Thursday, November 5, 2009


I am heart-broken, absolutely heart-broken! I don’t know how many of you guys saw the just concluded cricket match between India and Australia, I just finished watching it, and we lost by 3 runs, that too chasing a mammoth 351 to win! (Warning: This post is meant for cricket lovers)

Very sad indeed, but that’s not the only reason I’m heartbroken, in fact that’s the lesser reason. The greater one is because I probably watched one of the greatest ODI innings of all time and still saw the hero ending on a losing side- a tragic hero of mythical proportions. Yes, I’m talking about the man himself- Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!! I always thought I would write a post on him the day he retires (Yes, guys, I know it’s a blasphemous thought, but something that’s a matter of when, not if!). Those of you cricket lovers who missed today’s match, or gave up watching after Australia got 350, you have probably missed probably the greatest, and the most poignant innings of all time, by the man most people consider the greatest cricketer to have walked the cricket field after Sir Don.

I saw Sachin brushing a teardrop when he was called to speak after gathering his man of the match award, and that in itself told me a lot about the man. This guy has been playing cricket for 20 years, holds every record conceivable to mankind, demands and commands awe and respect from the entire cricket fraternity, makes millions a year and yet a loss in a one-day game in a bilateral series prompts him to shed a tear! A lot has been spoken about this man, there are still some morons existing who are quick to point out his deficiencies and failings. Sure, he is human after all! But not a mere human, a first among equals, and that too by quite some margin!

We live in a cynical world. A world where, strangely, we have forgotten to find passion in our lives (A small exercise: When was the last time any of us jumped around with joy, or cried with happiness?), where we don’t trust each other or sometimes even ourselves, where we seem to have internalized a lot of the negativity we see around us, where the erosion of values (its situational at the best of times, and thought to be totally unnecessary at the worst) is matched only by the lack of heroes and idols- someone we can truly look up to. It is in this world that the importance of people like Sachin increases, for this guy epitomizes all that people strive to achieve in their lives, in whatever field, and still retaining the humility and simplicity as well as love for one’s motherland that is a lesson for every one of us. A lot of us tomorrow are going to be successful in our lives, to attain wealth and power and status in society. But we would do well to look carefully at this man and understand the importance of keeping a level head on our shoulders, and at the same time living with passion and believing in ourselves as well as the world around us.

I would end this by observing that we, the cricket-loving junta, are a lucky lot. We have seen a lot of great Indian players at their prime over the last 10 years- Kumble, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag. But nobody has given us greater pleasure, nobody has taught us to believe more in ourselves, and nobody has evoked greater passion in our hearts than a certain Mr. Tendulkar. Its been a privilege, sir! Rock on!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Magic of Durga Pujo

“Ya devi sarvabhutesu saktirupena sansthita, namastasai namsatasai namastasai namoh namaha….”- its that time of the year again! Yes, I’m talking of the Durga Pujo- the opium of Bengalis all over, especially in Kolkata, and a time and occasion which is to be seen to be believed!

Now why am I writing a blog entry on Durga Pujo, you might ask. Especially given the fact that 90% of the people who will read this (hopefully!) are not Bengalis. But, I would say to that- hardly matters! In fact that’s more of a motivation for me to get typing and share my feelings with everyone here, because I truly and honestly feel everyone should come to Kolkata once in his/her lifetime during Durga Pujo. Yes, everyone, irrespective of region, religion, caste, creed, sex, sexual preference, culinary disposition etc. etc., and why exactly would be my endeavor to get across to the readers in the next few paras, as I look forward to going home tomorrow for the pujas!

What is so special about Durga Pujo? A friend had once asked me “I don’t understand what you Bengalis like so much about Durga Pujo. I find it hard to believe that an entire city can come to a standstill for 4 days continuously, suspending all activities!” Yes, that’s exactly what happens during the 4 days. Huh, big deal you might say, Kolkata comes to a standstill half of the year, owing to reasons ranging from trade unions agitating against their employers to employers agitating against their trade unions, political parties agitating against each other, auto rickshawalas agitating against the government who ironically once paid them to agitate, and common people in general agitating against all these agitations! Its an agitated city, I say! Yes, all this does happen, but the suspension of work for these 4 days is different, and very so.

Well, let me help you picture this- streets decked up with lighting of various hues and shades, colorful puja pandals depicting handicraft works from various corners of Bengal vying with each other, inside those pandals huge idols of Maa Durga and other gods and goddesses prepared and painted in a beautiful way, lakhs of people walking the streets day and night for a glimpse of the pandals and idols, small kids staring with wide-eyed amazement at the crowds around them to elders who have seen it all but still somehow come back every year for the experience, the best dresses being brought out and worn around by everyone, furtive glances thrown by the desperate neighbourhood romeo towards the pretty lass standing in front of the idol (and vice versa as well!), songs playing in numerous mikes around the city-right from the melody of Rabindrasangeet to the nasal cacophony of Himesh (somehow most of his songs always remind me of a hungry cow mooing away) , the smell of camphor in the air, the occasional noise of cap pistols being used by small kids in the neighborhood pandals…well I can go on and on, but by now you get the point!

Durga Pujo, especially for someone like me, who has been brought up in Kolkata, is very much a part of our childhood memories, our growing up and an integral part of our soul. Its actually a bit like being in love - you feel it inside you but its difficult to describe it to others! Its actually much more than a puja, and extends much beyond religious affiliations. It’s a celebration of life- of everything that’s good around us, and a reminder of the simple pleasures of life. When you walk the streets of Kolkata during this time, whoever you are or wherever you are from, you just cant escape the mood, the music in the air, the swaying of the “kashful” (a white flower) to the wind, the purity everywhere in the atmosphere and the overall feeling of joy, happiness and colour around you that is bound to bring a smile in your eyes, lips and heart!

Of course, in recent years, pujo has become more of an industry, with politicians getting actively involved in setting up huge pandals in their constituencies in order to garner votes, and budgets of pujas often looking that of a mid-size company, the entry of corporate sponsors into the pujas, and the consequent commercialization of the entire thing.

However, that doesn’t take anything away from the feeling I have right now when I am preparing to go home for the pujas, because, like a bioscope, I can see fleeting images of a ten-year old boy playing and running around in the puja pandal of his family home, holding a small cap pistol in hand, with his friends and relatives and family around him, and a beautiful idol of Maa Durga watching over him. The boy looks up, laughs and starts running again- he is still running, to reach home tomorrow in time for the most magical place on earth during these 4 days- Kolkata! And while doing so, he invites everyone he knows over to Kolkata for these 4 days to feel the experience, to get a slice of life, to see Durga Pujo!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Every Second Counts....

I just finished reading “Every Second Counts” by Lance Armstrong, the sequel to his widely acclaimed (and extremely inspiring, I may add) book ”Its Not About The Bike”, and have this insatiable desire to talk to people right now, because what I read in these two books, a lot of it found resonance with me and my thoughts. I would urge everyone of you to pick up these 2 books and go through them, not because they offer some heavy management fundae about life & success, but because they have a quality most books of this genre rarely have- simplicity and uncluttered thought!

For those of you who don’t know, Lance Armstrong is a 5-time winner of the Tour de France, supposedly one of the most ardous and demanding sporting events of the world- a cycling course that takes the contestants 21 days to cover entire France- with all the hills and plains and countrysides, eventually ending in Paris. Lance is a cancer survivor, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, and given by many doctors a 20% chance of surviving. He survived, defeated cancer and his opponents to become the undisputed cycling great of all time. And in these books he has taken the reader through his journey through his entire process of being diagnosed with cancer, going through the painful journey of chemotherapy, coming out of it and winning the tour.

But its not only about that, in fact, that is only the backdrop, the wider message is what he lays more stress on, and what led me to get typing. How many of you remember that line from the Spider-man movie- “We all have a choice”? Never was a truer word spoken, and a simpler one at that. But, being simple as it is, it also gets one thinking, thinking about life in general and the way we live our lives.

We all do have a choice, and that applies to every moment and every occasion of our lives. We can choose to feel good or bad, to be rude to someone or nice, to keep standing on the sidelines and not care about things, or roll up our sleeves and jump in and make a difference.

It’s a bit risky to offer advice, or lecture about how we should live our lives. Someone famous or successful can do that, but I can always be told to mind my own business, or asked what have I done about this, but the problem with being a thinking person is that there is something always knawing away inside us somewhere, something that keeps asking us if this is the life we want to live all our lives? This waking up every morning and counting down to the weekends (come to think of it, if we keep living for the weekends our whole lives, we would be alive for only 2/7th of our lives, for the rest, we would be barely existing!), bitching behind someone’s back, complaining about our bosses and colleagues, feeling jealous of our friend who has a better car/house/wife/husband than us, etc etc. Well, I sometimes feel, the best answer to this can be got by asking yourself a simple question: “How would you like to be remembered?” The scariest thought for me is the thought that when I am old and look back at my life, I don’t want to get the thought “What might have been, if I had decided to live my life that way”.

The problem that most of us (and it includes me!) face in these situations, is that we become so ensconced and comfortable in our daily lives, so taken by the luxuries this life has to offer, that it becomes a difficult thing to comprehend taking a risk. It’s a comfort zone we move into, and human beings, by their very nature, are averse to change, there is an inertia inside us that always tries and keeps us where we are, irrespective of what we might think. Or, like many of us learn to compromise with our dreams, because of circumstances, or a multitude of reasons.

They say there are two options: love what you do, or do what you love! The only problem, according to me, with the first option is that it somehow represents a non-fulfillment of our potential or the purpose we have come into this world for, and is thus, to a degree, unacceptable to me. Of course, many of us might already be doing what they love (and I count those souls blessed!) or have learnt to love what we are doing, or at least learnt to put our lives in a kind of a comfort-inducing pattern which somehow fills up our days with activity, and helps provide for our comfortable lives.

But, for the rest (which includes me), we need to keep looking, keep searching for that one thing we have been sent here for, and keep searching for some more meaning in our everyday lives, as well as keep searching for that courage to take the plunge when the realization dawns! But till the time we get there, I have a few suggestions to make our lives feel better, and to feel more alive (I have tried this and this works!). In fact, its simple really- be nice to people! Yes, ridiculous as it may sound, it’s a great way to feel more alive. And here, I mean anyone you come in touch with, it can be your driver, your servant, the traffic policeman, the cafeteria boy in office, absolutely anyone! Give them a smile when they look at you, and you will see the impact! Trust me, its much easier to be nice to people than to be rude, and when we are nice to someone, we are actually being nice to a part of us, and that’s why you will always feel bright and happy when you help someone. Its actually yourself you are helping- small things, join an NGO in the weekends, spend an hour of your week’s time with poor kids or old people, sponsor a child’s education, and I promise you, you will instantly feel more alive. You know why? Because this is precisely what distinguishes us from animals, the ability to feel/care for someone else apart from ourselves!

And of course, meanwhile, we will keep looking for that answer that eludes us for the time being, and which will ensure we live everyday of our lives, and don’t just exist, and when time comes to walk into the sunset, we do so with the satisfaction of a life well-lived! God bless!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mile sur mera tumhara!

Some years back, when we were in school, there was this lovely jingle on tv (Doordarshan then), “Mile sur mera tumhara, to sur bane hamara”. I don’t know how many of you remember that, but it left an indelible mark on my mind, it was one of those innocent ideas we grew up with. All those people from different parts of India, walking and running together, singing songs in their own languages, and eventually everyone joining together and singing the above lines, it was a beautiful piece, and if you ask me, nothing has managed to capture the true essence of our country better than that 5-minute long song. It somehow told me that I am a part of a country whose strength lies in its diversity, and that somehow, in some strange manner, the diverse parts come together to form a beautiful homogeneous whole! And somehow, the whole always manages to exceed the sum of parts in this union.

Today, on the 62nd birthday of our young nation, this is the first thought that comes to my mind. Think of it, in how many countries on this earth would you find such an amazing range of diversity, starting from the 28 states and numerous union territories, to the amazing number of languages being spoken there, the diverse set of customs, the huge range of food habits (ranging from the mouth-watering paranthas & chicken butter masala in the north, to the dal-bati-churma in Rajasthan, to the hilsa & sweets in Bengal, to the vada-pav and pav-bhaji in Mumbai, to the spicy Chettinad chicken & biriyani in Andhra, right down to appam and stew in Kerala!), the amazing dance forms (like chou, bihu, kathak, bharatnatyam, garba, bhangra to name a few) that are as diverse from each other as salsa, tango and jive, the different dress materials, the different weather patterns in different areas of India! Think of the geographical diversity, ranging from the Himalayas up north, to the gangetic plains down below, to the Thar desert in the west and the lush green paddy fields in the east, the beautiful hills of the “seven sisters’ of North-east, to the huge coastline along the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, well I can go on and on, but you get the point!

Before leaving home, I, like many others, believed anything south of the Deccan is South India, and therefore, similar. Little did I know that Tamil Nadu and its people are as different from Karnataka and Andhra as Punjab is different from Kerala! Truth to say, I got a feel of the real diversity that exists in this country only after I left home, and that is when I truly fell in love with the idea of India! Its mind-boggling, to say the least, and if you take some time out to think of the diversity that exists, and inspite of which we manage to function as one country, united at our heart, you know why an author once proclaimed that “knowing India fully can take a lifetime, and that knowing India is like taking a peek into your own soul”.

There is a file line between nationalism and nationalistic chauvinism, a line I don’t intend to cross even given my love for my country. There are a lot of ills that plague us today, ranging from terrorism, both internal and external, the ever present spectre of corruption, which some people claim has become an inseperable part of our daily existence. There is of course, the ever-present threat of poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy & unemployment, which in turn give rise to a host of other socio-economic-political issues.

But, the eternal optimist that I am, I see scope for hope and positivity. Economically, we are ever improving, and do have sound fundamentals, we have an effective judiciary in place, and most importantly, I see the political scenario changing, slowly, but still, changing and for the better! I have always maintained that the politico of any nation is its most important section, if only for the sheer reach and scope of its influence. And herein, I see more and more sections of youth taking an active interest, more political parties realizing that they need to cater to this demanding vote bank, and I foresee a gradual cleansing of our political system in years to come (well, this bodes well for me too, given my own political ambitionsJ).

So, I end this on a positive note, with a hope and prayer, and a call (as always) to every one of us to keep the faith in our country, and start taking active interest in the goings-on of our country and our system, and I promise you guys, tomorrow is always gonna be brighter! Jai Hind!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Getting it straight!

It is kind of unfortunate that in a vibrant, thriving democracy as ours, which stands on the three pillars of legislative, executive & judiciary, making important decisions and keeping harmful & divisive elements at bay is often left to the last of the three-our courts! And have they delivered over the last few years- think of all progressive judgements coming out of our courts and it makes one thing clear- judiciary is probably the only institution that has worked well for us post-independence.

And added to the impressive list of judgments is the recent ruling by the Delhi HC pronouncing the legality of gay rights, and saying in the process that article 377, which says homosexuality- even consensual sex under the same- is punishable by law. Now this law was drafted around 150 years back by the British- a lot has changed since that time! Without going into the good and bad of the changes (for that debate is a never-ending one, one best done on a rainy holiday afternoon over tea and pakoras), it is clear to everyone that times they are a changin’, and however much it might put some of us into discomfort, we need to clearly draw a line between personal and public space, something which doesn’t come easily to us Indians! Honestly, what someone does in his/her bedroom is best left to that person, without getting unduly nosy/judgmental about the same. If you ask me, that’s the main disease that plagues us- we are too judgemental as people, jumping to conclusions is almost second nature to us.

For a long time now, society has perceived those of a different sexual orientation in a particular stereotypical fashion. What has also not helped is the portrayal in our films- the most influential medium if you talk of reach and penetration. This has only reinforced the stereotypes already existing, and frankly we all have been equally guilty of the same, forgetting that its purely a personal choice to be straight or gay.

Which is why the judgement, coming as it has from a high court, is a pleasant surprise, a landmark one at that! That the court has realized that we need to be more mature as a nation that is striving for, and may even achieve, superpower status in the new century, and also one which has always stood for plurality in society, and states equality and liberty as the paramount values that our society should stand for, is a momentous occasion.

Of course, given the peculiar political compulsions that exist in our country, with smaller parties having to pander to their particular vote banks, and our religious leaders who wield considerable clout socially and politically, getting the law repealed will still take some doing. But there is no doubt about the fact that we have taken a crucial, if small, step towards showing the world what Indian society truly stands for- freedom of choice!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Sometimes, life has this strange habit of throwing up perplexing issues and questions before us, questions which we often don’t have answers to, and on these occasions one has to wonder about what is right or wrong, and whether what happened was right or wrong.

A lot usually gets spoken about and written about love, over the centuries poets, writers and philosophers have put forth various views about this, many a story has been written, many a memorable character created, but at the end of the day, there still are a lot of questions left unanswered.

Of course, love in itself is a beautiful thing, weather changes pattern, colors seem brighter, people seem better, that sound of falling raindrops outside, that cool breeze, that holding hands with your loved one and walking in the rain, forgetting all your troubles and issues, and just that feeling that life is beautiful, that music in your soul, that look in the eyes, its all….magical! Something that every person should experience at least once in a lifetime, for it makes us a better person.

But, it would have been fine and perfect if it was limited to only that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and like everything else in life, there are two, or rather, many sides to this coin as well! Things become complicated, issues arise when you thought everything was perfect, and often things don’t end up the way we had envisaged. Sad, but I guess that’s part of what life teaches us, part of something that completes us as individuals.

They say that true love is not holding on to something/someone dear to you, true love is about letting go. Well, easy to say, but very very painful to do. I mean, you cant just overnight let someone go who was a part of your life and dreams till the other day, right? It tears you apart. But, again, part of life I guess. But the question that really arises is at what point do you let go? When do you decide that things have come to an end? Is there any end? Can you really end love? I don’t know, don’t have the answers to that one….

But, in any case, I think the best thing for us is to realize that its all part of a greater plan, and if we have undergone this pain, its for our own good. It’s a chapter added to the book of life, which we keep reading till the last day of our lives. At times we do feel a tinge of regret about what happened, we think what if I had acted that way and said that thing? Maybe things would have been different. Maybe, but that wasn’t part of the plan, that’s why that didn’t happen.

Maybe the best way to live is to live in the present, and not have any regrets about the past. We would still face those bends and crossroads of life where we are face-to-face with someone we held dear once, and we would still feel a sharp pain somewhere, but I guess that pain purges us, it makes us feel alive. And as for love, that’s something that never ends, it’s a part of who we are, and true love also doesn’t restrict us or constrict us, it actually does set us free, free to experience this beautiful world, free to love someone again, in that same passionate way, free to spread this feeling, and to see the goodness inside each and every one of us, to help the helpless, to love the shunned, and to lend a healing touch to the suffering, and to make this world a much much better place to inhabit! God bless!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

10 things I want to do before I die ....

I just thought about all those lists people draw up about the things they want to do in their lives, and so came up with the 10 things I want to do before I die (I am pretty serious about this list):
1. Write a book
2. Get a 6-pack
3. Jump off a plane
4. Go to North/South pole
5. Form a band, perform on stage
6. Open a shop/company
7. Shout at someone
8. Learn as many dance forms as possible
9. Enter politics
10. Meet Madonna

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Complete Citizen- Finally!

Yes, you guessed it right- I cast my first vote today, and, though many of you would have exercised this before, its giving me a good feeling- no, this wouldn’t change the wrong things around me, or make this world a better place, but this at least makes me feel like a complete citizen today, and gives me the right to raise my voice when I see something wrong happening, without feeling like I haven’t done my bit!

The last few days for me, at home, have been electorally charged. Happens when you have a politically aware household, and live in the perhaps the most politically charged city (Kolkata) in the whole country.

No kidding, guys! For those of you who have been following the election process for the last month (at least I have, and trust me, it’s a hundred times more interesting than the contrived IPL DLF maximums & Citi moments of success- ugh!!), we have been treated to voter turnout percentages of 40-60% around the country, with supposed politically aware cities like Pune registering an abysmally low (and extremely disappointing) 45%, the Mumbai glitterati in posh South Mumbai finding electoral similarities with the illiterate poor of the dusty interiors of Bihar, from the communally charged Gujarat to the extremely passionate Andhra, it has all mostly been a sorry tale of low voter turnouts. A lot was to blame, with excuses ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous- public apathy towards the continual non-governance by their elected representatives, the mid-summer heat, the IPL circus, people leaving town to take advantage of the 4 day weekend, people staying in town but refusing to leave home from fear of another Tsunami (ok, I made that up!), etc. etc. etc.

But if any of you have kept tab on the voter turnouts in West Bengal, it has been an astonishing 80% (and that is the average figure, at places it has been higher!)!! Yes, with all the attendant problems we talked about, and some more- Maoist threat and violence, non-Maoist threat and violence- I mean that unleashed by the political parties. The elections here have been violent to say the least, the usual complaints of booth jamming, rampant rigging, threatening voters with dire consequences have all been present, but all this have not been able to keep voters inside their homes. And today, when I was standing in the voter’s line for one and a half hours, the atmosphere there itself said a lot. People talking to each other, discussing politics, who will win and who deserves to rot in hell, I realized the satisfaction people derive from casting their vote, for it makes them feel powerful & relevant, even if once in 5 years! And that, my friends is the power of democracy!!

Now comes another interesting part- the post-poll analysis, the exit polls, and finally the D-day- 16th May when the results are going to be announced, and politics and arithmetic will blissfully be married time and again, for that shot at forming the government, or at least being a part of it, or even if that’s not possible, issue-based support from outside which can be withdrawn at a convenient occasion! And we would do well to keep a keen eye on the same, for even in these issueless elections, this probably is the most critical election in a long time, and who occupies the important positions at the helm might have more bearing on our lives than we care to imagine. So, let the credits roll, and the show begin!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why we should vote, at least this time!!

So, the once in five years circus is in town again. Yes, I’m referring to our very own dance of democracy- the general elections- the month long tandav that captivates a billion people, on which crores are spent by our mighty political parties, and the sure-shot short term TRP boost for all our news channels! April and May are going to add to the already unbearable heat of the Indian summer, thanks to the high-octane election action.

Now, and this is something I firmly believe, this election is different, or rather, should be treated differently, by both the ruling class as well as us- the ‘Youngistaan’ generation. Traditionally, as far as our generation is concerned, and by this I mean the city-bred middle class youth, we have been least bothered by the outcome of elections, and who comes to power, and the primary reason behind that has been the fact that most of us have not cared to vote at all. And for good reason, I mean, who do we vote for? The thoroughly inept and corrupt politicians almost seem a mirror image of each other, and would it really matter who comes to power this time as well?

It will. And there are reasons for that. First, rarely has the country, or indeed the world (still, I’m restricting myself to the country level for the time being) been faced with such a two-pronged trouble as it is being faced with now- terrorism and recession. The last 4-5 years have seen a march by India inc. towards a stronger economy and a louder voice on the world fora, due primarily to our companies performing creditably on the world stage, and another factor which we often tend to overlook- our being a successful democracy is something a lot of countries around the world look up to. However, all that has been briefly halted by some unfortunate events in the last 5-6 months- the shameful Satyam saga, the Mumbai attacks as well as the global recession the effects of which are being felt in India as well.

Now, what will any one who comes to power do about all this, you might ask. A lot, actually. Lets go one by one on the issues discussed. Terrorism, a critical issue at the quietest of times, is living amongst us, hatching devious schemes, and the fact that we are living in a dangerous neighborhood, as the recent SWAT deal has demonstrated, only adds to the criticality of the issue. Thus, the need becomes paramount of having the right people in power who would be able to look after internal security as well as frame pragmatic realpolitik policies, which is always a fine balancing game. Next, the recession. The past few days have demonstrated to us the importance of governments having to step in to bail out sick private sector behemoths, and having a good bunch of policy-makers and economists at the helm is all too important and can never be over-stressed to see us through this current crisis.
Of course, all said and done, first we don’t know if our politicians would actually be upto scratch to take care of all these issues in an effective manner, and even if some of them are, we are not sure if we know who they are. Of course, the perennial grouse is always there as an excuse- what difference will it make if I vote? Will the right guys come to power? Well, they will certainly not if we don’t vote, and the final argument, similar to all youth who use it against there parents when arguing in favour of love marriages, if I choose my life-partner (read-policy makers), I know I will be responsible for the state of my life (read country), now isn’t that a feeling worth having?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A (half) marathon experience!

My feet are aching, lower legs especially, and am feeling a bit drowsy, even after sleeping for 2.5 hours in the afternoon. That pretty much tells you what I was up to today (please, no mischievous guesses!). yes, I ran (and walked) and somehow completed the half-marathon (21 kms) along with 20000 other Mumbaikars & some foreigners as well, and am glad to say this, am feeling a sense of satisfaction and happiness when I look back at the entire experience of about 3.5 hours!

I won’t go into the usual suspects when it comes to describing the experience, namely the Mumbai spirit (though I cant leave that out as wellJ), or even more broadly the human spirit, but it would suffice to say that I, and am sure everyone who had taken part or even watched it from the side, had a whale of a time!

Right from reaching the starting point at 6.30 in the morning after waking up at 5, to starting off with resonant cries of “Bharat Mata ki Jai!”, all the contestants and non-contestants (like me!) poured out into the South Mumbai streets in the slight early morning chill, and we saw the sun rise on us as we traversed the Marine Drive (doing so, I fulfilled a long-standing wish of mine- running on Marine Drive!). I realized after 4 kms of running that its prudent not to overestimate my fitness, and combined running with walking for the rest of the course.

Sorry guys, but am feeling a compelling need to come back to Mumbai and human spirit, because, at the end of the day, those are pictures that stay with you- Old couples running together, a group of autistic people being led by the volunteers, their eyes all the while displaying their enthusiasm and happiness at being able to be part of something our so-called ‘normal’ society indulges in, disabled people on wheelchairs pedaling away with gusto, strangers calling out and waving to each other while walking/running, people cheering from the sidelines with words like” Come on!”, “Run!”, “There is always hope!”, a little bespectacled child standing on the sidewalk with a wide grin on his face, holding a beautifully painted India flag on a piece of paper with the words “Chak de India!”, groups of volunteers offering water and ice packs, people coming out from their homes with bottles of water, packets of biscuits and fruits for complete strangers, smile on their faces and encouraging words on their lips- and many many more!

These are the things I’ll take away with me, and when I sit back and wonder what it was that kept me going, I can only think of these images, the entire atmosphere and the whole lot of people who kept going. In a way, I guess that’s what life is all about, right? Keeping going, keeping the flagging body going with the help of an indomitable sprit and will of mind, despite setbacks (Sorry guys, getting a bit carried away here, but you get the point!)

I have made a commitment to myself to keep running every year, and every time I’ll feel down or depressed at what life is dealing me with, or things around me seem unfair, or there is despair all around, all I need to do is to think of the face of the autistic and the wheelchair-bound people, the sheer hope and happiness radiating from them, and I’ll know, as in that recent song, “Everything’s gonna be all right!!”

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009- A wish-list!!!

Hmmm, well, so its 2009! 9 years into the new millennium and it just feels yesterday we were caught up with the y2k problem, which incidentally was the most memorable reminder of the new millenium, yes, such are the ironical times we live in!!

So, my hyperactive idle brain thought (well, I’m at home sweet home, you see!), why not ramble on something about the coming year, and what would we want from it. I initially thought I’d write something heavy, which I like doing, but then realized I’m not angry enough at this pointJ

So here goes, my own wish list for 2009:

Ø Starting with cricket (I’m a fanatic you see!), would love to see Dhoni send Zaheer & Bhajji to open the batting, given his penchant for surprising his opponents, & maybe bring himself on as the opening bowler, and have Venky Prasad with his super-slomo bouncers at the other end, which will dip on the batsmen with the speed of a lawn-mower, and the batsmen would get out bored of waiting for the ball at the wicket
Ø Coming to the other great Indian obsession- Bollywood, I’ve heard from reliable sources that Sanjay Dutt is building 12-pack abs (!!) after the 8-pack blitz we have had to endure from boy-man Aamir Khan. I wish Sanju baba and his packs well, and hope for the perennial no-hoper and woman-groper Shakti Kapoor to gun for 16 packs (not sure where the other packs would fit in one’s body, maybe a couple at the back and a few on the legs!)
Ø How can I forget the greatest Indian obsession-politics? Of course, given the current lot of rock stars we have in office, nothing much remains to be said, but with the general elections slated for this year, how about wishing for the great Dalit hope and messiah Mayawati to play the king-maker in an expectedly hung parliament and wrest the post of the prime minister of our country! That way we will soon have her statues adorning all important and critical public institutions like Nirmala(for the uninitiated- chain of super-clean and comfy public toilets), barber shops (given her stylish mane) and we would have only one national holiday- her birthday which would be celebrated with much pomp and prominent guests like Michael ‘Whacko’ Jackson, Bappi ‘the gold plated’ Lahiri & Samantha ‘thunder-thigh’ Fox would be asked to perform for the stunned audience!!
Ø Of course, how can I forget all of us, I mean all of you readers, many of whom have either already bitten the forbidden passion fruit, the eternal poison ivy, undertaken the mother of all battles- marriage, or are about to do so this year! Yes, I know there are many of us whose heads are on the chopping block, and the hour that would define our future is nigh, but fear not my friends, for we will fight till the finish, what say??

Well, enough of rambling on, and for those of you who have managed to reach this point without losing your mind, and are searching for me to beat me up, I’m not reachable currently, because I’m working on developing a half-pack stomach, which will be unveiled shortly!!