Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bones 522: The Way Forward

For the uninitiated, Bones is this who-dunnit type crime series on Fox featuring a forensic anthropologist, an FBI agent and a whole team of other forensic experts who work to solve murders. The series had a way of very subtly depicting human relationships. How the synergies of people working  together towards a common goal eventually cement themselves in the form of great friendships and long lasting attachments. Finally happened to see the fifth season finale today, a month after it aired. Apparently the series seems to be wrapping up. The finale shows all characters leaving the organization and setting out to embrace what they had wanted to do all along, before they had found comfort and a sense of belonging with each other, and with the organization. Somehow, made me think of the insti, the life there, the friends. Surprisingly, I have never cried missing home, but this episode made me miss IIT so much that it hurt, enough to bring tears, enough to call friends up and tell them how much I missed them, enough to bring me out of my hiatus and make me write a blog at 1 in the night. Life in the insti, with all its pains, was good. More so, it was safe, the "catch me whenever I fall" kind. Its been a month since I left the insti and all this is starting to truly sink in now. I'm in a city I absolutely love, doing a job I always wanted to do, but something doesnt feel right. And no, its not the  awful Bombay traffic jams and deluges nor the insanely long working hours of the banking sector.  Everything about the insti, from the magnificent main gate (yes, you will know its really magnificent once you compare it to the IITB one :P), the 3 km drive to GC, the steps in front of DOMS, Guru's sticky Maggi, the insti T-shirts  to the dept rooftops, CTIDES and friends, seem to have catalyzed certain mutations in my genetic code and become part of my DNA, become part of who I am.Leaving the insti has been probably  like leaving a part of myself behind. I remember, how five years back, I had shed buckets of tears over not having been allotted IIT Bombay but these last five years at IIT Madras have given me so much, friends, opportunities and dreams, taught me so much, to understand friendship, to love, to fight and to live. When I tell people today to trust in the wisdom of the Universe, it is because the Universe taught me it knew better. Thank You IITM.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

100 Truths

What do you do when you are totally bored? Yep, you play senseless mind-numbingly stupid Tags :P. For all practical purposes done and dusted with IIT Madras, waiting for my super-busy guides to conduct my viva, I have absolutely nothing to do these days. Sitting in the lab for the AC and the Net (which isnt much help given that most friends are offline or too busy to chat), this seems to be the most productive use of time at the moment.

The game is this: You answer the following questions, truthfully, needless to add. Post them and then Tag your friends. So, here I go:

1. Last beverage = Water
2. Last phone call = Home
3. Last text message = Abhishek, Srikanth (parallel text chats are quite common here :P)
4. Last song you listened to = Cut, by Plumb and All I Need, by Within Temptation (playing continuously on loop)
5. Last time you cried = A couple of hours back I guess (wanna go home!!!!)


6. Dated someone twice = does repeated breaking up and making up count?
7. Been cheated on = yes, by friends (or people who claimed to be :P)
8. Kissed someone & regretted it = No (Kissed by, a resounding yes)
9. Lost someone special = Yes
10. Been depressed = Yes
11. Been drunk and threw up = Yes


12. Sea Blue
13. Green
14. Yellow


15. Made new friends = Yes
16. Fallen out of love = No
17. Laughed until you cried = Yes
18. Met someone who changed you = No
19. Found out who your true friends were = YES
20. Found out someone was talking about you = yes
21. Kissed anyone on your friend list = Isn't your loved one supposed to be on your friend list?
22. How many people on your friend list do you know in real life = All I guess
23. How many kids do you want to have = 2
24. Do you have any pets = 2, a mom and a sister, will that count ;)
25. Do you want to change your name = Oh, so badly, too many Shrutis around
26. What did you do for your last birthday = Oh, dont even remind me
27. What time did you wake up today = 6:45 AM
28. What were you doing at midnight last night = Watching Heroes with Sis
29. Name something you cannot wait for = starting up
30. Last time you saw your Mother= 13th April 2010
31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life= Have yet to find the exact butterfly I stepped on which cascaded into an avalanche :-|
32. What are you listening to right now = I'm dying to catch my breath, Oh why don't i ever learn, I've lost all my trust though i've surely tried to, Turn it around.  Can you still see the heart of me? All my agony fades away, When you hold me in your embrace. Don't tear me down, For all i need, Make my heart a better place, Give me something I can believe... All I Need, by Within Temptation, amazing song!!
33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom = No
34. What's getting on your nerves right now = delayed vivas, Chennai heat, creases on bedsheets...
35. Most visited webpage = 1. gmail, 2. facebook
36. Whats your real name = Shruti Srivastava
37. Nicknames = Everyone calls me with a different name
39. Zodiac sign = Libra
40. Male or female or transgendered= Female
41. Primary school = Carmel Convent Sr Sec School, BHEL, Bhopal, India
42. High School = Carmel Convent Sr Sec School, BHEL, Bhopal, India
43. College = IIT Madras
44. Hair colour = Black
45. Long or short = Long
46: Height = Highly confidential info
47: Do you have a crush on someone? = No
48: What do you like about yourself? = Resilience, I suppose
49. Piercings = Ears
50. Tattoos = None, yet ;)
51. Righty or lefty = Righty


52. First surgery = Corn, before JEE
53. First piercing = Class 2
54. First best friend = Jasmine Gujral
55. First vacation = of those I can recall (from my memory and not pictures in albums), Nainital, April 1993
56. First crush = Rahul Dravid


59. Eating = nothing
60. Drinking = nothing
61. Doing = Blogging, listening to two amazing songs on loop
62. Listening to = two amazing songs on loop ;)
63. Waiting for = my sister to wake up


64. Want kids? = Yes
65. Get married? = Yes
66. Careers in mind? = Heading to be a Financial Analyst, should be followed by being a Serial Entrepreneur eventually a VC :).


67. Lips or eyes = eyes
68. Hugs or kisses = Hugs
69. Shorter or taller= Taller
71. Romantic or spontaneous = Spontaneous
72. Nice stomach or nice arms = Arms, to hold
73. Sensitive or loud = Sensitive
74. Hook-up or relationship = Should I even answer that, relationship ofc
75. Trouble maker or hesitant = Trouble Maker


76. Kissed a stranger = NO
77. Drank hard liquor = Ahem
78. Lost glasses/contacts = Glasses, yes
79. Sex on first date = Ewww
80. Broken someone's heart = Sadly , yes, many people
81. Had your own heart broken= Yep
82. Been arrested = No, not yet, at least ;)
83. Turned someone down = Yes
84. Cried when someone died = Yes, the memories still bring tears
85. Liked a friend who is a girl? = liked as in?? you do like you friends, right?


86. Yourself = Yes
87. Miracles = Depends
88. Love at first sight = Naah, it would be attraction, at best lust, not love.
89. Heaven = Well....
90. Santa Clause = No
91. Kiss on the first date = No, classic third date is fine.
92. Angels = Maybe, maybe not.


93. Is there one person you want to be with right now? = Yes, I hope he knows it
94. Had more than one boyfriend/girlfriend at one time? = No
95. Did you sing today? = Yes
97. If you could go back in time, how far would you go? = Like I said, need to pinpoint the exact butterfly.
98. If you could pick a day from last year and relive it, what would it be? = Last year Saarang, Delhi trip
99. Are you afraid of falling in love? = Afraid, yes, because anything that makes you feel that good can also hurt you immensely (High on the risk-reward frontier)
100. Posting this as 100 truths? = What does it look like :PP

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The 90's! When Cell Phones were for the super rich and incoming was Rs.12 per minute!

Been over a month since I blogged, no prizes for guessing that my DDP was behaving like a spoilt attention demanding child, but more on that in the posts that would follow. I'm not really a fan of forwarded mails or smses, but came across the following list on such a mail and just had to share it. You'll understand why if you grew up during the 90s :

1) You know the words to ‘In-pin-safety-pin’ and ‘akkad-bakkad’ by heart
2) Cricket is almost a religion for you, and you idolize at least one of Rahul Dravid/Sachin Tendulkar/Saurav Ganguly
3) You have read at least some Chacha Chaudhary or Tinkle comics
4) You’ve watched Shaktimaan on TV at least once in your life. And you can immediately recognize the character when you see him.
5) You have some ‘NRI’ relatives.
6) You couldn’t wait for it to be December so you could have the Toblerone chocolates your NRI relatives brought you
7) You watched Cartoon Network, and then the late night movies on TNT that came after Cartoon Network ended.
8) You watched corny dubbed versions of Small Wonder, Silver Spoon, and I Dream of Jeanie
9) You were THRILLED when McDonald’s opened in your neighborhood (or even eight kilometers away)
10) A visit to Pizza Hut used to mean a special treat
11) You have seen Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun at least 5 times each
12) You still remember the theme song of Hum Paanch. (Hum Paanch, Pam Pam Pam Paanch!)
13) You have played hours upon hour of running and catching, chor-police, lagori, saankli, ‘Doctor, doctor, help us!’, ‘Lock and key’
14) You have seen girls play ‘Amina Super Sina’ more times than you can remember. (And you still don’t know what it means!)
15) Dog ‘in’ the bone was your favorite co-ed game.
16) Much of your free time in school was spent playing UNO.
17) You collected trump cards of wrestlers, cricketers, and airplanes, and did not quite understand why your younger siblings were obsessed with Pokemon and the other Japanese trends that followed.
18) Your summer vacations were often synonymous with visiting your grandparents or cousins
19) Your parents, at some point, told you ‘Dark Room’ was a bad game to play. But you still loved playing it.
20) Bole mere lips, I love uncle Chips!
21) You know the song ‘Made in India’ by Alisha Chinai
22) You have seen many many many episodes of ‘Antakshari’ on Zee TV and know the only thing constant in the show is Annu Kapoor.
23) Many evenings have been spent watching little kids gyrate vulgarly on Boogie Woogie on Sony.
24) You were the coolest thing in class if you had a computer in your house while it was still the 90s.
25) You learnt LOGO and BASIC in school!
26) You couldn’t wait to start 4th standard so you could start writing with PENS instead of with pencils!
27) You often used terms and phrases like ‘two-say’, ‘same to you, back to you, with no returns’, and ‘shame shame, puppy shame, all the donkeys know your name.’
28) You most probably saw Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge at the cinema at least once. You also fantasized about singing songs in mustard fields as in the movie.
29) You have seen David Dhawan and Govinda movies and laughed at them.
31) You have said ‘haw’ or ‘yuck’ when you saw people kissing in English movies. (nowadays kids are used to it!)
30) Titanic was your FIRST favourite english movie.
31) You thought seeing English movies and speaking English made you the coolest thing ever.
32) You remember the Gujarat earthquake very clearly and could possibly tell everyone EXACTLY what you were doing when the earthquake occurred (yes, this happened in 2001, January 26, 2001, to be exact — but this group is about the things that Indian kids that GREW UP in the 90s remember and identify with).
33) Barbies for girls, and GI Joes for boys were the ultimate status symbols. You just wanted more more more and more. And how can I forget Hot Wheels, for both boys and girls?
34) You thought ‘imported’ clothes were definitely way better than ‘made in India’ clothes (never mind that a lot of clothes brought from overseas by NRI relatives were actually made in India, before ‘Made in China’ started appearing on EVERY existing thing)
35) "Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai Pata Chala Hai! Chaddi Pehen Ke Phool Khila Hai Phool Khila Hai!" You watched "The Jungle Book" every Sunday morning at 9.a.m" and just loved mowgli, bhalu and bagheera. A few years later, you watched Disney Hour, which had cartoons like Aladdin, Gummy Bears, Tail Spin, Uncle Scrooge!
36) At some point or other, cool was your favourite, and therefore, most overused word.
37) Captain Planet was your first introduction to environmental consciousness.
38) You have tried to convince people around you to not burst crackers on Diwali, and then gone straight back home and burst them yourself.
39) You have had endless packets of Parle Gluco G biscuits, and of Brittania Little Hearts biscuits.
40) You loved licking off the cream from the centre of Bourbon biscuits.
41) There were no Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Puma- Bata and Liberty was the way to go for your sports shoes.
42) You have probably consumed more Frooti in your lifetime than there is oil in Iraq.
43) You watched Baywatch on Star World when nobody was home even though (or because) your parents said you shouldn’t watch it.
44) You bought packets of potato chips for the specific purpose of collecting Tazos. And you had Tazos depicting everyone from Confucius to Daffy Duck to Daffy Duck dressed as Confucius.
45) For the longest time, the Maruti 800, the Premier Padmini, THE Fiat, and THE Ambassador were the only cars you saw on the road, and the Contessa was cool because it was bigger.
46) You would literally jump up in excitement if you ever chanced upon an imported car (Oh my gosh, is that really a MERCEDES?)!
47) You spent a good part of 1998 drooling over the Hyundai Santro and the Daewoo Matiz , debating which one was better.
48) You used to Fuzen gum. You also chewed Big (big) Babool and/or Boom Boom Boomer chewing gum. They were bright pink and disgusting tasting, but you loved them for the temporary tattoos.
49) Talking of temporary tattoos, you sometimes had contests with your classmates about who had more tattoos on their arm, leg, knee, hand, forehead, wherever.
50) You thought Mario and Contra were the coolest things ever invented, especially if you were a boy.
51) You knew that having the latest Hero or Atlas bicycle would make you the coolest kid on the block.
52) You can imitate Sushmita Sen’s winning gasp to perfection.
53) You have, at some point of time, worn GAP clothes (real or fake) like SRK in KKHH.
54) Seemingly senseless acronyms like SRK, DDLJ, DTPH, KKHH actually make sense to you..
55) You have at some point debated who was more beautiful- Aishwarya or Sushmita.
56) Baskin Robbins ice-cream was THE thing to have!
57) You know what Campa Cola is. And you also knew that Coca Cola was THE drink.
58) You would watch WWF keenly every evening/afternoon and loved Bret Hart "Hitman"! really thought Undertaker had seven lives and he made an “actual” appearance in the Akshay Kumar- starrer Khiladiyon ka Khiladi.
59) When all backpacks (or ’schoolbags’) and water bottles and tiffin boxes had strange cartoon characters that were hybrid versions of seven or eight different characters, and you still bought them, because a green man wih a water pistol, boots, a jet-pack, Johnny bravo hair, a rajasthani mustache, gloves, and underwear (long johns) over his pants, called ‘Mr. X’ was OBVIOUSLY a status symbol.
60) You remember the Nirma tikia jingle.
61) You remember the Nirma girl.
62) You remember the ‘doodh doodh piyo glass full doodh’ ad and also the ‘laal kaala peela, gulabi hara neela classic hai badia bristles wala’ and 'roz khao ande' ads.
63) You grew up reading, if you read at all, some or all of Nancy Drews, Enid Blyton books, Hardy Boys, Babysitters Club, Animorphs, Goosebumps, Sweet Valley series, Judy Blumes, and Tintin, or Archie comics. Because naturally, reading foreign authors made you much cooler than reading Tinkle.
64) Towards the late 90s (1998-99) at least some of us started our Harry Potter obsessions!
65) You absolutely HAD to go to Essel World if you were with cousins! “Essel World mein rahoonga main, ghar nahin nahin jaaonga main!” (I never went but always dreamed of going there!)
66) You watched the Bournvita Quiz contest on TV pretty religiously. The smarter ones amongst you actually took part in it and had your entire school and your entire extended families watch you on it!
67) Maggi 2 Minute Noodles = ultimate snack (and tiffin, lunch, dinner)!
68) If you grew up in the early 90s, you recall the nation’s obsession with Mahabharata on TV
69) In the later 90s, you religiously followed Hip Hip Hooray on Zee. Maybe Just Mohabbat on Sony too
70) You remember parzan dastur sayin "JALEBI!!!!" in the Dhara Ad
71) You eagerly awaited Friendship Day, so you could give friendship bands to all your friends, and get bands from them in return. Then, of course, those with the most bands loved to show them off.
72) Backstreet Boys' "Quit Playing Games" was one of the first english songs that you LOVED!
73) Andaz Apna Apna is and most probably will always be your favourite comedy flick!! "Aila Jhakaas!!!"
74) This list made you smile.

And I miss that age, it was sooo awesome! 

PS: I guess with the days in the campus numbered (Hopefully. Prof, you listening/reading I hope), quite a few nostalgic posts about the last five years can also be expected to flow out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dear Mr Yadav

Dear Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav

With all due disrespects, I would have wanted to draw your attention to your infamous sexist remarks in association with the Women's Reservation Bill, but I am sure the media has done that enough. What I would like to ask you, though, with all the politeness that I can muster, is, What the F*** were you trying to say? We are all aware that you are prone to severe bouts of verbal diarrhoea but we had never known it had gone to a terminal stage, you have our sympathies, sire.What can I say about the kind of women who will enter Parliament. The wives and daughters of officers and businessmen, who invite whistles from boys.”, you had proclaimed, after careful thought and deliberation, as you continued to claim. I am sure you have been asked this question a zillion times but, seriously sir, what, in the name of heaven and earth and everything that lies in between, were you trying to imply? Would you care to shed some light on precisely how do you define the kind of women that invite whistles and catcalls from guys? Were you, by any chance, referring to the fact that the likes of you wont be able to stand educated women, the ones who wont blindly follow your instructions? You went ahead to establish a link between increasing the number of seats for women in Parliament and eve-teasing. Is that a confession, Mr Yadav? Are you trying to tell us all that more women in Parliament would actually become an excuse for the male members to salivate and lech? Dear God, I hope not. Your party members, in an effort to come to their dear M(C)P's aid, went a step further saying that what you really meant was that having more women in the governance would render men unemployed and out of sheer frustration they would resort to eve-teasing. (Your verbal diarrhoea seems to be highly contagious, whats worse, it seems to follow some rule of biological magnification upon being passed on). I am confident, sir, that the majority of males in this nation would have been thoroughly embarrassed by this corollary to your original theorem. I am an officer's daughter, Mr Yadav, and I would like to know how exactly my being so would invite catcalls and whistles. By the way, last I checked, you had a daughter-in-law whom you fielded in the bye-elections for the Ferozabad seat. What did she have to say about your little insight?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Missing Slipper

It all began with an article about teen actors minting millions, which reminded Arun of his long-cherished dream of acting in movies, along with his losing 4 pairs of slippers:

Arun: i always wanted to act
even now
 i mean movies
 me: dont worry we'll make one 
 Arun: yeah
 me: cast u in it
 Arun: :yahoome: CTIDES productions present
 Arun: The one and only Arun
 me: in The Missing Slippers
 Arun: sounds gr8
 me: introducing Arun Srivatsan
  and we will need an anorexic female opposite u
 Arun: i need one pseud heroine and a rough villian
  i need dream sequence in Swiss and action sequence in hongkong
i need emma watson for female lead
  i love her
 me: too many ppl do..
  see with swiss n hk budget wud shoot
  didnt Mash teach us to use finances wisely
  Arbit can be the heroine  better to take people from the team, only one girl and 'that' girl doesnt do pretty female roles
n Tarun can play the rough villian
 Arun: pack
  not Arbit
  nice trrry
  surely flop
  remember Mash told
  about selecting a nice team
  Arbit heroine
 me: he can convicne Isha Sharavani to be thr
 Arun: iam not acting
 me: she looks anorexic enuf to suit ur looks
 Arun: dats nice
  my looks demand only emma,
  i will try and adjust with some isha
 me: she wil look fatter than u dude
 Arun: well, in dat case, ok
but atleas as a gueat appearence
  emma shud be thr
  can u see the relation
  emma watson, Arun sriWatson
  me: this will sooo go on my blog
rough hero ke liyeTarun is ok?
 Arun: well, fine..........his bodyguard will be Kartik
  Tarun seems fine..................
  put a black glass on his eyes and some black leather jacket
  give him a pistol
  he wud look
  but ask him to clean shave
 me: and Robo as the mad scientist who tries inventing the algorithm for finding missing slippers
 Arun: oh nice..................and whr r u?
 me: im the director
 Arun: u have to act
  nothing doin
  u must act
 me: all roles taken
 Arun: u can be police officer
  who comes in the end of movie
  u will get a double role
 me: no the CIA director who is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the formula doesnt fall into tarun's hands
 Arun: other one being a comedian
 me: (ironical that i wud work to keep knowledge from tarun)
  na females in comedies.. doesnt work with the audience
  remember the rule KYC: know your customer
 Arun: fair enough............i dint think of itme: so who is the producer
  lsg or mash?
Arun: errr, producer is CTIDES rite?
 me: ctides wud be the banner
  one person wil have to take charge as the producer
 Arun: well, then it shud be Mash
 me: tarun cant- since he is the rough villian (looking like he does is arbit's facebook album)
 Arun: his name is funky
me: ok..funky is good
  plus lsg might not release the movie till a decade
 Arun: dats thr
  So mash be the producer
 me: plus mash's wife can help us with the contracts in exchange for equity
 official legal advisor
 Arun: who will be my mother?  
  i need a mother in the movie
  imp role
need some other young girl
  with lot of makeup
  to look old
  pls pls
 me: ed doesnt have girls sadly
  pick one from our class
 Arun: yeha
  or may be MA
  will also do
me: they'll look like ur daughters re
 Arun: put make up na
 me: the mother wont fit with the script re
 Arun: see it will
  thr will be flash back
  where we will show
  my mother buying that slipper
  and telling me, keep it properly forever
 me: ohhh..senti angle
 Arun: yeah
 me: we will need ekta kapoor on our board of directors
Arun: or the baalika vadhu team
me: we should give chance to our insti talent..
  isha sharvani will drain the budget
  we wil have to compromise on the Maa
 Arun: well pack her
  put MA junta
  they r better
me: dont u need a nice dream sequence in switzerland?
 Arun: for that she will be thr
  other times pack
me: cameo, ah..
 Arun: yeah
  her typical
 me: we'll ask some MA junta to play the Maa
 Arun: MA ?
 me: comeon they wud do fine
 Arun: and yeha,,,dont ask some MA junta............Ask some nice MA junta.................I havemt spoken to MA junta atall,..........so u must do all thr work...............
 me: ma newz has to be a good actress
 dont discount btech
  they might be interested
  lets do one thing
  have a talent hunt
  we will raise spons money thru that
 Arun: i will be thr..............
 me: and get free publicity..bootstrapping
  Mash will be so proud of usArun: one more thing   this summer i wont be available., so shootign in Canada
 me: lets do the dream song in cananda
good locations
  nice snow et al
  and more economical
  switzerland has been used too much
  we need to get innovative location
 Arun: k.............will be cold.................may be freezing................the colder the better
  Vancouver is fine i guess
 me: its settled then
Arun: we will ask cheerleader of the winter olympics to dance behind me and the heroine
  sasta bhi padega
 me: romantic song re..no extras
  they will look like kebab mein haddi
 Arun: romantic song
  i always wanted to do one
watever u say then
 me: deal sealed

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old Label, Gold Label

I have lived in Bhopal since I was six.  It was in this city that I first fell in love, with books. When I had first walked into that shop above, it used to stock only books, and some greeting cards. With time, the shop got a few face-lifts, started retailing all kinds of gift items, music records et al. However, one thing that never changed, over the course of the last sixteen years, was the ability of its proprietor to make book shopping enjoyable. Ever since I started visiting the store to buy those 125-page illustrated abridged classics, he has helped me hunt books. As I grew older, he would recommend books, of various genres, that might be to my liking. Most of all, he knew the books. Despite having not visited for the past couple of years, when I walked into the store a couple of days back, he still remembered me, along with the books I used to like. In Chennai for the past five years, being a life-long bookaholic, I still frequent bookstores. However the experience of shopping for books at Odyssey or Landmark or Crosswords hardly compares to shopping at the bookstores in my hometown. While the range of books is definitely way more exhaustive, I miss the whole personal touch that Variety Gallery or Books World used to offer back home. I miss being asked my opinion on books I have read recently, I miss being offered advice on what to read in a particular genre. But most of all I miss being treated as a fellow book lover.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Let Your Light Shine

My parents once told me of one of the toughest decisions they had taken concerning me, the choice of the school I was to attend. My mom was especially insistent on sending her daughters to a convent school. She said that convent girls had a way of their own. Of course, I never understood exactly what that meant till I graduated from school and joined IIT. Unsurprisingly, one of the people in this place I best connect with, is another convent girl (as we like to call ourselves). Be it the inculcated sense of ethics or the ingrained fearlessness, I have, for some time now, held this belief that convent girls are a class of their own. We were taught to stand up for what we believed in, no matter what the world said. So whether it was spreading awareness to eradicate parthenium or unleashing anti-cracker campaigns, the school stood in support as we chanted together we can, and we will, make a difference. We were encouraged to break the traditionally set boundaries for girls; we were told we did not need to live up to conventional expectations of being docile, quiet and passive. We were pushed to question the known along with the unknown. Simultaneously, we were also brought up to be compassionate and empathetic. The school's idea of a day trip included orphanages and old age homes on at least as many counts as parks and picnic spots. But most important of all, the school taught us to be secular in the real sense of the word. Even today, I feel the same sense of strength and tranquility inside a chapel as I do in a temple (and frankly, the number of instances I have sought the same in  a chapel might be more, given that it was the place we used to turn to right before exams in school). While I was in school, I used to assume that our generation being secular was kind of a given, at least among the educated ones. I was pretty surprised when I realized that wasn't true. Trust me, I have seen educated elite in my institute who laud the massacre in Gujrat despite having borne eyewitness to those gruesome acts. Nearly all of us face that time in life when we think we have hit rock bottom, only to be handed a shovel. In one such  lowest of lows, one of the things that helped me pull through, was my friend telling me, "Remember, you are a convent girl". Its not just about the compulsorily knee-length tunics and plaited hair and chins parallel to the ground signaling that the world is our oyster. It is about how we see ourselves when we look in a mirror; it is about knowing that the world is our oyster.
I will always remember this trip to San Callisto Catacombs on the outskirts of Rome. Nitin and I, both missionary school products, will always associate those twenty minutes, spent three storeys below the grounds, with that strong spiritual thread that made us both remember our school assemblies, the values imparted, and our silent promises to always live up to them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine Specials: Favorite Love Stories

Just like any other kid, I grew up on fairy tales. As my mother and grandmothers tucked me into my bed at night, telling me my favorite bedtime stories, I really did believe that Snow White would wake up when kissed by true love or that Cinderella's prince will certainly come to find her and then they shall live happily ever after. On a different note, though, I do wonder why all fairy tale love stories were named after the damsels and the princes' names weren't even mentioned. Anyways, as I grew up, I did mature enough to realize that there was more to love than a pretty damsel and a valiant prince and an evil stepmother/ogre. That love was not about happily ever afters but more a case of moving to the next set of merely happily while overcoming subsequent stepmothers/ogres. Of course, the love stories I now read were very different from the childhood fairy tales. It were these stories that shaped my ideas about this weird, inexplicable yet amazingly strong feeling called love and also kind of made me fall in love with the idea of being in love. Presenting my top ten favorite love stories (among the ones I have read, of course):
  1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen: I read it first when I was thirteen. My very first understanding of love stems from this book. As I seem to have ranted on previously, Fitzwilliam Darcy was my first love. For the first time in my life, I came to understand love as something deep that develops over time, accompanied by admiration and respect, as opposed to the at first sight tosh fed by the happily ever after fairy tales. Ask any girl who has read it, she would swear by it, and by Mr Darcy.
  2. P.S. I Love You, Cecelia Ahern: There are some love stories that transcend life and death. This is one such story. Holly's life comes to an end after Gerry, her high school sweetheart-turned-husband of six years, dies following a battle with cancer. If only Gerry's love was weak enough to let her give up. Though separated in physical form, Gerry guides his love to adjust to a life without him, helping her live again, laugh again. Makes you realize that some memories might actually be enough to last a lifetime.
  3. A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks: I remember crying buckets at the end of the book. But somehow, I cant recall feeling really sad at the death of the book's central character. The book somehow represented hope and strength derived from love, that doesnt cease even when the one you love ceases to exist. I still dont know what touched me more, Jamie's guidance of the lost soul that was Langdon or Langdon's making sure Jamie had everything she had wished for before she finally goes.
  4. Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul: A collection of heart-warming love stories, contributed by regular people around the world. Seems like every ordinary couple has an extraordinary story behind them. Losing faith in love? Go read any two-page story from the book. And you will find yourself believing in the power of love once again.
  5. 2 States, Chetan Bhagat: Does not qualify as a love story in the real sense of the word. Neither does it explore any kind of deep attachment or profound bonding between its protagonists. But it explores something that only Indians can understand, the whole concept of a marriage not being a union of merely two individuals but some hundred individuals comprising two families, Indian families, implying not just parents but also their parents and their siblings, to the dai ma who changed your diapers to the kaka who used to get you chocolates.
  6. Love Story, Eric Segal: Among the first mature love stories I read. Who has not felt a pang of pain for Oliver when he loses the love of his life Jennifer. That life isnt fair, after all they had so little time together. But what really brought tears to my eyes was the father-son reconciliation at the end of the book. A lot of people have categorized the book as as being diabetes-inducing sweet, but probably for the nostalgia associated or for the fact that I might still want to think of love as being that sweet and simple, it will always figure on my list of favorite love stories.
  7. Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare: Has any talk of great love been complete without a mention of Mr Montague and Miss Capulet? A love story that has been cited as an example for generations. Albeit ending in tragedy, the story gave the term till death do us part a totally different meaning. There was a time I used to wonder why they had to go to all these lengths just to be with each other and why Juliet could not simply settle for Paris. Well, I was a teenager then. Now I appreciate that better.
  8. Notebook, Nicholas Sparks: When I had first come across the words for better or for worse at an acquaintance's wedding, I used to believe it was kind of a given. Never had I understood how bad the worse could get and how deep would the love have to be to sail through a storm that you know can never end in happiness. I do wonder, though, how Nicholas Sparks manages to write love stories which end in tears but still leave your faith in this all powerful emotion cemented even more firmly.
  9. Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer: To what lengths would you go to protect the one you love?  Especially if the one you love could possibly be your favorite meal? And would you be willing to leave your soul behind to be with the one you love? Such has been the impact of Twilight and its sequels that one of my friends had once remarked, "Damn Edward Cullen! Why on earth do all girls demand an Edward-like lover?"
  10. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell: I read the book because my Mom told me that there was no love story as this one. Well, she was right. The book is painted in shades of grey and showcases the bitter side of love. With Scarlett's obsession for Ashley, Rhett's love for Scarlett, Melanie's faith in her husband, this book, set in the backdrop of the American Civil War, makes for a bitter love story, an all time great nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shruti Di

In college, a lot of seniors have these juniors who are like, well younger siblings to them, if not kids. You know, the ones you kind of dote upon,  the ones for whose achievements you feel way happier than you could possibly feel for your own, those kind of juniors. I have been pretty fortunate to have had seniors for whom I was such a junior and I have also had my share of such juniors. Given the placements semester and the speed at which it flew by, it had been a while though since I had caught up with them. When that finally happened, I learnt, within a span of four hours that one of them was in a serious relationship while a couple of others had started working out at the gym, seriously enough to wake up early on Sunday mornings. Well, suddenly felt kind of old and I felt this kids are growing up kind of feeling sweep over me. To top it all, I mentioned it to those juniors as well as to a couple of friends, only to hear that they were not surprised by my reaction and had often seen related flashes in me previously (that doesnt mean I'm entertaining any aunty jokes :-| ). 
When I told my mom of the same, she told me that I had forever been a Shruti Di. That was the name coined for me by most people I knew in the officers' circle. I suppose Shreyas and Tanmay would be the ones who ought to shoulder most of the blame, given they called me Di despite being just few months younger. Of course, then, there was my sister Surabhi, Shreyas' sister and my cousin Sukriti,  and Tanmay's sister, Soumya, who is pretty much like family, considering our parents have known each other for, like, ever. Given the amount of time the six of us spent together, owing to the fact that our three families  practically constituted one unit,  the infinite mehfils (bhopali equivalent of the insti fart sessions), movies, road trips and the like,  can possibly explain that turning into an intrinsically programmed Shruti Di  was, but, natural (that doesn't indicate any tolerance for Di jokes either).
Well, I realize I can't possibly feel complete without feeling that way. Life's simple little things :).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Save Our Tigers

Are we really going to be the nation that would have hunted its own national animal to extinction? Aircel together with WWF has launched a Save Our Tigers campaign hoping to mobilize public opinion in support of the big cat. While public opinion has served as a remarkable means of pressurizing the authorities to ensure justice in past instances, will it be sufficient in this particular case? Is it possible to generate a voice loud enough such that the government is forced to act? And with numbers dwindling at a rate as this, will their action be in time to undo what years of recklessness and greed have done? Having grown up mouthing Suhaib Ilyasi's Remember, together we can, and we will, make a difference, why am I afraid that it might be too late for together now? Why do I have a feeling that I wont be taking my kids to Kanha National Park the way my parents used to take me? That I would have to make do with the city zoo or worse, with documentaries on National Geographic to tell them what this part of their heritage was like. While here I am, worrying if my future kids would get to see what a tiger really looked like, what about the tiger kid whose mother doesn't come back home?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Before I begin, I must admit that like most high school and college girls around the globe, I am completely and irrevocably in love with vampires. In fact, I often have a tough time deciding which among Edward Cullen, Stefan Salvatore and Damon Salvatore should be ranked higher on the hotness scale. Most of my guy friends have adopted a weird habit of cursing all the abovementioned characters. The grapevine says men around the globe are baffled and at a complete loss to fathom the bizarre attraction these undead lethal creatures hold to girls around. They have come up with various hilarious theories for the same including one suggesting that women love vampires because the vampires are perfect depictions of gay guys. Preposterous, right? Guess its time to get a girl's perspective.
The fact that most of these fictitious vampires are described as being nothing short of Greek Gods makes up only the tip of the iceberg. They are also described as having these superhero characteristics, the mind reading,  all the ultimate macho qualities, and top it all with extra dollops of sensitivity..and what do you get..its the perfect guy. Almost all high school movies have shown girls falling for the football team captains. The strong athletic vampires are no different from the typical high school jock who dates the prom queen and is every girl's dream hunk. With a difference, our new hero is empathetic and understanding, he listens, he shares, he even weeps. Be it as Edward or as one of the Salvatore brothers, he would go to any lengths to protect the love of his life, even if it involves putting himself in danger. Come on, which girl wouldn't fall for such a guy. His described lifestyle choice makes him shine out as a good guy, who makes a conscious decision not to be a monster, despite what nature has bestowed upon him, unlike most guys who use  I am a guy, nature made me so as an excuse to get out of any and every thing girls want to do. Of course, we are bedazzled by him. And honestly, which girl has ever come across a guy who would pull back from a girls embrace because he doesn't want to hurt her. Of course, we swoon at him. Add to that the classic allure of the ultimate forbidden romance, he becomes totally irresistible. If only he were real. Call me vampire-struck, you bet!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Choices

Ever wondered if human beings are intrinsically good or bad, rather would they, more often that not, think of their own gain as opposed to someone else's happiness. Paulo Coelho tried exploring this baffling question in his book, The Devil and Miss Prym. And most of us do assume that the answer to the above mentioned questions would be that human beings are rational, marginal thinkers who think of their gains before anything else. What comprises that gain is of course, debatable. Came across the following story and I believe it most certainly deserves to be shared:
What would you do?....you make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: 'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?'
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.' Then he told the following story:
Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'
Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.
Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.
Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'
Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!' As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team. 'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.
Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the 'natural order of things.' So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice: Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?
I remember back in the eighth or ninth grade, Club HP used to air a much loved advertisement about how a simple smile from one of their petrol bunk attendants was transferred from person to person, leaving each one a little happier, no matter how sticky a situation they may be in. Be it Munnabhai's jadoo ki jhappi or Eloise's Christmas joys, we all root for the angelic do-gooders who do nothing superhuman except spreading warmth around them. Then why is it that we choose not to try and incorporate a little of that in our own lives. Have we, in all our progress and development and advancement, forgotten what it was like to be human after all?