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It was one of our favorite snacks to be offered to the guests. We always had a packet or two of McCain snacks in the fridge. It was a saver in many ways. If there was absolutely nothing to eat, we would just open the packet and fry them. Easy peasy! Among the McCain snacks, the smile-shaped potato fries, especially, were a permanent resident of our freezer. It held a lot of meaning for us. For one, the arrival of guests would be a matter of great excitement. Because we knew that guests meant we would get to partake of the evening repast, somehow or the other. Among the things offered to the guests, McCain’s foodstuffs were my mom’s favorites. We would have a separate plate of it in the kitchen, which we would pounce on, once the guests left. It was not just us, you see. 
My niece, who used to be a dear little thing then, had her eyes fixed on those smile-shaped McCain snacks. We called them ‘smileys’. When we ate them, she would immediately and frantically start gesturing to us, indicating that she loved the food item. We would show her the smileys and she would cackle and clap in glee, shouting ‘smieee’. That was her way of uttering ‘smiley’. Her cute lisp would make us go gaga over her. When we extended the snack towards her, she would happily nibble at it. It was one of the few things that she loved to eat. It was more titillating and better tasting than the bland foods that she had to eat. She would trace the smiley with her little fingers, wiggling them inside the eye-shaped holes and then moving them back and forth between the smile-shaped cavity, her eyes aglow with wonder, and her curious self exploring the various novelties of things. The smiley always managed to bring a smile to her face. Kids have all sorts of preferences, some are excessively fond of chocolates, some like chips while some have a penchant for soft drinks. But my niece had her heart set on the smileys.

Whenever she seemed to be in a sour mood, we would say, ‘Want a smieee?’ And her attention would instantly be riveted to us. She would be diverted enough for us to employ other methods to get her back to normal. This was one of our pet ways of making her feel better. 
There were times when she wouldn’t eat a thing. She would throw tantrums of proportions unheard of. During those difficult times, only one thing came to the rescue. Our dear smileys. She would gulp them down easily, making life easier for my aunt. Even when she grew up, we used to ask her so- ‘Do you want a smieee?’ For many years she would be calling them ‘smieees’ instead of smileys. It was our own secret way of making her smile. It became an integral part of her childhood. Her own ‘smieee’, it taught her to smile.

To discover more delicacies of the sort and sample more such magical tastes, go to 

~This post was written as a part of the ‘Let’s put a smile on that face!‘ activity by McCain in association with IndiBlogger~

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“Yayy!!!” they tugged hard. 
People shouted and cheered while both the teams expended their best efforts trying to bring the rope towards their end of the white mark. The grass got trampled, people sweated profusely and a light breeze brought much-needed relief to the players of the famed tug-of-war. Even before a minute had passed, I heard overwhelming cheers erupting from our side of the mark. I craned my neck and saw that our group had easily drawn the others to themselves.
“It was a walkover!” they exclaimed ecstatically. My colleagues and I clapped and cheered. Our group had won. It was an easy win, it seemed.
“You had G! You could have easily won, you know!” someone from my group said to the other. “I mean, the heavyweight champ G on your side and you couldn’t win! That was a first!”
Discussions ensued and there were friendly squabbles and good-natured punches. Tug-of-war has always been a much-awaited event, be it in school, college or at the workplace. This was my first experience at the workplace and I was loving it.
As the players rested their aching muscles and downed gallons of water to replenish their energy reserves before the next round, I was transported back to my college days. Hadn’t it been just a year? And yet it seemed so far away. 
It suddenly struck me that I too had once played tug-of-war during the college fest. I remembered how we had pitted ourselves against a group of hardy tough senior-year girls and despite all of us being prickly thin, we had stretched our muscle, nerve and sinew to end up bringing our seniors to our end of the line. How sweet was the victory and how precious the moments! The way we pitched in our efforts together, all sweaty, huffing and puffing, and yet relishing it all- the excitement, the cheering, the surroundings and everything that came with it. We had actually made it to the subsequent round! In the second round, we were faced with a group of girls one year junior to us. With a swag and a confidence resulting from our latest win, we plunged into this one, all ready to claim yet another victory.
Predictably, that day was to see a sliding of ranks. Sure enough, before long, they managed to pull us to their side. We fell in a heap on them, clutching our sides and laughing like we had never laughed before. Reminiscing those moments made me glow with nostalgia. I had a sudden urge to replay the moments and experience them once more. Looking now at my colleagues bantering with each other reminded me of the beautiful times my pals and I had spent together in the park- playing, cheering and laughing our heads off.
I drank some water. Emboldened by the pull of the fresh breeze and spurred on by memories, I said to one of my teammates, “Any space for me?”
“Most welcome, madame!” a happy-go-lucky guy said. “We need the likes of you to win!”
And we all burst into hearty peals of laughter. Everyone knew how useful I could be to them in a battle of strength! :wink wink: 
Nevertheless, we placed ourselves on our end of the line and prepared to pull hard. The breeze swept our faces and someone patted me on the back. A friendly exchange of words brought a smile to my face. If this isn’t real togetherness, I don’t know what is.

This post has been written as a part of the ‘Real Togetherness’ initiative by Kissan India

Entertainment lessons from the guy-next-seat (my adaptation of the guy-next-door)

Distance had never seemed longer and time had never seemed so constrictive as it seemed now. Suddenly the commute to and from work had started resembling a local train journey, with the slight exception of an air-conditioned metro compartment. Be it in the metro or in the office shuttle, jams appeared to be ubiquitous and so seemed lethargy, inactivity and a vacuum punctured sometimes by small talk and sometimes by Whatsapp. But not even the best jokes could sustain for very long. Soon, ennui would set in. Broken snatches of sleep too did nothing to offset the exhaustion at the end of a working day.

As for social networking sites, how much can one browse and how many stupid updates/statuses can one put up? Soon, that too is wearying. Come now to music, but after a time even the songs turn stale. The lyrics no longer seem as meaningful as they did in the beginning. If one tries new music, it seems too new for the ears and takes time getting accustomed to. And hence, every day, I was reduced to staring into space and replaying the day in my head all through the 1.5-2 hour journey. 

This had become the norm until one fine evening, I found a fellow colleague sitting next to me in the shuttle. He looked avidly engaged. I first presumed it was some game. Perhaps Candy crush or some other horrible game-styled drug. But then I saw him stretched back and enjoying a movie. ‘Duh! On such a tiny screen!’ I thought to myself and said as much to him. He looked at me once and went back to his movie. Even though I tried to behave as if I didn’t care, I actually did peer into his screen once or twice to determine the movie he was watching. It turned out to be MI5. I turned my head the other way and decided to ask no more. However, hardly a minute had passed before I had disengaged him from his earphones and asked him how he managed to watch a movie on that teeny-tiny screen. He replied coolly, “At least it’s better than staring into space!” Although I was a bit affronted, I found that the man had a point. When I enquired further, not letting him watch the movie, he paused the flick and turned to me. Then began the imparting of those crucial lessons I was talking about at the start.
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5 reasons why watching TT-TV*(for the definition of TT-TV, scroll down) on the phone is better than anything else:
1. People don’t like to be disturbed after a full day at work, so even if starting conversations might be fun and stress-busting, droning on doesn’t help much.

2. Trying to do productive stuff like getting leftover work done at the end of the day, when your mind is already full to bursting and sudden breaks and interruptions anyway disrupt productivity, is not a great idea, you must admit.

3. Reading the news might seem very important but there is something called information overload that one must guard oneself against.

4. Instead of caviling about the potholed roads, dysfunctional transport system, rapidly burgeoning population and whatever else, you can choose to be at peace in your own world without shouting, abusing or griping about everything that is wrong with the country. Ignorance is sometimes bliss.   

5. Staring into space is the last option that every ‘forever alone’ person has recourse to, but when you have a TV at hand, why stay alone?
I was quite moved by his surprisingly clear and sound reasoning. Although I merely nodded at the time, I decided to give it a shot. I imagined putting the TATASky Transferkars in action and getting myself hooked on to the idea of ‘entertainment on the move’. Merely imagining it feels so good! Having the series like Friends, HIMYM** and TBBT** at the click of a button! Aahh bliss! 
So, from now on, while the bus lurches and brakes; while the metro screeches and rumbles, I will remain unfazed; content to be in my dreamworld with my favourite TV characters and their beautiful other-worldly tales.
* TT-TV : TataSky Transferkar TV
**Those few uninitiated who don’t know what these are, don’t fret! TATASky will get you your favorite shows!
HIMYM: How I Met Your Mother

TBBT: The Big Bang Theory

I am participating in the #TATASkyTransfer activity in association with IndiBlogger.

I was staring at my black and green computer screen unseeingly, my mind elsewhere, thinking about what I would have for dinner and which movie I would watch tonight… After all, it was Friday. And in the process of such ruminations, I reached the Blogadda website. A sudden splash of colors roused me from inactivity, and my interest was piqued. Paint Me Wild. That was what was splashed across the screen in pink. I couldn’t stop myself from scrolling over to

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An array of color swatches greeted me. I remember when I first learned to use Paint, all my attention was bestowed on the paintbox. I used to spend so much time choosing the colors and did them so very carefully and painstakingly that by the time I had drawn one shape, my classmates had already finished with the entire set.

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The PaintFinder tool got me into that mode again. I started browsing through the various themes. There was Dusky Lavender, Retro, Grecian Blue, Aged Beigeand so on. I so wanted to play with those colors right away. And then my eyes fell on Colonial Red.

Unlike the images in Grecian Blue or Aged Beige, which felt Greek and English respectively, these looked intrinsically Indian. The enduring red brick monuments, the dusty deserts, the camels and the color of their multicolored saddles. I was irresistibly reminded of the huge turbans of the mahouts which seem to have in them all sorts of possible colors. And the majestic monuments. Have you ever looked at the Red Fort in all its splendor? In fact, look at any monument of yore. Except for the famed Taj Mahal, almost all of them are in red brick. Walking along the old Mughal tombs and forts, admiring the reddish hue, a red which never seems to fade, an enduring persistent red, gives one a feel of the bygone times. The color is beauty in itself. It has both the pinkish tinge and the brownish burn in it. There is a certain richness in red, which I do not feel in any other shade. No wonder, blood is red.
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Red has the pink of romance and red has the earthiness of brown. The shade is just brilliant. Right there, within the confines of my office cubicle, I had transported myself to a world rich with culture, history, stories and memories. Red has an Indian feel to it, an earthiness which is plainly beautiful. During art classes, when you had to fill color in people’s clothes, what color did you use? I must confess I had a certain predilection for red. It looked to me the most imperial color of the lot. The lion of the colors. The king. I guess if I have any makeover, Colonial Red would be the most regal. The most striking.  

I am participating in the #PaintFinder activity in Association withBlogAdda & Bed Bath & More

( This post has been tagged as a WOW post as a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. )

Remember those one-minute irritating commercial breaks after every over during a cricket match? Or a particularly thrilling episode disrupted by a vexing commercial of a cackling kid or a nasal soprano? All the pent-up tension and contained excitement totally diffused and reduced to nothing. One would then have to wait for the stipulated five-ten minutes to get over before one could concentrate again on the ongoing show.

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However, I’m not categorically denouncing commercials. On the contrary, I have my favorites too. The Hari Sadu one was a rage among the working professionals with the limelight on the boss-employee quotient. Then there were those about fairness creams-a sudden transformation from the obscurest complexion to one that would be gleaming white in the sunlight or the complexion scale to measure your skin tone. I guess today such an ad would probably be seen as racist. With time, the content and the symbolism of commercials has undergone a change and a positive one at that. Now there are commercials challenging gender roles like the one in which a man is seen working in a company where his wife happens to be his boss, and some where lesbian girls share a moment with each other. Times have undergone a sea change. My personal favorite used to be the one with cartoons where they played cricket and everything was made of chocolate, including the bat, the ball and the sun. I wasn’t awfully young then, nevertheless I loved that ad. Then there was the famous ‘mera number kab aega’ of Pepsi whose pet dialogue really caught on well. There were boring stuff too, like the bank loan commercials and in fact, anything relating remotely to money or insurance (come to think of it, my current project at work is in the insurance sector- no wonder I have a hard time at it) and the like. Whatever be the ads, they used to be so well ingrained in my mind that if you woke me up at 3 in the morning and asked me to recite a certain jingle of a commercial, I would rattle it off effortlessly, as opposed to any of the lessons I might have been required to learn.

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Something also happened that might serve to explain my connection with commercials. We were at that game once- the famed singing parlor game-antakshari. The syllable K had landed on me and I was to make it the starting letter of my song. Unfortunately all the usual songs had been sung and I couldn’t find any other worth singing. Just then, a tune suggested itself to me of its own accord. I don’t know if you remember it but I still love that song. I started humming it-

Kiss me….close your eyes…miss me…
I can read your lips, on your fingertips,
I can feel your smile, come on my lips,
and happiness in your eyes…
Kiss me…
Everyone looked at me strangely, not even bothering to call foul.
“That’s not a song, babe,” one of them said.
“Well obviously it is or else why would I be singing it?” I retorted.
“That’s an ad song, duh!”
I had actually forgotten where I heard it and mistaken it for a song. That song eventually found its way to my phone as well.
Sometimes, these short and sweet commercials leave a deeper impression than long-winded soap operas.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.
Remember Emma and Mr. Knightley and how the latter was the man whose opinion and advice Emma regarded most highly? No wonder kings always had adviser ministers. In the present day, we have all brand of advisers in our professional spheres- legal advisers, mentors and what-not. The value of true advice can only be gauged by those who face debilitating dilemmas, need a sound counsel desperately or are at such a crossroads, from where their life forks into widely different pathways. 

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I would be lying if I said that my parents had been my only advisers. One’s parents and grandparents are one’s natural advisers and well-wishers that one is gifted with at birth. Therefore, life’s crucial decisions are always talked and debated over with them- that is almost a given. However, I have observed that decisions vary in the degrees of severity.

Some are level 1 difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10; things which we are supposed to be old enough to handle on our own. And we usually manage to do so (at least some of us, if not all! ). For instance, what to wear to a formal gathering, which car to buy, which diet regime to adapt and so on. However, some dilemmas are at a deadly level 10 – the wring-your-neck and drive-you-crazy ones, which easily get delivered to family, for example- career options, jobs, relocation and the like.

But what about those other class of problems that are neither 1 nor 10 for others, but to you they might seem a tight 8 or probably even an 11? When I talk of such cases, I’m actually taking a subjective perspective of problems. There are certain issues that wreck your conscience even though they may not matter a few years later or even after a few months. For instance, disagreements between people, altercations with your loved ones, vexation and incompatibility with certain fellows and so on and so forth.

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Consider the situations when you are in a dilemma about whether to take up a venture or not. Or perhaps when you are at the zenith of your ego and in no mood to back down; you might be in a form that might impact your relationships adversely. Sometimes, these decisions are harder, probably the hardest, for the right and the wrong are not so well defined. Google might act as an advisor when you want to choose a course or select an appropriate location for your house. But when the matters are subjective and subject to not just yours but many others’ idiosyncrasies, only a ‘sachchi’ advice can extricate you from such a quagmire.

And I am blessed to say that I have such a Mr. Knightley as Emma had or such a Chanakya  as Vikramaditya had. They-who-need-not-be-named have played the role of the classic friends to me. Always there for me with the earnest and the soundest advice. It must be borne in mind that people, in general, are very free with dispensing advice but very few give ‘sachchi’ advice. Via Max Life Insurance‘s #SachchiAdvice activity, I want to acknowledge the role of those wonderful people in my life. I want them to know that they are valued.

It is easy to extol virtues
And easier to condemn vice,
But not easy enough to give someone #SachchiAdvice!
I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda
This piece is not exactly in keeping with the spirit of the La Tomatina festival, seeing as it is its 70thanniversary today. But let’s anyway find out what tangy tomatoes can accomplish!

Too many cooks spoil the broth. I’m sure you have been hearing this since you started prep school. But what they don’t tell you is that even one is enough. Or for that matter, two.
I don’t know how your childhood has been if you haven’t at least once tried your taste buds on jam-chapati, parantha-burger, rice-ketchup, roti-sambhar or even biscuits dipped in water. But I guess every food invention is not as successful. What seemed easy to me in girlhood now appears daunting, if not downright scary.
I think, moms and grandmoms or even dads and grandads, who have admirable culinary skills are basically genius at math. More specifically proportion. While I always ask exactly what amount of sugar has to be added to tea, or the precise number of tomatoes to be put in the Manchurian gravy, the veterans use a single code word for all amounts- ‘andaza‘ meaning an approximate amount. Andazaactually means a good guess. According to the cooks, good guesswork is all that there is to good cooking. But I can tell you it’s a ruse. They are just so bloody good at math that they don’t even realize it at times.
Rewind to my mom’s birthday last year. A feast was being prepared. Not for her. For her, there was the cake and the gifts. The feast was for those who would be bringing in wishes. It was to be a small gathering, mostly family including a few friends. Mom was stirring her dishes, desperate for them to get cooked soon so she could change into something that looked like a birthday ensemble. And then the bell rang. Mom abandoned the kitchen and went to change; my brother seated the guests and served them drinks, as sparkling as their own moods were, while I wondered what was to become of the food. Mom was totally off her top, thanking people, replying to SMSs, taking calls and running to and fro from the kitchen, making sure everything was cooking smoothly. I was given a single task – to stir. I had to stir the concoction and inform her when it started to boil – “when bubbles appear on the surface” she explained.
“I do know what it means to boil,” I said, stung by her lack of faith in me.
“Oh I don’t think you do,” she said and went back to the living room. Although I bristled at the remark, her prediction was about to be proven true in the near future.
The cake was cut, snacks were played around with and a positively charged atmosphere reigned in the house. While all this was happening, my brother and I decided to do our own snacking in the kitchen.

“How is the Manchurian coming on?” he asked. I knew he was showing such interest because of his rumbling stomach, which had started to rumble all the more loudly at the scent of food.
“The pakoras are not in yet. So, hold your horses,” I told him.
“When will they be prepared then? We will have dinner in an hour or so. Family A has to leave early.”
“See the batter beside the microwave? Mom will be coming in a while and making the balls. You scoot off.”
“Hmmm. You should help her, you know. After all, it’s her birthday. Having to work on one’s own birthday despite having a grown-up kid, that’s such a pity!”
My brother has a tendency to act Narad muni (of Indian mythology fame) at times.
“Despite having two grown up kids,” I corrected him. “And if you care so much, why don’t you help her? I am already helping,” I said, pointing to my stirrer.
“And that is what I am planning to do,” he said, a manic gleam in his eyes.
In retrospect, I can say that I had an inkling when I saw his eyes that something was about to happen but I didn’t quite make it out then. We decided to prepare the Manchurian gravy balls. The batter was almost prepared. But a few ingredients had to be added. I was about to shout out and ask mom what more should be added when he stopped me.
“Really! When are you going to learn? If she has to spoon-feed you the entire ingredient list, what is the point of helping at all?”
His words obviously struck home and I decided to summon my experiences and observations in order to get the task done.
“Let’s keep it simple. Pepper and salt are usually put in, I guess, apart from this usual stuff that she has prepared.”
And so went pepper and salt.
“Oregano always has a typical tang. It’s a must,” my brother said.
“Let’s look up some special prep on the net,” I suggested, suddenly inspired.
He showed me his watch. “Do we have the time? Let’s just use our imagination.”
“Oh God!” I exclaimed. “She forgot tomatoes!”
We sliced the tomatoes up and pushed them into our mixing bowl.
“And potatoes! I see them sliced up on that plate.”
Added the potatoes.
“What about coriander leaves? I have seen them being used to garnish dishes. They look exquisite. They taste great too.”
Plus coriander.
“Don’t they write on ready-to-eat mixture packets to add as many veggies as one likes? Paneerballs would be just ultimate.”
Plus paneerslices.
“You know, Chinese preps are void without ketchup. We must use that.”
Plus ketchup. And more ketchup. We had a huge bottle of it that was rarely used (because of the simple reason that sauces are condiments and not vegetables, something we were to realize later). So, this seemed like a chance to really use it. In our enthusiasm, we kind of poured in a little too much. So much so that the rest of it was swimming in ketchup.
“Ketchup can’t go wrong,” he told me confidently looking at my panicked face. “It’s always the best.”

Half an hour was already up. We somehow formed the batter into globular structures and plopped them into the simmering gravy. 
There! A job well done! How utterly delicious it looked when we poured it out onto a gravy boat! My brother made as if to taste it and I didn’t stop him. He deserved it this time. Before he had time to react to it, I had already taken a spoonful to admire our handiwork.
Then we looked at each other.
“I don’t think potatoes form a part of gravy balls,” he told me in an accusatory tone.
“Neither do coriander leaves for that matter. They are so awfully kadai paneerish!” I retorted.
“And by the way, ketchup is over-hyped,” he said.
“You have no idea how much,” I agreed and ran to fetch my phone.
Tapping furiously, I hunted for the tiny owlish icon-the TinyOwl app on my screen. We had no choice but to order Manchurian gravy from a nearby Chinese takeaway. We had ruined the dish. Thanks to TinyOwl, the order arrived just in time for dinner and we somehow managed to cloak our goof-up.

After the ketchup experiment on mom’s birthday, we didn’t go near the ketchup bottle for weeks. The tangy taste on our tongue did not leave us so easily.
I told you, culinary skills have a lot more to do with math. Andaza is a tough concept to master. And ‘two‘ many cooks can spoil the broth too, you see!

 I am participating in “Food Tales with Tiny Owl” at IndiBlogger.

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It happens only in India

I bet the makers of Masaan didn’t imagine that within a few weeks of its release, it will inspire people so much as to make its story transition from reel to real. But then it is incredible India we are talking about.

The moral police is always out to catch people spreading ‘public indecency’even when there is no law against marital rape yet. A case in point being the Mumbai police raiding a hotel and dragging consenting adults out of their rooms and making them parade in a ‘walk of shame’ out in the street. Exploiting the communication gap between kids and their parents in Indian families, the moral police is out to make some quick bucks with a simple warning- “will tell your mom!” Out of humiliation, fear of public opprobrium and disquietude in the family, they pay up becoming victims to the racket that has been aptly documented in films like Masaan. Some even contemplate suicide. India is sui generis in the sense that there are kiss protests where the police finds it necessary to use tear gas; extra policing on Valentine’s day to prevent any stray hand holding or lip locking, whereas no heads turn when a woman is assaulted on a street in broad daylight. Even in a bustling metropolis like Mumbai, beef is banned, liquor has its restrictions, books are taken off the shelves for their ‘incendiary’ content and now they are out to police your private activities. Will there be slaying of liberal bloggers next inspired by countries of the likes of Korea and Bangladesh? It looks like the Big Brother is watching you…

A Tale of Two Countries
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”

Charles Darnay is about to be guillotined owing to his direct lineage to the Marquis of a French estate. Is he responsible for the torment and the repression inflicted on the French peasants by the former Marquis who is now dead? 
But who will explain this to the angry mob of France which is baying for blood? Years of torture has brought out this evil and madness in the French mob that has now the potential to feed innocents to the guillotine.

When you read ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Dickens, you unequivocally sympathize with the protagonist and the lead of the story. You must be rooting for Darnay all through the book, lamenting his incarceration and desperately wanting him to be set free.

Cut to 2015. The clouds of the 1993 Mumbai blasts hover over this man spelling death for him. The brother of a mafia don (who is the prime suspect and seen as the mastermind behind the attacks), this man comes to India to clear his name uncannily like Darnay believing in the power of truth and justice (although the current blast convict is no saint; there is evidence of him being involved in smuggling; however he may not be a mass murderer as per the journalists, who made it their business to look deep into the matter, found). And now he stands on the threshold of being hanged. (Did Dickens get a premonition of the entire thing?!) 

These are the best of times; these are the worst of times… 

Sydney Carter’s good Samaritanism saved the day in Dickens’ novel. But what will be the fate of this man who is part of a world of not fiction, but facts? 
Has the Dickens of our world’s story cooked up something for him? 
Or is our world way too real and unforgiving to have any of the drama and clemency that’s prevalent in the world of fiction? 
One can only wait and watch…

A Tribute…

This is NOT a comment, although the larger heading says so. Like everyone else, I wanted to pay a humble tribute to the man of the stars and the man of the people.

I don’t know how to start this. I wanted to write something the moment my phone pinged and I read the newsflash. No title and no opening lines seem to befit the man – the national icon – the trailblazer – the rock star of science. I knew the moment the news of the demise reached us, social media would be fraught with messages, condolences and eulogies by one and all. And not one individual would have a bitter thing to say about the Missile Man, the Students’ Ideal, the People’s President, the man who revamped Indian astronomy.

Could we call him the Carl Sagan of India? Perhaps. But Mr. Kalam was in a class of his own. He had his characteristic coiffure, his simple and high ideals, his untiring efforts and dedication towards his domain of work. He was the quintessential Indian scientist. Of the likes of CV Raman, Susruta and JC Bose. He wore many hats- those of a thinker, philosopher, teacher, author and many such, elegantly and admirably so. When the name is APJ Abdul Kalam, one, whoever that one be, can’t help feeling a tinge of pride and a surge of inspiration. No barriers of caste, class or religion come to mind. Only the inspiring man with a humble background and an illustrious life. The son of a fisherman, who ferried Hindu pilgrims ashore, Mr. Kalam’s life story is more surreal and beautiful than a carefully written piece of fiction. It seems as if each detail of his life had been intricately carved so as to inspire millions with its simplicity and greatness.

The 11th President of India, the Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna awardee, Mr. Kalam is forever alive via his views, quotes, ideas and messages. In 2005, Switzerland declared May 26 as ‘Science Day’ to commemorate Dr Kalam’s visit to the European country. With his ardent devotion and his vision for ‘India 2020’, he took the country on space missions and missile launches, on unprecedented advancements in technology and on projects of the skies and the heavens. We are proud to have had a scientist president. How many countries can boast of that?

Mr. Kalam’s recent publication- ‘Transcendence…’ had barely hit the book stands; he was elucidating the concept of a ‘pure planet’ to the students of IIM – Shillong when a massive cardiac arrest struck him and cut short his worldly voyage. The loss couldn’t be greater and couldn’t be more greatly felt. The man had a lot of life left in him. 

As I closed my eyes during the minutes of silence observed at my workplace on the death of the great man, I wondered that this man of the stars has reached his stars today. When Oct 15 dawns this year as the sixth World Students’ Day and the first one sans his presence, we hope that many such Kalams are born. It’s a fitting tribute to the man with ‘wings of fire’.