Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Memorable Day of My Life - A Personal Blog - Part 1

“Poor boy, you look so nice and good, why had fate been so cruel to you ?”, asked an old lady as I was waiting below the only tree outside the visa consulate office in Chennai.
I had never seen her in my life and neither did she know me. I was standing for almost an hour, abled by my crutches and holding on to all my documents needed for the interview. And she was selling flowers just close by there. I didn’t know what to reply her with as I was reminded of one more such question long back.
“So are you ‘really’ going to go to the U.S and live there alone ? Are your parents too allowing you to do this ?”, asked the watchman outside the exam centre for G.R.E. He too had seen me struggling and waiting for about 3 hours outside the building.
A fight with them or a talk against them would have been of no use. They’d think “As such he is disabled. And adding to that look at how egoistic and talkative he is. Guess that is the reason he is disabled. No wonder God punished him.” Such is the attitude of most people. Fight by a disabled brews hatred, silence brews gossip and overcoming the difficulties sympathy.
I thought I would write about them in some forum or some magazine. But then writing in disabled forums, after being silent infront of those two people, would be an insult that I would be inflicting on a fellow being from their backs. And i didn't want to do that.
Inside me I was fuming then and wanted to shout, “Why the hell on earth are you bothered of my fate and dreams ?”. But then if i do that, she'd say that she was only expressing her sympathy and niceness to me while I inturn was being rude to her !
So, I thought I should follow my words i once wrote in my blog. I thought i would convert her statement into a morale booster and become even more passionate about what I want. I smiled at her and moved on. She was happy that I felt her ‘sympathy’ for me and wished me all the best.
I got my Visa an hour later and made preparations for journey back to Hyderabad from Chennai. I wanted to see the old lady and boast to her of my success but she was no where to be seen.
That evening though, while returning in the train, I was wondering what if I didn’t get the visa. I was wondering what would have happened not only to my life but also to my attitude with regard to the old lady. Would I have wished to see her ? Would I have smiled at her when I returned with a failure too ? “Certainly not, you are no angel”, said my mind ! “Had you not got the visa, you’d have atleast said a couple of scathing words at her on seeing her and got off your anger and disappointment on her. And that infact would have actually helped a few people like you who’d face her in the future even if it meant you were bad. And now, this visa of yours is only a ticket for her to commit further sins and a chocolate to a crying baby in you that was hurt by her words but on seeing the chocolate is trying to forget it.”
“Hmm. I’ll not let that happen. Like people break coconuts at the temples, I promised myself that day that I’d do one act for people like me who had to face people like her. I’ll prove and at the same time make everyone see the proof that I am worth no less and that it was her fate actually which made her question me on my disability while overlooking her own state. ”, I thought.
I came to the U.S. very well remembering the promise I made to myself. I had to prove that I was worth the dream as well make people see it.
So, as three months passed and as I was well settled here apart from earning a contract of research scholarship for my studies, I thought I should start to work on my promise.
I thought i would write, write elaborately and write passionately against people for their attitudes towards the disabled. But then I was damn very sure that no one would read it purely for its length and that it’d not have the impact I promised myself to make. It would be like I attempted and intended to fulfill my promise but failed in its execution.
So words will not work. I told myself.
I had to make a hard hitting statement. Something which without saying anything says everything. Not only about me but also people like me. Something I thought that’d show the world through actions and not words what I and every disabled person was at heart – Courageous, risk taking, loveable, sensitive, caring, daring and full of life.
And I was looking for one act that would summarize and show it all. That was when I came across the advertisement for skydiving. An act that would require a person to take a flight from Chicago, U.S.A., go upto 14000 feet in air and tied to another person, jump out from the plane falling freely for about 12000 feet before pulling the parachute to land.
“That is exciting”, I thought. “And that would make everyone see what I wanted them to see ! A Courageous, Risk taking, Daring and full of life Sai”

One Memorable Day Of My Life - A Personal Blog - Part 2

So, 24 hours from the time I saw that ad, I called up those people, arranged for an appointment for the weekend. I had got my medical certificates ready in case any people object to it on medical grounds. It was as if I was on a mission.

After I met them up on the said appointment date, the people involved in skydiving said that its only the people in the army/those are physically very fit and fine having regular exercise, diet and stuff, who are eligible to do it and any other person would be risking his/her life. I said I’ll go ahead no matter what but then also told them that i wanted the entire act to be video taped. After many objections including a few from my own parents and several statements of guarantee from me stating that I was doing it on my own risk and willingness, my mother’s birthday 21st of june 2008 was fixed as the date for the act.

On that day, at 4 in the morning, me and a group of my friends here took a car and travelled about 150 miles to a place close to Chicago. An awesome journey that was ! Full of vibes, energy and fun. We played loud rock music to pump my adrenalin up and all through the journey were shouting our throats out with fun for what was about to happen.

We arrived in the field of play at 6 30 in the morning. The team that I was supposed to fly with was already there. The temperature was around 5 C in the open. But having experienced the winter of Madison which had temperatures of -10 C on average throughout the year, it was like summer afternoon.

So, me and my friends had high fives before I was dressed up for the act. An Indian flag was handed over to me by my friend for the occasion. The team that I was supposed to fly and jump with was also at its perfect best. They professionally checked, double checked, triple checked and cross checked every equipment that’d be involved in the act. The slightest error could prove fatal and I knew it too.

And at 9 in the morning, all was set. I was dressed up in blue and in a way that’d represent some astronaut. My friends accompanied me till the plane, pushing me in my wheelchair. I was lifted into it and made to squat. My legs, which serve no other purpose except making me photogenic, were tied together. I was asked to rethink my decision again and I refused to back out. So all was set.

At 10 00 a.m. precisely, the flight took off. And within minutes me and my team of professional skydivers and video recorders were up at about 15000 feet traveling at 500 miles per hour. The team asked if I was ready to take the plunge and asked me to have a look out of the window to see what I am up against. I saw the borders of three states beautifully lined, green fields and what my act would mean to those people who are laughed at for their dreams. I said “Let’s go !”. There were claps all around.

And in a few seconds, I was at the tip of the plane’s door with my friend. He asked me what I was feeling. I said “On top of the world !”. And he replied “You must be a psycho” :)

The plane was traveling at almost 600 mph now skywards. I was staring at three states for records and literally the whole world ! My heart was pumping blood with a pressure of some water flood and I could feel it. The winds were hitting me like a tornado would be hitting a house. And I was ready to be blown off. It was a strange sense of peace, love, happiness and thrill.

“We are ready to jump !” my teammate said and even as I could hear that completely, he jumped.

And there I was feeling like a bird. Shouting my heart, out of the excitement I was in. Shouting my mind, out of the anger which made me to do it. Shouting my love out to my mom, who was celebrating her birthday and had no clue as to how I was wishing her that day. Shouting my pain out at the way the world was indifferent to the sufferings of a fellow being. Shouting my frustration out at the way people kill a person’s dream with Gossip, back talking and a sardonic smile. Shouting at the injustice meted out since centuries to people like me.

The free fall continued for 9 minutes. The winds blowing at 500 MPH were tearing the skin out of my face. All this was being video recorded and photographed.

We were 2000 feet above the ground now. I could see the entire city of Chicago with just a glance. I saw Lake Michigan and it was as beautiful as Asin, my favourite heroine. :) I chuckled to myself at that thought even as we were fast hitting the ground and any malfunctioning in the next step would mean I would become history rather than creating one !

My team mate was in the heights of excitement. He asked me if I was ready to pull in the parachute as we were some 1500 feet above the air. I said yes. And he asked me to go ahead. I pulled the lever for it and it was as if I had put sudden brakes to a car that had traveled at some 100 mph. I was experiencing a tremendous pull of weight and me going up rather than falling down. The sudden pull hurt my back but I managed to hold my nerve as I handed over the lever to my friend.

And what happened from there on was, is and will remain one of the most romantic moments of my life. We were literally standing still at about 1000 feet and it felt God to be still, above the world, watching the toy cars, watching the rush people were in to go to their offices, watching my friends who were in anxiety about what’d happen to me, thinking of my mom who had no clue what I was doing and being myself in what I was doing.

And through all these, My friend maneuvered the parachute and we swirled our way to the ground. One metre of swirling would cover 10’s of kilometers of the windy city. And it certainly was windy today, I thought !

And at about 50 feet above the ground, when it wasn’t as exciting as the free fall and when I knew that all had gone tremendously well, I was waiting for us to reach the ground and celebrate it all.

As we moved down further, I could now see my friends waiting eagerly. We would be there in a few seconds. Me and my friends saluted the flags we were with and at the video camera.

And 12 minutes after I was at the tip of the plane, top of the world, heart racing with love, frustration, anxiety, anger, expectations and adventure, I was at the ground having fulfilled a promise I made myself an year back.

My friends congratulated me and we had high fives again. We started celebrating even as the video was being played on my laptop. We had group photographs taken and began our journey back home. And thus one of the most memorable days of my life ended.
I wished my Mom a happy birthday later that evening passing her the video over the internet and as i did that I thought of the old lady and the watchman who once asked me of my fate and abilities, wondering if I can share the fairy tale day with them.

Hereby providing the links to the photographs of the event as well as the video of it :)


Video-1 : The Jump

Video-2 : The landing

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Thing I Am Most Ashamed Of !

The softness of the falling snow was as gentle as the hand of a new born child. The chillness of the cruelly cold but fresh as dew wind blowing into my eyes brought tears to the same. My IPOD was humming the "Yeh tumhari meri baatein" song from ROCK ON. As I was waiting for the bus, through the foggy environment and the falling snow, my university campus looked like heaven on earth.

Amidst all this, my mind was filled with a strange sense of pride. “Sai, you are living one of the best lives on the planet”, thought my mind egoistically.

“Thank you God, Thank you for everything you have given me”, Said my heart humbly.

Listening to the words of my heart, my mind had obtained a teasing thought.

“Hey heart, I want you to ask something today !”, Said my mind.
“And what is that my dear ?”, asked my heart.
“What is that one thing you are most ashamed of yourself ?”, asked my mind to the heart.

On hearing it, my heart was silent for a few minutes.

“Why don’t you answer ? Is it that there is nothing that you are ashamed of ? If that is the case, do tell me the same too !”, demanded my mind proudly and quickly.

“Hmm, naa dear. There is something that I am very ashamed of. But I’m wondering if you’ll be able to face it when I say it !”

“Well, I have put up with you for 23 years my heart and so you know I can face anything and everything. Whatever it is, come out with it ! I want to know what is that you are most ashamed of !”, replied my mind.

“Hmm, if that is the case, then know it. The thing that I am most ashamed of is unfortunately the thing that you are the most proud of at the moment. And that thing is – YOUR EDUCATION !”

“ What ! Are you in your senses ? You say that my education is what you are ashamed of ! I know you are crazy and know no sense but then this is just too much ! You are crossing your limits. How did you even dare to say something about my education ! Can’t you feel the happiness we both got out of education ? We are in one of the best universities in the world ! Education is what got us friends, Education is what got us name in the society, Education is what brought mom and dad here to the U.S., Education is the reason Preethi proudly tells her friends I am her brother, Education and classes is what people ask about me whenever they see me. Education is what brought us comforts and everything. My Education is the reason our stomach is full and has strength to withstand this snow. And you say that it is the thing you are most ashamed of. You are a Namak Halal ”, shot back my mind.

“ Hmm, I may be one. But my dearest educated mind, did you ever think that all your education gave you was a method to earn a living but not a method to live life ? ”, asked my heart.

“What ? What do you mean ?”, demanded my mind.
“Dear, I mean what I say. Your education has taught you to earn a living but not live a life. It has taught you the fear of failure but not the joy in learning. Jealousy drives you more than passion. Happiness for you is only your success. And worse success for you is only and only your success. The thing that you are the most proud of is the thing that would not let you sleep in the nights. The thing that you are the most proud of is also the thing you are the most uncomfortable doing. On a beautiful, lovely day of your life when you should be jumping out of the bed to live and love, you are worried that it has dawned and hate it putting the pillow over your head.”, replied my heart.

“That’s a lie. Prove it !”, said my mind.

“Dear, you know too that it isn’t a lie. But anyways, fear of failure, Jealousy over others’ success, tiredness over done work, Worry about the coming future, laziness about the impending work, hatred while doing the same are all feelings, and feelings my dear, belong to my department”, Said my heart.

“Hmm, well its cut throat competition out there and I’m doing what only everyone does !”, defended my mind.

“Ya, I know dear. I know its cut throat competition and that is why I am very ashamed of it. Because something as sacred as education has been turned into a battle field. And today when you were boasting your success in it, I felt you are nothing but successful murderer in this battle and felt ashamed of the same !”, said my heart as it continued.

“In our place, 7 I.I.Ts and 6 I.I.Ms are considered the elite places to be. About a million students compete for the same every year. Those who get there are considered THE BEST. The others are left to live with the stigma of failing to get there ! They are forced to underrate their own abilities by people around them. That means year after year, year after year out of a million students, 5000 students are branded as the best and the others are made to feel as B-Grade movies and forced to run a marathon race for life. That again means, we are undermining and killing the potential of 99 % of the country’s youngest and most talented potential !"

"My dear, I do not understand how can failing to get into one particular college within limited time/age make a person less in interest, enthusiasm and passion than others ? Did he/she not have the interest to study and put in the effort ? Just because our country could not provide more number of I.I.T and I.I.M type quality institutes does not mean people who do not get there aren’t as worthy as those who get there ! And thus when 95 % of our country’s youth is not happy with the quality of education they get and are left to feel jealous & unworthy because of the rest 5 %, how do you think that youth will make a difference ? As i said, all this education has managed to do separate people as unique and different rather than actually encouraging them to create any difference ! And even those unique and different, all they manage to do is to earn the highest amount of money in the shortest possible time for the greatest respect of people around them ! And that is why I said, this education that you have, is one that has created a battle field and a race to earn a living than create a desire to have life and fight for the betterment of it ! And your success in it is like a soldier succeeding in killing a fellow person and in this case your own brother/sister so that you can have a greater comfortable and respectable life. As i keep saying you have an education that has taught you a method to earn living than method to live life”

“So, what do think education teaching us a way of life can do ?”, asked my mind.

“I need not answer the same. You know it too ! Dear, such an education will teach people to make a difference rather than just being different.”

“And what do you mean by making a difference and being different ?”, asked my mind.

“Hmm.. Dear, imagine you have an important examination tomorrow morning. You have worked hard for it for about a month. You know and have a thorough knowledge of the subject and will definitely do great in the exam as well as work related to it. And yet on the on the way to the exam, if you see someone lying in a pool of blood on a road due to a serious accident and have no one to help around, will you go to the exam or will you help the person out ?”, asked my heart.

My mind was silent in response to the question.

“That is why I am most ashamed of your education !”, replied my heart.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My India - The Best Country ? - Part 1

Almost an year into my Stay away from my India, I decided I’ll finally feel the question that has been pounding my heart ever since my departure from there.

“Sai, do you think my India is really the best country in the world ?”, my heart asked.

“hahaahaa, What sort of a funny question is this ? And don’t you know my reply, especially when I know that there is every chance that you are going to write a blog out of it whenever you ask such questions ? Come on yaar, India is India ! It is the best no matter what. India rocks man !”, replied my mind.

“Be honest”, asserted my heart.

“Come on dear, Did you not eat the salt of India for 23 years ? And just an year away from our place and you think you are a maha thope who can question the greatness of a country which has a 5000 year culture, which has given the world the Vedas, which is the root of all humanity in the world, which has never invaded another country in its history, which is tolerance personified, moral values exemplified and family values personified ?”, said my mind.

“Don’t you think we are just a little too over glorified ?” asked my heart.

“You are provoking me dear ! You are supposed to be very kind in nature but only I know that when it comes to arguments with me, you are the most cruel and ruthless. The world calls you a conscience for your ruthlessness but will call me a selfish person with a cunning ‘mind’, someone with no values and someone who has forgotten his roots too soon on speaking the truth. Its unfair yaar. So, no more arguments. INDIA IS THE BEST. Anyways, aren’t you an Indian yourself too ? Don’t you know what to feel when such a question is asked ? Why do you even ask me ? :( You are an Indian and you have to feel yourself as the best whenever such thoughts come and trust me you are too ! Please be patriotic and faithful to the salt you ate”, finished my mind.

“Yes dear, you are very true. If you think patriotism as a thought that your country is the best in the world just because YOU were born in it, then my India is the BEST. And no second thoughts about it. But don’t you think such a patriotic thought of calling YOUR country as the best just because YOU were born there in it, is just another form of ego ? An ego that is concealed by a beautiful name ? And anyways, as of now, just between us, I am asking you to answer it with a real patriotic feeling not a patriotic thought ! ”, said my heart.

“Patriotic feeling ? What’s the difference between patriotic thought and patriotic feeling ?” asked my mind.

“Patriotic thought is to ‘think’ that your country is the best in the world no matter what just because YOU were born in it ! It is protecting and defending your right to think so. Patriotic feeling is to ‘feel’ that your country must become the best and start working towards making it if it is not ! And you can only work towards making it the best only when you accept it isn’t and see where it isn’t ! So, unless you let me know that it isn’t and start working towards it, please do not think you have patriotic feelings. You are just being egoistic as ever ! You only have patriotic thoughts and not patriotic feelings. Anyways no more talking about this. Go ahead, think India is the best” Said my heart.

“Heyyy, What’s this ! What sin did I commit that makes you always torture me in such ways ! Please do let me go. God gave you free will, independence and a good brand name no matter what you say. People will associate all good things with you no matter what. But my friends and people do not do that to me. I have to live with them and their thoughts about me for the next few decades and how can I live with them if I don’t call and think of them as the best ? Infact how can I live with myself if I did not think so ? Please yaar, understand.”

“Hypocrite”, Said my heart.

“Oh if I am a hypocrite, then you are nothing but a bunch of secret feelings. And if I am Hypocrite, big deal, so be it ! I am being a hypocrite only to you, not to my people”, replied my agitated mind.

“Hyprocrite you are not being to me, but to your people own you dumbo !”

“Ok ok, don’t even bother about what I am. No one will want to find it out except you. And even if they did too, they are not going to hang me. They are all the same as me. So, please sleep now. There is a mid term next week. By the way, know what ? The orkut photos of us is not looking great these days ! Need to put on some weight. What say ?”, said my mind trying to divert the topic.

There was silence from the heart.

“Are you there ?” asked my mind.
No reply from the heart.
“Hello, are you there ? there ? Echoooooo”, tried my mind once again.

“Ok.. Stop your satyagraha now ! I give up. Please do speak. Else I cannot sleep the whole night !” begged my mind.

No reply yet.

“I promise I’ll be honest and say what I think” offered my mind.

My heart was not yet moved. No reply.

“And people say you are very tender and you are easily moved ! Ok now.. Final deal. You can also write a blog about it and I don’t care what people would think of me. So, please do speak now !”

There was a sudden feeling of happiness rushing into the blood.

“Promise ?” asked my heart.

“Bribe works even with the heart. No wonder it is the most sought after in our place. When It works with you, it should work with anyone !”, thought my mind to itself.

“Promise ?, Do you promise that you’ll honestly express your thoughts on the topic and then write a blog on it” asked my heart again.

“Dear, don’t you know me and my ability to keep promises ?” replied my mind in a satirical tone.

“That is the reason I am asking you. If you fail to be honest, I’ll haunt you for life ! And you know how that feeling can be”, warned my heart.

“Ok ok. I promise”

“So, do you feel that India is the best country in the world ?”, asked my heart.
“Well I feel my India can be the best country in the world”, replied my mind.
“I need honesty. Not diplomatism please” said my heart authoritatively.

“Hmm.. ok yaar.. its not. Agreed.. Enough ? India isn’t the best country in the world. Its 11 in the night now. I am feeling very sleepy and want to sleep. Bye”, said my mind turning on the Ipod and falling into a trance.

My India - The Best Country ? - Part 2

At 2:30 in the night, I suddenly woke up. The ipod just finished playing “chaiyya chaiyya” and started playing “Dil sey rey..” I felt thirsty.

I grabbed a glass of water, checked the time and switched off the alarm that would be ringing in another 30 minutes. As I was pulling over the pillow over me to sleep again and felt its cozy warmth, a silent voice asked “Why isn’t it the best ?”

“What ? What is why isn’t it the best ? What are you talking about ? Oh, the movie ? I guess that movie had no script to it. Hence it flopped. Just because Malaika danced to an A.R.Rehman tune doesn’t mean the movie must be a hit. Even Mangal pandey had good music. Was it a hit ?” Said my mind.

“I am asking you why do you think India is not the best country in the world ?”

“What ? Which dumbo on the planet said so ? Shoot that Namak Halal with a gun.” said my mind.

“You said it !”, said my heart.
“Huh ! What ? When ? What’s the proof ? ” asked my mind.
“The promise !”, reminded my heart.

“Hmm.. Will you never give up ?” asked my mind.
“When you don’t, why should I ?”, replied my heart proudly.

“Its 2:45 in the night yaar. Are you crazy ? You forced some thoughts out of me before i went to sleep and are asking me to justify that now ? You are a sadist !”

“Yes, I am crazy and sadist. That is the reason all love & hatred comes from me and all reasons & logic to do so from you. Right now I want reasons from you for your thoughts about India not being best in the world.”

“Hmm.. Anyways, ok yaar.. I tell you.. I’m not being diplomatic but the truth is my India can become the best in the world. But will it ? I’m not so sure.”

“Ours is a country that got independence from a ruler who ruled us on DIVIDE AND RULE principle. But then I think we achieved independence only from the ruler but not from the rule.” Said my mind.

“Hmm.. What do you mean ?” questioned my mind.

“I mean everything. From classifying a newly born child to choosing with which child must the parents stay during old age, everything is still based on divide and rule principle.

A boy child is preferred over a girl child at birth – Division at the time of very birth based on Gender. Two girl children in the same family and the society is extremely happy ! Not for the family but for the mountain of life that the family has to climb before it gets the respect of the society.

At education again, the division begins on gender basis. The boy child begins to rule. But then i pity the boy for getting the preferrence. It is just the beginning of hell. They are put into education which is nothing short of a training to hate your fellow being and compete with him/her in the name of cut throat competition. Just 7 technological and 6 management institutes of international repute for a population of over a billion. 5000 seats for over a crore people. Those who make it are considered THE BEST. Those who didn’t are treated as B Grade movies and need to put up with the stigma associated with it for the rest of their lives no matter what.

My heart, where hardwork meets opportunity, genious is born. But then where opportunity is given based on the karma done by forefathers, fate is accepted. I don’t even dare to speak of that topic. I’m accept it as my fate and I blame my grandfather for it. That guy didn’t allow his friend to come into his village and school, so in return i should not go into a university which I rightfully deserve on merit. By making two wrongs, we will do a right.

And so now at age 25 you have a boy who has accepted his fate, a girl who thinks that life is unfair. Adding salt to injury is when the girl is all of a sudden married to this boy, because its time, through a system that exists for getting society’s respect than for creating each other’s love !

And i love my country inspite of all this. You know why ? Because it has found a way and taught me to fight this division and live through it. It is called “adjusting”. It represents corruption. As per this way, if you cannot go to the university you deserve for a degree, then buy the degree from a printing press ! University degrees are worth a few thousand rupees. Jobs arising out of them worth a few lakh rupees and the society has said that all this can be again collected from the girl’s family as dowry at the time of marriage.
And so what is morally corruption, is treated as investment. The higher you invest, the more is the return. And the higher your returns, the lesser are the unfulfilled needs of life and more is the happiness. And with lesser needs, more happiness in life, you become a good man and eligible for salvation.

Where on earth can you find such romantic naughtiness in a system which has righted two wrongs beautifully and made happiness even in what should have been sheer misery, wrongness and injustice. And no country in the world can claim to have done this with a 100 crore people for 60 continous years after freedom. And that is why i think my India can be the best but am not sure if it will be. It is hard to fight a system to has learn to adjust to misery than fight to live with happiness.

And these are just divisions at birth and education on gender and opportunity basis. It is just the beginning. The real fun is the division based on religion and caste. When you see that there is a Brahmin community, a Reddy community, a Naidu community, an Iyer community, a Telugu community, a Tamil community, a Gujarati community and every possible community on the planet except an “Indian community”, imagine how deep is our Divide and Rule principle ! To be belonging to a community is our birthright and we will have it, Use it and Propogate it ! That is our way to salvation after death and we will not give it up. To live in hell so that we can go to heaven after we die is our motto.

And know what my heart ? I am very happy that by not respecting, not loving and not caring for every person equally when I live, I am going to heaven after I die ! God is great ! I love him and it is for his love I am facing all this.", finished my mind.

“ Hmm, when you see so many problems why don’t you do something to change this ?” asked my heart.

“ What ? Who said they are problems ? Are you an idiot ? Come on yaar..See the west ! They are the ones with problems. They are shameless. Firstly, they don’t even respect their parents. Focus on making wealth by loosing health and then spend all the wealth to get back the health. Is that a life too ? And see how unfaithful they are to each other. See how insecure and lonely their life is. See how careless they are for a fellow person.”

“Compare them with our place, my neighbour is after me and news about me more than his/her own child :-). And that is because of love. Isn’t it ? I’m always compared with someone who is better than me so that I feel encouraged to become them and spend my life doing it. Where can you find such people who think for you and only about you ? :-) If I was in Infosys, I am encouraged to target Microsoft.. If I am in Microsoft, I am encouraged to work onsite.. And if I am onsite, I am encouraged to take care of my parents by getting them there and if I take them there I am encouraged to come back to our country and do something for it. Amazing man.. ! Our love and care can make a Software Engineer out of a Writer, a Doctor out of a Painter, a Manager out of an Engineer and literally anyone out of someone. ”

“In short a looser out of a winner”, said my heart.

“How dare you say that ! Don’t you know that 30 % of Microsoft are Indians, U.S. rocks because of Indians, there isn’t a country and company in the world who’s growth doesn’t have the contribution of a talented Indian.. How dare you call us Indians loosers ? We are all rounders and we like to think so”

“So, why don’t you do something about it ?” asked my heart.
“About what ?” my mind asked.

“About all these problems !” asked my heart.

“Arey again and again I ask, are you crazy or what ? Who said they are problems ? My country is the best in the world. It is shining ! It is going to lead the world in 2020. Even if it doesn’t, we have bollywood. we will make a movie and show people on how it will feel to lead the world, just like we made Chak De India showing our Women’s hockey team winning the world cup. We are living on the principle, “If you cannot be, feel to be !” And if you cannot feel so, treat this world as Maaya. Heaven is full of Indians and there we are the best and the most represented because we lived our lives the 'right' way. We faced our karma without complaint rather than doing any karma that you want me to do to change. We understood that life on earth is just transitory and can end any moment. So why worry about it ? Plus this is Kaliyuga, doing anything and everything is considered sinful in these times. We will adjust in this Yuga and through time and not work, we will become the best. But know what heart ? I only pity the west. They do not know all such things. They think they are the best and that they will remain the best. Poor guys, when they shall die, they will know the truth. They will go to hell for kissing the one they love in public, they will go to hell for choosing to live away from their parents and they will go to hell to suffer for enjoying here instead of suffering. But we, who can evetease in public, we have the largest number of old age homes in the world, we who have the largest number of hostels in the world, we who will deny equal opportunities to everyone, we who will consider disability as a "purva janma paapa" instead of creating facilities to counter the same, we will suffer here and will not work to change but then by suffering selflessly and accepting our karma as such, we will please God, Go to heaven and Enjoy there. Till then let the west think they are the best, while we will sacrifice, suffer and wait for death to show them who really are the best. What say ?” asked my mind.

“Hmm.. I am not sure what to say. But I am just reminded of a couple of lines from a famous movie”, Said my heart.

“And what is that ?” asked my mind.

“Ab bhi Khoon Jiska Naa Khaula, Khoon Nahin Woh Paani Hain. Joh Desh Kay Kaam Naa Avey Who Bekar Jawaani Hain”, replied my heart.

“Ya ya sleep now ustad, there’s a mid term next week and i cannot get my returns for the investment if i don't study well and get a job !”, said my mind.
My heart didn't say a word anymore..

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Am i living the way I am FOR the society or Am i living the way I am BECAUSE of it ?

As I was traveling to my college today, a strange thought struck me.
“Am i living the way I am FOR the society or Am i living the way I am BECAUSE of it ?”

“What’s the difference ? Why on earth do you think of all such things ? As if you don’t have enough work on hand. There’s a project due next week you escapist” my MIND said.

I could feel a smile at the answer of my mind. And I knew immediately I was in trouble. It was my HEART ! Now, this thought is not going to escape me unless I sort it out. So I had to delve into it.

My heart did not say anything further. And yet I felt very uncomfortable. Then as ever my mind had to speak up.

“So, what’s the difference in living FOR the society and living BECAUSE of it ?” it asked.

“The same difference that exists between what you wanted to become and what you became” my heart replied.

“Oh Great ! Well, I’m doing my Master’s degree in one of the prestigious universities in the world. I am working in a field that is going to revolutionalize the world in the times to come. I am living in one of the best countries of the world comfort wise. My parents are here. What else can I ask for ? I am living as per law, rightly and for my parents, for my friends, for the society and more importantly according to it ! So, whatever I became, even if its BECAUSE of the society, its great !”

“Oh that’s awesome ! But then if you are living for the society, for your friends and for your parents, can you tell me how many of them are going to really miss you when you are not here anymore as of today ? Imagine if you are not a part of the world for a week. How many people are going to feel sad and how many of them are going to miss you even for that week ?”

It was my mind’s turn to be silent. :( It wanted to say “My professor for my work and My parents”, but then it knew that my heart was in no mood for jokes. The relation between my professor and me was more like work for money and for a better future. So, him missing me is him feeling the monetary loss for the investment he made in me than really missing me. The relation making my parents miss me is love. And I should say, it is more of an one-side love. Else, why is that I am writing this blog instead of spending more time with my mother who has travelled thousands of miles, across oceans and continents into a strange land just to ensure that I am well taken care of here. So, I cannot claim that I lived for them enough and feel happy about their missing me.

“So, no one is going to miss you for you are as of today Sai. That’s because you never lived FOR them dear. You have always lived BECAUSE of them. :)”

My mind said “10 more minutes and my bus stop will arrive. The guest speaker of the class today is a Maha Thope of his field. Should be a great experience”

“Dear, as a child of 3 years you wanted to become a car driver. At 10 you thought that was a childish idea. You wanted to play cricket but then avoided it for life it because someone said you can’t run between wickets. In 10th class of your school, you wanted to become a doctor, but then took up the route of engineering because you could not draw well and felt cutting cockroaches was disgusting. You took up Electrical Engineering because you could not get Communication Engineering in the college you wanted. After graduating as an Electrical Engineer, you took up a job in a software company because no one else was offering you a job and that big a money. So, it was no surprise you did not like that job as you never had genuine interest in it. And over a period of time you started hating it. And now you are in the U.S. trying to Master a subject in which you never were into from the start, got your parents here because you couldn’t cook well and worse now consider yourself a great individual living FOR the society doing work that is going to revolutionalize the world ?” my heart began to laugh heartily. :(

My mind was shocked.

“So, what do you want me to do ? Drive a car for everyone like I wanted to do in 3 years ? I AM ONLY DOING WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO DO. THAT IS WHAT EVERYONE DOES” my mind replied furiously. Guess it was hurt. Truth does hurt. :(

“When you do what you are supposed to do and because everyone does it, that’s what is called living because of the society”, my heart replied.

“Ok agreed. So what if I lived because of the society ? I am doing great as it is ! ” My mind said.

“You are doing great. You have been doing fantastic and will do too. But you know what I feel Sai ? When praises drive you to work more than passion, When feeling greatness than being goodness is what makes you do the things you do, When you follow the rules of the society rather than the directions of the heart, when trying to be different is what you want rather than creating the difference, when order in life is what becomes important than doing the right thing you might become great but I am never sure if you will feel happy”

“No, I am happy and will be too”, said my mind.
“No you are not and will not be no matter what”, said my heart.

“How do you know ?” my mind asked.

“Because happiness is a feeling and feelings belong to me and experienced by me, not you dear. So unless I am happy you cannot know it and I know what makes me happy”, said my heart. “That is why everyone says ‘I love you with all my heart’ than saying ‘I love you with all my mind’. That is why everyone says ‘I give my heart and life to you’ than saying ‘I give my mind and life to you’. ”

“So, what do you want me to do now ? Leave this work and start gazing at clouds, smelling flowers sing songs and serve humanity ? You know what ? I would ruin myself and people will call me mad”

“hahaa.. Naa dear. That’s true. People will certainly call you mad if you act in such brainless ways of throwing away what you have, for something that will not make you worth living. You’ll be crazy if you don’t use your mind. And you’ll be heartless if you are only mindful of what people think of you. The key is to find a balance. Find a balance and find a way of making the mind do what the heart wants rather than make the heart adjust to the decisions of the mind. When the mind follows the heart, difficulties might arise, questions might be asked, feelings may be laughed at but, but most importantly you begin to live. You begin to fight for a cause. You start doing the right thing. You care least for the name but you focus more on the cause you live for. And when life is based on such fundamentals of truth and love, happiness is only an event waiting to happen. But on the contrary, when the heart follows the mind, life becomes a compromise. The entire forces of mind are used only to control the desires of the heart. You start to focus on the name you get while you live and after you pass away rather than living the life for the purpose it was given. And dear, its better to adjust with difficulties in life than compromise on life itself.”

“Dear, neither live totally for the society nor live totally because of it. Live in a way, that the society of tomorrow tells its people that it wants them to live like you. And if that needs you to fight the society rules of yesterday, do it with all your heart and mind today. That is what will give a meaning to your life. After all, the whole purpose and meaning to human life lies in what you were to others and that cannot be achieved if you are only just a part of others, follow their rules blindly especially when you know it is wrong. Challenges pose difficulties to life, but then they also add meaning to the same. Questions asked can be insulting, but finding the answers is what will define the purpose of life. This is a choice for everyone. Live like the 6 billion around you or make the 6 billion live the right way and the way you want even if means for 70 years of your life you will be questioned and considered mad. Atleast as a mind, you’ll feel happy about yourself. And as a heart, that is what I think is right. What do you say ?”

“The bus stop has come. I need to focus on the class.” Said the Mind.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My CASTE is my life's one Greatest Feeling !

I am an Indian. I am 23. I am working in the field of computers. Have quite a few friends. So, obviously the statistical probability of me being on Orkut portraying myself with my likes and dislikes and spending time with my friends there is quite high :)
And on one such occasion today, when i was on orkut, i saw that i had long back joined a community named " I HAVE NO CASTE, NO RELIGION" !
I was just casually wondering about the reasons I joined such a community. Was it just to show off to my friends and everyone that I do not care for what my caste is ? Was it just to make it a point to everyone that I do not care for a person’s caste ? Was it for the reason that I wanted to tell in the open that I do not use caste as a means to identify a fellow person ?

If all the above were true, then I wondered as to why should i be in a community that expresses I have no feeling about a quality ? ! Something that represents I do not care. Something that shows that I do not give an importance to. If I didn’t care about it, did not give importance to it, and did not even feel the feeling of it, then why even join a community and show the absence of it ?

The first answer my heart gave me then was “Unjoin it”.

But then my mind told me, “ No ! You do not have a caste feeling. You do not distinguish between people based on their caste. So, you rightfully belong to this place of like minded thinkers. Do not unjoin. You belong here. They are ‘YOUR’ sort of people. ”

And it was at this point, I was shocked. My heart questioned, “ ‘YOUR’ sort of people ? What do you mean ? A caste of people thinking they have no caste ? ! And priding themselves in doing that ! You must be worse than those who love caste for atleast they are in love ! But you seem to hate and be indifferent to the same thing while feeling the same”

My Mind answered, “But you do not hate who do not belong to your caste. ‘They’ do ! You love everyone equally !”

My heart laughed at this statement of me loving everyone equally. It asked, “Do you even love your sister as you love yourself ?” I felt insulted. I was horrified. It was not the first time in life my heart was pinching me that way. It does everytime I give it a chance ! My heart went on, “ You love everyone equally ? Do you love everyone at all let alone loving equally ? Let alone everyone, do you love atleast a few ?”

My mind said, “Enough Sai, go sleep now. No more such thoughts. Tomorrow there is a project deadline and also you have to get up early” !

My heart said, “Coward, he is protecting his caste feeling of no caste”

So, I did what I do best in such times. Surrender to my heart and asked, “What should I do now ?” . And it is then it came up with the thoughts below.

Friends, many a times in life we think of a particular quality as bad. It is purely based on our experiences and because of what we have been told is bad. So, we seem to not want that feeling. And yet knowingly or unknowingly, we do tend to exhibit the same even if we claim the absence of it. For instance, how many among us claming to have no caste feelings have put up their last names in their profiles as Iyers, Naidus, Reddys, Iyengars etc., etc., How many among us have also joined a community that represents our caste apart from joining a community that represents we have no caste feeling ?

Well, if you all haven’t, that’s great. But if a few of us have done that then that’s even greater for me ! For we have the feeling of caste although we deny it. And because we have a feeling of caste, we can also feel a sense of unity and relate to ‘OUR’ sort of people more !

And I always personally felt, that there’s no greater feeling in life, than feeling a sense of togetherness with another person. There’s no greater feeling in life than relating oneself to another person’s happiness, sorrow or any feeling of his/her. There’s no greater feeling than love for a person. And if caste can teach me that or if it requires belonging a caste to do that, then I have no objections belong to any caste ! Infact, I want a caste in such case. Not because I love caste. But because it helps me love people. It helps me relating to those people. I identify myself with them through it !

So, I decided I will have a caste and I will proudly claim it as mine. I will do everything possible required of me in maintaining that caste. I will have a caste because I want to love and be loved by people. And then I thought, if I want to love and be loved, then why restrict myself to loving and being loved by only Brahmins ? Let me belong to a caste that helps me love and be loved by everyone .

Thus began the process of me searching for a caste that will make me love all people and be loved by them. What is that caste which will make feel united with everyone and feel love for them ? What is that caste whose customs will be an antidote to all the ills of the society ? What is the superset and supreme of all castes ? Then dawned the answer !

If at all there was one caste in the world, that could make me feel united with everyone, if at all there is a caste that will awaken the feeling of love towards everyone, if at all there is one caste that will help me love everyone equally and make them feel loved, then it is the CASTE OF HUMANITY ! Yes, it is HUMANITY.

Humanity is that defining caste which will fulfill all the requirements that the customs and needs of society demands of it ! Humanity speaks the language of the heart. Humanity follows a religion called love. It sees goodness in everyone. It cares to remove the badness in everyone. It asks us to follow the customs of having compassion in our heart, care for a fellow person in our heart. It does not attach itself to names, forms or symbols. Humanity does not distinguish between people for positions of power, duty or even sharing one’s life. The only tool it knows and uses is love. It has existed every since life first took its form on the planet. It is not egoistic. It will not take lives of other people in the name of land. It will not force people to limit themselves for its realm is infinite. It is what everything a caste can be and even more. And I want to belong to it. Infact, we must belong to it ! That alone will make the customs we follow and the life we live worth it.

So, friends, let us not just promote NO CASTE FEELING for only love marriages to be successful. Let us truly belong to a caste that will bring a change in the society. A Caste better than a Caste of “no Caste feeling”. A Caste better than a Caste of “I hate Caste feeling”. A Caste called the CASTE OF HUMANITY. A Caste that will extend the boundaries of a good but limited thinking and will allow us to love everyone.

Let us all not drop or killing the feeling of caste in us. But let us use the same to expand our love to everyone. So, for all those who are in IYER community, I ask why only in IYER community ? For all those who are in REDDY or BRAHMIN community, I ask why only the Reddy or Brahmin community ? Ofcourse, Brahmins, Reddy, IYER, NAIDU everyone are good and fantastic in their own way. But if they cannot make you feel the ultimate feeling of love and togetherness with everyone and make you selfish, restricted then of what greater use are they ? Limited love is no love at all ! And false portrayal of love is a sin !

So, let us use our castes to grow. Let us act. Let us destroy our narrow minded thinking. Let us all do the right thing. Let us all make existence of love for EVERY fellow being a condition for having a caste, rather than existence of caste as a condition to love. We live but only once. So, let us make it a point to love everyone regardless of where we are born into. After all we all eat food from the same mother – Mother Earth and when she cannot distinguish between her children why do we brothers and sisters do ? Let us practice the caste she belongs to and the customs she is practicing – The Caste of Humanity !

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fate - Part I

“Poor boy, you seem to be so nice and good. Why had fate to be so cruel on you?”
“My Fate never gives what I want and it will never too”
“Whatever I ask for, Fate seems to be giving the exact opposite of it”
“Whatever is written in Fate will happen, you cannot change it” !

What does one feel when one listens to such words ? How does one feel when one talks such words ? Is Fate really that bad ? Does fate exist ? Can, what is once written as Fate/destiny by God, not be changed by anyone ?

To be honest, for reasons unknown, I was not a great believer in fate. As a child and a teenager, I never believed that God had written off for every person his/her fate at the time of his/her birth. I thought, if God had already seen the past of the person, and has also written the future of the same then there exists no purpose for him in the present !

But then as I kept growing thinking thus, experience has had a strange way of teaching me things. Like ever they give us the exams first and then teach us the lesson. :-)

So, when an old lady saw me at the Visa Interview and heard of my desire to fly high with my dreams inspite of my disability, she ended up remarking “Poor boy, you seems to be so nice and good. Why had fate to be so cruel on you ?” :-)

When my own mother was drenched in sorrow seeing the troubles ahead in store, my dad ended up comforting her saying ““Whatever is written in Fate will happen, you cannot change it”. :-)

When one of my best friends could not end up with a job what he wanted the most inspite of numerous trials, he said “Fate never gave me what I want and it never will”. :-)

I was left wondering ! I had no option but to change my opinion on Fate. Experience had taught me. I could no longer deny its existence ! And how could I too ?

When I see a 20 year old girl, who desires to study higher and see greater places, forcibly married away to a well to do boy just because its time for them to get married, how can I deny Fate’s role ?

When I see a boy who slogged day and night for the exams gathering a real good knowledge of the subject, ending up with a mere 60 % and his friend who merely copied from his paper verbatim but with a beautiful handwriting ending up with 80 %, how can I deny Fate’s role ?

Fortunately / unfortunately, when the logic of almost a billion people in our country that two people must be from same financial status, same religion, same caste & same colour in order that their marriage with each other be successful, seems to be working, how can I deny fate’s role ?

So, I have to agree that fate does exist. God does write our destinies. It seemed hard to accept, but then things certainly seem to be right that way ! And it feels good too that everything is pre decided. Feels enlightened to know that the world is a stage and I am just an actor speaking out dialogues :)

But then again, strangely a realization struck me.

Fate - Part II

I agree. The world's a stage, God our scriptwriter, i am an actor and the script my fate.

Yes, I am an actor. I am speaking out dialogues God had written for me. I am acting on a stage given by him/her. But then, if I am just an actor and this is all a drama, then why is that I am feeling those emotions so really ? If all I am doing is acting, then why is that those joys are so full of happiness to me and sorrows so painful ? Why is that I feel that the love of someone is worth dying for and hatred of someone worth killing them ? Am I not just acting ? Afterall, I know that whatever will happen.. will happen. No one can change what is written !

Why is that I am not feeling good this time around too ? Certainly something seems to be wrong even in accepting that fate determines everything :(

It is then I thought of this. “What if fate does exist, but then it exists to be changed ?” I suppose Fate gives us situations to face, but then it is we who decide how to face it ! Fate decides to give us difficulties, but it is we who can decide to make a fighting game out of it making glory for ourselves and a path for our generations to follow.

Friends, i guess, left to fate, things will only take a course for the worse. But then, if we ourselves took responsibilities for the tasks that fate gave us, would not we change our today and tomorrow for the better ? After all, we live but once. Why not live it on our conditions rather than living it at the mercy of fate ?

If fate were to exist and were to be written by God, will not God help those who help themselves ?

Friends, i guess when it comes to the end its not the nightmares we overcame successfully but then it is the dreams that we forgot to live that will haunt us. We can say that our fate is responsible for what we are but our fate in itself is dependent on our actions to change it. It is a mutual relationship for us with fate and by misunderstanding and misinterpreting it, we are letting it become a parasitic one !

So, when the old lady said to me “It is cruel of fate to have treated you so badly nice boy”, I said “It is only your love for me that makes you think that my fate was cruel. Actually my life could not have been better” :)

When my Dad comforted my Mom saying “Whatever is written in Fate will happen, we cannot change it”, I said “The troubles ahead given by our fate are looking troubles because we feel we cannot change them. The moment we believe we can change and face those troubles, we have rewritten fate which in turn will rewrite our troubles.” :)

And when my friend said “ My fate never gives what I want and it will never too”, I decided I will write this blog. :)

For those billions of my brothers and sisters who think that they are the way they are, because God has made them so, my only request for them is not to insult God with such an accusation. God could not have been so cruel and inflexible when dealing with the future of 6 billion people.

Fate gives us difficulties but waits for us to take them up as challenges. Adjust to the difficulties coming out of the choice you made, face them, live them. Face the devil. Fight till the end. Finish the game. Write your destiny. Become a legend :)

Like the great DJ of RDB once said “Zindagi jeeney kay dho tarikay hothey hain. Ek joh ho raha hain usko dekhthey jao. Chup chaap sehthay jao. Nahin tho, Jimmedhari utao usey badhalney ki. Apney kal ko behathar bananey ki”