Monday, January 23, 2017

A letter to Someone You Used to Be!

Dear Anurag,
I do not know if you will ever read this. Writing to you after twenty years is as stupid as it gets but will world be any interesting if it always goes by logic. You are going to be fifteen in some days; accept my heartiest congratulations for the same. This euphoria of birthdays will diminish soon and slowly all that will remain is the difficulty to accommodate candles equalling your age on the birthday cake. Preserve those paper Greeting cards; all that will remain in some days is some sort of an impersonal electronic wish. Also they may be the only memory of many friends and this time.  
Before I begin this letter, let me warn you. All your plans to marry Urmila Martodkar would go futile. If you find solace in his, she is not that gorgeous anymore. Rangeela is not the movie you should judge her with. Also get over Chunkey Pandey and Govinda, I can’t even tell you how their fate turned out to be. Your target of watching all the films of Mithunda is a bad idea to begin with, that man will soon start churning out twenty four movies yearly.
I know you are curious how I turned out to be. I am not that rich as you wish but I do can buy a lot many comics of Chacha Chowdhury, Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruva. Irony is I don’t feel like owning them anymore. Now there are other things which I want to possess but then I don’t have money for it, so our situation is almost the same. I have also not seen Niagra Falls, Sahara desert or the real Egyptian mummies so both of us have seen them only in books or movies. I am still as lazy you are, I lack a sense of style and have few friends who can be counted on fingertips. Change if any would have come unnoticed. Growing up may not be that fun as you imagine. I have turned out to be another boring human being, the lot which is available everywhere in plenty.
 The good news is I got rid of studies years ago. Now there is no homework, no school and I do not have to cram for impending tests. You will find it strange but sometimes I miss all of it. I miss that cold breeze which blew in the morning while going to school standing on the front of Dad’s Bajaj scooter (they don’t make any more of it). I also miss the tension of reaching just before the school bell, that chorus of Gud moorrrnniiig teaacherrrr and the naughty smile and giggles that were shared by the class afterwards.  I remember the excitement of opening the Tiffin box during recess, trepidation before the test papers were distributed and the happiness all around when the summer vacations were going to begin. Anyways, let me come out of that sentimental bit, I know you are uncomfortable with it.
I have changed in a manner that I almost stopped enjoying Western music. Accept it, you do not enjoy listening songs on MTV, you just watch it. And do you want to learn more; even your mom knows that bit. You are not that smart you think yourself to be and unfortunately I share that quality. I am somewhat into Ghazals and Jagjit Singh, Mehdi Hasan and Ghulam Ali are my partners in solitude. I also enjoy poetry of Ghalib, Sahir and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Now spare me that bored teenager look.
Learn music now, if you want it. As you grow older, it is not going to easy. Also, for future embarrassment’s sake, learn a bit of dancing. For all you believe in ‘I can’t dance doesn’t mean I won’t dance’ philosophy, Baraat dance in New Year parties and marriages isn’t that impressive.
Your New Year’s resolution this time is to write your autobiography. You never fail to amaze me. Which fifteen year old starts penning an autobiography? It is going to be as fruitless an exercise as all your New Year resolutions will turn out to be. Agreed dreaming is a good thing but Autobiography! Anyways the only reason I envy you is the horizon of your dreams. You can dream yourself to be so many things while my dreams are somewhat limited now. By the way, I do write occasionally.
I can tell you so much now but I do not want to spoil the fun of failing. Still there is no point in hanging from those poles; you are never going to be six feet. Those advertisements of Horlicks and anecdotal talling tricks are all hoax, ultimately your genes will get the best of you. If you can do something, learn a sport. You will not be able to gain in height but your girth may need some watching. Also stop wasting time in making those elaborate studying time tables; you are never going to follow it.
            The world has changed in some ways. Gold Spot and Campa Cola no longer exist, no one watches DD National now and India has won another Cricket world cup. And did I tell you Sachin has retired from international cricket; can you imagine cricket still exists? They have made cricket into a strange game now, called 20-20 which has only twenty overs each side. By the time I get old they will reduce it to six balls and who knows one day just toss will decide everything.   
Internet, Social media, mobiles etc have revolutionised everything but there is no point telling you. World is mostly the same; True friends are hard to find, fairer sex is still not easy to interpret and Mom and Dad can be equally annoying. The strange part is you will also turn out to be annoying to your kids. I know you always wanted to have a dog and guess what, I have one now. His name is Hummer, a Labrador and he is as cute as you wanted it to be.
Anyways stop worrying about life; it will take its own course. Make friends, laugh, cry a bit too and cherish all those who love you. Give them back now. You will not always get an opportunity to do so. In the end you will be a product of people and books that come in your life, so be careful in choosing both. Slog a little bit more, try to be a little less shy and do not take yourself too seriously. Whenever you get time running around, take a deep breath and just think about this life. Someday your twenty years may vanish and you will not even realise a bit.
I am waiting for a similar letter from the one who is twenty years ahead in life. In the meantime whenever it’s possible, do write back to me.
One you are turning out to be,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

IAS Chronicles: You know you have become a Pakka Sahib when....

1. You are obsessed with ‘Sir’. The world is divided in two kinds of people, those whom you address as Sir and others by whom you are Sir’ed. You start responding less when called by your name and more when addressed as ‘Sir’. The word ‘yes’ for seniors is replaced by Sir and you are often heard talking to them on mobile Sir.....Sir.....Sir, Sir........Sir.

2. You spend half your time worrying about seniority. There are people who are senior to you and people who aren’t, and till you figure that out you never rest easy. You find different ways to decide seniority amongst different services, jobs and you find it difficult to remember names but you can smell seniority.

3. Your name gets IAS a permanent suffix and people address you as Mr XY, IAS. You start having an identity crisis without this suffix. Officers begin to write so in their wedding cards and this suffix remains loyal even in your obituary.

4. Your attention span reduces to two minutes and anything that takes more is not worth your time. By the end of the day, you have solved thousands of problems with devoting an average of one minute to each.

5. You do a lot of work but find it difficult to explain what your job is. As an IAS officer you are supposed to do anything under the sun and your kids always wonder what keeps you busy all the time.
6. You have seen best and worst of places, you have seen best and worst of people and basically you have seen so much in a short time, you become inert/immune to all around.

7. Your formal persona takes over your normal self and you find it hard to laugh freely or cry aloud. Your officer like qualities becomes your routine behaviour and it is difficult for anyone to spot you laugh or cry.

8. You stop opening the door of your car and wait for the chauffeur to open it all the time. It is unbecoming of an officer when you open the door of the car yourself. You also become incapable of sitting anywhere other than diagonally opposite to the driver and this arrangement can never be compromised.

9. You may do weights in the gym but in office, you can never be seen even carrying a diary. A peon will always accompany carrying your stuff and it is beyond the dignity of an officer to have anything in her/his hands. You also become obsessed about sitting on Chair covered by a towel and no officer worth their place in hierarchy can dare not to have one.

10. When you are alone, you find it difficult to cross even roads. You risk being run over by motor cars because you are in the habit of traffic being stopped by security whenever you cross the road.

11. You find it difficult to make new friends and your haughty demeanour keeps strangers at bay. You are always worried with whom you socialise and your reputation is more fragile than would be bride.

12. You start claiming free passes like your birthright and whenever you go for a play or concert, you spend most of your time in searching who could manage a better pass.

13. Everybody knows all the latest gossips about all around about their personal and professional lives and you have enough real/imaginary material to write a sleazy novel on any officer’s life.

14. In any official parties, right to speak is bestowed as per seniority and pearls of wisdom flow unidirectional towards the juniors. Most of the monologues start like ‘When I was posted at such and such place.....’ and you are doomed to hear this story for the nth time. As you progress in hierarchy, you also find yourself uttering ‘When I was posted at...’

PS: Slowly but steadily, the breed of Pakka Sahibs is becoming endangered but if you spot most these qualities in any person including myself, you know you have seen one ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


He had promised that he will come back to Darjeeling and stay with us for some days. He wanted to finish some work and then take a break, away from the busy life that he had been leading. I still remember his commanding voice, the aura of his personality and despite all that he had achieved in his life, his simplicity.

When I read in the newspapers that Om Puri was no more, I felt I had lost someone who was dear to me. We had met only for a day and as it happen, some of us sat together for almost entire night and discussed life, philosophy and dreams. After arguing, fighting and a debate that went on like eternity we forgot that he was the revered Om Puri. He was just like any other friend with a heart of gold but one who had seen life yet remained unscathed. 

His simplicity was beyond description. Like a true celebrity, he conceded to the demands of children, old aunties and others who wanted to intellectually impress him. Most of them behaved as if they had known him for ages and he was humble and polite.  They just wanted to get clicked next to a Bollywood icon and I could see that this man tolerated, rather than cherished flattery.

I saw in his eyes a loneliness that comes in a man who is true and beyond malice and with whom world rarely does justice. He had a keenness to learn new things and like any other father, was passionate about his son’s grooming. He had great love for this country and was and votary of peace. Talks of hatred and disharmony disturbed him. 

When a TV anchor prodded him and got an undiplomatic response about a martyred Jawan, he was so much ridden with guilt that he went to meet the family in their village. This was a man who started to live on his own at the age of fourteen and despite all that he had achieved on his own, sought forgiveness with folded hands from the family.

For a moment I felt sad that he died a lonely death. It is said that you understand death when it takes away someone near to you, and how much I wish now to sit with him and talk about everything. It is so unnerving to think that I will never meet this man again.

While parting, he gave me a pack of cigarettes. ‘Oh I have nothing to give you and since I love these, keep these as a souvenir even if you don’t smoke’. Today I did take one out and remembered him.

Adieu dear friend, may you rest in peace!

May you get in that other world, all that you truly deserved and this world was not capable to give!