Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Reflection on the colours of Holi

It was absolutely essential that my Dad had to buy me a new water gun every Holi. It had to be new as well as unique. How funny all that seems now.

When I was a child, the festival of colours was just another festival. Don't worry, I am not going to turn preacher here and dwell on some new spiritual insight I have got. Holi in short, was a time to play with a rainbow of colours and water. It was fun. Why was it fun then and why isn't it the same now? It's not because I'm worried about my hair getting unconditioned and tangled or my skin pores absorbing some harmful chemical. It is because I do not find myself able to lose myself in the joy of the moment.

You see, to play Holi as children do is to lose yourself into a carefree world. To run, to scamper, to not mind being made into a colour pallet. But things change when you have other thoughts, when you wonder whether that project you have on hand will finish. When you worry about the state of your bank account or when that cheque will come in. Or perhaps you might even be idiotic enough to calculate the time wasted in washing all those colours off.

I would like to one day play with these colours like I once did. I would like to get my clothes messed up and not worry how much time I'd take scrubbing out the stains or the other things I could have better invested my time with. Till then those water pistols will remain empty.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Off with his Head!


There were all lined up to die that day. Many were guilty. Many were innocent. Many cried. Many prayed to God. Out of this throng of many, a man stood out. He did not mean to do so. His eyes roved unseeingly over the mob. The girl he had been to talking lay a lifeless corpse. Many were to follow her. He would too.

He had leaned carelessly against the witness box while his double stood trial in Old Bailey. He had worn a nightly shroud of candle wax in many taverns at London. It was he who had stopped for Death.  

 “Thank God she’s safe…” he whispered.

The executioner gestured towards him with hands stained now with blood, not wine.

“Off with his head, off with his head,” chanted the Vengeance like the Queen of Diamonds.




His shoes made hardly any sound as he ascended. Briefly, he raised his eyes to look at the mob below. They were too beneath him to see what he saw. His eyes didn’t see the knitting lying on Madame Defarge’s vacant chair. Nor did they light on the Vengeance or Barsad and Cly. He saw a woman. She seemed an apparation. Her hair was the same gold as Lucy’s. Her eyes the same blue.

“Lucy?” his mind cried.

He felt himself roughly dragged towards St Guillotine. They flung him on the block and he felt the rough wood graze his fingers. Hastily, he looked up to see her face again. It couldn’t be Lucy. His upturned eyes sought for the mysterious angel.

It wasn’t Lucy. Her forehead held not the other’s distinctiveness. She was her replica. The crowd jeered and abused him. He closed his eyes ready to feel the chill of the axe. “A life you love…” he murmured again.

He saw the angel behind his closed lids. There was no darkness. Dr Manette stood beside her his face radiant. ‘It was you! You who I saw in my cell’ said he.

Mr Lorry joined them and Lucy appeared beside him. Her face wasn’t the wan one he had kissed his farewell to. Darney had his arm around her. Was this the future he saw?

“Thank God if it be so,” his heart prayed.

 Then as if from nowhere, he saw himself besides them, with little Lucy on his lap. His face was blissfully happy. Was this heaven?

 “Off with his head! Down with the aristocrat!” the crowd chanted.

The air stilled as the axe was raised. Barsad turned his eyes away. “He was a good man…” he choked.

A smile lit Sidney Carton’s face. Lucy’s face shone before him. Her blue eyes compassionate. His soul was light. His laughter was no more tinged with pain.

Finally, he could rest. Finally, there would be no pillow littered with tears. Finally, the sun emerged. And then - the axe fell. The air was rent with cheers.

In the carriage speeding towards London, Charles Darney opened his eyes.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ode to Dejection - in prose

Even the most optimistic person in the world has moments when the black clouds seem sans the silver lining. After all, after you put in your hard work and have to sit back and trust in fate and others mercy, the wait is not easy. Nor is the suspense. Is because at that point of time you are not in control of the situation? You can gauge the time and effort you put into a task, you may even guess the reaction but the final outcome is something beyond us.

At such a time you might want to think positive. After all, don't people say that positive vibes attract more positivity? There's a problem with that though. In conflict to this principle, we have others believing that one should never think out aloud a good thing. So, where do you stand?

Perhaps this is why the trust in God idea sprang up. Not that there is anything wrong with it. It is a comforting notion if you are to look at it from a detached point of view with all due respect to the faith attributed. Since, one can't exactly pen down one's destiny worrying your head off regarding what is to come expends more energy than failure ever can.

So, may be till we can find some other solution to this we'll simply have to follow the motto of - do your best and leave the rest.  

Meet the Pomsky – the new rival of the Chiuaua?

Ever heard the phrase,“It’s a dog’s life?” Well, the Pomsky has proved yet again that it truly is a dog’s world if not a dog’s life. Apparently being a hybrid is not such a bad thing after all. In case you don’t know, the Pomsky it is a mix of the Pomeranian and Siberian Husky. What’s more, it’s headed to be the cutest designer dog. 

Considering that its breed is a cross from the Pomeranian and Siberian Husky, one needn’t state that it is both adorably fluffy as well as compact. Plus, its name sounds way better than Labradoodle any day. And one look at this new arrival will tell you that it can beat the Chiuaua hollow any day, atleast as far as appearances go.

Pomsky puppies are not only irresistible fur balls though. Whether or not they are destined to be the next lap dog is difficult to say. Dog lovers would have a problem stomaching such a scenario. After all, they aren’t only for arm candy or accessorising as some animal lovers have pointed out. Their gentle temperament have won over many people on their side. Their ancestors, the Pomeranians were called ‘toy’ dogs and bore the patronage of none other than Queen Victoria! They come in a variety of colours but generally have white, black and brown. Their coat which adds to their toy-dog appeal is dense coated, distinctly reminding one of a Siberian Husky though a more long haired and fluffier version.

Pomskies are spirited but docile. Don’t let their size fool you. They are more agile and active than they look. They mainly sport a foxlike head and small erect ears. The most attractive feature is its long coat which is especially full on the neck and chest. They look much closer to the Pomeranians than the Siberian Huskies. Still, the name Pomsky is a perfect blend of the two names suggesting their mixed breed - the “Pom” from Pomeranians and the “sky” from Husky.

Pomsky puppies are here to stay. Even if they do reach the status of the ‘handbag’ dogs, it would be wrong to judge them by their fur alone. For their distant relative, the poodle despite all the pampering its received over the decades is still considered to be one of the most intelligent domestic dogs. Well finally, it has real keen competition from these puppies who are big things coming in small packages.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Exam Bug

My university is lazier than the students. Understatement. Actually, it's more of a case of giving the students a bad name and hanging them as to tell you the truth; I'd say the students are more interested in when the exams are and when the syllabus comes out than our beloved university is. A typical example is the exam date is announced a week or 15 days prior to the exam and the syllabus dons the notice board a day of two before the exam commences.

And they say students don't study.

Now when your syllabus sheet runs into a miniature booklet and you can't help guessing what from all of that pile of notes is relevant for the current exam how can you devote your full attentions to what they expect you to study? No seriously, for each professor would like you to devote PhD thesis amount of time and dedication to their subject paper.

 And then once the exam is over and you feel you can breathe a sigh of relief think again! The next moment you may just start worrying about what marks they'll give you as believe me, it's more luck than merit that gets you through. At least if you have done a detailed analysis on how the marking pattern varies in each paper. There isn't any equilibrium.

Thus, it isn't a bad idea to try bribing the gods even f you have studied. I still maintain I'd never have got 80% in Geography if it hadn't been for luck. Why? Well, because I don't yet even know the map of India for starters. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Working Out - The Fine Art of Torture

Working out or rather exercising was supposed to be fun. That is before we successfully instilled a handful of rules and regulations in it along with a truckload of targets and deadlines. Throw in the tape measure and weighing machine and you have the recipe of quick demotivation. After all, how long will you continue working out if all you see in the end is a lighter, or thinner, or more muscular you? Wasn't it much more fun sweating it out as a kid for you weren't really mentally grappling with how many calories you were burning or whether your heart was beating fast enough?

Even walking has become a duty. You might see some really dedicated walkers in the morning. So, dedicated are they that they don't even have the breath to puff out a 'good morning' to an acquaintance. Or then we have the other breed which insists on getting the most of the walk and time spent. Thus, you will be treated to some displays of arm rotating and swinging which would look absurd as they do remind one of a haywire robot.

Thus, it would be no surprise if the exercise bike turns into a clothes rack or the dumbbells lie rusting. Not everyone is meant to do yoga or aerobics; so perhaps, it's best you choose what you like and stick with it.    

On the Stars (Note: celebs)

It is indeed difficult to understand why some people are so obsessed with celebrities. Leaving aside the fame, wealth, good looks and the like, what more have they to offer that make them so different from you and me? If they weren't good actors or didn't have the necessary aptitude for the movie business they would be someone else. Perhaps less known or wealthy.

Then why is it that we have people who follow their lives even more closely than their own? Is it the mere need of identification? This need is exploited in full by the advertisers and thus, we have celebrities blandly endorsing products they wouldn't dream of using. And the surprise is that normally rational people turn into irrational customers and blindly go after that particular brand just because so-and-so is using it.

I have met people who consider these stars as ideals of perfection. Perfection? How true is that? Fans who earnestly believe that their coveted idol's life is absolutely perfect and fail to see the obvious, that under the make-up and glitter of success they to are humans like us. Scratch them and they too will bleed.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Bottle of Memories

I can conjure it up still
That memory of old
Much more precious than beaten gold
Stored up like a fragrence still
In the crystalline depths of a glass bottle

Youth may fade and time may fly
My very heart may choose to lie
Then I'll open the bottle and take a whiff
Of all those emtions buried within 

You may be gone and I might stay
A mere shadow of today
But I know how I will live
With echoes of the past clamouring on the sill
Then the memories their treasure troves will spill
As I fight the despair away

Fear, many a shadow arisen
Fear darkens the sun's rays
The bottle will glimmer as I open it
Seeking, seeking to find in it again
A grain of the days forgotten
A trivial memory of everyday...

A few lines on the Morning - a poem

Moonshine, starlight, morning dew
Green grass, grey sky, winter hues
Moist earth, fogs and spiraling mists
Shades of nature if you get the gist

Little birds hidden amongst the branches of trees
Shivering and twittering, you will see
The flowers all dropping in their beds
Waiting for the sun's warming fest

And lo and behold, the day has begun
It crept up silently like a thief with a gun 
From the dull greys if has glowed to pink
Overflowing with the beauty of dawn's brink...

Thursday, 19 January 2012

On going to the Library - The untold horror

It is not advisable to go to the library with a friend if you intend to study. If you are the studious one you will be interrupted non-stop from the perusal of those blessed books; on the other hand if you are the talker you will eventually succumb to boredom.

If it's winter, the atmosphere will be as chilly within as the teachers seem when handing you the answer sheet that turned their wig blue. Or if you are to go downstairs in search of that book you want to issue, it is like gradually losing all sense of warmth. My the time you are scouting the racks you might be shivering with cold.

Compounding this, you might find your neighbour to be the kind of person who studies people's faces more than the books opened before her, or even worse; realise you've brought the wrong set of notes along. Thus, since everything in life is a risk, so is going to this sanctum of learning.

As if walking three flights of stairs is not deterring enough, you have a pack of stray dogs to greet you once you are departing as you reach the ground floor. These dogs are more at home in the library than even the students. Why? Because they can sleep in peace without needing a book for a pillow...  

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Arts Canteen - The Maharaja Sayajirao University Zoo of Weirdness

Chaos is what defines it best. On one hand you have the couple sitting near the window striking a pose more appropriate to watching TV in their living room. On the other hand you have a guy wearing jeans so low you can see what brand he's sporting beneath, with spiked up porcupine hair, sunglasses, a scarf and god knows what else. And then you have the shouts for orders thrown over the general confusion.


I do not wonder now why people here have such a low estimation of the arts field. I speak not as a superior being above all this. I speak merely as a casual observer.

Leaving aside the general confusion present and the sorry and gloomy atmosphere of the place, we have the groups of idiot guys. Some lounge of tables staring at girls as if they've never seen them. Yes, the sex ratio in Gujarat is skewed so perhaps this is a natural result.

Perhaps what we should be teaching in schools with all that language, science and maths, is some amount of poise and common sense. For how is anyone to respect us if we behave ourselves like buffoons?

The Diet Plan

A friend of mine has recently been bitten by the diet bug. It is amusing really to watch her weigh each calorie. After starving on pulses in the night she gorges delicacies or rather junk food in the canteen in the morning. At least that's as per her diet plan. I can't understand the food maths. I'd much rather exercise myself though I must admit that probably ages ago I'd once tried a diet. It was a terrible experience.

I was forced to live on fruits! Day two was only tomatoes for supper and that was nauseating to the quick. After that, I decided that running round like a mad march hare is much more preferable. And to tell you the truth, when you think so very much of what you are eating you feel more hungry. I've never really kept a religious fast but I've kept fasts when I'm angry. Believe me, when you know you can't eat or refuse to eat, that's when you are more likely to miss eating.

One of the best ways to resist the urge to become a glutton is to read what Chaucer's Pardoner says in the Pardoner's tale about the subject. It's long enough to put you off any meal for a reasonable length of time.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Library Card Woes & Other Tales

Library cards are tedious things. They take ages to come. You can wait all year and then as the final exams are creeping you are presented with a plastic card with your photo and can thankfully discard the slip of paper with which you had to make do till then.

Unfortunately, I cannot crib to my heart's full this time as though I got my card late (I got it today as a fact) but my finals are still a month or two away. This is really fast if you see the processing standards of my university. At the proverbial speed of the government offices  (in India at least); they have taken a miraculous time to create this trifling thing. Besides that, it was a real wonder they spelled my name right. However, again I am compelled to mellow down my wrath as the lady who handed the card to me was much more cheerful than most of those library brats.

For example, the security man spends such a long time studying your photograph on the card that you wonder if you've suffered from a sudden alteration of facial bones. After the scrutiny is over you feel thankful you can enter the inner sanctum. 

Once inside, you'll find that to search your required book on the PC is a textbook course on patience. It can take ages. And finding the book on the myriad of shelves in ill-lit aisles is even more difficult where at times you are faced with no book at the end of your quest.

And if all goes well when the time to check out comes you might learn there is some problem with the books bar-code and thus, you must come back after an hour, re-locate the book; in short, go through the whole rig-marole again.

You'll be wondering now which is the most speedy process of all... it's returning the books. Seems like they rather have books returned to them than borrowed.

Charity Starts From Home? - - - well, not when class notes are involved

"Could you please give me your notes?" 

I begin to mentally pray. A positive answer would be as miraculous as finding out that men were actually the life forms on Mars. 

The answer as expected is 'no'. It is not a straight out 'no' but a one based on a list of highly improbable excuses. Who talks about healthy competition? Does it really exist. They say dog eat dog in the boardroom and corporate world. Well, we learn stuff in school and college. Thus, yeah, this is rat race tuning ground.

It's not that everyone is the same. I've met people who'd give their note book with a smile. But its the quirky ones that predominate. It's strange really, you have people who are so hypersensitive about lending their books that you have a stereotype attributed to them.

"Aww how come you asked her!" With a shake of head which implies great meaning.

Most students want to do well. And it seems some have interpreted a stepping stone to success as being short noting the others. The one who has the most study material may not laugh last nor the longest however.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Women and the Da Vinci Code

Books in general are silent talkers. They throw in a juicy tidbit or too. 

The portrayal of Christianity and History is what's interesting aside from the plot which Dan Brown weaves. I'm not giving him any free review. Let's stick to where exactly do you see the role of women in both of the two.

I won't blame Christianity for being male-centered. Most religions do vouch for the same. To quote Pandita Ramabai Saraswati's essay Woman's Place in Religion and Society:

Those who diligently and impartially read Sanskrit literature in the original, cannot fail to recognise the law-giver Manu as one of those hundreds who have done their best to make a woman a hateful being in the world's eye. To employ er in housekeeping and kindered occupations is thought to be the only means of keeping her out of mischief.   

History has been diligently made 'his-story' and not 'hers'. 

The best way to politically get rid of a free-thinking person is to declare them insane. In the medieval times to declare a free-thinking woman a witch was the most favoured course. Why? Because if you don't conform with the society (read as : if you think); you must surely be possessed. 

 The worst of this is that women who have been bred to be narrow-minded are the greatest advocates of the conventionality they believe in. What irony life holds!

To wage the battle of quotes again:

"Women must be honoured and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law..."

while in the same breath it continues:

"If the wife is radiant with beauty, the whole house is bright; but is she is destitute of beauty, all will appear dismal." Manu, iii., 55-62

Thus, we have women encouraged to look beautiful. Dwell on the state of their bodies but what of their minds? The mother is the first teacher. Isn't it time she too were instructed? 

The Politics of Marriage in the Conservative Indian Society - An Eye Opener

This is the twenty first century. India is shooting up on mostly all fields. Society is changing... unfortunately, what has failed to keep pace is 'relationships' and their structures.

Recently, a friend of mine had a court marriage. The boy was from U.P. His parents disowned him. And the girls parents? They took her in with their son-in-law. Interesting scenario. In most cases you find the lady's parents a tad more forgiving than the groom's. Why?

I was speaking to a friend who has rather conservative parents from the Marathi culture. She has a cousin who had three sisters. All of them were married off just some seven years ago right after they finished their schooling. No college. No job. Stay at home and be happy. It turns out, that the daughter of one of them bunks school. When she was asked why she said: 

I will have to make rotis like mummy afterwards so why study?

This from a seven year old child... Childhood conditioning into gender roles?

Furthermore, recently a guy I know who wanted to marry his girlfriend who was from another caste was told by his brother-in-law not to do so because she was educated. What did he mean? It was rather simple and showed his own lack of reasoning. The married women in his office had affairs with his colleagues so he felt that this woman being of another community and educated as well would do the same!

Talk about being childish.

On interviewing some other people I find that though some parents would not come in the way of their kids happiness they are many more of diverse religions and social backgrounds who will worry about 'what their society will say'.

How long will it take for things to change?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Parody On How We Pray

"Dear God, thank you for all you have done for me. I hope you can insure that I get that promotion. I need it more than Rahul does. If I get that promotion I will offer you a coconut and do a fast..."

"Dear God, please, please, please; make me pass this time. I swear I'll study more next time if you pass me. I'll never ask you to do this ever again so please do this just once..."

"Dear God, you know my son isn't interested in marriage though we have shown him pictures of so many beautiful girls. Please make him agree to get settled and he should not have any girlfriend or be interested in men. Please make me get a good 'bahu' who will look after him and the house well..."

"Dear God, I asked for a remote-control car or Christmas but all I got was a train set. Do make sure I get it as a birthday gift..."

"Dear God, my girlfriend is mad at me. I have tried everything but she says she wants to break-up. Please do not let her do so. I will die without her and you wouldn't want that to happen so please make her come back..."

Dear God, most of our prayers are a series of demands and effusions of thanks leading to still, more demands. No surprise that many a time, God doesn't seem to be listening. Are prayers supposed to only contain thanks or requests? Or have we been sold on to that idea?

Your turn to decide.       

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

On Hinglish

This amply illustrates why we in India should concentrate on English. It is a laugh but also a slightly bitter one to see such a state of things. 

dear A- - - -
my all the best wishes to all our students for scheduling the students own made picnic to pawagadh, dhaba dungari and jhand hanumanji darshan on sunday 8 january 2012,
better if u plan on thursday 26 jan 12. also for rajpipla nava gam dam or saputara.
or mehsana water park
or samadaji shrreenathaji
or abu ambaji
or bhavnagar alang ship breaking yard with mukesh agressara sir he is from there only,
or khatushyamaji in rajashtahn jaipur,
but your all choice will be final..
better carry cricket equipments
 home made puri nasta aachhar
good cameras
as this will be the last memory of MBA life time......
god knows whaere all will be from the MBA nest on 26th january 2013....
with regds,
g.r patel.

I have over the course of time from people's attitudes to the English tongue, differ to the point of ludicrousness. Some say we mustn't learn it for they believe in the patriotic motive of boycotting the former colonist's speech. It makes no sense for English is a global language. Won't we all stand to loose if there isn't some common tongue we can communicate in?

Others view it with awe. Some are enamoured with it for they think it marks distinction. In the end, it is just a language and as we mostly like being proficient we might as well, aim to be good communicators.