Archive for the ‘Life n Living’ Category

Like everybody I too have dreams, but the one that I had last night stumped me. There is perhaps no rationale behind these flashyDreams images that happen to be a complete disarray of thoughts. A dream, I believe, is somehow connected to us or perhaps our deepest self. Here is what happened.

I was at the CBD Belapur station wanting to cross over to the other side of the platform for reasons unknown. The next I see is me crossing the tracks hastily, mindful of the bloody reputation the tracks have. Just behind me is a girl aged 14 or 15, an American, who is completely disoriented and frightened also wanting to cross over. I help her cross the tracks and ask her where she wanted to go. Looking around for her kin she apprehensively says, “From the place I came.” A bit surprised I question her again, “Where did you come from?” She replies, “I don’t know. I was supposed to go somewhere with my parents.” Completely shocked by her answer I think she could have possibly be talking about Panvel as a lot of out-station trains leave from there. I remember seeing the board of Dahisar. Did I just cross over from CBD Belapur to Dahisar, a good 1.5 hours from here? Let’s go ahead.

So I am finally at Dahisar as I see no station complex as at the CBD Belapur station. I see the station completely crowded with people looking at me and the young girl suspiciously. In the background a train just arrives loaded with humanity. Wanting to help, I instruct her to board a train which will take her to Panvel in just 10 minutes. WTF? Dahisar to Panvel in just 10 minutes? So here is what I do. I take a pencil; wrap it up with a paper and ask the local canteen guy for a pen to write my cell number. This was going nowhere. I want the girl to call me as soon as she reaches there. Suddenly, a couple of eunuchs appear in front of me with a small placard which said DVD. They never spoke but intended to say something. Furious and frustrated I give the one with the placard a kick. Terrified they run away. Completely bizarre, isn’t it?

After having written my cell number I ask the girl to board the train which has just arrived. But a local train, as they are known to be, was overcrowded with people. Thinking about the hassles of travelling in an overcrowded Mumbai train, I board the train with the girl. And the timing is 9.15 AM. Good Morning!


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Killing my Dream

Picture 194Here I return
To the jungle of concrete
For yet another day on a machine
I surrender my benevolent soul
To an insatiable human being

Wish I could forget
The sweetness of the water
The silence of the wilderness
I miss the redolence of the air
The tweeting of the birds
The talk of the trees

I linger in a void of mundane chores
Where time flies by
And work is what life means
For I fail to see
How unreal the real world is

Here I return
Once again
From the dope of nature
To kill my dream
And capture the mortal within

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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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“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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 ImageOver 350,000 dead; millions displaced, billions worth of property damaged, a civilization completely annihilated and many still suffering. This was the outcome of the catastrophic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which forced the Japanese to surrender and ultimately lead to the end of World War II.

Once; food, clothing and shelter were the only basic necessities that man knew, until his thinking and greed got beyond his own capacity and his wants became his needs and this transpired into one of the worst man-made disasters in human history, The World War!

After the destruction of Europe, the focus was now on Asia-Pacific and Japan, a small island nation to the South-East, was at the helm of things. Japan in those days was at their merciless best. Having captured almost three-fourth of Asia-Pacific, they eyed Europe and after the furious pounding of the Pearl Harbor, their spirits were at an all-time high. But time was quickly running out and they very soon realized that their act had woken up a sleeping giant, who till that day had no specific grudge against them, the USA. Thereafter, what followed was an unrelenting attack by the US which bought the whole of Japan to their knees and forced them to reorganize their armed forces. In a bid to save precious fuel, Japan turned a blind eye to the air raids by America. This would go on to become one of their biggest mistakes which in the end cost many innocent lives.

On August 6 and 9, 1945, the US dropped two atom bombs named the “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. While Hiroshima was an embarkation port and industrial center that was the site of major military headquarters, Nagasaki was a city of both industrial and military significance. When the aircrafts carrying the bombs entered the Japanese airspace, little did they realize that the US planes were here to cause mass murder. Later a Japanese radio announced, “Practically all living things, human and animal, were literally seared to death”, leaving the world shocked and grieving.

It is quite ironical that peace, which can only be achieved by non-violence, is forced upon us by violence and destruction. No matter how justifiable or unwilling America was, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has changed the face of the world and will continue to be seen as a black spot in the history of human race. It is said that the fourth World War will be fought with batons, sticks and knives – such will be the after-effects of World War III. Think, think and re-think. Should we continue to live the way we are or should we change for the better of mankind? For being human is what makes us different!

Copyright @Bookchums

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When my Content Manager asked me to write a blog on this special topic, I was left wondering as to where to start from. Should it be my school days when Raksha Bandhan meant girls chasing every single boy and tying rakhis in exchange for some sweets or was it that day when cousins who never said hello in a lifetime suddenly called up their brothers and bombarded them mercilessly with their love?

Raksha Bandhan has a special place in my heart as the only sibling I have is my younger brother and the one whom I call my dear sister is my cousin who lives far away in Dubai. It’s been more than 6 years since she has tied a rakhi to me but the bond that we share is still intact. Be it Dubai or some other place on earth, a Rakhi has always found its way to my home – right on time. I’m sure this time it wouldn’t be different.

Our very own Wikipedia says Raksha Bandhan, (the bond of protection) or Rakhi is a festival primarily observed in India and Nepal, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters, which forces me to ask this question. What’s so special? Legend has it that many kingdoms avoided extinction and social harmony reached a new high with the presence of this eternal thread. The endless love between the Hindu Deity Sri Krishna and Draupadi is much celebrated among Hindus. Once when Lord Krishna cut his finger, Draupadi tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Krishna had then promised Draupadi that he would repay each “thread” when the time comes. When Draupadi needed Krishna’s protection and prayed for his help, he came to her rescue. This is one of the stories of the origin of the Raksha Bandhan festival.

Marking this auspicious day, the sister ties a sacred thread around her brother’s wrist, and the brother in turn presents her with exciting gifts with a promise to protect her throughout his life.

Rakhi is not just a thread, but a thought, a promise and a testimony to the very fact that love in its purest form has no boundaries and knows no biases. It is difficult to explain the relationship between a brother and a sister as love has no definition. So be it the sister’s unrelenting demand for gifts or the brother’s constant naughty and irritating acts, the bond between both is beyond the imagination of any person and could simply be termed as everlasting.

As I sit today recalling the wonderful moments me and my cousin spent together, it would be right to say that the bond that we shared was unconditional and speaks laurels about the Knot with a Difference. Truly …Kuch Khaas Hai!
Copyright @Bookchums

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