So, as I approached the 30 mark, I had been doing a bit of introspection about the years gone by and the lessons learnt. I came up with this. And thought I’d share it with you’ll. So, Happy Thirty to me and happy reading to you.
(Credit: Art by Kanan Doshi)
Here is my case book of some really ridiculous conversations I have been a part of and I take pleasure in narrating them here. Have fun.
Case #1: Mindless Front Office Guy
It was a regular day in office until the front office guy (FOG) decides to walk up to my desk and ask me a few questions (like irrespective of the answer, these are the set questions he intended to ask.)
FOG: What’s your extension?
Me: Do you see an extension on my desk?
FOG: But how do you pick up the phone?
Me: I don’t. Because I can’t!!
FOG: So, your extension is 22 or 23?
Case #2: Long Distant – Short Tempered Sister
For my birthday this year, dad bought me a fancy Guess watch. So, when my sister called to wish me on my birthday, what followed was just stupidity at its best.
Me: Hey, Dad got me a watch for my birthday.
Sis: Oh cool! Which one?
Sis: Arre say nah which one?
Sis: Chal nah… what pakao you are… say nah which one?
Me: Guess baba Guess!!
Sis: Arre don’t fry yeah… just say which one?
Me: Oh god! How many times to say… Guess!!
Case #3: Account Executive with the power to decide someone’s life span.
Being in the business of advertising, you meet a lot of over enthusiastic Account Executives (AE). Mind you, they sometimes possess the power to think. Now, this could actually turn out to be quite lethal. Here is how I was assigned a rather not so interesting job in my first week of work.
Me: The obituary ad is almost done… But you still haven’t given me the date of his death.
AE: I would have, if he were dead.
Me: What do you mean?
AE: Well, we should know the date soon I guess. You can hold the ad till then.
Often we realise that it is our weaknesses that help us discover our hidden strengths. It’s about conquering that battle within, fighting the fears known only to one self, getting over injuries invisible to the human eye. And still standing strong.
Just like challenges always arrive at your door step completely uninvited, a tryst with fate usually occurs when you’re hardly prepared for the moment.
One fine Sunday morning, no one thought that my grandmother would return home from the hospital with a part of her body missing.
Days passed by and now years, and every day when I look at her, I ask myself, ‘How much steel does the lady have?’
For a woman, to be losing a breast is not merely about losing a part of her body, but also about losing a part of her identity. It’s about looking at yourself everyday and feeling how close you were to an end. It’s about knowing the world will look at you differently, sympathetically. And it’s about pulling off a smile and not letting anyone know how bruised you are. It’s about holding on and hoping you’ll still be alive to tell stories to another generation.
She inspires me in the oddest things I do. Like an extra repetition in the gym, or another headline for that ad, or just remembering to smile when nothing’s going your way.
It’s about knowing I’ll be fine no matter what I’m up against.
The realisation of ‘everything is attainable’ comes from knowing that we have just one life to live and it is about making the most of this beautiful gift. It’s about believing in the obvious that we often tend to miss, that we are stronger than anything life can ever throw at us. My 10 year old niece learnt it early in life when she decided to swim across the Alcatraz on a cold, cloudy day just to show her support for her own grandmother and great grandmother who have bravely battled this dreadful disease. The least you can do is spread the word of self examination and regular tests because Cancer can happen to anyone.
A scene from the Parliament House that I watched on TV yesterday, intrigued me to write this post. Of how the people who are representing us keep growing in number while we keep getting more and more defenseless in the bargain. An irony of sorts.
I walk with fear in my heart every time I step out of my house, whether some man will again walk brush passed me, will I return home in one piece, whether I will return home at all.
I enter the local with my heart beating heavily, looking around trusting no one. I enter a mall, a taxi, a theatre and even a temple with doubt in my mind. Will I be alive to narrate stories someday before a news hungry media or will my parents be greeted with the news of my body strewn in many parts?
I have wondered this for long now but of late something that baffles me is how our dear politicians won’t let go of their security personnel at the cost of our country’s safety resources.
I mean does Shivraj Patil need 200 men to protect him? Does Amar Singh need 120? And what is Varun Gandhi afraid of that he is moving around with 30 men to guard him? How come he spoke so unafraid at Pilibhit delivering a speech that was meant to divide people into communities, so he could secure a seat for himself in the parliament?
What is more appalling is that our politicians are willing to say so unabashedly that any one who tries to cut down on their security personnel will be sent to jail for doing so. Do we really need these guys to use our precious tax money to guard themselves and their families and their grand children and their nieces and nephews so lavishly while we are thrown at the mercy of a possible threat at any given point? Do we really need these guys to help us build a secure nation?
I hate to be scared. I hate to be so vulnerable. I hate to be at the mercy of mindless power hungry politicians. I hate to be a target like any other common man in this country. I hate it more when it is at the cost of someone eating into my tax money. I hate to be compromised on my security after being a law abiding citizen. I hate the fact that all this is decided by a few men who care a damn whether I live or not.
Here’s a first from ‘Pages from my life’. A personal account of a rainy day in Mumbai. Whether you’re influential, not-so influential, rich, poor, otherwise, you cannot escape a natural calamity. An incident that brought every Mumbaikar at common ground and made them all equal. An incident that brings to light the incapability of the political system of the financial backbone of India.
How about being nicely cuddled up in bed, watching the rains pour down your window pane? Always a fabulous option over getting out of that bed, getting ready and making it to work amid the havoc. I am late any ways because I decided to spend 5 extra minutes in bed. Those 5 minutes got stretched to a whole half hour because on that blessed day the snooze alarm on my phone died out of battery. I am 2 minutes away from the bus stop and the clouds cast their spell again. I realise I have forgotten my umbrella at home between all the rush. I make a quick decision, get wet or get more late. I decide on the first. I enter an overcrowded bus and people look at me like, ‘Dude, have you saved your umbrella for the winter?’
The bus starts moving, at a pace that could give a snail some competition. I can’t do much, hence I wait and wait and wait. A 30 minute journey that takes over 40 minutes on that day. Ten minutes is a huge amount of time when you are running late. Finally relieved I have reached my stop, I get off and start walking. And what do I spot? The place looks alien. I have gotten off at the wrong stop. Really? Am I dreaming?… Look again. No point. ‘Have I to do this on a day like this?’ I look behind, my bus had just left. I make peace and take a rickshaw. The saga with the potholes continue, reminding me of that adventurous camel ride back in Rajasthan. So, after another 15 minutes or so, there I was, walking into my office, as my boss was stepping out. He greeted me, “Good morning… oh is it morning yet?”
And if that was not all, let me tell you, this would have still been an ordinary day knowing the space-struck creature that I am. But it was the monumental 26th of July, 2005. It wasn’t complete without a 3-hour long walk on my way home in waist-deep water.
Four years later, I don’t think I’ve changed so much. I’m still as much as a space cadet as I was then. I still get off at wrong stations now that I travel by train, put steel spoons in microwave, walk into glass doors and miss my home on my way home. ‘But where’s the water in Mumbai?’ Is building a freaking bridge over 9 years and then debating what the name should be a bigger concern than rain water harvesting? ‘The Joshis, the Deshmukhs, the Dutts, the Thakreys, are you guys planning to kill us either ways, if not through choked drains, then with the mere stench of human perspiration this time?’ Let me tell you, if you came out with a brilliant idea of a car pool, I have one for you. Save water, bathe with your opposition party member.