Nothing - Something - Everything

Friday, June 30, 2006

‘Women Soldiers’ – An Oxymoron in India?

“Would you have let me join the armed forces had I not had this slightly bad eyesight problem?”

I asked my father this question just after I watched “We the People’ on NDTV. The topic for discussion being ‘Is India’s military biased against women?’

The answer I got was a straight and blunt “Yes”
But if I know my father well, there was an underlying and very prominent tacit message – ‘I wouldn’t have let you give a 2nd thought to your decision.’
That is to say, “Do your homework first, as in self-introspection. If you promise to handle everything that is demanded from a woman soldier, go ahead. But don’t dare to insult the profession even in your dreams by regretting at any stage for having taken it up. Then you would be insulting your self, me, and your country.”

I had done my homework long back and that is why am not in the armed forces. Even though I have the mental stamina, I badly lack the physical strength required for being a part of the defense forces.

The debate has been ignited due to Army Vice Chief Lt. Gen. S. Pattabhiraman’s sexist remark – ‘Comfort level with women officers is low and the army can do without them’; followed by a suicide incident involving a woman officer.

The response included newspapers giving front page coverage to the issue, accompanying them with names in bold like – Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Joan of Arc, Razia Sultana, Rani Jhansi regiment of the INA, etc. all to prove that women have the metal in them to be a part of the military even in a combat role.

Following this was the emphasis on defining ‘COMBAT’ per se – you might be employed in any function in the military, there might not be access to basic facilities, you might have to share tents/blankets etc. with your counterparts (which include males), you might be captured by the enemy and in case of women, even sexually harassed, etc.

Thinking twice about such situations is what I meant by ‘Do your Homework’. The left side of my brain tells me that yes there are hurdles which in extreme cases might make a woman soldier look back at her decision. But then the right side adds, that is precisely why you need to promise yourself that you can face them. Only then you should go ahead and join the military. Don’t break the commitment.

The news channels have been flashing with debates, saying ‘The problem is with men and their mindset; which makes it difficult for them to accept a woman officer among their ranks.’

Another one said, ‘Women have grown, men need to grow up.’


But would add to that by saying, In the military,

‘If she can survive it all, Let her.
If she can’t and backtracks, Punish her’

Do your Homework girls, before falling for high-blown statements like ‘Breaking the glass ceiling’ and please don’t insult any profession.

Decide what you are made for!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


“U gavaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars doing whats???...........Have u booked d tickets of d trains or nots???...............Is it confirmed or in d waiting of d lists???........ YipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyS for d successfully planings of this trips………. Goings back to d best days of our lives”

NO…………..this is not Javed Jafferey’s blog (Salaam Namaste fame)

Read On………..

This lingo, which I christen as “GavaaaaaaaaarS”, was cooked up by a group of college pass outs, who in their desperate state of nostalgia decided to pay another visit to their Alma Mater. Yes, they are perfectly human coz this is what happens to people when they suffer from “Nostalgic Goosebumparia”

NOW………VENUE - Allahabad………TIME – June 3, 2006.

For the uninitiated, Allahabad at this time of year is an HHH – Hot, Humid Hellhole!!!
But “Come what may, the insane are gonna go their way”
Including me! [At least the ‘Read On…’ brought you till here………now be nice n Read On ……..]


It took a month of planning to get things in place –

~ Working overtime before applying for leave so as not to give HARI SADU a chance to say “LEEEEeeeeeeeeeeave?!?!?!?” (Extra emphasis on “E”)

~ Soldiering questions from d over-concerned parents “Tum logon ko is se zyada garam jagah nahi mili thi jaane ko? Why d hell Allahabad?” (Our reply – “COLLEGE” with the world’s most gleefully joyous smile for added effect)

~ Digging out all those ‘LOST’ college photographs and associated memorabilia. Purpose - GOSSIP! After all, who’s going to sleep for these 2 days?

June 2, 2006 –

21:00 p.m.

Ah! Finally the day is here when we shall AGAIN board the same train – the umbilical cord b/w us and home for 4 years. We did; spent the whole night journey playing the ‘Most ridiculous SMS ever received’ game and consequently laughing as if we were the members of a laughter club; pissed off the other passengers in the process (without any regrets though :D) and in the morning patted ourselves yet again for successfully predicting the delay in arrival.

June 3, 2006 –

08:00 a.m.

What does a 5 yr old kid do when you give him not one but two lollypops?
Jump with joy!
That’s precisely what we did in spite of the fact that we were 17 years elder to that kid.
Reason – We were just 10 kilometer away from our Alma Mater.

Now as far as staying in Allahabad was concerned, we had another eccentrically genius idea – College Guesthouse!
We wanted to use each and every millisecond of our stay in college to the utmost. That’s why. Now, this place doesn’t have any kitchen; YES – No Kitchen in a GUEST-HOUSE!!! But the fact that we were INSIDE the college and getting an air-conditioned room with attached bathroom, the total size of which exceeds that of a 1 bedroom flat in Mumbai, at (Can you guess????? ) 150 bucks/day was good enough reason to go ahead with the idea.

The moment we reached the guest-house we were greeted by none other than ELECTRICITY CUT!!!
Ah! We should have predicted this also; another chance to pat ourselves on the back. What else could have freshened up our memories better if not – No Electricity. BUT, we were no longer students in the hostel; we were guests in a guest-house. Hence, no fear when the generator is here. We justifiably realized that we should have stayed in this guest-house all four years; after all what’s 150 bucks per day if you get an AC room with continuous electricity.
But, Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

How would we have justified not being able to study because of terrible summers and lack of electricity and protest for a postponement of the exams.
Or, how could we have played antakshari all night in the dark, unable to sleep because of the heat and then doze of sitting in the first bench in the first lecture the next day.
These and many more reasons made luxury too trivial as compared to Hostel’s Heavenly Bliss!

Well, there were 2 of us going from Delhi, 2 coming from Kolkata, 1 from Lucknow and 1 Allahabadi localite. The cavalcade from the capital reached 1st, was greeted by d ‘Lucknow Lad’ at the station –Lucknowi Tehzeeb. Then they spent 2 hours listening to –

~ “The AIRTEL number you are trying to call is currently switched off. Please try again later”.

~ Followed by “Je AIRTEL nomborey apni phone korechen, shetti ae mahodaye baund karachey. Ungraho kore paure apat cheshta karun”,the Bengali translation.
(Pardon the errors in my Bengali writing skills. This happens when you master a language beyond limits :D)

~ Followed by “Jis AIRTEL number pe aap sampark karne ki koshish kar rahe hain wo abhi switched off hai. Kripaya thodi der baad fir try karein”; the Hinglish version.

No, we are not so hopelessly insane to have done this deliberately for 2 hours; we were just trying to contact the 2 ‘Kids from Kolkata’ because there were very high chances of them having eloped. But the misers that they are, they had taken up a corporate cell phone connection which doesn’t have roaming enabled and hence this nonsense.
Finally the Kol Kids arrived and were greeted by huge cheers and hugs and “Pheww!!! Thank God you two didn’t elope. We were half expecting that. Ha Ha Ha.”

And then came the ‘Lovely Localite’. An extremely sweet girl, who was greeted by getting her cheeks pulled (by me who else!). I had missed doing that for a year now, how could I help it.

Well there was another person popularly referred to as ‘Mr. Romeo’. But he did not come. Anybody with even a moderate IQ would have guessed from his name itself as to what was the reason for absence. He He!!!
Just kidding; the guy had (please get ready for the shock of your life) too much of work load and plus he had to come all the way from Pune – 30hours journey
But the Romeo that he was, how could he have forgotten a girl’s birthday: D
So, he compensated his absence by a nice LOOOOOONG phone call.
You asking, who’s birthday????

Well, Read On…………….. : P

13:00 p.m.

Lunch Time.

And people like me don’t know that they are hungry until and unless they look at the clock. Unfortunately those with me were also like me. So, at the stroke of 1 in the afternoon the whole conversation banged in on FOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!

Thanks to the lovely localite’s car (Yeah! She came to college in a car), we rushed to our favorite hangout in the so-called main market of HHH. Incidentally, 3rd June happened to be the birth date of one of the Kol Kids. So, this was CELEBRATION TIME!
After having gorged on a huge cake and tones of Chinese junk, I indulged in my ON-OFF love for photography and Handycam videos. Here that meant snaps and recordings of “Happy B’Day to You!”
Well, there was no “Many boyfriends to you…la la la” because the Kol Kid’s boyfriend was the 2nd Kol Kid. Yeah that’s why the thought of the two eloping, you tube light!

We didn’t even feel like leaving the Oh so comfortable air-conditioned restaurant and getting out in the sun because in Allahabad the most insane person also faces stiff competition.
From whom???
From the SUN, who else. You won’t ever see the sun going insane beyond limits except when you are in HHH.

But the thought that only 30 odd hours were left when this ‘AISH’ (as our parents called it) would end, prodded us and we went for a MOVIE.

WARNING: Though this theatre sells a balcony ticket for 50 bucks, please rest assured that it’s ROI=Return on Investment is NIL!
This should have been the sign at the entrance of the theatre but 4 years in HHH had taught us that it will take another 4x4=16 years for the ROI to be 100%. Maybe even more.

The Movie – FANAA - Destroyed in love.
The Theatre – Chanakya

Well nothing was destroyed except our brains, courtesy the faster than tortoise and slower than the tortoise’s brother ceiling fans (Yup, no AC! – Allahabad hai bhai, pankhe se zyada kya expect karte ho?)
Well one year of an AC-PC job had spoiled us all enough to crib our heart out about the theatre’s horrible state and how the ROI would take 4x4x4=64 years to become 100%. One step outside the theatre and we all felt as if we had been instantaneously transported to Antarctica; our thermally tortured faces had forced the nature to take pity on us and the weather had turned genuinely pleasant.
In spite of all the cribbing, one thing which we all enjoyed to our hearts delight was – Whistling (guys)!
Yeah all of us stayed in metros and nobody whistles during a song & dance sequence in a PVR!

19:00 p.m.

The guests were back in the guest-house.
The next POA=Plan of Action was to play LUDO in the canteen. But Alas! the nature had taken more than required pity on us; the rains didn’t stop. As if this weren’t enough there was another surprise in store. Actually a surprise guest – CHULLAD. Now, even I don’t understand as to how that could be a person’s name/nickname but more important than that was the fact that anybody who listened to him for 5 minutes at a stretch would forget what speech is – Indecipherability Personified! Well for us the 5 minutes turned into, I shudder to say, 5 hours. Mummyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!

21:00 p.m.

As I had said earlier, 21:00 p.m. = FOOOOOOOOD!

But please remind yourself, this guest-house doesn’t serve any food to its guests. So, the next best bet was Restaurant – Home Delivery that is; we are all LAZY, don’t forget. At this time restaurants in HHH usually stop taking home delivery orders but we as usual had a way out. Our CALL CENTRE!

I agree we are in IT industry but Puhleeeeeeeeeez, gimme a break; we don’t outsource placing food orders. Call Centre refers to the girl from Delhi who was inseparable from her cell phone and had been a ‘More than regular’ customer for Tandoor restaurant’s home delivery service during her 4 year hostel life in HHH. To an extent that even after a gap of 1 year the restaurant manager recognized her voice when she called “Oh!Aap Nehaji bol rahi hai na? MNR waali? Kahan thi itne din?....................Ohh waise to hum is time order nahi lete par aap special customer hain. Boliye kya kya bhijwaoon.”

Thanks to her, FOOD arrived an hour later and even though we had no utensils; not even spoons; we ATTACKED it.

00:00 a.m.

Time for Chullad to sleep; unfortunately he had decided that it was too late to go back to his relative’s place and had decided to ‘Spend some time with us’. But the little devils that we were, we didn’t even once oppose to his feeling sleepy. :D

Time to PLAY!

Play what? Ludo?


And not your everyday Dumb-C, this one was ‘One of a kind’ Dumb-C. What if the cues given to the person to enact are the world’s most DISGUSTING (with a capita ‘D’), self-cooked-up, totally insane mixtures of words? Yeah! That’s precisely what we played and laughed at our own capacities to outwit any Mental Asylum inhabitant. We weren’t exactly sleepy but we were so damn tired laughing that the only thing we could do was sleep.

Lights OFF!

June 4, 2006 –

06:30 a.m.

Even though I had slept for barely 3-4 hours, I just couldn’t sleep anymore. So, I got up and kept roaming here and there like a zombie.

07:30 a.m.

“WAKE up you morons! You haven’t come here to sleep have you?”
All the sleepy-heads sprang up from the bed the way I used to when, on the day of an exam the alarm would ditch me and I would find myself waking up half an hour before the exam; with 4 more chapters left to study.

But, Wow! I hadn’t imagined such a prompt response to my wake-up call. After all, I had 4 years work-ex in the field of shouting and waking people up, not just the intended ones but everyone else also in the process.

Breakfast time.
But there was nothing edible that we could call a breakfast. But what the heck, we had LAYs chips and mangoes. Weird combination I know but as we soon found out ‘Hmmm. Not Baaaad. Not bad at all.’
Sitting crossed legged in a circle, eating mangoes – it seemed as if we were all 10 year old kids in our grandma’s house sitting in the veranda with a bucket full of mangoes in the centre. The ‘Lad from Lucknow’ again demonstrated his ‘Tehzeeb’ by peeling off the mangoes so perfectly, it would make any girl feel ashamed (that includes me :P).

The best breakfast I ever had in my life!

10:00 a.m.

Well breakfast was over looooong time back. Since then all we did was decide who will go and have a bath FIRST.
Lazy to the core didn’t I tell you.
As had been expected I was the one to do the honors. The guys were sent to their room to get ready. The ‘Lad from Lucknow’ ACTUALLY got ready in time; my goodness what an oxymoron – Obedient Boy!
The other one; hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Well this Kol kid is one of a kind. We call him Mr. Omniscient because he’s nothing less than a walking talking encyclopedia. But does that mean that when told to get ready quickly, you start watching TV and when an explanation for being late is demanded you say “Oh! I was just enlightening myself with some more ‘trivia’. You know TV is such an important knowledge source.”

And all I could say is “Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”!

12:00 Noon

The ‘Lovely localite’ was there by the time we got ready. So we packed ourselves in her car as if it were a train’s goods carriage and went to the college canteen to meet ‘PANDITji’. That’s what we call a cook in U.P. giving him due respect for taking care of our clock based appetites. I had half expected that he would ‘TREAT’ us all but alas we again had to pay for the 10 rupee Pepsi and the 5 rupee bread pakora. Guess “hum abhi bhi unke liye bachhe hi the”!
Oh! Sorry sorry. How could I forget? We had the famous ‘Canteen ki Maggi’ also with extra onions sprinkled on top.

This was followed by a tour of the college building.
GOSHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I couldn’t believe my eyes. They had installed a plasma screen TV in the main lobby.
Maaaaaaaaaaan! This place had improved drastically after The President’s visit.
Then we came across the tutorial rooms. I even shudder to count the number of tutorials we had done in those 4 years.
Did you just say “DONE????............ Don’t lie. Say TOPOed”???

Excuse Moi!

As far as I am concerned, I actually DID them. And as far as the others are concerned, well I dare not open my mouth now

Since summer holidays were going on we couldn’t meet any of the teachers. All we did was roam around and reminisce about them when we passed by their rooms.

13:30 p.m.

The ‘Kol Kids’ had their return train at 16:30 p.m. and the ‘cavalcade from the capital’ was supposed to leave at 21:30 p.m. along with the ‘Lad from Lucknow’; so we headed to the main market which was at just a 5 minutes distance from the railway station.
Next Stop = F.R.I.E.N.D.S Café

This was the ‘First Ever’ café to open up in HHH and the whole college junta flocked there like wild pigeons flock together when you throw some seeds for them. Well, a place like HHH does make you realize the worth of Pizza Hut (yummmmmmm) and CCD (yummmmmmm again).

Well the Lovely localite’s birthday was just 3 days later. So, we decided to celebrate it in advance and hence, two of us went to get her a surprise gift. And the lovely girl that she was she decided to give us all a TREAT!

Let the (cold) COFFEE flowwwwwwwwww!

Yeah I know you guys would rather have the word ‘beer’ replace ‘coffee’ but as someone once told me “The presence of girls automatically instills the much needed propriety among guys”


As if we hadn’t proved our insanity yet we indulged in YET ANOTHER round of DUMB-C!
The Mental Asylum type.
In front of everyone!

Well it wasn’t that bad because even the café owner was enjoying himself. Another ‘weirdo photographs’ session followed and then it was time to see-off the Kol Kids :((

The AISH time was coming to an end. Sob Sob Sob :((

After a Bbye session for the ‘lovely localite’ we headed to the railway station.

16:30 p.m.

Take care and for Christ’s sake please inform us when you are back in Kolkata."

We still had a twinkling intuition that these two would elope!
He he he he!

17:00 p.m.

Umang (The Tehzeeb guy aka ‘Lad from Lucknow’), me and Neha (we were the two royal personalities who have been referred to as ‘cavalcade from the capital’ till now) were back in F.R.I.E.N.D.S Café.

Cummonnnnnnnn, we aren’t hogs that we went there to eat again. Umang was supposed to meet a school buddy of his & this guy was right now posted in HHH in the IAF.

Now at the slight mention of Air Force pilots my eyes light up as if Edison just invented the light bulb!


Can’t help it. This has been the case since the day I saw TOP GUN and hence I expected every IAF pilot to turn out to be Tom Cruise

After a small chat with him the 3 of us headed back to the guest-house to pack up and leave for our train at 21:30 p.m.

18:30 p.m.

“Pachhees rupaye??...........Bhaiyya hum chaar saal se yahan reh rahe hain aur aaj tak kabhi bhi bees rupaye se zyada mein Civil Lines se MNR hostel nahi gaye. Sahi Sahi bolo”

Ah! The good old bargaining skills we had acquired during hostel life were simply PRICELESS

Finally the cycle-rickshaw man was tired of our pestering and agreed. Umang sat alone in one and I and Neha got on the other.


It just struck me that I have a Handycam in my bag. Why not make a video of the whole ride from Civil Lines to the guest-house

Presto! The Handycam was out and recording had started. We even included the Cycle-Rickshaw wale bhaiyya to chip in and keep telling us names of some of the squares we passed on our way. Nothing was planned. It just happened. And am I glad to say the video has turned out extremely well.

Wanna have a look???

Hmmm come and meet me sometime. I’ll show you the whole video in a PVR type ambience. YES, you’ll get POPCORNS too :))

19:00 p.m.

Pack-up time. :((

Within the next one hour the 3 of us freshened up and by 20:00 p.m. we were off to the railway station :((

“Time flies by when you are with people you love”

There couldn’t have been a moment that could better exemplify this adage.

Umang had his train at 23:00 p.m. along with…………… Yiiiiiiiiiiiikes……... Chullad.

Tch tch tch tch…………….

But he was fine with it because he had pledged to bug Chullad beyond all worldly limits.
And I in my mathematical mood I thought ‘Limit tends to Infinity’!

As I write this short sweet narrative of our trip to Allahabad, all the images fly past my eyes as if am watching a movie.


There is no THE END in this movie.

Because as the train started to move, we didn’t say “Bbye Umang. Take care. Tataaaaaaaaa”

We said “Get back home safely and let us plan out our next meet. And yeah, bug Chullad to the best of your capacities”

A new TRADITION had just taken birth.

And we swore “No matter how busy we are, no matter how khadoos our future HARI SADUs might be, NO MATTER WHAT, we are going to meet up like this once every year. "

"A new place and a new time every year.”



Monday, June 26, 2006

"I Asked God"

Author - Anonymous

I asked God to take away my pain.
God said, no.
It is no for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, no.
His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.
I asked god to grant me patience.
God said, no.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, no.
I give you blessings, happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare the pain.
God said, no.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, no.
You must grow on your own. But I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked for all the things that I might enjoy life.
God said, no.
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all the things.
I asked God to help me love others as much as he loves me.
God said…… Ahhh, at last you have the idea.

This is my favourite poem till date n I'm pretty sure will remain so all my life. More than a poem I love this acts like a "Reality Check" whenever I tend to go overboard, whatever facet of life it may be.
Take a printout and put it up on the wall...............believe me it does work wonders ....... m a living example !!!