Monday, 30 August 2010

Mumbai – The City of Dreams! :)

Delhi, the National Capital of India and Mumbai the Financial. While Fashion & food are like two lifelines for Delhizens, its sensex, film stars and larger than life dreams which gave Bombay its identity. What to talk about those cities which are in news every day? What is that you already don’t know about them and we can tell you? The sole purpose of this two part series ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is to look at the cities from a perspective of two individuals who found everything here from work, home, friends- in short a new beginning to life!

For me, Mumbai is a city of dreams. So am I living my dreams, yes you can say that I am living in my dream city. And like me, millions of dream filled eyes come to Mumbai every year to make it big. And it is the place where dreams do become true. The city has something for everyone. So many times we have heard Shahrukh Khan saying, “When I came to Mumbai, I didn’t even have a penny in my pocket.” And he is just one among the many many people who came, saw and conquered. The city is kind to those who believe in themselves.

When you hear a morning 6’oclock alarm ring, you just can’t ignore it and sleep back. A minute extra sleep means you will reach the bus stop late. A minute late and you would be welcome by huge queue waiting for 6:50 AM - 461 BEST bus. A minute late at railway station means you will miss your 6:58 AM Churchgate fast local. The effect will be you would have to wait for the next train/ bus and the whole process makes you delay by 20-40 mins at your work place. So the system makes you disciplined. You start valuing time. You prioritise and plan ahead. Number becomes part of your life.

When you are in the office, you forget all the hassle you managed to reach the office. At the work place, you meet a hundred people, bright, young with one thing in common - all outsiders i.e. non Mumbaites. And if you happen to come across a localite, you can’t resist exclaiming, “Oh, you are a localite. Cool! Where do you stay in Mumbai?!” So you end up meeting people from various parts of the country and share different cultures but similar dreams – to reach at the top of the world!

In the evening, when it is the time to wrap up from the office, you get charged up once again to face the crowd and fight for your square centimetre of space in the local train. And again if you miss your 7:37 PM local from Fort station to Borivali, you get late for the dinner atleast by 50 mins. But you can always munch on a Vada pav. Cheapest and best snacks of Mumbai. There are people who survive only eating Vada pav, so if it is just a snack for you, you are a lot better off!

By the time you are done with your dinner, it is 10:30PM. You talk to your parents over phone and then you realise it’s time to signoff for the day. The next day is 6hrs away from waking and you need to rest before you gear up again! The sleep you get after toiling for the complete day cannot be bought from any shop. You sleep with a faith and wake up with a hope the next day! Are we missing something here? Oh Yes! This is just the starter and the main course and deserts are still waiting. You have only tasted first dish of the Chappan Bhog food. (Chappan Bhog – 56 variety of dishes served on auspicious events)

The day you feel life is getting monotonous, you need a break – you message your friends “Today evening at Marine drive, dinner at Jazz by the Bay.” So you meet up your college friends at the Queen’s Necklace. You chat with them, share stories, watch the ocean waves moving and stare at sky thinking. You land up at Pahlwan dhaba behind the historic and royal Taj President hotel for dinner. Paratha - curry with Coca cola and friends. You end up running towards station to catch the last local. Not that staying all night awake at the sea shore would not have been fun, but the next day office drags you home. A day well lived.

And the weekends are much awaited time. You sleep out till the noon. Do your pending work and plan for the evening. You hang out with your roommates at Juhu beach, go to Versova beach with office gang, at the ISCON temple with closed ones, Siddhivinayak, Mahalakshmi and Haji Ali with relatives, Hakone Go Carting with your friend’s group and now you are also part of that group, Water Kingdom water park with your project friends, latest flick with your ex project friends, English play with random friends (term I came to know in Mumbai itself), Lonavala on a rainy weekend with old friends. Your cousin visits Mumbai and he is a great fan of Shahrukh Khan so you take him to Mannat (SRK’s bunglow) at Bandra.

The city never sleeps. And not just in the literal sense but also when it is gripped by foreign attacks. 26/11 the biggest terrorist attack in the history of India – yet next day offices was open. Life was at normal, up and running in few days time. The city has its own challenges. The traffic is maddening at times, slums is as much an integral part of the maximum city as the Sensex, Bollywood and politicians, food is cheap but living is expensive, yet “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, usse perfect banaya jaata hai!

The post would remain incomplete without the mention of vigilant and agile Mumbai Police. They are the once who keep crime under control and ensures fearless mobility. They are the once because of whom people like me can go to Juhu beach at morning 3 o’clock and sip road side ginger tea!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: There has been a Harshad Mehta and there is a Ratan Tata. There has been a Dawood Ibrahim and a Hemant Karkare. Monika Bedi or a Priyanka Chopra. Or you can be larger than life, Sachin Tendulkar is an example. This is ‘the’ city where people come to make their career and end up making their life, it depends what dreams you want to realise!

*This series will also be published simultaneously on Delhizen’s blog Part II titled ‘Fashionable Delhi’ will be posted in days to follow!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Jab We Met! Indiblogger meet, Mumbai...

I saw her. She was standing at quite a distance from me. I was surprised to see her, I wasn’t expecting her. I stared her again to make sure that I was not imagining and she was actually there. Oh! Yes! She was actually there. A gush of excitement rushed through my bloodstream. I started moving towards her. Huge crowd was standing on my way but I managed to get through. In moments I was standing right next to her. Two guys were talking pic with her. So I waited for my turn. I cursed myself for not carrying camera. It was my turn. She was stunningly beautiful. Tall and mesmerizing. I was a bit hesitant. And by the time I could move closer, a bunch of people flocked infront of me to talk pic with her. I waited. And then I decided that I am taking the next turn. She was holding a cup of tea and was about to sip through it. I patiently admired her and allowed to enjoy that sip. “Gul, can I have your autograph please?” and I pushed paper and pen. “Sure”, smilingly she replied and two sweet dimples appeared on her cheeks. “Gosh she is prettier than what she appears to be on the big screen!” my mind said to me.

I was at Hotel Sea Princesses, Juhu, Mumbai. The occasion was Indiblogger Mumbai meet. A meet where 250 bloggers from Mumbai came, saw and conquered. Virtuality met reality. I met so many people who follow my blog and regularly comment and also people whom I follow.

As I reached there, I really didn’t know what to expect. Initial few minutes were grueling. I went alone and didn’t know anybody. But as time passed I started conversing with people and the ball was set in motion. One of the segments of the event was to introduce oneself and brief about their blog in 29 secs. It was kind of fun listening to people and I admit some of them were too good. The story teller or the guy who had a breakoff, they gave wackiest introduction I guess. In another segment we were given a big cardboard attached with a string. We were supposed to wear it with card hanging on our back and ask people to write comments on that cardboard – kind of you scratch my back, I scratch yours! (I used same cardboard to take Gul Panag’s autograph).

It was time; I had to take pic with Gul. So I went to my photographer blogger friend magiceye. “Hello Sir, I want a pic with Gul but I am not carrying camera.” I said to him with a puzzled face, smiling hoping he agrees to take my pic. “Oh sure, why not!” he replied. We moved towards Gul. She was sitting with someone. “Hey Gul, would you mind a pic with me?” I said and I knew she won’t mind. In next few seconds I was standing right next to her, smiling and magiceye talking a shot. First click. “No wait it hasn’t come good” magiceye said. And then he took I guess 35-40 secs for adjusting camera settings and we were standing with a smile on our face. And after 40 secs, he said to Gul, “I think he wants to be with you for some more time!” and we broke into laughter. He took final click in next second and I thanked both of them.

Then was an interesting session. Gul Panag was the moderator and the house was divided into two groups - the Youngistan with age less than 27 years and the senior citizens with 27+ age. We were discussing the role played by bloggers in the education system. How we bloggers have made a difference in the society where media is generally biased and doesn’t represent the complete society. It was a good session with both sides did try to outsmart each other. But I was amazed by Gul herself. This beauty has brains too! Her perspective and knowledge was very sound. Each time she spoke, she was adding a new dimension to the subject. People got so much involved in the session that Renie, the Indiblogger founding member and the team had to forcefully rap up session. And then it was time to screen ‘Soch Lo’ movie, before its release, especially for the bloggers. It was first of its kind promotion strategy. I was glued to the movie for most of the time, just that I missed the popcorn!

All in all it was a fabulous experience to meet people whom I knew virtually till that day. Kudos to the team of Indibloggers for putting up such an eventful show. Kudos to all the bloggers for their active participation.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: For those who aren’t into blogging, start one; you never know with whom you would meet luck by chance! Will I be seen pairing with Gul in my first movie, who knows! And those who are already into it, don’t miss any blogger’s meet! :)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Indian at HeArT!

The North, the head is covered with snow. Beautiful Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Punjab mesmerizes with its natural beauty. The Himalayas stand tall guarding the country from calamities and intruders. Rivers originate and flow across the country talking care of the mankind. The Dal lake and Gulmarg, Leh - Ladhak, Buddhist monastery and divine beauty of Dharamshal in the north. Majestic Sikkim, tea plantations in North east, Water falls, National parks and beautiful architecture at India ka Dil – Madhya Pradesh, Portuguese churches, and excellent beaches at Goa, beautiful Konkan in the west, the golden beaches at Visakhapatnam, Jog falls of Shimoga District one of the highest waterfalls in Asia. South is blessed with wildlife sanctuaries, National parks and home to more than 500 species of birds. The natural beauty doesn’t require any introduction. God’s Own country – Kerala and the southernmost tip where the three great oceans confluences, a sight to freeze in eyes! From snow covered white land to sandy deserts, mountains to plains, waterfalls and forests, plateau and dense vegetation, the mother land has it all. She is very beautiful!

The country has been ruled by so many rulers who left behind their trademark architectural styles. It is evident in temples, forts and palaces. Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, India Gate, Lotus temple, French colonies at Pondicherry, Charminar, oh, I can go on and on… I guess a life time will be insufficient to explore the land completely.

A nation where a single God is worshipped in 33 crore different forms and names. Tirupati, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, the Dilwara temple at Mt. Abu, Ajmer sherif, the Hindu holy shrines of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi, twelve Jyotirling situated across the nation, the Puri temple and the Golden Temple in Amritsar are few famous temples among the millions worshiped in India.

The country is united by forming states on the basis of languages. Each state has its own peculiarities. It is diverse in culture, traditions, languages and outfits. The festivals are celebrated in different ways yet the spirit is the same. The food is prepared differently and tastes different yet it smells Indian! Be it Dal Makhani, Aaloo Paratha, Sarso da saag – Makke di roti, Daal Baati, Puran poli, Thepla or curd rice…there is an Indian-ness in the aroma!

And about people! Aahhhh… trust me nothing like an Indian! You call them Gujrati, Marwadi, Bengali, Tamilian, Mallu or a Delhite - they all remain Indian at heart. ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’ is an integral part of the Indians. They are the best in hospitality. No matter how much the guest would refuse, he atleast gets a tea to drink. Warm at heart, generous in attitude and helpful by nature. He may be wearing a branded suit, a dhoti or a pyajama, she might be wearing a saree or a salwar suit or a jeans top, billion heartbeats are united by a single spirit of patriotism. Cricket is religion. When Sachin Tendulkar gets out, the television sets gets switched off. India might be at a verge of losing the match, something like 56runs for 5 wickets and need 230 runs to win, yet there is that corner of the heart hoping and praying, give us victory God.

It is a young vibrant nation. People elect the government in the democratic constitution. It is a land of great leaders. No matter how corrupt the politicians are, no matter how many times the aam aadmi is cheated, no matter how many holes the inflation has created in their pockets, they are alive with a hope. A hope of brighter tomorrow. A hope to lead the tomorrow in a better way. The middle class entrepreneur nature keeps the spirit high.

They display their unity in difficult times. Be it 26/11, Mumbai train blasts, Tsunami or the recent cloud burst at Leh, the love for fellow Indians bring them together. They have this amazing energy to fight odds and find a way out. They know they are just few miles away from becoming a super power. The world is watching them and sooner or later the world would start follow them. Or have they already started following?

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Temples, history, rulers, forts, - it’s a country to be preserved. Not just the flora and the fauna, not just the geography and season, it is the people who have made it a great nation!

"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 the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by Thee to ever-widening thought and action - Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake."
Rabindranath Tagore

PS: When I thought about writing on India, the holy land…I thought would I be able to comprehend my feelings in a post with limited words and unlimited emotions? On the eve of Independence Day… here is my tribute to the mother land. (Wanted to post it before 15th Aug, but it is a very difficult subject to express completely and yet keep it short.) I am still reading it over and over again and wondering if I have done justice in describing the mother land! :)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Autobiography of a Monday! :)

“I am Monday. Just like my any other sibling, I have my own existence. I don’t know my fault but somehow I find most of the people cursing me for my existence. They begin as early as morning when they find difficult to get up. “Why does Monday needs to come?” They say ‘Sunday is cool, Monday is fool’. They want to colour me! 'Monday Blue' I don’t mind with the colour, blue is my favourite. But the association and real meaning of Monday Blue disheartens me. I give people a sick feeling! Really?

School going kids wait for me to arrive, on the eve of their school opening or re-joining. They are thrilled that Monday would come and they would wear new uniforms, new school bags, new classroom, and new books! This excites me and I get thrilled. But once the life becomes routine, they start hating me. They start crying or cribbing as I approach. They love my siblings Saturday and Sunday more. I am jealous of Sunday. Kids wait for Sundays to arrive. They get special breakfast, special weekend meal and outing with parents. But as the Sunday night approaches, and I gear up to welcome them, they discourage me. I feel sad.

The case isn’t different with the grown-ups. They do behave like kids only. For colleges going students, my sibling Sunday is the mostly awaited one. They unwind, they relax, cherish the day. I am always considered as dreadful because they have submissions and tests. Is that my fault? Is it my fault that you don’t go on a date on a beautiful Monday evening! Have I ever said no to celebrate! If your birthday falls on a Monday, you celebrate it in advance and again chose Sunday over me. All feasts and gatherings are scheduled on Sunday making it feel more important. Even I want to be a part of your cherished memories. But GOD has chosen a different life for me.

The working professionals are set of people who believe I should not exist at all! In fact they are all the more weird in their behavior. They call my brother Friday as ‘Friday fever’. They unwind in the evening. Meet friends, party hard and break free. In their conversation they always mention that on last ‘bloody Monday’ boss did this, boss did that! I wish they could associate more good things than bad experiences with me. It’s not that I only know people who curse me. There are people who wait for me like anything. There are kids who miss their school prayer on weekends. They love wearing school uniform. Riding bicycle to school and back home gives them adrenaline rush. There are people who love their work so much that they eagerly wait for me to arrive. They are all geared up and look forward for meeting me. And then there are people who have their own vested interest. They like someone at their work place. So just to have a look or talk to that person, they want me to arrive soon.

But look at me. I lead the work life from the front. I am the one who sets the ball in the rolling from a full stop. I ensure that my other siblings, to follow me, do not have any issue. Small daily wage earners begin the week optimistically. Teachers and professors are all set to begin the week with all new enthusiasm. Traders and investors get busy charting their action for the week. Other professionals look forward for doing their best, starting Monday. This feeling encourages me to come after every Sunday, despite the fact that most of you guys hate me!

If you really agree with me till this point, you would like to try out these things. Again I am trying to help you so that you enjoy me a bit more. Plan what you want to do on Monday and subsequent days on the last Friday, beforehand. This will give you clarity for an upcoming week. Listen to songs when you are getting ready on a Monday morning. Indulge yourself into your favourite chocolate right in the morning, before breakfast. Wear your best dress. You guys are smarter than me and can think better than me. So you can brighten this day too by showing your creativity!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: I want to see you smile and enjoy me as much as you enjoy a Friday, Saturday or a Sunday! Why can’t you play on Mondays? Why can’t you indulge in shopping on some Monday? Why can’t you watch movie with your loved ones on a Monday evening? Long drive? You can celebrate me also, can’t you?"


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