Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An year down the memory lane!

It's been an year since the horrifying terror attack took place in Mumbai. The financial capital of our country was put in turmoil by a bunch of crazy lunatics who thought destruction was the way to achieve their objectives. Hundred lost their lives and the psychological trauma left behind was beyond the scope of imaginations. But the Mumbaikars recovered soon enough and brought back our financial capital to life. As we pay homage to our heroes like,
Assistant Police Sub-Inspector Tukaram Omble[37], who succeeded in capturing a terrorist alive, with his bare hands.
* Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare
* Additional Commissioner of Police: Ashok Kamte
* Encounter specialist: Vijay Salaskar
* Senior inspector Shashank Shinde
* NSG Commando, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan
* NSG Commando, Hawaldar Gajendra Singh
My very good friend Pradyumna, who is a good writer himself did a post on the tragedy and it's impact on our society. Hope it makes you think, just like it made me think. Good job dude. Enjoy the post guys. . .

March 12th, 2003:

A series of thirteen explosions in Mumbai, then called Bombay, resulted in 257 deaths and over 700 injuries. The blasts were orchestrated by the organized crime syndicate called the D-Company, headed by Dawood Ibrahim.

We Indians are a bunch of peace loving people. We are extremely tolerant. For the next 15 years all terrorist attacks that killed scores of innocent Indians, wounded and crippled some for the rest of their lives had one simple fact to tell. The simple fact was overwhelmingly clear and barely obvious on the surface of it. Yes, we can take a lot more, we can take a lot more of blood-shed, yes, we have a lot many people to spare (after all, we are the 2nd most populous country in the world), and yes, every enterprising terrorist is never denied a right to kill under an equal opportunity scheme in the world’s biggest democracy. Rats from across the border are cordially received by the rats inside the country and successfully bombs are planted and human life is juiced and pulp-ed. In an overwhelming urge to welcome all people, in an unending desire to press all people to our bosoms, our hearts, we couldn’t identify the rats from across the border and those rats among ourselves (these are of the dangerous kind, the kind that feed on milk from the breast of a mother and then strike her dead) we attracted the wrath of un stable nihilistic rats, surprisingly humans, who kill for no reason.

And what did we do about it? Nothing! We adjusted. Well if they planted bomb in a train, the next day we took the train again, we never questioned why? because our near or dear werent there on that train. And if they were there on that train, what did we do? We questioned God but never once questioned ourselves!

Why did this happen? how could a bunch of radicals, a dozen armed mad-men come into the heart of this country and wound my brothers and sisters? How could they raise questions on the integrity of the population? 'We’ are always waited for some other person to raise the questions while we ourselves were comfortable and safe. We always looked at the government that is always rendered inactive during times of crisis (they are always too busy blaming themselves). But then something happened, one day exactly one year back that changed the thought process of the “AAM AADMI”:

November 26th, 2008:

The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's financial capital and its largest city. The attacks, which drew widespread condemnation across the world, began on 26 November 2008 and lasted until 29 November, killing at least 200 people and wounding at least 308.

I still remember that dawn of November 26th, 2008. It was a pleasant morning. Chilling and lazy like any other winter morning. There were no signs of any impending holocaust. But, I still remember how I watched with horror as the terrorists took siege of the Taj hotels and the Oberoi hotel. I still remember the visual of terrorist, who was looking very much like like any other student, shooting at people in the Chatrapati Sivaji Terminal. I remember how I watched the Indian fight against terror for the next 3 days. As I watched all these visuals of what was happening to my brothers and sisters there, along with the rest of the country, something seemed to seethe and simmer inside blood started boiling. So did the blood of all other Indians who were watching what was going on.

These attacks were a slap across the face of India, a slap that awoke all Indians from their indifferent slumber. For once the tolerance of Indians broke, for once they were tired of staying mum, of adjusting, of tolerating, of accepting, of being defeated, of being run about, of fear, of indifference, of nihilism, of fucking terrorists who took lives of their brothers and sisters. It was high time it all stopped and that was the day when Indians thought ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’

Ultimately always good comes out of bad, and in that sense bad is also good in its on way. Heroes were born. Ordinary people reacted in an extraordinary way. The entire nation for once forgot its differences and came together to raise voice against the injustice, against the madness. For once, Indians identified themselves as Indians, not as Punjabis, Rajasthanis, Tamils. The whole country prayed for their brothers and a sense of universal brotherhood prevailed. The world was shown what 1 billion of people, who stood on one word can achieve. The spirit that was India was displayed. Every Indian, raised above his small problems and stood up for the cause. The cause to save Indians, not to tolerate such incidents of horror again.

Today, one year after it all happened, I think we can all assert with confidence that we are a different bunch of people. This time around we are a more mature lot of people. We saw the spirit that is Indian and the unity among ourselves. We realized the need to remain united against all these challenges. To raise our voice against terrorism in all forms. For sure there wont and should not be another 26/11. Come lend a hand.........and let it reverberate...

Jai Hind!

Pradyumna Malladi

A bolt of lightning!

I was inspired after reading a blog written by a girl from someplace I didn’t know. She wrote a firsthand account about how a girl would feel when she is about to kiss her boyfriend for the first time. I was quite disappointed that she ended the write up saying that it was all a dream that flashed through her brain while listening to a romantic song. Nevertheless, her narration was fantastic and very good to read. So, here I am, trying to write something romantic myself. I don’t expect it to be like Nicholas Sparks, A walk to remember or Eric Sehgal, Love Story. So, please bear with me.

This incident which is not exactly romantic is still a very memorable incident which I still happen to remember till the very trivial detail. It happened when I was doing my plus two. Those two years were the dark ages of my life. Along with being extremely bad in grades and irritable in behaviour, I was also fat and extremely unappealing. Many of my relatives wrote me off as a kid who didn’t talk much and kept himself to himself. It was December and my uncle was visiting India along with his family. We were having a real blast and lots of fun. We were in MGM Selvee World, a basically crappy but the only theme park in our city that made it popular. After paying 125 bucks for the tickets, we were able to get onto most of the rides given the fact that most of the rides are always under repairs. After finishing a few rides, we came up to the place with the Giant Wheel. That was an impressive addition to the park at that point of time because a theme park is never complete without a giant wheel.

As I stepped out into the openness of the park, a wave of cold swept from the ocean brushed against my face. It got better when the mist from the sea gave a tinge of warmth to the air. I could almost taste the salt in my mouth as I sucked in the cool sea breeze. I got high and started humming a happy tune. My three sisters were too busy talking to enjoy the climate. They were discussing about the latest Barbie dolls in town. (Err; Sushu, Bharu and Meena don’t mind you were pretty young then) My uncle was trying to make sure that we stayed and talked as a group. We queued up near the giant wheel. People were being put into cabins, four persons each. Since the thing was very new, the staffs were being extra careful and also extra fussy.

My uncle and my three sisters hopped in as soon as an empty one arrived. Through my uncle tried to convince the operator guy into putting me also into the cabin, he refused after looking at me, saying he had “weight considerations”, the asshole. I imagined punching him square in the face thrice and only managed to scowl at him and moved aside, feeling quite upset. I got into the next one, hoping I’d get a good view of the city which I could savour. I was also wishing that the cool breeze would drown the anger induced by the operator ass. As I settled myself into the next cabin, I spotted someone enter the cabin. I tried not to stare too much as I started capturing her face in the shimmering neon lights of the park. There was this song “Beete Lamhein” from “The Train” playing in the back ground. The image of her face remains etched in my head till this very moment and I recollect it as I type this on MS word 2007.

She was tall, slim and fair with a golden honey complexion that looked more radiant and bright in the orange neon light. Her eyes were soot black and had the depth of a black hole. Her gaze had a magnetic quality just like the depth of the black hole. Once you lock into the gaze, it’s almost impossible to unlock. She had cherry red pouted lips (No, she didn’t wear lipstick I am fairly sure) that held her beautiful smile. Her hair had a life of its own. She had the most wonderful soft and straight hair which reached till her shoulders and was left open to play with the wind. She entered the cabin pink and flustered. She was having great fun obviously. She thumped down on the semi-circular seat of the cabin, sitting exactly on the opposite side facing me. She uttered an audible grunt as her friends took another cabin as per the space requirements.

She acknowledged my presence with an enthusiastic hello. I looked up to greet her and I saw her much more completely this time. She was wearing a white t-shirt which said some incomprehensible nonsense along with a few specks of colour thrown in at random places. She wore brown cargos and sensible sport shoes. (I’ve seen females wearing pointed heels while dancing. God save them if they slip.) I nodded and greeted her with a straight face and extended my hand and introduced myself.

“Hi! I’m Harsha.”

“Hi Harsha, Good to meet you. I’m Shruthi.”

We then exchanged information about where we lived and what we were studying. I was in my second year of my plus two. She was one year my junior. I told her about my college, Sri Chaitanya and how they tortured us in the college day in and day out. She was a sympathetic listener and she also had her own experiences in FIIT JEE. I tried not to look too much at her, as she kept her deep black eyes locked on me all the topped with her magnetic glance.

“I live in Hyderabad and this is the first time I’ve come to Vizag. Beautiful place your city. I’m having a real blast.” She said.

“Yeah, you people must be loving the beach isn’t it? All you have in Hyderabad is a water tank which is fuller with Ganesh idols most of the time.”

She laughed heartily at my stupid joke. The wind started blowing the hair into her face sending it into her eyes and her mouth making her look like one of those Pepsodent ad models. She brushed the loose curls aside and started speaking again.

The ride by then had begun and the cabin stopped mid way as there were more people getting into the giant wheel. The wind here was much cooler and much heavier with the mist. I was lost for a moment in my own thoughts. I started sucking air through my mouth to taste the saltines of the sea. I caught her looking at me with an expression, mixed with curiosity and anxiety.

“Oh, I was just trying to taste the saltiness of the air. It becomes salty when it mixes with the mist of the sea you know. I just like doing it”
She closed her eyes and took a lungful of air though her mouth. She looked thoughtful for a minute and opened her eyes.

“Yeah, tastes good” she said with a smile.

I pointed out the various places in the city. From that height, in the night, Vizag was a big box of shining neon light jewels shimmering bright in the deep darkness. As the wheel started spinning, I started screaming just for the heck of it. The girl herself was completely unfazed and looked at me as I screamed.

“It gives more excitement to the ride I feel.” I said, feeling stupid for screaming like a ten year old.

She smiled her Pepsodent smile again and soon we were screaming “WEE” at the top of our voices both of us trying to sound louder than the other. After four rounds, she was able to identify Kailash hills and Dolphin nose with the knowledge I passed on to her. After fifteen minutes or so (lost count of time so I was unsure about the duration of the ride) the ride ended and soon we had to get off.

“It was great fun talking with you, I thought I’d get very bored” she said.

“Me too, you were also fun to talk with” I replied.

Since this is a real life experience none of us took the initiative of exchanging phone numbers or mail id’s. It doesn’t make sense when you know the girl only for ten minutes I thought. We shook hands and moved towards our respective groups.

“Hope I see you someday again” she said, with her smile fading away into a straight face.

“I wish the same” I said with a blank expression to hide the momentary sadness I felt.

I never saw her again after that but the memories of the day stay etched in my brain till this very day. Such is the course of life; some people enter in like bolts of lightning making you see the day light in the middle of the night, but only for a minute. Some people are like candles, they stand by you till they perish. Ignore the bolts, and stay faithful to your candles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some things that you wish you'd had. . .

Well well well. Hi ya folks! End of yet another season of exams and here I am all enthusiastic and back to writing my blog once again. This time I’m attempting to write something that I’ve never tried before. If this post is going to strike a vibe, you’ve probably seen things like this in your family as well.

To start off, I had the chance to attend a marriage of someone I knew well after a very long time. After I got into engineering, it’s only been attend-dinner/lunch type weddings that I’ve attended or seen. I met up with my cousins who were almost about the same age as me with few minor differences in ages. They were related to me from my father’s side and all of them were my second cousins if you put it that way. I was never really a part of their close knitted network but I was rather the fellow who did cameo appearances in few parts. I really enjoyed the wedding given the fact that I went out to relatively few weddings. We were chatting away the entire night since the wedding was to take place in the early morning. Such is the case with most Hindu marriages. The auspicious date, eight time out of ten is somewhere between midnight to wee hours of the night. Just to ensure that the people who are getting married feel special. How? They lose sleep; hence they remember the day they had to lose lovely sleep on a cold December night, to stay together for the rest of their life.

Coming back to me enjoying the wedding, we just chatted away the entire night talking about random stuff like college, people and stuff young people talk when they get the chance. Soon, it was time for the main ceremony. People, who slept, woke up rather unwillingly trying to steal few more minutes in the snugness of their blankets. We on the other hand looked tired and red eyed. Things didn’t help much when we were already sleep deprived from the tormenting exams that ended the very day.

But nothing deters the girls from their attempts to look good. Though we never bothered as much as to wash our faces, the girls were sitting with us all the time looking the same tired and red eyed way, were up in the flash as soon as the priest announced it was time. Soon, they were looking all fresh and beautiful in their new dresses reserved for occasions like these. We had no choice to admire them and take pictures. Sad man.
As the wedding progressed, people became more active and the sleep spell started to fade away, as our suppressed sleep spell started to surface itself. Soon, the starters were done with and it was time for the major ceremony. As the groom tired the Magala Sutra around the bride’s neck binding them together for the rest of their life, people rejoiced and blessed them all with luck and happiness throughout their life. I was standing there with the rest of the people holding a camera and clicking pictures. After the grim and emotional main ceremony there was the part that young people in the ceremony enjoyed.
Called the Talambralu ceremony, the bride and the groom showed each other with rice. Why? I do not know. But this much I can tell you. The people who get married love doing it for a reason, it’s the only part of the marriage that you don’t have to do what you are told. You just take handfuls of rice and shove it on the head of your better half. Cool, isn’t it?
I was standing on the side of the center stage where the proceedings took place. The first cousins of the girl who was getting married crowded around her, whistling and thoroughly enjoying their sister’s happiness. Of course, they were born and brought up together. They played together throughout their childhood and shared their worlds. One person’s happiness or sadness was shared with everyone. They went to movies together and made fun of each other. The girl cousin helped her male cousin to talk with the girl he fancied and the male cousin made sure that the female cousin was not stopped from going to the movies she wanted because she was alone and it was not safe to let her go out alone. They helped each other on tough college assignments and the male cousin was able to pass the exam successfully with a little bit of copying from his female cousin’s paper.

As the Talambralu ceremony continued, I saw the female cousins shed a few tears as they were going to miss a beloved member of their family, a person who grew up with them, a person who was the part of their life till that day. I felt sad and jealous. Why? I was more like a friend to them. A friend with whom you shared jokes and hi-fi’s whenever you met. I felt sad because I missed that part of growing up. I was jealous because, I was not sure if that joy would come in my life.

All three of my dad’s brothers immigrated to US when my own cousins were little kids. Though they visited us once in every two or three years; though we frequently chatted online, text couldn’t replace smiles and cell phones couldn’t replace comforting embraces. All my life I’ve grown up with friends as my world. So, is the case with anyone who has their direct relatives living far off. It is easy when they are accessible at least in summer vacations or in winter holidays. But it’s hard to meet up when they are living a thousand miles on the other side of the ocean.

I knew the joy of celebrating a birthday with ten of my friends whooping my ass after I fed them with food. I knew the joy of riding on a friend’s bike as we went to college. I knew the joy of going to the beach after a late night’s sleepover. I knew the joy of bunking college and going to movies with them.

But I only knew about sitting in restaurants and talking about people we knew when my own cousins met me. I never had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday with my cousins spraying party foam all over the place. I never had the chance to sneak out with them for late night movies. I never had the chance to console them when they were sad and I never had the chance to hug them when I was overjoyed. All I knew was using smiles on yahoo messenger and facebook to express what I really felt.

People say that, you only realize what you lost until you find the joy in having it. I’ve lost the chance to share my childhood and teens with my cousins. I’ve lost the chance to live with them. So, is the case with many people in our Indian societies. When this will stop? I don’t have an answer. Do you? Will the need for making money ever overpower the need for family? I still don’t know. . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Trying to remember... Unable to decipher!

They say romantic feelings create poems. They say break up’s cause poems. They say nature makes you create great poems. But sometimes great irritation makes you write poems. Here is one . . .

I wake up this morning; my head is in a misty haze. . .
I try to clear the haze, looking into the mirror at my own face. . .

My eyes are red; my face looks stressed. . .
Oh yeah, I do look depressed. . .
And yes, I’m just out of bed. . .

What is with today?
It doesn’t seem to be my usual day. . .
What is wrong with today?

I take the bus, Reach College in a rush. .
I take a quick brush though my books still in a rush. . .
Alas, I’ll still have to face anguish. . .

At the paper I stare, my thoughts focused elsewhere. . .
I look at a dewy flower. . .
Admire how it blossoms in the chilly November. . .

Of course, then I falter with an answer. . .
Unable to decipher. . .
Forgetful to remember. . .
That what I read last night, right before dinner. . .

I write the paper at my own will. . .
Pushing the subject down the hill. . .

I try to get though the post exam banter. . .
As the bright kids chatter. . .
Reminding me where I always falter. . .

I don’t care as ever. . .
As I only think “Whatever. . . “

Grades are like a splattering rain in summer. . .
They may make you feel better. . .
They may also make you feel bitter. . .
But, they don’t last forever. . .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fighter Kid!

This is one hilarious incident that I can never forget in my life. This happened when I was in class ten. Me and my friends had to stay back for a maths extra class. I was really irritated and bored after a very long session of maths. Our teacher Chamudeshwari madam was about sixty years old. For some reason she used to resemble this tweety bird from that Loony Toons show. We used to have great fun in her class. Her specialty was that she never got tired of writing on the board. So, that day she went on writing for about 20 minutes non-stop. Our hands started twitching and paining. Finally after about 23 minutes, we saw her put away the chalk piece and massaging her right shoulder with an expression of pain on her face. We were all relieved and put away our pens. She looked at our faces of relief and gave us a wry smile. She twittered in her musical voice. "You may think I cannot write any more but you are mistaken..." We held our breath. She looked around like a magician about to pull out a great trick. We all watched with careful attention. She pulled out a new chalk piece and started writing with her left hand, leaving us all gaping.

I then got into the bus, which was actually for kids from LKG to fifth standard. I sat in the first single seater from the drivers end. I was pretty tired and exhausted after that grueling session of writing. Then this kid came inside the bus. A big heavy bag on his back and a water bottle slung around his neck, he was not more than five years old. Must've been first or second standard, not more than that. He pointed to the seat I was sitting in and said,
"Oy! That place you are sitting is mine. Get up!", he screwed up his eyes and raised his eye brows and made his expression very serious.

I didn't concentrate much till then, with his powerful dialogue, I craned my neck downwards to have a better look.

He looked like one of those kids from the Horlicks and Bournvita ad's with chubby cheeks and and a milky white face reddening every second with anger. He was like three feet tall.

"Hi Champ, I don't have a place to sit. Will you sit in my lap for today?", I asked him in a sweet voice.

"Nothing doing. You cannot sit in my place" he repeated.

My mood turned sore again with the defiance of this little kid who was about one third of height and about one fourth of my weight.

"I guess you have to stand then.", I said and turned to look out of the window.

He took off his bag and tossed it aside. He repeated the same stunt with his water bottle also. I couldn't blame him for that. He was watching too many movies. He curled up his tiny little fingers into a fist and shouted,

"I know how to do WWE!"

At this point of time, I couldn't help it, I burst into uncontrollable giggles. Trying hard to control my laughter, I started to speak again.

"Oh cool! So who is your favorite wrestler?"

He didn't like my laughing. He was absolutely pissed with my behavior. He started brandishing his little fists in my direction and warned me for the second time.

"I'm going to give you choke slam if you don't get up!"

Oh man! seriously, why do parents allow these little kids to see so much of violence at such a young age? Why couldn't they watch Cartoon Network like we did? And I then evaluated his choke slam warning. He was so blind with fury that, my anatomical details didn't register in his little brain.

"Please! Don't hit me. Why don't you come here and sit in my lap? I'll give you a chocolate." I said, trying to coax and cool him at the same time.

My offer didn't please him. He got redder and more mad. This time he came running and hit me in the stomach with a mock punch sound issuing from his mouth.

"Dhishum!! Dhishum!!"

I mock cried in anguish.

"Aaagh! Please don't beat me! Aww!", my smile gave me away.

This time he launched a full fury attack. He started hitting me where ever he felt like hitting. The blows were no effects for someone of my size but his little nails started scratching my skin pretty badly. The kid sensing that I was in no significant pain, tried to kick me in the sensitive areas of my body.

This time, I was seriously pissed.

"Will you stop it now? Or do you wan me to tell your mom!"

Nope. He didn't even pause to acknowledge what I said.

I then had a brain wave. I got up from the seat, picked up the kid and put him on the stand that is used for keeping bags. It was too high for him to jump down.

"AAAGHH!! STUPID!! PUT ME DOWN!! FATTY!! IDIOT!!", he started screaming.

The conductor, who was following the fight right from the beginning ignored him and winked at me. I returned him the wink to thank him for not interfering.

After sometime, the kid cooled down realizing that no one was going to help him beat me up. He then changed his strategy.


"Will you behave yourself this time?", I asked him in a strict tone.

"Yes I will" he promised. His tone sounded genuine.

I picked him up and made him sit in my lap. I offered him the Maha Lacto in my pocket. He gave me a full smile and started crunching away the candy. He looked damn adorable as his mood changed.

"Are you still angry with me? Will you talk to me?", I pleaded.

He nodded absent mindedly trying to mash the candy in his mouth.

"Will you play WWE cards with me?" He offered.

The rest of the journey was spent playing with him. I bid him good bye as my stop came. Kids are adorable creatures. No matter how annoying they are... :)