Mumbaiiiii

If you ask that given a chance which city in this country you will wish to visit at least once, the answer will be Mumbai most of the times. Mumbai or Bombay or बंबई  has been “The City” from its inception. The Portuguese king, John IV, might have never thought that the seven islands that he was giving as dowry to his son-in-law, Charles II, the king of England, was going to be one of the grandest cities in the world.

Every city in this world has its own characteristics. Mumbai is not any different. What are different are her characteristics. I’ve always wondered why Mumbai progressed so much as compared to other cities. Geography text books will tell us about her excellent position in the trade routes leading to India (rightly called the Gateway of India), her excellent natural port (Bombay in Portuguese means good little bay), the productive hinterland in Gujarat and Maharashtra and the maritime climate. But taking all these facts to be important what I believe is the most important are the people and the attitude that they have developed. They are who define the city.

Whether you are in Colaba, Borivalli, Kurla, Ambernath or Kalyan, the clockwork punctuality of the Mumbaikars to be seen and appreciated. I’ve not seen trains being announced as “12:28 की CST जाने वाली Fast local” anywhere in this country. At every station the trains are announced as per the departure time of the train. In rest of the country it is the train number which is announced. Even if there is a train at 12:34 at the very same station, missing the 12:28 makes you 6 minutes late. Elsewhere, it’s not a problem at all. Everywhere the clock goes forward by 5 minutes and somewhere by 15 minutes as well. In Mumbai, every minute counts. 12:28 means 12:28 and not 12:30. This punctuality is embedded in the life of every Mumbaikar and it percolates and shows in their other activities as well. No doubt the ‘Dabbawalas’ of Mumbai are so punctual and accurate. Even Prince Charles met them.

They have a “Never say NEVER” attitude and accept happiness and success as easily as sadness and failure. They are neither afraid of bombs nor of riots. Every morning, after a bad evening, is a new morning to them. This attitude in their DNA has brought great success to them. I remember seeing a school boy waiting for the train to his school at 7 o’clock in the morning a day after the 2006 train bombings. When the reporter asked him that wasn’t he afraid due to the blast, he replied that he had a test and if he doesn’t give that his teacher will scold him. The reporter told that his school was closed due to the blasts. He again replied that he was not told so when he came home the last evening. The train came and he boarded it. The boy is just a representative of the positive attitude of the city. You throw stones at them; they will turn them into milestones. The city hence has seen a lot of success when it comes to money. The GDP of the city is more than quite a few countries!

The city is known for its films, cricket, business and underworld. And it must be remembered that apart from cricket, all three have been a bastion of migrants. The migrants along with the locals thrived and succeeded in these professions. Amitabh Bachchan, Jamsetji Tata or Abu Salem are not known for where they came from. They are known for what they achieved in Mumbai. This elastic cohesiveness of the city has made what it is today. The city gave equal opportunities to everyone. She took everyone in her lap. It was upto the individual to convert the support into success. If we write the success stories of migrants in Mumbai, the pages will be more than the population of few cities of this country.

If one tries to define the culture of Mumbai, he will surely fail. Western and Indian ethos exist side by side. These ethoses have never been a trouble. Every region in this country has a representative in the megacity. Once in a radio interview Johnny Lever said that people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Manipur to Jamnagar live in Dharavi. He jokingly said that there is a small Andaman & Nicobar as well. Dharavi is the microcosm of Mumbai and Mumbai is the microcosm of India.

Religion or caste has never been an inherent problem of the city although it has seen a lot of attacks on the name of religion. Every time it was attacked, it came back stronger. You can visit Mahalaxmi, and then go pay your obeisance at Haji Ali and take a bus to Bandra Church. On the way back visit Siddhivinayak, go to Chaitya Bhoomi and end up at Mumbadevi. You are welcome everywhere.

The Arabian Sea best defines the city.

Vast, Homogeneous, Turmoil on the surface and Calm at the bottom.

Thousands of people still come today to either become a Bachchan or an Ambani or just to earn a living. Mumbai has accepted them all and transformed their lives.

Salute to the city of Mumbai and the Mumbaikars.

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Navy Blue Checks: My School

Navy Blue Check shirt and Navy Blue pants carry a lot of importance in my life. From KG to Xth, this was my school uniform and in XIth and XIIth my weekdays hostel uniform. Hence whenever I see this dress, I get transported to that world.

The uniform reminds me of the discipline, hard work, knowledge, courage, friendships and love we gained in our school. I strongly believe that whatever we are today started at Shirinbai Neterwala School, Maneck Nagar, Tumsar in the year 1991 and by the time we left in 2001, we were ready to face the world.

We were in a small taluka town and it was not devoid of the shortcomings of a small town. But our school didn’t allow this to be a hindrance in our path. We were not only learning the various prescribed subjects but the very concept of how to lead a successful life. We were taught hard work and discipline from the very beginning and it started in the very first act at school, checking of nails, shoes and hair at the very entrance of the assembly. Indiscipline was never tolerated and punishments were given immediately and without favouritism. We always tried to be at our best to avoid punishments but slowly it became the way of our lives. In the same manner, achievements and good behaviour was immediately appreciated and encouraged.

Religion, region, caste, creed, wealth and colour are not supposed to be practiced for discrimination. Even the preamble of our constitution says so. We learnt it very well in our school. We knew each other by names and surnames were seldom used. Caste came into contention when we filled the Xth board forms. Life has not been same since but whenever we divert from the right correct path, the teachings in the school bring us back.

Knowledge was a very important component in our studies. The aim of our school was never to make us mere literates but educated individuals. It gave us a lot of knowledge and the courage to work hard and explore the world. It was that courage which gave us success in our successive endeavours. Our school library was one of the best in this country. Not many schools can boast of such a huge collection of books. I learnt most of what I know in that library. I learnt a lot about the outside world in that library. The knowledge was helpful when I first went outside Tumsar to Serampore and then to Nagpur and Pune. I never felt myself out of place. And so was the case with all my peers and friends.

When it comes to sports, to think of it, we played so many sports which are only seen during Asian games or the Olympics. Apart from cricket and football, we played handball, volleyball, basketball, badminton, long jump, high jump, discus throw, javelin throw and shotput. We played pittoo as well as lukachhipi in the school grounds and even kho – kho and kabaddi. We learnt music, painting and productive work. We may not have appreciated all these during our school days but we don’t feel left out when we have to encounter them today. The extra – curricular activities brought the very best out of us and the culmination of the years success was the Annual Day function.

And the best were the friendships we gained in those days. We were living in a complete cosmopolitan set up. My closest friends were Maharashtrians, Bengalis, Marwaris, Kannada, Biharis, Chhatisgarhis, Gujaratis, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalis, Punjabi and Oriya. They brought the best of their cultures and we created a culture of our own. I am proud to say that even if we are not in regular contact but our hearts beat for our friends. I have never seen a single friend who doesn’t know the exact details of his near friends. In most cases our brothers and sisters are also friends among themselves. We all know each other quite well and are basically a huge family.

There is a famous saying that, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” SNS played the very same role in our lives. You will seldom find a student of SNS who has not attained success in life. Thanks SNS for everything.

PS: Please share your thoughts about our school here.

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Why The Doors Are Always Closed ?

As a part of my preparation for the Marathi examination, I read an article by Shraddha Belsare titled दार घराचे सदैव बंद  (The door of the house is always closed). She reminisces her childhood when a colony was one big family. The neighbours celebrated each other’s happiness and were by the side of a person in grief. They encouraged their neighbours and kept a strict watch on the activities going in the neighbourhood. What we call the “invasion of privacy” now was the way of life then. Nobody seemed to mind it. But all of a sudden, the world has changed so much. People are now closeted in their own houses and seldom know about the neighbours name, forget about his whereabouts. The writer ends with a question in her mind that what could have brought this drastic change.

I was fortunate to live in such a colony where the doors were always open. I used to torment my young brother and it was only because of my neighbours who took care of my brother so that my mother could do her household chores. One special mention should be done of Nisha Didi’s mother. She took care of my brother like her own son. When I was in 10th, my grandfather passed away before my board exams. My parents had to rush back home. I and my brother stayed. Aunty used to take care of us. In the meantime, my brother contracted small pox. She made him sleep beside her and took entire care without bothering that she might contract the disease. She even performed the puja at Shitla Mata’s temple which usually a mother does. It was love and nothing else. So was the case at my maternal uncle’s home. People used to come and go all the time and it was like the entire colony was my family.

But in the last decade, all has changed. Now, the life in these places is full of privacy. The doors really don’t open.

What could have been the reason?

  • The biggest reason people give is the advent of television.
  • People also claim that nuclear families created this rift. They believe that one who cannot live with his own family is not supposed to be cordial with his neighbours.
  • Devoting a larger time to career related activities is also said to be the reason.
  • People are becoming independent is also a reason.
  • People also believe that in the past decade or so, the moral fibre of the society has also deteriorated. People have stopped believing in others and this has lead to this insular society.
  • And last but not least is the influence of the Western society.

Now at one point or the other in time, we all have come across these explanations. Now are they correct or are they wrong. Actually if we consider, all are correct and have contributed to this insular society. But are these the reasons or the effects. Like my mind always asks did television stimulated insularity or insularity stimulated the popularity of television.

But how could a country of thousands of years of history deteriorated in matter of a few decades. What the Turks and Afghans couldn’t do. What the Mughals and British couldn’t do was done by us, the independent Indians. How?

It all started with a thought of individuality. Most of our peers wanted individual glory which the Indian society wanted them to share with everyone. This was not acceptable to them and they rebelled. Big business houses which survived the British “Divide and Rule” policy were bifurcated. A country where the family name carried importance was now full of individuals.

I am not saying that this was wrong. Everybody needed to be recognized in their own capacity. But what resulted was not what was warranted. These individuality seekers brought a new word into the Indian lexicon, “ME” which replaced “WE”. “I, Me, My” became words which brought in the fault lines. Our ancestors had brought “WE” because they believed in harvesting the individual brilliances for the common good of the society. I would like to quote Akira Kurosawa here, “Filmmaking is a cooperative workforce based on individual human talent”. Just like a brilliant film, a society also benefits from the cooperation.”

The first horde of individualists succeeded in creating an alternate society based on self – respect. But as time went by, not every individualist was well equipped to carry on with the flag march. But by then the society had been polarized. And these pseudo – individualists had a form of self – respect which we better call as “ego”. And satisfying ego is very difficult. Such egos always bring wrong notions which unfortunately seem quite attractive in the beginning. These false beginnings take us to an end which is not at all attractive.

We instead of understanding our shortcomings and fallacies secluded us from others. If there is nobody to accuse you, how can you be wrong? And thus slowly and steadily we have created a society of self – rights who are only accountable to themselves.

And lastly are the blind followers. As I have mentioned in my last post, Duffers Conundrum, people are losing their intellectual capacities fast and thick. Thus they follow these provocative, attractive and false policies without understanding the consequences.

Sane Guruji says,

आधी मन नम्र होत मग मस्तक झुकतः

आधी हृदय द्रवत मग डोळ्यात पाणी येत

आधी अहंकार विरघळतो मग हात जोडले जातात

(First the mind becomes humble and then the head bows down.

First the heart becomes wet and then tears flow down the eyes.

First ego is dissolved and then the hands get folded.)

Similarly, first let us open the doors of our mind and then the doors of the houses will open automatically.

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Duffers Conundrum

A recent article on Indian intellectuality in The Times of India ends with,

As we tried to reach education to the Lowest Common Multiple, we constantly lowered standards so that the weakest could catch up. As a result, the average intellectual capacity of our nation today is determined not by the brightest but by our dumbest.

This reminds me of a statement my late grandfather used to make, “A Matric pass of our times knew more than your average graduate knows now”. Earlier I was in lot of awe about their intelligence but as time passed, I dismissed the statement as the tale of an old man. I could not believe that a graduate of any time can be less intelligent than a matriculate.

But how wrong was I! As I grew up, I found that indeed my grandfather was not entirely wrong. India at the time of independence had a literacy rate of about 10% whereas it is close to 75% now. Nobody doubted the intellectuality of those people but let alone intellectuality even the employability of the current generation is under a cloud according to the peers.

The question that arises now is what caused the downslide. And that also such a heavy one!

The first and foremost is the ease of access of education. Not that it is bad but it has had a negative effect on the learning curve. As education was to be earned by earlier generations, the recipients valued it. But now a degree is just a possession! Most of the times it is gained sans knowledge. This disturbing trend has brought down the overall intellectuality and intelligence of the society even though the number of educated has gone up! As one has mentioned the syndrome correctly on Facebook, “Instead of raising the Gaussian curve up, policy is to flatten it more and more”.

I remember our principal, Gill Madam, telling us in Class 4 about the utility of Atlases. We all know that Atlas is a book of maps! But this book proved a lot more for me. I could travel to distant lands with just turning the pages. Over the years as I read about the history, politics and culture of these lands, I could understand easily as I could relate with them. Over the years my love for maps has increased and I can see the locations as the back of my hand. But I could not do the same with Organic Chemistry or Group Theory or Solid State Physics. When I encounter these subjects, I am totally flummoxed. It is the love and passion for the subject which makes you excel in it.

The academic successes of R K Laxman were not exemplary but his understanding of the society and its portrayal through the “Common Man” cartoons is the best in the world. Multi talented persons like da Vinci and Satyajit Ray were, are and will be a rarity but persons with no single distinct quality is really tragic and this tragedy is plaguing the world.

A few days ago, I met a technician from BSNL who came for installing optical fibre cable in our institute. Finding me and my colleague as willing students, he taught us the nuances of the optical fibre cable. On asking about his qualifications, he told us that he was a college dropout which has hindered his promotions. But he was proud enough to point out that he was quick enough to learn the transition from Copper to Optical fibre otherwise he would have been shunted out of the city. This preparedness and willingness to learn is what is missing in our current generation. We are sitting quietly in our cozy cocoons for others to do the needful. We would surely enjoy the benefits but will not take a single step as a “common man” cannot do much. It must be remembered that Einstein was a common man throughout his life. He just loved to ask questions and answer them! Questions allow one to learn and the lack of questions always make you unlearn what you have learnt!

Dhritarashtra was as intelligent as Vidur or Pandu but he being physical handicap lost out on the throne. By the time he returned to the throne, he was mentally blind. He had lost his sense of judgement and went on committing blunders which led to the war at Kurukshetra. This blind belief has once again plagued our society and we have lost our rationale thinking. We are neither interested nor take efforts to pursue the path of thinking. This led Feluda to tell Topshe, “ ভাভা শেখ তোপশে   (Learn Thinking Topshe). It is something which will lead you to success. Another one of my Feluda favourites is, “ সব থেকে কাজের অস্ত্র হল মগজাস্ত্র। মাঝে মাঝে শান দিতে হয়  ” (The best weapon is the brain. It must be sharpened at intervals). An unused brain is so volatile it might explode in the cranium itself causing long term damage.

So if we understand the value of education, learn to ask and answer questions, have aptitude to learn and develop rational thinking, we can actually develop intellectually. Remember, Gautam Buddha and Vivekananda did not do something different. They were just at the epitome of this four point formula. We can at least try to emulate 10% of it. That itself would be enough.

It is said that the difference between Man and Chimpanzee is just 4%. The situation is such that we have to prove it now or we would soon become Talking Chimpanzees.

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Need of Languages in Sciences

When I speak in my class (teach is still a very big word for me), I have found out that most of the students do not follow languages. I accept English being an alien language is hard to understand but Hindi and Marathi should not be a trouble. All of them may oppose saying that I am certainly wrong in saying this as they speak these languages day in and day out. But, ask them to write or frame a simple sentence in any of the languages which must appear on a piece of paper and they falter. It is not that the adults are very adept in the languages but over the period of time they have learnt few skills which they actually learnt in school, forgot in the due course of time and had to learn again in an advanced age.

Why a student of Physics should be bothered about languages? Or for that matter a cricketer, a musician or a banker. They should not be is the general opinion and is widely preached and practiced. Languages are for the Arts students and we should not be bothered about them. Period.

But we just cannot leave without languages. Before I go into the need let us see these examples.

  1. Gulzar and Javed Akhtar are revered more than any lyricist in the Post 90s era.
  2. Audiences wait for commentary by Ravi Shashtri, Harsha Bhogle, Tony Grieg and Richie Benaud.
  3. A live show anchor means Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Ayushman Khurana and Mir Afsar Ali.
  4. Arun Jaitley, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sushma Swaraj are amongst the best speakers in the Parliament.

The list is only indicative and not exhaustive. But what we see is that these persons are liked because of their linguistic powers. They are not part of the same section of the society and their job profiles are also highly divergent. Yet they are popular amongst the masses. They cultivated the linguistics in their life.

Now let us come to our case. Why students of science need to understand languages. Because most of the students understand what is being taught. But when it comes to write the answers, they fail to reproduce as they cannot express themselves. They are in want of words. And the answers which come out are grammatically wrong and most of the times misrepresented. The same problem is seen in the interviews where interviewees repeatedly fail in lack of words.

In all these years I have seen that if I can understand the word I can relate to its scientific connection but if I do not understand the word, it becomes difficult for me to understand the topic in hand and I have to resort to rote learning. And rote learning everything is not possible. So, it is in our best interest that we take interest in languages. A correct answer supplemented with correct language is a delight to read and mark upon.

All is not lost and make a habit to read story books, use the dictionary and write on your own. I have strong belief in the intelligence of the students of this age and they are bound to succeed.

Remember the loss of language is the biggest loss of all. This loss has eroded mighty civilizations like the Incas and the Aztecs. This loss prompted East Pakistan to fight and become Bangladesh.

The time should not come where one has to resort to extreme measures to regain the languages which were first taught to him when he was four years old. Best of Luck.

 

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The Year That Was !!!

No year has started and ended so happily in my life as the last year that went by!

2012 was supposed to be the year of doom, the year of apocalypse, the year when this world along with all its living beings was supposed to end. But FAITH had certain other designs for me. I would be guilty if I fail to say that this has been the best year in my very short life of 27 years.

The previous year had ended very nicely. I had been selected by the MPSC as an Assistant Professor in Physics and by the end of December I had got my appointment. I was to join Institute of Science, Nagpur. I joined on the very first working day of the year, 2nd January. I was highly apprehensive about the work conditions and the reception by my seniors. I am highly thankful to the entire staff of Institute of Science for making me feel at home. I never felt alone in this huge campus because of their support. The seniors guided and encouraged me and were there whenever I needed help (which I needed constantly).

In the month of February, I acted as the Presiding officer to one of the electoral booths during the NMC elections. I along with my family was extremely frightened but the help from all quarters made it easy in the end. In March, I was the Internal Examiner in the MSc I practical examinations. I have been always on the other side of the table and this really made me nervous. I am extremely lucky to have my Physics department colleagues as they made my job possible with their constant help. I got the opportunity to conduct IGNOU practicals and these really helped me a lot in improving as a teacher. I was apprehensive about my abilities as a laboratory in-charge but the two stints in April and July gave huge boost to my confidence.

I was a member of the admission committee for UG and PG admissions and those two months helped me a lot in understanding the rules and regulations. I understood a little bit of student and parent psychology and the interactions helped me to improve my social quotient. The special by-product of the whole exercise was enhancement in my Microsoft Office knowledge. It also made me know in the Institute and most of the staff members started recognizing me.

Later in September I was called to work with IQAC for the impending NAAC visit. I certainly had no idea about NAAC and for that matter what IQAC was. To make matters worse all the members knew a lot about the functioning and were adept to the procedures and I had very few days to learn just about everything. And as far as my preliminary knowledge goes it was that I knew MICROSOFT OFFICE! With this marginal knowledge I started working and I can proudly say that I did a pretty fine job out of it. I gained a lot of confidence in the IQAC along with knowledge of all kind that was pouring from all the correct quarters. It would not be wrong to say that those two months were the most important two months for me at the Institute.

The NAAC visit in the month of October was a test for the entire college. I was personally frightened as I had to constantly accompany the peer team members. I was the person they first saw in the morning and the last in the night. I was again very afraid and actually thought if somebody else could take my place but I believe I did the work quite decently.

The good faith continued and IQAC organized a successful workshop in December. I was a lucky member of the organizing committee. It was because of this good faith that I delivered a lecture on Intranet in front of an audience comprising of highly experienced academicians of not only IOS but other colleges as well. One of them were my teacher from my graduation college. I was apprehensive but when I started I felt at home. The seniors encouraged me with their appreciative nods and that made me blabber a little more than what I was required to. Eventually all went well and most of them liked the information I shared. The year ended perfectly as I was the judge of a Model competition at Raman Science Centre. They referred to me as Dr. Chandra at the outset. I had to correct them. Well it was not their fault. A 27 year old Mr. was not supposed to be there!

But what made my life actually happy, exciting and beautiful is my marriage with Pinki. It all started in April with posting the profile in Bharat Matrimony and culminated with the marriage on 24th November. (Road To My Marriage)

She is not only the love and soul of my life but my lucky charm as well. Most of the things that I said above started happening only after my marriage was fixed with her and as most of them rightly say its because of her lady luck that all good things started flowing my way. I do not know how much love I can give her but she has showered her care and love on me and my family from the word go. Along with her, I gained an extra set of loving and caring parents and a gregarious pagli sister. Her love for an unattractive man, both emotionally and physically, has given me a lot of confidence and will surely take us to new heights.

I certainly can say that this year is a precursor to all the good years going to come. Touchwood.

Wish You all a Happy, Prosperous and Rocking New Year.

Sayonara.

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Road To My Marriage

I’m still in a trance thinking of the fact that I’ll be married in less than 100 days. I’m super elated and super excited thinking of the fact that I’M GETTING MARRIED! My whole system is vibrating with incoherent happiness.

For so long, I’d thought that I’ll have a love marriage but that was not to be. I’d thought that I’ll get married within two years of getting my permanent job. And given the job scarcity, this could have taken a long time. But fortune favours the brave and I was no exception! 2012 – The year of doom – brought good news, permanent appointment as an Assistant Professor at Institute of Science, Nagpur and then this!

Two marriages happened during this time, one of Kaustubh in December and the other of Amoni in February. During Kaustubh’s marriage, I was more concerned about my pending appointment and hence the thought of getting married didn’t cross my mind. But the one of Amoni did induce my thoughts in this direction. I was busy whole March with examinations and hence didn’t get the needed time to do anything. In April, I asked my parents about my marriage. They said that they were game for it but there was a hiccup. We live in Nagpur and they wanted me to marry an educated, cultured Gandhabanik (my caste) girl. Now, such girls, in plenty, were to be found in West Bengal. And that would require the help of our relatives and a lot of time. I told them an easier way is the internet i.e. the online matrimonial sites. They were susceptible at first. Then I researched a bit and prepared a list of prospective brides. After short listing few girls they gave a go ahead and I uploaded my profile on the afternoon of 9th April. That very evening I received a call from a gentleman from Asansol inquiring about me. That gentleman is now going to be my Father-in-law.

After talking to me and my father, he invited us over to Asansol. We were anyways going to my uncle’s in May and hence decided to mix business with pleasure. So, on 20th May, I went to Asansol with my uncle and mother to meet my future wife. I was nervous and susceptible about the reception we would receive. They were certainly richer and more sophisticated than we could ever be. But my FIL met with such warmth, it seemed that we were long lost relatives. That struck a chord immediately. My Mother-in-law is also a gracious lady and extended optimum hospitality to us. After another round of Questions & Answers, it was sure that they liked us. But still the final frontier remained. The girl had to like me and I had to like her!

Well when she came, my heart skipped a beat. Fandi Sir had once told me that sometimes you see a girl everyday but nothing happens and while sometimes the resonance happens instantly. In his case, it resulted in his marriage. And so would in my case. I was on cloud nine and pinched myself to confirm that I was not dreaming. Later when I talked to my mother, she had the same thoughts as well. I still don’t know what Pinki thought, yes that’s her name. But her shy smile did give me a hope. Then we were asked into another room to talk! She was calm as still water and I was nervous and confused as a stormy nullah. I spoke so many things, half of which made no sense to me even. But at the end of it, it was confirmed that we liked each other. My family liked their family and my mother even went ahead and declared over the phone to my father that she had selected her Daughter-in-law. Now it was necessary for their family to like my family as well. My mother invited them over to Nagpur. Her father accepted the proposal and promised to come in July.

And then started the waiting game. I was afraid if they would change their mind. She is too pretty and rich not to choose me but I was not interested in going for another trip to Bengal to find a girl after being sure that she was compatible with me in more than many ways. At last her father came on 29th July. He stayed with us for about a day and went back satisfied with me, my job and my family. On the way home, he confirmed the marriage with only the date remaining to be fixed. He promised to come back on 17th and back he came along with his wife and brother to do the final round of talks. Here I must say that I like my FIL lot more than my wife (she might get angry but nonetheless the truth is the truth). It is more because of him than anyone else that I’m getting married on 24th November. He rolled the ball and it’s still rolling because of him. They saw what they had to see and we saw what we had to. Now, the whole family union has happened and the wait is only for the actual date to arrive and get the job done.

Our both set of parents will go to all lengths to make it a memorable occasion and we have to help them in doing that. Mark Twain said that “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” I am just eagerly waiting for the days to pass as quickly as possible so that we both can do that together.

Two perfect individuals cannot make a perfect couple. In our case as well, we both have our share of deficiencies. But it must be remembered, breakdown in symmetries only lead to beautiful stable creations.

Till the Great Indian Marriage Juggernaut of ours come to an end and she comes over here permanently, I’ve to live with the excitement that I feel almost all the time. The topics of conversation in my home have become monochromatic as have my dreams! They are all Pink(i) in colour. Till then the long calls and the long wait!

P.S.: I always chided Kingshuk about his marathon talks with his girl-friend. I was surprised what could two individuals talk for so long every day. I still don’t know the answer but my mobile bills are telling another story. But as a matter of fact, I’m liking it to the hilt.

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It’s Cheap! It’s Free! It’s Me!

The recent petrol drama brought into front one special trait of human character that everyone wants everything cheaper and it doesn’t matter by how much. Any price rise is always met with a frown and any cut, how miniscule it is, is welcomed with a smile.

Let’s see how the drama unfolded in the last fortnight. The government decided to increase the petrol prices by almost 7 and half rupees. Everyone from Patel Saheb to Sakhubai condemned it and went hammer and tongs at Pranabda, albeit in their respective drawing rooms. Then came the Bharat bandh. Even though it was widely reported that the crude prices have come down, the government decided to persist with the increased prices and allowed few states in the country to go into disarray and chaos. In the course of the day, Mr. Kapil Sibal announced that under the proposed new telecom policy roaming charges will be abolished. Suddenly the country, NDTV to Facebook and Patel Saheb to Sakhubai, started discussing the free roaming and almost forgot the bandh, price rise and even the Doon Express accident!

The petrol prices came down this Sunday. Those who had filled their tanks felt cheated and some even went to the extent of praising others who filled their tanks on Sunday. The former lamented on their loss while the latter had grin extending cheek to cheek. Everyone is happy for the 2 rupees “decrease”

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How To Crack The Exams?

Its exam time, the time which gives shivers down the spines of students, parents and teachers alike. People do not plan anything during this time. Even Bollywood does not release high budget films fearing a lack of audience. I am no expert in giving advice about how to crack an exam. But I have given exams for 19 years and have done pretty well in them. Touchwood! I would write this treatise on my experiences.

First thumb rule about any exam is to know that it is not a punishment. If you have studied for the entire session or even half of it, your frustration in the examination hall will be that less. Last minute studies are not at all advisable and they seldom bring success. If your exam is on say 4th April, you should start your studies at least on or before 16th February. That can ensure you at least 60% marks.

Most courses now have internal marks and practicals which are evaluated generally on your performance throughout the session. That generally ensures 15-20 % of your marks even before you sit in the written examinations. That gives you a cushion and you can spearhead your campaign starting with these bonus marks.

Next question is how much to aim for? Well there is no upper limit for which you can aim. But the lower limit should be kept at 60%. In this era of stiff competition marks upwards of 60% or more popularly known as first class always help. And its human habit that a human always likes to win and will do whatever he/she can to achieve it. And I believe, if you all try you will be also achieve it as well.

If we study on our own i.e. self-study, we generally come to know what we are good at and what we are not. The topics we are good at should always outnumber the topics we are not! Another thing we must remember that knowledge does not work on GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) principle. Whatever we have acquired all through our life makes the topic in hand easy to understand and remember. Every topic is connected to some topic we have studied before. The student who can establish this interconnection stands the chance of understanding more as well as scoring more.

Coming back to the exams, we should prepare the topics we understand more than the topics we do not. This advice is for the time just before the exams (say 4-5 days). During the full session, it should be other way around. While preparing the topics, just do not read and leave it. Writing is the best way to study during the examinations. Write whatever you read and learn. Waste a few refills so that you do not have to lose useful marks.

Like all wars, examination can be won only when we are prepared from our side to face whatever the enemy throws at us. Apart from the studies, it is utmost necessary to collect last 5 years question papers and solve each of them successfully. The more practice you have in solving these papers, the more marks will be reflected in your final mark sheet! It would be even nicer if you time your solving of a given paper. Try to finish the paper within the stipulated time. 10 minutes early will be even better.

Another question is that we should write only what we understand or we should mug everything and write. Understanding and writing is the best way and completely mugging the whole subject is the worst. Truly speaking, nobody can mug the whole book and reproduce it in the exams. Understanding is the key to success. Even though it is a regretting advice on the part of a teacher but mugging to a certain limit is not at all bad. An average student cannot understand the whole subject in a given session and even though he is able to understand the concept concerning the topic, he is not able to do the mathematics or the long theoretical discourse that comes along with it. In these cases, it is advisable to mug these portions so that he/she does not lose out on the mark scene. It is not a moral crime at all. But mugging everything is bound to doom not only your results but also your career.

Late night studies do help a lot of students but anxiety and frustration comes with long hours of studying. Hence it would be better if you study in short spans of 2-3 hours and sleep by 12 in the night. Rise early and then study. Many a times a headache due to late nights can hamper your results even if you have prepared well. So, take good care of your health. Watch TV to clear your head. Laugh, talk and study.

It is good to ask others if one has some difficulty but group studies should be avoided at least during the examinations. Group studies generally result in less study and more talk. It also leads to more confusions right at the time of the examinations. This is one time of the year when everyone should follow, Ekla chalo re !!

During the examinations, first try to solve the questions whose answers you know well. Waste a few initial minutes in reading the whole question paper so that you have the idea about what has been asked. Chalk a plan quickly about the order in which you will go through the question paper. Write in a neat and legible handwriting. Never write essays for short answer questions. They hardly help. Do not write gibberish. Stick to the basics and lessen your beating around the bush. Draw necessary diagrams and highlight steps and answers wherever necessary. If you are not sure of the actual answer, your answer should at least tend towards the actual answer. Try to seat for the whole time and recheck the whole paper before giving it to the invigilator. If you find yourself panicking, stop writing for some time. Drink water (always carry your own water bottle), take a deep breath and concentrate again on the paper. It always helps.

Never discuss after a paper is over. Bygone is bygone. Discussions always result in contradictory answers and create suspicions and fear in mind. Hence, after one paper is over we should stop thinking about it and start thinking about the next one. If discussions are that important to someone, they should do it after the final paper is over!

And lastly, do not cheat! And by cheating, I not only mean cheating by the individual but also helping others to cheat. Both are offenses. Examination is an individualistic effort and not a team work. And this should be kept in mind always. Better make this resolution in your mind:

I will not cheat and write only upto my full potential. My result will be the creation of my own hard work and will not be aided by anyone!

Happy Examinations!!!

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Rahul Dravid: Solid in Defence

We have heard this line so many times in the last 16 years and it feels sad that we will never get to listen it ever. If Sachin has been the symbol of greatness, Dravid has been the symbol of perfection. It has been orthodox, copybook cricket that he has played all his life. He has been so good in this business that he has been nicknamed, “The Wall”. Rahul has been always known as a Test batsman and some feel his style of stroke play to be boring and slow and hence unfit for One-Day cricket. But alongside his 13,288 runs in Tests, he has scored 10,889 runs in ODIs as well. So much for boring stroke play, huh!

Soumitra Chatterjee, Manna Dey, Andy Roddick, Rubens Barrichello, Chaminda Vaas, Edwin Buzz Aldrin, Rahul Dravid. What’s common between these names?

These are all greats who didn’t get their due share of adulations because of the presence of another peer in their respective fields. Uttam Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Muttiah Muralitharan, Neil Armstrong and Sachin Tendulkar being the ones who got the spotlight.

But let’s not talk about what more Rahul Dravid could have got. Let’s talk about what he has got and what impact it has on our lives. And that’s quite a lot.

Way back in 1996 when Rahul debuted in England with that brilliant 95, India had got a batsman of calibre who could support Sachin because at that time the team followed the adage, “Sachin gaya, Match gaya”. The best quality about Dravid was that he was very patient and had the highest level of concentration. He will stay calm in situations where the whole team became restless and frustrated. And he was ably supported by Sachin and Laxman at many a times. His mental strength and dependability earned him another nickname, “Mr. Dependable”. The last decade has seen many matches where the victory rode on others’ stroke play but the fellow who stood there till the end to see the team through was Rahul Dravid!

Michael Hussey is accredited with “Mr. Cricket”. But, Rahul is no lesser a student of the game. He has studied the game to utmost perfection and there is rarely any instance where he has not gone to the field without the complete knowledge about the opposition. For a simple bystander fan like me, who knows less about the nuances of the game, his domination of the opposition allows writing about his knowledge. I remember two instances which show his knowledge about the rules of the game. One is when Steve Waugh handled the ball. Another is when Inzamam obstructed the field. On both occasions, I remember Rahul to appeal the first and the most.

Another aspect of his nature is courage and determination. When India was not able to settle on the formula for a perfect playing XI, Saurav Ganguly came with the idea of Rahul as the wicket-keeper. Rahul was not a natural wicket-keeper and his ODI batting at that time was being severely criticized. He was not a natural stroke maker and sixes were not his forte. It seemed that it would be doomsday for his ODI career. But he converted this disadvantage into his own strength. He not only kept the wickets with fairly good accuracy but also balanced his lack of stroke play with a lot of twos and good placements all over the field. Along with the Number 3 spot in the tests, he cemented his Number 3 spot in the ODIs as well. Many term Rahul as stubborn as he never improved on his stroke play and seldom hit sixes. There were jokes that Rahul’s boundary is the 30-yard circle. But he took all this in his stride and adapted to ODI and then to T20 in his own impeccable style. On the passing it must be mentioned that Rahul had the record for the quickest ODI 50 by an Indian with a strike rate of more than 200.

His patience and physical strength is something worth envying and emulating. He played 93 consecutive tests and missed the 94th because of gas and not injury! When he used to come to the field, the opposition along with the spectators knew that it would be quite some time before he will leave! Getting out him was very difficult and that is the reason why his Test match average is 52.31 and that too after playing the highest number of balls in Tests, 31,189, and spending 735 hours, 21 minutes at the crease. If we take that on an average a middle order batsman stays for 5 hours at the crease for one innings then that’s 147 innings (51.4% of his 286 Test match innings). Even to think about these number gives makes me jittery. He deserves a separate round of accolades just for this feat.

We are always told to learn the basics correctly. A person whose basics are correct can never fail and Rahul Dravid is one of the best examples that one can have. It is this reason why he easily scored runs in IPL (Sachin and Kallis being the other two). That is how he reciprocated Douglas Marillier when the Zimbabwean had clobbered us in the previous match.

It would be really difficult to imagine an Indian Test match scorecard without Rahul’s name in it! I will just end with few tributes from his fans:

  • Rahul Dravid retires, proof that decent and well-rounded men can excel at the highest levels of sport.  — Derek Pringle.
  • Rahul Dravid retires… cricket loses one of its finest batsmen; sport, one of its finest gentlemen.   — Jeffery Archer.
  • Rahul Dravid retires.. the world’s most respected cricketer over the last 20 years. — Michael Vaughan.
  • Not often do you find a person as exceptional as his achievements.  — Sanjay Manjrekar.
  • He’s probably the nicest guy – no, he is the nicest guy – that I’ve met in cricket.  — Shane Watson.
  • Some succeed because they are destined to, but Rahul Dravid succeeded because he was DETERMINED to.  — Navjot Singh Sidhu.
  • He’s not only a great cricketer, but a great man.  — John Wright.
  • There was and is only one Rahul Dravid. There can be no other.  — Sachin Tendulkar.
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