Sunday, September 28, 2008

A heartbeat – A universe of possibilities…

It was 8.30 AM Sunday, I was returning home from a class. I was in deep thought, took the longer route home on an impulse. I was walking along the road,thinking.  Somewhere in the middle of the road, I stopped. I was so engrossed that I was actually unaware I stopped in the middle of the road. The man behind me shoved me and  moved ahead briskly. (Ah! It’s common in Bombay even on Sunday mornings!)

I was roughly pushed back into real the world. I looked ahead. A man carrying a small child was walking towards a roadside vendor selling sunglasses. Walking behind him were his wife and son. The Man was so happy at the prospect of buying his son a pair of sunglasses that his eyes were gleaming with a child like enthusiasm. I was watching them from the other side of the road. They were a not to well-to-do family, but were clearly enjoying trying out funky sunglasses, father and son trying the same pair, while the wife was watching them proudly. The father selected one, and evidently it was too highly priced. After some haggling, the father put that pair down and tried to go for something cheaper. After 10 minutes, the family dropped the idea and moved ahead. The kid was dragging his footsteps and while the father was looking around hopefully to buy him something else.

I could not help smiling. I moved ahead towards the bus stop.A woman and her daughter were passing by. The little girl slipped, and fell down. The girl was not hurt but it was the mother’s concern that again touched me. She was so worried about her daughter, fussing over her, dusting off imaginary specks of dust from her daughter’s clothes. All the time, the little girl and her mother were smiling broadly. I was smiling broadly now for such a nice morning.

I was in the bus now. Sunday morning, the bus was expectedly empty. The bus conductor came and I gave him Rs. 7 for the bus ticket.

“Arre bala, aajun 1 rupaye de. Paishe vaadle.” The conductor said. Please give one more rupee, the fare has been hiked. 

I was in a quandary. I had tendered exact change, and a  500 Rupee note was the only currency I had apart from those 7 rupees. The conductor had already printed the ticket.

Ekach note aahe, Paachshe chi!” I said. I have only a 500 Rupee note.

“Raahu de! Paachshe chi sutte nahi majha kade!” The conductor said. Leave it! I don’t have that much change anyway.

I was sheepish. It was only one rupee, but the conductor would be paying that from his pocket . It was only a rupee, but I was touched nonetheless.

A nice beginning to the day. Better things followed soon after. :D

Monday, September 22, 2008

20th September, 2008. Isb, Pakistan

A truck laden with explosives rammed into JW Marriot in Islamabad on the 20th September and what happened after that is too well known.

This is a war where no one would emerge victorious. Only victims would arise from the blast. These victims would then plot to create more victims and so on. The faces would change but everything else would remain the same.

I always thought that these things are a part of life and victims, though unfortunate, are a part of the whole process. My sympathies were with the victims though, but I always felt that this was their destiny.

This was the first time I knew someone who was affected. And I did not have the courage to call him up or to offer my sympathies. I knew whatever I'd say would be hollow and that I can, at best, be of no help.

After all, aren't we all useless, helpless, frustrated souls waiting for our turn..

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shantaram - The BIG book of Quotes!

It's high time I listed some favorite quotes from Shantaram. It was simply awesome. And an injustice to the book if I would not quote some really awesome ones.

When I started reading the book, I was not aware that it was not an ordinary book with an extraordinary story. The plot was mesmerising enough for me to choose my pick, but I was not simply not prepared to read something that would influence so much that I would think about it even after six months. The book was very hyped and unlike so many, this book not only lived upto it's expectations, but surpassed it by a long way.

The thoughts espoused are so profound, the ideas, the discussions are so thought provoking that you would actually stop reading the book mid way and ponder over what you just read and then marvel at them. To add to it, these thoughts find expression in the form of beautiful quotes. So eloquent and poetic that you would end up marking them on the book or jotting them down on a notebook. I tried marking the pages, halfway through the book I realised that it was a futile exercise. The whole book was littered with ugly marks and I understood that I wasn't reading something that was an everyday read and that I was reading something that would influence me profoundly.

The author is an Australian fugitive, who had to resort to armed robberies to satisfy his cravings for heroin. The book is an account of the eight years that he spent in Bombay when on run from the Australian police. From the Mumbai underworld to Bollywood across to fighting with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, Shantaram is an epic of a story..with some profound quotes.. I cant resist not listing some. Again, the author is at his best when sad.

The thing is, I can drone all night long when it comes to Shantaram and people who know me can vouch for that. So, I'd rather do what I intended to do with this post. Quote Gregory Roberts.


It was very difficult to pick up just sixteen from the book. But here's my collection:-


1. The biggest problem with corruption as a form of government, is that it works so well.

2. Once Karla asked me, "What characterizes the human race, cruelty or the capacity to feel ashamed for it?" I thought the question to be acutely clever when I first heard it, but I'm lonelier and wiser now, and I know it isn't cruelty or shame that characterizes the human race.It's forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would've annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.

3. Happiness is a myth. It was invented to make us buy new things.

4. Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart; every risk we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved.

5.Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be.

6. Men reveal what they think when they look away, and what they feel when they hesitate. With women, it’s the other way around.

7. I don't know what I fear more, the power that crushes us, or our never ending capacity to endure it.

8. A dream is a place where a wish and a fear meet. When the wish and fear are exactly the same, we call the dream a nightmare.

9. Nothing fits the hand so perfectly , or feels so right , or inspires so much protective instinct , as the hand of a child.

10. Love cannot be tested....honesty can, and loyalty....but not goes on forever, once it starts, even if we come to hate the person, we goes on forever because love is born in the part of us which does not die..."

11. At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us...what we should fear and dread, is that we wont stop loving them, even after they're dead and gone...


Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope.
Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.
In the end that's all there really is : Love and it's duty,Sorrow and its truth..
In the end that's all we really have - to hold on tight until the dawn...

13. We know who we are and we define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them.


"Sooner or later,fate puts us together with all the people,one by one,who show us what we could and should not let ourselves become. Sooner or later we meet the drunkard,the waster,the betrayer,the ruthless mind and the hate-filled heart. But fate loads the dice,of course,because we usually find ourselves loving or pitying almost all of those people.And its impossible to despise someone you honestly pity and to shun someone you truly love..."

15. There is nothing as depressing as good advice.  :D :D

16.  It's such a huge arrogance, to love someone, and there's too much of it around. There's to much love in the world. Sometimes I think that's what heaven is - a place where everybody's happy because nobody loves anybody else, ever.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ekta Kapoor's Suyodhan

Saw Ekta Kapoor's " Kahaani Humaari Mahabharat ki" today. I am a sworn hater of Ekta Kapoor but the Mahabharata fascinates me equally. I tried watching it and the very first thing that I noticed was that it started unconventionally with Draupadi Vastraharan. (Draupadi's humiliation) A twist in the tale was the last thing I had expected from Ekta Kapoor and I was also very impressed with the rich language used in the epic. The novelty wore off quickly as the costumes were such a turn off and also because I found myself inadvertently comparing it with the B.R. Chopra masterpiece that I grew up watching.

My Manager recommended me to watch the Ekta version again saying that she has tried to portray the relationships more deeply than her predecessor. I have read the epic many times and am a great fan but was intrigued by my Manager's recommendation. I saw it again and I won't lie. It was not as captivating as B.R. Chopra's and to be fair to Ekta Kapoor, he has set the standard too high. 
    But one thing that deserves a mention and actually is the reason for my post is that Duryodhan is called by his original name in the story. For the uninitiated, Duryodhan was born Suyodhan. Suyodhan means "A Good Warrior". It is because of his misdeeds , he becomes Duryodhan. The underlying principle is that as a child, he too, was born innocent and that his deeds made him a Duryodhan. His Choices shaped his destiny.

Not many know of this fact and it is good that this is being shown on television. I never believed that someone could be bad or that something evil. The concept of Good or Bad , Right or Wrong never made any sense to me. The Indian epics too, never showed anyone to be inherently bad. Be it Ravana, the renowned ten headed scholar or Shakuni , the loving brother. And the same can be said about the inherent good in the Indian epics as well. Yudhishthira, upon his death , is annoyed to see Duryodhana in Heaven. He being the most virtuous among men, had reached Heaven with great difficulty and just could not digest the fact that the evil Duryodhana was in  Heaven. Later, he is explained that Duryodhana had served his time in Hell and was in heaven for being a just ruler.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In the train Yesterday....

Was in the train yesterday. Me and a few office colleagues had planned to watch a movie for the weekend and were on the way. (We would regret it very soon. :P)

A fruit seller came into the compartment and was loudly merchandising his wares . 

"Santre le lo santre! Sirf Paanch Rupaye kaa Teen!" He said in chaste Hindi. Oranges, juicy oranges! Get three for only Five Rupees.

It was Saturday afternoon and the train was not crowded. The Fruit Vendor, apparently from Uttar Pradesh, was making brisk sales and enjoying the fact that he actually got a seat in the train to conduct his business.

A man selected some oranges and said, "Atta tuu Mumbaila aala aahe, Marathit bol, mee paishe deto magh."   You are doing business in Mumbai now, speak in Marathi, then I'll pay the Money. 

The vendor's expression became grim and he quickly sized the situation. The Man was seemed harmless and was smiling while holding the money in his hand. "Santre ghyaa, Santre.. !! Faktah Paach rupay laa teen." The Fruit Vendor yelled in fluent Marathi.

Pleased, the Man paid the money to the fruit seller. And the seller switched to Hindi again, talking in Marathi only when the Man playfully glared at him. It was apparent that the Man just wanted some fun at the innocent fruit seller's expense and the fruit seller's sudden burst of Marathi lightened everybody's mood. The vendor too, enjoyed the attention and the sales as well.

A tense moment had passed and in the end, all were smiling.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Saw the movie Swades today. I never liked lengthy movies and maybe this was the reason I skipped it until recently. A friend recommended it and I asked a dozen people before watching the movie.

The story is so touching and yet, so simple. The simple village folk, the quintessential postman, the heroine as the silent crusader and the old freedom fighter were too Hindi film like. They're also the kind of people that make a typical village in India.

The movie highlighted the glaring urban rural divide in India and is some sort of an eye opener for the people who believe that "India is shining." Leave the Internet, something as common as a telephone is a missing in parts of India yet.

I have never understood why would people leave the country for better prospects abroad miss the country some time later. If I were given a chance to go to the States or Singapore for that matter, I'd jump at the opportunity. My Grandfather came from South India and we made Bombay our home. Wouldn't it be the same with the States? Yeah, no one would call me their Own there.  But seriously, would I care? Isn't the world a global village? And then I look at the Charanpur village of Swades.

I am in a dilemma. One one hand , I'd want a career for myself with all the material wealth but I also want to play a small part in making the world a better place to live in.

I know that I'll live a better life abroad and would deal with people with better civic sense. Cleaner air, Smiling officials and Malls without security officers poking metal detectors at you. But again, the  fact that the situation at home is appalling is all the more reason for me to stay home and help my people.

In the end , it was a dialogue by a cook in the movie grabbed my attention and set me thinking in these lines.

These were the lines. And reader, if you give a second thought to it my purpose for this post is fulfilled.

"Apne aangan kaa ped, doosre ki chaukhat par phale phoole.. toh ghar ke armaan maati min mil jaate hain.. it's like..apni chaukhat ka diya..and giving light to neighbour's house.. "