A Dowg's Life

I’m a dowg. Woof.

Cricket & I.

I am an Indian. I celebrate a million festivals while cribbing about the pollution, noise & nuisance it creates. I have numerous relatives who live with the illusion that they need to control my existence. I have an opinion about everything in life irrespective to whether it’s asked or not. I eat more and exercise less. At times, I live like a beggar. Other times, I am the king of the world. I drink. I abuse. I laugh. I cry. And I follow cricket like there is no other sport in this whole wide world.

Cricket, for some, is an amusing waste of time. For others, it’s a hobby they like to stay updated with. Some look at it as a sour dream. And then there are those who are ready to hurl at a mere mention of the game. For me, it is a way of life.

I was introduced to the fascinating world of Cricket in 1995. As always, my father was the reason I paid attention to the game. You see, unlike today’s generation, most of us looked up to our parents & did things to impress them and make them smile. We did have our dreams & goals in our lives but at no point hurting or crushing our parent’s hopes were a part of the plan. I never thought that a random question by my father would actually change the way I will look at life from that point on. His question was about Murlidharan being called a ‘chucker’ by an Australian umpire during the Boxing Day test match in 1995.

Till that day, I never had any hobby; I was too busy with my studies & adjusting in new neighborhood/school. Father was in the Indian armed force & got transferred to a new location every couple of years. This made me an introvert, as I didn’t see any reason in making friends or hanging out at new places in town. Sooner rather than later, I was made to go through the whole process again. Thankfully, cricket became my new friend. It became a person who would stick by me irrespective of my location. It was my funny, interesting, exciting & more over, exhilarating friend. Every day it would throw a new challenge, ask me questions & then show me a way to make things work. Time and time again, it has proved the age-old clichés correct.

“Where there is a will, there is a way” | “Luck favors the brave” | “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”

In 1996, barely three months after getting thrashed around by the mighty Australians, Sri Lanka won the Cricket World Cup. Their players were questioned after the Australian tour. Their integrity was on the line. Result? 8 games: 8 wins! They topped the Group stage, partly because Australia & West Indies refused to play them citing security concerns. Sri Lanka’s biggest challenge lay ahead when they found themselves against the now favorite Indian team in India’s favorite stadium in front of over 100,000 screaming fans supporting the home team.

This was probably the biggest game in the history of Sri Lankan cricket. One man stood up & silenced everyone. Aravinda De Silva, known as Mad Max, kept his cool & outplayed India and repeated the same against the Australians in the Final. Man of the match in back-to-back games. He believed in himself & was rightly supported by his team members.

1996: I was 14 and was learning very quickly from my new best friend. I was looking forward to challenges in life. I was looking forward to face my nightmares.

“There is no short cut for success” | “Don’t lie, cheat or steal” | “Patience is a virtue”

Mohammad Azharuddin & Ajay Jadeja were the cricketing idols for many millions. They played the game with beaming smiles, termed as the best fielders in the Indian team, they made way to many hearts with their flamboyancy on the field. One was the most successful captain in the history and the other had demolished many attacks and earned a tag of a ‘finisher’. These two gentlemen were widely respected & accepted as the influential figures in the cricketing arena. In 2000, they were found guilty for match fixing. A prompt life-ban was put on both & they were thrown out unceremoniously. World cricket has seen many such examples since this episode; some were shocking while others were shoved under the carpet.

I have always wondered why would anyone risk his/her name & fame, which took years and years of hard work & dedication. I am still wondering.

2000: We had shifted to Bombay a year back. Smiling came easy & making friends was not a task anymore. At 18, there were options of going abroad to make a good living (Family business) without any further education. Easy money never seemed so easy before. I chose college and till date it remains the best decision of my life.

“What goes up, must come down” | “Nothing is permanent” | “Never assume”

For over three decades, West Indies ruled the cricketing world. Everything about them was grand. Big bully batsman, fierce looking bowlers, Nonchalant all-rounder & above all, big-hearted fans. Sadly, I only saw the glimpses of their brilliance as most of the legends had retired from the game. But, watching players like Brian Lara, Carl Hooper, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose & Shivnarine Chanderpaul was enough to imagine the rich heritage of their cricket. These men played with flair & pride. They played for the love of the game. Till date, no other team comes anywhere close to the West Indians for the passions for life & cricket.

After dominating the game for years, they were on a rapid downfall. Lack of support systems, retirement of cricketing legends, bad pay structure & above all the ignorance towards their opponents were the main reasons behind their failure. Late 1990s & early 2000s were probably the harshest on their cricket. The super heroes were mere mortals now and were getting mutilated on every soil. Everyone expected them to bounce back like the old times but paid no attention basic rule of good planning & preparation.

2003: At 21, I was stepping out of my teenage life & discovering the real meaning of life. No more air castle, only the brutal realities waiting to pounce on me. I was ready!

“Nothing but the best” | “One must earn respect” | “Records are made to be broken”

Australia was the new West Indies of the cricketing world. Three World Cup wins. 16 consecutive test match wins. 10 years of dominating each & every opponent in each & every game. Champion bowlers. Champion batsmen. Champion wicket keepers. Champion team. Even on their off days, Australia was better than most teams playing at 100% potential.

The new age Australian cricketers took bench strength, fitness level, support staff and mental integration to a completely new level. They didn’t like to lose. They didn’t want to lose. They did everything to be a winner. Every year. Every month. Every week. Every hour. Australians went about their business of being winners with the same dedication, hard work & courage. Amazingly, they showed the world that life away from cricket was just as exciting & entertaining. Brett Lee sang, Mathew Hayden cooked, Shane Warne played poker & Steve Waugh made homes for children. No matter what they did, they did it like champions.

2007: I sold my share to my partner & bit adieu to our two-year-old company. After living my life in school, college & office; I was finally ready to embrace good things that this world had to offer. I had never known my family till then, nor did I travel much for pleasure. All the wrongs were rectified without any further delay. I was finally free at the age of 25.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

Indian cricket has seen many legends in its rich history. Some deserved every bit of the fame, while some were gifted the throne by the media. One person, however, never received the due credit for his never-ending pursuit of perfection on the cricketing field. He lived, unfortunately, in the shadow of other legends. If there ever was one Indian cricketer that everyone took for granted, it was Rahul Dravid. In the remarkable career (Since 1996) there is only one match where he was fully credited for his performance (Vs Australia at Adelaide in 2003-04). For me, Rahul Dravid is best Indian cricketer of all time.

“Failure is success if we learn from it.” – Malcolm Forbes

Born with a silver spoon, he followed his passion for cricket with utter disdain. After his prolific performance in the domestic matches, he was given a chance to play at the highest level. One game & few rumors of him not being a team man, he was dropped from the team. Sourav Chandidas Ganguly took all the criticism in his stride & emerged a stronger player. He stormed in the Indian team after 5 years and never looked back. In his twelve years of International cricket, he created many records & became the most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket. If not for his aggression & optimism, Indian team wouldn’t have been the champions they are today.

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” – Vince Lombardi

Steve Waugh is probably the most influential & successful captain in the history of the game. He infused confidence & the winning passion in his team to make the world champions for over a decade. Mind games were his specialty and he always lead with example. He truly won everyone’s respect by winning everything that stood in his way. Post retirement, he has won many hearts by working in a foreign country for the needy.

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley

As I mentioned earlier in this article, I would have been oblivion to the perks of this sport if not for Muttiah Muralitharan. From being called a ‘chucker’ and facing a ban from cricket, this man went on to break all the records of the game. The highest wicket taker in Tests & One day international, ‘smiling assassin’ is easily the most successful bowler of all times. Always smiling and trying to give his 150%, Murali has been the epitome of the ‘spirit of the game’.

2011: Today, I have everything I dreamed of at the age of 18. After numerous failures in life, I am finally in my happy place. I am married to a beautiful woman & have the most loving and caring family. Professionally, I wouldn’t trade my place with anyone in the world. More importantly, I have all my priorities straight.

I am evolving every day and I owe it all to this wonderful game called Cricket.

Chapter 2 – Pearly whites.

Three days ago.

“Wake up, Arya.” She said, as she made her way to the bathroom.

“Close the damn curtains.” Screamed Arya, hiding his face under the pillow. His head was still hurting from last night’s fight.

“Wake up! It’s already 11 and we have to reach Jatin’s house at 12!” Vanita blurted out while brushing her teeth.

“2 minutes, Mom.” Said Arya, as he tried to reach for his watch.

“I am not your mother & if I was, I would have spanked your sorry ass for messing with those idiots last night.” She was now sitting next to him on the bed. Still brushing her teeth.

“What the fuck! Go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Gross!”

“Why? You didn’t have any problem with my open mouth last night, did you?” She said with a cheeky grin, walking back to the bathroom.

“Shut up! You are disgusting.” He sat up & looked around for the cigarette packet.

“I know I am disgusting.” She gargled. “And isn’t that why you love me?” She said as she blew a kiss to him.

“Blah blah blah. You talk too much. Come here & give me a kiss.” He smiled.

“No! We are getting late. I am taking a shower. Please take Joy for a walk, and give him milk from the fridge.” She closed the bathroom door only to open it and quickly walking towards him & planted a kiss on his forehead. “I love you!”  She said as she closed the bathroom door again.

“I love you too, Mrs. Vanita Arya Rathore.” He murmured as he lit his cigarette & walked out of the bedroom.

Chapter 1 – Shivers.

He stood still. Holding the remote in one hand & cigarette in the other. His thumb was firmly pressing the ‘+’ button, changing the channels every 2 seconds. The cigarette hadn’t been lit. He stood still, without realizing where he was.

Seconds turned in minutes and minutes into hours. He stood there flipping the channels, ignoring the barks of his beloved dog. Light breeze was now causing him to shiver underneath the wet clothes. He smiled and fell on his knees. Water was dripping from his hair and tears from his eyes.

Slowly, he crawled towards the wall & screamed, scaring away the dog. His face was now soaked in his own tears and blood. His hand was cut and bleeding profusely. He looked around for a familiar face. There was none. He was alone.

Crying & shivering, he curled up and slept on the floor. With every breath, he was hoping that this nightmare would end with the morning sun.

Rose.

Dated, September 2008

I am angry.
I am frustrated.
I am worried.
I am confused.
I am aimless.
I am someone else!

Often, I question myself and get no reply. Everything looks the same and yet seems unknown. Familiar voices don’t make much sense. Lingering feeling of being sick despite a perfectly good health.

No drastic pulse in the recent past, which could have made me change so much, or atleast, nothing that I could remember. Maybe the lack of alcohol in my body was causing me to hallucinate. Maybe it was excruciating pain of saying no to drugs. Maybe my rusting idle mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe it was nothing.

Someone was laughing… AT ME! Who? I don’t know.

I found myself at a hospital, with my father. India’s best cancer hospital, or is it India’s best Private cancer hospital? I think it’s the latter, maybe not. We, the people, often relate below standard, time consuming & complete worthless service only with the government run organizations; This place, however, takes the cake with the cherry on top, or under the table in some cases. I couldn’t spot a single staff member under 40; be it the frustrated ‘over friendly’ doctor, hyper ‘laidback’ receptionist, horny ‘snobbish’ ward boys or the sexless ‘motherly’ nurse. They might be below 40; maybe this place makes them look old, ugly & heartless. This hospital is capable of infecting any perfectly healthy individual purely by its smell and/or depressing walls. Maybe it’s their business strategy. Just when I thought I had my hands full with life, I get this new ‘reality’ thrown at my face. My father is diagnosed with lung cancer.

Someone screamed ‘Take that you sucker’ and walked off laughing his heart out. Who? Screw it!

There is nothing worse than spotting pain on your father’s face. For you, he was the strongest man in the entire world. For you, he could do no wrong. For you, nothing can ever scare him. Now, he wouldn’t even look in your eyes, lest you find his fears.

The best you can do at such moments is keep your mouth, eyes and mind, shut. Keep telling yourself that it is nightmare & it will be over soon. That’s precisely what I did. I zoned out.

‘Hi I’m Rose, what’s your name?’

For few moments I forgot everything; no anger, no frustration, no confusion, no hate, only peace! The most beautiful creature on this hideous planet had made her way to my right. Ballerina shoes, hair pulled back neatly, toy mobile in hand, dressed in a cute pink outfit; she looked like a princess. I think she was one. Her smile blew me away. I had to smile back at her. She didn’t wait for my reply but made sure I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she ran from one corner to the other. I wasn’t alone; everyone had forgotten their problems and were smiling at this bundle of joy. She didn’t care; She was busy making faces at the staff members – almost taunting them to catch her. She introduced herself to everyone in the room without bothering for a reply. She laughed with all her heart and love all the attention. This went on for about 5 minutes before her mother escorted her to the doctor’s cabin.

‘Bichari ko brain cancer hai… I don’t think she’ll be around for her 6th birthday’ said the man sitting with my father. 

I couldn’t believe my ears. I refused to accept it. SOMEONE THAT SMALL & HARMLESS DOES NOT DESERVE THIS! I wished that I could trade places with her.

Whistle followed by a sadistic laughter. Didn’t see anyone. Didn’t need to. I knew who it was!

Rose occupied my mind for the rest of the day and I kept wishing for ‘trade’!

Another sadistic laughter! Why now? What for? I was only wishing good for someone. All I wanted was to take place so that she can lead my life. Nothing! Silence! Clear mind! Selfish mind! Criminal mind!

Without even realizing I had wished the worse for that poor girl. She was living the way she wanted, she brought a smile to everyone, she made them forget their woes for that brief moment, she was loving the attention, she was smiling, she was happy! Look at me – I hate everyone, detest every emotion, happiness eludes me & I’ve even forgotten to smile.

She was merely losing her body while continuing to live in everyone’s memories – I am dead and nobody even realized it!

Dated, June 2011.

My father is cancer free for three years. Rose passed away in April 2009.

To Hate, With Love.

You,

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

I’ve tried and tried and tried and failed. I’ve never failed in my life except when it comes to you. I hate you for neglecting my entire existence. Time and again, you have broken me down & left me doubting myself. I never asked for any commitment. I never asked for more than a moment. All I ever wanted was to be with you, once. Yes, only once!

I still remember how beautiful you looked when we first met. I never thought that something so perfect could exist in this world. But, there you were, proudly standing with that ugly man who loved all the attention he received because of you. I just stood there, marveling at you, while you smiled naked, obliging for the cameras and sets of ogling eyes.

I have wanted you for as long as I can remember. Why do you do this to me? Why do you mock me and laugh at my expense? Why wouldn’t you tell me that we are not meant to be? Why do you give me hopes when I muster the courage to move on? Why? You sleep with millions but choose to ignore me, why?

You have made me an addict. A hope-addict. Every single day, I hope that you would change your mind and come to me. Every single day, I wish that I had enough in me to move on. Every single day, I realize that I have to have you, whether in this life or the next. Every single day, I see you, in reality & in my dreams. Every single day, my hate for you increases many folds.

I know you are enjoying every bit of my misery, but get this straight. No matter how much you resist, I will get you and you will be mine.

Till then, I’m going to drink & pretend you do not exist.

I hate you, six pack abs. I hate you.

(I wrote this article for a dear friend. Please visit http://www.talktothewall.in and experience the awesomeness called Manavi)

Hello, heaven! Part 3.

June 2009.

Today, I didn’t need the alarm or dad’s intense glare to wake me up. In fact, I woke him up by giving him the same treatment! Payback is such a bitch! Heh

We hired a cab for the rest of our stay in Jammu and as per the instructions, he reported to duty sharp at 0700hrs (go figure!). Today’s itinerary was pretty exciting as we were visiting Vaishno Devi and then heading straight to Patni Top, which is considered to be next best to Srinagar.

It started drizzling when we left and for some reason it bothered Mom. According to her the helicopter wouldn’t work if it were raining. Yes, my mother has an explanation for everything, and yes, we were taking the ‘Chopper’ to cut the distance by 11.6 kms. Sandeepji, our cab driver, was an extremely polite and informative man. To be honest, I thought he was a full-time guide who was making some easy money by driving people around. He made sure the drive to the helipad was lovely, not that he had to try hard as the weather was way too beautiful to pay any attention to the bumpy ride. Funny thing, the car’s stereo used to stop every time the car hit a pothole. No kidding! Twice the RJ tried to ask some question for her listeners but was muted by the wonder car only to start again and play ‘Teri ore’ or ‘Tera  suroooooooor.’

Question, what will happen to Himesh bhai if he sat in this car for few hours? *Devilish grin*

90minutes drive and a chai break later we were at the Sanjhi Chhat ie the helipad. I couldn’t wait to be in the helicopter and thanks to the Pawan-Hans employees; we were ready to fly within 15 minutes! DUUUUDE! They made me sit next to the pilot! I don’t know whether I was happy or peeing my pants. It was a strange experience; I was smiling from ear to ear and yet had stomach cramps! It’s not same as sitting in an airplane, as I had thought in the morning.  I bet Sardarji pilot’s caller tune was ‘I believe I can fly’… That’s all it was – flying!

3 minutes and 17 seconds later, we reached our destination. From here, it’s a 2.5kms walk to the temple. I, being practical, suggested horseback ride. Mom refused stating ‘Maata himmat degi’. It was an amusing statement, as she can’t walk that well. Yea, couple of knee surgeries does that to you. I tried to convince her but gave up soon!

This was it! We were moments away from Maata and it actually cleared my mind of all the usual clutter. It has been a long time since I felt this way. It was a different feeling and I was enjoying it to the fullest. Took us an hour to reach the checkpoint and for some reason I was only reflecting on my life in the past decade, be it social, personal or professional. This walk was no different from any of those. I knew my destination and I was taking steps, slow at times and rapid at others, to get there. Isn’t that what we all do? Set a target and go for it? Anyway, we eventually got to the VIP entrance. Mom was struggling and was feeling the immense pain in her legs, Dad was tired too but not once did he lose his straight face or let go of Mom’s hand. I might find myself at war with him in day-to-day life but I know I’ll die a happy if I manage to be half the man he is at 60.

We entered the queue from the army gate and soon, we were part of those who were waiting in the line for hours. Just like daily life, even at temples, money & reputation holds more value than the less blessed individuals. People from different caste, culture, societies and states were together in this queue, screaming ‘Jai Maata Di’, louder every single time. It reminded me of the little rascal in the train. I felt bad that I cursed him for howling and disturbing my sleep, especially when I wasn’t any different from him. To think of it, that poor bastard was crying because no one could understand his language. I, on the other hand, scream when I am happy, sad, angry or ecstatic. Its weird how my mind was in different zone when, ideally, I should have been thinking about the list of things I wanted from God or about everything that I had to thank her for. Mom was really struggling now but like Dad she kept her pain in control and kept walking towards the temple.

Some facts bout Vaishno Devi temple; It’s not like any other temple that you might have seen as there is no statue or photo of any God inside the temple. You have to walk inside a tunnel, where the police will push you as if u were in jail and they were taking a headcount after a field day. Once u do reach the place, you will have less than couple of seconds to, one, look at the right spot to pray, two, remember everything that you wanted to ask/thank, three, bend over and pay respect, four, ignore the push from others, five, get the most important tikka on your forehead, six, pray to other two gods present with her (Vaishno Devi is accompanied with Kali Mata and Sarasvati Mata) and last but not the least, lose yourself in her presence. Oh Yes! It really doesn’t get better than this.

So, just like that, it was over. Half hour in cab to the station, 30 hours in train to Jammu, one and half hour to reach Katra, 3 minutes in the helicopter, and hour to reach the VIP entrance, and then the final wait in the queue. All this for less than 3 seconds in her presence!

This was, and still is, the best journey of my life. (June 2011)

Hello, heaven! Part 2.

June 2009

Part 2

Traveling in train can be quite an experience, if taken in the right spirit. I didn’t. I couldn’t. Every second was pissing me off! We weren’t even halfway to our destination and I was already considering getting off at the next station.

Three magazines, one packet of cigarettes and few rounds of cards later, we were ready for dinner. Btw, my mother is a fabulous cook and I can bet on my life that noone can make a better non-vegetarian delicacy better than her. So, I forgot everything and served myself a big fat mutton piece. Mr. & Mrs. Jignesh Shah were squirming at me as I feasted myself to the bone. To be honest, I was tempted to offer them some. Maybe tomorrow. Heh.

Post dinner, it was time to get back to my third grade second-class seat. It’s strange how the whole look of a train changes when u walk from a ‘sophisticated’ air-conditioned surroundings to a ‘down grade’ second-class environment. One Gujju family wanted to strangle me while the other was offering me theplas & khakras. Strange world. Strange people.

I was kept awake by the little monster’s constant howling. I think he was trying to communicate with his buddies back in Bombay! I could never figure out the source of their energy, you know. How do they manage to increase their screams every minute? Itni choti jaan aur itni tez aawaz.  Here’s an idea, why don’t we invent a car that runs purely on baby-cry? Let’s face it, we are producing these little rascals by the dozens every minute, so, why not make some use of them and reduce our sufferings? I hope no Chinese Hakka noodle is reading this… Back off!

After changing my seat for the convenience of my co-passengers, I finally found one middle birth to sleep. I think I got an hour’s shuteye before someone’s laughter woke me up. This was different, you know, full-hearted laugh, which always ended with a sad sigh! Took a peek towards the toilet and found 4 middle aged men having a merry time with handful of bidis and desi daaru. I stood there for a bit, had one cigarette before offering one to the laughing Buddha. he looked like a story teller, sitting in the middle. Now, six people were surrounding him. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse ‘Dhanyawaad baabu.. Ab aap harari bidi lo.. Specially Manali se laaye hai.. Kadwi nahi lagegi aapko’ Soon, I exchange my ciggerette packet for the gold leave bidis and within no time I was sharing the ‘homemade’ daaru as well. You must try this combination, with the same bunch of people, at this same time, in this same train! Oops, you cant! Suckers!

These men had ample of stories, about anything and everything! Some you question, while others leave u speechless and then some which will make u roll on the floor laughing your ass off. One guy was traveling to Vaishano Devi as his mother wanted to visit the God herself, but she died of some kind of disease a year back. I thought of clicking some snaps but was stopped when he said ‘Babu us wakhat hame 20 hajaar ki zaroorat thi maa ko bachane ke liye par hamare kheto ki fasal kharab ho gayee.. Bichari apne pote(grandson) ka mu dekhe bina hi mar gayee’. I had bought this phone exactly a year back and it had cost 20 thousand!

For a fairly old man, this was his fourth visit to Vaishano Devi, this time, he was sure that he would be able to muster the remaining 12.5 thousand rupees he needed to pay off the agriculture loan and wont let it extend for another year. Last Friday, I lost 12.5K in poker!

The youngest of the lot had quite a few stories as well. One reminded me of Slumdog Millionaire. His name was Pawan. He traveled everyday from Paanipat to Ambala and back, cleaning the garbage that we ‘civilized & educated’ people throw on the floor. He had a younger sister, who was too young to work, his mother works in the field and he didn’t know who his father is or was. In other words, he was the man of the house now and was very proud of making Rs. 100 everyday. He is 7!! I will be 27 in a month and I blow 100 bucks on smokes everyday!

After the daaru and bidi session, I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest man among this crowd. I looked around and saw everyone was in snoring away to glory, maybe dreaming of a perfect world. I, on the other hand, was wise awake. Am I really the lucky one? Maybe, maybe not!

Weirdly enough, three of them didn’t know their birthdates, while the rest 5, including myself, are born in the month of July!

Hello, heaven! Part 1.

June 2009.

Part 1

The day is finally here. Today, we make a trip to visit the one of the most elusive yet highly worshipped Hindu Gods. They say ‘chalo bulawa aaya hai, maata ne bulaya hai’ and before one can finish this line, someone else will say, rather force the fact that you cannot visit her until she wishes to see you. I used to wonder about the latter statement but as I sit in this train, which takes 30 hours to reach, I have accepted that it’s the fact and you can’t anything about it!

I have visited this temple some 12 years ago along with my 20 odd relatives. Today’s trip was suppose to include those 20 relatives plus their children. As it turns out, after 3 months of planning, its only Mom, Dad and me, who are traveling while the rest had to cancel due to certain ‘unavoidable’ reasons. Original plan would have justified the long train journey as we cousins always have good times together. Not so much fun now! I found out little too late to back out, felt like a mouse biting the cheese placed nicely in the trap!

Coming back to the present day, the alarm went off at 0630 hrs (that’s 6:30 in the morning you morons). Took me precisely 10 seconds to get out of my bed – not by will, purely by force. My father was standing within a feet of me! Morning tea wasn’t required as I was up and about like a watchdowg, strange how dad’s method of waking me up still works even after finishing school over a decade ago! Mom’s constant comments didn’t faze me as I went about packing my bags while brushing my teeth. Yea, I am multi tasking! Also, I always pack just before I leave! An hour later we were on our way to the station, I don’t quite remember when I stopped replying to Dad’s questions. Maybe the moment he asked “Why do you carrying your laptop?” If only you knew Dad, If only!

So, here we were, standing the Borivali station at 0810hrs (that’s 8:10 am, idiots!) and Mom had a sudden attack of realization! I would have chosen other words, but c’mon guys, she is my Mother! She said ‘kitni bheed haina Bombay main.. Dekho, saari local trains full hai itni subah bhi’. I know it wasn’t anything major and she was only trying to lighten ours moods. But c’mon Mom, I expected better! How about “We should have taken a flight straight to Jammu or at least till Delhi” Ignoring her comment I asked Dad about the total travel time. He looked at Mom and said “We’ll reach tomorrow.” No exact number, no approx time either. The mouse just keeps coming closer and closer to the trap!

Train arrives and we all take our seats, Dad still cribbing bout the laptop and Mom checking out everyone on the neighboring seats. It feels like I am destined to travel with either a crying child or a couple over 100 years old. Today, the old couple turned out to be Gujratis and the Punjabi couple with an infant. For fuck’s sake lets call them Mr & Mrs. Jignesh Shah, The Kapoors & the Monster Baby. Btw, I think Gujjus are the most obnoxious and senseless travelers

The journey begins and with it, the hauling of MB. I think he needed something to drink. How dumb! What’s the point of crying son, just wink at your father and he’ll get you some whisky on the rocks. Mr. Kapoor seems like a man who starts his drinking sessions with a morning cup of tequila! Anyway, MB kept crying even after gulping down a gallon of milk and some. I wonder why is it illegal to slap these little maniacs to shut them up! C’mon wouldn’t you be tempted to beat the hell out of your neighbors dog if it kept barking through the night? I would!

After exchanging fake pleasantries with the Shahs & Kapoors, Dad hands me my ticket and asks me to go and get it signed by the TC. Quite surprising! Why, you ask? I’ll tell you! When three family members are traveling, you don’t need to individually get your tickets checked. After a long pause, he says ‘Oh yea, we couldn’t get you in the same compartment. Your reservation is in the seventh bogey from here. It’s in second class.’ Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you trap a mouse! So, after a long argument with my father, I leave to find my true place, value, seat! 5 A/C and 1 cooking boogey later, I reach the stinking second class. Guess what! Another fucking hauling monster, this time belonging to a joint family of 9 – all Mr. & Mrs. Jignesh Shahs! I waited for the TC for about 45minutes. Hungry for food & cigarettes. Completely mindfucked, I kept waiting despite the constant stares from my fellow passengers. Maybe I was looking like Paulomi from Roadies! The only difference – This was Hell within, and all around me!

What’s worse you ask? Its only 1230 hrs! Yes, I am missing home within the first 4 hours of this fabulous trip.

Love.

What is love?

Is it a feeling, like hunger? Is it a necessity, like breathing? Is it a style statement, like a mobile? Is it a hobby, like cricket? Is it a passion, like life? Is it everything yet nothing at all?

Anyone? Everyone? No one?

It is probably the most common four-letter word in the history. You may associate it anything and anyone, your parents, your partner, your pet, your confidant, your poison, yourself! But can anyone actually define Love? Yes? I am willing to the person who can satisfy my curiosity & give me a definitive answer. I’ll pay you in kind, maybe shower you with Love!

When do you know that you are in love?

Is it when you forget everything and everyone & spend 30 hours a day visualizing yourself with your Significant Other (SO)? Is it when you can’t stand anyone speaking wrong about the only ‘perfect’ person in your life? Is it when your blood boils if your SO gives more importance to someone other than you? Is it when you feel empty in their absence & spring to life with a mere SMS? I wouldn’t say that I have spent an enormous time trying to figure this mystery, but I surely have experienced the ups & downs that it brings. Its strange how all the cliché & filmy dialogues don’t seem funny anymore when you are a part. Things that defy common sense suddenly flood your mind & you start believing in its existence. “I’ll get the stars & moon for you” – Right!!

Is it a happy feeling?

Research tells us that ‘Love’ is the main cause for suicide. It’s weird as it is suppose to fill your life with happiness and joy but it ends up making it even worse. Now, take for eg. An ice cream, you like your lips when it changes color with every lick, you like the soft yet frozen feel on your tongue, you like the way it feels as it makes its way from your mouth all the way to your stomach – But would you harm yourself once you are done enjoying it? No! At max you will order one more. You will relish it for a while but you will surely not (I hope) bang your head against the wall till you buy one more (Maybe during pregnancy, but that’s a whole different situation). Everything in this world is optional; food, clothes, work or friends and the best part is that you don’t have to stick to one option. Your are allowed to eat a Chinese pizza with a pudina chatni, wear Om kurta with denims & Italian shoes, live in Indian home with Romanian interiors equipped with Korean technology but, for some unexplained reason, its not acceptable to love two individuals at the same time. It’s against the society code of conduct and is termed as cheating!

Why?

I don’t think society by itself has anything against loving two people. In ancient civilizations people were comfortable with the fact that the human race is not meant to be monogamous. It was understood that one would have multiple partners. Even Indian mythology has proof that earlier civilizations enjoyed polygamy. It really depends on whether your partner has it in her/him to understand that love can happen with two or more people. Sadly most people are not even willing to understand this concept, maybe because with love comes possessiveness & territorialism. Many people aren’t secure enough in themselves to give in to free love.

I wrote this piece around 2 years back based on a random comment by a friend. Do I believe in free love? Yes! Do I believe in polygamy? No!

Kaun banega 20-hazaarpati?

Blog date: June 2010.

I’m a happy man today. Rains do that to me. I received an image around midnight on my Blackberry showing the first few drops from the sky and soon Facebook & Twitter was flooded with updates from Bombay people about their delight at this sudden drop in temperature. Out came my last cigarette and with chilled beer in hand I enjoyed the moist breeze sweep across my apartment. After, probably the hottest summer in history, I doubt if the companies supplying air-condition were relishing this climate as much as I was. It’s true that nothing lasts forever & I was already preparing myself for a humid day to follow.

I woke up to the constant beeping of my phone; my buddies were going on about how glad they were about this ‘soulful’ decision taken by GK. At 8 in the morning, it was little too serious for me to digest but considering the fact that it was actually an important discussion even my inputs were required. What did I do? I slept again! Duh!

So, after my morning masala chai & reading the sports section in TOI I got back to my Blackberry group chat. It took me about 3 minutes to scroll all the way up and another 15 to go through the entire conversation. So, here’s the deal, GK collected payment for a job he is about to pull off in the coming week and his client handed over 20,000 rupees extra to him. Yea, cash payment is still pretty usual in today’s date despite the constant reminders from the Government about its ill effects on the society and the development of our country. Anyway, coming back to the conversation – the extra payment was done by mistake. I think the envelopes were mixed or something but the bottom line is that GK had some extra cash, which he realized once he got home late last night. I think his client was enjoying the rains as well. Hee Hee

Our conversations had four main contributors, as the others were either out of station or had better things to do. I think it’s the latter.

GK is a typical Gujju guy who loves his dandiya and thepla as much as bonding with other Gujjus. Also, he love going on regular religious trips. I prefer to get drunk and wake up with a massive hangover to deal with issues in my life but he prefers to take long road trips to achieve the much-needed peace of mind. His last such visit was quite interesting (more about in the coming articles or on other thoughts, never!). This guy is probably the most emotional person in the entire lot. He cried when Jack died in Titanic!!!! We all refer to him as RDB as he is more than capable of sending/singing/dancing ‘Roobaru’ song at any given point of time. I have had the pleasure of getting him drunk and then watching him make a fool of himself. With God’s grace, I shall continue to laugh at his expense for a long time! *Evil grin*

RN is tall, fair & unusually ‘slim’ Sindhi dude. Trust me when I say that any girl would give her right arm to have his waistline. He is a banker by profession and according to all of us, is the biggest dhabba on all Sindhis!! We say this because he has literally spent more on others and has never kept a record of the money he lent to his friends. An extremely meticulous guy; from knowing exactly where his socks are kept to which mutual fund to buy. Always a sound thinker but sadly not a do-er (as yet), he has all the perfect life plans already set in his mind and is working his way towards achieving everyone of his goals slowly but surely. I turn to him to get his support for the wrongs I want to commit in my life & he backs me 100% without blinking an eyelid. I always wanted to say this to him and now seems to be the perfect time. So, here goes – Fuck you dude for lighting my first cigarette and for making my first drink. I will get back at you for spoiling me and one day you shall pay for the being my support system. SCREW YOU!!!

DF is probably the most unusual and strange person in my group. Unusual because he can be summarized by one simple word – Humanitarian! Strange because he is an overly selfless person and a complete giver under any situation. I have asked him quite a few times if he is indeed a human and he has always smiled and ignored my question. Honestly, I can’t be bothered about my second cousin’s wedding but he will make it a point to attend his maid’s cousin’s neighbor’s step-daughter’s child’s school friend’s fourth marriage! He is an immensely talented individual but hasn’t achieved the due glory only because of his goodness. Even his employer knows that he is worth at least three people’s brain and skills. How? He works like an ass (or is it dowg?) around the clock to makes sure he meets the deadlines AFTER helping his colleagues to complete their respective tasks. I don’t know what I did in the past to deserve this weirdo but I am glad I have him on my speed-dial.

I am the fourth contributor and as you already know, I am awesome!

The topic was actually over even before I punched in my first comment. Why? Simple! GK messaged his client at 7 am to inform him of the extra payment and was almost outside his house to return the money. I was quite pissed off to know that he thought this good deed would get him more money and more work from the client.

C’mon man he is paying you to organize his wedding. You expect him to keep getting married every month?” was my only addition to the entire conversation. The very next moment I got a call from GK (you have to see his display photo, hilarious to say the least). He was already on conference with the other two musketeers and was ready to gang up on me for my ‘rude’ comment. What followed was a great eye opener for me. Eye opener – not because I agreed with them but because of the realization that our upbringing has such an extreme affect on us and we never really grow out of it.

“I don’t want to keep the money which I haven’t eared” “What is not yours, will never be yours” “Cheating ka paisa kabhi kisi ko hajam nahi hota” There were quite a few similar dialogues which came my way during the conference call while I made my way through heavy traffic. By the time we all reached our respective offices, I ‘accepted’ the fact that it was really a ‘good deed’. GK was ‘right’. His client ‘deserved’ to know the truth.

My real thoughts?

I think it was absolutely ridiculous to even think of returning the money. In today’s cutthroat market you need every push possible to get yourself ahead of your competition. 20,000 rupees might not be a big amount but it surely would have paid three of his employee’s monthly salaries. Maybe a special spa treatment for his parents? How about some jewellary for the wife? He could have gifted RN the phone he is wishing for since donkey’s age. Why not send DF on a vacation, which he deserves?

I get the logic behind “I can’t use the money which is not mine” but how about using it for others? If nothing mentioned above makes sense to you then donate it to some charity!!! Why would you take the money back to some guy who anyway is doing an illegal transaction by dishing out cash payments? Such deals only mean one thing; He didn’t earn this money in the ‘right’ manner! So, how did he deserve to get it back?

I think the entire blame should go to our parents for raising such ‘pure hearted’ individuals. It’s pathetic to know that even after almost touching 30, none of us have it in us to dupe someone or pull off a scam. We have everything to pull it off – successfully! Except for a heart to do so.

We all are fighting against time to achieve our targets and lead a normal life with decent luxuries. Opportunity knocked on GK’s door but he dismissed it thinking it was noise.

Nevertheless, I am a happy man. … Why? Simple! It’s raining …again!

 

Ps. I would have returned the money too.