Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chak De India!!!!

S and me had been to see this movie today and am I glad we did that. Just when I was beginning to think the genre of movies showcasing the "India spirit" was totally used up, there came this one which presents it in an all new light.

Though I would not go as far to compare it with Lagaan (that one was one of a kind), it would definitely be rated as good as Swades which I'd loved. It is worth at least one watch, if not more.
I loved the way a few critical points were addressed in the same movie. I'll list them down here to make my point clear:
1. The all pervading sense of patriotism in seeing our country's national team compete at the international level.

2. The attitude of thinking girls are meant only "cooking and washing at home" and "they can never compete like men can" and the general apathy towards women rampant in our country.

3. The building of teamwork, a bond that can overcome all obstacles and take the unit above an individual's gratification.

All the girls who essayed the roles of the hockey players in the movie look the part and have been selected with extreme care. A few of them stand out - Komal Chautala (a dimunitive Haryanvi with a well oiled tongue), Preeti Sabarwal (a good looking, tall, athletic player who shines the most on the field), Baljit (an endearing well built Punjabi lass who uses her fists as much as her mouth to good effect), Vidya Sharma (the married goalkeeper whose hubby and in laws play the spoilsports in her hocker career) and Bindiya Jain (the seniormost player of the team who embodies the "I'm jealous of the player who was made captain" spirit first and then the change over into playing for the team and take it to victory).

There are quite a few very good scenes in the movie, scenes that make you want to whistle (unfortunately I can't), stamp your feet in admiration and shout out "Chak De India". There are also some scenes which bring a lump in the throat and make you think how good it is to be Indian.

SRK has portrayed his role with the professionalism characteristic to him, he makes Kabir Khan seem very real, someone who you might have had the opportunity to meet or at least have read about in the papers. He uses the women's hockey team to achieve his dream of India winning the Hockey World Cup and in the process runs them through some gruelling practice sessions.

All in all, this movie is extremely watchable and I would recommend it to everyone who is Indian and to whom the whole idea of this new age Indianism is something to look forward to and to identify with.

Sorry for the cliche, but chak de India!!! You rock!!!

Eight Random Facts....

..about me. And yes, you will have to read through them, just to make my effort (of thinking about these) worthwile. :)

I picked this tag up from Shruthi's blog.

1. I am left-handed and I think it makes me one among few!

2. It is my fantasy to have a washboard flat tummy! Sigh...

3. I have actually read the Harry Potter series (from books 1 to 5) 4 times.

4. Sometimes I get tongue tied while talking to someone senior to me. Either I end up saying something different from what I meant to or I just jumble my words up. All the while, I have the correct words playing in my head.

5. I think the "Aviator" series from Rayban are the coolest ever sunglasses to have come out.

6. Though am not a big fan of chocolates, there are times when the urge to eat chocolate is bad, that I buy and eat a whole bar of Dairy Milk.

7. Patriotic movies or songs always bring tears to my eyes (though I'd never accept this in real life).

8. I blush very very easily.

For lack of enough people to tag, I pass this on to whoever wants to do it.

An Unusual Tag!

After this long hiatus, it is kind of unnerving to be writing again. Pixie tagged me with this one and it has been quite some time now, seeing she tagged me May end. So apologies to her for the delay!

I have to tell you 9 things that you don't know about me, only 8 of them are true. You need to guess which one isn't true!!

So, here goes:
1. It is very difficult for anyone to make me angry, I mean really angry. And if I choose not to lose my temper, it is impossible.

2. I hurt very badly when I see people who are not as well to do as others are. When I see them, I feel like the biggest loser on earth as I am not capable of helping them. I feel so helpless especially when I see their eyes.

3. I always dreamed of playing cricket at the highest level, but somewhere along the way very early, I lost the required focus.

4. I have known my wife for about 18 years now!

5. I love reading books. Anyone who knows me can tell you that when I'm reading I am hardly aware of what anyone says to me or what happens around me.

6. I am very unlucky when I have to get somewhere at a particular time. All the forces of the transport machinery and the weather will join hands in making me late.

7. I have walked almost 12 kms at a stretch with a good friend and that too in Mumbai itself - starting from VT to Haji Ali.

8. I hate food. I eat it only to survive, well if it tastes good, its just a bonus for me.

9. I believe in thinking that everything happens for a reason, and that in the long run, we do manage to take it in our stride, whether good or bad.

Am sure I've made it very easy for anyone who knows me to find out the one untruth in this pack of 9! So request you guys to not spoil the fun!

I tag anyone who reads through my tag and has not done this one before. Now that I've finally posted something (even though its only a tag) I hope I don't stop.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New House

Not many would be aware that we were scouting around for a house for a little over a year now.Finding a house and then buying it has a different meaning in Mumbai. People end up devoting as much time to the whole process as they would to their professional life.
With real estate prices being as they are currently (which is somewhere so high up there that it cannot be seen with the naked eye), one has to compromise somewhere or the other. We wanted a house close by to where we stay now so we could be within 10 minutes driving distance of both S's and my parents; we also wanted it to be a "good" flat - a 2 BHKin a nice apartment society; and the most important condition - one that we could afford.
Having to meet so many conditions took its toll and however many brokers we contacted, we weren't successful for almost a year. Then we decided to give it a break - "jab hona hoga to apne aap hoga". One Sunday in November, the broker called us to say he had a couple of flats to show us and would we be interested. My f-i-l and me went over to the broker's but from past experience we knew not to expect much. It turned that one of the two were already sold out so was out of the picture.
So we proceeded to see the other one - this was about a 5-6 minutes drive from my place. A 11 year old apartment building - at first glance it seemed very well mantained (it turned out to be that way even later on!). The house we were looking at was on the 1st floor and the current tenant was still living there. As soon as we entered the house, I was hooked - the reason for this was that as soon as one steps into the house, one has to climb down 4 steps and then get into the living room. Such a beautiful quirk is not something that one often sees in Mumbai and I loved it! It turned out that the rest of the house too was pretty much what we'd like - not to add the fact that the ceiling of the house was a good 12 feet high (normal height prevalent in Mumbai flats are not more than 9 to 9.5 feet)! We expressed an interest to take this further and returned with the rest of the family (S's and mine) in the evening and viola, all of us liked the place!
An on-the-spot offer was made, a few negotiations carried out and the deal was closed. Yes, it was that quick when it actually happened. Finally, after wading through the whole process of procuring a home loan, paying the Stamp Duty and Registration and getting possession of the flat from the old owner, we were able to step into the house on March 30th 2007 and say "This is ours now!". Since we do not need to immediately move out of my parent's home, we plan to give the new place out on rent for a year or so - so we are keeping the "doing up the place like we want to" part on hold for the moment. Whispers, "We also need to save up to do that anyway." We had the house painted and cleaned, got the electric points checked and refurbished and are now looking out for a family to rent the place to.
In the meantime, we had a grah pravesh puja done on the Apr 23rd. We started the puja at around 8:30 am in the morning and it went on till about 12:30 pm. All of S's and my immediate family were there. The havan certainly generated enough smoke and drove all the guests out of the house for a while. :) But at the same time, the smoke gave the hint of all that had gone into making that havan - sandalwood sticks, ghee, rice grains and a lot of other things. Must say that it smelled great. Along with the smoke, I also got the feeling of all "vighnas" moving out of the place. For some reason, I was feeling really emotional and mixed along with it somewhere there was a sense of fulfillment. Being surrounded by all my loved ones, being in a place which could well be my home for years in the future, knowing it was finally ours, seeing the happy look on our parents faces made the whole experience one of a kind.
Obviously, this was followed up with a sumptuous lunch served on banana leaves. Eating on a banana leaf always makes me more hungry and I did ample justice to all the food that was served. We spent the rest of the day there and people kept pouring in right uptil night. S and I were supposed to spend that night there and the rest of the family slowly petered back towards home leaving just S, her sister, my brother, a friend V and me there. We played Pictionary for some time and then my s-i-l, my brother and V too left.
S and me stretched out on the mattress and finally the exhaustion of the day did catch up though even that had a pleasurable sensation to it. So here we are now, with all the ideas as to how we will do up the house when we get round to it and loving the idea that we now own a new house!

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Found this very interesting matrix that one can make up for one'es self. You can get one for yourself as well.... I think many bloggers already have put this up on their blogs and it really looks kinda cool!! ;) So go get it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another Point of View.....

We Indians are an extraordinarily emotive lot. And not necessarily in just one way - we can slide from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other in no time at all. This clouds our logical side and fails to let us think of things objectively.

This is very well demonstrated in the collective public reaction to Team India's dimal ouster from the World Cup 2007. Agreed, it was a dismal performance and all the hopes of the Blue Billion riding on our team's shoulders crashed 100 feet below ground level. But it does not auger well to see the Press and TV channels flogging just the lone horse to death. In the name of "analyzing" India's exit from the World Cup, they have succeeded in whipping up a frenzy of allegations against the coach, the Indian captain and the key players; in driving public opinion to be so heavily biased against a few scapegoats that it is impossible to even expect a rational opinion on the matter.

Therefore, when in the midst of all this, I came across this letter written by a friend, Surya to CNN IBN, it was a pleasure to see that "missing link" in all the conversation floating around. Yes, this is Surya's personal opinion but at least he presents a logical argument to support his belief. This gem of a epistle may never see the light of day at CNN IBN, where Rajdeep Sardesai and his team are the original intended recepients which is why I thought of publishing it here on my blog so that at least some regular bloggers and readers might read it.

* Surya is the CEO of a Management Consultancy in Mumbai, with loads of prior experience in a host of organizations.

Below is the letter reproduced, as is:
"Rajdeep and team,
I know this is one of the billion opinions and I am not even sure you or anybody will bother to read this.
But, let me be part of a very small group that is pro-Greg Chappell. I do believe that Greg had it in him to make India a considerable cricketing force.
What does one expect of a coach? That he is a great player, a strong and aggressive winner, a hard worker, a sincere optimist and probably a few other relatively lesser, but important characteristics to add to that list. Can anybody in India ever accuse Greg of not trying hard enough? Ridiculous more, to even suggest that HE messed things up. WE did.
A little Bangladesh used Dave Whatmore well, because they simply followed him and supported him. The Lankans did the simple act of purely 'believing' in Tom Moody. And both of them were as accomplished, if not less, than a certain Bob Woolmer and poor Greg 'Lamb' Chappell. Only 'smarts' like India and Pakistan COACH coaches. Barring Kapil Dev, the Indian TV Channels are full of 'experts' whose knowledge of cricket, or achievements, are fractional, if not negligible, as compared to Chappell. Yet, they make nineteen to a dozen suggestions on what Greg should be doing at work each day. Giggle, chuckle!
Oh Great Indian Ex-Cricketing Experts on TV Channels, since when did the origin of a cricketer determine if he should have been a coach, you silly rattlers? Is it not cricketing ability that should determine who qualifies? Can't you accept a man who wears the Indian colours on field, sits beneath the Indian flag, works and dreams for the greatness of your country? Shameless! Ungrateful, of course! And some more unprintable adjectives to describe you all with!!!
Rajdeep & Co - Can you share this with Greg Chappell for me, and seemingly just a few like me, please?
'Greg, you are going to be judged by a country where no two men, out of a billion, can agree on the 25 best cricketers. The BCCI meeting you will attend will have members that have no clue what cricket it. Ha, ha, ha...Honestly, the country must see that meeting live on camera, like we do the Parliament meetings. I seriously want to see how Mr. Pawar, Mr. Shukla, Mr. Jaitley and gang will even settle on their seats to start a discussion on cricket with you. If you want to shut them up, all you need to ask is the ‘position’ between the 1st slip and the 3rd slip. They will huddle into a discussion and probably guess it as 'Cover'. They may slip a note to you to agree or lose your job. That's how we grew up in this country. You see, some of the BCCI guys run the country too.
'Greg, there are some captains of the 1970s, and some passengers of our accidental win of the 1983 world cup, who will censure you, even if they will never be counted in the top 5000 cricketers ever in the world, where you are, for sure, in the top 50. Go to Bermuda, Scotland, Canada, Netherlands or Ireland. You may gain lesser money-wise, perhaps, but respect and regard, you certainly will. They will obey and understand you too.
'Move on, Greg. We don't deserve you. You see, the two men who, allegedly, have no clue on cricket in this country are Rahul Dravid and you. Our ex-cricketers on TV are the ones who know best. And of course, the BCCI man that comes on TV.
'We Indians are a TEAM, do you know that, Greg? This is United India, where BOMBAY thinks of Sachin, BARODA of Pathan, RANCHI of Dhoni and the great BENGAL that only thinks of Sourav.
‘Don't waste your time here, Greg. You continue to be among the Cricket Greats, like Rahul would soon be acknowledged too.
'And yeah. We are a country that was never racist to humans. But you are a Coach, so we are absolved. You will remain a White man to some our darkest bunch of jokers who never achieved a thing for our country when they played.
'In ancient India, you would have been a 'Guru'. Modern India has no clue of ancient India, lesser clue on cricketing techniques. Good-bye Greg. Move to a better and a more grateful land.'
Rajdeep, we citizens rely on you to give a perspective. If we can't thank Greg and acknowledge his passionate contribution and efforts, the least we can do is to stop indulging in such diatribe.
This will not be read out on TV, I know. But I enjoyed writing it :)
This is Surya's point of view and am sure you would agree with me that he certainly makes a sound case. Comments are welcome but as usual nothing personal would be expected.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Age 4: Refusing to go out with my parents when they went to a friend's party / wedding, preferring instead to stay at home with my paternal grandmother. She sitting on the bed crocheting beautiful pieces that were later used to cover the telephone or as a table mat. Me sitting next to her in a make-believe airplane that was taking us to America. Me asking her if she would like to eat something on the flight - assuring her that she could get anything she liked, I only had to tell the "air-hostess". Hours spent enjoyably playing this way!

Age 5: My first ever friend - my next-door neighbour's granddaughter, one year younger than me. Playing kiddie games with her throughout the summer vacation and being very sad when the hols ended.

Age 6: Being petrified of playing with colours on Holi! Pressure building up inside of me one whole week in advance of Rang Panchami, evidenced by me rushing home from school, peering at roof tops with eagle eyes for the water-balloon throwing "monsters". Getting all teary eyed when my younger brother used to threaten to throw colour on me and complaining to my parents about it. Being on my toes all through the actual day of Rang Panchami ready to rush into the bathroom and lock myself in lest my friends decide to invade my home looking for me!! This continued right till when I was 14 years old.

Age 7: Staying awake alongwith my mom waiting for my dad to get back home from work; my parents are my strengths, my mom for all the unconditional love she has heaped on us, without ever complaining about the rigours we subjected her to and my dad for adoring us all throughout, and providing us with everything we ever wished for, many times depriving himself as well.

Age 8: Going to a neighbour's house and being fascinated with the complete set of the hard-bound "Hardy Boys" series. Borrowing those books one at a time and surprising my neighbour with the speed with which I'd finish one and return to take another. Visiting my my maternal grandparents in Mangalore; the thrill that I felt when I saw the huge house surrounded by so many different kinds of trees (coconut, papaya, mango, guava etc.), the fun that we had with my uncles and cousins; visiting so many other relatives and realizing what a big family we were a part of!

Age 9: Taking part in a drawing and painting competition with more than 200 kids taking part; going there escorted by my mama. Insisting on staying back after finishing my sketch and telling my skeptical mama that I would win a prize. And actually winning the second prize there!

Age 11: Feeling devastated about moving house, we moved from Khar to Borivli, then a impossible distance away as seen by my preteen eyes. Crying my heart out at being separated from my much loved school, all my dearest friends and a general feeling of sorrow of losing something really important to me.

Age 13: My first ever crush developed at the tuition classes I used to attend during my 8th class. Blushing in her presence without ever actually speaking a single word all the time. Being teased mercilessly by my friends then even though I had never even said anything about her to them.

Age 16: Walking to junior college on the first day with a group of 16 friends, and still feeling scared about being ragged!

Age 18: Making friends at graduate college that were to remain so life-long wherever they may be. Falling for someone for the first time ever and not ever having the courage to come out with it; though it was so evident to everyone else. :)

Ages 19 & 20: Bunking classes, hanging out in the college campus instead having discussions / debates on almost all the topics under the Sun with the wisdom of a Socrates. Having fights among friends that seemed so important then and seem so trivial now.

Age 21: Graduating with promises of being friends forever; getting into B-school! Yipee!!! Once again making new friends, friends that to this day give me reason to be thankful.

Age 22: Losing my paternal grandmother, she left a void in my life, never to be filled again and that remains to this day. Crying like a baby that time and developing a fever from that.

Ages 23 & 24: Getting my first job!!! Working late nights with the joy that only comes from earning your salary for the first time ever! Losing myself in it and still being happy. Knowing that the one I'd fallen for had found someone special and breaking my heart over it. And still managing to feel happy for her.

Age 26: Watching my dad talk about his son to his friends and hear the note of pride in his voice as well as see the glow on his face. Feeling a tug at my heartstrings and promising myself to give him more opportunity to feel that way!

Age 27: Realizing what S meant to me and acting on it quickly, before the opportunity was lost! Being gratified to know that S felt the same way too!

Age 28: Getting married to S, the happiest day of my life! Though the actual ceremony did drag on for long! The honeymoon that followed, one of the most idyllic times ever! How she is so different from me and yet we manage to complement each other; how she completes me and makes my life better in all aspects.

Age 29: My younger brother B, developing into a mature professional (is it really him?????)who'd already made a name for himself in his organization, with the promise that he was in for an extremely bright future! This kind of, completed the picture.

I don't know why I've listed all these down.... but I know reading through these does leave me with a hint of nostalgia for lost, long ago times, places and people as well as joy and happiness for all the things that I've gained at the same time.

Am sure every person has a list of such formative memories that make up their individual signature and also builds up the collage that is called life. How often do we stop and think about them? How much do they matter to us today? No, am not asking questions to anyone here. Just wondering - for that is all one can do.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I am Sad & Horrified....

....after reading this post on MumbaiGirl's blog. I came upon it accidentally but it has really shaken me up.

It is not a great statistic to have - almost every girl / woman has had at least one experience of molestation or forced sexual assault in her lifetime till date and this may be even as less as 7 years. Even the guys have not been spared though the frequency may be lesser than with women.

All of a sudden, I feel extremely lucky to have had such a un-tainted childhood. But at the same time, it makes me wonder what we are coming to when people would have to think about their childhood and consider themselves lucky to have had a normal one, something which so taken for granted.

Just thinking about those scores of men and few women who perpetrate such atrocities make me sick; what kind of mindset would these excuses for humans carry about? Do they even have any logic to explain why they act this way?

The worst part is that in most cases, they get away scotfree and are at still at large maybe lurking around for newer victims. And to top it all, people actually are derisive towards the victims if facts are out in the open, as if its all their fault that they were so abused!

Am really feeling sad!!! To think so many of the wonderful girls / ladies I have known over the years might have had to go through say nothing of all the others who I don't even know! :-(

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

To See or To Not See!

This one stems from a discussion with a female colleague. We had gone for a birthday treat today - for lunch at a nice small joint close to my workplace. A lot of office goers frequent the place along with a smattering of collegians. So one could say that the "crowd" is "good".

While we were just about finished with eating, my colleague D piped in with this question: "Why do all guys, whether they are single, committed, married or for that matter even widowed, ogle at pretty girls / ladies? Rather why do they have to do that?"

My take on the matter is that yes, mostly all guys do that. Yes, even the most decent "Can-take-home-to-meet-my-parents-and-later-marry" kinds do it. It would be stupid to presume that a attractive woman passing in front of a guy's nose would not be appreciated.

But this is exactly where the branching of views starts. This is where the word "ogle" takes on a different meaning altogether for the select few guys. These are those for whom "ogle" means "lech" - where even a completely dressed woman could get the feeling of being undressed by these staring eyes. These are the guys whose eyes taken on a glazed expression and the tongue lolls out salivating when a woman is in sighting distance. Note I did not say pretty, beautiful or attractive woman, for these guys any woman might have the same effect. Such men need to be kicked in a place where it hurts the most!

But such men are few in number thankfully. The rest would look at a attractive woman with the same eye that they would look at a gleaming BMW or Ferrari whizzing by them. They would have an appreciative look that says "Wow!!! She is gorgeous!!!" And believe me, the woman would not feel threatened by them - if at all they do take notice of the glances. Females are not called the "fairer sex" without reason. They do have the power to captivate when they know how to.

To get back, most guys would look once, maybe twice and then move on. Thats it!! Harmless appreciation.

And as far as I know, the same happens with girls as well. They too do appreciate "good-looking" guys when they see one. Yet again, its harmless appreciation! Yes, I agree the girls are not as vocal or free in their expression as us guys but the intensity of the appreciation is just the same.
And being a girl or a guy (all the different kinds listed in my colleague's question) does not make a difference in such a situation. Its all the same but for the few animals who move about disguised as humans. I guess what matters most is that the appreciation should remain just that and not cross the limits of decency maybe leading to stalking, eve-teasing or any such thing.

This post was just me voicing my thoughts aloud and is completely open to a healthy discussion. Everyone is welcome to post their opinions and in fact I'd like to know what you think about this topic. No personal attacks or rants please. Thank you.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Interesting Tag....

Saw this tag in Anumita's blog while browsing through her archives. Since she has asked anyone who reads it to give it a try, here goes:

I am thinking about: my wife's indulgent smile when she sees me doing something I really like.
I want to: earn enough to be able to spend without thinking a second time about it.
I wish: I could be more empathetic towards people I care about.
I hear: okay but I listen very well.
I wonder: how some people can just walk over other people without a thought to the effect.
I regret: not being able to keep in touch with some people very important to me. Also that I am sometimes very brusque in my speech with the people I love the most.
I am: very patient - sometimes it tends to make me complacent too.
I dance: with abandon, sometimes embarassing my wife in the process.
I sing: or try to, the songs which really impress me with strong emotions.
I cry: silently when I see anyone else in pain or sorrow.
I make with my hands: or have made stuff which might end up different from what it started out being.
I write: to express myself better than what I might have when I talked.
I confuse: acquaintances with friends - according to me, everyone is good, unless proven bad.
I need: to see S everyday before going to sleep.
And finally: there are still a lot of things I want to do, a lot of places I want to see and a lot of things I have to share with S.
Since writing this was very enjoyable for me, I'd like some others to experience this as well. So Shruthi, Triya and Lak are hereby passed the baton for now. All others who happen to read this are welcome to take this up.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mumbai Marathon experience!

Though this post should have been out at least a week or more earlier, a subsequent trip to Kerala with S prevented me from doing it earlier.

The Mumbai Marathon started off in 2003 with much fanfare. Over the years since, the number of sponsors have gone up exponentially - at the same time, public interest in the marathon has always been very high, so much so that people from all walks of life participate in the marathon. For the common man, a "marathon" conjures up images of well toned athletes, sweat streaming down their bodies, pistoning their legs up and down on a long long road having trained for most of their lives for such a test of physical and mental endurance.

The Mumbai Marathon pushed away these images and replaced them with something that was fun, rewarding and at the same time had some social responsibility attached to it. This did not replace the marathon in its real sense as there different categories to the Mumbai Marathon. These are enumerated for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the format - Full Marathon (approx. 42 km), Half Marathon (approx. 21 km), the Dream Run (approx. 7 km), the Senior Citizens Run (approx. 5 km) and the Wheelchair event.

My stint with the Mumbai Marathon began only in 2006 when I decided to try and do the Dream Run (the obvious run of choice for about 90% of the total marathoners) which was a distance of 7.5 km in 2006. The pre-marathon advice was that the Dream runners should start off their training program a month before Race day. I started off following that program but obviously there were many hindrances which meant that on the day of the run, I had practised for only 5-6 days. That I did manage to finish the run is another story altogether.

Cut to Jan 21st, 2007.

This year, the Dream Run was only 6 km (correspondingly, the number of days I had run before it was only 2!!). This year, I was running as part of a Corporate team - basically my organization had registered all employees who were interested as part of its marathon team. So we all were given bright orange t-shirts with my company logo emblazoned on them.

S, being a physio, is a part of medical assistance team at the marathon every year and is usually a team leader for one of the medical stations along the route. These medical stations do a great job keeping a look-out for runners who may be at the end of their tether and pulling them in for either plain resting or for the requisite treatment for sun-stroke or physical injury that they might have sustained. This year, S made sure she was at the 5 km point so that I would have to pass her on my way to the finish and she could make sure I was ok. She had also told all her colleagues at different aid stations along the way to keep an eye out for me and let her know if I was ok. :)

The day dawned (I was just about to say "bright and clear" but then I realized that it was only 6 am when we left the house). S, my younger brother who was also running and me. We also met another friend who was taking part along the way. Though the Dream Run was scheduled to start only at 9.10 am, we left early because S had to reach her aid station earlier.

** The Mumbai Marathon usually starts off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus (popularly known as V.T.) and the holding area for all participants is the equally well-known Azad Maidan.

The train we took from Borivli to Marine Lines was quite crowded, considering this was very early on a Sunday morning - it was no real surprise that most of the crowd were either marathoners or at least people on their view to see the marathoners run and cheer for them. I could feel a sense of exhilaration build up inside me coupled with a sense of dread thinking of the 6 km run which suddenly seemed quite a distance. Questions arose in my mind: Would I be able to finish the run comfortably? Or would I be sprawled out by the side of the road heaving with exhaustion or sun stroke or for that matter, with just plain aching legs? Well, I thought, all of that should have been thought about before I enrolled and not now.

Having gotten off the train at Marine Lines station, we dropped S off at her medical aid station and set out to Metro Cinema where my organization people had been asked to assemble. Obviously, having left so early, we were the first to reach there from our company. There were a lot of other people already there though, from different companies all indicated by their t-shirts, along with quite a few television crews. A whole contingent of Shiamak Davar's dance class members were present. In fact, some of them have even featured in almost every new Bollywood dance number that has come out recently.

Slowly but surely, the "orange t-shirt gang" grew and at about 8:30, we were close to 50. It was good to see the sea of orange - also it was a very different kind of feeling to see colleagues who I had never seen outside of office, maybe not even outside of their office desks in such a backdrop. By now, many other groups had also assembled there so the whole place was a riot of colours with varied banners and flags being displayed by each group. I was wondering if there were so many runners in just the Corporate section, how many there would be in the "individual" category.

After shooting a few pictures as a group for posterity, we moved towards the holding area in Azad Maidan. Inside there, we could see a lot of news reporters or popular TV jockeys interviewing celebrities and small-time starlets regarding their participation. The whole place was bustling with activity - the latest foot-tappers blasting from mammoth speakers, cheerleaders and dance troupes showing their moves on decorated platforms and above all the runners themselves, cheerfully pushing their way forward or chatting to each other. That was when I felt that I definitely would finish off the 6 km. Anything seemed possible in that kind of atmosphere!

Race time still found us trying to fight our way through the throngs and about at least a kilometer to even the start line. All of the sudden, the roads opened up and we surged forward towards the start line. The gigantic digital clock on top of the start line read exactly 9:25 when I passed through it. A couple of platforms erected on the left of the starting position had quite a few big shots from Standard Chartered as well as from the sporting and film fraternity. RJ Harsh from Radio Mirchi was on the other platform, urging people on through his constant commentary and leading the crowd in cheering the contingent from each organization as it passed. There was this huge thrill running through me seeing so many ordinary people assembled here for just this one cause, all differences forgotten with the sole purpose of seeing this event through to its finish. All thought of not completing, getting injured etc forgotten, I started making my way through the throng in front of me.

School children, collegians, aunties, uncles and peers were all there either walking or jogging as their age and condition would allow them. There were crowds on both sides of the road lining the barricades erected their to keep them out egging the runners on, cheering for people they did not know and might never ever even see again. It is events like these which bring people together, that let out such feelings of comraderie that people never even know exist.

There were many in varied costumes like Disney characters, dancers in those huge masks from Karnataka (I think its called Hexa Gaana Bailat - my friends from Karnataka may please correct me), a lot of Mahatma Gandhis (in fact, the coolest one of these was a gentlemen dressed like Gandhiji but instead of the so well known Gandhi glasses sporting a cool pair of dark Ray Bans), even a guy dressed as General Pervez Mussharaf. There was a contingent of young officers from the Mumbai Police, all able bodied cadets, their muscles moving as they jogged along. Music was playing throughout the whole stretch, changing from time to time but always there. There were groups of cheerleaders, either professional ones weilding pom poms and whistles or impromptu groups of youngsters doing their bit of cheering. Before I knew it, I had jogged for about 3 km and was on Marine Drive.

Here I could see choppers from the Navy circling overhead videotaping the whole event. Each time a chopper made its run overhead, all the runners would wave out enthusiastically hoping to get captured and beamed on national tv. Here the sun was making its presence felt and I could feel my stamina running down along with a lot of sweat. Even my legs were aching and promising to give way any moment. I knew that if I stopped, I would not be able to start running again so I refused to give up. At the same time, I could hear the strains of "Saare Jahan Se Accha" emanating from about 200 meters ahead. Moving ahead, I saw a whole band from the Navy sitting in a small enclosure on the promenade on the left and belting out such patriotic numbers. Believe it or not, even then I felt the hairs on the back of my neck and my arms rise - there was something so evocative about hearing those tunes here that I could possibly describe it. I was not the only person to feel that then and I could see many others take heart from the music and brush aside their exhaustion and make a fresh start.

A wide U-turn on Marine Drive would bring us on to the Princess Street fly-over, the end of which signalled the 5 km mark. Just before I hit that U-turn, I heard the crowd raise a huge cheer. I looked to see the cause of this and to my amazement, I saw the first of the full marathoners returning on the opposite side of the road with only about 3 km of their stipulated 42 to go. Just think about this, we dream runners were on an average taking almost an hour to run 6 km while these athletes were doing 42 km in just about 2 hours. What a treat it was to see them run, even in the state we were in. In fact, one can almost imagine the cheetah running captured so well on Nat Geo or Discovery, each muscles well defined and moving in tandem with the others.

The start of the fly-over being narrow, was very crowded so everyone had slowed to a walk whether they liked it or not. From the top of the fly-over I could see a huge number of runners still on Marine Drive making their way here. It was not a sight to be missed so I risked stopping for a moment and took out my digital camera and shot a few pics there. Moving on, I passed the 5 km marker. I could S at her aid station now, handing water to some people and also cheering at the same time. It was worth the whole effort to see the expression of relief and pleasure on her face when I appeared before her! A quick word, and a small bottle of water later I was on my way again gaining the final stretch of the Dream Run. As expected, with the end in sight, we all tried to make our way ahead much quicker and with a final burst made it past the finish line which was outside Metro Adlabs. I checked my watch and saw that it had taken me exactly 44 mins since I had started. The area behind the finish line was full of people congratulating each other for completing the run. I pushed my way out of there panting freely but with a sense of achievement.

I located a couple of my friends and waited for my brother and S to join us. While we were doing there, we saw groups of people joyously heading home. We too went to a near by Pizza Hut for lunch and had a leisurely time there and then made our way home in the train. Needless to say, we slept really well that afternoon and at least I had a dead pair of legs for the next 2 days. But here I am, already waiting for Mumbai Marathon 2008 (ahem...with dreams of trying out for the half marathon this time round but am quite sure that the Dream Run is what I will ultimately be a part of). More power to such marathons that foster team spirit in such a large way!!!

** I know this one is way too long for a post so excuse me, reader, if you do read through till this point.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

For you!

I was going through Viky's blog and I came across this. It so perfectly showcases the life, uncertainties and emotions of all married girls from our generations that I had to re-post it on my blog. Viky, hope you don't mind.
This one is for you, my l(w)ife!!! It may not always seem so but I do appreciate your being in my life with all I have!!!
Though all girls may not be unlucky enough to have been married into families that so thoroughly distinguish between their daughters and daughters-in-law, the element of uncertainty, that of leaving a set life back in their parent's home is ever-present. As guys, we may not fully comprehend what that feels like (which is why we could be insensitive to it at times), it would be better if at least we acknowledged it and helped ease out the change-over.
Addressed to: All the men of our times
Here is a girl,
who is as much educated as you are;
who is earning almost as much as you do;
one, who has dreams and aspirations just as you have because she is as human as you are;
one, who has never entered the kitchen in her life just like you or your sister haven't, as she was busy in studies and competing in a system that gives no special concession to girls for their culinary achievements;
one, who has lived with and loved her parents and brothers and sisters, almost as much as you do for 20-25 years of her life;
one, who has bravely agreed to leave behind all that, her home, people who love her, to adopt your home, your family, your ways and even your family name;
one, who is somehow expected to be a master-chef from day #1, while you sleep oblivious to her predicament in her new circumstances, environment and that kitchen;
one, who is expected to make the tea, first thing in the morning and cook food at the end of the day, even if she is as tired as you are, maybe more, and yet never ever expected to complain;
to be a naukraani, a cook, a mother, a wife, even if she doesn't want to; and is learning just like you are as to what you want from her, and is clumsy and sloppy at times and knows that you won't like it if she is too demanding or if she learns faster than you;
one, who has her own set of friends, and that includes boys and even men at her workplace, too, those, who she knows from school days and yet is willing to put all that on the back-burners to avoid your irrational jealousy, unnecessary competition and your inherent insecurities;
yes, she can drink and dance just as well as you can, but won't, simply because you won't like it, even though you say otherwise;
one, who can be late from work once in a while when deadlines, just like yours, are to be met;
one, who is doing her level best and wants to make this most important relationship in her entire life a grand success, if you just help her some and trust her;
one, who just wants one thing from you - your unstinted support, your sensitivities and most importantly - your understanding and love.
Are you man enough to give it to her?

I am.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The 8.03 am local - Borivli to Dadar

Time: 8 am

S gets off the autorickshaw outside the station, says bye and rushes off into the train station. I'm still paying the autowalla and receiving my change back. As I look towards the station, S is no longer visible swallowed by the throng rushing into the station. "Gosh, I guess I'm going to be late for the train again!", I think pushing myself into the crowd, elbowing my way ahead.

The 8.03 local is still there on platform number 3 - and I finally catch sight of S running along the start of the platform having made her way there after a good run. I jump onto the tracks off platform number 1 and cross over them to platform number 2 and jump onto it. Smiling, I wait for S to reach me having taken a shortcut. She joins me and we make our way ahead hurrying as we see the signal change from red to orange. She gets on to the ladies Ist class coach and I move on to the adjacent general Ist class which is already full of people crowding near the door and the aisle each vying for a comfortable spot - this could be hanging from the best position near the door or standing with your back against the partitiion walls on both sides of the doorway.

I slide into the narrow tunnel that is still open and even that closes as 3 more people get in behind me. Almost immediately, all the noise dies down. It is as if I've entered a library! Only the whirring of the overhead fans and a slight humm of the crowds still on the platforms reaches my ears. Imagine, the train has not even started yetand already I can't move more than maybe twist myself from one side to another to make myself comfortable (comparatively).

All around, people are either dozing or reading newspapers, books or even study material. Some, like me, are not yet in a position to take their reading material out of their bag and hold it up at reading level. I notice that the luggage rack has been taken out in this particular train - a grim reminder that the train blasts that hit us last year came out of bags placed on these luggage racks. This also meant that I had to commute with my bag hung off my shoulders.

All of a sudden, raised voices near the door proclaim the eruption of a argument. This had to happen, I think. Looking around, I exchange a few resigned smiles with others in the compartment. The following amiable conversation ensues:

Commuter 1: Hawa khaane ka itna hi shauk hai to khudki gaadi main jaoo..train main dusre log bhi hote hain...tere baap ki jagah nahi hai...
Commuter 2: Baap ka naam leta hai, neeche utar, dikhataoon...
Commuter 1: Terese darta hun kya, chal neeche!!!
Commuter 2: Jyaada aavaj mat kar, bahut dekhe tere jaise. Umar jyada isliye chup hun!!!

While this goes on, a few smart alec college kids shout out from deep within the coach, "Maar, maar usko!!! Chodna mat!!!". The surprising part is, immediately after this, all fall silent and the two commuters who fought are seen to be standing staidly next to each other as if nothing had ever happened. Everyone else falls back into a stupor.

With a slight jolt, the train starts off, right on time. Some of the commuters offer a small prayer to the Almighty for the well being of all fellow travellers and themselves, of course. Very soon, the train catches speed and the regular and soothing rocking motion starts. All the commuters are well settled in their respectively niches (actually half a niche maybe).

In precisely 4 minutes, the train reached the next station and began its slowdown signified by the shuddering we are subjected to. Even before the train comes to a complete halt, a mob of commuters zoom in wedging themselves in all the available air pockets that were still left over. At the same time, their eyes were roving around the whole place looking to see if there was any possible spot they overlooked in their search for a comfortable position for their journey.

*** At this stage, I would like the reader to note there at no stage have I ever mentioned a "seat". These things are meant for the very lucky and patient few and are often unheard of among us peak time travellers.

There is a lot of shouting of "andar chalo, andar chalo" accompanied by "bahut jaga hai, chalo andar" right uptil the time the train makes its exit. We are back into out settling down phase till we reach the next in line station. If one is to raise his head and look above, he would see a veritable sea of hands reaching upwards to hold the metal grips that line the whole length and breadth of the standing room in the coach. In fact, at this time there are at least 4-5 hands at each such grip. Btw, when I say hands, I actually mean that each person is holding on to the grip by only a couple of fingers so that others can hold on to.

Halfway through the 45 minute journey from Borivli where I stay to Dadar which is the closest railway station to my place of work, I develop this unsatisfiable urge to scratch at my nose (you know that temporary itch that develops when you least want it to and when you are in no position to do anything about it). I control myself for about 2-3 minutes and it is getting unbearable now. The only option I have is to rub my nose against my arm which is holding the grip above me. So I venture to do the same very carefully so as to not disturb the equilibrium we are in now. I rub my nose against the arm and the relief in my nose is instantaneous. At the same time, there is the realization in my arm that something that should have brushed against it (my nose) has NOT done so!!!!! Thats when I realize that inadvertently I had wiped my nose against the arm of a person standing next to me!!! I hand it to the tolerance of that guy that he overlooked the whole thing altogether (I did apologise to him, of course).

Post this incident, a conversation takes place between two college-going students about a third friend who wasn't present. The basic topic of discussion is how this friend istrying to "patao" his tuition teacher's daughter. While this "hot" topic is being discussed, I see a third commuter standing right behind these 2 kids. Being much taller, he towered over them from behind, his head kind of hanging right over them. Not able to keep his ears away from the talk happening so close to him, he was busy listening to them speak. I have termed such people as an IP, short for "Interested Party". Basically these are the fellow commuters who get so engrossed in other people's conversations that even though they do not actually speak up, you would see them shake their heads in affirmation or dissent, their expressions would change with the tone of the talk - sombre when the talk is serious, gay when the topic fun, argumentative when the talk is such. In fact when the people actually having the talk become silent (for whatever reason), the IP has a plaintive interrogative look on his face as if saying, "Come on now, it was going so good, what happens next??? Don't keep me in suspense!" :-) To observers like me, this looks so funny that I can hardly control my laughter!!!

Within the next 10 minutes, the trained breezes though Mahim and Matunga junctions and finally after that truly engrossing journey, I alight at Dadar and make my way to my office thinking of the day ahead. Imagine, we do this everyday - that too twice (the return journey has a class of its own!)!!! It is not said in vain that the Mumbai locals have a life of their own and can be termed, quite aptly, a world within a city!

I'm back!

Hey, I'm back!!

Admitted, after a long hiatus, but at least am still alive!

A new job means a lot of things, but mostly it means a period of new friends to make, new relations to forge, a new reputation to construct, a new yourself to discover and many other such "news".

The flip side to this is that one tends to neglect one's old life, the things you've left behind. One's routine goes for a toss for that interim period. Its all somewhat like a vibrating guitar string - when at rest, its perfectly still, one pluck and it starts vibrating, moving away from its resting place and then finally comes to rest after some time to the same place.

Well, I've come back too!! Hopefully should be able to write more from now on. Hoping the few friends I made on here and the ones from out who used to read me have not given up on me. Till later.....