31 July, 2007


No, I’m not dedicating this post to anyone. Rather this post is about true dedication that I see in people around me, dedication to their job, a cause, or doing what they like to do. It’s this dedication that has inspired me to keep going many a time when things are not going too well. So here goes….

Dedication is:

--> The 70 - 80 year poor old woman, who I have been seeing for almost 15 years now. Everyday, as I pass by the temple close to home, I see her pushing her mentally handicapped son in his wheelchair, taking him somewhere, or probably just talking, showing him things in the hope that one day when he recovers, he’ll probably remember all that she has said. She is a real testimony to all that a mother stands for.

--> Bhanumathy ma’am – my math teacher at school. I haven’t seen too many teachers like. Absolutely dedicated to teaching students math, and not just preparing them for exams. A frail, soft-spoken woman, who has never had a harsh word to say to the students. And we never took advantage of that either. Respect, they say can only be commanded, not demanded. I guess they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

--> The priest at the temple that I visit every weekend. He’s an extremely old man, who can barely stand up and say the mantras clearly. But every time someone comes over to the deity that he sits near, he’s up on his feet and each time, he recites the prayers, while the younger priests just ask you to help yourselves.

--> My neighbor, a very talented musician, who can play as many as 6 instruments proficiently. He’s more than 30 now, and not earning the kind of salaries that society tends to expect of someone of that age. But that has not waned his dedication one bit. For him, music is his first love.

--> Oscar Pistorius, who has lost both his legs and has prosthetic limbs and is now running so fast that he wants to compete in the Olympics – for the abled. Just for the info, his best time for a 100 m dash is 10.6x.

--> My mother, who took care of my grandmother while she was very sick.

--> The soldier, who fights in hostile conditions, for people who would never know him. And for what purpose? His dedication to protect his motherland, his country.

Well, there are so many people, that I can think of who make me feel, that there is so much more that I can do everyday, who inspire me to give in that extra bit into whatever I do. I’m sure all of you have many such people in mind, who might inspire you when all seems lost.

27 July, 2007

It’s a wonderful life – an adaptation.

Last week, I watched the movie ‘It’s a wonderful life’. We have a movie club at office, which screens movies every Thursday. I had heard a lot about this movie and so when I heard they were screening it at office, I wasn’t going to miss it. It’s a nice movie with a simple plot - too simple I would say. But it’s quite an inspiring movie, and somehow it strikes a chord. But although I had never seen this movie before, I had a sense of Déjà vu.

Only then did I remember something that happened a long while back – so long that I had almost forgotten. I was in the twelfth standard and we were just done with our half-yearly exams. The cultural season was just beginning and we all were pretty excited about it. Not that I was planning to participate in a lot of events, but importantly this meant we would be having a lot of free hours. I thought this was the right time to expose my talents (or whatever little I thought I had). And so I gave my name for the dramatics event, not knowing what I was getting into.

It was a lot of fun initially. And afterwards, with just a week to go, it didn’t seem like a lot of fun after all. We had not even decided on the script and the other teams were doing quite okay. And then I thought of this idea of a man, completely frustrated with life and who then commits suicide. After his death he lands in Heaven, where ‘Yama’ shows him ‘Heaven vision (or something of that sort)’ – which allows him to see what’s happening to the people on earth whom he thought didn’t really care for him. After seeing the impact that he had on their lives, he begs to be given a second chance. Simple story, right, so not much can go wrong, huh?? Or so we thought…

On the day of the event, we came all prepared, and as fate would have it we were the first team on stage. Alas, last minute panic stuck. The boy who was supposed to cross-dress (a combined team of boys and girls was not viewed favourably in our school) as Rose from ‘The Titanic’ just could not find the right costume, and so he had to make do with a nightgown on stage. Not a very pleasing sight that – me romancing with a guy in a nightgown and giving a lot of cheesy lines. But that was just the beginning. Our story required us to talk while in motion. Unfortunately there was just a single mike on stage and as a result, we had to stop, deliver a dialogue and then move on. Ok, so we’ve had our share of bad luck… time for something good to be happening… Apparently not. In a scene where the phone rings, we had a person backstage playing the phone ringing on the keyboard. (mobile phones were not all that common in those days and none of us had one). And then just as I’m expecting to hear the phone sound, and about to pick up the handset, I hear an ambulance for a full 3 minutes (fancy ring tones were also unheard of in those days). Oh, how I wish I was not the person holding the phone. The last few scenes after that are still a blur.

We ended up as the fourth best team (I guess it wouldn’t be necessary to tell you that there were only four participating teams). The actor who had cross dressed as a woman, could not find his pants and had to be in the night gown for quite a while. Talk about adding insult to injury. Well, for the positives, the audience was quite appreciative of my changing clothes for a scene very quickly. And this play will always give me something to laugh about when I think back.

‘All the world’s a stage’

25 July, 2007

20,000 feet above sea level !!

20,700 feet to be exact. That’s the height at which the 75 km wide Siachen glacier sits at the northern tip of India. It was a location that had for long, ceased to be of any significance to the people on its either side, a pristine location untouched by humans, a view to behold. But then it all changed in the year 1984, when the place became popular – as the highest battlefield in the world. A once insignificant glacier, became the ultimate symbol of supremacy which neither side was willing to give up.

So, how did it all start? The 1972 Simla agreement, signed between India and Pakistan, failed to clarify which of the two sides controlled the Siachen glacier. In the 70’s Pakistan began giving mountain expedition permissions to anyone who wanted to scale the peaks from their side. This alerted the Indian army, who then decided to mount an army expedition as a counter exercise. On 13th April, the Indian army launched ‘Operation Meghdoot’ and marched into the glacier. Pakistan responded by deploying its own troops and tried to beat India to the top. Because of the head-start that India had, she was able to occupy most of the region, while Pakistan had to settle for what was remaining. Since then Pakistan has launched several attempts to conquer the glacier and India has stuck on to its position and Siachen has become a virtual boiling point in the Indo-Pak relations.

For us people commenting from the comforts of our homes, its just another of those several conflicts which are happening all over the world – taking comfort in the knowledge that such a conflict would never touch us in any manner. But spare a thought for the soldier - away from home, in hostile conditions and with the enemy right in front of him and with only each other for support. In winter, temperatures fall to below 50 degrees Celsius and you can see only snow for miles together, and frostbites and the hostile weather claims more lives than the gunfire, what keeps them going. Is it pride of serving in the toughest conditions? Or the hope of a comfortable life later on? A deep sense of patriotism and a staunch belief in the nation and its lawmakers? I don’t know because I’ve not been in their shoes. But what I do know is that they are the real heroes who have not been given their due. Its only when a Kargil comes do we suddenly realize that there are people out there fighting to protect us, while we are busy making our fortune.

While part of me argues, ‘What’s the point of this war? Someone has to cede power. And if the other side is not willing to, why not us’, part of me also argues ‘Why should it be us? Why can’t it be the other side’ and ‘Maybe we should hold on till we reach an amicable agreement’. Deciding is tough, more so for the decision-makers who would have to live with the tag of ‘the people who gave away a part of the nation’. But is it not worth it if that would mean you could die, knowing that you were the reason that so many lives were saved? Although it might seem utopian, if we view countries as just land demarcated by lines, does this whole land struggle make any sense at all? After all, I don’t know the person in Kashmir any better than I know a person in Uganda and a person in Srinagar might relate better with a person in Lahore and similarly a person in Karachi might relate better with the people from Lucknow. So, what’s all the fuss about?