Fourth pillar of our democracy – Be strong and prudent

February 12, 2015

Having following politics for so many years I have to admit that the Media often tends to be biased and in a big way impacts the perception of a person or a party toward the general public. I would like to point out few instances that I have recently experienced:

  1. Modi’s 10Lacs Suit: I have personally seen on the twitter the price of Modi’s suit shoot from mere expensive, to 5 Lacs and then 10 Lacs. FACT is that no one knows the actual cost and still everyone is made to believe it is 10 lacs or so. The important thing is not even the cost but the FACT that no one really knows if that was bought or was perhaps gifted by someone. Being at such a high position, gifts are very common and any person who holds a high position will concur to this FACT. Now here is a link which no one would ever tell you to read but again it is a FACT – http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/modi-gifts-auction-yields-rs-19-cr-for-girls-education/1214480/

Tomorrow if it indeed turns out that the suit was actually a gift, then would media bite their words and apologize?

  1. I saw few of my Christian friends on facebook looked really aghast at the recent vandalism of few churches in Delhi and I totally understand their feeling. Now the FACT is that no one actually knows who the culprits were but again everyone is made to believe that they belong to BJP. It hurts me to see that all educated people when it comes to religion become blind, not limited to any religion but spans across all. I in fact not only stand against any kind of vandalism of religious places but also demand that the culprits should be nabbed and given harsh punishment for instigating hatred. But for god sake do not assume things and point finger at a party without any proof or FACT.

If you go by common sense it is actually other parties who benefit from these kinds of acts since BJP doesn’t have much vote bank with minorities. This reminds me of Kavin Spacey of ‘The Usual Suspect’ where suspects are usually not the usual ones. Also vandalism is not a new thing and has been happening for last many decades against all the religious institutions! I would also like to state that people like ‘Sadhvi’ and ‘Sakshi maharaj’ do more bad than good to the party and should be confronted and reprimanded for uttering nonsense.

  1. Then there are really some impatient bumpkins who say that they don’t see any change or improvement: I would suggest them to read newspapers especially economic time\financial express so that they can get some sense of economics and how it works. We have erased our targeted fiscal deficit which gives us much leeway to allocate more money in the coming budget, inflation has tanked, GDP is on a move, ‘make in India’ campaign might not have rocketed but has definitely started on a good note. On the ground, be it swatch bharat, pradhan mantry jan dhan yojna, PF scheme, adopting a village, Beti bachao – beti padhao, mann ki baat, inclusion of much neglected NE states etc are the foundations on which we need to move on. I don’t want to comment on the international diplomacy and our defense enforcement as many would not understand or make much sense of it but we are definitely doing great on that front too.

PS: I am not opposed to media criticizing or supporting a party, as this is the norm across the globe. I just want them to be more prudent and fact based.

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PK Movie Review (#BoycottPK vs #ISupportPK)

December 25, 2014

#BoycottPK vs #ISupportPK

Which one?

To start with, let me give my personal view on the movie per se, keeping aside the controversy.

If I see at the content of the movie then I am sorry to say that the similar stuff was covered in the movie (‘Oh My God’) so there was nothing new for me. The message of both the movies is the same and should be hailed even though this movie carries with it quite a bit of controversies which I will cover later on in this blog.

Now let us move to the screenplay. There are few instances that make absolute zero sense; the most remarkable of them was the bomb blast. I mean was it just to end the role of Sanjay Dutt in the movie? Other than this, there is Sushant Rajput’s character who hails from Pakistan. Where on earth does this make sense? Was this for ‘Aman ki aasha’? I have no clue. It could have been a Muslim guy from India or since the movie basically targeted Hindu rituals, it would have been apt if the guy was to be someone belonging to a lower caste. But the context of Pakistan is out of my understanding. In fact the whole Belgium part could have been avoided without impacting the message this movie delivers but then inserting a story of a guy from Pakistan seeks a neutral country, isn’t it? I have few more to say about the screenplay but that would be later on.

Next is the Acting. The acting is almost flawless by Amir Khan and Sushant Rajput. Kudos to both! Anushka Sharma is good but not great. Sanjay dutt too did a fine job, all in all good acting.

Then comes the song and particularly the song ‘Bhagwan kahan hai re tu’ to me is the BEST part of the entire movie!! Other songs are also worth listening and the good thing about them is that they fit perfectly with the script. No nonsense here!

So, now that the formality is done let me get to the core issue!

What this movie brings to the fore is the blind faith of millions of people and Hindus in particular, on so called self proclaimed ‘babas’ and the movie also asks a pertinent question on whether it is the God who creates us or is it us who create the God?

Speaking of ‘babas’, it is no hidden fact that there are tons of so called ‘babas’ who in the name of God and religion fool millions of people. It is common sense that eating a ‘samosa’ and sharing couple of ‘gulab jamuns’ with your neighbor will never cure your disease or find a job for you. Similarly manufacturing gold out of nowhere just violates the simple law of physics. I had always wondered how can a person be so blind and so dumb to not see and realize what goes on these ‘dhongi babas’ darbaars. Only thing that I can think of the reason behind such a mass following of these kinds of ‘babas’ is nothing but hope or perhaps false hope. So what is the solution?

Definitely the media can help bring the truth and in fact it does but the problem is that with such a large population you will always find people subscribing to things that would not make sense to others. Just like the statutory warning on cigarette packs might not be enough to stop smokers from smoking. We can play our part by educating the poor and ignorant people but can’t pull the cigarette out of their mouth. To be frank what these ‘babas’ do is nothing but fills the demand for the most after sought thing in this world and that is ‘hope’.  They do business just like any other business that we have in this materialistic world.

Now having being said all those, I know that there are many ‘babas’ who do social work, they do build hospitals, schools, shelters etc and for that you have to give it to them even at the behest of fooling people. Now there are also other kinds of ‘babas’ that I know would never claim to be the god or even ask you to follow any rituals. Their goal would be to just answer your problems with whatever knowledge they might have gained and I with cent percent confidence can tell that they do it for betterment of people but the irony is that these ‘babas’ usually don’t appear on TVs or even make news! I would wish to call them Gurus or Spiritual leaders and they can even be your teacher, a mentor or your parents. The main purpose of a Guru was never to get your work done but to find an answer to your question, to guide you to the correct path, to enlighten you. Whoever in the name of God, claims of getting work done for you is doing a business by selling the god’s name. Good for them, not for you!

Moving on (arnab’s style)

There is this statement made in the movie – “Jo darta hai wo Mandir jata hai”. So is this even controversial?

Whoever thinks it is not has to be labeled pseudo secular! It is outrageous and resentful against people who do go to Mandirs. The controversy could have been easily been avoided by saying ‘Jo darta hai wo bhagwaan ke darbaar jata hai’, this would have gelled well with the message of the movie but I am really sorry to say that this is not the case. Had the word Mandir been replaced by Masjid, Church or Gurudwara I can only imagine the response that it would have evoked.

To conclude, I am happy to see so many people loving this movie coz this shows that either they themselves or their loved ones were into some kind of dhongi babas and have decided to come out of it. For me the issue was covered in the movie ‘Oh my God’ and therefore there wasn’t anything new in the movie. PK is ‘Oh My God’ with some controversies probably to rake in some money and popularity. Not to mention the weak script it has. The whole Belgium thing, the train blast, the issue of building Mandir (I had no clue where that came from in the movie), Anushka’s dad whistling towards the end to prove Amir’s prophecy right as if he was a God. Talking about the role of Anushka’s dad, it makes me laugh that he realized the conman in the ‘baba’ only after it was proved that the Sushant was not a traitor. I wonder what would have happened if Anushka would not have received the letter in the first place, wouldn’t that have proved the ‘baba’ wrong, I haven’t seen any ‘baba’ predicting future with such a confidence by putting his business at stake. They would never do that, they are clever enough to make predictions that are difficult to verify or are ambiguous in nature.

Now I have a question to the readers those have seen the movie. Honestly tell me, how many of you thought that it could be the ‘baba’ who aided in the bomb blast. If majority of you got the same feeling after watching that scene then the movie itself dials a wrong number by making you think in that direction coz this was definitely not the case. Also the problem with the movie is that unlike ‘Oh My God’ the makers of the movie claim that they have covered all the religion and their common issues, which is a blatant lie as the movie focuses basically on Hindu rituals which is understandable as the majority of its viewers would be Hindus. I have problem only with the claim made by the makers of this movie which could have been an honest one. There are also a lot of people demanding movie makers to produce movies by targeting other religions and their practices or teachings which I think is preposterous. Those who are willing to correct their society are the ones who welcome criticism.

I welcome PK sans hypocrisy and better screenplay. Therefore #okokPK

Last but not the least; a prostitute would always know the meaning of ‘condom’!

Mumbai to NewYork – Part2/2

April 18, 2011

Continuing from the Mumbai to New York – Part1…..

The plane was already 20 minutes late now but still no hints of moving, the good part was that I was sitting at the window seat now, I also got the confirmation that the two seats beside me are gonna be empty through out. I thanked those two people and specially the one who had the window seat, for giving me the opportunity to sit at the window seat. Outside everything looked so placid unlike the usual Mumbai! I was watching other planes taking off and few others taxing their way to the other side.
There was something happening to the left side of me, inside the plane too, I turned and was pleasantly surprise to see the beautiful airhostess once again, fourth time this night :). She had actually come there because there was this guy who wanted to shift his place and wanted to sit at my place. (Guy!!!…God..why not Gal :)) I was not going to give my window seat to anyone, but soon realized that the guy actually wanted to sit at my original place, the third seat. It turned out that he was carrying a minor eye infection and the place where he was sitting previously had an infant there, so just in case the kid doesn’t catch the infection he wanted to change his seat (such a nice guy, he thought about the kid and forgot about me :)). Anyway he sat beside me, actually an empty seat separating us; he was wearing his shades so I couldn’t see the infected eyes though I tried to peek in from the side a couple of time. Actually there were hardly 4-5 empty seats in the plane so I was lucky enough to have 2 of them beside me (now 1 though).

After ten minutes of so I again heard a funny voice saying “this is your pilot speaking”, he announced that we would soon be taking off and also apologised for the delay which actually the AAI should be doing. He however assured that he would try to minimize the delay as much as possible. The seatbelt indicators above us were switched on; the no smoking indicators beside them were always on. I was ready with the belt, I fastened it up and sat comfortably. There was a common TV in front of us, at the centre, which was showing us the live footage from the side, front and the back of the plane.

There was some noise and a small jerk, the plane had started, woooooooooooo!
It first took a reverse, and then slowly started moving in the front. I suppose it was on the first gear, coz it was hardly moving. It moved for a distance and then stopped. I found out from the outside view that there were couple of more planes ahead of us and it was like when one plane takes off, there is one from above makes a land and then the other is allowed to take off. Nice coordination hmmm.

Now it was the turn of our plane to take off, the plane aligned itself to the runway, sped up a bit, and in not time vroooooom, zoooooooooom. Was that all, I said!!!!
It hardly took any time to take off, I just managed to get a glimpse of the WE Highway or was it EE, but after that nothing, I mean it was pitch dark. That was simply unbelievable to me, first thing was the speed it acquired in no time, definitely from gear 1 to gear 89. The second thing was the taking off; I just felt a minor jerk, got a glimpse of the highway and then all gone. I was expecting a nice view of Mumbai; don’t know if it was because of the clouds coz I was not able to see anything by now.
Anyway that snapshot of the glimpse of Mumbai is still fresh in my mind and would always be.

Fine, everything was settled by now. The seat belt indicator had gone off. The guy with a shade on was relaxing with his head on the head rest and I was still trying to sneak through the gap between the face and the goggles to see if that eye is indeed infected!
After some time the small TV in front of us came alive, we were able to select our choice from various options like, songs, movies, cartoons, information, gags, games etc. The control for the TV was attached with a wire to the elbow rest on the seat. I never needed it coz the screen was a touch screen.

Most of the people on the plane were off to a quick nap, or may be already deep asleep. I thought of getting a view of my surrounding, to the right was the wing of the plane and the bright lights over it. To the left enigmatic guy still relaxing with head tilted at 45 degrees. Behind me were three people, two of them quite old. I didn’t wanted to go far behind, but then there was a good looking girl reading some magazine. Far towards left was my aunty, now looking much more relaxed and I quickly pulled my self down in case she sees me and ask me to join her! In front of me was a young guy, a young lady and a rare empty seat between them. Three-four rows in front and then we are into the business class where there were lots of gorgeous looking ladies and handsome guys; they must be having fun for sure! By the way they were served drinks on arrival, and we were not asked anything:).
The common TV at top-front showing various angles from the outside cameras was still on but nothing was there in the picture, all blank with random dots as if the cable line had gone off.

It was already 2:15 AM and no signs of dinner yet, I was wondering if they had already started following the US time zone. But after few minutes of so, the good looking airhostess came to our aisle area, dragging a wheeled table with the food. By now I was sure that the airhostess was being assigned our aisle for the entire journey:). She began from the first row, asking each person their choice between veg and non-veg. Suddenly the plane came alive, there was chatting, whispering going around, people finally started moving, showing human traits, coz until five minutes back it seemed as if I am the only one on  the plane. I thought of washing my hand before I start eating, so I went behind only to find the loo engaged. I had no option but to wait, but my eyes were on the food, as soon as the airhostess reached my row, I left and ran to my seat. I feared that if my turn would go and I won’t get the food after that. As I reached there, I just asked “my food”, the pretty lady smiled at me and asked if I would prefer Veg or Non-Veg, I said Non-Veg, with a smile she handed me my food and went ahead.

Finally I was getting to eat. I opened the silver foil; the aroma from the food was quite good. There was rice, chicken masala, salad, cream, sugar, mineral water (in a tiny bottle), kheer, spoon, fork, knife, sugar, salt, tissue paper, an empty cup and few other things that I never used. Thankfully I didn’t had to use my hands as there was no chappati. The food was indeed good, better than I expected or may be my hunger made it taste good. The dessert too was yummy. I was curiously looking at the cream, coz I couldn’t figure out for what purpose was that meant for. As I slowly peeled the cover off and tried tasting I was prompted by my mysterious looking friend, he told me that it was to be put into coffee or the tea which would be served next. As he had prophesied, the coffee and the tea came, I opted for the tea, added the cream and sugar. It was not that good but then I didn’t expect it to be like the masala chai we get at the ‘nukkars’.
I and that guy started out with the conversation, he turned out to be a quite cordial person. He was in the US for last 7 years and working for Microsoft! He told me about his journey since he came in US for the first time for studies. We hit off quite well. I was curious to know about the US and he was more than willing to tell me all the stuffs. After a good chat for about 20 minutes we decided to catch a good sleep, most of the passengers were already asleep. The lights had already gone dim. I tried for few good videos on the TV but none were of my taste! While I was trying to get a nap I heard a kid crying loudly from the front – mid row and that was so annoying. To add to the situation one more kid from behind started crying, may be these kids were secretly talking to each other and making fun of all of us who were trying to sleep. I stood up a little and glanced around, people were unperturbed by the noise, probably they were used to it by now. Anyway the seat was not that comfortable so I was not able to get a sleep in the first place. After every 20 minutes or so I used to get up and peep outside and on the TV I used to track the route which our plane was flying on along with the current speed and outside temperature. For most of the time the temperature was around -60 degrees Celsius and the speed was around 840 kms per hour. The other thing I noticed was that the plane was taking the coastal route for most of the time, rather than flying over the landmass. It went through Arabian Sea, Pakistan, Iran, over Mediterranean countries, Europe, underneath Sweden, UK and to the Atlantic. Over the Atlantic too, it went close to the ice land, Greenland, then to the Canada and finally to the US. (Ya, that was fast forward, let us get back to the current time!)

Trying to sleep but couldn’t I took several short naps, got up every now and then, stared at the people around me….still thinking if this is all real! Morning never came (we were moving from east to west, and so does the relative motion of the Sun) it was just that after 5-6 hours people started showing some signs of life, that too most of them in and around the loo. I too got out of my seat, waited outside the loo, pretending as if waiting for a beer! And when I went inside the loo….guess what, that was a rat-hole, God – O – God. I anyhow adjusted my self on to the commode, lightened my self and then proceeded towards something that would be handy throughout my stay in US, which is using a toilet paper…ughhhh that was really disgusting. But while writing now, I am already used to it :). There was a mouth wash liquid, I tried it, didn’t feel good so tried it again, didn’t feel good again, so tried it again and then never tried it ever. I use my brush always :).

I washed my hands, came out and sat on my birth. It was still dark outside.
The very next moment we were about to have the breakfast. I checked the map and our current location. We were over the land of America, most probably near the Boston. Yes! We were taking route from the north and moved towards the south this made sense since through out the journey I saw the plane taking the coastal roots.

Now it had started to become bright outside. I could see clouds below and intermittently some beautiful landscapes :). I took out my cell phone to click few snaps of the view outside only to be interrupted by the guy sitting in front of me. “Not allowed to take snaps” was what he said, I was bit surprised as my stranger friend had told me that it is fine to take snaps, and it was my cell phone not a camera. Also there were no such instructions on the plane (although they told us to switch off the mobile phones :)). Anyway I obliged to the guy who interrupted. Guess what after few conversation with him, I came to know that he too was from TCS!! Back to view outside, these were the scenes which I hadn’t seen in my life before. I could see the majestic Atlantic sea bracing the long shore of NYC. I was minutes away from landing somewhere I had only dreamt of. The plane was taking a compete 90 degrees turn to the right, I could see the wings clearly tilted downwards, the sun rays from the east which till now were falling on the wings were completely blocked by the tilt. Just before the landing, we were given couple of forms to be filled up, for me it was only the I94 and the custom declaration form. With little help from my stranger friend I filled up the forms. For next few minutes I was just looking outside, it felt as if the morning has come after so many dark nights, really felt like eternity in the plane. Announcements were already made to fasten the seatbelts, the seatbelt indicators were all on. In next few minutes it was it, the MOMENT, we were about to land, I was ready for it, could see the runway getting big at me, closer closer….and finally the tyres rubbed against the land, didn’t feel much of the jerk as I was expecting, credits to the pilot :).

Now the plane was about to taxi down. We heard the announcements of the weather outside (7 Celsius) and couple of other announcements which I ignored coz I was only looking at the view outside. I had reached USA…..finally the dream has become a reality.

PS: I was quick to reach the Immigration check, in fact I was the second person from our batch to reach their. Quickly after that I took my luggage, this experience of searching for my luggage through the conveyer was again first of its kind for me, I was lucky to spot my luggage quickly. Just when I was ready for the customs, I saw that aunty of mine. She was being assisted by an airport staff; I went to her, she was very happy to see me. I helped her get her luggage off the conveyer. We went towards the custom, got all clear, and moved towards the exit. We saw people waiting for their loved ones, few holding the placards. Right in front were my friends Gibin and Shardha. It was great feeling to be with them after such a long time. For the aunty, her son had come there to receive her. They hugged each other and aunty was already in tears. After couple of minutes I went there, said her good bye, she introduced me to her son with all the good words for me :). He thanked me for what I did for her. I bid adieu to them and we were on our way to New Jersey.

Maths of Religion and God

March 6, 2011

The Maths of Religion and God:

Guys, this one is quite serious and controversial topic to write on. But I am just writing this coz I feel very strong about this particular topic. This one is about Religion and God.

There are two things here, Religion and God. I don’t believe in Religion per se but definitely I believe in God and I don’t have any clue about the nature of God. Shape, size, structure, height, width, volume, perimeter, color code….I just don’t have any structure in my mind when I think of God. God might just be randomness in this universe; I guess my thinking just can not comprehend an Image of god. But when I think of him (I am biased to call him and not her :)), I just give him a nice smiling face kind of structure, just for the sake of it. Similar to what we used to do in Mathematics, let the variable be ‘x’. Just to solve the equation. The only difference is barring the exam time, I would always find the value of ‘x’ but here I don’t have such luck. ‘x’ remains ‘x’ for ‘x’ amount of time, may be after some ‘x’ number of years we would solve this mystery.

Coming to Religion, all religions preach good things in life. For me I would love to listen what all religion has to say about life and what does it preach. I have in fact read quite a number of articles on various religions and there are indeed tons of good things to follow. But do we really need religion to be good in life and if that is the case almost everybody on this planet would be a good person and there would not be any conflicts. But this clearly is not the case and thus the other thing that is very clear is that when it comes to interpreting the sayings of a religious book, it is free for all. For me religious books are good books but not 100% perfect and we can surely have a huge debate on this. Who knows how much truth is there in all these books, history is always a mystery.

What I believe is that all the Gods in all the religions are just a medium to reach out to THE GOD, the ‘x’. So whenever I see some representation for these Gods in any form, it definitely doesn’t stop me from thinking of THE ‘x’ that I believe in. I just think that religions where originally made to keep people in a group, to enjoy and celebrate events together, have unity and work with like minded people, in short to give a name to their relationship, their existence and their bonding. Only problem was that none of the religion ever took into the consideration that there could be other groups and religions somewhere else. And this is not their problems coz they were perhaps not aware of it, and now that we are aware, we should definitely stop being selfish and act together, work and live together without having grudge about other’s religion or sentiments.

Also, I just don’t find a single reason of what bad could happen if we didn’t have any religion at all, but humanity, trust, faith, sympathy, care and most importantly Love. Having religions not only creates animosity but also they are the root of numerous wars and killing in the past and probably would be in the future too. In my view most of the bad people that I have seen are also the most pious and religious although the reverse is not true. The whole concept of my Religion or God is greater than yours just make me go crazy. How could someone say that! How could one Religion be superior to other, this could well be the most non-sensical and most selfish thing possible. This thing is as trivial as say taking a variable ‘x’ or ‘y’ for that matter ‘f’ for solving an equation. If you are good with your Maths, you will definitely reach to a common answer irrespective of variable chosen or the steps followed. Also I really don’t think that God is here to solve all the problems in our lives else there wouldn’t be any suffering in the world. Everybody would be happy (what a sad life would that be). But God definitely can help you if you are strong enough to help yourselves, he (I am still biased) can definitely lighten your task and that is what I always wish from him, a helping hand.

To end this crisp post, I don’t always have to go to the religious place to feel the presence of God. A setting Sun, gorgeous Moon, pouring rain, thunders and light, an act of help, someone’s smile, snowy mountain, flowing stream, innocence of a kid, love of a Mother, tears of loved ones for you, a beautiful movie, a strangers hand, soothing Music, and many more reminds me of God each day and every time. Guess what; going to some religious place is just one of the options too.

PS: All these are my personal views and thus I have refrained from using “we”. By no means I disrespect any religion or others sentiments, coz for me it really doesn’t matter, everything is ‘x’.

MOvie reViEw – Dhobi ghat

February 5, 2011

Dhobi Ghat:

This is my first full fledged movie review and I don’t think I could have chosen a better movie for it. Dhobi Ghat (2011) is Kiran Roa’s (Amir Khan’s Present wife) first movie as a director. Not only this, it is also a debut movie for the two actresses Monica Dogra (Shai) and Kriti Malhotra (Yasmin). The actor Prateik Babbar (Munna) is too just a movie old and then we have our own perfectionist “Amir Khan” (Arun).

So first thing first, staying here in US doesn’t help when it comes to the latest movies and their general buzz going around back in India. Although I had heard of the name of the Movie (through twitter and facebook updates) I never went deep into it, never bothered googling it. It was 21st of January when I first saw the trailer of the movie on YouTube and believe me I was instantly in love with the background score. Even the presentation of the characters and their links were shown in a great fashion in that three odd minutes of the trailer. Coincidentally it was the same day when the movie was released in India. Soon after this I started getting reviews of the movie from my friends, many through social networking, and baring one or two, rest all were thumbs down. I wanted to see that in theatre but the air was that the movie is a boring one, very slow and with an abrupt ending. I searched for the reviews by the critics and they were just ok ok kind of reviews. Most of the ratings were between 3 and 4 on the scale of five. But I had couple of great reviews through twitter, so that put me in kind of dilemma. To add to the dilemma, I don’t watch the Bollywood movies much since I get more varieties in Hollywood, I don’t want to sound like a cynic but that is true.

But after a week or so I just couldn’t stop myself from watching the movie. Actually it was the trailer that had something in it saying it loud that this movie is different! Also when we have completely diverse reviews it is prudent to go ahead and watch it for ourselves.

So I went ahead and saw the movie and here is what I felt. Soulful and thought full! To express my reaction, I could have used the words like “amazing”, “mind blowing” or ubiquitous “awesome” but it would have been a cliché which the movie it self is not!

First thing first, the movie is not at all slow. For me it got over soon, I was completely into it and never realized when the movie was over. Then come the ending. It couldn’t have been better, given the usual mystery surrounding the movie; it was good that the expected end was not shown in it. For those who said the ending was abrupt must be expecting “happily married” tag behind a car, zooming out of the screen. The ending was totally in sync with the soul of the movie. The next thing I heard people and the review comments ranting was that there is no story in the movie. Please define story! Anyway movies are more to reality than stories. For stories I can always fall back to Spider man, Batman, Superman, Chacha Chaudhary, Naagraj, Super commando “Dhruv”, Mogli, Alice in wonderland etc etc.

Before going to the movie let me say that the actors have done a stupendous job in the movie. Given both the female stars were debutants, it is really a commendable work. Hats off to “Kiran” for selecting the actors who could justify their roles. “Shai” is brilliant in playing a girl coming from US and wanting to get versed with the life of Mumbai and to find out how things work on granular level. Being in US for long time (courtesy twitter) must have helped her, and in turn her role in the movie. Looks promising, some of the scenes are clear top notch. “Yasmin” too had a difficult role to play given she has to speak to herself for most of the time in the movie. The innocence of a girl from a small town, the curiosity of a person being introduced to a city for the first time, the care for ones family, everything has been perfectly covered. Talented she is. “Munna” I have to say is the actor to watch out for. Take it from me; given the opportunity he will surprise us with his acting ability. He carries a carefree attitude, nowhere in the movie does it appears as if he is acting, it comes so naturally for him. Top notch acting, hats off. Last but not the least, “Arun”, we all know him and I appreciate “Kiran” for giving him that kind of role. Not making him big but just the part of the movie has again gone with the soul of the movie. It won’t be wrong for me at least to say that “Arun” was overshadowed by other actors (yes in terms of acting), probably he was under played but then it might have been done purposely coz it made the movie even more powerful.

Let me tell you that the first thing that made me fall for the movie was the “Music” when I first saw the trailer. If the movie had just the music in it, still I would have seen the entire movie or should I say, would have listened. It still lingers when I think of the movie. There is something in it… and I don’t know what! So my third Hat that goes off is for the Music.

Let us now jump to the movie. This is the exact kind of movie that I can pay for watching again and again.  This one goes right there in top 3 Bollywood movies for me. I don’t want to sound saying other Bollywood movies are bad but I like these kind of movies a lot. “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer” is top in my list. These are just that kind of movie that catches the smallest of things in detail. The emotions and expression run so high that you feel it happening for real. It is like reading a book and flipping the pages with your fingers rather than scrolling down a pdf.

There are many instances where you really can’t stop appreciating the movie. The busy life of normal Mumbaikars being captured by “Yasmin” with her camera and then the same kind of life “Arun” watches through his balcony when he comes to stay at that place. It looks so natural, everyone busy doing their work; no one wear even a smile for others not even for self. The sadness veiled behind the bustling city is so apparent here. People here are so occupied that other than their work they don’t see anything else, they just don’t get to see.

The most surprising part in terms of acting and capturing the life and expressions of people is when “Yasmin” takes video of her “Bai”. I just can’t explain how natural that little piece in the movie was. The way the “Bai” speaks, her expression, things she tells, her daughter hesitantly appearing in front of the camera but standing behind her mother, her recital of the poem, the mistakes in it, but then her explanation to her mother on how “Yasmin” will send the video to her brother, her reply of “English” medium, everything was simply amazing.

Other things like the scene where “Arun” drinks rain water from the roof of his chawl and “Munna” had to put a plastic cover on his roof so that the rain water doesn’t seep through. Simple things like “Munna” while he goes for bath in the morning, helps a drunk guy by laying him off the tracks, or say his cousin reading in the same room in which he and his other cousin watches movie. It is not about his reading in the chaos but the way he always bend forward and hunches back is notable, most of the people in “Madrasas” read that way, he being a Muslim brings reality to his character. This happens just for few seconds but then I am speaking of the subtle things in the movies and very often in life that people don’t appreciate much. I can relate to so many people with “Munna” when that scene happens where “Shai” asks him why he doesn’t have a girl friend given he as such a good body and he grins, the smile is worth watching and then “Shai” knows that she is just asking what “Munna” wants her to. Then “Shai’s” facial expression and her eye movement when “Munna” poses for the photo session with his shirt off is again one of the bright moments in the movie, where you see the brilliance in their acting. Then there is “Arun’s” reaction when he finds out that the video that he is watching was taken in the same room, his expression of comparing the current place with the one in video simply top act. Other instances like the one where “Shai” watches “Arun” from the construction site, we see couple of workers behind her, their curiosity is so obvious in their body language. Then there is an old woman who just plays the role of a watcher, who knows about everyone but can not interact with anybody else. There are few other things that are worth noting, even when towards the end when “Munna’s” cousin dies, there is an indirect connection between his death and “Shai’s” presence. Parallel to his death we come to know that even “Yasmin” has committed suicide. It is perhaps the death of his brother that prompts “Munna” to give her the “Arun’s” address even when he likes “Shai” a lot.

Ironically one who should be happy cries and one who should be sad, smiles! Above mentioned things are just few of the things that are on top of my head right now and I am sure there are many. There are!

Having said all that, I have couple of open questions that I didn’t understand even after watching the movie twice.
The first one and an important one is that the movie starts with “Yasmin” capturing the video of Mumbai, does this suggest that she was still alive at that time. Coz that was in the real time, we were not into the cassettes yet. If that is the case, it is confusing that she died and how old are the tapes, coz “Arun” had just moved into that room. Please reply to this if somebody knows the answer to this.

The other questions are like what does “Yasmin” writes on the sand in Urdu? What is the role of that old woman (watcher) in the movie? Does the women who towards the end of the movie warn “Munna” not to dream of the American Girl, is related to him in anyway? Probably she was just one of his old clients. And last one, just coming out of no where, is “Arun’s” wife still alive, apparently in Australia or is it only his son there?

In the end, I would like to say that “Amir Khan” didn’t look comfortable in smoking the way he did!

Happy watching….
If I were to give a rating, mine would be 9/10.

ShortHand for a Long Trip

January 30, 2011

Second Trip to NYC:

3:00 PM – Had Maggi – My Friend Gibin’s Car – Dropped at Hamilton Station – 3:37 PM – Train to NYC – 4:53PM – reached NYC – walked till Bryant’s Park 42nd street – Watched people Skating – Friends Vinay and Hardik came – Entered the Park – Put on the Skates – Landed on the pond – tried real hard to Skate freely – failed – still did lot better than last time – friends were doing good – fell 4-5 times in between – stood up every time to fall again – but now at least confident of waking on the ice if not skate – tired of skating – moved out of the park – headed for station – had nice dinner @penn station – took the subway train to Queens at friend’s place – met their friends – had chat – watched the Ind-SA one run win Highlights – went to bed – very nice sleep – got up at 8:15AM – everybody else sleeping – did my routine – tried my best to get Vinay up – but in vain – checked my mails – spoke to Vinay about the visits for that day – replied in sleep – others got up – Vinay too got up snapping last 2 days sleep at one go – ate “farsan”, “chikki”, etc – 12:30 PM went for lunch – at subway – had a foot long – bid adieu to Vinay – he swiped for me, his card – entered the station – caught the train – got down at Penn station – three other friends Neha, Tejaswini and Gibin were at NYV too – were at Empire state building – went till the empire state – had coffee near it @ Star Bucks – went ahead – caught a street show – friends met there – took snaps and video – went to the pizza hut – they had lunch – I was full – then decided to go to the central park – took the subway – walked a bit – reached central park – the south entrance – amazing feeling – looked so bright coz of the snow cover – saw frozen lake – went to the zoo – zoo was closed – came back –  decided to go to the Madame Tussauds next – took a cab – reached times square – the evening looked so full of lights – walked couple of blocks – reached Madame Tussauds – statues by statues went to each wax models – took numerous snaps – joked – laughed – experienced a flop haunting show – watched a 15mins 4-D show – came out of the building – spend few minutes at times square – headed towards the MoMA – walked a LOT – reached MoMA – it was closed – walked a bit – saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral Church – went inside – beautiful and mesmerizing it was – took few snaps – took some rest – came out of the church – went to the Rockerfeller  center – to the top of the rock – took few snaps – came down – wanted to go to the Bryant’s Park – but instead took cab for Penn station – everybody were exhausted – must have walked 10 miles the entire day – took ticked for Hamilton – paid through card – forgot to collect ticket – ran back – took the ticket – caught the train – reached Hamilton at 10:10PM – came back to home – had dinner – to a deep sleep and sweet dreams :).

Coincidences!!

January 15, 2011

Strange Coincidences:

Coincidence #1

Twice have I tried giving the prestigious and much touted CAT exam, but very strangely there were couple of incidents which when I look back seems so freaky.

So for the first time when I was gonna write CAT was in the year 2009. Now when the CAT dates were out for that year, we were supposed to go to few selected Axis bank branches to get the vouchers. The nearest branch to my place was the Borivali’s Branch. So I took my bike and went there, stood in the queue which wasn’t as big as I expected to be. But when I was half way in the queue, I heard the security shouting on top of his voice, “ye kiska bike hai”, I was wondering “hoga koi poor fellow” only to realize, hey! It could be mine too. I ran towards the exit only to find a traffic police and a towing van and few shabby guys who looked more like the local goons. Those goons were towing my bike, my lovely ‘flying-rani’. I quickly went to the police inspector and told him that it was my bike. I had parked the bike off the road (although on the pavement). But there were other bikes too, and God knows why only my bike got picked.

I told the ‘hawaldar’ that I didn’t know that it was no parking zone and I had gone inside for just couple of minutes to get a form. The Hawaldar didn’t say anything but asked for my license. I obliged and then he told me to pick up the license from the traffic police office near the National Park. I apologized for my mistake and but he didn’t listen. In the end I had to do what he wanted me to do. I took out “sau ki patti”, I was really sad that I didn’t had “50 ki patti” and wanted to bargain with him but then let it go. He slyly put it inside his pocket and told me to collect the receipt from the National Park, I wanted to just give him a nice lecture but then I let this go too. My bike was again with me. On asking where to park my bike now, he told me to either park it on the opposite side or to the street just next to the bank. I parked it in the street, it was a deserted street in terms of people and stuff but there were few bikes already parked. I should have seen this before, but anyway I went back to the bank and got my form and rushed back to my bike just in case I don’t have to witness double whammy.

Luckily my bike was still resting; I hopped on and took my keys….keys!!! Where the hell is the keys, it was not in my pocket, OMG I had lost it somewhere, double whammy definitely. I traced back the route, looking down to the road if I had dropped it inadvertently but couldn’t find it. Then I went to the bank again, and thanked God coz the security man was holding my keys and asking people in the queue if it was theirs. I barged in and thanked the watchman and went back to my home.

Now I have already written a blog about how I missed my first “billi” I mean the CAT exam. Yes I did miss the CAT exam as I reached late for it and thus was not allowed to enter in. The details are mentioned in one of the post of this blog so I am not going into it all over again…or shall I :).

A year passed. It was 2010. Again the CAT announcements were out in the papers. This time I was bit serious about the exam, even had enrolled for mock tests. So again I had to go to the axis bank to get the voucher. I took my “flying rani” straight to Marve road and then a left to link road…bang! reached Borivali. This actually makes the bank as X-Axis bank, had I taken a right turn it would be Y-Axis bank. For those who are still wondering what I am talking about, guys this is a PJ, please oblige me and laugh:).

So on reaching the bank I was very mindful of not parking my bike at no parking zone (this zone I am so very sure that the traffic police make at their own whim). So I went bit ahead and parked it into the street where few other bikes were parked (same street I had to park after my bike got towed a year before). I went to the bank, again not as big a queue as I expected it to be. Got the voucher in 10 minutes or so, and headed towards home. But hang on a second…what the &*^@, where is my “flying rani”, I jut couldn’t believe my eyes that my Bike was towed again. This time I was so very furious coz I had parked it at the right place this time. I didn’t had any clue what to do, last time the towing van (vehicle eater) was standing by the bank so I could get my bike on the spot but his time the street was deserted. I waited for a minute wondering what should I be doing, and then bang…saw the towing van coming from the other end of the street. I waved to the vehicle and it stopped. I saw my poor “flying rani” being stuffed between few other bikes. I told the traffic police that it was my bike and also told him that I had parked it at the right place. The traffic police with a growling voice asked for my license and told me that my bike wasn’t parked at the right place coz it was not within some 20 odd feet from the turn that leads to the main road, it was against the rules. I was just looking at him and wondering what the shit is he speaking:) Which all laws do I have to know now, and does this law even exists and above all I am sure that my bike was well over 20 feet away from the turn. I even told him that it was parked way away from that turn; he didn’t agree and said that if that is the case I should get my bike from national park. Shit man! I again thought why only my bike, reached out to my wallet, again regretted not having a Rs 50 note, so got 100 ka note and handed over and asked for the receipt. He said for receipt I have to pay 200. I was just looking at him with anger, he turned away, handed me my license and the towing van went ahead to eat more vehicles. My bike was left behind by the goons, I took the bike, hopped on and then the last thing was still waiting to happen!!! My keys GOD…where are my keys, I searched my pocket, it was missing….I went straight to the bank, this time the watchman too didn’t had anything for me, I traced back my path to the bike looking down to the road but didn’t find my keys. Something clicked and I reached out to my bag that I had put over my shoulder, and there it was….probably sub consciously I had kept my keys in the bag just to be safe.

BTW in the 5 years I have ridden my bike, my bike had got towed only on three occasions (if I recollect them all), two of them are already mentioned in this post (which makes this even more strange) and the third one too happened in Borivali but not near the X-Axis bank :). It was the very first incident of my bike getting towed and in this case I had to go to National Park to fetch it back.

Couple of months after this incident one more thing happened before I could give my CAT exams. I got onsite opportunity in somewhat unusual and unexpected manner and came to onsite therefore missed my CAT again:), isn’t it a coincident or should I say series of coincidences!!!

Historical Trip to NYC

January 9, 2011

Trip to NYC:

This was going to be my first Christmas in US and guess what it was also my first Christmas eve :). So here was the plan for the Friday the 24th. We were clueless of even going out somewhere coz most of my friends have been to NYC on number of occasions. But then my friend Sardha who also happens to be my sis was very firm that even if no one comes with us, we would still be going. So finally in the morning of this Friday we decided that we would indeed be going for NYC and we had one more friend to accompany, our own Sudhendu. So we were just three, going to NYC as it is in the movie NewYork :). I still believe I am John, no arguments guys 🙂

At around 10:00AM I got a call from Sardha that we would be leaving at around 1:15 in the afternoon. So beginning 12:30 I ate a banana, put eggs to boil, made sure that I have enough battery and space in my camera (my only priced possession). While the eggs were boiling I googled information about the place we would be visiting including the train arrival and departure timings. At sharp 1:10 I again got call from Sardha to be ready and come down, this was the time when one complete egg was inside my mouth, I nodded and said I would be there. I quickly finished the other egg, arranged my stuff the camera, hand gloves, skull cap, train time table and the piece of information gathered through google. The car was already waiting for me, I rushed down and we headed towards the Hamilton station. Luckily couple of other common friends was also going out for the weekend so we got a ride till the station.

In next 20mins we were at the parking lot of the station and we could see 1:37 train heading off from there. The next train was at 2:05 so we went to the waiting area after removing the ticket to NYC (to and fro – 30$). Other than us there were 5-6 other from our company whom we met at the station, they too were headed towards NYC, so kind of TCS gang now, although we decided to go our own way, just three of us. I officially mark my fantastic trip to NYC from this moment on.

Waiting for the train, behind us was a lady, beautifully dressed but hey there was something drastically odd about her behavior. She was wearing a heavy make up and dressed elegantly, sitting crossed legs STILL. I mean she was not moving at all, there wasn’t any motion from her. To be very frank I first thought she was a DOLL, really. I was in fact going to take her picture, I am not kidding, she had a fake look on her, but then my friends told me that she was actually moving but her movement was subtle. I observed minutely and I did see here eyes and lips move. Till date I don’t know the reason behind her behavior. The other interesting thing was that just in front row there was this two ladies chatting and whispering close to each other. Then guess what after few minutes they started kissing each other, mind you both of them were ladies! I told one of my friend to see what was happening, (I know that was private thing, but then it was a public place :)). He saw and then scoffed at by asking “haven’t you seen this in Mumbai, Band stand and all” only to correct himself coz he mistook one of them as a guy :). With just 15 mins left for the train I decided to go to the platform and take few snaps.

As I took off my camera and was adjusting my self for a good shot, here was a guy who came to me and asked about the camera I was carrying. I showed him the camera and soon we were into a conversation. He was originally from Russia and was going to Romania. He too was interested in photography and in fact showed me his camera. He asked me where was I from. Then he started telling me about himself. Apparently he had worked in Marines and had come to US when he was 10. He was a cool dude, only thing was that he was smoking while we were chatting. Anyway, he suggested me few good places to visit in NYC. It seemed he had left marine so that he could go around the world and enjoy life. He was a bachelor and wanted to be the same all his life so that there was nothing stopping him from being a freelancer. He in fact told me that he has a huge map with him and whenever he feels like going somewhere he just throws a dart from a distance and wherever the dart lands is the place he would be visiting next….coooool isn’t it. I always dream of this life, going around the world enjoying each and every place, I really think that the life would be a waste staying at one place for ever, this in one time opportunity that we should be utilizing to its entirety. The only thing about it is the Finance or money, where would that come from…..I wanted to ask him but then deterred.

Finally the train arrived too, I bid the guy goodbye. I really learnt a lot from him in that short span of time. The train was bang on time, the doors opened, we entered and our journey took off even faster. Coincidentally the Russian guy was sitting behind me, it felt bit awkward since I was with my friends this time, I just smiled. One of my friend offered me the window seat (else I would have preferred sitting alone :)). It was a 6 seater, 3 either side specially made for people who love gossiping….like us! Through out the journey of over an hour we were the only group making that much of noise. Any way the trains here are half full most of the time, so nobody cares. We reached the Penn station (NYC) at around 3:15PM. I said final adieu to the Russian, wished him luck for Romania, put on my jacket, and left the train.

The very feeling of seeing so many people around made me happy, coz this is so rare at the place where we stay, in fact you see people only in major cities like this one. We came out of the subway and were greeted with the vibrancy of the city, it felt as if we were in entirely different part of the world (which actually it is :)). Standing just outside the Madison Square we took few snaps and moved towards our first destination the “Empire State” building. We knew that it was close to this place. We were at the 6th avenue and had to go to the 5th avenue, street number 33. This was the first time ever for each one of us to be traveling without a person having knowledge of the place. But it was fun, we crossed streets, asked couple of people the direction, believed our intuition on couple of occasions, crossed the Empire state building, went away from our destination….YES we crossed the Empire state building but didn’t recognize coz it was from the side and the top was not visible due to the height and the angle. But as we moved away, Saradha pointed to the building and asked if that is the one, I was so happy to see that coz I recognized at once that this is it….I had only seen it in the movies, TV or in the pics but this was live. It was gorgeous; we quickly moved towards the building, in fact traced back our way and soon were standing just opposite the mammoth structure. A clean inscription “The Empire State”, the top of the building, the place….everything looked so surreal. We crossed the street, and entered inside the building with the crowd. Yes it was crowded….so much crowded. There was a serpentine queue for the ticket and then the security too was very tight. Weirdly the security here was more than what I saw at the NY Airport when I landed. We had to go through the scanner with our belongings through conveyer belt and then to the scanner. After that was the ticket counter, 21$ for the 85th floor which has the observatory and 15 extra bucks if someone wants to view things from the summit, it was 102nd floor if remember well, which I actually I don’t. I took the tickets and we went ahead for the elevator. Again there was a big queue, but the people around didn’t made it feel bore. Just for the record the couple immediately ahead of me were kissing each other every 23 seconds or so. I mean I observed….i mean not the kiss but their chemistry…this girl used to touch the guy’s thigh and then they used to kiss, and sometimes the guy says something funny and then they used to kiss. There were countless gals who were not only brilliant looking but simple awesome, flawless…I was living the moment only to get sad when the thing strike me that most of them were couples :).

Anyway our turn came and we were let into the elevator. From 2-3-5-10-15-20-30-50-70-77-79, we wondered why only till this, we have to go to 85th floor. But nothing was in our control the lifts were programmed that way. We came out and again saw a serpentine queue. The queue was for another “programmed” elevator that would take us to the 85th floor. But looking at the unexpected flow of visitors the guards there made an announcement saying volunteers are free to take the stairs and climb up 6 floors or wait for their turn for next 15minutes in the queue. Half of the crowd dispersed and took the stairs; we belonged to that half…better half….better people…you know!! The stair space was narrow, we moved ahead chatting and there were many like us….guess what in the elevator everybody were quiet but now there was buzz everywhere, this is the fun with taking the stairs :).

So we reached the observatory point in no time, never felt we climbed 6 floors. There were people all around the circumference (observatory was circular is shape) with their cameras on. It was almost sunset now and too perfect for the view. As we stepped out to the open, we could not stop admiring the beauty of the city. It was too perfect a view, the sky in reddish-orange color just enhanced the glimmer, with all the city lights turned on and we viewing this from such a height was really an experience. The Hudson River looked calm from the top, the cloudless sky made the view even more enticing, the lights from the towers and far away were twinkling with grace. I was lost in the moment; I took my camera and started capturing this lifetime experience moment. There were so many people that it was difficult to get a place to steadily take snaps but I managed anyhow. I took a complete view from all over the point and after about 20mins or so when I could not bear the biting cold anymore and that I had viewed and captured views from all the directions or should I say angles.
Now this was the funny part; in the midst of all these I lost Shardha and Sudhendu, or should I say, they lost me. So here I was searching for my friends and they were searching for me, I went complete 3 circles but couldn’t find them. I am not sure how much circle did they go or how many times did we cross each other coz it was dark and to complement the dark each one of us were completely packed into jackets, caps, and gloves, so that made even for difficult to recognize someone. I then decided to just stand in the middle with my camera on, so that my friends who were searching for me could recognize, as expected Sudhendu came from behind and we were back together.

The epical scenes were behind us now, and we were feeling hungry. So we stopped by a burger king outlet and had some food, fuelled our selves and went ahead with our journey. The best part with the NYC is that there are so many shops, so many people, so much of energy that it make you feel comfortable being there. You can anytime stop by a shop to have food, buy things from the stalls on the roads, walk aimlessly until you drop and above all be the part of the hustle-bustle of the city.

Our next destination was the Brooklyn bridge, the same bridge we have seen in so many movies include Bollywood ones. We knew that it was to the south of NYC and we had the address too but didn’t know how to go about it. So I called up one of my friend who stays in NYC and whom I had never called in decades, to give me the direction :). He generously guided me, we took the subway (for the first time again in my life) near by. This is again a good thing about the planning of this City; you have subway entries and exit on almost every steet\avenues. Soon we were inside the train heading towards Brooklyn. Again for the first time inside the subway train, I could relate this to many of the Hollywood movies that I have seen. In next 15 mins or so we were at the Brooklyn station, we came out, read the direction, followed our instinct and went ahead. Sudhendu was leading us this time, just after couple of minutes of walk we were witness to a beautiful and a grand bridge quaintly illuminating in the darkness of the pleasant night . The pavement was aptly laid between the two busy roads, in next 10 minutes we were right at the center of the bridge. It was again an exhilarating experience to be on the bridge and see the East River underneath it and Atlantic Ocean far away, couple of more bridges were seen at a far distance. We took a lot of snaps there, acted foolishly sometimes, and tried couple of weird pose. Btw one thing striking about this area was that all the people we met on the bridge were like the “Chinese\Japanes\Koreans”. All means all. Still don’t know the reason behind this. Again btw one funny incident happened there when we asked two gorgeous looking girls (most probably Koreans) to take our snaps. Now one of the girl in white jacket, long straight hairs and perfect figure was more that happy to click for us. But hey, the way she posed, I mean posed to take our snap was so weird but definitely hot!! She took the camera, bent towards her right at almost 90 degrees and tried taking snap….i could not comprehend why would she have to bend and take snap, it is we who were posing not her. But anyway she could not get a good pic of us which even she admitted to, so she handed over the camera to her other friend, she looked more practical, stood perfectly and clicked, and bingo it was a nice pic. We thanked them both, they replied with their killing smiles and that white jacket girl…OMG…less said the better…still have that picture of her in my mind…absolute beauty :). But this thing really annoys me, why do beautiful girls have to act idiot, the way she did :).

After about spending 30mins or so we trace back the same lane, with vehicles both the sides and clean walkway at the center. Mind you the sub zero temperature was in no way helping our cause, it made us move all the time, we could not stay at a single place for long, we needed to walk to keep ourselves warn enough, and if we have people like those Koreans then should I say hot enough :). It was around half past 7, we moved towards our next destination that was the Wall Street. Although it was quite a distance from here, we decided to go walking till there. This was the time when Sudhendu felt like relieving himself, and due to contagious effect I too felt like rushing to loo ASAP. Sudhendu spotted a pharmacy we went inside and started the search for the loo but to our disappointment we couldn’t find any, I was anyway not convinced at first place that there would be any loo there, we might get diapers though ;). We came out, and rushed to our next destination that was loo. I regret not using the bridge in better way, nobody would have come to know I am sure :). But to the pleasure of our eyes we saw our own McDonalds outlet few meters ahead, we rushed towards it and directly went into the loo, it was amazing that we could find the location for the loo in that big outlet that quickly, that was intuitive I guess. I tell you with all the jackets, gloves, skull caps, mufflers etc Loo is definitely not a preferred place. So finally we were relieved and then moved ahead for the big bull. In next 5 minutes or so we were at the Wall Street. It really looked dull in the night; there were hardly any people out there. No buy, sell calls or puts. Most of them who were present were actually cops and security since that place was a sensitive one. Disappointingly we could not find the big bull even after going round and round about the street, perhaps that bull was being guarded since there were few streets that were closed for entry due to security reasons. Anyway we saw the surrounding, and without wasting any time took the subway (again found it nearby) and moved towards the famous Rockefeller Center. The subway station was completely deserted and it felt we were the only people out there, in fact there was a moment were we were speaking loudly while removing the tickets and then I saw two pair of legs entering the subway station taking the stairs, but then the legs took a halt. It seemed our voice scared those two ladies (legs are enough to distinguish the gender, isn’t it :)), but after few seconds when they realized that it was an innocuous sound (perhaps listening to Sardha speak) they moved in and I was almost laughing at them :). The train came in next 10minutes, and we hopped in. Each time we took the train, I and Sudhendu used to gasp at the metro map and follow the directions that we take. Believe me; the system is so well organized that you can travel alone without a fear of losing direction. Anyway we did lose direction when we reached the 95th street in search of Rockefeller center which is actually situated at the 47-50th street. With the help of a very generous lady we got the correct address, so we hopped back into the subway and moved down town to the 50th street, it was actually our bad and not the system’s fault btw.

We reached at the 55th street but before going to the Rockerfeller center we had something very important to do….fill our empty belly. My friend from NYC had recommended me to this Halal food center which is more of a “dhaba” kind of shop which was at the 48th street and opposite the Hilton towers. So we directly went to “Halal”, to our amazement there was a huge serpentine queue and most of them were either Indians or from Pakistan not sure. They all looked similar; it felt like home a very similar feeling of eating in night at “Bade miya” in Churchgate – Mumbai. For the first time today we heard people speaking in Hindi although there were few who spoke English in a very annoying accent, Americans have a great accent but these people were totally ruining it. Anyway we had the option of not to stand in the queue and that too when the temperature is 4 degrees below freezing, but since this was a very famous “dhaba” we stood there wasting our time gossiping over gibberish things. After about 40 minutes our turn came and we took the hot served food plate and started filling our tummies. The hot vapors out from the food felt like heaven over our naked hands. We were given two sauces that we were supposed to mix and eat but it was too cold outside to resist that much of time just to mix stuffs. The food was not that great, at least for us, may be the sauces would have increase the taste but anyway we could not finish the food since it was heavy and the quantity was good enough for two meals. After the food we went ahead to the Rockerfeller center, by now more than the tiredness it was the chill that was hindering our progress. Battering the chill wind we reached the Rockerfiller center, it was a sight to be seen to be admired. With three tall towers surrounding a central block, the block with a beautifully arranged Christmas tree and an ice skating pond it all looked perfect. There were a lot of people already there to witness the arrival of Christmas. A feeling of joy was in the ambience with Christmas just an hour away. We took few snaps of this place and moved to our last destination that was the ice skating at the Bryant’s Park. I wanted to experience the Ice-Skating thing for the first time in my life, and what better place than the Rockerfeller center but my friend from NYC suggested me this park which was just couple of street away and was bigger in size and with relatively few people and less costlier. So we moved to this park, it was indeed close by and there were indeed fewer people as compared to the Rockerfeller but good enough. It was 11:30 and I and Sardha decided to buckle up the skating shoes. Sudhendu was totally against it coz he didn’t had that pleasant an experience with the ice skating when he did it last time. Sardha too was bit apprehensive coz it was going to be her first such experience too but I anyhow convinced her that nothing would happen and there is nothing to fear, as I will be always there. Little did she knew that I actually wanted someone to just lift me up if I had needed to :). We went to the main entrance but again to our surprise (we don’t live without surprises) it was closed. On asking about it, we were told by this lady that the park would be closing in next 30mins that is midnight so the entries are closed, we however told them that we just need to go in there; we are good with 30 mins. The cute lady allowed us and then there was nothing stopping us. As I was putting on the skating shoes I was wondering how I would go to the skating arena from this place, I mean we had to walk few steps to reach there and this thing in my feet only had a blade beneath, so how could I walk as if I was sure to skate. While I was pondering on this thought Sardha stood up and started walking, Oooo I said we could actually balance on that blade. I too stood up and with little wobble was able to reach the skating arena. Now was the moment.

I put my left leg into the pond and GOOOOOOOODDDDDDDD it was so slippery, never in my dreams did I thought it would skid that much. Holding the rails on the edges I moved my second foot and GOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDDDDD this too was so slippery. I did nothing but held the rails and stood firmly. Now was Sardha’s turn, she too put her left leg and screamed OOOOOOOO….i thought that was in excitement but actually it was NOOOOOOOOOOO….brave lady she is, she put her second foot and then started screaming, “No I can’t do this”….i was like “you don’t have to do anything, just grasp the railing and stand like I am doing”. She did, but hey now we had to do something at least for the sake of 13 bucks each that we paid for just 30 minutes, so I took my first baby step in the history of my Ice-Skating (please engrave these words with golden “akshar”), still holding the rails I moved little ahead. Then she too followed the baby step. This gave me little bit of confidence and I moved two baby steps ahead still holding the rails. She did too, but but but…..heyyyy what was that…I was watching something in slow motion, still very fresh in my mind….Sardha was screaming, her lower body moving ahead but the law of inertia was acting on the upper half of the body, in fact her upper half was moving backward…and all I could do was “No No NOOOOO” still holding her hand. Meanwhile the law of inertia and momentum were playing well with her lower half of the body and I could only see her falling right in front of me…..I could have gone to save her…but I had no Idea who would have come to save me…..coz my feet were firm, one hand was still clasped to the rails and other hand was quickly slipping away from Sardha’s clutch.

Finally everything was over, she was lying on the ice, half crying and half laughing, even now I was in no position to lift her up, only if my one hand had all the Austin powers, I was very adamant not to move an inch else someone else would have been writing my slow motion fall in his\her blog. There was then a lady who came from behind and just lifted her with one hand…would you believe it, one hand! Within no time Sardha was out of the pond and with all the madness over me in her eyes….I was like “Meri Pyaari Behna” I was HELPLESS….i tried a lot to convince her to be back in the battleground but she simply refused. Now I realized why Shudhenu didn’t join us…hmmmm. Now I was all alone here, in fact I asked one of the skating guards if he can help me learn skating, at least the basics, and he very politely refused. Now I was in front of so many people, from little kids to adorable ladies all were skating as if it is a piece of cake. I was still holding the rails and moving slowly on the edge of the pond disturbing lot of couples having a private moment or others who were just resting. I was carefully watching people around me as in how they were moving so swiftly. Slowly and very importantly steadily! I too was now moving but for most of the time helping my self with the rails but on fewer occasions I did manage to be on my own. I was simply unaware of the surrounding and only concentrating on my skating and my balance. Slowly I moved towards the spot where Sudhenu was ready with the camera, I tried posing (without holding the rails) and succeeded too. He had a cunning smile on him, he asked about Sardha but I was too busy concentrating on my balance, he asked few other thing too which in really don’t remember. Gaining confidence with every baby steps for the first time I noticed the crowd around the place, there were so many strikingly good looking gals, but how helpless was I that I had to concentrate on my balance.
Moving close to the rails, I saw two pretty looking gals looking at me with a smile, the smile similar to what Sudendhu had put on. One of the girl with a smile told me “you can do it” :). I replied “Yes I can, but this is my first time you know”, both smiled back. I took a complete round of the pound and was really happy to do that. Loving adventures, this had to be among the top for me. I still had some time for another round, again with bit more of confidence and most of the time without holding the rails I was moving faster now, crossed Sudhendu with a smile, then met those two pretty gals again, this time they just smiled but didn’t say anything, but I did. “Better that the first round, right:)”…one of them said “yup, this is better”, smile exchanged, wanted to exchange numbers too but thought concentrating on balance is more important. I did had a moment when I wobbled a lot and lost my balance a bit and was down on the ground but then it was definitely nowhere close to what Sardha had experienced or what Sudhendu might have experienced :). As soon as I completed my second round it was midnight, everybody greeted “Merry Christmas”, kissed their loved once….all this time I was too focused on moving out of the pond…and as soon as I did I jumped and thumped the air, this was really a great sense of achievement for me and I plan to perfect my self in this sport and may be I will have time to exchange numbers then :).

That was it, we took the train back to our place, all exhausted, but the memory of this trip will never exhaust. I rate it among my personal top 5 “days to remember” :). Special thanks to Sudhu and Sardha for being such a good company :).

Cheers………

 

America’s Way…

December 12, 2010

America’s Way…

It has been more than a month here in USA. I just got this idea of a new post because of  so many things that I found here is done the other way, the unusual way! I mean if we think west they think east, quite literally though:). So here are few of the things that I found to be implemented\ practiced\ done differently compared to what we have in India or elsewhere.

1.    Keep Right – As soon as I landed, the first thing that I found to be different was the moving vehicles. It is widely known that the Americans follow ‘Left hand’ Drive, so the steering here is to the left, unlike at most of the places. They follow the right lane, we follow the left. They overtake from the left we just don’t care!
Many a times when I see cars moving in lanes I get a feeling of zipping between the two and zoom ahead, the way I used to drive in Mumbai :), here a strict lane discipline is followed. Every time someone takes a left or right I used to get a feeling like, ‘hey, you are on the wrong lane!!’ only to realize that it would take me little more time to get familiar with this “always keep right” theory. Even while we walk, especially near the corridors\aisle of office, quite naturally I take the left part of the aisle and quite often come perilously close to dashing someone at the turns. So mantra here is KEEP RIGHT.

2.    Rooms – When I reached my place and for the first time opened the door, I was surprised to find stairs. Not that I don’t find them in India. But the puzzling part was that the stairs were INSIDE our house. I mean you have a door, and when you open the door you have to use stairs to go to your rooms, and there are no other rooms except yours. Another thing is that at most of the places the kitchen is directly attached to the hall.

3.    Plugs: All the plugs here are the thin ones, but I was saved that here they have the three plug system, else looking the differences here, I was wondering if there would 4-5 pin plugs, may be circular ones. But the three pin plug too can not be the same else why would the Americans be called different, here the “neutral” line the one with thick pin is at the bottom and the two pins above it. Look they have to be different.

4.    Hold a pen\pencil: This one really got me think a lot. So whenever you go to banks, or other places where you see people doing manual paper work, you would be astonished to see the way these all people hold the pens\pencils in their hands. It would appear that none of them have been to schools ever, while this should be the case in India. May be it looks different and definitely weird from my perspective but hey even I have done this, holding the pen in weird position, when I used to get really bored and try sketching few cartoons on my book while the chemistry professor used to speak gibberish.

5.    Drink Water : We in India have a classic way of using our palms curled inward to drink water from a tap, specially in the country side. Here I have seen so many faucet\taps where the water comes upward. I just don’t get the brains behind it. You get to drink only 20-30% of what comes from it, and rest is drained out. May be they recycle it and send it back :). On a serious note, when some one is campaigning for saving the fresh water source and then one look at the waste that happens through these crazy brains you sometimes get confused, the solution is more obvious than it appears.

6.    Wood everywhere: Here the floors are made of woods, the walls are made of wood, the ceilings are made of wood, everything is made of woods. I am amazed as how come they have everything made up of woods and still there are ‘woods’ (forest) every where. Another surprising thing is that the light poles too are made up of woods unlike the metal ones we have in India. Again this seems to be a waste, may be to prevent the electrical shocks…don’t know.

7.    Select a checkbox: If we are filling a form say, and we have few options with checkboxes, we usually select our option with a ‘tick’ against it. Here, they have to be different right…so they ‘cross’ it against the option instead of a ‘tick’. Perhaps the school teachers here too put an ‘X’ instead of a ‘tick’ for the correct answer. Had this been the case in India, my dad would have been so happy when I was a kid.

8.    On is actually Off – As soon as I reached my place, the thing other than the awkwardly built stairs the other thing I noticed was the switches. So here if you have to switch something on, you have to push it up and for switching it off push it down. When we can have the motor bike gears with both the upward and downward changes, why not switch. Great analogy…right!

9.    Plugs but no control:  First of all I haven’t seen any two-point plugs here in USA, all have three points and the other thing is that none of the plug is accompanied by the switch. So when ever you have to say charge you mobile, or say switch on your router, you have to plug in the charger and when it is done you have remove it back, no switch control. Very annoying!! This thing actually encourages to waste electricity because you can not always plug and unplug you gadgets, I mean you just feel lazy to do that every time, so there should be a more logical way.

10.    Papers – Papers: It doesn’t surprise me that here in USA we use paper a lot, and consequently waste paper a lot. I haven’t seen anyone till now using their handkerchief ever in the washroom. Not only the paper is used for various purpose (you got it right), it is also used in heap (you again got it right :)). Even in kitchen we have paper to wipe the washed utensils or just to use for cleaning your hands. In India we use cloth and water at appropriate places, right!

11.    Fans – Here most of the homes don’t have the ceiling fans but one those have, especially in few shops, have five blades unlike the normal three we usually have in India. How about having a dozen of blades!!

12.    Bulbs: Even though we are a developing nation, the CFL revolution has made every house to use it instead of the bulbs. But here in US, bulbs are omnipresent. Go anywhere you will find bulbs, that too the yellow ones are more popular than the white ones. Cannot comprehend this logic too!

13.    Where to dry my clothes: It is a huge surprise to me that we are not allowed to put our clothes to dry in the balcony. It might not look that elegant but hey it is far better than using the drier which is a huge power guzzler, to dry our clothes. Why should not we just use the dryness of the air, it is free and natural way. We are not allowed to wash our clothes too in the bathroom, this is understood that the floors and all are made of woods but common the drying rule has to change.

14.    Measure of Time, distance, weight, temperature, etc: This one is even more annoying. First take the temperature, here everyone speaks of Fahrenheit, but tell me one thing doesn’t the Celsius be used for better understanding. When we say 32F it means 0C. As with the number line in Maths, we can easily say that anything >0 is positive and <0 is negative. But in terms of Fahrenheit, the number 32 spoils the magic of 0. I just prefer things to be simpler rather than coming up with a new dimension only to complicate the matter. Let us now take the pounds while talking of weight. We all know that 1kg = 1000g = 1000*1000 mg = so on and so forth. But 1 pounds = 16 ounce = 16 * 28.349g, look at the simplicity. When someone has discovered the value ‘0’ and thus the term ’10’ we all should respect it, just coz it makes our life simpler. Again if we talk about the distance, 1km = 1000m = 1000 * 100 cm = 1000 * 100 * 10 mm etc, but when it comes to ‘Miles’ how do you quantify into smaller terms. 1 mile = 5280 feet = 5280 * 12 inches = 1.66kms, look the world has never been so simple! Again we talk of ‘Litres’ in India. 1L = 1000ml here we have ‘Gallon’ and best part is that 1 Gallon = 3.7854 L = 128 fluid ounce. Just makes our life, you guessed it…..a ‘hell’!

I will add on to this list as and when I get to see more weird ideas, I am sure I will :).

Having said all these, I have another blog to write about the positive things that I have seen here. And believe me it would take quite some time to post it online, coz there are many.

Cheers………

Mumbai to New York – Part 1

November 10, 2010

Mumbai to New York – Part 1

18th Oct 2010:

We had a holiday on account of Dussera, TCS could not find any other day to adjust against its mandatory number of holidays so we luckily got a Monday as a free day.

The next day was going to be, one of the most important days in my life. Guess what, my Visa interview was scheduled at 8:30 the next morning. On how I got an opportunity to go to USA and other stuff I would have to write a different blog altogether, it was something surreal.  So rather digging into the past let us proceed.

Although I knew that the visa interview would not be that big a deal and especially when you are from a reputed company (pun not intended) and going on L1 you have even less to worry. But still yaar, it is once in a lifetime kinda thing, so it was all butterflies in my stomach.

Still rubbing my eyes, and still on the bed I thought of utilizing this holiday and get some stuff to begin my packing. But again the fear of the Interview crossed my mind and I decided to buy only those stuffs that I can use in India too, in case I were to be kicked out of the consulate :). No luggage bags, no winter clothes, no food items, so I went to the Inorbit Mall to get few formal wears, trousers, shirts, and a watch (I had a digital watch and wanted a mechanical one and also the digital ones are not allowed in the US consulate :)).

After doing the shopping as soon as I left the mall, there was a huge thunder and lightning in the sky, I said to my self (this could be heaven or this could be hell) I mean this could be the last time I get a chance to get drench for this year’s monsoon. So on my bike and rain water slowly seeping through my body. The gusty wind and the light drizzle soon turned into downfall. It was a real good experience and anyway this year’s monsoon has been very good, raining almost every day.

In the night as I went to bed at around 11, (which is way too early for my standards) I could not stop thinking about the next day. Throughout the night I had nightmares about the interview and I just could not sleep for more that 20mins at a stretch, I didn’t knew what was going on in my head, but it was something that has never happened to me before, not even during the engineering exams! Anyway the three alarms that I had set in three different mobile phones were all useless coz I was always awake. So finally at around 5 in the morning I got out of the bed and switched off all the alarms and started my day. At around 6 AM I was ready; I verified all my docs, cross verified and then verified if I have cross verified them correctly or not then I left home. I was at the Malad station at around 6:20 AM, took the ticket and boarded the train.

Truly the time between 12 in the night till 7 in the morning is bliss if we compare the usual crowd and pollution during the daytime in Mumbai. The calmness of the atmosphere lightened my mood, I was bit more relaxed now. Unlike the last night, it was a clear and cloud less day. On reaching the Mahalaxmi station, I took a cab and for VFS (Visa facility service). At 7:15 I was inside VFS, paid the nominal! Fee of Rs 275. I was told that VFS is an excellent facility, it provides you the snacks, personal locker and free commute to US Consulate and back, and also helps you avoid the long queue.

After paying the fee I was given a receipt having three parts, one for bus, other for snacks and other probably for you (too keep as a memento I suppose). I had my stuff deposited with the locker room, mind you the lockers are not personal as I was told, it is just like one we see when we go to some malls and are told to keep luggage outside. So all my stuffs like cell phone, unwanted docs, keys etc went inside the locker room and we proceeded towards the waiting room. It is a comparatively a small waiting room with a CCD inside for your snacks. You were allowed to take a beverage and any one of the snacks (most of them sandwich). Since there were enough butterflies wandering inside my tummy I didn’t had anything. The only good thing about the VFS is the old songs that they play on the TV, I was trying to concentrate on the song only. In next 5mins a guy came in, (TV becomes mute) and announced that all the 7:30 and 7:45 people (appointment time) should get ready for the bus. After about 15mins or so he again came in (TV goes mute once again) and this time took 8:15 and 8:30 people with him, oooo my turn came.

We were all accommodated inside a mini bus (in pathetic condition). I was at the last seat. In next 5 mins or so we reached the consulate, there we were asked to stand in a queue (8:30 queue). When I saw the US Consulate I was really disappointed, I mean I was thinking that it might be a huge hall with enough space, great entrance and all, but it all turned out into a small office kind of structure, anyway the area seems to be costly enough for the Americans too.

The queue stretched all the way to the footpath even though there weren’t that many people as I though there would be. There were few people jumping here and there, bit of chaos but then everything settles down in the end, we too settled down. In the queue I saw around 4-5 people wearing the TCS I-Card, after sometime I came to know that there were 4-5 more people from TCS who were not wearing the I-Card. OMG kitne public hai TCS me. As far as security is concerned, there was a tank kind of “gaadi” just outside the consulate and a police car beside it. Few policemen and other security guards were just taking stroll opposite the consulate. Meanwhile I pulled out my tie from the bag and knotted it (I was asked by TCS to do that, otherwise hardly anybody else was with the tie, not even the weird looking TCS guys). After a while our group was allowed to move inside the consulate, we had to show them the appointment letter in order to enter. Inside it, we were asked to pull out the watches, belts, wallet and any other metal thing if any. After screening the docs we were given our copy of docs that we had earlier submitted with the consulate to get the appointment along with a pink slip. I was told to join the queue number one for the finger prints. Now something that really amazed me was that, during the fingerprints I was asked nothing, I mean how would they come to know whose fingers are they….really don’t know. While I was in the queue, I saw one of my TCS colleagues whose appointment time was same as mine, and she was in front of the queue. Now I was really cursing the VFS facility coz I paid that much still I was behind in the queue, she just walked in and was ahead. It turned out that the queue is according to the appointment time, so had I been to consulate directly I would have been in the front L.

Anyway, now that my finger scanning thing was done, I had a look at the pink slip with the token number on it, actually there were two of them given to you, one goes to one of the counters and other remains with you so that when they call your number you can verify it with the one you have. They don’t take names while calling so that number is of utmost important.

I was waiting for my number, and regularly there were announcements for the token numbers, all the announcements made by a female voice were audible but the ones made by the male guys were really hard to understand, one because of their accent and other coz of their pitch (low). I really hoped that some lady announces my number.

Just beside me there was a family waiting for their turn, they had this kid perhaps of the age of one or two who was like screaming all the time and it was really annoying not because he was screaming but coz of the announcements which became even harder to interpret. Now after 10mins or so two more similar kids joined the gang and it was mayhem around me, I stood up and went to the other side of the room. There were mamas trying to console their kids, it all looked like as if I were travelling in the train from Kurla to Chhapra.

While waiting I met a guy who was sitting just beside me, he too was from TCS (that I what happens when you are 1.5 lacs in strength). He too was waiting for a long time, we kicked of with our conversation, during which he told me that we should not be getting the counter number 4, coz the male guy sitting there has such a weird accent that no body understands. I calmed him down and said that probability of getting that counter is 1/24, and we should not be worrying. After waiting for about an hour, or so I heard my number or something similar to it, thankfully that was a voice of lady but guess what it was also the most dreaded counter, the counter number 4!!! As soon as I reached the counter, I saw a male guy swapping his place with a lady, yupeeeeeee :). I kept my documents to the right and stood close to the mic. She was quite young and very fair (almost red). After a pause of about 4-5 seconds, I thought I should be starting by greeting with good morning, and as I said she started too with my interview, I missed the first word that she said and what I did hear was “—– you working with TAAAATTTAAA”. I mean she stretched the word TATA so much that the time she took to say “Tata” was equal to times she took to say the other words prior to it. So I replied with, “yes, I work with Tata”. Then comes the fun part, she told me that she had actually asked me “how long” am I working with TATA and I was like, at least the word “long” could have been stretched a bit instead of stretching the word “Tata”.

Anyway, she went on to ask me other general stuffs which I knew might get asked, TCS had trained us for that :). Finally she stamped on my I94 and handed out to me saying ‘have a nice day’….I replied back with ‘same to you’ only realizing seconds after that was it ‘have a nice day OR have a nice stay’, these people and their accent OMG. It took me a minute or two to realize that my visa has been stamped, yahoooooooooo…………fianllyyyyyyyyyy….got itttttt 🙂

Now I was back to my usual self, no tension, a smile on my face and a great satisfaction in heart. The pathetic VFS bus took me back to the VFS centre, I now used my snacks coupon, had a sandwich and a coffee, took my stuff from the common locker room, cursed the VFS for charging so much and left for my office.

23rd October 2010:

3:00 PM,

I was waiting for my passport and the FOREX in the office for the past 2 hour or so. There were tons of formalities to be done. Finally I got my e-ticket through the mail, and by 5:00 PM I got my FOREX, Passport with the VISA stamp, and other documents. I was expecting my flight to be around 2 in the morning of the Saturday, but it turned out to be 12:45 AM. And now I was under real stress, since this was an international flight, I had to be there at the airport at least 3-4 hours before (that is what I was told). My biggest tension for me was first battling the traffic to reach home, then packing my stuff (yes it was only 60% done), then having some food (had skipped lunch), and them battling the traffic to reach airport. So I went around my ODC saying goodbye to all my team members, went to the basement, took my bike and left for home. I knew that this was the last time I would be riding my lovely, high mileage bike before I leave to US. One of my team members was riding the pillion, actually carrying the parcel that I had received from the family members of my friends living in US.

So for the final time this year I was through JVLR, WE Highway, SV Road, Marve Road, crossing Link road, Jankalyan Nagar and then Sweet Home. It was around 6 PM by now. First thing I did was arranged all the docs, packed my stuff with great help from my Mom, took bath, had some food and finally adieu to this place. I got into my car; with me were my Mom, Chacha ji, sister and my cousin. I took the driver seat. Just like the bike, now it was the turn with my car, engine, clutch, gear, and vroom. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic but still we reached only by 9:45 PM exactly three hours before my scheduled flight time. To the terminal 2, I didn’t waste any time and got the trolley, loaded my luggage, said a final bye to all and went inside.

Stressed and the Sad part ends here, now the funny part begins.

So here I was inside the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, waiting in the queue of AI counter. I was lucky to get a direct flight from Mumbai to NewYork. The queue in which I was standing was a big one and I was wondering if I were in the right line. Although I was directed to this queue only, I didn’t see a single ‘phirang’ in the queue so was bit surprised as to how come the flight going to NY doesn’t has a ‘phirang’. Then I asked another person about the queue, he directed me to another counter which was almost empty, just one person standing there. I hesitantly went there but to my surprise that was indeed the right counter and the other one was for other AI flights perhaps Dubai.

So from here my journey begins, let me tell you all that this was the second time ever I was going by air! And the first one was when I was a kid so it was kind of first time I was inside the airport and that too alone. Before coming I had strengthened my theory (knowledge) as in what all things happens during immigration, security, customs etc etc.

So here I was standing second in the queue and no one behind me, I was keenly observing the person ahead of me, just when this guy was done with his check-in, there was one AI staff came with 3 passports and kept on the counter, immediately followed a family of three, husband, wife and a kid. As soon as the guy ahead of me went I showed my ticket and the passport the staff asked me to wait. I was like what the hell, I was here before those people, and he was processing other’s request ahead of mine. I didn’t say anything, it was after all the first time I was in the airport, may be AI has a funda like alternately they process a random request. Anyway you don’t expect much from the government institutions, the family seem to me as frequent fliers and the guy was definitely a TATA employee and knew the staff very well, but then I am a TATA employee too! After five minutes or so my chance came, I showed my ticket, I also asked if I had a preference of choosing a seat and if they have some reserved seat for TATA employees (which they usually keep). Sadly all the reserved seats were full (three got filled in front of my eyes) and my choice of a window seat too could not be accommodated as all the window seats too were full (definitely all three were window seats). There was in fact one remaining but that was in the last row, I politely asked as what is the problem with the last row because of the way he said ‘last row’, he politely answered that the last row seats don’t incline, I politely asked him to give me any of the aisle seat. I got the ticket, L14 was the number. My luggage was checked in (just 42.6 Kgs) and I left for the……‘god knows what’ with my laptop bag on the shoulder. I knew that next was immigration, so I asked one of the airport staff the direction, I was guided correctly. Before that I had to fill an immigration form mentioning basic details. I joined the immigration queue, there were about 10-12 counters don’t know the exact count, so which ever counter gets empty you are directed to that place. My turn came, counter number X, I was asked for my passport, and the immigration form. The guy at the counter was middle aged person, with a cunning smile. I was just assuming that the guy would verify the passport and let me go, but he started my interview, unexpected! He first asked me why I was going to USA. Then he asked me who was my employer, then he asked me was I a developer or a tester, then he asked me on which platform do I work, then he asked me if I use ASP or C#, and then I wanted to answer him that I work for the International Hackers Group and would soon hack into his personal system and destroy all his data and also publish the links that he surfs in the night!

God he asked me more questions than I was asked in the VISA interview. But to be frank I was impressed that they have that kind of questions ready, they perhaps have the data flow and some fixed questions to be asked. He handed me the passport and politely said that spelling of ‘Malad’ (where I stay) is wrong in the immigration form that I had filled, and it was indeed written ‘Malab’, may be in hurry burry.

Then I moved to the security corner, it was a big queue, I was watching all the people there, from different countries, many Indians though. As my turn came, I was told to put all the metal stuff and my laptop in a tray and then pass through the metal detector. That was done, they stamped on my ticket and then I moved to the waiting area for the flight. My boarding time was 12:00 midnight, and it was just 10:50. So more that a hour more hour to go, I called my Mom who was still in the airport to make sure that everything goes well, I assured her that everything is fine and they can leave now.

Now here I was, things looking so unreal, everything happening so fast, was sitting on chair, couple of people beside me actually sleeping. I sent some SMS to my friend, whom I could not call because of the busy day and then began with what I like the most, observing people around.

So as I was just scanning the people and their behaviours, I saw a woman in mid 50’s on a wheel chair and an airport staff helping her move on the chair. The wheel chair stopped exactly a foot ahead of me, the woman asked me if I was travelling by AI-141, I nodded and then she turned to the staff and asked her to go back coz she has found a company!!!! The staff left, and aunty, turned towards me and said that as she was travelling for the first time she needed someone to help her (as if I was a frequent flier and had won 10000 miles point). But she was a nice lady; she used to refer me as ‘beta’ and was speaking in ‘hindi’. I was bit sceptical to start the conversation and that was natural, but gradually we gelled well, she turned out to be typical aunty who appears in the ‘saas bahu’ kind of soap. She started speaking about her husband, her son, her son in law, her daughter, her daughter in law, her other son, her other daughter in law everyone literally. Her husband allegedly was an owner of many mills in ‘Silvassa’, and retired from a reputed company, she was going to US to meet her son and daughter in law as her daughter in law was expecting soon. Coincidentally her daughter too who was in US was expecting, but she would not be able to make there as she was staying at the extreme end of US! By now I was well aware of all her family members, where all they stay, how they got married, where all they work, when would they come back to India, how many factories they own, where all do they have plots etc etc……During the conversation I also got to know that her problem with the leg was just a temporary one, allegedly she had hit a corner of her bed and in turn she hurt her knees.

Now she gets a call from her son, the one who would be receiving her at the NY airport, she assured him that she is fine and she has found a ‘beta’ here at the airport who would accompany her all the way to NY…I was like “what!”. She hung up and then turned towards me, asked my seat number, I replied, and then she told her seat number and asked me how far these two seats are. How on earth would I know yaar!! I just replied not that far 🙂 (mine was L her was I), ‘you don’t worry many of the people here travel alone’. Just then an announcement was made for the AI141 passengers and we were supposed to move towards the second level of security before finally boarding the plane. I helped that aunt to move ahead, but then one of the Airport staff came there and said that it is his responsibility to help her get inside the plane, all the wheelchair persons get this facility. Meanwhile the aunty was murmuring that ‘hum log saath me hain!!!!!’. She was taken ahead of all the passengers, I was not that far behind, for god know if she would have screamed “betaaaaa kahan gaye”. I was the third person in the queue. We then came to the security corner, from this corner I was able to see my plane clearly from the large windows there, the AI 141, and my god was aware that the Boeings are huge but that was a monster man!

There was some delay at the security corner, here we were asked to remove our shoes too. Actually the delay was because the conveyer belt for screening was stuck with moving in just one direction that is the opposite side in which it should be moving. One by one the security staff came to the machine and tried their hand but of no use, finally some one got it right and we moved towards the final milestone before we actually board the plane. There we were told that all the differently abled people should be in the front, my aunt was the first to be there, still with that help staff, and still looking behind asking me to come over, I wasn’t that far behind though. After that the women and the kids were to follow.

As we were just arranging, the pilots and the airhostess of the AI141 passed beside us to board the plane. I was bit disappointed at the looks of airhostesses, not exactly as I thought, only one of them was young and pretty, rest all were like aunties but decent and elegant.

Anyway after five minutes of so, we were allowed to enter the plane through some connector (I don’t know what we call that, one that is attached to the doors of the plane). There was one aunty airhostess at the entrance and greeting everyone with Namaste, I showed my ticket and was told to take the left entrance down the aisle, following the numbers written I reached my seat, it was exactly at the middle of the plane, wow!!! I said, coz the right wing of the plane was just in front of me and it was HUGE but sadly I didn’t had the window seat L. I kept my laptop bag inside the upper cabinet and took my seat. This was an aisle seat and my column was a three seater so two more to right of me. The middle column was a 5 seater and then the last column again a three seater. The business class was ahead of us. It was pretty big but from outside it looked even bigger. That aunty was to the other three seater opposite mine and two rows behind too, she said hi from that end and indicated that she was fine; there was another lady with her. Thank god!

Now here I was for the first time (I don’t remember how it was when I was a kid), inside a plane, I was excited about everything, the pilot, the airhostesses, the runways, the wings, the takeoff, the food, the loo etc. All these things were only heard of till now. On all the seats were a bed sheet kind of thing, a pillow and I small drinking water. Behind each of the seats were a TV set too with a headphone and couple of magazines and an AI passenger’s guide. As I was just observing things here and there the only young and good looking airhostess in that plane came through the aisle, stopped just ahead of my seat and asked me “can I close this cabinet (one above me)”, I was taken aback coz I didn’t expect her to say anything, I thought they only greet people and help us with food and drinks. I replied “ya, sure”. She was puzzled a bit and then asked me something that took me by complete surprise. She said “give a hand please!!”. “Mere haath me tera haath ho, sari jannate mere saath ho”. Btw looking at her expression I realized that she wanted me to help her close the cabinet, and I was thinking, omg…. :). I stood up and helped her close the cabinet, she thanked me and went ahead. She was beautiful 🙂

It was 12:40 by now, just 5 minutes to take off, I was ready with my seat belt, ya I knew that we are supposed to fasten our seat belt before the plane takes off. I was very happy for one more thing, the two seats to my right were still empty and it was already time. At this very moment we heard an announcement from our pilot (who began with ‘this is your pilot speaking’ which was kinda funny :)) that due to some emergency and some problem with the limited runway or something our plane might get delayed my sometime. Nothing new for Mumbai airport I guess. I was just praying that these two seats remain empty through out. After 15 minutes or so, again that airhostess came through the aisle, I was already ready with a question that I wanted to ask her :).

As she came next to my row, I asked her if I could take the window seat if no one comes till the end. She said that there were couple more people expected and if no one comes then I can not only take the window seat but also sleep on the three seats, with a biiiggggg smile on her lovely face :).

TO BE CONTINUED……….