Archive for October, 2006

Diwali Celebrations

Posted: October 23, 2006 in Gibberish Blabber

As I stood by my hostel room Verandah on Diwali day, dusk setting in, I couldn’t help miss my family back in Delhi. My brother back from his hectic Law School schedule is currently spending his end of terms vacations in Delhi and with that my parents have taken a couple of days off from the daily nitty-gritties to make a short trip to Nainital. I am left outas my B-School schedule does not allow me to take a day off even during peak festival season. Festivals are really that great fun without your near and dear ones around. A realisation which refused to stop haunting me this Deepawali.

I was engrossed in these thoughts and would have contined to wither in them had I not been shaken up by my next door roomie. The Official celebrations were about to star, he exclaimed in half breath without half as much as caring whether I was receptive to him or not. Of course it did not matter to him, I was as unaware of happenings as anyone could ever manage and he took it as a personal responsibility and challenge to ‘Strike a light, where ther is darkness all around’ Afterall, It was Diwali! 😀

His spoken message almost missed me, but his half-breath excitement was difficult to ignore. I was drawn back to reality, to ground-zero so to say. Quickly managed to freshen up and put on the cleanest, ironed shirt trouser I had in my closet. Not to mention took my camera along, and off we went.

Just as I came out of my room a magical sight awaited me, the whole corridor had been lit up with bright candles spaced at a uniform distance. The sight was most resembling to that of an Airport runway at night. I stood there for a while savoring the beauty around. It was indeed somthing worth capturing in my camera (See the pictures in the right handside column, click there to see many more of them). As my friend trudged me along, eager not to miss the free ‘halwa‘ in the canteen, we met with another interesting thing. someone had used his/her creative juices to write ‘K’ with soe candles in a rather dark gloomier corner of the coridoor. The effect was that the ‘Briht K’ was showing light all around! 🙂 (See the pictures in the right handside column, click there to see many more of them).

We joined for Puja, followed by sumptuous Deepawali special meal. Almost everyone was in traditional dresses and it was easy to notice that even the ladies looked a lot more gorgeous in traditional outfit that they were ddoning today than the skimpier western ones that they normally wear. I was like the odd man out with shirt-trousers on.

Greetings of ‘Happy Diwlai’ in many forms were echanged and we then rushd for the fireworkd. It was a spectacular sight, to say the least, some of the firecrackers thatwe had got reminded me of the ones that we see on the opening day of Olypics or any other such grand event. Such was their captivating nature. Engrossed in fun and frolic, I witnessed many rockets going astray, many crackers going leak-puff and many flower pots rising whoooosh.. sky high. The neo-classic 500 sky shots, were the star cast of the entire event and each of them continued to lighten up the sky in brilliant dazzle for what seemed like close to 5 minutes. By the end of it all, people were still rushing back to their hostels for extra rounds of cracker biursting, on individual hostel budgets. I somehow had enough for the day.
(See the pictures in the right handside column, click there to see many more of them).

I joined my friends Don and Mark for a round of impromptu music jam session. They had almost perfected the acoustic guitars and the sound of the stoked strings somehow reverbated me into a different realm altogether. I am a connoisseur of music and some of the best in speakers, withing my affordable range, find place in my belomgings. My Slim, contoured and beautiful Altec Lansing speakers are a sheer delight.But somehow there as I sat , the sound suddenly seemed so distinctly fresh. I was easy to realise that the ones I normally hear in my room are no match fpor the ‘authentic’ humming strings. Took me back to the days of my ‘Don Bosco School Band’. Memories. I was once again a standard 7 student singing in the ‘Carnucopia‘ Music challenge.
Back in the ground, we sang a number of hindi and english numbers attended by a small but highly participative audience. Some of the songs had lyrics in prim and proper shapes other were like rags stiched by stings of ‘hummings’. A wonderful feeling, when you continue to sing even when you are not aware of the lyrics. Its like then its your heart which does the singing.
(See the pictures in the right handside column, click there to see many more of them).

The Music Sammelan was by far the most enjoyable event of that day. I wanted to carry oin there, byut by now it was 01:00 hours and my laziness coupled with a sumptuous meal was getting better of me, edging me to call it a day. So, took final leave of all singer-listener buddies and headed back to my room happy and contented.

So, missed Nainital, but got God’s Own Kerala in Return. Not a bad deal at all !

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“Friends never say Goodbye”
Heard this wonderful song by Elton John yesterday. And today just as I was about to participate in the ritual of studying, a thought occurred to me. I wanted to devote a post to a friends with whom in-spite of my best efforts I lost touch. He is a wonderful person, who came into my life at a very young age and enriched it with a lingering fragrance. Something that can still be smelled on a quite Sunday evening or when day dreaming sitting on a beach in placidity.

‘Sishir’ studied with me from Kindergarten to grade four. He wasn’t too good in Hindi, which was expected considering the fact that he was the son of a Portuguese diplomat. There was something very elegant about him. Never the one to get into any fight, always polite and courteous even at that nascent an age. He was always around to share your sorrow, whether it was punishment for forgetting your class notebook or whether it was dropping your Tiffin case, in which case he was most insistent to share his with his unfortunate friend.

You could alm ost feel the pain when Miss Chandra, the rude and imprudent class teacher of grade 1 (class one) would hammer away a wooden ruler at his palm for not being able to perform in hindi which was utmost ‘ridiculous’ according to her. I still remember the vicious anger that seethed in me with the appearance of quiet dew in sishir’s eyes. He winced but didnot scream or cry, which just made the teacher more ferocious in her efforts to punish the ‘defaulter’.
As I recall this incident, I get an overwhelming nauseatic feeling because inevitably at some other elite school in elite cities like Delhi/Mumbai today some psychologically unfit person would be repeating a similar act thinking that he/she has done a fine job of the responsibilities bestowed. So much for our ‘Education System’, something every truly Educated Indian should be ashamed of.

It was not on the last but one day before the onset of final examinations of grade 4 (class 4) and the gracious and kind Uma Sirkar asked Sishir to go and get her a glass of water. As soon had Sishir quietly went to get the serving, she called the class to attention. She said, and I clearly remember, “My Boys, your friend Sishir would be leaving us after the exams. Let’s give him a farewell Gift. I want you all to get Rs. 10 tomorrow and we will give a small
gift and a card”. I was stunned!

The next day after Tiffin break, as we sat just in front of the assembly stairs waiting for the last two minutes to pass before we will be hushed back to class, he was fondling with the gift. I asked him what it contained, and he quietly replied, ‘Let’s find out’. And with that he went about undressing the gift, as nicely as possible (I noticed this because I was quite rowdy when it came to tearing open gift wrappers to revealing the gift, but here was my friend as calm as a tulip ..).

It was a Mug from Archies with the message “We will Miss You”. We were both too young or too un ‘refined’ to express out our feelings at that point of time (thankfully, else we would have the so clichéd ritual of ‘vote of thanks’ as is common in the corporate world), but I saw tears streaming down his eyes. I distinctly remember that I was so shocked and in so
much in grief that tears failed me.

That was the last I remember of my friend. Indeed, I have never again met a person so wonderful and so nice in the rest of my life.

The words of this song came echoing back to my ears

Suddenly that isn’t true
There’s another avenue
Beckoning, the great divide
I would choose
The same joy the same sadness each step of
the way
That fought me and taught me that friends never say Goodbye
Never say goodbye

(This Post is Dedicated to dear Sishir, wherever he is… So Long my Friend!)

Disclaimer : The title of the post does not have much in common to the context apart from the ‘Eagle’. The tile is more like, my tribute to one of the all time great movies by the same name.

Today something strange happened which had me stop and thinking. As I went about the usual routine of my evening walk, I found my friend who bought a new ‘Bullet Enfield‘ just the other day. I asked him for a short joyride before I continued on my walk, he as nice as a person he is, gleefully obliged. We had been cruising in his new cruiser for close to a minute, when he suddenly uttered ‘Oh God!‘ and slowed his bike, almost to the extent of stopping it. When I asked what happened, he said nothing and again stepped on the gas.
We were climbing uphill, so it was like a wake up call for him before we would go sliding in to the lush green forests below; but a little distance when we were now safely going downhill, he said a bird came on his path and he had accidentally run over it. I did not feel anything, it was like a void. So what is the big deal, birds get run over every now and then. bikes, cars and even aeroplanes. They come in the path of these juggernauts and the loose their existence or almost.
After the ride, which was a full circle just as I had wanted it to be, he dropped me off at exactly the same point where we had started. I happily and contendedly went on back in my normal course of walk.
I must have walked some 500 meters when a sight caught me completely captivated for about 2-3 minutes. There was this beautiful eagle brown-black in color with startling and glittering blue eyes lying on the middle of the road with feathers scattered all around. It struck me like a lightning that this must have been the bird that we ran over. I definitely missed more than a beat, as I saw helplessly,  very much in a trance as to what to do.
The trance was broken by a slight movement of the bird, as it struggled to get to its feet. It was then I could see that it was alive, not much hurt except almost detached of one of his wings and with a leg badly injured. I must have said a silent prayer that the poor thing was not hurt in its ‘torso’. It had this glittering eyes on which it kept bating its eyelids, something so captivating that I would have cried, had I not been suddenly awoken to the fact that this would need to be taked to a side before any other traffic ran through it. (The road was a climbing road on the hills of IIM Kozhikode; so there was a blind turn right ahead, hence by the time any traffic saw the poor thing lying, it would have been too late to out the brakes just as it happened with my friend.)

I was wondeing how to pick it up, I felt a weird concoction of feelings: Something so somplex and so convoluted that I am sure I would not be able to do justice in putting it down in words. It was a acerbic blend of immense sorrow, unfathomable pity, utter helplessness, discomforting nervousness, jittery fear and confusion. I tried picking it up, but there were two problems.One I was not sure if it was an eagle and hence, whether it would bite me. The Second problem was that every once in three times I actually overcame this fear and came close to touching it, it would immediately struggle to run away, further scatter a feather or two from his dissociated wing; shaking up my determination by that.
It was a hobson’s choice I did not have the courage to pick it up, but leaving it to die was definitely not an option. I was immersed in this dilemma when a couple of my classmates came walking from the other end. The sight of me bending on the middle of the road and hob-nobing with something, obviously uncertain with my actions seemed amusing to them. (I could not blame them for that, i know how that must have looked to them). But when he was within earshot, I de-briefed him as to the scenario. I surprised myself with the candidness, I told them straight that I needed help as I was afraid to pick it up. The infectious nature of such truthfulness soon came into light when they admitted that they felt sorry for it, but declined to assist in moving it as they too were afraid. Boys being afraid is not that bad or awkward a thing afterall..!
One of them, the smarter and the more macho of them, an IIT graduate sugested that we use a stick that he managed to find to shovel it across. As much as practical it might have been, something inside me revolted. I most certainly cannot hide behind the veil of my fear to shovel off an injured creature. That was not me! No Way !
As I went back in my endeavours to pick it up, they kept encourging me to go ahead and pick it up ( I want to emphasise that those two are perfectly good people; fine lads, who just ran out of courage at that moment much as I had). First time I touched it, It suddenly flapped its working wing, and I was stunned as if hit by a thunderbolt. Finally chanting a silent prayer asking the almight to give me the strength I picked it up off the ground and was about to take it across when it violently protested and fell out of my grasp covering the few inches I had taken it above ground effortlessly, taking the scenario back to square one.
This time something inside me gave me the strength, It was definitely not my conscious self, but something which almost controlled all my thoughts. I stroked my hand over its head caressing it, surprisingly it did not jerk its head. Its blinking eyes seemed to take me into confidence. And then I picked it up, gently but firmly, not once did it try to protest this time.
As I did so, my friends made way for me to put it in the footpath. One of them suggested that I put some dug out mud lying nearby to keep it. I asked him to pur some over the concrete slab so as to make a comfortable resting place. And he duly obliged. I then gently rested the bird on it.
My mind was racing now, as I remembered Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayenge and the magical words of Shahrukh, “Is mitti main bohot shakti hai… theek ho jaayega”.
Funny as it might seem, I was praying with all my strength that this be true.

As there was nothing much to do I continued on my walk, (It was already nearing dusk, and I had slipped at least by 20 minutes behind my daily schedule). My mind was still at it, and something suddenly crossed my mind. I keep complaining to God about how much he hasn’t given me in terms of memory and intelligence. I am definitely not the brightest or the smartest of kids around here. I need to read some matter almost endlessly before it sinks in for examinational recollection. My intuition often fails me in hour of need, when I am desperately fighting to survive the onslaught of a torturous examination paper. (the memories of Quant paper in which my memory completely failed me, came back on ready reckoning; I am still hopingthat I make it through that!)

But in return of this he has given me something, which I find is not so common to be found around. I have this passionate feeling. A feeling which is so powerful and overbearing that it overpowers almost all my other senses. Something that is so strong that it almost singlehandedly biases my decision on how to act. On these occasions, I suddenly rise up; an exponential incremental in character and strength, go ahead and do something which I should be doing then. This has happened to me before, more than once; when the depth of my feeling for someone’s pain or need for help made me suddenly forget all the world around and come ahead and assist. Funny as it might sound, I realised that this was indeed a God’s gift. The fact that I am kind enough to actually feel the pinch for others is indeed a quality. Most of the world dwelves at a level which is far shallower in feeling, something so painted, so masked and so ‘artificial‘.

I also realised that one of the main objectives of my favourite course in the previous term Organizations Behaviour  (taught by someone who argualby features among the best in this field in the country), to find the difference between Leader and a Manager, was finally answered. A leader is one who has depth of character to be able to feel for others, to actually look at the scenario after putting himself in the other person’s shoe and to build up the last straw of courage in times when it matters. I realised that my single biggest quality and U.S.P (Unique selling Proposition) for eing a leader, is that though I forget names in a whiff, though I am not the reserved kinds, one who command immediate respect by their presence; I am sensitive enough to feel for people around them, to have genuine concern and to have a good heart inplace. Something which would compensate for the numerous drawbacks in terms of my abilities. Something whoich would make my defeciencies seem so trivial in comparison. God definitely, made me the way I am, not by  accident but with a purpose. there is a very good reason why I am the way I am, not any better , not any worse.

Before I end what would be the longest post of my life, I must add that as I was on my way back and retacing the route, I kept praying to God that he would show his mercy on my hurt friend. Just as I negotiated the blind turn, I saw that the spot of mud on the concrete was without its new inhabitant. I feverishly looked around hoping against hope that it had fallen from the cliff, and god be thanked, nothing of that sort had occured.

I would like to believe that by some act of God, it had managed to find its way, and was now slowly returning to its normal course of life.

Ae Khuda Raite ke sehra ko Samundar kar de, ya chalakte huye aankhon ko pathar kar de

Durga Puja outside home

Posted: October 2, 2006 in Arbit Thoughts

This was the first time, I spent Durga Puja away from home and family; in a remote but beautiful place in Kerala. The term break made sure that I just got to hear mahalaya and then I had to leave back to my alma mater, for a gruelling Term II.

Its like some hungry chap being taken into a wonderful eatery to be given a whiff of the aroma of delicacies and then escourted out, telling him it was time to go. Certinly cruel and bordering Inhuman.

Somehow, Puja is a complete miss without the smell of ‘shiuli’ a flower, the smoke of ‘Dhuno’ and the loud rythmic beats of Dhak. I also missed the pandal hopping, the tearing off of tags off new clothes and them adoring them, the gossips with frineds, the babe watching, the numerous rounds of ice-cream/roll/cutlets and coffee (Delhi is in transition to winters around this time) nad of course the cultural functions of all kinds, some great, most watchable and a few torcherous! 🙂

It is on occasions like this that my belief gets re-affiemed that I will be willing to make significant concessions in professional life in order to be working from home. Its been over seven years now, and somehow the price of benefits I am willing to forego for this cause keeps facing an upwards climb.

The whole spirit is something that simply cannot be recreated outside its original setup by a few home-sick IIM students. So we just did not out up too much of a fight, and gave in to being sullen for all the four days. Thankfully the graciuous work load, which is almost quadrupled from previous term, kept us occupied. We however to make escapades for dinner thrice, once to prim TAJ, then to niche ITC Fortune and finally to a nice homely Sagar.

Savouring the last day of ‘classes free‘ span over the past 4 days, asI write I am actually wondering if I will be able to pen anything more down before the end of this term. There is every reason to believe that that wont be possible, but somehow something inside me tells me, that the rebel inside will finally get sick of one strenuous strech and forget all deadlines, submissions to agin sit and stafrt penning his cribbing and tit-bits of his life, not too long from now.

I have still a pile of stull in the ‘To Do’ basket, so will end this here.

Wishing you and your family the best of Vijaya Dashami and the blessings of Ma Durga.