Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My first bungee jump

And Maggu is back.

Again, for those who just tuned in, Maggu is me - a Maharashtrian from the rural heartland of Gujarat who happens to have stayed at a few places and likes to write about them. In his short life span, Maggu has explored the depths of India and a few places abroad. With a knack for doing the crazy and a penchant for the off beat Maggu is a guy full of energy and adventure. Now before his next dreamt adventure to Africa, he is reminded of a jump from a crane in Scotland.

It was meant to be Maggu's last weekend in the pristine heartlands of Scotland. He had enjoyed the treats that the Scots had to offer, from the Haggis and Millionaires short bread to playing the bagpiper and parading about. He had enjoyed the pristine countryside straight from a Famous Five novel to the hustle and bustle London had to offer.

As he sat there thinking of the last thing to do his eyes fell upon a leaflet advertising jumping off a crane nearby.

It took Maggu approximately 1 milli second to make up his mind and another few seconds to dress up, collect his maps and off went Maggu for a short train ride to the crane. The Bunjee Jump of the crane was going to be Maggu's icing on the cake of the momentus trip he had had to the country. It had everything, the thrill of adventure, the craze of madness and the adrenaline rush of a jump.

Soon, Maggu was at the foot of a crane sky high in the air dangling above the north sea. He could hear girls screaming as they jumped off the crane and guys howling as they jumped behind them. 'Ha', scoffed Maggu. Scared of a simple jump.

Tagged and strapped to a harness, Maggu was given a jump ID - Number 27. That was to be his sequence number for the jump. Prancing and jumping about he watched from the ground as person after person jumped screaming and howling. Maggu knew it would be a piece of cake for him - no howling for him he knew. He was simply too brave for it - or so he thought.

Then called the instructor, 'Count 25 to 30 you are up next, get moving on the lift'. Maggu gave a smile, finally his time was to come. He strutted over to the lift and got in in style. There he saw a trembling girl on verge of tears and her friend trying to console her. Soon on top of the crane, Maggu witnessed a beautiful view that only the crane could offer. The Scottish mild sun setting over pristine moors as cows grazed away to glory. The orange hues mixing beautifully with the grey clouds that forever threatened the skies in Scotland.

Maggu ambled around the crane as if it were his second home. Forever tied to a guard railing he could do little in terms of movement but he was at peace unlike the crying girls and the scared guys about.

'Number 27, you are next', said the instructor.
'I', said Maggu as he walked over to the end of the crane.
'Don't jump till I don't ask you to jump. And no stunts', said the instructor to Maggu.
'Sure Sure', smiled back Maggu.
The instructor sensing the sense of confidence in Maggu went ahead, 'You can look down over the edge though'.
As soon as Maggu heard that, 'He confidently went to the edge of the crane and had a look at the ocean below'.
Then reality struck Maggu. In a weak voice he whispered almost to himself, 'That's indeed a long drop down there ain't it'.
'That it is. Come on, you are ready to jump now. When I say 3, just jump'. Saying so, the instructor stepped back and Maggu was left standing at the edge of the crane.
'Ok, 1'
'3 - Go go go!!!'
That was the first instance in his life that Maggu felt scared for his life as he ran into thin air and fell the ground slipping from under his feet. He howled like crazy as he began his decent down. His heart was pounding and his and he stopped breathing - the only thing he remembered was the scream, the howl that he let out.

Soon it was over, Maggu lay hanging on a thin rope over the North Sea.It was the most exhilarating experience anyone can ever experience. Hanging there after a Bungee Jump looking at the Scottish moors with not a care or thought in the world.

He hung around for a few minutes after which he was pulled up - but with ofcourse the memory of the first Bungee jump forever intact in his impressionable mind.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The evolution

I always thought of myself as being an intelligent kid - a happy go lucky attitude with not a care in the world. A sense of objectivity that can decide cleanly and clearly decide in any situation without having shades of gray. A mind conditioned to think that more than two years in any single activity was a too long and a view of the world where it could achieve the impossible.

Funny thing, that was the smart me last year - and in terms of my incremental expected development given the passage of time, I can clearly say that it has been next to zero. So is it that my development has stopped, done and dusted and age has set in at 28 itself. I did ponder on it once, but then came my blogs to the rescue.

Over the years I have seen a definite and directed growth of my subjective piece. It was accelerated in the last one year, but there has been a definitive and directed growth in that department to a point that my objectivity is the foundation of my decision and the subjectivity the variable on the foundation.

I had always had a very good sense of emotions and subjectivity, but my mind choose to ignore it as it had not been best to deal with them. However, now it has begun producing beautiful confluences based on the objectivity and subjectivity of any situation at hand. It is now able to produce a subjective result based on objective parameters and even vice versa.

To put it more precisely, now the smile that an auto rickshaw driver gives can be calculated to the exact extent of the tip given. Or the gruff voice of the ST Conductor can be directly calculated to the soft funny side he has underneath. And all that can be done just by looking at him. Strange thing is that earlier my brain rarely made the effort to find the coorelation but now its secondary nature. Its more like, the quantification of emotion has become very integral and fundamental to my nature.

Maybe this is what is called growing up - the confluence of two opposites into thyself. They are brought by situations, circumstances, people and at times just dumb luck, but whatever it is, you know the difference between the kid and the man.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

C'est la vie

How much can things change in a short span of time? A lot. And if you are me, then definitely more than a lot.

I am a guy who likes a quiet relaxed active life. A guy from a small city in India where nothing really changes. Here things are made to last. Here people live by the earth they till and continue their way of life for generations. There has always been a Dr Shah across the road and a Patel milkman who has come to deliver milk for ages. That's not all, even the cow and her calf pass by the same road at the same time everyday. These businesses and traits are passed down from father to son and the cycle repeats itself for decades to come. People find joy in small things in life and are content. Reminds me of the Shire from the movie LoTR. Things are truly meant to last - the India that the city dwellers may never know.

I came to live a nomadic life which took me to far off places and distant lands far beyond the confines of my shire. You learn and meet a lot of people and see a lot of places when you travel. Whether it was the high cold mountains of the Himalayas or the arid deserts of Rajasthan. The massive structures of Dubai or even the iconic structures of Washington. It has indeed been a wild ride bordering on fantasy. The best part, you make friends across the world and know how the warmth of the shire feels like. A combination few can ever experience.

Now as my being takes root in a larger city I am pulled back to my shire for reasons unknown. The shire has warmth that large cities can never attain. It's the intangibles that matter more than the tangibles after you have been through and seen what I have.

The world has always conspired to give me what I wanted. Lets see if it can conspire to play that trick once more.

C'est la vie

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My android cell phone pressurizes me

A few months ago, I was at peace with my cell phone.

I did not bother about it much and it did it's duty beautifully. A single recharge every few days and it would sing  beautifully for days. Dump it anywhere and it wouldn't mind. Forget it somewhere and people would gladly return it. And the best part, take it into the shower without a care in the world.

But things changed dramatically a few months ago when I moved from simbian to android. It was as  tectonic a shift as moving from Pune to Chandigarh.

The simbian was my courtier and I his king but the android is a queen and I of course remain the king. This change in relationship between me and my cell phone has been irritating at the worst and baffling at the best.

The android is not just a queen but a demanding one. It needs constant care and attention. Leave it unguarded and you are sure she will be stolen. Drop it and she will make sure you resent it for life. That's not all, she keeps you on your toes, keeps warning you that she is getting drained and you need to keep charging her. And finally she takes up a lot of pocket space too. Sigh. Truly a haughty queen.

Of course she offers rewards that my simbian never did or could but her pressurising nature sure makes her a bother.

So as I sit here waiting for my flight to depart the paradox does not escape me. It's the choices Harry that you make that define who you are.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Arvind Kejriwal & Manohar Parrikar : IITs most important contribution to India

The first IIT was set up in 1950 with the aim of bringing India's brightest minds together and helping in the development of the nation. This is what the official version has to say on the creation of IITs:

"In 1946, a committee was established to explore setting up technical institutes of higher education for post-war industrial development of India and based on recommendation of the Sarkar Committee, the first Indian Institute of Technology was born in May 1950 in Kharagpur, West Bengal at the site of Hijli Detention camp"

What happened for the next 50 years is a known story. IITian after IITian went to the silicon valley and contributed to the US economy.

This all changed in 2000 when Manohar Parrikar became the first CM of Goa. The first IITian to hold the post of CM. It did not make much news because Goa is a small quiet state and Parrikar is a quiet guy, but he began what Kejriwal now brought us to our TV screens.

Now as Kejriwal takes center stage in Delhi there is a lot of talk on him and the role of IITs. After 50 years, the reason why the IITs were set up in the first place is possibly being fulfilled albeit in a unexpected way.

I do not think its founders had envisaged that IIT alumnus would play a role in politics in India. Just goes to show that a good idea my reap dividends in the most unexpected ways even after half a century of existence.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Breakfast with me lil sis

"Is this going to be a final goodbye? We won't be meeting again will we", asked her searching eyes.
"Heck yes we will - I'll take you two out for breakfast tomorrow. I'll take you to the Marriott just to make it special", said I.
And their faces beamed.

Off we strolled on the following day to the Marriott across the road - me and the twins. Their factual self and expressive faces beamed and danced to the high ceilings and the various dishes that Spice Kitchen had to offer.

And then began their inspection. After an inspection of the dishes on offer lasting a full ten minutes and discussion that lasted even longer they pulled out 4 strands of Chinese noodles and placed on their platter. That was to be their breakfast.

That is when the magic began, the 4 noodle strand were to last us an hour of discussion. With big eyes and innocent questions they asked. They had their views, they picked up the facts and processed it in their own way. The serenity of it all.

Finally after a few hours and lot of talk and laugh we decided to depart. At 1900 Rs for 8 strands of noodles, was the visit worth it - definitely! Their joy and the talk was. This is what memories are made of!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The wisdom of the wise on a volvo bus ride

"Excuse me, that's my seat", said the old man peering over his glasses to me in flawless English.
I looked up [Neeta Volvo had screwed up seats numbers again it seemed], "I think its mine"
The grandfather smiled and said, "Ah Ok, I'll just sit here then"

With hair as white as snow, twinkling eyes, a smiling face and a loose fitting khakhi shirt and trousers, he seemed to be one of those happy grandfathers who were always fun to talk with.

"Pretty hot ain't it today", I said trying to strike a conversation before the long journey ahead.
"Yes - so what are you going to Mumbai for? To meet your girlfriend, hmm?", saying so he give me a jovial nudge.
"Nah. To meet a few friends - and I have a proposition lined up there", saying so I smiled and tried to act important.
"Friends in Mumbai; nothing in Pune on a weekend - a proposition. You are a busy man for your age", saying so he gave a mocking grin.
"Well.. its not that ....", began I embarrassed.
"So Mr Important, tell me, why do businesses fail?", thankfully he cut me short.
"There can be many reasons, but I guess product design, market segment..."
"No! There is one - it is always one", again he cut me midway his eyes twinkling.
"Think...I'll take a quick nap", he said prodding me on.

I thought for some time but was unable to think of one sole reason from the multitudes that existed. I was still thinking by the time he woke up, shaking my head I indicated to him that I couldn't come up with an answer.

"Come on important young man, I had expected you to crack this in this much time"
I gave an embarrassed smile as he continued.
"It's a persons' nature. Always, in life, not just in business, its a persons tendencies - his nature"
"What do you mean?", now I was really curious.
"I seem to have hit a right note here I see", he chuckled.
"I am keen to hear more", said I eager to hear what insights the old timer had to offer.
"Well, people have tendencies. In business, some people will always be associated with success or failure. In life some people will always be associated with sorrow or joy"
"So you are talking of fate", I sighed. Even a four year old could have told me that.
"Alas young man! No! People are unable to identify their tendencies and call it fate. A businessman keeps failing because he always does the same thing wrong again and again. Why do you think people who have one divorce end up having multiple ones?", saying so he took a long sip of his orange juice as I processed the thought.

"You see, people form views and opinions about everything, including themselves. Maybe those views and opinions are wrong for their time. Others try to correct their path, but it is almost impossible.", said he, his grey eyes almost radiant now.
I meanwhile was processing the information he was uttering. Whatever he said found a connect on various fronts for me.

Sitting almost like a 4 year old with eyes as wide as lemons I asked the million dollar question, "So these people can't be corrected and should be avoided?"
He chuckled, "You'd have to avoid half the world! You just have to be prepared."
"As in?", asked I.
"A person will understand & accept his/her follies very rarely because he doesn't feel anything wrong with himself or his policies in the first place. Unless he believes that he needs to change, change will not happen. All you have to do is be aware of the persons tendencies", saying so he gave a pause and peered out of the window at the Western ghats. The drizzle of the monsoon had begun.

"The ghats are beautiful in the rain", said he looking out at a distance.
"Yes. Even I love them. I make it a point to drive on my bike in the rain", said I dreamily.
"Ah that's great. So to conclude, if you know that a person is associated with pain, you find out what tendencies he carries. It is up to you to take a call if you want to try to change that person or simply live with it."
"It is toughest to deal with ones that carry pain or failure. You just have to wait for them to figure it out by themselves about their mistakes! And be ready to face failure and suffer if you are associated with them. The beauty is, when such people find out their follies you gain a beautiful partner"
"But how do you find out and be prepared?" asked I.
"Ah. Not now, I have to get down before Lonavala, this is my card, google me. I think you owe me a drink"
Saying so he gave a grin, and went to the door and asked the bus to stop by the approaching hotel.

I looked down at the card and smiled. It indeed promised to be an adventurous ride.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The last Toblerone

Pune as I remember it
It's almost poetic as Maggu begins to pack for his sojourn up north. The last Toblerone from his previous voyage to Scottish lands has just melted in his mouth and the next journey is about to commence - this time Maggu does not know when it will end. To add to the moment, Maggu stands staring at the expanse of Pune from his aunts balcony - the one view where it all started more than a decade ago.

Back then Pune was visible in its entirety; there was no ICC blocking the view much like the people he knew. Time has flown and Maggu has grown - sigh nostalgia. The view is obscured now and Maggu does not know whats behind the veil. Been a long story for a simple small town guy who has had to travel a lot and see a lot.

Maggu looks on at the city with thoughts that are like the crystal clear clouded sky. He can hear the blaring horns at a distance and hooting of the traffic and bubbling laughter from the kids playing below. It has begun : Maggu knows the feeling - this time its different - he looks on and knows it is going to rock on.

All this, just in the memory of the 'Last Toblerone'.

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