Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thoughts Through a Colored Window...

Ever since my entry into the ‘Blogosphere’, I have come across countless blogs. There have been many which I liked in the very first look. And some went on to become regular reads for me. But there have been a very few which never cease to amaze me.

I thus, introduce here, one such amazing blog.

‘Subtle Strokes of Imagination’ is a sort of e-gallery not just relating to art but to thought as well. A visitor to this blog will find himself trying to make up his mind whether to admire the amazing sketches or to dive deep into the thought related to the picture.

‘Subtle Strokes of Imagination’ is a collection of paintings done as just a hobby by the artist and owner of the blog Dr. Megha Agrawal.

Yes ! The artist is actually a qualified doctor who has done the paintings over a period of time just as an expression of her thoughts. So, for all those of you who always think of the dreaded syringe at the mere mention of the word doctor, here is an eye-opener that doctors are not those monotonous, boring, heartless bookworms they appear to be. They too, have the capabilities to think and express.

As you look at each painting on Dr. Megha’s blog, you will be drawn into the significance of the attached piece of text with each of those paintings. It will be hard to understand whether the thought emerged from the painting or the painting emerged from the thought.

It is really fortunate that the doctor decided to share those masterpieces with the virtual world. So, go on to her blog to treat your eyes to some great visuals and to twist your brains at some thought provoking texts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Strawberry Crush... (Part 4)

It is highly advisable that you read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this story to follow the thread.

He suddenly opened his eyes wide. But all he could see was pitched darkness. He realized himself lying on his bed trying to recall the time since when he was asleep. Or was he unconscious… ?

He also realized that his abdomen had stopped hurting. He had lost track of when he had the last meal. It seemed like his stomach had gotten immune to the hunger pangs which his mind refused to acknowledge. His body seemed numb. He again tried to adjust his eyes to the complete darkness. The uselessness of the attempt made his mind to drown once again into the thoughts that had engulfed his mind. Engulfed his soul. Engulfed his very life. The thoughts of Her…

Once again he desperately tried to fight off the thoughts of the realization that in about twenty four hours time, she would belong to someone else… forever…

He clenched his fists and forced his eyes shut as if to prevent those images entering into his sight. But his eyelids couldn’t hold back what was brimming to spill over. And he could feel the cold traces of fluid which rolled over from the corners of his eyes moving across his face and falling on to the bed.

He gripped his head with his hands. His ears boomed with each beat of his heart. And the sounds kept getting louder and quicker. He knew he was hyperventilating, gasping for air. But little could he realize that it were the thoughts in his mind which were suffocating him. He tried hard to pick himself up from the bed and switched on the light. But once on his feet, he could feel his ears getting hot and strange sensations up in his nose. Something told him he was going to bleed through the nose.

He rushed inside the washroom and looked into the mirror. The face in the mirror looked hazy. Was it the mist in his own eyes… he thought. He quickly splashed handfuls of water on his face. And suddenly he noticed his fingernails which had turned to shades of purple. His fingertips felt numb. He looked up into the mirror. He had never tried to read his own eyes. But now he did. And they shouted back at him. He staggered back to the bed and slumped on it.

He could clearly feel his heartbeats racing like never before. His heart thumped heavily against his chest. His head seemed to be ready to burst any second. He reached out for his phone. He pushed the green button and saw her number right at the top. He remembered trying to call her many times… but pressing the red button before he could hear the bell ringing. He didn’t know what to say to her. Or how to say it. And the chain of thoughts began yet again.

It had been five days since he had seen her. And as each day passed, the levels of his anxiety reached a new high. He thought about talking to her. Telling her everything that was on his mind. The way she had captured all the available spaces in his heart. The way she was all around him.

He wanted to confess to her how he had been crazily searching for perfection all his life. And when he had finally been able to find that perfection, it wasn’t to be.

But then he thought about keeping everything concealed. Never to tell her how he felt about her. She had probably a happy life ahead in store for her. He didn’t want to disturb her in the most important phase of her life. Though he knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it. But he wanted her peace of mind.

He was still fiddling with his phone. Watching her Facebook wall over and over again like the countless times in the past few days. And then he came on to a quote which said, “Nobody Will Know What’s Going in Your Mind… Its Better To Express Rather Than to Expect”.

And he knew what he was going to do. He wasn’t going to leave the world one day with the regret of not letting her know what he felt for her. He wasn’t afraid of the consequences now. He had to talk to her. And he pressed the green button.


He opened his eyes as the sunrays hit his face through the open window. He was sprawled on his bed with half of his body on the floor. He jumped up to check the time in the clock on the wall. It was already 12 noon. She was getting married that very night.

How did he fall asleep ??? Maybe the lack of sleep for almost an entire week had taken its toll on him. He had to rush. He didn’t have any time.

It was already 1 pm as he walked towards the grandly decorated gate of the palatial building. There was brisk activity all around. People ran around with stuff while others shouted orders. He scanned the area twice to check for any possible hindrances. He rehearsed his words again in his mind, took a deep breath and moved inside the house.

He knew that asking for the bride’s father wouldn’t be much of a difficulty. People had enough on their hands already. So, no one even bothered to ask him any further details as one elderly man directed him towards the entrance of the room where he would find her father.

As he stepped up towards the door, for once his heart leapt up into his mouth and then settled back in its place. He knew now there was no turning back. And he stepped inside the room.

The only occupant of the room who was talking animatedly into a telephone had his back towards the door. He at once recognized him as her dad. The man was well known figure in the city’s who’s who and looked all the more imposing in his white dress.

“Yes… ??” He boomed back as he smashed the receiver back on the table and turned.

“What do you want ?” He enquired again.

“Namaste…” He folded his hands and introduced himself.

“Oh. So you are her classmate ? But she is very busy right now. I hope she invited you for the wedding tonight… ??” The father asked.

He swallowed once. And hardly taking another breath, he slowly said…

“Sir, I am in love with your daughter. And she is in love with me. And I humbly ask you to…….”

He couldn’t complete his sentence before he saw the color of blood in her dad’s eyes as the man in white leapt at him in utter rage.

(to be continued.......)

Image courtesy : Google Images

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Wasted Talent...

The other night I just accidentally happened to come across the following song/video on Youtube. And instantly, it hit on some very old childhood memories in my mind. Do have a look at what I’m talking about.

Yes. This was a song from an almost non-existent movie from the eighties. But apart from the nice music, this song featured one of the most talented people the Indian entertainment world has ever had. Javed Jaffrey burst onto the Indian Film Industry as the Indian version of Michael Jackson.

I remember first watching him dance on tv in the good old ‘Doordarshan’ days. I hadn’t watched much of Michael Jackson in those pre-cable-television days. So, Javed’s dance moves completely captivated the mind to say the least. But unfortunately, we weren’t able to enjoy more of his unbelievable dance steps as he decided to try his hand at serious acting rather than just dance.

But that too, didn’t get him much more than a few forgettable movies with equally forgettable roles.

I rediscovered him through a tv show which I simply detested at first sight. It was a comical Japanese game show with background commentary in Hindi. But once I sat through an episode of the show (there wasn’t anything else on tv that day, really ! ) I was hooked on to it for dear life.

‘Takeshi’s castle’ became one of my favorite shows not because of its content, but merely because of the marvelous commentary by Javed. It simply overflowed with extreme wit. And it would always end up with me and my brother in splits. Something only a really talented artist is capable of.

Being the son of the famous comedian of yesteryears, Jagdeep, humor comes to Javed naturally. He is the master of coming up with unmatchable witty comments at the drop of a hat. And that is something that signifies immense grey-matter in the head. His realistic and extremely comic impersonations of such a huge variety of characters can leave anyone crutching their tummies and begging for mercy.

I loved the movie ‘Dhamaal’ mostly for the wonderful character of ‘Manav Srivastava’ played by Javed.

It’s a pity that the Indian entertainment industry wasted such a matchless talent not just in dance, but also in comedy and serious acting. But Javed still remains one of my favorite entertainers.

(Picture credits : Google Images)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Strawberry Crush... (Part 3)

It is highly advisable that you read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story to follow the thread.

*** Warning : A very long post ***

He was utterly bewildered. He simply had no idea about what was happening to him. He had lost track of everything. No clue to the lectures he attended. Or to those that he missed. Sunny reminded him that he had been absconding from the training for the entire week and that the coach was out in search of him with a cricket bat in his hands and breathing fire through his nostrils. He was even disoriented about the days and dates. He had been missing his meals and still didn’t remember feeling hungry. It was getting crazier by the day.

But one thing he never seemed to miss was to get to the lecture-theatre a good fifteen minutes early every morning. Staring towards the door and counting every passing second until he would catch a glimpse of that face. And then he would feel the blood rushing to his face. Blocking off all the noise in the hall from entering his ears. The sound of someone’s footsteps and the voice of their owner were just the sounds he could hear.

She had always hated waking up in the mornings. But all that hatred seemed to have vanished into thin air. Getting to the morning class had never felt so exciting. And she would find herself trying to catch her breath as she neared the lecture-theatre. And just round the bend, from the corner of her eye she would catch a glimpse of that face. But as she would make her way inside the door, she made sure not to let her eyes wander across to the far end of the hall.

He was hysterical this morning. It had been almost a week since he saw her. The strange sense of irritation was crushing him. He could feel his head hurt. He fidgeted for the hundredth time when suddenly he saw her entering the hall.

He suddenly decided that he couldn’t take it any longer. He had to put an end to all the misery. He had to talk.

By the time the longest ever lecture of his life concluded, he had meticulously planned his every move. He rehearsed each dialogue over and over again in his mind. There was no turning back. He leaped from his seat as he saw her leave the hall. He saw her walking towards the lawns. He quickly matched her pace and anticipated to catch her just round the fourth tree.

She could sense him following her. She felt a strange sense of fear and excitement. But she had to make sure. She suddenly stopped and turned around. He wasn’t expecting this from her. He stopped dead in his track. All the confidence which he had built during the past hour seemed to have made a dash for the restroom.

He took a quarter of an hour sitting beneath the guava tree trying to rebuild the confidence which had given him the slip at a crucial moment. And just then he saw her go into the cafeteria at the far end. He jumped up and rushed towards her to get it over with before it got too late again. With nerves of steel, he entered the cafeteria house to confront her when he saw her standing across the hall with five of her closest friends. Their eyes met. And he could feel steel turning to wax.

It was the post-lunch bell that got him out of his trance. He dejectedly walked towards the academic building with his head as clear as an empty can. He was still brooding, staring blankly as he turned the bend and found himself face to face with her just as she appeared from the opposite corridor.

Panic !

“Hi !” He said. Though he wasn’t sure if he heard his own voice.

“Hi.” She replied with a faint smile.

“Err… Umm..”

“Yes ??”

“Could you please guide me to Lab Three ??!!??”


She turned to walk. And he followed her. Still trying to gather his wits and telling himself that he actually spoke to her. They climbed two floors worth of stairs as she led him into a door labeled ‘Lab No. 3’.

As he walked across the strange smelling room, he was startled as a familiar voice boomed across. “Late again ?? You’ve been attending this lab for almost one year now. But you can’t ever come on time. Can you ???!!”

He was still sulking as he emerged out of the lab a couple of hours later, when he saw her talking to her friend.

“You go on. I’m going to talk to the HOD. See you later.” She said. Suddenly she looked back at him and turned around to the professor’s room.

He was petrified. It was clear she was going to report him. He tried desperately to think of some excuses. But he felt stymied. And in utter panic, he ran after her. She was already into the corridor when he reached her.

“Hey… !!”

“Hmmm ??” She looked at him.

“Why are you going to the Prof ??”

She kept walking. Still trying to think of something to say.

“You’ve got it all wrong. See, it’s nothing like that. I’m not like those guys. You’ve got to believe me !!” He implored.

She gave him one last look and turned to enter the professor’s room. He felt his heart sinking to newer depths. He turned to walk away to escape the inevitable. He had hardly got to the stairways when he realized the peon running after him.

“Sir wants to see you in his room.”

‘That’s it ! I’m done for.’ He thought, and moved towards the dreaded room, resigned to his fate.

“May I come in sir ?” He enquired feebly.

“Come in. See,… she’s missed two of my lectures last week. Just give her the notes and help her with any problems she has !” The professor ordered.

“Yes Sir !” He found his voice for a change. His heart which had gone into arrest, starting to beat once again. It was in an overdrive by the time they emerged from the teacher’s room. As they walked the length of the corridor, he looked at her and found her looking back. And suddenly, they both burst into laughter.

They found the lecture hall empty and decided to sit there so that she could copy down the text. She was still smiling when he handed over his notes to her.

“Why were you saying all that ?” She asked with a giggle.

“I thought you were going to report me for following you.” He replied looking away.

“You were following me ?? But why ???” She looked at him.

He looked back at her. And then he felt as if time had stopped again. Looking into her eyes, as she looked into his. Looking right through each other. They let the eyes do all the talking. The eyes confessed. And the eyes accepted. And suddenly, all seemed to clear.

All of a sudden, he didn’t feel that anxiety. He felt strangely calm. He felt like flying. And he wanted to capture the moment for ever.

She couldn’t believe what was happening too. She had never felt so happy. Not in a long time. She felt giddy.

And suddenly, her eyes stopped on her hand. And she felt as if she had been stabbed. She could feel her eyes brimming.

“You know, I wanted to say something to you…..” He started to speak.

She assembled her belongings in haste, and quickly got up to leave. He was taken aback by her sudden action. She got up and turned to leave.

“Hey…. !!! Heyy…. !!! What happened ??!!” He exclaimed.

She stopped. And put up her hand for him to see. The glitter of a jewel twinkled through his eyes.

She turned back to face him. “I’m getting married this Friday !”

And she walked away.

(to be continued.......)

Image courtesy : Google Images

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn Equinox...

It’s not often that at the stroke of midnight, I find myself relishing a full serving of hot biryani for dinner…

And being treated with with Forlan at his very best for Inter Milan in an action-packed game live on tv…

And with my phone to my ear, hearing two girls sing “Happy Birthday to you…” simultaneously over a conference call…

I couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the Autumn Equinox, could I ??? :D :D :D

Hope to finish it off with a grand dinner by the time the day ends ! (That’s the most I look forward to every day in life. :P :D Why worry about the future ? :-) )

P.S. : Equinoxes are the two days of the year when the day and night are closest to being equal. In more technical terms, the day when the sunrise and the sunset are closest to being exactly twelve hours apart.

(Image courtesy : Google Images)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Talk About Redundancy...

Just the other day, I was aghast to see the news about several newborns losing their lives in a hospital in A.P. And to think, India is said to be the ‘hot spot’ for global medical tourism, I just wonder about what use it is to label something what it actually isn’t.

My idle mind fails to understand whether the following examples actually hold true for the objectives they signify.

* The President of India is the supreme Head of State. * But…

Even a no-good complementary Minister of State from an ‘ally’ political party has more clout in the Government than the President can ever dream of.

* India is a Socialist country. (which means, absence of discrimination on the grounds only of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, or language) * But…

There are hardly any application forms for employment in any sector which don’t ask for the above mentioned specifications. If there is no discrimination, then why ask for such details anyway ?

* India is a Secular country. (which means, equality of all religions and religious tolerance) * But…

Do I even need to mention how tolerant is an individual towards the beliefs of another in the present times ?

* 26th January is celebrated as the Republic Day. * But…

Apart from the people who at least know that such a day exists including those who don’t confuse it with the day India was declared independent, how many Indians actually know what the word Republic means ?

* India’s ‘National Animal’ is the Tiger. * But…

How many people are actually interested in the conditions of the ‘National Animal’ in India’s jungles (apart from throwing stones at the few of them in various zoos) ? They would rather take care of their bullocks, horses or cows, which are an essential part of their businesses.

* India’s ‘National River’ is the Ganges. * But…

Being the ‘holi’ river that it is, people are more concerned about dumping their wastes into it whenever they are not busy immersing ‘idols’ or the leftovers from their prayers into the ‘holi’ waters. It may have been the holiest water body, but now it’s the biggest inland drain.

* India’s ‘National Sport’ is Field Hockey. * But…

One would be expected to know the intricate details of M. S. Dhoni’s pet dog’s favorite food rather than the name of Indian National Hockey Team’s captain. Some would even be bewildered to know that there actually exists a captain of the National Hockey Team.

* Mahatma Gandhi is known as the ‘Father of the Nation’. * But…

In the present times, it is considered cool to abuse the man and ridicule his thoughts. Probably, the only M. K. Gandhi people follow these days is the one printed on bits of blue-green paper called currency notes.

I don’t intend to question the validity of the above examples. I just wish that such things could really represent the thought with which they were initially associated. Not just be depicted as symbols of greatness which have been actually rendered useless.

(Image courtesy : Google Images)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Bloggers Say vs What Bloggers Mean...

The following cartoons were taken from the January edition of Kadzilla's Lounge.

Multiple credits :

1. The text content contributed by Pramathesh Borkotoky, Executive Editor of 'Fried Eye'.
2. Visualized as Cartoon strips by Kadambari, Chief Editor of 'Kadzilla's Lounge'.
3. Cartoons designed by yours truly.

(Please right-click and open the image in a new tab to view it in its original size.)


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rants of a Retard...

“What ?? You still haven’t watched it ?”

“No ! Just been busy with things… ”

“Oh come on. I thought you loved comedies. This one is a masterpiece. You cannot miss it.”

“Umm… Yeah… Hmm…” I replied.

The above was just a part of the small pleasantries I exchanged with a family-friend over our dinner plates at a party recently. This family-friend, who is just about my age, was trying his best to pull me into the conversation and get me to talk. But since I’m the perpetual listener and also, when there’s food at hand, my mouth turns into a one-way passage, he was having a real tough time getting me to speak. So, in what seemed like an act of desperation, he brought up the topic of a movie.

Those who know me properly, know rather well that I don’t watch any new Hindi movies. And certainly not in a movie-theatre. A few of my mates at college learnt this the hard way when they planned the celebration of one of our friend’s birthday which included a movie followed by a grand dinner. The only snag in all the planning was that I wasn’t informed about the movie bit. Well, they managed to sell off my ticket outside the theatre premises in the end. But not before having a harrowing time trying to coax/plead me into entering the theatre.

Coming back to the earlier discussion, this family-friend was going over the top about a new movie which had something to do with people acquiring intestinal infection in the city of Delhi. Something about which I have been ridiculed by people more than a few times about liking comedies but having still not seen this one.

Over the past month or so, I had read, heard and been updated (on Facebook) a bit too much about this particular movie. Almost half of my friends on Facebook had used words like ‘awesome’, ‘loved it’, ‘coolest movie ever’, ‘laughed till I cried’, ‘mind-blowing’, and other words to that effect to describe what they saw. Obviously, I was intrigued. So while talking to one of my friends who is a movie freak, I asked him. To which he curtly replied.

“Yes. I watched it. And NO !!! It’s not for you !

Knowing how well my friends know me, I didn’t need a second opinion about whether to watch the movie, even if people labeled it as the best comedy ever, or not. But as I hopped onto one review after another on the several blogs I regularly read, I realized how I missed those statutory warning many of my friends had included in their rave reviews on Facebook, some of which clearly mentioned not to take kids along to watch the movie.

Now, what comedy would it be which wouldn’t amuse kids ? I never knew there would be things funny enough only to make adults laugh. So when I make myself remember that I’m well past the legal age of adulthood, I’m still very stymied when I try to think of things that would be considered humorous only for grown ups.

Which ultimately forces me to accept the fact that I’m a retard as far as the sense of humor is concerned.

After going through the countless reviews about the movie, I came to know that this is another of the many works of Aamir Khan. (Please correct me if I’m wrong) And so, it had to be a masterpiece. People say that, as always, he has managed to come up with something different. But they also say that the movie portrays the reality of today’s life.

Ummm… So how is reality different ??? (My retarded mind trying harder to make some sense.)

As per the reviews I’ve read, the movie is about three bachelors living their life out in the city of Delhi. And the movie doesn’t hold back in portraying any of the waste material which is either in their mind which exits through their mouths or the waste matter in their bodies which exits as well.

I try to find humor in such scenarios. But my retarded mind refuses to budge. Ohhh… when will I grow up enough to be able to laugh my head off when I see people abusing each other ?? Or at the sight of events that take place inside a loo ?? Surely the plot must be full of hilarious situations consisting of some un-mentionable acts. But as they put it… it is aimed at matured audiences. Not for retards like me.

So I’ve decided to give this amazing movie a skip. (something which would have happened otherwise too if it wouldn’t have been for such delirious reviews) Even though it’s one of Aamir Khan’s works (who has given us oldies like Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin, Hum Hain Raahi Pyar Ke and the one and only Andaz Apna Apna) I’m not keen to give it even a passing look.

No. I’m not one of those intolerants who take up arms and run off to tear down posters and burn effigies. I agree that everyone has their own tastes for humor. Just that I have still to grow up a lot to start recognizing such a taste. Because watching the actions which go on below people’s pelvises, whether in the bathroom or the bedroom, doesn’t tickle my humerus one bit. Sad, but true !!!

But, this poor soul who is a big time retard as far as the sense of humor is concerned, humbly pleads to all to spare him the ridicule of not being able to applaud supposedly the greatest comedy movies ever made.

PS : The following is a compilation of some of the movies which always have me in splits. And the last clip is my preferred version of the plot about three young bachelors sharing a room in the city of Delhi.

(Images courtesy : Google Images)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Special Award...

Ok ! So it’s time for me to collect another award. :D This time, Sunil & Preethika, a wonderful blogging couple, have generously shared the Versatile Blogger Award with me.

Thank you both for the encouragement ! :-)

It is rather a tag-award with the following set of rules.

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about you.
3. Spread the love and honor.
4. Award and contact 7 recently discovered bloggers.

Though I had already done a similar post about ‘Seven random facts about myself’ earlier, I was wondering about what to write this time. But suddenly I remembered a short note which my school friend Kaddu wrote and posted on Facebook on my last Birthday. Kaddu was the one who actually pushed me into the blogging world. So, here I’m sharing that nice little note which she wrote.

7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Shobhit

1. On phone, he laughs more than he talks.

2. He has not yet been able to figure out why people drink tea... and enjoy it too!

3. If a damsel and a dog were in distress in front of him, he would probably save the dog first!

4. He doesn't like attending formal parties or marriages, but then he thinks of all the food...and goes anyway! :D

5. Mornings and Shobhit are NOT synonymous with each other!

6. He stills uses Yahoo Messenger (like me!) :D

7. He's a fan of Tintin, Asterix and Archies!

Since I had already mentioned the point #2 above in my earlier post, I’d rather substitute it with :

I just cannot make up my mind in selecting gifts or greeting cards.

Now that I’m done with the difficult and rather boring task of writing about myself, it’s time to share the award with some of my fellow bloggers whom I discovered recently.

Alka (Freebird)
Avada Kedavra (Stung by the splendor of a crazy thought)
Pencilgirl (Conquering the world)
Priyanka (Confessions of the Chocolate Obsessed)
Rashmi (Unknown eccentricities)
Sadiya (Ye life hai….take it lightly!)
Soumya (LOL : Life of Leo)

I doubt if all the above mentioned bloggers do enjoy doing tags. But even if you don’t, please accept the Versatile Blogger Award which all of you rightfully deserve. :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Hazards of Growing Up...

“God……. When will he grow up ??” exclaimed Mom, rolling her eyes heavenwards, as if having a one-to-one with the Almighty.

And without waiting for the Almighty to explain things, she looked back at me as I ended up sprawled on the floor, clutching my hurting tummy and laughing my wits off for the nth time in the last half hour, watching the ‘Tom & Jerry’ show on the telly.

Seeming to have given up on any hope she had for her elder son showing any signs of sanity, she walked off to the confines of her room, mumbling something to the effect of using the ‘parental control’ on our television set.

Ok. ‘Tom & Jerry’ has been one of my weak points, if not the weakest. But what’s it got to do with my growing up ?

Ohhh… Am I supposed to be a grown up ? Maybe…

But do I care ?? Not in this world !

Which makes me ponder… what is this thing about growing up ? When exactly does a person grow up ? Is it really the stage when one can reach up and quietly sneak away the cookies from the top of the shelf ??

I have seen lots of people (rather, kids) itching to ‘grow up’. Maybe so that they can do things which they cannot and should not do as long as they are kids. And I’ve seen people ‘growing up’ overnight on their eighteenth birthday. Maybe there’s a lot more fun on the other side of that landmark in one’s life. But I’ve seen more serious people than joyous ones towards the heavier side of eighteen.

Looking at most of the ‘grown ups’ around me, I always get the feeling that I’m in unknown territory. For a small example, mine was the only room in the entire campus during the days of Medical College, where one would always find a handful of comics on the table. Though they were not officially prescribed by the Indian Medical education, yet I wouldn’t be able to end my day without going through at least one comic.

I could sense some of my mates feeling tempted to ask me to borrow some of those at times. In fact, some actually did too. But most of the times, people showed more amusement of seeing those in my room rather than giving in to the urge of reading one.

At home I still maintain a vast collection of children’s books and comics into which I dive every other day and relieve myself whenever I’m in need to be refreshed.

But then, has age something to do with growing up ? People can drive, vote, consume liquor, marry and do quite a few other things once they cross a certain age. Legally, that is. Because I’ve also seen under aged individuals getting involved in things which they cannot legally be involved in at their age.

One can legally drive. And one can legally consume liquor after a certain age. But would a person who gets himself drunk and then drives around (and over unsuspecting people), really be called a grown up ?

Not including child marriages (which are still illegally practiced around India), so many ‘grown ups’ who can and do legally marry, don’t have a clue about what they are getting themselves into. And dare I mention about how most ‘grown ups’ use their right to vote ??

So what do grown ups do ? What are they supposed to do ? How are they supposed to behave ? And what do they do when they have some free time on their hands ??

And when I put myself through these trying questions, I can only come up with what grown ups don’t do, are not supposed to do and how they are not supposed to behave.

Because there aren’t many (or any) grown ups that I’ve seen who…

* Run out with a football while it rains instead of sitting in the shade and sipping tea.
* Or who play 'Caesar IV' on their computer overnight during holidays instead of muttering sweet nothings with a girl/boy friend on the phone.
* Or who share a toddler’s big balloon to play with instead of shouting at the kid to sit down and behave.
* Or who run around the house with their Mom chasing them with a glass of milk instead of sitting down at the dining table for a proper breakfast.
* Or who quietly sneak inside the refrigerator for some ‘Cadburys GEMS’ at 2 AM instead of snoring away in bed.
* Or who opt for a nice serving of Choco ice cream at a party instead of even giving a look to the liquor-bar.
* Or who are more interested in the latest Spanish-League scores instead of the values of the stock market in the daily news.

Even at my age I’m not considered a grown up and looking at some of my exploits as above, I don’t see me ‘growing up’ in the near future.

But I ask again, does being a grown up anything to do with one’s appearance, one’s age, one’s actions or does it depend upon one’s sensibilities ?

And, is it necessary to leave the child in one’s own self behind, as one continues to overtake new landmarks of age in life ? If that is necessary in order to grow up,……. What’s the big deal in growing up ???

Are you a grown up ???

(Picture credits : Google Images)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Matrimon(e)y Shopping...

Just the other night I was in the midst of my ‘happy hour’ of the day. Diving into my dinner plate while surfacing in between to check the ‘Newshour’ on ‘Times Now’. And so, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I felt immensely disturbed as I heard the sound of my phone ringing. Irritated, I fumbled with the phone and pressed the green key.

“Hullo ?!?”

“Hi. What’s up ?” It was my rather eccentric friend on the other end.

“Ohh. How are you ?”

“Fine. You say.”

“Fine too. What’s news ?”

“No news. Just called.”

My sense suddenly shifted gears and went on to the sixth. This guy wouldn’t ever call at such an hour to ‘just call’.

“OK. Come on. Out with it !!!” I exclaimed.


“Who ? How ?? When ??? Don’t tell me you are getting married !”


So it had finally happened. The most awaited wicket had finally fell. With almost all my other batch mates having bitten the dust, we all were keenly waiting for this piece of news. Betting each other if this was really possible in this very world. This weird fellow, taking the path to matrimony was one of the most laughed about imaginations amongst our batch. And now it was going to be true.

“You see…” he began. “It was rather a lucky thing. Though I didn’t want a doctor girl, and she’s a Pathologist, but it’s fine since she’s not a clinician. And secondly, she’s from my own city. And most importantly, her dad is a Pediatrician and her mom is a Gynaecologist. So I have all the main departments in my upcoming hospital taken care of !”

And then he grinned. Though I didn’t see him grin, I knew him well enough to know that he was grinning right then. As if I could hear him grinning.

“I’ve also found a girl for you.” He continued.

“Ok. Keep her safe. I’ll collect her when I come there next time.” I replied.

“No. Seriously. What type of a girl do you want ? A medico ? Or a non-medico ??” He was persistent.

“Neither a medico, nor a non-medico !!!” I was beginning to lose it by this time.

“Ohhh. So you’d want an engineer… ?” It suddenly seemed to beam to him. And that was when I burst out laughing. And I was soon into fits of laughter as he further tried to describe how a non-medico was the term used for a housewife and things to that effect.

Putting that incident aside, I really wonder how we, in India, literally shop for a spouse. I mean, just talk to any budding groom or his family. They are absolutely clear about what they are looking for in a bride. Apart from the age old caste/fair/tall/English-speaking/etc. people are not only concerned about the girl being working or not but also very specific about the job she does. Some prefer a girl with a job while others opt for a homely housewife. They look for all the required specifications to be met just as they would buy a consumer product.

In other words, a working girl would mean an extra source of income into the household. It is even better if her job is complementary to that of her husband’s. So that they can easily setup a combined establishment.

On the other hand, a homely housewife would be expected to take care of the home and kids. And actually, without even being paid for it. The guy doesn’t really need a soul mate. He simply needs a working hand at home without any additional cost.

In fact, I have been witness to a case where the match couldn’t work out because the groom’s family had a problem with the prospective bride’s work hours. She was supposed to be at work during hours when they needed her to be at home.

In my own field of doctors (including many of my batch mates) I’ve seen a surgeon wanting a gynaec. wife. A pathologist wanting a pathologist. And so on. And some of my friends have tried to reason with me by telling me that one has to be practical. So one needs to know what’s best for oneself.

So, just as one has all the specifications for a much needed product in mind, before he goes out to shop for it, similarly it’s the case with arranged marriages in India. People have a clear list of requirements at hand before they go out to shop for a bride or a groom. In fact, marriage is just another necessity to fulfill life’s requirements as one spends his or her life. And such people usually follow the principle of ‘love what you get rather than get what you love’.

How can someone marry just to fulfill some needs in life which are invariably related to money ? And thus chooses a life partner who’d be a help in the fulfillment of those monetary gains ?? It boggles my mind !

So, it’s no wonder when some of my aunts, who are distant relatives of some of my other aunts, are busy spreading the word around to look out for ‘doctor brides’ for me.

If only they all knew… I HATE SHOPPING !!!


(Image courtesy : Google Images)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Strawberry Crush... (Part 2)

Please read Part 1 before reading the following continuation.


He flipped the book on to the table as he stood up and ran his hand through his hair. What on earth is happening ?? He was utterly perplexed.

It had been getting crazier by the day ever since that incident in class. And he couldn’t even get a hold on matters. He was finding himself in awkward situations once too often.

Just the other day as he stood by the tree with his group of friends. And suddenly he saw Her. Across the lawns. Walking down the path with two of her friends. His eyes following her. Watching her face. And all he contributed to the discussion with his friends was a mumbled ‘Yeah’ to something Ronnie had said. And was startled to death as all of them exclaimed a ‘Whaattt ???’ in unison.

“Did you just agree with Ronnie that Sachin should be dropped from the team for the next series ??” asked one in complete disbelief. “Noo. Yeah. I mean. Noo. I didn’t… What ??” was all he could reply. Had they caught him looking at her ?? No. They didn’t. Could they ?? They shouldn’t…

And then the other day when he saw her coming out of the library. And how she had suddenly looked back. And he had turned hastily, bumping into Mrs. G ! He cringed at the mere thought of the events thereafter.

He had been able to make a complete fool of himself. But somehow, he had been finding her all around. In the class, in the library, in the canteen or in the corridors. Just about everywhere. Or maybe he had been hallucinating. He was completely baffled.

She was pretty disturbed. Her life was going on fine. At least for a normal girl. But things were getting complicated lately. Though she was happy before. But recently she had experienced moments when she felt even happier. And then hours when she felt really depressed. She wasn’t prepared for such a contrasting phase of emotions. What was happening ??

She remembered the other day when she was in her room, deep into a fantasy world, when she was shaken back to reality by her friend. “What are you dreaming about ? Do you want to be late for the lecture ??” asked Nancy. “Uhh.. Ohh… Actually, we are having a party at home. So, I was just thinking about which dress to wear…” She had tried to make up a story.

“Okk. We know who’s that special someone coming to the party. That’s why you want to look your best…” Her friend had winked while the others laughed. They had run off before she could get up to chase them.

Somewhere at the back of her mind, she knew what was disturbing her. It was Him ! Ever since that day, he had somehow captured her mind. He had hijacked her thoughts. And she kept running into him everywhere and every time. Every morning, she would find her eyes searching for him. And sooner than later, she would spot him. And then she would feel a strange sense of relief. Everyday, on returning, she would be filled with a sense of guilt. But all such sense would vanish into thin air on seeing him the very next day.

She had been catching him stealing quick glances at her. And every time she would catch him, he would quickly turn away or look elsewhere. And she would find herself fighting to prevent a small smile on her face. She could experience the delightful thrill in this other world of hers. She wanted to test if it was real. And she decided to play the game with him. Things were surely getting crazier.

It was still some time for the class to start. She looked around in search, and found him standing by the pillar talking to his friend. She walked up to the smart guy right across him.


“Hi’. He replied.

“I was wondering if you could help me out with this question from yesterday’s test.” She asked him, while making sure He noticed her talking to this guy.

“Sure. Let’s sit here”.

She sat down on the empty bench trying to force her attention to what the guy was talking about. I hope he’s watching. He must be watching ! I’m not going to look up at him !

But it was hardly a minute before she gave in to the temptation and looked up. HE WAS GONE !

“So, you see, you just have to analyze…. ” the guy was still speaking.

“Ok. I got it. Thanks !” She said as she abruptly got up and walked towards the crowd of students near the hall.

“Hey… But I’ve not even started…” The guy called her, but she was already into the crowd. Searching for Him.

And then, she saw him talking… and laughing… with the girl who had almost every other boy falling for her.

He stood there, fixed, looking at them talk. When suddenly, he turned to look at her. Once again, their eyes met. But only this time, it was a lot different.

She turned away and walked. Fuming. While he turned in the opposite direction.

“I HATE HIM !!!”

“I HATE HER !!!”

(to be continued.......)

(Image source : Google Images)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Faith, Belief and Worship...

This post has been selected by Blogadda as one of the top posts for this week's 'Spicy Saturday Picks'.


Over the recent years, India has witnessed an overflow of god-men, spiritual gurus and ‘swamis’ who seem to have captured the imagination of the masses. Their followers are not restricted to particular strata of the population, but span across varied professions and social classes.

One often fails to understand what makes such god-men so successful and their followers so faithful to them. Even though pure logic and scientific arguments clearly prove their tactics to be nothing more than tricks to deceive innocent (and not so innocent) followers, these god-men continue to increase their disciples not just in India but even from abroad.

But what is it that makes these ‘babas’ so much in demand ? I’ll try to explain here, how I comprehend the logic behind it all.

Every human life, from birth till death, follows a somewhat similar path. If one remembers high school mathematics, it is very similar to a ‘sine curve’. It’s a curve which changes it’s co-ordinates at regular intervals, consisting of crests and troughs.

The above is a basic and symmetrical sine curve. But every human life differs in the variations of each crest and trough he or she goes through during life. The positive and negative phases, though uneven in time and magnitude, always follow one another just as a ‘sine wave’ does. Which means, periods of happiness lead to not too happy ones, and bad phases are destined to end in good ones.

Now, suppose a person is rather happy and content with his life. Let us mark him to be at point ‘A’. But as soon he passes point ‘B’, things seem to start getting not so good. As he passes point ‘C’ on the baseline, things start going from bad to worse.

That is the phase usually when every person gets panicky and wants relief. The point marked as the red star in the ‘life-curve’ above is the time when such a person, feeling hopeless with his life, runs for some spiritual help, expecting it to turn things around magically.

At this point, he may be advised about the amazing qualities of a ‘guru’ or ‘baba’ by a relative/friend/neighbor or anyone for that matter.

This is when he actually develops faith in the aforesaid person to lift him out of his mess. He becomes a sincere disciple of the ‘guru’, expecting for things to change for good.

Sooner, rather than later, his ‘life-curve’ passes point ‘D’ and turns back upwards towards the positive side. He realizes things to be getting better and attributes this change in ‘fortune’ to his ‘guru’. As the curve passes point ‘E’ and gets still higher to the positive side, his faith now turns to belief for his ‘guru’. Now he is a die-hard devotee. By the time his ‘life-curve’ reaches the next peak at point ‘F’, he has already started worshipping at the god-man’s feet.

The above is just a basic example. A person may have a larger ‘crest’, thereby solidifying his belief for his ‘master’. Or he may have a prolonged ‘trough’, which he attributes to not being sincere in his devotion, and waits patiently for the ‘master’ to bless him.

Recently, I heard about a lady who recalled about how her husband fell ill while on a trip, having a fit and frothing at the mouth. And how she quickly dropped in some of the ‘sacred ash’ into her husband’s mouth which a god-man had given her. And how her husband recovered magically.

I have personally heard countless tales of businessmen running for the blessings of a ‘guru’ after bearing business losses and thereby becoming die-hard devotees for life.

Then there are sick people, who, after going through loads of medication, still don’t find a cure and start feeling better once they experience the ‘miraculous’ treatment of a god-man. Which may be anything ranging from ‘sacred-ash’, ‘magic-water’, or a ‘healing-touch’ to even a wave of a hand.

It is not that once a person having cleared a depression in life will not experience another. But the new found faith, leading to a belief makes his confident that he worshipping his ‘guru’ would once again lift him from the bad phase into the good one.

Thus, one will never find a dearth of blind devotees to every other ‘swami’ or ‘baba’ who look up to them for their miracles to rescue them from physical, mental or economical bad phases in life.

Almost every other spiritual leader, god-man or ‘swami’ has been found involved in some sort of mess or the other. Be it amassing wealth, conversion of black money into white, scandals, illegal land acquisition to even murders. But such cases have not affected the number of devotees to such frauds. The followers refuse to accept even obvious proofs of their ‘master’s’ crimes. In fact, they just cannot take anything that questions their 'guru'.

The bottom line is that people are scared to accept logical explanations of their troubles. They would rather depend on some supernatural cure that has no certainty but is based on positive faith and belief. And the above statement is probably the only thing which such fraud god-men know and take advantage of.

(Picture source: Google Images)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


The sun was still playing hide-n-seek with the dark clouds as he stepped on to the terrace. It had been raining heavily all through the day. The clouds, having seemed to have drained their store of cats and dogs appeared to be interested elsewhere. He was disappointed not to find a rainbow. But the brisk and cool breeze sort of made it up for him.

He decided to scan the neighborhood as he walked around the damp terrace. The north end was calm as ever. The only difference being that the kitchen-garden of the neighbors next door had pretty much been converted into a kitchen-pond in which their five-year-old was trying to sail his paper boats.

Moving over to the west, he saw two little birds on the big mango tree making quite a noise about a worm they had just caught. Obviously arguing about which of them was earlier. The south, however, looked a tad disturbed. It appeared that the dozen odd kids from the four-generation-household, who had finished drenching themselves running after each other in the rain, were now running around trying to escape their mothers who wanted to get them out of their wet clothes.

But he stopped as he came to the east-end. As usual, he glanced towards the house down the street. It somehow felt alive within, but motionless as always. The terrace was deserted. He was confused whether to feel relieved or disappointed. So he continued to eye the deserted terrace in order to solve his confusion.

And he got his answer the next moment as the door burst open and revealed contents which instantly spread all over.

The rucksack of terror that emerged from the door was ‘Gonglu’, the ten year old who was the scourge of the neighborhood. Though he was barely ten, he was built well enough to handle two ten-year-olds. He had heard how Gonglu’s mom was to have twins. But apparently gave up on the trouble of delivering twice and instead had Gonglu. He surely looked like a pair of twins that weren’t given the trouble to separate at all.

The quality which kept Gonglu at the top of the weekly charts of the nuisance mongers of the area was his spontaneity. To hatch up an evil plan to render his victims aghast was with him, the work of a moment.

And each time his eyes saw Gonglu, he would involuntarily be forced to recall that day when his ‘Rambo’ ran up and down the street at unbelievable speeds as each of the juicy ‘chatai’ bomb tied to its tail blasted louder than the one before. To watch one’s beloved dog run for his life is bad enough. But to watch him run without even being able to tuck his tail in between his legs is worse. And he simply winced on recalling that incident once again.

He had hated Gonglu ever since he descended on that peaceful locality with his family for newer prey. And he could have easily dealt him some good lessons if it wasn’t for… Her. Gonglu’s elder sister. He remembered the moment when he first saw her. And how he had simply melted. She had mesmerized him. And that sparkle in her eyes had shot right through him. He always wondered, how could siblings be so infinitely opposites of each other… ??

He scanned the terrace once again. There was no sight of her. But Gonglu seemed to be getting ready to fly a kite. Something that gave him immense pleasure. Though it served as a warning sign for the entire living neighborhood. And suddenly he had an idea. “I’ll show the devil how to fly a kite !” He ran back in and came out with a kite and thread.

The wind was brisk, and the kites were up in no time. He realized that the wind was towards the north-east. “Even better !” he thought. “Maybe I can poke it right on the brat’s head.”
Gonglu looked around for probable victims, and saw him tugging at his kite. He grinned. When he saw Gonglu grin, he felt his insides churning and something hot rising up his nose, to his head. “Just you wait. You monster !” And he loosened his kite further to get to the right length.

When he felt it was just the accurate distance, right above the ten-year-old plague, he tweaked the thread. Just as the kite turned down on its nose, he pulled hard. And down dived the kite. Aiming right at Gonglu’s fat head. And he mumbled to himself, “That’ll teach you a nice lesson !”

The sound of the impact echoed through the length of the street. He wondered if people had ever heard a kite strike a ten-year-old’s head. Maybe they hadn’t. But the sound he heard right then didn’t really seem like it. The sound should probably have been close to a thud. Not the thud of a falling sack-full of potatoes. But a thud of a stick striking a hairy head. But this sounded more like a pair of scissors striking a table head on.

And as he shifted his attention to the source of that very sound, he saw Gonglu’s burly Brigadier of a dad pressing hard at his bald head looking around desperately to ascertain the new target for his rifle. In all the excitement to teach the thug a lesson, he had completely missed when Gonglu’s dad had joined him on the terrace.

There are a few situations which ask for immediate actions. And this was one such situation. And the best and only possible action he could think of was to duck. And as he ducked, he plucked at the thread in his hand to avoid leaving any ‘loose ends’. He watched through a crack in the wall, still crouching. And he could see the Brigadier stomping his feet off the terrace. While the real target was still at large.

He wasn’t going to give up. And soon he had another kite up in the air. He decided not to risk repeating the previous plan and ending up hitting bald and unsuspecting Brigadiers on the head again. “I’ll fight him off in a kite fight !” he said to himself. He tweaked and pulled at the thread, trying to get close to Gonglu’s while he had one eye on the terrace to check if the dad really returned with a loaded rifle.

And that was when he lost it. She had just stepped out on to the terrace, looking around skywards. And he felt his heart skip a beat. She had walked up to her kid brother, taking keen interest in the kite flying contest.

He was still tugging at the thread, looking at her, when he suddenly felt it get too tensed. And as he looked back bringing his attention to his kite, he couldn’t find it in the air. And it immediately struck to him that his kite had smoothly landed somewhere behind their house while he was busy admiring the cutest girl around. The prospective fight had ended rather abruptly. And he saw Gonglu look back at him and grin. And she looked back too.

“Oh God. She’s looking. I’ve got to get out of this one !” he prayed. And he tugged at the thread. And all of a sudden his kite appeared from behind the roof top.

But his joy was short lived as the kite was now in the possession of a red faced descendant of the apes. Panic ! He tugged and tried to pull it out of the monkey’s hands. But one cannot do much but stare when monkeys have some other ideas. And this one had too. It quickly started biting the kite like there was no tomorrow. And with each bite, he could hear the guffaws of Gonglu mixed with those of his sister. All he could manage was stand and stare with his face getting as red as the monkey’s, and starting to feel faint with embarrassment.

Gonglu was having fits of laughter. While she had sobered down a bit. He watched silently as she turned to leave. She walked up to the door, and stopped. She turned her head around to face him. Looking at him, she smiled. And then she ran inside.

He suddenly noticed, there was a rainbow in the eastern sky now, and he smiled too.

(Plot source : A  friend's real-life experience :P)  
(Image source : Google Images)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Reservations...

As per my personal experiences, the 'Delhi Metro' has proved to be a wonderful alternative for the people of Delhi who wish to travel between different parts of the city. As compared to the harrowing traffic jams and head splitting chaos on the roads of Delhi, the ‘Metro’ provides a comfortable, convenient and cool means of travel. Sometimes, even enjoyable.

The other day, I was traveling on the Delhi Metro from Dwarka towards ‘Rajiv Chowk’. I was to board from ‘Dwarka Sector 13’ station and was relieved to see that there wasn’t much of a crowd on the platform. It being a Sunday evening could have been a cause for the near deserted look the platform had.

As the train arrived, and I entered the coach which stopped right in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the seats being vacant. As if in a reflex action, I chose to sit on the ‘two-seater’ located at the very end of the coach. (The reason for my reflex would be better understood as you read further…)

It’s not often when one gets the liberty to choose where to sit while traveling in Delhi’s Metro. In fact, usually one doesn’t even have a choice where to stand. So, I was happily enjoying this rare chance and looking at the sun setting on Delhi through the window opposite me, while a man (probably in his late forties) sat beside me talking loudly on his phone. But my luxury was destined to be short lived.

As the train passed through various stations en route, crowd filled in. And soon, people were already occupying much of the floor space. As the train stopped at ‘Janakpuri West’, I saw an elderly gentleman (probably in his late sixties, with a cloth bag hanging on his shoulder) come in through the door next to me. As he searched around, (I guess, more in search of a suitable place to stand than looking for somewhere to sit) his head turned to my direction.

Instantly, I stood up inviting him to sit where I was sitting. He immediately took the offer, with a soft ‘Thank you’. But as soon as he occupied the seat, he nudged me and said, “Since you have been decent enough to offer me a seat, why should you stand ?” And with that, he shifted himself to try and make some space for me to sit between him and the other man.

I felt a bit awkward and tried to reason with him with a “It’s OK”. But he was quite certain about his decision and he literally pulled me to sit.

As I tried to balance myself on my feet while not being entirely comfortable sitting in about a quarter of the space I would have required, he asked again.

“What do you do ?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“No wonder. !”

I failed to understand this statement from him. But as I looked around, I saw the guy sitting right across us. He was looking right at me. And the look on his face seemed to convey to me that his search for the ultimate moron had finally ended with me.

I suddenly realized that the train had now stopped at ‘Tilak Nagar’ station as more crowd came in. And then I saw a young girl come in from the door next to us. She looked to be a college going girl in her early twenties. But contrary to people almost triple her age, she was absolutely specific and certain about herself once inside the train. She immediately walked up to the seats across and away from us, and went up to a young guy sitting there, enjoying music on his phone through the earphones.

And then I saw the expressions on his face change from one of enjoyment to that of detest. And soon I realized that the guy, while busy with his music, had not given attention to the sticker above his seat. Which marked it to be reserved for ladies. And before one could even bat an eyelid, the young girl was now sitting on the same seat enjoying music on her phone through the earphones. Though I didn’t give a thought to whether she asked him for his phone too.

Often, I have noticed, as my Dad feeds the birds of the neighborhood every morning, how the sparrows are the first to come down and start to feast on the seeds. But soon, there’s this crow, which descends right in the middle, stamping its authority on the food while the little sparrows spread out and sulk. I wonder how it would be the other way round if a sparrow disturbs several crows and scares them away while stamping its authority on the food. But if it would ever happen, I’m sure the crows would be sulking just the way the guy sulked now after having to vacate his seat for the girl.

Well, the train now reached ‘Rajouri Garden’ and even more crowd poured in. In the middle of which, I spotted a lady holding a little kid by the hand and carrying an even younger one in her arms. She made her way between the crowd, and co-incidentally came to stand right in front of the girl I had seen before.

To my disbelief, the girl decided that she had had enough of music and instead it was time to do some talking on the phone. And away she chatted with continuously changing expressions on her face, ignoring completely the lady standing right in front of her. And surely she must have ignored the sticker above the seats across her which said : ‘Please vacate your seat for someone who needs it more than you.’ (with an image of an old man with a stick and a pregnant lady with a little kid).

Maybe this girl couldn’t relate the lady in front of her with that on the sticker. Obviously, she had a little kid in her arms rather than inside her. So that didn’t match !!!

Which brings me to wonder, why is there the very need to have seats reserved for the elderly or pregnant females or even for females ?

We have to be told that this very seat is reserved for an aged man. So it should be vacated if such a person comes around. Why ?? Don’t we have the etiquette of offering a seat to the elderly ??

Do we have to be told that a pregnant lady needs to have a seat more than a young man ? Or for that matter, a young woman ??

But the truth is, not only do we have to be told, there have to be reservations made for actions which only demand a bit of decency.

What if there are no seats marked as ‘reserved for the elderly’ ? Does that mean that an elderly man or woman will not be offered one ?? In fact, that’s absolutely true. In such a case, we won’t even give it a thought.

Doesn’t marking seats as ‘reserved for those who need it more’ certify the fact that if not done so, our society is so indecent that it doesn’t have even the basic courtesies of everyday life ??

But, on the contrary, there are examples, as my experience above showed that even certain reservations cannot ensure acts of decency from the common public. Irrespective of age or sex, we have to be forced to act courteous.

The young guy in the case above had to be asked to vacate his seat which was reserved for ladies. He wouldn’t have budged had the girl not asked him to.

The girl though, had every right to sit on the seat reserved for ladies. But shouldn’t she have been decent enough to offer her seat to the lady who had two small kids with her ??

The question here is not about rights or reservations. It is about who needed the seat more. Shouldn’t a young girl of 20 vacate her seat for a gentleman of 80 ?

BUT… We now are in a habit of going by the rules. Or, in fact, trying to break the rules unless being told not to. Courtesy and decency are now words of the past. They don’t exist. And the incident above is not just a one-off.

Reservations regarding actions of people towards one another depict a certain flaw in the society. Reservations certify inequality (and indecency in the above scenario).

Maybe people have become more practical. So have I. That is why I choose to stand rather than face the embarrassment of flouting the ‘reservation-rules’ in the ‘Delhi Metro’.

P.S. : The above post is not a generalization. It is targeted specifically to people like the ones in the incident above.
Pictures credit : Google Images

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Of Languages and Higher Education...

Just the other day, I came across an article that had listed the many demands made by Baba Ramdev in his so called fight against corruption. It seemed to be an interesting list until I came to the point where he demands that all Technical and Scientific higher education in India should be taught in regional Indian languages. While I had no real issues with most of his other demands, this particular demand appeared to me to be as absurd as one can get.

Though a large number of people (which obviously includes most of the Baba’s die-hard devotees) would pounce on the opportunity to criticize my opinion, they fail to see facts just beyond the issue of language here. My personal credentials are not so as to speak about other fields of science & technology, but being a student from the Medical stream I thought it better to put my point of view through the perspective of a Medical student, backed by some practical facts. So, the following views should be referred to in relation with the Medical education in India.

The main argument in favor of the above demand seems to be that students, who have had their school education in any regional Indian language, find it tough to follow the Medical curriculum that is taught in English. I have been told that Baba Ramdev didn’t ask for a complete change from English. Rather he demands for a parallel education in regional languages as well.

I don’t have any problem with the idea !

Let’s just suppose that the idea of “parallel education” in regional languages is implemented. Now let us see how it affects a student who has had his education in a regional Indian language throughout his school life.

The student clears the Pre-Medical Entrance Test, and joins the MBBS course in a reputed Medical College which has “parallel teaching in regional languages”.

By the way, here I would like to mention that admission to the MBBS course in all Government Medical colleges in India takes place through either State or All-India Entrance Exam. And 15 percent seats in all such colleges are reserved for the All-India quota. Which means, a college in Delhi with 200 seats would be admitting 30 students from all over India. Which would include students from West Bengal, Orissa, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, etc. (I have not included here the reputed institutes like AIIMS, AFMC, CMC, JIPMER, etc who hold their own exams but are still open to students from all over India)

That means that the very Medical college in Delhi will have to have “parallel teaching” in all of those regional languages too. Assuming that the students from other parts of India have had their school education in their regional language.

According to the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution as of May 2008, the number of “Official Indian Languages” is 22. Which means that the college would need 23 different classrooms for each year of MBBS. One cannot expect people teaching different languages in the same room simultaneously. So, for four Professional Examinations, that would need 92 classrooms.

But we assume that even that is taken care of, and the student has now access to Medical education in his native language.

Now, the MBBS course, spanning four and a half years, consists of 19 different, but inter-related subjects. And each of those subjects has an average of 5 reference textbooks, some of which have up to 3 volumes each. So, that student would now need textbooks of all those subjects in his native language.

Medical text is not something absolute. Each subject undergoes constant revision and addition of text according to new researches and discoveries. Thus, the text has to be constantly updated to keep the student up to date of the latest advances.

Secondly, the translation of Medical text would require the services of persons who are well acquainted with the Medical field. One cannot expect an expert translator to efficiently understand what a particular text desires to convey to the students. Such a person can very well take care of the grammar, but not about the technicality of the text.
But I am told that just the general text needs to be translated. So I agree to that too.

I assume even that is taken care of. And all the textbooks of all the 19 subjects have been efficiently translated. But now we require teachers to teach each of those subjects in each of the regional languages. Not teachers of regional languages, but doctors who are able to efficiently teach Medicine in those languages. Though at present there is even a great shortage of teachers who can just teach in English. But we assume even that problem is taken care of.

So, the student completes his MBBS efficiently in his native language with extremely good scores. But now he wants to pursue specialization after completing his MBBS. In other words, he now plans to do his Post Graduation.

We assume that the above student qualifies to a PG course of his choice in a reputed institute of the country. But, according to the “Salient features of Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000” of the Medical Council of India,

[Clause 13.7] Training in Medical Audit, Management, Health Economics, Health Information System, basics of statistics, exposure to human behavior studies, knowledge of pharmaco – economics and introduction to non- linear mathematics shall be imparted to the Post Graduate students.

So, all of which should be in the native language of the student concerned.

[Clause 14.4(a)] Every candidate shall carry out work on an assigned research project under the guidance of a recognized Post Graduate Teacher, the result of which shall be written up and submitted in the form of a Thesis.

Work for writing the Thesis is aimed at contributing to the development of a spirit of enquiry, besides exposing the candidate to the techniques of research, critical analysis, acquaintance with the latest advances in medical science and the manner of identifying and consulting available literature. Thesis shall be submitted at least six months before the theoretical and clinical / practical examination.

Now… as per practical experience from PG students in India, the thesis of a student is based on the research work already done by doctors from all around the world. The PG student has to add further work/research done by him to all the work done on a particular topic around the world. In a nutshell, the thesis of each PG student comprises of at least 90-95% of information from Medical Journals and Research papers from around the world if not more than that.

But… unfortunately, all such Medical Journals and Research papers are available in English and not in Indian regional languages.

So, either the doctors and scientists around the world should learn more languages and translate their works accordingly. Or, the doctors in India try to do that task. But the main emphasis is on the works that have already been published.

A single Medical journal is a periodical that is published every month (if not more frequently) with dozens of new studies in each issue. To try to assess the total number of Medical Journals in the world, one may just be informed that China alone has a little more than Four Thousand Medical Journals of its own. (And each one of them is in English contrary to some beliefs) Isn’t it strange why the Chinese chose to publish their own work in English ?

Which brings us to a point where all the past issues of Journals around the world have to be translated from English in order to be understood by a student who did his MBBS in a regional language. If he doesn’t, he’ll be unable to use the knowledge available and would have to compromise on the quality of his thesis.

And… if he is able to understand the Medical Journals in English, why did he initially need to study MBBS in his native language ???

But even assuming the above Medical student eventually starts his practice, how would he be able to manage patients who come to him with investigations and their reports in English. Or would he ask the patient to go and get them translated to his native language first. Or… would he demand the entire investigating procedures, machines and equipments to be changed (oh, excuse me… be made parallel) to those giving reports in English ?

Medicine is not a field restricted to a region or country. Health is a global issue. Diseases are not restricted to particular regions.
For example, if one doctor completes and important research on ‘swine flu’ in India and another doctors finds some important facts about the same in Brazil, they would want to exchange their information with each other in order to tackle ‘swine flu’ better. But what if the Brazilian doctor refuses to budge from Portugese and his Indian counterpart isn’t ready to compromise on his regional language ??

To prevent such a scenario, a common language of communication is essential to standardize things. Just as we have the S.I. units for mass, volume and time. And though one may not particularly like the fact, but that language happens to be English.

Now some people would put up an argument that countries like Russia, Japan, China, Germany, etc. never depended on English. But they have been producing doctors too. I agree. Yes, they have. But have they resorted to alternative language (even parallel) to English in the Medical field ?

The following links would provide the doubters something to think about.

Russian Medical Journals Online

Japan Medical Association

Saudi Medical Journal

Chinese Medical Journal (It specifically mentions that - 'The Chinese Medical Journal (CMJ) is published semimonthly in English by the Chinese Medical Association')

As the above links show, all these countries have stuck to the use of English in the Medical field. Not because they downgrade their native languages. But because they know the importance of a common medium of communication for the exchange of knowledge.

“Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine” which is considered as the Bible for every Medical graduate and post graduate is available in English throughout the world. From Saudi Arabia to Austria, from Ukraine to Argentina, from South Africa to Australia… everyone follows the same book. No one has ever considered it to be translated to Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Dutch, Latin, etc. And this great reference book has inputs from Medical specialists from all around the world.

Will an expert Indian doctor, having studied Medicine in his native language, be able to exchange his valuable research with the world ? He would first need to depend upon someone who understands his work and then would translate it for the world.

I am not pro-English or anti-regional languages. All I want to emphasize is that language is not and can not be a criterion to attain quality education. But one must keep in mind the ultimate purpose of the education one is pursuing. It is not about discrimination between languages to attain quality higher education, but it is rather about how effective education can be.

One decides and strives to become a good doctor not because he or she wants to promote a certain language or downgrade another, but to reach out to as many people and help them recover from diseases and disorders. If one solely aims to promote a language, he can effectively do that by taking up language studies. But if a doctor is accused of demeaning a particular language, that’s really not his concern. A doctor’s sole aim is the diagnosis of disease and its management.

And as far as Baba Ramdev is concerned, it would be better if he concentrates on the field of his expertise. (if there is any !) Not knowing about the practical facts of a field and commenting on it is rather absurd.

AND… how does Baba Ramdev expect his devotees to benefit from his expertise by having his very own website in complete English ?!?!?! :P

Please see the link below.

And it doesn’t even have options to view the same in any other language ! (something which is common to see in most International websites) Didn’t he think about all those Indian followers of his who haven’t had English education and want to know about him through the WWW ???

P.S. : With thanks for valuable inputs from all my colleagues from Engineering and Medical fields.


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