Sunday, February 4, 2018

Darpan

"Next station is Karol Bagh. Doors will open on the left. Please mind the gap."

Nirmala got her back upright and her ears alert, to listen to the announcement in Delhi Metro. She didn't blink till the announcement ended, and stared in concentration. Anything important can't be missed, she told herself. Hundreds of people around her, though, were not bothered. For them, it was mundane. Metro had been their lifeline, as roads were increasingly getting clogged in the rush hours. For Nirmala, it was the first time aboard the modern commute. She had to ask four persons to confirm if she was going to the right platform. Someone else had to tell her how to use the token at entry gate. Even when she was in the metro, she was restlessly looking at the station map and was observing how commuters deboarded at stations.

Nirmala was 53 now. The wrinkles on her cheeks and forehead were a testimony to that. Someone had offered her a reserved seat for elderly persons. She accepted the seat, but her mind was still accepting the new environment she was in. The middle-aged lady sitting next to her had boarded at the same platform. She looked as worried as Nirmala did, and looked around with unsettled eyes- like a pigeon among cats. The metro, oblivious of it all, ran like clockwork.

A group of young girls boarded the metro at Rajiv Chowk station. A few of them stood in a  circle- chirping and laughing. A couple of them just stood alone, resting their backs against the walls of compartment and looking away pensively. The commuters were stealing glances at the girls, most of them were judging them for their fashion sense-; they wore skirts, or leggings or shorts, or rugged jeans, complemented by crop tops. The middle-aged lady sitting next to Nirmala, was among the ones who were judging.
"These girls only show skin to seek attention", she thought. "I would never let my daughter wear this.".

Nirmala's 53-year old mind thought the otherwise. A sense of guilt underlined her thoughts. " I wish I had not suppressed what my daughter wanted to do. These girls were blessed to have been given the liberty to live their lives. Their confidence speaks through their faces."

The middle-aged lady's thoughts, meanwhile, continued on the same track. "These girls, I have heard, don't think twice before sleeping with anyone. Characterless, their clothes reek of characterlessness. I am happy my daughter is not spoiled in the lure of becoming modern. I won't ever let her go for MBA She did well in written and that's it. Girls are not meant to be sent away before marriage, they need to learn household chores for their in-laws. Good marks in written doesn't mean she has a licence from my side to get spoiled. No. Never."

Nirmala's lenses saw a different world. "My daughter wanted to do something big. She was always academically brilliant. In her class, her thoughts were most modern. At every point of her life, I stifled her choices and wishes. Like a highway with many exits, everytime she wanted to run free through the highway, I told her to chose the smaller exit leading to service lanes.
She wanted to go to USA. She wanted to do MBA. she wanted to wear smart clothes. Her dreams could have taken off, had I seen things like I see now. Mistha, the less brilliant girl in her class, got freedom to fly from her parents and is now a successful career woman. And my daughter is now another Indian housewife. Sigh!".


The two set of different opinions ran adjacent in the heads of Nirmala and the lady next to her.
One had guilt, the other had bias.
One came from a 53 year old, the other from a 38 year old.
Both were triggered by a mirror they saw in those young girls for their daughter.
Both saw a different reflection.


 The station came for Nirmala to deboard. When she got up, she saw the seat besides her was vacant. The other lady was gone. Perhaps, she had never been there. Her past spoke to her, sitting right next to her, whispering in her ears. She knew she had changed. But it was too late.

The metro moved on. It had moved on..

Monday, July 25, 2016

Facts and fads




 Most of the stories that occupy the lion’s share of front page across the leading newspapers gradually push into the lesser-read middle pages, then turn into a few voices and eventually slip into oblivion. The frenzied social media acts in a similar way, trolling and mocking media events in multiple ways, until a new obsession catches public eye. How relevant is all this noise, if it leads to nothing. How illusionary are the promises which never materialize into action and die down with the voices of social and mainstream media.

The thought might sound impractical at first, as not all news are meant to fit into the first page forever, not all things hold significance for long, not many trends are anything more than fad. Even then, at the risk of sounding irrational, it amazes me the fall from pedestal of innumerable stories and people, day-in and day-out.

it is amazing how every such issue is blown out of proportion,  dissected and sliced by opinionated men and women in print, discussed ( or shouted?) in prime time shows, taken to a different level by the memes and twitterrati, and turned into an altogether different issue-colored with communal, religious and often sensitive views. The political parties chip in to make most of the issue for mud-slinging at opposition camps. The opportunistic leverage it as the stage to hog limelight. The output is a distorted version of truth, far away from facts-wrapped in shroud of machinations and pretense.

‘Little knowledge is a dangerous thing’- a clich├ęd phrase plays its part. Opinions start coming from those who don’t understand the issue, from those who hold biases, from those who borrow opinions, from extremists, and the sound of intelligent opinion dies down under all this din, unheard and buried under millions of colored and irrelevant voices.

In this age of half-truth, what do we believe in? Which fad is an actual issue, and to which degree? Who is right and who is wrong? As the channels of opinions increase and the era of fads rolls on, one wonders if his own opinion is a painted one.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tea : A short story

A tea-vendor poured tea in six small glasses in a manner which told that he had been doing it for a long time. He looked the kind of person who would help the visitors find their way around, with an aid of clear illustrative hand directions-a skill that someone hones when he has snugged the tendrils of winters in the area,  drenched in its unseasonal rains and sweated facing its sweltering heat wave. He would be knowing the local people around, often greeting them as they told their stories. Being an ear to them, when they wanted to vent out their workplace problems. Being an advisor to them, when they would want need one. He would be knowing people by eyes, smiles, voices, stories, names, and the sugar in their teas.

His life happened as clockwork. A glance up from his boiling tea and the world was a familiar story with a set of new actors. A swarm of cycle rickshaws eased their way through the mad rush of the road. A young couple blushed: reddened cheeks, gaudy clothes and eyes that tried to escape the sight of any familiar face in the crowd. A papad hawker tried to overpower the voice of the other papad hawker, with a one-liner pitch that evoked amusement. A scooter whirred, carrying a four member family on its old shoulders. A bunch of noisy school kids laughed on their way back home. Street-dogs stood outside the chicken shop, setting sight on the bones like an eagle looming on its prey, ready to swoop down at the right moment. A bunch of men sized up women at the bus-stand, their intentions no different than the dogs.

The tea vendor knew them all. The people kept changing. The story, like the taste of his tea, remained constant.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How Microsoft has impacted my life and how I plan to bring a change to the society being a Microsoft Student Associate


“What makes a brand impactful for my life?” I ask myself.
And then my brain set out on a journey to answer this basic question. Here is how my thought process flew.

Growing up with Microsoft

I grew up in an age when the internet revolution was picking up. As a child, it was always exciting to get my hands on a device called ‘computer’- an entry to the magical and uncharted world where we could play games that gave adrenaline rush and search for anything under the sky on the internet. I looked at it with wonderment, always wanting to know the endless sea that internet was. As I write this, we are living in a world where smartphones have pervaded the lives of millions of people on the planet. My generation has straddled these two extreme times-the one of books and the other of Kindle. This transition has been at an astounding pace-so astounding that only the best of the brands have been the leaders of this revolution. The brand that has been most impactful for my generation has to be the one that led this revolution of change .And for me, the most prominent brand that has built bridges of change at this astonishing pace has been Microsoft.


Switching on the PC, the screen glowed up with a background of blue and a colourful windows 98 logo. As a child, I didn’t know what it was exactly and what an OS is generally. But I knew that this picture of kite-like four colours meant my computer had started up and I was seconds away from the world of entertainment. Windows has evolved from that time, changing from 98 to 2000 to XP to Vista to Windows 7 to the latest stylish and young Windows 8(Wow!) We have grown up with the Windows and it has changed as per the world. Yet even today when I log on to my PC, I know that on the other side of that Windows Start Up screen is a world which will make my eyes open up like child-like wonder.


Signs of an impactful brand? It won’t just be an entry to an amazing world. But  a lot more beyond it!


So, when I reach the other side of the Windows Screen, Microsoft is in every corner of my life. If I have to talk to my home from my Engineering hostel, Skype puts its hand up and does the job perfectly. If I have to dive in the endless ocean of knowledge, Explorer takes me along-making me feel important by considering my customized preferences. If I have to scribble for fun, Paint awaits me. And in my B-school life, Microsoft Office has been one loyal friend who puts a hand around your shoulder and says “Chill mate, I am here, like I have always been”.
From the world of business when I wander across to the fields of entertainment, Microsoft X-Box has all the answers. It remains my wish to have a room with X-Box and an Ikea couch with a leg rest. So, away from the past and the present, I am sure even future wishes to walk alongside Microsoft as it builds bridges to embrace and create every change that makes our life simple. How more can a brand impact one’s life?

If I get to be one of the coveted Microsoft Student Associates, I would get to be a part of the change. Ever since logging on to a Windows 98 System, I have been a tech enthusiast. I love to promote my own cricket blog (here) on various social media platforms and like a number devouring statistician, analyze the Blog Analytics to bring change. I like to keep a finger on the pulse when it comes to the rapidly evolving technology. My summer internship in the growing field of Digital Marketing for a leading matrimonial company honed my skills and helped me learn something I wanted to –‘Technology’. As an MSA, I look forward to take this passion for technology to another level. Interacting with similar tech freaks across the country will be an experience in itself. I will love learning the nuances of the best technology practices at various conferences.  I have worked with an NGO dealing with intellectual disability and it was one of the most moving experiences I had which motivated me to do something for the society. In that short stint, I learnt how much courage it takes to be them. The world around them makes them feel ‘disabled’ yet they find a way to be happy and comfortable in their own skin. As MSA, being part of numerous activities impacting society as a representative of Microsoft will be both an honour and a matter of pride for me.

This is an opportunity for me to be better than what I am today. A version 2.0 of myself. I wish to be a part of this community to be part of the revolution driver of the world, a place where I contribute and learn the nitty-gritty of the fields that I am passionate for –Technology and Social Cause.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Tale of Corners

A Tale of corners


The room juxtaposed a dark and a lit corner. A gleam of sunlight made its way through the half-open window stealthily. Some shackles seemed to have broken. They kissed one corner of this room, as if a mother had met her son after long. The sun glinted on the other half of the window. Like a father wanting his other son to do as well, it tried to pierce the half-window to let its rays in. But the rays waited at the window every day until the dusk set in. 

It had always been like this.  The dark corner had always been dark. The lit one always lit. A whiff of arrogance drifted from one corner to other. The gloomy brother had not come to terms with its life. It was difficult to do so. Very difficult. 

It is easier to live in misery. But it is difficult living in misery with a blissful person. All the things you lack are at other’s disposal, making you feel more vulnerable and wretched. You watch all the happiness you want so closely but it belongs to someone else. So close and yet so far.

The dark corner was living on a hope. A hope that on some propitious day, the wind 
would shove the other half of window and the sunlight would never be biased again. It would be as fortunate as its brother corner. A thirst that has kept it parched for years, will be quenched. 

The thought kept it sad and wishful. Its days went by in anticipation. It protected a 
dream. A dream it believed would change its identity. It won’t anymore be a dark 
corner. But all things are not meant to end the way they sound good. That day never 
was in script. One fateful day, a gigantic bulldozer razed the building. Razed the room and its corners. The wreckage lay scattered, much like the dreams of the dark corner. 

Succumbed to its fate, the rubble lay submitted. Perhaps, the dream it saw should not 
have been harbored. It should have accepted the way things were scripted. It would 
have lived sans the sunlight but happy and content. Content - that not all corners get 
the heavenly kiss of sun. Content-that not all corners can be lit. But it lived on a dream, at the whim of hope. The hope crashed, so did the dream. 



Next morning, the sun lit the spot brightly on the debris. The spot that till yesterday belonged to the dark corner… 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mumbai



There is a rush in the way things happen here. A mad rush. Purposeful or not, but mad.

 There is a spring in the step of people moving around. An urgency in the way fleet of autos clog the roads. An uncanny haste in the way the hawkers make Vada Pao. And all this show goes on, drenched against the background of rain. And, it only makes literary wisdom to do a course like MBA which shares its traits with the way city moves. Time here, they say, is precious.

The wide expanse of Arabian waters at Marine Drive keeps you astonished. The expanse is prevailing yet peaceful. In some tumultuous hours, they can wash away lives with impunity. Yet, it is peaceful to sit by them and watch the waves ebb and flow. Astoundingly scary yet spiritually serene. This city sleeps late into the night and wakes up early. Houses here look dilapidated from outside, but there are luxury cars and sedans parked outside. An umbrella is as necessary a utility as a mobile phone.

An unknown cloak covers this city. From the deepest corners of heart, strings of Delhi hold me. It has a smell of my childhood that pervades through my growing years. Yet   each day, I fail to crack this puzzle called Mumbai. It is a strange city-where people find peace in rush.

I am a laidback Delhi guy who loves to sit back as the world rushes by. I take my own time. But when I wake up every morning, I realize one needs to walk brisk or else, like the locals, life runs by.

 There is a rush in the way things happen here. A mad rush. Purposeful or not, but mad.





Sunday, January 13, 2013

Words of silence: True story


The other day, while on a local bus, I realized a thing.

It was just another scorching summer day in Delhi. After waiting for over 15 minutes for a not-so-frequent bus service, I felt blessed to have got a seat at least. Beside me, a man made frantic gestures with the hand communicating with another man sitting in front of him. I instantly knew he couldn't speak sadly. I moved to a seat in the adjacent row to observe him. He used a zillion hand movements, some amusingly colourful and some plain-to convey all that for which we need words. I could see the eyes -flinching, opening up, stern, relaxed-all set that one could do with them. The man in front of him acknowledged and occasionally retaliated with little gestures. He seemed like describing an event which he narrated as smoothly as we speak with the crutch of words. I was simply in awe with how expressive a person can get without uttering a single word. I didn't get a slight drift of what the story was but I knew the description was vivid and full of life. I found myself an some others staring at him at times, in amazement. It is that time when you realize how lucky you are to be blessed to have speech. And no matter how many such movies you see , you realize the awe when such special expressive people confront you in real time. After a while, he signaled the other one for destination station and left the bus. He left me with a thought: Do we need words to express. No, I guess.Sometimes, silence can speak and speak better..