Page 1


THE BATTLE OF LIFE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                     KARTHIK  ARORA 

 

THE BATTLE OF LIFE  3rd August, 1914 "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." These words by the British Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey marked the beginning of what is today known as World War 1. 9 million people lost their lives in this battle for life, freedom and power. Billions of lives were affected before finally a treaty was signed and the war ended and there was peace. Peace? From times when battles were fought for life we have transcended to times when life is a daily battle for survival and social acceptance for many of us and every day is nothing more than a string of compromises ( read: signing treaties ). Every moment passed is another compromise made. Be it life, work, education, government or, love; we compromise to survive in this society. Social acceptance surpasses all other human needs. We make compromises because we accept that there is no hope. Hope? "The lamps have all gone out; shall we ever see them lit again??" The profound effect that such simple words have, this is their beauty.

Grey was sitting in his room, writing. He wondered when he had last done this – sit down and write? He looked back at what he had written,


THE BATTLE OF LIFE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                     KARTHIK  ARORA 

  “My emotions are same as yours mixed and deep, I couldn’t stay when you needed me most, baby I had promises to keep. I miss the way I played with your hair, Your eyes, their silent prayer. I remember the time I had to watch you go, I’ll now be by your side, now after death, we shall unite baby, I’ll sing you to sleep tonight” With this, he took a step forward and felt the cold night air on his face; he plunged across into unfamiliar shores. He knew it was near, the time, when they would finally be together. He smiled the way he hadn’t in the past several months. He had had enough of what his parents felt. His aunt had to say, what his horoscope read, what his neighbours felt to what the milkman and the maid had to say. He cared of nothing in the present moment. He was relaxed! The following morning his body was found, sprawled on the ground. *** It was very late in the night; she was in the alley, alone. Just a dim bulb; It isn’t the right time for girls to tread alone into such areas. The flickering bulb instantly took her down the memory lane, to the small village, a particular house in that small village, a room. A lady sitting with her two daughters; the elder one had just come back after a failed marriage. Her husband had beaten her badly; she couldn’t take it anymore and returned home, only to be scorned by society. The younger one saw as her elder sister and mother wept, knowing there wasn’t anything that could possibly be done. The family was finding it hard to make ends meet, they never had any money.

Before she even knew, she was besides a funeral pyre, her sister. She

knew if she had to survive she would need money, yet wherever she would go, the society would never let her succeed. She was pulled down again and again.


THE BATTLE OF LIFE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                     KARTHIK  ARORA 

  The dirt in the society crippled her morals and today here she was, was in the alley, alone. Just a dim bulb; It isn’t the right time for girls to tread alone into such areas, yet this is where her customers would generally meet her. He would generally never get sleep in the night; It was very odd for children of his age. He would sit and wonder – when things will be okay. He wanted to help his family as much as he could and he gave his best every single day. Every morning he, his 3 brothers and 3 sisters would set out to work with their parents, selling vegetables at Bhootnath market. His father would put up his vegetable stall and his mother would meanwhile, sweep in the shopping complexes. It was all so different now, he missed going to school. Whenever he would ask his father he would simply say, ”What good is school unless it cannot fill your stomach?” He hated his stomach. Every day, for this very stomach he would sell lemons on the pavements of market approaching every aunty who came with a small kind, maybe to appeal to the mother in them? He would look at that kid and would wish to be in his place. He would be lost looking at that kid, when suddenly he would be introduced to reality when that Aunty would say, “Dus ke aath doge to hi khareedungi, nahin to hato yahan se.” He would helplessly agree. After all he had to fill his stomach. He came back late at night, all drenched. The police had shown no mercy in firing water cannons at the Ramlila ground. He still felt he had done his part. He hated the way politics was ruining the world – countries interfering in other countries in order to promote peace. The way wars were being fought the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War; Pakistan and China slowly invading India and the war for freedom in Lebanon. There was so much unrest everywhere outside. Everyone wants power and supremacy, no one wants peace. He could sense it; World War 3 is around the corner. Countries working on nuclear technology and developing weapons of mass destruction while half the population still remains below poverty line. He sometimes felt instead of world war it should be called “War of Ignorant Fools”. Now his country had started to show signs of reform with Lokpal coming in the picture, he was happy he was playing his part in it!


THE BATTLE OF LIFE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                     KARTHIK  ARORA 

  These are some of the things which happen all over the country. It’s a never ending cycle. These moments of despair and unhappiness come in the lives of millions of people every day, every moment and we just compromise with the situation. A boy losing his loved one to honour killing ends up committing suicide leaving a scar on the face of society who wouldn’t accept the relationship and parents who have to now lift their son’s dead body. A girl forced into prostitution to make ends meet because the society never

gave

her

a

chance

to

excel

and

now

doesn’t

accept

her

A 4 year boy is forced to reflect on life and work for 20 hours when he should have been playing like many others of his age or going to school but he had to compromise An average and proud Indian is doing what all he can to change his country. Yet, what is the result? He has to compromise and accept this government which is not taking his country anywhere. In the midst of all these sufferings of the common man, where is the government? And, what is the society as a whole doing? Why is social acceptance affecting every single thing we do? To implement a change, society as a whole should change its outlook and stand up together and raise questions. The time is not to crib over religion or profession. Whenever YOU talk about religion or prostitution spoiling the society or how irritating those kids are who are selling lemons or how Lokpal is a waste and how all these things are stopping the country – You should realize how we are somewhere responsible for the very existence of these things? How many of us have rejected the marriage proposal because the horoscopes don’t match? How many of us know of incidences of casting couch in our offices yet never reported them? How many of us pay bribes to get our work done? How many of us don’t pay our taxes properly? Have many of us have ever taken the initiative to educate any one less fortunate then us – to maybe take out some of the extra money we save and put that child in school; where he should rightfully be ? How many have actually thought of giving back to the society? You know the answers for yourself. The war did not end in 1914. It started in 1947 and has been going on since then. The Great War – the battle OF life. “The lights have all gone out; Shall we ever see them lit again?”

 


A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER    

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   FAHIMA ASLAM 

 

A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER  Through times and changes and trough struggle and triumph, we have seen many epic moments in history. May it be a revolutionizing war, or an infallible reign of a powerful king, we have seen a plethora of examples of powerful yet influential figures. In history we learned about Hitler and Napoleon, of Aristotle and Confucius, religious prophets of the Middle East and even of people from scientific grounds like Pythagoras and Hippocrates. These people were those who challenged the very belief system of their ancestors, who proceeded to thinking of various possibilities and ideologies that helped shape the time to come. Our very own India was no short of free thinkers and revolutionary individuals.

Being one of the earliest of civilizations, we have contributed to the vast number of theologies and ideologies. And one of the greatest people to have brought about a change mighty enough to shape the very base of ethics of the centuries to come was – Buddha. So often we underestimate the power of ideas. We fail to acknowledge that it was these simple catalysts that have brought enormous change in shaping civilizations as well as their moral ethics. Ways of the old were denounced; disputed and new concepts were brought about. And challenging old ideas was just as prevalent as today.


A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER    

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   FAHIMA ASLAM 

Buddha's life was of vast interest to many historians worldwide. His life was an extraordinary leap of time where he abandoned what was a near fairytale palace life and traveled in search of a wisdom that was almost unheard of. His expedition was nothing short of an enigmatic tale of wonder, a spiritual warrior, and teachings simple but powerful nonetheless. Born as Siddaartha Gautama, he was a prince, born into royalty and to a father who desired nothing less than for him to take the throne and be a great king. So it was prophesied. As a child he once showed a deep contemplation of a simple incident as natural as plowing the soil. His vague but profound reaction to it had deeply concerned his father, for young Gautama was seen troubled by the toil of the farmers and the farm animals (namely the cow). The king was not at ease with this behavior of his son and decided to protect son the harsh realities of this world. The king protected his son from any knowledge of the world outside the palace. Any form of hassle and even aged people were ordered to be seen near the palace. He filled the palace with all the pleasures of luxury and material happiness. But none of this changed or affected his philosophical nature. Neither did the luxuries of the palace life give a sense of fulfillment Some years later, after his marriage, Gautama had set of to wonder about his kingdom and there he came across four triggers that ignited the fire that raged to seek the truth. An aged man, a severely ill one, a dead corpse and a monk who left his worldly desires to seek spiritual fulfillment. With buzzing questions and eagerness to find out the truth about the real world, Gautama set off in search of the truth. Why was there suffering int his word? Why are people born if they had to die? Why did people grow old and why does health deteriorate? Initially he had searched for answers in the divine wisdom that was available to him. He searched in texts that were passed to him, divine Hindu scriptures that were only available to the privileged. This was a knowledge not all had reach to, not for the common man. The spiritual scriptures had not given him an answer to be contented with. He rejected the very


A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER    

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   FAHIMA ASLAM 

teachings of his faith, a knowledge that was sacred and passed on to only those of the high caste. He set off, challenging the old ideas, and on his way he also cut of his long black hair; an identity he wished not to have. “Let the truth be your Lamp,” he said – for truth is something that liberates you. Just like every other spiritualists of that day, Gautama spent his time in meditation. He grew so weak that his frame grew almost fragile. ''I ate so little those days,” he said later, ''that my buttocks looked as knobbly as a camel's hoof, the bones of my spine stuck out like a row of spindles, and my ribs looked like a collapsed old shed.... And much good did it do me.'' He soon gave this practice and traveled far for enlightenment, eventually attaining it when contemplating under a Bodhi tree. And he became Buddha, the enlightened one. “During the course of the night he came up with an idea, a technique for self-knowledge. It was an idea so powerful that it would transform half the world and be spread not by war, violence and coercion, but by curiosity, dialogue and a thirst for knowledge.” - Michael Wood (historian) Buddha continued his travel towards the east. Along the way he acquired a handful of disciples who wished to learn his ways and teachings. They traveled along with him in educating the world to be free from all bonds and struggles. His teaching was simple, “Free yourself from desires. And you can become a liberated human being.” For it is the human desire, the longing for attachment and covetousness to acquire material possessions that lead to suffering. And inner liberation can only be obtained by oneself, by having a deep inner value of self. He traveled preaching for over forty years, traveled without any possessions or money. He begged for alms and traveled on foot. By the end of his time he got about a thousand disciples, and kings and high officials would come to meet this great spiritual leader and learn from him. He was travel ling back to his birthplace at the time of his death and in a forest of Kushinagar, he met his end.


A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER    

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   FAHIMA ASLAM 

Buddha's time was a time of change; not very different from ours. There were a lot of revolutions taking place all over the world. Where Buddha was enlightening the people of the east, there were prophets questioning the ways of the old in the Arab lands. There was Aristotle in the west spreading new ideals of life and perception. Soon after the time of Buddha came Alexander the great, a war hero who had lead one of the best army in the history of the world. He set forth with his army towards the east, conquering all the lands that came in between. Alexander’s conquest with the Persians had brought him to our very own India. And there happened a legendary meeting with the Greek epitome of power and a young lad who soon became one of India's greatest emperors. The young boy was fascinated by the glamour of strength and the display of imperialism by the Greek army. Over time the young boy gained much power, drove out the Greek army and reigned the greatest Empire in the Indian subcontinent. He was none other than Chandragupta Maurya. At the height of his rule, the great king renounced his position and traveled to seek atonement and liberation through truth (moksha) – another great figure who left his palace grounds for the search of enlightenment. Soon to follow him was his grandson, another great king whose ideals had set our nation to a new dimension, Ashoka. Ashoka's role in revolutionizing India's civilization: Ashoka was a great king, a very powerful and ambitious one. He had a history of cruel and ruthless character. He dominated through spreading terror and torture to the ones who disobeyed him. But even he was subject to a drastic change - a change that created a complete new administration and reshaped history in the context of politics. As it has mostly been in the past, the catalyst that brought about this change was war; a great battle with the Kalinga.


A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER    

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   FAHIMA ASLAM 

This war was legendary in every sense, a great conquest it was for Ashoka. The triumph had brought him immense pride, but it had also a drastic change in him. It was the after effects of the war that affected Ashoka the most. It was a hideous massacre; all the killing and loss of lives had deeply moved him. He could not believe the destruction he had brought about for the sake of his on empowerment; Ashoka felt shame and furious about his ways and was disgusted with what he brought about. It was then he struck upon one of the most portentous idea; an universal principle preached by Buddha himself – non-violence. Ashoka turned to Buddhism as a mean of learning a different perspective to life and its bases. This is where he based his administration upon. He ordained non violence and projected laws that were only too rebellious of the old ways in which the government ran. Under his reign we see one of the first instances of secularism, laws against animal cruelty and tolerance for all religions. He dismissed the ruling of empires under a religious ordeal or as a consultation of sorcery and astrology. There were high standards of ethical and moral values set, where everyone was an equal regardless of cast or creed or religion. A rule that preached unity in diversity in a land that was and is an archetype for diversity. He sent ambassadors of peace to other nations towards the west and the east calling them all to his covenant of world peace. Ashoka pioneered an order that we ourselves are still struggling to put into action; a concept that can be seen as a foundation for even today’s prominent association, United Nations. And it is but apt to have his wheel of law on our National Flag. Such were the great influencer's of our nation. Having heard of great powerful men procuring change and order through force and war, here were some of the greatest dominions brought through peace and persuasion. And no better was a bringer of change than Gautama Buddha himself. He was the one who simply sat under a tree, thinking and as a result ended up changing the world. Buddha was a rebel, a propagandist who challenged the ways of his land and questioned the wisdom that was prevalent and believed to be of utmost prominence and


A LAND RADICAL FREE THINKER    

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   FAHIMA ASLAM 

fundamental of faith. In a land of hundreds of gods Buddha's said to believe in none! From a faith where fulfillment of desires was a virtue, he said to have no desires. It was a total shift paradigm. It was a new form of spiritualism where conquest of self was its significant aim and where inner happiness was its penance; a teaching that not only remodeled history at that time, but continued to alter the ways of the world.

Buddhism

spread far and wide and became one of the religions of the world, and Buddha became a world famous personality. But his story remains as a story of India and his life signifies to the power of free thinking. The mind is everything. What you think you become. – Buddha      


THAT WALK TO THE GROCERY STORE                                                                                                                                       ANKEITA PODDAR   

THAT WALK TO THE GROCERY STORE  “With arms wide open, under the sunlight, welcome to this place…” So, here I was back at my home sweet home after a long trip along with my family, and the very next day I had to acknowledge and even accept the Monday morning blues. My mother confirmed it.

A visit to the bazaar, Rina

auntie’s house to drop some eatables, and then to the bank (Yes, my mother thinks I am old enough to take some family responsibilities seriously!). So, I was up to it. A monotonous whining on the road was heard from quite a distance and as I turned to look, it was this rickshaw with vegetables stacked in rags and a man pedaling it hard. I could not make out his possible reason for such pace in the peace and calmness of the morning. I moved on… A few steps forward and in front of me was PoltuTea and Snacks Stall. The roadside stall has been there from my father’s time, but for the first time in my life, I noticed the morning mist settling on the walls of those tinted glass cups and I swear they did break the orderly ice, melting the warm sun rays in those Rs 3. Sips of pleasure! The dark patch of soot formed along that steel kettle was rubbed gently by Poltuda and as he bared those heavenly satisfaction in his eyes. Bliss! The fuming smoke forced its way out from the kettle’s neck and mingled with the crispy, cold air of the morning and made its escape. The refreshing smell and the tempting site, couldn’t be resisted, as I, eventually crossed over towards the stall.


THAT WALK TO THE GROCERY STORE                                                                                                                                       ANKEITA PODDAR 

The hot boiling water was perfectly coupled with the tiny tea leaves.

Romancing sweetly with

sugar and the milk ennobling it, slowly and beautifully it mellowed into a crimson pear, reflecting new desire, new hopes, new morning…and that sunken feeling on consumption. A priceless desire. He has got those rounded, heavy tumbler’s and they contained those nearly extinct bakery biscuit, bapuji fruit cake’, lero’s biscuits…and those vintage silk cream pastries. They were soaked in my childhood memories. Nostalgia cuddled me in colourful tones. Suddenly the many ‘Chotus’ and ‘Minis’ were out on the road. Those eternal peals of laughter in that serene morning I cherished. They have a big heart, they belong to the roads, and they are not the society’s children. Alas! But they were brimming with childhood fancies and their versions of fun and frolic. A useless tyre was back to life… ask them, have they got magic? The morning leisure at a road-side tea stall …ummmmm… is

heavenly..:)

“Paaaperrrrrr…,” he screamed, and how very perfectly he threw that bundle at those verandahs, or get it poked perfectly through the grills. He had one of that morning essentials and his importance is much more than a b’day call or a meeting time confirmation. But alas! The man speeding on his cycle can never gauge his importance…neither does he has the time to stand and measure. As I stood there, waiting for the hot stewing tea, the radio transistor was bashed badly and Poltuda tried to tune in to a fm frequency, turning the knob this way and that. The shriek broke the peace of the morning. But suddenly it got attuned to some frequency and my ears got alerted and then what played, I heard, my heart too sung out loudly,

”Tujhe yaad na meri

ayi,kisise ab kya kehena,dil rooya ki ankh bhaar ayi,kissi se ab kya kehna…” I got deported to my days of innocence, to the days of being a pretty ‘Anjali’, clad in that white suit and that red churni, just being crazy at breaking into a jive.This small corner of the road filled me with momentary pleasures, that little “stand and stare” moment in the early morning hour. The owner boasts of the fact that he is here, in his wooden shanty for the last 22 years and how!!! I have walked this road several times, but maybe I never noticed what’s there lined up along the road. A walk along this road is a part of my 24-hour-day, yet my self-obsessed life never allowed me to extract these ‘free for all’ pleasures in this ‘costly world’. As the kettle goes up, and the tea is poured out into the tea-strainer, coming down as a fall, I notice a head tilt to its right on the other side of the road, as the small boy stared blankly at it, as if his imagination has taken him to a world of possibilities and opportunities.


THAT WALK TO THE GROCERY STORE                                                                                                                                       ANKEITA PODDAR 

How dearly I wanted to possess a pair of eyes like those! Bless those eyes! As the perfectly blended two and a half sips of life, gave that joie de vivre, and yes those angelic eye’s were “stilled” to the art of getting the chai poured in...What he saw? Might be Rapunzel with her crimson long hair:)… These shallow tanned wooden benches, on which I sat to have my tea, had witnessed age-old arguments: political, social, religious views of many unknown local critics, the “aam-admi”. Yes, the common man. I left the tea stall, walked past a shamelessly growing Krishnachura (Peacock flower) tree, which now has a beautiful canopy. In its full bloom it looks just so very gorgeous. In mornings, the road underneath the tree would be strewn with those red flowers, and every day I walked over those, feeling as if someone had laid that red carpet only to receive me. But now it stood like an old haggard, its leaves blackened by all the pollution. I could not stand this and surged ahead. The carpet was not there yet the more I moved ahead, how dearly I missed the carpet and wanted to turn back just in case I could find the carpet from nowhere. And slowly the busy hustle- bustle pelted down as gradually, a vendor had started arranging his fruit’s, another one pulling up the shutters of his shop, murmuring a chant… again this school bus ran past... those smiling faces hovering behind the windows also passed by. “Do rupiya aur do na madam, sabse acchi hai, aur le jao!”...and she shouts, “Nahi, aur ek rupaye? Kitna bhau?” The withered lady behind the heaps of vegetables says, “Madam, hum lutt jayenge.” Yes, again I travel back to reality, the way I know it. On my way, I met some known faces and some unknown but swear, I got the same glare. Peaceful ones. And I knew at heart, I smiled too...It is, as if there is an unwritten change, that when something grows old and dies, something else awakens to replace it. Everything moves around us, while we stay stationery, the rest of the world continues to move ahead. It leaves you in a peaceful moment and longing for more. I had a dreamy drip of my life that morning, I had lived it, was caught up in the moment…eyes closed...and again when it opened…I know I lived... “Har ek lamhe se tum milo,khole apni baahein,har ek pal ek naya sama dikhaye. Jo apni aankho me hairaniyan leke chal rahe ho,toh zinda ho tum,dilo me tum apni betabiyan leke chal rahe ho,toh zinda ho tum……..”  


DEVADASIS – DASIS TO THE DEMONS  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                       KARTIK ARORA  

DEVADASIS: DASIS TO THE DEMONS  Maa ke anchal se reh gayi vanchit Peeda se purna mera chit, Nark yeh duniya, badan ki pyaasi, Peedhi dar peedhi badhti yeh udaasi, Samman, pehchaan ki main abhilashi, Deva- dukhi hai teri devadasi.

I am not much of a poet, yet, in the six lines above, I have tried to explain the pain that has been passed on from generations to generations to the chosen unlucky. From being a sacred practice to a scar to the society, from a beautiful tradition to a disgraceful profession, from being a Devadasi to a prostitute – things have changed manifold, based on what a few humans decided. The practice initially started in ancient India under the patronage of the kings to patronize the traditional arts like dances and music. The Devadasis initially enjoyed high positions; staying within the temple where they would practice and pass on the art forms. These art forms were initially a privilege as only the uppermost echelon who could understand and respect these arts were exposed to them. This is how things continued till about the 18th century when the kings became powerless and could no longer fund the temples and soon the Devadasis started losing their importance. As time passed, man’s respect for these ancient arts was overpowered by his sexual desires and the sacred temple arts were changed to commonplace entertainment. The Devadasis would need money to survive in their society and would use their dance to earn it. This soon assumed a form which was the beginning of prostitution.


DEVADASIS – DASIS TO THE DEMONS  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                       KARTIK ARORA  

The irony of it all is that this is still being practiced in temples across India. The Devadasis are now nothing more than tools for satisfying the physical desires of the so called priests. These Devadasis would end up getting pregnant and hence started the lineage. As time passed, parents would pass on their daughter to temples as a sacrifice, to serve as a Devadasis, as their offering to their God to bless them with a son. These were the times when female infanticide and prostitution was its peak. Females were being looked down upon as nothing more than a burden on the family and as means of entertainment. It didn’t take long for the Devadasis were now means of general entertainment. What is most appalling is the fact that things did not change. Girls who were born to Devadasis would be automatically subjected to the same fate. The Devadasis lost their right to have a life. They could never enjoy a personal life or a relationship that would give them happiness. As fate would have liked to have it the same men who drove the Devadasis into prostitution would go on to ban them from the society and take away their right to live.

I happen to live in Karnataka and also happen to have very interesting journalist friends. One such friend Su was doing a documentary on Devadasis and this was the time when I became aware of such a tradition in India. The government would tell you the tradition was eradicated in 1988, yet it is being practiced in more than 25 places in India. I came across the interview of one such female, a Devadasi, and this is what she had to say, “We live a life worse than that of a prostitute’s. We were never given a chance to improve our life, our paths had been chosen for us and we could do nothing about it. We are not allowed to love, have a family and have to continue with this profession for our survival.” On being asked why the reply was simple, “The scar is now too deep to erase, it goes back a long time and it’s just the way things have always been. We have to be Devadasis now in these times when there is no Deva. We would never be accepted as equals in the society even if we tried to.”


DEVADASIS – DASIS TO THE DEMONS  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                       KARTIK ARORA  

The biggest blow came when a court in India refused to recognize the marriage of a Devadasis as a legal marriage. Such blindfolded we are by religion, that law takes a secondary place more than often. Neither the court nor the society recognised the marriage and hence the groom was remarried, leaving the girl alone to go back into the darkness of the world she felt she would escape from. There are many cases where you would find them making efforts to live a normal life. In their search to satisfy both their need for love and acceptance, many Devadasis lead lives away from men they love. These men have families both with them and away from them and the Devadasis very well know they could never have the same respect a wife would get. They live such lives because they know it’s the only chance their children have to make it out of the mess.

“It’s not easy for our children to see us doing these things, many a times my son would come back angry and crying asking why I gave birth to him when I knew I could never take care of him or never tell him who his father is. I have no answers to his questions, yet I know this way I can pull him out of this mess,” one of the Devadasis had said. Their lives have now become a punishment from a privilege; they are still there hanging on the hope that the same men who put them into this predicament would accept them as equals one day and they would have in this free world -- the right to live. The day when the government refuses to admit that this tradition still exists is right now far from near. Till that day, the Devadasis are still tied to the bondage of the “temple” and pray to the same deva who seems to have forgotten them.  


AN ENCOUNTER WITH A GUIDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         NISHTHA LOHANI 

                 AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE GUIDE  When I discovered a harsh underbelly I never knew, through the eyes of my guide 10 March 1984 Today, the almighty blessed me the life of a human, on the contrary, to my parents, another burden. Yes! Our family was poor and could barely manage a proper meal each day. And in such a scenario, I was indeed another child to take care of. However, they did their best to assure I get what I needed, for the next few years. 10 march 1990 Exactly 6 years ago from this day, I was born. Today, I know who my mother is, my father is. It was my birthday! Like any other child, I was super excited! I was unaware of what was awaiting … it was perhaps the worst gift anyone could ever get. At around 2 in the afternoon, in the scorching heat, I heard some noises from outside. It was my uncle's family who had come over. I was told to go out and play with my cousins, while my parents yapped for about 10 minutes, with my uncle’s family. That ten minutes chat was to change my life forever. Whatever few torn clothes, second hand books I had … my mother began to pack 'em up in a bed sheet. Tying one corner of the sheet to the one opposite to it, and the 3rd corner to the 4th. By now, she had begun to shed a few tears, but within moment gathered herself. My mother hugged me tightly, I could feel her warmth (not knowing I'd never be able to feel it ever again), handed over the sheet to me and told me I was supposed to spend the next few day at my uncle's house. What fun! “YAY,” I exclaimed! I knew my uncle was much more well off than we were and I was about to have a gala time for the next few days. After all, it meant proper meals, lots of play!


AN ENCOUNTER WITH A GUIDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         NISHTHA LOHANI 

13 may 1991 I was washing the utensils, when a glass slipped off and broke into several small pieces and a few big ones. I heard my aunt shout, "You are good for nothing!" By now, it was crystal clear to me, I was SOLD, yes sold by my parents for some money. By now, I was used to regular verbal and physical violence I faced from my aunt. Besides badmouthing and beating me, she used to engage me in household and petty work while my cousins went to a local school for basic education. At the age of 8, it was pretty natural for a dark skinned, lean boy, perpetually dressed in that torn white vest and brown shorts – work all the time. This made my uncle and aunt cuss me several times in a day. Initially, I loosened myself up by shedding tears for nights, but a time came, when my tears literally dried up. And I accepted the harsh reality. A lot of times, the thought of running away popped in my mind, but I never had the courage to. Besides, I had decided I will NEVER face my parents ever again. And there was no place I could go to. But today, an unusual strength built up in me, and I had an immense urge to run away. Without much ado, while no one was at home, with absolutely no money, I ran away. I ran away in my torn white vest and brown pair of shorts. 2 hours later I was standing at the Kanpur Central railway station. Since I had no money to buy the ticket, I decided to board whichever train I could and hid myself in the train's washroom so that the TC or the police couldn’t get hold of me. During the journey, several times someone knocked on the door, and each time I got hell scared of getting caught and hence, I didn’t dare to open the door. Again, someone knocked and went on knocking repeatedly. I got curious to know who it was so I slightly opened the door and quickly shut it. Phew! I sighed! It was just an old lady who wanted to use the washroom. I opened to door for her and when she was done, in a flash, I locked myself up inside until the train stopped. When I got down, I had no clue as to WHERE I was going to land up, WHAT will I be doing, HOW WILL I SURVIVE? I had no answer to any of my questions.


AN ENCOUNTER WITH A GUIDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         NISHTHA LOHANI 

My stomach was as empty as a newly made bag! I began to cry. Just then, a boy in a torn black shirt, full of dust, noticed me. He was of about the same age as I was and sold water bottles at the station. He offered me a roll to eat, and when I was done, he got me an old torn tee. I stayed with him and in the evening, taught me the 3 steps to earn: When the train arrives, 1. Get in! 2. Collect the empty water bottles 3. Fill them up with the tap water available at the station premises and then, sell it for 5 bucks! We did it together; we ate together; we played together! He was a savior! He gave me a whole new life. Just when I thought my life was gaining momentum, we were caught by the police and put behind the bars. Why? 'cause it was illegal to sell anything without any permit. They'd let us out in 2 weeks and imprisoned us again after 1 month, this time for 4 weeks. This time, when we were set free, we decided to quit the water job. Instead, we started cleaning inside the train. People gave us whatever they'd wish to. From stealing money, snatching stuff and running away, to smoking fags & drugs et al became a part of our daily routine. For 5 YEARS we did the same. This way, I alone managed to make around 50 rupees a day. I spent them all the same day 'cause: A. If my fellow mates at the station found out I had made some money, they would threaten me with knives blades etcetera and take away my money, and, B. By now, I was addicted to drugs. I bought them and I'd spent the rest on food. One fine day, I heard about one of the contact points of Salaam Baalak Trust. I was urged to join their shelter homes where I would be provided with food education & shelter of course! “But, I refused! Shelter home mein toh DAL milegi hum toh yahaan biryani khate hain!”


AN ENCOUNTER WITH A GUIDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         NISHTHA LOHANI 

However, I had a keen interest to study, hence, whenever I felt like, I went there for the same. Sooner or later, I realized my aunt used to rightly say, "You are good for nothing!" All these 5 years, I've resorted to all the bad things. But I decided to clean my act and I joined the shelter home. I stayed there, studied, and worked hard, learned English. Who am I? . . . My name is Brijesh. 13 July 2010 Today, my hard work has paid off. I'm currently pursuing a course in Travel and Tourism and I hope to become an entrepreneur in the same field some day. 16 July 2011 I am studying in US on a scholarship because I want to learn how to open my own tourism agency. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"Err… My life sucks!" "I doubt if God exists, and if he does, why doesn't he have pity on me?" "Why me? Always?" Yes! Most of us, at some point in our lives, have said something similar. Haven't we? And why? Perhaps 'cause … "I flunked my exam dude! I'm going to commit suicide. Or wait, my parents are gonna kill me anyway!" "Bloody ****, I saw her with this another guy! She ruined my life" "Today I lost whom I can't even begin to imagine life without."


AN ENCOUNTER WITH A GUIDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         NISHTHA LOHANI 

All of us often crib about our lives, how worse could it get? And as if God is being cruel to me, while that jackass is having all the fun! Hang on in there! Not that I don't do the same, of course I have, in the past! But, amidst all of this, I was fortunate to have an encounter with a certain person, which changed me as a person. It did! My friends and I, had been literally craving to visit a NGO, for some time now. So, with the help of favorite teacher, Ms Shalini, we chalked out the NGO- Salaam Baalak Trust and planned a school trip for our batch lined up for July 13, last year. As it is, nocturnal much I be, and the excitement of going there, resulted in keeping me wide awake imagining how it will be the next morning, google-ing related stuff … in short staying awake most of the night. Suddenly, I saw a ray of bright light enter my room through the window. Yes, it was the crack of dawn. Whoa! The usual routine of getting ready for school followed. Just as we reached school, we boarded the bus to visit the NGO. And then the much awaited city walk (the city walk is a tour through the station making us familiar with the life of children living on the station. It was across enchanting streets of the inner city of Paharganj and the New Delhi railway Station area) started about which none of us had much idea about. And that’s when I met Brijesh Bhaiya. Before I called the day off that day, I brainstormed for over 2 hours. Often more than not, all of us like to crib about something or the other. But, how many times do we take a minute to thank the almighty for the ways he has blessed us? Do you ever think whether you will be able to get the next meal or not? No, you don't! Did you have to earn for your living at the age of 8? No, you didn’t! Were you SOLD by your parents? No, you weren't.And yet, you like to blame them, don't you?


AN ENCOUNTER WITH A GUIDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         NISHTHA LOHANI 

Next time, think before you say… "Mom! YIKES! How bad could this DAL taste? " "Dad! I want a new Ipod! My friend got one, too" "I haven't been on a vacation this summer. My parents don't love me." "Give me a break you both! It's MY life. You have no right to interfere in my personal matters." Thank them. Tell them, how much you love them and care for them. Thank the almighty for the luxuries and comforts made available to you even when you didn't do anything to deserve it.

 


THE SUNNY DAYS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

RAVI ASWANI 

THE SUNNY DAYS Indian Sports fraternity, in those days, had started to lose their obsession with Hockey which

over

the

years

had

captured

the

imagination of the common man. Cricket, on the other hand, was a wicked game, restricted only to towns like Bombay and Delhi, still trying to find its place among the masses. The Indian team, back then, were perennial under-achievers who could only perform well under home conditions. They looked vulnerable on bouncier tracks and seaming conditions. The Indian team touring West Indies in 1971, apart from bitter memories of the past, had little experience to deal with such situations. Moreover, the towering pace bowlers of the West Indies only added to our miseries. In such conditions, even without adequate protective gear, a 5’5 Mumbaikar made his debut in the second test at Port of Spain, where he helped India register its first win in the Caribbean. He finished that series with an impressive total of 774 runs at the astronomical average of 154.80 with four centuries. India won its first test series in the Caribbean 1-0. Apart from the records, it was his dominance of the formidable pace quartet of the West Indies that spoke tonnes of promise about this 21 year old. The legend had arrived.


THE SUNNY DAYS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

RAVI ASWANI 

Sunil Gavaskar had got the cricket pundits talking about his flawless technique and patience. He had taken a special affinity for the faster bowlers, especially the West Indies’ pace battery and his slow and steady approach would run them out of patience. There was always a predominant opinion, and perhaps still is, about the Indian tem that it struggles against faster bowlers on away soil. Indians have always been good players of spin. Gavaskar was among the first to change this stereotype and at times, single handily gave India some of its memorable wins outside the subcontinent. This was the beginning of a transitional phase in Indian Cricket, which saw Indian team avoiding defeats and readily settling for draws. Gavaskar’s innings laid the foundation of Indian attack and the entire team seemed to be playing all around him. Indian cricket had also started to acquire its fan base back home and the 1983 World Cup that changed the dimensions of the game in the country. Gavaskar had already carved his niche in Indian cricket and was talked about as being one of the greatest to have played the game. He set new benchmarks for world Cricket which were unachievable until someone from his own backyard went on to surpass them. I would not talk about records and statistics for a change. He had plenty of those in his kitty. But there was something more valuable he possessed, which I feel, many players of today, lack. It is the elegance, the perfect mind and body coordination and the shear class in every cricket shot he played. He was a living cricket textbook with all the possible strokes from the coaching manual and execution, it was graceful and a treat to watch, a reminiscence of him could still be seen in Dravid and Tendulkar. The late flick and the latecut which he mastered to perfection, are now extinct from Indian Cricket. His records speak volumes about his abilities, but it was his temperament and immense focus that stood out among all other qualities. Cricket was an art in those days, and Gavaskar, arguably its greatest exponent. Your uncles would keep telling you that the modern day cricket has seen a lot of developments and the game is no longer about elegance and patience. The generation that saw Gavaskar bat would always point that out when they see the Kohlis, the Vijays and the Pathans rushing into their shots and struggling with short deliveries, these two qualities do come back to haunt us. Maybe, these players could do with a little bit of advice from Gavaskar!


THE SUNNY DAYS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

RAVI ASWANI 

Gavaskar hung his boots in 1987, ending one of the finest chapter in Cricket history. Shortly thereafter, within a span of two years, India was blessed with a perfect replacement when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar made his debut in 1989. Today, Gavaskar can be seen in the commentary box, keeping a close eye on the game. Occasionally, he could also be seen at the nets sharing his experience with the younger players. We all saw the evidence of his modest and down to earth attitude when he sheltered a Muslim family during the communal riots in Bombay, no wonder he still enjoys the same national icon status that he enjoyed during his prime. So next time when you see your uncles comparing Gavaskar with the today’s generation, don’t blame them, it’s just that they had been fortunate enough to witness something really special. Giving him openings slot in the ICC all time eleven is just a small tribute to this little master- A true exponent of the gentlemen’s game and a gentlemen par excellence in real life.  


THE SWEETEST VOICE   

 

 

 

                                                                                   AASHISH ARYAN 

 

THE SWEETEST VOICE  This I had heard a lot of times, but never realized until that day, when I went over to Mr Verma’s house for a cup of tea. He had one of the most beautiful lawns in the locality and everyone envied (read: jealous) him. Beautiful house, a seven figure paycheque and what else could life give! He was happy. And that day, when I went over to his house, for that little tea party that only I was attending, I learnt something. Mr and

Mrs

Verma

were

couple

with

golden heart. Everything, right from tea kettle to the cookies was arranged so beautifully, that I was embarrassed. But the heart consoled me “Dude! You are a bachelor! No worries.” And we were sipping tea, and discussing things when a commotion was overheard. The children were fighting each other and hurling abuses at each other.The couple tried to ignore until the sound glass break came. They looked at each other and then at me! And Mrs Verma spoke, “Oh! These kids, they keep fighting each other.” She tried to smile but was clearly embarrassed. Hurried, she went inside and came out with them. They came tugging along with her, pushing and pulling each other. The four kids and their mother sat down. Everything was calm now, rather an air of uneasiness prevailed. Mr Verma sensed this and tried to change the topic.


THE SWEETEST VOICE   

 

 

 

                                                                                   AASHISH ARYAN 

“Pinki, why don’t you show uncle your painting? I am sure he will love them.” he quipped. She twitched her face and went inside. She was the eldest. He then turned to his elder son and said, “Beta, show uncle your stories. He is a writer. He will help you write better.” That instruction was also duly followed. The third, son, followed his elder brother without waiting for his father to speak. Everyone sat silent, expecting the show stoppers to arrive any moment. Only the youngest daughter, a kid of eleven kept sitting there. I wondered why she was not told to showcase her talent for the guest. She had that divine peace on her face and a beautiful smile when I turned to her, expecting her to react. Mrs Verma noticed that .She said “Oh! Fiza does not have any special talent as such. She is deaf and dumb. We do not pressurize her for learning skills.” That churned my stomach. I knew the girl was differently abled, but never expected to face it that way. The kids came out, and each one had something to explain, some buttering to do and some logic to put forward to me. The youngest sibling, the girl, was in a world of her own, seeing things closely, speaking through her eyes. Soon the commotion over and the tea party done, everyone got up and the usual bye-bye was followed. Something inside me was unhappy. And then I realized, she had the sweetest voice of them all. True she did not speak, but her words did not hurt anyone. And indeed, silence is golden.      


TUESDAY WITH MORRIE  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

KARTHIK ARORA 

TUESDAY WITH MORRIE  I have learnt from life that it’s always better to have a mentor, a Guru; it just makes life much much easier. A lot of people would disagree with it, they might give it a religious bent or they might despise spirituality. I obviously feel otherwise. I am lucky enough to have found my Guru; one who always guides me. It hardly matters to me what others feel about this. Once upon a time, a friend of my father had decided he can guide me. He who would go on to give me long pieces of advice on shaping my life and even though I am a decent actor; I cannot fake involvement in what he was saying. So guess what he concludes? “Your son needs help,” he told my father. It was very much like one of those filmy moments when the doctor breaks the news, “Aapke bete ko … *dhan dhan dhan*… aapke bete ko * dhum tana nanana dhum tana nanana* …. bukhaar hai!” I, in my mind imagined my parents go, “Nahin!Nahin! Nahin!” The whole scene was amusing only to me while my parents made an issue of what he said. To help me, he recommended a bunch of self-help books. My father got me one of those; Robin Sharma’s Who will cry when you die?


TUESDAY WITH MORRIE  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

KARTHIK ARORA 

I did go through it because the name was interesting, yet I have no clue whether anyone will cry or not. Nevertheless, there was a certain recommendation Sharma made in that book of his. One was a book – Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The name instantly struck a chord and I got that book after a lot of searching. I had never heard of it before; nor read about it yet there was something in the name itself that made me want to read it and I did read it The book is not just a book to read, this one my friends, is a keeper. You should buy it, read it, keep it. This is one book which you can refer to at any other point of time whenever you are in doubt. Be it family, love, relationships, career, culture, emotions or any other issue on this earth that you might be dealing with; trust me, this one has your answers. The book deals with these intricate issues in a very delicate way yet in a manner simple to relate to. Tuesdays with Morrie is based on the real life experiences of Morrie Schwartz, a professor at Brandeis University and his relationship with his student Mitchell Albom. Morrie at the age of 78 is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) an incurable disease and gradually as his body started giving away his outlook to life took a new turn and things became clearer to him as life dimmed. Morrie had a fresh outlook to death as he had accepted it as being inevitable and even as he was going he would be a constant source of inspiration to many. Morrie, in his last days would take out time to give to other people, to love. As he says in the book, Love each other or perish. In his last days as all of life and death unwind in front of him, knowledge starts to dawn upon him. He would share it with others in his last days. He catches the eye of Ted Koppell, a producer who comes to interview Morrie and this interview catches the eye of his favourite and lost student Mitch Albom. Albom remembers the time when he had told Morrie that he would stay in touch but when he sees the news of Morrie’s ailment he realizes how much life had changed in the last 16 years.


TUESDAY WITH MORRIE  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

KARTHIK ARORA 

Albom starts to reflect upon his own life, how he had lost contact with his brother, how he would neglect his family, how he started off being a pianist but his uncle’s untimely death scarred him and he then started to pursue money instead of his passion so that when death comes, he would not regret making most of his life, yet in all this hustle he had indeed missed life itself. Soon these questions start troubling Albom and he knew where to go for answers – to Morrie. Albom remembers how close he had been to Morrie once, how Marrie had become a father figure to him. He remembered Morrie crying when he had graduated. He remembered those discussions with Morrie about life and how he would guide him. He visits Morrie at his home, where he is instantly recognized. Albom talks to him and realizes how his “Coach” had not changed over the ears and after so long he felt the same comfort in talking to him. Morrie asks Albom to visit him every Tuesday because that was the day in college when they would sit together after hours. They were the Tuesday People as he would like to call it for he wanted to do with his student a last thesis, the last lesson where he would teach about life. Albom wrote down the various problems his generation was facing like family, marriage, commitment, fear of aging, dealing with emotions; and Morrie would have answers to all his doubts. He would answer them with such simplicity that Is unimaginable. Morrie to me represents someone whom I can confide in everything easily, all my doubts, fears and I would know that they would be cleared and in Albom I could see a lot of myself and I am sure everyone will. Morrie is also a source of inspiration in the way he accepted death; with grace, humility and warmth. He would answer all the letters written to him in his last days, he would listen to people like he did before even though he0 was dying. He would always give to the society even till the time he died.


TUESDAY WITH MORRIE  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

KARTHIK ARORA 

I’ll quote from the book: Mitch Albom: What would you do if you had one day of all health ? Morrie : I would wake up perfectly healthy, go out and have a walk because I haven’t for long seen the flowers outside, have a hearty lunch, meet my old friends in the evenings and talk to them like I always used to listen to them, I haven’t been able to do like that for a while now. I would go and dance in the night with any and everyone and come back and sleep painlessly. Mitch: That’s It ? I thought you would do more elaborate things, like going to Italy. Morrie: Not until you are in my position do you realize the importance of simple things around you. That window holds much more value to me than to you. It’s my only connection to the world. The book was a brilliant read and by the end of it I had a big lump in my throat. I couldn’t let go of it till it was over. As for the way it’s written – the simplicity and language are unparallel and even though I have written a couple of pages about it here I feel I haven’t done justice to it because the book is about much more than what you see here - it’s like the entire theory of life in 192 pages. I strongly recommend this book to everyone. Morrie passed away yet his lessons of life were compiled by Mitch Albom on Morrie’s wishes and published. The amount of money that came from the publishers helped Morrie’s family to bear the expenses of his medicines. Morrie chose the place where he would love to cremated and buried. He tells Albom to come there every Tuesday as the routine was and to talk to him. Albom says it wouldn’t be the same to which Morrie replies, “For the first time, you will speak and I will listen.” The book is not just about life; it’s also about one of the most beautiful and under rated relationships, that of a teacher and a student. An advice to all who have found such teachers in their life – never let go of them. As Mitch Albom puts it in the end, “The class is over, yet the lesson goes on.”


IDIOCY UNLIMITED 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

SRISHTI MALVIYA 

IDIOCY UNLIMITED   Indian television never fails to surprise. A few years back, as a certain benevolent maa waddled across the telly screen trying to resolve a vast array of familial tribulations, in a show aptly titled to indicate the formidable mother-in-law’s not-sopretty past, I decided that Indian television must have reached its ultimate low point. As it turns out now, I was wrong. The small screen entertainment scene of today has degraded to despicable levels with shows that have even the most resilient of the telly freaks, like myself, are begging for a break – albeit a commercial one. Left with no option we have to scurry over to the realm of Western Television for some invariably American relief. Indian TV has seen far more memorable times than now. A long time back, shows like Ramayana and Mahabharata dictated the Sunday routine of most Indians. As the story goes, streets would become empty and life would come to a standstill during the time slots they were aired. Soap operas like Hum Log and Buniyaad captured the struggles and aspirations of the average Indian, and made TV watching a very personal experience. Then there were serials like Fauji and Circus which launched the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, into stardom. TV, in those earlier times was much bigger than the saas-bahu sagas or the wannabe starlets. TV watching was a social activity that brought everyone closer, unlike at present where everyone has a TV to their name in the seclusion of their private space. Doordarshan was the TV viewers’ only refuge, but it had people glued to its programs instead of madly flipping across infinite channels in search of something worth watching. It provided a platform for talented artists, whose memorable


IDIOCY UNLIMITED 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

SRISHTI MALVIYA 

performances have remained with the people for over two decades. Most TV actors now are simply forgettable. So….what went wrong? My first guess would be the obvious absence of even a hint of realism in any of the shows today. The idyllic Tulsi maiyyas may have been replaced with the supposedly more real Balika Vadhus and Laados, but the blinding costumes, deafening background score and dizzying camerawork remain. So much for reality. Soap operas in the past have been successful in striking a balance between entertaining and keeping it real. Instead of forcing down our throats an idealized and greatly oppressive portrayal of the great Indian woman, family, marriage and values, shows like Tara, Saans and Shanti presented their audiences with strong lead women who were not burdened with tonnes of jewelry and make-up and who did not break down into inconsolable tears at the drop of a hat. There were no incoherent dialogues, no irrational ‘Indian’ claims and no horrid conniving women who have Countess Dracula turning in her grave these days. Indian soap operas also seem to be stuck in a time warp today. A middle aged morality, despite its gaping flaws, is being sold to the audiences while bolder themes are being shied away from. Shows claiming to unabashedly fight the evil social operators of caste, child marriage, and female feticide, among others seem to run for eternity, complete with generation leaps, forced weddings and an unyielding antagonist, and they eventually end up losing their purpose, if they had any at all to begin with. A lesson or two may be learnt from ahead-of-their-time shows like Shanti, Tara, Kurukshetra and Hasratein, which dealt with unquestioningly intrepid issues in the most mature manner, running for clearly defined durations. The comedy scene is simply tragic. The serious laughs elicited by shows like Dekh Bhai Dekh, Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai and Khichdi seem to be ancient history. In the name of humour we have a range of stand up comedy shows whereby the awful gags of the participants involuntarily activate the viewers’ gag reflex while the mad guffaws of the judges have them seething with murderous rage. Somewhere in the middle of this internal and external chaos, the point of comedy is defeated. Attempts at sitcoms in recent times have failed too, owing largely to clichéd situations and jokes.


IDIOCY UNLIMITED 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

SRISHTI MALVIYA 

The gradual demise of reason and fun on television is further fuelled by the recent reality TV boom which has sent the junta into frenzy with children, youngsters, starlets, criminals, all clamoring for their fifteen seconds of fame. A bunch of bumbling bird-brained buffoons are summoned by producers, purportedly to entertain and inadvertently irk the viewers with their antics, complete with tears, screams, catfights and voting lines. The ‘reality’ quotient of these shows is undoubtedly questionable. The days of simpler reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma and Kaun Banega Crorepati are apparently over. While the former has changed its name to Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, the additional note coming at the additional cost of heightened melodrama and one judge’s frantic demands for the participants’ roti, the latter seems to be left with few takers. Unfortunately, even genuine talent loses its value when accompanied by avoidable drama. Then there is a whole other side to reality TV which is targeted towards the youth of the country. Shows like Splitsvilla, Emosonal Attyachar, Superstud, Axe-ur-Ex, fall in this category and can be best described as perverse, scripted and well rehearsed. If these shows represent India’s youth, as they often assert, then fame hungry dullards who swear incessantly and are basically just raging idiots would comprise India’s younger generation. Clearly the producers do not have even the slightest inkling of what is actually going on among the country’s youth and such shows are way off in making claims at reality. Roadies, which started off as a very novel concept, could have made an exception here, had it not steadily declined over the years in terms of its content. It has become as dramatic and unreal as any other show with participants conspiring like soap opera vamps right from the word go. A participant lying about the death of his own mother to win over the judges was sad at best and disgusting at worst. In this manner, TV today presents an undeniable irony – it has most of us cringing when it should actually be entertaining. Arguably, advertisements are the best part of most of what TV has to offer. Depraved lunacy seems to be the order of the day with creativity and variety having become elements of fiction in the industry. The glycerin industry will surely disagree with me, however, as the infinitude of misery on TV has propelled it smack into the midst of its Golden Age.


OPEN CONFESSIONS OF MY FIRST LOVE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                      PRATIMA LABROO 

 

Open Confessions of my first love March 2009, Night ...the moon in the sky calls out to you, thinking of you. I can hear it. Can't you? I think you can't. Aching as my heart is, yours is strangely calm. The sky feels dark and heavy with passion, as my mind is, when I see you. Can't you see it in my eyes! I am sure you can't. 'Coz restless as my soul is for you, you don't seem to need me. Like the moon you hide and yet, my eyes search for you. In this beautiful night I see myself flying in an unknown realm... I feel things I hadn't before. Nature seems unsettled, moving in a strange direction. I move with it, even when I know I won’t attain fulfillment. Sitting under this beautiful star shady sky, don't you get a longing in your heart for someone? The lightening

and

the

thunder;

though

soundless, echo in my heart... You say these are just scenes in a beautiful night.. I say, nothing could be more alive than this. The bright moon which glides in and out of vision behind the dark clouds makes my heart beat quicker... and these stars shaded with screen of smoke... all these make me think of you! And I wish there was nothing else in this world, except you, me and this intimate moment… Late April 2009, Evening Windstorm is building up...... about to rain..! It happened in the blink of an eye, like the flashing light in the sky. I was calm at that moment but my heart felt a sharp pang. It was as if your gaze sucked out the air from inside. Each thunder and lightning that struck in the sky took my breath away. I thought I could fly and soar high, but my heart felt lonely and I wanted your hand to take me there. I


OPEN CONFESSIONS OF MY FIRST LOVE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                      PRATIMA LABROO 

  wanted your eyes to arrest mine and take me to your world for once. You didn't feel anything, did you? You were calm and silent just like this starless sky; and crept into my mind… teasing me. The violent wind echoed my feelings of wistfulness... Like the moon you stay away and then enter my life again…like that of moon, I await your arrival, just to say that... I missed you. May 2009, Night IF I LOVED YOU… In this icy cold night, my heart is warm….Your voice is caressing me like this soft breeze that’s touching my face... my eyes are closed ‘coz I just want to feel and not perceive…. your song sounds like that early morning shower which only those can experience who are lucky enough to wake up early (in my case stay up until late). I don’t think…I just can’t think. It’s so magical! I speak before I even know what I’m about say…and it starts…! Or ends..! Early July 2009 The stars are not looking at me… the sky isn’t talking to me! Nature is so quiet yet I am in such turmoil… How I wish it would rain tonight… “Why and why not...try and not to try… being right or wrong... long have I thought of these things. Then I took a decision. I am not saying this for you; I am saying this for myself..!” Was it really for ‘myself’! Still it had to be done… It didn’t rain, it was so damn quiet, I wished the wind would howl and rant. July 2009 Arrival of monsoon….the late night rain shower is stirring something inside my heart! It’s this combination of night and rain!! Have I forgotten…No! You are always around, somewhere in the distance! Your presence is like the rain… washing away my worries, my sorrow, drenching me in your very essence and soothing me… I am in the right place again; it is monsoon after all…


OPEN CONFESSIONS OF MY FIRST LOVE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                      PRATIMA LABROO 

  August 2009, Night Lying under the night sky I miss your presence. It's cold and beautiful... I can hear your voice from somewhere far away; and I smile within my heart... I call out to you, did you hear me? You are here, I feel it. But there is a longing in my heart, I yearn to see you and touch your face; like this cool breeze touched me, and ease your pain. I know you are here, but still, I wish to look into your eyes just this once and kiss you till I feel eternity... October 2009 “Having grown too used to always watching but pretending not to, I lost sight of you today, without a pattern, I was severely ashamed of myself over your kind words… The sky doesn't have even a single cloud in it, so clear That it's like I can peek across to the other side of the horizon At this point, it looks like I can mingle with you without showing off The time that I could call you my lover, I could file onto a single speck of stardust…” January 2010 How often had I tried to say important things? But the breath I inhaled got stuck partway through my chest? What sort of words should I impart to you? The voice I spat out always got interrupted partway. I'll gaze at you without running away, just this once! On nights when I'm randomly serious, somehow I'm about to cry. Goodbye! I am sorry! August 2010 I thought I saw u…And you held my gaze like nothing else. Why was it different! It felt like summer rain and this feeling welled up in me. Tonight I look at the moon hiding behind the clouds, making them shine silver. It’s such a beautiful scene. My heart calls out to you. I wish I could share the beauty of this moment with you. In this silent night, hear nothing but your heartbeat and your steady breathing…and marvel in this closeness! December 2010 “It would be nice if we could put away and throw out everything except what really mattered, but reality is just cruel”


OPEN CONFESSIONS OF MY FIRST LOVE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                      PRATIMA LABROO 

  January 2011 .... Imagining the starry sky..!! …your kindness, your smiling face, your embarrassed face! You have been my favorite person. I didn't understand the feeling known as love …that moment in time, when you told me you'll never forget taught me it’s meaning. This rain is letting up and I want to soak myself in this dark cold sky so that my heart can find its ‘right’ place. I am looking the other way now. I have to. I hope this view isn't so bad..! I am so sorry. April 2011 Was

it

just

an

idea

or

was

it

real!

In

a

place

of

no

one

I

was

yours...

You and me! So close like a kiss yet not near. There was nothing else but a feeling and I wanted so much more... your embrace, your loving... Be near you more than anyone else…for a first time of everything, wanted to be with you. I missed you, like rain without beautiful music of the rain drops... But, circumstances changed…Was it my weakness or selfishness, I do not know! Just this once, I wish I could see you, make you listen to my heart, hold your face in my hands, look into your eyes and let you know all my secrets... What do I want now?! Nothing at all…The moon is behind the clouds, and…for the first time I wish, it would stay hidden... May 2011 The wind feels just like that night two years ago... And while listening to the beautiful melody of ‘Winter birds’ by Ray LaMontagne… I do have words to write for you and things to say to you.... yet I don’t! I can’t! We will get on with our life. Time will pass. But, I will certainly remember you and think of you… Hope you are not lonely or hurt. Are you smiling at this moment? Are you well and happy? Let the unspoken words be lost in the wind for now!


THIS OR THAT  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         SMRITI AGARWAL 

THIS OR THAT  Samarth and Rubina sat at the corner most table in the library, lost in a deep conversation. It looked more like an argument, rather. There was half a glass of water kept in between them, on the table. “It’s half full Samarth, please stop cribbing,” said Rubina, in a hushed but angry tone. They had gone to the canteen to ask for water and the man at the counter gave them only half a glass of it. Samarth was irritated because he wanted more but the problem was that there was no water in the taps that day. Rubina was asking Samarth to look at the positive side of it, “At least you got half a glass of it,” she had said. A young teacher who had come there to look for some books overheard this conversation and walked up to them. She asked them if she could join the party and on their consent, sat at the table. She explained to them that looking at the glass in a way that it is either half empty or half full is a matter of perception. “Rubina is just being optimistic about it while Samarth, you are thinking about it like a pessimist. Neither of you are wrong because different people envision the same thing in varied ways,” she said. They both looked at her waiting for her to elaborate on that. “Perception is an outcome of your learning. It comes with time and understanding. One’s perceptions are their own and nothing about them is right or wrong. Perception is very subjective,” the teacher said. She went ahead and said, “Let me explain to you how perceptions vary from people to people with this.” She put forward a few answer sheets. They looked at her quixotically. “I


THIS OR THAT  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         SMRITI AGARWAL 

gave my class a poem in their exam this semester and asked them to write how they perceived it. Let us go through a few answers together…” And so they read the poem together: This or That Between salt water and sea strands Beyond crashing waves and white sands There stood a solitary elm tree Which provided shade to many, Guarding an unmarked grave of A poor soul that washed ashore. The passersby ignored the grave, They walked right by it, what a shame Nobody interested in the escapades of this soul, All bothered about their own. Toils of time have left nothing but downcast eyes, bowed back, Creating vacant glances that see nothing but the same, Flogged shoulders can do no more than mourn its own. But the world is full of problems not just their own. Toils of time have lessons to learn. Flogged shoulders ain't no justification, Look around, there is no fortification. Such phrases of passion show no compassion, Grinding waves crush rubble to sand finer and finer, Stepping out of the bubble ain't no vacation. Break the bubble, go on a vacation, Welcome a change; don't shut the door at its face. I’ll one time for bed, the sounds of ocean sooth a lullaby, Let the worries be not and be gone and for now we close this case.


THIS OR THAT  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         SMRITI AGARWAL 

They then read what different people had to say about that poem: My mother always told me “Life is not a bed of roses; there are thorns along the way.” This I feel is rather debatable because I was also told that life is how WE want it to be. Yes, it does not come easy but let’s not play the blame game. This poem was written with a conflict in the poet’s mind. It is a fight in itself, an attempt to justify the selfishness of humankind. The poet talks about a solitary elm tree beyond the crashing waves. Between ‘salt water’ and ‘sea strands’ is like being stuck between two extreme emotions. The tree was guarding an unmarked grave while the people just walked passed it, too busy to stop by and look. This signifies how fast the world is moving today without having the time to sit and think about the happenings. It is sad how we always blame our circumstances for our insensitivity or ill behavior. We sit by and watch, we feel bad for a while and then forget about it. I was looking out of my window the other day and saw that a cat had pounced on a little bird, hoping to eat her up. The bird was crying in pain and the next thing I know another bird swoops down and tries to free the little one from the cat’s mouth. Even these small creatures teach us the lesson of brotherhood, then why do we not learn? Why are we so caught up in our own problems that we forget to look around and spread some cheer or even bother to ask the other person about their life? The poet urges us to do that more often. Let us not be so stuck up. Our own good deeds can act as a lullaby for a peaceful sleep and a cheerful smile on the face of the world There always comes a time when one feels stuck amidst varied emotions.- to feel happy or sad, to be or not to be, to stand up or ignore but we need to take a strict decision and put up a brave face. Life as we know it is either ‘This or That’. ‐

Smriti Agarwal

Every once in a while, there comes a time when life and its trials have bogged us down. Helpless and tired of standing strong, we give up. We let the smile on our faces and the


THIS OR THAT  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         SMRITI AGARWAL 

twinkles in our eyes disappear into the oblivion, worry over the smallest things and somewhere down the line, turn insensitive and selfish.

And how do we justify our

behaviour? We blame it on our past experiences! This poem urges the reader to feel the breeze, see the light at the end of the tunnel and walk towards it; not just wait for the flowers, but accept the brickbats too. Everyone has problems. You and I aren't new to it either. So why let them bring out the bad in us? When you feel low.... when the doors close.... when nothing’s going your way ... DONT let go of positivity .. ‘coz as a negative person you will end up being mean to yourself as well as others. As Maria sang: When the dog bites When the bee stings When I'm feeling sad I simply remember my favorite things And then I don't feel so bad Now...if a dog bit you, you wouldn't bite it back, would you? :) So why harm another person by being selfish and insensitive!? Cheer up! Spread a helping hand! And see how much help comes your way! :) ‐

Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma

As far as I can tell this poem was not written with a sound mind but a rather disturbed mind. Now, coming back to the interpretation, I look at the poem in a way that the poet has written about the rat race that we all are a part of in a poetic manner. Throughout the poem all I could think was that each and every person has become so materialistic and a little too ambitious. All they have started thinking are numbers and not relationships. For everyone, money talks but human beings don’t. But we all seem to forget that the comfort that lies in a mother’s hug cannot be replaced by swimming. The last few lines have talked about how we should go back to the past when relationships mattered and were just not mere robots. Basically, the last few lines rather say indirectly go visit your parents. Give your best friend a call. Go out and have fun with a few friends who won’t talk work with you. Find happiness in spending time with people. ‐

Pratikshya Paramita


THIS OR THAT  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         SMRITI AGARWAL 

After reading those, Samarth and Rubina looked more confident with the explanation given by the teacher and realized that they had to learn to accept each and every view or dimension of one thing. They realized that variety is the spice of life. Our opinions distinguish us from one another. However, a common thought in all three perceptions is that mankind is moving too fast, leaving behind all humanity. Selfishness overtakes love for one another. The floor is now open to more interpretations. We invite you to send us your perceptions. The more the better ;)

 


VISITING VINTAGE BOMBAY 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      SUPREET LAKHOTIA 

 

VISITING VINTAGE BOMBAY  They describe Mumbai as city of dreams. Where else

can

you

find

corporate

hotshots

and

political honchos doing a power walk at two o’clock in the noon along bayside. This place has an intimidating first glance, and slowly and sluggishly it unwraps the prized possession stored up. Long before the East India Company set up their office here, the place was simply an archipelago of several small and marshy islands. The native residents were kolis (fisherman folk) with their idol Mumbai –Aai; lending her name to present Mumbai. The islands were famous for their salt manufacturing and its fish in the region. The Gujju sultana captured the region and later lost to Portuguese sailors. Portuguese gifted it to British Royals. The British Royals rented it to a merchant company, East India Company at a meager 10 Pounds per annum. Everything has been documented about this city – the era gone by, the ports, the clubs, the buildings, the indigenous renaissance, the slums, and the local trains. And then came the bomb blasts. But how did it all start? So here it is friends – the story of Bombay, err… Mumbai. Manickshaw Dinshaw was returning from the fire temple, when he heard about a few more deaths of his friends in his native village of Gujarat. That year and previous one had been the worst they lived. There was famine, the waterways closed, the plague and the constant horror of Muslim invaders. Uncertain till last night, but Dinshaw was now determined to move to a new port somewhere south.


VISITING VINTAGE BOMBAY 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      SUPREET LAKHOTIA 

  After a rough journey on cart over several days, he landed up in his velvet cap and white robes. Jamunabai, had two breast fed babies in her lap, three grown up girls to get married. Burdened by the responsibilities the elderly couple could still observe a hope of new and better life in the new town. The place was bustling with activities of happiness and growth. The white skinned sahibs were walking over the hand pulled rickshaw, dressed in khaki shorts, hats and cane in their hands. The place had gardens; it had bid stone and wooden bunglows, mid-wives in petticoats. Petit little Jamunabai was offered food, clean clothes, plenty of water, and closed shelter. This was enough for her to start afresh a chapter in her life and her ability to walk without the fear of Muslim invaders over consecutive weeks many like them moved to Mumbai for a better living. Bum-bhai was what sahibs called it, the bay of good hope. The deep water level of ports offered majority of cargo movement and an ideal naval base. The porters, the clerks, the warehouse managers, the ship crew, the artisans, the hospital staff, the jobs were endless. There were Parsis, there were native fisher folk, new people from the central states came in, the firangi sahibs, religions descendents from Muslim Sultans of Gujarat , salmagundi of culture & races existed since the beginning of this metropolitan. Everybody tried learning angrezi, in a want to excel the rat race, tried learning ‘angrezi’, becoming the man Friday for sahibs. The eldest daughter of Manickshaw, Dalnauj had just been from her sewing classes. The nun from the chapel invited girls in the new classes. The new cast iron machines brought from Britain were a piece of amazement, tying the cloth as the circle moves in. No handwork needed. The Dinshaw couple was coming from evening bhaji market, when they heard a happy boisterous crowd around posters over the walls. Curious, Manickshaw moved closer to the poster to observe the news. A short route over Africa, named Suez Canal, will reduce the travel time of ships. The American war, has boosted the ‘kapas’ demand over sahib’s homeland. New ‘Karkhana’ for processing will be built, labours are called for, the new


VISITING VINTAGE BOMBAY 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      SUPREET LAKHOTIA 

  residency system of chawls will be offered. Only later it was to be realized the property rate and importance of Chawl residences in Mumbai culture. The new buildings were constructed from Vasai Stones, will stand for next 300 years, 15 feet high ceilings, arched gateways, wide passages for pedestrians, French windows, ornated with angels on top and elves on arches. The street lights were replaced with electric bulbs, no more oil filling, pukkah road were constructed and washed daily twice! The horsed rives carriages (trams) will now run using special machines. Horses were free!!! But Manickshaw had other plans. He wanted to own, he wanted to have business. Over the decades several cotton factories boomed up in Bombay and metamorphed it from just a port city into manufacturing hub of Indian subcontinent. The chemical, indigo factories sprouted along the outskirts of city. A number of merchant chambers and trading indices were freshly formed for regulation. This manufacturing, merchandising and trading, eventually turned Bombay into commercial capital of India. The two babies Jamunabai had bought under her threadbare sari, years ago from Gujarat were grown up now. Proper schooling, friends with children of English sailors, and English was known to them. There privilege included a maple tree catapult brought onto the port market. Every Friday children, India and British alike, would attend a special musical show at Horniman clubs. Dinshaw juniors attended religiously, often coming out attempting to copy the accent of performers. The regular attendance made them figure out the difference between Rum and Gin eventually. The Sunday was special for girls. Metro cinemas screened silent movie for lasses. The dress code was carrying Daisy flowers enforced through the Daisy club for British ladies. Homi Dinshaw, the younger of two brothers, flipped Zend Avesta, the sacred book, as rosy sun rays filtered through tinted glass panes focused on the pages. Thoughts of pending decisions poked him again and again. Mr. Gandhi had called up Merchant Chambers for a want in Swadeshi Movement, implying no more export of textiles and other indigenous goods and imports to be boycotted. The past few years had seen an upswing in political and nationalist interest of every other soul in the city. The numerous impositions on Indians, the stringent blackout rules during evenings, restrictive movements of groups, marching of troops within city interiors, the


VISITING VINTAGE BOMBAY 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      SUPREET LAKHOTIA 

  frequent agitations by INC members had created a disturbing impression in the bayside city. The want of a self-rule, better governance did made Homi to take part in the freshly launched Quit India Movement at Azad Maidan, a few yards from his favorite Agiary. The tough years did surpass, the hardship of the millions paid off paving in way for imperial powers to give up their stubbornness. The Mumbai Presidency Governor announced the selfrule and India’s Independence. The Dinshaw family stood high beneath the gateway of India in proud bidding adieu to their friend s and firangi sahibs unlike the way his father welcomed the queen beneath the Gateway years ago for the Delhi Durbar. The city had a new hope again, a desire of resurrection, a discipline for self-rule, a cluster of joyous spirits, to become the city of dreams once again. Let the city be revived, the way it has revived millions of life earlier. It was time to give in rather than ask for; to leave the woeful incidents that ache the city in the pages of history books. I accidently met Mrs Cama, the old lady runs a small cafeteria offering beloved bread, muska andtea in bustling south Mumbai. Inquisitive as I am, I asked her who was the life when she was young? The crow legged eyes, the dangling cheeks and wavy silver looks. She was annoyed, for obvious reasons, and after lot of persuasion she was a sport. Busy as she was she pointed out to a wooden clock beside her cash counter and narrated me the story of Bombay... the city that was less a host more a companion to her grandfather Homi Dinshaw and to her great grandfather Manickshaw Dinshaw.

 


POSITIVE OBSESSION   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         BIJOY MOMAYA 

POSITIVE OBSESSION  I was a farmer once … a khedut in Hindi. Well, not literally, but in the virtual world! Yeah, I am talking about Farmville (FV), the virtual farming world. Almost every friend on my Facebook profile was addicted to this game; a few still are. At one point of time, this game was singularly responsible for Facebook gaining importance. I was badly addicted to this game; I used to spend (or, as what I think now, waste) almost 5-6 hours a day playing Farmville. Now the question for the curious mind would be – how did I catch this addiction..? Almost every monitor I saw in my own office had FV open in it. Naïve me … I used to wonder why everyone was so excited about this seemingly silly game! I had never heard of this game before, yet funnily, my friends used to text me asking for Farmville items. Imagine their surprise when they came to know how clueless I was!! Finally, a friend explained the concept to me. That didn’t get much of my interest, but I did start playing it once in a while. However, being surrounded by FV addicts at work, added to my gaining this addiction! Oh well….as luck would have it, I too started playing FV like a mad man. It was like a competition among us friends and soon I was leading the race! My Facebook wall was flooded with FV feeds and updates. From uninterested, I was suddenly very interested in who reached which level and where I can achieve certain items from!! The craziness reached the limit where I would resort to – befriending unknown people from all over the world, sending and receiving FV items, requesting for items needed through status updates and beating all the friends by gaining maximum XP. Moving up levels was the only aim then. Everything was happening so fast that FV became a part of my life. Hilarious, isn’t it? It was a trending topic on twitter too … almost everybody in the Facebook world was farming, I guess. Everyone was plowing, harvesting, seeding and moving up on FV :-) I forgot that I had a real world too. I used to ask; in fact, I used to beg to my friends for FV items. In the meanwhile, FV developers’ team was making a lot of improvements in the game. They brought in new vehicles, buildings, animals, seeds, decorative items, statues, and a lot more of virtual things that almost covered whole world into it.


POSITIVE OBSESSION   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         BIJOY MOMAYA 

I remember waking up early in the mornings, at times, to harvest my crops so that they do not wither. Imagine that!! And to think, I never woke up early for my CA studies!! I knew my addiction had reached its limit when I decided to practically experience farming for real. Khetivaadi ki aadat lag gayi thi bhaiya!! One fine weekend, I called up one of my friends and asked him to join me in this endeavor. He was a bit surprised, though he did agree to join me and it was farmers’ day out! We went to a nearby village where such farming activities are carried out. Wooooooooooooooooooo…. What a day it was! We had so much of fun with the real farmers, the real tractors, the real bulls AND the real carts. Kya sahi mausam tha, boss! The wide open farm welcomed us with awesome breeze. The atmosphere was clean and so very healthy. It was greeeeeeen all around and we were enjoying every bit of it. Here are a couple of clicks which we took on this farmers’ day out


POSITIVE OBSESSION   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         BIJOY MOMAYA 

Hahaha! Was so scared to touch this bull and look at the kid. Full on bindaas khada hai ! But like everything comes to an end, so did my addiction. Times were changing. My addiction lasted just for 4 months and I realized that it was waste of time. I was gaining nothing out of it; slowly I reduced my Farmville activities. I still remember my mom yelling at me, "Aag lage toje farm ke" (I hope your farm catches fire) coz I would remain awake till late nights for farming. Farmville Dog was another idiot which was to be fed every 6 hours. When I look back now, I feel I was so careless in those 4-5 months. So many people came in my life, a few left but I did not allow my Farmville Dog to go. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and I stopped my FV activities, blocked FV feeds and eventually was totally turned off by this game coz it took away lot of things from me. Life does go on, you see. My new addiction helped to keep me moving. Mumbai! The city of dreams was my next focus. I used to spend my free time in researching about Mumbai. And before catching this addiction, I made a thorough audit of it. Would I be again wasting my time or this time I was gaining something from my new addiction? I found


POSITIVE OBSESSION   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         BIJOY MOMAYA 

that I was gaining a lot from it. I already had a lot of friends in Mumbai … so I thought

Chalo Mumbai chalte hain. So off I went to Mumbai and very soon I visited a place called Nariman Point for the first time in my life. The day was awesome; the time was awesome; that place was awesome and everything was awesome! I roamed all over Mumbai, all alone and Nariman Point soon became my newest addiction. Like with Farmville, this time too, I was madly addicted. I had stopped playing Farmville by then, but I thought of designing Nariman Point on my farm! I tried … and the feedback I got was awesome. It took me around 8 hours on a go to design Nariman Point on my farm. Have a look at this photo … does it look like Nariman Point?? :-)

Check out the chickens.... i had about 300 of them on my farm. I had even built the Hotel Trident with white fence and even the Air India Building. I confess those were the last 8 hours I worked on my Farmville. I cannot place new items on my farm now. Farmville says, “There is no place on your farm to place new items.” just like there is no place in Mumbai!! Well….that’s all about my 4 months of virtual journey with my farm on Farmville. Nariman Point, on the other hand, has its own importance in my life – a permanent one. Bohot yaadein judi hein Nariman Point se. We shall talk about it some other day ... kisi din mehefil jamegi toh gazal suna denge.


FAITH AND FAILURE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                       MARIYAM HAIDER 

 

FAITH AND FAILURE    “This is the most humble day of my career,” said Rupert Murdoch, the head of the media conglomerate, News Corp., as he stood before the British Parliament facing an explanation for

the

phone

hacking

scandal

by

his

newspaper, News of the World. Perhaps one of the biggest news scandals of this decade, with reports of deliberate tapping of voice mails and phone conversations of the victims of crime and many celebrities, NOTW issued its last edition on 10th July 2011. So, what did this scandal do to the common man? Why did it lead to such an uproar of events? Why were the citizens and readers outraged? The answer to all those questions lies in the fact that people’s trust was lost when the scam hit the headlines. A faith worth 168-years-old, built through a lot of hard work became ashes as the entire scandal unfolded. From the Chairman to the Chief-Editor, everyone was involved in this crime and that is what left a deeper scar. At a time, when being fair to one’s customers is the rule of thumb in the business world, NOTW washed away every memory of confidence that it once had with it’s readers. In the light of all these events, the question comes down to this – Today, in a world where money plays the upper hand, does the value of trust holds any significance? Is earning fortunes the only goal of any corporate enterprise? Do the business giants carry no moral obligation or responsibility towards their customers?


FAITH AND FAILURE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                       MARIYAM HAIDER 

Sadly, we have too many examples that make all the above questions redundant, with NOTW being the icing on the cake. The massive corporate ventures today have got involved in only making money and the ordinary citizen becomes its minting machine. Business ethics might be making way into every company’s Memorandum of Association, but surely does not reach its balance sheets. In India itself, where on one hand we have the fine example of the Tata Group of Industries, carrying their banner of trust in every venture (‘Tata ka bharosa’), on the other hand we also have the example of the Satyam Accounting Scandal of 2009. In the midst of all this, the value of keeping people’s trust has got lost somewhere. Ironically, the newest IIM at Trichy, mentored by IIM-Bangalore, will introduce a full credit mandatory course in ethics, corporate social responsibility and values from this year onwards. What is the point of all these lessons when in actual reality they are never followed? Building a good and strong relationship with one’s customers is every enterprise’s biggest achievement, but only with truth and fairness does that business become really successful. Monetary success can be achieved at any time, but nourishing a bond through trust lasts forever and acts like an elixir for the business. It is no wonder today then, that Tata industries is counted as one of the finest enterprises and has gained global recognition. Every businessman needs to realize the crucial importance of keeping one’s customer’s faith intact. Because this bond once broken can never be repaired again and NOTW just proved that. The news that Rupert Murdoch might even lose his position as the supreme media ruler because of this scandal proves that any business is like a close knit family with consumers being its most important members. If those members only drift away, that family can never prosper. So, whether in the form of a fiscal report or festival greetings, rule number 1 for all the businessmen out there – Be fair; Be there.  


THE CITY OF PEARLS 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                        HARSH THAKAR 

 

THE CITY OF PEARLS    The city beckoned me. Ever since I was filling in the

internship

form,

I

knew

that

it

was

Hyderabad that I was going to get and that it was this city that I would spend my summer in. To

no

one’s

surprise

I

ended

up

getting

Hyderabad. This news, however, stirred up a storm in my house. “How will you travel?”, “What if you get lost?”, “What will you eat?”, “What if you don’t understand the language?” endlessly poured from my mother’s phone calls. She is a mother. It is in her nature to worry to worry about me. But I was packed and ready go. As my parents left, my tryst with the city began. My first morning, on the way to the company, I had to take an auto. The first autowalla I stop asks for 80 Rs. Now I knew that the trip costs roughly Rs 40, so I started bargaining. After negotiating to the correct price, as I was travelling, it struck me to keep a tab on the autowallas, for the fun of it. Apparently, most of the autowallas will charge you more if you seem like an outsider except some who are extremely religious (to the point that they won’t accept money given from the left hand) or very sincere. If an autowalla is reading a newspaper, you have to pay Rs 10 more for the effort to put the paper down.

If a girl

negotiates for the auto, its Rs 10-20 less depending on the age of the autowalla present (young

autowalla

and

hot

girl

combo

actually

ended

in

a

Rs

20

discount).

Most of the autowallas do go by meter, unless you go with some BITSian friend or more than 3 people.


THE CITY OF PEARLS 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                        HARSH THAKAR 

As the day in my internship ended, I took a bus back to my accommodation. Bus services in Hyderabad are good, convenient and cheap. If you are a guy, most of the time you’ll travel standing (I did) and if you are a girl, you might get the occasional chance to sit in the reserved-for-ladies seats.

Woes betide you if you are a guy and you’re sitting on those

seats and some aunty comes, you’ll get to hear some really unpleasant Telugu stuff. I had began my journey sight-seeing with my parents and ironically it started with Birla Temple (I study in BIRLA institute of Technology and Science) and to living up to my expectations, the temple had a clock tower. Like all Birla temples, it was made of marble and well sculpted. There is some tradition there of trying to throw coins onto some ledge. My sympathies if you get hit by the many coins that miss the ledge. From the temple we went to this place called Snow World. Snow World is a room where they have created sub zero temperatures and artificial snow. For someone who has seen actual snow, this was just lame but when you’re with family any place is fun. Later, one of my friends told me that they use treated sewage water to make the snow (never dared to cross check). Once my parents left, I went with some friends to Lumbini Park near Hussain Sagar Lake. Lumbini Park is a park for kids with the rides and all. It also has boating facilities for Hussain Sagar Lake. Another attraction of the park is a light and sound show. I had heard a lot about the light and sound show and I was quite enthusiastic to see it. The light and sound show consisted of water fountains on which amazing light effects were shown, like flying birds and a ball dance. In fact the show was wonderful until they projected the Rim Jhim, Rim Jhim Hyderabad video which made most of the public get up and leave. The next place on our list was Golconda Fort. The fort was huge and in ruins. So it was a time to live the Prince of Persia dream. We were climbing walls, running across ledges and jumping over holes. Climbing all the way to the top was the best experience (We used the narrow rickety stairs). High atop Golconda fort, we could see the entire city and feel the heaven’s winds on us as every cold breeze was a wave of new life. Next on the list came Ramoji Film City. Despite some people telling me it was for kids, it was an amazing experience. Ramoji Film City had a lot to offer, be it an amazing 4D show or photo sessions with statues of film characters.


THE CITY OF PEARLS 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                        HARSH THAKAR 

There was an amazing stunt show where people they showed a Wild West scene with some awesome bomb explosion effects. Then came the bus tour of the place where we saw the various sets Taj Mahal, Gateway of India, Rani Mukherjee’s home from Nayak, London, King’s palace, Jail, Amitabh’s haveli from Suryavanshi, School, Jail etc. Plus we also managed to get a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan shooting for Ra One. All in all, it will take you one full day, but Ramoji City is definitely worth a visit. Lines from my tour guide:

(Pointing to a apparently barren garden) Ye multipurpose flower garden hai. Agar heroine ne red saree pehni hai toh red flowers. Blue saree toh blue flowers. No saree toh no flowers. (Looking at our sly grins). Aaj kal ki heroines shirt pant pehenti hai na Next on the cards was the zoo. As we made our way to the zoo, the autowalla showed us a car museum. The car museum was pure bliss. They had these amazing handmade working cars which were modeled after something or some event. There was a double bed car, toilet car, computer car, Football car, snooker table car, camera car and many more. Plus they also had a video to prove that these eccentric cars actually do work. The main attraction was this gigantic cycle which was 3 stories high. The zoo comparatively turned out to be a bummer. Not because the zoo was bad but because we took someone’s advice and actually sat on the toy train wasting 40 precious minutes and not seeing much of the zoo. As a result we were only able to see one half of the zoo before it closed. I am definitely going there again. This left Salarjung museum and Charminar for the last day. The museum is pretty good. If you like museums you’ll love this one and if you don’t like museums, don’t go with some who does. The main attraction is this cuckoo clock which was gifted to the Nizam. Try to make it to the museum to see the clock chime at noon. Charminar was a disappointment. It was a heritage site and I was utterly unimpressed by the way it had been maintained. I didn’t even step inside it. There is Chowmaala palace near charminar which is the Nizam’s old palace which showcases everything the Nizam ever


THE CITY OF PEARLS 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                        HARSH THAKAR 

owned right from his cars to his garments. There wasn’t much stuff to see but it was still in a better condition than Charminar. For a non vegetarian like me, Hyderabad was heaven. From kebabs to biryani, everything was delicious and mouth watering and left you feeling the need to call for help to get you out of the chair. Most of the times we ate at the authentic Bawarchi restaurant (There was a board that said we don’t have any other branch) which was full even on a working Monday at 5 pm. Of course there was the much classier and much famous Paradise which was almost as good as Bawarchi but it lost out on cost. If you have been to Hyderabad and haven’t had Hyderabadi Biryani, you have missed a lot. Point to note, I had Idli, Dosa or Sambar Vada or any such item for a total of just 10 meals in 54 days. As I had sat down in my train for the final trip back home, a truckload of emotions flowed in. As the train crossed necklace road around Hussain Sagar, memories of visiting this city, the life with friends, the work at the internship all overwhelmed me and as I tried to close my eyes to sleep, the song Rim Jhim Rim Jhim Hyderabad haunted me and told me that I had just spent the best 54 days of my life.  


THE SHADOW CHILD   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         RASHMI NAIR 

 

THE SHADOW CHILD  A

middle

aged

couple’s

peaceful

life

turns

turbulent when they lose their only son, Sam, dies on the eve of his 21st birthday. There is no solution to grief and there is no right way to deal with the loss of a beloved son. The Shadow Child deals with the bereavement of the parents on the loss of their only child. Marion, the 50 year old mother who is an ex– journalist and works as an accountant in the suburbs of Norfolk village, copes well with the grief by day light but she falls apart and mourns for her son’s death at night. The father, Tom, on the

other

hand,

is

a

presenter

of

science

documentaries and he seeks solace by planning to shift to New Zealand to start a fresh new life. When we lose someone special in our life we always wish that nothing evil of such sort should have ever happened. We try and hold on to the fond memories and cherish them. We want to get over the past and move on. Some of us are able to do so and some of us hide the pain in our hearts lifelong. Grief isn’t easy and no one deals with it in the same manner. Some shout, scream, yell and express their anger whereas others divert their attention to work, hobbies, and passions. Some deal with it in silence whereas others cry their hearts out. Same goes for the author, Libby Purves, who herself lost her son to suicide a few years back. The Shadow Child isn’t her own life’s story but you can feel the actual pain of mourning mother. While reading this book, during the first few phases, you can feel the anguish of the parents. The story is narrated by Marion describing her and her husband’s darkest phase of life. She holds on to the memories of her son dearly and tries to handle everything with a smile. She preferred to attend as many funerals as possible because it somehow brought peace in her heart but she was living in denial of the pain which used to envelop her during her sleep at night, screaming for her son. Against Tom’s wishes, she wanted to know more


THE SHADOW CHILD   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         RASHMI NAIR 

  and more about her son’s life because that was the only way she knew how to deal with the pain and as result, their marriage was going through a bad phase. If you have a child you would want him to live a fulsome life and have a family of his own. You don’t expect your children to die before you do. In case of Marion and Tom, the sole existence of their son was wiped off from this earth and as the days went by they lived in fear of what if they forget their son. They were confused that if they are happy again, they might be betraying Sam. They were scared of the memories fading away bit by bit. But this wasn’t the end... it was only the beginning. What would you do if you come to know that the only son of yours, who died had donated his sperm to a lesbian couple? What would you feel like when you come to know that somewhere out in this big world there’s a baby who carries your blood ... your son’s blood and your family’s blood? The whole world turned upside down for Marion and Tom. Marion went all the way to find the lesbian couple and the drama ensued. The lesbian couples were the most passionate couples you could ever come across. They fought in extremes and they loved in extremes. They cursed each other as well as adored each other and they hoped for a baby girl because of the strong feminist notions. They were strikingly opposite to each other; the pregnant one was a flamboyant chirpy girl whereas the other one was an old school feminist who hated men. At parts, it’s hilarious and at parts, its nerve wrecking but to sum it up all, Marion and Tom ended up with a small giggly Sam-like baby in their home in Norfolk during Christmas along with their so called Lesbian-daughter–not-inlaw and her lesbian mate. Marion and Tom accepted them as their own family and suddenly their home wasn’t empty anymore; it had a new life in it and a new hope. The novel starts with a slow pace but slowly and gradually as you go beyond the grief part one by one, more and more dramatic surprises hit you on the face and leave you wondering what next? Suddenly Marion’s grief stricken life becomes an adventurous hunt. A quest to find her son’s blood and believe me, it’s a gripping tale with dramatic twists at every point. You laugh with her and you cry with her. You can feel her pain as well as her joy. You are able to understand that no matter what, life moves on. Even if the story sounds absurdly unreal at some points but it does leave you with a glimmer of hope that no matter what you lose, You still survive and there is always hope. Hope to live on. I merely went to the library and picked it up for a good read. After, I was done reading it... All I could do was smile. Sad yet Happy. Life as it is.  


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 

 

THEM AVIANS  On cities, I’d always been the small town ‘snob’, cribbing about the lack of empathy, of the ‘human’, of

the stars at night (which I still do from time to time, for frankly, I love my

Orion and the Ursa-s), of trees and that crisp fresh evening breeze. But then I met this mad man once, of which out of my photogenic curiosities I manage a handful, who told me, in a contradictory simple statement that ‘everything lies everywhere’. Trying to prove him wrong, I wandered in to the ‘behind garbage dumps’ quite a bit, and though was not proven wrong about the apathetic nature of the big city, I was sure embarrassed on my own apathy of the hidden natural bounty (historical followed shortly thereafter).

Pied Cuckoo, Sanjay Van Delhi’s greens do not bustle or stand out, but rather stay moot in their small pockets of privacy, for they know, being from (or next to) the streets, that publicity can so wrongly imply destruction. So they play dumb, hitching on the back on some municipal whimsy, till one stumbles upon the graves, the broken, empty fort ruins and sees how centuries would have had here unfolded.


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 

 

Streaked Weaver, Okhla Bird Sanctuary

For the first of the natural relief that Delhi offers, my preference is birds (and the occasional butterfly or the bee). There is a challenge in making one understand innocent intentions without the use of any language whatsoever (although the odd whistle does sometime elicit a response), the game of patience, silent and sweaty, or cold and misty.

Brahminy Starling, Sanjay Van There is that gasp when a bird settles still for those brief seconds, when cameras are desperately fiddled with, the shutters make sounds one wishes they hadn’t, the bird looks around twitchily, that brief second when eyes meet, and the crucial moments where the avian ruminates briefly over the next course of action. If one is lucky, the branch lays dumb as the bird stays put, and sometimes, to add insult to a sweaty bruised disposition, the wings, that power to conquer one of the last bastions of the puzzles of motion, flap out, leaving the branch to sway on the remnants of the beauty that one here strayed.


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 

 

(from left), Oriental Turtle Dove, Green Bee‐eater, Eurasian Dove, Okhla Bird Sanctuary  Bird watching is not for the couch potato, but for those who prefer to look for them below the earth. There has to be that acceptance, of annoyance and dejection, for hours of stealth can be done away with a moment of recognition, not too different from that extra time winner that breaks hearts and lays dreams to waste. But succeed, and flutters the soul like those who flap goodbye after a (hopefully) good pose.

White Breasted Kingfisher, Sanjay Van

For a bird forces one to actually question what the human ‘rush’ is all about, when there are no nests to build and every morn hardly ever raises a fresh doubt on scourging for food, or mortality for that matter. Why that immense canvas of emotion has to play out on other trivialities is what every bird’s eye (twinkling) questions you, if perchance thy eyes shall meet.


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 

 

Greater Coucal, Okhla Bird Sanctuary

And watching a bird skip across the ground or flitting along branches does make one want to, and inevitably (execute a) dance, that clumsy little shuffle of steps trying to be discreet, but nothing escapes those little twitters of joy somehow, there is almost that dog on that branch, who’ll jump at you at the least expected corner when you were sue you’d sneaked in ever so quietly.


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 

 

Asian Pied Starling, Okhla Bird Sanctuary

The best places to spot birds in Delhi, are, as a geographical obviousness, the ridges and the riverbed. Of the former, there is the University ridge in the North and Sanjay Van/ JNU/ Mehrauli region in the South. Of the Yamuna, there is the Okhla Bird Sanctuary on the Delhi-Noida border. But it is a common occurrence to see a kingfisher over electrical lines on a railway station, or a bulbul in your balcony; and of peacocks and pigeons, aah, let’s not even get started on those.

Oriental Magpie Robin, Sanjay Van Then there are the common day crows and myenas and sparrows, not common in the least for the way they evolved around our complex social structures, literally ‘rising above it all’. Evolving ways to cope up with the ‘domestication’, these birds are the most versatile and the least appreciated of their brethren.


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 

 

Ashy Prinia, Sanjay Van To sum it up, there are those wonderful lines of ‘Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher’ by Nissim Ezekiel. To force the pace and never to be still Is not the way of those who study birds Or women. The best poets wait for words. The hunt is not an exercise of will But patient love relaxing on a hill To note the movement of a timid wing; Until the one who knows that she is loved No longer waits but risks surrendering In this the poet finds his moral proved Who never spoke before his spirit moved. The slow movement seems, somehow, to say much more. To watch the rarer birds, you have to go Along deserted lanes and where the rivers flow In silence near the source, or by a shore


THEM AVIANS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Remote and thorny like the heart's dark floor. And there the women slowly turn around, Not only flesh and bone but myths of light With darkness at the core, and sense is found But poets lost in crooked, restless flight, The deaf can hear, the blind recover sight.

Indian Silverbill, Sanjay Van

 

 

                                                            PARTH JOSHI 


ONE LANGUAGE FOR ALL 

 

 

 

                                                                                                         ABHINAV CHANDEL 

   

ONE LANGUAGE FOR ALL    It was one of those slow afternoons, so I decided to spend it in the nearby CCD today. Now, the one reason I love CCD or similar cafes is the kind of songs they play – one can easily relax with a cup of coffee in such an environment. Well … so, as I was saying. I entered CCD and

they

were

playing

songs

by

Jal.

Surprising, ‘coz I have never ever heard Hindi/Urdu

numbers

playing

at

a

CCD.

Moreover, on the TV there was some news related to the Mumbai serial blasts. I look around; there was a group of 5 teenagers other than me. I took a seat near them so that I could also get to hear what they're discussing. “These terrorists … I don't know why are they doing this?” one of them, a girl, began the conversation. “I know! These Pakistanis hate Indians!” another one, a guy, claimed. “These people are not Pakistanis. Pakistanis are good people but these terrorists … they have no nationality!” the girl corrected him. “I know. But they've come from Pakistan, haven’t they? What has Pakistan given us... except this song?” the guy said, just as Jal's Sajni filled the environment in the CCD.


ONE LANGUAGE FOR ALL 

 

 

 

                                                                                                         ABHINAV CHANDEL 

  “Sajni?” I said. This was when I joined the conversation looking a bit confused. And those 5 of them were more confused than me. “What my friend meant was look at Pakistani music. It speaks of love and peace, something that is what everyone wants on both side of the borders,” another guy who was sitting quiet till then, joined in. This made me think about something. There was a tension between two nations. It's been a few days since a bomb blast occurred in the neighboring city (I am from Pune) and the TV was showing news about the bomb blast; Pakistani groups were suspected to be behind this blast. Despite this, we have something to love about Pakistan, their music. I the spent rest of my afternoon with this group of 5 guys and girls chatting about how music can change the world. Their names were Nandita, Ankita, Ajeet, Biju and Vishwa. One thing I realized was that music is the only thing that requires no passport to cross borders, only music is something which doesn't have to tell its religion or caste to be loved by someone, only music is one thing which doesn't require a person to learn a new language to love it. Music is a soul, made up of a part of souls of all the human beings and thus music is loved by everyone. It doesn't depend what kind of music it is, but music soothes everyone in a different way. By this time the coffee had arrived. And discussion was an intense one. “So you mean, we can love music irrespective of its origin?” Nandita questioned. “Why not? I guess you love Enrique, in fact the other day you were listening to his album. It has some Spanish songs, what do you have to say about that?” Vishwa said. “I love those Spanish songs, even though i can't understand the words. The tunes and his voice … heavenly!” Ankita too joined in the conversation. Nandita nodded.


ONE LANGUAGE FOR ALL 

 

 

 

                                                                                                         ABHINAV CHANDEL 

  Sitting with those teenagers made me ask myself a question, “Can music change the world?” I guess … yes. Music is something which doesn't require any other type of communication. The communication through tunes can touch anyone's soul. The perfect example is the baby

which is still inside the womb … it doesn't know any language but still responds to particular kinds of music by kicking. The bond between a husband and wife gets stronger if they have a similar taste in music, or let's take you and me, throughout our life we have constantly come close to the people who had a similar taste in music to us. In fact, many a time, the first step in friendships is, “Oh you too listen to them?” Music goes beyond all religion or caste, as once we know they like the same artists we don't give any attention to their background. I am sure you must be having that one friend from some other country, and he/she is your friend only because of the music. “So does any of you agree that music can change the world?” I put up the question in front of them. By this time the Korean guy who was sitting at the adjacent table had also joined us in the discussion. “I guess yes, I listen to coke studio whenever I am hyper or angry and it always calms me down. I think if those terrorist do the same, they would find peace too!” Vishwa suggested. “That can't happen!” Biju cut him in between. “I guess, he doesn't mean in that way. Obviously if you start making them listen to the music, they won't change overnight. I think the only way to do this is make children listen to good music, music of other countries; Indians should listen to Pakistani music and vice-


ONE LANGUAGE FOR ALL 

 

 

 

                                                                                                         ABHINAV CHANDEL 

  versa. I am sure it can help, in making each of us understand that across the border people are just like us. Just that the names are different.” Nandita explained. “Hey, can I join in?” the Korean guy asked for our permission to join in the conversation. We nodded in agreement. “Well, I’ve learnt a few words of Hindi while listening to the songs. And the reason why I’ve chosen India is because of my love for this country. I fell in love listening to all the old classic songs. My dad used to work here,” he continued. “Also, I am a pretty good singer. Would you like to hear me sing?” he smiled and asked. And we agreed smiling. What's better than listening to a live song while having coffee? He picked up the guitar he was carrying, and started playing his native song. All of us looked at each other, it was clear that none of us understood a word, but in those 3-4 minutes while he sang we all felt like best friends. The song in foreign lyrics had bound us for that moment. The magic of music had worked on us as well.

 


THE LONELY TREE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                             PRATIKSHYA PARAMITA 

 

THE LONELY TREE: SUCCESS COMES WITH A PRICE TAG  By the time I left my cabin to go around for my routine check the ashtray was overflowing with cigarette buds. How did I ever start smoking so much? I didn’t even have a good enough reason for all the buds lying in my ashtray. Projects were done. My huge incentive was on its way. I had recently got promoted. Then why such an act from my side? Maybe, I had started smoking a little too much. To be on the safer side, I grabbed a chewing gum packet and left my cabin. It is imperative to keep a check on the employees and especially employees in my department. It seemed

as

though

the

whole

company

was

dependent on my department. I couldn’t put them down. Furthermore, I secretly, loved to see the scared faces of my subordinates. Just as I were about to turn around and leave my eyes fell on the desktop in front of me. What was this? This was not a part of any project I am sure. The window open on the desktop was that of a website of Kindergarten school. The screen was filled with all the colors of the rainbow and many more. What a colorful website! It looked so positive. The pictures of children playing in the playground and studying were such a sweet treat to the eyes. Whose desktop was this? Why was such a site open during office hours? These would have been my first thoughts. But I was surprised to be thinking of something else. My first thoughts today were how lucky the person is to have a child back home. I looked around for the nameplate and realized it was Supriya’s desk. She was lucky to have witnessed the playing child’s laughter. I might be the head of the department but what Supriya had was worth more than any money and any promotion.


THE LONELY TREE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                             PRATIKSHYA PARAMITA 

Rather than my usual 5-minute walk around the office I planned to extend it and get a peak into my subordinates life. I grabbed a second chewing gum and headed off. Anita was looking at her Blackberry and smiling. A long and sweet smile. After a long pause she began typing again. There was something about her smile, which conveyed more than just a smile. Who was she messaging? Who was it on the other end of he phone? Was it her fiancé? There was only one way to find out. “Anita, could you head downstairs to the Marketing department and get me the report from Mr Khelwani? Right now, Anita.” “Yes boss!” came her reply. I knew Anita would forget her phone in her hurry and I took my chances. I picked up her phone and checked the last message. It was indeed from a man. And the message was the reason behind her smile. He was going to take her out for dinner tonight and the restaurant she loves the most. When was the last time someone took me to my favorite restaurant? When was the last time I smiled like this? When was the last time my heart fluttered at the mention of any man’s name? When? I put her phone down when I started hearing footsteps. “Boss, Mr Khelwani has already left. Would you like me to call him up and check on the report?” “No, it’s okay,” I said and left the room. By the time I was out of her small cabin I didn’t realize but my mind had drifted off to the past when I was probably like Anita, when I had someone care for me. Did I loose him thanks to my ambitious nature? Did I? I was interrupted by a small pat on my shoulder. I turned around to find Gaurav standing there. “Yes Gaurav! Do u want something?” “Ummm… Boss I was wondering. I mean if it is possible. It is not compulsory but only if it’s possible … I don’t want to cause any problems boss.”


THE LONELY TREE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                             PRATIKSHYA PARAMITA 

“Gaurav, instead of wasting my time just tell me what the problem is. I don’t have the whole day you know.” “I know I am supposed to be working this weekend but could I take this weekend off? I have to take my parents out for a vacation. I can make up for this weekend by working the next weekend.” “It’s okay, Gaurav. Take the day off. We’ll handle it. Do enjoy yourself and no need to worry about next weekend.” “Umm.. Boss, are you sure?” “Yes. I am pretty sure. Now go off to work before I change my mind.” I could see Gaurav was stunned as well as happy at the same time. Parents are such an important part of one’s life. Why aren’t they of my life? When was the last time I took them out for a vacation? More importantly when was the last time I called up mom? I remember a few weeks back I got a mail from her saying she would be traveling to the States to meet my sister. When did she say she was leaving? Today? I looked at the time on my watch. There was still time left before she got out of the house to leave for the airport. Maybe I should call her but she would be busy packing and would probably cancel her trip thinking I am in big trouble just because I called her. I took out my phone and was about to type a message when I heard laughter from the end of the passage near the coffee machine. “No seriously I am telling you she said my parantha tastes like leather jacket. Thankfully, she mentioned Denim leather jacket. So what is it that you have to tell me Harsh?” asked Smriti in an inquisitive voice. “About my mother-in-law only … at least your’s thought you make horrible paranthas. Mine is a bloody bitch. She called up the other day and like always, kept telling Saakshi that she has made the worst decision of her life by marrying me. That woman had the audacity to even give Saakshi the idea of a divorce. All this because I asked Saakshi to cook this weekend as I plan to have you guys over for lunch. To top it all Saakshi was just telling her she didn’t even have a problem!” said Harsh.


THE LONELY TREE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                             PRATIKSHYA PARAMITA 

Smriti simply laughed and put her coffee down saying, “We better get back to work before boss finds out we are wasting time. And Harsh, don’t worry I’ll cook something and get for the

lunch

too.

Let

me

handle

the

desserts.

Please.

Its

not

a

problem.”

“Thank you so much Smriti. But Saakshi will be more than happy to cook the entire meal for you guys.” I watched the two of them walk back into their respective cabins and couldn’t help but smile at such friendship. I always thought I had a bunch of friends who cared about me. The past week has made me think otherwise. I clearly remember when I got promoted last week I didn’t have anyone to call. I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with. I planned on throwing a party but suddenly everyone was busy. Why was that? How could everyone be so busy in life that they couldn’t be a part of my happiness? I have always been a part of theirs. Or was I not? Was I always talking about work when they were telling me good news? That could be possible. After half an hour I enter my cabin and begin my work like everyday with just one minute difference – I seem to be distracted a little too much today. Have I made some huge mistakes in my life? I always thought work would bring me happiness … and it did Then why is it today that I didn’t feel happy today? I guess money doesn’t buy you happiness. With these thoughts in mind I continued to work for the day. By 8 o’clock I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had smoked a whole packet today and it still wasn’t helping me. All my subordinates had left and it wouldn’t matter if I left a little early today. It had become impossible to work in the smoke filled cabin. To add to it I knew my mind was preoccupied with something which was way more important than work.

I

collected my things in a quick motion and headed out. At the end of the passage I could see a laptop was switched on and a petite figure bent over it. I walked up to the light and saw Nimit was still in office. “Nimit, shouldn’t you be back home?”


THE LONELY TREE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                             PRATIKSHYA PARAMITA 

He looked up from his laptop and I could see he had not slept for days. Those bags under his eyes where had I seen something like that before? “No, boss it’s still quite early. I’ll finish my work and keep everything ready for tomorrow and go.” Somehow, I distinctly remember hearing that statement before. Before I could recollect I heard the phone buzzing and realized it was his. He picked it up cut the call and got back to his laptop. “Shouldn’t you pick up that call? It’s your mother’s.” “No, it’s okay. She doesn’t understand how important work is for me. Success is the most important thing in life. And it only comes with hard work but she never understands that.” It all came back to me. I knew where I had seen those eye bags. I knew where I had heard that statement before. It was me. This man was doing exactly what I did at his age. 5 years down the line he would be standing in my place and looking down at a subordinate and probably wondering the same thing as me. I had made some terrible mistakes in my life and I didn’t want another person to make the same. I felt like grabbing hold of his cell phone and making him talk to his mother. But all I could manage was, “Take it from the experienced, success comes with a price tag.” With this I walked out of the office and could hear him close his laptop. I had paid an expensive price for success. I hope no one else does. Driving back home I could literally hear everything Nimit said in my head. “She doesn’t understand me.”, “Success is very important” … What had I done with my life? Why was I in such a position where nothing made me happy? I used to be a person very similar to Supriya, Anita, Gaurav, Smriti and Harsh. Why was I a Nimit now? In my hunger for success had I lost out on that side of me? I had become a part of this rat race where only materialistic possessions gave me happiness. I seemed to have forgotten the warmth that you find in a friend’s hug, the happiness you get after eating food cooked by your mother and the heart fluttering moment of seeing the one you love.


THE LONELY TREE 

 

 

 

                                                                                                             PRATIKSHYA PARAMITA 

I needed to make amendments in life and pretty soon. I needed to go back and get in touch with my old self. I am not saying this is the fake me. But that was the me that even I like. I distinctly remember hoping to have a family and a bunch of friends who would love to spend the weekend with me. I had never regretted not having any of these but today I do. They say, when realization strikes you it strikes you hard. It was time to make changes in my life and I was going to work towards it. Starting right now. I pulled over and started typing a message. “Have a happy and safe journey mom. Look out for me in USA. Till then lots of love.” I pressed send and looked out of my windshield with a smile on my lips and a tear in my eye. Realize before it’s too late. Don’t wait till it’s too late.  


THE FOOLS FAMILY 

THE FOOLS FAMILY  WRITERS

EDITOR

Karthik Arora

Samarprita Mukheerji

Aashish Aaryan Abhinav Chandel

EDITORIAL PANEL

Harsh Thakar

Samarprita Mukherji

Pratikshya Paramita

Garima Obrah

Parth joshi

Aisoorya

Rashmi Nair

Saiyona Ghosh

Smriti Agarwal

Nupur Sachdeva

Srishiti Malviya Nishtha Lohani

BLOG CONTRIBUTOR

Mariyam Haider Bijoy N Momaya

Kaumudi Bhardwaj

Supreet Lakhotia

Kriti Sachdeva

Pratima Labroo Fahima Aslam Aneikta Poddar Ravi Aswani Cartoonist

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Nnilpa Jha

Divya Sharma

Online Publicist

Offline Publicist

Isha Sharma

Niloy Roy Harsh Vardhan Bagariya   Divyanshu Asopa

Surendra Singh Chaplot

Be a part of the family. Write to us – joinus@21fools.com 


21 Fools - August11 Edition  

A daily dose of some 21Fools with the morning tea is now being recommended by some Doctors as well...

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you