I AM

(PS: Here ‘I’ is not equal to Mayur Pathak, but not too different either ūüôā )

Figure for me is being able to wear a ‘jeans’ without getting too cramped. I find Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor as sexy. And I think Dilip Kumar is a great actor.

I eat Burgers and Pizzas when in Mumbai or Delhi and vouch for Panipuri and Aloo ka Paratha when in New York and London.

I criticize the BMC and comment on why Mumbai can not be like Shanghai or Singapore without ever visiting any of the cities or for that matter, without even living in Mumbai.

I try to teach how to hit sixes and win matches to Sourav Ganguly and M.S. Dhoni when my own hard hit shot doesn’t even cross the compound wall.

I feel the cricketers have taken bribes every time they drop a catch, get dismissed or lose a match.

I idolise Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Chetan Bhagat and Raj Thackeray.

I like all songs by Pink Floyd, Madonna and Michael Jackson without knowing what genre of music they make or play. And I dance to them when in a discotheque. Though my dance moves are as if I’m dancing to a Punjabi Dhol.

I find movie tickets+popcorn+coke at 300 bucks as reasonable whereas Apples at 100 bucks a kilogram as costly.

“Kitne Aadmi the…” and “Tere Paas kya hai…” are still my most widely used filmy dialogues. But I hate Bollywood movies that fantasize too much. And yet, Star wars, Jurassic Park, Matrix and Terminator are my favourite movies.

I criticize every ruling party and always think the opposition would have done better, no matter who is in power.

I always think my boss is an Idiot and I can do a better job than him. But I never fail to flatter him, in order to get a good appraisal.

I obey traffic rules only when I see the traffic cop standing at the far end of the junction.

Being a spectator to a road side quarrel is a great fun to me.

I like writing and reading about myself.

I AM … an Indian!!!

Indians and Manners: Part II

Separate incidents-

  • I was on my way to office today morning and driving on the Ghod Bunder Road on the out skirts of Thane. I was about to overtake a bus when a¬†polythene bag full of vomit (yuks!) was hurled out of one of the windows of that bus. It landed barely few¬†feet¬†in front of my wind screen. You know what would have happened if I was driving a little faster. Whoever threw it¬†didn’t¬†even bother to see if any one else was coming from behind.¬†How’s that?
  • IBM, Oracle Financials, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, TCS, LRN and India Infoline. These are some of the companies, all top rated, who have their offices in the commercial premises where even I go for work. We have two common canteens in the complex situated side by side. One of them has a counter which sells¬†cigarettes, pan masalas, gutkhas etc. Whenever you pass through that area, you will always find the cigarette buds and empty sachets littered around. The poor attendants have to clean up the garbage every now and then. Now if employees belonging to such high profile companies do not know how to behave, who else will?

The primary reason why we are still called an underdeveloped country despite having what it takes to rule the world is the attitude we have towards our own country. We complain about the apathy of the Municipal corporations and unhygienic conditions with the same ferocity with which we stomp on the  cigarette bud thrown on the road.

When will we learn?

When will Indians Learn Manners?

Two separate incidents yesterday made me believe that it is not only difficult but near impossible to teach us Indians to apply basic common sense when it comes to manners and obeying rules.

Incident 1: My office has newly shifted to a big corporate park recently. Since the building is being finished, the employees are required to use the service doors for entry and exit. It is a spring door, meaning it retracts by itself (I dont know what it is called). The wing where my office is located also houses companies like Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, IBM, LRN, and the likes. So yesterday late evening when I was getting out of my office building, about 4 guys from IBM were walking about 10 feet in front of me. I had a laptop in one hand and my mobile in other. As we all approached the door, while on of these guys opened the door, I decided to check what it was it. And… BANG! The door got slammed on my face. Surprisingly, none of the four guys were courteous enough to look back, forget holding it for me.

Incident 2: On my way back to home, a guy oh his bike was driving almost at neck to neck pace with me on the highway, coincidently though. A¬†peculiar¬†thing was, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Now this is very unsafe considering speeds in excess of 70-80 kms per hour. After¬†passing¬†over 3 fly overs, he slowed down and wore the helmet tucked on the mirror while still driving. Reason? we were approaching the Check Naka where the traffic police are present. So he was actually afraid of the of the bribe or the Rs. 100 fine and not losing his life? strange.

Gosh… when will we learn?

One Year After Attacks, Have We Moved On?

In another 4 days, the dreaded terror attack on Mumbai will complete one year. A night when a handful of gunmen from across the border held the city at gunpoint will be remembered again. It was an incident, which changed the life of many people. But has any thing really changed otherwise?

As an after effect we saw both CM Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy CM & Home Minister R R Patil being removed from their posts. The ruling Congress party was flayed, the intelligence agencies were questioned, other political parties were criticized, Raj Thackeray was ridiculed. The people of Mumbai gathered together for a solidarity march at the gateway of India. The protests arose, the cause was raised and gradually every thing died a slow painful death. Is it an irony? I don’t think so…

The only terrorist captured alive is still living in the Arthur road jail without much discomfort. The perpetrators and conspirators are freely roaming around in Pakistan. We are (still) waiting for US to help us. ¬†Congress came back to power both at the centre and state assembly. Vilasrao is enjoying his stint as the union minister for heavy industries, R R Patil is back at the helm of home ministry, Raj is back and busy fighting for the Marathi ‚Äėlanguage‚Äô rather than the people, conducting gheraon and angry protests on issues as trivial as debating on ‚ÄėWhy Hindi is not a national language‚Äô. Shiv Sena, now led by a much mellowed Uddhav Thackeray is criticizing the legendary Sachin Tendulkar because he put India ahead of any one else. It looks like they are coming back to the vandalizing best. The men who could have, should have and must be protecting us from the possible attacks, the Police are busy pointing fingers at each other, one year after we were attacked.

Nothing has changed for a normal Mumbaikar like me… and nothing ever will. Terrorism, in my opinion, is a secondary problem for us. We are battling more than that every day, every month… the ever increasing population on roads, trains and buses, the sky rocketing property prices, the water and power crisis, substandard infrastructure and a slowly retreating ghost named recession. Every day journey to the office seems like a solidarity drive.

I think Mumbai is ready for another attack. Any takers?

What Does a Marathi Manoos Want?

… a question that goes unanswered in all the elections. From wherever and whenever the Thackerays started wooing the Marathi junta, I dont really remember one good initiative taken by any one to ask the real ‘Common Marathi Manoos’ as to what his real demands are.

In fact, in between the digging of the cricket pitches, the riotings and the banishing of the so called ‘Bhaiyyas’, the real cause of concern has been getting lost time and again. The situation is that now the real¬†common¬†‘Marathi Manoos’ doesn’t know where to start and what does he really need from the innumerable political¬†agendas¬†being manifested and bulldozed on his own name. May be he has accepted the silent corrupt (read Congress) over the shouting bigots as his and Maharashtra’s¬†saviour for a better future. Yes, Raj Thackeray has won 13 seats in Maharashtra. We have seen all the talking he did. May be we can see things improving on the ground level too. May be…

Anyway, I’m not spending too much time on who has done what and who wants to do more. I’m just addressing the plain question asked by a ‘common marathi manoos’ and I want you (YOU the reader) to answer it for me.

PS: In my opinion, all a Marathi Manoos wants is better opportunities for him, better living conditions in his own motherland, greater financial stability and peaceful dwelling. And of course he doesn’t like some one else dominating his life. But I’m sure he doesn’t care who sits next to him in his office, whether a Gujarathi or a Bihari.

The Enemy Within

Movies continue to inspire me to write some thing. I watched the movie ‘Shaurya‘ over the weekend. Although I knew the movie was inspired from ‘A few good men‘ , it is a good watch none the less. It is a story of an Army lawyer (Siddharth Choudhary played by Rahul Bose) defending a soldier (Captain Javed Khan played by Deepak Dobriyal) against a charge for culpable homicide. Javed has killed his senior officer and is charged with a murder and links to terrorist organisations. Javed actually is a victim of racism and hatred.¬†He is targeted because he is a Muslim.

Kay Kay Menon, who plays Brig. Pratap, has very efficiently echoed the hatred most of us have against the people who are always credited for spreading terrorism. He (as in his character in the movie) has lost his family to a conspiracy by his house help, who happened to be a Muslim. This is very identical to some one who has lost a member in the innumerable terrorist attacks in India and abroad. We dislike an Ahmed or a Khan because some other Ahmed was one of the accused in a bomb blast case. There are many other names. So we end up hating every one who is a Muslim. Dont we ignore that the ‘good Muslims’ are equally troubled? More blasts and attacks occur in Pakistan these days.

It is not about one particular caste. I think we are pretty damn selfish when it comes to hating or demeaning a race, caste or a religion. As a Marathi, I have seen fellow Maharashtrians making fun of Gujrathis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Biharis… and I have seen the others making fun of each other just as we do. It is nice as long as done in good faith. But you never know when the fun gets transformed into hatred.

Now coming back to the point of selfishness in hating some one. Consider this, a Marathi will hate a Bihari for spoiling Mumbai, but will cheer loud when Dhoni and Tendulkar are playing together for India. They wouldn’t mind a Dhoni or a Sehwag leading a Dravid or a Agarkar. We fight amongst us as states, but come together for a national cause. So a Marathi or a Gujju will become a Hindu and will despise a Muslim because a Muslim terrorist was caught blasting bombs. So all the Marathis and Gujjus and Punjabis will stick together and you will have a 1993 Mumbai riot or 2002 Godhra riots. Despite this, Hindus and Muslims will come together to fight for India. This has happened in the past during the freedom struggle. Hindus and Muslims wanted to drive the Britishers out of the country together. So both hated the British. But they still helped them in World War II against Germany and Japan. Why? Known enemy was better than an unknown friend. India also has had political conflicts with fellow Asian countries such as China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia… However when you look at the immigrants in Australia, UK and US, the Asian populations sticks together for their rights (Although we Indians are still known as ‘Indians’.) So they try to ward off the racist attacks in Australia together. And I’m sure we all will stick with each other if an alien planet declares a war on earth ¬† ūüôā

So if we indeed have a ‘Earth Army’ to fight, say Mars, who amongst these soldiers will be a Marathi? A Punjabi? A Muslim? A British? An Australian? I think it is stupid to hate people. It is you yourself who have proved time and again that you can compromise your dislike for the ‘other caste’ on more than one occasions. So why still detest it? Your enemy is not on the roads… the enemy is within you. Why live on premonitions? Forgive and forget. Live and let live. Kill the hatred and half your problems are already solved.

“Courage is not in killing 100 enemies and standing like a brave soldier. Courage is in recognising the truth, adhering it and standing by the last word of it.”

How to define freedom?

I seriously want to know how do you define freedom. India’s 62nd independance day is just around the corner. We take all the pride in the world to celebrate it and boast the fact that we are free. But what do you exactly mean by free?

Is smoking on the road, spitting on the compound walls and cursing the Municipal corporation for not doing its duties called as freedom?

Is voting for the relatively less corrupt self proclaimed leader means freedom?

Is sweating it out day and night just to clear the GRE and flee to US for a better living called freedom?

Is outraging some body’s modesty in public called freedom?

Kicking out the so called outsiders from your city and being a falsified self proclaimed guardian of the culture called freedom?

Guys, if you are reading this… please do not just pass away. Take 2 minutes of your time in writing a comment. Please define freedom for me. I want to feel free.