Part2: Calcutta Diaries…

Before you proceed, if you haven’t read the first part yet, here’s the link for the first part Click Here.

It’s going to be a long day but I am excited after looking forward to today’s itinerary. So let’s not waste time and head to Kumortuli to have some dossier of information on artisans of the potters’ colony in North Calcutta. By virtue of their artistic and creative creations their clay idols supplied especially during the Durga Pujo on Dussehra is exported overseas too.

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Their idols are mostly ordered well in advance and their clientele includes Indian communities living in America, Europe and Africa. For a record, this colony supplies idols to around 90 countries worldwide with new countries adding each year.Their creations gives greatest joy to Calcutta(The City of Joy) by transforming crude structure of clay to a beautiful, mesmerizing bedecked Bengali bridesque Goddess Durga. No wonder, this colony is one of the seven wonders of Calcutta.

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During Pujo, these idols are supplied to countless pandals all over Calcutta. That their creation is going to leave Calcutta in awe and admiration for the entire duration of the festival and even beyond that is of no consequence to them as it is a just a means of survival to these talented and very skilled artisans, most of them creating these idols since a long long time. Needless to say, I was in awe of this place and their great artistic skills.

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Self note: Have to visit Calcutta and this colony during Pujo.

Next stop is Jorasanko Thakur Bari (meaning House of Thakurs(Tagore)) in a place called Jorasanko in North Calcutta. It is the house in which Calcutta’s and India’s pride-Rabindranath Tagore was born and spent most of his childhood. He was the most celebrated poet(Indian National Anthem was his creation along with the national anthem of Bangladesh) and first non European Nobel laureate.

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It was an exhilarating experience to visit this place and to know more about one of India’s jewels who contributed immensely in literature,art,music among other things. His legacy endures in several of his works on display here which is very well maintained and also in Visva Bharati University founded by him in Santiniketan.

Self note: A visit to Santiniketan when next time in Bengal.

I am a foodie and I am on a see food diet- I mean see the food and eat without much adieu 😛 A satisfying meal will only do good at this stage. So lets move to Peter Cat restaurant in Park Street where they serve a dish called “Chelo Kababs”- The protected regional product of West Bengal. A dish consisting of mutton kababs-the best I had ever had, perfectly cooked egg, juicy chicken, butter and aromatic rice. Such a perfect meal. Touché.

Lets now move to Eden Garden reminiscing about the memorable matches played here in this very ground. Who can forget tat famous victory on this ground during Australian tour of India in 2001. Laxman’s and Dravid’s epic partnership, Harbhajan’s hat rick and moreover India’s unreal comeback into the match and then to wrap up the series in Chennai. Unbelievable to say the least….

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Calcutta has very unique facilities unlike some cities with respect to their public transport- Yellow colored cabs, cycle rickshaw, underground Calcutta metro and most fascinating of them all- Calcutta trams(mini trains on the road along with the other vehicles on the road). Have a look

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Calcutta Metro is the first underground metro rail system system in India operational since 1984. Those Rickshaw walas are one of the most hard working people around toiling hard in the sun for their bread and butter. The Calcutta tram is currently the only operating tram in India and the oldest operating tram in Asia running since 1902.

Let’s stroll now to Princep Ghat and the ever so magnificent Victoria Memorial before we head for the dinner.

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The Victoria Memorial, a large marble structure built between 1906 and 1921 is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. It is now a museum and a major tourist destination by the bank of Hooghly river.

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It’s dinner time to end a fabulous day and what better way to end it by having Hilsa fish-probably the best fish in town. Bengalis love their fish and can swear by fish and I ain’t any different in this matter 😉

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With this the city tour in Calcutta comes to an end. An awesome time and sheer joy in the city of joy. However, I will share my experiences with very interesting and unique Bengali wedding in my next post. Until next time we meet, Be Good,Do Good and Keep Smiling 🙂

P.S: On my last day in Calcutta, early morning when I was listening to music in shuffle mode, coincidentally this beautiful song by Hemant Kumar cropped up which sumps up my visit quite brilliantly.

Part1: Calcutta Diaries

Calcutta(now known as Kolkata)-the City of Joy is a fabulous city to live in, love at first sight you see. I was there for a mere 4 days which was not at all enough to see the uniqueness and intricacies of walking in the city with a perfect mixture of modern and heritage buildings,reminiscing about the yesteryear India. But I tried my very best to visit most of the places in my spare time and this blog post is entirely based on my experiences with the city and not influenced by anything else.

Calcutta has always fascinated me since I was a kid because of its rich history(served as the capital of India under the British Raj),sporting culture(Bengalis love their football and cricket),art forms whether its literature or cinema(Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray are in itself an institution) and above all Bengali sweet(Anyone here who don’t like RossoGulla?? Handful isn’t it?). I wanted to visit Calcutta at some point of time and having couple of Bengali friends did help my cause.One of my close friends decided to marry and thus I planned to visit the city and above all know more about Bengali culture especially their unique style of marriage which is quite different from marriages seen in Southern India.

Before we get the ball rolling with our city tour,let’s start our day with a cup of tea and a newspaper.

Tea by Road side on a kulhar(earthy mug)
Tea by Road side on a kulhar(earthy mug)
The Telegraph
The Telegraph

Our first pit stop would be a visit to Dakshineswar temple in Barrackpore.

Dakshineswar Kali Temple
Dakshineswar Kali Temple

Dakshineswar is a Kali temple built between 1847 and 1855 by Rani Rashmoni. Along with the Kali temple, we have 12 Shiva temples(lingas) and a RadhaKrishna temple situated along the Vivekananda Setu(Bridge) on the East bank of Hooghly River.The presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning, ‘She who liberates Her devotees from the ocean of existence’.

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Vivekananda Sethu

Ramakrishna Paramahasamha, the saint of 19th century, regarded as incarnation of God, set his base here in Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna formed a group of spiritual aspirants which later paved the way for the formation of Ramakrishna Mission. Interestingly,before this temple was built, Nawabs of Chitpur used to hunt tigers in Dakshineswar.

12 different Shiva temple(Lingas)
12 different Shiva temples(Lingas)

Now that we have seen the beautiful Dakshineswar, let’s head to Belur Math on the other side i.e. west banks of Hooghly river. It is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission founded by his disciple Swami Vivekananda. This site was carefully chosen by Vivekananda on the banks of holy Ganges(Hooghly) such that a clear view of Dakshineswar and Cossipore- the two important places related to Sri Ramakrishna could be seen which add to its sanctity.

Belur Math is known for its splendid architecture and devotees want to develop inner appreciation of thought through this unique and beautiful architecture. On the day of my visit, it was 180th birthday celebration of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahasamha and visitors, devotees,media were sprawling from all corners of the world.

Self note:Visit this place when there is less crowd and more peace.

Belur Math
Belur Math

It seems like I am hungry now, so let’s have an early meal. And here in Calcutta, no meals is complete without fish. So let’s try the Bhetki fish from a Bengali food chain.

Bhetki fish curry
Bhetki fish curry
Mouth watering prawns curry
Mouth watering prawns curry.
Bengali Thali
Bengali Thali

Now lets stroll to St. Paul’s Cathedral-The Mother Church of the diocese of Calcutta in the church of North India.Let’s gulp some RossoGollas as we get there and a bakery of N C Das- Creator of the iconic Bengali sweetmeat is the place to be. The RossoGolla(highly nutritious,easily digestible and truly a drooling affair) was born in 1868 in a moment of sublime inspiration.

Self note: Get some stock of this sweet rhapsody before leaving to Bengaluru.

As we enter the church and get to admire this magnificent architecture with all its past glory we have come to an end of this journey for today.Excited and curious as ever to visit Kumortuli-potters’ colony in North Calcutta where they create artistic clay idols especially for Durga Pujo, Eden Garden’s Mecca of Cricket in India,Jorasanko Thakur Bari-Ancestral home of Tagore family, ever so magnificent Victoria Memorial,Calcutta’s very own tram and metro ride,Prinsep Ghat-one of the oldest recreational spots of Calcutta.

It has been a great time in Calcutta so far. Hope you enjoyed it too.

Lets meet again soon. Until then, Keep Smiling 🙂

P.S: Day started with darshan of Goddess Kali in Dakshineswar followed by Belur Math on the other side of Ganges. Bought some books on Swami Vivekananda and a book on architecture of Belur Math. Then a sumptuous lunch in Bedouin-Sher-E-Bengal in Gariahat.Some saree(Dhakai Jaamdani-traditional Bengali saari) shopping for mom and then a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, Academy of Fine Arts and Nandan-West Bengal Film Centre.

Looking forward for more….

P.P.S: Here in this post, Calcutta(old name of the city) is used instead of Kolkata as someone rightly said “Kolkata is a city whereas Calcutta is a emotion”.

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral

Jab We Met…

We were a bunch of friends studying in school in the same class. School was fun and life was much simpler then. Major hurdle would be completing homework which we would anyways handle as we were motivated enough to get our hands dirty on the playground after finishing off our homework asap. We loved Cricket and given an opportunity(Saturday second half and whole of Sunday apart from evenings on weekdays) we were seen only on playground playing cricket whether it’s scorching heat, pouring rain or shivering cold. We only knew we had to win matches somehow (albeit cheating in some instances 😉 ) and thus win bets for extra chocolates and ice candies. Rest didn’t matter for us.

Gully cricket was common pastime in my society as it was in many localities during early 90s. And we had teams from one locality playing against team from other locality quite often in tournaments. Ours was a good team and out of around 10 teams we even were champions once during one such tournaments. Gone are those days were we used to sweat it out in the sun, get drenched in the rain and never get tired enjoying the game to the fullest unlike today were we are busy playing only virtual games on mobiles and elsewhere.

Now life is complicated with less time and more work/worries/pressure/expectations etc etc. Almost everyone we meet looks dissatisfied and no one seems to be happy/contented. In order to relive those golden memories,we friends decided to meet up at a common place. Some of our friends were settled outside India, barring those others who made this great dream cricket team along with some of the other friends decided to meet at a friend’s flat in Bangalore. Some of the friends joined from Mumbai and Chennai, I was based in Pune and most of them were settled in Bangalore. It was a long weekend for most of us and we decided to complete our pending work well in advance to make us available for this weekend meet. We were glad that everyone could make it.

After a tiring overnight journey,upon reaching Bangalore,I called up my friend where everyone was supposed to meet up for brunch. I did knew his exact home address but for the fact that it was at a exotic location some 5 kms diversion from Bannerghatta Main Road, couldn’t locate his flat. Upon calling him,I was told to wait at a landmark so that he could pick me up to his flat. As I was waiting,I saw a car coming towards me,4 of them with their faces covered seated on the car. As it stopped in front of me, everyone (except the driver), came towards me and caught hold of me forcibly and pushed me inside the car. I couldn’t believe what panned out as it happened suddenly. Was I kidnapped?? Holy shit!! Yes, I was kidnapped in an isolated place.The road was clear and no one seemed to be passing by to get any outside help.My mouth was covered now after being threatened and told to hand over my RayBan,iPod, smartphone and wallet. However their voice sounded familiar and while handing out my wallet, I forcibly removed cloth covering the face of one of the guys. As I had guessed right he turned out to be our batting opener who used to get out first almost every time. On the other side was our fast bowler Shoaib who looked fearsome with his pace and look. The one driving the car was our captain, a middle order batsman who used to capitalize the start given by top order batsman and take us to the driver’s seat quite often. Beside the driver was our mystery spinner Phirki (mastermind behind this act)who used to spin the ball both ways and even deceived me this time with his googly by drawing me in front and getting me out plumb to make us laugh about it later.

As we reached our friend’s place still laughing about this incident, we were greeted by rest of our team-all rounder Golu(everything was round about him) who would also be our gol keeper oops wicket keeper, Little Master(another opener Sachin look alike), twins Waughle brothers and power hitter ShaktiMaan.So it was about time to party. The host aka Phirki had prepared Chicken Biryani along with some veg delicacies for vegans. No one cared about IPL which was coming on TV but went on to share their cricketing memories during school days. Stories started with imitating strange batting stances of our friends,the level of cheating we managed during a game to get an extra ice cream, how we innovated new ways to loose a match which should have been won quite easily, how we managed to run after breaking noisy neighbor’s glass window,argue for hours about a potential run out without replays, complain about stomach pain or anything of that sort just after getting out to avoid fielding under a violent sun etc etc. Topic gradually changed to school in general with stories related to first crush and subsequent crushes 😛 (We were stunned after hearing some confessions. I think I need to write separately sometime later on this topic 😉 ),how we tricked our teacher to get more marks, about the person we hated the most in school,how we managed to write the exam after getting panic attack when the paper which was leaked didn’t show up during the exam, tricks we perfected to copy during exams,unique characters with some strange and peculiar habits in school,imitating our teachers and some of our fellow friends, misadventures during tuition classes, big fights among our friends for silly reasons,school picnic stories etc etc. Now stories slowly changed to current scenario like how f**ked up our boss was if not our job,how some of them maintained their girlfriends so successfully and it ended when marriage topic cropped up. We argued whether marriage was start of a new beginning or beginning of a new end, how life changes with marriage blah blah blah. Some of our players were clean bowled(read married) and others including me were proud to be not out.

The next time I checked my watch, it was 8pm and it was time to leave. Never realized how time flies during good times and we had helluva good time.

Until next time,be good,do good and keep smiling 🙂

History Repeats…

I was in 9th grade, an above average student,loved Mathematics and Cricket. If Math was fun, Social Studies was more fun because of my favorite and sabka favorite teacher. I loved history, found geography and economics interesting and hated civics from the bottom of my heart. I was fortunate to have Sir “B” (the Biggest & Greatest B) as my Social  Science Studies(SST) teacher for 2 years(Let’s call him just Sir as I don’t want to take names. My school friends know exactly whom I am talking about).In short,it was an epic encounter. Ours was a silver jubilee batch(25th batch) and our History Sir had served the school as much as the history of our school lasted.He was a gold medalist and didn’t show off an inch when he was teaching us 😛 (My school friends will better understand what does this exactly means).

Lets plunge into epic encounters we had with him.

-I write a lot of fictional stuff these days and I was first introduced to fiction by Sir.While teaching us about life in Thar Desert or for that matter in India Pakistan border, Sir used to start like this-When I went to India Pakistan Border….. eh, really? and we used to laugh abruptly which would make him shout.Even though he said a plain lie,he would convince us by his stories and we used to lol and rofl. Once he told he went to South Africa. Everyone shouted ho ho ho… Then he quickly changed his statement that his friend had visited SA.

-He wore spectacles and to maintain it, he had to clean it daily in the class.To save time & to make efficient usage of available resources, he used to clean his nose too. He had a very unique way to clean his nose and mouth with the same handkerchief- Yuck!! Another lol moment..

-Ours being a Christian school,we had lot of fathers,sisters and brothers. One such father was our English teacher who was our Principal too. When he used to roam around verandah and if he passed by our class and if SST was going on, Sir would sense that much before anyone else and stretch the words in his speech whatever he was saying and make it look more convincing. On first instance we didn’t get the reason for this change in his accent but later we realized it.(Talk of Impression? We learned a lesson here. Hehe)

-When he was teaching, suddenly if he found anything interesting outside the window,he used to stare it for so long that everybody in the class would look towards the window and then knowing that we were also staring,he used to shout ‘Don’t fool around’ (his punch dialogue) and we used to laugh.

– For whole of 9th/10th grade,no one read SST from standard book. We had a standard guide book- Diamond Guide!! I can picture that right away and smell the pages. Even though we didn’t read anything it would be difficult to pass in other subjects but not with SST. Here a below average student could also score well provided you wrote stories well. In our school days, Kaho Na Pyar Hai was a massive hit and everyone had seen it multiple times. So here was the funda everyone applied without copying in the exam. Read the question multiple times, Stretch your mind to understand it and write something about it in first two lines by trying to be relevant, save some of the stuff in last two lines and sandwich Kaho Na Pyar Hai or any other movie story in between first and last two lines. Believe me it would work like a charm, Every Time. (You know, we were innovative with our stories, a serious relevant topic would suddenly turn romantic,some coherent stories would make a good film 😛 Lesson on Business storytelling here. Mind your own business & convey your message with your own creative narrative. LOL)

-Sometimes if we were lucky we would get the questions before the exams too. Sir used to set question paper in the class. We had a monitor who had to write name of the students who were talking in the class wen Sir was resting on his desk. When Sir used to set the paper from diamond guide, monitor used to go beside the desk and secretly note down the page number pretending he is monitoring the class. Others had only one job, to turn the pages and quickly note down the questions.Everyone had personal copy of diamond guide and when monitor used to signal us the page number we used to mark the questions.We turned the pages of the guide in sync with that of Sir’s as we believed a guru and shishya should be on same page while conversing 😛

– If you forgot homework of other subjects, SST was the class to be. On one such class,someone had borrowed my Math notes and was completing his homework in SST class. Someone complained this to Sir upon which he got angry and took only my notes to the staff room. I went behind him to get it. He knew we used to make fun of him so he told me to say sorry to every teacher present in the staff room. My math teacher saved me by borrowing my notes from his hand and handing it to me.(Yeah,you guessed it right-We had great grasping power. Could do SST and Math simultaneously :P)

-If anyone was made to read a new lesson aloud in front of class it was understood that the lesson was taught.(Yeah u read it right.We were fast learners :P)

-He had some favorites (read bakras) in the class who were made scapegoats more often. If class sounded like a fish market(along with bakras :P) he used to shout taking that fav. student’s name. One day, that student was absent in the class but our Sir didn’t fail to shout his name when the class was loud 😛 That’s called making noise in the class, making your presence felt even though you are absent…

– He had a habit of removing his footwear when he was seated on his desk. Guys from first bench would stretch their leg to get his footwear and pass it on till last bench and the next scene when he gets up from his slumber was never to be missed 😛

In Grade 10, he was our class teacher. We had a ball as the day started with his class. One fine day, he said open page number 40 from the text book. Everyone shouted page 45 Sirrrrrr……. to which he got very angry and hit the person sitting on the first bench 😛

-If he remembered by any chance, he used to suddenly announce in the class to complete all Q&A from SST in our ‘to be made’ notebook. We used to avoid it and on last resort used to complete all Q&A with answers not more than 2 lines.(You know, we were smart)

PS: NOM to any person involved. It’s just my version of the story. It’s not that we always made fun,we did study during our boards seriously. Learning should be fun and that was my biggest learning.

Thank You SIR!!

Keep Smiling 🙂

A Love Story…

“Baar baar aati hai mujhko madhur yaad bachpan teri…gaya le gaya tu jeevan ki sabse mast khushi meri”

Those were the days. Those were the days of 90s when we were of school going age. School was fun and very eventful. Cream shirt, maroon shorts/skirt, maroon striped tie, a colorful school bag, a tiffin box with our favorite dish and a funky water bottle was the way we carried ourselves. Except Wednesdays when it was color dress, meaning, u can wear any dress of your choice and on Saturdays it was all white attire with white canvas shoes.Vividly remember, doing all sorts of adventures with white chalks to make the canvas shoes turn white from shades of brown. If at all you missed wearing tie, belt, shoes you were liable for hafta to be given to special students called as cabinet leaders. A good day earning would fetch them many ice candies and chocolates. 😛 These cabinet leaders reported to the School Prime Leader(SPL).On Saturdays, there would be couple of exercises along with a march- past with the school band, as I write this, I can listen to the band 🙂 The SPL along with cabinet leaders would stand upfront and show us the moves as the band came into action. Every school day started with morning prayers in an assembly on the ground and ended with a national anthem in class over intercom. During assembly, every person stood as per his/her height class wise. After morning prayer, to be adept with current affairs, each person as per roll number was supposed to read out the news from a newspaper to the whole gathering. There was certain protocol(read rule) to start the news-“The news. Deccan Herald”, Nothing more, nothing less than this 😛 Sundays was meant for TV and Cricket. Those were the days when world saw the brilliance of Sachin Tendulkar on a cricket field emulating or even getting past the original little master Sunil Gavaskar. DD1 was the only TV channel available which later led to the emergence of cable channels Zee and Sony. Friday night was the time when a relatively new Hindi film was aired on TV. Those were the days when Sunday evening 4 pm was the only time a regional cinema (read Kannada) would be telecast. I used to look forward in bated breath with my grandmother to check which film would be screened that day readying ourselves for tea. If it turned out to be a RajKumar or Anant Nag starrer (our favorite stars), we would be delighted. That was the time when likes of Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam ruled the music charts. Along with film music, pop albums coexisted and were quite popular.

Those were the days when Shakti-Shakti-Shaktimaan was the only superhero we knew. Every villain in real life was Tamraj Kilvish and every sorry to our parents/friends sounded as “Sorry ShaktiMaan”!! We enjoyed our movies whether it’s Johnny Lever’s comedy, Madhuri Dixit’s smile/dance, Sanjay Dutt’s KhalNayak act, Govinda’s comedy/dance,Sharukh Khan’s romance/negative characters, Kader Khan’s comic timing, Nana Patekar’s Krantiveer act, Salman Khan’s Hum Aapke hai Kaun, Akshay Kumar’s action sequences, Sunny Deol’s high pitch dialogues(Jab yeh dhai kilo ka haath kisi pe padta hai na … toh aadmi uthta nahi … utth jata hai 😛 ), Sooraj Bharjatiya’s family drama, Rahul Roy’s Aashiqui, Kajol’s versatility, A R Rahman’s music,various convincing characters played by Amrish Puri, Paresh Rawal, Anupam Kher, Shakti Kapoor and last but not the least Sunil Shetty’s HaiHuku HaiHuku Hai Hai 😛

Unlike today we played various games on the ground by getting our hands dirty (literally) especially cricket irrespective of scorching heat, pouring rain or chilling weather. Those were the days where we were glued to TV video games like Mario, Contra, Road Rash and handheld brick games when we were indoors. Also those card games, remember? Those Big Fun chewing gum were bought like crazy so that we could get those free trump cards on WWF and Cricket. We enjoyed even the ads that came up on TV- Rahul Dravid’s Jam Jam Jammy, a Japanese saying in his accent Suzuki Samurai, No Problem, A devil as a brand ambassador for Onida TV, Preity Zinta dancing to Laa..Laa la laaaa in Liril ad, tat cute kid’s mouthwatering expression on the mention of Jalebiiiiiiii from Dhara cooking oil, Humara Bajaj and off course Sabki pasand Nirma, Washing Powder Nirma. Those were the days when exceptional TV programs like Surabhi staring Renuka Shahane , Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, longest running film based TV program-Chitrahaar, a detective series called as TehkiKaat with Sam D’Silva as protagonist, MahaBharath (bought India standstill every Sunday at 11am), Rajit Kapur’s Byomkesh Bakshi, Ashok Saraf’s Hum Paanch, Annu Kapoor’s Antakshari, Alif Laila, Chandrakantha,Vikram Bethal, Shankar Nag’s Malgudi Days on the works of R.K.Narayan, Philips Top 10, Sonu Nigam’s Sa Re Ga Ma, Pankaj Kapur’s Office Office, Ramsay Brother’s Zee Horror Show entertained us. Not to forget CID which is still running I guess. Daya yeh darwaza thodo!! Hehe. Those were the days, those were the days of 90s. 

I was in 5th grade then. An average student, mischievous at times with flair in mathematics. Apart from playing cricket, movies was my favorite pastime. I loved mostly the romantic ones especially the first half where it was a done deal that hero and heroine would unite. During those times there came a film called Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (in short DDLJ) which broke all the stereotypes. It was appreciated for its freshness and amazing chemistry between lead actors Shahrukh Khan and Kajol. I loved that film, so did everyone else. I never missed watching it again whenever it was aired on TV. Since then I idolized SRK and even called myself ‘Raj’ every time anyone asked my name. There was a certain Simran in my class. No there was no gal called Simran but I called one of gal so, because I was Raj. Whenever I would see her, more often than not, a tune would ring in my head- Tujhe Dekha toh yeh Jaana Sanam, Pyaar Hota Hai Deewana Sanam. She was cute and sweet and I think she also found me charming. I guess she fell in love with me in the pit created by my dimples. SRK had one, so did I. We used to show our love to each other by exchanging letters. Yeah u read it right, letters- LOVE letters. We were so immature and sweet then. We were not spoilt by cell phones and its offerings like Facebook or WhatsApp.

When we were afraid to speak one to one, we used to pour out our feelings on a paper even though it’s a simple thank you or a sorry. Now that we were in same class we used to sit together on same bench. Traditionally I was a back bencher but I didn’t mind sitting beside her on first bench. Whenever anyone tried to sit beside her I used to fight with them to retain ‘that’ place. Now sitting on the same bench we used to talk continuously, giggle and occasionally gossip. Also we used to share our tiffin during lunch break. During tiffin, we used to play a game where no one reveals what dish is there in his/her box and the other person has to guess. If he/she succeeds, well and good and if anyone fails, he/she has to do a task which the other person wishes. Once I was told to rap like Baba Sehgal or dance like Prabhu Deva. That was fun, real fun. We were happy in our own world. Her house was nearby school. I used to walk along with her and carry her heavy bag after school to drop her. Now that we were in our respective homes we used to miss each other. Luckily we knew their family- they were family friends. Her dad’s office was near our home. So to meet me in the name of ‘homework’, she used to go to her dad’s office and come to my place. When teacher used to give loads of homework, we used to be happier unlike others. 😛

Once she told me she wanted to learn to ride bicycle. My dad had bought me a new one recently and I decided to teach her on a ground nearby. After lot of practice, falling sometimes on the ground, she finally learnt to ride a bicycle. She was indebted to me and treated me a cola drink. She decided to buy 2 colas, but I blurted out a filmi dialogue saying “Dost ek hi bottle se cola peeyenge isse dosti badthi hai” and ended up drinking a single cola with 2 straws. 😛

Once there was a singing competition in our school and both of us had participated. She was a better singer though with a beautiful voice like that of Shreya Ghoshal at 10. It was auditions and we had a bunch of participants from different divisions coming to our class for singing. Competition was tough as we were competing with 7th grade students too. It was my turn and I had carefully thought of the song that I will sing. I began singing- Mein Toh Raste Se Jaa Raha tha( te te te taun), Mein Toh Bhel Puri Kha Raha tha (te te te taun), Mein Toh ladki ghuma raha tha ( looking at her ) 😉 Raste Se Jaa Raha tha, Bhelpuri Kha Raha tha, Ladki Ghuma Raha tha. Tujko Mirchi Lagi toh mein kya karun.(Looking at the audience with a bit of dance 🙂 ) Tujko Mirchi Lagi toh mein kya karun and she was the first one to clap and cheer me up as others joined for applause. Then it was her turn. And she put every one of us in trance by singing my favorite song from Saajan looking fixedly at me- Bahut Pyaar Karte Hai Tumko Sanam. Kasam Chahiye Lelo Khudha Ki Kasam. I just realized she finished it when audience clapped continuously to a thundering applause. Without any hesitation, the judges declared her as the winner. She got a huge Dairy Milk as a prize which we both shared after classes. She kept the wrapper too in her notebook intact for memories. 

One fine day she became our class monitor. There was a rule in our class-If anyone found talking and his/her name written by the monitor on the blackboard he/she would get a punishment. Punishment was he/she would get a tight slap from the monitor in the presence of teacher and the whole class. That day I purposefully talked and giggled with my other neighbor. She wrote my name on blackboard even though I was special to her as she was honest and I being honest with myself, accepted a slap from her gracefully. She hit me but ‘pyaar se’ unlike others who got a real slap. I was happy but she was hurt. She did not get the courage to say sorry so she wrote a sorry poem on a piece of paper and passed it to me. The poem read-

You were talking so much like you’re a bible reader.

I not like punishing but I was the leader

So had to slap you but I was very worry

Please don’t stop talking, I am sorry

Now I am a software engineer working in a MNC. Its weekend and I find myself lazy on my couch. I switch on the TV and find DDLJ is on air. All memories come rushing in. You ask me where is my Simran? She is happily married to Kuljeet with 2 kids.

P.S: The first thing that would pop up in your mind- Is this my story? Answer is a big NO. This is purely a fictional story, an inspiration from varied experiences.

There is one such person…

Prologue: Dedicated to all my school/college friends.

There is one such person who always comes first in class.
There is one such person who everyone falls for.
There is one such person who is a bookworm.
There is one such person who is good in all sports.
There is one such person who is filthy rich and has many girlfriends/boyfriends.
There is one such person who makes you wonder how he/she can attract opposite sex even though he/she looks dumb.
There is one such person who is miser at highest level you could ever imagine.
There is one such person who comes late to school/college every time.
There is one such person who is always a back bencher.
There is one such person who is always a first bencher.
There is one such person who is a body builder.
There is one such person who looks like a fashion model.
There is one such person who is a chatterbox.
There is one such person who is always seen in a library.
There is one such person who cannot be seen in a library.
There is one such person who is every teacher’s favorite.
There is one such person who has a very good memory.
There is one such person who is victim of everyone’s leg pulling.
There is one such person who has a singer’s voice.
There is one such person with dancing shoes.
There is one such person with smelling socks.
There is one such person seen always with headphones blaring.
There is one such person who does everything except studies.
There is one such person who does not do anything except studies.
There is one such person who is seen with a particular person always.
There is one such person who is always speeding on his/her bike.
There is one such person who is always involved in an accident.
There is one such person with a cute smile.
There is one such person who has a crush on his teacher.
There is one such person who always lies.
There is one such person who is in love with someone-one way.
There is one such person who is in love with someone-mutual but without parent’s approval.
There is one such person who mugs up just about everything.
There is one such person who cannot be seen in jeans.
There is one such person who has latest bike in the town.
There is one such person who is regular to classes.
There is one such person who always overreacts.
There is one such person who imitates others.
There is one such person who always prefers unlimited food.
There is one such person who looks like someone else in class.
There is one such person who you don’t like to be with.
There is one such person who always deals with double meaning.
There is one such person who always gets punished by a teacher.
There is one such person who is always smiling.
There is one such person who is weight conscious.
There is one such person who is artistic.
There is one such person who is always on phone.
There is one such person who gets drunk often.
There is one such person who does not have a nick name.
There is one such person who always hogs the limelight.
There is one such person who always completes homework by referring other’s notes.
There is one such person who does Physics on a History class.
There is one such person who always copies during exams.
There is one such person who has a neat handwriting.
And there is one such person i.e. me who can write all such nonsense.

P.S: If you have survived till here, would love to hear your feedback.

Cheers,
Harsha

Pic courtesy: depositphotos

A year gone by…

April 14,2010 will be etched in my memory for a long long time,thanks to Mr.Ambedkar.

April 10th,2010: After successful completion of 5 months of training in Infosys Mysore,finally I headed to Bangalore as I was posted there much to my desire. Training days in Mysore campus was unforgettable. A place where I believe is the best place after getting out from engineering college and before plunging to make a career in IT world. Till date I long for those days,those night outs to clear next day’s exam, late night birthday parties in food courts, playing any sports  just after moving out from class after giving last attendance(mandatory hai isliye karna padta hai),to catch up a film on weekends in the multiplex(I remember I had to stand in the queue for 2nd instance, for 4 hours in all,to get the tickets of 3 idiots after I didn’t get tickets on 1st instance),competing with friends to score highest in bowling alley(once I deliberately didn’t throw the ball up to the mark in last 2 rounds to avoid giving treat to all friends on being the highest),after 12am IPL matches repeat  highlights in the room the list goes on. Simply put as Bryan Adams would put it,those were the best days of my life. After 5 months of training and being posted to Infosys Bangalore,here I was in Mysore railway station to board a train to capital city. I was with 2 other friends,one who was to accompany me to Bangalore campus and other had to travel to Chandigarh from Bangalore. The ride was smooth sitting on AC compartment. The time was spent reading magazines(bought to take full advantage of allowances offered),listening to music and calling friends. After 3 hours I was in Bangalore-the city I love the most.

Since we were 3 of them we had to move huge luggages of our belongings from train to the platform. We thought we would pass each of the luggages one by one. After moving all the luggages we stood for a while for crowd to disperse so that we could catch a taxi. After 10 minutes or so,the train began to gather pace to head towards Chennai.Just when the train had covered a fair distance and the platform was empty I realised that one of my suitcases was not present.Oh shit,Did i miss it?Then I realised that since there was no space to keep the suitcase near our seat,I had kept it some distance away from where we were sitting,because of which I forgot to unload from the train. That bag was precious not because it had gold in it but it had 22 years of my life in it- All original documents of my mark sheets and degree certificate and all the files was present in the suitcase. How could I miss it? At first instance we thought we would contact the nearest station master to take care of this bag and we would move there to collect it. Dropping the plan, thinking it would be time consuming and risky we thought of other plans. I was running out of ideas. Suddenly I realised there was a class mate of mine travelling to Chennai on the same train. I happen to talk to him(if I am not wrong for the 2nd time in 5 months)in Mysore station as we were waiting for the train before coming to Blore. Since I was not that close to him I didn’t had his cell number and somehow managed to get his number from a common friend.I described the compartment where I was sitting on the train and where I kept the bag giving all sorts of explanation about the bag. He managed to find it with some struggle. At last a sigh of relief!! I told him to take my bag to his compartment and keep along with him. I was in constant touch for next 1 hr or so while moving on a taxi to Bangalore campus. He being new to Chennai and for the reason that he had 6-7 bags to carry he told that he will give my bag to his other friend travelling along with him to Chennai to take it to his home. I told I will call in some time to guide him to send that bag back to me. Now that the bag was found I had to somehow get that bag from Chennai. I thought of all possible options to come to a conclusion to acquire that bag from my friends based in Chennai. My friend went on to say that he would get surely but only on the next weekend. I would not have waited for 7 long days worrying about the bag, I was not bothered about the lost clothes but original documents was my main concern. Since I had just joined Bangalore office,I was skeptical about getting leave in 1-2 days. For next 2-3 days I was in constant touch with friend’s friend who had kept my bag in his house in Chennai.

April 14th,2010: Then came April 14th -a holiday in Infosys Bangalore  thanks to Mr.Ambedkar, I realised it was best option to go myself to Chennai to acquire my lost bag.So there I was travelling to Chennai in a not so good frame of mind. Only the sight of the bag could brighten me at that stage. I boarded a 10.30 bus to Chennai only to reach there at 5 am. Chennai was very new to me and for the fact that I didn’t sleep  last night, I thought that I should catch some sleep in a nearby lodge before moving to the friend’s friend place because going at 5.00 am to friend’s place was not an option. I didn’t even knew how that friend’s friend looked, only thing was that I had his number and house address which I was told was near to bus-stand.Then after getting fresh in the hotel room and skipping breakfast(as bag was only on my mind), I thought of hiring a auto to his place. I was charged Rs100 for a 2-3 km ride on a prepaid auto(the auto driver convinced the pre-paid fare collector to charge 100 even though it was well under 3km range  when I denied to come in his auto). After fighting with him(no use since he was talking only Tamil and I didn’t know Tamil) I somehow reached the destination written on the address slip. It was 9.00 am and sun was violent with temperature touching only 36 degrees. I had to walk some distance to reach tat friend’s place.After seeing me sweating I was offered water and some special sweet(as it was Tamil new year). I told him to show my bag before anything else. Strange thoughts began to creep in my mind like-What if he picked the wrong bag which didn’t belong to me?What if the documents were not present in the bag?The sweet which I was offered began to taste sweeter as I saw my own bag with all the neatly kept documents in it. I  was thrilled to get my bag back.When you get back anything which is lost your joy has no bound. I spent next 30 minutes or so talking casually about the weather,Chennai DC(Development Center) and Tamil New year. I started complaining it is very hot in Chennai (After all I was coming from cool Blore). I was told that it was just a start to summer and 36 degrees in Chennai was normal by any stretch of imagination. So it was time to leave and thanked the friend whole-heartedly for taking care of my valuable bag.I had a quick lunch to board bus to Bangalore now in a happier mood.

All is well that ends well.

P.S: Never ever in my life I had misplaced or lost something valuable thing like this.But after this incident I have become more aware of my belongings. My parents were unaware of all this drama only to laugh after hearing the whole story.

Luck By Chance…

It’s everyone’s perception that whenever anyone is at his peak of his career he is being termed as “LUCKY”. Yes, Luck plays its part, but its one’s sheer perseverance and dedication that counts to take him to the top of his game.If you work hard luck will be on your side. Scientists before Archimedes had entered bath-tubs and apples had fallen on the heads of people sitting under trees. But it was left to Archimedes to discover the law of specific gravity and to Newton to formulate the three laws of motion. Napolean had thousands of leaders in his army yet why did he alone become the Emperor of France? These were the people who led significant lives which were useful to society not by their luck but by their dedication towards work. Take the example of Abhishek Bachchan. When he stormed into film industry every one quoted him saying “Yeh toh bade baap ka beta hai, Kitna lucky hai”. Yes, dad’s influence made his job easier to pursue his career in film industry but luck alone did not make him what he is today. When he gave a series of flops to start with, everyone questioned his acting ability. But his commitment towards acting made him a lot better actor to give some of the biggest hits in Bollywood.(Guru and Bluffmaster being my favourites)

But this is not what I want to write about. My main concern is how to gain self-esteem to improve one’s chances in one’s life.

* One should listen to their gut feelings which are normally right. The best example here would be that of M.S.Dhoni. Being an Indian Cricket team captain he is bound to take risks by taking some tough decisions. But what is best part of him is that he works as according to his instincts and gives no second thoughts. Otherwise who would have thought of giving a chance to newcomer like Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over by backing him in 2020 finals to win a WORLD CUP for India

* One should be open to new experiences and breaking his normal routine. New experiences do teach us something good and to think out of box. Also it rejuvenates by making us do something different than our daily routine and one will be refreshed to take up another challenging task.

* One should spend some moments of the day remembering things that went well so that we feel confident about ourselves.

* One should visualize himself being lucky before any important meeting or a telephone call so that we can make the most of it.

We must all realize that we have been entrusted by God to achieve something in our lives. Yeah,Luck plays a part but one cannot solely depend on luck. God will help you only when you help yourself.

P.S: This article was written way back in 2008 during my engineering days for college magazine which never got printed…

Pic courtesy: netflix.com