Maa…

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I had to write an essay about a person/character who had influenced me and I was thinking about all such people while shaving my beard. There were just too many things that I loved to do and likewise there are a lot of people who have influenced me throughout my life. In fact it would be really hard to point out that one person who had had more influence on me than anyone else.

My first passion, like most kids was astronomy. I read the stories of Galileo and the likes with much awe in school and whenever a teacher asked what I wanted to become when I grew up, I dutifully said “an astronomer”. Yes, I knew the difference between an astronaut and an astronomer; after all, I was the kid with more interest in telescopes than in football.

I was humming Gurdas Maan’s song Pind Diyan Galiyan while shaving. I paused when I reached this line:

Je Gurdas nu tu marjaana kehndi na,
Ni maaye meriye
Marjaane di bhora keemat pehndi na

This roughly translates to “If you had not rebuked me while I was a child, O mother, I wouldn’t have achieved all that I have”.
Could it be any more obvious – I asked my reflection in the mirror. There was no one who had had more influence on each aspect of my life than my mom. This probably is true for most other people. I still look up to her and reach out to her for the smallest of issues. The only thing that has changed over the years is that now she reaches out to me as well. And when she does that, I feel like Mom’s ‘Big Boy’.

Arey ruk ja rey bandey…

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Over the past month the various media have been ‘flooded’ with grim images of the destruction caused by floods in the Northern parts of India, particularly Uttarakhand. I was deeply shocked to see images of houses, roads and entire villages being consumed by the mighty Mandakini river. Although it was initially called a natural disaster; a major one at that; it was later dubbed as a man-made disaster by environmentalists caused by unchecked construction activities in the fragile young Himalayan mountains. Just today I saw a documentary on one of the very few decent news channels which made it even clearer how far man had breached the limits set for him by nature. Villages constructed on river beds, countless under-construction hydro power projects that vastly change and restrict the natural flow of rivers, exponential rise in the number of tourists and eventually pollution and unchecked deforestation – all in the name of ‘development’. It seems as if man almost forgot there existed a force which is much beyond his reach; a force that could only wait and watch for some time as man played with his limits. And then it showed him how minuscule and powerless he really is.

Shiva Statue
One of the most appalling images I saw was that of the imposing 15 feet tall Shiva statue at Rishikesh being submerged in the waters of the Ganga – the same Ganga that according to Hindu mythology emerged from Shiva’s tresses. It is silently symbolic of how Man had drowned himself in the havoc created by his own greed.

Arey ruk ja rey bandey
Arey tham ja rey bandey
Ke kudrat has padegi..

Samay ki laal aandhi
Woh kabristaan ke raste
Arey lat-pat chalegi..

Poetically Constipated!

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Dil Aaj Shayar Hai, Gham Aaj Nagma Hai

There are those times when I suddenly start feeling ‘poetic’, and well, sophisticated; that I just need to pick up a piece of paper and a pen (a roller ball) and the ink coming out fluidly from the pen’s nib onto the paper would become something nice and umm, poem-like; and that anybody reading would feel the same goosebumps and.. and..

That’s where it ends. I’ve longed to write poetry for too long now. But it just doesn’t happen. I’ve always enjoyed ghazals, I can marvel at good creations but I simply cannot write. It’s not that I haven’t tried. But whenever I try, I just feel at a loss for words. They just don’t come out. I am poetically constipated, so to say! I do try to write the ‘deep’ kind of posts, but alas, they aren’t poems. Poems make you look sophisticated. Prose; anyone can write prose. Sad, but true.

Dil Chahta Hai

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Dil Chahta Hai
Kabhi Na Beetein Chamkile Din
Dil Chahta Hai
Hum Na Rahein Kabhi Yaaron Ke Bin

I allowed myself to raise the volume higher than usual as I listened to this anthem of friendship by Shankar Ehsan & Loy. I closed my eyes to let the words sink in. I’d bought myself a new pair of headphones. I’d heard the song countless number of times. But today it seemed to have a different feel to it altogether. Well, they say that unless that happens, you can’t really say you bought a good pair.

I wondered whether it was just the headphones that had changed. Or was it the yaari-dosti of the past; which was now just a collection of vague images residing in some dark quaint location in the mind? A pebble had stirred the calm waters of the pond that was my mind; and images of fun and frolic bubbled up. I remembered one occasion when we were stuck in a traffic jam while travelling to India Gate. It was raining heavily and we’d all sung this song at the top of our voices in the car. The images of the silly antics, the uninhibited playfulness and the tiffs made me laugh.

Din Din Bhar Ho Pyaari Baatein
Jhoomein Shaamein Gaayein Raatein
Masti Mein Rahe Dooba Dooba Hamesha Samaa
Humko Raahon Mein Yun Hi Milti Rahein Khushiyan

That time had passed. It was not coming back. But strangely, I didn’t feel nostalgic. Maybe this is all that it was meant to be – a discreet pond of memories to be stirred occasionally in reminiscence.

Kaisa Ajab Yeh Safar Hai
Socho To Har Ek Hi Bekhabar Hai
Usko Jaana Kidhar Hai
Jo Waqt Aaye Jaane Kya Dikhaye..

The effervescence in the pond subsided as the song came to an end.

I’ll wait for some new puddles of water to collect. Maybe then I’ll buy an even better pair of headphones.

Adrak Vaali Chai

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“Cheers,” Aman and I said at the same time; smiling as we struck our cups of tea together raising a toast; almost spilling a few drops.
Koi ho.. Yaadon mein..
Palkon pe boondein liye,
Aaina bani yeh aankhein teri..
Mohit Chauhan’s ethereal song ‘Boondein’; from his Silk Route days; played on Aman’s speakers. The glass sliding door to the balcony was fully open. A swift cool breeze blew in through the door ruffling the clothes on the washing line. Monga Saab, as we fondly call Aman, makes some great Adrak vaali chai(ginger tea). We sat on the low narrow side table meant for show pieces; the hall being devoid of any furniture-a characteristic of a bachelor pad. The only utility of the hall was for playing cricket with a tennis ball.
The warmth of the tea, the cool sensation of the breeze and one of my favourite songs; a perfect start to the morning.
Bheeni si.. khushboo hai..
Havaon ke jhonkon ne jo,
Chhu ke tujhe chhudai..

When there’s a fork in the road!

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Life tends to lead you to situations when you need to make tough choices; when you need to choose between two very divergent paths. More often than not, one of these paths is the easier choice and the other is a more difficult one to tread.

While logic would propel you to take the easier path, it’s always the path less travelled that is more intriguing. It pulls you towards it, because there is a victory attached with taking the tougher choice and still coming out successful.

It fascinates you and you are drawn towards it.

Depending on whether you can convert your tough choice into success, your choice is said to be intelligent or foolish. But the experience is simply unmatched!

I was faced with such a situation a few months back. I took the road less travelled by, and it proved to be the right decision; although a tough one at the same time. Even if it hadn’t, I’d only have had myself to blame. But now I have only myself to credit as well!

Close Shave!

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Sometimes you have certain experiences in life which can give you goosebumps by their mere recollection. I had a similar experience today.

The weather has been really chilly for quite some days. The sun had shown some muscle over the dense fog only today.

I was sitting with my family in the verandah to enjoy the sunshine. The adjacent building is being constructed. I looked up and saw that the workers were putting up a column and were struggling with it. I cautioned the others that some brick or other construction materials might fall over us, so it’d be better if we moved in. But they didn’t quite pay much attention just then.

Then something strange happened. Without even giving a second thought about warning them again, I simply got up and moved towards the door. I had barely taken 3-4 steps; when I heard a loud crash behind me. A brick had fallen at the spot where I had been sitting!

It was a really close shave. I had escaped by a matter of seconds!

When I think about it in retrospect, I realise that some strange intution had driven me to get up and move away from the spot without warning the others again; as if I knew I was the only one in danger.

Was it a mere coincidence?