Sunday, June 21, 2009

The importance of waiting...

Sleep usually evades me in the early hours past midnight. And last night wasn’t any different. So, I got hold of a movie called ‘The Lake House’.

A few minutes into the movie, and I had started to lose it a bit. Not because the sound quality was bad or anything, but I couldn’t really grasp what exactly was going on. So I ‘Googled’ for the English subtitles and played it over again.

And before long, I was right there, being totally involved in the proceedings.

For those of you who haven’t yet watched ‘The Lake House’, I’ll just provide a brief introduction to what it’s about.

Kate (Sandra Bullock) is a doctor who has just vacated a small but beautiful house built on the lake-side. Unsure about whether the post office would take care of her changed address, she writes a letter to the new occupant of the house requesting him to forward any mails that are delivered for her. This new occupant is Alex (Keanu Reeves) who is an architect and is looking for some peace and seclusion.

In her letter Kate apologizes about the dog paw-prints at the front door and clarifies that they were there even before she had arrived. And also mentions a box in the attic. But, to Alex’s surprise, there are no paw-prints by the front door. Neither is any box in the attic. So he writes back to her suggesting a probable mistake in the address. And she replies back being absolutely sure about the details and also reminding him about the mistake he made in the date in his letter. It’s supposed to be the year 2006 rather than 2004 which he had mentioned.

But Alex is as sure of it being 2004 as she is of it being 2006. And they have proofs to back it up too. And before long, Alex finds a dog appearing out of nowhere from the woods and running into he house, making his paw-prints.

Yes, they are actually living apart not in distance, but in time… !

Not really believing that such a thing could happen, Alex goes to the address Kate had written in her letter. But only to find an under-construction site where she supposedly resides in the present.

After being somewhat convinced that neither of the two is playing a game with the other, she provides him with the events that had occurred in 2004 which he finds actually happening. And most amazingly, they happen to be having the same dog called Jack with them.

And one day, while returning from work, Jack the dog runs off with Alex behind him. And Alex ends up finding him at a house where there is a party being organized. And to his surprise, the party is called by Kate’s boyfriend to celebrate her birthday. Alex attends the party, meets Kate, they get close, but he isn’t able to tell her who he is. Because he knows her from her future. Maybe she would consider him being crazy.

With each letter they exchange, they get closer to each other. They try their best to meet up. But they cannot…. Because they are living in different times.

It seems obvious that Alex would have to wait for two years before he can try to meet Kate. But the wait seems to be just too much for either of them to go through.

And so, losing all hope that they would ever be able to meet, Kate tells Alex to stop writing to her. And she decides to marry her boyfriend with whom she had broken up after the birthday party. Alex has no option but to accept it too. But there are still some twists in the tale.

Though it is obviously something that is impractical, still the movie captivates the viewer. A story, that would leave you trying to reason with the happenings at many occasions. I found myself working out the way which would enable them to meet even though living times apart. And more often than not, the movie itself pointed out a flaw in each of my solutions.

One important message that the movie brings out very well is the importance to wait.

People everywhere seem to be ever so ready to jump aboard the 'train of life'. We just want to get to somewhere without even waiting to analyze if that is where we intend to reach. In other words, we just want to get our lives going. And almost nothing that we leave back seems to matter. (for the time being, that is…)
Whenever we reach a hurdle in life, we are prepared to change our course and take an easier path. Take for example, relationships. Whenever we tend to reach a difficult bend in the path, we would rather end it then and there and ‘get a move on in life’. But we don’t want to wait. We are neither ready to give time to the other person, nor to our own selves.

I wonder how people can be so impatient to find a soul-mate. Ok. Agreed that it is absolutely reasonable to get impatient finding that ‘special one’. And even more so for those who haven’t yet found theirs. But how can someone, who ‘supposedly’ is in a relationship, be so impatient to couple up that he/she is ready to end it all, only to move on with someone else at the onset of difficult times… ???

The beauty of relationships (or life in general…) lies in the sense of success one has after weathering the storms and achieving all that he or she actually wants. Rather than opting out the easy way and compromising their desires for an easy life all along. But, of course, waiting is never the easy way out….

I guess we all just believe in spending our lives, rather than living it. But in order to live life in the true sense, one has to be patient. One has to wait.......

Monday, June 15, 2009

Three cheers for 'Team India' !

It is 2 AM and here I am in the company of my laptop, not in the very best of moods. I’ve just returned after watching England defeat ‘Team India’ to mark their exit from the ‘T20 World Cup’. In fact, I’m really disgusted…. !

No. My current frame of mind has nothing to do with the performance of the team. Absolutely not. The reasons for my repugnance are anything but the events that occurred on the field there at Lord’s.

I had seen this coming even before the tournament had started. Right since that ‘bring back the cup’ campaign got underway. There were those ‘wish the team luck’ promotions all over the place. On tv, radio, newspapers…. People even organized special prayers, havans and what nots…. All the news channels, as usual, were quick to try to cash the event. Breaking news captions were hijacked by the latest scores rather than those events of national or international importance.

And now, after the team has failed to reach the next round, everyone is jumping in to have their share of the ‘team-bashing’. The ‘experts’ on tv are trying to point out the flaws of each and every player. The unpardonable blunders that the captain made. The lack of technique that led to the loss.

And if all that wasn’t enough, they are ready with video clips of the players walking around the streets of London accusing them of ‘sight-seeing’ and ‘shopping’ while they should have been practicing. I wonder what they would have done with those clips had the team pulled off an amazing victory….

I don’t have the heart to pick up the newspaper in the morning. But I guess some people would even come out on to the streets in protests and burn some posters or effigies.

When will we start taking sport as sport and not a matter of life and death ??? First of all we put all the possible pressure of the world on our team to not only to perform but also to win the cup. Having done that, we expect nothing but a victory in the finals from the same team. We aren’t ready to accept anything short of that in any case.

Can’t we accept the fact that our team was outplayed by a better performance on a previous day. Didn’t they perform well even today as they lost the match by a mere 3 runs… ??? Can we really doubt the abilities of our team ?

As for me, I enjoy watching the team play for the sheer talent that our boys have. The joy that those special (maybe individual) performances bring. Just like that effortless six which Yuvraj hit first ball. Or the clever consecutive wicket taking deliveries from Harbhajan in the last over ? Or, for that matter, the sweet hits by Yousuf…

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed them all. It would have been even better if ‘Team India’ had won the match. Well, who wouldn’t like his team to win ?? But just because the team didn’t end up on the victorious side, should we forget the entertainment the boys provided us ???

Well, I would give anything to watch our talented and entertaining bunch of cricketers any day irrespective of the result of a match. They are incomparable to those ‘programmed robots’ which usually the likes of South Africans/English/Australians are. I would rather watch a Sehwag hit 4 consecutive boundaries and get out trying to hit the ball out of the ground, rather than watch a Kallis make a monotonous century.

It’s all about the entertainment, isn’t it ? And our team never fails to entertain.

So let us watch and admire our team for their brilliance of talent which they exhibit once in a while (more consistently these days) rather than crib about results of matches.

And I will always cheer for the fact that our boys are THE BEST.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ohhh... What a Waste !

As most of my friends have classified me in the group of nocturnal animals, I was, as usual, seconding their views about me and fooling around while the rest of the neighborhood slept in peace. And before long, I was surfing the channels on the telly to find something worth watching till the time I dropped off too.

And it was then, when I stumbled on to ‘MTV’. Since the time when I first came to know about it, ‘MTV’ was supposed to be ‘Music Television’. A channel, that was related to music of all sorts. But as I find it now, music is the last thing you would find being telecast on it.

We are living in the times of reality tv. But what has reality tv got to do with ‘MTV’ is something I find hard to understand. Shouldn’t they be aired on channels made for all round entertainment ?

Well, I guess I’m drifting away from the point I want to make here.

And the point is that when I got to ‘MTV’ I found another of those reality shows. It’s called ‘The Fast & The Gorgeous’. I don’t know if you have heard of it. But I had seen a few minutes of it one or two times before.

For those of you who are still unaware of the contents of ‘F&G’, I’ll just try to brief you about it. Well, they have assembled a group of (apparently gorgeous) girls from all over India (well, mostly from Delhi and Mumbai) and put them up together to compete with each other. They are given certain ‘tasks’ to perform through which they can ‘vote out’ one or two of the competitors each week.

And what do the winners get ? They get a chance to become the ‘face’ of the ‘Force India’ F1 team, travel with them around the world, host the after-parties and appear in the F1 calendar. (well, the F1 calendar has nothing to do with the schedule of the F1 races but is another form of the ‘Kingfisher calendar’, if you know what that is actually about… )

Ok. So that pretty much appears to be another normal reality show. A show where girls try their best to depict themselves are ‘commodities’ which would be the best bet to help to enhance ‘Force India’s market value. Probably that of ‘MTV’ too.

As I stumbled upon this show, I just watched on to see what they had in store this time. And the ‘task’ in progress right then made me twist in my chair. I don’t know if you have ever experienced being twisted in the chair while relaxing in the short hours of the night after a yummy dinner. But if you have, you’ll understand just how it made me feel right then.

They had coupled those ever so skimpily clad girls in teams of two. Each team had to take on another team in a very simple competition. According to which, one girl from each team would stand in between two poles, her hands tied to them, blindfolded, while the girl from the opposite team would try to hit her on the face from some distance. Each girl getting six attempts in a span of one minute. All very simple.

But, what made me twist was the object which they had to throw at each other. It wasn’t a ball or a water balloon. (I guess a shoe would have been the best possible option here) But they were actually using ‘pizzas’ to throw at each other’s face.

Well, our country has had the likes of Anjali Vedpathak who had exceptional abilities to aim at the target using her air-rifle. (won so many medals for India)

But there cannot be a comparison between a well trained shooter and some (apparently gorgeous) girls throwing pizzas at each other’s faces.
And so, they picked up pizza after pizza and hurled them with all they had got. And with each miss, my heart bled. One after the other, those delicious discs of bread baked with all the yummy toppings, flew past each targeted girl.
I felt as if even the pizzas didn’t approve of the idea of getting anywhere near those girls and dodged themselves past those make-up loaded faces. And eventually they kept ‘biting the dust’ all around the place.
Ok. I admit treating myself to a wholesome and taste-buds-satisfying dinner a few hours earlier. But I’m not one with a heart of steel who wouldn’t think much of so many pizzas simply going to waste….
But, on a serious note, I wonder if such a ‘task’ was actually in any good sense. There are countless number of people in our own country who go to sleep every night with an empty stomach. And here we are, finding fun at game shows wasting so much of food just for nothing.

I wonder if a particular Dr. Mallya who owns ‘Force India’ and ‘Kingfisher’ would give a thought to diverting just that bit of money used for the ‘pizza task’ for feeding those unprivileged people sleeping with empty stomachs.

Dear Dr. Mallya, we are, no doubt, happy about you naming your team as ‘Force India’. And we won’t protest either if you decide to add some glamour to your team. You manage some big business in India as well as around the world. But surely you wouldn’t approve of even a part of that money being put to wasting of food ?

I do hope that sooner than later, you would take notice of this and prevent any more wastage of food. If they need to hit each other in such reality game shows, let them find other options. But please spare the wastage of food at least.

And if you really want to add real glamour to your team, keep away from those girls in ‘F&G’……. :D

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ragging... Crime unchecked !

I was going through the ‘trick post’ on Kaddu’s blog about the ongoing situation in Australia which incited a lot of sentiments all around. And ending her post, she wondered whether our Government would manage to find answers to some really serious problems in our own country even if it does find one for the Australia-scenario. It would, probably. Because it’s the question of the safety of Indian students there in Australia.

Which brings to mind a simple question. A very simple one, in fact.

Are students in India any more safer than those Indian students studying in Australia ???

No. I’m not referring to any foreign students who are studying here. I’m talking about Indian students studying in India itself. Well, what about their safety…. would be the question you would ask me right now. Ok. So, how safe, exactly, was a boy named Aman Kachroo while studying to become a doctor in a Medical College in our own country ???

Now, you would ask me why I’m picking up an off-season topic to speak about. An incident that is past and almost forgotten. And what relevance does it have to the ongoing incidents in Australia. It was just a case of ragging….

Well, there isn’t exactly an off-season for ragging in our country. And even if you manage to convince me that there is, then we are just about to hit the peak-season, with most of the academic sessions about to get underway in a few days time.

To put matters in their right place, I’m not at all trying to defend what is happening in Australia. But for those who are quick to jump to conclusions, I just want to direct attentions to similar matters occurring right here which seem to evaporate pretty quickly from our minds. In fact, ragging is just an uglier form of racism. Only that, a person being ragged is spared from the accusations of “You Indian…!!!” while being brutalized.

Ragging in India is not an issue related to some unknown colleges or universities. In fact, the most reputed institutions have been known to bear the brunt of the menace for long. The list includes the IIMs, the IITs, and numerous other elite engineering colleges across the country. I didn’t mention any medical institute not because they escape the notorious list, but because there would hardly be any medical college in India irrespective of its reputation, which would be a stranger to the most brutal forms of ragging.

But don’t we all know about these facts already ? Yes. We do. So, instead of getting into unnecessary facts, let us get down to the problem itself.

I have heard many ‘knowledgeable’ people speak at lengths on the benefits of ragging. I cannot comment on other fields, but, as far as the medical field is concerned, ragging, according to the ‘learned’ persons presents with the following benefits…

(a) Bringing back to earth, the airy minds of the freshers who are in a state of assumption that they can now play God. (after cracking the medical entrance examination)
(b) To prepare the freshers for the tough study schedule and extended hours of sleepless hospital postings.
(c) To prepare the freshers for the tough real life after and outside the college campus.
(d) To teach the new students to always respect their seniors and teachers.
(e) To ‘break the ice’ between the freshers and the seniors.
(f) To help the freshers to settle well into the ‘home away from home’, which is, the hostel.

I guess the same goes for the freshers of other academic fields except for the first one and a half points above. And thus, I’m forced to stop and think about the validity of the above reasons in the favor of the menace we are presently talking about.

Here, at this point, I’m tempted to provide first hand accounts of people’s experiences about how they were ragged. But as we all are too familiar to all that and because I don’t want you to go through horrific stories that people have managed to share, it would be better to skip those.

I’m forced to find reason in the madness of trying to teach basic morals to adults entering college life. Isn’t that something which our schools are made to take care of ? Is the best way to teach freshers about manners is to beat them up black and blue ? Are the juniors forced to learn to respect their seniors out of fear ? Isn’t it true that respect can only be commanded and not demanded ?

But the sad truth of it is that the freshers learn a precious secret very soon if they do not know it before. Which is, that, they need to be in the good books of the seniors in order to avail benefits in the form of books, notes and valuable academic advice. And this they can only manage by satisfying their seniors’ demands for sadistic pleasures in the name of ragging. Self-respecting individuals who refuse to give in have to face the consequences. They are labeled as outcasts who are never allowed to settle comfortably into their campus life.

I would here quote the experience of a well known ex-IITian who faced brutal ragging himself.

“For freshmen, getting ragged for a month was a rite of passage that would ensure them free books and the patronage of someone powerful. It was easier to 'get it over with' than be ostracized (so they were told) for the rest of their stay in the hostel.”

Why are the juniors made to believe that their academic life is doomed if they don’t receive ‘help’ from their seniors ? Doesn’t it kill the self-confidence of a fresher about his own capabilities ? And they speak of instilling confidence in the name of ragging….

Why should a newcomer be asked to get habitual in the use of the filthiest of abuses as a part of ragging ? Does that actually help in making him a more decent and sober individual for the future ? Why should he be subject to absolutely inhuman and perverted acts and forcefully made to think and express the same ? Does that prepare him all the better for the ‘real’ world outside ? It baffles the mind…

One thing this certainly does is to corrupt a previously innocent person to the extent of becoming one of those ‘perverts’ you can find out there on the streets. Simply adding to the number of such men in our society. I wonder if girls are subjected to anything similar too. Probably yes, after case of a particular engineering college in Andhra Pradesh came to light.

As far as ‘breaking the ice’ with the seniors goes, does someone really need to be humiliated to world’s end to become familiar with strangers ? Do we always punch up the strangers we meet at our new work-place in order to get to know them well ? Do we need to insult someone to gain their confidence ? No. We do not. Why then, do we accept that ragging does ‘break the ice’ ? Why cant people resist the urge to torment a fresher ?

It is because ragging is probably the only time in most people’s life to experience power over other people. The power to humiliate, to instill fear and to extract sadistic pleasure at the expense of a nervous newcomer.

And the worst part of it all is the feeling of revenge which the ragged fresher nurtures all through the duration of ragging, only to unleash it all when he is in control of the power, over his juniors. And that is one of the reasons why this menace is so hard to put an end to. If you ask me, to take out one’s revenge on innocent newcomers who are already very anxious about their new life amongst strangers away from home, is nothing but a cowardly act.

That is why we cannot see an end to this practice. I don’t think there is anything that the Government can do about it. Don’t we find strict warnings all around campuses banning ragging of any sort ? But it still goes on in most of them. Reason ? No fresher would risk getting labeled as an outcast and spoiling his or her chances of the all important ‘help’ from the seniors. Those that do come out in the open are usually those who have been tortured beyond tolerance, the damage been done already.

The possible cure, if I’m right, can be achieved only when a particular batch of freshers stand tough by not letting themselves become a channel that passes on this ‘tradition’ down every subsequent batch. Even if they feel the need for revenge, they have to take it out on those who ragged them. Rather than some innocent newcomer.

Luckily, being a part of the pioneer batch in college, I was never subjected to any such insanity. And it showed off one year later when the juniors arrived. None of us had that feeling of revenge which we could possibly have had we been witness to any seniors deriving sadistic pleasures at our cost. In other words, our batch didn’t require to torture the juniors in order to gel with them. But we were lucky at not having to either sacrifice our revenge or face any hazards which would have resulted from our giving it back to any seniors.

What I don’t understand is why does a whole group of individuals let themselves be subject to inhumanity at the hands of another group which is equal in numbers. Is it just because the other group consists of people one or two years older than them ? Or even more ridiculously, consisting of those who have managed to be admitted to that institute barely one year earlier ? People who haven't a clue to their own twisted psyches, but who are busy twisting those of others. I can’t see how a particular group can become so enriched with wisdom and experience in a period of just one year that they find it absolutely necessary to pass it on to the next group for their own benefit.

Which is why, I think there cannot be a reason to this madness that has been polluting even our most reputed institutes. I completely disagree with all the so-called 'benefits' of harmless and clean ragging as debated by some of its supporters. It is rather, just a term to legitimize to some extent, the acts of crime which certain perverted individuals commit. And those are not few, but, in fact, spread all across our country. And it is no better than any racist attack.

So, along with demanding security for Indian students in Australia shouldn’t we be demanding safety of Indian students in India ? But honestly, there’s nothing that any Government can do about it. It is we ourselves who have to be strong enough to put an end to such a menace. Be it ragging, or for that matter, racism.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

To, The Indian Female...

No. I’m not feeling sleepy. I was feeling sleepy though, some 8 odd hours ago. But not since I decided to browse around a bit for some updates if any before hitting the bed. I found an update on Nikita’s blog in the form of 'A Letter' to the 'Indian Male'. And the rest of the night was spent twisting and turning trying to discover a comfortable position which could get me some sleep. But, which wasn’t to be.

Well, the reason for my sleeplessness was the sheer amazement to how she had put into words, the contents of a part of my mind. She had tossed a coin pretty high. But it would have been much better if she had turned the other side of it too. The other face of the same coin which was staring right at my mind’s eye…. refusing to let it drift into sleep.

So let me toss the coin again….

I first faced one such situation after completing school. It was some cold December evening when I was with three of my colleagues in a restaurant. Having ordered, we were in the midst of some discussion which suddenly shifted to the females of our batch. And suddenly, I found myself rather uncomfortable. I made two futile attempts to divert the proceedings elsewhere. But I guess they had got the ‘masala’ for gossip. And it was getting filthier as each second passed.

I could feel my eyes starting to burn, hot air escaping the ears and my head nearing the point of bursting. And just as they started to use names, I lost it. I completely lost it.

People who have known me would tell you that they have never seen me lose my temper. They would be surprised to know if I did. But, personally, I surprised myself by the sort of anger that I let loose then. I gave them a public dressing-down which I never thought myself to be capable of. All the people sitting around were looking at us and I wouldn’t be too mistaken if they actually expected me to get rough any second considering the state I was in. Soon, I was storming out of the place with my colleagues absolutely shocked and the onlookers pretty surprised.

And guess what !!! One of those colleagues of mine later married a girl of our own batch (not that very day… of course).

Coming to another incident which happened right during class hours. We had our batch divided into smaller ones (groups of about 20) for the sake of the numerous subjects we had to study. During one such class we were still waiting for our professor while being busy in our talks. As usual, the girls occupied the first two rows of chairs in the room while the boys sat at the back.

And the group in the last row got busy in their usual disgusting talks. One or two of them made sure to use the filthiest of expletives in the loudest of voices so that it may reach the ears of each and every one sitting in the room.

The girls were busy in their own talks. In fact they tried their best to portray exactly that. But the intense observer that I am, I could see that people were very uncomfortable. And then there was a repeat of the feeling I had at the restaurant.

And suddenly I got up, and stormed out of the room without a word. I was furious. In fact, I was in a rage. I could sense two forces having a battle of sorts inside my head. One wanted me to go back and teach the perverts a lesson. While the other tried to reason. If I did confront the perverts, I would in fact be bringing the filth out in the open which, the people had till then told themselves, didn’t exist. I would make it obvious what everyone was trying their best to ignore. Cause for great embarrassment. And that was exactly what those pervs wanted. I ended up missing the class…

Maybe I should have confronted them in order to prevent any future repetition of their misbehavior. But I guess my inexperience got the better of me.

And guess what !!! One of those colleagues of mine later married a girl of our own batch (not that very day… of course).

Which is what makes me ponder to my wits end. And what Nikita wrote in her letter to ‘Indian males’ underlines the very crux of my pondering.

“I understand that all of you are not the same, but I do not know which of you to address. I don’t know which of you is a ‘safe bet’. And I have no way of knowing it.”
But wasn’t it something else I knew all the time ? Something which said that, men’s minds are absolutely simple to understand. While a female’s mind is the most complicated thing you’ll ever come across.

If a male’s mind is so simple to understand, why can’t the females evaluate his real character ??? Why is there a dilemma in knowing the ‘safe bet’ ??? Why is there no way of knowing it ???

Consider a situation (in India, of course). A girl is away from home (be it a market, at work or the college campus) and a boy comes up and says that he would like to be her friend.

The reaction…. ??? Well, it depends. If the girl in question is a bit more adventurous, the answer would depend on the type of footwear she has on herself at that moment. A not so adventurous girl would let her eyes do the work of the footwear instead. But, almost in every case, the outcome is the same. Which actually means…. “How dare you could come up and talk to me like that?”

And if by any chance the boy happens to be her batch mate she has known for years…. SACRILEGE !!!

I may be over-exaggerating the situation but that was pretty much the norm in my younger days. Youngsters now are much more sensible than they were back then.

But yes, the same girl would probably be meeting a complete stranger sometime later in life who has been discovered by her parents as a probable match. (Again a norm in older times)

So what…. ??? Her parents have investigated everything there needs to be.

The guy is an MBA, working in the US with a huge salary package (would take his wife abroad with him) and has reasonable family background. What else can one ask for ? Character ??? No. That’s obvious.

So what if the guy robs the parents of their life’s earnings in the form of that sacred ritual called dowry. So what if he is having an ‘affair’ or two. So what if he is the same old pervert while with his ‘gang’ of friends. Marital rape ?? Oh. Come on. That’s nothing compared to the comfortable life she will get after marriage….

But obviously she just can’t accept an offer of friendship from a colleague. She didn’t know if he was a ‘safe bet’. And she had absolutely no way of knowing it too… !!!

Mind you, I too, understand that all of you are not the same. Just as you understand that all Indian men are not the same. But we have this habit of stereotyping the other gender. Don't we ?

Just for a tip, a high level of educational qualifications, luxurious levels of financial status and even a sound and respected family background cannot rule out perverseness.

Accepted. So many males are perverted. Maybe even to the extent of a majority. But that doesn’t mean you put all of them in a box, blindfold yourself and pick one out. And once picked, you place him on a pedestal which equals to that of God. What I’m driving at is that many times, even the knowledge of a man's true character is ignored by a woman, specially if he happens to be the chosen one and/or family.

Thankfully, females now (specially the youngsters) are sensible enough to identify the character of a person quicker and more accurately than their elder generations. And I actually don't blame the older generations of not being able to judge a person's true character too. What I fail to understand is how and why some females tend to ignore the perverseness of the men close to them.

Maybe patriarchy has its effect on this too. But you need to destroy it's shackles as much as us males need to. Patriarchy actually affects males as well.

Sleep…. Dear sleep…. Where are you…. ???

P.S. : I guess I got delayed in posting this bit which I had managed to do in the morning courtesy the Electricity Supply Association.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Birthday Bashings...

The other day I called up my friend to wish him a happy birthday. The pleasantries having been delivered, I ended the call not before he had promised me a nice big dinner in the near future. Of course, it couldn’t be managed that very evening owing to the fact of those 500 something kilometers that separated us.

I was still fancying about the prospects of that future dinner treat when I found myself going back in the past to relive some of the birthday parties I had been part of.

Back in the times of good old school days, birthday parties were eagerly anticipated events. The usual course of events being, a small treat at the school canteen for all classmates, followed by the main event at the “B’Day person’s’ house. The usual games, the dance (of which I was never a part), cutting of the cake and then the mouth watering food.

But things have changed drastically with time.

I was witness to these changes quite often during my college days. Any person who has spent some part of his or her life in a hostel (or for that matter, living away from home with mates) wouldn’t be a stranger to what I’m talking about.

As per my experiences in college, a birthday was nothing short of a catastrophe, a calamity that had to be faced once every year. People take birthdays to be a sort of "PAYBACK DAY". Giving vent to all their emotions for the 'B’Day guy'.

I remember one of such experiences on the birthday of my batch mate who lived in the room opposite to mine. It was the night before his birthday. It was all peace and calm in the hostel. But only till the clock struck 12. And suddenly people started to appear from all corners and converged to the door opposite mine. Just as suddenly as a large population of ants, appear out of nowhere and converge at a point, when the word is out that a fresh source of sweets is there for the taking.

The poor guy answered the knocks on his door (well, not really knocks but thumps which would bring the door down if not answered pretty quickly) with a smile. It was a smile, but one which, I guess would be on the face of some prisoner of war just as he gets ready to be taken to the gallows.

The ceremony started with the nearest of friends giving him hugs. But somewhere in the middle of the second hug, he simply vanished. And the next moment he was dangling in mid-air. Some people grabbed his wrists and the others grabbed his ankles. While all the others rushed to get the best strategic position around him.

And then they began to hurl him up into the air and down again. Just as I had seen some washer men do to dry some big piece of cloth while at the pond. The so called ‘birthday bumps’ which are considered to be the ritual without which no birthday is considered complete….

The total number of bumps corresponded to the number of birthdays the guy had celebrated. But what shocked me was that with each heave, all the people standing around him, kicked his back with all their might. Some clever ones had even come prepared with thick-soled boots for that very purpose. And with each kick, his cries of agony drowned in the shouts of the people whose mercy he was at.

According to his age, 20 something bumps were what he was to be subjected to. But as they counted 22 or 23, someone shouted that they had missed the correct count…. And that it had to be started again. That was when I had to intervene. Thankfully, for the guy, they let him down on the floor, wincing in pain, but still managing a smile. He had to smile. After all, it was his birthday…

Then someone got a rather innovative idea. He went and fetched a bucket full of water. And as expected (unexpected for me), the contents of that bucket were emptied on the birthday-boy who was still lying on the floor trying to feel for his back. Maybe that was a well meant idea to relieve some of his pain. But I didn’t really believe that pouring cold water on a beaten up guy past midnight was an act intended to alleviate his pain.

They even had a good mind to cover him up with a blanket or sheet and let go at him once again. But I don’t know what made them have mercy on the poor guy.

This was and is not an isolated incident. Birthdays, today, are ‘celebrated’ on these very lines and sometimes on even worse ones. But I’m really at a loss to understand the fun behind it all. Ok, if you need to take out your hard feelings on someone, you have all of the 364 days of the year to do that. Why not leave that one day for him or her to enjoy in the true sense.

Is it just because on the birthday, the ‘B’Day’ guy or girl has to accept whatever behavior that is meted out by the so called friends as a gesture of good wishes ? Come on…. Since when did you need to kick a person black and blue to wish him your good wishes ??

I guess this is a case of give and take. The very person being kicked on his birthday tolerates the torture maybe because surely before the next 365 days, he would get a chance to ‘Payback’ all of it to all his friends on their birthdays. But still I cannot get myself to reason with this madness.

Another aspect which makes me go crazy is the ‘Birthday Cake’. Isn’t the cake there to be decorated, cut and then eaten ? They decorate and cut it alright. But what happens about the eating bit ?? I simply fail to understand the fun behind smudging the face of the ‘B’Day guy’ with the cake. Well, if it is that funny, why not get one of those dummy cakes they have in movies which they throw at each other’s faces.

I don’t know if chocolate or vanilla cakes taste even better when applied to the face rather than let the tongue do the tasting. The scenes which I have witnessed regarding the fates of birthday cakes have led to my sufficient dislike to them.

Gone are the days when we had good clean fun and enjoyment along with the yummiest of food on birthdays. Now, birthdays are celebrated in strange ways. And strangely enough, people tend to like them too.

Thankfully for me, I never had the experience to ‘celebrate’ my birthday at the hostel. I know someone people would say that I've missed a great experience. But personally, I would rather give it a miss....

And never did I taste my birthday cake through my face. But it’s a ritual that has spread all around now. As the picture below suggests….

Sachin Tendulkar's 36th B'Day


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