Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Loss of Humanity

Photo courtesy: Being Indian facebook page
I was at office when I heard about the terrorist attack at a school at Peshawar. My newsfeed was flooded with reports of the attack – each report increasing the death toll. My eyes welled up on seeing the images of corpses of children being carried, wailing mothers beating their hearts holding the body of their dead children…such horrific images!

When I caught up with the news later it was reported that more than a hundred children have been slaughtered. How could they? These children who went to school in the morning, their parents sending them off with no clue that they will never come back….if they had known that it was the last time they will see their precious ones would they have hugged a little longer, would they have kissed them one last time? How could these mindless fools just walk away after killing an entire classroom? Their hands soiled with the bloods of these innocent children – is this the revenge they wanted? Yet they shamelessly claimed that they did it for revenge…as though it was some achievement. Such are the words of the brainwashed minds trained to believe that such barbaric acts are in the name of religion.

Even as the whole world condemn this act, my heart cant get over with the image of this blood soiled shoe of a little girl. She must have looked like an angel wearing the clean white shoe and now what remains are the remnants of blood and violence as the whole world grieves on the loss of humanity. I pray for you little angel. When children become the victim of violence and abuse, the future of mankind is at stake. We have a huge price to say. Whether it is the Peshawar attack or 26/11 attacks at Mumbai or the recent bomb blasts at Imphal which killed labourers, every act of terror is an act of cowardice. Violence is not the answer to any of your damn problems. Every time humanity loses, we have to remind ourselves that we live in this world so devoid of love. Since when did we lose our conscience in the midst of all these reckless dreams that we chase?

As we express our grief, our prayers and shock over the victims of every life lost in violence, let us make an attempt to make life better for people around us in the least significant way we can. We are so caught up in our own battles inside that we really don’t care that the other person sitting next to you or the person whom you chose to ignore is also fighting as hard as you are. Just a smile or a kind word is all it takes. What we really need is a little bit more love!

Peshawar we grieve with you. May you find the strength to move on. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Lost and Found

I used to see him every day on my way to office. It has been almost a month. I would hurriedly walk past strangers stealing quick glances at my watch. And there he used to sit under an Ashoka tree on a rugged jute sheet, on what used to be a bag I think. He was an old man with unkempt grey hair, unshaven and his shirt was stitched together in parts. He would neatly put in line a few shoe laces, a leather piece or two; a few bottles of shoe polish and on his side is a radio that hummed old Hindi songs. Often I used to notice him humming along, adjusting his old glasses as he mended a shoe. I would smile and walk past him. Every day he would be in the same spot sometimes too engrossed in his work to notice the passers-by, at times, he would be tuning the channels of the radio or merely looking at strangers jostling away unaware of his existence, his mysterious brown eyes looking far away as though he was thinking of someone.

I am not sure if he knew me or if he realised that I used to slow down my pace as I approached him only to stride faster as I walked past him.  I did not know why…may be he inspired me in ways I can never comprehend, as he cope up with this city just as I was struggling my way through, may be it was sheer respect. I don’t know. I do not know where he came from. I used to see him only in the morning. Is he a thousand miles away from home just as I am? Does he also yearn to be at home? Does he earn enough to support his family? Does he even have a family? I would wonder the few minutes he comes in my life every day and the thoughts would fade away as he disappeared out of sight.

And then the rain came. It had been a rather hot and dry July. My friends had asked if I wanted to go for a movie but I wished to stay back, enjoy the view of the rain from my window as I catch up with the book I am reading. My thoughts drifted away and I remembered the old man and wondered where he might be. I hoped to see him the next day. A new day dawned. As I stepped out of Hauz Khas metro station, it was drizzling. I took out my umbrella and started walking towards my office. I was searching for the old man from a distance, carefully placing my feet so as not to step on the muddy puddle along the pavement, but he was nowhere in sight. The place where he used to sit was empty except for a few wet leaves and twigs that lay nonchalantly. I reached the spot and stood there for a few seconds looking around if he was nearby. He wasn’t there. I left the spot, a hint of disappointment and worry. Is he sick? What happened to him? Will be come again? I brushed aside my thoughts and began my daily ordeal. The next day he didn’t show up again and so did the next and the day after that. He was missing the entire week. I felt uneasy. I just wanted to have an assurance that he was fine. The week ended with no sight of him. I could not believe that I was actually missing him. I felt as though I had lost a friend…a friend whom I had not even said “Hi”.

Monday came and I silently hoped that I would see him. The sky was clear and everything around seemed cleansed by the recent rains. As I walked in the pedestrian pavement I saw from a distance “my” old man arranging his kit, sitting in the same spot and all his tools placed just the way it used to be.  A wide grin plastered on my face and I walked swiftly towards him and stood in front of him. I gasped. He looked up to me. I just smiled and said “Namaste uncle”. He said “Namaste beta”. I just stood there…my happiness profound on seeing him. He raised an eyebrow as if to say “What’s next?” I did not know what next to do or say. Should I tell him that I was worried about him or that I thought I would never see him again? I just stood there not saying a word. Suddenly, I reached my bag and took out my umbrella and gave it to him.

In a surprised tone he said “But its not raining”.

 I just smiled and said “Uncle, please use it when it rains”. He sat there too stunned to say anything.

I took a step back turned around to walk towards my office. A smile played on my lips. My old friend is back in town. And yes, I did say "Hi".

Monday, 11 August 2014

My Rendezvous with Delhi

I have often heard people say “Delhi has its own charm” and for the last two months I am trying to figure out its meaning. I have never stayed in a big city….grew up in a small town and I have spent my entire student life living in the comforts of hostel surrounded by really good friends. It’s a different story now. My career quest has brought me here to this city infamous as the “Rape capital of India”….all the more reasons why my folks are worried sick and keep checking on me. I have my own apprehensions and I am just trying to squeeze myself in…with regular autowalas chanting “Metre kharab hai” to gearing up and shovelling my way through ear plugged indifferent commuters at Rajiv chowk amidst sweat soaked arm pits and frizzy hair of dear aunties. Ah!! Workplace is another heaven. I swear, if a new girl joins our office I will show these wanna-be professionals what it is like to make new friends and make it easier to adjust atleast for her. I have never thought about that guy in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. who told Phoebe that nobody knew he existed in his office…now I totally understand what he must have felt. Lonely and lost.

And oh this is the hardest, finding a room which is clean and safe with the perfect amount of sunlight, enough privacy, cost effective, devoid of nosy and annoying landlords and easily accessible by Metro. After searching for about a month and talking with loud brokers and tempting my patience to the max, the final deal was done with a landlord bent on speaking broken English and a broker who rose his voice every time he has to prove a point, pointing his index finger to everyone he talked to and I had no way but to push his finger way every time its directed to me. I still feel that I can get a better room in that price. Anyway, for now I have to start thinking of ways to make an empty room homely and I know I am gonna love this part except for the expenses.

Inspite of all the hardships and trying times, it’s a delight to savour the sweet taste of independence and freedom that comes along with it, owning my own place and (re) doing it the way I want.  And of course, flaunting it with style by sending pictures to family and close friends and expecting congratulatory notes and praises. It is just so worth it to get soaked in all these attention after all the efforts, time and money I have invested. Now, it’s off my bucket list – to have my own space before 30 and yes, I do feel really good.

I know one careless moment is all it takes to make my heart sink and I despise living top notch all the time but in a city where being rude is a culture I got to be careful. Being friendly, caring, kind and helpful to strangers seems to be the dumbest thing to do around here. Everyone is in a hurry but nobody seems to reach on time. Awful weather, really nasty traffic; narrow, crowded and smelly galis and when the night comes fear lurks in sparing none; news of accidents, murder and rape adorning the newspapers. Of course, these nuances are not the only colour with which Delhi is painted with. On a lighter note, I have to agree that Delhi has its own charm…Window shopping around CP, sitting idly with friends at India gate, savouring different cuisines at Delhi Haat or getting awestruck at the sight of the richness of our culture at Lajpat nagar or Pallika bazaar or chanting “Bheiya, kaam karo na!!” at Sarojini nagar or getting dressed up and lazing away at huge malls…I know I am just a couple of months old and I am yet to explore and learn, get disappointed, amazed and happy in days to come. All geared up to face what this city has to offer coz being tough and strong is what this city teaches you. They say if you have lived at Delhi nobody can mess with you coz you have learnt some valuable life skills which other cities will not offer.

It’s just that…We need to practice being nice. Don’t get fooled but let us not abstain from being kind and compassionate. We seem to have forgotten being humane in all the haste of life.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Sanatombi - A Princess Like No Other

I come from a small state called Manipur surrounded by lush green hills...all the more reason why whenever I see hills, reminds me of home. My mother tongue is Manipuri which I speak fluently although my writing and reading skills have considerably slowed as I have disengaged myself from writing and reading except going through headlines of local newspapers. Now that I stay a thousand miles away from home, I feel all the more reason to upgrade myself on all that information which I have ignored for so long.

In an attempt to explore my Manipur, I recently started digging up literatures related to Manipur and my best friend knowing my fixation, gifted me a book which I have wanted to read for so long “Bor Saheb Ongi Sanatombi” – the story of a Manipuri princess who fell in love with a British political agent in the British era written by renown author M. K. Binodini. 

Its the first time I have read a Manipuri novel. I have heard a lot about this book. Although I struggled to read at the very onset, I gradually gained pace as I got hold of the plots and characters. I could imagine the princely state of Manipur in all its glory as described by the author and its gradual descend as she lost her independence in the hands of the mighty English army. 

“Sanatombi” was a princess who chose to live life in her own terms, who had the courage to question every unfair rule imposed on her unlike other princesses who consented every word of the king; a princess who demanded equal rights like her brother and remained unconvinced that being a girl, she ought to live her life in a way dictated by the society. Perhaps her defiant nature made her special, worthy of a story that will stand the sands of times and cherished by generations to come. The story of a princess who believed that love is more about sacrifice and not merely just about getting married, a love which spontaneously redefined every form of relationship she had. A princess torn apart between her love for her country and her love for this man who had come to conquer her land, a man who was apparently her enemy but who had made her understand love like no one else had.

Even today, Manipuri society is an orthodox patriarchal society and till date a married woman have no right to fall in love again. Even if a woman lost her husband at a young age or if she got separated from her husband, she has to severe all ties with men that will fulfil her physical and emotional needs for fear of her character and modesty being questioned by the society.

Imagine the Manipur of those times, who made love impossible between a Brahmin and a non-Brahmin, a royalty and a commoner and yet even under these threatening conditions, love did happened and love bore the pangs of separation and embraced death silently. Sanatombi saw it all and marvelled these mystical forms of love that made her Maisna decide never to marry again after she realised that her beloved had died. Even after her first marriage, Sanatombi failed to feel such consuming and unfathomable love. Thus, when a married woman like Sanatombi fell in love with a “foreigner”...the speculations and inhibitions she felt was only intelligible. And it was a love she never felt before...a love that brought forth her best and worst times.

Since childhood, Sanatombi was a little rebel and stood against prejudiced rules.  May be this was the reason why her defiant self let her hair down and felt the winds in her hair as she rode her horse proudly alongside her beloved dressed in man’s attire unlike married woman of those times who are supposed to tie their hair in a bun let alone dress like a man. And sure, no one ever looked as beautiful and enticing as her. Such was the charm and solemnity of this princess!!

A few months after her beloved left her with a promise to return for her again, she fell sick and could never really fight back to be herself again. As her frail body lie on her death bed, her mind filled with a thousand memories, in a state of trance, she could constantly hear the faint sound of horse galloping away...sound of her beloved fading away, her life, every step leaving her behind.....just like her father became a blur memory, just like her brother galloped away. And thus, she rested in the protective arms and undying love of her “Sanakhyamashi”. 


I have heard so much about this book and in an instant, I agreed to all that has ever been written about this book. I have always felt a sense of emptiness after reading a good book. Sanatombi and her love will forever haunt my mind.

Read it to know your roots and history.

Read it to understand love in a better way.

Read it to realise that it takes someone who stood odds to create a fascinating story. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Crossroads once again

Well, today had been a rough day so I intend to write some not-so-nice things here in my space. People keep seeking advice on which institute to choose for PhD which made me realise why in the first place I joined PhD. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a scholarship in hand – UGC JRF – I was proud and thought Chalo, at atleast I have a place where I can keep my feet. I was clueless what I would do after my Masters and sure, I was passionate about teaching and plus, I thought PhD will be less boring if my besties were with me….and sure it was. So, thus, I joined PhD.

You might think why all the fuss among these PhDians…the weirdness, the frustrating posts shared in social networking sites, the annoying remarks, the never ending complaints etc. But hear me out friends, its very frustrating indeed. Somewhere in the late twenties a confused mind enrolls in PhD. Lucky if he is an in-service candidate and lucky if she is married. But for someone like me who is neither of the two and who volunteered to be in these quicksand for atleast 3 years…life becomes slowly messy. Suddenly, I began living my life at the mercy of someone else. On lucky days, I might be praised for my work and on bad days I had to wait and wait and wait…there is always a meeting, some random staff from office will come along and I will have to disappear in the background or I will have to listen to the endless tales of family drama. There were times when I wanted to vanish into thin air or shout my heart out and say “Excuse me, I am still here”. But reality check, I have nothing more that I can do rather than nod my head foolishly and come back to my room only to lock myself up and put on music to the max and clear my mind.

Ah, interestingly, the pretigious UGC declares thousands of students every year to be qualified for JRF which means you get a scholarship of 16K for 1st and 2nd year and 18K for 3rd year. I tell you, every kid who clears the exam shouts with joy, feels proud and keeps everyone updated in facebook. Soon, they realise that the scholarship is on a yearly basis and nobody gives a heck if you are getting it on time or not or hell, if you are even getting…Ok, fine if you give us on a yearly basis than so be it but we have to shed tears and sweat to get it. Every year my friends and I have to go to UGC office at Bahadur Shah zafar Marg (No auto wala knows the place) at Delhi and talk with that annoying and heartless lady and present our case only to chase us away. Then we come back to our University and request our college to kindly sanction our money. And believe me, there is always a problem…if not from our college, it is the Dean PGS or Comptroller office or UGC. It’s a shame how our system works. Especially how they never understand the plight of students. We stay so far away from home and trust me, I never want a dime of their sympathy but I want what is rightfully mine. For moving a file from one table to another in the same room, it takes atleast 3-4 day. What can you expect from an office with starts at 9.30, ends at 5pm with 2 tea-breaks of atleast 30 minutes and an hour lunch break and Gosh, how can they miss the regular dose of gossip and knowing who’s who of the office? Thus, our scholarship is stuck and I have a feeling that it will be stuck for more than a month or so…..the money is in the account of the University and the interest only is enough to financially assist two/three students. And here, we are running around every office asking the progress of paper work which seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. Arrrghhhh!!

And again, there are regular calls from not-so close people (I don’t even wanna say friends) announcing how lucky they are to have a boyfriend who is a doctor/assistant professor/whatever, how rich he is, on how much they are lucky with an anecdote in the end saying don’t worry dear you will also find someone. I just wanna slam my phone and shout shut up, enjoy your perfect sad little diplomatic life and just don’t make me feel bad about myself. But of course, I have to hear the end of it and make an excuse to hang up and for the next few hours nothings gonna make me feel better.

I know my life isnt perfect like many of them and on days like today I have to work harder to feel better but the truth is at the end of the day, I realise how different I am and somehow I feel good that I became the person I am…passionate, impatient, short-tempered, sentimental, someone who follows the heart blah blah….. I am lucky I have parents who always back me up when I feel down and who I can turn to whenever I want. I have people around me willing to walk extra miles for me, remind me what a wonderful person I am although I know at times they are just flattering.  I have to be strong that’s all it matters now coz when you hit rock bottom there’s nothing else you can go except upwards and I know that’s where I am headed!!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Hello Meh.....!!

Here I am writing again in my blog after exactly 2 months. I just hope my friends have not forgotten about my blog. Last couple of months had been busy with all the traveling, pressure mounting up high, my tolerance and patience sinking to the lowest possible level as I come to the end of my Ph.D. And, now, now….I have submitted my thesis and still clueless about whats next…though I have a few things in mind. It’s a shame that I always claim that I express best when I write…yet I spend so less time in writing. Blame my lazy bones for that. Now, that a part of my headache is over, I intend to write more…anything….there is so much to write about.

This is the last few days I am staying here and I kinda feel sad as I am all geared up to say “goodbye” to all the good and bad stuffs. They keep teasing me that I am gonna be a “Dr.” and sometimes I don’t like it coz I am not there yet….atleast not now. For now, I just wanna get back home, have all those heartfelt conversations with my Mom discussing my love life late at night, wake up with the sound of my Dad nagging me to get up, catch up with my siblings and grandparents, listen to the sound of crickets at night, enjoy the serenity of the nights and of course complain about all the things that is going wrong there. Its been 10 years I walked out of home and now its time for me to go back to the place I belong…I don’t know how long I will stay there and for now let me just not worry about it. I feel more humbled now than ever and I know there’s so much more to learn…so many people to meet…so many food to many places to visit. Its just the beginning and I still have miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

NEW YEAR at Hostel rocks!!

So I survived 2013 and welcomed the New Year with loud giggles, loud music, dancing like a duck and laughing away like crazy…it’s the best coz half of the girls in our hostel have gone home, at least we are hoping they are at home <wink><wink>. I didn’t count how many of the girls were there…..may be there were about 15 of us. We pretended as though we were unleashing the wild child inside each one of us by shouting out loud, yelling whenever our junior a wannabe DJ who has the best collection of all the dance hits changed songs, pretending to be drunk by passing around Sprite bottle, clinging disposable glasses and shouting “Cheers” (hahaha….can’t help laughing). Some innovative fella then started switching the tube light “ON” and “OFF” swiftly so that it will have the effect of disco light….and you wont believe, it sure looked like one until one of the girls shouted out “Tube light fuse ho jayega. STOP IT”. And then the disco light stopped and the music grew louder and the girls even wild. Somebody then reminded that it’s only a few seconds into the NEW YEAR, then we all ran out of the room to the corridor and lawn of our hostel, began the countdown and shouted “HAPPY NEW YEAR”, airkissed each other, hugged, jumped around while still shouting. Then, realized that the merciless cold night is far too harsh to endure and rushed to the party spot again.

And when we cut the New Year cake, one of the over-charged girls started smearing cakes (Oh, I hate that part) and everyone ran away from the spot. The victim who was in the closest proximity had cream all over her face and somebody announced “Bathroom mein pani nahi aa raha hai, lets NOT smear cakes”. So began the search for water to wash away the cream. The rest of us kept dancing and laughing at all the silliness and thus, we entered the NEW YEAR together.

Its been a decade since I lived in hostel and this is the last few months of my stay here…Perhaps this is the part I am gonna miss the most. I have had the most learning experience in the midst of girls who have come far away from home. I don’t know where I will be this time around next year and I don’t wanna worry about it now. But as I leave behind these magical days of my life, I know something even more extraordinary awaits me. Family, Love, Friendship, Loyalty, Laughter, Faith…I have it all. What can I ask more? Perhaps 2014 will be about my career and career only. I hope to make my life useful to the many people I will meet in the coming years (fingers crossed).

With a silent prayer of gratitude for blessing my life abundantly, I begin this NEW YEAR and hope that 2014 will be full of pleasant surprises and abundant opportunities to put the little knowledge and experience of my life to better use.

Wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR. Have a smooth sail. Cheers!! :)