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Aaditya and Me by Aditya Joshi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License

Friday, February 29, 2008

Extending Bayesian Filters to Personalization

You log into your email account. You have multiple folders - you realize that the emails from some Mr. X (the hot guy you met at a friend's birthday party) have been transferred to the 'Personal' folder.

You get up one morning. And see that your microwave oven has already 'switched itself on' now that it knows that you wake up every morning at 6 o' clock.

You insert your ATM card and realize that the appropriate option is selected according to your preferred patterns of operation.

Probabilistic reasoning works well in a large number of areas - the probability of Karan Johar movies being loud and emotional, the probability of me spilling my coffee, the probability of Meer ( a classmate and a good friend.) getting late for college and the probability of Janardan laughing loudly, they are all very high.

So, could we design a personalized coffee holder that helps me hold my cup tightly? Could we design a personalized alarm clock that keeps irritating Meer so that he finally learns to reach college on time?

That's how Bayesian filters can be extended to personalization.

Name of the Study Paper: Extending Bayesian filters to Personalization
By: Aaditya Joshi, Mihir Kachalia, Janardan Kelkar
Under the guidance of: Prof. Mrs. Kavita M Kelkar, Dept. of Computer Engg, KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Vidyavihar.
Status: Work in progress.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Death is when the breath slows down. The heart looses momentum. The blood turns cold. The hands go numb.

Death is when the senses subside, the eyes cease to see.

But what is death?
An event? That goes on for a couple of minutes? When a body looses its driving force?

Or a phase? That goes on for an indefinite time - minutes, days, months or years? When the driving force passes from one body to another?

What is it that all of us are undergoing? A cycle? Or a journey?

In either cases, death is certainly... a checkpoint. A milestone. To check how far one has come. And how far one has to travel further.


The car breaks down in the middle of the highway - we blame it on destiny. The examination results do not come out well - we say it was just not in your destiny.

A broken friendship, brooding hearts, failure - we all attribute this to destiny. The destiny that we think lies with the eternal entity superior to us mortals. The entity that we call God.

Destiny is what you carry in your closed fists - the lines on your palm. Destiny is what you show the world on your forehead. Destiny is the stains on the tea cup that you leave back. Destiny is the symbol on the tarot card when you pull one out from a stack. Destiny is the position of the planets the moment you were born.

Man, in the pursuit of destiny, forgets that the destiny lies within him. Blinded by the faith in the external superior entity, man forgets that a part of that entity resides within him as well.

I raise my eyebrows and the lines on my forehead change in a moment.

Imagine what would happen if I used the energy of this superior entity within me...

The little roses

The little roses were born in a garden. They bloomed on a Sunday morning with all their might. A man carefully plucked them.

They rested in a basket with many others like them. Few of them passed several hands, until they reached her hands.

She placed them in a bucket full of water. The roses waited.

Three hours later, I walked by and asked the lady to make a bouquet for me. The lady carefully selected the roses and tucked them together in a small pot. Covered them with a shiny transparent plastic.

The roses were given to my brother for his birthday. The roses were the bridge that connected two people.

This is, in the truest sense of the word, dying for the cause one was born for.

Why are we humans, then, so scared of dying?

The side of the line

I am an Indian. Because I am standing on this side of the line.

I love Hindi films. Because I am standing on this side of the line.

I saw people's faces glowing. That was because of the side I was standing on. The sun was right behind me and they shone in its light.

And I was sad the sun didn't shine on my face.

But the people on the other side noticed that the sun was constantly following me, supporting me, day in and day out.

It was just the side they were standing on that they could see it.

There's nothing right or wrong in the world. It's just the side you are standing on.


Little moments of joy, I collected them drop by drop. I put them together, stored them. And I saw the jar filling up day after day. And one day, the jar overflowed...

...and washed away my tears!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gender bias

A leading software company has sent out letters to placement incharges of different colleges in Mumbai asking them to send information about female students of the college. This was with regards to a unique and a rather quirky way in which the company intends to celebrate the women's day.

The company announced that it would visit different colleges (specifically in this case, some colleges in Mumbai) and recruit 'only female students'. And this on-campus drive is once per batch.

The male students of the same batch will NOT get to appear for the recruitment process on-campus for the company.

This is certainly not women empowerment. Women empowerment does not call for crippling the moustached sex.

This is unfair.

And this company is Microsoft.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The mirrors called eyes

When I step out of my house, I don't look into the mirror. Instead, I look into my mom's eyes. Her eyes give me my answer.

Eyes are much deeper than the brown rings and the iris.

Eyes pierce within your heart and can connect.

Eyes hurt sharper than a knife.

Eyes are the greatest healer - and the greatest weapon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A cup of milk

Milk! Something that is close to everyone who has been ten years old. Some of us have loved it, some of us have troubled our moms for it. I remember, my mom used to run behind me with a glass of milk. The glass would generally have mickey mouse on it - with the hope that atleast the sketched rodent would tempt me drink it. The point I am making is, Love it, hate it, you can't ignore it.

I once asked a child going down the street, "What does milk contain?" The child answered promptly, "Bournvita!" Now, the question you'd ask me is - which guy with brain in his skull would ask a child what milk contains... If we ignore this doubt, we would see the point I am making.

For the ones who hate milk, it is poured into glasses with mickey mouse on it, flavours are added to it. But milk you cannot miss!

You don't generally go 'cheers' with milk. But let me raise a toast (for milk) for all the lovely memories of my childhood!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Window to the Future

Man has been curious - about stars, about life beyond earth, about life after death, about interiors of the earth, about caves and glaciers. Man has wanted to know what he doesn't. And arguably the most common of them all is knowing about one's future.

We have fortune tellers that carry parrots in cages and the parrot picks a card for you. We have analysts who study for years together, the planetary motion and their influence on lives of people. There are tarot card readers who silently answer vital questions.

Look at a person's expression when he/she has his hand held by a fortune-teller. Irrespective of how good-looking the fortune-teller is, the person has excitement on his face. And the questions on one's mind range from examination results to family pressure. Or even something crazier.

These forms of study provide a window to the future. The future that we all want to step in - only if it is going to be pleasant. But the need for having a window to the future stems from one's dissatisfaction from the present.

When the room gets dark, you want a window made to the room. But one must remember that a window in the direction of a noisy place will add to noise inside the room.

Wrong windows used to get to know about the future will only cause harm to oneself.

The right ones will bring in light, breeze. And the room of the present will light up into something brighter!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Commas and spaces

Relationships often have commas and spaces.

You keep expecting something in a comma. The person is looking at you - and you so wish he'd say something.

You do not know what to expect in a space. In the same room, but being ignored.

Commas hurt. Spaces hurt more.

All relationships - friendships suffer from commas which grow into spaces. And before one realizes, a full-stop appears.

The Combinations

"Aadi.. will a brown tie look good on my grey shirt?"
"Should I wear danglers or should I wear earrings?"
"Aadi... this blazer doesn't look gaudy right?"
These 'days' are the only times when engineering students take suggestions about colour and dressing combinations. For people who allegedly wear any shirt with any pant throughout the year get fashion-conscious on these 'days' at college. And these 'days' can be anything from the common 'traditional day' to 'mix n match day'. (I know of a friend who wore a shirt, a cowboy hat, a tie and a lungi for this one)
And when one has 'tie/sari day' at college - that's like an ocassion of the year. The chicks go on a shopping spree and end up burning a big hole in their dads' pockets. The guys turn metrosexual all of a sudden and want to try all sorts of tings they have seen in movies. For engineering guys, it's mostly the English movies that serve as a source of inspiration (I am an exception there.)
And it's not just about the dressing combinations - photographs are clicked in multiple combinations. With different number of friends, at different places, with different expressions on their faces.

These photographs are the melting pot of these people- combinations of people, cultures, colours, social background, preferences, choices, passions. All under the same roof. All in the same edges of the lens of the camera.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sublime and subliminal

When I see the forests, I see the green trees as old as centuries. The veins that twirl around them and rest firmly against their trunk. I see the shrubs that cover the earth - the very place they have grown from.
When I see sprawling beaches, I see the grains of sand changing places every single moment. I see water splashing against the sand - perhaps acknowledging the way the sand has been persistently adjusting to the change. And I see the water going warm as the sun enters it deep.
I see a flight of birds flying in a distinct V. I see animals of different shape, sizes and colours all over the place.
The human race is a small part of this enormous entity that we call 'nature'. And while we try our best to 'control' the world, we as humans fail to understand that there is something that is above us.
Maybe this 'something' is not what created us..
Maybe this 'something' is not what controls us..
This 'something' is for sure something that has been keeping the forces of nature going. Centuries after centuries, certain things on the earth remain the same - while some things change.
This something could be God. This something could be the Law of nature.
But this something if, for sure, something very subliminal. Something that has existed for eternity and something that is so supreme that we cannot even be in awe of it.
What is this something? Intangible? Sublime? Subliminal?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan writer - and I say this because his novels have a distinct flavour of Afghanistan. The country me, as a person from India, has never been in touch with. With the lyrical words that he weaves his story with, Khaled convincingly portrays Afghanistan before our eyes.

As the story unfolds, Khaled introduces you to aspects of Afghanistan - aspects that one can relate to. It is not only the geographical makeup of Afghanistan but also the social setting which Khaled brings forth us.

The element of friendship is strong in both of his books that I have read - 'The Kite Runner' and 'A thousand splendid suns'. Friendships that span different ages and different periods in time - and friendships that endure a thousand tribulations.

The first book speaks about casteism while the second has the status of women in the Afghan society. Hence, Khaled interleaves a story with the social setup of Afghanistan.

What both these books have strongly is the Afghan-Taliban dispute. The turning point in both the tales arrives during the advent of Taliban in Afghanistan and the resultant war. Both the stories undergo a sea change when the war begins and this does not fail to move you. And it surely gives the reader a fair idea of the intensity of impact the war has had on the citizens of the country.

It is the success of the writer whose prolific talent enables him to realize Afghanistan of his childhood and adolescence before our eyes!

'The Kite Runner', Highly recommended.
'A thousand splendid suns', ditto.

A day of joy

Today was a day of joy. Whatever some people say or comment, I was extremely happy. :-)

Days like these are indeed a bliss.

My love for cricket

Cricket, the game India swears for. The game that sends people in a trance. The game that is discussed from newspapers to local trains.

Cricket, the gentleman's game. Cricket.. what?

I remember the days when these guys in my building would try and convince me into playing cricket. I would often be handed a bat and be bowled to. I would, however, keep staring at the ball and more often than not, hold the bat downside up.

And I ran like a lady carrying a pair of quadruplets. I could never finish a run - and was almost always the one who got out on a duck.

I started avoiding the game - because I would be the person people did not want in their team. That's when I decided I did not want to be on the team!

So when someone says 'cricket', the first thing I visualize is an insect that is known to sing at nights!

Monday, February 11, 2008


Adjectives compartmentalize and adjectives are judgemental. My grammar textbook defines an adjective as a word that describes a noun. And there are some adjectives which get connected to some nouns like never before. We have all heard of the cunning fox, the timid hare and the mighty lion.
The most common adjectives in the world are 'good' and 'bad' - we easily and often unwittingly, classify people as good or bad.

And more adjectives keep coming. "He is very selfish", I say and get done with it. Do adjectives like these do any good?

Will anyone in this world ever be described by a single world? Will anyone in the world be only selfish? or only kind? Or only intelligent?

We all are not made in a single dimensions, there are so many aspects of a human's personality. We all are - multifaceted.

And that is an adjective too.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Touch wood

I make faces, I hug my mom. I sleep late. I yawn loudly. I feel upset when a friend is in trouble. I love toilet humour.

I miss my school days and often go through the pictures. I help mom with cooking and cleaning. I love to go shopping for clothes. I love dining out. I make faces - twitch my eyebrows, twist my neck.

I am vague when I write, I am polite when I speak. I am warm when I smile. I am confident when I walk. I am calm when I sleep. I am focussed when I read.

The world believes pretence and manners are synonyms. I have broken this rule long back. I am rude, insensitive. But real.

What you see is what I am. I am the me within me. And thank god I am like this! Touch wood!!


A hibiscus has a long nose. That reaches out to the air. It calls out the air to come closer.

A sunflower is obsessed with the sun. A man cannot stare at the sun in the eye - the sunflower does it all its life, day after day.

A rose conceals itself in number of layers.You take a lot of time to uncover the layers and possibly, you would never be able to unleas them all.

The periwinkle is an epitome of symmetry. Five petals of the same shape.

Humans are friendly - like the hibiscus. Passionate - like the sunflower. Complicated - like the rose.Balanced- like the periwinkle...

Or perhaps, flowers are human too.

The Red Fort in my eyes

It was dark but the night had just set in. It was a crowded street - autorickshaws, cars, cycles and bikes all over the place. The sky was not clearly visible - what obstructed the view was a network of haphazardly arranged wires.
It was not 'traffic' on the road - it was 'chaos'. As me, Siddharth and Bhaumik crossed the road, I saw a brown structure before my eyes.
I felt something in my gut. It was not a familiar feeling. I experienced an unusual heavy feeling in my stomach.
I turned my eyes away from the Red Fort. I was feeling better.
Then Bhaumik asked me to click his snap against the Red Fort. My hands were shaking as I did that...

I could not look at the Red fort. The Red Fort was glaring back at me...

Thursday, February 07, 2008


There were times when I caught a cold - it's probably taking a revenge now. The cold's caught me - all of us actually. It gets so cold these days!!

The newspapers say that the temperature in Mumbai dropped below 10 degrees for the first time in the last 46 years!

And for the first time in the last 46 years, (an hyperbole of sorts) I felt cold in Mumbai and I had to wear a jacket - not out of flaunting it but as a bare necessity. Naah, can't call it a 'bare' necessity - I was far from that with three layers of clothing!!

But I so love these chilly breezes and the shivers they bring to you!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ward no. 2106 - SERIES 10

Disclaimer - The story is a work of fiction. The names of characters and places are imaginary. So are the incidents described.

The story till now: Kanika's father arrives and tries to talk to Kanika amicably. Kanika is, however, rude to him. A new patient arrives - he is the person who also met with an accident the day Kanika did. This twenty-something patient has lost his memory and a child.

He was wearing a white kurta and pyjama - something the hospital had provided him. He sat on his bed, his legs spread out, his hands on his lap and his eyes into a blank spot somewhere. He was sipping on a glass of water for the last ten minutes.

He could move around and was normal physically, except for a few glitches. But, something had drained him off - his memory. He did not remember absolutely anything. He got up. Went to the window, the same window where Parvati aaji sat couple of days back looking at her photo album.

He was looking outside. He had been told that he had lost a child in the accident the two had met with, together. He closed his eyes - and tried to remember what the child looked like. He thought he would remember, the child's face, the child's name. He couldn't.

He had been told by Inspector Sumer Khan who had come to interrogate him that nobody had yet claimed the child's body. And the day someone did, he would get to know about himself as well.

He waited for that day. The day he would see his people, whoever they were. The day he would have some memories, any memories to live with. But, all he saw was pitch-black darkness. A tear rolled out of his closed eyes down his cheek on the granite platform of the window.

Parvati Aaji saw all this and she remembered that day. That day, her mind was filled with a gushing crowd of memories - and she had tears. And today this man in front of her had no memories at all - and he had tears too.

He came out of his blank trance when he heard Kanika talking to James.

"Why the hell did you call dad here?"

"Kanika, don't use those words here. It's a public place! And I called your dad here, because he is your dad. He deserves to know and he deserved to be with us. And what did you do, you shooed him off?!", James tried to explain.

"Hello! I don't need him. And I decide whether I need him or not. If you can't take care of me and if you want to transfer the burden to someone else, you don't need an excuse. Just get lost and don't come here again!! You'll get rid of me that way!", Kanika shouted - loud enough to be heard by everyone in the ward.

James was extremely embarassed by what she said. He put a brave front though, "Kanika, I am the only person here, mind you."

"Oh, so do you mean to tell me how lonely and boring I am? No thanks, I don't need you. Get lost, James. Just get lost at once!"

"Kanika....", James' eyes shined with the tears they carried.

"I don't want to see you here James. I did not expect this from you. I thought you respected my opinion. and my decisions. You didn't. James, just leave..."

James left the ward. Parvati Aaji looked at Kanika. Kanika couldn't look at her in the eye though.

That night, Dr. Umesh came for his daily rounds. Parvati Aaji asked him, "How many days left for you to be shifted to another ward?"

"Two. I have to resume duty in the other ward from Monday.", Dr. Umesh said.

"Hey, cheer up! You can anyways come and meet me right. I am going to be here for a couple of months, Shri said.", Parvati Aaji explained.

Dr. Umesh nodded. There was something on his mind - that he couldn't tell her. She had noticed that too. But she knew, one day, he would. She had that faith in the unnamed friendship the two shared.

She told Dr. Umesh in a hushed voice, "That guy there, is very sad. He keeps looking out of the window."

Dr. Umesh nodded, "Yes, he is undergoing an acute depression. That's why things are complicated for him. He is being supervised by a psychiatrist. He will be fine."
And Dr. Umesh left.

The man got up from his bed, came towards Parvati Aaji. In a broken sentence, he said, "Namaste... daadi maa!"

Parvati aaji joined her hands, like she always did and said "Namaste".

"Is Doctor Umesh your relative?", he asked.

Parvati Aaji nodded, "No, not at all. I just knew him since the day I came to this ward. He is a nice fellow."

"Oh, that's really surprising. The two of you spoke like you knew each other well."

"Yes, we do. So what if he isn't my relative?!", Parvati Aaji said proudly.

"I see....", the guy took a rather long pause and I said, "You know I don't remember anything right?"

"Yes, my child, I do. You'll be fine.."

"I saw you looking at me this evening when I was at the window. By any chance, do you know me?", the man asked. He had a helpless expression on his face. He wanted to meet someone who knew him - someone who could tell him who he was.

"I don't know you. But you will find soon, ..... what's your name?", Parvati Aaji asked, unable to realize her mistake.

"I...don't remember.", the man said.

Parvati aaji nearly bit her tongue and said, "Oh, let's have a name for you then! What do you say?"

"What name?", the helpless expression on the man's face subsided.

"Mmm.. let's call you... Krishna!", Parvati Aaji said.

The man's face broke into a smile. "Krishna...", he repeated the name he had been given.

He had instantly connected with this stranger lady. And that's because she had given him something he could remember. Some name, atleast.

He repeated the name that night before going to sleep. He had something to remember. How he met this old lady, how she was concerned about him. And how she identified the need for him to have a name. And how she named him!

After several nights together, he slept calmly. Krishna had one incident to remember now.

Hundred and One

Dear Mirror,
As I speak to you for the hundred and first time, I remember the day I saw you before my eyes - all thanks to Harish. When I saw you, I wondered - was it you or was it me myself.

I fail to understand what the difference is, between this mirror, the reflection it shows and the person itself. In this case, the three are now incomplete without each other.

The mirror opened a new mode of expression for me. I was so happy that I could now decide what the reflection showed. I could decide what I looked like in the reflection. Whether I was a mighty lion or a brave warrior or a frail creature.

As time passed, I got to know - that the reflection was changing me. I was not controlling what my reflection said, the reflection was teaching me a great deal of things.

And the learning procedure continued post after post. The reflection in the mirror started becoming clearer - and the person on the other side became cleaner too.

Dear mirror, I may have shaped you. But you have helped me redefine myself - through the reflection that you continued to give me time and again.

Dear mirror, thank you for telling me what I am. Thank you for introducing me to myself - all over again.

Dear mirror, thank you for being this blog I love so much.


Unsung efforts

The crackers light up the sky at night. Their bodies burst into a thousand pieces while somebody on the earth celebrates his joy.

The candle that gives you light in a dark room is burning. It is dying to give you that light.

A superhero in a movie looked like a Greek God because of the men who fixed up the cranes and the cameras around him.

A successful person is often successful because his parents left no stone unturned to help him.

And often, the man who celebrates on the earth, the superhero in the movie and the successful person often forget these unsung efforts...


She had the face of a baby, eyes of a deer and the courage of a tigress. Her smile was sheepish though. When she spoke, she meant it - the words were thought of, several times before they were spoken.

She was born in a village in Rajasthan. Married at the age of twelve, all she had known and expected from life is being dependent. Dependent on her husband and her in-laws. Her husband loved her dearly. But more than that, to her, he was her freedom. She could walk without the pallu on her head and dance to Bollywood numbers.

She was serving his parents religiously when one day, hell broke loose. She made a call to him and was told that he had been killed by his roommate at his workplace. The world changed for her. She was not just a daughter-in-law now - she was a widow too.

She was locked up in a room for seven days - that was the custom and she had no option. She had to stay quiet in a dark room and mourn her husband's death. The session of mourning was, however, going to continue for the rest of her life. She was to wear dark blue clothes, not dress up, not attend weddings. She was to be a servant of her family.

Until one day, when she became friends with this lady from Shimla. This girl Zeenat was strong-willed and knew what she was doing. This girl taught her how to face and live life, the way one wants.

And one day, she got to know that this lady had an intention behind being friends with her. Her husband had been killed at the hands of Zeenat's husband. And now, Zeenat begged her to sign a document - that would forgive her husband of the crime and give him life.

She had a difficult decision to make. The rein of somebody's life was in her hand now. Somebody who had been dependent all her life was going to decide somebody's fate - somebody's life. and somebody's death...

My interpretation of a masterpiece of recent times, Dor.

Brain drain

The attraction for the West has been a part of the typical Indian mindset for generations now. While the youth of the pre-independence period had a Gandhiji to ask them to give up foreign-made cloth ('videshi kapda' was the term used.), the youth of today have numerous counsellors who guide them about the universities abroad. And the charges of these counsellors run into figures greater than 15K.

'Brain drain' is the phenomenon of motion of intellectual talent from a country. In my opinion, there is no brain drain in India at all if this is the definition to be considered.

My country India will not be sad if her people leave her to work abroad. She would be proud - since even if the brain drains out, their hearts would still be with their homeland.

What my country India abhors is the attitude of some of them - who study in Indian schools and colleges and who move to out to some place abroad and look down upon her. And who later speak at conferences about the 'causes of Indian poverty' - without trying to do anything about it.

And my country gives up on them. If a person does not feel anything for the country he was born in, it is his loss. Definitely not the country's.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Aspects of success

Success is relative. An ant feels successful after it climbs a foot-high wall. A kindergarten kid feels successful when it is able to write A to Z on a slate.

Success is the fruit. The fruit of a long journey of hard work and tribulations. Success is, in fact, the journey itself.

Success is the ultimate source of joy. When you are successful, you are happy. But if success is a feeling, all you need to be is feel happy. That's the bull's eye!!

We need to just feel successful to feel happy! It does not mean one must stay in a fictitious made-up world! But, there is nothing wrong in feeling successful at the smallest of things if it is going to bring joy to us. Success comes from the ability to feel it!!

The French Tongue

I learned French back in 2003, precisely for two years. It is an interesting language - ''chez moi'' being my favourite line from the language. "Chez moi" consists of ''moi'' that means me and ''chez moi" means ''at my place''.

This is a weakness of the English language too. There is no single word that helps us say that. Marathi and Hindi, in this respect are stronger. Marathi has 'Maajhyaakade' and Hindi has 'Mere yahaan'.

But as time passed, French language began betraying me. Often, I would ask 'What is your name?' in place of 'How are you' - the two lines sound close in French.

And then, I would blame it on slip of the tongue - the slip of the French tongue!! (pun intended.)

I still love the French tongue... and I plan to regain it after a few months.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Accusations are made in different forms.

The bravest form of accusation used to be court cases. That's when you back your arguments with proofs. But with the court cases piling up over the years, the people who accused forget all about it.

Accusations are made face-to-face - like they have in our TV serials and movies. Accusations of these kinds are like ripples on the surface of water. They produce more disturbance than the depth.

The worst form of accusations are gossips. Say anything about anyone in any damn way you think of. Imagination soars high as people vent their frustration and jealousy.

Accusations of this form hurt. And people who do that are the ones I hate.

Ward no. 2106 - SERIES 09

Disclaimer - The story is a work of fiction. The names of characters and places are imaginary. So are the incidents described.

The story till now: James calls up at Kanika's place and tells them about the accident. Dr. Umesh is sad as he will be shifted to another ward. Parvati Aaji is taking medicines when Kanika's father arrives.

Parvati Aaji said joining her hands to Kanika's father, "Namaskar. I am Parvati Damle. Nice to meet you. Kanika is a sweet girl and was quite happy when James called you."

He did not know how to react. He made an attempt to smile and joined his hands too.

Parvati aaji smiled, "Please sit Mr. Mukherji. Kanika is sleeping - and James is out somewhere. Do you want me to get water for you?"

Mr. Mukherji was still baffled - he did not know this lady. He plainly nodded.

Parvati Aaji walked towards the water cooler with a glass in her hand as she said, "You don't know me. I am just a patient here. I am admitted here. Yes, I don't look ill. But I am admitted here. Here's water for you..." She handed him the glass.

There were over fifteen minutes of silence. Kanika moved her arm. She opened her eyes. Her father sitting on Parvati aaji's bed got up. He was reluctant to move towards her - yet he did.

Kanika had woken up. Their eyes met. Kanika twitched her eyebrows. She began to breathe heavily, "You remembered me now, Mr. Mukherji?"

Kanika's dad surely did not like the way she was addressing him. But she went on speaking.

"On my college graduation day, you... you did not care to come for the convocation. The day I gave a treat to ..."

"Kanika, you are still into all those days? It's been so many years now. Grow up, child..."

"Grow up?!", Kanika screamed, "I grew up at the age of twenty. When I was sent to a boarding school. I kept begging to stay - but you! You were stone-hearted then. And the day I left Kolkata..."

"Kanika, you need to get out of the past. We are your parents..."

"..who have not done anything a parent should have?"

"What are you saying? What do you mean by that? If I didn't care, would I come all the way here?", Mr. Mukherji had a grimace now.

As the two kept rambling, the wardboys hurried into the ward. Parvati Aaji did not want to be nosey and so, she pretended to sleep while Kanika kept complaining to her father. One thing Parvati aaji could really understand was that Kanika was brooding more than upset. And she surely felt pity for the poor girl.

Some time later, Parvati Aaji fell asleep. She could not pretend to be asleep for long.

After some time, James entered the ward with a bag of fruits in his hand - Kanika loved apples and she had brought some for her. He saw two new people in the ward. One, Mr. Mukherji, Kanika's father. and second, a new patient.

The new patient was a man in his late twenties. He had stubble which was an indication that he had been unwell for atleast two weeks.
That night, when Dr. Umesh came for his daily round of checkup, he provided James with some information, "He is the person who was also a victim in the accident that happened with Kanika.", " He lost his child in the accident. And he lost his memory too."

As Dr. Umesh was done with all the checkups, he came back to James and told him in a hushed voice, "He remembers absolutely nothing. He is currently being funded by some NGOs. Let's see. He was in the ICU till now. He's been shifted here now."

James looked at that man. He could relate to him. The man's life had been connected to this stranger's life. This stranger wearing baggy jeans and a navy blue shirt was looking at him with concern. This stranger was James. The stranger knew that inadvertently, they had crossed paths in life. And this stranger did not know - that life was about to play a different game very soon.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Different - A Poem

I am writing a poem after a long time. I had written this poem long back. But I just lost the paper somewhere. But thoughts, they are captured in the mind .

The human mind is amazing. We look at the ant and see that it's so tiny - ever wondered what the ant must be feeling when it looks at you? Ever wondered what a magnificent sight it must be for the Sun as it sees the entire world every day!!

The poem is addressed to my mom and coincidentally it is her birthday today...

I looked at the stars
throughout the night
I was scared of the dark
When you were out of sight
Mom, I am different.

I never played in mud
never liked my hands dirty
And I had colour pencils
more than atleast a thirty..
Mom, I am different.

Why I played with words,
Why I stayed alone,
Why I liked to dance,
Why I simply loved purple,
Mom, I am different.

I looked into your eyes
There was something I had
deep in my heart, hidden
That I wanted to tell you..
But couldn't.
Mom, I am different.

I have always wanted to tell you,
I am different,
and I don't need a poem to say
what I have to..
But I will..
I am different!

Colours of India -Kokanastha Brahmins

At the onset, let me clear something, I do not believe in caste supremacy. But yes, "being secular does not mean being non-religious", is what one of the news channels carried the other day. So, I introduce my community - The Kokanastha Brahmins - or as they call themselves, Kobra.

Kobras are characterized by their grey-green eyes and that they are very fair. But yes, I know Kobras who are an exception in both the cases. I am one.

Personality traits: Kobras are supposed to be of European origin - while some theories believe they are Israelis. The religious fable though says that Shri Parshuram, the originator of the community found fourteen bodies floating on the sea near Konkan. When he placed them on the funeral pyre, they came to life and formed the fourteen sects of Kobras - called the 'gotra's.

Kobras are essentially conservative. A kobra guy essentially drops his jaws when he sees a guy and a girl holding hands on a street. A kobra maavshi (mausi - maternal aunt) essentially raises her eyebrows when she gets to know her nephew has a 'female friend'. Sadly, I also know of kobras who are not very open about being friends with people of other communities which is quite sad.

To add to it, Kobras are intelligent and have assumed high positions in the information technology field. An 'Ekaranti' Kobra is a kobra whose surname ends with a 'e' - like Nene, Lele and Athavale - and they are supposed to possess the Kobra traits more clearly than the rest.

Language: Kobras are articulate. They speak with clarity. Kobras have been forward-looking - they have long adopted the nasal twang which later Himess Ressamiyaa made famous! Kobras love their language and often translate sentences from Marathi. "you are coming no?" is a sentence only a Kobra guy can say - with the 'no' at the end synonymous with 'naa' in Marathi.

Food: Maharashtrian food comprises of puran poli and a wide variety of other dishes. Kobras are pure vegetarians and have some typical dishes. Modak is a Kobra dish - so is, Feni (not the drink you get in Goa. And not the seviyaan . Both of these are made from rice flour - not a surprising factor since Konkan is predominantly a rice cultivating area.

Dress: The traditional Kobra attire for men consists of a red pagadi - worn by Lokmanya Tilak in all his photographs, dhoti and baaraabandi (meaning twelve knots to be tied to close this kurta.). For women, it is the nine yards-long sari.
The urban Kobras have obviously adapted to the modern ways of dressing - but the subtleness of life seeps in to the style of dressing as well. I am an exception here, according to some of my friends!

Celebs: Lokmanya Tilak, Veer Savarkar were among the leading Indian freedom fighters - they were Kobras. Dadasaheb Phalke (known as the father of Indian cinema), Madhuri Dixit, Vikram Gokhale, Reema Lagoo are Kobras. Milind Soman, Aditi Govitrikar are Kobras. Sadhana Sargam is Kobra - Sadhana Ghanekar by birth.

Piracy in Bollywood

I remember Karan Johar speaking at an awards function. He stressed on the growing piracy in Bollywood. Well, my addition to it is, piracy is not a new concept for Bollywood.

Now that we get videos of films a day before they are releaased on the roadside has become a matter of concern for the filmmakers. That's termed 'video piracy'.

But the filmmakers have forgotten the piracy of intellectual property that has been going on for generations under the name of 'creative liberty'. We have umpteen number of films in Hindi based on original English movies. And these new filmmakers have not even bothered to acknowledge the original ones.

The name 'Bollywood' itself is lifted from Hollywood, isn't it?! What piracy is Monsieur Johar talking about then? The piracy of Hollywood ideas that he has used in his own films? Or the emulation of the western world in the form of NRIs in every film of his?

What are the filmmakers going to do to stop this piracy?

Ward no. 2106 - SERIES 08

Disclaimer - The story is a work of fiction. The names of characters and places are imaginary. So are the incidents described.

The story till now: Kanika's alcohol and drug reports say that she was not responsible for the accident. James is relieved. Then, Parvati Aaji asks him to call Kanika's parents. With much persuasion, he agrees.

"Hello.. Am I speaking to Mr. Mukherji", it was James talking on the phone, "Hello Mr. Mukherji. I am James Smith speaking.... uhh, yes... Sir, I actually called you for a specific reason.... Kanika met with an accident... no, she's fine now... I am... I am taking care of her."

"Yes, the address is K K Damle Hospital...." and James gave Kanika's dad the address and hung up.

James was feeling lighter. He looked at Parvati Aaji. She was sitting on her bed and was cutting her nails. She smiled. "See, it was so simple! It was just one step away!!"

Kanika looked at Parvati Aaji and spoke. The first few seconds, Parvati Aaji did not realize Kanika was talking to her - she had never done that.

"Why don't you leave us alone?", Kanika asked, "The problems I have are my problems. I would not like to discuss them with you. Don't misdirect James just because you have a lot of time to waste!" Kanika's eyes grew bigger as she spoke.

Parvati Aaji smiled. She had a tranquil expression on her face. Kanika glared at her harder. Parvati aaji spoke, "Kanika, the fact is you are sitting opposite me on this bed in this ward. I am a part of your life for some time now, accept this or not. We care for our neighbours and you are my neighbour in the word!"

James smiled. He always knew Parvati aaji was smart with questions - he had just got an experience of that.

That evening when Dr. Umesh arrived, James happily told him that he had spoken to Kanika's dad. Dr. Umesh was certainly happy. But something seemed to be bothering him.

Later that day, he told Parvati Aaji and James, "I might be shifted to some other ward."

"Huh.. why?, Parvati Aaji asked.

"Some issues...", Dr. Umesh could not look into their eyes when he said that.

"What's wrong, Umesh?", James asked him.

"No, nothing.. just some issues.. mostly, I'll be shifted to the other ward this weekend.", Dr. Umesh was certainly not happy about it.

"Oh, come on.. that's ok. That's a part of life!! We will still come and meet you, what say, James?", Parvati Aaji cheered him up.

The next evening, Dr. Umesh was not in the ward. James was out. Kanika was sleeping. Parvati Aaji was on her bed reading a religious book. The nurse entered. She had a pack of medicines in her hand.

"Parvati aaji.. I am not going to be working tonight. Can you take these medicines tonight?", she asked.

Parvati aaji said, "Oh ya sure.. just explain me the dosage."

The nurse did that.

Parvati aaji looked at the medicine strip. Turned it around. And asked, "What are these medicines? Vitamin B complex tablets. What are they for?"

The nurse fumbled. Someone called out to her. "Excuse me... I am Shivprasad Mukherji". The nurse looked back.

A man in his late fifties stood there. He had a travelling bag in his hand. His hair were grey and he had a concern on his face.

The nurse said, "Oh, you are Miss. Mukherji's father. Please wait, I'll get the visitor's book for you. You will have to sign there."

Mr. Mukherji was looking at his daughter. His face froze as he saw her lying on her bed. Apparently, he had not seen her since long.

Parvati Aaji was looking at him. Mr. Mukherji caught her looking.

Parvati Aaji said joining her hands, the way she had to James, "Namaskar. I am Parvati Damle. Nice to meet you. Kanika is a sweet girl and was quite happy when James called you."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Colours of India - Gujaratis

Gujarat may be located in the north west region of India - Gujaratis are all over the place. All over the world. Typically identified by their thin, silky hair - which I like to call doggie hair, spotting a Gujarati guy in a crowd is easy. Look for the maximum bling. The person wearing all that is - bingo, your Gujju friend!

I know Gujaratis - because I study in a Gujarati college. In my opinion, Gujaratis are unique in many ways. Here's a testimony to their uniqueness.

Dressing: I mention this first - because it makes Gujaratis Gujaratis! My monitor has 1024 pixels per inch. A gujarati guy's shirt has ten colours per square inch. Their tastes in dressing are flamboyant. The typical way of dressing also includes draping the pallu of a saree on the right shoulder.

Language: Gujaratis are often criticised for the 'eksent'. But I feel it's balderdash! I know Gujaratis who speak fluent, neutral English! But yes, there are many others who add the flavour of Gujarati language to any other language they speak. And then we have eternally hilarious jokes like 'Let us go to the cane-teen and eat snakes' for 'Let us go to the canteen and eat snacks'.
On a serious note, Gujarati theatre is among the very few live forms of theatre that is doing well today.

Food: Gujaratis add their flamboyance to their food. Gujarati food is essentially lavish. It is heavy. It is Gujaratis that have given the country the beloved 'Farsan'. Apart from that, we all have relished undhiyu, khaakra - aah just remembered, a friend owes me a treat in Hotel Rajdhani, a Gujarati thali restaurant. If you are reading, kindly take note! (ughh, I am cheap!!) I also know a friend whose tiffin daily comprises of five - six smaller tiffin boxes.

Personality traits: Gujaratis are the businessmen. They have all the essential qualities of a businessman.

To begin with, when you enter a Gujarati man's shop, he stands up, smiles and wishes you - in your language! A gujarati guy butters you up when required and would take back all the butter he has ever given you if need be!

Sadly, the biggest jholars - the biggest frauds of the country have been done by Gujarati people - Harshad Mehta to begin with. But on the other hand, some of the country's biggest entrepreneurs are Gujaratis as well!

Famous celebs: The first name that comes to mind is Dhirubhai Ambani. Apart from that, we have a lot of actors like Satish Shah, politicians like Praful Patel who make Gujaratis proud.

Disclaimer: This article has gone a bit overboard. But yes, it is surely out of the love I have for Gujaratis!! Some of my best friends from school and college have been Gujaratis. Dedicated to Bhaumik Oza and Mihir Kachalia, friends at college and Swati Ghiya, a friend from school - all of them, really affable gujjus!!

Colours of India - Mumbai

Mumbai is the most colourful city of the country. We have South Indians, we have Maharashtrians, we have Punjabis and we have Gujaratis and many more. A person from Mumbai is peculiarly from Mumbai.
The Pav Bhaji we get in Mumbai is what we get in Mumbai. The South Indian in Mumbai is the Bambayya South Indian. He flaunts his English - since if he flaunted Tamil, nobody would understand!! The Gujarati of Mumbai is the 'urban Gujarati' - he will wear seven colours, insted of twelve.
Personality Traits: In Mumbai, you have two types of Mumbaikars - the 'recently migrated ones' and the true lovers of Mumbai. Both of them hang out at Bandstand, both of them love shopping at malls, both of them turn their necks as they stand before huge hoardings.
The 'recently migrated ones', however, continue to praise their homelands. They travel by a Mumbai local, read Mumbai Mid-day, wear a shirt from Fashion Street and say, "Haye, mera gaaon bada pyaaraa hai!"
The true lovers of Mumbai sing bhajans in trains. When they get stranded in trains, they don't complain. When the train gets late, they don't complain. When the traffic gets jammed, when the roads are dug up, they don't complain. Mumbaikars are certainly the most resilient persons on Earth.
Language: Mumbai boasts of a language only it can. Owing to the number of people living here, there is a lot of influence of different languages and cultures on the spoken language of Mumbai. "Pak raha hai" does not mean I am getting cooked - it means, I am feeling bored. And there is a long list of "lage raho....", "yeda ho gaya hai kya?"
Dressing: Mumbaikars, being a large volume of people wear a wide variety of clothes. The clearcut influence of Bollywood is seen - Himesh Reshammiya caps and Madhuri Dixit cholis are what fill the shops. Mumbai boasts of a variety of malls and its very own Fashion Street - the hubs of fashion in Mumbai.
Food: Pav Bhaji, Pani puri and the poori puri series (the uncanny resemblence to N series mobile phones can be attributed to my love for cell phones).
Famous celebs: The list is too long. Seriously!
Mumbai is a huge city with a lot of variation - Bandra, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Chembur and Vashi. They are all Mumbai and they are all a part of this throbbing heart of India!

Colours of India - Introduction

India is a colourful country - we have colours in our terrain, in our food, in our festival, in our lives. But are these colours limited to just that?

We are a country of colourful people - different people, different accents, different traits, different qualities!

India is a country of my brothers and sisters. And it is their colours that makes my country beautiful!

In the 'Colours of India', I explore these traits in people which makes us feel proud of beng an Indian!! The articles would be in good humour and be taken that way!

Jai Hind!

Credit: to a friend I chat with every day. Many times, every hour.

Ward no. 2106 - SERIES 07

Disclaimer - The story is a work of fiction. The names of characters and places are imaginary. So are the incidents described.

The story till now: James is extremely worried about Kanika. He remembers how she has reacted to situations in the past and breaks down. Parvati aaji comes near him to console him.

It was a bright Sunday morning. In the ward, however, every morning is a Sunday morning. Because in this ward are people who have come to recover. Essentially from physical ailments while many end up recovering from the disappointment and frustration that life brought to them.

Kanika was looking into James' eyes as he fed her spoon-by-spoon from a bowl of corn flakes. Occasionally, a drop of milk would spill and move down her lips. James would wipe it with a tissue he was carrying. Kanika was bedridden - for she was weak and had a ligament breakage. She had another breakage - being broken off from the world. Her questions to James only consisted of enquiries about his colleagues. She had practically no life for herself except the small advertising agency she owned. She was never friends with anyone - and would go to parties and stand in a corner.

That afternoon, Rahul, the young boy was given a discharge from the hospital. Before leaving, he made it a point to touch Parvati Aaji's feet. Kanika saw that and rolled her eyebrows with sarcasm.

As Rahul moved out of the ward, Dr. Umesh said to James, "I have a good news for you too." James had a question mark on his face.

Dr. Umesh said, "Miss. Mukherji's blood test report has been received. Her alcohol and other drug level results are within permissible limits. We have forwarded the report to the police. She is safe now!!"

James couldn't believe his ears. He sat down on his chair and was smiling to himself. Kanika hugged him. She had tears in her eyes. Dr. Umesh patted him on the back and left the ward.

Dr. Umesh had now only two patients to attend - Parvati Aaji and Kanika. He would spend all day inside the ward - instead of his cabin. James, Umesh and Parvati Aaji would go on chatting for hours.

Parvati Aaji would tell them stories of Krishna - Umesh and James were too old for all that but still loved them. James would often express his concern for Kanika and it was Dr. Umesh who would console him.

It was a common sight now with Parvati Aaji sitting at the window with one of her photo albums, James sitting opposite her and Dr. Umesh standing facing the two of them. As the twilight set in, the three shadows that fell on the floor would grow taller.

One such day, Parvati Aaji said to James, "James, do you know where Kanika's parents live?" Kanika was sleeping then. If she were awake, she would have surely gone angry. Actually, Kanika always paid attention to what the three were saying though she never participated.

"Yes, I have their phone number."

"Call them. Call them here..."

"She would not like it. They would hate me calling them as well..."

"James, look at her.", Parvati aaji pointed at Kanika. "For the last one week, I have seen this girl lying on the bed. Her eyes have gone deep, when she eats food she shivers. Do you know what she needs. She needs her parents. I am a mother myself and I know how much my son cares for me and loves me. Kanika needs her parents too."

"Aaji... but you know, there's a long story behind that...", James argued.

"James, we all have had long stories. Everyone who's alive has a past. But past is past. To help her recovery, you need to help her mental recovery as well. And there is nothing other than the people therapy that will work for her now," Dr. Umesh tried to convince James.

James said, "But.. What if I call them and she is not kind to them?"

Aaji said, "Take the first step atleast. See what happens. If it goes well, you will give her the best gift ever, trust me!!"

James was silent.

Parvati Aaji said softly and clearly, "Call her parents today. Maybe she wouldn't talk to them. But you tell them about her. And I want to talk to them. I want to tell them what a gem of a guy their daughter has found!"

Mandatory HIV test

The newspapers these days carry news of the HIV test being made mandatory. It means that a copy of the report would have to be submitted while marriages are being registered.

There lies a loophole here. Do the concerned officials mean to say that HIV positive people should not marry at all? Alternatively, do they mean that a marriage is only about making out - and you most definitely will inadvertently spread the virus??

We talk about reducing the number of AIDS cases - but what are we going to do about the people already infected with the HIV virus? Leave them in a quarantine where nobody marries them?
Is there nothing called companionship in a marriage?