Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mom Turns Diamond...

Diamonds are prized for their beauty, durability, purity, strength, and sparkle (refraction). My Mom turns diamond today. But she was born with all of a diamond’s qualities and more... A textbook Indian mother, who can out-cook Top Chefs, out-pray monks, out-sacrifice martyrs, out-love God!  

Her culinary skill is of the level of legends! All through our childhood, we’ve always had people over for lunch and dinner. Usually, Dad’s colleagues who would drop in, feigning work and go home well fed J And she LOVES to cook. She can cook a lip smacking five-course meal in less than an hour. I have NEVER tasted better food (and I’ve been around quite a bit…).

Marriage to Dad, a man quite her contrast in personality, was the turning point in her life. Mom led a sheltered life before marriage. Dad was in Military Engineering Services, and would be posted to varied locations every now and then. It was Mom who took the decision to stay put in Kochi so that our studies weren’t affected. She was the one who would teach us and guide our homework and projects. To Dad, she is his pillar of strength. To us, she is so much more… She is our Mummy!

People, who meet her, like her in an instant. I think it’s her ability to empathize, her giving personality, her down to earth demeanor, her eagerness to delight, and did I mention – her culinary talent, that draw people to her. Never greedy, never jealous, never to lose her temper or composure (except the one time I came back home with a cut eyelid when I was eight…) she always had a calming influence on us (though it isn't that evident in me and my big sis). 

I guess when it comes to mothers, superlatives start to fail us. Nobody else could have turned me from a stammering boy to someone who has taken up public speaking for a living! She has THAT much love J Today, all I seem to be doing is thinking of her now, thousands of miles away, misty-eyed…

So, Ma, please accept this wish for A Very Happy 60th Birthday from Dada, Chechi, Kochu, Paulson, Anoop, Rohini, Leeona, Rianne, and me.

You are the answer to our prayers.

I wish that, like you, even I always have kind word to say, a fond memory of everybody, a tear for a sad story, a wet eye for a good joke, a smile for everyone… I wish I had your resilience and strength of character. I wish people would point at me and say, “There is a genuine nice guy”. (Who can cook like a boss!)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The unknown him...

He could have been your son. He could have been your brother. He could have been your husband. He could have been your father. But now, he is not by your side – his rightful place…

Chances are you have heard about him. Here’s his story anyway...

He was born to loving parents, the answer to their prayers. He was their hope, pride, and joy. He grew up with his sister who he loved and protected fiercely. He was always the one his friends counted on in their time of need. He was popular, but he handled it with a maturity that was rare for brats like him.

He was a strong young boy who never gave up. He grew up to stories of courage and bravery. He was a romantic at heart. But he never shed a tear when he heard of heroes who had laid down their lives for his country. In fact, he secretly envied them. He confided in his friends that he wanted to be a soldier…

His friends tried to talk sense into him. There’s no money, no freedom, no family life, and certainly no comfort, they said. They told him that the only certainty in his career of choice was a bullet with his name on it. And that he would die young, away from his loved ones for a thankless country that will soon forget him.

He could not be swayed. To him, his country was his mother and it was his duty to protect her. He was surprised that his friends didn’t feel the same way. But he did not grudge them, because it was his duty to protect them. And he believed that his country is not thankless.

He volunteered to become a soldier. He spent three grueling years in the academy to become an officer. It was the proudest day for his family to see the apple of their eye in uniform – An officer and a gentleman. His father’s chest swelled with pride, his mother’s eye wet with tears, his sister’s face glowed radiant seeing him march. That was a sight he would never forget.

He spent the next few years in the jungles, in deserts, in snow, in marshes, in combat, in training. As a Para commando, he excelled in sea and in the air. On the rare occasions he would visit home, he would be overjoyed to meet his friends – writers, poets, bankers, managers, NRIs even – and reveled in their successes. He would hear them crib about their air conditioners not being effective, the quality of soup in their canteens, the hour-long commute to work, about the money being far less for the amount of work they did, about bosses who didn’t appreciate them… He thought back to the -50 to 50 degree temperature ranges he was exposed to, the joy of just having time to eat whatever rations were packed for him, the unending marches in hostile environments, about the joy of seeing the meager salary in his account, and of his bosses who bent him till the fraction before he would break… He smiled, knowing he would never want to trade lives with them! And he believed that his country is not thankless.

His mother started pestering him to find a girl. His sister’s friends vied for his attention. His father told him every day that he was never more proud in his life. He knew that he had achieved everything he’s set out to. Only one wish remained… But he had to leave, his holidays cut short because his unit was called into combat. This time, he held his sister a second longer, hugged his mother a moment more, and took a deeper breath before his father’s customary bear hug. But this time, when he turned away from them, his eyes were moist, his heart heavy…

A month from then, his unit was under fire from a group of terrorists. As usual, he led his men calmly into battle. But this was no war… It was a group of cowardly men who used deception and who attacked from the shadows. They followed no code. He grouped his men into formation and took point himself. He tracked down the enemy cell and in keeping with his moral code, fired warning shots and asked them to surrender. They responded with indiscriminate gunfire and explosives. He caught a bullet in his neck. His only concern was to save his fellow officer, who was also shot. He did not want his buddy subjected to the usual treatment they reserved for the Indian Army.

He took a long breath to calm down the adrenaline that was surging inside him. He raised his automatic, fired two shots – each finding its mark and dropping two enemies. He then proceeded to aid the extraction of his fallen fellow officer and friend. The first reaction he had was to ascertain that the rest of his men were safe. By then he had lost a lot of blood. He knew his time had come and he was proud to have gone out serving his motherland. He closed his eyes.

His life flashed before him, his mother’s cuddle as a toddler, his father’s strong finger that he gripped to walk, his joy on seeing his baby sister. His first bike, his first crush, his academy, the passing-out, his first parachute jump, his best friends… He knew they were wrong. He knew that his country will remember his sacrifice. He knew that his death was not in vain. He knew that his country was not thankless. As he felt his life slipping away from him, he remembered his last goodbye to his family. And that was the image that stayed with him…

It’s been about a decade now. The world moved on, the countries declared a temporary (and farcical) cease-fire, and his sacrifice was buried as a statistic. Only a few people think about him today.

His sister misses her best friend, and the arrogance and pride and the feeling of invincibility she had when he was around. She misses the fights, she misses the treats, and she misses the only man who ever loved her unconditionally. Her only wish is that he’d fulfilled his promise to take care of her… forever.

There is not a single day his mother does not miss him. She knew from the instant that she felt his life stirring in her womb that he would, one day, make her very proud. Her only wish is for just another day with him. To ruffle his hair, see him smile, to cajole him to eat another morsel, to watch him sleep, to hear him breathe, to…

His father’s friends brag about their NRI sons, the Rolexes they’ve gifted, the cars they’ve bought, the money they are making. His father wouldn’t have traded a billion of those for him. His father’s only wish is another minute with him, to be able to tell him once more how proud he is.

His family does not want our sympathy. Because more than the loss they feel, they feel pride. They wish you said a silent prayer for him. Just once. And they still believe that his country is not thankless.

I have been AWOL from this blog for more than two years. There were many interesting events that happened and I had thought more than a few times about writing a post. Somehow, nothing was as compelling as a two-minute chat with the sister of Major Udai Singh and later with my wife about the glory of serving your country and how my life’s ambition for a long time was to be him… He is among the lakhs of soldiers who have laid down their lives for us – names on a wall somewhere... 

However, each of them – men and women – was the whole world to their loved ones. They live ever day with the hope that we realize the ultimate sacrifice made by their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers …

If my stars hadn’t conspired against me, I would’ve been one of them. And though I believe in a life without regrets, this is the only one I have nursed for a long time.

I dedicate this post to the memory of Major Udai Singh who embraced the ultimate sacrifice for us, this exact day (November 29), nine years ago. And to the soldier who at this very moment is standing between you and the enemy’s bullet.

Major Udai Singh, SC, SM, 1974-2003
Major Udai Singh, SC, SM

Forever we shall remember,
Those that have not returned,
For freedom is never given,
But in blood it is always earned.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Imprudent Generation…

Thinking – such a waste of time! This has become the catch-word that Hero Honda banked on to revive the fortunes of the new CBZ – the CBZ Xtreme.

Kajol: Yeh sochne-wochne ka kaam mujhse nahi hota. Shukar hai is ghar mei koi toh intelligent hai!

Ajay: Thank you Jaanu.

Kajol: Mai tumhari nahi, humaare Whirlpool (AC or Fridge… I forget which) ki baat kar rahi hoon.

Loose translation – K: Can’t seem to get myself to think. Thankfully, there’s someone intelligent at home

A: Thanks babes.

K: Not you. I’m talking about the (random) Whirlpool (thingie) This is the latest advertisement for (random) Whirlpool product-line.

The new and disturbing trend in the ad industry – Moronizing the consumer.

I was a kid when advertisements were more focused on educating the customers (Dabur, Nirma, Melodie, etc.). Then the advertisements moved on to entertaining the customer. It used to be difficult, but I could still see some connect. I was even okay when it was just the old-school ‘demeaning the consumer’ trend. “You there… yeah you, the fugly dark babe/dude… improve your self-esteem with this fairness product” type of advertisements. Or, the “hey assface, get laid with this deo” kind of placement worked too…

But admitting that no carbon-based life form in your household has an IQ more than a random appliance is below the belt. Though the actors definitely look the part and obviously have no qualms admitting the fact, I take offence. As a Homo Sapien, that is. It is strangely, but surely comforting that you command the brown/white appliances at home. After a hard day’s work there is nothing more comforting than coming back home and relaxing, assured in the knowledge that your gadgets, fixtures, and appliances will obey your every command. They cool your room, chill your drink, heat your meal, play your music and all that.

I’d hate to be one of the people who can’t do that. Is that why they dispense all the pent-up aggression at work? Because their IQ is lower than an inanimate household item?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indian Putrid League…

Q: What happens when a petty dimwit, who leads a hugely successful franchise, faces off with a suave lobbyist?

A: Crap hits the fan!

Welcome dear friends to a side-act that seems to be dominating India’s richest circus – Indian Premier League. IPL, as it is better known, started as an idea by the Indian cricketing legend Kapil Dev, to hone the cricketing talent of the country. At a time when India’s cricketing board considered T20, the shortest format of the game to be just a fad, Kapil Dev created the Indian Cricket League (ICL) with private sponsors. The event was an instant success for the cricket-hungry nation with international players mentoring upcoming Indian cricketers and enthralling crazed fans.

Enter Lalit Modi, who convinces the BCCI (Indian Cricket Board) that with the Indian team winning the 2007 T20 world cup, the fad is here to stay. For a plan to cash-in on the rush, Lalit Modi revisits the ICL plan, Cntrl+A, Cntrl+X, Cntrl+V. Viola! IPL is born. He then resorts to the cheap tactic of banning all Indian players in the ICL from representing the country. Trivializes Kapil Dev’s efforts and gets the ICC (International Cricketing Council) to discredit the ICL. What happens to ICL? Shift+Del!

What followed were two hugely successful seasons that cashed in on two evergreen passions of the Indian Man – Cricket and White Babes. The IPL wants more and invites bids for two new teams. Team Pune and Team Kochi offer whopping amounts of USD 350M and USD 333M for their teams, and win the bid. The Kochi bid is put together by Rendezvous sports, a bunch of unrelated parties brought together by Dr. Shashi Tharoor, an erudite politician from Trivandrum. Suddenly, something.

What follows is a developing story and the plot, sub-plots, characters, locales, and political affiliations will change. Continuously, randomly.

Act 1. The Kochi franchise’s papers are returned, citing lack of paperwork as the reason. As any Indian will know, the next logical thing is to slip a fiver into the babu’s pocket. The franchise, rather than slipping a fiver in the pocket, spends time, money, and energy in compiling paperwork.

Act 2. Modi tweets about irregularities in the partnership and attacks Shashi Tharoor personally, and insinuating his financial interest in the franchise. He also confesses to having received a call from Tharoor asking him to ‘back off’ from the scrutiny of the Kochi team’s papers.

Act 3. Dr Tharoor tweets ‘I’ve had enough” and issues a press release. He refrains from any personal attacks, but his aides and confidants do not. They publish Modi’s past in the US as a cocaine peddler, kidnapper, and assaulter. (?!)

Act 4. The Kochi team challenges Modi to disclose the ownership patterns of all teams. This supposedly caused a minor tremor in Lahore, where the ‘Bhai’ is living off ISI’s money and hospitality. (Any Indian company is only legitimate if the ‘Bhai’ has a stake in it.) Tharoor receives a threat SMS from the ‘Bhai’ (which will be eventually traced to some wannabe dumfuk) and his security is beefed up.

Act 5. Another disclosure linking Modi to a model and a probable casting pitch(?) scandal raises eyebrows. Modi is asked by the BCCI to stop tweeting and not make further comments (till they receive their share?) until the matter is sorted.

Act 6. BJP demands Tharoor’s resignation. (Again, this is the only logical conclusion for any problem.)

Update: April 18, 2010

Tharoor quits his post as a minister in the external affairs ministry.

Update: April 21, 2010

The BCCI and IPL governing council suggest Modi's exit. The defiant Modi refuses to go down

Disclaimer: My being a Mallu doesn’t necessarily mean that I am a fan of Tharoor by default. I honestly think that he should quit politics, since the political scene is not yet ready for a class act like him. IMO, it is his skill as a lobbyist that put a motley crew together to bid for a team. Moreover, even in the unlikely event that he has a financial stake in the outfit, isn’t it better than having underworld connections and other assorted mafia links? I’m really curious to see how Modi will come out of this…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ancient, Orthodox, Walker...

I sometimes wonder if I belong to a different time and age… And it’s not just my creaking bones that make me wonder that. There are a lot of things around me that continue to reinforce my belief. Let’s take fashion, for instance…

I identify with a school of thought where women look like women and men look like men. Flip through any fashion channel or magazine now, and all you will find is women with the structure of underfed pre-teen boys and men, like they’ve just been let off a concentration camp. And they both look like they’ve lost the will to live. Seriously! Is that what passes off as sex appeal these days?

And why would any legally sane person EVER want to be a size zero? What does that mean anyways? To the best of my reasoning, it could mean the size of the wearer’s brain! Why would anyone actually pay money to look anorexic? And what kind of demented folks prefer such people? Or has mutation given the new generation some kind of convex vision? Or worse – has age given me concave vision?

Whatever be the reason, there goes my dreams of becoming a supermodel! Not that it will, in anyway, come in the way of my world-domination ambitions by becoming a God-man, but still… We all like a little fan following, don’t we?

But there are still a few things that, in my mind are divided by gender. I hope this table illustrates two categories of what (most people in) my generation identify with the sexes…





All cosmetics


After shave, Cologne, Vaseline, Talcum powder


Lipstick, Foundation, Rouge…

NOT Masculine


Skirts, blouses, tank-tops, things, saris, capris, hot pants, gowns, dresses…

Feminine (Actually women look good in anything)

Pants, shirts, tees, jeans, kurtas

Masculine (refer above too)

Men should realize that UNLIKE women, they WILL look funny wearing anything out of the above table (let’s keep regional preferences like dhotis, loincloths, etc. out of this). And that there is a fine line that divides the metrosexuals from the effeminate. I am not homophobic, but the trend of men doing their eyebrows and stuff unsettles me… And so do men or women with a lack of personal hygiene… I hope I’m making sense to you, because sometimes, I can’t understand myself. Especially in such cases. I try and simplify it to myself by saying that a Man should look like a Man and a Woman should look like a Woman.

And yes, what started this was the sight of a guy in a car, doing make-up in the morning traffic of Mumbai. Honestly, I failed to decide then – which was more pathetic.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scheduled Role Reversal...

I pride myself on being able to watch movies the wrench the hearts out of the heartless without shedding a single tear. I am so emotionally detached watching TV, that I make fun of my wife/mother/sister/friend if they even as much as sigh during an emotional patch…

As a kid, my Mom’s biggest threat used to be that one day, I will become like those I make fun of. I now realize that the day is fast approaching. Again!

In a strange role-reversal of sorts, I used to be the one who used to stare at the TV, teary-eyed and heartbroken, while my wife used to exact her revenge by making fun of my heroes! And I’m afraid, the time is at hand again…

The 2010 sporting season for me begins on March 12 with the IPL. It carries on till the end of November with the football world cup and Formula 1. And I’m going to be an emotional wreck this year!

It will start with IPL3 where my team, the Deccan Chargers hope to defend their title from last year. Year one saw them at the bottom of the table. At that time, there were only TWO DC fans in the whole world – Pratibha and I. While the whole world mocked us, we held our heads high. When IPL2 started, the same non-believers came back to hound us, and to them I now say- “Who’s your daddy NOW?”.

It was easier last year since any position other than the last was an improvement, and even if they came last, we could claim to be consistent. Not so this year… I’m going to stay off fat and protein.

Same with the Azzuri. My favorite team since I started following the world cup in Mexico ’86. The Italians had the X-factor. I was obviously too young to realize that then, I supported them because their flag was the closest to India’s. But my support never wavered and my love for the Azzuri survived the Maradona, and Ronaldo eras. While my friends dreamed about Bollywood, I used to idolize Toto, Baggio, Maldini, Del Piero, Cannavarro, and the likes. Not that I disliked other teams, I would always have a step team to support. But my heart always beat with the Azzuri…

And then, the most painful of my sporting indulgences – Formula 1. My affair with the sport began in 1998, the Mika Hakkinen era. The battles between Mika and Michael Schumacher kept the season interesting. Despite losing the championship that season, I started favoring Ferrari. I was in awe of the scarlet car and everything associated with it, including Schumi.

1999 was disappointing after Michael’s Silverstone accident and thereafter missing five (or was it six) races… But he came back in Malaysia and how! He virtually held up the entire race for Eddie Irvine, who finished first and Ferrari were the champs that year. They went on to dominate the next six years, which honestly were not as exciting with no one to challenge Schumi.

A lot has happened since then, Force India entered F1 in 2008 and took a bite out of my loyalty to Ferrari. Schumi retired, Ferrari became champs again… But this year, things are not so pleasant for me. Schumacher makes a comeback and races for team Mercedes. Alonso and Massa pilot the Ferrari, Karun Chandok becomes the second Indian F1 driver…

Things are not going to be easy this time either…

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wake Up Walker...

This morning, Ajita walks up to me and asks – How is ‘Rahul Mahajan ka Swayamvar’? That was when I realized that I became the Kannagi Ohlsson of the blog world. Not good! That is not the reality. The reality is this:

My name is Walker, and I am not a Bollywood star!


It seems that these days, if you have to be somebody worth anything in India, you gotta be a Bollywood star. That, my friends, is the new Indian identity. My barf reflexes started building up from the first time I saw PMS – Phir Mile Sur – for the first time on Jan 27. At the grave risk of being labeled a misogynic, insensitive, b@$***d (or MIB), the song induces a PMS in me and I pity myself for choosing a career that mandates competence. I am now a lesser citizen, who will never be appreciated unless I land a role in the movies…

And once that happens, no matter what I do or say, I will always have people to support any nonsense I say… I already have a blog and a twitter ID, so those are checked. All I have to do now is arrange for a lobotomy so that I will not, even by accident, say or do anything intelligible or logical. No one even raises an eyebrow about the stupid things I do.

Case in point – the most prolific star India has known. I have lost count of the political asses he has kissed. Starting from the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party… Even Deve Gowda’ obscure party! Fans pant, bank swells…

Another case – the MC Hammer of Indian cinema. Owns a sport franchise, doesn’t bid for any players who come from the ‘Best Neighbor’. Then cries about it. There is an uproar, and (wink) his upcoming movie gets dragged into it. The ever-faithful Mainstream Media swarms to the story like pigeons to grain. Fans pant, bank swells…

So I am torn between my future as a God-man and that of being a star. Well, I would REALLY like a cult following, but I would also like to be on some edition of the Mile Sur series… Even the upcoming one with Rakhi Sawant, Himesh, Rahul Mahajan, Pritam, KRK and other ‘accomplished’ Indians will do. Till that happens, I would not have ‘arrived’, and I definitely want to ‘arrive’.

I also need to learn the subtle art of practising inanity while not compromising on my conceit...

In the meantime, I plan to watch MNIK and rent Chhahat and Ram Jaane to up my acting skills.

P.S.: I have no issues with the real talents like ARR, Anoushka, Amjad Ali, Zakir Hussain, Yesudas, and the others. I lose when I see Bollywood/Kollywood/Tollywood/Tiger Wood/WTFwood ham. ARR is a great singer and they didn’t let HIM sing… gave hime a fekkin fingerboard. The revulsion I feel about the PMS video could fill volumes…