Saturday, July 27, 2013

Top 5 idiots on Mumbai's Roads

Hey people this is the sixth post of a new weekly series called "Saturday Top 5". I guess the title is self explanatory and anyway, it shall be on a pilot basis due to a great response,this will be a regular series . Here's the last post of the series(LINK).Please leave your feedback about the idea and suggestions as well for the next post in the series


Well I recently turned 18 and along with the fact that I have a choice to choose which person loots my constituency for the next 5 years, I started with driving lessons. Now as a kid,I always made fun of Learners, making the L sign on my forehead as they nervously drove by,shouting "Loser Loser"(before you let your imagination run,I did this when I was 6,not 16.Well except that once )

But the biggest shock that hits you when you get behind those wheels,is the quality of drivers on our roads.It's as if the traffic rules are like India's football team i.e. existent and working on paper only. Even among this wide set of douchebags, I bring to you 5 of the biggest idiots you're bound to find on India's roads:

1.The sabzi buying aunty

She's every driver's nightmare. The typical Indian aunty who can scare the wits out of anyone anywhere and the biggest enemy of vegetable vendors. She can be found strolling on the middle of SV road(near fruit and vegetable markets mostly) with 3 bags of purchases and 4 bags of the free dhania she siphoned off from a poor soul whom she ironically calls Bhaiyaji. Oh! How can I forget? She loves doing this when the signal is green because crossing the street when the signal is red, is too mainstream. *sigh*

2.The slant parking wala
This is one person who takes Juhi Chawla's "Taedha hai par mera hai" too seriously. They’re infamous for blocking narrow streets by parking their vehicle in weird positions. Diagonally with the road is their favourite. That’s not even the worst part. They take their own sweet time to do anything may it be sipping the last few drops of tea to reversing their car with the mandatory grouch as if they're doing a favour to the world by returning back to sanity.

3. The giggling girls

Now you have this gaggle of girls who always walk in groups (or as I call it, the vixens travel in a pack). They're lost in their own world of gossip and other useless nonsense. But I kinda get it. I mean who cares about the freaking huge car that is honking at you for the past 5 minutes when you're regaling in mock horror at how Geeta wore a revealing dress at Samita's party while you secretly want to ask where your co-gossiper got her nails done but won't because it is not courteous. It's a tough job being a gossipy girl,believe you me

4.The “always in a hurry” uncle


There’s always this guy who’s in a rush. Seriously. Mostly found having a laptop bag slung over one shoulder even when the bag is empty, because they want to show the world that they have a bag which can carry a laptop. These idiots don’t walk, but rather sprint. They keep bumping into cars even at snail-like speeds of 10 KM/hr. (I say this out of a pure observation and not my particular hatred towards a community in particular, but 99% of the time, he’ll be Gujju)

5. The douche with a kickass car


Everyone knows this one rich,overspoilt brat who owns that dream car you drool over.These idiots tend to assume that the law is in their pocket and the streets are what colloquially are known as, his/her's "baap ka maal". They drive without any regard for anyone else on the road at speeds which would make Usain Bolt blush.They are primarily responsible for 90% of the explicits you shout at the road and 100% of your Mom's "aaj kal ki generation..." lectures.

Well people that's all for now.Auf Weidersehen!
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Top 5 Weirdos Aboard A Mumbai Local

Hey people this is the sixth post of a new weekly series called "Saturday Top 5". I guess the title is self explanatory and anyway, it shall be on a pilot basis due to a great response,this will be a regular series . Here's the last post of the series(LINK).Please leave your feedback about the idea and suggestions as well for the next post in the series


If you are from Mumbai(No Thane is not in Mumbai but for this post, yeah whatever), you must have traveled on those ultra modern trains which zip from one end of the city to the other without the nonsense of being traffucked on the road. Well this is the description we give to our friends who are non-Mumbaikars. Here's a scoop on the inside tale, as I state the description of the top 5 weird idiots I found on a Mumbai Local


1. The kewl uncle

He's that middle aged guy with a lot of hair who owns a high end smart phone and a huge tablet which he whips out even on a jam-packed Virar fast to play Subway Surfers. Never mind the fact that he sucks at it. In all probability, he’ll definitely be Gujju, with flashy formals who "oohs" and "aahs" at every jump

2.The kewl kid

Now this is the chutiya who'll be wearing fake Beats Audio Headphones, the size of Khali's head. Mostly in either a Che Guevara t-shirt or some cheesy pathetic lines like "I'm a stud. Problem?” They'll play some downright disastrous music and/or talk to their friends over the phone, abusing in mostly Marathi


3.The newspaper uncle

Now this is that one guy who carries newspapers. Tons of newspapers. He’ll probably be a person who boards from Virar,Churchgate or Borivali. He'll carry even vernacular newspapers, just to hold his title of "Newspaper man" even though he can't read them. If you're lucky enough that the person is carrying a sensible newspaper with content in a language you understand (No, Mumbai Mirror doesn't count), you can try sneaking in a few peaks but be prepared for some dirty looks
4.The virgin

Every day, every hour, every train has a person who's losing his train virginity. He'll awkwardly paw about the compartment before he prematurely ejaculates from the compartment onto a station he never intended to get down at. These people can be recognised by their appalled expressions on climbing a Virar Fast at 6.13 PM and some extremely stupid questions like "Andheri ke baad kaunse station hai?" Or "Charni Road kis side aata hai?" Or "This seat is meant for 3 people.Char already baithen hain.WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ADJUST?" .Oh I completely forgot the classic case where they fall asleep and wake up in exotic new lands which they haven't even heard of like "Daisar"

5.The survivors of Corporate War
Now these are those smartasses who give the term corporate-whores a new spin altogether. They board the train as if they own it, conclude deals worth lakhs over phone calls with funny sounding Gujju accents( Try this for some entertainment- “Aye bhai!Hoon snakes par boliyo ne trann lakh” which translates to Hey Dude! I said 3 lakhs over snacks!)

They complain about the weird smells on the train. They complain about the people aboard the trains. They complain about the frequent pauses the train takes. But those idiots will never sell off that Rolex they wear to buy a car for travelling. Sigh

That's all for now. If you liked it, so go mad with the sharing!
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown- A Book Review



Overpopulation always was and still is an uneasy topic. To put it simply, the world is simply too fragile and frankly, small to accommodate so many people. 7 Billion People are way too much.  Now throw in a rebel with a brilliant mind and a narcissist personality. Add art, mysterious hidden messages and of course, the element X, conspiracy theories and we have Dan Brown’s latest thriller.

This 480 paged novel is Dan Brown's 6th novel and 4th in his infamous Robert Langdon series (the others being "Angels & Demons", "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Lost Symbol"). With Inferno, Dan brings back our favourite Harvard Symbolism professor to Europe; Florence, Italy to be precise.



 

This location is ideal for the book. Drawing from Brown's usual style of writing, Florence is the best location for a thriller based on hidden messages in art, as it was the birthplace of the Renaissance. Housing many of the world renowned masterpieces, choosing Florence was not a mistake.

Moving on to the fine points of the book, Inferno is a well written classic Dan Brown thriller though not as controversial or conspiracy oriented in nature as his previous writings. Futuristic yes, but not quite. I won't reveal much about the plot yet except for the fact that it is themed on a Dante obsessed eugenic expert who has bold revolutionary ideas. Apart from that, the plot is one which all Dan Brown fans are familiar with, and due to the nature of deep familiarity, comfortable with.


The downfalls of the book are in certain subtle quirks, which differ from reader to reader. Although the plot is a Dan Brown usual, it doesn’t hold up in this case. It’s really tough to buy into the fact that a single person, no matter how intelligent he is, can outrun government agencies, privately hired mercenaries and in this case, even the personnel of the United Nations.

 

Secondly, Brown’s style of writing has always been something that people have been critics of. The unnecessary exuberance and constant skipping of pronouns in favour of names seems irritating now and appears to be farce to make the book thicker. I agree that a conspiracy centred book should be surplus with details, but in this case, we have copious amounts of writing but yet very little detail is to be found, leaving a huge unanswered question- “Is this(over descriptive writing or as I call it, “A song of Adjectives and Adverbs”) really necessary?”

 

To sum it up, if you loved Dan Brown’s previous work, you’ll definitely love this one but it won’t be your favourite. Imagine a art chase like Angels and Demons, a conspiracy like The Da Vinci Code, a real time problem like The Digital Fortress and a dull end like The Lost Symbol. There you go ladies and gentlemen, I lay bare the formula of his latest thriller, Inferno.



 

Click here to buy from Amazon or Flipkart

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Smart Phones,Dumb People by Parthajeet Sharma -A Book Review








The odd chances are that you are reading this on your smart phone, scowling at a screen which advertisement passes off as huge but in reality is a miniscule piece of glass which can hardly compete with a computer screen. Throw in that tiny notification that pops up every 5 minutes to tell you that you HAVE TO read an email or the phone will give you the "red blink". This book is a sum up of exactly this scenario

This 164 paged book is Parthajeet Sharma's first foray into writing. Mind you this isn’t a fairytale with a plot. Rather it is what you can call, a personal experience and observations themed narrative. Divided into four parts (namely Innovation, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Priorities and Corruption), the book addresses something that has been addressed multiple times but somehow the perfect message has never been echoed.

The book's high points are in its directness and relevant examples which can easily be related to. Parthajeet Sharma cites different ironies of today's idiosyncratic world wherein we are slowly marching to a world where humans are replaced by machines wherever possible. We can clearly associate ourselves with the book and there definitely shall be at least one moment(if not more) where you'll exclaim with joy after reading a statement and shrieking "THIS HAPPENED TO ME TOO"





The pitfall of the book is uni-fold. With a ubiquitous use of the language, Parthajeet has written a brilliant book but has failed to take the idea across."Smart Phones, Dumb People" can easily be dismissed as the rant of yet another good hearted person who dishes out the problem, debunks it and offers no solutions.

All in all, the book is a light read and can be polished off in a day.Infact I myself read the book in approximately 2 hours on a return trip aboard a Mumbai Local (Kandivali-Churchgate-Kandivali). So,if you would like to read a frank discourse on the current, so called "tech revolution", buy this book as soon as possible.

Click here to buy from Amazon






Smiley Ke Peeche Kya Hai?



I felt my breath knocked out of me. I gasped for some form of sensation as my heart began pumping at a thousand beats a minute. A little voice inside me asked me “Dude, why the panic attack?”. “She just walked in, that’s why you fool!” I snapped back as I saw her walking towards my table. Medium heighted, lithe figured and absolutely gorgeous, she always caused this reaction in me. I tried looking away, but I couldn’t as my eyes met her soft blue ones. Damn, she was beautiful. I somehow gathered myself, smiled weakly and tapped at my watch, not that I minded waiting though.
“Yes Shivam, sorry na the traffic was a bit too much!” she said, in her sweet little voice, both soothing and for the first time ever, hurting as well. She sat down across the table and said “plus this heat is killing me man! It’s so annoying”. I couldn’t help but laugh precariously as she shot a smothering look at me, but I couldn’t help but inspire the reaction as her child like voice matched the predicament I was in. It had been two weeks since I asked her out and she had shot me down. The worst part was that it was not a simple no, but a rather confusing message which tore at my inner fibres one by one. My eyes simmered as I got drawn into that memory.

Two weeks earlier

I don’t know what it is that I feel about you.Call it love, call it infatuation but your face always makes my heart skip a beat  <3
Shivani, will you be my girlfriend?
I could feel my heart pounding as I pressed “Send”. I quickly threw my phone on his bed and recoiled. What the hell just happened? I knew I would have to admit it to her someday, but in my mind it always was when I was down on one knee with a rose in my hand while she blushed a rosy red. “Balls to that!” I thought as he dismissed my thoughts, focussing on the more pressing issue at hand. Why did I have to screw things up?
It still was a wonder to me, as the gradual slope of my feelings had never let me see the mess I was creating. It started a year ago, when I was fighting a battle against his parents, peers and society. Trapped in an education stream which just trained me to be an engineer and be a shadow of a man, I wanted to be free and follow my heart. Having no one to turn to, I turned to the first person I found, Shivani. For almost no reason, by each passing day, my heart yearned to talk to her, bit by bit, turning into the feeling I felt today. Ironically, the very heart for whom I fought, betrayed me and led me down the path up to this moment, where my insides felt like molten lead, awaiting the gentle sound of an incoming message.
My phone beeped softly and I panicked.  As my hand reflexively reached for my Blackberry, I paused. My chest thumped as my heart went into overdrive. What if she said no? What if she said yes? Curiosity overpowered my fear as I opened the message and read it
I don’t know .I’m sorry but I just don’t feel the same way. I love you Shivam, you should know that. I don't show it at all. You’re a good friend but... L
I placed my phone down. My hands trembled as I did this. I couldn’t think. Not even a reaction. I simply sat and stared.

Present day

“Shivam?” she waved her hands in front of me to bring me out of my thoughts as I blushed and mumbled an apology. In retrospective, whenever I think about that moment, oddly enough I am reminded of the idiosyncrasy between movies and real life. In a movie,a heartbreak generally makes a hero lose control of himself, or he just lies in bed the whole day or anything that may just seem him to be a dead man breathing oxygen. Au contraire, in my case, all I felt was chilly wind blowing that night. All I heard was the chirping of the crickets at night and all I saw, was the screen of my phone, lying on my bed. No song serenaded my sorrow nor did a bunch of violinists console me. All I could do, and all I actually did was sleep. Although sleep, being the nefarious bitch she is, evaded me as I wondered, like all rejects in life do, about my fallacies.
“Gupta, you zone out once more and I’ll really slap you!” Shivani shrieked. “Let’s cut the chase and talk about what we or rather I wanted to, shall we?” I snapped back, albeit for no reason. We had agreed to meet only for a sole purpose. To sort out our friendship. Yes, I hated being rejected by her. I hated not being her boyfriend. I hated being just another friend. But damn, I missed her as a friend as well. I had ruined a really special bond and we both had realised we had to fix it. You always hear the proverbial “Never be friends with your ex” or “It’s tough to be friends with your ex”. But no one had ever invented a rule for the ask-her-out-and-get-rejected friend. All we had was the good ol’ “Don’t fall for your best friend’s ex” and being the idiot I was, I had broken this rule as well

13 days ago

I sat in the shower, the water running down my hair and into my eyes, blurring my already blurred vision but I was lost in my own thoughts. Last night, was my first heartbreak. These were moments I had heard of, but never experienced. I started thinking harder. A tiny voice inside him spoke “ You know she still has feelings for Aaryan. Even if she might have gotten close to you post their break up, the point remains that you are his best friend and well, you can’t expect to just have no emotions after a 4 year long relationship.” Simultaneously, another thought scratched my neurons. Aaryan was dating Divita. Both Divita and Aaryan knew about his feelings and surprisingly Aaryan had just smiled and said “Go ahead bro.” Divita, on the other hand wasn’t sure. Although she didn’t say it, Divita felt a bit uncomfortable with the whole group dynamic. Shivam loved her for the amazing person she was but ever since she started dating Aaryan, Shivani hated her. The dipping temperature of the water brought me back to my senses as I quickly walked out of the shower after wiping off the water, and dubiously, the weird situation I was in.
I dressed and checked my phone, surprised to find a BBM from Divita already awaiting my attention. I thought back to the time I had bonded with her. Divita was a fun girl and a really amazing friend. I don’t know why and how and where, but somehow, we clicked. There’s this beautiful thing that I read somewhere about deep friendships. “Friendships don’t have a reason, nor do they have a cause or a result. They just happen and exist. Immaterialist. Undemanding. Loving and most importantly, forever.”  Divita was special. She knew it and so did we. The problem was entanglement. To tell you simply, Divita was dating my best friend, to whom I had introduced her. Shivani was great friends with her until Divita started dating Aaryan. This always made me feel odd. I have no other word for it. What was I doing in the middle of this? The story always was and always shall be of a trio. Two girls, one guy. That’s how it has always been. That's how it always be.One on of my friends,half drunk on vodka once told me, "Bro!Have you ever heard of a love square?No na? It's always a love triangle or a couple,never four."Anyway,ignoring the dubious yet well thought over theory my mind invented, I decided I would not open Divita's message.I simply was not ready for venting my heart out.Plus I knew that if I talk to her or Aryaan or Sneha or Sameer or any other close friend,I would have a breakdown.I forced my thumb to scroll past Divita and opened the "Recent Updates" tab.It informed me that Preeti had a new dog whom she could eat up(ironically followed by a <3 smiley) and Rameez was screwed for his Chemistry exam which he announced on Twitter,complete with a #facepalm .But it was the third notification my eyes zeroed on. "Shivani Rai changed her display picture".It was nothing elaborate, a nice little picture from college.But she changed her display picture once,and my heart broke a thousand times over.

Present Day

I stared into her eyes as these memories rushed past me in a whirl. She was looking as pretty as always and yet oddly,the brain rush this moment inspired was not quite what it always was."Look Shivam, I'll cut straight to the chase.I,ummmm,I don't want to hurt you but the truth is that I don't know what I feel.I simply don't feel anything.I don't want to be in this state,but somehow I am. It's awful that I'm doing this to you and I'm sorry for it but I..." She stopped mid-sentence as she saw me stare into her deep eyes.She let me.I sighed and exhaled.I knew that this day would be tough.Knew it every moment since these 13 days.

13 days ago

The urge to not crave in lasted exactly 2 hours,42 minutes and 13 seconds as I warily gave up and opened Divita's message. "Morning Lawyer ji :D" it read,to my dual emotions of relief and tiny pangs of sadness.I ended up doing what I feared I' would do.Pouring my heart out. The end of the conversation though,was harrowing and made me thank my stars for having such amazing friends who could talk sense into me.Just before I was about to have lunch, Aaryan messaged me, "Theek hai yaar, you'll get better stuff man!" Now here’s the thing among guys. We generally tend to avoid a strong display of emotion even if you’re close as hell. It’s not as rigid as a taboo but not as much as a convention to be broken. The best way to put it is that we don’t engage in such talks ever, and that’s why, a guy ALWAYS needs a girl best friend. Shivani had played that role ever since what I now refer to as “The Plunge”. Namita, my friend from childhood, too was one. Ruchi too was always there to hear me out since I bonded with her in eighth grade. However, Divita too had slowly become one of my closest confidant and I had reached a stage where everything from the suit I would wear to the next day’s conference to the proof reading of my next article, everything had to go throw her filter as well. Anyway, I smiled as I read the message, albeit I’ll admit, not a happy one, but rather, the sad one. The one which makes you wonder why would God ever grant a human being the ability to express such great sorrow and sadness via an instrument to rejoice in happiness. Yes, that one.
Almost simultaneously, Divita sent me this message - “You asked me how to confirm if it’s love? It’s simple. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and exhale, while opening your eyes. Now read this poem

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!”
If she is the one you imagined when you read after each line, you’re truly in love my friend!”

Present day

With Divita's words in mind, I began speaking. The words, however, though flowing through my mouth, although in no way false, lacked a sincerity. Grudgingly I let myself go. “Shivani, you have no idea how tough or how embarrassing or how stupid or how pathetic my situation is. I’m an average guy who just while discovering his life falls in love with his best friend’s ex girlfriend of four years who still has feelings for him. You have absolutely no clue about my place and you never will be able to even estimate the pain that I felt. I really don’t know if I can pull off being just friends because I have some feelings for you which just don’t go away. You may not date me; you may not talk to me but at the end of the day the truth of the matter remains that my qutiuya dil makes me love you more, and more and more. Every second, every minute, every hour and every day of my life.” I do not remember what I said after this rant. However this I remember vividly. I mentally could see Shivani descending a staircase as a beam of moonlight lit across her face and reddened the red blush of her soft cheek. She truly Walked in Beauty in my thoughts. I remember thinking how there might have been a day when I would have been the one at the receiving end of her adoration and her eyes would search the room to find mine, only to be delightfully lit up on meeting mine. I imagined that us dancing together, to some slow smooth waltz, her hand on my shoulder and my hand around her waist. We would do nothing but look into each other’s eyes as we glide across the dance floor. The imaginary her smiled at imaginary me’s cheesy dream and her smile widened when she realised how it was a scenario the Bollywood addict in me loved. Slamming shut these thoughts with great difficulty, I got up from my chair and noticed her face filled with genuine confusion and perhaps the light was playing a trick on my eyes, a tiny sliver of sadness. I tried my level best to hide the tear that slid out of my eye and walked out. Out of the booth, the restaurant, our friendship and regretfully, her life.

Two years later

I sat by the ledge of the promenade on Marine Drive, few of the only places on Earth where I truly feel solitude in happiness. I stared deep into the horizon as I saw the sunset. The orange-yellowish hue of the sun descended into the ocean, like a deep ball of fire being reunited with its maker, only to be swallowed up.  The sun would rise again tomorrow and I was sure, that the innocent little moon would be careless enough to fall in love with the ocean, only to be crushed with rejection when morning would arrive. Somehow, I felt that I had a soft corner for the moon. Always existed, yet I could never put a finger on it. I pulled out my iPod and plugged in my earphones as a track came on
“Tujhe Bhula Diya, oho
Tujhe Bhula Diya, oho
Phir kyun teri yaadon ne,
Mujhe rula diya,oho
Mujhe rula diyaa...”
I guess you never ever get over anyone you ever had strong feelings for.  You may forget almost virtually everything about your school life, but you do remember your first crush, the one whom you secretly glanced at and worked up your chemistry with when the chemistry teacher would look away. You may forget the endless conversations you have over BBM or Whatsapp, but you will always remember that moment when you meet and talk and declare your feelings for the other. The rains slowly started to pour, and despite all my attempts to be the hip-Bollywood guy, I simply could not bear to let myself get wet and soaked. I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt as a tear rolled down my cheek, lost among the thousands of other droplets of the rain. It never was easy to forget someone you love and it gets harder when you’re served with those unwanted reminders. I look back now and think about those long chats I always had with her, ending each one of them with a hug smiley or a kiss smiley. But, Smiley ke peeche kya hai , that was neither known to me or her. I have accepted the fact that love is not always a battle you win, or a battle you lose. With a sad smile dancing on my face, I confidently say that I have moved past her. But I would be a liar to deny, if on a cold, winter night, when I sit by the window and stare into the sky, my heart sometimes lets out an involuntary plea of love, hoping and wishing that somehow, she would be there, just there, beside me. Forever and ever.
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