Archive for January 2006

One week, many events & some random musings

January 22, 2006

A lot happened in life last week, and the weekend was pretty much ok!

Monday to Wednesday – All work and no play (makes Surya a dull gal), also the reason for my sporadic blogging

Thursday was pretty much the same, except that it turned out to be freaky. I was thinking of a friend and guess what?! He messaged. That, just about made my day!! But to tell you, this telepathy seems to be a regular thing for me. On many occasions my telepathy works and on some it stops working though, you see its supposed to be like MTNL (sorry readers, bad one!)

Friday afternoon, visited the English Literary Association’s annual fest at my Junior College with a few friends and attended a reading of excerpts from Plays, Poetries and Prose on Mumbai. Am more in love with this city than ever. Was immensely touched by the documentary on late Shri. Arun Kolatkar. Also, felt bad that lots of Poets like him are simply forgotten. In the evening, was back to Vashi for some more work.

Saturday was very eventful. Attended KWIZ KATS, an All India Quiz competition conducted by HDFC Bank.
– Subject – All about Banks and Banking
– Participants – HDFC staff from all over Mumbai – total 63 teams

Good points about the quiz:
– Some interesting rounds introduced this year and I liked their points system.
– Real tough and high quality questions both in elims as well the finals (so said many quizzers)

Here are a few questions:(you may scroll down to read the rest of the post if you aint interested)
1) What does ‘Cigar Butt Hunting’ mean in stock markets?
2) What is the ceiling for NRE FD rates laid down by RBI?
3) Ramesh Gelli was the promoter and former CEO of Global Trust Bank (GTB), which was placed under moratorium by the Reserve Bank of India last week, and subsequently merged with the Oriental Bank of Commerce. Which private sector’s bank CEO was Mr Gelli before he started GTB?
4) ‘Bad money drives out good money.’ This is true in several aspects of life; but nowhere is its significance felt as much as in the banking industry. This saying is known as….
5) In a bank vault in Atlanta in the US, a piece of paper that has the formula for a product has been stashed away for close to a century now. The vault can be opened only after approval by the board of directors of the company. Only two employees are aware of the formula at any time. Name the product?
– Arshad Mervan – their Mumbai head, is a great Quiz master
– My favourite team, won the Mumbai level, featuring – Anjan Bhattacharjee, Chinmoy Basu, Kaisad Kalidwala and Vaijayanthi Vijay (also, happens to be sister dearest, now you know why I am being partial to them) But like all quiz one-liners go, ‘the competition was indeed stiff!’ and the suspense of ‘who will make it?’ was maddening which is what I love about most quizzes. Until, the nth minute the scores were so close, that it could have been anybody’s game. But, they won….YIPIEE!!
My (very biased) take on it – When a team comprises of two (stud) Bongs and a Southie lovely lassie (Ok! Kaizad, I won’t leave you out) you must not expect the results to be otherwise.
Bad points about the quiz:
– Questions thrown at the audience were very tough (no, they really were)
– Extremely poor Graphics – am sorry to say this, you guys have to go a long way (After being part of Armageddon you dont tend to like the Graphics anywhere else, I guess)
– No food served

Then, I managed to go to Strand. Bought books which are quite un-put-down-able:

Tender is the night – Scott Fitzgerald
Look back in anger – John Osborne
(Moi thinks, he’s one of the best play writers)

Poems & The Orators – W.H. Auden (my second love, after Plath of course!)
Turn That Down! – Lewis Grossberger, featuring Elvis Presley & Jim Morrison(sure, will be a great book)
The Myth of Sisyphus – Albert Camus (suggested by this guy, couldn’t find Bell Jar….boohoo 😦 😦 )
Fury – Salman Rushdie (have read it twice, plans for a third time – just love him. What is best about him is that all his protagonists are always himself, all of them are bound by a few common traits, the insider outsider dilemma, the mental ‘baggage’, irreverend, dangerously intelligent and very very clueless.
An Equal Music – Vikram Seth (One of the best Indian writers)
With just these under my belt, I was already running out of cash. So, had to grab an Isaac Asimov and Tolkien for bro, as promised (Just hate the kinda books the little boy reads)
Currently reading – Theatre by Maugham
Planning to read (next in line) – May you be the mother of 100 sons by Bumiller, The Golden Gate.

Then, met up a JC friend, went with her to Bombay Meri Jaan, a great collection and for those who plan to explore the real Bombay, the best guide perhaps. Decided to eat at Samovar…yumm Parathas (psst! the Paratha festival is on) there is mutton to strawberries in the filling. I recommended the Gajar ka Paratha, service as always with smile and not the artificial type one, though. Then boozed(quite unplanned) at Leopold’s – famous for Beer (so they say, I hate Beer thus, no idea)
Watched Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi for the first time….brilliant characters….fell in love with the character of Vikram….very bourgeoisie but loves Geeta till the end unlike Sidharth (kaykay) who is Idealist and loves Geeta as per his convenience….Great movie!

Sunday mornings are the best always, coz daddy is at home, so I can catch up with his life as well (given his busy schedule, we hardly get to talk on week days). Generally, lazed around and watched Pakistan rattling up a huge 588 built around Shahid Afridi’s knock of 156 (his career best) and Dravid’s resolute knock of 46 until they called it a day, at Faislabad.

Then, visited my Grad College – A place where everyone except me feels nostalgic, not that I don’t have good reminiscences of BMS but, I also carry in my heart some very bad memories, ones which overshadow the good ones. Met some and many juniors….Indulged in few friendly banters, had a look at the proceedings of a fest called Crescente which is coming up soon and almost relived experiences that I had during Armageddon’05 in room 302 (more about that, in a future post)

Oh, BTW, just about managed to write one more poem, a very short one, here goes….

why…
why does death
loom so large
in my poetry?
Is it your dreams
that come to me
tonight, dressed
in the finest
whitest shrouds?

(ps: puff!….pant!!…that was a looooooooooong post)

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The Blind Man’s Buff

January 4, 2006
Come twilight, a handkerchief is tied around your eyes to blind-fold, some ten odd hands touch your shoulders helping you swivel several times. Fingers rise up randomly before you with questions like, “is this one?…or two?…how much is this?…etc”, this being the test to make sure that you cannot see through the smallest puncture in the cloth, if any. The next thing, you are ushered to the center of the playground and so begins this amusement game. One, that we all played as 8-year-olds in the backyard, as 15-year-olds in school and even as 21-year-olds in sociable get-togethers. Some call it ‘The Blind man’s buff’ others name it just ‘blind-fold.’ The excitement of the sport is the anxiety in the minds of the players as to who would get caught or for a start, will someone get caught at all or not. This excitement may eventually die down and the game may transpire into a rather boring one given the fact that monotony continues minute after minute, hour after hour. Then, its time to call the shots for a change of sport or to call it a day.

But imagine a situation where you were given a choice to play it for a lifetime. Would you play on? Now, let me rephrase that and say – suppose, there isn’t a choice at all, and it is imposed on you, then what would you do?

I know of a certain girl (one of my closest friend) who has played this game for 21 years now. She has to play it each day and every night. She’s still playing and perhaps will continue for a lifetime. But mark some aspects here. There is no handkerchief tied around her eyes. There are no playmates, no playgrounds, and no get-togethers. There is no excitement, no fun. Most of all, its no game for her, it’s a way of life.

Yes, you have figured it just right! She is visually impaired and not minutely, acutely, or partially. She’s entirely sightless right since the day she was out from her mother’s womb. This means she cannot see a thing. She cannot see the blue sky that blankets the earth. She can neither view the rising Sun nor soothe her eyes to a full moon’s night. She cannot (like the other girls) look at herself in the mirror and admire her beauty while getting decked up for a party. She cannot awe at the guy in her college who happens to be her latest or next crush. She cannot admire the flowers with which her mother adorns her drawing room’s center table. She cannot for once, look at the gossamer dress she wears and feel proud about how she looks. No, she cannot see colours, rainbows, shadows, meadows, rivers….and all those beautiful beings and their belongings that exist in this mortal world. She lives in a world of her own where every other being/thing is yet another imagination of her mind. Put in simple words, she does not know what it means TO SEE.
The first time I met her was back in the year 2002, when I was in standard 12th and she, a junior was one of the many participants in a popular show, which I was hosting at the English Literary Association (ELA) of our college. To cut a long story short, she won some prize (I don’t clearly remember what) and after the show, I met her amongst other participants back stage. What ensued was a rather brief conversation:

Me: hi, am surya….congrats! You did well on stage. Hope to see you again sometime.
She: hey, surya. Thanks!
Little did I know then, that what I said would actually come true one fine day as it happened two years later in 2004, during my second year in BMS. It was the eve of the fresher’s party and like all second year students we had hosted a not-so-great-party for the new comers (first years). That’s when I spotted her amongst the crowd, walked upto her, addressed her to say, “hey, guess who?” Confident that she wouldn’t guess, I took fun in the usual suspense that one creates in a friendly banter. She sure took a minute, but replied with crystal confidence, “Surya from ELA, right?” I would have pinched my self a dozen times before I realized that I wasn’t dreaming. I was left speechless.

What commenced with the shortest conversation has transpired into an intimate friendship over the years. Now that I have known her so well, I know what it means when they say – ‘life is a struggle’ because for her, life is indeed a struggle in the true sense of the word and in its complete version. But the same word – STRUGGLE is the one that’s actually almost invisible while one gets to know/see her. The reason being, she may seem like any other ordinary individual and from her conduct or mannerisms nobody on this earth would guess of her visual impairment. She does all her work right from making her morning breakfast to her classroom power-point presentations, by herself. She knows for sure what coloured dupatta would go with her salwar suit, or which shade of lipstick goes with her t-shirt. She would seem like just another girl amongst the crowd (and one cannot know of her sightlessness) unless one observes her vigilantly. Cheerful, confident and shrewd are some of the best adjectives that I can possibly use for her. A consistent topper in college, an excellent orator, an M.A in classical music, at the age of 21….she comes to me as one of those people who symbolizes power and ecstasy.

One thing that I infer after knowing her inside out is that, for people like her, Self-confidence perhaps is the most integral part of their personalities. While she ignores people who take uninvited pity at her plight and extend a helping hand, some incidents in life may take a toll on her confidence level. One such event occurred last week that shook the very foundations of her self-confidence. It was this camp called ‘training for the visually impaired’ conducted by an NGO of some sort in Mumbai. Though she has always been reluctant to attending such camps, she had to succumb to the pressure of her parents this time and ultimately attend it. The training was rather depressing as for the first time, she was asked to hold a cane as support to walk, she was being directed for every petty movement of hers (in spite of assuring the volunteers several times that she can do her work all by herself) and those compassionate words with a seemingly sugar-coated accent of the instructors/volunteers at the camp, are still torturing her just as a nightmare. For a girl who has always walked on the streets with the support of her friends, and for one who has never been to a blind school or college in her entire life, this camp came as a de-motivating one – One that has a long, wicked index finger constantly pointing out to the hard reality of her life. The questions that she threw at me after her return from the four-day traumatic camp left me stumped. “What is the primary purpose of an NGO? Don’t they exist to make lives of the likes of me, better? Why then do they conduct such camps at all, when it’s so depressing?” I don’t know how to respond to this, because whilst these NGOs are correct (in a way) by training them to perform day-to-day chores, they also either avoid the psychological part of their lives or indulge into extensive motivational speeches a la ‘You can win’ by Shiv Khera, which is even more disheartening to listen to. I guess the only way out is – DO NOT term them ‘special’, DO NOT take unwanted pity, treat them as one amongst the rest. According to me, if given the right kind of exposure, then blind schools/camps can be completely done with. Am not implying an anti-NGOs-for-the-blind kind of an opinion. But if they can be avoided, the Blind Man’s Buff becomes a not-so-rough game to play, until life ceases.

HOppy New Year!

January 1, 2006

I will always cherish 2005, as the year that brought with it blossoms of the blogger in me…
Thanks one & all for lending an ear to the ‘Call of the mystic’
Hope we all ‘hOp’ into days which turn to be merrier than ever before…..
here’s to 2006
cheers!!
(ps: My new year song – “lose control….be a Rebel….apni toh paathshala…” – Rang de Basanti)