Sunday, January 29, 2006

A few lines

"Main aur meri tanhai, aksar yeh baatein karte hain, tum hoti to kaisa hota?

Tum yeh kehti, tum woh kehti;

Tum is baat pe hairaan hoti, tum us baat pe kitni hasti;

Tum hoti to aisa hota...tum hoti to waisa hota;

Main aur meri tanhai, aksar yeh baatein karte hain......"

Silsila (1981)

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Marathon

Could've written about this earlier, but decided to wait for a more opportune moment. The long night draws to a close, things are in place for Perspective 2006, our annual academic conference which starts from tomorrow.

I've been working non-stop for Perspective from 8:30 AM onwards, and it is now just past 2 in the morning. The temperature has suddenly decided to take a dip in the last few days, and the guys who were contemplating putting away those quilts have quietly pulled the same quilts over their heads. The media player on my laptop is playing "Rubaroo" from Rang De Basanti; the song can be softly heard 4 feet outside my closed room-door. There is a certain stillness in the air as the hostel takes a breather. After all, Nirma Champions League is over.

I've had a particularly rewarding day. I ran the 10km Marathon.

I'll tell you a secret. I had two objectives when I started preparing for the marathon.

One: I shall build enough stamina to last me 10 kms.

Two: I shall win the race.

I have achieved the first of my two goals. I came in 4th since I was outdone by better atheletes and there's no shame in accepting that. But above all this, this has been a great learning and liberating experience. The spirit mattered and pushing yourself to the edge mattered even more.

Consider this: Prior to this event, I hadn't ever run long distances, although I've walked many a kms at a stretch. So, running such a long distance at one stretch was a new challenge.

From the moment I entered my name for the competition till the time I began running the first lap, I could put in only 6 days of practice. That would boil down to 3 hours of practice at the maximum.

Till yesterday, the longest distance I'd run at a stretch was 5 km in 26 minutes. Today's run of 10 kms at a stretch was the first time that I attempted running such a long distance. To be honest, I'd not thought I'd be able to make it and many a times I'd almost 'seen' myself giving up after the 6th or the 7th lap in my mind's eye. But everytime that happened, I would shake my head and say 'No', I'm not going to let that happen.

Result? A thin, reedy looking guy, who till a fortnight ago was not considered to 'have it in him' to run came in 4th while running a distance of 10 kms in 48 minutes and 56 seconds. Not bad, huh? :)

Of course, at the end of the day, there is a certain bit of disappointment that I didn't even come in 3rd. But then, I was reminded of this picture which was mailed to us a couple of days back by a friend on the intranet.

Happy Republic Day

HAPPY REPUBLIC DAY to all Indians. Jai Hind!!

One of the first important events that this blog saw was the 58th Indian Independence Day on the 15th of August 2005. I remain as hopeful as I was then about the future of our country. I am no great personality, neither a business tycoon today nor the next biggest politician; but yes, I AM an Indian. And as an Indian, I am happy, content and hopeful. Happy about the present economic condition of the country; content about the opportunities present for the youth of this country and hopeful that our collective intelligence and resolve will one day overcome the many challenges that still lie ahead of us.

There was a certain sad incident last night, however, which forced me to think. What relevance does India becoming a republic have today? Why doesn't the average Indian, you and me, relate to India becoming a republic any more? Why has 'Republic Day' become a synonym for 'Sunday'. Have we forgotten the importance of our constitution or have we simply lost faith in it?

The questions disturbed me. I tossed and turned in my bed as many times as I could. If there is a record for T&T (tossing and turning), I certainly can lay claim to having broken it last night.

One idea that struck my mind was that if Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel had not succeeded in painfully threading together this country, all the hullaballoo today about India being a 'great' economic power wouldn't have existed. We would have been as ordinary and as fragmented as modern day Europe is. If Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had not successfully chaired the Drafting Committee, we would not have had a democracy.

It is a completely different issue that Babasaheb was one of the sharpest critics of our democracy. It is a completely different issue that the existing form of our democracy is more creaky than the oldest decrepit Fiat 800 you can find in a mechanic's garage. At least you have some semblance of normalcy. Be thankful that you do not have a Chinese regimental and almost unconquerable Central Government at the helm of all things, or, even worse, a President who finds it impossible to put together sentences in his mother tongue, has a vocabulary poorer than a class 10 student of our country and who must refer to his cohorts every time he needs to take a strategic decision, either about his country's defence or about bombing another nation.

Perturbed, I woke up to try and find something to read. I went to Rashmi Bansal's blog, and while reading a review of Rang De Basanti, read the following:

In fact, the film creates new definitions of old ideas. What does it mean to be ‘patriotic’? Rang de attempts to answer the old question in a new way. It’s not about Sunny paaji single handedly immobilising the Pakistani army and half its airforce by breaking the sound barrier as he booms “JAI HIND”.

So, what does it mean to be Patriotic? Ask yourself that question... it is the least that you can do for your country on this momentous day.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Lambi race ka ghoda

Like I said, I'm participating in Nirma Champions League (NCL) '06. Yours truly shall be seen in action in 100 and 200 m race. Not only that, I shall also be participating in the 4 x 100 m relay (teams yet to be formed) and the Marathon.


The word inspires respect. I just love the idea of running long distances. It is not enough to be a mute spectator of such events to understand what the runners endure during the event. The breathlessness, the perspiration on your forehead, the pain in your thigh muscles, the constant hitting of the hard ground against your soles... It is all a mind game at its best. When in spite of every sweat, every pore of your skin and every molecule of oxygen in your body shouting for you to stop, you refuse to give up and set yourself to run another km, that is the spirit which makes a marathon what it is. It is difficult to explain in words the feeling of quiet confidence that one gets after having run a sizable distance. You can almost feel the blood rushing through your veins.

There has of course been a surge in national interest in the sport thanks to the Mumbai Marathon which has now become an annual event. The NCL version of the Marathon is of only 10 km, but that too is a great ask. Tell me about it. I've just about started running 2 km at a stretch, and I'm completely out of breath at the end of it. However, I'm confident I'll be able to finish many more than 2 km on the final day.

The participation also brings with it a wave of curiosity, praise and nay-sayers. These days, the moment people get to know that I shall be participating in the marathon, they have one of 3 reactions.

Reaction 1: Marathon?!! Wow!! So, have you started practicing? How many kms can you run at a stretch?

Reaction 2: Marathon?! Amazing yaar. Cool. Aur koi daud bhi raha hai kya? I'm sure you'll win. Haan, theek hai, maybe you don't have the stamina right now, but I'm sure you'll make it by the time D-Day arrives.

It really feels nice when someone shows confidence in you. And so, let me add this that is a TOP OF THE WORLD feeling when you're running, breathing hard and telling yourself not to give up and someone spots you and shouts out "Come on, Shekhar... come on... You can DO it!!" Those were the exact words of a senior as I ran past the badminton courts today, and I think the elated feeling gave me enough energy to run for a quarter of a km more!!

Reaction 3: Abe, you aren't participating in any event worth mentioning, then why this daudne vaudne ka nautanki?

My reaction to the negative comments? Silently indifferent.

I run since I like running. It is one of the simplest things to do. All you need is a decent pair of shoes and an attitude that says "I'm not gonna give up".

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Life And Times of ENTrepreneurs (LATENT) Part 1

It is no secret that entrepreneurs excite me and lots of other people. Why? What is it that makes their lifestyle so interesting? Why is it that books written by them ("Direct from Dell" - Michael Dell, "Losing my virginity" - Richard Branson) or dedicated to them are bestsellers?

I have always believed that there is an entrepreneur hidden in all of us; we just need to look that little bit further. The following speech by Richard Branson (at the 4th Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture) proves my point; the situation he found himself in could have been that of ANYONE of us, in fact, there were a number of people who were in the same situation. Only, he decided to look for a solution.

"In '79, when Joan, my fiancee and I were on a holiday in the British Virgin Islands, we were trying to catch a flight to Puerto Rico; but the local Puerto Rican scheduled flight was cancelled. The airport terminal was full of stranded passengers. I made a few calls to charter companies and agreed to charter a plane for $2000 to Puerto Rico. Cheekily leaving out Joan's and my name, I divided the price by the remaining number of passengers, borrowed a blackboard and wrote: VIRGIN AIRWAYS: $39 for a single flight to Puerto Rico. I walked around the airport terminal and soon filled every seat on the charter plane. As we landed at Puerto Rico, a passenger turned to me and said: "Virgin Airways isn't too bad - smarten up the services a little and you could be in business."

That, my friends, is how VIRGIN ATLANTIC began!! Can you believe it? A mad hatter's flight was cancelled, and look what he came up with.

He goes on to add: "When VA was launched in '84, not one person thought it would survive for more than a year. The bosses of these 13 big American airlines, that we competed with, said we'd fail. Now 21 years later, all 13 of them are out of business - proving the number 13 is unlucky for some."

Whew. What a guy!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where the mind is without fear

Just read this on Sayesha's blog. The poem she mentions is really beautiful and inspiring. In fact, now that I pause to think, it reminds me of a Hindi poem that I studied in school. I think the title was "Behta paani nirmala".

Anyway, my all time favorite poem is "Where the mind is without fear" by Gurudev Rabindranath Thakur (it is the quintessential Bengali in me that makes me mention 'Thakur' instead of 'Tagore').

Here is the passage from the poem/prayer that I love:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever widening thought and action --
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

The original Bengali poem, of which the above is a translation:

I just love the idea of the grand vision that Gurudev had for our country. Surprisingly, this poem continues to hold importance for our country today as much as it did when it was written. And if you carefully observe, the poem asks us to constantly redefine the limits of what we think is 'possible' and go beyond and achieve even more.

"Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake"

Just so beautiful...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I am a Champion

Guess who's back? Well, not the Real Slim Shady, but the Real Slim guy named Shekhar. Yup, I'm back from the Mumbai Rendezvous. It was an awesome feeling meeting up with Mom n Dad. Like I said, haven't ever been away from home or from them for so long.

Thankfully,, LOTS of things haven't changed. I STILL am very fussy on the dining table, Mom STILL loves to push roti after steaming-hot roti dripping with ghee onto my 'thali', Mom continues to find my dressing style unacceptable ('the shirt Dad wore to Anil Kaka's house yesterday would look better on you') and Dad, on suddenly waking up late at night, still threatens me that he will not go off to sleep till I've switched off the computer. It is small things like these that make me feel that the planet is still a safe haven to live in. For how long? I don't know, and I hate to even think of the day when the safety net will be gone. Till then, life is beautiful and I want to remind myself to smile. :)

Uee maa, blunder ho gaya!! Mast maze ke mood mein tha, senti ho gaya. So let me get off that worried look and tell you something which is more normal...apun ki to waat lag gayeli hai, mamu! Got a few papers back, and I've performed terribly, true to my style. Abe gadhe, padhega nahin to aur kya hoga? But I knew this would be coming and thought I'd braced myself for this. I was definitely low when I got those marks, and I know somewhere it is still hurting. Good! I wish it hurts even more when I get the other papers, so that I remember to study and perform well in this term. Kasam Ma Bhawani ki, is baar to exams main top ke number lekar aoonga!! In fact, try karunga ki 3 point ko paar kar jaaoon. Best of luck to me.

Hurdles? Well, not exactly hurdles, but time consuming 'other' activities.

One, Perspective 2006 is coming up. B-plan competition, paper presentations, case studies, live games, et al, right here at Nirma. Err...toh problem kya hai? Arre yaar, I'm one of the co-ordinators, and I definitely want the event to be a success. Really need to work a lot to make this event on the 27th and 28th of Jan a fun affair.

Two, Nirma Champions League coming up. Bole to? Bole to apun ke college ka sports week. "You participating?" I can see some eyebrows raised in the audience. "Yes, me running for the 100m and 200m race."

WHAT ?!!! Eyeballs pop out, cups of tea crash to the ground, people leave their mouths open, mid-way into biting their sandwiches, and there is deathly silence in the room. What? The question rings loud and clear again. You'll run? I mean, you're so thin, the only chance you've got is if the wind blows in the correct direction, you can hope to get carried ahead of the competitors.

Arre baba, I was a good runner in school, haven't had the ability to prove my running prowess since then. I know I'm short on stamina, but will prepare...kal se.

Three, Sumantra. I mean, the book club here at our Institute, named eponymously after the management guru Sumantra Ghosal. I am the co-ordinator and I really want more and more people to contribute to the fun world of reading and book reviews.

Hmm. I have my plate full, but I shall manage. Why? Simple, look at the title of the post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bombay ko gaya mera dost

Hellu All.

Yes, me in a cheery mood again, finally. Arre baba, no, I hadn't been facing the death penalty or life-long imprisonment and have not been subject to the words 'Shekhar ko ba-izzat bari kiya jaata hai'. I was unwell for a couple of days, some sort of viral fever, which made me take complete bedrest for two days. So there you go, you know what an energetic and fast-paced beginning I've had to the new year.

Not to say that I did not enjoy it! :D As with most things, I enjoyed falling ill too. When else does one have few of the best young minds in the country waiting to serve you? 'Yaar, feeling too unwell, can you get me something from the mess for dinner?', I ask. 'Haan, haan, kyun nahi? Tu bol tere ko kya chahiye, rice, daal, sandwiches or just some 'Maggi' (trust hostel-ites to have turned Maggi into a part of staple diet)', my friends responded.

By the second afternoon, I was thoroughly bored of lying in bed. How much could a guy sleep? Sheesh! So, I thought of another way to keep my mind occupied. Logged on to the Net, went to the Project Gutenberg site, downloaded the audio e-book of Sherlock Holmes' "The Valley of Fear" and heard it to my heart's content. Ha ha. You can't keep a booklover out of action for long.

All this, while all around me there's a flurry of activities going on. It is as if the whole campus has been engulfed in the Richter 10 fever. What's that? Oh, nothing. Just our cultural fest that is going to be held on campus on the 12th and 13th of Jan (coming Thursday and Friday).

But I won't be here. I shall be going to Bombay from 12-15th Jan.

"Why, dude, why?", asks a friend. "You're never there for such stuff. We almost have to drag you out of your rabbit hole everytime there's such an event. Why aren't you gonna be here?", he hollers.

"Give me a good reason I should be here."

"It's gonna be happening...dude !!!" he yells in sheer delight, with his eyes almost popping out with glee and his shirt buttons popping out because of God knows what reason. "There's gonna be C (suppose) no. of colleges coming..."


"There's gonna be C multiplied by 15 (estimated average) number of participants coming!!"


"There's gonna be dancin' and masti n what not!!"


"Ok, there's gonna be dancin' and masti with C x 15 x 40% females who'll be coming too naa..Now get the logic?"

"Lekin, mere paas maa aur baba hai.." I reply in my best Shashi Kapoor impression.

(His turn to reply in mono-syllables) "Eh?"

"Err...what I meant was, Mom n Dad are coming to Bombay for a fortnight, and since I haven't met them ever since I joined Nirma (that's around 6 months now), me better go."

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is the report. This 23 year-old baby, who acts like a 5' 7" management student, who'd never stepped out of the luxury of home, never stayed at a hostel, never been outside the cozy nest called Kolkata and has now been away for a loooong time from home, goes back to meet 'em who made him what he is.

Adios. N to those who are here for Richter 10, Best of Luck and have a fabulous time!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A boys hostel secret

There's one secret about the boys hostel here at Nirma which I think deserves to be made public. [Note to bhaiyon and bandhuon residing in the boys hostel: PLEASE, PLEASE read the complete post before heading towards my room to celebrate my 'birthday'].

To meherbaan, kadardaan..Suniye suniye suniye...

[ala Kishore Kumar] Ek hasina thi...

Saare (boys hostel waale) deewane the....

Kya umar, kya nasha, kya zamana thaaaaa....

(Seems 'Karz' has had a major effect)

Well, according to what I gather from my discussions with the fairer sex, they seem to be of the opinion that a boys hostel is a dark dungeon where the minds of men, more often than not, turn towards preparing a '20 things I would love to do' list whenever they would spot any of the ladies mentioned below..

1. Aishwarya Rai
2. Priyanka Chopra
3. Bipasha Basu
4. Pamela Anderson
5. Carmen Electra
6. Kirsten Dunst

The list, to be honest with the girls, is actually endless.

There's no disagreeing the fact that we love to watch Ash dance to 'Kajra Re' with both Amitabh and Abhishek panting and puffing and watching her with eager eyes.

Also, there's no disputing the fact why 'Baywatch' was such a big hit. Simple yaar, it had Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra and God only knows who else (due apologies to the story and screenplay writer of the above program).

But, even today, circa 2006, there are fewer beauty-queens who rule the heart of men more than...

Yes, the truth is finally out. She still rules!! I thought that I was the only poor fellow who hopelessly had a crush on this beauty as soon as she raises her yellow ghunghta, bites her lips, looks up at Salim, and with a naughty smile on her lips, sings "Mohe panghat pe nand laal ched gayo re..".

But I was pleasantly surprised this Sunday evening when I walked unannounced into a friend's room. He was watching Mughal-e-Azam, and what's more, he was watching the song "Pyar kiya to darna kya". Later, the same day, 2 more friends came to my room asking me whether I had Mughal-e-Azam. "Why?" I enquired. "Arre yaar, aur kya wajah ho sakti hai? Gotta watch the blazing beauty of Madhubala stand opposite the stern glare of Prithiviraj Kapoor and the soft, tender glances of Dilip saab".

Final analysis? Go ahead, Pamela/Carmen et al., run all that you want to on the beaches of America, but for a select group of us Indians (dare I mention, and quite a few Pakistanis too?), our hearts will forever leap with joy whenever a certain Anarkali says "Jahaanpanaah...."

Sunday, January 01, 2006


HAPPY NEW YEAR people. May you have a wonderful 2006.

Ok, this isn't one of those times when I sat down in front of my laptop and said "Aha! I'm rested, comforted, almost as good as back from the dry-cleaners, now off to type." No; it certainly isn't one of those occassions. Neither have I been out boozing and partying, well not technically anyway.

The Student's Activity Committee (SAC) here decided to organise a bonfire and dance party on the grounds. Although they'd planned to start at 11, the real celebrations began only at 11:30. A few of us had taken down our laptops to the ground and connected it to the speakers.

Those who know me well enough will vouch for the fact that I have difficulty co-ordinating the movement of my legs for activities more complex than walking and running between the hostel and institute building on mornings when I've woken up late. As a result, I voluntarily became the DJ for a good 10 minutes. Why not longer? Simple. It is impossible to play songs that everybody likes. Every 1/2 a minute I would have people coming to me with different requests.

"What are you playing yaar? Come on, give me some good J. Lo numbers to dance on man." Hmm..I considered. Good looking female from the senior batch. Pata nahin, naseeb kab meherbaan ho jaaye. Action taken: Started playing a remix version of Waiting for Tonight.

Result (13.5 seconds later): "Abe saale, kya lagaaya hai tune? Ek shabd bhi samajh mein nahi aa raha, aisi bhasha sunne ka kya faayda. Abe chal, kuch apni mitti ka laga...Oye yaar, kuch bhangda-vangda ho jaaye yaar!!", came a Sardar-ji's response. The mind quickly drew up an image of a 6 1/2 ft-something Sardarji mercilessly dragging a 5 ft-nothing me into some dark, remote corner of the 110 acre Nirma campus. Nahi bhai, jaan pyaari hai, and I've still only just seen 2006. Action taken: Mundiyan tu bach ke rahi from Boom.

Result: "Yo dude! Where's the trance music folder I forwarded these people earlier today? This stuff is like...ancient dude!!"

No wonder I so quickly and willingly gave my job to someone else. However, I did notice something extremely interesting during the evening's proceedings.

Whoever said 80's music was out of fashion? When almost every other kind of music failed to get all the people on the dance-floor, someone played "Om Shanti Om" from Karz (remember? The 1980 Subhash Ghai directed movie starring Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim and Simi Garewal). The response was unbelievable!! The way people cheered as soon as they recognised the song from the typical manner in which the drums play at the beginning, the manner in which they shouted "Kiya" when Kishore Kumar asked "Kya tumne kabhi kisi se pyar kiya" , "Kabhi kisi ko dil diya" and the manner in which they danced the entire length of the ORIGINAL, un-REMIXED version of 8 minutes proved that the music of Laxmikant Pyarelal was as 'cool n hip' today as it was almost 2 and a half decades ago.

Came back to the room at around 2. Sat at my neighbour's room for an impromptu meeting with a few friends. We had a really nice chat, considering the range of topics we covered: Partying, the 'dry state' status of Gujarat, boozing, graduation days, films, the pornographic film industry [ahem], prostitution in India and abroad, AIDS, social work done in red-light areas of the country, deplorable condition of prostitutes etc. Fun discussion, which I can safely say kept most of us engrossed, as the discussion lasted for a good 2 1/2 hours.

I finally returned to my room at around 4:30 to find my roomie engrossed in playing Counter Strike on the LAN with another 32 players in the hostel. *Sigh* Some people have all the energy.

Good night, people, or rather, good morning. And yes, a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR once again.

May God bless you with all the best of luck and successes in 2006.