Monday, November 30, 2009

South Indian Motorcyle Trip...

I’ve been talking of traveling since I came to know that there was a world out there. So at last, I’m going to do that. Travel. And see for myself what exactly is on the road and beyond.

Like Prophet Mohammad said, “Don’t tell me how much you studied. Just tell me how much you traveled.” Well, I can’t actually tell any one how much studied because I don’t even have a degree to boast so I better stick to the traveling plan to avoid shame!

According to our plan, we will be leaving on bike early morning tomorrow (Tuesday, 1st December, 2009) from Sanpada, Navi-Mumbai and will endeavor to cover at least 3000 km on road straight towards Kerala’s northern district of Kasargod. This road trip will last for more than a fortnight and will definitely kill our backs. Hopefully, I won’t be riding the bike because my partners, Tushar and Lawry, won’t trust me with their bike thanks to my unreliable riding skills. So I guess I’ll be switching pillion-seats which I wish it to be an easier job!!!

Our plan is simple; we will stick to NH-9 and try to reach Solapur on our first day out. Then stay the night there and head towards Bagalkot and then towards Hampi, followed by Shimoga and Udupi and then towards the kissing edge of Karnataka and Kerala. We won’t enjoy Goa on our way down but will sneak in while coming back.

Tushar is the mastermind behind this trip and Lawry is the supporting “lever” behind the total plan and I’m definitely sitting “behind” these two geniuses! By the way, my Ma who is currently in Mangalore, is worried that we are starting the damn journey on Tuesday and she wants us to postpone the event but superstition hardly matters to us so sorry Amma!

I’m getting a lot of advice from people I meet be it real or internet-induced and all are saying, “It’s going to be tough!” It won’t be an easy job but I guess its time we took this decision because we all are bored of our monotony and need a punch or a kick or a crash or a screech to pinch us alive!

I’m allergic to sunlight like that Vampire from Twilight (Hahaha) so I guess I’ll be having a real rough time under sun. But after spending the last two years of my life working in a graveyard shift, it will be all worth it! And I sincerely hope my stupidity don’t kill me or anyone as its not their fault that they are my friends!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marat's journey cut short!

I’m a huge tennis fan and to tell you the truth, my tennis begins with Federer and mostly ends with him. This may be true today but I was initiated into tennis by a player named Marat Safin.

I started watching tennis way back in 2003 and at that time there was no Federer legacy to follow. There was this Russian and to be more inquisitive, a Russian Muslim and he was happening with his macho swagger, pulled-back collars, careless yet powerful shots, emotive tennis, verbal altercations with chair umpires, mooning, thrashing of rackets and everything that Federer doesn’t relate to, at least, not as of now.

I remember “cultivating” my hair long after watching his long mane bunned up during Davis Cup which Russia won that same year.

Marat won two Grand Slams and one could guess this guy was going to add a lot of GS to his name. But he lost track somewhere in the middle and lost his focus, his ambitions and eventually the tennis he was building up. His anger on court was palpable but his continuance with it wasn’t. In simple words, he was an emotional wreck as someone who will break rackets at will. I don’t think anyone else comes close to him in racket-thrashing feat! He must have lost a lot of his earnings on penalties!

Yesterday he lost to Juan DelPo in 2nd round of Paris Masters, an event he has won thrice and Federer hasn’t even got one yet! But I guess he is happy to leave tennis and go back to lead a “tourless” life and watch movies (he is a huge cinephile like me!!!) where he doesn’t have to complain about the exorbitant price of food in England or be brutally honest about the way he felt of things around him. He never minced words like most sportspersons do.

I was happy when I came to know that Marat Safin was scheduled to participate in Mumbai Open in ’07 but pulled back due to some injury. But am glad today that he is leaving tennis for good. I hope he gets what he wants from life and even show up in Guest Box to cheer Dinara Safina because he never does that as most others do.

He will always be remember as the “quintessential underachiever” and he is leaving a bit too early at 29 though a bit too easy. Will surely miss you, Marat. Thank you for keeping us glued to that racket for we never knew what would happen to it!!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thousands of Walls to fall...

20 years ago, on this day, a Wall fell down. This Wall was not just a concrete slab that was dividing humanity on either side. It was a veil of sort that was too thick to be seen through. I’m talking about Berlin Wall. The Wall that was created in Germany striking out a full-fledged Cold War, once the world was done with WW2. This Wall stood for everything that was not good between the US and the USSR. It defined the fall of trust and the rise of deception. Politicians on each side were trying to cement it with mortar of propaganda and furthered estrangement of people who shared history long before Cold War took place. It was more like the Wall crossed their life, not the other way around.

The fall of this Wall, no matter how ideological it was in nature, cries out to millions of people out here in the world. It shoots a signal that we can overcome anything, anytime as long as we are ready to take the blow. There are thousands of wall that has to crumble down and give way to new direction of life, be it in Israel or Cuba or India or China. There are still reasons to not give into hope. Its like we are so afraid of hoping that we assume we are better off hopping from one make-believe to another.

I must say that we are alive in the best possible time of humankind era with Social Media in its full form. Internet has made it possible for us to sneeze here and receive a “Gesundheit!” from the antipodes! Its possible now to send words across the world within seconds that our ancestors would have taken lifetime to do. But this connectivity has brought with it a sense of superiority and misconstructions between countries and between cultures and of course, between religions. It is not dismal completely yet provides us with thousands of reasons to build in a chasm that widens and deepens.

We can start breaking these walls down silently with our words. Let’s talk.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Give hope a chance

“We are giving too much importance to Pakistan. It is just a small piece of land. India can’t be compared with Pakistan.”

Recently, Rahul Gandhi commented on Indian Media’s obsession with Pakistan. His quotes were direct and concise, just like his political demeanor. The statement was a breather to a lot of us who are tired of this ongoing enmity, a sort of a political test match that is punctuated by constant terror attacks, verbal ripostes and border altercations. Of course, Media is not to be blamed entirely here. Its just doing its job and blowing something out of reach is one of its jobs too. It can’t depend on transparency alone. There are a lot of paper page to be filled and it has to be done somehow, either by postulating events or predicting future or consequences and so on.

Trust is the key factor between us two nations and sadly, it is also the biggest commodity not found in our EXIM. We cannot rescind our bitter history with this country that happens to be our neighbor. So what we can at least try to do is emulate a model of level-headedness, something that is not being done since long time. The urgent need of the time is peace. Insurgency and infiltration are some issues that are paramount to our defense and can’t be curtailed in any sense but on a more broader scheme, its time to start a new chapter.
Pakistan is not a failed state. It’s a failing state. And if at all, by devil’s luck, it fails; India will have to face repercussions too. India does not choose its neighbors, as Shashi Tharoor noted. Like any good neighbor, we need to take care of our fence but at the very same, make sure things are all well on the other side of the fence. There might be some measures of “clandestine vindication” in some Indians whenever news flashes on our TV displaying bomb blasts or other attacks emanating on Pakistani soil and killing innocent civilians or seemingly brave Pakistani Army personnel. But that pleasure is not only voyeuristic but also vain at best.

Every country has a face. If it has a face, then most certainly, it must have expressions. Now, if one single expression is shown again and again then it becomes difficult to recognize that face by another expression. That maxim applies on Pakistan. We are bestowed by our history of conflict, this cruel expression that is hell bent on disrupting our peace and functioning. Sadly though, I must say, we are missing some others expressions that should be highlighted. These expressions are willingness on the other side of the border to cooperate and coexist in peace and progression. There are students out there like us who want to have a better future just like we do.

If our politicians could bargain a bit better than they are currently doing, then I’m pretty sure that peace can be bartered. Blood and wails don’t ensure anything except vengeance. We had enough of mistrust. Enough of political manipulations. Enough of emotional mishandlings and connivance on part of our leaders and fanatical rebels. Issues like Kashmir will always be there but my best guess is that its time to leave it for future generations to decide what they want for themselves. Let the future Kashmiris decide their ultimate fate. I say so because the people who are representing the Valley are victims of recent history. Their self-interest undeniably supersedes people’s welfare.

Just imagine how prosperous India would be if it didn’t have to worry about constant threat from West in the form of state-sponsored terrorists blowing themselves up in major cities across the Indian mainland. An assured India can focus more on education budget than defense budget that is eating off schools, dreams and opportunities for millions of Indians. Similarly, Pakistan too will benefit a lot if it manages to assure India of its cooperation. Military-ruled Pakistan doesn’t represent Pakistanis. It represents the miniscule men in Olive Green who are having the best of life out there. India can help Pakistan revive its democratic roots. After all, it was supposed to be democratic but somehow staggered down the line of coup.

The question is not about who is right or who is wrong. We’ve traveled a long distance from that burning question. Right now, its time to pause and think and start working towards a healthy future ahead. A future when the sky space over India will have PIA flying with no worry and Air India will land in Karachi. A time when fishermen who stray won’t be hassled and made pawns in diplomatic warfare. A time when Cricket will be back in fashion between these two cricketing giants and both the flags will fly side by side with decent hooliganism that football can only wish for. A time when Pakistanis won’t have to watch pirated Bollywood movies and Pakistani singers won’t be reviled for getting jobs in movies. A time when Dubai won’t be the meeting point or the marketplace between us!
I wish for the best type of border, an invisible border. Until that happens, I’ll be a dreamer and I guess I must be politically incorrect. But I believe being pessimist doesn’t guarantee me peace either. We are passing away and time’s running so why not save some hope for generations to come and stop at once this madness.