Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Education Drone

As I’m listening to the song, ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ – Pink Floyd, the line that catches my attention goes like ‘We don’t need no education,’ and I’m amused to point out that even though this may be a popular school / college rebel anthem, it doesn’t diminish the fact that education is required now more than ever before. A person in the 50’s – 80’s era would not have had the access or facilities to the educational system of the 21st century that we enjoy currently. Learning new things daily has become a priority for so many of us as we deal with newer challenges every day of our lives. It is important that we continue to dream big and aspire to reach heights no one has scaled before and now we can do that. With the advent of search engines like Google, Ask and Bing, searching for information on the internet has been brought to our screens in a matter of seconds. Reference Sites such as Wikipedia hosts a plethora of information on almost every topic known to man, and if it has not been created, you could request for it to be.

It is not only a moral but also a social responsibility to educate ourselves. We may never know where our road takes us, but we can definitely pave the way for a better, brighter future. We have the machines, the technology and the intelligence to put a dog in space. I think we can use just a little bit of that intelligence to make ourselves a little more educated about the world around us. Ignorance is truly bliss, but not when you get stumped when someone asks you, “What are the seven wonders of the world?” or “Who is the President of the United States of America?” Understandably, a third of the population is not able to read / write in the world today and who is to blame? No one but ourselves. I must applaud the current generation of parents though. They may have had a hard life and braved many obstacles but they do not want their kids to go through the same thing that they went through. They encourage them to read, to learn, to see the world and explore new avenues, not to feel bad about their situation but to make it work for them. A lot of the kids nowadays take it in their stride to see the happiness brewing from their parents’ eyes when they win a medal or go off to a good college, something which the parents’ themselves could not achieve.

So, let’s make a constant effort to be better people, to know the other person, to understand the world around us, to be respectful of the values and history of different races and more importantly, to never stop learning.

My Life as a Paying Guest

November 2008:

I’ve been living in Bangalore for the last eight years now and it has been a whirlwind of a journey. I came to Bangalore as a raw student fresh from senior school with dreams and aspirations of making it big in this wonderful city. Little did I realize at the time that I was entering a maze of what would seem like an eternity. Being a fresher to almost everything, I thought I would adjust quite well to my life of independence; however I was not left free for long.

My uncle decided that he would move in to take care of me so I would have a home to come back to and food on the table when I was hungry. I stayed with my uncle for the three years of my college life. We had our ups and downs but we got through just fine. After a while, mom and dad decided to buy a place in Mangalore, hence uncle decided to move there to take care of the flat and this is where I begin my foray into the paying guest world.

Stage 1: Finding the place

It was a cold winter’s day and I was wandering on the lonely roads of Indiranagar. I fell in love with this place from the very first instance. I knew that this was where I wanted to stay. I located a broker like so many of us do and entrusted him the job of finding a nice place so I could move in and start my life as an independent young Financial Accountant for Hewlett-Packard.

The broker had taken me to a couple of shabby places. They always show the worst first before displaying their prize collection. I had seen this house a couple of times and I had always wondered how nice it would be to live in a house like this. Somehow, I never pictured this to be a PG. In we walk with our arms outstretched reveling in the splendid creation standing before us.

As I walk in, I’m amused by the irony of how big it looks outside compared to the size inside. True to most Bangalorean owners, maximum space was utilized here making the place look like it can hold a lot more people. Well, I wasn’t concerned with that. My main concern was to have a nice proper lighting, clean water and access to hot water. Along with that, I got a TV in my room, 24 hours hot water, fridge and a trendy washing machine. No looking at any more places. This was going to be my home for the unforeseen future. I discussed the rent with the owner and though I did consider it high at that point, I did not want to leave Indiranagar. So I paid the requisite amount and started making arrangements to move in.

Stage 2: Moving in

Moving into a new place was the least of my worries. Packing; now there’s the problem. It’s not easy to pack an entire 3 year set of clothes in two bags. It takes a lot of patience; something which guys don’t have. We never like to see the work getting done and then enjoying the fruits of it. No, we like to enjoy before, during and after the work is done, which is why we never finish anything on time. Try asking a guy to get paint the fence or mow the lawn. He’s going to start his tantrums as soon as he hears the word ‘work’ or ‘task’. Once he puts his mind to it though, you can expect a masterpiece. In my case, it wasn’t an art but the sheer willpower to pack clothes neatly in one bag and then going through the whole rigmarole of unpacking was becoming a big pain. I chose to do it nevertheless.

It took me almost an entire day to pack all my clothes, my utilities and other stuff which I’m not going to bore you with. With a nice chilled beer in my hand, I called up the owner of the PG and told him that I would be moving in tomorrow. I was all happy and with that, I called it a night. Moving from one place to another was never a problem for me. I was in touch with a very enterprising person by the name of Imtiaz who had organized the movement of my personal effects from time to time. Helpful as always, he said he would send his men straight away to help me move my things to the new place. A steel cupboard, a study table, two big bags of clothes, my guitars and my trusty steed – read motorbike, moved into our new home. This was the beginning of some beautiful memories, I thought as I stepped into the house and my room.

Stage 3: Meet the Roomies

‘What’s up dude?’ You know you’re in a boy’s PG when the people greet you with a ‘What’s up.’ What a nice way to start your first conversation. I can’t imagine an opening to a conversation these days between kids and youth alike that don’t start with ‘What’s up.’ ‘Well,’ I go, ‘My name is Sheldon. What’s yours?’ ‘My name is Vedant’ replied Mr. ‘What’s up.’ That was my first friend in the PG. As I start unpacking and loading the clothes into my cupboard, I see that there’s another bed vacant right next to me. I was going to share it with two strangers. Hmmm! I’ve always had a room of my own since I can remember and here I am sharing a room with strangers. I had heard stuff like PG’s were the worst place to stay. Rumors used to float around about the constant abuse of drugs, drinking and pornography – not necessarily in that order. I chose to keep my cool and see for myself what it was like. I was a mama’s boy without any doubt, but my dad had made me self-sufficient and rely on my instincts, traits I still admit I’ve picked it up quite well from daddy dearest. This PG did not house any smart alecs so I was pretty satisfied that I had picked up a proper place.

It’s 10PM now and I’m wondering what to do. It’s my first night at the PG and you can’t sleep. There’s always a nagging thought at the back of your mind that something nasty’s going to happen to you, but it wasn’t the case. I had an amazing sleep that night and woke up fresh on a Saturday, something that had not happened in a long time. I got up and brushed my teeth, took a shower and combed my hair for the very first time in my new home. I felt good.

As soon as I step out of the shower, four monkeys – literally come howling into the room shouting “breakfast.” They see me standing there gaping at their outburst, say their hi – hello’s and continue their circus antics. I walk out of the room obviously surprised by their behavior and was walking out to get some breakfast myself when Changu, Mangu, Pinku and Dinku invited me over to have breakfast with them. I flatly refused stating that I had to get some work done and hobbled away from the scene as fast as I could. After a wonderful breakfast, I came back home and see the four monkeys playing a game of cards – Bluff.  It took me awhile to get used to the terminology but I understood what they were doing and it was fun watching them tear each other apart when it came to a wrong bluff. I took out a nice book to read and was quite engrossed in it when Changu wanted to get more acquainted. He started asking me a whole lot of questions and the rest followed suit. I didn’t want to sound rude after my morning behavior so I just played along and answered each question of theirs patiently. As the day went by, we got to know each other pretty well. The fact that we were from two ends of India didn’t bother us at all. When it comes down it, whether you’re an Idli or a Roti lover, you’re an Indian and that’s the connection that people share.

Stage 4: Encounter with the Drunk Owner

Life is like a barrel of whisky,

The more it matures, the finer it gets,

And the faster you drink it in the hope of enjoying it better,

Everything becomes so much more easier.

–          Sheldon Coelho

We’ve all heard the rumors and the tales but when the door starts banging at 1 AM on a cold Sunday morning, you know, the ghost of your drunken past is back. Or, it could just be your landlord. Either ways, it’s better to run and hide than face the evil outside. I was used to drunken friends, but drunken landlords? Now, that’s a face you don’t want to see at that point of time in the night (especially when you’re drunk yourself) but then there are times when you just have to do it.

A few times, I had the misfortune of coming face to face with him while he was at his best – should be pretty self-explanatory. So, I developed a very effective method of not engaging him for long. I practiced my long drawn haggard look in front of the mirror several times before finally deciding to use it on him and it worked like a miracle J. The moment my owner saw me in that state, he just couldn’t bear to talk to me lest I collapse right there in front of him. Over time, he stopped disturbing the rest of the inmates and eventually decided to stop his activities – the cause of that is something else, but I believe it was a life changer for him.

Stage 5: The Neighbors

“Love thy neighbor” is what we hear from our parents growing up. And love them was all we could do because adjacent to our PG was a Ladies PG. The evenings were lit with conversations of who was the most beautiful that walked out of those gates. Some of the boys pretended to have conversations with them whenever they got a chance but a look from the owner of the Ladies PG had our boys running a mile away. Slowly a rumor floated around that the girls were not that interesting in the first place and soon, our boys drifted away into new-found passions and interests, the more recent of which, IPL. Naturally, our conversations, animated as they were about who would win, would take a break when the cheerleaders came on and in a unified show of strength, we’d have our eyes glued to the telly as a sign of respect to the skillful cheerleaders.

Stage 6: Festivities

We Indians love our culture and our heritage so much that even though we may stay a hundred miles away from home, the festivities bring in us a sense of togetherness and belonging. The festivities in our PG brought together people from different faiths, religions and ethnicity. We used to celebrate festivals like Holi, Eid, Diwali and Christmas like one big family. There was never a dull moment for either of us during these festivals and the thought that we were all away from our families during these events never bothered us. We enjoyed ourselves to the maximum sometimes even staying up till late in the night talking about the fun-filled stories these festivities brought with them.

Stage 7: Moving out

When you reach this part of your stay in a PG, that is, if the journey has been fun, the moving out can be a very bitter end to an otherwise beautiful period. When I wanted to move out, I felt like a bride was leaving her mother’s home after marriage. There was no crying, yet sadness filled my heart as I was now embarking on new ventures and I could not stay in this PG if I had to fulfill them. Some of the boys helped in carrying my bags down and spoke to me through the process, giving hi-fives, wishing good luck for the future and also a lot of “we’re going to miss you” faces. We spoke of never losing touch with the other inmates and promising to write back whenever we got the chance to do so.

September 2010:

I was staying in this PG for almost two years before I had finally decided to move out to a place closer to my office. It was going to be with a bunch of guys which I didn’t know again, but this was a house and not a PG. There were a lot many things different that were going to happen and a lot more experiences to talk about. Whenever I pass by Indiranagar, I still go and have a look at the old PG and remember all the crazy times spent over there and wish that I could rewind the clock and do it all over again.

Sometimes, it’s easier living in the past than dreaming about the future…

Disclaimer – The views and opinions written in this article are not only the author’s but also his PG Mates. Being their spokesperson, the author has willingly decided to stand in the firing line for writing about their choice memoirs. Should you have any concern with the authenticity of these events, please leave them with your local psychiatrist. 

Why do people write articles?

It’s a known fact that people enjoy writing stuff. Maybe, they like to jot down something which caught their attention while reading the paper or a magazine or doodling over a cartoon area; basically people enjoy writing stuff.

Remember the time when you used to sit up late in the night and write your most secret thoughts in your secret diary? You know for a fact that no one but yourself would be reading that and it would be a secret you would take till your grave. But that little time spent in writing that day to day news is almost as exciting as the day itself and over time, we appreciate the vocabulary and the words that we start using.

Freedom of expression is all what we want. We want to be able to say anything to anybody without being in trouble. They say that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and it holds true in many cases as printed material is always in most cases more incriminating than spoken words.

So let’s try and channel that creative juice in us onto a more preferred medium, blogs. This way, the world shall know what you think and in some way, it does help someone out there who just wants to be heard.

Cheers!

Christmas at Home – A Treat for the Soul

It’s that time of the year again when we rise up and sing at the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gathering of all the 50 members of your family in that small two bedroom apartment of yours where you think its just not enough to house more. Yes, it sounds like Christmas.

While most people celebrate Christmas with family, I decided to do something different. I spent a night of fun, frolic and basically drinking with a bunch of friends that I grew up with in Bangalore and boy oh boy, was it good. The amount of planning and preparation that went into this small, yet grand affair took a toll on all of us and we were very satisfied when everyone left the house in good spirits to wish their loved ones at home and basically go to sleep so they could enjoy the rest of the celebrations for that day.

My story is a little more different than the rest mentioned above. I was drunk almighty and I had slept for 48 hours straight. No inkling of time and date at all. When I got up, I realized that I had just spent this Christmas in the worst possible fashion ever. I had forgotten my own family and most of my friends were worried sick about where I was since I wasn’t answering any of their calls.

So I took a little breather and allowed my thoughts to flow freely. Remember when parents ask their kids about what gifts they would be requesting from Santa this year? Well, I had a flashback of when I was small and my dad asking me, ‘Son, have you been a good boy this year?’ And I would go, ‘Yes daddy, I’ve been really good’ – basically lying from the top of my head. I would see that Santa left something nice for me under the Christmas tree and then I felt sorry that I had lied to Santa and still got something from him.

Coming back to the present day; I remembered those very same words that my father used a very long time ago and I thought to myself, Have I been good this year? I haven’t spoken to my family in a long time, I haven’t been the most responsible person when it came to doing any kind of work, and I haven’t been the best friend. All these things were eating my head and I just couldn’t stop but wonder why on earth I am living this farcical life. I wanted to amend things straight away so I called up one of my best friends and told him that ‘Dude, I’m off to Mangalore for New Year and I’m sorry we won’t be catching up on 31st night because I’m missing my family a lot.’ He was all sweet and kind and he said ‘Definitely bro, family comes first and I’m happy that you’ll be with your family at this time’.

Well, now to get the details in order. First I get in touch with my neighbor and tell him that I’m coming to Mangalore to give my uncle and everyone there a nice surprise and would require a return ticket from Mangalore to Bangalore so I can reach back on 4th morning for work. He says ‘No problem Sheldon, I’ll get that arranged for you in no time’ and bang, in half an hour he’s got my ticket ready. Second, I had to convince my team mates at office that I will be leaving a day in advance so I had to get all my work cleared off in time. Third, getting a ticket to Mangalore as this would be a rush season and everybody’s going home at the same time. My ticket booking agent is a genius. He shifted a few seats from here and there and ensured that I would get a ticket on the same bus that I wanted on the same day at the time that I usually traveled on.

So now that I have finally reached Mangalore, I begin to realize what a wonderful feeling I’m having since I got here. This feeling of calm and peaceful serenity is exuding all around me. As I sit and await the arrival of lunch, the delicious aroma is tickling my senses and I see that this is what I’ve been missing all along – it’s the sweet taste of purity. I’m finally at home and it’s “a treat for the soul indeed.”

P.S – In case you’re wondering why I’m writing about Christmas in the month of April, I’d like you’ll to know that this was a long lost article which I managed to retrieve from an old hard disk. Yay!

The Story of my Life

Life. A four letter word that has different meanings and yet, all of us strive to find that piece of happiness and joy in that four letter word everyday. We get up in the morning and we know what we want for breakfast – eggs and bacon. Lo and behold, you are looking at freshly baked panpales (neer dosa) and chutney. Yuck, I would say but can’t. I do not want to hurt Mama’s feelings. So I have these panpales and think, maybe its time I bought a new shirt or a new pant and lo and behold again, Dadla has something in store for his ‘little rascal’. Shona fights with me to get hold of the TV remote while I’m watching an amazing show (F.R.I.E.N.D.S – if you must know) and lo and behold, Dadla and Mama already have plans of watching something else. Well you try and try and try to change them but you should face the fact. They are not going to change. They are your family and no matter how small or how old you are, you will always be a ‘Sonnuboy’ to them. But it’s fun. Life without those three other people is not life at all. It’s another four letter word – ‘Hell’. Now this four letter word is the total opposite where Mama makes eggs and bacon (while you’re on a very strict diet and there are no cornflakes in the house) and Dadla is just sitting idle not even talking to anybody.

When you sit down and analyze what life has taken you through, you realize that you have left so many things behind. Things that you have wanted to take seriously, things you should have had when you’re young. People, are some of the most important things that we tend to overlook in our quest for happiness. We leave them hanging dry and low and is this our fault? I’m not so sure. Let’s face the fact. We know that sometimes things change, situations change but the chance to make things right is never quite there. You strive to be a better human being but you tend to hurt sometimes the people you love or who love you. What is the cause of such irrational thinking? Call it a mistake of the youth or teenage delinquency. ‘YOU’ are the cause for this. Not anybody else but ‘YOU’.

Now that I have given you a brief description on what life basically is let me demonstrate the essence of what this means. It may be hard for some people to believe that life can truly be beautiful and enjoyable. Although, some cynics may say that life can truly be a monstrosity of crimes viz the sex, murder and drugs, I say ‘to hell with that’. ‘Let there be Rock’ in the words of AC/DC. God made the earth, the stars, the moon and then he made life. He made everything so beautiful in this world that there are very few who would stop and smell the fresh air, see the flowers blooming in the night or see the lake and wish that the world had been a better place. I have wished for such things. I have longed for such things. But it is hard to find happiness 24/7. No one can.

Which is when I started doing some research on where I’m currently headed on with my life and what is stopping me from getting there. I’m not a bad person. I love life. I love life so much that I’ve left so many people behind in my quest for happiness. There are some things I truly cherish in this world and one of them is friendship. Remember the time you had so many things to do and yet you could not accomplish that because you just did not have the motivation to go through with it? Well that’s when friends become helpful. They get you back on track. They make you do things that you probably did not know you could do and they are on your side whether you have made a mistake or not. This is called friendship. This is called life. So if you have to live life, then be a normal person and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But if you want to love life, do what I did. Get an amazing set of friends and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

TATS WACK!!!

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