Joker is No Joke!

When I entered the theatre, I heard many people speak about how Joaquin won’t ever compare to Heath’s joker.

Man, were they right!

Joaquin’s Joker will NEVER compare to Heath’s because they can’t’ be compared at all. All these people went quiet five minutes into the movie. All I could hear in the first half was ‘OMG’, ‘That’s creepy!’ from these ‘good little boys (and girls). In the second half, people said ‘fuck!’ more times than they would in their beds. Some couples understood they cannot cuckoo-doodle while the Joker was playing. Wrong movie for a date!

The affect the movie had on every one was surprisingly chilling. The last time I remember people in theatres this affected by a movie was for Interstellar. No, not even Star Wars, John Wick, marvel and DC, etc movies had this affect. Offcourse, Interstellar left a dazzling, almost psychedelic emotion.

Joker, on the other hand, left a dark and scary one.

I watched Joker twice myself before I sat to break down why this movie will go down in history. Spoilers ahead!

Pro-tip: Please watch Joker in IMAX!

Joaquin Phoenix

It goes without saying that he is a man full of acting talent. In Joker, he has surpassed any limit you could imagine. He played perfectly in every scene to the tune of the music. The dance after the subway killing was most easily one of the best scenes in the history of cinema! The Joker is born in that dingy bathroom. Arthur slips deeper into his newly discovered self. It is as if Phoenix is literally making Joker come out of Arthur’s ashes in a spooky dance ritual!

The historic scene from the dance in the bathroom after the subway murder.

From scene one to the last, you will notice the micro-expressions on Joaquin’s face sound louder than his symbolic Joker’s laugh. His laugh… it gives you chills! It is sad, hollow, sarcastic and painful all in one – except for in Murray Franklin Show! I thinks that is where he truly laughs, after realising who he really is and breaking free of the binds.

Those eyes, that framing, this scene…. Joker is ready to kill!

I could go scene by scene and describe the beauty that this man has created in every one of them, but let’s just talk about the last scene for now; the very last scene where he’s talking to a psychiatrist in Arkham. The scene starts with his laugh in a real tight close up. If you were in an IMAX, you would see every line of his face deliver a dialogue. His eyes show you the dark, horrible place he lives in! The black, burnt cigarette on his finger, the way he starts singing to the tune and coming out of the room leaving footprints of blood behind… it was unexpected and freaked people out! How did he kill her? Why did he kill her? Was he telling the doctor his story and flashback? Was he captured after the rally and telling her the story? Was it all imagined and reality was something else? People are unsettled!

The scene from Murray Franklin show… gives you the goosebumps! Look at that face!

Here’s my take: It all happened as we saw in the movie and he’s now imprisoned in Gotham Asylum, waiting for Batman to appear and in the meanwhile having fun screwing with mad-heads and Dr. Harley. What say?

The Music

A sad violin and cello at the start, and trumpets and louder drum beats (not sure about the exact instruments) when the Arthur gets his mojo on and begins to turn into Joker. Hildur Guðnadóttir (yes, it’s a SHE) has done a brilliant job! At first, I thought if Hans has come back for composing, but lo and behold! It’s this beauty who has made music so intense and resounding that it fits the Joker and his complex being!

For the scenes depicting Arthur’s pain, the music made you feel his emotions.

After the subway shooting, the scene with the dance was not actually a part of the script. It was after Todd and Joaquin heard an extra music piece from Hildur that Joaquin thought of this dance! It expresses Joker from the roots; a person who just wanted a family, love and his dream of being praised for his art but instead became trash like in the alleys of Gotham. He was mistreated, beaten, shouted at and now, in this scene, he embraces himself and his darkness. Without her music and the awesome choice of songs, people wouldn’t have felt their skins crawl. For me, it was such an art I had goosebumps both times I watched the movie.

The music announces Joker’s entrance in this scene. Notice the red eyes? It was a great effect to add to Joaquin’s look!

Direction, Cinematography, Effects

Ok, so each one of these pieces are great support in making Joker the movie it is. Todd has gone above and beyond to make it artful! Several things that brought magic to the screen was:

Framing: The golden composition, framing Arthur in the centre of curtains amidst the lights, showing his face in the mirrors, all the angle low and high changing with his condition! Once noticeable angle for me was when Arthur runs down the stairs with his mother’s file and the scene goes out with a top angle, diagonal if I may say, but keeping Arthur in the composition and framing him with the silhouette of the stairs. It made me feel how unhinged, shaky, helpless he was! The area lit in the scene was just the spot where Arthur stood and the rest was framed beautifully with the stairs. There are many scenes in Joker like this, using black, blurs and silouettes while framing arthur in the position with lights. Which gets me to the next part.

How framing can create amazing scenes!

Lighting: There are three types of lights I noticed. The first one is greenish, dark and unsettling, showing the world where Arthur lives in. Another light that sets a grand mood is bright, yellow and around the rich folks (like in Murray’s studio and The theatre Thomas Wayne attends). This difference sets their WOLRDS apart! The third light is what I call the stark truth. The white light setting of the Gotham Asylum where we see Penny Fleck in her younger years and Arthur in the last scene. Surely, the movie has natural light settings. But notice the shadowy spot Arthur is in.

The greenish tint and the dark setting of Arthur’s world.
The bright studio lights Arthur faces away from in Murray Franklin’s Studio.
Thomas Wayne’s bright world.
The shadowy spot Arthur lives in.

Todd has taken every shot with care. He has utilised Joaquin’s extraordinary expressions and conveyed the story. In the beginning, we see Arthur put on his makeup looking dissatisfied and unhappy. He pushes a smile across his face, or rather a grin. He just wants to be happy. Arthur does that to Bruce too in the short visit to Wayne manor. He just wants to make him smile! The delicate feeling of a complex character comes out, but hold on! It’s creepier than you think. The overt smile he gives himself, pushing his cheeks up takes creepy to Joker level!

Arthur is impoverished, ridiculed and unhappy. See that makeup roll down like a tear?
He puts a ‘happy face on’ cutting through the tear-like drop of makeup. Equivalent to hiding his emotions and trying to fit in?
Arthur’s had a bad day. The look on his face, the two light effects, the wet hair and clothes convey the feelings of a man in need for someone to hold onto. The angle Todd has taken here at eye-level shows him as normal man with feelings.

Last but not the least, the story and the screenplay

A story writer is the base of a movie. Screenplay is the cemented ground ready to have a skyscraper built on it. The job was done without a gap! There are no loose ends, no waste word or dialogue. There is no scene that doesn’t connect. One by one, the scenes fit like a puzzle and give you a picture! In the two times I watched the movie, I wasn’t bored at a single scene nor did I feel like forwarding the movie. It is that compact and structured! Take a bow to Todd and Scott!

The more I describe, the less I feel I can convey my feelings for this movie. All I can say is I’m going to make generations after me watch this! Joker is absolutely riveting, chilling and one of the kind that makes you think about it forever. Have a look at the scenes below.

How did you perceive Joker? Let me know in comments!

One of the most powerful scenes where he is himself and happy about it.
Bringing chaos into work…
Insulted, made a joke of on TV… not funny!
The glory amidst the chaos; people notice him! They appreciate him, and that’s his high in the last part.
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Heal in the Night

There is something in the silence of the night. The serenity of the moonlight, that helps to heal. Take the force of nature and regenerate your body, mind and soul.

Progression or Regression?

This is not a math question. This  is a question about you in many, many situations. Look at the picture below. What do you think of the drawing? 

What do you see?

When my friend asked me, I told him my interpretation was that of an artist who started from a simplistic stroke and, with time and practise, mastered the art of a realistic sketch. I’m sure on the other side of Whatsapp he had a good laugh. He told me it was a meme that depicted a project one starts with great interest but at the end becomes detached, mostly related to the corporate world. At the end, he also thought about my perspective and sent an emoji in consent.

This picture didn’t leave my mind. The overactive wheels were set to run. My thought-hamster soon found a third perspective; this meme can also be someone starting a project earnestly, but rushing it in the end. Bad boss? Deadlines? Mismanagement of time? There can be as many reasons as you can think of! 

Regression

In today’s day and time, we often start things we love to do with enthusiasm over the cloud, but we don’t maintain our pace. It may be lack of discipline, work-life balance issues, negative criticism from other people, a mind block, or a simple reason like not getting enough likes on social media (sob sob…). People have lesser and greater issues to not pursue what they start. They don’t sit back, reflect and correct their path. Ultimately, that’s a spiral stairway down a basement for them. Now, they can sit in the corner basement with their head down or go back up and do it again. 

Progression

For the ease of this short article, assume we are referring to ordinary people like yours truly. These ordinary ones who refuse to do down the spiral stairways are either ignorant, resilient, or rigid. An ignorant person would keep on perfecting his art, keep on adding the details, keep on reworking without a vision or aim besides satisfying his own desire. Rigid people, though seeing what’s wrong and knowing they need reforms, will continue stubbornly. This doesn’t lead to any good result. The resilient ones are those who are knocked down by criticism or competition, but get back up with a new strategy. Mostly, it is the resilient ones who refuse to go down and find better ways to achieve an objective. 

Mis-management of time

Do you really, really don’t have time to start workout at home? Or painting on weekends? Or working on your mercurial temper or stress levels? Are you sure you just cannot find the time to be with your loved ones, travel or make your meals once in a while? If no, then you have some serious issues. Let me tell you, the serious issue is YOU unwilling to WORK to make a change. Sleep on it! If you don’t have time to sleep, figure out WHY. Eliminate unnecessary things from life. Stop checking mails on Sunday, maybe (sorry, boss…)!

Why I didn’t assume we are referring to ordinary people in Regression?

Did you see what I did there? I am NOT going to assume the people rolling down the spiral stairways are only ordinary ones, because it can happen to the best of us. It can happen to geniuses, people famed for their charm and charisma, people lauded for their strength. People fall out of fame, they fall down from the epitome of success into regression. However, like us ordinary people, they can refuse to go down and get right back up! 

To conclude…

Apply these three conditions in any circumstance of your life. Where do you stand? Whether it’s work, family or your personal goals, how things go are in your hands. You decide if you want to get up and rise, you decide what to cut and what to grow. Your life is your garden. Prune the shrubs, grow the trees and weed out what you don’t want. Lastly, I can’t emphasise more on taking care of your body as much as your mind and heart.

May the force be with you this summer!

Originally published in: Perspicere, TOI Blogs

Sorry, not sorry!

So it was Holi just a day ago. What fun! Meeting with family and friends, having festive snacks, music, dance, laughter, kids playing around bringing nostalgia for the older ones, Holi parties, colourful faces, colourful clothes, throwing coloured water at each other, throwing Gulal in the air, washing it all off in water… wait. Wait! In water? Swimming pools and tanks, right? 

No. I mean natural water bodies. Let’s not talk about how inhaling these chemicals affect you or how they harm the soil. Let’s talk about people celebrating Holi with coloured water and Gulal near lakes, ponds and other water bodies. These chemicals conveniently labelled as herbal were all over on social media stories, boomerangs, and pictures. Beer bottles in one hand and Gulal in the other, people partying near beautiful water bodies got the most likes! Educated, aware people were dancing on Holi beats and throwing Gulal in the air (which by the Law of Gravity is surely to fall in the waterbody and flow away into frogs and fish and turtles). 

Sorry, not sorry! Bura na mano Holi Hai!

Many Indian festivals like Holi are celebrated globally. The sheer number of people can make a positive or negative impact. We can prevent a lot of harm to our planet by doing things the right way instead of embracing shortcuts. But why don’t we do so?

It was Just One Day!

Maybe for someone it was once in a while, or just once. It was so for thousands of others too! Do we care to think how our lack of sincere effort, even for a day, harms the environment? To think about it, this mess was preventable.

But it was Herbal!

Are you sure it was? Read the components of these mass herbal Gulal and colours. You will be surprised to see many of these labels are misleading you. A genuine herbal gulal is made of cornstarch and food dyes. Just reading the word ‘herbal’ is not enough! Major holi parties see heaps of Gulal placed in the party area, with no information of what kind of Gulal it is. 

Talking about herbal, has anyone tested these for environmental safety? 

What the hell should we do?

Have you read about the original holi colours? Traditional holi is celebrated with pigments from vegetables, leaves, and flowers. The coloured water is prepared by dipping flowers like ‘Tesu’ in water for a day or two. Leaves from trees like neem are used. Chandan and turmeric are used. All of these are good for your health and our environment. In Indian culture, even Rangoli was originally prepared with grains like rice and spices like turmeric as an offering to the insects! They are a vital part of our nature too. Offcourse, if you can’t do this, reading the components of herbal products is a must.

Why write this after Holi? It’s done now.

Before Holi, I thought the options I have presented were a common knowledge and that smartphones have made people environmentally conscious across the world. After seeing many stories with clean water bodies getting polluted with vague herbal (or simply chemical) products, the reality pinched me. Why are we partially-sincere towards making a better future? Why do we throw logic out of the window during celebrations? 

India is a land full of festivals, and in each festival, we can embrace our traditional respect for nature instead of leaving a trail of trash and pollution behind us! Holi may have gone, but festivals like Rangpanchami are on their way. Can we keep our awareness intact and do the right thing? Can we embrace our traditional love and respect for nature? 

If we can do that, I think the butterfly effect will do rest of the good work. 

Originally published in: Perspicere, TOI Blog

And this is love…

Beauty

Beauty is in everything, everywhere. Open your mind and let the world show you! Check out @minutesout on Instagram for themed highlights and stories.

Happy Friday!

O Woman, You Rily Being!

Vivacious and undeterred, ambitious and bold to the fault. Yes, we are rily women!

We are the half of us, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends, business women, working women, housewives, and in every role you can label. With every tag you give us, we grow and come out stronger; even if it is a nasty label! We are the women of today. We are the rily beings.

We, the rily women, the storm-bringers and the typhoon chasers, sing as we stroll through the whirlwinds. Nothing can stop us from reaching where we want to be! We will work it out, one way or the other. Through the thunders and the rains, betrayals and injustice, whatever you put in our way.

We are the caretakers of the world, we can wash the dirt you throw at us. We can wash you out too, like a baby in our arms. Wail and cry, do what you want! We are the pillars you build legacies on. We are, ultimately, the ones shaping them all! We are the rily beings who heal your fears and cast away shadows and tears. You will come back to us after the long day ends, whoever you are.

We are the rily beings who shake things up, who look at the colourful future, who take the long path home to see the sunset on the way, who nature created to make this world a beautiful place!

Imagine, if you stopped throwing stones at us, stopped blocking our paths and darkening our days? What if you accepted our fluid hearts and free souls, strong emotions and feminine grace?
We’d have more time to make the future better, to make the world an even more beautiful place!

We, the rily women, are making the future and building bridges, going places no one thought we would, doing things you thought were crazy for a woman to do. But that is what we have been doing since the beginning of the time; evolution is nothing but feminine! You were just blinded by the curtain of ego, disbelief and pride. But have you not heard, it is love that makes you blind?

Love is a lady, beautiful and sublime, a flower that blossoms even in a winter’s night. Maybe you forget time to time, but it is also for us, for who you make a life!

It is ok, now, for the rily women who chase the storms will bring winds to tear the curtains down. Peek out of the darkness, it’s once again the break of dawn!

We, the rily women, are the winds and the waves; dancing, crashing, and carving our ways! We are the force existing from the start of life, always moving the world and shaping today.

Originally published in: TOI Blogs, Perspicere

Sabotage of the self

I know it was not under my control and I tried everything in my power to make it happen. It didn’t. I know I should accept the reality and move on; I am more than capable of making a better future, but this feeling of disappointment doesn’t go away! It is crushing, it is irreparable. 

And I know I have the power to move on, but I’m unable to let go.

Have you experienced a similar narrative echo in your head? Have you faced a situation where you have given your all for something but you couldn’t get it; a situation you know you can overcome but the feeling of losing despite giving your all is sharp enough to stop you in your tracks? Let this cycle continue long enough and it will be the sabotage of the ‘self’.

When I think about it, self-sabotage is something similar. It is a behaviour that interferes with one’s life goals and happiness. Self-medication, self-injury, comfort eating, procrastination are self-sabotaging activities. We usually have an option to consciously control these behaviours with focus on goals and alignment of habits. Self-sabotaging can be contained with some effort..

What’s more concerning is the sabotage of the ‘self’. We don’t even realise we are doing it to ourselves! It is invisible to us. In some unthinkable or hard situations you aren’t consciously harming yourself but subconsciously, you are. You may not be ‘self-sabotaging’ but you may be sabotaging the ‘self’!

What is Self?

The concept of ‘self’ in Psychology is about how you perceive yourself. It is about how you think you are as a person, how you believe others see you and how you think you fit into the world. Superiority, inferiority, motivation, determination, disbelief, the sense of quitting or braving hardships are some of the results of you thinking about ‘you’ in a particular way. 

Walt Disney had self-belief in the power of his storytelling, Warren Buffet had the self-clarity as a child that he never wanted to be poor in life, and Hitler had the self-perception (or self-deception) that he was meant to purify the world.. 

‘Self’ is a superpower a human can wield, in many ways!

Most of our ‘self’ forms when we are kids, but it changes with circumstances, experiences and introspection. How to turn these experiences, even the worst ones, into something constructive is the challenge. 

Enhancing the ‘Self’

Now that you have come across a hardship, what is your first thought? Is it to run away, find a solution or maybe to do nothing? In any case, there is a sense of fear. How you control that fear or uncertainty depends on how your self-perception has formed you over the years.

Is your self-perception weak in any way? That’s totally ok! Because now you have an opportunity to transform your subconscious and upgrade your internal software. If your perception of ‘self’ is awesome, then just go on, make it better!

Go back right to the first moment you can remember yourself being aware. What happened? What events scared you, made you happy, made you angry, or evoked any strong feeling in your heart? Often, the feelings that scar a person are formed in childhood. You have to embrace what happened as something in past that you could not have changed and move on from it. Forgive people for your peace of mind, make peace with any hard reality. It can seem impossible but the rest of your life can’t be spent in chains! Set yourself free, even if it means seeking an expert’s help. 

Think of all these little and big events of your life up till now. Let go of every disappointment and nightmare. Just like a phoenix rises from its own ashes, rise up and fly!

Read up!

In history, from ancient to contemporary times, you will find brave souls around the world. Read about these men and women, read true events and stories, read about civilisations built to the epitome of glory and destroyed to rot in dust. You will find your sense of ‘self’ transform and even transcend with a shift in your perception of the world. Your knowledge and clarity about ‘self’ will grow. 

Also, you will find people in this world who have had it tougher than you but have lived on true to their ideals. Be inspired by such role models.

Change the Words

Now, this comes from my personal experience as well as a lot of reading from books like ‘As a Man Thinketh’. Let’s rephrase the negative self-talk:

I know it was not under my control and I tried everything in my power to make it happen. It didn’t and I accept it. I know I should accept the reality and move on and so I will move on even if it’s babysteps; I am more than capable of making a better future, but this feeling of disappointment doesn’t go away so I will take it one hour a day!  It is crushing, it is irreparable, but I will rise from ruins and build myself again.

And I know I have the power to move on, but I’m unable to let go, so I will forgive myself for the past and smile at the good memories. Alongside I will make new memories and explore my life for beautiful things I was blind to.

A change in narrative, a twist in tone, one at a time is all it takes. At last, I will leave you with words of Thomas Szasz:

‘The self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates.’

Originally published for: TOI Blogs, Perspicere

Choices That We Make…

I changed my city in seven days.

In last four years, I had accomplished what I had wanted since childhood; moving to Mumbai and getting a job in the media industry. I had moved from a small place, where perhaps no one thought I will ever step outside to make a career, and I did what I wanted to! Yet, I decided to pack up, leave my dream city and move to Delhi, all in a week. 

I had an opportunity at hand, one that will give me time for myself and what I wanted to do beyond a job.

True, being in the city I had always wanted to make a life in was amazing and will be unforgettable, but sometimes our own expectations from life become too heavy to carry. I could never manage time or energy while working in Mumbai. The endless hours I could have spent doing what I loved the most were crushed between the local-station crowd. The never-ending traffic jams ended the energy levels for sure. Commuting to and fro was a task! Weekends were spent in recovering from the week’s hectic schedule and with hardly any creativity. The pressure of expenses and, most of all, being powerless in changing circumstances was an indisputable reality-check. Switching jobs had not made much difference in life. So, when I got an opportunity to move in a new role, a new life, I said yes to the HR at the other end of my phone and agreed to start in a week! In five days, I was packed and ready to move, setting aside all the thoughts about missing my friends, my beloved Mumbai and the pure freedom I found in the salty sea breeze. On the seventh day, I landed in Delhi.

I did not give this a deep thought for many weeks, afraid of what I will feel or conclude, but two months down the line I did. It was a tough choice. I was numb for weeks, unable to absorb the new surroundings, a new culture. But here I was with all this time in my hand! I was taking care of myself like never before! My eating habits, sleep pattern, happiness and energy levels had all improved. I was reading and I was writing again, unlike I was able to in almost half a decade! I didn’t have the constant body aches from carrying my laptop bag for too long or headaches from being stuck in noisy traffic jams for hours. I had time to think about my life and reflect. Of course, I miss Mumbai and my friends there. But I also found wonderful new friends here. I’ve discovered myself more, expanded my horizons and, hey, who doesn’t love the North Indian food?!

Sometimes, in life, choices are hard to make when it comes to shifting your base or changing your job. What will happen? Will I be able to do this? Will I adjust? Many such ‘will I’ questions come to our mind. More whys, if onlys, hows and whens pop up, literally clogging your brain and draining your spirit. In such a situation, think of what is the most important thing to you and which choice will give you that. What is the core of your present problems or the one thing that will direct you to the path you want to walk? All factors around it that won’t solve the core intention is useless. Such scattered factors will not pivot you. Think of your core intention like the needle of a compass. You want to draw a circle, you need to stay on the pivot. 

Ask yourself today, what is the core of your problem? What catalyst your ambition needs? Or simply, what do you really want? Often, most decisions are simple to make because the clarity of intentions make choices evident. I needed to have a better lifestyle that could give me more time to my own self. Once that was clear, I was on the flight to a new life. Now, my office is five minutes away. Compared to the ninety minutes previously, I seemed to have stumbled upon a treasure chest! 

‘Choices are the hinges of destiny.’ says Edwin Markham and truly so! Decide today for a better tomorrow.

Originally published at: TOI Blogs, Perspicere

The Lady at CST Station

Sometimes, strangers teach you lessons you never thought you could learn.

It was 2015, somewhere in July. I was in the second year of my post-grad, coming back to Mumbai after a short stay at home. The placement season was fast approaching; I was as excited as I was apprehensive. I had travelled a few times via train, but had rarely ended up at CST station. One or two times when I did, I had taken a cab back to my hostel thirty-three kilometres away. That day, I was on a budget. The thought of hauling my luggage up and down the local stations made me sigh.

I found myself a seat in the lower berth and bought a watery cup of tea. I was in a sleeper coach. On a budget. With a huge suitcase. Grumpy. An elderly lady sat across me, frantically checking her watch. She was in a lavender, cotton burkha with floral embroidery. Heavy glasses dug into the bridge of her tiny nose. She saw my crabby face and looked away. I was happy to be left alone.

‘The train is late by an hour.’ She announced, suddenly, looking at me. 

‘Yes…’ I nodded, sipping the tea.

Ye train aisi hi hai… (This train is like this).’ She said and began talking about train timings. The more she spoke, the grumpier I became. Why couldn’t she leave me alone in my grumpy world?

‘Are you married, beta?’ She asked, flaring up my irritation. 

‘No, I’m studying.’ I told her respectfully, trying to bottle my feelings.

‘Where? What are you studying?

‘MBA in marketing.’

‘Oh, my son did MBA, now he’s working in Dubai…’ She went on to describe her son and his high paying job. Irritation turned to exasperation! My own anxiety about landing a good job was now at play.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Mansi…’ I told her, instinctively knowing what she would ask next.

‘Your surname?’

‘Babbar. Punjabi.’

‘Ohh..’ She nodded. 

She asked about my family. I gave her vague monosyllables.This sharing of information was going too far! I faked about my hometown, my father’s work and even my brother’s name! I was scared and I don’t know why. She wanted to give me her son’s number to ask him about opportunities in Dubai. I politely refused. Then, another passenger joined in on the topic ‘job scenario in India vs Dubai’. I didn’t agree with anything they said but I kept shut, thanking God her attention was diverted. The train was about to arrive. I was ready to hop down minutes in advance.

‘You know where the local platform is?’ She asked. I said yes. Honestly, I didn’t. I was going to ask around. CST is a huge station with some eighteen platforms and connecting bridges!

‘Where are you going?’

‘Panvel.’ I faked again. I was stopping at Nerul, many stops before Panvel. 

‘Come with me. I’m going to Cotton Green.’ 

Cotton Green is a few stations from CST on the Harbour Line that connects Panvel. I said nothing. When the train stopped, I got down hastily to lose her in the crowd. 

I asked many people about the Harbour Line. They said I’d have to take a bridge but I couldn’t figure out which!

‘Don’t take the bridge. We can walk this way.’ The lady had caught on in minutes.

A part of me felt insecure but another part was willing to be shown the way! She walked briskly for a lady her age, looking back at me every minute as she led me towards the platform a kilometre away. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t lose her. When we reached the main station area I was familiar with, I felt relived. If she hadn’t shown me the way, I would’ve been miserably lost. We stood for a minute so I could catch my breath. She asked me to get something to eat, volunteering to look after my luggage. I was hungry and I was guilty for doubting her. As I went on to get a sandwich, I decided not to look back and check my luggage. Maybe, my guilt would subside? The stubby lady was standing in the same spot beside my suitcase when I returned. We continued towards the platform. 

‘This coach won’t be crowded.’ She led me to the right spot at the platform and into the right coach. We sat across each other again. I opened the sandwich and offered her a half.

‘It’s ok, I’ll reach home in fifteen minutes. You have a long journey.’ My heart melted.

Why did she care for a prick of a youngster? She must’ve sensed my guard against her, and yet, she had helped. Five minutes later, she was standing in a line to get down at her station. I wondered how to say thanks. The station came. Suddenly, it got crowded. If you’ve ever been in a morning Mumbai Local, you’d know it is impossible to shout ‘thanks’ and be heard! She disappeared in a wave of people. I looked out of the window, my mind swirling with thoughts. I regretted not thanking her. 

In the next two years, I took locals frequently from Cotton Green and CST while working, and every time I’d remember her. A feeling of regret still stumbles across me.

Today, I want to urge you to think. Why don’t we say ‘thank you’ to everyone who helps us? So many strangers support us in minuscule ways. It can be a friendly cab-driver who made your journey peaceful or a stranger who guided you towards your destination. Maybe someone who simply smiled at you. Are we thankful enough for all the little good things that happen to us? Our lives can be more fulfilled if we appreciate little acts of kindness.

I’m writing this article on the 70th Republic Day of India. Gratitude not only makes a good person, but also a great country! Let us thank everyone who’s making India better and everyone who had made India!

Originally published in: TOI Column, Perspicere

Pulwama

Could the Pulwama attack have been prevented from happening?

I believe yes. It could have been prevented; it was a massacre waiting to happen. One day or the other, we knew an attack of this scale was a possible scenario. There were attacks on our men before, and the number of such attacks had increased by 176% in the past five years. Where is the lag? We could have woken up before. We could have prevented this and can do so in future.

But posting on social media won’t do the trick. Neither will raising civilian funds or, sorry to say, doing candle marches.

These are good for showcasing India’s stand against the dastardly attacks, but not enough to prevent them. Civilians and celebrities can only do so much by raising funds and shouting slogans. After all, we are not on the enemy lines and we have no clue about the battle-ground reality.

As a common person, in layman terms, I have seen J&K burning since I could comprehend news. I was a kid when the Kargil war happened, but I could sense the gravity. It is history, religion, greed, myopia all rolled into one making it what it is today. It is the inability of the state as well as the Central government to collaborate, moulding the situation layer by layer through the years with dirt. Our highly intelligent and trained men stand no chance if the top-down approach is meek. It is also the lack of initiative by a part of local citizenry aka the stone-pelters.

Law enforcement

We know about the situation in J&K and we know about the stone-pelters, militants hiding in the wild and even in cities. What have we done? Where are the laws enforcing strict punishments on these people? Do they even fear the government? Why not? I can’t comment on how, but I know for a fact that the government has the power to make this happen.

The Pulwama suicide bomber’s father claims he didn’t know what his son was involved in it. If the government gave protection to people who report their own family and friends, will it help? It will if laws are enforced not only on the terrorists but also on the immediate family members who fail to report before the militant is discovered.

No, the discrimination and civilian problems will not reduce with strict law-enforcement against militants, but the civilians taking law in their own hands will reduce in numbers. The hate crimes against innocent families may see a downfall.

Technology

Explosives can be made from fertilisers and other household chemicals is a common knowledge. We know they can’t be detected most of the time. But what about the cameras, checkpoints, road infrastructure and armour buses for our soldiers?

If you look at the scene in Pulwama, there are no divisions separating the roads from open grounds on the side. Cameras and constant vigilance on the routes taken by our soldiers as well the citizens is a crucial point. I’m sure the intelligent men in our system know this, but why isn’t this done?

We have organisations like Isro doing space missions, we have spent on Vande Bharat train, we have metro projects going on for a decade in major cities and all the money to spend on bullet train projects. We have a separate defence budget. Is this too hard?

Taking it easy

The best part about the civilian protests is that our government cannot continue with the easy approach towards Pakistan. I’m NOT calling for a war, nor do I have the mastery to comment on the defence strategy of India, but am I the only one who thinks we have been too easy with our violent neighbour? What was done a day later after the attacks could have been done before.

The whole world knows Jaish-e-Mohammed is hiding in Pakistan with government protection, like Osama had. The latter was crushed by the US but what about the former? The Jaish-e-Mohammed is also linked to the 2001 Parliament attacks. It has been only like 18 years now, right? Maybe after the silver jubilee we will crack them down.

On this note, we haven’t been successful in getting Lashkar-e-Taiba either who not only carried out the 2001 Parliament attack but also the 2008 Mumbai attack, and who are allegedly operating from Pakistan.

A note to the celebrities

Some of the celebrities have been very kind by raising funds and shouldering responsibilities for the families of our martyrs of Pulwama attack.

But what about the other families whose sons, fathers, brothers and husbands embraced martyrdom in not-so-big attacks? What about those who died fighting various other terrorists and militants?

I feel there is huge gap again in how we see things. Partial empathy or social pressure? Whatever it is, if you are taking the responsibility, take it fully. You cannot group these brave families based on the scale of events! Even one casualty is a casualty. A single martyr is no less a martyr.

This is true for civilian crowdfunding activities too.

What now?

The coming days are a test for not only India’s leadership, but also the citizens. We need to keep the ‘Josh High’ and the ‘Hosh’ grounded. A collective decision based on a united collaboration is called for. To do what needs to be done will not be easy, but it is necessary. Our soldiers know it the best and we are forever in their debt. India hopes that the government will not disappoint the bravehearts who embraced martyrdom or the courageous men who will do so in a heartbeat. The world is watching us and history is being made.

I wish for a better history to be made.

Originally published in: TOI Blogs, Perspicere

Credits: NDTV

To Baby or Not to Baby

Would you sue your parents for giving you birth?

Raphael Samuel, a young man from Mumbai did. He says he was made to be born into our chaotic world of despair, all without his consent. He feels giving birth to a new person is selfish, unjust and an act of coercion. There’s no need for another life to be born into suffering when it could’ve avoided the pain by never coming into being. He is, what you call, an anti-natalist. This is a part of contemporary philosophy that says bringing a new life on Earth is cruel. Parents are responsible for the pain a ‘new life’ endures even as the right to well-being is basic. You maybe be glad you are alive now, but if you were given a chance, maybe you wouldn’t want to be born.

As an individual, he definitely has the right to follow his beliefs. I, however, feel anti-natalism is a flawed logic.

Read my full article in TOI Column ‘Perspicere’ here.

Or click on the link here: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/perspicere/to-baby-or-not-to-baby/

Credits: Andrew Stelone


Life is Good, Good is Bittersweet!

Ever tasted a good marmalade? The smooth texture of this savoury covering the harder shreds of orange peel melts on your tongue with many flavours! Sweet, slightly salty, sour and, yes, bitter. Every time you help yourself to some more, you discover how it tastes just a bit different from before. Maybe its the wheat bread you used this time or how you didn’t pile a dollop on because you are on a diet (in my case, because the bottle would finish sooner than I’d like)? Marmalade is amazing, really, and so is life! The only difference is, we don’t pay much attention to it. Not as much as life deserves…

Hi there! Curious to read the rest? Read it in my weekly column Perpicere for TOI Blogs HERE!

Alternatively, click https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/perspicere/life-is-good-good-is-bittersweet/


Someone Like You

You, who were the sunlight of my life in the darkest times,

Giving me warmth from the bright twinkles in your eyes and your hearty smiles!

You, who’s embrace melted my walled core and fears,

You, even someone like you has weaker sides.

You reminded me that the Sun sets and it’s night even after the brightest summer morning,

You reminded me that memories of such melting comforts can be crushing.

You, someone like you, can make and break,

And be someone else’s sun from the next day.

Forget yesterday, forget the summer’s sweet days!

You, someone like you is a boon and a curse,

Flipping someone like me between fire and ice,

You, someone like you is the one I thank and wish to forget in a single prayer,

Some haunting that makes me smile, some bliss that gives me a scare…

You, someone like you, I’m blessed to have met but will never want to meet again,

It’s someone like you that makes a fool wise,

Someone like you I pray I find and keep this time,

As my own Sun without any nights…

And someone like you, you know, will never find,

The Moon’s calming silver light to liven up your soul,

For there’s only one Moon that brings tides!

So, someone like you may be the centre of another’s universe,

But someone like you will never me mine.

Someone like me will revel in the soothing silvery nights,

Hoping for a Sun that always gives the Moon it’s light,

No eclipse,

Only the moon Playing with the sea and forests and all that’s wild,

Spreading a beautiful silver after the moonrise.

Vanara: Not Just a Love Story!

What first comes to mind when I say Indian Mythology? Ramanayana? Mahabharata? Not Baali, I bet. Definitely not Tara!
Vanara: The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara is a modern day perspective of Indian Mythology written by Anand Neelakantan, with a twist of course! The writer of the famous Bahubali series and Asura has done it once again! He has dived into the less explored story of Bali and Sugreeva, the Vanara brothers, and Tara, one of the Panchkanyas. When seen from his perspective, a completely new view comes into picture. Was it really how it is in Ramanaya? 
The story begins with the Vanara brothers as slaves in an Ashram. One incidence involving, Indra and Ahalya, changes the course of their lives as they have to run into the jungles to save their lives and set on a new path. There, they meet their tribe of Vana Naras and fall in love with the same woman, Tara. This sure is one of  the world’s earliest love triangles! Baali’s dream is to build the free city of Kishkinda for Vana Naras, where everyone is equal and all are welcome. That’s not to say there are no hurdles! The path is paved with thorns, made worse by his own brother’s follies. The way things unfold in the novel revolving around these three characters gives you a roller coaster ride, racing not only your heart but also your mind! What have we been blindly believing from our childhood? Was Baali really at fault for exiling Sugreeva? Why did Hanuman help Sugreeva? More so, why did Rama kill Baali? Who decides what is right and what is wrong? How can one act as judge based of subjective beliefs?! 

This book is a mind opener. It takes you through a movie in your mind!

(PS: There is actually a movie coming soon on this,soon!)

Possible spoilers ahead!

Caste and Superstition

From the time immemorial, it seems man has always made boundaries and classes. Till it served just purposes, it was right. The stone man divided themselves based on the everyday work and so does the modern man, but the justification has become too complex to argue against or control. Looking at how even in Threta Yug there was mass discrimination and wars based on religion and jatis, it seems things haven’t changed much. The great jattayu was some God’s messenger or just a huge bird? Is it ok to treat people of different race or colour with negative bias? The incidents in the book where the two brothers face humiliation due to their different way of life is even heart-wrenching. It’s still prevalent in the world and that’s even more disappointing. 

Why Is It ALWAYS Women?

Tara is the victim of Sugreeva’s one-sided love, or shall we call it lust? Even though she’s devoted to Baali and marries him, even though she’s wise and bold, why can’t she seek Baali’s help to stop the abuse? One part is because Baali may not believe her, the second is what if he does share her? Third, somewhere deep down, she’s ashamed of her own thoughts that betrayed her love. Buck up, women! It happens. You should know to promptly address such issues. A stitch at the time saves nine! 

But does it? 

Even today, women are victimised, abused and doubted based on the dress they wear, the way they talk and anything that touches their existence (figuratively and literally). How can women address sensitive issues when they cannot truly confide in the man they love? How can they confide in their darlings if those darlings are insensitive to their feelings? If they are made such by the society? I’m not saying Baali in the story was insensitive; he is one to disregard Agnipariksha and choses to trust tara, though weeding out the envy of his brother was not exactly his priority. Hell, he even lets his brother mess up his marriage!

How Much is Too Much?

So how much is too much? Too much of envy, lies, disrespect, lust, love, integrity, rivalry… how much of oneself is too much? Baali’s integrity made him a hero but also got him murdered, almost destroyed his marriage. Sugreeva’s one sided love made him a coward. Ruma’s hatred made her poisonous. Rama’s  off-the-charts dedication to Dharma made him kill Baali from behind a tree. We can also say Soorpnakha’s thirst for revenge sparked the whole episode of Sita being kidnapped and Rama going to battle. Or was it Lakshaman’s uncontrollable anger that made him defile Soorpnakha and started the cycle of revenge? Who is to judge? 

(Why does this remind me of Naruto? Hatred goes in cycles, true, Kishimoto Sensei!)

Husband and Wife

They say every successful man has a woman behind him. Baali did too. Only, he didn’t listen to her often. A relationship between a husband and a wife should be that of friends first and then life partners. This is what I learn from this story! Tara could confide in Hanuman and ask of favours from Nala, but not Baali. History would be different if she could speak to Baali in the similar way!

Feel-good lines and Gyan 

When Baali is dying, it is said in some versions of Ramayana, that he asks Rama what is his crime? He is told that a younger brother is like a son and must be forgiven. He must have forgiven him, whatever his crimes.

Are you kidding me? After what he did, he should be forgiven? He was allowed to live, wasn’t that enough? Is not a younger brother liable to hold some responsibility?

It is also said that when Baali is dying, Rama says that in the next birth cycle, Baali will get to kill him to avenge his wrongful murder. 

Really? What if there’s no next life? 

Gyan is good only to a level. It may practically not apply.

Kalyug

The novel depicts how the era changes, how people change, and how complicated they become. The code of conducts, suffocating rules, blindfolds of religion and greed start running the world after Baali’s death. The sense of integrity and importance of valour, partnership and equality are disappearing. That’s the dawn of Kayug. This makes me question; wasn’t Ramaraj considered the Golden Era of Bharat? Ramaraj started after Baali’s death, so how does this fit? kalyug seemed to have started then itself. Ironical.

So, is everything we know really how it happened? Can there be other facts? Perspectives? Reasons? Truths? I believe, many!

Some practical take aways I suggest we should all imbibe from this novel:

Listen to your wives. Confide in your men.

Fundamentals of person’s make-up never changes. Sugreeva cheated in their teenage match and he did it again. Several times! And not just with Baali.

Watch your drinks! 

Learn to tame your ego/ pride. 

Punish people the second or third time itself. Don’t wait for an arrow to glaze you.

Don’t keep a full-time nanny. Angad would have been more of Tara’s son if she hadn’t let Ruma take care of him so much. 

Any desire that exceeds limits is dangerous to oneself and to the society.

Read more and get more perspective! Yes, open your mind to a hundred more possibilities!

After reading this book, I can only say how shocked, surprised and astounded I was at the number of questions that swarmed in my head and the emotions that stormed my heart. Give it a read and share in comments how you felt about Vanara: The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara!

Can you guess what historical figure I’m going to read about next? I’ll give you a cue; he was from Mongolia!


Light and Dark

Too bright a sky makes you shield your eyes and too dark a night makes you seek light. All extremes are important in life! The key to happiness in all these extremes, I believe, is balance.

Light and Dark

Rikshawala

I have been thinking a lot about cycle rikshawalas since coming to Delhi. They take a lot of pain to earn a meagre amount, all the while breathing in the Delhi smog deep in their lungs all day! Today, looking at a man easily 45 plus who was standing outside my office hoping to get a rider, I felt pity. I hesitated. Is it even fair to make a mid-aged man haul me? It was 9 already. The nights are cold here and it gets very dark around my office. I chose to let him haul me out of the insecurity arising as I stood in the shadowy road alone.

He did his best. On the upward slope of the road, before I could consider getting down for him, he got down as pulled the rickshaw with his arms. Downwards on the road he rode like a young boy enjoying the cold breeze on his face.

That’s when it hit me. Why should I pity anyone for a job they chose to pick? He may not have a lot of options, but of the few he did, he chose to own a cycle rickshaw.

Age doesn’t matter to him, why should I be so arrogant as to pity him? One thing I have learnt is to never pity a person for doing a job that helps in survival or , for us, seems unthinkable. I have been taught this all my life and I feel it’s important; always respect people who earn fair and square, whether through the sweat on their brows or the thoughts in their head!

Rise in the Fall

Even in its fall, a flower fulfills its purpose of spreading beauty. What deters you to stop being who you are? Be what are meant to be. 

Image may contain: plant, flower and nature
Image: MinutesOut

Happy Friendship Day!

‘I am glad you are with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam’ – Frodo

It is that day of the year again when we wish each other, now more on social media than face to face! Friendship bands, greeting cards, promises and social posts… we celebrate this day in anyway we can! 

Does it make you reflect on your life? What do you think about friendship, going back into your school days and till today? I can bet there must be a plethora of stories, experiences, hugs, laughter and tears… no, I’m not going to harp on about feelings and past.

I want to share with yousome examples of friendship I find so endearing that I wish to experience it. Yes, there are so many different ways we can be friends with others, so many different kinds of people we can be friends with! I will share some examples you might want to replicate in your life.

  1. The Kid and Charlie Chaplin

The Kid is one of the most famous movies Charlie has ever made. Though the relationship between the kid and Charlie is more of an adopted son and his father, I see a beautiful connection called FRIENDSHIP here. 

Image: Wikipedia

There is more than a relationship between these two tramps; there is an element of humanity. There is mutual love & support in times of need and a commitment to one another. 

Charlie takes care of the abandoned infant and in return, once the newborn becomes a boy, he never leaves Charlie’s side. 

It is the direst of times you can find the dearest of friends! Isn’t that what friendship is all about? About having one’s back through good times and bad?

2. Harry and Dumbledore

Then there are some bonds that transcend others; of a student and a teacher, a mentor and the mentored, of Harry and Dumbledore! What J.K. Rowling gave us through her famous series is so beautiful when you feel the relations portrayed between the characters.

Whether it is the bond between Harry, Ron & Hermione or between Snape and Lily, we see the power of love in her stories. For that matter, in Cuckoo’s Calling, the relationship between Detective Cormoran Strike and his temporary secretary Robin Ellacot showcases this intricate relation so gracefully!

Coming back to Harry & his headmaster, it is a rare bond. Dumbledore was a mentor, a parent and a savior for Harry, who carried out Albus’s purpose along with his own (you really need to read this series if you haven’t already!).

3. Sakura and Tomoyo

Ahh… this brings back memories!! Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my favourite anime till date, and I won’t exaggerate if I say I wanted to be Sakura so that I can have a friend like Tomoyo!

image
Image: ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com

They cooked together, ate together, went to the same class, went to shopping in cute dresses together, and knew each other so well… then they supported each other in the times of need. Tomoyo kept Sakura’s secret, and Sakura protected Tomoyo. Friends like that are hard to find!

You will find more examples in this series!

4. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet

Friendship exists not only between different kinds of people, but also between people who are different! Now, who can be more different between a hi-tech billionaire and a billionaire investor who doesn’t use a computer?

buffett gates buds
Image: businessinsider.in

No, it is not just the billionaire tag, it is more than that between these two. What I appreciate is that these are two men on the epitome of success, fundamentally different from one another, and still share a bond! It is a famous story that when Warren Buffet was going to meet Bill Gates, he thought it would be a boring exercise, but this one meeting gave him a BFF! Though Buffet may never invest in hi-tech business, the duo hangs out together and do what they can as geniuses do. You can be completely different from the other person and still be great friends if the intellectual frequency matches!

5. The Famous Five

What wouldn’t I give to have a childhood like these five literary kids! Enid Blyton has given us a world most of us could only wish for; the one filled with adventures and bonds for life!

Image: wikipedia.com

 

The friendship Julian, Anne, Dick, Georgina and Timmy (their pet) share is an ideal one. They go through thick and thin, solving mystery after mystery, as they accept each other as individuals.

The best part about this series is how they meet over holidays and find adventures! Now, who wouldn’t want to quech their curiosities about smugglers and criminals on islands, farms and old houses?!

The twenty-one books in the series are not bestsellers for nothing; they showcase human bonds like no other. These stories show how friends encourage you, how they protect you, and how they bring meaning in life! And hey, holidays are pure boring without them.

6. Jon Snow and Sam Tarly

I cannot resist adding this Game of Thrones example. Jon and Sam! They started off from the lowest ranks in the Watch. Sam fought for Jon and Jon fought for Sam. Now, they are reaching the top.

Related image
Image: favim.com

 

The biggest reason why their bromance is special is because they recognize each other’s specialties. Sam knows that Jon is an ideal commander and Jon knows that Sam has the intellect to change the world! He sends Sam off to do what he can best do; find a way to end their common enemy! Miles apart, they are still supporting each other and their mutual trust is commendable.

Thank you, George R.R Martin!

This picture draws another parallel and I highly agree with. 

These are my six picks of this year. There are hundreds of example in real, reel and literary world for friendship, and I have chosen the ones I feel are different than others.

Did you see my Friendship Day post from before? Read it here for an extra dose of happiness! 

Also, check out the following links for more articles on friends:

Famous Literary Friendships

Lesser Known Historical Friendships

How was your Friendship Day? What do you think about my picks? Do let me know in the comments! 

 

Daughters

Little dolls going on a stroll,
Mamma has no hold on them;
Once they learn to dress and talk.
Daughters of eve,
Once they are out to seek,
Find their way to Pandora’s box…

Today’s Book Launch at Crossword

Crossword store launched an all  new store in Bhopal just hours ago and there were some big announcements with it! Author Anand Neelakantan launched his latest book ‘Rise of Kali: Duryodhana’s Mahabharata’ and he made an amazing announcement.

Let the drums roll… 

He will soon be launching a three-book series  for Bahubali! 

There!  

He will launch a three book series about  how Kattappa became as he is and many more secrets will be revealed. The author’s friend Mr. Nagrajan added  a twist there: 

WHAT IF HE DIDN’T  KILL BAHUBALI?!!!!

AHHH!! It feels like Sherlock Holmes’ The Abominable Bride all over. Because  now I’m  thinking… what if he ain’t  dead 😅 I need a mind palace now, ta!

Besides all of these amazing launches and teasers, I attended my very 1st book launch today! Here are some moments from the launch.

The launch  👏👏😀

Mr. Neel kannan is amazingly patient and charming.  He dealt with an over excited aspiring writer (meeeee) like a gentleman he is! I have a pic with him now yayyy!

He signed for my dad too 😃

The book…

I had an awesome experience 😁 There were some yummy cupcakes,  puffs and coffee too, I should mention. Pind Baluchi took good care of our taste buds. 

Thanks a lot all of you involved  with the event!! 

Have you attended any book launches? Leave your experience in comments!

Eating Out Alone? You are not Alone!

Don’t you feel sad for someone who’s eating all alone in a canteen or a restaurant?  It’s so boring to eat all alone. I used to feel the same for people sitting alone in school and ccollege during lunch. But after  I started working, even I had to come across times when I have to sit alone in McDonald’s and chew on a burger in a corner. 

That’s when I realised- it’s not that bad! 

There are so many reasons why people have to eat out alone. They may be artists who want peace in a cafe, or a person tired of the days work wanting  to relax. Maybe, someone just wants to sit alone with their own thoughts for a while (or a sales executive who is damned to travel all day😅).  People are away from their families and friends now a days and in large numbers. They are working hard to suceed in life! I think it should be a sign of strength that someone is able enjoy his or her own company. 

I don’t feel sad anymore for these people. Why not think positively and pass them a smile? 

Having coffee alone is always relaxing! And I have made some good friends with total strangers at McDonald’s !

Pizza all alone, all for me! It has its own golden feeling to it.

Tea, while enroute Bhopal via bus. I was with a total stranger,  who turned out tto be my grad college senior ! 

Sometimes, you gotta. ..

When it is tea time,  you are not on a sales call (wow!),  and no one’s there in office… just  enjoy the view!

Last but  not the least, I have discovered the best places while eating out alone. For example,  Jamie’s Pizzeria in Palladium Mall, Mumbai. I LOVE it! the coffee was exquisite too!

How often have you eaten alone? I hope you enjoy your self-time, everytime!

Quote from a random conversation!

This one is from my friend Srimathi who we lovingly call Srimi. A bittersweet line to end the day! 

#TextCutie 

What’s Your Angle?

Everyone has a perspective of their own. Our culture, family, schooling, and many other factors shape us as we grow. Most of the disagreements, misunderstandings and confrontation exists due to the different ways people see the world. 

Can we try understanding them from their point of view?  That would bring a lot of peace in our lives! 

Transforming Rust – Part 2

So it not just Andheri, guys!! It’s also Lower Parel!! I just walked past these beautiful paintings.  Whoever has done these, thank you so much! These many colours and concepts make my day fun. 

I love all of them. The ‘City That Never Sleeps’ now has more enthusiasts and I’m liking it!

Transforming Rust

Andheri local station, like most others, has walls, pillars and bridges looking like the governmental Infrastructure it is. DULL! Full of patches and peels given to it by the weather. Yesterday offered me a new vision, though. I saw these students from Rajhans School painting on a peeling wall with rusted metal corners. What a spectacle our daily travel can be if we could infuse more art around us!

Just Google ‘wall paintings of Bhopal’. You will see how art transforms the scenery. I will do an article on it the next time I’m in my home town.

Keep the artist in you energised!

Quitting? ?

Sometimes, I do lose hope. I feel like quitting and I am on the verge of quitting. After all, it’s smart to quit when you know things won’t be right! But then I remind myself;  I can’t quit just yet. Maybe, things will go up hill. Maybe, I  should wait just a little longer. Maybe… my dreams will come true in the next step! Have I given all that I could?

Daddy’s Little Phoenix

She had waited and waited, watching the sun go in circles around the earth. It was an accident. A truck had crashed into his car because the truck-driver was speeding. The next day a slurry of relatives had poured in, showing sympathy and sadness. They put a garland on her father’s framed photographed in the hall and an incense stick in front of it. What went on for the next fifteen days was a blur. All she could see was her father’s slim figure, pushing his specs back on his nose as he carried a book everywhere. All she could hear was his singing voice with which he taught at St. Mary’s High School. All she could feel was the stagnant time. Nothing was moving forward. It was only when a certain person from a bank showed up that she broke out of her trance…

Read the full story on Wattpad HERE! I would appreciate your effort!  🙂

When Things Go Your Way

​One day, you will know you are on the right path. You will feel the tremors of future and smell the adventure. That’s when you should close your eyes and let the universe guide your soul. I’m not say saying you should stop seeing!   I’m simply asking you to always be one with the divinity or the God, whatever you want to call the energy of creation, so that you KNOW. 

Once you focus your energy into your work and thoughts, without fears or negativity, you will get ahead. Fears are a state of mind. Do not let go of the intuitive feedback of your mind. Do not ignore your inner voice. 

Even if things are not in place right now at this moment, trust your self andischarge work for it. It will happen. 

MBA Problems #2

A class representative has to listen to teachers and students with contrasting views and caters to all. Even to those who don’t speak, because they start speaking later. Attendance? Marks? Timetable? They do it all! They are tested in every fire.

Solution: Eat well. You will need the energy to hurry all around the college and do endless excel work. You have to have a thick  skin (you eventually  develop that) God save you!

MBA problems #1

The person who takes initiative gets more than he asked for; both the duties and the criticism.

My experienced solution: Do not falter, my management  buddy, laugh at the criticism and smile through the hardworking.  People  will soon envy you and try to compete, but you’ll have the first-doer’s  advantage!

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A Spontaneous Thought

Never mind who, where and when. Get out there and live your present without discrimination.  Without  judgements. Time will tick and move ahead. Little things of past won’t really matter;  in fact, you will forget so many moments!
But if you leave opportunities  of enjoying life and sharing moments,  you may regret it later. Make memories and live 😃

Identifying You

Have you noticed how much your surroundings influence  you? That one news article that changes your perspective,  that one person whose words you make your own, that one incident you think defines you… We are somehow or another becoming like the art below; whats outside defines what is inside. We let this happen to us.

Its a vicious  cycle we take too lightly. For when we let things outside shape us, we lose our identities. Bit by bit. A piece at a time.

It is the fortune of great people who can think for themselves, form their own views.  Like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Einstein. But can we not cultivate that trait, even if for small things?

Reflect! What did you personally think about that one person or that one news article before other people or a screen changed your mind? Have you considered all sides of a story, all facts and thought about it? Don’t let a screen tell you what to think! Don’t let someone, anyone, invade your space of mind.

You and only you have the right to your views. Think. Understand. Weigh the different sides. Only then decide. You should be the first one to identify you!

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Same inside as outside

Bollywood Booming!

Do read my article ‘Bollywood Booming‘ on Creator.co ! Here!

“The past one year has seen a big leap in both technical and artistic qualities in the Bollywood movies. And I’m excited!” 

 

Another love quote

“A dangerous possession that leaves you haunted when exorcised… Love.”

– Mansi

broken-heart

Image: tinybuddha.com

For Friendship Day…

Friends are like pieces of soul. Put together, you become YOU!

Friends laugh together.

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Friends do the crazy stuff together!

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Friends get into troubles together!

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Friends know you so well they know what to do when you are shapeless!

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Friends remind you of who you are, wake you up!

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They protect you,

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They fight with you too sometimes!

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But in the end they stand with you,

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They give you new reason for living.

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And they don’t do if for themselves!

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They stay with YOU!

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After all ups and downs, you end up partying together and laughing!

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Just reminiscing about the old times, laughing…

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Because friends are a gift of God.

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I wish you find true friends who do it all for you! Who remind you of your purpose and stay with you forever.
Happy friendship day!

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Deep in conversation

Today I saw these women deep in conversation, at Nerul local train station, while skillfully beading the flowers to make gajras.

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Gajra is an adornment Indian women use for hair. They give a beautiful fragrance that I love! It was a peaceful and joyous moment between the ladies, and I enjoyed the moment too.

I wonder what was the boy thinking!

Mirror Falls and The Silver Maiden

Do you knows what goes on in the night, in the deep dark wild?
Somewhere in the jungle, a branch broke, on a scared little child,
Running from a leopard and a tiger and a demon’s howl.
With nothing but a stone in his hand, and a prayer in his heart,
He was holding his breath, running behind the trees from a bears growl,

There he heard a stream flow, saw the moonlight dance on a flowing surface,
In the wolf’s hour, a great escape!

Holding his stone tight and pushing back in his heart,
He jumped into the water of the Mirror Falls.
Below the surface was nothing but cold,
And on the riverbed a dark patch of mold.

He looked back up at the moon and saw,
A woman with silver hair; he was awed.
Was she an angel or just a human, her sight was one to behold.
Tired of all the beasts and cold.
The moon fell on her skin and reflected a golden warmth,
He smiled underwater, unclasping the stone, well under her charm.
He shut his eyes, for a time that felt infinite,
Opened them again and this time there was no one, but memory of a dream indefinite.

He was inside a room with four walls and a warm bed,
‘I wish I could see you in my dream again’ he said.
‘Always pulling me out of the dark, shaking my demons away,
We stay soulmates, my love, and we will stay this way’.

Quotes from Oscar Wilde to Make Your Day

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.

There is no such thing as a moral or an  immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That’s all.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.

(Selected works of Oscar Wilde, SB International)

Selfie WIth Daughters: Just a Public Display?

Twitter is buzzing with #SelfieWithDaughters pics. For most of you who have been following this campaign, you already understand why this hashtag has become a part of all the buzz. PM Narendra Modi announced the campaign during his show ‘Mann ki Baat’, hoping to spread love and respect for ‘daughters’. Why? Because India is a contrasting country. There are people who respect women, and then there are those who don’t. The  Nirbhaya rape case brought a ‘spring’ of protests against violence, disrespect and inequality thrown at women.

The root of all this, as any one may observe, is the wrong upbringing of boys and girls. Some wrong notions, prejudices and  misinformed decisions lead to women feeling week and boys becoming ignorant- even violent towards women. Thus, the importance of the campaign!

Let me repeat, there are some people who respect women, and some who don’t. The people with wrong notions and prejudices don’t.  PM Modi’s campaign is a baby step towards the right direction; giving the beautiful father-daughter relation focus on the world stage. This is a campaign that saw millions of Indians showing the world that most of us are not rapists, or violent people. We, too, have healthy family relationships.

This campaign not only touches the dads and daughters, but also mothers, uncles, brothers, and everyone else who can log in to a social networking site. Watching so many pictures of fathers and daughters embeds an image that daughters are precious! In the back of their minds, all the boys and men, even those who don’t have their own daughters will realize something. It may be just a bud, but it will be a start of a new thought process; creation of a  new social image! It is the society we learn from. A child will learn to respect others and himself/herself in a respectful society. After all, it is not just for saying that a child is the reflection of his/her parents; it is a fact!

‘Selfie with daughter’ is a campaign for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save daughters, educate Daughters). It is focused at spreading love and respect for daughters; and to stop sex selective abortion. One may argue how this spreads awareness in villages without cell phones. I ask these people;

Is it only the villagers who don’t respect their daughters? Are the criminals only from villages? If you put the population of the urban and suburban area, you will get around half the population of India. They have cell phones and internet. They use Facebook and Instagram, if not twitter. Do you people, who say this campaign is not creating the awareness it needs to, really think that the so called ‘better’ half of the population is not a reason for disrespect towards women?

I feel sad watching people criticize a campaign with good intentions. I also regret that some supporters have consorted to foul language while trolling the non-supporters on twitter and other sites. Even some respectable celebrities have been abusive. Whether for personal reasons or just to catch attention, no one is eligible to try and insult something/ someone doing the greater good.

Kavita Krishnan goes to the ridiculous extent of calling the Visionary Modi a stalker. Kavita, doesn’t this remark reflects your own attitude? I think this is quite an accusation, especially with the position you hold. As a women’s rights activist, you are meant to support women. Girls are women. Daughters ,too, are!

Instead of abusing, DO something good yourself!

On the other side, however, many millions have welcomed this campaign and contributed to it. These supporters are not just Indians! People from around the world are loving this campaign. Support of this magnitude leaves me happy at last.

India needs critics for sure, but not abusers. We don’t need people who just talk about changing things while sitting on couches. We don’t need people coming in limelight because they abuse. We need people with a wide view. We need people who can walk the talk. We need people who speak constructively. We need those who embrace CHANGE!

For all the contrasts in our country, we still make a beautiful land with vibrant people! Let’s take the initiative of creating a better society without blaming or abusing others.

Lastly, don’t forget to post your #SelfieWithDaughters! Let’s make this a good day in history 🙂

Why I love Raj Kapoor’s movies

I keep on changing TV channels to catch one movie that I can watch. Usually, there’s NOTHING I can watch! There are not many movies today one can enjoy if they watch it a second time. That’s why I love Raj Kapoor movies. Though there were and are many other great directors whose movies I simply love watching again and again, RK’s movies leave more of an impact. Everytime I watch them, I discover a new side to his perspective, or discover what I couldn’t before! I feel ‘cinema’ oozing out of every second of his films. Each time, his movies seem fresh out of the factory, even his black and white movies!

Raj Kapoor was a fascinating man. He converted the simple things of life into things of beauty. Even today, when I see his movies, I can’t change the channel. And this is the 21st century! Maybe, it is because this is the 21st century that I can’t. My heart that craves for some substance and art in movies finds more satisfaction in the ones from gone eras!  RK’s movies have substance, art, and meaning in each shot and line. If you have seen his movies, you will understand!

Prem Rog

This article comes while I watch Prem Rog with my mom, for the nth time! RK’s love for cinema and his inclination to deliver social messages is clear in this classic. When other contemporaries where releasing movies with action and glamour, he made a movie on widow remarriage. And beautifully did he make it! The script of this movie is something today’s scriptwriters and directors must learn from (I think they already do, though). Watching this movie brings all kinds of emotions related to life, love, tragedy, friendship, family, society and religion. Cosmopolitan listed Prem Rog in the top ten ‘Most Romantic Films Ever’ .Given the prominence of his name throughout India (as well as out of India) this movie did give the message that widow remarriage is not  crime, but the way  widows are treated in many parts of India is.

My favourite point about this movie: ‘Bhawre ne khilaya phool’ song was shot in a beautiful tulip fields in Amsterdam! How I wish to visit that field in my lifetime…

Bobby

I can’t imagine that among people aged 20 and beyond in India have not seen this teen romance (I really feel sorry for younger people who can’t get out of their smart-phones and gadgets, including my own brother, who haven’t). Bobby set a new era in Bollywood when Dimple strutted in bikini (it was 1973). And boy did she rock! I really miss the innocent love that The Showman of India introduced in his movies, especially in Bobby. Everything from the ideation to execution was perfect. Trust me, I can’t lie in this matter because jhoot bole kaua kate! The music is in sync. the dialogues and the direction… perfect, perfect, perfect! Why should you see this movie if you haven’t? To see romance from the perspective of RK! It will take you to a different world!

The blockbuster was the top grossing film of ’73. It won many nominations and awards in Filmfare. Indiatimes names it as the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.

My favourite point: Rishi Kapoor’s performance and the MUSIC! I still catch my dad singing ‘Mein shayar toh nahi ‘ for my mom, hehe!

Awara

In this movie, Raj Kapoor goes on to show that a child is influenced by his surroundings. A judge’s son won’t necessarily become a judge. Also, this movie shows what a stunning couple RK and Nargis were on screen! RK shows his super skills both as an actor and director in this movie revolving around his character as a ‘tramp’ (Influenced but Charlie Chaplin in ‘The Tramp’) and a childhood sweetheart. RK’s real dad was also his reel dad in the movie, and that is a great factor. Prithiviraj Kapoor was an actor in a whole different league! Role of a proud judge suited him as much as being Akbar in Mughal-e-azam did. The movie also portrayed some real life problems and carried a message, like all his movies do. Watch and discover what it was!

Awara is listed in the All Time 100 Greatest Movies by TIME Magazine and entered Cannes Festival. The movie got many more titles and a remake in Turkey called ‘Avare’.

My favourite point: The chemistry between Nargis and Raj!

Teesri Kasam

Ah! The pangs of love! More so, if it remains unrequitted. The third resolution that the rustic villager played by RK takes is to never give lift to a dance performer in his bullock cart ever again! Watch the movie for ‘why’! The movie shows how naive villagers can be, and how simple their lives are. Watching this lifestyle is like watching a whole different world. In a very beautiful way and natural setting, RK smoothly blends story with music and a message; the message of how woman working as performers in ‘nautanki’ are exploited. I think he wanted to show a much larger picture of performing arts industry and the society as whole.

Today, we talk about women empowerment, equality and gender bias. Raj Kapoor talked about it decades ago through his movies. He was not only an artist, but also a philosopher. In an era where male dominance was at its peak in India, he talked about the opposite gender’s issues!

Teesri kasam won the 14th National Film Award.

My favourite point: The natural acting of the cast and the music!

Mera Naam Joker

At last! My favourite RK movie. I know, I hate sad endings. I hate unrequited love type endings. I hate tragedies. I hate good men not getting the happiness they deserve. All the things I hate are there in Mera Naam Joker. Still, I LOVE this movie! The tragic life of Raju is so beautifully presented, that I can watch it through my tears as many times as I watch it. The fact that he still smiles in the end breaks my heart, but i still watch the movie. It is Indian cinema at its best! It truly is a masterpiece, though a sad one, and tells so much about Raj Kapoor. His love for cinema was unconditional! Mera Naam Joker has all the phases of one’s life. Right from chilhood and first love to the nearing end of life, Raju faces it all in this movie.

Mera naam joker was not accepted by the audience immediately. It was commercially unsucessful, but because it was beyond a normal understanding level. It did however win many awards, including the Filmfare Award for the Best Director. RK put six years into the making of this epic.

My favourite point: The story, direction, acting, music, dialogues… EVERYTHING! My favourite song is ‘Ae bhai, zara dekh ke chalo’. That song is applicable to us too, and to every generation that will come!

Though I love many more movies from RK, these are my absolute favourite. Check Shree 420, Barsat, Boot Polish and many other movies from The Showman of India!

Have you seen a Raj Kapoor movie? What did you like about it? I would love to know in the comments! Thanks for visiting us!

A Worthy Rival

When you can’t find a worthy rival, look at yourself. Is anyone as difficult as you for you to overcome?

My Journey, A Little Different From Other

I walk the William Wordsworth lane,

And listen closely to The Ancient Mariners chant,

Carmen Fantasy plays in my mind,

Beethoven also can.

I learn from the strangers and animals and nature,

And also from One Piece,

When I stargaze at the twinkling skies,

Stories from mysterious spaces come to me!

I walk a little further, exploring every time,

And the Pursuit of Happyness  continues,

For I believe life has a gift,

For everyone in the time that is due.

Spirits of The Dark Alley : The City of Opposites

http://w.tt/1mUrNL2

I’m going to write stories for wattpad and share them here too ! MinutesOut is expanding 😀 Do read and comment. Give Likes if you really like my stories 😉 Happy reading!

On This Indian Independence Day, a Simple Thought…

As the schools and colleges prepare for Independence Day celebrations and the Red Fort is decorated for our new PM’s speech, there are people who are so not interested in these things. There are students who think of this day as nothing but a mere holiday. What’s the big deal, they think, just chill! There are working people with the same line of thinking, and some people even find it irksome that the shops have to be closed for The Independence Day.
What’s the celebration all about? It’s just another 15th of another month! And anyways, what has India accomplished in the past 67 years besides being highly rated in corruption and standing 2nd in population?

Well, for people thinking along these lines, I want to say something.

We may not have the best bureaucracy in the world, but it’s not the worse either. We may have Pakistan firing on us unprovoked, but we do not our army murdering people because of their religion. We do have as many millionaires like in America, but we are not a debt ridden country either! We do not stand tall like China as the fastest emerging super power, but we do not have manufacturing industries creating mass cancer victims either! We may not have enough oil, but we have enough peace to bask in the glory of freedom!

Our government is improving. Our people are becoming aware and contributing. We have a large population, a young population, that will push us further up in near future! We have a strong culture, more families knit together by love and traditions, an evolving work culture, and an expanding pool of educated people!

We are a nation built on sacrifices of millions of people. Their ideas, ideals, and wishes for future have been absorbed throughout India. Even after many conflicts, we remain one and will remain so for eternity! That is the magic in our nation. We are a democracy that respects all cultures and evolves with time.

We should definitely think about the dozens of problems we are facing, but just for today, let us all stand tall with pride.

So, puff your chest out and keep your head up! We are a nation built by warriors, leaders, teachers, thinkers, kings, queens, brilliant men, and strong women! They deserve to be remembered and respected. The celebrations are held to celebrate their lives, and to remind us of their will.

Ramrajya, Sone ki Chidiya, Bharat…. Let’s make sure our nation regains the prosperity from the golden era, when these words were used to describe us! Let’s celebrate today with enthusiasm, hope, and pride.

Jai Hind!

http://m.ibnlive.com/news/india-celebrates-independence-day-68-significant-events-in-the-last-67-years/492214-3.html

Infrastructure vs The Basic Structure: How The Big and The Small Things are Connected?

     In the latest joint-parliamentary meeting, the Hon. President of India clearly stated the blueprint of the new government. It is a laudable to-do list! They have covered the much needed points, especially about the Infrastructure, corruption, and black money.  Infrastructure is an indispensable part of an economy, and India is leagues behind from its contemporary rivals China, Brazil, Taiwan, and South Africa. Corruption is the grass-root level of decay in India, so yes, it has to be weeded out of the system. Black money again is a big problem. It must be brought back in circulation and steps should be strictly taken against it in future. There are many more big problems like brain drain, illegal immigration, a moldy education system, messy town planning ( I think it should be a whole different department), environmental degradation, e-governance, etc.

     But what about the small problems? What about the problems that we see every day and have grown so used to that we have learned to live with them? What about the problems that have direct effect on our peace of mind? Let me jot down examples to remind you.

     If you are in Mumbai, you know about how dirty the railway terminals are. You would know about the nallas, the slums, Juhu beach loaded with filth, to point out a few. These are supposed to be grand and sparkling as they are in the Financial Capital and Bollywood centre of India, where thousands of people gather every day, including tourists. What does it do to our thought process? No amount hit movies or tall buildings can fix this image.

     Delhi- ites know what a black and white city Delhi is, with clean and neat metros and roads in contrast with jammed and crammed, stinking market places and localities. The old and the New Delhi are two different worlds. So are CP and areas like Kamla market. What does it makes people who see the mess everyday think? No number of metro rails or even bullet trains can reduce this difference.

     Bhopal, my very own city, could be an international favorite only if the town plan wasn’t messy, if BRTS was introduced AFTER widening the roads (possible only and only with a good town planning!), if the areas around the lakes, dams and heritage sites could be built in a modern standard and saved from encroachment, if only people didn’t throw garbage wherever they wanted… No amount of building malls will correct the tainted scenery.

     You begin to think- this mess is the reality, and that’s how it’s going to be. Deal with it, or migrate to a foreign land.

     TO ALL INDIANS. You know how many throw garbage out of the train. Simply because there is no dustbin in the coach. Why can’t we complain, or collect the mess in a bag and keep it in a corner?

     You know how many spit and dirty public places even if there are dustbins.

     You know how you ignore complaining to the authorities when public toilets, places are not clean. That’s because the authorities don’t care, I agree.

     But can this cycle of ignorance and blame game continue? It’s like a wheel in zero gravity; spinning without moving forward, eternally in one place.

     The development in Infrastructure, manufacturing industry, and in every other sector will mean NOTHING if the walls are covered in pan spit and garbage, and if the toilets stink. Can you imagine entering a world-class railway terminal with stained walls and garbage all around, with no proper services? Zero corruption level will not help if people don’t wake up and realize that clean and beautiful cities are their RIGHT and they should demand it. Visuals have a deep affect on a human’s psychology. What you see is what you believe in. You see garbage, you believe that that is the reality. Ignorance settles in, but subconsciously you want out. This leads to unsatisfied and frustrated citizens. No amount of increase in GDP and PPP will satisfy these frustrated masses. If they don’t see the development, how will they believe in it?

               So what can Policy- makers do?

     With a new enthusiasm and energy, they can set a special department or team for reaching the roots of this mess. It starts from the higher ups in bureaucracy. Give them targets, give them incentives, give them strict instructions to keep a check. TRAIN them as per the modern needs and international standards. As you go lower, give the workers, cleaners and other people doing odd jobs training and equipment. Make their work respectable!Good administration and effective communication is very important here. What happens is, that people with seemingly insignificant jobs like cleaning, sitting on counters, making rounds to check on others, labour jobs, etc. are not educated, trained, informed, or equipped. Even if they know what to do, no one checks if they are doing their jobs right (For an example, the general and sleeper coaches in a train is a mess. Let’s not even bring up the toilets!) As people already have no expectations, there is no strict action. The cycle thus again goes to the higher ups.

     I propose that at least half the jobs regarding administration, implementation and grievances/ complaints should be given to management students. The lack of training and proper standards for government jobs recruitment at railways, ticket counters, public hospitals, various registration centers should be corrected. Proper checks must be ensured, and their performance measured. Complaints should be quickly handled.

     Cleanliness, government and citizen communication, quick solutions to the problem are the basic structure of growth besides trade and economy. The newer cities should be planned with future in prospects in mind to avoid repetitions of  the present problems. These are the little services that make a ‘beautiful’ economy. The policy makers should introduce reforms and policies, to make what already exists, better!

             What should citizens do?

     AWAKE!! Realize that the higher standards of life can be reached for the rich and the poor alike if public areas are clean and beautiful! It is your right! The standard of living rises with better hygiene, more happiness, and communication with a government that responds and helps. A beautiful house can give you peace only until you stay in. But once you step out to work or just for a stroll, it depends on your surroundings to either frustrate or invigorate. Promote environment friendly culture, use bicycles whenever possible, stop treating your cities and towns like garbage cans or washbasins or toilets, be an active citizen! If every person keeps his area of the town clean, if every municipality does its work like it should be, the day isn’t far when we will ‘feel’ India becoming a superpower instead of just reading about it in newspapers. Society is another name for tolerance, patience, and unity combined. It can either strive to move forward or starve and die.

     I am going to start an awareness revolution by questioning the authorities and telling them about what I see wrong. I will take advantage of the newly formed government’s energy, and help them it in reaching the bigger goals through small steps. It won’t matter if I’m in Bhopal or outside.  I will do my part. Will you?

College Interviews and Lucky Charms

College Interviews and Lucky Charms

I have been preparing to get into a good MBA college for quite some time now, and the high time has come! I have GD and PI calls lined up. It’s at times like these that the tension is at its max. Have i studied enough? Will i make it? Am I even good enough?  Please the God of Luck, smile upon me!! A few months back, I attended a seminar for the prestigious Welinkars College, and I got a pen…

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College Interviews and Lucky Charms

I have been preparing to get into a good MBA college for quite some time now, and the high time has come! I have GD and PI calls lined up. It’s at times like these that the tension is at its max. Have i studied enough? Will i make it? Am I even good enough?  Please the God of Luck, smile upon me!! A few months back, I attended a seminar for the prestigious Welinkars College, and I got a pen there. A beautiful blue pen with the name WELINGKARS printed on it. Its always such a beautiful sight… whenever I use that pen I feel energized and all riled up to go!It’s because I so want to get into a good MBA college, especially Welingkars!! This pen has become kind of a lucky charm to me somehow. I carry it everywhere like a superstitious maniac (Makes me remember that Park Avenue deo ad, literally, 😡 ) . I plan to keep it with me on the day of my final test in Welingkars and even after I graduate from there ( this pen lets me dream on)!

But today, alas, the luck charm seems to be getting jinxed… A faculty in my work place, famous for a difficult personality, took it without my permission. Now, I have asked her once to return it and am praying for the lady to give my charm back without hassle! (I feel i can go to depths of searching her desk area!) Its strange asking for a pen… but i have to!

I’m going to share a short timeline of this strange yet noteworthy incident.

12th may,

1 pm

How strange it is! I feel so afraid of losing the pen. I’m scared she won’t return it! I’m angry she took it in the first place! Its frustrating. I ask her once to return it in a wimper like voice. She nods but looks away. Curse you!

1.18 pm

This is excruciating. She has the guts to say she cant find it with a despicable smile on! I feel like crying. How can my lucky charm be stolen like this? Unfair. I am going to be persistent and get it back, I swear. Come what may! (She is kind of influential, so messing with her may mean a lecture from boss or even the end of my job….)

1.30

Together with a friend, I tried to sneak inside the lady’s bag. Yes. We tried, but in vain. In the end, mom’s moral lessons from childhood came into the active mode. Its bad manners to sneak into people’s stuff… You win, mom!

My friend consoled me for about ten minutes and I took my cabin seat, still unwavering from my resolve, waiting for a chance.

1.45

The lady comes out of her office and prepares to leave.

“Mam, would you please give my pen back? Its my lucky, lucky charm’ I say loudly. May 5-6 people heard. Embarrassing for her.

This time, she finds it at once. Yes, she’s angry and pissed off. She smiles as if I have hurt her badly. I show her the name of of college printed on the pen, hoping for her to understand . I’m not a stingy person, just a little superstitious due to my desperation to get through the GD PI! Can it get through her iron skull? She had misinterpreted my words once before and created quite a scene. Thats just a few days back too. Please, not again! I don’t give a damn, but its awkward to be fighting a lady my mom’s age…

3.34

Its really funny and surprising how I panicked. In most other circumstances, I don’t bother to even remember if a pen is missing! However, after everything that happened today, I realize that deep inside a person always has insecurities and a rebellion instinct.  Even when you grow up and start working. These feelings intensify when you are being pushed to an edge, and without realizing, you start believing in things like charms and luck. If anyone tries to take that last sliver of hope, you fight back instinctively. I won’t deny the existence of magic in this world; it is my way to keep my calm when in trouble. And if anyone tries to take it away, then goodluck to them with their days of darkness (btoom).

 

 

 

 

An April’s Fool

I joined a job as an administrator in a coaching institute. The very first day of my very first job began with vigor and eagerness to learn. Managing people, managing records, the secret files and financial know-how… I wanted to attain it all as quickly as I could have. It has been 12 days now. Today is the thirteenth day of my job, and all I have done is to create excel sheets and make  calls. Is it under-utilization of the human resources that this place already lacks? Is it just bad luck that there are no big companies in my city?

For God’s sake, I just received a call from a weird student who hung up without listening to my whole response!

I have been pondering over my restlessness, reflecting on myself. A girl like myself who has good communication skills, technical qualifications, a degree in Business Administration, and is eager to stride to the top of life is stuck with calls and excel sheets? Today, I finally came to terms with myself.

Recently, having a ton of free time at the office, I’ve been reading articles and e-news a lot. There are so many people out there doing so many ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Some actually do extraordinary things. There are people going from rags to riches, and rising on the top as I write. One thing common between them all is;

THEY DON’T HAVE A CRAPPY JOB! Or more precisely, NO JOB IS CRAPPY FOR THEM!

Warren Buffett has sold chewing gums and papers. Walt Disney struggled as a cartoonist in the beginning. Jamshetji Tata was a simple trader before having towns named after him! Jackie Chan was just an extra when he started. J.k Rowling was rejected by dozens of publishers! According to many of us, we are too qualified for our jobs. What is there to learn? But these big bosses had their own set of mind. They had dreams. They were determined to do what they wanted to in life. Failures and criticisms were just the ways of improvement for them.  In times of desperation, they focused on their dreams and stayed calm, never ceasing to think about the next step!

They loved what they did. They decided what they loved.  While I conceitedly complain how overqualified I am for my job, there are people consistently working towards achieving their goals. Many of these might have a supposedly crappy job to earn a living while they plan their moves! Job satisfaction is crucial to a persons happiness, but I discovered that having a clear view of what you want is the key to job satisfaction! Its a chain reaction!

Now, all I have to do is keep my eyes on the future I want to create (I want to be published, have my own production houses and hotel chains, seriously), and learn. I must decide what I want and earn it. Its not just me, but also a whole lot of people like me who need to realize how life makes an April’s fool out of you. Though born in April, I shouldn’t fall into the rat-trap and become one!

So, my dear reader, lets get wise this April’s Fool Day! Große Träume! *

 

*dream big

TAIYO

 

Bloodstone

ch1

   A siren screamed loudly across Block Number 7. It meant that the sun had set. People across the block rushed to close the little shops they worked in, ready to run back home. The streets were soon deserted. Neon boards outside the small shops, in buildings as high as  fifty floors, threw a diffused light around them. Still, the streets below were dark as coal. The sky glowed slightly in matte red, as it did all day and night. Even the street lights died an inch beyond the road. Red, dusty atmosphere left only a slight glimmer in a desolate sky.

Taiyo, a young boy of sixteen, held the walls for support as he walked on the empty streets. He was heaving, craving for a lungful of oxygen. His body was covered in red dust; his denim jacket and jeans, his hair, every part of his skin…. All was layered in red dust. Taiyo stopped for a moment, taking a long breath, and began to walk again. He had to reach somewhere, before he died of the poisonous air he was breathing heavily in.

A big car racing  came out of nowhere on the road and screeched to a stop five meters from  . He turned to look right. The road was hardly visible with all the dust and so little light, but he managed to figure out what was going on. Four men came out with a woman in their grasp. The woman was struggling to escape. She tried to shake herself away and run, but the men had clasped her mouth and arms. For a second, Taiyo decided to continue his journey and not care about anything else. The dust was overwhelmingly heavy and dry. But his feet couldn’t let him step forward. There was someone who needed his help! He had to pull away from the support of his wall and gather his remaining strength. So, Taiyo plunged into the glowing atmosphere of the road and jumped on one of the guys with all the force he could manage to put. One of them fell head first on the road.

‘Hey!!’ a large man with a mask on his face shouted at the boy and swung his heavy arm at him. Taiyo dodged and went straight for the mask. It flew off his face. the large man panicked and began to run away into the car. Two other men pulled out some kind of electric rods. Roaring in their masks they went straight for the boy. Even in his weak and almost blind state, Taiyo managed to dodge them.

‘Get the boy you fat asses!’ the fourth man shouted. The woman in her grasp took the moment of distraction in her favour, and threw the man on the floor with one tricky stunt. The other two men, hearing the groan of their companion, got more aggressive and struck Taiyo with their weapon. Taiyo had no air in his lungs to scream, so he fell speechlessly on the dirty road, gasping harder for breath and losing consciousness. He could barely see how the woman took the men one by one, how a nerdy guy came to her with extra masks, or how they hauled him into a vehicle. Then he was in a comma. Everything was black and silent, as if he was in vacuum of a black hole…

Time had lapsed in the darkness. It was all black.

Something was cold and breathable in his nose. Taiyo could feel his lungs inflate as he inhaled- for the first time in his life!

Is this… air? Oxygen? Or am I dead?

 

A strange feeling of dizziness filled his brain, as if his gray matter had become thicker.

‘Boy… open your eyes if you are awake… have some water.’ A woman’s voice fell on his ears, firm but concerned. Taiyo blinked. What he saw next was shocking… there was white light everywhere. His eyes began to pain and water.

‘Oh! My bad… you are not used to all these lights, living in that dark street, right?’ The woman switched off a few lights and turned back to him, ‘better?’

‘Yes…’ yet again, Taiyo was surprised to hear his voice come out so clearly. There was no dust in his throat or nose. He did not sound husky! With his head spinning, he opened his eyes wider and sat up. Muscles in his stomach, where the man had poked him hard and electrocuted him, was tearing in pain. A stab might have been less painful, he thought.

‘What you did back there was brave… and stupid. I am a soldier and I was on a get-caught-to-catch-them mission there. Anyways I captured those Dumpers…’ the woman said as he handed him a glass of water. Taiyo stared into the glass. It was clear, pure water. No dust, no colour, and just transparent like it should be. He drank all of it in a go.

‘Thank you… for this. I was very thirsty.’ He said, looking around.

‘Its fine, boy, drink up! What is your name? You belong here?’

‘I’m Taiyo… I came from the Northern state. And you are?’

‘Call me Ivy… agent Ivy.  I am actually not permitted to share any info in my head.’ Ivy smiled. Her large brown eyes hid a thousand secrets. ‘So what brings you on empty streets without a mask, Taiyo? You are not allowed to leave your area after the siren rings.’

‘I have no area…’ he said and went quite, staring somewhere in the white sheet on him.

‘I see. . . You’re orphan too like the most of us… My parents died, working in the E-9 nuclear plant. the radioactive dust got them. . . that was twenty years ago …’

‘Thats… I’m sorry…’

‘me too… What happened to yours…? Taiyo…?’

‘Well, my mom and little sister were killed when our area was destroyed for a power unit. Dad went to fight a case against those people in the capital city, but never returned… it’s been four years.’ He went silent, clutching the sheets tightly.

Agent ivy stared at him; there was awe in her eyes and sadness too.

‘The world is going crazy… all that nuclear and nanotech units… but Taiyo, you came so far into the Eastern state here. Where do you plan to go? I mean… you can’t be searching for your dad now?’

‘Nope… I have no reason to believe he is alive. I’ve heard how Dumpers kill any rebels. So I am fulfilling his last wish.’ He looked up at Agent Ivy with a slight smile, ‘He wanted me to see the Sun as it really looks in the morning. He wanted me to know if it really is like the Bloodstone or not, and he wanted me to live a good life in the place where there is no poison. My father wished fo me to live long.’

‘Oh… and so he named you Taiyo. That means sun! But, sweetie,’ Agent Ivy smirked, ‘Do you even know where that poison-free area is? Very few people have seen it…’

‘My grandfather did. He told my father its up somewhere in the Himalayas. I will search the whole mountain range if I have to!’ his eyes sparked.

‘Ooh the spirit you have! I swear if you were my age, I would date you…’ Agent Ivy sparked a wide smile, making him blush a little, ‘Anyway you look real handsome with all that dirt gone…’

Taiyo touched his face. There was no dirt on him. His hair felt clean and soft!

‘Who treated me? I’m sure I was dying of poisoning…’

‘My partner-

‘Ivy! There’s a small fighter plane on our chase!’ A tall, lean man came rushing into the small room, ‘I put the RV on autopilot but… oh! The boy is finally awake!’

‘Here’s Agent Matrix… interesting name right? He  cleaned your lungs, stomach, face, hair, pretty much all of you; I guess your hands and clothes too. Queer…’

‘Oh…’ Taiyo noticed that his clothes were clean and neat, ‘Thanks matrix! I owe you a ton…’

‘No problem pal, and I’m not queer, Ivy.’ he raised a bro,’ Now, we’ve got a jet on our head!’

The vehicle vibrated as a missile from the jet hit the road just beside it.

‘Matrix you drive! I will handle the guns.’ Agevy stood up. She pulled a mask hanging from the RV ceiling and put it on her face. Taiyo stood up too, ignoring his stomach wound, put on a mask and followed her.

‘You stay down, this is not your type of work.’ She said, pulled out a staircase from the roof, and climbed up. There was a heavy machine gun with long magazines of bullets on the top. Ivy put a shield up in front of her, and her killing machine was ready to fire. The jet was wriggling behind her and firing missiles, one by one. Ivy was having a hard time aiming at it. Matrix had to drive zigzag to avoid the shots. The jet flyer was a superb pilot; he avoided all of her shots. Then, after failing to shoot the missiles at them, the pilot switched to the gun too. Bullets rained on the shield protecting Ivy. She kept on firing.

‘Crap!’ Ivy got hit on her arm by a bullet. She fell back on the stairs.

‘Hey! You must get back down!’ Taiyo shouted from his mask.

‘He would kill us if I don’t get him! I can, I just need some time-

‘Get away!’ Taiyo pushed back her and got behind the shield.

‘Taiyo! You jerk!’ Ivy raged, half angry and half worried for the young boy, ‘I thought you wanted to live!!’

‘And I will!’ he shouted back at her, firmly.

In a few seconds, her frown and anger melted away. Taiyo wasn’t carelessly shooting at the jet and wasting bullets. He was aiming like a pro and firing at the right time.

Once I get to know his pattern of flying, I can aim! He took a deep, refreshing breath like never before, and held it as he aimed. The moment the jet and the gun’s point coincided, he fired. The jet fell into the valley beside the road they drove on.

‘Wow… would you like to join the team, Taiyo? We need shooters like you!’ Agent Ivy was staggered by his ability.

‘Not really… I have a mountain range to search…’ he held her good arm and slowly led her down. She now lay where Taiyo had been lying. Matrix put the RV on auto mode again and dressed her wound.

‘Good the bullet didn’t enter. It’s was radioactive. I have to remove some blood and some cells here-’

‘Just do it M, don’t speak…’ she scowled at him and grumbled. Taiyo had to muffle his laughter, watching Matrix’s sad puppy face.

‘Well, this calls for some good food!’ Ivy announced after sometime, and threw a sharp look at Matrix. He turned on his heels quietly and went to get dinner.

After five hours of more driving and talking, Matrix stopped the RV somewhere in a hilly place.

‘From here we have to turn south,’ said Matrix, ‘You have to travel northwards to reach Himalayas.’ He had a sad smile on him. Matrix had made a new friend after years!

‘Yeah… our ways part here. I really wish I could meet you guys again, but your identities, numbers, e-mails are all a secret! Seems I have no choice…’ he shook hands with Matrix and Ivy, and bid them goodbye. He jumped down the RV and began to walk.

‘Oh all right, wait Taiyo…’ Ivy said aloud and sighed, ‘I can’t let you go like this.’ She threw a small cell-phone like remote at him.

‘What’s this?’ he asked, ‘Looks like…what!!’

‘Yeah yeah… that’s my car remote… take it will you?’ she rolled her eyes, thinking why she was doing it, ‘I don’t use it much anyways…’

Surprised, Taiyo pressed a red key on the remote screen, and a car came out from the back of RV. It turned  and stopped right beside Taiyo. A small car, but it had enough space for him to spread the seat and sleep on.

‘I like shiny black cars…’ Taiyo nodded appreciating the beautiful design of it.

‘It’s a one day drive to North-east from here… the poison free zone…’ Agent Ivy said, making him jerk his head up, ‘The car has enough battery for two days. The location is on its screen inside, you can follow it.’

‘You’ve been there, haven’t you?’ he asked her. Something inside his heart felt warm and eased. It was as if all his troubles were over.

‘We grew there…’ Matrix spoke, ‘She’s my childhood friend. You’d ask why we left that place at all…’

‘Yeah! Why did you!’ Taiyo was flustered with the news.

‘Because we want the whole world to be green like it was before all these Techno units took over…’ Ivy said gravely, ‘The ones we fought yesterday were men of some industrialists. They were Dumpers, or people who kill anyone who rebels against the units they put. Some big companies seek only profit, their own profit. The red dust all around us was never supposed to be, it’s all because of these people… some of us are on a mission to end it.’

Taiyo was speechless for some time. He never thought there might be people holding better thoughts than earning money.

‘Well, now I want to join you guys…’ He began to walk back to them.

‘No, you go on, you’re not eighteen!’ Ivy grinned at him brightly, ‘even with those skills you have, a kid can’t join our team.’

‘So I can come back in two years…’ Taiyo smiled.

‘Yeah, that-’ Matrix pointed at the car, ‘Has Ivy’s contact via secure line. Keep mailing us.’

‘Oh, and send pictures of the sun and the mountains, will you? The thing has a cam too.’

‘Yeah, anything you want!’ Taiyo had never felt so strongly for people before, but these two were exceptions. They were not merely humans with flowing blood, but with a beating heart too.

‘Then off you go! We must get going to.’

‘Sure Ivy… will keep in touch!’

‘One more thing Taiyo, the sun is not like Bloodstone.’

‘Then what it is like?’ he always wanted to know that, and now his curiosity burnt hotter.

‘It’s more beautiful than any gem you’d ever see. I can’t explain… you take care of yourself.’ Ivy said gently, almost like a big sister.

‘I… I would… so long!’ Taiyo saw the RV disappear far into south, his eyes burning in tears. It was not the dust this time. He blinked them away and quickly went inside the car.

‘Location…’ He said and a screen appeared. There it was in a little red dot on the map of Himalayan range… The Free Zone, Code 1. He touched the dot and the screen said ‘location locked’. The engine started and he took off north-east.