facebook likes

 

The other day when I went out for dinner, I came across a group of college kids sitting on the adjacent table who exhibited a not so very different and all the more common group behavior. These kids might have been around 20 to 22 years old. The waiter was waiting patiently to take their order. But I am sure the waiter wasn’t surprised what took the kids so long to choose from the menu. This is because the waiter, like me, was busy observing the antics of these college kids. ;-) There was this one typical cool dude with spiky hair who was insisting upon his pictures being taken from different angles with different girls in the group, at times, by posing with a ‘V’ sign with his index and middle figure and at other times by holding two of his female friends closely by putting his arms around each of them. His expression said it all. I could actually hear his expressions talking out loud. I could imagine him thinking while he was maintaining the plastic grin on his face until the time his cheeks might have pained. This is what he might have thought:

“I will at least get 45 likes on this picture”. His grin broadened and his eye bulged out during another click when he might have been thinking, “These dudes will get so J when they see my mobile upload with Suzzy and Shena”. 55 likes guaranteed!!! :P

His grin just grew wider every time the camera flashed. The girls were trying to look their cutest best. They tilted their head slightly and winked upon being asked to say cheese for the click! The other cool dudes did not want to be left behind and took their turns in getting them clicked. The waiter was waiting patiently all along. This is because the waiter knew that they would ask him to take a group picture. After all how will the facebook album be complete without the group photo? After all the group picture fetches the maximum likes. After the group picture, the group finally obliged the waiter and placed the order. No sooner did the waiter disappear, each member in the group pulled out their cells and started with the mobile uploads coupled with the check-in and status updates. One girl in the group yelled! It was a typical yell of a 19 year old gets excited about everything in general and nothing in particular! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! She said, “Oh my God, see who liked my picture! Sahelllll! Oh my God” The other girl got emotional and hugged this excited girl! It was a big achievement after all! Getting the FB picture liked by the hottest dude of the college! :P

No sooner did their dinner arrive, many members from the group again pulled out their cell and started clicking pictures of the cuisine from different angles. A girl insisted upon her photo being clicked with the lemon ice tea! Another girl wanted her photo with cherry between her lips! The guy wanted his photo to be clicked with the sizzling brownie, maybe to earn some brownie point with some girls. In between taking pictures, they were conversing for a short while and eating as well I guess!

The sight was amusing. And one gets many chances to get amused these days. Mind you, this behavior is not only exhibited by youngsters in the age bracket of 15 to 25! People in the age group of 25 to 55 are no different! They give tough competition to youngsters in the race of getting maximum likes on their picture! It seems that one of the important motivating factors behind socializing at the coolest places is to add another album on Facebook and subsequently keep a tab on the number of likes one gets on each pictures.

I respect the genius in the Facebook team who came up with this idea of Facebook like! He may not have been a software engineer! On the contrary, I am sure that he may have been with a Major in Psychology with an astute economic vision. ;-) This is for the simple reason that he exploited the weakest psychological trait in-built in every human being. The weakness is the need to seek social acknowledgment and approval! The body language of thumbs up has been traditionally used to convey approval/acknowledgement! No wonder this feature of “Like” with the symbol of “Thumbs-UP” un-leased a new social phenomena by exploiting this inbuilt need of seeking the maximum approval/appreciation.

The other day I saw my two colleagues quarrelling bitterly! At first, I was worried. The fight looked so fierce. Upon intervening, I realized my worry was baseless! The fight started because one of them was very hurt as the other refused to “Like” her Facebook profile picture. I had a look of being a ‘Man of NO Words’. :P

The system of Face-Book likes has created an unwritten social obligation. It can be labeled as the “System of Mutual Likes”. If I like your picture, you should like my picture as well. By a natural corollary of this rule, if you like a person’s picture, and if he doesn’t reciprocate by liking your picture, you stop liking his picture!

I am not saying that I am entirely free of the influence of Facebook likes. Though I sincerely wish that I do get liberated of this psychological need of seeking social approval and socializing purely with the intent of socializing and not flaunting the fact that I socialize!

Hiren Rathod.

Like Me???

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As a thumb rule, whenever I go to see any Hindi movie, I completely switch off the left side of my brains that is responsible for logical reasoning and analyses! As a typical Indian, I want my worth for every penny spent! It is for this very reason that I put the left side of my brain to absolute rest so that I enjoy every frame and scene, howsoever illogical it is and I leave the theatre fully satisfied that the movie was worth my 300 bucks! ;-)

Off the many actors in the industry today, I feel that Amir Khan is certainly an exception to the rule and I must admit that I can keep both the sides of my brain completely active and yet not leave the theatre with a sense of guilt about wasting my money! PK was, without doubt, one of the best movies of Amir Khan until date! I was quite pleased with myself for having taken the decision of watching this movie and not feeling dejected or guilty at the end of it. This movie conveys many beautiful messages without getting overtly preachy! These messages not only force you to use the left side of your brains but also compel you to ask the tough questions that we conveniently ignored. Below are couple of messages that I honestly believe are worth taking note of:

 

“Shadi vyah me pataka fod ke band baja baja ke, kaahe sare sheher ko bataya jaat hai ki aaj “I am having sex”???”…

PK1

Question 1: Aren’t we the biggest Hippocrates when it comes to the most basic human instinct “SEX”?

To be frank, this dialogue would pull the carpet off the feet of many traditionalists! We may not admit openly, but the basic role of the institution of marriage is unfortunately to legalize sex! One basic question that does not cease to bother me is that if sex was as sinful as it is projected by each and every religious folds, why would, in that case, nature or god make sex as the medium of procreation! Inbuilt hypocrisy is the hallmark of many religious folds! A person who is open about his sexual preference is often termed as characterless! If sex is so sinful, how does it become pious merely by chanting few mantras or exchanging wows? Is it not obvious that the goal of institutionalized religion is to control and direct human race as a whole! And the best way to control human race is to create a strong sense of guilt amongst them by making them feel unworthy for honouring their very primal instinct! The concept of ‘first night’ is highly overrated merely because of the underlying presumption that a person is “not” supposed to indulge in this so called “sinful” activity without religious sanctions! We need to ask ourselves these questions whether we are have been manipulated since time immemorial by institutional religious bodies? This question merits much consideration in my view!!

 

 “Asli God fark banata to Thappa laga ke bhejta, Hai koi thappa baadi pe?”

PK2

Question 2- Are not all differences in the mind? Why do we blame nature for the differences?

The worst trait of human mind is the in-built trait to differentiate and classify! Don’t we excel in the art and science of differentiating and discriminating! Us versus them is our favourite past time! Don’t we come across a person who might be completely ignorant and who may not have done a single good deed gloating in self-satisfaction on account of being a “Brahmin” or “Rajput” by birth? We divide, divide and divide. Rich versus poor/ Brahmin versus Shudras/ Hindus versus Muslims/South Mumbai versus Suburbs/ India versus Pakistan! We simply excel in the task of dividing! What do we stand to gain by this? All that we do is that we massage our big fat egos in the name of these divisions! Don’t we?

 

“Humka laagat hai bhagwan se baat kare ka communication system is gola ka total lul ho chuka hai”

PK3

 

Question 3-Are we really communicating effectively with our inner selves? Are we communicating effectively with our inner guiding light?

The concept of God may mean many things to many people. To me, the concept of God is a Myth… I feel that it is what we do that determines who we are… It deals with my sense of right and wrong. It is not an external penalizing god sitting right up there with a stick in his hand just waiting to punish me if I do not behave as per his whims and fancies! I might very well be regarded as an “ATHEIST” in the conventional sense as I do not believe in the God who is sitting there as a judge! I do not become un-godly if I refuse to go to a temple or follow rituals! I am certainly ungodly if I hurt somebody or refuse to help if it is within my capacity! How many of us really communicate with our inner selves fearlessly? Are we not guided by certain preconceived notions that stems out of fear? Miscommunication not only affects human relationships with each other, it fundamentally and adversely affects a person’s relationship with himself or herself!

 

“Apne Apne bhagwan ki raksha karna band karo, warna is gola me insaan nahi bas joota reh jayega…”

PK4

Question 4-Isnt the whole world going mad in the name of defending individual religious beliefs?

The history of human civilization reeks of the smell of blood! Numerous holy wars were fought historically in the name of defending one’s faith! So many militant religious organizations are springing up right, left and centre in the garb of protecting one’s faith! And let us admit that every institutionalized religion has been guilty of sowing divisive seeds in the name of defending and protecting one’s faith! How long will we continue like that? Does the all-power and all mighty creator really needs protection from human race who is so fickle and weak in thoughts and deeds to begin with? Presuming if God exists, are we not grossly underestimating his own capacity to continue without the need for us to bicker and fight over him? Is our faith so weak that it will perish merely because someone else is badmouthing about it? Why are so insecure about our beliefs and value systems? Why are we always so willing and eager to remove our swords and slay fellow human beings in the name of defending our religion? Does it not exhibit our weakness? Is in not the sign of in-built fallacies in our value systems to being with?

These questions are very relevant if we want to move ahead on the path of sanity! Rather than getting offended by the film, it is advisable that we pick up the right lessons and ponder over it! I wish Bollywood comes up with such meaningful cinema a little more frequently.

And now I am sure that after reading this post, some people will come knocking on my door asking me to either block this website or bring it down… ;-)

Hiren Rathod.

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To what end?

By Hiren | Filed in Personal

We have killed all of the children in the auditorium,” the militant, later identified by the military as Abuzar, told his handler. “What do we do now?” 

“Wait for the army to arrive,” came the reply. “Kill them, and then blow yourself up!!

I read this account in an NDTV article concerning the communication between the terrorists who attacked the Army school at Pakistan and their commander.

I am not parent as of now. But I do come across hundreds of parents on a daily basis as I counsel students for their foreign education. The profession gives me the opportunity to understand the depth and beauty of a parental care and bond. When I witness the amount of pain and efforts that a parent takes to guarantee a better future for their children, it makes me realize that a child makes you selfless. A child makes you humane. A child develops in you the depth of love that you would otherwise never experience!

When I saw thousands of wailing parents outside the Army Public School, their loss, to me, immediately became personal. I just imagined a parent sitting in front of me, seeking my advice on their wards future studies coming to me with hopelessness and agony cast over their very being on account of their child being killed ruthlessly and senselessly by someone who intended to settle score with an institution and made their child a scapegoat in the process. This very thought sends chill down my spine! My soul shivers at the thought of any kind of harm happening to any of my students and I pray for their safety every minute!

When you destroy such tender daffodils, you are destroying every second of parental love, care and hope. When the commander said, “Blow yourself up to the crazed and psycho terrorist who perpetrated the ghastly act, in effect, he ordered to blow up the dreams and the very cause of existence of hundreds of innocent parents! He gave order to kill the dream, the future, and the hope of whatever that can be considered as humane.

Another question that haunts me is how anyone can be brainwashed to such an extent so as to kill ruthlessly and without any kind of guilt and remorse. When you see a 5 year old child, all that a normal person can feel is tenderness, love and affection. I cannot even imagine slapping a 5 year old; let alone doing any other harm! Certainly, the degree of indoctrination and brainwashing has to be an extreme level. When these terrorist said “We have killed all the children”, it indicates that they were acting mechanically, as if they were just weeding out unwanted plants from a field. They acted like factory line workers who were just following orders. They were immune to any feelings that can be considered as remotely humane. They were just robots whose remote control was in the hand of a distant master. And they were emotionally manipulated and brainwashed to such an extent that they were ready to blow themselves up! To kill themselves as well! What is really saddening is that the terrorist themselves died under a deranged illusion that what they did was meaningful and holy! That what they did was justified in the name of revenge. I am wondering what if they would have survived? What if these terrorist would have lived to see the extent of damage they committed? Could they face the wailing mothers? Could they answer the questions of the parents who lost their kids? Could they look into the eye of a grandfather who lost his grandson without any sense of guilt? And this is what is really scary! From what I read about the religious fanaticism, the terrorist are brainwashed to such an extent their emotional intelligence is completely wiped off. Pains, tears and sorrow do not unnerve and move them because of the powerful effect of religious indoctrination.

To what end is the humanity moving forward? If we allow these religious fanatics to thrive, how will we answer our children? What are we doing to make their future secure and worthy? As of now, all that I can think is that we all are liable. We human beings are collective liable to ensure that we do not give our mothers the chance to grieve. Secularism and religious tolerance is not an option! It is the only way forward to ensure that our mothers do not shed uncalled for tears!

IT IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD! WE DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE!

I recall this particular song when I think of these poor innocent souls who died a meaningless death:

Gardisho mein rehati behati gujarati jindagiya hai kitani

Inamein se ek hai teri meri aakahi? Koi ek jaisi apani

Kar khuda khair kar, aisa anjaam kisi rooh ko na de kabhi yahaan

Gubja muskuraata ek waqt se pehale kyun chhod chala tera yeh jahaan

Ek lau iss tarah kyun bujhi mere maula, ek lau jindagi ki maula

Dhoop ke ujaale se, os ke pyaale se khushiya milein hamako

Jyaada maangahai kahaan, sarhade na ho jahaan duniya mile hamko

Kar khuda khair kar, usake armaan mein kyun bewajah ho koi kurbaan

Gubja muskuraata ek waqt se pehale kyun chhod chala tera yeh jahaan

Ek lau iss tarah kyun bujhi mere maula, ek lau jindagi ki maula -

Ek lau iss tarah kyun bujhi mere maula, ek lau jindagi ki maula

May their soul rest in peace! May good sense prevail! May humanity find the right direction! This is what I hope for! This is what I pray for! This is what I yearn for!

Hiren Rathod.

peshawar_map_final

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Justice Delayed is Justice Denied???

By Hiren | Filed in Personal

Proved Innocent after 18 years… How do you do justice to the dead innocent accused?

How would you feel if you suddenly find yourself being drawn into a whirlpool of false accusations for a crime you could never possibly have committed! Going a step further, what would be the state of your mind if you lose your name, honour and dignity to serve the wily end of deadly combination of the media, police and judiciary ganging up against you mere for the purpose of closing a case so that one case is off their back? What will your family go through if you are given death sentence for a crime you have no idea about?

I am wondering what would have been the final thoughts in the mind of this innocent 18 year old boy who was wrongly accused of murder and rape in China when he might have been taken for the purpose of his execution. I read about this case (http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/executed-teenager-found-innocent-18-years-on-634610?pfrom=home-topstories) in which this boy who was punished with death penalty for a crime he never committed; being declared as innocent after 18 years! 18 long years! It is this post that has compelled me to write this blog for I can completely empathise with this man!

I can feel the pain, anger and dejection of this family! Imagine what his state of mind would have been! Imagine what he might have gone through while in prison. Just imagine the pain and the agony! Imagine what he might have been thinking when he would have been dragged for the purpose of his execution. A mere 18 year old lad! His life was wrongly sniffed off! He suffered a meaningless death! The judiciary did not merely kill him! By passing a wrong judgment, the judiciary killed the right to live with dignity from his family members as well! And look at how the government is now trying to compensate him! Will a compensation of 8000USD bring him back? Will this financial remuneration wipe off the pain and agony his family might have gone through for all these years? Does this compensation really help restoring the faith in the state machinery? This was just one of the cases in China. But it is worth taking note of the fact that such cases of an innocent being wrongly accused and punished is happening on a daily basis in almost every country!

I am not a legal expert! But on account of the fact that my wife is a lawyer, I am aware of certain basic principles of criminal law. The criminal jurisprudence of our country is found on this basic premise:

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”,

Is it really followed in its true letter and spirit? I have my doubts! For not only in our country, but in a lot of systems of international criminal justice system, it is the innocent who pay the price! It is the innocent who is wrongly accused! It is the innocent who is tortured physically and mentally, not only by the police, but also by the media, judiciary and society in general.

And trust me, the price that an innocently and falsely accused person pays is really really high! It cannot be measured in monetary terms! No amount of monetary compensation will ever help a wrongly accused person from being liberated of the trauma and stigma that he goes through! The pain that he feels when he is shunted by his family, friends and society is something that cannot be wiped off by any state compensation!

What is then the way forward? The different players like the media, judiciary and the criminal investigation agency should be made to pay the price! There should be stringent laws to bring those specific police officers/judges/media personnel to task and be made accountable! These officials should be penalized to the maximum possible level! This is because they are responsible for destroying the very soul of the family of the person who is wrongly accused and punished!

My heart goes out to the family of this 18 year old boy! I hope his soul rests in peace… But I have my doubts about this as well!!!

 

Hiren Rathod.Justice...

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Phir zarra zarra mehkega

Khushboo ke mausam aayenge

Phir chinaar ki shaakhon pe

Panchhi ghar apna banayenge

In raahon se jaane waale

Phir laut ke waapas aayenge

Phir jannat ki galiyon mein

Sab log yeh naghma gaayenge

Rind posh maal gindane drai lo lo

The one song that comes to my mind whenever I read or think about Kashmir is this beautiful song! It strikes a deep chord of hope; of a sub-conscious longing for peace and love! It is a song that signifies what Kashmir was and what it desires to be, what every Kashmiri or rather every Indian wants at a conscious and sub-conscious level. The restoration of normalcy! The return of love, faith and hope!

I recently saw the movie ‘Haider’ and I started thinking, ‘Does this really happen there???’ until I met a student from Kashmir who described events to me which I could very well connect to the Movie. At some points, I felt he is narrating the scenes of the Movie when he described about the Beauty of Kashmir as well as the current human life scenario there.

The very soul of Kashmir was butchered, ripped apart, humiliated and tortured for decades. It appeared as if vested geo-political, divisive and sectarian interest casted an evil eye on this beautiful terrain and bled it continuously for the past 6 decades to quench its thirst of selfishness and greed! Innocent young boys were misled into taking up arms for divisive cause. What was the consequence? Women acquired the new title of half widows, innocent children met the ugly face of orphan hood, hope met despair, joy met sorrow and Kashmir for the first time got acquainted with how hell would look and feel like.

However, it now appears that despair is finally hiding its ugly face and disappearing by finally giving hopes the chance to return. Kashmiris defied boycott calls by the separatist and turned out in large numbers to cast their vote! It is this headline that set me thinking and penning this blog. What does this indicate? Why Kashmiri’s are risking their lives to cast their precious vote? What are they yearning for? Where is the courage and strength coming from? What message are they trying to convey to the separatists? Is it a positive sign for the Indian Union? Have our Kashmiri brothers and sisters finally forgiven us for the wrongs committed to them?

The answers to the above questions are not simple. It has layers of complexity to it! However what is really simple to understand it that Kashmiri’s are very keen to return back to the way they lived. They are keen to restore normalcy. They certainly want to once again embrace peace and faith. The huge turn around for the election is certainly an indication that deep within each Kashmir is keen to connect to their older peaceful ways of living

It is our responsibility that we handhold them in this process so as to help them realize their hopes. India is after all a union of States. Every State has a lot of independent powers under the Constitution. We need to assure the Kashmiris that their interest/values/cultural mores will not be compromised in the Indian union as the Constitution itself gives the state legislature a lot of powers vis-à-vis the state subjects.

I know this may take a while. However, the current geo-political events give nothing but hope. And this hope, if led in the right direction, will certainly go a long way, indeed a way that would eventually discover the beautiful old Kashmir!!

Phir zarra zarra mehkega

Khushboo ke mausam aayenge

Phir chinaar ki shaakhon pe

Panchhi ghar apna banayenge

In raahon se jaane waale

Phir laut ke waapas aayenge

Phir jannat ki galiyon mein

Sab log yeh naghma gaayenge

Rind posh maal gindane drai lo lo

kashmir-highways-0410-02

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Inhuman behavior at its ugliest best

“2010 Machil fake encounter case: Army convicts 7 personnel, including commanding officer”

This headline flashing a short while ago in NDTV online set a volley of questions in motion. Will such headlines ever become a thing of past? For how long are we to endure the excesses of those in uniform? The selfish gene in human beings indulges in an ugly dance of destruction, time and again. On top of this, if such a human being is a man in uniform, the dance of destruction is performed at its ugliest and the most lethal form.

It fails to amaze me that what possibly can be the consideration for these convicted army personnel’s to lure perfectly innocent people by throwing the bait of job and just shoot them randomly? Were they under the pressure of meeting some kind of strange targets for the purpose of saving their jobs? What point were they trying to prove? Did they, even for a fraction of second, prior to pulling the trigger, look into the eye of those whom they intended to kill? Did they, even for a moment, think about the family members of those who were butchered ruthlessly by them? It appears that a certain degree of planning may have gone before perpetrating this dastardly act. It is surprising that these personnel’s were cold blooded and ruthless throughout the stage of planning this gruesome act, for it is apparent that their selfish genes might have completely blinded them to anything which is distantly humane.

Indian army is one of the best armies in the world. It is indeed great that speedy action has been taken against these personnel’s. But it is essential for the army to introspect as to why such incidents occur at the very first place? Is the system making these personnel so ruthless and cold? If yes, we need to take steps to close the gap. If we fail to do so, we are indeed going to pay a very high price. I am aware of the price which a person pays on account of police excesses. It is the worst thing a person can ever go through. Being punished for no rhyme and reason is the worst punishment one can ever face. In the instant case, it is all the more gruesome as the price of army excesses was “death”.

Justice eluded the victims of the family member of those who were wrongly killed for a very long time. Justice finally decided to meet them. I am not sure whether this judgment would really act as a balm to the agony and sufferings of the family members of those who were wrongly killed. Nevertheless, I would only hope that this judgment acts as a strong warning for those who even think of perpetrating such acts in future.

I would like to convey a message of all those who are in position of power by means of this poem by Charles Lamb:

There, Robert, you have kill’d that fly —,

And should you thousand ages try

The life you’ve taken to supply,

 You could not do it.

 

You surely must have been devoid

Of thought and sense, to have destroy’d

A thing which no way you annoy’d —

 You’ll one day rue it.

 

Twas but a fly perhaps you’ll say,

That’s born in April, dies in May;

That does but just learn to display

 His wings one minute,

 

And in the next is vanish’d quite.

A bird devours it in his flight —

Or come a cold blast in the night,

 There’s no breath in it.

 

The bird but seeks his proper food —

And Providence, whose power endu’d

That fly with life, when it thinks good,

 May justly take it.

 

But you have no excuses for’t —

A life by Nature made so short,

Less reason is that you for sport

 Should shorter make it.

 

A fly a little thing you rate —

But, Robert do not estimate

A creature’s pain by small or great;

 The greatest being

 

Can have but fibres, nerves, and flesh,

And these the smallest ones possess,

Although their frame and structure less

 

I hope you got the message!

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Happy Anniversary…

By Hiren | Filed in Personal

For the reasons I still cannot figure out (maybe I was once again in an “aa bel muje maar” mode”), I thought of annoying my wife. Since the time we got together, I have nurtured a secret wish of throwing such a punch line that leaves her dumbfounded or rather speechless. With this in mind, I sent her an e-mail once right when she was sitting next to me post-dinner with a subject “A message” and the following picture in the body of the e-mail:

1743-if-you-were-my-husband-i-d-poison-your-coffee-if-you-were-m-big

She was reading some complicated article and as usual ignored my e-mail. I therefore coaxed her to open the e-mail while secretly congratulating myself over wining this time. How naïve I was when I was imagining a halo of victory around my head! When my wife finally opened the e-mail, I was almost smiling from cheek to cheek gloating in self-satisfaction. However, contrary to my expectations, she did not even look at me and resumed reading the godforsaken article and simultaneously replied that:

  • Firstly, the picture is not applicable to our case as we are already married whilst the picture says “If you were my husband”

 

  • Secondly, the rebuttal of the man in the picture is fallacious. When the woman says “If you were my husband”, it is illogical on the part of the male to reply “If you were my wife”. This is because for the argument to proceed, the woman has already raised a presumption of marriage. He should have rather said “In that case, I would drink it”. However, the very fact that you sent this picture to me shows that your sense of logic is as good or rather as bad as the man in picture!

 

  • Thirdly, for the sake of argument, if I hated you as much as the woman in the picture, I would never poison your coffee. In fact, I would ensure that you live as long as possible so as to enable me to drive you to the wall every living moment of your life!

 

  • Lastly, if you were ever to drink a poisonous coffee, I would ensure that before you do such stupid act which I am sure you would do sooner or later, you have written a Will bequeathing all your property to me. Further, I would not let you drink the coffee till the time you wrote a proper suicide note affixing the blame on yourself or any other family member besides me.

She finally looked at me and gave a short mischievous smile and thereafter started reading the complicated article again! She then told me, I knew you wanted to annoy me! Please come up with something intellectually stimulating next time!

Why don’t I learn my lessons! She is a WOMAN! To add to my misery, she is a LAWYER! And the icing on the cake is that she is a BENGALI! It is a deadly combination, to say the least! I don’t stand any chance of beating her in any argument whatsoever! Not even 0.000001%. And I now humbly admit that it was stupid on my part to even attempt to annoy her!

You might be wondering why I am narrating this incidence out of the blue. Well, it is my second wedding anniversary today! Contrary to the normal perception that males do not remember their anniversary, I very much remember the date! Even if I suffer from amnesia, this day will be etched in my memory. In fact, I even remember the time when we got married and my wife has a failed memory of the same… ;-)

We had a simple court wedding in the morning with a reception thrown in for many in the evening. I still remember how there were 17 people in the small office of the Magistrate (not including the court staff) trying to fit in, be a part of the event and click photos from various angles…

Happy anniversary BIWI!

I know she would want me to come one with some complicated one liner which I absolutely do not understand to express the depth of my feelings towards her in the most poetic way! This is because bongs do not understand simple things. Rather, things make sense to them only when they get complicated! However, I hope my wife may have forgiven me after two years of our marriage for me possessing a simple mind. If she hasn’t, then she should as I never held a grudge against her for being logical or intellectual or whatever ;-).

It is said that opposite attracts! I use to use this line while trying too woe any girl in college. However, little did I image that this line will come to haunt me throughout my life! I and my wife are poles apart! To name a few characteristics:

  • I am a true blue fun loving practical Gujju whereas she is a hardcore non-practical, super-serious highly intellectual bong. Its East meets west!

 

  • I am unusually tall (6 feet 4 inches) whereas she is unusually short (4 feet 11 inches).

 

  • I hate reading! In fact, I feel positively suffocated when I see a lot of books around whereas she is always drowned in the ocean of literature.

 

  • I believe in keeping my bed room messy and disorganized whereas she is organization personified! The easiest way to irk her is to not keep a thing at a place which she has allocated!

 

  • I would watch Sit-Coms to while my time whereas she would prefer watching some documentary on discovery channel which absolutely makes no sense to me!

These are just a couple of characteristics. I would like to narrate one incidence that occurred prior to the point in time when we started dating. We all went to my wife’s (then just a friend) house. At that time I had not asked her out, however, I was still toying with that idea. As a typical bong, she took all of us to show her library! As I wanted to impress her, I told her that “I am now getting into the world of literature as I do find reading fascinating”. (Just imagine a Gujjju getting into the word of literature…the idea itself sounds hilarious ;-)) Honestly, I was feeling queasy and giddy looking at the sizes of the books! I saw the happy expression on her face! She pulled the carpet off my feet by saying, “That’s great, why don’t you pick up any book that you would want to read” Nevertheless, to impress her, I started scanning her library to find the thinnest book that I could lay my hands on. I finally found one and pulled it off immediately and declared that I would certainly read that book! I saw the mischievous expression on her face as she saw through my façade! She asked me last night about whether I liked that book and all that I could do was smile back at her and say “Certainly” ;-)

How she accepted my proposal is still a mystery to me! I genuinely believe that she might be having some complicated reason behind it which I definitely would not understand! I think she was intellectually experimenting! May be our marriage is some kind of an lifelong anthropological study for her wherein she is trying to decode how simple minded creatures exist ;-) I am sure she is maintaining a diary on her observations ;-)

As far as I am concerned, for me, I can only express my feelings in simple terms and to simply put, two years down the line, I am a happy man as my wife has started watching Sit-Coms to while her time, in fact she enjoys watching them every now and then and she can watch any of the shows from any episode and I have finally entered into the world of literature, (if reading Chetan Bhagat would be termed as “literature”…I am into literature…big time ;-))

And I believe that this is what marriage is all about! Meeting each other half way and finding the middle path! I have found my path and I must admit that I have a super intellectual guide to accompany me ;-) My destination is my journey and I must admit it is the best journey that I have ever undertaken till date!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MRS. RATHOD ;-)

With Love,

Your Husband,

Mr. Rathod.

 

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There is a well-known saying that that life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans! The moot question is how well you receive the plans which destiny presents to you? What if destiny’s plan is completely out of sync with what you anticipated it to be? What if destiny suddenly makes you a part of a voyage which takes you to a new destination every day? What if your life becomes so intertwined with the lives of hundreds of people whom you meet that you make life altering decisions for those who come to trust you with their future to such extent that a single wrong decision could make or mar their lives!

All these questions started running in my mind off lately. This is because I completed four years in the field of foreign education counseling this month! And I must admit that I am unable to come up with any adjective which could describe my journey in the most appropriate manner. When I unknowingly took a plunge into this profession, I had no idea that I would be influencing the lives of so many wonderful people whom I would come across. I also had no idea that I would myself get so deeply influenced by merely being a part of these wonderful people’s lives. However, I did not share this feeling when I actually started off into this profession. I, on the contrary, grudged my stars. I thought that my stars were hopelessly faulty. I felt as if the whole world was conspiring against me with the simple objective of shattering my dreams! I found myself in a whirlpool of incidences which I simply couldn’t make any sense of. I did make plans! A lot of them! Plans like any other youngster who aspires for a better life! But life had other plans for me! I did go to US for my masters in Industrial Engineering! Those two years in Clemson were without an ounce of doubt the best years of my life and I wanted to settle down in US like any other engineering graduate. I do not think I was asking for too much from destiny. But I guess destiny is like a woman’s mind. You will never really be able to completely decode it. I came back to India because I lost the most precious man of my life, my father! It’s his birthday today and I still miss him badly! I did want to go back to US but couldn’t go back! After I returned from US I went through a lot of painful incidences for no fault of mine and for reasons I still am unable to fathom! I found myself being drowned in a whirlpool of pain! It was at this juncture that this profession happened! I can confidently say that this profession was an angel in disguise which pulled me out of the whirlpool of pain and acted as a savior! When I started off with counseling in the year 2010, I hardly had any idea about the finer nuances involved in the art of counseling. I did not take up this profession out of conscious choice! I never received any formal training for it! It just happened to me! And I must admit that it is the best thing that has happened to me until date! A lot of well-meaning people did question my choice of taking up counseling professionally! Some of the questions use to be like, “If you have spent 20 lakhs in your MS in US, why don’t you take up engineering job? Why are you wasting your degree? Why are you not joining some MNC? Is this what you truly want for yourself? What is your aim 10 years down the line? Will this help you achieve the standard of living you were aspiring for? To be frank, I did not have a conclusive answer to any of these questions when I started off into this profession. I did try to get engineering jobs but nothing right was coming my way. 4 years down the line I can now figure out why engineering jobs did not come my way! My dreams were shattered back then! Subconsciously I wanted to reconstruct my dreams! And the only way I could do this was not by taking up some technical job! It was my dream to have a good quality education and a quality life! The only way I can see my dreams being fulfilled was by helping my wonderful students fulfill their dreams! I feel as if a broken part within me being repaired when I see my student getting an admit in a good university! It gives me immense joy when their VISA gets approved! Trust me, the joy, excitement and enthusiasm of my students is infectious! I feel that I have succeeded when I see any of my students getting a dream job which they aspired for! I live my life through their dreams! And I now have the answers to all the questions posed to me when I started off in this profession. The answer to the above questions is as follows:

If you have spent 20 lakhs in your MS in US, why don’t you take up engineering job?

I admit I did spend a large amount for my MS in US. But the natural corollary to it is not that I should take up an engineering job to recover my expense! I took up a profession which helps me guide students in a manner that I ensure that they spend their money wisely! An engineering job would have prevented me from playing a larger role which adds meaning to my life and the lives of people around me. I am by no means advocating that you should take up a profession which is out of sync with your degree. But I am certainly advocating that you should try your level best to take up a profession which lends meaning to your life. The money that I spent for my US degree would be recovered by me, though not soon but at some point of time in near future for this is just a tangible sum. But the worth of the intangible returns that I am reaping by guiding students correctly cannot be measured in monetary terms! I use my US experience to guide my students correctly and that is the biggest return on my investment!

Why are you wasting your degree?

Am I? My students can answer this question better! It is my degree in US which helps me take a correct call for my students! When I have to help them make a choice between two conflicting universities, the experience that I gained in US is the one that I put to use! A simple “thank you” from my student after they get their admit is a proof of the fact that my degree is not a waste! My degree is not a waste because I am making use of it for greater good and not simply bettering the lot of myself or my family!

Why are you not joining some MNC?

I am not joining any MNC for the simple reason that I would not get to be a part of such a wonderful voyage! Trust me, the joy that you feel is without any bounds when you see that you have played a role in fulfilling some one else’s dream! No high paying job would give you that kind of a satisfaction!

Is this what you truly want for yourself?

Yes! 4 years down the line I feel that this is what I truly want for myself! I truly want my students to succeed! My students are a part of my value system! They are a part of me! They influence me at many levels! I truly want to be a part of their lives and their dreams! I truly want them to be successful and I want to be a part of their success stories! I live my life through their dreams! Each year when a new batch enrolls, I get to be a part of new hopes, new visions and new dreams! Each year when these students fly successfully, I feel as If my hopes are being fulfilled, my vision is being achieved and my dreams are coming true! Can you really ask for something better than this? :-)

What is your aim 10 years down the line?

My aim 10 years down the line, rather as long as I am living would be to continue doing what I have been doing! I would want to be a part of my students lives for as long as I live! This is what I aim and aspire for!

This is not to say that counseling does not have its pitfall! Anxious students call me all the time! It does take a lot of effort to calm them down, to motivate them, to ensure that they make correct applications, select proper universities, perform well in their GRE/TOFEL and other entrance exams, help them with their RECOS and SOPs to the best of their ability, arrange for finances, confidently appear for their VISA and fly safely! But then, this is what gives me the kick! The fact that I am there for them when they need me the most!

I take this opportunity to thank each and every of my wonderful student for allowing me to be a part of their wonderful lives! I wish each and every one of you great success and good luck! I would also like to take this moment to thank everyone who has helped and supported me all through this vision and mission of mine… :-)

Love you all….. And wish to help many more to come… :-)

P.S.: Happy Birthday Dad… Missing you everyday…

Nice

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“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Go Vote Election 2014 Download

I have always had a feeling that I am taking a risky voyage in the sea of cynicism right from the time I could comprehend politics, the attitude of the folks around me as regards the participative democracy, and whether, if at all, we can make difference, if any. As election time is around the corner, I feel that the voyage is passing through the furious sea storm of cascading detachment towards civic responsibility, and the rising wave of cynical attitude that would drown the ship of democracy and consequently the nation. The person whom I miss the most during the times of Elections is my Father… When he was alive, he used to go to vote the first thing in morning and I used to walk up to the polling booth along with him and just enjoy the feel of elections till the time I turned 18 and post that I voted in every single elections while I stayed in India. After coming back from the US, I have again voted in the local election conducted and I have never refrained from my right to vote. My father used to take a leave on the results day and follow the news channels right from the morning and by afternoon used to make his own analysis of the newly formed government. To be honest, my first lessons in politics, elections, government were from my father. 2014 is one of the biggest elections of India which is working on a very high budget and the parties are coming up with various marketing and campaigning strategies and his insights would have surely been an added value for me…

With the Congress talking about reforms, BJP talking about the change and AAP which is a new party talking about corruption, each one is providing an exciting preview of what they wish to work on and what they wish to achieve in the next 5 years. I have made up my mind on the voting but a conversation between two of my well educated friends is the reason why I am inspired to write this article. The other reason being that, if through this article, I am successful in inspiring even a single individual to vote, I will have the hope that the winds of cynicism would pass away leading to the calming of the sea and the consequent safe voyage for the ship of democracy. Whilst I do read in the newspaper that there is a 60% turnaround in voting; at the cost of sounding pessimistic, I still ask the question as to what prevents the remaining 40% of the populace from exercising their franchise? I will reproduce the conversation between my two friends. For the sake of privacy, I would call them Hope and No-hope

Hope: Hey, so whom are you going to vote for?

No-Hope: Yeah right! As if I have nothing better to do…

Hope: What? What do you mean by that? I am sure that you have a lot of better things to do, but by no means is it the question of comparing voting with your other “so called other better tasks”. You talk about enrolling for the army; you would fight for your nation on the borders but you will not take two steps for selecting the right candidate who would ensure that we do not have to fight for our day to day needs! I recall the quote of Bill Vaughan who said that “A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.”

No-Hope: Oh really? And I recall a quote of Ambrose Bierce which goes like that “Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.”Enough of your lecture! How will my one vote make a difference? Even if I do cast my vote, what is the guarantee that the rest of the uneducated lot would select the absolutely non-corrupt, non-biased, secular, honest and good candidate? What is the guarantee that such candidates are contesting elections at the first place? It is all about money and power, isn’t it? I am not fooling myself and I advise you that you stop fooling yourself as well!

Hope: You make a wreck of your country only when you do not exercise the right to vote wisely! Have you heard the quote of Aeschylus “In the lack of judgment great harm arises, but one vote cast can set right a house.” You may never know! That one vote might be yours! Your vote can just set the house right! You are concerned about the guarantee of the uneducated people casting their vote the right way! But after listening to you, I can guarantee you that educated people like you are worst then uneducated people. They at-least cast their vote. They are at-least attempting to make the process work. They are at-least trying to set the house right! You talk about the background of the candidate. Have you done your homework? Have you checked the list of the candidates standing from your area? Have you done their background check? Are you generalizing from your past experiences? People have given their lives to secure the right to vote! Here the right to vote is served to you on platter and you are throwing the plate away! This is one area of your life where after the fact of death that equality is guaranteed! Your weight carries equal weightage as that of a CEO or MD of an MNC! There is no discrimination whatsoever! So why not exercise? Why not try? You always complain about your rights being violated, about your rights being deprived! Here no body is depriving you of your rights to vote, except yourself, by not voting!

No-Hope: Okay fine! Let me think about it! I am burdened with too many issues at this stage to be concerned with one more!

Hope: Sure! I am happy this conversation has at-least got you thinking. But remember, if you take a cynical stand once again, and do not exercise your right in its true spirit, your issues are only going to multiply in the next five year and you will be left with nothing but regret about not casting your vote.

I was a silent spectator to this debate. I am sure there will be millions of parallel debates happening on this topic all throughout the country. I also wish that all these debates end with “HOPE” having the final say! GO AHEAD AND VOTE. AND REMEMBER THAT YOUR DUTY AS A CITIZEN DOES NOT END WITH VOTING, IT ONLY BEGINS!!! Your 1 vote will decide the future of the Country for the Next 5 YEARS!!!

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I have been born and brought up in Mumbai and since 1985, I have seen various changes around me but recently I was going through an article which described Mumbai in the pre-independence era when it was called as Bombay. I don't feel like writing a lot about it but this pictorial representation will talk a lot about Mumbai back then… Yes then, when our grand parents were a part of Mumbai (Bombay) and they have told us the story of the Bombay during their times… :-)

Churchgate Station in the Year 1910...

Churchgate Station in the Year 1910…

Churchgate Station in the Year 1930....

Churchgate Station in the Year 1930….

Apollo Bunder... Now known as Gateway of India...

Apollo Bunder… Now known as Gateway of India…

Asiatic Town Hall...

Asiatic Town Hall…

Ballard Pier which was a Railway Station back then...

Ballard Pier which was a Railway Station back then…

Yesteryears Frontier mail departing from the  Ballard Pier Railway Station...

Yesteryears Frontier mail departing from the Ballard Pier Railway Station…

Kalbadevi Road... Looks quite busy even back then...

Kalbadevi Road… Looks quite busy even back then…

Vintage Mumbai...

Vintage Mumbai…

Till 1930, trains used to run till Colaba Station as compared to the Churchgate Station today...

Till 1930, trains used to run till Colaba Station as compared to the Churchgate Station today…

Colaba Reclamation.... Pleasant....

Colaba Reclamation…. Pleasant….

The Beauty of Cuffe Parade...

The Beauty of Cuffe Parade…

The very famous Oval Maidan in the year 1875...

The very famous Oval Maidan in the year 1875…

Gowalia Tank...

Gowalia Tank…

Queens Road...

Queens Road…

Marine Drive in the year 1930... Buzzing with traffic 83 years ago...

Marine Drive in the year 1930… Buzzing with traffic 83 years ago…

VT Station... Now known as CST Station... This beauty is intact even today...

VT Station… Now known as CST Station… This beauty is intact even today…

Another view of the VT Station...

Another view of the VT Station…

Walkeshwar... The hub of the Business Community...

Walkeshwar… The hub of the Business Community…

Wilson College... Unfortunately, I see the crowd missing... ;-)

Wilson College… Unfortunately, I see the crowd missing… ;-)

Steam Engines at the Parel Shed... Inspiring for any Mechanical Engineer...

Steam Engines at the Parel Shed… Inspiring for any Mechanical Engineer…

Local Train at Elphinstone Station in the year 1930... Look at the Number of Rakes... Its a 3 Rake Train....

Local Train at Elphinstone Station in the year 1930… Look at the Number of Rakes… Its a 3 Rake Train….

And this is Dadar...

And this is Dadar…

Bombay Central....

Bombay Central….

The infamous Bhayendar Bridge... ;-)

The infamous Bhayendar Bridge… ;-)

Parsik Tunnel, Thane...

Parsik Tunnel, Thane…

I am sure you all must have enjoyed this pictorial representation of the Old Bombay… If you have any more Photos of the Old Bombay, feel free to share with me. I'll add them to this post.

Hiren Rathod.

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