Sunday, December 29, 2013

A fresh start that went awry: Year 2013 in Review

Over the last decade every year that went by had its fair share of troubles. The entire decade of 2001 to 2010 was one bad news over another. The year 2010 was the pressure building up in the masses and for the better of humanity, 2012 blew up the lid. Was it because of the end of world scare or the hardship of the masses, 2011 was the year of revolt. 2012 was a celebrity year to begin with, having featured in many hollywood films and religious dogmas. When 2013 began, it had heavy expectations from everyone having followed the footsteps of celebrity and powerful predecessors.
2013 had a slow start to begin with. Of all the things, 2013 started on a Tuesday, which was the most confusing start a new year could ever have. The french military began intervention of the Northern Mali conflict in the month of Jan. The month also saw the beginning of a prolong India-Pakistan border conflicts. Nothing major happened in the month of January, except for the big part of my first birthday celebration after marriage. A week-end long celebration with two home-baked cake ensured that this birthday had raised the bar very high for the future.
The nostalgia of 2012 and the end of world returned with North Korea conducted a third nuclear test and a meteor exploded on the russian city of Chelyabinsk. It was one of the most powerful meteoroid strike of the century reminding the world that we are still a rock floating in space and the bullseye of 2012 still exists. Among other things Pope Benedict XVI resigned from his duty, flagging the true meaning of 2013, this was the year of change.

The old was about to move and a fresh start that the world desperately needed was about to come. With the new one oxford dictionary added the slang words 'Twerk' and 'Selfie' to its collection.

Terrorism raised its murky head in America when two chechen islamic terrorist exploded two bombs at the boston marathon rally in April. Closer to home, terrorist struck the Nawabi city of Hyderabad in February.

If Higgs Boson was a science achievement for 2012, 2013 had the first creation of human embryonic stem cells by cloning for show and tell. The feat was published in Scientific Journal Nature in the month of May. One of these days I do expect to open the door to my clone come to finish my job for me. Exactly a year back in 2012 I lost my freedom to Deepika. We celebrated this event by going on a trip across the orient to visit Thailand.

By the time we landed in India, Edward Snowden had shown the bravery a lot of countries in this world fail to show. He challenged the biggest country in the world by exposing the snooping program of America. As alarming as the revelations were shaking many countries and their diplomats. June also brought with it a flash-flood that hit the north-indian region. More than 5700 people presumed dead in the three days. To be very honest, 2013, was the year of horror. It gave us the glimpse of what end of world would really look like. With natural disasters and things never seen before in the century hitting us.

Year 2013 also brought with it a series of ideologies passing away. Margaret Thatcher, the first and only british lady prime minister who believe in free market, passed away in the month of April. Actor Paul Walker who rocked us all in fast and the furious died in a car crash in the month of December. The final blow came when the peace messenger Nelson Mandela left us with a equal world he strived hard to built. Doug Engelbert the inventor of computer mouse left us with technology that changed millions of life. Taking about invention that changed Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian general famously known for his design of AK-47 left us last year. Closer to home Tarla Dalal, the chef who taught so many bachelors about cooking passed away. So did Farooq Sheikh who gave us the cult classic of Chasme Baddoor left us very recently. Talking about classics the villain we all loved to hate Pran left us for better world. Ronnie Biggs the famous 'Tea-boy' and inspiration to so many writers of the world, including yours truly, and architect of the great train robbery in Britain also left the world in peace.

As I previously mentioned 2013 was setting up the stage for change. It was clearing out the backlogs and the hardship of the previous decades. In India ruling Congress party lost the general elections to a new comer Aam Aadmi Party. A decade old political establishment was shaken from the ground by a new and a six months old bunch of youths. This was the aftermath of the revolution that happened last year and the effects will be seen prominently in the coming decade.

This was the year Doctor Who celebrated 50th anniversary. In Bangalore, me and my fellow Whovians celebrated 'The Day of the Doctor' by eating fish fingers with custard for lunch. The famous sci-fi series that started fifty years ago kept us entertaining for five decades.

2013 started a moment of change by cleaning out the old and bringing in fresh ideologies. LGBT rights, feminist rights and freedom were heard on the fringes of main stream. The voices were loud but still not prominent enough, that was also perhaps because old voices were louder. Hence 2013 came to finish off the old ideologies and bring a fresh start to humanity. On personal front, this year also saw the rise of online e-book publishing in India. Joining the bandwagon, yours truly also has one book set to release in the near future. 

It is leaving on a good of a job well done. It was not the final crescendo that we expected last year but a intermission between two acts. The orchestra has already began long back we joined the show. The world is changing for good and 2013 ensured that it would.

Keeping with the tradition, here is the list of articles published in 2013 on Sidoscope as I promised last year, 2013 you will see more Short Stories. 2014 is the year of Humor, expect more humor articles in coming year.

[Short Story] The Appointment (November 18, 2013)
[Short Story] The Long Life for the Husband (October 23, 2013)
[Landing in Thailand] - Bad English, Bars and Barbecue pork. (October 21, 2013)
Show Some Respect, My Fellow Indian (October 14, 2013)
The Enemies in My Life (September 25, 2013)
The One who Stood against Shiva (September 19, 2013)
Shudh Desi Blog (September 15, 2013)
[Short Story] Return (September 5, 2013)
[Short Story] Him (August 29, 2013)
[Independence Special Short Story] Pis al-ler (August 26, 2013)
[Short Story] Add a little drama to your death (August 22, 2013)
[Short Funny Story] A ‘Manhood’ tale (August 18, 2013)
[Short Story] The Land without Stories (August 1, 2013)
The Deadly Development of Divorce (July 9, 2013)
Landing in Thailand - Getting stamped (June 27, 2013)
[Published Book] Sidoscope Fingerprints Volume I (June 18, 2013)
[Short Story] Faster than the Speed of Death (May 27, 2013)
When God bleeds, sharks gather. (May 18, 2013)
Smokes, Mirrors and other Normal Stupidity (April 29, 2013)
The Prophecy of Indian Railways (April 16, 2013)
An auto-rickshaw in need is very costly indeed. (April 12, 2013)
Living in the Cloud (April 8, 2013)
[Short Story] The Sleeping Beauty Story (March 17, 2013)
[Short Story] The Story of the Goose (March 10, 2013)
Quick Bytes: Here and there (March 9, 2013)
[Short Story] The Teachings of the Snake Mother (March 5, 2013)
[Short Story]The Corruption in Ravan's Lanka (March 3, 2013)
The Fall of Human Society (February 10, 2013)
All paid jobs degrade the mind but we blame the boss (February 1, 2013)
Technology Matters (January 15, 2013)

We are coming to the second act of the global drama that is going to take us for a spin. What is in store for the climax, only time will time. Look around you, the time is changing, we are living beyond our existence. The year of the horse is coming to take us on the ride. In this new year, a lot of changes are coming our way.

Look around you, when the clock strikes 12, we will be in 2014.

Happy new year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Salaam Mumbai

Its been a while since it happened, and whatever happened was not good, yet the spirit on Mumbai is not shaken and Mumbai still stands foiling all the plans of terrorist. Salute to thee the city of lights, still standing erect amidst all plight. Poem written as a tribute to the mumbai city on 26/11/2009 and to that every individual who dropped a shed of tear for the wounded and shaheed Indians.
Their day begins before the sun rise,
The young, the old, the strong and the wise,
Their feet bound to the clock’s tick,
They start each day with a strong kick.
They are the mumbaikars, the busy bee,
Why I salute them you will see.bangladesh-soil-may-have-been-used-in-26-11
They always climb the local trains,
In the sun or even in the rains,
They race against time,
And with the clock their feet rhyme.
They are the mumbaikars, the worthy lot,
Living in the city humid and hot.

Every one has his own life,
With arrogant son or over smart wife,
They bear mean bosses or bad teachers,
They avoid the beggars and religion preachers,
They are the mumbaikars, the hard worker,
They love wada pav more than burgers.

Then ten terrorist saw the town,
In a little boat, they came around.
They attacked the city breaking its backbone,
They were happy with the job perfectly done.
The essence of the city was a bit shaken, genImage-medium
The world shook seeing the city weaken.

The police force came to fight the goons,
But the fight they could not stop it soon.
It was raining bullets, which made the city rattle.
The warriors used the 13th century weapons, to fight the 21st century battle.
But finally the warriors won the war,
the terrorist thought their message has reached afar.

Suddenly the city raised its helping hand,
They were ordinary people without a magic wand.
They didn’t need superman to save their soul,
Ordinary people reconstructed the city back to the whole.
The are the mumbaikars, the common men, 
victoriat-mumbai-weekend-packages-mediumAt times they turn to super-men.

All the people big and small,
All the people short and tall,
Today they were neither Muslims nor Hindus,
Neither were they Marathi's, Bhaiyaa's or Mallu’s
Today they were just humans,
Supermen and wonder women.

Setting aside their differences, they helped each other,
Even helping their enemies. They didn’t bother,
On its feet, again, the city rose,
Seeing the site, the terrorist froze.
All the months of planning went in vain,
For the city felt very little pain.

They again wake up before sun-rise,
Join the work with tear in the sad eyes,
For the brothers who had died,
For the orphans and widows who have cried.
I salute to thee: the spirit of Mumbai city,
Yee are proven best, its the terrorist I pity.

The awesome picture of Mumbai:
Others pictures taken from Google Images, if you hold the copywrite, do inform I will remove them or mention your link.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

[Short Story] There will always be injustice

In a small hut located in a little distance from Kurushetra, a great tension was brimming. The greatest warriors on earth were holed up in the small hut at the edge of Kurushetra. Bhima was quietly eating his rice with Krishna, their advisor. Next to them, the giant mace that would soon slay more than hundred people in a single day was resting peacefully waiting for the opportunity to attack.

Krishna had no weapons next to him, he simply kept his flute and the conch on the dining table and enjoying the rice. Arjuna was pacing across the room nervous the bow and arrow that infamously had pierced every target his eyes had set out for was resting on the floor, calm and peaceful.

"What are we fighting for? And who are we fighting against?"Arjuna spoke nervously, "Our own Pitahma? our grand-father? Our own teacher, who taught us warfare and our own cousins?"
"Should we be excited, should we be worried, should we be happy?"

Krishna quietly gulped another morsel of his rice. Bhima shrugged, "I don't know about you, but I am fighting Duryodhana and I won't sit quietly till I break his legs as I promised."

Krishna smiled at the hulk of a man and patted on his arm with his clean hands.

"Krishna, say something, is this Dharma that we are fighting our own brothers?"

Krishna washed his hands and walked towards Arjuna, "So far you were talking, Arjuna. I will only speak when you ask me to."

"Then speak, Krishna, for I do not want to win this battle over the bodies of our own teacher, grandfather and our cousins. If this is law, I cannot follow this."

Krishna smiled, "Advise is a dangerous thing to give, unsolicited advise is even more dangerous to provide," Krishna said, "Even God will not tell you what to do, you have to ask the right question to get correct answer, so tell me noble friend, what is your question."

"How do you justify this war, Krishna? How do we raise weapon against our own family?" Arjuna asked.

"Arjuna, remember, you do not raise your weapon against your grandfather. This battle is when a grandfather stands in way of his own grandson

Monday, October 21, 2013

[Landing in Thailand] - Bad English, Bars and Barbecue pork.

Part 2 of 3 of Landing in Thailand. Read the Part 1, Getting Stamped about preparing for the journey from India.

There is one thing you should do when you travel to Pattaya (Thailand) if you are a hardcore vegetarian (who cannot bear the smell of meat and prefer separate utensils for food), don't travel to Pattaya. Although I do not know why vegetarians leave their own house if they have so much food problems, if you still do wish to travel to Pattaya this article gives few tips on how to survive.

I should tell you at times like these, the fact that you are an Indian acts like a thing of pride. Doesn't matter that the passport you had visa stamped few minutes ago was made by paying something extra to an agent or the fact that your driving license is responsible for the most corruption in your homeland, the fact that these documents are there in your pocket gives you a warm comforting feeling of your belonging.

Last time when I left I had stepped outside the Bangkok airport and taken the first breath in foreign land. The first breath was followed by a series of banging into a group of Indians running haywire searching for their booking agent. This gave a moment of confusion because at the airport, there were more Indians than I saw at the Mumbai airport last night. The moment of confusion passed when we realized that it was summer vacations and Thailand is the most preferred travelled destination for Indians.

Semi-asleep, we got into the taxi waiting for us at the airport to drive us to Pattaya. This was the second inter-city taxi ride in last twelve hours since we had travelled from Pune to Mumbai airport in another Taxi last night. As it happens in Taxi rides, the driver rudely woke us at the first stop between the cities. This is where it hit me, right in the face. As with the last night taxi ride I had consumed a load of vada Pav at the first stop. Looking at the shops at these stops and the ample lighting on those stop, I realized, I am no longer in India anymore. But as they say, you can leave the country but you are never far away from a Mc. Donalds. A gleaming Ronald McDonald (thats the joker outside Mc Donalds) was giving his creeping smile looking at me.

A few rounds of coffee later (and not from Mc. Donalds) we were back in the taxi on the way to our destination. After a very sleepy ride I reached my hotel near the beach in Pattaya. To my surprise, the hotel staff were more surprised on my arrival. Since the room was not ready, me and my wife decided to get breakfast from a nearby cafe. After a round of muffins another round of coffee and getting some sleep it was time to step out into Pattaya.

The most important aspect about Pattaya was that everything was near the beach. There are frequent Tuk Tuk that run on the beach road till the walking plaza and charge you only 20 Baht. It was nearing lunch time and all we could see and smell around was pork, we decided to raid the Burger King next to the hotel. One good thing for vegetarians, burger king has one and only one veg burger that can be consumed, I did not try that.

Walking on the beach road was pleasant. Those who are the adventures kind, other mode of transport include scooters for hire, there are two wheeler taxis that are reasonable option if you are travelling alone.

Evening was spent in the show of Alcazar, a magnificent ladyboys dance show with extravagant costume and loud sets. Alcazar was an eye opener as we had never seen any dance show as that. The dance show was amazing and magnificent and upto the mark. The ladyboys will put many a cabaret ladies to shame in their show.

By the time the show ended we were out on the streets of Pattaya. As the night falls this entire city comes to life. To our surprised there were many go-go bars lined up on the road. This was a surprise because when we set out to travel we were told (by google of course) that Thailand is a conservative place. Still those who are new to the term, gogo bar is a bar where girls are dancing (no strip tease, at least I didn't see any). What was more surprising was that these bars were open and easily accessible from the street.

The Thepprasit Night Market opens in the evening bringing the flea market and street food to a new level. For my stay in Pattaya we ate everyday only in this market (which was also because we understood what they sold for food). We had done enough research on the Thai food in Bangalore by visiting the local thai restaurants almost every weekend. So with the confidence of a school teacher teaching a wrong fact to the students, we ordered Pad Thai noodles in the market. To our surprise they were strangely different with some fish added to the veg noodles. The noodles were gulped with a fruit punch cocktail made by Mr. Cocktail, a street bar in Pattaya.

The tour operator, following the untold traditions of all tour operators of the world, came to rudely wake us up early in the morning for our tour to Coral Island and Noong Noch village.

Koh Laan islands in Pattaya are a group of island famously portrayed in tourist brochures as the coral islands. Reaching the island is the task in itself as we had to sit on tight in a high speed boat that jumped over the waves. The rash driving of the motor boat would put many a auto rickshaws in bangalore to shame. After a stomach churning boat ride we manage to reach a boat in the middle of sea that gave us option for paragliding and scuba diving. Stomachs still churning, we then proceeded to the coral island in a glass bottom boat ride. The only thing about glass bottom boat ride was that it was a spectacular view of the dirtiness of the sea. The glass bottom boat took us across the dirty sea to a spectacular beach that was divided between multiple tour operators like warring nations. They each had their own bars, their own chairs and their own shades. A few drinks and tattoo later we moved on to the mainland where a unwanted promise of Indian lunch was waiting for us.

The thing about meeting a veg couple in Pattaya is as dangerous as asking a address in the remotest lane in Karnataka, both are fruitless. As it happened, I never understood the concept of later and always feared the former. When I bumped into a couple, the lady was grumpily missing Indian food and the man was trying to nibble on the pork. This horror was added more as we were pushed into a Indian restaurant (which came as part of the package but never welcome, why will I eat Indian food outside India?)

After the food, we were taken to Noong Nooch village, a beautiful garden famous for its cultural and elephant show. Coming from a alleged 'garden' city in India, Noong Nooch village was a welcome change in what a garden should be. Having a perfect balance of trees, statues, ramp and animals this was a welcome garden that the ones we pretend to see. The open garden had elephant rides and among other things, a cultural show of Thailand.

The tour in the garden was ended by a cultural show of thailand held in a non-ac, cramped up theatre. It was a mere coincidence that at the entrance to the theatre were hand fans for sale. The cultural show was followed by a amazing elephant show. Noong Nooch Village is a complete value for money as the shows are amazing along with multiple photo ops. However, make sure that you go in early or will have to watch the show standing for forty five minutes.

The shows were spectacular, Thai's are very good in training animals. The stunts these animals were doing, would put many humans to shame. Carrying pleasant memories of the day, we went to sleep.

Day three started lazily with a breakfast buffet and a nice swim in our hotel swimming pool. In the afternoon, we set out looking for the thing humans have travelled for ages i.e., food. The old saying, in rome, do as the roman do. We followed along the beach route to look for local eateries (nothing branded but something local) and soon came across this small eatery that was serving authentic thai food.

After fumbling with the menu for some time, I asked the owner to surprise me and did he surprise me. The dish that was served was deliciously tasty as well as neatly presented in a coconut. Chicken in coconut gravy served inside the coconut. The staple food in Pattaya is rice and pork, which is bad news for those who feel nauseated with the smell of pork. Ensure that the meat you are eating is chicken (by smelling it).

The evening was spent in a beautiful gas balloon ride at Ripley's Believe it or Not. The tour of the Ripley's museum and Madame Tussauds was also a good idea. Its not always that you get to make weird faces at the wax statue of Jackie Chan. The most amazing part of this adventure was the hot balloon ride that took us high in the air. The aerial view of Pattaya was the most spectacular view ever saw.

Walkable distance from the Ripley's was the walking street. Although branded as a family friendly beach destination, Walking street in Pattaya was not really making a good effort branding it. At night the beach side area of Pattaya opens up as walking street with shops lined up on the pavement having food, handicrafts and... and a lot of bars offering different level of entertainments. It is difficult to picture Pattaya as a family destination looking at the offerings at the walking street. Still at the end of the walking street we had a tasty ice cream served by a turkish gentlemen with quick hands. The turkish ice cream show was a wow moment as he used quick hands to serve ice cream in the most amazing way ever. (Google Turkish Ice cream Show Thailand to see it)

Pattaya was a welcome change of a city. It was the first international destination on my agenda. Apart from trying to communicate in some language that closely resembled English, avoiding people hunting for veg restaurants and hoping that the meat that was consumed was only chicken and nothing else, the first three days in Pattaya were fantabulously awesomazing (yes that is a word now).

Next on the agenda was the horrible wake up alarm by the taxi driver who would take us to Bangkok. A international city left unexplored and the journey continued. It was time to say good-bye to Pattaya and see the urban side of thailand.

Coming up next (Part 3 of 3) Meter down, Metro and Market, Landing in Thailand epic conclusion about the journey in Thailand.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Show Some Respect, My Fellow Indian

India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. The vague memory I have from my school days is singing the national pledge without giving a thought about its words or what it actually meant. When the boys hit puberty, a most common running joke was about all Indians becoming sisters (not sure if the same joke ran on the girls side). The school got over and we moved on to college, people forgot the national anthem, let alone the pledge. Life hit hard and fast, it was survival of the fittest in the wild. The rosy picture got over and we realized by the time we will complete our education, there are absolutely no jobs available for those anything less than an engineer or a doctor.

It was dog vs dog world out there and survival was imperative. Entering corporate world was not a big relief since 3000 of other people were fighting for the same thing. So all in all, surviving in India was a big fight and if all Indians are my brothers and sisters, it was Cain and Abel all over again.

But then again, unemployment is not that big problem in India. Neither is poverty. When Oprah Winfrey visited India, she generated quite a controversy when she commented on big family living in a small space and yet not complaining. Because, here is the thing, Indians adjust, whatever the situation be. One of the reasons why you will bump into an Indian on any place of the planet, they adjust. Again that is also not the point of this post. Me getting distracted for three complete paragraphs is also not the point, I do that more often.

The only problem we have in India and probably the only one worth 'fixing' in its most literal terms, the only point of this entire blog is that Indians don't show respect for each other.

A man walked into a rickshaw, he got in glancing at the screen of his iPhone. He instructed the rickshaw guy about the place he wished to go, it was an expensive locality. A scene like this would be very common to see anywhere in the country, many people would ignore this, many would not think much. But does anyone see that the man never even acknowledged the rickshaw man even as a human being. Maybe the money earned by the passenger and the rickshaw guy has a lot of gap but doesn't mean you do not acknowledge the person as a human. You do not respect the person as a live human being. And then the rickshaw guy drives almost hundreds of these passengers and people complaint why they are so grumpy.

A husband earns a lot doesn't mean he cannot show a little respect to his wife. We all get sweepers and maids in our house, very few treat them as humans. Why can't people treat the domestic help the way they expect them to be treated by their own managers?
Talking about managers, there are countless examples of managers treating their employees like they are slaves. Employees walking to the loo watch a janitor cleaning a clogged toilet and a sign board 'Caution: Wet floor' someone walks past the sign, slips and falls, curses the janitor and walks out. Had he respected the work janitor was doing, life would be much better wouldn't it?

There are countless examples that we see everyday of people not respecting each other. The polite 'Namaskar' that is adorned by the Indian Culture is left to nothing but a meaningless formality while the polite and respective Indian culture is twisted, turned and manipulated for a buffet of judgmental opinions, random people like to throw out there.

I can go on with this list but I don't want to. Because those who will agree with me will anyways don't need this post, and those who disagree with me will not do it respectfully, geddit?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Enemies in My Life

"Normal people don't have enemies," proclaimed my Wife as I sat down to my monthly revisit of the enemies list, "But then again," she concluded, "You are not normal, are you?" she went back to her daily routine of sleeping, one of the most normal things that I ignored.

As I sat there revisiting the list, I realized an important thing, the list comprised of people that could be classified into generic categories and groups. Every person has a set of enemies in their life, if you believe in daily soap, the lists starts from your relatives. However, I have some arch enemies that pop out from the corner where they hide and irritate me beyond imagination like those who poke me on Facebook every night, now there is no harm done in poking anyone but then it sends a mixed message or those who stop me in the middle of the road to tell about their babies, I mean, I get it, you made a live human being, awesome, clap, clap, clap but then do I have to know about his or her every first in chronological order?

People who tag you in post on facebook and then remove the topic when you meet them in person 
One of the biggest threat to your smartphone is Facebook app that buzzes to life in excitement even if there is slightest moment in the network. A friend got promoted in job, yay it buzzes in excitement, somebody made baby, yay it screams in excitement, somebody ate a chicken club sandwich for lunch (for which they very generously posted a Facebook post) it buzzes to life, so on and on. In this screaming match, if someone does tag you, you know about it. What should be my comment on a clever picture shared 6666666th time on my timeline? It was clever first time you know, not the 6666666th time and by tagging me to it, you are simply showing how slow you are in getting the update. No seriously, if there is one clever statement doing rounds on the internet, you are bound to come by it hundreds of time. This person will tag you to it and then next time you have a mandatory courtesy call, they will ask you, "Saw the picture I tagged you in?" "No I exclusively do not see pictures I am tagged in," should be my reply but I politely make an excuse of not seeing facebook.

People who put babies on the phone
"Say hello to uncle, babla," screams the mother from behind and the baby simply replies, "Gugugagaga" and then the mother comes back, "See, he has started speaking." What is the point of it, tell me? Me understanding the baby language is same as me understand the big love saga told by auto driver in Kannada, in both cases I have no clue what is on but only for courtesy I smile. Now if these babies grow old and turn into children the same thing is repeated, "Say hello to uncle, Babla," screams the mother from behind, this time tone is a bit stern. The child first is very silent, maybe confused on whether mom is going to scold him or her for this and then worried if the hello is said correctly. I know, saying hello is pressuring and after a while says, "H...hee..llo," now polite as you are, you reply back and then the mother screams again in background, "Ask uncle how is he." I mean c'mon I know you are there in the background with the teleprompter. Why put the child and me in such an awkward situation? Why can't you just let us live as we are?

People who reinforce their religious views while eating
I follow a religion that exclusively gives you bonus points in heaven for avoiding a stupid question, sadly I am last on its scoreboard. And that is mostly because people who share your table during lunch and make it their duty to remind you that there is some religious festival going on that prohibits you to eat non-veg. Or there-is-some-do-not-eat-onion festival going on that should prevent me from relishing a good lunch.

People who peep on your computer screen or your phone screen out of the blue
I had this friend of mine who used to walk towards me for coffee and then turn around put his hand on my shoulder, peep on the computer monitor for few seconds. He would not be done there but then he would comment on the things I was doing on the computer. It was not porn, obviously, but whatever I did, he had a comment on it. I was writing a code, there it was his comment, "You should try using this class, its very nice.", I was reading a newspaper, there it was his comment, "I prefer this newspaper, they have better stories," I was trying to buy underwear from an online shop and there it was, no lets not get there.
It does not end there, there are people who will look at your phone screen while you are typing, I mean why? Who does that?

People who start their conversation with an agenda
"You should vote for him," he started the conversation, "he has proven himself to be the best administrator in the country with the most amazing development model. I mean do you want this scion to win again?"
Now, to be very honest, influencing someone's vote is a crime in legal but then again, who wants to discuss politics or any other topic during evening tea? Evening tea is the peaceful time between a man and his thoughts. Then again, I am bad at arguing, so in such time I simply sip my tea. I don't know what more he said but it continued for another hour or so.

People who talk as if you know everything they know
"You know the other day I bumped into Pandya," he was speaking. Now considering the fact that the person taking about Pandya was the one I casually used to bump into on the way to college, three-four years ago, I had no clue what his name was. With this knowledge, it takes no more time to understand that I had no clue who Pandya was, "You know he has moved to Bangalore."
"Who has?" I asked.
"Pandya re," he replied.
"Remind me, who is Pandya?"
"Arey Pandya," he said, "Friend of Dhanya re."
Why, would people do that? Talking about someone should not be a sudoku puzzle you know, why can't you simply tell me the complete name instead of talking in cryptic terms?

There are others people who talk astrology while crossing the street, people who talk job during social events, people who try to force their morals on you and people who stare at your half pant (not legs mind you, half pant) as if it is the crime of the century you wore in public  among others but they are not in the majority.

The list requires revisiting once in a while as people pop in and sometimes earn good behaviour benefit and pop out of the list. These people are everywhere and somewhere the universe is giggling by making more and more of these people to shock you.

The only problem worth solving is getting out of their clutches using the perfect excuse, now there is a separate list for that too.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shudh Desi Blog

Few things happened this friday, as I write this blog post the verdict on the horrific rape that happened in Delhi was out. Now, everyone who is anyone knows about the verdict, the names of the four rapist and the crime they committed, so I won't go into all that. I am no lawyer neither am I to judge any judges decisions. However, I did follow the news debate that went on after that. The debate was same old one and continued the blame game on what exactly caused the rape. I am not going into that debate either, a lot of things have been said about it already.
One comment however caught my attention, to make a point, the lawyer mentioned 'People who live in together' and in the same breath talked about 'Keeping the men and women separate, like it was done in olden days'.
To be very honest, he was not entirely wrong. He is simply followed the old school of thought that is being hammered into the brain of every Indian mind since childhood. Stay in your limits, don't venture out, bad things happened to those who fall out of line are all lessons passed on by the very intelligent elders which the lawyer was a mere latest recipient. He is not the only one, every third person who you bump into will agree with the lawyer. Every fourth person you bump will go on and say that those who venture out and get into trouble actually deserve it. Few will go on and actually give the person, punishment as the person 'deserves'.

My thought goes to the old case where a man who called himself 'Bond' molested a girl outside a bar and when got caught said, 'It was nothing, she was also drunk' he is from the category of the 'few' that is merely a corollary of the old school of thoughts.

Second thing that pops in the mind is the movie 'Shudh Desi Romance' that tries to change this old school of thoughts but does so in graceful manner. There are few spoilers after this point, so if you are planning to watch it (still!!!) do not read further.

Shudh Desi romance is a difference movie in itself, it breaks the traditional movie telling in India by not talking about a topic most indians clinch about but it does so by not over hyping or dramatizing it. So the boy and the girl do not wish to marry (I mean they have no intentions of marrying each other but they still do love) but this point is not shown with multiple camera moments on different characters. Talking about multiple camera moments, last I heard the daily soap had the expression from every character in the serial because someone took a spoon from the main heroine.

To be very honest, people have no problem about living or sleeping with anyone. The problem comes with the small three letter word that will make many of us cringe uncomfortably in the seat. The problem lies with 'Sex' and the question about who gets to have it and with whom. This same school of thought applies to rape, goes on to the comment by the lawyer, 'It is fine for woman to have premartial sex but rape is bad' he is part of the generation who have grown up fondling with the idea that Sex is something to be feeling ashamed of. So for those who agree with lawyer (frankly very few people do nowadays but they still do) rape is not about sex, its about invasion of privacy. Its about girl not agreeing to have sex and in the same breath, if your wife is not in the mood, having sex with her still amounts as rape, whatever God or Government may have agreed in your Marriage certificate.

Marriage does not give license to have sex with the person as many times as you want. It simply secures the future and makes sure that you are present after sex during the emotional times when the partner needs you. And its for mediclaim purposes. Consent still matters even if you are married or you are living with your partner. Having sex without consent is rape, irrespective of the gender, martial status or religion.

This is one more part where I like Shudh Desi Romance as a movie, it shows things as they are. While Gayatri(Parineeti Chopra) is an independent living girl who smokes, lives her own life and even has an abortion from a previous relationship, the character of Tara (Vaani Kapoor) is no different in living her own life and making her own choices. When the uncle with old school of thoughts mentioned above chooses to smoothen his own ego against the boy who left his long distance niece at the altar, Tara steps in between to remind him that he is not responsible for her life. She can deal with things herself and needs no man to 'take care' of her affairs. While Raghu (Sushant Singh) is another corollary of the old school of thoughts offers to marry both his love interest (in different times) and take up responsibility, even though he has commitment phobia.

Goes on to say in our society, marriage seems like the ultimate destination every Indian has since his diaper days. Everyone in India is married or wants to get married, things like compatibility, maturity or love do not really matter.

Coming back to the verdict of the case, it is good to see a fast track court giving out a good verdict but looking at the number of cases that pop up per day, how many of them can be practically taken up in fast track courts? Hang a few rapists and few more will learn, but fear alone won't solve our problems. Fear will introduce more problems in the future that we may not be capable of handling. We need to look at the root of the problem and the root of this problem is the small three letter word 'Sex'.

Although we live in the land of Kamasutra, we still need to educate the masses on the meaning of sex and the emotional things behind it. The physical aspects are taken care of by the porn films and internet, looking at the number of juvenile people committing these crimes, we need to hurry up in explaining the emotional aspects. Then again we do not need to do this in a dramatic ways or we do not need to make a big dramatic gesture about it.

Having sex is part of being an adult experience, it is not some big gesture. Imposing your sexuality on others is a crime and knowing the difference between the two is something that we lack. The small difference that is going to create more problems for us in the future, some of which we may not even be capable of handling when the time comes.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

P.s. My partner has something to add on the topic, make sure you read her fews too.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

[Short Story] Return

He walked the old dusty road again after so many years. He remembered the place very well, so many memories etched into his mind.
The old forgotten dusty lane, which was never urbanized by any political agenda. The same old little house which stood the test of time for so many years. He remembered his last walk on this road. He was trying to prevent the flood flowing from his nose and running his sore bumps with his free hand.

He knew this return was uncalled for, unexpected but it was the one he had to make. He did not know how she would react, would she still be happy on seeing him or will she even recognize him? The crumbled paper clutched in his hand was his identity for so many years. It was a his ticket to existence, his own.

The bell was in his reach now, he was a few seconds away in uncovering the truth. If he wanted to turn back, this was the last threshold. Funny thing was, even after so many days, his hand shivered at this stage.

Would he face her? Face her like he dreamed about so many days? Would he stand up to her? Will she accept him back? Millions of thoughts flowed into his head, each more dangerous than another.

Finally... all was blank, his mind had made the resolve. There was no confusion, no doubt, all was crystal clear, this was it, he was going to do it. 

The bell rang. 

She opened the door and looked at him from her spectacles. She was bent with the burden of time, took sometime in recognizing him.

His fist folded into the tight clutch, the thing he was practicing for the last one year was here. This was it, now or never.

'Miss Mary,' he summoned all the strength he could and spoke the words, '27 years earlier you had given me an 'F' grade on my paper on geography for not mentioning Pluto as the planet, I was right, now give me that pass grade.'

P.s. Happy Teachers day

Monday, August 26, 2013

[Independence Special Short Story] Pis al-ler

Note: This story is written for Storizen magazine. I was watching the independence day parade when a little girl waved at the old man sitting in the audience. What was the man thinking? Who was he? Her grandfather? Did he have any role in our independence? My grandfather always used to talk about how he contributed for freedom struggle. An imaginary story was formed about what happened between the power walk and that you will be reading below. Do give your feedback and comment.

The independence day parade was going on in full swing in the local school. Parents did not fail to notice a four year old waving at the audience. Couple of the parents turned their head to notice an 70-80 year old man sitting at the back of the stadium waving at the girl back. Music continued playing as the toddler's sang national anthem and gave a salute to the national flag.

The old man looked at the flag and smiled, 67 years of freedom, ah freedom. He took a deep breath of the fresh air and got up from the audience. He whispered in his son’s ear sitting next to him, “Going for a power walk.”

The son nodded in acknowledgment and kept clapping at the parade in which his young daughter had taken part.

The old man took a stroll around the school and kept walking on the streets of the old city. “The city has changed a lot,” he thought, remembering the old city before independence. This was same street where he had chased seven british police officers with a lathi, he laughed remembering the incident. The funny part was the police officers were carrying pistols and had no idea he had no weapon on him other than the lathi.

His nostalgic thoughts were disturbed brutally by a scream, “Baksi you bastard.”

(Continued on Storizen magazine)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

[Short Story] Add a little drama to your death

It was over, truly over. Everything that was anything was gone. His life was gone. There was no hope at all. Aditya Singhal had given up on his life. As his legs walked towards the infamous suicide point, he kept murmuring to himself, 'It is over.'

Aditya Singhal led a very fulfilling life. Born to the politically powerful Singhal family with a silver spoon in his mouth. The Singhals were very close to a very famous family ruling the country more than 20 years. Aditya enjoyed a very good, lazy and egoistic life. His tables turned when his powerful father died of an heart attack leaving him a butt load of wealth but very less knowledge of how to use it.

The decline of Aditya Singhal was followed religiously in daily news paper. Right from his scandalous marriage to his deadly narcotics addiction. It took three years for Aditya leg to drag him to the suicide point hitting a new low in his life.

"It will be over soon," Aditya reminded yourself, "Everything will be over."

This will be news fodder for another four days and then over. He stepped closer at the edge of the mountain and took a deep breath.

"Quite a strange place to do breathing exercise," the voice spoke to him.
Aditya turned around to find a man sitting at the edge of the suicide point with his legs dangling in the air. The man wore a winter jacket even though it was a summer day. He had short uncombed hair and a plain black jeans completed his attire.

"Excuse me," Aditya replied, "I am about to die."
"Oh sorry," the man said, "Go on continue."
Aditya took a deep breath and looked in the chasm below.
"You know," the man spoke again, "It will be much easier to just jump than to look."
“who asked your opinion?” asked Aditya.
“Sorry,” the man said, “I was just helping you, anyways continue I won’t disturb you.”
Aditya murmured something under his breath and looked below. The valley was deep, Ok looking below was a bad idea. He took a deep breath and looked up. As the minutes went by the idea was turning bad.

“Why did you come up with such a bad idea?” the man asked.
“Listen,” screamed Aditya, “I do not remember asking you for an opinion, neither am I disturbing you in...” he looked at the man, “...whatever you are doing. What are you doing here by the way?”
“Me? I just like to come here for the view,” the man said, “I am on a break. I love this place.”
“This is a suicide point, people kill themself on this cliff every week,” Aditya said wondering why would someone like this place, “This place stinks of death and murk.”
“I know,” the man beamed, “That’s why I like this place. No stupid optimism, no meaningless pursuit of capitalism, no hope of survival and no chance of living. One jump and you are on the other side.”
“Man, thats depressing,” Aditya sat on the edge of the cliff, “Thats really, really depressing.”
“Oh well,” the man said, “Thats death for you.”
“I had a good life you know,” Aditya began, “I was born with golden spoon and lots of money,” he took a deep breath, “I lost it all one by one. First was the money.”
“Ah, money,” the man smiled, “The biggest parasite in the world. I don’t like it very much.”
“Its too late for that. Money has gnawed me completely. I lost the one I loved, I lost my friends, I turned my back to my family and now I am all alone, with no money, no respect and this lousy life.”
“Ah, Life,” the man said, “the worst sexually transmitted disease out there.”
“I am such a lousy person, I can’t even die properly.”
“But you don’t have to die for these petty issues,” the man said, “So what you are poor now or that you have lost your friends. Those friends were never your friends, the love was bullshit. It is a good start anybody can get in his life. Why do you want to checkout so easily?”
“I...” Aditya stammered, “...Why are you wearing that heavy woolen jacket its sweating hot here?”
“Never let anyone dictate what you have to do,” the man said, “Not even the weather. Don’t change the topic.”
“I am useless,” Aditya said, “I have no ambition, I have no skills and I have never done any work in my whole life. I am useless.”
The man put hand inside his jacket pocket and pulled out a bottle of whiskey.
“Take a sip,” he said, “In my entire life, I have never met a single person who is useless. We all have our purposes, we all have our mission. You may think your life is useless but not for all. You have just not found the purpose in your life and thats ok, you just have to strive hard, keep looking. Sooner or later you are going to find that purpose. Till that time...,” he took the whiskey bottle, “...You keep looking.”
“You are right man,” exclaimed Aditya, “I get a fresh start on life. Thank you, thank you very much.”
“My pleasure,” smiled the man.
Aditya walked down the cliff, yeah, he thought to himself, yeah, the man was right, whoever that was. Aditya was rude not asking who the man was. He should go back and thank the man but he already thanked the man didn’t he? He should thank more...
With a renewed spirit he turned back to the cliff excited to talk more about life. The man was not there.
“Hello?” he exclaimed, “hello anyone here?”
Did the man jump? Was he here to commit suicide after all? He should have stopped the man who saved his life. So selfish of you, Aditya, after all these years, after all these years, you are still...
A tigers growl made him turn around. He found himself staring in the eyes of three hungry tigers walking towards him. Stress on three. Stress on hungry. He put a step behind and realized he was standing at the edge of the cliff. There was no behind. Loose soil slipped under his legs and fell in the big chasm below.

He closed his eyes tightly as the tigers leaped on him.

"Well that was fun," the man was standing at the corner of the cliff, "Wasn't it?"
"What... what?" Aditya exclaimed, how did he survive the tigers?
"You didn't," the man said.
"What I didn't?" asked Aditya.
"You didn't survive the tigers," the man shrugged, "No seriously that was like 101 of death, you stand on the cliff facing three hungry man eating tigers. There is no moral to that story also. Its naked display of..."
"Death..." the man grinned, "So anyways, welcome to the other side."
"Other side?"
"Other side of life, you are dead mister," the man said, "And allow me to introduce, I am Death."
"I am dead?" Aditya asked, "You are death? But... but... you saved me?"
"Oh c'mon," Death grinned, "I did not save you, what was fun in that? I wanted a much better dramatic death for you. Three tigers on a suicide point, that was dramatic wasn't it?"
"You are sick, man, a sadist."
"And here I thought we were friends, " death said, "Tsk, I am merely making my boring, mundane job interesting," a clock on his arm buzzed to life, "Well duty calls. Time for the judgement day."

Poof. They both vanished out of the blue.

Aditya Singhal's body was never found, actually no one bothered looking for him once they came to know he had nothing left. Legally he was declared dead in seven days of absence.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

[Short Story] The Land without Stories

Thousands of years ago on the shore of the great bay of Bengal lay a small kingdom ruled by the brave King Dharmaraja. This small kingdom was blessed and prosperous in all the aspects. The subjects of the kingdom were content, no one slept hungry at night. The King Dharmaraja was called the wisest ruler that ever was born in the land.

But the kingdom had a problem, no one had heard of any other stories before. No one had heard any other tale before for the King Dharmaraja had banned story telling from his kingdom. If you believed in the local gossip, King Dharmaraja had banished all the storytellers from the land many years ago. The local bartender would tell you that the King was haunted by stories all his childhood. He will also tell you about the kings Gandharva caretaker that told stories of distant lands, monsters and demons. The bartender would also tell you that bartenders should not be trusted for they are creatures of deceit and cunningness and they lie.

"But what made the king so angry towards the storytellers?" asked Sadashiv to the local bartender.
"Shsss boy," the bartender spoke to his ward, "Do not ask questions that could get into trouble. I see great future in you, you have potential to become the gardener at the kings garden. Don't spoil your future."
"He asked no question that could cause him any trouble," spoke the man who was sitting quietly at the bar, "Questions do not get you in trouble, answers do."
"He is my ward," said the bartender, "What is it to you. You could be those spies of the king."
"Nay," said the man, "I am no spy, I am just a story teller travelling through the land."
The bartender shrieked in surprise, two people sitting at the table stood up and walked towards the bar.
"If I were you, good fellow, I will run. Run for your life."

"Did you not read the board at the gates of the Kingdom," asked King Dharmaraja in presence of full court, "Storytellers are not allowed in the kingdom."

"Indeed," said the storyteller, "I did read such a notice, I was pondering over it on my way inside."
"Then you dare," the king said, "Disobey an imperial decree. Tread on the path not allowed by the king and disrespect the imperial order and...," the whole court took a deep sigh, "...disobey me."
"I do no such thing," the storyteller said, "I am just a wayfarer passing through the kingdom seeking food and beer. I tell stories for that is my profession, I charge monies for them that pays for my food and survival. I do not see what I do wrong to be tried like a common criminal."
"Storytellers are liars and deceivers," said the king, "They scare little children by telling them about monsters, demons and other things that do not exist. They make stories of distant treasures that do not exists. Storytellers are evil."
"Nay," the storyteller said, "Storytellers do not deceive, they dream. They dream of worlds and places that may not exist. Bartenders deceive and so do Kings for that is their nature, we storytellers only tell stories. You, king, can only rule until the kingdom lives or you live. Storytellers are forever, for we have no face, we have no name. We tell stories, we immortalize the mortals like you oh king."

The king looked at him with a grin, "...and, we storytellers never scare little children by telling them about monsters, demon and other thing, oh king," The whole court held their breath, "Storytellers do not scare the children, nay, the children already know there are monsters, demon and other nightmares, they do not need stories for that, they already know monsters exist. Stories tell them that monsters can be killed."

The whole court was silent. Everyone looked at the king in fear. No one had dared argue with the king before.

"You amuse me," said the King, "You amuse me well. I hear your point and I laugh. Pray tell me then storyteller, why do we need you? I have my administrators who write everything that happens in our kingdom. I have documenters who will document every factual information about the kingdom, why do we need you then?"

"Indeed, you have nice documenters and they will indeed document your entire kingdom and its accomplishments but will they ever create your legend? Even Gods need storytellers for without stories legends are not created. Without the stories of a miracles, people will cease to believe in God. You have your administrators but they will never be able to create history for history is also someones story."

There was a hustle-bustle in the court, everyone started talking in whispers. The whispers were so loud and the king had to shout, "Silence."

Silence felt in the court. The storyteller looked at the king in a piercing gaze, the king in turn stared at the storyteller. Someone coughed in the court, but everyone chose to ignore it. Finally after a long silence the king laughed, the king laughed out loud.

He got down from his throne and kept laughing till he reached the storyteller. The court jester watching in awe as the king put his arm across the shoulder of the storyteller, "Come, dine with me and while you are at it, tell me a story..."

The storyyteller smiled one more story was getting shaped. One more story would be told.

We are all stories in the end, some are told, some are heard and countless others are to be lived.

Have you read my book yet?

Have you read my book yet?
An epic adventure across space and time