Saturday, November 21, 2009


Posted below is a snippet of conversation between 2 people as heard by the writer, either during his early morning walk on the beach, or in his dreams (he is not very sure about the place). As the writer’s senses were a bit muddled when he was hearing this conversation, he has used some writers’ license with respect to some proper nouns by giving them names which he feels sound similar to what he heard from the two people. The writer assures us that the conversation which took place is not a figment of his imagination (though if it did occur in his dreams he might go back on his word) and that the views expressed are purely those of two individuals with whom or with whose views the writer has no association or affinity. The writer also warns the readers that they may correct the doubtful parts of the snippet (marked by “??”) in the comments column below, but at their own personal risk and that he will not be answerable to their corrections.

FRIEND 1: I am really confused about my career.

FRIEND 2: Me too. What are the options you have in your mind? Let’s discuss them and arrive at a conclusion.

FRIEND 1: I was thinking of, maybe, becoming a media person…A journalist or a reporter, something like that…

FRIEND 2: Now now…don’t get too hasty. Didn’t you see what happened to those CMM-IBM (??) journalists? They were attacked for criticizing Shin Seva (??).

FRIEND 1: Yes I did. But I will stay away from all that when I become a reporter.

FRIEND 2: Oh come on! Do you honestly think you will become a celebrated reporter if you shy away from Shin Seva, the most happening party in India?

FRIEND 1: You have a point there. Ok, No to media. What about, maybe, a public figure, a celebrity?

FRIEND2: Oh no. Absolutely no. You have to make national statements on TV and in papers. And look at what happened to Tachin Sendulkar (??). He told that he was an Indian and was heavily criticized by Mr. Pal Tacker (??), the Shin Seva leader. He became so afraid of being attacked by Shin Saiviks (??) that he refused to leave the cricket pitch even after the opposition captain offered to call the day off. People might say he was nearing a century and so only didn’t leave the field, but I am sure this was the main reason.

FRIEND 1: That’s true. But if I become a celebrity I won’t crane my neck into these controversies. I would rather highlight Shin Seva’s contributions towards National Interests.

FRIEND 2: Now, either you are exercising your paradoxical muscles or I completely heard you wrong. Did you just use Shin Seva and national Interests in the same breath?

FRIEND 1: I get your point. So it’s a No to public figure as well. What about, maybe, a Banker?

FRIEND 2: Hmmm…what qualifications do you possess which you think will help you?

FRIEND 1: I have finished B.Com. I have been preparing for banking exams for the past six months. I am sure I will clear the exam. I have a 6 month internship experience in a private bank.

FRIEND 2: All that is very good. But do you know Marathi?

FRIEND 1: How does that matter?

FRIEND 2: Didn’t you hear? People from other states cannot work in Maharashtra Banks. They are eating into the Marathi quota, according to NMS (??) leader Mr. Rai Tacker (??). Soon he is going to bring this amendment to all industries in Maharashtra.

FRIEND 1: Can’t I work in other states?

FRIEND 2: You must of course be sensible enough to realize that this rule will slowly be applied all over India. You must be knowing by now that taking parliamentary oath in Hindi is punishable by violence. It has to be done in Marathi. So, it is only a matter of time before Marathi becomes our National language. Hence it is absolutely necessary for us to know Marathi to have a career in India.

FRIEND 1: So, No to banking also. What other options are left?

FRIEND 2: We need to take Marathi lessons. That’s the only option.

FRIEND 1: You are right. Hey!! I have a better idea. Why don’t we join Shin Seva or NMS? That way we don’t need to spend money to learn Marathi as they will make us learn it. We will be free to carry out any form of Violence on whoever we dislike in the name of oppression against Marathi Criticism. And if we perform our duties to the letter, we will be making innumerable appearances on news Channels, CCTV footages will capture our real life stunt sequences and we will become famous in no time. Who knows we might become MLAs also some day. What do you say?

FRIEND 2: Brilliant!! What are we waiting for? Let me go and book tickets for Mumbai. Thank you for the ingenious suggestion…

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Hope- A simple enough four letter word. Fuel- another simple four letter word. When these two simple words precede the most complex four letter word- Life, the sentence thus formed gives the eternal meaning of existence. Hope fuels Life.

This meaning was all but lost in little Camara’s deserted village near Ethiopia. Plagued with all sorts of epidemics ranging from meningitis to malaria the scent of death loomed large over this fast extinguishing tribal village. Eight out of ten people who came down with fever lost their lives for want of medicines and it soon became a preconceived notion that a person who came down with fever would ultimately lose his life.

Such was the case with twelve year old Camara. He lay motionless on the straw strewn floor of their mud house. The local physician or Shaman had given up all hope. Camara could hear the conversation between his father and the old man. Apparently, his days were numbered. Though his body ached all over, his eyes swelled with infection and his head swam with drowsiness his senses were still sharp. What was going on around him was a pre funeral, he realized. Everyone looked resigned and defeated. Camara did not want to die. How could someone only twelve years of age die? Surely he should live. He couldn’t understand why the Shaman did not give him any herbs, like the ones he had given to Abu. Or why he didn’t try to drive the evil spirits away from Camara’s body, like he had done to Bwana. Both Abu and Bwana were more than thirty years of age, and he was after all twelve. He wanted to ask all of this to his father or to the Shaman but he could barely open his mouth. So he lay there, fighting…praying…

Assefa entered his village after six years of struggle as a contract worker in the capital, Addis Ababa. Having scurried like a winter apprehensive squirrel, he had managed to save a small fortune which he intended to invest in developing his beloved village and its people. The abundant energy waiting to burst from his inside was met with unnerving stillness and gloom all around him as he walked on the empty streets leading to his house. The massive crowd outside his house belied the pin drop silence inside it. On entering, he was met by pairs and pairs of dejected eyes, all except one pair- That of Camara. Though swollen and watery with infection, they didn’t show pain or dejection. On the contrary, they blazed with fight, with spirit. Assefa was flabbergasted by the news of the waiting to happen death of his brother. “I am going back now. I won’t return without a cure”, he promised and took off.

Next day, as the sun rose above the wintry horizon, a new sound accompanied the usual chirping of birds and howling of dogs. It was a shriek of joy coming from the distant north street. As people gathered around to see the source, a single figure, flushed in the face with signs of victory, came running towards them holding a gleaming phial of liquid in his hand. “I secured the medicine”, Assefa shouted to the scattered cheers and generally puzzled silence of his onlookers.

Assefa looked at his brother’s face and whispered, “You are not going to die. I have the medicine that will cure you. You are going to get up and run about in no time.” The eyes gleamed even brighter.

The surrounding glum had transformed into tense expectations and a flurry of hopeful murmurs as drops of liquid fell from the phial into Camara’s mouth.

All it took was 48 hours.

Camara’s father gazed lovingly at the little fellow chasing stray dogs around with a tyre and a stick. He then turned to his elder boy who was sitting beside him. “We owe it all to you, my boy. That wonder medicine you brought saved your brother’s life”, he said with tears in his eyes.

Assefa remained quiet for sometime. He then turned and looked at his father. There was a triumphant glint in his eyes as he said “All I gave Camara was a phial of Sweetened Water. He was cured by the medicine inherent in him. The medicine called Zest…The medicine called Passion…The medicine called HOPE…”

Footnote: The unorthodox cure mentioned in the above story is termed as ‘PLACEBO EFFECT’ by doctors, where in a patient is given an inert medicine and made to believe that he is going to get cured by it. Though medical experts may name it after renowned professionals, for laymen like us it will always be known as HOPE…

Friday, November 6, 2009


What can bring us a cornucopia of feelings such as laughter, tension, exhilaration and sadness all inside three hours? Do you think only movies can do it? Think again. One man did it yesterday. He brought the whole nation to a standstill with a display of batsmanship that was beyond magical. He made us laugh with joy; he made us fall out of our seats in tension; he made us cry out of despair. I will never forgive myself if I don’t let out the emotions that were coursing through me yesterday into a written form as an ode to the legend of cricket. He has been my idol for fifteen years; the sole motivation for me to follow the crazy game of cricket; one of the reasons for my reluctance to leave this country- Sachin Tendulkar or, as I call him more often than not, Kadavul…GOD.

When Sachin started his innings yesterday I sensed that familiar glint in his eyes. Here was another chance to show his undying passion for cricket and commitment towards India. He batted in a surreal fashion, with nimble feet and amazing bat speed that reminded me of the year 1998 when he scored centuries at will and took India to series victories single handedly. It was once again down to that ritual of switching off the television once Tendulkar made his exit. But when he made his exit with just 19 runs required in as many balls, you would naturally expect the rest of the players to finish it off. Unfortunately, lack of temperament and patience did India in once again. An epic innings by a phenomenal legend ended up pyrrhic. It is not often that a batsman scores 175 runs in 139 balls only to end up on the losing side. But in sachin’s case it is quite common for him to bat as if he were saving his life only to be killed by his own teammates. It must have been the second time in his cricketing career that the champion cried; all cricket lovers will of course remember when the first instance happened- Chennai 1999. Both the cases are starkly similar. Sachin was the lone warrior in both of them. Sachin carried India to one foothold below the peak only to watch his teammates join hands in a combined suicide effort. He battled back pain and Saqlain that day. He battled the odds and the Aussies yesterday. Both turned out to be unfruitful, while both were a god given privilege for cricket lovers. All said and done, there is only so much a person can do. Sachin has done more than that for this team and for his country.

There might be recreation of the magic in the next game in Guwahati or the final one in Mumbai or in both of them. But none will come close to what this particular laborious attempt might have meant if India had sealed a victory yesterday. It was one win Sachin wanted badly and his teammates chose to let him down in pursuit of that. I couldn’t help but cry when he spoke at the presentation. It was the third time I cried after a cricket match…all three of them were because of one man-Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Vijayan was aghast. Terrifying memories came flooding back as he witnessed the sight before him. He had endured a nerve wracking week of listlessness, starvation and insomnia after that particular incident. Even after three decades he could vision that fateful day in such kaleidoscopic fashion…

The competition was down to three. He was one of them. His hands were bloody and sore after four hours of non stop action. But it was all worth it. If he downs two more, his long standing dream would be realized. He was already at the top as far as number of kills went, but the last one standing was all that counted. He maneuvered his weapon with the skill of a professional, directing it towards the next target. With the familiar feeling of coursing adrenaline he pulled…down went the next one. And, so there were two.

As he lowered his hold in order to relax his muscles he heard an ear splitting scream from down the street followed by a deafening crash. Immediately he pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. Holding on to it, he raced down the street. The sight that met his eyes scared him to death. A motorist lay on the ground having crashed head on with a lorry. As people started to gather around, he caught a glimpse of something familiar entangled with the handlebar. There it was…the one precious thing he cherished, his Kite. He couldn’t believe it. His kite had killed someone. At least, it was the main reason for the deathly accident. When he had lowered his hold in order to relax, the glass coated string or Maanja, as it was called, had cut into the innocent motorist’s hand forcing him to lose his balance and crash onto the oncoming lorry.

Numb with shock, the only thing he managed to do was drop his string and make a dash for his house. The following week was the worst one of his life. Every knock on the door felt like the sound of doom to him. He pictured policemen barging into the house during a relaxed family dinner or the routine after dinner banter and drag him out. How he wished he had heeded his father’s advice and flown his kite from the terrace. But, as always, he had been indifferent towards it. It was only when he heard that the policemen in the area had issued a warning to all kite flyers and imposed a ban on the sport, but were not arresting or doubting anyone for the mishap as it was an accident, that he began to relax a little. But the guilt inside him remained forever.

That was thirty years ago, but still fresh in his mind. Ever since that incident he never got used to the sight of children flying kites, though he managed to put it out of his mind a few hours after seeing someone with the dreaded string.

But this particular day was something different. It was not any other kid. It was his son. With the same fierce passion in his eyes and the skilled nimbleness in his fingers he was flying a kite. A Maanja threaded kite.

He marched over towards the youngster. “You are to return home this instant. And, if I ever catch you playing that horrid sport again, be prepared to face severe consequences”, he bellowed at the horror stricken boy. With that, he caught hold of the Maanja and snapped it into two.

As he lay in bed that night reliving the afternoon’s happenings, he felt a stab of guilt. When he was a young boy, Vijayan had never given respect or even a courtesy hearing to his father’s words. But his father had never gone ballistic with rage even on one occasion. With calm understanding and careful reasoning he had made Vijayan realize the mistakes he had been doing. Even the seemingly unimportant advice of flying kites from terrace had turned out to be a life changing one for him. Still, Vijayan had never confided in his father as to how sorry he felt for all the disrespect he had shown in his younger days. Though he had started following the older man’s words and giving due respect to his experience, he had failed to overcome his ego and open up his heart to his father. Now the old man was no more. He had died a peaceful death two years ago without hearing about the sea of change he had brought about in his son’s perception of life.

Suddenly a warning bell sounded in his mind. What if his own son turned out like him? With such an understanding father also, Vijayan had rebelled for most of his childhood. What would have happened if his father had treated him the same way as he was treating his son now? He would have surely rebelled more, and would have even hated his father. What if his son started to hate him? Vijayan had never exactly been an understanding father. He had always taken the easier route…scold, punish and on instances such as the one today, impose a ban. He never felt the need to see reason. He had failed to understand the finer nuances of fatherhood, even after being under the wings of an almost perfect one. He decided to take the first step today.

Vijayan’s son was lying on the floor staring at the ceiling as he entered the room. There was a look of fear mixed with defiance in his eyes as he saw Vijayan at the door.

“For how long have you been flying kites?” asked Vijayan softly. The boy relaxed a little at the tone of his voice. “Just a week”, he replied and after an uncertain pause added “I was really starting to like it Appa”. Vijayan smiled. His son looked relieved when he realized that his father was not going to scold him.

“Do you have competitions as well? With the boy in possession of the last kite standing being declared the winner?” Vijayan asked.

“Yes Appa. Today was, in fact, one such competition and I was one among the last three”, replied his son with enthusiasm.

“Good. Now, can you promise your Appa one thing?” asked Vijayan.

“What is it Appa?” asked his son, nonplussed.

“Will you promise me that next time onwards you will fly kites from the terrace only and not from the ground?” asked a smiling Vijayan.

He could see the brimming of happiness in his son’s reply. “Of course I will”.

“Does that mean I can take part in next week’s competition Appa?” he asked.

Vijayan could feel the eagerness in his voice; he could feel the joy within him waiting to burst its way out through a ‘whoop’ from the mouth and a close fisted punch of the air. But apart from that, he could also feel the respect in his son’s voice.

“Go for it Son…go for it”, he said. He was sure his father would have approved of it…

He then heard the phrase “Thank you so much Appa” two times…The first one aloud from his son’s mouth…the second one, silently in his own heart…