Monday, October 15, 2018

Bhainaland : The Unplanned Blind Date With (Yes!) Bhubhaneshwar

Rhomboid white boards, the quintessence of Indian railway stations, with Bhubaneshwar written in Hindi, English and Odia welcome me onto the platform. Each one of them is attached to a pillar holding up the perforated asbestos roof. A giant black and white clock, coated with a thin layer of dust, hangs from one of those pillars. Its otherwise dead minute hand flexes every thirty seconds or so, as if hiccupping. It shows 11 a.m. My train has reached on time, however not many are as lucky as I am. Announcements blare non-stop from loudspeakers. The ubiquitous robotic voice nonchalantly avers that the train supposed to arrive on platform number three is running late by a paltry seven hours. As a consolation, it adds, ‘The inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.’

The commotion is overwhelming. There are hordes of people moving in all directions: red-clad porters, carrying as many as three to four suitcases stacked on their heads as if they were pots. Passengers, weary from the journey, uninterestedly haggle with porters whose gamchas are rolled on their heads like doughnuts. Tiny effervescent children persuade their parents to allow them, not the porters, to wheel the gargantuan case with rollers.

As the crowd drifts past, some even harmlessly brushing against me, I notice stationary faces – dark, chubby and moustached – caught in this tumult against time, staring at me. I try easing the wrinkles of my white shirt and reset my ruffled hair. With a piece of tissue, I wipe away the last vestiges of the journey’s grime from my sneakers. The stares don’t cease. I look into the camera of my handicapped Nokia 5233. Nothing is amiss, except for the slightly disheveled hair and a face damp with sweat. While the rest of northern and central India is bathed in spring, summer arrives as early as March on the east coast and stations itself like an annoying guest who’s not willing to take leave until November.

Fragments of a new language waft in the air. Odia, a tongue as circular as its script, is by no means easy. For someone conversant in Hindi and English alone, this unfamiliarity is enough to set one’s pulse racing. What am I doing here? Why on earth did I decide to come to Bhubaneshwar of all places! How easy would it have been to remain at home, eat good food while surfing Facebook, as opposed to getting burnt in the early Eastern summer? My backpack seems to have doubled in weight, my calves plead for respite. I put it down on the platform studded with petrified betel stains and squat over it.

Through the jungle of legs, a shrill whistle manages to make its way to my ears. A giant trolley conveying upon it numerous parcels, with numbers writ on them in red and white, impales the mob at brutal speed. Its conductor, an emaciated boy clenching the whistle, swings his hands like the wipers of a car to rid of the idlers on its way. I withdraw myself just in time before getting flattened. My ears start to buzz and palms get clammy. I squirm as a thin trickle of perspiration drips down the small of my back. There is throbbing at unusual places – fingertips, jugulars and the temples – where it is the loudest, as if gnawing through my brains. In some time, it becomes the only thing I hear. No, this couldn’t be a panic attack, could it? I have never had one before. Why would I even get one? I am young, fit and hardy. I have experienced much worse. Like having had to live on moldy bread when I was an entrepreneur on the verge of bankruptcy. To worsen my dehydration, there is now a sudden urge to pee.

I climb back up on the train with my luggage and rush to the toilet. The previous occupant has left behind his precious leftovers for me that are contentedly lazing in the Indian railway commode. The thought of him hopping away happily on the platform while I’m stuck having to tolerate his shit enrages me. I flush thrice, do my business and wash my face. Despite the repugnant odour, I stay in the cubicle for a few minutes, doing nothing, breathing in the constant ‘Indian train’ smell, and staring at myself in the pockmarked mirror. There are traces of fear – in the faint lines of the forehead, in the beads of sweat glistening on the sideburns, and in the quiver in my voice as I try to hum an old R.D.Burman song in an attempt to calm myself.

‘I think I left my … huh … phone here.’ A petite man of around thirty with large elephant-like ears barges into the toilet, nudging me in. He has a peculiar voice that is slightly shrill, the kind on the telephone that is often mistaken for a woman’s. He peers into the snot-laden basin. It clearly doesn’t interest him; his reflection in the mirror does, which he leaves only after adjusting his hair. Finally, he looks into the potty hole with significant interest. This man, in his yellow shirt and black trousers, is the one I flushed a minute ago.

‘You used this toilet after me, hai ki nahin? Isn’t it?’ The man is hideously small, so much so that I can lift him up by the scruff of his vomit-yellow shirt and hoist on top of the train. ‘First I’ll check you and your bag.’

His authoritative tone doesn’t go well with his childlike voice. I try to push him aside. His elephant ears redden and he fumes as if about to puncture my balls any minute. With his height, he probably can.

‘It was a Nokai,’ he adds. ‘I had all my contacts in it.’
‘Nokia, you mean?’
‘No, Nokai. Chinese brand. Half price, same looks.’

I ask for his number and dial it on my phone before he dares to frisk me. Something somewhere rings; it’s a bhajan, a prayer-song. As both of us start looking for the source, our heads bang into one another. The man starts to laugh, a high-pitched neigh, for no apparent reason. He begins unbuttoning his pants and this time, my ears turn red. I push him aside and rush out onto the platform. Twenty meters away, safe amongst the very same people who seemed like spies earlier, my phone rings, flashing the number that I had dialed a moment ago.

‘It was inside my pant pocket. I put it there while using the toilet and forgot about it. Thank you so much for your help, bhaina, big brother.’

He compensates for the wasted roaming minutes by teaching me a new word in return, Bhaina.


Three foreigners with rucksacks, which appear significantly lighter and more compact than mine, manoeuvre out of the packed station with an enviable confidence. They seem to know the unsought railway station of this underrated city much better than I do. After gulping in some water, I follow them, trying hard to keep pace. Very soon, their dodging blond-heads disappear. They are too swift for me – a plump sedentary failed entrepreneur. Well, not too plump. Borderline plump, the kind where your face just starts to look fuller than before with a chin for each cheek.

The portico outside the station is surprisingly quiet. It opens up to a sprawling concrete piazza with cars, jeeps and autos parked on the periphery that would have become fully functional solar cookers. Other than a few auto-drivers swarming toward their prospective customers, there aren’t many people around. Soon I am mistaken for a staunch tourist – the backpack’s doing – and lured to visit the “‘Lingoraj’ Temple, only thirty rupees away”, and tempted to be shown a posh five-star hotel, most likely because I look like a waiter. I ignore them all. An auto-driver seated cross-legged near a chai-shop walks up to me, chafing his beedi on the concrete, and mutters indiscreetly, ‘if you want something else, I can arrange at no premium.’ I ignore him too. Perhaps, I should have spoken further with the last one to glean what exactly his something else comprised.

Away from the flurry of the station, the thrill of being on my own with an entire city at my disposal sinks in for the first time. At a relatively stranded bus station nearby, a local bus reeking of stale onions is about to head towards the other end of the city. I grab a seat by the window and stretch my long, long legs as far as I can, accidentally grazing against the leg of a middle-aged aunty seated in front. Before I could apologize, she turns, stares hard at me and mutters something in Odia that doesn’t sound too sweet. The bus conductor, a dark man with a face like a box and teeth as yellow as dal, comes forward and inspects me from top to bottom. I utter the only word I know: bhaina, hoping against hope that it placates him.

‘Five rupiya, first,’ he says in English, adding ‘bhaina’ on an afterthought. The word is magical. I take out loose change and place three coins on his greasy palm. He motions me to sit beside him, by the window. Like a dog in a car, I thrust my head out, away from the pungent smell of onions, drinking in the wideness of Bhubaneshwar’s roads.

The conductor prods me, in all politeness, to alight near a newly whitewashed building that’s infested with foreigners, perhaps considering how touristy (and clueless) I looked. Surrounded by manicured vegetation on all four sides, what looks like a forlorn boarding school turns out to be the State Museum from inside. One look and I silently scream a no! I’m not the museum type. I prefer spending time with living beings to dead fossils. Should I start sightseeing? In this heat? Or would I be better off meeting up with my potential host, the only person in my contact list who lived there, my friend from childhood, Amit Anand? I call Anand and tell him that I am in his city, and might need his help. He's surprised, receiving a call from me after ages, but his tone is most welcoming. Ajao, he says and texts me the address to his place. I walk on, with a smile this time.

A middle-aged man with a severe face and a smattering of grey hair on his head stands a meter ahead near the bus stop. Having cracked the code, the fundamental brotherhood that Odisha advocates, I prod him with a meek bhaina in hope of gaining some insights into his city. He glances at my rucksack and says with a grin, ‘New? New? Here? I, travel agent, laujj?’ He flies an imaginary airplane with his right hand directed to the other side of the road. I thank him for his gracious offer and cross the road before he does. A minute later, I pass by Amrita Deluxe “Laujj” on the other side – fully air-conditioned with “testy” food and hot water running all of 24 hours.

Random conversations with strangers, most of who are looking to extort money out of me, may render me penniless before sunset. The practical thing would be to rid myself of the parasitic rucksack as soon as possible. It has been a rather foolish decision to choke it with half a dozen books, a jacket, a change of shoes, a tablet, and an SLR among other redundant items. Half an hour later and a hundred rupees down in a smoke-spewing auto-rickshaw, I’m at Anand’s flat, lying comfortably on his bed with calm, wet winds gushing at my face from his cooler. Nothing can make me go back to the city until the sun calls it a day.

Anand, my host, is a final year student of engineering at the ITER College and lives along with six other guys in a dingy 3BHK very near his college campus. He also happens to be my first-ever friend in life. Being next-door neighbours in Patna, we grew up playing cricket with tennis balls, often hitting and losing them on neighbouring rooftops from where they could never be reclaimed. When I was 10, my father was transferred 200 kilometers away from Patna and our friendship – in the absence of cellphones, the Internet and the zest for writing letters – waned. Only a year ago, Anand somehow traced me on Facebook. Before starting off for Bhubaneshwar, I had hesitantly messaged him there if he could host me.

Although it has been almost eight years since we last met, there is no sense of unfamiliarity. His face hasn’t changed, neither has his appearance. He is as skinny as he used to be. The last time we saw each other, we were at the cusp of adolescence: a foot shorter, barely moustached and too decent to talk about girls. Instead, we would devote most of our time to WWE trump cards or cricket matches – on the TV during the day, and on the roof of our houses in the evenings.

After the cloud of awkward small talk cleared, I venture into indecent territory. ‘Any girlfriends?’ I ask. The phrase acts like a detonator that breaks loose the imaginary wall between us, all hesitation trounced in an instant. He shows me pictures of a bubbly and charming Bengali girl on his phone, his college-mate – ‘the best singer there’, while he plays the keyboard along with her.  There is a giant Roland on the side, draped in a flowery bed-sheet. I urge him to play for me. His fingers scurry along the black and white keys – playing classics, contemporary melodies, and western soft-rock. I can’t recall when I fall asleep.


Written for #TheBlindList and #SayYesToTheWorld, Lufthansa’s exciting new campaign. Do check the video below:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Panditji : A Real Life Story

When I was a child, there used to be an extremely old Panditji from a nearby temple who frequently visited our home. He had been our family Pandit, much like family doctors. His was a tall and lanky figure who was fond of preaching young kids like me. His long lectures used to irritate me so much that I preferred to hide in the inner room to not confront him when he had come over for puja. Hailing from a very religious Brahman family, hardly a month went without there being a puja at home, which was presided none other by the Panditji. 

The never-ending religious chores and my evergrowing interest in science, logic and rationality had turned me averse to the every little process that was related to God. I became a skeptic first, followed by brief stints at being an atheist, an agnostic to my ultimate state (that I still carry) - indifference to God. My father encouraged me to question traditions, beliefs and he never took my curious questions and extreme opinions as blasphemy. Despite being moderately religious, he entertained my skepticism patiently with logic and had just one advice for me: I am allowed to keep my views as long as I was not hurting anyone's sentiments. I was too young to understand what exactly he meant with the word 'hurting sentiments', so I presumed it to refer to verbal/literal disregard of any religion or religious activity and I carefully avoided them in my conversation. By accepting my non-religious views, my father very had intelligently induced tolerance in me and made sure that I accepted his advice without any further questions. 

We lived in a big three-storeyed house of our great-grandfather in Patna, along with some other relatives. There was a big field around a kilometer away from my place, where I played football everyday. On my way to the field, I used to cross the temple where Panditji lived. I was just 9 at that time. It was summertime, when I was returning in the evening after two hours of my favorite sport, when Panditji called me from inside the temple. Being tired and disinterested, I pretended not to listen to him at first. But he summoned once again, louder. I turned and greeted him. 

'Harsh, everyday I see you crossing the temple, but you never bow in front of Lord of lords, Shiva. You are a Brahman! At least uphold some samskaras that your parents have failed to teach you.'

I was terribly annoyed. Who wants a lecture after an intense football match? I didn't reply.

'Now, bow in front of ...' his monologue was interrupted with his acute coughing, until he caught hold of his breath. I remained mute, exasperated with the ongoing preaching and looked at my maxima watch. 

'Bow to the great Shivling and say sorry to the Lord of the Lords,' he ordered and followed it up with his tender words, 'and take this prasad.'

I bowed with folded hands and a sly smile at the idol, went back to him. He handed me some anardanas with dried-rice(chooda), that I grabbed in my fist and ran away, saying irritably, 'Pranam Panditji.'

Next day, my ankles got sprained in the school and I was bedridden for one long week that implied no football. On the coming Sunday, much like our regular affairs, my mother hosted a puja at home. I went with my father on the car to seek the Panditji from the temple, the thought of his arrival had already vexed me. We were stunned to find that the temple was locked. When my father inquired from the neighbours, they informed us that Panditji was suffering from tuberculosis and had passed away one day ago, in the hospital. I still remember the tears that I saw in my father's eye upon hearing the bad news. He related to me about how Panditji had selflessly served our family for over two generations.

I didn't feel sad. Rather, I felt a little relieved that I was saved from boring lectures. I was too small to feel any remorse. The regular Sunday puja was postponed as my parents went to a bigger Shiva temple along with me to pray for Panditji's soul to rest in peace. I was thoughtless. I remained just a mute skeptical spectator to the proceedings. 

I observed no change in me and soon the much-awaited day arrived when my ankle got completely healed. While returning from the football field all alone in the dusk, that night, I was unconsciously drawn towards the temple and I did something that I could have never imagined myself doing. I entered the temple premises and sincerely bowed. But not to the lifeless Lord of the Lords that resided inside, but to the full-of-life God that resided inside the devoted new Panditji who had took over. When I came out of the temple premises and said, 'Pranam Panditji', my tone carried immense sincerity and for the first time in my life, heartfelt remorse. The dusk had given way to the night and I was glad that no one could have observed my wet cheeks as I strolled back to home.

15 years have passed since then. Even now, I never miss visiting small temples that come in my way. I like to pay my adieu to those who have given their entire lives serving the idols without life with just one firm belief that that little lifeless piece of stone had given them lives.

Written for, watch the embedded video and #StartANewLife like Panditji got me started with.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Go-Getter

The year was 1986. She was 25, a university topper with high ambitions, when she had got married. If she were given a chance, she would have studied more, enrolled herself in a Ph.D. and become a tenured professor. But as her parents and the society desired, she got married.

She moved to her in-laws’ house, two hundred kilometers away, in a big city. A patriarchal house at that, with a joint family of over ten members (including a couple of cousins, IAS aspirants, of her husband). The first day, she was handed over the kitchen; the mother-in-law heaving in respite that now, after all these years, she could relax. Three times a day, she would spend hours in the kitchen, making dal, subzi and over fifty chapatis each time, feeding everyone before she could. It wasn’t the kind of married life she had anticipated for herself. She thought of a more academically stimulating household that encouraged women to go out and chase their dreams. But the society wasn’t so back then.

She kept quiet; her tedious routine silently took her dreams away. Two years later, a son was born. Life became busier. Now, with the kitchen, she had to take care of the baby, too. The joint family helped, but soon, her husband was transferred to a rural village in North Bihar, without electricity, without proper water. She accompanied him taking their little son along. The kitchen became smaller now, but the upbringing became difficult. She took it upon herself to teach the kid – read out books and stories to him, taught him alphabets and numbers and readied him for school. By this time, a daughter arrived. The process continued. The husband was transferred back to his sprawling city, just before taking care of the two kids could go out of hand. Two kids and kitchen followed her everywhere she went, until the son turned 17. She worked day and night to assure that her son, who was preparing for the JEE, had proper nourishment and rest. She would make coffee for him at two at night, 6 am breakfast before the school and the 2 pm sumptuous lunch when school got over. Her years of hardwork reaped a result. The son cleared the JEE. All of a sudden, she found something that she never thought she had. Time.

The year was 2007. She was 47, an age where most people comfortably cocoon themselves in the familial comfort zone. However, she had other plans. She resumed her studies, something that she had dreamed of pursuing twenty-two years ago. It took her time and efforts to regain her confidence, to brush off the layers of dust enveloping her prior knowledge and once she did, there was no looking back.

The year is 2014, the son is a graduate from IIT, the daughter is a graduate from DU; however, both of them are pursuing unconventional careers, careers that require one to shun away the comfort zone – one, being a full-time writer; the other, a freelance photographer. On a stuffy summer afternoon of 2014, the son receives a call from their mother, a lecturer now, who has some news to convey. After much jubilation and celebrations, the son changes the mobile contact name of his mother from Ma to Dr. Ma.


This is the story of my mother. For twenty-two years, she gave up on her dreams to fuel mine. She resumed her studies when I entered college. Seven years later, she completes her Ph.D.

Ma, I'm proud of you! Your passion, resilience and determination continue to be my biggest source of hope.

Written for's new lookup. Check it here:


This story is of my friend Gaurav, who used to race.

‘Give me a reason to live,’ he said.
‘I can’t give you’s something you must find out on your own,’ she said knowing it would never have work for him if she tried to help.
‘This is not fair. Nobody knows me better than you do and at this critical juncture, you can’t leave me alone. Please.’
‘I’m doing it for you, baby. This time, you have to fight it alone,’ she said. He heard receding footsteps disappear into nothingness, followed by the sound of the door shutting.

One month ago, he had lost his vision in a car crash. He had suffered from injuries to his head that sent him to a coma for two weeks. With the crash, his promising career as an F1 racer ended and all his ambitions tied to the sport were crushed head-on. He was one of the youngest racers to have made it to the F1 circuit and his skills were unmatched by any other racer in his country, they said. Five days ago, when he came out of the coma and realized what had happened, he couldn’t accept his fate. When the doctor informed him that his retina was ruptured and he wouldn’t be able to see again, he refused to believe it and strained to disprove it. He whimpered for several hours. The darkness taunted him. The thought of never being able to escape this darkness pressed down on him until he dropped into the chasm of depression.

All throughout the past seventeen days, she remained by his side. She loved him like no-one did and he loved her like no-one could. When he cried in fear, she hugged him tight and cried along with him; when he cursed his fate, she tried to reinforce his faith; when the darkness irked him, she told him stories he could visualize, that could help him see the world as it was before, through his mind’s eye. Or was it her eyes? But despite her love, she couldn’t stop him from falling into that abyss. At first, she tried to conquer his negative thoughts by countering them positively but that didn’t help. She followed it up with motivational stories of people who made it big even after being afflicted with disability, but even that didn’t induce any change. 

He had lost hope. He had lost his determination. And in his last conversation with her, she was dismayed to find that he had even lost interest to live. Upon hearing his words, she realised that it was her persistent care and presence that had made him so negative. It was only when he knew she was around that he would curse his fate – to seek her sympathy. He swore at God to make her stop him from doing that. He ridiculed the stories she read out to him so that she would come up with a new one. Though most of his injuries had healed by then, he didn’t try to walk on his own even once, he didn’t figure out things on his own – he was too used to her help. Although it demanded immense self-control on her part, she saw that the time had come to withdraw herself from him. Come night-time, she would leave him all alone to fight his fears by himself for the first time.

Without her by his side, he lay on his bed still, thinking. He couldn’t believe that she had left him all alone in such a situation. The silence frightened him. He started talking to himself. All alone, cursing his fate didn’t seem like a very entertaining option. He started reciting his favorite poem – Darkness by Lord Byron, which left him awed, for his favourite poem was actually an omen. After reciting it , he exclaimed loudly to himself, ‘I love Darkness like nothing else, thank you Byron,’ and laughed hysterically. It was the first time after the accident that laughter paid a visit by his bed-side. It tickled his bladder and he got up from his bed on his own, and placed his feet on the cold marble floor. He imagined the white of the marble. Carefully, he took guarded steps and grabbed the wall next to him. After knocking against the almirah, hitting his feet against the table’s leg on the way, he finally located the loo and let himself loose. When he came out, his sense of direction got skewed and he failed to locate the bed. Fear captured him once again and he panicked. He started running frantically, hit against furniture and toppled on the ground.

Before he could cry for help, someone pulled him up, with utmost care and took him to bed. He recognized the smell. It was her. She didn’t speak a word. He moved his palms near her face. It was wet.

‘You didn’t leave, did you? You were right here, weren’t you?’ he asked.

‘How could I leave you? I’m so glad to find that in just one hour, my son has started to love darkness,’ she whispered, followed by two tearful smiles.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

God of Big Things

Have you ever wondered why cricket enjoys the status of the most sought after game in the country despite the fact that our national game is hockey? What is the first thing that strikes your mind when you hear the word cricket? What is the one popular name that had been unblemished and glorious right from the first time you'd heard it? Who is the one person whose achievements seem as important and make you as proud as your own would? No points for guessing, the answer to all the above questions is the little master, Sachin Tendulkar. The name that fills the heart of each and every Indian with pride that is unprecedented.

Well, I won't be boring you with stats and figures that adorn the scintillating track record of the greatest cricketing legend ever in the cricketing history. But instead, I would like to bring out what he means to us - Indians - by relating to you reminiscence from my childhood.

As far as my childhood goes, I remember that before every cricket match where India played, I, with the help of my friends, would go to the market and bring three to four big bottles of Pepsi (the brand he used to endorse) and my mother used to make pop-corn for each one of us, who would be glued to the TV until our hero, our idol, stylishly played his master-strokes. At each and every shot that our hero played, all of us would raise our glasses of pepsi in air and shout 'cheers', with our glass tumblers hugging each other, making sharp sounds which always used to worry my mom that we would break them, because there occurred a glass-banging once almost every over and sometimes even twice or thrice during the same over. A boy amongst us would take note of the scores at every ten overs so that we could compare the scores when the other team batted and revel at the chances of our winning. In fact, I maintained a cricket copy scoring every match Sachin played in and batted in. At every lbw appeal or run out appeal to the third umpire that the opponent side made against Sachin, we would inwardly pray to God to save our god on the pitch. Such was the fever not to miss even one shot by the little master and we made sure to pump up our inverter batteries, even had a radio on just in case the battery failed, and if nothing worked, run all the way up to the main market and find a shop that streamed the match live thanks to the generator they had. People, like bees, would buzz across their TV screen blocking their customers, but no one cared, since the shopkeeper himself would be busy watching the TV.

And if by any chance, the pride of the nation lost his wicket, the sheer delight of the match would go in vain, and without wasting a single moment we would turn the TV off and go out and practice Tendulkarship with our tiny bats carrying the little hand-made MRF signs and a tattoo of the signature of the little master stuck at the back. Interestingly, courtesy to the man with the MRF bat, in those days none of us wanted to be a bowler because when it came to being a cricketer, which was our evident dream, it meant being like Sachin Tendulkar. Almost all of us, no matter how lousy a cricketer we were in the childhood, tried to imitate the star batsman when we were with the bat - right from affixing a stressed Sachin-like smile on our face to bending our knees intermittently while the bowler was taking a long run-up, from proudly lifting our bats parallel to our right hand when we hit a century and then thanking the Almighty by looking at the sky to hammering the pitch near our crease of no reason just because our idol did the same. Sachin lived in our very blood.

My father being a great fan of Sachin himself used to take us to restaurants for dinner every time he hit a century, most of which were already jam-packed by people celebrating the little master's success. Such was his fever, which remains unexampled even today. 

As I grew up, many more stars came into the picture, but none of them could leave an equal impression on my mind as our master blaster did. Some lacked consistency, others lacked elegance and style of batting and the remaining ones lacked modesty. No-one could replace Sachin as my hero, and I doubt anybody ever will be able to. Though I stopped following the game of cricket so keenly as time passed, but the assurance that Sachin was still going on with great splendour kept my heart satisfied.

But the most spectacular moment in the cricketing history was when Sachin achieved the most stupendous feat for any batsman. 200 runs in an ODI. Perhaps, it was the only record that was not in his name. I saw some amazing things that day. Thanks to Sachin, people who never knew that there was a space for status message in facebook or people who haven't changed their gtalk status messages since ages, had got a status message to praise his genius! From children to uncles, from our hostel's guard saheb to celebrities on TV, Sachin was on everybody's mind. Even the rift between political parties could not stop the unanimous praise coming for the maestro. It was the only day when Cricinfo's traffic trounced IRCTC. It reminds me that I've to ask my Dad to take me to a restaurant 'two times' for his 200.

If only we had the essential TV features that now offer which would save me up on all those minutes invested into gathering information into my cricket copies.'s INFOGRAFIX provides snippets of information with visual twist, making caricatures and funny cartoons of the players, animating the field but at the same time offering information digging up the history of the player, his country and world records across. I wish Sachin played to this day, so that I could use's infografix to explore his uncountable records that could turn even the best of the world's talent green with envy.

P.S. This post is a part of Cricket just got better! Activity by in association with

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fired before Hired!

This story is about December 1 - the first day of placements of IIT Delhi.

For the first time in the year, I had woken up before 7 am. For the first time in my four years of engineering, I had taken a bath so early. Other than occasional shivers, slight panting and feeble 'I-am-so-cool' feeling, I experienced numbness all over. It was the day of interview. Job interview. My interview with a major consulting company was scheduled at 8 o' clock in the morning. In such a cold weather, it sounded pretty insane, but my arse was willing to go through any torture as long as it promised me enough money to buy bread, butter and a BMW at the end of the day. The company was reputed having many credentials and worldwide standings by which I was completely wooed. Besides, it offered the highest package in the campus - a whopping 19 lacs. So, at 7.00 am sharp, I baffled myself by being completely suited-up, much like Barney, except for the awesomeness. I rushed to the interview room, after having completed three circles of agarbatti in front the miniature Saibaba sculpture in my room praying for success.

Other interviewees, some of them my batch-mates, were waiting already. All of them smelt quite good, most of them, who otherwise wouldn't bathe for weeks, didn't seem to belong to an IIT, but rather a model hunt. Envy greeted me before the interviewer. After ten minutes, I was allotted an interviewer, a Sardarji whose name I don't exactly remember. His seemed quite scary. No, not by the face or voice, but by his serious walk. He advanced towards me as if he was gonna give me a pugaree-butt, making me retrace my steps at first. But soon sense hit me back. If I run away, I'd lose the job. In absolute cold and lull, I tried to make some noise with my newly bought Hush-Puppies and advanced towards him. Soon, a firm hand-shake took place under the shadow of the cloudy sky. Firmer from my side, just to let him know that I was not scared. Or rather let me know that I wasn't.

'Hello, I'm Harsh,' I said, in a crisp and soft voice.

'Hi.' I waited for him to continue, while we advanced towards the slaughter house. He didn't.

'Your good name please,' I asked. Being curious is considered good, isn't it?

'Hmmm.' That was all that he said.

At this point of time, three separate thoughts swayed in my head simultaneously.
1. Either he had not heard my question. Quite possible.
2. He could have forgotten his name. He might be trying to recollect.
3. He didn't like me asking his good name. Stern interviewer, you see?

Okay, so I was lost in my mind and in his 'hmmm', when he opened the door to the torture room. What I saw left me parched. Those three thoughts merged with each other and brought me at my most confused state.

'Harsh, have a seat,' Hmmm said. Let's call him Hmmm, for ease. I was glad to know that he could actually frame sentences.

'Thanks a lot.' I grabbed the opposite chair, which was as cold as ice. With my butts frozen, I felt like a scapegoat in the making. I was wearing cotton trousers for the first time in my college life. I tried to make myself comfortable, but soon his serious face espoused its sadistic course.

'So, you're?' Hmmm shot the trigger straightaway. I was startled.

'I am... I am Harsh Snehanshu, student of Engineering Physics, 4th year...'

'No, no, don't go ahead. I just forgot your name. So Harsh, what do you like?' Hmmm asked.

'Definitely not a creepy Sardar in the chilly morning!' I thought.

'Hmmm...' I said and began thinking in a similar manner to Hmmm. Despite my liking for Hmmm, he didn't seem pleased. I continued, 'I like writing. I like business. And, I like people.'

'What's the order of liking?' He asked.

'The reverse. People, business and writing.' I said. The first big mistake.

'When it's your first choice, then why did it come at last?'

'I saved the best for the last,' I tried to please him with my wit. He didn't know appreciation.

'Hmmm.' He said. I think he liked his name too much. His eyes were deadly.

'Okay, so tell me about this the-witty's-hit dot com that you've mentioned in your resume?' Hmmm asked. He wanted more wit. No problem, I had plenty.

'So, is my start-up, which I co-founded around 6 months ago. It caters to people who are good with one-liners. As a writer, I realized that there was no platform which promotes common-man's basic creativity of crafting quotable one-liners and no way to popularize or gain incentives for the grassroot level of creativity that every common man possesses...In this...'

'Interesting? You're a writer too...what have you written?' Hmmm developed some interest. His scary eyes turned a bit green.

'I've written a novel, titled "Oops! 'I' fell in love!" which I got published in Aug, 2009. Besides that, my stories have been published in various books of the Chicken Soup for the soul series,' I said, rather proudly.

'Is your novel autobiographical?'

'No, it's fictitious. Autobiographies tend to be boring, you know.' My confidence was sky-rocketing. A day 1 job was on the cards.

'Why are you interested in consulting?' Hmmm asked. He was good at changing topics.

The rocket encountered a sudden drag. 'Hmmm, consulting is a field which would offer me great insight into the field of business and people, which I'm really passionate about. It would give me a chance to....blah blah blah ... tell me to stop licking your boot, you sucker...blah blah blah. Or at least smile. Your serious face is killing me...blah blah.'

He looked convinced. Boot-licking, who doesn't like that - that too at the start of the day?

'You're a writer as well as an entrepreneur. And you're making money as well from both the places. If I'd been at your place, I would have pursued the venture full-time. Why don't you go full-time?'

'I am going to go full-time. I am sitting here just to please my Mom.' I uttered, irritably. The second mistake. That turned out to be quite heavy.

'Thanks for the interview. Great to meet you.'

'Hmmm,' I said, in a contemplative tone. I stood up and said, 'It's the-witty-shit dot com, by the way.' For the first time, his serious face broke into a smile. It reeked of sarcasm. The serious face was much better. I banged the door in frustration before leaving and didn't sit for the subsequent job interviews.

My Mom couldn't have been more pleased. She did not talk to me for a month after December 1. #ConditionSeriousHai

P.S. If this story seems boring, it's autobiographical. If not, then it's fictitious. You know what it is.

Written for Indiblogger's contest #ConditionSeriousHai by Cadbury 5 Star