Thursday, November 27, 2008

While I was sleeping...

While I was sleeping

Mumbai was returning home

As were its tired and sleepy souls

Theirs was a routine journey

So should have been their homecoming

But little did they know

They will be scarred again

In a way like never before.


While I was sleeping

Bullets were fired

By cowards and liars

Self-righteous mercenaries of terror

The bullets pierced bodies

Whose souls went to meet their Maker

To ask Him, “Why us?”

To ask Him, “What gave them the right?”


While I was sleeping

Symbols of Mumbai were burnt

Guests of the city were taken hostage

To be used as human shields

The same shields they chose to tear

The same shields they now wear

Conscience is not what you look for

In these agents of death.

 

While I was sleeping

While I was dreaming

Mumbai was burning

Mumbai was bleeding

At those very places I have once been

I can imagine how it would have been

If imagining the ordeal is so painful

I will be lying if I told you

“I know how it feels.”


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Hare and The Tortoise Revisited

Once upon a time, there was a Hare. She was powered by a noisy 6 cylinder engine and wore an untidy look of bright red. Her arrogance reflected in the fact that she had B.E.S.T. printed on it in bold. She thought she'll give two Tortoises a lift home. "What can these two slow coaches do? They will never reach home in time had it not been for me. I am faster and more energetic than the two of them put together."

The Tortoises had had a tiring day in office and in no mood for a show of strength. So they decided to jump on the little crammed space remaining on the otherwise spacious Hare, who told them it is only a matter of minutes before she gets them home. But little did she know what great obstacle lay in her way, the dreaded monster called Traffic.

He had broken the morale of many like her before, but this Hare of ours was not the one to give in. She continued the grand show of high-handedness. The Tortoises were tired after a long day at work, and the last thing they needed was a delay. They told each other "Rather than waiting on this slow Hare, we should get off and walk our way home steadily. At least we will escape the eye of the monster thanks to our inconspicuous presence."

Over-hearing their conversation, the infuriated Hare told them to never set a foot on her again. She said they were being extremely doltish to overestimate their ability to beat the Hare to her destination. The were creatures of great self-respect and would not stand any ignominy. They were determined to prove their point.

They started walking to their destination, the progress was slow, but at least there was progress. The Hare had not been able to get out of the clutches of Traffic for the past 15 minutes, thereby increasing the gap between itself and its spirited competitors. The Tortoises walked and walked, with music on their tPODs  and a thirst for moral victory on their side. 

But soon, they saw the Hare waving at them as he brushed by with great speed. How foolish was she to have thought he could have won so easily. The T-Monster was not that easy to get away from. The Hare's hubris had further strengthened his resolve to not let her live in peace. A little further off, he caught up with her again with greater vengeance. 

The Hare thought that the Tortoises must have given up considering how soon she had made up the distance that separated them. She decided to buy her time till the monster tired. But to her surprise, even before Traffic showed signs of fatigue, the two Tortoises showed up in the horizon. Nothing had changed in their walk - the speed, the confidence, the energy looked unchanged. 

She made one desperate attempt to break free but it was too late, for the persistence of the Tortoises had paid. They reached the destination far before her and left her with an embarrassing defeat. Everyone praised the Tortoises for their courage and grit. The Tortoises told everyone "If we walk more often, we not only let the monster of Traffic rest in peace and give our body some exercise, but we also get the opportunity to teach such egotists a lesson." Well they had to put up a courageous face in front of the crowds, but only they knew how tired they were and how much their legs ached sans the sport shoes!

Moral Of the Story: Slow and steady wins the race, only when there is traffic.  

Warning: All characters in this story are completely real. Any resemblance to people living or dead is not coincidental and surely intended.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Inspired

There is life beyond good days and bad days. And sometimes, it goes far beyond the days of mundane existence and mere achievements, days where you feel you are invincible. No person can hurt you. No thought can enter your mind.

You are blank, as empty as the sands of a barren desert. Yet, you don't feel parched. You are at peace, with yourself and all the variables around you, in every wordly equation that is yet unsolved. You think of those who love you, those who have prayed for you and those who have given you luck and realise that with so much positivity surrounding you, there can be no space for a pessimism.

You start believing in yourself like you never have. An aura surrounds you, like an armour that takes all the blows when you are fencing your enemy off. Your are overwhelmed by a sense of objectivity. Your mission is to defeat your only enemy - panic.

Life gives you second chance, but you are worthy of it only if you have lived upto yourself in your first attempt. Your attitude changes. 'Enough' is no longer the same it was before. 'Before' is of no consequence to what happens later. 'Later' is not the time you wish to do what you want to do today.

Hopeful you are and it is hope that you get. A good bargain. A good day. No, a day that makes you feel good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Day to Go

It is one day to go for the mother of all exams (if you didn't know, it's CAT I am talking about), but here are a few questions I definitely am trying not to think about:
  • How is the paper going to be tomorrow?
  • How am I going to attempt it? 
  • What will the paper pattern be like?
  • What if I get through?
  • How will I get through?
  • Can I get through?
  • What if I don't get through?
  • When was the last time I said this was not a serious attempt?
  • When was the last time I said there is always hope?
  • What is my chance of getting lucky, when 269999 others ask for luck on the same day?
  • Do I need luck?
  • What if my friend gets through and I don't?
  • What if I get through and my friend doesn't?
  • What if the paper pattern changes next year to an online test?
  • What if the paper is leaked?
  • What if I forget my hall ticket at home?
  • What if I wake up and realise it is 11:30 already?
  • What if there is a curfew tomorrow?
  • When was the last time I tried to not think so much? 
Luckily, CAT has only five answer options to each question. I rather take that. And the best part is that failing and not passing have two different meanings tomorrow and the choice is only mine, if I come to it. 

For those of you who are giving it, "Carpe Diem" (I loved the word Astrodominie, thanks)! 

Friday, November 07, 2008

Let us make it a drive, to remember...

My new office location, to put it in one word, is far, so far that we have given christened it ''Kalapani", which was a colonial era prison on the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The fastest we reach there through any combination of means of transport (one is not enough) is 1 hours and 15 minutes, but then we live in a world where traffic could get stuck under a flyover long enough for you to complete your grocery purchases and return to your car without the need to park even park it. Sometimes, I wonder if a passerby would look at it as a road, or a parking lot!

Since we are sincere employees and we love our work, we put up with all the hurdles that the travelling poses in our path and tirelessly keep looking for new alternatives to reach our final destination. Today, we tried a car, no actually a jeep, Maddy's jeep. And if you think we only drove to work, think again. I bet you could not have made your first drive to work so memorable as this. Continue reading to know why.
  1. We took 25 minutes and as many stops to climb a slope around 500 meters long in bumper-to-bumper traffic. In that, we gave all the drivers who drove behind us, besides a cause for delay, a heartattack. We teasingly drifted back, sometimes with the car engines off. Don't they understand what "KEEP SAFE DISTANCE" means. IT  WAS NOT AS FUNNY AS IT APPEARS NOW. 
  2. We drove through a one way but soon realised we were driving in the wrong direction and decided to reverse our direction, only to almost throw two bikers out of their seat. Our pilot and co-pilot were under immense performance pressure thanks to us. NEVER COMMENT WHEN YOUR FRIEND WHO IS A NEW DRIVER IS DRIVING. 
  3. We hit a cyclist, though only with the car mirror. (Stop. I know you are thinking we are such brats, but frankly as newbies we didn't do so bad. And it was completely an accident) Actually, I can't even call it hit, scraped is the right word. We were driving at 20 km/hr. It was just that he and we both decided to go in the same direction at the same time and he thought he could outride us. ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT YOUR CAR IS BIGGER THAN YOU ARE.
  4. My friend lost a cell phone while sitting in the car. Yes, you might think it's unbelievable, but it happened. Today was the day that anything could happen while we were in THE car. And you know what, he didn't even know he had lost it until we had reached office.  It took us half an hour to reach the conclusion that it was lost, another half an hour, to take the corrective action. IF YOU THINK THAT YOU CAN ONLY LOSE A PHONE WHILE USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT, THINK AGAIN. (Deeper investigations showed that it slipped out of his pocket while he was seated in the car and it fell off the car while he went over to help the cyclist back on his seat. Now we know why he was not as furious as he should have been.)
After a very exciting journey, we reached office. That's only half the fun. We had a return journey too which was as interesting.
  1. We took a one-way street once again, pretty much at the start of the journey. This time we drove through the street and decided not to turn back. In our defence, there was no sign-board. The only sign we got was from the faces of the drivers who glared in anger or shock. But it was too late till we realised. So we thought we might as well drive through than turn back creating a few more problems for everyone. READ THE FACES OF THE DRIVERS WHO ARE ON THE ROAD WITH YOU. EVERY FACE TELLS A STORY.
  2. We broke a rickshaw's front indicator. The problem with these rickshaw drivers is the drive with their nose in your car's booty. They can be a little more considerate with newbies. He knew it was his fault so he didn't get off to quarrel with us. THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO DANGER DOESN'T MEAN THE FARTHER YOU ARE FROM HARM.
  3. A rickshaw driver broke his headlamp. He drove into us. We were playing bumper car/rickshaws/jeeps today. Again, we plead our innocence. THERE IS A PEDAL/HANDLE CALLED BREAKS ON ALL VEHICLES WHICH IS MEANT TO BE USED.
  4. We scraped a man's cell phone while he was using it on the road with the car mirror.Mind you, only a scratch on his phone, not even a dent. That's a delicate art considering you are driving a one-tonne vehicle at 30 km/hr. SCRATCHING WITH YOUR CAR IS A TALENT FOUND IN A VERY FEW.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Whoever said that what so true. My favourite office colleague also managed to rub shoulders with middle-class Maharashtrian termagants. Not exactly his shoulders, but the cars. Again, look at his skill, he didn't hurt even one of them. KEEP IN MIND THAT YOUR LEFT MIRROR EXTENDS BEYOND YOUR CAR. (THE RIGHT MIRROR IN CASE OF LEFT HAND DRIVES.)
The great news is I am living to write this and so are the rest of the people who we met in our way. For Maddy, you are the safest driver I have known from a passenger's point of view. Never have I had so much fun on a drive. I owe it to you. Next time, I hit, scrape, take the pressure, and yeah, drive!





Sunday, November 02, 2008

Arabian Nights

You might be wondering where I have been so long. I have just returned from a holiday to Dubai and Sharjah. The trip was not exactly a long vacation but it was a vacation well-spent! I lived like a tourist for a change. I also have captured bits and pieces of it through the pictures I clicked. Here's a glimpse of my photolog.

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Day 1: Almost There

Dubai truly represented the city of blinding lights, looking pretty in colours of gold and tungsten.

Day 2: Burj Dubai
This building is so tall that I couldn't fit it in my camera frame. I was around half a kilometer away. And guess what, it is still under construction. No wonder, it's the tallest man-made structure in the world.

Day 2: Burj Al Arab from Jumeriah Beach

Jumeirah Beach is one of the oldest and the most beautiful beaches in Dubai. It overlooks three hotels, Burj Al Arab (by far the most elegant), the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and the Atlantis. Needless to say, all are 5+ star hotels and some of the best in the world. For me they are just plain architectural marvels.

Day 2: Ski Dubai

Skiing in the desert? Anything is possible in Dubai with all the kind of money petrol gets them. But you know what? This is inside the Mall of the Emirates. It is a huge paradise for shoppers who like big brands. You name the brand, its there. It is great for bird watching (loads of phirangs wearing the shortest of dresses) and window shopping (great displays, India needs to learn a lot on that front).

Day 3: Diwali

I celebrated Diwali with my parents after 6 years. It felt great. You don't realise what you are missing when you are away. I spent the entire day at home.

Day 4: Desert Safari - Dune Bashing

It is a closest you can get to a roller-coaster ride while you are in a car (ok, that is undermining the beauty of those four-wheel drives). I couldn't get a picture of it while we were actually dune bashing because it gets extremely shaky, but take my word for it, it is loads of fun. Just don't go dune bashing with a loaded tummy.

Day 4: Desert Safari: Kandhoora

If you are wondering what a kandhoora is, it is a traditional Arabic gown worn by men. It is meant to protect you from the harsh climatic conditions of the desert. But somehow, looking at my picture with me in the kandhoora made me crack up!! It's so funny.

Day 4: Desert Safari - Camel Riding

I would still prefer riding a horse. One, the camel is huge and can bite really hard. Two, it has the most obnoxious style of raising itself from the ground, which sure does catch you by surprise. It is a three step process. It raises its front legs partly, so you fall back on your seats. Then it raises its hind legs fully, so you fall forward. At the end it straightens its front legs to finally stand on all fours. But then, its gait isn't very comforting either. I now know why it is the 'ship' of the desert.

Day 4: Desert Safari - Belly Dancing
It is a very sensuous yet graceful dance form that requires extremely flexibly abdomen muscles. I will upload a video shortly so that you know how difficult it actually is to match up with the beats. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole 20 minute performance.

Day 5: Shopping!!
No pictures on this day. You can't think of anything else when you go shopping in Dubai. They make you want to spend (sometimes waste) your money with the offers they have.

Day 6: Mamzaar Park

The pristine waters of Mamzaar Beach

The lagoon facing Sharjah

My MOST favourite beach in the World

Mamzaar park has everything - sprawling gardens, barbecue zones, four beaches, lagoons, water sports, amphitheatre, skate boarding slopes, swimming pools, cottages, lagoons and more. I have been going there since my childhood days. When I went there this time, I still had the same amount of fun as I have always had. I just love lazing around in the beach waters. 

The only blemish this time was, in my over-enthusiasm, I overlooked a wave that was approaching me while I was clicking a close surface shot while in the waters. It splashed all over my camera and caused the cam to conk off. My best gadget is in a state of coma! I want it back up and running, and soon. Pray.

Day 7: The Sharjah Aquarium
(Everything clicked hence forth is with the limited range of my cellphone camera, I hate it)


The View of the World Above


Sting Ray


Lion Fish


A Giant Lobster in Hiding

According to me, the Sharjah Aquarium is a new addition to the list of must-sees! Being the nature freak that I am, I just loved the place. The aquarium takes you on a journey right from the Arabian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. You get a view of ocean life, from the surface, below the surface and at the level of the sea floor. It has a wide-array of creatures, from sharks to rays, to a  large variety of pretty and not so pretty fish, sea anemones and mollusks, to shells and corals. It is exciting to see the animals you see in documentaries live. They are beautiful. Wonder how do people eat them!

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Now I know why they say, "It's good to be home again!" The recent trip I made to UAE was in the complete sense a trip down memory lane. From the time I got down at Dubai airport, my eyes kept spotting everything which had changed, but more so everything which hadn't. You think you have forgotten but just one glance is enough to remind you of all that you associate with the place. Nostalgia sure is a good feeling. Coming back with more memories even better.