Friday, 13 December 2013

Tell YOUR God, I Forgive Him

2009 is better known as the year Swine Flu first made an appearance on the global scene, or the year when the world lost its first ever Pop Icon - Micheal Jackson or the year an African-American man took office in what was previously the most conservative quasi-democracy. However in the capital of the world's biggest democracy, a small group of young men and women were rejoicing a Delhi High Court ruling.

The Delhi High Court ruled, that a 19th-century provision in the nation's penal code, that effectively banned gay sex, shouldn't apply to consensual acts. In effect it gave the green light to gay couples in capital by decriminalizing gay sex. LGBT supporters (myself included) the world over rejoiced as the movement for Gay Rights saw its first high in India.

On Wednesday all this changed. India - the world's biggest democracy - suffered a 150 year old setback. The supreme court of India, the apex judicial body, overturned the ruling, and as I sat here a heterosexual person whose life isn't all that affected directly I thought, does it even really matter?  What can I, one little person, the proverbial David against this big bad Goliath, do? Take to the streets and protest? Scream bloody murder to everyone I meet till I reach out to everyone I know? Write a blogpost? How would any of this REALLY make any difference?

I've already written a post before this expressing my stand on the matter. So should I dedicate a few tweets, maybe a Facebook status to the matter and forget about it? No. The day I stop speaking up against injustice is the day I condone it. The day I stop caring about the love, life and dignity of others is the day I stop being a human.

I read somewhere: 'Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one' whether I chose to lie with a woman or a man, let it be MY choice. Whether I chose to make my body the citadel of life or not, let it be MY choice. Let me show you the blueprint from which we were made, you and me both, so that you can realize we are all the same.

They say heavens gates were built to keep me out
That God's word
forces secrets into my back pockets
Leviticus 18:22 and men I cannot call my lovers
For it would mean that I am unholy

Demonized
Heretic
That I'll end up in October crucifixion 
A rusted fence of sin
They say that God can soundproof his ears to fags
that he never meant to create 
They say that God has abandoned me

Tell your God that I mention him in my prayers
tell him I miss him 
that I know its not his fault
It's just that he hung out with people like you for far too long
Tell him I carry the faith of a Gospel choir inside my chest
Tell him I haven't turned my prayers into chalk lines
Tell YOUR God, that he is MY God too
That I want him back

Tell him to show you my Blueprint
How he created us both
Tell him to remind you
That I am beautiful too
Tell him I've read the bible
I know of love
It is diverse, thousands of flowers
I've seen it in the shape of an orchid blooming inside my chest
Until the day it way ready to come out

Tell your God he did something Right
I grew up to be a lover
Tell your God
I've seen him officiate more weddings than funerals
Tell him we are all imperfect
And thank him for it
Tell him he's a great father
Even in absence
That his children feel safe in his arms
That the Sun rises for him
Her
You
Us
That I can feel his warmth on my back
Tell him
I don't believe the Rumors

Tell YOUR God
I Forgive Him.

Credit: BNV 2013 - Denver

Source: Google Images


Friday, 27 September 2013

10 Reasons I Can't Get Married

If you are an Indian girl of marriageable age (anywhere between 18 to 30 - because of course after 30 only an ogre would marry you) you will understand the purpose of this post. I love my family (at most times) and despite their most decidedly all-up-in-my-business-attitude I've learned to overlook the annoying and embrace the awesome (because in their own way, each one of them is, without fail, awesome!).

Having said that, this post is my polite way of conveying to all of them, that I am currently NOT ready to give up all earthly desires and live a life of constant misery and oppression just yet. And don't worry, if don't heed the polite, remember I have a flair for the dramatic, I'm the family drama queen and black sheep all rolled into one!

But that doesn't take away from the parents, they are after all a few steps ahead. The result of this is, that in my family 'no' is Parent Patented. What do I mean by that? Follow the conversation below:

Me: Mum can I go out for a party at my friends.
Mum: No
Me: Mum can I go out for dinner with some friends from DPS?
Mum: No
Me: Mum can I...
Mum: No
Mum: are you ready to meet boys (because let's be real at 24 there aren't too many men around) to get married?
Me: ummm.. ahh.. the thing is... no.
Mum: Alright then be ready to go to the Gurudwara tomorrow to see a prospective groom.
Me: O_O (all bug eyed)

Having now ranted sufficiently enough. Welcome to my list of "10 Reasons I Can't Get Married". Please feel free to use any or all of these reasons on your own parents should they suit the circumstances, or if you need an excuse to get your parents to kick you out.

Number 1: I'm 24. If you don't get what I mean, read that again, I'M ONLY TWENTY-BLOODY-FOUR!!!! I am not nearly standing on the doors of Spinsterhood yet. Just because I love dogs, that does not mean, I'm going to end up happy and alone with 50 dogs, simply because I don't think I'm quite as lucky. So give me a couple of years, or a couple of couple of years, hell just give me a decade, and I promise I'll either find someone or get you to find me someone.

Number 2: I know you think the only thing I have going for me in life is that I'm young enough for someone to want to marry me, because of course my run of the mill mouth and scintillating good looks may have me on your hands from AD to ADD, but I have news for you, the gazillion of Rupees that you have been saving since the doctor said "Congrats it's ANOTHER Girl!" I'm sure will be enough to bribe some poor lost soul into spending his life with me. So there problem solved! People are bribable at all ages, and I promise next to the money nobody will care if I'm 24 or 42.

Number 3: I'm not mature enough to club the inner bitch from opening her mouth and saying something grossly inappropriate, just yet. So basically I will be a mother-in-laws worst nightmare, and I really won't wish someone with verbal diarrhea (Copyright PVN) on any poor mum-in-law.

Number 4: I'm still young enough to at the least kid myself into believing I can find a husband myself (although buying a new Toothbrush gives me nightmares-have you seen the variety out there??). The problem is my belief is like a little kids belief in Santa Claus, if you take it away too soon, you risk scarring me for life. So let's make a pact let me keep my belief and I'll forget all about that time in 4th grade, when you  made me spend an entire night in school for Christmas! (I don't care that it was a sleepover or that I begged you. I'm a communications person, and I'll spin it so hard, people will think you are worse than those parents from Criminal Minds who burnt their kids alive!)

Number 5: I am one of those very very VERY few Indian girls who doesn't know a spoon from a ladle and my culinary skills do not extend beyond making Maggi and Chai. Like if the fate of the world depended on my cooking skills, we'd all be being eaten by pigs right now. So if you can find a man who can live on Maggi and Chai, bring it on. Till death do us part indeed!

Number 6: I remember when the last Harry Potter Book came out, I spend 3 days and nights reading. I didn't sleep (yup me and my trusty flashlight came so close), I did not eat (which if you know me if a really big deal, I'm the kind of person whose eulogy will say "She spoke really fast and she loved Food"), I did not pay any attention in class, and I did absolutely nothing else. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Find me a man who is ok with me turning into a Zombie every time I open a new book and I'll consider it.

Number 7: I'm not prepared to accept defeat, no matter how much anybody denies it. Howard Roark is NOT just a fictional character, and I will not rest until I find him! Then I'll marry him, and we can be miserable together. P.S. if you don't know who Howard Roark is, I have six words for you, "I don't believe you! The Fountainhead".

Number 8: What if I marry Mr. Moderately-Right only for Mr. Right to show up? If you aren't ok with me having an extra marital affair you really should let me wait for him. For your sake and mine.

Number 9: This is not a game of bowling. Just because I'm the last pin left, doesn't mean its your moral duty to knock me down. Just because I'm the youngest and it's been a while that you had a party, doesn't -under any circumstances- mean that you have to sacrifice me at the alter of matrimony to do it. Hell let's throw a "The New Season of Glee is Starting" Bash! We can sing, we can dance, we can wear weird itchy outfits, I swear you wont even realize its not a wedding!

Number 10: Jokes apart, I want to very politely inform you that I am NOT ready to get married right now. I love you, and if you bring this up again, I'll sweety remind you that the average marriageable age in Japan is 35, and I will insist on finding myself a Japanese man. I love you and all, but who I choose to marry is my business. I promise to take your words of wisdom on board but at the end of the day, I am more than your child. I'm a thinking, opinionated, high functioning (ok moderately functioning) human being. The decision of who to spend my life with or without will be mine, I promise to make sure you are happy with the decision, but the decision, nonetheless, will be MINE.

Photo Credits: Alma Wedding Photography

Friday, 19 July 2013

Im-Perfect Love

I just saw A Walk to Remember tonight for the first time and my first thought was, What a stupid movie! The very fact the leading lady dies in the end is a put off for me. See I love fiction. I love movies and books and poetry and dramas of the fictitious variety. I believe that life is full of too much sorrow and hatred, violence and blood shed to begin with. So in my mind, fiction keeps hope alive. It makes a person want to persevere to be better. To be better daughters or sons, better husbands or wives, better workers or employers, but most importantly better people. When I read a book or see a movie, the eternal optimist in me comes out. I want the hero and the heroine to end up together. I want the world to be saved. I want the strength and dignity of the people in these books or movies preserved. In my mind it is bigger than the story. It is sacrosanct.

And that is why I hate the movie. But beyond that, as I sitting thinking about how much I DONT like the movie, a thought occurs. The movie talks about the concept of the elusive perfect love. A love so deep and abiding it touches the soul. A love so pure and selfless it makes the onlooker envious. It talks of a love that is, "always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes." In other words, a love that is perfect.

What I realize is that it is easy for love to be all those things, for it to be perfect, when all it has is a summer. When eventually the heroine is going to die of Leukemia and the hero is all to willing to put his life, his dreams and ambitions on hold, to accommodate her and her dying wishes. For the heroine to inspire the hero to be a better person.

In reality however, I think love is imperfect. There are always going to be times when it all the things the author mentions, but there also going to be times when love is impatient or unkind. When it is boastful or conceited, rude or selfish. All to often it takes offence, and many a times it is resentful. Love is in contradiction. It is contradictory in its outlook and manifestation from moment to moment, and it a collection of all the perfect and imperfect moments that create the epic saga called life.

So how is it that we measure if for the most part love was patient or impatient, kind or unkind? Is there a benchmark that declares, say for instance, that if for 50% of the time love was patient and kind, not boastful or conceited, rude or selfish, then it is perfect? I think for the most part love is a collection of perfect and imperfect moments, and by that definition, for the most part love is imperfect. It will either  make you bend or make you want to make someone else bend. It will either be jealous or make jealous, it be rude or suffer at the hands of rudeness. It will make you want to stand up, or make the other person stand down. For the most part love is in the monotony. It is in fighting over who makes morning coffee (or tea) or who forgot to switch off the lights. It doesn't reside in the short term plenty, but in long term inadequacies.

So given a choice between a short term perfect love or a long term imperfect one, I guess I'm ok being imperfect. I'm ok being rude or jealous sometimes and patient or kind other times. I'm ok as long as in the end through all the highs and lows, through all the imperfections, the love has survived and made me a better person than I was yesterday. That to me is Imperfect Love, and it is better than Perfect any day.
Photo Credits: Alma Wedding Photography


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Zugzwanged

I am a big time TV buff,and one of the shows I love most on TV is Criminal Minds. The Behavioural Analysis Unit, BAU, is a special unit within the FBI based out of Quantico. The BAU consists essentially of profilers and one computer genius. The team of 7 study behaviour and deliver profiles, that help catch Serial Killers. They work mostly on cases involving serial killers, because the multiple victims, that a serial killer leaves in his/her wake help determine a behavioural pattern that eventually help nab them. The show is of course very Ethiopian in its approach, where at the end of each episode, the team are able to catch the killer (or surprisingly often, he/she kills themselves when they get close enough). However, in this world filled with hatred, violence and disregard for human life, what can I say, I am a sucker for a happy (somewhat happy) ending.

This post in particular, is not about right and wrong, or about the show, or even about my deep dark aspirations of becoming a profiler, even though me and science are like chalk and cheese. This post is simply about a word that is used fairly often in the 8th season of the show.

ZUGZWANG

Zugzwang is a chess term. It literally means, 'A situation in a chess game in which a player is forced to make an undesirable or disadvantageous move.' Zugzwang is a German word and is often also used right before a person check mates another person in chess.

During a recent conversation with someone I realized, my Blog is MINE. What I mean is, it is mine to write what I feel. One of the reasons I haven't monetized my Blog is because it is personal. Simply put, I write because I want to. Of course its an added high when people read and/or comment, but essentially, I do the writing part more for me than the reader. It is the balm to my battered soul.

So today I'm going to do just that, I am going to write for myself. I feel Zugzwanged. I don't  know how to explain it. My mind is working a million miles a minute, and I cant really concentrate on any of the things going through it. I feel like my brain matter is expanding, and if this doesn't stop, my brain is going to explode any minute. So I am, as they say, venting constructively.

Have you ever been in a situation, when a word, just ONE word seems suffice to explain where you are in life or what you are feeling? It doesn't happen that often to me. Mostly there are so many words that I cant put them all out there coherently so I just keep quite when I feel like this. But there is that odd moment or two, where just one word is enough to explain everything.

How many times have you been in a situation where you have had to make decisions you don't want to, but still had to, because someone or something is proverbially twisting your arm up your back, because you realize, you have no say in this situation. That feeling is Zugzwang, and its (excuse the language) a bitch.

I don't even much care if I'm making sense right about now. I don't know if I want anyone to read this or not. The fact is I dont know, and so I'm sitting here, doing what I do best. I'm writing, I'm trying to communicate by means of my writing, in the hope that someone out there will read it and maybe realize. I don't quite know what they are supposed to realize or even who they are, but I'm just... I'm letting my fingers run across my keyboard and I'm trying to prevent my brain from exploding.

I'm feeling Zugzwanged, and I'm saying that its not important why I am feeling this way. It's just important that I do something about. I can shout. I can cry. I can sit down and I can chant. But right now, I prefer to write about it. In the hopes that if someone out there is understanding my muddled thoughts and has ever felt like this, maybe you can relate..... maybe you can offer advice. Maybe, just maybe it will make you realize, you are not alone.

Writer's Block

Those of you who follow my Blog (ya I know wishful thinking) may or may not have noticed that I am a rather infrequent Blogger. On an average even doing one post a month is a great feat. Although this started out as a pass time hobby. I really enjoy writing my Blogposts. Its my very own Chicken Soup for the Soul.  The problem however is that mostly I just can't come up with topics that excite me, and even though in the past I have come up with some interesting topics, I have been struggling with a major writer's block. I haven't written a word, on either my Blog or the 3 books  I am working on for the last month.

So I am hoping my week long vacation to Shimla will be the ideal respite and I will hopefully start writing. The idea is to do at least one post each day about my vacation, if nothing else. The problem however is, since my life is only moderately exciting (read not at all) a post a day about my vacation will mean more fiction than reality, but then, really how will you know one from the other?

So here goes nothing. The decision to come to Shimla was taken about a month back, a week or so before my birthday, but something or the other kept coming up and I kept postponing the trip. Not to be deterred in the slightest by my evasiveness, my Masi (mum's sister), who raised me from the time I was a month till about 3, kept up the constat nagging about coming home. So finally I wrote the mail to my boss requesting leave. When I didn't hear back form him after 2 days, I finally sucked it up and went to him. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: George, you haven't replied to my mail.
George: Which one are you referring to? You send me enough mails.
Me (a little red faced): The one with the subject line, "Application for Leave".
George: hmm.. I seem to have missed it. Let me go back and see it, I reply to it.

2 hours later.....
Me: George, you still havent replied to the mail. I need to book my tickets!
George (In total "Dil Wale Dhulaniya Le Jayege's" Amrish Puri Fashion): Ya Go ahead and book your tickets! (In my mind it sounded eerily like: "Ja Simram Ja Jee Le Aapni Zinddagi!") 

Fast forward 3 days later and here I am sitting on the Old Delhi Railway Station, the train 3 and a half hour late and my mood down in the dumps. It is midnight, and I keep looking up ominously to a bunch of guys standing near by. One of them kicks a dog, and I am about to go kick his add before I realize I am alone and he is with 4 other guys. So taking a deep breath I send some daggers his way, make sure the dog is ok and go back to my book.

 I swear the Indian Railways have it against me! From spending 6 hours at the station one time, to spending 36 hours in the Mumbai Rajdhani (when it should only take 14), to sitting on the station for 3 hours while my train stood in front of me for an hour and went its merry way, without me being any the wiser. Me and the Indian Railways have a hate-hate relationship, and maybe one of the reasons I'm contemplating taking a job and running away to another country is just to get away from this ancient, sadistic, rustic, hulk of metal!!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rantings of a Bookworm

I have read quite a few books in my life. If you’ve read my review of Law of Averages on this blog you will know, that I love reading. I've spent many a-nights hurdled under a flashlight in my quilt with a book, even as mum screamed at me to leave the god-forsaken book (every book I ever read) and go to sleep, and if this isn’t bad enough, I’m one of those OCD people who can’t leave a book half way through. I mean don’t get me wrong I can leave conversations half way, work, and even food in dire circumstances, but ask me to leave a book half way through, and I’ll look at you as if you’ve just asked me to kill my own first born.

Having said that, this not-leaving-a-book-half-way-through obsession is quite a pain in the ass at times. This was one such time. Before I narrate this trying tale, let me just say that I understand and respect the effort and time it takes to write a book and so as far as possible I don’t trash any book. However there is that odd book now and then that forces me to say it: I hated this book, it would have been better if this person had not written it at all! Having said that, I will still refrain, for the purposes of this post to name the book in question. Let’s just call it The Book (I know creative right?) and call the forebearer of torture in this case Mr. Author.

The Delhi International Book Fair is a magical place. Every year I go back there ready to spend an afternoon sorting through books. The smell of freshly bound pages, the sight of posters hanging everywhere, the odd book reading here and there, and the artistically displayed bookstands, did I mention it is a magical place? This year was no different. With my elder sister in tow, I walked into the India International book Fair on its last day. The fact that I was at the time in between jobs and broke, should testify to my devotion.

After walking around for about half an hour my sister informed me that we had only 2 hours to spend at the fair. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. How can you expect someone to short through 5 halls full of publishers and authors in two hours? So I decided to prioritize. I decided to visit Hachette, Penguin, Harper Collins, Rupa and the international stalls.

The reason I am going into so much detail, apart from the fact that I can because this is my blog, is to set a backdrop so that I can justify my buying this god forsaken book. Fast-forward two hours. I was almost at the end of my allotted time, and I had just entered the Rupa stall. Realizing that any second my sister was going to start nagging about leaving I started frantically leafing through random books. See Rupa is a great Indian Publisher whose main appeal is the rather economical price of their books. For a cash strapped me, it was definitely an important go to on the day. So on whim I picked up The Book.

The Book is about a medical college and the first year students there. Not only is the book over the top, unbelievable and written in stilted sad English, if it reflects anything about the actual state of affairs at a hospital or a teaching medical college I would sue the place before you could say Hello. At one point it talks of a musty old delivery room with a woman in labour lying alone on the OT table with no one around. On enquiring the first year medical student realizes that ALL the doctors are out to tea and a nurse had wheeled the patient into the labour room before rushing off to fetch a doctor. The first year medical student in question freezes in shock and on hearing groans of pain from the lady in labour jumps into action scrubbing in. While he is washing his hands for the required 3 minutes (thank god for small mercies) the lady starts pushing and at that point he lunges forward using a lifetimes worth of cricket training to catch the child before he falls to the floor.

In what realm is this funny? I was so flabbergasted and outraged to read this, I doubt I will ever have kids of my own or go to a hospital if I ever do! Thanks to The Book I’m definitely going the mid-wife way. The fact that The Book is written by a doctor makes me even more nervous. Every time I think of the incidents in the book a shiver runs down my spine. I remember a sequence when during a government sponsored vasectomy camp a 5th year resident tries his hand at the simple procedure and in the absence of a supervising attending “cuts everything in sight” and then sews up the prostate of not one but two patients. This of course leads to the two men returning later that night with extremely swollen testis filled with blood and complaining of a lot of pain.

Over and over the book resembled a medieval torture device that should be used to punish public offenders. I have –never in my entire life- read something so vile. The real mystery is why Rupa decided to publish it. Although I am not going to reveal the name of the book, because I am sadistic that ways, I will right now laugh at you for if and when you ever do read the book. hahahahahaha.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Queer-y

Oxford English dictionary describes a Homosexual as: a person who is sexually attracted to people of their own sex. Notice how the definition does not mention anything about it being an abomination or a cardinal sin? That should be our first clue that it isn't. But of course for the most of us, its in the subtext.

I am not an out-and-out supporter or condemner of homosexuality. I believe that its in freedom of choice. Everybody without exception has the right to be happy. It is not up to us to decide who or what makes them happy. So by that logic I guess I am a supporter of homosexuality.

When the majority of us are heterosexual we don't stop and think what it must be for someone to feel like they are different and that its a bad difference, because it makes them an outcast. We hear enough about homophobia and bullying to know that there is a problem. Many straight people still view homosexuality as a state of mind or disability.

Without thinking about it, we violate a person's most fundamental right. The right to be yourself. And the problem is we never really think about what it means to be different from what is socially acceptable. For many of us we are the definition of stereotypical girls or boys, and we never think, for one second what being different would be like. Are ideas of difference, our little rebellions in life are limited to sporting a tattoo or going goth or heaven forbid wearing  uncoordinated colours.

Yesterday I saw a short film on YouTube. The movie explored a world where being gay was the norm and being straight made you an outcast. The end of the movie was predictable, and the storyline cliched. Girl has existential crisis over being different, girl is picked on at school, girl is hit and ridiculed, girl kills herself from the pressure. However, despite all this I could not understand why the movie had impacted me so.

After a lot of soul searching I realized what it was. The film connects on a baser level to every heterosexual person. It makes you, for the first time, feel like you are on the periphery looking in to a world that terms YOU different.

Sitting alone and watching the movie makes you feel like the only heterosexual out there and the gross unfairness of what is being done to the poor girl for just being different. And suddenly it hits you. Is this how a homosexual person feels all the time? Its one of those aha moments that makes you realize how sickening it is to be discriminated against for being different. For being you.

The Cliched storyline and distressful end are ingenious. They put you in the other persons shoes. The point is not wether being homosexual is right or wrong, the point is being punished for being different hurts. For being something you cannot change, impulses that are so inherently you, is wrong.

So here I am writing this post. I am not preaching about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality. I am talking about the wrongness of discluding someone for being different. The fact is, it really does not matter if someone is straight or gay, if you are comfortable with them being straight or gay, it matters that by virtue of them being humans you need to respect and accept them. Look at the movie and put yourself in the girl's shoes, it hurts everybody to be teased, bullied and HATED, regardless of whether you are straight or gay. The next time you feel like this towards anybody, think about Ashley....

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Random Chatter

I read on Twitter today "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn. 

The tweet got me thinking, well the tweet and a blogging competition, got me thinking. The competition is by WeChat, and the fact that they are giving out a MacBook Air to the winner, should in itself, explain my reasons for writing this blog. I actually started weeping when I thought of the video editing I could do on this piece of hot machinery, but also I genuinely liked the topic. The more I thought about it the more interesting it seemed to write a post about it. If you happen to be Blogger do check out the contest. The contest asks us which 5 persons, dead or alive, we would like to have in a WeChat group, you know if we had a WeChat group.

As soon as I read the topic, my mind took a downward spiral. According to Jim Rohn, the 5 person I pick will say substantially a lot about me. So the first think I did was think of the smartest people I could think of.

The first person on my list, Albert Einstein
Reasoning: He's German. As far as I'm concerned that should explain a lot. Also picking him makes me seem smart.
Rebuttal: The more I thought about it, the more I realized (I hate science! Ya I know great epiphany after having almost failed my 12 boards from science), but the realization that I would have more in common with the Einstein bobble heads from night at the museum 2 than the actual guy put a damper on this.


Next person on my list, Yoda
Reasoning: He was on the contest poster and that shit really messes with your mind. He was also among the 25 greatest movie characters of all time, according to Empire Magazine (I guess the empire really does strike back)
Rebuttal: I find the whole talking backwards really irritating and besides his beady eyes really freak me out!

At one point I even thought of calling Steve Jobbs, so that even if I didn't win (which I probably wont) at least I'd still get a macbook out of it! :P

But after much soul searching (read 10 minutes before the contest ended) I came up with the following list:

1. Socrates: I recently finished a course on Coursera.org called Introduction to Philosophy and of the philosophers we discussed Socrates is by far my favourite. I love how he turns everything into a question. For him the best way of gathering knowledge is by asking questions. Socrates says, The unexamined life is not worth living. Also, his abashed manner is pretty cool! So the sheer fact of how much he can annoy everyone else by asking questions means I had to have him in the group!

2. Dumbledore: Well he was also on the contest poster (I'm telling you this stuff really messes with your mind). Also since I am a die hard Happy Potter fan, the choice should seem obvious. As far as I'm concerned R.K. Rowling is a genius and anybody who thinks otherwise..... may think so, there is nothing I can do about it. The next choice should clear matters up more.

3. Freud: Not only is Freud the single most crazy person in history (we have that in common) he was my introduction to the magical world of psychology. But sentimental value aside, I absolutely had to have Freud in the group so that he could psychoanalyze Dumbledore and finally lay the whole, he's-gay-he's-not-gay saga to rest. Like I said in the previous para, yes I am obsessed. I've even read Quidditch Through The Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard thank you very much. So questions like is Dumbledore gay? are vital to my existence.


4. Calvin: The precocious six-year -old from  Bill Watterson's daily comic script sort of got to me. Growing up I was NEVER a comic person. Anybody who knows me will attest to the fact that I am more a book person, but lately I have been introduced to the joys of comics, and well of all the ones I have read, Calvin and Hobbs is my favourite. Calvin is thought to be named after John Calvin, a 16th-century French Philosopher, and well he is the smartest six-year-old around. Plus we have similar ideologies in life. My favourite quote in life comes form Calvin and Hobbs.

Calvin: Inspiration is not a faucet you can turn on at will. It requires a mood.
Hobbs: what mood is that?
Calvin: Last minute Panic! and well I guess the fact that I procrastinated for 15 days and finally put this together at the last minute should prove my point!


5. Sheldon Cooper: BAZZINGA! I absolutely love the socially challenged eccentric physicist from the American TV serial The Big Bang Theory. The Texan mysophobe is one of my favourite TV characters of all time and even though, I should hate him on principle considering that he is a physicist, I cant help but adore him. He might be a few french fries short of a happy meal, but there is simply no one like him. Plus when he turns evil and is the most evil supervillian around it would help to be on his good side!

 And that rounds up my list of 5 people I would Love to have in a WeChat Group. What about you?


Check out their Youtube Channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/WeChatIndia?feature=chclk

Monday, 20 May 2013

Against All Odds

I remember the day Jimmy was born. Twelve years ago, in the quaint drawing room of our downstairs neighbour. Blacky was in labour, and in a matter of minutes a 13 year old bright eyed little girl witnessed the miracle of life for the first time. 


The bright eyed girl was me, and Jimmy is the youngest of three in my family. Jimmy is my 12 year old Dalmatian, my mum's only son, and fulfilling all expectations, her favourite (mum's always have a soft corner for sons!). About 4 years ago Jimmy developed his first tumor. A lump on his left front leg, the tumor was operated upon and found to be cancerous. However our vet, Dr. Prabhakaran and the entire team at Friendicos did a marvelous job and scraped out as much of the tumor growing on his bone as possible, but this did not stop stop the tumor from coming back. What followed was a harrowing 4 years in which the tumor came back thrice and removed twice more. 

When the tumor came back for the fourth time last April we made the difficult decision, in consultation with Dr. Prabhakaran, not to go in for another operation. The operations were very taxing on Jimmy, and came with increased delay in recovery each subsequent time. So we decided to weather the storm, as we prepared to bid Jimmy goodbye and make his last few months comfortable.


But the fact was, he WASN'T comfortable. The tumor was growing faster than a colony of rats, and had burst in two places, which necessitated it being bandaged constantly. Jimmy was also losing movement in the leg due to the large size of the tumor.

Soon daily fights became commonplace at home. Mum could not see him in so much pain and begged my sister to let us put him down. My sister retorted fiercely, "If he were a human would you have said the same thing? Everybody deserves a fighting chance. It isn't up to you to decide who dies."


During this time, Mani di (our resident superwoman, the lady who raised me from the age of 6, and my mum's oldest daughter, as mum call her) befriended another dog walker in our colony. The man recommended their own vet. 

Seeing a faint light at the end of the tunnel, Mani di rallied around and convinced everyone. Finally, we went to see Dr. Gautam Unny. Dr. Unny has a reputation for taking on cases that nobody else dares touch, and the more we spoke to him, the stronger the light at the end of the tunnel became. Dr. Unny took one look at the tumor and said it was a miracle Jimmy was still alive. He said that an amputation of the whole leg from the shoulder joint was the only option. As the date for the operation was set, he promised us he would do all he could. However at the same time, he also promised us that if he opened up Jimmy and felt that the tumor was inoperable, he would put him to sleep. Jimmy had suffered enough.

The next few days passed in a flurry. Soon enough it was time for Jimmy to go in for his surgery. Bidding him goodbye, not sure if I would ever see him again, I left for work....

That day I came home to find a totally dazed looking Jimmy, my little brother has survived. He was lying on his back with a heavy bandage where his leg used to be, but he was alive. As the night progressed, and the anesthesia wore off, Jimmy started howling in pain. I had never seen him cry so much. That night I remember sitting up at about 3, startled out of my sleep with Jimmy's cries and Smiti's sobs. My sister is one of the strongest people I know, but she loves Jimmy to bits, and there he was lying with his head in her lap whining away in pain, and I saw tears of utter helplessness and desperation in her eyes.



As I sat up she looked at me. Her eyes implored me to do something, anything. Doing the only thing I know how to, I sat up and started chanting next to Jimmy's face. Being a lay Buddhist practitioner, I whole heartedly believe in the philosophy of Buddhism and try to base my life on it as much as possible. To my amazement Jimmy stopped whimpering for the first time in hours. As I continued chanting he eventually fell asleep as we both (me and Smiti) exhaled a sigh of relief. 

The operation took place in the first week of March and to everybody's surprise, on the 9th day, Jimmy was up and hobbling awkwardly on three legs. During a subsequent visit, Dr. Unny told us that while he had been operating there had been a moment, when with 36 clamps on various arteries intertwined with the tumor and Jimmy bleeding profusely, he had thought he was going to lose him. In his words, Jimmy has a lot of fight left in him. He also said that Jimmy is lucky to have a family that loves him so, and this why he pulled back from the brink of death. 
video

Dr. Unny and his team of two assistant doctors were amazed at our love and devotion towards Jimmy, when he learned that we had been taking him for dressing for almost one full year before he was operated on, he said, the only reason Jimmy survived so long was because he had us. Anyone else would have given up long ago.

On later visits to Dr. Unny's, I observed him very closely. This post is as much dedicated to the man as to my beloved dog. Dr. Unny is, simply put, one of a kind. He zips past in an effort to see as many patients as possible simultaneously, putting his younger assistants and even the road runner to shame. His motto is, "I don't care if there are people waiting outside, but it is simply too hot for a dog!" So trying to minimize waiting time for the animals standing patiently outside his clinic, he zips past once again.

I remember the first time I went along with Jimmy to Dr. Unny's this was 4 days postop. Dr. Unny instructed his assistants to hoist the "bachcha" (child) carefully onto the table, and as I looked around for a child, I was surprised to see them lifting Jimmy onto the table. The love with which Dr. Unny treats his patients, is evident in how he addresses them. 

I am thankful to have Jimmy in my life. The look that he gives me when I walk in the front door, as if there is no one else in his world but me, is priceless, far more priceless than the mastercard ads. He has taught me so much. But more than that I am thankful to have a sister who is as stubborn, as a mule.



Finally some Gyaan (Moral of the Story): The amputation should have taken place four surgeries ago when we first realized that the tumor was cancerous. We should not have ignored the warning signs, and for that we will never forgive ourselves, for putting him through so much pain. However even though we figured it out late the important thing is that we did not give up. Everyone and I mean everyone has right to live. Everyone deserves a shot at life. There is nothing in this world that you cannot do if you have the grit and determination. There maybe a Dr. Unny out there who might be able to weave a miracle, but you will never know unless you try.


The story is truly close to my heart and I want more people to read it. Which is why I have entered it in a contest :) http://www.myhealthyspeak.co.in/

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A Hard Day's Endless Night

For most of you who know me, one of the first things that comes up, in a conversation with me is the fact that I'm fluent in German. I have been learning the language for 11 years, and it is one of my biggest passions in life. So in any conversation I tend to slip in the minor detail.

In December last year I, along with 8 other crazy people, who I now call friends (Shashank, Piyush, Pranav, Swadhin, Divi, Niket, Gunjam and Simran I love you all to bits), decided to sit for the C2 exam in German. For those of you who don't know, the European language system has been standardized, so C2 is the highest level available anywhere in the world for any European language. After spending an entire year preparing for it, and in my case giving up a job, we were very gung-ho about the whole thing. 

The result however, contrary to expectation, was a nuclear disaster the size of Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together. Only one of us managed to pass the entire exam (yes, yes Mr. Gupta we are all deliriously proud of you) and most of us failed or barely passed all 4 parts of the exam. What was most surprising however, was that at least 4 of us flunked in speaking. Now if you have ever had a conversation with me in German you will realize, I may not be able to do a hell of a lot of things in this world, but German ,especially SPEAKING German is something I can do for a living. Without being conceited, I'm THAT good at it. This is because I have studied German form Institute of German Studies Noida. Run by an Indian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Dayal, the 26 year old institute is, honest to god, world class. I have never had better teachers in my life, and I owe a lot to them. A lot more than just teaching me German, they taught me how to be a better person.

Coming back, the result of the exam was not all that shocking however. I have been studying German for long enough to realize that in the last 6 or so years Max Mueller Bhawan, Delhi has really had it in for us. For all the 11 years, we have been giving our exams at MMB, Delhi as external candidates. In the recent past a lot of students have migrated to IGS Noida form MMD Delhi, and I am in good authority to point out that the internal candidates know the exam paper beforehand. But despite all this, we never begrudged the students of MMB Delhi, because frankly we consciously chose to study at Noida. This is because we feel that IGS genuinely is better. This time however, we had had enough.

We decided to challenge the result and wrote to MMB Delhi stating that we were unsatisfied with the result. After almost 5 months, we only managed to get one reply from MMB Delhi, and it was only after a friend in Germany personally went down to München to file a complaint at Goethe Institut that any action was taken. We were called in, to come and look at ONE of the 4 parts of the exam paper. 

The following was the only English letter we wrote to MMB, the rest being in German.

I am really saddened to write that I am very disappointed with the way Goethe Institute has taken up the matter of the recently conducted C2 exam in New Delhi, India, December 2012. It has been 3 months since I first wrote an email bringing to your attention, that we were unsatisfied with the result, as well as the way in which the C2 examination was conducted, for which 9 of us appeared as external candidates. 

After 3 months of waiting we have only received one email from the director of Goethe Delhi, which failed to answer any of our questions and was overall very vague and unsatisfactory. 

After having been associated with Goethe and the German language of over a decade, I find it hard to believe that no one from Goethe Germany has come forward, or at the very least contacted us regarding the matter. Is this how you treat the students who have been learning the language for many years, some of them for over a decade? Who in turn want to build their careers in the field? Is it not the responsibility of Goethe Institute to ensure that the rights of the students are not violated? How many more months do we have to wait to get a satisfactory answer from Goethe Institute? 

The days are gone, it would seem, when Goethe institute taught German Language as a way to expose people to German culture, when “Deutsch zu lernen, was Deutschland kennenzulernen”. Has Goethe really become a big money making corporation, where we cash in money to pay an examination only? Where in case of any complaints, all one is left with is Rs. 8300 times 9 worth of heartache (yeah heartache for all the love and devotion we have shown the German language) and unanswered emails? 

Considering that we were (probably) the only group of students to take the C2 exam from India, it is a dichotomy of epic proportions that instead of being fair and rewarding us for our efforts (with replies to our emails, if nothing else) we are discriminated against for being externals and not even deemed fit to be shown our answer sheets or have our questions answered. Considering that C2: GDS is the “Gipfel Prüfung” that anyone in the world can give, in light of our experience, I am afraid Goethe Institute is doing (at best) a very shoddy job. 

Might I also mention, that the Stufe-Topper, generally, gets an opportunity to go to Germany in light of his or her hard work and perseverance. In our case of course since we have committed the grave error of being external candidates, all bets are off and, one of us, the only person in India to have cleared the C2 exam, in so far as we know, Mr. Shashank Gupta was offered not so much as a pat on his back, let alone the promise of an elusive scholarship for all his efforts. All he received was a “thank you” email from the director of Goethe Institute Delhi (Which he had to request for). 

One must also take into account that we applied as external students, due to which for some unknown reason, we had to pay two times the examination fees, which is 8300 per person, i.e. 130 euros (I do not understand the concept of paying two times the fees. Is it punishment for not having applied as internal candidates? It is almost the same fees as one would pay, were one to take the exam in Germany; and considering the purchasing power parity of India, we are paying almost 2.2 times the fees that one would pay in Germany). 

What is most surprising, however, is that I have not received even a singly reply from anyone at Goethe Germany, till date in the matter, when in fact Goethe Germany was marked on all the correspondence between us and Goethe Delhi since 3 months. I am very surprised to see no initiative from anyone at the main Goethe Institute. I now wonder if writing emails would actually result into any action at all, but alas the spirit of an eternal optimist and my great belief in the power of good, and somewhere the respect I still have (even after all this) for Goethe, force me to once again write an email beseeching action.


It is things like these over which reputations are lost. I have learnt the language for 11 years but never ever have I faced a challenge like this before. To be honest, none of us need a certificate to prove our German language skills, but it’s the matter of being unfair and non-responsive that I refuse to accept lying down. 


In the words of the renowned Polish Author, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”. 

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
C2 gruppe von Delhi (Institute of German Studies - Noida) 

Cutting a long story short, we went to MMB Delhi last Friday. The answer sheet that I was shown was bleeding red. I was told that I made grammatical errors, which are not expected from a student of my level. Upon further questioning, a mistake was pointed out as being a spelling error. To my astonishment, the word was error free, and the whole affair was over before I had a chance to look at the paper more thoroughly. I also briefly took a look at the listening module of the exam along with the answer key and unless I'm blind, which my ophthalmologist confirms I am not, the first answer on the OMR sheet was correct. This got me thinking... I wonder what other anomalies lie in the paper that I did not have time to notice? 

The battle is over and from it's side MMB got off scot free. But I really hope they realize that in the future, all of us individuals will make somethings of ourselves and become someone in life, and we will always remember what they did to us. Thank you MMB Delhi, thank you for for teaching us politics when all we wanted to learn was German.

I only wrote this post because I truly believe in the quote I wrote in the email, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”. - Elie Wiesel, renowned Polish Author, Nobel Peace Prize winner, AND Holocaust survivor.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Wo-man in the Mirror

The title of this post comes from the famous Micheal Jackson song Man the mirror. For those of you who have heard the song you will, I hope realize the significance of the post. For those of you who haven't, you simply must.

The reason this post comes laden with pretext is because of what happened yesterday. yesterday as I got into work at 10:15 running a little late thanks to the Delhi Metro, all I was concerned with was reaching office and starting work. As I finally marched into office and powered up my computer, I was already is a foul mood since the internet was acting up. Finally, at around 11 I finally logged on to Twitter and that is when I saw it. Twitter-sphere was rife with news about the Boston Marathon bombing


Although my heart went out to the little 8 year old girl who had lost her life today and the others, I am embarrassed to say I wasn't all that perturbed. I may be only 23 (yes according to SOME that is young) but  growing up in the 21st century where terrorism is more a way of life than a global problem, we all tend to become somewhat apathetic to the problem. 

While scanning twitter I can across the following post by @WOLwealthonline (Wealth Online), you can find out more about them at:  wealthonline.com.au.


At first I retweeted as the post urged, but about 10 seconds later I started becoming progressively more appalled. I mean isn't it bad enough that we live in a world where there is so much violence all around that we are no longer horrified by it? now people are looking to gain reputation out of it? I mean if you really want to just GIVE the money, just do it! but for God's sake don't attach conditions to it!

So I posted the following Tweet. 


After which life intruded on all my good intentions. The rest of the day in office was agony, between non responsive wi-fi, an earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter Scale and a terrible headache I was pretty much in hell. 

So finally when I got home around 10 and was able to get on to the net I went back to see if anyone at Wealth Online had bothered to even reply.

They hadn't. 

However, I did find the following two tweets. Even though they aren't phrased to my liking, I'm still glad they did something about it.  



And this is when I started thinking about the Micheal Jackson song and I made a promise to myself. "I'm starting with the wo-man in the mirror I'm asking her to change her ways, and no message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself, and then make a change."

So if I am outraged, or saddened or just concerned about something, it is imperative that I speak out, because sometimes a little courage and action on your part go long way, and you might be surprised how much difference one person can make.

In the words of the renowned Polish Author, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Philosophy for Dummies


I’ve recently been introduced to www.coursera.org by a friend. If you are fond of broadening your horizons aka studying about new things, well then coursera is the thing for you. How does it work you ask? Well I’m really not in the mood of explaining the whole process (read I have NO idea how it happens) so you can watch the TED Talk by Daphne Kohler the Stanford-professor-cum-dynamo behind the project.


So my first course is called “Know Thyself”, it is a sort Philosophy for Dummies class by Prof Mitchell Green of the University of Virginia, and the course and the Prof are both agreeing with me well so far.

So since I am half way through the 10 week course I decided to give you a crash course in philosophy so far. Below is a list of the most important things I have learnt from each of these renowned Philosophers.

Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living. So constant self-examination read day dreaming is not a colossal waste of time. It is in fact intrinsically philosophical. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the big man!

Note: for those of you who were actually hoping to learn something about Socrates, here's a little something
something.



Descartes: Philosophy trumps Mathematics. Period. You may spend your life coming up with nonsense stuff, namely the Cartesian coordinate system, but towards the end of your life what’s important is proving that a piece of wax exists.

I found this great video on Descartes, thanks to a fellow courserian!



Gilbert Ryle: Smart is as Smart does. So say you know 2 plus 2 is 4. The really important thing is what you do with that knowledge.

Video Below.



Sigmund Freud: If you can’t beat them, accuse them of foul play! In his introductory lectures on Psychoanalysis, Freud states that anyone who resists his methodology or technique, probably himself has something to hide. Brilliant! How did I not see this coming?? Forget finding Grammar mistakes the next time I’m losing an argument, I’m gonna go all out hysterical and blame people of hiding things! Also his theory about Sex and Violence governing all facets of life was a close second for the best thing I learnt from him.

And well I dont know about you but this picture on the cover of the book "Introductory lectures on Psychoanalysis psyches the bejesus out of me.


Timothy Wilson: (not really one of those extremely well known philosophers but still) The Spin Doctor inside. Wilson talks about a spin doctor present inside each one of us in the form of the unconscious or in his explanation the sub conscious, that is essential as it possible for us to justify our actions and move on.

Yes well I thought he might get lonely without a picture or video.


And well some of us just have more spin in us than others, so we will for example believe that eating a chocolate cake is perfectly okay while dieting because the basic aim of the diet was to count calories. Well the cake has 10000 calories, and since I have counted the calories all that is left is for me to eat it. (this example is purely context for your understanding and totally fictional and does not reflect on any person alive or dead, although one might argue that I am currently dieting).

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Life Of Deepti..

For those of you who don’t know. I took up a new job recently. I am now the communications manager for SCORE Foundation in Delhi. It’s a great place to work and I’m deliriously happy to be going to office at 10 in the morning as opposed to the ungodly hour of 8:30 that I did in my previous job. But that aside, as I was sitting in office yesterday, reminiscing how I got to be there exactly, I remembered the day I had gone for my interview at SCORE. What came to mind were rather funny (If you are sadistic kinds who derive pleasure out of torturing others) events that made up the day. So although I had wanted to write a profound and moving account of my time so far at SCORE, what I’m writing instead is my account of that day.

I had seen the Life of Pi a couple of weeks before that day with the most mad bunch of people I've had the good fortune of meeting (yes guys C2: GDS rocked! I miss you already) and while I was watching the movie I thought to myself, my life is never going to be this interesting.... Well that was a couple of weeks ago and well today it just got a lot more interesting, and I don't mean interesting in a good way.


So as most of you may already have heard or experienced the traffic in Delhi is a bitch, well today.... today it went to a whole new level of hell. Thanks to the protests around Delhi against the rape of a 23 year old recently, coupled with the shutting down of 9 metro stations around central Delhi and the rerouting of traffic away from Connaught Place (the center of Delhi, and maybe even the world if you ask me), and if this wasn't enough the Kalindi Kunj bridge was closed for renovation. At one point I actually thought the best way to get to Noida was to parachute down from a chartered helicopter. For a while there it actually seemed impossible!

I started the day after 3 and a half hours of sleep, and still managed to get out of the house in time for a job interview slated at 11:00 am, which knowing me is in itself a great feat. However apparently god did not see it that way. After being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for the better (or in this case worse) part of 1 and a half hour, I finally arrived for my interview at a location no more than 20 minutes away from my home, 40 minutes late. What I failed to recognize at the time was the fact that it was all downhill from there.

Leaving the interview location at 3, I brilliantly deduced that I could skip the traffic jam by taking a somewhat lengthy detour through Jamia to Kalindi Kunj. Yes I’m the only idiot in Delhi who did not know that Kalindi was shut down. After 3 hours of cursing, crying and flapping my arms around in outrage I finally reached home. Only to start back the way I had come, this time with my dog in tow. My 12 year old Dalmatian needs to go to the vet twice weekly and of course he had to go today! I mean when god gets it in for you.. he goes the whole 9 freaking yards! 

This meant spending a total of another 2 and a half hour in traffic. What was different this time around though was that I did not spend the time shouting profanities at innocent passers-by, breaking down in fits of hysteria or flapping around like a chicken. This time around I spent the time conversing. I had a rather deep conversation about life with Jimmy, my dog. And it was then that I remembered Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger from Life of Pi. I realized what I hadn’t during the movie. That companionship really is important. Isolation turns into people we ourselves would hate.

And on the heels of that epiphany came another thought. I and Pi Patel weren’t all that different. No hear me out. He was stuck alone at sea with no one but a ferocious tiger for company, while I was stuck in a sea of cars, where although there was half the population of Delhi surrounding me, we might as well have been a million miles away. I was still alone in a little Alto with no one but a dog for company (and yes he is ferocious. Ask all the people he has bitten over the years!)

And well I thought back to what I had said to myself in the theatre so long ago in December. My life had just turned as interesting as Pi Patel’s (well maybe not interesting enough to write a book or make a movie or anything, but atleast interesting enough to write a blogpost!), and to that effect I said, Pi Patel eat your heart out! :P


Thursday, 7 February 2013

For the Love of Dog!


When I started this blog, I was stuck on an appropriate blog description for quite some time. Finally after about 2 months it dawned on me, this blog is about telling stories. Stories about people, about situations, about… well me mostly, but that’s hardly the point!
So today I decided to tell someone else’s story. Today I read an article in the Times of India Delhi edition. On page 6 squeezed in a corner poking out innocuously was an article titled:  Leopard rescued. Sounds pretty anti-climactic for the way I built it up doesn’t it? Well as I read the headline that exactly what I thought, Big Deal. Upon closer inspection however a name popped out at me, Dr. Prabhakaran and my jaw dropped. So this particular post features someone I truly admire. Someone I’ve known for the past 4 years, and who has more integrity and guts than most anybody I know, Dr. Prabhakaran.


I have an 12 year old Dalmatian, and for the past 4 years or so we have been taking him to Friendicos SECA near Defence Colony flyover, an animal hospital cum shelter, where Dr. Prabhakaran works along with his amazing team. The team at Friendicos workd tirelessly to rescue and house stray dogs, cats, moneys, pigeons and from what I saw today piglets. During my dog’s 3 surgeries and almost daily checkups that followed each time, i can safely say I have spent A LOT of time at Friendicos over the past 4 years. I’ve seen Dr. Prabhakaran come in at 8:30 in the morning and leave at almost the same time each night. The staff is a different story altogether, from long gruelling days spent trying to calm and treat frightened animals, to many a rabies shots after animal bites and night shifts, not to mention the ambulance service, these people are the real supermen and women of Delhi.
I developed a love for all 4 legged creatures young. My sister is an animal rights fanatic (no there really isent another word for it) and living with her definitely turned me into an animal lover if not fanatic. She was known as the dog lady at Tata institute of Social Sciences from where she did her MSW and her chronicles of animal rescue spread far and wide (I have a bedroom wall dedicated to all the animals she rescued and trust me the wall is full. So when we started taking our beloved Jimmy to Friendicos both of us instantly gravitated towards the staff and myriads of stays there. We spent countless afternoons playing with pubs, dogs, cats and such and even more fretting over some or the other particularly bad accident case that was being treated there.
Through it all I rember seeing Dr. Prabhakaran. Calm, dignified and running. Constantly running from the OT to the OPD to the Shelter. He seemed tireless, the passion he has for animals is unmatched. I lived in a house full of animal activists and I had never seen anyone with his kind of passion and dedication for the cause. Where we screamed at people on the roads, in our compound, in our school/college campuses for showing cruelty to animals and lamented about it to no avail, he said nothing. He silently treated all those animals who were victims to the wrath of man. He patched them up and gave them a better life.
The kind of dedication these people have towards the animals at the shelter is amazing. Last year tragedy struck. A bunch of drunken idiots lost control of their car and crashed over the side of the flyover onto the Friendicos Shelter below. The metal cages broke and the cars fall and none of them were seriously hurt, however Friendicos lost many precious things that day. One innocent little pup lost his life, many other sustained several severe and minor injuries, and the shelter incurred damages amounting up to 20+ Lakhs. The boys got off without paying any damages and apart from another little article that time in Hindustan Times, the incident went off unnoticed. What Friendicos suffered however cannot go unnoticed. Several benefactors flocked in to show support in forms of strong words and quietly drawn cheques, however despite everyone’s best efforts all the damages were not covered.
Despite all this, the men and women of Friendicos, my unsung heroes, Dr. Prabharan, Uma, Karan, Nagendra, Deepak, Ram, and the entire staff of Friendicos, got up dusted themselves off and continued fighting for a cause they have believed in for the past 31 years.
I’m proud to say that I am associated with Friendicos in my own little way and although I am attached to several NGOs, this is one, has its own special place in my heart. 
P.S. I wrote this post yesterday Feb 6th and today morning there is another article about the rescued leopard in Times of India on page 3, and this time thankfully the story is much bigger! 




Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A Series of Fortunate Accidents


The Law of Averages
It was another one of those lazy afternoons. The ones hen I have nothing to do in life but stalk people randomly on FB as they appear on my wall. Just for the record, in the words of the author “I’m not lazy, I just have a high inertia of rest.”  This particular day was different. I was going through my inbox deleting messages of the “Do you want to do Fraaaandship with me?” variety when I saw a message by one Mr. Kshitish Padhy. Apparently Mr. Padhy had read a review of a book I had previously done on this blog and he was wondering if I would be interested in reviewing his book: Law of Averages.
I read and re-read the message about 3 times. Then I jumped up and did an impromptu jig in sheer happiness. Let alone the fact that someone who I didn’t have to arm twist into reading my blog -read friends and family- had actually read my blog, but now I was getting requests to review stuff. See since I myself am a PR professional and used to sweet talk bloggers to review stuff for my own clients, not all that long ago, the feeling of being on the other side of the scales was just.. so Boss! I haven’t really been blogging all that long, and the only other review I did was purely due to my love of reading. In my mind I kept chanting Oh how the petty have risen!
Since I’m a bookworm and have been known to blow huge chunks of my salary on books in the past, I try to steer clear of books now-a-days, considering I am unemployed. But I just can’t resist the smell of a new book and the sound of crisp pages turning, so like an addict craving her fix I often still blow money from my rainy-day stash on books.
So when Mr. Padhy offered to send across a copy of his book for my reading pleasure (ok for me to review) I was delirious with happiness. Getting to read a book without increasing the size of the already crater sized hole in my pocket- Christmas came early this year! (or considering the timing of the request.. just in time).Having said all that, this is supposed to be a review, so here goes nothing.


After waiting for ages (read 2 weeks) for my copy of Law of Averages to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised with the first look of the book. Since Kshitish is in the comic business, I wasn’t really surprised with the great cover art. What I did find intriguing was the name. Law of Averages, weird name for a love story wouldn’t you say?
To that I say read the Preface. Kshitish mentions, “The Law of Averages is bound to catch up with you and you are bound to win big time at least once in your life” and well in his mind this applies to love as well. So well when you think about it, in a round-about way, the name of the book is actually pretty ingenious. It doesn’t outright mention love, but when you finally make the connection; it certainly gives you this nice gooey feeling inside. Although I’d like to mention here that the preface is actually much better, than the actual sequence it has been lifted from, but that’s just my point of view.

The book is hilarious and filled with adventure, just as the back cover promises, however it is a little too filmy for my taste. At one point the protagonist takes a bullet for his prospective father-in-law whom he’s trying to impress (oh no that was the whole plot of the book right there) while battling terrorists on their quest for lost treasure. Like I said a little to Bollywood-y for my taste, but then I guess that’s to expect when a man writes a love story. It has more to do with a great adventure than the actual love story.

I believe when women write romance it deals entirely too much with the emotional turmoil. There is almost always a villain and it’s a lot of mind games. So in that respect Law of Averages is a really refreshing read. The story line is as interesting as the name. And well at the end of the day, no matter how filmy, I like the idea of a treasure hunt to win the love of your life.  

Talking about the characters, I think this is one aspect Kshitish has got bang on. Ritwik, a lowly comic scriptwriter with a very high inertia of rest, is just the right mix of sweet and macho. Shubhangi, his lady love, is not a drama queen... well not a really big one anyway, and dictator, the prospective father-in-law is not over the top. When I read the nickname, I had this premonition of a totally over the top old man who is as eccentric as he is strict, but Kshitish managed to do a good job with all the characters.

As for the negatives, I thought the book started out a little stiff, it was entirely too formal and a little uncomfortable to read, with me, this has always been a bone of contention, when it comes to Indian authors. However by about the fifth chapter the problem sort of resolves itself and the book becomes easier to read. I guess beginnings are always hard. Also the book has too much technical jargon from the comic book industry for my taste, between issues, series and titles I was lost!

All in all however it’s a good read, considering that it’s the authors first book, I’d say it was great. By the end all I wanted to say was Ritwik.. Leave her.. leave Shubhangi immediately and marry me! You seriously don't find men like this anymore!

Monday, 21 January 2013

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I graduated from IIMC last week, with summa cum laude no less. I say last week because that is when I went back to one of my favorite places in the world, walked up on that stage and received my Diploma. See I actually passed out last April but thanks to the cabinet reshuffle and the fact that ours is a government institution, albeit the best in my field in India, our convocation happened on 15th of January 2013.

The experience was bitter sweet at best. Heartbreaking at worst. I have worked for 6 months, quit my job, sat for an international level exam and found myself new job in the time it took for IIMC to organize our convocation, but it was not until later, tonight to be precise, when I started thinking what it actually meant. No I did not have some great epiphany or even a small one for that matter, what I did however find was something much more profound.

As I sat there reminiscencing I realized something. My childhood is well and truly behind me. While at college I could kid myself, even at 22, that I was still a kid, that my actions did not have an irrevocable effect on anyone's lives or livelihoods. That I could, no matter how bad things got, always run back crying to mum as if one of her world famous smiles and hugs had the power to rid the world of evil and bring about world peace. As I stood there posing for pictures, laughing, crying, remembering I also stood at the precipice of the rest of my life.

A curtain-raiser in which I played the starring role, and where I was the 'Sutradhar'. I truly believe that from here on out I get to decide and shape my future. I am in this sense the play-writer of the epic saga that is my life not merely narrator, spewing out words written before my time, on which I have no control at pre decided intervals. From here on out I get to decide whether I go left or right. Whether I travel the road not taken or the one often trodden. I get to walk on out and make something of myself. Something great, something worth remembering, something that is uniquely mine in essence.

And thinking all this, stringing together dreams for a future yet to come, I pause and listen to the little voice inside my head. The voice that is laughing at me. The one that is saying, 'You fool, forget the world of opportunities, the world full of bewitching choices that beckon to you. The only choice you need, the only road you will ever want to travel on, is the one that leads right back to where you've come from. Back to an age where presentations, marks and campaigns were the most important things in your life, when making it to classes at 8:30 am was the biggest challenge in life, when all it took to be happy was a group of girls, giggling, gossiping, working and a hostel room.'

Photo Credits: Mohit Agarwal