Friday, 9 December 2011

A little bit of Yodhakaa in my life

I'm writing this post quick-quick. Yesterday I happened to attend a live performance of the music band that I love the most - Yodhakaa. Their tagline is "Contemporary Indian music" and they live up to it. The band has seriously changed my life, and I mean it in the literal sense.

I had been to Satyam Cinemas at Chennai in June this year, to watch Kung Fu Panda 2. During the intermission, I saw the advert of Yodhakaa, a very simple ad, just a picture of their debut album's cover. Something told me that I must remember that name and must check out what it is about. So I pulled out my phone and opened up the Notes, where I saved the name, just in case I would forget. As soon as I got back home, I googled 'Yodhakaa' and found out what they were all about. I downloaded a few tracks from a file-hosting website illegally. After a week, I couldn't help myself listening to them over and over, again and again and realized that their music was really worth buying the CD. Honestly, there has been no band that has captivated me so much towards its music, be it Indian or international. I have never been interested in anything religious, be it songs or slokas. My parents have long branded me outcast in that sense, as I'm totally against such stuff, being born in a Hindu brahmin family who supposedly love such music and chants. Even my Facebook profile read my religious views as 'Agnostic'. When I first told my mom about the liking that I had taken towards this new band, it hardly meant anything to her. After I started humming the tunes of Yodhakaa at home, it made a difference. When they saw me saying words like 'Mudaakaratta Modakam' and 'Vasudeva Sutham', I guess they finally considered me to be a part of their family!

There is this incident that I want to share with everyone. I believe in coincidence, but this incident that I'm going to speak of, in my view, isn't a coincident at all. Well, you can compare it to 'Divine Intervention' from Pulp Fiction, which is what I think it is. This incident happened on the 1st of September this year. A day that is perhaps, too valuable to forget. I know, after I finish narrating this incident, it'll make no difference to you, or you may probably never understand why this has been so important to me. But let me tell you, it really meant a lot to me. I'll get started right away. This friend of mine, Vishnu Maya, my ex-classmate, now studies at Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT). She's one of the best friends I have ever had all my life, and I call her my pseudo-sibling. On this particular day, September 1st, we were talking over the phone at around 1:00 a.m. regarding some issues about Linux drivers for Dell laptops, after which we hung up. At around 1:30, I sent her a text, to check if she was awake, and she replied. I called her up again and asked her if she knew Sanskrit. I told her regarding the music of Yodhakaa I had been listening to lately. She said, "Let me guess, did you come across this band when you went to Express Avenue for a movie or something ?". She was quite close, I had found out about Yodhakaa at Satyam Cinemas. I asked her that how on earth could she guess that, as not everyone knew about this band. Her reply make my heart skip a beat. She said, "You know what, I had been to Escape at Express Avenue around the same time in June for a lame movie, where they had a Yodhakaa advert in the intermission with a background score. I immediately fell for that music but I never remembered the name of the band after that. Till today, I've been searching for them on the internet, on Google, searching for keywords like 'Indian traditional music' etc., but nothing has been even half as close to it. You won't believe, it's been three months now, and I was searching for them even this afternoon. You remembered the name, but I didn't. And that's all made the difference!". She told me that she had searched in leading music stores in Chennai for the album, but she couldn't find it, as she didn't remember the name. She even went to the extent of saying that when she would come to Chennai next time, she'd go to Escape to watch some lame movie again, just to see that advert during the intermission (Believe me, she said that). After the call, she put this status up on her Facebook wall :

"Never went so dumbstruck in life... It was just a music album, whose name I did not know, but was running as a background process in my mind... And thanks to Gautam Krishnan (Could he read my mind?or see through my head?) who led me to bump into it, in course of him flaunting his recent favorite. That was the album I was looking for.. Yodhakaa. Joy, I guess, streamed in along with the songs...."

She also sent me a text message, which read "You know what... I thought joy was got in nothing. Nothing gives joy. Now I know, it lies in finding what you are looking for. May it be a name, a pin, your love, whatever!". Over the next few days, we discussed about the various songs in the album, what they meant, wondering and realizing how much they meant to us. We would talk of the verses of other religious scriptures too, and I would often quote some verses from the songs amidst of our conversations, which I still do!

Ever since I first heard to the tracks of Yodhakaa, I feel there has really been a change in me. I feel I'm starting to get religiously inclined (at least a bit) and more conscious about our tradition. I've started appreciating traditional music and pay a close attention to the slokas I happen to listen these days. No day passes by when I don't sing a song or two from the album. Whenever I drive, or travel by bus, Yodhakaa accompanies me. The songs seem to give a new meaning each time I listen to them. I hum the songs, whistle the tunes, while walking, bathing and even before sleeping! Buying the Yodhakaa CD was perhaps the most valuable 150 Rupees that I've ever spent. I gifted my Aunt a CD for her birthday, which I ordered online, and it arrived promptly and exactly on her birthday. And thus, I've decided that it's the best birthday gift I could ever give to anyone. Also, my religious views on my Facebook profile now reads "Hindu"! Sometime ago, I sent friend requests to 'Darbuka' Siva, Pradeep Vijay and Subhiksha Rangarajan, the three lead artists of the band. I was very glad when I found out that all of them had accepted it! W00t !!

Yesterday, I was at the Yodhakaa thanks giving show was organized at Alliance Fran├žaise, Nungambakkam, Chennai. I has been my dream to attend a live concert of Yodhakaa ever since I fell in love with their music. I realized that, to me, Yodhakaa has become something more than music. It has become a way of life. The combination of Pradeep Vijay's and Subhiksha's voices were simply magical. I got to hear a few songs that might be a part of the next album, and I must say that they are too good. The 'Jataa Kataa' song was performed in the end, and it filled the hall with so much divinity. That song really brought a tear in my eye. If there's another concert in the vicinity, I cannot afford to miss it, and so can't you. After the show got over, I shook hands with all those who performed, especially, Siva, Pradeep, and Susha, and told them what I felt regarding the show. I found it hard to believe that they were so simple and really interactive with everyone who had come down to congratulate them. I really want to be a part of the Yodhakaa family, and want to contribute to them in every way possible so that they become a huge favorite of everyone.

It was a few weeks after that incident that I've described above happened. Maya had called me and told me that she was scared as it was her practical exam that day. I sent her a text "Say Krishnam Vande Jagat Gurum and go write your exam". She replied, "Was listening to it!".

Friday, 11 November 2011

The overflowing bucket list !

Successive posts in a very short span of time - looks like I have a lot of time to spare. This time I'm back again with another post, with a never ending list of things I'd want to do before I die. So here goes my bucket list, scribbled in no particular order, except the first one ;)

  • Marry. Obviously a girl, who is more beautiful on the inside than on the outside.
  • Become a successful designer.
  • Build and establish my own online empire.
  • Write my own autobiography (idhu too much, it won't hurt when I turn 60)
  • Become a successful entrepreneur by establishing a chain of coffee-shops and restaurants in collaboration with my cousins Ganesh and Vandhana.
  • Buy back my Grandfather's old house, which I'm told that it was sold due to a financial crunch in the seventies.
  •  Look around in my neighborhood and bring at least 10 businesses online, that currently work and depend on their offline income/strategies.
  • Educate at least 10 underprivileged Indians about computers, internet and stuff.
  • Provide job opportunities to unfortunate friends and relatives who aren't financially sound.
  • Go abroad for a holiday, probably for honeymoon ! 
  • Convince my mom to get herself a Facebook account !
  • Act as a responsible social citizen and play my part in making India a better place to live.
  • Write my own fiction novel(s).
  • Open up a small playschool, for which my wife-to-be would make the cutest school principal.
  • Revive the tradition of the joint family system and bring all my relatives together to live at one place.
  • Visit Delhi and meet all my childhood friends.
  • Visit all the schools that I've studied in and go to each of the classrooms in the respective schools and sit on the benches where I usually used to sit.
  • Help at least 10 differently abled come up in life.
  • Own a Royal Enfield and ride it all the way from Chennai to my University. 

It isn't easy to do all of this, but I'm pretty sure I can get most of this done. Furthermore, I'm already on my way to some of them (definitely not for the first one). Like, I have already developed/designed some web portals which have contributed towards my portfolio. As a responsible citizen, I make sure that I don't litter at public places and adhere to traffic rules, which I am really serious about. I turn off the ignition while waiting at traffic signals and at times, make a friendly gesture to anyone standing beside to turn off theirs too. 

Last, but not the least, add one more to the list, which sees quite impossible: 
  • Find Jaisy K. (If you don't get who this person is, you probably need to read one of my previous posts)!
Will update this list very frequently, given the uber-crazy nature of my mind. And yes, I'll be back to trouble you to read it again once I update.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The hiatus between happiness and success

In the past, there's always been some event that has kindled the spirit in me to write my next blog post. As it turns out to be, there is one behind this one  too. The topic in question here is something that I've long debated in my mind - Happiness vs Success. Before diving into it, let me tell you what made me write this post - it was an incident that happened yesterday while I was travelling in a bus.

After spending some overjoyed moments at hostel as I had got the output verified in my Computer Networks lab examination, I set out for home for the 'study' holidays, a week's vacation that the University generously gives all the students to have fun before exam (I'd call it for koothu adichifying). I boarded the bus to Trichy from my college with Anurag Mathur, a friend of mine. Aboard and almost immediately, I heard a bunch of people were singing something in chorus. I could barely understand the lyrics of what they were singing, but I could definitely figure out that it was a Telugu song, a folk song to be precise. As I made my way through the crowd in the bus, struggling with my backpack and the stroller bag in my hand, I handed out the money to Mathur and made a gesture to get the tickets for both of us as I was extremely curious to see those people who were singing. Mathur got a place to sit, while I stood for almost the whole journey. They were a bunch of daily wage earners who were speaking Telugu, probably migrated to Thanjavur to earn a livelihood. They had occupied three continuous rows in the bus, around six of them, mostly women. There were three kids, a boy and two girls respectively, and all seemed to be around 7-10 years of age. The kids played the songs on a mobile phone and switched between songs, and all of them, including the adults were singing along. Some time later along the hour and a half journey, they switched over to Tamil film songs and the kids were still singing, while their parents had no clue about those songs. I took keen interest in noticing a girl among the kids who was translating each and every line of the lyrics of the song into Telugu and explained to her mother, who probably did not understand Tamil. I realized that the laborers might have come down to Tamil Nadu and maybe the kids were born here, that made the kids understand and speak Tamil fluently. Almost everyone in the bus was watching them sing, and all those laborers, along with their kids, neither felt embarrassed  no cared to notice that everyone was looking at them. Rather, they just gave vent to their feelings from their heart.

Just another scene while travelling in a bus, you might think. To me, this incident made an everlasting impact in my mind. It makes me think, if rich and successful people who possess luxurious cars and lavishly furnished houses, living abroad are actually happier than these daily wage earners. Parents put their kids in coaching classes right from their 6th grade so that their kids can make their way into IITs and get a good job and get settled in their life. When their kids are grow up and actually get 'settled' in their lives, and when they've lost all their childhood and youth in preparing for competitive exams and scoring high grades, do these 'kids' look back at all those days and repent for it ? What do such people feel when they witness an incident like I did ? Does it hit them that they live their life only once and such a life is meant to be happier than just being successful ? If so, how does one define success and happiness ? I mean, is being successful in life happier or is being happy in life more successful ? Or, is there any optimal solution to balance them ? Money cannot buy happiness, but in today's world, there is no happiness without money. So how does one have to evaluate his/her choices ? I can spawn thousands of questions like this, which haunt me when I try to sleep in the night, and I don't think it's a good idea to bother you with them. You will have a hard time pondering over these.

"Those kids are irritating", Mathur said, as he turned back to see me.
"No, they aren't", I replied while I was still looking at them in amazement.
"Why do you say so ?", Mathur demanded. He was curious to know why I hadn't agreed with him.
"Buddy, because they are happier than we are" I replied.

As we reached Trichy, Anurag, I and all the other passengers got down. We parted with those laborers, and blended with the crowd, to never see them again.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Brother, like none other : Part I - Days at Delhi

Rewind. I'm trying to travel back in time. This post is all about one person, about whom I can write volumes but writing this post just in case I forget some of the past incidents, which is highly unlikely though. One of the first encounters with Ganesh that I can remember was at New Delhi, where we had some of the best days of our life.

As my memories drift back to our old house at Devli, a place in Delhi where Ganesh, his mom and dad lived with us for sometime as they had just got transferred from Chennai. This is perhaps the oldest incident I can recollect from my childhood. This story is about 16 years old, when I was like approx. 4 or 5 years of age. Here goes: We had a wooden sofa in our main hall (in fact, that's the same antique sofa we still have in our hall currently at Chennai). Ganesh and I had a quarrel, the reason now long forgotten, and the quarrel had turned nasty. I remember both of us hitting each other and in course of the fight, he caught my face and banged it onto the sofa. My mouth took the maximum impact and both my lips and jaw were swollen. This made me skip school for two whole weeks and was teased by guys all over in my apartments. I even remember looking at myself in the mirror and thought that my face resembled that of Lord Hanuman. Pretty bad incident for a start, but those incidents that followed changed my life, and changed it for good.

Both of us used to go to the St. Mary's Public School, which was located at a distance of twenty minutes on foot. Our granny used to take and bring both of us back from school. Golden days they were. After a few days, we learnt to go on our own, and Sumitha, a girl who lived on the floor above ours too accompanied us to the same school. Ganesh would cry in the morning, and hated to go to school, whereas I, on the other hand, used to get ready for school so early and happily, as though I were going on a picnic. He used to make a huge fuss, and the milkman and his wife (Whom I had named Blue-Pavadai, because of her constant wearing of blue gown) who lived in the adjacent apartment used to shout at us (Just for fun, to insist Ganesh to go to school). Ganesh had come to Delhi from Chennai only sometime ago then, and didn't quite know Hindi. So he had to converse with the kids at school only in English. He used to come back home and complain that the kids couldn't understand a word in English and constantly stared at him because he couldn't speak Hindi, but spoke English very fluently. In the evenings, we used to play in the terrace and I was fond of running naked (Don't mistake this, I was just five then!) all around and he used to run behind me to make me wear an underwear. I had this bad habit of biting my lips when they became dry, and Ganesh and Sumitha would apply Vaseline or just water to make it wet, and so that I couldn't bite it. Sumitha used to drag Ganesh to the school while he cried all through the way. I even remember Sumitha holding his hand and convincing him to come to school! He would protest to wake up in the morning for school and I, on the other hand, used to wake up with a smile on my face. Ganesh's dad would say "Look at Gautam, he wakes up in the morning with a smile .. Learn to be like him". I bet that gave him a hard time!

We had frequent power cuts and water shortage in our area. That would really piss him off .. I remember Ganesh once shouted from the balcony of our house "Devli should not be in this world !!".

As Ganesh's family settled down in Delhi, they found a house at Madangir, where they shifted to and I missed his company a lot. My parents and I used to visit them once in a while and they too would come over to our place. They lived on the second floor and I used to shout all the way climbing up the stairs informing them that I've come! I was a hyperactive kid back then (nothing less now) and Ganesh's mom used to call me "Rettai Vaal Rangudu" which can be fairly translated to a "Two-Tailed-Monkey". As soon as Ganesh would hear my voice and me coming home, in a jiffy he would pack up all his toys safely out of my reach. I remember he had a collection of toy cars similar to Hot-Wheels which I used to envy a lot.

At this time, both of us moved to St. George's School, located at Alakananda, New Delhi. This was the place, where probably we had the best days at Delhi. My family too moved to a new residence at Pushp Vihar, not too far from Ganesh's house. So Ganesh used to come to our house from school. A typical day at school would be like this : I would wake up at six in the morning and had bath in the biting cold water. I used to get ready and reach the bus stop where Ganesh used to join. In most cases, he would run back home because he'd have forgotten his ID card, belt or tie. I used to have a nice laugh watching him running back to fetch those. When the bus arrived, the driver used to honk, signalling that he was late. When we boarded, till we reached the school, various Bhajans would be played in the bus, including 'Om Jai Jagdish Hare', which was my favorite. As soon as we got down, we would part, saying goodbye to each other, as juniors and seniors and separate entrances in the main building. During the lunch breaks, we would meet and he would at times buy me food from the canteen. I still remember we used to eat Chole Bature in the canteen, seems to me it's been only like a year or two since it has all happened. In the evening, we would meet up again, to board the bus to get back home. As he was in 5th or 6th std, his classes used to get over only after half an hour or so after mine. I used to board the bus early and we wouldn't start until all the seniors have boarded too. Ganesh had assigned me a task of getting a window seat in the bus, which I, in most cases got it done. The times when I would lose the seat to someone else, he would pinch me, so that I would get the seat next time!

Many of my friends, even till I was in my 11th and 12th would have their own elder/younger siblings studying in the same school whom they would meet every day. I have really longed for my sibling too to be in my own school, for I have none. It was hardly four or five years that Ganesh and I were in the same school, and yet there have been some really cherished moments during my school days with him. One of the most famous incidents that steals the limelight is the "Jaisy K." incident. There was this girl in my upper kindergarten class (I think) whose name was Jaisy (Not Jessie, and please don't associate Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya with this !). Both of us used to meet at the main gate of our school. On a typical day, after I got down from my bus, I would wait for her, or if she was early, she would be waiting for me at the gate. Then, both of us used to hold our hands and walk to our class. This continued for many days, which made Ganesh raise his eyebrows. He would watch us doing this each day, and on one fine day, when we were walking along, he came up and asked her I she would marry me! She replied that she would definitely marry me! Now that incident has become a laughing stock. It has become really popular among my relatives and there are people who still tease me with it. This incident happened like 15 or 16 years ago,  and I guess last year, Ganesh and I spent about one hour on Facebook just to check if Jaisy K. was on Facebook! Unfortunately, our search query returned no productive results. *Sad*

Another incident worth mentioning here is about the ice creams we used to eat after the school hours. It was illegal for the students to eat ice creams or any roadside food that were sold outside the premises of the school. We had staff who monitored students who bought such stuff and made them throw away whatever they had bought. They used to get inside the school buses too to ensure that the students weren't eating anything that was bought on the roadside. One such staff was Kailash Sir, who had once happened to get inside our bus and inspect. There were many whose ice creams were snatched and thrown to ground which I saw from the window. Now he was coming for us. Ganesh's ice cream was snatched and thrown and I held mine near my knee. He didn't see it, but a guy in the front informed him that I still had the ice cream in my hand, which got it snatched and thrown off the window. Both Ganesh and I were furious at the staff and also at this guy. But we couldn't help it.

As mentioned earlier, Ganesh used to accompany me home from the school. We lived at Sector IV, Pushp Vihar, a huge colony of similar looking houses, which were divided into various sectors. Every other building looked similar and it was kinda difficult to locate an address within the sectors. We used to enter through the main gate, and had to pass the first three sectors to reach the fourth one, where my family lived. As mentioned earlier, Ganesh used to accompany me home and his house was just across the road from our colony, so he went home on his own. While we used to enter the colony through the gate that led us to the first sector. Now this led us to a long path through the other two remaining sectors, and I wouldn't remember which sector was ours, as everything was a look-alike. We used to hunt for a 'Chuski' seller in the first and the second sectors. 'Chuski' is a roadside specialty made in Delhi. It is grated and flavored ice, which is mounted on a small stick and served as an ice candy. The Chuski-wala roamed the streets to sell the Chuskis with a mobile stall and we used to chase him down to get ours! I loved it, and so did Ganesh, but we were strictly instructed not to consume roadside food. Who cares! We used to eat it almost daily. As we used to dwell deep into the first two sectors in search of the Chuski-wala, I wouldn't know the way to get back home. Ganesh knew this and used to leave me alone and hide somewhere. I would search for him for a minute or two, and would start crying. God! He used to love making me cry!!

As all the good things always come to an end, Ganesh's parents got their jobs transferred back to Chennai and so they left Delhi. I actually don't remember the day when they left or our last day together at Delhi, but I gradually realized that his absence created a void. The next year of my school, I was left alone. For the first time, no one would accompany me, or I couldn't tell anyone that my bro was in the same school too. May sound stupid now, but back then, it really meant a lot to the seven year old kid. For he never knew that he and his bro would never be in the same school again. The days at Delhi, the best of my childhood, perhaps the best days of my life so far, were over. And as I recollect and play these incidents in my head now, it feels like I've lived those moments again. Well, that's not all, this is perhaps a fraction of what I can tell you about my bro, which I'll surely do in the days to come.

(P.S.: Subject to further edits if I randomly recollect any of the incidents that I may have missed in this post!)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Congratulations to me, I just screwed up my Computer Networks examination today. FYI, my 2nd mid-semester exams going on and I have no clue how this strange incident happened today. Almost every time I sleep I dream. But the dreams have never been strange or never looked real. They are always about some incident happened previously or regarding something I've spoken about to someone or thought about on the same day. It is never surprising that you have a dream that is about your day-to-day activities. I would like to go a step ahead and say, that when I have some free time during my class hours, or during the break, I sometimes sleep for about ten to fifteen minutes. Even in such short span of sleep, it's very common for me to dream. But the dream that I had today was very strange. It seemed so close to reality. And this is what exactly happened:

I was studying till 1.15 am this morning and felt really sleepy. I went to bed and played a game or two of Solitaire on my mobile phone. I remember I last checked the time before I fell asleep. It was 1.37 am. I am supposed to wake up and study for today's exam. How cool. I slept almost immediately and I had this weirdest dream.

It was like I spent about two to three months in the dream. No kidding, it went on this way: It started with me being at college and my usual college routine. I woke up every morning at 6.30 or 7 am and attended classes. Everything had so much detail in it. The people and things I interacted with, the way they interacted back, the things I saw, and everything else was so real. After spending many days at college, I even saw myself leaving for home for the holidays and spending my days at home. I even remember going out for shopping and spending days at my cousin Ganesh's house, the night show movies we went. I finally returned back to my college and even remember preparing for the exams. I don't remember if they were my mid-semester exams or the semester exams. I can even vaguely remember that my mom called me up for every exam and wished me all the best.

I suddenly woke up and checked the time. It was 3.42 am and I had thoughts that I had bunked the exam. I even thought that my semester exams were over and I'm gonna get severely screwed up. I felt panic trying to imagine how many times my parents would have called me in those two to three months and what my friends would think about me when I show up after two months of simply disappearing somewhere. Strange thoughts started flowing in my mind that there's a parallel world where I went to and I'm struck between these two worlds. All these thoughts occupied my mind for the 20-30 seconds after waking up. Just later, I realized that it was only about two hours since I slept and the thoughts along with the dream started fading away. But believe me, for that momentary period of time, I remembered the dream in so much detail and the description that I've given in the above paragraph is not even a fraction of it. Now, my question is, how can anyone dream with so much detail in respect to the objects and events happening in the dream? I know people who've seen vampires, and other scary creatures. I even know people who have dreamed of being killed. It's really common that I've seen people who have had a dream that is even more strange and who have a habit of talking. But what I experienced today was nothing of this sort. It was just a perfectly normal dream, and I lived every second of that dream for more than two months. How could this ever happen? Has anything of this sort happened to you or anyone you know? If so, please let me know! I'm really puzzled over this and want to know if I possess any superpowers! :P

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Born Again

What would you do if it was the eve of your birthday? Would you have a lot of friends or relatives at home? Party hard till midnight? Booze? And perhaps that's the way you celebrated most of your birthdays so far. Frankly, I have never had a birthday when I had been surrounded by people who joined me to celebrate my birthday the previous night. It has always been me and only me, counting up to twelve o'clock and suddenly out of nowhere, at the stroke of midnight, people start pouring in their birthday wishes to me in the form of calls and messages. Duh, it was the same this time too. I had hoped that at least this time, Ganesh and Vandhana, my cousins and my best buddies would come over. Unfortunately, as my birthday fell on a Friday, Ganesh had to go to his workplace and couldn't take a day off. Vandhana, on the other hand, had other commitments as well, and she too couldn't turn up. So this year's birthday was like a deja vu of the previous one. Parents sleeping off by 10.30p.m and I'm alone in my room, just like what happened last year. Two of my friends called up at 11 or 11.15 and wished me because they felt so sleepy that they couldn't hold themselves awake any longer. At around 11.30, Ganesh sent me this text : "Advanced bday wishes re .. I might sleep off .. I am very sorry if I don't call u at 12 .. ". Now, it was almost 12a.m., and Ganesh called up and wished me. I was delighted that he was awake for me and I sensed that he was already half asleep by the tone in which he was talking to me. Exactly at the same time, Vandhana's text arrived. These were the exact words : "Happy birthday Gautam makada :) Wish you all success :) Enjoy life :) My fav cousin, you're sweet. Be the same, don't change :) Computer Boy You Rock :p ". The word "Makada" translates to "Monkey" in English. After reading this, it brought a big, broad smile on my face! Among friends, Kartikeya Agrawal, one of my close friends at school and even now, was the first to call me. This has been a tradition for the past three years, that he has been the first person to call me on my birthday. Many other school mates and college mates called up and wished, and I was so surprised that they still remember my birthday. Now, I was expecting a call from Vandhana, which never arrived, who instead chose to wish me by sending out the text I mentioned earlier. I was a bit sad for it, although I did not mention it to her, because I didn't want her to feel bad. The call rates started dropping by 12.45a.m and I kept attending calls till 1.15 a.m when there were no more calls after that. This brought a close to the eve of my birthday.

The next day I rose at 7a.m., and according to our tradition, one is supposed to wake up early in the morning (say at 4a.m) and apply oil on the hair and have a bath in the morning. On this day, me being the birthday boy, defied all these and had bath only at ten. Chuck it, I was talking about the time I woke up. My Mom and Dad were the first ones to wish me in person. My 'Athya' or aunt who lives with us, followed up and then came my granny who wished me too. I went downstairs to my uncle's house, where my cousins Srilatha and Sriram, who are only 7 and 4 years old, wished me. I was now brimming with happiness when my uncle and aunt wished next. Vandhana had told me that she would come home and we'd go for shopping. As my birthday falls on the 24th of June, a day wich comes when the schools are usually closed for summer vacations, in the 12+ years of my school life, I haven't celebrated my birthday at school more than a couple of times. It pretty much means that birthday is more or less like a normal day for me, just that on this day, people are nice to me and I don't get scolded by my parents! But this day was different. And two people made the difference, one among whom gets the maximum credits. Vandhana chose to travel a distance of 20 kms by public transport, and all by herself to reach my place at 10.30 am. She had got me a wrist watch, which looked really expensive and wonderful, which I've treasured at my home. In my room, I showed her some things that I had preserved, which meant a lot to me. I showed her the shells that we collected at the beach in Mumbai ten years ago, when we were kids. I also showed her the autograph book that she had bought me when I had visited her house during my summer holidays when I was around 14. Another thing that surprised her was when I showed the beads which I collected around 4 years ago, with which, back then at Ganesh's place she had arranged them in such a way that it spelt 'Van', the first three letters of her name. This are only some few things that are souvenirs from the past.

We left home after two hours to purchase a few things that I had planned to buy as my college was due to reopen on 29th of June and I had not bought any civil supplies to sustain my life there. In the course of buying, I took her to the length and breadth of Anna Nagar, twice or thrice, over and over. After that, we went to Nungambakkam to shop for clothes. She selected a shirt for me that looked really good (That is according to what people tell me, as I don't know to judge clothes by looking at them) and I selected a tops for her, which looked really cute on her. We had a filling lunch at a Rajasthani Dhaba at Anna Nagar and later, we left for Nanganallur, to Ganesh's house. As soon as we arrived, both of us left for the famous Anjaneya Temple at Nanganallur and had a great Darshan. I made that poor kid walk all along the way, and she did complain, but I dragged her along!

At around ten pm, Mr. Ganesh Gururajan came home. As soon as he saw me, he shook my hand and wished me happy birthday. Now, there's a reason why I spent the night at Ganesh's house. I've been a Chennai for ten years now, and for all these ten years, I've spent all my birthdays with him, except two, when he was at Singapore for his MBA. It's become a customary practice for me to spend my birthday in his presence, for he's my mentor and a great source of inspiration. I've been with him since my childhood and each and every action of his has inspired me and I really enjoy his presence and spent almost all my summer holidays with him. It feels really great to be with him, for he has always got something to say that makes me laugh. So I badly wanted to see him on this birthday too, and it happened! Now, there was another reason why Vandhana and I had been to Ganesh's place that night. We wanted to discuss certain 'business strategies and ideas' that both of us had discussed and speculated all day. We told him a couple of ideas what we had thought and he gave some insights of why certain businesses flourish and why others perish. Vandhana and I just gave glances towards each other as Ganesh used certain technical words here and there which made us feel that he was doing justice to his MBA degree. Later, we retired for the night and decided to sleep, as it was 12 am. I sent one last text message to Vandhana, who was sleeping in the next room. The message said "My birthday is over :( ".

Well, I guess a birthday can be more than a party or booze or having tens of friends gathered around you. It can be better just by spending time with some of your best buddies. This day was wonderful to me and I was a happy man at the end of the day. Thanks to Vandhana and Ganesh, they are the best people I know on earth. Time flies when I spend it with them. And poor me, I'm jailed at this college that is more than 300 km away from them and I get to see them like for one day or two in a month. Sorry for the delay in posting this one, as I had to think and write a lot for it, and blame the lack of time. I must have posted this a month ago, but I couldn't, but I was sure that I will not fail to do it as I felt that I haven't had a better birthday than this one. I felt I was born again.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Mumbai Serial Blasts, The Role of Twitter in helping the victims and The Spirit of Oneness among Mumbaikars

It was so wonderful to see the Mumbaikars helping each other out today, in the wake of the bomb blasts. The first blast happened around 6.30 p.m IST, and at about the same time, I had logged into Facebook and Twitter. At about 7.15 p.m, I had to reload the twitter page as my internet had got disconnected. After the reload, I found that the topic #mumbaiblasts was trending, so I hastily scrambled through it to find out what was wrong. Twitter handles of CNN, NDTV and Times Now reported that there had been three serial blasts. In no time, a new trending topic crept up : #here2help. So I checked it out, and found that scores of people had already come to know about the incident and had tweeted them. I ain't in Mumbai, I'm struck at Thanjavur, a place in Tamil Nadu, a place which a Mumbaikar might not even know! From here, I was helpless, and all I could do was to RT some tweets that I thought might reach someone in need of help.

The point is, this incident is what really made me write this post. The tendency of all the people of Mumbai, their willingness to help people in need, and their unity that they showed in the case of this terror attack. I haven't seen any precedence to this sort of response to such an incident ever, in India. That really impressed me. I would like to share some posts that were marked with the various trending hash tags:

Let's start with those who needed help, these people tweeted with a #needhelp tag or otherwise needed help. Here are some of their tweets :

@RakeshTheKumar: Everybody #here2help from Dadar, join Prathamesh. He needs people to move the blast victims to hospital 9768957812

@sakshijuneja: RT @b50: RT @Nakulsud: Stranded in the rain near Gandhi hospital.. No cabs. Anyone around? Call 9920722186.. going to mahim #needhelp

@mgirotra: @vandanaprasad #needhelp at Parel. Koi hai waha??

@Praneethz_: RT @rahulkatragadda: My friend @kushaldave needs to reach International Airport from Chembur. #NeedHelp (cc: @sidin @venkatananth ) Plss RT.

@ni_nad: RT @Rohneet: RT @tejas_tamhane: Anyone going towards Andheri, can you pick me up from Opera House? #mumbaiblasts #needHelp

@beeayeanoowhy: anyone? RT: @SamuraiSingh: Anyone from inorbit mall Malad heading towards Dindoshi in Goregaon east? I could do with a lift. #needhelp

@blahssome: #NeedHelp (also which area is this in?)RT @Decloned_iTaz: Anyone works at Directi? Please RT #urgent Need to see if my bro is there and safe

@ni_nad: RT @zeylovers My frnd's dad in B'bay cnt contact him. She's nt sure where his off/hotel is His name is Arun Gopal. #needhelp

@venkatananth: RT @RoaringCrab: Not getting cab/rickshaw/bus/train 2 go back home if u can reach chembur I shall host u #mumbaiblasts #needhelp #Here2Help

@nkan25: #needhelp RT"@ghaatidancer: Does anyone know an aakanksha khanna, sister of rishabh khannaTryin to get in touch with her.She was at Dadar

@ikaveri: #mumbaiblasts #needhelp RT @sangvoel Friend stuck in fort. Anyone there? My train isnt moving. People jumping off n walking.”

@ghaatidancer: Just spoken to KEM. B-ve is required. Go to the hospital by 9.30 tomorrow to do your bit. #Here2Help #Mumbaiblasts Pls RT

@BloodAid: B-ve donors needed tomorow after 10 am, KEM Hospital, Parel, #Mumbai contact the hosp. blood bank at 022-24135189/24107421 #blooaid

Now, I would like to mention those people who were ready to help or offered some helpful information. This is a really staggering number, so please bear with me. I was so surprised to see these many people offering help! Here goes:

@KiranKS: #Here2Help for #MumbaiBlasts affected people. RT @MrsSonaL I am near Dadar TT... If anybody need help contact me on 09323324177

@Shikhashikz: RT @gauravsaha: RT @Sengupta: Near Dadar, the closest hospital is Hinduja (near Mahim): 02224452222 #mumbaiblasts

@DreamsCentral: RT @silv3rglee: #Here2Help #MumbaiBlasts RT @alimaxout: Anyone needing help in Jogeshwari area. Sms/call on 7208180539 / 9773510256.

@b50: RT: @oldmonk_says: Going to bandra from colaba.anyone need any help or a ride let me know on 9821555774 #mumbaiblasts #here2help

@puneet86: Seriously, people. Blame Pakistan/terrorists/whoever else you think is responsible later. Go help someone first. #Mumbaiblasts

@KiranKS #Here2Help for #MumbaiBlasts affected people. RT @alimaxout: Anyone needing help in Jogeshwari area. Sms/call on 7208180539/9773510256.

@brijwhiz: #here2help RT @rohanlilani: Anyone stranded in town, and needs a place near Metro/Marine Lines, call me 9503019001 #mumbaiblasts

@ibnlive: Hospitals: KEM (022-24136051), Nair (022-23085379), Harkishandas (23855555 / 30095555), Saifee (22 6757 0111) #MumbaiBlasts

@ikaveri: RT @mokshjuneja Anyone who needs to take a breather in Chembur,welcome to be hosted at my place call me 9322121170 #mumbaiblasts #Here2Help

@jacobrohan: Anyone stuck in Bandra West, feel free to call me @ 9773352262 for a safe place. #mumbaiblasts

@mithunk: If you need any help of any kind you can call me, my office is at Matunga, my number 9920099923, I can email/tweet etc for you #mumbaiblasts

@qtfan: I am a doctor. Text me on nine eight two zero zero two one four nine two, if you need any medical help. Or call JJ Hospital on 022 -23735555

@GaayathriRaj: RT @RanjibMazumder: To hire or rent a car - #MumbaiBlasts #Here2Help

@MihirBijur: Will reach worli in precisely 10 mins. Have place for 3 in the car. Any1 needs a drop anywhere in town? #here2help

@mihirfadnavis: RT @shaaqT RT @_vishalg RT @R113 leaving frm lower parel to andheri east at 930pm by car have place for 3 if needed #mumbaiblasts #here2help

@anuradha_kush: #mumbai #here2help RT @parapraxist: If anyone is stuck in matunga or dadar, i live in a udct hostel and can easily find room. 9619243263.

@ekta06: RT @beeayeanoowhy Anyone stranded in Borivali/Kandivali me on 9768886457. food/acco not a worry #Here2Help #mumbaiblasts

@sacredeastwind: “@maheshmurthy: open to all RT @Pinstorm: Need to stay in Bandra tonight? Ask @Netra for access to our guesthouse #MumbaiBlasts” #Here2help

@KiranKS: #Here2Help for #MumbaiBlasts affected people. RT @neerja15: Anyone stranded at borivli W @Neerja 9820751559 any help

@silv3rglee: #here2help #MumbaiBlasts RT @Joydas Taxi's Might be off the Road Post 12 Midnight. If u need accomodation for the Night, any area, lemme knw

@Amit_Gujargoud: Will reach worli in precisely 10 mins. Have place for 3 in the car. Any1 needs a drop anywhere in town? #here2help RT @MihirBijur

@TulikaP: Anyone need help near Kurla or Chembur reply to my Tweet #here2help please RT

@zainabkakal: Call Binit Vasa 9920123963 if you are stuck near Ruia College/Dadar His office is open and you can stay there #here2help

@confuzzled_19:If anyone needs help in and around Bandra, I'm #here2help

@sureshnakhua: Will reach sion circle in 10 min any1 needs drop till ghatkopar/chandivali/powai/sakinaka/andheri e - pls ctc - space for 1 - #here2help

@Vikasnowal: Anyone needs help in Andheri west, pl buzz me... #here2help #mumbaiblasts

@MeShopoholic: Any1 around Matunga(king's Circle), dadar & sion who can't/wont go back 2 affected areas, u can stay at my place. #MumbaBlasts #here2help

@PeculiarBlend: I'm waiting at the Mira Road Station If you need any help let me know. 98191-81219 Later Be right back. #here2help

@GhoshalUnplug_D: #Here2Help #MumbaiBlasts #NeedHelp I stay 5 mins from Kabootar Khana.. Anyone needs help/food/cab, let me know - 9820233387

@gsurya: Since no taxis, will go downtown past midnight & drive back to Andheri to pick up anyone stranded. 4 seats to fill. #MumbaiBlasts #Here2Help

@drhitesh: #here2help call 9967712807 for any assistance

@ADKStreme: At mahim now call on 99209nineeightfivrzeroeight. #here2help

@TheNiravShah: Anyone needing any help near Opera House / Charni Road I am #Here2Help - +91-9870837970

@poo_sud: +1 RT"@ghaatidancer: My blood group is B- and I know it's quite rare. If anyone needs it, please let me know. #Mumbaiblasts #Here2Help"

@KiranKS: #Here2Help #MumbaiBlasts RT @jayblawgs: In S Bombay, there’s a hostel in Byculla called Seva Niketan. 23092934, 23093025, 23093057, 23093257

I understand that you cannot read each and every entry there. But I couldn't leave out people without giving them credits for what they did. I feel that everyone who tweeted or RTed about the blasts deserves applause.

That's the power of social media. And the people of Mumbai put it to the best possible use. I want them to stand united for any such incidents(which I pray must not happen) to come in the future. My heartiest condolence to everyone who lost their near and dear ones and prayers to their families. Celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Madhur Bhandarkar, Priyanka Chopra, Shahid Kapoor, Ritesh Deshmukh, Sonam Kapoor and Anupam Kher condemned the attack on twitter and offered prayers. I think that they put their twitter handles to the best use tonight. My humble request to everyone is to put technology to good use by helping out people whenever/wherever/however possible. Kudos to the residents of Mumbai who have shown the spirit on oneness. If you give a close look on twitter about the topics #needhelp and #here2help, the later had at lease 10x more tweets! Which means, there were more people ready to help, than people who needed help.

P.S: Any personal information in the above post must not be misused. The sole intention of including them in the post was to describe the helping tendency of the people of Mumbai.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Farewell and False Promises

The day before yesterday was supposed to be the last working day for the final year students of my college. Four years of fun, frolic and the best four years of life had finally drawn the curtain on them. I was standing on the first floor of Chith Vihar, outside the Java lab and watched all my seniors gathered in the ground floor and clicking photos with each other. There was some entertainment, speeches and a party for about two hours, which I missed almost entirely as I was in the lab. Once I got out, I found many of them still there and as I reached the ground floor, I heard two people talking to each other "Machi, call pannite iru da. Enna marandhudadha." and the other person replied "Unna marakka mudiyuma machi? Feel pannadha, namma eppodhume meet pannalam." Later, all of them stood for the final photographs at college before they bid farewell to each other, probably secretly crying in their minds that the best days of their lives had finally ended.

I imagined what it would be like when the time comes for me. I saw all of them and no one cried to each other. I'm quite sure that I'll not be able to hold back my tears. Earlier that day, I was sitting inside classroom CTV104 and was writing my laboratory record, when a few seniors entered the room. One girl said to a few other guys and girls "Hey avangalam enga pa? We shall go to all the places inside the campus where we've been from first year and we shall click photos." which made my attention drift away from what I was doing. I imagined how these people would have been in their first year, like "this day, that age" kind of effect and wondered how they would have felt when they saw their seniors leaving the campus. I still have two more years to go to meet my fate of this inevitable day in my life, when I'll be putting my feet in their shoes. And that would be the day when I'll look back and see the memories of a lifetime flash in front of my eyes in one glimpse. And that day, after everything is over, perhaps, maybe I'll open my blog and see this post, and have a heart attack. I still have no clue about how the first two years of my college life have gone by, how time has whizzed past me, blowing like a gentle breeze.

The day also meant something for me, as some of the people who inspire me the most were leaving the college. Sanjeev Gopinath, Vikas Mishra, Anurag Jain and Anil Kuncham were some who introduces me to, and helped the GLOSS community at the University sustain it's fame. It is like yesterday I saw the farewell of Dwarakanath, the former head of GLOSS and today, it is one year already. In just two more days, my college life too would end.

The farewell reminds me of my last day at school, when I made a huge and successful effort to hide my tears. I will not get into all that, but college life has been too good for me to hold back my emotions on that-day-to-come. Maybe the prime reason would be my first semester, probably the best among all of them, which made me all I am today and about which, I'll surely make a separate blog post, for those were golden days of my life.

I would like to justify the title of this post, the second part of the title to be precise. I'm quite sure every one of us have said goodbye to our friends who were once dearest to us at some part of our life. We promised them that we would be there for them always and will keep in touch or visit them frequently. Well, these promises are hardly kept up by anyone. I wonder how a very good friend becomes a stranger just because you haven't talked for a while. If you've read the short story 'After Twenty Years' by O'Henry, you'll see how the two friends kept up their promise of meeting at a place, to fulfill a promise made to each other twenty years ago. It gives an eerie feeling when I go through my phonebook to search for someone's number and I stumble upon an old friend's name. I suddenly have the urge to call him/her up but get this reluctant feeling inside.

I dedicate this post to all my seniors, who have inspired me and guided me throughout my life. I would like to quote J.K. Rowling's farewell speech at Harvard here, which goes like this- "I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister." This speech really touched my heart and I thought of sharing it everyone. As I've mentioned in the earlier paragraphs about those assuring others that they'd always be there, I wish they would always remember that promise that they made, forever.

I hope that the unity shall be more than in the photographs that were taken on that day. I wish success and happiness all through their life. I hope that I have the courage to face that day with determination. I hope.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Not another "Hello World"!

No. Not again. Numerous attempts in the past have failed, but I'm not gonna give up on this one. Since 2007, when I was fifteen, I came across the word 'Blog'. I hastily searched google for what the word meant. Soon, I found out that blogs were a way by which people expressed their ideas freely, to a handsome number of audience. So, at the age of fifteen, I started one on my own, but had nothing to write about. I made a post or two, but my interest met a grave end due to the lack of content to blog about. Successive attempts were made to replenish my spirit of blogging, only in vain. The only reason was perhaps my monotonous schedule, something that made life stagnant, or maybe nothing struck me that could be blogged about.

Today, I feel that there's a lot that's to be written as a blog, epecially those random thoughts and ideas that come to my mind every now and then and fade into nothingness in a day or two. I may have written many "Hello world" posts in the blogs that I had previously, but I bet nothing was even as long as this one. Moreover, I wanna open up to the world, reach out to people, to make myself clear, about where I've headed towards.

This post shall mark the dawn of a new era in my life, the era of recording my memories, that are exactly heartfelt. I may not be someone great, whose posts are followed by hundred or thousands, but it does give me an opportunity to express myself, a platform that's like nothing else.

Miles to go before I sleep!