Monday, December 08, 2008

Ode to Poker

It's often said that poetry is born out of a sudden spurt of genius. I confirm this to be true. A wholly different and debatable issue could be the quality of poetry produced as result of this sudden burst of 'talent' and 'creativity'. However, I would prefer leaving this issue of quality to the artsy people.
So, here's a hyperbolically exaggerated attempt at poetry; dedicated to that one totally entertaining long night of Poker which brought together seven dementedly bored people under the common umbrella of the crafty and bewitching game :-

The players climbed up the 'mighty' hill,
To test their strategies and skill;
The bugle was sounded at the sight of the moon,
The game wasn't ending anytime soon;

The greatest ever game of card,
Witnessed a battle fierce and hard;
Where every minute seemed like an hour,
Turned into a full fledged Poker war;
Decisions had to be made real quick,
The winner was taking limited risk;
For those who thought it was only ability,
Learnt Poker is more about Probability;

From seven, they were reduced to three,
The winner had them shrouded in total mystery;
And when everyone refused to believe,
He produced the ace up his sleeve;
Battle ended before they could have frowned,
Game over, the king had been crowned;
It was One against 'em All,
And he managed to stand tall;
In this very beautiful game of Poker,
He didn't turn out to be a choker;

Another day might well see a new start ,
Poker after all is Science mixed with art;
The battle was tough, the players all cracking,
A new day, A new winner in the making.

To fellow Poke(r)mons: You all rock! Better luck, next time :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baby's Day Out

For all those who think that kids and babies are sweet, think again! Chance is that you never have had the misfortune of having a baby as a co-traveler. Till a couple of weeks back, i thought that babies and kids were the most adorable (not necessarily innocent) things on this earth. No More.
My perspective on kids and babies has changed and changed for the good. On a recent flight to Delhi from Bombay, i had the chance of sitting next to a mother and her baby who must have been a year old or so. The baby i mean. So there she enters the plane and fumbles through the entrance passage.All this while she somehow manages to hold onto her handbag with one hand and the necessary supplies for the baby in the other. The baby meanwhile very acrobatically manages to hold onto her mother's neck and still, as if by some magic, stops short of suffocating her mother to death. By the time the mother-baby pair manage to wriggle past other passengers and make it to the seat next to me, the mother has managed to drop a few of the items she was carrying and the baby is now almost hanging precariously from the mother's neck. It takes them another five minutes before they finally settle down thereby giving me a chance to go through the contents of a baby's basic-survival-kit. This ofcourse includes the milk bottle with milk dripping from all its sides, some white powdery material which i presume were cookies that have been battered by the baby, the quintessential diapers and a few other things with which i still cannot associate a proper name. Then there are the lego bricks which the baby seems to find more appetising than the bruised cookies; A small plastic zoo-set with plastic animals like the lion with the head missing, the elephant with an amputated leg, the camel without its hump and some other animals which had been distorted beyond recognition. My theory is that the baby will definitely grow upto be a hard core non vegetarian and somehow plastic tastes much better than farex. A few minutes into the flight and the baby decides its time to let her frustration out. To ensure that enough people take note of her frustration, she stands erect on her mother's lap and lets out a shriek that would even put Tarzan's call to shame. The mother, who seems well aware of the kid's tactic just gives me an embarassed smile but does nothing else. Once this ceremonial ritual has been completed the baby settles down into her mother's lap and gets back to her business of spilling the farex from the bottle all around in the name of drinking milk. The mother meanwhile keeps coming up with never-heard-of-before games like "Say hi to the uncle sitting next to you", "Try and sit on the lap of uncle sitting next to you", " Try and hit the uncle sitting next to you with lego bricks", "Spill some farex on the uncle's trousers" and several such variations of the game which the baby lapped up with renewed enthusiasm
. In between, the baby would resort to a lot of scheming and trickery. Every time she seemed to be dozing off, i would heave a sigh of relief and the very next moment i would be hit with a barrage of lego bricks followed by the most cruel of giggles you can ever hear. The gentleman within me would immediately respond with a smile, pick up all the lego bricks and hand it back to the mother so that the kid could resume its business. In return for my kindness and my sportsman spirit, the mother would offer me a few of the battered cookies. Every 15 minutes, with clockwork regularity, the baby would start and cry for exactly 2 minutes and 27 seconds. After which, it would giggle loudly and make mocking faces at me for another 45 seconds. It would then get back to playing its cruel games.
I fervently kept praying for the flight to crash or burn out in mid air but my prayers went unanswered. The ordeal lasted exactly two hours and i could not thank my stars enough when we finally separated

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hitchhiker's Guide to Cooking

Fresh out of college life and trying to start living on your own, one is beset with a wide variety of problems and challenges. But every other challenge dwindles in front of the enormity posed by the challenge of cooking your own food. However easy it might sound, the reality is very different. So, for all newbies who are looking to enter into uncharted waters, here are a few tips (based on personal experience) which might stand them in the long run.
1. The most important thing to understand is that whosoever opined "Too many cooks spoil the broth" was an absolute genius.
2. The concept of learning does not hold true while cooking. You might have cooked an awesome curry yesterday. But if you try to replicate your feat , you might as well end up making a puke-inducing curry today. So, your learnings from yesterday don't really count.
3. Pressure can be a big detrimental factor. Ergo, you must know how to soak in the pressure caused by the high hopes people have from you. Promise only what you can deliver; never over-do
4. Always keep a mobile phone handy. You will need to call your mom every two minutes.
5. Knives and strippers ( i prefer calling them strippers rather than peelers) are more dangerous in real life than they actually seem. Unfortunately, they are indispensable.
6. Cooking is NOT in the genes. But, yes, if your mom is actually not so good a cook (no offence intended), then you better not try!
7. There is something called a safety-valve that comes with a pressure cooker. And btw, people have died in the past due to exploding pressure cookers.
8. When you go to shop for groceries, please remember to purchase burnol(an ointment applied to burns and scalds) as well.
9. Vegetable vendors are the smartest people around. Learn to keep them happy or you might end up eating potatoes that were meant for the municipality trucks.
10. Adding more salt than is necessary is blasphemous. A little less salt never killed anyone
11. N course meals (N=2,3,4,5...) sound very exciting and mouth watering. But that is where the excitement stops. A one course meal isn't all that bad.
12. Onions can be very harmful to your eyes. They go much beyond the spects
13. Exotic food tastes much better when eaten at a restaurant. So, why take risk?
14. Washing utensils doesn't come naturally. But, it can be learnt with practice. And, its also the safest option around. Becoming a pressure-cooker-washing-specialist can also earn you a lot of respect, awe and admiration.
14. Maintain a good relation with any one you can think of. This includes your newspaper-man, the security guard of your building, the nagging bai who does your household chores, your neighbour, your office colleague, your cab driver and anyone you can think of. Who knows; you might get a lunch/dinner invitation

Now, for those who are freshly starting out on their own in the of Pune
1. Spencer's is a nice option to go shopping for your groceries as long as you aren't really looking to buy green vegetables.
2. No one really knows the source of water supplied in the taps at your home. Better be careful!
3. While in Pune, do what the Puneites do. Which is: sit and eat at any place you can think of. This also will save you the trouble of cooking.
4. Pune can be a really boring city if you run out of ideas(although this has got nothing to do with the cooking business)

I don't think a cooking guide of this sort can ever be complete. So, if you happen to read this, please feel free to add/append. All your suggestions are welcome. Also, if you gained anything out of it, please remember to call me home for dinner :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Sinhagadh is about 30 minutes drive from the city of Pune if you happen to travel by the same autorickshaw as we did. Besides being outrageously enterprising which meant driving at speeds in excess of 60 kmph on the very unmotorable roads of Pune, he also gave us frequent demonstrations of his ability to keep his vehicle airborne for several seconds at a go.As if this wasn't entertainment enough, he had turned on the music system which kept dishing out long-forgotten Bollywood numbers from the late 80s. So besides the driver himself, we had the melodius Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan for company throughout the 30 minutes ordeal. By the time we reached the Sinhagadh base camp, we had been mentally wrecked.
Before embarking on this trek, we had consulted a few websites dedicated to trekking in the Sahayadris. And whosoever wrote that the climb should not take more than 45 minutes must have either been heavily doped or must have been totally out of his senses. Even if you discount me, there were still 9 others in my group who could not have made it in 45 minutes. To make matters worse, we decided to take the road less travelled. Consequently, we had to take frequent pit stops on our way to the peak. But this also provided us with the time to reflect on the journey and come up with theories to help people who decide to replicate our feat in future. For those with a financial bent of mind, there are small huts at different points along the ascent which sell nimbu-paani (the desi version of a lemonade). The cost of a glass of lemonade is inversely proportional to the height gained. The higher you get, the smaller is the amount of money you need to shell out for a glass. Second tip would be to never ask a local or someone from the NDA the time it would take to get to the top. For them its always a walk in the park. Plus the sarcastic squirm that comes for free with the reply will make the entire effort of coming all the way to the place an excercise in vain.

Once you have reached the top, the view is a spectacular. Its lush green all around and you can feel yourself walking in the clouds. To add to it, the small huts serving home cooked food. I am not a big foodie and i am not particulalry fond of Marathi food. But the marathi dish called jhunka bhakar (correct me if i am wrong) that we ate in one of the huts had a divine taste.

To go along with it was a red hot chatni which might have been fatal if consumed in moderate quantities. We lived on to tell the tale. And before i forget, we also had the pleasure to of tasting a Japanese desert called Okhabe which is made out of Soyabean and rice.The remnants of what once was Tantia Tope's fortress aren't particularly inviting because there is hardly anything left behind. The only consolation is the fact that you are seeing something that shall forever be a part of history text books.
On our return journey, our team was depleted of 4 members who backed out after the strain of getting to the top proved too much for them. This left us with just 6 people. We decided to take the safest route down. And this might sound chauvinist but we decided to follow a newly married couple (they atleast looked like one) in the hope that the lady would take the easiest route. Luckily, our hunch proved correct and we managed to stalk the couple successfully till the very end. Thereafter, the team was depleted of another four members who went off on their mobikes leaving behind me and a friend to fend for ourselves. The journey back from the basecamp to home was more excruciating than the trek itself. Besides having to change three rickshaws on our way, we had to put up with people who only spoke languages that were alien to us (read: marathi, konkani (i am guessing)). Somehow, we managed to use sign language to communicate with them where a slow nod of the head meant that we were ready to accept whatever price they quoted and a vigorous nod indicated that they should quote a price which is even higher. Any other gesture was taken as a sign of hostility. So we decided to go with the financially unviable but physically safe option of a slow nod of the head.
2 hours and 4 autorickshaws later: broken, bruised,tattered but in one piece; we reached our home safe but not sound.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Au Revoir

This was one examination that shouldn't have ended. The final presentation brought down the curtains on the 5 most fruitful years of my life that i have spent at IIT. In a few days from now, i would be in some other part of the country putting up with the professional grind. And only i know how badly i will miss these days. 5 years of living in the same place, moving around with people whose company i have always craved for and attending lectures in the same building are memories that are now permanently etched somewhere.
Life at IIT may not really be what Chetan Bhagat has made it out to be. But it definitely is different. Inside the campus, there is a whole new world which is very different from the normal Bombay life. Any casual observer might be amazed at the difference in lifestyles. I am not getting into the merits and demerits of leading a different life. But living in IIT has taught me a few things which i fear i might have not learned outside.
I didn't clear the JEE in my first attempt and ended up joining a regional engineering college. But the very first day, i realised that my calling lies elsewhere. Straight out of school where i had a been the quintessential teacher's pet; i was thrown headlong into a world where things were very different. For someone who had grown up on gory tales about college ragging, the first day in the college couldn't have been worse. Some 'dirty' ragging combined with my heightened sense of insecurity meant that i fled from the college at the end of the first day itself. Never to look back. Got through JEE the next year and landed up at IIT Bombay. And life couldn't have been better. No ragging (call me what you may), no unique ways of greeting the seniors, a very healthy student-faculty interaction - i couldn't have possibly asked for more. The highly skewed sex ratio might have been the only minus.
The first two years were spent getting a firm foothold. Befriended plenty of people but had no strong peer group as such. Blame it on the fact that i have lived in so many places,the fact was that i never had a very strong friends circle; the kind you can feel you belong to.
Things started to look better from third year onwards. I developed a strong bonding with a few like minded guys in the department. And the ever elusive friends circle came into existence. I can't believe how much i have learned from them over a very short span of time. They taught me how to enjoy while still being at IIT- going out on treks and similar outings, or just a walk along marine drive when it poured or the advantages of putting up night outs or whiling away time at coffee shack a day before exams. These are pretty simple things which i started enjoying only in their company. Importantly, they regularly put up with my erratic behaviour or totally unnecessary sarcastic jibes either with a hearty laugh or giving it back in equal measure. Fact remains that i enjoyed and learnt so much from each one of them. The best part was having a group of individuals willing to lend an ear to each and every problem i faced. People i could always look upto. And i have never ever craved for a company more than i do now.
Then there were people in the hostel and wing who made life at IIT rather simple, specially by helping me out with acads. These were the people who ensured that i don't end up with backlogs at the end of the day. Frankly speaking, i owe my placement to them.
Not to forget, people from Bombay but not from within IIT. I simply don't have words to thank you people. Some who have been here in Bombay and have helped me with almost everything. Then there are people who have been living in places like Delhi , who made it a point to meet up whenever they landed in Bombay. Despite the fact that i was sometimes guilty of showing a lack of enthusiasm, they insisted on meeting up. And i am so glad they did.From helping me in figuring out the shortest route to Kala Ghoda from Powai to getting me medicines from places as far as Thane, these people have neved backed off from helping me. We have whiled away so many evenings discussing Kafka and Marquez and the sci-fis, debating if Nicholson is God and why and how life at IIT is different. It was an amazing experience interacting with people who showed me that life outside of IIT is equally beautiful and varied.
In a nutshell, IIT life might not be 'cool'. But then it was not for the coolness quotient that we slogged off our asses and burnt the midnight oil. It was the charm and aura of getting branded that made us go through all that rigour. IIT is the most amazing place to be. It deserves every bit of the respect and aura it commands. I am so proud to be associated with the institute and more importantly, with the people. Given a chance, i wouldn't want it any other way.

PS: I am right now going through a whole gamut of emotions. I would have wanted to present this in a much better way. But, even that would have not justified what i felt. I just want to dedicate this to all you guys who actually have ended up shaping my life in IIT. Goodbye, dear friends, you will be sorely missed. Reusing the oft used phrase, You can take me out of IIT but you cannot take the IIT out of me :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bad Hair Day

I like to believe that i have an eye and an ear for the mundane. Before you start making snooty assumptions, this in no way is a virtue. It just helps you to while away your boredom at places where time passes very slowly, minute after slow minute . I have this habit many of you might also have. Getting a hair cut almost every fortnight, almost that is. For people who are perennially cash starved, a barber's shop is the equivalent of a spa salon or sauna bath. This explains my fetish for this fortnightly ritual.
A visit to a barber's shop can turn out to be a pretty boring ritual if you have to contend with a queue of people waiting for their turn. And this is what happened yesterday. A lesser mortal might have given up to return some other day. I decided to persist.
Before i describe what happened hence, i would like to paint a mental picture of the barber shop for your convenience. This shop happens to be the one of the very few in the vicinity of my college campus. Needless to say, poverty stricken students who cannot even afford a peep inside Jawed Habib's gay-but-plush salons, throng this shop in large numbers. The shop has three "rotating chairs" opposite a large mirror. For those who have to wait, there is a large table behind the chairs where five people can sit comfortably and eight people can just fit in when the queue is really large. There are three ceiling fans. Out of these three ceiling fans, one runs at full throttle while the other two groan atleast four times while completing even one rotation. There is a brown colored cupboard in one corner of the room which i presumed was used to store clothes. It was only yesterday that i discovered that it actually is a "television with sliding doors" straight from the 80s when Weston had a monopoly in India. I won't blame you if you haven't heard of Weston. When that television is switched on, you won't get a picture but the raster scan patterns are clearly discernible along with the kind of shrieking sounds that are so common to black and white war movies. Thankfully, there is a radio with a better audio quality. By the time you have successfully managed to figure out which song is being played, the song is already over and you move onto the challenge of cracking the next song. There is a whole assortment of magazines which can fit in the archives of any national museum. There is an issue of sportstar where Deep Dasgupta is rated as the best wicket keeper India has ever produced. Just for your information, he doesn't even figure in the Ranji Trophy squad of Bengal cricket team now. Then, there is this issue of Outlook where the writer goes gaga over Mamta Bannerjee. Mamta Bannerjee, who? Of course, there is an issue of filmstar from yesteryears featuring Mamta Kulkarni on the coverpage in some itsy bitsy costume. I did tell you i have an eye for the mundane.
My attention is distracted from the magazines to the cries of a little girl whose turn has come and who apparently doesn't want to get a hair cut. In an attempt to jump the queue, i volunteer to go ahead and take the girl's place and give the girl an apparently gratifying smile. Only to be silenced by her mother's mind-your-own-business-you-pervert look. Meanwhile, one of the barber is busy attending a call for the last 1o minutes leaving behind a host of harried customers who have already gotten down to the mother-sister level of abuse. Reluctantly, i also join in. The person next to me decides to read the same issue of sportstar that i am reading. So he almost climbs on me in an attempt to keep pace with me. Turning the issue upside down also doesn't help as he adjusts his head accordingly. Defeated, i offer him the issue. He very cordially turns down the offer only to resume reading it again the moment i get back to it. Frustrated, i put that vintage issue of sportstar back in the basket. I look up only to realise that another barber has also left the shop to attend an emergency phone call. This leaves us with only 1 barber and a queue of 7 people. The league of mother-sister gentlemen has already left the shop by now. Left behind are peaceful denizens like me who have enough time to spare. To add further twist to the tale, the only barber left behind seems to be a novice. He keeps fumbling with his instruments and each time he does that, the girl resumes her crying. Realising that i am the last person in the queue, my patience starts to wear thin. I politely ask the barber about the prospect of the return of his colleagues. The barber mumbles back something in Marathi and there is a huge chorus of laughter from everyone inside the shop. Laughter is cathartic. Even the girl stops crying and bursts into peals of laughter. My plea to translate it into Hindi draws another uproar of laughter followed by applauses from the more excited ones. Ego bruised, i get up and leave the shop. Having walked a few steps, i look back. There is even more laughter. And the two barbers are still busy on their phones.
Now, i know how the disgusting habib became The Jawed Habib. He values customer loyalty. The other barbers don't.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Flatter to deceive ?

A recent trip to Prithvi theater was the realisation of a dream that i had cherished for quite some time. The occasion was the Bombay Motley Theater Fest and i was there with a friend to watch one of the plays that was being staged over there. I generally like theater but only when it comes for free. This was different because it had more to do with seeing the famed Prithvi theater once in a lifetime than anything else. I actually ended up shelling out the price of a ticket to watch the play aptly titled Ismat Apa Ke Naam. This was a 'story-telling' session rather than the enactment of the three stories by the famed and much loved, not to say controversial writer Ismat Chugtai.
The audience which had turned up to watch the play looked and behaved like one real giant joint family. Barring the two of us, every person seemed to know everyone else. Apart from the customary handshakes and the almost-bear-hugs (given the size of some of the people who were hugging each other), people greeted and acknowledged each other in ways which were hitherto unknown to me. So, while the others formed groups amongst themselves and very animatedly discussed drama and theater, we contented ourselves by criticising how small Prithvi theater is compared to our college auditorium. One thing that i have always noticed is that when you are a part of an elite gathering, you must-must-must discuss Che Guevara. I don't mind it much. But it becomes an issue when they want to ensure that the entire world standing around them gets to know that they know their two grains worth of the Ernesto. Another topic which is considered even more esoteric is Pablo Neruda and his ideas and the way he used to sleep diagonally across his bed etc. Ok, i made this bit up. But i swear people were actually discussing Che and Neruda. Not ones to be left out, we also got into animated discussions over Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians. Needless to say, the looks that we got from the intelligentsia was of pure disdain and contempt.

I know this will make the puritans squirm . But, we were there in the hope of seeing an exdraordinary dramatic performance from the likes of Naseer Bhai ( Not Naseeruddin Shah, right?), Ratna Pathak Shah and Heeba Shah. Thus, it was a kind of a dampener when we realised that this actually is not a play but a "story telling" performance. There were going to be three different Chugtai's stories that would be narrated by three different people. The first rendition came from Heeba Shah who narrated the story "Chhui Mui" . About the performance: it was nice entertainment. I ended up being terribly impressed by the quality and clarity of Heeba Shah's diction.
The second story was called "Mughal Baccha". The story teller was Ratna Pathak Shah. For me, this was well and truly the performance of the day. Her style of narration was so captivating that you could actually feel the story unfolding before your eyes. The way she varied the pitch, tone and her style as she effortlessly moved on from being one character to another was mesmerising. Plus, the story itself had oodles of humour and wit. Also, i don't have any qualms in admitting that Ratna Shah was looking really beautiful. Having always seen her on the television, i never knew that she is so good looking in real life.
As for the last story, the less said the better. The only saving grace was Naseer Bhai reading out the story. Before the start of this 'play', Naseer had talked a lot about how there was a witch hunt for Ismat Chughtai by people who had branded her as a writer of vulgar and obscence stories when she first started publishing. In conclusion, he told us to decide for ourselves if the stories were actually obscene or 'examples of classy literature'.
My conclusion (Not as if you care): The first two stories were definitely interesting and would have made for a good read for a mature audience. The movie adapation would have nevertheless fetched them an "A" certificate from the Indian censor board. But as far as the last story is concerned, i am still baffled. Who on earth would call it a 'class act'? Or rather, why? If a today's C grade hindi movie script can be yesterday's 'class act', then this surely was a BIG class act. It was titled Gharwali but could as well have been given some other corny suggestive name. Full of cheap dialogues which were lapped up by the elite audience. Not that i am grumbling. At the end of the performance, i was left wondering if the people who come over to watch these plays are actually humour-starved. It was not like i didn't find the plays funny. But, the way people kept bursting into peals of laughter at the end of each dialogue made me wonder if this was also a part of some laughter therapy. Or may be, this is how a regular theater goer who understands nuances of theater and drama, is supposed to react! Or may be, i am too morose.

All said and done, it was worth a watch. It would definitely have helped if Prithvi theater was slightly bigger and had more comfortable seating arrangements. Because, every now and then, you do have a normal, theatrically almost-illiterate guy turning up to try and understand theater and have fun at the same time. Also, a few free passes would be a Godsend :)

PS: For those who actually want a nice, critical review of the plays can visit this link
And, please do it asap before i am asked to remove the link from my blog

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I know this one would qualify as the third most common blog entry on the blogosphere. The commonest and the dumbest would be, "Why i have CHOSEN to be single" or a slight variation of it, which would be something like "My ideal boyfriend/girlfriend/valentine/partner/hubby". Finishing a very close second would be "How i spent my 'today' ". I still haven't blogged on either of them because they have continued to vex me. Words have eluded me whenever i sit down to blog on these topics. Frankly speaking, i am not logical or witty enough to falsely prove that i am single by choice and pretend that i am loving it. And forget 'today'! I hardly do anything in as long a time period(strictly by blogging standards) as a month which is worthy enough to deserve a blog entry. So, I am going to play safe and blog about my life over the last five years. College life that is- something which will end in the next few weeks, if everything goes according to plan and if my guide(professor) doesn't develop a sudden unwarranted affection for me. The best part about writing such a blog entry is that in case you run out of ideas, you can always take a tour of the blogosphere and use some catchy/sentimental pick up lines used by fellow bloggers without even being detected. Let me forewarn you. My college life is in NO way the stuff fairy tales are made up of. So if you are looking for something readable, look elsewhere!
So, like every normal guy, my college life started in my first year as a freshie. As a freshie, i did what most of the other guys did. Other than attending classes quite regularly, i remained confined to my room most of the time. I was mortally scared of my seniors without realising that they were equally scared, if not more, of the freshies. Later on, as my seniority rankings increased, i learned how ungrateful a job it is.
I learned to play table tennis and went on to become a champ in my own small group of people. I started dispensing fundaes and harboured dreams of playing in the inter IITs and thereby landing up a job with Schlumberger (which was the only real big company that i knew of then). You should pardon my lack of knowledge or awareness then. Hailing from a family full of doctors and civil servants, i was the only one who had chosen to enter uncharted waters. Alas! my table tennis dreams lasted only as long as i was a frog in the well. I wasn't bad at studies either. I did put in a decent amount of effort in academics. But the grades that i got somehow failed to reflect the efforts that i had been putting into my academics. And i am not writing this to sound funny or anything. Honestly, i did spend sufficient time studying but somehow always ended up screwing the exams. I am not getting into the gory details of my academic performance for quite obvious reasons.
Second year was no different from the first year. I still continued to behave like a freshie. The only welcome change was that i refused to remain confined to my room any longer. This meant that i moved around the city a lot. And the charm of Mumbai proved to be irresistible. The more i roamed around, stronger became the urge to get more of the city. I became promiscuous in the sense that i started moving around with different groups in the hope of seeing the city as much as possible. In that sense, it worked. Academics naturally took a backseat. Result was that my grades fell to abysmal depths. I flunked a course for the first time in my life. Strangely, i coped with it pretty well. My parents didn't.
Come third year and i wanted to do something different. I started the first ever newsletter of the department along with a few classmates. The newsletter did much better than expected. I started imagining doing a Richard Branson (For the uninitiated, Branson started off his career with a newsletter in his college and the rest is history). That remained an imagination but the newsletter is still going strong. Finally, i also decided to put an end to my promiscuity and stick to a particular group. The results were positive. Academically, i improved. I also got to know a few people who were interested in more than just the academic scene - the 'poltus'. This was the select group of people that stood in each and every election in the institute. If it weren't they, then their proteges stood for these elections. But, not many were bothered. The kind of apolitical institute that IIT is, nobody really gives a damn. On the brighter side, i also a learnt a few small tricks of the trade here and there.
Fourth year was possibly the most enjoyable of all. By now, the bonds of friendship with quite a lot of people had been cemented. I had loads of friends by then. Be it my department group, the institute newspaper Insight group, the hostel group or friends outside of iit. There was groupism everywhere :). But it was all for good! This meant, that now i had a group of some amazing people to look upto. I spent some of the best time of my life in their company. Whether it was going on a trek or a visit to some museum/sea or simply eating out. Or combined studies for that matter. For the first time in life, i did well in academics. I developed a couple of new hobbies. The number of friends outside of the campus also increased which helped me view things in a proper perspective. For example, i realised that we were lucky enough to have scraped through JEE and life outside of IIT would be much more tougher.
Final year has been pretty eventful in the sense that it had been pretty hectic to start off with. Initially, there was this novelty factor associated with the year long project and so i started off by working really hard on it. The sapping placement season came and went. Everyone (including me) got placed. We moved around even more than before. Post placement season life has become unbearably lukkha with hardly anything to do. But i am trying to savor it to the fullest. I know i would long for these days once the professional grind begins. I am just hoping Pune turns out to be atleast as good as Bombay or Delhi.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Life with Grandparents-Part 2

Bhagalpur, by itself, is quite big a city. To be precise, its a district. But physically its more or less a small town still struggling to come to terms with the modern life style. Before I make grander statements about the city, I must admit that whatever i am saying is based on the Bhagalpur that i saw more than ten years back. People change with times. Cities change quicker.
Getting back to Bhagalpur, it was a sleepy city back then. My grandparents lived in the central (and hence the affluent) part of the city which meant that they were amongst the most respected people of the city. Although the house was a single storey building, it was spread on a wide tract of L-shaped land. The house was actually broken into two parts which had been constructed at different points in time. The older slightly dilapidated part had three very simple rooms and a kitchen cum store. The newer building had another three rooms which were aesthetically designed. The Gothic windows were such that the sunlight streamed into the rooms very early making it virtually impossible to sleep beyond 7 in the morning. This ensured that I woke up pretty early in the morning and practically followed my grandmother wherever she went. Consequently i made friends with almost all the families in that small ghettoed neighborhood.
During those days, there were two things i almost always looked forward to in Bhagalpur - the mangoes and the monkeys . Mangoes of Bhagalpur are famous world over and are considered 'export quality'. I can still remember how i would skip my meals so that i could gorge on the mangoes. Honestly, these were and are some of the best mangoes that i have ever eaten. I was always in awe of the monkeys because living in cities meant that i could only see them in the zoos. The monkeys of Bhagalpur were quite huge compared to the monkeys that i saw in the zoos. Frankly speaking, i was shit scared of going anywhere near them. My fear was born on a solid premise though. I hardly remember anything about that incident but i am told that once when i was small, i had been chased by one such monkey for the apples that i was carrying in my hand. Not only did i fall down and get bruised, the monkey also decamped with the entire booty of apples. Since then i have been in mortal fear of all kinds of monkeys. But watching them from a distance always was pure fun. I used to sit patiently on the terrace waiting for the monkeys to make an appearance. Sooner or later, they obliged.
The most remarkable feature about living in Bhagalpur was that the people seemed to lead a contented life. Even if someone was filthy rich, there never was any ostentatious display of wealth. True, that the rich people inhibited colonies that were far removed from the poor, but they never flaunted their wealth. Life invariably began early in the morning and by around 9 pm in the night, the last few shops would also have downed their shutters. Schools were few and most of them were government owned. Barring a couple of decent schools, most of the schools were the saintly-types that are mushrooming with clockwork regularity in every small town and city these days (eg St. Gandhi). Medical and Healthcare facilities were in shambles. For even small complications, people had to be rushed to the either Delhi, Calcutta or Patna. But hardly did anyone cringe. They treated this as an opportunity to visit for-what-were-to-them an el dorado. All kinds of festivals were celebrated with a lot of pomp and gaiety. The mere mention of Holi was good enough to send shivers down the spine. This was Holi of the roughest kind and anyone who joined in was certain to return home bruised and bleeding. Dussehra was an exciting affair as everyone looked forward to attending the 'mela' which was a kind of confluence for performers, acrobats, traders, artisans, magicians from the innumerable villages that surrounded the city. Plus, one could always look forward to the canopies or the 'pandals' that were specially constructed as a temporary home for Goddess Durga. They were constructed to resemble historic monuments like Taj Mahal, Red Fort and even the Eiffel Tower.
Proximity to the Ganges meant that a trip on the boat was always on cards. What fun it always turned out to be! The sad part was that this trip always betokened the end of our stay at Bhagalpur. Within a couple of days we would be on our way back to our city home; which at different points of time would be Jamshedpur, Calcutta , Delhi or Nepal depending on where dad's posting was . And there always would be that lump in the throat :)

Friday, February 01, 2008

So Far Away (Please don't go by the title )

First things first : My comp is back in business after a lay off period of more than a month. This affords me the opportunity to give some much needed attention to my dear blog. And i start off with the tagging business. I had been tagged and it was high time i got rid of the burden of that tag :D
The tag is one of the more interesting tags that i have come across. Best part is that you don't have to think a lot about what to write :)
The rather simple rules are
1. Put your mp3 player on shuffle
2.For each question, press the next button to get your answer
3. You must write the name of the song, no matter what


Have you seen the saucers- Jefferson Airplane (UFO connect, eh? )

When I am gone - 3 Doors Down (So very true :P )

Peaceful Easy Feeling - Eagles (Don't think i am asking for too much, am I?)

Wonderwall - Oasis(hehe)

Summer's gone -Placebo ( Have i already outlived my years on earth :-?)

Somewhere they can't find me -Simon and Garfunkel (I have always shunned well deserved fame :P)

My Friend, My friend -Phish (This is incredibly spooky and i have started to enjoy it)

Lightbulb Sun - Porcupine Tree (Good son, God son!)

Karma Police - Radiohead (Now veering towards spiritualism)

WHAT IS 2+2?
Simple Man -Lynrrd Skynrrd (quite a simple question)

Lend me your comb - Beatles (Sharing everything:D )

Torture Me - RHCP (is it the person i like or dislike ?)

Morning Glory-Oasis (This is the best answer so far ;) )

Hate to say i told you so - The Hives (The kind your mom warned you about, huh?

Born to run - Bruce Springsteen (Can anyone decipher that for me? )

No woman, No cry- Bob Marley (Parents are sympathizers, after all :( )

Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix :))

House of the rising sun - Animals (Will my death be that tragic? )

Faceless Man - Creed (Hobbyless man, u mean? )

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something (My claim to fame-yay!! )

Stormbringer - Deep Purple (Storm in a tea cup :D )

So Far Away- Dire Straits (I don't quite like the title of the post, but whatever)

I won't tag anybody and risk being damned for the rest of my life. Believe me, people can become quite vindictive when it comes down to tagging. So i would leave it to the reader to decide whether he would take up the challenge or not :P