Just some Questions...

Philosophy and Psychology, Equality and Liberty, Imagination and Reality, Arts and Science, Self or The Whole, Atheist or a Believer, Mind or Matter, Life and Death- These are not just phrases but questions to me, the questions that baffle me to my wits end. And then there is the ever lingering question – “What is the ultimate aim of this Human Life?”

Recently I acquired a book by the name “The story of Philosophy”. It takes us through the development of western philosophy through the ages. I, being fascinated by the French Revolution, turned straight to Voltaire – the heart, soul and the mind of The Renaissance. Though he never fought the war, it was he who sowed the seeds of change – all by the might of his pen. And by the time I had read it, I could sense a connection between his and my ideas about psychology, philosophy and humanity in general. And it brought back all these questions to the fore which had forever been lingering in the back of my mind.

One question to which every one has an answer of their own is “What is the meaning of this Life?” Every one is entitled to an opinion but none of it the complete truth. There are different sects of philosophy which answer these questions in their own way and each seems true enough. The meaning and the motive of life – it all seems so deceptive. Some wise man even said “if we start looking for the meaning of life, we stop living life “. He could be right for many a man has tried to undertake the path and not many have succeeded (this is related to another question – “the self or the whole” meaning a thousand lives were wasted (or invested) for the discovery and the achievement of one man. Was it worth it?”). But those who did succeed definitely changed the course of history or at least gave a new direction to humanity and how we think. The praises could go on for pages and the critics can babble their hearts out. But we know we are not interested in either.

Philosophy and Psychology are somehow deeply related. Every doubt of mine here is either of these. And no matter what or how much I think every one of them ends in another doubt or question.

Equality and/or Liberty – this is just a part of philosophy because no state has been able to achieve both at the same time. If it were achieved, Utopia (Plato’s main theme work) would come true. The world has seen instances where one of them was sacrificed for the other. America is a land of opportunity and liberty but not equality. USSR implemented Equality via force and took away all liberty. And not all men in these lands are happy. I guess all of us understand liberty because it is centric to all forms of life. Equality has many aspects – material, power, opportunity and education. But to me the most important is equality of education (not just literacy, information and knowledge but wisdom too) because it has the potential to bring the liberation of man from the shackles of a sub-human life. These issues could be better dealt with if Philosophers were kings or Kings were philosophers. But Utopia is a dream after all.

Atheist or a Believer- this again is a tricky question. Personally I do not believe in religion but am divided on the existence of God. One thing that goes in favor of God is – How did this universe (big bang and stuff) come into being? What caused this universe to come into being and what created Life? Even science has just one answer – God. But there is no proof to his /her existence either. It’s all a belief; a deep rooted one at that. Just another crazy theory on this line – God is mans single best invention.

About Science and Arts I have just one thing to say- I believe that science is for the sustenance of life and art for the sustenance of the soul.

Imagination and reality –it’s a question for the educators. But they don’t really see the importance of it. Imagination is what propels us ahead – it sows the seeds of Ideas. But for the idea to be really fruitful it should be based on truths. It’s a deep rooted problem but I believe that no matter what Imagination of the young mind should not be curbed.

Mind or Matter- this is related to how we live our life. By mind I mean happiness, joy and intellectual development and by matter I mean materialistic things and achievements. A certain amount of matter is needed for a comfortable living and to fulfill some of our psychological needs. Mind alone cannot fetch us all our needs. But an excess of matter had been found to bring troubles of its own – like the loss of peace of mind. It is a personal choice hence better left at that.

Self or the Whole- this is again a deep psychological question. Why does a human being exist – to live a good life of his own or for the betterment of the others? Ayn Rand in her philosophy of Objectivism professes the former and lashes out at the later. She sees the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. She is totally against altruism. I don’t really know the truth but looking at the whole picture we are no one. In the total history of man we have a life span of a few years. We do know where we came from but have no idea where we are heading to. But the intention has to be making the present and the future better. After all we just are a link in the chain (of humanity) – the ends of which are unknown to us. All of us contribute to the chain – some make themselves stronger, some try to make others strong. Which one to chose is a million dollar question to me.

Life and Death. Steve Jobs says “Death is the destiny that we all share.” Yet most of us are afraid of death. No one wants to die. We fail to realize that we can’t beat it. Instead the best we can do is -make the best of this life. I believe that if we live each day as it comes, and make the best of each day we would have done our best. As for life itself – we consider it to be so complex yet understanding life is deceptively simple. Life comprises majorly of work, people and our emotions. I believe that if we do our work with unflinching honesty and keep our emotions simple (true to our natural and uncorrupted selves) we can be truly happy, we will attain Bliss and it is then that the fear of death is gone. I guess I am still trying to bring honesty to my work. Ironically I don’t even understand the true nature of the work that I will be happy doing.

All this has gotten really big by now and I’ll wind up with the original question. What makes me write this? Have I overshot my years? Have I gotten too philosophical for my age (my mom and sis will vouch for that)? Do I understand life better having asked myself these questions? The answer is yes. The answer is - Life is simple and Life is Beautiful.

Ciggi..

So it finally happens. Sometime as a kid, I had promised myself that I would never smoke. It was based mostly on the fact that my Dad gave up smoking so I don't pick it up from him. And as I grew, I gathered facts which made my resolve stronger. To name a few, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man, is carcinogenic, is one of the prominent reasons for perennial bronchitis. If I consult my sister, she could come up with a thousand more.

But today somehow the resolve was broken. Why that happened is of a bigger concern to me than one ciggi.. I hated it anyways. It tastes awful, leaves a feeling of ashes in the mouth and the lungs hurt like hell. And as i write this, they still are hurting. Yet I don't know whether I will smoke another one or not.

Coming back to the main reason why I chose to succumb. I will clarify that it was a choice rather than “somehow falling into it”. I did it despite my friend, from whom I borrowed the ciggi, opposing it. There are three reasons why I did so. First – I want to experience and try almost every thing this world has to offer. So smoking is just a small part of the big, bad world. Second is kind of immature yet it exists. If men like Steve Jobs can do drugs and still change the world, I wanted to see if ciggi could do any wonders for me. But then the most important was, I wanted to see if ciggi helps me solve my problems.

I don't want to talk about my problems. Each one has his problems. Most people in this world will vouch that their problems are the toughest, not me though. My problem is that I know precisely what my troubles are and I also know that I am perfectly capable of solving them. But somehow I have not been able to do any of that. With this is associated the biggest fear of my life. I don't want my life to be a story of “could have beens”. What I mean by this is that I do not want to have regrets about my life down the years. I do not want to have a feeling that “I could have done that, I could have achieved this, I could have had the girl of my dreams if only I had tried hard enough, or would have been wise enough.” What I mean by all of this is tough to explain here. Someday I will write about this in detail.

This raises another question- am I being an escapist? Most probably yes. I have this hope of someone, something solving my problems and thinking that I will take it over from there. But its my life, my troubles and I will have to sort them out as well. If I have troubles, I will either solve them and come out stronger or succumb.

Anyways, if this news reaches my dad, he will pour out all his wisdom to persuade me to never do it again. I know he will be supportive, maybe even understand. Mom will be shattered. And my sister will refuse to talk to me. Yet I am going to put it in public domain. And I don't know why - most probably because none of that will stop me from having one more, or from becoming a smoker.

Right now, I am going for a jog, try to run and skip harder for days and make up for the lost lung cells.....

Steve Job's Speech...

(This speech was given by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the Graduation Ceremony at Stanford. Havent come across anything more original, honest, and inspiring. Read on.)

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal, just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5 deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parent’s garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important - have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Life’s Calling

I am a non believer. But if at all my epitaph were to be written, I would want it to be just one simple phrase- “A life well lived”. But then what is life? What is “well lived”? Tricky questions these, the answers not all that obvious.

Our life comprises of many things- work, emotions, relationships, fun and enjoyment. Every time I have hearty conversation with my father regarding this he always says “We have only a lifetime, and nature wants us to enjoy our lives to the fullest”. But then enjoyment has its own parameters like pleasure, happiness and joy. And each is important. See, more I try to untangle the mystery of life more complicated it gets.

Work is one of the most important aspects of life. And to enjoy life truly, we need to find a job (profession, whatever) that we truly love. That makes work fun and enjoyable. We can say that to be truly happy, we need to find our “life’s calling”- a job which we know we were born for, a work which becomes more than “just another job”, something which becomes our passion.

I have seen people who have found out their Life’s Call. And, just by looking at them, I can see the difference. They have a sense of calm, serenity and delight around them. Joy exuberates. And the best thing is that each one of us has our own “Life’s call”.

Talking of me, I have had many things that I have been fascinated with. But coming to profession, I am studying (!) to be a Mechanical Engineer. But I have my doubts. Do I really want to live my life as a mechanical engineer? I mean, will I be happy designing engines, or cars, or producing goods on the assembly line? I have no idea. And the worst part is that, such images do not stir any emotions in me. They simply fail to inspire me.

Then I have dabbled in photography. Mostly nature, some abstract some general. Basically I have had fun with it, and I really like doing it. And believe me, I find the idea of travel photographer’s life more fascinating than that of an engineer’s. But on a deeper thought, it is just a fascination. And no fascination lasts a life time. I have to be honest. None does. If I make it my profession I will lose interest in days. But then, while talking of Life, one got to be serious.

Then there are these simple things which I like. One of them is music. But honestly speaking I am not good enough at it to make something out of it. Travel and adventure fascinate me the most. The idea of exploring foreign land, meeting new people, falling in love with cities, trying their cuisine and most importantly studying their culture is just great. No matter what, my dream job will always be “the host of the Discovery show – Globe Trekker / Lonely Planet”. What a life man - you get paid to trot around the world, eat at exotic places, and buy stuff and what not. Even if I do not get paid for it, I would love to backpack all around the world.

And then there is the weirdest of them all - Psychology. I am not just interested but mad about trying to understand how the human mind works. Had I studied to be a doctor I would have taken nothing else but Psychiatry for my masters. Human mind is the most complex of all things, the field explored the least. To study psychology, I would like to start with child psychology. I have this feeling that if we try to understand how a child’s mind develops from a baby to a kid to an adolescent and then finally an adult, we could get most answers we look for in psychology. After all, all of us are born with just some simple but pure emotions – love and a sense of security. Most of the other emotions are acquired by us as we grow. I love to just observe people, for hours, like a non existent person and try to understand his actions, and expressions. Then I like to formulate an idea as to how the person will be. I have my own methods which have no reason. But many times my predictions about the person turn out true. Or it could be my fallacy – the mind is a mystery you see.

Talking of psychology, I had to touch upon Philosophy as well. I am philosopher in my own right. I love to drool over topics for hours and develop theories accordingly. But then it’s just to answer my own curiosity, in my own way, based on my own beliefs and imagination.

All seems so confusing and more I think about it, more vivid my future seems to me. Yet, despite all these I know what my Life’s call is.

Theory of Bitch...

After the “Theory of Ditch” comes the “Theory of Bitch”. Though conceived ages back I never thought I should document it, owing to the volatile content. If I ever get caught I will be thrashed to death by the female of the species but I guess the “Theory” is worth it.

The origins of the thought are untraceable now. It has not been tested personally but is based mostly on worldly wisdom and the experience of others as well. It states that – “There are two types of girls in this world – Bitches and Sexy Bitches. “

I won’t elucidate any more. I believe that the statement is self explanatory. There is a corollary to the theory as well, only for the guys though – “Just get the sexy ones.”

The theory will be verified by almost every guy in this world and every honest girl as well. Regarding the corollary, every guy wants just that.


P.S. @ Girls- No hard feelings yaa….

How good is being “Good”??

I remember reading two quotes some years back, one by Abraham Lincoln and another by our very own Narayana Murthy. And somehow they stuck in my mind. But it was only recently that the meaning and importance of it all came clear to me.

Lincoln said- “No honest man can be everything to everybody.”

Narayana Murthy had remarked- “There is no need to be good every time. You just have to be fair.”

Some real words of wisdom these. And it was the recent series of events that made me realize the true importance of these words. I have tried to be good to almost all my friends and those close to me. I have put in extra efforts on my part to keep the relationship going. This is just what I feel and need not be the other side of the story.

Anyways, continuing, not every body deserves being treated specially. Or so I have learnt the hard way. The same people, whom you had treated kindly and favourably, use you and turn their heads away when the time to return the favour arises. Every one expects others to understand them, but the same guys won’t give a damn about understanding others. But in this selfish and mean world, there is no space for emotions. It’s a mad rush for success and money. Every one wants to win and to them “ethics and ethos” are the “armour of the meek”.

I do not demand much from people around me, just one thing – Integrity. But it’s hard to come across such men these days. Maybe that’s why I find myself a lone figure even in a crowd.

When I try to be good to others, I stop being honest to “myself”. Hence I prove Lincoln right.

I guess Narayana Murthy’s wisdom will have to bail me out.

One Moment of Doubt

Just as we were going towards the gym, we looked out of the windows. A clear sky after days inspired Deva to suggest going out for a jog rather than the usual stuff at the gym. So off we (me, Deva, Bob) were for our sojourn.

Crossy, as it is called here, is not new for me. I have run a lot, participated in all crossy events that have been organized here. It’s a simple sport which needs just a few basic things – complete idea of your body, breath control and determination to complete the race come what may.

I started with all the determination in the world to complete the whole lap. It sums up to around three and a half kilometers. I started slow, trying to gauge my optimal speed and pace up my heartbeat accordingly. It took half a kilometer to get into my rhythm. Then the heartbeat, the breathing and the steps all fall into a beautiful rhythm. Then on, it’s all about not giving up, not tiring mentally and just going on. It all seemed set for me. More than half the lap was over when Deva began to tire and got left behind (just the story bro, don’t take it anyways..). Short while later, Bob too got left behind and I was all alone by myself to complete the race.

Another thing about crossy here – it is pretty easy to just keep on running with others. But when alone, you have almost every reason in the world to give up. Still I was motivated. I knew deep down inside, I could do it. I had done it before. I went on. The hostel was in sight now. Only the last 100 meters or so were left. One small incline and I would be done. But just before the start of the incline, there was a stray thought in my mind that I would not be able to complete the lap even now. It was totally stray, had no significance. After all I could see my hostel gates. Less than 80 meters remained.

Next thing I knew I had missed a breath, then a step and lost the rhythm. It was all over for me. In a crossy it is impossible to start once you have stopped even for a single step. I had lost it. One moment of doubt, one moment of weakness had changed my story of "almost a victory" to defeat. And the modus of the defeat hurt.

In many ways, this is a big big lesson learnt......

Amchi Mumbai

My association with Mumbai dates back to my childhood. My Dad got posted here and we stayed here for a year and a half. Those were the best days of my life, at least my childhood. I have plentiful sweet memories of those days. And I fell in love with the place then itself.

And Mumbai was one of the reasons why I chose IIT Bombay for my graduation. Having spent two more years in Mumbai, I have rediscovered my love for this place. Its Victorian architecture, the beaches, markets, even the traffic, there is something to it which draws me towards it. Somehow I can associate myself with the city, its people, even the smell of different areas. Having rekindled my old love for photography, it struck my mind as to why not capture Mumbai, by the night or evening, whatever……… I would call it “My Tribute to Mumbai”.

So out I set with my heavy baggage of cameras on a not so “bright and shiny” day. Still I was hoping against hope for a clear day, at least for the sake of my cameras. Having lost the batteries of my DIGI, trying to hop onto a running train (that in itself is a long story, demands a piece of its own) I had to go to Lamington Road to get the replacements. I was lucky at least on the monetary side to have gotten a decent deal on the batteries and the reel for the SLR camera. Just as I was getting buoyant, rains started pouring. I did a clumsy act trying to hide my stuff in the bag, and then the bag in my jacket. Somehow I managed to jump into a Double Decker bus and reach the front seat of the upper compartment. Seeing the bus crawl through the narrow lanes of south Mumbai, I could not resist myself and take some shots through the watered panes. It produced some hazy yet lovable shots.

I got down at Crawford Market. It is one of the bigger markets for fruits and so I decided to do some fruit photography. And soon I was the centre of attraction of almost all the fruit vendors. They must have felt I was some crazy chap wasting time. Most of them did not co-operate when I requested them to turn off or dim the lights. But I was not to be bogged down yet. I pursued on. They say luck is on the side of the courageous. And one of the vendors turned out to be overtly friendly. He arranged the light, the fruits and that gesture just fired me up. The shots were good. I loved them. After I was done, he came over to me and asked me to get the printed photos for him. He even asked me to do a shoot session and that he would pay for it. It almost was my first Photographic Assignment (or Job). I was elated. I still have his card in my pocket. I don’t know if I will do the job or not, but when I go there next, I sure will hand over the pics to him.

Seems my joy was only short lived and the SLR battery gave up. It had been last replaced three years back and this could have happened any moment. Headed towards the camera shop with a sunken heart, I knew I would not be able to take any more pictures that day. The battery used in my camera is kind of special and it had to be fetched from the store house. I was getting bored and started a casual conversation with the person sitting on the other side of the counter. He was a friend of the shop owner and had no idea about cameras. But, I was oblivious and kept on pestering him with my stupid queries. He meanwhile asked one of the staffs to get “wada pao” for all of us in the shop. He talked me into it and his kindness coupled with my hunger made me say yes. We kept on chit chatting on general things. I started liking him. Then my batteries arrived and I was getting desperate for some more shots. I wanted to run out and capture the setting sun by the Marine Lines beach. But then, I could not say no to him. I waited for the “wada pao” to arrive and tell you what it was the most delicious ones I had ever tasted. All my life, they are going to be the benchmark for “wada paos”. I was late, and could not get a single nice shot, but then I had some nice memories and a smile on my face.

I went towards Colaba area to have some fun or maybe just for the heck of it. I love the place more than any other in the city. But I was getting tired and so wanted to hurry back home. So at the bus stand I asked a man for directions about the bus to the railway station. He must have been at least 50. But his reply was “Come on guys, you are young. The station is near by. Just take a stroll.” So I went “Uncle I am tired….”. He retorted back “Come on yaar, you are so young. And you might catch glimpse of chicks along the way”. An exchange of smiles later, I was out on my foot in search of the chicks.

I never found any chicks but I had met three men, each different from the other. One an example of helpfulness, the second one was genuinely nice and kind, the third one youthful and enthusiastic about life.

They say a city is made of the people who live in it.

I now understood why. And my love for Mumbai grew…….

The Kid Within...

There has been a myriad of emotions going on in my mind and sometimes I fail to understand them. I feel there is a kid inside me which refuses to grow up and surfaces very often much to my dismay. I act so kiddish sometimes, sometimes plain stupid. And I fail to understand its true cravings and desires no matter how much I ponder.

The Kid is very innocent, wants to have as pure a mind as one can, and wants to be oblivious of all the bad things of the world. In short, it wants to be in a state of happiness and joy and pure bliss. These seem to be so beautiful. But then it also wants to have a perfect world of my own, where it has every thing that it needs. Most importantly, it wants to have a sense of security. It wants a place where nothing can go wrong, a place where nothing happens without my desire and wish. I don't want the world to be perfect. I just want “my world” to be perfect and secure in all ways. This is what the kid in me craves for. And I know that any such thing does not happen. Because if it were to happen I would not need anything else and hence stagnate which is against the laws of nature.

The dilemma is that despite knowing the truth (or what ever it is, may be the grown up perspective) the mind and the kid still keep on craving for it. Jumping around on the beach following a balloon, chasing the bubbles, getting excited when it rains, sometimes even dancing in it, these are just some of my methods of reassuring myself that I am a child, at heart. But it is not all well either. The problem with the childish mind is that it gets fascinated by every other thing which it finds interesting. And the fascination might not last for long. Mostly it does not. And I am left with chasing some things for some time, then losing interest and getting newer things to pursue. This been has a series and every time I look back, I feel stupider to have wasted my time in futility. Some of the fascinations have turned into passions for life, most have just fizzled away (have lost count of those).

But then the “The Question”. Do I want to grow up or not? Should I give up the chase for "my perfect world"? Should I try and get out of "my childish oblivion”? The innocent mind brings imagination and freshness of ideas. It brings real happiness and joy. But by following it I cannot really achieve much, or so it seems. I really want to be as happy as a child always is, but I also want to be so much more, achieve so much, and change the world in my own possible way.

And presently I seem devoid of any answers.

The First Rains...

Today, as I was giving finishing touches to my previous blog, a message popped on my screen. It was Manuj asking every one to accompany him to the Hill Top in the campus. So off we were, me carrying all my photography paraphernalia and a borrowed tripod. I was excited to be going to the hill top after so many months. But in that period, IIT had fenced off the portion of the hill belonging to the campus. Too Bad...

The scene from the top is the most beautiful, or so they say. And true they were. I loved it. But the fencing barred us from going to the temple and the Vihar Lake. But we were not to be bogged down so easily. While I was taking some shots, Manuj cleared off some of the fencing and we climbed over it and jumped across to the other side. It was fun of its own kind. And the scenes made for some really brilliant shots. By this time a slight, almost minimal, drizzle had begun. Walking in the drizzle was just so refreshing. But it was getting dark by the minute and we got down towards the Vihar Lake and walked back to IIT.

Just as we reached our rooms, it started raining signaling the onset of monsoon. It was the first rain of the season. It seemed as if the downpour did not have any intentions of stopping and as I write this, it still is raining. The earth was smelling wonderful as if inviting us to enjoy along. I and Abhinav could not resist our selves from bathing in the rain. We went to the terrace and bathed and danced and kicked the water on each other. It was fun. The child in me had found its way out.

The MotorCycle Diaries

Che’ Guevara has almost become synonymous with Revolution in today’s world.

Born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, Che’ went on to fight for communism and equality and become a hero to every one who thinks of himself as a rebel. A certain photograph of him can be seen on the T-Shirts of many a punk guys. But there is more to it and the movie in concern talks about making of the “Man”. I am no movie critique but the movie touched me so much, I was compelled to express my views about it.

The movie starts with Che’, 23, and his friend Alberto Granado, 29, decide to travel across the continent of South America. Che’ was studying to be a doctor, a leprosy specialist, and Granado was a biochemist. They start from Buenos Aires to Venezuela via Chile, Peru and Columbia. They pack up all the bare necessities and begin their sojourn on an old motorcycle. This very idea of packing off some stuff and cameras in a backpack and hitch hiking through the country fascinates me to the core. To me it means the confirmation of the free spirit. And out they were, to explore the world, understand human life and its meaning. I was hooked. They had a totally unpredictable world ahead of them, with no form of humanity to support or bail them out. But, I guess, it was their restlessness, dreaming and adventurous spirit that took them through.

They wander off to Miramar to meet Che’s girl friend, Chichina. Here I too will wander off the topic to speak a word about the Latin beauties. They have a fair skin, not shiny and black hair and a husky voice. “Lovely” is the word. Che’s girl was so beautiful I almost instantly fell in love with her. How he managed to leave her behind is tough to understand. Still, moving on towards some really beautiful land, they encountered troubles with the bike, tents blown off, falling of the bike sometimes even breaking down the bike.

They used their illustrious “doctor” status and sweet talking to find themselves places to sleep at people’s homes. Che’ was very faithful to his medicine profession and whenever he could, he did go out and help those who would ask for it. Granado was one of the fun loving, sweet talking types who just wanted to have a good time. Also Che’ was one of the straight talking types, those who tell the truth no matter what.

I got so engrossed in the man, I almost forgot about the movie. It is a brilliant movie with so many beautiful landscapes, melodious music and, for me, awesome photography. Despite it being in Spanish, I loved every bit of it. I might have not made sense but if you see it once, you might as well appreciate it.

On arriving in Peru, they saw something which was to change their lives forever. There was poverty and exploitation all around. Spaniards had taken over the country and the corrupt “rich and the police” combined to capture all the land of the farmers. The poverty and the hardships of this life made Che’ very emotional and sensitive towards pain. It is here that the seeds of socialism and communism were laid in his mind. The sensitivity with which this is portrayed in the movie is touching. On leaving Miramar, Chichina had given him 15$ to get her some stuff. Che’ had not parted with the money even when he was dying of an asthma attack. But seeing the pain of these Peruvians, he distributed the money amongst them. This signals his breaking off the shackles of personal desires and thinking of the humanity as a whole.

They break down their bike in Chile and still went on with the remaining of their journey of foot, hitch hiking and via the boat. Their spirit was just indomitable. Walking relentlessly for days and hundreds of kilometers they reach a leprosy centre in Peru and spend some time there. Then they take a boat ride on the Amazon to the main centre of leprosy in Latin America. The pain and the plight of the patients there changed their lives forever. Che’ gave his all to the inmates of the hospital. He refused to use surgical gloves while treating them. He healed them in the true sense, the body and the mind. They played football together, danced and celebrated his 24th birthday together. On the eve of his 24th birthday, he swam across the Amazon, a feat not achieved in memory. He had come of age. He had become a Man.

Che’ dreamt of a socially equal, harmonious, and united Latin America. And he went on to live that Dream

The importance of “Ditch”

If you are acquainted with IITB lingo, you might know the importance of “ditch”. If not let me try and explain. It's kind of tough but still I 'll try. If you want to say no to something, just say “ditch” or if if some one is bugging you, you just say “ditch naa yaar”. The meaning and the way we use it demands a page of its own. So lets “ditch” that and come to the real thing.

I have a theory which goes such that “ditch” is the ultimate answer to every question in the world. Somebody asks you something tricky, there's a tough job at hand, classes to attend, just say, think and believe “ditch” and then lay back and have a good time.

So one day me and Deva were coming back from Mocha and suddenly aboard the auto rickshaw we realised that we did not have enough money left for the whole journey. So just as the meter read 15 we got down for a stroll back to the hostel. We still had a long way to go. So I started explaining to him my Theory of Ditch. We were having a nice laugh about the whole issue when I suggested why not we write an article on it. And then we had a lengthy and hearty discussion about it. We were deciding up on the details of the article and how relevant it might seem to all those IITians reading it.

But then suddenly it crept in our minds..
“What the heck. Chal DITCH!!!”

The Auto Rickshaw Driver

Having just arrived at the Santa Cruz airport from home, I had to take an auto rickshaw back to IIT. And so I did. I got the first shock when he did recognize IIT. I did repeat it many times, even referred to Powai and Hiranandani. But the guy looked confident, though I wasn’t. But still I ventured.

On the way was a huge traffic jam and that’s where our conversation began. He just casually mentioned that I was lucky to be in a college and studying. I was surprised, even perplexed to hear that. So I asked why he thought so. That’s when he told me that he too liked to study but he could not continue his studies. And so I asked him about his background. He was from a small village in Jamui, near Deoghar, in Bihar (forget the geography; it is a regulation town in Bihar.). Father was a poor farmer, having not much land of own, now too old to work real hard and earn all of them their daily bread, had four siblings, two brothers and two sisters. The sisters have to wed off, the brothers brought up. No regular income to wend of worries. Believe me this is a common place in India, Bihar at least. I was getting saddened by his plight, so I asked his name.

Mahesh somehow did manage to complete his 10th standard. That too, with his own earning (I did not have the courage to ask how, the image just scared me) and while telling this his voice almost became overcome with a feeling of sadness mixed with achievement. He said that had his father supported him, he would have managed his living as well as studies. And I am pretty sure he had tears in his eyes when he told me this.

But then the siblings were growing up, demands increasing, and father growing old. He had to discontinue his education purely to support his family. He stayed in his village for two years but without much avail. And that’s when a friend of him brought him to Mumbai. And what he did for an earning is already known to you I guess.

I asked him if he liked studying. He did say yes but the conviction in his voice did make me believe so. That’s when I decided to cheer him up or try to talk him into giving another shot to studies. I suggested night schools, night colleges and other government initiatives. I explained the advantages that he would have if he did so. If he studied, he could get a proper job and would not be a daily wage worker anymore. He would have a better life and would provide a better life to his family and children. I did not know what all to say and what not, but I did try my best. I could not persuade him, neither order him, just give directions.

I was lost in my thoughts when we entered IIT. And he blurted out “It is so lovely place. I like this place a lot.” And the shocks were not over yet. He told me that once he had come here and loved the place so much, he parked his rickshaw and roamed around in the campus for the whole day. It was then that I realized, things which we get easily we take them for granted but those things mean so much to others and bring so much joy to them. My ride was about to end. So I decided to sign off with few last words.

“A man is the master of his own destiny. And no one else is.”
And it applies equally to me as to him.

A Passion for Photography...

I have always cherished the dream of Nature and Travel Photography.

Out in the woods or in the mountains looking for deers, monkeys, or if lucky even the Royal Bengal Tiger. This certainly gives me the thrill found no where else. Or even the sun, setting over the sea, or just rising as seen from the Hilltop in our beautiful campus. Even flowers, when taken in a close up, can say a lot and stir our senses. This to me is just the begining and a passion of a life time.

Well, photography needs a camera and this is where I have been pretty lucky. Started with a Yashika point and shoot camera as a kid, Dad gifted me a Nikon SLR F50 on my passing out from school. And that is the best gift I ever got, not a camera but Passion of a lifetime. Thank you Papa.

And then, the icing on the cake. I got a Sony Digicam. It’s a fun camera which incidentally takes good photos too..

And recently I added a extension lens to my Nikon camera and a carry case too. Next on the line is a Tripod stand which is a must for every photographer. Then may be I’ll proceed on to get filters for shading effects etc….
I would like to learn Adobe Photoshop sometime and Suyog has promised to teach me that.

Whenever I write, I have a trouble finding the perfect ending. And it has cropped up here again. So all I can say is that, if you are a beautiful girl, meet me and I wouldn’t mind shifting from Nature Photography to Girls.
Haha……