Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Rescue Mission - Behind the scenes

Note: I'm writing this in response to this article.

The night was cold and mom wasn't around. I lay there all alone, when I decided to hunt for a place that felt warm and safe. I roamed around and found a tunnel that was big enough for me to get through. I spent the whole night sleeping there, occasionally being disturbed by cold winds and mild drizzle. I woke up and came out to find my mom and brother outside. It was still cold, so I decided to get back into the tunnel. It was 6.30 or 6.45 am I think, when I went there. I ventured too far into the tunnel and slipped. I didn't realise that the tunnel had a hole and I fell into it. I fell for just a little distance, when I got stuck inside.

I initially felt that the place was warm, so I decided not to struggle to get out. But after sometime, I was reminded of mom and I was hungry too. So I started calling out for help. I sensed that my mom had come for help, as she was calling me from outside the tunnel. The tunnel was too small for her to get through, I think. I kept calling out in vain and was telling her that I was hungry. That's when I heard some people talking outside. I think they heard my mayday calls and decided to look for the one who is need of help. Most of their conversation was gobbledygook to me. But this is what I could figure out: They had thought that someone was calling for help at their neighbor's place and chose to ignore.

I kept calling out for help, but in vain. Then at around 7 am, someone rushed out to the terrace, came over to the tunnel and found out that the sound was indeed coming from there. It was a human. He brought one more human there in a few minutes. After sometime, there was a loud quarrel going on there. I think there might have been about 4-5 humans there, and I could overhear their conversation: At first, they seemed to be concerned about me. And then I found out that they didn't want me to die inside their well as that would contaminate their water. And so, they decided to rescue me.

After a while, something hit my head. It was pushing me downwards and I continued to slip through the pipe, getting stuck at regular intervals. And then I landed into a bend and couldn't get myself out of it. I screamed again for help. The humans responded by pouring water inside the tunnel and I got completely drenched. They did this once more and I thought that I was going to drown for sure. A third time, and I was freed from the bend that I was stuck at. I choked and sneezed. I cleared my eyes and saw that there was finally an opening out of the tunnel. So I decided to get out and walked to the edge of the tunnel but found out that all this water was draining into a huge pit. I waited for help and stayed back quietly into the tunnel. 

There was water forced into the tunnel again. I didn't know what the humans intended to do, but the water dragged me out from my position and I almost fell into the pit. I somehow managed to hang on to the walls and waited again. There was more water. This was insane. As I was forced out for the third time, I was caught by the neck by a human and thrown out of the huge pit. I was shivering and nervous as I saw more humans gathering around to catch a glimpse of me. They wrapped a cloth around me to keep me warm and took photographs of me. They even fed me biscuits that wasn't able to chew and gave me milk. I was then taken to their terrace to be dried under the hot sun, when the human who pulled me out of the tunnel decided to torture me by taking more photographs: 

The way he tortured me by taking photographs :/

And then he left me at the place I consider home - their terrace. My mom and brother were not there, perhaps they had gone in search of me. After sometime, they returned. They were really happy to find me back home again. We now live as a happy family just like we've always been, and these humans provide us with food and milk - although there are times when they just don't care and we have to go looking for food by ourselves. 

Mom tells me that these humans are good people. I find it very strange to strike a friendship with them and I was very scared initially. Mom seems to be in very good terms with them and they too seem to enjoy our company. I'm trying to break the ice and be social with humans, and it is starting to work, I guess. My brother still refuses to even show up when the humans come to see us and is very scared of them. I really do hope that they do not harm us and keep us happy. 

P.S. I learnt that the warmth of being with mom and brother is better than the one I went searching for in the tunnel. I wrote this blog from the human's MacBook when he had left it on his balcony. I also managed to pull up a photo of him from his Facebook profile. For the record, this is what he looks like:

Loads of meows,
The Kitten.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Rescue Mission

I woke up at 7 am this morning, which is very early by my standards. My house was already abuzz with some issue. My uncle, who lives downstairs was talking in a loud voice and my aunt was complaining about something. Then I heard a kitten meowing nearby. It seemed to be in pain and then there was sound of more cats. My aunt was telling my uncle that a cat probably got stuck somewhere and was unable to come out of it.

I rushed to the terrace and found the cat who has made our terrace its home. There was a kitten along with it. But the sound of the wincing kitten seemed to come from elsewhere. I checked the broad rain water pipe which drains the rain water from the terrace into the well. The sound was coming from that. I checked if I could somehow pull the kitten out, but I couldn't see it. It had fallen into the pipe and was stuck vertically inside it. There was no way to dismantle the pipe as it is cemented and the single pipe runs from the terrace till the outlet inside the well. If the kitten were to slip from the current position, it would fall into the well and its death was imminent. I wanted to do everything I could to save it.

I called my mom to the terrace and explained the situation. I went downstairs to my uncle's house and checked the open-to-terrace space where the well is located. I found the outlet of that pipe and lowered a bucket tied to a rope into the well and tied it firmly into the position so that the if the kitten were to fall, it would fall only into the bucket. I then went back to the terrace and took the long tube that we use to water the plants. I lowered the tube into the rainwater pipe and pushed the kitten along the pipe. I pushed it two floors down and went downstairs again. I could now hear the kitten near the well, but it was now stuck in a right angle bend there and there was no way to push it any further.

It was around 9.15 am by now and I was still struggling to get the kitten out. My uncle gave a hand and was keeping vigil if the kitten would suddenly pop out. My aunt went to the terrace and I asked her to pour water forcibly into the pipe. The water drained out through the pipe but the kitten was nowhere to be seen. For a minute, we thought that it had died inside. I wanted to get it out somehow and I asked her to pour more water. She poured a bucket full of water when the kitten was pushed out of the place where it was stuck and looked out from the pipe. It saw daylight after about three hours of being stuck inside.

It was afraid to come out, and went back into the pipe. The outlet inside the well is barely reachable by hand so I couldn't grab hold of it. Now my aunt poured more water and the kitten peeped out for a second time. More water. Now it peeped out for the third time when I bent down into the well, stretched out my hand and grabbed the kitten by its head (or whatever my hand could catch hold of it). It started scratching my hands with its paws and I quickly, but softly threw it out of the well into safety. It was completely wet and shivering due to the cold water. I wrapped it up with a cloth and showed it to my mom, uncle, aunt and granny. Well, now let me show it to you too:

The cute little fur ball that I rescued today!

Okay, so everyone at home seems to have started loving him. But I'm not allowed to raise pets at home, you know. But I hope he sticks around and stays in my terrace (I've blocked that pipe FYI). For the next half an hour after we rescued him, everyone at home was taking turns to cuddle him. I think they've accepted him as a member in our family, but I haven't officially asked the kitten for his permission for being a part of our family though.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The childhood that they never had.

A few weeks ago, I was shown a Micromax Android phone by my uncle. The screen had developed lot of cracks and he told me that it was time that he got a new phone. "See, this is the reason that I got this phone for 4K. Cheap, serves the purpose and it lasted long in harsh conditions!", he explained. What he had actually meant regarding the "harsh conditions" was that his kids playing games on the phone.

The only game that I knew when I was a kid was Cricket, at least till I was 10 years old. I had loads of friends back at New Delhi, with their ages ranging from three to twenty. The only thing that we all had in common was to play in the hot summer sun. Even now, I associate the word "game" with an outdoor game, than the digital one. I never took any extra classes on weekends, or had a tight schedule unlike the kids of today. We had a TV with cable connection, but I hardly remember watching cartoons. Nor there were any special channels for kids' programmes, other than Cartoon Network. Mario and Dave were almost the only two games I had ever played on a console or on the computer. Childhood was fun indeed.

I always feel cursed to be born and lived all my childhood in metro cities. There was hardly any place to play, and I was witness to every piece of empty land and playground around me being converted into high rise apartments. I studied in schools that continually discouraged sports. The standard of education was great, but there was hardly a playground to play. Yet, it was fun to hunt for empty plots and small pieces of land within my area along with friends just for the love of cricket. It was fun to break windows by hitting sixers too. I really loved the part that came next, being scolded by angry Mamas and Mamis for playing there.

I see my uncle's kids who live downstairs every day go out to play at my neighbour's house, just opposite to ours. Theirs is an apartment, with little space on the ground floor where some ten kids play every day. When I feel that I was myself cursed to be brought up in metros, the childhood of these kids seems even more miserable. "Android" was one of the first words that was uttered by my young cousin Sriram. He is five years old and easily beats me in a game of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. He knows to play every single game that I've downloaded for him on the phone. When my uncle and aunt see this, they feel proud that their young son is capable of using a mobile phone so well at such a young age. Well, I have other opinions.

The only pastime that the kids of today have is the television. Ben 10, Jackie Chan, among others, keep them engaged, while in the outside world, each and every corner of the city is being commercialised. I hardly see anyone carry a cricket bat or a football in their hand these days to play. I must be kidding. If there no playground, where would they be carrying the bat and ball to play?

I used to play so hard every day, that I used to come home hungry and tired. I never cared what was for lunch or dinner and all I knew is that I ate it completely and as fast as possible, so that I could get ready for the next session of play. These days, the kids demand the food that they like, and want the television to be switched on for them to eat their meal. The hot afternoon summer sun, cool wind blowing on the face in the evenings, star gazing with friends in the night - all this is something they will never experience. I had a lot of neighbours who spoke various languages like Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi. I learnt a bit of everything as a kid, and used to spend more time at my neighbours' than at my house. Well now, I hardly know who my neighbours are. The person who lives next door is Mr. Mali, an actor in many Tamil TV serials and movies. I saw him this morning and waved at him. The last time I saw him or any of my other neighbours was around two months back, I think.

About twelve years ago, the Shanti Colony road was adorned with lush green trees on both sides and there were hardly any shops on the road. I used to go cycling every morning and there were hardly any vehicles on the road. But now, it takes more than ten minutes to cross the road. Buses that must ply on the main roads have taken over this avenue road and individual houses are now being rebuilt into high rise apartments with shops on the ground floor.

While my neighbourhood is being encroached upon by luxury apartments, there are still people who want to go out and play. At Zoho, we have a couple of badminton courts and a dedicated play area for table tennis. When I joined here, we had a freshers meet with our CEO, Sridhar Vembu. We had a Q&A session with him, when someone asked, "Why are we building a facility at Tenkasi? And why are we planning to move some of our workforce there?". He smiled and replied, "If you suddenly want to go out to play cricket or any other sport, where would you go here?". And then, there was silence in the hall for about two minutes.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Regina Brett's 45 life lessons.

I was very impressed by this following article written by Regina Brett, for the Plain Dealer, a daily newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. She has won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. The article is as follows:

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 50 this week, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short - enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.

16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

I thought that the above article was something similar to what I had written in my previous blog post, so the timing of this article has been pretty well :)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The lesson of life.

Sometime over a year ago, I read a friend's post on Facebook about this thought that the four years that we spend at college itself is like a lifetime. Like we're born when we enter the college in our first year and die on our graduation. The post spoke about some sentimental aspects to the end of college days, such as losing friends and acquaintances, but I'm not going to get into all that. Ever since I have read that post, this thought that the college life being a lifetime in itself has stuck to me and has since then lurked in the back of my mind. True to that, staying at hostel is a different experience that added to the unforgettable memories of the college 'life'.

My high school English professor, Mr. Rajendran once said in class that the best way to know about a person's character is to put him in a room where he is alone and free to do anything and observe his behaviour in there. Well, it made no difference to me at the time he said that and I never quite understood whatever that meant. Now about six years later that I have finished my college, those words seem to make much more sense to me. These four years of college, I was away from home, living in a different world in which I was left alone, free to make choices to live life the way I wanted to.

College and hostel life gives you wings and freedom. You could fly high and reach heights or fall for petty baits that could trap you forever and make you a live a low life. I do know and made friends with people who used to smoke, drink or even did dope. I still attribute much of my jolly good times spending with such friends, but that said, I simply did not fall for what they might consider fantasy.

This lifetime of college defines certain boundaries that are intangible, but can only be felt from within. You well know when you fall prey to such petty habits and cross the limits set by yourself. Being in a group where your peers are into such habits does not imply that you need to follow suit. It isn't a matter of pride or show off that you too can do it, but it is a matter of pride that you never got into it, although being a part of such a peer group. 

These days, when I'm asked by someone if I smoke or drink, or if I'm offered a complimentary cigarette, I politely decline the offer. When being asked for the reason, I would simply say, "Thanks, but I quit smoking about a year ago". If I'm persuaded further by a close friend, I'd say "Life has been great without them. I feel there's no reason to even try them out". In the four years of my college, I simply wasted the first, but I'm convinced that I spent the rest three years working hard to hone my skills. Whilst some of my friends were busy watching TV series and movies, I used to work on something till the wee hours of morning. These three years I consider not as hard work, but as an investment. An investment whose benefits that I am starting to reap now, getting offers from companies and turning them down and choosing a workplace where I like to work.

I am a staunch believer of the saying that the years you spend at your college determine your career, character and your life on the whole. Well hey, I don't say that it's bad to get under such influence, but I'm just against to say that it should not change the course of your life. Sometimes, prevention is just better. Most of my friends say that they have tried their hand at smoking once, just for the feel it. I appreciate that you shouldn't leave any stones unturned. But then, make sure that the habit doesn't stick on to you. Whenever I see someone smoking beside me, I just tell myself "Look at this faggot. He just blew a day off his life". Please understand, that there's nothing cool or hip about it. 

My Chemistry Professor, Mr. Vallabhan in my 12th grade once told the class - "There are only two significant days in a man's life. The day when he was born, and the day when he shows why he was born". Although I didn't make it big in my academics, I'm convinced that I've made some considerable achievements in my love and passion for design and development of applications. I would also go as far as saying that I've made the best possible use of my college life than most of the others. I have a good network of friends, acquaintances and seniors who have guided and continue to guide me to what I want to become. My hard work and efforts at college and what I am so far can be found here.

Thus, as I would like to point out, these are some of the lessons that life teaches you. Learning from others' mistakes is better than learning them from your own. Always, the best way to mitigate or deal with a crisis is to avoid it in the first place.

Last week, at my office, a colleague of mine was walking past me and he suddenly stopped by for a moment. He took a glance at my laptop's screen and asked, "What is that you're chanting?"

"That's Shiva Thandava Stotram", I replied.

"Wow, you do this stuff daily? How did the guys spare a person like you at your college and hostel?", he asked.

"That's where I learnt it", I replied. Boy, you should have seen that proud look on my face after telling that!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Good cop, Bad cop.

A few days back, I was returning home from my cousin's place. I was waiting to take a right turn to Shanti Colony at the Thirumangalam signal in Anna Nagar. I saw that the Traffic police who stood there had caught hold of three youngsters who rode on one bike and without helmet. It took so long for the signal to clear that I saw the entire scene. The three guys importuned the policeman to set them free as they had all the necessary documents, but the cop had the key in his hand and blatantly refused to hand it over to them. The signal on the opposite side of the road cleared up, because of which I had to wait even longer. Now, a trio on a bike, just like the three on the other side of the road, sped past them, laughing and making fun of the guys and the policeman. The three guys were baffled and so was the cop. The guys pointed out at the ones who escaped and seemed to ask the cop how he could let them go. I would have really loved to see his reply, but the car behind me started honking, signalling that I had to proceed. I wondered if the cop had apprehended them, or simply let them go. I felt that either ways, the cop was doing something wrong. So what do you think about the job of a traffic police? Catching hold of only a few unfortunate victims and letting the others go? While that isn't much of a topic to think about, I would like to narrate a few of my experiences with some good and bad cops that I have met during my rides throughout the city.

Incident 1: It was sometime in 2011 when I read a newspaper article stating that many traffic signals including the ones at Guindy, Vadapalani, etc. had been fitted with CCTVs and the offenders were caught and fined even at 2 or 3am and the bill was sent directly sent to their homes over post. It was around the same time when my cousin Ganesh had left his Honda Activa at my place and I used to take it for a ride. Every time I used to cross those signals, I used to notice that the CCTVs were in place. Once, I was travelling to his place on his own scooter, I passed the Guindy signal with 2 seconds to spare on the green light but found myself stuck on the middle of the road as the traffic from the right had already started coming. I managed to make it through and was promptly stopped by a bellied cop. He asked me to alight and took away my key. I went after him and he questioned me "how much do you have in your wallet?". In turn, I asked him, "What's your name? Which station do you belong to?". There's this sudden adrenaline rush inside you when you know that you are completely right and the person in front of you is wrong. This feeling makes you go crazy, and did the same with me. The policeman was bewildered and said "You violate the rules, and you question me? How dare you? I can book you under four cases and you may even have to go to the jail for a year." I told him calmly, "I crossed the signal with two seconds to spare. The traffic started coming from the right while I still had time to go. Those guys violated the traffic and not I". He did not seem convinced, so I added, "Have you read the newspaper lately? I'm aware that there's a CCTV installed here" I said, pointing to the CCTV on top of the signal. "I wouldn't want to get into trouble by myself, so I'd better follow the rules. If you still want to book me for the offense, you can go on. I can simply get away by the recorded CCTV footage", I said. Now the cop was completely confused. He had no clue what to do with me. Till the end, he had no idea if I were telling the truth or lying, but he simply handed over the key to me and said "Sir, you should be careful while driving. Look at those guys jumping the signal. I mistook you for violation of the signal and I'm very sorry. All it takes is a second for a life to end. So we need to be very careful at traffic signals". I gave him a wicked smile and left.

Incident 2: When a good looking girl passes in front of you, you can't help but notice her. Policemen are no exception to this. There was this one time when I was riding my scooter to my workplace and I was stuck at the signal at MGR College in Poonamallee High Road. Two good looking girls were crossing the road when the traffic police there was checking them out. He was so keen on checking them out that many of the passers by noticed the cop looking at them. There was this guy on the other side of the road on a bike who saw the busy bird-watching policeman and grabbed this opportunity and jumped the signal. This cop saw both the girls go till the end of the road and then came to his senses. This cop must have some great sense of appreciating art and beauty, I thought.

Incident 3: On yet another uneventful day, I was halted by a cop at the Guindy signal again. This time, he didn't stop me for jumping the signal, nor for any other offense. He asked me to pull out my license, RC book and insurance for my vehicle. He asked me to come over and I went along with him to one corner of the road. We were joined by another cop who asked "What have we got here today?". The first cop said, "Nothing. He's clear. He has license and all his papers are perfect. But as we have stopped him, we do need to book him for something". I was awe-stuck. When the hell did these guys start doing this? I mean, book offense on people just for the fun of it? I waited to see what happened next. The second policeman took a stroll and went to his bike and returned with a dark colored, hexagonal box. My heart started racing. I thought he had a bomb or some home made explosives inside the box and was going to book me for that. He opened the box and to my surprise, it was full of chocolates. He asked me to go ahead take one and told me that it was his daughter's birthday, and he had been offering chocolates to everyone whom he met that day. He then advised me to drive slowly and safely. One heck of a good cop!

Incident 4: Some of the best moments of my life have been with my cousins Ganesh and Vandhana. It was in my 10th grade when Ganesh had finally started including me in his outings with his friends. Those were the days of transition from a kid to a teen as I had just started to observe Ganesh's lifestyle and how he enjoyed with his friends, the way every guy does. Vandhana was in her 9th grade and during this period, Ganesh, Vandhana and I used to ride triples on Ganesh's bike. During this particular incident, we three were going for a movie along with four of Ganesh's friends. It was somewhere in interior Vadapalani where we were driving when we passed a traffic police who noticed that we were riding triples. Just a few yards away, Ganesh and his friends pulled over as his friends wanted to take a puff. The policeman having seen it all, came over to us, joined by some more constables (if that's what you call junior traffic policemen). Vandhana and I were on one side of the road, while Ganesh and his friends were on the other side. Once Ganesh saw the police coming, he crossed the road and came over to us. He told me, "Look, if the cop asks you anything, tell him that you are in your 6th grade". He turned towards Vandhana and said, "And you are in 5th grade. Don't talk anything else, I'll do all the talking" and he went back to the other side of the road. The policemen stopped and inquired them. As the road was bustling with traffic, we couldn't hear a thing that was going on with them. We simply stood and kept watching them beg the policemen when the senior officer told something to Ganesh and he came over and took us to them. The policeman asked us, "Do these guys smoke in front of you regularly?". We nodded or head from side to side signalling that it was the first time we had seen them smoke. He said "If you see these guys smoking in front of you ever again, make sure you break their hands". We nodded in unison and the cop asked Ganesh to leave us on the other side of the road and get back. He gave them his advice for about forty minutes about not to smoke in front of us, but didn't utter a word about riding triples on the bike. Well, we didn't miss the movie in spite of the forty minute discourse. Ganesh and I still continue to recollect this incident very often. Since when did the job description of traffic cops include ban on smoking in public?

Incident 5: In another incident, I was riding my new Access 125 from my house to Vandhana's. I missed a left turn on the GST road near Tambaram and had to take a U turn to reach there. I was now waiting at the signal on the other side of the road, waiting to take a right turn. As soon as I saw the signal turn green, I accelerated the vehicle and scooted ahead. Only at the last second, I saw a bus approached from behind me from the left and I applied the brakes and my vehicle came to a standstill. The bus missed me just by a few inches and it stopped. I saw that he had jumped the signal from the left side from where I had earlier stood. Suddenly, a huge crowd gathered and blocked the bus from leaving the place. A traffic police came rushing and asked the driver to park the vehicle at the corner. He then caught the driver by his collar and dragged him out from the bus. He told me that there was no mistake of mine and he clearly saw the driver jump the signal. People among the crowd asked me to leave the scene and I did just that. When I was leaving, I saw that the driver was being pushed inside a Mahindra Bolero that belonged to the Chennai Traffic Police. The traffic police department indeed does its work, I thought.

Incident 6: In yet another encounter, I had taken my cousin's Activa to Hotel Kohinoor Asiana on the OMR. Gokul, a junior of mine at college had come along and was riding pillion. On our way back, I took a wrong turn from the OMR and reached a toll booth. I knew that we had lost our way and took a U Turn from there. A police highway patrol jeep parked on the other side of the road was watching us. After taking the turn, we were just about to pass by the jeep as two policemen walked out and stopped us. I was asked to produce the necessary documents and I hoped that my cousin had kept all the necessary documents in the vehicle itself. I showed whatever documents that were inside to the cop and he told me that the insurance had expired two years ago. I was shocked, and I called up my cousin and he told me that he always had a copy of it in his wallet so he hadn't kept it in the vehicle. I had a situation now and couldn't get away. I got the cop to talk to my cousin, but that didn't help. He told that he would inform someone at workplace and come over to resolve this. Meanwhile, the cop had a little chat with me. He asked my name and where I was studying. He asked my dad's name and occupation. I told him his name and I also told that he was working for the central government. The cop was interested and asked me "Which department does he work for? What is his post?". I replied, "He works for Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. It's like a court for income tax issues. He's the Senior Secretary there". The cop handed me the key and told "I know you won't break the rules. But next time you drive someone else's vehicle, make sure the documents are in place". I nodded my head and we left the place. On the way back, Gokul asked "Anna, does your dad really work in Income Tax?". I said "Yes da, I guess the post that I mentioned really exists in the department after all!".

Nevertheless, policemen, especially from the traffic department tend to be very helpful. I have heard many say that if you want to know directions to a certain place, ask the auto-walas. I do that, but I also don't hesitate to ask the traffic cops. Surprisingly, they direct you very well and explain the route quite patiently. You too should try asking them for routes some day.

P.S.: You might be thinking what makes me write a post on the city's traffic police. I did an internship at the National Informatics Centre, Govt. of India last year, and my intern was an R&D project for the Chennai Traffic Police to develop a mobile application to book traffic offenses on the spot. I had to study some sections of the Indian Penal Code that involved traffic offenses. Since then, I've thought a bit about these poor fellas who stand there all day under the hot sun just to make sure that we reach our destination safely. Some are good, and some may be bad, but believe me or not, they are really kind. You just have to talk your way out to get away from them!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

My perspective on Tamil Cinema

About two months ago, I watched two Tamil movies - David and Kadal in two consecutive days. Most of the content in this post was written on the subsequent day after watching the movies, but I just got the time to complete this post and publish it. Honestly, In the past six months, I have watched more movies (about 70) than I have watched in the past six years. Before I begin, I would like to tell you a few words about myself, something close to a disclaimer:

  1. I am not a fan of any actor or director in the Tamil cinema industry. 
  2. I watch movies on an 'as-is' basis, making no assumptions of my own. 
  3. The actors or their looks doesn't matter to me at all.
  4. History doesn't matter. How good or bad their acting has been in their previous movies is literally of no concern to me. Only the one in currently in question counts.
  5. I look for 'acting' and not 'performance', there is a subtle difference between the two.
  6. I am no one to judge a movie, neither do I understand the art of film making, nor do I have any experience in directing/acting even in a short film. But I guess you wouldn't disagree with most of my views.

There are certain things that I expect from the movie I watch. My rating for a movie is based on a number of factors. I try to completely indulge into the movie for the ~150 mins that I spend at the cinema hall. Throughout this post, I will be giving examples of some of the movies that I have felt to be exceptionally good or bad to help you get a better idea. Here are some of the core aspects that I look for in a movie:

  • Justification: Why did the director decide to make this movie?
  • Intent: What is the movie trying to tell me? Is it a complete entertainer, or a movie with a message?
  • Genre: I would like to classify the movie to a particular genre, but combining two genres would be perfect too. Hollywood movies do this in a wonderful way. Directors of Tamil cinema have this practice of combining all possible genres into a movie - they call this one a 'Masala' movie.
  • Immersion: How far does the movie indulge me into itself? (A perfect example of this was the Edhir Neechal [1968] movie. Nagesh's performance was so brilliant that he completely became one with the character that he played).

Every movie is known better with the actor who plays the main protagonist, than being known by the director who actually made the film. So I guess it would be fair to start with the protagonist (always male in Tamil cinema). So here's what I expect from the lead male character(s):

1. Please do not show any superhuman stunts unless you are making a superhero movie.
2. A lead male character doesn't always need to be a protagonist. The audience have grown out of the 'Truth alone triumphs' concept and are looking for something different. This was wonderfully shown in Mankatha by Ajith and Arjun.
3. I look for the acting, and not the hero/villain stuff. Switching sides once every few movies can be really cool (I would really like to see Vijay or Ajith with all their 'Gethu' in a negative role).
4. Opening song or an opening fight sequence totally sucks.
5. Don't carry over the same attitude or 'Gethu' in every movie.
6. Different costumes/roles/characters would be great. Kamal Haasan is known for it, Vikram has done it in Deiva Thirumagal, Sethu, Anniyan, Pithamagan, etc. and Ajith has done it too in Villain, Red and Citizen.
7. I would love to see the hero being portrayed something other than a jobless person, mechanic, or a college student. Jeeva did well as a Journalist in Ko, Kamal as a scientist in Dasavatharam, Madhavan as an author in Kannathil Muthamittal, Samudrakani as a school teacher in Saatai were very realistic.

Now for the lead female character(s):

1. Having a character a movie doesn't actually mean that she has got a character. Almost all tamil movies portray the heroine having a dumb personality. Jyothika's character, for example, was really well sketched in Mozhi.
2. If there is no reason to have the lead female in a movie, remove the character. I still don't understand the purpose of Kajal Agarwal's character in Thupakki. Her presence only made things worse.
3. Let her make an impact: If there's a female character, use her well. Make sure that she too has a say in the plot and the way things turn out in the movie.
4. Women aren't stupid: Vidya Balan played a brilliant role in Kahaani. Show women as highly intelligent creatures, as much as you show the hero to be.
5. Treat them equally: There haven't been a lot of movies made give as much emphasis to the heroine than to the hero. I liked Poda Podi just because the heroine was given equal priority.
6. Truth hurts: A heroine doesn't always need to be a rich girl with fair complexion. Anushka was shown as a prostitute in Vaanam and I thought she did really bring out the emotions of the character she played. It is worth a mention here that Sangeetha did a wonderful role in Pithamagan.
7. Enough 'Item' roles: Close shots, partial nudity or exposing their body should not be done to show the heroine as an 'Item'. It would make more sense if their role is so compelling to show them that way (like Vaanam).

Some suggestions that could be adopted in the future:

1. 1 Hero + 1 or more Heroines + 1 comedian + 1 or more villains = FAIL. There has been infinite permutations and combinations of this concept since the dawn of cinema and it simply doesn't appeal anymore.
2. Multi-starers are the way to go - Bollywood has realized this and almost all of the upcoming movies have 2 or more male actors teaming up. I would love to see a similar shift in Tamil cinema too.
3. A supernatural movie wouldn't be bad, given that it falls into proper places of justification, intent and genre (as mentioned above) with the appropriate cast and exceptionally great screenplay.
4. One thing at a time - This again reflects on the genre, but cramming too many genres into a movie often makes it look messy. One such example is Varanam Ayiram - I didn't know what to look for in the movie - was it the emotion between the son and dad? The love story? The action sequence at Kashmir? Or the emotional breakdown after Sameera Reddy's death? Well, give me a break!
5. A good story line is not actually necessary - While it is hard to come up with a totally fresh or different movie, a repetitive story with a minor twist might just be able to pull it off. But the screenplay makes all the difference. We saw this in Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya - it was the same old love story but brilliant, although being heavily criticized for Trisha's character in the movie.
6. Punch dialogues aren't so cool - While they worked out in the 90's while Rajinikanth was still young, punch dialogues delivered by the actors today can often be related with Captain Vijaykanth's.
7. A good fight sequence doesn't mean people or objects (like cars) flying around. I wonder how a normal actor becomes a superhero during the fight sequences. The audience of this generation isn't so stupid to believe it. Watching the trailer of Alex Pandian fed me with enough bullshit, that it made me decide against watching the movie at the cinemas.
8. Whoever invented the 'Dishum' sound for a punch? Every time I hear that, I get an itchy feeling. A fight sequence can be much better without the sound effects.
9. Inclusion of songs - This is perhaps the single most thing that frustrates me while watching a movie. I wonder if the songs could be included as a background score, and keep the story ticking along with the songs. This was wonderfully done in Slumdog Millionare by Danny Boyle and it went horribly wrong in Kadal, which isn't even worth mentioning here.
10. Know when the time is right: I wouldn't like to watch a movie that drags, but we've seen in movies like Nadodigal that even movies with long running times can be good too. Yet, I feel most of the movies have a lot of fillers that could be eliminated.
11. Movies completely made with graphics/animation is still a distant dream in the Tamil film industry, while Roadside Romeo was a brave attempt in Hindi, but failed unfortunately. Naan E (dubbed), on the other hand, really did well.
12. It is okay to kill the protagonist. There have been several movies that have shown this, like Vaanam, Bheema, etc. and I think it just conveys that not all stories have a happy ending.
13. Even the most prominent actors should consider doing small roles too. In Hollywood, actors like Bruce Willis, Kevin Spacey, Samuel L. Jackson, etc. have acted for very short roles (<5 minutes). I wonder how great it would be to have actors like Kamal Haasan Rajinikanth, Vijay or Ajith in small guest roles like Simbu plays in Kanna Laddu Thinna Asaya or in Goa.
14. Tragedy can be good: Movies with a feel good nature alone just aren't the thing for today. 

What about some good movies that go unnoticed just because the actor isn't a prominent one? I would like to compile a list of some good movies by actors that are considered not-so-great:
  • Newtonin Moonram Vidhi (SJ Surya) - This movie was gripping, till the end. The vengeance was well served and the acting was really worth a watch. Sadly, no many know that this movie was even made.
  • Ramana (Vijaykanth) - Well who do we have here? Our very own captain! This movie was a good watch, without much of the usual elements that we see in Captain's movie. The best thing was his death (no kidding), which I never expected Captain to do so in any of his movies. Brave attempt indeed. The story too was for the first time, a bit believable, and good too!

There might be many other movies that I might have missed here and I'll add them once it knocks my empty head. 

I have a list of some of the different movies that Tamil film industry has come up with, than the usual ones. They may have been re made from other movies, but hey, it was a brave effort in all. Some of the movies that fit in this category are: Ghajini, Anniyan, Pithamagan, Deiva Thirumagal, Dasavatharam, Saatai, Mozhi, Abiyum Naanum, Unnai Pol Oruvan, Kannathil Muthamittal, Angadi Theru, Chennai 600028.

Here are some themes that can be made into serious, highly appealing movies:

  • Natural Calamities 
  • Disabilities
  • Social Issues
  • Terrorism
  • Historical stories/epics
  • Religion
  • War
  • Terrorism
  • Corruption

If you have read the post this far, please do take a few moments to comment below. I am not an avid watcher of movies, so I might have missed a lot content that could have been written here. You could help me expand this post to make it better :)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Memoirs of a train journey

As all good things come to an end, the time had finally come to say goodbye to Zoho Corp. Three months of work, learning and fun had come to an end. I said bye to all my friends there, who in due course of time became like my family. I had to make a journey back to my college, and I had to book a ticket for the same. I had a plan of going via a day train and for the first time, I did not prefer an overnight journey. I wanted to experience the journey in a train and look out from the window all along. Thus, I booked a ticket in the second seater coach of Guruvayur Express, for the 3rd of March 2013.

It has been quite a while that I haven't woken up early in the morning. I woke up with a start at 5 a.m. on the day of my journey and boarded the train at 7.30 a.m. I had booked a window seat just for the heck of it. The seating was cramped and numbering of the seats suggested that three people were supposed to be accommodated on the seat that could hold just about two. I decided to manage, put on my headphones and started listening to the song 'You'll be in my heart' by Phil Collins. It was a pleasant day, I couldn't complain about the weather. It wasn't too hot and there was a mild drizzle, just perfect for a train journey. I didn't pay much attention towards the people around me, and just kept to myself. The train zoomed past all the local train stations. The real fun began when the train approached Chengalpattu.

The tracks are laid just alongside the Chengalpattu lake, which makes for a beautiful scene to behold. I was staring in amazement at the vast lake, with the cool breeze blowing on my face. As it had rained in the past few days, the lake was full of water. I looked around and saw that all the other passengers too were admiring the scenery. I quickly pulled out my phone from my pocket as I badly wanted to click a photo of the lake. As I started early from home, I had skipped my breakfast and was starving. I bought ildis from the IRCTC pantry staff as I am a big fan of eating stuff that are sold from the Indian Railways pantry and have tasted almost everything they serve.

A view of the Kolavai lake at Chengalpattu

It has been about thirteen years since I have traveled in a train during the day time. All my train journeys since then have been overnight and all I had done was to sleep throughout the journey. In the first ten years of my life, I have made numerous journeys from New Delhi to Chennai and vice versa. The duration of the journey was for about 36-40 hours and I initially used to insist my parents for journey in an air conditioned coach. But as I grew up, I craved for every chance to go on a second class compartment for I started loving the journey very much. I don't remember much about the early days, but there was this specific journey when the co-passengers included a Kashmiri family of three - a dad, mom and daughter. I guess I was about eight years old at that time and I was with my mom and dad as well. I remember the girl to be about two or three years elder to me and in course of time, my parents started talking to hers and got acquainted. I had a pack of playing cards with me I started playing it with the girl. It was evening and the guys from the pantry brought bread omelets to sell. The Kashmiris bought the bread omelets and while they were eating it, the girl's dad offered me some. I had always wanted to eat a bread omelet  as I had heard from my school friends that it tasted great but had never seen or tasted one myself. That wast the first time that I saw a bread omelet and I badly wanted to eat it. I accepted his offer, but my parents declined and scolded me, telling that I wasn't supposed to eat such things. Before the end of that journey, my parents and the girl's parents exchanged their contacts, only to be never seen or contacted ever again.

As there are many rivers that the train passes over during the course of the journey along the 2000 odd kilometers, I used to look for the sign boards of every river and try to remember the order in which we passed through them. Every time we would pass over a river, my mother used to give me a rupee or two and asked me to drop it into the water. I had never questioned her for the reason why we need to follow this routine, and I would simply drop the coin into the river. It was one of our final journeys from New Delhi to Chennai when my mom gave me a coin and asked me to drop it. I asked her for the reason why we did this every time. She replied, "See, you drop this coin into the river and somewhere someone who is really in need of money finds it. That person will thank God for giving him the money and God will reward you for that."

Snapping back to reality, the train was now passing over a river that was completely dry. People had even built homes made of hay at the areas where the water was supposed to flow. There were to kids playing on the soft sand and they were two little girls looking up at the train and were waving their hands at it. In return, I stretched my hand out from the compartment and waved back at them. One of the girls noticed it and called the other, and showed her that someone was waving back at them. They seemed to be very happy to see that. It was about noon and a person from the pantry was selling 'Sappadu' and Biriyani for lunch, which many of the folks around me bought and ate. The train passed over another river, and this time I read the sign board that said 'Cauvery River'. I knew that we were nearing the destination and the journey was about to end. I saw outside the window and found that this river wasn't dry and there was a stream of water running in it. I took a quick glace around and saw that the people were either sleeping or busy eating their lunch. I quietly took out my wallet from my bag and pulled out a five rupee coin and secretly dropped it into the river. That simply made my day.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bargains and barring the gains

I've been taking things very lightly these days, and all my recent posts have had a tinge of humor in them. Well, today I thought I would write something on a serious note, about an 'issue' that no one seems to care about. Perhaps, I would like to take this opportunity to vent out my feelings towards all the middle class and upper middle class people who ask for a 'better price'. This is one aspect that no one thinks about while purchasing products from a local store, especially products that do not contain an MRP. The ones who go to markets (especially women) are the ones who should be blamed for their reckless attitude towards the shopkeepers or the mongers (they may not always have a store made of brick and mortar you know, some still have a makeshift 'shop' on the roadside). I am quite sure that you don't get the message yet, so read on as I describe my experiences to convey you what I wanted to.

I had been to the Koyambedu vegetable market last month with my mom. If you don't know about this place, let me tell you. It is a wholesale vegetable market with a lot of vendors that has dead cheap prices (lesser than a quarter of the price at your nearby convenience store). As it was my granddad's annual death ceremony on the next day, we expected about 25 people to attend it at my house and we had to buy a lot of vegetables to cook lunch for everyone. So we thought that Koyambedu, being about 10 minutes away from home would be the best place to get the vegetables. My mom was doing all the purchase, I was just carrying the bags from one shop to another. It was as though all the vendors had an agreement among themselves in the market, that no one sold more than 2 kinds of vegetables. So we had to hunt to get all the vegetables we needed and my job was to just carry the bags and look around what everyone else was buying. 

I saw a lady purchasing tomatoes at a shop. I wasn't interested in the lady, neither at the shop, nor at the conversation that she was having with the vendor. But sometimes, even if you don't wish to overhear, you do hear some unnecessary things. This was one such conversation when the lady asked the price for a kilo of tomato. The vendor replied "Pannendu ruba ma" (Twelve rupees, ma'am). The lady asked "Enna pa, pathu ruba illaya?" (Can't I have it for ten rupees?). Now, this got me on my nerves. See, a kilo of tomatoes at the grocery store near my house - Ooty Vegetables or at Kovai Pazhamudhir costs 38-40 bucks, and this poor chap offers the same quality for just twelve rupees a kilo. You wouldn't dare to bargain at the high class store just because they sell you 'branded' tomatoes with an MRP, but you easily exploit individual vendors like these.

A friend once told me that he used to go to the Hot Chips restaurant very frequently and he befriended a waiter there. The waiter had told him that all the salary that he received from the restaurant management was barely enough to pay the expenses for lodging and all his other expenses could be met only with the tips that the customers left him. In yet another incident, at waiter at the Adyar Anandha Bhavan who remembered me even after a hiatus of 3 years (I used to be a big fan of the Chaats at the AAB back when I was at school). During the third year of my college, I went there once and to my surprise, the waiter asked me "Eppadi irukkinga thambi?". I didn't know how to react and smiled at him and asked him "Neenga epadi irukkinga?". He asked me where I was studying now and I told him. He then told me "You are from a well to do family. Look how much your life has changed. But look at mine, all that has changed is my salary, which has gone up by Rs. 2000 in the past 3 years, that's all". I was confused. I didn't know if I should continue eating the food or not. He continued "Had I been from a financially sound family, I would have studied well and become an engineer". He looked around and after a gap he added, "But why am I bothering you with all this? I must do my work here. You study well". I looked at him and tried hard to smile, but I couldn't. He then walked away and served one or two more customers. My pace of eating had slowed down as I tried to contemplate his feelings. In no time, he was back to my table and asked me, "How much do you pay for your fees every year? My son is studying in 10th standard and I want him to become an engineer". I told him that the total cost including hostel, mess and travel charges would come close to Rs. 1.2 lakhs per year. He was shocked and told me that he expected it to be around Rs. 70000 only. He didn't utter a word after that, even after I paid the bill and left. I guessed that he was trying to do the math, to figure out how to get enough money to fund his son's education. I wondered how such a huge financial gap exists between people like us who lead a luxurious life and those who find hard to meet their ends.

The thing that I hate the most among our people is that, although they bargain and try to save their money, they do not appreciate good work from a person and do not reward them. To contrast this, the best example would be that of the people from western countries. They reward people who work hard and reward them well. A friend of mine once told that a person gave 110 Dirhams (about Rs. 1500) as tips in a hotel to a staff just because he had cleaned up the room very well before his arrival. I have never heard anyone say "Keep the change" in India, except in movies. Why do we have this selective discrimination in our country that separates the haves from the have-nots, not only financially, but also in their attitude towards other human beings? I know that the auto drives charge exponentially in Chennai, but hey, they do not earn as much as your parents do but they want their kids to grow up like us as well. We shell out a lot of money every day in a variety of useless stuff. Yet, we are reluctant to just give it away to the needy (I don't mean beggars, I'm strictly against giving them alms). If you encourage someone for the good work they do and pay them more than what they expect, it will certainly delight them and make them work harder to achieve more. Ten or twenty rupees may be of hardly any worth to you, but the cheer it brings to the needy is unexplainable. What's more, it gives the satisfaction of having improved a person's life in a small way. That feeling is indeed priceless.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Ouch, that hurt!

Yesterday, my Uncle's son, the five year old cousin who lives downstairs was showing me his wounded knee and was giving me a detailed description about how he fell down and hurt his knee. It was really adorable to look at the kid describing the incident very seriously to me. His eight year old sister was beside us, who was watching all along, patiently listening to her brother giving me a detailed account about the incident. She was waiting to take her turn, to explain about all the times that she had fallen down and hurt herself. Once he was done, she took over and started telling me about how she had once hurt her elbow while playing. At this time, my aunt entered the room and sat beside us. She was telling the kids "Look how strong Gautam is. He is very much elder to you. Think about how many times he might have hurt himself throughout his childhood. You need to eat well to grow up and become strong like him". By that last sentence, I wasn't sure if she was really telling that I am strong, or commenting that I was fat. Anyways, to add to her advice, I told the kids that I had got hurt a lot of times while I was a kid. The kids started asking me to narrate about all those incidents. So this is what I told them:

Incident 1: This happened outside my school, St. George's School, New Delhi, when I was probably in my 2nd or 3rd grade. There were many kids used to go the same school from the neighborhood, so we used to go to the school in an auto rickshaw. The auto driver used to collect the fare on a monthly basis, so he became our 'official' auto-wala. He couldn't carry many kids in an auto rickshaw, also there was a high demand for transport. He upgraded to a Maruti Omni and we now started commuting by the Omni car, but we still called him auto-wala. This upgrade from auto to Omni to a pitch battle being fought the kids in a competition for the window seats. One such 'battle' was fought between me and a guy named Kushagar who was much bigger in size as compared to me. It was a fine evening while the driver had gone inside the school campus to bring some kids to the car, Kushagar and I had begun a quarrel for the window seat in the meantime. Things soon got dirty and we took it to the next level. It soon became a mini street brawl on the footpath and in due course, he pushed me and I fell on the ground, and there were many pieces of broken tube light. My elbow took the maximum impact, perhaps the only impact, but it was very severe. The glass pieces pierced at several places in and around my right hand elbow and I had to pluck them out one by one. I became really furious and the guy became scared, just beginning to realize what he had actually done to me. All of a sudden, as if there was some superpower that got into me, I walked up to the guy and punched him on the stomach. He succumbed to the blow and bent down and I kicked him in the back. Just as he was about to fall, I caught his neck and dragged his forehead through the broken pieces of tube light. Right after this, the auto-wala came running and took out some cotton from the first-aid box and gave it to each of us. In all, it looked like a typical Tamil masala movie, where the police come just after the hero kills the villain. The auto-wala asked us to get inside the car and I was the first to get in. I had made a mistake by volunteering to get in first, as Kushagar got to sit beside the window. I was still angry at him. Neither of our parents went to each other's house to complain or fight, nor filed a complaint with the school, as they knew that there was fault on both the sides. The wound took nearly four months to heal. While my wound was hidden under my shirt, Kushagar looked like he was wearing a bandana for a month!

Incident 2: A friend is supposed to pull you up during hard times, but this is incident is an example of how that could go horribly wrong. This happened at New Delhi again, in my apartments. Those were the times of severe water scarcity in Delhi and my area was one of the most affected. Water was supplied only during specific timings and everyone needed to make sure that their individual overhead tanks were filled and used the water judiciously. There was this man who lived on the ground floor who used to steal water from everyone's tanks using a pipe and fill it onto his own. I know it sounds kinda crazy, but when there's scarcity of such essential commodities, shit happens. So one fine afternoon, my friend Rahul and I were sent to the terrace by our parents to check out if there was sufficient water in our respective tanks. The tank was supported on a cement slab, and as the cement had worn out over the years, the iron rods inside it projected outside the slab. Back then, I wasn't tall enough to climb the slab. I carefully placed my left knee up and I realized that the other knee was just touching one of the projecting iron rods. I tried to grab one end of the tank to climb, when Rahul had already climbed up. He thought that I stretched out my hand to ask for his help and he caught my hand and pulled me upwards, towards himself. The iron rod that was touching my right knee pierced the skin and as he had pulled me upwards, it horizontally tore about 3 inches of my skin. The impact was so severe that my knee was bleeding uncontrollably till we reached the hospital. My parents tried several tricks to arrest the bleeding, but it was to no avail. I cried in pain, but the doctor didn't seem to care and started stitching my skin together. I was told that the stitch and the scar would heal in a few months, but it's been well over thirteen years and the scar still stays.

Incident 3: I learnt a lesson very early in my life, that one should never trust girls, whatsoever. A girl of about my own age (whom I don't even remember now) and I were playing on the terrace of my apartments. I was about eight years of age then. She stood in front of me and we held each others' hands in a crisscross way. I held her left hand with my right and vice versa. Both of us started spinning round and round, initially slowly and then very fast. I really don't remember what happened or why she did it, she simply left my hand. At such a fast pace I almost flew for a meter or two and fell down with my forehead directly hitting the ground and I felt as though someone ripped apart my forehead. The pain was unbearable and I was bleeding. This time, I got my forehead stitched. Scar stays, you can still see it on my forehead. I sometimes wish the scar could have been more like that of Harry Potter's.

Incident 4: A brother in need is a brother indeed. My cousin Ganesh and I were playing in his house at Delhi. His apartments had this really long fight of stairs that it had about 50 steps at a stretch. Ganesh was standing at the bottom and I was probably on the 25th stair.  We were playing with a crazy ball (I hope you know what a crazy ball is). He threw the ball at me and it landed two steps below the one I was standing on. I bent down, trying hard to catch the ball, but instead lost my balance and fell down. I rolled down about twenty steps and Ganesh caught me at the last step. As the stairs directly opened to the road, had Ganesh not caught me, some vehicle would have definitely run me over. My right temple (on the forehead) was bleeding and a timely first aid made sure that I was alright within a week. 

Incident 5: This incident happened when I was probably in my 2nd grade in New Delhi. As both my parents went for work, I was sent to a creche where I stayed till late evening, under the care of a lady whom everyone used to address as 'Aunty'. This aunty used to pick me up from the bus stop and take me to the creche. On one fine day, I was returning from the school in my school bus and got up and started walking toward the exit door of the bus when a motorist in a two-wheeler overtook the bus in an unexpected manner. He driver thought that he might knock down the motorist and suddenly applied the brakes. I spun around and fell down and the back of my head hit the floor of the bus. What I did not notice was that there was a nail that was protruding out from the floor of the bus. When I fell, it pierced my head, about 1cm exactly at the bald spot I gathered myself and got up, while the bus conductor helped me get off the bus. The creche aunty was already present there as usual and we walked along to the creche. I was wearing my school bag on my shoulders and she took it from me to carry it. She then gently placed her hand on my back to walk me along but she immediately withdrew her as she felt something wet on my back. To her horror, she saw that her had was full of blood. She then spun me around and saw that the back side of my shirt was fully drenched in blood and it was almost till my hip. You can predict what happened afterwards - I was rushed to the hospital and got stitches on my head. One strange thing here was that I never felt that I had been hurt in my head. The piercing of the nail made my head (or at least the wounded region) go numb. My mom was called up and she came rushing to the hospital. The nurse complained to my mom - "What is it with your son? He was whistling tunes of some Bollywood film songs while we were stitching his head up".

You really should have seen the look on the face of my uncle's kids after I finished narrating the story. They seemed completely baffled and speechless. They were so immersed into it while I was narrating, that I wasn't interrupted even once!