Friday, May 15, 2009

Mirror mirror on the wall, would I rather be them all?

I consider myself one of the luckiest beings alive, cause I have taken the path less traveled by. Well, I didn’t exactly take the path, but I was born into it. Less traveled by because not many have the opportunity to complete secondary education and further more get a chance to go to college, that to abroad. I was born into my family and hence I can afford it, if not where would I be right now?

I could have been into a remote village in India, where I would learn my alphabet under a tree under the scorching sun or leaking roof. I would start working as a laborer at the age of 13. I would eventually start getting involved with alcohol, gambling and crime by the time I was 18 and then probably be in jail, or drunk in some corner with no-one who I could call my own, or killed in a brawl. The system is such that only the weakest and the strongest survive, the rest are left to fight it out and die. Women in villages are the ones who show their children glimpses of hope and of a future. The men are drunk and abusive. The few good men are checked and stopped at every step. They are usually the ones who get up after every beating they take just because they care for someone other than themselves. To be frank I have lived in the roomful of mirrors. I saw only me and my life revolved around me. I have finally realized that joy is something I can only get if I gave joy to others. Seeing a small kid run up to you calling to join her in her game of stone throwing and catching and giggling every time I failed and faltered gave not only them a reason to laugh and smile but for me to laugh and smile at myself. At first it seemed as if they were mocking me. Telling me that I had a good life so why the hell should be here, but later it became quite clear that my presence gave them hope that they could be like me. They could help their own community and makes others feel joy, I don’t know how I did that but apparently I did. This one daily wage laborer working on the site with me told me he was helping build this school so his brother could have a better life than what he had had. This other woman said to be that she was working here because doesn’t want to feel helpless anymore, when her kids ask her questions she didn’t have an answer to, her kids would get a chance to find their own answers.

Now, moving on to more developed countries. I could have been born into poor minority community living in the projects, in the US, where I lived for gang pride and honor. Where as a kid I would be taught to hustle and use weapons to kill. I would be taught that we rob the rich and kill them so that we can survive. I would be told that I had no future working a legit job, which is very true. Racial discrimination was prevalent for a very very long time. But today I might have a fair chance at living a normal life instead of hustling or killing or extorting for pride. But then again this is an extreme case. I could have also been born a middle class child who had to live his own life the minute I turned 16 and begin to support myself and branch away from my family who couldn’t afford me any more. I would slowly lose respect for humans and transform into a druggie who stole from relatives and friends and smoked up their money.

I am brown and I always will be. Why should I try to be someone else when I am not?
Why should I try to sympathize with those who I don’t even know? Why should I feel pity or jealousy? Why should I live in fear of someone? Why should I live my life for someone else? I should learn best how to be me and the way I can help those who are less fortunate not by felling pity or sympathizing, but by empathizing and reaching out and seeing through their eyes. How ever hard the system tries to reduce me to a wooden puppet, I will resist. How ever hard society tries to mould me into a being socially acceptable, I will resist. I will only facilitate my growth as me. I have lived in a roomful of mirrors, and so far I have only feared me. Breaking the mirror will destroy the image and my fear and open up a pathway into a more colorful world!

Monday, April 6, 2009

formal farewell speech

I stand today for the last time before you as a student and the head-boy of the Hyderabad Public School with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few thoughts with you, my fellow eagles. It is said "Parting is such sweet sorrow." For me the sweet part is joining New York University, and the sorrow - the good-byes to you all, and our principal, my teachers, the service staff, and of course, leaving this august institution.

Before I bid you all good-bye, and share a few thoughts about our school and express my gratitude, I would like to quote from a song by Nickelback…

“My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day’s a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned
Leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less travelled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

Going against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts cause there's no second try
So live it like you're never living twice
Don't take the free ride in your whole life …”

I look at our school, as a great school, with a wonderful history, magnificent traditions, proud of its past, and with a very bright future. Our school teaches us to mutually trust and respect each other, achieve individual aspirations and getting on in life with social compassion and helping others.

Thank you HPS for showing us the difference between the easy way and the right way,

Thank you for appreciating us for who we are,

Thank you teachers for being more a friend than just a conventional teacher,

Thank you for teaching us to respect every person and the positions they hold,

Thank you for teaching us how to live our own lives instead of telling us how to live our lives,

Thank you for teaching us to rejoice simple joys and great triumphs with the same zest and zeal,

Thank you for letting us draw our own lines of freedom and teaching us to stand up for our actions and beliefs,

Thank you for giving us our space and freedom,

Thank you for teaching us the value for discipline,

Thank you for fostering our transition from boys to men,

Thank you for being our family,

Thank you for giving us umpteen opportunities to discover ourselves,

Thank you for teaching us humility in success, courage in failure,

Thank you for making every moment in this palace an ever-lasting memory,

Thank you for teaching us how to lead and be lead,

Thank you for helping us be somebody rather than anybody.

I thank you for the many opportunities given to me to be of service as the head-boy. I immensely benefitted from my role and duties and trust that in my work you found some things worthwhile. I will strive to over-come the shortcomings as has been instilled in all of us by our school.

Once again thank you HPS… and let me end with these beautiful lines written by Tom Petty…

“You and I will meet again,
when we're least expecting it,
One day in some far off place,
I will recognize your face,
I won't say goodbye my friend,
for you and I will meet again.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

I couldn't figure out what I should title this post because it will never do justice to what I feel. 2008 saw me make and break a lot of things and the things that broke not only broke but shattered and the things that were made well... only a few remained joined. I have only weakly grown strong over the last year. I made a choice which is seemingly impossible to keep. Time and again everyone was right but there was something which didn't let me give it up. It’s almost time for me to say good bye now. A few more weeks and today will be history, everything so far will be a memory and everything I did will be a mistake I shouldn't have committed. I let the unsaid remain as it is and I let the un-did remain as well. I bottled up and now there is no space to accommodate. I intend on restarting something which had started 17 years ago and something that happened 17 months ago... but is it really that easy? I think not. If it were we'd all be jolly and merry, but for me I have always derived pleasure from grief. But I can't anymore. Let this be an official apology for all those who I have hurt during my existence and also a notice to all those whom I love that... I love you. It’s not the constant meeting or talking or what ever it might be that makes one special it’s just that when they say they love you and mean it. I believe I am two and I always have been. And those who have loved the both of me I thank you and promise to love you too. Power and respect are two things one can never achieve but can only earn and all those who might have thought it can be earned are under a delusion. 2009 promises to be just like any other year but I promise to make the best of it. Days, weeks and months will fly by just like last year and it’s those bugs on the windshield and those memories in the drivers and back seat that I shall remember forever. Punish those at fault and punish those for not having been at fault for it is them who are ignorant. Die a death where no one remembers the cause but remembers the events that lead up to our final live breath.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A journey back home.

My trips to Kolkata are like coming home after a tiring day at school. It’s the only place on earth I can just relax in all its true essence. Late mornings, lazy afternoons, eventful evenings and colourful nights which go on till the wee hours are all trademark Kolkata. Four events that stood out were “pan-dal hopping”, dandiya nights, the home of my uncles and aunts when they just began to learn the formal alphabet, and lastly but most importantly the city of ‘cal’.

It was my first ever pan-dal hopping experience. Pandal is pronounced as “Pan” as in the cooking utensil and “Dal” as in the dal in sandal. It basically is a time for wannabes to go bird watch and the rest just go to prove to their neighbours that they have a fancier car/scooter and dress up in their flashiest best. The only reason for this festival is to give West Bengal a much needed break from the bandhs.The only reason I went was because I needed a reason to while away time and also to watch the bird-watchers.

Dandiya nights. Something similar to Himesh’s tandoori nights in his latest blockbuster flop Karzzzz….. It was a culture shock for my “bhabhi” who doesn’t live in India anymore and me as well, we being NCR’s (Non Calcutta Residents). There is no difference between ethnic traditional clothes and almost nude nowadays. I would like to tell everyone that wearing a bindi on the head does not make one traditional. ‘Talli ho gayi” is what the garba-goers groove to and the dandiya sticks are meant to be kept in the back pocket and occasionally swirl them in the air poking fellow groovers. This is the time when all those who aren’t allowed to go pubbing/clubbing come out in full force and large hideous numbers. We were welcomed by drunkards at the entrance and then saw more sophisticated drunkards dislocating all their joints possible, some of which I didn’t even know existed. We then dared to go back for another dandiya night the next night. We encountered overenthusiastic people and puny, short tempered and the most in-effective bouncers there. God have mercy on their souls. Amen.

Home sweet home. My aunt and uncle took me to their childhood home. I was more concerned, shocked and taken aback. The building the size of a bungalow with more than 20 families stuffed in. Mind you all the families are financially stable and from the upper middle class. The room is of the size of a kitchen, and there is grime everywhere. Leaking walls and decaying pillars. Pan-filled courtyards and colour televisions in every room. It was like one big family living in the times of pre-independence. Sadness, grief and empathy filled our hearts to see everyone so happy even though there was only one bathroom they all shared. Inbuilt shops and coconut water vendors lined the streets which were filled with human faeces everywhere. But the only thing that they were living on was hope. It also made me feel a sense of pride as my family worked and earned their way out of there. An “I”opening experience.

And finally the city of “cal” itself. Gloomy mornings with people getting up at 8, bathing at 9, going to work at 10, government employees come home not before 7 and those working in private companies pretend to work till as late as 9 or 10 earliest, gallivant till dinner time while rubbing their exposed bellies and squatting very revealingly. Dangling wires from the times of the British to recently pan stained and peed on sidewalks epitomize Calcutta. Unnecessarily over-crowded streets and phuchka stalls at every street bend. Sultry weather all throughout the year and sweaty people too involved with themselves just make we want to come back to “cal” every year.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Head Boy Speech

I remember the very first time I walked into school in the fifth
grade, anxious and apprehensive. I wasn't even an eaglet then. My
wings had been tied up so tight that they required a burst of energy
to break free. I was made to recite a poem; I did so nervously, in
front of my entire class filled with strangers - strangers who would
eventually be an integral part of my transition from a child to a
confident boy to what I am today.

I remember the very first time I represented the school in an
interschool competition; it was in the 6th grade. The pride I felt was
indescribable. Since then being a representative the Hyderabad public
school has been a part of my identity, be it the IPSC tennis
tournaments, the interschool quizzes- national and international or
representing India at the Global Young Leaders Conference, attended by representatives of more than a hundred nations, on two separate
occasions over the last two years.

It took me a journey around half the globe to find something to live
by, I chose to live my curiosity, to answer my own unanswered
questions and be the un-be-able. I say this because today we – the
entire hps prefectorial board are about to wear the mantle of a
leader. Leadership is epitomized when we are the change we wish to see in others. Leadership is also about having a vision and realizing the
same, today we are being given the opportunity of realizing our

I have created an email id. This is for all
students, parents and teachers for their suggestions. All inputs
received will be discussed within the prefectorial board and then
appropriate steps will be taken. I will be putting forth my own
suggestions in the morning assemblies. The prefectorial board and I
will serve as the link between all concerned. During our tenure we
promise to put in our best efforts of realizing our collective vision
of being amongst the best educational institutions of India.
Today I feel truly honored for the opportunity given to me to serve
as the student representative of more than three thousand students,
each with vast talent and immense potential.

I would like to express my gratitude towards my brother who was also a fellow eagle, parents, family, teachers, the support staff, my friends
and HPS for helping me in spreading my wings to attain greater

I would like to end by quoting last year's head girl, Kavyashri
Cherala, (quote unquote) "We recognize that we need a spirit of
victory, a spirit that will carry us to our rightful place under the
sun, a spirit which will recognize that we, as inheritors of a proud
tradition, are entitled to a rightful place on this planet. If that
indomitable spirit was to arise and we work as a team, nothing can
hold us from achieving our rightful destiny."
On behalf of the Prefectorial Board, I promise that we shall embody
this spirit and ensure that we conduct ourselves in a manner befitting
the responsibilities we are being entrusted with.

"Sitaaron se aage, jahaan, aur bhi hain; abhi ishq ke imtehaan, aur
bhi hain;
Tu shaheen hain, parvaaz hai kaam teraa; tere saamne aasmaan aur bhi hain."

In parting, "aap humaare aakash na baandho."

As so brilliantly put by our national hero, Swami Vivekananda, "ARISE. AWAKE AND STOP NOT TILL OUR GOAL IS REACHED".

Friday, April 4, 2008

... o.o ...

11th grades done. one of the roller coasteric year of my life. left and rejoined school. made great friends lost them all. made one friend who made it all worthwhile. got back all my old friends. things are good now. this year saw a lot of ups and downs and what made it special was that i was responsible for all my actions and decisions and i don't regret a single one i made. this year i not only turned 16 but i turned into an adult. i realised that life's all about choice and doing the right thing, but i realised thats not always the case. being right all the time is not what makes life better its making the choices and standing by and and not regretting it. taking risks is what life's all about and not regretting anything you do is the living the fab life. people thought i rejoined school for selfish reasons, well yes i agree i did. i wanted a better social, personal and over all a better life and i do things only to me cos after all i am answerable only to my self and no one else. take things in your stride, don't wait for things to happen, make then happen.

this year started off on an all time high. things couldn't seem to get better. well they surely didn't get better. things declined and then when i was down life seemed not worth living. i went into depression and was a total mess in October and September and i lost faith in humanity it self. i was devastated. things got better when i was away from all this after a -new year- -_- i was off to Calcutta then for my sisters wedding and thing were peaking again. i had the time of my life there. got back had a shaky SAT exam cos of a few things that had just happened. and I'm very glad that someone stood by me and i didn't have to lone it out. things again went up hill from there, and only seemed to get better. now i sit here content and satisfied and loved. god has their own way of rewarding you for things you've done and sometimes he forgets but he always makes up for it.

this year can be summed up as eventful. made the most amazing friends. meet the most interesting and open minded and most off all i set my priorities right. people on my scale of importance are all set right and each of them know how much they mean to me. despite everything I've gone through those few moments i spent with them, those little talks, those little gestures is all what matters.

the start of the year saw me confused and in culture shock in a corporate college, i quickly got back only to see my self in an unknown place I'd spent half my life in. i didn't know anyone there nor did anyone know me. some people made it so much easier for me. little talks we would have, the walks we would take together. everything seems to just build up a complete trust on them and that very trust is what i cherish and will do anything to keep. words can prove fatal and i experienced it as well. the true meaning of being an adult is what i finally understood from someone and i am very thankful. farewell and reunion saw me being plummeted on the social strata and others seeing my true self. life's great so are those who make it....

" the journey has an end but what makes the end worthwhile are those who stay with you throughout till the end and make it to the finish by your side."
sometimes we live our lives for others and gain immense joy from it. I'm dedicating my life to those who are going to make it to the end with me, and those whom i have not yet met and the friendships i have not yet made. life has meaning adn is best defined by those in it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

what makes us an "i" and not one of them

not every movie you see moves you so deeply that it makes you want to do something, it makes you feel so angry that it makes you question. rang de basanti (rdb) and taare zameen par (tzp) are two such movies which touch someone at a very personal level as it is about something that we can relate to in our daily lives.
RDB is a movie about how a group of college goers lose their friend in an aircraft accident which was caused as a result of the negligence of the government. the government in order to make money buys cheap parts for the aircraft and eventually endangering the lives of pilots. instead of disregarding the accident as evening dinner time news they decide to do something like those freedom fighters they play the part of in a movie they are doing for a Britisher whose grand dad was posted in India as a general during their reign here. these college goers are reminded of their true identity and who exactly they are by a non-Indian. they plan on doing away with the corrupt minister of defense and later confess that its them and their reason for the killing which eventually causes a sensation across the country. and as a result made India think about their future and about what they have sacrificed to get freedom from the Britishers only to be slaves of corruption.
TZP is a movie about specially abled children. its about those who seem abnormal but are gifted in fields other than what we call normal. the way they look at the world is what makes them special and some of our finest genius' were specially gifted as in they were abnormal and saw things differently from what we the normal people saw. the child is 8 or 9 and suffers from dyslexia and he is tormented by his parents, friends and teachers as he is differently abled and is not very interested in studying. he is punished and sent away to boarding school where he meets his true friend in the form of the substitute art teacher, he understands the boy. the boys talent is art and with the help of the art teacher he overcomes every difficulty, he even does well in his regular subjects like math and English. the movie shows how ignorant parents are of their children and claim to "take care" of them, when they don't even realize that every child is special and have their own goal in mind. now a days scoring the highest in every exam is the apparently the only thing on every parents mind. they fail to realize that every kid is an individual and not a horse race who is trained to race. just because we live in a competitive world doesn't mean that we stop being ourselves. being ourself and being accepted by all is what children need and deserve.
every child is special and should be known for who he is and not for what he can become or what he should be, the moment we accepted this fact of life we are better humans and have understood the basis of human existence. go against what is wrong and be who you are is what these two movies convey to us. learn from everything but its ones own personal choice one makes that decides their future. don't settle for anything less than an answer and don't be someone you are not