Saturday, December 31

Beete Lamhe...

As we step into the new year, here’s a quick personal recap of the highlights in the decades gone by…

1985 – Graced the Rathi household on July 23rd; made this planet a better place.

1987 – Joined the Abhinava fraternity as an entrant in Mini kg. (Can’t remember much about this phase, but my report cards and pictures look adorable, so I was obviously a wonder child.)

1991 – Enrolled in the first standard at Abhinava Primary School in June. Started the Academic Excellence award-winning series, and went on to stand first (or next to first) in class every year until Std 7. Did not win the scholarships in std 4 and 7 though, and felt quite depressed, but did become Head Prefect in std 7 to close primary school years with a bang. Fairly morose times now and then, but overall a pleasant phase.

1998 – High school years, quite merry. Started discovering myself. Learnt a little German, and started cycling to school.

2000 – My first trip abroad ever, courtesy Abba-Ammi. Visited Africa and enjoyed the safari.

2001 – Passed 10th. Missed the merit list, and majorly hated myself. Little comfort drawn from the fact that nobody from my batch made it to the wall of fame. Planned to tread a different path, and not join the herd of engineering-and-medicine-smitten flock. Arts beckoned, and Fergi welcomed me with open arms. I was right at the top of the first list that was released for admission! Whoever heard of intelligent people pursuing Arts? Setting new trends was always my style… Got a lot of flack from friends and family, but no regrets then and none at all now… Met Deepti, Lally, and some other cool folks, fun times!!

2002-2003 – Stepped into the world of modelling!! A shocker to everyone who knew me, but my face and body was plastered full frontal on the cover page of Pune Times. Enjoyed decking up and flaunting myself and the offerings of various boutiques for newspapers and magazines, did some shows and shoots, had a gala time and then bowed out. Just wanted to check out this glamorous and notorious field, did not intend to stay for long anyway!! Did some other marketing promotions and earned decent pocket money all through junior college. Financial independence rocks!!

2003 – Passed HSC (12th) and surprise surprise, stood 11th in the merit list! Such is life… When I put in 200% effort and dearly desired to come out tops, I was deprived (SSC – 10th), and this time with barely any sweat, I had managed to become famous! Thoroughly enjoyed the attention, though!

2004 – Took up Bachelor in Arts from FC and simultaneously completed a diploma in travel and tourism management from Tradewings, Pune. Started my first job in May at a software solutions company called Optimos. Terrific experience, unforgettable days. Nitin Moody, Roopa Karayi, Sumant Jena, Samir Karandikar, Mr. Sanjay Puri, Gurpreet Singh… shall never forget them… Quit Oct 2005 to focus on final year in college.

2006 – Graduated with top honours in Psychology from Fergusson College. Joined Masters in the same subject at the University of Pune. Working had become a craze, so took up a Language Instructor post at inlingua. Good money, great learning for 2 years. Meenakshi Iyer – the person who refined my language skills and introduced me to the world of blogging. Salut! Learnt how to swim, and freelanced with Chrysalis and Speakeasy. Prepared for SNAP (MBA entrance to Symbiosis institutes) and met dashing Mr. Param at the TIME institute. Got shortlisted for SIBM and SIMC but gave it a pass. Decided to take up MA Psychology instead.

2008 – Topped the Psychology department at the MA level, and started working with Alchemy, a private consultancy that gave me a bird’s eye view of the HR and OD training domain. Experiential training enamoured me, and I knew there was no looking back… Attended the basic lab at ISABS, Goa and met Bhanu, Snigdha and a whole lot of other beautiful people.

2009 – Yellowbox Consulting beckoned. Handled the training department on my own. Did not learn much, but made a friend for life – Ameya Gupte. Tried to snatch an MBA seat outside India, but destiny had other plans. Fell flat on my face despite scoring excellent marks in GMAT (700/800) and TOEFL (118/120), both without any coaching. Gave up plans to study abroad.

2010 – Fantastic year. Paid a visit to my dream destination, Pondicherry in Feb – the same month that my darling nephew Bhoomik was born. Then, in May, IBM happened (lucky month to join, I guess, ditto Optimos). Met some wonderful people, and learned something new everyday. One of the best things that happened to me, both personally and professionally… Anuradha Umalker, Natashya Phillips, Rakshith Shetty, Pushpal Machra, Shrivatsa Murthy, and so many more…

2011 – Here we are… Bad year. Made horrible by a failed lasik eye surgery and unpredictable, exploitative people. Did enjoy a few marvellous vacations though – Binsar and Ladakh, and a Mahabaleshwar escapade. Joined Spanish classes at SIFIL.

26 years gone by… and I can say with pride that I’m a far better person than most others I’ve known or met.

What next?

Happy New year 2012 fellas… Wish you many incredible decades to come!!


Saturday, December 24

Jingle Bell Time!!

Season’s greetings!!

Those of you who’re painting the town, country and world red by vacationing around the globe… I envy you.

Those of you who’re stuck here like me, voluntarily or involuntarily… Get a life!!

LOL. Just kidding.

Christmas, to me, means holidays and Santa Claus. Of course, I enjoy looking at the decorations that people put up, and I relish the snacks and sweets that signal a festival. But, I never really dug deep into the culture and traditions.

Here’s some trivia for you and me! Hope you enjoy reading it!

I was wondering what "The Twelve Days of Christmas" meant. I kinda knew it was a song, a Christmas carol, in fact, but I did not know what it stood for. While the English carol enumerates a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas, the actual 12 days of Christmas is the period between Dec 25 and Jan 5, and this period is also known as Christmastide and Twelvetide. These twelve days and nights are celebrated in widely varying ways around the world. For example, some give gifts only on Christmas Day, some only on Twelfth Night, and some each of the twelve nights.

Did not manage to find more about these 12 days, actually didn’t research it further coz the carol caught my attention and fancy…

So, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a cumulative song - each verse is built on top of the previous verses. (You know, like the songs we sang in school – sort of a memory game where you gotta keep adding one thing to the list and continue singing… Used to be fun!)

There are twelve verses, each describing a gift given by "my true love" on one of the twelve days of Christmas. How exciting! One, having a true love, and two, getting gifts from that individual. Wow, some people have all the luck in the world ;-)

So, what precisely are these gifts you ask?

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (=that stands for Jesus)

*Note – Some websites say my true love “sent” to me. Pls do verify before singing!

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (=signifies the Old and New Testaments)

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree (=the three theological virtues faith, hope and love)

This continues right uptil the 12th verse… and it goes like this…

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Twelve drummers drumming, (=the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed)
Eleven pipers piping, (=the eleven faithful Apostles)
Ten lords a-leaping, (=the Ten Commandments)
Nine ladies dancing, (=the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit)
Eight maids a-milking, (=the eight Beatitudes)
Seven swans a-swimming, (=the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments)
Six geese a-laying, (=the six days of Creation)
Five golden rings, (=the Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament that give the history of man’s fall from grace)
Four calling birds, (=the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists)
Three French hens, (=Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues)
Two turtle doves, (=the Old and New Testaments)
And a partridge in a pear tree! (=God/Jesus)

Speaking of which, do you know the ten commandments? Goes without saying that they would be a lot different had I written them. The above gifts as well, for that matter. But lets keep that for another day, shall we? For now, here are the ORIGINAL ten :-)

1. “You shall have no other gods before Me."

2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.”

3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

6. “You shall not murder.”

7. “You shall not commit adultery.”

8. “You shall not steal.”

9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

10. “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.”

Wowow... Good, eh?!!

Merry Xmas then and have a beautiful 2012!!
May all your DECENT dreams come true in the coming year :-)
Be good, and do all the good you can... It'll never go waste.

Saturday, December 17

YOU... El Perfecto

Perfect men don’t exist… or so everyone says.

It’s true that people appear perfect when you know them a little, and then once you get closer, their flaws and vices seem enormous and unbearable. So much so that you wonder how and why you’d found that individual “tested and ok” just for you… “Tujhe zameen pe bulaya gaya hai mere liye” types…

It’s happened to me. Being charmed and then disenchanted. It happens to everybody. That’s what makes us human, the ability to feel different things for the same person at different times.

But you…

You are the most wonderful person I’ve ever known. It’s amazing to know you.

I would be lying if I said that you’ve got it all – mindblowing genius, stunning looks, great pedigree, all the success, luxuries and money in the world. But your attractiveness, simplicity, honesty, humour, sensitivity, capability and decency more than make up for what’s not excellent. When you smile, your eyes glistening with mirth like an innocent child, I forget everything that is not right. Your warmth make me lose myself.

I wonder how God made a person as pure and loving as you. It’s unfair. But, I am not complaining! After all, you’re mine…

You sometimes falter in knowing exactly when to say what to who. But you know when I need a hug. Anything I say is a command that you fulfil like a genie without a moment’s doubt or hesitation. I have to occasionally shut you up when you are about to land in a soup, but your voice is the music that rings in my ears and makes me feel divine. No surprise then that I love you. Coz you are you.

Work and pleasure – you make the best of both, and give both your best. Family and friends – you strike the ideal balance. The lengths to which you go to make them comfortable and happy is incredible. Even though it bugs me sometimes, you do not let that affect your loyalty. And that reassures me that you shall never let me down either.

You admire everyone and see the strengths in each individual. You are as positive as you are charming, and you have the most generous and beautiful mind. I see the way you love and need me, and it simultaneously melts and fuels my heart. Your eyes so deep and moist, they scream to me to take you in my arms. Once there, time comes to a standstill…

I don’t have to guard myself from being hurt; hurting me is more torture for you than me myself. Such dedication! What passion! You know what I feel, and what I want, and you effortlessly make me feel special and accepted for who I am, as I am. You infuse joy and warmth in my life, and you have made me more kind and tolerant. While your own priorities could do with some help, you’ve surely given me a few lessons (unknowingly) on how to be a better person.

At work, you are the flawless professional – friendly, helpful, sociable, approachable and focused. People you like walk away feeling loved and appreciated thanks to you. Those that get on your wrong side learn never to do that again.

At home, I am your queen, and you remind me that through your words and actions. You make me feel like a pampered child, a sensible adult, a doting mom, a satisfied lover, a dear friend, crazy celebrity and partner-in-crime. You make me feel loved and protected in a million common and unusual ways. I am lucky to have you, but you keep telling me you can’t believe your luck at having me in your life, to call your own. I believe you. Maybe that’s why we’re meant to be.

I laugh and you look at me with twinkling eyes wishing I’d never stop. You have all the time in the world for me, and I know I mean the world to you. Nothing matters to you more than my happiness and well-being. As men around fake and sweat to please their companions, you exude a natural desire and ability to delight me. And the fact that you’ve convinced me of all this in barely any span of time is abso-flipping-lutely staggering.

You accept my (rare) shortcomings, though you dislike them heartily. Do you really believe that I am too good for you? You keep saying that, and how you are afraid that I’d go away coz you’re not good enough… Oh baby… You are my angel, and I am all yours. I’d be a fool to go away. Don’t you see how much I am in love with you?!!

You bring to my life romance and care, security and importance, and many more elements of a blissful, satisfying relationship. Any need that I have – material, financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and psychological – is perceived by you and attended to, before or as soon as I realise it. You do all that it takes, without being told, voluntarily, unwearyingly, sincerely, properly… coz I mean more to you than anything else.

When I snap at you, will you hold my hand and not lash back? When I cry with fear or failure, will you hug me tight? Will you forever and ever take me to be your one and only, come rain or snow?

Do you yourself have any demands? I've seen you lose control over yourself under the influence of fury and sorrow. I know you experience frustration and helplessness at times. Yet, you do not ask for anything from anyone. You just want to give, give and give. You believe in yourself and in the goodness of others. You’re a sage in a modern disguise, a fulfilled and complete person… Only expecting from yourself coz you are a self-made man, and reprimanding none but yourself for the things that don’t go right.

You’ve got it all. And you don’t even know it…

If you do, you never boast or strut. Okay, now I’m lying ;-) You do, but you are worth it! I've accepted everything about you, just as you have about me... Your ego, your anger, your immaturity and over-reaction... Had these not been there, I'd have thought that you're an angel come down from paradise...

Simple living, high thinking, appreciable dignity and gratitude - just some terms to describe the magnificent person that you are.

They say no one’s perfect.
You are. In every way.

The ways in which you may not be, I shall teach myself to accept you.
Coz you extraordinary. You’re perfect.

Most importantly, you’re mine…
And I thank you with all my heart and soul…

A heart and soul that is just yours to be…

Honoured and fortunate,
Yours truly

Saturday, December 10

Read-a-holic Bliss

“I never asked her to. I expected her to do it on her own. I wanted her to make that decision without my prompting her. When she didn’t, I was hurt and even angry with her. It is only now that I realise how foolish I was. I never told her how much I needed her. It seemed like admitting to a weakness. My face can wear any emotion except that of a needy man.”

Thus ends a spectacular journey, Anita Nair’s “Mistress”

Can’t keep myself from sharing some more lines that held me spellbound…

“There is nothing wrong in making a mistake and admitting it. But it is unpardonable to continue making that mistake.”

“If he can live with himself, who am I to condemn what he’s doing?”

“What can I say to make you feel better? Perhaps it is best that I don’t make you feel better. If you are angry, you will hurt less.”

For those of you who’d like to savor some more “Mistress”-isms, click here.
The impressive lines that strike a chord are posted, to read and to enjoy…

Reading is such a beautiful thing. It whisks you away into a world that non-readers never know to exist. And it’s a shame when people say things like “I only read books related to my profession.” Or “I like reading newspapers and magazines”. Hey! That’s not reading. That’s only quenching your thirst for knowledge. Which can be done as you surf the web or go to the library. Education is not reading, but reading can certainly add to your wisdom.

Oh the bliss of seeing someone or being the one who is immersed in a novel, oblivious to the world!

Unfortunately, reading is not something you can "take up" or "give up". It needs careful effort and diligent drive. Otherwise, it's just something you do to put in your resume in order to make an impression...

A writer’s power over the reader’s mind is the most incredible thing ever. It needs no acquaintance, it calls for no introduction between the involved entities. Just words, and a thought that flows lucidly from the author’s pen to the connoisseur’s heart…

Patience, yes. That’s kinda required. You ought to allow the writer the time to settle into the story. Not too many writers can put in writing a compelling tale that engages a reader right at the first sentence. Not everyone can be a Jeffrey Archer or Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, or Wodehouse even. Besides, it may even be a ploy so that none but the serious reader can get to the crux of the book. A writer’s got all rights to have some expectations after the effort that goes into jotting down an experience.

Yet, I can’t forgive the “bestsellers” – The Monk who sold his Ferrari and The Secret.

I abandoned the books midway, and trust me, that’s saying a lot. Being the systematic and perseverant person that I am, I never leave anything half done. However, I just could not push myself to finish these 2 “wondrous” paperbacks. Thanks, but no thanks. You may be read by a million people a zillion times worldwide, but to me, you didn’t make an impact. Better luck next time…

However, I must express my heartfelt gratitude to Natashya Phillips, my ex-manager at IBM and a dear friend, for introducing, no, pushing me, to read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Merely a few pages down, and I am already enamoured.

I read The Fountainhead by the same author many years ago, a little hesitatingly if I might add, given its bulk and reputation of being a serious, boring book, incomprehensible to many and praised to the skies by some “critics”. (Critics, to me, are crazy people who find boring things interesting and fun ones silly.) Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I still think about it fondly.

The beauty and the curse with awesome books is that the one time you read them, you are floored, and you don’t dare to read them again for fear of it losing its charm. Hence, I have only read once, novels like Shantaram, Mistress, Fountainhead, No Onions No Garlic to name a few…

Thanks to BlogAdda, I’m now getting to read and review books for free. It’s fantastic! The initiative, I mean. The books dillydally between “wow” and “duh” – I’m afraid most authors aren’t too imaginative or original...

Well, that’s all for now… I thank you. 95 followers, hundreds of anonymous readers, and millions of visitors for stopping by and hearing me rant. It pleases me no end when I know that you know me through my blog, and appreciate what I write. Even if you criticize, I’m thankful. It’s better than to be ignored :-)

G’day, and keep reading… Coz a reader never lives a lonely moment…


Friday, December 2

And now when I know why...

I stood there in the rain. Waiting for you.

You never came.

With my every raindrop, I could sense increasing panic.
Where were you?
Were you all right?
Did you lose your way?
Would you come late as usual?

The shower brought anxiety, but no answers.

As the breeze ruffled the lace on my dress, I thought about how defiant you had seemed when I spoke about us ending this relationship. Our families would never agree to the union, I’d said, it was futile. You looked at me, willing me to take back my words. I didn’t. And you vowed to make me yours no matter what happened.

Secretly, I rejoiced. Your passion and need for me made me feel wanted and prized. Special beyond my wildest dreams.

But outwardly, I just stared into your deep brown eyes and sighed. It was going to be one hell of a struggle. “We’ll win, don’t you worry, my sunshine”, you said calmly.

Just as calmly as I’d packed my haversack this evening.

I couldn’t say we hadn’t tried. We’d both done our best. But then, I already knew it was not going to work. Our families were too deep-rooted in their “traditions” and swore by the “societal norms”. The stuff that we called phony was their way of life. I couldn’t blame them, one man’s food was another man’s poison. But I sure resented them for giving the community precedence over their own blood child.

You stood listening to my daily tussles, relating to me what you’d put up with the previous night. Your determination gave me strength, your love gave me power. I knew you’d find a way for us to be together.

And then you said there was no way but to elope.

I didn’t bat an eyelid before I said ok.

What did I have to fear? I loved you, and I knew I wanted to be with you.

I couldn’t be without you… That thought made my decision easier.

You, for your part, worked everything down to the minutest details. I was astounded to see how carefully you’d mapped everything, you’d obviously been thinking about this all those nights we feigned sleep. My love and admiration for you grew, if that were possible.

You said you’d made arrangements, and I trusted you blindly. You explained why it was essential that I withdraw all my money from the bank, and how I needed to ensure that no one ever knew that I was giving it to you to plan a better life for us.

The raindrops dripped from the branch overhead on my nose, the wind punctuating every drop with a whoosh.

Where were you, I screamed into the darkness for the thousandth time.

I was greeted with silence. Or turbulence. Whichever way you looked at it.

I stood there all night, expecting you to come up around the turnaround and mutter some lame apology and excuse, and then I would get mad at you and urge you to dash off before someone saw us.

It never happened.

The rain subsided. Night gave way to dawn. Sunrise came and then noon. My weary eyes still searched for you. Milkmen, newspaper vendors, school kids and professionals made their way to their destinations as I waited, depression and disappointment embracing me like a loving mother.

I did not weep. I felt my anger drain away. I guess they were all right when they said that you were duping me. That you never loved me, only used me as and when convenient. It wasn’t your mistake, it was mine. I couldn’t blame you for my faith in you.

I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I’d let your love seclude me, exclude me from all the people and things that were earlier mine to command and cherish.

But they’re bang on when they say that blood is thicker than water. Shame-faced, I knocked on the door and mum answered it. She looked dishevelled, but the sight of me at the door kicked her into action. She grabbed me, made me sit down and sip some water. I did not realise when the tears flowed. Neither of us said a word as she fed me and put me to bed.

I lost track of time. I just noticed the alternating light and darkness. I gazed into nothingness and cared about no one, not even myself. The “living dead” was what they would have titled me in their fancy books on psychology and fiction.

“Beta, your cupboard is a mess. Why don’t you clean it up today? It’ll give you something to do and take your mind off…” her voice trailed away. We’d never spoken about that day again, and she could not break the unspoken code.

I did not argue, I did not have the right or the energy to do that. If that is what would please her and make her feel that I was getting back to “normal”, so be it.

“And line the drawers with paper, keeps the dust away…”

I’d never quite understood that concept, and had voiced my disagreement on previous occasions. But today, I just quietly obeyed her thumb rule. She loved me. Unconditionally. Under any circumstances. That was more than sufficient for me to do her simple bidding.

It was the least I could do…

As I unfolded the paper and arranged it symmetrically on the middle shelf, a picture in the corner caught my eye.

A young, handsome boy had skid and dived headlong from a cliff the night it had poured.

You hadn’t left me that night. But you’d left me…

Never to return…

- Princess

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