Friday, 19 October 2007


A few weeks back, I found myself in the midst of an argument with two ladies. One of them went on to write a blog on its behalf and I feel honoured. I have subsequently responded with a comment on her blog. I feel the whole debate makes interesting reading. I am cutting and pasting from her blog and my comment follows her writing. She has chosen pseudonyms (to protect our identities I presume) – Nishan = Adithya. Here goes:

Choices - We Make

Late one Sunday evening a couple of weeks back, Shaina – a close friend from college came to our house as she was in town from Bangalore on her way to Dubai on work. Nishan one of my husband’s friends happened to drop by, that evening and joined us for dinner. While the two men nursed their drinks, over old Hindi music playing out of the laptop in the study, Shaina joined me in the kitchen while I fried “pakoras” to go with the drinks and finished preparing dinner.

In the kitchen we caught up on each other’s lives and had a heart to heart on our lives as women – Wife, Mother(she has a five year old son), Career woman, Daughter and Daughter-in-law. Both of us conceded that life was indeed very difficult and there really was no choice that we had in the matter. Balancing everything, left us with little time for our-selves but compromising on any of the responsibilities would not fulfill us either .
As we sat down to dinner, Shaina concluded the long conversation that we had been having with “ I am a superwoman !!!.” Nishan who is a divorcee for over a year now after a eight year marriage promptly commented “ That’s your choice”.

Shaina decided that she would rather not discuss the matter further and so fell silent, but I jumped to her rescue with - “ As if we women have a choice”. Now I am very touchy over this subject as I feel I am a “ Super, Super-woman”.

Shaina remained very calm and wore the expression of nonchalance but I set upon this passionate debate on “Choices " and so said “what choice does she have but to play all of her roles as a women to perfection. We work as many hours, if not more than our husbands but is it not our responsibility to ensure that we also have a well wheeled and running house-hold, a well stocked kitchen and refrigerator, regular change of all bed and bath linen, timely food on the table and the responsibility to look after the well being of the family.”

Nishan’s reply to that was “it’s your choice to get married, to stay married, and do the things you do - you make the choice between staying on or leaving”. I was infuriated and thought, now here was a guy who was not only a chauvinist but an impractical, arrogant one at that. What he was truly implying was that all women should either sing songs to their happily married lives or pack their bags and leave. I could not help wondering how one could work out a marriage with those views and though I did not intent to, I landed up saying – ‘‘I don’t really blame your wife for leaving”. Later on the drive to the airport on her way to Dubai, Shaina and my-self thought to our-selves that what is worse than being super-woman is this attitude of ungratefulness. Honestly with some appreciation, gratitude and understanding women will not totally mind the super woman role.

After this incident the word “Choice” stayed on in my mind and again and again, I found my-self thinking of all the choices women make. Added to my pre-occupation with the word was also my having watched the movie “Laaga Chunri mei Daag” – literally translated means “Stains on my Scarf(Dupatta)” in which Rani Mukherjee plays the role of a small town girl who goes to Mumbai in the hope of finding work to get her family out of financial crisis.

She looks high and low for work but does not find anything as she has no academic qualifications and has only passed class ten. Finally she gets to reach the interview stage where she is told that the only way she could qualify for the job was if she spent the night with her interviewer. She walks out in a shocked state and calls her mother who was actually counting pennies out of a container, to get together money to pay for her fathers hospital bills, after a heart attack. In the state of mind that Jaya Bhaduri, Rani’s mother is, she tells her daughter to do what she feels is right on being told that she has to sleep with a guy to get the job. Which mother if she had a choice would give such advice to her daughter even at the spur of the moment and how difficult giving such advice is for her as she has to carry the guilt of it for ever.

Rani goes ahead and does just that, but just after she has slept with him she is told that she still does not qualify for the job but is given ten thousand rupees. She leaves the money and walks out of the hotel room and finds her-self being counseled by a worldly wise woman who tells her that instead of being used by men, she should go out and use them in return and be a high class, expensive call-girl. She takes the advice and becomes one.

Here is a woman, who actually had no choice, but a guy like Nishan and most guys I know will say that she did. They would easily say that she had the choice of going back home and starving, being on the roads, having her younger sister stop her studies and in all probability together light their father’s pyre out of not being able to pay for his medical bills. There are so many women in the world who do what they do as they do not have a “real choice”. Like one would say, between the devil and the deep sea which would a woman chose.

Another story which I found very captivating was the story “Eleven Minutes” by Paulo Coelho where he so sensitively describes the life of a Call Girl who becomes one, by no choice of hers as she is picked up from her home town as a child and sold to a brothel far away and always nurtures the dream of someday giving it all up and returning home but gradually with time she actually enjoys what she does and remains to be one as that’s the only life she has known. Can she be condemned for trying to be happy, the only way she knows how to.

How I wish that people like Nishan would realize that often in life a woman makes a choice be it to become a call girl or stay on in unhappy marriages, either because they love their husbands, want the security of a home and family to make the lives of their children secure or simply because they love giving and in return the least they want is understanding and appreciation from the people they do it for like in the case of Rani’s supportive family who acknowledge that she did everything she did for them.

I also hope that there would be more men in real life like Abhishek Bacchan in the movie who marry women like Rani because they see a woman for what she stands for and appreciates the causes, for the choices she makes. Women often take on as much, or more than their strong shoulders can carry and all they want is acknowledgement, appreciation and a hand to hold on to along the way so being Super-Woman is worth the while.

-My comment-

Hi Shuvashree,

You sound allergic to the word choice. I realize that you view Nishan’s thoughts as chauvinistic and impractical, but is it fair to say that your thoughts are better because they originated in your mind? Perhaps Nishan has a point here. Your reaction in the face of Shaina’s silence could just be an unconscious defense move to safe guard your stance for after reading your piece, Shaina does not come across as someone who was as passionate as you are on the topic of Superwoman. Maybe Shaina was forced to agree with you in the kitchen while you were making ‘Pakoras’ and this prompted you to speak up while the topic of Superwoman came out at the dinner table. Maybe Nishan touched a raw nerve on some hasty decision you made and you wanted to feel absolved by feeling that you really did not have a choice.

Now that we got that out of the way lets turn to procedures of conduct from the days of the cold war knowing fully well that both sides have ample nuclear arsenal to turn the situation into something ugly. Let us reserve mudslinging and hitting below the belt for losers, so no more, I don’t really blame your wife for leaving”. The appropriate way is to have a good debate. I would like to argue in favor of Nishan.

Let us assume that Shaina really is on your side and now let us define what we are arguing about. It is apparent to me that the issue in disagreement here is that ‘all decisions taken are made out of choices presented to us’. Nishan said that the stance of Superwoman is out of a choice that the woman makes and you say otherwise, which in effect means that it is thrust upon them – unfortunately your piece does not say that. There are only two ways that a person can end up in a situation. Either they are forced into it, like in the case of rape or they do so, out of their own free will. When a person makes a decision out of free will, he or she will have a set of choices. The final choice that he or she makes will be a result of which option they see as being the best in the set. Let’s take your own examples to clarify this better.

Example one: Rani Mukherjee in “Laaga Chunri mei Daag” – for the purpose of clarification I will suggest one option out of the choice list that she would have had at each juncture.

  1. She makes the choice of going to Mumbai for work as opposed to say going to Patna.
  2. She then makes the choice of attending the interview instead of say going to a construction site to scout work as a labourer.
  3. When she is offered the indecent proposal, she makes the choice of telling her mother about this instead of say asking the interviewer to go offer the proposal to his sister.
  4. Rani Mukherjee’s mother in turn makes the choice of advising her daughter (Rani Mukherjee) to do what she (Rani Mukherjee) thinks is right as opposed to say, telling her that her (Rani Mukherjee’s) chastity is far more precious than the old man’s life. (I haven’t seen the movie but your description of it sounds like this is the worst screenplay ever.)
  5. Rani Mukherjee then makes the choice of sleeping with the interviewer as opposed to say let her old man die.

What this means is that she did have a choice at each point but she used her intelligence to choose what she thought was the best option at that given point in time; probably out of compulsion but then she did have a choice. In your own words, Rani Mukherjee chose the devil (or is it the deep sea?)..

Example two: The girl in Paulo Coelho’s, “Eleven Minutes”. Wrong example as she was forced into it. She had no choice here. The choice she made came later when she decided to enjoy what she was doing instead of say becoming a nun.

You go on to say, “How I wish that people like Nishan would realize that often in life a woman makes a choice (*) be it to become a call girl or stay on in unhappy marriages, either because they love their husbands, want the security of a home and family to make the lives of their children secure or simply because they love giving and in return the least they want is understanding and appreciation from the people they do it for like in the case of Rani’s supportive family who acknowledge that she did everything she did for them.”

(*) Makes a choice?

See you tremendously contradict your stand on ‘choice’ in that passage. A woman makes the ‘choice’ (to become a call girl or stay on in unhappy marriages – or a marriage) because they love their husbands, want the security of a home and family to make the lives of their children secure or simply because they love giving. So it’s evident that she has desires in life, like ‘loving the husband’, ‘getting the security of home and family’, etc. It’s a situation she wants and hence she makes the above choice over staying single. Her expectation (..and in return the least they want is understanding and appreciation from the people they do it for..) is where it all goes wrong. You should do things because you like doing them.

Often women feel they are Superwomen because they feel they are juggling many issues at once, but stop and think for a moment. What are the activities that take your time and make you feel you are doing a lot? Humans love to control their immediate environment especially their homes and their immediately family especially their spouses or live-in partners. This is the place you come back to everyday and these are the people you sleep with everyday. People have a perception, a paradigm of how these factors should exist in their life; it is called ones ‘comfort zone’. A person who lives alone has no problem; he/she is the only one influencing and experiencing the environment and another individual’s thoughts do not have to be accommodated. When two or more people come under one roof, there will be expectations that are not fulfilled by the person(s) living with you but you still wish to maintain the decorum of your comfort zone and this drives you to do it all by yourself and in the bargain blame the other person(s) for not living up to your expectations. I would term this phenomenon as ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’ (OCD), it’s a psychological problem.

‘Do onto others as you would have them do onto you’, I have another one, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t do for others what they don’t reciprocate’. The problem here is you. You do things out of your own OCD and then you cry foul. Stop being a martyr. You don’t have to be the aggressor but stop playing the victim. My advice to the ‘superwoman’: take off your red cape and red panties over those blue leotards – choose options that you like doing.

(My reference to ‘you’ in the last two paragraphs is generic and not aimed at Shuvashree)



Friday, 12 October 2007

It's my life

The last two weeks have turned out to be a philosophical pit stop. I learned of three deaths among people who were separated from me by just a degree. One death was due to a degenerative disease, she and people around her knew that the cancer was going to get her sooner or later and the only unexpected bit was that it turned out to be sooner. At sixty five plus, she was not very old, but (with no disrespect intended) she had outlived her productive age. Compared to this the other two demises were a shock. In one incident, a man due to turn 40 years in a day’s time succumbed to a massive cardiac arrest and in the other a girl in her mid twenties was killed in a car crash. I had known them both briefly for a few weeks. I am not emotionally affected by these incidents but they have worked like a wake up call.

I am ever so amazed at the way normal people are in India. Except for the small exception of Goans the rest of the country seem to be extremely serious about life but in the bargain I believe that normal people here don’t live but exist. There is a difference between living and existing. Living is when you are excited about each day and enjoy the journey. It’s when you walk the path less traveled and marvel at everything that you discover along the way. It’s when you do things differently and create your own epic. True you will have your bad days; you might get dumped, might have a bad illness, have an accident but at the end of it all a person who lives will see it as a unique experience.

Most of us live a predictable life by the user’s manual handed over to us by previous generations. What were the thoughts that ran through your mind the day the Tsunami hit our coast? All those thousands of normal people following the user’s manual had dreams that got washed away literally like sand castles on a beach. There were aspirations of parents, some saving up all their earnings and raising children to make them successful professionals, others preparing to get their children married and still others waiting to become grand parents. There also were aspirations of young adults married, trying to build a future, trying to build their nests. Is this what life is all about?

I don’t follow the norms of normal people. Normal people are so busy going about following the user’s manual or the life script as its called in psychology that they don’t even stop to think if it’s worth it or not. None of us know when we are going to die but the majority go about life almost certain that we will be around for quite sometime; time enough to execute the grand plans that we have embarked upon, building our own personal empire not realizing that none of it makes sense if we were to know that we would cease to exist in the next twenty four hours. Understand that not everyone gets to live the life script till its last scene. Through conditioning you probably believe that the script is the ideal way to life but it really does not matter.

Don’t take yourself so seriously, it is an obsessive condition in you that is refusing to let you see beyond the script’s frame work. Start enjoying yourself. You don't have to be a martyr, break out of unhappy situations and don't wait for it to change on its own else it might be too late. It is not a sin to be selfish because if you were to kick the bucket tomorrow at least you won’t have anything to regret. I'm not suggesting that you be a hermit or a hippie. I too have ambitions but like I had told a friend, I am not obsessed with achievements to the point that I stop enjoying the present. I live like this is the last day I am alive.

I want to end this with the words to the chorus of my anthem. Its from a song called It's my life by Bon Jovi:

It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just wanna live while I'm alive
It's my life


Sunday, 12 August 2007

Square peg in a round hole

It is rather shameful the way in which ignorant people use half baked knowledge to cook up new ideas that fit their belief. As for myself, my desire to look at various perspectives and verify a claim makes these cooked up stories look like square pegs in round holes but forced to fit in somehow. This particular story of mine swung into action two weeks back when a friend engaged me in a conversation on philosophy. In the process I broached upon exaggerations as was narrated in my blog ‘Chinese Whispers’.

My friend is a staunch believer in ‘Hinduism’ and I respect that for everyone has a right to his or her belief. Children believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, they too have a right to those beliefs, but what got me ballistic is when he said, “Nasa has said Rama’s bridge exists. They have given satellite pictures to prove this”. This is what is called ‘Argumentum ad verecundiam’, a Latin terminology that describes a fallacy in an argument when someone claims an accredited source has certified their claim. (Nasa has since clarified that they never made such a statement).

I know people who believe that the story of Pushpaka Vimana is proof of man’s ability to fly many years before the Wright brothers created an airplane. Yeah right! In the Arabian nights series of stories, there is mention of the flying carpet, Greek mythology has a story of Daedalus and his son Icarus who built artificial wings to fly away, Leonardo Da Vinci had detailed drawings of a helicopter but since all events from his period have been recorded we know for sure that he never built one, H. G Wells talked about travel to the moon much before man thought of going into space, so you see this idea of Puspaka Vimana is not unique. Humans can imagine the impossible and work towards making it a reality but when people quote from ancient literature and claim them as proof it’s ludicrous.

This renewed story of Rama’s bridge was resurrected when the Indian Ministry for Shipping suggested an option of cutting down travel time for ships by making a new canal (The Sethu Samudram project) through Adam’s bridge – a shallow area between India and Srilanka in the Palk straits. That sounds like a very rational idea but you know how the opposition parties in India are; they take the word ‘opposition’ rather literally. So they did what any self respecting bunch of politicians do; oppose anything that the ruling party comes up with irrespective of the merits of their decision. The ‘Sethu Samudram’ project would cut travel time and cost, many folds over for ships traveling to either sides of the Indian peninsula but our opposition parties don’t want anything that does good to the country, they cried foul using a very dirty trick. They touched on the sentiments of the majority. They used Hindu bodies to protest the move as a desecration of Hindu history.

When I learned geography as a young boy and obtained my first atlas in class six, I couldn’t help but notice that there were a series of islands between India and Srilanka called ‘Adam’s bridge’. This was at an age when I was still comprehending all the information I was being bombarded with. I was familiar with the story of the Ramayana. My mother had narrated to me the portion where the monkey army wrote Rama on stones and rocks and hurled them into the sea where they mysteriously floated to form a bridge. I had then wondered if Adam’s bridge could be remnants of Rama’s mythical bridge, but over a period of time reasoning and common sense had over ruled this notion. My friend however is of the category that has probably not looked at the atlas at the right age.

Adma’s bridge is so called because unfortunately it is the westerners who had taken pains to map the globe and when they were presented with two names for this geological phenomenon while mapping Indian shores, they chose the one that was closest to their culture. On the one hand Hindus’s claimed it is ‘Rama’s bridge’ for it was built by Rama’s monkey army and on the other the Muslims claimed Srilanka is the site of the mythical ‘Garden of Eden’ and when Adam was expelled he left Eden using this bridge and hence it is ‘Adam’s bridge’. Neither is true and a name means nothing. A quick look at the world will reveal that this is not an isolated phenomenon.

What we see is called a ‘tombolo’. There are many such examples around the world where Islands are connected to a larger land body by a narrow strip of sand that rises above the sea level. Adam’s bridge or Rama’s bridge is no exception. It has existed for eons. It is believed that the land bridge was intact till a few hundred years ago when tidal activity reduced them to a series of sand banks.

My argument is simple. Scriptures have to be comprehended with a pinch of salt. It cannot be taken as conclusive proof especially since various sources of the same story do not tally – no two versions match. It is but obvious that over the ages the true incident (if it at all occurred) has gone through numerous editions and a lot of spicing up. I am told there are 250 versions of the Ramayana alone. Did Rama really build the bridge or more realistically did the ancient Indian believe that the land bridge between India and Srilanka was miraculous and had to be built by the intervention of the supernatural? Today we live in a world where one can access information very easily. There is no excuse for blind faith. It is one’s duty to verify a claim against the available evidences.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

What did you eat today?

Like the saying no man is an island, our life is a complex web of influences from all that is around us. In the midst of all this I find it rather irritating when I come across people who think their culture and ways of life is the ideal path and that everyone else different from them are inferior. I believe that what we are is a result of numerous inputs over the ages and hence there is no independent identity.

My earliest recollection of when I started recognizing such attitude was at home as a teenager. We had neighbors who were from a southern part of Kerala and they had an infant son who like regular children his age would babble short sentences and reply to totally ridiculous questions that elders often ask children, like “Where is your nose?”. The problem is that he spoke a different version of Malayalam. On a few occasions I found my mom talk about this to other Palghat Malayalee women and laugh about it. All this ridicule happened because the child was growing up learning his native dialect. I forced my mom from correcting him and over the years she has given up this behavior. Incidentally as I grew older and reached college I realized that the Malayalam spoken by people in Palghat is far worse with its mixture of Tamil words and a completely off-key accent as opposed to the majority.

Let’s face it, no one is unique and people who respect this are ones I now appreciate. In this regard, the one area I see people extremely touchy about is in the area of food habits. I know people who pack precooked, ready to eat Indian dishes on journeys abroad because they just can’t adjust to anything else but their ethnic cuisine. This mindset often stems from the belief that all other dishes are paper mash in comparison to their own. I had a tough time in Malaysia the last two and a half months while shooting for a film because I refused to join in with others in our group who took great pleasure in criticizing the local fare. Hell I enjoyed every bit of Malay, Chinese and the Indian fusion Mamek food that Malaysia offered.

I had read an article in the Hindu many years ago regarding the evolution of Indian cuisine, and thanks to the net I was able to locate them. (I have provided links to the same at the end of this blog). The articles are with references to the books written by the late Dr. K. Thammu Achaya once a leading food and nutrition expert. I wouldn’t want to repeat what is written there, but he goes on to clarify how things we think are unique and Indian are not Indian at all. Here is a teaser for you – Did you know IDLY is not Indian? Rajma Chawal? Rajma is not Indian, hell rice is believed to have been brought in from Southeast Asia. Aloo Gobi? Neither vegetable are Indian. Gajar Halwa? Mirchi Ka Salan? Tomato Baath? The list is endless.

I love travelling. I love travelling to places that are not on the radars of regular tourists and so last September I travelled to the land of horses in Central Asia – Kazakhstan. I intend writing a blog on my awesome experiences there but for now here is something new that I found out. From the time I was a little kid I always associated the Samosa with North India and loved eating them at Chat houses with the channa gravy but I was in for a shock. One morning on my way to an archaeological site in Atyrau, Kazakhstan I stopped by to pick up breakfast at a local fast food joint. See the video below to know what I experienced.

Samosa is not Indian. So the next time you see someone who boasts about his Indian inheritance try taking time off to burst his bubble for today in the global village that we live in, he could prove to be an embarrassment.

Link to the Origins of Samosa

Hindu Article 1

Hindu Article 2

Monday, 4 June 2007


I have been traveling a lot lately and have had no time to really write. Unfortunate, for I have so much to share yet no time to put it into words. I got around to reading a few blogs from those I like reading and was looking at a post by wildflower where she talks about how she likes observing people and this reminded me of something. Being an actor I do this almost unconsciously.

I wish to narrate an incident that occurred many years ago during my college days. I had got involved with a friend in doing business across Madhya Pradesh and this took me across the length and breadth of the state. Needless to say this involved a lot of traveling, and traveling in the best possible way as Gandhi had explained. The Indian Railways truly is a great learning arena. You meet and can observe all sorts here. I was on a journey from Jagdalpur an obscure town in the district of Bastar in the erstwhile large state of Madhya Pradesh before its division. My destination was Bhopal. This involved traveling from Jagdalpur to Raipur by bus and from there by train. I reached Raipur rather early for my connecting train that was due to depart past midnight and had to kill 3 hours. I decided to do this on the railway platform at the Raipur station.

What I am about to tell you might sound completely unbelievable but I assure you it is a true story. I am one who does not like to differentiate between people but the world has evolved such that people behave and appear different and this helps us identify each other among the 6 billion plus that we are. I would like to state my disclaimer at this point as the community I am preparing to speak about is truly one of India’s frontrunners and they have contributed much to society, probably more than any other. I have great regard for them, for their courage, zest for life, beauty and achievements among so much more. I am talking about the Sikhs.

I am a Malayalee and I have often heard the two communities clubbed together when people make statements like, ’cockroaches, Sikhs and Malayalees can be found anywhere on earth’. Now I take this as a compliment and I am sure my Sikh brethren too would. Through the rest of my post I shall refer to them as ‘Sardars’ as it sounds grander- incidentally Sardar is a term of respect for those of you who did not know loosely meaning ‘Chief’. Fortunately or unfortunately they, like Malayalees, are also the butt of numerous jokes probably due to jealousy arising out of their affluence and achievements – or so I thought. All this went through a process of rethinking that night.

At around 12 midnight (and I am not making this up, it really was 12 midnight), I saw a huge extended family of Sardars walk onto the railway platform to see someone off. The family included mothers, grandmothers, adolescents, men and cute children with their unique headgear. They were a very vocal group and the silence that had almost made me doze off had now been broken and I was on high alert. I went about my business of observing.

A few moments later I saw a child jumping excitedly next to a weighing machine – the typical one with a large multicolored wheel spinning in the glass encasing on top. He wanted to weigh himself. An elder, probably his father, walked up to him at which point the child stopped his commotion. The man asked him to stand on the scale and was about to insert a coin into the machine’s slot when the boy started screaming again. The boy wanted to insert the coin himself; a perfectly understandable emotion among children – they want to feel in charge. The father promptly gave the boy the coin. The boy tried to reach the slot but couldn’t as it was too high for him. The next thing that happened got me rattled and this is the point I had to reassess my views on ‘Sardar Jokes’. The man lifted the boy off the scale and asked him to insert the coin.


Saturday, 2 June 2007

Chinese Whispers

Its amazing how humans have this great capacity of spicing up real events to make it sound good when narrating an incident. The scouts game of ‘Chinese Whispers’ is a serious syndrome.

Last evening I got an sos call from a friend saying some guy on a scooter hit his car from behind and fell down hurt. I rushed to the spot to see a huge crowed gathered there. They had forced an auto to stop against his wishes, thrust the injured man on the passenger who was in the back seat and the unhappy auto driver was being verbally abused by a bunch of losers for whom this was an opportunity to feel important. Why? Nobody knows. That’s how the game is played. If you have ever watched baboons, this is the same reaction that is evoked when an injured baboon is lying on the floor and the rest are watching – complete noise with no one making sense. This is how emergency care is provided in our country.

For the vast majority, there are two simple traffic rules when two vehicles have an accident. The owner of the more expensive vehicle is at fault no matter what the scenario and of the people involved in the accident, the more aggressive and vocal of the two is right. Proficiency in abusive language is also a great advantage. If your vocabulary is better, then they usually withdraw the onslaught. In the midst of a group of uneducated empty heads trying to call shots, my friend had established some order. He was very proficient and aggressive.

There was not much time for me to interact and I had no idea what was happening or how bad the injury was. The injured man had some abrasions on his face and was moving. I got into the Auto and rushed to the nearest hospital. The pandemonium was so bad that the passenger in the auto asked me if I was the one who had knocked him down and that's when I realized they had no clue of what was happening either. A few moments later I got a strong whiff as if I was passing a brewery. The injured man was drunk out of his wits. He probably had a full bottle in him.

We reached the hospital with my friend in tow in his car. Trust me; what you see in the movies is all crap. No one rushes to you with a stretcher, no one hurries to check vital signs and honestly, no one cares. The doctor came to the auto visibly upset probably because I disturbed his meal and very calmly proclaimed that he could be suffering from a head injury. Since the hospital had no MRI machine, we had to take him to a place which could do a CT scan on him. Guess the doc was not in the mood to save lives.

At this point the passenger who was holding on to the injured man in the back seat somehow magically vanished and it was now my job to hold on to the injured man in the backseat on our ride to the next hospital. The DRUNK injured man (Capitals because he was really piss drunk) was half on top of me and my only thought at that moment was that this guy would puke all over me. His friggin breath was making me high. I could swear he had TWO bottles of the most potent brew in him now.

On reaching the next hospital the whole drama was repeated. After a long wait, the stretcher men arrived and I had to pick up this really heavy DRUNK injured man onto it. We wheeled him into the casualty ward and into the doctors’ chamber. (I haven’t misplaced the apostrophe. There were three doctors in there). After a five minutes wait the lead doctor had a look at him and to my surprise the first thing he did was ask the nurse to remove his gold chain, two gold rings and watch and seal it in a cover. He then tried to ask the DRUNK injured man his name to which the DRUNK injured man, now a bit sober, almost hit the doc. I asked the unmoved doctor if he is going to be fine. He looked at me bored and said, “In about two hours he will get up and go home and come back tomorrow to pester for his belongings”. That’s why the doc was more concerned about his jewelry. In the midst of him blabbering some technical words to another doctor who was registering the arrival of the DRUNK injured man, I heard a scream – poison case. The doc looked at me, still bored and said, “go home’. Just another day in his life I guess.

My friend and I left the hospital to go back to the spot as my car was there. The shops on the street had shut. The huge gathering of helping citizens I had seen hovering like flies over feces had disappeared. We saw the scooter parked on the side. A street dweller woman was guarding it. We wanted to somehow inform the DRUNK injured man’s family and so we walked up to the woman to ask if someone had come asking for him. This is what she had to say – “I was sitting on the roadside when I heard a loud crash. The owner of this bike was mowed down by a car. My son-in-law and others chased the car for a while but the car sped away. A group of good samaritans then rushed the poor man to the hospital”. And all this to the same guy who was there from start to finish. My friend and I looked at each other, walked back to our cars and went home to get a drink.

The whole episode had taken about one hour. A rather bland story had transformed into a Hollywood flick. Going back to what I said in the beginning, the scouts game of ‘Chinese Whispers’ is actually a serious syndrome. If this can happen in one hour, imagine what can happen in a few thousand years. Ponder. Mahabharata, Brahma-Astr, Pushpaka-Vimana, Bheema, Ramayana, Ram, Krishna, Ayyappa…. The list is endless.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Thank god I’m an atheist!

Another birthday has come and gone and all I know is that I am delighted to be alive. Last year that time was a miserable day, but 365 days later, I’m sprinting. It’s an awesome high that I can hardly explain in words. The way that I live now just has to be classified as being sinful. I am over indulging myself, akin to gorging oneself on chocolates. The only solace is that I’m told chocolate is good for health and needless to say so is sex. Honestly it is. It will keep your heart in good shape and help you live longer. Damn, I’m only being health conscious!

I sat pondering the other day about how I wish to live it happily like there is no tomorrow. Trust me, you only live once and so I have plenty of gorgeous ladies in my life and I am not guilt ridden. Why should, expressing ones passion with multiple partners be considered unnatural or wrong? All other species of living beings don’t find it wrong so why should we be different for the sake of being different?

All this makes one thing really clear to me. I don’t live up to the conventional societal norms of one man one woman for I believe it is a moral binding created for convenience. Am I glad I am an atheist for I am convinced that were I to be a believer in the cosmic watchdog then I would surely be reserved a suite in hotel hell. The good part is that I will not be alone. All my close circle of friends will be there to keep me company, males and females alike. Hell, come to think of it the best of everybody will be around – It’s going to be one big party. Cheers!

Saturday, 17 February 2007

I love my cocaine

Ever since I returned to being single last year, I have been waking up at leisure except on days when I have a shoot. Valentine's Day was different. I was woken up pretty early to the sound of my cell phone intimating me of an sms. My text message alert audio is the blood-curdling screech of a women probably being murdered - a sound sample from the movie Psycho . I'm sure you can visualise that it wasn't a very pleasant way to find out that some sweetheart was thinking of me. And then there were more messages. After responding to every one of them, I started reminiscing about my first brush with love.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love being in love. Its the most unexplainable feeling, a feeling of perpetual high. I know that you have heard this from hundreds of others before, but what is intriguing is that even today, each time I fall in love, I still feel the same way I did years ago in school. I vividly remember the day I walked this cute girl home after we went out to the cafe to celebrate my birthday. She kissed me on my cheek right outside her house. She was my first girlfriend and that was my first romantic kiss. I can never forget it. I couldn't sleep the whole night. I kept breaking into duets in my mind and pictured myself in a grand music video running around trees with her. I was all of seven years that day.

We held hands and walked in parks a few more times till one fine day she dumped me for this other boy who had an Atari video game console. After that she wouldn't smile at me when we met in the playground and worse still, she was holding the other boy's hand. I was heartbroken. I soon realised that a girl could leave you for another guy if he had something more to offer than you did - I learnt pretty early.

I have no grudges when my woman chooses someone else over me, it's only human. A woman is supposed to look out for the best among men to satisfy her needs, material or physical. Similarly a man will look for as many women as he can try and impress. It would be a lie to say that the search ends one day. He will never find the ultimate love of his life, because each time he meets someone new its better than the last. Biologically he will keep searching. So don't beat the system.

As I grew older, 'Atari' changed form into cycles, motorbikes and fancy cars. Years have passed by since then and many girlfriends later, its still the same story. I know the sequence well. Faces change, names change, duration of the relationship differs but the script remains the same. Sometimes I am the boy with the 'Atari' and at other times not. Before long I was addicted to this game. I loved the chase and the triumph at winning the girl's heart.

Many years ago I was initiated into becoming 'doubting Thomas' by a number of books. One among them was 'I'm OK, You're OK' and I'm sure most of you would have read it. It was my first step into the world of 'transactional analysis' and it helped me understand, why I thought the way I did. Before long I would try and decipher each emotion as I experienced it, till I read a chapter on 'tracking one's feelings'. The idea was simple, why stop enjoying the moment when you are in the midst of something that's making you happy. I no longer pause to think when I'm experiencing pleasure. I just do it. It's my cocaine.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

What's the big deal?

Get philosophical, but don't get too philosophical with life. Its not all that complicated. You have managed to reach where you are today despite all the odds against you in going about your business of living, just like billions of others around the world. You did it all by yourself. Collective human intelligence, however, suggests that there is a controller who is calling the shots and keeping things in order. Look around you, there is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that calls for crediting any divine being.

Slow down for a moment. Do you feel that there is a purpose for your existence? Are you the chosen one? Or are you just caught up in this colossal global confusion, where your innate desire to be that unique molecule in this ocean called humanity, makes you feel like you just have to be special. Its great to have a high level of self worth but don't over do it. There is no special reason for your existence. You, like the rest of us that inhabit this planet, have no divine mission to accomplish.

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him". Buddha was a philosopher and he came up with this a few thousand years ago. He followed the ancient Sankhya school of philosophy; there was no room here for a supernatural being with powers to interfere with life either positively or negatively. Buddha did not believe in any cosmic CEO, he spoke about cause and effect, a balance. I comprehend this balance as an equilibrium that is maintained by thyself with the awareness of the merit of thine actions. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s just your own mind. To truly comprehend this thought, ask yourself this question, 'Is a good deed good because god said its good, or did god say its good, because it is good'? I know, it is sort of like the chicken and egg paradigm.

Why then are a majority of humans still living in this make believe world?'s convenient. We all need guarantees in life. There has to be a result for the actions we do. It would be a waste of time to do anything if there is no kickback. Why be good or do good if you are not going to gain anything? The birth of the concept of the almighty solved this problem. If there is someone who is always watching you, ready to reward you for your good deeds and punish you for the bad, it is worth giving it a shot. The evolution of god was also fool proof, if something undesirable happened then there is a reason behind it which is known only to the almighty. Heads he wins, tails you loose, like what my friend Ghosh points out, 'If you survive an accident its god's grace, and if you die its god's will'. The probability of anything happening now is covered with this thought process, so you can go about your life without having to feel responsible. I call this the 'Divine disclaimer'.

All this probably makes you feel like your presence is futile. Well its not. You need to give meaning to your existence. You need to choose. You are what you think you are. In your minds eye, step out of your body and look at yourself. What do you want this person to become? You have the tools; you just don't know how to use them. If god is acting as a catalyst for you, please continue using it. Ignorance is bliss and it’s very comforting to feel that there is a safety net to break your fall, if and when you slip during your trapeze act. I would rather practice and try to get better at it. I was not born an atheist, I chose to be one. It takes courage to denounce the accepted norms and take charge of your life. I don't say I am all powerful, but I don't believe in the existence of 'god' either. I don't need a crutch to walk this path of life.

Life is a big raffle draw :))

I have just about started reading a few blogs by others on the net.. it is interesting to see how the human mind works. I'm a big skeptic and love to dig deep to find out answers as to why things exist the way they do. The human mind has been and is a big target for me.. I started reading books on neurology, philosophy... and no, I still don't have a complete picture. This is but obvious, it is not practical to generalise the human mind. Men think differently from women and among men they think differently still. The quest continues....

What is interesting in this whole circus is the attitude of the majority towards regular occurrences. Almost everyone (I say almost) on this planet unanimously thinks that there is this supernatural, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent entity who has nothing better to do than to sit around all day and night and control everything.. and I mean everything - a leaf dropping from a tree to when Titanic hit the iceberg! Everyone is entitled to their own views I am told, so I let it be, but just stop for a moment and think. THIS IS A VERY DEPRESSING WAY TO LIVE!!! Don't wait around for the wind, start flapping.. fix a damn propeller!!

I don't say that you are in control of everything, but hell no one else is either... anything that happens to you is not premeditated by some almighty. I think life is like one big raffle draw. Look around and you always see some people hitting the jackpot... a prize that you wanted, but never got. 'Oh life is so bad, it sucks, its unfair'.... HELLO!!! Wake up... What you need to do is, buy the damn lottery ticket... some people might hit it on their first ticket yet some wont till its ticket 273, but it does not matter... the idea is to keep buying the DAMN TICKET!!!

So get out there and keep buying.. bet on everything you desire.. you are bound to hit the jackpot someday!