Sunday, November 20, 2016

Colourific Value

Manchester United, Communism, Ferrari, Coca Cola, McDonald’s… What’s the connection? Yes… you got it. It’s the colour red. Research has proved that the sight of colour red incites hunger and thirst. McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Red Bull are testimony to this fact. Red also signifies victory. It is no surprise that the top 3 teams in the English Premier League have red in their insignias – Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Colours are all around us. One cannot deny the impact of colours in our lives. You wake up and brush your teeth… the toothpaste is white if it is dental cream, red, green or blue in case of gel. Your morning tea/ coffee is brown or black depending on your milk preference. Oh! If you happen to be a teetotaler, white milk is your drink. Breakfast time and the butter and cheese you eat is yellow. So even before you step out of your home for work or college, you end up seeing close to eight colours.
One emotion can have different colours in different parts of the world. Mourning for example in the UK is black, in India it is white while in Brazil it’s purple. Whoa!! An international marketing manager better be aware of these facts!! Red is for stop/ danger while green it is green for go.
The different shades help us bind together as a group – Black for all the pseudo-Satan worshippers and death metalers around the globe, Red scarves and jerseys Manchester United fans, Blue for all the Team India, Green for all the surreal capitalists. These clusters have people of different race, class and sex. You’ll find a Caucasian Eminem rapping about the Ghetto with his African-American counterparts, Indian Metal bands with names like Demonic Resurrection and an African endorsing Yoga!!

However, colours segment people right from the time they come out of the mother’s womb. A girl gets a pink towel and the boy gets a blue. People are white, black, brown and yellow. You have white collar jobs and you have blue collar jobs. Isn’t that a paradox?!  So are colours binding us or fragmenting us? Well… I don’t know. In case you figure out, do let me know. Google, in my opinion, is a smart operator considering the colours of the six alphabets in its names keep changing!!

The colour I see as green… Is it really green? Maybe I was taught by a colour blind teacher in kindergarten who couldn’t differentiate between green and blue. Have I all my life known blue as green? Team India’s fatigues are green? The vast oceans are green? The sky is green? I really hope that’s not the case. I pray that my perception of green is same as the rest of the world.

Before I conclude, I will leave you with some food for thought. Are black and white shades of grey?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Knifed in Guwahati

After a back breaking overnight bus ride from Jorhat, we had finally reached Guwahati. The marmalade skies during May were turning grey. Amma, Appa, Shreyas and I moved to 240 Transit Camp. The building is a colossal structure right next to the Guwahati railway station. Back in 1995, anyone travelling to any other part of the country by train would catch a train from Guwahati. Officers from the Indian Air Force and Army posted in the Far east Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunanchal Pradesh, Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram had to pass through the city of Guwahati before heading to their respective units. The officers and their families stay at the Transit Camp that has basic accommodation and serves food. We checked into a room on the 8th Floor that gave me a splendid view of the city.

Our train would start next morning. With over 24 hours on our hands, Appa decided that we should explore the city. The famous Kamakhiya temple would be our first stop. Amma said,” Go take a shower and then let’s go for breakfast. Our room had one bathroom and to save time, I went to the common bathroom at the end of the corridor.

After a quick shower, we all went to the dining area for breakfast. Appa had Shreyas tucked under his one arm and his bowl of Cerelac in the other. 18 month old Shreyas was a handful and he was loud. Other families sitting in the dining area were giving us steely glances from the corner of their eyes.
Any hopes of heading out after breakfast was dashed. The grey skies had given way to heavy downpour. We headed back to our room. I picked up the Famous Five book from my stash of reading material and got reading. Meanwhile, Shreyas had finished his morning ablutions and we had run out of diapers for him. Appa headed out in the torrential rain to buy the diapers.

By 10 AM, the rains had stopped. Amma stepped out to the Dining area to sterilise Shreyas’ feeding bottle. On her way to the dining area, Amma went to the common bathroom area to wash some of the stained clothes of Shreyas. The common bathroom had rows of cubicles of shower on one side and taps for washing on the other side. Amma finished washing the clothes and was heading out when she heard a pained growl from one of the cubicles. There stood a man stepping out of the cubicle with a heavily bandaged head and multiple bandages across his forearms and torso. He made eye contact with amma and darted back into the cubicle and creaky latch snapped back.

Amma was stupefied by what she saw. On our way back, she passed one of the many rooms in the corridor. One of the door along the corridor was ajar and she heard a lady sobbing loudly and heard her cries for help in Tamil, “Aandava !! Epidi aayidute. Ippo naan enne pannuvaen!( Oh Lord !  What has happened to us ! Now what will I do? ) Judging from the accent of Tamil, Amma figured she was speaking Tamil with our Palakkad accent. She peeped into the room and saw a young women bent over the side of the bed. Amma entered the room and started speaking to her.

“What happened? Why are you crying?!” asked Amma

“My husband is dying and I don’t what to do.” She said.

“ Dying ? Where is he ?! Is he with a doctor?”

At this moment, a man walked into the room. As Amma recollects, the man was startled by her presence. The lady points in the direction of the man, “There. That’s my husband.”

Amma went to the table in the room and poured some water into the glass and gave it to the lady. The lady sipped water and took breaks to sob in between. The man was a dark man standing well over 6 feet. Amma had seen him moments ago in the bathroom. He had a heavily bandaged head and lots of gashes on the face. He murmured something and sat on the bed next to his wife.

By now, Amma regained her composure and said, “Both of you wait right here. I’ll be back with my husband." She returned to the room and looked panicky. I asked, “Amma.. Enne aachu?” ( Mother.. what happened?)

 “Nothing Sid. You be here and take care of Shreyas in case he wakes up. I’ll be in room next to us. Let me know when Appa is back.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this situation. She hung the washed clothes on armrest of the chair and left the room. Appa returned in what seemed to be like an eternity clutching the diaper packet in this hand.

“ Where is Amma?”

“She’s in the next room talking to someone. I’ll go get her.”

 I walked over to the next room and saw Amma consoling the lady while the man was prostrate on the bed. I had never seen a man with so many injuries and bandages in my life. Amma quickly realized that I was scandalized by the whole scene.

“Has Appa come back?”

“Yes Amma. He’s back and I came to call you.”

Amma  took me by the hand and we left the room. I was only 11 then. However, the image of the heavily bandaged man is vividly clear in my head till today. We reached back to our room and Shreyas was wailing loudly. Appa took him in his arms and patted his back. He could sense that Amma was testy and worried. He asked her, “What happened?”

“There is a couple in the next room. The man has a lot of injuries and bandages. They are taking the same train as us tomorrow morning. I’m not a doctor but I’m certain that they wouldn’t be able to travel tomorrow by train. The man’s sister is getting married in four days.

Appa lay Shreyas onto the bed and walked over the next room. I followed Appa. Excited, worried and curious, I could feel the adrenaline rush through my body. He asked the lady, “Ma’am. My wife is the next room. Why don’t you go talk to her.”

“Sid. Take aunty with you.”

I wanted to be there to listen to the man’s story. Nevertheless, the lady walked towards me and I walked with her to our room.

Appa introduced himself, “I’m Squadron Leader S. Harshavardhan. Have you seen a doctor yet?”

“Sir, I’m Flight Lieutenant Raj.”

“How did this happen?”

“ Sir.. My wife and I were on our way to Kamakhiya temple this morning in a rickshaw. A young boy came out of nowhere and tried snatching my wife’s Mangalsutra ( a married woman’s necklace ) I caught hold of him and tried to push him. We both fell from the rickshaw. He took out a small knife and stabbed me.” He lifted his blood stained T Shirt and showed his bandage around his abdomen. The gauze and bandage were saturated in crimson.

“ The doctor has bandaged you. But you are bleeding even now.”

“Sir. I didn’t go to a doctor. I went to the pharmacy store near railway station and asked my wife to clean my wounds.”

Appa was livid. “Are you crazy? You are educated man. Let’s go to Army Hospital. I will get the Jonga ( an indigenous 4 wheel drive for the Indian Army ). Let’s go.

“No Sir. I don’t wish to see a doctor. They will admit me. I will miss my sister’s wedding in Madras and the doctor will get me grounded.”

For those not familiar with Indian Air Force policies, a pilot getting grounded is akin to a bird getting its wings clipped or a man losing his limbs. He was stubborn to say the least.

Raj ! This is an order. Now get up and let’s go meet a doctor. I will ensure you don’t get grounded and I will have you and your wife fly to Madras.”

Appa wasn’t even certain whether Flight Lieutenant Raj would fly again. IAF has always demanded their staff in the best of health. Pilots who are not fit do get transferred to Ground Duties. He got a Jonga and the driver drove Appa and Flight Lieutenant Raj  to the Army hospital nearby for first aid. Then, he left for the nearest Air Force Station in Guwahati. He booked Indian Airlines tickets for the couple.

He rushed back to the hospital and ensured Flight Lieutenant Raj got discharged. Appa and Flight Lieutenant came back to our room. I saw some blood stains on Appa Shirt and got worried.

“Ma’am.. I have booked flight ticket in Indian Airlines for both of you. The flight leaves in three hours. My wife will help you pack your bags.”

Flight Lieutenant Raj was quite groggy. He stumbled his way to his wife and hugged her.

“Sir! I don’t know how to thank you and Ma'am.”

He looked at Amma with folded hands, “ Neenga Deiyvam maadri vanthuirrukael.” ( Both of you are God sent )

Appa told him, “Raj .. You can thank us later. Get ready to leave lest you miss you flight and your sister’s wedding.”

He asked Appa for his contact number and our address in Madras. They exchanged phone numbers and We all went to see them off in Jonga.

We took our train next morning and reached Madras after a gruelling 60 hour train journey across 5 states. We were greeted by my uncles, aunts and cousins in Madras. They were seeing Shreyas for the first time and everyone was excited to hold the baby cousin. Later that evening during dinner, Appa recounted the whole incident that happened.”

What I didn’t know until much later was that the doctor at the Army hospital had insisted Flight Lieutenant Raj to be admitted and kept under observation for 48 hours. This would have meant that he missed his sister’s wedding and the possibility of him getting grounded from flying. Appa knew some people in the hospital and pulled some strings to get him out of the hospital. It was a huge risk. But Appa knew what he had to do.

Back in 1995, there were no ATM machines and flight tickets were very expensive. With the money he had, he booked a one way ticket to Madras via Calcutta for the couple. What I didn’t know was that after booking tickets, he had less INR 500 in his pocket and the bank wouldn’t open until next day. The 4 of us travelled with less than INR 500 in my dad’s pocket.

Years went by. Appa got transferred to New Delhi later that year and we moved with him. Appa was part of the Air Staff inspection team that visited various air bases in India. During one of his visits to Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Appa met Flight Lieutenant Raj. Now, he was Squadron Leader Raj. He fell on the ground and touched Appa’s feet.

Appa was rather startled and didn’t know how to react.

“Sir ! You saved my life and my flying career. I’m here today because of you. He had tears in his eyes.”

My Appa has always been my hero. Years later I asked him why he went out of the way to help a complete stranger. He looked me in the eye, “ Sid. This could have happened to us. Wouldn’t you have liked if someone helped us.”

This incident reaffirmed my faith in humanity. Hope, Kindness and joy are still prevalent in our lives.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hackneyed words on Social Media

Switch on the laptop, iPad or mobile and you are bound to see these words. Used, overused, abused and beaten to death, I'm certain you have seen these words on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr and plethora of social media drivers of 21st century. I have issues with some of the wordplay

Technophile - Beware !! He could be a pedophile as well !
Movie buff - Hmmm.. How about you buffing your leathers shoes for a change?
Foodie - All that rubbish you eat makes you moody.
Net junkie - What ?! Junkie means smackhead, pothead, cokehead, meth head. Who gets high on internet ?
Cellphone freak - Yes.. they are freaks you smack their neighbour's head with a Nokia 3310. Please exercise caution while walking in your neighbourhood as these people are always on the prowl.
Loves Traveling - Their travel is Chennai Beach to Tambaram or Borivili to Churchgate. So don't be fooled folks. 
Selective perfectionist - DAFAQ ? 
Budding entrepreneur - My dear friends ...Your buds were nipped eons ago
Strategic Thinker - And thinking what exactly ?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Time for evolution

I have across various articles on the internet detailing the metamorphosis that happen in a man's life in a very short span of time. All this while, I believed this to be a truckload of rubbish. Some people never change right ?! 

Life had other plans for me. Change has happened. My family, friends and colleagues have commented on the remarkable change in my life. My notoriety and unabashed behaviour has given way to a calm composed self with a sense of purpose. All this has happened in the space of 40 to 50 days.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Primary Education - Breaking the cycle

It has been 2 months since I moved to Pune. Moved into a nice apartment with two friends from college. Surrounded by the hills and plush greenery all around, Baner is a nice and peaceful neighborhood. The routine is set for weekdays. Saroj, our cook, comes makes breakfast and lunch.

During the weekend, I've got more time in the mornings. One Sunday morning I asked about Saroj and his background. He told me about his wife and 3 sons. My first question, "Are they in school?" Don't judge me here but most of the labour class folks don't want to send their kids to school. They would rather have a helping hand at home for errands and other sundries. He told me that on the contrary, the scene has changed. The kids are being sent to schools and education is the top priority for the families of these kids. 

His sons are in Std 4, 5 and 6. I wanted to know more about these kids. So I plonk myself on the kitchen slab with a beer in hand while he is making some lip-smacking Chinese food ( If you are in Pune, you must come home to taste Saroj's cooking). During our conversation, I realized he has painted a colourful future for his sons. He wants them to study, get good grades and good jobs. I believe every father wants his kids to do better than him. Starting at 6 AM, he cooks at 5 different house twice a day 6 days through the week. By the time Saroj heads home, it is well past 10 PM. He told me that his only mission in life is for his kids to do well and was amazed at how we spoke such fluent English. As he was leaving, Saroj confides to me that he wanted his sons to speak fluent English. His words touched a chord. I told him to send his sons to our house every Sunday morning.The kids started coming home. Perhaps, the cricket lover in Saroj was alive when he named his sons Sachin and Rahul.

The first couple of Sunday's were tough when the kids came home. On both occasions, I was supremely hungover. I told them to sit on the Dewaan and start reading loudly while I rushed to take a cold water shower. Now the challenge - How to teach these kids? While my grammar is in place, I'm not supremely confident in what my Prepositions, Past Participles are...

I've gauged the kids to be real smart and fast learners and realized that familiarity with a topic is always a  good way to get started. So Cricket was our topic of discussion. The stress was on speaking only in English. Initially, they had their inhibitions. I encouraged them to talk about cricket, their favorite format ( No prizes for guessing... T20 ) , the brutal power of Chris Gayle and why Dale Steyn is a world class fast bowler.

Been 2 months now. Their fluency is improving and confidence is slowly growing. Teaching them has helped me become a patient listener.

Hats off to Teach For India. They have permeated through to Rahul and Sachin's school and the government schools in the cities of Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Madras and a few more. With youthful teachers under their wings who love teaching and aids including laptops and placards, India will soon see the change we've all been waiting.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A letter to Chairman, IPL

Dear Sir,

Thank you for a lovely season of IPL. Now that Kolkata Knightriders have won, I can safely comment that this match didn't have any agenda. I have made some observations during IPL 2012. The T20 game could gain a lot from my suggestions below :

  • The concept of cheerleaders in cricket is preposterous. Cheerleading is a team event with precision movements performed by beautiful looking women. I feel insulted when I see cheap Russian hookers with liberal application of foundation doing retarded moves.  Do not get close up shots of their smiling faces. The yellow stained teeth give me a feeling that certain individual has pulled strings to see Chennai SuperKings' colours. Their outlandish outfits make my German Shepard laugh. The dance forms of Mohiniattam and Laavni  have been belittled to  greet Chris Gayle's monstrous hits !! Why didn't I see Zulu tribe dancers during IPL 2009 cheering for Dhoni's helicopter shot ? Let's not have the Cheerleaders. Let it remain in USA and it's universities. That's the only history they have. Right ?
  • During the next auction, please ensure that you incorporate a clause of "No Dicks in Auctions". This would help you weed out the likes of Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla. 
  • All the players in the fielding side could be given a microphone and the TV viewers could get to listen to their conversations. The audience would get to watch a new line of reality TV and would certainly boost the TRP ratings. We could learn to abuse in chaste Bengali, Tamil and Punjabi.
  • Recruit a new breed of erudite commentators and groom them under the likes of Harsha Bhogle and Robin Jackman. As for the other commentators, I don't care if it is Ravi Shastri's birthday and certainly don't want to see him cut a cake during the IPL final. Ummm.. unless Pommie Mbangwa smacks the cake on Shastri just like his first name Mu-pe-le-lo  and says " EAT THAT !! RAAAVI". That would be fun. And what in the name of God does Danny Morrison smoke ?! I get daily live feed on the latest moves from a Maori circus. Sunny Gavaskar and Rameez Raja should do an act together that would make Laurie and Fry proud.
  • IPL is about cricket and not about team owners. My neighbour's raccoon is terrified of SRK's purple attire. We are tired of watching Preity's Not-so-pretty sagging breasts jump up and down. The focus should be on the match. I have a plan to make you some money from the Team Owners as well. The BSF men from Wagah border are stressed enough and have tough life. The team enclosure could have a one of these men come down on a vacation and attached to the owner's ensemble with a steel whip to keep them in order. Perhaps Nokia TV could be given the rights to such a channel.
  • Pass a statutory clause by which all the sponsors make silent advertisements. The sudden spurt in decibel levels at the end of each over has cracked the glass on my late great grandfather's portrait. The Madras humidity has left an indelible mark on his face with green colour moulds. He now haunts me everyday by stuttering and playing with the voltage levels at my home. 


Cricket Lover

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Expectorate and Play

I've always been in awe of all the batsmen playing cricket who managed to spit through the steel visor and grill with an uncanny precision. The phelgm always comes out and avoids hitting the grill. It has a six sigma accuracy.

HA !! That's right. It was 100% accurate until TV cameras caught Yogesh Nagar in that floundering moment of colossal proportion in IPL 2012. SPALT !! The glob came from the abysmal depths of his throat and hit his grill. YUCK !! His countenance at that exact moment reeked dumbness. The eyes spoke, " How did I miss that?"

Next delivery, he was clean bowled!!