Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Bus Stop...

It was a nice and cool day. He had been looking forward to such a time for long. Pleasant weather on a day off from work was the best combination for a trip around town.

Thus, with a strange but pleasant sense of expectation he walked down the street to catch the afternoon bus that would take him to the city centre.

He was still a few feet away from the bus stop when he stopped still in his tracks. There amidst the deserted bus stop, right in the center of the bench he saw her sitting. He could feel his heart skip a beat and then speed off on to the third gear.

He was in a dilemma. Should he walk up to her ? But he was unsure of her reaction towards his presence in an otherwise deserted surrounding. He stood still trying not to breath fast to check if she had already noticed him.

He didn’t move for a couple of minutes. Time was running out. A bus would soon come along. And then he would lose her. And he didn’t want to be left with just a glimpse of her. Something that had become so common over the past few days.

He moved towards her gingerly. He was sure she had noticed his presence. He slowed down still more, but didn’t stop. Just as he was within a few feet from her, she snapped her head to look at him. He froze on the spot, trying to get a grip over his breathing.

Their eyes met for a brief moment. Then she looked away. Though she didn’t get up but he could sense she was nervous too. This gave him loads of relief and a sense of courage he had never felt before.

He took one step towards her. She looked back at him again, trying to judge his intentions. He tried to muster a smile, but failed miserably. He stopped again, looking nonchalantly down the road as if expecting the bus.

She still didn’t react. Though she appeared a bit disturbed by his presence. Maybe she was making up her mind.

He could feel her presence so near to him. With a swift wind blowing across the road, sweeping the dead leaves along, he could see her stiffen up a bit. It was the first time he had been so close to her. He felt mesmerized by her fairness. She looked even more beautiful from up close.

He realized that it was now or never and took a deep but quiet breath. He took two more soft steps and slowly sat down on the bench right beside her. He could feel his heart thumping in his chest, and its sound reverberating in his ears. He felt steam escape from his ears, while it felt impossible to breathe in.

He looked at her from the corner of his eye. She was looking away from him. He felt his throat go dry. He licked his lips and swallowed twice. She was deliberately ignoring him. The last thing he wanted was to scare her by anything he did.

But the next moment he decided to try his luck. He slowly moved his hand and touched her on her back. He dared not breathe expecting a reflex reaction from her. And not a pleasant one at that too.

As soon as she felt his hand on her back, she snapped back to look at him. He looked at her, into her eyes. Immediately, he saw a questioning look in her eyes. Out of nowhere, he managed to bring a faint smile to his face.

She was still looking at him without any hint of acknowledging the friendliness in his touch. She expected him to remove his hand and her intense stare gave the impression that she meant business.

He took off his hand, while expecting her to rise and walk away. But all she did was to look back down the road. He couldn’t believe his luck. Was she opening up to him ?

With his heart racing at the speed of knots, he moved his hand and kept it on hers. He had only imagined what touching her would feel like. But this was real. And it was intensely amazing. She felt so soft.

He suddenly found her staring at him again. But this time he didn’t let go of her. He smiled at her reassuringly. He noticed that her eyes had gone wide. Maybe she was trying to judge his intentions ever so quickly.

She suddenly straightened up and he felt that she was going to get up and walk away. But instead, she came closer to him and pushed herself into his side. He couldn’t believe it. He looked at her, into her eyes. And he saw that she trusted him.

He put his arm round her and felt her warmth on his skin. He had never thought that he could ever be this close to her. He wished that time would stand still for ever.

He was brought back to his senses by the sound of the bus that had stopped right in front of them.

“Hey mister… wanna board the bus ??!” Shouted the driver across the open door.

“Uhh.. no. Thanks !” He replied back.

“Fine. No problem.” Said the driver. “And a nice cat you got there…”

And the bus sped off…

(Picture Credits : Google Images)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Being Street Dumb...

In the past I have written about my experiences while traveling around the city and specially in the Delhi Metro. I had written about how people have no civic sense or general decency to offer their seat to someone who needs it more. 

But of late, I have come to observe such behavior in an entirely different light which appears beyond decency and civic sense. Although it obviously appears to be about being street smart quite literally, but there’s more to it than just being street smart. 

Taking for example, the way people behave while traveling in the Delhi Metro, one needs to keenly observe to realize why people behave the way they do. Without fail, at various Metro stations (specially at the change points) one can see how passengers boarding the train literally scamper to occupy a vacant seat. Obviously not waiting to ascertain if it is labeled for a particular category of passengers (like senior citizens, ladies or the differently abled) they just make sure to get themselves seated first. 

Now, I have often wondered why people are so desperate to sit while traveling (which may be even for as short a journey as one minute). And I don’t mean about frail or sick people but even completely fit and healthy youngsters who can be seen scurrying to occupy seats marked for senior citizens. 

I used to think that maybe it was due to the intense tiredness that one is carrying on themselves after a hard day’s work, or maybe some strange sense of happiness that one experiences only after managing to get a seat even if one is fresh and ready to go to work. 

But I now realize that happiness it is. The happiness of the achievement of managing to win a seat for oneself in such an intensely competitive travel schedule. I have observed people taking it to be an achievement however small it may be. 

And maybe these are the types of small successes people have started to aim for in this highly competitive world. On several occasions, I have overheard people boasting of such a ‘success’ to colleagues at work. It sort of makes one’s day if he or she manages to claim a seat for themselves while traveling. 

The same goes for people who rush through dense crowds in order to stick in a foot between the closing doors of a lift marked only for the elderly or the disabled. On first thought one may feel that people are merely being street smart to make life easier for themselves. Obviously it wouldn’t hurt a twenty five year old if he or she had to stand during a journey that spans about fifteen minutes. Or for that matter, if he or she had to climb up or down about thirty stairs. 

But it is, in fact, the sense of achievement or success that one experiences that makes people ignore any civic sense towards fellow citizens. And maybe it is the street smartness which enables them to achieve these successes. 

It is nice to see people happy through a sense of achievement. But it hurts to imagine how low people set their aims for success. Or rather, everyday success. 

As for me, I’m still street dumb ! 

(Picture Credit : Google Images)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Amazing Scotland...


There are a few places in the world which can match this part of the British Isles in terms of natural beauty. And what better way to experience it than driving along the highways that spread across the Scottish highlands.

We started off one sunny morning from Birmingham taking highway M6 to the north. Driving past Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester and Preston, we stopped mid way at Lake District to take a look at the amazing set of lakes right between the mountains. The view of the Bowness Bay Lake was stupendous even though the weather was a bit overcast.

We then carried on northwards passing Penrith and Carlisle to reach the historic and captivating city of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Castle is a marvel in itself overlooking the entire city from the mountaintop.

Edinburgh certainly gives a feeling of being in medieval Britain but with the luxuries of the modern era. Still, the city retains its natural attractions with huge lush green parks and lakes.

We set off early next morning for Inverness up north. The journey got even more exciting and a visual delight to the eyes as we drove still higher up the mountains. The sun playing hide and seek with the clouds provided at least half a dozen sightings of lovely rainbows.

Inverness was the starting point of the journey along the long and beautiful but eerie Loch Ness; the great lake famous for the sightings of the imaginary (or maybe real) Loch Ness Monster. Contrary to the character of a lake, the water flows in turbulent waves but looks serene blue from a distance. It was a pity that the ‘Monster’ didn’t feel like giving us an appearance.

We completed our journey for the day driving through the evergreen mountains along the lake while passing the ancient town of Fort Williams and reaching the small coastal town of Oban. It was a lovely sight to see ships coming in and moving out of the docks right across our hotel room window.

The next morning we left Oban for Glasgow driving downhill and along another great lake called Loch Lomond. Glasgow bears the marks of a modern city what with the 2014 Common Wealth Games slated to be hosted there.

The drive back to Birmingham was no less beautiful with lush green farms full of white sheep appearing as small white dots and the occasional mountain cow with their long brown hair and horns.

It was a rather satisfying little journey but anyone who is looking to experience the wonders of the natural world must pay a visit to Scotland.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ragging : Illogical & Illegal...

Just the other day I was involved in an animated discussion about the practice of ragging in educational institutes in India. Though I had written on this topic a long time back, the contents of the discussion forced me to write about it again.

What amazes me is the support to the menace called ragging by those who themselves underwent the trauma while in college. During the above mentioned discussion, there were several points put forward in the favor of ragging. I will thus dissect each of them one by one.

Ragging is a means to ‘break the ice’ between the new-comers and their seniors.

Now, why does meeting someone new and getting friendly with them requires one to perform certain acts (even like singing and dancing) ? When you meet a stranger at a party, you don’t ask him or her to sing or dance for you to get friendly. What it simply requires is a shake of hands and some decent and nice talking to know one another.

And even if one accepts this theory of ‘introduction’ to be true, why is it only the new-comer who has to perform for the senior ? Why not the other way round ? The basic logic is that, to be friendly, all that is needed is a decent conversation of introduction. And it is required both ways, not just by any juniors.

Ragging teaches the juniors to respect their seniors.

Respect ?!?! A human being should respect every other human being and even animals and plants. And special respect towards someone comes through admiration, not through fear.

A person is respected not because of merely his or her knowledge, intelligence or even experience but because of his or her wiseness. And how can a so-called ‘senior’ by virtue of entering an institute before a junior be entitled to respect ? Isn’t it absolutely absurd to expect respect from someone just because you got admitted to an institute before them ?

Ragging teaches the new-comers to be disciplined and get accustomed to the rules of the institute.

Another absurdity ! How can something disgraceful and illegal be a tool to inculcate discipline ? Moreover, if a person could not be disciplined through twelve years of schooling, how can he or she be disciplined by ragging ?

Also, if that were true, all those ‘seniors’ who harass their ‘juniors’ should have themselves been disciplined after they themselves were ragged as new-comers.

Ragging creates a bond between the ‘seniors’ and ‘juniors’ after which, the ‘seniors’ help the ‘juniors’ with their studies and their life in the institute.

I fail to understand how someone can bond with a person who abuses and harasses him. As for the several benefits the ‘juniors’ keep in mind while tolerating the harassment, isn’t it something ridiculous to think that a person would harass someone in order to help them later ? A helpful person would help others irrespective of their being ‘junior’ or ‘senior’ to them. Doesn’t this signify that the ‘seniors’ need to be pleased in their pervert acts in order to expect help from them ?

And how can any benefit be greater than one’s self respect. Are people so vary of doing their own work or studies that they depend on some pre-cooked benefits from their ‘seniors’ ? My batch at college didn’t have any ‘seniors’ (as we were the first batch) but still we got through with our studies and life at college without any problems.

Ragging helps to build confidence in new-comers to face a tough professional life in the future.

How abuse, degradation, humiliation, harassment and torture can build someone’s confidence is something that is beyond my imagination. This is one of the lousiest excuses put forth in favor of ragging. In fact, the menace of ragging is an evidence of the perverseness and sick mindset prevalent in our society.

As far as logic and psychology goes, ragging cannot be anything as per the above arguments. My take on it can be summarized as follows.

  1. Ragging presents itself as an opportunity to those individuals who never find anything about them to be appreciated by others (and hence, live in severe inferiority complex) to portray a false sense of superiority and an ego boost.
  2. Why should a whole batch of new-comers be collectively afraid of a bunch of so-called ‘seniors’ ? Yes, it is usually a handful of people from every batch who indulge in ragging.
  3. If one is confident of his or her own abilities, they don’t need to depend on any sort of help from any ‘senior’ that too in exchange of their self respect.
  4. No ‘senior’ has any moral or legal right to exert their superiority on a ‘junior’ in order to treat them as their personal slaves.
  5. Why can’t people be helpful and friendly irrespective of the other person being a ‘junior’ or a ‘senior’ ?
  6. Ragging is, in fact, an outlet of the hidden perverseness in certain people which they take out on diffident and scared new-comers.
  7. Instead of any benefits, ragging corrupts fresh minds by forcing them to indulge in activities which are not fit for any civilized society.

I hope this menace is weeded out from the society as soon as possible.

You can read my earlier post on the menace of ragging here.

Image courtesy : Google Images

Sunday, June 30, 2013

High Spirits...

Just the other day, during a cordial discussion with some colleagues, out of just plain curiosity I asked what it is that makes people want to drink (consume alcohol).

I didn’t know that my pretty harmless question would evolve into a considerably animated (and occasionally heated) argument. I had barely completed my question when someone made a statement – “A person who drinks has no character”.

Obviously, the debate intensified several notches after that comment as there were bound to be counter arguments for and against alcoholism, but my original question got lost in the process.

As far as logic goes, terms like addiction, dependence, etc. can be used to explain why a person tends to indulge in alcoholism on a regular basis. But I wonder what exactly is it that causes him or her to get addicted in the first place. What exactly does a person experience after consuming alcohol ?

As far as I’ve heard and known from common knowledge, alcohol gives a sense of being in an enhanced pleasurable state. Scientifically, alcohol intake acutely increases dopamine levels in the brain. So it is logical why some people turn towards alcohol when they are depressed. And it may also explain why some normal people consume alcohol when they want to experience even more pleasure, or maybe a state of euphoria.

Also, I don’t think a person’s character has much to do with what he or she consumes. Getting addicted to alcohol (or for that matter, even some other food or drink) may be related to a person’s will power or the lack of it. So, it is likely that a person gives in to the temptation to get on a high after consuming alcohol.

But the difference between getting addicted to alcohol and getting addicted to a McDonald’s burger is that one doesn’t lose his or her senses after consuming a delicious burger even though he may experience a sense of increased pleasure too.

A person may get a ‘kick’ after consuming whatever he or she likes. It may be a pizza, a chocolate, a coke, a dosa, a jalebi, a mango shake or whatever. And many times, certain food stuffs have their own adverse effects on the body. But what they don’t do is that they do not affect the person’s mental state (which alcohol notoriously does).

So isn’t it actually that deranged cognitive state (with decreased inhibitions and increased sense of pleasure) which people seek by consuming alcohol ?

I have even heard people talk of wanting to ‘try it once’ just for the sake of experiencing that strange cognitive state. Well, such a wish may be quite harmless if a person wants to try it out just once. I don’t think a single episode of alcohol intake will result in any serious medical effect on one’s body.

But people tend to forget that even a single episode of being ‘under the influence’ can have ever-lasting physical and social effects if the person is drunk beyond being capable of controlling his or her actions.   

If people wish to indulge in alcohol just to be in a false and pleasurable cognitive state, even if it destroys their body slowly, they should be free to do so as long as they don’t bother others by their actions or words.

But as far as I’m concerned, I have enough reasons to keep myself in a state of euphoria than to resort to methods that create a false sense of pleasure.

"We drink to each other's healths...
And spoil our own !!!"

Image courtesy : Google Images

Friday, May 31, 2013

To Cheat or Not to Cheat...

I wonder if you remember the following image where the incredible Mr. Bean is trying to copy answers from his neighbor in an exam.

Well, though I absolutely enjoy how Mr. Bean tried out several ingenious methods to copy during the exam, I’m forced to ponder about why people actually cheat. When I was still a kid, people resorted to cheating as a desperate measure to merely get themselves over the line. And I have been witness to some really bizarre methods that people employed in order to copy. Some resorted to helping themselves while a few lucky ones managed to peep into the neighboring candidate’s work.

But over the years, this practice has evolved into a tool not just to survive, but to excel in one’s field. From a distressed individual’s need, cheating has now become a mutual exercise between people wanting to out-rival others.

During my years in college, it was usual practice to find groups of students planning out an efficient method of mutual collaboration to get really good marks. Mind you, most of such students were extremely capable of performing well enough to land the top ranks by themselves.

I particularly remember the university exams during my first year of Masters. Within a few minutes of obtaining the question paper, I would invariably experience a sort of earthquake. The girl sitting right behind me would use her hands effectively enough to shake my chair to a point where I would be in danger of being floored. And if I would be late in responding to her demand for all the answers of the objective questions, she would then resort to use her legs in giving some hefty kicks to my chair.

Incidentally, the same girl topped our batch in that very year.

Though I never believed in copying answers from anyone, but I hold myself guilty for helping others out irrespective of their needs. I don’t know if it is due to my inability to say a ‘No’, but still, I would be considered a party to the offense.

I have had several heated arguments with my batch mates over the issue of copying during exams. Strangely, the more brilliant students were the ones who always argued in favor of cheating. According to them, if they didn’t cheat, they would be bettered by other brilliant students who also would have been cheating. But I always wonder if people aren’t actually cheating themselves by rejoicing at their false success ?

If people do not know, or choose to ignore their own shortcomings, how can they excel in whatever they do ? Don’t they overlook their own shortcomings instead of recognizing them and working on them ?

There was another incident I remember where one of my friends who didn’t believe in cheating had taken a clinical-ending test with his small batch of twenty odd students. Our professor was calling each student into her room to give out the answer sheets and talking to them. When my friend went in, the first thing she asked him was – “You didn’t cheat ?”

He was rather surprised by the question and replied in the negative. To which she said – “You are the only one who got a 12 in the objective part. Everyone else got 20 out of 20”.

It is not just in academics, but in almost every field that people try to cheat their way to success. It is a common sight in football matches to see players diving to the ground in acting their best to appear in pain. And then they happily accept a foul in their favor.

A few days back, the cricketer Virat Kohli was seen celebrating a half century after he had hit the ball for a boundary. But actually, he had been clearly caught just the ball before which the umpire couldn’t make out. Every person watching around the world knew the batsman was out. Yet, he celebrated his success which was in fact based on a cheated failure.

Just goes to show that people cheat for trying to fool the world. But the only person they are actually fooling is themselves.

Image courtesy : Google Images

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Health Wars...

So what do you do when you find out that someone you know has fallen sick ?

Well, this question becomes all the more important when you are in India. The very thought of going to a doctor may elicit a wince on anyone’s face. But you get all the more baffled when the patient decides to take the treatment into his own hands. In a country like India, there is no dearth of alternative treatments and providers of such medicines.

In India, there has been a constant war between modern medicine and traditional medicine like ‘Ayurveda’. The emergence of ‘Homeopathy’ has only added to the pre-existing confusion in the choice of treatment for a person. While it is obvious that each form of medicine has its benefits and losses, the near fanaticism some people have for or against a form of medicine is mind-boggling.

And once you throw in loonies like Ramdev into the picture, any sane person can be expected to tear out his hair in exasperation.

While ‘Ayurveda’ is well documented and officially taught as a medical discipline, it becomes a totally different recipe when people like Ramdev present it as a hodge-podge mixed with ‘Yoga’, religion and what not.

It has been known since long that ‘Yoga’ (when practiced correctly) helps in maintaining physical and mental fitness. Something that correlates with the primordial prevention of diseases (specially non-communicable diseases) as per the practice of modern medicine. Also, it is logical to expect the beneficial effects of some ‘Ayurvedic’ medicines (which are mostly prepared from herbs) as even many modern medicines are herbal products, like Quinine and Atropine.

But to expect ‘Yoga’ and ‘Ayurveda’ (and even ‘Homeopathy’) to actually ‘cure’ diseases like cancer, diabetes, thyroid disorders and AIDS is simply absurd. And that is what Ramdev has claimed to do quite often.

Cancers occur due to complex interaction of environmental and genetic factors. How can a certain body posture and breathing pattern (as in ‘Yoga’) affect the genetic changes that have already occurred in a person’s DNA ? Even modern medicine finds it tough to ‘cure’ most cancers except those solid tumors which are surgically resectable. Same goes for a disease like ‘Type-I diabetes’ which is due to an autoimmune destruction of Insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas. Modern medicine does not claim to ‘cure’ diabetes but aims to control the symptoms and prevent its complications.

The limits of absurdity are crossed when Ramdev claims to ‘cure’ AIDS too. Being a communicable disease which is caused by a virus entering into a person’s body, how does he expect his concoctions to strengthen the CD4 lymphocytes of the body to fight an attacking virus particle ? Can any form of ‘Yoga’ practiced by Ramdev ‘cure’ him of even ‘Malaria’ or ‘Dengue’ after an infective mosquito’s bite ?

Modern medicine has its limitations as drugs have adverse effects on some individuals who are genetically predisposed towards those effects. But medicinal drugs have scientifically proven mechanisms of action against the diseases and disorders they are used for. Whereas, people like Ramdev have no proof or logic to their claims except hearsay by their blind followers. And to further their agenda, they associate medicine with religion, language and nationality. Ramdev has often termed modern medicine as an invention of the British and had even demanded for higher medical education to be imparted in regional languages. I wrote about it then.

Sometime back, another of these frauds Asaram was seen to be advising pregnant women to drink cow’s urine if they wanted to undergo painless childbirth. Amazingly, these con-men have followers numbering hundreds of thousands. So it should be no surprise to find their methods of treatment to be so prevalent in the country.  

There are drawbacks in modern medicine most of which are more about faulty prescriptions and practices by the practitioners. But no form of alternative medicine can replace it in terms of emergencies. I won’t even mention surgical emergencies. But even in medical emergencies like cardiac failure, asthma, meningitis, shock and many more, one wouldn’t think of rushing to an ‘Ayurvedic’ or ‘Homeopathy’ practitioner. What one needs at such a time is emergency medical care.

No wonder Ramdev himself was rushed to the ICU of a hospital dealing in modern medicine when he collapsed after one of his fasts. Years of ‘Yoga’ practice could not help him endure the physical effects of a fast let alone help him recover.            

Alternative forms of medicine have their benefits specially as preventive measures. Even placebo effects may appear to be beneficial as in case of ‘Homeopathy’. But for non-surgical absolute cures, we will have to wait till the time ‘Nanomedicine’ makes its appearance in the medical world.

Image courtesy : Google Images

Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's a Boy Girl Thing...

Recently, while visiting my relatives in another town, I came across a rather strange situation. My sister-in-law (my younger cousin’s wife) suggested a visit to a nearby Mughal monument. But since my brother had taken the car to work, we had to manage on my sister-in-law’s two-wheeler for our ride. Having not ridden a two-wheeler in about ten years, and being an alien to the roads and traffic of another city, I preferred to ride pillion with my sister-in-law who is used to riding to work on her two-wheeler everyday.

Before, during and after our small journey, I came across many reactions from people who saw me riding pillion behind a girl. Right from the neighbors, the traffic policemen to the guy at the parking, people reacted as if they were highly amused at the scene.

Which makes me wonder, why is it considered so unusual for a female driving a male on a vehicle. Why is it so ingrained in our psyches (specially males) that it should always be the male to drive a vehicle while traveling with a female ? Is it just an ego issue ? If so, then why ?

Even during college days, it was a common sight to see dating couples zoom around on motorbikes. But I don’t recall seeing a guy riding pillion behind a girl, even though many of those girls were used to riding their own vehicles when alone. I guess they were too scared of being the laughing stock if they tried going against the ‘norm’.

Why are people stuck with stereotyping absolutely normal everyday tasks with gender ? I realized that we have been unconsciously promoting such stereotypes into people’s minds right from childhood.

For example, during our school days, both girls and boys were encouraged to participate in sports. While girls were quite active in sports like badminton, table-tennis, basketball and athletics, but when it came to sports like football and cricket, it was absolutely out of bounds for girls. And no one ever even dreamt of girls participating in boxing. But haven’t we heard of a certain multi-world-champion called Mary Kom ? Why shouldn’t schoolgirls be allowed to play football or cricket ?

And also, we never used to have any mixed doubles matches for badminton, tennis or table-tennis at school. Boys and girls were never allowed to consider that they can actually compete together against one another. Though one thing which I still remember about our school’s annual athletic meet was the absolutely exciting relay race in which each team used to comprise of four girls and four boys in alternate succession.

Why can’t girls compete in the same game against boys ? Agreed sports like football are high contact sports, but why not cricket ? Or for that matter, basketball, handball, volleyball or water-polo ? And I don’t mean a team of girls competing against a team of guys. But we can have teams comprising of both the genders competing against each other.

As the student in-charge and treasurer of our college sports society, I proposed such an idea during our annual sports fest. I suggested for a “Six-a-side” cricket competition in which each team would comprise of three girls and three boys. Amazingly, this idea was taken up like hot pancakes as participation poured in and we had an amazing and fun-filled day of cricket. I did tweak the rules of the game to make it a level playing field for girls. But it was pleasantly strange to see so many girls wanting to play cricket, something which they are usually denied right from childhood.

Strangely, most of my team-mates from the college cricket team gave it a miss. I came to know that they were very uneasy sharing a cricket field with girls. In other words, they felt too manly to compete with girls in something that is considered exclusively a men’s game. Maybe they were shy to hit a ball from a girl bowler or just too ashamed by the thought of being hit by a girl batswoman. But to their own surprise, most of the matches were closely contested with girls proving a handful for the boys.

Me, (in the blue pullover) clarifying the rules before our team's match

I feel that such a concept of mixed gender sports would actually help in discarding at least a few of the male-female stereotypes and would perhaps help in neutralizing the sense of ego that many males grow up with. If not those, at least such a concept would help curb the practice of sledging and misbehavior on the field.

Sports can be an effective tool to promote mutual respect between the two genders. Specially since stereotyping is probably the biggest hurdle in the path of achieving gender equality.

Image courtesy : Google Images

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Strawberry Crush... (Part 5)

It is highly advisable that you read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this story to follow the thread.

She sat on her bed, staring at the phone in her hand. She had tried to call him for the nth time in the past fifteen minutes, but without any luck. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. She had always dreamt so too. But it was turning out to be the saddest one. Finally, she decided to text him. But she had barely completed typing when suddenly the door burst open and in came her father.

She felt as if her heart had stopped beating. Her hands shivered uncontrollably as she felt the stare of his eyes. She could hardly breathe.

Her heart jumped into her throat as she was startled by a deafening shout in complete rage.


As if in a reflex, she lifted the shaking hand towards him. She almost let out a gasp as he snatched the device from her palm. She could sense him reading the contents of the screen.

“You are not to put a step out of this room without my permission !” Her father snapped. She felt too mortified even to look up into his eyes.

“DO YOU UNDERSTAND ?” He roared again.

She simply nodded her head while the man turned and slammed the door shut, locking it from outside. She looked up just as drops of tears rolled down her face. There was no hope now.

She sat quietly on her bed, clasping her knees close to her chest. She wondered what had gone wrong. How did her father know ? Did her Mom know too ? Nobody even cared to bring her lunch. What was going to happen to her ? She had decided she wouldn’t cry. But her eyes seemed to have a mind of their own.

It was late in the afternoon when she heard some sound outside her door. She quickly wiped off her face and dabbed at her eyes. She suddenly felt very emotional and vulnerable once she saw her friend Nancy walk in.

“Get up and get ready. Uncle asked me to take you to the bridal parlor. It’s getting late. We have to get you ready by seven.” Nancy exclaimed.

She had to make a great effort to register what her friend said. She tried to stand but her legs felt like wooden logs.

“I’ll just wash my face and come.” She replied before dragging herself towards the washroom.

Ten minutes later as she accompanied her friend through the corridor, she looked around for anything different. But everything was the same. People were running around for various errands. The house looked more decorated than ever. Music and the scent of flowers filled the atmosphere. But she couldn’t see her father anywhere around.

“Come on quick. Uncle has strictly instructed me to get you back as soon as possible. He looked kind of angry too. I wouldn’t want to upset him. Come on hurry…” Nancy pleaded as the two girls got into the big white car.

She looked out of the window as she saw various shades of life fly past. She had always wanted to go to America. And she was going to get married to a guy who lived there. She was going to experience what she had always dreamed of. But was she happy ?

She came back to her senses as she noticed Nancy pulling her out of the car and shoving her inside the door of the parlor. They were greeted by a short and well mannered lady.

“Hello. Please wait in the room backside. We’ll be right with you.”

“Go on. I’ll wait here for you. Just call me when you are ready.” Said Nancy as she shoved a bag into her hands and pushed her.

She had hardly shut the door behind her when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Startled, she turned around. She simply couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw him standing there with a slight smile on his face.

“You…??? here… ??”

“Yes.” He continued to smile.

“But…” she tried to speak.

“Do you trust me ?” He asked.


“Then come on.” He picked up her bag, held her hand and guided her towards another door on the opposite end of the room.

Before she could understand a thing, they were out on a backside street. She was still trying her best to think as he took her up to a parked car and got her seated in it.

“What… I mean… where did you get this car ?? What’s happening ?” She asked him frantically.

“We are eloping !” He looked at her, smiled and turned on the ignition.

She was almost numb to all sensations by the time she noticed that they were now driving on the highway. The city was behind them. She pinched herself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. And suddenly she realized she was breathing. Breathing in a strange sense of relief.

She was startled by the sound of a musical tone. And even more so as she realized that it was the ring-tone of her own phone. He pulled the phone out of his pocket handing it to her.

“Here. Your phone. Must be for you.”

And her eyes split wide in utmost horror as she saw the name on the screen.

“PAPA !!!” She screamed.

“Oh. Let me see”. He said taking the phone from her trembling hands. She watched in horror as he pushed the green button and put the device to his ear.

“Hello. Ah… Yes. She’s with me.” He said into the phone as she stared terrified. “Ok. Here…” He said again as he pushed the phone towards her. “He wants to talk to you.”

Her body shivering with mortal fear, she felt as if her heart would jump out of her body. Her throat was dry and her tongue had stuck to the base of her mouth. But, to her own shock, she managed to put the phone to her ear and say, “Papa…”

“Shuggy… ?” came a voice from the device.  “Are you okay ?”

She felt stunned for probably the hundredth time in a matter of hours. Her father hadn’t called her by his favorite nickname in years.

“Y… Yes…” She managed to whisper back.  

“Good. Though I knew you would be fine, I just called because I wanted to tell you something. Are you listening ?” He asked.

“Hmmm…” She managed to mumble.

“You know dear, thirty years ago, I faced the biggest test of my life. To fight for something that was more important to me than anything else. But back then, I failed myself as I didn’t have the courage to fight the world. Not even for the person who mattered the most to me. I backed off. And I think life tested me again today when I met a man who had the courage which I lacked in me thirty years ago. But I have learned my lesson well. Today I have the courage to fight the world for something that matters the most to me. And that is you !”

She listened on with tears rolling down her face, biting her lips not to let a sound escape.

“And I want to tell you that your papa is there to fight for you. You don’t have to worry for anything. And remember this… even if at times, your own decisions don’t work out well for you, I won’t stop supporting you just because they were your decisions. I’ll be there for you. Always…”

“Papa…” she sobbed hysterically.

“Shhhh… Listen up. You both will be getting married tomorrow. I’ve fixed up everything. Though I had to be discreet about it. Had to throw in a bit of drama. You know how it is. One has got to give it to the world the way they expect it. You just take care. Will you ?”

“Yes papa !” she replied.

“And you hadn’t eaten anything all day. There are some sandwiches for you in your bag. Have a nice meal at some good place once you reach. Ah, and I also sneaked in a couple of your chocolates. But share it with the young man too. Okay ?”

“Yes papa.” She looked across at him smiling at her and simultaneously laughed and cried in an emotion which only she could perceive.

She looked out at the sunflower fields across the road which looked more beautiful than ever in the late afternoon sunshine. This was going to be the happiest day of her life.

Image courtesy : Google Images

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Heavy Petting...

It is usually not for a long stretch of time when I manage to keep my relationship status at the ‘single’ mark. I’m almost always in a relationship (or even more) at any given time. Ummm… with animals, that is !

And my latest liaison started off in the beginning of November 2012 when a generous cat walked into our place with a pair of twins dangling from its mouth. No wonder, I was hooked instantly.

Befriending an animal is one of the most exciting and blissful experiences one can ever have. And with loads of such experiences throughout my life, this opportunity was no different. However, the cat made a disappearing act the very next day, never to return to check on the twins. Maybe she was satisfied that the little ones were in an appropriate place to be left to grow up. But it left me with complete freedom to take care of the kittens all by myself.

Though under most unfortunate circumstances, one of the kittens met with a fatal accident. This led me to be even more attached to the other little kitty.

Before long, we were literally inseparable (much to the helplessness of my Mom). And intelligent kitty having discovered the risks of possible evictions from the house after following me indoors, took to walking between my feet to evade any impending hostility. And during times when my feet were stationary, little kitty let no opportunity pass to rub itself on and around my feet. At times made me wonder if kitty had heard something awful about cat-skin and hence wanted to get it off by rubbing me frantically.

I wasn’t even spared a minute’s peace in the afternoon sun to sit and read. Repeated attempts were made to jump on to my lap (with simultaneous shrieks emerging from the direction of my Mom). But ultimately, the victory for both of us would end up as something like this.

At other times when kitty wanted to play, a stare from a distance was enough to give me the signal.

And after getting done with playing ball, getting kitty down from the top of the guava tree and having a quick snack of our favorite choco cookies, it would be time to relax in the winter-afternoon sun.

Even if I shifted base from outdoors to indoors, kitty would follow and sleep with me not more than a feet away.

I even managed to get kitty to be friends with the dogs outdoor (the ones whom I feed every night). It was a pity I couldn’t get a picture of myself standing with kitty and the dogs on my sides.

Friendship with an animal is one of the purest form of relationships. One doesn’t even need to talk to communicate with such a friend. The eyes are enough to convey whatever one wants to convey in a true relationship.

If only…


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