Archive for September, 2012

It was December 2003. As wannabe engineers we were made to attend a conference on electronics and nanotechnology – or so I guess. Needless to say we spent the whole time yawning, sleeping, making mindless cartoons and wondering what was happening. The conference was also attended by students who had come from other branches of our university elsewhere. After a tiring day everybody was ready to die on bed until a psychopath suggested something nasty. To play a prank on our guests!

My college was an unusual one, kind of an all-in-one superstructure. Frankly, it was a useless shopping complex turned into a local university. Geeeee! From the library to the classroom, from the labs to the washrooms and from the conference rooms to the hostel, all were loaded in one building. The basement was the library; the classrooms occupied the 1st and 2nd floor with the mezzanine floor for the administration and the professors. The girls were placed on the 3rd and the guys on the 4th, 5th and 6th floors. Finally, the management was stacked into the 7th. For the day the guests were accommodated on the fifth floor, a makeshift arrangement.

The plan was to scare the hell out of the visitors and give them a memory of a lifetime. Entry Balwinder Singh Bhandechha aka Ballu; our chudail

Da blood thirsty chudail

who was thirsty for some fresh blood. Honestly, it didn’t need a whole lot of make-up to make him look like one. We strapped him with a white bed sheet, let his hair down and made him hold a torch as he stared and blew his tongue at his victim. The sight still frightens me and many who played accomplice on that scary day. Protagonist done; it was now time to set the stage for the play.

Starters of the tube lights were removed, lifts were made dysfunctional by letting them remain open, wolves and chudail sounds tested, ghostly mist was to be produced using potassium permanganate and glycerine and volunteers were placed to keep a tab on a possible raid by watchmen and the warden.

All set, we moved towards the fifth floor towards our victims. Our first target was the Cochin team. It failed and failed miserably. Reason; those creepy mallus did not wake up. But that did not stop us from another attempt. Bangalore was our next stop. Things went as per plan. Everything worked as usual and they even opened the door. But that did not scare him. Disappointed, we decided to give it a final try. Cometh Hyderabad, cometh climax!

The Hyderabad operation was a difficult one. The room was situated in a narrow lane that ran 10 metres and had a width of approximately a meter. Running back from there meant covering a minimum of 5 to 10 meters. Common sense pleaded us to drop the plan. But for wannabe engineers, biotechnologists and designers, common sense was not at all common. We were soldiers. Failure was not in our dictionary. We were destined to win. Glory awaited us. In short, we were fools!

Ballu walked towards the door. Ali frantically blew the whole chemical and kicked the door thrice with full force. The air was thick and black. Ballu wanted to run back but then the door opened. The music of the wolves and the chudail made the background score. A short and stout man in his vest opened the door. We held our breath and watched from the corner. Ballu flashed the torch on his face, stared furiously and blew his tongue and made a screechy sound like a real chudail. Rage was written on his face. The man was stunned beyond imagination. He knew the bitch was after his blood. Shocked, he stood like a stone. It was picture perfect. Ballu slowly moved back and walked towards the stairs – and ran back to his room like a mad dog. So did we. It was a huge success.

As we basked in the glory, surprise awaited us the next day. Little did we know that the person who opened the door was not a student but in fact a professor from the Hyderabad campus. Most amusingly, we learnt he was scared. Blussshhhhhh!

A year later Ballu was back again to play chudail. Our target, our juniors. Ballu gave a flawless performance at the very first shot. The boy screamed and yelled. Guess what happened? Scared, ballu ran away…:P

Note: It’s been almost a decade after the incident. Please forgive me if I have missed or added something that does not relate. Mohsin Mukadam aka Moosa, Praveen Nair aka Ali, Harshal Joshi, Rahul Poonia, Asmit Hadke, Sumit Burukul, Binu Jacob, Tushar Saxena and some others were part of the conspiracy.


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There has been a steady increase in juvenile crimes in the country

Writing this piece I am a worried man and so will you be reading this, and so will be those parents who have young kids on their way to become the future of tomorrow. This morning while going through the Pune Mirror, I came across a news item which spoke about a 19 year old boy being handed over to police after being repeatedly caught stealing by his foster parents. The boy was accused of stealing gold ornaments from a home that fed, educated and bought him up since he was four.

Almost a week ago a five year old kid of DRDO working couple was murdered by a 19 year old and his accomplice, a 15 year old boy of 10th standard. Their motive was to demand a ransom of Rs. 1 lakh to purchase a motorbike. Similarly, in April 2012 16 year old Shubham Shirke was killed by his own friends who abducted and murdered him for a ransom of Rs. 50,000. All the three incidents happened in the city of Pune and have left the city shell shocked.

The horror is not limited to Pune. Mumbai too has seen a spate of violence by teenagers wanting to get some money to splurge. Adnan Patravala, 16, was found murdered in Navi Mumbai. He was strangulated by his own friends, five of them, which included two teens. Early this September, a class 9 student along with his friends plotted to loot his own house to purchase a luxury car. These and many cases like these bring to light the increasing use of violence by the young to satisfy their demand of a luxurious lifestyle.

A report by the National Crime Records Bureau makes things even more worrisome. From the year 1999 there has been a constant increase in

Having a luxurious lifestyle has seen kids taking to crime

juvenile crime. The recent 2011 report states that the percentage of juvenile crimes to other crimes has gone up by 0.1% from 1.0% in 2010 to 1.1% in 2011 though 2008 recorded the highest with 1.2%. The rate of juvenile crimes has also increased from 2.0% in 2010 to 2.1% in 2011. The number of cases recorded in 2011 was 25,125 compared to 22,740 in 2010. The crimes include murder, dacoity, abduction, theft, cheating, molestation and even rape.

So what makes our young generation violent? A look at the prevailing social environment should give us the answers. The present society is a world apart from the older times when people were close-knitted and relations were based purely on trust. Having a good time meant spending time with friends and loved ones. The larger section of the young population were more focussed and interested in their future than the present generation. Life was a struggle and only hard work and perseverance paid. Compare that to the current condition and you will find two separate worlds.

It’s worthwhile to note that the kids of today are more exposed to violence, thanks to the ever growing reach of media. The television is over-flowing with crime related series, the modern print mostly has crime and negative news on its cover page, the exposure of kids to violent computer games, the overuse of social media and the neglect of parents are main reasons for kids taking to crime. Time is running out and things may get out of hand if we fail to find a solution right away.

Violent games often incite kids to take the path of crime

So what can we do? Firstly, we must know that children are very tender at heart and do not have a thinking of their own. Their inspiration comes from their surroundings. They try to emulate whatever they see or hear. We must learn to keep a tab on this. Then comes their exposure to games and television. The television for long has being termed as an idiot box. The computer will soon replace it. Most importantly it’s the sheer ignorance and neglect of parents that lead to kids taking the wrong path. While we try to keep our kids under vigilance it is also important to make sure that we don’t pull the strings too strong. A slight miss could be disastrous. Parents could also take to consulting if they feel their kids are wandering off the track. The government too should educate kids by making them aware of their responsibilities and the usage of media.

I hope as time passes by our generation next will have more sense and responsibility of their deeds. But the current state of affairs says otherwise. Can I be proved wrong?

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November 2011 was a watershed month for Tamil actor Dhanush. Little did he imagine that his song Kolaveri Di would go on to become a rage among the music crazy people in India and around the world. Though the song was slammed by many for its violent lyrics and low tempo music, Kolaveri Di was a huge hit among party and non-party goers alike.

The song was first released on YouTube and instantly became viral with over 3.5 million views within a week. Kolaveri Di was among the top 10 trending Indian topics on Twitter on 21 November, 2011 and had received more than a million shares on Facebook. It went on to become the first Tamil song to be featured on MTV and also received the honour of “Recently Most Popular” Gold Medal Award and “Trending” Silver Medal Award from YouTube. Dhanush was on a roll.

Praise came from all corners of the world. The young composer Anirudh Ravichander was the most sought after the release of the song. The song also managed to strike a chord with the powerful. Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh invited Dhanush for a dinner with Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda. Japan, which has a huge fan-following for Rajnikanth movies, went gaga over the song. Variants of the song were also taken by many political parties for election campaigns in 2012. While Kolaveri Di still manages to demand a jig, there’s one song that has made people go nuts. Gangnam Style!

A product by South Korean rapper PSY, Gangnam Style has caught the world by storm. Released on July 15, 2012 the song is a Korean language colloquialism that applauds the lifestyle of South Korea’s Gangnam district. The song has received over 246 million hits as of September 23rd and is the most watched K-pop video ever. What’s more interesting and eye-catching are the hilarious moves by the 34 year old rapper who goes on an imaginary horse-riding frenzy with some unique style. The video is flashy in all possible notes and has found a place amongst chartbusters of all times.

The song has topped the charts in 31 countries and has also been nominated as the Best Video for the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards. The reach of the song can be judged by the fact that it entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the “Most Liked” song in YouTube history. Many newspapers and music magazines have hailed it as one of the greatest ever. The song has made PSY one of the most popular pop singers and has been approached by music giants from around the world. Just recently, he signed up with Justin Bieber’s label, Island Records for his songs in the US. Within a short span PSY has managed to capture the imagination of the world and the show is not yet over. While there is no doubt that Kolaveri Di has a space of its own, the time has come to say “Oppan Gangnam Style.”

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To the homes and to the pandals
To the streets and to the palaces
For the poor and for the rich
Here I come, here I come

To lighten your lives and brighten your minds
To forgive your sins of the days gone behind
So light up your streets and decorate your walls
Give me a jig and sing me some songs

Offer me sweets, offer me some prayers
I vow that I will be your problem slayer
To be back again with you year by year
Here I come, here I come

He is hailed as the god of good beginnings, a remover of obstacles and a lord of wisdom. His presence is auspicious and his blessings a must. Our beloved Lord Ganesha is coming home again. While he prepares to grace us with his presence, preparations are on full swing. From homes to pandals and from social organizations to security establishments, everybody is gearing up to welcome the elephant-headed god. Roads are getting fixed, pandals are being erected, houses are getting repainted and the police force is making the final checks.

Ganesh Chaturthi marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha, son of Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati. The festival is celebrated with excitement across India with all the communities joining in the celebration erasing the boundaries of religion and castes. The 10 day festival which ends on Anant Chaturthi is perhaps the most celebrated festivals of India. In India, the state of Maharashtra sees the most elaborate celebrations followed by Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and some Northern States. Internationally, it is celebrated by Hindus in US, Canada, Singapore, Thailand and Mauritius amongst others.

Legend has it that Lord Ganesha was a creation of goddess Parvati. He was created when Parvati gave life into a figure of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath. Parvati then asked Ganesha to stand guard as she bathed. When Lord Shiva returned, Ganesha did not allow him to enter. Enraged, Lord Shiva severed the head of little Ganesha. Once Shiva realized that he had killed his own son, he fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha’s head. Since then Ganesha was the elephant-headed god.

Colourful statues of the lord are erected across the country and aartis (religious ritual) are done on a daily basis. Prayers are offered and sweets are extended in his name. Modak, Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet is the flavour of the season and could be seen in almost all the households. Ganesh Chaturthi is also when social activities are at an all time high. Popular mandals (local communities) conduct gatherings, competitions and charity fundraisers during this period.

Ganesh Chaturthi is one festival that defines the spirit of India; a festival which cuts across caste and creed and holds mankind and goodness as supreme. And as the Lord of Good Times makes his way back to our homes, let us welcome him with all our heart!





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“In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos,
while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb”,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning”

If some historians are to be believed, Nostradamus, arguably the greatest astrologer of all times did predict one of the most catastrophic events in human history. On the 9th of September, 2001 the Twin Towers were mercilessly bombarded with commercial jetliners bringing the world to a standstill. The Twin Towers, considered to be the most iconic buildings appearing on the skyline of the city of New York, were reduced to rubble in a matter of hours. Thousands of lives were lost, billions worth of property damaged, stock markets around the world crashed in an attack which left the world stunned beyond imagination. Most importantly it was the spirit of a country that had taken a big hit. America was under attack from a ruthless and unrelenting enemy who, in the name of religion, chose to massacre scores of lives and succeeded with perfect precision.

11 years later people have moved on. Things have changed. Security forces around the world are more alert than ever, people have taken cognizance of a common enemy named terrorism and the man behind the attack, Osama Bin Laden, has been brought to justice. A new building rises on the horizon and America is looking forward than ever before.

On the fateful day when commercial passenger planes tore the world trade centers apart, the occupants of the building were frightened. The shivering building, the killing silence and the deafening blasts were too much to bear. And while the drama unfolded minute by minute lives were lost and hope shattered. But it is said that calamities bring the best out of us and 9/11 was a testimony to that.

Even as the horrific images of the doomed day continue to scare people, there are stories which give people courage and confidence to carry on. Stories which define the true meaning of human beings and of those which celebrates mankind. These are stories of fire-fighters, policemen, medical personnel and ordinary citizens helping each other in the time of crisis. Stories which cannot be explained in words but only felt by heart. These were the real superheroes of 9/11.

One story that needs a particular mention is that of Michael Hingson. Blind from birth, Michael was on the 78th floor when catastrophe struck. All he could do was hear the noise of what was happening. Not knowing what to do, Michael had a big question in front of him. Will he make it alive? His call for help was answered not by a person, but a canine, a dog that he holds very dear, a dog named Roselle.

Roselle was trained to guide and she was perhaps the best in her class. When the towers were attacked Roselle stood firm and still. Not wavering or showing any signs of nervousness she took commands from her master and guided Michael step by step out of safety. Roselle today is a hero among many others who stood at the time of adversity. Today as we look forward with hope and the promise of the future, we celebrate the courage and spirit of those who put themselves in harm’s way so that we could live another day. Here’s a big salute to all those who proved living was giving!

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