Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I was in the internationals office today, completing one of my many formalities to graduate with my Masters degree. And stupid as it may sound, it was only after I saw official proof on paper - that it struck me - that Well! This is it! I am graduating!!!

For two years, this University was my home - a place that took me in - gave me an enduring education - gave me friends - gave me a job and resurrected me from one of the darkest hollows of my life. And so it was with a little trepidation that I contemplated the idea that I am not going to be a part of this home anymore. That before I knew it - the time had come for me to move on.

And so I am excited - Yes! for sure I am excited. I go to bed - every night - with dreams of me cruising beach side California roads in a two seater sports car - returning to an amazing duplex apartment and preparing for an evening of party - of socials and looking forward to meet some really smart exciting people. But most of all - dream about working at a place where I can find people loving what they do - where I can find people with .......... well - substance.

So I ask myself, 'How do I define - people with substance?' - How would I define myself??

I think when childhood is past and you come to a sense about who you are - what are your abilities - and what do you want to do with your life - is when you should be defined - is the place and time when you get ........... well - substance.

Life - is an amazing journey - that is a favor and a most generous gift - by sheer definition. And so as a receiver of this amazing gift - you need to make a deal - with God - with yourself - with your closest buddy - anyone - but make a deal - which details what you will offer in exchange for receiving this gift - to show that you are not un-grateful - to show that you have substance.

And so I think that each Life should be complemented by its receiver with a promise! A promise to never forget the fidelity to enjoy each moment - to dig deep and find ones own talents - A promise - to paint newer shades of a virtuous personality - to pledge ones allegiance to a set of morals - to truth - to courage - to duty - to integrity. A promise - to acknowledge the pleasures of knowledge bestowed by this world - a promise to make the place you were born in - better - than what it was before you!

I am finishing my thesis right now - and though it may not be a groundbreaking discovery, it certainly is original work - contributing to my field of study and certainly a first step - towards keeping my promise.

And so it is that I decided to dedicate my thesis - to my parents and my sister - to my friends and teachers - and to every person who has pinned his hope on me - to myself - as a first in a series of returns - towards keeping my promise. A promise I made with the 8th grade Science teacher - with my mentor - with my closest friend and buddy - to make the best use of my talents - to drive scientific innovation - to build - to create - to make lives better - to live beyond life - to be remembered in spite of time. And hopefully to inspire someone to do the same!

Life! - Its a promise! Whether you succeed or not - is easy to measure - ask yourself - have you kept your word?

- Sanket K


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

It is Mum ..... Ah Ha Mumbai !

Its been said - 'The observation of a phenomenon ....... changes it!" ....... well its certainly true of Mumbai! I had been here only 8 months ago ...... and in 8 months, this place has changed face again..... May be I wasn't as observant the first time around ..... or may be its the rains that highlighted the changes in the city, but I could noticeably make out the difference.

How do I best describe Mumbai! the mumbai of today, the place I am returning from ....... (this blog is written in transit ....... well to kill time and finish up on some long due assignments) ...... the Mumbai of today is about generation next...... specifically males and females in the age group of 23 - 33 i.e. todays youth ......... its the most visible, influential and defining demographic of the city.

The city's youth wants .... wants and wants........ and they are prepared to slog real slave hard for it. And many if not most are getting it ...... not all of it ..... not exactly the way they want it..... but they are moving forward anyways..... what impressed me most this time around is the omnipresent motivating AMBITION of this demographic..... you pick any individual in this group and ask him/her what is it that they want, what are they working for and I assure you - that you will get a very specific answer.... they are not idealistic or philanthropic ambitions, most of them are materialistic, but they are ambitions none the less.

Some 10 years back, this wasn't the case. Students who did well in their high school got into prestigious colleges and got themselves engineering/ medical degrees and then became successful citizens, the ones who didn't sulked, cursed the system and whiled their time away.
The IT revolution and the emerging BPO changed all that. Suddenly it became possible for these people (and they were many I tell you) to earn good money, and money plays the most important role in this city....... no - these are not gold hungry satyrs ..... money is important and very very essential to the youth..... and for good reason. Let me take a diversion and explain how the young mind works ...... the logic behind the ever increasing need for money... Having experienced the first world for quite some time now, I was able to objectively note the intricate workings of this vicious need circle....

The hallmark of a country's progress is the ratio of resources to demands of its people. It is this ratio that directly projects the standard of living at any place..... In India this ratio is still ..... unfortunately staggeringly short ...... be it any resource, the number of ideal trains ..... as compared to the number of people using it, the number of effective, wide and efficient roads, trafic signals, as compared to the number of vehicles on the street, the square feet of land per person ... which essentially determines individual space, the number of oxygen molecules in the air as compared to the number of nostrils that want to breathe ..... any resource .... its short.... and by a long margin, the likes of which an average first world citizen can never imagine in his existence.

Since the youth cannot fix the resource problem overnight, they try to mitigate its effects .... to whichever extent they can. Train problem can be fixed (partially) if you buy a first class ticket, traffic problem can be made livable .... if you have an air conditioned small car, land problem can be cured if you look for a living place on the outskirts but for all of these solutions to work, you need money! And so the youth is obsessed 24x7 to find new ways of making more money. Why? So they can afford more things, buy better clothes, look sexier, eat better, in general ..... live better...

The resource problem that I mentioned before, is very subtle .... and unconscious .... many people donot realize the reasoning behind their crazy spinning - work your ass off - lives - I am pretty sure, if I had stayed back in Mumbai and joined the working IT class, I would have been in the same boat. Besides, just what is the first world! what should the ratio of resources:people look like ....... you don't get that idea by watching Hollywood movies and Friends ........ you got to taste that luxury first hand to know what you have been missing all this long..... I did, so I noticed....

And so people complete their education and get into working hard .... the harder you work the better results you get, which means ......... yup you guessed it right ..... more MONEY. But I talked to several of my friends ..... married and single ....... and asked them ...... about their reason behind ...... late nights, break neck pace, the malignant work environment ....... and many if not most ...... were without an answer.... I am working, I am earning ......... for what? Am I able to achieve that purpose? Especially with couples, I noticed the amount of quality time they are left with ..... with each other ...... was meager at most..... and most people seemed helpless about improving that ..... the reason ???

I may be wrong, for this is purely my hunch but I think people here are so obsessed and occupied with getting basic necessities of life fulfilled that they lose touch with enjoying life and reasoning about each action they take, why are they doing what they are doing? And is that purpose achieved? If not why not? What can I do to change that? I believe very few people ask themselves this. After a crushing train journey when the 26 yr old female gets down at Thane station, shes greeted with construction sites and mud ponds, with a huge line for an auto, so she stands despite paining legs and gets in ..... when her turn comes (lets not describe the bus journey) ..... gets home where she still has to cook for the day....... tend to her husband ....... same goes for a modern day man who wants to help his wife with everything ..... GOD knows when and how they have sex!

And now please allow me to turn my attention the nursing hatred you have in your mind towards me ...... for bringing out the grey black areas so bluntly. Yup! you are absolutely right, I am criminally apathetic ... and I completely accept your grudge .... of all people who say ...... "You have no right to say a word, when you know the problem, you chose to quit and run to America when you should have stayed and fixed it!" ....... any person saying this is absolutely right.

I came to America to pursue Artificial Intelligence research ..... which frankly, is still an impossible career option in India. I can not live with the thought of not trying to help my own country. The recent Times of India articles for Lead India burnt my heart with the acid of my own guilt. For the moment, I am financially tied to this place.... A day might come when those ties don't exist any more and I would truly face the choice of staying and commenting ..... or returning and helping ....... but till the day - I make that choice ...... all readers are permitted to call me the names, I am sure they have been calling.

My motive behind this article, is to awaken the youth, to the WHY? in their lives. I admire their ambition, I absolutely adore their spirit, but I question how informed they are about the motivations behind their day to day actions.... None the less, Suketu Mehta was right when he desribed Mumbai as the MAXIMUM CITY. ....... .. it truly is!!!


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Monday, August 06, 2007

Summer Times!

Hear one Hear All - A tale of Summer

Summer time is a time

A Time for money
A Time for work
Only I sit all day doin nothin
Working hardly an hours worth

Ah! Its too hot outside ...
The hot breeze makes me tired
I wanna sleep and I woulda sleep
But for the fear of being fired!

Summer Times Summer Times
Easy Easy Easy times
Lazy Lazy Oh! Lazy times

Summer time 's a time

A time to swim
A time to play
A shame its only three months
I want it to Stay Stay Stay!

No snow, no rain ......
The trees green, the skies blue
The days longer,more fun more fun
I don't need another clue!

Summer Times Summer Times
Easy Easy Easy times
Lazy Lazy Oh Lazy times

Summer was a time ...

A time when I went runnin
Time when I learnt guitar
Run and Sing, Run and Sing
Sing with the wind, just sing along.

Guitar and Tennis and movies and partyin
Me was havin fun, Me jst kept goin....
'Til my advisor asked one day ...
"Hey! You - How you doin?"

Summer Times Summer Times
Easy Easy Easy times
Lazy Lazy Oh Lazy times

I pulled this string and I pulled that
Sometimes a note and sometimes a chord
Nothin sounded good....
Seemed the guitar itself was giving - tit for tat

I thought I was learnin
'Til came a day when Kris said himself ...
"You've been a pain and an ache in my head!
Why don't you go, try something else instead!!!"

Summer Times Summer Times
Easy Easy Easy times
Lazy Lazy Oh Lazy times

And so the times are good
And all seems so nice
Yet life 's taught me 'nough
Be strong Be wise

Treasure the memory
Hold the warmth
For there might come a night
So so cold - and so very dark ...

But I Fear not ... the warmth remains inside ....
Of a time so wild - a time so nice ....
Of the Summer of '07
Such sweet times ....

Summer Times Summer Times
Easy Easy Easy times
Lazy Lazy Oh! so Lazy times


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Friday, July 27, 2007

Words of Music.

Theres a lot to say ....... that can never be said,
Ever restless thoughts gathered amongst moistening sheets and pillow covers,
Endless fears blinked back behind skilled eyes,
Fatigue and frustration ejected through calculated and cruel physical excursion,

A perpetual effort to locate the friendlier shades in a life too used to RED,
And hope swims like a deflating buoy with tides pushing it down again and again,
Screaming with each rise .......... No surrender!

The strange things battle does to ones persona .........
Theres no glamor to a battle gone too long ......
Eyes that have seen too much, Heart thats endured horrors beyond its share.........
So what makes it go on ???????
May be its what Kipling said .......
"If you can make your heart and nerve and sinew serve your turn long after they have gone
And so hold on, when theres nothing in you except the Will which says to them hold on!"

There aren't words that can narrate the realms of my sorrow tonight .....
May be music can ........

[Image Credit:: http://www.easyelements.com/image-files/music-brush-set-example-2.jpg]

Dm, Bm, Am ( 1 1 (1212121212) 1) (in a slow strum)
individual strings on Em .......
and Em.

As it is often said .... when words fail ....... music comes to aid.


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Monday, July 23, 2007


Long time ago when Archimedes was asked to identify a fake crown for the king, while taking a bath, he observed that the displacement of water from his tub was proportional to his body volume and thus figured out the way to solve the problem. He ran through the city, naked, shouting ...... EUREKA! I have found it!

Well I have had a sort of similar realization. And although I am not running through the city, naked or otherwise, it is Eureka!

I had a nightmare today......... not that the day was nightmare, the day has barely started, no I woke up sweating, with a racing heart. And as I sat in my bed, pondering .... on what might happen of the nightmare I just had, it dawned upon me. Here I was worried about something that was going to happen even before the day had started. What was wrong with me???

I mean sure, worries and problems on my mind led me to see that nightmare, but then as I cribbed about the state of my life, it dawned on me... Was I really expecting a day when there would be no problems, no worries??? Well, thats never gonna happen now is it?? And I tried to reason ...

The happiest days I remember, were not days when there were no problems, but days when I chose not to dwell upon them. I don't mean to suggest that one should not plan or face problems, but life will present them as and when it seems fit. As a person, you on your own accord doesn't have to pre-pone them....

Problems are going to be there, today, tomorrow and right until the day we die..... rather than worrying about all of it every day, you face what your 24 hours throw at you and try to end the day with a smile... Else all life will sail past you and in the end you will wonder... what went wrong.

So heres a new way to face problems, you need my attention, you come and attack me .... else I'm not gonna think of you...


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Thursday, July 05, 2007


He needed to go there today...... something had happened ..... for as long as he could remember, he had always gone to the sea in moments of doubt, hesitation or when the world was too much to bear. When the shoulders drooped and the head hung low - he went to the sea ..... it never failed to pick up his spirits...... he needed the sea to do its magic again ......

The sea was good to him.... it was peaceful in its violence ........ appealing in its brutality ...... he could sit by the sea and watch the waves for hours together .... thinking everything .... or nothing ..... listen to the sound of crashing water ...... of long lost bird cries ....... observe ...... that crab on the rock ...... bracing itself just at the right moment ....... moving only when the waves rescinded ... its judgment perfect.... the uncanny rhythm of nature ..... that ship on the verge of blending into the horizon ... or watch the endless colors of the evening sky.....

[Image Credit:: http://static.flickr.com/27/58906439_b16c1a14ca_o.jpg]

He thought of Arwen ... the elf maiden .... and Aragon ... the reluctant heir ..... of the time when Aragon returned Arwen's gift of the eternity jewel ...... which Arwen insisted on him keeping .... "It is mine to give whom I wish!" ....... and then she asked ..... "Do you remember the time when we first met? " ....... Aragon says ..."Yes! I thought I had strayed into a dream ...."

" I pledged you my love then ......... And to that I owe ......... I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone!"

He sighed to himself ...... if only such people walked the earth in reality.....

He knew what was coming .... he knew he should face it ...... it was he himself who had provoked it ..... he chose to ..... He wondered what it was about the sea that inspired him.

The crashing waves seemed to answer ... and he explained himself .......

"Take perseverance from the sea ...... it knows ...... hitting the rocks does no good ...... the rocks stand ..... resolute ....... oblivious to its countless attacks .... it knows each attempt will hurt .... but it never gives up ...... a thousand years it may take ...... but even the mighty mountain is diminished and eroded into nothing, through years of persistant corrosion by the sea...

"Take courage from the hill ... resolve from its rock ...... no matter how many waves it has to face ..... it will stand ..... solid and unperturbed .... it may be its end ..... but for a thousand years ... it will stand and fight .... never leaving the battle ... never daunted to face the next wave ......

Take heart from nature ..... my dear ...... O destiny's child ........ rise ......... rise and fight ......... by the tenacity of the sea and the strength of every rock ...... rise and fight!!


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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Words of gold!

Have you ever heard a song and felt it speak to you?? I am sure you have - one point or another... songs have amazing power to make your mood or to soothe you in a way - no friend can. And if the singer does justice to the lyrics..... its magic.

Todays blog is dedicated to an amazing poet - whose songs have so clearly spoken to me .... that I am amazed at how people can write such words. Listen to Atif Aslam sing .... 'Tere Bin ... ' or listen to Kay Kay sing "Bas Ek Pal ...." admire the voice - feel the music - listen - really listen and understand the lyrics ....... you can't write them unless you have been there before ..... for a new comer, Amitabh Verma's lyrics have knocked the socks off me.

Here is Tere Bin's lyrics ...


tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin
lekar yaad teri raaten meri kati - 2
mujhse baaten teri karti hai chaandani
tanha hai tujh bin raaten meri
din mere din ke jaise nahi
tanha badan tanha hai ruh nam meri aankhen rahe
aaja mere ab rubaru
jeena nahi bin tere
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin

kabse aankhen meri raah mein tere bichhi - 2
bhule se hi kahi tu mil jaaye kabhi
bhule na mujhse baaten teri
bheegi hai har pal aankhen meri
kyun saans loon kyun main jiyu
jeena bura sa lage
kyun ho gaya tu bewafaaa mujhko bata de wajah
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin ...
tere bin main yun kaise jiya"

And here is Bas Ek Pal

Bas ek pal mein- 3

Tu ek baar jo pyaar se mujhsko chuley tho har zakhm bhar jayegaa,
Zara ithzaa suun ke dewaane dilki mujhe aapne dilse lagaa...

Tere pyaar mein aise jiyain hum,
Jala hain yeh dil....yeh ankhen hue Nam - 2

Bas Ek Pal....... - 3

Hamare Khayalo mein Khwabaon mein yadhaon mein Bathaon mein rehthe ho tum,
Badaake mein yeh haath chuna jo chahuin tho pal bar mein hothe ho Gum.

Tere pyaar mein aise jiyain hum,
Jala hain yeh dil....yeh ankhen hue Nam - 2

Bas ek pal mein- 3

Sunaah hain Mohabbath ki Thakdeer mein, Likhein hain andherein Ghanee,
Thabi aaj Shayad Sitare Sabi zara saahi roshan hue...

Mere haath ki in Lakeeron mein likhe abhi aur kithne... sitam,
Khafaa Ho gayein hain kushi waqt sey ho rahein hain meherbaan Gam,

Tere pyaar mein aise jiyain hum,
Jala hain yeh dil....yeh ankhen hue Nam - 2

Bas Ek Pal....... - 6

Bas Ek Pal
kaise jiya tere bin ...

Do concentrate on the part I have in Bold. They should speak for themselves ....... so heres me saluting those who have been there
before.... done that .....

Until the next post ..... Salam E' Ishq!! What say you??


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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Of Fear!

Of the many people I have met, I have found very few - who could acknowledge the times when they felt fear. For some reason, people tend to believe that acknowledging fear makes them look weak. I tend to disagree.

First and foremost, 'Fear' is not always a bad thing. It serves a definite purpose. In the process of creating things and massaging our egos as the most intelligent species on the planet, humans often forget their biological origins. At the core - we are still animals, very smart - Yes! but still animals. So I give this example.

[Image reference: http://www.efhbroadband.com/img/question_marks.jpg]

Imagine a deer in an African forest sipping water from a pond. It will do so in very short bursts ... always alert ... twisting its ears this way and that .... listening for the slightest sound ... Oh yes - its afraid of a predator. But this very fear-driven vigilance can make the difference between life and death in the savanna. Fear! protects you from danger... The reflex reaction to an attack is to flee. Its nothing to be ashamed of - its nature's way of protection, its encoded into our genes.

Yet more often than not ... running away is not the best way to deal with danger. Often times - it is to meet danger head on .... Imagine a stag .. being attacked by a leopard ... you may call it stupid ... but wouldn't it be a sight to watch - if the stag instead of running away .. turned around and charged at the leopard itself ??? I bet you anything, it would be the last thing the leopard expects.

Oxford defines courage - as the ability to control fear. Socrates defined Courage - as the ability to do what you feel is right despite the consequences. They are about the most sensible definitions I have encountered.

And in the definition lies the mystery - Why is 'Courage' so rare? The reasons are not so apparent.... But courage demands an action - that is quite opposite to natural instinct. And if anything it is extremely difficult to make the body or the mind do anything against ingrained instinct. Imagine trying to train the stag to confront the Leopard and not run - and you begin to get an idea of how difficult it is.

Yet as with all things, Courage - can be harnessed with practice and patience. It is the knowledge that you can face the Leopard and yet be alive - that liberates the fear. The problem being ... you would actually have to face the Leopard first. And most people can't get past this first stage at all.

And if after doing all that work you find out ... there is no prize other than a narcissistic self glory .... the motivation to cultivate 'Courage' - really gets a setback. Courage can not be harnessed by desire of rewards or honors at the end... it has to be rooted in your moral convictions. In other words you got to be prepared to do the right thing, go through enormous difficulties and consequences, without expecting a reward or recognition.

So why do it? Cos in the end a Man is what he believes in - and if you forfeit your beliefs when times get difficult, you forfeit your self respect. Cos in the end, you will know what you did .... theres no need for awards or medals and recognition. You will know - what you faced and how you reacted - you will be a hero in your own mind. And theres nothing more important than how you perceive yourself.


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Sunday, June 24, 2007

First Love!

It is said that Man was able to recognize music long before he started to recognize words. Strangely though, even today, modern language lacks an adequate definition for the word 'Music'.

I am not going to prevail on the definition of music, the interested audience should read Steven Mithen's - 'The Singing Neanderthals' - which contains beautifully lucid explanations of the importance of music in human intellectual development.

No - this blog is dedicated to my first Guitar. I have always wanted to learn to play Guitar - but conditions back in Bombay for a Science student were - to put it mildly - not conducive to art and music. It is a heart wrenching tragedy of modern day India - that in order for people to get jobs and have a secure future, music or art is not an option. Being from an academic town, my parents strongly opposed me learning anything, that could possibly distract me from my studies. Nothing, I say nothing affects the sanctity of the holy mantra of the Indian education system - "By heart and vomit!" Duh!

It is true that India has produced world class musicians and each year Bombay itself produces more movies than any other similar industry in the world. But for some reason, music still remains to be looked upon more as a hobby than a career.

Seven years and as many time zones later, I got my chance to learn what I want - when I want - the way I want. No supervision - no constraints. And so it happened that in the summer of '07 - I decided that the time had finally come for me to learn Guitar!

I went with my instructor to a local music shop to buy me an instrument. I was relieved, for in all honesty, I could not tell a good guitar from a bad one. We were interested in 3 fender guitars that the shop was offering on sale. My instructor said - they were awesome for the price and great learning instruments. I played all of them and then asked my instructor to judge them. He said - "They are all good. But go for the one that feels best for you." No help - absolutely - I looked in desperation at the choice I was facing - not sure which one to choose. There was a cut-away model which sounded very sweet - and a black beauty - which was more mellow - but a beauty none the less. In desperation I looked around - and asked the waiting store guy - if there was some other instrument in the same price range that I could look at.

He recommended his favorite beginner guitar - they are made by 'Art & Lutheire' - a small company based in Canada. Even from a distance I could tell - this was a very pretty instrument. But the moment I touched it - I fell in love. A&L Guitars are finished with lacquer - which gives them a completely natural feel when you hold them. I was expecting the sound to be as warm as the close grained brown color of the top - I was not disappointed.......

I played it for a while and then gave it to my instructor - wildly hoping and threatening him - that he better not say anything against this beauty - for my heart was set on the piece. To my relief my instructor's judgment conformed with mine and we had an agreement.

The model I bought is an A&L CEDAR - six string acoustic. The guitar cost me 200USD, which I think was real steal. Ever since then, I find myself spending every moment of my free time practicing on this marvel. I found a wealth of information when I researched online. It turns out the close grained CEDAR top is an ideal modern choice for Guitar tops since the grain pattern allows flexibility across the grain - resulting in a fuller sound and puts firm resistance in the direction of the grain - thus easily sustaining string pressure.CEDAR wood also has the virtue of maturing with age - meaning - the sound of the Guitar improves over time. Unlike SPRUCE, CEDAR gives a more mellow, warm and richer tone.

Playing the instrument is a most sensual experience. When my instructor asked me - How do you feel, I replied, "I feel like I'm holding a woman!" The store manager burst out laughing, his head shaking..... he must be thinking - Now thats a lover!

But no jokes, lift this delicate piece and hold it on your lap - the curve fits in perfectly - much like a womans waist - as if it always belonged there. You press it against your body with the plucking hand and run the left down its smooth neck. You caress the strings and let go...... Playing it is like making love....... Its divine.

Not unlike love making, music has the power to heal. In fact, my real motivation to learn Guitar was to harness a more subtle way of expression than writing or poetry. Musician or not I implore you to listen to the open strings of a well tuned Guitar in quick succession - theres no way the sound won't influence you. It feels almost as if the strings don't just resonate in the sound box - but also in your heart.

Learn a Music instrument - it changes your LIFE!


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Satyameva Jayate!

Satyameva Jayate! is the national moto of India. Something that I have been taught since the very beginning of my education. Something that I have believed with all my heart. Simply put - it means 'Truth alone triumphs'.

It brings into light the tragic shortcomings of the Indian education system - a system thats been in place since forever and refuses to adapt to modern changes and realistic idealism. For all that is worth, Truth, is the rarest commodity in India. Given a chance, I would teach the national motto to kids with a caveat - 'Truth alone triumphs ............ in the end.'

So heres me posing a basic conundrum to the 0.1% of readers who would understand this blog. Given that Truth triumphs in the end, we have a choice; to lead a life of principles or to take the shorter conscious free road. A few years ago - I would have said - the shorter route isn't really an option at all. In a way - it isn't - if you truly are a man of principles, then breaking them is never an option.

But it leads me to wonder..... wonder and look at people and friends - who have no such restrictions, people who lie when convenient and live their life until death claims them. Is it really as bad as I would think???

I don't know, on the one hand, you have an entire life of struggle and suffering with glory at the end...... on the other hand, you have a conscious free rich life and earthly pleasures - until one final day - you die.

Principles or not - courage or not - I believe, in the end what matters is - "Of the days you were alive. how many did you spend - happy and content?' ......... and if a consciousfree guy gets to spend his life in a majorly happy state, then I would wish him to remain the same... as opossed to a stupid person - who just blindly believes in Truth - not knowing that the happiness he seeks for in such a way - might take the rest of limited life and make it a living hell.

Any ideas as to which should a person prefer??


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Kaccha Nimbu

[Image Credit: http://www.canet.be/galerie10.htm]

'Kaccha Nimbu' is a concept. To those who are not familiar with it - heres a brief description; 'Kaccha Nimbu' literally means unripe lime - its a term used to refer a kid who either because of age or because of physical injury can not play a sport with other kids on equal terms. Say for example, you got a sprained ankle, but you still want to play dodge ball with your friends, so you take part in the game as a 'Kaccha Nimbu', or theres a kid who is too small to play, small in age, small in his body frame - but the kid still wants to play - and everyone else is big, then you let the kid play as a 'Kaccha Nimbu'.

Being a 'Kaccha Nimbu' offers delightful privileges; if you are playing cricket and you get 'Out' you can still bat one more time, if you are playing carom, you can place your striker any where on the board and hit anything you want, you can even drag the queen piece into your favorite pocket and no one will say anything - "He's kaccha nimbu re!"

As you grow adult, slowly the 'kaccha nimbu' opportunities die away. Till a time comes when you can no longer play as a 'kaccha nimbu'. I just finished my third semester as an international graduate student - having to deal with tedious projects and endless submissions - I was really really wishing some one in my graduate school would let me play 'kaccha nimbu' for the last week of the semester.

There is an archetypal cliche; "No one is perfect" - yet I do not accept this as an excuse for not trying, neither do I tolerate flaws in character under the disguise of so called 'imperfection'. But often times in dealing with an imperfect world, I have been bogged down and frustrated to infinity by the burden of my self imposed rules. And in those times, I wish I can play a 'kaccha nimbu' with my rules. But thou hath not this chance - for thou hath grown up now. And since when were principles negotiable any ways ??

May be it is a force of nature or the imperativeness of age - that lately I have had an insatiable desire to find a partner. At least companionship to start with. Some one who will come to you and say - take a break, some one who will let me be a 'kaccha-nimbu' with her. Some one who would tolerate albeit for a short time. Some one who can understand that subtle and unsaid desire that each person has of being a 'Kaccha-Nimbu' .....


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Thursday, April 26, 2007


The sound is unmistakable .... but it doesn't do justice to what happened ..... a blade is thrust in ... sharp .... very sharp .... body doesn't know what happened ..... until the eye sends an alert on seeing blood .... the horror comes first ..... the pain follows later..... the blade has gone deep .... pulling it out would be more painful than letting it stay in ..... yet some things must be done .... so the blade is pulled ... each microsecond unbearable .... amidst screams ... the body begs to be unconscious ..... as if that wasn't enough ... the blade was poisoned .... ensuring that the wound does not heal ... the skin never grows .... and blood clots only reluctantly ...... yet the body must function .... it does .... but life seems paler than any fathomed death ..... Yet a time comes ... when the same enemy has to be faced again .... all senses beg to run away ... but you hold the legs ... the body struggles against the mind .... the mind forces a submission .... but the energy lost in the struggle tires even before the swords are drawn ..... but you hold the ground ... for retreat is cowardice .... wishing a win ... or at least a dignified end ... but the enemy has neither in mind .... the only target is your un-healed wound ... old - and dark .... the pain potent and alive as if eternal .... and the blade plunges down a familiar path .... the fragile blood clot cannot hold it back .... the body staggers back .... there is no strength to draw the blade out .... so the enemy comes to a sinister aid .... pulling the blade back slowly .... its only then on top of pain ... you recognize that this time the blade isn't poisoned but delivered red hot .... the enemy eases it back through an old wound .... and you see your own blood drying in the red heat .... Will thy end me ? ...... you ask ..... 'Nay!' .... comes back with a laugh .... the eyes close ... in ancient greek ..... SPAZO.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Art of TP.

As any educated civilized person would understand, TP - is true positive. This blog is about the other connotation of TP - Time Pass... No - it doesn't sound virtuous at all. So heres my attempt at proving the virtue and importance of Time Pass.

The only time when I have truly engaged in TP and when it was most beneficial, was - in the monsoon of '98. I was in KJ Somaiya College. Junior College. High School by American standards....

Photograph: http://jambino.blogspot.com/

Let me introduce the characters first ... people as they were more than nine years ago...

There was Rahul, the definition of cheerful. There was Aashish, friendly but queer. There was Chinmay, simple and with a great sense of humour. There was Deepti, spectacled and beautifully uncomplicated and there was Mithila: frank and an unquestionable Babe! And of course me! Each of us brought a new color to the concept of friendship like suspended drops of water forging new colors from youth's sun light.

Everything we did was cool! Our day began at a leisurely hour and we would immediately get in touch with each other on the phone - to co-ordinate our train timings. Fun started from the train journey itself - each person boarding the same compartment one by one as stations progressed. We would all get down at Vidyavihar and walk to campus. I can still remember the dizziness of joy that filled me whenever I entered that campus!

Beyond two large 'iron-grill' gates lay the sprawling Somaiya campus - at the time - it was the largest thing I had seen. The Somaiya campus opens up from the main entrance as two parallel roads leading straight on through to the end with college buildings coming up one by one on the right side. The divider between the roads was lined with mid-sized palm trees. After a recent rain - their hanging leaves would still be dripping - showering the students with fresh monsson water as they entered the campus. Immediately to the left was the "Suruchi" Canteen - on really lazy days - we would directly go in here - to satiate our ever hungry appetites. The 'Suruchi' canteen was cheap and versatile in its menu - more than enough for our junior college needs. Usually we would walk straight ahead. The first right turn ahead - lead us to our classrooms - after the first month of college - I don't recollect taking this turn again. So walk we would .. to the far end of the campus, past the sports grounds on our right till we reached the engineering cafeteria. There was a spot on the left sidewalk just right enough for six people ; this would be our TP base. Once stationed at the base at around 11am, we would dutifully 'time-pass' till it was 6.

On some days, the sidewalk would be wet - and we would tear off pages from our unwritten notebooks and sit on them instead. Our discussions of trivia used to be conducted with utmost honesty and unimaginable humor. Punctuating these discussions regularly were the local coffee(2Rs) and hot Maggie noodles (5Rs).

I still remember Deepti who had a tendency to crawl from one person to another to taste different stuff, tearing her jeans at the knees in the process and causing her parents considerable distress...I remember the innocent satisfaction - I would derive from picking a harmless monsoon earthworm from the damp soil and causing the girls loads of trouble by bringing it in their vicinity. It was the first time we were friends with girls - so often times our discussions would be throughly enlightening. Later in life I have faced a lot of problems because of the early misconception that Somaiya put in our brains - "Girls are usually frank and don't mind open thoughts on all topics" - as it turned out the girls we were with were quite the exception and not at all the rule.

The base was at a fairly low level - grazing the road - so that when people used to pass by - we would have to look up to see who it was. Somewhere around 5pm, the girls from Fashion and MBA used to disperse - and we would (including the 2 girls) - to put it kindly - check them out! Passing lewd comments was OK ... staring open mouthed was OK .... we were kids - in the first year of college .... we were OKed to do these things.

On some days - the idle wind would carry with it strange romours .... "Damodar is on the loose!! Watch out!" ..... Damodar - was the supervising prof - guy who used to ensure - students were in-class and not out! And we would all hide out. On some days we were caught - these were especially funny times - some of us would feign sudden illness - others like me or Rahul would have no respite and Damodar would demand our college id cards. "They are already with you Sir! " we would reply impishly.

Towards the end of the day as our class mates sprang out .. we would casually ask them - as one would ask an old acquaintance - "So! Aaaj kya hua?" (what was covered in class today?) Months would easily slip by ... .. amongst movies and outside food and masti and endless talking and pool tables we would never allocate time to trivial things like studies. UNTIL ..... when the exams came by, and we would scramble to get ourselves in order. Luckily course work was light and I don't remember ever requiring more than a days preparation to get by in the exams. Of course parents would wonder - what was happening to our shining grades from last year..... but thats a whole different can of beans.

Career ..... coming to America! such things weren't in our wildest dreams. We knew serious times lay ahead ... but at the moment we were just content in knowing each others little worlds as throughly as possible. The friendships that were forged by the lasting laughter of that TP, by the moist scent of Mumbai - are by far the most lasting connections I have ever had..... unstained by the passing of time.

Later on in Engineering and now in Masters, I have been fortunate enough to have good friends, but the friendships that endure most were those formed almost a decade ago. I was too innocent to recognize that friendships are also some times formed out of need. We changed as people, we went different ways and pursued different careers ....... but to this day when we meet, we are the same people when we are together.

Duh! Central point of all my blabbering being ..... that there is a time and place in each persons life when TP plays the most important role ...... when TP isnt TP at all. That TP reinforces good health. That TP can some times be the most lasting memory a person would ever have!


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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Best Days?

On a few treasured occasions when I have a free hour to spare, I tend to drift back into memories ..... Memories of times I have had ...... of friends who once used to be my daily hang out group ...... of times when I knew no care..... of times when I was free ... free to do whatever I liked - whenever I liked .... free to dream endlessly .......and I think those were my best days.

In junior college, I had absolutely no responsibility. Well not technically, but rather - I took nothing seriously. Academics weren't difficult enough to make us study before the examination night. I had a fun college group - four guys two girls. We used to get up each day with the thought of "How best to enjoy our time together? What shall we do today??? " .... I had money alloted to me for emergencies (trains cease to work? that kind of thing) and I used to use it conscious free for such serious activities as playing pool, watching movies, eating road-side delicacies and so on. Birthdays of friends, a friendship day in college, an inter-cultural festival ... or simply dining out ..... these were sacred holy occasions for my adolescent mind.

Right now - I have to worry about 17 issues and phone bills in the most relaxed time I can imagine. And so I would tend to think those were my best days. ....

Then came Engineering - which transformed me into a serious student. For the first time, I worked hard towards what I wanted. And then amidst countless assignments, never ending semester pressure and bone crushing train travel, I had discovered the rhythm of living Mumbai. My class became a part of me. We used to live and sleep on the campus.... we made it our home. Our successes were glorified because we enjoyed them together, our losses were softened because we suffered them together. Even today, I can recollect clearly - that evening when we bid farewell to our four year home and nest ...... in each one of us there was the same thought ..... "Where would lives take us now?" .... "Whats in store??" .... I couldn't wait to find out.. And then I think it was the single most time when I matured as a student and befriended my ambition - yet there was the luxury of home to rest in - care of my class which was my family. And I think the Engineering Days were the best days of my life....

And then I realize that the best days are never over ... that at each stage life has to offer some thing new - some thing fresh..

Yes, it is true that a graduate student's life in the US is nothing but work. After juggling nine credits of mandatory course work and 20 hrs of weekly job, cooking and laundry and grocery shopping and paying bills while cleaning the apartment seems an accomplishment. Then there is the chaotic social life - a result of placing young, homesick, overworked, single men and women within hormone-influencing radius of one another. And then there is a unique madness that one gets to observe as these people try to - - love, make love and live their lives all at the same time.

But truly speaking, I love it. I love having to manage my own finances, struggling to fit everything into the single pay check I get every month, to do justice to the (maybe misplaced) faith and confidence of friends and teachers - that I am a capable mind.

In my 14 months as a graduate student, I have grown to see --- sunny skies and soft green lawns. I have worked ........... each summer day in the anticipation of the evening ...... when I would go for a run on my campus ... and come up the slopes to see vast, green fields bathed in the setting sun .... to lay exhausted, breathing on mother earth ..... to watch my body's imprint on the grass ... and then to turn and see an endless sky spread out, changing colors ... with the early star peeping out ... to recover my heart beat and sit up to look at tall, majestic mountains in the distance ... and I thank my destiny .... and I think .. the best days may not be done yet! That there are hidden treasures and unforgettable joys .... yet to come. That growing up ... its .... its earned!


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007


It was 30 minutes past 2am - the 11th of January 2007 - I was returning to the U.S. after a most relaxing vacation in India. SAD - I was very very sad at the thought of departing my dear friends, parents and my beloved city. So hanging my head low - I was proceeding through the pre-flight formalities of an international airport .... little did I know that the night would be the most memorable night of my life.

As I was proceeding through the security checks - I observed a sudden commotion and a strange buzz amongst the airport officials. I did not pay any more attention to it and moved on. At the Mumbai international airport - there is a long white corridor from the security check area and the boarding gates, it has a plain wall on one side and a glass wall on the other from where you can see the external of the airport. Alongside the glass windows are seats for passengers to sit on and figure out their purpose in life. So, thats what I did. I was re-arranging all important travel documents in my passport case. As I looked up I saw someone - I didnt believe it - thought it was a joke - so I turned my attention back to the passport and glanced back up again - she was there again! My face assumed an involuntary expression of "Is it really you???" - She must have seen this expression on many faces - since she nodded as if to confirm an affirmative on the question I was fumbling to ask.

With the knowledge that it WAS really her, my heart beat tripled and the whole body started shaking. The conversation (or lack of it) that I had with her is sufficient evidence of how shocked I was ..

Me : "Hello, Ma'am!"

She: "Hello" (smiles - O Maan what a smile!)

(5 seconds pause) - I didnt know what to say

Me : "I am a huge fan of you - Ma'am!"

She : (smiles again, closing her eyes) "Thankyou so(ooo) much!"

Hearing it - I was so happy - I cannot describe. She was dressed just like a regular girl - black t-shirt (short sleeves), 3/4th blue jeans and black sandals. Her glowing fair complexion provided a most sensual contrast with her shirt - jeans - hair and O yes her round red teeka. Yup! They always perform an aarti and put a teeka - when one of these gems leave India.

Her face! Her face was all too familiar - but I saw for the first time in person - why is it that She was so adored. Her eyebrows were shapely and neat. Her face had a glow - like the light of a thousand moons emerging from inside. Her nose - her nose was straight - wonderfully delicate. Her lips - full and exquisite - like the color of a million roses caught in the prime of their youth. Her eyes! Yes! I had admired them since a kid - Green and Grey - deep - with intricate fibers of life - moist like a fresh morning dew - big yet not too much - with loooong eye lashes. The oval of her face perfectly encompassed in the canopy of smooth dark shining and flowing hair. Yes - She was perfection itself.

The most dominating feeling that one gets after seeing her is reverence. You don't go giddy and crazy - you get frightened with overflowing respect - respect for Nature - for God for creation - How could someone be made so perfect???

In presence of such beauty - stupid jokes and mundane questions hold no place.

Me: "Ok. Ma'am - I will go now"

She: (smiles - doesn't say anything)

I go past her - but hurriedly come back.

Me: "Ma'am - noone's gonna believe this."

She: (laughs! O Maaan - it was sincere fresh like a spring of clear water rushing over new stones, soil grass and leaf.)

Me: "Will you sign something for me?"

She: "Sure"

Me offers her my passport wallet. Obviously she can't sign my passport, neither my boarding pass. I look in despair for a piece of paper.

Luckily though my brains had stopped long back - hers hadn't.

She: "Here - Let me sign the inside of your Jet Airways jacket (boarding pass jacket) so that it will remain with you. What's your name?"

Me: "Sanket" (Thank God I got that right!)

She signs as her partner (Abshishek Bacchan) joins her. I relalize my time with her is over. I gratefully and gingerly collect the jacket. "Thankyou soo much Ma'am."

And off she went.....

320 minutes and 32,000 feet later I still had trouble controlling my heart beat and believing that such an incredible thing had really happened with me.

An Oceans strength cannot be described by saying that it can rip ships apart and can destroy entire cities. You need to swim in the ocean and feel its power to understand how truly magnificent and powerful nature is. Saying that Mount Everest is 30 thousand feet high - doesn't give you an idea of what the concept is - you need to stand at its base and see its peaks rising one above the other - higher and higher to understand a little of what it is. Saying that the Grand Canyon is truly grand and that its entire span cannot be captured in one sight doesn't give you an idea you need to actually try it and fail and try again and realize that no matter how hard you try you cannot fit it into one view.

In a similar way saying She is beautiful or incredible or heavenly or divine doesn't do her justice. What She looks like is beyond the skills of language to describe. Its a phenomenon - you get it when you see it.

Often times, since that incident I have thought - it was all a dream and that it never happened. But then I retrieve my Jet Airways jacket and sure enough I believe it happened. Cos inside my jacket written with my parker black ink pen - in her own hand are the words ....




Aishwarya Rai
(Jan '07)


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