Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Burden of Great Expectations

To be or not to be - that is the question I asked myself when faced with the prospect of studying law a few years back.

It was a tough question, one I could not take lightly. To study for another five years, to study something else or to start working immediately after my graduation, these were the A-B-C options I had. I took the second option. I decided to study journalism.

My choice was a disappointment for many and a surprising move for others. But I had made it nonetheless.

Now, after two years, at the cusp of my post graduation degree and after the submission of my thesis on ‘Conflict Reportage in Indian English Newspapers’ I am finally sure that I indeed made the right choice.

However, now that I’ll be going out into the real world, I realize that the expectations of all those people who supported me as well as those who were skeptical of my choice are entirely too much. Over time, people have come to expect great things from those who complete their ‘Masters’ degree and the case is the same here.

I’m expected to get selected into a large firm, get a respectable position and draw a salary that an HR would choke on before doling it out to a fresher. Great expectations!

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Confidence in a person’s ability is great, but turning this person into Atlas by tossing him a world of expectations and saying, “Catch!” well that’s not cool. Time and experience is what takes someone to great heights and erecting an unreal pedestal before that helps nobody.

Hence, all you impertinent parents and teachers and friends and relatives, calm down.

It will happen… in Time.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Haiku #11 – An Illogical Choice

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In this modern age,
Where science explains life itself;
Religion still rules.

Note: This Haiku is written in the Indian context where political leaders and pseudo-experts claim that cures to dreaded diseases are contained within religious texts without any proof.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Visitation of a Lifetime

This was weird!

By any standard of archaic Indian culture and tradition, this was not only weird; it was in direct violation of how things should be.

I had carefully combed and again tousled my hair which made it about the fifth time I had done so in the past 15 minutes. Around six shirts lay in a heap on my bed and three pairs of trousers were strewn in a menagerie of disarray, creating a cloth road from the bathroom door to the kitchen where I gone to check up on the stuffed turkey in the oven and chocolate cheesecake in the fridge.

It had to be perfect; every aspect of it.

They were coming to see me, asses me, see if I was fit to be married into their family. And for that, I would have to work hard, very hard. You see, inter-religious marriage still isn’t a very big thing where I come from.

I had invited them over to dinner and they had accepted. My parents would not make it today, their flight delayed by incessant rains, but these people hadn’t cancelled. They wanted to see me what for I was, without having to make small talk with my parents.

I just hoped my apartment, my cooking skills, my education and most importantly, that I was up to their expectations. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my love.

I had prepared a slightly burnt vegetable starter, tomato soup, a stuffed turkey and a hopefully delicious cheesecake for dessert. Ping! The turkey was done. The taste was delectable. They will love it, I assure myself.

As I start folding the rest of my discarded clothes and arrange my truckload of novels neatly on the living room shelf, the doorbell rings. I panic, hastening my chores and shouting, “one minute” in the general direction of the doorway.

“Don’t bother, it’s just me. Open up,” I hear the voice of the one who makes my heart flutter and skip a beat. “Coming,” I yell and open the door.

“I knew you wouldn’t be done, so I came to help out.”

“Thank you darling, you’re the best.”

As we joined forces to put the rest of my apartment into some semblance of a habitable environment, “What’s that weird smell?”

“What?” I ask.

“You don’t smell it? Really?”

And then it hit me. The acrid sting of rain-soaked clothes mingling with a hint of turkey and a waft of chocolate hit me just as I was about to retort with extreme prejudice. The metaphorical glass of illusion had shattered. And suddenly, I was panicking again.

“Damn, that’s strong.”

“Exactly!” came the even more stinging reply.

I ran to the bedroom to get my can of deodorant and proceeded to soak the house from balcony to verandah till I ran out of it. I sat down, a triumphant smile on my face. Done… and done.

And then there it was again, emerging from the thick barrier of deodorant, to assault me once more. Damn! Why wouldn’t it go away?

“Looks like your master plan’s a dud, huh?” sarcasm in the face of an emergency. Like that was going to help.

My partner ran down to the car and rushed back holding a can of Ambi Pur Air Effects Spring Air Freshener. “Try this maybe?”

I didn’t need to be told twice. And just as I finished gently dabbing the apartment with it, the doorbell rang. It was time. And I was ready; the apartment, smelling like the 1st of July, was too.

My love went to the door just as I finished straightening my clothes. Opening it wide, she said,
“Here is the man I want to marry!”

I am blogging for #SmellyToSmileyactivity at in association with Ambi Pur.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Faith in the Obscure: A Musing

What is Faith? Is it being Religious? Is it being Spiritual? Is it being part of both? Or is accepting one of them is enough?

By Faith, I mean belief in God. Not this God or that God, not multiple Gods or a single entity, not male or female, not multitudes ranked by relative importance, but the supernatural ‘Thing’ (for lack of a better word) that some believe created everything, runs everything and destroys everything.

Faith is a tricky subject and writing about it even more so. However, I wish neither to hurt feelings and sentiments nor create a controversy. ‘Faith’ is merely the word written upon my parents’ house and I’m just in the mood to ponder upon its placement in life.

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Is Faith being a part of an organized or unorganized religion having rituals and practices? Is that a necessity? Or is it alright to not be part of religion and still have Faith. Yes, in order to have Faith, there must be a metaphorical or supposed entity to have Faith upon, but what if this entity has no shape or size or face or being? Can there be Faith without a point of reference?

Can Faith be largely a part of spirituality with attaching oneself to religion? Is it possible to put Faith in something that isn’t quite part of any religion but religious in an individual context? Can Faith exist in a void where there is a falling out between personal beliefs and the beliefs of religion? Can Faith exist without religion?

The possibility of keeping Faith in something that is somewhere and which is not hampered by the teachings of elders or the traditions of a people under a religious roof is something many people cannot comprehend. The ability to have Faith exists in all and the varying degrees to which they have it also depends on their personal experiences.

A disillusionment of religion as an institution can bring about the type of Faith I’m talking about. Although remnants of an imbibed religion may remain to guide the psyche to a new way of belief, it will no longer be the topmost priority in forming a Faith that almost nobody can reconcile to.

It is a difficult concept to grasp, especially for those encumbered with the weight of religious learning and years of practicing rituals and following traditions but this does not mean that an individual having Faith in a concept unknown to others is asking to be persecuted or is supposed to be worshipping evil or is straying from the path of God.

Faith cannot be ranked, for each one has his or her own and is different from the Faith that everyone else has.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Haiku #10 – Self-Destruct

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The world conspires,
Brings you knowledge and power;
To destroy yourself.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A #YehBhiMauka Moment for the “Other” Indian Sports

India has played a variety of sports since its Independence and gained prominence in many of them in various international competitions. However, in recent times, other sports have taken a very conspicuous back seat to the loud, boisterous and very heavily financed game of cricket.

India as a Sporting Disaster became even more prominent last year with its exclusion from the Olympics. However, with multiple gains in various games by the national teams, India seems to be taking its game to the next level once again. But as usual, these games aren’t getting much mileage and that is very disappointing from a nation that probably plays every game except rugby.

Here is why Indians have cause to celebrate its “Other” games:

The Men’s Hockey team is in the World League

The Indian team has already qualified for the Rio Olympics by winning the Asian games gold medal in 2014. Now they are going to play in the penultimate round of the World league and they still cannot garner the kind of support they should expect from their own nation. Let’s support them now and in the Olympics for they do bear the flag of the nation on their jersey and in their hearts.

Three Badminton Players are ranked in the Top 10

Olympic bronze medallist, Saina Nehwal is ranked second in the world in women’s Badminton. K Srikanth is placed third and Parupalli Kashyap is placed tenth in the men’s category. Moreover, PV Sindhu, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa are ranked in the top 20 in singles and doubles categories. If having six players from India ranking in the top 20 in various categories isn’t enough to support them, then what is?

Indian Football team is playing its 2nd WC Qualifier

The Indian man’s football team is playing its second FIFA world cup qualifier against Oman after winning the first round against Nepal. This time, the team and management are expecting to go quite a long way and hope for the support of the country that has no expectations from the team due to their dismal past performances. In fact, no broadcaster except thenational channel acquiesced to even telecast it.

The Women’s Hockey Team is Playing in the World League

The women’s team will play the semi-final of the World league Hockey, same as the men and try to secure its spot in the final of this tournament as well as try to secure its place in the Rio Olympics, which it is yet to do. The nation needs to reminisce about Chak De India and really cheer both of its teams so that Indian Hockey can be proud to represent its nation.


Come on India, now is the time to Bleed Blue and support all our sports with the same vigour and spirit. Equal importance and enough motivation can work wonders. Tweet with the hash tag #YehBhiMauka to support all our sports because they too deserve your love and respect for being the champions that they are.

Monday, 8 June 2015

In Defence of a Sexist Prime Minister

According to our honourable Prime Minister, being intolerant of terrorism is a great thing, especially is someone manages it doing it despite having ovaries. Impressive, wouldn’t you say?

Well, everyone else thought so too. It is indeed quite spectacular to see the leader of the nation doling out a generous serving of a sexist “compliment” to the leader of a friendly nation. One would think he would also feel the same way about one of his predecessors who despite being the only the second woman Prime Minister in the world, held a dim view of the whole terrorist agenda in general.

Just innocent Prime Ministerial banter as usual.

Well, it would be wrong to place the blame for a sexist remark squarely onto his shoulders alone. He is merely the victim of the latent sexism and masochism and the patriarchal mindset that has been traditional in Indian politics for so long that people stopped talking about it in the last century.

Surely our beloved leader did not mean to degrade the office of a fellow Prime Minister and sound condescending in the worst way possible just because that country is indebted to ours for their very freedom. If it came to that, he could make the same innocent mistake with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff or say South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

In fact, there is a counterpoint to this whole thing which shows how much the PM cares about women, even those who don’t need it. His government recently refused to consider sending omen to the front lines in battle because guess what would happen if they were captured and held prisoners of war. Wonder what horrors await them in those concentration camps reserved especially for Indian soldiers in the country that uses pigeons as spies!

Although, I’m sure female soldiers would have preferred the Union Defence Minister treat them the same as their male counterparts. But, this is India, the land where women need to be kept safe from foreign assaults but can be raped, mutilated, murdered and thrown out of moving vehicles in the capital of the country. I’m sure they understand that.

So please stop criticizing the Prime Minister, at least when he is on a foreign visit. He represents our entire nation and our thoughts and our actions and our behaviour. He is the embodiment of all that we are and all that we aspire to be. To speak against the Prime Minister who has male genitalia and is flaunting his oratory skills in a foreign nation is against national interest.

Hope he had a better time than PM Sheikh Hasina.

Note: This post is a sarcastic take on what may or may not have been a highly sexist remark by one Head of Government to another. Definitely not to hurt anyone's feelings and sentiments. it is also not to debase or to defame our PM.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

This Seat is Reserved - Five ways to grab seats in a public bus

In India, public transport is cheap as it is want to be and there is a lot of public to use this transportation as is evident from the population of this country. There is always a mad rush to get into these buses, especially by people who travel to other cities to work. Added to this force are irregulars who just want to go to the other city. The resulting crowd goes so berserk at the site of a us that the people are pushed aside, pushed, pulled, shoved and crammed into a vehicle 10 years past its decommissioning date.

Almost... there... aaahhh...
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So we Indians, as usual, have a jugaad for this not-getting-seat problem too. Our ingenuity truly is visible only in such times of desperation. Here are things people do to get a seat on public transport:

The Bag Throwers

People going to work tend to carry bags but people here sometimes carry bags just to throw them through the windows into empty seats. These people then take their own time climbing into the bus since they’ve assured their seat on it. They will then ascend as the bus starts to move, push past the other bewildered and mumbling passengers to pick up their bag and enjoy the seat they reserved not by being first in the queue but first to an empty window seat.

It looks so innocent... just lying there
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The Handkerchief People

Now that you know about the ‘Baggies’, we now move on to the ‘Hankies’. These people are too lazy to carry a bag so they use what is essentially a necessary product for everyday life – a handkerchief – to reserve their seats. The technique is the same as above but instead of big and marginally heavy bags; they use a piece of cotton cloth that passes as a ticket in public transport. And, it is completely valid as long s the conductor doesn’t interfere.

The ‘Taken’ Neighbours

No, these are not people whom Liam Neeson has saved from foreign gangsters. These are people who ask other to reserve their seats for them if they manage to climb up before them. The regular travellers develop a kind of bonding that happens when you spend a lot of time smelling each other’s armpits and borrowing newspapers to read on the commute. This, in turn helps them save places for each other so they can discuss which character did what horrible thing to another character on some television show.

Sorry, Occupado!
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The Regulars

As mentioned earlier, the people who commute are the majority on these buses and over time, they sort of start respecting each other’s places like what usually happens in school or college. But even then, there is always some smartass newbie who thinks he/she can sit wherever they want. These people are scorned and the seats reclaimed even if that person get up to adjust their bag in the overhead holding deck. And the others, they just nod their approval in sadistic satisfaction.

Get off my seat... NOW!
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The Legitimates

Well, these people don’t bother with the rush and the long lines and the pushing and shoving; they already have a ticket. For those who don’t know, people in public transport buses can buy tickets before or after climbing into buses. The ‘Legitimates’ are the only group of people who seem to have mastered the art of being wholly cool and buying their ticket at the counter. They stand round, saunter in and take their place reserved with an ‘X’. If there is an unreserved passenger sitting there, they will be reprimanded for their transgression with the show of a ticket. Fights often erupt because of their cocky nature.

Yeah, that's right. Yes, I do have a ticket.
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