Monday, June 8, 2009

In our eyes….

During my last visit home I went to my village to see my week old nephew (Anshu : that’s what we named him later). I had seen a few photographs and I was told he was a cherry. Perfectly fair only to turn red when he was hungry. I remember I had rushed into my cousin’s room to take a look at the baby. And there he was lying by his mother, so beautiful I couldn’t help but say he will grow up to be a very fair and handsome young man. Out of pure ecstasy I had failed to notice an elderly woman in the room. And all of a sudden there she was saying ‘naa baba he will probably get darker as he grows old’. I was stunned at the straightness of her words and the confidence in her voice. I could see my bhabi’s face grow a bit pale and the giggle from her face vanish, which all the more infuriated me. By now I was red and then again she said ‘baba you were the same colour when you were born, see how dark you have become’. Me and bhabi both broke into a laughter and I said I remember from my photographs of those days, my skin was the colour of milk.
As a kid, when I was like three or four I used to visit my village a lot. Something about playing with sand and running around with the other kids fascinated me more than the wonderful toys I got to play with at home. So my trips to my village would often start with getting dirty from head to toe, a few bruises here and there and then me being locked indoors and asked not to play with those kids in the dirt. Trips passed by and my stint with the village kids grew shorter with the same story being repeated all over again until some day, I for myself had decided those kids were dirty. By the time I was in 5th or 6th grade, when I went to my village, I won’t even go to play cricket with the other kids in a grassy field, although back home I would rush out to play in the dusty lanes immediately after school.
I remember I loved reading the news paper by the time I was twelve or thirteen. That was vaguely around the time when acts of terrorism were on a rise around the world. Almost all terrorist attacks were organized by Islamic terrorists and the Indian media left no stone unturned in linking all acts of terrorism to Muslims. They were the ones from the planners, to the financers and the petty suicide bombers who carried out the final step. And again there I was caught in the crossfire, my immature mind led to believe all Muslims to be evil, and the effect so devastating that even when I was around eighteen I would look up in suspicion whenever I crossed a bearded man in a kurta
I was nineteen, in the first year of my life as an engineering student. I dare say it’s around this age most of us think of trying out a few new things and I could generalize the new things into alcohol, cigarettes, and girlfriends. Girlfriend, it was never an issue as far as I was concerned ( ahem!! I am still single) but alcohol and cigarettes, they led to me being branded as a bad boy. Every time I walked around with a cigarette or my mouth smelled alcohol I was lectured on by people , I was explained the ill effects ( like I was illiterate) and worst of all I was branded an alcoholic although I have a drink not more than once a month. By the time I reached my third year every time something wrong happened in college it was obvious that people would blame it on some one who drinks alcohol rather than on one who doesn’t. I even remember one incident when I had to fight saying ‘common he may drink his peg of whiskey but he is no trolley waala’.
Now I am twenty two. For probably the last three weeks I have been following the attacks on Indians’ in Australia. Its been a very sad couple of weeks I can say, young , intelligent and successful as I would brand those Indian students there in Australia were rather brutalized. And yet again the Indian media has glorified Australians as racists. As far as I remember it all started with articles like “Indian attacked in Australia" slowly turned into “Racist attacks on Indians’ in Australia” and today most newspapers read “Racist Australians attack an Indian student again”. I do firmly believe the attacks were directed at Indians, but does that mean we brand the whole of Australia as a promoter of racism? Or do we turn ourselves against every Australian who visits our country.
 Had I been fifteen or hot headed as some of my friends I would have hated Australians with all my might, may be I would even kick an Australian to his coffin should I get a chance. And all this thanks to the way our vision has developed over the years. May be the same elderly woman who said Anshu would grow up to get darker was standing besides my mom and had predicted the colour of my skin correctly but I do hope ten years from now Anshu grows up to be a really fair dude. I do hope someday I get the courage to walk down to the village cricket field and play a match although now its more about not having any friends in my native place cause I chose to avoid them. Sometimes I wonder if I was myself prejudiced to the extent that I cast a doubt on every Muslim and at others I think if ever the people who call me a drunkard would look up to me as one of them who has a occasional drink just to freak out. Considering the prejudices I carry after my eyes have seen only twenty two years I don’t really expect the Australians not to be branded as racists but I hope our prejudices don’t turn us into the same bloody racists we hate. Everyone of us has seen the anger in our hearts grow,  may it never go wild.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Evenings and coffees

Thanks to my dad, I know a bit about coffee. Presently with the market facing a gross short supply and investors pumping in billions into the commodities market a kg of clean coffee beans cost around 180 rupees. A bit of help, and fifteen minutes later adding up the cost of the milk, the sugar, the cream and even a small rent on the mug, my king sized mug of coffee doesn’t cost any more than Rs 13.55(cant help it ,the figure on my calculator screen). Add the services, the cushioned chairs and whatever, my mug served steaming hot will now at most be Rs 20.
After spending a month of my summer vacations in front of the modest ‘paan dukkan’, sipping in ‘garam chai’ at not more than Rs 3.00 I, for once tried to explore the reasons that made me visit the up market ‘café coffee days’ and the ‘baristas’ where a cup of cappuccino cost me no less that rupees forty only. As idiotic as you may find me I did find half a dozen reasons.

1. The pain in the ass: Sitting on a wooden plank or the seat of a bike is no way as comfortable as the plush chairs of a CCD. I now have to stand up every fifteen minutes to relieve my ass of the pain. I simply loved those chairs. A definite and valid reason to pay the extra 20 rupees on every cup!!

2. The incentive: In a group of six you didn’t always have to order a mug. You could take your day off and enjoy a sip from every other mug, only to face the awful eyes of the waiter who keeps on asking “anything else sir?” until you lose all your shame and say it loud and clear “nothing for me!”
3. Hassle free smoking: Every time I go smoking, the fear of being caught is more than the fear of dying from cancer. So often it has to be behind a bush or behind the paan dukkan itself. CCD did give me a quiet corner to have a smoke with my friends’ and no, smoking wasn’t banned in public places before 2nd October 2008.
4. Walk in, find a friend: No calls made or received, its 5:30 in the evening and I walk straight into a CCD. No surprises I find a group of friends and the evening was gone. Paan dukkan and the chai have definitely contributed to my increasing phone bills.
5. The dude thing: “Hey mate! Where are you?” this is probably the first line in every call I receive after 5 in the evening and buoy CCD sounded great for an answer, now it’s the paan dukkan behind some big hotel.
6. The treat: Okay I cant miss this. Sizzling hot coffee and a sizzling hot chick (on the other table of course)!! That was a deadly combo. CCD’s do give my dried up eyes (study where I do , and you’ll imagine the Bedouin’s are better off) the biggest treat.

The coffee joints in town have definitely given me their best for years but this summer I suppose it was time for a change. May be I was bored watching the same ladies who took the same table in the corner every evening, or the monotony of the identical taste of the cappuccino. Good bye CCD, bbbyee Barista.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Through the smoke..

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide

At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world
                                         High hopes (Pink Floyd)
We were boozing, we were high and of course we were rejoicing the end of yet another year in our quest to become engineers. Tumult now started to accompany the smoke from the burning sticks of nicotine as the highs and lows of the year gone by was rewound to the last detail. This happens every time people like us sit down to have booze but I would like to brag, our group’s a bit special. We almost try to visualize the whole world from those dizzy heights. There’s always the politics, the economics, literature, sciences, social issues, careers and almost everything else under the sun(all this apart from the usual girlfriend, love, best friend, die for you friends blab la….). All this interspersed by brief moments of silence during which the realizations take shape.
About two hours in to the session, tired from the nonstop blabbering, by then the moments of silence had overgrown the tumultuous periods. As we lay on a double bed forcible pushed in to the small room to accommodate all of us, the silence this time around was broken by a murmur. A kid from the hostel dinning room had come asking for empty bottles of soft drinks. “No bottles in my room” said the voice of the owner of the makeshift pub, then a very brief silence and then a question “why is it that kids are forced to clean up our dinning tables?” , “can’t we be doing something?” “can’t we stop wasting money like this and may be help them out?” (I still hate myself for that). What followed, I ain’t got the vocabulary to describe that, but all I can say is, it lead to the longest debate I have ever been in.
The friend explained a number of things we could do for them, someone even gave us the calculations. You may call me a pessimist or even an evil soul (even I have questioned myself) but I did ask “What would the kid’s family do? Most probably they survive on whatever he earns!” “What can we do about his brother who probably gets his daily bread because this guy is leading a life of misery?”  
Plagued with these we continued to fight on what we can do. Reasoned and unreasoned for hours that followed and finally our exhausted brains reached a consensus (a soul or two still disagreed) on the point that we were probably not in the right stage to help out and we can do it may be a couple of years later when we were settled. 
From those dizzy heights we had seen our dreamed of world with our eyes wide open. The only thing that disturbs me now is the fear of sleepwalking back on this dream. Hope we will someday, in the near future, when we are more capable, work for its realization. I have for ever believed in my self, hope this wont be the reason I will regret that fact. 

(My sincere apologies to every soul in there with me that afternoon for not being able to put this as all of you would have liked.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The stairway to Hell !!!

(Some called it cold blooded plagiarism, others laughed their hearts out but I for some reason enjoy this more than anything coz I have fallen in love with the periodic cycle of exams that brings out this supernatural burst of creativity in me.)

She’s the lady who’s sure,
She can make me to cry,
And she is buying me a stairway to hell.
When she gets to me she knows
With a word she can kill,
Ooh she’s buying me a stairway to hell.
There’s a knife through my brains,
But she wants to be sure,
Cause she knows , sometimes people can have two lives.
In a room by the hall,
There she sat for the kill,
Sometimes all of her thoughts are so unforgiving.
Ooh she just made her kill.
Ooh ooh she just bought me the stairway to hell……

                                                 To be continued..

“Dedicated to the tyranny that exams bring on in the lives of engineering students”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Fake IPL

 (This blog is only a manifestation of my thoughts. It doesn't intend to accuse or defame anyone. )

While most young people like me were busy following the original IPL in South Africa, some thing much more dramatic was happening back home. So dramatic, and mesmerizing, it could beat the hell out of the original IPL from the Indian drawing room discussions. But one thing that has remained is that the INDIAN POLL LEAGUE (Fake IPL), like always gives me reason enough to Laugh Out Loud. Considering my shallow knowledge of the fake IPL (blame it on the real one) I will talk only about the most publicized of our great leaders.
VARUN GANDHI (The front runner): The Preamble to our constitution may give a special emphasis to SECULARISM but he really gives a F*** about it. The Gandhian on the other bank of the river, may yell out as many anti Muslim slogans he can or he even may kill a couple, but this country really knows how to forgive and forget. Cheers VG, Cheers Pilibhit!!!
MULAYAM SINGH YADAV(The veteran): The list of accusations of misappropriation of funds and corruption in his name will definitely need more pages than the Mein Kampf but the voters of Mainpuri wont care as long as it’s from the tax payers pockets. The winner for almost two decades from the constituency does know how to please the people who make his fortunes. Long live MS.
NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU(The superstar): “You may bowl me the Yorker or spin the ball from outside my leg stump, but you cant take my bells off”. The charismatic cricket commentator (that was much better than his cricket) who couldn’t control his anger on the streets and was charged with culpable homicide is all set to become a member of the parliament. Chak de phatte!! Expect a few flying chairs in the house.
SASHI TAROOR(The long distance runner): I did sympathize with him when he lost the office of United Nations Secretary-General, but didn’t any body tell him “gentlemen like him were better off saving the face of the nation outside”. The dude from India at the UN will now have his job cut out when he takes his seat in the parliament. Hats off to you!!! May you serve the nation with all your might..
MOHAMMAD AZHARUDDIN(The dude): He played his cricket with his collars flying high, even fixed matches with the flying collars and now has managed to fix his place in the parliament. The “dude” who tainted the face of Indian cricket has now been given an even more responsible job. All hail the Indian voters!!!! Don’t you ever watch cricket or were his opponents bigger criminals???
 And the matches, leave them!!!! They were stated to be much more interesting with contenders like Mayawati(The Tigress), Narendra (The “run” Rioter) Modi , L K (The slogger) Advani and our dear Manmohan (The fair play winner) Singh running for the captain’s cup, but all was spoilt by the Gandhi’s again..