Monday, July 16, 2012

Stories from my forgotten decade

As I sit in my car and stare at the sunset across the bridge, one thing’s pretty clear; its a view to die for. This week’s pretty intense as it is, the first day with our assigned company executives for our six month consulting engagement; the GAP plenary as the school calls it. Lots of negotiations, lots of learning; plenty of talking and listening. Stuff people care about, stuff many dont need to. I know by the end of this, it will be a miracle if I dont go home knowing everything about display advertising for whatever thats worth. But, thats not the point of this note.

It will be ten years this coming week since I landed in the U.S. Not that it matters, certainly did not when I landed in India after ten years in the Middle East; but well, lets face it, I love to rewind the clock to the moments that I still look back on with fond memories. Positive memories, for a positive brand recognition.

Here are ten stories that I recollect over the past ten years, am not really sure why they withstood the test of time. They were, after all, fleeting moments in my life, many of the characters are not even part of my life anymore. But I guess thats the bittersweet nature of life. You think for that one second that this might be it; these are the people who will see you to the end. And then they are gone. Vanishing into thin air. Just like that.

Or maybe I moved along;

Or to quote Don Draper ”My life moves only in one direction. Forward”

So forward it is. ( except for the ten stories from rewind)


2002 Dallas: Greyhound travels
2003 Houston: IHOP discussions
2004 Tulsa: A new life in my life
2005 Denver: Refresh to Teen Amigos
2006 Fort collins: Drowning in those eyes
2007 Berkeley: A Norah Jones lullaby
2008 New York: Central Park & Secaucus
2009 Chicago: Fireworks in fade
2010 Los Angeles: Acceptance and Accepting
2011 San Francisco: McKinsey Advice
2012 Sao Paolo: Dive bar dreams

Friday, March 09, 2012

It had to fall...

...glad I checked out before it did.
Of all things cricket, I hate to admit it, but Dravid's batting was the anti-emotion of my early adult life. Every piece of real estate in my heart and mind had been taken over by the "How could it be Dravid?" brigade. Call it the "Sachin zone" or "Who gives a F%^&? station" that completely took over, but now when I look back at that time, its an almost non-answer to an even bigger non-question;

Dravid had to exist for me to love the sport;

And now that he's decided to hang up his boots, and as I sense in the not-so-far future the fall of the other greats; as I watch the cricketing landscape evolve into what can only be described as a "soulless cabal of witless wannabes", I dont think the frames, the sounds and the action from the landmark games he played can ever be imagined again on the cricket field. There will def be close seconds, there will be other rivalries and there will be other greats; but the games he played in were special because of everything happening around him; Rivalries like Sachin-Saurav-Laxman-Dravid, great Australian teams that had McGrath-Warne-Waughs-Taylor, have to admit those were some special times;

What made them even greater was that he just stood there (almost like Forrest Gump);
ball after ball, over after over, innings after innings, series after series.

He just stood there.

Man, was that an annoying sight to not get anywhere in a game. After all, his style was orthogonal to the expectations of any spectator. You play to win, or you get out of the way. It should be that simple. But call it patience, call it stubbornness or whatever; here was a guy who would stand there and play his elegant strokes for no results. A very "non-profit" way of looking at the world, for the "ideal" of playing the "perfect" game. Match after match he would dig himself into a hole, and then get out of it; a feat certainly worth the applause.

The reason we talk about him today was because the team he played for, India, almost always was in a hole. In fact it started off in the Marina trench in most matches and he def rescued it more than a dozen times.

Again, its the contrast that helped highlight his contributions. The perfectionist in the midst of circus freaks.

Debates will never end; comparisons almost inevitable. Is it Sachin or Saurav? Is it Laxman or is it Dravid?
To be honest, almost all of them have gone, so am not sure what the point of all of it was? Soon, there will be others. The point I am trying to make is, we all grow up truly believing in "ideals" and the ones who set them. We take a moment when they decide to move on, a deep sigh. Flashes of all their achievements pass by; flashes of all the times you supported them against a crowd also come up. And then we carry on with our lives.

This is that moment for me. Didnt take too long.

What I fear more is the moment that will soon arrive. I have to stock up on some Vicodin for that.

Its going to be brutal.
Thank you Dravid for all the wonderful innings you've played. and all the avoidable arguments as well.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mourning in the Valley

The news sinks in slowly. It is 2 a.m. in the morning and somehow I just cant sleep. Truly envy the billions who woke up to the news of Jobs' passing. At least they got to sleep through the night. I tell you, 2011 has been one hell of a year.

Obviously I never knew the guy, never had a story about him, never took a picture, with him in the corner of the frame. I never attended any of his presentations, have managed to stay away from the lure of Cupertino even avoiding I280 at all costs during my trips down south. The closest I ever got to the aura were the two miserable years I had an Iphone ( more so because of AT&T though)

And yet I'm awake.

Says a lot about the guy I guess, but it got me running a root cause analysis in the middle of the night. I didnt stay awake during 9/11, I slept during the 11/27 attacks in Mumbai. What's the deal here?

Well, to be honest, I think its partly because of the things he said in that 2005 Stanford commencement speech. The made-for-hollywood tearjerker of a speech. Stuff about living upto your ideals and following your heart, and everything else. But I've seen a good deal of speeches. Something in this speech though truly resonated with the way he lived his life. and the way he saw death. All the failures, all the regrets he had. I think the honesty is jarring. Jarring enough to keep me awake tonight.

When I think of him, I see all those nameless faces I ride the train with every day into Palo Alto. All those technology workers in their 20s coding away oblivious to the chatter on board. All wired in. Some a product of the ecosystem like he was, some maybe visionaries in their own right, like he obviously was. Some in it just for the money, some in it for the fame. Its like everyone aspires to be the next Jobs, whether or not thats what fate has in store for them.

I sense that spirit when a coworker sends an email at midnight about a small breakthrough he's achieved and someone else lauds that effort. To me, thats weird, but hey whatever works. I begin to wonder, when was I that passionate about anything? There were moments but not many. Maybe the goal's to live those moments many times over. Or be critical of the few that remain.

I would really love to read Jobs' authorized biography when it comes out in November. I'm sure he would have painted a very colorful picture of his life given how secretive he was while living it. The guy loved to put on a show, a true entertainer. Will truly miss all of that.

And maybe someday we'll even see a movie about his life, or a TV series. There's a lot of content to fill in there with some free meals from the local ISKCON chapter.

But I think the thing I fear and will miss the most is the void he leaves behind, the uncertainty in not knowing who the next great erratic innovator would be or if he were the last. In not knowing whether he or she would be right here in the Valley ( the news hasnt been that good of late). I'm an optimist though, so I'll count on it to be local, and more so a realist when I pass by all the small incubator shops.

Someone's got to be hungry there, and more so foolish.

Thanks Jobs. Thanks for everything. The drama, the innovations, the turtleneck, the simplicity and the erratic craziness. And thanks for living your life by following your heart. I know most of us wont.

But then thats why you're Jobs. Thats why the billions of messages. and not to overlook the fact, thats why I'm awake at 2 in the night.

May your soul rest in peace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Still night, still light

the moments seem endless. as the night finally comes to an end, i can hardly sleep. flashes of quick images pass my mind like trucks on a freeway. each with its own sound and conversation. the things that draw my attention at this forlorn hour are hardly stuff of any consequence.

there are pictures of people i once knew, but no longer could hear; of people who were once near but no longer here; there are sounds of the things people said this morning that i chose to ignore and the chatter on the pipes that i couldnt because they were directed right at me. and then there were the words i said back all day.

and then there are the videos of the people i care deeply about who sleep peacefully on this wednesday night, while there are those who struggle in silence through the pain that has captured their souls, for whom i wish they find their peace. and then there are those i wish i had never met, but now that i have, i still dont know what to do with these videos.

somewhere down the line the traffic would reduce to a trickle. because there ended the seemingly endless supply of multimedia snippets. thats when i fall back into a deep peaceful state of sleep. but that was back then. now that traffic seems to have increased. lot more pictures to weed through, new people, newer conversations, newer meanings. all to make sense of.

and then you have the news. of falling ceilings and failing quarterbacks. of political drama and business sitcoms. things that you make sense of when you've finished making sense of the stuff that really affects you. till then you just dump all these files in a big brown box labelled 'TO DO'.

maybe you'll get to this box some day. or maybe you'll just get a second box. and then a third. i still have the box from 1989 that i havent weeded out yet.

i once read that the dying moments of the night are when you stand alone, and finally get to think clearly of all that transpired during the day in perfect solitude. feels quite the opposite. mine seem more crowded than my days.
and before you know it, i can see the faint blue hours of a new day arriving at a distance. more people, more conversations, more pictures, all approaching you at the speed of time.

its time to get new boxes or outsource the processing to India; but I'm not sure that's a good idea. they must have nights there too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Righteous kill

He lit up to clear his head. Another week had passed since that day but he kept up the tradition to hold onto the things that no longer exist. Each drag brought him closer to the illusion of the fog that covered up the starry sky, of the mist that would hit his face, of her through the smoke that burnt his throat. The smell killed the perfume on her skin, elevated him to the reclusive tower of the feeble before plummeting to the dark depths of the stony ground. His eyes wandered to spot the moon through the last rings of whatever smoke that remained, the heat made his heart warm to feel as he had once felt before.

It turned him into the cold blooded warrior he once was before he had met her, and hardened him up like the cold wax of the candle burning inside. “Never melt” he remembered, as the flame almost reached the end of what seemed like an eternal collection of empty peaceful moments. The silence of the past few minutes were his own, something no one could steal from him. Nothing anyone could tell him mattered, even the “You disgust me” he had heard those years ago. This was his territory, this was his country. These were his times. Times where he burnt away the righteous part of his soul and killed those pandering thoughts of appeasement. He made no eye contact with the few who passed his way, he just stared into the nothingness that ensued.

These were after all, his solitude smokes.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The bookmarks of our lives.


It has been an easy few months since I wrote anything. Not that I had nothing to write about, but more because I couldn’t write. The words were sucked out of my head for lack of a better phrase. Maybe that’s what happens when you get kicked in the gut for being honest. Another lesson learnt in life. Phew, thankfully that’s over.

This note on the other hand was in the works for a long time. You see, the idea of having memories brought back into the forefront of your imagination from whatever corner they resided in needs more than a thought (Promise you, this has nothing to do with Inception). It has to be a combination of an entire tapestry of words, images and sounds. An index or a bookmark for the memories to be fetched. Why I have no idea, maybe the value of the threads currently being processed in your head isn’t close to watching Sepia colored frames from the past. Or maybe its just an escape route from whatever keeps you occupied for now.

For me it happens every evening at work. While I am furiously typing out emails or plans at the end of the day, the door behind me opens. I hear the wheels roll on the carpet and an old man push the trash can across the hall. The custodian is probably the only guy who’s on time in my office, so goes the joke. I for one have to agree, I’m usually never on time, and have been close to being reprimanded for that. But then why go to work on time, isn’t there plenty in the world to admire before being stuck in an office for the next 8 hours? Obviously my boss has other plans.

He walks by my cube and empties the trash can. Wishes me, “ Hey Amigo, how you doing?” I usually never turn back while working, but something in this guy makes me turn back and wish him with a smile. Its not that I don’t want to be condescending but more because, well, I don’t know, seeing an old man clear trash at the end of the day seems like an unfair task in life. The least I could do to mitigate that feeling in my head is to turn back and smile. Not that he cares for it, I’m sure, but these are precisely the things that run in my head soon after. I stop working and start dreaming.

Why is this guy at his age clearing trash? He is Mexican, but where is his family? He wears the same hat every day, maybe the wind messes with his ears. Maybe he is the only provider for his family. Damn, lets not go there. But then I already have.

Mumbai,1991: It was the monsoon of 1991, clearly remember the rains in Mumbai, but that’s all I'm going to talk about that. ( the idea of the monsoons have been beaten to death a million times). It was my first year in India back as a kid from an overseas jaunt. My Pati’s* house was where I was staying, a comfortable little apartment in the middle of suburban Mumbai, overfilled with Gujaratis with a sprinkling of Tams ( both very annoying groups, to say the least, but again this isn’t about that). I don’t remember the days as much, but the evenings were fun with the classic Doordarshan serials, cricket outside and the occasional pepsi-cola we as kids were allowed to afford at the time. And the bhel puri stand outside, right next to what seemed like an uncovered sewage ( Americans, you may want to use your sanitizers at precisely this minute) were always the treat my mom very reluctantly allowed us to enjoy every once in a while. But of all the things in those days, what seemed mysterious to me was this Gurkha who looked after the security of the building. Now for all of you who just checked Wikipedia, the Gurkha race was supposed to be one of the warrior races from Nepal, the types who would keep their word or kill. Always with a dagger in their belts, they needed to see blood if at all the dagger was removed. Which was why many apartment buildings in Mumbai would have a Gurkha as their security guard. Loyalty, that’s the word, Gurkhas were always Loyal to their masters. Why, I have no idea, but they were.

But this was an old guy, with teeth missing. He would just sit there every day looking at the people passing by, smoke a beedi, yell at us kids for shouting too loudly when someone got out in cricket, and clean the cars parked in the building. He lived in a shack at the corner of the building, not even a permanent structure. There were just some sheets of plastic between the two water tanks and his clothes were hung out to dry. He cooked in what seemed like a small wooden stove, never saw him cook though, but could always smell the wood burning. Now the reason I remember this guy was also because, it seemed a very odd life to lead. I always used to wonder, what is this guy doing here, where is his family and why is he living in a makeshift shack when he could live in at the worst case a shack in Nepal among his own. Did the Mumbai dreams drag him down here, after all everyone wanted to make it big in the city of gold. Maybe that’s what he tells his family, that he’s the chief security guard in Bombay. The money must be a big reason, plus with the Diwali baksheesh, must be good to help out a large family back home. I never asked anyone these questions though, but it just registered a blip. If I were to be a security guard, I wondered, what would I do. Maybe start with that annoying pest of a kid, Manish and have him kicked out of the building for violating shouting rules. Nah, that was easy, anyone could do that. Maybe I could get a uniform and a long stick and a cap that said security guard. But that’s easy too. I could probably get a bicycle and deliver newspapers. Yes, that would be cool, a security guard who delivered newspapers.

Each night after dinner, my Pati would ask me to go call the Gurkha. At first I was surprised, why should he come here, or even worse, why cant she call him herself. I would reluctantly pace myself to the shack and could see a kerosene lamp flicker in sheer darkness. “Gurkha-ji, aapko bulaya hai” (Gurkha, you have been called) I couldn’t see what he was doing, but he would cough and reply,”Haan, aa raha hain” (Yes, coming) I would rush back to my apartment and see my Pati give him the leftovers from dinner. That was a daily ritual in my Pati’s life, serve God before we ate, serve the Gurkha after. I admired her a lot for the sense of discipline in her life and still do. I could never do it the way she did, so although I might bring in clauses of discrimination against her method of allocating food, I saw the sense of it all. Rules in society existed because of people like her, if it were left to me, we would all be having a huge party.

I don’t know whether he ate the food or just threw it away though. The vessels would be brought back washed in less than 30 minutes which my Pati asked me to place in the sink again. His washing isn’t good enough? Anyway I didn’t argue and did as told. But it was raining outside. How did he just sleep in that shack when the cloudbursts were as heavy, I thought. But the questions as kids were only good as questions, you didn’t demand answers, you never faced the truth.

And that memory would end up right there, nothing came out of it, and I have no idea why I remembered it. I visited the apartment building last year, the guy had been replaced, I was told and some other young Gurkha took his place. I don’t know if he died or he went back or what happened to him. But every evening when I saw this old guy walk by my cube, I always get transported back to 1991, for no reason whatsoever. Reach the dead end of the memory and come back.

One evening the custodian pointed to the coat I had on the hanger and asked me how much it was for. That was probably the first time we had a conversation, I in my broken Spanish/English combo, said it was around 40 dollars, he said its very “Bueno”, I agreed, it was my coat (plus not a lot of people comment positively about the clothes I wear). And he was about to move on, when I jumped up and asked him, do you want one? He looked surprised and said,” Yes please, I like it”.

I told him I’ll get him one.

The next day I was out in JC Penney looking for a coat that resembled mine. I had bought this coat before my last trip to New York, a winter sojourn many years ago. It was summer now. JCP doesn’t keep winter coats in summer. I looked surprised, almost about to ask the attendant, why not?, but then held back. I never shop for clothes unless I have absolutely nothing to wear, so my ignorance could be excused.

I went back home and started thinking, how the hell do I get a coat like mine? And then it struck me, I had a similar coat that I wore during my winters in Denver that I had buried deep somewhere into clothes oblivion. I searched all evening and finally found the coat. The next day when he came, I gave him the coat. He looked surprised, and said, “This is mucho bueno coat than that, how much is it”. I said, “just keep it”. He just stood there staring at the coat and smiled, I could see he had a few missing teeth as well.

Maybe you always find the answers to the questions you ask.

*Pati: Grandmother (Tamil)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


those black pearly eyes
said a million words
even when all she could speak were a hundred

i asked myself,
what was i doing here
a place removed from my reality
a place of which i knew very little
a place that made me feel like the desert sands
in the piercing summer sizzle

maybe it wasnt about me i told myself
maybe there are things in the world hidden in shrouds
of mysteries and riddles
in tangled minds and hearts and some that made
our lives worth every minute of our existence even when
all we did was gaze into the unknown

and gaze she did.
sorry correction, gaze we did.

for every unspoken gaze i saw stories
some that made us laugh,
some that made us wrench
at the possibilities of a future
that couldn't possibly be any different
from ones that would have happened
if we didn't gaze that hard to begin with

but as is the problem with everything
once you look,
you begin to stare
once you stare
you begin to gaze
and once you gaze
it never ends there
because what you see
is a million bucks
worth what you get.

and maybe the heat did us in
when our words started getting lighter and our minds
began traveling through the phases
of what seemingly our lives could be like
and through lives we had already lived.

they say food makes for excellent company
to conversations and beyond
in my mind it doesnt end there
because it also engages us
to break down the walls of limited world views
forcing us
to open our mouths,
at least to eat,
even if we have nothing to say.

her silence said it all

and then she smiled
which made everywhere
seem like a better place
than the cards it deals us
but hey, who cares about the cards
when that smile was all i could feel tonight.

i tried to prick it though,
to see what lay behind it
you see, the chances that we find hidden treasures lay reassured
but would it be worth its weight in gold
or do we drown because it would be a burden too heavy to shoulder thru

i couldnt find much
although she kept saying
look all you want
i was surprised i couldnt find anything at all
but then realized
i didnt have to look behind anything
what i wanted to find
lay right there in front of my eyes.

sometimes there are stones hidden in gold
sometimes there is gold hidden in coal
sometimes there is coal in between diamonds
and sometimes there are diamonds hidden in gold.

but what if you had gold hidden in gold
would you call that a treasure waiting to be found
or would that just be your folly, to question what you didnt find,
but was there waiting to be found.

oh, the sheer arrogance of a twisted mind
when the questions outnumber the doubts
and there are answers everywhere to be found
except for the questions you pose.

i will say this though
maybe with a meandering logic of my own
i found her and more
between the blow hot blow cold winds of my heart
a round of roulette we play
waiting for the ball to drop

maybe today
maybe tomorrow
maybe some day
maybe never

they say im an optimist
you can see that in the lines above
the chances to win are three is to one

i pick some day.

wait though, id rather let you choose.
its easier when treasures pick themselves
they have nothing to lose.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I entered the house around five, a little earlier than usual. It was after all the most brutal winter we had seen in the last ten years and today was no different. Luckily for me, I work only a few minutes from here, so it wasn’t bad. Malathi was not that lucky though, a forty mile commute in this weather would be mind numbingly horrible. Though I don’t know if it could feel any worse after the fight we had last night.

I saw Dr Quinn struggle to start his car on the street across the house. I waved and asked him to come inside, it was after all really starting to get bad out there. Now this is a guy I could talk to, and the weather made sure we would be spending some time sharing what drove us nuts. We met at an NGO conference a few years ago, I was trying to contribute in my own way to spread the awareness about a group I worked for, and he was the key note speaker at the conference. The guy had given his whole life to something he believed in, working in camps in Africa and a degree on theology. But what made me interested in his life was his stint in Kolkata with the Missionaries of Charity. He managed a few orphanages run by the group for some years before returning to the US and opening his own shop in what he called the “shrink” line of business.

I had known him for a few years, a very good ‘fella’, always listened, never got mad, in fact there were days he was the only person I could turn to for advice and for that proverbial “shoulder to cry on”. How he managed to listen to every annoying detail of my relationship with Malathi , I never knew. But things were never this bad. Of course, she was everything I knew I wanted from someone I wanted to be with, independent, passionate and beautiful. But of late, I started doubting everything about her. She had become her own worst nightmare, things never were black and white with her and it almost ended up being miserably grey for me.

“A Grey day turning black, huh?” said Dr Q, “I was over at the Winghams, trying to set something up for their kid, really autistic, poor guy. This looks like its going to get worse, you do have shovel right?”

I nodded looking outside, where could she be now? I saw her car on the driveway, but when I entered, there was no one home. Why the hell could I not have kept my mouth shut last night? It really didn’t have to get that nasty….

“A drink Doc?”


As I took out the glasses, the lights went off. The outages usually lasted a few minutes, but something in me sensed that this was going to be one long night. I lit up the fireplace and settled into my seat. I was getting worried about her now, I tried calling her with the one bar on my cell phone, but went straight to voicemail. “You’ve reached the voicemail of Malathi, please leave your message after the beep.” That was the last call I could make before it died on me. I switched the phone off and turned to Dr. Q.

“ I assume Malathi’s not here”, he said staring into the fire. “What happened?, Where’s the little one?”

Shubha, my three year old, was her mom’s daughter, same eyes, same smile. And weirdly, she always clung to her mom, weren’t daughter supposed to be closer to their dads?

He smiled, “Well it depends on the relationship at the end of the day, maybe your wife created that force field of emotional intensity you didn’t. She is one intense woman, after all.”

True, maybe Malathi took her along. But where was she? Our fights never prompted her to leave the house before, not with Shubha at least. But maybe I outdid myself last night, but it wasn’t that bad, I know she could put up with worse. What was wrong with her, I never was able to understand. I tried asking her, talking to her, but her eyes just kept getting distant. Maybe this was the end.

“I am thinking of a separation, Doc, this is just not working for me.”

A long silence ensued, after which he said, “How long have you been thinking about it?”

“Quite some time now, in fact last week after you visited, she almost threatened to get one herself, she says there are things I don’t see and will never. That I should be ashamed of myself.”

“Maybe she has a point, empathize with her.”

“She hates it when anyone does that with her, I think that would only make all this end much quicker.” I had an angry smile on my face as I stared at the orange glow.

He didn’t say anything. I looked at the guy, old wrinkled skin, almost no hair. The things he must have seen in Africa and Kolkata, I’m sure were crazier than my stories. And yet he never spoke about himself. Maybe that’s how shrinks operate, a shrink secret.

It was almost past midnight, the power was still out, and I was really worried now. My cell phone finally died, and this was as isolated two of us could get on a snowy night. She must have left me a note, I thought to myself and got up to check the office space.

“Checking under the phone?”, he asked with a smile

‘Checking under the phone’, that was a game Malathi and I played in Grad school. We left each other notes under our advisor’s phone so that no one else found them. Sweet memories from much simpler times. Dr Q thought it was a brilliant idea until of course the advisor found them. Our plan was to graduate before he did.

I walked upstairs and lifted the phone. There were some old notes, but there was one new one.

Finally! I thought to myself.

This one was in Tamil…weird, she hadn’t left me one in years.

“We are at home, I can’t tell where right now, make sure the guy goes…but be careful, he has a gun…J

I felt a pain shoot up my spine, and a sense of deep freeze. I quickly wrote,” Seri, I’ll try keep him at bay, are you and Shubha safe? I will leave some coffee here in 10 minutes, its freezing here. I assume by man, you mean Dr Q., I wont ask you what happened, but let me know if its him. You can leave it in English, no one’s going to read the notes except me”

I could hear footsteps on the stairs so I quickly put away all the notes and turned around. I didn’t know what to expect but I had to outshrink a shrink here. Not an easy task.

He walked up and had a smile, so did you find what you were looking for?

I took a deep breath, laughed and said, Na, just some old mushy stuff from her. I wish she could always be that way.

“People change, that’s the way it always was and is, man is it freezing in here, why don’t we go downstairs?”

I nodded and followed him, the train of thoughts in my head that I just couldn’t keep track of. “ Why would she say that, is it Q she was talking about?? what did Dr. Q do?, This guy??. ..the same guy, I trusted with the innermost secrets of my life….and my Malathi, how could I doubt her….what is happening over here??....why the smiley face??”

“Would you like some coffee Doc?” I asked,

He said, “Sure,

As I prepared coffee, I started going back to the time I started doubting her for what I would call random behavior. Skipping dinners at home, going straight to bed, out for work the first thing in the morning. All along, I kept noticing small things that I never questioned because when you generally trust people with your lives, you do that unconditionally. I then switched my attention to Dr. Q. Here is a guy who had nothing to lose to begin with, who learnt everything about me, my fears and hopes, because he listened. But the big question in my mind, could it be unconditional ? What was in it for him, that he never stopped my incessant rambling.

It was a bit shameful that of late, he knew more about how my life went than her. Was that what she referred to that Wednesday evening when she wanted a separation?

“Among most things out there that smell better than they taste, I think coffee takes the cake..” he said. That was true, coffee did smell a lot better than it could taste, so are we more forgiving of the taste because the smell already did its job?

I said, hold onto that thought, I’ll be back in a bit; forgot something at the office.

I rushed upstairs, and looked for the note.

“Yes, its him”

My heart sank when I read that.

“I cant say more for now, but please be careful, he has a gun. He was leaving the house when you arrived, I couldn’t believe you called him back in.

My phone is dead, I cannot call the cops.

The coffee will last Shubha and me for the next few hours.

She is in pain, more in shock than anything else. I stopped him before he did anything.

More when this pedophilic bastard is gone.

Love you.


My eyes filled up with tears as I read that.

I wanted to pin the guy down and choke him right there. But she said he has a gun. I am not sure what had happened but I think it made sense to behave like nothing happened and let him leave when the storm had passed.

But what about the storm that had just begun to brew.

I would have to find out more about this guy. Why would Shubha be in pain, did he hurt her? Man, if he even said anything to her, I would punch the living daylights out of him. Ok, I think I need to get him out of the house first. A lot can be done later.

“Looks like I’m stuck here for the rest of the night, I cant even see my car out there. You do have a shovel right?” He said

I just nodded.

Where could that gun be? How do I act normal when all this is happening?

I had asked him the same exact question a month ago. “How do you act so calm when you know so many of your patients are messed up, Doc?”

“So, you think its an act?”

“No, Im sure any human being would be affected by what they find out through psycho-analysis of another person, disturbed or not. You really don’t want to get into the head of anyone else.”

“Maybe that’s what calms me, knowing that no one is perfect. In any case the best way to act calm is to stop focusing on the immediate surroundings of a situation and zoom out to a larger view of the world.”

“So, Doc, tell me more about your life in Kolkata. What was it like being around those kids in the orphanages?”

This was the first time I had ever asked him a question about his life.

“ It was very schizophrenic.”

“ You would have these beautiful moments with kids who looked upto you when they were young, and then they would walk out on you when they realized all this was not real.”

“ Drugs, skipping school, poverty, the entire kitchen sink of issues as they grow older.”

“ And you, doc, I mean what made you want to be there? Not ever get married, have kids of your own, I’m sure religion and service only went so far, what about your personal choice?”

He smiled and looked at me.

“Quite interested in my life now, eh?”

I felt a shiver when he said that, his piercing glance made it tough to look away.

“Just as interested as you were with mine, doc” I said with a smile.

“Well, lets just say things didn’t happen, and I made a choice for them not happening. We cant run away from the outcomes of the choices we make right?”

“ You could make new choices though.”

True, but look at me, I’m old, Ive spent my whole life thinking about an ideal, never quite got close to achieving it. I doubt making new choices is going to help me now.”

“So are you suffering? Did you hurt anyone in Kolkata? ”

I had to throw that one out, had to be brave that he wouldn’t pull out his gun and shoot me.

He looked at me straight in the eyes. I didn’t flinch after asking that question.

I knew evil resided in all of us, heck, it had made me doubt Malathi of all people in the world, it made me trust this guy, it also probably made him hurt those who had looked upto him for safety.

“So are you?” I asked him again.

“ Arent we all?”

“ Yes, But are you?”

He looked at the fire as the last piece of wood was burning,

The silence said it all. He had tears in his eyes, but wiped them off before he asked his next question.

“Trust, how do you decide who deserves it?” he asked me.

“ I don’t have an idea, doc. But I can say this, the ones you can trust, probably are the ones who trust you too. Détente at a more human level.”

He smiled.

We looked outside, it had stopped snowing, though I thought he could still not leave.

“Can I get that shovel, I think I should leave now.”

I knew he wouldn’t get far in this weather, but I had Shubha and Malathi to think about. If only there were three clones of me out there, I could probably request one clone to help him.

He needed help.

But I couldn’t be the one to help him.

His car pulled away from the street as I watched him wave back for the final time. I knew I would never see him again, and I really prayed that he got some help. Endings aren’t easy. Especially with strangers.

I ran upstairs to my office, there was one new note.

“ Is he gone for sure?”

Where was she watching all this from? Man, she was smart, I don’t think I would have managed all these hours without landing a few punches at someone.

“Yes, he left. Btw a fun fact, our advisor did find all our notes a week before we graduated. I never told you that before.”

I heard the footsteps walk down the stairs as Malathi and Shubha emerged from the shadows. We spent the rest of the night near the fireplace in silence as Shubha slept, just gazing at the fire. I never felt so peaceful ever in my life.

A few days later, we heard that Dr. Q gave up his practice and joined rehab.

Good riddance, said Malathi.

I prayed that he recover. Noone deserves a life like that.

Not even someone who played with all of our trust.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

three words

Trapped in my body
as I reached for the stars
did I want this that bad
or had I gone too far in a bid

to reclaim a lost dream
from savages and screams
over the rooftops and cities
my mind could only feel
the pungent air of loss and disbelief

"where to, oh stranger", asked
the limbless figure on the platform.
"are you leaving the city
or visiting the hall of
seemingly endless possibilities,"

"One of fame and fortune
and of gold and diamonds,
is that the journey you wish
to take,
or is it something else that brings you here."

i stared in silence, i couldnt speak,
i saw the
hundred images that brought me here
but didnt see the one
that would make me leave.
i tried so hard, with tears and without

but the only image i kept seeing was one of doubt,
one with the
dark oily corners of the world,
where the kings roamed in
fire and ash only to be burnt.

i saw them go, but never return
wasnt this the sort
of victory i despised?
as i turned towards her to reply
there dropped in front of me
two visions, both in the east.

In one i saw peace, of bliss and no disease,
the other though was grey, of equal black
and white, where the sun and the moon both
had their share of day and night.

i had both in my hands, though only
one i could carry with me, she said.
which would it be, or would you
burn before you knew how it ends.

i closed my eyes
and swam the million miles
to reach the shores and feel wet
in the colors of my dreams

as i stood, there came a smile,
i finally knew
the choice i wanted to make,
how did you, she asked

give up the bliss
and go for the grey.
i said three words that
made me swear, never to take
a perilous journey like this again.

she was there.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Relationships and Twitter

An imaginary twitter feed and some people at the end of it....and yes for the uninitiated

@ID is usually a reply to the person with the ID

Happy tweeting..:)


Cosmicnonsense: I dont have da hat I wore yday, dunno where i left it.

Prudentchild: She says I have no sense of humor, what a shame, I thought i was funny.

Idioticmaze: @Cosmicnonsense da hat is in da house

Sportsbugger: Saints rule!! Yippee

Anywherebuthere: I wore too much cologne, I'm scaring people off now

Indianrider: Maybe it wasnt meant to be, is there such a thing as fate?

Weirdnwired: @Prudentchild I thought you were funny..LOL

NiceHair: @Sportsbugger How could you? You told me you wouldnt bring religion into our relationship.

Cosmicnonsense: @Idioticmaze You trying to be funny, I should have never taken you home. Now gimme my hat

Prudentchild: @Weirdnwired U heard my jokes? and thought they were funny? I'm dating the wrong chick.

kwalityicecream: @Indianrider yes fate is awesome, I saw mine change in a minute, u should give a shot

Nightnday: @Anywherebuthere Its not the cologne. Its just you.

Idioticmaze: @Cosmicnonsense you get ure hat when u tell the world what a real a$$hole u really r...tweet that

Niceguy: Hello everyone, I am a nice guy, is there a place for me here?

Sportsbugger: @Nicehair da Saints did win today!...which religion are you talking about? NFL? LOL

Anywherebuthere: @Nightnday Ya ure the one to talk, btw ure not even in the room, idiot

Indianrider: @kwalityicecream is that you Charlie?

Weirdnwired: @Prudentchild I'm a guy here, sorry

Niceguy: Anyone help a nice guy in relationship advice please?

Cosmicnonsense: @Idioticmaze keep the hat u dumb whatever, lets see u make a buck on that

Prudentchild: @Weirdnwired Ah, that explains why u get my jokes. u watching da game now?

kwalityicecream: @Indianrider who's charlie, this is cheryl

Nightnday: @Anywherebuthere I dont need to be there..LOLOLOL

Niceguy: What are these people talking about, how come noone helps niceguys in all this

Cosmicnonsense: @Niceguy dude prob ure in the wrong place, noones nice, change ure nick to Blingbling, ull get ure response...:)

Niceguy: @Cosmicnonsense that makes sense. I will do that, danke

Idioticmaze: @Cosmicnonsense I have ure wallet too, moron

Nicehair: @Sportsbugger Dont make fun of my religion, btw the NFL is just stupid and degrading to women

Cosmicnonsense: @Idioticmaze now thats a new low even for u, but as it happens to be, i usually have nothing in my wallet..:P

Blingbling: wassup y'all

girl1girl2: @Blingbling hey there

Blingbling: @Cosmicnonsense it works THANKS!!

Cosmicnonsense: @Blingbling NP...but remember..never hand over the wallet or ure hat

Idioticmaze: @Blingbling and if u do, pls keep ACTUAL money in it

Blingbling: @Idioticmaze uh...I'll try..btw ...How U doin?

Cosmicnonsense: @Blingbling dude, she aint worth the trouble

Idioticmaze: @Blingbling I'm doin fine..:)


and thats how it goes....

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Starbucks syndrome

I once read in a magazine article that there were 20,000 ways of ordering beverages in a starbucks. And this was in 2006. I didn’t roll my eyes on that one, neither did I think that the article was being dishonest. Well, the world does have a lot of weird stuff happening, I just added this to that list. But you know that corner of your mind where the most useless of information resides, this factoid found its way there. So, ever since then, each time I visit a Starbucks I somehow keep track of an imaginary number of how many different types of drinks I’ve had there, with the hope that some day Ill be able to verify the validity of that factoid. (If there was a show on the Travel channel called “The ultimate useless pursuits”, I’m sure this would be one.)

Which brings me to the real question of the day, how bad a starbucks fan do you have to be to get close to that number? But to answer that would be to accept that there does exist this group of people (and some dogs) who like being called the ultimate Starbucks “fan”.

Now you see them all over the place (an easier group to spot as compared to Smokers, Boy Band fans, Scientologists and probably all three combined) From my empirical calculations they usually fall in 3 categories (for lack of a better grouping system),

1. Tall (includes short people)

2. Grande (no, doesn’t come with a blowhorn)

3. Venti (the people I’d bank on for the magic 20K number)

So lets start with the “Tall” ones. Most of them confess to liking the place but not being overly obsessed with brand loyalty, give them a “Peet’s” and they’ll do just fine. Many in this group would just wander into a Starbucks, know the three types of coffee--usually a Tall Cappucino, Tall Café Latte ( not just latte) and a Venti Regular coffee with room for cream and sugar (never quite knew the point of this, its like making your own pizza) and maybe every once in a while a Chai Latte. (They at times order a tea and are left wide-eyed when handed a cup of hot water and a bag) Take them to Pete’s and they will need sometime to recalibrate to the sizes but usually manage to get the drink of their choice without a lot of fuss. I don’t think I’d bet on them to get anywhere near 20 different types of drinks, forget 20,000.

The “Grande” ones, well, a little more well versed with the beverages they know would turn some heads. More open to experimenting with the sizes of their lattes, might order a coffee cake once in a while and will reluctantly enter a “Pete’s” if they cant find a Starbucks in the mall (really?) A few of them would graduate to the ultimate “Venti” club provided they already spend more on coffee and the likes than say bread and milk at home. (Usually people with no kids, or if they do have kids, love their coffee more than their kids)

And then we finally have the Ultimate group, the “Venti”s . These brave warriors swear by the brand like the three 50 yr olds I saw dancing at a Floyd cover concert ( that’s a separate discussion) They own paraphernalia of all sorts from mugs to the grinder, have visited the first Starbucks store in Seattle like it was a holy shrine, have a Starbucks Duetto credit card and think they belong to an entitled club when they buy free coffee using starbucks points ( only to later realize the APR rates on those cards are twice as high as the rest of the cards and that they could have bought four additional drinks if they just paid with cash; American dream?) They would also have a flavor combination list, their drinks would have more than 3 requirements (skim milk, extra hot, vanilla flavored….) and they would prefer to study, hold business meetings, lunches, dates (and even some weddings) at their local Starbucks rather than any other place that would be more appropriate. They know that Tuesdays offer a wonderful free download of “1” song ( that noone has heard of) on Itunes, heck they even buy water there. Now that’s the group I bank on to get to that magic number.

The problem with this final group (like any other fan club) is that they graduate in search of more authentic coffee places either because they have to wait in line while the Talls and the Grandes figure out what they want ( they should have a separate line for frequent drinkers) or they go all crazy in the head ( maybe from all the caffeine they’ve been drinking) and join the Anti-Corporate America club and start hating anything that’s “Too Big” (Microsoft anyone?)

Supernovas do tend to burn out, but the big question here is, do they burn out after 20,000.

That’s what I’d like to know.

P.S. Isnt that a lot of drinks to consume over a lifetime? Is anyone keeping count of how many café drinks a normal coffee drinker (No Venti/Grande) has over a lifetime? I’d like to read that in an article someday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Paanwala point of life

Well, this isnt a post about paanwalas ( betel leaf sellers for the uninitiated, read more at for your choice of Paan), neither am I trying to make it impossible for them to live their lives in peace ( don’t want a mob of them attacking me, the next time I’m in India, for ruining their reputations). If I have to take one more step, I would go on the record and say that they have always been an integral part of my life when I was in India, the ever present human GPS (on-star ? Garmin? who needs that when you have “Lucky” paanwala at the intersection of main roads 1 and 2), and if I have to take the word of my college buddy Kunal, they even provide notary services ( well Kunal also said many other things that later were verified not to be true). They were always there when you needed them, if I was a TV serial producer in India, I would obv target them for a series like NYPD Blue (Paanwala red?)

But this isnt a post about them.

Its just about that point in life when you realize that where you are is probably what you’ll achieve in life, a realization that sinks in and you make a choice either to feel happy about how far ( or not) you’ve come or feel sad about how far you actually wanted to go. My guess is given a choice of lifelong happiness versus the other thing, most people would choose this, without a doubt.

But why the Paanwala.

Well, its just that in essence I don’t think Paanwalas come to different cities as career choices by themselves. They all start young with visions in their eyes, some to make it big in the movies, some to probably open a different sort of “dhandha”, they all start with a small paan store, and 10 years down the line, find themselves exactly at the same point, probably a bigger store and more customers. By then those movie or the “dhandha” dreams seem less as visions and more as the “dreams” they started out to be. But not that anyone of them is really miserable about how life turned out to be, they just feel comfortable in their places, probably some of them happy too.

And that my friends is what I mean by the Paanwala point of life.

But why this now?

If I were to tell you I’ve actually reached that point in my life, I would have to be lying not because I don’t envision that happening to me, I think even by Paanwala standards I’m just “chotu” for now. What fun is it when you cant even have the entire store for yourself?

Well, I saw this post forwarded to me by my friend Shilpa, which rambled on and on about how we should feel happy about what we have ( though was quite inspirational and I'm not being held at gunpoint to say that, check it out for yourselves, ), and the one thing that struck me at the end of it is, Paanwala.

So have you reached the Paanwala point in your lives?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Forgotten voices...

In the immediate aftermath of the events of 26/11 in Mumbai, we all heard a million voices, an outpour of grief, rage and shock through many different sources. For its part Technology and the media stepped in as well. This was the age of twittering or tweeting, they said, and we all were amazed at how easily we knew so much without having to look too far. News had reached a new frontier, one that we had never seen before. It was as momentous as CNN's coverage of Iraqi Scuds hitting Kuwait in August of 1990, as fleeting as the concrete rubble through the streets of NY that fateful day of 9/11.

You would think something had changed right? I mean, with all this immediacy we should be in a position to do more to make people's lives better, to help our friends in distress. And we have. I think the world is more cohesive now than ever before, though the dark spots still remain. But the human condition is still the same right? Pain always is pain, and so is grief.Some voices are almost always forgotten. Except when people really want to make the change.

I know many people who said a lot of different things, the weeks after 26/11. From boycotting things to actual picking up a fight with some of them, from going out raising funds for the families of those affected to providing more information on the missing, I came across this wide spectrum of initiatives from people, some which fizzled out within a week, some that made their actions count.

One such effort came from a friend of mine, he wanted to raise funds for the families of the Police constables and Armymen who lost their lives or were incapacitated after the attacks, because usually the lower you are on the rungs of Indian bureaucracy, the chances are, you are usually forgotten. I just contributed to his effort but was really interested in knowing how he was going to do this and what the feedback would be. It took Krishna three months but surprisingly enough I received an email from him with the details of his endeavour. Most of the stories are personal, touching and show you that probably time is the only healer in all this.

These are some of the stories,

1. Shri Sudhir Marolia, fire fighter (Fractured his leg): Sudhir is a fire fighter attached to Bandra Fire brigade.On 28th Nov,in the Taj Mahal hotel, when the encounter was on, a hand grenade was thrown on the fire men while trying to save people from Taj. While trying to save himself from the grenade, he twisted his ankle. He was immediately taken to a hospital where an X-ray report seemed to be normal. He was told, it was just a sprain. This incident happened at around 6.30PM. He was then taken to his office (Bandra fire brigade) where he was still crying with pain, but his seniors ignored saying it was just a sprain. Later when he complained of persisting pain to his immediate senior and requested for an ambulance, he was denied stating that all vehicles are in operational in Taj and that he will need to wait. He had to wait till 2.30Am (29th Nov) till his reliever had come . Then he took rest till 5.00 Am and then he finally had to take a rickshaw back home.

Please note he earns only 8000 rupees (160 dollars) a month and has a wife and 2 children to support.

The Fire men in India aren’t provided a mediclaim insurance policy. They get a risk allowance of Rs.50 per month which has now been increased to Rs.500 after 26/11 attacks. The family was extremely in need of money and when a cheque was given to them (through the iniative) they were very happy and said they felt happy about the fact that even a common man thinks about them.

2. Shri ML Choudhari, Police Head constable attached to Railway police in CST station (He died in the CST firing):

The team met Smt Snehalata Murlidhar Choudhari' wife of 'Shri ML Choudhari' at their Ambarnath residence. They have a daughter 'Ms Priyanka' who is a graduate and wants to do her MBA now. She has now been offered a job at Saraswat Co-op bank. They have a son, Devesh who is in 9th std. The team spoke to 'Smt Snehalata Murlidhar Choudhari' almost for 1/2 hr. She was saying about how they came to know about this.

Normally Shri ML Choudhari would come home by 1.15 AM when he is on 2nd shift. On 26th Nov also, he was on 2nd shift and his duty was about to end in 1 hr when the firing took place and he had to stay back. When it was around 1.30 she got tensed and called up on his mobile. She was not aware of the firing at CST station. Her husband's colleague picked up the phone and informed her about the incident. She initially thought that it could have been a prank and thought she might have probably dialed a wrong number. Again she called up on her husband's mobile and then she was asked to come to CST station immediately. She still could not believe it and she thought that it could have been a prank by one of the robbers who might have caught her husband for few bucks at Ambernath station since it was late in the night . She informed the person to please take the mobile and money and whatever he wants and leave her husband. The colleague replied he wasn’t playing any prank and asked her to switch on the TV. That was when she came to know of the whole incident.

On the fateful night , he died along with his Senior Shri.Shashank Shinde after Kasab and Ismail Khan fired indiscriminately at CST station.

3. Gajendra Singh, NSG Commando (Died Smt Vineeta Devi, wife of martyr 'Shri Gajendra Singh' . The cheque has been sent through registered post to Army headquarters , South block, Delhi. I was liaising with Col Rawat who gave me all details of the family. He suggested that if I send a crossed cheque in favour his wife is sent to them, they will arrange to send it to his wife. Accordingly this has been done. Col Rawat also said, they are trying for a job for Smt Vineeta Devi in the Uttarakhand government. He also said , Shri Gajendra Singh's brother who is a driver with Police dept, is also having some dispute with the money. Hence Col Rawat has taken this responsibility of sending this cheque.

A little background about Gajendra Singh’s family :

It’s sad to say that, the last time Shri Gajendra Singh went home was on 15th Aug 2008, when his father died. And then it was on 26/11 when his dead body reached home. It seems Smt Vineeta Devi didn’t know about the operation as Gajendra Singh told her that he was in Delhi. But he was actually sent to Mumbai for this deadly operation.

Since childhood , he always had a dream to join to the army and he himself opted to join the NSG. He has 2 kids: Daughter, Preeti who is 10 years old and son, Gaurav who is 11 years old.

6. Arun Chitte : A cheque was Rs.25,000/- was issued to his wife 'Manisha Chitte' who has 3 daughters : Komal, studying in 3rd Std., Snehal, studying in 3rd Std and Kushi, who is in Nursery. The family lives in Mhada colony in Dharavi and owns 2 houses in that same building. She was offered a job in Police but she refused. Now that job has been given to Arun's brother. Also Manisha's brother has also been offered a job at Saraswat Co-Op bank. Arun had been working as driver for encounter specialist Mr. Vijay Salaskar for almost 10 years. He had been with him for almost all the encounters. Like his boss, he also never had any bad habits like smoking or drinking.

After our conversation with Manisha and her brother, we saw that she was confident of bringing up her kids.

7. Balasaheb Bhosale: : Rs.10,000/- .Asst Sub Inpector Balasaheb Bhosale was also killed in the 26 / 11 attacks. He is survived by his wife 'Sharda Bhosale' to whom we gave a cheque of Rs.10,000/- at their Naigaon police quarters residence and 2 sons ,Deepak, who is attached to Naigaon police station and another son, Sachin who has been offered a job in Mantralaya .

8. Vijay Khandekar : Constable Vijay Khandekar was attached to Azad Maidan police station. We managed to meet his wife 'Shradha Khandekar' at her Nagpada residence in police quarters. She refused to take donations since she said she was financially stable and wanted us to help others who are in need of it. So no donations were made to his family. Last week also 'Vijay's' name had hit the headlines. The Indian government had forgotten his sacrifice to our country and his name was listed in the Police routine transfer list.

Rahul Shinde: Rs. 25,000/-.Rahul Shinde is a constable attached to SRPF division in Solapur. Rahul was single and youngest in his family. His elder brother has been offered a job in Taj Hotel in Mumbai but his mom doesn’t want him go to Mumbai because she is extremely scared and doesn’t want to come to Mumbai. So he has refused this job. Rahul’s family lives in a small village in Sultanpur district in Solapur. Their source of income is farming. The team sent a cheque of Rs.25,000/- to his father registered post .

Shri Prakash More: Rs.10,000/- .The cheque was issued in name of his wife Mrs. Madhavi Prakash More. Shri Prakash More's eldest son 'Pratik' is studying FY Engineering from a college in Dombivali and his daughter, Anushka is studying in 8th std. Mrs. Madhavi Prakash More is working with a bank. She was away at work when the team had gone to their house. The cheque was handed over to Pratik in front of their neighbour as a witness at their Mulund residence.

Shri Tukaram Ombale: : Rs.10,000/- . The cheque was handed over to his wife 'Tarabai Tukaram Omble' . When the team went to his house, they got a chance to speak to his wife and his family friend . He has 4 daughters. 2 of them are married. The other 2 daughters are Vaishali, studying BA B 'ED and Bharati, studying TYBA. As they entered his house, next to his photo they saw the Ashok Chakra' which was given to him on 26th Jan 2009. It was because of Shri Omble that the cops were able to nab Kasab alive.

12. Jaywant Patil : Rs. 100,000/- .He studied till 12th Std. He then joined police force and had served for 17 years. While in the police force, he did his graduation by joining a night college in Bhandup. He was the trusted body guard of Shri Ashok Kamte (Asst Commissioner of Police, Chembur Zone) who also lost his life on the fateful night.

The terrorists had pumped 18 bullets into his body. He is survived by his wife 'Pratibha Jaywant Patil' and 2 cute kids, Esha, who is studying in 1st std in St Xaviers school in Bhandup and a 4 month old baby named 'Shaurya'. His naming ceremony took place just few days before this attack. Since now she is alone with her kids, her parents have come from Satara to stay with her. They will be moving back to Satara very soon.

13. Ambadas Pawar : Rs. 25,000/- . He is survived by his wife 'Kalpana Pawar' and 1 1/2 yr old kid named Vivek. They have been given a 2 BHK flat in Mhada colony in Sion - Koliwada where they have already shifted.

Spoke to Ambadas Pawar’s brother, father and mother. They are also currently staying with her in the new flat. They said they have also been allotted a petrol pump and Shri Ambadas's wife has been given a job in Saraswat Co Op bank .

Shri Ambadas Pawar was also in the same jeep in which Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare, Jaywant Patil were killed.

14. Mukesh Jhadav : Rs. 25,000/- . He is survived by 4 brothers, father and mother. He was the 3rd son. The 2nd son has been offered a job in Railways at Kalyan station. They have also been allotted a 2 BHK Mhada flat in Sion Koliwada.

15. Shri Bapurao Dhurdagde: Rs. 50,000/- given to the Shri Bapurao Dhurdagde's family at their Sewri residence. They live in a chawl-type constable level police quarters above Sewri Police station in Reay Road. Krishna personally met his wife and handed over the cheque to her. He has 2 daughters & 1 son. Eldest daughter is doing Computer Science from BVP college, Nerul and other daughter in engineering. Son is doing chemical engineering. I spoke to their eldest daughter. She appreciated our gesture to help the family. Mom didn’t speak much. She was still in a state of shock. She just came out to sign the acknowledgement and was silent.

Monday, January 26, 2009

the human paradox: revisited

And then there are stories and there are voices. Each story with different voices and each voice with stories. These stories have many words and when you read each word and close your eyes, each word creates a character. Soon, through your inner eye you see all these different characters each with a story to tell, finally converging in an orgy, not just any orgy, but one of syllables.

It is in this orgy that the syllables shine like monochromatic crystals viewed through a multicolored kaleidoscope, and no matter the distortion always finds its way into exact beautiful patterns. Each one of those crystals is chosen from amongst many grains washed ashore by random waves, the same waves that have been resonating through the ages with the frequency of the cosmic 'aum' and the 'amen'. The sounds from these waves find their way into notes which when heard together fill the mind with peace and the heart with passion and awakens the dreamy eyed demagogue that hides deep within our mortal dermi. a soul awakened by visions of its own voice and story.

this is the human paradox.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

where is that line?

ok, let me rephrase. Is there even a line. How should you react to these ghastly incidents that scar not only your pysche but also drive down that a deep hatred which seems to erupt in anonymity? What happened in Mumbai not only leaves us with questions about the relevance of Pakistan in our lives (as Indians) but also the relevance of the normal day Pakistani that you might bump into on the street. Why is there a shadow version of ourselves that tends to bring out the worst in us when hidden in a mob or a group, but as individuals we tend to think differently. I'm sure there must have been a million social experiements done to study this, but why is there no perfect solution to deal with this problem?

I've read and reread many articles on how to hurt Pakistan into waking up to reality without actually firing a single shot, the sort of Cold-War tactics used by the US to hurt a country where it really matters, economically, culturally or even pyschologically. But the thing thats different with the Pakis is this deep rooted feeling of brotherhood some of us Indians feel in times of relative peace with our neighbor. I dont think its a religion thing, its more to do with us wanting to take a higher moral stand, of always wanting to be in peace even during times of pain, of utmost restraint, the same restraint that our Government keeps reminding us, the same restraint the Western World urges us to show. But is the price of restraint worth it?

These questions are meant to be asked because for some of us who arent in the crowd, the anger or restraint we show happens more at a personal level. I've had all these questions running through my mind, because as an Indian in the US, I feel the anger and yet I feel anonymous to the cause. How should I react? Should I even react? The day after the happenings in Mumbai, I was in a cab driven by yes, a Paki. I was with my colleagues, each one with their own immigrant stories but I couldnt expect them to understand how it made me feel sitting in that cab. I sat next to the driver, while he started talking to me about Bollywood and how Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai were in his cab when they visited the city. I just smiled and said nothing, when inside me, all I could feel was the rage of being there. I knew my anger had nothing to do with him as a person, he was just a guy like me, trying to find his way through life. But all I could think of were the dollars I was going to pay him, which would in turn find its way to Pakistan maybe as a family remittance, and who knows might end up in the hands of the same group that sent people to destroy my brethren. After all they are all charities right? Maybe I was being simplistic about the whole thing, or maybe I wasnt. These thoughts made my head spin that I had to ask my colleague for an aspirin in the car. She didnt have one, and so what happens next, yes you must have guessed it, Mr. Cabi hands over a couple of aspirins and asks me to have it. I didnt know whether to feel relieved or even angrier. I just took the escapist route and fell asleep. The next day I left the hotel room, prepared for my presentation and guess what, my client was a Pakistani. I again, didnt know what to do. I had to be professional obviously, so I just kept it that way. No small talk, but we could feel the tension. What made the equation a bit skewed was us being three Indians to him being one. I wouldnt find that surprising though, there are after all a billion of us in this world. Though I always wonder what goes on inside the head of a Pakistani soon after these incidents ( they do happen pretty often) There is one thing I have realized though with my countless experiences with my neighbors. One-on-One they are probably the nicest people in the world. Its when they become bigger than a group of 20, that you start hearing the commentary. In any case we went out for lunch which was more or less in silence except for one colleague of mine who was Chinese and couldnt help himself from talking. Though at some point, my Paki client did mention that his wife was from India. I again didnt know what to say. I just said, Great.

Great? Who says that.

Some of these questions do have answers. Like the way my friends decided not to go to a Pakistani owned theatre or a restaurant. Maybe it doesnt matter to the business, but it did matter as a set of principles for them. Like the way, my friend decided againt buying a pair of gloves though they were perfect, just because they were made in Pakistan. Would it ever add up, I asked them. They said, they didnt care. Its the same petro-dollar argument new energy advocates use here. Less money for the Saudis, less money to blow us up.

They say you cant generalize. Not everyone belongs to the same mob. But isnt the reason we got to this point because we never had a coherent policy on what we should do. We need not hate, but do we need to love? Why shoot ourselves in the foot when almost 100,000 Indian soldiers have died in the Kashmir conflict and yet Atif Aslam signs record deals with Indian music companies. Yes, he didnt kill anyone and yes the soldiers may not have been killed by Pakistanis ( Afghans and Kashmiris also fought in that insurgency) but isnt it better to solve the leakage through one hole before opening up more taps? And note that I havent even started talking about the religion aspect of this entire conflict.

In the end, I think, all of us are just trying to find our way out for ourselves. So that we need not be the ones making that crucial decision whether to cut the umbilical cord or not. In essence though, I think Pakistan has already done so, a long time ago.

That Saturday night, I ended up thinking what my friends said, on my long drive home through the rainy streets of San Jose. Each one made a passionate argument, not on how to deal with this situation, but how they would deal with a normal day Pakistani. To me, it sounded idealistic, because of my own recent interactions. But they made their case and said they would stand by it. I though could only see two sets of images in front of my eyes. One of the chaos on the streets of the city I would swear by anyday and the other of me walking away from the cab, the minute I found out. The problem though, was, one happened and the other didnt.

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15 tonnes CO2 per year