Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lessons from the Mumbai Locals...

Mumbai Local Trains are the lifeline of Mumbai. They are also great teachers. Some go so far as to claim that traveling in Mumbai locals builds character. One would therefore expect Mumbai to be as characterful as possible. Maybe that's what the Mumbai local spirit is all about. Maybe...

Anyways, today we shall cover some practical lessons learnt while undergoing varied experiences in the locals. Let's call these lessons, for the purpose of academization, "MLTs". We intend to take up five lessons from Mumbai Locals - named quite appropriately as MLT-101, MLT-102, MLT-103, MLT-104 and last, and the toughest, MLT-105. The courses are self-explanatory in nature, as will soon become evident. All these lessons will include the time of day, the specification of the train and the class of journey to be undertaken in order to successfully complete the course, apart from other trivial details.

Without further ado, we begin with MLT-101.

Time of Day: 9:30 PM, Sunday

Train Specification: Churchgate, Slow.

Boarding Station: SantaCruz

Alighting Station: Churchgate

Your class of journey: First

Handicap: None

Qualification criteria: Find the right platform, get in and out of the train at the designated destinations.

Notes/Comments: If you fail at this, you need to look again in the mirror, and then break the mirror.

A preliminary course, this is where one should ideally begin their training, though (as is the nature of human beings), we are all born experts and so we attempt far more amazing things much sooner in our life, with a few of us actually remaining alive to tell the world about it.



Time of Day: 6:30 PM, Monday

Train Specification: Churchgate, Slow.

Boarding Station:SantaCruz

Alighting Station: Churchgate

Your class of journey: First

Handicap: A bag (containing a laptop), an umbrella, and a swiss watch on your hand

Qualification criteria: Get in and out of the train with no damage to the laptop, the umbrella, to the watch and to self. Also, while boarding and alighting, there should be NO physical contact with any humanbeing/organism on the station.

Notes/Comments: You should be able to qualify easily after one attempt



Time of Day: 6:30 PM, Monday

Train Specification: Andheri, Fast

Boarding station:Mumbai Central

Alighting Station: Dadar

Your class of journey: First

Handicap: A bag (containing a laptop), an umbrella, and a swiss watch on your hand

Qualification criteria: Get in and out of the train with no damage to the laptop, the umbrella, to the watch and to self.

Notes/Comments: The author does not take any responsibility in case the swiss watch goes missing while attemtping the above operations.




Time of Day: 6:45 PM, Monday

Train Specification: Boriveli, Fast

Boarding station:Dadar

Alighting Station: Bandra

Your class of journey: Second

Handicap: A bag (containing a laptop), an umbrella, and a swiss watch on your hand

Qualification criteria: Get in and out of the train with no damage to self and laptop

Notes/Comments: If the umbrella and watch go missing, you will still be considered as qualified



MLT-105 (Only to be attempted after all the above 4 have been qualified. This experiment involves significant threat to life and limb)

Time of Day: 7:15 PM, Monday

Train Specification: Virar, Fast

Boarding station:Dadar

Alighting Station: Bandra

Your class of journey: Second

Handicap: Trust me, it won't make a difference

Qualification criteria: Get in and out of the train at the designated stations, with no major injuries to self

Notes/Comments: Since there is no way you can even think of attempting this at home, so I will do away with the customary warnings and wish you good luck. Also note that only for the purpose of this exercise, falling on your face while alighting does not count towards major injuries.


*Please note that whereever used, the expression "Get in the train" implies that no part of your system is outside the door (No, not even the shoe)

Touch and go...

The problem with fleeting moments is just that -- they are fleeting. 

You realize that the moment was just here, with you, within your reach. You could feel it, smell it, sense it, and then when you look around, it's gone.

Moments that you start missing even before they end. 


Like that book that you hoped had fifteen more pages just as you turn to the last page...

Like that road that you turn around and look at with wistful eyes, just before the last milestone...

Like those last few minutes in the morning when you wake up to find the alarm is only twenty minutes away...

Like that song that you can't wait to play again just before the last notes are played...

Like that conversation when you wished something more was said just before your coffee is over...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In Quotes

The best gift you can give to someone, is to forget what they should be sorry for...

The complexity of our life is limited only by the hyperactivity of our overworked imagination...

Hope is not about conquering your fear. Hope is about holding your fear by the hand, and walking with it...

Infinity is not something that doesn't have an end, but something that doesn't need a beginning...

The true measure of a useful life is not the number of tears left behind in death, but the number of smiles spread around when alive...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


It's an illuminating sight, in Mumbai, to see the kids growing up on the streets. They learn a lot of things this way. I saw it in movies earlier -- the effect of Mumbai on kids. I still remember, in most of them the camera would focus on the puny, running legs of a kid who just stole a piece of bread and then the scene would fast forward where the character now running is the hero who has upgraded to stealing a necklace and the followers have upgraded from roadside onlookers to the men in uniform.

That of course, was a dramatization, but not entirely unfounded.

The streets of Mumbai teach its kids...

...To run from one crowd, only to lose themselves into another crowd

...To run towards the next taxi, trying to coax rich strangers to buy pirated copies of "How to win" and "Rich Dad, poor dad" and "Heal thyself", the irony of the whole situation being so fucking blatant and you feeling so unsure where to look as if your mom just caught you with both your hands doing something below your belt

...To run into their road-side make-shift homes, to take shelter from the pimps on the streets

...To run from their road-side make-shift homes, to save themselves from a father who's too drunk

...To run behind the walls, to hide themselves from tomorrow

...To run against the rush, just for the kick of it

...To run with each other, to find a solace that is unattainable in this city while standing still


The streets of Mumbai teach its tomorrow...

...To run...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fear and love

"Conversations with God" talks about these two emotions being the only two emotions upon which every other human feeling is founded. Every thing that we sense and understand can be distilled into either of these. No more, no less. If I were to put it something along the lines of HP's latest ad campaign, I would say "The human is binary again..."

Because it is fear that makes you grip and grasp at things, while it takes love to let go...

Because it is fear that forces those promises upon you, while it takes love to just believe...

Because it is fear that leads you to find excuses, while it takes love to stop looking for reasons...

Most importantly, the concept of love in this context is not just the boy-girl type, but all the definitions hold equally true as much for a mother-child love, for instance.

And to conclude this small post, some extrapolations that I drew from what I could fathom --

Even if you have never been able to help yourself, help others so that they can live...

Even if you have never been able to reduce your own suffering, lessen it for others, so that they can smile...

And even if you have never been able to listen to yourself, listen to others so that they can share...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Just follow your heart...

"Easier said than done, obviously". That's the usual response to a statement like this. But then, come to think of it, given a choice, wouldn't this seemingly emotional, irrational choice be the most logical one?

I mean, if you find yourself at one of those zillion forks that life plants in your way, and those wavering, uncertain clouds have overshadowed your Pole Star, then how do you decide? I am not saying it's easy. It's not supposed to be easy perhaps. Deep down, it's not just the sound of those guiding, reassuring, benevolent heart beats. For it's only when you are confronted with these choices, that you can also hear those faint, quivering, fluttering noises that keep asking "Are you sure?"

Perhaps it's better to let the heart rule sometime.

Perhaps, hope is indeed a good thing.

Perhaps, when it's time to look back, you will thank your heart.

And perhaps, your heart will thank you even more...


And while we are at it, I can't help quoting that immortal line from one of the most amazing songs ever written -- "Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on" (from the song "Stairway to heaven" by Led Zeppelin).

Again, it can be easily brushed away as the musings of a 60's rock lyricist, but seriously, I suppose having this notion is what following your heart is all about...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Destiny's children...

It has struck me as strange, this fascination that a lot of people in our country (and outside as well, actually) have with astrology, palmistry and the likes. Is it just a desire to peep into the future? To avoid the bad, to anticipate the good? And the even stranger contradiction in the fact that we ultimately believe that fate is the decision maker. If fate is the decision maker, then of what use is this future gazing?

The only logic that I can think of is that of easy blaming. Isn't it extremely convenient and effective to lay the responsibility of every screwed up thing in our life upon a few stars and planets a million miles away? Or on the convoluted ridges and shapes on your hand, regardless of what you do with those hands? I am not discounting the scientific rationale behind astrology here. It's just that I have never been really able to figure out this rationale.

It's sometimes hard to believe that if your relationships are not working out, then it's the "manglik" effect to blame (poor Mars, a few million people everyday hold it responsible for their marital woes). Or that it's "shani" or "rahu-ketu" playing the roulette with your professional life, or things like that. The reason why it is so hard to believe all this is also perhaps because we have these concepts of rahu-ketu etc. only in this part of the world. There are enough people outside India whose lives are not particularly going smoothly, but they are pretty much unaware of these concepts. Though these days they are making up for the lack of this Oriental wisdom by resorting to numerology and palmistry.

Maybe someday I will figure out. I just wish my stars could tell me when I would...