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How far does our knowledge of tigers in india go? I am sure none of us has ever asked ourselves this question…I am sure i hadn’t either…But how is it relevant, you may ask….to you or to me or to everyone else in the country. Why would it be of any significance to know anything beyond the answer to the question which we have responded to proudly for so many years – “Who is our national animal”…Answer – “Tiger”..and now let me do my work…

Unfortunately though, while we all were busy doing our work, the tigers for their part were begging to be given more attention…The number of tigers in India has reduced at such a fast pace in the past few years that it’s almost alarming to note that we are not bothered yet…The questions however also is, whether we should be bothered or not? The answer to this question is not as simple as answering a general knowledge query.

We are not bothered because we are not educated enough, not aware enough about the consequences of a diminishing tiger population, almost to the brink of extinction…Should we worry about losing this beautiful, magnificent animal for ever? Yes we should, and that too as soon as possible…because if we don’t the time is not far when your favourite general knowledge question would be rephrased to “Who was our national animal?”…and i wont sit back waiting for that to happen…

I had a very fruitful discussion with a friend yesterday on this topic, and on the new portal called “Saveourtigers.com” (do visit and pledge your support if you haven’t). This friend of mine has been involved in tiger census for sometime now and he did not sound very optimistic about the chances of the tiger’s survival in India for too long. In fact he said that the people involved in tiger conservation already feel that the battle is lost…

I am obviously not an expert at any of this…and to be very frank i have realized the importance of this issue only after visiting the site and reading about this initiative to save the tigers. But i would at the very least like to spread the word around…to make other people aware about the issue at hand and its seriousness.

I have also seen a few very speculative remarks about this initiative, about how the corporates are marketing their own interests in the name of conserving the tigers and so on…fair enough, and maybe true as well. We, the people, of this extremely democratic nation, are also extremely speculative by nature, and we just can’t help being that way, almost for everything. It’s almost a daily habit amongst most of us to assume that because someone has come out in support of something, there is a personal interest in it and hence why the hell should we bother.

Okay lets assume a small scenario – Assume that corporates, Bollywood stars and several other powerful people are getting involved in this initiative to further their own interests and also lets assume that none of them (extreme assumption), have any interest in the real cause. Should this in any way affect us?? Does this in any way mean that the cause is not important so lets not make ourselves aware about it, just because we “think” that the greedy people around us are out to take undue advantage of the scenario. I very humbly decline this thought process…Whether these people are out there to make a quick buck or gain popularity out of associating themselves with the tigers, the bottom line is that they made me aware, they made me think about the condition of tigers in the country, and they gave me a reason to blog about it, spread the word around and probably, just probably educate a few others about an important cause.

It’s important for all of us to stop complaining about things, to stop trying to find a fault with things around us, and to stop ignoring important issues in the name of pre conceived thoughts. Had we been more aware and taken a moment or two to study and realize the importance of saving tigers, i believe the situation wont have gone out of control.

Lastly, i would urge everyone to share the thought of being aware on the tigers issue at hand, and on all such issues that surround us, with as many people as you can. Sharing helps…and who knows…we may actually be able to make some difference. After all, every bit counts and it does not take much to care about something you feel strongly about!!

PS…Please visit the site http://www.saveourtigers.com to learn about ways to help the cause.

Swarg was feeling unusually bright today. Although there was never a problem with light in Swarg, but Surya devta was today trying hard to shine as much as possible, as if to prove a point to someone, as if he wanted something in return.

Swarg was also unusually chirpy today. Sardar Patel opened his eyes, reluctantly, as if wanting to go back to sleep. The unusual noise around him and the bright light was just not letting him stick to his bed. There were times when he thought to himself, whether there is even one corner in this area where he can sleep peacefully. Swarg, although the best place he had ever seen, was still a little too bright and shiny for him. The music in the air was peaceful, yet disturbing if you want to sleep.

Rubbing his eyes, he got up and peeked out of his window. There was quite a bit of activity happening around. He had not seen such a buzz before. In fact Chitragupt was seen running around, with a definite look of concern on his face. Sardar Patel wondered what the issue could be. Chitragupt was usually very balanced and not even the harshest of circumstances could make him flutter. Sardar Patel remembered, how professionally Chitragupt had handled the situation some years back when Hitler had launched a campaign, demanding an entry into Swarg on the grounds that people who have spent more than 20 years outside Swarg should be allowed a preferential entry. In-spite of the escalating situation around him, Chitragupt was able to diffuse it, and convince Hitler to return back.

What then could have made Chitragupt look so worried, Sardar Patel wondered. Having woken up completely, Sardar Patel switched his laptop on, wanting to check his Facebook page. The first thing he noticed was obviously a sad smiley on Chitragupt’s profile..”he must really be worried”. Moving down his profile, he noticed a few very suprising status updates. There were at least 9 to 10 status updates from various “devtaas” and “rakshasas” about demanding their own share of land in “Swarg” and “Nark”. “Where is all this coming from”, Sardar Patel thought to himself. Some of them had even resorted to fasting or “Aamaran anshan” as it reflected in their facebook statuses. A few of the “Rakshasas” has warned of grave consequences if they don’t get their share of “NarkLand”. Sardar Patel had never seen such an up surge in Facebook messages for a very long time. The last time it happened was when a poor old soul from the state of Uttar Pradesh was beaten up badly as he tried to enter a particular “un named”  zone in “Swarg Land”.

This was different though. People had been living in “Swarg Land” for millions of years, with peace and calm, and the “Swarg Land” administration had spent a considerable amount of time and effort in keeping it that way. This was new for them.

Sardar Patel saw Chitragupt approach him slowly; the worried look on his face was concerning. He came inside and sat beside the iron man. Chitragupt said “Sir, we need your help. You have been recommended as a consultant to handle this issue of separate lands because of your previous experience in uniting states into a solid, robust nation.” Sardal Patel looked amused, yet the pride in his eyes at the mention of a united India was evident. Years ago, he, along with some very capable administrators had been able to unite a fragmented country into one of the largest democracies on earth, and he was very proud of this.

CG: “Sir, would you be kind enough to help us through this…you must have seen the problem…on facebook”
SP: “Yes ofcourse..but i don’t fully understand..you will have to explain”
CG: ” Well sir, it all started with the great state of Andhra Pradesh…”
SP: “What…this started from India???”, he said…visibility dissapointed now.
CG: “Yes sir…unfortunately yes…”

Sardar Patel listened patiently as Chitragupt explained how some people in AP had created a lot of fuss about a separate state, and resorted to fasting and other means so that the government of India gives into their demands. Unfortunately for him, the government had eventually decided to look into the matter and this was enough incentive for everyone in Swarg and Nark to demand their own pieces of land.

Just as they started discussing the possible solutions to this issue, there was some activity on Chitragupt’s Facebook page. They noticed a wall to wall conversation between the prime minister of India and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
CM: Are bhai sahab, sasriakal…humen bhi batwaara chahiye
PM: Hain behen ji…kya matlab?
CM: kam se kam 3 to honi chahiye…itna bada pradesh…nahi sambhalta
PM: wo to sabko pata hai…
CM: oye kya bola??
PM: nahi nahi behen ji….aise kaise…abhi ek problem to solve kar lein
CM: nonsense….yahan vote bank khatam ho raha hai…mera haathi delhi kaise pahunchega..jaldi kariye
PM: (sad smiley) dekhte hain behen ji…

This conversation got CG and SP extremely worried. The demand for separate states was spreading faster than H1N1…Sardar Patel was worried that his beloved country that was so beautifully united would be divided based on whimsical attitudes of a few people..while CG was worried about the consequences of not being able to satisfy everyone…he, afterall was considered the perfect administrator around this area.

Before CG could say a word, Sardar Patel got up and sought an immediate appointment with Lord Vishnu. “Chitragupt Ji”, Sardar Patel said, “I am sorry i wont be able to help you in this matter right now. I have to submit an application for re-birth. I have to go back and resolve this situation. They are going to divide my country back into small pieces. All the work that I and my team had put in would be wasted. I can’t see this mess. I have to go. I will come back and help you out.”

In the blink of an eye, Sardar Patel was in front of Lord Vishnu’s gates. To his immense surpise the queue out there was bigger than what he had expected. Apparently, people who were demanding their own pieces of land were already there, submitting applications at the rate of lightning. Lord Vishnu’s secretary gave him the re-birth application form and a token number. Looking at the token number, Sardar Patel realized that it would take quite a bit of time before he can get back to his country and resolve the situation…also there was no way he could leave the queue and go back to help Chitragupt in resolving his issue.  So he decided to stand there, in the queue, waiting to be re-born and to re-unite the country where every one seemed to want their own share of land…

While he stands, awaiting his turn, India will also have to wait…it will have to wait for someone who can push the concept of unification rather than of dis-oriented splitting of states. I can only hope that the day is not too far off, because if it is, the scenario is not a pretty one. Afterall, it does not take too much time for “Swarg” to turn into “Nark”…

Another favorite Mithun moment…

Posted: December 4, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Just a quick thought…while surfing through television channels I came across another of Mithun da’s classic movies – “Maa Kasam”.

Obviously you wont be at fault, if you haven’t ever heard of this film…there are just too many to remember…and as Barney Stinson would say they are all…wait for it….. “legendary”

So here goes the opening scene of the movie…The villain…half white and half black haired, with dangerously wicked laughter and deadly associates is hitting the crap out of our bengali champion but is unable to get the required information from him…so he decided to use the ultimate weapon…a king cobra (whom he refers to as a bigger terrorist than himself…i hope the cobra community does not take offence and sue the film makers for this)…The cobra gives his best shot and strikes Mithun da hard…what happens next? Do you want to take a guess?

Well…unfortunately for the cobra, it chokes, and dies…yes and Mithun da is hale and healthy as always smiling away to glory..leaving the villain aghast with the ultimate question … “Tujhme aisa kya hai jo ye saanp bhi mar gaya” (what do you have that killed this snake)…Mithun da’s explanation was even more classic…apparently he and his mother were so poor that one day she bought a bit of poison for them, so that they can die…guess what…the mother dies and Mithun da does not..leaving him with a lifetime supply of anti poison particles in his blood…Classic right!!

My version of the snake’s death is the a little different. I believe the following thoughts were going through its mind before dying – “I am so fricken embarrassed to be in this fricken movie…i had big contracts earlier…have these idiots even seen Nagina and its awesome sequel Nigahein…i was the protagonist in both of those movies…and they give me such a degrading role here…I would rather die…yes..I would commit suicide by choking on my own poison to prove a point…”

Anyway…this goes into my list of “Favorite Mithun moments”…I would be very excited to read about your favorites too…Do post and enlighten the world with the hidden wisdom…spread the word…

Visiting Zombai – 2020

Posted: November 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

Disclaimer – Before someone gets offended, I would like to clarify that this article is a complete fabrication of my mind. There are times when I am unable to control the crap my mind doles out and thus I use this medium to clear my head. I would like to believe that all I have written here is fiction, and hope that it never comes true. I don’t even know what triggered these thoughts in the first place.

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I hate waking up early…even though my daily duties have forced me to abandon my beloved bed early in the morning, I still hate it. Today was one of those days when I had to wake up early, not to go to my office but to catch a 5:45 AM flight to Zombai; I had spent quite a bit of time and energy preparing for this trip so I got up reluctantly and started to make my last-minute preparations for the trip.

Traveling to Zombai these days is not as easy an affair as it was 15 years back. Things have changed dramatically (literally…there was a lot of drama). Before calling up the taxi to the airport, I made a final scan of all things in my travel bag:

  • A 2-day visa to Zombai
  • An address proof confirming that I have been living in Delhi for more than 10 years
  • Few packets of Maggi which were made in Megarashtra (had to ask my sisters who live in Zombai to courier me some)
  • A pair of shirts and 2 trousers both of which I had ordered from an online store in Zombai
  • My English to local language handbook.
  • Receipts of all of the above indicating that all items were indeed from Megarashtra, including the suitcase.

If the inventory above sounds confusing, you probably need some education. I dont want you to get into trouble when its your turn to visit Zombai.

Some 8 years back there were a few changes made to the constitution of India to include a few restrictions while traveling to Zombai and all cities of Megarashtra. These included:

  • A visa is needed to travel to any part of Megarashtra.
  • Only short-term visas (2-7 days) would be given to people from outside states to avoid them from settling down in the great state of Megarashtra
  • No one from UP or Bihar would be allowed in Megarashtra unless they have a valid proof indicating that they have been living in another state for   more than 10 years. (I am from UP, hence the certificate)
  • All entrants into the state must address the local people in the local language. Not doing so may attract a series of slapping exercises, which would involve a local hand and the entrant’s cheeks.
  • All items used while traveling to Megarashtra should be at least purchased in the state itself, if not manufactured there.

So as you can clearly see, I had to work pretty hard procuring things for my short trip to Zombai. Damn these business visits.

While traveling in the taxi to the airport the driver casually asked me where I was flying to. The concern on his face when I told him that I was traveling to Zombai was not too comforting. In fact, it reminded me of the time some 15 years back, when I was traveling to Australia amidst some cases of racial attacks on Indians. Not the best of the feelings anyways…

After getting to airport, one thing that I could clearly notice was the fact that all announcements for flights to any of the cities of Megarashtra were being made in their local language. Although I had a handbook with me, it was tough figuring out the gate to my flight and the boarding time. After struggling to find that piece of information and going through the security check in, I noticed some instructions in the local language, but I was in a hurry to board the flight and hence I ignored them.

The inside experience in the flight was a riddle in itself…all the instructions, the written ones and the ones being enacted by the air hostesses were in the local language only. I chose to sleep through most of it; I would have anyway not understood a thing.

There were a few more surprises for me as I moved out of the airport after landing in Zombai. Right outside the airport I saw a few people distributing sarees to all the ladies who were wearing western clothes. I asked someone casually why this was being done and they said that the flight instructions (the ones I chose to ignore) had clearly specified the kind of clothing that’s compulsory in Zombai…

Moving further ahead to the taxi stand I heard people discussing whether they should have been bold enough to protest the continuous ranting from one of the political parties about Sachin Tendulkar not being a true local. Sadly, even after more than 8 years of his retirement from cricket, people seem undecided on this topic. As I leant into the conversation hoping to provide a few inputs, I heard a roar from behind. Some people were moving towards me, in fact running towards me shouting something in the local language…I could only understand “UP…UP…” in all the commotion, but it was enough for me to start running the other way round…just a few steps ahead I hit an electricity pole hard and fell down…

As I got up rubbing my eyes, wondering whether these people were actually running after me, and also wondering if there was some special scanning system to identify people from UP, I realized that I was not on the street…I was in fact in my bed, dreaming…thank god.

Feeling a bit more relaxed and safe to be back in 2009, I turned on the television and started flipping through the news channels…as I continued, I immediately realized why I was dreaming the dream I had…it was still not funny though…not even a bit.

20 Saal baad…[bhi]

Posted: November 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

While everyone showers much deserved praise on Sachin, and while all the television channels go absolutely berserk showing his interviews and supplementing them with popular bollywood songs like “Baar baar haan(courtesy Lagaan)”, I thought I would write my own view point on the master- the man who seems to have a personal connection with every Indian whether he is on the field or off it, the man who has for the past 20 years re defined the art of batting, the man who has given a country much deprived of heroes someone to look up to, and the man who continues to shoulder the burden of more than a 100 million people and still does an awesome job at it. Sachin Tendulkar – You are a true genius.

I am writing this on the day when there are reports of some people being upset about Sachin calling himself an Indian first and then a Marathi. The reasons for creating an issue out of Sachin’s statement are best known to these people, but the fact that this news is being run on all the television news channels tells me that they were able to do what they wanted to. And of course, in terms of numbers, the moral brigade does so much better than Sachin will ever be able to…The number of buses burnt down by them would definitely be greater than Sachin’s one day runs, the count of public property vandalization might actually exceed his test runs, and obviously the number of Sachin’s tons are no where close to the number of laws these self proclaimed protectors have broken…so yeah, obviously they understand the marathi psyche much better than Sachin does…duh!!

Crap apart, my first memories of Sachin are those of him hitting Abdul Qadir for I don’t remember how many sixes, after Mr. Qadir allegedly said that this kid can’t do much against him (he was apparently hitting the bowler at the other end as well). Champion born? Thats what I thought with the very little cricket acumen I had then…but then I wasn’t wrong, was I?

Sachin has been entertaining the cricketing world since that day. I don’t think a blog post is enough to count the number of absolutely brilliant innings he has produced in this time. Whether its the innings when he opened for India in ODIs against New Zealand for the first time, or his brilliant test hundreds on his maiden Australia tour; whether its the awesomely cool last over that he bowled in the Hero cup semis when all was lost, to the ultra majestic desert storm double whammy in Sharjah, its been one heck of a ride.

Whats so special about him that makes the entire nation smile when he is on song and also makes them cry when he gets out? Why do we not feel the same kind of emotion for someone else in the team? The answer is the charisma of Sachin, his masterful batting along with his impeccable character, his almost untouchable pureness…years of batting, of facing criticism from the idiots (read “the so called television experts”) as well as some of his peers, of public scrutiny, and of the ups and downs in his own career haven’t been able to tarnish anything in him. He is still the same, the greatest sportsman of India and still as humble as he was when he started. But what defines Sachin more than any of this is the way time comes to a standstill when he goes out to bat, the way people fold their hands, close their eyes, and pray as hard as possible so that he scores yet another hundred. My personal best has been switching the TV off and going in an empty room praying with almost tears in my eyes that Sachin leads India to victory. This is what he does to India when he bats…that’s the magic of Sachin…at least for me…

There isn’t any doubt that it will not only be difficult but almost close to impossible to replace him when he decided to quit…but until he does so, can I just make a humble request to all the self proclaimed cricket experts on the zillion TV channels – Please shut the frick up and let us enjoy…let us enjoy the cricket of the man India is proud of.

Thank you Sachin for whatever you have done for cricket in India…take a bow.

Quick update: I cannot believe that NDTV is running a campaign called “Do you agree with Sachin’s sentiments”…Why do our news channels even bother publicizing such crappy news…un-fricken-believable.

I have to say that human mind is a fickle piece of crap..Before I end up offending anyone, its basically me I am talking about here…i actually dont give a crap about other people’s minds.

I still remember the day I started blogging..excited like a little child, I promised myself to keep this habit alive, not only because I enjoyed writing ( I have lately realized that I enjoy talking even more…the bull shit stuff of course, nothing serious), but also because I thought it would be awesomely cool to keep track of what my brain keeps churning…just in case I want to take a peek at my past when I am 60. There was of course the fact that blogging itself was the ‘in thing’ and almost everyone from the Big B to the much hyped ‘Fake IPL player’ were penning their asses down on the Internet. But then everyone falls for cool things…(ask my digital photo frame; it hasn’t seen a lot of light since I purchased it, but it was the ‘in thing’ when I did buy it… now I really don’t care)

So, with zillions of ideas in my mind, and a frick load of enthusiasm I started to blog, jotting down my thoughts and making sure that I carry on doing it. Initially I made it a point to try and write something almost everyday…having always been hugely inspired by Mr. Scott Adams, I also tried to introduce as much humor as my mind could possibly think of; at least my wife thought so (or she was just trying to make me happy)…the initial excitement withered quickly though, not because I was out of ideas or out of time, but probably because I didn’t receive the response I had expected when I started out. An easy argument for me to stop blogging was “no one is reading it…so why should I carry on”…and so, considering this as a strong enough reason, I did stop..

For the past month or so I have been itching to start writing again…to make things look different i exported my blog from ‘blogger’ to ‘wordpress’, but it didn’t help much. The only thing that changed was that my blog was earlier rotting on blogger and now it suffered a similar fate on wordpress. I think I was still looking for better reasons to re start. The reason came when I stumbled on one of the posts of GreatBong, a very very good blogger – http://greatbong.net/2009/08/09/five-bits-of-unsolicited-advice-for-bloggers/

I had always admired his style of writing, but this post was one of the most useful pieces of advice that i have ever read…and like i said in the beginning of the post my fickle human mind took a little comfort from this post of the GreatBong – http://greatbong.net/2004/12/21/why-oh-why/;.

Now that i am back to my blog, wiping of the dust and thinking of new ideas to bring it back to life, i feel the same sense of excitement as i did when i started…in the back of my mind though i still crave for attention…a little more than the last time…isn’t that always the case though…

The Dance of Indian Democracy

Posted: April 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

I have wanted to write this blog for a long time now, not only because I
haven’t written anything for almost half a year now, but also because it is
the ‘in thing’ right now…General Elections of the greatest democracy in the
world.

So is this going to be a multi part blog entry which lasts through the
length of the current elections…hmm..maybe yes…that’s what I’ll try, but I
haven’t been very successful in such endeavors earlier, so I wont bank on
it.

How did it all start for me? Well, it all began with these ad campaigns
that almost all tv and radio channels are carrying these days. With a
special reference to an imaginary ‘Mr. Pappu’, these advertisements have
had a huge impact, not only on me but on a whole lot of other folks who
like me would have never felt the need to go out and exercise their right
to vote. The impact was very much visible when I went to the mini
secretariat of Gurgaon to get my name registered for voting. Loads of
people had turned up that day to get their names in the electoral roll
(half of them must have been lazy bums like me, coz it was the last day of
registration). There were disappointments though, mostly because the “babu
log” operating the mini secretariat had close to “no” arrangements for the
increasing number of people eager to register themselves. They were doing
their jobs of course, but it looked as if they had never anticipated the
power of internet and TV campaigns; and they looked horribly under prepared
that day.

After struggling through an uncontrollable queue of enthusiastic first time
voters I was able to get to the front, only to realize that the dude
collecting the papers did not like my proof of address document. Well this
is how that lovely conversation went:

Dude: This is all you have as your address proof
Me: Yes, it was listed as a proof on the “Internet”(all this while
thinking, no I have my bloody house as well, come see for yourself)
Dude: Na, na…ye nahi chalega
Me: Kyoon boss, kya problem hai, “Internet” par to yahi likha tha
Dude: (totally bugged by me using “internet” twice within 2 minutes) Ye
internet wale kuch bhi likh dete hain; are Sharma ji..dekhiye ye chalega
kya…
Sharma Ji: Na, na…kuch aur ho to lao
Me: Abhi aapne meri wife ka yahi document accept kiya hai
Dude: Achha…kar liya kya…oho…chalo de do..par naam aayega nahi..humen kya
Me: Theek hai boss (What a relief)

Two things that I noticed from this sweet conversation above:
1. The dude was not happy with “Internet”, either because the sudden
surge of people trying to get themselves registered for voting
created extra work for him, or maybe because I had put “Internet’s”
word before his, and how can he be wrong.
2. The campaigns played an important part in making the people realize
the importance of voting, but for obvious reasons, they had absolutely no
control over how government machinery works.

I am still not sure whether my name would be there in the new voters list, partly because the dude at the secretariat did not ooze confidence about my chances, but also because the new list hasn’t been released as yet. Either ways, i think i did my best to vote this time around…if the system takes its course i should be voting pretty soon…and i’ll definitely cover that experience in the blog…