Saturday, February 28, 2009

The People I Will Miss - Chapter Two

I said I would write separately about my past and present colleagues and what I will miss about each of them, because the first post was rather long as it stands. But I think that if I try to fit all these people into this one post, it will be a little too long. So I'll break it up. I'll put down my musings about the friends I normally have lunch with. I'll save the others for another post.

I know I'll break down into tears if I start talking about Bhavna and how much I am going to miss her, but she's the one I have to talk about in order to begin this article. She became part of the company and the team just a little over a month after I did. She was the second person in the team, after Rachita, with whom I became friends. She's one of the sweetest, most clear hearted people on the planet. She has her weird sense of humour and her signature style of PJs which is simply amusing at times, and rather endearing at others.

Then there's Chaya. The most practical and sensible girl I've ever come across. Whenever I've felt low, I've often found solace in her cubicle. Either I'd go and listen to her jokes or her anecdotes, or if she wasn't around, I'd just go sit there and hug one of her soft toys for a while. She has quite a collection of those. No penguins sitting around in her cubicle, though, in spite of her legendary love for them. She keeps them safe from the likes of Akash and Bhatti, who are often on the lookout for soft toys they can torture.

Which brings me to Akash. He used to be on the lookout for opportunities to irritate me and would jump at the slightest hint of such an opportunity. But he was also the peacemaker of the group. He'd calm me down every time I was agitated with someone (or something). We'd randomly go to Spice Mall for hot chocolate fudge. Those few outings were very special to me.

And as for Bhatti, he is one of the few people who were part of my immediate team and whom I never really got to work with. But, being immediate cubicle neighbours, I got to know him pretty well. I got to hear his random drumming on the desk at various points of time during the day. I got to see him clutter his cubicle with all kinds of VxWorks boards and hand over random components to me to hit Akash or Abhinav with. I got to see his priceless facial expressions at just about everything under the sun. Once I also had the privilege of hearing such an expression. I am sure that neither Akash nor I will ever forget that. I am also forever indebted to him for encouraging me to start a blog. The extent of the consequences of this event are way more significant than what I have ever shared with any of my friends, and there are reasons for that which I have kept mostly to myself. I will certainly share those thoughts with some close friends before I leave the company.

This brings me to Abhinav. He was the first guy in the team with whom I felt comfortable enough to discuss just about anything. He's one moody guy, but mostly he's been a very good friend to me.

Then there's Sandy. We always enjoy pulling his leg at the lunch table, what with him being the most excruciatingly slow eater on the planet, and also, being the only married member of the group. I'll certainly miss that. I'll also miss Sumit's brilliant jokes at the lunch table.

I don't think I'll find another girl like Neha, who fasts at the slightest provocation. Who is this really adorable, innocent girl who still looks like a school girl. Oh, and did I mention how polite she is? It's rather hard to imagine how someone can be like that in this day and age, and in this city. But it's true. I've never seen anyone quite like her. And of course, she's one person who's almost always smiling (unless Abhinav and/or Alok are doing something to irritate her) and who laughs at the smallest trigger, and laughs uncontrollably at regular triggers which cause normal people to laugh as well.

I guess that leaves only Namrata. A woman of few words, but it's always interesting to listen to her talking. She's known as the logic woman at our lunch table. She'll always come up with an interesting logical explanation for the weirdest of things.

I hope I didn't miss out anybody here. Up next: a post on the people outside of the lunch group.

The People I Will Miss - Chapter One

There are lots of people and lots of things I will miss when I move to Boston. These are just some of them.

I am sort of used to missing Aditi and Sumit by now, but being in Delhi still gives me the opportunity to reminisce each time I visit places that we used to frequent together. And of course, since their families are still in Delhi, whenever they visit home, I would have been able to visit them too. I guess I'll need to plan a vacation to Melbourne some time.

Then there is Shashank, another good friend from school. He's been in Hyderabad for four and a half years now. I did plan a vacation to Hyderabad three years back, so that I could visit him. And I see him every time he comes home to Delhi, except four weeks ago when he wanted to spring a surprise on me by suddenly showing up in Delhi, and I was on my way to Manali. He has a very typical way of saying "hello" whenever he gives me a call, and it is pretty amusing and endearing at the same time.

Then there is the gang from St Stephen's. The six of us - Aarti, Anuradha, Kavita, Ruchi, Tanu and yours truly, find in each other a strong support system, a way of sharing whatever needs to be shared - worries, concerns, joy, jubilation, excitement, fear, nervousness, you name it. We've been through the process of finding ourselves a career path, finding ourselves guys, getting engaged or having our heart broken, and in Tanu's case, getting married, all with the other five girls standing by our sides. Right now, Kavita is in the States herself. We all keep in touch pretty regularly through e-mail, so Kavita says she doesn't really feel the distance so much. I find a lot of consolation in that. I also find consolation in the fact that, at least for the first few months, she will be about a six-hour drive away. But I will really miss the rest of the gang, especially Ruchi, who's been with me through my MCA, my internship, and, more recently, has taken up work in the same office.

Then there's Varun. It's been a little less than six months that he took up work at the same office as me. We've actually known each other for about four and a half years now, and we were always friendly with each other. But when we started carpooling, I started sharing almost everything with him, because for about four months, it was just the two of us in the car. I've discovered that he's a guy who can give even a girl like me (who tends to be rather unstable emotionally) a very objective and reasonable perspective on a lot of things. He's a guy who can cheer me up on the worst of days with his jokes that a lot of people classify as PJs but I tend to like.

Then there are the other friends whom I've known from my MCA years. There's Neeraj, with whom I worked on the Placement Co-ordination Committee and the Technical Festival Organising Committee. In the process, I learnt a lot from him about the need to have principles and stick to them. I also admire his commitment towards everything he does, and I am also trying to learn that. He's also been a great source of advice on personal matters. I think that it's great, the way he can analyse the most complicated issues objectively and impart useful advice. Then there's Tulika, who's been a great friend to me, especially through some tough phases in my life. And of course, Rajesh, who showed me that even if one person wants to change something drastically, and is strong willed and determined, he can do it.

As for my present and past teammates, I will do a separate post on the subject.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rahman At The Academy Awards: My Two Cents

In case you wanted to ask why I didn't write anything last night, I was watching the repeat telecast of the Academy Awards until about one in the morning and then I felt the need to take a bath and go to sleep.

Obviously I already knew the outcome, but I still wanted to see Rahman perform at the Kodak Theatre and I wanted to hear his acceptance speech. I was actually rooting for O... Saya and was a little disappointed when the award went to Jai Ho. I mean, it's a nice song, but it's very regular Rahman stuff. Not like Maa Tujhe Salaam or something. But watching the ceremony was pretty interesting. The Star Movies Red Carpet Special had a very adorable bit with the kids from the cast of Slumdog Millionaire. When asked if he had anything to say to his friends back home, he said that they were going to win and that his friends should bet on it and give him fifty percent of their winnings. It was quite cute.

In Rahman's first acceptance speech, he acknowledged his mother's blessings with the much too famous "Mere paas maa hai" line. It was a little amusing but quite sweet. And Rahman performed O... Saya, followed by the other guy performing Down To Earth, followed by Rahman performing Jai Ho, followed by an interleaved performance with Down To Earth and Jai Ho being sung simultaneously. Seeing Rahman perform on that stage made Jai Ho sound better than ever before, and in spite of knowing the result beforehand, I had happy tears in my eyes when he went to accept his second Academy Award.

When Danny Boyle was walking down the Red Carpet and was asked if he had a message for all those in India who were watching, he let out an enthusiastic "Jai Ho!" That's the anthem for the moment. Jai Ho!

Dil Darta Hai

Dil darta hai mohobbat ke bina jeene se
Mohobbat mile to mohobbat karne se darta hai
Tanhaai mein zindagi guzarti nahin hai
Humsafar mil jaaye to marne se darta hai

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Words From The Songs Of Delhi 6

Like I said, I wanted to write separately about the music of Delhi 6. It's a huge relief after the disappointment that was Ghajini, where Kaise Mujhe was the only track I actually liked.

The tracks from Delhi 6 took a while to grow on me, and I grew tired of Masakali pretty quickly, but there are a few tracks that I find really touching and hummable.

As the movie opens with Amitabh Bachchan's evergreen voice, these words fill the air:

Zarre zarre mein usi ka noor hai
Jhaank khud mein, woh na tujhse door hai
Ishq hai us se to sab se ishq kar
Ishq hai us se
To sab se ishq kar
Is ibaadat ka yehi dastoor hai

Is mein us mein aur us mein hai wohi
Is mein us mein aur us mein hai wohi
Yaar mera har taraf bharpoor hai

Then there is the title track, which has this really nice, zingy feel to it. The French touch does wonders for this song.

Bada kas ke gale lagata hai
Dhadkan ki dhoom sunata hai
Iske baaye taraf bhi dil hai
Iske daaye taraf bhi dil hai
Yeh sheher nahi mehfil hai

I've already done a post on Genda Phool. In the movie, this song is actually not used in the kind of situation one would think, having heard the song. It's actually used in a slightly arbitrary but interesting way. But I can watch Abhishek do his Genda Phool dance any number of times.

I've also already written about Rehna Tu. This is definitely one of the most beautifully worded songs in Bollywood in recent times. Every word, every line is so touching, as is the general philosophy behind the song.

Tujhe badalna na chahoon
Ratti bhar bhi sanam
Bina sajaawat, milaawat
Na zyaada na hi kam


Tu zakhm de agar
Marham bhi aake tu lagaaye
Zakhm pe bhi mujhko pyaar aaye

Of course, there's the Hey Kaala Bandar song. I could not make head or tail out of this until I saw the movie. Once you see it, and appreciate the significance of the song, it's probably the most meaningful song in the album.

Saare rit rivaaz hata kar
Dekho apne ghar ke andar
Shaayad kahin kisi kone mein
Ghoom raha hai kaala bandar

The Arziyan number, with its qawwali style, resembles Rahman's other works like Noor-Un-Ala-Noor from Meenaxi and Khwaja Mere Khwaja from Jodhaa Akbar. Somehow, when this song appears for the first time (It appears twice. Once you get to hear only a few lines and later you hear all of it.), one actually gets the feeling that this guy who has just come to Delhi from the States is being welcomed by Delhi 6 with open arms. A couple of beautiful lines:

Daraare daraare hain maathe pe maula
Murammat muqaddar ki kar do maula

Dil Gira Dafatan definitely deserves to be mentioned here, but I can't pick just a few lines from it which really left their mark. And I do not intend to put the entire song here. But the general feel of the song is dependent on a lot more than the words. The vocals and the music are both surreal. It kind of reminds me of Kahin To...

There was a line which was not part of a song, just something that Sonam said during the course of the film. She was referring to her dad's beloved pigeon.

Ye udd nahin sakti. Iske pankh bandhe hue hain. Kyunki ye bauji ki chaheti hai.

Nothing very special about these words, except their figurative meaning. This is the point where I really felt for Sonam's character and could relate to her.

Beautiful movie. Beautiful songs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dev D: An Atyachaar Of Sorts

I never liked the whole idea of Devdas to begin with. I mean, what a loser. Why can't you stand by the woman you love, dude? And if you can't, and you do lose her, why can't you move on with your life?

But you know what? Much as I dislike Shah Rukh Khan, at least his portrayal of the character makes you feel the loser's loss.

Dev D, on the other hand, is cluttered with performances devoid of emotion and expression, lovemaking scenes devoid of chemistry, and modifications to the original story that do not add anything to it. I think this was the first time in the last six or seven years that I went out for a movie and did not feel like sitting through the closing credits. I always sit through the closing credits of a movie, because I like the feel that comes from the music that plays alongside. With Dev D, I felt like walking out around the intermission, but I remembered what happened with Luck By Chance and decided to stay till the end. This time round, I regretted having made that decision. It moved from being boring to being mildly irritating to being torturous.

The promos never made me feel like watching this movie. All the stuff that people had said about this movie had generated quite some curiosity in me. But it was totally not worth the time and money. A lot of people have praised the director due credit for being a lot bolder than a lot of Indian directors. I think It's all pretty distasteful. I've seen much bolder films that are way more tastefully made than this one.

I wish I'd watched Delhi 6 a second time instead, like I wanted to after having seen it once!

Delhi 6

A very well made movie, with some terrific performances, Delhi 6 is a must watch for any Delhiite, especially if one has spent a significant amount of time outside India.

This is a movie that any Indian can relate to. It talks about the little things and the big things in our everyday life, the sometimes ridiculous idiosyncrasies, the hard-hitting truth and the beautiful things about our country. It presents it all in a way that makes you laugh in some parts, and touches you deep within in others.

I loved Sonam Kapoor's character in the film. The bubbly, cheerful girl who really wants to be somebody certainly strikes a chord somewhere. Abhishek Bachchan has delivered a completely adorable performance. His Genda Phool dance is especially cute. And of course, Waheeda Rehman, Vijay Raaz, Divya Dutta and Rishi Kapoor have added to it all with their brilliant performances.

I like the songs in the movie (separate post in the offing), but what I liked more was the way they were used, and I liked all the song videos. All quite natural and beautiful.

But yes, I think the end could have been a little more powerful. It would have added a little to the overall appeal of the film. I'm not going to write how it could have been done, because then I would have to write how it is and spoil the end for some of my readers.

I'd rate this movie at nine on a scale of ten. Definitely worth a watch.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alok

Alok is possibly the most perceptive guy I have ever come across. After a few minutes of observation, he can tell what's going on in just about anybody's mind. He's a little moody. He can be totally serious one moment, and laughing out loud the next. Which brings me to another point. When he laughs, you can hear him all across the floor. You can also feel the innocence in his laugh. And you cannot make him stop laughing!

He's a pretty sensitive and really caring guy, and rather talented at pretending to be more sensitive and touchy than he actually is. From time to time, he tries to sing the most melodious of songs. Manages to distort the lyrics a little, and goes a little off key, but does just fine anyway. If nothing else, we all get a good laugh out of it!

Happy Birthday dear. May you go places and fulfill all the dreams you ever dreamt.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of Theorems, Conjectures And Me

Like I promised in my post on Fermat's Last Theorem, here is my post on my time as a Mathematics student. This is neither the first nor the last such post, just one of many.

I first heard of Fermat's Last Theorem when I was in class nine, I think. At that time, I read a little bit about it, but probably not enough to get me really interested in it. In class eleven, I happened to land up on something called the Beal Conjecture. The statement of this conjecture is on similar lines to Fermat's Last Theorem. Incidentally, until a statement is proved, it should be called a conjecture, not a theorem. Fermat's Last Theorem was always referred to as a theorem instead of a conjecture, for over three hundred years when it stood without a proof.

I was rather intrigued by the Beal Conjecture. I was in touch with a Professor from the University of North Texas over e-mail, doing some background research, and trying to figure out if I could attempt to actually prove it. I told him I wanted to study the proof for Fermat's Last Theorem, and asked him to suggest references. He pointed me in the right direction, but I guess I did not know enough Mathematics then to be able to figure it out.

As an undergraduate student of Mathematics, I attended a workshop where a Professor from Berkeley gave us an overview of the proof. He did it in a fraction of the time that Andrew Wiles spent at the Newton Institute for the same task, but the overview was enough for me to be interested and confident enough to make another serious attempt to figure it out. I did, to an extent, but was never able to grasp it fully, because of the sheer bulk of the thing, and I no longer remember any of it, except that it was based on elliptic curves. This I remembered before Simon Singh's book reminded me of it.

Somewhere along the line, I gave up Mathematics, and forgot all about Fermat and Beal. After reading this book, I do have a bit of renewed enthusiasm. Maybe I will take up that stuff all over again. It won't necessarily be fruitful, but it just might be fun.

Song Of The Week

Genda Phool from Delhi 6. I have been listening to this number for quite a few days now, but all of a sudden I find myself able to relate to the sentiments expressed in it. It's this really cute and interesting song that expresses the sentiments of a woman whose husband is away from home, and she misses him. It talks of how her in-laws' place is a mixture of the good and the bad. The lyrics are just beautiful. And the music that starts about fifty seconds into the song is just great. If you haven't seen the video so far, follow the link above. Abhishek Bachchan is really adorable in this one. Hey, I know he's married, and I'm going to be married soon too, but that doesn't take away the universal right to say such things about celebrities, does it? Which brings me to another point. This morning, Jatin sent me a few pictures of the neighbourhood where he lives. There was a lovely garden with assorted flowers, a lot of which were genda phools. This song refuses to leave my mind since then. I think I heard it about thirty times today. And now I'm going back to watching Abhishek dancing to the tune. Do not disturb.

Making The Big Decision

At long last, my family and I settled on a suitable guy for me. I remember writing about Tanu's and Anuradha's engagements almost immediately after it happened. But I've been at a bit of a loss on how and what to write about my own roka ceremony. I've also been sleep deprived for various reasons. First, there was Tanu's sangeet and wedding. Then there was the mad rush to prepare for my own roka.

So Jatin and I had been in touch over the phone for a few months. My family and I had met his family. It was only a question of him taking a couple of days off from work and coming home to India, which was something that got delayed due to various reasons. But I guess it was meant to be this way - we were not supposed to meet at Christmas or New Year's, as we'd originally planned, but on Valentine's Day.

He was in Delhi for just about forty eight hours. In that time, we needed to meet up, finalise everything, and have a small ceremony to formalise things. And that's how it happened. On the fourteenth of February, my would-be in-laws came over to our place to meet us, and told us that they'd call us after they were back home. I spent a few jittery hours waiting for that phone call. But when it came, all that registered in my mind was that there was lots to be done and I needed to get up, get the car and get going. Which is what I did. I went with my mom and brother in my car in one direction, and my dad went off with a friend of his in another direction. None of us had either lunch or dinner properly that day. But I guess the effort was worth it. My dad managed to book a nice, little hall at the India Habitat Centre for the whole thing. Now IHC is not the kind of place where one would normally expect such functions to take place, but I loved the place. Classy, peaceful, no loud music, no drama involving making the bride and groom sit down on large, fancy chairs like dolls in the dolls' museum. And oh, when I walked in, I peacefully made my way in, with only a jovial comment from my brother, asking if I wanted to do the dramatic walk. Which I obviously did not.

A lot of my immediate family could not make it there at such short notice, including the bua with an injured shoulder, the cousin who's in Kharagpur, the mamaji in America, and the other mamaji in Bangalore. I asked a few friends to compensate for the absence of six out of my seven first cousins.

My mom has been telling my brother to polish his driving skills, because it will be a tad difficult for me to drive myself to such functions, all dressed up in a saaree or a lehenga. He said he would instead arrange for his business partner, Ashish, to drive me around. He is a tad lazy, you know, but his friends are pretty helpful. Ashish was more than willing to render any help that might be needed. Nikhil's childhood buddy, Abhinav, who was stuck in a remote town in Maharashtra, hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest airport, offered to send his driver and/or his car. Abhinav grew up pretty close by from where we live, and has no siblings of his own, so he used to spend a lot of time with us. He's always been like the other brother that I have.

Eventually it was my friend Varun, with whom I carpool to work, who drove me there, along with Ruchi and Aarti. This was in accordance with our deal. Since Varun has a habit of injuring his feet from time to time, I have been driving to work more than my fair share. I told him that he could compensate for that by driving around when I needed something done around my wedding.

My friends tell me that it did not seem like it was my own ceremony. I was talking to people in my usual style, scolding the likes of Alok and Abhinav (a friend from work, different from the above mentioned Abhinav.) from time to time, a far call from the demure bride that an Indian woman is normally expected to be. I was handing out the boxes of mithaai myself, and people found that rather odd.

Once the guests were gone, and we were left only with immediate family from my side, and Nikhil's friends, there was a bit of a wait while my dad was settling the accounts and Ashish and the other guys were packing up things. I allowed myself to admit that the bangles were irritating me a little. Fished out the bangle box, and packed them up. A couple of minutes later, it was the necklace that my mother-in-law had gifted me. Back into its box. And then my earrings. And then my neck piece that I'd originally been wearing.

Things happened pretty fast, and there wasn't much time for it to sink in and for me to fully comprehend what was happening. On Sunday evening, after the ceremony, and before Jatin had to leave for the airport, we were talking on the phone and then it started to sink in. Over the last three days, Bhavna, Abhinav, and my boss, Mohit, have been making me realise what I will be leaving and all the little things and the big things that I will miss. I've also begun to comprehend everything that I have to look forward to. I'm feeling happy, excited, a little sad, and very emotional, all at the same time. It's not like anything that I've ever experienced before. I don't think it is supposed to be anything like anything I've experienced. It's supposed to be a once in a lifetime thing.

And yes, I must add, like I already mentioned in the post on Tanu's wedding, it's because of Tanu and Gaurav that I have been able to believe in the concept of an arranged marriage and that I have been able to make this decision. Incidentally, their last function, the reception, was on the same day as our first. And it was not even in the same city. So we had to miss each other's functions. But I was there for their wedding, and they will certainly be there for mine. Won't you, guys?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fermat's Last Theorem

Last night I stayed up to finish reading Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh. Bhatti had told me that if I'd read this one during the years when I was studying Mathematics, I would never have given up Mathematics. Turns out, he was probably right. The way this guy has illustrated the passion that mathematicians have for their subject, the way he has put forth the mystery, the intrigue of the subject, it's all pretty brilliant. He takes you on a beautiful journey through the ages, telling you the story of Fermat, number theory, and Mathematics in general.

Let me put a disclaimer here. You don't need to be a mathematician to be able to read, understand, and appreciate this book. You just need a bit of mathematical aptitude and inclination. The author doesn't really talk too much about the actual theories and concepts that went into proving the Last Theorem, and even when he does, the concepts are such that you can do without understanding them.

I loved the book. It reminded me of a lot of things that happened during the years when I was studying Mathematics, in school and in College. I'll do a separate post about that stuff. Until then, all I'd say is that anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in the subject should most certainly read this one.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mementos From Tanu's Wedding

Tanu is finally married! On the 12th of February, the first of my close friends from College got married. We had a lovely time at her sangeet and at her wedding. I'll put down some of the stuff worth remembering.

Going to her sangeet was quite an ordeal. Put together the fact that I was only vaguely familiar with the route, and that the traffic conditions and road conditions in East Delhi and Ghaziabad are not too great, and that my car suddenly started misbehaving that morning, and what do you get?

On the morning of 11th February, something went wrong with the central locking system of my car, and it refused to unlock peacefully on all the three occasions - in the morning, when I was leaving for work, in the evening, when I was leaving work, and in the night when we were leaving Tanu's place. And then there were these strange roads all along the way. One was rather narrow to begin with, and had a makeshift fruit and vegetable market put up, which sent the traffic into a state of total chaos. At this point, I told Ruchi, who was navigating at that point of time, to stay silent for a few minutes until I got out of the insane traffic. She could, however, not control the urge to make random remarks about buying vegetables, or at least lemons and green chillies. It was only thanks to the map that Varun had drawn for me (with a lot of care, consideration, and accompanied by instructions) that I managed to find my way through the mess.

At the sangeet, we had a lot of fun listening to all sorts of interesting songs sung by Tanu's aunts and uncles (Okay, there was only one uncle. But he was a really witty and interesting uncle). I told my friends that since I had to drive everyone home, I should get the mehendi applied first, because everyone else could go home with wet hands. I was the first one to get it applied, but apparently the last one to see it dry off. In the wait, I was waving my hands about in the air and managed to get a lot of the mehendi on the walls. The wait gave us some time to chat and catch up with each other, which was good. It delayed our getting home, which was bad. We lost our way thrice on the way back. Of these, only the first instance occurred while we were still in unfamiliar territory. When I realised where we were, I knew that we were nowhere near the route that we'd intended to take, but we were heading towards a much better, very familiar route. The second time, we lost our way around the University Campus where three of us had roamed about for six years and one of us, for three years. We landed up in a desolate, dark patch. Four young women, with mehendi on their hands, with only one can of pepper spray to defend themselves with, on a deserted road at about 2315 hours. We should thank out stars that we made it out of there. The third time I lost my way was the icing on the cake. I was dropping Aarti home, which is something I have done more than once before this (and hence I am familiar with the neighbourhood), and I was supposed to find my way to the ring road after dropping her. There was this underpass that I knew I wasn't supposed to take, and I took it anyhow. Nobody knows why.

It seemed like I'd been driving all day. I arrived home at about midnight, so exhausted that I couldn't get to sleep (Yup, when I get much too exhausted, I can't fall asleep.). I got only about four hours of sleep that night. But I ceased to feel sleep deprived once I was back from work the following evening, and getting dressed for the wedding. After much waiting for everybody to get home from work and get dressed, there we were, all dressed up and loaded into a cab, which began to experience some amount of trouble in the beginning of the journey, but thankfully that lasted only a few minutes.

Now Tanu's groom, Gaurav, doesn't like band-baaja, so there wasn't any of that in the baaraat. Which means that the baaraat arrived at a rather unexpectedly early hour, and consequently everything was ready for the pheras by midnight. After a little slow dancing to Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye by the bride and groom, and dinner, everyone settled down for the pheras. We had a little while when Gaurav was supposed to be there in the mandap, but not Tanu. We got to chat and take some pictures with her in that time.

It was interesting, listening to the panditji recite the wedding vows. I don't think it was supposed to be as funny as he made it sound. I've actually attended that part of a wedding only once before this, and I don't think anybody was laughing over there!

When I see Tanu and Gaurav together, when I talk to them, I always get the feeling that these two were actually made for each other, just waiting to meet. I find myself able to trust that Gaurav will take really good care of Tanu and keep her happy. It is because of these two that I have begun to believe in the concept of arranged marriage. All the best, you two. May marital bliss never step out of your lives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Filing Away My Stuff

I'm a rather strange sort of creature. (That is probably one of the sentences I use most often.) If I am organised, I am hyper-organised. If I am not, I am completely haphazard.

So I realised a few weeks ago that this blog needs a bit of organising. I wonder why I never used labels on any of my posts. For a few weeks, I've been thinking that I need to do just that and I've been postponing it. Not any more. I just started out, and I've covered the posts till September. I'll hopefully be done with the rest of them by the weekend. A book I meant to finish today is lying by my side, neglected. Because I have my "blog days." When all my attention is taken up by my blog. To counter these, I also observe "no-blog days" when I either turn off my laptop and put it aside, or, better still, leave it in the office. These are the days I use to catch up on my reading and sleeping. I'll need a lot of days of that sort to counter this one!

Believing In Myself

Since the time I wrote the post on Strength, I've been doing a bit of self-analysis. I'm a slightly strange creature. In terms of professional achievements and taking my career in the direction in which I want to take it, I tend to believe pretty strongly in myself. I tend to have a large amount of faith in my abilities, though I may not always say so in front of my colleagues. But when it comes to developing and maintaining friendships and other such interpersonal relationships, I'm pretty insecure. I tend to have a hard time making myself believe that someone else would genuinely like me for the person that I am. I don't find it easy to believe that somebody would actually want to be friends with me, without any hidden motives. I thought about it quite a bit. As it happens, I've had quite a few fall-outs with friends. I have a lot of really good friends, but I don't think there is anyone among all those people to whom I am more important than any of their other friends.

Okay, enough with the negativity. I do know, however, that I have a whole lot of friends who have always been there for me, even when they haven't physically been there. Who will always be there across the miles. Who may or may not value my friendship as much as I value theirs, but who do value it a lot. And that means a lot to me.

Events That Drastically Affected My Life

Being editor of my school magazine. This was a phase that made me feel happy, satisfied with my life, like I was actually doing something worthwhile, something I really wanted to do. More on this here.

Working on the organising committee for the technical festival during my post graduation. Where we did our MCA, they never used to host a technical festival (or any event of a similar nature, for that matter). One of classmates decided that they should. He started out by talking four of us into backing him up and helping him organize the whole thing. When we started out, we had no idea if we would be able to pull it off. If any other colleges and Universities would actually show an interest in sending a team over. We didn't even know where the money would come from. Never mind that, we didn't even know if we would get at least the bare minimum amount of support from the faculty and the administration so that we could officially go out and look for sponsorships. It took a lot of persistence, perseverance, a strong spirit, a number of disagreements, which, at times, got extremely bitter and ended with tears. But, at the end of it all, we made it through. We were able to host a significantly large scale event and host participants from all over the country. It made me believe, for the first time in my life, that if one person wanted to change the world, he could. It taught me a lot about time management, people management, handling all sorts of unpleasant situations and people, dealing with Human Resource managers from all kinds of firms, and the sheer joy of putting all your energy into something that you really want to do and making it happen.

Working on the placement committee during my post graduation. The stuff I learnt from this fell pretty much in the same broad categories as what I've enumerated above, but this also taught me about putting the larger group's interests before your personal interests, and putting long term goals before short term ones, applicable here in the context of long term relationships between various organisations and the University. It helped evolve this shy girl, who would think thrice before calling up her classmates, and then often end up not calling, into an independent girl who called dozens of people in dozens of organisations every single day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Some words I felt like putting down, from some songs that I like.

Bichad ke bhi mujhse judaa tu nahin
Khafaa hai magar bewafaa tu nahin
Mere haath mein hi tera haath hai
Mere paas hai... tu mere paas hai
Mere saath hai

Touching words. They express the feelings of a lover who has lost his loved one but has never lost hope. In his heart, he knows that he will definitely find his lost love again, because their love is true.

Tumhi se hain meri neendein
Na bhi ho to kya
Tumhi se hain meri baatein
Na bhi ho to kya

I don't want to add anything to this.

Shaam ka aanchal odh ke aayee
Dekho woh raat suhani
Aa likh dein hum dono milke
Apni ye prem kahaani

This is a very special song for me. I've heard it being performed by people I know on various occasions, like my immediate seniors' Graduation Dinner in College, and the farewell we hosted for our outgoing batch when we were in our first year of MCA. My friend who was supposed to perform at the farewell kept forgetting the words and kept asking me to remind him every time he caught me backstage.


Sometimes, feelings and emotions can be such strong forces. A single person's greed, or his love for money or power can cause a large-scale war to break out. A simple compliment can sometimes generate so much motivation that it changes one's life all together. On the other hand, a single statement can generate so much negativity that it leads a child on to a path of delinquency.

Some of us are inherently so strong that we have a well defined set of goals, and will work towards them and achieve them, regardless of whether or not anyone backs us up. For these people, the end is its own reward. And then there are the more ordinary people, who need a little word of encouragement every now and then. Those who need to be reassured that failure is neither permanent nor is it the end of the world.

And then there are those of us who normally fall in the second category, but, at some point of time, come to realise that achieving their goals is a lot more important than what the rest of the world thinks of them. They come to an epiphany where they suddenly see the huge amount of strength that they always harboured within themselves.

There comes a time when a person realises that the conventional notions of success and happiness were simply not meant for her, and that she must define her own joy, her own success. It is then that she becomes the person she was actually meant to be.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gym Tales

It's been two years since February 5, 2007, which was when I first stepped into the gymnasium in my office. Going to the gym has become a rather significant aspect of my routine, so I thought I'd write about it.

Whenever I try to do something new and/or significant, I try not to tell people about it. My ventures tend to be unsuccessful if I tell people about them. I mean, I'm not superstitious in general, but this is one thing about which I am a little weird. A friend of mine told me not to tell a soul when I planned to get married.

In the beginning, I needed some amount of push, some amount of external motivation to get started. It so happened that a few of us girls from the team got together and decided to work out together every morning. Now obviously these girls had to know, but I told nobody else. Not my mom, not my cab buddies, not my other friends in the office. It was just Chaya, Bhavna, Ayesha, Meenal and me in the gym every morning.

That didn't last too long. After about a week or so, each morning, one or more people would claim to be too busy to be able to find time for a workout. After another couple of weeks, there was a day when all the others were either too busy or not in the best of health. That day I surprised myself by going alone. Till that moment actually came, I did not know that I had enough motivation and willpower within myself.

From there on, it was mostly just me. I kept surprising myself by managing to keep going, and managing to refrain from telling people. But obviously I had to tell people eventually. Long and tragic story. I broke my ankle in the week immediately succeeding the week when I told my mom and my cab friends. I had to take a two-month break from all kinds of activities because of that.

With the ankle healed and the lesson learnt, I resolved to be more careful on the stairs and on uneven terrain, and went back to my regular routine. My doctor had warned me that the ankle would hurt again when the winter was upon us. It did. Last winter. Not this time round, thankfully. I took things easy last January. Because I figured that skipping gym for a week or so after careful consideration was way better than being forced to skip it for a month or two.

Working out makes me feel really good about myself. It does away with lethargy to a large extent. In these two years (or in the immediately preceding six years or so, for that matter), I have never once weighed myself. I don't know why. I just never felt like it. But I do know that I have lost six inches off my waist. Okay, I know I've loosened up a little on my strict diet control in the last few months and put a bit of the weight back on, but I also know that I'm not going to let it get out of hand this time round.

In this duration, I motivated all but one of my cab friends into joining me in the gym. All of them worked out regularly for a significant period of time before they gave it up. And there's a certain friend of mine who has also lost a huge amount of weight in about the same time frame. He told me that he was inspired by me. I'm not sure how true that actually is, but I was extremely touched when he told me that.

A lot of people have asked me how I managed to do this. I'm not sure where the motivation came from initially. But I do know that you need to motivate yourself sufficiently for just a little while. Once you start seeing results, they keep you motivated. And once you get used to it, it gets so ingrained into your routine that you just don't feel right without it. The key is not working out really hard, but working out really regularly, with some amount of diet control.

I've got a huge confidence boost from all this. I feel healthier and happier. I don't know if I actually am healthier. I don't care, really. Because, in the end, what really matters is how you feel about yourself.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ever Notice... great it feels if we do something nice for someone, completely selflessly, without even taking due credit for it? And yet, how selfish almost all of us have grown, that we no longer want to do anything for anyone without fulfilling our own interests in the process, or without the hope of having the favour repaid? Even if you do something nice for a friend, it comes with the realisation that the other person would do the same for you in a similar situation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Kabhi koi zindagi mein aa jaata hai
Aur hum sochte hain ki uske bina zindagi kya thi
Dil ko dard aur aankhon ko aansoo de jaata hai
Phir bhi sochte hain ki uske bina khushi kya thi

Keemat Khushiyon Ki

Gham jo na deti zindagi
To keemat kya reh jaati khushiyon ki
Sapna har ek sach ho jaata
To jagah kya hoti khwahishon ki
Paani jo na behta aankhon se kabhi kabhi
To muskuraane ki khushi kya hoti
Tapti dhoop kabhi na jalaati zameen ko
To thandak kya reh jaati baarishon ki


Kabhi aapne jaana hi nahin ki kitne aziz ho humko
Kabhi socha hi nahin ki aap kaun ho hamaare
Kabhi dekhi hi nahin hamaari zindagi mein apni jagah aapne
Mehsus na ki wo mohabbat jo samaa na payi dil mein hamaare

Just felt a little poetic today, and remembered that I hadn't written any poetry in a while. This is not dedicated to anyone in particular.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Moving Day: I remember the time, two years and nine months back, when I took up work at my current office. At that time, there were plenty of vacant cubicles and unused cabins on our floor. If you needed a room for a small meeting, you didn't need to book a conference room. You could just use one of those cabins. Some of the most senior people in my team had just been promoted and were moved to cabins around that time. Today it feels rather odd to recollect that there was a time when these people used to sit in cubicles, just like the rest of us. It also feels odd to think that there was a time when there was plenty of empty seating space for any new people joining the team, given the current space crunch which has forced the management to make our cubicles smaller.

Manali Memoirs: When we started back from Manali, after a couple of kilometres or so, Neha realised that she'd forgotten her phone in the resort. We called the resort. They looked for the phone in our room, and found it easily enough. Ashish and Aman went back for it. They came back with the phone wrapped in a pair of socks, which had supposedly been retrieved from the same room, and was assumed to be Neha's as well. As soon as they got on to the bus, Bhatti announced that the socks were his. What Bhatti's socks were doing in our room is still an unsolved mystery.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Manali Memoirs

I realize this is a little overdue, but I wanted to write this one at leisure, and I was a little short of sleep during the week immediately succeeding the Manali trip, so I had to postpone this until the weekend. Now I do not plan to tell a story here, or narrate a minute-by-minute account, just some interesting anecdotes, not necessarily in chronological order.

At the outset of the journey, it was a little doubtful if the bus driver knew the way from Noida to Delhi's Inter State Bus Terminus. Eventually, it became doubtful if he knew the way to Manali, but we'll come to that later. We were supposed to pick up Ashish and Hemant from a point near the ISBT, and I was probably the only one in the bus who knew the way to that place. And so the journey began with Alok declaring me the first lady bus conductor in the city.

We thought that Manali was about twelve hours away by bus. What we didn't know was what our driver had planned for us. He wanted to take us on a joy ride through all sorts of places, including agricultural land, which had all things nice and beautiful, except a road. He took us on a bumpy, twenty hour drive through all sorts of places previously unseen.

Now I tend to be unable to sleep through a commute of any sort. But interestingly, I was able to sleep peacefully for a whole hour through the beginning of the bumpy patch. Now this sort of thing doesn't really count as sleep for me, but some people are able to sleep a little better in buses and tend to feel that a new day has begun after they wake up. Aarti and Ruchi are two such people, who refuse to eat anything until they brush their teeth in the morning. Imagine what happens to such people when their toothbrushes are in their main bags and the boot of the bus refuses to open when they wish to use the brushes. These two did not eat anything until we arrived at our resort in the evening. As for me, I wasn't too worried about anything much. I had a good time, with all the singing going on in the bus, which was primarily being carried out by Aman at one point of time, and with Bhatti and Aman and Alok singing Bol Na Halke Halke in the most non-Halke Halke way possible.

Our travels around Manali were mainly restricted to Solang Valley. For the journey, we rented five bikes, a Pulsar and four Bullets. The Pulsar wasn't in very good shape, as Gauri discovered pretty soon. But he showed an amazing amount of patience with it, given its state and given the fact that I was riding pillion with him. Eventually I switched places with Shalu and rode with Aman, and then suddenly Aman's Bullet started acting up. That was for a very short while though, and later we had a lovely ride, in the biting cold and rain, until the time we went to the city's main market and both of us almost fell off the bike. Hemant was rather disappointed that I escaped unscathed.

Solang Valley was good, with all the snow that had fallen to the ground, and all of it that fell while we were there. We did what people generally do with snow - had a snowball fight and built a snowman.

In our resort, we had cottages with three rooms in each cottage, together with a living room and a kitchen. We did hire a cook for ourselves, but we always had the option of making something for ourselves if we wanted to. Anuranjan wanted me to make some tea. I warned him that I was making it for the second time in my life, at which Ashish insisted that he make the tea instead. Eventually we decided to make it together. Now we didn't have an appropriate utensil for it, so it was between a pressure cooker and a frying pan. I was sure that the cooker was a better choice and it would be easier to pour the tea from the cooker, but once Ashish is convinced of something, I have always found myself unable to talk him into thinking otherwise. This time I did not make futile attempts at it. I let him use the frying pan. He did eventually discover that it was rather difficult to pour the tea from the pan, and used a cup to transfer it from the pan into the kettle, after which we discovered that we were out of milk. So we served six cups of black tea with the juice of half a lemon. This tea had a lot of us awake and talking until close to six in the morning, watching Neha laugh uncontrollably, even at non-laughable matters, and Ashish roll on the floor laughing at all those things.

Speaking of laughter, there was some amount of singing around the bonfire, in the course of which, we heard a really off-key rendition of Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast from Balab and one of Zehreeley Zehreeley from Bhatti which had all of us in splits. Bhatti was actually laughing so hard himself, he could not even get to the words Zehreeley Zehreeley.

We had the first half of the next day to ourselves before we started on our homeward journey. Some of us spent some time in the market, shopping for mementos. Anuranjan asked me to get him a stole. It is still an unsolved mystery whom that stole was intended for. But he told me that he liked it, and that my taste was good. Unlike certain other people, who asked for my help in selecting a poncho and then categorically stated that I had bad taste. When I picked two of the fifteen or so that the salesman had laid out, Hemant claimed that I was confusing him and that I should pick only one. The salesman suggested that he should shortlist four or five and then pick one of those. He picked four or five that he didn't want to buy. Eventually I did pick one of the remaining ten or so which he grudgingly agreed to buy, in spite of my bad taste.

The return journey took us through much better roads, although we were considerably slowed down by dense fog. This time we got to hear some really beautiful songs from Ashish and from Prima. By this time, my throat was in pretty bad shape, but I did manage to sing a bit myself. And I managed to sleep for close to four hours, which probably exceeds the total duration of time that I have slept during all the bus rides I have ever undertaken in my life. At some point during those four hours, I realised that I was wearing only open sandals and no socks, and that my feet were freezing. Even that was not enough to wake me up.

Which brings me to another point. I do not believe too much in warm clothing. I had not worn socks since my school days, when they were part of the uniform. I have never owned a proper jacket. For this trip, I needed that kind of stuff. So there I was, with a jacket and shoes borrowed from my brother (the jacket was really warm. It felt like a quilt when I was sleeping in the bus.), a pair of socks borrowed from my dad, a cap and muffler borrowed from Bhavna (which, by the way, Anuranjan thought I'd been knitting since I was in class six and had finished only recently.), and a pair of gloves that Anuranjan bought for me.

Great trip. Special credit to Hemant, Anuranjan, Alok and Ashish for organising everything so well. To Gauri for showing an incredible amount of patience with the bike and with me, on the bike ride and also the trek to Solang Valley. And of course, to Aman, for being the protective elder brother that he has always been to me on all of our trips. If I'd actually had an elder brother, he would and should have been just like Aman. He's the only one in the team who's always been there on all the trips I've been out for, and I cannot imagine going without him.

The Kandisa Syndrome

I'm not a particularly huge fan of Indian Ocean's music, but I do like their tunes to a large extent. My first encounter with their music happened about fourteen years ago, when I was very good friends with a classmate of mine who was into classical dance, dramatics, lounge music... that sort of thing. I spent a weekend at her place once. She had recently laid her hands on an audio cassette of Kandisa. And she'd heard it a couple of times and really liked it. Now this came at a time when I had not yet developed a taste for that sort of music. My liking was mostly bestowed on commercial, mainstream Hindi music. Now she had that cassette playing for about seventeen hours. That's a lot, you know, even for music that I like. If I'd been listening to Rangeela for that long, I'd probably have been sick of that too.

After that episode, I never ventured into anything by Indian Ocean. Maybe a track or two from Black Friday appealed to me, but not much else. That was until the rafting trip last April. After a few rounds of Bharam Bhaap Ke, Ma Rewa, Hille Re and others in the bus, I began to develop that taste which had actually never been given a chance to develop. After that trip, I caught hold of all their albums and listened to all their music at leisure. A lot of that happened when I made little visits to Ashish's cabin and he was playing some of that stuff. There was this one morning when he had heard Torrent in his car and continued to play that track in a loop. That morning, I somehow found that track really relaxing and soothing, and put it on my iRiver, which is where I keep all the songs that help me relax and fall asleep. After Mar Jaawan, Kahin To... and Teri Yaadein, Torrent has been my fourth most often used song to counter insomnia.

These days, I go through these phases when I don't like any sort of music at all, or I get bored stiff of everything I like and begin to feel a restlessness that would ordinarily be cured by my favourite music. Then I take a day or two off from my regular music, and listen to Kandisa for a day or two. Just Kandisa. On repeat. Maybe all of it, maybe just a track or two. It magically relaxes me, refreshes my mind, helps me work better, and restores the normal balance of things.