Thursday, August 17, 2017

Virat, the hero we’ve got

"He's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight." - Lt. James Gordon, Batman: The Dark Knight
Time around 1990 wasn’t really so good for the country – few years on either side of it. We had witnessed one of the biggest scams of that time. We had witnessed change of power in center, partially because of the scam, to become a game of musical chairs. We had witnessed ex-PM getting blown away to pieced. We had witnessed economy going nowhere. Riots weren’t a rarity - riots of gigantic magnitudes.
There was a more than a bit of gloom all around. Future wasn’t looking all that promising. Not that the future, the kids of my generation, was bothered but the generation raising this future surely must have been. The kids of my generation were just, well kids. While we had what kids of this generation don’t have in a plenty – acres of open space to play, we lacked something. Something was amiss. Maybe a hero. I think yes. Someone to idolize. Someone to follow. And in times when things were all too messed up, that someone needed to be good. That someone needed to be perfect. He needed to be all the good qualities our parents lectured about. The idol needed to be ideal.    
And cricket? Cricket was in dump as well. Performance on the ground wasn’t anything to boast about. We had seen people playing the game being at loggerheads with people running the game. BCCI wasn’t the big daddy it is now. Indians in the cricketing world were still treated as lesser mortals. Western world always complained about the pain they had to go through whenever they travelled India. Indians, when travelling abroad, often got a raw deal. There was a bit of gloom all around. Future wasn’t looking all that promising.
Something needed to change. For the country. For the game.
Economy opened up. We heard of the term globalization. Not sure what they did but I and most of my friends would’ve had found their current standards of living much lower than what it is had the government not brought about this change. It was a much needed one.
Sachin happened.
Future, the kids of my generation, found our hero. We found our idol which was ideal.
Parents were happy. Their kids were following someone who didn’t come from a rich background, who was humble, hardworking, possessed all the so called values which were termed as Indian and gave one thing which the country needed so desperately – hope. Not just the hope to survive. Not just the hope to last the next moment. He gave something more – hope to win. Ah, they were too complacent. Not to blame them but lot of them spent all their lives behind one single desk. They were satisfied with little. Sachin gave them more. He surprised them. Hence they were happy their kids following him, idolizing him.
Sachin was the hero India needed.
Decades passed by. As they always do.
Old warhorse has retired. A new hero has emerged.
Welcome Virat.
Times might have changed but the trend hasn’t.
Kids of my generation can claim that they’ve seen the biggest transition of the country. Kids of my generation have their own kids now. No, that’s not the biggest transition. Biggest transition is how the country has changed otherwise. From lining up in banks with gold colored token to withdraw cash to having money at the fingertip. From waiting for months to get a telephone connection at home to number of mobile connection fast racing past the population in the country. From Mamata Kulkarni to Sunny Leone. We have come a long way.    
Same can be said about BCCI – from being a mere pushovers, they rule the world of cricket as they should be.
Things have changed. And how?
So are the kids. Remember the parenting you got from your parents? Some of the virtues inculcated? Modesty was one of them. So much so that it often bordered along self-pity. Remember the dislike for flamboyance? Oh that was for rich brats, not you. Remember the hairstyle you were forced to bear with? Oh that your mother holding you from your cheeks and combing your oily hair sideways. Remember the shyness? The stuttering in front of strangers?   
This generation is different. We don’t want our kids’ modesty to go anywhere close to self-pity. If it does, we would rather do away with their modesty. At least I would. We want them to be flamboyant. Stylish. Suave. With the kind of exposure this generation has got, they are on their way to be that. The word is flamboyance.
All of that. Compare the awareness for fitness they have with what we used to have. Most of us, at least yours truly, hadn’t even heard of the word called fitness.  Look at the demand kids these days have for their haircuts even if they are yet to reach double figure in age. Even the smallest of them are pretty concerned about the style they carry with themselves. The word is self-awareness.
Who do they look up to, lot of them? It’s the new age hero. Virat is one of them. Yes, he is flamboyant.
He doesn’t bother about being too modest. Yet, one cannot really term him a high headed person. It’s the balance he maintains which is impressive. He is already a style icon. And the fitness? Have you heard about the story where he himself decided to change everything around his fitness? The word is self-awareness.
Gone are the days when kids used to idolize the away-from-limelight like lifestyle of Sachin or good-boy-image of Rahul (Dravid, not any other Rahul in case you are thinking). Virat has no qualms about keeping the limelight away. The actress, you remember? One cannot expect to get away after sledging him. In fact, one can find it difficult to get away from his sledging. Good boy image and Virat? No way.
Yet all good virtues are not lost yet. He still maintains the balance between good and bad with increasing regularity. Like greats of yesteryears, he always gives an impression that cricket is his number one priority. Like greats of yesteryears, he earns respect by giving it. Like greats of yesteryears, he stays away from uninvited controversies as much as possible.
World has changed. So have the generations. And the heroes. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that the generation idolizes with heroes they identify themselves closely. They idolize whom they want to be like.
Not sure if Virat is the hero we need or we deserve. But he is the hero we have got.
And the current generation has turned him into an idol.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Him, Her and the Truthfulness!!!

Read more about Him & Her series here.
He had a worried look as he reached his desk. The worries magnified as he saw his boss already waiting for him.
“Boss, what happened?”
“Ok. Good morning”
“Good morning. Now it is my turn to ask. What happened?”
“Why? What happened?”
“You look a little worried as if you had murdered someone and forgot to move the body”
“Oh well. It is almost like that. Just that I might get murdered soon”
“Ah, I am in a kind mood today. Worry not”
“You aren’t the only scary person in my life” he said with tongue in cheek.
“Who am I competing with?” his boss had a sense of humor.
“Ah, there is no competition. Tell me what did you do?”
“As she was leaving for work, she asked me to close the tap”
“And you didn’t?”
“I did but not before the kitchen was flooded”
“Not following my orders is a crime big enough to get you fired. What was so important that you forgot something which can get you fried, roasted and eaten alive?”
“The Queen's Justice”
“Damn. You watched it already”
“Yes. Episode 4 of Game of Thrones was aired today morning. So I had to”
“Okay. We are surely not discussing GoT. Utter a single word about it and consider yourself fired. I wouldn't care even if I have to throw saxual harrassment charges to do that” Boss’ voice had a tone of stern warning.
“Speech is silver. Silence is gold” he said.
“So what did you do to repair the damage?”
“I mopped the floor as much as I could. Yet, one can make a wet floor dry. De-flooding takes time”
“Yes it does”  Boss said smilingly.
“I just hope it dries out before evening and also, the maid does her work”
“It will. Worry not. India being a hot country has its advantages for clumsy husbands”
“I know. And I am feeling bad for my wife”
“For marrying you? I agree”
“No. Every time she asks me something to do, she keeps on reminding me till I do it. She is as prolific in completing century of reminders as Sachin”
“Ah while I appreciate, for once, you are saying good words about Sachin. Do not discredit the bowlers who often fed him hit-me balls”
“That’s a sly on me?”
“Do I need to tell you even that?” Boss laughed.
“Well problem is that while her repeated reminders do irritate the hell out of me, I don’t do what I am asked to do unless she reminds me regularly. If she doesn’t remind me, I forget it”
“We have had a few fights because of this. In fact more than a few. I think it is high time I tell her the truth and accept this downside of mine”
“Don’t do that”
“Why? I need to be truthful to her. That’s how it should be in love and marriage”
“Dude, whoever said that was either an idiot or a liar”
“You never do it unless you want to feel like how Suresh Raina would on a Brisbane pitch against the Mitchells - Starc and Johnson.”
“So?” he wondered.
“Never tell her the truth you are talking about. That’s bad relationship management”
“Boss, if you have to manage a relationship, it's not a relationship at all”
“Don’t tell me that. At least you to me” Boss said with a smirk and wink.
“Relationship management is more about management than relationship”
“Big words boss”
“So what should I do?” he wondered.
“Pray. Pray that the floor dries out. Pray that the maid does her work. And just don’t tell your wife that it was GoT which made you forget what she asked you to do. And please don’t tell her about how her reminders are effective and you see their importance. Just don’t”
“As the boss says”
“Now get back to work. My boss is coming tomorrow. I have a relationship to manage”
*Next morning*
“Hey, how did it go?” boss asked.
“Well it went well. She did not find out. We went out for dinner”
“Then why do you have a sad face?” boss wondered.
“Well, we spent some quality time yesterday. It was really good. We started discussing things”
“This is not going where I would like it to go. Don’t tell me you puked it all out?”
“Boss, you are you and I am me. I believe I have to be honest in my relationship. I told her everything”
“Even the reminder thing?” boss wondered again.
“Yes I did”
“Honesty is the best policy. She forgave me and said she would stop reminding me about things. I promised she would not need to remind me”
His phone buzzed. It was his wife. After 5 minutes of monologue from her side, he was free.
Boss asked, “What happened?”
“Boss. She had put on rice on stove before leaving for work”
“She messaged me 4-5 times to remind me that I had to switch off the stove. When I did not respond, she called”
“But didn’t she tell you she would stop doing that”
“Yes she did”
“Doesn’t matter. After all you promised her that you would do things without reminders. Honesty and all that”
“I know boss. I am screwed”
“I forgot”
A deathly silence followed.
PS: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Once I played against a team, in my hometown, which had a girl as its captain. I don’t remember much about her barring the fact that she was of my age but much taller and stronger than I was. Oh well, I still am much shorter and weaker than people of my age. She had short hair, quite like Karishma Kapoor’s hairdo in one of the songs her debut film Prem Qaidi, kept wickets and batted.
I did play lot of cricket when I was a kid. Lot of competitive cricket. These weren’t any club matches. We guys often gathered 11 people, formed teams and played against similar teams. Normally one block of the area I lived in had one team. Although it were us building the team but one had to be good enough to come in final 11. Every match was played for a prize – paltry sum of money or the ball with which we played. The winner would take away the money or the ball. All of us had to contribute from whatever money we had. Being kids of middle class families, we didn’t have the luxury of well-defined pocket money. Hence we used to save from whatever avenues possible for these matches – walk back home from school instead of using paid transport to save money, use the money often guests gave us as gifts or things like that.
Since money was extremely hard to come by, we had to ensure we don’t lose it. And that was the motivation behind picking a perfect 11. No favors. No free cherries. And we fought tooth and nail to ensure not only we avoid losing whatever was on the bet but also to snatch it away from the other side so that we could have some buffer to play more of such matches. The matches were competitive. Very competitive. Sometimes they did end in a brawl with people losing blood and tooth in it. Hence not only teams needed guys who were good in cricket but also strong enough to fight in case there was a brawl at the end of the match.
So when a girl, often considered too weak to play this game, not only played but also led a side – it sent the eyes rolling. I remember quite a big crowd had gathered just to witness her play.
While she was a decent wicket keeper, what impressed everyone was the power of her shots and the command he had over her team. She was the captain of the side. Her shots, they were ferocious with full of power. When she hit our ace fast bowler, who later got an offer to play for a professional club which was quite a big achievement for people in my city, for three consecutive boundaries – he was hooted. He was hooted so badly about being hit by a girl that he lost control and bashed up someone from the crowd. Then he became abusive towards the girl.
That was my biggest surprise for that girl to play the game which was not just dominated by us males but owned by us. I had never seen someone from the other side of gender divide playing cricket. I wondered that even if she was a good player, how would she cope with such things at the ground. Didn’t she or her family worry about her safety? After all my part of city was, in fact the city itself, was full of rowdies.
Few months later we were going to participate in a tournament. Captain of my side wanted her to play for our side. So we visited her house. Her mother told her that she had given up playing cricket because it was not a girl’s game at all. One of her team members, we all had hit the teens, had misbehaved with her and the family didn’t want such things to reoccur.
That was the last I heard of her. But every time I heard about women’s cricket I did think about her. I wondered what would have happened to her.  Maybe she took the same route all of us did – moving cricket from the shelf called passion to the shelf called hobby and moved on with our lives. Maybe she did convince her family and played at some respectable level. I do not know. But all I know is that she was the only girl I had seen in person who played any kind of competitive cricket.
Hence whenever I hear about India’s women cricket team, I always wonder where do these cricketers come from. What would be the level of their passion to follow a sport which surely is a religion in the country but hardly has any space for women.
Because of my 8 year old, I have visited a few cricket coaching centers. I was pleasantly surprised by the kind and amount of cricketing talent those centers had. Oh well, how many times you see a 10 year old playing a perfect upper cut or a 9 year old playing a revers scoop or my own 8 year old playing a perfect helicopter shot? How many times do you see a 8 year old bowling with a perfect leg-spin action or kids learning to bowl googly just by watching Shane Warne videos?
What I do not remember is seeing a single girl in those centers. Need I has I have never seen an ad for girls-only cricket coaching?
So, where do these girls come from?
Over the years, general interest in India’s domestic cricket has increased. When I say domestic cricket, I do count IPL in it. IPL has given not only us but other countries too many talented cricketers in different ways – some got recognition through IPL, some got redemption. More importantly, it has increased the base at highest level. Now, one can dream of having just an IPL career instead of an international career. If you are good, monetary benefits are quite good. And it can always open the doors for international circuit.
Alas, women’s cricket do not have an IPL. I don’t know what is the status of their domestic cricket. While even a domestic cricketer, male, can make decent money these days thanks to BCCI’s hard work over the years, I am not sure what does a female cricketer at domestic level make. At international level, a grade A contract female cricketer makes 15% of their male counterparts. There are no other visible commercial benefits most probably. The fame is almost entirely missing. A Mithali Raj, quite the Tendulkar of women’s cricket, can still walk on the streets of Mumbai without getting noticed – high chances of that. I don’t know about the facilities even at the highest level. Where do they stack up with cricketers of Australia or England or South Africa? I have no clue but I can guess they aren’t really comparable going by the budget available for player’s salaries.
Process isn’t promising. Like the coaching facilities available in different parts of the country or domestic. End result isn’t too encouraging like money or fame.
So, what eggs these girls to take up cricket? Where do they come from?
The answer lies in passion and love for the game which take form when the mind is too innocent to recognize the existence of hurdles which may come in future. Like Harmanpreet Kaur said in her interview that she started playing and fell in love of the game even before she was old enough to recognize the fact that there is a gender divide in this world. But once she was in it, she game a damn.
Answer surely lies in the support the families of these cricketers provide to them. Even being full aware of the hurdles, they do promote and encourage them. Veda Krishnamurthy’s father moved from a small town in Karnataka to Bengaluru so that his daughter could play cricket.
And yes, credit has to be given to ICC for asking BCCI to take charge of India’s women’s cricket. Credit has to go to BCCI for giving it a structure, whatever form it is in, which will surely take time in gaining strength.
Right now India’s women’s cricket is somewhere where men’s cricket was in 70s or 80s – not much money, fame for only a few, struggling to keep pace with other sports and not much motivation for kids to pick it up as a career. At least men’s cricket had some heroes and 1983 world cup win with advent of TV in India transformed everything for them. Women’s cricket does need a strong impetus like that.
Oh yes, there have been chants about women’s IPL. While it does look like a noble idea, how to make it real and sustainable will hold the key for lot of answers in future.
From being ranked 7th in the tournament to being runners up is no mean achievement. That’s what we did in this year’s world cup. But we lost that match we should have won easily. We did what men’s team used to do so regularly in 90s. It was disappointing. It was disheartening.  
But yes, team did well. Really well. That is how the current sentiment is – “So what if we lost. We did really well”. That is a mature way to look at it which, to large extent, has come in fans for men’s cricket too. But that happened after a phase of immature fanaticism. The fanaticism which made the game the rage it is now in the country – remember all that effigy burning et al which doesn’t happen anymore, almost. I do not support it but for women’s cricket to evolve the way men’s cricket has done in the country, maybe it will have to go through that kind of craziness once. Maybe.
But more importantly, women’s cricket shall need to achieve sufficient amount of success, on and off the ground both, to inspire a generation of girls to start seeing cricket as a career. It shall have to generate enough career avenues, like IPL has done, for parents to see different possibilities for their daughter.
The process shall take time but if BCCI manages women’s cricket as well as it has done with men’s cricket. Such a day is more likely to come.
I just hope there is a day when a loss like yesterday doesn’t make me, the average cricket fan, feel like – “So what if we lost. We did really well”.  I hope it hurts and disturbs me. I hope it makes me lose sleep.
That would be the real victory for women’s cricket. Even in a loss.

 Image courtesy - Indian Express

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cars - 2!!!

Envy is all about counting someone else’s blessings than your own.
  •               -Someone
Ever since a friend I had driven a new car of a friend of mine, I had started seeing all those shortcomings of my own Maruti Ritz which were non existent before that. Soon, I started noticing everyone was driving a newer car which was a better model than my own. Or it was otherway round - I noticed only those who had newer and better cars. I was feeling envious.
So finally, after shelling out all my savings, selling left kidney and few liters of blood and taking a loan of gigantic proportions, I managed to buy a new car. Not a very wise decision I must say considering the state of industry I work in. All I can do is hope that I shall not become a cab driver in my own car. Or I don’t have to ask my wife to sell her kidney.
Hyundai Creta is a fantastic car. It is even better unless you have paid for it. Well, then that’s true for most things. They look better till you have paid for them.
After having driven both of them on a single day, yesterday, I realized the subtle difference between driving the both.
Old car is like an old and well trusted ally. You know it well. You know it better. You know all its moves. You know how it shall behave in what circumstances. It is like wife when you have been married for considerable period of time. Yes, there shall be loads of surprises but you tend to expect them. Yes, it shall break down sometimes but you are prepared for it. Oh yes, it shall make lot of noise but you get used to of it. You are well versed with the knowledge of curves and shape and comfortable with the fact that there is and shall be wear & tear. You have been through accidents and know its is no big deal - damages can be repaired. You have practically become one with it.    
New car is like a new partner. While you would like to try everything to make a good start and henceforth a good journey, the trust factor is still missing. You don’t really know the true nature and behavior. You are yet to get comfortable with the curves, shapes, size and features of it. You still don’t feel the part. Oh yes, you fear the first dent or scratch. When that happens, it hurts. Second one also hurts but lesser. Third one even lesser. Slowly you get used to of it. See, it is like a new marriage. Slowly you realize damages are no big deal and can be repaired.
Then the fight begins for parking. Especially if your twin parking is not parallel but straight - cars can only be parked one after another. Who will get the inner parking space? Because one you have been parked inside, you are dependent upon the other one for getting out. Discrimination sets in. Newer member starts getting more preference. Oh yes, it is like two daughters in law in the same family. Friends and family turn up for the muh dikhai of the newer member of the house. People shower praises because that’s the only option that have to tell you on your face. Someone sometimes asks - where is the older one? And you shrug your shoulders and say - same old place. I am sure if Ekta Kapoor reads this piece, she shall surely draft a new soap opera named Kyonki Kar bhi ek Bahu hai. While older one keeps doing the dirty work, younger one is still given some leeway to learn the tricks of the trade of the family. While tantrums of elder daughter in law are often discarded as regularity, tantrums of young one surely get more attention. Having said that, older one still commands more respect and power than the younger one.
While on the roads, you feel like Toruk Makto who is riding on the great Toruk (remember James Cameron’s bollywood style romantic sci-fi Avatar which made a fortune). When you are diving the older car, you are so much in control that you feel like you are riding on the baddest ass in the sky and own it. You see a gap and can drive through it blindfolded. You see a turn and immediately know the radius at which you should be turning without banging the car somewhere and yet not let the biker coming from behind take the slightest of space to overtake your car. Forget the bike, you cannot let any car overtake your own unless you know the market value of the other car is 200% or more than your car. You can parallel park it without any hiccups. You have become such an expert that you start to even optimize the parking space. You are the king.
With new car, it is totally difficult. You feel like Satyen Kappu who has three young, beautiful daughters and lives in the neighborhood of the Shakti Kapoors, Rupesh Kumars, Prem Chopras, Amrish Puris and ilks. You realize beauty is a cruel mistress. The bold and expert driver in you transforms into a timid father whose sole objective is to save his daughters from these villains. Every time you take it out on the road, all you do is to save it from getting hit/dented/scratched by the all others on the roads. Everyone seems like a lunatic driver who ,if you introspect, is no different from you your self in your older car. You are always over cautious in your radius calculations. Even though the newer car has more power, you avoid using it in the interest of safety.         
It goes on. Till the first dent. Then it changes. With every dent, you become bolder and less timid. Slowly, this new daughters in law starts reaching the similar status which can be termed as “old enough to not to be called new”. Soon, the new car is termed as the second car.
The cycle is quite likely to be repeated once the new daughter in law comes in the family.
Till then, I shall pray for the safety for myself, people on the road and my wife’s kidney.         

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Sikkim Story!!!

God must be kind to me. In last eight months or so, I've been to two places I always wanted to visit - europe and North Eastern part of India especially Sikkim.
And if you were to ask me to compare the two, for me Sikkim wins hands down.
To all its clutter and chaos, which is inevitable considering it is in India, the quality of natural beauty NE provides surely supersedes the mundane nature of Europe.
While Europe is surely much more structured, well planned and managed, there is certain artificiality and repetitiveness which makes it boring after certain point of time. Closest I can compare to Sikkim is Swiss but it cannot beat it in variety. No way. Forget everything else, I would always be an alien to Swiss whereas as far as Sikkim is concerned, it would always be part of my own country. Well, till China loses its mind.
To all its glitter and glamour of Swiss, it isn't mine. Sikkim is. And that's one quality of something that belongs to you - to all its shortcomings, to all the cribs you make about it, to all its incompleteness, it belongs to YOU. And that wins over everything else.

To me, the most striking feature about Sikkim was the road trip. Oh yes, roads were pathetic. But the adventure they provide, the thrill of being ever so close to falling down in the valley yet the beauty it provides, the rawness of it charms you over.
I consider myself a very skilled driver but after seeing the drive there, I wouldn't even sit behind the wheel forget driving. It is risky. It can be lethal. It needs special kinds of skill and expertise.
My driver told me a story about his accident ten years back when his car fell in the valley. 9 people died. Only he survived.
“How did it happen”, I asked him.
“Some stone fell down from the top and hit the car”
“Landslide?” I wondered.
“No it wasn't landslide for sure. I think some monkey pushed it from the top” he said in such a matter of fact voice that I felt a shrill through my spine.
We just witnessed a truck on which a tree had fallen and the driver had died on the spot.
“How can this happen”
“Weather here can do anything” again the reply in cold voice.
Talking about driving, I've never seen any Indian city which has such better managed and disciplined traffic. And I've seen some Indian cities.
People don't break lanes. Think of Ahmadabad. They barely honk. Think of Bangalore. You don't see many cars with dents. Think of Pune. I didn't see a single road rage incident in my stay of 4 days. Can you imagine it in Delhi?
And yes, one cannot bribe a policeman. You have to pay the fines which are hefty. Think of any Indian city.
Every time I praised this in front of the drivers who drove me around, I got the same answer - it has been ingrained in our minds that following traffic rules is for our own good.
With the inch close distance at which everyone is supposed to drive because of narrow lanes and up & down roads, the patience of people is really impressive.
Although it is a tourist place, tourists aren't seen as cash cows. Every time they spot a tourist, they don't jump on to loot him. Think about temples in Banaras.
People are friendly and warm. They are of helping nature. They don't really over price stuff based on location. A water bottle is sold as 20 a piece be it in the city or outskirts. Ever bought a water bottle on the highways elsewhere?
Oh yes, there are a few tips to make sure your trip is enjoyable. Do a good research on the hotels you are going to stay in. Do not rely on online sellers selling you rated hotels. Stay in well known hotel chains only.
Do book your cabs in advance. You shall not only save money but also get better cabs. Cabs are high in demand and can be a bottleneck in your travel. Especially given the road conditions, you would need a good car for comfort and safety both.
Although you cannot do much about it but do a weather check. Weather is totally unreliable. My first day was almost washed off due to bad weather. By the time we reached back to our hotel, the sun was shining again in its full glory.
Make sure you carry enough cash everywhere. The digital India is yet to make an entry in the pockets of most needy. I was lucky to carry sufficient cash with me. Without which I wouldn't have been able to do water rafting in Teesta. Teesta is one of the most beautiful and cleanest rivers I have seen. On one side you have West Bengal and on the other, there is Sikkim. Between these two contrasting states flows the river Teesta in its full glory and beauty. With turbulent water every now and then, it makes water rafting real fun.  
Tsomgo Lake is a beautiful place. Yak ride is an amazing experience. Do wear your bargaining hat and wear the best one. It is the only source of income for most there and they try to make the most of it. The mountain range behind the lake makes it one of the most picturesque locations. If you ever wanted a family portrait with blessings of nature, this is the place.
I had heard a lot about Nathula pass. The biggest attraction was to see the China border. Alas, you have to be lucky with weather to get permit. I wasn’t hence missed it. Still, I was quite close to the China border and who knows, for Chinese I might well have ventured in their territory. The situation there is well known.
In case your luck is as bad as mine, do make sure you do not stop at the Tsomgo lake and do visit the temple of Baba Harbhajan Singh. There are wonderful stories around the temple. Yes, ghost stories. Even if you do not get to the temple, quite possible due to long queues, you would get to see plenty of something which is rare in India - snow. The road on both sides is surrounded by snowy mountains and sometimes it is even covered by it. Make sure your cabbie is carrying a shovel and chains else he might be denied entry in the region. Permit is anyways needed to enter the region. And you need right kind of permit. So book that in advance. Or get hold of a reliable travel agent to do so for you. How to get hold of a reliable travel agent? Well, you aren't paying me to read this. Hence go figure that out yourself.

West Sikkim is quite different to these parts. Government has been making efforts to build tourist attractions in this part of the state. While Buddha Park is still in WIP state, Char Dham is absolutely stunning. For a shutterbug, nothing could be better to capture lord Shiva’s grand statue with sun setting behind it. Lord Shiva’s silhouette with crimson red sky in the background makes a stunning picture.

Our car did break down and we had to kill couple of hours on the road. Luckily the place it broke down was itself so picturesque that we didn't regret the incident. It was some guy who had put everything he had in acquiring a piece of land and was had ambitions of building a resort there. If he manages to do so, its just the location which shall make it worth the effort.

While some other states are famous for its tea gardens, I can safely claim that I haven’t seen more beautiful tea gardens than the ones I saw in Sikkim. They are less crowded, not meant for tourist attractions hence purer in nature. The Himalayan range surrounding them gives them a totally different look.

Food could be a problem if you aren’t a momo lover. But what could rescue you is something that has been rescuing us for generations - Maggie. You get it everywhere. Just everywhere.
Finally we were back from the land of momos to the land of modaks.
It was a wonderful trip which made me realize something important.
Yes India is vast. Yes India is chaotic. Yes India is in a mess.
Yes there is JNU. Yes there is Kashmir. Yes Mumbai is submerged in water during every monsoon. Yes there is extreme poverty in naxal ridden areas. We have bad infrastructure. We are always in rush. We lack civic sense. We have riots. We have all those bad things.
But beyond all this, there is another India. Like the one I witnessed in Sikkim. And that India is not all that bad.   

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Secret journal of a husband!!!

Gentlemen, come 19th February and it will be two years since India started its world cup winning campaign. On 19th February 2011, Sehwag almost fulfilled his promise of batting through fifty overs. Kohli made the most of what was supposed to be his only chance in the world cup. Our bowlers showed why they were a cause for concern. But all it was a journey well begun and thoroughly enjoyable – like another journey I had started six years back on this very day, 19th February 2007.

Let me be frank – God didn’t invent me to get wasted in falling with love in hope of converting it in a marriage. I was made for an arrange marriage. My concept was simple – love is divine, it can happen anytime. Marriage is an event which has to happen at right time. So, why to wait for something to happen, which can happen anytime, so that you can make something happen which has to happen at the right time?

Did I make any sense? If yes, please read on.

If no, when was the last time you saw me making any sense.

Even the arrange marriage wasn’t easy. After initial few rejections, a thought did strike my mind that it might never happen. But thanks to God who has given me this life, VVS Laxman who has given me this amazing ability to keep the hopes alive even in the most adverse scenarios and the lady of my life who agreed to tolerate me for the rest of her life, it did happen. I got married on 19th February 2007.

Since then, it has been a wonderful journey. While most of the credit goes to her, I would like to take some credit for discovering the secrets of happy marriage and implementing them in my own life.

For the benefit of those who are planning the bite the bullet or those who have already been shot down with the same bullet – here are some secrets to a happy married life.

Bypass – Okay, God has given you a head. You think there is a lot of meat inside it and I won’t blame you for that. If nothing, we all have the right to think the way we want. But it is not in what is inside your head. Most important body parts are at the two ends of your head.

These are your earholes. God has given you two earholes at 180 degrees to each other. All you need to do is to create a tunnel connecting both of them and use it as much as possible. Lesser leakage in this tunnel, better it is for you. Let is all pass. Quite often the gloomy days are described as – staring down a tunnel which has no light at the other end. Trust me, as long as someone can see light at the other end, he will be happy.

Just create a bypass between two ears and let everything pass at the speed of a tracer bullet. You will just get the feeling that it is what the doctor ordered.
Admire – Why blame women? Everyone wants to hear good words about him or her. It is just that women want it a bit more explicitly. Hence admire your wife in whatever she does – be it cooking a delicious Shahi Paneer for you or making you eat the Pizza which she herself couldn’t eat, be it the efficiency with which she manages the economy of the house or her art of spending all your salary in first 15 days of the month, be it her always welcoming you in the house with a smile or her tears which were shed because you didn’t say “Good Bye” to her when you left for work in the morning. Your praise has to be reflected in your admiration. Your criticism has to be sugarcoated with your admiration.

If she asks “Am I looking fat”, don’t simply say yes but reply “Oh these cloths these days. They are all made in China. That’s why they lose their ability to stretch with time”.

If she apologizes saying “Sorry, I forgot to put the salt in today’s lunch”, you can reply “Oh I thought that was deliberate. I forgot to tell you about the latest research which says that food with no salt keep the cholesterol down”

Only thing which you should never admire is the looks of other females in front of her. If she says “Wow, my batch mate looks stunning”, don’t jump all guns blazing in admiration but say “No way. You don’t have an eye for appreciating beauty. I have it” and wink.

Cunning – Women are curious creatures. To ask question is a right they acquire even before they are born. But they are different. They don’t ask questions to seek answers. They ask questions so that they can ask more questions based on the answers they get.

“You like your left eye more or the right one?”

“What is this question?”

“Just answer me.”

“I like my right eye more.”

“Why not left eye?”

“Well there is not much of a difference for me between these two.”

“Then why you said you like your right eye.”

“That’s because you insisted on me answering your question.”

“Will you do anything if I insist?”

“That will depend”

“Depend? Why do you never give me definitive answer?”

See, this can go on and on. Women know it very well that in life and boxing, he who gives the hardest punch doesn’t win. It is the one who always stands up after being punched down turns out to be the real winner. Your best of the answers are matched with a question, always.

You need to learn the secret. The objective is not to answer the question. Objective is to ask more questions. It is a loop you will never get out doesn’t matter how intelligently, as per you, you answer the question. Even if you do win this battle, you will be mentally exhausted.

What is the point in getting into a battle which, even if you somehow manage to win, will completely drain you out? Remember King Ashoka and the battle of Kalinga?

You need to be cunning here. You need to give such an answer which doesn’t give birth to another question. You may not win but at least you will mitigate the risk of getting drained out. That will be your victory.

So next time you are asked, “Which of your two eyes you like more”, simply answer with a smile “Whichever sees your first”. Chances of being hit back with another question will go down like a tracer bullet.

Henpecked – It is up to you, really. You want to live with your ego or you want to be happy. Your ego will give you nothing but lunches with no salt, lunches full of bitter gourd, lunches with three days old Pizzas, or most probably no lunch and you will be cooking the dinner. To stay happy, say goodbye to your male chauvinist ego and be henpecked. Oh yeah, don’t give me that stupid argument of “I wear the pants in my house”. Ask yourself an honest question; is it not the very same pant which you very often pull down in front of the higher ups at work? So why not do at home as well and achieve global peace

Eavesdropping – Stop doing it if you do. Don’t start it if you don’t.

Don’t ask what you are not supposed to. Don’t listen to what you are not supposed to. Don’t see what you are not supposed to. Don’t read what you are not supposed to.

In short, don’t try becoming a phantom.

Knowledge is good but too much of it is good for only Dumbledore. I am sure you are not him.

Why a one year old is happier than a five year old? It is because he knows nothing about school.

Why a ten year old is happier than a sixteen year old? It is because he knows nothing about going to IITs.

Why a sixteen year old is happier than the ones in IITs? It is because he doesn’t know that all his dreams that the other side of gender divide would fall on his feet just because he made it to IIT were going to be shattered once he actually made it to an IIT.

Why someone in IIT is happier than someone who has passed out of it? It is because he doesn’t know that it is same crap everywhere, all that changes is the place.

Why someone who is out of IIT is happy? It is because he is yet to get married.

See, knowing more is not always good. So why not just know what is told to you. Why take extra pain to do it. As someone said, ignorance is bliss.

Lose the battle, don’t fight, and just surrender – As someone said – there are two parties in a marriage. One is right and other one is the husband. So why to fight if you are going to be proved wrong, always?

If you lose, you lose. If you win, you spend rest of the day in wiping off her tears. Why to fight a battle which you can never win? Why not simply surrender? What is the harm in it? After all she is called your “better half” and you are called her “other half”. Why not be fair and simply believe in letting the better of the two sides win? What are you going to fight for anyhow – to give preference to watching the inaugural match of the world cup over celebrating your anniversary or switching the channel from Mann ki aawaz Pratigya on Star Plus to India Glorious on Star Cricket or not eating the specially cooked bitter gourd curry? Why not celebrate your anniversary, worry about the issues Pratigya has in her life and never buy bitter gourd at all.

O, the big O - Run, go hit the gym, work on your fitness. It is about the big O. I meant obedience towards your wife’s orders to take care of your health. What were you thinking.

Read the above, take a print out, tattoo it all on your palms if needed but do implement it – It is all based on experiences – my experiences, my friends’ experiences, my relatives’ experiences and anyone else’s experiences. Once you have read the above, implement it, internalize it and actualize it. Just in case you have trouble remembering it all, I have devised a key for it.

Bypass, Admire, Cunning, Henpecked, Eavesdropping, Lose the battle, Obedience, Read.

Bachelor is the key.

Just stick to this bachelorhood and you will have a happy married life – stay bachelor, stay happily married.