Tuesday, 20 May 2014

2 Biblical Questions

What do you want to become when you grow up?

I was always intrigued by this question when I was growing up because it seemed to be the favorite one for everybody – teachers, relatives, family friends, neighbors and the likes. Though I would have loved to have an answer like most of my friends did – “I would want to become an engineer or maybe a doctor.” (You can see they even had an alternate option, just in case) - I was confused. What I wanted to become or could not become seemed directly related to the subjects I hated or failed in school. Although as a child I wanted to become an astronaut because the sky fascinated me, by the time I was 13, I realized that it was not going to happen considering I was miserable in Math and Science. Even if managed to become an astronaut in my wildest dreams, I would be one of those ‘drifters’ who could not understand the ‘science’ behind speed, distance, time etc. to reach the desired destination! At the same time I could not find a ‘subject’ that would help me say – “I want to become a singer but I don’t like Indian classical music or I want to become a race driver because I am fascinated with cars.” I must admit that in a few instances I did manage to tell people that probably when I grow up I will sing or race cars, but such answers from a 15 year old were received with utter disbelief especially when everybody else was preparing so hard to get into the best engineering, medical or business colleges. It was ok when I was 5 years old to say that I want to become a singer and relatives would drive me nuts to sing a few lines in every birthday party. I could also get away by saying that I want to become a painter and the general reaction would be – “oh that’s so sweet.” But by the time you are 15-16 you got to be more serious. If you still say you want to become a painter, the general reaction would then be – “ohhhhhhh…Interesting.” (But why did you waste your father’s money by going to school?!) Few days back, thanks to an office project, I read about how formal education is the biggest deterrent to creativity. Today I am proud that formal education never found anything in me to be proud of!   

That brings me to another question. Did they ever seriously teach us in school how to be good human beings? Yes there was a subject called ‘Moral Science’ in which everybody could pass by writing a few good things about God, (with due respect) but was this ever a serious subject matter? I never got told off by anybody for not doing well in Moral Science and neither did anyone seriously appreciate someone for being good in the subject. All that good that exists in me is purely because what I leant from my parents or by being in good company. So when people like me, formally educated, cannot say that I learnt the ‘science’ of being a good human being in school, expecting uneducated people to be morally good is cardinal sin.

Literature was boring. Science & Math I could not decipher and so I choose Commerce for college. Not by choice but by design. So school was the last time I encountered Science and majority of Math I ever learnt. Education post that was fairly easy but I still never tried to answer what I would want to become and that probably was the best decision of my life. I was open, had no preconceptions or benchmarks. I always gave my best shot to everything that came my way thinking that this is the best that could ever happen for me and this is what I was always meant to do. Surprisingly there always seemed to be better things around the corner. Like someone very wise once told me – “Arranged marriages work because the nice things, no matters how small, give you happiness that is far larger compared to love marriages where the small things are often taken for granted as the expectations of a ‘dream relationship’ is so high.”

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

This is the question the person taking the interview finally asked me on this date exactly 10 years back. Little did he know that I had come for the interview just because I was promised a few bottles of beer by a friend whose elder sister ran the local placement agency. I was just filling the assembly line so that she could earn her incentive which was dependent on the number of eligible candidates she could summon for the interview. That was the first and last interview I ever gave. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Every Son's Dream

He told me once..."Behind every pretty girl there is a boyfriend who is fed up. So never give up!" He brought me my first beer and said “You will drink anyway, even if I stop you. My father stopped me too...But I did start drinking. So the first one, you will drink with me because you will have to learn how to drink”. Every big party he would tell me “It seems like there is too much blood in your alcohol stream.” Then just before my marriage he told me “By all means marry, but always remember it’s a bloody tough job. It’s the biggest test of being a man. We can go to war and conquer nations but marriage is a different ball game my son!”

It’s difficult to explain in a few hundred words what this person is or what he means to me but there are two things that I can write in blood – Firstly, every son should have a father like him and secondly, he is strongly responsible for whatever I am today. Superbly charming, great storyteller, fantastic cricketer, brilliant singer, avid reader, absolute believer of truth & honesty, hard worker with a never say die attitude and fifty years ahead of his time. If all of this is not good enough to measure the success of a person, I guess most of us will fail very easily. After all, money is not the end of everything in life. Times were never easy when I was growing up but he never gave up. Today if I have a life that I am enjoying, I am not ashamed in accepting that it would have not been the same if he would have thought or done things differently 20 years back. If I am ever born again…I will for sure want to be born as his son. 
Of all the great things that I have tried to learn from him, the following stand out as most significant:

Always give your best, no matter how difficult the situation is. Do not worry about how you will be evaluated because that is the only thing that is not in your control. As long as you are true to yourself...you have succeeded.

Never run after money because you will never have enough of it. Look around and you will see so many people who have so much less than what you have. Give as much as you can and somehow, somewhere, someday you will get something in return. It may not be money but it will be a lot of satisfaction or happiness.

Everyone will give you pain. The idea of life is to figure out whose pain is worth it and you will always be happy.

You will never be able to prove if there is God, but you will always get opportunities to prove that within you is somebody called you.

Forgive and forget. There are too many good things to remember. 

Finally, don’t take life too seriously…because life for sure does not take you seriously either. 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Father and The Son and The Sea

I've been trying to follow the wind,
Trying to run away;
From the echoes of the sinners and sins,
Give truth a chance to win.

I've been trying to find the world,
That was once so full of love;
Not in shadows of wars and rage,
In the books of the lord above.

I want a dream that helps me to see,
The place that I have left behind of me;
And if any song can take me where I belong,
I will sing it till the end, no matter how long.

I've been lost in the mirrors of hope,
Staying calm but trying to cope;
Waiting for the shining ray,
That promises to show me the way.

I want to see the children play,
I want to take their pain away;
And if you ever see my distant dream,
Paint it with love; help it flow downstream.

I've been walking in the thin line between,
The father and the son and the sea;
Each trying to make me agree,
While I am trying to set myself free.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

One Tight Slap!

The slap was such an integral part of growing up that I miss it sometimes. By the time I passed school, I got so used to getting slapped that it really didn't matter anymore. The normal reaction to the phase - "If you do this, you will get one tight slap" was kind of like - "Just a slap? I mean...that’s all?"...and off I went to the liquor shop after college to get myself a beer.

But yes...there is a difference between getting slapped by someone you know and getting slapped by a policeman. The latter (always delivered harder and with sheer precision) often left a ringing sound in the ear for a good hour or so. My study (done during the last 3 years of college, sitting outside 'Aunty’s Tea Shop') revealed that every time a policeman slapped someone, (especially college kids caught drinking beer behind the liquor shop) it was delivered with an undying sense of passion and honesty...words that were missing from the police dictionary (owing to the fact that all the pages after the word Corruption went missing). It was a policeman's divine duty to slap 'peace loving beer drinking college kids' behind the liquor shop...if slapping was a sport, I know one or two policemen who would have got the Khel Ratna. It was what God, in a dream, told a policeman to do as often as he could (apart from taking money from truck drivers) to ensure that he was not a policeman again in his next life. The other difference was that a policeman would never say - "If you do this I will slap you". He slaps you straightaway. For a 'peace loving beer drinking college kid' such a slap was often very difficult to anticipate. Like the slap the 'peace loving and probably beer drinking kid' in the in the center fresh chewing gum ad got from his dad after failing in his exams. (Link to the ad, if you have not seen this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StO0Ok3yiOU

Slaps in school could be classified according to the subject. The hardest came from Math teacher, followed by the Science teacher, then by the Social Science teacher, the English teacher, the Language teacher...so on and so forth. I was not particularly good in Math and the Math teacher was not exactly my best friend. (In school, even if you are not good in Math, you can still be best friends with the Math teacher if you take private tuition from him...along with all the other students who were good in Math but still wanted to be best friends with the Math teacher...just in case). So being bad in Math and not being best friends with the Math teacher lead to situations like these:

Math Teacher: One pipe can fill a tank in 5 minutes and another can empty the tank in 10 minutes. If both the pipes are opened together how long will it take to fill the tank? Any Questions? 

Sanjit Phukan: Yes sir! Sir, what is the objective? Is it to fill the tank or empty the tank? If it’s to fill the tank then why open the other pipe at all? (I always found it amazing that people required Math to solve such simple, man-made problems of life) 

Math Teacher: You think you are very smart? SLAP. (Completely un-anticipated, quick swing of the arm, flawless)

I know text books can’t be wrong but it’s been more than 16 years since the above slap and I have not come across a tank that has 2 pipes, (one to fill it and one to empty it) with both of them opened together with an objective to fill it. If you tell a plumber that this is what you tried to solve in school in the Math class...he would probably never send his kids to school. But change is constant! I have heard that the above problem was removed from the text books a few years back. It has been replaced by this one - 1 labourer can build a wall in 5 days and one labourer can break it in 10 days. If both the labourers are working together, how long will it take to build the wall? Sure someone somewhere is getting slapped. (Btw: Now that Bal Thackeray dead, I wonder who is paying the other labourer to break the wall)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

One shade of grey!

Every enthusiastic drinker would have his own 'Post Getting Drunk' (PGD) horror story. Yes, the degrees may vary and on this would depend the possibility of a public announcement, but I am sure most will have a story to tell or to hide. I am a moderate drinker but from my experience I can tell you that the few glasses of whiskey 'on the chosen day' never look back at history to determine what kind of rating your PGD horror story would get. The glasses I gulped down managed to script one that would get something like - 'parental advisory'. 

I used to live on the 1st floor and this had an important role to play (probably and hopefully) in the entire scheme of things. The doorbell rang really early in the morning...had to be...I remember leaving the party at 4.30 in the morning...considering that it was a 20 min drive back home and the fact that it felt like I was asleep only for about 8 minutes...it must have been 4.58 am*. Everything else remaining constant, something was not, because the time was 2.15 pm. Please do understand that getting the time right was important because that is a testimony that you are in control. The time is not important now and by the end of this paragraph you will know why. I managed to pick up my head from the pillow (if I say it felt like a football, it would be a gross underestimate, say by about 9 times*) and float towards the door.

Opening the door while you are half or fully asleep was something I was reasonably good at because the maid used to come at 6 in the morning on weekdays. The maid that day looked fatter and was wearing a t-shirt not because it was a weekend but because she was not the maid but the landlady. I got ready for the usual suspects (a) “Beta...kal raat music bahut loud tha” [%#*^] (b) “Beta...daru pina acchi baat nahi...mummy daddy ne bari umeed se aapko Gurgaon bheja hai” [Gurgaon of all places in the world!] (c) “Beta...gadi terhi lagi hui hai...jharu lagane mei dikkat ho rahi hai” [No wonder...you are so fat!].

But that day it was kind of different. The moment I opened the door, she was trying hard not to look anywhere else but straight into my face which made me feel rather uneasy. Then she finally spoke..."beta ye aapka jeans hai?" My head was spinning...my jeans?...looks like the one I was wearing last night...was I wearing jeans last night? or did it fall into her backyard from the dhobi line in my balcony? Suddenly it all became clear and I replied "Nehi aunty...mera nehi hai" and I slammed the door close. 

The jeans was mine cos I was not wearing any (remember she was staring straight at my face trying hard not to look anywhere else, now precisely below). The mystery of the cool morning breeze that seemed to be effective only on the lower part of my body was quickly solved too. I thanked God that at least the undies were reasonably new...not that it made any difference. I vividly remembered that I did take a leak right next to my car after I somehow parked it and also felt quite happy about it but till date I have not been able to remember why or how I managed to open my jeans on the staircase. It was not long before I realized that my wallet was still in the jeans and that I should boldly agree that it was my jeans indeed before the landlady gave it away to her maid (it was rather strange that all male clothing - small, medium, large used to fit the maid's husband) and that is exactly what I did. She never asked me any more questions and I never told her any more lies. 

* All of the above calculations were done by the subject PGD and are not meant to scale.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Way back Home

Standing here, looking at these city lights,
Feels like I'm growing old,
Everything's so hi-fi.
Don’t know why I feel alone,
I had a life, it was so right.
I wanna go back to my mother’s arms,
Mamma take me back,
Don’t leave me alone...

Cos I’m singing a song,
The one that belongs,
To a book where the pages are torn,
And I don’t understand, I can’t comprehend,
The reasons for all this pain.
It felt so good when I took that stride,
But it has given me a face I wanna hide,
So it’s better that way, that I stay away,
From the angels, who got me deprived.

I am coming back,
Would you hold my hand?
Would you help me stand?
Would you smile again?
Or would you say -
Son you must pay, for the games that you played.
Or would you see the crazy me, the one that hides, deep inside?

Sir, please understand, please hold my hand,
I just can’t miss this train.
Gonna get home soon, so give me some room,
Sir, please help me stand.
It felt so good when I took that stride,
But it has given me a face I wanna hide,
So it’s better that way, that I stay away,
From the angels, who got me deprived.

I'm standing here, in front of my home,
I am scared, I am alone,
But then I see my mother's arms,
They were stretched out to receive me.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Orbit Of Shame

If your cosmic dream I could manage to tame;
I would not mind and float in the orbit of shame;
If I could trace where you laughed to let go of your soul;
To help save that tragic black hole.

If I could make you fall in love with that beautiful ray;
The one that always promised to stay;
The one that’s now shining astray;
I would not mind and walk in the orbit of shame;
Cos I know I will always have this love to blame.