Saturday, 5 March 2016

Two mysterious men


A lake and a beach

When I see the lake, I can see it full. I can see its boundaries. I can see its stretch through my little eyes. But I cannot see its depth. I do wonder how deep it is! I wonder about the fishes in it and how they would be living inside the lake water in harmonious communities!

There’s a railway station about 25 minutes away from my place. I have seen this station for the past 7 years and almost all people who travel in the central railway line of the magnanimous city must have at least once got down at this station. Many change trains from here to their respective hometowns. Many live here too. I change my train from here almost each day. This station I tell you is one of the prominent stops. Local train waits here for about a minute and I tell you a lot happens in this whole one minute. Sea of men get down and a large number of men like me wait for them to get down. The wait seems never ending in this little duration of one minute. After the wait is over, finally, we all scurry into the train to find a comfortable standing place. All of this happens in one minute. It’s like mice scurrying in and out of rags of grains!

But before the train arrives, we often have to wait for the right train to our hometowns. My train is either from platform 4 or rarely from platform 1. For the past 7 years, in this busy station, I have been associated.

“Saengh! Saengh!” reach my ears. It is a soft voice! Of the man selling ‘singhdana’ (peanuts) to people like me waiting for our trains! Whether on platform 4 or platform 1, I have seen him on both. I have a fixed place on the platform because I board the same car of the train, the one which is near to the exit of my hometown station. This man has the same position as mine on both the platforms. And hence very obviously, I get notice of this man even in the hustle and bustle of many men waiting on the platform like me.

Now this man has a soft voice. There is no aggressive marketing tone when he vows for people to purchase his garam (warm) fresh peanuts. It is so soft that I bet you will not notice unless you are hungry and looking for stomach refreshment. I know his boundaries; he is seen always in the same position and in a distance of 25-30 steps. I have never seen him traverse the entire length of the platform to look for customers. Perhaps he has made many in his limited space on the platform. He is obviously poor but a neat man. He is well built, his shirt is unwrinkled, his hairs well kept! The other day I saw that he has a bald patch on his back head but his hairs were well cut and well kept.

“Saengh! Saengh!” I heard once again yesterday. I wondered about the softness of his campaign to attract customers. It is not that he is sad about his job but he is not ambitious as well. There’s a certain calmness and neutrality in his body language. He seems away from happiness and grief. I wondered ‘where does he live!’ On one of the platforms! Or he goes home late night and comes the next day for his monotonous life routine! “Would he be having a family?” I asked myself. I don’t know.

He is like a lake; still and calm! I know his boundaries but I don’t know his depth!!!


When I see the beach, I love the thunder the waves make! They come from a distance, the waves, and hit the rocks with all the momentum they build while coming aggressively to it. Thrilling! Enjoyable! The scent of sand and a feel of break free! The beach is very vast. I cannot see its boundaries through my little eyes. When I wonder of its depth, it’s a bit scary. I know it must be very very deep!

My job started some six months ago and my company has three prime locations in the magnanimous city. I have been in all three locations as they do keep shifting us in the early days of job. When I feel habituated to one place, they deport me to other! “Yaar jab pinjre se pyaar hone hi lagta hai toh yeh riha kar dete hain!” (When the bird starts falling in love with the cage, they free the bird!) To make arrangement in some other ‘pinjra’ (cage)! Anyways, when I joined the company, I was given the location some one hour away from my home in local train.

I never got down at this station which is near to the location I got. It was my first time. Through people, I came to know that we get a 10 Rs. sharing auto-rickshaw to my workplace from the station. Now at this station, a lot of working professionals get down to go the huge business park which the town boasts of. My company’s office is in the same park standing neighborly to many corporate power houses in the park. Majorly, all of the people who get down at this station go to earn bread and butter through working for one of the corporate buildings in the business area in the town. And to pick and drop these men and women, a sea of rickshaws gathers outside the western part of the station. The scene of black rickshaws one behind the other in multiple lines is like a horde of crows feeding on a scatter of grains!

On my first day, I saw a huge line of men and women waiting for the rickshaw. I was like ‘Oh my God! I’ll have to wait in this long queue before getting the auto.’ But then I saw this man; a tall untidy person. His shirt was half tucked in his pants, half outside. The top half buttons opened, revealing his white under-shirt vest. He had brown muddy hairs and reddish white teeth. He shouted “Godrej! Godrej!.. Haan aa jao! Arey idhar aao!” (Godrej people come here. Go in this auto!) He was restless. But he was helping people getting the rickshaws quicker and saving our time as we need not wait in the queue. People going to ‘Godrej’, the business park, got the rickshaw with his help. I too got his service and for my one month duration in that office location, I needn’t bother to stand in queues.

I wondered he must be getting commission from the rickshaw pullers. But why would rickshaw men bother if people had to stand in queues! “Did he get money from some generous men among us?” But the working professionals are always in a hurry. Many of them are too immersed in their cell phones. ‘Who would be giving money to this man?’ I thought. There was an aggressive campaign in his tone, a rough tone. He was more bothered for people to get the rickshaw quicker than the people themselves. For once I thought, he belonged to everybody but nobody belonged to him. I thought he must be doing this service for free just to keep himself occupied and for his stomach, he would have made friendship with the food stall owners who would be giving him something to eat for free. Maybe this work would be giving him his share of peace like the beach has its calm surface very far away from the shore. We only watch the waves but at a distance from the shores, the beach is quite, no waves!

After one month, I was shifted to another location. And after five months from that, that is a few days ago, I was deported to this same old place. When I got down at the station on my revisit, I anticipated for the service of this man. But he was nowhere to be seen. We ‘Godrej’ people didn’t have to stand in queue and made arrangement to get the rickshaw quicker by our own selves. The man was absent. I thought he might have got some job, a lucrative offer to leave this place. Or was he no longer a part of this world! Maybe he decided to leave to go to a new place to offer new services.

He was like a beach. I neither know his boundaries nor his depth!!!


You, me, we all; can be a lake or a beach. A sea or an ocean! A ravine too!


Sunday, 27 December 2015

The 'Local Train Syndrome (LTS)'

CASE 1: It was a bit unusual that 7:26 am train at Ulhasnagar was not filled much. It came from Khopoli, about 57 kms from Ulhasnagar. Since the crowd in the train was less, it seemed like X and his friend had boarded the 7:23 am train which came from Ambernath, just 3kms from Ulhasnagar. X recalls very clearly that they had missed 7:23 local as he arrived at the station late.

X and his friend always go together to work. They have a fixed schedule of boarding 7:23 local to Thane in the morning and meet again in the evening to board 5:50 pm local at Thane to way back home. X is a bit lazy and quite often misses the 7:23 local but his friend always waits for him and with no choice, both have to board the 7:26 local.

As X recalls, it was a bit unusual that 7:26 local was quite less crowded. Both were happy that getting down at Thane would be easier. Dombivli crossed and Thane was approaching. Both went forward to approach the door, to stand behind the co-passengers who were about to get down at Thane. A person in his late 20s was the immediate next person standing, Uncle 1.

Uncle 1 suffers from a minor case of the Local Train Syndrome (LTS)!

X: (calling Uncle 1) Aapko utarna hai Thane?

Uncle 1: (nods his head, making a bad face irritatingly) Haan, abhi time hai station aane mein.

After few more minutes, X: (to Uncle 1) Thoda aage jaiye, station aa raha hai.

Uncle 1: (angrily shouts) Arey haan be jaa aage, kabse dhaka de raha hai.
Surprisingly, X had not even touched Uncle 1.

X: (calmly) Subah subah bhadak kyun rahe ho yaar!

Both X and his friend got down at Thane successfully. Surprisingly, the number of people boarding the train from Thane was huge than usual. Mumbai local train, like Mumbai city; always surprise!

X’s friend: Ch****a, waat lag gayi hogi uski Thane pe!

X: Chhod na, pehle hi usko biwi ne pareshan kiya hua hai, tu aur gaali de raha hai. (Both shared a laugh)


CASE 2: Some other day! X and his friend were in 5:50 local coming back home. Vithalwadi station was crossed, their home Ulhasnagar was approaching. Both X and his friend woke up from their seat. They were behind a person who must be in his early 50s, Uncle 2.

Uncle 2 suffers from a slightly advanced case of the LTS.

X’s shoes touched the shoes of Uncle 2 while getting up from the seat. Uncle 2’s facial expressions conveyed his anger to X. Uncle 2’s shoes were shining, jet black shoes. X appreciated the well kept shoes, the shininess of the shoes in his mind; and gave an apologetic smile to Uncle 2. Uncle 2 reciprocated with a mild smile.

A lot of people get down at Ulhasnagar in the 5:50 local and one always gets a push from the men behind as the station approaches. X was exactly behind Uncle 2.

At Ulhasnagar station platform after getting down, Uncle 2: (angrily shouts to X) Kya pagal hai, itna dhaka deta hai!

X: (calmly) Mein aapko jaan bhuj ke kyun dhaka dunga, peeche se dhaka aa raha tha!

Uncle 2 had no answers, but he chose to stay at the platform. X turned closer to his friend. X’s friend had his back facing to Uncle 2 but X could see Uncle 2 still standing. X understood that Uncle 2 wanted to hear cuss words about him and get a chance to attack.

X’s friend: (to X) Be******d, ch****a aadmi…

X: (in low voice) Shhh… Whho hamare peeche hi hai!

Both X and his friend started talking some random stuff while X had his eyes on Uncle 2. Uncle 2 was still waiting for a chance having his full attention on X and his friend. Luckily, he did not hear X’s friend’s cuss remarks on him.

After a couple of minutes, Uncle 2 left with no success of getting an opportunity to attack.

X: (to his friend) Kaise kaise log hain yaar!


Life is not a video game where if you start playing bad, you can exit the game and start playing all over again. Life is a game which doesn’t stop and moreover it isn’t perfect. It’s mysterious!

People suffer from regrets, lost love, guilt, societal pressures, greed, jealousy, loneliness; and who knows what! Now narrow down the presence of these people in Mumbai local trains! About 4500 passengersget packed into 9-car local during peak hours which has a rated capacity of1700 passengers. About 14 to 16 passengers stand per square meter of the floorspace. So much overcrowding! Of course, it is not a surprise that you will find people suffering from the LTS.  



CASE 3: X recalls an incident which happened years ago. X got down at Kurla station from where he used to go to college. It was like any other busy morning where after much struggle, X successfully got down at Kurla station and saw this incident. Huge crowd surrounded a young thin boy and a person in his mid 60s, Uncle 3.

X tells that Uncle 3 was in the final stage of the LTS.

Both young boy and Uncle 3 got down at Kurla from second class compartment adjacent to the first class compartment from which X got down. The young boy was thin enough for the wind to blow him off. His facial expressions and body language conveyed that he was the sort of a person abused on everyday basis. X looked from a distance that Uncle 3 was shouting constantly at the young boy and the crowd was enjoying as if they were witnessing fireworks show on a Diwali night. All of a sudden, Uncle 3 gave a tight slap to the young boy and continued his yelling. As expected from the young boy, he didn’t move an inch and took all the humiliation till the show completed.

The angry old man Uncle 3 was in serious trouble says X. Uncle 3 was fighting an invisible ghost and not the young boy. The invisible ghost that represented his own life! Uncle 3 must be fighting at least one person a day. That gave him satisfaction, contentment as a reward to stay in the web of life. Uncle 3 had fallen in an infinite depth of rowdiness and he will stay there for his entire life perhaps.

X recalls the Joker. The Joker is actually a hero. The Joker has given some wonderful satirical wisdom quotes.

Joker: Madness, as you know is like gravity! All it takes is a little push.



CASE 4: Coming back to present age! It was only a few days ago, X and his friend were travelling to Thane in 7:26 local. X very modestly tells me, “Hey, this time I was not late. It was my friend!”

Both X and his friend made some space for themselves while the train was approaching the next station Vithalwadi. A person in his mid 40s entered the local and stood aside X. He is Uncle 4.

Uncle 4 was very much busy in his mobile phone and was using his both hands involved in mobile, maybe for typing. Hence, he was not taking the support of the hanger in the train.

The train was speeding forward approaching one station after the other. When the train took a sudden break while moving in fast speed, Uncle 4 accidently leaned over X. Realizing this, Uncle 4 instantly took the support of the hanger and avoided further leaning. X too, saved himself from falling by tightening his hold over the hanger. X expressed his discomfort by making a slight irritating tone but without uttering a word.

After a few more minutes, the same thing happened. The speeding train took a sudden break. Uncle 4, much engaged in his mobile again leaned on X. This time, the anger got over X.

X: (irritatingly to Uncle 4) Arey kya kar rahe ho yaar!

Uncle 4: (paused for a second) sorry dear!

X: (instantly came out of his mouth) It’s ok!

X ponders, ‘Did I make a mistake?.. No! Such small things happen!’

X didn’t know what happens in the life of Uncle 4 days in, days out! Uncle 4 didn’t know what happens in the life of X days in, days out! But everything was handled well. Few words and everything sorted!

On this incident, X recalled the Joker again.

Joker: Why so serious?


Closing note:
Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful or malicious. (-Phillips Brooks)

By the way, X told me to wish you all a very Happy 2016!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Smart Diwali

The city decorated like a bride with sparkling lights is back! That happy season with love among people and society bejeweled with lamps is back! Diwali is back and like every year the festive season has brought with it; the enthrallments, the enthusiasm, the joys, the hopes, the love!

The common love message people share with each other is ‘Have a happy and safe Diwali!’ Now, there is an obvious reason for the mention of the word ‘SAFE’. The word ‘safe’, as we all know, is used because of the association of firecrackers with Diwali. The original idea of the use of fireworks and firecrackers is the recreation of the event of Lord Ram returning to Ayodhya after the victory over Ravana. Another obvious fact! And we all know that though the intent of fireworks may be joyous, its evolution and use has been the cause of problems like people suffering from hypertension, high blood pressure; environmental problems in the form of smoke and noise and also birds fatality! While we don’t think of environment much, we at least have the courtesy to wish fellow people ‘Have a happy and safe Diwali!’

With the rise of violent crackers that are bound to shake you when they explode, the word ‘safe’ found its place in the wishes. Some people loved the explosives and many forcefully loved it because they thought this is the way to celebrate. Speaking against the disturbances that naughty crackers caused was considered not so trendy for some while those who spoke against it were considered non-trendy. Obviously, I am speaking about the mass public and not the intellectuals. Even though the intellectuals did speak and believed in crackers free Diwali, the thought did not have much reach. But then with the age of internet, the ‘good’ realization and the awareness were a gift. The co-growth of the social media and the smart-phones has made everyone aware and the number of intellectuals is increasing at a rate never seen before. In the resulting age of opportunities, there are many campaigns with the message ‘Say NO to crackers!’ The campaigns are dedicated to their cause. Additionally, many people have started recognizing that Diwali can be celebrated in a much better way with only lights. There is no need of exaggerated show! The diyas are enough, the simplicity is enough!

I was thinking about what will happen to fireworks manufacturers if crackers are banned. A thought came to me what if e-firecrackers are made! The barud (gunpowder) free firecrackers! Maybe some kind of electric or programmable crackers! I started researching on the internet. And this is how I ended up writing this article. 
Speaking a bit commercial, why would the major fireworks manufacturing companies support the anti-crackers move. Why will they want to stop their profit earning work? Just spare a thought; there are many people involved in the business! How can we suddenly ask them to switch their source of income from the stabilized industry to something else! Even if there has to be a complete ban on crackers, it cannot be immediate. It cannot be an overnight process. There should be a considerable time frame for them to shift. Otherwise there will be no justice to the firecrackers industry. Even then, there will be no fairytale ending to the ‘NO crackers’ movement. There are emotions involved with profession. There will be no absolute end. While thinking this, I queried Google on how will the people be affected if crackers are banned.  In India, the Supreme Court refused to impose a complete ban on fireworks in late October 2015. The fireworks industry in Tirupati, the largest in the country with over 800 fireworks factories, also supports over five lakh families. The picture below shows fireworks manufacturing in Sivakasi city.

Ok; not thinking commercially; thinking about the dangers and un-necessity of the crackers; it is so very correct to not involve the barud (gunpowder), the explosion, the thud in the moments of joy! But what if one wants to involve the sparkles, the colors! What if one wants to see the sky filled with erupting sprinkles synchronized with fusing noise and then disappearing into the eternity! The little kids awestruck with creative crackers that make the golden lights rise, rotate and dance in front of their little eyes! "Diwali is known for fireworks, it is not complete without bursting crackers. So the best way is to opt for eco-friendly crackers and save the environment without dampening the festive mood," said Akhilesh Gupta, a businessman.

Now, this is interesting! There is no one solution if we think of every perspective. But I feel we can be smart here. We can have a responsible Diwali even if we use crackers. There are always golden mid-ways.

1. Fixed time for the use of crackers
We do think that crackers should not be used after 10 pm. We blame the police, the government and what not for not involving strict laws pertaining to this! But can’t we do something ourselves? There are WhatsApp groups of societies, communities, city locations, friends, etc. We can decide unanimously that we shall adhere to fixed timings that will least affect the society. Do we need the police to take the initiative?

2. Smartly purchasing crackers
A flowerpot cracker is more delightful than a sutli bomb! Fireworks like sutli bomb shall not be purchased. I strongly feel that the lover of sutli bomb is actually a lover of gaining attention of the people or a lover of violence! There are choices of chakris, the flowerpot and other low intensity delighting fireworks if one looks for smartly.  There is positivity regarding this. The bombs that make loud noise have become less popular with people. A fireworks dealer in city said, "Due to a decrease in demand of such crackers, we have slashed the stock of bombs and other sound-producing firecrackers by half this year. Even then, not even 50% of that stock is expected to be sold this Diwali."
Interestingly, fireworks companies too are coming up with a range of eco friendly crackers every year with as low price as possible. The eco friendliness of the crackers being increased with each passing year! Another dealer said, "We are noticing an increase in demand of eco-friendly crackers with each passing year and therefore, we have increased its stock this year by 50% from the last year."

3. Having scintillating sky shows at prominent locations only
Fireworks like 1000 shots, 500 shots, etc. that lit up the sky are always a treat to the eyes. But what about the birds! Obviously, they must be getting scared. It also leads to their death. In December 2011, 5000 birds died in Beebs, Arkansas due to fireworks. We don’t even care for the number of bird fatalities due to crackers in India. I did not find a single statistics.
But we can easily work upon the situation. What if prominent areas of cities are only allowed for the use of sky shows! Like the Queen’s necklace in Mumbai! (Shown in the pic below) The government and people can work on this together; assigning suitable blocks of land to launch such crackers. If this is implemented in a disciplined way, birds can find places away from such locations where there is no such danger to them. There should be promotion of commercial display of such fireworks rather than setting of own pyrotechnic devices.

4. Innovation
The fireworks industry shall always aim for continuous evolution. There is not only Diwali, there is New Year’s Eve, there are marriages, there are occasions of victories of netas (politicians), etc. Crackers are part of every celebration. The industry should look out for chemical engineers, innovators to work on developing eco friendly formulas. The fireworks manufacturers should always aim for environmental friendly goals to achieve along with profit.

We can easily celebrate Diwali in our own way. All that matters is being responsible. If we think of everyone's perspective we can have a grand festive season. So, let's have a 'smart' Diwali and thus a 'safe' Diwali!

Happy Diwali 2015!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

What's your 'Date of Death'?

It was the time of cleaning in my home. In a drawer, I got hold of a small piece of stone. Some of my childhood toys were kept in the drawer. A few moments later I recalled that the piece of stone was a magnet which I had kept along with the toys. ‘Yeah I used to play with it!’ I recalled. I verified by bringing the stone close to the main door. It attracted to the magnetic lock area of the door in my home. It was confirmed that it was the same old stone I used to play with and boast to my friends that I have got a magnet.

Finding the magnet, I recalled another thing. This time a concept of Science which we all learn in school! We are all taught that in a magnet North Pole and South Pole exist together. Even if you cut a piece of magnet into two, each will still have its own North Pole and South Pole. The two poles cannot be separated. Never! Single magnetic pole just cannot exist. You keep on cutting the magnet and make it shorter and shorter; still the shortest piece will have its bi-poles. An infinitesimally small or an infinitely large magnet will have its North Pole and South Pole. The length does not matter. But poles matter for property of magnetism!

Science so closely follows nature. We are born and we all die one day. The length of life does not matter but getting born and dying matters for us to be called living beings. It’s like getting born is the North Pole, death is the South Pole and our life is a magnet. Obviously, we all die at different age. Again, the length does not matter. The two extremes matter. If you are born, you are bound to die. Whether a child dies in the womb of a mother or a person dies at the oldest age making the Guinees world record, the end result is the same: death!

This is what makes life interesting; its length is unknown. Imagine each one of us would have known ours ‘Date of Death’, how life would have been! We would all have complaints with God for being impartial for giving larger life to others and shorter life to us. Imagine people meeting each other for the first time, each of them would become so interested to know how much time does the other person will serve useful to him. Instead of asking ‘Date of Birth’, new friends would start asking each other ‘Date of Death’! Competitors would try to gather information about each other’s life validity. Some people would be like ‘I have a lot of time before I die’ and they would waste time and some would be like ‘I have less time than so and so and I have to do more than them’ and they would ignore their family. Governments would announce schemes based on ‘Date of Death’ and people would make fake documents to avail the schemes. Actually, ‘Date of Birth’ would never have focus and there would only be ‘Date of Death’ of importance everywhere. The worst part would be that the start of love and romance between a girl and a boy would become corrupt. When both the boy and girl would become attracted, they would immediately try to know each other’s ‘Date of Death’! You know why! 

 Since we don’t know the length of our lives, we can realize that it is a gift. We can realize that death is not in our hands and all we have is the present time to utilize for what we want. Death can come at any moment: maybe right now. And the best resource to realize the gift of life is ‘Time’. Life comes one ‘Day’ at a ‘Time’. And we can make so much use of it. Close your eyes and sit for five minutes. Ponder over your day to day activities. Ask yourself some basic questions: Do I spend my time on jealousy, hatred and anger? Do I make my loved ones happy often? Do I always say only ‘Yes’? Does my work make me internally happy? When you get your answers, you will realize the gift you have! You will start living your life. The magnet will start attracting iron. The length will no longer matter.

My friend Sanjay Murpani once told me an incident about the great Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs used to live each day of his life like it was his last. Once at a party, Jobs liked a girl. After the party, he had to catch a flight so he couldn’t be with the girl any longer. He was on his way to the airport. But suddenly, he cancelled his trip and turned his car backwards. Later, the same girl became his wife. I don’t know how much of this is true but this is what life is!

Finally, I will share the dialogue of Leonardo Dicaprio (Jack Dawson) from the movie Titanic which I am sure all would have seen: “I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count.” 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Sadanand bhau (Brother Sadanand)

“Dear, please do something about the electricity! There is no power and Sachin will find it very tough to study!” Sadanand’s wife Tukabai told him at dinner.
Sadanand barely earned enough that exceeded his family’s needs. It was always a battle for him to earn as equal as needed. A clerk in railway office, Sadanand was an aam aadmi (common man) of Ambernath, a small place in Maharashtra. A Marathi manoos (man), Sadanand was in his mid-40s. He was characterized by white khadi shirts with white banyan visibly covering his village body. He had no body hair; he was a short, thin person with the world easily understanding his monetary status. He wore black pants, hairs nicely done with oil, not black but without a single bald patch and wore spectacles with frame’s thickness telling you that they were made some 10 years ago.
Sadanand was a huge fan of Sachin Tendulkar like every Indian and he kept the name of his son ‘Sachin’. This was the only significant decision he had taken after his marriage. Rests were taken by Tukabai as she was smart, much more confident than him. But she always supported Sadanand and this was the secret of their marriage. Sachin had taken more of his mother’s genes for the sake of society’s matter. He was the smartest kid in the local. A tall teenager now, he scored well in studies and even helped his parents in daily chores with whatever little he could do. They say a name has a lot to do with your personality. Sachin was very fond of cricket and a class player of his school.
Sadanand was proud of Sachin. He was grateful to God that Sachin had an authoritative personality which he did not have. But with years, Sadanand’s life was the definition of monotony. Wake up and the same struggle of earning began for him. It was not as if opportunities never came! Whenever there were opportunities, he did not take risks. And whenever he was ready for risks, the ‘Sun of favors’ was covered with clouds of bad timing! There were times Sadanand’s mind asked him ‘Will my life be boring like this till the very end?’ Sadly, there were no answers.
‘Just keep moving on. There is no other option!’
‘You blame! You cry! You complain! Even though you are right, nobody will listen. You better keep your feet moving!’
Sadanand somehow knew this already. He expected these kind of instructions on reaching the checkpoint. Reluctantly, he kept walking.
It was wonder-filled path. Fully green, country-side path, leaves dancing in wind which was blowing after rains! The check-point was wooden, the board being attached to the ground permanently. It was a typical scene of completion of a stage in an adventurous video game. ‘Must be one of the inner paths of Ambernath which Sachin would be knowing surely!’ thought Sadanand.
“Sir, it takes two days for all the steps to complete. I assure that there will be no power cut in your home after two days. But you will have to bear for two days as you have paid your bills late!”
“Take this 500 Rs. Note! I can’t afford power cut as my son has to study.” Sadanand said.
The official in light office: (laughs) “Sir, my charge is Rs. 300 but still I can’t take it as I can’t do anything about the power cut in your house. It will take minimum a day to forward your request through bribe. You better wait for two days officially.”
Sadanand never used to pay bribes. But with time, he learnt that to survive, he had to drop values more often than never! Now even the concept of bribe was failing. ‘People treat me so insignificant. Looking at my stature, people feel pity. Tuka said just look after upbringing of Sachin. I trained my mind to work hard so that Sachin can have a better future. I never had any wishes for my own-self so that Sachin can reap the benefits of what I do! Still, life gives only dukha (sorrows) to people like me. We are the symbol of sadness created by God!’ Sadanand’s mind was sad. He had stopped walking.
The checkpoint reappeared. This time the instructions were not predictable to Sadanand.
‘Sadness is a dangerous emotion. It makes you fall in love with it very easily. Just be sad for a single thing and get lost. No sooner you will enter a helix of sad thoughts with infinite loops. You will enjoy sadness! You will enter a comfort zone!’
‘I will take Sachin to the railway office with me. He can study on my chair. I can use the extra chair in the room. It is usually there. No worries even if there is no electricity in the home. There is always a way out.’ This idea stuck in Sadanand’s mind. Sadanand realized that if you stay sad for a long time you will enter your comfort zone. And to move on, you will have to come out of your comfort zone! He started walking.
It was breakfast. “But it still involves monthly cost of at least more 10000 Rs. And, in India becoming a successful cricketer is like counting the exact number of stars.” Sachin said protesting his mother when she told Sadanand that their son was selected for advanced training in the sport by the school.
Tukabai was very keen that Sachin take training in cricket as the school suggested that he had in him.
‘In life, all you get is that one chance! That one strike! Grab it! Else somebody surely will!’ There was no checkpoint. There was no green filled path. Yet Sadanand could read it. He pinched Tukabai. “Oouch! Kai kartas? (What are you doing?)” Exclaimed Tukabai. Sadanand realized he was not dreaming. It was morning.
Sadanand said, “Beta (son), go for your training! Never ever sacrifice your dreams for the sake of your parents. I have been working for so many years, I will find some way out. After all, what is the goal of my life?”
Tukabai was surprised, happy! She answered on behalf of Sadanand: “Your success son!”
The fan started running and light tube was suddenly ON.
Sadanand: “Ohh wow! The power has finally come. And surprisingly in one day. Dear Tuka, put off the light! It’s still morning.”

Monday, 13 July 2015

Too Costly!


Teacher to Garima: How can you see with your eyes?

Reena was the only one to raise her hands. Getting the chance to speak, she answered “The light from the source, say a tube-light falls on the object. It gets reflected from the object and falls on our eye which is a lens.”

Everybody was amused with Reena’s smartness.

Garima, after a few moments, just after the teacher praised Reena: Then, how can owls see only in the dark?

Teacher: Reena, any idea?

Reena was quiet, pondering over the query. Some students were excited with Garima’s return war on Reena.

Teacher: Anybody else?

Seeing nobody with an expression of getting the answer, the teacher said: Well, first of all, we are interested in studying the characteristics of light and not in vision of animals. But Garima, different animals have different sensitivity of the eye. Owls have night vision unlike humans. Nevertheless, I asked the question to see what you can think about vision.

Garima was irked with the teacher not praising her. But she was happy that she was able to put forth a question which Reena could not answer.

The students were used to such kind of battles between the two girls. In fact, Vikas and some other naughty lot of students were maintaining a diary. They recorded each battle and who won them. Garima was the topper in last two UTs. Reena was just a mark below Garima in UT2. But Reena boasted of her dancing skills being far superior than that of Garima’s and her team’s win in basketball over Garima’s team. Also Reena’s beauty being the talk among boys was something which Garima’s profile lacked.

Vikas: So who’s won the battle today? Considering that the teacher did not show much hurray to Garima, Reena deserves the win.  

Kushal: But what a question by Garima! How the hell can one think of an owl so quickly! Even if not today, she is the Serena Williams, the champion!

The entire gang busted out in laughter. Vikas said, “Reena is definitely Sharapova then.” All echoed “Yeah!!”

Reena: This Garima will never stop being jealous. What the hell was she proving by asking the stupid question of owls! I swear I will beat her in UT3. I want to win every battle with her.

Shweta, Reena’s best friend: This talk of ‘battle’ irks me! I mean, the competitions between you both are OK. But, what the fuss with this stupid rivalry! And in every little thing! I find this stupid.

The other day Sagar and Reena were decided as partners in a dance competition. Sagar was arguably the best looking guy in the class. He was also a great dancer. As Sagar was a newcomer and his academic profile did not match to the standards of Reena’s, there was never much interaction between the two.

After the evening dance rehearsals in school, Sagar asked Reena, “How are you going home?”

Reena: My home is near. I go by walking.

Sagar: I have my bike. Should I drop you?

Reena: No, thank you! I will be fine.

A little smile flashed on Reena’s face. It was a little blush. As the days passed, there was attraction building between the two. They were the prime dancers and were the centre attraction of the entire sequence. They guided other dance couples. One of the junior student asked guidance to improve academics in between breaks between rehearsals. Sagar told him, “Buddy, ask princess Reena. She is the topper, a true scotch!” Reena: (smiles) Yeah! I am the only scholar!

The day of final dance performance came. The function finished late. Sagar: Reena, it’s late. I will drop you home. Reena just smiled. Both were off to home on the bike. It started raining. The two stood under a shade. Sagar: I love rains. It is so romantic season. “What romantic! So many puddles get created. People cannot even go out”, Reena said. “So you don’t want farmers to be happy. You don’t want reservoirs to be filled princess”, Sagar flirted. “I am not princess.” Reena smiled. “Garima is the real princess of the class.” Sagar said, “You are amazing!! You remember Garima in this lovely weather!! See, even rain God stopped pouring rains. Reena laughed and both were headed home.

Reena was enjoying the attention from Sagar. By now, the class knew about the sparks flying between the two. The two of them ate together, walked home together. They planned to study together for the UT3.  One evening, Reena and Shweta met in the park. “Did you start preparing for UT3?” asked Shweta. Reena replied, “I am preparing with Sagar. This time I will show to the class that I can have a boyfriend and still top the exams.” The uninterested Shweta said “Hmm.., I got to go. Mom has some work. See you!” Surprised Reena asked “Then why did you call me to the park?” “Forgot about Mom’s work!” replied Shweta while walking away. Reena doubted Shweta’s sudden exit. Slowly walking, Reena, in thoughts, left the park too.

It was Geometry exam the next day. Sagar: Thanks Reena for teaching me constructions. Also, we have discussed every chapter. Let’s revise everything.

Reena: I have to do the extra sums.

Sagar: But, they don’t ask out of the book questions.

Reena: I have to be prepared extra if I have to beat Garima.

Sagar: It’s already late. You can’t complete all the extra questions before morning.

Reena: I will give it my all. I will at least go through the extra sums and then revise the book.

Sagar was scared when he saw Reena study all day long. He doubted his own preparations. To avoid his lack of confidence, he told Reena that he will study on his own for the remaining exams. He was happy with his academics. He did not want to disturb his contentment with the marks he used to get. He was not interested in Reena’s commitment to work hard. He started losing interest in her. The top status of Reena never baffled him but rather now he was disturbed by it.

Reena thought, ‘I will show them all. Sagar cannot digest my will to shine. It hurts him. Even Shweta seems to be affected with envy on my status.’ Reena worked overtime. She managed to beat Garima in UT3. She was very proud of herself. She invited Shweta to the park for some time pass in the evening.

Shweta: Nobody cares who comes first in exams. It’s great to be on top. But you are taking it too seriously. You have programmed yourself too much into academics. You will only lose smartness and not gain anything.

Reena: Don’t worry. This is not as serious as you think.

The two enjoyed chatting for some time. Reena knew the genuineness of Shweta’s friendship. She was happy with her achievement but it was true that the UT3 had exhausted her.

Reena’s uncle: Drop this packet in the post box while going to school.

Reena: I don’t remember any post box coming in the way.

Reena’s uncle: It is near the Hanuman temple. You have not seen it even once!

Reena: Ok, I will get it done.

After some time Reena comes back finding no post box.

Reena: Come on, there is a rashan store, Vicky ice cream shop, a few more shops. Where the hell is the post office!

Reena’s uncle: Oh God! Girl, I am talking about the red post box, not the office. Come, I will show you.

Reena’s uncle takes her to the post box, the opposite corner of the temple. “What, you are a topper! And I have to come with you for this little thing!” said Reena’s uncle in a taunting way.

But this was the eye opener for Reena. She was paying too high a cost just for being on top. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015


Breathless I was!!

That epic moment when Amitabh Bachchan made me breathless!

“Sonia tumhe pata hai ye revolver khali hai, mujhe pata hai ye revolver khali hai;
.. Lekin police ko nahi pata yeh revolver khali hai!”
(High pitch background music following this dialogue: something like ‘Tain Tain!!’)

I was 13 years old in 2006 when my dad sat with me and made me watch the 1978 classic Don. It was the time when Shah Rukh Khan starrer Don, a remake of the former classic was going to release. Dad thought why not revisit the old classic before watching the new one. Dad was 13 when he watched the legendary Shri Amitabh Bachchan’s Don. I was 13 when the legendary Shah Rukh Khan’s Don was releasing. A sort of history was going to repeat! I was not quite inclined to watching old movies naturally as every kid. But here, I was quite excited as the character Don was stuck in my mind!

Right from when the movie started, my eyes were glued to the TV screen. The entry of Big B, the wonderful dialogues, the way Don spoke, the way he walked! It was all over my mind. Don killed Ramesh and his fiancĂ© Kamini was here to take revenge. The set up for the song ‘Yeh mera dil pyar ka deewana..’! Kamini removes bullets from Don’s pistol much to his disguise. She seduces him till the police arrive for Don’s arrest. The song ends with Don seeing from the window, several policemen waiting to arrest him. Understanding Kamini’s intentions, Don brings up his pistol from another room. Kamini tells her that she had already emptied the pistol. In a series of dialogues between smart Kamini and Don, Kamini tells Don that it was no way out for him and he will have to surrender. Finally, Don tells the dialogue which I wrote above, making me jerk, leaving me completely breathless!

‘Wow!! Simply awesome… What a dialogue!’ I said. Not only the dialogue which was so witty, so suspenseful; the Kalyanji Anandji music at the end of the dialogue gave me a sudden jerk. I was left breathless with the magic of Big B’s aura. I watched the full movie that day and Don was on my mind for many many days to come! This is how I became a fan of ‘Sadee ka Mahanayak’ Shri Amitabh Bachchan. After Don, I watched many of ‘The Angry Young Man’s cult classics: Deewar, Trishul, Kala Pather, Sholay to name a few. Every movie made me even bigger fan of Big B and each movie left his charisma on me. His dialogues, his style, his aura left me breathless every time.

I was contemplating and recollecting the moments that made me breathless. I was walking towards my home today, coming from a class. I was sweating and the polo T-shirt I was wearing was the one without buttons. I felt that my chest hairs were revealed to the on lookers. Also I have not shaved recently. While I was walking past girls, my walk changed to a confident, stubble young man who doesn’t give a damn! I was showing of, creating an impression! The image of Big B in his young days came to my mind. I suddenly recalled the epic scene of Don which first made me breathless watching the legend on screen. I was like Wow! What an epic moment to remember! I was all smiles!!! J J