Friday, February 29, 2008

Celebrating the Spirit of D16: Utsav '08

When I joined VESIT, I used to wonder, if it was where I wanted to be. The feelings were only intensified because of what I felt about the class I belonged too, rather didn’t belong too. I was just there because of my chosen field of preference but wasn't particularly fond of my class.

I was Cultural In-charge during Utsav 2005 and to make a frank confession, it was sheer disappointment. Not many came forth for the cause of the class and there were barely a few blue dots (for participation) in the standings table at the end of the day, so winning was only a far-fetched thought. I was disheartened.

Four years have gone by and luckily for me thing have changed and we all have brought down the barriers which separated one group from the other. Of course their have been many catalysts for bonding- sharing assignments, people realizing the futility of labs and involving themselves in more round table conferences, the joint stand on postponing test dates, movie outings past exams, consoling/applauding each other after results, the Lonavala trip, the grueling pre-viva discussion and the elaborate buffets in the breaks.

Around 2 months ago, somewhere in the vacation, Krupa(our current CI) and I were having a discussion on how the last semester could be made special. I told her Utsav 2008, that’s our last chance to work and win together as a class. I didn’t know my class will live up to this ‘work and win’ objective so well.
The Beginning

The last two weeks or so have been extremely hectic. First was the mammoth task of generating impetus in class, which surprisingly didn’t seem to be so difficult this time. More than 30 people agreed to contribute in someway or the other, which was far more than what we were expecting.
Second, the job of distributing people into the various rehearsal based events. Luckily for us, there were not many all-rounders (barring a few, and you know who) so the task seemed to present a solution in itself.

Third came starting with the preparations, mainly on the dance front and the street play front. When I say we didn’t have many all-rounders, we didn’t have many specialists either. It was perhaps the first time for a lot of people who did what they did, so practice was imperative.

I wasn’t a part of the group dance team as such, so will not be able to give you real insights (may be one of those who were there would want to chip in here). All I know was that we spent a lot of time in trying to finalize the songs and it was only till around 2-3 days before the actual event that the tracks were decided upon. Of course there were ego clashes, but the team over came them tremendously well. The best part was how while the theme of the dance just struck us, while running through the short-listed tracks – that of who the actual don of Mumbai is?

Our Power Electronics lectures were always a great time to nurture our creative talents, where a lot of ideas for the street play were conceived. The story for the street play was born there. After the dialogues were made in one mega-cheesy-line thinking session by the creative team of Diksha, Unni, Nakul, Krupa, Aalok and yours truly, we along with some help from the omniscient Komal also wrote the most amazing set of rhyming lines ever written for the narrator (which I will be posting shortly), again in our favourite sir’s lecture.

Besides, we had a series of elimination rounds to attempt, which needless to say were very taxing considering how many of us were in more than 3 events simultaneously. But we did come through, and come through well, reaching the finals with almost a cent percent hit rate.

The Smiley, the Frowny and the supposed Tiger

Along with the eliminations, we also had to find time for the practice sessions. There wasn’t a day where we dispersed before seven in the evening and that is a conservative estimate. While the dancers were tirelessly rehearsing on their chosen tunes, the street play actors were screaming their lungs out to get the dialogue right. It was a great privilege to be given the job of directing such a talented bunch, and my due apologies if I sounded a little bossy and heartless during the period.

I cannot forget to make a mention of the pre-Utsav events, the portrait making (I still can’t digest the fact that Vikram turned up especially for it), t-shirt painting, rangoli making and creative writing contests, in which we won a position in the latter three.

On the 27th, came the first day of Utsav and we knew that we had enough firepower to take us through to a win. The first day saw us winning prizes at Group Discussion and Face Painting (1st, 2nd and 3rd), but we also put in a valiant effort in Western Solo (Aniket and Atre were soulful), Hindi Solo and Duet (lots of singers and non-singers tried their voices at it), Dumsies Pixies (the trio of Amri, Komal and Diksha), JAM (AI, not Arvind Iyer but Amalendu Iyer) and last but not the least, the solo dance finals (Komal yet again).

Making scandals of thin sheets

But our focus was primarily on the second day because those were the events we had prepared for. We started of within first position in Street Play (Harshit a.k.a. Hari got the best actor award too) and second in Debates (yes, AI and the Illuminator were the team that won in Utsav 2005 too), followed by the top prize for the most whacky hair do (thanks to our robotic friend and his not-so-mechanical hairstylist and yes, Kartik for making his presence felt for the first time at Utsav). Plus, we had near wins in Antakshri and the G.K. Quiz (Mayuresh and Paras participated in an Utsav event, yes it’s true). Pintu was feeling so tarnished after Hardsell, but our Maa-Cho sales pitch absolutely rocked (we lost out by 1 point). Some of us got ‘scandal’ous and thank you to Diksha for tolerating the dirty ideas we came up with. You can’t deny they were ingenious.

Solo(w) performance, but yet so high on energy!

The group dance competition came last. Our class was in an uncontrolled and wild cheering state. I don’t know about which dance was the best, but one thing I am sure of is that our dance entertained the most and was cheered the most. At the end prizes mein kya rakha hai, it is the appreciation of the audience that matters. (Just going a little off track, if the male host of the event is reading this, your jokes were not making us laugh.)

Even Kshirsagar sir couldn’t resist cheering our class. We continued cheering for D16 after every other dance making our presence felt (thought the prize for the class which cheered the most was not given). The action was not on the dance floor but on the ground, where legends like Aniket set the floor on fire. We had a crazy dance session.

Our Amitabh doing it better than the original Aish

It was time for the winners of Utsav to be announced. After our juniors in electronics were named the second and first runners up, we were quite certain that we as seniors will lead from the front. Even before the CS could have completed announcing, we were on the stage. I think we must have scared her and her council off completely.

After a short motivational speech to our juniors, we had a photo session which lasted for ever, with thumbs up and sprite being sprayed all over instead of champagne. The celebrations concluded with some of us racing to Gurukripa for recharging ourselves.

Everyone is a Winner here

We deserved every bit of the celebration, because we had put in our best effort. This is my tribute to everyone who participated and contributed in their own little (or big) way, in random order.
1. Amal, for the longest recorded uninterrupted air-time in a VESIT debate.
2. Vikram, for choosing the hottest girl as an entry in the portrait making event.
3. Aniket, John Lennon himself, reincarnated.
4. Yogesh, for the most energetic leizim performance ever.
5. Sagar, for risking his hair in the hands of you-know-who.
6. Krupa, for working effortlessly behind the scenes to ensure all goes well and the Lappy too!!
7. Chhabra, the new age don.
8. Paras, for getting us talcum powder when we needed it the most!
9. Ghate, for the incredible whistling.
10. Kavish, for having tried hard in the quiz elims.
11. Shraddha, for being the only one who made the audience laugh in a duet singing competition.
12. Nakul, for his entire initiative as CI.
13. Kamath, for playing the seductive Mrs.Gupta and sticking to his true ‘come on’ image.
14. Kunal, for making the crowd love us with the Amitabh imitation.
15. Kartik, just for having come to Utsav :P
16. Katke, for the high adrenaline dance performance.
17. Kaushik, for agreeing to play Hari’s and Unni’s daddy, a day before the D-Day.
18. Manaj, our sutra-dhaar.
19. Komal, for the boundless energy and persistence in everything she did.
20. Diksha, for again having worked a lot more in the background than on the forefront.
21. Lawande, Amol, for having come out to especially cheer our class in spite of their robotic frame of mind.
22. Nandy, for having almost disappeared in the costume of hers on stage.
23. Amri, for the sharpest thumkas of the lot.
24. Pappudi, for having held the poster upside down and getting the audience involved!
25. Mayuresh, for having come a close third in the quiz.
26. Unni, for having tolerated Hari in the street play.
27. Pritesh, for having said the dialogue right when it was most needed of him.
28. Shalu, for having tolerate engineering for so long when she should have been a doc.
29. Aalok, for playing a better Himmesh than the man himself.
30. Bhavesh, for giving the drug peddler a true blue shade.
31. Harshit, for immortalizing Hari and Maa-Cho.

Yes, I have skipped myself, but this blog is entirely my perspective so I think I have already eaten enough space. In case I have forgotten anyone else, please leave a comment so I can add their name.

You can leave a comment otherwise too, this one is for my class D16, to which I finally belong with pride!
(This is also coincidently the 50th post on my blog. What a time for it to come by!)

The Closing Comments by the Ones and Onlys

Post Script: It is against my nature to take names in the blog, but this one truly deserve a mention of names.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stalk Talk

What do you do if a stalker who had lost your trail comes back into your life? What do you do if he knows where you stay exactly and has just dropped a gift at your doorstep on your birthday? Well, something of this sort happened to my PAL. I will call her PAL itself for ease of reference throughout the rest of this blog.

It was her 20th birthday. As is usually the case with people celebrating their birthdays, she too received a number of birthday greetings. On one of this calls, she heard an unrecognizable voice and that's when her ordeal began.
Caller: Wish you many many happy returns of the day! May you have all the happiness, joy and success you have ever wanted.
PAL: Thank you. May I know who this is?
C: May you get everything you desire.
P: Ok, thanks a lot but stop. Please introduce yourself.
C: Isn't it enuf to know that the feelings are heart felt?
P ( getting a little irritated): I think the feelings will mean a lot more if I know who the person is.
C: If I tell you who I am, you won't talk to me.
P: I will still want to know.
C: Do you remember that gift I got you on your 18th birthday? That anonymous gift?
P: No.
C: Technically speaking, the gift your watchman delivered to you on my behalf.
P: Ok, who are you ? What do you want?
C: I have waited two long years for this. Finally I have got in touch with you again.
P: Listen, if this is a joke, it is not funny.
C: Of course it is not funny, because it is not a joke. I am dead serious.
In the meanwhile PAL gets another call, so she hands over the phone to her best buddy AL.
AL:Ok who are you?
C: Who are you? I want to speak to PAL.
A: I think as her best friend, I can speak on her behalf.
C: Tell her I want to meet her tomorrow.
A: What the hell! Why should she meet you?
C: Because I deserve a chance to prove my feeling for her.
Pal has just finished telling her friend her old stalker has called back. She will talk to him later and returns to the line, worried needless to say.
P: Ok, what do you exactly want? Meeting is not going to help because my answer is NO.
C: Well, if you don't want to meet me, I will meet you at 4, wherever you are then. I have my eyes on you.
P (obviously scared now): I am not meeting you whatsoever.
She hands back the phone to AL, telling her, "I think we should tell dad" but AL tells her to hold it a little longer.
A: Look you loser. Go get a life.
C: But she is my life.
A: See she is not going to meet you. If you try to meet her, the consequences will be dire.
C: For starters, ask her to see the gift which is kept on her doorstep.
AL passes the message to PAL, who is now getting tensed and more afraid than ever.
P: See, even if you have sent me a gift, it's going to go straight into the bin.
C: How can you disrespect someone's feeling like this? At least give me a chance to prove myself.
P: Why are you scaring me?
C: I am not scaring you, I have no intentions to cause you any harm. Give me one opportunity to meet you. If you don't want to take it further, I will never meet you again.
P: You are mad.
She hangs up on him. However, curiosity does drive her to see if the stalker was actually saying the truth about the gift. She goes out with AL on the pretext of fetching the keys which AL forget on her bike.
Guess what did she get as the gift? A jet, for a reason known to her and him. And what was written on it? BAKRA.
Jai Pranksters!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Amchi Mumbai

As a Mumbaikar, I take great pride in associating with it the tag of being the one of the most, if not the most cosmopolitan cities in India. It is a city whose identity lies in the fact that it has allowed people from across the country to make it their home, at the same time, allowing them to contribute to the growth of the city as an economic and trade hub of the nation.

The entire fracas created by MNS leader Raj Thackery and his workers seems to be such an outrageously despicable attempt at publicity. He doesn’t have the right to say his party represents public opinion because his was the most underperforming party in the recent BMC elections. Saying the ‘North Indians’ are taking up the jobs which belong to the locals and killing the employment opportunities for the Marathi Manoos is a gross misinterpretation of an average Mumbaikar’s opinion. He has resorted to violent measures to rectify a problem which most of us know doesn’t exist in the first place.

If he was so worried about creating work for the unemployed section of Maharashtrians, then he should have thought about starting community - based cooperate initiatives - help an aspiring entrepreneur acquire funding for his project, get a person looking for livelihood his own taxi so that he can earn his bread on his own, start a formal association to manufacture pottery/handicraft items giving the women of the community a chance to work – the options are available. The only thing that he can do for them is instigate them to support his unimaginative and short-sighted political agenda.

Mumbai is a city of survivors. If you know how to make it through the competition and hardships the city poses, you have the right to stay in the city, despite of your being a Punjabi, Bihari or Marathi. As long as they pay their taxes giving the government its due for maintaining the public machinery and remain responsible law-abiding citizens, no one has the right to tell them the city doesn’t belong to them. We can’t forget that the city’s prime industrialists and business leaders are mostly not Maharashtrians. Do you throw them out and with them the thousands of openings they create for the residents of the city?

When I came to the city six years ago, not once did anyone treat me differently because I didn’t know Marathi. In fact, the thing which made me fall on love with the city was the fact that people here were very hospitable and willing to treat you as one of their own. Today, I have a friend circle which has people from all corners of the country- Gujuratis, Tamilians, Maharashtrains, Sindhis, Delhiites and Bengalis. Never once have we disrespected or behave differently with someone just because he or she is from another part of the country. We take as much pride in being Mumbaikars as we do in belonging to our respective communities/states.

One of the politicians supporting the movement gave reasons like “North Indians do not follow the law of the land. They are rash drivers and responsible for many accidents.” He proved it himself how ‘justified’ the motives behind the movement are. I don’t think the ‘North Indians’ were ever a problem. Our politicians seem to be quite jobless, to have come up with amusing crap like this to keep themselves busy. Their idle mind is in deed a devil’s workshop!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Under Control?

Everytime I approach a vacation, I make big plans. I will do everything I haven't been able to do so far since I am going to have a lot of time on my hands. Holidays come like a Virar fast local and rush past you as quickly. You realise a little too late that you were waiting on the wrong platform to have fun.

The train is gone and now you have to make up for all the fun you missed, because of reasons under or beyond your control. What do you do? Have fun in the semester. How? Go out every weekend. If that doesn't suffice, go out on weekdays too. Anyways attending lectures is not the most-productive exercise that can be.
But then there are other things that have greater priority, regardless of whether you like to do them. So you got to strike a balance. How? If I knew the answer, Iwould not have been writing this post.

An apparently simple step towards acheiving that state of balance would be atleast identifying those priorities. Categorising activities as ''must do'' and ''want to do'' and setting deadlines for each might just help.

The reason I don't want to do so is that a considerable number of times I find that 80% of what I do falls in the former category and only 20% in the latter, albeit a better ratio would have been of equal distribution between the two.

The only way out seems forcing myself to like what I must do. See, another must do in the already long list. Or the less preferrable option is not doing what must be done in order to make way for the want to do's, and of course, being prepared for the dire consequences that come with this decision of yours.

Eventually, everytime I come to this juncture, I start wondering if all this analysis is again a part of the must-do list? Yes it is. Oh no, not again! I think I will drift for some more time until I find a better solution to how to take control of life. Actually, is it even required?