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This post is not about alcohol.

Blogging after what feels like ages… So the writing is going to be mighty rusty. A charming request was made by a dear friend earlier this week who asked me to ‘return’ with a post. The ideas for the post ranged from the debacle that was Furious 7 to World Cup reactions. However, there was something incredibly tempting about “Top 5 Alcoholics You Will Encounter.” 

While I thought this was done to death, I felt I could rather comment on the “Top 5 Guardians of the Drunk”. 

And since the birthday just went by, the alcohol was not too far and the teetotallers were closer than ever. So here goes nothing. *hic*
1. *SLAP* “Feeling better now, no?” *gulps down drink* 
This kind is the most self righteous of the lot. They believe they have seen it all, done it all and even drank it all. And the only way to bring anyone “back” to their senses is to slap them out of it. Hard. Fast. Straight on the cheek. Even before you know what hit you, you’re eyeballs are all over the place and you’re losing your footing. 
Advice: THIS DOES NOT WORK. STOP INJURING THE HARMLESS, YOU ROGUE. ALSO, YOU WERE FOUND BY YOUR PARENTS IN A DUSTBIN. HMPH. 
2. The Designated Drivers
Life Lesson #473693: Be BFFs with the sober one who drives and you shall have the best time of your life without worrying about how to get home. 
These adorable ones let you be, refill your glass, hold on to you on the dance floor and even stop you from embarrassing yourself. BEST. FOLKS. EVER. And they will also slap that self righteous slapper if you ask them to. 
3. Emo train wrecks who bulldoze their way into care-taking. 
More than a person, this is a phase most teetotallers go through. They think they have you figured out. They’re also easy to spot. They’re usually the ones who are yelling “YOU ARE DRUNK I KNOW IT” at an innocent soul who is holding their second glass. Of water. 
These guys are also usually the ones that will finish all the food even before you can lay your eyes on it. Don’t even get me started on the chasers. Easily, the most annoying of the lot. To add to it, they will check on you next morning by saying “Feeling like shit? I told you not to drink so much.” 
NOTE: In case you were wondering, no – there is no way to escape this lot. 
4. High on Life types. No pun intended. 
These guys are second only to the drivers. They’re not drunk, nor have they sipped alcohol all night but they’ll let you indulge. Periodically, they will send an ice cube down your shirt, switch your glass and even empty your drink in the ice pail. But these guys have your best interests in mind even while they’re having fun at your expense. 
They will stop you from drunk texting, will walk you to the bar if you need to refill for the 15th time, and will even hold your hair back when your face is in the dumps. But you’re never going to get a “I told you so.” In fact, they’ll be buying you your first drink the next time you guys are out. 
NOTE: If you find these types, put them in your entourage this very moment. Bestest chaps! 
5. The drunkard who is suddenly sober because somebody else is terribly drunk
So, ABC can’t walk by him/herself. Can’t focus. Nor can the giggles be controlled. But throw another drunkard in the picture and suddenly, *SNAP*. ABC is up and about setting the record straight. 
The grip is suddenly back, focus is at its all time high & the wish to indulge has evaporated. 
NOTE: This species is rare and far apart. Don’t go looking. Trust me, you’ll know when one is around. 
So this was what I could put together from my experiences so far. How about you guys? Email, whatsapp, call & comment and let me know and maybe my next post could be a compilation of that? Great, I think I am going to go drink to that now. Cheers! 
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What exams can teach you…

It’s funny how you can learn life’s best lessons when you’re trying to study or in my case, even appear for an exam. Heck, I even thought about this topic while writing my last exam on Monday. Sitting at home and studying for an entire month taught me more than I bargained for. Here are a couple of things I picked up in what has been a lethargic and equally tumultuous 30 days away from work.

1. I missed MASSIVELY MISSED my workplace. So much that I made it a point to go chill with the Boss & Co. at least once a week. Analytical Literary studies can do that to people.

2. HOW IN GOD’S NAME ARE KIDS GETTING ANY STUDIES DONE WITH ALL THIS SOCIAL MEDIA AROUND THEM!? Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp… Or even Quiz Up (and FB). To resist the urge to check any of these while studying is a whole other test. Test is test. Testception. Whatever you want to call it. Hat tip to all the brave ones out there! God knows I envy that willpower.

3. Exam halls are good spots to construct your next blog post. No seriously. I thought of this during my last exam and even made notes!

4. 8 Tracks is a life saver! I wish I had such easy access to it in my previous exams. Special mention to all the kind words in the album art & description. Some of the stuffs I read were beautiful!

5. Misery ADORES company. While I did have a close pal writing the exam with me, my Twitter buddy Somewhat Sketchy was the BEST. I’m not going to discuss the risks we took in the syllabus picking but it was nice to know someone who gave EXACTLY one rat’s ass to the whole ordeal.

6. Avoiding all sorts of social lives and beings will do you tonnes of good. No really. Cancel all meetings, don’t answer your phone and avoid all acquaintances when you have to study. Especially when they prolong for a month – have to do everything in your power to not lose rhythm. Yes, there is a rhythm. Yes, despite the distractions.

7. You miss all your shows and books so much that they become incentives when certain papers go well. I watched the Suits finale after my third paper and promised to buy myself a book after the final paper 🙂 It works wonders and you tend to enjoy the reward a tad bit extra.

8. Your brain becomes slower after a certain age. Or maybe, you don’t care because it is a post graduation degree and you already have a job. Either way, studying becomes a task!

9. Speak to the universe when in doubt. Tried and tested.

10. Finally, ensure you have an army of well wishers rooting for you through the exams. You need them.

Oh man. Now the wait for the results…

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The Magnificent Mrs.Rathore

Memories are all that I have. My childhood was top-notch (if I may say so) and summers were always exciting. Yes, this is another one of those summer vacation nostalgia posts. You have been warned.

We were close to 10 kids who gathered every morning to play right up to lunch. High on energy and decibel levels, each one of us was also low on hydration. But for some reason, none of us would carry water bottles with us. Why? Well because, we always could rely on Mrs.Rathore to help us with our thirsty throats.

It was simple. Her ground floor kitchen window was overlooking our play area. And her two grandchildren were part of the inner circle. So they would happily ask their dadi for some thandu paani and the sweet lady would first grumble before she gave in. What Mrs. Rathore did was, that she would pass this really tiny bowl or steel katori with water through the grill fixed on the window sil. It was just about one sip of water that you get at a time.

We would line up outside her grill window and have one sip at a time. “Your parents don’t trust you with water bottles so why should I!?”

Usually, five sips or turns would be the count per head. And we were at least 10 of us. Every morning for two months for God knows how many years, Mrs. Rathore did this. It saved our lives and we didn’t ‘waste time’ going home and drinking water. And the best part? We all religiously stood in line and allowed each one a fair turn. No cheating. No fighting. No yelling.

But all of this was almost two decades ago. Today’s summer vacation is
different. Yesterday’s obituary announced Mrs. Rathore’s husband’s death. As much as I wanted to go pay my respects, I couldn’t owing to impending exams.

But that was not the only bad news. Mrs. Rathore has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for a while now and I just found out. She won’t remember me anymore. Nor our summers. She has no memories.

So then how do I tell her that memories are all that I have?

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My 2013 rewind

Two jobs, four trips, new friends, improved relationships, tremendous memories and plenty of lessons learnt. 2013 has been one of the better years in this first quarter of my life so far.

It helps that I had just three resolutions for 2013 : travel, put self first and take risks. These sort of engulfed almost everything I encountered. Suddenly, making decisions became the easiest things for me. 2013 kicked off with a visit from my ACJ sorority (a complete reunion including peeps from Guwahati, Delhi, Kochi and London/Nepal). It helped that in those three days of frolic, Bombay was enjoying its best winter in years.

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Next came the life-altering vacation with my oldest buddies to South India (Chennai-Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry-Madurai-Thekkady-Munnar-Alleppy- Kochi). I had no idea that in them I would find the bestest folks to travel with – from waking up and gorging to breakfast on time to cleanliness in the rooms, these guys were Utopian roomies. We bonded, we shared our fears and we even talked each other through the bone-crushing Kollukamalai drive. Heck, these guys even made the houseboat experience more awesome than what it was.

 

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March means birthday month was celebrated with some Holi festivities the group is not going to forget in the longest time. Quarter of a century was brought in with the closest buddies and family, just the way I would have liked it. Went on to intern at the worst environment for a brief period. Spent days studying at work and nights working at work. WORST. JOB. EVER. But then, I was just so desperate to get a job, I was oblivious to the fact that the place made me miserable. I didn’t land the gig, but the Masters exams meant I had no time to be sad about it.

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After a month full of literature to eat, sleep, drink and breathe, I landed an interview for an editorial position. And just like that, I was ready to resume employment. But that had to wait has the house in Hyderabad was waiting to be warmed. A week-long trip full of tasks and excitement concluded with a brilliant dance party in the gorgeous weather.

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Second-half of the year started off with a new job consisting of some of the craziest and most amusing individuals I could ask for as colleagues. Lunch and chai were highlights of the day and my 45-day stint at the office was just the platform I needed to get back into the routine. A routine I had given up on. (Unemployment can do that to you sometimes.)

July however came up with the most unique proposition. I had to make some tough decisions like switching professions and leaving the comfort of a full-fledged organisation to join a start-up. It took all of 3 days (and a quite a few conversations) before I took the plunge.

In turn, I now work for one of the best individuals I’ll ever know. The bossman appreciates and encourages challenges I never knew I could overcome.

This year, I also made my first trip to the capital! Independence Day was not the ideal time to visit, but no regrets! Loads of food, warm hospitality, insane bus rides and tatkal tickets meant that the Delhi+Mussorrie vacation rocked my boat!

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 Watching Sachin Tendulkar play his final Test match made up for the most horrid month of any year – November. To be part of one of the most historic moments of the game was most definitely one of the biggest moments in my life. And watching fans tear up and listen to Sachin’s speech in silence let loose emotions I never knew I could relate to. 

2013 was a year of firsts. Goa too happened this year. The lead up and the drama aside, I only NOW fully understood the hype that is GOA. Anjuna+Morjim+food+EDM+laughter+BFFs. This trip has raised the standard for all future holidays. I guess it also helped that we went with zero expectations. I see a mini-visit coming up in the summer of ’14.

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But no worries, 2014. You begin with a clean slate. Loads of lessons to be learnt and lots of places to visit. Let’s do this!

 

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Thank you, Sachin.

On November 16, 2013 I witnessed the biggest send-off anyone could ever receive. And man, was it exhilarating! The day started off with a silent train ride to Wankhede at 7am. Getting inside the Vijay Merchant Stand was also as peaceful as peaceful could be. Was this the calm before the storm? Or was Sachin going to bid adieu to empty stands? GAH! (Hint: It was not the latter.)

Took my seat and carefully checked out the new swanky-looking stadium. The teams were only warming-up and so was the crowd (Mumbai ka BOSS kaun??? SACHIN! SACHIN!) . The teams were in place. And then it began. I was prepared for noise and tears. But this moment was something else. Loud and so high on emotions. What followed could not have even been scripted.

Sachin for the better part of the game (or so I think) was fielding in front of our stand. And every second of it, he was expected to acknowledge the crowd. And he did. At one point, he even gestured at an aching arm, but the chants got only louder. “Ganpati Bappa Moraya! Pudhchya over Sachinla dya!!!” resonated over 20 times before MSD (who I believe played to the galleries) tossed the ball over to Sachin.

Boys aged between 5 and 65 had completely lost it by then. If Wankhede had a head, it would have burst all its veins and died. The crowd continued with their chants as the Windies’ refusal to fight back ensured that Sachin was around only for 3-4 hours on his final day at work. Saturday also saw the loudest cheer ever for a fall of wicket. However, it was only for one man who had nothing to do with it.

He walked to the centre, picked up a stump and waved to the crowd signalling the end of many-a-childhoods. The felicitations followed, the speech was given and the final team lap was devoured. My inconsolable neighbours were quite distracting as I wondered, “Bloody hell! Why is none of this affecting me???”. Well, it hadn’t sunk in because it was not over just yet.

Suddenly, just before returning to the pavilion, Sachin tore away from his 100-member ‘entourage’ and made his final walk to the center of the pitch. Teary eyes I’m sure weren’t paying attention. Sachin was finally alone and on the Wankhede pitch. He bent down, paid his final respects to the ground and walked back as he wiped away his own tears.

It was only then that it sunk in. That he was never coming back. My childhood was never coming back. The 90s weren’t coming back. I stood there in disbelief with tears in my eyes and memories to last me a lifetime.

Someone yesterday asked me about my favourite Sachin Tendulkar knock. I couldn’t answer then. I looked up at all the 100s that were listed around the stadium and wondered which was MY best one.

Earlier in 2003, I couldn’t sleep this one particular Friday night. March 1 was declared a public holiday as India were to play Pakistan and only a win could seal their spot in the Super Sixes. Saturday morning, my 14-year-old self convinced the father to buy me the World Cup jersey so I could be “prepared” for the game which was to begin a couple of hours later. The tension was evident even when the teams shook hands (still have the cut out of the team photos). And then, it was game on! (To cater to a larger audience, I’m going to refrain from giving a match summary.)

The target was then the steepest India had to chase in a WC outing. And with Akram, Akhtar, Younis to face, it was not going to be easy. The drama-packed innings saw skipper Ganguly out for a duck. It also saw Dravid and Yuvraj steer India home. But the highlight would always remain Sachin Tendulkar’s 98-run knock that saw India chase a mammoth 273

However, the point I am trying to make is that I remember every detail about that match. Heck, I even remember where each family member was sitting through the match. THIS is what Indian cricket meant to us in the good ol’days. Absolutely empty roads on match days. Except obviously the stores that sold television sets. With the match playing, no one needed anything else.

Cut to 2013, I have an app on my cellphone that keeps me updated at all times. Work is so hectic that I can glance at the scorecard maybe just twice in the day. And also yes, there is no Sachin Tendulkar now.

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Revisiting Anantapur

Today, I made the biggest mistake of the month (so far). I watched the news. The past few days have been crazy busy and I (luckily) managed to stay away from the current affairs. But today, I finally caught up. And caught up so bad that I was left sobbing. The whole midday meal deaths in Bihar struck home. Struck a sensitive nerve – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bihar-midday-meal-death-toll-rises-to-20/article4923257.ece

Not so long ago, I was on a Covering Deprivation trip to Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh during my stint at ACJ. The idea of the trip was to cover rural issues that are usually neglected in the mainstream media. This also involved interaction with the locals. I’m not sure about the others, but that week changed me. I came back more aware, more conscious and with some great stories and memories.

Of the many reports, one that was close to the heart was the midday meal scheme and how it encouraged education. It was simple. Send your kids to school and they are assured of that one, let alone balanced, meal in the day. Now, we all know how this is supposed to work. But it is something else to SEE the effect it had. Just to see the relief and the gratitude on some of the parents’ faces was heartening.

These families were all supported by a Spanish NGO that ensured they had a roof to live under and a sorted kitchen. But what you don’t realise is that all the spotless steel dabbas are empty. But they’ve all got a smile plastered on their faces BECAUSE at least the children are ensured of that one meal in school.

Children are smiling because there is a fruit with the meal today or it’s probably egg day at school that adds much more than shape to the rasam-rice monotony in their plates.

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Fast forward to today and you find out that the whole incident in Bihar could have been a deliberate attempt at poisoning the kids to then completely scrap the midday meal scheme. BASTARDS.

How sick and pathetic does one have to be to deliberately do any of this? Add pesticide to the cooking oil? HOW DARE YOU!? WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT!!!!??? Imagine the plight of the parents. The same parents who could not afford to feed their brood are now making funeral arrangements.

Anyway, I know this rant is not going to make any difference. But I just had to put all of this down. I’m also sharing some of the pictures from Anantapur. Warning: The joy on their faces is contagious. (For my Facebook friends, you can view the entire Anantapur album on my profile)

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These munchikins were my favouritest! They also found my sorry attempt at Telugu speaking HIGHLY amusing.

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The adoring mommy looks on as her kanna nibbles on the snacks which were actually meant for the visitors aka us. Obviously, we shared all of it among the children in the crowd that came to greet us.

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This cutie patotie monitor-looking sweetheart was AWESOME. She had no qualms about posing for my camera. And not only did she come to school regularly, but she also had a bag to carry her plate in. For those without the former, they walked home in the heat to just return the plates before they started the afternoon session.

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An example of the kitchen which the NGO help set up. I’m not sure if those utensils have ever been used.