Sunday, June 4, 2017

Prelude to "Voices"

It is my attempt to rekindle my romance with the written word. I present to you "Voices" - A series of short prose blogs inspired by our basic need to express ourselves. 
Feelings, inspirations, private conversations, negotiations, prayers, confessions, declarations, resolutions.... they all have the power to create magic if shared... more importantly if expressed! We can never fathom whom they would resonate with and how. What they would lead to and how! 

So for my part, I express.... to explore the power of human expression through "Voices".... Hoping to be heard! Here's my inspiration behind this series: One of my favourite ad campaigns of all time! 

Voices 1.0 - Father of the bride (To Be)

Voices 1.0

Father of the bride (To Be)

My mind oscillates between ecstasy and anxiety. The seasoned tricksters is bamboozled. A gush of thoughts flows in. The waves originating in extreme joy only to eventually trickle away ashore to the sands of apprehension. The mind is perhaps getting a taste of its own medicine. Most people I know, wouldn't have faced such a dilemma. Even if they did, I’m sure they’d become the fine actors they are, and refuse to acknowledge it. They’d masquerade away their dilemma and declare in delirium, “This is surely, the best moment of my life!”

It is, I think my duty to heed to the barrage of emotions. They plant seeds of doubt and the harvest of doubt is seldom fulfilling. Hundreds of emotions jostle for space reminding me of my own ride to and from work in the Mumbai local. There is diversity & discomfort but there is also a sense of familiarity. I was always the one to admire someone else’s creation. Oh yes, even this requires serious talent. At the most, there would’ve been instances where, I would have worked to better someone else’s creation, mostly in lieu of a reward. But this is indeed different. I have never created anything till date. I just did. She looks more beautiful than anything else I’ve ever seen or hope to see. She was early, maybe by a month. She is happy. More importantly she’s content. We made her. She made it. She fought, we won.  

Happiness is gradually succeeding in usurping mind space. Perhaps this process is what they call - “Sinking In” - She’s here… I am a father now!

Sunday, January 17, 2016


I live in a city in where the airport has stopped flight information announcements to curb noise pollution.... but they play Honey Singh at 5 AM on blasting volume on a Sunday 2 hours before the Mumbai Marathon starts!!! Priorities.....

Sunday, May 24, 2015

An Alternate....

Each New Year, we Indians wake up to a million new wellness resolutions. From promising to lose kilos to enrolling for yoga classes to even the simplest of morning walks tops the charts of our resolutions.

India is slowly but steadily waking up to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Wellness is the new mantra and fitness the new fad. While it’s an extremely welcome trend in this otherwise food, cricket and Bollywood obsessed nation, a majority of us however, are victims of consumerist health activism which is largely driven by economic rather than healthy motives.

Restaurants are dishing out the so called ‘organic’ or ‘nutritious’ dishes on the menu at a steep premium along with the traditionally unhealthy fare. The Wellness Spas, gymnasiums and other holistic fitness centers are mushrooming all over the country promising to rejuvenate our bodies, and souls through a variety of scientific sounding rituals along with exotic sounding therapies. With a growing number of Indians willing to pay big bucks to feel good, the country's fitness and wellness industry is blossoming. Celebrities from Zaheer Khan (Cricket) to John Abraham (Actor) all hopping onto the bandwagon of being fitness entrepreneurs, the industry is poised to grow to an estimated Rs. 1 lakh crore by the end of 2015. 

Just to draw a parallel, Americans spend more than $20 Billion (2013) annually on diets, with 108 Million people trying various diets per year (2013). The average cost of a gym membership is $39 per month, but 67% of people with gym memberships never use them. Indian figures I am assuming would be much worse than these. (Source)

Today morning, my maid decided to call in sick. (I secretly know she must’ve partied hard last night) and hence out of necessity, the situation gave birth to an awesome workout for my wifey and me who decided to rise to the occasion, albeit with our handful of mops and dusters to clean the whole house. And now when the workout has ended post almost 3 hours of shared rigour, we feel not only much better but almost victorious. The other benefit is that we now have a sparkling house! Try it.... This workout works!!!

You can really quantify your workout doing household chores - Find out how many calories you burnt doing household work!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

An encounter with irreverence......

A trip to the theater is a social event. It’s best enjoyed in the company of your loved ones. The definition of terms ‘loved ones’ being flexible depending on the contents of the film.

Movies are a great reference point for life and even in the movies, I’ve never seen anyone ever go for a movie - alone. It is an axiom of adult coolness that going alone for a movie is downright weird and looserish. It will instantly make you a loner and perhaps even socially challenged. It will make your friends believe you’re deranged, and make your parents instantly suspect that you’re battling demons of a break up from a relationship you never disclosed to them in the first place!

There are some acts which give you a feeling. They leave you with an after taste. The kind of after taste you get when you down the last morsel of your first self-cooked meal. You face apprehensions, you battle perceptions, and finally you accomplish what you never thought could be the possible outcome.  

There’s something so muffled about the way we experience things. It is as if we’re trying to slip through life without challenging some of the rules someone else has carved out in stone as benchmarks of generally acceptable social behaviour!

Well let me not sound all Martin Lutherish to have challenged the social norms, but in all practicalities I tried to gather ‘company’ for this one movie I've been wanting to watch for some time now. However, the hazards of a 6 day working life with a respectable private company today require a pre-ordained miracle to unfold whereby the universe conspires to make a movie outing with friends possible for you in lieu of you good karma from your last avatar. Date, time, location, ticket availability, interests and budgets of the diverse species called your friends have to all conspire to come together seamlessly for you to successfully accomplish a movie outing.

Come to think of it and rewind your last few movie outings with your friends. I’m sure it would've involved some for form of ‘adjustment’ (You would've blamed me for being too harsh had I used ‘compromise’) from someone.

In reverence of my new-found love for enthusiastic plunging, I attempted to put together something that was perhaps socially unacceptable. Finally this Sunday morning...........  :D

PS: It really felt nice, the 'Me' time was indeed welcome!!! Besides, it going to be the last week for 'The Wolf of Wall Street' at the movie halls, didn't wanna miss this one!!!

And to my great surprise 3 others sitting next to me were all stags (Me ~ The jhola lady ~ Marathoner dude ~ Firang Fab India Uncle) in that order Row I - 10, 11, 12, 13..... :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

When the old ends...

Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins? It’s not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, not a new year. It’s an event. Big or small. Something that changes us. Ideally, it gives us hope. A new way of living and looking at the world. Letting go of old habits, old memories.

My Sunday opened with reading news of closures. Two heartbreaking ones. Yes, the 100 year old B Merwan & Co, more affectionately referred to as Merwan’s - the bakery & restaurant in Grant Road will shut shop come 31st March, 2014. Much before Mumbai found it fashionable to be up early for a jog thanks to the Mumbai Marathon, Merwan’s used to wake Mumbaikars up and line them up outside its store as early as 5-5:30 AM for the freshest batch of Mawa Cakes. It is common to return disappointed if you were to reach by 7 AM. The owners & bakers themselves used to be at the shop at 3 AM daily. There was clearly more to this enterprise than money, it was love!
The Brun Maska, omelettes and the custard have been companions to those intimate conversations or just plain jovial banter. The chairs made in Czechoslovakian wood or the Italian marble topped tables were the ambience which catered to a Bombay, yes Bombay and not Mumbai, which was home to the most cosmopolitan Indians truly secular in their approach. A mill worker, an old Parsi Bawaji or be it the budding college couples bunking lectures to catch the matinee at Minerva closeby, it served wholesome honesty and love to everyone, equally.

The glass ‘Barni’ which kept your ‘Khari / Bun Pao’ safe or the ‘Jam Puff’ which used to be the eternal reward, will perhaps now realise, that it is not just entrusted with the khaaris but is also a custodian of a million moments of nostalgic timeless experiences which many would now call memories.

The other closure refers to the report of the ever dwindling number of Udupi restaurants in the city. Once they dotted the street corners of Bombay with the same humility that personified the people of this city. They were so closely interwoven with the social fabric of this city through the late 50’s till date that reading reports of more than 90 Udupis shutting shop in the last 2 years feels akin the gradual but disturbingly familiar disappearance of the sparrows from our windows. 

Their beauty lied in their honesty and simplicity. Their menus didn’t run into endless pages, neither did they resemble designer catalogues. The food was not tiny morsels dished out in choicest of porcelain, the waiter was not the suave gentleman, but your friendly lungi clad ‘Thambi’ – They were our first tryst with amazingly refreshing filter coffee, minus the intimidation of the decision making one goes through while ordering a coffee nowadays (Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, hot, iced, blended etc...). Yes, the place did not boast of anything it wasn’t but still managed to not only nourish your hunger pangs but satiate your soul. Some of its wall sported matter of factly – “This place is not for meeting – only for eating” – That’s perhaps the refreshing honesty we fail to appreciate today.

What’s important is that we never stop believing we can have a new beginning. But it’s also important to remember that amid all the crap are a few things really worth holding on to. Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins?

PS: The piece was loosely inspired by reading 2 disturbing news reports in Today’s Sunday Times & A conversation with a certain vagabondish friend! ;)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Defense of Enthusiastic Plunging

Read a blog post by one of my favourite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert..... Sharing it here...


Dear Wonderfuls —

We've spoken on this page about perfectionism already, right? You guys all know by now how I feel about it? (AGAINST.) For me, perfectly good has always been way better than perfect. Also, "perfect" does not exist (except perhaps in certain salted caramels) so when you're chasing perfect, you're chasing a myth. Which will probably leave you both tired and disappointed.

Perfectionism is the assassin of so many wonderful things (and remember: you can't spell "assassin" without two asses). Perfection can kill relationships, simple pleasures, holiday gatherings, entire months of your life...and most certainly creativity.

In women particularly, I've found, perfectionism can take an especially destructive turn — it can prevent you from putting yourself forward in the world. You don't want to speak out until your ideas are perfect. You don't want to try out a foreign language until your accent is perfect. You don't want to present your art, or music, or writing, or discoveries, suggestions to anyone until you are absolutely sure it's all beyond criticism, beyond reproach, beyond doubt — immaculate and masterful.

Boy, is that gonna slow you down.

What I keep trying to tell women — especially young women — is not to hold yourself back in the world until you're certain that you are perfect. Because there is not enough time for that. We need you here NOW, as you are, which is almost certainly GOOD ENOUGH. Speak now. Act now. Try now. Raise your voice now. Throw your ideas into the ring now. Show somebody your work now. Ask for the promotion now. Present your questions and doubts and suggestions now.

And please forgive me, but I just have to say it: Not being entirely sure if they were absolutely correct never stopped men from speaking out or plunging in. (See Mr. Allen, below...and a million other examples across the centuries besides.) So join them.

Plunge, everyone.

Plunge, plunge, plunge.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Special 26

At 26, life is a lot like our wardrobes, organised in parts but largely all over the place. It’s that time we realize that childhood has ditched us and long moved on. Adulthood is like an uninvited guest. It's here, but we hardly want to acknowledge its presence!

 26, is also slightly confusing. Almost like the sudden commercial break that pops up, while you're engrossed in the climax of an intense romantic drama on TV. You don't know what to do when it hits you. It makes you feel empowered and in control of things, people and situations. You feel, it's your time. You're poised for world domination. Dreams suddenly seem achievable. And then one day, you cry like a baby, when your girlfriend / boyfriend break up with you citing "Compatibility Issues"

It also makes you that much more vulnerable. Vulnerable because you know you've grown out of being the boy who wanted to party each weekend but you haven't yet fully grown into being a man who can enjoy a single malt and a hearty conversation for a Saturday night!

You're independent but still the second signatory to your bank account after your dad. Your mom trusts the maid over you to get the best bargain on the monthly grocery shopping despite you acing your dissertation on contract negotiation in your final semester.

26, it’s a bit like entering the 8th grade in school. It leaves you puzzled whether to be happy about the transition to trousers or be sad about the fact that you're still not eligible to be appointed the Head Boy. It is largely a confusion that arises out of expectations, partly those that emanate from others, largely the residue of complexities of the ones which are your own.

The phase, a paradox of emotions, gives you the high of gloating in your new-found confidence which gets credited with your salary every beginning of the month. Short-lived though, only to be deflated by the information that your college buddy who's Haka Noodles lunch you paid for in college, spends that much on his weeknight out with his office colleagues. His visiting card carries the logo of the company you've yearned to work for and his assistant informs you that he's travelling to Cannes / The Oscars to look for good content when you call his office, while his cell phone is out of coverage area.

A Facebook status update / a pic tweeted by your school friend whose greatest achievement for life you thought would be graduating college without an ATKT is  surrounded by ladies on the red carpet. You read on and figure that he's touted to be the next big thing in Bollywood and his Foursquare update a week later reads ... "ABC just checked in at Eiffel Tower, Paris" with his moronic smile bulging out of the picture. This phase has a special talent at making you feel big one moment and belittling your ego the next!

Adding to that, at 26, you also realize that the world as you know it, can be divided into 3 kinds of people - 'Engaged', 'To be married' and 'Newly Married' people. These 3 categories will encapsulate the entire spectrum of mankind to have ever walked on this planet. Your Facebook timeline starts resembling a wedding album and the Foursquare check in updates of your friends could be easily compiled into the list of best honeymoon destinations around the world.

All your crushes have found their crushes leaving you crushed. The neighbor who thought you were ‘Cute’ as a kid now refuses to recognize you when you ask for the spare key to your house when parents are away.
Yes, I know, 26 is a time, that can make you wish the Mayans were right. It drives you nuts. It personifies insanity. It's insane.

However, it is also special. It’s special because it allows you the space to discover your true friends, your hobbies and interests, at a point, discover your true self. It makes you expressive beyond your own imagination. It sensitizes you in its own unique way to human emotions, the way you never felt them before.
 It makes you realize the importance of family. It makes you realize what it takes to be truly ‘happy’. It pushes you against the walls. It enables you to nurture and cultivate responsibility, without thrusting it upon you accidentally. It makes you stronger without killing you.

While you dance to the song of heartbreak and love, yearning for the ‘Perfect one’ to be with, you don’t realise that it is this 26, which makes you a better person. A person your ‘Perfect One’ would love to be with!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

When love beckons...

"When love beckons to you, follow him; though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you, yield to him; though the sword hidden among his opinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you, believe in him; though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth...... 
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, Into the season less world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. 
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. 
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully."
— Khalil Gibran

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When comes such another...?

A leader is an individual who has followers. This is the simplest definition of leadership known to me. Every society acts as a nursery of leadership and influence in diverse ways. Sports, theatre, arts, education and industry all provide great avenues for effective leadership to emerge and get acknowledged by the society. However, the most visible and obvious platform for exemplary leadership has always been politics and governance.

Today, a pioneer of one distinct brand of political leadership in India takes his last journey. Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray has passed away and with his passing, however, cliché it may sound, an era has certainly ended. A cartoonist, a social reformer’s son, an activist and lastly a political behemoth in Maharashtra has breathed his last. A larger than life personality and a Godfather of sorts who claimed that his dictatorial iron fist of leadership was needed for progress today lays silent.

The spirit of regionalism was ushered in through the ‘Samyukta Maharashtra’ movement in the 1950’s. Prabodhankar Thackeray, balasaheb’s social reformer father was an integral part of this movement. Balasaheb at the time, was a cartoonist at the Free Press Journal, who had broken out to launch his own newsletter ‘Marmik’ which fought against the growing influence of Gujaratis and South Indians in Maharashtra. His father very passionately on a fine day in 1966 at Shivaji Park, launched him into mainstream politics by offering his “Bal” meaning Son in Marathi for the service of Maharashtra. Shiv Sena, an aggressive political outfit was thus born.

Some might say, he was an opportunist, who found a great chance to tap into the anger seeped into public sentiment due to the communist phase in Maharashtra through the 1960’s. Nehru died in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966 and the Congress was headless in that phase of a suffering economy full of stagflation. He instigated the support of the hoi polloi which felt deprived of chances and opportunities to progress. He fought for quotas in Government jobs for local youths.  He fought against the South Indians and later Gujaratis dominating the city of Mumbai emerging as the true ‘Son of the soil’ or a ‘Pranti’ as he preferred to call himself. He instilled in his people a sense of pride, who earlier felt humiliated in their own land. Nobody dared refer to them as “Ghaatis” in their own land post Shiv Sena’s ascent. His greatest gift perhaps to his people, was their self-respect.

He took over the reins of the industrial labour unions and he established his local network of ‘Shakhas’ which were local units / branches responsible to carry forward the work and ideology right down to the grassroots level.  Post the Babri Masjid demolition and the 1992 riots, his nuanced moves ensured that he got pitted as the “Hindu Hriday Samrat” (The king of Hindu hearts) further propelling him as a perceived strong Hindutva force in a strong alliance with the BJP. He was the Godfather to Bollywood giving them protection against the increasing horrors of the powerful Mumbai underworld. He stood behind a helpless father Sunil Dutt, looking to get justice for his erratic movie star son Sanjay. This ability to forge enduring relationship across party lines and ideologies is what truly made him a remarkable paternal figure.

The turn of the millennium saw surging aspirations and aspirations always lead to defections. He lost trusted lieutenants like Chagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane who left him to pursue their growing aspirations. His biggest blow came when his own protégé, Raj Thackerary, his nephew, who he was extremely close to and fond of broke away from the Shiv Sena to form his own outfit called ‘Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.’ 2004 Assembly election loss, partially crushed him, age did it’s thing too.

His appeal lied in the feudal concept of the rulers being the protectors of the interest of the ruled. His spirit of nationalism was unparalleled. His views were debatable, questionable and to some simply unacceptable, still, there are not many leaders who spoke their mind with as much conviction as him.

Legacy is a wonderful thing; it normally finds its deserving owner. If it is unable to do so, it erodes a part of itself at the hands of its creator. Balasaheb’s largest shortcoming some may say, is this ineffective handover of his legacy.  

It is ironic that historically, Indian political leadership comes from two divergent ends of the ideological spectrum. The 'Servant Leadership' of Gandhi or that of 'Constructive Violence' of Bal Thackeray. The void in between the two is why this nation suffers. As I exercise my fingers typing out this obituary, there are 2 million people crawling the streets of Mumbai following their fallen leader. There’s this lingering line which resurfaces in my memory from Julius Ceaser, when Antony says of Julius Ceaser, "Here was a Ceaser, When comes such another?"

Images Courtesy - Google Images

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Leadership Paradox - India & USA

I'm sure by now, no-one is a stranger to the financial turmoil the world is currently witnessing. How much of it is systemic and how much is caused by simple human vices like greed, corruption and dishonesty is anybody's guess. 

In India, the last week saw the Government, who till date was going from scam-to-scam, announce a slew of reform measures. The response to this, as expected was agitation and allies of the Government pulling out in protest. In this hour of serious financial distress across the world, especially in India & the United States, what emerges is the paradoxically deviant approach to leadership adopted ironically, by two leaders, both of whom have been labelled as under-performers. 

This thought got accentuated today morning, when, while reading my daily newspapers, I read the remarks of a feeble economist who finds himself leading a sixth of the world, more by default rather than by desire.  The Indian PM invoked the economic crisis of 1991 and the benefits of the hard steps that the country had then taken with him as the finance minister.

In his statement, he says and I quote, "The last time we faced this problem was in 1991. Nobody was willing to lend us even small amounts of money then. We came out of that crisis by taking strong resolute steps. You can see the positive results of those steps. We are not in that situation today, but we must act before people lose confidence in our economy,"

This is a typical Indian political response, where a leader reminds people of a gloomier past to paint a less murky picture of the present. Future, however, features nowhere in the conversation. We specialize in fire-fighting the present by taking solace from the horrors of the past. We justify our current state of being by bench-marking it with a time when we were worse off.

Contrast this, to the messages which were and are being consciously and constantly being sent out by the Obama campaign. They speak of "Change" and "Hope". They seek to instill a certain degree of confidence in the average American psyche, that "Yes, we can" tide over this crisis together. While, I say this, I am conscious of the impending Presidential election and the mud-slinging that it brings along with it. Still, there is a certain degree of dignity and vision for the future which is constantly the cornerstone of any discussion. 

The purpose of this rant, was not to demean a state or a leader nor even to glorify another. The aim was to highlight the alarming difference in the leadership style exhibited and accepted by different people in different nations. Eventually, the buck stops at us, the hoi polloi. Let us embrace a dialogue that revolves around our collective future by harnessing our collective wisdom. Let's not jump to petty ideological fences and shun the rigidity of thought. Let's stop promising, let's start doing! 

You can read the detailed report on Indian PM Manmohan Singh's address to the nation

Image Courtesy - Google Images

Prelude to "Voices"

It is my attempt to rekindle my romance with the written word.  I present to you "Voices" - A series of short prose blogs insp...