year's resolutions. I am running late on it though and I take this opportunity to blame my other resolution of publishing 31 posts in January. It's taking all my focus right now, if not all the time. 

But anyway, I had decided to do a book review today and I would go ahead with one. Now, I don't know how to review a book. I haven't even read a full fledged book review to know what it actually looks like. That's exactly the reason I am doing it here. 

On to the review.... 


Book Name: "Tribes: We need you to Lead us".
Pages : 83 (cover to cover).
Author : Seth Godin 
Genre: Non-fiction. Leadership.

What's it All About

I read this book in about a week a few months ago, during my journey to and from work. This is the book that affirmed my belief that you can pack a punch in a small book (and hence I came up with my definition of anything over 50 pages to be a book). 

I haven't read too many books on leadership (heck, I haven't read too many any books). But I can still safely say it's not a conventional book. The author keeps the style as conversational throughout the book. It does 2 things. First, it keeps you engaged throughout the book. Second, this gives the author the leverage to advise without sounding preachy. The book itself seems to be a collection of small and different but cohesively related articles. And that's a very new style I have seen in a book. 

It asks you to be a heretic and break the status-quo all the time, because the tribes (which the author describes as a bunch of people with common goal and means to communicate) want someone, anyone to lead them . The book tells you, almost pleads you why you shouldn't become a manager. It gives you the idea that leadership is possible even at the lowest of the levels, and you don't need to have years of experience under you belt to lead. Anyone can lead, it's just matter of deciding when and where. 

But the most important part of the book is that it not only talks about you as a leader but the greater good of the community that you are going to lead (which might involve just another person beside you). The central idea of course, as the titles says, is Tribes. Without a strong, cohesive tribe, people who believe in each other and trust you to lead them; you just cannot be a great leader. 

The most interesting part remains the number of new ideas and theories that the author presents from the start to the end. Some of these ideas are immediately implementable in anyone's life even if they are not interested to lead a tribe.

Who should read it?

  • Anyone looking for a short inspiring/interesting book. 
  • Anyone who hasn't read anything from the author. I believe 7/10 people would like what he has to say.
  • If you want to know more about the jargons like tribes, heretics, status-quo, partisans, movement, sheepwalking, difference between crowds and tribes, difference between faith and religion, why we are still factory workers, when NOT to lead, how to be wrong etc. etc. 

Who shouldn't read it.

  • Fiction readers, of course should stay away. Although the author does give a lot of anecdotes about a number of unconventional leaders throughout his book.
  • Anyone who reads a book to wind down. It's more of a book to instill new ideas in your brain. And of course, it's best served when you take some actions after reading it.
  • Anybody looking for a self-help book on leadership. It won't give you a step by step of being a leader. The author is just trying to sell you how easy it is to be a leader in today's world. 

About the Author 

Seth Godin is a very well known American Entrepreneur, Marketer and Writer. I have known about Seth for a few years now, but only recently started following his blog. He writes almost 2 blogs a day, mostly less than a 100 words.  He is an exceptionally delightful to-the-point writer. Personally, he inspires me to cut out the fluff in my own writings, always be looking for more ideas, and being consistent. So many times his succinct articles have made me sit down and say "Wow! Now, that's an idea worth trying. " They say he is a great speaker too, but haven't heard anything from him yet.

Everything else

Seth has written quite a lot of books. I leave it up to you, to find out how to get "Tribes" should you decide to read it. Also, if you have a favorite book, which you think I should read, please do tell. I want to keep it in my buffer for the rest of the year.  As I (hopefully) read more and more books, there's a chance, with time it might become one of the regular posts on this blog. 

January 16, 2014

Eventually, everyone's going to die

Death is one of the most interesting topics I like to contemplate on.  I have written a few times on it before. And this is a never ending chain of thoughts. It keeps me grounded when other unimportant things start to cloud up my judgement. 

I am afraid of a lot of things, but one thing that scares me the most is dying early (who isn't you ask, but please read on). I am not a believer in life-after-death and rebirth & stuff. So these few years or decades are the only thing I really have. If I leave today, I know somehow my friends and family will survive. Probably with a child less and a little less money. Probably with a friend less and one person less to hangout with. They will remember me of course, but they will move on, sooner or later.

But what I would regret the most is not being in their lives to make a difference. And I believe I certainly can. I can help someone to solve their problems. I can be there for someone to listen to, when all they need is someone to listen to. I can be there to make someone laugh with my corny jokes. I can be there when someone needs an advice. I can be there when they need someone to rely on. I can be there when they need someone to be proud of. 

So, I see a lot of potential in me to make a difference, even if miniscule, in so many lives in a positive way. Hence, what scares me is dying without warning and not getting a chance to do so. 

And from the same school, this thought comes from... Eventually, everyone's going to die...

The people you loved,
The people who loved you,
The people who needed your love,
The people you envied,
The people you hurt, 
The people you could have made happier,
The people you aren't on talking terms with, due to your ego,
The people who took care of you,
The people you cared about,
The people you were too proud to be vulnerable against,
The people you refused to even try to understand, 

... they will be gone. One by one. Most probably before you go. Some of them unexpectedly. 

We always have less time with each of them than we think. To spend it not doing something worth doing, just because we would feel uneasy or embarrassed or it requires effort, would be a shame. 

Time and again I think about this... Could I stop doing some of the useless shit, and probably do something to make someone happy? Surprise them? Delight them? Make them smile? Make them feel good about themselves? Show them that I care? Tell them that they are not alone and I have been there or am there? May be even inspire them with my actions?

No, I am not good with this. And no, I am no Mother Teresa to be spending 100% of my waking time doing this. But making it a side-business isn't a bad idea. 

Of course, we want money and success and power and glory and a good lifestyle. I won't bullshit. I am in the rat race, with everyone else. But I wonder if that's all there's to life. Our time on Earth is limited. Is spending it running after success and fame ONLY a good use of it? 

You are probably reading this in the morning. When you sleep tonight, do me a favor, and ask yourself this:
 How many lives did I influenced positively today? How many people would be happy that I was alive today?

I certainly will.

January 15, 2014

Untitled: Part 9


"Yeah, that's what his name is. A big ass Lucchaa. He just doesn't care about us", Parag said the third time.

"I told him 5 times yesterday night to please be on time, this time. Sleep early so that you could reach early. But he just won't close his eyes before 1 am, whatever you do. " He continued, as Saif and Pankaj listened attentively.

"Ok whatever, I knew he would be late, so I told him the movie time was 10 am while the actual time was 11.30. But look, it's already 11.15 and no sign of the bastard! ". 

Saif wanted to say something, but Parag interrupted. "I told him to take bus no. 79. I mean how hard it is to remember the number? Now he texted that he got into the wrong bus. What the hell does that mean?", Parag wasn't done yet.

"Now let him come today, I would make a keema out of him. I lied to my girlfriend so that I could spend sometime with you guys and look at the hero. Late as always."

In between Parag's rambling, Pankaj somehow managed to say, "It's Ok yaar".

This flared Parag's temper even more, "What the heck do you mean by "It's OK yaar"? Look at the mother-loving time. I have been standing here since last 1 hour. You know what he said yesterday night?". Saif and Pankaj obviously had no idea.

"Do nooot worrry dooood, I would be the fiiiirssst to reach tomorrow", Parag said in satirical tone.

The 3 friends laughed together. They knew all too well that reaching on time was one thing Rids could never do. But, the laughter ended in a few seconds.  

Pankaj said, "I don't know why he is not picking up any of our calls since last 45 mins. I hope he is alright. He always gets himself into all sorts of troubles."

They were obviously worried about Ritender. All 3 of them had shifted here an year ago, and were accustomed to the area as well as the local language. But Rids was very new to the city and he didn't know a single word of Telugu. English and Hindi wouldn't serve him well. Silence ensued for a few minutes. 

Final Saif broke their musing, "2 days ago, he told me he wanted to learn Telugu. I thought he was joking but he looked dead serious. He said it doesn't matter if he would be staying here for less than 4 months, learning Telugu seemed to be an exciting challenge. And what better way to learn a new culture than to interact with local people in their language. He seemed to be pretty pumped about it". 

Pankaj agreed, "He has always been a good student, eager to learn, to try out new things. "I want to eat the famous Biryaani", that were his first words the day he set foot here. He was so excited to be coming to South for the first time, all the way from Lucknow". 

Saif chuckled, "Yeah! Biryaani and South girls, that's all he talks about since coming here. South girls are so beautiful. South girls are so well mannered. South girls are so shy. South girls this, South girls that."

"Shut up you guys", Parag roared. His girlfriend was a South Indian too. 

After a minute of silence Parag finally said, "Let me try calling him again. If he picks up this time, he is not going to like what I have to say to him".

Parag seemed to mean business.