Thursday, January 15, 2009


Everybody loves his/her cellphone. It has become an integral part of urbane (and mundane) life that makes it quite inextricable in sensible thinking. I too loved my cellphone. It wasn’t a fancy Blackberry or NSeries but still it was dear to me. We literally slept together, I on the pillow and it beneath it. All was going fairy tale well until this morning at around 4, when out of sudden it wasn’t there anymore. It got lost. Or stolen. Or maybe lost and then probably stolen. Anyway I was the crying baby on either side of the argument. For the record, this is my third mobile which I successfully lost in the last four years. So that validates my absent-mindedness and my declining faith in humanity!

The first thing you feel after losing your mobile is utter desperation, a kind of vacuum. This feeling has nothing to do with your mistake of being so careless. It is very nascent in its purest form. You start reminiscing who was the last person you called. From whom did you got your last SMS. How will you get all the contact numbers back. By the way, the last SMS I received was from my dear friend Tanmay who informed about Rooney’s 55th second goal against Wigan. I was thrilled like anything for Man U topping Liverpool soon, unaware of getting my mobile vanished for good just an hour or two later.

Cellphones to most of us is a link to outside world. It connects us exponentially to people irrespective of the impending distance in between. It is a benevolent invention in spite of constant scientific threats availing it as radiating toxics into our brain (through ear!) and even low sperm count (due to closeness!). Besides, people don’t live with nothing to dare anymore. All are dangling on the edge of danger and who cares about invisible radiation when there are so many visible and imminent vices staring us right in the eye. Radiations are like cellphone stealers, I must add. Both can’t be seen.

Coming back to anguish and self-pity, after realizing this vacuum, there flashes the torch of practical bereavement. And foremost of it is the money put behind the gadget, the balance in it, the numbers, birth dates of friends, notes and gods-know-what. You start cursing yourself for being so birdy and also for not noting down the numbers in a diary or something. Balance is not a major issue in most cases because we all know the stealer is not stupid enough to make a call that will come back to him and nab him. Mostly, it’s a safety measure practiced by ‘expert stealers’. So your balance is assured but what about everything else. You have developed a connection that is so strong and unique with this petite inorganic device. There is very few non-living creatures with whom you might be able to develop such a bond viz. iPod. But then again, the list is too small to allow competition. How many electronics gadgets do you sling along with your wherever you go? Very few, in fact very, very few. And luckily, mobile is one of them.

It not only transcends words in both verbal and textual form but also keeps it intact and affirmed in its record, thus building the lost human touch carved in by time and distance. You won’t take your computer along with you to the market or even laptops are pretty much elite in this case. Mobile with its granular size and indispensable necessity can squeeze in, anywhere, anytime. India is by the way one of the largest cell using nation in the world and no surprise, huge cell phone companies are using national sentiments in advocating their products. People are generally emotional. They talk, argue, gossip, chat but in the end, words fill up something that was missing. Mobile does that job today. Earlier telephones were employed for vis-à-vis but still telephone wasn’t ubiquitous, at least not in a developing country for sure. Cellphone is not a luxury like telephones used to be. It’s like an everyday necessity now, standing on the same scale of usage to a doctor and a temple priest as well.

After weeks of advertising how good a movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is, I’m getting back in business with cellphone spiel! However, the funniest part of all this tragedy was the look on my face when I realized my cell wasn’t in my pocket. You should ask another dear friend Tushar who witnessed this wretched hilarity. It takes courage to overcome errors. You need to be careful so that moments don’t catch you unawares. Losing a mobile phone is one thing and losing it repeatedly is another. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, then you lose the right to err. I haven’t lost my right yet, though!

After all, it was just a mobile, right. Whatever the nostalgic story be behind its success and fame, it’s still just a plastic plated, rubber padded, radiation emitting equipment that could be replaced anyhow. There are much more important things out there that could cast a horror in your life if you lost them, for say, your mind, your touch of reality, your sense of knowing your friends and family. That would be truly terrible. I’ve watched this splendid movie Away from Her and I can say it must be something else. As for me, I’ve got myself a Rs.500 ugly looking third-hand mobile. It reminds me of my penitence to be more attentive about stuffs around. My dad pasted me an unforgettable quote on hearing my predicament, “If you keep on losing things like this, I wonder, whether you’ll remember not to lose yourself someday.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

The good ol' media

The clarity of oneness and the transparent reporting by journalists were hardly meddled by any editor until and unless some fiery deadline was on bait. Radio was the uniquest way of expression and newspapers, the solemnest. But today, with emerging mass media of various kind and size, it can be safely said that journalists are in a dire twist of choice. They are presented with a hoi polloi so variant in nature and so depicted in their perspective, that it hardly makes any sense to demarcate their trust.

The journalists are having a hard time. They are already enveloped with heavy duty job and now they are having a heavy mass on the tip list. Entertaining a diverse group of people could get challenging. One of the toughest jobs, after fishing, must be journalism. The most inadvertent changer of views and implementers of new ideas on print don't get it that easy as it seems with the crisp presentation of news in studio or on field. They are embedded in wars; freelancers don't even get that luxury, so to say. Yet with the change in trend and demassified crowd on run, these poor cluster of reporters are made to hold marbles far exceeding their palm.

The standard of media is very subjective and even objective, in case of repressive governments, such as China and Pakistan. The media have always showed inextricable loyalty towards exposing the malignant power on chair. They could be termed disloyal or even quislings! But their purpose of unifying en masse onto similar ground is astonishing and noteworthy. In United States, the scenario is a bit too complicated. Here the mass media is ruled by a consortium of less than half a dozen of big media houses. These houses have made sure that their unanimous money churning roll-outs of news stay uninterrupted, as seen in recent Afghanistan and Iraq war fiascos. European mass media seems to bask in the same groove as it had shown in the 60s and continued on. It provokes intellectual bias and do so without clashing out with its consumers, but reviling was hardly encouraged in this paradigm of free society. Now, where does India sub-continental media stand in these criteria. Moreover, where does India stand here, duly because of its enormous influence over the place?

The answer could be both the way of reasoning. The common populace is tired of the old clichés prevalent in print and screen. The new generation wants something refreshing and spookier than prescribed. Taking into account the fact that India is the world's youngest nation, with 54% of its population lying in the age bracket of 15 to 25, which means in 15 years time period, all the grooming of the current generation will fruition into actual utopia of change. The media is juxtaposed between finding a mere balance between this quickly receding gap in thoughts and actions. A look at Indian news channel in regional language, save DD, all others are mere display of tiring effort at keeping the TRPs on trail of competition. It is pathetic and embarrassing to witness such degradation of an effective platform.

This is the problem. What about the solution. The answer lies in the demographics and the distribution of population across the nation. The city lurkers are critical and have opinion on every issue around whereas the rural scouts don't show such spontaneity and are limited in their horizon of sagacity. It doesn't imply to say that the urbaners are high handed in the design of mass media output. It simply cites the involvement in the architectural by product of media. The rural world lacks in participation what urban world lacks in unanimity. This colliding factor isn't helping the media cause in the bigger picture. The news prints are faring better in this case. All the newspaper, almost everyone, has this obligation to reporting as per se, the scenario. A single paper charges in minute scale and dwarfs in comparison to the www score of pay per view format.

Education too must be a culprit here, not mentioning the reason behind its uninformed distribution but the lore tale myopic view that is rampant in most Indian people and are anarchical subjugation of facts on hand, and jumping upon the wagon of explicit entertainment. Media can't grow well when its provider is not meted with a constructive remedy. Besides, polarization is good provided the polarized concept is free of prejudice and bias. Now, how to bring the new tech world to a point when such bias is eliminated free hand wombs the true solution. Indian mass media along with its postal caliber was always well rated in global rank, but in recent time, due to cable TV invasion of private space of common people, the weights are against holding a dumbed down show of happenings with good and loyal returns. The fourth estate is greeting its knights with daily loop of curious task which demands singularity in thoughts, print and view.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bandra's feminine side

Stand on the Bandra station's platform for a while, a train full of boisterous crowd starts it serpentine move towards you. You stand perplexed wondering how come this people gather themselves everyday for this imminent ordeal. Your thoughts are getting stirred with chaotic descent of the people out of train. Now, all you want to do is get yourself off the platform but then you gaze towards the brighter side of the train. Of course, the ladies with their comparable ease can't be overlooked. These fairer creations are quite legendary in hypothetical sense of words. They have knitted a lining for themselves on a fabric called Mumbai.
No big deal if words are scrambling up but today, women are seeing the brighter side of liberty and choice. They don't seem to stumble upon some stupid orthodoxy. Some have even crossed the gender divide and are happily creating niches, belying bias. Education has definitely played a gigantic role here. Without understanding, girls wouldn't have dreamt of being someone, let alone, fight for their right to dream. Life is still difficult on the darker slums where electricity is a luxury. Mumbai is approaching its threshold level of human inhabitation and the cost of aspirations is heavily on due. Amid this, if one stands on a stranded platform, and look around to find a unique subtlety of homogeneity, then that one is surely breathing!
Bandra, for some, beams a blend of colonial essence, metropolitan charm, Christian heritage and modernity. But one of the biggest contributors to this melting pot is the ladies of this town. They were always different, no doubt why British navy cadets found them enticing. These blue-eyed boys' entire holiday used to be spent on approaching and propositioning or plain sight-seeing. Some even went on to never miss the damsels back home! This has nothing to assert that Bandra is a Greek city or aught but it has something else to unfold. This town has always created something new or kept something old as it is. If the stones and walls are worth studying then the women of this town are worth admiring for their gusto uprightness and bubbly zest. They always had this unique way of displaying nonchalance at the most testing time. To an outsider, they always seemed unattached to the ethos of general perception of Indian women who generally show raw emotions with easiest guile. Apparently, some yonder ago, some of these ladies were perceived as imitators of 'memsahibs'! But then, every nuance of admiration was persecuted and slowly we saw Mumbai assimilate every chapter into a grand opus.
These women alighting from trains are teachers, lawyers, designers, secretaries and some housemakers cum officer-goers. The face they carry may not bear the actual flawless grace of colonial era but then this city of ours can wipe any line out and draw any line in, yet their audacity to be so enchanting can't be overlooked. And if peered closer, then you may not miss that smirk which tells how proud they are, to be a part of this happening town and would give up anywhere to stay in here. Moreover, we can easily get the family branch of a matriarchal society quite easily due to the families' reluctance to shift somewhere else.
These women do gossip like anyone else, they too feel the pain of traveling and they too cry in front of TV soaps yet they are different, kind of edgy when it comes to civility. They are the answer to Mumbai's call for absolute metropolis. We will be numb minded enough to ask the 'others' to put up a similar demeanor. That won't happen and even if it does, it would be nothing short of failed trial. Some may find this argument haughty but any other girl or lady, if comes out and try her best, whatever, she'll surely stand corrected. No wonder, why all the people think that even an office going lady might be rich at banks!
As realty booms here, so are the working women's purse and they surely know where to head for a good buy. Be it an estate or a simple garment, they'll do it with utmost refinement. Money doesn't raise a question of choice and they do get the best stuff, be it in a designer showroom or on Band Stand. They don't need their boyfriends or hubbies to accompany them, but then which girl wants to be disturbed. They are no fool with money and that shows in their investment in stocks and how they are actively covering market stats. Life is great, though earned to be that great but if holiday is a perk then Bandra 'naris' know how to harvest it and no way, are they going to spend it watching stupid TV shows or DVDs. Time is to head for relaxing spas and more reinvigorating Botox clubs!
Some may argue that all kitties are the same when it comes to luxury, unrestricted but Bandra ladies have a unique way to do it and they won't be sharing it on a cheap chat.
Now-a-days, the newer crops of small girls who are the genuine torch-bearers of their legendary task of novelty are mixing up with lost identities. That's inter-globalization, if that could be the term. They are quite aware of road side Romeos and they may not know how Bandra got to be the centre stage of exhibitive beauty and grace. These teens are metro in outlook and don't incline to any particular school of thoughts. Anyways, they are not having any cadets looking around the town, aboard on the naval bus. Some things are always appreciative in history and can't be re-distilled in presence but many can still concur to the fact that Bandra is what Bandra was.

A story of a famous waiter

He was born in 1947, a few months before we attained independence. My granny used to say he was all white like milk but weak when he was born and had this rosy lips that was later talk of the village. He grew up to be 14th child of my grandparents and the progeny ultimately ended at 18th child. Unfortunately, only 7 offspring saw more than 10 years of life. That was mainly blamed on poor nutritional value and foreboding.

My dad was named Sunder which meant "beautiful" appropriately. He was a sincere boy and used to do all the chores as expected and very naive too, unlike his elder brothers. Many a times, it so happened that he was the one sleeping empty stomach while the younger siblings got rice. He attended school but complemented it with household and farming errands like collecting dungs, drawing well water and et al. He seemed to enjoy these hard work to flipping pages of book. Apparently, he left school at the age of 13 after attending his mid-term exams which he, no doubt must have failed, owing to poor attendance which was mainly due to his dad's failing health and demanding need of people at farm. My grandpa had better things laid out for him. At least he thought it was so. He left school, now he left the village and set out for Bombay.

He landed on Bombay in the year 1960 and this was the period of conspicuous panic and turmoil since Bombay was drafted to its minimal boundary and Maharashtra and Gujrat was drawn on lingual basis. No doubt, there were some linguist and regional tensions going on then. He spend his initial one month wandering from one place to another with hardly anything to lean on. He did menial jobs, earned too little to save and slept on jutecloth sacks. He once told me that he was given Rs. 13 by his father while leaving his native and half of it was spent on travelling.

This gloomy period was soon to end as one day, he was spotted by this Gujrati-speaking Parsi rich and was given table-cleaner's job at a small bistro-like place. He is still grateful of that one touch of kindness that provided him proper mat for sleeping and ample water to wash. This continued for about a year or so when suddenly he got a note from his brother who had got himself a job in Pune. My dad was earnestly sent for to fill up vacancy there. Without any second thoughts, he escaped. He had to escape because he knew that he was now quite an asset to the working place and won't be let off with ease.

He arrived in Pune in the summer of 1962. Pune wasn't anything like it is now. It was rather dull and wildly empty to say. But my dad was more than happy to be there in comparison to Bombay as he was homesick and wanted someone from his family to behold. So he got this job, again as a table-cleaner at a small hotel run by some Mr. Nayak. He worked there and was "promoted" to water boy and this went on for less than a year when he was asked to fill in for some waiter who was absent. Dad impressed all with his serving skill and memory. Now, there wasn't any need of a genius in a hotel and neither my dad was one but its a tradition in an Udupi Hotel for a waiter not to write down the orders and to serve all the orders mentally without any note to remind. He did superb and it stayed on like that for good long time.

Now, by the year 1966, he realized that Bombay was a better option because he wanted to do something else with his life, something in business, for option. So he left Pune and headed to Bombay again. Here once again, he donned the role of waiter at a place called Madras Cafe which was in King's Circle. This joint was quite renowned and was a daily pilgrimage for students and teachers from nearby campus. He was quickly took a liking to by all and girls in particular, if my uncles are to be believed. They even say some of them were deadpan smitten by him that they even proposed! My dad, being the person he is, still undermines this anecdotes. But he did said once that there was this girl studying at Khalsa College who was in awe of his eyebrows and she always used to wait for his table to get empty so that she can get his service. Bizarre but my dad had other plans and wasn't keen on romance with nubile wealthy students. He worked there for five years and remembers serving today's superstar Akshay Kumar who was a student then at nearby place and used to take lunch at his place regularly.

In early 1972, he was asked by the owner of Madras Cafe, Mr. Shetty to transfer his service to Saroj Hotel which was located at Chembur. He couldn't say no though he was a bit disappointed considering the camaraderie you strike with most of the customers there. He left and joined Saroj Hotel and was again blowing off competition, if any, with his dedication and hard work. He was good looking, better with four plates on his hand, moved swiftly, talked softly and was good with numbers too. This all helped him again to establish genial relationships with customers. He remained a waiter at Saroj till 1996. Then one day, he was asked by Mr. Shetty's son, Rohit to work as a manager. Considering his time as a waiter for almost 35 years, this step was inevitable.

He was made third manager since there were already two working since long time. Dad was assigned with stuff related to banks, accounts, Municipal clearings, taxes which required him talking with bigshots and he was clearly a charming personality to chat and discuss. He was accepted into the fold of managerial clan. It wasn't all easy coz most of the times customers were awestruck to see him in formals roaming the corridors looking out for customer satisfaction and proper disposal of service. Some old customers haven't seen him before in anything other than formal uniform topped by a traditional waiter's cap. But his run continued with a demeanor which made him one of the famous person on the streets of Chembur and even struck a chord with innumerable faceless customers that he met and made sure to leave a etch on.

This story seems all rosy and colorful but it wasn't always so. My dad is and was a reasonable man with virtuous lining but he too wanted to do good. so he tried other avenues of success. He once opened a pan-shop in Mazgaon Dock area which was later usurped by his dear brother, fraudulently. My dad, even to this day has no malice in his heart for this treachery. He earned fine money due to the kind tipping gestures of his customers. He made records with quick serving and multitasking tables. He was sort of a legend of his own.

Today, he is 62 and wishing to retire off in the quiet of his native. He is still working though his pension is up. He still feels that working as a waiter was something more fulfilling coz it had nuances of customers attached immediately to the whole process. He still remember the great doyen of CINEMA, Mr. Raj Kapoor who was a regular customer owing to the presence of R.K. Studio in vicinity, who according to my dad, was a big niggard, unlike his siblings who were a bit too "noble".

My dad always used to say when i was a kid that he didn't want me to be a waiter and that's the reason why he's working double shifts to fill up expense. He was unfazed by his goodness and that's quite unique considering the tag we attach to someone who is good and then ruin his goodness to capital assessment. My dad didn't wished for fame nor did he got one, but he lived a life of memory where people recognize him for his kind way with them. Happy B'day Pa.

Why are we sad?

Every morning i wake up, i realize my face getting old every single time. May be, I'm dreaming even after splashing water on face. I always felt a bit more odd being in crowd but now-a-days its odder staring at my own self. Either I'm moving myself towards something they call crisis or may be, I'm just meant to be this stupid. Failure doesn't make you a loser. Failure teaches you, enriches you and makes you more competent. I have not failed. That has solely to do with the fact that i haven't tried much in my recent life either.

Leaving engineering was the single biggest thing i did and i'm not much proud of it or ashamed coz i believe that we are cut out for certain purposes and if we don't oblige by that call of duty then we are doomed to remorse all through. I know that writing and teaching is my passion and i'll have to give it a head start from the grass root approach. Wasting a good seven years of your life in pursuit of engineering glory and then suddenly waking up someday to acknowledge this propensity, this strong urge of not doing something that i was so used to. Attending classes but getting lost in reverie of untold and unbounded adventure, free life and lores of hedonistic vindication.

Right now, i have the whole world in front of me and all i have to do is embrace it and get along. this is one option. The other one is to stay coherent to my grammar of understanding and illogical rationality that has encapsulated me for a very long time and designs to do so for upcoming life. Living is not existing and if i decide whether i want to go ahead with this literature and cinema thing and try something out for myself in this huge void of anonymity.

My dysfunctional family got a wrong boost with my failure in asserting my stand on my chosen career and of course, laziness too. They could have been kinder had i been a bit more sincere and adequate with common sense. Whatever be the consequences, we all learn, we err, we fall and fail and win and hail.... we all survive.

Life of his own

He knew not how to sin
or how to break hearts in twain
all he did was spoke his mind
and left the devil to win,

he went alone in and deep
he cried but laughing was his meat
enjoyed the voice of shreking smile
rather than stay calm as clam,

he rose with the sun
and slept with the moon,
toiled with the breeze
and sweat in the noon

he was not what folks made
he stood for right and plain
had no reason to do otherwise
he told no truth, he told no lies,

he was well aware of death
and all the reasons it takes
but still he wanted to do his best
to keep his chin up while he's dead.